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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Cab Ride With "Selda"

The prospect of taking a cab always makes me wonder if the universe has a target on my back: I always manage to get cab drivers who either play the music too loud, are enamored with what passes as voices of the AM radio commentators, do not know where Ayala Avenue is (when they picked me up in Makati) or something else. There's always something else.

A sign that I'm not too keen of, sometimes.
(Courtesy of

Today was no different.

For today's special, I was treated to a show called "Don't Change That Dial!": the cab driver was listening intently to an ongoing radio advice program, the type where people could send letters and the DJ gives out advice in between playing "related" songs, meaning related to the problem stated by the letter sender.

He was so grossly invested in it that he had to ask me where EDSA was.

As the radio was at full volume (and apparently it sucked out the car's capability to cool the interiors, rendering my taking a cab quite useless in the comfort department) I really had no choice but to tune in to the said program as well.

30 minutes I can't return.

"Selda" describes herself as a prim and proper lady with conservative values, a "dalagang Pilipina" (maiden of the Philippines) if I remember the term correctly, who was about to get hitched to a guy named "Roberto". "Roberto", it turns out, is from the greener side of the fence.

As is "tradition", "Selda's" girlfriends (and one gay guy) throw her a bridal shower, of the naughty variety. They scour a box big enough to cover an entire person, bring the actual gift with a macho dancer inside to her very doorstep and rings her doorbell. She answers and is taken with the largeness of the box, wondering "ano ba naman tong regalo nyo, pwedeng kumasya ang tao sa laki ng kahon". (what's with this gift, a person could fit into this box) Apparently, "Selda" doesn't believe in the literary technique of foreshadowing and decides to spell it out for the deaf listeners of the radio show she is writing to.

Out comes the macho dancer, and immediately he is asked to strip his underwear by everyone but "Selda". As a self described "conservative", she takes great pains to describe how she turns away from the, uhm, spectacle dangling in front of her, with the gay guy commenting "ano ka ba naman, Selda, di ka naman nya igagahasa, tignan mo lang" (what's the matter, "Selda", it's not like he will rape you, just look at it). Expectedly, "Selda" throws a fit, storms out of her own house and refuses to enter until the macho dancer has left.

In case I didn't mention it earlier, the radio program provides a "dramatization" with voice actors, and I was tempted to ask the cab driver "this is comedy, right?" but had to stop myself when I saw how lined his forehead was digesting both the reading of the letter and the acting out by radio. I thought it best not to say anything disparaging until I got out of the cab.

"Selda" then talks to the audience. "Mayroon pa ring mga konserbatibong mga Pilipina, noh. Hindi lahat ay liberated. Ni hindi ko pa nga nakikita ang hubad na katawan ng lalaki. Pero...kung ano man ang nasilip ko sa macho dancer, nagustuhan ko ang nakita ko. Matipuno sya, maganda ang katawan, machong macho. Sino ba naman ang babaeng hindi magugustuhan ang mga katangian na yun sa isang lalaki? Pero dahil konserbatibo ako, kaya ako umalis sa party." (There are still conservative Filipinas. Not all are liberated. I haven't even seen a naked man. But...from what little I did see of the macho dancer, I liked. Well built, nice body, very manly. What woman wouldn't find those qualities attractive? But because I was conservative, I left the party.)

I had to restrain myself from breaking out in laughter, lest the cab driver murder me from where I was seated.

The letter fast forwards to when "Selda" is late in meeting her still-boyfriend "Roberto".  They are talking on the phone, and she promises him that she is doing all she can to meet at the appointed place and time, while he keeps muttering sweet-nothings and asking her to take care of herself.

As soon as she finishes the conversation, the macho dancer materializes in front of her, fully clothed. I guess she also likes his face since she recognizes him right away. They get into small talk, trying to get past the inital embarrassment of how they met. She asks "ano nga ba pangalan mo?" (what's your name, again?) and he says "Alejandro", she remarks "maganda ang pangalan mo, lalaking lalaki, pag nagka-anak ako, gusto ko Alejandro din ang pangalan pag lalaki." (you have a nice name, very manly, when I have a child, I would name him Alejandro if it's a boy.)

This is something you mention on your first "meeting"? Oh, that's right. This isn't.

"Alejandro" asks why she left, and she tells him that she isn't used to "those" kinds of bridal showers. To which he replies, "buti naman, may mga natitirang mga konserbatibong babae pa pala sa mundong ito, kasi sa linya ng trabaho ko, syempre iisa lang ang gusto nilang makita." (that's good, there are still conservative women left in this world, because in my line of work, they only want one thing)

More restraint on my part.

"Alejandro" asks who was she on the phone with, and she tells him it's her boyfriend, who she is late in meeting with. She then segues into "by the way, ano nga pala ang number mo? Para pwede tayo magtext text minsan." (what's your number? So we can communicate by text messaging) He readily gives it to her and as they part ways, they shake hands and he asks, "Friends?" and she replies "oo naman, (of course) friends!"

The background music cues in, and how could anybody be surprised that the DJ decides to play an old song with the lyrics, "torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool....(something, something) breaking all the rules..." "Selda" continues her narration, expounding on how "Alejandro" now calls and text messages her, even writing to each other on Facebook, which progressed into movie watching and dates, "pero walang malisya ha!" (with no malice) which stuns the cab driver because she then poses her dilemna to the DJ and the audience:

"Bakit ganun, eh platonic lang naman kami ni Alejandro? Naguguluhan ako. Mahal ko si Roberto, pero napamahal narin sa akin si Alejandro. Siguro dahil, nung lalo ko siyang nakilala, nalaman ko na pareho kami, galing kami sa mahihirap na pamilya, kumakayod at gusto ng magandang kinabukasan. Hindi tulad ni Roberto, galing sa maykayang pamilya. By the way, may polio pala si Roberto." (Why is it like that, when I have a platonic relationship with Alejandro? I'm confused. I love Roberto, but I've also fallen for Alejandro. Maybe because, when I got to know him more, I learned we are the same, from financially disadvantaged families, working hard, wanting a better future. Unlike Roberto, from a well-off family. By the way, Roberto is polio-stricken.)

Thankfully, my stop came up, before I lost any more of my sanity from hearing "Selda" justify her longing for "Alejandro" all the while brandishing her conservative badge and waving it repeatedly for all to see. Or, in this case, hear.

Calling ABS-CBN and GMA: you may have a hit scriptwriter here for your next telenovela. And "Selda", all I'm asking for is 5% of your gross, as your "discovering" agent.

I'm conservative that way.

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