Exile, Once Again

Officially, I am on the warpath to another exilic life. I should be a soldier again--a soldier of exile. So, move on, pack your bag and go--and fast.

After more than three years of trying to take root in Los Angeles with its promises and possibilities, I am calling it quits with Hollywood and its pretentions not because I want to but because there are obligations to do and there are sojourns to take and explore and figure out.

This teaching appointment in the U of Hawaii Manoa is coming in as a blessing and grace. And I pray for grace and blessing, for more grace and blessing. And endlessly.

The documents linked to the teaching appointment are coming in and the offer to get to the appointment process has arrived and by the grace of the giver of all graces, I should be able to relocate to Honolulu before Fall 2006 begins.

But this good luck does not come easy--it has not come easy in the first place.

Like the rains of May that I saw and tasted in Marikina when I went home last April and May--I literary had to cup the rains when they came profusely because mother and father told us when we were younger that the first rains had to be cupped and then used as some kind of a holy water on the belly, delicately poured and then massaged.

To wash off all the dirt of the summer heat, mother told us.

To prevent bad air to get into the stomach, father told us.

So back to the primitive way, primitive here dating back to its better lexicographic origins rather than the mocking ways of children in the likes of Ayi and Camille who would always say: superstitious old man, old man.

And this calling now: Thunder!, with the word so mockingly said because it is pronounced with the clear theta and the soft r, almost silent r, with the vowel e sound just prolonged to accommodate the imagined r consonant the way the Londoners pronounce their terminal r sound.

The children call me thunder and I thought, wow! wow! that is one hell of a fantastic fantasy I would have wanted to call myself except that the great filmmaker and visual ethnographer, Kidlat Tahimik, might accuse me of being the worst of imitators, plagiarists, riders, and lazy idiots.

Kidlat is sikat and I am not and so I thought again, thought hard, thought hard more and more.

Thunder, thunder--ha!

The children are the greatest of the conspirators on the face of the earth because you have to have problems when they are in agreement of something and you have to have equal problems when they are like Iran and Iraq--or Israel or Palestine.

Have they been cooking up something again and they are burning the whole house so they can try their linguistic and eponymous (they do not know the meaning of this other term, I am sure, and so they will look at the dictionary which I bought for them so they will learn the meaning of words and worlds and life, bwahahaha!)abilities.

They are playing tricks on me, I thought.

So the confrontation--the way one confronts the demands of another exile, this moving away to another place with its own demand on time, time, and time.

Los Angeles is pure harassment. Time is linear here and your worth is not your person but your production, as if the city and country were big factory of all things, from ambition to zilch, the last one in its most abstract form, zilchness perhaps?

Honolulu is laid back, circular, and the Manoa is a university town, laid out on the shoulder of a georgeous mountain on one side and the Waikiki on the other.

It is difficult to be anonymous in Honolulu. In Los Angeles, you can lose yourself anytime without anyone recognizing you that you have arrived and that you have also left.

Which is what I like in LA. You get to savor your being incognito. But you are robbed of life. You become inert, like a stone, or a marble, or a freeway.

And so you plan your departure, one day each time.

First, you think about how to survive before you move.

Second,you count how much dollars you need to survive and go find out how to look for the dollars you need. (The excess pesos you have in your wallet, a rip-off from the travel tax and the terminal fee they robbed of you at the NAIA have to wait for your next trip home because in this country of the mighty dollar, you need to speak English and spend yours dollars, first by buying the phone card you need to call home and then taking your chances in the megalotto and the superlotto; the fantasy games you do not wage--you simply do not know how to bet in that game of chance and you do not want to know how to).

Third, you throw away your ripped off maleta and imagine buying a sturdier one next time at the Mall of Asia on Macapagal Avenue in Pasay so you can contribute to the gross income of a certain Mr Sy so he can put up some more of the phallic symbols of capital unregulated, with its sub-contracting of labor of the obnoxious (sometimes, sometimes because they do not give you the chance to think for yourself when you are contemplating buying some shirt for your aching body!) sales ladies and salemen.

The malls sprouting like mushrooms all around are symbols of our poverty as a people--and are used to masked off the deprivation of the masses.

These capitalist trophies and towers and phalluses are there to hide the truth that we are getting poorer and hungrier each day--and the capitalists are getting more powerful with their profits and pesos and political connections.

Just look at the kabataan getting in the malls and cooling their heads off during summer time--or the parents faking it, faking that they are happy going around the malls without any of the mall bags on their hands.

What a masquerade--and this is capitalist symbology that Silas and that idiot of a Robert Langdon in the imagination of this writer Brown should have unmasked--not that medievalism of the Opus Dei and their synchophants!

So I tell them, you too, what is the meaning of thunder? My voice is insistent, livid, angry, and I am certain they are playing the game of what I would call "exuberance of youth"--a certain show of immortality.

No answer, except the laughters, mocking and insulting and then as if suggesting, what do you know, old man?

I turn to their mom for help.

What is thunder, I ask her while she works on her Big Brother show on the internet or something.

The conspirators look at each other.

I give them a menacing look. And threatening them with ex-communication from the father's house--The Father's House.

And then this young lady, unable to withstand the hatred in my eyes, confesses: thunder, tanda, old man.

That is one prize we have to pay when our life has been defined by exile.

And in my going on exile once again, with my bags being filled with shirts that have not been ironed for some time but only washed and then machine dried and left to wrinkle in the closet, I am sure I will get to encounter one other thunder down the road, minus Kidlat Tahimik and the wrath of his art.

But never mind. I have the rage of my words.

A. S. Agcaoili
Drafted while on the road to San Clemente, San Gabriel Mission in order to pray for more grace, and then written in the apartment that has been a witness to my exilic life, Sunday, May 21, 2006, 6:15PM.

No comments: