So, what’s in a kiss?

Eddie Ilarde - The Philippine Star
So, whatâs in a kiss?
The iconic kiss between Marlon Brando (right) and CNN’s Larry King —Screenshot from the 1994 CNN interview

MANILA, Philippines — When Pres. DU30 visited Israel and Jordan recently, he was met by thousands of OFWs and just like “in Davao, there (were) many beautiful girls.” But obviously in deference to Jews and Muslim custom, there was no display of Duterte fans rushing on stage for a kiss — in public.

Time has passed since the “Pres. Duterte kiss” in South Korea but people are still talking about it — some critical but mostly amused. But what’s all the fuss? Everyone knows that politicians will do anything to surprise and impress their audience, even if they have to kiss their supporters in public for amusement and for dramatic effect. The fact is, we all kiss as a sign of affection or respect; sometimes as foreplay for strictly personal and private intentions; but that’s another story. To paraphrase a Cole Porter song: “…the birds and the bees do it, fleas and oysters do it, even whales and electric eels do it…” and my friend Jack says, “if ‘beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,’ malice is in the mind of the prudish.”

What we remember is Sen. Ping Lacson’s comment. In his usual genial but frank manner, he said: “It’s not just about malice or style. It’s more about appropriateness and protocol…let’s move on from here and not stress ourselves thinking of what the next excitement could be.” To the malicious, pressing one’s lips against another person’s, or even on an object, can stress and excite; if so who cares about protocol, Sen. Ping?

Sometime in the late ‘90s, in our newscast on TV, people were shocked to see Pres. Leonid Brezhnev of Russia hugging and kissing in the lips of visiting male head of state; our viewers thought he was either drunk or a closet bi-sexual, forgetting that such thing may be diplomatic protocol or a traditional gesture of greeting friendly heads of state. In our present case, it would have been a bigger brouhaha — and more exciting — if Pres. Duterte and Pres. Moon of South Korea did the same. Who can forget Larry King Live where Marlon Brando hugged and kissed in the lips Larry King in his TV program? The audience hit the roof — shocked but yelling and laughing in glee! And in Hollywood, shooting a kissing scene, the leading lady pushed away the macho leading man and said: “Dahling, mouthwash first your bad breath!”

The story of the kiss has been told since the mist of time — in history and scriptures; its definition and connotation, are apropos in our society, unaccustomed to open-minded acceptance of human sensuality. Yet we were taught to kiss the hand of our elders as a sign of courtesy and more recently, allowed to imitate the “sosyal beso-beso.” Kisses for love and passion come naturally among all animate creatures on the planet, so teaching it is redundant, perhaps the reason why they did not write about it when it happened in “the garden of Eden.” The Bible is rich with “Kisses” as in “…arise my love, my dove, my beautiful one and come … kiss me with kisses of your mouth…for your love is sweeter than wine;” “… your lips are like a scarlet strand…your mouth is sweet and lovely like pomegranate…” The Hindu epic Mahabharata and Kama Sutra are even richer in this regard, even more explicit and dramatic.

There is no sense, therefore, in arguing against kissing; it is habitual, it is conventional, it is a way of life. So always be ready to pucker up. The good news is, there is no constitutional mandate on it — against the law only when one steals it. We remember the first lips-to-lips kiss on live television in the Philippines years ago. When Miss America and popular singer Anita Bryant was our guest in Student Canteen, Leila Benitez introduced us to her; before I can shake her hand, she put her arms around me and kissed me — in the lips! It brought the house down! No negative reaction, no controversy, just “clean fun”; except when I came home and was about to kiss my wife, she pushed me and said: “Wash your mouth first!”

There are a thousand-and-one “kisses” all over the world; in government, business, arts, music, showbiz, academe, religion, you name it: “Pope John Paul II Kiss (on the ground in Lithuania, 1993),” “First Kiss,” “Judas Kiss,” “Kiss of Death,” Brezhnev Kiss,” Kiss of the Spider,” “Kissing Bandit,” “Kiss of Fire,” “Kiss Me, Kate,” Kiss Me Quick,” “Marilyn Monroe Kiss,” Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang,” “Pakiskis,” “Kiss and Run,” “Kiss Sabay Hug,” “Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses,” “French Kiss,” and the latest addition, “Duterte Kiss.”

As George Bernard Shaw said: “There is always one who kisses and one who only allows the kiss.” For the sake of peace, why can’t Pres. Rody and Sonny just kiss and make up? Mwaaah!

Eddie Ilarde is a former Senator, author, free-lance writer, radio, TV host and producer, three-time lifetime achievement awardee for radio-TV. Listen to him 1:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays over DZBB. Reach him at P.O. Box 107 107 Makati City 1222.



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