But just what is "bastos?"
TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - June 3, 2019 - 12:00am

It was a good-natured, good-humored world that I grew up in during the 1960s. Many of the things that one says or does that are now punishable under the so-called "bawal bastos" law were part of the social environment at the time but which everyone took in stride and for granted.

I remember quite distinctly a commercial heard often on radio (television was still in its infancy in those days) that started with a man wolf-whistling at a group of passing girls. The man would then ask after the girls: "Asa mo?" To this the girls would reply cheerfully: "Sa Rosita's Bazaar!" "Unsay paliton?" the man would persist.

At this point, the next line eventually got lost completely, replaced by something naughty that only the naughtiness of young boys can craft and imagine. At any rate, the next line as invented by our puerile minds, in answer to the "unsay paliton" query was an emphatic "panty'ng itom!"

I don't think such a commercial, even without the "bawal bastos" law, would ever see the light of day in today's world. There is now too much political correctness, too many rights, that I sincerely fear mankind is beginning to lose completely its own sense of what it is to be even human.

While God did not intend the human race to take after the devil, I honestly believe he did not want us to become robots either. The brain God screwed on into our heads is a terrific machine capable of discerning signals that trigger happiness, laughter, grief, loneliness, and a whole gamut of emotional pings to which we react.

True, there are truly malicious, vicious, and cruel things people can do to others, whether in words or in deed. And many of these things do indeed deserve whatever punishment may be appropriate under this new law, signed by President Duterte only recently, and called officially as the "Safe Streets, Public Spaces and Workplace Act."

But there are things that are clearly said or done in jest, or even innocently with no intent at malice or to do harm to anyone. Such things can happen for no other reason than that someone was just being human. Before too much political correctness and too many rights drowned out true human character, it was still perfectly all right for a man to whistle at a passing girl.

Whistling used to be a compliment. It meant one was attractive enough to catch attention. And while some girls did resent the whistles, most actually relished them. Ask your mothers and grandmothers and they will probably recount the times when they were genuinely whistle-baits. But then some eventually wove more meaning than the intent. And that's why we are here.

BAWAL BASTOS
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