I’M A CERTIFIED Nethead and I can get down and digital with the best of them. But Rochelle Lazarte and her five friends make me feel as ancient as a rotary phone. Formed only seven months ago, their barkada is basking in its newfound friendship that traces its beginnings — the same way that many relationships among young people are being born and nurtured today — in cyberspace.
BEFORE ME was an Islamic religion studies graduate, an aleema who divorced her aleem (Islamic learned man) husband (for beating her up. She was lecturing on significant Muslim women in Islamic history. So far she had taken up the Prophet Muhammad’s wife Khadija and daughter Aisha. Today’s topic: Madina’s Umu Sulaim Rumaisa. All were women of virtue whose lives could give us insights on what a Muslim woman should aspire to.
I DON’T generally think of myself as vain, but then there’s this incident I remember from high school: some friends and I were assembled at my house so that we could all ride together to a party. As we were getting dressed in our Spandau Ballet-inspired finery (then the height of fashion), one of the barkada produced, from out of the depths of his bag, a can of mousse, which none of us hapless males had ever seen or even heard of before. Naturally, we all had to squirt some into our hands and smear it on our hair. Not knowing that we were then supposed to blow-dry or otherwise style it, we left the house feeling snazzy, while looking pretty much the same as we had prior to applying the mousse — at most, our hair was a little damper, vaguely crispy in texture, and certainly stickier than before. But we felt utterly transformed. We felt guapo.
THE QUEUES in mall bathrooms attest to our national vanity. With all the women putting on lipstick, powdering their noses, and whipping their dangerously long, buhaghag-free hair between vigorous brushstrokes, it is nearly impossible to get to the sink to wash hands. Whether the vanity is cause or effect, I’m not sure. Probably a little of both.
UP A FLIGHT of stairs, in a room with red, yellow, purple, and green walls, the talk is all about sex, all of the time. This is, after all, the hotline center of the Teen Foundation for Adolescent Development (FAD), an organization dedicated to adolescent health. In this room, among a few potted plants, counselors are always ready to answer calls from youths and discuss with them the consequences of premarital or unprotected sex.
TOO OFTEN the Filipino youth is viewed with the conventional eyes of our elders: we are the future of the nation, we are the agents of change. The government counts on us to help save the country, civil society exhorts us to be vigilant, the media remind us often enough that we are the hope of the nation. For the most part, however, they are disappointed. Especially when it’s convenient, we remain incomprehensible to our elders, and it’s easy to see why.