Thursday, November 1, 2012

heroes


The city frames many stories. The streets are paved with characters and plotlines and those who wish to hear one need only to find a quiet corner and press their ears to the ground.

ISA. A small group of women were gossiping loudly about the office slut. Their words snapped, crackled, and popped with disdain. Pokpok. Kerengkeng. Bitch. Slut. They threw these words around like confetti, peppering their insults with deep breaths and profanities. The pregnant woman in the middle who I assumed was their leader threw the most insults. ‘Di na siya nahiya. Kababae niyang tao, siya pa naghahabol sa lalaki.* I attempted to overtake them but their girdled strides kept me at a steady pace two steps behind them.

Just then, an intoxicated foreigner got off a dusty cab. He walked briskly towards the women and me. It soon became clear that collision was not only apparent, it was imminent. Most of the women adjusted accordingly – all but the hotheaded pregnant woman in the middle. He passes her, angling his shoulder to hit her smack in the face. There was a blunt sound of loud, body contact. She covered her belly as the force almost knocked her to the ground. Cheeks flushed, mouth agape in horror, she turned around to face him.

Putang in- she said, interrupted.

What? What’re you gonna do about it? he shouted at her. He punctuated his sentence with a middle finger to her face. The woman’s gaze shifted towards me. And to think I’d almost forgotten I was part of the whole exchange. She looked straight at me, maybe even through me, her eyes speaking as clearly as the midnight moon.

Well, they said. What are you gonna do about it?

DALAWA. Does everyone know? she asked me. It feels like the whole world knew before I did. Her cigarette had burned to the tip three and a half minutes ago and yet there it stood, shaky in between her fingers. I’m so embarrassed. Pakiramdam ko, ang bobo bobo ko. Bobo ba ako?

Hindi, I said. Hindi ‘yun ganun. Nag-mahal ka lang. Shouldn’t that be enough?

Bullshit, Erik, she said to me as she lit another cigarette. I flipped my phone over to check the time. It was well past my lunch hour. You don’t do that to people who love you. You don’t do that to the people you love. You can’t kiss me and expect me to understand why you need to fuck some little temp with tits for brains. I gave him everything, you know? Everything. And what do I have to show for it? She took small, deep drags off her cigarette, her eyes surprisingly dry. Wala na akong mukhang ihaharap.

I knew to shut up. Sometimes, a woman just needs to vent.

Ikaw ba, kelan mo nalaman? she asked, sounding a little too casual for her own good.

Mga last week, I lied. Truth is, it had been almost a month since Susie from Accounting told me. I wanted to tell you. I really did. I just didn’t know how to. She smiled politely as she exhaled the last puff of her cigarette, her eyes vacant and transfixed on a line of ants on the floor.

Though we said nothing after that, her silence spoke volumes to me. You knew. Why didn’t you tell me? You could’ve told me.

I wanted to tell you. I really did. I just didn’t know how to. Now that was bullshit.

TATLO. Sabi nung prof ko nung college, tatlo lang naman daw yan: kaya, gusto, pwede. Pwede mo ba siyang mahalin?

Oo naman, she answered.

Gusto mo ba?

Ano ba, Erik? Iiyakan ba kita dito kung hindi ko siya gusto?

Eh kaya mo pa ba siyang mahalin? Kaya mo pa bang masaktan? She ran her fingers through her hair. If you were looking close enough, you’d have seen the purple bruise on her left eye briefly becoming visible.

She was quiet after that. We both just took small sips of our coffee to stretch what little time we had left.

Why can’t he be more like you? she asked me. I had no answers. In fifteen minutes, my brother showed up. He parked across the street and signaled her to come over. He knew why she was with me. He knew we were talking about him. He was cold and expressionless as he sat on the hood of our mother’s car. She pulled her bangs down, got her things, and did as she was told.

As she walked away, she turned around to take one last look at me. She spoke no words but her eyes told me everything: help me.

APAT. And I wondered when chivalry became so old-fashioned. How could we treat the women in our lives so casually? I always thought I’d somehow managed to set myself apart from other men, that maybe I was a tree among bushes. But three out of three times and with three different women, I stood there doing nothing.

The city frames many stories. Sometimes, the city is the story. The streets are paved with characters and plotlines and those who wish to hear one need only to find a quiet corner and press their ears to the ground. Tonight, it’s an old song set to a new tune. My heart knew all the words but my mouth refused to sing.

Where have all the good men gone and where are all the gods?
Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night, I toss and turn and dream of what I need.
I need a hero.

I’m no hero. I’m just a flimsy patch on a quilt of apathetic men. Most days, I could use a little saving myself.

♫: Ella Mae Bowen | Holding Out for a Hero (2011)
Alternate: 2 (No Taglish)
Photo: fallen warrior




33 comments:

  1. "A girl in trouble is a temporary thing." - Romeo Void

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    1. Rudeboy: be that as it may, isn't it difficult to resist a genuine damsel in distress? I just wish I could actually do something about these impulses. Lol

      and someone's in a cheerful mood! Is it the holiday? :p

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    2. Preggo Gossip Girl deserved what she got, imho. It's not like drunk white man stabbed her stomach with a rusty iron spear and held the baby aloft for an impromptu shish kebab.

      The other two, well...they're beyond your help.

      And...cheerful? Moi?

      As to your original question: yes, yes, it is difficult to come to the aid of a genuine damsel in distress. Even though I've resented being put in a position where I have to be the knight in shining armor. It's happened often enough that I'm like "Woman, how difficult would it have been to just keep your trap shut?"

      Or her legs, for that matter.

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    3. Rudeboy: Something about how you've been commenting strikes me as cheerful. lolz

      Maybe there's something about how women percieve gay men. confidantes at one point, defenders the next. question is, which one are you? lolz

      And it's not like we do anything about it. You may tell me it's beyong my help but truth is, I still feel partly responsible. :p

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  2. It's hard really. When you hear damsel in distress snarling, wanting to be listened to. but I gotta crack on those gossip gals, they're nasty. Pinoy nga naman, puritans like those feeling virgin nuns. lol

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    1. Tim: wow, that's a mouthful. lolz I guess, you can see how each woman becomes increasingly less at fault as the stories progress. despite Isa being less innocent than the other two, I would still like to believe she deserves a little chivalry. Maybe that's just me. :p

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    2. Oh yeah, but somehow i find it awful when women do their talking and gossiping.

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    3. Tim: Well, it's never a good sight. I completely agree with that. Perhaps a better venue?

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  3. Every time a girl confesses her troubles to me, it makes me think whether I am the right person she is talking to. Aside from we are biologically different, I feel that I will never understand a girl's vulnerability. Still, it happens.

    A hero doesn't need to do something chivalrous, lending an ear and just being there sometimes is more than enough to save a life.

    On a lighter note, our posts are different from each other. LOL. Isn't that interesting? This prompt really beats us terribly. :D

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    1. LJ: "I feel that I will never understand a girl's vulnerability." Maybe we are just as vulnerable as they? I don't really know. I'm not as smart as I pretend to be. lolz

      But you have a very valid point. Sometimes, we just need to shut up and listen and that's all there is to being a hero.

      Sorry naman! I haven't read your post yet! Pero what I know about LOF's prompts is he puts the "challenge" in "round table challenge." astig! :p

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    2. Vulnerability has its perks. All I know is people get vulnerable, and it doesn't matter up to what extent, once we are on that stage, it tears us.

      Good thing we are doing rotations in giving out prompts, if LOF will always give the prompts, damn, I think I will get mad. Haha. :D

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    3. LJ: I think the balance is good. :) for each post about dolls or princesses, we can count on LOF to deliver a kick-ass theme.

      and honestly, I'm through with vulnerability. I gave that a shot and it's too scary. I'm just gonna work on what to do when I'm at the receiving end of it. Lolz

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  4. nagamit mo rin sa wakas yang Holding Out for a Hero :)

    mahirap atang magpakabayani sa hindi mo naman laban. aerik lang din ang peg ko madalas.

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    1. Mots: Oo nga eh. You know how much I love that song! :p

      "mahirap atang magpakabayani sa hindi mo naman laban."

      Magandang point yan ha. Andun naman ako sa thought na yan. Minsan lang, I feel like it contributes to how apathetic we've all become.

      Chauce!

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  5. "Most days, I could use a little shaving myself."

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    1. LOF: Is that your way of telling me I should man up? lolz

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    2. actually that is how i read it the first two times and then when i was re-reading... i was like saving or shaving? then i was thinking about my own struggles to shave regularly. lol

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    3. LOF: I think facial hair suits you. I've yet to meet a man who didn't benefit from a 5 o'clock shadow or a full on beard.

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  6. That bit about the foreigner guy is infuriating. Or maybe she deserved it, she's so negative she attracted negativity and it smacked her in the face literally.

    The other girls. I think they can save themselves if they really wanted to. Like really really wanted to.

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    1. Glentot: In the non-fiction version, he just hit my co-worker on the shoulder and when we looked at him, he was flipping the bird to us.

      And what I really really really want is zigazigah. chos

      Wouldn't it be romantic to think that someone could actually save us? Kaso pakshet, 10 out of 10 times, we really end up saving ourselves.

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  7. I am a damsel and I am in distress and I am also wondering where all the heroes have gone. Men are bitches. LOL

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    1. Rei: um, doesn't that make you a bitch too? At least half a bitch. Lolz

      I guess we all learn to save ourselves one way or another. And I guess the ones who don't make it are the ones who never learned.

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    2. I agree. Sometimes we have to be our own heroes. :)

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    3. Rei: That's an awesome way to put it! :)

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  9. Welcome back!

    And yes, I agree, the streets of Manila abound with great stories. Grabe ang tsismis at intriga, hehe

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    1. Andy: I know! It's been too long. My poor blog has been neglected!

      It's funny how you can pick up so many stories just by walking around, no?

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  10. the gravity will make her need for people. and if only to pretend, only for a make-believe, if only for being at some point, in her shoes; make her think you're solid. she wouldn't tell if she didn't have to.

    try, "Potah ka talaga, halika nga dito, payakap nga." that always work for me. like instant noodles. :)

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    1. Alter: awww I didn't peg you for a hugger. I just have this image of you where you're always trying to keep it together. DB and I were just talking about you last night! :)

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  11. Maybe something heroic has to happen on a grander scale, like people not believing a woman OR a man deserves to be given a black eye because someone else doesn't like his or her behavior or words. Reading the comments here, about a woman deserving to be hit, strikes a chord. Nobody deserves this. Maybe it's a consciousness shift we are all in need of? Welcome back :). You make me think always. Good to read your words once again!

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    1. Amy: and it's great to be back!

      Maybe it has something to do with the Filipino culture. We're all about people deserving what they get, etc. I wrote her that way because I wanted to see if people would still feel bad for her even though she was kind of mean. But if I didn't have an agenda, I'd have her fight back, guns ablazing, till the network censors have a field day! Hehe

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  12. i've tried being the knight in shining armour a few times only to be eventually painted the villain by the damsel who later claimed they were not in distress after all. i am not generalizing but there are ones na talagang nagiging tanga sa pag-ibig.

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    1. Sean: so true. It's like that quote from dark night. And I'm paraphrasing here but it went something like you either die a hero or live long enough to see you become the villain (or something) I think for the second and third story, further involvement would push you to become the bad guy, no?

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