Tag Archives: Katipunan

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- hating to leave their Philippines

      Without warning, Linda was told she wouldn’t have a job.   The news saddened her, her job as a maid had given her certain creature comforts that she wouldn’t otherwise have had, and she found herself with time off to look for something else.   Susan and Ted weren’t thinking as much of her as fretting over the move.   Yes, they were busy and harried, but who wouldn’t have been given the circumstances.

      Ted’s leaving caught everyone off guard and disappointed them.   Add that to Nick’s sadness over the sudden departure of Elaine, and you have a pretty unhappy guy.   And Sonja had counted on him helping Alfred with Hindi Aco Patay; the revival now scheduled for the dungeons.   Even Susan, in a lament for lost security, said with all sincerity that she hated to leave, but she agreed with Ted that it had become a necessity.

      Soon enough they got around to telling Don.   Don hadn’t been around.   The story was that he had found himself another Filipina friend and that she had provided him with an alternative place to crash.   Somehow you’d think they’d tell Don that they decided to leave the Peace Corps, but they hadn’t clued him in.   They didn’t plan to return to the States right away.   They were going to fly to Singapore, and from there see.   Susan said, “Ted talks about seeing the world.   But I’m not so sure I’ve lost anything in any of those places he talks about.   I could go home and live happily ever after.   But we can’t now.   I wish we could, but we can’t.”

      There was a special banquet catered for Ted at the fort, to say goodbye and to present him with a plaque.   There was in attendance all of the people with whom he had worked in the theater; for that one night he was the center of attention and basked in it.   He was leaving the Peace Corps, with mixed feelings, he didn’t want to go but he felt he had to.   His mind, however, was on something else; he seemed distant and very much removed.   At the same time the appreciation shown to him was genuine and warm; it was a memory he would take with him.

      Alfred, sitting between Sonja and Susan, speaking to Susan, said in her ear, “Can’t you talk him out of it?   His timing is bad.   It couldn’t be a worse time.   I’ll give his show back.”   But Ted, who two weeks before had every intention of serving out his commitments in the Philippines paid no attention to the pleas, pleas from practically everyone, pleading with him and Susan to stay.   Sonja made a long speech.   Ted would be missed; they had counted on him, but Sonja was gracious enough not to mention that.   She seemed to understand that she couldn’t control everything.   She handed Ted his plaque and shook his hand (for a photo), something she hadn’t done before.   She, in fact, held his hand, as she announced that she had a little surprise for Ted and invited Del Roy Valencia to step forward.   It was at the beginning of the end of the evening, and the Certificate of Appreciation from Amelda would be one more thing Ted would have to ship home, since he definitely wanted to keep it.   But by the next morning it didn’t mean that much to him.   There were memories and photographs.   The year and three quarters had gone by fast, and Ted and Susan, seasoned and toughened, Americans and soon to become expatriates and half a world away from home, as soon be travelers, packed and ready, finally could reminiscent about the time they spent in Manila.

      It was only after they had removed everything from their apartment that they came face to face with the reality that they soon would be on their own.   The first thing they would have to come to gripes with…money: the money the Peace Corps had set aside for them wouldn’t last forever…Ted, unperturbed by that; they obviously would have to find work.   The second thing that they had to worry about was that they wouldn’t have the Peace Corps to rely on, the U.S. Government or anyone else.   What would happen to them if they became seriously ill or injured?   Ted felt absolutely certain that they could find the help they needed when they needed it and that otherwise they could take care of themselves, but as a practical woman, Susan wasn’t so sure.   Bravery comes to us in different ways; experience changes us; and Ted knew that they would always make it.   For him, doubts went away as soon as he started moving.   His obsession with seeing the world might have been fantasy; but they had enough resources to get them to Bangkok, where they had heard they could teach English as a second language.

      Alfred met them a few days later at their favorite Cantonese restaurant on Mabini Street.   It was a special occasion, though quiet and subdued, during which the three of them put up a brave front.   It was an open secret that Alfred had joined the Mormon Church and would serve his time as a missionary in Hawaii.   Talking about this gave Ted and Susan an opportunity to share with him their experiences on the Big Island during Peace Corps training.   And while there was a time when Alfred had nothing good to say about America, now (reversing himself) he said he couldn’t wait to go and wished they could meet him there.   He said he felt sure that they could show him parts of Hawaii that he would otherwise miss.

      Eventually they had to do something with the puppy Alfred gave them; Linda said she would take care of him for them.

Randy Ford

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