Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Boo

Damn Filipino parents and their lack of imagination. And patriotism. Hex me all you want, but I will maintain till I inhale my last that Halloween is the most un-Filipino of holidays and that the Philippines has no business celebrating the day.  It lauds no values that we prize as distinctly Filipino,
it has little to do with Catholicism (if stock knowledge serves, Halloween, in fact, has deep roots in paganism) and like that other one-day wonder Valentine’s, is nothing more than a commercial gimmick cooked up by mall owners and event organizers. I cannot pinpoint exactly the year when Halloween became the big deal it is now—as kids, my brother and sister and I and certainly no kids of my acquaintance went trick-or-treating—but I sensed a sea change when I began seeing pint-sized witches, superheroes and zombies scurrying inside malls toting single-use-plastic pumpkin baskets.

What would have made the unpatriotism bearable is if the parents had taken the time and made the effort to dress their children in something more imaginative than a Disney princess or Spiderman. In any Halloween costume competition, points should be awarded for originality, resourcefulness, native craftsmanship as components of over-all presentation.  I would love to see a kid dressed up as a bahay kubo adorned with kiping as an homage to Quezon’s Pahiyas festival. Or, I would love to see a tableau of kids making a seemingly random entrance only to assemble, upon a designated whistle, as the Philippine flag, much like what subversive Filipino playwrights liked to do during the American colonial period when displaying the flag was forbidden. Or perhaps an ironic commentary on contemporary Philippine politics with kids dressed as victims of extrajudicial killings-turned-zombies. The key, I submit, is that the costumes, accessories and face paint must have been the parents’ handiwork, not bought or begged, borrowed or filched.

Poor parents, but there is no reason, is there, at least none I can think of, why adults should not join in the ghoulishness. This is where getting dressed up in Halloween costumes becomes interesting. What if, for example, one decides to come as a butcher?

A butcher, when I picture one, is round of cheek, portly of build and jolly of manner—why the last should be so I cannot explain but that is the first image that pops into my head when I think of a butcher. The unimaginative would accessorize with a necklace of sausages perhaps, a gleaming knife and an apron stained with ketchup for effect. Now a true original will dispense with the props and put on a mask of Jovito Palparan’s face.

This is the man his victims call The Butcher.  He does not fit my stereotype because, if you’ve seen the man, he is all lean. Lean and mean, as the cliché would say, but the meanness isn’t apparent. In fact, he looks rather harmless and more in need of a good meal than a good lawyer. He will have neither, not after the Regional Trial Court pronounced him guilty for the kidnapping and serious illegal detention of Karen Empeño and Sheryl Cadapan, the two University of the Philippines students who were abducted by unidentified men in June 2006 and who have been missing since. I cringe just even thinking about it, but I pray that the final paragraph of Karen and Sheryl’s ill-starred biographies do not find them stuffed into pig casings, but that’s just me being macabre which, in my defense, is only in keeping with the holiday.

Say I was invited to a costume party on the 31st and for lack of inspiration, I decide to capitalize on my legal background and sally forth as a magistrate, and not just any rinky-dink magistrate but as the first female Chief Justice of the Philippines. This will present a special problem, as anyone who reads Supreme Court decisions will tell you. The choice of likeness boils down to two choices: to go with the robe, will the mask be of Maria Lourdes Sereno or of Teresita Leonardo-de Castro? I am dreading having to decide, which is what Meryl Streep must have been feeling in Sophie’s Choice. Justice Sereno was appointed by Noynoy Aquino as Chief Justice after the impeachment of Renato Corona and she discharged that office until she was removed, not by impeachment, like Corona, as decreed by the Constitution, but by a special action called quo warranto. The people who removed her were her own colleagues in the Court who she had bypassed, and in turn, President Duterte appointed de Castro as Chief Justice. The wrinkle in Sereno’s résumé is that her colleagues said in the decision that she was never validly qualified to be Chief Justice, so technically, de Castro is the first female Chief Justice. So you can imagine my predicament.

The safest option, I think, is to attend not as the appointee but with the appointer. I can bring a date, dress him up in a polo barong leaving a button or two undone, and cake his face with some dark foundation. All I need to do is rent a dialysis machine as a prop and
we’re all set. G

 

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