Feb 24, 2013

The Philippines

Before I started looking for a "good place" in Australia, or India, or ancient Greece, back when I was a toddler, there was the Philippines.  I saw it on the world globe that my uncle gave me when I was four or five, just barely able to decipher the name of the orange cluster of islands.

Who lived on these islands so far away, literally on the other side of the world?

Our heavy black-bound Collier's Encyclopedia offered some hints.  I couldn't read the words well, but there were pictures of heavily- muscled men wearing only loincloths.

And heavily-muscled headhunters, whose villages seemed occupied only by men.

And Lapu-Lapu, the native chief who defeated and killed Magellan during his round-the-world trip in 1521.  Apparently they wanted to be left alone.

When I was in grade school, I somehow found some comic books written in the Tagalog language.  I couldn't read them, but then I couldn't read much in those days.  One starred a muscular Tarzan named Toro.

And another Bernardo Carpio, who caused earthquakes.

There wasn't much to research in the grade school library -- just things like copra and tropical climates and Austronesian language.  No movies or tv programs or children's books were set in the Philippines  But still, in my earliest childhood, I idealized it as a place where muscular men lived together in tribal villages, with no adults asking "Do you like girls yet?" or grinning knowingly whenever they talked to a girl.  As a good place.

I've done research since.