How the local media cheapened the coverage of 2010 elections

I am now beginning to question the wisdom behind blow by blow accounts of the election process all over the Philippines conducted by the big three television networks. Yes, the coverage was comprehensive, in fact it was hyperbolically comprehensive that they all hardly left minute details unmentioned. In fact sometimes, viewers would get an idea that the contents of news did not vary, only the place and the people involved.

The three big networks, ABS-CBN, GMA7, and ABC5, all fell in the shallow puddle of mere events reporting. Although it is worth mentioning that ABS-CBN went a bit against the grain by including a small analysis of the candidates. But this was an exception rather than a rule.

Yes, the Commission on Election was, as it has always been, sloppy and inept in doing the only thing it was supposed to spearhead and supervise, thereby giving our overeager journalists a field day reporting about malfunctioned PCOS, flying voters, disorganized system, and other election related incidents such as massive vote buying, killings, intimidation, and cheating.

The problem was that nothing got past the already negativistic and cynical perspective taken by the media, a point of view they take usually by default.

Little was reported about the quick and efficient conduct of polls in other parts of the archipelago. Little was reported about the heroic deeds done by our public school teachers who have been plunged in such dangerous places doing responsibilities no one would be willing to undertake in exchange of 1500 pesos allowance. My mother, a public high school teacher in South Cotabato, who chaired a cluster, can not even answer my calls until this time. I wonder if she has already eaten her dinner. Little was reported about the people who braved it all — fatigue, heat, hunger — just so they could vote and despite this still maintained their calm because they know they are doing something for the future of this country.

But reporting about long lines, overheated PCOS machines, irate voters who until this time have not even voted, and the grim future that lies ahead, it appeared to me, was local media’s very definition of newsworthiness. Boring analyses made by experts do not rate therefore a waste of precious airtime.

The networks and the reporters have chosen the easier way, a methodology that requires nothing much but stating the obvious.

Local media survive in redundancies and repetition. It is mind blowing how they do these. They do not get tired hearing themselves saying things they’ve already said moments ago. For a reporter, to be an effective election reporter in the Philippines he must love how he sounds so much so that he would not mind hearing himself saying the same thing every fifteen minutes in a 24-hour cycle.

Watching television coverage of election in the Philippines had been a traumatic experience. One will simply bleed in the shallowness of reportage.

A field reporter reporting live from Naga related that there were 16 ballots rejected by the machine; someone from Commonwealth, Quezon City reported about seven ballots rejected; from Davao City 11 ballots. But who cares? Should we owe it to the public to spare the people these unnecessary information?

Or that Noynoy Aquino got 237 votes from a precinct in Tondo, Joseph Estrada got 212 from the same polling cluster, and that Binay lead by 36 vote over Roxas who only got 17? Do we waste that same precious airtime on the pettiness of these pieces of information?

I say no. But I was traumatized to learn that the local media’s response was a resounding yes.

The new technologies, instead of empowering the public and involving the people in the exercise of democracy are cheapened by pseudo-journalists who parrot mindless reporting, predictable storytelling, and unverified reports which only heighten public distrust on our institutions. Forgetting that although there are parts of the process that are found wanting, in general automated election is better than manual. If only we get over our fear of technology.

If one entirely based his assessment of the election on the news he is getting from the media, he will without doubt think that the Philippines is the worst country in the world, even worse than little heard and hopeless countries in Africa such as Mozambique, Somalia, and Rwanda. If he believed in everything he hears and sees on TV, I’d be wondering why he had not committed suicide until this time by slitting his throat, licking the indelible ink on his index finger until high silver nitrite content poisons him, or simply running amuck until the military shoots him dead.

Good thing the Filipino is left with a little sense and maintains an almost unconditional and supernaturally-inspired hope for the future.

I’m still wondering what has happened to my mother. She has not returned my calls until now. I’m worried.

Lessons on resource mobilization

power of giving

I was a witness to my parent’s power to mobilize resources at the quickest possible time, with efficiency that could even rival that of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

We were in the middle of a very late breakfast when my parents proved to me again something that I am all too aware even before – my parent’s almost magical, if not occult-like, power to cause spontaneous generation of anything.

Our family has no concept of brunch; we breakfast at around 10 am during Saturdays and Sundays and move our lunch time to 2:30 in the afternoon. On our table are the usual poor man’s breakfast – fried fish, laswa (an Ilonggo dish made from a smorgasbord of vegetable from our backyard garden), and steaming rice. This is something I have been complaining about ever since I arrived home three weeks ago.

We heard a vehicle pulling over in front of our gate. A group of women got off a small pick up truck led by the youngest sister of my mother who is active in a Protestant religious group called Kingdom that is based in Davao City. There were 13 of them. She asked if they could have their lunch in our house. My mother being the ever hospitable did not hesitate to say yes.

I asked her how come. One moment were having a very simple breakfast of fish and sticky vegetable soup on Tupperware dishes, and in a matter of 15 minutes, she uncovered her expensive-looking china which I am sure she got at a bargain. She then asked my father to cook six chupas of rice, which translates to roughly 2 ½ kilos, and lo and behold, he’s using a really big pot that looks like the ones used by witches, which I do not know we have, until he started cooking rice.

My mother then removed a slab of frozen pork from the freezer and started thawing it in running water. After a minute, she changed her mind and took a 500-peso bill from her purse, gave it to my father and instructed him to buy roasted chickens in the plaza corner. It was too fast, and before I could comprehend what was occurring before me, my aunt and her team started devouring what we served them.


From this I learned important lessons about resource mobilization:

1. In a tightly knit society where people living next door know what you will have for dinner, it is a rule of thumb to live modestly and if possible blend in to keep them from concocting ugly stories whose subject is your steamy private life set in a French-like atmosphere of a film noir. People in rural areas are very post-modern without them being aware of it.

2. Expensive-looking china are not for every-day use. You’ll never know when a horde of religious women, who gets easily impressed by them, comes visiting your place.

3. Big pots are of extreme importance, and like the expensive-looking china, should be kept hidden as to avoid triggering your extremely nosy neighbors from inventing stories that can start modern-day witch hunt.

4. Set breakfast time, especially during weekends, at a normally accepted time; between seven to nine o’clock in the morning is the safest. This is to avoid being caught unaware by eventualities such as unexpected guests who always make it a point to schedule their visits at awkward moments and you’re in your ugliest housedress, giving you no time to mobilize needed resources.

5. In case you decide that you do not to bother yourself with these mundane tasks on a weekend, lock you gate and pretend you’re away enjoying your two days on a deserted island alone. This time, you can take advantage of your neighbors who will make stories, colorful ones, without you having to hint anything. From an escapade with an imaginary paramour, a dead body you want to dispose of in a coral atoll, to as grand as you contemplating to purchase an entire island.

The face of ‘assembly line production’


It was around midnight; we were sitting outside one of the many cheap coffee shops that line the pavement in front of the employees’ entrance of Dole Philipines in Sta. Cruz Village more popularly called Tondo because of its resemblance to a district in Manila where it got its name.

I was having coffee with two of my high school classmates who just arrived from Cebu after their review and passing the recent Mechanical Engineering board exam. As what was proper, we talked about our plans for the future, the changes we’re undergoing, and the mounting responsibilities awaiting us. We all agreed that if there’s one thing that makes us happy despite the daunting tasks ahead it’s our youth along with our unwavering hope for what is ahead. Although we’re the same starry eyed high school students who used to roam the narrow streets of Tondo more than six years ago, nothing much has changed, only this time we are in a better position to realize those dreams.

With us were Dole employees who were having their midnight coffee break from work, some of them were even wearing their head caps and hair nets from work as if the time they will spend taking off these oddly-colored cotton caps used to keep their hair from contaminating the pineapples during canning will take away precious seconds from their 15- or 30-minute break. Some faces were familiar.  Some of them have been former schoolmates in the nearby public high school where I studied. But most were like faces described by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in his turn-of-the-century novels: tired, blank, resigned, devoid of any emotion – not even sadness or grief.

After having sipped the remaining coffee from my cup, a heard a familiar voice calling my name. He was a batch mate. This I was certain of because only people close to me and studied at the same time with me call me ‘Fev’. I was surprised because although the voice was familiar, the impression of the origin of the voice was not. I was only able to confirm that the source of the voice was a former schoolmate after the light from the street lamp above us lighted his face. But he has drastically changed. He grew his hair to shoulder length, wore a pair of jeans more suited to a woman, and developed a more rounded and feminine body.

He was on his way home and interestingly, like other employees that time, was still wearing his head cap. I told him to join and have coffee with us. He hesitated at first but after some prodding and curious questions about his obvious transformation, he yielded and promised to stay for the next thirty minutes.

He is currently working for a job agency that partners with Dole Philippines by providing contractual workers that are paid less than regular company-hired employees and with limited benefits. He is being paid ‘pakyawan’; meaning, unlike regular employees that are paid by the hour, this former schoolmate and his team are paid based on the total work done for their shift.

According to him, a line, usually composed of around twenty employees, has to finish 100 bins of papayas that are initially steamed using a machine that softens the skin; then the fruits are peeled by the next team. Another group removes the seeds; still another does further peeling, then cutting these cleaned papayas into cubes for canning.


Each of these bins contains 50 genetically modified papayas that can be as big as a six-month old baby. This line of work, my friend added, does not follow a strict 8-hour work day as their work productivity is gauged using the number of bins dispatched to the canning department. The team can work for less than eight hours a day if it finishes the 100 bins within that time, but this is something that seldom happens. During slow days, the work can take as long as 10 hours. He receives 500 pesos a day, without overtime pay.

His task is to remove the seeds, which according to him, is not at all that difficult and which he  is really good at, except that it requires him to lift the papaya boats to remove all the seeds. This was the reason why he had to stop taking estrogen to complete his transformation, as the hormone made him less powerful in lifting big papaya boats.

He was joking about his work, but I knew his work was not a joking matter. It was like the odd-looking head caps they wear at work, during breaks, and even on their way home after a tiring shift – funny but dead serious.

He said he will be resigning by January of next year and find a better work prospect either in Davao or Cebu City.

After six years, we met again almost like strangers; parted ways, even more stranger to the kind of life each lives. This time the disconnect between us and the kind of work each does has become even greater. Although we know a snippet of each other’s, none of us will fully understand what he is or I am doing.

Late night conversations with my mother


We’re both light sleepers, and I am positive that I have gotten my aversion towards sleep from her. So our conversations stretch for hours until early morning, just few hours before she wakes up for her class at seven in the morning.

After dinner, when everyone has left the dining table, my mother and I are left to catch up with what we’ve left behind after not seeing each other for more than two years. So instead of washing the dishes, I get two tiny cups, empty two sachets of instant coffee and pour boiling water into the cups to dissolve the powder. This signifies the start of a long conversation until one of us calls it a night. Usually I.

The subjects of our conversations seldom vary. I noticed that we’ve been talking about almost the same things every time. This happens every time my siblings and I come home for Christmas, or in times like this when one of her children all of a sudden feels tired of life. This time it is I.

I always get the same reactions from her, the same tone of voice, the same pride whenever she relates to me her adventure when she was nine years old outwitting older people, how she and my father first met, and how she remembers the kindness of her dead father. Sometimes, if the conversation gets too emotional, she cries. Since I do not have the talent in consoling crying people, I just remain seated in my seat and try to sound as empathic as possible.

It made me feel proud of myself that year, I was home for the Christmas break. I came home without having to ask from my parents money for my fare as I attended a conference in Davao City that time. I decided to pay my family a visit for the holidays. I was sixteen years old then, my first year in college. I knew she was missing me so much as I told her that I would be spending Christmas at the university. The expression on her face upon seeing me alighting from a taxi in front of our house was that of Luigi Pirandello’s mother character welcoming his son arriving from war, alive and well.

That night, after our Christmas eve dinner, my mother and I had a conversation. Our talk did not have any format, theme, whatsoever. We simply wanted to listen to each other’s voice and stories, some we’ve already heard so many times that each can recount with accuracy the exact words used, the facial twitching, and even the part which should be given emphasis. But it was different that time, I felt her regard for me, how she addressed me like an adult, almost her equal. That time, I knew I was silently welcomed by my mother into the adult world.

And I always look forward to these conversations whenever I come home. At least, with my mother, I need not sound suave, intelligent, or self-confident; neither do I have to worry for the right word or the correct accent. And I expect nothing from her either. I just have to be her son, but someone who has gone a little bit older.

On the lack of sense of the ridiculous and the absurd of artista searches in the Philipines

Starstruck 5

Our sense of the ridiculous and the absurd keeps us from embarrassing ourselves. These, along with the presence of conscience and the ability to make use of language to facilitate communication, differentiate us from other members of the animal kingdom and other organisms. Something that elevates us a few notches above lichens, sea cucumbers, house cats, penguins, Portuguese man o’ war, and baboons*.

I seemed to have suffered from short-term lock jaw (thank god the show lasted for only an hour) after watching in television the Mindanao leg of the artista search Starstruck of GMA7 held in the big cities of Cagayan de Oro and Davao. My jaw literally dropped. The shame these people have to undergo or to subject themselves to just to get the attention of the judges and the pathetic crowd was perplexing, dumbfounding, and need I say, bewildering.

The show is a potpourri of the hopefuls, the frustrated, the untalented, or simply the lunatics There was this guy in a coiffured metallic colored mane who spoke in the most heavily Visayan accented Tagalog I’ve heard but whose level of confidence is as stiff and as towering as his gelled hair do. I wondered what happened to him.

Most of these young people who auditioned for the show have a common narrative. Poverty. A woman forced by her parents to marry a 40-year old American, a poor transsexual from Misamis, a poor teenager whose both parents have to leave the country to work and send money back home. These stories, although real, have been repeatedly exploited by shows like Starstruck for ratings and profit. The truths in these stories sound hypocritical (I do not say that they are hypocritical). People will eventually cease to believe and start to mock these stories.

These shows patterned after the already dull, neuron deadening, and numbing American originals, are made even more absurd and ridiculous by the local color. This is after the addition of the all Filipino drama of poverty, family discord, personal search to prove one’s worth in this vast universe, and the supernatural enough to inspire Gabriel Garcia Marquez to write something that will rival his novels already written in the tradition of magic realism.

Somebody will cry foul after reading this article, and his argument, I believe, will run in the line of respecting man’s right to determine his fate and his inalienable right to pursue his happiness. But this is exactly the reason why I wrote this, to preserve our humanity, to keep that line that separates us from ticks, pubic crabs, sea gulls, and airborne microscopic organism intact. Please, let’s hold on to our sense of the absurd and the ridiculous.

*My apologies to those creatures mentioned.

Stabbed in the face, fear of blood, the danger of being alone with a psycho, and the gnawing feeling of being killed in broad daylight

We both received an SMS from our mother that her half-sister was stabbed in the face in her office on Tandang Sori Avenue and was confined in New Era General Hospital. My brother and I hurriedly went north of Manila, not knowing where the hospital is located, to visit an aunt we have never met.

We found the hospital situated beside the mammoth church of Iglesia ni Cristo along Commonwealth. This confused us because according to our mom this sisters of hers is a devout follower of Kingdom of Jesus Christ, a sect organized in Davao City by the animating evangelist Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy, so she can’t be in a hospital run by Iglesia ni Cristo. But recalling that her family lives on Tandang Sora which is adjacent to Commonwealth, then the choice of hospital made sense. As if she had a choice after she was made into an emery bag by some psycho.

Along the way, my brother tried to call our mother who at that time was attending the burial of her grandmother. We forgot to ask her the name of her sister and the family name of her husband. This meant not being able to enter the hospital. But of course we couldn’t afford to go home after traveling from Makati to Quezon City and giving up a portion of our weekend rest without seeing our aunt. So we went ahead and gave a description to the person in the information counter.

“Yong dentist po na nasaksak sa mukha (the dentist who was stabbed in the face). Is she confined here?” I swear I must have said it in a very funny way that caused the man I was talking to smile a bit. Or the situation itself  was funny.

“Room 209 sa second floor.”

Crime Scene by Cati Kaoe

We were surprised at the laxness of the security in the hospital. We showed him our IDs which he barely took notice of then proceeded to writing something in his log and left us to meander in that labyrinthine, dark, and humid hospital. We found the ward and but seen  no one satisfying the description our mother gave us. The four middle-aged women inside were either moderately ill-looking or not bloody-enough to be suffering from repeated knife thrusting blows, and of all places, in the face.

We asked the personnel in the nearest nurses’ station as to where our aunt was; they indifferently pointed to the recovery room. My brother and I argued as to who should go first. At that time I was carrying a tumbler of Gatorade. I told my brother, Des Neil, to finish what was left so that I could go first. I advised him, “You’ll need all the sodium and electrolytes in that drink to prepare you for whatever you’ll see.” I opened the door and went inside the air-conditioned recovery ward. There were three beds. We found our mom’s sister in the middle lying in her bed, her son on her side fanning himself.

There are situations we place ourselves into when we hardly know how to react. My expectation did not even reach a quarter of what happened to her. Her face was grotesque. There were countless stitches of varying length that run in her chubby face. Her right cheek was swollen, bruised, and showed a translucent patch of darkened blood. She has stab wounds in her side. The back of her neck was even more swollen. One of her eyes could not see but both are as red as dynamited fish I used to avoid whenever I was the one tasked to go to the market by our mother. She would still be able to see, the doctor assured them. I was wondering if she could see us. I saw dried blood on her pillows as she was attempting to sit up to greet us.

Of course she never recognized us. We introduced ourselves, that we are the sons of their younger sister in her father side. She gave us a blank stare; I never expected a warmer welcome. Then she blurted “Ah kamo ang mga bata ni Dyutay nga mga alamon” (You’re the bright children of Dyutay [that’s how they endearingly call our mother]) .

I wryly asked her, “Kamusta ka na Ta?”

I was never good at empathizing. But I knew I was so scared.

I was occasionally looking at my brother who at the time seemed distubed. I thought he was just shocked because we’ve never seen something as gruesome as the sight of an aunt we’ve never met before. Des Neil started to go pail and nauseous. And before he could fall, I caught him by his shoulder and led him to a vacant seat. I feel sorry for my aunt because she thought her wounds scared my brother unconscious. My brother passed out after seeing on the other side of the room a woman having blood transfusion. Our family has this unexplained fear of seeing blood. I remember panicking whenever blood climbed up my intrevenous bag during that one and only time I was hospitalized due to amoebiasis in Davao City. 

That time in front of my aunt, my mind went into a trance. I was down to my senses; reason deserted me. I could never imagine the kind psychological make up of the person who did the thing to her. Her face was emaciated, frankensteined. My cousin retold the story for us.

She was alone in her office that day when a well dressed man entered her clinic in Tandang Sora. She recognized the man who was a former collector in a nearby water refilling station. The man wanted to have dentures fitted. My aunt, according to my cousin, being always helpful and never doubted the goodness in other, led him inside her clinic. But the unimaginable happened. The man took the empty pail and whack this on my aunt’s back. Despite this, she remained conscious. The man pulled her hair and hit her head on the wall several times. He then took my aunt’s dull kitchen knife she uses to scrape scab on healed wounds and with this stabbed my aunt in the face.

The neighbors, hearing the noise stormed the clinic. But shock took the better of them. The man managed to escape but some of the people who were around the place saw the commotion and ran after him. Somebody saw him jumped off a creek. The following day, his body was found floating in the murky water of that creek.

My aunt suffered from at least fifty stab wounds. But more than that she’ll forever carry with her the memory of that noontime when from nowhere a psycho felt a sudden itch to murder.

Nobody is safe these days. No one can brag about his security because lurking in the dark or even in broad daylight somebody who will kill you or leave you scarred for life, physically and emotionally, just so they can spite their inner demons.

Unang Patak ng Niyebe (First Snow Fall)

I wrote this short story in Filipino two years ago as one of the writing requirements for the Democracy Summer Fest Creative Writing Module sponsored by the American Embassy held in Davao City, Philippines. I already lost the manuscripts; however, I tried my best to be as faithful to the original as I possibly can. I also provided a translation in English:


Patakbong lumabas mula sa tarangkahan ng paaralan si Mito. Ramdam ng kanyang talampakan ang mga maliliit at matutulis na batong hindi lubusang naikubli ng kanyang manipis na dilaw na tsinelas. Hindi niya maitago ang saya dahil ito ang una niyang pagkakataong makapunta sa aklatang bayan ng Cajidiocan, Romblon.

Masuyo niyang tinahak ang daan at nagpalinga-linga sa mga dumaraang traysikel. Bilin ng kanyang nanay na mag-iingat sa daan. Inayos niya ang nakalambiting bag sa kanyang likod na naglalaman ng kanyang walang lamang baunan, isang lapis, at aklat sa Sibika at Kultura at Ingles. Nakipagpalitan muna siya sa isa niyang kaklase na dala nama’y aklat sa Agham at Araling Pantahanan.

Nasa ika-apat na baitang si Mito, subalit maliban sa apat na aklat na palagi niyang dala na kapalitan niya sa kanyang kamag-aral, hindi pa siya nakakita ng aklat na puno ng larawan gaya ng ikinwento ng kanyang nakatatandang kapatid na babae.

At dahil bukod-tangi ang araw na ito, nilakad niya mula sa kanilang mababang paaralan patungong bayan, humigit-kumulang 5 kilometro, upang basahin at mapagmasdan ang mga dahon ng aklat na puno ng makukulay na larawan at mga tanawan mula sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng mundo.

Pinigil niya ang kanyang paghinga nang matanaw niya ang “Cajidiocan, Romblon Public Library”.

Binati niya ang tagapamahala ng aklatan at inilapag sa mesa ang kanyang palatandaan. Pinagmasdan siya ng babae at nginitian niya si Mito. Ipinatong ni Mito ang kanyang bag sa kanyang paa upang takpan ang kanyang manipis na dilaw na tsinelas. Pagkatpos niyang itala ang kayang pangalan, tumuloy na siya sa loob.

Bagama’t maliit ang aklatan, nagmistula itong palasyo sa mga mata ng batang si Mito. Nagpalipat-lipat siya sa mga estante at binaybay ng kanyang mga daliri ang mga hanay ng mga aklat. Sa di kalayuan, natanaw niya ang isang aklat ng mga kwento. Binuksan niya ang mga pahina at sinimulang basahin ang isang kwentong nagsimula isang gabing umuulan ng niyebe. Nanginginig ang talukap ng kanyang mga mata habang binabaklay ang mga pahina ng kwento.
Sa puso niya, hiniling niya sa Diyos na dinadasalan ng kanyang ina ang pag-ulan ng niyebe.

Masid ang langit mula sa giwang ng bintanang nilisan ng mga kabibeng Capiz, nagdasal si Mito ng mataimtim.

Pagkalipas ng mahabang sandali, itiniklop niya ang aklat at ibinalik sa estante. Tinungo niya ang mesa ng tagapamahala, kinuha ang kanyang palatandaan at bag; patakbo siyang lumabas gaya ng patakbong niyang pagtungo sa aklatan.

Umihip ang malamig na hangin. Binuksan niya ang kanyang palad paharap sa himpapawid. Isang gabutil na niyebe and dumapo sa kanyang maliliit na daliri.

Kinabahan si Mito.


First Snow Fall

Mito came running out from the gates of his school. The sole of his feet felt the small and sharp stones that were not entirely dulled by his thinning yellow slippers. He couldn’t hide the happiness he felt because it was his first time to visit the municipal library of Cajidiocan, Romblon.

He carefully traced the way and look around once in a while for approaching tricycles. His mother told him to be very careful. He fixed his bag on his back which contained an empty lunch box, a pencil, and his two books in Civics and English. He just had them after he swapped his Science and Home Economics with a classmate.

Mito was already in his fourth grade. However, aside from the four books he always carried with him and which he exchanged with his other classmates, he had never seen a book full of pictures before like what his older sister told him.

And because this day is a special day, he walked from his elementary school to town, roughly five kilometers, to read and see the illustrations on the books full of pictures of sites from different places in the world.

He held his breath when he saw “Cajidiocan, Romblon Public Library”.

He greeted the librarian and placed on her table his school identification card. He looked at the woman, and she smiled back at Mito. He placed his bag on top of his feet to cover his thin, yellow slippers. After he wrote his name on the list, he then went inside.

Although the library is small, in young Mito’s eyes it was palatial. He shifted from shelf to shelf, and his fingers treaded the rows of books. From a not very far distance, he saw a book of stories. He opened the pages and started reading a story that started one snowy evening. His eyelashes shivered while they ambled through the pages. In his heart, he prayed to the God whom his parents pray to for snow.

Seeing the sky from the holes abandoned by what used to have been covered by capiz shells, Mito prayed with all sincerity.

After a long while, he closed the book and returned it in the shelf. He approached the table of the librarian, took his identification card and bag; he went out running like he did when he left his school.

The cold breeze blew. He opened his palm facing the sky. A grain of snow fell on his small outstretched fingers.

It frightened him.