*published in the SunStar Weekend Magazine in May 11,2003
by Jean Claire A. Dy
“To be or not to be frisked,” that is a question I often ask myself these days. There is so much frisking going on that in a day I’d lose count of the hands that have skimmed my hips and legs. What I recall are the various ways these hands move, how they feel, and even how they talk to you. Some hands hesitate, some command, some are soft while others are rough. There are also hands that apologize to you by the way they move. While some hands say nothing at all.
After a day of experiencing constant frisking, what usually lingers is the feeling that somehow in that short moment when I am standing between the in/outside of a building, I have allowed someone else to share a part of my personal space, to temporarily own a part of my body.
I am not going to talk about how grateful I am that frisking is happening almost everywhere in this City I am presently trapped in. While I agree that frisking is necessary for my safety as a citizen of the Republic, I’ll leave the discourse to other writers who are more conversant with such matters of public safety and national security.
Honestly, I revel at the idea of frisking. It is another way of vicariously marking space and owning bodies. Yet, it can be an art form itself.
During the act of frisking, the “frisker” or the persons who do the frisking (read: security guards, soldiers, policemen, etc.) more often than not consider you as just a body. When the act commences, you are transformed into an object and, in their trained eyes, a possible killing machine. Their hands go about their business as quickly as a bank teller counts paper bills. You as a person become segmented. To a frisker, a leg clad in jeans is just a leg and, to some extent, a potential weapon. That leg doesn’t belong to a body, much less a person.
But like most workers, these friskers also grow tired and become bored with their rather mechanical and perfunctory duties.
In one of the SM malls, I accidentally discovered a female security guard who found the best way to make her job of frisking interesting to her and perhaps to other people. She would greet you with a smile then, before doing her routine, wave her arms above her head and slowly sway them to your hips and down your legs. Her hands would move gracefully, at the same time methodically on your body, that somehow you would feel like dancing with her arms too—-sway your hips in Hawaian fashion. While doing all these, she would be humming a familiar tune. After which, in a singsong, she would say “Welcome to SM, ma’am.”
Amusing as it may sound, the female guard’s routine was like a breath of fresh air to me. For a moment there, I felt an affinity with her. As though we weren’t two individual bodies but one. We were unified as one body humanized by the creative spirit.
Indeed, even for just one moment, such liminal moment, I realized that people can actually soar above the constrictions of established spaces and owned bodies, without having to sacrifice anything at all.