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.

1 comment:

cupcake_educ said...

i am an education student and i am taking phil lit at tcc..this site is a great help to ma'am mendoza's requirement for the course..godbless

Lovely Grace D.