It is not everyday that one meets a real gangster. But for me it is almost a daily fare. They live and die in front of me. They are there seeking audience, asking for a few moments to express their joys and fears, beliefs and disbeliefs, concerns and wishes. In front of them, I feel like Marlon Brando on one hand, and Tia Dely (or Oprah Winfrey, if you may) on the other hand.
Listening to them is surreal. Like watching a fiction film or reading a Tom Clancy novel. And one cannot even discount their characterization of events because the courts used those incidents in promulgating conviction. That is right, the gangster I am always confronted with as certain as day break are the prisoners at the top of the totem pole of gangs in the prison community. And they are not the common felon one ordinarily would navigate the prison camp.
Ordinary inmates are quick to deny and express lamentation on the offense imputed to them. They still subscribe to their plea of not guilty. Even in prison, they still believe on their innocence and would insist on the world on such stand notwithstanding evidences, testimonies and facts. They believe their lawyers even if they failed them.
Gangsters are a class of its own. They never lament on anything even on the fate that befell them. While they never rejoiced the state on which they find themselves, it is for them not an occasion for brooding. As a matter of fact, they never even are ashamed of their cases. Their confidence level is so high that one can only appreciate raw intelligence these beings must have been gifted.
The more respected a gangster in prison is, the more mysterious one finds his background. One wonders where he gets the advantage. He is never even educated at all! The height of his position in the gang hierarchy could not even be attributed to his credentials. The higher his post, the lower his educational attainment. Those at the top do not even know how to read! Education is never a factor if one intends to be a Godfather.
Robert Kiyosaki author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad was correct all along. It is not education that makes a man rich or successful. It is attitude that makes him so. BIR Commissioner Kim Henares even expressed sadness when she declared that 90% of professionals, the educated class, have cheated in the payment of their taxes. Education for some is even a barnacle for creativity and in the attainment of success, although generally speaking education as a whole makes a nation matured and stable.
Education however is never a requirement for genius. But for the rest of us ordinary mortals it is a must.
The gangster is a complete person. Hardships and difficulties are never a part of his armaments. He can start at the bottom, feel at home in hell even and could easily blend with those at the top and can even rule easily from there. They are persuasive not in the pastoral sense. Although he can convince those around him without difficulty, he would never insist, would never even force his thoughts, but would find his environment turning green in his favor. Ordinary wise guys gravitate to him like black sand to a magnet, like flies to a shit.
My day is complete warming up on stories made up by gangsters. And this experience is a daily fare for me.
In the underworld, a denizen is called a wise guy. In the prison community, he is referred to as “gurang” ( from the vernacular “magulang” or one who is wise to the ways of the world). Both are street smart, clever and shrewd, as a matter of fact, they believe that they are even better than the others. They may be living in the shadows like the Mafiosi or serving time in prison but they are never seen, nor they never even felt that they were victims at all. In fact, they know all along that they are on top of the food chain and usually referred to as offenders.
One never would dare cross or double cross them. They can just pull anything lethal and out goes the fatal decision. They are at times issuing offers one cannot refuse. Deal with them with honesty and truthfulness and they would respond with equal zeal and commitment. Deal with them with a hidden agenda, they would immediately know and one becomes a prey several times over. Their vulnerability actually is their strength. Force them to do something, they would return it with force one cannot imagine or understand. Better not to indulge them at all unless one is practicing a profession where there is no recourse but interact and transact with them. Nonetheless, they would even create a distance although their overt actions project proximity. If they see someone as a threat, the closer they become. Be sincere from thereon therefore.
A wise guy or an ex con (for that matter) is an extraordinary specie, which is elusive, almost cryptic. They are shy by orientation. They are never at the forefront, always preferring to stay in the background. They are even at ease when treated as inferior. You can even ignore them. One never hears them complain unless they intend to make one over another. They would surely disappear as soon as they get whatever they intend to receive. But they do not appreciate anything enforced. They would not even appropriate overtly. They would rather fool a person subtly than force him to do the bidding. And most likely, they can fool around because a person less smart is always presumed as gullible. Try to overcome them, they would just rebound to overwhelm anyone further down the gutter. Better understand them from a distance therefore.
Their language is never to be understood through their spoken expression at all. It comprises phrases full of invectives and vituperations. It is only an approach though to misdirect anyone trying to get into their system. Like government, they communicate through the language of violence. Hence, they are respected even by the most radical elements of society. They are seen as a separate entity with its own culture, norm and laws.
If they want anything, they merely get it. But it is not a simple matter that they really want. They abhor triviality. Relationship is nothing to them. They are never bothered with emotions. Anything sentimental is alien to them. They have buried the act of loving along with their dead comrades. They hate affection. They only want something grand. They hit hardest if the price is right; and, the price actually must be astronomical and not some fledging loose change.
Their sense of family is strictly exclusive. Anyone outside of the family is already considered a threat, a casualty, a collateral damage. Anyone who tries to relate and find a liaison with them is playing a lethal game. No one escapes from them to expose whatever it is that bound them. They basically are a different class, a weird category sufficiently contented on their own.
Yet they exist in our midst. They are there in every corner. They are a common fixture in every bend. They are real more than imagined. For every heinous crime, there is one behind it. For every high crime obligated, for every chaos created, they knew it would happen beforehand. They normally call Hell as home. Not that they are never afraid to die, they are actually even more interested on death. Not that they would prefer death but that they already know how it is to live; something which is a notch higher in their consciousness compared with others.
Beware therefore. With them everywhere, it is dangerous to get into their sphere and fool around.