We Confront the Politicians
On the television screen, a thin rugged-looking young man, an AK-47 slung on one shoulder, drags a fat half-naked older man to the chair in the center of the room. Behind the now-seated man, on the wall, is a huge flag – a black hammer and sickle crossed with each other against a background of red. The camera focuses on the face of the politician, and he speaks. He tells us the reason for the singing practice is that the people have to be entertained. The people love it when you sing to them. It soothes their soul. This has been proven before, decades, almost a century ago even, during pre-election season. Apo Marcos and the First Lady Imelda had their duet sessions, up in that stage, brightly-lit, giant speakers by the sides of the stage and all over the venue, so everyone could hear. They looked so sweet, singing the alternating verses. And the crowd loved it. As you see, the captured politician continues, it was a necessary expense for the people. He tells us he hired some of those singing contest judges on TV to train him and his fellow politician friends. Music studios were built, using public money, just so they have some space to practice their singing. They bought pianos, violins, those giant violin-like things, guitars (electric and acoustic), drum sets, custom-made microphones imported from the United States and Japan. The room is of course acoustically-engineered, built so everything sounds clear and warm.
A microphone is set-up in front of the sitting chained politician. His hands are bound at the back, so the height and distance of it from his mouth had to be adjusted by somebody else. The camera zooms in on the scared fat face of the politician. From the side of the screen, the tip of an AK-47 pokes out and nudges his cheek a couple of times, prodding him, goading him. “Go on, sing for us,” a voice says off-camera, “let’s see the people’s taxes at work.” The music starts. It’s a familiar song, a classic, everyone in the country knows it.
“And now, the end is near …” The voice is tear-soaked and quavery. The sound is full-bodied and warm. It sounds very authentic. You can feel it in your gut. It seems the lyrics have really been internalized by the singer. What the politician must have been thinking is the path that he has trudged in order to get to the top, where he was, just a few months ago. He remembers all the difficulties he had to face, all the rivals and enemies, all the critics, the journalists and activists mostly, with their rallies and their hurtful words which really hurt his feelings. He really did it his way though. It was through his own means that these obstacles of his will, of his becoming, have been defeated. The voice comes not just from his mouth, but from his heart as well.
The politician thinks of his family – his sons and daughters from his marriage, and even the ones from his numerous liaisons with different women throughout the years. He’s thinking about them, of cradling each of them in the crook of his arm, of bringing each and every single one of them in front of the altar to be baptized, to be accepted into the Catholic fold. Singing, he remembers. And this comes through, and the people he thinks, notices this, and they love him. It’s about family, it’s about tradition, it’s about morality, it’s about the children and the future.
-bang. the young man shoots him in the head.
He met the girl in a bar. Or rather, she was brought to him in a private lounge in a bar. She was young and pretty, hair short and shiny. She smelled so nice. She wore a figure-hugging red dress, as well as too much make-up. That first night, after an intense bout of sexual acrobatics (mostly performed by her), he thought there was something different about her. While cleaning herself up in the shower, she would hum this tune, which he later repeated to his bodyguards and assistants. Finally one told him that it’s from an old Cebuano love song called ‘Matud Nila.’ It’s about this man who laments about how other people say he does not deserve the girl he’s pining for. He was smitten with her and brought her gifts and a house and a car, and gave her money so she could go on vacations. When he found out she likes to sing, he brought her to his private studio and had her sing her heart out. With a little training, her singing improved, and she started moonlighting as a singer in the bar.
One day, she called him and said a surprise was waiting for him. She chose a room in a classy hotel for them to meet in. What new surprise could she have for him, he though. He had his men wait in the lobby of the floor. It was a big hotel, and on each floor there was a lobby. Smiling, he opened the unlocked room and was immediately set-upon by a group of men. He was so surprised and shocked, he could not even scream. When he woke up, he was facing the bright lights and camera. “Where is she, what have you done to her?” First words he uttered to the blinding light. As his vision resolved, he saw her. She was wearing a green cap with a red five-pointed star in the middle. Her face looked so different, so serious. If it wasn’t for the red dress she was wearing, he would not have recognized her. She was humming a tune from ‘Matud Nila.’ She hummed it while she started slapping him. Her humming grew louder as she started punching his stomach. She was finally singing the song when he fell over and she started kicking him.
-The months following his capture was a blur. No one, none of the pundits and analysts on the newspapers, television and radio could figure out how the communists managed to overthrow the government. One said, it seemed the government was sidetracked or something. It was too busy about the upcoming elections and the re-alignment of alliances and loyalties that it did not notice the communists were actually winning. The politician was just one of the dozens of key government officials that were captured by the insurgents.
These commentators were finally silenced as the Committee on Communications took over the airwaves.