i know that i was back, when the taxi driver at the airport asked me: asa ta bai?
as if some lightning jolted my reality. i quickly told the driver to drive me to sto.nino in matina. i smiled as the city lights of davao wizzed outside my window. i would have wished for a non-air taxi, but it seems only aircon taxis have manipulated the service at the airport. oh well.
on the ride to soniboi's new flat, i thought to myself: oh that is right, when we call someone bai, it means that person is an equal. as opposed to dong, toto, inday that were used as nicknames to call younger people. or to 'gang as a monicker for someone whom you have affections for. or to "kol" (short for uncle) or "te" (short for auntie or ate) or manong for people who are elder than you.
bai is the general term for someone you may or may not know whom you consider with respect. someone you honor the presence of. its like bringing both the speaker and the listener to a plane wherein connection can happen. it is when you talk to each other without rank, influence or authority. it gives you both the opportunity to look each other in the eye and listen to what the other has to say.
bai is also a term that draws the line of trust between bisdaks. you refer to someone you trust as a bai, even for someone whom you encounter, no matter how brief, yet that moment is significant enough for the both of you. its like in the jeepney, i reach into my coin purse, i produce php7 and pass it on to the driver (or to the conductor, for that matter) and say: palihug kog bayad bai. that moment when i pass on my fare, i consider the service important because i entrust my safety and the speed of travel to the hands of the driver.
i realized that being a bai is a privelege, for it connects someone to someone in a personal way. it doesn't matter how long the connection will last, but for how ever long it takes it immediately establishes the line of the engagement.
with that in mind, i called everyone i met "bai."
kapuy na bai, matulog sa ko.