Kapitan Sino - Chapter 21

Published at 18th of March 2018 11:15:47 PM

Chapter 21

KS Chapter 21

It was in being Captain Who that I learned that the question is not why the world is a mess, but what can I do for it.

The people of Pelaez are joyous again after a month has passed. No traces of the calamity that occurred. The plaza is busy with bustling people preparing for a show of gratitude and recognition to the heroism, not of Captain Who, but of Rogelio Manglicmot. In front of the stage are four hundred rattan chairs for the audience, but only half of them are occupied. There are infants crying and children running around. Most of the adults watching are either sleeping if not chatting away. Around the venue are vendors selling bananacue¹, corn, and other goods popular in these kind of events.

If all the people have superpowers, then we should've all been heroes.

If all the people have consciences, we won't need a hero.

How about accidents?

People do not hold lives, but the people do hold the power to not rule over their fellow men.

Bok-bok is stopped while replaying in his mind the conversations he had with Rogelio. He is one of the saved by his friend's sacrifice. And now witness to the event said to show appreciation to the hero.

Heroes don't get anything from flowers on their tombstones. The respect for a hero, is the respect of what he is fighting for. Take value in freedom, or the good life he dreams for all.

Bok-bok looks at his surroundings: No one is wearing Captain Who t-shirts anymore. The kids are no longer playing pretend about him. The stickers have been stripped from the posts. The posters are removed from the walls. The name of the hero is no longer on the packets of junk food nor on the toys. The traces of the superhero has been erased. Commercialism has no use for him anymore. The only memory of him remaining is the fading banners recycled and patched as a canvas for illegal vendors in the market.

The tragedy of my life? I didn't have the power to say the right things to the right people at the right time.

"We're gathered here today to celebrate the man who saved us all." Bok-bok's gaze returns to stage upon the rumbling of the speakers. Speaking on the microphone with pomade on his hair, Ray-ban on his face, a thick lei of sampaguita² around his neck, and wearing a barong Tagalog³ is Vice Mayor Samonte.

"We cannot deny the contribution that Rogelio Manlikbot has given that made our town known. Because of that, our local government has answered the funeral of him and his family who suffered a pitiful death in the hands of the sickness—poor old people living in hunger and poverty, dying in the corners of their own home with no dignity. That is why we are promoting the projects for our fellow countrymen giving inspiration to us all, like Rogelio Manlukbot."

A man sitting by the vendors in the back changed his seat.

"Just recently we set up a basketball court for our youth. The youth that is the hope of the country. Youth that will lift us up from poverty. Youth that is our hope. Your public servant has recently attended a convention in the Netherlands where we tackled the benefits caused by recycling our garbage. Garbage destroying our surroundings. Garbage dirtying our streets. Garbage attracting flies and mosquitoes. This June only we also finished setting up the waiting shade and landscape at the side of the Elementary School of Pelaez, where you could also notice the statue of Lapu-Lapu4 is newly painted. We did that for the arrival of the Minister—or, Secretary, Lourdes Quisumbing of the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports. All this is done with the help of our beloved councilors and barangay captain." The Mayor stretches his hand so that the people can applaud the people he pointed out. "They are my fellow heroes-in-arms in EDSA during the People Power in order to kick out Marcos. We went hungry there and truly sweated. But we didn't mind the sacrifice because we wanted to serve the nation. If we all do things like that, the progress of our country is assured.

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"By helping each other, we are able to kick out the problem of our town. We got past the calamity. We have risen from the hardships. And because of each one of us, the suffering of our motherland will no longer happen again."

The paid audience nodded their heads and applauded. The man by the vendors awhile ago continues to inch his way towards the stage.

"I really am always persevering for the progress of Pelaez. And I hope you will too. Because that is the only way we will progress. In fact, if it was possible, I would launch this day the active campaign of honest and quick tax collecting for our citizens. With each other's assistance, we could do a lot of things for Pelaez."

A few steps away from the Vice.

"With our actions, progress of our town shall be achieved."

The man is by the side of the stage, going up the stairs.

"If we progress, we will achieve truly helping each other!"

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The man quickly approaches the Vice Mayor.

"Why, just the other year your public servant donated sardines to our brothers with nothing to eat…"

Tooogh! Bok-bok lets fly a powerful punch to the face of the speaker on the microphone. The politician falls down, the people divided on those assisting him and those arresting Bok-bok. But it was the vice-mayor himself that said to let him be upon learning he's the friend of Rogelio Manglicmot and was invited for this day. It was only then that the occasion got the attention of the people again. Bok-bok climbs down the stage as if nothing has happened, followed by the stares of the stunned people.

A child who has been sullen and crying ever since Rogelio's passing has only smiled again right now. 'Ging-Ging'. She chases after Bok-bok that she knows to be Rogelio's friend and asks while wiping her tears.

"Kuya! Kuya! Are you also going to fix the broken?"

Bok-bok smiles at her. "Up to what I can."

The child's eyes glimmered in happiness. "Me too!" And she then stretches her hand out like a flying bird as she runs towards the other children.

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Translation Notes:

1 – Skewered deep fried bananas covered in brown sugar. A popular Filipino street food. Really delicious.

2 – The national flower of the Philippines.

3 – The national dress for men in the Philippines. Here’s former US President Barack Obama rocking one: 

4 – Philippine National Hero, best known for driving away Ferdinand Magellan in the Battle of Mactan.