We used to have a parrot in Manila to keep my grandparents company. When we immigrated, we gave him away.
My mother told me that they cut off his wing so that the owners won’t lose them. I reacted, “What the fuck? How would they like it if we fucking cut their arms off?!?”
They apparently did it without thinking either: “Okay today I’m doing the laundry, cleaning the bathroom, doing some work, making a call to my colleague, and cutting off the parrot’s wings.”
My post regarding Snake Charmers prompted this memory to surface.
Back in Manila upper slum, it was the apparent norm…and the idea of treating animals as a living entity whose well-being is important was a far out foreign concept…precisely because of the fact that the well-being of the people living in those conditions weren’t looked after well enough either.
While it’s very easy to judge the people fucking with the parrots, we also have to keep in mind the number of times these people (and the familial beliefs they might have been born into) have been royally fucked by the system (pardon the cliché), to the point where they can’t even think for themselves.
I’ve been there. I was born in that reality. It was not fun.
At a point when we were living in upper slum I, myself, felt like a parrot – I was going to school that oppressed its students (they controlled everything from behavioural expectations by gender, age to hairstyles and skirt lengths…questioning the bible was punishable by getting expelled. Critical thinking skills were not encouraged – despite the theoretical studies of it – and if you think or see anything outside of what is being taught, you’re essentially fucked. And when your mindset is stuck within the confines of the cycle of shit, getting expelled and/or dropping out from school was one of the “worst” things that could happen in life)
Since the crime rate was high (school bus delays and cancellation due to a murdered driver, disappearing girls for forced sex labour, and hearing screams from stabbing next door were just some of the few delectable things on the menu) I was barely let out of the house.
Since it was (and still is) a patriarchal society, I was blamed and got beat for being harassed…even if I was dressed up conservatively, it was still something I must’ve done. Le whatever.
On another note, this is how I analyze the situation: in as much as my metaphorical wings were cut off during my adolescence by withholding my sexuality and getting beat up thanks to my family’s deep-seated frustrations with poverty, the parrots’ wings were also cut off due to the oppressive environments, mentalities, and the discouragement of self-awareness and self-questioning thanks to deep-seated fear that get passed on from generation to generation.
I still love my family even though sometimes they’re just fucking Annoying.As.Fuck.
Plus what happened then, it was like more than a decade ago. I’m kinda over it. It took me a while tho, but it made me realize that I essentially just needed a healthy outlet – oh hey guess why I re-started making art?
I decided to focus on the things that make me happy instead of dwelling on guilt and bullshit (mine and other people’s). Whenever I smell bullshit or if bullshit is being imposed on me, I just purge it out of my system.
Life’s just too short.
As for cutting off the parrot’s wings for the purposes of them not escaping: I still think it’s pretty fucked up. That is just So.Not.Cool.
Though I’m judging the act, not the people.