eK! is electronic Kabalen, a web-exclusive Kapampangan journal of ideas

papa osmubal
oscar balajadia IF YOU first heard of Ninoy Aquino only on the day he was shot dead at MIA (now NAIA—we improve by giving new names to old things), then you belong to my generation. It was a single bang of a gun that woke us all up to the grim reality of life. And yet we were so young. One single shot of a gun robbed us of our youth. At such a young age, we were made aware that the world was not in good condition and not in good hands. On that very same day we knew the world was not a very safe place to live in. It stressed our generation. We were at a loss. Young as we were, we had no explanation to things that were happening around us. There had not been a Filipino generation so stressed since WW2.

We are the Martial Law Babies. Internationally, we belong to the Generation X (or Gen X for short). Which means we grew up under the wings and shadows of the Baby Boomers (or boomers for short). The boomers are our big brethren whom we always follow and imitate. In my book, nothing separates the boomers and the Gen X kids except for their being mapped in two different demographic ages or age brackets. Looking at the way things go, it is safe to deduce that we are the boomers' factotums—we are their sequel. Our task is given and clear: either to improve on what the boomers have started or to worsen it. The future will come and history will judge.

Without a doubt the boomers are a successful generation (minus George Bush Jr.), because they are techies and political tacticians; and, most especially, they are business geniuses. But then, they have to thank the Gen X kids who wow at everything the boomers show to them. At first the Gen X kids were the boomers' props kids or wow-kiddos, or sort of come-on models, until eventually they became close partners. Everybody bought whatever the boomers sold and everything the Gen X kids wowed at. Boomers showed the Gen X kids MS-DOS, the latter wowed and the world bought it. Boomers showed the Gen X kids MS-Windows, the latter wowed and the whole world bought it. Boomers showed the Gen X kids Apple Mac, the latter wowed and the whole world bought it.

The boomers mass-produced the computer—the smallest invention the world has had so far that can contain the whole universe—and made the world so technologically advanced at a staggering speed, level and proportion. And the result? Global warming. Well, I mean if you want to blame a generation for global warming, it is the boomers, and we know the Gen X kids are with them in this. They were the ones who made the Gen X babies materialistic and reckless consumers in the first place. We Gen X babies consume and promote the products the boomers sell to us (most of which proved to be just useless money-generating crap), so in the process aggravating environmental problems. There is no denying that we Gen X kids are the boomers' accomplices, because we show enthusiasm to what they sell us; we model for them and the whole world copies us. We are aware of this. Which is why many of us Gen X babies are now environmentalists, to sort of alleviate our guilt and wash ourselves of faults in what we are doing and have done; while we have a boomer on our side, in the name of Al Gore. And because we are the boomers' younger version, we are sort of brats. Gen X kids always blame the boomers, wherever they see even the slightest mistakes. Which is why the boomers call us the "whiners"—the complaining generation. But they fatten us with the harvests of their pains and sacrifices.

And because they are techies and entrepreneurs (meaning they have both the machineries and strategies), the boomers are political heavyweights. Yes, their power has waned of late, but it has not exited yet. They are still lion kings, because even though they have advanced in age, they still have the fangs, the roars and the claws. They are responsible for giving us Barack Obama, maybe the last of them. Yes, technically speaking, Obama is a boomer. Obama is the boomers' unprecedented political accomplishment. Just as we were thinking that Bill Clinton (minus the Lewinsky fiasco) was the boomers' apex in politics before Obama entered. Being the youngest of the boomers, Obama was thought to be a mere fluke—the clown to close the curtain with the funny goodbye. But, boy, these boomers have something in them! Obama was not a joke. They made him well—secretly—and they showed and put him on the spotlight when he was fully ready to conquer. Like a brand new sports car model—after a few weeks on glossy magazine pages, it zooms in the city streets leaving everyone's jaw dropping in awe. The boomers simply know how to do that. Obama's rise to power is the greatest political accomplishment of the boomers because it connects them to the big boys, like Lincoln. Obama's election was the result of the boomers' ingenious strategies. No doubt about that. With boomers like the Clintons in the picture before, everything was poised to become a great history. Obama is not just the full stop on the line of the boomers' marvelous and glorious career and reign, but he is also their exclamation mark. And who can top Bill Gates's and Steve Job's fame and fortune? These two giant boomers made Warren Buffet nodding in disbelief and, yet, approval.

Boomers are tough entertainers as well. Time fleeted away without me noticing it, because I was entertained by the boomers. As I was watching them in awe and disbelief, I felt like I was a Peter Pan all the while. I did not notice time had passed—I did not even notice time existed at all. I only had to accept that I had gotten old when, in 2003, Gary Jules revived the first ever song that made the world aware of the existence of the group Tears for Fears (ring a bell?), entitled "Mad World." I was barely in my teens when Tears for Fears released that song. And I was just having my first true love (no, not stamp collection—you know what I mean) when they released their big-time singles like "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and their anthemic "Shout." Now the group is still hot doing gigs (for our aging generation, of course). Roland Orzabal's booming voice is still the same wonder it was back when they were young, proving that their songs (though too boring and corny for the youngsters now) are works of art. The other half of Tears for Fears, Kurt Smith, is not the cute school-girl killer anymore. He is fast getting bald and what remains of his hair is all silver, which reminds me that my generation is itself now really getting old. There is no more denying it. At one point I tried ignoring it, but nature and time knew what to do—enter tendonitis and high blood pressure. I thought I could not live a normal life again. Little did I know that an old man's life is not normal without either tendonitis or high blood pressure or both, depending on how far one had physically pushed himself in his younger days. Or depending on one's diet. My diet gave me both, not counting my rigorous BMX foxtrot adventures, strut and breakdance, basketball, and long-distance hiking when I was one of the boys next door.

Gen X kids and the boomers are partners in virtually all things. Music is one. You credit both the boomers and the Gen X kids for the emergence of MTV.

The British boomers were responsible for the so-called First British Invasion in music. It was when British singers did not just rule the world with their music, they literally owned it. They rolled with the Rolling Stones, and they ruled with the Beatles. They were so strong, and their strength led us to think that they might have as well been literally the creators of the world and the universe. Gen X babies grew on the music of that era.

While the American boomers have Barack Obama in the political arena; they have Michael Jackson in music. They just don't stop doing wonders, these boomers.

Let's accept the fact that the Gen X babies are on a par with the boomers when it comes to technological know-how and expertise. And although we don't have yet the answer to the boomers' miracle in politics, we have already matched their musical feats. British Gen X kids gave rise to the Second British Invasion in the eighties. There is no telling how much money I spent on Jingle "songhits" back then. I might be able to send one of my two kids to college with that money. I went gaga over slow rock, New Age, and power ballads. Many a school boy lost their virility at the mere sight of Duran Duran, The Human League, Wham!, Spandau Ballet, Culture Club, and many more in a very long and glorious roster. And I fell in love, literally and musically, with Bananarama and The Bangles. And even if they have already gotten old now, the Pet Shop Boys are still my boys.

The American Gen X babies did not just equal the British Invasion, they even shocked and shook the world with their Rap and Hip Hop, and they revolutionized dancing by coming up with street dances like the strut and breakdance. Strut eventually merged with breakdance. People should know that the present-day street dance is the result of the fusion of strut and the old breakdance. There was a time when strut and breakdance became substitutes to religion. In the Philippines, just for a short while, they surpassed the popularity and strength of the Catholic Church and Christiany.

The Philippine music industry was equally prolific. I don't know if there would be another Filipino song that would top "Anak," at least in terms of international distribution and acceptance. "Anak" simply invaded the world. The Filipino boomers gave us Eddie Peregrina and Victor Wood. And when we thought we had already seen the best of them, they gave us Freddie Aguilar. With the help of nature (or maybe because of the loopholes in our traffic laws and the holes on our streets), Eddie Peregrina passed away, Victor Wood would not be as productive or famous as he was once, while Ka Freddie Aguilar held the flag for the older boomers. We thought it would stop right there, when suddenly we were barraged by some more greats like Florante, Ka Heber Bartolome and his Banyuhay, Coritha, Cinderella, and Asin, the Philippine counterpart of the Beatles. And they rocked our world holding their Pinoy Rock brand, with Juan dela Cruz at the helm together with Maria Cafra and Ramon Jacinto, among others. We have OPM nowadays, thanks to the Philippine boomers. They gave us the so-called Manila sound and its anthem, "Manila," by the Hotdogs, who started the "Koleyala" Taglish idiolect evident in many of their songs.

The Philippine boomers were also good at imitation or impersonation. They gave us Hagibis, the Philippine version of the Village People. Dyords Javier was the first to introduce rap and hip hop in the Philippines. Vincent Dafalong made his Tagalog versions of famous English power ballads and slow rock hits. And, believe me, he was once a commercial success just by doing that. The group Boyfriends was the Philippine counterpart of the Bee Gees.

It must be very difficult to equal the Philippine boomers' feats in music, but at least Filipino Generation X babies tried to. We popularized what Dyords Javier started. Andrew E and the late Kiko Magalona did it for our generation. Andrew kept the comic tradition of Dyords Javier's rap, while Kiko gave it a serious and nationalist tone. And we came up with another brilliant roster of voices in the persons of Lea Salonga, Sharon Cuneta, Regine Velasquez, among others. Then, more recently, with Arnel Pineda and Allan Pineda (they are not related, but both have Kapampangan roots) putting Philippine music on the world map, and are poised to sweep off the international limelight the boomer Freddie Aguilar. The Gen X younger member Manny Pacquiao literally conquered the world of boxing for the Philippines. Juan Dela Cruz is hailed as the greatest rock band in the Philippines, but our generation would not just throw in the towel. No one can say we just stood by and did not counter the punches thrown at us Gen X-ers—we deployed such bands as Eraserheads, Introvoys, and their younger counterparts like Parokya ni Edgar and Kamikazee.

Together, the boomers and the Gen X kids made a hell of a century—arguably the best single century in human history. The Romans had to climb snowy mountains and cross oceans to conquer the world. The boomers and the Gen X kids did it just by sitting at home with their computers, drinking soda and reading chapter books (or what are called as pocket books in the Philippines). And, yes, they did not make a big world war. No, not because they could not (remember George Bush Jr.?), but they would rather intentionally avoid one—and that is why you will have to love these cute kids. With their technology, a single push of a button could have blasted this entire blue planet into fragments in just a matter of minutes.


[About the author. Papa Osmubal is Oscar Balajadia of Magalang (Well, don't get fooled by that name), now a Macau resident (Sorry, where?) and married to a Chinese local (How? How come? Why?). He has been a Catholic seminarian (OK, he once opened a book at an exam in Latin and Romance Languages—but who in frigging hell did not?), a Catholic missionary (Oh, the rosary is the answer to our country's economic problems and to your alcoholism and addiction to nicotine!), a bookstore staffer (Yes, sir, listen here, we know it is urgent, so your book is on its way from Guangzhou and will be here in 8 months!), a librarian (Oh, it's Friday the 13th and I am not putting 666 as Dewey call number on this bloody book!), and a teaching assistant (OK, pal, I know you prepared for the exams so I will check and mark them!). He is currently a teacher (yawn) and has an M.A. in English Studies (yawn even more, nod off, and then snore) from the University of Macau (sorry again, where?).]

-Posted: 10:53 AM 3/19/10 | More of this author on eK!
Nextnext