A US veteran prognosticates on a T-shirt

Did you pick out your best T-shirt at the mall? There was an array of T-shirts for sale, and yours is to select the one with the printed message of your desire. It could be one that tugs at the heart. Your choice could even be a reflection of your personality – your likes and dislikes, your aspirations, your aims in life.

A most inspiring T-shirt message I came across the other day was the one donned by my brother-in-law Gus Alonsozana, beloved hubby of my sister Lolita. Brother Gus went through the rigors of a US Navy with flying colors, standing proudly what his T-shirt conveys:

MY EYES HAVE SEEN THINGS, YOURS HAVE NOT.

MY HEART HAS BURNED IN WAYS, YOURS CANNOT.

THE HAVE-NOTS, CANNOTS, AND THE WILL-NOTS

ARE THE SHEEP OF OUR NATION. THEY SLEEP

WITHOUT FEAR BECAUSE I AM THE WOLF

THAT KEEPS THE OTHER WOLVES AT BAY.

I AM A U.S. VETERAN.

Above brings me to this re-do of a column published in Panay News years ago: What does your T-shirt say? Read on:

Someone couldn’t keep her curiosity to herself. And so, she [who else but this inquisitive columnist] popped out her question: What does your T-shirt say? Karen took out her jacket and bared to one and all: JUSTICE NOT VENGEANCE Printed below the bold caps: Let us not become the evil that we deplore. Karen said she loves wearing it because she fully adheres to her T-shirt’s message. Well, Karen, I do agree with that, too. This was a light-hearted chat in our Current Events session at the Oakland Senior Center of the U.S. of A.

I wonder what my fellow seventy-agers would ask if I come up with my T-shirt bearing pitch-black pointed strokes I have been to Hell. Curious?

Hell is the name of a town in the Grand Cayman Islands, one of the itinerary stops in the Caribbean cruise we took. Tourists walk on a plank and look down at a charcoal-black area about an acre wide.  Protruding from the ground are charred stones with sharp, jagged edges that resemble spikes. Misshapen nature so named has drawn tourists to Hell.  Most often, tour brochures exaggerate, and the town Hell is no exception.

What’s printed on a T-shirt could spark an interesting conversation. Some years ago, I chose an old T-shirt, a souvenir from our Iloilo Executive Toastmasters Club. It was fitted for California summertime. My daughter Rose’s family brought me to Alcatraz, an island-prison turned museum. I earned a wow from a fellow tourist who turned out to be a Canadian toastmaster. CTM or DTM? he asked. I had painstakingly completed ten speech projects that earned for me the CTM title, Competent Toastmaster to the uninitiated. DTM or Distinguished Toastmaster will never appear on this columnist especially because I have long ceased being a club member.

It pays to advertise with or on a T-shirt with a LOVE logo. Think of all the beautiful Philippine sceneries painted on T-shirts which both foreigners and the locals gobble up for souvenirs. And how nice to endorse our very own in foreign shores. My Boracay blouse has opened conversations inviting fellow tourists to experience the island’s incomparable powdery white sand that remains unequaled in the world.

Loyalty to one’s alma mater is manifest in the T-shirts we wear. I was asked by a fellow alumna to what class I belong when she saw me in the UP T-shirt with the iconic Oblation statue. That started us unraveling memories of long ago. This reminds me of the 1995 Golden Jubilee of my alma mater Oton High School.  A precious souvenir is well-kept as a memento.  With the forthcoming centennial of the San Antonio-San Nicolas Elementary School (SASNES) in May 2014, I expect a flood of T-shirts to be a hot sale for the alumni, all of 100 years, who have been introduced to Pepe and Pilar. I wonder whether our forbears of the early 90s still have the breath of life in them to proudly don the centennial T-shirt.

A family event deserves to be memorialized in a T-shirt, e.g., our December 2000 Rivera Clan Reunion which spanned four generations — from a doddering ninety-ager to a toddler, to professional aunts, uncles, and cousins. Some flew from Australia, USA, and various parts of the Philippines — Manila, Mindanao, etc. All clan members wore the imprinted yellow T-shirt, symbol of an unforgettable, rousing, fun-filled four-day celebration of family ties.

I like my daughter Rose’s T-shirt that pays tribute to people who think different. “Think Different” is printed in front and at the back is a one paragraph message: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The Misfits. The Rebels. The Trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” It ends with a reference: 1998 Apple Computer, “Think Different.” Go Google for further info.

Now back to the one liner. At Iloilo’s SM City mall, I remember wearing a black T-shirt that carried one big sentence in white: By reading this, you have given me brief control of your mind. The fellow read it, snickered, then looked at me with a smile. Approaching close by was a young man with just two words on his T-shirt: Clearly ambiguous. Certainly made me smile with its play on words. If I were to write on mine, it would be Beautifully simple or Simply beautiful which defines me, i. e., it says what I really am.

You can be very innovative with whatever message you want your T-shirt to display. My son-in-law David had SUPER LOLO for my husband Rudy, and NUMBER 1 LOLA for me — tags that encompass our TLC (tender loving care) for granddaughter Danika.

If I have to make a statement, a pronouncement, a call to action if you will, it would be Makibaka! Huwag matakot! donned not with false bravado, but with courage and grim determination to push for a truly just, egalitarian, and democratic society in our beloved Philippines.

And now, you, what does your T-shirt say? ([email protected]/PN)

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