Thursday, May 27, 2010

Facebook Memories

Last night I looked at the old pictures of my grandparents in Face book. The photos where posted by my brother who unearthed a bunch of old stuff from my late grand mother’s home. It showed our old house in San Juan when the front yard did not have fences and were not paved and the edges still had tall trees. It had the image of being less modern like those idyllic ages of abundant soil, grass and foliage hark to an innocence that’s now long lost. The Face book page invited old students of my grand parent’s school to give their thoughts. It’s touching to hear their comments expressing their gratitude to my grandmother. It’s sad that things have turned out the way it did with the school.

I remember those graduation days when the yard would be filled with chairs and we would help arrange them. Soon the cars would come and fill the streets and people filing in sitting in the chairs in front of the stage. I remember my grandfather but don’t’ recall when he left the picture after his death. Soon the school will have fewer students as the years passed as my grandmother grew old and no one could continue the teaching tradition. Now the old graduates like me approaching middle age are now able to connect with other students in Face book and relive their kindergarten and nursery days. This was not even high school but the people still remember their old school teacher who made them comfortable in their first day in school.

Facebook is a remarkable tool because it gives back some humanity to the Internet. I can’t think of any other way this can be done except in the web. A virtual reunion in cyberspace so to speak, where everyone can post pictures and express their thoughts and remember those long lost times when they were just toddlers. This trip down memory lane led me to other pictures in the net that I had posted in the past about the projects I did in Singapore, reunions with friends and fun we had working in the Asia. My brother also created groups pages for our ancestry where he posted pictures of our grand parents and great grand parents. It’s the only way our current generation of relatives, spread out all over the world, will have a chance to see the patriarchs and learn about them.

I don’t think our story is unique as I am sure there are countless stories all over the world that are unique as well. But it was a thrill to try and re-create the story piece by piece: my great grand father goes to London to study, meeting and marrying an English woman, bringing her back to the ‘jungle’ as her sister would say about the Philippines. The subsequent stories of their children (told countless times in the dinner table): one marrying my grand father and opening a school in Manila, the other with adventures in Panay Island with the Japanese invasion in World War II and all our individual stories of growing up and meeting each other in reunions. All these anecdotal stories relived with the ancient pictures uploaded and saved for posterity.

It makes me understand who I am after living in different places and finally settling here in the US. One picture shows my grand parents in their Barong Tagalog and in formal coat and tie: teacher, lawyer, judge and educator. Another picture I like was of my great grand father in his military uniform complete with his sword standing beside his pretty English bride sitting proudly beside him. We all looked at these pictures in our homes in the USA, Philippines, United Kingdom and elsewhere and marvel that this new tool could achieve the task of having a virtual reunion in the ‘clouds’ in what ever time or place. I always thought that Microsoft and Google and Apple were the best software companies but it looks like Face book beat them all by helping modern man reclaim their humanity through social networking. It’s quite an achievement I think where the next wave in innovation can come from.

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