Year of the Ape

I remember this story that my mum told me. As a child, she visited this family friend’s abode. The house per se was unremarkable, save for one difference maker. The family had a pet monkey. Not just for beautification purposes; they employed the ape to fetch them coconuts. Imagine this: a hairy primate climbing coconut trees, bringing them the fruits, and giving them high fives. Now, that’s progress. My mum inferred that the ape was trained. Even as a kid, she knew that primates didn’t just fetch cocos out of altruism.

In the media

She also has this primate sewing kit. The monkey head is really cute, until the zipper started acting up. Thankfully, we managed to remedy this hiccup. Anyhow, primates are well represented. Think of Marcel, Ross Geller’s pet in Friends. The former was a movie star and the latter adored him, even following him to San Fran. Ross even introduced him to his friends. He regards Marcel like another son. He tells Joey that apes are their ancestors. Big Bang Theory, another winning sitcom, had Amy doing experiments on this cheeky ape.

Going back in time, Congo was one of Crichton’s bestsellers and was adapted into film. I recall reading the book, before catching the movie on HBO. The novel, which featured intelligent apes running amok, was much better than the underwhelming feature. Of course, the book dealt with mountain gorillas (not monkeys). Congo was about the foreignness of the country. Rich in natural resources, the Congo remained a vast wilderness that westerners had only settled. The state hides as much as it presents and Crichton channels the strangeness through the merciless gorillas.

Speaking of gorillas, the Planet of the Apes franchise has consistently delivered. The reboot did a lot of good for them, which spawned hit after hit. The instalments not only won at the box office; they likewise scored well with the critics. While we’re at it, King Kong and Godzilla are exhibit A of what could go wrong with underfed primates and monsters. Hard to believe that the pair got the ball rolling even earlier than Planet.

The usefulness of pets

Going back to being trained, it would be nice to have a useful servant. Think of Dobby the house elf in Harry Potter. He may look weak and he may wear rags, but he’s a powerful critter who could do the laundry with a snap of his fingers. He’s extremely loyal and would protect his friends to the end. Even the Weasleys dreamed of having one. They had to settle for a ghoul in the attic.

Monkeys may have negative connotations but they remain highly intelligent creatures. You don’t have to be a Darwinist to see the similarities. They have been stereotyped as banana eating beings, but as per the aforementioned movies, they are also crafty.


There was this show when I was a kid. This kid had no respect for his elders. One day, his face turned into a monkey’s and he became the town’s curiosity. He regretted his actions and changed. Having understood the importance of good manners, his features were returned. Our teacher also told us this parable. The parents cooked and clean but the kids were insufferable ingrates. The parents told them repeatedly to wash their plates and cutlery but they never listened. One time, the parents got fed up as the dishes remained on the table. They looked for their offspring and found them playing outside. Enraged, they hit their kids with the utensils and cursed them. They grew tails and became the first monkeys.

Blank slate

I must admit that I believed that this week would be a blank slate. We were downing some coconut juice. My mum told me that some people didn’t like it.

‘It tastes like laundry water,’ according to white people.

She was about to pack the juice box away when I sighted this monkey in the container. Incidentally, we call this as buko juice or bj for short. As a Pinay comedian once intoned, ‘You’re right on time, doo.’

Her friend’s suitor had annoyed said actress.

‘Just come back next year,’ she told him.

Thankfully, that wouldn’t be the case with this week’s post.

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