Sunday, March 19, 2006

Politics in a salon

Filipinos love to talk of three things: aside from basketball (and boxing, too, after the media hype of Pacquiao’s series of victories), there’s POLITICS and SHOW BUSINESS, a.k.a showbiz. (Little wonder then why frogs have long been jumping from politics to showbiz, showbiz to politics, basketball to politics…etcetera, etcetera… hoping to kiss princess luck on the way.)

Last week, I had the privilege of engaging in an “intellectual” discourse on politics. Who would have though that of all the nooks and crannies this earth could ever hold, politics would find its niche in the most unsuspecting place: ladies and gentlemen, (drum rolls) the salon – where beauty is all abuzz and where most smiling workers would gladly kick me out because I always refuse to give in to their heed to rebond my hair. So there I was, accompanying my mom who needed a haircut. While waiting, I sat between two older men and browsed over the day’s paper for my dose of news. The man on my right, most probably in his 60’s and with graying hairs, suddenly started asking questions: “Where do you live? How old are you? Are you still a student?” My curt answers only urged him to ask more. The man on my left told me, “Nag-abroad baya na siya Day.”

Er, was he implying… (Jeez, why do I get the feeling that I’m always linked to older, no wait, change that – ageing men when I’m in the salon?!?) I braced myself as my instincts told me that wasn’t going to be a smooth conversation at all. I gripped the edges of the newspaper, ready to swat it on my seatmates’ faces.

The dialogue took a different turn, however, when:

Man on my right: “Asa ka nagskwela Day?”

Me: “UP Cebu.”

Man on my left: “UP?”

Me: “Oo”

Man on my left: (suddenly inspired by his brain waves) “Ngano man mong mga taga-UP magsige man mo og rally? Gipa-eskwela na gani mo sa gobyerno, magsige pa mo og ing-ana.”

I stopped reading and sputtered forth a concoction of English and Cebuano response, hoping so hard that they’d stop pestering me in my solitude. I don’t participate in rallies unless I feel strongly about the issue but I felt that I have to defend other students at that point.

“Dili man sa wa mi utang kabubut-on pero we have to hold the government accountable. We have to be vigilant.”

The debate went on. We touched on the subject of the Presidential Proclamation 1017. I was so thankful that my mom had her haircut done at that point. (The OFW kept laughing at us.) It gave me an excuse to leave the place. But oh no, they weren’t as enthusiastic to just let the topic go. At that point, my mom cut in but it seemed as if she favored the side of the men. Blame it on generational gap?

Final words on the issue: It’s not that we are looking for trouble. Being funded by the government, by the people, we have a responsibility to look into and critique the actions of the government. It does not stem from mistrust nor cynicism. Rather, it comes from the spirit of true democracy in that by trying to be vigilant, we are protecting the very core of our freedom.

No matter what they say, I still am an Iskolar ng Bayan.

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