I’m not one to like kitschy stuff, let alone attach much value to them. But I do have a favorite set of figurines. Cheap, mass-produced figurines which probably cost around 10 pesos each back in the day.
I got them during the late Eighties when my two sisters and I were in college. That was a terrible time for the Philippine economy and like countless other families, we lost everything — our house, the car, the small business, our savings. I was aware that my parents were struggling really hard to stay afloat.
Every year before then, at Christmas we got a lot of presents and special treats from our parents. I understood that that Christmas would be different and was expecting no gifts at all. I knew that every expense was a strain on my parents’ budget.
But on the 25th, there were little Christmas packages with our names on it under the tree and signed “from Santa Claus”. (My mother has always been a firm believer in keeping such Christmas traditions for her children, even when those children were already in college and had probably already seen male strippers in Santa Claus costumes, hehe. I’m kidding, Ma!). So I opened mine and there they were, my figurines, individually-cradled in crumpled newspaper.
I always thought figurines were useless and often tacky dust-gatherers. These? For reasons far beyond their cuteness, I adored them. Enough to give each one a name: Kicky, Boo, Bardingar and Bimby. (Weird names, long story.)
Boo’s my most favorite.
Over the years, I brought them with me wherever I lived and put them up where I could see them everyday. There were times when looking at them was all I needed to feel better.
My dad’s condition nowadays makes travel a logistical nightmare for everyone, so it was not until last Christmas that they were able to visit us here in our new home. I pointed out Boo and The Gang to Ma and showed her their permanent display area on top of my bookshelves. That is where I put the irreplaceable, priceless stuff.