Cavorting with Danger
I grew up in a shielded environment. I was in a bubble during my formative years and onwards up to the time I finished my college. Not even insects and dirt can ruin my day. Life for me was normal, devoid of struggle, peaceful and tranquil. I was never even bothered when there were problems, sickness and death in my surroundings. Our family served as my barometer. When they were happy, and they really are, nothing to me mattered. My world was where my family is.
My mother would see to it that there would be no trouble that could approach my way. My father on the other hand would work terribly hard so that no one in his family would experience dearth and penury.
When I was about to express my preference on what to do with my future, I consulted mother. She said that father was the better person to seek advice. And so I approached my father and confessed, “Tatay, I wanted to be a priest.”
My father was silent and then he said, “If you want to be a King someday, you must have a family first.”
Then I suggested, “Well, on second thought, I am more inclined towards the Arts Tatay, is it okay for me to be an artist instead?”
He quickly responded, “You will forever be dependent, no way. Choose something that will make your future stable.”
“Then, maybe joining the Armed Forces will be a better choice for me. I love to be a soldier. Someday, I will become an officer and I will be surrounded by loyal people and of course, the perks of the rank.”
“You will die young unless you choose to hide most of the time. Warriors cavort with danger. And while you may be trained to assault your enemy, just the same, if you live by the sword, you will likewise perish by it.”
“Okay, what then will I take as a course?”
“Stay at the sideline, get a college diploma and enter government. Just like me, living with less stress and less controversy. Be normal like anyone. Follow the rules. Do not be exceptional. I’ve have known a lot of people and listened intently on what they have to say. Those who are higher among them are lonelier. But of course those at the bottom are the loneliest. Strive to be in the middle because you only have to feel lonely if you watch a movie with a sad theme.”
Years later, when I was on my own, I have to confront the demons of reality. I chose the course my father wanted me, a college education. I majored in Psychology. But before I left college, I was conscripted into the military. I was given a training and exposure in the Armed Forces as a Ranger. (It was actually incidental. That was the early 70s when the youth were sporting long hair. I was one of them. Those males with long hair were arrested by the military and sent to the barbershop for crew cut. That was cruelty and monstrous during that time. The military that accosted my friends and me when we were caught with shoulder length hair, suggested that if we want our crown of glory preserved, we should join the military ranger. Well, we did. And our recruiter was correct. In Ranger, one can grow his hair any length provided that he can survive the training. The trainees were exposed to survive jumping from an elevated flank as in landing from a parachute jump; Staying under water using the stalk of papaya leaves as breathing apparatus; using any available material within reach and transforming it into a lethal weapon; and, using the body as arsenal to defeat the enemy. After undergoing and getting my commission, I felt that I was already a killing machine. But of course, I was never bothered since then. What more could I ask for :I had a good martial arts orientation and a bushy curly hair to boot.)
When I graduated, I entered the State University and buried myself in the library and read almost all the books pertaining philosophy. And I mean all. That way, I would have known the preparation and intellectual mold of a priest even without undergoing seminary education. I was still discontented because I wanted to be on the creative side of life as in Arts. I have to hide from father whenever I would scribble and sketch. I have to read Art books in the dead of night. I was a philosopher by day and a nerd at night.
Despite such preparation, I was never near any productive employment. Seeking for a job was struggle. I could not see myself as dependent to my parents. They were already getting old and I was supposed to sustain them. But there I was still unemployed. I applied in government and in the private sector. A private firm hired me first in marketing. For a while, I was earning for my upkeep but just the same, it was not sufficient to sustain a family. Given the basic remuneration, I would never end up as a King.
Then government service took me. It was even worse. I have to subsist on the minimum wage. Gone were those marketing days when on top of the monthly pay there was the commission and other allowances. In government, it was just salary and nothing follows. But what it lacked, it compensated on recognition. I got stuck.
I was in the prison service and during those times it was like being left in the middle of a war zone. The time was perilous. I was virtually cavorting with danger. Preserving my sanity, I founded a family and struggled along the fringes, subsisting along the borderline just an inch above the poverty line.
I was one of those ordinary guys in our town. I was off for work daily on a stretch of 8 hours and back. Saturdays and Sundays were a period for household chores. It was a schedule marked with routine, complacency and relaxation. I was an ordinary government functionary, a regular guy in the neighborhood and occasionally, a bubbling visitor to my parents. I had my days of youthful adventure, military foray, intellectual excursions and artistic exploits behind me. I had accepted my fate and was contented to be a mere appendage of a family tree.
Until one day, my mother would die violently in the hands of criminals. I can live with the departure of loved ones snatched by ailments or accidents but never on the hands of treachery. From that day on, I pledged to take my revenge.
From that day on, I devoted my life to be on harm’s way, to court from one end where there is danger up until I would meet another. The only peace I would accept is when it used in the phrase “rest in peace.”
And so I pray, “Our Father, deliver me from evil. Amen.”