A kid’s headstart in playing a game called unionism


UNIONISM, if it is to become more genuine and committed, should not only be all freedom, rights, benefits, noise and show. It should also be fun and engaging, with lots of responsibility and responsiveness to the call of the times.

I noticed, albeit not much consciously and belatedly, that “union-thinking” can go down the level of, if it can not root right away from, the kids’ ABC and 123 game playing.

Who from among the millennials or the XYZ-generation young people would not know about costume-play (cosplay) or computer online or offline gameplaying, alone or with multiplayers here, there and everywhere?

There is a kid in the Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon (Calabarzon) economic boom region south of Manila who from time to time plays the new game called “union-play,” innocently, that is.

IKOY (not his real name, but he is a real child), a second-grader whose mother is a massage therapist, was always playing with his friend Yuan in the backyards, sometimes under a big mango tree if not in a bahay-kubo (nipa hut).

Together with a few other same-age kids, Ikoy plays doctor-patient or therapist-client and suchlike games. Ikoy roleplays his mom’s occupation. The good old bahay-bahayan (a mother-father-children game) seemed to be passé for them, but not tinda-tindahanan, a buy-and-sell kiddie game that I always describe as an early headstart in social entrepreneurship.

There were times when Ikoy’s father would be dragged by his own son to play with them, with his Dad as patient or client. Ikoy, who was showing signs that his hands can heal early on in his toddler’s life, always gave his papa a massage, free of charge. I want to become a doctor someday, Ikoy always says. One time, I overheard the intimate father and son conversations:

PA, palagi na lang kitang mina-massage. Once a month, panay full massage, minsan lang half.  Masakit sa kamay, daliri at braso. ‘Dami energy ako nauubos. Minsan inaantok ako pagkatapos natin…

“May lambing po ako sa ‘yo. Huwag po kayo magagalit, ha?

“Ok lang sa akin free palagi. Patikim ‘yon. Pero minsan, puwede po ba, may fee?

“Halimbawa, kapag not-special massage tayo every Sunday, libre. Kung special naman, five pesos, one hour ‘yun. Kapag every other day, ten pesos; kapag everyday for one week, twenty pesos. Kapag bugbog naman, ganito ‘yon (Ikoy demonstrates).

“Pupunuin ko po ang alkansya ko sa ibibigay po ninyo. Ipambibili ko ng chick, cat o dog.

Aprub ka na diyan, papahal. Masarap yan!”

[Father, I always do you a massage. Once a month, I give you full massage; sometimes, half-massage.  It aches my hands, fingers and arms. I exhaust lots of energy. Sometimes, I felt sleepy after our sessions.

I have a small wish from you; don’t get mad, huh?

It’s fine by me to make it always free. It’s a sampler; a promo; or a trial. Once in a while, can you probably pay me a fee?

For example, if we do the not-so-special massage every Sunday, it’s free. If special, five pesos for one hour. If we do it every other day, ten pesos; if every day for one week, twenty pesos. If very hard deepskin massage, it’s like this.

I will save money that you give me on my piggybank to buy a chick, a cat or a dog.

You should approve my proposal, father; you will be satisfied!]

Father’s green light to his son’s proposition was a deafening silence, but an astounding Yes!

LITTLE did Ikoy know and realize that he is starting up his social enterprise thinking. He is also unmindful that he was playing with his peers the next big game called Unionism.

In his roleplaying game, Ikoy’s father as the “holistic healing patient” was the employer or client. The boy owns his own business. He was first a volunteer. He gives away his free services. Everything of value is free. But not everything can be free forever. “There is no such thing as free lunch,” former Philippine National Economic Development (NEDA) chair, Cielito Habito, always writes or says in tete-a-tetes. By requesting for some kind of an honorarium from his father, Ikoy was not thinking of rights, benefits or privileges but a live-and-let live exchange or a peaceful coexistence that businessmen know (but seldom practise) as mutual benefit.

The eight-year old boy did not shout in the streets with a placard and did not burn an effigy. He just communicated his thoughts as honestly as possible. He has yet to join or participate in any Child and Youth Rights and Welfare conferences, but Ikoy already knows what many unionists – both elders and youngsters – have yet to understand.

The honorarium is for the honour of doing the job, or so the budding unionist was wont to say though he has yet to grasp the real meaning of the word that many profiteers and young leaders find as high falluting.

Email MarqGuerreiro1@gmail.com

PROACTIVist Marc Guerrero is a happy advocate for social entrepreneurship and pragmatic unionism.

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