This is my reaction to ChinoF’s latest article about a lot of people, especially here in the Philippines, who simply latch on to another person’s personality and assume that they are either all good or all bad as well as a way to express my disgust towards the people who are comparing Maria Clara to Maria Ozawa as if all women are just either puritans or sluts. Also, since I know that a lot of you are probably tired of my previous rantings, perhaps I’ll just tell you guys another story. Some of you would like that, wouldn’t you?
Okay everyone, just sit back and enjoy this parable I’ve put together which was inspired by the story of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector which was told in the Bible by Jesus…
It’s a bustling Saturday afternoon and the chapel near the end of town stands almost empty save for two very different women who, by some coincidence, have entered the holy place at the same time.
One of them is the wealthy Purita, a heiress to one of the richest families in their town. She had lived a pampered life in her family’s mansion and only left to either go to school or party with friends. Purita was a very aloof woman and, while she was one of her school’s biggest achievers, she doesn’t really study all that much and mostly just relies on the bribes her parents give to the school staff and administration. Indeed, were it not for her family’s wealth, she would be ranked among some of the more less intelligent students in her class.
The other is the destitute Malena, a poor young woman forced into prostitution due to poverty. While she was born to a family of poor farmers, she was on her way to a promising future as she was both intelligent and resourceful. Unfortunately for poor Malena, she was raped one evening while on the way home and is now forced to care for a child which was the result of her terrible experience. Still, Malena struggles on, for her child if nothing else and for the hope that life can still be good to her even if in some small way.
As they sat in two separate aisles, they both began to pray in silence:
“Thank you Lord for making me rich and good!” Prayed Purita. “Thank you for making me a better woman than that prostitute over there! Thank you for giving me the good sense to avoid perverted men and boys who have nothing but dirty things on their minds! Thank you for giving me lots of money so I can buy nifty gadgets, branded clothing and other cool stuff! I will offer you lots of money in church, more so than anyone else so that you’ll give me more! But please Lord, keep me away from filthy bad people, especially perverted men!”
“Have mercy on me Lord, for whatever sins I might have done!” Prayed Malena. “I know that I am not a good woman and that I may not be your favorite but I pray only that you be kind, if not me then perhaps to others. But above all Lord, thank you for providing for me and my family when times are hard such as when some of our neighbors and relatives pitch in to help so that my child and I can eat full meals when times are hard. I cannot do much, but I promise that I will do what is right in my own way.”
Then the two left the church…
Purita made it back to her mansion and immediately ordered her servants to get her a cup of hot coffee. Not checking the heat of her drink, she tried to quickly drink her coffee and got her lips burned for troubles. Enraged, she stood up and called for her servant who served her her coffee and slapped the woman the moment she was close enough. How could she serve her such hot coffee that would burn her lips? That very day, Purita fired her servant, forcing the latter to live on the streets for simply making her mistress’ coffee too hot.
Malena made her way back to the small hovel she lived in in the nearby squatter’s area. However, before she made it home, she saw an old woman who had fallen from her wheelchair. After closer inspection, Malena saw that the old woman was unconscious but still breathing. Not hesitating to help, Malena gently put the old woman back into the wheelchair and made her way towards the nearest hospital which was about a few hundred yards away. She stayed with the unconscious old woman until she was identified and her next of kin were notified.
Ladies and gentlemen, the parable written above isn’t just about princesses and prostitutes, mind you, nor is it just about the difference between rich and poor. It is about people (especially Filipinos) obsession with labels and stigmas and how they rate people according to a skewed set of standards. I’ve heard of some unscrupulous men talking about some women aren’t good wife material for the simple reason that they aren’t virgins anymore. As stated by ChinoF, we get hung up on the person and the labels stuck to them rather than who they are and what they do. When a person is labeled a “soldier” or “cop” we automatically assume them to be mean people and often reconsider making friends with them. When a person is labeled a servant, we tend to think of them as dumb provincial types. When a person is labeled an intellectual, we assume them to be uptight and uncaring people. These are but a few of the ways we tend to stereotype others which, in reality, plays a role in the way we discriminate one another and contributes to our overall dysfunction as a people.
We need to stop judging each other by our images of one another and instead learn to gauge one another by our actions.
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