By GEMMA CRUZ ARANETA
You have probably complained about millennials, these sapiens aged 18 to 30 who seem to be connected to another world that exists beyond your comprehensions specially if you are a senior (like me). On mainstream and social media, there are commentaries about how millennials communicate through gadgets even when they are sitting around the same table; they are not vocal, so it seems like they have not discovered the power of speech, must less the delightful art of conversation. I see many of them crossing streets (sometimes on pedestrian lanes) while reading their gadgets, or listening to music, ears hermetically plugged to shut out the noise of the world outside.
For the past month, I have been living with a millennial; my solitude, and that of my three felines, has been shattered, but in a very positive way. My 20-year-old Mexican mestizo grandson has decided to live in the Philippines to take a good look at the family tree and discover his roots. He is my daughter’s eldest child and although I visit them in Mexico every year I cannot say that I saw him and his younger sister grow up, but I wish I had. I asked whether he wanted to live alone in a studio or with his grandma and, to my surprise, a very pleasant one, he chose to live with his Lola. Are you sure? Won’t it cramp your style if girls find out you are living with your grandma? Definitely not, he said, but he asked if I have WI fi.
I must say, my grandson has raised my technological level. A week after he arrived, I was invited to give a lecture about the Manila Galleon to tourism officers of Santa Rosa, Laguna. A Power point presentation was de rigueur for a large audience so I turned to my grandson who immediately said—No problem, Lola, I’ll teach you how to make one. And he did. He also accompanied me to the event to make sure that my presentation was successful. So now, I can whip up Power Points in a flash, it is no longer an unfathomable mystery.
Like other millennials, he is surrounded with and attached to gadgets for all occasions; in fact, he and his apparatus(es) have carved territory and are occupying half of my dining room table. However, while we take our meals on the other half, he unplugs everything and converses with his Lola! He said the traffic situation is just as bad as Mexico’s but drivers there are a bit more observant of road courtesy although they shout and curse at each other a lot. He very naively asked if there are Tagalog curse words and I couldn’t help but laugh. You will learn them pretty soon.
I took him to the 50th wedding anniversary of a Guerrero cousin and he asked why their Spanish is quite archaic; the Spanish in Manila is Castellano, Castillian, I explained. Before dinner was served, two priests, one of whom was Mexican, celebrated a Mass. During the Mass, grandson kept whispering questions. What is going on, Lola? What is that white cookie? Etc, etc. Then he said he had never been to Mass, that this was the first time ever. That was last Saturday and to this very moment we are still talking about the Holy Mass and everything he heard the priests say. Jesus Christ changed water into wine? Where is Canaan? The body and blood of Christ? He was baffled; the Aztecs used to eat the hearts of their human sacrifices. What is the difference between Christian and Catholic? Were there Catholics before Christ? Some of my Guerrero cousins came to the rescue but all of us seniors realized that we had taken so many things for granted and it was difficult to explain these things to an inquisitive millennial.
Be glad that your millennial has developed verbal skills, that he can converse with his elders, one of my cousins said. Not only that, although he has not finished college, he has a profession, he is a carpenter like Jesus Christ. He knows how to make fine furniture and in fact, he wanted to pay for his trip to the Philippines so he accepted an order for 10 desks and worked at a furniture factory for three months so his mother would not have to pay for his travel expenses. He is now at the Philippine Stock Exchange. My brother, his uncle, is training him to be an investment analyst.
You need a new laptop, Lola? he asked. What do you want in a computer? I felt he was asking for the qualifications of my ideal man.