Sunday, October 7, 2007

Philippines - Palaver!

Koytus Interaptus sa Mai/lakan/iyan

A Play by Alberto Florentino

SETTING: The play carries no date---day, month, or year---since the play never really happened in the real world, only in the city, or the theater, of the mind; thus, a short drama fiction, or fiction drama, a la Jorge Luis Borges' ficciones.

SCENE: A backroom in El Palacio. Lunchtime. El General and a high-class call-girl (aka Sonia) are meeting for a McQuickie, the equivalent of the Big Mac taken at midday.

SONIA: (in a voice Mina Sorvino used in Woody Allen's movie Mighty Aphrodite). And where, Señor Presidente, is your small room?

HENERAL: Please, just call me Heneral. (points to the C.R. and makes as if to accompany her)

SONIA: I'll be back in a sec! Get yourself ready. We don't have much time. (enters the C. R., toting what looks like a lady's make-up kit)

(EL HENERAL primps up: takes out a comb and fixes his Elvis Presley hair, opens the front door, and talks to someone on the other side of the door)

HENERAL: No calls---nothing and nobody---until one thirty.

(HENERAL is about to to remove his coat when SONIA returns from the C.R., brandishing a high-caliber automatic handgun which he aims pointblank at a spot between the HENERAL's eyes.)

SONIA: (in her Mina Sorvino voice) Surprise! Surprise!

HENERAL: (really surprised) Hey! Careful there!

(SONIA takes off her wig and we see YOMA in a drag make-up that matches his/her mini-skirt and high heels.)

HENERAL: (regaining his composure) That . . . surely was . . . the quickest sex-change ever!

YOMA: (speaking in his male voice for the first time) You know who I am? Do I have to shed this off?

HENERAL: (points to handgun) Not one unauthorized firearm has been found inside El Palacio since I took office. How did that pass my security?

YOMA: Remember when Al Pacino goes to the C.R. in Godfather and comes out with gun blazing?

HENERAL: I'm not too fond of movies.

YOMA: Then see Godfather. It's a classic: a lesson on how to run an empire.

HENERAL: May I? (indicates phone)

YOMA: Sure, you're allowed one call. (coolly takes one of the chairs in front of the table, all the time keeping the gun pointed steadily at the HENERAL)

HENERAL: (He lifts the phone and finds it dead. He feels under his desk to press a button but it gives no sound) You've cut all lines---who did---planted the gun---

YOMA: That's my secret M.O. Now, as per your instructions, no one will bother us for the next half-hour while we make love---here on this table?

HENERAL: Cut that out! What do you want?

YOMA: I'll be brief. Call off your plans to stay in office. The constitution limits you to eight years---not one day more.

HENERAL: But if the people want me---

YOMA: Yes, the people want you . . . out!

HENERAL: But the polls say---

YOMA: All your inventions.

HENERAL: And the media---there's not a freer press in the whole world!

YOMA: Nor one more corrupt. You've bought all of them. As you are trying to do with the Camara so they'll amend the constitution to extend your term.

HENERAL: But what if that's what the people want? And the Camara and the Cabinet?

YOMA: All your creations, and all to perpetuate your stay in El Palacio!

HENERAL: I may have got some people to want me to stay, but can you blame me if everyone wants me to continue in power?

YOMA: Everyone?

HENERAL: Well, almost everyone. The millions who signed the petitions!

YOMA: All stamped "bought, sold, and paid for." If one had ten billion pesetas---which your Banco Central can print in one weekend like bottle labels---it can buy you anything, or anyone. For small change, enough to buy them a Big Mac at McDo; the poor millions will sell their votes and elect the monkey in the Palacio petting zoo as President, or vote you to succeed yourself!

HENERAL: Yoma! I bailed you out when you were down and out. Your movies were not making money. I offered you to be my defense secretary, or any Cabinet post. Instead, you ran to the hills, plotted against my government, and staged one unsuccessful coup after another!

YOMA: Señor, we don't have much time. Your security will knock in a few minutes.

HENERAL: Look, Yoma, I know how to forgive. You may have anything you want---anyone---any woman---or any man if that's your---

YOMA: Here's my counter-offer you can't refuse. I want you to abdicate. Give everything up, except what you and your family will need in the next 50 years---you may live in comfort in any country of your choice. It's all here, just sign on the dotted line.

HENERAL: And if I don't?

YOMA: Again, let me quote from the Godfather movie. "Your signature on the dotted line, or your brains." (with his free hand takes out a silencer from his make-up kit and screws it on without relaxing his aim)

HENERAL: (panicking only now) You know me well, Yoma. I'm the immovable wall to your unstoppable bullet. But we can still strike a deal. Drop that gun and you can walk out of here. Or I can make you a "designer amnesty" right now, in my own handwriting. Run under my party and I'll make you President, after my term. I'll annoint you. As sure as the sun rises, you get elected, you get to run this country.

YOMA: After you've sucked it dry? Leaving the country---

HENERAL: Why think of the country at this moment? Think of yourself, your family.

YOMA: All I wanted was to be mayor of Quezon City. I know my limitations, mentally, intellectually.

HENERAL: Why let the people in on it? Why be . . . limited?

YOMA: Stop brainwashing me. I want your signature here---now!

HENERAL: And if I don't? When my secretary and my security enter, you're kaput. You're a dead man walking. That movie I saw, did you . . .

(They hear footsteps and voices outside the door. Both panic. Knocks on the door)

HENERAL: Time's running! If I don't open the door a minute after 1:30, you're DEAD!




(The clock on the wall rings 1:30. At close range YOMA shoots the HENERAL once between his eyes. The HENERAL's blood splatters on the paper on the table)

YOMA/SONIA: (in a Mina Sorvina voice, looking at the audience) Who was the playwright who once wrote, "If you bring in a gun on stage, it must be fired"?

(YOMA/SONIA quickly puts on his/her wig, and fixing his/her mini-skirt and makeup walks up to the door as knocks and the first voices [the secretary's and the security's] are heard)

YOMA/SONIA: I'm coming out! (opens the door just a foot wide) Just on time! (points to the HENERAL slumped on the table but looking as if he were only taking a nap) The President's resting as you can see.

(The secretary offers a thick envelope to YOMA/SONIA. A security man tries to enter but is stopped by the hesitant secretary blocking the way and by YOMA/SONIA holding the door back)

YOMA/SONIA: If I were you, I wouldn't wake him up yet. Let him finish his siesta. When he wakes up, he will be a young buck again. Here's my card, in case he calls for me, and I know he will. I made sure he will.

(The secretary again offers the envelope to him)

YOMA/SONIA: (refuses the envelope) Oh, no, no, Ma'am, no. This is different, not what you think! If you'll let me pass, I have to meet someone else in the palace and I'll need someone to lead me.

(Then, clinging to the security man's arm, YOMA/SONIA walks through the door, past the secretary and the other security men. Once past the door, the people outside the door peer through the opening. Then slowly, quietly, they close the door and leave the HENERAL to enjoy his presidential Post-coital Siesta)


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