If I were to blog, I would blog about who the girls ended up playing with in Boracay. There was no shortage of kids staying at our hotel, but with only one exception, Risa, Vida, and Lea gravitated towards none of them. Unlike me, they are frighteningly social and I observed that they did, in fact, try to befriend some of their fellow hotel guests. But the relationships didn't gel, and because my girls didn't really articulate beyond vague whisperings of, "They're not very nice," I don't really know why.
Their companions of choice turned out to be a sweet-as-pie Danish couple (ages 30 and 32) and fifteen or so kids (ages 3 to 12)—many related in some way—whose parents worked in various capacities at the establishments along White Sand Beach. This was fine by me, as my girls were having a more concentrated dose of fun than I can ever remember having as a child. It was a few days before I realized that they were the only ones playing with the local kids. It's not that the children of the other hotel guests were being told not to fraternize; it's that the thought of doing so didn't even occur to them.
I admit I second-guessed myself. Were the other parents—gasp!—flaring their nostrils at me (flared nostrils being, of course, the classic Filipino expression of grave disapproval)? Were they all going to start blowing their cigarette smoke at me (seriously, what's with all the smoking?! Someone needs to start a campaign)? This anxiety didn't last long, as I quickly realized I didn't give a possum's posterior, a skunk's scooty, a lamb's larynx...a...a...a turkey's tailfeather.
Here are the girls and their buddies:
On a boat ride around the island:
Every night, just before sunset, the kids carve these designs into the sand using two tools: a spoon and a broom. When they're done, they put candles in the holes and set out a can for donations:
Throughout the week, the kids exchanged several little gifts, each one treasured: barrettes, candy, bracelets, shells. They taught each other songs, they taught each other how to catch tiny fish, how to tumble, play volleyball, dance. I loved watching all of this play out; it was one of my favorite parts of our trip.
On the plane ride home, I was reading Luis Francia's (amazing) Eye of the Fish: A Personal Archipelago. He writes about leaving tokens behind for some guerillas with whom he'd just spent time:
These impromptu gifts represented more than just a practical gesture. They also spoke of a sentimental streak in the Filipino's nature, the desire to attach emotional value to friendly encounters, no matter how fleeting or brief. Objects became iconic, even talismanic, minirepositories of personalized history. At every encounter with society or with fate, the Filipino is obsessed with reducing everything to an interpersonal state. Abstractions with little relevance to a life lived, to the here and now, are routinely ignored, an attitude often thought of as hedonistic; in fact, it is the very opposite, a seemingly carefree spirit that acknowledges its shadow, mortality.