I was born in a family where teddy bears or other stuffed toys weren’t common or weren’t even bought as gifts to the children. I don’t recall receiving a teddy bear or a stuffed toy. I recall having a little plastic doll as one of my toys. There were clay pots, too, and sardine cans converted into carts with wheels made of soft drink bottle caps or what they call tansan. There were many toys from native materials that everybody enjoyed playing with. Nobody among the kids brought a teddy bear as far as I can recall. We were a happy lot, though, so to speak, baked by the sun most of the time, bathed in our sweat and smell, and clad in assorted threadbare shirts and shorts.
I and my siblings and all the kids in our neighborhood grew to play the traditional games of piko, patintero, luksong baka, luksong tinik, agawan base, patay-patayan, hand clapping games, calahoyo, holen, chinese garter, jack en poy, to name a few. One can learn about these games at Wikipedia. Just search for ‘traditional games in the Philippines‘.
My father is a private contractor of painting and carpentry jobs. One day, he brought me along with him to the house of one of his clients. The house was big and I was introduced to the daughter who was my age. I maybe eight or nine years old that time. The daughter was kind, as I remember (otherwise, I will remember if she’s not nice :D), and she invited me to play with her. She said “Laro tayo ng teddy bear ko! (Let’s play with my teddy bear!)” Recollecting, I was not able to say anything but my uninformed inner-self was screaming, “Hindi ko alam kung ano ang teddy bear. (I do not know what a teddy bear is.)” She made me follow and finally we were in a playing space just beside the house with a few of her toys which are all novelty items to me. They looked so pretty and shiny and colorful except for one that looks like a furry animal.
The girl, unaware of my ignorance, took the furry animal toy and said to me, “‘Eto si Teddy. (Here is Teddy.)” It was like she was introducing Teddy, the furry animal, the teddy bear (must be, I thought), to me. I was so speechless at that time and it felt like an overwhelming feeling of joy and sadness took over me. I played anyway.
I must have pushed away those feelings I didn’t want that I had when we got home. Days past and life went on. There were many teddy bears I met along the way. I haven’t had one up to the time I was an adult. It seemed that I deliberately did not allow to be fond of that toy. It was a painful reminder and the defense mechanism was to ignore.
Things changed when I had my first baby. The beautiful tiny baby girl had no idea that she will be meeting Teddy early on.