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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why Smile When You Can Scowl


Somebody once said that us Filipinos’ default setting is a smile. I agree.
I actually have several friends whose instinctive response to being surprised is to smile. I don’t really know how that would work, like for example if one is surprised in a dark alley by a mugger. Could one smile one’s way out of that? I don’t think so. 

But smile when surprised they do; I’ve seen them do that hundreds of times. I—whose settings range from inscrutable (like a Shaolin monk in a kung fu movie who's just a suit away from being Superman) to downright scowling at no one in particular—am always surprised and mystified every time I see them smile at a stranger who approaches them for any particular reason.  

Stranger: Excuse me sir [we are also polite; we call everybody sir— or ma’am, as the case may be], what time is it?
Friend: (Smiling as if Scarlett Johansson had offered to have sex with him) Six po.
 
Why would they do that, why would they smile at total strangers? Strangers can do a lot of nasty things to you, didn’t they know that? You’d think we live in a world where the characters are from Disney movies, and the bad guys were somehow left out. 

The world is an unfriendly place, people! 
Just look at these two!
Take those people who use commuter trains. They’d crowd the train doors so that those who are trying to get off would have to fight his or her way out of the train. You have to push and shove and make like a fullback charging the goal line.
I don’t think those people standing in front of train doors will part and make way for you if you smile at them. You’d just look stupid. 
And you’re lucky if you manage to get off the train with your wallet or your cell phone still in your possession. Commuter trains are haven for thieves. Also, ask the women who regularly ride these trains about their experiences here, and they’d most probably have very low opinions of their male co-passengers. 

I can think of a thousand reasons for us Pinoys to be angry about, to be scared of, to worry, and other concerns where smiling is not appropriate.  Yet we still manage to always smile, even after a devastating typhoon; heck, we don’t need a reason to smile.
Fuck you, reason to smile! We don’t need you. 
We really don't, do you hear me, huh? HUH?
That, or our reason to smile is different from the rest of the world’s.

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