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Generation Gasps

Tales of generation past and present

Published

By SOL VANZI

THEN AND NOW Elvis Presley and a Gen Zer sporting almost the same look

Seven generations of my family have passed before my eyes. I was 20 when we buried my great grandmother, who died at 95 while feeding chicken in her vegetable garden. Now I am a 75-year-old great grandmother myself, learning new smart phone apps and games from a grade school great grandson whose New Yorker twang was acquired from watching cartoons on TV.

Grandpa (The Lost Generation) was an unschooled, self-made pioneer entrepreneur, a landless farmer who built the first jeepney factory after World War II. In the family compound, his word was law. The family was focused on survival, leaving no space for any generation gap to flourish or be paid any attention.

Like many of his generation, Lolo Andoy believed that education could improve lives and sent two youngest daughters to Manila universities. One became the town’s first female physician while the second chose education and retired as the town’s high school principal.

Lolo’s oldest daughter, true to tradition, stayed home to help manage the household. She was my mom, and she meekly accepted her father’s decision. The sisters belonged to The Greatest Generation. Their first acts of defiance involved marrying men from far away towns and moving out of the family compound.

Born in 1944, I belong to The Silent Generation but grew up mingling with Baby Boomers. Raised in the post-war years of reconstruction and job security, we listened to a new type of music, wore shockingly different clothes, and wallowed in freedom, brandishing the era’s symbol: Flower power. I ran away from home at 19 to pursue my passion and become a journalist.

We enjoyed the new music that our parents abhorred: Elvis Presley, Jimmi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, and The Beatles.

BEATLES

The Beatles

JIMI

Jimi Hendrix

It was a period when men let their hair grow long, and the hippie movement flourished. Parents and school authorities tried to convince young men to keep their hair short and ladies to keep their skirts long.

The women’s liberation movement also blossomed and the Burn-The-Bra movement was in vogue. I could not join because I had stopped using bras. The generation gap was huge and pushed even wider by the generation’s espousal of free love.

My children belong to Generation X. While in high school they wanted to get involved and became NAMFREL volunteers. They crave independence and left home early, a couple not even finishing college but instead working in fields of their choice. Two are at call centers, one manages a restaurant. All have kids who are tech-savvy Millennials.

My Millennial grandchildren are studious and family-oriented. The oldest, now finishing his Master’s in Psychology, has looked after me since my stroke three years ago. Unlike the generation before him, he is fully transparent and shares everything. He expresses his emotions in poems and daily journal entries. His brother works at a call center but dreams of becoming a video producer. A granddaughter is a martial arts school scholar who participates in national competitions. Like many young people, she lives with her father (my son) while her mom works overseas.

The youngest grandchildren belong to Generation Z. They were born and spent their first few years in Japan but are back here for good. They are individualistic, easily accepting of others, and grew up surrounded by modern technology.

Generation Z question contents of their school books, but prefer not to openly disagree with their teachers. They accept diversity as a natural part of life, and know the value of protecting Mother Nature.

Note: Full circle to their hippie grandmother who planted 60 balite (ficus) trees around Remedios Circle 30 years ago.

Finally, my pre-schooler great grandson with thick curls brushing his shoulders. His father (my grandson) works at home on his own online business. They live with his mom (my daughter) and an aunt in a household with no gender bias whatsoever.

His immediate family and I remain bound by material reminders I have passed on: Antique family furniture, old photographs, and old embroidered recycled jackets I made 50 years ago. With care, these treasures will last through several more generations, with or without technology.

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