I was in a carefree mood in my jeepney ride for home from Roxas Avenue yes terday afternoon. I could not help but tapped my fingers on my knees while surreptitiously observing the happy goings-on that had been an entertainment show during the entire ride until I got off at my destination in Bago Crossing three kilometers from Toril proper.
And these goings-on that were the “root cause” of my singing heartbeats were no different from the romantic scenes in teleserye soap operas that you will see in the TV. Excuse me, but the big difference was that the lovers in the teleserye are only acting the assigned roles they play. These young lovers directly opposite me were real lovers. If they had their respective roles to play, their acts and their sequence coincided with what their hearts dictated.
The other passengers on the same long seat where I sat, I’m sure, had their own awkward moments. They wouldn’t dare to ogle at the carefree young lovers infront of them. Their eyes were averted, albeit perhaps their attention never left the extravagant display of amorous affection before them. The young lovers, charming college students as they were in their teens were entirely heedless of the eyes and ears around them—mindful only of the comfort and joy, or whatever marvelous feeling they derived from being bodily glued to each other—their hands locked intight clasp, their lips at some unpredictable moments alternately planting kisses on each other’s cheeks or necks—now and then whispering to each other’s ears—now and then unrestrainedly chuckling on the rhythm of jazz.
Then, at one point my jaw simply droppe d with what I unexpectedly saw . Oh, the girl’s mouth opened and closed on the shoulder of her beloved like she wanted to devour him flesh and bone! But the boy would not be beaten—he did his bit of romantic bite on the back of her neck. And I thought that was the climactic act of the amorous PDA (public display of affection) which the present generation of the world’s youth radically differ from the long gone “times of my life”.
But just the same, I empathized with the young lovers, In my mind I sang what I thought would be a very suitable sound track of the live show. Be brave young lovers and follow your choice; be brave and faithful and true. All of my young dreams are with you today. I’ve had a love of my own, like you. . . etcetera .etcetera. Sing with me, my dear readers, if you knew the song or are familiar with its lyrics, nod your heads rhythmic with the tapping of your fingers on your knees, even as you imagine yourselves on the same jeepney ride with these fortunate creatures playing entertainment roles in our present neoliberal civilization.
And then, without warning my mind wandered to the young Lumads—young Talaingod boys and girls in the refugee camp at Haran. And I wondered: oh what a world of difference existed between these young lovers before me and the hapless youths in the evacuation center! Those Lumad youngsters would certainly appear strange to the likes of these twosome in the jeepney, their looks different from our citified University students. Of course, their lifeways—even their gait, gestures, mannerisms and facial expressions — are bereft of the social graces our city-bred youths possess in the luxury of their lives.
But to be sure the Lumad youths also have their share of the wonderful sensations the human flesh is heir to. In their own timid way, they too must have felt sexual arousals conc omitant with what we witness nightly in the Pasion de Amor teleserye. But do they tickle each other and hug and giggle in inordinate excited fashion in front of everyone in public?
But one endearing quality that the se Lumad youths exhibit without restraint is their enthusiasm for education. Call it hunger or thirst for knowledge. But the fundamental pursuit for the uplift of their human potentials, their intellectual faculties, their social development, manifests unrestrainedly in their struggles against forces that stand on the way of their legitimate dreams. And they do not stray from these common dreams of their community.
Together they stand no matter the consequences.
And the big blows of unwanted consequences came to their lifeworld with the barrel of the gun. Oplan Bayanihan—a big joke by its misnomer—shattered their dreams for education. The schools their own hands built in a true “bayanihan spirit” were ordered closed by the very entity charged with the task of educating all the children of this nation. Yes, their schools were ordered closed at the behest of the military whose troops have turned their school buildings into barracks. However, the lightning bolt from the Department of Education has not cowed the tribal community of Talaingod. Neither are they deterred from their relentless struggles—nay, they have stood as one, as a community empowered by their dream and quest for a better world for themselves.
Now, the Talaingod youths—young boys and girls in their teens—are in the refugee camp, their dreams lodged securely in their breasts, their hearts throbbing constantly as they voice out their call for justice and peace in their world—a world so different from that of the young lovers in the “live teleserye” I watched during my jeepney ride yesterday.