Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fidel's March: A Screenplay of a Novel (Chapter 04)



YOU probably noticed the repetition: attractive Joanna and a younger comely cameragirl who’s Joanna’s spitting image; good-looking Fidel, even; pretty town; nice electronic music; fine violin music; beautiful house; and so on. What can I say?

     Have I introduced myself? Only now? All right, I will.
     I am Vicente. Vicente Apostol. And if you noticed, my prose is quite sparse, hahaha, yes sparse, only a month ago I didn’t know what that word meant until my co-writer and editor took the word from somewhere up his sleeve. My prose is sparse … because I am not a writer. I am a screenwriter. No, I was a screenwriter and later cinema director. I’m better standing behind the lens than sitting behind the pen, so to speak. So, what can I say? If I think something is beautiful, what word can I use? I’ll just say it’s pretty, or it’s great-looking, or it’s just so goddam beautiful. Other times, I’d allow my co-writer and editor to come up with a better word on my behalf, it doesn’t matter if suddenly the writing didn’t sound like it was from the same author.
     I am telling you this story in a book because I’ve lost my camera. I am telling you this story in a book because I cannot anymore be behind the camera. How should I put it, though I’m not exactly telling you whispers from the beyond, I am delivering fragments of what shall soon unfold as a complete story “from yonder.” From yonder, that’s what I’d call it.
     But don’t get me wrong. I am not in prison. I am here. With you.
     As you read, I inhabit the story. And even as I tell the story, I read with you, because that is how I am and how I’ll always be. I am very much interested in my audience, so much so that even when I’m abroad, I am there with them to whom I tell my story at that very moment I’m sitting with my co-writer and editor, sparse as a spare tire, the moment at which I’m writing is the same moment at which you are reading. I may be away but I will always be here. With you.

@ @ @

Today I am shooting again. Or, rather, my co-writer and editor, who happens to be my son, shall here appear as my camera assistant, who happens to be my daughter. My other daughter. She, too, is from yonder. But she’s here. With you.
     But this is not about her, not anymore. She’s gone. I wish I could bring her back but she’s gone. So I’ll tell the story of Joanna.
     Sure, this story is about Fidel too but Fidel is Joanna in so far as he inhabits her world, and only by telling his story can I tell Joanna’s story.
     But don’t get me wrong. This is not much of a story, really. I won’t be bringing you to places as far as the Sierra Madre could stretch to and reach, that is so boring to me, really. I will be bringing you here, instead. Here, merely. In short, if you’re looking for an "action" sort of story you better get out now. I may be who I am, but my story will rest from all that action. I will see you at the table.

@ @ @

That is Joanna at the dining room table, and that is Fidel. Only a chapter ago they were having supper. That was yesterday. Tonight, after supper, they’re drinking.
     I am inclined to talk to the camera again, but what the hell, I am talking to the page now, where you are. I am talking to you, my camera. You are my camera and I want you to tell my story with me, I want you to walk around with me, you are my co-writer and editor son, you are my cameragirl daughter.

@ @ @

That is my daughter Joanna at the table, and that is Fidel her husband. I am here though I am from yonder. I miss Joanna, my daughter. I want to hug her tight. I want to tell her I’m so sorry. I want to cry on her shoulder, but I cannot do that. To do that is to stop telling her story, and to stop telling her story is to stop loving her.
     I must tell Fidel’s story because it is her story, and it is my story, and it is our story. But it all happens in a house, around a house, because if I take you from one end of the Sierra Madre to the other end that would bore me, and when that happens I cannot tell you the story. You must bear with me, it is here—in Joanna’s garden and backyard pond—where all the action is, in her words, in her smile, in this pretty town with the pretty butterflies among the pretty plants in her garden, swaying to Fidel’s beautiful fine nice music accompanying his beautiful fine nice painting for Mrs. Lanuza’s fine nice gallery.

@ @ @

March 2. The couple was at the dinner table—again—that night, wearing different clothes of course, the plates telling us they’d just finished eating supper. Pablo was watching cable TV cartoons on the living room TV, Fidel and Wana having what looked like Northern Leyte bahalina tuba served in wineglasses.
     The coconut tree sap is not allowed to ferment to become vinegar but placed in a large cask filled to the brim and covered tightly and kept up to the brim every week and covered tightly lest air at the top of the bottle turn it sour. With a red bark that helps flavor the aging as well as absorb any sourness, it slowly turns to wine. Some say this is too roughneck to occupy a wineglass. They say it’s so simple it lacks glamor. Well, I am not a writer with fancy adjectives. I say, as long as the bottle echoes like a tiny bell when you touch it lightly with a coin, that to me is a fine wine aged almost a year to perfection. That to me is a movie with a good shot and great reflective lighting and fabulous sound. That to me is a pretty, nice, beautiful, good-looking, fine movie. I don’t care what your high art says. I am a movie maker, I am not a decorator.

@ @ @

Every now and then Pablo butted in on Fidel and Joanna’s conversation, his kiddie pronouncements happily answered by both Fidel and Wana.
     “O, tingnan mo nga naman yan,” said Fidel to Joanna. “Noon kung umiinom kami ng tuba ng mga kaibigan ko sa Tacloban, o noong tayong dalawa sa amin, sa bote lang ng mayonnaise, di ba?”
She laughed.
     “Ngayon, tingnan mo yan ha, sa wineglasses pa!”
     The couple laughed.
     “Ikaw talaga, paulit-ulit mong sinasabi yan. Oo na. Ano pa ba ang gusto mong malaman?”
     There was a pause. There was a change of mood. Fidel suddenly turned quite serious.
     “Wana, may sasabihin ako sa ‘yo, e,” he said.
     Joanna frowned at this kind of weird prologue.
     “Sa tingin mo ba maligaya tayo sa ginagawa natin?”
     Joanna was speechless, totally unsure about what to say. She had to wait. Was this a prologue to another fight? Or was this a prologue to another fun night?
     “Ano’ng ibig mong sabihin, ‘Del?” she almost whispered, as she couldn’t wait. “Of course we’re happy. Ano bang klaseng tanong yan? Bakit, ano bang ayaw mo sa nakamit natin? Di ba ginusto mo ‘tong lahat, itong bahay—”
     “Alam mo, Joanne, . . . parang . . . pakiramdam ko parang nakukulong ako sa ginagawa ko e.”
     Joanna listened intently, a little nervous, unsure of what her husband was trying to say. Should she start rebelling from this new verbal puzzle?
     “I mean,” Fidel went on, “it’s not because Mrs. Lanuza doesn’t allow me to do new things, it’s not about that. . . . Bakit ba tuwang-tuwa ang mga collectors sa mga ganito?”
     Fidel gestured towards two of his paintings on a wall.
     “Oo, inaamin ko, ako rin tuwang-tuwa nung una. Pero hindi ba ako puwedeng lumihis, kahit konti? Alam mo, gusto ko namang gumawa ng ibang uri ng painting, Joanne, mga photorealist landscapes, halimbawa! O mga abstract seascapes! Hindi ba puwede? Bakit . . . bakit ang isang Gerhard Richter ng Germany, ginagawa yon! May tatlong thesis sa career ko, di ko ba puwedeng gawin yon? Hindi ba natin puwedeng gawin dito?”
     “E, Fidel, sino ba’ng pumipigil sa ‘yo? May sinabi ba si Mrs. Lanuza?”
     “Oh. Well, . . . of course, alam ko, advise lang naman sa ‘kin ni Mrs. Lanuza yan. Huwag daw, sabi niya, at baka raw mawala ang following ko, ang mga fans ko. Bago lang daw akong pinagkaguluhan, kelangan daw panindigan ko muna ang style ko ngayon, paramihin ko raw muna ang pera ko sa style na ‘to bago ako gumawa ng mga pagbabago.” He sighed. “Ewan ko nga ba. Hindi naman ako pinipilit, kaya lang . . . parang naniniwala na rin ako e. At yun ang nakakainis. Lahat kasi parang may marketing e. Hayop. At kung wala ka namang marketing, wala kang makakamit na posisyon sa merkado, ikanga, wala kang image. Putragis.” He laughed, nervously. “Ganun nga yata kahit saan.” He looked at Joanna. “Mga direktor ng pelikula, ganun din, kahit iba-iba ang pelikula nila, hinahanapan sila ng kanilang mga posisyon o identity, hinahanapan ng relationship ang magkakaiba nilang mga gawa. Ang isang direktor, taga-gawa raw ng mga sine tungkol sa yaman at poder at tsaka survival ng indibidwal sa loob ng mga tradisyon na nakapalibot sa kanya. Maging isang taxi driver na Vietnam veteran man ang isa mong karakter at bilyonaryong negosyante ang isa, naroon sila nakapaloob sa iisang imahe mo, let’s say bilang isang director ng mga pelikula tungkol sa marahas na mundo at marahas na pag-iisip ng mga hero. Ewan ko ba. Lahat yata ng artist nakakulong. At least ang mga direktor puwedeng lumihis, PR na lang ang bahalang magsabing di sila lumihis, nag-expand lang. Putragis yan.”
     After lecturing towards the dinner table instead of towards Joanna, gesturing like an Italian with his wine, Fidel was now pensive. Then he smiled. Joanna was silent.
     “Masuwerte nga ang mga gumagawa ng sine, tulad ng Tatay mo. Puwede silang lumihis, meron silang mga PR people na kagabay,” he continued. “E, kaming mga pintor … sa ibang bansa siguro. Pero dito …”
     “Fidel, ano bang pinoproblema mo? Gusto mong lumihis sa ginagawa mo ngayon totally o gusto mong lumihis pero ang sinasabi mo dapat me ‘PR people’ na magsasabi sa press na di ka naman lumihis, yun pa rin ang mga concerns mo? Alin ba?”
     “Yun na nga, Joanna, e.”
     “Yun na nga? Yun na nga? Yun na nga, ano?”
     Fidel laughed.
     “Fidel, yun na nga. Yun na nga, yun na nga, yun na nga. Fidel, hindi kita maintindihan.”
     “Precisely. Kahit ako, hindi ko maintindihan ang sarili ko. Ano ba talaga ang concerns ko, Joanna?”

@ @ @

Joanna was silent, playing with some cheese and cake with her fork.
     “Ano bang sabi ni Mrs. Lanuza?” she asked in a low voice.
     Fidel smiled at the table.
     “Kelangan pare-pareho raw ang gawa, paulit-ulit ganun, at least for now. Kung gagawa kami ng magkakaibang serye, walang maghahanap para sa amin ng pagkakaparepareho nito dahil walang sapat na suporta ang press sa mga galleries.”
     “Fidel,” said Joanna, taking her time, “Fidel, ganyan talaga e. Sa lahat ng fields may hinihinging konting consistency yan e. Kahit karpintero, minsan di pinagkakatiwalaan bilang mason, di ba, kahit maaaring magaling siyang magmason. Di ba yun ang sabi ng kapatid mong arkitekto? At alam mo naman yan e, lahat ng arts ay industriya, lahat ng produkto dapat may marketing. Nasa sa ‘yo na yon kung gusto mong ikaw mismo ang mag-market sa sarili mo, kung wala kang tiwala sa mga taong nagmamarket sa yo. Kasi, siyempre, yang magagaling sa marketing na mga yan, nagkakamali rin ang mga yan e. Sino ba ang talagang nakakaalam kung ano ang gusto ng merkado, ng gusto ng tao?”
     Joanna was smiling, trying to lure Fidel back into a light if not bright mood, holding his finger curled around the stem of his wineglass. She placed her hand on his arm.
     “Kaya, sige na,” she said, chuckling, “sige na, Fidel, smile naman diyan o. Huwag mo nang isipin yan.”
     “Ewan ko nga ba, Joanne. Sa palagay ko may mga tao rin namang libreng gumawa ng gusto nila kahit kelan. Yung mga walang nagdidiktang tradisyon.”
     “Lahat ng art, Fidel, may tradisyon, nasa loob sila ng tradisyon. Ang rak en rol, may tradisyon. Oo nga, may mga rebolusyon pero sa loob pa rin ng tradisyon. Lahat ng skills, lahat ng career, lahat ng trabaho, may tradisyon. Fidel, magpasalamat na lang tayo na masuwerte ka at binigyan ka ng oportunidad na mag-pinta. Ang ibang kabataan diyan, gustong magpinta pero kelangang tumulong sa kanilang Tatay, sa kanilang kinagisnang hanapbuhay, magbantay ng tindahan, o di kaya mangisda o magsaka. Sa Africa nga, …”
     He looked at her, and laughed a low laugh. She laughed, happy to make him laugh.
     “Ang corny mo, alam mo ba yon? Joke ko yun a,” he said, placing hair on her face that he could hold to rest behind her ear.
     Joanna stroked back Fidel’s hair.
     “Sige na, huwag ka nang malungkot. Mahal naman kita e.”
     Fidel smiled.
     “E, Wana, wala namang kuntentong tao, e. Lahat naghahanap pa rin ng bago, di ba? May risk nga lang ‘pag gagawa ka ng kahit maliit na rebolusyon. Tingnan mo, halimbawa, ang mga bumibili ng CD. Ang bumibili ng CD hindi makuntento sa isang music artist lamang, gusto ng iba-ibang artists sa kanilang collection. Pero collector yun. Ang artist, on the other hand, at least sa ating panahon, hindi puwedeng lumihis sa paggawa ng mga kanta tungkol sa giyera at gumawa naman ng mga bagong kanta tungkol sa … sa …”—he pointed to a dish on the table—“sa pansit, halimbawa. Kelangan ba ang artist kuntento na lang sa image na binigay sa kanya? Kung gagawa siya ng bago, dapat sa loob pa rin ng image niya sa media?”
     Joanna poured tuba into Fidel’s wineglass, a little into hers.
     “O, sige, tama na yan, inumin mo na yan, last na yan. Sienna! Iligpit mo na nga ito, please.”
     The maid came into the dining area to clean up the table.
     “Kumain ka na ba, Sienna?” asked Fidel.
     “Opo, Kuya.”
     Sienna went back into the kitchen.
     Joanna turned serious. She held Fidel’s hand again.
     “Fidel, ito ang sasabihin ko sa ‘yo ha. . . . Anu man ang gusto mong gawin sa painting mo, go for it. Yumaman ka, tayo, dahil sa painting mo; at hindi mo inisip ang pera noon. Hindi mo na ako kelangan pang kausapin tungkol diyan. Alam mo, kahit pa man natutuwa ako na kinu-consult mo ako about your paintings paminsan-minsan, natutuwa rin ako actually na ikaw ang nagdidisisyon sa bandang huli, na hindi mo ako pinakikinggan sa ano man ang sabihin ko. Dahil ikaw ang nakakaalam kung ano ang gagawin mo at iyon ay labas sa opinyon ng sinuman. Kaya nga ako na-in love sa yo e, wala kang pakialam sa mundo.”
     She laughed, slapping his right arm. He laughed a bit too.
     “God,” she said. “lasing na yata ako a, ayoko na.”
     She pushed her own last glass to the center of the table.
     Fidel smiled at Joanna. Then he stared at the table again, staring blankly at something, his face turning sad again.
     Pablo was now asleep on the sofa, like the previous night, the TV still on. A character in the movie on the TV rang a doorbell, jolting Fidel from his trance. He sighed.
     “Ikaw, Joan. What do you think? Ano ba talaga ang concerns ko, from your point of view?”
     “A, ayoko na, please,” she said, standing up to help Sienna clean the table.
     Fidel laughed, then combed his hair with his two hands. Then he stopped.
     “A, alam ko na,” he said, pointing at Joan walking from the kitchen. “Movement. Yun ang concern ko, movement! Movement ng dagat. Movement ng sand. Movement ng T-shirt ng mangingsda. Yun!”
     “Sigurado ka ba dyan?” Joanna called from the kitchen, but started singing before Fidel could answer. Then she added, “Alam mo, tama ka, meron din siguro ibang artist na namomroblema tulad ng mga pinoproblema mo. Pero ito ang tanong ko, ha: ba’t niyo pa ba poproblemahin iyon? Dapat maging masaya kayo habang masaya ang buhay artist niyo. Tapos, e di mag-retire kayo.”

@ @ @

March 3. Breakfast table.
     Fidel was now at the breakfast table, with all the eggs and longaniza sausages and coffee. The gate bell rang a second time.
     The courier was calling, “Roxas!”
     Sienna ran to get the mail the courier already tucked between the gate’s steel curves as he took out his logbook for Sienna to sign.      Behind the courier across the street some men sat on the pavement and curb with cockfighting roosters, beside the banana-cue stall now frying maruya, banana slices made to stick together with starch or flour, deep-fry cooked and afterwards laden with sugar syrup and sugar crystals.
     These men often gather here beside the banana-cue stall at breakfast time not because they love to have bananacue or maruya for breakfast but because 9 a.m. to them is not breakfast, 9 a.m. to them is recess from their work which might have started as early as 5 a.m. Work could be simple housework or going to the harbor to meet the fishing boats or work from the nearby furniture shop or nearby jeepney painting shop.
     One of the men asked his compadre, “Ano ba’ng trabaho niyang nakatira diyan, pare?”
     “Pintor yan, pare. Sikat yan, e.”
     “Nasa dyaryo yan. Nakita ko picture niyan, sa malaking dyaryo,” said the bananacue vendor. “Minsan nandun ako kina Engineer Duarte, nakita ko sa diyaryo, nandun yan.”
     “Ilang taon na ba iyang mag-asawang yan dito?”
     “Mag-iisang taon na yan dito.”
     “Hanggang ngayon di pa nakikipaghalubilo sa mga kapitbahay?”
     “Makipaghalubilo? Kanino, sa iyo? E, di ka naman naliligo e.”
     “Gago.”
     “Mabait yan, si kuya. Mahiyain lang yan.”
     “Yang lalaki nagpupunta yan kina Mang Kadyo, nagpapamasahe yata.”
     The sun’s morning rays played with the leaves to dance a shadow dance on the pavement as smoke from some of the houses gave the weekend morning a mixed aroma of rice cooking, rice cake steaming, garlic rice frying, coffee boiling, anchovies heating, and so on, while birds from the trees looked for their worms.

@ @ @

“O? Sikat pala yan? Ba’t di ko kilala?”
     Laughter.
     “E, wala naman tayong alam tungkol diyan, pare, e. Tsaka, ang mamahal ng benta ng mga yan. Pangmayaman lang yan.”
     “E, ba’t ako, pintor din naman ako a. Ba’t di ako sikat? Ba’t di ako mayaman?”
     Giggles.
     “Bahay naman ang pinipinturahan mo e. Tsaka, pa’no ka ba naman yayaman advance ka nang advance kay engineer?”
     Laughter.
     A jeepney came and stopped by the bananacue stall.
     “Kape tsaka maruya,” the jeepney driver said.
     “E, pare, ako pintor din. Jeepney nga lang pinipintahan ko,” said another man with a rooster.
     The jeepney driver heard their conversation and said to the jeepney painter, “uy, pare, galing ng ginawa mo sa jeepney ko ha. Daming natutuwa e.” The driver was referring of course to his jeepney’s ceiling with a Michelangelo painting.
     “Nakakita na ako ng painting niyan,” said someone who just arrived at the bananacue stall. “Ganda. Ganda ng kulay, galing ng kamay pati, pare. Minsan naglinis ako ng garden diyan e, sa likod pare, daming ginagawa nyan, sabay-sabay. Bilib ako.”
     “Talaga ha.”
     . . . Fidel walked to the porch with his coffee mug. The men with the roosters looked at him while the gardener greeted him.
     “Good morning po, sir,” the gardener called.
     Fidel greeted the gardener with a smile and a nod and a raised left hand. He sat on a porch couch to read his magazines and finish his coffee. But Sienna gave him the mail tucked to the gate curves.
     He opened the envelope, read the mail.
     The men started to go their separate ways as the sun grew hotter.
     “Wana! Joanne! Joanna!” Fidel called inside.
     A minute later, Joanna appeared at the house’s main door. She went to Fidel’s side and looked at the letter with him.
     “Card sa ‘tin from UP Tacloban. Yan, tuloy na ang film festival para sa Tatay mo. March 15! May invite na.”
     “Talaga, ha.” Joanna was smiling. "Wow, naman, naka-courier pa, ang daming pera. Hindi na lang inemail e, ano."
     Fidel lazily walked towards the living room, looking for another art magazine issue. Then he sat on the living room sofa with a new magazine.
     “Magtatalumpati ka raw. Wow,” he said.
     Joanna, still reading the letter, added, “at ikaw hinihingan ng design for the stage? Diyosko naman. . . . O, e, para naman pala sa benefit ng Waray Arts Foundation ‘to e, mga fans mo lang pala makikinabang e.”
     She sat beside Fidel, saying, “akala ko nga di na ‘to matutuloy e.”
     Fidel sighed, then smiled, glancing at her for a second.
     “Si Pablo?” he asked.
     “Tulog,” Wana said, standing up to go to the porch again to look at one of the ferns on the porch rails. “Nakalimutan ko yatang diligin ‘tong isang ‘to a. Nalalanta na a.”
     Fidel stood up. “Halika, punta tayo ng Tacloban, grocery tayo.”
     Joanne looked at him, a bit surprised. “O sige, paggising ni Pablo. Mauna ka nang maligo.”

@ @ @

“Walang tae ng aso, kuya. Sige po, diretso po, kuya,” said Sienna outside the gate.
     Fidel’s new Ford SUV came out of the gate, going to the left of the house. Pablo was alone in the rear seat of the truck, but he was dangerously standing behind the gap between the two front seats. Fidel still had his window down; he said greetings and other friendly words to neighbors he had come to know, the gardener, the storeowner he once bought kerosene from (he once needed kerosene to clean old gesso brushes with). The neighbors were talking near the Roxas’s gate. One of the neighbors was an old woman in a maroon dress mysteriously wearing sunglasses and following the car with her sunglasses’ stare.
     Ahead of the car was a dental clinic. A boy of about 14 was standing in front of it, looking at Fidel’s and Wana’s car. He ran inside the clinic. When he came out again, the Roxas’ truck was now near the front of the clinic and he waved to Fidel to stop. Fidel stepped on the breaks.
     “Kuya Fidel, nakalimutan ko nga palang ihatid sa inyo kanina, pinabibigay sa iyo ng pasyente ng Papa ko kaninang umaga. Nakalimutan ko kasi e,” the boy said.
     The boy handed a note to Fidel.
     “Uy, thank you ha, Carlos. Sinong pasyente?”
     “Nakalimutan ko ho pangalan e, kaibigan niyo raw.”
     “Thank you ha, bait mo talaga. Sige, pare,” said Fidel, holding on to the note with his left hand on the steering wheel, waving to Carlos with his right hand.
     The car moved on, moving slowly in the narrow street with kids playing tug of war on it as Fidel held on to the three-folded note.
     The car turned a corner and Fidel—slowly steering the car on the quiet, empty, and narrow street—unfolded the note and began to read it. Suddenly, he swerved the car to the side of the road, abruptly stopping, surprising Joanna.
     A little puzzled, he said, in a near-whisper, “Si Kuya Rico? Nandito kaninang umaga?”
     He laughed, shaking his head.
     Not giving the note to Joanna and still smiling and frowning at it, Fidel said, “Nagpa-prophylaxis ng ngipin ke Dr. Santos kanina?”
     He laughed. He turned to Joanna, giving her the note, saying, “Pupunta raw
sana ng bahay, kaso biglang nakita raw niya itong dental clinic, former classmate pala niya si duktor sa UP Tacloban, kaya yun, nagpaprophylaxis. Pagkatapos, hayun, biglang may tawag sa kanya.”
     Joanna finished reading the note. Pablo was eager for the car to move on, jumping up and down. Fidel took back the note, reading it again, aloud this time, almost declaiming it:
     “Papunta sana ako sa inyo kanina, sosorpresahin sana kita,” he read, laughing, as Joanna grinned at him, “kaya lang nakita ko ‘tong clinic ng kaibigan ko, classmate ko sa UP Tacloban no’n. Nagpa-prophylaxis muna ako ng ngipin sa kanya.” Fidel laughed, happy to hear from his brother. “Tapos biglang may tawag sa ‘kin, kaya bukas na ako bibisita diyan sa inyo. May meeting ako ngayon sa Tacloban. Bukas na tayo magkita. —Kuya Rico.”
     Fidel was smiling and moved the car forward.
     “Buti na lang pala nag-decide tayong mag-grocery. Para makapagluto ako bukas,” said Joanna.
     “Oo nga,” said Fidel, still smiling.
     All this time Pablo had been butting in, and Fidel and Wana happily answered his queries about kids playing in the street, about the mountain above the town, about the trees on the side of the street, and so never-ending on.

@ @ @

The Roxas’s car was now on the San Juanico Bridge.
     When they were still in the middle part of the long bridge where the Leyte-ward leftward-then-rightward curves of the S-shaped bridge got them ready to climb the bump part of the bridge that allowed boats to pass beneath, Fidel was playing electronic dance music again on the car CD player. Nice music, thought Joanna, dancing a bit on her seat. The car clock said 10:00 AM. Pablo was about to fall asleep in the backseat and Joanna adjusted his seat, reaching out to hold him.
     A bit later they were entering Tacloban City.
     Fidel woke Joanna who was now in the backseat beside a sleeping Pablo. She had also fallen asleep.
     “Wana, Pablo, gising na kayo, Tacloban na tayo. Dito na tayo kumain sa McDonald’s.”

@ @ @

The couple, carrying bags of groceries, crossed a street towards their car parked beside a McDonald’s restaurant.
     Soon the car was back at the entrance to San Juanico Bridge on the Leyte side. In the middle part of the bridge, Pablo was shouting, calling boats below the bridge. Soon the Roxas’s car was exiting the bridge at the Samar island side.

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The grandfather’s clock in the dining area said 3:00 o’clock. The couple was having early afternoon snacks.
     As often, Pablo was all over the house with a toy car, moving the rubber tires on the dining and living area tables, on the armrest of a chair, on the side of a cabinet, and so on.
     Fidel stood up to play Mozart’s cantata exsultate, jubilate, K. 165 on the living room music player to create a celebratory mood. Sienna came in with a plate of pancakes and reached to put it on the dining area table center.
     The banana-cue stall’s radio started playing Gary Granada’s folk song about squatter houses, ruining the Mozart mood a bit, but since neither player was loud there was not much of a competition.
     “Dalubhasa’t propesor, lahat sila’y nagkasundo na ang tawag sa ganito ay bahay,” sang the Granada lyrics.



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