Monday, September 20, 2004


When they're not teasing other children, kids sometimes have it more right than adults think possible.

As a little kid in the US, whenever I wanted to join my friends in games, they allowed me to watch first and learn the fundamentals. There wasn't a precise term for it. Then I came back home to the Philippines and learned about saling-pusa. And naturally, I had to be one, because I didn't know some of the native games (patintero, Chinese garter, Langit-Lupa, etc.) and their rules.

In his book My Friends in the Barrios, Dr. Juan Flavier applauds the humanity of the barrio children whenever they came out to play. He writes,

In the adult world, one of the most depressing realities is the practice of exclusivism. The rich stay among the rich, the professionals among the professionals, and the men among their so-called peers. Anyone disregarding this standard is disqualified.

Among the children, the unqualified - he who is too young, not strong enough, unfamiliar with the rules of the game, or who is a newcomer - is still accepted with all the rights of enjoyment, but exempted from the punishment demanded by the game. He is called saling-pusa (literally, cat-participant). Although unqualified, he joins the games; he participates completely, without being discriminated against. Occasionally, a little boy does not relish being saling-pusa. When that happens, he is called saling-hari (king participant), instead.

That is real humanity in action.

Maybe it's something we can think about these days.