The Age of ‘Innocence’

“Pagbigyan mo na, bata yan eh.” (“Give way to them; they’re just kids.”)

If you grew up in the Philippines, at one time or another, you’ve probably heard this, whether from you parents, relatives, teachers, or elders. It’s a common practice and belief here that if you’re the older person, you should know better and therefore, be more forgiving and tolerating of the younger person. This practice is mostly used to appease fights between an older sibling and a younger sibling, or between an older child and a younger friend/classmate.

But how young is ‘young’? Up to what age should we still be using this line to excuse a younger person’s bad behavior?

Say, in the workplace, where you’re all working professionals and in the same position. Is this still a plausible excuse? I once knew this girl, she’s young, yes, but already an adult and a working professional. For some reason, she felt that every time somebody in our work place bested her in something, that person was being a show-off and being obnoxious. And how did we know this is how she felt? Because she sure wasn’t shy about letting her opinions known – behind our backs. Unfortunately for her though, some of her ‘friends’ told me about the nasty things she’d been saying. Another example of her bratty behavior is how she’d leave her place a total mess, not even caring about the next person who will be there. With all her petty behavior, all I ever heard from her ‘friends’ as defense of her is, “Pagbigyan mo na, bata pa eh.”

Which brings me back to my question: How young is ‘young’? You know, there is an expiry date for this type of excuse. One day, I got totally fed up with this line that I retorted, “Yes, she’s young, but she’s not THAT young as to still be ignorant of what’s right and what’s wrong.” Really, if you’re at that age already where you should know what’s right and what’s wrong, age is no longer an excuse for nasty behavior.

Your behavior is based on your beliefs, not your age, and what you do and say, over and over again, helps develop your habits. So, even at an early age, let’s diminish this habit of excusing a person by reason of age. Be less concerned with age; more with character – at whatever age we are.


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