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by Nathan Perez

We were all gearing up for the coming typhoon. Some leaks had to be repaired. While we were cleaning the part of the ceiling which we use as the storage room for old stuff, we found something that brought us back to a lot of great memories. I took it down to the living room, dusted it off, and showed it to everyone.

In the 80s, my Tatay who used to work as an OFW invested in something which I and my siblings consider as a gem. It was an orange portable pica typewriter that served us, most especially my older sisters and brother, for decades.

I was the last among my siblings who had to use the machine. As a child who grew up in the 90s, we were the living witnesses to the shifting tides of technology, most especially the transition from analog or mechanical to digital across different industries. Only people at my age will understand how important a typewriter was back when computer printing was a luxury and will remember its slow death as the computer took over the center stage.

And while the transition happens, as a family who relies mostly on a hand-to-mouth income of my Tatay who settled back in Manila after the Martial Law was lifted, any extra expenses while we were studying is a huge burden. So while everyone at school is slowly dipping into the then expensive trends in technology, I had to stay behind from the fad and continue embracing the only available technology at home – the orange typewriter – always the inexpensive practical choice.

I remember those moments when I had to wait for everyone in the class to submit their projects before I passed mine. I was afraid that some might notice that my project was not digitally printed. Instead of the word-art cover page, mine was written using a dying Pentel pen. Most of the time, it gave me that feeling of self-pity.

My Nanay, despite knowing my sentiments, has always been my guiding light, the “lady Safeguard konsensya” who used to tell me that there is nothing to be ashamed of. I knew that if life was better and resources were stable, she would love to see us keeping up with other kids too. We may be lacking with resources back then, but wisdom is overflowing at home through her. She would always remind me that the content of what I do will always be the most important thing, not the way it was physically written or printed. The first few poems that I composed, my first few school paper articles, my high school short stories – all of them were written using the orange typewriter. Until technology, so powerful, took over the changing seasons.

After dusting it off, I opened the case and saw before my eyes the typewriter that gave me the dream to write something that will touch people’s hearts, stories that people can relate to, and more. All these times, we never knew that it is kept somewhere in the ceiling of the house. And although it’s no longer working, it still brings back so many memories.

Kids, what you’re seeing now is a machine that has no Internet connectivity. But it has a great connection to the hearts of many who once upon a time carbon-stained their fingertips to express their thoughts, open their hearts and bare their souls through every clickety-clack and roll of the cylinder.

Impossible, but I am trying to find a shop now that can restore this gem.

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