Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Slinging Ink: Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?

I rode the MRT to Makati yesterday, on my way to take my TOEFL exam. The wall of people who were taking the 7 AM train was just frightening - I can almost picture the siege of Saigon, where everybody wanted to get out. You could smell sweat and cologne mingling with the exhaust from EDSA as we all shuffled towards the ticket windows. It was so bad that the guards at the entrance had to stop people from entering for a while in order to decongest the station. Thankfully, I was one of the lucky ones who were already standing in line. So I got my ticket, went past the turnstile, and looked for a place where I could stand and wait.

On the MRT platform, there are yellow lines marking where the doors will be when the train stops. Usually, clumps of people converge at these yellow lines, despite the regular announcements that goes, "Please step away from the yellow line because the train might decapitate you if you are too close to it when it screeches to a halt." Despite that, most Filipinos, I suppose, have a death wish, and so people still stand on the edge of the platform, where a slight push could topple you over and onto the tracks.

Anyway, during this particular morning, half an hour before 8, the wall of people had transferred from the ticketing line to the platform. And since Quezon Avenue was the second stop of the northbound train, it came as a shocker to me to see the next couple of trains full to the brim with people. What was really a shocker, though, was the fact that people were shoving and pushing to get on the train - and that most of the perpetrators of these actions were men. As one woman acidly remarked while we were being pushed and shoved this way and that, "Ano ba yan? Yung mga lalaki pa yung nanunulak!"

Which, you know, then brings up the question: What happened to the gentleman?

You know, the one who would at least have the courtesy of not pushing and shoving when getting on the train, or who would give the pregnant lady in front of me some leeway so she could clamber onboard. The ones who wouldn't leer when a woman walks by, with wolf whistles and the occassional come-on line. The ones who won't give you lip service, but actually follow through with their word. The ones who would still open doors and pull up chairs, who would face the oncoming traffic when crossing the street with you.

It's just so odd - a part of me feels spoiled because the men I *do* know and am friends with are gentlemen, and they do all of the things I've cited above. But why is it that when you get out of that certain social circle, courtesy and manners simply degenerate, or disappear as if they've never quite existed? And it's not something that you require men, or people for that matter - I've always thought that decency was common.

Apparently not.

But still, I find myself lucky that at least the guys I am close to have been brought up right, and that they know how to treat the opposite of the species. And while gender equality is still going strong, we all know that it's nice to be treated like a princess once in a while. ^_^

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Nikki Alfar
Tobie Abad
Gabby Lee
Andre Mischa Cleofe
Cathy delos Santos

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