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Biag ni Lam-ang

By Pedro Bukaneg
Because his mother conceived him that month.She did not abstain from any edible fruit: tamarind
fruits tender and thin as bamboo strings, kamias, daldaligan, oranges and pomelos;butcher fish,
striped bass fishes of all sorts;clams and bivalves big as plates,maratangtang and sea urchins; sea
algae, aragan and arosip; shucked oysters, crayfish caught with net;blue crabs baited with salelem,
deer tracked down and killed, boar trapped.All of these she tasted on her eating binge. Until
Namungan, the woman Unnayan,wife of Don Juan Panganiban, was done conceiving.And when
they had made wholeAanew soul, her womb grew bigger.
Listen, my husband Don Juan, go check on our bamboo groves in the mountain of Capariaan.
Then make me my reclining bed the bed I shall use Right after giving birth. Being God-given,
my husband Don Juan, the custom cannot be gainsaid.So go cut me some mature bamboo
shoots.
He prepared to leave and once there went around the grove.Then he hailed the strong winds.
As well as the torrential rains and cavernous clouds.Lightning and thunder came in waves, hitting
the groves again and again till it looked like the choicest shoots had been cut down by a trained
bamboo cutter.
It is unseemly, such a shame For me to carry you, bamboos.
They thus went ahead, Don Juan behind them.Having reached the home he came down from,In the
town of Nalbuan,The bamboos arranged themselves in the yard.
My husband Don Juan, Let my reclining bed be of hardwood:This part of molave and gastan;That
part of dangla and guava,Whose barks have been skinned,Then buy me a pot, husband Don
Juan, And a stove to heat my bath-water. And a one-man pot too For our child¶s umbilical
cord.
And having procured all these, he trekkedTo the blackest mountain, upstreamTo fight the
Igorotsthere.And when her time cameTo deliver the blood made whole,There was not one who
was not called:The masseuse-midwife, the fish-hooker, Alisot;The diver Marcos; Pasho the
rich man.Since none of them could induce deliveryThey remembered the womanShrivelled
with age,For she was known for her strong fingers.The
baby
started to talk as soon as theold woman delivered him.
Namungan, my mother, Let my name be Lam-ang when youhave me baptized. And let old man
Guibuan be my godfather. Mother, I must also ask you if I have a father;Whether or not I arose
like water vapor. My son, Lam-ang; if it¶s your father you speak of,You were still in my womb when
he left, Left for the forest, the place of Igorot.
Lam-ang then said:
My mother Namungan, please let your son go, for I would seek Father whom I came from.
Ah, son, brave-man Lam-ang, Please don¶t goes. For your legs are like bamboo string. And
your hands are like needles. And you were born, my son, Even before your ninth month
inside me.
All the more brave-man Lam-ang still persisted.He left for the forest, the place of Igorots.For he
wanted to see the father he sprang from.For he had with him the stone of sagang,The stone of
tangraban, of lao-laoigan,A wild carabao¶samulet.When he passed by a grove of
caña vernal,The shoots bent downFor he also had the amulet of the centipede.

And having reached the river¶sford,He spied the tallest tree around, a rancheria,A landmark of
tattooed Igorotcountry.He cast his eyes aroundAnd saw this root shaped like a stoveAnd went to wash
his one-man pot.And placed his food inside it,The pot of mound-dwelling dwarves,That cannot
suffice for more than one traveller.Having eaten his fill,The man Lam-ang gratefully rested,Amiable
host to the food, the filling grace.He rested his shield against his body;Stuck his spear into the
ground by his feet;Unsheathed his trustworthy campilan from its sheath;Then fell into a light
sleep.Then came the ghost of his father, saying:
My friends Lam-ang, go quickly instead; Right now, they feast around you father¶s skull.
Lam-ang was jolted out of his slumber And at once collected his weapons and started to go,Walking
on and on.Upon reaching the blackest mountainAtMaculili and Dagman,He went directly to
the assembled revelers.For he had seen his father¶s skull facing the East,Caged in the woven
end of a bamboo pole.
Tattooed Igorots, just tell meWhat foul thing my father I came from did. It is only right that it be
paid.Our friend Lam-ang, It is only right; too,That you go back to the houseYou stepped down
from.Or else, You¶ll be the next (to die) After the man who was your father.You tattooed Igorots« I
cannot be satisfied (with your number),You Igorotcaptain,YouBumacas so-named,Communicate
(thru a letter) with every single one,
(The members of your tribe):AtDardarat and Padang,There in houses at Nueva, Dagodong and
Topaan,There in Mamo-ocan and Caoayan,
There in Tupinao and Baodan,Sumbanggue and Luya, Bacong and Sosoba.There in Tebteb
and Caocaoayan.
They came, having received these notes (fromBumacas),In a rush, the tattooed Igorots,From
the neighboring towns nearby,Like chicken attracted to grains thrown to the ground.Oh, their
number indeed was remarkableFor one cannot keep count of their number.He then caressed
his stone of lao-laoigan,And jumped but once to an open field,The man Lam-ang.And the man Lamang made thunderclapsWith his armpits and thighsAs well as with both his arms.Soon they had
crowded around him«As a moving river (of bobbing heads), so to speak«The man Lam-ang.And
having completely surrounded him,They cut loose on him with all their arms,On the man Lamang.Like a torrential rain at dusk,The spears fell (thickly) on him,The man Lam-ang.He embraced
these crisscrossing spearsAs one would acceptBetel nuts passed on to him.And when the
tattooed Igorots had run outOf sharpened bamboo poles, spears, lances,But could not hit him
even just once,The manLam-ang said to them:
Now comes my turn, I unsheath you, campilan, trustworthyweapon.
He struck the ground with this.And the earth with stuck to the blade of the campilan,This he ate² A stick
of rice cakeSo long and large² So their incantations would not affect him
Tattooed Igorots, watch me closely now,
He beckoned to the south windAnd with it lunged at once at them.As though felling down
banana trunks,His bolo bit into flesh two ways, swung left or right,The man Lam-ang.They were mowed
down in an instant.Only one tattooed Igorot was left unharmed,Whom he mocked at, then pinned down.
Now comes your end.
He slashed at his mouth, his eyes;Cut off his ears, arms and legs.He then let him loose, the
tattooed Igorot,Who received no mercy at his hands.That your relatives and tribe may all see you.
And you carabao¶s amulet (help me) for I now bind the lances and spears, my booty and
trophy from the Igorot.

And now I leave you battleground. The blood flowed from the dead IgorotsLike the
Viganriver.He prepared to leave, the manLam-ang, and return,To his mother Namungan.And
having reached the town of Nalbuan:
Mother Namungan, if I may ask,What foulness he perpetrated, the father I sprang from? My
son Lam-ang, If it is your father your speak of,We never quarrelled, not even once. Mother
Namungan, strike the longganThat my younger sisters May all come to my aid, the maidens
numbering twice nine, Nine times nine.That they may shampoo my curly locks At the
Amburayan River. For it had become quite dusty, during the day-long battle yesterday. Mother
Namungan, Do let us pay a visit
To the old barn with molave posts, floored with derraan and polished bellaang. And please ask
them to sweep off the barn¶sdoor,The dead cockroaches, spiders, and their mess. For nine
years have passed Since we last visited Our palay called samusam, Buan and
laguingan, Lumanus and lampadan, Maratectec and macan, gaygaynet and balasang. And
having looked over the barn.Young maidens, pull out the panicles from each name (of
rice variety). And thresh these. And what grains one accumulates thus Is already hers to keep.
And this was done.Young sisters, bind the straws.
Get also the coconut shell tong and pick some embers with it. And younger sisters,
please, return the charcoal later, for it is of paticalang wood. At the Amburayan River we shall
bathe.
At the riverbank,He cast his eyes around and soon saw the bubbles made by the crocodile.
My young sisters burn the rice straw.
Since the straw would not burn,Lam-ang beckoned to the strongest wind² And the straw burst into
flames.The people of San Juan were alarmedBy the sparks that reached them;The people of
Bacnotan ran thinking there was a conflagration.And when they could not control the fire,He
beckoned to the torrential rainAnd the cloud shaped like a precipice.Lightning and thunder came in
wavesAnd only then was the fire extinguished.
Younger sisters, please do not worry whilewaiting For I¶ll just swim awhile And play with the largest
crocodile.
Lam-ang dived into the river Unaware that the crocodileHad gone downstream,While he went
upstream.And when he went downstream,The crocodile went upstream,They soon spotted
each other And began to fight.Lam-ang became angry.
And in one thrust subdued it.Then, he carried it on his back,And beached it,
Younger sisters, take its teeth for a necklace For they can be amulets when one
travels;Younger sisters we must now returnTo the house we came down from. Mother Namungan
please payThe wages of these, my younger sisters, A peso for each step, coming from and
going back tothe house.
And this having been done:
Mother Namungan, please open the second room. And therefrom get my most valuable
clothes. I must change my clothes« Into my striped trousers, embroidered shirt and ornate
handkerchief.
This done:
Please open also the third room And take from there the gold. Bulaoan of nine coils which
breaksWhen exposed to the sunWhose heat is intense enough to sting one¶sheel. I am going
to tie my white rooster,Yellow-legged hen, And my hairy dog. For I am going to play at
CalanutianWhere Doña Ines Cannoyan lives As news has it« A clean-living maidenWho can spin
nine spools overnight. My son, brave-man Lam-ang, Please don¶t go yet For you don¶t look

like oneWhom Doña Ines CannoyanCan fall in love with. For her suitors are many Including a
number of Spaniards.
Yet she has not favored any of themWith even just a glance.And look at you«
Can you be the one to win her love? Mother Namungan, I must go. I must enter
the competition. At the town of Calanutian,Who knows, Doña Ines Cannoyan May look on me
with favor, My son Lam-ang, if it¶s a spouse you seek,This town is full of nubile maidens. And
you can take your pick from them.This is what the manLam-ang said in turn:
Mother Namungan, of those you allude to, I cannot choose anyone, Not one of the maidens
you speak of.So please don¶t detain me For I must, will go. My son Lam-ang, by God, Please tarry
longer. For they may drench you.With foul-smelling urine«Spareyourself the embarrassment.
The white rooster then said,As well as the yellow-legged hen:
Our mistress Namungan, we dreamt last night That Doña Ines CannoyanCannot help
becoming your daughter-in-law. Mother, please take out the oil Just heated yesterdaySo I may
anoint my yellow-legged hen And we may both look our best When we go to the town of
Calanutian. Mother, please hand meThe nine coils of gold bulaoan.
And having received the gold coils,He tied his white rooster And his hairy dog as well.And the
task completed,He prepared to leave.He carried his cock, the yellow-leggedrooster.
May God remain with you. My son Lam-ang, God go with you; Be careful, especially on your way
thereWhich you know to be more dangerous,

My friend Lam-ang. May I see you walk again; How you carry yourself.Should you be less
than perfect, I have the mind To give you back to your mother. Let us repair To the newly
constructed outhouse And there show me how you walk.
The woman Cannoyan,When they had gone upstairs,Again teased him.
Respected Lam-ang May I see how you walk; How you carry yourself. If your manner of walking
fails to impressme, I shall certainly return youTo the care of your mother.
He took five stepsAndCannoyan then said:
Respected Lam-ang, How ungainly you look Your trousers threaten to fall And your
bowlegs Make you sluggish. Madam Ines Cannoyan, it is the deportment Of rich men of Nalbuan
you see² One I am accustomed to affect With its air of wealth. And now Madam Ines
Cannoyan, Let me see how you walk;The way you look When you walk.
She took five steps, too.Then this is what he said,The man Lam-ang.
Madam, Doña Ines Cannoyan, I also don¶t like your deportment:Your feet go every which
way And your bottom thrusts out too far in front.
Then came the two mothers-in-law.Saying to each other.
I would like to know If her habits are sensible,Your child, my daughter-in-law.Unnayan
said:
Expect her when the moon is new If she goes out at full moon.
When she fetches water from the river.She mistakes every drifting leaf for crayfish And turns every
stone by the river.Unnayan
asked in turn:

May I also ask about your son,The man Lam-ang, my son-in-law.Speaking of Lam-ang, my sister, my
friend, If he leaves when the moon is new, He returns when the moon is full. If he goes to the
forest, He places cloth beneath every bamboo grove And there sleeps.
And then,
Unnayan
said:
My sister, my friend, It¶s time to go to your home
.The townmates of Lam-ang and CannoyanAll went to SabanganTo board the two ships.All
aboard and the sails set,The boats refused to moveTill Lam-ang slapped their sterns.Back in
Nalbuan,EveryonedisembarkedAnd went to the house of Namungan.The townspeople of bride and
groomDanceagain.Then, they honored Ines CannoyanAnd the man Lam-angAdanceAll to
themselves.Then they all danced anewThe fandango, waltz and curcha,As well as the
sagamantica of Pangasinan.They soon dispersedAnd Doña Ines Cannoyan stayed behindFor
her mother left without her.And when Cannoyan¶stownfolk had gone,The incumbent
captainPaid the new couple a visit.My friend Lam-ang,your turn has comeTo dive for shellfish
called rarang.
When the Captain had left,This is what the brave-man Lam-angSaid with a sigh:
My wife Cannoyan I have been chosenTo dive for shellfish called rarang. I have dreamt That I
shall doubtless be eaten By the shark tioan-tioan. I shall give you a sign;The stairs shall
dance;The kitchen shall collapse;The stove shall break to pieces
.When morning came,Lam-ang prepared to leave.Reaching an ideal spot,He undressed and
swamTo where the rarangabounds.He looked through the crystal watersThen dived for the
shellfishBut failed in his first try.Surfacing, he tried once more to locate themAnd having seen
someDived once more² Right into the mouthOf the fish,A big tioan-tioanshark,And the signs
came to pass:The stairs danced;The kitchen collapsed;The stove broke to pieces.The woman
CannoyanThe wept.
My husband Don Lam-ang,Where can you be now.There is none I can hireTo look for you.
The woman Cannoyan then sought helpAnd found Marcos, the diver.She then tied the white
rooster,The yellow-legged hen,The woman Cannoyan.She also leashed the hairy dogWith the
curly locksThen cradled the white rooster.She left and soon reached the spotWhere his clothes
were.There at the spot where Lam-angwas,Cannoyancried,Overwhelmed by sorrow.The
cock
comforted her thus:
Mistress, don¶t you worry. Master Lam-ang certainly shall live If they can locate his bones
.The diver, old man Marcos,Divedthen.But he failed to find the bones.The second time
he dived,He found the bonesWhere the shark had expelled them.The
cock
said:
Sir, take all the bones and beach them: None should be missing.
And when no more bones could be found,The cock examined the bones closely.He found
nothing missing.The bones of Lam-angHaving been completed,This is what
he
said:
I shall turn my back While you cover the bonesWith your skirt.

The yellow-legged hen crowed;The rooster shook its wings.And the bones started to move.The dog with
the curly locksHowledtwiceThen clawed the groundAs though to bury the bones of Lamang.Then the man Lam-angGot-up at once.
How soundly I slept, my wife Canoyan. It¶s been seven nightsSince we last slept together.Your sleep,
you say,When the shark only expelled your bones. And all the signs you told me about Were
cause for my weeping For I couldn¶t bear it,Couldn¶t bear losing you.
Dear Husband Don Lam-ang Give me your hand:The woman Cannoyan missed you so
much,The wife whom you left.They fainted together, Like trees fallen
With excessive longing,Even Don Lam-ang,For he missed his Cannoyan so much.The man Lamang then expressed joyAt seeing once more his cock And his hairy dog, kissing them both.Their
longing sated,They prepared to leave.
That we may reach the houseWe came down from
Once there,
Lam-ang
said:
It is only right to repayThe old man, the diver. My wife Cannoyan,Give him a pile of coins taller than
he is.
This is how it ended, the life of Lam-ang. Now, let me greet all of you presentIn this (recounting) of the
life of Lam-ang.

“Indarapatra and Sulayman”
A long, long time ago, Mindanao was covered with water, and the sea cover all the lowlands so
that nothing could be seen but the mountains jutting from it. There were many people living in
the country and all the highlands were dotted with villages and settlements. For many years
the people prospered, living in peace and contentment. Suddenly there appeared in the land
four horrible monsters which, in short time has devoured every human being they could find.
Kurita, a terrible creature with many limbs, lived partly on the land and partly on sea, but its
favorite haunt was the mountain where the rattan palm grew; and here it brought utter
destruction on every living thing. The second monster, Tarabusaw, an ugly creature in the form
of a man, lived on Mt. Matutum, and far and wide from that place he devoured the people,
laying waste the land. The third, an enormous bird called Pah, was so large that, when on the
wing, it covered the sun and brought darkness to the earth. Its egg was as large as a house.
Mt. Bita was its haunt; and there the only people who escaped its voracity were those who hid
in the mountain caves. The fourth monster was also a dreadful bird, having seven heads and
the power to see in all directions at the same time. Mt. Gurayan was its home and like the
others,
it
wrought
havoc
to
its
region.
So great was the death and destruction caused by these terrible creatures that at length, the
news spread even to the most distant lands - and all nations grieved to hear the sad fate of
Mindanao.
Now far across the sea, in the land of the golden sunset, was a city so great that to look at its
many people would injure the eyes of men. When tidings of these great disasters reached this
distant city, the heart of King Indarapatra was filled with compassion, and he called his brother,
Sulayman, and begged them to save the land of Mindanao from the monsters.
Sulayman listened to the story and as heard it, was moved with pity. "I will go", zeal and
enthusiasm adding to his strength, "and the land shall be avenged," said he.
King Indarapatra, proud of his brother's courage, gave him a ring and a sword as he wished
him success and safety. Then he placed a young sapling by his window and said to Sulayman
"By this tree I shall know your fate from the hour you depart from here, for if you live, it will live;
but
if
you
die,
it
will
die
also."
So Sulayman departed for Mindanao, and he neither waded nor used a boat, but went through
the air and landed on the mountain where the rattan grew. There he stood on the summit and
gazed about on all sides. He looked on the land and the villages, but he could see no living
thing. And he was very sorrowful and cried out: "Alas, how pitiful and dreadful is this
devastation."
No sooner had Sulayman uttered those words than the whole mountain began to move and
then shook. Suddenly out of the ground came the horrible creature Kurita. It sprung at the man
and sank its claws at his flesh. But, Sulayman knowing at once that this was the scourge of the
land,
drew
his
sword
and
cut
Kurita
to
pieces.
Encourage by his first success, Sulayman went on to Mt. Matutum, where conditions were
even worse. As he stood on the heights viewing the great devastation, there was a noise in the
forest and a movement in the trees. With a loud yell, Tarabusaw forth leaped. For the moment
they looked at each other, neither showing any sign of fear. Then Tarabusaw used all his
powers to try to devour Sulayman, who fought back. For a long time, the battle continued, until
at last, the monster fell exhausted to the ground and Sulayman killed him with his sword.
The nest place visited by Sulayman was Mt. Bita. Here havoc was present everywhere, and

though he passed by many homes, he saw that not a single soul was left. As he walked,
sudden darkness fell over the land, startling him. As he looked toward the sky he beheaded a
great bird that swooped upon him. Immediately he struck, and the bird fell dead at his feet; but
the
wing
fell
on
Sulayman
and
he
was
crushed.
Now at this very time King Indarapatra was sitting at his window, and looking out he saw the
little
tree
wither
and
dry
up.
"Alas!"
he
cried,
"my
brother
is
dead"
and
he
wept
bitterly.
Then although he was very sad, he was filled with a desire for revenge. Putting on his sword
and
belt,
he
started
for
Mindanao,
in
search
for
his
brother.
He, too, traveled through the air with great speed until he came to the mountain where the
rattan grew. There he looked about, awed at the great destruction, and when she saw the
bones of Kurita he knew that his brother had been there. He went on till he came to Matutum,
and when he saw the bones of Tarabusaw, he knew that this, too, was the work of Sulayman.
Still searching for his brother, he arrived at Mt. Bita, where the dead bird lay on the ground,
and when he lifted the severed wing he beheld the bones of Sulayman with his sword by his
side. His grief now so overwhelmed Indarapatra that he wept for some time. Upon looking up,
he beheld a small jar of water by his side. This, he knew had been sent from the heaven, and
he poured the water over the bones, and Sulayman, came to life again. They greeted each
other and talked animatedly for great length of time. Sulayman declared that he had not been
dead
but
asleep,
and
their
hearts
were
full
of
joy.
After some time Sulayman returned his distant home, but Indarapatra continued his journey to
Mt. Gurayan where killed the dreadful bird with the seven heads. After these monsters had all
been killed, peace and safety had been restored to the land: Indarapatra began searching
everywhere to see if some of the people who hid in the earth were still alive.
One day, in the course of his search, he caught sight of a beautiful woman at a distance. When
he hastened toward her she disappeared through a hole in the ground where she stood.
Disappointed and tried, he sat down on a rock to rest when, looking about, he saw near him a
pot uncooked rice with a big fire on the ground in front of it. This revived him and he proceeded
to cook the rice. As he did so, however, he heard someone laugh nearby, and turning he
beheld an old woman watching him. As he greeted her, she drew near and talked to him while
he
ate
the
rice.
Of all the people in the land, the woman told him, only few were left, and they hid in a cave in
the ground from whence they never ventured to come out. As for herself and her old husband,
she went on, they had hidden in a hollow tree, and this they had never dared to leave until
Sulayman
killed
the
voracious
bird
Pah.
At Indarapatra's request, the old woman led him to one such cave. There he met the headmen
with his family and some people. They all gathered about the stranger, asking many questions,
for this was the first time they had heard about the death of the monsters. When they found out
what Indarapatra had done for them, the headman gave his daughter to him in marriage, and
she proved to be beautiful girl whom Indarapatra had seen at the mouth of the cave.
Then the people all came out of their hiding places and returned to their homes where they
lived in peace and happiness. And the sea withdrew from the land and gave the lowlands to
the people.

How My Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife
By Manuel E. Arguilla
She stepped down from the carretela of Ca Celin with a quick, delicate grace. She was lovely.
She was tall. She looked up to my brother with a smile, and her forehead was on a level with
his
mouth.
"You are Baldo," she said and placed her hand lightly on my shoulder. Her nails were long, but
they were not painted. She was fragrant like a morning when papayas are in bloom. And a
small dimple appeared momently high on her right cheek. "And this is Labang of whom I have
heard so much." She held the wrist of one hand with the other and looked at Labang, and
Labang never stopped chewing his cud. He swallowed and brought up to his mouth more cuds
and
the
sound
of
his
insides
was
like
a
drum.
I laid a hand on Labang's massive neck and said to her: "You may scratch his forehead now."
She hesitated and I saw that her eyes were on the long, curving horns. But she came and
touched Labang's forehead with her long fingers, and Labang never stopped chewing his cud
except that his big eyes half closed. And by and by she was scratching his forehead very
daintily.
My brother Leon put down the two trunks on the grassy side of the road. He paid Ca Celin
twice the usual fare from the station to the edge of Nagrebcan. Then he was standing beside
us, and she turned to him eagerly. I watched Ca Celin, where he stood in front of his horse,
and he ran his fingers through its forelock and could not keep his eyes away from her.
"Maria---"
my
brother
Leon
said.
He did not say Maring. He did not say Mayang. I knew then that he had always called her
Maria and that to us all she would be Maria; and in my mind I said 'Maria' and it was a beautiful
name.
"Yes,

Noel."

Now where did she get that name? I pondered the matter quietly to myself, thinking Father
might not like it. But it was only the name of my brother Leon said backward and it sounded
much
better
that
way.
"There is Nagrebcan, Maria," my brother Leon said, gesturing widely toward the west.
She moved close to him and slipped her arm through his. And after a while she said quietly.
"You

love

Nagrebcan,

don't

you,

Noel?"

Ca Celin drove away hi-yi-ing to his horse loudly. At the bend of the camino real where the big
duhat tree grew, he rattled the handle of his braided rattan whip against the spokes of the

wheel.
We

stood

alone

on

the

roadside.

The sun was in our eyes, for it was dipping into the bright sea. The sky was wide and deep and
very blue above us: but along the saw-tooth rim of the Katayaghan hills to the southwest
flamed huge masses of clouds. Before us the fields swam in a golden haze through which
floated big purple and red and yellow bubbles when I looked at the sinking sun. Labang's white
coat, which I had wshed and brushed that morning with coconut husk, glistened like beaten
cotton under the lamplight and his horns appeared tipped with fire.
He faced the sun and from his mouth came a call so loud and vibrant that the earth seemed to
tremble underfoot. And far away in the middle of the field a cow lowed softly in answer.
"Hitch him to the cart, Baldo," my brother Leon said, laughing, and she laughed with him a big
uncertainly, and I saw that he had put his arm around her shoulders.
"Why does he make that sound?" she asked. "I have never heard the like of it."
"There is not another like it," my brother Leon said. "I have yet to hear another bull call like
Labang.
In
all
the
world
there
is
no
other
bull
like
him."
She was smiling at him, and I stopped in the act of tying the sinta across Labang's neck to the
opposite end of the yoke, because her teeth were very white, her eyes were so full of laughter,
and
there
was
the
small
dimple
high
up
on
her
right
cheek.
"If you continue to talk about him like that, either I shall fall in love with him or become greatly
jealous."
My brother Leon laughed and she laughed and they looked at each other and it seemed to me
there
was
a
world
of
laughter
between
them
and
in
them.
I climbed into the cart over the wheel and Labang would have bolted, for he was always like
that, but I kept a firm hold on his rope. He was restless and would not stand still, so that my
brother Leon had to say "Labang" several times. When he was quiet again, my brother Leon
lifted
the
trunks
into
the
cart,
placing
the
smaller
on
top.
She looked down once at her high-heeled shoes, then she gave her left hand to my brother
Leon, placed a foot on the hub of the wheel, and in one breath she had swung up into the cart.
Oh, the fragrance of her. But Labang was fairly dancing with impatience and it was all I could
do
to
keep
him
from
running
away.
"Give me the rope, Baldo," my brother Leon said. "Maria, sit down on the hay and hold on to
anything." Then he put a foot on the left shaft and that in stand Labang leaped forward. My
brother Leon laughed as he drew himself up to the top of the side of the cart and made the
slack of the rope hiss above the back of Labang. The wind whistled against my cheeks and the

rattling

of

the

wheels

on

the

pebbly

road

echoed

in

my

ears.

She sat up straight on the bottom of the cart, legs bent together to one side, her skirts spread
over them so that only the toes and heels of her shoes were visible. her eyes were on my
brother Leon's back; I saw the wind on her hair. When Labang slowed down, my brother Leon
handed to me the rope. I knelt on the straw inside the cart and pulled on the rope until Labang
was
merely
shuffling
along,
then
I
made
him
turn
around.
"What

is

it

you

have

forgotten

now,

Baldo?"

my

brother

Leon

said.

I did not say anything but tickled with my fingers the rump of Labang; and away we went--back to where I had unhitched and waited for them. The sun had sunk and down from the
wooded sides of the Katayaghan hills shadows were stealing into the fields. High up overhead
the
sky
burned
with
many
slow
fires.
When I sent Labang down the deep cut that would take us to the dry bed of the Waig which
could be used as a path to our place during the dry season, my brother Leon laid a hand on
my
shoulder
and
said
sternly:
"Who

told

you

to

drive

through

the

fields

tonight?"

His hand was heavy on my shoulder, but I did not look at him or utter a word until we were on
the
rocky
bottom
of
the
Waig.
"Baldo, you fool, answer me before I lay the rope of Labang on you. Why do you follow the
Wait
instead
of
the
camino
real?"
His
"Father,

fingers
he

told

bit
me

to

into
follow

the

my
Waig

shoulder.
tonight,

Manong."

Swiftly, his hand fell away from my shoulder and he reached for the rope of Labang. Then my
brother Leon laughed, and he sat back, and laughing still, he said:
"And I suppose Father also told you to hitch Labang to the cart and meet us with him instead of
with
Castano
and
the
calesa."
Without waiting for me to answer, he turned to her and said, "Maria, why do you think Father
should do that, now?" He laughed and added, "Have you ever seen so many stars before?"
I looked back and they were sitting side by side, leaning against the trunks, hands clasped
across knees. Seemingly, but a man's height above the tops of the steep banks of the Wait,
hung the stars. But in the deep gorge the shadows had fallen heavily, and even the white of
Labang's coat was merely a dim, grayish blur. Crickets chirped from their homes in the cracks
in the banks. The thick, unpleasant smell of dangla bushes and cooling sun-heated earth
mingled with the clean, sharp scent of arrais roots exposed to the night air and of the hay

inside

the

cart.

"Look, Noel, yonder is our star!" Deep surprise and gladness were in her voice. Very low in the
west, almost touching the ragged edge of the bank, was the star, the biggest and brightest in
the
sky.
"I have been looking at it," my brother Leon said. "Do you remember how I would tell you that
when
you
want
to
see
stars
you
must
come
to
Nagrebcan?"
"Yes, Noel," she said. "Look at it," she murmured, half to herself. "It is so many times bigger
and
brighter
than
it
was
at
Ermita
beach."
"The

air

"So

here

it

is,

is

clean,

Noel,"

"Making

free

she

said,

fun

of

dust

and

smoke."

a

long

breath.

drawing

of

me,

Maria?"

She laughed then and they laughed together and she took my brother Leon's hand and put it
against
her
face.
I stopped Labang, climbed down, and lighted the lantern that hung from the cart between the
wheels.
"Good boy, Baldo," my brother Leon said as I climbed back into the cart, and my heart sent.
Now the shadows took fright and did not crowd so near. Clumps of andadasi and arrais flashed
into view and quickly disappeared as we passed by. Ahead, the elongated shadow of Labang
bobbled up and down and swayed drunkenly from side to side, for the lantern rocked jerkily
with
the
cart.
"Have
"Ask
"I
Without

we
Baldo,"

far
my

am
looking

brother

to

go
Leon

asking
back,

said,
you,

I

answered,

yet,
"we

Noel?"
have

been

Baldo,"
picking

she
neglecting
she

my

asked.

words

him."
said.
slowly:

"Soon we will get out of the Wait and pass into the fields. After the fields is home---Manong."
"So

near

already."

I did not say anything more because I did not know what to make of the tone of her voice as
she said her last words. All the laughter seemed to have gone out of her. I waited for my
brother Leon to say something, but he was not saying anything. Suddenly he broke out into

song and the song was 'Sky Sown with Stars'---the same that he and Father sang when we cut
hay in the fields at night before he went away to study. He must have taught her the song
because she joined him, and her voice flowed into his like a gentle stream meeting a stronger
one. And each time the wheels encountered a big rock, her voice would catch in her throat, but
my brother Leon would sing on, until, laughing softly, she would join him again.
Then we were climbing out into the fields, and through the spokes of the wheels the light of the
lantern mocked the shadows. Labang quickened his steps. The jolting became more frequent
and
painful
as
we
crossed
the
low
dikes.
"But it is so very wide here," she said. The light of the stars broke and scattered the darkness
so
that
one
could
see
far
on
every
side,
though
indistinctly.
"You miss the houses, and the cars, and the people and the noise, don't you?" My brother
Leon
stopped
singing.
"Yes,

but

in

a

different

way.

I

am

glad

they

are

not

here."

With difficulty I turned Labang to the left, for he wanted to go straight on. He was breathing
hard, but I knew he was more thirsty than tired. In a little while we drop up the grassy side onto
the
camino
real.
"---you see," my brother Leon was explaining, "the camino real curves around the foot of the
Katayaghan hills and passes by our house. We drove through the fields because---but I'll be
asking
Father
as
soon
as
we
get
home."
"Noel,"

she

said.

"Yes,
"I

Maria."
am

afraid.

He

may

not

like

me."

"Does that worry you still, Maria?" my brother Leon said. "From the way you talk, he might be
an ogre, for all the world. Except when his leg that was wounded in the Revolution is troubling
him,
Father
is
the
mildest-tempered,
gentlest
man
I
know."
We came to the house of Lacay Julian and I spoke to Labang loudly, but Moning did not come
to the window, so I surmised she must be eating with the rest of her family. And I thought of the
food being made ready at home and my mouth watered. We met the twins, Urong and Celin,
and I said "Hoy!" calling them by name. And they shouted back and asked if my brother Leon
and his wife were with me. And my brother Leon shouted to them and then told me to make
Labang
run;
their
answers
were
lost
in
the
noise
of
the
wheels.
I stopped Labang on the road before our house and would have gotten down but my brother
Leon took the rope and told me to stay in the cart. He turned Labang into the open gate and
we dashed into our yard. I thought we would crash into the camachile tree, but my brother

Leon reined in Labang in time. There was light downstairs in the kitchen, and Mother stood in
the doorway, and I could see her smiling shyly. My brother Leon was helping Maria over the
wheel. The first words that fell from his lips after he had kissed Mother's hand were:
"Father...

where

is

he?"

"He is in his room upstairs," Mother said, her face becoming serious. "His leg is bothering him
again."
I did not hear anything more because I had to go back to the cart to unhitch Labang. But I
hardly tied him under the barn when I heard Father calling me. I met my brother Leon going to
bring up the trunks. As I passed through the kitchen, there were Mother and my sister Aurelia
and
Maria
and
it
seemed
to
me
they were
crying,
all
of
them.
There was no light in Father's room. There was no movement. He sat in the big armchair by
the western window, and a star shone directly through it. He was smoking, but he removed the
roll of tobacco from his mouth when he saw me. He laid it carefully on the windowsill before
speaking.
"Did

you

"No,

Father,"

He

meet

reached

I
for

"She

said.
his

roll

anybody

on

"Nobody

passes

of

is

tobacco

and

the

way?"

through
hitched

very

the
himself

he

asked.

Waig

at

night."

up

the

chair.

in

beautiful,

Father."

"Was she afraid of Labang?" My father had not raised his voice, but the room seemed to
resound with it. And again I saw her eyes on the long curving horns and the arm of my brother
Leon
around
her
shoulders.
"No,

Father,

she

"On
"She

not

afraid."

the
looked

at

the

"What
"---Sky

was

stars,

Father.

way---"
And

did
Sown

with

Manong

Leon

he
Stars...

She

sang."
sing?"

sang

with

him."

He was silent again. I could hear the low voices of Mother and my sister Aurelia downstairs.
There was also the voice of my brother Leon, and I thought that Father's voice must have been
like it when Father was young. He had laid the roll of tobacco on the windowsill once more. I
watched the smoke waver faintly upward from the lighted end and vanish slowly into the night
outside.

The

door

opened

and

my

"Have

you

I

told

him

that

Labang

is

time

you

watered

"It

watered

brother

Labang?"
was
him,

Leon

and

Father
resting
my

Maria
spoke

yet
son,"

under
my

came
to

in.
me.

the

barn.

father

said.

I looked at Maria and she was lovely. She was tall. Beside my brother Leon, she was tall and
very still. Then I went out, and in the darkened hall the fragrance of her was like a morning
when papayas are in bloom.

The Visitation of the Gods
By Gilda Cordero-Fernando
The letter announcing the visitation (a yearly descent upon the school by the superintendent,
the district supervisors and the division supervisors for "purposes of inspection and
evaluation") had been delivered in the morning by a sleepy janitor to the principal. The party
was, the attached circular revealed a hurried glance, now at Pagkabuhay, would be in Mapili
by lunchtime, and barring typhoons, floods, volcanic eruptions and other acts of God, would be
upon
Pugad
Lawin
by
afternoon.
Consequently, after the first period, all the morning classes were dismissed. The Home
Economics building, where the fourteen visiting school officials were to be housed, became the
hub of a general cleaning. Long-handled brooms ravished the homes of peaceful spiders from
cross beams and transoms, the capiz of the windows were scrubbed to an eggshell whiteness,
and the floors became mirrors after assiduous bouts with husk and candle wax. Open wood
boxes of Coronaslar gas were scattered within convenient reach of the carved sofa, the Vienna
chairs
and
the
stag-horn
hat
rack.
The sink, too, had been repaired and the spent bulbs replaced; a block of ice with patches of
sawdust rested in the hollow of the small unpainted icebox. There was a brief discussion on
whether the French soap poster behind the kitchen door was to go or stay: it depicted a trio of
languorous nymphs in various stages of dishabille reclining upon a scroll bearing the legend
Parfumerie et Savonerie but the wood working instructor remembered that it had been put
there to cover a rotting jagged hole - and the nymphs had stayed.
The base of the flagpole, too, had been cemented and the old gate given a whitewash. The
bare grounds were, within the remarkable space of two hours, transformed into a riotous
bougainvillea garden. Potted blooms were still coming in through the gate by wheelbarrow and
bicycle. Buried deep in the secret earth, what supervisor could tell that such gorgeous
specimens were potted, or that they had merely been borrowed from the neighboring houses
for the visitation? Every school in the province had its special point of pride - a bed of giant
squashes, an enclosure or white king pigeons, a washroom constructed by the PTA. Yearly,
Pugad Lawin High School had made capital of its topography: rooted on the firm ledge of a hill,
the schoolhouse was accessible by a series of stone steps carved on the hard face of the
rocks; its west windows looked out on the misty grandeur of a mountain chain shaped like a
sleeping woman. Marvelous, but the supervisors were expecting something tangible, and so
this
year
there
was
the
bougainvillea.
The teaching staff and the student body had been divided into four working groups. The first
group, composed of Mrs. Divinagracia, the harassed Home Economics instructor, and some of
the less attractive lady teachers, were banished to the kitchen to prepare the menu: it
consisted of a 14-lbs. suckling pig, macaroni soup, embutido, chicken salad, baked lapu-lapu,
morcon, leche flan and ice cream, the total cost of which had already been deducted from the
teachers' pay envelopes. Far be it to be said that Pugad Lawin was lacking in generosity,

charm or good tango dancers! Visitation was, after all, 99% impression - and Mr. Olbes, the
principal, had promised to remember the teachers' cooperation in that regard in the efficiency
reports.
The teachers of Group Two had been assigned to procure the beddings and the dishes to be
used for the supper. In true bureaucratic fashion they had relegated the assignment to their
students, who in turn had denuded their neighbors' homes of cots, pillows, and sleeping mats.
The only bed properly belonging to the Home Economics Building was a four-poster with a
canopy and the superintendent was to be given the honor of slumbering upon it. Hence it was
endowed with the grandest of the sleeping mats, two sizes large, but interwoven with a
detailed map of the archipelago. Nestling against the headboard was a quartet of the
principal's wife's heart-shaped pillows - two hard ones and two soft ones - Group Two being
uncertain
of
the
sleeping
preferences
of
division
heads.
"Structuring the Rooms" was the responsibility of the third group. It consisted in the
construction (hurriedly) of graphs, charts, and other visual aids. There was a scurrying to
complete unfinished lesson plans and correct neglected theme books; precipitate trips from
bookstand to broom closet in a last desperate attempt to keep out of sight the dirty spelling
booklets of a preceding generation, unfinished projects and assorted rags - the key later
conveniently "lost" among the folds of Mrs. Olbes' (the principal's wife) balloon skirt.
All year round the classroom walls had been unperturbedly blank. Now they were, like the
grounds, miraculously abloom - with cartolina illustrations of Parsing, A mitosis Cell Division
and the Evolution of the Filipina Dress - thanks to the Group Two leader, Mr. Buenaflor
(Industrial Arts) who, forsaken, sat hunched over a rainfall graph. The distaff side of Group Two
were either practicing tango steps or clustered around a vacationing teacher who had taken
advantage of her paid maternity leave to make a mysterious trip to Hongkong and had now
returned
with
a
provocative
array
of
goods
for
sale.
The rowdiest freshman boys composed the fourth and discriminated group. Under the
stewardship of Miss Noel (English), they had, for the past two days been "Landscaping the
Premises," as assignment which, true to its appellation, consisted in the removal of all
unsightly objects from the landscape. That the dirty assignment had not fallen on the hefty Mr.
de Dios (Physics) or the crafty Mr. Baz (National Language), both of whom were now hanging
curtains, did not surprise Miss Noel. She had long been at odds with the principal, or rather,
the principal's wife - ever since the plump Mrs. Olbes had come to school in a fashionable sack
dress
and
caught
on
Miss
Noel's
mouth
a
half-effaced
smile.
"We are such a fashionable group," Miss Noel had joked once at a faculty meeting. "If only our
reading could also be in fashion!" -- which statement obtained for her the ire of the only two
teachers left talking to her. That Miss Noel spent her vacations taking a summer course for
teachers in Manila made matters even worse - for Mr. Olbes believed that the English teacher
attended these courses for the sole purpose of showing them up. And Miss Noel's latest
wrinkle, the Integration Method, gave Mr. Olbes a pain where he sat.
Miss Noel, on the other hand, thought utterly unbecoming and disgusting the manner in which

the principal's wife praised a teacher's new purse of shawl. ("It's so pretty, where can I get one
exactly like it?" - a heavy-handed and graceless hint) or the way she had of announcing, well in
advance, birthdays and baptisms in her family (in other words, "Prepare!"). The lady teachers
were, moreover, for lack of household help, "invited" to the principal's house to make a special
salad, stuff a chicken or clean the silverware. But this certainly was much less than expected
of the vocational staff - the Woodworking instructor who was detailed to do all the painting and
repair work on the principal's house, the Poultry instructor whose stock of leghorns was
depleted after every party of the Olbeses, and the Automotive instructor who was forever being
detailed behind the wheel of the principal's jeep - and Miss Noel had come to take it in stride
as
one
of
the
hazards
of
the
profession.
But today, accidentally meeting in the lavatory, a distressed Mrs. Olbes had appealed to Miss
Noel for help with her placket zipper, after which she brought out a bottle of lotion and
proceeded to douse the English teacher gratefully with it. Fresh from the trash pits, Miss Noel,
with supreme effort, resisted from making an untoward observation - and friendship was
restored
on
the
amicable
note
of
a
stuck
zipper.
At 1:30, the superintendent's car and the weapons carrier containing the supervisors drove
through the town arch of Pugad Lawin. A runner, posted at the town gate since morning, came
panting down the road but was outdistanced by the vehicles. The principal still in undershirt
and drawers, shaving his jowls by the window, first sighted the approaching party. Instantly, the
room was in a hustle. Grimy socks, Form 137's and a half bottle of beer found their way into
Mr. Olbes' desk drawer. A sophomore breezed down the corridor holding aloft a newly-pressed
barong on a wire hanger. Behind the closed door, Mrs. Olbes wriggled determinedly into her
corset.
The welcoming committee was waiting on the stone steps when the visitors alighted. It being
Flag Day, the male instructors were attired in barong, the women in red, white or blue dresses
in obedience to the principal's circular. The Social Studies teacher, hurrying down the steps to
present the sampaguita garlands, tripped upon an unexpected pot of borrowed bougainvillea.
Peeping from an upstairs window, the kitchen group noted that there were only twelve arrivals.
Later it was brought out that the National Language Supervisor had gotten a severe stomach
cramp and had to be left at the Health Center; that Miss Santos (PE) and Mr. del Rosario
(Military
Tactics)
had
eloped
at
dawn.
Four pairs of hands fought for the singular honor of wrenching open the car door, and Mr.
Alava emerged into the sunlight. He was brown as a sampaloc seed. Mr. Alava gazed with
satisfaction upon the patriotic faculty and belched his approval in cigar smoke upon the
landscape. The principal, rivaling a total eclipse, strode towards Mr. Alava minus a cuff link.
"Compañero!"
boomed
the
superintendent
with
outstretched
arms.
"Compañero!"

echoed

Mr.

Olbes.

They

embraced

darkly.

There was a great to-do in the weapons carrier. The academic supervisor's pabaon of live
crabs from Mapili had gotten entangled with the kalamay in the Home Economics supervisor's
basket. The district supervisor had mislaid his left shoe among the squawking chickens and

someone had stepped on the puto seco. There were overnight bags and reed baskets to
unload, bundles of perishable and imperishable going-away gifts. (The Home Economics
staff's dilemma: sans ice box, how to preserve all the food till the next morning). A safari of
Pugad
Lawin
instructors
lent
their
shoulders
gallantly
to
the
occasion.
Vainly, Miss Noel searched in the crowd for the old Language Arts supervisor. All the years she
had been in Pugad Lawin, Mr. Ampil had come: in him there was no sickening bureaucracy,
none of the self-importance and pettiness that often characterized the small public official . He
was dedicated to the service of education, had grown old in it. He was about the finest man
Miss
Noel
had
ever
known.
How often had the temporary teachers had to court the favor of their supervisors with lavish
gifts of sweets, de hilo, portfolios and what-not, hoping that they would be given a favorable
recommendation! A permanent position for the highest bidder. But Miss Noel herself had never
experienced this rigmarole -- she had passed her exams and had been recommended to the
first vacancy by Mr. Ampil without having uttered a word of flattery or given a single gift. It was
ironic that even in education, you found the highest and the meanest forms of men.
Through the crowd came a tall unfamiliar figure in a loose coat, a triad of pens leaking in his
pocket. Under the brave nose, the chin had receded like a gray hermit crab upon the coming of
a
great
wave.
"Miss
Noel,
I
presume?"
said
the
stranger.
The English teacher nodded. "I am the new English supervisor - Sawit is the name." The tall
man
shook
her
hand
warmly.
"Did

you

Mr.

have

Sawit

a

made

good
a

trip,

Sir?"

face.

"Terrible!"

Miss Noel laughed. "Shall I show you to your quarters? You must be tired."
"Yes, indeed," said Mr. Sawit. "I'd like to freshen up. And do see that someone takes care of
my
orchids,
or
my
wife
will
skin
me
alive."
The new English supervisor gathered his portfolios and Miss Noel picked up the heavy load of
orchids. Silently, they walked down the corridor of the Home Economics building, hunter and
laden
Indian
guide.
"I

trust

"Then

you

nothing's
haven't

heard?

the
The

matter
old

fool

with
broke

a

Mr.
collar

Ampil,
bone.

He's

Sir?"
dead."

"Oh."
"You see, he insisted on doing all the duties expected of him - he'd be ahead of us in the
school we were visiting if he felt we were dallying on the road. He'd go by horseback, or

carabao sled to the distant ones where the road was inaccessible by bus - and at his age!
Then, on our visitation to barrio Tungkod - you know that place, don't you?"
Miss

Noel

nodded.

"On the way to the godforsaken island, that muddy hellhole, he slipped on the banca - and
well,
that's
it."
"How

terrible."

"Funny thing is - they had to pass the hat around to buy him a coffin. It turned out the fellow
was as poor as a church mouse. You'd think, why this old fool had been thirty-three years in
the service. Never a day absent. Never a day late. Never told a lie. You'd think at least he'd get
a decent burial - but he hadn't reached 65 and wasn't going to get a cent he wasn't working for.
Well,
anyway,
that's
a
thorn
off
your
side."
Miss

Noel

wrinkled

her

brow,

puzzled.

"I thought all teachers hated strict supervisors." Mr. Sawit elucidated. "Didn't you all quake for
your life when Mr. Ampil was there waiting at the door of the classroom even before you
opened
it
with
your
key?"
"Feared him, yes," said Miss Noel. "But also respected and admired him for what he stood for."
Mr. Sawit shook his head smiling. "So that's how the wind blows," he said, scratching a speck
of
dust
off
his
earlobe.
Miss Noel deposited the supervisor's orchids in the corridor. They had reached the reconverted
classroom
that
Mr.
Sawit
was
to
occupy
with
two
others.
"You must be kind to us poor supervisors," said Mr. Sawit as Miss Noel took a cake of soap
and a towel from the press. "The things we go through!" Meticulously, Mr. Sawit peeled back
his shirt sleeves to expose his pale hairless wrists. "At Pagkabuhay, Miss What's-her-name,
the grammar teacher, held a demonstration class under the mango trees. Quite impressive,
and modern; but the class had been so well rehearsed that they were reciting like machine
guns. I think it's some kind of a code they have, like if the student knows the answer he is to
raise his left hand, and if he doesn't he is to raise his right, something to that effect." Mr. Sawit
reached
for
the
towel
hanging
on
Miss
Noel's
arm.
"What I mean to say is, hell, what's the use of going through all that palabas? As I always say,"
Mr. Sawit raised his arm and pumped it vigorously in the air, "let's get to the heart of what
matters."
Miss Noel looked up with interest. "You mean get into the root of the problem?"
"Hell no!" the English supervisor said, "I mean the dance! I always believe there's no school

problem

that

a

good

round

of

tango

will

not

solve!"

Mr. Sawit groped blindly for the towel to wipe his dripping face and came up to find Miss Noel
smiling.
"Come,

girl,"

he

said

lamely.

"I

was

really

only

joking."

As soon as the bell rang, Miss Noel entered I-B followed by Mr. Sawit. The students were
nervous. You could see their hands twitching under the desks. Once in a while they glanced
apprehensively behind to where Mr. Sawit sat on a cane chair, straight as a bamboo. But as
the class began, the nervousness vanished and the boys launched into the recitation with
aplomb. Confidently, Miss Noel sailed through a sea of prepositions, using the Oral Approach
Method:
"I
"I
"I
"I
"I

live
live
live
live
live

in
in
in
on
on

a
a
Pugad
a
Calle

barrio."
town."
Lawin."
street."
Real…"

Mr.
Sawit
scribbled
busily
on
his
pad.
Triumphantly, Miss Noel ended the period with a trip to the back of the building where the
students had constructed a home-made printing press and were putting out their first school
paper.
The inspection of the rest of the building took exactly half an hour. It was characterized by a
steering away from the less presentable parts of the school (except for the Industrial Arts
supervisor who, unwatched, had come upon and stood gaping at the French soap poster). The
twenty-three strains of bougainvillea received such a chorus of praise and requests for cutting
that the poor teachers were nonplussed on how to meet them without endangering life and
limb from their rightful owners. The Academic supervisor commented upon the surprisingly
fresh appearance of the Amitosis chart and this was of course followed by a ripple of nervous
laughter. Mr. Sawit inquired softly of Miss Noel what the town's cottage industry was, upon
instructions
of
his
uncle,
the
supervisor.
"Buntal

hats,"

said

Miss

Noel.

The tour ended upon the sound of the dinner bell and at 7 o'clock the guests sat down to
supper. The table, lorded over by a stuffed Bontoc eagle, was indeed an impressive sight. The
flowered soup plates borrowed from Mrs. Valenton vied with Mrs. De los Santos' bone china.
Mrs. Alejandro's willowware server rivalled but could not quite outshine the soup tureens of
Mrs.
Cruz.
Pink
paper
napkins
blossomed
grandly
in
a
water
glass.
The superintendent took the place of honor at the head of the table with Mr. Olbes at his right.
And the feast began. Everyone partook heavily of the elaborate dishes; there were second
helpings and many requests for toothpicks. On either side of Mr. Alava, during the course of

the meal, stood Miss Rosales and Mrs. Olbes, the former fanning him, the latter boning the
lapu-lapu on his plate. The rest of the Pugad Lawin teachers, previously fed on hopia and
coke, acted as waitresses. Never were a beer glass empty, never a napkin out of reach, and
the supervisors, with murmured apologies, belched approvingly. Towards the end of the meal,
Mr. Alava inquired casually of the principal where he could purchase some bunt al hats. Elated,
the latter replied that it was the cottage industry right here in Pugad Lawin. They were,
however, the principal said, not for sale to colleagues. The Superintendent shook his head and
said he insisted on paying, and brought out his wallet, upon which the principal was so
offended he would not continue eating. At last the superintendent said, all right, compañero,
give me one or two hats, but the principal shook his head and ordered his alarmed teachers to
round
up
fifty;
and
the
ice
cream
was
served.

Close upon the wings of the dinner tripped the Social Hour. The hosts and the guests repaired
to the sala where a rondalla of high school boys were playing an animated rendition of "Merry
Widow" behind the hat rack. There was a concerted reaching for open cigar boxes and
presently the room was clouded with acrid black smoke. Mr. Olbes took Miss Noel firmly by the
elbow and steered her towards Mr. Alava who, deep in a cigar, sat wide-legged on the carved
sofa. "Mr. Superintendent," said the principal. "This is Miss Noel, our English teacher. She
would
be
greatly
honored
if
you
open
the
dance
with
her."
"Compañero," twinkled the superintendent. "I did not know Pugad Lawin grew such exquisite
flowers."
Miss Noel smiled thinly. Mr. Alava's terpsichorean knowledge had never advanced beyond a
bumbling waltz. They rocked, gyrated, and stumbled, recovered, rolled back into the center,
amid a wave of teasing and applause. To each of the supervisors, in turn, the principal
presented a pretty instructor, while the rest, unattractive or painfully shy, and therefore unfit
offering to the gods, were left to fend for themselves. The first number was followed by others
in three-quarter time and Miss Noel danced most of them with Mr. Sawit.
At ten o'clock, the district supervisor suggested that they all drive to the next town where the
fiesta was being celebrated with a big dance in the plaza. All the prettier lady teachers were
drafted and the automotive instructor was ordered behind the wheel of the weapons carrier.
Miss Noel remained behind together with Mrs. Divinagracia and the Home Economics staff,
pleading
a
headache.
Graciously,
Mr.
Sawit
also
remained
behind.
As Miss Noel repaired to the kitchen, Mr. Sawit followed her. "The principal tells me you are
quite headstrong, Miss Noel," he said. "But then I don't put much stock by what principals say."
Miss Noel emptied the ashtrays in the trash can. "If he meant why I refused to dance with Mr.
Lucban…"
"No, just things in general," said Mr. Sawit. "The visitation, for instance. What do you think of
it?"

Miss Noel looked into Mr. Sawit's eyes steadily. "Do you want my frank opinion, Sir?"
"Yes,

of

"Well,
"That's

I
what

think
I've

heard

course."

it's
-

what

all

a

makes

you

farce."
think

that?"

"Isn't it obvious? You announce a whole month ahead that you're visiting. We clean the
schoolhouse, tuck the trash in the drawers, bring out our best manners. As you said before, we
rehearse our classes. Then we roll out the red carpet - and you believe you observe us in our
everyday
surrounding,
in
our
everyday
comportment?"
"Oh,

we

know

that."

"That's what I mean - we know that you know. And you know that we know that you know." Mr.
Sawit gave out an embarrassed laugh. "Come now, isn't that putting it a trifle strongly?"
""No," replied Miss Noel. "In fact, I overheard one of your own companions say just a while ago
that if your lechon were crisper than that of the preceding school, if our pabaon were more
lavish,
we
would
get
a
higher
efficiency
rating."
"Of course he was merely joking. I see what Mr. Olbes meant about your being stubborn."
"And what about one supervisor, an acquaintance of yours, I know, who used to come just
before the town fiesta and assign us the following items: 6 chickens, 150 eggs, 2 goats,
12leche flans. I know the list by heart - I was assigned the checker."
"There

are

a

few

miserable

exceptions…"

"What about the sweepstakes agent supervisor who makes a ticket of the teacher's clearance
for
the
withdrawal
of
his
pay?
How
do
you
explain
him?"
Mr.

Sawit

shook

his

head

as

if

to

clear

it.

"Sir, during the five years that I've taught, I've done my best to live up to my ideals. Yet I please
nobody. It's the same old narrow conformism and favor-currying. What matters is not how well
one teaches but how well one has learned the art of pleasing the powers-that-be and it's the
same
all
the
way
up."
Mr. Sawit threw his cigar out of the window in an arc. "So you want to change the world. I've
been in the service a long time, Miss Noel. Seventeen years. This bald spot on my head
caused mostly by new teachers like you who want to set the world on fire. In my younger days
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend you for expulsion for your rash opinions. But I've grown old
and mellow - I recognize spunk and am willing to give it credit. But spunk is only hard-

headedness when not directed towards the proper channels. But you're young enough and
you'll learn, the hard way, singed here and there - but you'll learn."
"How

are

you

so

sure?"

asked

Miss

Noel

narrowly.

"They all do. There are thousands of teachers. They're mostly disillusioned but they go on
teaching
it's
the
only
place
for
a
woman
to
go."
"There will be a reclassification next month," continued Mr. Sawit. "Mr. Olbes is out to get you he can, too, on grounds of insubordination, you know that. But I'm willing to stick my neck out
for you if you stop being such an idealistic fool and henceforth express no more personal
opinions. Let sleeping dogs lie, Miss Noel. I shall give you a good rating after this visitation
because you remind me of my younger sister, if for no other reason. Then after a year, when I
find that you learned to curb your tongue, I will recommend you for a post in Manila where your
talents will not be wasted. I am related to Mr. Alava, you know."
Miss Noel bit her lip in stunned silence. Is this what she had been wasting her years on? She
had worked, she had slaved - with a sting of tears she remembered all the parties missed
("Can't wake up early tomorrow, Clem"), alliances forgone ("Really, I haven't got the time,
maybe some other year?") the chances by-passed ("Why, she's become a spinster!") - then to
come face to face with what one has worked for - a boor like Mr. Sawit! How did one explain
him away? What syllogisms could one invent to rub him out of the public school system?
Below the window, Miss Noel heard a giggle as one of the Pugad Lawin teachers was pursued
by
a
mischievous
supervisor
in
the
playground.
"You see," the voice continued, "education is not so much a matter of brains as getting along
with one's fellowmen, else how could I have risen to my present position?" Mr. Sawit laughed
harshly. "All the fools I started out with are still head-teachers in godforsaken barrios, and how
can one be idealistic in a mud hole? Goodnight, my dear." Mr. Sawit's hot trembling hand (the
same mighty hand that fathered the 8-A's that made or broke English teachers) found its way
swiftly around her waist, and hot on her forehead Miss Noel endured the supreme insult of a
wet,
fatherly
kiss.
Give up your teaching, she heard her aunt say again for the hundredth time, and in a couple of
months you might be the head. We need someone educated because we plan to export.
Oh, to be able to lie in a hammock on the top of the hill and not have to worry about the next
lesson
plan!
To
have
time
to
meet
people,
to
party,
to
write.
She remembered Clem coming into the house (after the first troubled months of teaching) and
persuading her to come to Manila because his boss was in need of a secretary. Typing! Filing!
Shorthand! She had spat the words contemptuously back at him. I was given a head so I could
think! Pride goeth… Miss Noel bowed her head in silence. Could anyone in the big, lighted
offices of the city possibly find use for a stubborn, cranky, BSE major?
As Miss Noel impaled the coffee cups upon the spokes of the drain board, she heard the door

open

and

the

student

named

Leon

come

in

for

the

case

of

beer

empties.

"Pandemonium over, Ma'am?" he asked. Miss Noel smile dimly. Dear perceptive Leon. He
wanted to become a lawyer. Pugad Lawin's first. What kind of a piker was she to betray a
dream like that? What would happen to him if she wasn't there to teach him his p's and f's?
Deep in the night and the silence outside flickered an occasional gaslight in a hut on the
mountain shaped like a sleeping woman. Was Porfirio deep in a Physics book? (Oh, but he
mustn't blow up any more pigshed.) What was Juanita composing tonight? (An ode on starlight
on the trunk of a banana tree?) Leon walked swiftly under the window: in Miss Noel's eyes he
had already won a case. Why do I have to be such a darn missionary?
Unafraid, the boy Leon stepped into the night, the burden of bottles light on his back.
After breakfast the next morning, the supervisors packed their belongings and were soon
ready. Mr. Buenaflor fetched a camera and they all posed on the sunny steps for a souvenir
photo: the superintendent with Mr. and Mrs. Olbes on either side of him and the minor gods in
descending order on the Home Economics stairs. Miss Noel was late - but she ran to take her
place with pride and humility on the lowest rung of the school's hierarchy.

The House on Zapote Street
By Quijano de Manila
Dr. Leonardo Quitangon, a soft-spoken, mild-mannered, cool-tempered Caviteno, was still
fancy-free at 35 when he returned to Manila, after six years abroad. Then, at the University of
Santo Tomas, where he went to reach, he met Lydia Cabading, a medical intern. He liked her
quiet ways and began to date her steadily. They went to the movies and to basketball
games and he took her a number of times to his house in Sta. Mesa, to meet his family.
Lydia was then only 23 and looked like a sweet unspoiled girl, but there was a slight air of
mystery about her. Leonardo and his brothers noticed that she almost never spoke of her
home life or her childhood; she seemed to have no gay early memories to share with her
lover, as sweethearts usually crave to do. And whenever it looked as if she might have to
stay out late, she would say: "I'll have to tell my father first". And off she would go, wherever
she was, to tell her father, though it meant going all the way to Makati, Rizal, where she lived
with her parents in a new house on Zapote Street.
The Quitangons understood that she was an only child and that her parents were,
therefore, over-zealous in looking after her. Her father usually took her to school and
fetched her after classes, and had been known to threaten to arrest young men who
stared at her on the streets or pressed too close against her on jeepney. This highhandedness seemed natural enough, for Pablo Cabading, Lydia's father was a member of
the Manila Police Department.
After Lydia finished her internship, LeopardoQuitangon became a regular visitor at the
house on Zapote Street: he was helping her prepare for the board exams. Her family
seemed to like him. The mother Annunciation struck him as a mousy woman unable to
speak saves at her husband's bidding. There was a foster son, a little boy the Cabadings
had adopted. As for Pablo Cabading, he was a fine strapping man, an Ilocano, who gave the
impression of being taller than he was and looked every inch an agent of the law: full of
brawn and guts and force, and smoldering with vitality. He was a natty dresser, liked
youthful colors and styles, decorated his house with pictures of himself and, at 50, looked
younger than his inarticulate wife, who was actually two years younger than he.
When Leonardo started frequenting the house on Zapote Street, Cabading told him: I’ll be
frank with you. None of Lydia's boyfriends ever lasted ten minutes in this house. I didn't
like them and I told them so and made them get out." Then he added laying a hand on the
young doctor's shoulder:" But I like you. You are a good man."
The rest of the household were two very young maids who spoke almost no Tagalog, and
two very fierce dogs, chained to the front door in the day time, unchained in the front yard at
night.
The house of Zapote Street is in the current architectural cliché: the hoity-toity Philippine
split-level suburban style—a half-story perched above the living area, to which it is bound by
the slope of the roof and which it overlooks from a balcony, so that a person standing in the

sala can see the doors of the bedrooms and bathroom just above his head. The house is
painted, as is also the current fashion, in various pastel shades, a different color to every
three or four planks. The inevitable piazza curves around two sides of the house, which has
a strip of lawn and a low wall all around it. The Cabadings did not keep a car, but the
house provides for an eventual garage and driveway. This, and the furniture, the shell
lamps and the fancy bric-a-brac that clutters the narrow house indicate that the
Cabadings had not only raised high enough to justify their split-level pretensions but were
expecting to go higher.
Lydia took the board exams and passed them. The lovers asked her father's permission
to wed. Cabading laid down two conditions: that the wedding would be a lavish one and
that was to pay a downy of P5, 000.00. The young doctor said that he could afford the big
wedding but the big dowry. Cabading shrugged his shoulders; no dowry, no marriage.
Leonarado spent some frantic weeks scraping up cash and managed to gather P3, 000.00.
Cabading agreed to reduce his price to that amount, and then laid down a final condition:
after the wedding, Lydia and Leonardo must make their home at the house on Zapote Street.
"I built this house for Lydia," said Cabading, "and I want her to live here even when she's
married. Besides, her mother couldn't bear to be separated from Lydia, her only child."
There was nothing. Leonardo could do but consent.
Lydia and Leonardo were on September 10 last year, at the Cathedral of Manila, with Mrs.
Delfin Montano, wife of the Cavite governor, and Senator Ferdinand Marcos as sponsors. The
reception was at the Selecta. The status gods of Suburdia were properly propitiated. Then the
newlyweds went to live on Zapote Street -- and Leonardo almost immediately realized why
Lydia had been so reticent and mysterious about her home life.
The cozy family group that charmed him in courtship days turned out to be rather too cozy.
The entire household revolved in submission around Pablo Cabading. The daughter,
mother, the foster-son, the maids and even the dogs trembled when the lifted his voice.
Cabading liked to brag that was a "killer": in 1946 he had shot dead two American soldiers
he caught robbing a neighbor's house in Quezon City.
Leonardo found himself within a family turned in on itself, self-enclosed and self-sufficient — in
a house that had no neighbors and no need for any. His brothers say that he made more
friends in the neighborhood within the couple of months he stayed there than the
Cabadings had made in a year. Pablo Cabading did not like what his to stray out of, and
what was not his to stray into, his house. And within that house he wanted to be the center
of everything, even of his daughter's honeymoon.
Whenever Leonardo and Lydia went to the movies or for a ride, Cabading insisted on being
taken along. If they seated him on the back seat while they sat together in front, be raged and
glowered. He wanted to sit in front with them.
When Leonardo came home from work, he must not tarry with Lydia in the bedroom
chatting: both of them must come down at once to the sala and talk with their father.
Leonardo explained that he was not much of a talking: "That's why I fell in love with
Lydia, because she's the quiet type too". No matter, said Cabading. They didn't have to talk

at all; he would do all the talking himself, so long as they sat there in the sala before his
eyes.
So, his compact family group sat around him at night, silent, while Cabading talked and
talked. But, finally, the talk had stop, the listeners had to rise and retire - and it was this
moment that Cabading seemed unable to bear. He couldn't bear to see Lydia and
Leonardo rise and go up together to their room. One night, unable to bear it any longer he
shouted, as they rose to retire:
"Lydia, you sleep with your mother tonight. She has a toothache." After a d ead look at
her husband, Lydia obeyed. Leonardo went to bed alone.
The incident would be repeated: there would always be other reasons, besides Mrs.
Cabading's toothaches.
What horrified Leonardo was not merely what being done to him but his increasing
acquiesces. Had his spirit been so quickly broken? Was he, too, like the rest of the
household, being drawn to revolve, silently and obediently, around the master of the
house?
Once, late at night, he suddenly showed up at his parents’ house in Sta. Mesa and his
brothers were shocked at the great in him within so short a time. He looked terrified. What
had happened? His car had broken down and he had had it repaired and now he could not
go home. But why not?
"You don't know my father-in-law," he groaned. "Everybody in that house must be in by a
certain hour. Otherwise, the gates are locked, the doors are locked, and the windows are
locked. Nobody can get in anymore!”
A younger brother, Gene offered to accompany him home and explain to Cabading what had
happened. The two rode to Zapote and found the house dark and locked up.
Says Gene: "That memory makes my blood boil -- my eldest brother fearfully clanging and
clanging the gate, and nobody to let him in. I wouldn't have waited a second, but he waited
five, ten, fifteen minutes, knocking at thai gate, begging to be let in. I couldn't have it!"
In the end the two brothers rode back to Sta. Mesa, where Leonardo spent the night. When
he returned to the house on Zapote the next day, his father-in-law greeted him with a
sarcastic question: "Where were you? At a basketball game?"
Leonardo became anxious to take his wife away from that house. He talked it over with
her, then they went to tell her father. Said Cabading bluntly: "If she goes with you, I'll shoot
her head before your eyes."
His brothers urged him to buy a gun, but Leonardo felt in his pocket and said, "I've got my
rosary." Cried his brother Gene: "You can't fight a gun with a rosary!”.
When Lydia took her oath as a physician, Cabading announced that only he and his wife
would accompany Lydia to the ceremony. I would not be fair, he said, to let Leonardo, who
had not borne the expenses of Lydia's education, to share that moment of glory too.

Leonardo said that, if he would like them at least to use his car. The offer was rejected.
Cabading preferred to hire a taxi.
After about two months at the house on Zapote Street, Leonardo moved out, alone. Her
parents would not let Lydia go and she herself was too afraid to leave. During the succeeding
weeks, efforts to contact her proved futile. The house on Zapote became even more
closed to the outside world. If Lydia emerged from it at all, she was always accompanied
by her father, mother or foster-brother, or by all three.
When her husband heard that she had started working at a hospital he went there to see
her but instead met her father coming to fetch her. The very next day, Lydia was no longer
working at the hospital.
Leonardo knew that she was with child and he was determined to bear all her prenatal
expenses. He went to Zapote one day when her father was out and persuaded her to come
out to the yard but could not make her make the money he offered across the locked
gate. "Just mail it," she cried and fled into the house. He sent her a check by registered
mail; it was promptly mailed back to him.
On Christmas Eve, Leonardo returned to the house on Zapote with a gift for his wife, and stood
knocking at the gate for so long the neighbors gathered at windows to watch him. Finally, he
was allowed to enter, present his gift to Lydia and talk with her for a moment. She said that her
father seemed agreeable to a meeting with Leonardo's father, to discuss the young couple's
problem. So the elder Quitangon and two of his younger sons went to Zapote one evening.
The lights were on in Cabading house, but nobody responded to their knocking. Then all the
lights were turned off. As they stood wondering what to do, a servant girl came and told them
that the master was out. (Lydia would later tell them that they had not been admitted because
her father had not yet decided what she was to say to them.)
The last act of this curious drama began Sunday last week when Leonardo was astounded
to receive an early-morning phone call from his wife. She said she could no longer bear to be
parted from him and bade him pick her up at a certain church, where she was with her foster
brother. Leonardo rushed to the church, picked up two, and dropped the boy off at a street
near Zapote, then sped with Lydia to Maragondon, Cavite where the Quitangons have a house.
He stopped at a gasoline station to call up his brothers in Sta. Mesa, to tell them what he had
done and to warn them that Cabading would surely show up there. "Get Mother out of the
house," he told his brothers.
At about ten in the morning, a taxi stopped before the Quitangon house in Sta. Mesa and Mrs.
Cabading got out and began screaming at the gate: "Where's my daughter? Where's my
daughter?" Gene and Nonilo Quitangon went out to the gate and invited her to come in. "No! No!
All I want is my daughter!" she screamed. Cabading, who was inside the waiting taxi, then got
out and demanded that the Quitangons produce Lydia. Vexed, Nonilo Quitangon cried: "Abah,
what have we do with where your daughter is? Anyway, she's with her husband." At that,
Cabading ran to the taxi, snatched a submachine gun from a box, and trained it on Gene
Quitangon. (Nonilo had run into the house to get a gun.)
"Produce my daughter at once or I'll shoot you all down!" shouted Cabading.

Gene, the gun's muzzle practically in his face, sought to pacify the older man: "Why can't we
talk this over quietly, like decent people, inside the house? Look, we're creating a scandal in the
neighborhood.”
Cabading lowered his gun. "I give you till midnight tonight to produce my daughter," he growled. "If
you don't, you better ask the PC to guard this house!"
Then he and his wife drove off in the taxi, just a moment before the mobile police patrol the
neighbors had called arrived. The police advised Gene to file a complaint with the fiscal's
office. Instead, Gene decided to go to the house on Zapote Street, hoping that "diplomacy"
would work.
To his surprise, he was admitted at once by a smiling and very genial Cabading. "You are a
brave man," he told Gene, "and a lucky one", and he ordered a coke brought for the visitor.
Gene said that he was going to Cavite but could not promise to "produce". Lydia by midnight: it
was up to the couple to decide whether they would come back.
It was about eight in the evening when Gene arrived in Maragondon. As his car drove into
the yard of this family's old house, Lydia and Leonardo
appeared at a window and frantically asked what had happened. "Nothing," said Gene, and
their faces lit up. "We're having our honeymoon at last," Lydia told Gene as he entered the
house. And the old air of dread, of mystery, did seem to have lifted from her face. But it was
there again when, after supper, he told them what had happened in Sta. Mesa.
"I can't go back," she moaned. "He'll kill me! He'll kill me!"
"He has cooled down now," said Gene. "He seems to be a reasonable man after all."
"Oh, you don't know him!" cried Lydia. "I've known him longer, and I've never, never been
happy!"
And the brothers at last had glimpses of the girlhood she had been so reticent about. She
told them of Cabading's baffling changes of temper, especially toward her; how smiles
and found words and caresses could abruptly turn into beatings when his mood darkened.
Leonardo said that his father-in-law was an artista, "Remember how he used to fan me
when I supped there while I was courting Lydia?"
(At about that time, in Sta. Mesa, Nonilo Quitanongon, on guard at the gate of his family's
house, saw Cabading drive past three times in a taxi.)
"I can't force you to go back," said Gene. "You'll have to decide that yourselves. But what,
actually, are you planning to do? You can't stay forever here in Maragondon. What would
you live on?"
The two said they would talk it over for a while in their room. Gene waited at the supper
table and when a long time had passed and they had not come back he went to the room.
Finding the door ajar, he looked in. Lydia and Leonardo were on their knees on the floor,
saying the rosary, Gene returned to the supper table. After another long wait, the couple
came out of the room.
Said Lydia: "We have prayed together and we have decided to die together.” We'll go
back with you, in the morning."
They we’re back in Manila early the next morning. Lydia and Leonardo went straight to the
house in Sta. Mesa, where all their relatives and friends warned them not to go back to
the house on Zapote Street, as they had decided to do. Confused anew, they went to the

Manila police headquarters to ask for advice, but the advice given seemed drastic to
them: summon Cabading and have it out with him in front of his superior officer.
Leonardo's father then offered to go to Zapote with Gene and Nonilo, to try to reason with
Cabading.
They found him in good humor, full of smiles and hearty greetings. He reproached his balae
for not visiting him before. "I did come once," drily remarked the elder Quitangon, "but no
one would open the gate." Cabading had his wife called. She came into the room and sat
down. "Was I in the house that night our balae came?" her husband asked her. "No, you were
out," she replied. Having spoken her piece, she got up and left the room. (On their various
visits to the house on Zapote Street, the Quitangons noticed that Mrs. Cabading
appeared only when summoned and vanished as soon as she had done whatever was
expected of her).
Cabading then announced that he no longer objected to Lydia's moving out of the house
to live with her husband in an apartment of their own. Overjoyed, the Quitangons urged
Cabading to go with them in Sta. Mesa, so that the newlyweds could be reconciled with
Lydia's parents. Cabading readily agreed.
When they arrived in Sta. Mesa, Lydia and Leonardo were sitting on a sofa in the sala.
"Why have you done this?" her father chided her gently. "If you wanted to move out, did you
have to run away?" To Leonardo, he said: "And you - are angry with me?" house by
themselves. Gene Quitangon felt so felt elated he proposed a celebration: "I'll throw a blowout! Everybody is invited! This is on me!" So they all went to Max's in Quezon City and had
a very merry fried-chicken party. "Why, this is a family reunion!" laughed Cabading. "This
should be on me!" But Gene would not let him pay the bill.
Early the next morning, Cabading called up the Sta. Mesa house to pay that his wife had
fallen ill. Would Lydia please visit her? Leonardo and Lydia went to Zapote, found nothing
the matter with her mother, and returned to Sta. Mesa. After lunch, Leonardo left for his
classes. Then Cabading called up again. Lydia's mother refused to eat and kept asking for
her daughter. Would Lydia please drop in again at the house on Zapote? Gene and Nonilo
Quitangon said they might as well accompany Lydia there and start moving out her things.
When they arrived at the Zapote house, the Quitangon brothers were amused bywhat they
saw. Mrs. Cabading, her eyes closed, lay on the parlor sofa, a large towel spread out beneath
her. "She has been lying there all day," said Cabading, "tossing restlessly, asking for you,
Lydia." Gene noted that the towel was neatly spread out and didn't look crumpled at all, and
that Mrs. Cabadingwas obviously just pretending to be asleep. He smiled at the childishness
of the stratagem, but Lydia was past being amused. She won’t straight to her room, were
they heard her pulling out drawers. While the Quitangons and Cabading were conversing,
the supposedly sick mother slipped out of the sofa and went upstairs to Lydia's room.
Cabading told the Quitangons that he wanted Lydia and Leonardo to stay there; at the house
in Zapote. "I thought all that was settled last night," Gene groaned.
"I built this house for Lydia," persisted Cabading, "and this house is hers. If she and her
husband want to be alone, I and my wife will move out of here, turn this house over to
them." Gene wearily explained that Lydia and Leonardo preferred the apartment they had
already leased.

Suddenly the men heard the clatter of a drawer falling upstairs. Gene surmised that it had
fallen in a struggle between mother and daughter. "Excuse me," said Cabading, rising. As
he went upstairs, he said to the Quitangons, over his shoulder, “Don't misunderstand me. I'm
not going to 'coach' Lydia". He went into Lydia's room and closed the door behind him.
After a long while, Lydia and her father came out of the room together and came down to
the sala together. Lydia was clasping a large crucifix. There was no expression on her face
when she told the Quitangon boys to go home. "But I thought we were going to start
moving your things out this afternoon,,"said Gene. She glanced at the crucifix and said it was
one of the first things she wanted taken to her new home. "Just tell Narding to fetch me," she
said.
Back in Sta. Mesa, Gene and Nonilo had the painful task of telling Leonardo, when he
phoned, that Lydia was back in the house on Zapote. "Why did you leave her there?" cried
Leonardo. "He'll beat her up! I'm going to get her." Gene told him not you go alone, to pass
by the Sta. Mesa house first and pick up Nonilo. Gene could not go along; he had to catch a
bus for Subic, where he works. When Leonardo arrived, Gene told him: "Don't force Lydia to
go withyou. If she doesn't want to, leave at once. Do not, for any reason, be persuaded to
stay there too."
When his brother had left for Zapote, Gene realized that he was not sure he was going to
Subic. He left too worried. He knew he couldn't rest easy until he had seen Lydia and
Leonardo settled in their new home. The minutes quickly ticked past as he debated with
himself whether he should stay or catch that bus. Then, at about a quarter to seven, the
phone rang. It was Nonilo, in anguish.
"Something terrible has happened in Lydia's room! I heard four shots," he cried.
"Who are up there?"
"Lydia and Narding and the Cabadings."
"I'll be right over.
Gene sent a younger brother to inform the family lawyer and to alert the Makati police. Then
he drove like mad to Zapote. It was almost dark when he got there. The house stood perfectly
still, not a light on inside. He watched it from a distance but could see no movement, Then
a taxi drove up and out jumped Nonilo. He had telephoned from a gasoline station. He
related what had happened.
He said that when he and Leonardo arrived at the Zapote house, Cabading motioned
Leonardo upstairs: "Lydia is in her room." Leonardo went up; Cabading gave Nonilo a cup
of coffee and chatted amiably with him. Nonilo saw Mrs. Cabading go up to Lydia's room with a
glass of milk. A while later, they heard a woman scream, followed by sobbing. "There seems
to be trouble up there," said Cabading, and he went upstairs. Nonilo saw him enter Lydia's
room, leaving the door open. A few moments later, the door was closed. Then Nonilo heard
three shots. He stood petrified, but when he heard a fourth shot he dashed out of the
house, ran to a gasoline station and called up Gene.

Nonilo pointed to the closed front gate; he was sure he had left it open when he ran out.
The brothers suspected that Cabading was lurking somewhere in the darkness, with his
gun.
Before them loomed the dark house, now so sinister and evil in their eyes. The upper
story that jutted forward, forming the house's chief facade, bore a curious sign: Dra. Lydia
C. Cabading, Lady Physician. (Apparently, Lydia continued- or was made- to use her maiden
name.) Above the sign was the garland of colored lights that have been put up for
Christmas and had not yet been removed. It was an ice-cold night, the dark of the moon,
but the two brothers shivered not from the wind blowing down the lonely murky street but
from pure horror of the house that had so fatally thrust itself into their lives.
But the wind remembered when the sighs it heard here were only the sighing of the ripe
grain, when the cries it heard were only the crying of birds nesting in the reeds, for all these
new suburbs in Makati used to be grassland, riceland, marshland, or pastoral solitudes
where few cared to go, until the big city spilled hither, replacing the uprooted reeds with
split-levels, pushing noisy little streets into the heart of the solitude, and collecting here
from all over the country the uprooted souls that now moan or giggle where once the
carabao wallowed and the frogs croaked day and night. In very new suburbs, one feels human
sorrow to be a grass intrusion on the labors of nature. Even barely two years ago, the
talahib still rose man-high on the plot of ground on Zapote Street where now stands the relic
of an ambiguous love.
As the Quitangon brothers shivered in the darkness, a police van arrived and unloaded
quite a large contingent of policemen. The Quitangons warned them that Cabading had a
submachine gun. The policemen crawled toward the front gate and almost jumped when a
young girl came running across the yard, shaking with terror and shrieking gibberish. She
was one of the maids. She and her companion and the foster son had fled from the house
when they heard the shooting and had been hiding in the yard. It was they who had closed
the front gate.
A policeman volunteered to enter the house through the back door; Gene said he would try
the front one. He peered in at a window and could detect no one in the sala. He slipped a
hand inside, opened the front door and entered, just as the policeman came in from the
kitchen. As they crept up the stairs they heard a moaning in Lydia's room. They tried the door
but it was blocked from inside. "Push it, push it," wailed a woman's voice. The policeman
pushed the door hard and what was blocking it gave. He groped for the switch and turned
light. As they entered, he and Gene shuddered at what they saw.
The entire room was spattered with blood. On the floor, blocking the door, lay Mrs.
Cabading. She had been shot in the chest and stomach but was still alive. The policeman
tried to get a statement from her but all she could say was: "My hand, my hand- it hurts!"
She was lying across the legs of her daughter, who lay on top of her husband's body.
Lydia was still clutching an armful of clothes; Leonardo was holding a clothes hanger. He
had been shot in the breast; she, in the heart. They had died instantly, together.
Sprawled face up on his daughter's bed, his mouth agape and his eyes bulging open as
though still staring in horror and the bright blood splashed on his face laid Pablo Cabading.

"Oh, I cursed him!" cries Eugenio Quitangon with passion. "Oh, I cursed him as he lay there
dead, God forgive me! Yes, I cursed that dead man there on that bed, for I had wanted to find
him alive!"
From the position of the bodies and from Mrs. Cabading's statements later at the hospital,
it appears that Cabading shot Lydia while she was shielding her husband and Mrs. Cabading
when she tried to shield Lydia. Then he turned the gun on himself, and it's an indication of
the man's uncommon strength and power that, after the first shot, through the right side of
the head, which must have been mortal enough, he seems to have been able, as his
hands dropped to his breast, to fire at himself a second time. The violent spasm of agony
must have sent the gun - a .45 caliber pistol- flying from his hand. It was found at the foot of
the bed, near Mrs. Cabading's feet.
The drama of the jealous father had ended at about half-past six in the evening, Tuesday last
week.
The next day, hurrying commuters slowed down and a whispering crowd gathered before
1074 Zapote Street, to watch the police and the reporters going through the pretty little
house that Pablo Cabading built for his Lydia.

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