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Your attention… please!

Nora Soriño

ILIGAN City – A priest, after delivering a long sermon to the faithful, called the sacristan.

“Do the collection,” he told the boy.

“‘But Father, we have already done the collection,” the boy protested.

“This time collect for their lodging,” the priest said.

The long sermon all but lulled the churchgoers to sleep. Meaning, their attention to what the priest had been saying had all long gone.

That, of course, is only a joke. And recently, at St. Michael Cathedral here, the Father officiating the Holy Eucharist told the faithful that Pope Francis had enjoined them that the maximum time for their homily, should at least be only 10 minutes. Meaning, the Pope has realized that the flock only has limited attention span. How right is the Pope. He really is infallible. Like the boss and the customer who are always right.

So that priest went with his homily and he was good at it, with the faithful hanging on to his every word. But he abruptly stopped because “my 10 minutes is up.” This sent ripples of laughter in the church.

Us, humans, we really have limited attention spans. And if the speaker we are hearing goes on saying things in English, we tend to have “nosebleeds” like we have been vaccinated with Dengvaxia. Excuse me. I’m only kidding, of course, to get your attention.

Relative to this, I remember this notice on a bulletin board in bold letters that you can read from afar: “SEX!” As one approaches, he is greeted with the words: “Now that I’ve got your attention, you are invited to this meeting…”

This is another joke, of course, to get some points across. Read on, please.

We all have something to say to people. But question is, will the “people” listen? This writer kind of think that people will listen if:

  1. The listeners are obliged. Like students, they get to listen to the teacher, specially if there’s an exam afterwards.
  2. The listeners are entertained.
  3. The speaker (or writer) evokes some other feelings in what he says, like laughter, sorrow, excitement, anger, frustration, whatever. As in there is “color” in what he says.

Consider President DU30. With his cuss words, “kill” words, “rape” words and lately, “vagina” words, one cannot help but listen, and analyze, and get amused, or frustrated, or angered at what he is saying especially that he is the President (because we have stereotype notions of what Presidents should say, or how he delivers  his messages).

Yet we are a curious people. Consider this story which reflects somewhat of what we are as a people: An American soldier, on being hit by a bullet says, “Long live America!” A Japanese says, “Bansai!” before he falls but a Pinoy on being hit by a bullet, say some cuss words as he falls to the ground.

Relative to this, I remember in a forum, a speaker did not have a visual aid in what he had to say on the topic he had to talk about unlike the other speakers before him who were complete with Powerpoint presentations that kept the listeners on focus of what they were saying. I soon found out that he was the visual aid himself. As he spoke about his topic, he did not stay in the rostrum, but kept going around the hall, and focused on somebody on the audience from time to time as if he was only talking to that person. He kept on bowing exaggeratedly, his head almost touching the floor, in an effort to stress some points. Oh,  how his listeners loved it although I wasn’t sure if they were really paying attention to what he was saying, or only to his gestures!

And now I can’t help but repeat this earth-shaking tale relative to this matter. Recently, in Washington, top US Democrat Nancy Pelosi made history sometime this month by delivering the longest address to the chamber in at least 108 years! She spoke for more than eight hours about protecting undocumented migrants from deportation in their beloved America. She took the floor at 10:04 am and began to speak. And she kept speaking. And speaking. And speaking. Eight hours and seven minutes later, at 6:11 pm, she relinquished the floor. Her fellow Democrats, high-fived her and her colleagues gave her a standing ovation, haha.

I told this to Dee, a 14-year old student, who asked: “Did they all listen?” I replied that I didn’t know because the narrative was on her, how she managed that, even if she is 78.

It’s like when you say, “The early bird catches worm,” and a kid asked, “How about the worm, what does he get for getting up early?”

A food for bird indeed, I mean, a food for thought. I still have many things to say but I guess, my “10 minutes is up!”


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TREND MAKER. Mindanao Gold Star Daily was established in 1989 to set ablaze a new meaning & flame to the local newspaper business. Throughout the years it continued its focus and interest in the rural areas & pioneered the growth of countryside journalism.

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