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On rare occasions when Ah Kong has time to spare, he’d make a beeline to that little but very nice public park managed by the city government that’s fronting the buildings of Baguio City’s Post Office, cool his heels there for an hour or so while silently observing people traverse up and down Session Road.
That rare occasion happened last Sunday. As he sat chewing his nail to perdition, what struck Ah most that moment was the sudden proliferation of face masks magically plastered on the faces of many residents.
“Oh, the many faces behind a face mask,” Ah chuckled to himself. Who was it who said, “A mask tells us more than a face?”
For indeed, if we are to truly look behind it, a human face is, after all, nothing more, nor less a face mask. For behind that mask is a face, and behind that a story.
Ah grinned further knowing he holds a crazy notion that if he wears a mask for too long, there will come a time when he won’t be able to remove it without removing his ugly face.
While Ah realized too well the main reason behind why people started grabbing face masks and donning them, he likewise was tickled to the bone that while pharmacies made a killing by selling face masks like ice cream, the pharmacists or those minding the pharmacies never donned face masks at all.
How about that, and what’s the difference, eh? Ah holds this mercenary suspicion that mebbe, just mebbe, pharmacists hold something secret that residents do not know so they don’t use face masks, and as result, made residents scramble like mad to buy face masks?
That damn big C virus which started in China just happened to cause jitters among Cordillera and Region 1 residents. In a bid to protect themselves, everybody started to wear face masks.
In a matter of time, shelves emptied of face masks, lending frustration to those unable to buy as they flitted like butterflies from drugstore to drugstore in search of that elusive face mask.
But during those days when face masks sold as hot commodity, Ah noticed during his rounds around the city that the pharmacists in drugstores were up and about, smiling casually as they do with nary a face mask or worry on their faces.
During those rounds, he was accompanied by a friend, Arsenio Masilen, 58, BS in Accountancy by education but got prosperous by being a farmer by vocation, and also as suspicious as the devilish Ah.
Arsenio commented during those rounds, saying, “Ah, if a man sees a pretty pharmacist in a drugstore in crisis like this dang big C, such man is tempted to harbor suspicion that these pretty pharmacist gals have something in their sleeves that needs investigating, never mind if they have beautiful dimples on their cheeks and their smiles can launch a thousand lowlanders and highlanders to go a-wooing.”
“Korek ka diyan, Arsenio,” Ah quipped back and he swore to have the pharmacists investigated, with help, op kors, by the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) and the Cordillera regional National Bureau of Investigation (NBI-CAR).
As Ah sat there at Baguio Post Office Loop public park, he started counting people with face masks but got confused because, as he concentrated counting those going down Session Road, he got distracted by people with face masks going up Session Road.
He stopped counting and instead determined the color of the face masks. One thing stood out. Face masks worn by the residents were either blue or black.
Another thing also stood out. This big C has become a point of misery and unease among the highland and lowland populace in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Region 1 and all the rest of the regions in the country, as well.
This big C is indeed, a misery that loves company. It is even cancelling everything – except payment of bills.
It has shaken humans from boredom and suddenly, everybody in town was gabbing about coronavirus while others became instant experts on how to deal with it on how not to get infected, or what to do when infected.
Better these highlander and lowlander residents of Baguio because the big C has shaken them out of boredom, unlike Ah, who sat there at the Baguio Post Office Loop Park like a bore.
One resident, Andres Lumares, in his late 50’s, passing Session Road looked up the park saw Ah, pointed Ah to his companion besides him and shouted, “Look, there’s Ah there, sitting at the park. Look and see what an awful bore he is!” Then the resident gaily waved at Ah.
Ah remembered that Andres who gaily waved back at him was a former mathematical professor in one of city colleges in La Union but has also turned to farming.
An excellent mathematician who can mathematically mathematize mathematics in a mathematical mathematiculation. Being a mathematician, that resident can mathematize mathematics in a mathematical mathematiculation.
Unlike Ah who can’t even mathematically mathematize mathematics in a mathematical mathematiculation like that resident mathematician who mathematically mathematizes mathematics in a mathematical mathematiculation.
There was only one weakness that troubled Andres: his drinking that gets the ire of his Missus.
One day he revealed to Ah that he went to a Justice of the Peace who was his friend and complained, “Judge, Can I leave my wife at home for a while?”
Justice of the Peace asked Andres: “On what grounds?”
Andres: “She is out all night, every night, going from bar to bar.”
Justice of the Peace: “Are you saying she is an alcoholic or do you think she is cheating?”
Andres: “No, she is always looking for me!”
Ah smiled down at that mathematician who knew him, accepting the fact that he is, in fact, and not by theory, a member of a bore-ridden people. For bores are everywhere. At the Post Office Loop Park, at Session Road. Ten to one, sometimes, you find yourself sitting with a bore.
As the mathematician-friend (with a companion) who knew Ah passed him by, Ah’s thoughts got back to the big C and what it is doing to scare humanity. Aaah, humanity, humans. . .
And Ah’s thoughts raced: What is a human and what is he/she afraid of?
Then he got to the conclusion that human, originally dust, engendered in sin, brought forth with sorrow, helpless in infancy, extravagantly wild in youth, mad in manhood or womanhood, decrepit in age, their first voice move pity and their last command grief.
Nature clothes humans with hair, the birds with feathers, and the fishes with scales. But humans are born naked, their hands cannot handle, their feet cannot walk, their tongues cannot speak, nor their eyes see a right.
Simple are their thoughts, vain are their desires and toys, their delight. As they march towards age.
Age, that lessens life’s enjoyments, increases our desire for living. Those challenges, which in vigor of youth we had learned to face, assume an austere look as we grow old.
Our forethought increase as our years accrue, caution for things we do daily becomes a preponderate sentiment of our thoughts; and the waning remainder of life is carefully appreciated – for a continued existence.
And here comes the big C threatening our very existence.
Ay-yay-yay. So much for humans.