Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Love triangle

THE TRIANGLE is not my favorite. The associations created by its sharp, odd-numbered edges unsettle.

Yet, how should one take a triangle within a triangle?

I was vexed when I found myself in the Ayala Triangle Gardens.

Late one Sunday, I joined the company that was taking advantage of this oasis in Makati, the capital’s central financial district.

Aside from the diners, families were strolling or exercising their dogs. There were runners, walkers, moon worshippers, lovers, wifi lovers, lovers of lovers. Every type of human seemed to be in company that night.

According to the official website, the place is right in the middle of the triangle formed by Paseo de Roxas, Makati and Ayala Avenues. The Ayala Triangle is named so because this sub-district is a triangle-shaped parcel of land in Makati.

Does the place live up to its name? From the human point of view, the place has everything. There are shops, banks and, most importantly on a Sunday, ATMs.

The plant world is well-represented, too. I recognize fire trees and rubber trees, a number of the oldtimers impressively bewhiskered with creepers, vines and lianas, not to mention a mini-forest of roots.

There are no signs asking humans to keep off the grass, or the grass from encroaching on human space.

As for fauna, did I not mention the dogs?

I’m curious, though, why pet-friendly places attract only pure-breed dogs and their significant human others. Where are the “aspins” (“asong Pinoy”)?

The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (Paws) coined the name to rescue native mongrels from the sad associations of their old name, “askal (“asong kalye (street dogs)”).

Before a team of players adopted the name and turned football into a national craze, the “askal” was known not for frequenting the mall but for being an unwilling participant in human cruelty: “slaughtered, abused, ‘kinakaladkad sa likod ng’ tricycle (dragged from the back of a tricycle), ‘o pinapasok sa sako (placed inside a sack)’,” Paws Aspin Club president Nice Rodriguez was quoted as saying in a May 15, 2012 Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) article.

Through its Aspin Club, the Paws has been campaigning to change biases against native dogs. Since 2009, it pursues its campaign, using the motto, “My ‘aspin’ is in”.

“When someone says, ‘askal lang (only),’ it’s like you’re saying, ‘Pinoy ka lang.’ Does that reflect how we see ourselves?,” the same PDI article quotes Paws resident veterinarian Dr. Wilfred Almoro. “That’s why ‘natutuwa ako (I am pleased) when I see someone bringing an ‘aspin’ to a mall—it says a lot about the confidence of the owner, as well.”

Or human love for the aspin. Families usually keep an aspin to guard home and property. Despite government campaigns that administer free or subsidized rabies injections, many aspins are not considered valuable enough to be brought to veterinarians.

Thus, a rooster may expect better reception than an aspin from drivers and conductors of jeepneys and buses. One i-Witness documentary featured a man who earned a living through the performances of his pet ‘aspin’. The duo had access to plazas and parks. They had to wait a long time to find a bus that would give them a ride.

Watching the toy dogs that played tag with their significant humans or roamed without a leash that Sunday night, I missed Udo, the part-Labrador and part-Alegria askal I left in Cebu.

By fitting themselves so loyally to our world, our dogs also embrace and live with our hang-ups and baggage.

Cats are a different matter, though. Cats are not owned. They only deign to be fed.

Aside from green-loving humans and flora, the Ayala Triangle Gardens shares space with several of these cool characters.

The first independent operator mewed just when I was about to bite my first spicy wing. When I paused to look where the sound came from, there came a burst of counter mews from another operator that sniffed out what the competition found.

Several mews later (and bones surreptitiously dropped under my chair), I took a stroll, thinking there must be justice because God created a world split between those who live with a leash and those who don’t.

(mayette.tabada@gmail.com/ mayettetabada.blogspot.com/ 09173226131)

* First published in Sun.Star Cebu’s June 3, 2012 issue of the “Matamata” Sunday column

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