Street Talk – The 3rd Age of Discovery and Exploration


 Good morning yesterday,

you wake up 

And time has slipped away…”

The song by Paul Anka got me to thinking about the turn  of the millennium – The Year 2000. Wasn’t it just like yesterday? Well, guess what: the children who were born “yesterday” have already reached the age of maturity! Indeed, “time has slipped away” without many of us noticing. 

Five of my six grandchildren – two of them age six, a  nine-year old girl and two 13-year old boys – think that video tapes,  CDs and telephones with cords are “antique pieces, old-fashioned stuff.” (“Grandpa, you mean people only used this device for making and receiving calls?”) My eldest grandchild, at 32 years, uses his smart phone as a handy encyclopedia and dictionary,  a GPS and a traffic situation tracker, a music box, a banking assistant, and a photo album (to list some functions),  and, oh yes, also for making and receiving calls (including video calls).

And speaking of encylopedias and dictionaries, my daughter wants to dump them in the recyclable bin, to save space. “You can always Google the information you need,” she insists.

It’s a whole new generation ushering in a new lifestyle and a new world – what I consider the 3rd Age of Discovery and Exploration.

Hold on. Hold on. Aren’t we still experiencing the 2nd Age of Discovery and Exploration? When did the 3rd Age begin?

To set some kind of chronological boundaries (give or take a few decades), I think the 2nd Age was around the period of the invention of the horseless carriage, and well into the Space Race and the development of digital technology.

But, as the song goes, that was “yesterday” and time is now slipping into the 3rd Age with the introduction of  driverless cars, artificial  intelligence and the exploration of Mars and the galaxies.

But what about the First Age of Discovery and Exploration? 

That Age, according to Wikipedia, came in the 1400s-1600s – the period when New Worlds were discovered and explored  by Portuguese and Spanish adventurers and when Pilgrims from England began to clear the forests for what would become the United States of America.  

Broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw wrote a book about The Greatest Generation. He was referring to those who came of age during WWII. I think that they and those of us who were born in the 1900s may claim to  be History’s Generation: a generation that experienced two world wars, as well as regional wars   in Korea, South America, Africa, Israel, and the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan, on top of other world-shaking scientific discoveries and events – such as the current and the 1918 pandemics – which have altered the history of mankind.

My late father was born in 1885.   He was eleven years old at the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution. I never got around to asking him about how significant that period was to him. 

I was born just before the outbreak of World War II. I consider it significant  that I and people my age experienced that war, the Japanese occupation and the liberation of the Philippines by The American Caesar, General Douglas MacArthur, the imposition of martial law by President Ferdinand Marcos, the assassination of Ninoy Aquino,  and the riots and the clashes during the People Power Revolution, as well as the beginning of the Space Race, in which Russia gained a headstart in 1957 by launching Sputnik, the world’s first satellite, and in 1961 when Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space.

I can still feel the thrill of seeing the US eventually catching up and actually watching Astronaut Neil Armstrong descending onto the surface of the moon in 1969,  taking “one small step for a man, one giant step for mankind”; and I continue to be horrified as I recall seeing the Twin Towers in New York crumbling after being rammed by terrorist planes on 09/11/2001 – all  of these events shown live on TV. I have a  newspaper issue reporting on the disintegration of the USSR and I’ve viewed documentaries on the defeat of America in Vietnam.

All these we read, about and witnessed and participated in personally or vicariously – pretty much like witnessing Columbus and Magellan claiming the New Worlds for their respective royal patrons;  or like watching the death by musketry of Jose Rizal; like seeing Julius Caesar march triumphantly into Rome; or like reading the news about the collapse of the Roman empire.

Yet for about a quarter of the present population of the world, and some one-third of Filipinos, these are events they have only read about in books, because they had not yet been born when history unfolded.

Some of these events are fast fading into ancient history, as New Worlds – like Mars – are beginning to be discovered and explored. 

The expensive jaunt into space funded by billionaires Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson may soon take a serious turn.

There could be a growing urgency to find new worlds – perhaps for mankind to populate. At the rate the earth is being ravaged and destroyed, a new Interplanetary Union could become a reality – and a necessity – and our great, great grandchildren could be the  new Martians. Or Venusians. Or the new men on the  moon.

Or the natural disasters which have been occuring in greater and deadlier frequency could be signs about a happening long predicted in the Holy Bible.

The Second Coming!