Amusement and Curiosity
Before anything else, this will probably be yet another of my sporadic entries. Maybe soon I can try to make it a habit to write about something meaningful at least weekly, but I’ve been really busy lately.
Anyway, earlier this afternoon my brother and I went to the UP oval to get some exercise. He was meeting with some friends for some football, while I wanted to get out of my running rut and actually score 5k again (I instead only got 2k). I also had my bokuto with me, so after I got tapped out I took it and went to the UP Lagoon to practice some swings.
Despite the mosquito infestation in the area, I was able to get some good exercise by standing on top of one of the stone tables (it gave me a good opportunity to practice my footwork). I would like to add at this point that I am entirely self-taught in kendo, and as such I am not good at it at all, and probably look quite silly doing it. Naturally, I got a lot of confused stares from the people passing by on the footpath.
I ignored them for the most part, and continued my routines. It wasn’t before long that a group of men passed by, gawking. After they had walked about 50 or so meters away, one yelled at the top of his voice: Battousai!
While I didn’t really find that offensive or anything, I got me thinking: Why’d he have to yell it when he was really far away? I pondered this as I did my forms.
Eventually, I had enough of the mosquitoes and decided to go ahead and meet my brother back in the sunken garden. I still wanted to continue my forms, however, so I resumed my strikes.
Now a group of children was sitting on the slope, watching me. They kept jeering and yelling at me, telling me that there weren’t any flies that way. I decided to validate my theory about the earlier Battousai jeering, so I began walking up to the group of boys.
The moment they saw I was walking toward them with my gaze locked and carrying a potentially deadly weapon in my hands, they seemed to begin to panic. When I got to them, however, I held out the bokuto hilt first and offered them a chance to try it out. At this point most of them tried to ignore me. One of them just said “Sir, I don’t know how,” and hurriedly got up and ran away. I said “Just try a few swings?” but the rest of them got up and left.
Some older teenagers beside them said something along the lines of “Heh, they were scared.” The older boys asked me about the weapon, and I explained that while it was a wooden training weapon (one of them recognized it as a kendo weapon), it was made of kamagong wood. Another guy nodded and said “Yeah, that can cleave someone’s skull.” I nodded to them and left, and resumed my routines, again pondering this.
Perhaps the teenagers were right: The boys were scared. That man was scared. Confronted with something unfamiliar, they decide to give in to fear and use it as a source of amusement, jeering pointlessly, instead of treating this other person as well, another person, and actually trying to learn something from him.
It’s precisely this attitude (among others) that I want to get chucked out of the Pinoy psyche. Instead of seeing other people as objects of amusement, can’t we just treat them as other people and learn from them? Maybe teach them what we know as well? Are we so scared of the strange that we’d rather jeer and mock at it instead of trying to learn from it?