25 January 2011

Nursery Rhymes

I was in a post-training huddle with the high school boys this evening and was pointing out to one of our prodigious talents – a small junior with exquisite skills – that at his age, his development curve should still be on the rise. That said, however, and with the boy being distracted by the small matter of hormones dictating certain behavioral changes, I told him that his development had uncharacteristically turned into a plateau.

“Do you know what a plateau is?” Having once been a classroom teacher, I instinctively wanted to know if what I was attempting to communicate was being understood in the first place. The boy looked suspiciously at me, as all boys who have played for me rather tend to do when I ask that sort of question. Sometimes, there is a trick in a seemingly innocuous question such as the one I just asked.

Unable to find adequate words, the boy started to gesture with his palms, indicating the flattening of an invisible curve. But something else totally unrelated just came out of my mouth almost spontaneously, “A plateau is a platito, surrounded by puto…”

Where did that come from? I looked around and the faces of the other boys betrayed that they were hearing the nursery rhyme for the first time. A few of them were actually already repeating after me.

I could not even finish the rhyme, and it was not until much later that the conclusion to the totally inane rhyme came back to me, “Kinain ni Panchitô in 1962!” By the time I recalled this, the boys were no longer interested. I do not think any of them are old enough to remember who Panchitô was, to begin with.

The complete rhyme would sound something like this:

A plateau is a platito
Surrounded by puto
Kinain ni Panchito
In 1962...

There was this other nursery rhyme we used to tease friends with when we were kids, just for the sheer heck of it:

“Sa loob ng loob ng looban
Si Juan at si Maria ay nagtanan
Ang kawawang si Belen ay naiwan
Nagbitin sa punong kamatisan…”

That was the wholesome version. There was another version, albeit still wholesome:

“Sa loob ng loob ng looban
Si Juan at si Maria ay nagtanan
Ang kawawang si Belen ay naiwan
Nagbitin sa buhok ni Magellan…”

The not so wholesome version still referred to Magellan’s hair; but it was not the sort on his head…

There was also this irreverent and maybe even downright sacrilegious rhyme I first heard in a neighborhood in Pasay which we used to visit when I was still a young kid:

“Aba ginoong Maria
Napupuno ka ng bariya
Itayâ mo sa karera
At bakâ manalo ka pa…”

Do not teach your kids this!

In the eighties – was it? – an all-male singing group actually made a single of a nursery rhyme we used to sing over and over when I was a kid:

“O tin-derang maganda
Bakit mo pô ki-nuha
Ang bakyâ kong susu-utin
Bakit mo pô ki-nuha?”

Translated into English:

“O beauteous saleslady
Why did you get
The wooden clogs
I was going to wear
O why did you get them?”

Whether in English or Tagalog, the words were perfectly innocent. I seem to recall that the single even used to be played over AM radio stations, the sort that tinderas in the palengke used to listen to all day long. Anyone who spoke Tagalog knew that the rhyme was laden with sexual innuendoes; yet it was perfectly crafted that anyone who dared to claim lewdness could, in fact, be blamed for being the one with the dirty mind!

In fact, kids used to recite it all the time, and just for the sheer fun of it!








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