Saturday, January 03, 2009

New year texting

Since I’ve started owning mobile phones in 2001, I haven’t really paid much attention to text messages sent in the heat of the new year’s revelries or its aftermath. I’m busy either having my fill of the new year’s dishes, or devising ways to better keep my resolutions for the next twelve months (well aware of the fact that these are bound to fail miserably by the third month). Though I did remember one new year’s eve when I actually texted back some wishes to friends and workmates through my old Nokia 3330. Sending such text messages was in fact the only thing I could do then with my cell phone as its defective battery couldn’t last even through a ten-second call. I composed a one-liner message that had something to do with living a meaningful and authentic existence. It must have been inspired by this book on Buddhism that I was reading at that time. Unlimited prepaid texting was still a new thing to me then, so I had fun replying to several people who sent me their new year’s greetings.

This year I sent only three text messages. No embellishments, just a simple “happy new year” followed by the name of the recipient. I sent the first one of such messages to my eldest daughter who I dropped off earlier at her mother’s place, after a last hour DVD-buying trip in Quiapo. I didn’t get any reply. Maybe I should have inserted that exclamation point or added anything to signify that I was happy to have been with her even for just a few hours before our separate noche buenas. The other two I forwarded to my brothers who sent their own text messages a few minutes earlier. My youngest brother, now based in the southern part of the Philippines, sent one obviously addressed to men. The message humored the reader with flatteries until the end wherein the sender extended his new year’s greetings as the supposed head of the group who exceeded the members in all the aforementioned testosteronic traits. My other brother and sister-in-law who reside with their children somewhere south of Manila sent this text message wishing fulfillment of one’s dreams during the previous year and continued blessings throughout the new year. It then ended with the usual religious reminders. Both messages must have been received from other people and forwarded to me.

As with the previous eight years, got a few more of these new year messages from other people who I wouldn’t have expected to spend one piso texting me. From an employer who was following me up on my documentation work a few days before christmas, I got this curt greeting: “Happy new year to you and your family”, followed by the ever-present umlaut (in lieu of a smiley). He re-sent it an hour later (must be paranoid already since I didn’t claim my cheque before their office closed for the holidays and I have yet to email the final draft of the workshop proceedings). A former classmate from high school, who is now a training officer in a popular local fastfood chain and still an undisputed leader of our batch (organizing reunions, batch parties and out-of-town trips) sent this one: “YEAR END is a special time for me to thank those who have touched my life. People who have given me hope, faith, and love. People i cherish … Happy New Year!” Almost a day after I got her message, I’m still trying to figure out how I was able to do those things she described in her message and why she included me in her list.

A friend and former comrade from college sent this text message: “a RELAXED mind, a PEACEFUL soul, a JOYFUL spirit, a HEALTHY body & a heart full of LOVE … all of these r our wishes 4 you n your family. HAPPY NEW YEAR!” That put a smile on my face. I couldn’t imagine him sending that kind of greeting more than a decade ago, when we were still serious believers in an upcoming revolutionary upheaval in society and when a few of us seemed confused on which should come first: getting that elusive college degree or starting to earn money. I think he was one of those who went for the latter option. Nowadays, he employs several people in their medical transcription business and drives around in his new fancy car. It’s amazing what a rewarding job and a comfortable family life can do to one’s political outlook and mental state. One time you’re sporting a tubao (a colorful cloth worn by indigenous people) and that faded Che Guevarra shirt -- a common activist garb in the 80s. The next thing you know, you’re a kind of a Jedi master blurting out those zennist lines.

A resource person in one of the trainings I facilitated in 2008 sent this one: “Wishing you Prosperity, Wealth, Good Health, Peace, Luck & Happiness in the coming year. A blessed New Year to You and Your Family.” And from a former team mate during field work in college: “Faith, Friends & Forgiveness, Health, Hope & Happiness, Love, Long Life & Luck, Peace, Prosperity & Patience are the 12 things I asked the Lord for you and your family for the next 12 months of 2009, Happy New Year! …” (Notice how the second message built on the first one.) These two made me wonder if it’s possible to have new year messages with more specific wishes, more fit to the recipient’s needs or context, rather than all these big words starting with capital letters. Realized though that it could be quite taxing for the sender to compose and type dozens of such customized greetings to send out to relatives, friends and acquiantances. One might have to start composing weeks before new year’s eve, or even hire a creative writing graduate to spin out all those nice text messages. Well, just a thought.

And here’s my favorite from another high school batch mate (translations in parentheses mine): “Mga resolutions ko (My resolutions for the new year): 1. D na ako mangangako (I’ll stop making promises), PROMISE! 2. D na ako mg-iingles (I won’t use English). Nvr Again! D na ako mgsu2gal (I’ll stop gambling). pustahan p tyo (wanna bet on it)! 4. At d n ko magsa2lita ng tpos (And I won’t speak with finality). Period! Happy new year!”

Perhaps the senders of these text messages were also just taking advantage of some unlimited texting promo from local mobile phone companies. Or maybe they were just weeding out names from their phone directories, finding out who were still actively responding to their messages and who were not. Waking up to a rainy and windy new year, I wondered how many times these text greetings were received, forwarded and re-sent in the course of a night. I wondered if the number of text messages one received during the new year is in any way indicative of the extent of one’s social network. Couldn’t help but notice that I got fewer messages this year. Does that mean I’ve been more anti-social during the previous year?

Maybe I should rid myself of mobile phones altogether.

1 comment:

Miki said...

pareho lang siguro tayong tamad magtext Rands hehehehe
ako rin simpleng "hapi nyu yir!" lang ang pinapadala

hmmm...may itatanong ako sa yo next na kitakits wahahahaha!!!