Fifteen years ago, I would make sure that I am at home every Friday evening to watch Pokemon on our local tv channel. The series and I have a personal attachment because it played a big role in my life when I was growing up. An allotment of thirty minutes a week will be spent watching the series and the rest of my time will be spent day dreaming of becoming a legendary pokemon master. I have turned tennis balls into pokeballs and throw them at cats in the neighborhood because I wanna catch’em all! Balikbayan boxes were very much awaited not because of the shoes and chocolates from the US but for the pokemon merchandise such as comics, keychains and other toys that are hand me downs from my cousin. No matter how small or cheap some of them were, they were my prized possessions during my high school days.
Fast forward a decade and a half, Niantic released Pokemon Go and the whole world caught the Pokefever. Kids and kids at heart from the Philippines had to wait for a month just for the official release in our country. A week ago, I was tagged on a facebook post announcing pokemon go is available in the Philippines. My world stopped, I had to drop everything just to download the app and then.. my second childhood began.
Succumbed by the system
As pokefans rejoiced while seeing their lifetime dream come true on the screens of their phone, not everyone can understand the feelings of a frustrated gym trainer. Some say it’s passe because the half of the world already got pokemon go ahead of the Philippine launch. Others just see it as a waste of time and money. Explaining the pokefever to someone who didn’t grow up watching, reading and playing pokemon would be as hard as explaining how others are so insane about Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Vilma Santos, and mountain bikes. I really don’t understand why would someone purchase a high end bike or a ticket to a Mariah Carey concert that would cost a fortune but I have nothing against them. You see folks, we have different passions and as long as we don’t hurt anyone while we are fulfilling our dream of becoming a pokemon master, just let us be and we won’t judge you if you do a Vilma Santos marathon this weekend. Do not judge a millennial on his thirties walking in parks while looking at the screen of his cellphone, he is just fulfilling his childhood dream. Pokemon is not new us, it had been in our system for 15 years and the passion was just recently reawakened. We are not succumbed by the system, we are the system.
More than a week after its release, I have not heard of any pokemon related incidents that led someone to get harmed. However, I was alarmed when I saw some kids walking on the streets with very expensive phones which can be easily snatched by real life Team Rocket. Grown-ups had also been seen driving around in cars and motorcycles doing gym battles, collecting pokeballs at pokestops and staying in popular places where lure modules are activated. While a lot of poketrainers are responsible enough, some do not follow traffic rules. Traffic congestion are often caused by cars parked on both side of the road of pokestops. Not only is this a nuisance to other motorists and commuters, it can be a cause of accidents.
Simultaneous adulthood and childhood
More than a week after the release of Pokemon Go here in the Philippines, I have met a handful of new friends and reconnected with a lot of old ones while staying in a park where a lure module is activated. One difference in of Pokemon Go from other games is that it allows face to face interaction of players. A pokemon would show up every few minutes which allows the users to physically converse with each other and share stories about anything, even job referrals. It is hard to go against this trend and certainly it is close to impossible to stop it. As long as it does not harm anyone, affect the studies of students, consume the working hours of employees, max out credit cards and break relationships, I see nothing wrong with Pokemon Go. Recently, the city mayor of Zamboanga posted an advisory and deployed police men to pokestops. This makes it a lot safer for pokemon trainers and ensure that the traffic of vehicles will remain smooth.
During my hunting, I crossed paths with Glenn Maravilla and Dennis Chan, who are both students of Ateneo de Zamboanga. Glen was driving his motorcycle while Dennis was holding their phones. Both were wearing helmets and they parked at a safe distance to collect pokeballs at a pokestop nearby which showed an example of being a responsible pokemon trainer. The kid inside us were surely awakened by Pokemon Go but it shouldn’t stop us from becoming responsible adults at the same time.