He was wearing a faded red trouser and even from afar, I can see the tiny holes near the right shoulder, a black maong shorts that used to be long pants, and on his neck, a plastic sling bag that says Nike in front, with its usual huge check trademark.
He was crouched beside two plastic bag-full of garbage. On his other side were his stack of pirated DVDs he sells to some sleepy commuter like me waiting for a ride in that bus station at the howling center of Cubao. He was counting money, more twenty bills and few hundred bucks. He folded them a few more times then tucked it in the inside of his underwear garter.
As he rises, the orange ray of the halogen light hits the boy’s face. I noticed he was handsome, not too far from JM de Guzman’s boyish face, dark, one who always have this ready cute smile to anyone who approaches. He has this small black mole near his mouth, hair spiked atop, lean body and probably stands between 5 feet and 6 or 7 inches. He looks younger than me, 20 or 22, I supposed.
And then I had to wonder , cursed with an imagination that transcends reasons and logic, I saw the same boy wearing tight vintage jeans, a short sleeved polo with buttons open enough to boast his young budding chests. He’s to be seen strutting his stuff, flashing his youthful charm to loitering men and ladies of the quiet night.
When dark is over, he is to sit in some fast food restaurant, drinking coffee or perhaps some early morning breakfast, counting his money. This time, there are no more few twenty peso bills, but few hundred bucks and more of thousands.
He could pass as a masseur. He could be an escort boy, a boy toy of some bored family guy in his mid forties, a hustler or a con artist. He got the looks others would simply die for just to have them. So I wonder why he chose to sell pirated DVD movies.
I wonder why people choose to do things that they choose to do and why choose not to do the things that people don’t. I used to believe that we pattern this parallel to our definition of what’s good and what’s not. But I do not believe that people are naturally good anymore. In fact, I don’t even believe in my own goodness.
There is this woman who refuses to believe her husband is dead. For the rest of her life, she would lay on bed his morning clothes, prepare dinner and would wait on the door at night for him to arrive. But he never will for he really died in some stupid car accident in some curved road with a sign beside that says “accident prone area, beware.” Yet she will choose to believe in a promise her husband once said. “Forever I will come home to you.” So she will spend the remaining of her life waiting.
Maybe that’s why the handsome boy in the bus station chose to be a pirated DVD vendor. He chose it not because he’s good, or that he knows that selling pirated goods is just as wrong. Maybe because he simply believes he has to be a pirated DVD vendor. The same way that hustlers choose to be a hustler, that junkies choose to be a junkie or that writers choose to be mad.
I know they say it’s our choices that defines us. But I think it’s not enough. I think it’s our choices and the way we stand by it. How one stood his ground, that's what really defines us. After all, there’s not much of a difference between a pirated DVD vendor and a sleep deprived news writer.
Paper faces on parade
Hide your face so the world will never find you
Every face a different shade
Look around -
mask behind you.
Flash of mauve.
Splash of puce.
Fool and king.
Ghoul and goose.
Green and black.
Queen and priest.
Trace of rogue.
Face of beast.
-Masquerade by Andrew Lloyd Webber from the Phantom of the Opera