Damn. I've been stuck mostly at home recently because of diarrhea. Little did I know that all this turmoil within me would spark the slightest college nostalgia. Below are pieces on "shit" that I wrote when I was a junior. I was casually browsing through some old documents yesterday, hoping that I could free Pacquito of his vintage trash and make way for better memory. Needless to say, with my overtly sentimental nature (I have kept all empty perfume bottles I used up over the years and a confidential notebook of all my personal purchases since freshman year--some of which are accompanied by receipts O.o), I only saved these vintage files in one folder (not one deleted *sighs*). Heck, if I were a psycho serial killer, I'd probably kept one body part from each victim hidden somewhere in my room.
The primary piece was performed by me, Gilyanne Blancaflor, and Nikki Simbre in Chamber Theatre under Dr. Belen Calingacion. We actually staged it in the girls' restroom in the "CAL (not so) New Building" on the fourth floor (if memory serves me right). We had to write then Dean Almario a letter to reserve the C.R. But we still held the restroom open for public usage (girls could pee and watch, if they wanted, along with the entire co-ed class). Eventually, a semester or two later, I heard from friends and fellow majors that Dr. Calingacion would refer to our banyo gig as "a good example" of the performance arts in her lectures in the same course. Grool (Great + Cool). Well, of course, the credit's not all ours. It all started with brilliant material from a certain Mr. Sherman Nones.
Kung Ano ang Inilalabas Mo sa Kubeta ni Sherman C. Nones
First set of characters:
Nikki - N1-Narrator 1
Lara - N2-Narrator 2 (Bida’s feelings and some actions)
Lyanne - B-Bida
Second set of characters:
Narrator na lahat
N1, N2, B
Third set of characters:
N1-Narrator 1 (for tagalog vandals)
N2-Narrator 2 (for english vandals)
B-Bida (describing who or what kind of person wrote the vandal)
Fourth set of characters:
Same with first part
Another guy- either N1 or N2
N1: Maling kombinasyon ang kinain ng ating bida, ginataang saging at hilaw na mangga. Ang lalong masama, nasa paaralan na siya nang magsimulang magrebolusyon ang kanyang tiyan.
N2: Nanginginig, namumutla, at nanlalamig siya. Hindi na rin makausap ng matino. Tila tinalukbungan na ng langit ang lupa para sa kanya.
N1: Bago magtanghali, hindi na nakayanan ng ating bida.
B: Binitbit niya ang kanyang sandatang pandigma (tissue paper at sabon) at tumakbong simbilis ng mga mandurukot sa Quiapo papunta sa kubeta ng ikalawang palapag ng library.
N2: Sa cubicle niya pinasabog ang nagngangalit at dambuhalang bomba atomikang maka-isandaang beses ang lakas kaysa roon sa Hiroshima at Nagasaki.
N1: Matapos ng matinding labanan, nakaranas ng mala-paraisong kalagayan ang ating bida.
N2: Habang nakaupo pa sa maharlikang trono, isinagawa niya ang kanyang paboritong ritwal. Isa-isa niyang binasa ang mga bandalismong nakasulat sa pader at pinto ng cubicle, kahit ilang beses na niyang naulit ang mga ito
B: (baka nga naman may bagong dagdag sa mga nakalagay doon).
N2: Nagmukha siyang masisiraan ng bait dahil tumatawa siyang mag-isa. (Lyanne laughs) Lalong napalakas ang tawa ng ating bida nang mabasa niya ang dalawang vandals na mistulang ipinatatama sa kanyang kalagayan. (Lyanne laughs harder)
N1: Ano ba iyon?
N2: Vandal no.1-
B: Teka pare, pang-handicapped yata ang cubicle na ito, pero kung baog ka okey lang.
N1: Vandal no.2-
B: Hoy! Bawal tumae rito!
N2: Aba, hindi papayag na malamangan ang ating bida, kailangan niyang makabawi kahit papaano.
N1: Napakagandang puwesto ang cubicle na ito para sa kanyang binabalak.
N2: Inikot-ikot niya ang dalang pentel pen habang iniisip kung ano ang puwedeng maisagot sa dalawang vandals na tumira sa kanya. Ipamamalas niya ang bagsik ng kanyang isip, talino, at lakas.
B: Makikita ng mga tao ang tatak ng isang api. Humanda sila.
B: Sino ba sa inyo ang hindi naaaliw sa pagbabasa at pagsusulat ng mga bandalismo sa kubeta? Bukod sa mga mahal nating tagapaglinis ng banyo, sa palagay ko, kakaunti lang. Kung pangalan mo ang nakasulat at ikaw ang binastos, malamang na hindi ka nga matutuwa. Sa kabilang dako, tuwang-tuwa ang karamihan sa atin habang binabasa ang mga malikhaing sulating ito. Naaaliw ka sa pagbabasa ng tabloid, di ba? Sa katulad na paraan din naman tayo nasisiyahan sa pagbabasa (at pagsulat siyempre) ng mga bandalismo sa kubeta.. Nasisiyahan ka dahil nauunawaan mo ang mensaheng gusting ipahatid sa iyo. Wika nga,
N1 and N2: you can relate yourself to it.
B: Kapag pumapasok ka sa cubicle ng banyo, sigurado akong hindi mo halos maiwasang basahin ang mga nakasulat doon. Aminin mo man o hindi, interesado ka ring mabasa at malaman ang mga ito. Habang binabasa, para kang ulol na tumatawang mag-isa, kahit na alam mong hindi naman totoo ang lahat ng sinasabi roon. Bakit? Naaangkop at nababagay kasi sa ating kalagayan
N1 and N2: (bilang kabataan at mag-aaral)
B: ang mga paksa at temang tinatalakay ng mga bandalismong iyon. Mawawalan ka ng gana kung ang mga nakasulat doon ay tungkol kay Atang Dela Rama at sa kanyang sarsuwela; kung nakapustiso ba si Manuel Quezon; kung ilan ang kalyo sa paa ni Apolinario Mabini; kung marami bang dumi ang bigas na kinakain ng mga Pilipino noong nakaraang dalawang siglo; kung ano ang paboritong alagang hayop ng mga Tasaday at Igorot, at marami pang natutulad na mga paksa na walang kinalaman sa interes at buhay nating mga estudyante. Hindi patok sa atin ang ganitong uri ng bandalismo. Dapat nasa antas ng ating pag-iisip, at kailangang nasa kausuhan din.
N1: Bukod sa pagiging nababagay sa atin ng mga bandalismo, isang paraan din ito upang mailarawan kung sino at ano ba tayo. Huwag mong maliitin dahil sa pamamagitan ng bandalismo sa banyo, ipinahahayag nito ang mga ideya at konseptong nakapaloob sa komunidad na ating ginagalawan. Masusulyapan mo kahit kaunti kung anong uri ng mga tao ang naririto at kung anong mga bagay ang kanilang pinaniniwalaan. Nariyan din ang hanaing, sama ng loob, at suliranin ng mga mag-aaral, at iba pang nakapupukaw-interes na mga paksa. Ito ang natatagong tinig ng mga estudyante sa paaralan, ngunit napakalakas ng hiyaw nito. Sumakatuwid, isang uri ng labasan ang mga bandalismo.
N2: Upang masapatan ang timbang na emosyonal na pangangailangan, inilalabas nito ang masasalimuot at natatagong paniniwala nating mga mag-aaral. Nagsisilbing susi ang bandalismo upang mabuksan at maisiwalat ang nilalaman ng pinakapribadong silid ng isang indibiduwal. Kasama na rito ang lahat ng madidilim na ideya at konseptong hindi maaaring pag-usapan sa loob ng ating komunidad. Totoo ito lalo na sa ating paaralang patuloy na nagbabawal sa ganitong uri ng mga paksa. Samakatuwid, magagawa ng isang mag-aaral ang pagsisiwalat na iyan sa isang lugar kung saan ang kanyang sarili lamang at walang iba, ang makapagmamasid at makasasaksi sa napakahalagang pangyayaring iyon. Oo, sa loob lamang ng kubeta maisasakatuparan ang paghahayag sa pamamagitan ng bandalismo. Kaya hindi ka magtataka kung bakit mabigat, malalim, mapanira, mapanlait, mapang-api, bastos, at makahayop ang mga nakasulat sa pader at pintuan ng banyo- nanggagaling kasi iyon sa pinakaloob-looban ng isang tao.
B: Handa ka na bang buksan ang sarili at basahing muli ang mga ito? Kung isa kang taong mapagmasid, mapapansin mo ang sari-saring kategorya ng bandalismo sa mga kubeta dito sa ating kolehiyo.
All: Narito ang ilan sa kanila:
N1: [Paunawa: Kinuha ang mga bandalismong ito sa mga kubeta ng lalaki at babae dito sa kampus ng kolehiyo. Ang ilan dito ay hindi na makikita pa sa dahilang nabura na ito ng masisipag na mga dyanitor. Kailangan ang patnubay ng mga magulang habang binabasa. Pakisuyong buksang maigi ang isipan.]
B: GUSTO NG PAG-IBIG:
N2: Make love not war
B: DESPERADO SA PAG-IBIG:
N1: Crush na crush ko si A.P.
N2: KP loves CB
B: BAWAL NA PAG-IBIG:
N2: For manly love, be here at 9:00 a.m. Sept. 15
B: SINAGOT ANG PAANYAYA NG BAWAL NA PAG-IBIG:
N1: Ang sarap, next time uli
B: PAGTATAKA SA BAKLA:
N1: Ang suwerte natin sa Ateneo, kay dami-raming superbabes-chicks. Tanong ko, bat may nagiging bakla pa tulad ni ___________? (hanapin ang pangalan sa 2nd floor ng libraray)
B: KAILANGAN NG BAKLA:
N2: With him whose dick is large, gays are satisfied
B: KAMATAYAN PARA SA BAKLA:
N2: The remedy for gays who have no more remedy is death
B: TAKOT SA BAKLA:
N2: When I die please don’t bury me upside down for gays will fuck my dead ass
B: USAPAN LABAN SA BAKLA:
N2: Don’t have sex with yourself. But if you really want, bring someone along, preferably not gay.
N1: A guy? Bading ka talaga!
B: PINAG-USAPAN ANG BINABALAK:
N2: I want to take yout throbbing dick into my mouth.
N1: Sana ako rin!
N2: Sure, just name the time and place
N1: CR at Faura, 6:30 Wednesday
B: PUSTAHAN AT USAPAN:
N1: Pustahan tayo hawak mo titi mo ngayon
N2: Hindi, hawak ko puwet ko
N1: Hawak ko titi ng iba, gago!
N2: Bakla ka pala!
B: GALIT SA PAARALAN:
N2: School sucks
B: GALIT SA KARIBAL NA PAARALAN:
N1: DLSU- paaralan ng mga bobo’t tanga
B: GALIT SA MGA FRESHMEN:
N2: Freshmen have bad grammar
B: GALIT SA LAHAT NG TAO:
N2: You’re all assholes
B: GALIT SA LAHAT NG TAO (BERSIYONG PINOY):
N1: Pak yu ashul
B: GALIT SA GURO AT PARI:
(kayo na lang ang maghanap dahil marami dyan)
B: PINAGBINTANGAN ANG SARILI:
N2: I killed Versace
B: PINAGBINTANGAN ANG BABAE:
N2: She took my sperm without permission
B: PINAGBINTANGAN ANG LOLO:
N1: Lolo mo baog
N1: Pangit ako, mas pangit ang bumasa
B: MAHILIG MANOOD:
N2: A squatter who enjoys watching them while ja**ing off
B: GUWAPO AT PINAKAMAGANDANG PUWET:
N1: _____________ is fucking guwapo
N2: ___________ has the best ass in town
(isang tao lang iyan, hanapin ang pangalan sa 2nd floor ng library)
B: ISA ULING GUWAPO:
N1: Ang cute ni ___________.. does he have a GF?
B: KUNG NAGING BABAE RAW ANG GUWAPO:
N2: If he was a girl, he’d be a bitch
N2: Lesbians masturbate here
N2: I’ll eat your pussy
N1: Puke mo mabango
N1: Ang babaho ng titi ninyo!
N1: Ang sarap magpa “BJ”… Buko Juice
N2: You’re all fucking assholes!
N1: Not me, I’m a fucking pussy!
N2: Fuck yourself!
B: PAREHONG AMOY:
N1: Puke ni _________ amoy bagoong!
N2: We are having a survey on virgins and non-virgins. If you care to answer or fill out this table, please do
B: (may listahan at table pang kasama; tingnan sa 2nd floor ng library
N2: The time comes when the three shall come, the worlds will collide and darkness will reign forever
B: PANANAKOT SA MGA NAGSUSULAT:
N2: Vandalism leads to suspension
B: PANANAKOT SA LALAKI:
N1: Habang umiihi ka’t binabasa mo ito, alam ko kung ano ang hinahawakan mo
N1: Kawawa ka naman hanggang sulat at jakol ka na lang, tsk, tsk, tsk
N2: Life is a paradox, happiness cannot exist without misery
B: NALULUNGKOT AT NAKAKAAWA:
N2: In this cubicle I will kill myself, sabi sa akin I won’t solve anything daw, but what I have solved to begin with?
N2: I’m such a fuck-up, a lousy excuse for a human
B: NAKAKAAWA (BERSIYONG NG MGA MAKATA):
N2: Here I sit, broken-hearted, tried to shit but only farted
N2: Everybody, we’re not losers, don’t ever think that, we’re just late bloomers
B: NAGPAPAYO TUNGKOL SA MATH
N2: Don’t give math midterms an opportunity to kill you, commit suicide now
B: NAGPAPAYO TUNGKOL SA PAG-UTOT:
N2: It is better to fart and feel the shame than not to fart and feel the pain
B: NAGPAPAYO SA MGA NAKAUPO SA INIDORO:
N2: If you’re sitting there right now, please aim well and shoot it!
B: NAGDUDUDA KAY BABAE:
N1: ______, totoo ba ang dyoging mo?
B: HUMIHILING KAY BABAE:
N1: ______, pakantot, libog na libog na ako sa iyo
(iisang babae lang ang tinutukoy ng dalawang ito; mahahanap ang pangalan sa 2nd floor ng library)
N2: I fucked ______ in the ass
B: NILAIT ANG NAGYAYABANG:
N1: Tanga ka hanggang puwet ka lang, ako puke niya kinantot ko
N2: Do you want to be sucked?
B: NAGTATANONG (BERSIYON NG MGA BANAL):
N1: Brod, ba’t ang baboy mo mag-isip tungkol sa babae?
B: NAGTATANONG KUNG BABAE:
N1: Babae ba siya? May dodo ba siya? Suso meron?
B: NAGTATANONG TUNGKOL SA BIOLOGY:
N2: Do you know that the average length of the great human penis is 5-7 inches?
B: ININSULTO ANG NAGTATANONG TUNGKOL SA BIOLOGY:
N1: Kawawa naman sa iyo, kulang
B: LUBOS NA NAGPAPASALAMAT:
N2: Thank God, for once that I’m an average person
B: HATOL SA MGA NAGBABASA AT NAGSUSULAT:
N2: Those who wrote on bathroom walls turn their shit into tiny balls, those who read these words of wit eat those tiny balls of shit
B: PARA SA LAHAT NG NAGBABASA NG ARTIKULONG ITO: Memories they fade like the writing on this wall, but you are more than a memory, I won’t forget you all.
N2: Tumayo ang ating bida (siyempre naghugas muna siya). Nakaisip na siya ng maisusulat bilang ganti sa bandalismong nang-insulto kuno sa kanya.
N1: Mas maganda siguro kung sa pinto niya isulat, para makita agad ng taong papasok sa cubicle.
N2: Kinuha niya ang pentel pen at isinulat:
N1: Vandal no.3-
B: Kapag pumasok ka sa cubicle na ito, inaamin mong pangit at baog ka tulad ng mga nagsulat sa loob.
N2: Vandal no.4-
B: Bigo ka ba sa mga babae? Bakit hindi subukang umibig sa lalaki? Hintayin mo ako tuwing alas-singko ng hapon. Malalasap mo ang sarap ng kakaibang uri ng pag-ibig..
N2: Nagsusuklay at nagpapaguwapo na ang ating bida nang biglang may pumasok. Papasok dapat ito sa cubicle na pinanggalingan ng bida. Nakita nito ang nakasulat sa pinto. Medyo nagulat pero napangiti ito. Hindi na ito tumuloy sa cubicle na iyon. Baka natakot. Kinabahan siguro.
N1: Pinipigilan niya ang kanyang tawa habang tinitingnan ang reaksiyon ng bagong pasok. Paglabas niya sa kubeta, (suggestion: tatawa na lang siguro siya rito para mas effective) Ang sarap at gaan ng kanyang pakiramdam. Tagumpay na naman ang ating bida.
Concept Paper on the Staging of Kung Ano ang Inilalabas mo sa Kubeta by Sherman C. Nones:
In the John
Kung Ano ang Inilalabas mo sa Kubeta—the very title speaks of anything but literary romanticization. It is unguarded, unadorned, and quite vulgar, as a wide open hamper of dirty laundry, worn shirts and thrice-worn (and maybe even more) jeans and used underwear included. Of course, if one were to find things other than beauty, propriety, and sanitation to be delicate matters, one’s initial reaction would be something along the lines of “Eww!” or “What the—!” or a plain meeting of the eyebrows and an entire face of mixed questions and revulsion.
This piece by Sherman C. Nones here, I believe, is one of those stories that somehow aim to make some literary sense and even an artistic expression of what is often unspoken (especially at the dinner table) by presenting the rawness of such realities, free of feathers and fuss and all that jazz. Stories like The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler, Penis Talks by Ricky Lee, and even MacArthur by Bob Ong all demonstrate that certain openness that requires not only skill but a lot of guts and a deep understanding of the ugliness of reality, of the Jekyll of Mr. Hyde, of the monster of Dr. Frankenstein. “And why must they still possess some skills if all they have are potty mouths?” one may ask. Not everything on paper that mirrors life may be considered literature, even moreso “good literature.” Right now, I can only think of tasteless showbiz columns by the likes of Lolit Solis and Bulgar news updates on the latest unknown sexy starlet as examples of this exclusion. The realism found in the aforementioned “genuine” pieces of literature, on the other hand, conveys truths that may disgust, amaze, and present the reader with that mocking, in-your-face kind of defamiliarization but still without sounding like a spattering, dirty mouth on the streets—well, unless that is part of the author’s intention.
And so, why limit Kung Ano ang Inilalabas to the romantic and detached presence of the stage, of a raised platform that floats over an audience on which scenes may range from a dexterous rendering of swordfights or a conversation between lovers by a terrace? Why not go all the way and bring it to where it really belongs, that is, in the john? I envision the chamber theatre adaptation of this text to take place in an actual public restroom where the performers may be able to take advantage of the setting more and, of course, where the audience will be given a fresh kind of literary as well as “theatrical” experience. I am well aware that this is not the first time such a feat will be accomplished as Dr. Calingacion has already recounted the same staging technique that her students employed several semesters ago. However, I cannot imagine a more suitable place for this text, not because I lack imagination (for I’d like to believe that I have enough to supply me with for my obsession other than talking: writing) but because I prefer to obliterate that wall that sort of separates the performance from the audience just so they can “feel” and relate to the scene even more effectively. Quite frankly, I also like the idea of the added entertainment of such quirks and foibles that only the performance arts can let one get away with. And what better place could it be than a real, “hardcore” palikuran? A one-act, one-run play in the public C. R. is really not something that people may encounter every day.
Regarding the characters, I do not think that it hurts the slightest bit for this piece to be enacted by an all-female cast of performers even if the text clearly suggests that the character, Bida, was actually a guy. This certain hint is found in the vandals that Bida gets to read which refer to “boy” stuff such as getting blowjobs and what have you, although there’s a part where the vandals being cited are claimed to have been dished out from restrooms of men and women alike. Nevertheless, it was a disclaimer personally delivered by a narrator in the third person of the multiple interior ominiscience nature, so that automatically clears responsibility off Bida as far as sharing purposes are concerned. Making the characters, including the narrators (instead of just one—I shall discuss this later), female will require omissions in the text just so it may fit the feminine context of the scenes. I also believe that Bida must always be included in the whole act even if she does not say any lines because it’ll definitely be too awkward if she just freezes on the toilet. Basically, there will be no multiple entrances and exits through out the act—just three personae mulling over the curiousness of vandalism in the powder room. The narrator is also going to branch out into two characters/narrators (who, I plan, will be donning unconventional, inappropriate, and perhaps indecent clothing—i. e. cheap, vulgar attire with torn fishnet stockings—that will make the scene more surreal and even underscore the vulgarity of the text, as I admit the lines are anything but bishop-friendly) as some sort of omniscient observers who happen to provide the audience a window that look out not only into the thoughts of Bida but more importantly, into the idiosyncrasies, quirkiness, and cheekiness of the people who vandalize and hide behind the cloak of anonymity—the enclosed cubicles, that is—comfortably. These narrators will have an exchange of dialogues and monologues that may or may not directly interact with those of Bida herself. An additional character will also be present at the end of the act (the one who gets to read Bida’s vandals and in effect, refuses to enter the same cubicle) but hers is only a cameo that I think is necessary in order to provide the same feeling the text’s ending wants to put across. Hopefully, the performance will be as light and comic as Nones’ writing.
Overall, Kung Ano ang Inilalabas is a voyeur’s peek at people’s habit of vandalizing in the private trappings of the bathroom, letting out waste in a different way, that is, through language—something that all of us will be able to relate to, well, unless we’ve been living beneath rocks and have missed the opportunity to make use of the public comfort room. Apparently, if “involved” students and outspoken people take it out on the streets through public demonstrations, some actually vent their frustrations on the walls and doors of helpless cubicles—a somewhat “underground” kind of revolution that may also have a huge impact on the public restroom-using society. And it is this mystery that shrouds such an act of revolt and personal expression that really makes this desecration of public utilities a laughing and yet touchy matter. What can I say? If you can’t fight it, ride with it. I shall end this with one of my personal favorite vandals—as I am an avid reader myself—that I have encountered in one of the many artistic, tiled spaces in this university: “Kill the vandals, kill the ideas!” to which one responded “Death of the signifier ≠ (not equal to) Death of the signified.” Indeed.
Analysis of Kung Ano ang Inilalabas mo sa Kubeta by Sherman C. Nones:
How to Tell Taboos
This short narrative story that my groupmates and I have encountered has a very “Filipino” sense of humor—the dark kind, in fact. I would like to believe that it is dark humor in a sense that it deals with matters that are considered quite vulgar for public discussion among what one may consider “decent, civilized people.” Those people who have been raised by parents who abhorred and reprimanded every cuss word that may escape their mouths, whether it was intentionally uttered or accidentally let loose by force of habit, people who were constantly told that “you are what you say” and that not-so-eloquent Rosanna Roces was a “palengkera” and whom one must not mold oneself after. These people, having had the chance to know the do’s and don’ts of ethics and etiquette, are now also familiar with the concept of “taboo.” Basically, Kung Ano ang Inilalabas is a piece on taboo and how students—or public C.R. users in this case—discuss and react around all these issues of taboo, needless to say, in the comfort of the cubicles of restrooms through the art of vandalism.
In a world that is fast shrinking, thanks to—or “no, thanks to,” depends on which side you’re on—the colonial idea of a world without strangers, it is a small wonder that human beings still find that “secret garden,” if you may, of flowers and butterflies and trees, both wilting and alive, of taboo—that enclosed space which cages in all kinds of thought that must not be included in the wider field of discourse that the modern society adopts in its everyday interpersonal communication. With the rise—and continuing, uncontrollable ascent, in fact—of the Internet where all possible data can be accessed by virtually anyone in this planet who happens to be computer-literate, one may wonder, “Why are we still not talking about certain things when everything is out in the open, available for the taking?” The 21st Century then, one finds, is not exactly an “absolutely free age of thinking.” Usernames and pseudonyms are still common on the net if only to hide the real identities of those people who do not mind to not be instant celebrities freshly fished out of MySpace or YouToube—an endless list of secret identities and alter egos that leave the U.S. and USSR espionage programs no say and that put to shame the classic and historical basket case, Sybil and her many split personalities. Having taken this into consideration, it then becomes a paradox: the global village is supposed to make the field of discourse freer through the net, progressive intercultural communication as well as promotion of a more forward kind of thinking in different societies such as ours, and yet, more vacancy is reserved for taboo because we are also given more opportunities to hide behind screens and screens of anonymity that are made possible by the advancement of technology and of course, the convenience of private spaces in public areas, e. g. the public restrooms. Isn’t it fascinating that you can actually connect all that infringement of public property to a more extensive matter such as the society? Taboo, after all, is a product of repressed thought, of the controlled discourse as dictated by the status quo, and of people who are willing to tolerate these forms of repression. Even Nones’ narrator mentions these ideas in the story every now and then.
I am not saying that we should openly talk about our sex lives (if any), how we love our vaginas (as in Eve Ensler’s masterpiece), or even the unique habits we happen to have adopted as we take a dump (I know a friend who actually weeps during the entire performance—yes, weeps, as in “sheds tears,” “cries” without the accompanying feeling of sadness, apparently for no reason at all). I am only questioning why we teach our children to call the male and female genitals in metaphors: “the birdie and the flower,” “the key in the lock,” “the dog and the pussy,” and what have you. I am wondering why it is more normal to be heterosexual, lest one ends up being called a “faggot” or a “dyke.” This is when the power of language is most tangible as we stack bricks on top of bricks to form a wall that we have built to imprison ourselves in a certain kind of code when language is supposedly a key to set us free. Personally, this is how I interpret the existence of taboo and how it comes to be what it is: a risky subject, a fear of the unknown when it is actually something known and yet people pretend that it’s not there only because they believe that the world may be better off without it. I remember Morgan Freeman as quoted to have said, “You want an end to racial discrimination? Then stop talking about it.” He’s definitely a screen legend and I admire him for that but I honestly think that Rosa Parks (an African-American seamstress who, back in the 50’s, refused to surrender her seat on a bus to a white man, the simple act of which has spurred the modern civil rights movement in the USA) had a lot more dignity and a whole lot more common sense. For instance, does ignoring the occurrence of incestuous relationships make them disappear? Not likely. This and other questions in my head have led me to the theory that if a literary epic is what Don Dumlao—my favorite professor in Filipino as well as a Palanca 3rd Prize Winner—calls “a society’s collective dreaming,” then taboo is what I call the “society’s collective denial,” a sort of collective silence that is passed onto generations no matter what time and age the world is in.
This is, by far, my most favorite paragraph in Kung Ano ang Inilalabas:
Upang masapatan ang timbang na emosyonal na pangangailangan, inilalabas nito ang masasalimuot at natatagong paniniwala nating mga mag-aaral. Nagsisilbing susi ang bandalismo upang mabuksan at maisiwalat ang nilalaman ng pinakapribadong silid ng isang indibiduwal. Kasama na rito ang lahat ng madidilim na ideya at konseptong hindi maaaring pag-usapan sa loob ng ating komunidad….Samakatuwid, magagawa ng isang mag-aaral ang pagsisiwalat na iyan sa isang lugar kung saan ang kanyang sarili lamang at walang iba, ang makapagmamasid at makasasaksi sa napakahalagang pangyayaring iyon. Oo, sa loob lamang ng kubeta maisasakatuparan ang paghahayag sa pamamagitan ng bandalismo. Kaya hindi ka magtataka kung bakit mabigat, malalim, mapanira, mapanlait, mapang-api, bastos, at makahayop ang mga nakasulat sa pader at pintuan ng banyo—nanggagaling kasi iyon sa pinakaloob-looban ng isang tao.
It’s these matters that Nones’ piece centers on and how people counteract them by unleashing the monsters within and writing their darkest, deepest thoughts—whether real or imagined—on walls that others may read, that others may discover and actually relate to. And what better walls could there be than those found in cubicles in public comfort rooms, the regular C. R. of which may be frequented by say, a thousand people summoned by the call of nature, a day? Some vandals only aim to express themselves, some need responses, and some even want to satisfy their carnal passions through this medium, but they all have this common denominator and that is the privilege of anonymity. Frankly, I have not yet read a vandal that said something like “Join the NPA! Join the Revolution! Signed (insert name of whoever is sick enough to do such a thing).” After all, vandalism is infringement of public property and is therefore, illegal. One may get arrested if one is caught or at least made to pay a fine of a great deal of pesos. It is basically a small crime and yet people have come to indulge in it as some kind of art or a mere outlet from all this massive emotional and psychological masquerade in which we partake.
I once read that Freud described a “taboo patient” as someone who “adopted the avoidance of writing down her name for fear it might get into somebody’s hands who thus would come into possession of a piece of her personality. In her frenzied faithfulness, which she needed to protect herself against the temptations of her phantasy, she had created for herself the commandment, ‘not to give away anything of her personality’ (quoted from Bonnie Friedman in an article among my readings in a Fiction writing class). So maybe those cubicles are somehow pages of fiction in their own right—perhaps antifiction, or even creative nonfiction. Nevertheless, Nones, as well as other daring authors (even better writers such as Ensler and Lorrie Moore, for example), has made it quite clear that there is room for taboo in literature, that fiction may be the only way these secrets can come out in the open even if it is in the form of the toilet and the walls that surround that sacred yet most inelegant space.