In a town populated by a little more than 20,000 souls, my hometown, Lazi, is indeed very small. It is also located in an equally small island that is just lucky to be surrounded by bigger and more economically-progressive neighbors. While we are not very technologically-backward — we have electricity, mobile phone sites, and Internet connection — our electricity is crappy just like the most part of the nation. We are plagued by brownouts and blackouts that last, often, more than 3 hours a day. When these power outages occur, in order to entertain ourselves, we go out and talk.
I say, sometimes, we Lazihanons talk too long and too much, leaving hanging our tasks for the day. We are also chismosos and chismosas, not just in relation to show business news, but more so of neighborly news. We like to know what everybody is up to, often times, to the extent of invading other people’s privacy. But we Lazihanons are not private people, we are public. Everything about us is out in the open — or, if it is not yet out in the open, it is bound to come out in the open. Or if you think your private affairs are not yet out in the open, you will be the last person to know what everybody already knows what you are up to.
Talking too long and too much, though, has its “good side.” In a world of Internet and social media, where people create online personalities that are often not the same as their real ones, face-to-face communication creates a better sense of kinship, a deeper kind of bond, and a more concrete definition of community. Lazihanons are known to be open and helpful. Lazihanons anywhere in the world create mini-communities that resemble the communities they left back home, and these communities thrive in communications, reminiscing, and talking about many things, including people.
I am a Lazihanon, at heart, because I love talking. Walking up to strangers and asking them what they are up to. I am most especially interested in the ordinary man and woman. I am also equally interested in talking with fellow Lazihanons. In fact, when I see one in this city, I’d always stop and initiate a conversation, even if I only know the person by face or name. When I see a person close to me, now that calls for a sit-down conversation, or in the case of Lazihanons visiting me, a chikahan that will last the whole night. And, when you’ll ask me what we talked about, I’d probably forget, because we don’t talk about anything in particular. We talk about anything.