Monday, October 24, 2005
Jose Santos is presently facing a charge of 'obstruction of progress' attributed to the counter-productive acts he committed ten years ago. He is currently in America, the venue he elected to fulfill his childhood dream of seeing the most beautiful land on earth, for the preliminary inquest and eventual trial of his case.
The publication of this disclosure, as the full account of his association with an Envoy of Progress, is meant to furnish the public with the truth that they deserve and does not in any way intend to affect the inquest proceedings nor to influence the judgment of the panel of inquisitors.
THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER in the eyes of JOSE SANTOS
I was twelve at that time, a sixth grader at a nearby public elementary school in Suburban Manila, and like any ordinary kid during the era, America was an obsession. So, it was but normal for someone with a colonial mentality like me to be involved with our fair-skinned neighbor.
Summer vacation was nearly at hand, no more assignments and as was my wont in times like that, I was perched on the high fire wall waiting for Rocky, my chum. We had planned to make target practice of the rats that inhabited the murky sewage and I was whiling away my excitement for his new air gun by watching our neighbor till his small garden by the front yard.
Everybody refers to our neighbor as the "Americano" because of his blond wavy hair and not too few people heard him speak the English language. Since it was a rare occasion to see him up close, I seized the opportunity of starting a conversation with him despite my difficulty in the foreign language.
"Hello there, Mister American," were my first words to break the ice.
"Hi." His reply was curt but the cordial smile on his face was enough for an encouragement. He was getting to be a legend of some sort in our place with his admirable looks and his discreet attitude. He could easily be mistaken for a western actor with his handsome face and a cleft chin, unblemished skin, blue eyes (although it was actually green) and a body with perfect contours. Despite months of staying in the used-to-be-vacant-for-rent-house, no one had met the Americano in person yet and it would be a big deal to be the first one to do so.
"Mister, my name is Joey." I tried to sustain his attention with a follow through. It would be grand to stage a coup and bag a prize such as getting his name. That stirred my imagination and fueled the fire in my guts with overflowing courage.
But the Americano mindlessly nodded, without even looking at me, and continued with his gardening chore. The vegetable patch displayed green sprouts of lettuce and mustard. The thought of the bounty crossed my mind once more and I hatched a plan, momentarily forgetting my date with Rocky and his new air gun.
I hastily made a mental computation of the data at hand. The soft garden soil, my seventy-pound bulk, a height of six feet where I was presently positioned. In a gung-ho manner and with an honest-to-goodness yell, I fell flat, in a sitting position, with my buttocks leaving a crater-like indentation on his garden.
It was a relief when two strong hands lifted me up on my feet and examined my person for injury. The Americano led me to the porch and had me seated on the soft settee. I was frightened at first for he might be angry but my consciousness became transfixed on his face, ignoring my throbbing behind, as if I had seen not just an actor but a god in close up.
"Are you hurt?" he politely asked and I was at a loss for words. With my difficulty in the English language and my apprehension towards his snobbish attitude a while ago all I could do was shake my head for I really deserved the pain.
"Wait." The Americano motioned with his hand as he went inside the house. My mind began to work towards a better strategy but before I could finalize my plan of approach, he came out with two bottles of Coke and handed one to me.
"Thank you," I tried to pronounce the 'th' correctly to impress him. Again, he smiled and nodded. When he stared at me, I knew that I had gained ground with my objective so I pressed the release button for more ammunition.
"Mister," I stammered a bit for my tongue almost slipped, I knew that it would be impolite to call him Americano. "My name is Joey, I live there," pointing to our house over the high fire wall. As usual, he smiled and nodded. His mute gesture was already getting to irritate me but I was afraid to lose this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I pressed my luck. As Rocky used to say - the die is cast.
"Aray!" Not knowing then the English word 'ouch,' I moaned as I moved to simulate a painful butt. My ploy worked for his bland face turned to a worried look. He placed the half-empty Coke bottle on the armrest and sat beside me, probing the backside of my pants for I don't know what. I continued with my charade for a short while to teach him a lesson not to ignore me again, or else the pain would come back.
"Can you walk?" I didn't quite understand his query but the keyword 'walk' gave me a hint. To force the issue, I vigorously shook my head to elicit more concern from him which I got plenty of in no time at all for every time he showed signs of snubbing me I would start to grimace in imaginary pain. He tried to console me by pointing to the bottle of Coke in my right hand, egging me to drink it.
"Nice," was all I could say about the Coke. But it gave me a headway and with my best of broken English, I started to unloosen each screw of his defenses. I blurted out a 'what' for each sentence that I could barely understand and he would rephrase it to be simpler for a young lad like me. My barrage of questions yielded satisfactory results based on my standards.
We had a mighty long conversation and I was able to gather enough information from him. However, there was no way I could brag that I had met him for he explicitly requested me to keep everything in secrecy in exchange for the use of his gate the next time I drop by. I still believe, until now, that he was afraid my parents would know about the accident and accuse him of something he didn't do. He looked a scared man to me.
The Americano also emphasized that if the 'others' would bother him, he would be forced to leave our place. I accepted his condition at face value. Besides, I was not able to get his name and Mister was my only means of calling him. His true name didn't matter much though and the title Mister sounded good enough to me, much better than calling him Americano.
It was hard to keep secrets, especially to best friends like good old Rocky, but I coped, especially when Rocky left for America to spend the rest of the summer vacation as his reward for getting high grades in his first year in high school. How I envied him for that. But I knew, deep in my heart, that I would go to America someday.
Mister's place became my usual haunt on Saturday mornings until the start of the school year (I was so excited to be called a freshman). Although Rocky got a little suspicious, I was relieved when he mentioned that I might get addicted to computer games. He had no idea whatsoever about Mister.
I got to learn that Mister was a writer of books and he seldom went out of the house except to buy food or to see his publisher in the nearby city of Manila. What he wanted most was peace and quiet which he got all the days in the week except Saturdays when I drop by. But the sarcasm did not sink in that time for I began to enjoy the free Coke and the splendid tales about the great land of America.
Perhaps Mister thought that I would get bored with him in no time at all but I proved his logic wrong. Aside from getting fond of him, he had grown to like me. Also, I wanted to be fluent in the English Language, a basic requirement for going to America, and, sans a formal declaration, I was using him as a trainor. It occurred to me that I was inhibited at classroom recitations because I got so conscious of my grammar and mispronunciations but with the very mild-mannered Mister, I could freely say anything without the slightest hesitation.
I find Mister to be very reasonable or I should say pragmatic for he gave too much emphasis on a person's sense of logic. Mister taught me some basic exercises to increase my reasoning power (which I suspected was his ploy to deter my questioning mouth on personal matters). He concentrated on human nature like why we eat, why we sleep, why we get tired, etc. It was wonderful to know that I eat not because I am hungry but to give my body the fuel it will need. Mister said that appetite or the sensation of feeling hungry was only a protective mechanism of our whole system to regulate the food intake.
Every conversation with Mister brought me valuable lessons in the art of logical thinking and at the tender age of thirteen, I already realized the importance of a strong sense of logic. You see, one of the hardest part in the classroom recitation was to answer the question 'why.' But applying logic solves that problem and I even went to the extent of liking the question 'how' afterwards.
We normally talk during his gardening hours on Saturdays and I got to be aware of his smooth skin, without any hair at all on his arms nor on his brows. There was no trace of stubbles on his chin either. His well-trimmed fingernails were very long, about double that of my father's. I attributed all those extraordinary features to Mister's being an American and I believed then that most Americans were like him. It was ironic that my admiration for the superior race further increased.
The onset of the rainy season gave me the first chance of getting inside Mister's house when he invited me in during a sudden downpour. He seemed to be scared of the rain but I thought it was the thunder and lightning that frightened him. Although I remained inside for almost an hour, I failed to take stock of his possessions because I got concerned with his frightened expression because he was ashen-faced and physical exhaustion was very evident in his movements.
I bid goodbye the moment it stopped raining but my worries did not leave me when I reached our house because I had a strong feeling that he was afraid of the thunder. For a moment, he made me think that probably they didn't have thunder in America. But my reasoning power dictated otherwise and I was back to my worrying. When I saw him that night in the garden checking on his maturing vegetables, I was able to get a good night's sleep.
The tryst continued on with regularity and I was able to keep everything inside the can. Rocky and I have changed hobbies frequently, from target shooting to mountain biking, we experimented with the roller blade skates for a while and settled for mountain climbing lessons after the rainy season. That was the time when my life book began to unfold the crisp pages in its bleakest chapter.
(Second of Three Parts)
I was doing my homework that Monday night when I heard a loud crash coming from Mister's house. My room was on the second floor and I could see his lighted living room when I peered in the window. Amidst the December fog, there was this silhouette of a man which was moving and dashing not unlike those I see in the movies where the camera was focused on the shadows of the combatants. That got the best of my discretion for I was so concerned with the idea that there was an intruder.
In a spontaneous reaction, I set up my mountain climbing rope on the iron grills of our second floor window and opened the fire hatch. Even without my gloves, I was able to glide down the top of the fire wall and straight onto Mister's vegetable garden. With the crafty movement of a spy, I was inside his house in a matter of seconds, opening the screen window with nary a sound.
Mister was doing some sort of calisthenics and it was his shadow against the big lamp which made me think of the silly notion about an intruder. If there was an intruder, it was none other than me. The crashing sound was caused by the hollow dumbbell when it fell on the floor from Mister's slippery hands and hit the aluminum jar that adorned the living room. His whole body was glistening with sweat and not even Michelangelo nor Raphael could paint the expression on his face. He was more shocked than I was because he had nothing on. I mean, he was unclothed, stark naked to the pores of his skin. I almost failed to notice that he was bald which I came to learn later that he was wearing a blond and wavy toupee.
We both stood motionless for several moments. Mister was staring at me with questioning eyes and the gesture was mutual. My eyeballs were glued on his glistening chest which displayed the smoothest chest I saw - no hair and no nipples. Still stunned, my gaze slowly moved down to his crotch where I failed to find the slightest trace of a sex organ. It was all flat, flatter than a female dancer's groin in a leotard, no hair, no indention nor protuberance.
"Sit down, Joey," he was the first to make a rational move. I obliged and after rubbing himself with a bath towel and putting on some sort of a gown, he sat beside me, plainly admitting that he owed me an explanation. I don't remember how he started his confession but I got the gist of it because I was getting the hang of his English from our weekly trysts.
"Do you find my body unusual, Joey?" I reluctantly nodded and my strained eyes shifted focus on the floor in shame and disappointment. "I am a freak, you know, the reason why I left America. I am just like one of those handicapped people you see, the deaf, the blind, those with deformed limbs or disfigured faces. Do you people to make fun of me?"
The short speech was enough to temper the budding confusion in my head. He was almost pleading and I easily accepted the reality that Mister's freakish condition would land him in the circus. No, I wouldn't want that to happen. (It made me realize later on that emotions could easily muddle one's senses, especially the logic. You see, the effect of his influence on me was evident for I was already getting to be pragmatic).
When I sobered up, the holes in his story gave me sleepless nights. I made a list of what to ask and planned on a good approach to pacify my querulous mind. There had to be some satisfactory answers to all my questions as what my sense of logic mandated.
The following Saturday brought out more surprises that I never expected. As I met Mister at the gate, he appeared to be more responsive and caring, giving me the idea of blackmailing him with our secret. The table on the porch with the two bottles of Coke was beckoning for my attention, together with the box of Heep Vegetarian Cookies which I presumed could only be bought in America.
"How's your friend Rocky?" I could sense that Mister was trying to break the ice on the wrong pond. In all our meetings, he never initiated a conversation, more so with Rocky as the topic, except the first time that I fell from the fire wall.
"He's fine," was my curt reply to pave the way for my follow up. "Mister, I want to ask you a personal question." Going straight to the point was part of my plan because I had anticipated his diversionary tactics which he had been employing all along. I swore to myself that I wouldn't give him even a Chinaman's chance to block any of my questions again.
"Let's go to the porch, I feel hungry," he calmly said. I obliged not because of the Coke and the cookies. It was his privilege to select a nice and cozy place for his inquest and I was willing to grant him that consideration just before he face the firing squad.
"Please don't be offended," my stammer was evident even though I had memorized my questions. I sipped the Coke before I continued. "How do you urinate?"
His probing eyes examined my whole body as if sizing up an opponent before a wrestling match. A long lull passed and I was preparing to detonate my next question when he timidly spoke.
"You're a smart kid, Joey," it was a praise that I had to acknowledge with a few slow nods. "I know I cannot fool you so I might as well tell you the truth. But do you really want the truth?" I grinned and nodded in excitement for I didn't have to recite my long list of prepared questions anymore. Besides, the truth couldn't hurt anybody, or so I thought.
"Before I begin, you have to promise me once more that no one, absolutely no one will know about it, okay?" He raised his left hand just like they do in the trial courts and I did the same before nodding my head, slightly noticing a raw wound, the size of a pea and reddish in color, on the lower part of his palm.
"I am herbivorous. That means I only eat vegetables, no meat of any kind for me because my digestive system cannot handle a certain chemical found in animal meat, fish or birds. Since I don't have a penis like you do, my body wastes come out through the pores of my skin. If you will ask me how I defecate, well, I don't."
"What is defecate?" I asked him for the words were getting harder to understand. With herbivorous, he had clearly explained it as being a vegetarian but it didn't occur to me that there was a single word to describe 'moving the bowels.'
“That is the thing you do when you go to the toilet." Mister continued. "There are waste matters that are harder to shed. For ordinary people like you, the liquid is passed on from the bladder to your urethra but solid waste goes out in solid form through your rectal opening." I was getting confused by the clinical terms he was using but I was able to digest the idea he was trying to convey.
"When you saw me last Monday night, I was doing some physical exercises to force out the semi-solid waste matter through the pores of my skin particularly in the armpits. I would get sick if it remained in my body for a long period and it wouldn't be extricated without the necessary work-out."
"Were you born like this? I mean, are you really like that since you were a child?" I asked in earnest for I couldn't imagine a child doing the lousy aerobics at night.
"Yes." His eyes went back to its probing stance and I didn't like it. He seemed to have ended his explanation and I wasn't convinced yet.
"Why didn't your parents brought you to a doctor?" My busy mind was beginning to neglect my grammar but it didn't matter to me nor to Mister. I had to make a follow through. "Did you go to a doctor?"
"I am normal for my kind."
"What do you mean?"
"Joey, I know I can trust you and honest, I am pleased to be your friend. I will reveal everything to you now but please, be fair and square with me." I was more than confused with his pleadings but I had no other option left but to agree with a vigorous nod. That was my intention in the first place anyway.
"Mister, I have kept our little secret for a long time now. Are you still doubting my loyalty to you?" It was true, wasn't it? I was glad that my sense of logic was still intact.
"You're right, Joey, but this thing that I will say is no little secret. It's a big deal."
"No matter, Mister. I will not do anything that will harm you and I will surely hate it if you will leave whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Just let me know and it will remain our big secret, okay?" He managed a silly grin, typical that of a bluffing Rocky when he was losing in a chess game.
"I am not from this world, Joey, I came from another planet." For a very short moment, my mind wouldn't cooperate with my ears. But my sense of logic agreed with Mister and I knew that he wouldn't mention nonsensical things to me for he never had acted beyond the perimeters of sensibilities even once.
"You are an alien?" there was much hesitation in my query.
"Yes, if that's your term, an alien from another world and I came here to make friends with your people." It seemed to me that it's getting out of hand, the logic I mean. Friendship means being with people and talking with people just like those politicians I see during election periods. How can you have a friend if you stay closeted in your house everyday of the week?
"I don't understand what you're saying."
"Of course, you don't. That's why I didn't want to let you know because you might just be confused. But don't worry, I'll make it clearer for you since you are my best friend." I would have added 'maybe' but since he was the first one to make an explicit claim on it, I granted him the benefit of my silence.
"Joey, there were many of us who arrived with different missions. We are scattered all over the area and our common goal is to prepare the way for the Grand Visit."
"You mean all over the world?" It was a senseless question but interrupting Mister was just a way of giving my brain a respite from the relentless bombardment of indigestible facts.
"No, not over the whole planet, only among these islands that our Locator selected. You see, Philippines, as you call your island grouping, happens to be the most strategic place that we can find on this planet." The inert nationalism inside of me suddenly surfaced by the mention of our country's name. I felt mighty proud that a lowly nation like ours, a perennial third world country, would be selected by an intelligent race like Mister's. With youthful prejudice, I always considered aliens, if ever they really existed, to be far superior than the homo sapiens.
"What is the Grand Visit?" I was beginning to enjoy the discussion, being amused no end by his incredulous declarations. And the prospect of getting our country in the center of the world map gave my innards a jolt. Of course, I had to get more details of it while I could still suspend my disbelief.
"Well, that is the arrival of a large contingent that will take care of disseminating the knowledge on our advanced technology. They will also distribute gadgets and devices that will tremendously improve your agricultural industry. Wouldn't you like to see a world where no one gets hungry?"
"I sure do," I automatically replied. My thoughts strayed to the urban squatters on the next block. I remember the time, a week before that, when the basketball team of the squatter kids was suicidal to win the street game for a mere five peso bet so I deliberately lost my shooting touch to just let them take the very small stake.
"Joey, I just wish you will cooperate and not forget to keep these things secret." That was his last statement about the revelation for I heard my mother's voice and I had to leave at once. She knew that I was going to Mister's house and she had already reprimanded me many times about it. "Nang-istorbo ka na naman sa Americano!." You know how mothers talk, you're disturbing him, you're disturbing her, you're disturbing them. The problem of being a kid - a pest to the adults.
For the nth time, I couldn't get myself to sleep so I analyzed the facts and my logic told me that there was no loophole, or so I thought. My science teacher proved me wrong when I approached him with an incredible premise the following Monday afternoon.
"Say that again? Santos, you've been reading too many science fiction stories." I was kind of peeved at my science teacher for although I didn't consider science fiction as trash, it didn't appeal to me in any way. But I forgave him for that because admittedly my thesis had a tinge of science fiction.
"No sir, I just want to know if it is possible for that kind of creature to exist." I sounded apologetic even if my science teacher wasn't aware of my indignation. He was the only one I could turn to because Rocky would be suspicious upon hearing my suppositions. Another thing, I hated Rocky's trite humor.
"All right, granting that an alien which looked like us landed in our midst and that he could breath our air and he looked normal except for the oddity in his sex organ, well, I honestly think he would be the last of his race." That's the problem with Mr. Lico, he wouldn't talk straight.
"What do you mean, sir?" I begged for more.
"How was he born, through the pores of his mother's skin?" Instead of feeling rebuffed, I was sort of ecstatic for Mr. Lico found a loophole in Mister's story for me and my suspicion that the whole plot was just a crap gave me a new lease on hoping against hope that Mister was really an American freak.
It was fortunate that my parents went to a religious meeting that night and although Aunt Celia, my mother's sister, was there to stay with me, she was very cooperative. I soon left for Mister's house using the ropes again but I did not enter unannounced this time despite my excitement of dropping the atom bomb at him. It would be a pleasure if he would revert to his initial declaration of being a freak because that would be more plausible. Besides, if he was really an outsider then he couldn't be an American by any means. I would settle for a freak American any time of the day than have an alien for a friend.
"Good evening, Mister, sorry for coming," I said it in a loud voice thru the screen door for he was watching TV at that time. He motioned for me to come inside and without further ado, as the TV emcee used to say, I began to unload the bombshell.
"So, you're at it again, Joey. I told you to just forget those things for it will confuse you. I'm afraid that you've been thinking about it all the time." What he said were all true but he was the one who made me develop my skeptical attitude. To be pragmatic is to be a skeptic most of the time. He's turning into a victim of his own creation.
"Okay, okay. You may find it odd but listen carefully. Copulation, no, I think you will understand better if I say getting pregnant." I definitely agreed with him but I came prepared with a pen and a torn page from my spiral notebook to write down all the new words that would come out of his mouth. Nonetheless I noted down copulation.
"We put our palms together, the male's left with the female's left, likewise with the right palms, and more often than not that handclasp can impregnate the female in a span of a few minutes. You will find a good example when you see the snails in the procreating process. The male's microscopic reproductive cells pass through the largest pore of his palm and into the largest pore of the female's, going directly to the thing you call uterus for the required fertilization." With his palm up before me, I could very well see the largest pore which I had mistaken as a small skin lesion before.
"But how do you give birth? There's no hole in your body," I was pointing to the lower portion of his torso for I had meant to say the vagina but I didn't know it then. With luck, Mister got the central idea of my query.
"We have a big hole, you see?" He opened his mouth as wide as he could. I gave him the quizzical look so that he would elaborate without opening my own mouth. I was trying to conserve my paper for it already showed many entries and it's up to my dictionary to explain it to me later.
"After sexual intercourse, the female is impregnated and the resulting fertilized union will remain in the womb for about maybe three months of your time until the ovum ripens to come out of the mouth. That's the way we give birth." I had to ask the meaning of ovum from him and was glad that my idea was correct.
"It is similar to the chicken egg with a porous shell although softer and more flexible. The female or the male, depending on their choice, licks the ovum, sorry, the egg every once in a while or as often as they can. The saliva provides the nutrients that makes the egg grow bigger, about a little bigger than your basketball. Aside from that, the egg is to be constantly held by either custodian, I mean parent, for the required physical contact during the entire hatching period.
"When it matures after another three months, the shell becomes brittle and it cracks to yield the youngling. There, we have a baby. Convincing?" I nodded in disgust and admitted to myself that I was fighting for a lost cause. To console my grieving ego, I requested Mister for more information on our physical differences. You see, it was hard to swallow the bitter truth that my friend was indeed an outsider.
"The youngling, during the weaning period of about ten months, is fed only liquid until it develops teeth, the time they become capable of doing exhaustive calisthenics." Mister paused and looked at me, somewhat anticipating the question in my mind. "The youngling gets sick when fed with solid foods although they don't die. We have physicians who can do the job of extricating the semi-solid wastes."
After some pauses, Mister employed his patented diversionary tactics and I didn't have the heart to force him back to the topic. I could sense the embarrassment he was experiencing.
"We have lots of sunshine and there is absolutely no rain in our place." So that's the reason why he looked scared of the rain. The way he was talking, he was making it easier for me to accept everything.
"When it gets cold, our metabolism tends to slow down. Extremely low temperatures like the winter of other countries will cause us to hibernate. You know, hibernating increases our lifespan but a big disadvantage is being in the unproductive state of inactivity and the lack of control. Lazy people in our place do just that." I couldn't toss a query for my fingers were busy jotting down the new terms I heard.
"Extreme heat hastens our metabolism and sharpens our thinking power but shortens our lifespan. So, you see, we would prefer a moderate climate like what you have here." He went on but my average mind already reached its saturation point and I had to leave before my little headache developed into a big one.
I was perplexed, not with the list of words which I successfully looked up in the dictionary but with the realization that an outsider indeed existed. Moreover, questions kept cropping up, making the whole thing complicated.
Why in the world would they choose the Philippines for a landing site? And what did he mean by strategic? What were their missions and why do they have to send an advance party who would only play hermit? In giving us prosperity, what would they get in return? I couldn't help but recall 'V,' the movie where the aliens had a vested interest on our abundant water supply. The sixty-four-dollar question was the Grand Visit and I always had breathing difficulty thinking about it.
(Last of Three Parts)
I tried my luck with Rocky. As what I did with Mr. Lico, I employed the same tactic with Rocky the next afternoon. We were inside their garage, tinkering with their old set of Christmas lights, testing each bulb. It was nearing Christmas and everybody seemed busy.
"What a coincidence! That's the topic in our Philippine History class this morning." Rocky was a year ahead of me and I was sure glad of what I heard.
"But sad to say, I wasn't listening. You see, I was playing with my Game-and-Watch and if not for my buddy I would have been caught in the act." I gave him the greatest sneer my face could manage to show my disgust. Rocky had that penchant for being silly at times and he rarely got serious. But my disgust turned to delight when he talked again.
"If you really want to know about the second world war, I have a classified information which I think will interest you. Even before the war there were already many Japanese soldiers here disguising as merchants to prepare the way for the invasion." Except for 'invasion,' Rocky's last statement was exactly the same as what Mister had said about the Grand Visit.
When Rocky started to be funny again, I changed the topic to allay any suspicion that might arise and helped him install the Christmas lights on their front yard. My situation was getting critical with every confirmation of my wild intuition.
After dinner, I happened to glance at the TV which was showing a war scene. I sat beside my father and learned that it was a documentary film on the Japanese invasion in 1941 which he taped when it was shown on the eighth of December. Seeing my interest, he rewound the tape so that I could get a glimpse of the best part where the advance party of the Japanese Imperial Army played their roles to a tee.
There were ambulant vendors, merchants, academicians and scholars all over the country! When war was declared, those actors shed their costumes and displayed their military ranks. That film was shown the week before and I was dead sure that Rocky got his 'classified information' from watching that film. But I enjoyed it because my father had explained about the 'strategic' thing.
"The Philippines can be likened to that of the corner store where you can see in all possible directions because it is surrounded by water and no obstacles of any kind will obstruct your way. Also, it appears to be in the center of the map and movement of military forces is easier." I failed to hear his succeeding statements for it seemed enough for my thesis.
I went inside my room after the tape ended, containing my enthusiasm so as not to arouse my father's suspicion that I was onto something. After peeking at the window in the direction of Mister's house for some inspiration, the light was still on, I started analyzing the facts at hand.
After checking and rechecking my data, I arrived at a firm conclusion that Mister was a spy for their planet just like those Japanese soldiers who came disguised as merchants sixty years before. They would give us prosperity in return for their complete control of the whole earth and the Grand Visit was in truth an invasion in the offing. It dawned on me that I had no other option but to play the part of a hero.
I took stock of my evidences and planned my course of action by listing down the names of people who I thought could help me in the expose. Of course, Rocky's name was the first to be stricken off, it would be a silly thing to ask his help on serious matters. My father's was the next to go because he was a hard nut to crack when it comes to incredible tales. One by one, the names were crossed out until there was none left.
With regularity, I continued on with my charade of visiting Mister and pretending that nothing had changed while waiting for the right person to come to my rescue. I used my fellowship with Mister to constantly pry into their real objective to further strengthen my case against him. But the opportunity was slowly slipping out of my hands because time seemed to pass by so quickly and I was getting used to the fact that Mister was an outsider, numbing my enthusiasm with a tinge of boredom at times.
I went on to my second year in high school, acquired a new pastime with Rocky's dart board but remained continually in touch with Mister. There were times when I brought him fresh carrots in return for helping me out with my assignments. My parents had no qualms with my visits anymore for my improved school grades spoke for me. Mister had the first taste of ice cream on my fourteenth birthday which made him sick. With the help of salt and water, he recovered after two days. It made me sorry but something made me sorrier in the following days to come.
The tabloids headlined a big satellite photograph of a UFO and it became an international issue with the media's propensity for creating sensational news items. My enthusiasm for being a hero instantly came back. As my history teacher said, there are only two things that can make a hero - the necessary environmental condition and divine providence. Just like saying you have to be there in the right place and on the right time, God willing.
The hot issue of the UFO made waves around the world despite the not so convincing satellite photograph and repeated denials of the Pentagon. The media's reputation for making heroes out of criminals and turning molehills into mountains encouraged me with my previously lost cause. I had the temerity to go to the TV station, all by my lonesome, and had myself interviewed.
It was a big deal, really, to see yourself on TV. I was a hit at school, not to mention my popularity in the neighborhood. The news clip was aired that night and nosy reporters were all around our place the next morning, hounding anybody they see and interviewing even the innocent street sweeper. However, they failed to get inside Mister's territory for lack of permission.
The issue was blown up and there were talks that the president would like to see me (which later turned out to be just a rumor). My account was credible enough for any gullible viewer, to see my face and hear me talk would surely convince anybody. Besides, the living evidence was just there beside our house and even my skeptical father appeared to be convinced. I lost count of the number of reporters and interviewers that approached me. That was only the second day.
What started with a bang ended in a whimper when, on the third day, government investigators forced open Mister's house to find it empty and no trace at all of the outsider. With the melting of the concrete evidence, dirty rumors flowed like melting jelly and that was the time I learned what hoax really meant. Some journalist stayed by my side, getting more details from me although it did not hold water with the public anymore. The great majority of the press people hurled unkind criticisms on me and my family. As a consolation, the waning public interest forced the issue into oblivion exactly one month from my first interview.
The brouhaha gave us all a hard time. My ever-decent father, who for the first time backed me up, suffered a stroke which led to his death a few months after. My mother developed some sort of a phobia for news reporters and constantly avoided people. I lost all my friends, that included Rocky. We moved to a remote town to start afresh as a junior high schooler. As usual, time flies fast, healing all wounds. I graduated and took up pre-law studies for my tertiary education and continued on with law proper, eventually gaining my law degree.
It was public knowledge that the Grand Visit, I still prefer to call it invasion, materialized and human nature compelled people to take sides. There were the collaborators who sold their loyalty to the outsiders for a song and there were those skeptics in the guise of true-blue nationalists who had to face the situation of going against the tide in the event of a Takeover which we are having right now.
I am one of those nationalists who tried to play hero and suffer the consequences when some eager-beavers who wanted a larger piece of the pie reopened my long forgotten case which prompted for a re-investigation. Retribution, as I learned lately, is a destructive word meant for a cruel adversary. "Oh, God," my mind was shouting to the high heavens, "I had protected myself from thine enemies, why didn't you protect me from my friends?"
My mischief of exposing the true identity of Mister Alien caused a big delay in their timetable, that's according to the unfriendly media who facilitated my prosecution through their acrimonious news items that maligned my person no end. But I had forgiven them for they did not know the harm that would befall me.
Mister, I still don't know his real name until now, introduced me to the art of logic and taught me the value of loyalty. In fairness to my young mind at that time, I was just telling the truth and exercising my loyalty to humankind.
I admit that I had been skeptical. Please don't blame me for being a doubting Thomas because my sense of logic dictated me so. Who would imagine that the supposed invasion would really bring about unheard of prosperity among the rich and poor nations alike without expecting any favor in return? Who would have the idea that visitors from a faraway place would exert great efforts in fostering unlimited friendly liaisons just for companionship in the universe? Who would think that a superior race would be so considerate and generous as to give us selfless assistance for the glory of their God who happens to be our God too?
As it turned out, progress was handed to us on a silver platter. Pollution was eliminated with the hydrogen-powered machines and biotechnology solved the re-greening problems. We now have very modern machines and gadgets that will do the work for us, leaving us with more time to devote for our political and religious undertakings. I thank the Outsiders for these.
Lastly, I was praying to God that I be given my day in court and needless to say, my prayers were heeded. I now thank the Envoys of Progress for granting me the opportunity to set foot in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. I also thank Mister for all the knowledge he had bestowed on my young mind which greatly helped in molding my person to be a worthy citizen of this world.
The inquisition is concluded before the first adjournment prompting the Panel of Inquisitors to immediately hand down the verdict for the sake of efficiency. The following are the excerpts.
Jose Santos gallantly reacted to the situation in the belief that the interest of humankind was in grave danger. With selfless dedication, he staked his reputation, if not his life, on the line so as to initiate a stop-gap measure on the impending supposed to be perilous invasion.
The Honorable Chief Envoy, whom Jose Santos fondly calls Mister, admitted his previous shortcomings in withholding crucial information which resulted in the mistaken notion of the young Jose Santos regarding our noble objectives.
Since Mr. Santos was a minor at that time and had acted in good faith, this gathering of the minds absolves the accused Jose Santos of any counter-productive charges filed against his person.
And to rectify this misunderstanding which brought unpleasant experiences to Jose Santos and his family, the Panel of Inquisitors hereby names Jose Santos an Envoy of Peace-at-large to spread our goodwill among all the nations of this world.
Jose Santos is due to arrive home tomorrow and a big welcome is being prepared by his proud countrymen. "I am expecting everyone to pay his respect for the greatest hero of our time," says the President of the Philippines as quoted by our reporter. There are unconfirmed reports that Mr. Santos is being groomed to be the first earthman to make a visit to the home planet of the Progress Administrators.