Enchanted Kingdom – one of the most popular amusement parks there are today. Considering that there are only two well-known amusement parks in Luzon, and it being the more popular one, Enchanted Kingdom can loosely be called the best amusement park in the Philippines to date!
I’m not sure if everyone’s childhood was similar, seeing as I’m from the south, but mine was heavily marked by Enchanted Kingdom. I’m not saying I was there everyday, but judging by how excited I was every single time we were going, you could tell that I enjoyed every second of every time we went.
I’m so not exaggerating. If I had a scanner, I’d show you all a picture my 9-year old self lifting my shirt up in EK.
Looking back, EK was one of those things that my parents would use as a reward. Something similar to “I’ll buy you a new toy car if you finish your food,” or “You can play in the park the whole day tomorrow if you get an E in Filipino.” But sometimes, it would just be for fun. I grew up with the concept that going to EK was more of like a privilege, not something that came up in random.
When a few years passed, I began to realize that going to EK was not exactly cheap. Back in the day, when shelling out ₱500 was a big deal (which it still is for me, call me cheapo), EK was sort of a mini-vacation already. That’s why one thing I learned from all these years of going to EK was to bring your ID! Thank God for students’ discount.
Given that, it surprised me when I realized the crowd in EK. I never minded it when I was young, but then it dawned on me, and a question appeared repeatedly in my head: what are people like you doing here?
And if you are currently choosing to believe the good side of me, then you are choosing wrong. The actual question that I was itching to ask many of the people in EK was, “How did you afford to get in here?”
Go on, judge me. I’m aware that it’s a horrible thing to think, but then that is exactly why I never voiced it out. Later on, I also became aware of how me thinking so was actually contradicting the way I felt about certain things in society.
I’ve been to EK 4 times in the past 2 years, which is a high average compared to the years before that. Of course I enjoyed the rides and everything that comes with an EK trip, but it still bugged me. 80% of the people around us belonged to the crowd that looked like going to EK was extravagant for their living. At this rate, I ruled out the possibility that I was merely stereotyping, because of that 80%, 100% looked the type.
The judgmental, laitera side of me noticed – from how the spoke, how they acted, how the reacted, how they smelled, how they dressed, and how they looked like – that they were not like me. They did not come from a family that had the same lifestyle as mine. But what could I do? Even as a child, I didn’t have the slightest aversion to, for lack of a better word, poor people. Although that did not stop me from assuming how grand and extravagant a trip to EK was for them.
There were only a couple of times that I minded their presence. One was when I went there last year with my family. We were in line for the Ferris wheel, and there was this *cough* poor *cough* girl who kept bumping my sister. The line was really long, so the instances where we’d move forward a bit were frequent. And every time we would do so, the girl behind my sister would either bump her or stand creepily near her. Even though my sister is 8 years older than me, I always feel a protective kick in me when it comes to her. So of course, I snapped. I told the girl to keep away from my sister, thank you very much. She might have simply been rude, but I have to admit, I didn’t rule out the probability that she was trying to steal something out of Jai’s bag. Not absolutely impossible.
A new observation that updated my train of thought when it came to the crowd in EK was that a lot of them now had SLR cameras. Yes, it’s another judgmental thing of me to say, but it didn’t really seem right to me. I don’t even have an SLR camera, how did these guys afford it? All that I could register was someone holding an SLR camera, snapping a shot and sniggering, “Jejeje.”
Our field trip to EK, which was obviously my latest visit, made me note something new along my past observations. Our trip was really fun. Although I wasn’t with my usual crowd (AKA my family), I had a lot of fun. The rides were as fun as ever, and the whole experience ofEnchantedKingdomthat makes you feel all giddy inside was still alive. It just does that to you. And at that moment when I realized how oftenEnchantedKingdombrings this feeling to everyone, I began to ask myself, what does it matter?
For years, I’ve been noting how strange it was that a lot of outsiders from my world went to EK a lot. But why should I care? The thought alone of anyone being able to experience the fun thatEnchantedKingdomoffers should have made me smile inside. If I enjoy it so much, why should I be suspicious or curious as to how or why people like them go? What gives me the right to think that people like me deserve to be there more than people like them?
And with this thought in mind, I just realized how stupid I was for drawing that margin. Who cares what I am or what they are? Who cares how they see me or how I see them? We are all equal. To think that all my life, I’ve been strongly against discrimination of any sort: sexism, racism, and homophobia. And here I was, judging other people just because in my eyes, they did not belong to my sacred amusement park.
My description of Enchanted Kingdom does not matter; it is up to you to experience it. But one thing I can say is this: the magic is there, and for everyone it should be.
SA21 – A