Juan Tamad, the King

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Saturday, August 30, 2014


JUAN is jolted awake by his alarm clock. It has been ringing ding, dong, ding, dong for the past few minutes but his snores (and a killer hangover) have enveloped the sound with overwhelming volume. He swears, then scrambles toward the bathroom, pours cold, icy water all over his shivering body, swears, rubs soap on his sensitive parts, swears, towel-dries haphazardly, swears, and then puts on his uniform. He grabs a pan de sal from the table, swears, kisses Nanay with a bruising bump on the cheek, swears, makes a mad dash for the door, swears, and leaves for school.

When he arrives, he is thirty minutes late. Praying to the patron saint of late-comers for a miracle, he tiptoes toward his seat. J­ust when he thought he could get away with it (he sneaks a flirty wink at the pretty girl he likes), he doesn’t.

“You forgot to zipper your pants, Mahal na Hari,” Ma’am Teacher says.

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He replies, flashing her a grin, “Thank you, Ma’am.” (The “Ma’am” is emphasized with a prolonged “aah” sound because, of course, he would think it’s funny.) Suddenly, she adds, “You forgot something else, too.” Tired from his mad sprint for the classroom, he asks her, “What, Ma’am?”

“Your respect.”

Our country is faced with a threat far greater than the Ebola virus— if not remedied, the stereotypical Juan, the King, the effervescent darkness that shackles us into selfish hedonists, will cost us the future we aspire for ourselves and for our country. If not remedied, the epidemic may cost us the legacies of several hundred of heroes and martyrs who have paid with their lives to bring us out of colonization, out of stagnation, and out of ignorance. If not remedied, the Filipino youth will always be branded as walking cigarettes, talking tequila shots, and breathing condoms.

Blah, blah, blabbity blah, if you ask me.

Let Juan grow in his simple-expensive pleasures. Let him burn his parents’ money. Let him smile at the ashes. Give him liberty to cut his classes and beg in vain for passing marks. Allow him the freedom to retake major subjects or shift courses. Leave him to enjoy a cigarette and a beer outside the gates of the campus, along with several others, in peace.

Let his people wait for their King as he wastes their time. Let them wait for Juan Tamad to grow up and respect others besides himself. Leave him in his uselessness, his preference for mediocrity and naivety. Let him sin in the name of love and his genitals, to enjoy his pseudo-pedestal because he will only live once.

Do not judge him too harshly. After all, he will sink to the floor on his knees once midterm grades are released. Do not force-feed him a book; he is not an English major. Do not rain on his parade because he is not afraid to be drenched in the rain. He assumes he is indestructible, and he fears nothing and no one, not even pneumonia. He will look Ma’am (emphasized with a prolonged “aah” sound because isn’t it funny?) in the eye and spit his insolence in her face. He will get away with it, of course, because he is young and, of course, he will be pardoned.

But do not let Juan propagate his convoluted way of life and turn it into a culture. Let our love for country and for people be the pitchforks and torches as we hunt down the mad King. This is where we boycott his products, kill his soldiers, burn his Trojan horse. This is where we refuse to kiss his ass and zipper his pants. This is where we pour salt on the soil where he sows his seeds of indolence. Otherwise, the propagation of a Juan Tamad culture will be this country’s pseudo-genocide of the Filipino youth.

This is where we lead the revolution toward a better youth. This is where we overthrow groupthink and crown a new King. And may God save, not Juan Tamad, but the hope of the Motherland.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 30, 2014.

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