4: a brush of reprisal

Know thyself.

I just need to write this letter for reasons that I can’t contain my relatively meddling nature. In the course of this missive, I hope I can justify my point as I am most willing to accept criticism in any extreme angle because I know my thoughts can be as “alternative” as it can get and we both know that one of my idiosyncratic ways is being inconsistent in terms of opinions. Or maybe, I am just as forgiving as you are. I am not really sure.

But I am very much keen on JUDGMENT in all shapes and sizes. And as far back as childhood, I know very well what a bigot is because more than a major terminology in African-American ethos (with which I was so engrossed with at the time), I had often came across this experience by simply being a Filipino in a place where Asians, especially Filipinos, are tagged as slaves to the much preferable ethnic group: Anglo-Saxon.

Know thyself before knowing others.

As a teenager, listening to Arrested Development, Bob Marley and Janet Jackson I have come across the impenetrable pain of being different. In my own 15 year old way, I understood that the power of confidence comes from how you apportion the battlefield and succeed in it as one triumphant success – not as an American, a Buddhist, a Japanese Episcopalian, an English Protestant or a Jordanian Catholic. Also I have learned to appreciate the words of the oppressed, the obscure, the latent freedom fighters, the downtrodden or simply, the miserable, whose voice sprang like hot lead, metallic but mislead, swaying in a medium of dance and music: humanity embraced as itself, devoid of color and religion.

The works of Maya Angelou, Jean-Paul Sartre and Lee Harper also became a framed reference upon the trenches of the maddening outburst of racial prejudice back in the late 80s growing up as a teenager in the Philippines, where the picket lines were stuffed with fanatical freedom fighters under a regime where the rich get richer and the poor – poorer. My father used to say, ignorance is like rust as much as resting, especially if the mind is withdrawn from the canopy of voices screaming for identity and most of all, equality. I was never there in the picket lines, nor did my parents, but I remember my grandfather Gavino, a published political writer, peddling his thoughts on paper, contriving to find its shape amid the dogmatic chaos. This was the time when reading was an addiction and I, a voracious nihilist, tried to understand the blood and the brain of it all. I would have preferred to perform but I was too young at the time so I chose being aware.


Over the years, having been to countries very different from my own in terms of diversity, ethnicity and religion, things began to change. What used to be a judgmental person, whose mercurial radicalism was very much a matter of mouth and hand, became a person, who, slowly and not so softly, followed tolerance. I may have turned into quite a romantic after puberty, thanks to my passion for 18th century literature and my compulsion towards Buddhism and existentialism, but like they say, as you go older, your mind becomes kinder.

I personally think it is more than that.


Over the years, I have been friends with people who are not like me. People who are not from my country, who eventually became my friends that I learned to care for for who they are and not what they represent. There were quite a few times when judgment drops in unannounced during discourses and debates, but knowing (and understanding) that all viewpoints are to be expressed with confidence, the heart took over the mind. That may sound frail coming from someone who was a teenage revolutionary but here’s to say that THERE IS NO REVOLUTION. Only fractions of it that is worth a pinch or a song. This is exactly why we all need to go to through that phase because all there is and all that matters, after a few militant times of injustice, fraudulent teachers, biased preachers and global conceit, is love and compassion.

Sometimes it is not about learning or just reading. It is about being in the picket lines and knowing that the air we breathe is something we share and that inequality is man-made, invented and definitely, an error of the self. Mine would have been latent as self-discoveries can be a sachet that has to be opened using the teeth, but in lieu of all that, it was still worth the destination.

Again I am writing this because I was recently confronted by friends whose off-putting views on political preference is based on introspection and unmodified detestation. Also I was brazened out for my American accent and for putting forward what I have articulated now in this letter amid a mindless brawl over whose political penis is bigger: Europe or America, thus, I construed revolution all over again. To the least, a fraction of its feathery reprisal: propaganda. Pun intended.

And this message: there is nothing worth hating for than HATE itself.

May love open your mind and your mind open to love.


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