She was harsh on Marcos. A week into her hunger strike she had attracted his attention, causing him to examine Nick’s case; and to avoid seeming weak, the president didn’t give in to the pressure. Instead he had Nick placed in solitary confinement, and it seemed as if he’d been sentenced for life. Even as Elaine weakened and at the same time gained more and more notoriety, Marcos knew enough to ignore her. Let her starve while we eat cake. She had her supporters, but she didn’t know how much support until she almost died. It didn’t take long for her to see that she was causing quite a stir (with Ted donating his Katipunan flag (with big K), there was also symbolism involved that didn’t escape those who knew their history; student activists, professors, and of course Susan and Ted.) And the longer Elaine lay there withering away on her cot the more embarrassing it became for Marcos and his cronies.
Linda was talking about it before Susan and Ted knew whom she was talking about. In her tiny weak voice Elaine liked to say it would make her father proud of her. He would be on her side and he would have to appear to be against her. She thought it gave her more leverage over him than she ever had before. She knew he would find out, and it would only be a matter of time before he got involved. Her father, now working in the Pentagon, had graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis and would have the influence and pull to end her hunger strike. He decided when he was quite young that he would lead men. He was good with people; he learned how to manage them; he knew how to work the system. He rose quickly to naval heights, but the one person he couldn’t control was his daughter. As Commander of the Cavite Naval Station and when Elaine had lived under his roof, he had tried to control her. When he met Nick (and before he knew his affiliation with the Radicals) he had liked him; afterwards and in spite of all the embarrassment and after his career was hurt, he would tell people he respected Nick for “standing up” to Marcos.
And Nick felt sorry that Elaine’s father was unfortunately a target and had lost out (though the Pentagon job wasn’t a demotion) when he could’ve chosen someone else for a girlfriend. He wondered how he could ever fit into that family. Nick had gotten his marching orders when he went to China and would never renounce that; it would take some kind of miracle then for Elaine’s father to accept him. Elaine said, “My father is a very forgiving man.” Now Nick had all the time in the world to think, cool his heels in solitary confinement and think. Nick had never said anything bad about Elaine’s family. He had only seen them once or twice; Forbes Park made him feel uncomfortable, to him the compound and the armed gate had much the same feel as the outside of Camp Aguinaldo. He supposed that if times had been different he would’ve been on track for becoming head of the department and even dean and would’ve one day owned a home, and perhaps even own a house in Forbes Park.
Nick wouldn’t know what was going on. He had stopped thinking about getting out alive. And when the day of his release came all the support he received and the sacrifices that were made for him humbled him. He was still defiant, though. He said, “I never would’ve thought Elaine would’ve attempted to starve herself for me, Ted. It’s going to take a lot for me to repay her. We’re going to have to figure out how we can stay together. We can’t continue to live in sin.” Ted knew by then that it wouldn’t work out for Nick and Elaine. So he had to tell him, though he hated to be a bearer of bad news. He said, “Elaine’s father flew in from the States. Elaine was still camped outside of Camp Aguinaldo. They had a very long conversation, and they came to an agreement. So Elaine’s father used his influence to get you out. Now you’re free.”
A few weeks later Elaine was a plane to San Francisco and then flew on to D.C. After that Nick would get little in the way of news from her. It was only later, some years after the First Quarter Storm, that he was able to justify a trip for himself to the States; and he finally knocked on her door, only to find out that she was married. During all of that time he remained true to himself; and he never stopped fighting. So the fight went on, the brutalities and the violence. But Nick always regretted that he let Elaine go.
Don found he had less and less energy for the things he needed to do. Some of his listlessness came from how he viewed himself, but it mainly came from avoidance. In Zamboanga he had been far enough away from Manila and the office for him to get away with that. Over time, then, it seemed as if higher-ups forgot about him. So when he got to Manila he didn’t need to report in. They sent for him and knew he knew what he was supposed to do. But did they really need him? They also lived in Manila, knew what was going on and read the papers, both the Manila Times and the Free Press, so they could’ve done without him. Good thing his job wasn’t based on performance. As for job satisfaction, it didn’t feel like work. He said to Ted, “You didn’t hear this from me.” And then after a long pause, he added, “I don’t know what I’m doing here.” Before he could say and often said, “I’m here to teach.”