No Age Match

Last July 2013, Senator Pia Cayetano filed Senate Bill No. 29 or the Anti-Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 2013. This bill will penalize any employer who discriminates applicants on the basis of age. This gives confidence for people who are afraid to try better job options.

The problem with ‘age’ is that it gives false expectation. That’s my problem with numbers. That’s why I hate math. The employer summarizes his expectation in numbers. If you are older, you probably have a set of skills. If you are younger, you have the agility and the flexibility to be on field. Age just like appearance, is a simplified way of evaluating people. It is also a way of evaluating yourself. Age sets the timetable of what you should achieve and what you should have. Age tells you how you should behave and how you make life choices.

I have an age issue. Sometimes, I am hesitant of answering how old I am because I ruin the images that construct a real adult. With my looks, I will have a hard time convincing people that I can get married, I can apply for a driver’s license, I can watch R-18 movies. Believe it or not, I have lived more than two decades on earth. And sometimes I feel like I have to bring my diploma or certificate of employment to make others believe I am old enough for this and that.

There’s a part of me that wants to be described young and there’s also a part of me that wants to be described old. If there is no concept of age, I shouldn’t be torn between being young and being old.

Misconceptions of Age

There are many misconceptions that come in age. One is: ”When you’re older, you’re smarter or wiser.” The older ones can be very assuming but great ideas can come from the youth. Young people are progressive thinkers. They should be heard. And sometimes you find yourself giving advice to people who are older than you. When you are led by people younger than you, it hurts your pride. Instead of earning knowledge, you gain insecurity. But life is like that. Someone just had a happy chance in his early stage of life.

And it does not mean you are old, you stop learning. When I attend workshops or join performing classes, I usually meet young people even if it’s an adult class. Where are all the other grownups? I salute the 30s who are taking dance lessons and voice classes, who go to culinary school, who finish their studies even if their peers are done.

Child vs Adult

The world has a set of standards for adulthood. And if adulthood meant going to the bars, drinking all night, learning how to smoke, I prefer to be a child. I never let go of my kindergarten fascination on colors, tales, songs, and magic. I crave for excitement, just like when I was sixteen years old. And I still keep my college idealism.

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Growing up or growing old, is often correlated with accumulation, may it be knowledge or wealth. It saddens me that maturity lets you go of small things. Children like bubbles, balloons, crayons and clowns. But an adult with so many bills and goals, the floating balloon in the air is invisible.

I think I’m too young even if my age tells me I’m not. I knew it when I saw the fireworks at Disneyland. My feet were sore and my eyes were signing off but the fireworks brought my eight-year-old self to life. Too many colors occupied the sky. The music made it more dramatic. When it played A Whole New World, I wanted to cry. If my brother and sister weren’t around, tears would come out naturally. I felt it was forever and I lingered on the thought that “dreams come true.”

If you ask me how old I am,

I’m ageless

just like Disney…

I am timeless

jack disney

Learn from Nothing

It has been more than a month since the typhoon Haiyan hit the grounds of Leyte but I still cannot believe. To me, it happened more of a nightmare than an actual event. The TV always flashes the most recent development in Tacloban and I still cannot believe how much media attention is given to the city I grew up with. Tacloban has never been on the spotlight. If not for the typhoon, there are some Filipinos who might not know there’s a place in the Philippines called Tacloban. Now, some people can already name the barangays and the streets of Tacloban. Without Yolanda, no one would ask me, “How’s your hometown?” No one would respond me a three-second silence when I told them, “I am from Tacloban.” They say it was like a movie but never did I think that it would resemble a movie. How can I believe when Hollywood movies show skyscrapers, busy streets, thick jackets, concrete walls everywhere? I cannot believe a catastrophe is so near to me, a tragedy within my periphery and it happened in a place where my life began. And of all the cities in the world, why Tacloban? I cannot believe…

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“You want to find yourself, right? In Tacloban, you will find yourself because there’s nothing you can find here except yourself,” my brother joked. In an article of Huffington Post, Philippines is recommended as one of the places you should go after a break up. I loved how the writer said “Reevaluate your problems in the Philippines.” My personal problems became temporarily less noticeable when I knew that the only problem that mattered in my hometown was how to get food. Anyone should be ashamed of himself for worrying too much on his career, what to wear, where to buy this and that, and how to earn more. I somehow felt how privileged I was. The only problems I had to resolve were frivolous. I may have had some misfortune but nothing compares to people who lost all their possessions to the the sea.

Basics

When I was in Tacloban, everything was expensive. I made sure I finished everything on my plate including the sardine sauce and the tiny fiber of green papaya. I learned to like tasteless crackers. When I was walking around the town with a bottle of water, I tried to drink in droplets. When church friends brought us fried chicken, it was so heavenly. When I did not need to make a call, I turned off my phone to save my batteries. Before I left, a bakeshop opened. The price of slice bread was higher than the regular price but a lot of people were willing to buy.

I now live in a metropolis where everything is in abundance. If I get hungry, there is a Seven Eleven to serve me. If I want to eat chicken, there’s a grocery store or a marketplace that sells dressed chicken. And if I want an instant fried chicken, I can always walk to Jollibee. I saw two kids in Tacloban meticulously taking chicken’s feathers off. The chicken was a Haiyan survivor too. He stayed on the comfort room to save his life. I can take a bath anytime. But in Tacloban, it’s not a split-second choice to take a bath. People fetched water and some would have their bath near public water pumps.

Passengers in Manila often complained about traffic jam. There are just too many people, too many cars, too many buses. On the other hand, people in Tacloban walked for miles in search of food and help. There was no tricycle or a jeep around the city. And if there was, it was probably costly. People get agitated for waiting too long for a taxi ride and sometimes I hear some passengers in MRT curse and quarrel. At least, they still had a ride. At least, they did not need to walk.

I was mindlessly wearing a shirt with lines from Dead Poet’s Society. I just realized how ironic it was to wear a shirt like that in times of crisis. My shirt stated: “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute… But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. ” My brother said you will forget whatever principle you keep, you just want to survive. Very true…

Charity

Haiyan changed how I think about charity. I used to criticize celebrities and public figures who helped victims of natural calamities. But when I saw with my very own eyes how helpless and how much was lost in Leyte, it was uplifting to know there were a lot of people who were interested to help. Whatever their motives are, we welcome them without reservation. This is not the right time to question people’s kindness. It’s very discouraging to read negative comments about Bongbong Marcos going to Tolosa and other nations giving assistance to Tacloban. It is so easy for a person to criticize if his life is so normal, if he has everything he needs and if he has all his family members alive. But if he lost everything, he will grab whatever help that comes his way. They may be his foes or the least expected people. I no longer care about imperialist ideas. They are only good in theory and paper. When I know that people are dying and no concern from the national government is evident, I see hope in flags of different colors. I no longer question celebrities who travel and send relief. It might be petty to be overwhelmed by a presence of superstar but it is a source of happiness when nothing is left.

Just Alive

How precious life is! This may be another repetitive lesson. I heard a lot of stories of people who fought for their lives during the typhoon. Some lives were paid by heroes we may never heard of. Most of the time, it is a challenge to be satisfied. The summary of our dissatisfaction in life is:  “I don’t have the life I deserve” while others  are mourning over their loved ones’ death- they do not deserve.

I’ll be spending my holidays in my hometown. I don’t know if we will have soft drinks or fruit salad.  I don’t know if there will be fireworks. I just know we will celebrate life.

Not that innocent

With my physique and face, I look innocent. But wait, I’m not that innocent! I have some experiences that will show you I can be Lisbeth Salander. Frail outside but dangerous inside

Story 1: I’m a spy.

During college, I was conducting my thesis in a police precinct. There was a complainant who appeared friendly. If my memory serves me right, she was a teacher in a prestigious university. Then I told her that I was there because I was doing my thesis. She got paranoid that I had a video cam but I said no worries, I was not going to capture a video of her. Then she started questioning my research and she began sharing her weird experiences. She said that Chinese men were after her and she did not know why. According to her, they used Filipinos to spy on her. When I told her I had a Chinese blood, she refused to believe me. She looked doubtful as if I were making up a story to appear that I was innocent. She believed every bad thing happened to her was part of a conspiracy. She almost got hit by a vehicle. She felt someone was watching over her. Her male relatives hurt her physically. All these were part of a conspiracy. She was afraid that I was trying to spy her with my video cam and send it to some Chinese men. At the back of my head, I found her story hilarious and at the same time creepy. I left her alone in the room so that she could have some peace of mind.

Story 2: Illegal possession of firearms and ammunition

I have a habit of bringing pepper spray with me. When I was about to enter the pre-departure area of Hong Kong Airport, the security officer carefully examined my key chains and my pepper spray which I had kept for two years. I was expecting that they were just going to confiscate and throw it away but my heart beat tripled as the officer said, “We will call the police.” He led me to a desk. I was panicking. I was all alone in Hong Kong. “Will I be able to catch my flight?” I asked. The officer replied, “Don’t worry. Take it easy.” He called the police. He assured me it would only take a couple of minutes for the police to arrive. The police would interview me. He inspected the pepper spray. He explained to me that in Hong Kong, they did not take tear gas lightly. You could not buy tear gas anywhere in Hong Kong. The police officer arrived and he had a camera with him. What was the camera for? I was thinking they would probably take a mug shot of me. Then he asked me where did I buy my pepper spray and how much did it cost.  He examined the pepper spray. He took a photograph of the pepper spray. He measured it. And I was already thinking of a strategy on what should I do if I got stranded in the airport. I had no credit card. Much worse, who would bail me out if they were going to put me on jail? They let me signed a letter from the police stating that I acknowledged that possessing a tear gas is an offence in Hong Kong. “Be careful next time,” they said. Even if I was very stupid for bringing a pepper spray with me,  they were very kind to me. They asked one of the staff to assist me. I rushed my way out.

Note: Pepper spray for self-defense in the Philippines is legal and is available in stores.

Well, who would have thought this innocent face could be penalized of any crime?

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At HK Disney