Peggy and Randy Ford Authors- FOUND OUR WAY 7th Installment

19. The First Lady was expected to be in the audience of the big gala performance at Fort Santiago, but she didn’t turn up because the Mayor of Manila was also expected. And the mayor didn’t turn up because Mrs. Marcos was supposed to be there. (The mayor’s wife did attend the second night, which was just as grand and expensive (P100 a seat) as opening night.) And the leading actor … a very popular Filipino movie star … came half an hour after the performance was supposed to start because he didn’t get the publicity he thought he should have in that day’s papers. Fortunately for him, the curtain was held because Mrs. Marcos was still expected. Otherwise, somebody would’ve read his lines and the show would’ve gone on without him, which would have done his career a lot more damage than the lack of proper publicity did.

The same self-centeredness, lack of group feeling, and lack of discipline were prominent during the rehearsals. If a rehearsal were supposed to start at 5:00 I was lucky to have half of my people there by 7:00 or 7:30. Cecile (the director) often had to give the same directions over and over … and some things she worked on throughout the rehearsals were never perfected. I ended up doing much more work than I should have, simply because people weren’t reliable enough to follow through with their jobs. And Peggy spent 20 minutes or so after rehearsals (in Fort Santiago) picking up sandwich wrappings, cigarette papers, coke bottles, etc. At times we really got discourage.

Both Cecile and I had high hopes for the new theater. The play was scheduled for four performances, which meant that there was little time to develop cohesiveness. And if cohesiveness didn’t then take hold, or if Cecile had to start with a new group for the next production, next time was liable to be as difficult as this production was.

In spite of the difficulties Peggy and I enjoyed working on the production. It was one of the few creative effects we worked on together. It also gave both of us opportunities to get to know Filipinos better.

20. The attitudes we saw during the rehearsals weren’t found among drama people alone. They were found all over the Philippines and were one of the contributing factors to the state the country was in. It was extremely difficult to get different groups to work together at all. American politicians tended to be corrupt, but they were nothing like Filipino politicians. Many times a Filipino wouldn’t refuse when he was asked to do a job that he didn’t want to do; he just wouldn’t do it or wouldn’t show up when he was expected. And many … even in the city … operated on Filipino time, which meant anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours late.

21. We spent three days after the performances traveling. We knew that we wanted to head north, but we had no particular destination. So we got on a bus marked Tarlac. When riding a bus in the Philippines, a passenger didn’t buy a ticket before he or she got on. After the bus took off, a conductor went around and asked everyone where he or she was going. A little while later he came around again and gave out the tickets. Still a little later he came around and collected the money. And some conductors collected four or five fares at a time before they gave back change. They seemed to take pride in remembering where everyone was going, how much each owed, and how much change each should get back.

When we got to Tarlac, we had to change bus lines in order to continue north. Most towns didn’t have a bus station, so if you wanted to catch a bus, you stood by the side of the road and flagged down the bus, and if you wanted to get off a bus, you made a hissing noise through your teeth, and the driver would stop for you. We spent New Years Eve in Dugupan City, and some New Years Eve it was. Fireworks were supposedly banned, but the ban was not enforced. We got to Dugupan City about 8:00 p.m., and the fireworks were already popping all around us. By the time we found a hotel room and got something to eat, they were really going strong. I always wanted to explore towns, but this time it didn’t take long for me to change my mind. Even after midnight it was impossible to sleep, and we thought that we’d never been in any place that was as noisy as where we were that night. Even when we got up the next morning, there were still a few fireworks exploding here and there.

Monday morning we headed for Alaminos and Hundred Island National Park. At the park we hired a boat for a couple of hours and road around through the islands. There are really more than a hundred islands and each one is completely different from all the others. Many are not even as big as a city block, but some are as large as several blocks. Most would be very hard to land on because the water has so eroded the soil that for several feet above the water level the island is indented. A few do have pretty white sandy beaches, though.

We had planned to go to Santa Cruz that afternoon so that we wouldn’t have as far to go in returning to Manila on Tuesday. When we got back to the bus station in Alaminos, we learned that the Santa Cruz bus had left shortly before (at 3:45 p.m.), but that another one would be coming through before long. Well, the before long dragged into seven hours, during which time we were afraid to go get something to eat because a bus might come while we were gone. We finally got to Santa Cruz about 1:00 a.m.. We found a parked bus and crawled up in it to go to sleep until time to catch a bus for Olongopo and then to Manila. But every time a bus would leave, someone would come around and wake us up to find out if we wanted to be on that bus. (There were people sleeping in most of the parked buses.) At 4:00 a.m. we started on our way, and we reached Manila around one in the afternoon. We were tired, filthy, and hungry, but we had a wonderful time. Getting outside of Manila and getting to see some of the countryside was really wonderful.

Peggy and Randy Ford

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