The Frustrated Doctor: A Limerick


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Champorado From Rainy Days Past


I love the rainy season.

My legs do not sweat in jeans, my face does not break out, the streets are not dusty. And best of all, the heavy downpour drowns the city’s noises that I have learned to get used to but never liked.

On Monday morning earlier this week, the unmistakable sound of a rainstorm woke me up thirty minutes earlier than my set alarm. As soon as I opened my reluctant eyes, I noticed how the rain had muted the whirring electric fans, the singing voices from the shower, and the occasional vehicles avoiding rush hour traffic. I found it ironic that the splashing raindrops could actually produce such silence. It felt peaceful and so unlike the city. It almost felt like home.

Peace amidst the rainstorm.
Peace amidst the rainstorm.

If it were not for my grumbling stomach, I would have stayed in bed, curled up for another hour or so. Grudgingly, I sat up and reached for the food basket which I keep conveniently under the bed. As I nibbled on my last piece of wheat bread, I was hit by the nostalgia of rainy days past.

Back home, rainy mornings are always champorado days. We, kids, would sleep in while a pot of champorado is being cooked in the kitchen. We would then be coaxed out of bed by the smell of tuyo or dried fish (the word literally means “dry”) frying in the pan. We would march to the kitchen table, clad in Mommy’s old camisa de chinos (which my sister nicknamed “farmer’s clothes”) and brightly-colored knee-high socks (which we were not allowed to wear in school). Every now and then we would ask, “Is it done?” as we munched on tuyo.

Some city people do not like tuyo, particularly its fishy smell (But what do they expect? It is a fish!), but it is almost a staple in our diet and we especially love it paired with our champorado. Believe me when I say, champorado plus tuyo is a match made in storm heaven. Yum!

A match made in storm heaven.
A match made in storm heaven.

Maybe the best way to describe champorado is to call it “chocolate rice porridge.” Like lugaw or rice porridge, it is made of kaning malagkit (literally, “sticky rice”) but unlike lugaw, it is cooked, not in mere water with ginger, but in thick, chocolate syrup from tsokolate. Our tsokolate is a little different from the tablea of Batangas though both are used for making hot chocolate. Ours look like small chocolate orbs and they can be eaten like candies. But like the hot chocolate from tablea, our tsokolate produces a viscous liquid so our champorado is not soupy but syrupy.

But the texture is not the best feature of my Lola’s champorado. There is the magic ingredient — gata or coconut milk (expect Bicolanos to add gata to every dish imaginable). So there is no need to add evaporated milk to Lola’s champorado. My sister insists on still adding evap on hers, though. She just could not eat champorado without drawing white hearts on it.

Now, champorado days are mere stories from my childhood. I realized that this morning, as I sat on my bed, wrapped in my thin blanket while sipping bland, runny coffee.

Champorado and tuyo are now replaced by cup noodles and coffee. Rainy days are no longer about playing all day long and finding treasures in Mommy’s old books. It is now about suspended classes.

It is not that rainy days are no longer great, now that I am past my teenage years. At least, with the class suspension, I can catch up on some much-needed sleep and have extra time to study for the next exam. Grown-up rainy days are welcome but it is just that I could really do with some champorado and tuyo today.

I miss home, the place of rainy days past.

Pisay’s Pabaon


May nalaman akong chismis,” a classmate announced as soon as I plopped my bag on an empty chair.

Ano?” I asked as I searched for my notebook in the black hole that is my bag.

“Pisay ka pala.

Uh-huh.”

Mahirap ba talaga do’n?”

Preoccupied with reading my notes I unwittingly answered, “It was actually more work than college.”

So there, I finally admitted it — that I actually had more difficulty in high school. Before, I did not dare say it even when it is true because I did not want to offend people. I was afraid of being called arrogant.

Even before releasing us into the real world, our high school teachers kept reminding us that Pisay graduates are often labelled “arrogant” by their colleagues in college. Back then I was still that girl who loved attention and cared about popularity so when I finally entered the university I made sure to blend in with the others — I did not want Pisay attached to my name. Whenever somebody asks where I am from, I always gave vague answers such as “Bicol” or “somewhere near Isarog.”

In a way, I have succeeded. My classmates do not treat me any differently even now that they know where I specifically am from (maybe it’s because of the bad and not-so-good grades I get). However, there are times when I still feel the pressure of people’s expectations and judgment. There was that time when a classmate inconsiderately asked why I was not good in chemistry when I am from Pisay. There was that time a professor gave me the look when I was wearing my Little Miss Pisay shirt (I swear all my school clothes were in the laundry and that was my last resort).

Having been educated in the special science curriculum in high school, people often expect me to excel in the sciences. Sadly, I am a disappointment in that. I only manage to pass, sometimes only barely. Often, I wonder why. Lately, I realized that it is because the best lessons I got from Pisay were not the ones that I learned in the classroom or the lab. Pisay’s pabaon to us, its graduates, is not really the vantage in academics but the life lessons that we painstakingly acquired.

Here are some of my favorites:

1. Pressure makes diamonds.

We were giddy eleven-, twelve-, thirteen-year-olds then. Most of us were achievers in grade school so we thought we could easily conquer high school, too. But from the first day we were already forewarned: Pisay life is going to be difficult. Pressure will come from every source imaginable. Thankfully, our campus director welcomed us by saying that without pressure, pure carbon will never become a diamond.

I know many will react negatively to this but I have learned in high school that pressure is necessary. Yes, sometimes it can be overwhelming for young teenagers for it exposes their weaknesses and makes them vulnerable. But without pressure, people tend to be lax. Thus, they waste the opportunity to maximize their potentials. Carbon remains carbon.

Pisay has helped us learn to respond to pressure effectively and made us see that we can be diamonds. We were taught to acknowledge our weaknesses and overcome them. We were taught to recognize our strengths and use them to our advantage. We were taught to be tough in order to withstand pressure. Pressure from Pisay education has made us strong.

2. Do not expect others to adjust for you.

I was pampered as a kid so I used to be self-centered. I made myself the standard and I did not hesitate to show my disapproval to anyone who chose to deviate from the standard I had set. In grade school, people tolerated that selfish behavior of mine so in high school, I initially found it hard to adapt. I expected people to adjust for me so unsurprisingly, the other kids eventually learned to dislike me. It took a year before I realized what was wrong but when I did, I became more sensitive to other people’s feelings. I learned to compromise and respected each one’s individuality.

Now, even when the university houses an even more diverse community, I am no longer shocked. High school has prepared me to be open-minded. I am not yet entirely unbiased (is that possible?) but I always remind myself to be careful to avoid offending others’ religious beliefs or gender preferences (I fail sometimes, though).

And when, on the other hand, I believe I am judged unfairly (e.g.”She’s from Pisay so she’s arrogant”), I always remember not to react violently. High school has taught me that being too defensive only breeds enmity and will never make the person change his or her mind. Instead of striving to prove them wrong, I have learned to consider if there might be truth in what others say about me and I try to change myself for the better.

3. Respect and trust your elders.

As teenagers, my friends and I used to make fun of our teachers’ mannerisms. Behind their backs, one of us will impersonate them and we used to have a good laugh about that. We would also disregard their advices and proceeded to doing what we want.

I regret doing so. I wish I had listened.

Teachers have been through high school before so they know what they are talking about. They know better than us. And best of all, teachers treat their students like their own children. That’s why we should trust them. Everything that they made us do, no matter how difficult it was, was for our own good. They only wanted us to succeed.

4. There is no shortcut to learning.

High school was not about the final output but we were made to take tests, do lab work, and make projects because we learn in the process. Thus, taking shortcuts defeats the purpose of being in school.

In my freshman year in Pisay, I had difficulty understanding Drafting and I struggled to finish my plates. Once I had been tempted to ask my mom to do the plates for me. It could have been a sure 1.0 for Mommy used to be an engineering major. But I decided against it and did my job. Sure enough, I got depressing marks on my first plates. But I managed to learn from my mistakes and eventually, my scores improved. Since then, I resolved to do things the long way even when there is an easy way out. I may have low grades in my transcript but the important thing is, I worked hard for those grades and I have learned in the process.

5. Life is not always fair.

These were the exact parting words that our campus director gave us, the graduating class of 2012, on our last Recognition Day in the school. It was just the perfect way to initiate us into the world of adults.

As young people, we tend to be idealistic and we want the world to instantly conform to what we think is rightful. But in Pisay we were told again and again that we cannot always get what we want and we have to learn to accept that. Whatever happens, life goes on.

It may be unfair that a certain person always gets higher marks even when he or she does not give as much effort as you did but there is no point in sulking. Some people are just naturally smart and we could not change that. I have learned that if I, too, wanted high grades, then I need to exert extra effort in order to compensate for my lack of intelligence.

It may be unfair that some girls unreasonably hate you and talk behind your back but you cannot force them to believe you when you defend yourself. People believe what they want to believe. I have learned that I cannot change people’s opinions about me but I should not let them change my opinions about myself.

It may be unfair that the boy I liked instead liked another girl who did not like him back but you cannot force another to love you and choose you instead. Everyone has the right to choose who to love. I have learned to be patient and wait for who is for me.

 

Right now, I am still a construction-in-progress and I am not yet the diamond that Pisay has intended me to be. But Pisay has done a lot to build the person I am today and I will be forever grateful. 🙂

 

 

Celebrating in Bed


This post is in response to the The Daily Prompt’s Celebrate Good Times.

(Click to see source)
(Click to see source)

When I was twelve, my mother asked my sister and me how we would like to celebrate our eighteenth birthdays. My sister asked for a party. I asked for an entire day in bed without anyone telling me to get my lazy ass off it. My mother laughed. She did not think I was serious.

Ironically, on the actual day I turned eighteen, I pulled an all-nighter in preparation for an upcoming exam in Organic Chemistry which I eventually failed dramatically (but that is another story). So much for a celebration. But on the other hand, I would have neither opted for a “real” celebration. I am in love with our culture but I am not quite a fan of the Filipino way of celebrating birthdays, graduations, weddings, baptisms, and the like.

A Filipino celebration is never complete without handaan (feast), inuman (drinking), and the much-loved videoke. It sounds fun and some people actually love organizing such events. But the introvert that I am is definitely not enticed.

First of all, throwing a party is a laborious task. The host or hostess has to prepare for it days or even weeks before. He or she has to wake up early on the actual date in order to make sure that the house is spotlessly clean and to prepare the food that everyone will feast on later. During the party he or she has to go back and forth the sala and the kitchen to make sure that all the guests are comfortable and that there is enough food for everyone. Then, after everyone has said goodbye, he or she is in charge of the mess that is left, including drunken guests who are no longer capable of going home safely by themselves. Going all through these hassles looks stressful and being stressed does not appear celebratory for me.

Secondly, I shun drinking to get drunk. Just recalling past Christmas celebrations with the family makes me shudder. There was always chaos in the house after my uncles had too much beer. They would quarrel among themselves, bringing back their past resentments with one another (sometimes with tears galore), and then they would turn to their wives who would loudly chide them as if they were children. The morning after is not much better with hangover making them irritable. Grouchy uncles on Christmas morning is a clear indication that spirits destroy the Christmas spirit. Again, does not appear celebratory.

Lastly, the singing. By nature, Filipinos are music lovers. That is why almost everyone, even those who cannot carry a tune (like me), loves to sing. Celebrations are always an opportunity to sing before an audience and are, thus, always welcome. But let’s face it: some singing are more of a noise than music. The “singers” might say, walang basagan ng trip, and they may get away with it but in the end, it is the host or the hostess who has to face the trouble next morning when neighbors who were not pleased would definitely complain. Now, there is no fun in that.

I have never been amused by large and noisy parties and on my birthdays, I always prefer the small family feast we have always had. But if I were to be asked, my idea of a perfect celebration is in bed, especially now that I am far from my loved ones who I always share my special days with.

This may sound crazy but you see, my bed is my comfort place. I can do almost everything in it. I study, read, write, think, and dream in it. So where else should I spend my special day if not in my favorite place?

Maybe spending the entire day in bed is not realistic for one has to work or go to school (pre-teen me did not realize that). But it would have been nice to wake up to everyone singing Happy Birthday while I blow out the candles on a birthday cake. Then later in the evening I would throw a pajama party for all my friends. We would gorge ourselves with pizza, French fries, and cakes while we watch cheesy rom-com movies and, of course, the national sleepover and break-up movie, One More Chance. This is how sixteen-year-old me pictured my twentieth birthday celebration. The actual day was a far cry from this silly fantasy.

On my twentieth birthday, I was awakened not by singing but by the alarm that was set to two hours earlier than my usual waking time. It was just like a regular day and I went through my daily routine as if it was not a red-letter day in my calendar. I took a quick bath, put on whatever shirt and shorts are on top of the pile of clothes in my closet, grab a McCafe and hash brown, then drag my feet to school. On that particular day, we had an exam and an oral report so I was almost sleepless the night before. So when the day was over, I rushed back to my dorm room, put on bed clothes, then slept. Birthday cake in bed? I had it in my dreams. Haha.

As a new grown-up, I no longer see birthdays as the special days that I was used to in childhood. Nowadays, I only have personal celebrations. I celebrate every tiny accomplishment I make — submitting a paper on time, surviving a hell week, passing an exam I was sure I would fail. And I always celebrate each accomplishment in the same place — in bed. Sometimes, I prop myself up with pillows while I catch up with my reading. Sometimes, I lie on my belly while I write on my journal. But usually, I catch some extra hours of shuteye. That would make a perfect sem-ender, if you ask me.

Some people, especially the party-hungry ones, might say my way of celebating is boring. But between getting drunk in a college party and sleeping in, I would definitely choose the solace my bed can offer. Waking up feeling refreshed and energized for another exam or semester is much better than waking up with a hangover, right? Ah, the pleasures of celebrating in bed!

Butterfingers


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A few days ago, I complained in Twitter that the entire gush about NBA makes me feel left behind. A friend, an avid basketball fan, replied to my tweet, “Maging fan ka na rin kasi! (So be a fan!)”

Ha! I am actually closer to becoming an action movie fan than becoming a sports fan.

Sports is of one of those realms that I do not really get. While I did play outdoor games as a kid, I was always the saling pusa — my playmates let me run along with them during patintero or ice-ice-water but I was not really a part of the game, I was just tagging along. I could not blame the other kids. I was a sure liability to any group I would be in and once I was It, which was most likely at the first few seconds of the game, there would no longer be excitement since I would be It until the bell rings. But I was happy even as a saling pusa. At least I could enjoy playing without feeling the pressure to win. Then, I went to high school where sport games such as basketball, volleyball, and badminton were a requirement in the P.E. curriculum. This time I could not just tag along. I really had to play.

Well, actually, I should have played. But I still did not. Well, properly, at least. In basketball, I just went where the ball was because I thought, What’s the point of playing basketball if I could not touch the ball even just once, right? So I kept trailing after the ball just as the other girls did, much to the dismay of our P.E. teacher. In volleyball, I ducked instead of hitting the ball. It hit me once square in the face that I could not feel my nose for the rest of the day. In badminton and table tennis, the racket always had a mind of its own. Sometimes it refuses to touch the ball. Sometimes it flies. In futsal, I just kept on kicking the ball every chance I get. I just thought, This is practice for self-defense!

Really, I was a comic sight in the sports field. Luckily for me, the last quarter of the school year was always dedicated to dance. Then I could save my face for though I was not really a talented dancer, at least I was not awkward in the dance floor as I was in the court.

I have no issue with my almost non-existent relationship with sports. Even as a kid I was already aware that when it comes to games, maybe except scrabble, I am the dorky type. Being butterfingered may be uncool but it is the way I am and I have learned to accept and love that. It is one of my quirks, like off-key singing. My problem is the way some people treat those who are like me.

They call dorky boys losers. They call dorky girls damsels in distress. They think that not having a sport is a disease that needs to be cured. They think disinterest in sports is merely artificial hipsterism.

But what they say and think is not right.

Awkward boys can be winners in a different sense and awkward girls do not need saving. They are not just body smart like some people are. They have other talents and they may excel in a completely different field. That is how nature works: every individual has his or her own strengths and weaknesses.

Having a sport is great but it is a choice. Yes, playing a sport helps a person develop certain skills, such as discipline, that may serve him or her throughout life. But there must be other ways for a person to develop the same skills. For example, discipline can be learned by studying or working hard to attain a certain goal. Therefore, playing a sport is not the only choice. A person should not be forced to play a sport just because everyone else does.

Not being interested in sports is not hypocritical. Maybe most people are into at least one type of sport but not all people do. Some would rather read a book or write one, make music, sketch or paint, or tinker in a lab. Choosing to do something else instead of catching the game on T.V. does not make one look down on sports. There really are people who are not just into what everyone is raving about. And come to think about it, they are actually being honest. Some people who do not really follow sports would pretend that they do just so they would not look uncool. I used to do that.

Remember the friend who told me to become a basketball fan just so I would not feel left behind? He was once a high school boyfriend. He used to play for our batch’s basketball team.

I recall once when we were still together, I stayed up late, trying to teach myself the basics of basketball because I thought it my duty as a girlfriend to, if it is not possible to share, at least understand his interests. He did not ask me to but I could feel he would love it if I were also into it.

Now, almost six years after, I have already given up. That is why I am still the butterfingered and sports lingo illiterate girl that I was. But I am not regretful. I chose to be myself and learned that people who truly love me will understand my every quirk.

It is funny that he asked me now to study the sport and catch up with the next season which was what I exactly did when we were silly teenagers. Sorry, dude, I really tried before but basketball is really beyond my comprehension.

It’s not yet summer


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Now that all grades are out, it’s officially summer time! For sleep-deprived students this translates to no more all-nighters, put those coffee mugs to rest. But for some of us who will be taking short term classes, coffee is not off-season (yet).

Compliments for Breakfast


It is a habit of mine to pick up a copy of my favorite newspaper in a nearby convenience store after buying hot pan de sal for breakfast. It is almost always the same scenario: I am automatically greeted, “Good morning! Welcome to Ministop!” upon entering, I go straight to the papers and get one, pay to the cashier, then leave. I had never had a friendly chat with any of the storekeepers even though I have already grown quite familiar with them. Our conversations were always limited to business. That is, until one morning when one of them surprised me by asking, “Ma’am, can I compliment you today?”

I was taken aback not because I found the inquiry cocky but because I found it strange. I had never been asked so in my life. The poor guy must have confused my astonishment with anger for he quickly apologized, saying he did not mean to offend. I told him, “No, it’s fine. You may.” So he smiled and said, “Then I think you are looking lovely today.”

I will never forget that encounter. It was nothing like the “compliments” I am accustomed to. That is, those that are often preceded or followed by wolf whistles or those that are especially directed on a specific body part (e.g. “Wow, legs!”). Instead, it felt sincere (his eyes were really smiling) and was delivered in a respectful manner. And I have to commend the guy, too. When he asked me, a stranger, if he could compliment me, he took the risk of being snubbed or worse, being reported to the store manager.

Some people might say, “He’s just making a pass at you.” Normally, I would think so, too. Women are so used to harassment that any form of comment on their physical appearance is almost always taken as an offense. Maybe this is why the guy in the store immediately apologized to me. He must have experienced being given dagger looks before for attempting to compliment. I find it unfortunate that even those who have clean intention have to suffer the same treatment we feel obliged to give to those jerks who had disrespected us.

All right, some men can be really creepy. Like that pedicab driver who offered me a free ride. Even after I said “No, I don’t need a ride.” as politely as I can even when I was already feeling scared, he still followed me until I reached my dorm, cajoling me to ride his pedicab for free. Heaven knows what he had in mind.

Men who act like they are entitled to every woman they find attractive, like that creepy pedicab driver, make it natural for women to acquire a defensive response whenever a stranger throws a compliment. After all, it happens almost all the time that we eventually came to conclude that all men are the same. However, this recent experience made me rethink my opinions regarding the matter. Maybe most men tend to behave uncouthly around women but not all are like that. Maybe real gentlemen still exist.

So to that guy who works in the Ministop which I frequent, thank you for the respect. Some guys out there can really learn from you. You just proved to me that there really are ways for a man to compliment a stranger without making her feel threatened. You also made me realize that there really is a difference between a catcall and compliment and that is in the intention and manner of delivery. A real compliment is given without expecting gratification such as exchange of digits. That made me decide to always assess the situation first before acting defensively.

Thus, yesterday morning while walking to the bakery (yes, to get my pan de sal and newspaper), I did not glare at the men who stopped talking to stare at me. Normally, I would find it rude that they did not even hide the fact that they were staring. But I thought, at least they merely stared. At least they did not try to get my attention by shouting uncalled for comments. So I let them stare and took that as a silent compliment. Who would not love compliments for breakfast?

Happy Best Friends’ Day! (from the girl with no best friend)


So today is the day to honor that one person who totally gets you, the one who stayed by your side in tears or in laughter. Happy Best Friends’ Day! Sadly, I have no one to celebrate the day with.

Yes, I do not have a best friend. I do have a couple of close friends but there is really no one who I can truly call my BFF. This is not something that I planned. I am actually longing for a friendship like that of Robin and Lily of How I Met Your Mother or like that of Becky and Suze of the Shopaholic series but I never found that kind of relationship. Somehow, I always find myself in a crowd where, when the boat is sinking, no one would immediately pair up with me.

Lily and Robin of HIMYM
Lily and Robin of HIMYM

“You’re an introvert, that’s why,” my sister would explain. She may be right. I have been quite reticent, even as a child, and I do not mind spending my extra time alone. I rarely recite in class. I tend to be quiet during lively discussions except at home which is the only place where I can be seen chattering. I have always been reluctant to approach other people, especially teachers. I shy away from college parties for the fear of spilling my own secrets after a few shots. These are not exactly top secrets but these secrets define me and I am not yet ready to share these with anyone. Plus, many of these secrets are really embarrassing.

My mother blames herself. She said they used to hide me from my grandfather who had no idea that she and Dad were together. She thus hypothesized that the fact that I was a secret baby may be the reason why I became too secretive and often hesitant to talk with people I am not familiar with. But I disagree with Mom. I have now figured out what’s wrong: it’s my face.

I used to wonder why I am good at intimidating people unconsciously. It dawned on me lately when I chanced upon this article from Cosmopolitan Philippines. Reading it was like a eureka moment that I kept on exclaiming, So true!

I understand you, girl.
I understand you, girl.

So that was the problem – my resting bitch face. After reading the article I remembered rushing to the bathroom to look at my face. I stared at my unsmiling self for a full minute then I end up laughing (it was good I was alone in our dorm room that time as my roommates might think I was going crazy). I realized that if I were another person, I would not find it easy to approach that lady with that tiger look in her face. So to all those people who I had shooed off because of my mataray face, my deepest apologies. I did not mean to do so. True, I am not talkative but I am not unfriendly.

So again, happy best friends’ day to all who have found their soul sisters! And as for the best friend that I still believe that I am yet to meet, please do not be afraid of me. Believe me, it’s just my face. 😀

Paper


It lay in front of me—
White and spotless
Like a baby’s blanket.

There it lay still—
Empty and waiting
To be filled with my love.

But I know of no love,
Only sorrow and regret,
And only these I can give.

So now it lay in front of me
Black and blue all over
Like a battered body.

Still it lay in front of me
Brimming with tears
Yet still offering its other side—

White and spotless.
Empty and waiting.

When “good morning” is not polite


Don't even pretend that is polite.
Don’t even pretend that is polite.

“Hi beh*, good morning.”

I ignored the man who called out to me — just as I do every time — but this time, he moved towards me, attempting to stop me in my tracks. Swiftly, I overtook him and pretended he did not exist while he and his friend (they are both security guards in a government office near my dorm) snickered. I gritted my teeth and clenched my fist as I walked on — that was the least I can do to contain my anger.

Being catcalled is a usual happening in my daily ten-minute walk to and from school. It has happened so frequently that before stepping out of the premises of my dorm, I always prepare myself to shift from my usual smiling face to a stoic expression so that I can ward off potential harassers. Sometimes, it works. Some men would immediately back off and give me an apologetic smile when I give them my well-practiced don’t-mess-with-me look. But still, there are those who never get the message and would shamelessly shout out to me, “Hoy, suplada! Nag-‘good morning’ lang naman. (Hey, snob! I just greeted you ‘good morning’)”

I just greeted you “good morning.”

That is what they always say. I find it absurd that they actually expect women to believe that. No woman is that stupid to believe that a ‘good morning’ from a complete stranger is a mere act of social grace. How can it be when he has that wicked gleam in his eyes that makes her feel unsafe? And does that stranger really greet every person (that is, men and women alike) he meets on the street that way? Definitely not. That “good morning” is reserved for women who are companionless, particularly those who they think are young and helpless like me. And obviously, they do not intend to be nice. They mean to assert their power over women.

Why do men do that? Thus I once complained to a male friend. He shrugged it off as if I were talking about makeup and replied, “Let it go. It’s just a compliment.” For a moment, I was speechless for I never looked at the matter that way. In fact, no woman would ever look at the matter like that. Not when it makes her feel publicly humiliated. Not when it makes her feel insecure. Not when it makes her feel oppressed. My friend’s answer made me feel dejected but at the time I said nothing further. Just as he advised, I let it go.

Now, more than a year after that conversation, I realized that women, despite our never-ending campaign for gender equality, remain unconsciously obedient to our “masters.” We always let it go. Growing up, I had observed older women being indifferent to catcalling. Therefore, when I started getting catcalled myself, I conditioned myself that it is a natural part of life. I let men have their errant ways while I make the adjustments by pretending that I see or hear nothing or by changing my route to school even when it is inconvenient.

Lately though, I realized that despite managing to stay composed amidst the hooting and unsolicited greetings, deep inside of me broods anger distress. It is just so unfair that we, women, have to put up with that kind of treatment by men who seriously believe that they are giving us a favor when they “compliment” us. But it is not a compliment nor is it a simple polite greeting. It is a derogatory comment on our existence — a mockery of our sex.

I wish I had told my friend, “That’s bullshit!” I wish I could not just let it go. I wish I have the courage to say, “Hey, you are not just being polite and I know that.” But I can’t because I know that for now it will not work. Even when we know it is not right and even when we try to speak up, we, women, end up losers in this game for catcalling has already been accepted as mere inconvenience, not a real problem. But I know that someday, if we continue to fight for our right to security, we will no longer be subjected to public humiliation masked in “compliments.” Someday, that “good morning” will be polite again.

*Beh is a contraction of the word baby. In Filipino culture, it is often used as an endearment among couples.