Lips to lips

Lips to lips Featured

I SPENT some of my best years growing up in a place called Calinan. It was not exactly a barrio but a city district of Davao. Before the Davao-Bukidnon road was constructed in the 1970s, opening up Northern Mindanao, Calinan was literally the end of the road. It was a small sleepy logging town then and a farming community where rice, corn, coffee and various fruits – and the famous durian—were cultivated. I was not born in Calinan but I grew up there. It was a melting pot of migrants from other provinces in Luzon and the Visayas. Tagalog, Ilocano, Ilonggo, Kapampangan, Leyteño languages and dialects were spoken. The Cebuano and Tagalog vernaculars were largely dominant.

I retain and cherish the remembrance of the quintessential image of a village regularly depicted in bucolic paintings of the Philippine Masters – rolling hills, fat farm animals, swaying golden rice stalks and virgin maidens clad in patadyong frolicking by a singing brook. This vista has long ceased to exist.

This was an era (1950s-1960s) where the town’s solitary juke box at Pacing’s Carinderia epitomized the apex of technological breakthrough. The chap who can afford to incessantly plunk in 10 centavos per 45 rpm record of Frank Sinatra or Elvis songs could be deemed a promising member of the cultural literati. TV sets were unheard of and the lone movie house, Aragon’s Cinema, attracted a diverse audience of bagobos and the indigenous tribes of nearby hills, tree cutters and logging equipment operators, assorted farmers and the hoi polloi. They all paid 20 centavos each for general patronage. For 30 centavos, you get seated at the balcony and 40 centavos in the loge section, favored by lovers, where cockroaches, rats and assorted crawling creatures were not as obtrusive as those in the orchestra. Non-poisonous snakes, of the constrictor variety, usually kept the rat population low at the balcony.

At least once a year, during the two-day fiesta celebration, in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, our lone cinema would host a bodabil, where actors and actresses coming from faraway Manila came to town for a personal appearance. They stayed and performed for the eve and the night of the fiesta, the first Friday in August.

Never on the lips
This type of entertainment featured a mixture of specialty acts, magician shows and new dance steps from the city, but the culmination of the bodabil was the burlesk show with scantily dressed women prancing around onstage teasing the men in a slow striptease. And the audience participation, especially the male audience, was fantastically loud and lecherous “…hubad! hubad! (Take it off! Take it off!). The girls, master of timing, would indeed take them off at the exact moment when the stage lights went off, and just the silhouette of the naked ladies are seen running to stage left.

The curtain opens for the next acts and the screen idols perform scenes of popular movies, most especially love stories depicted by onscreen lovers in the flesh. In the mixed variety show, the cinema reverberates with swoons of the teenyboppers when their current male idol requests for volunteers to the stage. And the house falls down when he either sings and flirts and does monologues pregnant with inuendo to the lucky girl volunteer; culminating in the idol asking the audience for permission to kiss the lucky lass. The mob lustily eggs them on and the cinema goes wild when a kiss is proffered. But never, never on the lips!

Thus, the famous presidential kiss bestowed on a certain married Filipina OFW in Korea this week was in stark contrast to the cultural phenom of the Filipino audience and a study of the comportment of a powerful man. We have the macho idol, the eager lady from the audience and the egging on of the licentious rabble. It was a vulgar, garish display of presidential machismo of which DU30 has become a master. He understands the psychology of the crowd and knows how to manipulate it and squeeze the last ounce of indiscretion. This was “in-your-face braggadocio!”

We from Davao and the Bisaya call this disconcerting spectacle “Kahilas oy!” There is no appropriate translation but the gist is that “it is cringe-inducing” behavior. Malacañang’s defense that this was part of “Bisaya culture and Bisaya humor” is not only demeaning to us but downright stupid.

The Deegong from the very start of his candidacy was always transparent. He bares his soul to the public; one who utters p****g i** to whoever strikes his bad side and utters vulgar phrases like “…pusila sa bisong.” Our President never minces words and tell it like it is, except that like a tape recording, it goes on and on; rewind and play, rewind and play. And we all just cringe at these antics as some members of cabinet were seen to do during that infamous Korean kissing incident. The highbrow in the audience and in social media, where “the kiss” became viral, found this to be ‘nakakahiya’ ‘nakakasuka’ but none among his close coterie really had the balls to confront him directly. And the general attitude is simply to let it go, until the next loutish antic.

Still their SOB
His avid supporters, the DDS and the fist pumpers who have always allowed him a very wide latitude, look on it as “joke lang” and somewhat endearing. But some social media postings in defense of DU30 showing a photo of Ninoy Aquino being kissed by a female passenger before he disembarked to a heroic death, juxtaposed with that of the Korean kissing incident, was simply in bad taste, crossing the line of decency. This government bureaucrat’s posting was not even in the right context and was nothing more than a grand “sipsip” showing a puppy dog’s loyalty to the President.

Having said all that, let me offer my 10 cents. Many of us who come from Davao and have been subjected to such exhibitions by our mayor through the years, have always tolerated such improper display. We may have become callused but generally, we Davaoeños are not like him. The Deegong is one of a kind. Many of us will not act inappropriately whether in public or private. On the other hand, warts and all, DU30 is loved by the masses, and by many of the middle class and even some of Davao’s elite. This uncouth leader’s stint as our mayor has caused the resolution of major social and economic problems brought about by criminality, illegal drugs and a communist insurgency. He eliminated in his two decades of governance the climate of fear and instilled a glimmer of hope. For us Davaoenos, these are more important considerations, with long-lasting effects, and trump the crudeness and the indelicacy of the man.

Today, the greater majority of people in the country, though they flinch in embarrassment, still gives him their full support – a full 80 percent.

If I might use the presidential lingo: “True, he is a sonnnofabitch, but he is OUR sonnofabitch!”000
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