It used to be…


    ‘It used to be that leaders were held up to the highest standards and in the highest of esteem. No leader dared be caught lying through his teeth, or with his pants down (literally or otherwise), or even just making an off-color remark.’

    I WAS staring at my Smith & Corona manual typewriter yesterday and it struck me how much times have changed over my (short) lifetime. Basically nearly six decades – just six decades on a planet that is billions of years old.

    It used to be that the typewriter was the “word processor” in the office or the house, a big heavy piece of metal that had keys containing the alphabet arranged in a QWERTY way to make sure none of the often-used letters end up jammed. And yet once in a while we had to manually return a key to its place, yes? Maybe because the typewriter lacked lubrication.

    Or was dusty. And so you had to hook a finger above one of the types (those that had the letters or numbers or special symbols embossed on them) so it can return to its rightful place and keep the type guide (where the type bar strikes the ribbon) free from obstruction.

    Eventually, the typewriter became a portable one that came in a hard case. And then an electric one with a small memory. Before long the phone in my hand on which I am typing this has become my typewriter!

    And yes, it used to be the Corona was a good typewriter long before we knew it as a Mexican beer, and then a virus. I was reminded though by Coke Philippines marketing boss TeeJae Sonza that Corona was also the brand of good notebooks! Clearly, she is much younger than me.

    It used to be that when you had to submit a term paper it would mean hours and hours of clacking away at the typewriter until your fingers went numb, or darkened by carbon paper so you could make two or three copies as you typed. Then you needed Sno-pake tape or liquid fluid to correct your mistakes. You either coat the letter or word you mistakenly typed with Sno-pake or use the correcting ribbon by typing the wrong word over the tape – which then gets covered in whitish powder – and then you can now type the right one over the same space!

    Imagine if, after typing say the fifth page of a report, you realized you needed to insert a line or a paragraph somewhere in the third page! Cut and paste was not an available option; you’d have to retype everything from page three or whenever you needed to insert a correction!

    Such a struggle for those of us born before all these technological advances that have made life far more complicated.

    It used to be that by the time the sun sets it’s almost all over for any business you wanted to conduct. The bank was closed. The post office was closed. The shops were closed. Today life is a 24/7 reality – maybe that’s why we always feel stressed. And while we actually have more time nowadays to do things we want to do – even stay up the whole night watching news and movies – we still complain that we do not have enough time to do everything we want to do.

    It used to be that I had to copy my mother’s signature on a Banco Filipino withdrawal slip and convince the bank teller I was authorized to withdraw my own money (from our joint bank account). Nowadays all you need to guess is your mother’s PIN number! Of course, it used to be that Banco Filipino was “Subok na Matatag,” the first bank to allow depositors to deposit or withdraw at any branch. I guess everything has an expiry date.

    It used to be that leaders were held up to the highest standards and in the highest of esteem. No leader dared be caught lying through his teeth, or with his pants down (literally or otherwise), or even just making an off-color remark. But have you seen the latest count of how many times the current President of the United States has lied, or retweeted a known falsehood, or has mocked those who disagree with him, even scientists?

    Lucky for the Philippines our President just jokes about jet skiing to the disputed shoals or ending the drug war in six months or slapping the virus in its face.

    If you believed he was serious about these things, then it’s your fault.

    It used to be that by the time October entered its last week people were all Halloween-focused and then ready to switch to Christmas decor. But despite some Christmas carols you hear on the airwaves the spirit isn’t there. That’s because there’s a new meaning to Corona these days, and it has not been one that gives off a pleasant vibe.

    Next time I will tell you about my Smith and Wesson.