‘Mirror on the . . .’


“. . . wall, who’s the fairest one of all?”

It’s a statement often mumbled by members of the fairer sex whenever they stand, or behold their semblance, before a mirror.

It was paraphrased – by whom, we don’t know – from the original statement, “Magic mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all,” emanating from the Brothers Grim fairy tale, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Everybody out there are familiar with the story, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,” which you have read during your elementary or high school days.

For those wanting to be reacquainted about it, the tale is about an evil queen –  who happened to be Snow White’s stepmother –  asking her mirror every morning, “Magic mirror in my hand, who’s the fairest in the land?”

Always, the mirror replied, “My queen, you are the fairest in the land.”

But the time came when Snow White reached the age of seven, became as beautiful as the day and even more beautiful than the queen.

A day arrived that the evil queen wanted to be assured she was the fairest. But the mirror bluntly retorted, “My Queen, you are the fairest here so true. But Snow White, beyond the mountains at Seven Dwarves, is a thousand times more beautiful than you.”

Seething with unreasonable jealousy for being unseated as the fairest in the land, the queen plotted for Snow White’s death.

But in the end, with help of the seven dwarves who became Snow White’s friends, and a prince, the stepmother’s plan failed at the cost of the queen meeting a violent death.

As for Snow White? She lived happily ever after with the prince.

Last week, while in the course of toil in areas at Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Region 1, Ah Kong decided to add another activity of doing a simple survey.

So simple was the survey that it had only one question, which was, “Do you use, or, have you ever used a mirror?”

Yep, you got it right. The question can easily be satisfied with a by a simple yes or no answer. In the survey, a person being surveyed had the option of giving or not giving an explanation, meaning, optional.

Ah decided to survey exactly 200 persons, divided into 100 females and 100 males. Ah decided on 200 persons before Wednesday of the week will come to pass.

Result? 199 answered yes. The only one who said no was a male aged 86 years old but explained he used a mirror during the years he was a teenage, an adult and a senior.

It was only when he reached his 80’s that he said he stopped staring at a mirror. His name is Wilfredo Caban, from CAR.

More remarkably, of the 100 females surveyed, 67 of them were not contented of only answering “yes.”  Instead, they wanted emphasized their answer must be the words, “of course!”

By golly?  Why that piece of glass which reflect an image of us and became part of the fabric of everyday life is quite a revelation on the most intimate of levels.

Before mirrors came along, the average person trudged through life without ever seeing a truly accurate representation of his or her face.

Before mirrors came along, humans just glimpsed fragmentary images of themselves in pools of still water or polished objects.

Before mirrors came along, humans have a hard time of seeing their faces and personally recognizing themselves.

Before mirrors came along, there’s no way of ascertaining whether our smile is a snarl.

Mirrors became so magical that they were quickly integrated into homes.

There’s a look of innocence when looking into the mirror, because, just as one does, he/she asks the mirror: “Do I look beautiful/ handsome?”

As far back as humanity can peer into the past, humans have a tendency of sizing other people’s looks. Persons notice the attractiveness of each face they see as automatically as they register whether or not they look familiar.

Mirrors helped invent the modern self. That much we can agree on.

But whether that is a good thing is a separate question. That we may never settle conclusively.

Consider: Particularly for many women of today when they stand before a mirror asking, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?”

Will the mirror answer back with: “Senora, you are the fairest one of all?”

According to Alfa Sambilay from Region 1 and one of those who answered yes in the survey, “the ritual of standing before a mirror to examine one’s self and, perhaps, camouflage imperfection, is a sticky point for women, something they need to do, in like manner that men itch for a good shave.”

Deborah Lamitan, from CAR, and keeps Ah guessing by just saying she’s in her 20’s (You Ah, don’t go asking age of a woman, anyway), explained in the survey that “yes, mirror, every woman carries one in her purse. Those who claim they don’t are liars.”

She also adds that when there is a melee, a fight or hair pulling, in the case of men, they tend to nurse their bruised ego; in the case of women, they tend to look for the mirror in the purses and look at their faces after a fight or hair pulling.

Consolacion Andrade, a housewife from Region 1 said about mirrors that, “It’s chore to be done every time one goes out of the house.”

It’s therefore unsurprising that we, the humans, want to look our best when seen from the eye of any beholder.

But Marcelino Castro, 64, from Region 1 said “mirrors are strange things; you keep looking at yourself, getting older and older, with each passing mirror.”

Now, here come along Augusto Lapitoc from CAR who whispers,” Ah, don’t you go trusting mirrors. They are deceitful, revealing only what your mind believes it sees.”

Wilfredo who is in his 80’s, gave a mouthful of his experience about a mirror.

He said if one stares into the mirror, it may seem time is going backwards, at least sometimes, because once in a while, time, too, likes to look at itself in the mirror as it passes itself by.

Looking in the mirror, staring back at me, isn’t so much a face as the expression of a predicament.

Because that week after the survey, Ah looked at himself and asked his mirror, “Do I look handsome?”

“You are a bit all right, old chap. A little bit going insane on the side, but otherwise all right. That neatly trimmed beard and good jacket all about you. Yes, old fellow, you are a bit of all right,” the mirror answered.

Ah threw out his chest, smoothed his hair for the umpteenth time and waved goodbye to the mirror. The mirror waved back.

When Ah’s back was turned, the mirror brought out its tongue and waggled it at Ah’s back, growling, “Handsome, my foot!”