Fences.

Yesterday afternoon, I was watching the replay of a Philippine Basketball Association game played between Alaska Milk and Ginebra San Miguel in an out-of-time venue when I began to notice that the bleachers in the basketball gymnasium where the game was being played have steel fences on them. For certain, this is not really something that should surprise me but I have gotten use to watching PBA games in more modern venues in Manila where fences are not in anyway used to divide variably-priced seats (the closer the seat to the court, the higher price one pays for it.) that seeing those metal dividers had instilled some deep thought in me.

I wondered in my mind why those steel fences are needed in some modern basketball gymnasiums and the probable answer to this mental query of mine is of course to prevent game patrons from unduly relocating from one place to another—usually from an area farther from the basketball court to a nearer one. Then I asked, have we as a people became most inclined to cheat even on such trivial matter as seatings in a basketball game that fences or divisions are made necessary to control these unholy notions? I ask if this ugly notion really exist amongst us because for one, I have yet to witness anyone doing such act although I have been in many live basketball games in the past, including the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao and Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay. Decades ago, when our economy was in deeper trouble and we were still somewhat backward in outlook and attitude, I would not have been asking these questions or if for one, we were some backyard countries like Afghanistan and Rwanda (I don’t mean to debase these countries, hope I am clear on this).

What I saw in that PBA game every time the camera pans towards the bleachers is the sight of human beings fenced like they were chickens behind wire fences. And every face I saw there is deemed to be so untrustworthy that they have to be held back deliberately by a formidable division. Some of them held the wire fences while watching the game and the sight evoked to me the unseemly image of men without freedom. To think, they are indeed without freedom, economic freedom for that matter, for if they were only able to pay for the better seats, they would not have to suffer those fences. I wanted to reach out to them and free them from that unsightly situation—only if I was a millionaire and able to buy them better seats. But I am not affluent and in fact, I would have suffered those same fences if I felt like watching a basketball game because surely, I might as well have not afforded those pricey seats at courtside. But one thing I am sure of, I do not have to be fenced in order that I remain in the seat of my consignation, in accordance with the thickness or slimness of my wallet. I think these fences must be uprooted from every gymnasium there is in town for they are symbols of distrust and dishonesty. If many would cheat, the solution would be to apprehend them and throw them out of the venue or better still, drag them to the nearest friendly neighborhood police station and make them hold some other form of metal fences. But fencing people just in order for them not to cheat is a throwback to tyranny.

I wonder how much those seats costs and if they were cheap enough in order for any patron to just content himself or herself to watching the game with steel fences bothering his or her views. I might as well have watched the game on television where fences do not in any manner cover the view.

I may sound sort of overreacting but those steel fences tells us something sad and ugly about our society and the Filipino as an individual. Have we become so untrustworthy? Have we become rogue enough to always cheat on seats and perhaps on every other aspect of our modern lives?

We are a nation of fences. Houses are fenced. Offices are surrounded by high concrete walls. Hospitals are ringed or always enclaved. Even churches built high divisions around them. Schools, cafeterias, stores, markets and subdivisions are fenced. We see fences in ships and boats, in graduation ceremonies, in crime scenes, in concerts and live shows, in festivals and sportsfest, in public demonstrations, in presidential speaking engagements, in cinemas and stage plays---fences are everywhere.

There are wooden fences as well as steel fences. Sometimes these fences have barbed wires in them or some cracked bottles on its topmost portions. While some even carries electricity that is powerful enough to burn any one that has the misfortune to be caught in it.

If every individual starts trusting every other individual and when every individual can be trusted already, that’ll be the day that we need no more fences in our midst. If that day comes, nobody knows exactly.
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