Mar 28, 2002

Bago ang lahat, isang makahulugang Semana Santa at mapagpalayang Pasko ng Pagkabuhay sa inyong lahat!

LIGHT AND SHADES

My Eyes

I'm still not used to the shades. I scrutinize my eyes in the mirror, rolling it all over its sockets, just to see what my sister saw. She said I may be on my way to having pterygium, which, as I have explained, is the eye's excessive way of protecting itself from routine exposure to dust and sun, specifically UV rays.

Had no luck. I didn't know what I was looking for. I thought everything there was suppose to be there. My eyes must've been a little to red in the wrong places or something.

***

An Accessory

I don't like wearing anything save for the basics.

I'm not too hot on accessorizing. For one, I never liked wristwatches. I love those wooden bead necklaces, leather wrist straps with some piece of carabao horn, and other inspired and unique patterns. But little brother would almost always take my purchases to both wear and tear.

I never got to piercing any body part. I just never figured which ear would say which gender I preferred. Or if the left or right nostril would signify anything like that. Tongue-piercing freaks me out. I mean, nothing but mami noodles and water for weeks? No thanks. I'd rather have my wounds elsewhere.

No bracelets, no velcro, no bonnets, no hairclips, no belly-rings, no anklets, no nada. And no ring, for now.

And until recently, nothing to impair my eyes.

***

Altered Egos

I don't like wearing shades. Aside from the infantile mimicking of Superman and alter ego Clark Kent (which is now really too absurd, I mean, he takes off his eyeglasses and the love of his life can't recognize him anymore?), I didn't even want glasses. It was always a sign of weakness for me, not intelligence. Of failing eyes. And of some people who didn't need the glasses but wanted to look different.

Alter the ego somewhat. It looked so pretentious for me, as a kid, to not have eye problems and yet have glasses. It had to look pretentious or else it wouldn't make sense. Why the ruse? Hiding something? A cape under that suit or something a little more sinister?

My grade five adviser, (I hope no one from DBTI reads this - ah what the hell - a schoolboy crush) cemented my young mind's position on this. She wore glasses and looked so, well, sophisticated in them. She had that aura she exuded with her overpowering perfume. That aura told you she was never wrong. And I never recalled she was.

Once, she looked over her rose-tinted glasses and said something like this to her captive class: "These are high-grade lenses and I would that I didn't wear them. When I was young, I used to wear glasses even though I didn't need them, for purposes of fashion. Those didn't have any lenses but they weakened my eyes. Now it has taken it's toll on my eyes and I have grown increasingly dependent on them."

That's karma maybe, but mine is irony. I've tried to push back glass and contact lenses for as long as I can remember. My parents have several varieties for reading and normal sight. Both of my sisters had them and, later, contacts. I hate fuzzing on contacts too. I don't like the rituals. And I've had my share of tiptoeing so as not to crush dropped lenses.

***

Dimmed Lights

Our NGO's nurses tell me I don't have 20/20 anymore. And now pterygium. No big tragedy, I guess. Only I wanted to die without fuzzing over my eyes much. But I guess my habits aren't exactly eye-friendly!

So I must endure the shades, and yes, even be thankful for them. It was a good thing my sister saw it coming. That is my luxury. It is my luxury too that I can have pairs of these glasses and wear them when I'm under the sun.

In our missions, the people just live with their growths and other minor eye diseases until they can work with them. Let me tell you, we have enough ophthalmologists! Our ratio is satisfactory! But as expected, what is left of them practicing in the native soil are not distributed properly. They crowd around the (paying) urban centers.

Thus I am so grateful to our volunteer doctors and to those local ophthalmologists doing their work in the unglamorous parts of the archipelago.

And these missions, even though they are the bread and butter of our NGO, even if they pay my bills, I say they aren't enough. They are just temporary solutions. The illness of our society permeates to the very eyes of its constituents! A permanent solution is sadly beyond our grasp because of the maladies we suffer. But not beyond sight.