Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fidel's March: A Screenplay of a Novel (Chapter 03)



“LATEX PAINT,” read a graffiti logo drawn with chalk on the lower, plated part of the black gate.
     Outside Fidel and Joanna’s house gate, Fidel arrived in his black Ford Expedition, honking. The maid opened the gate, and the vehicle went in.
     A front tire ran over canine shit. The maid could only look at what happened and said, “Sus!”
     Neighbors outside the house, standing before a banana-cue vendor’s stall, were looking in envy at the big house and Fidel’s new vehicle. The stall-owner had a radio blaring the rock band Yano's freedom song “Naroon.”
     “Sisirin mo sa dagat, baka naroon ang kalayaan!” it sang.
     One of the tambays (bystanders) said, “Kelan kaya tayo yayaman, pare?” He spat then chewed on his banana-cue.
     His thin compadre said, “Matuto ka munang manloko o mandaya. Walang yumayaman na di marunong no’n. . . . Pare, kung ako yumaman nang ganyan, tataba talaga ako.”
     The other tambays near the neighborhood banana-cue stall laughed, while this compadre also spat and then chewed on his banana-cue.
     “Pare,” another tambay said, “di mo naman kailangang yumaman para tumaba e. Mag-apply ka diyan bilang boy. Katulong ni Sienna sa kusina. Tingnan mo si Sienna, tumaba na nang husto.”
     All the tambays, along with the women standing around the vendor, laughed. Then they all spat together. And then they chewed on their respective banana-cues.
     Vicente was standing outside the gate with his cameragirl. Vicente looked at the neighbors and shook his head. He and his cameragirl entered the closed gate, going through it, but again avoiding the dog shit, chuckling at it.
     They again climbed back up the house stairs.

@ @ @

Inside the house, in the living area, Fidel’s son Pablo ran to his Papa, kissing him then running back to his toys on the floor. Fidel just looked at his son, too tired to give him further attention. Wana was smiling, also went to Fidel to kiss him.
     She was saying, “alam mo ba yang si Pablo, may bagong salitang English na naman yan. ‘No, don’t!’ sabi niya sa’kin kanina.”
     Usually Fidel would launch into a speech over the Filipino language which he’d be wont to encourage, as against English. This was just a habit he has had from his student days among the many nationalists of the University of the Philippines at its Quezon City campus. But today Fidel just smiled on the sofa, half of his mind somewhere else, or out nowhere.
     Vicente and his cameragirl sat down on a shiny rattan sofa at a side of the living area where the rug was nothing Persian but a lovely local banig.
     “Kumusta lakad?” Joanna asked.
     “Well, nakasingil din ng konti. Kay Mr. Sia,” Fidel said, frowning a bit as if it was hot in the house.
     “Alin yun?” she asked.
     Indifferently, he said, “Yung . . . buong family na portrait.”
     “Buong family, di ko nakita yun a,” she said.
     The cameragirl went to the kitchen with her camera and was shooting the maid brewing coffee and unwrapping and then slicing binagol. Binagol is made from talian—a giant taro variety—cooked with coconut and molasses syrup and then, after having been pre-cooked, placed inside half of a coconut shell and covered in leaves tied around the shell with a thread and thereafter steamed.
     Sienna cut the strings and removed the leaf cover. She slid a knife under the sticky cake and, turning over the shell, dropped the cake to a plate where she sliced the cake into eight little sticky slices.
     Back in the living room, the couple got up and moved to the dinner table. The maid served them the coffee and binagol, intermittently glancing at Fidel.
     As soon as the couple settled, Fidel asked, putting sugar in his coffee:
     “Speaking of art, Joanne, . . . ikaw, kelan ka babalik sa art mo?”
     “Ha?” said Joanna.
     “Sa paggawa mo ng mga short films, di ba? Nami-miss ko na e.”
     Joanna smiled and sighed.
     “Ano’ng art ba ang pinagsasasabi mo?” she said, putting sugar into her cup, “tapos na ako ro’n, ano.”
     Vicente and the cam-girl just sat in the rattan sofa across the hall in the living area, looking at the couple in the dining area.
     “Ikaw talaga,” said Fidel, “kahit digital camera ba e. Tutal me pera na tayo, ibenta mo ang luma mong kamera, bili ka ng bago. Digital, mas mura, pati post-production.”
     “Sus, Fidel, huwag na nating pag-usapan yan. At ang luma kong kamera, di ko ipagbibili yun, regalo ng Tatay yon. At wala na akong oras para diyan, ano.”

@ @ @

Vicente said to the camera, “Kung sabagay, sino nga ba naman ang nanonood ng mga short films niya noon? Well, mga estudyante, at pagka-graduate ng mga yun iba na ang tatangkilikin na mga pelikula at artista. Puro Amerikano na, wala na kasing nirerequire na panoorin.”

@ @ @

Now it was evening. They were at dinner at the dining table. Vicente and the cameragirl were not in the rattan sofa anymore. Pablo had fallen asleep on the living area sofa, his toy trucks now in a box below the sofa. The couple continued their conversation as they ate.
     “Ano pa bang oras ang kelangan mo?” Fidel asked. “Unless tinatamad ka lang.”
     Joanna was starting to get irritated and sighed. But she soon smiled and said:
     “Hindi ako tinatamad. Wala lang akong motivation. Para saan ba yon? Sabi nga nila, kung wala ka namang isusulat, huwag kang magsulat. Ako, wala akong isu-shoot. Nakakahiya naman kung gumawa ako ng documentary tungkol sa mga paintings mo. Yun lang ang love ko sa ngayon, ang mga paintings mo, ikaw, si Pablo. Period.”
     Fidel sighed.
     “O, yun pala e. E di ito ang gawin mong subject. Ang bahay, ang garden mo, o kung gusto mo mas malawak diyan, yung bagong barangay natin, o ang bagong hometown natin. Maganda nga yon, pareho tayo di galing dito, may naiiba tayong pananaw tungkol sa mga taga-rito. Baka mas positibo.”
     “E, para saan naman yun, ano? Yun nga ang tanong e. Sino ba’ng nanonood ng short films? At sino’ng magpapalabas?”
     Fidel was insistent. He said:
     “Alam mo, huwag mo munang isipin kung sino ang manonood ng mga short films mo. Hindi mo alam, baka sa susunod na henerasyon ng mga Pilipino sikat na sa TV ang mga short films. Darating na ang panahon na magiging isa na lang ang pera sa buong Southeast Asia. Tapos no’n, baka maging bahagi ng United Republics of Southeast Asia na tayo.”
     “E, ang tagal pa no’n e. At ano naman ang kinalaman nun sa short films ko?”
     “Aba, Joanna, ibig sabihin maaaring umangat ang level of education ng mga tao. Pag nangyari yun, magpapalabas na ngayon ng mga symbolist o metaphorical o poetic na short films sa TV, parang mga maliliit na D.W. Griffith o Yevgeni Bauer o Marcel L’Herbier. O, e, nasaan na ang mga pelikula mo pagdating ng panahon?”
     Joanna laughed, putting her arms on the table and staring lovingly at her husband. “Naaalala mo pa ang mga idols ko ha,” she said.
     “Alam mo,” continued Fidel, “pag pinagdugtong-dugtong mo ang mga nagawa mo na mula nung dati, baka dalawang oras din aabutin nun, puwede na rin sa sinehan yun. Para silang mga maiikling kuwento, di ba? O di kaya, ganito, isali muna natin ‘to sa mga film festivals sa labas ng bansa. O, ano? Malay mo, baka maging sikat ka rin, masama ang pangalan mo sa Pinoy artists encyclopedia ng CCP.”
     She laughed.
     “Encyclopedia na walang bumibili?”
     “Meron, ha.”
     “Sino, yung mga bumibili ng paintings mo?”
     She was laughing and Fidel was smiling at the table as he continued to eat.
     She would every now and then look at Fidel, lovingly as we said, as he ate.

@ @ @

The couple was now having dessert. The young cameragirl was standing behind Joanna.
     “Teka, teka, teka, teka. Lumalayo na yata tayo,” said Joanna, smiling, as she took a spoonful of ice cream.
     “Hindi, hindi. Ibig kong sabihin, kung sino man ang mga sikat sa isang panahon, nag-iiba yun e. Sa susunod na henerasyon, baka hindi na sila. Halimbawa, dati sikat ang mga statesmen, ito ang mga taong mga nangangalaga sa bayan, sila ang konsyensiya ng bayan. Di ba? Ngayon, kelangan politiko ka lang, kahit wala kang pakialam sa bayan mo, kahit hindi ka statesman, puwede kang iboto ng tao. At ang mga pagbabago dyan, kaugnay sa level of education ng tao yan, sa access nila sa totoong information. Hindi sila basta-basta magiging biktima ng disinformation o black propaganda ng mga taong akala mo malilinis kung mataas ang kanilang kamulatan. Kung umangat ang antas ng edukasyon, aangat din ang antas ng pagpili natin ng mga mamamahala sa atin, di ba?”
     “Right.”
     “So, ibig kong sabihin, darating din ang panahon ng pagbabago. Dahil dahan-dahang magsasawa na ang taumbayan sa bulok na edukasyon na binibigay sa kanila ng ruling class. Magkakarebolusyon sa bandang yan.”
     “Okay,” she said, smiling.
     “At pag nagkataon na ang mga tao handa nang magbasa ng libro, o manood ng metaphorical short films sa TV, as I was saying, at gustuhin nila yun kesa manood ng mga estupidong parlor games sa tanghali na tumutulong magpanatili sa kanila bilang mga walang alam, o di kaya ng mga moralizing na soap opera, . . . well, pag dumating na ang panahong yun ng pagbabago, ang tanong ko uli, eto . . . nasaan na ang mga short films mo?”
     Simultaneous to him saying that last clause she said, “nasaan na ang mga short films ko?”
     She laughed.
     “Ibig kong sabihin, huwag mo munang hintayin na magbago ang bayan bago ka gumawa ng mga bagay para sa bagong bayan.”
     She laughed again, saying, “Bagumbayan? Lugar yun e.”
     “At, baka nakakalimutan mo, do’n pinatay ang ating magiting na national hero na si Dr. Jose Rizal! Sa Bagumbayan!”
     She laughed out loud. He smiled.
     After she settled down, he said:
     “Kaya gawin mo na.”
     Joanna felt happy. She went over to sit on Fidel’s lap and kissed him. Then she went back to her chair, the cameragirl behind Joanna’s chair going through the wood of the table to get a close-up shot of Joanna on Fidel’s lap and then of Joanna’s smiling face when she was back in her chair again.
     “O, ano ka ba?” he said, smiling, while Joanna was sitting on his lap like a child, “hayaan mo. Ako’ng bahala. Basta gawin mo muna.”
     As Joanna went back to her chair, Fidel stood up to go to the kitchen to get a bottle of beer. The maid was in the kitchen eating her dinner, facing the wall.
     As Fidel walked to the kitchen Joanna said, “e pa’no ko nga gagawin, di ko naman alam kung para kanino ko gagawin. Hindi ko naman kilala ang mga Pilipino bukas, kilala ko lang ang mga Pilipino ngayon.”
     “O, di, sige,” said Fidel as he returned to the dining area. “Isipin mo na kung sino sa mga Pilipino ngayon ang gustong kausapin ng mga pelikula mo. Tapos, ibebenta natin nang ganun.”
     “Ano?”
     “Halimbawa, sino ba ang kinakausap ng pelikula mo, mga hurado sa Cannes Film Festival sa Pransiya? O sa Berlin Film Festival? O sa Venice? Toronto? Sundance? O mga kritiko sa bansa natin? Mga propesor? Estudyante? O mga mangingisda sa Leyte? . . . Kasi, pag alam mo na kung sino ang gusto mong kausapin, alam natin kung saan natin ipapalabas. E kung mangingisda nga, aba, e di hindi na natin kailangan ipalabas sa sinehan yang pelikula mo. Puwede tayong magpa-sponsor sa Coca Cola pickups para ipalabas nila sa mga barangay ng mga mangingisda. Doon, hindi sa sinehan.”
     If this were a movie, we’d surely insert here a view of such a pickup with a speaker on its roof and a small screen on a stand on the truck’s bed, an almost-square rollout screen facing the villagers.
After a pause while she was amusedly looking at Fidel, Joanna said, “Okay, pag-iisipan ko.”
     She put her teaspoon on the now-empty ice cream cup.
     “Nga pala. Talking about audience, sabihin mo nga sa akin. Sino ba ang naging inspirasyon mo noon sa mga ginawa mong short films?” asked Fidel. “Alam ko kasi di pa tayo mag-asawa no’n, di ba?”
     He was smiling, teasing, and Joanna laughed.
     “Ano ba’ng nangyayari sa ‘yo? Wala, ano. A, alam ko na. . . . Tatay ko. Siya yata ang genius sa filmmaking, di ba?”
     “Well. Sa palagay ko hindi.”
     She laughed, saying, “E, sino?”
     “Siguro co-teacher mo sa U.P. Alam ko pagkagraduate mo sa U.P. nagturo ka ro’n. Sabi ko pakasal na tayo, kaya umuwi ka sa Tatay mo, pero di mo nakita sa bahay niyo, sabi ng mga kapitbahay umalis na sa bahay niyo ang Tatay mo, kaya three years later pa tayo nagkita uli at nagpakasal. Di ba? So, ang tanong ko: three years before tayo, sino ang nakalaguyo mo? Ha?”
     “Ano ka ba?” said Joanna, laughing, “sabi na sa yo’ng Tatay ko ang pinasisikatan ko noon. . . . Actually, pinag-rerebeldehan. Sabi ko kasi sa Tatay ko, ang mga pelikula niya puro maka-mestiza at mestizo, kahit ba may social message e ayaw naman mag-empleyo ng mga artistang purong kayumanggi at mapapayat tulad ko noon. At hindi naman kami Tisoy na pamilya, di ba? Tingnan mo nga ang kulay ko.”
     “Ayaw niya ke Nora Aunor? Na may sundress na puno ng gumamela?”
     “Isang pelikula lang yon. Actually, producer niya may kasalanan.”
     “So, ano’ng nangyari?”
     “Yun. Kaya nga gumawa ako ng short film tungkol sa Christmas tree na may snow no’n, di ba? Para ipamukha ko sa kanya.”
     They both giggled.
     “Ano ka ba, ilang beses ko na kinukuwento sa yo yun a,” said Joanna.
     “O. Tingnan mo nga,” said Fidel, gesturing. “Ilang beses mo na kinuwento, hindi pa rin nakakasawa.”
     Joanna smiled, looking at him. Then she turned serious. She sighed. She looked towards the darkness of the porch.
     “Sana alam ko kung napa’no ang Tatay ko, kung nasa’n siya ngayon, kung buhay pa siya,” said Joanna, looking at the porch.
     Fidel looked at him guiltily.
     Then, smiling, she added, “tell you what, baka ‘pag makita ko siya uli ma-inspire na nga akong gumawa ng short films uli.”
     “Ha?”
     “E, wala na kasi akong pagrerebeldehan e. Ikaw, puro love lang naman nararamdaman ko sa ‘yo e, kahit pag masungit ka sa ‘kin.”
     They smiled at each other.
     There was another silence.
     Then Fidel said, “so, ayaw mo na ba talaga?”
     “Fidel,” said Joanna, turning serious, straightening up on her seat to face him as she held his hands, “ang art ko ngayon ang pamilya ko. Ginawa ko lang yon para sa university noon, nagwo-work din kasi ako sa U.P. Film Center noon habang nagtuturo. Pang-eskwelahan lang yon. Ito ang tunay na buhay, Fidel. And I love this better. Much, much better.”
     “Okay,” said Fidel, smiling. “Naiintindihan kita.”
     Fidel kissed his wife on her forehead hair, his cold beer mug-soaked palms on her neck below her ears, and then walked away.
     “Got to get back to work,” he said.
     “Pag-iisipan ko,” she said, as he turned the hallway on his way to his studio.



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Friday, October 23, 2009

Fidel's March: A Screenplay of a Novel (Chapter 02)



IN the master bedroom, Joanna was still brushing her hair when she was startled by Fidel's calling her name. She was quite an attractive young woman, and though it may be true that many such a beauty is diminished somewhat to become a bit of an uninteresting face once placed in the person of a young housewife busy with housework and gardening, Joanna’s youthful attractiveness still filled the house with cheerfulness, her sweat (over newly-bathed skin) and still-wet hair (smelling of fruit-scented shampoo) were mere accessories to her brown tanned glow that was a happy contrast to the red hibiscuses on her pale yellow-green sundress. Here, then, was a cheerfulness that had taken the role of a young wife in knee-length sundress or sweaty blouses, and yet couldn’t be brought into a world of disorder. She put her wooden hairbrush down on an old dressing table and hurried out.

@ @ @

Wana came into the studio smiling.
     “Bakit?” she asked.
     Fidel gestured to her to come closer. They were quite a young couple many couples would envy: young, good-looking, smart, nouveau-riche. Except that Fidel’s expressions toward Joanna made one doubt he was happy with her, even though Joanna looked without doubt very much in love with her husband and his art, in fact looked contented with the life of the young and settled.
     “Halika muna rito. Ito ba yung gusto mo? Blue na buhok?” Fidel asked, gesturing towards the painting he was working on. “O ganito?” He was now pointing at a sketch for the same work with a different color scheme.
     Wana, now right beside Fidel, was suddenly ecstatic.
     “Wow. Mas gusto ko siyempre ito,” she said, pointing at the canvas. “Alam mo naman ako, maka-blue ako e. Para kasing lumang black and white TV pag blue ang mukha at buhok. Kaya nga sinuggest ko yun e.”
     “Okay. Sige. Thank you ha. Ano’ng ginagawa ni Pablo?”
     “Nandu’n, nanonood ng cartoons, as usual. Sige ha, bantayan ko muna ang malikot na yun, baka makuryente na naman sa kalikutan.”
     “Pero mas maganda yata ‘tong violet e. I-test ko kaya.”
     Fidel quickly, jerkily, began to apply the violet on the hair. Wana, now by the door, sighed, disappointed at the disappearance of the blue, but still smiling.
     “Kasi . . . tanong ka pa nang tanong sa ‘kin, e alam mo naman pala ang gusto mo e. Magaling ka diyan e, ano bang alam ko diyan, except gusto ko lahat ng gawa mo,” she said, hurrying out of the studio.
     There was a crash.
     “Pablo!” called Joanna, running to the master bedroom, “ano ang nilikot mo diyan!”

@ @ @

The portly maid ran through the corridor. She reached the studio, where she found Fidel in the studio's terrace, in a rather angry mood.
     “Kuya,” carefully said the maid, “may long-distance po galing Maynila. Sa gallery raw.”

@ @ @

The maid and Fidel emerged from the hallway into the open living room where the breeze from the bougainvillea tree and the street right below mixed with the perfume of the house and the aroma from the kitchen. He headed for the phone, she headed towards her kitchen.
     “Hello!” said Fidel. “Uy, Ms. Lanuza, oho! Oho, matatapos ko na po yung tatlo para sa Artwalk exhibit—. Oho. Tapos may sisimulan ho akong orange series para sa Mandaluyong gallery niyo po. Opo. Opo. O sige ho, andiyan ho ako first week next month. Definite na po yun. Definitely, po. Okay ho, sige ho. Gusto niyo po i-email ko sa iyo ang images ng orange series? O sige po, no problem. Okay, pag natapos ko ho. Sigurado. Sige, po. Ba-bye.”
     Wana came into the room with Pablo in her arms. Pablo was playing with a small toy truck.
     “Si Ms. Lanuza yon?” asked Joanna, smiling as usual. “Na-schedule na ba exhibit mo? Kelan daw?” But before Fidel could answer she added, “uy, Fidel, remember, may pinangako kang painting kay Governor, tsaka sa pinsan ko. Bayad na sila pareho ha.      At ang mga commissioned works mo ha, huwag mong pababayaan na naman.”
     “Di ko pa yata kaya yung mga yun a, baka pangit lang magawa ko.”
     Joanna laughed.
     “Kelan ka ba naman gumawa ng pangit? Ha?” she said, moving towards Fidel to hug him. It’s now obvious to the cameragirl’s camera that Fidel is not a happy man although he acknowledges his wife’s caresses. Anyone who sees him in a close-up shot would wonder what he thought about himself and his state.
     Pablo said he wanted to pee. Joanna ran him to the bedroom toilet (“dito na sa bedroom toilet,” she said, laughing).

@ @ @

A dog began to drop its canine shit outside the Roxases’ house.
     Wana was at the front garden of their house with her maid. Her three-year-old toddler was playing with a toy dumptruck and pebbles around a palm plant in a large pot. Wana was trimming some shrubs and plant stems, the maid was watering the other plants.
     “Tagpasin kaya natin ang damo rito, Ate.” The maid called Joanna Ate even if she looked a year older than the latter. She was pointing her finger at a part of the garden where an island of grass was already a bit tall.
     Joanna was happy in her garden. So was the housemaid with her Ate.
     “Hindi na kailangang putulin diyan,” she said. “Alam mo, Sienna, ang damo halaman din iyan. Hindi sa bawat makakita ka ng damo gusto mo agad tanggalin, o di kaya putulin. Kung di makakaapekto sa ibang mga halaman, okay lang ang mga iyan. Puro pangdekorasyon lang naman ‘tong mga ‘to e, di ba? Wala naman prutas dito, di ba?” They laughed together. “Ibig sabihin, pati damo puwedeng gawing pangdekorasyon, ililimit mo nga lang sa isang parte. Maganda rin naman tingnan ang damo, di ba? Importante, alam mo kung sa’n mo patutubuin ang damo, saan hindi. Di ba?”
     “Opo, Ate. E, maganda sana kung Bermuda grass. Pero, yung masamang damo tulad niyan, Ate?”
     Again, they laughed together.
     “Aba, ito masamang damo. Pero maaaring gumanda ang tinatawag nating masamang damo kung nagagamit natin sa ating hardin, di ba? Dito sa sandy part, ayan.”
     Joanna extended her sermon as she worked with trowels and clippers, as Sienna kept on saying “oho” in agreement:
     “Parang tao yan e. Ang mga bahay-mahirap ba dapat itago sa likod ng isang malaking fence o di kaya tagpasin? Hindi, di ba? Merong makikitang ganda sa mga bahay-mahirap. Oo nga, tinuturing ng maraming pulitiko na nagpapapangit sa bayan ang mga bahay-mahirap. Pero kung susuriin nga, ang daming bahay mayaman na ang babaduy ng disenyo.”
     “Oo nga, Ate.”
     They chuckled in amusement at the thought.
     “Ewan ko ba sa ibang mayayaman, nakakalimutan nang kumain ng bananacue at gusto ang bahay nila mukhang Amerikano.”
     Sienna made a face in agreement.
     “Iba kasi ang isip ng mayayaman, Ate e,” Sienna said. “Kayo nga kayo, iba kayo ni kuya. Isipin niyo itong lumang bahay pa ang biili niyo, samantalang puwede naman kayong nagpagawa ng kongkreto bahay.”
     “Hindi kasi kami galling sa mayamang pamilya, Sienna, alam mo naman yan. Bagong yaman lang kami.”
     They both giggled.
     “Alam mo, tama ka,” Joanna said, “ang karamihan dyan, isip aircon.”
     They laughed loudly, with the knowledge that the Roxases’ house didn’t have a single aircon’d room, with the bedroom the only room with screened doors and windows.
     The whole facade and gate of the house seemed to likewise enjoy the moment as they talked and trimmed and plowed and watered the shrubs and the orchids and the flowering ones, happy were they as the guarded birds and flimsy butterflies and triumphant leaves and the light through the leaves that made shadows on the sandy soil and the colors were happy, and the laughter in Joanna’s and Sienna’s conversation pummeled the walls and the pebbles free from their peace.
     In front of the house outside of the fence the invisible old man Vicente talked again to the invisible camera, continuing to talk as a tricycle or a bicycle went through his body. The gate was open. He was saying:
     “Itong aking si Joanna, nakuntento na lamang sa pag-aalaga ng bahay at bata. Di nga ba’t tinuruan ko siyang humawak ng kamera noong high school pa lang siya, dahil nga gusto ring maging direktor ng mga sine tulad ko? Di ba? Tsk, tsk, tsk. Sayang. Mas minarapat niyang ialay ang kanyang buhay sa ganitong buhay kesa sa sining.” He paused. “Subalit, baka naman hindi sayang dahil . . . kung di man nasa likod ng kamera ang mga mata niya, nakakatulong naman ang mga ito sa mga obra maestra ng asawa niya paminsan-minsan, di ba? So, may art pa rin sa kanyang buhay.” He smiled. “Kaya okay lang siguro. Kung sabagay, may kasama siya sa gardening art niya: itong si Sienna. At kung sabagay, sino nga ba naman ang nanonood ng mga short films niya noon? Well, mga estudyante, at pagka-graduate ng mga yun iba na ang tatangkilikin na mga pelikula at artista. Puro Amerikano na, wala na kasing nirerequire na panoorin.” He sighed. “Kaya, okay na rin siguro ‘tong ginawa niya. May audience na totoo, kahit isa o dalawa lang.” He smiled.
     The old man Vicente started to go back into the yard past the open house gate, a bird flying through his chest. The cameragirl said, “Oops, Pa, me tae ng aso.”
     “Sus, ano ba’ng ginagawa ng mayor sa bayan na ‘to? Pati aso sa daan, di kayang paalisin.”
     Now, back inside the yard, Vicente sat on a step of the front stairs that led up to the porch. “Mahal ‘tong bahay na ito, alam niyo ba. Binili nilang mag-asawa mula sa isang matanda na nasa Hawaii na ngayon kasama ng kanyang anak na nurse. Si Fidel ang unang nakakita ng bahay na ito. Ganda, ano. Tiyak magugustuhan ‘to ng kapatid ni Fidel na isa nang sikat na arkitekto.”

@ @ @

As we said, Fidel’s portraits were all of fisherfolk looking over their shoulders. Or otherwise they were profile portraits. Or mere heads with their back to the viewer, foregrounding a seascape or beachscape.
     Vicente was all over the house’s living room and dining hall, looking at the portraits. One had two coconut tree trunks looking like Greek columns in a classical painting. Another had a fisherman at the center of the painting standing on his boat looking out to a dark beach, waving his hand to dark faces on this beach, one child’s shadow profile on the beach waving back. The star of the painting was the orchestra of palm tree leaves in the background profiled against a dark orange sky.
     “Mga portrait ng mga mangingisda,” Vicente said to the cam-girl’s camera, “na parang ayaw humarap. Tumitingin sa kaliwa o sa kanan, di kaya nakatalikod. Ito ang style ni Fidel Roxas. Nagpapahiwatig ng kanyang pagiging malapit sa mga mandaragat at nagpapahiwatig din ng kanyang paglayo sa mga ito. Alam kaya ito ng kanyang mga taga-hangang mga mayayaman?”
     Joanna was suddenly in the living room beside Vicente, going through Vicente’s body as she called to Sienna, “Sienna, palitan mo na nga itong mga paintings ng kuya mo rito. Itong mga ito sa wall na ito, palitan mo ng mga green na paintings dun sa kuwarto ni Pablo.”
     Fidel passed them on his way to the kitchen ref to get a can of beer, saying, “palitan mo yung iba diyan ng gawa ng mga kaibigan ko.”
     “Huwag na, luv, gusto ko lahat sa iyo. At least sa wall na ‘to.”
     Fidel came out of the kitchen with the can of beer, shaking his head and passing Joanna as she continued to take down the paintings to be replaced.



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