Mandy is a 30-year old bachelor, disheveled, almost deprived of sanity, outwardly effeminate, jobless and a neighborhood nuisance. He stands taller than the regular guy in town, erect in his posture and walks with confidence except for the swaying hips. His being unkempt is almost expected since he evades his mother and escapes her attention by skipping meals and maternal care. His hair is already gray contradicting his youthful age. And he constantly moves around as if it is a sworn task.
One notices his stark departure from reality with his manners and routine. He would knock aggressively in one house after another while singing a song at the top of his voice. The homeowners accept his presence and would dole out a wrapped leftover food and he would be off to another house. It would be a customary part of the neighborhood to see and hear him. As a matter of fact, his voice could be arraigned along with the cock’s crow at dawn and the early morning pass over of the aerial spray plane. And for all the households in the area, there is always the usual small pack of provisions for Mandy to reduce the annoying sound he emits.
For newcomers, Mandy’s figure cuts a pathetic sight and his poise is fearsome once he trains his wailing vocal cords. The songs are the same—a birthday song and it is rendered in several decibels. His crackling version could be heard several meters, on a not so busy day, almost a kilometer away. That strong. It could even overcome the blasting sound of a firearm.
He lives in a shanty somewhere tucked in the nearby plantation area. He may have been one of the children relocated some time ago from one of the calamity struck areas of the province. From there he must have suffered a debilitating ailment that made his brain impossible to work normally. Although at close range, he speaks clearly. He pronounces his words, as in his songs, with patent clarity. Those completely psychotic would merely utter incomprehensible clatter. In his case, except for the loud and skewed delivery, the consonants are properly resonated. His case is not a hopeless one but his condition is.
For me such character is not unworthy of probing. They are a part of humanity after all. They may be dismissed as an unproductive sector, a burden even, a bothersome outline, without a numerical value, a useless component, a symbol signifying nothing. Yet, they can be found in street corners, along pedestrian lanes, marketplaces; they dot the urban and rural landscape. As a matter of fact, there are several Mandy’s everywhere. A philosopher once opined “God must have loved crazy people. He made a lot of them!” They come in different in styles. They are also described in so many ways. Some would label them “taong grasa”, “may tama”, “sira-ulo”, “baliw”, “tino-toyo”, “homeless”, “palaboy”, “batang hamog” “street urchins” etc. The vernacular is rich in names to be attributed to this special class of people.
Understandably, they are products of a cruel world. And since everyone is part of it, I for one, then we must bear in conscience the makings of these persons into what they have become.
There should be a religion at least to take care of them if no one, government or even anybody with conscience, does not want to lift a finger to provide them a shade of what humanity is all about.
Humanity still resides in them despite the cruelty man imposes on them.