38. I was quite busy with drama. I produced two one-act plays at a private girl’s college, and the result was quite rewarding. Peggy thought it was the best production she’d seen in Manila, but I had a rough time with the cast and Mother Superior during rehearsals. They asked me to direct a major production there the following spring, but I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to do it or not.
I was instead more excited about another group (Philippine Education Theater Association PETA), which was just forming. They were all people I had worked with before and who could work together well. I was going to direct three of them in another one-act play (THE CHAIRS in the dungeons of Fort Santiago), but I also wanted to become part of the group. Though I would see less of Peggy, I was very happy about getting involved. One of the first things I helped with was to put up lights for a new show at Fort Santiago. Since this was the first time an outside crew wasn’t hired, there was a lot of extra work… beginning with putting up pipe to hang lights from. It took three solid nights (plus many daylight hours) of working, but I enjoyed working hard to get the job done properly.
39. For a year we had another volunteer, Lew Burkley, living with us. Then in the middle of October a friend of Lew’s, Bill Brightman, joined us and then two weeks later Ray Hubener appeared. Ray had been my best friend and writing-buddy at Baylor University. I hadn’t communicated with him in over five years when out-of-the-blue he knocked on our door in Manila. He came from Hong Kong, where he worked as a journalist. I’m not sure how he found us in Manila, but it was a start of something amazing. For the next several years Ray’s and our paths crisscrossed in several places around the world. Somehow we found our way and kept running into each other.
This time Ray stayed with us from May until December before he left for Indonesia. I remember he told us at the airport that he guessed we wouldn’t see each other ever again. When Bill left, he returned to the States, and soon afterward Lew moved to live with a new volunteer, a blind man, who had nobody else to live with him. So our family shrank from 6 to 3 and it happened within a few days. We were sorry to see them leave, but we enjoyed increased privacy. But Linda (our maid) thought it was about the end of the world. She was very fond of Lew. According to her, our house was going to be as lonely as it was when we were all on vacation.
40. For a Christmas present Peggy sent one of her sisters a doll wearing a Maria Clarissa skirt, which was worn to many local dances. Maria Clarissa was a girlfriend of Jose Rizal, a national hero.
41. A chance of a lifetime. Peggy got a chance of a lifetime to be the Virgin Mary on national television. It was for a weekly show in Tagalog, but she had no speaking lines. She was a statue that came alive to show that it was pleased with a priest who did a juggling act because he had no other offering … or something like that. Peggy was not too enthusiastic, but Lino Brocka and I wanted her to do it. Besides she was sure that she wouldn’t get another chance to be the Virgin Mary on television. I thought she made a beautiful Mary, and members of the cast did too.
42. For a summer project Peggy requested to work in one of the neighborhood centers that was being established by the Social Welfare Administration. She really didn’t have an idea what she would be doing, but she wanted to work with nursery-school-age children. Since these children would probably speak no English, she took formal Tagalog lesson in an effort to learn enough to be able to communicate in Tagalog.
I was asked by the Philippine Education Theater Association, or PETA (the drama group I was working with right along), to stay through August. (Our termination date was scheduled for late June.) We decided to stay if Peace Corps would give us an extension. Peggy hoped that she would get involved enough in her summer project to want to spend two more months doing similar work.
I was then running lights for the latest PETA production. PETA had a way of making big plans that didn’t always pan out; but it looked as if I would get to direct three shows before we left Manila. The first production was to be two plays by the French playwright Ionesto, the next THE VISIT, a very powerful play by the contemporary German playwright Durrenmatt. And the last was supposed to be the Greek play TROJAN WOMEN, with an American actress … Mildred Dunock (sp?) … playing the lead. This coming after my successful production of THE CHAIRS in the dungeons of Fort Santiago, but it all depended on a Peace Corps extension.
Peggy and Randy Ford