Pinoy Generation X


By Jon Verzosa 
“born between 1965 and 1980, GENERATION X is

characterized by a propensity for technology, skepticism to

advertising claims, and attraction to personal style rather than

designer price tags."

-  Jennifer Jochim

  

I just read an article of my friend Ruel J. Mendoza of Pep.com on Sheryl Cruz and I just realized that I am ‘already’ almost over-the-hill years old in three years and so as I went through the day juxtaposing my restraints and my staid, disoriented self gradually thought about writing my side, my version as a Generation X’er. I had to emphasizegradually because it was a sublime world to be in for a day and if escaping swiftly would mean leaving it all behind so then I chose to move slowly.  I remembered watching Sheryl Cruz in That’s Entertainment and loving my Smurf tee shirt until it wore off to the maximum.  Even so, I still wore it.  I loved the verasity and rebellion of the early 90s . . . a time when most girls smelled like hairspray and guys wore shorts above the knee and it was just OK.  I was not just part of that rebellion but also, a part of an even more cooler generation.

 

A generation who did not mind being loquacious and that everybody has a thing or two to say or shut up entirely.  A generation who read more rather than go online, a generation who can critique films and knows the difference between films and movies, a generation who ate with abandon and a generation who studied the lyrics of every song that comes out in the airwaves.

 

Around mid afternoon, I accidentally stumbled upon After The Rain, a number one song by Nelson back in the early 90s from my sister’s MP3 cd and I remembered my days back in Manila, a long-haired bohemian, wrapped in his own distortions.  Days of Rene Descartes and Stephen King’s The Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition.  Days when we were walking in the rain in the university and when my high school acne vanished overnight.  The world was looking at Imelda Marcos, as she goes on trial for embezzlement and Germany was one happy nation at last.  The air stank of gasoline, Fahrenheit and the Gulf War.  We, way past adolescence, watched the world disintergrate.  Ultimately dissatisfied with our college courses, we turned to MTV, held on to our past, seeing our successful parents dissatisfied with us, and aspired for the truth in individuality.

 

Descartes, four centuries later, redefined his route and threw us his perspective in plain and simple words:  I think, therefore, I am.

 

Is this the reason why after thirty something years I am still groping for my identity?

In 1985, I did not know that we were called the Generation X. It was something alien to me.  The only thing I knew back then was that the Philippines was home and it reared a thousand typhoons a year.  Nintendo was the talk of the town and I did not have one.  I was living on bottled Coca Cola and I peed in my pants watching my childhood friend Jocelyn ape Cyndi Lauper in We Are The World.  I remember listening to Madonna, Apo Hiking Society for the first time and the cool kids all looked like Duran Duran.  Dingdong Avanzado was ‘the’ guwapo guy, Eula Valdez inBagets was so cool and I knew my parents were busy people and we had someone to cook for us and I still take baths with my sisters.  Africa was the worst place to be because children who live there looked like sticks.

 

Little did I know that our age group, years later, would be hailed and criticized as the generation who did not live up to their parents’ expectations but found their mark as individualists, believed to prefer personal life over work compared to their predecessors, their Baby Boomers, whose bright-eyed appeal of life seems to be perfection and well, the reproduction of the species.  Generation X, on the other hand, people born between 1965 to 1980, named as Group X for having the lowest birth rate in years after 1965, the erratic laboratory rats, surged on.  Journaled as

borderline yuppies and eternal global teens who had a deep sense of aim, an insecurity of their parents’ manicured, Stepford life and a scornful outlook on bureaucracy and commercial politics.  I was one of those very few lab rats, mind you, thus, I am a Generation X’er.

 

Who did not think Molly Ringwald was cool?  She was the coolest girl in the world when I was a teenager.  Girls did not copy her because she mostly played the pretty but awkward, angry and intelligent girl.  Back in the late 80s, when Sixteen Candles was already a teen flick classic, my friends and I would watch her and be astonished!  She represented the girl that nerdy boys like myself would’ve wished our girl classmates were ;  spunky, a reader and someone who wants to fit in in the midst of social divergence.  Unfortunately, there were more Phoebe Cates in those days than Molly Ringwalds.

 

 

A decade after Sixteen Candles was released, Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke came out flawlessly as torchbearers of our generation through Reality Bites.  It was a film that attentively tackled the Gen X’ers plight to the latitude of job hunting, grunge music,  promiscuity and AIDS, rebellion against the system, celibacy and coming out (Steve Zahn, as Sammy, was phenomenal here as a closet homosexual, by the way) and more importantly, the playstation between the yuppie and the slack, played by Ben Stiller and Ethan Hawke respectively.

 

The film’s margin centered around Winona Ryder’s character, the Molly Ringwald of the 90s, as the angst-ridden videographer, who documents her days, hoping one day to rewrite the rules of life through diversity.

 

I was so drawn to this movie not because of what it embody but by the mere fact that this was also the year when I decided to take  a semester off in the middle of my final year in college . . . to know myself through Nirvana, Pearl Jam, coming out, reading lots of Milan Kundera, Jessica Zafra, Neil Garcia, Anne Rice and soul-searching was somewhat similar to having sex with the wrong people – of course, condoms were cheap and we all know that it has to be a part of every sexual encounter because a disease called AIDS is lurking unceremoniously everywhere.  Anyway, this film may have smothered our generation’s focal point, but I felt, back then, that I was walking it too.  

 

Being a Gen X child, my friends and I had hippie uncles and aunts,  seeing through their Fleetwood Macs and smoking habits something that we wanted to become.  Provincial life back then were mostly filled with BBQ beach parties, television watching Gorbachev take the stage, eating Pritos Ring with our fingers as we put on our audio cassette tapes to listen to British bands and half-listen to our father’s rants about learning how to read the newpaper.  In my opinion, it was a burning sensation of being different and of being intensely private.  When Boomers actively marched in the streets, burned brassiers and told the world to change, we chewed our Bazooka bubble gums, bowed our heads and swore to live away from the blares of the world when we grow up.

 

 

Back in the 90s, we voraciously read Sophie’s World, a fictionalized tale about the history of philosophy in between takes watching FRIENDS on television, hanging out with fraternity brothers, pestering our calves with our mountain bikes to school, from Anne Rice and Stephen King and listening to Wilson Phillips.  We were merchants of our own spirituality, inspired by the philosophy of Socrates but likewise, enjoying the freedom of self-abundance.  We began forgiving our past and looked to the future without prejudice.  Hopeful and animated at the same time.  We knew that we can key up the world’s inadequacy because we came from the darker side of the moon.  We believed that basic education and our own journey to life is imperative because the academe will never really teach you a lesson with real life.  Music did – it always did – I guess there is always something comforting about the sound of our generation.  There was poetry in music . . . and even that can’t be explained.  It was simply, well, magic.

 

We were named after a time when almost no one in this world was being born.  We were called X because we almost did not exist. But we did. That did not even make us more of a fashion statement but it did make us the mislaid breed of experimented rogues who attended the artistic riots of the 70s and 80s to the peace loving decade of the 90s.

 

Born in the 70s, growing up through the 80s and becoming a man in the 90s, I have absorbed my fanaticism with friendship and technology, married my poetry and promised to be devoted to it, chose originality over trademark, remained pragmatic in all sense, accepted change and the subversive, have likewise survived and most importantly, prolonged the idealism of untainted individuality.

 

I am a proud X’er.

 

Still is.

 

And forever will be.

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