“Be careful when you shop or the snake twin might eat you.” This was the warning I heard from one of my dad’s elderly friends who have been fondly telling her tale to me, my sister and my mom in the last half hour.
The urban legend goes about Robina Gokongwei having a snake twin named Robinson (hence the mall's name). He was said to live under the malls and stalk girls who enter the department stores and follow the ones he likes. If the victim enters the fitting room, she is taken through a trapped door and is gone forever. (For more details, click here.) This was recently discussed in my Literature class and we were asked to write this Reader Response Criticism (which is what most of this post was taken from). Aside from what was discussed in class and the link included, the old lady also mentioned about the snake twin throwing up gold, which, she says, is the reason for the Gokongwei family's wealth.
When I first heard the legend, it didn’t occur to me that it was true. I just laughed to myself and said, “I don’t even go to Robinson’s, so why bother?” But when I heard it for the second time in class, I got to thinking, “Why is this urban legend present?” At first I thought it was just because of Filipino’s fondness in supernatural beings. But could there be a deeper meaning to it?
It then occurred to me that it could be just a silly rumor created by one of their competitors. Being a teenager, I have had my share of rumors and teasing especially in high school and grade school. And hearing these things about you is sometimes, if not always, hurtful, especially if none of it was true. I remember being teased by my classmates and crying because of how much I hated the feeling of being humiliated. It was unexplainable; all I knew was that it hurt. This may be far from the Gokongwei’s case because it wouldn’t just hurt the people behind them emotionally, it would also affect their company, including the littlest employees.
But seeing how the Gokongweis still belonging to one of the richest families in the Philippines shows how well they have handled this urban legend. It made me realize that no matter how big or small an issue is, the way we handle it is what defines our situation. And I think this can be applied to what we experience, and will still experience, as teenagers. Inch-by-inch we are being exposed to the “real” world and we should be equipped with the right tools when we finally enter this strange world in a couple of years. In the future, if we become successful in our own chosen fields, people may try to bring us down. We should be able to handle things and not get affected about them.
Urban legends may seem fun to tell or listen to, but sometimes they may end up hurting others, one way or another. So as I listen to another of these stories next time and decide to share them to others, I would try to think twice about its consequences.