As I pen these blogs, I sometimes find that they leave a residual intellectual after taste. That is, one idea leads to another.
I had such a lingering thought the other day. I had published a blog in the morning about institutions having human traits. In that context, I made the following remark:
He [President Aquino] needs to get the Divorce Bill passed. Until he does, one aspect of the Philippine persona will remain abusive toward women.
As I sat at lunch slurping up some kind of animal-meat broth my wife had found at a local take-out restaurant not named McDonalds, it came to me that the Divorce Bill is not just a relief for women who are abused by their husbands. It provides relief for men whose eyeballs are relentlessly under threat of scratching from the little lady.
Furthermore, the Bill offers an escape route for women who are not physically abused, but have kids and get no support from the father. In the US, fathers in this scurrilous bunch are called "Deadbeat Dads". Wives could divorce the deadbeats and re-marry responsible fathers who would actually care for the kids. Who cares if the priests object; the kids are worth it.
And as one thought often extends to another, I made a grand leap forward to the idea:
"You know, I don't very much like what masculinity in the Philippines represents."
Well, there is a hot blog topic if ever there were one. Never before have I thought about taking on the entire macho persona of the everyday Filipino. It makes me glad that I write anonymously and am deeply and safely ensconced in the deep, dark jungles west of Surigao. Or it could be I'm high on the mountain banks just east of Pinatubo. Or even, faking y'all out wildly, nestled in my aerie high up in the Snowy Range of windy western Wyoming, USA.
In other words, please don't bother to come looking for me. I hold few of the macho renditions common to Filipinos and do not choose to prove my manhood against any of y'alls via fisticuffs, pistols at 50 paces, or any other kind of painful process.
Now one of the traits I find common among Filipino boys and adult boys who think they are men is the tendency to laugh at another person's slip-up. If one boy falls down or gets smacked upside the head with the basketball, the rest laugh riotously. If he breaks his arm, they laugh even harder, and the laughter lasts until he gets his cast off.
This seems to me to be a side-effect of the tendency to look for ways to appear cool by diminishing others. You see this behavior in some blog commenters, the ones who attempt to paste diminishing names onto other commenters. Moron. Idiot. Stupid twit. Those tags. The lower you can push others, the higher you seem to be . . . even if you are very much cemented to the bottom.
Also in the Philippines, If you have a big, fast car, you assert your manhood by driving like everyone else is of a lower class and obligated to get out of your way, blasting past slower traffic, running oncoming tricycles into the ditch and flashing your lights to instruct lesser vehicles to yield.
Certainly, it is not macho to wait for some lady with her kid to cross the street at the crosswalk, or to allow other cars the right of way in any circumstance, as long as you hold the power position. If you see someone looking for a break in traffic so he can cross the road, it is macho to speed up so that he has no chance to go.
Now you have to excuse my ways, but I am from the west of the west, that is, cowboy country in the US of A. There really macho macho guys in ten gallon hats climb onto the back of a one-ton angry bull breathing fire from his eyes and snot from his nose and try to ride it for 8 seconds. Or they strap themselves onto a huge 16 hand bucking bronco that flies into incredible Chinese acrobatic contortions in midair. Or they leap from their galloping horses onto the back of a big-ass horned steer at 40 KPH and wrestle the wild-eyed beast to the ground.
They don't cheer chickens that peck each other to death.
So I'm afraid I don't understand the obsession over chickens. My neighbor has about 20 of the birds camped out in little triangular shacks in his chicken yard.
But I can deal with that okay. It just doesn't inspire the hunter in me, you know the mountain climber, the explorer, the cliff diver, the soldier, the born killer. But to each his own.
And I don't mind the wild roads anymore as I have become a highly skilled pinball player.
One of the facets of Filipino manhood I actually appreciate and have been known to partake in is the tuba table under the mango tree. That's the place at any social gathering where the guys collect to get away from the mind-numbing nattering insignificance of the conversations their wives are having. There they can get drunk, poke fun at one another, tell dirty jokes, catch up on the Pac Man and engage in other more invigorating topics.
I do, however, find it best to restrain from offering up a book report on my latest read.
The notion of chivalry is not common among Filipino males. Nor is kissing your sweetie in public. And it is the absence of those expressions of kindness and affection that bother me most.
It is not manly to be a gentleman, or a lover. Except under cover of night or blanket.
It is not manly to be literarily literate.
It is not manly to be gracious to someone you don't know. Unless you have something to gain by being kind, in which case gracious becomes "kissing up". A manipulative quality admired by other men.
So color me wimpy as I hold the door of the car open for my wife, carry a book everywhere, smile at the neighbors and offer my best wishes for a quick recovery to boys black and blue from the battles they engage in to prove their manhood to other guys.