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The allegory of Cinderella

Nothing has fascinated me more than the folktale Cinderella, how she came into the care of her cruel stepfamily, her evil stepmother, and the jealous stepsisters. As a young kid and young adult, we dream of our prince charming sweeping us off the ground and living happily ever after. But alas, it is not so.

Then I realize Cinderella is just an allegory. Webster defines allegory as a story with meaning other than the literal one; a description of one thing under the image of another.

Cinderella happens in real time and in the real world. I surmise Charles Perrault in 1697 wrote this folktale to symbolize his feelings, how he had struggled in the real world, and in present times, how one must recognize who his true and artificial friends are. In other words, “fake” relationships and friendships are mostly manifested in the corporate and real world. It is beautiful, sweet, and kind when they are in front of you and bitter and scheming when their backs are turned.

In the corporate world, it is cruel and unjust. It is expressed in the idiom “dog eat dog.” People will do anything to be on top. In the millennial jargon, dito lumalabas ang mga sipsip, ‘yung mga taong naglalaglag, ‘yung mga nang-iiwan sa ere, in their attempt to make you incompetent. When you are considered a threat, there will be attempts to pull you down. When you don’t know how to fight, when you are too trusting, you are a target for assassination, whether character or otherwise. Character assassination is not only done to besmirch your character. It can also be done by proving that you are incompetent. No amount of hard work, sacrifice, and dedication can surpass the evil attempts to put you down, especially so if you are alone and the people doing it are at the top. And if your boss does not like you, you might as well resign. It is not worth staying. People with mean intentions will always find something to put you down. Well, that is the name of the game, until karma intervenes.

This is the very essence that puts down the name of great companies. Because then the impression of one taints not only a part but the whole. Parang tumor lang ‘yan. If you allow it to grow without medication and attention, it easily spreads to adjoining cells.

The biggest job is on the head of office. Who will win? A leader solves the problem observing from the back of his team or herd, and not in front. Balancing the scale takes a lot of intuition and circumspection. Which side really tips the most? The ones who are really efficient, or the ones pretending to be? That is why a boss who is on top of the situation usually works with the crew from the bottom and investigates. You have to immerse yourself. But when you are a boss, deep in your heart, you would know. The question is, what would you do? Would you choose to cover your eyes and turn the other way and face it head on? The decision is yours. But you also have to be extremely cautious, because a powerful block can pull you down as well.

Let’s change the scenario and localize the story. Let’s change the characters. In the allegory of Cinderella, let’s make her “Sincere-ella,” the motivated newbie who just wants to work and prove her worth and talents. She is put in the embrace of her stepfamily, of course headed by a wicked stepmother (‘yung bang ang sarap talaga tirisin) and the cruel stepsisters (who whine and scheme).

Hopefully this story can help a lot of Sincere-ellas out there who are honestly trying to become a success, not to lose hope, but to keep on trying, to embrace the experience and grow with it. After all, life goes on.

In the Perrault story, Cinderella is an independent, persevering, suffering lass who was left at the care of her stepfamily. She works and survives with the help of her animal friends. In one magical moment, her fairy godmother appears with a pumpkin carriage, a beautiful gown, and glass slippers and is transformed in one magical event into a princess and meets prince charming and lives happily ever after. There are a thousand versions of Cinderella, it depends on what continent you are in. Sometimes there is a fairy godmother, sometimes there is none. The Grimm brothers even put a twist, making the ending a little cruel.

So the story goes, once upon a time in the far, far land of fantasia, Sincere-ella joined the world of corpo-landia. Here she met her stepfamily, her cruel step mother, and her two jealous stepsisters. The stepmother who played favorites, would always find fault in her work while turning a blind eye on the shortcomings of her daughters. She was always maligning her talents and making her insignificant.

Little by little Sincere-ella felt all alone. She felt no one was looking and no one cared. In the glorious fantasia world of corpo-landia, she found solace in her friends. And that mattered the most. In the comfort of their friendship, she found meaning and the strength to go on in search of her Prince Charming Sakto Successkoto. She was after all in the very prestigious world of corpo-landia. Every now and then her fairy godmother would appear. Sincere-ella did not want to make a fuss. She was independent and persevering and knew her work. Somehow her stepfamily was bewildered and threatened. Shrouded in the cloak of power, jealousy, and hidden agendas, they continued with their scheme. They put a veil on their senses and better judgment. Poor Sincere-ella was defeated from the very start. No matter how she tried, she was left alone and faulted. Alas, her stepmother was always trying to hinder her blossoming and growth. In other words bino- bonzai ang spirit niya. As the story goes, they were trying and trying to put her down until Sincere-ella found her voice. Her friends in the workforce knew the real score, but could not help her.

If you were Sincere-ella, what would be your next step? For those trying to make it the corporate world, what would you do? Especially, when your name becomes the target? Would you fight it out or just quietly fade away? However, Sincere-ella still finds corpo-landia – her fantansia land – beautiful and colorful. It has opened new experiences and here she found a lot of sincere friends and acquaintances. The Queen and her court are admirable. Sometimes it only takes a small group to taint the name of an otherwise happy place.

Watch out for Scarlet Letters from Baguio, a Poetry Slam for HIV awareness at Café by the Ruins Dua at Upper Session Road on May 19 at 6 p.m. The Baguio General Hospital HIV/AIDS Core Team will conduct free and confidential HIV counseling and testing. Jojet Mondares will open his “Plastic Bag Art: New Life” at the Alberto Hotel, Villamor Drive on May 18 at 5:30 p.m.

Congratulations and best wishes to Nicholo Tabora and Jacqueline Balajadia on their wedding day today. Wishes for a prosperous and happy life together. Congratulations, chairman Bong and Anna Lorraine.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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