I was born in the 80’s and I grew up in the 90’s. When I was very young, my mother always told me stories before I went to sleep or before I ate lunch or dinner. Some of the stories I never forgot were the one about the Hare and the Tortoise, the Ant and the Grasshopper and the ever infamous Milkmaid.
About the stories mentioned above, I have encountered relatively few children of today who know just two of the three stories. Worst still, among those few who know them (or care enough to remember them at all) fewer still are those who know them from their parents. Most of the children who know the story of the Hare and the Tortoise, the Ant and the Grasshopper and the Milkmaid just read them from books or saw them on TV as their parents were simply “too busy” with other things to tell them stories or teach them anything. There are even parents who simply say “teaching and telling stories should be a teacher’s job and our job is to pay them” and pay caretakers to look after their young ones without spending any quality time with them.
Now, I cannot blame some parents today on their approach on rearing their children. The demands of modern society can be really hard after all. But that doesn’t give them an excuse to simply allow their children free reign in their own home. It is a parent’s responsibility to instill a sense of discipline in their children after all and to teach them the wonders of growing up. It’s not simply about supporting your children financially; it’s also about supporting them emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. It’s sad to note that while many Filipinos claim to be “family-oriented”, a lot of them have forgotten the very meaning of the word “family”.
Before we go on, you may want to ask what is the relevance of the three stories I mentioned to children today. Well, you see, they aren’t just simply “stories”. These are important lessons to children as it not only entertains them but also imparts wisdom to them wrapped in a bundle of wonder. Of course, as children they might not understand immediately, but as they grow older, they learn the true meaning behind these stories.
My mother told me more than just these three stories but they are some of those that I remember best and perhaps the most relevant to our society today. How, you may ask? Well, lean in and let Uncle Grimwald tell you…
The Hare and the Tortoise
The Hare is the fastest animal in the forest and, apparently, a dick. He can easily outrun and outmaneuver even the toughest predators where he lives and makes fun of a slow-moving Tortoise as a sign of his dickery. The Hare then challenges the Tortoise to a race, confident that he could win no matter what the Tortoise did. During the race, the Hare decides he’s got a far enough lead to the Tortoise to take things easy. He tells himself that “nah, I can beat him even if he does catch up to me” and decides to take a nap on the side of the road. When he wakes up, he is utterly devastated by the discovery that the Tortoise had won the race because he had simply slept too long. In some variants of the story, the Hare even dies of frustration.
Why it’s Relevant:
Okay, just so you’ll know, South Korea was once poorer than the Philippine. As a country, it was utterly destitute and at a disadvantage to its fellow Asian countries, much like the Tortoise was at a great disadvantage against the Hare. In those days, the Philippines was very rich thanks in part to support from the United States. But thanks to the industry of the South Korean people, South Korea has risen to become one of the richest and most powerful countries of the world and is only slightly behind Japan. As for the Philippines, after we ended our association with the Americans and ever since the late 80’s the country has been heading into a downward spiral. Now, not only are we behind South Korea, we have fallen from being a model nation to an impoverished and squalid dump that’s infested with corrupt politicians and delusional citizenry.
The problem can be traced to the indolence and apathy inherent in most Filipinos and their refusal to concern themselves with things beyond their immediate vicinity. Coupled with a media that aims only to entertain its audience without informing them of what’s really going on, the Philippine is predicted to continue on its course to self-destruction.
What’s even worse is that so many Filipinos react with “Hindi pa naman tayo ang pinaka-kulelat a!” (We’re not the worst ones out there!) when faced with criticism, similar to the way the Hare thinks everything is okay just because he’s faster than the Tortoise. I often wonder if people will continue to say that when Bangladesh and Afghanistan overtakes the Philippines in terms of military, economic and academic development.
The Ant and the Grasshopper
The Ant is a hard-working dude who does his best to make a good living and saves what he accumulates at the end of every day. The Grasshopper on the other hand, was a hard-partying dude who did nothing but sing and party while the Ant struggled every day to make ends meet. One day, the Ant tells the Grasshopper: “Hey, I heard winter’s coming. Maybe you should do some work and save up for yourself.” The Grasshopper, who didn’t want to abandon his lavish lifestyle replied an approximation of: “Screw you man, it’s my life, I’ll do what I want to! Besides, there’s food everywhere! I’m never gonna starve!” Then winter came. The Grasshopper, having not saved anything for himself, died.
Why it’s Relevant:
The Grasshopper fits the sentiment of many youngsters today. Party all day, party all night with no regard to who’s money is being spent. Hippies fit the mold of the Grasshopper very well, now that I have time to think about it.
For many families today, imparting the lesson of discipline to children has almost been completely lost thanks to the apathy of parents. While the media certainly hasn’t helped in shaping the youth today into productive citizens, it’s quite clear that a lot of parents have failed to insulate their children against the wrong messages imparted by TV programs and video games. Again, if anything is to blame, it is the apathy inherent in our society and the fact people only care about what happens about their own community and are willing to screw over everyone outside it.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is 2015 and Mother Nature is becoming less and less friendly over the years. Yolanda was clear proof of her displeasure. When will we Filipinos wake up to realize that we are not living in a paradise with infinite resources. That even the boons given to us by nature have a limit and a respective price.
The Daydreaming Milkmaid and Her Pail
The Daydreaming Milkmaid and her Pail is a story about (surprise, surprise) a milkmaid. A woman who delivers milk to people in an urn she’s carrying. Having big dreams, this milkmaid dreams of selling it for half a sou and with that buy a dozen eggs which she would hatch and have a dozen chicks from them; after getting them to grow up she would have them castrated and then they would fetch five sous each, so that’d be at least a crown with which she could buy two piglets, a male and a female, and farrow a dozen more from them once they were grown, and they’d sell for twenty sous a piece after raising, making twelve francs with which she could buy a mare that would have a fine foal. She would tell her dream to everyone she met including a farmer she met on the road, another milkmaid and a boatman who rowed her across a river. Unfortunately for her, somewhere along the way, she slipped and fell and the urn she carried broke along the cobbles of the road. The milk she carried spilled to the ground, taking her dreams with it.
Why it’s Relevant:
Majority of Pinoy Pride supporters often cite that the Philippines has great potential as a nation. A potential that is, unfortunately, squandered by politicians and celebrities. As I’ve mentioned in a comment before, I think that the Philippines has a lot of resources to draw on. Like a chunk of raw metal, the Philippines and the talents of its people can be honed to make something worthwhile to its people. The Philippines has many natural resources like metal, minerals and wood to make powerful machines and works of art. The many universities that dot the country have their share of intellectuals and great minds. Finally, if nothing else, the Philippines has a large population to draw on as a work force.
However, one must ask what happens to all this potential. Sadly, none of these mentioned resources are ever used to benefit the country. Instead, the metals and minerals we produce are shipped off to other countries to be made into products that are sold back to Filipinos. Filipino intellectuals also leave the country in droves as there are only a precious few opportunities for them to prosper here. The massive population of the Philippines is more a burden than a boon as majority of the masses are jobless and almost always needing assistance from the government and actually make a living off of taxpayers’ generous donations.
Please remember that potentials amount to nothing unless they are fully realized. Like the Daydreaming Milkmaid, many Filipinos delude themselves into thinking that the Philippines is okay because it still has lots of resources. Unfortunately, all resources have their limits and whatever potentials we have will only benefit us if we choose to use them wisely.
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