3/06/2018
Teenage blogger

Today this blog turns thirteen. Yes, my blog is a teenager.

This is when I should be writing about how my life was when I was just thirteen years old. The opportunity presents itself, after all. It's an easy comparison. Teenagers, they say, are difficult; they're finding out things about the world, forming their own opinions, learning how to push - and enjoying it. Somehow I should be able to connect that to how keeping this blog going has been, well, a bit of a chore, about how difficult it has been to write for this thing lately, partly because I demand more of myself, partly because I am spreading myself too thinly, partly because I really just want to sleep sometimes.

But then, I honestly remember little about when I was thirteen.

That age is supposed to be momentous. Teenage years! But then, I'm a Filipino, and you cease to be a kid the moment you turn ten. The instant your age hits double digits on the year side, you're a little more grown up. "Binata ka na," they often told me, in the weeks and months leading up to my birthday. So that's where all your focus goes; that's the big event. But then I'll also admit to not remembering anything about my tenth birthday. I'm certain there wasn't a fancy birthday party - that was when I was seven, at the Shakey's branch at Southmall, when branches still had those large, bulky televisions that aired local channels instead of some Hollywood movie channel.

Perhaps it's also because - and I only remembered this after doing some calculation - my thirteenth birthday coincided in what was a really tumultuous few months for me. It's the whole bullied-by-everybody-then-kicked-out-on-the-first-offense thing - and I haven't thrown in how they tried to make it a good thing, that they were "requesting" me to "transfer", only because one set of parents pulled enough to strings to make me the bad guy. Imagine going through all that at twelve, at thirteen.

Perhaps it's a matter of timing, too. I did jump a level in pre-school, starting in kindergarten when kids my age would start at nursery. (Does all this fly over the head of today's generation of children, now exposed to the K-12 system? Eh, no one is reading.) I should have started high school at thirteen, but instead, I started at twelve. So, at ten, I ceased to be a kid; at twelve, I ceased to be an elementary student. That's it. You're old. All those other milestones are just made up by our generation so we can have something to celebrate, or complain about. Take "adulting", for instance. I hate that word. But I digress.

All circumstances equal, though, I do remember nothing about being thirteen. It's not like there was a fundamental change that happened the moment I woke up on my birthday. It's not like hair suddenly appeared on my underarms. (Nope, I don't intend to go there.) It's not like I suddenly have new interests. As far as I know I still had a crush on the same people, or at least the same type. And after all, turning thirteen really meant nothing. I never even called myself a teenager when I was a teenager. That's demographic claptrap. All it tells people is, well, they can sell me more stuff now. If I was a girl, it would be feminine napkins. If I was a guy, it would be deodorant - preferably one that won't let me down, because I stink more now that I'm a teenager. Suddenly we were supposed to watch different things, read different things, believe different things...

I remember something. My turning thirteen was around the time FHM was gaining ground in the country. Clearly, it's because it had photos of naked women - tasteful nudes, but also, tasty nudes, because that was the point, right? When you're a male in high school, you're expected to be reading these things. You don't even pretend you're reading it for the articles. It's about the boobs, man. The so-called "bold" stars of the time, baring... not their all, really; just some, but just enough. But then, in theory, you're not supposed to be reading that at 13. We still live in a world filled with ideals, after all. Teenagers, they're rowdy and complicated and confusing, but they're still kids, and they cannot be exposed to just how filthy the world is until they turn eighteen. By then, you can read FHM without getting several side-eyes from puritanical parents.

Turning eighteen - now, that is a milestone. "Legal ka na," you'd think - and by then, nobody else had to tell you that; you already knew it. Suddenly, at eighteen, you can do anything. You can do everything. Nobody would care, or at least, most of nobody would. "Matanda na siya," you'll hear. "Pabayaan mo na siya."

I remember my life when I was eighteen, but then, it's because I was already blogging here. That was a time when everything was easier to document - and yet not as easy as today, now that everybody has a camera and a way to publish themselves, publicize themselves, whore themselves out. But I wouldn't tell you about that; not now, at least. I'll save that for five years from today, when this blog turns eighteen, and that opportunity to compare "legal" me with "legal" blog presents itself. By then, though, I'd be 34 - just at the edge of that advertiser-friendly demographic of young people with disposable income. I'm close to being middle-aged by then. Imagine me, in the middle of an eternal life crisis, looking back at my college years and thinking, "well, that was fun," when in hindsight it never really was. That's a high degree of delusion. That's just sad.

And your responses...

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