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Go GREEN. Read from


Oriental Masks

Oriental Masks
Photo by Jefferson Solayao, 2016

Saturday, July 22, 2017

One of the tenants on our compound, Abdillah, is a religious Muslim. He goes to work everyday in Maranao garb. This evening I gave him ALL of my Muslim clothing from Pakistan and Indonesia, two big sacks of them, because I don't wear them anymore. I used to, before I retired, when I was conducting creative writing workshops for Muslim youth at Mindanao State University and for child combatants at a center in Ermita. Abdillah was most appreciative of what I gave him and assured me that he would wear all of the kurtas and the matching pants. He wistfully asked me whether I speak Maranao, and I sensed that he was longing to be able to use his language with a friend--any friend.

I decided to grow into my old age wearing not my Muslim clothing but my traditional Chinese clothing. Whenever I wore the former in Metro Manila, Muslims would approach me, expecting me to be an imam whom they could converse with regularly once a week.

Whenever I am wearing my traditional Chinese clothing in Metro Manila, on the other hand, NO Chinese approach me, because no Chinese in Metro Manila ever wear such clothing. And so I am safer wearing that.

Well, I made one man happy this evening.