Wilfredo Pascual’s “Animalia” is a retelling of the small tidbits in his life told through the lens of something familiar yet distant: animals. Divided into eight sections, it is a reflective piece since his childhood up to his older self about animals in strange situations, the thoughts (and soon after, experiments) of humans regarding animals, and how both are two sides of the same coin.
The piece is a first person POV, as well as a subjective look on how he has perceived animals throughout his life, and it differs from section to section. From afar, a lot of the things that the animals did were very strange, yet familiar in a way. But then, what the humans did were also peculiar, and maybe even stranger. In his writing, humans always had this tendency of treating animals like they were subhuman: it was always violent, strange, rarely or never treated with respect. Animals in this piece were either a nuisance or something to be used. They’ve been part of rituals that couldn’t be proven to be true, part of experiments that won’t even benefit their population, and they’re basically there for humans to do what would benefit them the most and help them survive — a means to an end, that’s how humans see animals.
If that’s how humans perceive animals, does it make us any better than them? This is exactly the underlying point that Pascual raises in his essay, and his method of delivering this idea makes it even better. His approach to the whole situation was as if it were passing, like life were flashing in someone’s eyes, due to the time skips that would imply some time has passed despite not directly stating it has. The way he told his stories, integrating it to situations that mattered to him a lot, made everything feel so natural despite how peculiar humans and animals interact. It’s somewhat symbolic on how we should see ourselves: we’re not any better, and there indeed is an animal inside of us, like how there is a tad bit human inside of every animal. It’s the concept of duality, yin and yang, and how life isn’t always as binary as it seems to our tiny brains.
Overall, the piece struck a chord with me even though it was too much of a hassle to read (but it’s my attention span that is to blame; the essay was really good). He used his way of words in a manner that regardless of the exact situation, there was something that resonated to his audience, especially in terms of subject matter. In some way, it kind of spoke to me as an essay that says “humans, like animals, are weird, strange, and scary, but that’s okay.” It should be okay. Perhaps there would be things in the sections themselves that speak to us as a society on how we should change the system, and that’s natural. Kingdom Animalia is natural, and nature changes in the course of time.