Friday, January 11, 2013


A man gave up his seat for me in the sardine-packed MRT today. By the looks of his scuffed shoes and badly patched-up trousers, a day worker. Bodies were jostling to and fro as the train went from station to station. On the third stop from the one where I boarded, the day worker stood up and said 'ma'am.' He looked at the man seated next to him and whispered 'nakakahiya.' The other man also stood up and gave up his seat to the nearest woman. I wonder what prompted the act of seat-giving. was I looking schoolmarm-ey today with my hair in a bun? Did my look evoke childhood memories of his teacher from the barrio - good, warm memories which prompted a show of generosity/gallantry? If so why did he say 'nakakahiya?' Was he ashamed of the fact that a woman stands while he - an able-bodied man is seated? If not gendered sensibilities, was it a matter of class? My schoolmarm bun to his blue collar?