Day in and day out now, I am taking my chances as a writer and researcher.
The university is all-calmness and serenity and peace and quiet, with only a few ringings of the office phone to break my self-imposed silence and the obligatory cleaning lady's ransacking of my garbage can in mid-morning.
The whole of the last floor of my building is all mine.
It pays that my office is in a corner overlooking a mountain hedging the Manoa part of the campus, towards the east where the Waikiki sun rises religiously and predictably even if some mornings are for lingering and waiting and meditating. From my window, on the northwest, I get a glimpse of the magnificent incline of the Tantalus mountain, the mountain famous for its lookouts, the lookouts giving you a panoramic view of the sea in the south, and the Pearl Harbor in the south-west farther up. Either way, when good luck comes in handy, I see a big rainbow dotting the vast expanse of a light blue sky, with the light rain giving the blessing when the raibow exhibits its colorful glow that always hints of hope and happiness somewhere.
The rainbow scene is regular. The Manoa valley is known for its spectacular display that, on a regular day with that light drizzle wetting the blades of grass, you see young people taking out their cameras and ever-ready to digitalize that colorful canvass as large as life itself.
I tell myself now: When life is all but bluster and bluff like the empty promises of unpredictable wind from the silly waves on the shore not far away, you simply look to the rainbow and there, with its colors, you remember the promise of Yahweh to his people: that promise of renewal. Of hope. Of new beginning. Of the universe that was dead but coming to life again.
At three, I get tired doing many things at the same time.
I need to stretch a bit, I remind myself.
I get up to look at the sun now beaten by the gusty wind and the rain that abruptly comes and goes, as if, indeed, the elves and the fairies are on their way to a wedding ceremony with the forces of the universe.
I remember that late in the morning Rep. Jun Abinsay called me up to say that the Cabugao Performing Group will have their day at the Filipino Community Center and he said, could I go and lend my support and I would be his guest. I will, I told him. I will also call up Raymund Liongson, I promised him.
This Ilokano performing group made up of out-of-school youth are here to showcase the best that we can ever have from the heritage our ancestors put together so we can celebrate life in its earnest. I think of all the Ilokanos who have remained steadfast with their culture and language.
I took my coffee mug, and finish up the French vanilla coffee that has gone cold for many hours, the coffee tasting like a bland frappe from a street-corner coffee house.
I get out of the office, cramped now with books and index cards and research boxes snatched from some shoes, the boxes wrapped in colorful paper to hide the brand of shoes that I bought for the first time to reward myself for one hell of a job I have done right. Of course, only I knew that, and to psyche myself up to doing good next time, I dangled before me a carrot and here, here, the shoe box is a proof.
I need to breath--take in as much fresh air as I could.
I need to forget all the debates about the literature of exile I am reading to brush up my theory, about Urrea's account of the the tragedy of border crossing in that "Highway of Death" in Arizona, about the phrase I have yet to think about some vague hope springing eternal in the hearts of men and women even if some of them are beyond redemption.
I need to forget about my play "Red Earth, Brown Earth" that I am trying to revise, make it full-blown, and develop a two-hour, three-act play out of it.
I needed to write "Pukan Cane," that screenplay of a commercial film that I want to offer as an oblation to the perennial Filipino, the one who does not die but comes to us eternal, the "Pukan Cane" his own story and detailing at the same time all the tales of the sakadas and Filipinos during the last hundred years of their sacrifices and thus, a century of their sanctifying acts in the name of country and people and the future. "Pukan Cane" is an ambitious project but I keep praying I will have the nerve to keep it going and ever-fresh in my mind.
I need to sustain my momentum for all these--and the best time to jot down the outline is now--this now before things get too complicated once classes will again pick up and your holy hours are all snatched from you because these hours are not yours but are meant to serve others.
I run out of the office, jog around a bit, and then walk to the Structure, that famous general parking area, five floors in all spanning many acres of parking spaces, and a real distance away from my building.
I hop on my trustworthy car and get out of the campus, drive west, to the foot of the mountain and there take in all the fresh air I could take, breathing consciously like the Sadhana way, and always remembering my "Om, Om." Many years of hardship and prayer and studies in the religious and vowed life pay sometimes, and when the spirit goes awry and directionless, the Sadhana breathing comes in handy, and the remembrance of my God comes in quick and easy. I always relax this way.
I drive some more to the west, past the Pali that leads to the Philippine Consulate, past Likelike that leads to the heart of the Kalihi Uka where there, at the back of the homes of Ilokanos, there, a living brook murmurs the song of relief and renewal.
I get refreshed and I turn back. Now I am driving to the east.
At five, the sun is still up--and the drizzle keeps on with its shower of water, blessing the earth and blessing it some more.
I see puddles in some areas, and I witness the delicate dance of tree leaves, gracefully swaying with the south wind.
I drive some more, and there, before me, the beautiful and big rainbow appears, its colors those of the earth that breathes, the universe that lives, my mind that imagines how to seize this moment, catch it in a metaphor no one has thought of before.
Tough luck. I give up.
I drive towards the rainbow, and that was enough.
A Solver Agcaoili
Dec 28/06/7:20 PM