The Smell of the After Storm

By Kwesi M. Junsan
One-act Play

(This play was staged at the 5th Drama Fesival of Apat sa Taglamig, a theater group based in Koronadal City, South Cotabato, in 2017.)

CHARACTERS
ROSA—Early 50s. Widow.
SITOY —Late 20s. Fisherman.
TOTO—Late teens. Student.

SETTING
In a small cottage made of bamboo by the seaside lives a family of three: Rosa, Sitoy, and Toto. A figurine of the Virgin Mary is in the family’s sala with the husband’s portrait. A thunderstorm is brewing in the small village.

Amber light flickers like lightning. ROSA, SITOY, and TOTO are praying “Hail Mary” in English and Hiligaynon together. The thunder keeps on getting louder. ROSA, SITOY, and TOTO are blocked separately instead of kneeling side-by-side. Blacks out. Light fades on. ROSA prepares coffee and packs bulad, while TOTO hurries out of the bedroom and searches for something in the sala.

ROSA: Maayong aga, To! Aren’t you late for class?

TOTO: Uhm, Nay, have you seen my box?

ROSA: (Ignoring the question) I don’t want to see Sir Rafael again diri sa balay complaining of your laziness and tardiness. Bal-an mo nga he can’t stand the smell of our livelihood: (With the palm up, moves her hand from one side to the other) Osang’s special ginamos kag bulad. He would play his panyo like . . . (Covers her nose with her shawl) It is decent, Toto.

TOTO: Nay . . .

ROSA: O, ano nga box?

TOTO: The box I keep under my bed with my old notebooks.

ROSA: Have you asked your Manong?

TOTO: Si Manong?

ROSA: But if Sir Rafael comes here again, I will spill a bottle of ginamos sa iyang polo kag slap his face with my special bulad. How’s that?

TOTO: (Whispering) If you had sold it, you could have paid for my tuition fee by now.

ROSA: Ano? May ginahambal ka?

TOTO: Wala.

TOTO finds his box, opens it, takes out his umbrella inside his bag, and hides the gun in his bag. ROSA, curious, walks toward TOTO.

ROSA: Oh, you’ve found it, finally. I asked your Manong to move your— Why in a hurry suddenly? (ROSA’s presence startles TOTO so much, he almost hits the statuette of the Virgin Mary.) Ang birhen! If your tatay was still alive, he would swat you. Pasaway ni nga bata. How many times do I have to tell—

TOTO: Tatay, Tatay! Pirmi na lang! (Walks away from his mother and sits on the bamboo chair) Haven’t you and Manong buried him deep?

ROSA: (Points to her son) Don’t swear at your Tatay’s grave!

TOTO: Why are we always talking about the dead, Nay?

ROSA: How dare you!

TOTO: Why do you keep on reminding me of the past, the past that dulls all the time?

ROSA: Toto . . .

ROSA walks back to her chore.

TOTO: Yudiputa! You always remind me—

ROSA: (Slams the table) Your mouth!

TOTO: That I am never there, that I am not part of the family.

ROSA: (Speaking calmly) It’s not like that, Toto.

TOTO: What? What is it that I have not understood from your ramblings?

ROSA: (Breathing deeply and wiping her tears) Soon, langga. Soon, it will make sense. (Pauses) Oh, aren’t you late? Bring this pack of bulad and give it to Sir Rafael (chuckles) and he might understand your absence. Bati ko, his rich boyfriend is having an affair with one of the fishermen. Agi gid!

TOTO: Tsismis!

ROSA: Tood! It was Tina who told me.

TOTO: Tina? Tina Lakingbaba? Ang buang? Even the fishes you dry wouldn’t believe her words. That big-mouthed sirena! Tira—

TOTO did not finish his word tirahon midway. TOTO points his finger like a gun to ROSA.

ROSA: (Laughs) Buangit ka gid, Toto, like your father. (TOTO prepares and walks to the right exit.) To, ang bulad!

TOTO: (Jokingly) Nay, soon it will make sense.

ROSA laughs and prepares the pack of dried fishes.

TOTO: (Whispering) Nay, ang tuod, Sir Rafael doesn’t like your gifts.

ROSA: Ano?

TOTO: Never mind.

ROSA: (Sniffs) Ang hangin. The storm. I hope Sitoy—

TOTO: Manong is fine. He is a big man, Nay. Soon, I will be like him.

ROSA: But first, go to school and study your lessons. Kag, To, bring your—

TOTO: Asus, dako na ko! Ang akon?

ROSA hands the pack of bulad and allowance. TOTO grabs them, kisses his mother, and exits fast.

TOTO: (Shouting happily) Thank you, Nay!

ROSA: To, that’s for Sir Rafael! (Finds TOTO’s umbrella) To, ang imo payong! Ambot nga bata. Paghalong! (Turns on the radio and goes back to work. Suddenly, she reminisces. She takes Jun’s framed picture from the foot of the Virgin Mary figurine.) Jun, if you were still alive, it wouldn’t be this hard for me to raise two boys. It wouldn’t be this hard for Toto to know you. Si Sitoy, he wouldn’t exchange the land for the sea. I wouldn’t have to argue with Toto every morning or worry about Sitoy’s safety. Kung namati ka lang sa akon, things would have been different. They need you. Remember what Tatay Lucio told us? Remember how he died of anger? (Laughs) Pero you were very persistent. Ako nga bruha, I believed the things you said. Bata pa ta, attracted to love. “Rosa, ginahigugma ko ikaw.” Jun, I love you too. I am still ashamed to admit that I was caught off-guard when you shouted it in front of Tatay. After that, he would always exclaim Barbaro! Bandido! every time I mentioned your name. Kung kis-a, he would chase me with his prized paha. I always laughed. But now, I understand what Tatay meant. Hindi lang gugma ang rason para mabuhi. You failed me! (Pauses. Laughs for a moment.) Mali si Tatay no? Sa tuod lang, Jun . . . you were right. You gave me reasons to survive. Even though you left, you gave me Sitoy and Toto. They are now taller. Life isn’t that hard. Sa akon lang, life would have been harder if you had not fought for the things that you believed were right. I am still happy maskin way ka dun. Look after us, Mahal. (The radio distracts Rosa: news on extrajudicial killings and a possible storm surge. She puts back the framed picture and pays respect to the Virgin Mary’s statuette. She laughs.) Ambot na lang gid! The storm is turning me into Amor Powers. Ano na kaya natabo kay Eduardo? I hope the electricity won’t be cut off tonight. Bwisit nga SOCOTECO! Puro pangako! Maayo pa Pangako Sa ’Yo. Pwe!

SITOY enters from the right exit. ROSA helps SITOY take off his raincoat and prepares coffee. SITOY smokes.

ROSA: Nak, how was it?

SITOY: Not good. Short.

ROSA: (Teasing) Tsekwa?

SITOY: Gahaman! They won’t leave their post. They barricaded us. Linti nga mga Intsik! They almost killed Ado! Ado only wanted to talk to them, to at least fish for a night.

ROSA: And Ado?

SITOY: He is fine. A few bruises and nearly drowned. Salamat, I saw him first. I wish I had killed that Chinese.

SITOY punches in the air. ROSA offers him coffee.

ROSA: Drink this, langga. It will soothe you. Don’t let the storm eat you.

SITOY: Nay, are you OK?

ROSA: Ha?

SITOY: Your smell . . .

ROSA: Baho? Ay, this is the smell of Osang’s special ginamos kag bulad.

SITOY: No, Nay.

ROSA: Sitoy, you are just being too sensitive again. It has been years. We are far. Isolated. Nobody can find us here.

SITOY: Nay, what if we had not left that land?

ROSA: Ang duta?

SITOY: Righteously ours.

ROSA: Nak, we promised. We promised to look forward. To build a new life and not look back. Your tatay would have agreed.

SITOY: There is nothing new, Nay. Everything is the same. Can’t you see? Even the sea is now owned by the Chinese, like the land that our katigulangan cultivated. Where are the promises? These people who speak of themselves as gods. Promises broken, yet tolerated by the poor. Nay, ang kagagmayan ang kaluluoy. Kita. Even the fishes can’t keep us alive.

ROSA: May mahimo kita, nak?

SITOY: Kung waay lang ta nagpabulag. Kung waay lang ta namati sa butig sing mga di matuod nga makaako. If we had listened to our problems instead, would we be like this?

ROSA: We cannot undo our actions.

SITOY: Yet we repeat our mistakes.

ROSA: It is not a repetition, nak. It is the chance for us to survive.

SITOY: Survive? We are more at risk.

ROSA: Peligro? Amo na ini ang peligroang kabuhi. What we can do is to stay neutral. I don’t have anything to risk again, Sitoy. Not with your tatay gone.

SITOY: Nay, if we could start the change—

ROSA: Change? Isn’t that what your tatay had always shouted? Ano natabo? He left us with broken promises like the gods you are speaking of. It is for us to pray for grace. The son of Mary will help us. He is the true God.

SITOY: Religion is the addiction of the poor.

ROSA: (Laughs) Aren’t we poor?

SITOY: Fake beliefs, Nay.

ROSA: It gives us hope.

SITOY: Hope for what? Even hope has left my spirit.

ROSA: I cannot help you anymore, Sitoy. It is you who decide your fate.

SITOY: If you had not accepted the money from—

ROSA: You don’t know what you are saying.

SITOY: I saw it with my own eyes.

ROSA: Hindi na matuod.

SITOY: Ano ang matuod? Silence? Tatay was right, and I know you agree, Nay. We saw it. We saw how they butchered him. Do not deny it. Look at me, Nay. Am I telling lies? They are the one who lied! Sin-o? The people who took our lands. Tatay only wanted what we owned, to start anew.

ROSA: You are too young to understand the situation.

SITOY: Kagulangon? Numbers. Hindi na tuod. (Pauses) Nakita ko ang pusil nga gingamit. This was how they pointed the gun, Nay. (Points his finger at his mother) What could tatay do? He was facing dogs—dogs that live on garbage. Mga bayaran! Tatay never owned a gun. Nobody in this family did. Tatay had been fighting for our rights and his people. We—he—only wanted the land ning mga balangitaw had taken from us. Mga buwaya! What did they do? They wanted blood—a sacrificial pig for their stolen lands. “We are not rebels. He gave us hope. He made us believe that we could dream and get the land we are seeking peacefully.” Till now, mabatian ko pa ang mga hibi nila. Our neighbors who are also seeking justice, ano na natabo sa ila? Sa aton? Will Toto know about this?

ROSA: Not Toto.

SITOY: San-o pa?

ROSA: We are just victims of the situation, Sitoy. Why are we talking about this?

SITOY: Nay, did you accept Mayor’s money?

ROSA: (Fidgeting) Oo. (Pauses) Look! (Points at her fish products with her open hand) Now, I can help you raise money for Toto’s tuition.

SITOY: Nay!

ROSA: Sitoy, it is not what you think it is. This is for your own safety and Toto’s.

SITOY: Safety? I saw men engulfed by the sea, never to be found again. A small sacrifice for the fishes we’ve caught. Nakita ko ang Intsik kung paano nila gusto patyon si Ado. Ado would be another sacrifice. Who to fear, Nay? The sea? The illegal Chinese fishermen? The storm? Or the corrupt? Their bullets? None. You are the one who is always right no? It was you who said God should be feared most. But what do you call those hypocrites, ha? The one who doesn’t fear God? The one who dresses and preaches like God?

ROSA: Pamati ka! You will never understand me. I am a mother. Gusto ko lang

SITOY: Ano, Nay? Look at them—the fishermen. Ado’s wife is pregnant again. Diin mangita si Ado sing kwarta? Borrow from Mayor? Isn’t his money our money? Isn’t his protection ours in the first place? Diin si Ado mangita kwarta para sa pagkaon nila? Ado can’t even open his eyes, or walk. Mayor’s money can’t buy us safety. It can’t make the Chinese go away from our sea. It can’t pay for the damage. It can’t pay for the past.

ROSA: You are always trying to be righteous.

SITOY: Isn’t that what Tatay taught us? Ha? Wake up, Nay. Bugtaw na. We can’t erase it. We can’t be apologists all the time.

ROSA: (Pauses) Nothing, Sitoy. Soon it will make sense.

SITOY: Why are we always trapped in the eye of the storm?

ROSA: The storm will end, like the storm ten years ago.

SITOY: The smell . . .

ROSA: It won’t let go.

SITOY: Nay, sorry.

ROSA: There is nothing to be sorry about, Sitoy.

SITOY: (Pauses) Si Toto?

ROSA: He went to school late today.

SITOY: (Laughs) San-o pa siya magbag-o?

ROSA: You know your brother, as stubborn as you are.

SITOY: Nay, naman. Bal-an niya?

ROSA: Know what?

SITOY: About Toto’s— (SITOY worries that someone might hear him. He changes his answer to ROSA’s question.) The money.

ROSA: Anak, try this cardillo. Namit?

TOTO enters wet.

ROSA: Toto, this is what I’ve been telling you!

ROSA rubs TOTO, while SITOY prepares coffee.

SITOY: The storm is getting stronger.

ROSA: Hurry, Sitoy.

SITOY exits to the left.

ROSA: Canceled classes, Toto? You should have stayed at school.

TOTO: Nay . . .

ROSA: Dungol nga bata! Sitoy!

SITOY enters with towel from the left.

SITOY: Ikaw gid, Toto. (Laughs) Look! Nanay looks like a hungry pig.

TOTO: Nay . . .

ROSA: Langga, next time di pagkalimti.

SITOY: How’s school?

TOTO: Same.

SITOY: Same what, Toto? Bad grades again? (Laughs)

SITOY grabs TOTO’s bag. TOTO hesitates, but gives the bag to SITOY. SITOY puts it on the bamboo chair.

ROSA: Ambot na lang gid! I told you to go home early and study, but you prefer going out late at night, and what?

TOTO: My grades aren’t that bad, Nay.

SITOY: (Teasing) Then what, Toto?

TOTO: It’s just that Sir Rafael gave us tons of projects, and it is eating my time. (Coughs)

ROSA: Langga, your final exams are coming next week.

SITOY: I’ll guess—tuition?

ROSA: Shhh . . . Sitoy.

SITOY: Why do we have to pay for his tuition? Abi ko iskolar si Toto? (Smirks) Abi nyo di ko bal-an? I’ve heard the two of you talking about you (points at Toto) dropping out last week.

ROSA: Tama na, Sitoy.

SITOY: Ngaa abi? Bad grades? Ay, mali, mali. I guess you stole money from your teacher no? Or someone saw you kissing a girl again? Ikaw, Toto, you are a silent manyak. Way mo ginahambal may chicks ka na naman nga bag-o.

TOTO: Manong!

SITOY: Bal-an ko na! You punched Diego again no?

TOTO: Dugay na na nga isyu.

SITOY: Then what? Ngaa pa ta magbayad tuition mo? They can’t even afford to build new classrooms. Or even renovate the old ones. How many students are there in your classroom, Toto? And you need to divide your classroom to accommodate another section. I don’t see why we people who wake up early and struggle to survive have to pay for education that isn’t meant for us?

TOTO: Sir Rafael promised free education.

SITOY: Free of what, Toto? Gago ka ba? The educational system has enslaved us. Haven’t you heard the news?

TOTO: Why are you asking so many questions, Manong? Could we just live peacefully? Bear it?

SITOY: Gadaman ka? Where is that place, Toto?

ROSA: Here we go again. Tilawi nyo ning luto ko.

TOTO: It’s Sitoy, Nay.

SITOY: Ako na naman?

ROSA: Ikaw, Sitoy, you are too old for that childish argument. Waay ka na gid nagtigulang tarong. What would have Jun tell me?

SITOY: (Laughs) I just, well, don’t see why people are so enamored with Rafael’s words. Isn’t it devious, Nay?

ROSA: You are overthinking again, Sitoy. Could you just open your mouth and eat my special cardillo before the storm eats you?

TOTO: Nay, namit.

SITOY: (Teasing TOTO) Nay, namit. (Laughs)

ROSA: What’s funny, Sitoy?

SITOY: Oh! Why doesn’t Rafael give us a treat tonight? Toto, ask him.

ROSA: Sitoy, sobrahan ka na. When are you going to stop that?

TOTO: Manong is right. Where is Tatay whenever I need him? While Sir Rafael is always there looking out for me. Who are you (points his finger at SITOY) to judge me for having poor grades when I sleep late to help Nanay finish her chores while you’re out in the sea, for punching Diego because he insulted me for wearing the same uniform every day? I didn’t kiss Anna. A jerk pushed me to her. Oh, am I not so lucky? Did it matter when I tell them the truth? No. Stealing money from a teacher—what’s new? What happened, Sitoy, when I told them that I needed that money to pay my school bills? Did Nanay and you believe me? No. It was Sir Rafael—no, Mayor—who believed me, who believes the ability to change within us. We, the lost causes. Where is father? Tay, diin ka? Under our feet! Can’t you see? He’s been eaten by worms. I’m sure by now he is bare bones, kalansay. Only dogs eat rubbish. And who is next? You, Sitoy? (Laughs. Pauses.) No. Sorry. I was wrong. I don’t have a father in the first place. Didn’t you know?

ROSA: Toto, what are you saying?

TOTO: Wow! Can you believe it, Sitoy?

SITOY: Believe what?

TOTO: You are blind.

SITOY: Shut up, Toto!

TOTO: Nay, tell him! Tell us the truth!

ROSA: Toto, Sitoy . . .

SITOY: Nay . . .

ROSA: Don’t get angry, Sitoy, but Toto is right. Jun and I couldn’t bear children. Baog ako.

TOTO: See! I am not the only one who’s blind here. Sitoy, we are the same. We are sons of miscarriages of the past.

SITOY: Nay, ngaa?

ROSA: I promised your Tatay I wouldn’t tell you anything, that we would live another life away from his burden. He insisted! But loved both of you like our real children.

TOTO: So, Sitoy, it wasn’t that hard to know the truth. Mayor told me everything. Isn’t he great, Sitoy? It is the truth that will set us free.

SITOY: You are wrong, Toto. You are following a blind leader—a heretic.

TOTO: Don’t talk like you know everything.

ROSA: Langga . . .

TOTO: Langga?

ROSA: Adopting you and Sitoy has never been a mistake. Palangga ko kamo. It was love that made Jun and I take the two of you from the slums of war.

SITOY: I saw our house with my parents and siblings burned by the armies. Because they accused my parents as sympathizers. How dare they!

ROSA: Toto, I found your tiny body in a basket floating in the river, cold from the hissing wind. The next day, I heard that Sitio Hagonoy had been raided. I never doubted my love for you. We fed you. We dressed you. We acted as real parents.

SITOY: Nay, ngaa?

ROSA: I was framed up by Sir Rafael.

TOTO: A lie!

ROSA: What lie? I know what you are doing at night, Toto. I saw it with my own eyes. All I want is—

TOTO: You are disturbing the peace of the sea, Sitoy!

SITOY: Diin siya? In Peru, Cambodia, Singapore, China? How I wish the ocean would send me to other countries and live another life. Yes, life—lives—here are rotten like the smelly ginamos of yours, Nay.

TOTO: It is in exchange of peace. Peace talk, Sitoy. Haven’t you heard of that? Tatay spoiled you with peace. You are a son of an uneducated farmer!

SITOY: A proud farmer!

ROSA: Toto, he is still your father!

TOTO: He is long forgotten, Nay. What is important to me is the promise of the new system.

SITOY: New system. The Mayor? Yes, you are right, they will send away the Chinese, but one day, you’ll wake up and realize it’s the new system who will throw us back to the land. (Laughs) Making the sea reservoir? Sure, sounds good, Toto. But when you see the Chinese stealing our precious taklobo, our island’s remaining treasure, you think we, the fishermen, would love to give it away? No, we want blood for blood. This is our sea. Only for Filipinos.

TOTO: Tikal, Sitoy!

SITOY: And what do you call Ado? Collateral damage? Damage for change, you call it.

TOTO: You should be the one going to school rather than me. Isn’t that what you want, know-it-all?

SITOY: Tama ka. After all, the price of the island has been paid by the Tsekwa in full cash. Who would refuse that sum? Your godly new father, Sir Rafael? The mayor, your highness? (Laughs)

TOTO: Be careful with your words, Manong.

SITOY: Manong!

ROSA: Sitoy, calm down.

SITOY: Sin-o ang ginatawag mo nga manong? You don’t have a family to come back to, Toto. Let your putang inang diyos mag-jetski sa dagat! You fucking sold your shit to a devil.

TOTO: I don’t have a choice, Sitoy. (Takes out the gun from his bag)

ROSA: Toto, don’t!

SITOY: Where did you get that?

ROSA: It was my fault!

SITOY hugs ROSA.

SITOY: (Hugging Rosa) No, Nay. No.

ROSA: I knew, I knew this would happen. I followed you one night, and I couldn’t believe what I saw. You shot Tina’s son! Nakibot ako. Before I could shout your name, Mayor saw me.

SITOY: Why didn’t you tell me, Nay?

ROSA: I was scared, langga. I was scared that Rafael would kill both of you. I can’t live without my sons. In exchange, I had to tell him our past. My only valuable to sell. Sorry, Sitoy! Sorry, Toto!

SITOY: What have you done! (To TOTO) Toto, look what you have become!

TOTO: I needed money to pay the school bills, and Sir Rafael lent me money. I told him I’d pay him later. But I couldn’t, Sitoy. So I worked for Mayor. I would come home late because I was working for Mayor. Sa una, galimpyo lang ako office. But he later gave me this. (Lifts the gun) Do you know what it felt the first time, Sitoy?

SITOY: Toto . . .

TOTO: Disgusting. It disgusted me. Everything was pitch dark. Nobody knew. Nobody saw except me and Mayor. It took many storms before it cleansed me. Now, whenever I hold this gun, I feel a desire to kill someone. I am nobody’s son anymore, Sitoy. I live for change, and you are the corrupt. (Points the gun to SITOY)

ROSA: Toto, do not let your anger blind you.

TOTO: Mayor gave me a new meaning, Nay. Now, my Manong Sitoy, whom I once loved, should end his life with this gun. You have been disobeying him for years, Nong. But Nanay made me promise to spare your life, but now I have no reason to keep that promise.

Amber light flickers. A sound of thunder erupts.

ROSA: Toto, stop!

Sound of two gun shots. Light fades on.

SITOY & TOTO: Nay!

ROSA’s body lies on the floor, blood gushing from her bullet wounds. SITOY hugs ROSA.

SITOY: Toto, can you smell the after storm?

TOTO: Dugo!

Toto runs to right exit. Sitoy wails. Light fades off.

CURTAIN

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Liar Goes to Hell

By Allan Ace Dignadice
One-act Play

Mga Tauhan
Christian
Lucipher
Isang Lalaki

Tagpuan
Kasalukuyang panahon, sa ganghaan ng impiyerno.

Pagbukas ng ilaw at tabing, makikita ang isang malaking pulang pinto. Puti ang buong paligid maliban sa pinto. Sa gilid nito, may isang matandang lalaking nakaupo sa bangko. May darating na mas batang lalaki.

CHRISTIAN: Excuse me po, Manong, nasaan po tayo? Anong lugar po ito?

LUCIPHER: Nasa pinto ka papuntang impiyerno, iho.

CHRISTIAN: Naku! Sinasabi ko na nga ba! Sandali lang, kuya ha. Klaruhin lang natin. May rubrics ba kung paano ni’yo malalaman kung saan mapupunta ang tao pag namatay?

LUCIPHER: Nagbabasa ka ba ng Bibliya?

CHRISTIAN: O-oo naman!

LUCIPHER: E, bakit ka pa nagtatanong?

CHRISTIAN: E, kasi nga, nagsisimba ako tuwing Linggo. Nangungumpisal, nangongomunyon. Hindi ba sapat ‘yong mga saging na ino-offer ko tuwing Pasko? Saan napupunta ‘yong mga sukli na inilalaglag ko sa donation box?  Nagdarasal naman ako . . . Kaya nga, Manong, tinatanong kita, may rubrics ba kung paano mo malalaman ang kahahantungan ng isang tao?

LUCIPHER: Una, may iilang mali sa mga sinabi mo, iho. Base sa Bibliya, ang Sabbath Day ay nasa huling araw ng isang linggo, kaya kung pagbabasehan mo ang Gregorian Calendar, Sabado ka dapat magsimba. Pagkatapos, kung may reklamo ka tungkol sa pangungumpisal, komunyon, at mga offering mo, hindi naman ako ang arsobispo ng parokya ni’yo. Hindi dito ang lugar para magreklamo ka tungkol sa relihiyon mo. At panghuli, hindi ako ang nagpapasya kung saan mapupunta ang namatay na mga tao.

CHRISTIAN: E, sino?

LUCIPHER: Nagbabasa ka nga ba talaga ng Bibliya?

CHRISTIAN: Ano . . . A, kasi . . . Sige na nga, wala namang magbabago. Hindi! Ni minsan hindi.

LUCIPHER: Talaga! Hindi mo alam ang John 3:16? Kahit ang 1 John 4:8 na “God is love”?

CHRISTIAN: Nakikita ko lang ‘yong isang verse sa bus na lagi kong sinasakyan.

MATANDANG LALAK: Meron naman pala. Ano naman ‘yan?

CHRISTIAN: YBL 62019, “God Bless Our Trip.”

LUCIPHER: Hindi ka nga nagbabasa ng Bibliya. Teka, teka. Nagsisimba ka rin nga ba?

CHRISTIAN: Ay, oo naman. Kahit ‘yan, pagsisinungalingan ko pa ba?

LUCIPHER: Mamatay man?

CHRISTIAN: ‘Yan pa talaga ang banta mo sa akin, ha?

LUCIPHER: Kung nagawa mong magsinungaling na nagbabasa ka ng Bibliya, kaya mo ring magsinungaling na nagsisimba ka.

Hindi kikibo si Christian.

LUCIPHER: Tingnan mo na.

CHRISTIAN: O siya. Hindi na nga ako nagsisimba kasi Sunday shift ako sa paaralan. Pero kung walang pasok sa Linggo, dumadaan naman ako sa harap ng simbahan at nangungurus.

LUCIPHER: Totoo din kaya ‘yong kumpisal, aber?

CHRISTIAN: Kung minsan nga lang. Tapos pili lang. Kaya ko bang sabihin sa pari na nanonood ako ng porn?  Na nagma-masturbate ako sa mga magasing nabili ko sa may kanto? Hindi ko kayang sabihin ‘yon!

LUCIPHER: Sapat na bang rason ‘yon para hindi ka umako sa mga kasalanan mo sa Diyos?

CHRISTIAN: Mapagpatawad naman ang Diyos, di ba? Lagi naman siyang umiintindi. Ano pa ang dahilan na isusumbong ko ang mga kasalanan ko sa pari kung papatawarin din naman ako ng Diyos?

LUCIPHER: Ikaw ang bahala.

CHRISTIAN: Tapos hindi pa ba ako mapapatawad ng Diyos kung palagi naman akong naghuhulog ng barya sa donation box? May paprutas din akong offering kung may okasyon, Pasko, anniversary ng parokya, at Semana Santa.

LUCIPHER: Sino ba ang kumukuwestiyon sa panata mo?

CHRISTIAN: Ikaw! Kanina mo pa kinukuwestiyon ang pananampalataya ko! Hindi naman nasusukat ang pagkabanal kung palagi kang nasa simbahan. ‘Yong iba nga, mas masahol pa sa akin pero kung makaiyak sa misa akala mo nag-aparisyon sa kanila ang Birhen ng Barangay. May mga kakilala nga ako na imbes maghulog sa offering ay nangungupit pa.

LUCIPHER: Bakit mo ikinokompara ang sarili mo sa iba? Hindi ba ang kaligtasan ay indibidwal at hindi naman grupo-grupo.

CHRISTIAN: Pakiramdam ko kasi nadaya ako.

LUCIPHER: Paano ka naman nadaya?

CHRISTIAN: No’ng lumapit sa bahay namin ang mga katekista, sinabi nilang gawin ko ito, gawin ko iyan upang masalba. Gano’n din ang sinabi ng mga misyonaryong ‘Kano. At no’ng mga naggigitara na may dalang mga sobre. Tapos sa huli, wala namang nangyari. Impiyerno pa rin ang bagsak ko!

LUCIPHER: Kasi nga, wala namang relihiyon ang makakasalba. Ikaw lang at ikaw ang nakakaalam kung sapat ba ang pananampalataya mo para tanggapin ka sa Langit.

CHRISTIAN: Hindi na ba talaga ako makakapunta sa Langit?

LUCIPHER: Bakit mo naman naitanong?

CHRISTIAN: Mabait naman ang Diyos, di ba? Baka kung makiusap lang ako sa kaniya, sabihin ang mga pandaraya na sinabi ng mga tao sa akin. Ang mga rason kung bakit hindi ako laging nakakasimba o nakakakumpisal. Na sadyang nagmamadali lang ako tuwing umaga kaya di na ako nakakadasal at sa gabi nama’y pagod na kaya mabilis naiidlip. Kung makakausap ko lang ang Diyos, baka-sakaling makalusot pa ako papuntang Langit.

LUCIPHER: Bakit, ayaw mo ba dito sa Impiyerno?

CHRISTIAN: Di ba nga, tulad do’n sa mga pelikula, mainit, madilim, at nakakatakot ang Impiyerno. May di maapulang apoy, naglalagablab na mga bato, at nakakatakot na mga nilalang ang nagkukubli sa kadiliman ng Impiyerno!

Tatawa si Lucipher.

LUCIPHER: Alam mo, hindi ka lang sinungaling, madali ka pang maloko! Tingnan mo ngayon ang paligid. Ito ba ang mainit, madilim, at nakakatakot na lugar na iniisip mo? Pinananatili ko kayang malinis ang lahat dito . . . Naiinitan ka ba?

CHRISTIAN: Hindi.

LUCIPHER: Kasi nga hindi naman mainit sa Impiyerno. Ni hindi nga madilim o nakakatakot. Payapa, di ba?

Titingin sa paligid si Christian.

CHRISTIAN: Oo nga no? E, kung payapa rin dito, ano ang pinagkaiba ng Langit?

LUCIPHER: Wala! Wala talaga! Gusto lang ng Diyos na kasama niya ang mababait at malayo sa kaniya ang mga di masyadong mabait. ‘Yong mababait kasi, alam ng Diyos na madali silang susunod sa mga utos niya kaya gusto niya sila doon.

CHRISTIAN: Parang mga . . . alalay?

LUCIPHER: Kung sa konsepto mo bilang tao, e di oo.

CHRISTIAN: Nakasulat din ba ‘yan sa  Bibiliya?

LUCIPHER: Oo naman! Tingnan mong naidulot sa ‘yo ng hindi mo pagbabasa ng pinakaimportanteng aklat sa lupa.

CHRISTIAN: (Sa sarili) Kung gayon . . . A, kaya pala . . . (Sa kausap) Teka muna, sino ka ba? Bakit alam mo ang lahat ng ito? Ikaw ba ang Diyos?

LUCIPHER: Malapit na. Pero isang rangko lang na mas mababa.

CHRISTIAN: A . . . Ano . . . A.  Sirit na!

LUCIPHER: (Tatayo) Ako si Lucipher, ang “Tagapagdala ng Liwanag sa Kaharian ng Diyos!”

CHRISTIAN: Satanas? Ikaw si Satanas!

LUCIPHER: Saan mo naman napulot ang pangalang iyan?

CHRISTIAN: Diyan ka kilala sa lupa. Ikaw si Satanas, ang panginoon ng mga demonyo!

LUCIPHER: Ano? Ganyan ako sa lupa? Hindi ang “Tagapagdala ng Liwanag sa Kaharian ng Diyos?” Ang sakit naman!

CHRISTIAN: Bakit, mabait ka ba talaga at hindi masama?

LUCIPHER: Grabe naman ang tanong mo! Masyadong personal.

CHRISTIAN: Pero sabi mo sunod ka sa rangko ng Diyos, e bakit nandito ka sa Impiyerno?

LUCIPHER: At bakit hindi? Ito ang pangalawa sa mga kalupaan ng Diyos. Isa itong napakalaking responsibilidad na sinuman ay mangangarap na kunin.

CHRISTIAN: Kung gayon, ipinagkatiwala sa ‘yo ito ng Diyos mismo?

LUCIPHER: Oo, Christian. Tama ka.

CHRISTIAN: Paano mo nalaman ang pangalan ko?

LUCIPHER: Matagal na kitang sinusubaybayan, Christian. Nakita ko ang paghihirap mo upang maipakita ang pananampalataya mo. Kahit alam mong mali. Pero alam ko ang nasa puso mo. Isa kang mabuting tao.

CHRISTIAN: Isang napakalaking papuri naman muli sa ’yo, Ginoong Lucipher.

LUCIPHER: Ginoong Ipe na lang. Ipe ang palayaw ko.

CHRISTIAN: Salamat, Ginoong Ipe. Bakit ni’yo naman ako pinapanood mula dito sa Impiyerno?

LUCIPHER: Nagdaan na ang palugit ng buhay ko, Christian. Ilang dantaon na rin ang inilagi ko sa serbisyo sa ating Diyos. Inabot na ako ng katandaan at kailangan na ring magpahinga. Christian, alam kong ikaw ang pinakabagay upang humalili sa posisyong aking iiwan.

CHRISTIAN: Talaga! Ikalawa sa pinakamataas na posisyon sa Diyos? Sa akin mo talaga ibibigay?

LUCIPHER: Nakita ko kung paano mo ipinaglaban ang katotohanan sa likod ng bawat kasinungalingan sa iyong puso. Alam kong gusto mong magbago . . . Kaya tulad ng iyong hiling, kakausapin ka niya upang ipaalam sa iyo ang mga katungkulan sa bago mong posisyon.

CHRISTIAN: Hindi talaga ako makapaniwala. Kanina lang pa—

Matitigilan si Christian.

LUCIPHER: Oo, hindi ka pa patay. Hindi puwedeng magbantay sa ikalawang kalupaan ng Diyos ang isang patay. Ang kailangan ay isang buhay na taong kinayang labanan ang mga kasinungalingan na nananahan sa kaniyang puso.

CHRISTIAN: Paano naman tayo makakapunta sa Diyos? May malaki bang kamay na kukuha sa atin o may ilaw na hihigop sa atin pataas?

LUCIPHER: Ano sa tingin mo ang pintong ito?

CHRISTIAN: Huwag mong sabihing . . .

LUCIPHER: Wala talaga tayo sa Impiyerno, Christian. Narito lang tayo sa Langit. Sa labas ng Opisina ng Diyos. Kaya pumasok ka na at alam kong hinihintay ka na niya.

CHRISTIAN: Maraming salamat, Ginoong Ipe! Hindi kita bibiguin sa pagpili mo sa akin!

Mabilis na pumasok sa pinto si Christian. Agad itong nagsara. Maririnig ang mga sigaw at iyak sa likod ng pinto habang umupo muli sa bangko si Lucipher. Biglang itinaas ni Lucipher ang kaniyang palad at huminto ang lahat ng tunog.

May darating na isang lalaki.

ISANG LALAKI: Nasaan ho tayo, Manong?

Magdidilim ang ilaw at magsasara ang tabing.

Hapagkainan

By Jim Raborar
Play

(Itinanghal ang dulang ito sa 1st Drama Festival ng Apat sa Taglamig Productions, Inc. noong Pebrero 2012, sa pagdiriwang ng National Arts Month ng South Cotabato noong 2013, at sa Koronadal National Comprehensive High School noong 27-29 Disyembre 2014.)

Mga Tauhan

ELI: 36, tiyo nina Elton at Elias, matandang binata, nagsisilbing padre de pamilya ng mga Salcedo

ELIAS: 18, bunsong kapatid ni Elton, binata, 2nd year HRM na estudyante sa Maynila, guwapo at may pagkapilyo

ELLA: 23, kaibigan ng pamilya Salcedo, wedding coordinator nina Elton at Sophie

JANINE: 26, kabarkada at isa sa matatalik na kaibigan ni Elton; isang doktor sa Cebu Medical, mataray at fashionista

KELVIN: 26, best friend ni Elton, isang engineer

MIA: 26, naging classmate at matalik na kaibigan ni Elton, public teacher, unang nagkaroon ng anak sa barkada

NOAH: 6, anak ni Mia, matalinong bata

BRIGIDA: 23, assistant wedding coordinator ni Ella

ELTON: 26, kapatid ni Elias, magiging bana ni Sophie, civil engineer, katamtaman ang pangangatawan, guwapo

SOPHIE: 24, magiging asawa ni Elton, civil engineer, anak ng prominenteng pamilya sa Pampanga, maganda, matalino at mayaman pero mapagkumbaba

*

Panahon

Disyembre, taong kasalukuyan; magdadapithapon

*

Tagpo

Mangyayari ang dula sa pangalawang palapag ng bahay ng Salcedo, partikular sa palibot ng hapagkainan (na isang dining table na maaaring lapatan ng kobremesa o table runner at patungan ng isang center piece na panay prutas). Vintage type ang interior ng silid, capiz ang mga bintana, at nagkikintabang mga tabla ang dingding. Mayroon ding kahoy na estante na kinalalagyan ng picture frames ng barkada, mga libro, at mga palamuti. Sa isa pang aparador, may dinnerware na pinong tsina, glassware, at koleksiyong pangkomedor. Malapit sa lababo nakalapag ang oven toaster, blender, coffee maker, at iba pang gamit. Katabi naman ng aparador ang refrigerator at water dispenser. Sa kaliwang bahagi ng hapagkainan ang sala set na yari sa mga katutubong materyal at na may center table na pinapatungan ng mga magasin. Narito rin ang mga palamuting pam-Pasko at mga regalo para sa kasal. Sa kaliwang dulo naman ang lagusan pababa sa unang palapag.

Nasa hapagkainan si Eli na nagkakape. Naroon din si Ella na abala sa pagtsetsek ng reminders mula sa organizer nito.

Madilim ang tanghalan. Magsisimula ang overture. Musikang medley sa tugtog na pam-Pasko, pangkasal, at pambarkada. Titimplahin ang tugtog ayon sa temang komedya, malungkot, at masaya. Tatagal lamang ito ng tatlumpung segundo hanggang isang minuto.

Unti-unting liliwanag ang tanghalan kasabay ng paghina ng musika.

*

Eksena 1

ELLA: Naku, Tito Eli!  Hindi na yata kayo makakatulog nito mamaya. Imagine, magsisidatingan na ang mga barkada ni Kuya Elton. Ever supportive talaga sila sa kasalan. Si Ate Janine, dadaan daw dito sa Pantua bago tutuloy ng The Farm. Si Kuya Kelvin naman hahabol na lang daw mamaya sa dinner, tatapusin niya na lang ang isang area sa Gensan. Si Ate Mia, naku, nagloloko pa ang anak kaya baka ma-late daw sila sa dinner. Nag-iinarte pa kasi si Noah.  And the rest of the barkada ng kuya ay hahabol na lang. O, basta ang caterer, maya-maya lang ay magse-set up na ‘yon. So kailangang makapag-meet muna lahat ng kasali sa entourage bago simulan ang kainan.

ELI: E, kaya nga ako nagkakape. Para yatang ako na ang tumatayong magulang nina Elton at Elias.

ELLA: Ay, hindi halata!

ELI: Pambihira talaga ‘tong mga magulang nina Elton at Elias, ang suwerte naman! Ano pa ang magagawa nila e bukas pa sila darating. Itong si ate kasi, lahat inasa na sa ‘yo. Palibhasa’y mamera. Kawawang Elton.

Sandaling katahimikan.

ELLA: Choks lang ‘yan, Tito Eli. Kumikita naman ako.

ELI: Umayos ka. Maaga pa ako sa airport bukas at susunduin sina Ate at Kuya. Naku, wala na yatang pahingaan ‘to. Kanina, panay ang follow-up ko sa mga kaibigan ni Ate Ellen. Lahat dapat daw um-attend bukas. Kulit nang kulit kagabi pa, na isa-isahin ko raw puntahan ang invited friends niya. Sabi ko nga e, “Di pa ba sapat ‘yung invitations na ipinadala sa kanila?” Hayun, e lahat naman dadalo. Itong si Elias din, mula no’ng dumating ‘yan dito last Wednesday, aba’y bakasyunista! Alis nang alis ng bahay. Ayaw atang mawalay saglit sa siyota.  Daig pa nila ang mga langgam at kuneho!

ELLA: Kuneho, Tito? Matatawa.

ELI: Ayan inumaga na ng uwi, namumula pa ng tsikinini. Lokong batang ‘yun, wala na ngang maitulong dito sa bahay, panay pa ang labas ng kotse. Palibhasa pag nag-i-iskul ‘yun sa Maynila e nagko-commute.

ELLA: Speaking of Elias, Tito, kailangan mai-fit niya muna ang barong. Tumawag kanina ang modista, hindi pa raw nasusukat ni Elias ang damit. Kailangan daw masukat ‘yon bago dalhin

sa hotel bukas. Kailangan yatang maisukat ‘yong lalim ng armhole.

ELI: Ha! Naku, ibang lalim ang sinusukat ni Elias, Ella. Ibang hole! Matatawa.

ELLA: Tito! Matatawa rin. Whatever hole man ang dinaanan niya, basta kailangan niyang mai-fit ang barong para sa armhole niya. Or else, ihuhulog ko siya sa manhole. May maririnig na busina mula sa ibaba kaya dudungaw mula sa bintana. Ay, saglit lang, dumating na ang caterer. Bababa na muna ako.

ELI: Pakisabi namang ‘wag munang ipa-chop ang letson. At na sa komedor na lang ilapag ang softdrinks.

ELLA: Si! Tito Eli. Bababa mula sa hagdanan sa kaliwa.

*

Eksena 2

Lalabas mula sa kanang bahagi ng entablado si Elias na kagigising lang. Kukuha siya ng juice sa ref at uupo sa hapagkainan saka magbabasa ng magasin.

ELIAS: Tito, ba’t magulo sa ibaba? Ano’ng meron?

ELI: May delubyo. O, ano naman ang plano mo sa kuya mo? Go-groomsman ka ba bukas o hindi? Tawag nang tawag na ang modista, hindi mo pa raw nasusukat ang lalim. Kasi naman ibang lalim ang inaatupag mo, Elias. Naku, pag nalaman to ng Kuya Elton mo, lagot ka, sige ka.

ELIAS: Naitahi na po.

ELI: Alin? Ang lalim?

ELIAS: Tito naman e, ang barong po. Hiramin ko po sana uli ang kotse mamaya. Susunduin ko lang po si Mae.

ELI: O, kagigising mo pa lang e, si Mae na naman ang nasa kukote mo. Kahihiwalay n’yo lang kaninang madaling araw. Nagkita din kayo sa panaginip mo kanina lang. Ngayon, gising lang ang pagitan, babalikan mo na naman. Ang asikasuhin mo ay ‘yung mga pinagagawa sa iyo ni Ella. Maligo ka na nga doon! Amoy… hmmmp! Amoy “L” ka talaga.

ELIAS: Ano na naman hong “L” ‘yan? Sasabihin n’yo namang LIBOG.

ELI:  “L”… “ELIAS!” Sige na, maligo ka na. Darating ang mga barkada ng Kuya Elton mo.

ELIAS: Opo. Uubusin ang juice at gagawi na ng kuwarto niya. Tito, pahingi naman ng imported shampoo, ha.

ELI: Gamitin mo na lahat sa banyo, ‘wag lang ang towel ko.

ELIAS: Tamang-tama, dry na po ‘yung bikini n’yo sa banyo. Tatawa. Joke lang po!

ELI: Lokong batang ‘to.

*

Eksena 3

Babalik si Ella sa itaas papasok mula sa kaliwang bahagi ng tanghalan na magsisilbing lagusan patungong hagdanan, pero hindi na makikita ng mga manonood ang hagdanan.

ELLA: Okey na po, Tito. Kumpleto ang menu at may dagdag pang mga champagne. Tiyak na mag-e-enjoy tayong lahat mamaya. And you know, Tito, may bonus! A, e, sa akin na lang po

‘yon.

ELI: Naku, Ella, anong bonus-bonus na naman ‘yan, ha? Tigilan mo ako. Naku, pag hindi masarap ‘yang caterer na ‘yan e lagot ka kay Elton mamaya.

ELLA: Tito, naman, i-discount ko po, dahil nga in love sa akin ‘yong caterer! Panay ang kindat ba naman sa akin. Kaya pala no’ng nag-kitchen test kami last week e aligid nang aligid sa akin. Sinubuan pa ako. Hay, ang sarap sa lalamunan! Hahaplusin ang lalamunan saka dudungaw sa bintana. Hayun! Halika, Tito. Ang landi ng tingin, o! Dali na, Tito, tingnan mo. Kakawayan ko, ha. Magmumuwestra ng kaway, tatawa, at medyo maglalandi.

ELI: Sasama sa pagdungaw sa bintana. Magtataka at maghahanap. Alin diyan? Saan?

ELLA: ‘Yon po, o, ‘yong naka-blue. Ano ka ba, Tito? ‘Yong kumakaway.

ELI: Ha! Ilusyonada ka ba naman, Ate. Tumigil ka kung ayaw mong isang araw e home for the aged na ang catering services niyan at ikaw e maging caregiver wife. E, ang tanda na niyan! May mapapansin sa mamang naka-blue. Oy teka, pansinin mo nga kung may nunal siya sa kanang pisngi?

ELLA: Eksakto! Tandang-tanda ko po, kasi naman ‘yon lang ang bagay na gumuhit sa paningin ko no’ng idinilat ko ang mga mata ko matapos niya akong subuan.

ELI: Sigurado ka?

ELLA: Oo naman!

ELI: Siya nga!

ELLA: Oo, siya nga!

ELI: E, siya ‘yung ninong ni Elias na hindi sumipot sa binyag noong araw dahil… Naku, Ella, lagot ka diyan. Buti na lang bukas pa ang dating nina Kuya at Ate.

ELLA: Bakit ano po ‘yon? Kilala ba siya ni Elias?

ELI: Hindi! Ng Kuya Ben, oo, pero ayaw ng Ate Ellen. Naku, patay! Basta mahabang kuwento!

ELLA: Nobela?

ELI: Epiko! May fantasy pa!

ELLA: Hay naku! Naguguluhan ako. Tito Eli naman, magkuwento nga kayo.

ELI: Ang haba nga e.

ELLA: Buod! Lagom! Summary! Precis! Gist! Sige na. Or gusto n’yo, papatuluyin ko siya dito sa hapagkainan nang magkita sila ni Elias. Para maipakilala natin siya kay Elias.

ELI: Huwag! ‘Yan ang huwag mong gawin, Ella. Okey, okey, ganito kasi ‘yun… Lalapitan si Ella at ibubulong ang buod ng kuwento tungkol sa mamang naka-blue. Hindi na ito maririnig ng mga manonood.   Mandidiri at parang nasusuka si Ella.

ELLA: Ha! Si Uncle Ben? Eew!

ELI: O, dahan-dahan! Bubulong muli.

ELLA: Ano? Naki-love triangle ang pari?

ELI: Shhhh! Patuloy sa pagbulong.

ELLA: Ano’ng nangyari?

ELI: Bubulong at wawakasan ang kuwento.

ELLA: Ay, ayaw ko na! Yucks! Dudungaw muli sa bintana at hahanapin ang mamang naka-blue. Magmumuwestra ng belat. Naku, Tito, buti na lang at bukas pa nga ang dating nina Uncle Ben.   At hindi na nga maabutan ‘yang caterer na ‘yan! So, dapat hindi niya makikilala si Elias, baka kung ano pa ang sumunod sa epiko!

ELI: Kaya nga, e.  Ikaw ba naman kasi, kung bakit sila pa ‘yung kinuha mong caterer?

ELLA: E, masarap siya! Este ang sarap niya, ay este masarap ‘yong luto nila. Ano ba?

ELI: Hay, ang buhay nga naman. Kukunin ang cellphone at titingnan ang mensahe. Babasahin nang walang tunog. O, kailangan ko munang sunduin sina Mia sa mall. Si Noah kasi, ayaw bumitiw ng X-Box. Ikaw na muna ang bahala rito. Maghahabilin kay Elias ngunit hindi na papasok ng silid. Elias! Gagamitin ko muna ang kotse, mag-single ka na lang mamaya. Basta pag nasa Koronadal ka lang, kahit ilang libot niyan sa roundball okay ‘yan! Elias? Elias, narinig mo ba ako? Kay Ella.  Ikaw na nga ang magsabi diyan. O, tuloy na ako.

ELLA: Sige po, Tito! Ingat kayo. Lapitan n’yo si Mr. Blue. Bulungan n’yo ng “Utot mo blue!”

ELI: Hindi, sasabihin kong patay na patay ka sa kanya. Papalabas ng entablado sa kaliwa.

ELLA: Oy, Tito, joke lang ‘yon. Tito!!!

*

Eksena 4

Maririnig ang busina ng kotse mula sa ibaba. Dudungaw muli si Ella sa bintana. Mae-excite.  

ELLA: Mula sa bintana. Ate Janine! Ate Janine! Akyat ho kayo. Hoy, lalaki, pakitulungan naman si Ate Janine sa mga bitbit. Ingatan n’yo, galing Cebu ang mga ‘yan. Salamat! Sasalubungin mula sa hagdanan si Janine. Ate kumusta kayo? Miss yah, miss yah! Ang ganda n’yo pa rin.

JANINE: Okey lang ako. Medyo nakakapagod lang. Davao kasi ang flight na available, booked na lahat ng Gensan. Siyempre, almost five hours pa din ‘yon papunta dito sa South Cotabato. Idagdag mo pa ang 50 km/hr ng Polomolok at… life is too slow in Tupi! Puchaks, kuwarenta! Takbo ng porlon! O si Elton? Nasaan ang pogi kong classmate at groom to be? Si Tito Eli? May mapapansin. Ella, you’re blooming! You must have someone na, iha.

Kailan ka huling na-in love? Hay, makaupo nga.

ELLA: A, e, Ate, gano’n ho ba? Na in love? A, e, kani-kanina lang din po… at kabe-break lang din.

JANINE: Really? Why? What happened?

ELLA: It’s a long story to tell, basta change topic na lang.

JANINE: Pa-secret-secret ka pa diyan!  Bakit, nobela?

ELLA: Epiko po. May fantasy pa. Sa mahinang boses na may dalang hiya.

JANINE: Saglit lang! Kahit ending lang!

ELLA: Bubulong.

JANINE: Ha! Really? Oh, oh my, Uncle Ben!

ELLA: Oy, Ate, never tell anybody ha? Lagot ako kay Tito Eli niyan.

JANINE: Matatawa. Swear! Oh my gosh! By the way, nasaan na ang mga pinsan mo? Si Tito Eli? Si

Elias? Asan na si Elton?

ELLA: Ay oo nga po pala. Si Tito Eli, sinundo lang sina Ate Mia sa mall. Ayaw kasi paawat si Noah, kanina pa laro nang laro ng X-Box. Si Elias naman, nasa kabilang kuwarto lang, nagpapahinga. Sina Kuya Elton at Sophie naman ay nasa location ng pictorial nila sa Barangay Paraiso yata. Kanina lang kasi dumating ang photographers from Davao. Humabol ng pre-nuptial pictorial. Tamang-tama, mga ala-sais ng gabi mamaya, makakapag-start tayo ng orientation bago tayo mag-dinner.

JANINE: A, gano’n ba. Kaya pala busy ang caterer sa ibaba. O, siya sige, ilapag mo na lang muna ang mga pasalubong ko diyan at ‘yong gift ko, dito na ‘yan. Huwag nang dalhin ‘yan sa reception bukas. Magdadala ako ng iba. At Ella, makinig ka. Gift ko dapat ang bubuksan bukas. Ako ang dadala ng maliit na gift. Kung may mas maliit pa, huwag mong kunin. Gift ko dapat ang bubuksan. Nagkakaintindihan ba tayo?

ELLA: Your wish is my command, Ate Janine. Ikaw pa. Noon pa man e ang lakas mo na sa akin.

JANINE: At teka nga Ella, ‘yong Sophie ba na ‘yan ay nakita na rin nina Mia at ng barkada? Never ko siya na meet in person. Sa Facebook kasi never ko siyang in-accept. Duh! Ano naman

kaya ang nakain nitong Elton ba’t napunta ‘yang Sophie na ‘yan sa kanya. Gurang  na, ang landi pa. Alam mo, tama ang kutob ko sa babaeng ‘yan. Siya ‘yong lady “S” na may sex scandal sa YouTube. Ito namang Elton, akala ko noong araw, fling-fling lang ‘yan. Aba’y nagulat na lang ako last month, inobliga na akong mag-maid of honor. Buti na lang, na-set ko na agad ang pagbabakasyon. So, si Ate na muna ang magma-manage ng clinic sa Cebu.

ELLA: You know naman, Ate Janine, napaka-sweet ng Sophie na ‘yan. And what about the YouTube scandal? Talaga ho? Oy, matingnan nga natin. Hiramin natin ang laptop ni Elias.  Excited na tutungong kuwarto ni Elias. Elias? Elias?

JANINE: Naku, naku, Ella! Not tonight. Maaga ka bukas sa hotel. Doon na natin panoorin. Matatawa.   Exciting!

ELLA: Talaga ho, Ate? May itinatago pala ‘tong Sophie na ‘to. Matingnan nga. Pero wala na akong magagawa niyan, Ate Janine, ha. Bilang wedding coordinator at pinsan ni Kuya Elton, bayad ho ako nito. Sobra-sobra na nga ang dina-download from America ng Tita Ellen para sa wedding na ito.

JANINE: Who cares, Ella? Ano nga ang surname ng Sophie na ‘yan?

ELLA: Kapalaran po.

JANINE: Makapal! Matatawa. O paano, tutuloy na muna ako ng hotel. Tawagan mo na lang ako mamaya pag handa na ang lahat. Please tell, Tito Eli na magpe-freshen up lang ako.

ELLA: Sure, Ate. Sige ihatid na kita sa baba. Tutunguhin nila ang hagdanan pababa.

*

Eksena 5

Lalabas mula sa kuwarto si Elias, ngayo’y bagong ligo at kausap sa cellphone si Mae. Tinititigan din ni Elias ang mga pasalubong at regalo sa hapagkainan.

ELIAS: Daanan kita diyan, Babes… Ya, don’t worry… In an hour, ginamit pa ng tito ko ang kotse… Oo, sige na, isasabay kita sa modista mamaya then tutuloy na tayo dito sa bahay… Miss you too… Love you, love you. Papatayin ang cellphone at ikakabit ang earphones sa I-pod. Magbabasa ng adult men’s magazine.

Ilang saglit lang ay may bubusina mula sa ibaba at may mga aakyat. Si Mia at ang anak nitong si Noah. Bitbit ni Mia ang paper bags ng sapatos na gagamitin kinabukasan at mga pinamili para sa anak. Mauunang papasok mula sa kaliwang bahagi ng tanghalan si Noah.

NOAH: Excited na papasok at sasalubungin si Elias nang may pagkasabik. Yayakapin nito si Elias. Tito Elias! Merry Christmas po! Tito, miss ko na po kayo. Kailan po kayo dumating?

ELIAS: Merry Christmas! Oy, Noah kumusta na ang baby naming? Ang laki mo na, a. Saan sina Mommy at Daddy?

NOAH: Okey lang po ako, Tito. Nasa baba po si Mommy. May overtime pa po si Daddy sa work.  Tito, pasalubong ko po, ha. Tito, ring bearer po ako bukas ni Tito Elton.

ELIAS: Gano’n ba? Oo naman, dinalhan kita ng favorite toys mo. Galing Maynila lahat ‘yun. Christmas gift ko na ‘yun, ha! Mamaya, bubuksan natin.

NOAH: Yehey! Yehey! Thank you po, Tito!

ELIAS: Basta good boy palagi, ha.

Papasok mula sa hagdanan si Mia sa gawing kaliwa.

MIA: Oy, Elias! Kumusta ka na? Ang pogi mo na, a. Kailan ka dumating?

ELIAS: Hi, Ate Mia! Tatayo mula sa kinaroroonan at makaligtaang naiwang nakabukas ang adult men’s magazine sa itaas ng coffee table na mapapansin naman ni Noah. Hahalik kay Mia. Okey lang po ako, Ate. No’ng Wednesday lang po ako dumating. Tamang-tama nga at Christmas break na rin sa Saint Benilde.

MIA: Oo nga ano. Merry Christmas! Buti na lang at nataon din sa bakasyon ang wedding ni Elton.   Kakapagod nga, bago lang din ang break namin sa public schools. Si Noah, naku, ayaw paawat ng X-Box kanina sa mall. Hayun, nagpasundo na kami kay Tito Eli.

ELIAS: Nasaan na po si Tito Eli? gamit n’yo po ba ang kotse?

Papasok si Noah sa eksena, bitbit ang nakabukas na pahina ng adult men’s magazine.

NOAH: Tito Elias, meron din po nito si Daddy sa office. Katulad din po nito. Sabi ng Mommy, bad daw po ito. Mommy, bad din po si Tito?

ELIAS: Magugulat at tangkang aagawin sa bata ang magazine ngunit naisara na ni Mia. A, e, Noah! Kakamot sa batok at akmang napahiya. Ngingiti na lamang.

MIA: Hoy diyos ko, Anak. A, e, hindi bad si Tito. Hindi lang puwede ito sa mga bata, Anak. Para lang ito sa mga… sa mga, sa mga matanda.

NOAH: Pati po kay Lolo?

MIA: Naku! Naku, paano ba ito? Anak, oo at hindi. Basta sa susunod, malalaman mo rin, ha.   Mamaya na sa bahay magpapaliwanag si Mommy, ha. Ibalik na natin to kay Tito, Anak.   Magmumuwestra kay Elias na itago ang magazine.

NOAH: Opo, Mommy. Babalik sa sofa at maglalaro ng games sa cellphone.  

ELIAS: A, Ate, pasensiya po. Maupo na ho kayo. Antayin na lang natin sina Kuya Elton at Ate Sophie. Tutunguhin ang kabinet at ipapatong ang magazine sa mataas na bahagi. Babalikan si Noah at kukulitin.

MIA: ‘Yon nga at nasa pictorial pa ang dalawa. Nagkasalubong din kami ni Janine sa baba at babalik lang daw siya later. Hayun, hinatid na ni Tito Eli sa hotel. Sina Kelvin at Caesar, hahabol din mamaya. Naku, ang ibang barkada, bukas na siguro ‘yon kasi naman napaka-busy nga naman ng panahon, Friday pa kasi e. Oy, Elias, maiba ako. Totoo ba’ng tsismis na ‘yan kay Sophie? Honestly, hindi ko pa ‘yan nakita in person, ha, pero kung ano-ano nang balita ang nakakarating sa amin. Totoo ba ‘yong Lady “S” sa YouTube? Naku, dapat nagdahan-dahan muna ‘tong Elton na ‘to. At saka ang tanda-tanda na ng Sophie na ‘yan, ha.   Mukha na siyang nanay ni Elton. Hay, no’ng high school pa man kami, lapitin talaga ng kahit sinong babae ‘yang kuya mo na ‘yan.Feeling ko nga nadali ‘yan ng gayuma. Ano sa palagay mo, Elias?

ELIAS: Gayuma ho? Matatawa. Okey naman po si Ate Sophie. Bukod sa sexy, ang ganda no’n, Ate.

MIA: Hmp! Salcedo ka nga talaga, Elias! Matatawa rin. Maglilibot sa bandang likod ng hapagkainan at mapapansin ang mga dating larawang nakakuwadro sa estante. Hahawakan ang mga ito at wari’y may maaalala. Nakaka-miss ang high school life. Imagine anim na taon na si Noah, saka pa lang ikakasal si Elton, parang ang bilis-bilis ng mga pangyayari. Kailan lang ako nabuntis, ngayon, ring bearer na ang anak ko. Kaya ikaw, Elias, ‘wag kang tumulad sa amin na napaaga ang responsibilidad bilang magulang. Gayahin mo si Kuya Elton mo na nasa tamang edad na,   may plano, at handa pa. Pero huwag na huwag mong gayahin ang pagkatanga ng kuya mo sa pagpili sa mapapangasawa, ha? Bukod sa eskandalosa na, matanda pa. Magtataray.

ELIAS: Matatawa nang bahagya. Okay po kami ni Mae, Ate. Kay Noah. Halika, Noah, pasyal tayo diyan sa labasan. Magmomotorsiklo tayo.

NOAH: Yehey! Sige po, Tito. Sa roundball tayo. Hihilain pababa si Elias.

ELIAS: Ate, sandali lang kami sa ibaba.

MIA: Sige, mag-ingat kayo. Dito na ako mag-aantay. Pagod pa ako. Noah, ‘wag masyadong malikot, ha? Mauupo sa sofa at magmumuni-muni.

NOAH: Opo, Mommy.

ELIAS: Halika na. Bababa.

*

Eksena 6

May mapapansin si Mia sa CD rack. Magpapatugtog ito ng kantang “I Say a Little Pray for You,” await, at may maaalala.   Ilang saglit pa, darating sina Kelvin, Janine, Eli, at Ella. Tamang-tama at aabot sa koro nito ang kanta na siya namang sasabayan ng awit ng mga papasok sa hapagkainan. Kasama si Mia, mapapasayaw din sila. Maaring lapatan ng kaunting choreography ang kanta, kunwa’y dating nakasanayan na sayaw ng magkakabarkada noong high school. Maghihiyawan ang magbabarkada.

MIA/JANINE: Janine!/Mia!

KELVIN: Hey guys, kumusta? Yayakap at magbebeso kay Mia. Parang walang anak ‘tong si Mia, a. Si Pareng Nilo darating ba?

MIA: Male-late ‘yon. O, kumusta na ang engineer naming bro? Buti napaaga ang dating n’yo. Talagang totohanan na ang pagiging best man mo bukas?

KELVIN: ‘Yun nga e. E ako ang best friend, ano ang magagawa ko? Buti na lang at pareho kaming may panahon ni Janine. Kay Janine. Ano, Dok?

JANINE: I can’t afford to miss my cute classmate and friend’s wedding ‘no. E kung hindi lang si Elton, magki-clinic na lang ako sa Cebu. At siyempre, puwede ba kitang hayaan na lang na mag-isang maglakad sa aisle? Siyempre, hindi. Yayakapin si Kelvin. I missed you, Kelvin. O, kailan naman ang plano n’yo ni Joan?

KELVIN: Joan is just around. Masyadong busy pa kami at hindi pa namin napag-uusapan ang kasalan.  Hopefully in a year or two.

JANINE: Well good for you. Ang saya lang, ‘no. Kahit once a year lang tayo nagkikita pero buo pa rin ang barkada. Isn’t it funny na gaano man ka-busy ang mga buhay-buhay natin ay napapanahunan natin ang magsiuwian?

ELI: O, paano naman kasi, pag nagyayaan kayo, e hindi n’yo naman iniisip minsan ang panahon at hindi n’yo rin matiis.

ELLA: Pagkatapos, pinipilit n’yo akong pauuwiin from duty para pagsilbihan kayong lahat. At ang Kuya Elton naman e pagtatrabahuin ako ng sangkatutak na paperworks pagkatapos ng reunion n’yo. Matatawa.

MIA: At nagmimistulang bistro ang bahay na ito. Imagine, mula high school hangggang nagkaroon na tayo ng propesyon, not to mention my little Noah, saksi na yata ang hapagkainan na ito sa bawat kabanata ng ating pagsasamahan. Walang nabago sa anyo. Ang mga capiz na bintana, mga larawan sa kuwadro, ‘tong mesa, ang sofa, bahay Salcedo pa rin. Ilang toneladang luha na kaya ang tumulo rito?

JANINE: Not to mention the sipon. Ang lakas mo pa naman pag sipunan na ang labanan, Mia.  Matatawa.

MIA: Oy, not much ha. Mag iisip muli at may maaalala. Libo-libong bangayan, tampuhan, halakhakan… Hay, nakaka-miss.

KELVIN: Kahit ngayon dramatista ka talaga, Mia. Siyempre naman. E, bakit kasi dito na ang nakasanayan nating tambayan? May iiba pa ba sa hapagkainang ito?

ELLA: Actually meron, Kuya! Ang hapagkainan sa ibaba, dahil doon may handa, dito wala. Ay teka lang, check ko na muna ang iba n’yong barkada. Tatawag lang ako sa landline sa ibaba. Sira kasi ‘tong extension phone. Ituturo ang phone sa side table. Si Brigida, parating na ‘yon. Siya ang assistant coordinator ko. Pag pumanhik ‘yon dito mamaya, paki-coordinate n’yo na lang ang prepared CD ng visual presentation n’yo mamaya, ha. Ayoko ko ng flash drive. CD lang! Sa kanya lahat ng AVP. Bababa na muna ako. Bababa.

ELI: O, paano Kelvin, Mia, Janine, sige. Medyo nahilo ako. Iidlip lang muna ako saglit sa kuwarto.  Kayo na muna ang bahala. Kabisado n’yo naman ang bahay. Sa inyo kaya ‘to. Sige, iwan ko na muna kayo.

KELVIN: Sige ho, Tito Eli. Kailangan n’yo pong magpahinga. Kami na ang bahala dito. Hindi na ho kayo nasanay.

ELI: O, sige. Salamat. Papasok na sa kuwarto.

*

Eksena 7

JANINE: Hay, timing!  Eto, Kelvin, makinig ka. Naalala mo ‘yong tinext ko sa ‘yo last time about Sophie?

MIA: Hoy, maghunos-dili kayo.

KELVIN: Oh, what about it, Jan? Which one, ‘yung YouTube thing?

JANINE: Exactly! Mia, dumito ka nga. Anyayahin si Mia at kunwa’y may iko-convene. Now, I have two set of CDs here. Remember what I have told you last week? Na gagawa ako ng AVP for the reception na ang laman ay ‘yong mga sex scandal ng Sophie na ‘yan?

KELVIN: Hindi kaya makakaeskandalo tayo niyan, Janine. Ano sa palagay mo, Mia?

MIA: No, no! Sabihin nating maling video lang ang nai-feed ng mag-o-operate ng AVP. At hindi naman maniniwala ang mga dadalo at si Elton na sa atin nanggaling ang mga ‘yon, di ba?

KELVIN: Itong Elton kasi ni hindi niya man lang napakilala nang husto ‘tong si Sophie sa akin. Ang laswa nga ng mga pinaggagawa no’n sa YouTube. At saka, ano ba ang itatawag natin sa kaniya? Ate? Mauupo sa sofa at magbabasa ng magazine.

JANINE: Hahalakhak. Tita! O di kaya, lola!

Papasok mula sa hagdanan si Brigida. Bitbit ang isang pouch, folders, at organizers.

BRIGIDA: Hi! Good afternoon po. Kayo po ‘yong mga kasali sa entourage na kaibigan ng groom?

MIA: You must be Brigida? ‘Yong assistant ni Ella bukas?

BRIGIDA: Gano’n nga po. Bridge for short. Ako po ‘yong mag-a-assist sa technicals bukas. So, kasali po kayo sa entourage bukas, Ma’am. Kay Mia.

MIA: Naku, ako hindi. Ang anak kong si Noah, oo. Maupo ka.

BRIGIDA: Salamat. Ay, oo nga po pala, kayo po ‘yong may magri-ring bearer na anak. Anyway, nandito po sa akin ang program para bukas sa reception. Nakalagay po dito ‘yong ten-minute audio visual presentation na cared of barkada. So need ko po ‘yon para ma set ko na po.

JANINE: Perfect!  Makinig ka iha, maglalaro tayo at may premyo ka. Huhugutin ang mga CD mula sa bag.   Makikita sa di kalayuan ang reaksiyon ni Kelvin. Hindi mapakali sa pinaplano ng barkada. Dalawang CD ang mga ito. Ang “A” ang original na AVP. Pero ang una mong isasalang ay itong “B” na ang laman ay scandal! Kunwari nagkamali ka lang ng salang at siyempre hindi mo alam kung kanino galing ito. Maliwanag?

BRIGIDA: So part ho ba talaga ito ng presentation? Hindi akalain na totohanang scandal ang laman ng CD.

MIA: Exactly! Ganyan ang choreography! Sundin mo lang ang instruction sa ‘yo at tiyak na matutuwa ‘tong sina Sophie at Elton. Intiendes?

BRIGIDA: Okey po. Sige, makakaasa po kayo. Mamaya, magse-set ng orientation si Ella sa flow ng ating program bukas. Pag makumpleto po ‘yong entourage mamaya saka niya na uumpisahan.   Hindi ko po alam if makakabalik pa ako mamaya. Kapag matapos ko na po ang order ng mga itutugtog, saka na siguro. What is important po ay nandito na ang mga ‘to sa akin.  Dadaanan ko muna ang mga pina-splice kong house music for the weddng sa shop. See you when I see you po. Bye! Akmang aalis.

JANINE: Pahingi pala ng number mo, iha.

BRIGIDA: Huhugutin mula sa organizer ang calling card. Ito po. Just text or call me if may additional info pa po kayo.

JANINE: Sosyal!  Salamat. Sige, ingat sila sa iyo.

BRIGIDA: Okey po. Bye!  Aalis subalit sadyang maiiwan sa sofa ang pouch na kinalalagyan ng cellphone nito.  Folders lamang ang mabibitbit nito.

JANINE/MIA: Bye! Matatawa at matatawa at matatawa.

*

Eksena 8

Aakyat sina Elias at Noah.   

NOAH: Tatakbo papasok. Mommy, may pasalubong po ako sa kuwarto ni Tito Elias.

MIA: O, dahan-dahan. O, bless to your Ninong and Ninang.

KELVIN: Oy, ang laki na ng Noah naming, a. Hahaplusin sa ulo si Noah at kakargahin. Magmamano si Noah.

JANINE: Bless, anak. Be a good boy always, ha?

NOAH: Opo, Ninang. Hahalikan si Janine.

JANINE: Kay Elias. Oy, Elias, kumusta na ang binata namin?

ELIAS: Hahalik kay Janine. Okey lang po ako, Ate. Heto, bakasyon na po.

JANINE: Mabuti. Ayusin ang pag-aaral, ha? Naku, ang pogi mo na.

ELIAS: Ngingiti na lamang. Kay Kelvin. Kuya, buti napaaga ang dating n’yo. Sabay kumusta.

KELVIN: Oo, maagang natapos ‘yung area ko sa Gensan. O, pagbutihin mo ang pagne-nursing mo, ha.

ELIAS: HRM po sa Saint Benilde. Salamat, Kuya.

KELVIN: A, De La Salle. Okey, may future chef na kami ha.

ELIAS: Kay Noah. Halika, Noah, bubuksan na natin ang mga laruan mo sa kuwarto.

NOAH: Bababa mula kay Kelvin at tutungo sila ni Elias sa kuwarto. Sige po. Yehey!

*

Eksena 9

Papasok si Ella. Mauupo na ang barkada palibot sa hapagkainan.

ELLA: Hay naku! Male-late talaga ang iba n’yong barkada. Anyways, umpisahan na lang natin.   Asan na nga ba si Tito Eli. Tatawagin si Eli. Tito Eli, Tito Eli… halina po kayo. Start na tayo.

MIA: Nagpapahinga pa ‘yon, Ella.

ELLA: Hay naku! Dapat nandito na siya. Anyways, uumpisahan ko na sa mga roles n’yo. Una kayo, Kuya Kelvin, ang best man. Kailangan kayo sa wine toasting tomorrow, about one minute lang ang script n’yo dito, tapos cheers agad. Then dapat most of the time aaligid kayo dapat kay Kuya Elton para a-assist kayo palagi.

KELVIN: Okey. Copy, Ella.

ELLA: Next kayo po, Ate Janine, ang maid of honor. Dapat wala po kayong masyadong bitbit bukas aside sa pouch ninyo at bouquet. Dahil most of the time, aaligid rin kayo kay Ate Sophie.   Kayo din po ni Kuya Kelvin ang in charge sa party poppers, na maggagaling lahat ‘yon sa akin bukas. Maliwanag ho, Ate Janine?

JANINE: Tse! Ang ganda mo, Ella.

ELLA: Natural ‘yang kagandahan ko, Ate.

JANINE: E, iga-guide mo pa rin naman ako bukas, Ella, ‘no? Just give me cues. Magtataray.

ELLA: Magmumuwestra ng kagandahan. Kayo naman po, Ate Mia, sisiguraduhin n’yo pong nakaligo na si Noah ng alas-dos ng hapon bukas. Nasa hotel na dapat kayo by 3 PM. May pictorial pa ng 4 PM lahat ng nasa entourage bago pumunta ng simbahan. Huwag n’yo pong painumin ng maraming tubig si Noah para hindi maghanap ng CR sa kalagitnaan ng ceremony. At please inform Kuya Nilo na magdala ng lighter sa bulsa para sa candle bukas. Nakuha n’yo po?

MIA: Proceed, Ella.

*

Eksena 10

Papasok si Eli at mauupo din sa hapagkainan. Biglang papasok si Elton dala-dala pa ang mga ekstrang damit na ginamit sa pictorial. Makikipagkumustahan at ilalapag ang mga damit sa sofa.   

ELTON: At kumusta naman ang aking barkada? Oy, miss ko na kayo, a. Hahalikan at yayakapin sina Janine at Mia pagkatapos ay yayapusin si Kelvin. Kanya-kanyang reaksiyon ang magmumula sa mga barkada. Pasensiya kayo at medyo natagalan kami sa pictorial. Paiba-iba kasi ng location at hinahabol ang sinag ng araw. Naks naman, excited na yata ang lahat, a? Ano, Ella?

ELLA: Everything is under control, Kuya.

Biglang papasok si Sophie ngunit batid na hindi alam ng barkada na siya ang tunay na Sophia Kapalaran. Hahalik ito sa bawat isa sa barkada.   

SOPHIE: Hi! Saka tatabi kay Elton sa isang banda.

ELTON: Guys, for the very first time, I would like you to meet my fiancée, Sophia Elizalde Kapalaran, 24, a businesswoman based in Subic. Her family owns a real estate in Pampanga and Sophie manages the marketing department. I met her in December last year during the World Building Expo in Manila. We both have the same profession. She’s also a civil engineer. Sophie, meet my closest friends. Kelvin is my best friend and an engineer also. This is Mia, a teacher. And this Janine, a medical practitioner based in Cebu.  Of course, Ella and Tito Eli.

Halatang mapapahiya ang barkada. Hindi naman alintana ni Sophie ang bawat reaksiyon ng barkada. Hindi mapakali ang tatlo sa nasaksihang taliwas sa kanilang inisip.

SOPHIE: Pasensiya na kayo kung medyo sinorpresa namin kayo ng ganito kasagad, to think na bukas na ang wedding at ngayon lang talaga ako ipinakilala ni Elton. Sinadya itong lahat ni Elton.   Itinago na niya ako nang husto from you. Pero simula pa man no’ng naging kami ay isa-isa niya nang ikinukuwento kayo sa akin. Kaya medyo alam ko na ‘yong pinagsamahan n’yo.  Hayaan niyo later tonight, pupunta dito ang family ko para maipakilala ko rin kayo sa kanila.   Kararating lang nila all the way from Pampanga. Ako nga ang na-surprise at ganito ka-close ang samahan n’yo. Hayaan n’yo, mamahalin ko nang lubos si Elton. And one more thing, if you happen to browse over the net ‘yong kapangalan ko po na may sex scandal sa YouTube, definitely, hindi po ako ‘yon. At sa edad at mukha po, ang layo. Matatawa kaunti.

Mananatili ang pagkagulat ng barkada.

ELTON: Definitely that’s not Sophie. Si Lady “S” ‘yon. Anyway, it’s my entire plan to really surprise you, guys!  Tiyak ‘yong ibang barkada natin tonight masosorpresa din. Kay Sophie. So, maupo ka na, Hon. Sige, Ella,  ipagpatuloy mo na ang orientation.

ELLA: Ayan. Pati ako at si Tito Eli ay ingat na ingat sa mga detalye ni Kuya Elton na dapat ni picture ay walang makikita dito sa bahay dahil nga surprise. Anyways, saan na nga ba ako? Titingnan ang kopya.

Papasok si Elias at hahalik kay Sophie. Mauupo din sa hapagkainan. Biglang aalis ng mesa sina Janine at Mia, tutungo sa isang banda at tatawagan si Brigida. Mahahalata ng mga manonood na nagmamadaling matawagan agad si Brigida upang bawiin ang naipadalang CD. At bawiin ang plano. Subalit halatang hindi ito nakokontak.  

JANINE: Nagda-dial. Sasambitin ang pangalan ni Brigida. Mag-uusap din sila ni Mia nang mahina lamang. Bridge, Bridge, sagutin mo ako. Dali, Bridge.

MIA: Ano na? Sinasagot ka ba?

JANINE: Ayaw. Putol nang putol.

MIA: Ako nga diyan. Akin na. Da-dial at mag-aantay. Bridge, Bridge, sumagot ka.

Tatawag, mapuputol, sisimulan uli, mapuputol. Babalik sila ng upuan at magda-dial uli sa isang tabi.

ELLA: Okey, dito na nga pala tayo sa reception. Mapapansin ni Ella ang dalawa. Oy, mga ateng!   Mamaya na po ‘yan, makinig muna kayo. Ano na namang tulay ‘yan?

JANINE: A, e, bridge over troubled waters, Ella! Matataranta.

ELLA: Ang alin?

MIA/JANINE: Kami! Ay wala, wala.

JANINE: Ano ka ba, Mia?  Maupo na nga tayo uli.

ELTON: Are you okay, Mia, Janine?

ELIAS: Juice po mga ate, gusto n’yo?

ELLA: Naku po, magkaka-trouble talaga pag hindi kayo makikinig. Okey, balik tayo sa reception, sa reception..

Biglang papasok si Brigida. At biglang magugulat sina Mia, Kelvin, at Janine. 

BRIGIDA: I’m back!  Naka-full smile.

MIA/JANINE/KELVIN: Bridge!

BRIGIDA: A, e, naiwan ko po ang cellphone ko sa pouch po. Nasa sofa yata. Nakakagulat naman kayo.

MIA/JANINE/KELVIN: Ha!

SOPHIE: Bridge!? Tatayo at hahagkan si Brigida.

ELLA: O, parang gulat na gulat kayo?

BRIGIDA: Sophie? As in Sophia Elizalde Kapalaran? Ikaw nga! Ay! Hahagkan muli. Naku, Ella, I didn’t expect na si Sophie pala ang magiging wife ni Kuya Elton. I thought ka batch n’yo rin. What a small world! Si Sophie, dating kaklase ko sa Ateneo de Manila no’ng first year! Kumusta ka na? Napadpad ka dito sa aming probinsiya!

SOPHIE: Oo, Bridge. Pati ba naman ikaw, isinekreto din sa ‘yo ni Ella? I missed you so much. I lost contact with you na kasi. Oo, si Elton. Kay Elton. Hon, si Bridge, ang dating kaklase ko sa Maynila. Nag-transfer kasi siya dito after a year. Naku, ako yata ang na-surprise sa mga pangyayari. It’s a blessing talaga na nagkita tayo muli. At sa wedding ko pa!

ELTON: What a perfect time! Every person na malapit sa atin nasa palibot lang natin. ‘Yan ang masayang naidudulot ng sorpresa.

ELLA: Wow, what a small world talaga! Oo, si Sophie nga Brigida. At tiyak bukas marami pang sorpresang darating. O Bridge, kumusta ang business n’yo kay Ate Janine?

JANINE: A kuwan, ano, Bridge…

MIA: ‘Yong ano sana…

KELVIN: E puwede bang… ayusin lang sana…

BRIGIDA: Ayos na po ‘yon lahat! Nothing to worry na sa transaction natin, mga ate at kuya.  Everything is set already. Napagawan ko na po ng master copy. Lahat ng part sa program bukas, naipasok ko na po sa flash drive na ‘to para tuloy-tuloy na. Naka-prepare na po ‘yon at final na ho ‘yon lahat. Nothing to worry na po. Ako pa. Basta matutuwa kayo, Sophie. Though hindi ko pa talaga napapanood kasi nagmamadali ‘yong technician kanina. Basta may aabangan tayong lahat! It’s here already. Huhugutin mula sa bra nito ang USB na nakakabit sa isang USB sling at ipapaikot patalikod nang dahan-dahan na akma namang aabutin sana ng barkada  subalit hindi ito nahablot. Naka-full smile ulit.

KELVIN: Naku patay! Sa mahinang tono.

ELI: Bago pa man lumamig ‘yung pagkain sa ibaba, mabuti na sigurong ipagpatuloy na lang natin mamaya ang pag-uusap. Pag kumpleto na rin ang entourage.

BRIGIDA: Maigi pong mag-group picture muna. Sige ako na ang kukuha. Poposisyon sa isang banda at huhugutin ang camera.

ELTON: Elias, tawagin mo na si Noah sa kuwarto.

ELIAS: Opo. Papasok sa kuwarto at sasabay na lalabas si Noah at ngayo’y sasali sa pictorial.

Matataranta pa rin sina Janine at Mia. Mula sa hapagkainan, sasabay sa group pictorial. Papagitna sina Sophie at Elton.   Sa kaliwa sina Mia, Kelvin, at Janine. Sa kanan naman sina Ella, Eli, Elias, at Noah. Mahahalatang ngiting aso ang barkada samantalang naka-full smile ang lahat. Sa bilang na tatlo mula kay Brigida, mag po-pose ang lahat sa kani-kanilang eksena. Mananatili ang eksena pagkatapos ng isang flash mula sa camera.

BRIGIDA: Okey, ready… 1, 2, 3, smile! Mahahalata ng mga manonood ang reaksiyon ng barkada. Ay isa pa. Ihahanda uli ang camera ngunit nasabit ang sling ng USB mula sa leeg nito. Chaka! Nasabit. Huhugutin ang USB at ilalapag sa mesa. Ready, okey, ready… 1, 2, say BRIDGEEEEE!

LAHAT: BRIDGEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

Eksaktong magpa-flash ang camera nang mag-uunahang kunin ng barkada ang USB sa mesa. Freeze.

Sasabay ang pagdilim ng tanghalan. 

Ire-reprise ang musika.

Tabing.

Ang Call Center Sister

by Hiyasmin Gabriela Espejo (Play)

Mga Pangunahing Tauhan
ROSALINDA DELA CRUZ –Isang babaeng nasa kanyang early 20’s.
JOCELYN DELA CRUZ –Kapatid ni Rosalinda. 19 years old.
MICHELLEABAD –Supervisor ni Rosalinda. Isang babaeng nasa late 40’s.
KATRINA –Kaibigan at kasamahan ni Rosalinda sa trabaho. Nasa early 30’s.
TERESA –Isang newbie sacall center.Nasa early 20’s.

Tagpo
Sa isang boarding house at sa call center.

Oras
Kasalukuyan.

*

SCENE 1

Sa kuwarto ni Rosalinda. 

(Nakapokus ang ilaw sa kama kung saan nakahiga si ROSALINDA.  Tutunog ang alarm ng cellphone niya.)

FLASH: 9:25 PM

ROSALINDA
Argh! Five more minutes, please!

(Pipindutin ni ROSALINDA ang cellphone. Tutunog muli ang alarm.)

FLASH: 9:30 PM

ROSALINDA
Trabaho na naman!

(Tatayo si ROSALINDA at lalabas ng entablado.)

SFX: Umaagos na tubig mula sa shower.

(Lalabas si ROSALINDA na pormal ang gayak – blusa, slacks, itim na sapatos at may dalang bag. Lalabas si ROSALINDA ng kuwarto at pupunta sa kusina.)

Sa kusina.

(Daratnan ni ROSALINDA si JOCELYN na nakaunipormeng pangkolehiyo at may binabasang libro.)

ROSALINDA
Jo! May natira pa bang pagkain from dinner?

JOCELYN
Naku, pasensiya. Ubos na ang ulam, Ate. Pero may kanin pa diyan. Magluto ka na lang ng ulam mo.

ROSALINDA
Wow! Try niyo rin minsan tirhan ako ng ulam, ha? Kahit naman iba ang takbo ng oras ko sa oras ninyo, nagugutom din naman ako, girl.

JOCELYN
I’m sorry, my call center sister.

(Titingin kay ROSALINDA at tatawa.)

Magluto ka na lang ng itlog at hotdog. Tutal, oras ng almusal mo naman, e.

ROSALINDA
Nevermind, sa office na lang ako kakain.

JOCELYN
It ups to you, my call center sister!

(Titingnan si ROSALINDA mula ulo hanggang paa.)

Teka, anong meron? Ba’t ganyan ang bihis mo? Businesswoman ang peg, te? Yung totoo, sa call center ka ba nagtatrabaho o sa World Trade Center?

(Tatawa.)

ROSALINDA
Tse! Teka, yung bill ng boarding house, dumating na ba?

JOCELYN
Hay, naku. Last month pa, te! Baka nga mapaalis na tayo dito, e! Kaya nga sinasadya kong gabi na umuwi, e. Kasi naman kinukulit na ako ni Madam.

ROSALINDA
(Bubuntonghininga)

Don’t worry. Sabihin mong magbabayad ako sa susunod na sahod.

JOCELYN
Did you sure about that, my call center sister?

ROSALINDA
Oo naman. Sige, alis na ko. Male-late na ako.

JOCELYN
Ay, teka, te. Pahingi ng baon.

ROSALINDA
Ano? Kabibigay ko lang nung Monday, ah!

JOCELYN
Sabado nung huli mo akong bigyan, te, ng limandaan. Sandaan kada araw, di ba?

ROSALINDA
Oo nga, pero nung Monday lang yun!

JOCELYN
Sabado yun, te! Huwebes ngayon.

ROSALINDA
Kaya nga nagtataka ako kung bakit ka nanghihingi na naman ngayon.

JOCELYN
Ate, Sabado yun. NSTP ko nun, e. Humingi nga ako ng ekstra para pambili ko ng NSTP shirt, pero sabi mo sa susunod na sahod mo na lang ibibigay.

(Tatawa)

Ayan ka na naman, e. Nalilito ka na naman sa araw at oras mo. Wala ba kayong tense of time sa trabaho ninyo?

ROSALINDA
Sense of time, boba.

(Titingin sa taas naparang may iniisip.)

Ay, oo nga, noh? Saturday nga yun.

(Kukunin at bubuksan ang kanyang wallet mula sa kanyang bag. Ilalabas ang buong limandaang piso.)

Wala akong change, e. Ano oras ba pasok mo bukas?

JOCELYN
Ala-una ng hapon.

ROSALINDA
Bigay ko na lang sa ’yo bukas. Alas-otso naman out ko, e. Uuwi rin ako agad.

JOCELYN
You sure that one, my call center sister! Or else I cannot goes to school!

ROSALINDA
Eto na nga lang pera ko, e! OMG! One week to go pa before sahod!

JOCELYN
Good luck! Kasi naman, pag araw ng sahod, Starbucks, taxi. Pero kahit wala kang pera, magaling ka pa ring tumayming, Ate. May 3-in-1 akong kape riyan, baunin mo na lang sa trabaho.

(Tatawa)

ROSALINDA
‘Wag na. Hindi naman ume-effect sa akin ‘yan, e. Bibili na lang ako ng Cobra sa kanto.

JOCELYN
Samahan mo pa ng yosi at nang maging super malusog ka na.

(Tatawa)

ROSALINDA
Tse! Alis naako.

JOCELYN
Goodbye and thank you, my call center sister!

(Lalabas ng entablado si JOCELYN. Si ROSALINDA naman ay maglalakad papuntang convenience store.)

Sa counter ng convenience store.

ROSALINDA
Miss, isang Marlboro. Tens. Red. Tapos isang Cobra rin.

(Iaabot ang limandaang piso mula sa wallet.)

TINDERA
Wala po ba kayong smaller amount, Ma’am?

ROSALINDA
Wala, e.

TINDERA
Sure po kayo, Ma’am?

ROSALINDA
Ano ba’ng sabi ko? Wala nga, di ba?

(Padabog na kukunin ng tindera ang sigarilyo.)

ROSALINDA
(Magagalit)

Nagdadabog ka ba, Miss?

TINDERA

Hindi po, Ma’am.

ROSALINDA
Siguraduhin mo, ha? Huwag na huwag mo akong babanggain, Miss, ha? Because I am a customer service representative. Alam ko ang rights ko as your customer. Remember, the customer is always right. It’s your job na maghanap ng change. O baka gusto mong kausapin ko manager mo?

TINDERA
(Yuyuko habang inaabot ang sukli.)

Eto na po change n’yo, Ma’am.

ROSALINDA
See, may change ka naman pala, e!

(Lalabas ng convenience store si ROSALINDA.)

TINDERA
Kala mo kung sino. I-English-English pa!

(Aktong babalikan ni ROSALINDA ang TINDERA ngunit matitigilan siya. Titingnan niya ang kanyang cellphone.)

FLASH: 10:11 PM

Kung di lang ako male-late. Humanda ka sa susunod! Kay aga-aga, bubuwisitin na ako? Aba!

(Magsisindi ng sigarilyo. Iinumin ang dalang bote ng Cobra Energy Drink. Bibilangin ang sinukli ng TINDERA.)

So, four-fifty. Paano ko pagkakasyahin ‘to ng isang linggo? Bibigyan ko pa si Jocelyn ng two hundred. OMG.

(Hihithitin ang sigarilyo.)

Ba’t ba kasi ako nagpadala dun sa hulugang Michael Kors na bag? Paano ‘to? What if hindi ko na lang muna babayaran? Payag kaya si Katrina? Sana. Teka, anong oras na ba?

(Titingin sa cellphone.)

FLASH: 10:21 PM

Male-late na ako.

(Iinom ulit ng Cobra. Itatapon ang sigarillyo at maglalakad nang mabilis palabas ng entablado. Lights off.)

*

SCENE 2

Sa lobby ng opisinang Perfect Global Solutions.

FLASH: 10:59 PM

(Tatakbo si ROSALINDA at isa-swipe ng tatlong beses ang kanyang ID sa barcode machine. Tutunong ang barcode machine.)

SFX: Tatlong short beeps.

ROSALINDA
Woooh! Muntikan na akong ma-late, a! Buti nakaabot pa!

(Tatakbo papuntang locker, kukunin ang tumbler at headset. Kukunin mula sa bag ang cellphone at itatago ito sa kanyang bulsa. Ipapasok ang bag sa locker. Tatakbo papuntang production floor.)

Sa production floor.

ROSALINDA
Good morning po, Miss Michelle!

MICHELLE
(Nakaharap sa computer.)

Good morning –

(Titingnan si ROSALINDA.)

You’re late again.

ROSALINDA
Hindi a, 10:59 po ang barcode ko.

(Ngingiti.)

MICHELLE
You’re still late. At 10:59, you should already be taking calls. How many times do I have to remind you to –

ROSALINDA
Be at the office, fifteen to thirty minutes before your shift so that you can prepare your station and your tools.

MICHELLE
See, you’ve even memorized it but what are you doing about it, Rosalinda?

ROSALINDA
Rosalinda agad? Full name agad? Hindi ba pwedeng Rosa muna?

MICHELLE
EOP. English Only Policy, Rosa. We have clients who are visiting today, remember?

ROSALINDA
I forgot. Sorry, Miss.

MICHELLE
Go ahead and prepare your station. Log in right away, okay?

ROSALINDA
Yes, Miss.

(Tatakbo papunta sa mga cubicle. Uupo sa cubicle na nasa kanan ni KATRINA at susubuking i-on ang computer.)

Ayaw mag-on! Sira ba itong station na ‘to? Ba’t kasi nang-aagaw ng station, e!

KATRINA
Kung di ka lang sana late, Rosa. Alam ko namang gustong-gusto mong umupo sa tabi ng crush mo, e! Naagawan ka tuloy. Alam mo namang may newbies, e!

ROSALINDA
(Kakausapin ang katabi sa kanan.)

Hi! Newbie ka?

TERESA
Yes, Ma’am.

ROSALINDA
‘Wag mo nga akong mina-Ma’am. Pareho lang tayong agent.

(Kikindat.)

By the way, I’m Rosa. What’s your name, baby girl?

TERESA
Teresa po.

ROSALINDA
Wala bang “for short” ‘yan, baby girl?

TERESA
Tere, na lang po.

ROSALINDA
Tere, hmmm. Medyo mahirap tandaan ‘yang pangalan na ‘yan. Saka hindi tunog-American. Naisip mo na ba anong pangalan ang gagamitin mo?

TERESA
Terry po sana yung gagamitin ko.

ROSALINDA
Hindi mabait pakinggan, e. What if, “Therese”? Oh, di ba? Very nice. Virginal. Therese.

TERESA
Oo nga, no? Sige, I’ll use Therese.

ROSALINDA
Awesome! So magte-take na ba kayo ng calls?

TERESA
Mamaya pa raw, e. Call listening daw muna kami. Side-by-side.

ROSALINDA
So sa akin ka magko-call listen?

TERESA
Kung okay lang sana sa iyo.

ROSALINDA
Sure! No problem. Wait lang, ha. Prepare ko muna yung tools.

(Magbubukas ng mga ginagamit na software sa computer.)

Okay, shoot!

(Da-dial sa teleponong Avaya at pipindutin ang Log In button nito.)

Alright! Avail pa naman pala e. Wala pang calls. So, kumusta naman tech training ninyo?

TERESA
Nose bleed.

(Tatawa.)

ROSALINDA
Nose bleed talaga. Technical support, e! Sukang-suka na nga ako sa mga routers, modems, at kung anik-anik pang maisipan nilang ibenta at sirain.

TERESA
Mahirap ba ang technical support?

ROSALINDA
At first, yes. Lalo na kapag wala ka talagang background sa technical support, tulad ko. Pero, sa awa ng Diyos, nakapasa naman. At ngayong tenured na ako, kahit half-asleep ako, mareresolve ko pa rin ang problems nina John Smith, Rashid Patel, at Tom Nguyen.

TERESA
John Smith? Sino sila?

ROSALINDA
Sila ang mga customer natin. Mga karaniwang names ng customers natin. Pero alam mo, kahit antagal ko na dito, nangangapa pa rin ako when it comes to reaching the targets. Kasi naman, pa-change-change sila ng call flow, Quality Assurance or QA guidelines, at sales metrics. Nakakaloka minsan. Lalo na ang mga customers. Get ready for irate customers. Pero, normal namang umiyak sa first call mo or sa first experience mo with an irate customer. Noon nga, e –

SFX: Long beep.

(Matitigilan si Rosalinda at pipindutin ang mute button sa Avaya. Susuotin niya ang dalang headset.)

Wait, may call na ako.

(Pipindutin muli ang mute.)

Thank you for calling Connected Home technical support. My name is Rose. How may I help you today?

(Tatahimik si Rose at pipindutin ang mute.)

Wow! Jackpot! Indian! First call, Indian agad? Kung minamalas ka nga naman.

TERESA
Bakit?

ROSALINDA
You’ll find that out soon, baby girl. Balik muna ako sa call ko.

(Pipindutin muli ang mute.)

I see. So, you lost inner-net connection? I’m so sorry to hear that, Sir. But don’t worry, I’ll be more than happy to assist you with that. Before we proceed, though, I would need to gather some information so I can create a case for you in the system.

(Pipindutin muli ang mute at kakausapin si TERESA.)

Ay, putang ina! Hindi niya raw maintindihan English ko? Sure ka na ba, Sir, o hindi ka lang talaga nakakaintindi ng English, period?

(Pipindutin ang mute.)

I’m sorry about that, Sir.

(Magsasalita nang mabagal.)

I was just saying that I would need to create a case for you here in the system. May I have your first name?

(Pipindutin ang mute.)

Struggle, baby girl, ang kumuha ng pangalan ng Indian na customer. Listen and learn.

(Pipindutin ang mute.)

I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that. Do you mind spelling it out for me?

(Pipindutin ang loudspeaker button.)

CUSTOMER
(Voice-over. Indian accent.)

A for epol. N for no. I for I know. R for royal. U for you and me. D for dool. D for dool. Ech for hooray.

ROSALINDA
See? Torture! Nakuha mo ba name niya?

TERESA
Hindi. Ang hirap kaya!

ROSALINDA
My point, exactly. Wait ha.

(Pipindutin muli ang loudspeaker button.)

I’m sorry. Was that A for alpha, N for November, I for India –

(Pipindutin ang loudspeaker at tatawa. Pipindutin ulit ang mute.)

R for Romeo, U for uniform, B for bravo or D for delta?

(Naiirita.)

Yeah, but what do you mean by B? B as in ball, banana or D as in dog, daddy? Okay, so that’s D for daddy or delta. Then another D for delta. And, was that X for x-ray?

(Pipindutin ang mute.)

Tang-ina, Sir! 3 minutes na ang lumipas, first name niyo pa lang nakukuha ko? Ang AHT ko! Please! By the way, Tere, AHT is Average Handling Time or the time you spend talking to a customer. So, sa tantiya ko dito, 45 minutes ito. Target, by the way is 15 minutes. So, good luck to me!

(Pipindutin ang mute.)

I see. H for hotel. Okay. And your last name? Oh, Patel. So that’s Aniruddh Patel. Okay. So, by the way, you mentioned that you’re not on the place where the router is? Oh, I see. There are many things that we need to check in order to fix your router. First, we need to check if you have inner-net connection from your cable modem. And we can only do that if you’re on the place where the modem and router are. Ahuh, yes, Sir. Don’t worry. I’ll be giving you a reference number. Yup! Do you have a pen and a paper handy? Okay. It is DDA or delta delta alpha. I’m sorry?

(Pipindutin ang mute at kakausapin ulit si TERESA.)

Tere! Gagong customer, o. Sabi ko DDA as in delta delta alpha, punyeta. Sabi ba naman, can you spell delta?

(Pipindutin ang mute.)

TERESA
(Tatawa.)

Gosh!

ROSALINDA
Yeah, that’s right. 156785. So it’s DDA156785. Okay. Sure! You’re welcome, Mr. Patel. Thank you so much for calling Connected Home tech support. You have a wonderful day and do take care!

(Ibababa ang headset.)

Tangina. Wala naman pala sa bahay. Panira ng sales conversion. Nagyo-yosi ka ba, Tere?

TERESA
Hindi.

ROSALINDA
Tara, samahan mo ako!

(Sisigaw kay MICHELLE)

Miss, aux one! Bye!

(Pipindot ng Aux button sa Avaya at kukunin ang yosi at lighter.)

Sa smoking area.

ROSALINDA
(Kukuha ng isang stick ng sigarilyo at sisindihan ito.)

Alam mo, Tere. Nakakainis talaga ‘yang mga customer na ‘yan. Minsan, tatanga-tanga. Tulad nung isa, tatawag para ipaayos yung connection niya, e, wala naman siya sa bahay. Asar.

TERESA
Pero ganyan ka ba talaga, Rosa? I mean, irate agent?

ROSALINDA
Hindi naman always. Minsan, may puso rin naman ako. Like one time, nagka-customer ako na super tanda na, and differently-abled pa. Super naawa ako at ang ending, umiyak ako nang bongga.

(Tatawa.)

May naging customer din akong may cancer at halos di na makapagsalita. Naiyak na naman ako.

(Katahimikan.)

Depende naman ‘yan sa customer, e. Kung nice sila, nice din ako. Kung hindi naman, good luck.

TERESA
Pero, di ba, may sanction pag nahuli ka ng QA for rudeness?

ROSALINDA
Oo, termination pa nga aabutin mo niyan e. Kaso alam mo yun, yung andami mong kailangan habulin – AHT, QA, sales conversion – hindi mo na mapapagsabay-sabay! Naisip ko nga, mahirap din ‘tong trabahong ‘to. Andami mong kailangan habuling target. Mafi-feel mo lang ‘yan pag nasa floor ka na, taking actual calls. Sikat na sikat dito sa call center ang “Hindi araw-araw Pasko.” Minsan, dami mong sales, panay mababait yung customers mo. Pero may mga araw ring buwisit na nga silang lahat, nahihirapan ka na nga sa problema ng customer mong may tatlong iMac, limang iPad, dalawang iPhone at sandamakmak na printer, binibuwisit ka pa ng supervisor mo na bumenta ng mga router. Kaya minsan, wala kang choice kundi bolahin yung customer na “You need this, you need that.” para lang makahabol sa sales. Tapos yung tipong super serious ka na sa troubleshooting mo ng dalawang router ng customer plus sandamakmak na gadgets, e, kukulitin ka na naman ng supervisor kasi 30 minutes ka na sa call. Tapos pag nagtangka kang mag-explain, ang sasabihin sa iyo ay you need to balance everything. Avoid unnecessary troubleshooting. Hello! Hindi mo naman siguro kasalanang trip ng customer mong pakyawin yung buong iCenter at i-connect silang lahat sa Internet, di ba?

TERESA
Hindi ka pa ba nahuhuli ng QA?

ROSALINDA
Hindi pa naman. Nahuhuli ako ni Sup Michelle but kinakausap lang din naman ako nang mabuti. Naku, pag ako nahuli, patay! Dadaanin ko na lang siguro sa petiks. I don’t know.

TERESA
Pero di mo pa ba naisip na magbago bago ka mahuli?

ROSALINDA
Come what may ako. Kung matatanggal, e di go. But I don’t think they can let me go. First, tenured agent ako. Second, bongga din naman ang sales ko.

TERESA
May pinapag-aral ka ba? O asawa at mga anak?

ROSALINDA
Pinapag-aral, yes. Asawa? Anak? No. Wala akong oras para sa mga ganyan. And speaking of oras, malapit na akong ma-OB!

TERESA
OB?

ROSALINDA
Overbreak!

(Hihithit ng sigarilyo at itatapon ito.)

Tara na!

(Tatakbo pabalik ng production floor.)

MICHELLE
Rosa! OB!

ROSALINDA
Sorry, Miss.

MICHELLE
What’s wrong, Rosa?

(Pabulong.)

Kanina, muntik ka na ma-late. Ngayon, OB?

ROSALINDA
Sorry po, Sup. Di na po mauulit.

(Tatakbo pabalik sa cubicle.)

OB nga ng 2 minutes.

(Susuotin ang headset.)

Thank you for calling Connected Home technical support. My name is Rose. How may I help you today?

(Binaba ang headset at pinindot ulit ang Avaya.)

Wow, wala na atang mas a-irate pa dito. Hala, sige. Dumakdak ka nang dumakdak diyan. Kuha muna ako ng tubig.

(Tatayo, kukuha ng tubig. Pagbalik niya ay isusuot niya ulit ang headset.)

Yes, I’m here. I apologize for the inconvenience, Sir.

(Pasigaw.)

No! I understand where you’re coming from. I understand the frustration. I will be more than happy to assist you with fixing your router.

(Pinindot ang Avaya.)

Mas bobo ka! Akala mo kung sino! Bobo ka nga di ba, kaya nga tumatawag ka ng tech support?

(Pinindot ulit ang Avaya.)

Okay, Sir. I really would want to help you with this issue. Before we proceed, let me gather some information so I can create a case for you. May I have your full name, starting with your first name, please?

(Pinindot ang Avaya at naiirita na.)

Isa na lang, Sir. Last na lang talaga. Promise.

(Pinindot muli ang Avaya.)

I hope that makes you feel good about yourself.

(Pinindot ang mute at tatawa nang malakas.)

Boom! Sabi ko naman kasi last ka na. Grabe, Kat, stupid and incompetent daw ako? Release ko kaya ‘tong gagong ‘to?

KATRINA
(Pinindot ang mute.)

Alam mo namang bawal ‘yan. Mahigpit na ang QA ngayon. Remember, si Justin, ganyan din yung kaso.

(Pinindot ang mute.)

ROSALINDA
Alam mo rin naming super hate ko ‘yang mayayabang na Kano. Nakakainis!

KATRINA
(Pinindot ang mute.)

Whether we like it or not, the customer is always right.

ROSALINDA
No. This customer is wrong!

(Pinindot ang Avaya.)

TERESA
Ano’ng nangyari sa call?

ROSALINDA
Ssshh. Ni-release ko. Corny e. Buwisit. Di bale, di naman ako gumawa ng case, e, so hindi ako mate-trace.

(Tatawa)

Tayming pa. Avail ulit!

TERESA
Ano nang mangyayari sa customer?

MICHELLE
Rosa, press Aux Meeting.

ROSALINDA
Coaching, Sup?

MICHELLE
Just press Aux Meet.

ROSALINDA
(Pinindot ang Aux Meet sa Avaya.)

Done, Sup!

(Tumayo at naglakad papunta sa station ni MICHELLE.)

MICHELLE
The QA sent me an email. They have monitored your live calls today. By they, I meant not just the QA, but a client as well. Do you remember what you did with your last call?

ROSALINDA
Yes, Sup. Gago naman yung customer, e.

MICHELLE
Sa three years mo dito, Rosa, I’m sure alam mo na maraming ganyang customer. Hindi ka naman irate noon, a? Don’t tell me that I haven’t warned you. Sabi ko naman, di ba. ‘Wag maging kampante. Pero hindi ka pa rin pala nadala?

ROSALINDA
Sup, hindi ko naman ire-release yung call kung hindi irate yung gagong yun, e.

MICHELLE
So ni-release mo? Oh, no.

ROSALINDA
E, sinabihan na ako ng stupid, e.

MICHELLE
Alam mo namang may SOP tayo diyan. Paano natin to ie-explain?

ROSALINDA
Na na-disconnect? Pinetiks ko naman yun, Sup, e. Di naman release button yung pinress ko. So hindi nila matse-check yun sa released calls tracker.

MICHELLE
Aba, ang galing mo sa workaround, a? I’m sorry, Rosa. Just to set your expectations, baka hindi tayo makalusot dito. Live call, e. So, sa ngayon, mag-lunch ka muna at pinapapunta nila ako sa conference room to deliberate.

ROSALINDA
Sup! Natatakot ako!

MICHELLE
Ikaw naman may gawa niyan sa sarili mo e.

ROSALINDA
Hindi naman ako matatanggal, diba?

MICHELLE
It’s up to the upper management. I’m sorry.

(Lights off.)

*

SCENE 3

Sa smoking area.

ROSALINDA
(Magsisindi ng sigarilyo.)

Tatanggalin nila ako? E, ang dami ko kayang sales contribution. Buwiseeet. No, I don’t think tatanggalin nila ako. Importante naman siguro ako para sa kompanyang ito, no? Pero, OMG, paano na’ng bills? Ang boarding house, ang installment kong bag, ang kapatid kong nag-aaral?

(Tatawa)

No, Rosa. They wouldn’t do that to you. Don’t worry. Everything will be fine. They will consider the three years you have spent with the company. They will. They definitely will. Kaya, relax, Rosa.

(Hihithitin ang sigarilyo.)

Relax.

(Itatapon ang sigarilyo at babalik sa production floor.)

Sa production floor.

MICHELLE
Rosa. Come here.

(Uupo si Rosa sa station sa tabi ni Michelle.)

This is not easy for me. In fact, I don’t know how to say this –

ROSALINDA
Tanggal na ako, ganun ba, Sup?

MICHELLE
Alam mo naming mortal sin ang mang-release ng call, Rosa. And naungkat yung mga dati mong kasalanan, AWOL, pagdadala ng cellphone sa floor –

ROSALINDA
It’s okay.

MICHELLE
I’m so sorry. I tried to –

ROSALINDA
It’s fine, Sup. I understand.

MICHELLE
(Yuyuko.)

Okay. Please proceed to the HR for your clearance.

(Enter Teresa.)

TERESA
Rosa! Ano’ng nangyari?

ROSALINDA
Ayun, terminated. Kaya ikaw, umayos ka. Kung sa tingin mong hindi bagay sa iyo itong call center, ‘wag ka ng tumuloy. College graduate ka ba?

TERESA
Oo.

ROSALINDA
Good for you. Ako kasi hindi, kaya wala akong choice. Try mong maghanap ng mas magandang trabaho. Ganun din naman uwi ng lahat ng college graduates, e. Ginagawang stepping stone ang call center. And, it’s fine, Tere. Come and go naman talaga ang mga tao sa BPO, sa call center.

TERESA
Pero, paano ang kapatid na pinapag-aral mo?

ROSALINDA
Yun nga pinoproblema ko. Nangako ako sa parents kong aakuin ang pagpapaaral sa kapatid ko. But, that’s fine! Andaming call center dito no!

(Nakapokus ang ilaw kay ROSALINDA. Titingnan nito ang kanyang cellphone.)

SFX: standard text message ring tone.

FLASH: Message from Katrina

Rosa, i’ve head… sori… nga pala, ok lng b f kunin ko na yung payment para sa bag? sinisingil na kasi ako ni ate… magbabayad daw siya ng credit card… i knw na d 2 mgndang timing, pero sori tlga…

FLASH: Message from Jocelyn

TEEEEEEEHHH! wrU na pOh? kLngAn ko na pMuNta skHuL. aLowAnce ko? 🙂

FLASH: Message from Landlady

Good morning, Rosa. Please settle your balance sa bhaus. P6,500. Thank you.

(Lights off.)

*

SCENE 4

Sa boarding house.

ROSALINDA
Jo! Jocelyn!

(Magtatanggal ng sapatos si Rosalinda at dederetso ito sa kusina. Titingnan niya ang mesa at iaangat ang food cover. Makikita niyang wala itong laman.)

Right. Wala na namang pagkain.

(Lights off.)

Ikalimang Berdeng Lobo

by Leo Dominic Padua (Play)

(This piece was staged during the 5th Drama Festival organized by the theater group Apat sa Taglamig .)

Mga Tauhan
Jedrick: 27, lalaki, manager ng isang fitness equipment distributor, mahilig sa mga likhang sining.

Cheska: 24, babae, mangguguhit na may espesyalisasyon gamit ang graphite o lapis.

Tagpuan
Sa ikalawang palapag ng bahay ni Jedrick, sa loob ng isang silid na puno ng mga koleksiyon ng likhang sining. Doon, may isang kuwadrong natabunan ng berdeng tela. Puno din ang silid ng mga nakalutang na berdeng lobo na umaabot sa kisame. Doon papasok sina Jedrick at Cheska.

*

UNANG EKSENA

Jedrick     Maghuhubad na ba ako?

Cheska     Sandali, kumalma ka muna. I’m catching my breath. (Buntonghininga). Hindi mo naman sinabi na malayo pala mula sa highway ‘tong bahay ninyo. Hindi ko inakala na sa kasulok-sulokan na pala ito ng kabihasnan.

Jedrick     Hindi ka man lang nag-text na nasa highway ka na pala, sinundo sana kita. It’s almost 6 kilometers from there to here. Sorry sa struggle mo.

Cheska     Walang signal kaya. Tapos, wala pa talagang mga habal-habal na bumibiyahe. I just followed your instructions on how to get here. Pero ayos lang naman na walang signal. Para patay ang data at hindi ako matutunton ng boyfriend ko. Time to time kasi nagpapa-update siya kung nasaan ako. You know, first time kong gagawin ito. Kaya habang hindi pa malalim ang gabi, simulan na natin. Sige na maghubad ka na diyan at mag-aayos lang ako. (Nakatalikod kay Jedrick)

Jedrick     ‘Wag kang magugulat, ha.

Cheska     (Napaharap kay Jedrick) As in frontal nudity?

Jedrick     Yes! All the way!

Cheska     Kasi.

Jedrick     Kasi?

Cheska     Kasi awkward!

Jedrick     (Tumatawa) Hindi ko ba nasabi sa iyong nude drawing ang gagawin mo?

Cheska     Oo. Hindi mo nasabi. (Nangingisi) Kasi hindi din ako papayag kung gano’n ang mangyayari.

Jedrick     Oh my! Hindi mo talaga ako mapagbibigyan? Tutal andito naman na tayo. Would you reconsider?

Cheska     Hindi talaga, e.

Jedrick     Sige ganito na lang: tatabunan ko na lang ng tela si birdie para hindi ka naman ma-conscious. At the same time, para may texture at variation ang gagawin mong drawing. Okey lang ba?

Cheska     Salamat! Pasensiya ka na talaga Jedrick, ha. Actually, it’s my first time.

Jedrick     (Kinuha ang tela at tinakpan ang maselang bahagi ng kaniyang katawan). You mean wala ka pa talagang experience?

Cheska     I’m sorry, experience sa ano ang tinutukoy mo?

Jedrick     Experience sa pagguhit na nude ang subject!

Cheska     Akala ko naman kung anong experience. Oo, virgin pa ako.

Jedrick     What?

Cheska     Ang ibig kung sabihin ay wala pa akong karanasan sa ganyang bagay. Wholesome pa ang mga subject ko.

Jedrick     Pero may plano ka namang subukan?

Cheska     Ha? Ano ‘yong susubukan?

Jedrick     What I mean is why not you try some adventures on your work.

Cheska     Tulad ng nakahubad ang subject?

Jedrick     Yes! Give it a try.

Cheska     Darating din tayo diyan.

Jedrick     Bakit hindi na lang ngayon?

Cheska     Hindi pa ako handa. Kung gagawin ko iyon, dapat ay handa din ang isipan at kaluluwa ko para naman mailapat ko nang maayos ang swak na ekspresyon sa likhang sining na gagawin ko. Para kung titingnan ito ng iba, madadama nila ang bawat emosyon sa mga hugis ng iginuhit ko.

Jedrick     Bilang isa ding mahilig sa sining, nirerespeto ko ang iyong rason. Hindi pa naman ito ang huli nating pagtatagpo. (Katahamikan) Di ba?

Cheska     ‘Wag kang mag-aalala, I’ll give you my finest work tonight!

Jedrick     I’ll expect your best performance.

Cheska     Anong performance? Hindi ako magaling sa ganyang bagay.

Jedrick     Ayan ka na naman. Tama ba ‘tong pose ko?

Cheska     (Bumaba sa kinauupuan at inayos ang pose ni Jedrick. Bumalik din pagkatapos.) Sakto na ‘yang pose mo. Huwag lang masyadong magalaw, at tandaan, hindi bawal huminga.

Jedrick     Teka, I forgot something. Wait kunin ko lang.

Cheska     Ano ‘yon?

Jedrick     Siyempre ang green balloon (Kinuha ang berdeng lobo). Teka, ganito ba dapat ang pose?

Cheska     Oo ganyan nga.

Jedrick     Ang dami kong arte no?

Cheska     Sinabi mo pa.

Jedrick     Hindi ba kita nadidistorbo? Masyado akong mabunganga.

Cheska     Hindi, mas gusto ko nga. Kasi kapag tahimik, baka maging boring ang gawa ko.

Jedrick     May iba-ibang estilo pala talaga ang mga artist.

Cheska     Oo naman, kanya-kanyang diskarte.

Jedrick     Saan ka naman natuto mag-sketch?

Cheska     Wala akong pormal na edukasyon sa pag-sketch. Nakita ko ito na ginagawa ng dati naming kapitbahay. Sinubukan ko. Natuto lang dahil sa madalas ko na itong ginagawa.

Jedrick     (Nabitiwan ang lobo pero nahabol at nakuha agad) Oops, sorry!

Cheska     No problem, let’s get it on. ‘Yang lobo talaga, pilyo masyado.

Jedrick     ‘Yung lobo talaga ang pilyo? Hindi ‘yung may hawak nito?

Cheska     Ayan naman tayo. (Tatawa) Jed, puwede magtanong? Kung okay lang sa ‘yo?

Jedrick     Sure.

Cheska     Napansin ko lang kasi sa lahat ng portrait na nakikita ko dito sa silid na ito, puro mga larawan mo na may berdeng lobo. Bakit?

Jedrick     Sa masasayang pangyayari na nangyari sa buhay ko, meron talagang lobo. For me it means celebration, kasiyahan, nag-uumapaw na kasiyahan. Kung mapapansin mo, puro helium na uri ng lobo ang nasa mga larawan na ‘yan. Kasi ang mga lobong ‘yan lumilipad, dadalhin ka paitaas and I always am on the top of my game. Hindi talaga ako nagpapatalo. Helium balloons are uplifting. Especially the green ones.

Cheska     Napansin ko din ang apat na helium balloons na nakalutang sa silid na ito. Anong emote naman ‘yang mga ‘yan?

Jedrick     ‘Yang mga ‘yan ba? Well, they signify my milestones in life.

Cheska     Emotero ka talaga. Ano-ano naman ang mga ‘yon?

Jedrick     You seems so interested.

Cheska     Magkuwento ka na. Sige na.

Jedrick     Ang unang lobo, bigay ng mga magulang ko when I graduated valedictorian noong high school. It was my proudest moment. ‘Yong pangalawa, noong grumaduate ako ng Doctor in Business Administration at ‘yong pangatlo ay noong na-promote ako as Chief Operating Officer sa kompanyang pinagtatrabahuan ko. (Matagal na katahimikan)

Cheska     At ‘yong pang-apat?

Jedrick     Sa akin na lang ‘yon. Too personal.

Cheska     Ay, ang daya naman. Bitin.

Jedrick     Ayaw mo talagang nabibitin ka ano?

Cheska     Talagang ayaw ko.

Jedrick     Gusto mo may gawin tayo? Promise, hindi kita ibibitin.

Cheska     Ayan ka na naman. Alam ko ang laman ng isip mo. Tulad ng paborito mong kulay.

Jedrick     Well, malamlam kasi sa mga mata ang berde. Natural at malamig. Siguro kasi graduate ako ng NDMU-IBED noong elementary at high school. Tapos sa De La Salle University ako nagkolehiyo.

Cheska     Kaya siguro green minded ka. (Tatawa)

Jedrick     Kung aandar ang pagiging green ko, tiyak hindi mo ito gugustuhin. Baka kasi hindi mo na ako matanggihan.

Cheska     Kahit sino naman ay hindi ka matatanggihan. Tulad ngayon, ang sarap mong pagmasdan. Ang hubog ng ‘yong katawan ang siyang inaasam-asam ng bawat sabik na sabik na laman. Ang iyong kabuuang kariktan ang siyang magpapasuko ng mga nagpapalakpakang Bataan.

Jedrick     So paano ba ‘yan? Ihinto muna natin to nang mapasukan uli ng mananakop ang Bataan?

Cheska     Uy biro lang. ‘Eto naman. Masyado ka namang atat!

Jedrick    Huwag mo akong mabiro. Hindi ako nagpapaawat.

Cheska    Sira! Pero maiba ako, sinadya mo talagang magkaroon ng silid na tulad nito?

Jedrick     Oo, kuwarto para sa mga likhang sining.

Cheska     Pero puro lang litrato na nakakuwadro?

Jedrick     Kaya nga narito ka ngayon. Para maiba naman. Bagong medium, bagong art form, hindi ‘yung pero pictures lang. Sa susunod, magpapagawa din ako ng eskultura ko.

Cheska     At ikaw pa rin ang subject?

Jedrick     Of course, mahal ko ang sarili ko. Kung anuman ako ngayon at sa kung ano ang naabot ko ngayon dahil ‘yan sa pagsisikap ko. Kaya dapat ko ring bigyan ng reward ang sarili ko sa lahat ng paghihirap at pagsisikap ko. Kasi ako na lang mag-isa dito sa mundo. Simula nang mamatay ang Mom and Dad dahil sa aksidente. Ako na lang mag-isa. Sarili ko na lang talaga ang makakapitan ko. Kaya gustong-gusto ko ang mga nakalutang na lobo. Para sa akin sila ‘yong mga magulang ko. Tinatanaw ako mula sa itaas. Parang andiyan lang sila sa taas.

Cheska     I’m sorry to hear that. Hindi ko lubos maisip na ang isang successful na tao na tulad mo, may mabigat din pa lang pinagdaanan.

Jedrick     Mabigat, malungkot, masakit. It’s the pain you could never imagine.

Cheska     Ang init talaga. (Tinanggal ang blouse)

Jedrick     Oh wow! Bakit mo hinuhubad ‘yang blouse mo? Hindi mo ba matiis ang pagiging hot ko?

Cheska     Duh! Don’t worry, may sando ako sa loob. Oo, you’re hot, that’s a given. Ang hotness mo kaya pang pigilan. Pero ang init sa silid na ito hindi na. Kaya nagtatanggal ako ng damit ko.

Jedrick     Oh wait, parang hindi ata naka-on ang aircon. (Pumunta sa aircon malapit sa kinauupuan ni Cheska). What the F! Sira ang aircon! Kaya naman pala. Gusto mo electric fan na lang? Kunin ko muna sa kabilang kuwarto.

Cheska     No need na, nakabukas naman ang bintana, at manageable naman ang init, e.  Baka kasi maalog ang canvass at hindi ako makaguhit nang maayos. Sige na, balik ka na doon.

Jedrick     Ikaw ang bahala, sandali lang. (May inalis sa mukha ni Cheska)

Cheska     (Tinitigan ang mga mata ni Jedrick)

Jedrick     (Nilapat ang kaniyang ilong sa ilong ni Cheska).

(Matagal na katahimikan)

Cheska     (Parang bibigay na at bibigyan ng halik si Jedrick). Oops! Ano’ng ginagawa mo?

Jedrick     May dumi ka sa ilong, inalis ko ito gamit ang ilong ko. ‘Wag kang mag-alala, burado na ito. Sinubukan ko rin kung bibigay ka, kung susuko na talaga ang Bataan.

Cheska     Muntik na, muntikan na talaga. Buti na lang I can resist temptation. Ikaw ha, muntik mo na ako madali kasi sobrang bango ng katawan mo. Ang bango mo talaga.

Jedrick     Aba, siyempre, para kahit sa anong activity ay handa ako.

Cheska     (Tatawa) Pati na rin sa extracurricular activities.

Jedrick     Lahat ng klase ng activity.

Cheska     Siguro magaling ka sa foreplay. Sabi nga nila, “Fragrance spices up the performance,” at doon mo sila dinadali.

Jedrick     You’re getting naughty. Mukhang may ipinapahiwatig ka ata. Sabi ko sa ‘yo, ‘wag mo akong subukan. Hindi talaga kita aatrasan.

Cheska     (Tatawa) Ulol. Sa boyfriend ko nga hindi ko pa nagagawa. Sa ‘yo pa kaya?

Jedrick     Maniwala.

Cheska     Totoo.

Jedrick     Bolera ka din ano? Maniwala ako sa ‘yo, e kung makatitig ka sa akin, para mo na akong ikinama.

Cheska     Utang na loob. (Tatawa) Aaminin ko hot ka, irresistable ang appeal mo. Pero ‘wag mo naman sanang bigyan ng kahulugan ang titig ko. Bilang artist, gano’n lang siguro ako makatingin, and besides, may boyfriend ako. Magagalit ‘yon at mas magagalit ang girlfriend mo. Takot akong kalbuhin ng nobya mo.

Jedrick     Wala akong girlfriend.

Cheska     We, sa guwapo at kisig mong iyan? Wala?

Jedrick     Isang tao lang ang mahal ko, hindi pa kami ulit, wala pang kami ulit, pero sana papunta at babalik na doon. Medyo masalimuot, hindi pa klaro. ‘Wag na natin siyang pag-usapan. Siya ang dahilan kaya merong pang-apat na berdeng lobo. Noong panahon na naging kami ang isa sa pinakamasayang araw ng aking buhay. Siya lang talaga ‘yong taong minahal ko at siya lang ‘yong mamahalin ko habambuhay.

Cheska     Sino siya? Magkuwento ka na. Dali! Sikat din ba siya katulad mo?

Jedrick     Makulit ka. Kilalang-kilala mo siya. Hangaang doon na lang ang puwede kong sabihin. ‘Wag ka nang humirit pa.

Cheska     Ay, ang KJ ni’yo po. Paasa!

Jedrick     Sana naiintindihan mo.

Cheska     Opo, naiintindihan ko po nang lubusan. Steady ka muna, ‘wag kang magalaw. (Bumaba sa kinauupuan, lumapit kay Jedrick, at tiningnan ito malapitan sa mata)

Jedrick     Sabi ko na nga ba hindi mo matitiis ang hotness ko. So shall we?

Cheska     Ano ka ba! ‘Wag magalaw sabi e. Behave. (Bumalik sa upuan at gumuhit muli). Tiningnan ko lang mabuti ang mga mata mo, ‘wag kang ano. Para mailapat ko nang maayos ang ekspresyon ng iyong mukha.

Jedrick     Sinubukan lang naman kita. Baka sakali ay bibigay ka din.

Cheska     Asa ka pa. Hinding-hindi talaga.

Jedrick     Kasi magagalit ang boyfriend mo.

Cheska     Magagalit talaga.

Jedrick     Sino ba mas pogi sa aming dalawa?

Cheska     Siyempre, siya.

Jedrick     Sino ang mas hot?

Cheska     Siya pa din, wala nang iba. 

Jedrick     Magaling ba siya sa kama?

Cheska     Sira, wala pang gan’yan. Nasabi ko na kanina sa ’yo na wala pa talaga kaming experience.

Jedrick     So weak, bakit naman?

Cheska     Ayaw ko pa talaga. Sadyang ayaw ko pa.

Jedrick     Paano kung ako na ang magyaya sa iyo? Tamang-tama tayo lang dalawa ang nandito.

Cheska     Huwag mo nga akong tuksuhin. Utang na loob. Baka gusto mo ng forever sa kulungan? Kakasuhan talaga kita.

Jedrick     Hindi mo na magagawa iyan kasi mamamatay ka sa sarap.

Cheska     Hello, ‘yong iba na lang ang patayin mo sa sarap. ‘Wag ako. Ikaw talaga, Jedrick. Kapag hindi ka pa nagtigil diyan, hindi ko talaga tatapusin ang ginagawa ko. Behave.

Jedrick     Of course hindi ko gagawin, nirerespeto ko rin ang boyfriend mo tulad ng pagrespeto niya sa ’yo. I’m just kidding you. Mahal na mahal mo talaga boyfriend mo, no?

Cheska     Sobra, kung may salita pang mas higit sa mahal na mahal na mahal, ‘yun ang sasabihin ko nang malaman niyang mahalaga siya sa buhay ko.

Jedrick     Wow, wagas!

Cheska     Oo naman. Naniniwala na ako na siya ang forever ko. Siya rin kasi ‘yong lalaki na hindi puwedeng saktan. Mabait, maunawain, mapag-alaga, at sigurado akong hindi niya ako sasaktan.

Jedrick     Ganyang-ganyan din ‘yong ugali ng minamahal ko. Pero sigurado ka bang hindi ka niya sasaktan? Kasi ako, sobrang nasaktan.

Cheska     Hindi niya ako sasaktan. Ramdam ko! Mula noong magkakilala kami sa art exhibit, alam kong siya na ‘yong tao para sa akin. Ang tao na kokompleto ng buhay ko. Kitang-kita ko sa mga mata niya na gano’n din ang nararamdaman niya. May spark. Kaya hanggang ngayon, 3 years na kami, hindi pa rin natinag ang aming relasyon.

Jedrick     Mahal na mahal ni’yo talaga ang isa’t-isa. Pero huwag kang magpakasiguro na siya na ‘yong forever mo. May mga uri ng pag-ibig na kahit alam mo na siya ang nakalaan sa ’yo, babawiin rin siya ng tadhana. Parang lobo, nasa kamay mo na, nakawala pa at masaklap, pumutok pa. Ang pagmamahal, may kaakibat na sakit at hindi ito maiiwasan. Minsan ang sakit at nakakamatay.

Cheska     Lakas naman nito makahugot. Kitang-kita ko din sa mga mata mo ang kalungkutan.

Jedrick     Ano ba iyan? I’m getting emotional. This is not the proper forum to talk about matters like this. Dapat hindi malungkot ang emosyon ko diyan sa drawing.

Cheska     Mabuti na ring may napagsasabihan ka ng bigat na nararamdaman mo. Mag-isa ka lang kaya dito. Baka mabaliw ka niyan. Handa akong makinig.

Jedrick     It was the darkest day of my life. That accident happened. 6 years ago, Mom and Dad died. Losing them was so painful. I rather chose to die than to live. I felt like I am losing everything. Nawalan ako ng number one supporter. Nawalan ako ng mga kasangga sa buhay, ‘yong mga tao na tunay na nakakaintindi sa akin. Sa preference ko at sa hilig ko, Mom and Dad were there to defend me in all ways they could. Now they’re gone. Wala na akong magagawa but to accept the fact that they’re not here anymore. But I still choose to continue living this life. Wherever they are, I’m sure they’re in much bliss. I’m successful. I’m in pursuit of my passion. This life on earth is temporary. Magkikita din kami.

Cheska     Ikinalulungkot ko ang mga bagay na ‘yan. Kung saan man ang mga magulang mo ngayon, masaya silang nakikita na tinatamasa mo ang iyong tagumpay.

Jedrick     Pero may mas sasakit pa pala kaysa mamatayan ng magulang.

Cheska     Ano ang ibig mong sabihin?

Jedrick     Ang pilit na ilayo sa ’yo ang taong pinakamamahal mo.

Cheska     Siya na ba ‘yong tinutukoy mo?

Jedrick     Exactly! I expect that person to be there when my world collapses.

Cheska     Bakit? Hindi ka niya talaga mahal? Kaya ka niya iniwan?

Jedrick     Hitik na hitik sa pagmamahal ang binibigay niya sa akin. Ramdam ko ‘yon. Tagos hanggang kaluluwa. Pero masyado lang overprotective ang mga magulang niya. Pilit siyang inilayo sa akin. Wala akong magawa. Itinuring nila akong salot sa harap ng kanilang anak. I have no choice but to be left behind.

Cheska     Grabe! Napakasakim naman. Walang puso! Teka, sabi mo kilala ko ang taong iyon. Kung hindi mo sana mamasamain, sino siya?

(Tumunog ang Cellphone ni Cheska)

Cheska     Sorry, alarm para sa voice message. Wait lang muna, ha. Magbo-voice message lang ako para pag may signal na mamaya ay masend sa kaniya. Baka nag-aalala na siya.

Hello Kiel Bheb… Malapit na ‘tong matapos, Bheb… Oo, may ginuguhit pa kasi ako… Sa San Isidro ito. Ay, hindi, sa Sitio Guadalupe pala. Huwag mo na akong sunduin. Kaya ko nang umuwi. Huwag ka mag-alala, ayos ako. Bye na, Honey, I’ll go to you after this. Siyempre, matititis ba kitang hindi makita? Sige, bye na muna.

Jedrick     Kiel pala ang pangalan niya. Bakit hindi mo sinabi na andito ka? Bakit sinabi mong nasa San Isidro ka, e andito ka sa Bukay Pait.

Cheska     Hindi niya alam na andito ako, walang nakakaalam. Magagalit kasi ‘yon.

Jedrick     Hala ka! Hindi ‘yan pagmamahal kung niloloko mo siya.

Cheska     Sinamantala ko kasi ang pagkakataon na ito na maiguhit ka para naman may fulfillment ako bilang artist.

Jedrick     Salamat, kasi pinaunlakan mo ako.

Cheska     ‘Wag ka nang masyadong magalaw. Kailangan ko nang kaunting concentration.

(Mahabang katahimikan)

Cheska     Sakto! Tapos na!

Jedrick     Puwede ko na bang tingnan?

Cheska     Oo, naman. Halika!

Jedrick     (Lumapit kay Cheska). Excellent, maganda ang pagkakagawa mo hindi mo talaga ako binigo. Magaling ka talaga. I wasn’t wrong na ikaw ang kinuha kong artist.

Cheska     Oo nga, sa kadami-dami ng mangguguhit dito sa South Cotabato, ako pa talaga ang napili mo. Gayunpaman, salamat. Salamat sa pagkakataon.

Jedrick     Tanggapin mo muna itong berdeng lobo.

Cheska     Para saan naman ito?

Jedrick     Nakalaan talaga iyan para sa’yo. May papel diyan at marker sa mesa. Magsulat ka kahit ano. You tell your whole experience ngayong gabi or something about me. Kahit ano. Tapos irolyo mo ‘yong papel. Isulat mo ang pangalan mo sa rolyo at itali dito sa lobo. Tapos iwan mo na lang itong nakalutang sa ere. Para may remembrance ako sa iyo. At para may patunay na minsan nakasalamuha ko ang magaling na artist na tulad mo. Piling-pili lang din kasi nakakapasok sa silid na ito.

Cheska     Hindi naman nagtatagal ang mga ganitong klase ng lobo. Helium ito at sa kalaunan, mawawalan din ito ng hangin at makukuyos. Paano ito magiging remembrance ko?

Jedrick     (Inilapit ang mukha niya sa mukha ni Cheska) Alam mo bang linggo-linggo akong nagpapalit ng mga lobo? Don’t worry, you will be always remembered.

Cheska     (Tulala habang nakatitig kay Jedrick nang matagal, hanggang sa nakabalik sa ulirat) Sige!

Jedrick     Anong sige?

Cheska     ‘Yang lobo, akin na. Huwag kang ano diyan.

Jedrick     (Napatawa nang malakas) Iwan na muna kita sandali.

*

IKALAWANG EKSENA

Cheska     (Nagsusulat sa kapirasong papel, inirolyo ang papel, isinulat ang pangalan sa rolyo, itinali sa lobo, at pinalutang ito. Kausap ang sarili) Kakaiba talaga ‘tong Jedrick na ito. Maarte nga talaga siya. May mga ganito pang nalalaman. Teka, nasa akin ang Ikalimang berdeng lobo. Ibig sabihin, ito ang panlimang milestone sa buhay niya. Pero paano? Dahil ba na-achieve niyang mag nude sa isang art work? E, hindi naman siya naghubad nang todo. Nevermind, ang importante fulfilled ako. Naiguhit ko ang isang sikat na katulad niya. (Itinali sa lobo ang pangalan niya. Tinitingnan ang kuwadrong nabalot ng berdeng tela). Kanina ko pa pinagmamasdan ang kuwadrong ito. Ano kaya ang nakatago diyan? Larawan ng parents niya? Bakit niya naman tatakpan? Hala! Siguro portrait niya na nakahubad? Susmaryosep. Siya pa? Walang hiya siya sa mga ganyang bagay. Hindi kaya larawan ‘yan ng taong pinakamamahal niya? (Sumisigaw) Puwede!

(Pumasok si Jedrick)

Jedrick     Puwede ang ano? Puwede na bang sakupin ang Bataan?

Cheska     Hindi. Hinding-hindi. Ang ibig kong sabihin, puwede na bang umuwi? Medyo gabi na kasi.

Jedrick     Puwede naman pero puwede ding dito ka na magpalipas ng gabi, kasama ko. Pero bago ka umuwi, inumin  mo muna ang Four Seasons. Alam kong uhaw na uhaw ka na. Ginawa ‘yan para sa iyo. Specialty drink.

Cheska     Nag-abala ka pa talaga. Sige, hindi ko na ito tatanggihan. (Ininom ang isang baso ng Four Seasons) Masarap! Ngayon ko lang natikman ang ganito kasarap na inumin. Salamat.

Jedrick     Ito na pala ang professional fee mo.

Cheska     Salamat ulit dito.

Jedrick     You’re welcome. Ako dapat ang magpasalamat sa yo. Talaga bang aalis ka na?

Cheska     Oo. Kailangan ko na talagang umalis. Naghihintay na si Kiel sa akin. At isa pa malayo din itong Bukay Pait mula sa Koronadal.

Jedrick     Ang buong akala ko pa naman ay bibigyan mo ako ng remembrance. ‘Yong remembrance na hindi na natin makakalimutan. (Tinutukso si Cheska)

Cheska     (Parang bibigay) Jedrick, seryoso ka ba talaga?

Jedrick     (Inilalapit ang kanyang labi sa mga labi ni Cheska) Sige na! Let’s give it a try. Let’s do it passionately.  Tayo lang naman ang nandito. Promise, walang ibang makakaalam. We will leave our dirty secret here.

Cheska     (Umaatras) Jedrick! ‘Wag mo namang pagsamantalahan ang kahinaan ko.

Jedrick     (Sinusundan si Cheska) I’m just offering my flesh to you. Nasa iyo na kung bibigay ka. Don’t worry. Hindi ka magsisisi.

Cheska     (Umatras nang bahagya at napahinto malapit sa kuwadrong nababalot ng tela)

Jedrick     (Hinawakan ang mga braso ni Cheska, dinampi ang kanyang ilong sa ilong ni Cheska. Hinalikan niya ang dalaga sa noo).

Cheska     (Natulala. Tinanggal ang mga kamay ni Jedrick sa kaniyang mga braso, nabitiwan niya ang berdeng lobo, at natapik niya ang kuwadro) Jed! I’m sorry! Hindi ko talaga kaya. (Napatingin sa nahulog na kuwadro. Pinulot ang larawan) Kiel! Bakit ka may litrato ng boyfriend ko?

Jedrick     (Tumawa nang malakas) Buti naman at alam mo na. Si Kiel lang naman ang taong mahal ko. Ang pinakamamahal ko.

Cheska     Pinakamamahal? Paano kayo nagkakilala? Bakit hindi ka niya naikuwento sa akin?

Jedrick     Tanga! Paano niya ako maikukuwento sa iyo, e may amnesia si Kiel. Magkasama kami noon, ako, si Kiel, ang Mama at Papa. Papunta kaming Dahican, naaksidente ang kotse namin. Namatay ang Mama at Papa. Kami ni Kiel nakaligtas, pero nagka-amnesia siya. At ‘yong mga putang magulang niya ay inilayo siya sa akin nang tuluyan na akong mawala sa alaala ng anak nila. Masakit ang mawalan ng mga magulang at masakit din na hindi ka na matandaan ng mahal mo, ng karelasyon mo.

Cheska     Ano ang pinagsasabi mo? Nahihibang ka na ba? Kayo ni Kiel may relasyon dati?

Jedrick     Hindi ako nahihibang, totoo ang sinasabi ko. Two years na kaming magkarelasyon ni Kiel bago ang aksidente. Masaya kami dati. Ang bawat araw namin ay punong-puno ng pagmamahal. Naniniwala ako na babalik siya sa akin. Pupunuin pa namin ng pagmamahal ang mga araw na kinuha sa amin.

Cheska     Hinding-hindi na siya muli pang babalik sa ’yo. Akin lang si Kiel. Masaya na kami ngayon. Masaya siyang tinatamasa ang pagmamahal ko. Mabuti naman at nagka-amnesia siya nang nakaalis siya sa baluktot ni’yong relasyon.

Jedrick     Kayo ang dahilan kung bakit baluktot ang buhay ni Kiel. Ikaw at ‘yong mga walang-hiya niyang mga magulang. Kayo ang baluktot. Hindi mo dapat tinatamasa ang pagmamahal niya. Ako lang ang nagmamahal sa kaniya nang wagas.

Cheska     Kaya mo ba ako pinapunta dito dahil may gagawin kang masama sa akin? Sinadya mo ang lahat ng ito?

Jedrick     Alam mo matalino ka. Pero naisahan pa rin kita. Handa ka na bang mamatay sa palad ko? (Tumawa nang malakas)

Cheska     Napakasama mong tao. Puwes sa akin, hindi mo ‘yan magagawa. (Tumakbo pero natumba)

Jedrick     ‘Yan ay kung makakaalis ka pa nang buhay dito, dahil sa mga oras na ito ay nilalamon na nang lason ‘yang katawan mo. Masarap ba ang specialty kong Four Seasons?

Cheska     Kailanman man ay hindi ka magiging masaya. Hindi mo makukuha  ang wagas niyang pagmama (Hinahabol ang hininga, hanggang sa binawian ng buhay)

Jedrick     Ang sabi ko sa ‘yo ay makasarili ako. Ang sa akin ay akin lang. Kawawa ka naman Cheska, ang dali mong mauto. Talentado ka pa naman sa pagguhit pero ako pa ang gumuhit ng kapalaran mo. Paano ba ‘yan? Hanggang dito ka na lang. Hindi na ako nahirapang todasin ka. At ito ang ikaapat na rason bakit gustong-gusto ko ang mga nakalutang na lobo. Doon itatali ang ang naunsiyami mong buhay… (Malakas na tawa) Paano ba ‘yan, sa ‘yo napunta ang ikalimang berdeng lobo. Bingo! (Malakas na tawa)

(Kinuha ang kamay ni Cheska) Nakalimutan mo palang lagdaan itong drawing mo. Patay ka na pala. Sige thumb mark mo na lang (Kinuha ang lapis at ginuhitan niya ang kanang hinlalaki ni Cheska saka inilapat niya ito sa drawing. Pagkatapos, tumawa nang malakas. Kinuha ang larawan ni Kiel at niyakap ito)

Kiel, mahal ko, andito na ako. Sayong-sayo lamang. Handa ka na ba? (Malakas na tawa).

Killing the Issue

By Karlo Antonio Galay David

(This one-act play won the second prize in the 2014 Palanca Awards.)

 

CHARACTERS

Hon. Emmanuel “Manny ” Reyes Sr. (80s): congressman of the second district in the province of Bajada

Hon. Emmanuel “Manny ” Reyes Jr.  (60s): governor of the province of Bajada, Manny Senior’s son.

Ruth Cipriano–Reyes (60s): daughter of mayor of municipality of Bacudo, and sister of mayor of municipality of Santo Tomas, Manny Junior’s wife.

Hon. Raymond Paul Cipriano–Reyes (20s): chair of the League of Barangays, Bajada Chapter and ex-officio member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan

Arthur James Cipriano–Reyes (20s, about two years younger than Raymond): younger son of Manny Junior and Ruth­­­

Insp. John Paul Aladin (44): provincial chief of police

 

PROPS

Tables, overly expensive looking furniture, a TV, some food, maids and henchmen

 

GENERAL SETTING

In the Province of Bajada, somewhere in Christian Mindanao, Philippines, the present time and consciousness, noon up to afternoon

 

The action of the play is completed within twenty-four hours.

 

MISE-EN-SCÈNE: In the living room of the Reyes Mansion, Municipality of Santo Tomas, Province of Bajada. There are expensive-looking chairs and a coffee table at center with a flat-screen TV of the most expensive kind nearby. A door leading outside is to the left, while one leading to the rest of the house is to the right. There is a desk upstage and a radio to the right near the door. A white carpet dominates the floor. The room is furnished with luxury. Maids are constantly sweeping the floor or dusting the tops of shelves and tables.

ARTHUR REYES is sitting on one of the chairs in front, texting. He has a beautiful face, with shoulder length brown hair tied neatly in a pony tail. He has an elegant slenderness that goes well with the long sleeved polo shirt he is wearing. He moves with some degree of femininity. He speaks articulately with an indifferent nonchalance.

Enter RAYMOND REYES, with a number of maids bringing some papers and food. Raymond is taller than Arthur. The two bear some resemblance, but Arthur has smoother skin and Raymond a more tanned complexion. Raymond’s hair is in a short barber’s cut parted to the left. He is also more muscular that Arthur. The maids bring the food to the coffee table and the papers on the desk.

 

Raymond: (To a maid) Turn on the TV. (To Arthur) You’re going somewhere already, Arthur? Why, you just arrived from Davao.

Arthur: Kuya Raymond! I have a date. It’s not my fault I’m popular.

Raymond: But it will be your fault if something happens to you because of that popularity, so be careful.

Arthur: True. In every crime, the victim’s stupidity is the lead culprit. But by the way—

Raymond: Wait. (Points to the flat-screen TV)

TV: Journalist and public intellectual Celestino Fernandez is expected to arrive today in the Municipality of Santo Tomas in the Province of Bajada to begin his nationwide intellectual symposium tour entitled “Violence in the Mind: Human Rights Violations on the Level of Thought.” Fernandez’s decision to begin the tour in the province, stronghold of the Reyes Clan, was not without controversy. Not a year has passed since the acclaimed political theorist first criticized the family, which has been in power in the province for five generations, and includes current Governor Emmanuel Jr. Aside from fears for Fernandez’ss safety, low participation in the symposium, in the face of high public approval for the Reyes Clan is also feared.

And to bring us the showbiz news— (Raymond turns the TV off.)

Raymond: Our tiktik was right, it was aired nationally . . .

Arthur: So, Kuya Raymond, what will the family do?

Raymond: I can’t tell you. Have you unpacked? (As they converse he is signing papers)

Arthur: No, I haven’t yet. I’ll do it when I get back.

Raymond: Oh, nonsense. (To maid ) Beng, you can unpack Arthur’s things now.

Maid: Yes, kuya. (Turns to leave)

Arthur: No, wait. Beng, stop. I’ll do it na lang lagi, you can go.

Maid: Yes, kuya. (Exits to the right)

Reymond: What’s in your bags anyway that you don’t want the maids to unpack it for you?

Arthur: Nothing dangerous. I just don’t like the idea of having people do things for me. But come on, tell me. What are you going to talk about with Lolo today?

Raymond: Now how did you know I and papa are going to tell him something? I told you, you can’t know. It’s for officials only.

Arthur (scowling): Really now, you politicians just can’t be reached anymore.  Whatever happened to transparency.

Raymond: I owe you no transparency, you’re not a registered voter. I wouldn’t owe you any transparency if you were.

Arthur: Oh come on, Kuya, spill. For affection’s sake, if not for an FOI law.

Raymond: No.

Arthur: Even if I say please? (Walks slowly to position himself behind Raymond)

Raymond: I said no. If you want to be in the know, enter politics. And besides, you’re tabian. If you know something, everybody ends up knowing about it.

Arthur: Ah yes, having the knack for talking is one of my more flattering defects.

Raymond: How lovably vain you are. (Laughs. Rolls eyes. Scowls at paper he is holding) Domestic violence in Bacudo is up again. When will this end? (Realizes Arthur is peeking at his papers) Oh you’re as nosy as a journalist, will you stop it!

Arthur: (Laughs) I like being curious, it dispels the boredom.

Raymond: You wouldn’t be so bored if you weren’t wasting your time being idle, you know. And be careful with that curiosity of yours, curiosity kills the journalist. (Laughs at his own joke with a sinister air)

Arthur (distractedly): Yes, it can be quite dangerous . . . (Snaps back to attention) Well, about that domestic violence problem of yours.

Raymond (exasperated): It never ends, really. And there’s barely anything we could do to solve it, taking the men into custody could only do so much.

Arthur (after a moment of contemplation): What if you provide livelihood seminars to the poorer areas?

Raymond: What does that have to do with domestic violence?

Arthur: (Distractedly gets some papers from Raymond’s pile) I’m guessing the main cause of instances of fighting is livelihood related?

Raymond: Yes, apparently, husbands beat their wives when wives begin nagging about their husbands’ not working.

Arthur: And I’m guessing husbands always say as an excuse that working is difficult and pointless because you can never be rich with the menial sources of income available to you?

Raymond: Now how did you know that? Board Member Balasabas did say that.

Arthur: If you start livelihood seminars, that will help change their mind-sets about small-time businesses. And you can include seminars on sensible saving practices as well as counselling for unhappy marriages in that budget. (Seems happy with himself)

Raymond: (Sees the merit of the idea but is sceptical) Hmm . . . I’ll think about it.

Arthur: (Laughs, returns to his seat) What a typically politician response. By the way, Kuya, don’t you have classes? We have a saint’s feast day in the Ateneo de Davao, but aren’t you from a state university?

Raymond: Asus, I have much more important things to worry about. Well, education is still important of course, but my duties as an SK Chairman come first.

Arthur: Of the whole province, you never mentioned. When mama arranged it with the COMELEC to let you run for SK even though you were overaged, I thought that would be the end of it. But to reach the provincial level!

Raymond (with affected vanity): It helps, I guess, that I look youthful.

Arthur: And you say I’m vain. (Laughs) But in any case, you never mentioned this to me when I arrived.  Imagine how I felt when I was told that my kuya had become the chairman of the SK Federation for the whole province. (Theatrically) How poorly, I thought, do people regard their familial relations.

Raymond: Oh, don’t tell me nangluod ka. (Laughs) Well, I figured you’d know about it anyway.

Arthur: Still, when first meeting someone after a period of time, it is only proper courtesy to mention a fact that has not yet been established between the two of you, regardless of whether both of you are aware of it or not. You didn’t even mention it when I came home last night. (Feigns luod)

Raymond: Ah well, I’ll be leaving the courtesy to you, that would be your department. But point is, I have the SK and the board to think about now—though admittedly there’s nothing much to think about with the SK—so going to class wouldn’t be that important. And besides, what’s the use of having Tita Jane as our dean? If I’m right, she’s even ninang to our PolSci chairperson’s wedding. So heck. I’ll still have high grades.

Arthur: (Laughs resignedly) The youth is the future of the Fatherland!

Enter Gov. Manny Jr. and Ruth with another entourage of maids and with some henchmen. Manny Jr. is shorter than Arthur. His big stomach is bulging out from behind his barong tagalog. His wavy hair is in an army cut. In general he looks like a bulldog. Ruth is around the same height, and she looks like a ripe rambutan. Her curly hair, as brown as Arthur’s, is shoulder length. Her clothes and makeup look expensive and churchy. If Manny Junior is a bulldog, she looks like a chowchow.

Gov. Manny Jr. (obviously not hearing the preceding conversation): If you know that, why don’t you make something out of your own future, you buang! (Arthur makes obeisance. He kisses the boy on the forehead) You know that your kuya is now the provincial SK chairman?

Arthur: Opo, Pa. I’ve heard of it back in Davao.

Ruth: And what about you? You wouldn’t even try to be club president! Oh, you’re wasting your potential, dear! (The couple sits down.)

Gov. Manny Jr.: (To Ruth) Make me a cup of coffee.

Ruth: Raymond.

Raymond gestures to maids to make coffee. A maid obeys.

 Ruth: (To Arthur) What time did you leave Davao yesterday?

Arthur: Around six, Ma. I had something to do before that.

Gov. Manny Jr.: Flirting with someone again? Uwagon! (Laughs) I was not able to meet you last night, I had to attend an SK Federation meeting—pastilan, those kids were stupid. Their parents have done nothing to make them intelligent.

Arthur: They’re still the first generation, Pa. Give them a few more generations and they’ll learn the trade.

Gov. Manny Jr.: True. But you are not one to talk, you opted out of politics—you are wasting your privilege. (Theatrically) You, dong, happen to be the issue of five generations of politicians! (Gets one of the newspapers from the coffee table) Well, at least you are not causing trouble like those stupid aktibistas. (Glares at Arthur) Are you?

Arthur: Don’t worry, Pa. I have my convictions, but I’m not so in love with them as to throw stones at policemen for them.

Ruth: Now it’s a good thing you only look like an activist—oh, would you fix that hair of yours, dear!

Arthur: Oh no, Ma, activists don’t wear their hair long anymore, the hippies of the seventies realized conditioner is too bourgeois. One-inch to skinhead is the new hair range for activists these days, political detainee coiffure. In fact they don’t think much of me. I’m far too stylish to sympathize with the masses. Besides, I like this long hair, it’s allowed me to experience many things.

Ruth: What kind of things, if I may ask?

Arthur: The kind I wouldn’t tell my mother, of course. (Pecks her on the cheek as she giggles)

Gov. Manny Jr.: (Laughs) Well, it’s a relief too that you are not making noise like these pinisting journalists. (Opens the paper he is holding) Mga yawa. They don’t see anything good, all they see are the mistakes.

Arthur: Ah, that’s true, Pa. In the Philippines, all that those in position are saying is that they’ve been doing everything right, while the opposition and the media say that the administration is doing everything wrong. Nobody seems to want to listen.

Gov. Manny Jr.: (Laughs) Exactly!

Ruth: Oh, would you reconsider for me, ’Nak? You’re far more articulate than many of the baga’g-nawongs that have the gall to run. Try running for some office for me, will you?

Arthur: I dare not do so, Ma. I might win.

Gov. Manny Jr.: Ay you are hopeless. (Laughs. Sips coffee but finds it too sweet) Leche. This is too sweet. (Slams it on the table, much coffee spills. To maid) Clean that, and make me another cup. (The maid obeys tremblingly. He reads the papers again) Putang ina, this Celestino Fernandez! All he knows is to attack LGUs. If he is not accusing them of making useless projects, he would be calling them useless themselves for not doing anything. What will you do to impress this yawa!? And what he said on the radio last night—oh, your lolo will be so angry!

Arthur (with some anxiety): What he said last night, Pa?

Gov. Manny Jr.: Ay, you tell him, dear. My blood pressure will go up again.

Ruth: Well he was implying something during the press con about this symposium of his here. When he was asked if he was not afraid of the family, he answered—now how did that go? “I am afraid of neither the bolo of the Old Reyes’ past, nor the tank of the younger Reyes’ present. I am even brave enough to uncover them.” I was at Epifania’s this morning for a meeting of the Couples for Christ wives, it’s the talk of the town.

Arthur is visibly aghast, but his family does not notice it.

Gov. Manny Jr.: The putang ina knows  about the tank, but he knows something else, I tell you.

Arthur (after a pause. with composure): I have to excuse myself, Pa, Ma. I have to meet someone. I’ll try to come home early.

Gov. Manny Jr.: (Raises eyebrow) Going off to flirt again? (Laughs) At least you are spreading our genes. Go on, leave now. We have to talk to your lolo later. You’ll just be distracting him again.

Ruth: Do come home early tonight. I want to take you to Salud’s dinner party. Her daughter Terry has just returned from Manila with her Chinese boyfriend. You remember Terry dear, don’t you?

Arthur (in a rush): Well, not as much as I should, perhaps.

Ruth: You were always very warm with Terry, I thought you had something going on.

Arthur (with sentimental amicability, still in a rush): Well, we find new people to be warm with. (Motions to leave. With great anxiety) Now I really must excuse myself.

Ruth: Oh wait, have you unpacked?

Arthur: (Stops on his tracks) Not yet, Ma, but I’ll just do it later.

Ruth: Oh, let the achays do it. What’s the use of having achays.

Arthur (almost consternated): Oh no, Ma, I insist. I’ll be unpacking them myself.

Ruth (affectionately):  Are you ordering me!? (Giggles) Just go, already!

Arthur: (Kisses mother and father) Okay. Kuya.

Raymond: Yeah, take care.

Gov. Manny Jr.: Take one of the cars. (Gestures to one of the henchmen)

Arthur: Oh no, Pa, I prefer commuting. I haven’t commuted here in Santo Tomas for a while, I want to reminisce. (To the henchmen)You can stay here, Boy. (To the family) I’ll go ahead.

(Exeunt Arthur in a rush to the left)

Gov. Manny Jr.: (Follows Arthur with his eyes. Affectionately) Ay, that boy is hopeless. (Reading the paper) Putang ina this Fernandez. Kahilas! Listen to what he wrote on this column of his: “The underlying elitism that manifested itself in the Magdalo–Magdiwang rivalry crippled the Revolution and it still cripples us today, because the elitists (note that I do not use here ‘the elite’) never consider the capabilities of those whom they perceive are below them.” Funny, because he himself is an elitist! Inglisero! (Puts down the paper violently) I hope papa agrees to the plan!

Ruth: I’ve been nothing but tears and hurt feelings in front of the Couples wives and with the Gabriela people. Have you dealt with the Federation, Ray?

Raymond: Not without difficulty. Arthur’s the only actor among us, you know!

Ruth: (Laughs) What did you do, dear?

Raymond: When Fernandez was mentioned in the Federation meeting, I pretended to be unaffected. But in a few moments, I pretended to be bothered. When they fell silent, I explained to the idiots that “I was just hurt because all the family gets after five generations of service is criticism.” I also brought up the issue of extrajudicial killings, and I said if I had only known they’d suspect me and my family, I should never have taken the responsibility of chairman. Finally I apologized for digressing from the order of business of the federation. Basically, I just did what Tito Edward pulled off in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

Gov. Manny Jr.: (Laughs) And what do they think of Fernandez now?

Raymond: Hilas, an elitist who never understood their sufferings.

Gov. Manny Jr.: Good! Now we are no longer the sole suspects, the angle of a privately motivated directive could be seen. It is a good thing our appeal is populist while Fernandez is seen as being hilas. (Gestures to the maid to hand him another newspaper)

Ruth: Everything seems to be in order. I think we ought to call Papa. (Rises. To Raymond) Come, let’s get your lolo.

Raymond: Yes, Ma. (He and Ruth exit)

Gov. Manny Jr.: (Reads papers. After a short while, he gets his cellphone) Hello, John Paul. Come over . . . What, and where did Cocoy take the men? What happened? (Listens)

Re-enter Raymond and Ruth, with Cong. Manny Sr. The congressman is old, but he is just as plump as his son Manny Junior. His army cut hair is entirely white. His face is ruddy, making him look like a mastiff. His age, however, imposes a high amount of respect from all the other characters. They crowd around him like little children clambering up a scowling Buddha.

Gov. Manny Jr.: (Stands up to greet father) Papa, have you had a good sleep?

Cong. Manny Sr.: Yes, but dios mio, I really cannot deny it anymore, I am old. Just walking is becoming tiring! (Laughs)

Raymond: Tito Cocoy took some of the men with him, Pa?

Gov. Manny Jr.: Yes. Apparently the idiot could not control his urges. He did the wife of a policeman in his city. Now the policeman found out!

Ruth (condescendingly): Oh, men!

Raymond: Now where did I hear that story before!?

Gov. Manny Jr.: Yes! It is familiar, isn’t it?

Cong. Manny Sr.: (Looks at the maids and henchmen and dismisses them to exit. They exit. Laughs suddenly) You young people have terrible memories! Have I not shared with you boys that the same thing happened to me when I was young? Ah, that Lucretia was one woman. (To Gov. Manny Jr.) Even your mother was no match for him, Jun! (Laughs)

Gov. Manny Jr.: Do refresh our memories, Pa.

Cong. Manny Sr. (with a glint of nostalgia in his eyes): I was right around your age, Raymond, and was just a capitan de barangay—yes, you have outdone me, I was not the provincial chair of the Federation! That Lucretia was the wife of a policeman, Collatino. When the tonto was out I did her. Well, she liked it (laughs) but she ratted to him anyway, the puta.

Ruth: (The feminist in her is aghast) Oh, Papa!

Cong. Manny Sr.: (Eyes her authoritatively, silencing the feminist in her. Continues as if she did not interrupt) The gago of a husband threatened to kill me, said it would be easy since I was just some kid. But the neighborhood was for me, exactly because I was young—they could not believe a young man like me from a buen familia could do something like that. And to protect me, this neighborhood thug named Dionisio—I forgot the family name—went so far as accusing the policeman of stealing his goat! And the neighborhood’s attention was diverted to the goat! (Laughs) One night, I drank with Dionisio and made him drunk. When the idiot was asleep, I took his bolo and went off to take care of the couple. It was his bolo, and he had a known grudge against the victims, so Dionisio was in prison until he died!

Gov. Manny Jr.: Ah yes, now I recall. It’s been some time since you’ve told that story! (He realizes. Suddenly, he looks aghast.)

Ruth: Manny?

Gov. Manny Jr.: Papa! We have to kill that Fernandez! (Almost to himself) It was just a countermeasure about the tank, but now we have to do this! We have to kill him!

Cong. Manny Sr.: Wait, wait. Calm down. (Takes a deep breath)  I knew we were coming to this. But let us talk about it properly before deciding. This is a big decision. Inhale, exhale (Gov. Manny Jr. obeys.) Okay, let us decide on this properly. (To Raymond) Ray, hijo, could you lead us a prayer so God can enlighten us?

Raymond: Opo. (Stands up) Let us all be reminded that we are in the presence of God. (Sign of the cross) Father God, thank you for giving us a new day. Please guide us as we make this very important decision. These we ask in Jesus’ name, amen.

All: Amen. (Sign of the cross)

Cong. Manny Sr.: Okay, now that the Espirito Santo has blessed us with prudence, speak.

Gov. Manny Jr.: (Stands. Clears his throat) Papa, Celestino Fernandez will come to the province today. We have devised an operation to get rid of him and his entourage.

Cong. Manny Sr. is surprised but seems passive.

Cong. Manny Sr.: How will you pull it off? How will you hide it from the police?

Gov. Manny Jr.: That is easy. (Looks at window) Ah, John Paul’s timing is admirable.

John Paul enters with an entourage of henchmen. He is as tall as Raymond, with army-cut hair and a well-built body. He has a stiff expression on his face. His complexion is much darker than that of the other men. At a gesture from the old man the henchmen exit.

Gov. Manny Jr.: John Paul. Before all else, tell us, do you promise to be loyal to the family with respect to its plan I already mentioned to you?

John Paul (a bit surprised): Yes, sir.

Cong. Manny Sr.: So you have the provincial chief of police with you. Good. Okay, let us continue.

Gov. Manny Jr.: As you can see, Papa, the provincial chief of police is ours. In fact, it will be the provincial police who will be doing the deed.

Cong. Manny Sr.: But what about the national police? How will you avoid blame? You should pass the blame on others.

Gov. Manny Jr.: We have thought of that, Papa—yes, Edward, Celinia, and Boboy are in this as well. We have specifically chosen to do the deed in our NPA hotspots here in the province. Edward and Raymond here too have been talking in their respective assemblies to rally sympathy for us. We have also stirred a considerably high amount of public dislike for Fernandez that the angle of private action is more than likely.

Raymond: Yes, Lolo. Tito Edward’s been the one negotiating with the NPA, and things are going well. But Tita Cely says the people in Congress still think we have little control of them. The possibility of rash action from them to please us—and also because Fernandez has been criticizing the NPA too—will make them very convincing suspects!

Cong. Manny Sr.: I see. (After a pause that makes the other characters tense) But really, is his criticism all the reason why you want to get rid of him? What are you hiding from me?

Gov. Manny Jr.: (Hesitates) Well, Papa, when Fernandez was speaking on a radio station last night, he was asked if he was not afraid of the family. Well . . . he answered, “I am afraid of neither the bolo of the Old Reyes’ past, nor the tank of the younger Reyes’ present. I am even brave enough to uncover them.” (Cong. Manny Sr. starts up) I only remembered about it when you retold the story a while ago!

Cong. Manny Sr.: So you think he knows? How? What is he planning to do?

Gov. Manny Jr.: One of our assets speculates that Fernandez’s men might have already found your bolo. It was taken to the police for evidence, was it not? It would be very easy for an inquisitive man to look it up. He might be planning to meet with the henchmen who got it when he arrives—that is why he chose to start that tour of his here!

Cong. Manny Sr.: (Stands up) Kill that putang ina and everyone in his convoy! He dares dishonor me and this family? Get rid of him! (Raymond tries to calm him down and leads him back to his seat) How do you intend to do the deed?

Gov. Manny Jr. gestures to Ruth.

Ruth:  (Wipes sweat) This will be how things go po, Papa: Fernandez’s convoy will enter from Davao into the municipality of Bacudo. Daddy, Mayor Pablo Cipriano, gave us his policemen to act here.

Cong. Manny Sr.: So Cipring is in it too?

Ruth: Opo, Papa. SPO3 Tirona of Bacudo will meet the convoy and pretend to escort them to Buduan. Here, the policemen of Buduan and Bagong Quezon will pick them up. They will ask the convoy people to give their communication devices to secure the area. They will say there is an NPA-related conflict. After these communication devices are to be taken and destroyed, they will be brought to Santo Tomas, far from the town, and they will be disposed of there.

Cong. Manny Sr.: Disposed of? How?

Ruth: Shot po, before being chopped to make burying them convenient.

John Paul raises hand. Ruth looks at him and nods in consent.

John Paul: Let me just add, sirs, ma’am, that for the whole operation, SPO3 Ervic of Santo Tomas, my wife’s cousin, will be in charge. He’s a newbie, sir, but I trust his capability.

Cong. Manny Sr.: That bolo worries me. (To himself) How on earth did he find out? Are you sure if we kill Fernandez, we will get rid of that bolo?

Gov. Manny Jr.: We will make the convoy stop for a few hours in Bacudo before they are picked up to let Fernandez’s man come after them. That way whoever that tiktik of his is would be included in the shooting. Besides, Papa, we are still not sure if Fernandez really has found it, or even if he actually knows what happened.

Cong. Manny Sr.: (Breathes deeply) Yes, I should not worry too much. But it’s best to be certain. (Smiles) It is a well-made plan! Who thought of it?

Gov. Manny Jr.: It was Ruth, Papa.

Cong. Manny Sr. (smiling):   You are very clever, hija.

Ruth:  (Bashfully accepts his beso on the cheek) I learn from the best, Papa.

Cong. Manny Sr.: (Laughs. Notices Raymond’s pale face) What’s wrong, Ray?

Raymond: I don’t know, Lolo, but I have a bad feeling. We’re dealing with lives here, I realized.

Cong. Manny Sr.: (Laughs) You have weak guts, boy. This is how you kill issues and problems: you kill the people making them.

Gov. Manny Jr.: Even better, reverse it: think that you are not killing a person, you are killing the issue.

Cong. Manny Sr.: Is that how you do it, Jun? Yes, you can do that too. But to be sure. You ought to make this boy’s guts stronger. (To Raymond) Go to the site today after the whole thing is done, hijo. That will give you guts, a lot of it, I can imagine! (Laughs) Report to us if the plan was successful.

Raymond: (Loses his cool) But . . . but I might throw up!

Cong. Manny Sr.: Oh, it will be nothing! Just think they had slaughtered pigs.

Raymond: But . . . but, Lolo, Pa—Ma! I . . . I really don’t think this is right. These, these are lives we’re dealing with—

Cong. Manny Sr.: (Shuts him up with a gesture) Elders say, you obey. Okay? (Raymond nods with a mixture of continued reluctance and fear) Good. Jun, make me a cup of coffee.

Gov. Manny Jr.: (Distracted chatting with John Paul) Oh, Ruth.

Ruth: Raymond.

Raymond (loudly): Beng!

Enter a maid. Raymond gestures to her to make coffee. The maid obeys.

A cellphone rings. It is John Paul’s. He answers it.

John Paul: Hello, Vic . . . Yes, yes—what, you’ve began moving? (The family is startled) It’s a good thing the congressman agreed! Wait . . . (To the family) They’ve started, sirs. The convoy arrived early.

Ruth: Where are they now?

John Paul: Heading towards Santo Tomas.

Cong. Manny Sr.: Did you make them wait in Bacudo?

John Paul: Let me ask, sir. (Phone) How long did you stay in Bacudo? (To Cong. Manny Sr.) just as was planned, sir: about two hours. They just started the plan early.

Gov. Manny Jr.: You mean to say even though the plan was out of schedule, they still went accordingly? This is a useful bata you found, this Ervic!

John Paul: I know, sir. He’s a clever man. Oh, he was asking about the women and children.

Ruth and Raymond: Women and children?

John Paul: Yes, sir, ma’am, there are women and children in the convoy.

Ruth: Violence against women!

Gov. Manny Jr.: Oh drop it, Ruth. Women should get equality in everything, even the things men have to suffer.

Cong. Manny Sr. laughs.

Raymond (unable to restrain himself): Lolo, the children, please, not the—

Cong. Manny Sr.: (Again shuts Raymond up with gesture) Get rid of them too to keep things clean. That’ll get rid of the NPA too. Imagine the public outcry! (Laughs)

John Paul: Okay, sir. (Phone) Include them. Call me if it’s done . . . Okay . . . (Puts phone down)

Cong. Manny Sr.: Brilliant! I was hesitant that a newbie is taking care of this, but now I am glad!

John Paul: We really don’t have too many old-timers now, sir. Many of them have retired by now. In fact most of the people in this operation are newbies. Sir Cocoy somehow took all the old-timers with him.

The family laughs except Raymond. Ruth observes his silence and tries to comfort him. He cheers up a bit.

Cong. Manny Sr.: At any rate, we do need to secure more bata.

John Paul: Yes, sir. I was going to suggest that.

Gov. Manny Jr.: John Paul. When you recruit more bata you should mention the tank we’re about to get. That’ll draw them in!

John Paul: A tank, sir?

Gov. Manny Jr.: Yes! I was able to bribe this general, he even gave us some ammunition to go with it. It was a real bargain.

John Paul: This is sure to attract more men, sir!

Cong. Manny Sr.: (To John Paul) Really, boy. I am glad I took you in. The family’s future depends on your able action.

John Paul: (Smiles humbly) I do my best to repay your kindness, sir—my son is graduating thanks to your support!

Raymond (with hesitation): By the way, Lolo, can . . . can I request something?

Cong. Manny Sr. (with pronounced gentleness this time): Yes, Ray?

Raymond (encouraged by the display of gentleness): You see po, barangays don’t have any budget to support domestic violence victims. Could you lead the legislation on this? (Ruth perks up at hearing this.)

Gov. Manny Jr.: Why? Is not the DSWD doing anything? Stupid national government.

Raymond: I don’t know, Pa. We always direct complaints to the DSWD, but they always answer that nobody is in the DSWD Office. And besides, right now the DSWD is just acting like a juvenile prison. (Gov. Manny Jr. shrugs his shoulder). Domestic violence is a big problem in barangays. But the women aren’t the only victims, men too are also indirectly affected. Poverty is the main cause of instances: usually when we ask, we are told that the battering begins when the wife complains too much to the husband—the image of the demure battered wife is far from true! For there really is no such thing as a demure housewife anymore. Really, poverty is a big problem: we had this family who resorted to catching mice and lizards to eat.

Ruth: Ugh, why didn’t they just ask from their neighbors!?

Raymond: The neighbors don’t want to help. The family would just rely on them, they say. This is usually what happens

Cong. Manny Sr.: (Shudders) What a relief we are in power.

Raymond: (Misinterprets what his grandfather said. Face brightens with hope) That’s why I believe if we give free vocational training, it will really help. And if we incorporate counselling on anger management and marriage counselling, it will solve two problems at once. It will be a long-term solution.

Cong. Manny Sr. (dismissive): Okay, okay, draft the articles and I will pass it when I go to Manila—I  have to go soon, anyway. I’ve been absent in the Camara for months already.

Ruth: Oy, my friend Bibeth is also asking about that House Resolution on allowing mining in Buduan, Papa. Her husband has foreign investors willing to fund operations already.

Cong. Manny Sr. (slightly annoyed): Yes, I’ll check that, too.

Ruth: Oh, and Luz wants your vote for this bill Gabriela is planning to pass next month. It’s about women’s health.

Cong. Manny Sr. (annoyed this time): Okay, okay, I’ll check that too. Where is that stupid secretary of mine when you need her.

Gov. Manny Jr.: Remember you gave her a leave?

Cong. Manny Sr.: And right before I’m to go to Manila. What a bad idea.

Gov. Manny Jr.: (Mischievously, adding to the list) Oh, and Papa, we seriously need to increase Bajada’s IRA. We want to set up an intelligence fund

Cong. Manny Sr. (very annoyed): Why don’t you just tell Lotlot at the NSO to magic the province’s birth rate for the coming fiscal year! (The family laughs, and when Cong. Manny Sr. realizes the joke, he laughs too)

Ruth (remembering her tasks): Oh, I have to prepare for tonight’s party, and I have to read those papers Salud sent me! But I’ll go unpack Arthur’s bags first. (Gestures to maid, and maid waits by the door for her. To Manny Jr.) Update me if the plan was successful.

Gov. Manny Jr.: Okay.

Exit Ruth with maid.

Cong. Manny Sr.: I think that maid heard too much. (To John Paul) Take care of her after Ruth’s done with her. Go have fun while you’re at it.

John Paul: Yes, sir.

John Paul’s phone rings again, and he picks it up.

John Paul: (Phone) How did it go? Okay . . . (Puts down the phone. To the family) It’s done, sir.

Gov. Manny Jr.: It was fast! (To Raymond) Go, ’Nak, take a look and call us to confirm that Fernandez is dead.

Raymond (hesitantly): Okay, Papa. (Stands up)

Cong. Manny Sr.: Wait. (Takes some money from pocket and gives to Raymond) Here, treat the men to something!

Raymond: Opo, Lolo. (Exits to the left)

Cong. Manny Sr.: (Follows Raymond with eyes. To Gov. Manny Jr.) You have a hardworking son.

Gov. Manny Jr.: I’m proud of both of them—even if Arthur’s being a useless dandy, he has remarkable insight too.

Cong. Manny Sr.: Yes, very good with his words that boy, hopeless case that he is. But what worries me about your panganay is that he does not seem to have the sense of responsibility for his “duty of privilege.”

Gov. Manny Jr.: Duty of privilege, Papa?

Cong. Manny Sr.: I am certain you know what I mean. You feel it too of course. Though it is stronger with Cocoy and Edward. (Laughs) Not only is Raymond a public servant himself, he was born into a family of public servants—that makes him doubly superior to the ordinary people. And because he is better than them, it is his duty as it is ours to enjoy things in behalf of them. He must enjoy the privileges of power that are not given to everybody.  We as leaders are obliged to be happy in behalf of the suffering masses. As Arthur would put it, noblesse oblige.

Gov. Manny Jr.: Ah, I am still so young, Papa.

Cong. Manny Sr.: Of course. You have a lot more rice to eat, dong. (Laughs. Looks around) But dios mio, how on earth can we enjoy for the masses when our house is this small? (Sighs)  you know what, in our five generations of service we have gotten very little, compared to some upstart who happens to be in Manila. We are just LGUs in faraway Mindanao, unfortunately. You are planning on becoming congressman, right? Try to be as conspicuous as you can in the House so you can aim for Senator. The local politician’s resources are really not enough to support us. (Sighs) As for me I’m too old now. The reigns are yours, dong.

Gov. Manny Jr.: Ginoo, don’t pressure me, Papa. (Laughs)

Cong. Manny Sr.: (Laughs along) If I do not pressure you, what kind of a father would I be!

Gov. Manny Jr.: True! (Laughs. He shouts the name of a maid, and maid enters. Gestures to the papers on the desk. The maid hands it to him. He dismisses the maid after receiving the papers) Raymond has been bothering me to sign these ordinances for months now. (He begins signing the papers while Cong. Manny Sr. reads newspapers)

Cong. Manny Sr.: (After some minutes reading) Punyeta!

Gov. Manny Jr.: What is it, Pa?

Cong. Manny Sr.: Have you read this Zayd Suleiman? A new writer, it seems. Here, read this column of his on Davao Star (Hands the paper. Maid takes it and hands it to Gov. Manny Jr.)

Gov. Manny Jr.: (Reading) “The continued hegemony of the Reyeses in Bajada in spite of their decades of atrocities just goes to show that Mindanao politics is predominantly ‘makatao’ (personality based) rather than idea-based: There’s too much focus on personalities and not enough emphasis on ideas. But it must not be said that this problem is limited to Mindanao: This is a national problem. During People Power 1, for instance, the ‘fight’ was between then-president Marcos (a personality) and senator Ninoy Aquino (another personality). Was it not the case that the personality of the latter ‘party’ was transferred from Ninoy when he died to his widow Cory? It can even be said that this may very well be the reason why Mindanao Secession as a movement was unsuccessful: it was too focused on concepts. It took a P-Noy to sign the Bangsamoro deal, and a defeated villain in the person of Misuari to make it all the more a success.”

Cong. Manny Sr.: His tone infuriates me, as if he knows everything. Who is this m——, writing as if he is somebody! He shouldn’t be speaking, he’s just a moro. In my time, we killed Muslims before they started bombing things. And now they’re giving these cockroaches an autonomous state of their own!? Where is this country going—Ah, now I remember! Was not he that terorista who criticized the SK sometime ago?

Gov. Manny Jr.: Yes, I recall, it was him. What a headache that was.

Cong. Manny Sr.: Oh, I hope he’s part of Fernandez’s convoy!

A phone rings. Gov. Manny Jr. answers his own.

Gov. Manny Jr.: (Phone) Hello, Ray? I’ll put you on loud speaker so your lolo can hear you (Presses something on the phone). Hello?

Raymond (voice): Hello, Papa. I’m here in the area now. I can see it all . . . scattered everywhere . . . chopped to bits . . . I feel like I’m going to throw up.

Gov. Manny Jr.: (Giggles) Wait, wait: think those are toys, just props for some pelikula.

Raymond (phone): Opo . . . I feel better now

The sound of a car stopping is heard from the phone.

Gov. Manny Jr.: (Laughs) Have you arrived?

Raymond (phone): Yes . . . Ah, I’m starting to get sick again. It’s so rancid.

Gov. Manny Jr.: (Laughs) Then use a handkerchief, idiot!

Raymond (phone): Opo. (The sound of rustling cloth is heard. A bit less clear than before) Can you still hear me, Pa?

Gov. Manny Jr.: It’s is a bit muffled, but yes. Look for Fernandez’s body. You know what he looks like?

Raymond: Yes. Wait a moment . . . (Momentary silence) I’m in front of his head, Papa. I don’t know where the rest of him is—Ugh! They hit the back of the head with a bolo, and the brain’s oozing out!

Gov. Manny Jr.: Kaarte! (Laughs) Have Ervic wrap that up and bring it here—you do not have to touch it, have it placed at the back of the Fortuner! (Laughs)

Raymond (phone): Opo.

Gov. Manny Jr.: Oh, and was anyone bringing a bolo among there?

Raymond (phone): I’ll just ask . . . (To Ervic) Bossing, was there anybody here who was bringing a bolo? Okay. (Phone) They didn’t find anything, Papa. A few people followed, but they didn’t find anything. They’d have noticed it immediately, because they took all the journalists’ possessions.

Gov. Manny Jr.: Okay. Ah! The journalists and their families will be wearing formal attire, of course. Try to look for a body without of place attire there, Ray.

Raymond (phone): Opo . . . (Momentary silence) Where did I see this polo . . . No . . . (Breathing becomes rapid. The sound of running is heard) No! (The sound of the phone being thrown away is heard)

Gov. Manny Jr.: Hello, Ray? Ray, what happened?

The continued shouts of “no” from Raymond are heard. He suddenly falls silent, with someone asking a hesitant “sir” heard. “That’s the one who followed,” the other voice can be heard saying. Violent sounds are heard and a gunshot. Raymond shouts “A sack! Putang ina, give me a sack!” and the rustling of a sack is heard. The sound of running, then the loud sound of a vehicle starting up. Then the line is cut: the car has crushed the phone.

Gov. Manny Jr.: What happened to him? (Jokingly) Oh, someone he knew was included! Tsk. He’ll learn, that boy. But to be sure, could you meet him, John Paul.

John Paul: Yes, sir. (Exits to the left. In a short while, the sound of a vehicle leaving is heard)

Gov. Manny Jr.: What could have happened to that boy? Oh well. (Returns to signing papers)

Cong. Manny Sr.: (After a while, stands up) I think I will take another siesta. Tell me when Raymond has returned.

Gov. Manny Jr.: Opo, Papa. (Gestures to maids. Maids assist Cong. Manny Sr.)

Exeunt Cong. Manny Sr.

Ruth enters suddenly, holding some worn-looking sheets of paper in one hand and a black attaché case in the other.

Ruth: Punyeta! Manny!

Gov. Manny Jr.: What is it?

Ruth: That Arthur! Look at this!? (Hands the papers to Gov. Manny Jr.)

Gov. Manny Jr. reads, his face growing livid, while Ruth continues to curse.

Gov. Manny Jr.: (Furious) Draft articles—Arthur—Arthur is that Zayd Suleiman? Putang ina! (Tears the bits of paper to pieces, unable to speak out of anger) He was that warik-warik? He nearly cost his brother the SK post!

Ruth: (Controls Gov. Manny Jr.) Dear, your heart! (Leads him back to the seat)

Gov. Manny Jr.: That boy! We have allowed him to do what he wants, but he has gone beyond the limit, I say! What else is in that attaché case?

Ruth: I don’t know. Here. (Hands him the attaché case. He takes another piece of paper inside and reads it). My temper rose when I saw these papers, so I didn’t bother looking at the rest. (Notices the gesticulation on her husband’s face) Why? What’s in it?

Gov. Manny Jr.: It’s from that Celestino Fernandez! (Reads it silently) Putang ina, how close they are, it is almost indecent! (Reads quietly again) “ . . . follow the convoy on time . . .”

Ruth: “Follow the convoy on time”?

The sound of a vehicle is heard.

Gov. Manny Jr.: Ginoo, Ruth! So that means . . . (Insanely) Ginoo!

The violent slam of a door and the shattering of car window glass is heard. The couple looks to the left.

Raymond (voice): (In a lachrymose roar) Pa! Ma! Arthur!  It’s Arthur!

Curtain