We need to be brazenly frank sometimes

I believe it will do our soul some good if we spew every once in a while acrid remarks at daft people and on the nonsensical things they do, which and whom we often do not say anything about or to, probably because of callousness or sloth or both on our part, and, therefore by default, we tolerate and accept. Most of these we let go unscathed because we all fear of being retaliated with words that are illogical by all means but which we all fear nonetheless because the law of logic does not, sadly, apply in a third-world metropolis like Manila.

Like one time on the MRT, a man, and I swear to any supernatural being, intentionally pushed me. Naively, I asked “Nanunulak po ba kayo?” (Did you just push me?). His response, although I half-expected it, was, “Kung ayaw mong masagi, eh di mag-taxi ka!” (If you don’t want to be pushed around, do not take the train, take a cab!). Once this line of thinking is taken by people I am arguing with, I knew it was already useless pursuing my case, so I avoided his wrathful gaze, positioned my back on him, acted as if I did not hear his long and angry speech on the correct way of riding the train, and read a paperback I was holding that time.

I needed not look at his face because I know it was worse than maudlin. His eyes were red, watery, and bulging, like that of a dynamited fish, probably he just came out of his work tired and sleepy, but this fact didn’t bother me. I wanted nothing but to save my skin from him. The people in the train were looking at the man who was furious because somebody like me has the gall to complain about being rudely and maliciously pushed around inside a cramped train, and me who was futilely trying to camouflage myself and hide my shame.

I tried to dissipate the tension by feigning enlightenment while reading a book by Jose Saramago. But it seemed this even made him more furious. I felt like smacking his face with the paperback, but it was too soft for the job. When I alighted at Shaw station, as if his litany was not enough, he ran after me and asked me the quintessential Tagalog way of provoking a fight: “Ano’ng problema mo, pre?” (What’s you problem, man?)

I said, “Tinulak mo ako! Pu*ang ina mo… .” (You pushed me. You s*nofab*tch!).

Kidding. No, I did not have the audacity to say this.

I lacked time to gather my thoughts and to think of a clever reply in Tagalog, so I made do with my stuttering, “Kung di mo ako tinulak, eh di hindi!” (If you didn’t, then fine.). And I left.


Filipinos have this very odd way of defining public spaces. Public is equated to being lawless, a no-man’s land. I am not a sociologist, so I know I am only making intuitive assumptions here.

Just because a place is crowded does not give one an excuse to abandon whatever decency left in him and commence acting like an animal. Being a regular commuter of public transport in the metro, I witness on a daily basis this disregard for basic proper conduct of self in public places and conveyances by Manilenos.  However, what appalls me is the idea that I can do nothing, that I am only a transient bystander, that telling to their faces they are plain assholes is not my rightful duty. I guess, this same powerlessness is the same feeling most people in this country feel.

This afternoon, at the gym where I regularly sweat off after my work every five in the afternoon, this plump guy (I surmise using the word ‘plump’ to describe him is my way of making him a subject of my rather dry humor) either played really loud music on his mobile (whose earphones he might have left somewhere) or talked to his ‘clients’ over his other phone, or simultaneously doing these two irritating activities to the chagrin of everyone in the gym.

The blaring music I could tolerate, but his Rockefellerian or Ayala-ish tone of speaking loudly laced with a vague Southern Californian or Mid-Western accent while talking to his clients was something that aghasted me. I almost threw toward his direction a 45-pound plate. It was as if the entire of Accenture rests on this man’s chubby shoulders and adipose-ridden abdomen.

I did nothing but kept quiet the whole time and brazenfacedly gave him a peek of my bulging pectoral muscles and well-defined abs. And well, using the word ‘plump’ to describe him in this post.