By Virginia Jasmin Pasalo
THIS morning, after I finished my routine exercise and looking at the stars, someone knocked on my door.
“Sino po kayo?” (Who are you?)
“Kasambahay po ni Ma’am Loida.” (The housekeeper of Ma’am Loida.)
In Philippine culture, “Tao po!” is an announcement that someone is at the door or calling attention. Literally, it means, “I am human!”. In English, people normally say, “Knock, knock!” instead of saying that a person has arrived.
There are many nuances to this expression. It presupposes that the person knocking on the door is a human being, who will conduct himself as a person, and not a beast. A person saying, “Tao po!” is therefore expected to behave like a human being (magpakatao), showing courtesy and acceptable behavior upon being allowed entry to the house. A knock, or a “Knock, knock!” is impersonal, and does not carry any implicit behavioral conduct.
Pagkatao, or the state of being human carries so many other nuances, aside from good manners and right conduct. It means having consideration and empathy with other human beings. It means treating others as you would like to be treated, especially with people with whom one exercises authority and power over.
When we ask for specific engagements, and cooperation is granted, pagpapakatao (the act of being human) is imperative. It means that you were welcomed with all that was implicit in a human being, treated with dignity, respect and trust.
Often, when people are riding high or when they are experiencing a predicament, they forget to care about the feelings of others. They are more concerned with their own situation and forget that they have dragged others into their own personal space. They expect human beings they have asked favors from, to stop the creation of something they asked to do, through staccato orders, devoid of empathy and reason, totally different from the eagerness and urgency with which they were approached for the favors.
It does not cost much to be human. Even under the environment of rapid and systemic dehumanizing experience prevalent today, one can always count on a flicker of light that exists somewhere in the thalamus.
Find me love
you will not find love
in your heart
the heart is not
in the heart
search the thalamus.
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