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Battleground

ONE bloke auctioned off his soul on e-Bay and got a niggardly $57 for it, paid for by a journalist who likely wanted to humor the soul-seller. A fetching virgo intacta from China plunked down her virginity on the electronic block. She wanted to raise money to pay her way through college. The last bid was at $100,000 before the auction was called off. Probably priggish netizens deemed such a market transaction unpalatable or a bit of hymen like that was way too steep.

It would be within the bounds of good taste to sell a modest spread of real estate in Pasay City—a house and lot within a family compound wracked by squabble. Any anthropologist with more than modest means might be interested in a property like that—a patch of urban lot with a shoebox of a house that a workmate of mine calls home.

Sadly, it has turned into a battleground. Maybe a combat zone of sorts that has strained familial ties and reared the ugly side of emerging systems of values in the megalopolis.

The workmate ought to get a handsome price for it, take the sale proceeds and move out to new grounds, away from it all, far from the madding crowd.

Why, even eaglets have to be nudged with thorns, sharp sticks and nettles plopped on the warm, safe nest by parent eagles. The stinging stimuli helps those fledglings to move out of the comfort zone, stretch their wings, soar off and venture into the world as full-fledged predators. In Pinoy parlance, we call that pagtindig sa sariling paa or standing on one’s feet and rising to one’s true height. Of course most Pinoys are still in crutches, leaning heavily on parents and elders to keep ‘em fully sheltered and fed.

Likely the workmate isn’t that adventurous and bold enough. That would be sadder—suffer the fate of chicken shocked for a lifetime in a coop.

I’ve often teased her. Once certain parts of her bod turn “poetic” – that is, tumambok nang husto ang puwit-- I’ll probably have tawdry designs on her. In the meanwhile those designs are down pat on the drawing board and I never said I’m any good at draftsmanship, graphics, or decent lay-outs.

I have kids her age. Two have moved out of our household in pursuit of fledgling careers. One of ‘em who works in a major broadcast network shares an apartment with an ex-classmate of hers in college. The eldest is a gung-ho architect, sees to the construction of the designs he did for clients in a Quezon City plush subdivision, crows about the lean, clean lines inspired by Zen that he infuses in his signature works, brags about having made 30 conquests—the current flavor of the month he met at UP Diliman is a well-stacked number with a fetching mien, he’s learning to play the violin with her. Could be sex and violins for all I care.

My third kid, he works in Ortigas, opts to go home daily to our household in Ciudad Real in Bulacan. That despite pained pleas from a friend for my kid to stay at their family condo unit in those same haunts to save on commute time and fare. The youngest is still in college but often plays gigs with a band in which he does the drums. Ah, the missus and I dwell in a near-empty abode where two all-white cats, two all-black cats and six dogs-- named after heads of state past and present, hah! -- provide some racket and meaningful bother.

The workmate isn’t as razor-sharp as she was in her tasks. An elder brother of hers wanted to appropriate her house for him and his family. She deems that as unfair—each of her brods and sis were given a house-and-lot spread as inheritance. The elder brod has his share of real estate, how come he wants his sister’s share?

Maybe greed’s the creed.

The workmate wants some peace and quiet—she can’t have any of that once noisome kids get trenchant in a household. Workmate’s sibs say she can bear with childish racket and bawling, they’re her nephews and nieces after all. She ought to cope. Ours is a culture of voyeurism and pakikialam. She ought to live with that.

Workmate feels she deserves to be treated with respect—no self-respecting biped ought to inflict mindless chatter, brainless blabber and all that inane ruckus on another.
The hell with respect for another’s need for calm and equipoise that can be nurtured in quietude…. Urban living has become a noisome affair, unmindful of a Spanish proverb: No hable a menos que usted pueda mejorar el silencio.

Don’t speak unless you can improve the silence.

So our workmate is being shooed away from her usual haunt she calls home, the shoebox spread of a house and lot in which she grew up. They won’t leave her alone. They have no respect for her space. She’s sticking it out. The homeground becomes a battleground.

As with eaglets, it’s tough to let go off one’s nest. But why sulk and brood when you could soar away?

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