Category Archives: Randy’s Story


Paul Baker and the Integration of Abilities Hardcover –  

About the Author

More about the author

Robert Flynn

Robert Flynn, professor emeritus, Trinity University and a native of Chillicothe, Texas, is the author of fourteen books. Nine novels: North To Yesterday; In the House of the Lord; The Sounds of Rescue, The Signs of Hope; Wanderer Springs, The Last Klick, The Devils Tiger, co-authored with the late Dan Klepper, Tie-Fast Country, Echos of Glory.and his most recent Jade:Outlaw. His dramatic adaptation of Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying was the United States entry at the Theater of Nations in Paris in l964 and won a Special Jury Award. He is also the author of a two-part documentary, “A Cowboy Legacy” shown on ABC-TV; a nonfiction narrative, A Personal War in Vietnam, an oral history, When I was Just Your Age, and a memoir, Burying the Farm.

Also, three story collections, Seasonal Rain, Living With The Hyenas, Slouching Toward Zion, and a collection of essays, Growing Up a Sullen Baptist. He is co-editor of Paul Baker and the Integration of Abilities.

North to Yesterday received awards from the Texas Institute of Letters and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, and was named one of the Best Books of the Year by the New York Times. Seasonal Rain, was co-winner of the Texas Literary Festival Award. Wanderer Springs received a Spur Award from Western Writers of America. Living With the Hyenas received a Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. Echoes of Glory received a Spur Award from Western Writers of America. Flynn’s work has been translated into German, Spanish, Dutch, Afrikaans, Malayalam, Arabic, Tamil, Hindi, Kanada, and Vietnamese. Flynn is a member of The Texas Institute of Letters, The Writers Guild of America, Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Associate, and P.E.N. In 1998, he received the “Distinguished Achievement Award” from the Texas Institute of Letters. (See Flynn’s Blog.)

Robert Flynn is a native of Chillicothe, Texas, the best known Chillicothe outside of Ohio, Missouri and Illinois, despite its size. Chillicothe is so small there’s only one Baptist Church. Chillicothe is so small you have to go to Quanah to have a coincidence. Chillicothe is fairly bursting with truth and beauty and at an early age Flynn set out to find it.

His life and work could be described as ‘The Search for Morals, Ethics, Religion, or at least a good story in Texas and lesser known parts of the world’.

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Lino Brocka: The PHILIPPINES’ Greatest Director and dear friend

Lino Brocka: The Philippines’ Greatest Director

Lino Brocka was a radical filmmaker whose socially conscious films explored the plight of the marginalized and ignored sectors of Filipino society. Maria Soriano explores his trailblazing life and career, and looks at his films, which are unfortunately unattainable outside of The Philippines.
Catalino Ortiz Brocka, more famously known as Lino Brocka, was one of the Philippines’ greatest auteurs. He was born in Pilar, Sorsogon in 1939. His father Regino, who was a huge influence on Brocka, teaching him Maths and English as well as the Arts, was killed in a political murder when Brocka was still young. Brocka, along with his mother and brother, had to flee to live with his mother’s sister. But a good life was far from reach as he and his family suffered physical and verbal abuse from his relatives and were forced to do hard labour, an experience he would carry with him throughout his career as a director.

Brocka developed a strong interest in films during his youth, particularly Americanfilms, and despite his poor upbringing he managed to flourish academically and won a college scholarship in the country’s leading academic institute, the University of The Philippines. Initially majoring in pre-law, he dropped the course to study literature instead. While studying at the University, he joined the Dramatic Club but was criticized for his provincial accent and demeanour, a treatment that disgusted him. Brocka took it upon himself to watch his beloved American movies to practice his English further and improve his accent, a move that eventually gained him acceptance in the club, but only as a stage hand. After dropping out of college, he converted to Mormonism and devoted himself to missionary work, travelling to a leper colony in Hawaii. He then travelled to America and worked menial jobs in San Francisco for a brief period of time before turning down a chance for American citizenship, opting instead to return to the Philippines to revive his interest in filmmaking.

He joined the Philippine Educational Theatre Association where he met its founder Cecille Guidote, which led to the making of his first film, 1970’s Wanted: Perfect Mother, a box-office hit based on The Sound of Music, the only film he has made that was not heavy on social injustice and drama. From then on, Brocka’s films became more personal, his filmography depicting the plights and suffering of the Filipino people. Some of his best works are Insiang (1978), a revenge tale of a girl’s rape by her mother’s lover, which became the first entry by a Filipino filmmaker at the Cannes Festival, earning him the prestigious Palm d’Or. Manila: In The Claws of Darkness(1976), Jaguar (1980), and Bayan Ko (My Country, 1984) were also nominated for the award, further cementing his reputation as one of the greatest directors to come out of South East Asia.

Brocka’s films are very character driven, magnifying the oppression and neglect of the common citizen, the poor everyman barely scrapping by while fighting off abuse from the system. He often cast unknown actors to focus more on the story and not on the celebrity. Actors such as Bembol Roco, Hilda Koronel and Laurice Guillen are amongst the unknown actors that worked with him repeatedly for years, eventually becoming stars in their own right. Alongside his socially conscious films Brocka also discussed themes of sexuality, which filmmakers during his time tended to avoid. Despite his Mormon faith, Brocka was openly gay and homosexual themes were often a big part of the narratives of his films, as was showing sexually confident and strong-spirited women. Brocka’s films highlight the marginalised and ignored sectors of society- the slum dwellers, prostitutes, street hustlers, as well as those who were discriminated against simply because of gender or sexuality – subjects that no other director dared to touch, especially while under the Marcos dictatorship.

Manila: In The Claws of Darkness explores the prostitution of provincial girls and their hand-to-mouth existence in the city, while Jaguar, which many see as a companion piece to Manila: In The Claws of Darkness, is about a kind hearted country boy named Poldo who works in the city as a security guard and is drawn into the seedy underbelly of city life. Brocka manifests himself and his upbringing in his films by using naïve country folk, just as he once was, trying their luck in the city and finding out the hard way that the promise of a good life is nothing but an illusion. The gritty violence and voracious lack of morals in his films can be overwhelming, but it elicits a certain moral response from the audience that makes them very aware of the depressing state of affairs in society.

Under the Marcos regime, strict censorship was enforced in the media and Brocka was forced to smuggle his films out of the country for screenings to avoid heavy cuts. In 1984, he flew to Cannes to support another nomination for Bayan Ko (My Country). In his fight for freedom of speech, he declared that the Marcos dictatorship had taken control of the Philippine media for its enforcement of censorship, which resulted in his arrest and imprisonment along with other journalists and filmmakers upon his return to the Philippines.

He was released from jail after the fall of Marcos and was invited by Corazon Aquino, Marcos’ successor, to be part of a committee to draft the 1986 constitution but left soon after as he felt that many of the policies worked against the Filipino people. He protested against the new government by making radical films such as Ora Pro Nobis(1989) and Gumapang Ka Sa Lusak (1990), with Ora earning him yet another Palm d’Or nomination.

Lino Brocka died in a car accident on May 21, 1991. His untimely death did not stop his long and hard fight for social justice as he was posthumously awarded the National Artist Award and is considered, to this day, the greatest social realist, and the greatest director, the Philippines has produced.

Randy Ford and his wife Peggy were close friend of Lino and have many fond memories of him


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The Life and Legacy of José Rizal: National Hero of The Philippines

12 of the Most Influential Chinese Film Directors

The 10 Best Books in Modern Philippine Literature

The 7 Most Legendary Filipino Authors


The Power Of Filipino Expressionism: Artists Interpret The Marcos Dictatorship

16 English Words and Sayings Travellers Won’t Understand in the Philippines


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Randy Ford Author- Thomas Wolfe, Angna Enters, and Me

      “He did not write nine-page reviews on ‘How Chaplin Uses Hands in Latest Picture’- how it really was not slap-stick, but the tragedy of Lear in modern clothes; or on how Enters enters; or how Crane’s poetry can only be defined, and generally exposited in terms of mathematical formulae- ahem! ahem, now!”- from YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN by Thomas Wolfe  p.485

      This week I have been reading Thomas Wolfe’s YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN and stumbled upon the quote about Angna Enters.  In 1962 I took her mime class at Baylor University, and it seems to me as if we spent the whole semester working on Entrances.  So I experienced Enters entering.  At the same time I was studying Laban’s Work Efforts with Rudolph Laban’s daughter Juana De Laban.  Imagine both women working at the Baylor Theater and the Dallas Theater Center at the same time.

      “In 1924, Enters borrowed $25 with which to present her first solo program at the Greenwich Village Theater.  Her solo program,”The Theatre of Angna Enters,” toured the United States and Europe until 1939 and was performed, though less often, until 1960.”

      “YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN is Thomas Wolfe’s final novel, published postimumously in 1940.  It is the sequel to THE WEB AND THE ROCK, and brings Wolfe’s hero George Webber back to the United states from a European sojourn on which he had learned that “you can’t go home again” but must go forward to a new future, not a dead past.” 

      “Thomas Wolfe remains as colorful and controversial a literary figure as modern America has produce.  Born in 1900, wolfe was educated in his home state of North Carolina and at Harvard.  Following a period abroad he taught at New York University until 1950, when his first novel, LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL, was published.  Thereafter he devoted his whole time to his writing OF TIME AND THE RIVER, the sequel, fulfilled the promise shown by the first book and established Wolfe as on of the major American novelists. 

       One of Paul Baker’s most memorial accomplishments at Baylor Theater and The Dallas Theater Center was the adaptation and production of OF TIME AND THE RIVER.

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Lino Brocka The Philippines’ Greatest Director

      Note: During the two years I lived in Manila with my wife, Lino Brocka was a close friend of ours.   He gave us a dog he named PETA, named after the Philippine Educational Theater Association, and also gave us two chicks, which he named Chitty-Chitty and Bang-Bang, names inspired fittingly enough by a movie.   He also cast my wife Peggy as the Virgin Mary in a television drama.  Randy Ford

The following article was taken from

  Lino Brocka
The Philippines’ Greatest Director

Lino Brocka’s story is so unusual that if it was pitched to a movie studio it would be rejected — for being too unbelievable.   Yet ask most any Filipino Latter-day Saint, and they know the story: the man who is widely considered the greatest filmmaker in his country, was also a Latter-day Saint.   Beyond that, he could be called the “first convert” to the church, earning him forever a place in Latter-day Saint history and film history.   Before Richard Dutcher was old enough to hold a camera, Lino Brocka was making a film that drew on his missionary experiences — in a leper colony.

      Brocka was not an active churchgoer later in life, but never held animosity toward the Church. It appears that Filipino church members eventually rejected Brocka’s films because of “R-rated” content and GLBT themes. Yet when one considers Brocka’s themes, it is clear that his critically acclaimed films were deeply influenced by many Latter-day Saint values, even while portraying–at times accepting–some non-LDS values.

From “Filipino Film and Video Artists”:

      Filmmaker, actor, social activist, Mr. Brocka is widely considered as the most prominent Filipino filmmaker who broke grounds for Philippine cinema internationally when his films Insiang (1976), Jaguar (1979) and Bona (1980) were shown at Cannes Film Festival, both in Director’s fortnight and the Main Competition.   He had a colorful career until his untimely death in a car accident in Quezon City in 1991.   Known for the social and political causes he espoused like anti-censorship and human rights, he carried on these causes to his films notably, Miguelito, Ang Batang Rebelde / The young rebel (1986), Orapronobis / Fight for us (1989) and Gumapang ka sa Lusak / Dirty affair (1990).


“Philippine and Church History” and Church History in the Philippines:

      The first missionaries [to the Philippines], Elders Ray Goodson, Harry Murray, Kent Lowe and Nestor Ledesma, arrived in Manila on June 5, 1961.   The first two to be baptized by the missionaries were Jose Gutierez Sr. and Lino Brocka.

From University of the Philippines Diliman film festival notes:

      The best known and most highly regarded contemporary Philippine filmmaker.   The son of a fisherman and a schoolteacher, he converted to the Mormon religion after graduating from college and served briefly as a missionary in a leper colony on the Hawaiian island of Molokai.   Returning to Manila, he began acting, directing and writing for the stage and TV.   He directed his first film in 1970, but it was in 1978 that he first attracted international attention at the Cannes Festival, with Insiang (1976). Brocka’s films often carry a social message and are typically sympathetic to the poor and the working class.   They are frequently politically controversial.   His French co-production L’Insoumis (1989) mercilessly depicts the lawlessness and terror in the post-Marcos Philippines.


“Mission Impossible 1: Filipino Filmmaking 1896-1986”:

      Lino Brocka (1940-1991), like Gerardo de Leon, was the spokesman and master filmmaker of his generation.   Raised poor and rural, Brocka studied to be a Mormon missionary, worked with homeless in San Francisco, and taught in Hawaii before returning to the Philippines in his late-Twenties.   An aspiring actor, he also wrote and directed for the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) both on stage and for its television show.   In 1970, Brocka made his first film Wanted: Perfect Mother.   It combined the current hit The Sound of Music with a Filipine comic serial (a governess struggles with her brood of orphans), and achieved box office success.   Brocka’s career was built on the fact that, in three weeks, he could write and direct a film which could make as much money as an American import.   Over the next four years he made nine films.

      Brocka was a controversial figure, the subject of both praise and criticism.   But he was certainly a prolific filmmaker.   Among the best of the more than 70 films he made are Maynila: In the Claws of Neon (1975) and Jaguar (1979) which depict the Philippines in a gritty, realistic style.   He has was criticised for Bona (1980), which uses well-known movie stars to make a film that, he claimed, attacked the star system; Kontrobersyal (1980), a film condemning pornography, but which was itself deemed pornographic… and Ang Bayan Ko (My Country; Clinging to a Knife Edge, 1984), a Filipine entry in the 1984 Cannes Film Festival which was disowned by the Filipine government.   Brocka was a trenchant critic of the Marcos government, and despite being censored (during the latter period of martial law, his films were smuggled out of the country for screenings) and imprisonment, he continued to fight censorship and agitate against the Marcos regime in both his life and his films.

      This vigilance continued with the films he made after the fall of Marcos.   Brocka, along with other filmmakers, was disappointed with the policies of the new president, Corazon Aquino. Consequently, he continued to make films critical of the Filipine government.   Brocka, without a doubt, brought international attention to both the quality and value of the Filipine cinema as well as the transgressions and repression of the Marcos regime.



Lino Brocka Biography

Published by the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

      This work attempts to present a comprehensive view of the artist’s life, with interviews and reviews of his most important films.   The volume includes a complete filmography of his works.   It also features essays written by highly qualified authors on the subject’s contribution to contemporary Philippine culture and history.

Available for online purchase from

Documentary: “Signed: Lino Brocka”

Online source:

Philippines 1987 Length 90 min.

Director: Christian Blackwood Screenwriter/ Producer/ Cinematographer: Christian Blackwood Editor: Monika Abspacher
Cast: Lino Brocka

1988 Peace Film Award Berlin International Film Festival

      Signed: Lino Brocka, is a documentary that portrays the late great Filipino filmmaker as patriot and socialist.   Brocka explains the importance of reflecting poverty and the culture of the masses on film not just to fulfill realism for realism’s sake, but in order for the audience to fully grasp the significance of their roots and move them to remedy the ills of their society.

      Christian Blackwood was born in Berlin, Germany in 1942.   His selected works are Black Harvest, All by Myself, Private Conversations, Observations Under the Volcano, Nik and Murray and Stephanie and the Madame. He died on July 1992 at New York, USA


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Randy Ford Author- Flight

      She looked after their bags as he ran to the restroom.   It was her old role, playing nurse with their luggage, hovering over the various pieces so that they wouldn’t run off.   If they weren’t in such a busy terminal it wouldn’t have been so critical.   Not all the people lounging around were catching a flight, leaving Manila as they were; the terminal was full; that airport would soon prove to be a very dangerous place, and Susan and Ted with their heads filled with worries about getting into Singapore didn’t exactly blend in.

      Many of the passengers in the waiting areas were going great distances.   Susan and Ted were in for a relatively short flight, a relatively simple hop; other passengers on their plane would fly on to Bombay.   Other planes began to load.   Ted came out of the restroom; it seemed to Susan that he had been in there forever, as if he had endured a line for a urinal, the kind of line she anticipated when she took her turn.   And after some weeks of anticipation they now had only a half an hour or more left and they’d be on their way, starting a new phrase of their life, new adventures to write home about.   Some people seemed more in a hurry than they were; but their flight hadn’t been called yet; and they seemed to have plenty of time since they had already cleared customs.   Clearing customs was always like playing a game; and it would always amaze Susan how thoroughly customs went through the luggage of nationals returning to their country while they generally had no problems at all.   It was as though their American passports gave them an automatic pass, with some exceptions; and this time would prove to be one of those, though they got through the first huddle, customs, without a problem.

      For while, especially after they cleared customs, it looked as if no one would show up to see them off; and it seemed probable at that point that it would be the case, that no one cared enough to come, and Ted felt disappointed.   But then, when they least expected him, Don showed up.   He couldn’t come into the area where they were; there was a clear-plastic barrier that prevented that; and Ted didn’t think they had enough time to go back through customs.   They could still communicate and wave.   Very quickly they exchanged greetings, a short while later good-byes, a scene that Ted would always remember and seemed so unnatural; and then their flight was called; and Don said that they probably would never see each again.   They had hoped that going through immigration would be routine.   Now they felt their confidence rise.   All they were looking for was a perfunctory glance at their passports; and their passports stamped, and they would be on their way (with a few regrets but by and large great satisfaction; at least they hoped that would be the way the Peace Corps viewed their service).   Nerves began to mount up, while they tried to look as unemotional as possible, which seemed the best way to get through immigration; standing in line you’d hope everything would go smoothly.   In front of them for most of the passengers it only took a minute or two.   For some it took a look a little longer; it depended on the nationality of the person; and it began to look as if they were picking on certain people.

      This led to a lot of uncertainty.   The immigration official, when it became Susan and Ted’s turn, had to ask them for their passports twice.   Ted was that nervous.   They each had their own passport; Ted could see one of them being held up for some idiotic reason; especially so considering his draft situation.   Maybe they could see that they were running from something.   So seconds turned into long minutes; after which a second official stepped up and pulled them aside.   It didn’t take long for things to get out of hand; and Ted could clearly see that because of this “baloney” they could end up missing their flight; who knew if they would hold the plane for them or not.   It didn’t look good.

       In a small office off to one side Ted and Susan managed to stay reasonably calm.   Before, the Peace Corps would’ve run interference for them; how different it was compared when they arrived in Manila and were whisked through immigration and customs and were given a welcome speech, a warm welcome when everything seemed so foreign.   Ted was readier than Susan was to accept whatever.

      Ted asked him what the problem was, sir…like everything else there had to be a remedy, but first he had to find out the problem.   He asked him what, precisely.

      “Hum!”   This was all that initially came out of the official’s mouth.   Clearly the official had within his power to make or ruin their day.   “Hum!”   The silence that followed seemed interminable.   He was dressed in a smart uniform and, with pomp and a badge, wore an official hat.   Ted, at that moment, imagined that he was going to be sent to jail for some unnamed crime connected, or unconnected with his activities at the university.   Somehow they knew and set a trap for him.   He felt like blurting out, “I’ve been a Peace Corps volunteer for almost two years; and I’ve done what I could for your country.”   Yeah, right, if you called joining the Communist useful…and maybe it was a good thing that he didn’t have an in-depth conversation what that official.

      He asked them about a stamp they didn’t have in their passports.   It would cost them a hundred pesos each.   And then could they board their plane?   “Of course,” the official said.   So they paid it and got their passports stamped.   And stamped again, when they went through immigration a second time.

      Susan later said, “They want us to go away with a good impression.   That’s why DeRoy Valencia was such a stickler over his bathrooms in the Luneta.   You see Alfred was right all along.   The time came for him to pee.   He was then a Mormon missionary in Hawaii.   Everyone has to pee.   That’s right, everyone, even a Mormon missionary on a mission.   And if he were in Manila instead of Hawaii, he could’ve peed almost anywhere: behind a building, on a tire, a tree, anywhere.   But in Hawaii, he would have to hold it, but sometimes he thought he couldn’t, and one of those times he got in big trouble.   What was he going to do?   He would do what he always did: he would find a building, a tire, a tree, or whatever and pee.   And low and behold, in Hawaii he got arrested for it.   Now was that fair?   I mean, he was in foreign country for Pete sake.”

      Her parents had never been out of the United States, unless you count the few times they crossed into Juarez on foot, and Susan thought that shouldn’t count.   Here they were about to get off a plane in Singapore.

      She said to Ted, “I’ve been angry at you.   Back in the States I was blind-sighted by the prospect of marrying you.   How could that be?   How could that be with someone like me?   I thought one day you’d be famous.   Before I met you I knew nothing about the theater, except…all the people I knew about in the theater were all very famous, so it stood to reason…I guess I was fooling myself.   My dreams were buried back there in the theater building I hated.   It took so much of you away from me.   I was lonely.   I could’ve died when I smelled the cigarette smoke.   My husband was among the living dead.   And I knew that if I didn’t do something quick that I’d drive myself crazy.   So I suggested the Peace Corps.   I didn’t really think you’d really want to go.   I felt good when you did.   I thought, oh boy, now I can get my husband back.   Of course, I was scared to death.   Scared and pissed, and that accounted for my pissiness.   Of course, I didn’t tell anyone.   Now half the people on the plane know.”

      He leaned over to be close to her and said, “So I drove you crazy.   So now what’s up with you?”

      “I don’t know.   I would hope that I’m stronger now.”   She went on to say, “You didn’t drive me crazy.   Even when you were at your craziest, you didn’t.   I was feeding off my own frenzy.   I could say I was waiting for you to become a famous such and such.   But I’m more realistic than that.   I saw my mother; how she was stuck on that piece of dirt near Midland.   And look at us now: on an airplane flying into Singapore.   Why not Singapore?   We could stay in Singapore.   Singapore sounds so exotic.”

“I have news for you. They won’t let us stay in Singapore.”

      “Shucks!  Or rats!   Is Singapore a country?”

      By the time Singapore broke away from Malaysia it was already becoming the financial hub of Southeast Asia.   It didn’t take Susan and Ted long to learn how to get around in this super-clean, super-organized city-state.   There were sights to see.   And a great amount of pressure was off them.   By and large Ted thought they had succeeded in disappearing.   And this realization came on the heels of an attempted assassination of the Pope.   Nick returned to his home in Central Luzon.   The guerrillas there learned from past mistakes and became more successful, as politics in Manila turned more deadly.   In many ways, it was a good thing that Ted got out of there when he did.   They raided Angeles City and ambushed some American airmen and raised the stakes for everyone everywhere in the Philippines.

      Then the question arose: what would they do if Susan became pregnant?   Susan had said that she didn’t know how many times she could move, and Ted had said a good time to settle down might be when they had a kid.   Then there for a while in Singapore they thought Susan might’ve been pregnant.   For several days they lived with that unknown and until they discovered the wonders of socialized medicine.   They didn’t have to pay a thing; and the results set them free.

       Life then presented them with questions.   Seeing Singapore meant, among other things, eating on a junk in the harbor; and this place was own by American expatriate; and you could catch a water-shuttle to it for lunch and dinner.

      While they were eating the owner appeared, and Ted asked him how he managed to acquire a junk and turn it into a restaurant.

      “It wasn’t easy,” he said.

      When he came back later with the bill Ted said to him, “We just came from Manila.   We grew tired of Manila.   Any advice?”

     “None whatsoever.”

      And Ted said, “I’m lucky to have this woman here.   I couldn’t live without her.   I have another question.   If you had nowhere, where would you go?   And don’t say Singapore and that you would live and work on a junk.”

      Randy Ford

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Randy Ford Author- running amok on those last days

      Sonja came to the lunch Alfred planned for them.   She considered bringing them a small gift, something very small that would fit in their luggage, as a token of appreciation, and but that idea got lost as she rushed about.   She wanted to see Ted off not because he had worked for her for over a year and half, not because of his contributions to the theater, not even because she had counted on him and he had always come through, but for cultural reasons she had to make sure that his departure went smoothly.   She said, “We really thought Ted would be with us for a much longer time.”   Here she succeeded in making him feel good and this without relying on anyone else.   She also knew what else to say, when she said, “like you, I’ve found what I really want to do.  Like you, I love theater; and I was hoping that that love could be translated into convincing you to stay.”   At that point Susan didn’t want to hear that, and said, “Oh, no you don’t.”

      Alfred said, “Um! Ted, I think you better listen to her.   And why not, she’s your wife.   And Ted, when do you think we’ll hear from you again?”

      Within a few seconds, Alfred had saved the day.   Neither negotiator nor a judge, he took over the conversation by bringing Ted up to speed on the progress of the play in the dungeon.   To Alfred HINDI ACO PATAY was the perfect play for down there.   He wanted to thank Ted for the Katipunan flag, which on the nights of performance he planned to fly under the Filipino flag at Fort Santiago.   Ted agreed that that could be considered seditious and said he was glad he would be out of the country.   But he felt at home, and they had to laugh.

      Ted made one last trip to Diliman and caught Nick between classes.   Nick asked him if he would like to sit down.   He no longer had a Chinese flag hanging on his wall and tried to explain why, “Once upon a time I was more radical than I am now, and then one day they came and arrested me.   And it seemed ridiculous for me to be in solitary confinement, when I could’ve been more useful on the outside.   It seemed so ridiculous that I signed a pact with myself, which means I’m smarter now.   I should go home at the end of the semester.   It’s heating up up there.   It’s getting hotter all the time; and I suspect it won’t be long before it’s adios Uncle Sam.   I guess we’re both learning.   So, you and the Mrs. are going home.”

      “Not exactly,” Ted said, and they had to laugh.

      “You know, it’s beautiful in Mindanao right now,” Don said.   “With the dense forest and that blue sky and the blue sea, it’s heaven.   Don went on to explain why he left Mindanao this time, a heaven to him, and how his heaven had turned into hell.   The Moros held Marawi, and the college there probably had as many Muslim students attending it as any other college in the Philippines.   Very colorful people and Don had always felt safe there and enjoyed the lake.

     “What happened?”

      “Give me an opportunity to explain.   I’ve got to get this out of my system. ”

      Ted asked him again what happened.

      “I am easy, generally.   And I’d been to Marawi many times and knew the town.   I had no sense of fear, but I know when my gut tells me something’s wrong.   I know it’s a warning I need to heed.   Neither the students nor I were looking for trouble; rather I thought one of them was showing off with a Kris.   He had it in his hand.   High above his head.   Yelling.   I don’t play around with someone with a knife, or running amok.   As far as I was concerned, my life was in danger, period, no ands or buts.   By the time he was stopped by a bullet, he had decapitated someone.   In fact, soon after my arrival in idyllic Marawi, I caught a glimpse of him running and yelling, somewhat like a kamikaze.   Marawi, where there are all of those intellectuals.   My stomach, which is very weak, and was upset from a bumpy bus ride anyway, couldn’t take all the gore; but since I was only temporarily there, I fled; and I won’t go back.

      The last thing they did was to check the Peace Corps office for mail.   From home they sent them a care package.   Susan swooned over the chocolate chip cookies.   The few people watching her said she wept, or did she die and go to heaven?

      They almost didn’t make their flight.

Randy Ford

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Randy Ford Author- emotional vomit

      Don found them.   They hadn’t expected to see him again.   He explained in his quirky way that he found heaven in Mindanoa.   Then he said, “But heaven wasn’t enough for me.   At age twenty-one, twenty-two, getting a degree, Chase Western, no, none of it was enough, not for me.   In Mindanoa, I was reading about Venezuela, and down there in heaven it had become required reading.   Until then I hadn’t thought of Venezuela, and then finally I was able to see where I wanted to go.   Indeed before coming up here, I hadn’t thought it through; but now, seeing how you two are ready to go, I’m ready too.   I’ve had enough Peace Corps.   So I’m off to Venezuela.   Why Venezuela?   I haven’t a clue.”   And they all three laughed.

       Late one night, right before they were scheduled to leave, Susan woke Ted up.   She couldn’t sleep.  She was in the lightweight summer pajamas she always wore to bed.

      She said, “Ted, I’ve got to get out of this room.   It’s too quiet.   This is not Manila.”   Until then she had thought she was some place else, or had she been dreaming?   In deed, as she lay there next to Ted, she laid out all their plans for the week, including all they had to do when they got to Singapore in a day or two.   But she was so completely in charge that she could hardly believe it, so full of energy that she could no longer lie there next to her husband.   She had to wake him up.   For some time she realized she no longer heard the clamor and the chaos of Manila, that she had grown accustomed to it and had concluded that Manila had become her home.   She had tried to sleep.   She was reminded of all of the kids she taught in school and felt sure that one of them would one day become president of the Philippines.   To hell with Marcos!   Who never showed up!   The bastard!   What had her all fired up?   Now what?   A flight to Singapore.

      She recalled how daunting those first flights were: first to San Francisco, then Hawaii.   How when she landed there in Hawaii she was expected to be someone else, to have changed on the flight.   She was constantly tempted to quit.   There was always more training, more reflection, so on.   She found she first had to do what? She first had to decide what.   Just as she now needed to decide.   “Ted get up!”


      “Let’s go for a walk.   Something’s missing.”

      “At this hour?”

     “Yes!”   She wanted to say, “You’ve dragged me half way around the world and now you want me to” and of course she couldn’t/wouldn’t say it right.   Forget all those bad memories.   “Ted get up!”

      They went to the elevator and there was no elevator operator at that time of night.   They looked for the fire escape when Susan insisted that she needed air.   She had lived through an earthquake.   So she could live through this.

       She had never confided her doubts to Ted in any comprehensible way, and he started talking about how he wished they could afford to buy a jeepney, an untouched jeepney with all the color, pomp and circumstance, and tour the world in it.   She told him that since age four she had been scared to death.   Yes, age four.   Did he hear her?   All he did all the time was talk about Borneo, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand; and in so doing, he once again left her behind.   Stand your ground girl.

      “Ah, he said, “But we’d have find a way of shipping the darn thing.”

       When he said that, she didn’t know what he was talking about.

      It was a typical night.   She asked to be held.   She was learning.   He held her tight.   Ted felt how she relaxed in his arms.   She returned to the same things out of her past over and over again: masturbating by definition.   She was learning to forget to edit.   Many might’ve found the exercise passe and even useless, but it wasn’t to her.   She was doing well and mostly by herself.   How often had she remembered her father doing everything for her and not allowing her to do things for herself?   But what if that wasn’t true?   What difference would it make?

      Susan said, “I don’t know if I can adjust to another place.”

      He said, “I think you can.”

      Walking the streets of Manila.   That was it.   That was all they did for a week.   And without direction.   Perhaps it was because they didn’t need direction.   Manila had become their home.

      She said, “I want you to promise me something, that you won’t die on me.   Just think if something were to happen to you in a place where they didn’t speak English.”

      Randy Ford

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Filed under Randy's Story