After eight online books of poems and an online book of stories written in English, I resolved in August 2009 to resume my online literary activity. And so I started this blogsite with new blogged poems, which was completed as the eponymously-titled collection here, "Perennial Measure." I then followed it up with weekly chapters for a new project, a blogged novel titled "Fidel's March". That's finished. I'm now here working on a collection of bilingual poems titled "Third Cup Na 'To".
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Fidel's March: A Screenplay of a Novel (Chapter 15, Final Chapter)
MARCH 5, late morning. Fidel is in his studio gathering all his works. He throws them out of his studio, down below his studio terrace.
Some people at the wake are troubled by the sounds they’re hearing. Joanna runs towards Fidel’s studio.
@ @ @
Fidel is burning his orange portraits at the edge of his backyard garden, there by the corner, by the back fence, specifically in the concrete pond that is now without water.
Joanna sits on a chair on her husband’s studio porch watching her husband, her face expressionless. Two visitors at the wake are now by the doorway to the porch, standing behind Joanna, also with expressionless faces. One of the visitors is the Board Member, Atty. Sevilla. They all look at Fidel busy burning his new paintings one by one; he is busy at this destruction absent any expression on his face.
@ @ @
On a Manila TV channel a newscaster reads this news:
“At sa larangan ng sining, limang pelikula ng yumaong batikang direktor na si Vicente Apostol ang ipinadala ng isang French company na may-ari ng rights sa nasabing mga pelikula. Ang mga pelikula ay ipinadala sa Philippine government at sa pangulo ng CulturalCenter of the Philippines. Maaalala na ang nasabing mga pelikula ni Vicente Apostol ay ipinagbawal ipalabas sa loob ng bansa ng dating Presidente Marcos at ang isa sa panahon ni Presidente Corazon Aquino, kung kaya’t ang rights for international distribution ng mga ito ay binili ng isang French producer. Ang mga ipinadalang pelikula sa Pilipinas ng French producer ay mga kopya lamang mula sa master copy ng mga ito. Ibinigay rin ng French producer sa pamahalaang Pilipinas ang rights for distribution ng mga pelikula sa loob ng Pilipinas.
“Ang labi ng yumaong si Vicente Apostol ay ngayo’y nakaburol sa bahay ng kanyang anak na si Joanna Apostol Roxas sa Soria, Samar.”
@ @ @
March 6. Vicente’s body is reduced to ashes at a Tacloban crematorium. Now Fidel is leading Joanna to their car.
@ @ @
On the road, Joanna asks Fidel: “sa’n tayo punta?”
“Ayoko munang umuwi. Gusto ko munang maglibot. Okay lang sa ‘yo?”
Joanna leans back on her seat, saying, “sure.”
They arrive at the McArthurPark. They walk toward the seaside, passing the statues of Gen. Douglas McArthur’s landing team. They both look out to sea.
“Kung narito si Pablo, magtatatakbo yun, diyan sa lawn,” says Joanna when she looks back at the park.
“Shh,” says Fidel, putting an arm around her.
They are silent for a while.
Still looking out to sea, Fidel asks behind the statues of McArthur and his team, “Joanna, ano ba ‘tong mga dumating sa ating buhay? Nawala sa akin ang mga gusto kong makamit, at nawala rin sa atin ang mga bagay na mayroon tayo, at ngayon naman ang isang bagay na nawala na sa iyo at nagbalik, binawi uli, at binawi na ng tuluyan.”
She hugs him tighter. Joanna silently cries while Fidel simply narrows his eyes, both of them looking out to the Pacific Ocean.
Later, they are sitting facing McArthur’s and President Osmena’s statues, still watching the sea behind the statues. Then suddenly Fidel gets up, Rowena sadly looking at him.
“Sandali lang ha, dito ka lang, may kukunin lang ako sa kotse.”
Then he runs.
When he gets back he has in his hands a large sketch pad, a box of pastels, and a camera.
Fidel starts to draw a bunch of fish, fish that appear to be in large metal basins. When he finishes his drawing he lets Joanna stand in front of McArthur’s statue with the drawing and takes a picture of the drawing. He draws a trawler. Takes a picture of it held by Joanna standing in front of McArthur. Draws a bomb explosion. Takes a picture of that. Draws dynamites. Takes a picture. Draws a large mosquito. Takes the picture with a crying Joanna. And so on and so forth.
His memory rewinds to what Rowena said that night before she cried in front of the lawyer: “Ganun pala ang pulitika ng tao, hindi lang sa mga bagay na gusto niyang makamit, nasa mga bagay din na ayaw niyang mawala. Kahit ang mga bagay na yun ay mga alaala na lamang.”
@ @ @
March 7. In the Roxases’ living room, Joanna kneels in front of the house altar, praying the rosary. It is about 10:00 a.m. according to the grandfather clock.
Fidel is on a bamboo scaffolding in front of his house, painting the front walls of the house with pictures of fishes in metal basins. Also a large drawing of dynamites, enclosed in a red circle but without a diagonal red stripe. Some dynamites are in blue circles. Some in orange circles. He is painting using enamels in cans. People are gathered outside watching Fidel.
One of those watching is Mang Juaning, the manghihilot. He calls out to Fidel: “Fidel, kelangan mo ba ng tulong diyan?”
Fidel looks down at Mang Juaning.
“Salamat ho, kaya ko ho ‘to,” says Fidel.
One of those who had been saying bad things about Fidel from the bananacue stall is also there. He extracts phlegm from his throat and spits it out, and then calls towards Fidel:
“Mang Fidel, baka ho gusto niyo ng tulong ko diyan, marunong ho akong maghalo ng ganyang pintura, pintor ho ako ng bahay.”
Fidel looks at him.
@ @ @
April. The front of the house is done, filled with drawings of fishes and dynamites in circles. Across the house, Fidel and his new assistant, the phlegm-spitter, are at work on another stall beside the existing bananacue stall. The new one is selling fishballs, and Fidel and his assistant are painting fishes in bowls that look like basketballs split in half. The stall’s called “Gary’s Fishballs”.
Soon a crowd of community people is posing in front of the Roxas house as Joanna happily takes a picture of the house front, and then in front of the fishballs stall, and then in many parts of town where Fidel has painted pictures of fishes in basins, along with pictures of dynamites each inside a red or blue or purple or orange circle with no diagonal stripe on any of these circles.
@ @ @
At the San Juanico Bridge, canvases of Fidel’s fishes and no-to-dynamites logos are tied to the bridge’s rails every 100 meters. Fidel had a hard time getting the permit for this but he had the backing of the mayor, now friendly towards Fidel for unknown reasons.
The Roxases’ Toyota car drives by the railings as Joanna shoots the canvases with her digital video camera.
@ @ @
The Roxases arrive at an old house in Tacloban. On the gate, a wrought-iron lettering fancily spells “Apostol Residence” in an art-deco fashion. A caretaker lady comes down from the house.
“Ma’am,” the caretaker says, “ano po, maglilipat na ba tayo?”
“Manang,” Joanna says, smiling, holding her arm, “kumusta? Alam mo, napag-isip-isip ko kasi, hindi na lang kami lilipat dito, do’n na lang kami sa Soria. Kaya pasensiya na at nag-impake kayo, ha.”
“A, wala ho iyon, ma’am.”
“Alam mo kasi,” Joanna continues, as if to further explain, “naisip ko hindi na importante kung saan tayo nakatira, manang, e. Importante lang po alam natin ang mga lugar na malapit sa puso natin, saan man tayo naroon o naligaw. Alam mo kasi, ngayon ko lang naisip, ang buhay ng tao hindi dapat puro paghahanap ng bago. May saysay din ang pagtingin sa luma at nakaraan.”
“Totoo po yan, ma’am,” the lady says. “Kung saan ba ang makabubuti, e. At kung saan ka komportable, ganun.”
Joanna doesn’t know if Manang understood what she’s been saying. She lets go of her arm and says:
“Sige, pasensiya ka na, ha. Talagang gusto kong sabihin sa iyo nang personal, para di ka magalit sa akin at nagbago ako ng isip.”
“Naku naman, ma’am, bakit ako magagalit sa iyo? Ang bait-bait niyo po, napakapangit ng ugali ng taong magagalit sa iyo, ma’am,” Manang says, laughing.
“Sige po, salamat, mag-go-grocery pa kami, e,” says Joanna, also laughing a bit, but as she walks to the car adds, “kumusta naman mga anak mo?”
“Aba, okey naman po.”
Fidel waves to Manang from the driver’s seat.
@ @ @
Fidel takes a picture of real fish vendors who walk around town with fishes in baskets. They’re sitting in front of the Apostol residence, with Joanna looking down from one of the house’s windows.
@ @ @
Now Joanna is moving around a mini-mausoleum (with angel sculptures) being built for Pablo in the Roxases’ backyard garden. She is shooting the men working on the mausoleum with her videocamera. Later, a fish vendor carrying two baskets of fish hanging from opposite ends of a pole that run across one of his shoulders enters tha gate and goes straight to the backyard, comes into the yard and asks the two men if they want to buy fresh fish for grilling. The men look inside the baskets. Joanna stops shooting and looks at the fish, too, wanting to buy.
@ @ @
July 4. It’s the date the United States granted the Philippines independence.
The CulturalCenter of the Philippines shimmers in the night.
Inside one of its galleries, a crowd is applauding. Fidel’s photographs of his installations and Joanna’s videos are on exhibit, and books containing the photographs titled “Fish Towns: Installations & Photographs by Fidel Roxas” and DVDs titled “Pablo’s Fishes by Joanna Apostol-Roxas” are all displayed on a table, obviously for sale.
From a platform, Fidel is speaking to the gathered crowd. He says:
“Ladies and gentlemen, alam po natin na tatatlo ang lebel ng paggawa ng painting. Naroon ang paghanda ng canvas para sa gagawing painting, kung saan papahiran natin ang canvas ng latex paint o gesso. Pagkatapos naroon ang painting proper, ang simula ng pagpinta hanggang matapos ang pinipinta, kung saan gamit ang oil paint o acrylic o anuman. Kung oil ang ginamit mo, pagkaraan ng isang taon na paghihintay naroon na ang ating paglagay ng varnish sa ibabaw ng painting, kung saan masasabi natin na tunay na tapos na nga ang painting. Subalit, ladies and gentlemen, merong mga lebel ng paggawa ng painting na wala sa pintura, na wala sa mga nakikita sa canvas, na wala sa mga nakikita sa painting. Ito po ang minithi kong ipakita sa mga bago kong gawa, sa mga instalasyon at larawan na kinunan ng kamera ng iyong lingkod at ng filmmaker na aking maybahay . . . at minadaling i-produce bilang framed photographs at libro at video CDs para sa arts festival na ito.
“Noong nakaraang Marso, po, nakita ko ang matagal ko nang hinahanap na pulitika sa sining na aking ginagalawan. Maaaring hindi ito ang pulitika ng sining na nakikita ng iba sa atin, ng mga kapwa ko artists, subalit ito po ang pulitika na tila ipinarating sa akin ng mga bagong pangyayari—kasama na po ang pagkamatay ng aking tatlong taong gulang na anak na si Pablo, ng pagkamatay ng aking father-in-law, ang kilalang direktor na si Vicente Apostol, na nagsimula rin sa pagtatanong ng aking kapatid na si Architect Federico Roxas noong Marso rin two years ago, mga tanong tungkol sa relasyon ko sa aking mga obra. . . . Wala po akong regrets sa aking mga dinaanan at iniwanang istilo, mga istilong maaari kong balikan sa mga darating na taon kung magiging makabuluhan uli sa akin, subalit sa aking palagay, napapanahon na po na tahakin ko ang mga pagbabago sa aking sining, matanggap man ito ng merkado o hindi. Ito po ang totoong ‘ako’ sa kasalukuyan. Ang mga obra ko noong mga nakaraang taon ay may totoong ‘ako’ rin, dahil ako’y naniniwala na may phases sa buhay ng isang tao, may Blue Pewriod, may Orange Period, at may kung anu-anong period. Hindi kop o maipapaliwanag nang husto ang mga gawa ko ngayon, hahayaan ko na lang po ang mga kritiko dahil doon po sila sumusweldo. . . . Kaya ito nap o ang period ng aking speech, maraming salamat.”
There is laughter and wide and loud applause among the cocktail crowd in the big CCP gallery.
@ @ @
Fidel and Joanna are in their cheap hotel room in Manila. Fidel calls for a bottle of wine from room service through the room’s wall phone.
After tipping the room service man, Fidel and Joanna turn off the TV and go over to the hotel room terrace with the wine.
But they are not very happy. Joanna says:
“Nami-miss ko si Pablo. Sana kasama natin siya rito.”
Joanna puts her head on Fidel’s shoulder. Fidel sighs. He hugs Joanna, they losten to the sounds of the city, and gradually Fidel quietly starts to cry, which makes Joanna cry too, as they watch together the light-polluted nightsky of the city.
Fidel remembers what he said at the McArthurPark in Leyte: “Ano ba itong mga nangyari sa atin?”
@ @ @
Fidel and Joanna get ready for bed inside their cheap hotel suite. Then Fidel notices that one of the small paintings on the other side of the room, of three people looking over their shoulder and walking towards a far sea, is a reproduction of one of his works.
He approaches the painting, saying, “Tingnan mo nga naman ang pagkakataon. Sa lahat ba naman ng hotel suite na ibibigay sa atin ng CCP, ito pang me ganito. Reproduction pa.”
Fidel and Joanna laugh.
“Public art na ba?” Joanna says.
“Yeah,” says Fidel, chuckling. “Tila pinapahiwatig na kelangang lingunin na natin ang lahat ng mga lumipas habang tuloy ang pag-iibayo ng ating mga panaginip tungo sa ating sariling kamatayan. Dito nagtatapos ang lahat ng pagkawala ng anumang maaaring mawala pa sa atin, Joanna.”
“Wala nang masama na dapat dumating pa, Fidel. Natapos na ang malagim na mga pagbabago,” says Joanna in reply.
Fidel goes to her, clutching her head. “Patawarin mo ako, ha.”
Joanna embraces him while wearing a soft smile.
@ @ @
The couple’s plane gets ready to land on Tacloban’s airport and the stewardess announces so.
Soon they’re at the airport terminal, exiting towards a group of men offering taxi service with their little jeepneys or AUVs. They go through this group and sees Federico who leads them to their car, the Roxases’ Toyota Corolla. Federico is wearing a T-shirt with Fidel’s fish design on it.
Two guys at the airport recognize Fidel (“pare, yun o, si Fidel Roxas”; “yun ba yun?”).
“Salamat kuya, ha,” Fidel says.
Federico says, laughing, “Wala yun, ano ka ba. I-drop niyo lang ako sa coffeeshop.”
Soon they are on the road, a billboard on the side of the road displaying Fidel’s fish-and-dynamites art. Some houses they pass have put up fishes-and-dynamites stickers.
“Uy, nga pala,” Federico says, “kelangan ko nang magpunta uli ng Thailand. Tapos na ang mahaba kong bakasyon. My congratulations sa inyo ha, and of course, . . . my prayers for Pablo’s soul, nagpamisa ako kanina.”
“Kuya, nga pala,” Joanna says, “ito ang monument namin ke Pablo, itong bago naming art ni Fidel. Salamat din sa iyo, ha. Kelangan pang mangyari ang lahat para makita namin ang aming mga tunay na sarili. Ang mga bagay na makapagpapasaya sa amin.”
“Maraming salamat, kuya,” says Fidel.
Federico doesn’t know what to say. Then he says, “walang anuman. Wala iyon. Actually, ako man may malaking napulot na aral. Nabago na rin ang political-art perspectives ko ng lahat ng nangyari.”
Then there is a pause.
“Sana nandito ka uli next year,” Fidel says, breaking the silence.
“Of course, of course. Una ko kayong pupuntahan.”
@ @ @
Fidel and Joanna are now alone in their car, on San Juanico Bridge. The car CD player plays Yano’s freedom song “Naroon” as Joanna adjusts her seat to lie down and look at the empty backseat. When their car exits the bridge, a sign that points “To Soria” has Fidel’s fish-and-dynamites art on or above it.
Another Yano song is playing on the car deck when they arrive on their street, passing by the dental clinic now sporting a billboard sign bearing the name of the clinic and a large drawing of a cartoonish boy with Fidel’s shiny fish art for teeth.
@ @ @
Joanna plays “Naroon” again on the CD player in the Roxas house’s living area where the Sienna reappears to hug Joanna and shake hands with Fidel. Fidel was carrying a rolled poster.
“Kumusta po kayo, ma’am, kuya,” says Sienna.
“Okay naman, Sienna. Salamat.”
“Ma’am, sir, ito po yung diniliver na mga plastic na isda, order nyo raw. Ito po, totoo po ang mga banyera. At tulad nang sabi mo sa phone, ma’am, ilagay ko sa isang banyera ang mga toy cars ni Pablo,” she says, smiling at the smiling couple.
“Ang ganda,” says Joanna, Fidel looking on at the metal drum basin.
“O, Sienna, pag-uwi mo mamaya dalhin mo rin ‘to. Para sa bahay niyo,” Fidel says, handing Sienna the poster.
@ @ @
Sienna puts up the poster of Fidel’s fish-and-dynamites art on a wall in her house beside the posters of Filipino actors and actresses and a large photo of Pablo.
@ @ @
Were this a movie we might imagine a black screen here. Then we can fade back in again.
@ @ @
“Hindi na mga ilaw o props o actors ang inaayos kundi mga damo at bulaklak.”
Vicente laughs, but also with a kind of sadness.
“Pero walang nasayang,” he says to his 17-year-old cameragirl’s camera as he approaches the Roxases’ front stairs.
“Naabot din ni Fidel at ni Joanna ang pulitika sa kanilang mga ginagawa. Kasi nga naman, hindi porke pulitikal ka tulad ni Federico ay may pulitika ka na. Iba ang pulitika sa pagiging pulitikal.”
@ @ @
Joanna, not the 17-year-old camera girl says, “is that a shot? Is that a wrap na?”
Fidel, in front of the Roxas gate, wearing the same clothes Vicente was wearing in the last scene, says, “that’s a wrap.”
People by the bananacue stall applaud, two kids mimicking Fidel with “datsarap”, “datsarap”, and our screen should here fade to black with Mozart’s cantata exsultate, jubilate, K. 165 on the sound strip.