Friday, September 5, 2008


How to analyze Short Stories/Novels?
I. In literature and in writing it’s important to understand the subject and the theme and also be able to identify key points and create your own opinion. When analyzing a novel, you need to discuss the following literary elements that are interwoven together seamlessly to create the great themes and plots.
Setting (When and where the story takes place)
Mood(The overall feeling created by a writer’s use of words or the tone of the novel)
Main Characters(Names, descriptions and events associated with them)
Main Conflicts(The main disputes in the novel that move the story along and create the plot)
Climax(The greatest tension in the story, a battle between the protagonist and Antagonist)
Conclusion(The resolution after the climax)
II. You also need to understand a story plot begins with exposition, introduction to characters, setting, rising action, turning point, climax and conclusion.
III. The following elements are also common in novels:
Foreshadowing-is giving hints or clues of what is to come later in a story.
1. Imagery-is the use of words to create a certain picture in the reader’s mind. Imagery is usually based on sensory details.
2. Irony-is using a word or phrase to mean the exact opposite of its literal or normal meaning. There are three kinds of irony:
a) Dramatic irony, in the which the reader or the audience sees a character’s mistakes, but the character does not;
b) Verbal irony, in which the writer says one thing and means another.
c) Irony of situation, in which there is a great difference between the purpose of a particular action and the result.
4. Point of View-is the vantage point from which the story is told.
5. Theme-is the statement about life that a writer is trying to get across in a piece of writing. In most cases, the theme will be implied rather than directly spelled out.
6. Symbolism-is a person, a place, a thing, or an event used as a technique in literature to represent something else in order to support your writing.
7. Characterization-is the method an author uses to reveal characters and their personalities.
8. Protagonist-is the main character or hero of the story.
9. Antagonist-is the person or thing working against the protagonist, or hero, of the work.
10. Paradox-is a statement that seems contrary to common sense, yet may, in fact, be true.
11. Flashback-is returning to an earlier time (in a story) for the purpose of making something in the present clearer.
12. Stream of Consciousness-is a style of writing in which the thoughts and feelings of the writer are recorded as they occur.
IV. Use the following: the names of the main characters, favorite quotes, while reading because this will be useful for an essay or book report.

How to Analyze Short Story Characterization
Characterization is the means an author uses to describe or develop a character for the reader. The brevity of a short story insures that there will be few characters. The main character is the only character who is really developed, so characterization in a short story is fairly easy to analyze.
Step 1
Name the main character. Sometimes in a short story, the main character will be the only character. Other times there will be a few characters but only one who is mentioned repeatedly throughout the story. Your analysis of characterization needs to focus on the main character.

List the main character's physical attributes. As you read the story, keep a running list of any physical descriptions of the main character. The author may reveal the character's height, age, hair color, style of dress or other things about his appearance. Since the story is short, the author won't have time to describe everything about the main character. Therefore, the details he does reveal are important and will probably give you clues about the character. For example, if the main character is described as having a sinister smile, the writer is not only using alliteration to color his writing, he is pointing out that there is something evil about the character.

Identify character traits the main character displays. An author can reveal character traits in a description of the character's appearance or in how he acts and what other characters in the story say about him. Characterization in a short story is usually somewhat one-dimensional. The main character may be evil, unpleasant and unhappy or helpful, caring and giving. She won't usually display contradicting qualities.

Consider the source of your information when deciding how accurate it is. What another character says about the main character may be more reliable than what he says about himself.

Notice how you learned about the main character. Writers have different ways of describing a character in a short story. They can use narration to describe the character, dialogue to reveal her attributes, or some combination of techniques.

How to Analyze Short Story Plot
Plot is an element of fiction that consists of the stages of action leading up to the climax of the story. A short story does not afford the writer much time to develop an elaborate plot. A short story plot is rather simple and can be analyzed by following a few steps.

List the events. A short story usually has one main character around whom all the action takes place. Your list of events for any short story will probably consist of the movements of the main character. Also make note of mental or emotional events that take place with respect to the main character, such as he learned how his mother died, he understood why his mother left him, and he stopped feeling sad.

Create a timeline. Take your list of events and put them in chronological order. Sometimes a short story begins with a flashback, in which case the events of the story are presented out of order. Arrange your list of events in chronological order, even if that isn't the order in which they took place in the story.
Identify the conflict. Conflict is what compels the reader to continue reading, so all well-written short stories have a conflict. It may be as obvious as a struggle between two characters in the story, or it can be subtle, like the main character's internal struggle to decide what is right. Identifying the conflict will help you understand the plot, since the plot is the main character's journey toward resolving the conflict.

Find the climax. The climax of a short story happens when the tension heightens just before the conflict is resolved. In a mystery, for example, the climax is just before you find out who the killer is. The climax of a short story takes place shortly before the end of the story. After the climax, the writer ties up the loose ends and the story is over.

1. Explain the title. In what way is it suitable to the story?
2. What is the predominant element in the story - plot, theme, character, setting?
3. Who is the single main character about. whom the story centres?
4. What sort of conflict confronts the leading character or characters?
a. external?
b. internal?
5. How is the conflict resolved?
6. How does the author handle characterization?
a. by description?
b. conversation of the characters?
c. actions of the characters?
d. combination of these methods?
7. Who tells the story? What point of view is used?
a. first person?
b. omniscient?
8. Where does the primary action take place?
9. What is the time setting for the action? Period of history? Season? Time of day?
10. How much time does the story cover?
a. a few minutes?
b. a lifetime?
c. how long?
11. How does the story get started? What is the initial incident?
12. Briefly describe the rising action of the story.
13. What is the high point, or climax, of the story?
14. Discuss the falling action or close of the story.
15. Does this story create any special mood?
16. Is this story realistic or true to life? Explain your answers by giving examples.
17. Are the events or incidents of the plot presented in flashback or in chronological order?
18. Was the selection written as a short story or is it a condensation or excerpt? Is it taken from a collection of stories?
19. What is the general theme of the story? What is the underlying theme? Can you name any other stories with a similar theme?
20. Did you identify with any of the characters?
21. Does this story contain any of the following elements?
a. symbolism?
b. incongruity?
c. suspense?
d. surprise ending ?
e. irony?
f. satire?
22. Was there a villain in the story? a hero? a dynamic character?
23. Can you find any examples of figurative language?
a. simile?
b. metaphor?
c. personification?
24. Does the story contain a single effect or impression for the read er? If so, what?
25. Name one major personality trait of each leading character, and tell how the author makes the reader conscious of this trait.
26. Does the story have a moral? If not, what do you think the purpose of the author was?

Monday, September 1, 2008

In the Land of the Giants (One-Act Play)

In the Land of the Giants

The sound of a train door closing is heard. The train leaves. In moments, the sound dies out as the train speeds away.

Lalaki slowly approaches Nanay. He has with him a transparent and empty suitcase. A moment of silence takes place as the two face each other.

NANAY So I guess you are really going. Have a safe trip then, Stanley. And take care of yourself. You will,
of course, write, won’t you, Stanley?

LALAKI Of course, ‘Nay. Of course, I will write. And take care of yourself, too.

And Lalaki slowly walks away. In a while …

NANAY I will wait for your letters, Stanley!

But Lalaki no longer hears Nanay. She stares at him sadly.

VOICE-OVER All passengers bound for Manila, please proceed to the departure area immediately. All passengers
bound for Manila, please proceed to the departure area immediately. Thank you.

Lalaki goes around the stage silently. Several people hand over mementos to him as he passes by them. As they hand over the items, they say, “So you won’t forget.” Lalaki silently accepts the mementos and carefully places them inside his suitcase. The mementos include a small statue of the Santo NiƱo; a prayer book in Kinaray-a, the native language of the province of Antique; a Bagtasun-woven tubaw; a pack of muscovado sugar; and rich brown earth placed inside a transparent bottle. At the end of the line, Bata hands over his ruined kite to Lalaki. Lalaki stares at it and then carefully places it inside his suitcase. Bata exits. Lalaki watches him leave the performance area. In a while, he bids everyone goodbye and moves on.

VOICE-OVER Ladies and gentlemen, please direct your attention to our cabin crew as they demonstrate to you
the safety procedures of this aircraft.

While the procedures are read, Kalaguyo slowly approaches Lalaki.

LALAKI (Softly.)
Maghimaya ikaw, Mariya
magkalipay ikaw, buta ikaw ti grasya
ang Ginuong D’yos rugyan kanimo.
Nahamut-an ikaw labaw sa tanan nga mga babayi
kag nahamut-an man ang bunga
kang imo busong nga si Hisus …

(Hail Mary
full of grace
the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women.
and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus …)

That was my first flight ever, Mila. So I was tense while we were preparing for takeoff.

Santa Mariya, nanay kang Dyos
ipangamuyo mo kami nga mga makasasala
kadya kag sa tion kang amun kamatayun.

(Holy Mary, mother of God
pray for us, sinners
now and at the hour of our death.)

It was an early morning flight from Iloilo to Manila, the first of several that will take me to
America. I remember that flight vividly.

VOICE-OVER Ladies and gentlemen, please make sure that your seatbelts are securely fastened. We will take-off
in a very short while. Thank you.

LALAKI I remember staring out the window a few seconds before takeoff. I remember seeing a group of
people just outside the airport terminal. I remember seeing them waving at the plane. They were
bidding us goodbye. And then …

Tatay, with the black cloth still draped over him, slowly enters the performance area.

LALAKI (With urgency.) I peered closer and immediately scanned the waving people’s features in a
desperate attempt to identify the hand, the face, the figure that I knew so well from childhood.
Where is he? Which one is he? So you made good on your promise, didn’t you, ‘Tay? Because
you said you’d be there when I take my first flight. I am sorry I didn’t become a pilot but this is
the best I could do. And I am on a plane, am I not? That’s why you came. You came to see me
off. But please! Which one are you? Which one are you, ‘Tay? Which one are you? ‘Tay!

Lalaki drops to his knees. Kalaguyo cradles him gently. Tatay exits.

The rushing sound of an approaching Metro train is heard. In moments, the train stops.

VOICE-OVER Yellow line train bound for Huntington. This is Archives-Navy Memorial. Please stand clear of the
doors. Thank you.

The sound of a train door opening is heard.

VOICE-OVER Doors open. The next stop is L’Enfant Plaza. Please stand clear of the doors. Thank you. Doors

The sound of a train door closing is heard. The train leaves. In moments, the sound dies out as the train speeds away. Kalaguyo hugs Lalaki tighter as the latter struggles for air.

KALAGUYO Ssshhhh … It’s okay, Stanley. It’s okay. I’m here now.

The soft strains of “Ili-ili, Tulog Anay” are heard as Nanay starts sewing a blanket in her space.

NANAY I have started sewing again, Stanley. It keeps my mind off things. How are you? I hope things are
well and you are not having too many problems there in America. Have you met any Filipinos
already? I hope you have and I hope they are nice to you. Do not forget to hear mass every
Sunday, Stanley. I go to mass here every Sunday myself and I always ask the Lord to look out for
you there. And if you have time, please write to me soon. And please send me some pictures, too.
So I won’t miss you too much. Love, Nanay.

Lalaki gets up and hurriedly walks around the performance area. A group of people calls out after him.

TAUMBAYAN 1 Please check Mr. Whatley in Room 736. His wife left for home an hour ago so he needs to have
someone check on him every thirty minutes.

TAUMBAYAN 2 (Overlapping.) Where is Susan? I am sorry but I cannot have anybody else doing my injections. I
purposely told the head nurse about that four days ago! Where is she? Can you please get her for

TAUMBAYAN 3 (Overlapping.) Excuse me. What time is Dr. Jenkins arriving today? I need to ask him about the
results of my X-ray exam yesterday. Can you please find that out for me? And kindly inform me
the moment you know, all right?

TAUMBAYAN 4 (Overlapping.) The patient in Room 714 has been buzzing the station several times now. Check on
him the moment you finish doing Mrs. Schuberts’s chart, okay?

TAUMBAYAN 2 (Overlapping.) What do you mean, she’s not on duty today? Susan is always here Mondays,
Wednesdays and Fridays! I asked her about her schedule last week and that’s what she told me! I
cannot have anybody else doing my injections! I want to talk to the head nurse now! Will you
please tell the head nurse I want to talk to her now? Please! Now!

Lalaki says his next lines while trying his best to attend to the group’s requests. The group, on the other hand, becomes agitated and all five persons now say their lines simultaneously.

LALAKI I miss you, too, ‘Nay. Don’t worry about me here. My head nurse is a Filipino, too, so she helps
me get used to my new life here. Work is tiring but the hours go by fast. I will soon send you
some money through Western Union. America is ...

Nanay just goes on sewing because she cannot hear Lalaki. In his frustration, Lalaki summons the monster from his childhood. The monster noisily enters the performance area and with Lalaki leading him on, charges toward the group. Scared, all five persons run for their lives. The monster exits. Lalaki composes himself. In a while …

LALAKI I miss you, too, ‘Nay. Don’t worry about me here. My head nurse is a Filipino, too, so she helps
me get used to my new life here. Work is tiring but the hours go by fast. I will soon send you
some money through Western Union. America is really beautiful. I am now eagerly looking
forward to December so I can already experience snow. I will, of course, send you pictures of it.
Please take care of yourself. Love, Stanley.

This time, Nanay hears Lalaki. She answers him while still sewing in her space.

NANAY I’m happy to hear everything is working out well for you there, Stanley. Do send me those
pictures so I can also see how beautiful America really is. Love, Nanay.

Lalaki silently watches Nanay. In a while, the rhythmic beat of the play’s opening scene is faintly heard. Lalaki listens to it and searches for the ati. He couldn’t find them. Kalaguyo approaches him.

KALAGUYO Stanley ... Have you … I mean, you look … Don’t you think you should …

LALAKI (Distractedly.) What?

KALAGUYO I mean, you’re in the hospital most days of the week, anyway, so I thought it might be a good idea
to … you know … visit a …

The drum beat fades out.

LALAKI I’m fine. (A beat.) Nothing’s wrong with me. I’m just tired.

A moment of silence.

LALAKI Really, Mila. I’m fine.

Kalaguyo just stares at Lalaki. In a while, she turns away and slowly starts walking around the performance area. Lalaki watches her. The distant tolling of church bells is heard.

KALAGUYO Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been weeks since my last confession.

The performance area is suddenly thrown into darkness. Then, thunder roars and lightning strikes.

KALAGUYO I haven’t been a very good wife lately, Father. These past few days, I have done nothing but think
of a hundred different ways to get rid of my husband.

Asawa suddenly bolts out of his space and goes after Kalaguyo. Kalaguyo notices him so she moves faster. She starts using the other people on stage as barriers.

KALAGUYO I can no longer recognize the man I married, Father. The man I married was very gentle and
loving. But the man I am with now, Father, is everything but that. He changed weeks after the
wedding ceremony. First, he started raising his voice. Then, he couldn’t control his hands and he
hit me everywhere, Father.

Thunder again roars and lightning strikes. Asawa increases his pace. Kalaguyo breaks into a run.

KALAGUYO Last night, he slapped me again. He slapped me because earlier in the day, he saw me talking and
laughing with a male friend. He slapped me so hard I lost consciousness, Father. When I came to,
he was cradling me gently in his arms and he was crying. He was crying so hard and he was
telling me how sorry he was! He said he was sorry because he couldn’t control himself. The man
I married could not control himself, Father! That’s why he hit me!

Kalaguyo tries hard to lose Asawa but he is relentless in his pursuit.

KALAGUYO I cannot take it anymore, Father. I will go crazy if I continue staying with him in the same house.
I have to do something, Father. I have to do something or I will go crazy! Tell me what to do,
Father. Tell me what to do and I will listen. I will listen to you and I will follow your advice,
Father! Help me. Help me, Father! Please!

At this point, Asawa is about to grab Kalaguyo so she screams.


Lightning strikes and the performance area is suddenly lit with the brightest light. Asawa screams and covers his eyes. He reluctantly moves back to his space. Thunder roars as Lalaki and Kalaguyo face each other. Lights out.

First Snow of November

First Snow of November
Adapted from the short story “The Day the Dancers Came ” by Bienvenido N. Santos


FIL ACAYAN 70 (1980) and 50 (1960) years old. Has frequent memory lapses.
TONY BATALLER 55 years old. Fil’s flatmate. Has an inexplicable skin ailment.
THE DANCERS They are between 18 to 21 years old. They number between 8 and 12, and divided equally
between boys and girls.


The play will begin and end in the living room of a Chicago nursing home, but everything else in between will take place in a small apartment and a hotel hobby. It’s up to the director, the production designer and the lighting designer on how they will show this. They may use a minimalist approach.


The play will begin and end in 1980, but everything else in between will take place in 1960. This could be presented through the use of songs: Christopher Cross’s “Sailing” for 1980 and Henry Mancini & Johnny Mercer’s “Moon River” for 1960. It’s up to the musical director or sound director on how they will show this.

Lights fade in on stage. The living room of a nursing home appears. It is clean and orderly, but without people, save for one man: FIL. He sits beside a table, and above it are several cassette tapes and a portable tape recorder. The song “Sailing” (or any appropriate song the musical or sound director chooses to use) can be heard from it, but briefly, softly. It’s on radio mode. FIL switches it to tape mode. He puts a tape inside the deck and plays it.

FIL (Thinks. To himself.) The door at the post office, opening and closing.

He stops the recorder. He ejects the tape, puts in another one, and plays it.

(Thinks. Irritated.) The bathroom faucet, leaking no end.

He stops the recorder. He ejects the tape, puts in another one, and plays it.

(Thinks. Briefly laughs.) I’m hiding behind a tree at the time. Two of them, lovers,
rowing a boat along the coast of Lake Michigan.

He stops the recorder. He ejects the tape, puts in another one, and plays it.

(Thinks. Smiles.) Mr. Herschell’s granddaughter, the one with the rosy cheeks.
What’s her name again? Ah oo, Lucy!

He stops the recorder. He ejects the tape, puts in another one, and plays it.

(Thinks. Becomes sad.) Last month’s rain—or the month before?

He stops the recorder. He ejects the tape, puts in another one, and plays it.

(Thinks longer than usual.) While I was sleeping? No, I snore. Teka. When I visited
Tony? (Shakes his head.) What is this? How annoying. (A beat. Talks as though he’s
speaking to someone.) When I started this, I thought: if I recorded a thing, a sound,
and afterwards play it, would I remember the day, the year, what I felt when I first
recorded it? And I would remember it. How good it is to remember. (Pause.) But, as
time passed, I started using my “magic sound mirror” (Glances at the recorder.) more
and more. I used it once a week then. Now, it’s everyday.

He suddenly hears a gust of wind from the tape recorder.

(Face brightens.) I know! The wind that brought the first snow of November! (Laughs
like a child. Slowly becomes quiet and smiles.) First snow of November. They came
when the snow first fell that month. Ten—no, wait—twenty years have passed since
then. Tony was still here then. We were livingin a small apartment here in Chicago. I
was so excited to see them. It’s like they came just for me. Only for me.

While FIL speaks, the nursing home is transformed into his and TONY’s apartment. (This can be done through the shifting of lights.) Morning. The apartment is colorless; so are FIL’s clothes. He seems as if he is going somehwere. The song “Moon River” (or any appropriate song the musical or sound director chooses to use) is heard from the tape recorder. He stands up and begins cleaning and fixing up the furnishings. He does this over and over. There is a room in a corner. TONY is inside, sleeping.

(Looks outside the window and notices the snow. Smiles.) Snow! It’s snowing!

TONY (Wakes up.) What’s that?

FIL It’s snowing! Diyos ko, they’ll love this, they’ll love this.

TONY (Irritated.) Who’d love that?

FIL The dancers, of course. They’re arriving today. Maybe they have already arrived. They
will walk in the snow and love it. Their very first snow, I’m sure.

TONY How do you know it wasn’t snowing in New York while they were there?

FIL Snow in New York in early November? Are you crazy?

TONY Who’s crazy? Ever since you heard of those dancers from the Philippines, you’ve been
acting nuts. As if they’re coming just for you. (Laughs softly.)

TONY comes out of the room. He’s in white. His face and hands are whitening, as though the skin is slowly peeling off, or slowly recovering from various burns. He looks as though he didn’t sleep all night.

(Looks at his hands.) I’m becoming a white man. (Laughs softly.)

FIL (As though insulted by TONY’s laugh.) I know who’s crazy. It’s the sick guy with the
sick thoughts. Ikaw. You don’t care for nothing but your pain, your imaginary pain.

TONY You’re the imagining fellow. I got the real thing. Look, Fil, look! (Goes to FIL and
shows him his hands.) God, what have I retired for?

FIL You’re old, man, old, that’s what, and sick, yes, but not cancer. (Walks towards the
window and watches the snow fall.)

TONY I know what I got. (Face slightly crumples in pain.) Never a pain like this. One day,
I’m just gonna die.

FIL Naturally. Who says you won’t? (Keeps quiet, as if trying to remember something.) All
of us will die. One day, a medium bomb marked Chicago will fall here and this whole
dump is tapus, finished. Who’ll escape then?

TONY (Walks towards the window.) Maybe your dancers will. (Watches the snow.)

FIL Of course, they will. The bombs won’t be falling on this night. And when the dancers
are back in the Philippines—(Pause. In a sad voice.) But maybe, even in the Philippines
the bombs gonna fall, ano?

TONY What’s that to you? You’ve got no more folks over there, right? I know it’s nothing
to me. I’ll be dead before that.

FIL (Face saddens.) Let’s talk about something nice. (Forces a smile.) Tell me, how will I
talk, how am I going to introduce myself?

TONY remains silent. FIL stares at him.

Walanghiya, I wish I had your looks, even with those white spots, then I could face
every one of them, but this—(Holds his face.)

TONY That’s the important thing, your face. It’s your calling card. It says: Filipino, countryman.

FIL You’re not fooling me, kaibigan. (Holds his face again.) This says: Ugly Filipino.
Oldtimer. Muchacho. Pinoy. Bejo.

TONY It also says: stupid fool! Why do you want to invite them? And here, of all places? Aren’t
you ashamed of this dump?

FIL It’s not a palace, I know. But who wants a palace when they can have the most
delicious adobo here and the best chicken relleno? Yum, yum!

TONY Yum, yum, you’re crazy. Plain and simple crazy. Look, you’ve been living on loose
change all your life, Filemon Acayan, and now on a treasury warrant so small and full
of holes, you still want to spend for these dancing kids who don’t know you and won’t
even send you a card afterwards?

FIL Never mind the cards, Antonio Bataller. Who wants them? But don’t you see, they’ll
be happy; and then, you know what? I’m going to keep their voices, their words, their
singing and their laughter in my “magic sound mirror.” (Points to the recorder.) Halika.

FIL goes to the tape recorder. He ejects the tape from the deck and puts in another one. He plays it. Their voices are heard:

Aba, you look sharp tonight, Tony Bataller. Where will the sharp-stinged bee land
tonight, eh?

TONY On my favorite calachuchi, my favorite flower. (Laughs maliciously.)

FIL Take me along with you, kaibigan.

TONY Look for your own flower. (Laughs maliciously.)

FIL (In a sour voice.) Titi mo!

FIL stops the recorder.

TONY God, I can’t believe you even recorded that.

FIL (Looks out the window.) Go on, snow. Keep it up. Blanket the whole of Chicago.
(Looks at TONY.) I’m going out very soon. As soon as they accept my invitation, I’ll
call you up. You don’t have to do anything, but I’d want you to be here to meet them.

TONY I’m going out myself. I don’t know what time I’ll be back. (Pause.) You’re not working
today. Are you on leave?

FIL (Nods.) For two days. While the dancers are here.

TONY It still don’t make sense to me. But good luck, anyway.

FIL Aren’t you going to see them tonight? Our reserved seats are right out in front, you know.

TONY I know. But I’m not sure if I can come.

FIL Ano? You’re not sure?

TONY I want to, but I’m sick, Fil. I tell you. I’m not feeling so good. My doctor will know
today. He’ll tell me.

FIL What will he tell you?

TONY How should I know?

FIL I mean, what’s he trying to find out?

TONY (A beat.) If it’s cancer.

TONY frowns, as if something is hurting his stomach. He holds it. FIL quickly attempts to help him. TONY refuses his help and returns to his room. FIL follows until he reaches the door.

FIL (As though he’s talking to someone.) Tony had been sick for two years then. He had
consulted so many doctors, yet none of them could tell him for sure what his illness was.
I didn’t know if that doctor had something new to say to him that day. (Silence. As if
trying to remember something.) Back then, I often heard him groaning at night. It only
stopped when he called for me and I would ask him: What’s happening to you, Tony?
But afterwards, he would scream in pain. Even if he buried his face in his pillow, I could
still hear him. He would shoo me away if I ran to his side. At other times, I would see him
in bed, his posture like that of a fetus. (A beat.) Like a fetus inside a bottle filled with
formaldehyde. I would see that bottle everyday when I was still working at the hospital.
I often had nightmares about it. It only stopped when I became a special policeman at
the post office.

TONY (From the room.) Can I borrow your sweater, Fil? I can’t find mine.

FIL (Returns to his senses.) Oo, sure! (Looks at his clothes. Fixes himself immediately.) Well,
I’ll be seeing you. Try to be home on time. I shall invite the dancers for lunch or dinner
maybe, tomorrow. But tonight, let’s go to the theater, ha?

TONY I can’t promise, Fil. But I’ll try.

FIL (As though he’s talking to someone.) That’s what he said. He’ll try. (Pause.) I tried to
invite the dancers that morning. I went to the hotel where they were staying. The—what’s
the name again?—wait—ah! That’s it! (Smiles.) The Hamilton!

While FIL speaks, the apart0ment transforms into the hotel lobby. (This can be done through the shifting of lights.) Everything in the lobby is colorful. The DANCERS enter one by one. Their clothes are colorful and gleaming. They are divided into four groups, depending on their number. Some are sitting; the rest are standing. All of them talk in English and are taking pictures of one another.

I saw them at once when I entered the lobby. At first I thought I was running out of
breath from what I saw. I thought I had died and went straight to heaven. They were
so young and beautiful, especially the girls. Oh, I forgot how beautiful Filipinas are. I
wanted to look away, but their loveliness held me. I closed my eyes instead. Their
laughter grew louder in my ears, but they were not the only ones I heard. The melody
of the rondalla playing at fiesta time. The pealing of the bells after the Simbang Gabi. The
wind slapping against the ricestalks in the fields.

A pause. FIL suddenly comes to his senses. He takes a deep breath, and again and again until he calms down. He smiles constantly at the DANCERS. They smile back, but briefly. He tries to greet and talk to them. But he becomes tongue-tied or acts as though something is covering his mouth at every attempt. He notices that he’s at the center of the lobby and becomes conscious. A DANCER comes his way. FIL extends his hand. He looks at it carefully, finds it ugly, then withdraws it. He touches every part of his face. He becomes embarrassed.

(To himself.) I wish you were here, Tony. You’ll know what to do. I’m sure you’ll
charm them with your smile and with your words. (Pause.) Naku, what am I going to do?

FIL glances at his wristwatch. He becomes tense. He looks around. He sees a vacant chair. He looks at it for some time, and seems as though he’s silently debating with himself. (A single stagelight slowly fades in on him.) He takes a deep breath. He goes to the chair and stands on it. The DANCERS will not notice him.

(In an oratorical voice.) Beloved countrymen, lovely children of the Pearl of the Orient
Seas, listen to me. I’m Fil Acayan. I’ve come to volunteer my services. I’m yours to
command. Your servant. Tell me where you wish to go, what you want to see in Chicago.
I know every foot of the lakeshore drive, all the gardens and the parks, the museums,
the huge department stores, the planetarium. Let me be your guide. That’s what I’m
offering you, a free tour of Chicago, and finally, dinner at my apartment on West Sheridan
Road—pork adobo and chicken relleno, name your dish. How about it, paisanos?

The DANCERS stare at FIL blankly, as though they don’t understand him. They react in Filipino. He suddenly comes back to his senses. (The single stagelight slowly fades out on him.) He shakes his head. He quickly steps down from the chair and returns to his former spot. He retrieves his handkerchief from his pocket and wipes his face. He looks around. He notices a group of DANCERS. He takes a deep breath, then approaches them.

Magandang umaga. I’m Fil Acayan. May I invite you to my apartment?

The group treats FIL with some respect. They smile, but they look as though they find FIL’s appearance filthy. Two of them speak:

DANCER 1 (Stands up.) Ah, sir… (Looks at his companions.)

DANCER 2 Excuse us, please.

The group walks away from FIL. There are several female DANCERS standing at one corner. They are talking to one another. He approaches them.

FIL May I invite you to my apartment, ladies?

DANCER 3 (Sees FIL’s hand. Tries not to show her disgust.) Thanks for the invitation…

DANCER 4 … but we have no more time. (Slowly pulls her companions away.)

FIL approaches another group of DANCERS. They are sitting in a sofa.

FIL May I take you all for a stroll along the lakeshore drive?

DANCER 5 Lakeshore drive? I know the place! (Turns to her companions.) Everyone, follow me.
(Stands up. Looks at FIL.) Excuse us, please.

The group walks away. FIL looks a little discouraged, but brightens up when a male DANCER seems to be waving at him. He waves back. Someone is tapping FIL’s shoulder. He turns around.

DANCER 6 (Holds a camera.) Could you step aside, sir?

FIL realizes that he’s in the way. He quickly steps aside. He quietly watches them take pictures. He sits in the sofa. A bus is heard in the background. The faces of the DANCERS lighten up and they exit the stage. FIL stays behind. His face shows defeat. The bus is heard moving on and moving away. The lobby shifts back to being the apartment. Afternoon.

FIL (As if talking to someone. Looks and sounds sad.) I told myself then: Let them have fun.
They’re still young and far away from home. I have no business messing up their schedule,
or force myself on them. (Pause.) I didn’t know how I’ll tell Tony of my failure when I
went back to the apartment. But he was not there. I didn’t know why, but I felt sooo tired.
I wanted to explain everything to Tony…

FIL slowly closes his eyes, but he does not lie down. He is dreaming. TONY enters, and looks as if he has some great news. He approaches FIL.

TONY Hey Fil! Listen, I’ve discovered a new way of keeping afloat.

FIL Who wants to keep afloat?

TONY Just in case. In a shipwreck, for example.

FIL Hayaan mo na iyan. I must tell you about the dancers.

TONY But this is important! This way, you can keep floating indefinitely.

FIL What for?

TONY Say in a ship… I mean, in an emergency, you’re stranded without help in the middle of
the Pacific or the Atlantic, you must keep floating till help comes…

FIL Even better, find a way to reach shore before the sharks smell you. You discover that.

TONY (Loses his excitement.) I will.

TONY exits, but FIL speaks as though he’s still there.

FIL There they were, who could have been my children—or yours, Tony—if I—or you—had
not left home. But by the way they had acted earlier, it was as if they had been briefed too
well: Do not talk to strangers. Ignore their invitations. Be extra careful in the big cities
like New York or Chicago. Beware of the oldtimers, the Pinoys. Most of them are bums.
Keep away from them. Make sure you stick together at all times. Entertain only those
who have been introduced to you properly.

(Silence.) What do I have to do? Scream out my good intentions? Beat my breast to prove
to them how harmless I am, how I love them? Oh, but I love them. (Pause.) All I wanted
was to talk to them, guide them around Chicago, spend money on them so that they
would have something special to remember about us here when they return to our country.
They would tell their family and friends—

The DANCERS come out on stage, one by one, before FIL finishes talking. They are all wearing costumes. They linger around him. Some face him; others group into twos or threes, talking to each other as though talking to a family member or friend back home. They will divide the following lines among themselves:

THE DANCERS We met a kind old man, who took us to his apartment… It wasn’t much of a place. It was
old—like him… When we sat in the sofa, the bottom sank heavily. I think the springs were
already broken… No, it’s just because you’re so fat!… Now that’s too much! But what a
cook that man was! And how kind! We never thought that rice and adobo could be that
delicious. And the chicken relleno!… Oh yes, the chicken was truly delicious! Never had it
tasted like that!… When someone asked what the stuffing was, he just smiled and said—

FIL (Touches his forehead and presses his chest.) From heaven’s supermarket.

THE DANCERS He had this tape recorder which he called a “magic sound mirror”… And he had all of us
record their voices.

FIL Pakiusap, say anything in the dialect. Sing. Please, sing out kundiman.

The DANCERS sing a short kundiman.

THE DANCERS Oh, we had fun listening to the playback. Over and over!… And then he told us—

FIL When you’re gone, I shall listen to your voices with my eyes closed and you’ll be here
again. I won’t ever be alone, not anymore, after this. From now on, I won’t ever be alone.

THE DANCERS We wanted to cry… But he looked very funny!… So we laughed… (All at once.) And
he laughed with us!

The DANCERS leave the stage one by one, their laughter trailing behind them. FIL continues laughing until he becomes short of breath and holds his chest. He opens his eyes. He glances at the tape recorder. He looks at it carefully. His face lights up.

FIL (Laughs.) Tama! It’s still possible! (Grabs the tape recorder and kisses it.) Mabuti’t naisip
ko! A great idea! I still have a chance!

FIL returns the tape recorder to its place and begins fixing himself, as if he’s going somewhere. Evening. An auditorium seat appears onstage. FIL grabs the tape recorder again.

(As though talking to somebody. Excited.) Even if I wasn’t able to invite the dancers, I
can still record their performance. I’ll bring my “magic sound mirror” to the show. (Walks
to the seat.) I’ll sit right up at the front. (Sits.) I’m sure it’ll be easy for it to capture
their songs and dances.

The show begins. The first group of DANCERS enters. As the music begins they start dancing the wasiwas (or whatever folk dance the director wants to use). They perform a shortened version of it. A healthy round of applease greets them once they finish the dance.

The first group of DANCERS exits; a second one enters. As the music begins they start dancing the tinikling (or whatever folk dance the director wants to use). They perform a shortened version of it. A strong round of applause greets them once they finish the dance.

The second group of DANCERS exits; a GUITARIST and a VOCALIST enter. They perform a shortened version of “Lagi Kitang Naaalala.” Afterwards, thunderous applause.

FIL (Stands up. Applauds.) Thank you, my children! Maraming salamat!

The GUITARIST and the VOCALIST bow before they exit. FIL leaves the seat and returns to the table in the apartment. He puts the tape recorder on it. He sits. He plays the sounds he had recorded at the show. The volume gradually rises. In the room, TONY is sleeping.


TONY lets out a loud groan, startling FIL. He becomes confused for a moment. He embraces the tape recorder very tightly. He accidentally rewinds the tape and starts erasing its contents. He is unaware of this.

FIL (Recalls something.) What did the doctor say, Tony? Ano’ng sinabi niya?

TONY does not answer. FIL enters the room.

What did he say, Tony? What did the doctor say?

TONY (Pause.) So they didn’t come after all?

FIL (More insistent.) What did the doctor say, kaibigan?

TONY I knew they wouldn’t come. But that’s all right. The apartment is old, anyhow. And it
smells of death.

FIL How you talk. In this country, there’s a cure for everything.

TONY I guess we can’t complain. We had it good here all the time. Most of the time, anyway.

FIL But I wish they had come. Pwede ko sila—

TONY Yes, they could have. I could have seen them, but they didn’t have to see me. Tell me,
Fil. What do they really look like?

FIL They’re beautiful, Tony. All of them, but especially the girls. Their complexion looks
so smooth; and their long hair, so shiny. Their sparkling eyes seem to say things to you.
Their lips are as red as roses; and their teeth, like pearls. And their scent is like the scent
of the calachuchi, your favorite flower.

They look at each other. They slowly break into laughter.

Ikaw kasi, eh. It’s too bad you didn’t watch them. But no matter, I was able to record
all their—

FIL begins to hear a strange noise, faint at first, as though something is gnawing on something. He tries to find the source. He notices the tape recorder. He sees that it’s erasing the tape.

FIL becomes frantic. He flies out of the room and runs towards the table. He stops the tape recorder. He rewinds the tape, then plays it. No sound comes out of it, except for a faint, static-like sound. He rewinds and plays it again and again; the result remains the same. He covers his mouth. He looks defeated.

(Looks towards the room.) They’re all gone, Tony. Wala na.

FIL bites his lips and forces himself not to cry. He notices the light from the window. It’s already morning. The living room of the apartment gradually becomes the nursing home again. He sits. He looks at the tape recorder.

(As if talking to someone.) Tony was gone when spring arrived. His illness grew worse a
few days before—wait a minute, mali yata—after Christmas. From the start I wanted to
bring him to the hospital, but he refused. He was so stubborn. But in the end I finally
convinced—or was it forced? –-him. He never came out of the hospital since then. (Pause.)
The wake lasted for only a few days. Only few came. Few also attended the funeral. Most
of them were his former colleagues from the station. He had worked as a porter.
His tombstone was simple: Antonio Bataller. 1905—or 1906?—to 1961. In loving memory
of a friend. (Pause. Thinks aloud.) Is it really like this? Is this what we got for being
American? (Shakes his head. Smiles a little.) I don’t think so. Hindi, hindi. (Pause.) But
I’m afraid. At first, I had a hard time remembering dates. Then, the names of my
companions here. Just the other day, I woke up and was disturbed to find that I’m having
a hard time recalling how my parents looked like. Natatakot ako. I’ll meet with Dr.
Thompson tomorrow. Tomorrow, or the day after next? (Pause.) I hope he brings some
good news.

FIL looks at the tape recorder. He ejects the tape from the tape deck. He replaces it with another one, then plays it.

(Thinks.) College kids? Oo. Singing Christmas carols. (Pause.) Wait. Is it “We Three
Kings?” Teka, mali. “The First Noel.”

He stops the recorder. He ejects the tape, puts in another one, and plays it.

(Thinks. Smiles.) Fireworks during the Fourth of July. Hold on—was it this year’s? Or
maybe last year’s?

He stops the recorder. He ejects the tape, puts in another one, and plays it.

(Thinks. Becomes sad.) Excited children on their way to school. Hindi. On their way
home from school. (Nods.) That’s it.

He stops the recorder. He ejects the tape, puts in another one, and plays it.

(Thinks.) Birds chirping outside my window—or was it at the park? Teka. No. At the
cemetery? Oo. The cemetery yata.

He stops the recorder. He ejects the tape and puts in another one. He looks outside the window and notices that it’s starting to snow. He smiles.

Lights fade out on stage.


This play won First Prize for the One-Act Play in the 2005 Palanca Awards

One Act Play

A one act play, or more commonly in the US "one act", or "one-act", is a play that takes place in one act or scene, as opposed to plays that take place over a number of acts. They can be in one, or more scenes, but they tend to be simpler and have fewer props, scenery and cast members (sometimes only one). Such plays are often showcased in a series. They are ideal for high school or college drama students as well as small venues and dinner theaters. Unlike other plays which usually are published one play per book, one acts are usually published in anthologies or collections. David Ives's book All in the Timing includes examples of one act plays. In the UK shorter plays are generally known as 'Playlets'.