Thursday, April 10, 2008
some of what i need to know in life, i learned in playing pacman (for my batchmates, my former colleagues and my pangga)
Before my fellow skilled workers left for greener yet equally capitalistic pastures, they gave me something to crow about even in the dead of night: a soft copy of a folder of games including classic favorites like scrabble, text twist, galaga and pacman. I immediately dragged the contents to my newly-reformatted laptop so I could play at once. However, since the laptop’s sound device had yet been recovered by my repairman of a colleague, I had to provide my own sound effects of screeches, shrieks and grumbles. I can endure vilma santos’ amulet-swallowing darna hollering the magic word yet in complete silence, but in order to humor myself, I had to overpower the wee hours’ deafening quiescence with my falsetto vocals with enough decibels to compete against the sound of a space rocket being launched.
As grade school kids in nueva ecija, my friends and I trembled in anticipation whenever the town fiesta was approaching. That meant the arrival of the rented slot machines wherein pacman and galaga programs, among other videogames, might be played. While the straight boys turned to violent brawls like x-men and streetfighter, the girls and the badinglets would push buttons and manipulate joysticks in order to annihilate space aliens, escape ghosts, run after growth-enhancing mushrooms, plant bombs amid walls or shoot animal-carrying hot air balloons. When my pangga pointed out that he had been playing atari and nintendo games at a much earlier time, I argued that he belonged to the privileged class whereas we schoolmates could touch slot machines only when we had saved enough coins to buy our childhood happiness.
Notwithstanding class conflicts and marxist discourses, the following are the lessons I learned from playing pacman:
1. It’s a dog-eats-dog world out there. Yes, I understand that the mantra of some versatile gay guys is “eat and be eaten,” but I find it vicious that in order to escape being devoured by tentacled ghosts with such tellytubby-like names as blinky, pinky, inkey and clyde, the yellow mouth that I am had to swallow (the glowing “mutya”—take the leer off your face) and then eat the fear-harboring ghosts who have since turned purple. If only to comfort my colleagues who had been victimized by the character-assassination of some talentless, phantasmically madeup dogeater, listen to my ranting one more time: the greener pastures have more glowing mutyas albeit with more dogeaters to deal with.
2. Many twists and turns are strewn along the way and it’s all up to you to give yourself some direction. You don’t need to have a bird’s eye view to see the pacman that you are being determinedly pursued by ghosts—you anticipate that. As a result, you turn where you feel like you are most secure and most rewarded, hoping to stumble upon your success along the way. With great pride, I admit that our high school batch is among the most stellar in recent memory. However, when classmates tell me that this junior or that placed 6th in the engineering board or passed the bar, I secretly hoped one of us pursued med proper or became a full-fledged lawyer. Then again, who will ever forget of our resident nerd’s topping the chemical engineering board exam? Like pacman, we went where serpentine life had taken us and became teachers and healthcare officers and government workers who help contribute to the building of this nation. (beauconera #1?)
3. Just when you’re so near the glowing mutya that shall give you super strength, the ghosts will have succeeded in their stalking chase. And no amount of cheers, screams and breast thumping from your spectators of classmates will have saved pacman from being reduced to the smallest fraction. In real life, you are so close to introducing change in the institution, then you incur the ire of the powers-that-be, a paper appears stating that your services are no longer needed. It’s ironic, right, Alanis?
4. Codicil to lesson #3, the evils of the world do not give so much as a blink when they harm you. I hate it when the ghosts’ eyes remain glowering even as pacman starts to disintegrate as a result of his defeat; I hate it too when conscienceless people concoct falsehoods in cold-blooded fashion just to fortify their employment position but at the expense of their colleagues’, more so when they shed crocodilian tears in the pretext that the departed will be missed. Tantanan mo nga ako, miss lacoste-a rica who can lie through your teeth without batting an eyelash.
5. Codicil to lessons #1, 3 and 4, expect the worst so run as if ghosts are after you. Whatever career you step in, the system will prove to be dystopian. Thus, be like pacman: avoid as much as possible the causes for your own ruin. Be single-minded over hitching your wagon to a star. Yeah, right; this from a self-confessed distracted individual who aspires (or despairs, depending on whose perspective) to gain focus in order to achieve inner tranquility required to contribute to social development and world peace! (beauconera #2?)
6. Codicil to lesson #5, when your spirit is at its strongest, the evils of the world will cringe at you. See pacman how he could chase away the ghosts turning violet in fright (complete with the funny fluctuating lip line) after chomping on the glowing mutya. In much the same encouraged manner, you can make the evils eat their hearts out by possessing an indestructible spirit. No amount of fired employment, lost childhood or career disappointments should ever dampen your bravery. They are meant less to terrorize but more to humanize. (beauconera #3?)
7. 23 years of experience will not give you the immunity from being ganged upon by ghosts. My pangga boasts that since he has been playing videogames as early as four years old, he has practically mastered the more primitive programs like super mario and bomber man. He grew mestizong-mestizo when pacman’s successful evasion of the ghosts drew gleeful claps and ravings from me. Then the inevitable happened: no matter how fast and cunning he made pacman appear, the ghosts always and always found their ruthless, conspiratorial way of meting out pacman’s sudden death. So much for romanticizing the expertise of a modern guy.