Happy Birthday Gato
Being the youngest of a family that boasts of seven siblings it was only now that I realized that I am one of those (sort of...) unfortunate kids who were never given the chance to have a kid brother (or sister), for that matter though it may seem obscure of me to think of such you just got to wonder how it feels like, seeing as to how my nephew Arno would stand up for his little brother Ciro whenever I come to the verge of beating him to a pulp whenever we'd be wrestling ala-WWF in my parent's bedroom, really just makes me wonder what it would have been to have a little brother.
Now you may be asking why didn't I have a little brother, well to start with, my mother gave birth to me at a ripe old age of 46 years old and in medical circles that qualifies me as an menopause baby, which at that time made my family kind of nervous that I might turn up with autism, mental retardation, and the likes, but thank God that I turn out normal in terms of my physiology. So basically I grew up with my family where at the time live in the Republic of Cogeo Antipilo, where later on we moved to where we are now to this all normal looking house down the street of Malingap, Teacher's Village Quezon City where I spent most of my existing life with my parents, my sister's family and my Kuya Gerry who is twelve years older that I am.
Well, as I was saying earlier my childhood was almost as typical as any other kid would have lived it, though it wasn't that graced with typical Filipino games like text (which I most hated up to now because I really abhor the idea of gambling for children since I was raised in a very Christian home), tanching, patintero and a whole lot of other twenty something Pinoy games that I see from our gates as well as every time I would watch Batibot. Instead of text I collected those cards (especially the Marvel Super-Heroes series) and insted of playing tanching I played with action figures (GI Joes to be exact) and in place of patintero I would play dumbass soccer and Kamias Jevellin with my nephew Gato.
Yes, it was Gato, Arno's older brother who was only 5 years younger than me who lives just right behind our house, he was sort of for me a little brother since my closest brother was Kuya Gerry who was already way on his twenties during that time. What I remember with Gato is that we never ran out of things busy ourselves with every summer afternoon where we would bum ourselves with silly games, and 'comedy times' together with my dachshund Odie on my Kuya Gerry's bed, as well as when we'd both gather up our angst towards those fat bastard twins at AngTV and how I would hurl Odie at those two fatsos as if Odie were giving them a flying-kick; as well as to how we'd course like sailors whenever we'd see Pudong, Ginoong Boman, and Miss Minchin harass the protagonists of those cheaply dubbed cartoons in Channel 2, and how we both cried when we saw the death of Nelo and Patrash, and on that Christmas episode of Garfield where Odie spent his Christmas on the dog pound. Yes indeed it has always been Gato who'd be there with me during those countless afternoons where we'd be singing our hearts out to the Eraserheads' Ultraelectromagneticpop album, where it would eventually lead us (along with our dog Odie whom I try to give a voice by making Gato believe that it was really the dog who's talking by the way I would blurt out the dumbest stuff I could think of in that Weng Weng sounding voice) to our short-lived DIY recording career as standup comics (sort of like Porkchop Duo) aptly called Comedy Hodie & The Blackout Combo, where we'd be singing our favorite rendition of Oki-Doki Dok's theme song, complete with scratches and badass keyboards and rough guitar playing. Other than that we'd also make stupid mix tapes of that come from a single record that we'd often listen to and we'd pretend that it was a concert or something like that. And not to mention the times when I fondly get a copy of Gato's new homemade comic book that catalog's the continuing saga of Black Dogja, who is our personal adaptation of the Ninja Turtles, by merely twisting it to suit the characters of our two dogs Jiggy & Odie; other than that we also had the chance to bond and talk about the stupidest things ever like that time we thought of putting "Le Ar" after the names of our dogs so that they'd be like Fuma Le Ar of Shaider. And how fun it is when we'd play WWF where I'll be Bret "The Hitman" Hart and I'll be blurting out the silly phrase: "I'm the best, I'm the best in the WWF" and he'll be playing Coco Be Ware. Or how we'd buy Mr. Fruit for the Ultraman cards that came with it and how we'd mix our Mr. Fruit candies with Sprite or how we'd stir our glasses of Coke with lollipops. Or how we'd purposely mismatch the vowels of specific words and names just because we thought it was funny like: the way we'd call our Uncle Gene, 'Uncle Jim' and then we'd replace the name Jimmy Santos with 'Jinnie Santos' or how we'd call a Genie a 'Jimmy', or how we'd mismatch the name of my niece Lea Grace with her dad Leo so that we'd call her 'Leo Grace'. Or how we'd never ran out of names to give to his dog Jiggy who as it turned out is also called Diego, Pupu, Huhu, Memeng, Eeng, Buakulaw and so on. As well as when we both cried when the vet have to put Jiggy to sleep because of his viral infection.
Or how he accidentally launched himself from the window towards their bed, wherein his head accidentally got struck with a Matchbox toy car, which really freaked out my Kuya Benjie who was watching over us at the time and how Gato fearlessly had his head injury stitched by some grouchy doctor. Or like how we spent a day bickering with our neighbor Miguiling just because he got hold of our toy airplane. Or how he stood up for me when Lea Grace's little brother Ejay called me a fag. Or how he stood up against our Tita Yoya because he knows that not everyone in our house agree with her decision to expand their place and build that monstrosity of a construction at our house's backyard.
I must admit I'm a little watery around the eye area right now since I really cherish those good old days when the world weren't that complicated and the only thing that matters at that time was just about making the most of the afternoon brownouts and the idea of Odie being able to get out of the gate every time my late Tita Yoya would arrive in our house at around 3 PM. And the fact that I'd never ran out of stories to tell about those afternoons really brings a lot of nostalgic memories during those innocent times. Well sure it would had also its share of downfalls when Gato and I would fight over Trading Cards, Toy Soldiers and GI Joes especially over that particular Hydro Viper figure, which really brought out the worst in us, and how sorry we both felt for each other when Gato accidentally flushed it on the toilet bowl. And we would fight over who owns which Matchbox and how we'd fight over that particular blue landroaver matchbox. Or how I hated him when I was blinded for two days when he chose to let go of the tennis racket that was attached to rubber band that we stretched from one end of the house to another.
And if I were asked with questions pertaining to who Gato is, all that I could say to them is that I see him as a guy that's driven with passion, from way back to being a 3 year old kid that's into dinosaurs so much that he's memorized each of them by heart, as well as to the diet of each dinosaur; Whether their are carnivorous or herbivores; up to his breakthroughs of finishing Megaman, Keen 4, Duke Nukem Mortal Combat 4 and X-Men: Children Of The Atom (take not that he could do all the fatalities and make the hidden characters appear on the two latter games) way before me or Kuya Gerry were able to go advance to level 5 or something to that effect; or how he learned basketball which I utterly never learned and how he would mimic the dribbling technique of Kobe Bryant when we played it at church and on the basketball court in Claret. Up to the dude that he is now who's getting himself featured on TV for his unquestionable skill in skateboarding. Other than that is also the mere fact that I shared most of my first things with Gato, I got my first chance to go to Star City (for that Lost World of Dinosaurs Exhibit), Megamall (for the book fair); the first time to be a cartoon figure in one of the children's magazine that my sister was working on (I was featured as an explorer wearing a pair of glasses and Gato plays himself in the Gato at Gata comic strip); Robinson's Galleria and my first rock concert where we were able to watch the now obscure Claret band called The Weed and True Faith; as well as when he amazed me and my high school classmates with his impressive collection of NBA cards; not to mention the time when we both learned how to roller skate way before roller blades were the in thing. And how we both got to learn to love the sport of skateboarding and how he taught me to pop my first ollie on his Chicago skateboard, and how he first taught me to log into my brother's Internet account by typing this particular password that he deciphered by merely watching my brother type it. Another was the fact that he believed in me and had faith with what I do and can do, he was one of the very few loyal fans of Life Is Trying, and also of the silk screen venture that I did with Jeanie and my other friends; he was the one who took silly pictures of me and my friends on afternoons with his parents' camera, and how he never failed to listen and believe the most stupid stuff I said to him ranging from my stories about Dragonball Z to my silly stories about the kids at church and my elementary school classmates (especially of Ruel), to the stories I would tell him about a couple of guys named Juan, Pedro and Pepe which were also told to me by my classmates in elementary; to my adolescent rebellion in high school, to my adventures as a punk rocker in Tandem Recto, to my stories of slapstick skateboarding with my friends, and to my fling with student activism. He listened and never failed to hear out what I say. Another is that he always gave me a feeling that saw me as someone who dared to dream groundbreaking stuff and do it for kicks. And I find it at times flattering that whenever we'd encounter his skate-buddy Gino at Alberto's Studio, he'd tell me of how much he learned of me all because of the stories about me that Gato told him. I also remember why it is no wonder that every time we'd play those role-playing games in high school he'd always be the front man and I'll always play the sidekick: he'd be Batman in his costume and I'd faithfully play Robin in my briefs; when we'd play The Wonder Years he'd be Kevin Arnold and I'd be Paul Pfiefer; when we'd play Parker Lewis, he'd be Parker and I'll be Parker's geeky four-eyed friend; and when we'd play Doogie Howser MD, he'd be Doogie and I'll be Vine Del Pino. And if you'd ask what this would mean to me is that because of the fact that I've always seen such potential in him when he was six years old he's already been publishing Black Dogja comics under his Vavi Comics line, while it took me the start of my second year in college to put out the first issue of my zine. When I just started learning Francis M's lyrics he was already well on his way rapping "Meron Akong Ano"; and while I was struggling to lean how to do a running ollie on my skateboard he's already struggling on how to do a running kick flip on his skateboard. And how astounded I am by the fact that God has always blessed him in whatever activity it is that he decided to pour his heart into. Lastly I would also like to say that I've been told by a lot of people I know that he kinda looks like that pro-skater Bob Burnquist and come to think of it he really does look like him,
And right now as I see him going off to college, I see that there really is a lot in life in stored for him and though I may not be as close as I am to him nowadays I truly know I my heart that I wouldn't be much of the person that I am now if God did not allow Gato to play a special role in my life as a nephew, friend and as someone who's the closest to a little brother that I got, and I know that I have a lot of misgivings to him and that I wasn't as available as I am to him when he was growing up, and how I also became a bad example for him by making him a witness to all those unspeakable wicked deeds that I've done in the past, and how at times I'd be irritated with the way goes about in my room, I still really thank God for him, And also of how proud I am of him that he grew up to loving punk rock and not those twenty something hip-hop and lousy metal acts and for being himself and I hope that as I look back now I really want to thank him for all the memories and for whatever worth they may have all I can say is that it was worth all the while. Happy birthday Gato.
To read an interview with Gato visit this link by clicking -----> here <-----