AS far as I can remember, I’ve always been mindful of dress codes. In my mind, the times when I either overdressed or underdressed were few and far between.
Of course, it has a lot to do with my job as a lifestyle journalist and a supposed purveyor of trends. Natch! But you don’t have to be into trends as an excuse to dress up properly. Common sense dictates that you honor your host and be mindful of the occasion by dressing the part.
In my case, it’s also a bonus because I’ve always enjoyed dressing up and looking trendy ever since I was little. Being considered trendy, of course, is highly debatable. But if you can’t be fashionable, the least you can do is to arrive neatly and properly dressed.
What was I thinking?
Having said that, I have to admit that I’ve had my share of what-was-he-thinking moments. In fact, I probably have more than I care to admit.
The latest happened in broad daylight at, of all places, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) in Quezon City. No, there was no formal luncheon or afternoon high tea with the PCSO chairman.
It happened while I was queuing up with the rest of humanity as we waited for our respective turns to be interviewed by PCSO’s pool of social workers.
We weren’t literally lining up under the sun, though. We were all comfortably seated in a huge open space waiting for our assigned numbers to flash on the screen. Once it did, that was our cue to proceed to our assigned social worker for a face-to-face interview.
As an aside, I mentioned to you briefly in an earlier post that my mother has breast cancer. I only learned recently that breast cancer comes in different forms. It just so happened that the type my mother has (HER-2 positive) is one of the most aggressive and most expensive types of breast cancers to cure.
Since her body is producing a certain protein called HER, which causes cells to reproduce wildly, she would be in need of 18 cycles of a supposed miracle drug called Herceptin on top of the usual four cycles of chemotherapy.
Forget estrogen therapy because both her estrogen and progesterone receptors are negative. In short, “popular” and more “affordable” after-chemo drugs for breast cancer patients like Tamoxifen would have no effect on her because she doesn’t produce the said hormones.
The problem with so-called miracles, especially those made by humans, is its price. A single vial of Herceptin hovers at P41,000. If a cycle consists of at least three vials of Herceptin, and my mother is up for 18 cycles over a period of two years, our finances would surely be wiped out even before we’re halfway through with the program. Even the fairly rich, except perhaps some of our esteemed senators and government officials, would have reason to pause and think.
We clearly needed another miracle—one that springs forth not from the human mind, but from the human heart. In other words, we need financial assistance and discounts from PCSO as well as Roche, makers of Herceptin, through its Roche Access Patient program.
To cut a long story short, that’s how I found myself lining up at PCSO one rainy August morning armed with good intentions and all sorts of supporting documents such as my mom’s histopath and her oncologist’s treatment protocol and medical abstract.
Despite the imaginary begging bowl I was supposed to be carrying, I seemed to have also mindlessly carried my middle-class sensibilities with me that day to PCSO. For one, I was probably one of the few people who drove to the venue.
But I wasn’t the only one, mind you. During the days I was there, PCSO’s parking space was always full. This underscores the fact that despite having their own vehicles, there are countless people out there like us who are still in need of financial assistance from PCSO due to a dreaded disease in the family.
My biggest mistake could be seen in one major detail on my person. No, I wasn’t wearing some flashy and trendy designer outfit. In fact, I was wearing a pair of sneakers, old jeans and a nondescript electric blue polo shirt that looked a lot like the uniforms of PCSO’s male employees.
Out of habit and convenience, I was also carrying with me an old Louis Vuitton Beaubourg tote stuffed with all the documents I needed to press my case.
Although the bag is designer stuff, it isn’t scandalously expensive. Perhaps, the Bag Hag and my good friend Chuvaness wouldn’t even give it a second look. Besides, I bought it a long time ago when my life seemed so carefree and gay.
But try telling all that to the social worker whom I was about to face. Good, if she didn’t care or notice. But what if she did, and makes a big deal out of it.
After waiting for almost three hours, it only dawned on me minutes before my turn that my bag’s iconic LV monogram could hurt my chances of getting much-needed financial assistance from PCSO. Some minor makeover was clearly in order.
With only a handful of people ahead of me before my turn, I hurriedly went to my car and ditched my LV tote in favor of—tadah!—a Bench-issued paper bag. Armed with hope and a prayer, I soon went inside the main building to see one of PCSO’s social workers with my new makeshift and environment-friendly sack filled with all sorts of papers.
It probably worked, as I eventually got what I was after a week or so later. Sociologists call it adapting to the milieu. I call it simply dressing the part. 🙂