Inequality of equals

By Jing Villamil

WE were born equal, “pantay-pantay”. Ahhh, how can one be so sure of that? We, definitely, were . . . not.

The Child was born in a manger, the Mother pushing Him out hard, no midwife in sight; and the surrogate Father himself ushering Him forth. The most holy of births. And it had to be in one of the worst possible unsanitary conditions! The Three Kings were reported to be coming with their gifts; that would hopefully ease things a bit, to buy more swads for diapers and blankets and thicker wall/window covers against the wind, the sun and the sand. But spies and soldiers were also not too far behind. And the wise men living up to their reputation of being wise, must have had taken their sweet time to confuse the uninvited, pointing out tourist attractions along the way: “Who said we are rushing to see the King of Kings? We are just angling, ambling along!”

Still, there are even worst birthing scenes. Laboring, giving birth while in transit – the aching big tummy serving as “salbabida” to keep afloat while aboard a ferry threatening to sink off the Visayan coasts; cramped inside a tricycle with a panicky driver at the helm; at the backseat of a taxi rushing in breakneck speed through unmoving EDSA traffic; immodest legs splayed wide on a bus seat with the conductor for a doctor, fingers darkly smudged from ticketing and heaving sacks and bags of rice and “gulay”!

Or back against a tree trunk for “bwelo sa pag-iri”, along a rugged mountain trail. Alone but at home in nature’s wilds. Or alone, penniless, husbandless, in the wilderness that is the city of man.

I have seen women pull out their own babies on their own. One most clear and hounding was this migrant from Mindanao. She sat on her haunches like a “labandera” before her “batya”. She scrunched tight her eyes, clenched her jaws, put both hands between her legs, and busily knowingly worked the baby’s head and whole body out of her. Then and only then did she opened her eyes, looked up and about for help, bloody baby cupped in both hands.

In contrast, the best smoothest deliveries that enough savings and planning can buy – painless procedures, private rooms, nurseries, postcard-pretty mommies shielding with snowy-white nappies their milking babies. Flowers, fruit baskets, gift-wrapped baby things, families and visitors in and out. Picture picture all the while.

A big percentage of babies are long-awaited, wanted, expected, loved from the very start of their tiny lives, warmly welcomed, adored, marveled at as the miracles they really are.

On the other hand, a sadly undocumented number of their counterparts are forcibly flushed out as aborted fetuses before they get the faintest of a fighting chance for life. And there are those who are better off not to have been born at all – to have to live a life of rejection, abuse, hunger and other deprivations.

The inequalities of equals is more the equalities of inequalities. You look at yourself, you look about where you are now.

If not for a quirk of fate . . . you would not be here but there where you would rather be. Or there where you would rather not be.

I wish you the Best of this New Year!

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