Monthly Archives: March 2009

Randy Ford Author-the rape of a Filipina

      Nothing…even a near head-on car crash as a child…had frightened Lilly more.   And almost as soon as it happened, and an apology was given, she shut down and began reliving the horror in her mind.   The start of it, the petty petting, the kissing and the touching as Don mindlessly explored her body with his hands and his mouth.   He would try to gage her reaction each time he tried something before moving on, and each try became more intense for him.   Her feeling separateness, the distancing of the mind from the body, gave him few clues.   She had no actually experience in this beyond a certain point, though affection in her family had been expressed openly and physically (a time or two she and her siblings had explored each other’s private parts).   Lessons taught to her by nuns about the importance of celibacy before marriage didn’t help her or stop him when the juices of passion and desire kicked in.  It made it very difficult for her when she found herself enjoying it.   It led to a major misunderstanding and the rejection of not only his hands and mouth, but also his penis, an object she clearly wasn’t ready for.

      She wouldn’t talk afterwards.   It was like being shut out; he expected her to say something.   Don had expected her to like it.   He hadn’t expected her, at the last moment, to reject him.   That week he had to take a boat-trip the length of the Sulus, to Sitangkia and back, stopping at each port in between.   Lilly’s “no” hadn’t been forceful enough to stop him.   He was like a man ready to jump overboard and could easily had, as he became more and more despondent over having raped her.   Outward bound, at Jolo, he got off the ship.   He went in for a drink not far from the pier and knew immediately he shouldn’t have been in there.   For the first time, with the Peace Corps, in a town where he had business that depended on diplomacy, he didn’t care what kind of an impression he made.   It was why he didn’t care when a Filipino soldier accosted him and he didn’t try to back out; and then, right then and there, he felt like ratting on himself.

      He normally loved the experience of traveling by boat, the sea breeze and the fresh air, and the motion of the ship and the smell of salt everywhere.   This trip had been planned far in advance.   It was the business he couldn’t talk about; and he and the governor (or was it a sultan) were scheduled to sit down and talk about security matters.   He had his script down.   So he could’ve used his connection with the governor to calm the soldier, and he should’ve.   Instead Don allowed the soldier to become loud and belligerent.   Don’t get into those situations, try to anticipate trouble; don’t let your mind wander.   Luckily, a stranger stepped in and got in between them.

     At Siasi he was asked if he wanted to go ashore.   The captain, a big man and friendly host, suggested it.   Don wasn’t in the mood, but he couldn’t very well turn him down.   Later he would be able to vouch for the captain and say that a carton of cigarettes that the captain was accused of smuggling actually came from Siasi.   He said when he went ashore with the captain he saw the purchase, and the purchase was made in the market.   He walked with the captain around the small seaport, still with a heavy burden, and was in a position to tell just how much the captain paid for the carton of cigarettes.

      On their way out they didn’t stop at Bongao or Tawi Tawi; they saved both ports for the return.   He spent most of his time on board trying to bury himself in a book he didn’t care about.   Reading books had been a big part of his Peace Corps experience; he had read every book provided to him by the agency; but he later couldn’t tell you the name of the book he tried to read on that trip.

     He found himself feeling a little bit better as they sailed along.   After successfully finishing his business at Sitangkia, he felt even better.   They had to row in on high tide, and much of the town was built over water.   He enjoyed navigating boardwalks and saw why the town was called the Venice of the Philippines.   Or was that Tawi Tawi?   He couldn’t give a replay of that trip, even if his life depended on it.

Randy Ford

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Randy Ford Author-Dating a Filipina, in two hundred words or less

      She appeared one evening when he hadn’t expected her.   He ordered a couple of beers, hoping he wouldn’t have to drink both of them.   He was in good spirits.   She was smaller than he was and dressed nicely in a casual dress, dressed for him in something she bought in a store rather than something she made.   The waiter took their order and left the two of them alone.

      She, not use to drinking but seeing two beers, accepted one of them.

      Don said, in a pleasant way and a calculated manner to put her at ease, “Lilly, is it chilly for you?   The wind’s from the sea, the Sulu Sea.   You can almost always expect it.”

      Don wasn’t sure what to talk about.   It was always hard to pull something out Lilly, and he didn’t expect this evening to be any different.   But she kept showing up.   So it didn’t matter then.   Maybe she was just shy.   And to Don (for someone who avoided Filipina companionship as a rule) this all seemed strange.   His idea of dating…not a one night stand, or a sexual encounter with a prostitute, but a real date, as though he knew what he really wanted.

     Finally she was really going to open up, and he was really going to listen.

     She asked, “Why did you come to Zamboanga?”

      Don said, “My job is here.   I look after people.   These people help your people.   It’s not hard work.   I don’t know how long I’ll be here.   It doesn’t really matter.   There are these things I can’t talk about, these things that have to do with the situation here and the Sulus and the Moros.   And I really wish I could talk about it with someone.   About my traveling from island to island.   I’m afraid that I say too much.   I listen and I assess.   Sometimes I get it right.   Sometimes I get it wrong.   My hope is that I get right more times than I get wrong, and pray nobody gets hurt.”   He spoke quietly, without a lot of emotion, knowing she didn’t understand him.

      She said, “Don.”

       “You remembered my name.   That’s really something.   You’re Lilly.”   This was a game they now played every time they met.

      A little later Don said, “So we’re getting to know each other.”

      “You haven’t said you like me.”

      “I’ve had a lot of things on my mind lately, Lilly.   They wanted to place someone on Sitangkai.   But there was the problem of isolation.   People there, in Sitangkai, haven’t seen that many white women.   They don’t want to believe that.   So someone came up with the idea of sending two or three white women there.   What a disaster that would be.   Don’t get the wrong idea.   I have bigger problems.   There are bigger problems than isolation and the color of someone’s skin.   Discrimination is prohibited.   I used to worry about skin color.   I wouldn’t go out with a woman of color.   You can’t get better people than people of color.   They’re more reliable.   On an evening such as this, influenced by the moon and the Sulu sea, you can be pretty damn sure I’m not thinking about anything as inconsequential as race.   Put aside the Bible, all the teachings of a lifetime, and close that book forever.   And let me be me.   Who am I kidding?   Maybe you heard of me and you came anyway.   Zamboanga is small enough.   I don’t have a girlfriend.   There are no rules that prevent me from dating someone like you.   Do I have to approach your parents?   Should I ask them directly or should I get someone to ask for me?   Or will they take a hint and figure it’s none of their business?   But what if we just want to be friends, you and me, and it is better for you for us to be simply friends?   But it worries me, Lilly.   I want to get it right.   It worries me that I won’t.”

      Lilly thought, “What’s he talking about?   That first night I never dreamed we would see each other again.   I just thought I’d find out about this man, this stranger, this American, and he seemed so strange, so different from what I imagined.

      It was after one of those dinners that she agreed to go to Don’s place.   She suggested it, out of curiosity, and for no other reason.   She didn’t foresee anything happening.   She was new at dating, and though shy in some respects, in many ways was actually assertive.   She knew what she wanted, always knew she would get it, but when it came to men she was never sure.   She made the mistake of trusting Don before she really knew him but dreamed so much about him that the real person would disappoint her.

      He said to her, “You have to excuse the mess.”

      Don had been working hard on making his place comfortable.

      He said to Lilly, “Most of this you see isn’t mine.   So I’ve borrowed.  So I’ve scrounged.   I’m temporarily here: that’s my excuse.   I would be interested in hearing what you think.   Why isn’t there a script for this?   I know someone in the theater in Manila.   I wish he were here to help us out.   In two hundred words, or less.”

Randy Ford

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Randy Ford Author-dating a Filipina, or this may work out with her

      When they last saw Don, Susan asked, “Where are they (the Peace Corps) sending you?”

      “I don’t know.   I’m floating around now, helping out where I can.   Most recently I was up in Aparri (at the tip of Luzon).   They don’t want me to get too attached to one place I guess.

      Later they sent Don to Zamboanga on Mindanao; and it looked as if he would stay there for a while.   He was to establish something but was put off by the idea of being stuck with an office.   The Moros were threatening again, with crossed swords, so it was hard to know if a particular place was safe.   He had to visit each volunteer and use his judgement as to whether they should be pulled out or not.   He had been to Zamboanga many times as a volunteer when he had been assigned to Davao as a science teacher.   That was for recreation.   This time it became messier.   He never intended to get involved with a Philippine woman romantically.   The casual, quick tryst with a prostitute…not something he would do in a city where he knew anyone…was far from being out of the question.   So he made it a policy to keep his distance from Filipinas by shutting down his libido.

      The next time Ted heard from him he was in trouble.

      Don said, “You have to be smart.   But who’s kidding who here.   I wasn’t smart enough.   Don’t criticize when you haven’t been there.   You’re not single so you don’t know how hard it was.   The trouble was: this was not in the manual.   Volunteers, in my case staff, are left out there alone and don’t see how they’re vulnerable.”

      “You obviously handled it before.   For two years and you extended.”

      “Yeah, I made it, but this time…I don’t know what happened.   Sex was the culprit.   To understand you’ve got to do your duty as a priest for while.”

      “Was it that bad?”

      “Worse.   Ask me.”

      Don couldn’t tell Ted what he’d done.   He couldn’t tell anyone connected with the Peace Corps, or at least until he fixed it.   Don trusted no one, and he stayed away from Manila as much as he could.   He came in only when he had to.   And on one of those trips he said to Ted, “Now I know what hell is like.   All because I couldn’t stop.   What did St. Paul say about that?”

      Ted looked at Don and asked, “Are you in that much trouble?”

      Don responded with a simple “yes.”

      If Ted had known St. Paul, he would’ve grasped the significance of what Don said.   In fact, Don’s reference to St. Paul and his letters in the Bible revealed his heart and soul.   But that hardly meant that he was perfect.   It showed more that he was human.   The trouble was, from a Christian perspective, and then the Peace Corps, and then to the Filipino, he had broken the law.   It was still a secret and hopefully would remain one; but there was the young woman’s family…both parents and siblings, with a tradition totally different from his, a concept of shame and retribution that often continued for generations, and with people running amuck and feuding violently, ready to settle scores with knives and guns or with whatever it took.   The woman and he had met innocently enough.   It was a chance encounter at a patio bar and restaurant connected to a hotel.   You could sit there at a table, order a meal, and stick a toe in the Sulu Sea.

      The fact that she had gone there without a chaperon shouldn’t have given Don a license for his conduct.   They shouldn’t have had a good time together, or why shouldn’t they have?  Yes, she was a Filipina, and he was an American with the Peace Corps.   That was how he got to the edge of a cliff, but explain how he fell off of it.

      There was no one more frightened than Don.   He was jolly and talkative and well mannered.   He was a Caucasian, and looked wealthy.   He told her he frequently ate there, which only reinforced her image of him.   Therefore she could’ve been forgiven for taking him for an American businessman, much like the fisherman from Texas that Ted met at the American Embassy (who incredibly based himself out of Basilian, an island Don could almost see from there).   The first question that came to Don was “what is she doing here alone.”   She could’ve been staying at the hotel and was one of those modern women who occasionally out of necessity travel alone.   He would then impress her less then.   Anywho, he invited her to join him.   That was how it all began.

      He asked her first thing, as if he had forgotten he was in the Philippines, “If you were going to have dinner here and had a choice, would you prefer having it with me or alone?”   The young woman without hesitation said, “With you.”   Don should’ve backed off right then.   “The food here is good.   Your choice, on me.”

      During a torchlight dinner they threw coins in the water so that they could watch boys dive for them.   They were warming up to each other, or were already warm, and he wanted sex so badly that he couldn’t see straight.   Don didn’t have a room in the hotel (he then lived there in Zamboanga) but did she have one?   He listened to her intently in an attempt to find out.   Very little of what was said, however, gave him a clue.   There was a lot about the view of the sea, the reflection of the sunset and a prau here and there with brightly colored sails, reds and blues: all of this enhanced the mood.   And when at the end of the meal he asked her for an opinion she said, “I wanted to meet someone like you, but my mother always warned me against it.”   Don knew then.   His head bobbed, he showed this great smile, and he almost fell out of his chair.

      “I don’t know your name.   I should’ve asked for your name first thing and we should’ve introduced ourselves.   Shall we go for a little stroll, in the moonlight, toward the fort?”   Getting up out of the chair he almost knocked it over, the closest he came to feeling clumsy.   But it would take more time for much more to happen.   He said, “I’m not good at this.   It’s this game we’re playing.   I hate it.   I feel it’s not honest.   And it’s too direct for you.   Forget it.   This won’t work.   Not in a million years.   Your culture calls for one thing.   Mine?   Well, mine calls for us to fuck.   Forgive me.   Please forgive me.   I’m shocked by my own crudeness.   You don’t understand me, do you?   You need to scram.   No hard feelings, okay?”   From there, they walked to the city plaza and sat on an iron bench.   They couldn’t get close there, so he said, “You’re still here.   When I said what I said I a while ago I thought that would mean adios.   You should’ve left me.   But I see you haven’t.   I’ll show you where I live.   Yes, I live near here.   And I come down here often.”   She still didn’t run away.   Now whenever he went to the plaza he looked for her knowing she knew he frequently went there.   Other times she met him for dinner, and under torchlight, they’d eat, eat and put up with boys who treaded water while begging for coins.   “Sorry boys, no more coins.   You’re wrong.   I’m not loaded,” and Don thought, “Against all odds, this may, this may work out with her.”

Randy Ford

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Randy Ford Author-a morality play and the Philippine-American War

      In the morality play, the first play staged at Fort Santiago, with movie stars and all, a man’s love for material possessions leads him into sacrificing everything…principals and even people.   The man is unable to harvest rice from his fields; the fields are under the control of Americans who are trying to starve the “insurrectos.”   The young granddaughter of the man, who the man loves, is sent as a sacrifice to the Americans and intercedes on behalf of the starving populace.   The American officer in control of the rice fields rapes her.   The play ends with the release of the fields and the girl, with the girl hanging herself, and the arrest of the grandfather for high treason.

      (Note: this is a brief description of the play “Straw Patriot,” translated into Tagalong by Wilfredo P. Sanchez and was the first play produced in the Royal Theater in Fort Santiago.   This much of the story is true, while most of the rest is fiction.)

      Alfred said, “It’s not Tennessee Williams, but it’s in Tagalong, which makes me happy.”

      Ted agreed.   Most of it worked.   But here and there the production overshadowed the play, and Ted had something to do with that.   So close to Sonja the director, and wanting to impress the audience, he helped her throw in as many theatrical devices as possible.

      The top of the back wall (the actual wall of the fort) was used, peopling it with peasants and townspeople.   It was quite a production.   Sonja pulled out all stops.   There were slide projections, incidental music, sung commentary, a real horse, and a cannon that really fired.   In no time Alfred and Ted had to round up props from all over Manila and the surrounding province.

      Alfred, after instructing the driver of a borrowed truck, said to Ted as they rode along, “The play, if you haven’t figured it out yet, is set during the Philippine-American war.   You Americans call it the Spanish-American war or ignore it completely.   It’s because you think you did us a favor.   Obviously, we don’t feel that way.   My father always  said his father fought the Americans and died for our democracy.   What do you think?”

      “I don’t know as much about it as I should.”   Ted couldn’t remember hearing anything about an American war with Philippines until the Peace Corps.

 Alfred said, “Perhaps, instead of a war, you dismissed it as an insurrection.”

      Ted understood Alfred’s argument and would never question him about it.   He continued his thinking, as they headed south along the bay toward Las Pinas.   Alfred didn’t say much more, as he might’ve earlier, and the opportunity passed.   Mortars and pestles out of heavy logs, wagon wheels and a cannon were on their list.   Ted didn’t like to beg, but it looked as if they would have to.   He would let Alfred do the begging.

      An hour went by before they completely left the city and turned off the main road.   From there they took a provincial route down a dirt road through rice fields.   Eventually they came to a small cluster of nipa huts.   Alfred had the driver stop the truck and got out.   His polo shirt covered up his sins at the table, and one couldn’t see whether he was wearing a belt or not.   He looked as if he owned the place, as he looked around.   He looked for anyone, someone to speak to.   He walked around back of the hut, which had been very quiet, and reemerged shortly with an old woman.   She looked very hard in Ted’s direction, as she and Alfred conversed in Tagalong.   Somehow he convinced her to loan the theater the mortars and the pestles.   They gave her nothing in writing.   Her mortars and pestles gone, and nothing in writing, and who knows when she would ever see her property again, if ever.   A year later the mortars and the pestles were still at the theater, pushed back into a corner.   Everyone just got too busy to return them.   Ted felt that busy.   But he wasn’t in charge; it wasn’t his theater; it wasn’t his country.

      Now he could talk intelligently about the Philippine/American war, the conflict, and how it continued.   And continued.

 Randy Ford

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Randy Ford Author-smooching on Corregidor and consequences

      They landed at the North Dock on Corregidor and didn’t have to be back at the dock until 2:30 p.m. for their return trip to Manila.   They were given a choice whether to walk or ride around the island, to see as much as possible as part of a tour or be on their own.  They opted for a leisurely day.   From Bottomside to Topside, Ted thought, there was too much to see in one day anyway, and Susan didn’t care if she saw any of it.   Ted tried to relive the fighting of American and Filipino soldiers as they defended the island, the blood and the sweat and the dull boom of battle that brought death on both sides.

      They were resting after the climb up to Topside and Nick allowed Elaine to kiss him and become more and more affectionate as the day wore on, while Ted and Susan didn’t even hold hands.

      The American couple noticed but ignored it.   Susan felt embarrassed for Nick.   And Nick himself was receptive and seemed to enjoy Elaine’s moves.   Nick was used to them in private and would reciprocate when they were alone.   After a few minutes of this, each time they stopped, Susan and Ted, and particularly Susan, would want to move on.   They knew, if the ethnicity of Nick and Elaine were reversed, Elaine would’ve come off looking like a prostitute.   Susan knew nothing about how Nick really felt but just knew it looked bad.   But she didn’t have the courage to say anything.

      Back at the university on Monday Nick went to Ted.   He wanted to ask Ted what he thought of Elaine, and he thought he owed Ted an explanation.   But he didn’t get around to explaining.   In this setting of academia an explanation would’ve seemed superfluous, or seen as a weakness when there was a certain amount machismo involved.   He could scarcely have been blamed for it.  All day Elaine had been the initiator.   She held his hand and kissed him first.   Nick was relieved that Ted never brought up the subject, and even before Nick himself had a chance to, Ted said, “Thanks for Saturday.”   Even with such an opening, Nick found he couldn’t proceed.   All he could say was “I also had a good time.”

      To which, Ted said, “I could tell.”

      “Where should we go next?”

      “How about Angles City?”

       “Where I came from?   You could play the part of a serviceman or, if we go together, I would ask you to get a dark tan.   And we would have to leave the women at home.”

      In the afternoon, instead of going straight to Fort Santiago via the Quiapo Bridge, he walked through Santa Ana.   Getting lost now wasn’t a problem.   He used the river to navigate.   Again, the streets and sidewalks were very congested, and, as a white man, he stood out.   The Chinese here (who were perhaps primarily merchants) approached Ted with various propositions.   He then went into a place and for less than a peso bought a bottle of San Miguel beer and carried it with him out on the sidewalk.   It took no time at all for him then to be approached by a couple of women.

      He had been watching for them before he even thought of wandering around Santa Anna and, while he had been on the lookout for prostitutes, at the end of the day he never intended to purchase any of their services.   They greeted him at the entrance of an alleyway, down which they pointed, as he walked by.   One of them stepped in front of him; the other one tapped him on the shoulder, and Ted was pleased to be confronted in this way.   He wondered how much it would cost.   Expensive or inexpensive, or would there be different rates?   Could he bargain?   What would it hurt to ask?

      She said, “Frencheee! Frenhcee!”   Then she poked a finger in the hole of the sign for “okay” she made.   “French-style.   You like.   For GI, real cheap.”

      He wanted to ask, “How cheap?”   But said instead, “No thank you.”   And a little later he said to himself “no thank you” again.   But then he wondered if he could ever find that alley again, or would it find him?   But meanwhile, he had to scurry or be late for a rehearsal.”

Randy Ford

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Curt Stubbs Poet-ONE OF THE GOOD TIMES

ONE OF THE GOOD TIMES

The morning sun stutters

through the blinds,

the cat sleeps behind my knees

forcing me into a fetal position.

The dog snores gently

beside my bed and it seems that today

is a day good for living.

Even the morning paper

with its stories of war and pestilence

doesn’t bring me down.

I hang around the house too long

and the afternoon sun shouts

hello at me as I start my daily walk. 

The birds mark my passing with a cacophony

chirps and twitters.

It sounds like the roadside trees

harbor each a different species.

As I walk the pigeons try to out run me

rather than take flight. 

The gravel crunches beneath

my outsize feet,

orange blossoms blanket the

area with their heavy scent. 

The twilight shadows chase my dog

across the yard as she

runs and rolls and leaps

at the bats who are chasing

down their breakfast. 

As the sun goes down

I can feel the temperature do the same. 

The shadows extend into night

And again I feel that this is one of the good ones.

 

Curt Stubbs

3880 N. Park Apt.  A

Tucson Az  85719

(520) 293-8401

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Randy Ford Author-Corregidor here we come

      Nick said one Friday, “There’s no school tomorrow.”   There weren’t classes at the University of the Philippines on Saturday.   “I don’t know if you and your wife would be interested, but why don’t I show you two Corregidor?”

      Ted was caught off guard and felt obligated but also excited because he never expected an offer like that from Nick and knew the story of Corregidor from war movies.   He said, “I’m assuming you would bring your girlfriend.”

     Nick said, “If you bring your wife.   The ferry departs at 8:00 a.m.”

     And Ted could hardly wait to tell Susan that they were going to Corregidor.

      Later in the day he asked Nick, “What time does the ferry leave again?”

      Nick said, with a frown, “8:00 a.m.”

      “Will it leave on time?”

      The siege of Bataan and Corregidor were real to Ted.   He knew the heroes and the villains.   And later, instead of asking why do you want to take us to Corregidor, he asked, “Have you been to Corregidor before?”

      “I go there about once a week.   No, I’m kidding.   I’ve been there two or three times, but never with Elaine.”

      Corregidor, the siege: Ted couldn’t help but think of his father, the Marine.   Nick sensed Ted’s excitement and, deciding to build on that, said, “We could stay over night, if we wanted to.”

      After a pause Ted said, “I’m assuming Elaine’s parents wouldn’t object?”

     “We’re adults.”

      “Of course.”

      “Would we get two or three rooms?”   Ted embarrassed himself, but he didn’t show it.   “Why are we having this conversation?   Like you said, we’re adults.   Where did you meet Elaine?”

      “Here at the university.”

     “That makes sense.”   Nothing else about their relationship did.

      They met at the old Hoverferry terminal a little before eight.   That was on Roxas Boulevard, where a month before, Ted and Susan had traipsed back and forth between the American Embassy and their hotel and Ted had had the scare of his life.   It was totally different that Saturday: a leisurely hour-long ride on a clean, well-maintained ferry made for a very pleasant experience except for Susan.   The view of the bay, seen on three sides, was an expanse wider than Ted had expected.   Elaine pointed out Cavite, which was indistinct at that distance and Susan with a headache and pale, sick and less than energetic sat most of the voyage under the air-conditioning.   The women pretty much stuck together.   Ted was struck, not so much by how Nick played the host…he had a little tour-guide in him, and seemed to get better at it as the day progressed… but how calm and comfortable he appeared around Elaine, particularly in this very public setting, and because Ted knew he was a Maoist firebrand at heart.   Nick ordered halo-halo for all of them, though with the air-conditioning they didn’t need cooling off, and Nick talked.

      Nick said, “Very nice, isn’t it, with all the American amenities that you would expect.   It’s first class.   In a place like Manila you wouldn’t expect anything less.   I think I missed my calling.   My friends, what do you think?   I think I should leave the university and capitalize on el tourist.   I can be very accommodating.   That’s me.   You’ve met him.   What do you think?”

      Elaine said, “I think you’re full of shit; that’s what I think.”

      “That’s what I like about her.   She says what she thinks.”

      Ted, not knowing Elaine well yet or where Nick was going with his comments, tried to shift the conversation back to what they expected see on Corregidor.

Randy Ford

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