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  • I snapped the picture of the kids above in 2009 while on vacation in a small island in the Philippines, called "Boracay." I remember being so jealous of them. I mean, just look at them! Giggling. Giddy. Happy.

    I don't remember merrily skipping my way to school, especially in the middle of a rainstorm. Shit. I don't remember being happy in school. Well, okay I lied. I was never miserable, but I wasn't exactly the "giggling-on-my-way-to-temporary-children-prison-cloaked-as-a-learning-lab-a.k.a.-school" type either.

    Mornings were rough. I hated waking up at dawn to get ready for school. The situation didn't improve even when I got a little older. A couple of weeks after my eleventh birthday, I was given the chore to buy "pandesal" every weekday morning. Half asleep, I'd follow the sweet smell of fresh baked bread from our family compound to the bakery two blocks away. For an 11 year old kid living in the middle of Metro Manila, walking the length of two city blocks at 5:30 in the morning to do a CHORE felt like The Bataan Death March.

    There was never a morning when my mom didn’t get into her yelling-at-the-kids-in-the-morning routine. There were six of us kids and no one deserved the label “nice kid.” We were city kids from a working class family -- just a couple of classifications above “wild animals.” I never saw my dad in the weekday mornings either. He was already gone by the time our lazy asses were up. If there were ever happy/giddy/giggly mornings, I was too sleepy to pay attention to how my family dealt with our school day dawn rituals.

    But those Boracay kids were happy. Maybe they were happy because they were not required to navigate the grimy streets of Manila at 5:30 in the morning. Maybe they were giggling because I was acting like a dumb American tourist despite looking like an older version of them. I really don’t know why they were so giddy that morning when I took their portrait.

    And yes. I am still slightly jealous of them. :-)
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