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"...in less than a
year the land was transformed by promise and command
into a howling wilderness."

ACT III

PLACE: The Limbo of Lost Kites

TIME: Present-Semi-darkness punctuated by pin lights and a lamp lit by the Sage.

 

The Limbo of Lost Kites

SCENE: Return to Cosmic Tribunal. MamaMia is dozing off in her seat. The boy Bernardo is flipping through computer printouts. Stretches one out as if to play with it, reads and hands it to Luigi, who waves to the Sage. Solstice is preoccupied and pacing


Willie, when you fired that shot, did you know what was bound to follow?


(Reading from printout) Look at-Listen to the difference among the population count! Americans of Japanese descent-847,562. Americans of Cuban descent, 1,043, 932! Americans of Filipino descent, 1,406,770!

All focus on his reading, Willie stands up and looks over Bernardo's shoulder. MamaMia is still dozing.


Source! What source is that from?


That pile? That's the Census Data. 1990, right?


(Nodding. Flipping through more printouts) The State of Pennsylvania has 12,160 Filipinos! Maryland, 19,376! Vermont has 200! (Laughs)


The waves of migration began during U.S. reparation starting with the Pensionado Students, then the migrant workers called the Manongs, then the professionals, doctors, nurses. Why, in the '90s, they were known as the fastest growing-


(Incensed) That is not possible! You're saying-They live, breathe and work even in Nebraska? (Exchange looks between The Sage and Luigi, who checks computer printout data.)


Nebraska . . . Nebraska...?


Uh huh! 1,786 Filipino Americans in the late '90s! (DING!) Oops, one more just born! 1,787.


DIGRESSION UNCALLED FOR! (MamaMia wakes up startled and starts banging her gavel. All retreat at Solstice's angry outburst.) Willie, country side, farms, homes, forests, towns, lagoons, fishing villages-burnt to a smoking black stubbled ground after the fourth of February, 1899, and in less than a year, the land was transformed by promise and command into a howling wilderness. You read the news when you got home, didn't you, Willie?


That's not fair! If I didn't shoot first, he would have shot me! You can't expect me not to act in the heat of battle. I was trained for this. Something had to give! And that night, for the first time, we fired every load of ammunition we had!


"WE"? How many of you fired? A squad? A battalion?


What are you getting at? We-


A whole regiment sent out a simultaneous fusillade that started this war? Which general-


It was a military plan! We were following-


Which officer cried out "Fire!"? Whose orders were you following?


I was the sentry that night! It was my post. I had orders-


Orders? (Turning fiercely to The Sage & Luigi) Look up the orders! Dated Third or Fourth of February, 1899! Orders to fire in the dark even if unprovoked! (Sage & Luigi search the books)


I called out "Halt!" And all I heard back was laughter. They could have crossed the line and shot me first! We fired on orders-


What was the order, Willie? Who is "We"? How many in your unit lined up in response to this order and rung down the tenuous quiet of that night? (Beat)


(Wringing the letters and quietly interrupting) How many-missing in action? How many widows left behind? Orphans?


(Sobbing): What does it matter? I fired! It was war. Miller was with me. He fired, too. Why is it always on me? I refuse to accept sole responsibility for that night. I refuse to continue with this . . . with this humiliation. It was over and done with! I've been through enough interrogations! I want out!


He wants out!


(Flips pages) Let's see . . . we can recess and continue "In the Matter of Willie Grayson" after Session Number-


Well, do you want a postponement, Willie?


Yes! No! What do you mean postponement?


Willie, there is no avoiding-If not now, sometime later. (Bernardo runs to Willie, takes him aside and whispers to him. They converse in silence. Willie turns to the Tribunal. By his posture he acquiesces to a continuation. Bernardo leads him to the center and stands with his back to the audience beside Willie. Bernardo has a hand on Willie's shoulder.)


Thank you, Willie. Did you know when you fired that shot, that you were unleashing-


Somewhere in me I knew that when I fired that shot, it would be the end to all that waiting. I knew I was responsible . . . That night, I alone . . .


Hold it! Hold it! (Waits for the gavel sound; turns to Grayson) Were you coerced to say that? (Turns to Solstice) Solstice, it's called browbeating.


No. I don't think so. According to-here take a look at all these (picks up several books and hands these to Bernardo and Luigi). He fired the first shot that started the war! (They confer, each flipping a book and nodding.)


What do historians know about war? They want to pin the blame! They have to have a name! I was the sentry that night. So I started the war? No! (Catches Bernardo's startled look.)


Soldiers crossed that bridge every day. You yourself did it. That was an open neutral ground. Why in tarnations on the night of the date in question did you fire?


All week long, the whole thing was building up. When the order was given that we were to change from whites to khakis, we knew the action would begin. Anyone would have done what I did. I was the sentry that night. I fired . . .uh . . .uh-(Bernardo, his back turned, slumps sleepily with his head on Willie's lap.)


A warning shot?


That's right, Solstice! It could have been a warning shot.


Was it a warning shot, Willie? Were you bragging when you were recorded as saying that that night you had the satisfaction of-what was it you said?


(In torment and in tears) I had the satisfaction of shooting my second Filipino. I was bragging. And, yes! I alone am responsible for-

Willie's torment breaks away to a recognition of Solstice amidst the quiet moaning of the spirits. The Tribunal Members exchange glances. MamaMia stands to look at Willie with compassion. Satisfied by his admission, she starts to leave, assisted by Luigi. Solstice puts a hand on Willie's shoulder.


(Unbelieving) It's you?

SLOW EXIT: Luigi and MamaMia to respective wings, Sage carries a now asleep Bernardo to the wings. ENTER slowly from the wings: soldiers from the shadow play.


(Tenderly) Yes. Welcome back.


(Quietly) Solstice, whatever I started, it couldn't have lasted long . . . It didn't last long!

Soldier and civilian bodies (from shadow play) collapse all over stage floor, leaving only Solstice and Willie. Tapestry background of endless bodies blend with bodies on stage. Both survey the scene.

LIGHTS FADE TO BLACK OUT AS ALL EXIT.

 

The Tribunal To Hear The Reasons Why Wars
Are Started

ENTER Luigi and the Sage with mops and garbage cans to pick up books, litter and scattered paper as in Act I. They address the audience.


The United States believed that in three months the insurgents would surrender their meager arms. At least, that's what the generals mapped out. The bodies of the dead on the Fifth of February piled high, thrown in trenches to serve as a mass grave.


The Filipinos underestimated the treachery of the Foreigners who came bearing gifts and artillery to help them.


The Americans underestimated the deceptive resilience of the tattered and shoeless brown savages who refused to submit to another white man's domination.


The so-called Insurgency lasted more than five years even when it was declared officially over two years after the new century.


Aguinaldo was captured by General Funston and swore allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. And the generals of his army followed suit. One by one. And the foot soldiers in droves laid down their arms.


The Thomasites were brought in to educate their little brown brothers.


But still, the fighting raged on. More U.S. regiments were brought in. Not until 1914 could the War Department finally record that the last bullet was fired.


Sixteen years of evading the truth; 16 years of betrayal of one's ideals. Sixteen years of atrocities from both sides erased from the history books. Water tortures. Humiliations, rape, looting and bolo-hacking deaths sanitized for future progeny. Never talked about. Never discussed. Lessons never learned.


Final count in the books! Americans dead: 4,500 volunteers. Filipinos dead: 20,000 fighters. Civilians: 250,000 men, women and children. And the uncountable corpses from epidemic diseases spread by War.


The race to EXTINCTION . . .


Pushed to the brink
By a chain of motives,
All unconnected
To arrive at decisions
All irreversible!
Strategies and mindset of those Above
Fleshed out by minions
In the guise of heartbreaking altruism.
Ego and power, power and ego!
The goal and the prize?
Extinction of Them
To allow "Us" and "We"
To flourish and multiply!
The Meek must give way to THE Might.

(SCREENED slides of peasants fighting, bolos raised, and the face of Macario Sakay, the "bandit", President of the Tagalog Republic)

BLACKOUT. CURTAINS. TRANSITION MUSIC.

 

There is no time where we stand! If you learn in your heart, you carry it with you throughout life.

EPILOGUE

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

TIME: Forward

CURTAINS open to both figures carrying luggage in to the center of the stage from STAGE LEFT. Balloon clouds fill the stage 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. Bernardo, the new soul, runs out excitedly pursued by his Mentor Spirit Willie Grayson.


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 . . .

ECHO the pledge from the Prologue. Recorded voiceover of the child as Willie and Bernardo walk away hand in hand, facing the cyclorama.


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 . . ."

FADE OUT.

CURTAINS.

THE END

© Remé A. Grefalda

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