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Labanang lalaki

Tit for thought

THE war of words that flared between one alias Boy Pick Up and Palace-Bound Passenger came to either a dead halt or naught. Just when their broadsides were throwing up meaty morsels for voters to chew the cud of, there came sudden d├ętente, or literally, the easing of tensions after both sides have squeezed a few rounds of ammunition in the heat of engagement.

There was neither quotable quip nor picturesque portrayal to be gleaned from the spittle battle that was more of a flip top rap duel. The lines both sides spouted were so-so, as if thrown up from dialogues off soap operas that rinse reason and every whit of sense in TV addicts. 

A Miriam Defensor-Santiago caught in such a tussle would be a whirlwind of barbed or bomb-laden verbiage. Too, a putdown off a Joker Arroyo would have really been akin to a splinter jabbed smack into the mind’s eye: “I do not argue with anyone below my level of intellect.”

Ages-old feng shui beliefs associate the western parts, creativity, children and projects with the mouth. Mouth problems, according to feng shui, point up inadequacies of self-expression, even such malady as “halitosis of the brains.”

Even so, linguistic research assert that vocabulary make up around 30 percent of human communication, why, up to 70 percent of person-to-person communication can be expressed kinesthetically, that is, via body language. Indeed, actions wax more eloquent than words. 

It takes two to either tangle or tango—and neither Cabinet member nor Senate lawmaker had the inclination to dance, or take a liking to the current numero uno’s so passive a pastime to fry one’s brains, probably DOTA on a play station portable.

They could have honored a cherished Filipino tradition (not for the faint of heart or weak of will who rely on a retinue of bodyguards or barkada to bully anyone who dares to fight solo) that goes by a quaint name—usapang lalaki or a crossing of hands akin to the contemporary invitation, “Let’s do this. Parking lot.”

A crossing of hands is more of a learning session—no witnesses, no hecklers, kibitzers or cheering squad on the sidelines. Just the parties at odds show up at appointed time and place to walk the talk.

A variant of usapang lalaki, called labanang hubo practiced in secret in the paddies of Tagalog-speaking provinces has both combatants fully stripped naked, just to ensure that none would suddenly whip out a pistol or a bladed weapon to inflict grievous harm.

True, both parties can give and take a fistful. And get bruised at the least in the flurry of swapped blows. Bloodied or black-eyed after that earnest exchange, both parties often sit down together and swap notes, pleasantries. Or even talk shop. 

Apart from the physical injuries, mutual respect is gained in that physical dialogue.

The session ends in a warm handshake and a smile—the affair they plunged through have turned them into the best of friends, or as the idiomatic expression has it so applicable to Boy Pick-Up and Palace-Bound Passenger, as thick as thieves.


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