Saturday, September 25, 2010

Part 37: Visitors

We were rehearsing twice a day now and Rug was pulling out what remained of his hair, trying to get us to properly enunciate the lyrics for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. We finally got it down fairly well, but I think he just gave up hoping we would get it perfect. Besides, we were going hoarse from all the singing and the kitchen was now supplying hot tea steeped with ginger root to sooth our sore throats. It was a little awkward performing in the narrow Amos assembly hall, there wasn't enough room for the chorus and the band to join the actors on the same stage, so we were positioned about halfway down the room while the band was off to one side of the stage. We were facing the audience so we couldn't see the action on stage, focusing our attention on Rug, just where he wanted it to be! Jaime and Elmer really got in to their roles and we picked up on their energy and sang with gusto!

Between theater productions our Junior Varsity team got the opportunity to play soccer on the Varsity team. We were playing an
exhibition game with PMA (the Philippine Military Academy) at Brent and they were killing us. They were physically so much bigger than the players on our high school team and injuries were taking their toll. The varsity coach (Mr Jenista) was even playing trying to keep us from looking too bad. Early in the game the Coach Allegre passed the word for the JV team to suit up and I ran back to the dorm to grab my uniform. He was going to rotate us in as filler to give the Varsity players a chance to rest. As I stepped off of the Neutral on to the asphalt my cleats slipped on the pavement and I landed on my ass! Right in front of the girlfriend. Ah, the humiliation! But I didn't look back to see if Trini was laughing at me and headed gingerly down to the field. Just as I got to the top of the steps I saw Mark Becker trying to steal the ball from one of the PMA forwards. They both kicked at the ball at the same time and Mark Becker fell over. He tried to stand up but fell over again. The ref stopped the game and Coach Allegre ran over to see if he was OK. By the time I got to our bench he was helping Mark off the field. A broken leg!
"you're in Walter" ... uh, that would be me.
My stomach was in knots as I ran out on to the field. These PMA guys were huge! Well, maybe our guys can keep the ball on the opposite end I thought. It didn't last long and soon this human tank of a player came barreling down the field towards me and I bravely raced forward to meet him. My foot connected with the ball, his shoulder hit mine and then the world got funny. I was flipping
horizontally in the air, I saw the sky three times before landing on my back with the wind knocked out of me. I struggled to my feet trying to divine the location of the ball and hoped he wouldn't score. Our goalie managed to save the ball and once again I prayed that the ball would stay on the other side of the field. No such luck. Here came the tank again and when he spied me he got this big grin on his face. This time he just ran right over me. Literally. I saw stars and felt my teeth rattle as he stepped on my head, then heard the referee's whistle and felt someone lifting me up, the field out of focus; there wasn't any part of my body that didn't hurt.
"Walter you're out!" ...Thank You Jesus.

On the first of March the International Club (
Pilipino, French and Spanish classes) took a field trip to the old colonial Spanish town of Vigan. We left Brent around 5:30 one morning and stopped in Bauang for breakfast provided by the parents of my classmate Bessie Manaois. When we got to Vigan a few hours later we headed over to St. Paul's Cathedral with it's free standing octagonal bell tower for a tour of the church and the Archbishop's palace all dating back to the late 17oo's. We then toured the Mestizo district with it's old Spanish homes, considered to be the best preserved colonial Spanish town in Asia. It was a city steeped in Philippine history: home to Father Jose Burgos, one of three priests executed in the early 1800's during a rebellion against Spanish rule; a hundred years later it was the headquarters for General Emilio Aguinaldo (first president of the Philippines) who fought against the Spanish and then the Americans. Then the Governor of Ilocos Sur invited our group over for a lavish barbecue luncheon at his ranch. The meal was more Spanish than Filipino in style, pit cooked beef, pork and goat served on sword-like skewers, Spanish appetizers called tapas, big platters of paella, meat filled empanadas and leche flan for desert. There was San Miguel beer and icy cold pitchers of Sangria, which unfortunately we were not able to taste. Well, at least not when any of the teachers were looking! Afterwards, stuffed and sleepy, we went back to town to shop in the open air markets and stores. Then, to top off a most excellent outing, on the way back to Baguio we stopped at the beach to swim before returning to Brent.

A few days later our dorm mother Mrs. Pettitt gave birth to a baby boy! We were excited to have another addition to our dorm. All was well with the world. Then one day all my sense of well being vanished. I received a letter from Mom telling me that my Aunt and Uncle were coming from Japan and that her and Dad were going to bring them up to Baguio for a visit. At the bottom of the letter she wrote
"your father wants you to make sure you cut your hair..."

We had been reading
My Name is Asher Lev in Rug's English Literature class, the story of a boy with an artistic talent, a gift his parents, relatives and neighbors cannot relate to and do not understand. I saw my life mirrored in those pages, strong domineering father often absent from home, parents wrapped in work and academia with little time or patience for their son. While I found solace in the words, I found no solutions or answers. Only the directive to be true to ones self. So, of course I didn't get my hair cut. As the day of their visit neared, I grew more agitated, this was not going to be a good thing I predicted. My friends grew concerned about me, so much so that they approached some of my teachers and broached the subject. I guess they were concerned too because on the day they arrived I got called to the office and was told my family was at the gate, but to wait at the office. Then Mr Jenista went down to the gate to escort my parents on to campus. I could see him talking with my parents before they began the walk up the hill.

The tension was palpable as we walked towards each other but before my Dad could say anything my Aunt said
"Paul his hair isn't that long! The way you talked I thought it must be down to his knees! My son's hair is about as long as his!" This simple statement endeared her to me for life. It not only altered the way my parents viewed me, it toned down the way Dad spoke to me. Well, a little bit anyway. Mr Jenista gave my family a tour of the Brent campus while I went back to class. Later that afternoon I changed into some nicer clothes and met them for dinner at Mario's. I'd like to say we had a pleasant visit but you can see from the expressions on everyone's faces that no one is too happy.

I didn't see too much of them the rest of their stay in Baguio (the first and only time my parents came to the campus to see me), they toured the city and the markets, visited some other Lutheran missionaries and then they were gone.

Below are excerpts from the program for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

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