I grew up surrounded by aunts who just got converted as born again Christians then. But the rest of my family are devout Catholics. Those aunts of mine were iconoclasts, as in literally not because they broke stereotypes but they broke icons, literally hahaha. They smashed decades old religious icons from my grandma’s house. They threw out the statue of Virgin Mary out the window, followed by the cutie Sto. Nino, pulled the rosaries until the beads fell on the ground then ranted Bible verses condemning idolatry. Poor grandma, she was the one who witnessed all of that. It was just told to me in vivid detail when I was four because I was totally creeped out when they forced me to kneel and pray the rosary with them for my dead grandpa’s wake. They meant it as an explanation on why the statues were cracked. We were kneeling in front of those icons that were obviously put back together by rugby. Those icons were creepy enough before, old and faded, blank eyes staring at you. The cracked faces with dried out ooze of rugby increased the creepy factor.
There was a lot of drama when my relatives talk about their conflicting religious beliefs, I was too young enough to care. However, what caught my interest was their common belief that there are satanists about. It was the early 80s and brit punk rock and heavy metal abound, along with big haired, shoulder padded teeny boppers and glam rockers. The tabloids didn’t help either, with headlines like:
NATAGPUANG PUTOL NA PAA NG BATA, HINIHINALANG BIKTIMA NG SATANISTA
Kids like me were asked by parents to wear the rosary around our necks when we go to school. Looking back, I think it was just a lame attempt to cover up the real issue. Probably the kids who got kidnapped were shipped out in some remote province or another southeast Asian country to work either as sex slaves, sweat shop workers or soldiers for an extremist group. And those dismembered appendages were meant as an example to those who wanted to run away from the gang. Were the grown ups then too naïve? Was the press so scared to write anything about the government or our economy that they thought it was ok to entwine the supernatural with reality without trying to dig deeper on what’s behind all of it?
Since the grownups at home were so stressed out about the satanist crap, at school I tried to know more about it. I read the Time Life books and those other hard bound book series like condensed encyclopedias that dealt with supernatural stuff. It scared and amused me at the same time. Same effect when I watch the Twilight Zone. [Hey don’t get the idea that I’m some sort of a witch/Wiccan/goth girl, I’m not.] I even read the Bible’s Old Testament and Revelation at home coz it was so gory, scary and just plain interesting for me, but my aunts thought that I was just being some sweet Jesus-loving girl.
People fear a lot of different stuff throughout their lives across decades and generations. Most have trouble adjusting to what’s new or what others are into if it falls outside the tiny box they comfortably snuggled into. But as kids that’s the point when our box is so big we want to fill it in as much as we could. At home my aunts were saying that there were some satanistic bands or rock stars, making the devil’s work easier, spreading the message of satan subconsciously and that we must be vigilant with whatever we do. You can hear those messages if you play cassette tapes backwards, they call it backmasking. Most of those backmasked messages were so garbled, you can hear anything that you want to hear. I really didn’t get the point with the trouble of backmasking those tapes anyway. Why can’t they just say it outright, it takes too much EFFORT to decipher it. And they say the road to hell is wide and easy…
Again I got interested with something they were warning me against. Punk rockers, their eyes, mohawks and weird hair and boots. I didn’t know the word “ cool” at that time to describe it, but I knew the feeling when you see something “cool.” Same with those metal bands, they sure are noisy, I could not understand the lyrics but I knew they were trying to say something. Their tattoos were so cool.
Enterprising candy and snack makers targeted kids with their cool freebie. Instead of toys from chickadees, some gave out magic tattoos. It’s like stickers for your body and it doesn’t peel unless you wash it off good. It was all the rave for kids, some feel that they were rockers, wrestlers, rebels or gang members. I thought it was cute and wow what an invention, kids won’t have to go through the pain of getting a tattoo. Boring adults thought we were having too much fun, maybe they thought we might actually get tattoos when we get old enough. So they generated this rumor that magic tattoos have LSD, a drug that will make you do crazy things. Will turn you into an addict and become a criminal. It didn’t scare me.
But I was obedient and just kept my thoughts safe in my head and never disappointed them, always looked the part of their nice little girl.