Saturday August 18, 2018

Wabe: Take time to unplug

Timeout Corner

IN THIS fast-paced technology-centric world, it is harder than ever to be “unplugged.” And this goes for all of us, not just our children. Those of us who enjoyed an analog childhood are now also hooked on gadgets with our digital adulthood. Let’s stop pretending that we can go back to the way it was before smartphones and unlimited Wi-Fi.

I won’t be surprised if one of the first things you reach for upon waking is your phone. Why? Because the internet is full of entertaining things that keep us hooked! And by the off chance that you accidentally leave your phone home, the desire to retrieve it is immense. This proves technology is now an integral part of our system, and it will continue to be integrated in our routines all throughout our lives.

Now, instead of merely restricting screen time—which we, especially our kids, see as some sort of torture and punishment—we need to teach our children and even ourselves this word; balance. In a technology abundant world, we all have to learn mindful usage and controlled consumption, so we can reap technology’s rewards and hopefully minimize its negatives (at the top is internet addiction).

Telling our kids to get off their gadgets is not enough, unfortunately. Modelling is important, because if the parent is on her device all the time (yes, I am guilty, too), it's highly likely that the kids will also want to keep using it. However, if the parent actually does other things and spends time outdoors, it will encourage the children to move. It may not make the kids immune to the pull of games and the internet, but it will show them there are other ways to spend time. Children get tired of listening to advice and are more inclined to imitate what they see.

In our quest for balance in my family, we try to show our kids the simple bukid life whenever we can. Usually on Sundays, my husband and I try to bring the children on a joy ride somewhere because we want them away from Wi-Fi and away from the consumerist influence of malls. We try, even if it can be hard with work and school obligations; but this is a commitment we do because we want to show our children the simple joys of life.

There’s also something about being stuck in the closed confines of the car that fosters bonding. We also want to teach them that travel doesn’t always have to be in some fancy overseas touristy place to be considered epic.

Not every single photo we snap makes it onto social media, but last week’s scenic route to Lantapan, Bukidnon is worth a share. Not only were we treated to panoramic vistas with Mt. Kitanglad as the backdrop, but our final destination called Cafe Sa Bukid really surprised us. My husband has been there before with his motorcycle, but the actual place exceeded mine and my kids’ expectations. We couldn’t believe that this quaint cafe—about 100km from home, sitting in the middle of nowhere—has a heart. They’re eco-friendly and environment conscious.

The Cafe Sa Bukid doesn’t allow shoes in the second floor main dining are. Aside from the usual tables and chairs, there are pillows and mats on the floor. They have kitschy printed “hugot lines” used as decor.

What’s lofty is their use of bamboo straws, wooden utensils, banana leaves, etc. The fruits/veggies they serve in their food and shakes are grown from their own farm. On top of that, there’s a little farmer’s market by the side of the cafe that sells their harvest. This September, there will be strawberry picking; schedules shall be posted on their FB page with the same name.

And of course, the icing on the cake—there is no Wi-Fi. Guests have no choice but to talk to their dining companions. If you’re not keen on talking, you can soak up the majestic view and breathe in the fresh mountain air. It is during moments like this without our gadgets when I feel like my family can really connect with each other. We may all have hundreds of FB friends, but the real relationships we must nurture are with those people who are literally right under our nose.

My kids don’t always like the places we go to. But since this is something we’ve been doing for awhile, they’ve gotten used to this; and I dare say they like it, too, especially when we find hidden gems like Cafe Sa Bukid. Now that they’re older, they’re more invested and have more fun making this balik bukid mission very worth it. Memories, after all, can’t be made when we are glued to our gadgets.

My kids are definitely learning from their dad (who’s a big-bike-rider) that sometimes, it’s not just the destination but the journey itself that matters. Most of all, my little millennials realize that there’s life to live beyond Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.

Where the magic happens is off-line and off-the-beaten path. The best memories are those that live in the heart and experienced with real, alive, and breathing people we love in this beautiful place called the real world.