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As always, there are some events in the past that qualify as “where were you when this happened” moments. During the early 70s, there had even been a weekly television series that reenacted historical events which were made to appear as though the viewer were at the scene as they happened. Dubbed as “You are There” and hosted by then-popular Walter Cronkite, it had triumphant full-season runs before it was replaced in 1972.

Even then, this only confirmed in people, that there exists this subliminal longing to be a participative witness to something historical or worth remembering. If one had seen the movie Forrest Gump, the collective gasp from viewers, all but hint at this non-vocal tinge of envy and wonderment that dwell in the psyche of everyone. As Forrest was shown meeting with one historical figure after another, at the same time experiencing first-hand memorable events in American history, we are all mesmerized and led like passive cows into believing, then fervently wishing that his journey could easily be experienced by everyone. Who does not relate with that? This is why haters exist, people. To deny that we do not envy Gump, even just a teeny weenie bit, is downright pretentious. As such, one has to remember, liars go to hell.

Still, the longing to be present need not be limited to memorable events in the past. I remember when Eric Clapton was playing at Araneta Coliseum in November of 1979, my friend and I had merely been resigned to the fact that, at least, we were in the same city with him. We had not enough money to spend for the steep ticket. Now, where were we exactly when this happened? Restlessly trying to get some sleep atop empty tables inside an already-closed folk house in Asturias, Dapitan and dreaming we were jamming with slowhand.

Almost always, the vividness of details hardly leaves us and likewise, it’s weirdly in direct proportion to the level of importance of whatever occasion. Flashback to seven years earlier in first year college. You’ve to pardon the senior reminiscence hour as this is for a few batch-mates in celebration of our 53rd high school anniversary.

Where were you in 1972 when Martial Law as declared by Ferdinand, the man? At least five of us were all down for the count, drunk and stoned almost out of our wits, inside a rundown apartment building near Ateneo Jacinto, that’s where.

However, at the time, how else could we, young lumpens grasp the significance of Proclamation 1021? What had been important for us then was how to immediately get home before the city-wide five o’clock curfew took effect. Dragging ourselves out of wherever that was, waiting for a ride near the already-filled jeep terminal beside the Boy Scout building in Acacia for what seemed like hours, clinging to the railing of the jampacked transport and then finally getting home suddenly-sober were the surely unforgettable memories for this freshman petty bourgeois. Not much drama but on a personal note, definitely Gump material.

Now, what’s your “where were you” moment?


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