People spent their time going around Manila in shock…fatigued and shocked. They constantly asked themselves, “When will our city get back to normal? When will the students go back to studying? When will it be safe again?” Susan tried to get Ted to stay home. He still rode an hour every morning to the university and taught his classes. Counting the trip to Fort Santiago, two and a-half-hours by bus and jeepney; and heaven only knew how safe it was. Susan thought, “If he had any brains, he wouldn’t chance it.” She didn’t know why he would continue. She still went to her school every day. She went, but it wasn’t as far. “Gosh, tell him you’ll miss him if he gets killed.” And she didn’t know how much the Peace Corps knew. They had to have known what everyone else knew, but did they really keep track? Were volunteers on their own? Then Susan read in the Manila Times about bombings somewhere, and it didn’t matter to her where the bombings occurred; anywhere would’ve been too close. “We’re handicapped,” she said. “We can’t get all the news. Then, too, what is he doing all that time he spends at Fort Santiago? They close all the classes, and what does he do? He goes to the fort. And she felt so uneasy that she sometimes had to show up down there too.
It was her other side that Mr. Araya saw, the cheerful, easy-going woman that they all knew. She didn’t miss a day of school. Obligation there was an obligation. She said, “I don’t want anyone to say that I didn’t take my teaching seriously. Mr. Araya will tell you. I’m a very good teacher.”
And everyone knew…it was something people talked about…why Ted married her, or she married him. Someone had to go with him, to make sure he knew when to turn around and go back. She didn’t have a problem with him following his dreams. She would follow them too, but would stop him when it got too harry. For her sometimes it paid to be a chicken. She didn’t want to hear about failings and shortcomings and was trying to be content as a counterbalance to her spouse. Unlike him she wasn’t trying to cram everything she could into a lifetime.
For three or four months Susan intended to take Mr. Ayala to see a show at Fort Santiago. When she brought it up to him, he got the idea that the theater in the fort would be the perfect place for his students to perform. He promoted the dance troupe, the glee club, and the rondalla all the time, so he naturally came up with the idea. Poor Susan. His heart was in the right place; but his faith in Susan was not based on reality. He made her regret that she had thought of him, and she obsessed on it so much that she thought of nothing else. And then, suddenly, the problem was solved for her. Mr. Ayala fabricated an excuse for Susan that got her off the hook.
But it didn’t help her with Ted’s situation. He still insisted on showing up at the university. Then to spend all that time at the theater. She knew it took a lot of time, though she couldn’t understand how he could stay alive at that pace. To achieve what? Then she was told that he spent a great deal of time in the dungeons, and she felt cheated. At least he avoided the fighting. You wouldn’t have found him in front of the Congress building, Claro M. Recto Street, or Malacanang. Of course there was the lure of being there that he resisted and would’ve, in a strange way, enjoyed. He still stayed away. So he tried to explain to Susan why he had been spending so much time in the dungeons.
A man who didn’t stick his neck out (who was always cautious) would’ve stayed away from Nick…a self-proclaimed Moist. Ted’s big production was also risky and called for material Nick could provide. Ted’s drama in the dungeons. It would take everyone, everyone’s energy and input. But it hadn’t jelled yet. The one thing it had to be was relevant…okay, topical. With all the goings-on, he could’ve easily been distracted, but his project had become personal. In actual fact, he couldn’t escape it. He was stuck with it, and the dungeons, as if he were a prisoner.