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In the Matter of Willie Grayson, a play by Remé A. Grefalda
In the Matter of Willie Grayson by Reme A. Grefalda

 

Palanca Memorial Award for Literature 2000

(QBd Ink premiere performance)
Ira Aldridge Theatre
Howard University
Washington, D.C.

Original Cast

Happy Gail Salinas
Jennifer Eusebio
Per Christian Wolden
Jose Montano Jr.
Michael Nephew
Elijah Gallichio
Luz Froelich
Raf Toledo
Jeffrey Brown
Rod Garcia
Alfred Arganda Jr.
Josef Villanasco
Morgan Miller
Edward Gallichio
Ric Estacio
Wayne Bercut

PROLOGUE

PLACE: Threshold steppes from where souls who enter the human estate depart.

TIME: Backward & Forward

Scene opens to two figures carrying luggage in to the center of the stage from STAGE LEFT. The stage floor is filled with cloud balloons so that characters' feet cannot be seen. The Mentor Spirit is more anxious than his charge, a soul impatient to get on with his journey.


I will learn it! I tell you I will—in time.


Things like these you cannot learn in time. You learn it once-with your heart. How much more can I impress it on you? There is no time where we stand! If you learn in your heart, you carry it with you throughout life. Now repeat what you must know by heart.


"I believe with all my heart
That I am . . . surely . . . uh. . .indelibly-

Soul stamps his foot, sending his Mentor into peals of laughter that echoes through the space. Both are sitting with blue and gray balloons under their armpits, laughing at Soul's mangling of the oath. Soul helps the Mentor who is still sending out peals of laughter, to his feet; Mentor beckons him back because Soul is not quite ready to go to Earth.

"I believe . . . uh . . .I believe-
I believe with all my heart
That I am solely
And individually accountable
For every action that I take.
By my hand, by my will,
By my doing and my undoing,
The atoms in the universe move
In directions unbeknownst to me.
Life in all its forms
Ebb and flow.
What I begin, others continue.
As it has always happened
And will happen
To souls gifted
And chosen
For the human estate."

Both face each other with a satisfaction they can savor.


And you do understand all that you said . . .


Sure! (Sees his doubting look) Hey, we've been through this a dozen times. I know! Believe me, I know. (Convincing him) I am responsible for whatever actions I initiate.

I alone! I alone! I will not point to another because no one can coerce me if I'm not halfway persuaded. I am accountable-


Be it the ordinary things that mortals do-


And more so for the extraordinary things they are capable of doing-that I will be capable of doing. I and I alone will be judged on my initiative. No one else.


No one else.


(Shift) By the way, what am I capable of doing down there?


(Beat) We'll both find out!


I thought you said you had the experience!


And pray tell me, where did you get that impression? That I am experienced in this sort of thing? You were given to me ... so I can impart-I've taught you the only lesson I am capable of teaching. Beyond that, I am . . . (raises his hands in total unknowing and is resigned with the mystery).


Yeah, but you'll look out for me, right? You'll fill me in when you know?


(Nods wearily) Yes, yes . . . By the way-when you cross that great divide, you will lose all memory of . . . whomever you've encountered on this side-


Why? You just said I would keep these things in my heart!


And so you will, except for our bonding. You will have no memory of us.


Sure I'm forgetful, but not that way. How can you be so pessimistic!


On the contrary-


There you go! See! You just contradicted yourself. We'll talk about this when we meet again. We'll meet again, right?


Perhaps. Now, go! Go. Now!

LIGHT SPECIAL EFFECTS as Soul disappears into the mounds of balloons and fog.

BLACKOUT

 

They glory in the fact that they can propagate and expand the race, increase their time, perfect their physical strains. And yet, what you will witness is movement directed towards Extinction.

ACT I

PLACE: The Limbo of Lost Kites.

TIME: Forward

SCENE: Kites of different sizes fill the space. Damaged kites, kites with tails, without tails. Huge paper airplanes of various colors fill the background. Chairs and tables from a previous night's party. Leftover strings of bunting from the same celebration like a clothesline. ENTER Solstice, the Mentor Spirit, carrying a pail and mop, dressed casually in a pair of jeans and a loose bright checkered lumberjack shirt. Begins to slop the floor with a mop. A young person, Bernardo, in a pair of tights but bare from the waist up, is unstacking the chairs.

ENTER Luigi; in his bleach white sleeveless undershirt, suspenders over dark tux trousers, muscular, in-charge attitude. Whistles to catch the attention of Solstice who has his back turned to the audience.

Solstice turns just as Luigi tosses a fancy studded collar-bib and a man's jacket in the air, which Solstice catches, drops the mop handle, which Bernardo as if by ESP stretches his hand to catch before it falls on the floor. Bernardo finishes the mopping and goes over and assists Solstice with collar-bib, which Solstice has just worn with the reverse side out. Solstice hands him the jacket. Bernardo wears the oversized jacket over his naked top. Solstice adjusts and decides to button the jacket on the boy, which the boy promptly unbuttons.

ENTER a tall and serene figure also dressed in a robe. Known as the Sage & Recorder of Indelible Deeds In Search of Motives, he carries a heavy-looking folio-type book which has no pages. He looks around for a table, but Luigi has already anticipated his look and guides the Sage to it. The Sage reaches for the bunting and moves it, passing a shirt, socks and other sundries being left as if to dry, after which appear sheets of oversized pages, which the Sage nimbly unhooks and places in his folio.

ENTER a shuffling bent figure carrying a bag of yarns, one of which is a completed ball trailing on the floor. Knitting needles stick out of the bag and unopened "mail". Bernardo jumps to give a hand to the figure who is also draped in a robe, and dragging its hem. She is the Mother of All Missing in Action. Bernardo shows signs of deference to this figure.

Luigi silently directs positions. Solstice is seated on a chair on top of a table. The Sage is at one end with his folio; and the Mother is on the other end seated with her bag of yarns and envelopes and has begun "weaving" one yarn into a ball with Bernardo whose arms hold the "loose" yarn. Luigi steps up to the center and announces to the audience.


(In full pomp and poised as herald) Hear ye! Hear ye! The Tribunal to Hear the Reasons Why Wars Are Started is now in session! Enter and All rise! The honorable panel of adjudicators: Bernardo, the Unborn; MamaMIA, Mother of All Missing in Action; the Sage & Recorder of Indelible Deeds In Search of Motives; and Solstice, the Mentor of One Lesson and One Lesson Only. And Myself, Luigi. I am-.


(Impatient, but gracious, shuts up Luigi's explanation. And Luigi retreats, thankful for the interruption) Thank you, thank you, Luigi, most esteemed collector of lost kites! Honorable Ones, we open Session Number four million seven hundred eighty four thousand, six hundred fifty-seven (#4,784,657) with the continuing list of sentences. All parties from the previous session have entered pleas of Nolo Contendere and are awaiting our decision. I have additional documents of recommendations to reduce particular sentences, but if the Tribunal will indulge me, I can prove that these have been thought out quite creatively and will not require the additional mercy of this Bench-

Solstice confers by exchanged glances with the Knitter, Bernardo and Luigi, and after two beats, all nod their assent. Bernardo steps up.


Eternal Sage, permit me to say that we see no reason to doubt that you have assigned sentences most creatively apropos to each party. Please proceed!

"Sentences" and discussion ensue in sotto voce while Luigi steps forward, i.e., "leaving" the scene. "IN THE MATTER OF..." followed by mumbling is constantly heard.

Bernardo is the obtainer of signatures after each sentence is pronounced. He darts back and forth among the others, interrupting the monologue. The sound of the gavel is an assent and punctuates the following:


(To the audience) You are so lucky! We don't give out prizes here, but your being here will expedite your own tribunal encounter in the future. If you feel you must speak up on some issues related to the case, simply state them clearly in your mind and the stenographer will beam your thoughts to the appropriate staffmember. (Notices and points to a latecomer) Excuse me! Excuse me! Being late, you must occupy the seats in front. The better so I can keep my eyes on you. (To all) You know how latecomers are-they always tend to leave early. (Waiting for the Sage, begins cue) EXTINCTION seems to be-


-the logical end of carnage and slaughter. But does such an end frighten mere mortals? They glory in the fact that they can propagate and expand the race, increase their time, perfect their physical strains. And yet, what you will witness is movement directed towards Extinction. (Returns to the procedure.) "In the Matter of Hideyashi Toyotomi. Year: 1592!" (In sotto voce confers with others, hands out a parchment to Bernardo who brings it to MamaMia to be signed, then moves to Luigi for his signature; proceeds to Solstice, and signs himself, then hands it back to the Sage.)


(After signing document) Oh, I know what you're about to say-"Nonsense! There are replacements, . . . babies and babies about to be born!" But look at him (Pointing to Bernardo). HE has yet to be born. Maybe never! He remains here, hoping for a glimpse of parents who may or may not be his.


. . "In the Matter of 20th of September 1066." (Sotto conference. Repeats handing parchment paper to Bernardo, etc.)


And her (pointing to The Mother), we have allowed her into every session because she too is searching for an explanation. She carries an inability to accept the idea that soldiers simply vanish. Disappear. Are unaccounted for. Lost in the quagmire that is War. Her presence, her silent spirit pervades. Heavier with each war, but it is a spirit not quite oppressive enough to end humanity's need to conduct wars. It is perplexing. This need for a face-to-face ENCOUNTER with the possibility of EXTINCTION.


. . . "In the Matter of Willie Grayson-"


Oops. Excuse me, Gotta go!


(Removing collar-bib) I recuse myself. (Turning to Luigi) If you will be so kind as to facilitate the change . . .

The pyramid changes. Bernardo steps out and holds out his hand to MamaMIA who struggles with her "baggage". Time passing is evident in her knitting, which began during the announcement of cases with a short beginning of a scarf and now has grown at least 2 feet long. She seats herself. Bernardo stands beside her holding a "script". Every now and then during the proceedings he will refer to it, flips pages and whispers to her. Solstice, meanwhile, has been given another more colorful robe. He faces the audience parallel to the Sage.


It was I who ushered in this . . . uh. . Matter for consideration. I will presume on the best motives of our subject. However, in the final analysis, I alone must foray in search for an answer to the Tribunal's Question. To hear the reasons why this particular odyssey began-


Why incidents escalate into war-


Why battle positions are in place NOT to contain skirmishes and confrontations-


But pushed to the brink by a chain of motives,
All unconnected
To arrive at decisions
All irreversible!
Carried out by minions.
Heartbreaking altruism,
Ego and power, power and ego
Extinction of Them,
To allow "Us" and "We" to flourish.
The Meek must give way to Might.


(Quietly) But the Meek will proliferate
No matter what . . . Might.

A young soldier ENTERS "BLOWN IN" backwards and falls to the floor. He stands unsure where to place himself. Bernardo runs down to meet him, takes him by the hand while scrutinizing his face. Leads him to center stage.


Excuse me, Kind Sir, but . . . are you by any chance a parent?


Huh?


Tell him anything you want. He will never be born, but that doesn't stop him from wondering what a parent looks like.


(Turning to The Sage) I don't understand. (To Bernardo) If you would be so kind, tell me-what am I doing here? Is this MY dream or yours?


Dream? Dream! Now, that's original! You're dead, man! "Wake up!" (Laughs out loud) And don't you bother trying to smell the roses. There aren't any here! (Delighted at his own joke and laughs heartily. Bernardo thinks it's funny too. Others slowly agree with a smile. Knitter, however, ponders for a beat and then cackles away in laughter. She got it! Luigi turns to the boy) Bernardo, this man is here to assist us. It is possible that at some point in his life he may have met a parent, but he never was one!


How can you tell?


Just look at him! (The Sage & Bernardo give the newcomer an up-and-down appraisal.)


Stop tormenting him! Enough! (Beckons to child who runs up to her and whispers from his "script".) Who is this (pointing to Grayson) . . . anyway? And why, Solstice, have you brought so "unseemly" a soul who doesn't impress me as being anywhere near the type of instigator, strategist, nor a high financier of techno battles, nor a mercenary-much less have the cudgels to START a war! A war! Him?

Waving her hand she knocks down a glass of water, Grayson moves forward, pulls out a handkerchief from his pocket to catch the dripping water and marbles fall out of his pocket. Bernardo picks up one and curiously fingers it. Grayson is on all fours grabbing the other marbles and shows the boy how the marbles are played. Soldier and boy are playing on the floor. Solstice confers with MamaMia & the Sage. They stare at the soldier & the boy.


(Bows to MamaMia and turns to Grayson) For the record, state your name, sir. (The Sage opens the folio and begins writing in flourishing movements.)


(Looks up at Solstice and for a single beat hesitates in faint recognition) Do I know you-? (Changes his mind.) Can't be. (Beat)


Did I fall asleep? Did I miss something? (To Grayson) Do you mind mumbling louder?


Will. Willie. Private William Grayson. Volunteer, Fifty Fourth Nebraska Unit, United States Army. To assist in the war against Spain.


(Sniper shot and out of the blue) How long have you been dead, Grayson?


IRRELEVANT!

MamaMia slams the gavel. The Sage stops writing with a flourish. Bernardo returns the marbles. Willie gestures for him to keep them. They have become kindred playmates. Two beats. Then Solstice continues gently to Grayson.


Explain the title "Volunteer".


What services were you volunteering?


Why would anyone volunteer for . . . a war?


I don't mean to be rude, but if I am dead why should I answer any of your questions? I mean, what good would they do?


He's got a point, Solstice! What good could come from any of his answers? Let's bring in the main culprits responsible for the carnage! From both sides!


By his answers, Private Grayson will inform himself, and learning thus, hopefully, he will inform others.


(Turns to Grayson and with more force) Explain the title "Volunteer".

LIGHTS CHANGE to focus only on Grayson as he steps forward and explains to the audience amidst SOUNDS of cannons and gunfire cracking, boots marching and scuffling. FREEZE & CURTAINS ON Tribunal set.

 

We were primed to attack. Instead we sat out the days wondering if we were to return home with the shame of never having spent a shell in battle.

ACT II

PLACE: The Cavern of Unwanted Memories.

TIME: The Past

Scene 1: 54th Nebraska Regiment Sentry Post

Grayson is alone on a bare and darkened stage.


We were called volunteers. We volunteered to fight. (Turns round and round as if being spinned, stops, collapses and "wakes up" to revisit the forgotten time.) But as days passed, I became less sure. . . . It was as if the fighting would never come. We were primed to attack. Instead we sat out the days wondering if we were to return home with the shame of never having spent a shell in battle. (SOUNDS to return him to some memory) While the higher-ups argued and strategized, we sat around and waited. I don't think there was one of us who wouldn't have preferred the war to be over and be shipped back home. Why the delay? We spent the days building our arsenal but with no battle to fight. If we killed a few gugus accidentally, it was...to learn them a lesson, and you bet they learned it! Why, instead of being grateful that we drove the Spaniards away, those damn insurgents wanted us out!


Miller! Grayson!


(Responds in attention) Yessuh! (EXITS running towards the wings as stage darkens.)

 

...there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God's grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellowmen for whom Christ also died!

Scene 2: Cosmic Galleria Where Portraits of The Powers That Be Are Hung

Two gilded oversized portrait frames are lowered from the ceiling as two figures enter from center rear and are seen from the waist up posing for a photographer or portrait artist. As they talk they step out of the frames. They are dressed to the teeth from the waist up and one is in tsinelas and in boxer underwear (Aguinaldo), while the other is in a suit jacket but similarly in shorts and stockinged feet (MCKINLEY).


[Excerpted from Resistance in Paradise, p.171 "Aguinaldo's Case Against the United States"] You repeat constantly the dictum that we cannot govern ourselves-

:
[Schirmer, The Philippines Reader, pp. 22-23] I would like to say just a word about the Philip-pine . . .uh . . .hrrumph, Philip- peen business. I have been criticized a good deal about the Philippines, but don't deserve it. The truth is I didn't want the Philippines, and when they came to us, as a gift from the gods, I did not know what to do with them-


With equal reason, you might have said the same thing some fifty or sixty years ago of Japan; and little over a hundred years ago, it was extremely questionable, when you also were rebels against the English Government, if you could govern yourselves-

:
When the Spanish War broke out, Dewey was at Hong Kong, and I ordered him to go to Mah-nill-lah and to capture and destroy the Spanish fleet. And he had to! Because, if defeated, he had no place to refit on that side of the globe, and if the Dons were victorious they would likely cross the Pacific and ravage our Oregon and California coasts. And so he had to destroy the Spanish fleet, and did it! But that was as far as I thought then-


Now the moral of all this obviously is-Give us the chance!

:
When I next realized that the Philippines had dropped into our laps, I confess I did not know what to do with them. I sought counsel from all sides-Democrats as well as Republicans-but got little help.


We want the chance as free men to rule ourselves! Treat us exactly as you demanded to be treated at the hands of England when you rebelled against her autocratic methods.

:
I thought first we would take only Manila; then Luzon; (Stroll out of the frame) THEN THE OTHER ISLANDS ALSO-!


(March in step out of the frame) "LAY DOWN YOUR ARMS", you say-!

:
I walked the floor of the White House night after night until midnight; and I am not afraid to tell you, Gentlemen, that I went down on my knees and prayed Almighty God for light and guidance more than one night. And one night late it came to me this way-I don't know how it was, but it came-!


(To the audience) Did you lay down your arms when you too were rebels and the English, under good King George, demanded your submission?

:
One, that we could not give them back to Spain-THAT would be cowardly and dishonorable. Two, that we could not turn them over to France and Germany, our commercial rivals in the Orient-THAT would be BAD BUSINESS and discreditable. Three, that we could not leave them to themselves-they were UNFIT to govern themselves-and they would soon have anarchy and misrule over there worse than Spain's was. AND four, that there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God's grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellowmen for whom Christ also died!

(FROM REAR STAGE, their respective tailor/seamstress/ valet approach them with their "finished" trousers. As both are being dressed . . . .)


(While being helped with his trousers) How in the name of all that is serious do you DEMAND that we shall do what you, being rebels against the English (Reenters frame when completely dressed. EXIT valet) during your time of revolt, refused to do? (Freeze)

:
And then I went to bed, and went to sleep, and slept soundly. The next morning I sent for the chief engineer of the War Department (our mapmaker) and I told him to put the Philippines on the map of the United States! (Reenters frame when completely dressed. EXIT Tailor.) And there they are, and there they will stay while I am President! (Freeze)

ENTER Willie, crouching as if in combat mode. Both McKinley and Aguinaldo turn to look and GLARE at him. DIM LIGHTS on framed figures. CURTAINS.

 

Damn, we were all itching
to kill the niggers.

Scene 3: 54th Nebraska Regiment Sentry Post


The butt of my rifle was soaked with the sweat from my armpit. It was more than the heat. It was the waiting. Even the nights barely cooled down. The heat was stifling. The mosquitoes rampant and unrelenting. And they were there-small and dark-skinned, staring sullenly from across the bridge-some of them shouting; others having a time of their lives laughing at our discomfort.
We came to fight the Spanish. Why NOW were we pointing our cannons at these dirty Filipinos? Whose side were we on?
Ten days ago we received orders to advance the campsite, encroaching on the insurgents' turf, pushing them beyond the bridge. And still no word to fire! (Recalling the feverish excitement of the final eruption and the start of the war) . . . Damn, we were all itching to kill the niggers.

BLACKOUT.

 

Scene 4: Post-Treaty of Paris Meeting

Conference "Tug of War" between Yankees who face off with Filipino military command and civilian leaders. Military men in their gala whites, flanked by statesmen in tux. Behind each faction are huge signs: "PILIPINAS REPUBLIKO" and "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA". Each faction is separated by an "invisible" bar as they move in rotation on stage, each side being pushed by inches as they spin slowly. SOUNDS of percussive instruments to punctuate their movement. MARK TWAIN is an observer of both sides.

Apolinario Mabini, the paraplegic in a wheelchair, breaks away from the percussive exchange. A young boy pushes his wheelchair from upper stage towards side stage. Following him a distance away is Don Pedro Paterno.

Twain on stage left. Filipinos on stage right. Freeze.

 

The United States Government's game,
it seems, is to grab a weak little people's country and give it our liberties for theirs without
their asking!

Scene 5: Dockside Press Interview


[Excerpts from interviews and writings] (addresses an invisible press) You ask me about this word "IMPERIALISM". Well, I have formed views about that question.

Now, there is this case of the Philippines. I have tried hard, and yet I cannot for the life of me comprehend how we got into that mess. Perhaps we could not have avoided it-perhaps it was inevitable that we should come to be fighting the natives-but I cannot understand it, and have never been able to get at the bottom of the origin of our antagonism to the natives. I thought we should act as their protector-not try to get them under our heel.

We were to relieve them from Spanish tyranny to enable them to set up a government of their own, and we were to stand by and see that it got a fair trial. It was not to be a government according to our ideas, but a government that represented the feeling of the majority of the Filipinos, a government according to Filipino Ideas. That would have been a worthy mission for the United States.

Well, gentlemen, it seems that that is not the case! The United States Government's game, it seems, is to grab a weak little people's country and give it our liberties for theirs without their asking! No longer are we playing by our American democratic traditions, but we have incorporated the rules of the European Game! We have imported our Imperialism from monarchical Europe!

By the Treaty of Paris, we acquired the islands called the Philippines by right of conquest and Uncle Sam paid 20 million dollars to Spain. To Spain! We couldn't buy them off the original owners, who wouldn't sell. We HAD TO buy them off somebody, to try to cover up the obtrusive fact that Uncle Sam's seizure of them was theft.

Has it gone unnoticed by our statesmen that our own republic was born from a revolution against an empire? After this so-called conquest of a people revolting against a 500 year old empire-yes, that is how long the oppression of the Filipinos lasted-and aspiring for a republic as free as our own, they've looked up to us! How in the name of all that we hold Christian can we hold up our heads and call this . . . our land, the bastion of democratic ideals? Consider us now as in the brink of an empire, ruled by empire builders!

Print this as the truthful fact we live by:

Our leaders wiped their feet upon the Declaration of Independence when they set their minds upon the conquest of a newly formed island republic halfway around the globe! Is it possible then that the insatiable greed of our damn human race will lead all future republics to their demise? (Holds up his hands gesturing "No Questions!" and EXITS)

 

Patience at this time will not float our economy. It is imperative we seek peace now. The United States is offering that stability.

Scene 6: A Conclave of Filipino Leadership


We have no reason to doubt their efforts. Our soldiers should know better than to insult them. These are officers, they deserve the respect their rank commands.


And you assume that they respect our officers! Could they have even entered the city if we had not pushed our offensive against the Spanish units here. We fought and WE won. While they receive the credit! Open your eyes. The Spanish dons are not about to surrender to us indios, but they lose not an iota of dignity surrendering to the americanos.


There is reason to trust the Americans. They only want to help. Our people are tired of war.


Correction! Your people, Don Paterno, are tired of this war. Did you expect to simply ride the crest of the Victory wave-and now in the face of uncertainty, you opt for peace? Ilustrados like you care only for the winning side. I wonder why.


Señor Mabini, I protest!


Your protest is duly noted. But Don Paterno, these people, the ones who began this revolution are putting their lives in the thick of battle because they know what they're fighting for.


They are fighting for the peace they deserve! A new beginning under the patronage and protection of a democratic nation.


You are fighting for peace, for the peace to be able to return to your former lives, your haciendas, your cosmopolitan ambitions!The people are fighting for freedom! Freedom to govern their own country, to be free of foreign domination.


And how long do you think that freedom will last in the hands of ruffians, peasants, provincianos? How long before anarchy reigns, destroying the economic and the industrial beginnings of our country? The Americans are not the Spaniards! They are different.


They are foreigners. No foreigner can love this land as its own people do. We have given birth to a new nation. Let no foreign government impose its righteous plans on our beginnings. If we are to be governed, let us be governed by our own fledgling leadership. We have a right to-

ENTER Aguinaldo in the midst of their argument.


A right to fall flat on our faces? Gentlemen, gentlemen, for now we have to be patient. Wary, but patient. We have won the respect of America. But the world is watching us. Are we now to have factions squabbling within our ranks? This would whet the appetites of the Germans, the French and every colonial power in Europe. I hasten to add, even the Japanese.


Señor Presidente, I wish to point out that our economy during this unstable period is suffering from lack of direction. Factories have closed down. Workers have left the machines idle. The industries we have built, the crops in fields waiting for harvest-all these make up our nation-and the markets abroad will not wait for the war to end but will find other sources to fill their demand. Patience at this time will not float our economy. It is imperative we seek peace now. The United States is offering that stability. My business contacts in America are convinced we are lucky to have their government interested in our welfare.


At last! The truth! For business reasons-


Señor, I object vehemently! Are you questioning the veracity of my patriotism! Bearers of poison such as you are inflicted with their own brew!


Gentlemen, gentlemen! You forget that at present this is a military maneuver. A stalemate. That is all. The Americans have to save face. We must give them reason to leave with their flags raised high. They did not send their military might across the ocean simply to enter Manila and then sail out. As a nation founded on the principles of democracy, America supports our cause. From a military point of view, it is imperative that we give them no reason for any altercation. They are our guests and we are their hosts.


Señor Presidente, I strongly advise that no concessions be made to our so-called guests-unless it is in writing. Let us not make the mistake of exchanging handshakes and verbal agreements. No civilized nation would do less. Let the head of their country deal with you as head of ours. Let it state for the record that the United States of America is dealing with the Filipino Republic.


Your remarks stem from sheer paranoia, Señor Mabini. This is no longer the era of common katipuneros against their Spanish masters. We are entering the next century when nations conduct their business precisely on the word of honor exchanged by genteel and educated statesmen.


Sir, you are addressing a proud Katipunero. May I remind you that it was the common people who first raised their bolos against Spanish oppression. Unless these common people are rewarded with the freedom they pin their hopes on, do not undermine their efforts in the name of genteel aspirations. Are we-their champions-mere caciques to a new master? I see another foreign domination in the horizon if we, who claim to lead this new nation, compromise for lack of tenacity to weather through the suffering and inconvenience of this war. General Aguinaldo, this is WAR. If the Americans gain an inch, the Filipino nation is prepared to go to war. (Rings a bell and a boy runs in to push his wheelchair out. EXIT Mabini. ENTER soldier out of breath.)


Soldier, what is the meaning of this intrusion?


Sir, Heneral Antonio Luna is on his way here! (Paterno takes his leave. EXIT)


At ease! How far?


Less than 15 kilometers, sir!


How many men are with him?


He rides alone, sir!


Inform the Magdalos.

BLACKOUT

 

Scene 7: February 4, 1899

Sentry outposts. Choreography of building tension and hostilities.
1. American sentries pacing and crossing each other.
2. Flashing light signals in the distance.
3. Soldiers cock their rifles in the dark.
4. "HALT!"
5. A flare lights up the sky, figures of four Filipino soldiers are briefly seen.
6. "HALT!" followed by gunfire ("I GOT ONE!") More gunfire, explosion.
7. Bells pealing in the distance, screams, flames borne by dancers, silhouette of running soldiers. CHAOS on stage.
8. Civilians: women with infants, children, farmers rushing out. From front wings, four tall American soldiers line up to stop them from coming to the front of the stage.
9. One insurgent climbs up a rope ladder ready to hoist a red flag. Shot is fired by one of the four Americans. Body dangles from rope ladder still clutching the flag.
10. Americans surround the civilians ("Hamleting") and push them to the rear till they exit out to the back.
11. Women bearing infant coffins in procession; bells continue pealing.
12. Americans are pursued from the Stage Rear by bolo-wielding insurgents. Raised bolos gleam in the dark. Hacking sound and soldiers screaming.

BLACKOUT

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