October 06, 2004

Autophobia Rex

What is it with us Filipinos? Are we indeed afraid of being alone? Why is it that in our culture, the bliss of solitude is never enjoyed? It is apparent that if one is alone, he or she is thought to be either a loner (which in some cases are true) or a sociopath.

When you enter a restaurant and you see someone eating all alone, or when you go into a theater and you pass by a movie-goer watching the flick alone, what do you feel? Are you moved by pity or by relief that you're not this person. Don't you feel good that you're more fortunate than that poor soul because on the other hand, you yourself has someone to accompany in your leisure activities? Even if that person is your driver, a maid, your neice or cousin, or co-worker, you subconsciously make sure that that person is with you when you go out. Basta meron lang. It's not even a result of the security-risk crime-infested environment we live in. This is simply a idiosyncratic curiosity of ours wherein we prefer never to be alone. Sometimes, women even cajole their friends to accompany them to the comfort room! I don't think she will be sucked into the bowl ala Titanic, right? Or how about that helper from the next unit who always asks someone to accompany her to throw the trash or buy food outside? It's somewhat disturbing and ridiculous really.

Is this the result of our native values of "pakikisama", "bayanihan", and extended family ties? Maybe. A bit? But not to the point that we become clingy to each other that one is stiffled from doing things alone- like doing the grocery or eating out. It is perhaps our collective consciousness that we brand those people who do things solitarily as loners, outcasts, and never fun to be with. It is this presumptuousness that perpetuates this loathing for others being by themselves. It is wrong, but hey, it's reality. You may not perceived it outright but the undercurrents there are strong- especially in restaurants.

But really, who cares? If one likes being alone or finds solace in doing stuff by himself or herself, it is her right. While others may steal glances or whisper discretely, the person involved doesn't give a horse's shit for the mere fact that he or she is doing it with no one around can be a sign that that soul is practically savoring the moment. It may be moment away from a busy schedule or from a mad-house family or from a clingy dependent loved one. Whatever the reason and however the feeling, the fact remains that doing things alone is looked down upon by our present Filipino society.
This may mean that many Filipinos have been afflicted by the disease known as Autophobia Rex. (No such disease entity exists, just in the author's mind)

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