Thursday, May 24, 2012

Chrysanthemum Chapter 4

"Tony, Philippine Society has become a joke!"  Michael lamented.

He was talking to Lt. Antonio dela Serna, his classmate at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), in the Armed Forces of the Philippines Commissioned Officers Club (AFPCOC). It was lunchtime.

"The Task Force Detainees and the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates are condemning us of human rights violations for the death of those terrorists. Crazy!!!" he blurted out.

"Well, I don't wonder. They're fronts of the Communist Party," Lt. dela Serna replied.

"Yeah! The commies have so many front organizations and this government has legitimized them."

"Sssh! Your mouth! You maybe mistaken as Gringo's buddy."

"Damn it! The Sparrows killed my driver! That woman they said was a plain civilian was the one who shot him!"

"What about the ten year old girl?"

"It was an accident. In an ambush situation like that, anybody could be hit."

"What about Sgt. Calma? Has he been buried?"

"Three days ago... in his hometown."

"Where was he from?"

"Malolos, Bulacan".

"Does he have a family?"

"Yeah! Five children... four girls and one boy.  The youngest girl is two years old."

Lt. dela Serna bit his lip and looked at Michael. The look lasted for almost a minute.

Then he took the glass of water from the tray and drank it all.

"Maybe," Tony said, "those so-called human rights advocates think that soldiers are not human."

"Maybe," Michael quipped.

"Mike, does Chrys know about the ambush?"

"I don't know... I haven't informed her. I think it is better that way. Don't you think so?"

"Perhaps," Tony said. 

"Are you serious with her?"

Michael nodded.

"Then why don't you settle down?" What are you waiting for?"

Michael was silent.

"Mike, Chrys has been your girl since our academy days. I haven't even known my wife then. Now, I have a daughter and a son."

Michael sipped the bottle of Coke on his table.

"Mike... what's wrong?"

Michael looked at the bottle of Coke he was holding. Then he looked at Tony.

"Our country..."

Lt. dela Serna met him eyeball to eyeball.

"Mistah... the country can wait... Chrys can't wait forever."

Michael looked down again on the Coke he was holding.

"I guess I'm too old-fashioned."

Tony smiled. "Mike, I know Patton is your favorite. You've read books about him. You know his exploits. You want to be like him."

Michael looked at Tony again.

"And I know you love this country..."

He listened intently.

"You're a principled man, I know... and you will gladly die for your beliefs..."

Michel looked at his almost empty plate.

"But, Mistah, you're also human. And as a human being, you're equally entitled to happiness. Don't you think so?

He didn't reply.

"Mike, this war may last long. I don't know... I hope not. And..."

"That's another thing Tony. We are deeply involved in this war. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?"


"We may be dead, or crippled... useless remnants of this war."

Tony gestured with his hand and asked, "And you don't want to leave Chrys a widow? Is that what you are saying?"

Michael smiled wryly.

"You want to make her a spinster then?"

He looked at Tony.

"Do her a favor, will you?"


"Ask her to enter the convent."

Michael was silent.

"If she will be a nun, at least she can dutifully pray for your safety day and night," Tony derisively said. "She can pray that you won't go six feet below the ground too early. Like those stupid terrorists!"

Michael looked his friend straight in the eyes.

"Mike, you're my friend and I love you. I'm glad I'm your friend so I can tell you, hopefully without offense, that you're nuts if you continue to refuse to marry Chrys."

Michael looked down on his plate.

"If Chrys was my girlfriend when we were in the academy, I would have married her right after graduation."

"If she refused?" Michael asked.

"I would kidnap her!" Tony replied.

Michael laughed.

"Look, Mistah... why think of being dead or crippled? If I always thought of these things, do you think I would ever get married?" Tony asked to show his point. "Do you think I would have those two precious kids? You would never be a godfather to Sofia!"

Michael took the spoon from his plate and played it with his hands.

"We were in Sulu together. Then Samar. With God's help, we are still alive and kicking. You think you'ld be dead next week? How'd you know?"

"How can we know?" Michael asked with humor.

"Look, Mike, MacArthur fought two world wars and the Korean war, But he survived! He died in old age," Tony said. "If it's time for you to go, you'll go..."

"Whether you're in a fiesta or in a battlefield..." Michael said.

"Right, Michael! You've got it!" Tony winked. "Ninoy Aquino thought he would be president after Marcos, but he died ahead of him on the tarmac."

Michael nodded.

He asked Tony, "What time do you have?"

"1:30," Tony replied.

"I think its time to go. I'll see Gen. Manuel this afternoon".

"Why?" Tony asked.

"We'll talk about my assignment in Bataan."

"When will you go there?"

"Possibly, third week of September?"

"Okay... by the way, what's Chrys' address and phone in Hong Kong? Anne will go there in September?"

"Maybe, within the last week. Her sister who has been working there invited her."

Michael took his pen and a stationary from his appointment book, and wrote the address of Chrys.

Chrysanthemum Aspiras
86-84 (Flat A) 3rd Floor
Thomson Road, Wan Chai,
Hong Kong
Tel 5-8756214

He handed the address to Tony.

They stood and walked out of the clubhouse.

"Mistah, think well of what I said."

Michael nodded.

Then, Tony tapped his back and walked to his car.

Michael stood outside the AFPCOC for minutes, pondering on the advice of Tony. As his thoughts wandered to Chyrs, he felt a stinging emptiness created by her absence.

<< Return to Chapter 3 | Proceed to Chapter 5 >> 

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