Saturday, December 17, 2011


I thought when people get to reach my age that there would be fewer and fewer things that happen around one's existence that demand explanation.  I was very, very wrong.

For one thing, I am writing this on an early Saturday evening the week before Christmas eve.  I had decided to attend an affair on the other side of the city and despite all warnings I mustered the courage, strength and foolishness to brave the roads.  I had to turn back after an hour and a half of being stuck in traffic at C5 where one's capacity for patience was tested to the limits.

Which leads me to the point that at my age there are still some things that I need to understand.  I do not need a detailed explanation --- but just a few sentences of very logical, irrefutable points as to why certain things happen and exist in our lifetime. For instance, the traffic ten days before Christmas in Metro Manila.  I want to know why is that! I want an explanation why it becomes plain torture or an opportunity for masochism to drive around the streets of the city around the time that Santa Claus is speculated to be coming to town.

I have always been made to believe that we are living in a Third World country. Despite claims that our economy is improving and that we are not going to suffer because of what is happening to the money bags from the other side of the world, I still feel the pinch. I still hear people complaining how much harder this year turned out compared to twelve months ago.  Come to think of it, I have been hearing that same line repeated over and over again for the past ten years --- even when Erap and Gloria were still the presidents.

So then how can one explain all those cars, vans, buses, trucks and extraterritorial vehicles caught bumper to bumper whether you are going through EDSA or C5?  Can all these people possibly be rushing to Bonifacio High Street, any of the SM Retail Kingdoms or the Ayala Wonderlands to indulge in vicious marathon Christmas shopping?  Are the streets clogged and congested because everyone is making a mad rush to grab a gift and have it wrapped in time for the Big Day that will transpire a week from now?

Most likely.  I have already been privy to the sudden surge in mall-indulging population where everyone seems to be in such a hurry ... or a state of dismay.  

But still I ask --- for the rest of the year --- where do they hide all these cars, vans, jeepneys and buses?  Do they just take them out of the garages to congest the streets this time every year?

Oh, speaking of shopping malls and shopping per se, there is the second point I really do not understand.  

Can somebody please explain to me why any normal-thinking set of parents would bring their babies/toddlers/little bundles of joy in malls or department stores or even "tiangges" this time of the Christmas frenzy?

Where is the logic in that?  Why would any sensible thinking Mommy or Daddy actually drag their infants or toddlers being pushed around in space-consuming-crowd-irritating trolleys or strollers around malls and department stores?  Worse, why would you bring your three to six year old kid around shopping centers when you know that:
(a) together with the Christmas season is the proliferation of all sorts of highly infectious ailments like colds, coughs or even sore eyes!
(b) chances that your kid will be pushed, shoved or even stepped on are very high especially when you bring them to shopping areas where a great percentage of the population are either pushing carts loaded with merchandise or lugging packages off the counter and
(c) the possibility of losing your child amid the frenzy of human traffic is tremendously great.

Well, this leads me to the fact that I feel no sympathy but instead feel intense anger when I see whimpering mothers who are desperately looking for their children at the Customer Service counters of department stores ... or frantically rendering what Eugene Domingo describes as "TV Patrol Acting" as they implore security officers as well as personnel of the malls to look for their lost offspring. Duh!  

I mean, why did you have to bring that child to this little corner of capitalist hell, Woman?  Don't give me that pathetic classic excuse that you do not have anyone to take care of your kid so that you had to lug him along! It is when I hear such half-brained excuses that I am more than convinced that the RH Bill should be passed as a law in this country.  Either that or we turn all the churches into Day Care Centers!  How does that sound to you, Padre?

With my limited knowledge of parenting, I was made to believe that you bring your kids to: (a) parks    (b) playgrounds   (c) resorts  (d) movie houses that show animated features or 3D cartoons  (e) amusement parks  and (f) learning centers.  Not unless parents are determined to teach their offspring the importance of free trade, the art of haggling, the therapy to cure claustrophobia or how to identify body odors of one thousand homo sapiens, then bringing them to malls and tiangges during the holidays should be cited as a possible proof of child abuse.

And that is just talking about things that boggle my mind during the holidays.  The season lasts for approximately the latter half of the twelfth and there are fifty other weeks each year that ceaselessly provide questions that I wish for answers.

Among them include:

(a) While working out in the gym, why is it that there are some people who spend more time lounging and chatting rather than working out?  Could there be truth to the speculation that workout centers have become the new pick-up joints ... or, worse, venues for social bonding rather than defining one's triceps and deltoids?  
(b) Here is a real aaaargh! moment: if you are gym junkie or bunny, you know how absolute frustrating it is when one of your fellow members takes forever in using --- if not occupying --- any single machine.  Just when you are so set into burning your calories or toning your muscles, you find a specimen of humanity garbed in his complete workout clothes deposited on one of the machines --- vegetating.  No, he is not using the machine --- he is just sitting there sending text messages or worse --- meditating on his past incarnations.
     Is there really a polite way of nudging this creature into consciousness to make him realize that there are other people who want to make use of the machine?
     Is there protocol and rules of decorum practiced in order to remind such individuals that unless one is taking a yoga class --- going on auto-semi-consciousness is not usually practiced in other areas of the fitness center?

(b) Since we are already on the subject of fitness, has it not occurred to the greater percentage of the local population that it is impolite to call anyone fat?
    I often wonder: do they mistake it as honesty or being witty or simply out of having something to say when they suddenly blurt out, "Hey, you're so fat now!" or, worse, "What happened to you? You have gained so much weight?"  Or have you heard that line that justifies filing a lawsuit or serving a fist sandwich? It goes something like, "Since when did you become a pig?"
    If any of those line qualify as wit, then we are living in a planet of retards.  If that is supposed to be a form of social bonding, then we must start breeding sociopaths.
    And you call that honesty? Yeah, sure --- maybe I or some poor bloke added a few or a lot of inches around our middle. So what is that to you?!!!  Not unless you are my doctor (specifically my cardiologist) or you are my dietician --- then you have no right to give any running commentary on how I present myself in this human form.
    By reminding someone that he has gained weight and that he does not look his best, does that give the person a sense of accomplishment?  Does he feel more superior because his friend or acquaintance gained more pounds?  Is that a put-down under the guise of concern?
    Well, not unless the comment is given to someone who weighs close to 300 pounds carrying a history of hypertension and cardiac problems, there is no decent justification why anybody can mutter with such petulance and glee any statement about the human weight.

The list can go on and on. But then I guess I am in this frame of mind because the traffic outside is bad, it is raining ... and, worse, Christmas is a week away and calamities are still occurring.  

In the meantime, there is this need to understand.  But of course, ours is not to fully grasp the irony of human existence ... even on trivial matter such as this.

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