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[IRL] THE POWER of PROPINQUITY

By Menchu Aquino Sarmiento


The dictionary defines PROPINQUITY as the state of being close to someone or something. For many of us, our regular barber/hairdresser, manicurista, masahista, zumba instructor, or D.I., has touched and seen us in intimate ways, which only the very few chosen ones are permitted to. These personal care service providers were sorely missed during the extreme lockdowns that we all endured. Truthfully, they suffered far more than many of us did. We may not have liked looking shaggy and saggy, or making do with DIY mani-pedi and dye jobs, but for them, it was truly a matter of survival. They were deprived of their main means of livelihood for many months. The too few and far between, painfully inadequate ayuda cannot keep up with inflationary food and fuel prices. Next to our medical front-liners, essential and transport workers, our personal care service providers have had the misfortune of experiencing first-hand what it was like to bear the brunt of inept, corrupt, inefficient and truly horrible governance.


Now if there were only a way for them to use their hard-earned knowledge of what government should NOT be, in order to help others to realize what good governance might be like after May 2022. For many of these personal care service providers, life still hasn’t gone back to the pre-Covid normal. Older people or those with co-morbidities are justifiably still fearful of this virus and its vile variants. They aren’t returning to the beauty parlors or to the gyms. As for the thousands who lost their jobs or businesses--they can no longer afford to treat themselves to such small luxuries as the salon, the spa and such.


Good, decent personal care service providers with people skills and sound moral principles, actually have the potential to be among our most productive kakampink. Take that viral post by Pagadian for Leni of the inspiring and selfless barber who on Kindness Wednesdays, gives 20 free haircuts in exchange for letting his client listen to him chat about Leni. He puts his money where his mouth is. That’s hard core radical love in action, to give up practically a whole day’s earnings for the love of our country. This barber owns his shop, but there are many potentially kakampink personal care service providers who are, or used to be employed. If they are fortunate enough to still have jobs, they might tap into their ready-made customer base, like the Pagadian barber does.


As for those personal care service providers who are among the millions made jobless by this administration’s mismanagement of the pandemic response, they might be trained to help others to discover the inner beauty of being a kakampink for a change. Based on their own sad experiences of being let down by their current leaders, they might help others to find a better way come May 9, 2022. They would be like wounded healers for our ailing democracy. Just as the Bacolod initiative establishing TRUTH FARMS to counteract the troll farms has fulltime digital warriors, so might kakampink who used to be employed as personal care service providers, take on another vocation which would make especially good use of their special people skills and higher than average EQ.


Historical facts and data just don’t work when trying to communicate with certain kinds of people. One’s tone of voice and manner might be more effective. Such intangibles are difficult to learn or even to fake. But for personal care service providers, actively listening while speaking in a friendly, accepting tone, projecting a calm openness that invites trust and elicits confidences--these are practically second nature to them. It becomes a matter of channeling their skills in the right direction. They might be a special branch of the Kakampink brigade. For our higher common purpose, theirs might be termed the power of pro-PINK-witty.

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Menchu Aquino Sarmiento is an award-winning writer and a social concerns advocate. IRL (In Real Life) are short verbal pagmumuni-muni, the essay equivalent of fast fiction--but in real life. She really wants more Filipinos to care, and to do something legal and non-violent about it, preferably together, so that we act more like a civilized country, a mature democracy.



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