Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Rude Boys : Uncovered Files

lifted from
Writer's note: This article has been written for a previous class during my college days. I have taken the liberty of uploading this on this blog in hopes of reviewing my writing style and etcetera. Enjoy your bashing.

Jamaican culture is not so different with the Philippines’: densely populated, poverty-stricken, corrupt systems and not to mention highly thriving cultures of crime. Just recently, the nation was struck by a string of minor-related incidents of crime, not only having minors being the perpetrators but being the targets of crime themselves. Who can pass by the compounding news of disappearing children, mostly girls who are nowhere to be found? Some who surface are sometimes heard of being found in ravines, stuffed in chute sacks and inserted in between craggy overpass ceilings. These are but tales of horror that most people would only prefer to have heard from movie reviews, not on primetime news programs. Violence and crime is not endemic in the metro, both have grown like infestations; plaguing the streets and the minds of the common citizens. By all means, the government and the authorities of all sorts push for the eradication or control of the situation but it will be a long way to reach the end of the rope for this problem.

Bunny Livingston or Jah B of The Wailers, the band that made the young Bob Marley famous and put the Jamaican Rastafarian scene in the global map made songs just for the rude boys of Trench Town. Rude boys, being known for civil disobedience, juvenile delinquency and acts of crime all over Jamaica can be compared to the Punks of early 1980’s Britain, all in their youthful vigor and recklessness and apathy to social order. Baguio is home to these rudies too, only, under the guise of American gangsters, dressed in traditional Swoosh shoes and oversized pants and shirts. These rude boys roam the streets, hustling, racketeering and going against the elementary teachings in their GMRC classes. As many of these boys attended classes in elementary, most drop out of education by high school and continue their lives of lawlessness.

The difficulty in spotting these rudies lie in the fact that they are very young to be conceived of having ideas of breaking the laws of modern society. They come in packs, gangs, groups and crews. Picking out places to strike, choosing victims: establishments, stores, people and other gangs as well. Though they may not always be in conflict with other groups, its not far to imagine the clashes when they happen and often, they don’t end up in rap battles. Just imagine bicycle chains, lead pipes, padlocks, knuckle dusters and shanks and other sorts of improvised weapons intended to be used on rival groups and unsuspecting passers by.  


I remember the first time I saw these boys. All were dressed in classic uniforms of one-size-too-big shirts, most wore elephant pants in jeans or khakis and three-fourth shorts. Elevated in their Nike Swoosh kicks, they walk about in the air of youthful confidence and carefree air. Maybe, they see the Airmax shoes as a type of metaphor: untouched, lifted, un-grounded. All had big backpacks strapped on their shoulders and yet they seem to have nothing in them. Then, the seemingly big dog of the pack started reaching behind his pack, unfurling a bundle of nicked souvenir shirts emblazoned with PMA, Baguio City and Igorotak statement shirts. Other members of the group did the same, one particular kid looked like he just graduated from elementary school. 

Versed in the local vernacular, they started doing their sales talk, approaching different stalls at the same time. “Kayat mo manang? Uray syen lang” referring to the merchandise they brought with them (syen being slang for 100.) Haggling ensues and the kids end up giving their last price down to 60 pesos per shirt. After the goods were sold, the group split their profits even. There being three of them, I heard them split the money and scatter, lighting cigarettes bought with their hustled dough. And then they were gone, three rudies on a normal day.

Week after week, the kids doubled their sales, coming back at least every two days bringing in different merchandise: watches, shirts, jeans, cut-offs, shoes, perfume etc. Name it, most likely they’ve got it. They even offer different sizes for jeans and slippers as part of their regular inventory. More and more they grew close to the market people, even having regular customers and entertaining requests for their next jobs. As the number of their customers grew, so did the members of the group. From the original three, their numbers reached to as many as six or seven, depending on the next jobs they were going to do. I really wonder how these kids are able to nick so many items without getting caught. One time, they even brought backpacks, those 30-liter packs that can serve as weekend luggage.

No doubt, these kids are good at what they do. Not that I sort of encourage them in my mind but I can’t help but to think at how they get the guts to do those things… and with such impunity. Maharlika, Hi-ro, even local ukay-ukay shops are hit week after week in what seems to be a rotation of a wristwatch movement. As long as there’s money in it, these kids hit it. And there’s no stopping them, not even school days or being branded as magnanakaw or agtatakaw.

II. Point men

On the other hand, I have encountered another group of rudies, but they are not as obvious as the first. Actually, they are more of a duo rather than a group but of what I heard, there are really four of them in their operations. These kids are not drop-outs, rather, two of them are in school, college to be exact. They are the type of hustlers who deal with shady people. Those people who are afraid to be seen in daylight and prefer to deal only with a select point man, at a secure place and only on a secure mode of payment. These kids deal with illegal medication, organic stuff. These kids I’m talking about slip in Marijuana for a good deal of cash. Often, they organize meet-ups for money down transactions, keeping their distance from direct buyers and passing the message only through wire. They rarely go directly for cash exchanges, they get the money first before the goods are delivered.

The two boys I saw sport almost the same outfits as those from the first group, only they both have shaved heads and shallow eyes visible even in the poorly lit waiting shed illuminated only by a beam from an orange street lamp. Hurriedly and carefully, these kids show the goods; all packed in cheap transparent plastic sheets and crumpled brown paper bags. Then they ask the point man if they can shred a bit of the goods just for personal use and telling stories about how difficult it was to get a good stock recently. The point man obliges just to get the deal over with and leaves them with a “Don’t fuck with me” warning while getting the names of the two delivery boys. 

It was the dark of night, at around 10 pm, as the deal finished, the shadows of the two rudies meld with the shadows of the nearby houses, untouched by the faint glow of the street lamps. More likely, the two boys are off to buy beers for themselves for another deal closed, perhaps even have a celebratory joint in between gulps of alcohol.

“Rudie come from jail ‘cause
 Rudie get bail.
Rudie come from jail ‘cause
                                Rudie get bail**.”

Recently, talks about the suspension of Republic Act (RA) 9344 or the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act of 2006 have acted up. The main contention in the increasing crimes involving minors in the city may have been because of the said act. Some say that the law only pushes more minors to commit crimes in the stead of other people urging them due to the bill’s “lack of teeth.” This is because of the different penalties that the act imposes on the juvenile offenders. Minors get the lighter treatment since they cannot be brought to the fullest extent of the law as applicable to legal-aged perpetrators.

Minors in conflict with the law are not a new story. Back then, rudies have been in and out of juvenile centers in accordance to the dictation law. And they will continue to do so unless there is another viable way to get them out of trouble. A study* published in 2010 in the city implores the fact that Baguio is a highly urbanized area, that of which makes it a hotspot for crimes like theft, robbery and different kinds of minor-involved violence. This, mixed with the high poverty rate in the city concocts a possibly destructive combination. Street kids and hustlers find more refuge and justification in their ways. Poverty can be an easy answer for these children. And the fact that they probably seek understanding, belongingness and love that their own families fail to give them but they secretly and honestly long for, they will continue to be rudies in their own accord.

They’ll keep coming in and out, just like the protracted sounds of wailing voices and cho-wah melodies of a Jamaican tribute to the troubled and troublesome youth of days old and new.

Remember he is young, and he will live long.**

**Excerpt from Let Him Go by Bunny Livingston/ Jah B

Works cited:
*Tabangin D.R., Flores, J.C., & Emperador,N.F., (2010.) International Journal of Human and Social Science. Investigating Crime Hotspot Places and their Implication to Urban Environmental Design: A Geographic Visualization and Data Mining Approach.

Agreda, JM. (2011). SunStar Baguio. Youth representative: Amending juvenile law may worsen situation. Retrieved September 24, 2011 from:

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