Sunday, September 9, 2007

the mats

The Mats
By Francisco Arcellana

For the Angeles family, Mr. Angeles'; homecoming from his periodic inspection trips was always an occasion for celebration. But his homecoming--from a trip to the South--was fated to be more memorable than, say, of the others.

He had written from Mariveles: "I have just met a marvelous matweaver--a real artist--and I shall have a surprise for you. I asked him to weave a sleeping-mat for every one of the family. He is using many different colors and for each mat the dominant color is that of our respective birthstones. I am sure that the children will be very pleased. I know you will be. I can hardly wait to show them to you."

Nana Emilia read the letter that morning, and again and again every time she had a chance to leave the kitchen. In the evening when all the children were home from school she asked her oldest son, José, to read the letter at dinner table. The children became very much excited about the mats, and talked about them until late into the night. This she wrote her husband when she labored over a reply to him. For days after that, mats continued to be the chief topic of conversation among the children.

Finally, from Lopez, Mr. Angeles wrote again: "I am taking the Bicol Express tomorrow. I have the mats with me, and they are beautiful. God willing, I shall be home to join you at dinner."

The letter was read aloud during the noon meal. Talk about the mats flared up again like wildfire.

"I like the feel of mats," Antonio, the third child, said. "I like the smell of new mats."

"Oh, but these mats are different," interposed Susanna, the fifth child. "They have our names woven into them, and in our ascribed colors, too."

The children knew what they were talking about: they knew just what a decorative mat was like; it was not anything new or strange in their experience. That was why they were so excited about the matter. They had such a mat in the house, one they seldom used, a mat older than any one of them.

This mat had been given to Nana Emilia by her mother when she and Mr. Angeles were married, and it had been with them ever since. It had served on the wedding night, and had not since been used except on special occasions.

It was a very beautiful mat, not really meant to be ordinarily used. It had green leaf borders, and a lot of gigantic red roses woven into it. In the middle, running the whole length of the mat, was the lettering: Emilia y Jaime Recuerdo

The letters were in gold.

Nana Emilia always kept that mat in her trunk. When any one of the family was taken ill, the mat was brought out and the patient slept on it, had it all to himself. Every one of the children had some time in their lives slept on it; not a few had slept on it more than once.

Most of the time the mat was kept in Nana Emilia's trunk, and when it was taken out and spread on the floor the children were always around to watch. At first there had been only Nana Emilia to see the mat spread. Then a child--a girl--watched with them. The number of watchers increased as more children came.

The mat did not seem to age. It seemed to Nana Emilia always as new as when it had been laid on the nuptial bed. To the children it seemed as new as the first time it was spread before them. The folds and creases always new and fresh. The smell was always the smell of a new mat. Watching the intricate design was an endless joy. The children's pleasure at the golden letters even before they could work out the meaning was boundless. Somehow they were always pleasantly shocked by the sight of the mat: so delicate and so consummate the artistry of its weave.

Now, taking out that mat to spread had become a kind of ritual. The process had become associated with illness in the family. Illness, even serious illness, had not been infrequent. There had been deaths...

In the evening Mr. Angeles was with his family. He had brought the usual things home with him. There was a lot of fruits, as always (his itinerary carried him through the fruit-growing provinces): pineapples, lanzones, chicos, atis, santol, sandia, guyabano, avocado, according to the season. He had also brought home a jar of preserved sweets from Lopez.

Putting away the fruit, sampling them, was as usual accomplished with animation and lively talk. Dinner was a long affair. Mr. Angeles was full of stories about his trip but would interrupt his tales with: "I could not sleep nights thinking of the young ones. They should never be allowed to play in the streets. And you older ones should not stay out too late at night."

The stories petered out and dinner was over. Putting away the dishes and wiping the dishes and wiping the table clean did not at all seem tedious. Yet Nana and the children, although they did not show it, were all on edge about the mats.

Finally, after a long time over his cigar, Mr. Angeles rose from his seat at the head of the table and crossed the room to the corner where his luggage had been piled. From the heap he disengaged a ponderous bundle.

Taking it under one arm, he walked to the middle of the room where the light was brightest. He dropped the bundle and, bending over and balancing himself on his toes, he strained at the cord that bound it. It was strong, it would not break, it would not give way. He tried working at the knots. His fingers were clumsy, they had begun shaking.

He raised his head, breathing heavily, to ask for the scissors. Alfonso, his youngest boy, was to one side of him with the scissors ready.

Nana Emilia and her eldest girl who had long returned from the kitchen were watching the proceedings quietly.

One swift movement with the scissors, snip! and the bundle was loose.

Turning to Nana Emilia, Mr. Angeles joyfully cried: "These are the mats, Miling." Mr. Angeles picked up the topmost mat in the bundle.

"This, I believe, is yours, Miling."

Nana Emilia stepped forward to the light, wiping her still moist hands against the folds of her skirt, and with a strange young shyness received the mat. The children watched the spectacle silently and then broke into delighted, though a little self-conscious, laughter. Nana Emilia unfolded the mat without a word. It was a beautiful mat: to her mind, even more beautiful than the one she received from her mother on her wedding. There was a name in the very center of it: EMILIA. The letters were large, done in green. Flowers--cadena-de-amor--were woven in and out among the letters. The border was a long winding twig of cadena-de-amor.

The children stood about the spreading mat. The air was punctuated by their breathless exclamations of delight.

"It is beautiful, Jaime; it is beautiful!" Nana Emilia's voice broke, and she could not say any more.

"And this, I know, is my own," said Mr. Angeles of the next mat in the bundle. The mat was rather simply decorated, the design almost austere, and the only colors used were purple and gold. The letters of the name Jaime were in purple.

"And this, for your, Marcelina."

Marcelina was the oldest child. She had always thought her name too long; it had been one of her worries with regard to the mat. "How on earth are they going to weave all of the letters of my name into my mat?" she had asked of almost everyone in the family. Now it delighted her to see her whole name spelled out on the mat, even if the letters were a little small. Besides, there was a device above her name which pleased Marcelina very much. It was in the form of a lyre, finely done in three colors. Marcelina was a student of music and was quite a proficient pianist.

"And this is for you, José."

José was the second child. He was a medical student already in the third year of medical school. Over his name the symbol of Aesculapius was woven into the mat.

"You are not to use this mat until the year of your internship," Mr. Angeles was saying.

"This is yours, Antonia."

"And this is yours, Juan."

"And this is yours, Jesus."

Mat after mat was unfolded. On each of the children's mats there was somehow an appropriate device.

At least all the children had been shown their individual mats. The air was filled with their excited talk, and through it all Mr. Angeles was saying over and over again in his deep voice:

"You are not to use these mats until you go to the University."

Then Nana Emilia noticed bewilderingly that there were some more mats remaining to be unfolded.

"But Jaime," Nana Emilia said, wondering, with evident repudiation, "there are some more mats."

Only Mr. Angeles seemed to have heard Nana Emilia's words. He suddenly stopped talking, as if he had been jerked away from a pleasant fantasy. A puzzled, reminiscent look came into his eyes, superseding the deep and quiet delight that had been briefly there, and when he spoke his voice was different.

"Yes, Emilia," said Mr. Angeles, "There are three more mats to unfold. The others who aren't here..."

Nana Emilia caught her breath; there was a swift constriction in her throat; her face paled and she could not say anything.

The self-centered talk of the children also died. There was a silence as Mr. Angeles picked up the first of the remaining mats and began slowly unfolding it.

The mat was almost as austere in design as Mr. Angeles' own, and it had a name. There was no symbol or device above the name; only a blank space, emptiness.

The children knew the name. But somehow the name, the letters spelling the name, seemed strange to them.

Then Nana Emilia found her voice.

"You know, Jaime, you didn't have to," Nana Emilia said, her voice hurt and surely frightened.

Mr. Angeles held his tears back; there was something swift and savage in the movement.

"Do you think I'd forgotten? Do you think I had forgotten them? Do you think I could forget them?

"This is for you, Josefina!

"And this is for you, Victoria!

"And this is for you, Concepcion."

Mr. Angeles called the names rather than uttered them.

"Don't, Jaime, please don't," was all that Nana Emilia managed to say.

"Is it fair to forget them? Would it be just to disregard them?" Mr. Angeles demanded rather than asked.

His voice had risen shrill, almost hysterical; it was also stern and sad, and somehow vindictive. Mr. Angeles had spoken almost as if he were a stranger.

Also, he had spoken as if from a deep, grudgingly-silent, long-bewildered sorrow.

The children heard the words exploding in the silence. They wanted to turn away and not see the face of their father. But they could neither move nor look away; his eyes held them, his voice held them where they were. They seemed rooted to the spot.

Nana Emilia shivered once or twice, bowed her head, gripped her clasped hands between her thighs.

There was a terrible hush. The remaining mats were unfolded in silence. The names which were with infinite slowness revealed, seemed strange and stranger still; the colors not bright but deathly dull; the separate letters, spelling out the names of the dead among them, did not seem to glow or shine with a festive sheen as did the other living names.

the witch

The Witch

By Edilberto K. Tiempo

When I was twelve years old, I used to go to Libas, about nine kilometers from the town, to visit my favorite uncle, Tio Sabelo, the head teacher of the barrio school there. I like going to Libas because of the many things to eat at my uncle’s house: cane sugar syrup, candied meat of young coconut, corn and rice cakes, ripe jackfruit, guavas from trees growing wild on a hill not far from Tio Sabelo’s
house. It was through these visits that I heard many strange stories about Minggay Awok. Awok is the word for witch in southern Leyte. Minggay was known as a witch even beyond Libas, in five outlying sitios, and considering that not uncommonly a man’s nearest neighbor was two or three hills away, her notoriety was wide. Minggay lived in a small, low hut as the back of the creek separating the barrios of Libas and Sinit-an. It squatted like a soaked hen on a steep incline and below it, six or seven meters away, two trails forked, one going to Libas and the other to Mahangin, a mountain sitio. The hut leaned dangerously to the side where the creek water ate away large chunks of earth during the rainy season. It had two small openings, a small door through which Minggay probably had to stoop to pass, and a window about two feet square facing the creek. The window was screened by a frayed jute sacking which fluttered eerily even in the daytime.

What she had in the hut nobody seemed to know definitely. One daring fellow who boasted of having gone inside it when Minggay was out in her clearing on a hill nearby said he had seen dirty stoppered bottles hanging from the bamboo slats of the cogon thatch. Some of the bottles contained scorpions, centipedes, beetles, bumble bees, and other insects; others were filled with ash-colored powder and dark liquids. These bottles contained the paraphernalia of her witchcraft. Two or three small bottles she always had with her hanging on her waistband with a bunch of iron keys, whether she went to her clearing or to the creek to catch shrimps or gather fresh-water shells, or even when she slept.

It was said that those who had done her wrong never escaped her vengeance, in the form of festering carbuncles, chronic fevers that caused withering of the skin, or a certain disease of the nose that eventually ate the nose out. Using an incantation known only to her, Minggay would take out one insect from a bottle, soak it in colored liquid or roll it in powder, and with a curse let it go to the body of her victim; the insect might be removed and the disease cured only rarely through intricate rituals of an expensive tambalan.

Thus Minggay was feared in Libas and the surrounding barrios. There had been attempts to murder her, but in some mysterious way she always came out unscathed. A man set fire to her hut one night, thinking to burn her with it. The hut quickly burned down, but Minggay was unharmed. On another occasion a man openly declared that he had killed her, showing the blood-stained bolo with which he had stabbed her; a week later she was seen hobbling to her clearing. This man believed Minggay was the cause of the rash that his only child had been carrying for over a year. One day, so the story went, meeting his wife, Minggay asked to hold her child. She didn’t want to offend Minggay. As the witch gave the child back she said, “He has a very smooth skin.” A few days later the boy had skin eruptions all over his body that never left him.

Minggay’s only companions were a lean, barren sow and a few chickens, all of them charcoal black. The sow and the chickens were allowed to wander in the fields, and even if the sow dug up sweet potatoes and the chickens pecked rice or corn grain drying in the sun, they were not driven away by the neighbors because they were afraid to arouse Minggay’s wrath.

Besides the sow and the chickens, Minggay was known to have a wakwak and a sigbin. Those who claimed to have seen the sigbin described it as a queer animal resembling a kangaroo: the forelegs were shorter than the hind ones: its fanlike ears made a flapping sound when it walked. The wakwak was a nocturnal bird, as big and black as a crow. It gave out raucous cries when a person in the neighborhood had just died. The bird was supposed to be Minggay’s messenger, and the sigbin caried her to the grave; then the witch dug up the corpse and feasted on it. The times when I passed by the hut and saw her lean sow and her black chickens, I wondered if they transformed themselves into fantastic creatures at night. Even in the daytime I dreaded the possibility of meeting her; she might accost me on the trail near her hut, say something about my face or any part of it, and then I might live the rest of my life with a harelip, a sunken nose, or crossed eyes. But I never saw Minggay in her house or near the premises. There were times when I thought she was only a legend, a name to frighten children from doing mischief. But then I almost always saw her sow digging banana roots or wallowing near the trail and the black chickens scratching for worms or pecking grains in her yard, and the witch became very real indeed.

Once I was told to go to Libas with a bottle of medicine for Tio Sabelo’s sick wife. I started from the town at half past five and by the time I saw the balete tree across the creek from Minggay’s hut, I could hardly see the trail before me. The balete was called Minggay’s tree, for she was known to sit on one of the numerous twisting vines that formed its grotesque trunk to wait for a belated passer-by. The balete was a towering monstrous shadow; a firefly that flitted among the vines was an evil eye plucked out searching for its socket. I wanted to run back, but the medicine had to get to Tio Sabelo’s wife that night. I wanted to push through the thick underbrush to the dry part of the creek to avoid the balete, but I was afraid of snakes. I had discarded the idea of a coconut frond torch because the light would catch the attention of the witch, and when she saw it was only a little boy... Steeling myself I tried to whistle as I passed in the shadow of the balete, its overhanging vines like hairy arms ready to hoist and strangle me among the branches.

Emerging into the stony bed of the creek, I saw Minggay’s hut. The screen in the window waved in the faint light of the room and I thought I saw the witch peering behind it. As I started going up the trail by the hut, each moving clump and shadow was a crouching old woman. I had heard stories of Minggay’s attempts to waylay travelers in the dark and suck their blood. Closing my eyes twenty yards from the hut of the witch, I ran up the hill. A few meters past the hut I stumbled on a low stump. I got up at once and ran again. When I reached Tio Sabelo’s house I was very tired and badly shaken.

Somehow after the terror of the balete and the hut of the witch had lessened, although I always had the goose flesh whenever I passed by them after dusk. One moonlight night going home to town I heard a splashing of the water below Minggay’s house. I thought the sound was made by the witch, for she was seen to bathe on moonlit nights in the creek, her loose hair falling on her face. It was not Minggay I saw. It was a huge animal. I was about to run thinking it was the sigbin of the witch, but when I looked at it again, I saw that it was a carabao wallowing in the creek.

One morning I thought of bringing home shrimps to my mother, and so I went to a creek a hundred yards from Tio Sabelo’s house. I had with me my cousin’s pana, made of a long steel rod pointed at one end and cleft at the other and shot through the hollow of a bamboo joint the size of a finger by means of a rubber band attached to one end of the joint. After wading for two hours in the creek which meandered around bamboo groves and banban and ipil clumps with only three small shrimps strung on a coconut midrib dangling from my belt, I came upon an old woman taking a bath in the shade of a catmon tree. A brown tapis was wound around her to three fingers width above her thin chest. The bank of her left was a foot-wide ledge of unbroken boulder on which she had set a wooden basin half full of wet but still unwashed clothes.

In front of her was a submerged stone pile topped by a platter size rock; on it were a heap of shredded coconut meat, a small discolored tin basin, a few lemon rinds, and bits of pounded gogo bark. The woman was soaking her sparse gray hair with the gogo suds. She must have seen me coming because she did not look surprised.

Seeing the three small shrimps hanging at my side she said, “You have a poor catch.”

She looked kind. She was probably as old as my grandmother; smaller, for this old woman was two or three inches below five feet. Her eyes looked surprisingly young, but her mouth, just a thin line above the little chin, seemed to have tasted many bitter years.

“Why don’t you bait them out of their hiding? Take some of this.” She gave me a handful of shredded coconut meat whose milk she had squeezed out and with the gogo suds used on her hair.

She exuded a sweet wood fragrance of gogo bark and the rind of lemons. “Beyond the first bend,” she said pointing, “the water is still. Scatter the shreds there. That’s where I get my shrimps. You will see some traps. If you find shrimps in them they are yours.”

I mumbled my thanks and waded to the bend she had indicated. That part of the creek was like a small lake. One bank was lined by huge boulders showing long, deep fissures where the roots of gnarled dapdap trees had penetrated. The other bank was sandy, with bamboo and catmon trees leaning over, their roots sticking out in the water. There was good shade and the air had a twilight chilliness. The water was shallow except on the rocky side, which was deep and murky.

I scattered the coconut shreds around, and not long after they had settled down shrimps crawled from boles under the bamboo and catmon roots and from crevices of the boulders. It did not take me an hour to catch a midribful, some hairy with age, some heavy with eggs, moulters, dark magus, leaf-green shrimps, speckled.

I saw three traps of woven bamboo strips, round-bellied and about two feet long, two hidden behind a catmon root. I did not disturb them because I had enough shrimps for myself.

“No, no, iti. Your mother will need them. You don’t have enough. Besides I have freshwater crabs at home.” She looked up at me with her strange young eyes and asked, “Do you still have a mother?”

I told her I had, and a grandmother, too.

“You are not from Libas, I think. This is the first time I have seen you.”

I said I was from the town and my uncle was the head teacher of the Libas barrio school.

“You remind me of my son when he was your age. He had bright eyes like you, and his voice was soft like yours. I think you are a good boy.”

“Where is your son now?”

“I have not heard from him since he left. He went away when he was seventeen. He left in anger, because I didn’t want him to marry so young. I don’t know where he went, where he is.”

She spread the length of a kimona on the water for a last rinsing. The flesh hanging from her skinny arms was loose and flabby.

“If he’s still living,” she went on, “he’d be as old as your father maybe. Many times I feel in my bones he is alive, and will come back before I die.”

“Your husband is still living?”

“He died a long time ago, when my boy was eleven.”

She twisted the kimona like a rope to wring out the water.

“I’m glad he died early. He was very cruel.”

I looked at her, at the thin mouth, wondering about her husband’s cruelty, disturbed by the manner she spoke about it.

“Do you have other children?”

“I wish I had. Then I wouldn’t be living alone.”

A woman her age, I thought, should be a grandmother and live among many children.

“Where do you live?”

She did not speak, but her strange young eyes were probing and looked grotesque in the old woman’s face. “Not far from here--the house on the high bank, across the balete.”

She must have seen the fright that suddenly leaped into my face, for I thought she smiled at me queerly.

“I’m going now,” I said.

I felt her following me with her eyes; indeed they seemed to bore a hot hole between my shoulder blades. I did not look back. Don’t run, I told myself. But at the first bend of the creek, when I knew she couldn’t see me, I ran. After a while I stopped, feeling a little foolish. Such a helpless-looking little old woman couldn’t be Minggay, couldn’t be the witch. I remembered her kind voice and the woodfragrance. She could be my own grandmother.

As I walked the string of shrimps kept brushing against the side of my leg. I detached it from my belt and looked at the shrimps. Except for the three small ones, all of them belonged to the old woman. Her coconut shreds had coaxed them as by magic out of their hiding. The protruding eyes of the biggest, which was still alive, seemed to glare at me---and then they became the eyes of the witch. Angrily, I hurled the shrimps back into the creek.

wedding dance

Wedding Dance

By Amador Daguio

Awiyao reached for the upper horizontal log which served as the edge of the headhigh threshold. Clinging to the log, he lifted himself with one bound that carried him across to the narrow door. He slid back the cover, stepped inside, then pushed the cover back in place. After some moments during which he seemed to wait, he talked to the listening darkness.

"I'm sorry this had to be done. I am really sorry. But neither of us can help it."

The sound of the gangsas beat through the walls of the dark house like muffled roars of falling waters. The woman who had moved with a start when the sliding door opened had been hearing the gangsas for she did not know how long. There was a sudden rush of fire in her. She gave no sign that she heard Awiyao, but continued to sit unmoving in the darkness.

But Awiyao knew that she heard him and his heart pitied her. He crawled on all fours to the middle of the room; he knew exactly where the stove was. With bare fingers he stirred the covered smoldering embers, and blew into the stove. When the coals began to glow, Awiyao put pieces of pine on them, then full round logs as his arms. The room brightened.

"Why don't you go out," he said, "and join the dancing women?" He felt a pang inside him, because what he said was really not the right thing to say and because the woman did not stir. "You should join the dancers," he said, "as if--as if nothing had happened." He looked at the woman huddled in a corner of the room, leaning against the wall. The stove fire played with strange moving shadows and lights
upon her face. She was partly sullen, but her sullenness was not because of anger or hate.

"Go out--go out and dance. If you really don't hate me for this separation, go out and dance. One of the men will see you dance well; he will like your dancing, he will marry you. Who knows but that, with him, you will be luckier than you were with me."

"I don't want any man," she said sharply. "I don't want any other man."

He felt relieved that at least she talked: "You know very well that I won't want any other woman either. You know that, don't you? Lumnay, you know it, don't you?"

She did not answer him.

"You know it Lumnay, don't you?" he repeated.

"Yes, I know," she said weakly.

"It is not my fault," he said, feeling relieved. "You cannot blame me; I have been a good husband to you."

"Neither can you blame me," she said. She seemed about to cry.

"No, you have been very good to me. You have been a good wife. I have nothing to say against you." He set some of the burning wood in place. "It's only that a man must have a child. Seven harvests is just too long to wait. Yes, we have waited too long. We should have another chance before it is too late for both of us."

This time the woman stirred, stretched her right leg out and bent her left leg in. She wound the blanket more snugly around herself.

"You know that I have done my best," she said. "I have prayed to Kabunyan much. I have sacrificed many chickens in my prayers."

"Yes, I know."

"You remember how angry you were once when you came home from your work in the terrace because I butchered one of our pigs without your permission? I did it to appease Kabunyan, because, like you, I wanted to have a child. But what could I do?"

"Kabunyan does not see fit for us to have a child," he said. He stirred the fire. The spark rose through the crackles of the flames. The smoke and soot went up the ceiling.

Lumnay looked down and unconsciously started to pull at the rattan that kept the split bamboo flooring in place. She tugged at the rattan flooring. Each time she did this the split bamboo went up and came down with a slight rattle. The gong of the dancers clamorously called in her care through the walls.

Awiyao went to the corner where Lumnay sat, paused before her, looked at her bronzed and sturdy face, then turned to where the jars of water stood piled one over the other. Awiyao took a coconut cup and dipped it in the top jar and drank. Lumnay had filled the jars from the mountain creek early that evening.

"I came home," he said. "Because I did not find you among the dancers. Of course, I am not forcing you to come, if you don't want to join my wedding ceremony. I came to tell you that Madulimay, although I am marrying her, can never become as good as you are. She is not as strong in planting beans, not as fast in cleaning water jars, not as good keeping a house clean. You are one of the best wives in the
whole village."

"That has not done me any good, has it?" She said. She looked at him lovingly. She almost seemed to smile.

He put the coconut cup aside on the floor and came closer to her. He held her face between his hands and looked longingly at her beauty. But her eyes looked away. Never again would he hold her face. The next day she would not be his any more. She would go back to her parents. He let go of her face, and she bent to the floor again and looked at her fingers as they tugged softly at the split bamboo floor.

"This house is yours," he said. "I built it for you. Make it your own, live in it as long as you wish. I will build another house for Madulimay."

"I have no need for a house," she said slowly. "I'll go to my own house. My parents are old. They will need help in the planting of the beans, in the pounding of the rice."

"I will give you the field that I dug out of the mountains during the first year of our marriage," he said. "You know I did it for you. You helped me to make it for the two of us."

"I have no use for any field," she said.

He looked at her, then turned away, and became silent. They were silent for a time.

"Go back to the dance," she said finally. "It is not right for you to be here. They will wonder where you are, and Madulimay will not feel good. Go back to the dance."

"I would feel better if you could come, and dance---for the last time. The gangsas are playing."

"You know that I cannot."

"Lumnay," he said tenderly. "Lumnay, if I did this it is because of my need for a child. You know that life is not worth living without a child. The man have mocked me behind my back. You know that."

"I know it," he said. "I will pray that Kabunyan will bless you and Madulimay."

She bit her lips now, then shook her head wildly, and sobbed.

She thought of the seven harvests that had passed, the high hopes they had in the beginning of their new life, the day he took her away from her parents across the roaring river, on the other side of the mountain, the trip up the trail which they had to climb, the steep canyon which they had to cross. The waters boiled in her mind in forms of white and jade and roaring silver; the waters tolled and growled,
resounded in thunderous echoes through the walls of the stiff cliffs; they were far away now from somewhere on the tops of the other ranges, and they had looked carefully at the buttresses of rocks they had to step on---a slip would have meant death.

They both drank of the water then rested on the other bank before they made the final climb to the other side of the mountain.

She looked at his face with the fire playing upon his features---hard and strong, and kind. He had a sense of lightness in his way of saying things which often made her and the village people laugh. How proud she had been of his humor. The muscles where taut and firm, bronze and compact in their hold upon his skull---how frank his bright eyes were. She looked at his body the carved out of the mountains
five fields for her; his wide and supple torso heaved as if a slab of shining lumber were heaving; his arms and legs flowed down in fluent muscles--he was strong and for that she had lost him.

She flung herself upon his knees and clung to them. "Awiyao, Awiyao, my husband," she cried. "I did everything to have a child," she said passionately in a hoarse whisper. "Look at me," she cried. "Look at my body. Then it was full of promise. It could dance; it could work fast in the fields; it could climb the mountains fast. Even now it is firm, full. But, Awiyao, I am useless. I must die."

"It will not be right to die," he said, gathering her in his arms. Her whole warm naked naked breast quivered against his own; she clung now to his neck, and her hand lay upon his right shoulder; her hair flowed down in cascades of gleaming darkness.

"I don't care about the fields," she said. "I don't care about the house. I don't care for anything but you. I'll have no other man."

"Then you'll always be fruitless."

"I'll go back to my father, I'll die."

"Then you hate me," he said. "If you die it means you hate me. You do not want me to have a child. You do not want my name to live on in our tribe."

She was silent.

"If I do not try a second time," he explained, "it means I'll die. Nobody will get the fields I have carved out of the mountains; nobody will come after me."

"If you fail--if you fail this second time--" she said thoughtfully. The voice was a shudder. "No--no, I don't want you to fail."

"If I fail," he said, "I'll come back to you. Then both of us will die together. Both of us will vanish from the life of our tribe."

The gongs thundered through the walls of their house, sonorous and faraway.

"I'll keep my beads," she said. "Awiyao, let me keep my beads," she half-whispered.

"You will keep the beads. They come from far-off times. My grandmother said they come from up North, from the slant-eyed people across the sea. You keep them, Lumnay. They are worth twenty fields."

"I'll keep them because they stand for the love you have for me," she said. "I love you. I love you and have nothing to give."

She took herself away from him, for a voice was calling out to him from outside. "Awiyao! Awiyao! O Awiyao! They are looking for you at the dance!"

"I am not in hurry."

"The elders will scold you. You had better go."

"Not until you tell me that it is all right with you."

"It is all right with me."

He clasped her hands. "I do this for the sake of the tribe," he said.

"I know," she said.

He went to the door.


He stopped as if suddenly hit by a spear. In pain he turned to her. Her face was in agony. It pained him to leave. She had been wonderful to him. What was it that made a man wish for a child? What was it in life, in the work in the field, in the planting and harvest, in the silence of the night, in the communing with husband and wife, in the whole life of the tribe itself that made man wish for the laughter and speech of a child? Suppose he changed his mind? Why did the unwritten law demand, anyway, that a man, to be a man, must have a child to come after him? And if he was fruitless--but he loved Lumnay. It was like taking away of his life to leave her like this.

"Awiyao," she said, and her eyes seemed to smile in the light. "The beads!" He turned back and walked to the farthest corner of their room, to the trunk where they kept their worldly possession---his battle-ax and his spear points, her betel nut box and her beads. He dug out from the darkness the beads which had been given to him by his grandmother to give to Lumnay on the beads on, and tied them in place. The white and jade and deep orange obsidians shone in the firelight. She suddenly clung to him, clung to his neck as if she would never let him go.

"Awiyao! Awiyao, it is hard!" She gasped, and she closed her eyes and huried her face in his neck.

The call for him from the outside repeated; her grip loosened, and he buried out into the night.

Lumnay sat for some time in the darkness. Then she went to the door and opened it. The moonlight struck her face; the moonlight spilled itself on the whole village.

She could hear the throbbing of the gangsas coming to her through the caverns of the other houses. She knew that all the houses were empty that the whole tribe was at the dance. Only she was absent. And yet was she not the best dancer of the village? Did she not have the most lightness and grace? Could she not, alone among all women, dance like a bird tripping for grains on the ground, beautifully
timed to the beat of the gangsas? Did not the men praise her supple body, and the women envy the way she stretched her hands like the wings of the mountain eagle now and then as she danced? How long ago did she dance at her own wedding? Tonight, all the women who counted, who once danced in her honor, were dancing now in honor of another whose only claim was that perhaps she could give her
husband a child.

"It is not right. It is not right!" she cried. "How does she know? How can anybody know? It is not right," she said.

Suddenly she found courage. She would go to the dance. She would go to the chief of the village, to the elders, to tell them it was not right. Awiyao was hers; nobody could take him away from her. Let her be the first woman to complain, to denounce the unwritten rule that a man may take another woman. She would tell Awiyao to come back to her. He surely would relent. Was not their love as strong as the

She made for the other side of the village where the dancing was. There was a flaming glow over the whole place; a great bonfire was burning. The gangsas clamored more loudly now, and it seemed they were calling to her. She was near at last. She could see the dancers clearly now. The man leaped lightly with their gangsas as they circled the dancing women decked in feast garments and beads, tripping on the ground like graceful birds, following their men. Her heart warmed to the flaming call of the dance; strange heat in her blood welled up, and she started to run. But the gleaming brightness of the bonfire commanded her to stop. Did anybody see her approach?
She stopped. What if somebody had seen her coming? The flames of the bonfire leaped in countless sparks which spread and rose like yellow points and died out in the night. The blaze reached out to her like a spreading radiance. She did not have the courage to break into the wedding feast.

Lumnay walked away from the dancing ground, away from the village. She thought of the new clearing of beans which Awiyao and she had started to make only four moons before. She followed the trail above the village.

When she came to the mountain stream she crossed it carefully. Nobody held her hand, and the stream water was very cold. The trail went up again, and she was in the moonlight shadows among the trees and shrubs. Slowly she climbed the mountain.

When Lumnay reached the clearing, she cold see from where she stood the blazing bonfire at the edge of the village, where the wedding was. She could hear the far-off clamor of the gongs, still rich in their sonorousness, echoing from mountain to mountain. The sound did not mock her; they seemed to call far to her, to speak to her in the language of unspeaking love. She felt the pull of their gratitude for her
sacrifice. Her heartbeat began to sound to her like many gangsas.

Lumnay though of Awiyao as the Awiyao she had known long ago-- a strong, muscular boy carrying his heavy loads of fuel logs down the mountains to his home. She had met him one day as she was on her way to fill her clay jars with water. He had stopped at the spring to drink and rest; and she had made him drink the cool mountain water from her coconut shell. After that it did not take him long to decide to throw his spear on the stairs of her father's house in token on his desire to marry her.

The mountain clearing was cold in the freezing moonlight. The wind began to stir the leaves of the bean plants. Lumnay looked for a big rock on which to sit down. The bean plants now surrounded her, and she was lost among them.

A few more weeks, a few more months, a few more harvests---what did it matter? She would be holding the bean flowers, soft in the texture, silken almost, but moist where the dew got into them, silver to look at, silver on the light blue, blooming whiteness, when the morning comes. The stretching of the bean pods full length from the hearts of the wilting petals would go on.

Lumnay's fingers moved a long, long time among the growing bean pods.


by Alberto Florentino


Ang lihim na pag-iibigan nina
Pepe Rizal at Segunda Katigbak

Isinadula ni Alberto Florentino
batay sa "Memorias de un Estudiante"*
na sinulat ni Jose Rizal

© Karapatang-ari 2000 ni Alberto Florentino

Ang Eksena
Ang kalsada patungong Batangas. Makikita sa malayo ang isang binatilyo na nakasakay sa puting kabayo.

Tinig ng Taga-salaysay:
Noong kanyang kabataan, mula 1878 hanggang 1881, sumulat si Jose Rizal ng isang talambuhay, "Memorias de un Estudiante," tungkol sa kanyang buhay bilang isang mag-aaral sa Ateneo de Manila sa Intramuros, Maynila. Ginamit niya ang sagisag na "P. Jacinto."
Ang sumusunod na madulaing tagpo na tawagin nating "isang dagli," na pinamagatang "Ang Dalagita't ang Binatilyo," kinatha ni Alberto Florentino batay sa nasabing talambuhay. Ang dula ay tungkol sa samandaling pakikipag-kaibigan at pakikipag-ibigan ng binatilyong si Pepe Rizal at dalagitang si Segunda Katigbak.
Unang itinanghal itong maikling dula noong 1970s sa Rizal Park Open-Air Auditorium sa Luneta, sa direksiyon ng mandudula. Ang gumanap ay sina Ariosto Reyes sa papel na Pepe Rizal at Leila Florentino sa papel na Segunda Katigbak.


Para kay Leila,
na siyang unang gumanap sa papel na Segunda

POOK: Sa harapan ng Colegio de Concordia sa Intramuros, Maynila

(Mangyayari ang eksena sa harapan ng Colegio de la Concordia sa Intramuros, Maynila, taong 1882. Sa likod, makikita ang iskwela. Isang maliit na glorietta na may iskayolang inuman ng mga kalapati. Isang bahay-kalapati at mga kalapati na naglisaw—nagliligawan, naghahabulan, naglalaro, at umiinum sa tubigan.)

(Si Pepe ay may 19 taong gulang at si Segunda, 16 o 17.)

(Si Segunda ay nakasuot ng isang saya na tinawag ngayong "Maria Clara." Papasok si Segunda na kasama ng ilan sa kanyang mga kaiskwela at kaibigan na nakasuot ng karaniwang uniporme ng kanila eskuwela.)

Kaibigan 1
. Naku, Segunda, ang ganda mo kanina!

Segunda. Kanina lang? Eh ngayon?

Kaibigan 2. At ang ganda mong sumayaw!

Segunda. Siempre naman!

Kaibigan 3. At ang guwapo din ng iyong katambal!
(Isang sandali)

Kaibigan 1. O, ano, Segunda, balitaan mo naman kami.

Kaibigan 2. Oo nga naman. Kailan ba?

Kaibigan 3. Tuloy ba?

Kaibigan 4. At siya na bang talaga?
(Isang sandali)

Kaibigan 2. Hindi ka pa ba magpapalit ng suot?

Segunda. Hinihintay ko si Pepe …

Kaibigan 3. Si Pepe? Bakit hindi si—

Kaibigan 4. Huwag mong sabihing—

Segunda. Hoy, huwag nga kayong mag-umpisa ng sali-salita. Walang ibig sabihin ito.

Kaibigan 2. Bakit nga ba si Pepe Rizal?

Segunda. Nangako ako na matapos ang velada, iguguhit niya ang aking larawan habang naka-suot ako nito.

Kaibigan 3. Ang suwerte mo sa mga kalalakihan, Segunda …

Segunda. Kaya … pagdating niya, iwan n'yo 'ko, ha?

Kaibigan 4. Kung iyan ba'ng gusto mo e …

Segunda. Alam naman ninyo na masyado siyang mahiyain. O, ayan na siya!

Mga Kaibigan (lahat sila). O sige— … Aalis na kami … Basta lang imbitahin mo kaming lahat sa malaking piging!

Segunda. Adios!

(Mag-aalisan silang lahat. Bubuksan ni Segunda ang dalang supot na puno ng mais at palay. Isasabog niya ito at papakainin ang mga kalapati.)

(Papasok si Pepe na nakasuot ng uniporme ng mga estudianteng lalaki: puting "amerikana serrada" at sombrero. May dala siyang ilang pirasong papel at mga lapis o krayola. Sa kanyang pagdating, mabubulabog ang mga kalapati.)

(Ilalapag ni Pepe ang kanyang sombrero sa damo at maghahanda siya sa pag-guhit. Hindi siya mapalagay.)

Pepe. Siyanga pala, Segunda …

Segunda. Ano 'yon, Pepe?

Pepe. Binabati kita sa inyong sayaw kanina.

Segunda. Salamat naman …
(Isang sandali)

Segunda. Matagal ba ito, Pepe?

Pepe. Hindi naman …

Segunda. Kasi … mainit itong suot ko. Ayaw mo ba ako iguhit sa aking uniporme?

Pepe. Mas maganda kung ganito'ng suot mo … Nagmamadali ka ba?

Segunda. Hindi naman. Baka biglang dumating ang aking sundo—

Pepe. Huwag kang mag-alala. Di ito magtatagal.

(Aayusin ni Segunda ang kanyang suot at ang kanyang pagkakaupo. Nakatayong pupuwesto si Pepe sa harapan, at mag-uumpisa ng pag-guhit. Habang gumuguhit, wala siyang kibo.)

Segunda. Pepe … sino ba’ng katipan mo?

Pepe. Huwag ka sanang malikot, Segunda.

Segunda. Ni hindi ba ‘ko maaaring magsalita?

Pepe. Maaari. Huwag ka lang masyadong malikot.
(Isang sandali)

Segunda. Ang tanong ko sa iyo … sino ‘kakong katipan mo?
(Mapapatigil sandali si Pepe.)

Pepe. A, wala… Wala akong katipan.

Segunda. Bakit naman? Wala ka bang napupusuan sa mga kadalagahan?

Pepe. Ah, basta wala.

Segunda. Bakit nga?

Pepe. Pagkat ni minsan … di ko pinag-isipan na ako—sa hitsura kong ito—ay papansinin ng sino mang dilag …

Segunda. Bakit naman?

Pepe. Sino sa kanila—lalo na ang mga maririlag—ang papatol sa akin?

Segunda. Bakit naman napakababa ng pagtingin mo sa ‘yong sarili?
(Isang sandali)

Segunda. Kung gusto mo, Pepe … ihahanap kita—

Pepe. Ng ano?

Segunda. Ng isang magiging katipan mo. Ang dami ko yatang mga kaibigan na kay gaganda! Pihong isa sa kanila ay mapupusuan mo … at mapupusuan ka rin.

Pepe. Imposible! Mahirap mangyari! Ibahin nga natin ang usapan. Ikaw naman ang matanong ko. Mayroon ka bang … katipan?

(Matitigilan si Segunda at biglang lulungkot ang kanyang mukha.)

Segunda. Wala ka bang alam, Pepe?

Pepe. Na ano?

Segunda. Tungkol sa akin? Wala bang nababanggit sa’yo ang kapatid ko?

Pepe. Si Mariano? Wala.

Segunda. Magtapat ka sa ‘kin!
(Isang sandali)

Pepe. Minsan … mayroon siyang nabanggit sa akin … na may katipan ka na raw …

(Hindi sasagot si Segunda. Tatapusin niya ang ginagawa niyang papel na bulaklak.)

Pepe. At nalalapit na raw ang araw ng inyong… pag-iisang-dibdib. Totoo ba ito? At kailan ang kasal? Totoo ba na uuwi ka sa inyo sa Lipa ngayong bakasyon at di na muling babalik sa Maynila?

Segunda. Gusto ko sanang tumigil pa rito upang ipagpatuloy ang aking pag-aaral … ngunit ang mga magulang ko …

Pepe. Gusto nilang papagtaliin ang inyong dibdib? Pinipilit ka ba nila?

Segunda. Hindi naman. Bakit mo natanong iyan?

Pepe. Kung gayon, ikaw ang may kagustuhan nito?
(Magkikibit ng balikat ang dalagita.)

Segunda. Ang lagay ay … nakikinig lang ako sa mga nakakatanda sa ‘tin.

Pepe. Kailangan bang sundin ang mga magulang sa lahat ng panahon? At sa lahat ng bagay?

Segunda. Oo, sapagkat nakakatanda sila sa atin … at alam nila kung ano ang nararapat para sa atin.

Pepe. Maski na tungkol ito sa mga bagay na may kinalaman sa puso? Gaya ng… kung sino ang nararapat para sa atin?

Segunda. Lalo na. Pagkakatiwalaan ko na muna sila bago ang aking sarili.

Pepe. Bakit?

Segunda. Maaaring mas tama sila pagkat di sila nabubulagan …

Pepe. At maaari ding magkamali sila, di ba?

Segunda. Maaari din …

Pepe. At malalaman mo ito—na tama ka at sila ay mali—kung kailan huli na ang lahat? Kung kailan naaksaya na ang kalahati ng iyong buhay? At marahil wala ka nang magagawa?

Segunda. Ano pa nga ba ang magagawa ng isa kung tinalagang mangyari ang ganoon?

Pepe. Kailan ang uwi mo ngayong bakasyon?

Segunda. Sa Sabado. Isang grupo kami na magsasabay-sabay. Ikaw?

Pepe. Uuwi rin ako sa amin sa Calamba.

Segunda. Bakit di pa tayo magsabay-sabay? Ibababa ka namin sa Calamba. Kasya sa aming carromata ang isa pang katao.

Pepe. Naipangako ko kasi sa aking Mama na Biyernes ang uwi ko.

Segunda. Kung maaari din lang, bakit di mo gawing Sabado? Baka huli na ang Biyernes …

Pepe. Ano'ng ibig mong sabihin?

Segunda. Para nga makasabay ka sa amin.

Pepe. Hayaan mo at titingnan ko.

(Iaabot ni Pepe kay Segunda ang larawan na ginuhit niya.)

Pepe. O, et o… Ipagpaumanhin mo sana kung di ko nahuli ang taal mong kariktan.

(Titingnan at kikipkipin ni Segunda ang larawan sa kanyang dibdib. Titingin siya kay Pepe nang walang patumangga.)

Segunda. Maraming salamat, Pepe.

(Bilang kapalit ng larawang iginuhit ni Pepe, kukunin ni Segunda ang sombrero na nakalapag sa damo, isusuksok ang papel na bulaklak sa banda, at iaabot ito kay Pepe. Magsasalita si Pepe, animo kausap niya ang bulaklak sa kanyang sombrero na hawak-hawak niya. Nakatitig siya sa bulaklak habang sinasabi ang sumusunod.)

Pepe. Alam mo ba, Segunda … na ikalulungkot ko nang labis … ikauulila ko … kung mangyaring … mawala ka … sa buhay ko? Ngayon pa namang… nagkakilala na tayo at … at …

Segunda. At ano, Pepe?

(Biglang tutugtog ang kampana ng simbahan bilang tanda ng agunyas. Mabubulabog ang mga kalapati at magliliparan sila sa bakuran ng escuela. Susundan ng kanilang mata ang mga naglipanang ibon.)

(Nakahanda nang lumikas si Segunda.)

Pepe. Segunda …

Segunda. Paalam na … Pepe. Paalam!

Pepe. Bakit paalam? Di ba magkikita pa tayo? Sa inyo sa Lipa … kung di man dito sa—

(Tatakbo ang dalagita na dala-dala ang lahat ng kanyang kagamitan.)

Pepe. (pahabol) Segunda!

(Titigil at lilingon si Segunda. Lalapit si Pepe kay Segunda.)

Segunda. Ano iyon, Pepe?

Pepe. Segunda …

Segunda. Magsalita ka, Pepe.

Pepe. Segunda …

Segunda. Pepe, nariyan ang sundo ko.

Pepe. Anong oras ang daan ninyo sa bukana ng Calamba?

Segunda. Marahil sa ganitong oras din.

Pepe. Baka abangan ko ang inyong carromata sa daan papuntang Lipa.

Segunda. Bakit pa? Sayang lang ang panahon mo! At … mabibigo … mabibigo lang siya …

Pepe. Sino?

Segunda. Ang iyong Mama.

(Biglang tatalikod at tatalilis si Segunda.) Susundan ng tingin ni Pepe ang dalagita.)

Pepe. Segunda!

. . .

Tinig ng Taga-salaysay
Gaya ng ipinangako niya, sa takdang oras sa sumunod na Sabado, si Pepe, sakay ng kanyang puting kabayo, ay nagtungo sa bukana ng Calamba, sa daan papuntang Batangas.
Nagbakasakali siyang makita niya ang carromata na sakay sina Segunda at ng kanyang mga kaibigan.
Dumaan nga ang carromata ngunit mabilis ang takbo nito.
Malapit na ang sasakyan nang makita ni Pepe na sila na nga iyon.
Itataas ni Pepe ang kanyang kamay upang patigilin ang carromata, ngunit mabilis ang takbo ng kabayo at ng hilahilang carromata.
Makikita ng mga dalagita si Pepe nang nakalampas na ang carromata.
Inakala ng mga dalagita na kumakaway lang si Pepe, kaya kumaway sila at buong siglang sumigaw ng "Pepe! Pepe! Pepe!"
Makikita ang mukha ni Pepe na pagpugaran ng lungkot at kabiguan.
Hawak-hawak niya—sa kanyang kanang kamay na kumakaway pa rin—ang isang liham.
Gusto sana ni Pepe na makarating kay Segunda ang laman ng liham: ang pagtatapat ng taus-pusong pagmamahal ng isang binatilyo sa isang dalagita.

(Makikita ang kalsada patungong Batangas. Sa malayo, ang binatilyo na sakay ng kanyang puting kabayo.)

Tinig ng Taga-salaysay:
Wala sa kaalaman ng binatilyong si Pepe—pati na rin ng dalagitang si Segunda—na ang pag-iibigan nila na sumilang at nag-usbong ay walang pag-asang lumabong at mamulaklak … sa kanilang maligalig na daigdig … at sa kanilang takdang panahon.
Saka lang nila malalaman ang katotohanan … na bago pa man napamahal si Pepe kay Segunda—at si Segunda kay Pepe—mayroon nang taglay na ibang minamahal si Pepe: Ang Inang Bayan.
Ang pinaka-una, ang pinakahuli, at ang pinakamatinding pag-ibig na mararanasan niya sa buong buhay niya, hanggang sa kanyang mga huling oras sa Bagumbayan: Ang pag-ibig sa Bayang Pilipinas.
Hindi nila alam ito noon.
At nang malaman nila ito, huli na ang lahat.


("What Will Be, Will Be")

A Play by Alberto Florentino.

A Fictional Drama written in 1994, four years before (then) Vice-President Joseph Estrada was elected in 1998 as President of the Republic of the Philippines.

First book publication in 1994, as a reprint under the title "A Class In Politics," in ERAPtion: How to Speak English Without Really Trial.

(© 1994 by Reli German & Emil Jurado, Publishers/Writers, Manila, Philipines).

Co-edited by Alberto Florentino & Ben S. Medina, Jr.

ERAPtion was a book of "'Erap' Jokes," attributed to Pres. Estrada, now the bestselling Filipino book in Philippine history that sold 280,000 copies from 1994 until it was stopped in 1998.

First publication in a newspaper: The Manila Chronicle, ca. 1994.

BACKGROUND: In 1951, Joseph Ejercito [Estrada] was an 11- or 12-year-old pupil in the Ateneo de Manila High School on Padre Faura, Ermita, Manila, under teacher Emil Jurado, then 23 years old.
"Que Sera, Sera" was written and published six years ago today (four years before he was elected President of the Republic of the Philippines. It is being posted on this website on Pres. Estrada's third year of his six-year term that may end in 2004, or much earlier.
This is a piece of dramatic fiction about an 11-year-old pupil at the Ateneo who dreamt of being a President of his country. He dropped out of Ateneo high school in 1952 to become, 40 years later, the most popularly elected Philippine President from 1946.
On Nov. 10, 2000 Reli German, one of "Erap's" classmates (and now a columnist in The Manila Times Online Edition), wrote in part in his column German Cut the following in a piece titled
"A Class Act":

Among the 120 members of the Ateneo de Manila High School "Class of 1955," are the following, who served (or still serve) in top positions in President Estrada's government:

Jun Siazon (as Foreign Affairs Secretary)
Mario Tiaoqui (Energy Head)
Paeng Buenaventura (Central Bank Governor)
Tong Payumo (Subic Bay Development Authority Chairman)
Boy Ampil (Customs Commissioner)
Tony Lopa (Philippine National Oil Corporation Chairman).

The others who served (or still serve) in various capacities in different departments, agencies, and government-owned or -controlled corporations appointed before and during the administration of Pres. Joseph Estrada: Fil Joson, Ducky Paredes, Cary Sevilla, Leny Albar, Art Parcero, Nonoy Alindogan, Frank Puzon, Susing Pineda, Mike Barretto, Jimmy Valdes, Ric Lacson, Tad Bengzon, and Willy Cruz.

A.F.'s Notes:
In different times, under other administrations, these members of the Class of 1955 assumed top positions in major government offices and in the private sector:

Butz Aquino became Senator after the E. de los Santos Avenue 1986 revolt

Jun Cruz became head of Philippine Airlines, The Manila Hotel, and the SSS

Reli German headed the Ninoy Aquino International Airport

Joseph Ejercito Estrada became Philippine President after being Vice-President, Senator, Mayor of San Juan (a town in Metro Manila), a movie actor (from bit player to lead role player and superstar).

Benigno (Ninoy) Aquino, Jr., became a Senator and was a contender for the Presidency during Pres. Marcos' term, but after declaration of martial law was arrested, exiled to the U.S. , and---while returning to Manila---was assassinated under mysterious circumstances.

Patrick Hilton, who was involved in an altercation with classmate Joseph Estrada, left Ateneo and went abroad. During Pres. Estrada's inauguration he was expected to attend as an honored guest. After a nationwide (and US-wide) search, Hilton was either not found or refused to attend the function.

Emil Jurado, in five decades, was a working journalist and columnist for print and media and headed the KBP and the MOPC.

Reli German had been a public relations man for Presidents Marcos, Aquino, and Estrada.

Crispino "Babes" Reyes hosted the 45th anniversary reunion of the Ateneo High School Graduating Class of 1955 in Manila in 2000."

annotations by A.F. and quoted from other sources

TIME: 1951


The members of the class (all boys, 11- to 12-year olds) are in short-sleeved shirts and dark-blue short pants. The English teacher (Emil Jurado) in white, long-sleeved shirt and tie.


The Teacher:

The Class of 1955 (Some are members of the English class under Emil Jurado, and some are members of the whole Ateneo Graduating Class of 1955):
Roger Asuncion
Morris Carpo
Willy Cruz
Ed Ocampo
Boy Reyes
Nick Santiago
and others

Emil Jurado: (calls the roll, reads from a stack of cards) Butz Aquino?

Butz Aquino: Present, sir!

Emil: Roger Asuncion!

Roger Asuncion: Present, sir!

Emil: Paeng Buenaventura!

Paeng Buenaventura: Present, sir!

Emil: Morris Carpo!

Morris Carpo: Present, sir!

Emil: Jun Cruz!

Jun Cruz: Present, sir!

Emil: Willy Cruz!

Willy Cruz: Present, sir!

Emil: Joseph Ejercito!

Joseph Ejercito: Present, sir!

Emil: Reli German!

Reli German: Present, sir!

Emil: Patrick Hilton?

Patrick Hilton: Present, sir!

Emil: Tony Lopa!

Tony Lopa: Present, sir!

Emil: Ed Ocampo!

Ed Ocampo: Present, sir!

Emil: Ducky Paredes!

Ducky Paredes: Present, sir!

Emil: Boy Reyes!

Boy Reyes: Present, sir!

Emil: Nick Santiago!

Nick Santiago: Present, sir!

Emil: (as he puts his class cards away) Good morning, class.

Class: Good morning, Mr. Jurado.

Emil: Class, today we'll talk about the future: the 90s. That's some 40 years from today. You will each tell the class your dreams and ambitions. Who wants to start?

Jun Cruz: (rises) I, sir!

Emil: Jun Cruz, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Jun: Sir, I want to work for an airline company.

Emil: As a flight steward.

Jun: No, sir.

Emil: Don't tell me you want to be an aviator. A commercial pilot.

Jun: No, sir. I want to be President of our national flag carrier.

Emil: President of PAL? The Philippine Air Lines?

Jun: Yes, sir.

Emil: A flight steward's job is more like it, Jun.

Jun: Sir, I also want to work in a major hotel.

Emil: Which hotel?

Jun: The Manila Hotel.

Emil: The Manila Hotel! The "Queen of Philippine Hotels"?

Jun: Yes, sir.

Emil: As what? As a bellboy? A doorman?

Jun: Oh, no, sir, I'd like to be the President, or the Chairman!

Emil: What?!?! Have you ever heard of a Filipino heading a five-star hotel in the Philippines? You're not a foreigner or a Caucasian, or even a mestizo.

Jun: I also dream of being a ladies' man.

Emil: You want to be all of these?

Jun: Yes, sir. I'll marry the prettiest girls in town: the movie stars, the socialites!

Emil: Looking at you now, I can't imagine what the girls will find in you.

Jun: You'll be surprised, sir. There will be so many of them---the best-looking in the country!

Emil: But you can't marry them all at one time, unless you convert to the Moslem . . .

Jun: Don't worry, sir, I'll have them. One after another.

Emil: Good luck anyway. Next!

Butz Aquino: (rises) Sir!

Emil: Yes, Butz Aquino.

Butz: Someday I will be a Senator.

Emil: A Senator? How about your Kuya, Ninoy Aquino? As I see it, he has a better chance. I doubt you'll even make it as a councilor. Sorry, Butz. Next! How about you, Joseph Ejercito?

Joseph: (caught by surprise) Yes, sir?

Emil: Who's your role model?

Joseph: What you mean, "roll the model"?

Emil: (shaking his head) I mean, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Joseph: (now gets it) I want to be like Leopoldo Salcedo.

Emil: Leopoldo Salcedo? Our greatest actor?

Joseph: I want to be like him: always with beautiful actresses and starlets.

Emil: Joseph, you don't look a bit like him. How can you attract girls?

Joseph: I'll be an actor like him.

Emil: An actor? With your looks?

Class: (laughter)

Roger: Are you tall, dark and handsome?

Paeng: Maybe you'll be a bit player, or a villain.

Joseph: No, I'll be a leading man, for LVN Pictures, or Premiere Productions.

Morris: Maybe a gang member; you know, (mimicking) a "low-waist gang" member.

Willy: Yes, with one line of dialogue!

Class: (laughter)

Emil: Class, class! Quiet, please! Go on, Joseph.

Joseph: I'll be a leading man, an action star, a superstar. I'll be the heir to Fernando Poe.

Emil: Oh, you mean, Fernando Poe, Junior.

Joseph: No, sir. Fernando Poe, Senior!

Emil: What will his sons, Ronald Poe and Andy Poe say to that?

Joseph: I'll do better. I'll romance all my leading ladies.

Emil: I can't imagine you seducing even one starlet.

Joseph: But I'll marry one woman and be faithful to her till death to us part (he goes on and on about grrls, grrls, grrls).

Emil: (aside, in a stage whisper) Why are these boys obsessed with grrls, grrls, grrls? Is it because this is an all-boys school? Will this class of '55 be all "palikeros"? (cuts Joseph short) Joseph, stop dreaming! Let's get real, shall we? Again, who's your role model?

Joseph: Actually, sir, Ramon Magsaysay.

Emil: The former mechanic?

Joseph: Now our secretary of National Defense. He rose from humble beginners.

Tony: (corrects him) Beginnings.

Joseph: . . . from humble beginnings. Someday he'll be President.

Emil: Magsaysay is no handsome mestizo like Pres. Manuel L. Quezon. He can never be President.

Joseph: Sir, he will be. And I'll stimulate him.

Ed: (corrects him) Emulate.

Joseph: . . . I'll emulate him. Like Quezon, like Magsaysay, I'll be President of the Philippines.

Emil: Joseph, I told you once, and I tell you once again: I don't see you becoming President of the Philippines. Stop insulting the Presidency!

Joseph: You say I'm not handsome, but a President doesn't have to be handsome.

Emil: Joseph, you can't even speak correct English!

Ducky Paredes: Or even Arrneow English!

Boy: You always get caught speaking Tagalog in class or on campus.

Joseph: But what's wrong with Tagalog? We should be proud of our own tongue.

Nick: . . . And you always get punished.

Roger: . . . Always made to do calisthenics under the sun!

Paeng: . . . See, you're always sunburned!

Joseph: One day that ruling will have to go. Nobody should get punished for speaking his own language.

Morris: You want to outlaw Arrneow English?

Joseph: No, but I won't outlaw our own language, on campus or anywhere else. To become a President, why does one have to speak good English, or even "Carabao English"? Hundreds of great presidents in Asia and Europe do not know even one word of English! Why?

Emil: Stop that debate now. Back to our subject!

Joseph: All right, sir; when I grow up, I'll be mayor of a town!

Emil: Which is . . . ?

Joseph: San Juan. I'll run for election and win!

Emil: . . . Win the first time you run for any public office*?

Joseph: Yes, sir. Then I'll seek reelection and win again!

Emil: . . . The second term?

Joseph: Yes, sir.

Emil: (sarcastic) Why not run for four terms? Like President Franklin Delano Roosevelt?

Joseph: Sir, two terms only.

Emil: Why only two terms?

Joseph: After being mayor for 17 years . . .

Emil: Two terms? 17 years? You don't even know the arithmetic of politics!

Joseph: . . . I'll run for Senator!

Emil: . . . And again, win the first time?

Joseph: Yes, sir. In a landslive!

Friend: Landslide.

Joseph: Landslide then.

Emil: And again run for reelection?

Joseph: No, sir. You see, sir, my final goal is not to be San Juan Mayor, or a Senator, these are only stepping rocks!

Reli German: (corrects him) Stepping stones.

Joseph: . . . Only stepping stones to a higher position.

Emil: You still want a higher position?

Joseph: The top, sir.

Emil: Which one?

Class: (laughter)

Emil: Let him alone, class. Let him say it.

Joseph: The Presidency. I want to be the President . . . of the Philippines.

Emil: (incredulous) Joseph Ejercito! Running and winning . . . as President of the Philippines!

Joseph: Yes, sir.

Emil: The first time?

Joseph: Yes, sir.

Class: (laughter)

Emil: Quiet, class!

Joseph: I don't mean now, sir.

Emil: Of course not, you're only 11-years old!

Joseph: 12 years old, sir.

Emil: Whatever.

Joseph: I'll be President in 1992. Or 1998. Or 2004.

Emil: 2004! We'll all be gone by then! Joseph, you're killing me! Really! Don't give me a heart attack!

Joseph: Okay, sir. I'll settle for Vice President.

Patrick: Right. You could be in charge of vices!

Joseph: I'll run for Vice President and win!

Emil: . . . The first time?

Joseph: Yes, sir.

Ed: (holding his sides as he laughs)

Joseph: As Vice President, I'll rid the military of bad elements.

Roger: (laughs)

Joseph: . . . I'll eliminate erring police officers, kidnappers, smugglers!

Willy: (laughs)

Joseph: I'll clean up . . .

Emil: Stop it, Joseph! Stop it! Do you realize what this means?

Joseph: (repeats) What this means what?

Emil: (turns to the class) You don't realize . . . that in every presidential election, people actually elect . . . not one, but two Presidents. One President to assume office right away. The other President, to take over right away in case the President goes. Everytime the people elect a President and a Vice President, they're also electing another, a second, the next President.

(The class is strangely quiet)

Emil: Class, I know this is taxing your brains too much, but let me explain. (emphatic) A Vice President is one heartbeat away from the presidency.

Joseph: (turns to Reli) What he means "one heartbeat away"?

Reli: Shhh.

Emil: Look! (demonstrates melodramatically) Let's say, a President suffers a heart attack (clutches his chest, feigning a heart attack). Or is assassinated in a coup d'etat. Bang! Bang! Or killed in a plane crash. BOOM! Or chokes on his food (sounds of choking). Then you're IT! You, Joseph Ejercito, elected only as a Vice-President, God forbid! (makes a sign of the cross) becomes President of the Philippines. Now, class, did you get it?

Class: (in unison) Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

(Joseph is quiet)

Emil: Joseph, did you get it?

Joseph: Get what, sir?

Emil: You understand what I mean?

Joseph: No, sir.

Emil: Hah! Since you'll never win in any election, I hereby appoint you "the least likely to succeed" in your Class of '55. Now, sit down!

Emil: Joseph, how can you even think of it? You can never be President or even Vice President! And that's a fact!

Joseph: (pouting) Why can't I? If a woman can be President . . .

Emil: What did you just say, Joseph?

Joseph: I said, a woman President . . .

Emil: A woman President? Of the Phlippines?

Joseph: Yes, sir. (addressing his classmates) This could happen in the future, in our time, in our generator.

Nick: (corrects him) Generation.

Emil: Maybe, a woman president . . . of a bank or a corporation . . . is possible. Maybe, somebody . . . like Pacita Madrigal or Carmen Planas . . . will run as President, . . . but will they win?

Joseph: Sir, this woman presidential candidate could be a school teacher, or a housewife.

Emil: A housewife? Without any political experience?

Joseph: Yes, sir.

Emil: She won't even be a city councilor? Or a municipal mayor?

Joseph: It will be her first job. She could run for, and become, President.

Emil: (sarcastic) And win on her first try at public office?

Joseph: Yes, sir. In a landslive!

Reli German: I said, landslide.

Joseph: . . . in a landslide, sir.

Emil: A woman can't win . . . as Congressman! or as Senator!

Joseph: But it could hapen, sir. First, we'll have the first woman Congressman.

Emil: That's why in the Constitution it's called Congressman. How do we address her, Congresswoman?

Class: (laughs)

Joseph: Then we'll have the first woman Senator!

Emil: And address her "Her Excellency"? Can you imagine Great Britain with a woman Prime Minister? Or India? Israel? Pakistan? Each with a woman President or Prime Minister?

Joseph: All these are possible in the future, sir.

Emil: Joseph, before that happens, we'll probably elect a gay President! Or a disabled President! Or a mongoloid President! But a woman! A female of the species? As President of the Philippines? Impossible! Not in 50 years! Not in 359 years!

Joseph: But, sir, I'm talking, not of today, but of the future, of the '90s, when people from all walkers of life . . .

Nick: . . . all walks of life.

Joseph: . . . from all walks of life may be presidentiables.

Roger: (corrects him) . . . Presidential candidates.

Joseph: (corrects him) Presidentiables!

Reli: What's a presidentiable?

Joseph: In our generation we will elect as Congressmen or Senators those who don't come from political families or dynasties. Like actors.

Emil: Actors?

Joseph: Or singers. Actresses.

Emil: Singers? Actresses?

Joseph: Or basketball players.

Emil: Basketball players?

Joseph: Even radio announcers!

Emil: Radio announcers?

Joseph: Yes, sir, they don't have to be "trapos".

Reli: "Trapos"? As in "basahan"?

Joseph: "Trapos": traditional politicians. (continues) Candidates can be coming from NGOs.

Ed. What NGOs?

Joseph: MNLF. ABB. COCAP. NIChood. Los Enemigos. APCET.

Emil: Joseph, what's all these gibberish you're saying? You're daydreaming! Hallucinating! Wake up! Get serious! Get real! SIT DOWN! GO HOME! GET LOST! GO JUMP IN THE MANILA BAY! (Joseph sits down, dejected)

Emil: Now, Reli, your turn.

Reli: I'm not too ambitious, sir.

Emil: (smirks, under his breath) Don't I know that?

Reli: But when I grow up, I'd like to manage our International Airport, then end up in Malacañang.

Emil: (under his breath) Another Malacañang aspirant!

Reli: Sir, if Joseph runs for President . . .

Joseph: (corrects him) When.

Reli: . . . When Joseph runs for President, I could be his campaign manager, and if he wins . . .

Joseph: When.

Reli: . . . When he wins, I will be (corrects himself) . . . he may appoint me to a good position: press officer, executive secretary, . . . (Joseph nods like a sage, winks at Reli) "Take your pick, Reli!" (Joseph gives him a "high five." Reli instinctively returns his "high five.")

(Suddenly, the class quiets down, perplexed by what the two had just done: a "high five". They start to imitate the two and soon the whole class is giving each other a "high five.")

(Emil is most perplexed)

Emil: (an aside, in Tagalog, a stage whisper) When I see these 11- or 12-year-olds, malakas ang kutob ko. Kinikilabutan ako. Ano nga kaya? Bakit ba si Rizal, isang paslit lang noon sa Ateneo, naging national hero? Si Bonifacio, isang bodegero lang, naging national hero din! Si Mabini, isang lumpo, naging "brains ng Katipunan"? At kung sakali, si Magsaysay, isang mekaniko lang, baka nga magkatotoo. Who knows? (shouts over the din) Class! Class! Quiet! Quiet! (The class quiets down)

Emil: Class is dismissed.

(The rowdy students pour out of the room, still giving each other a "high five.")

Emil: (calls out) Joseph Ejercito!

Joseph: Yes, sir.

Emil: Reli German!

Reli: Yes, sir.

Emil: Stay after class! I want to talk to both of you. (under his breath) Mabuti nga siguro, ngayon pa man, medyo . . . dumikitdikit na, who knows? (Unseen, Reli steps forward and overhears Emil talking to himself in Tagalog.)

Reli: Aha! Gotcha! You're speaking Tagalog inside the classroom!

Emil: But I'm your teacher!

Reli: You have to set a good example. Sir, you are hereby sentenced to squat for an hour under the sun.

(Joseph comes forward, with a presidential poise and a deep voice)

Joseph: Don't worry, Sir Jurado. You're hereby granted a presidential pardon from the President himself!

Emil: Thank you, Your Excellency! You may choose any cabinet position of your choice.

Joseph: How about the DECS? DOT.

Emil: DECS? DOT?

Joseph: Just stick with me, sir.

(Reli and Joseph, one after another, give Emil a "high five" which the latter returns with gusto. Then the three shout in unison: "HATAW NA!")