Is it all for show these days? | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

How much of what we do every day is done for the approval of others? What if no one were watching?

Would you still pick up a taong grasa who has fallen into a ditch at the risk of getting his grime all over yourself, or maybe just send someone to do the dirty work while you take the bows? Would that be your good deed for the day?

And if no one was there to pat you on the back, or at least say nice things about you, would you behave the same way? Or is it all for show?

At home or in the workplace, do we strut about like good and prayerful people, but are quick to curse and criticize when things don’t go well?

I found a message from a church in Honolulu the other day. I was drawn to it because I knew the preacher when he was a little boy and watched him try his talent on the guitar. Like his dad, he was very good. That was several years ago.

I was thrilled to find him online. There he was, all grown up, preaching about “hypocrisy.” I listened.

Simply put, hypocrisy is pretending to be good, putting on an act that makes you acceptable, in fact laudable, in other people’s eyes. It is to fake an attitude or a pose of goodness or holiness, just like a Pharisee.

After I got over the pleasant shock of seeing little Al at a pulpit, his words sank in and made perfect sense. And my mind brought up several familiar faces.

I thought about 2016, our choices, their chances. Again? Yes! Should we be concerned? Yes!

A friend chided me: “You seem to be holding your breath on this. Don’t. It’s bad for your health.” I promised to try. But I’m not sleeping very well.

Pet peeves

One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing streamers or posters that trumpet a contributor’s role in a project. Why is this so deeply ingrained in our run-of-the-mill Pinoy politico? Can you say epal?

Why are we such hogs when it comes to grabbing credit, but totally fall off the horizon when the call is to assume responsibility, be accountable or accept blame?

Instead, we are like stage performers, always “on,” forever conscious of an audience, real or imagined; thriving on adulation, longing for applause. We stop at nothing to see our name up in lights. We demand star billing. It does not matter if the way up is lined with the dead and hurting. Top banana at any cost!

Back in the day, when my mother did opera and zarzuela and the audiences cheered in loud appreciation, my father got upset at anyone in the family who gushed about how good she was.
“It is not nice to promote your own,” he said. “Let someone else do it, but not you. Be proud quietly and be grateful. Just say thank you.”

That little sermon has stayed over the years. And it, therefore, startles me when others happily toot their own horns. Self-serving accolades make me uncomfortable.

In the entertainment scene, even the very sensible can sometimes get carried away. It is difficult to remain a passive spectator. It is, after all, a business for show, and these trespasses are perhaps understandable and may even be necessary.

But I shudder to see how some unscrupulous handlers build up their young wards, making them look and sound older than their years, drumming up intrigues, dreaming up love teams just for what they call the kilig factor.

I worry about these boys and girls. What if these budding young stars start believing their own press releases? What will become of them when the luster does not stay? What is there for them to fall back on? Is there a Plan B?

All about fun

I just watched a video that asked people from three generations, ages 5 to 85: “What did you do for fun when you were little?”

It set me on flashback mode.

I played casa-casa, Ambo Ato, piko, sipa, jackstones and Old Maid.

On rainy evenings we played pumpungan, an indoor hide-and-seek game invented by a cousin. There were two teams. It involved stealth and surprise. The rules were strict. We had arguments. Sometimes grown-ups had to arbitrate.

I had a Shirley Temple doll. I loved her movies and whined when she was not on screen.

I read the Nancy Drew and Patty Fairfield book series.

Doña Lolita Cabarrus had a victory garden during the war. I learned to hoe, rake and plant. I learned to tell the good worms from the bad ones.

We went on treasure hunts looking for smooth rocks and weird insects. We caught grasshoppers.

We had picnics under mango trees in Alabang and captured fireflies in our handkerchiefs.

We sat in the dark and told ghost stories.

Oh, there’s so much more.

I could relate to the kind of fun the older folk described. But when the children spoke, I was deeply bothered.

They happily reported spending four to five hours a day at video games on their computers, phones or gadgets. All they need is a password. And the fun begins. Nonstop.

It is always fair weather when they play. There is no tracking of mud on the floor. No one brings in squirmy creatures. Nothing is real.

They wear earphones. It is very quiet. If you listen, you may hear the faint clicking of a keyboard. Nothing more.

Sounds good? Then why am I so sad?