Sunday, October 30, 2011

Parada ng Praning

AT AROUND NINE, or shortly after the daily morning headcount, I was in my usual jovial dalawan mood conferring with my legal counsel and a couple of local FEAC (Free Ericson Acosta Campaign – Ed.) volunteers. Atty. Jun Oliva flew in early from Manila, together with an old friend of mine whom I’ve long been used to calling endearingly, and with much comradely pride, by the somewhat juvenile yet nonetheless hip title “Batch.” They were to join me in my arraignment set later in the afternoon.

Ka Jun was quick to remind me of the schedule’s significance. We were supposed in fact to move for the arraignment itself to be put off. A petition for the review of the illegal possession of explosive complaint, praying for the reversal of earlier resolutions written by the local prosecutor in April and August which cited probable cause and the need for a full-blown trial, had already been submitted to the Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ). A rather modest but by my reckoning an unprecedented libertarian feat in itself, a delegation of artists, cultural workers and other advocates headed by no less that the executive director of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, backed my legal team in filing the petition last September 1.

It was thus up to us now (practically up exclusively to my lawyer that is, in that nothing of the courtroom drama sort of speech by the accused was even remotely considered) to convince presiding judge to defer any court proceedings pending the decision of the DOJ. The way Ka Jun explained all this to me, however, in a language so concise and unaffected, in effect trying to tell me how my very first appearance in court – stirred up as I already was about the whole thing – could very well turn out to be just as uncomplicated and uneventfully brief after all.

With all the legal details sufficiently discussed, Batch for her part promptly drew my attention to what seemed like a meticulously layed-out plan concerning certain other aspects of my court “appearance.” She had brought in with her a fairly stylish light-colored short-sleeved polo which, she said, she specifically intended for me to wear to the “event,” if it were not to become such a big fuss for the prison officials. Should they, however, strictly enforce on me the regulation T-shirt (classic chain gang orange) I would then have to choose instead, she said, from among the thematic FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS shirts she had dutifully brought in for me as well for good measure – in three sizes and, very strangely, in two varying hues of orange.

Coaxing one moment, half-censuring the next, Batch was being very insistent that I try the clothes on right away and in front of everybody. I didn’t quite get most of her instructions but I remember her mentioning that I do this or that fancy layering with the polo ang my final choice of T- shirt. Her trademark quirk, I thought had now gotten the better of her, acting like upstart czarina of style with me as her fumbling makeover subject. Or was she, in fact, doing her faithful take on some over-anxious mom, going through the finicky motions of checking her son’s costume a few minutes before a school recital or something? Either way, she was certainly being oblivious to my face turning red. For a second there, I wanted to tell her, “Teka lang, Batch, preso ko, pare, gets mo?” but heck, immaculately tattoo-less I had nothing to emphasize the macho shit. Then suddenly, she too felt quite ill at ease. The furtive glances of the kosas and their visitors, their awkward silence, were not at all difficult to decode – the entire dalawan, she realized finally, had all along been vicariously sharing in my embarrassment.

AT HALF PAST ONE, I and thirteen other inmates were herded into the compound’s open grounds and onto the prison service vehicle. These kosas have all been attending hearings as regularly as every two months on the average over the last couple of years, and so they are quite naturally more familiar with the routine compared to myself. But I knew how anxious they were just the same. Each trip to court I imagined, brings the accused invariably to that pretty intense moment, pondering, battling with every thought of judicial twist and turn which hereabouts without exaggeration, could very well bespeak of human fate itself. Besides, knowing them fairly well by now, I thought the kosas were also feeling especially excited for me in that they were quite sure that I, going through it for the first time, was probably more excited than they were.

I first learned of my schedule in court about a week earlier and I, must admit, I sort of took it outright as a good thing. Though this was precisely what the FEAC and my legal team had long been working on to avert, which just of course given the sheer baselessness of it all, the truth was, I had at the same time quite impatiently been looking forward for such legal “live action” to finally take place. Subjectively from my end, I had actually been wishing for anything at all that, transpiring in front of me, could in an immediate way, assume myself that a battle was indeed on, and that towards it, my attitude was that I was quite ready and raring to get it on. Add to this the news that some local human rights activists and FEAC volunteers had prepared a protest action to welcome my arrival at the Calbayog Hall of Justice, and yes, definitely I was excited to go to court that afternoon. But interestingly, there was just something else, something beyond any expectation as to what might happen in court, that had increasingly given me the goosebumps since the week before.

The poets had been all quite correct – and especially so, I suppose, for someone like myself who for some profound reasons (genuine agrarian reform, for example, and the cultural revolution) had evolved into a creature of the outdoors, and had spent a considerable part of his years constantly on the move – to be locked up for whatever duration is to live the life of a crippled soul and an undead body. Though I have far been able to remain firm and standing – holding on with the highest revolutionary spirits, inspired unerringly by the arduous struggle of the masses of workers and peasants, sustained by my continued political work, and with a great deal of support of every kind – nothing short of FREEDOM nonetheless could ever resurrect me. But as far as some other temporary means of resuscitation was concerned, again there was this one particular basic thing that had eaten me up with insufferable thrill since the day I found out about my September 21 schedule.

Call it the prospect of virtual FREEDOM or what not. The fact was, after seven months of uninterrupted total unFREEDOM, I was now finally about to physically cover a distance far greater than the insanely few paces between cot and toilet, or cot and iron-grilled door, or cot and visiting area, or cot and hell for Christ’s sake. The idea of seeing, breathing the seacoast, tasting its salty breeze as it curves along almost the entire route from jail to court and back I found simply transporting. And the sky, experiencing rel sky, a million times wider and more beautiful than that framed by any of the jail’s windows and pseudowindows, was something of an otherworldly concept that was just driving me nuts. An unfinished poem written a fortnight before the appointed day with my sea and sky says a lot about the affliction:

There it is suddenly
finally: the bluest heaving vastness
of midday sky and sea.
Drenched in sunbeam, the clouds
have all gone inside my head
filling it up with such undeniable lightness
engagingly weighty enough nonetheless
to displace a million bitter thoughts.
The sky is a sweet prayer
to which I try to shoot up
correct ideas in earnest response.
The waves, the foams are a mute presence
yet penetratingly real I feel them at once
against my guts, rushing, crashing,
well intent on washing out
every single layer of ennui
accumulated over the months.
The sea throbs fiercely, like ancient dance maybe,
but as surely as people’s war –
the thing about man
it wants so much to emulate.

IT WAS PRETTY CRAMPED UP inside the van; the rule was to continuously squeeze our hips tightly against those of our seatmates in order to remain seated. But I knew I could have my view of the sea any which way and so I supposed there was really no problem. Even the otherwise unwieldy strain and stigma of being handcuffed seemed bearable so long as the whole transit time meant unlimited exposure to precious sky. Trouble was, the military, unrelentingly keen on me still, clairvoyantly zoomed in it seemed on my every musing, had decided to steal the most innocent even utterly philosophical fun I thought I could muster pout of this thing of mine with the sea and sky.

For the last several months, it had already been largely presumed that my person, my case, had effectively become the business of civilian authority and the judicial process. On the occasion, however, of my long-awaited audience in court, the military just had to come out, show force and let everyone know who’s in ultimate control.

Driven by militarist zeal and conceit, the 8th Infantry Division had imposed itself over a matter that fell otherwise in the purview of prison officials and court personnel. Imperiously and with such efficiency, the 87th Infantry Battalion had planned and carried out an inordinately unnecessary security arrangement to escort me to the Calbayog Hall of Justice and back to jail.

“Sikat ka talaga, kosa” my handcuff buddy told me in awe, “ang tindi ng sekyu mo.”

I was not at all flattered. I felt my poor scheme floored and flattened. I had eagerly set my sight to enjoying a scenic view, to that one rare chance in fact at contemplating virtual FREEDOM, but fascism just had to spoil everything, obscuring my field of vision with it ubiquitous flaunting, taunting presence.

At the prison van’s rear was detailed an army vehicle of infantry soldiers, a full squad in full battle gear. Pacing the convoy ahead of us was another fully armed squad ‘arbored’ apparently by the 87th IB from the PNP Regional Mobile Group. And at the parking lot of the Hall of Justice, I swear I saw a couple of them in plainclothes. I had wished for a fieldtrip by the seaboard, I found myself instead in the middle of a parade of paranoiacs and their gizmos: .45 caliber pistols, spy shades, M16 rifles, gold wristwatches, two-way radios, K3 squad automatic weapons, grenade launchers, a 50 caliber machine gun – the works, the whole goddamn mortal works.

video of Ericson's September 21 hearing

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Kabilang sa mga Nawawala (2)

Unang bahagi

III. Manuskrito

Pagkatapos ng unang taon sa kolehiyo, pumasok ako isang tag-araw sa isang palihan sa pagsulat ng dula sa ilalim ng yumaong Rene Villanueva sa CCP. Apat o lima lang yata kaming nagsanay sa batch na iyon, malayung-malayo sa bilang ng sinundang batch na kinabilangan nina Capino, Lana, at Martinez. Ang natatandaan ko lamang na kabatch ko ay si Laurence Espina na taga-Dulaang UP noon at isang naging talent ng Batibot. Sa loob ng isang buwan ay kailangang makatapos ng isang dulang may isang yugto. Sa umpisa pa lamang ay kailangan nang buo na sa isip ng bawat isa dulang isusulat at pauunlarin mula sa pagbubuo ng storyline, sequence treatment hanggang sa mga eksena at dayalogo.

Ang dula ko na may pamagat na “Huwag Igiit” ay tungkol sa isang lalaking college student sa Maynila na nang umuwi sa kanilang probinsya dahil namatay ang ama ay napraning sa shabu. Ang mapamahiing ina ay pinaalbularyo ang anak sa paniniwalang sinapian ito ng masamang espiritu. Muntik nang mamatay ang anak sa tindi ng palalatigo ng albularyo o exorcist. Ang ama ay namatay sa pagbibigti dahil sa pagkapraning sa mga pamahiin. May lolo rin siya na namatay sa Maynila kasabay ng iba pa sa Lapiang Malaya. May ninuno rin siya na lumaban sa mga Amerikano at namatay dahil isinubo sa sarili sa baril ng mga Kano sa paniniwalang hindi matatablan ng mga bala dahil may mga kwintas na agimat. Iminungkahi ni Rene Villanueva na hanapin ko ang isang mahabang tula ni Rio Alma na mala-litanya na pumapaksa rin sa pyudal na kultura ng pamahiin at exorcism at subukang gawing counterpoint para sa huling eksena. Dito ko unang nakilala ang makatang si Virgilio Almario.

Sa Film Center sa CCP Complex ang venue ng palihan. Pag pumapasok ako ay dala-dala ko ang isang portable na Underwood typewriter na hiniram ko kay Lourdes Lugtu. Half-day lang ang session. Ang ikalawang hati ng araw ay ginugugol ko sa pagbabasa at panonood ng mga dula ng CCP sa CCP library. Sa Harrison Plaza ako nananaghalian.

Hindi ko natapos ang isang buwan. Pakiramdam ko’y sa mga unang dalawang linggo lang ako may natutunan. Pakiramdam ko’y wala ring gana si Rene Villanueva sa kung anong kadahilanan. Maaaring hindi sya na-challenge sa amin. Aapat na lang (o 5 ) kami ay tila wala ring gana na paunlarin ang inaalagan naming mga dula. Nakatagal pa ako hanggang sa ikatlong linggo pero sa library na ako dumidiretso.

Marami rin akong natutunan sa CCP library. Nagbasa ako ng Oscar Wilde, Eugene O’Neill, Aristophanes, Dario Fo, Tennesse Williams, Bernard Shaw. At naubos ko ang lahat ng available na Chekhov at Ibsen. Naalala ko noon si Brecht dahil isang taon bago ang palihan sa CCP ay nasa isang palihan naman ako sa PETA.

Plano ko noong mag-apply na apprentice sa PETA-KE kaya’t pumasok muna ako sa advanced theater workshop sa PETA. Pagkatapos ng palihan ay hindi na buo ang loob kong mag-apprentice dahil ang iniisip ko na ay ang pagpasok ko bilang freshman sa kolehiyo. Pero tumambay ako sa PETA library. Nabasa ko ang Aesthetics of Poverty ni Brenda Fajardo, ang mga sulatin ni Lutgardo Labad, Nicanor Tiongson at Augusto Boal na lahat ay parang itinutulak akong kilalanin si Brecht. Nag-umpisa na ang klase sa kolehiyo at di ko pa rin nabigyan ng panahon ang pagbaasa kay Brecht. Noon na lang nag-workshop ako sa CCP, saka ko na lang naalala si Brecht.

Pero kaunti lang ang koleksyon ng CCP tungkol sa mga akda ni Brecht. Ayaw ko namang bumalik sa PETA office sa di ko na maalalang kadahilanan. Sa Goethe ako tumambay. Nasa CCP library ako ng umaga at pagkatapos ng tanghalian ay nasa Goethe na ako. At naroon si Brecht. Nabasa ko ang Caucasian Chalk Circlena matagal ko nang pinapanood at ginagampanan sa PETA mula grade 4. Nabasa ko ang Mother Courage. Marami pa sana akong babasahing Brecht pero naubos ang oras ko sa pagbabasa ng mga introduksyon ng Brecht scholar na si Eric Bentley.

At hindi na nga ako bumalik ng CCP. Hindi na ako bumalik maski sa CCP library. Mula noon at hanggang ngayon ay hindi na ako muling nakatuntong sa CCP library. Hindi ko na tinapos ang palihan ni Rene Villanueva. Hindi ko alam kung ilan sa batch na iyon ang nakatapos. May kutob ako na hindi talaga natapos ang palihang iyon. Hindi ko na rin naitanong kay Laurence Espina kung ano ang kinahinatnan ng workshop.

Pero tinapos ko ang “Huwag Igiit.” Walang nakabasa sa pinal na borador nito liban sa akin. Naalala ko na lang ulit ito nang sinusulat ko na ang dulang “Monumento” noong 1996. Namalikmata ako at inakalang ang manuskrito ng “Huwag Igiit” ang nahalungkat ko sa mga gamit ko. “Huwag Igiit” nga ito pero ang sequence treatment lang iyon. Iyon lang ang tanging naipasa ko kay Rene Villanueva.

Ang mismong manuskrito ng dulang “Huwag Igiit” ay naiwala ko rin, matagal na.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kabilang sa mga Nawawala

I. Katag

Marami nang nawala sa akin. Noong edad 12, nagkamali ako sa pagkakopya sa oras ng graduation-exhibit ng sinalihan kong Katag art workshop sa ilalim ni Fernando Sena. Dumating kami ng nanay at tatay ko nang alas-otso ng gabi imbes na alas-otso ng umaga. Hindi na naibalik sa akin ang 12 o 15 mga drawing at painting ko na nasa charcoal, oil pastel at watercolor. Ang natatandaan ko, mayroon ditong charcoal portrait ni Manuel Quezon; watercolor na interpretasyon ko sa obra ni El Greco tungkol kay Kristo; watercolor na landscape na may mga baka at isang pastol; oil pastel ng landscape na may mga usa; charcoal ng isang eksena sa isang basketball game; charcoal ng figure drawing ng isang kaklaseng nakahiga sa church pew. Mayroon ding abstract na watercolor o pastel na hindi ko na mapigurahan sa isip ko.

Galit na galit ang nanay ko dahil wala na kaming nadatnan. May dala pa naman kaming puto at spaghetti. Birthday ko pa naman noon.

II. “Trahedya ni Clovis”

Noong 3rd year high school ako may sinulat akong dula na may apat na yugto. “Trahedya ni Clovis.” Hindi ko na maalala ang eksaktong banghay. Elizabethan ang hagod. Ambisyoso. Nabasa ko na sa panahon na ito ang mga obra ni Shakespeare na “Macbeth,” “King Lear,” “Othello,” Hamlet,” “Anthony and Cleopatra,” at “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Nag-umpisa akong magbasa ng Shakespeare noong grade five o grade six. Noong grade five kasi, nakasama ako sa dulang “Macbeth” ng PETA sa salin ni Rody Vera at sa direksyon ng isang Brechtian na Aleman na si Fritz Bennewitz. Pinakita nito sa akin ang pinto sa western literature.

Sineryoso ko ang aking Shakespeare. Bago nito ay nahumaling na ako sa world history, naging susi ko ito kay Shakespeare. Sa kabilang banda, binuhay ni Shakespeare sa aking harapan ang Edad Antigo at Edad Medyebal. Noong 2nd year high school, halos akusahan ako ng titser ko ng plagiarism sa sinulat kong review ng Macbeth. Matapos ang ilang minutong paliwanagan at nang mapansin niyang para bang kasaysayan ng aming angkan kung ituring ko ang obrang ito ni Shakespeare, iniatras na niya ang balak niyang sampahan ako ng kasong plagiarism.

Sineryoso ko ang aking Shakespeare. Hanggang sa maisulat ko ang “Trahedya ni Clovis.” Ima-mount sana ito ng aming grupong Tanghalang Santo Tomas (TST) noong 4th year high school pero kinapos na sa panahon at rekurso. Gusto sana ito noong idirehe ng batang-batang si Bernard Capino pero huli na nang mabasa niya ito. Noong taong iyon, ang itinanghal ng aming tropa ay ang dula mismo ni Capino na “Eksodo” (na tila isinakomedyang “No Exit” ni Sartre) at ang “Hello Out There” ni William Saroyan. Si Capino rin ang nagdirihe ng “Eksodo” tampok si Michelle Valdez na sa hinaharap ay magiging beauty queen. Ako naman ang nag-direct ng “Hello Out There.” Ako rin ang pangunahing aktor kasama si Myra Dabuet. May isang panahon na babad ako sa realismo nina Chekhov at Ibsen at sa “kawalang-katuturan” nina Edward Albee at Ionesco, nang ipahiram at ipakilala sa akin ni Capino ang mga obra nina Bienvenido Noriega, Ruel Molina Aguila, at Rene Villanueva.

Kasama ni Capino si Jun Lana nang manood siya ng dulang “Sa Sariling Bayan” ni Rene Villanueva na itinanghal ng UP Repertory Company sa direksyon ni Soxy Topacio. Hindi nila alam na kasama ako sa dula. Si Cris Martinez, na isa sa mga assistant ni Soxy, ang nag-imbita sa kanila. Nagkasabay kami nina Capino at Lana sa TST bilang mga officers. Ahead si Lana sa akin ng isang taon, ahead naman ako kay Capino. Noong magkita-kita kami noong 1989 o 1990 nang manood sila ng “Sa Sariling Bayan,” barkada na nila si Cris Martinez. Nagkasabay silang tatlo sa playwriting workshop ni Rene Villanueva. Sa tingin ni Villanueva noon, sila na nga ang kinabukasan ng dulaan sa bansa – si Martinez na taga-UP, si Lana na taga-UST at si Capino ng Ateneo.

Tinanong sa akin ni Capino kung kailan ko isasauli ang mga pinahiram niya sa aking mga aklat ng dula. Sabi ko yata ay sa susunod na linggo. Nahirapan na akong hanapin ang mga libro. Hinanap ko rin ang nirebisa kong borador ng “Clovis” para pakomentaryuhan sa kanya. Hanggang ngayon ay hindi ko pa ito nahahanap.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sulat ni Alan Jazmines kay Ericson

Larawan ni Alan Jazmines noong 1986.

11 Oktubre 2011

Kasamang Eric,

Maalab na pagbati at mapulang pagsaludo rin sa iyo! Maraming salamat sa sulat mo ng 14 Hulyo. Bagamat matagal na iyon, natanggap ko lang iyon nito na lamang nakaraang linggo. Naibahagi ko rin agad ito sa iba pang poldets dito.

Di ko lang nasagot kaagad dahil bukod sa nagkasakit ako (nagka-flu / sipon / sinusitis at nilagnat nang apat na araw), may ni-rush pa akong ilang urgent na sulat nitong mga nagdaang araw.

Maganda at nakatutuwa ang mungkahi mong magkaroon tayo at iba pang poldets ng open exchanges ng mga sulat, atbp. (kabilang ang mga pahayag at mga likha) na maaaring dumaloy sa internet. Makatutulong iyon di lamang sa mga nagsusulatang poldets, kundi pati sa iba pang poldets at sa mas malawak pang aabutin nito, kabilang ang mga kamag-anak at kaibigan nilang nagtataguyod sa karapatang-tao at sa pagpapalaya ng mga bilanggong pulitikal.

Maiging magkaroon lang ng sistema ng komunikasyon sa mga “friends,” upang matukoy agad, o makaray na rin pati ang mga “unfriends.”

Mula nadakip ako noong 14 Peb, di ako makagawa ng mga tula, liban na lang sa dalawang inihanda ko partikular para sa dulang POLDET na itinanghal sa UP noong Set. 30 – yung isa sa bisperas na mismo ng pagtatanghal ko naipadala at di ko alam kung nakaabot pa. May ihahabol pa sana akong maiigsi para sa last part, pero di ko na kinaya. Ipinagpapalagay kong may kopya ka na ng mga ginawa ko para sa dula.

Wala pa kaming balita kung kumusta ang pagtatanghal. Ipinagpapalagay naman naming mahusay at matagumpay. Hintay na lang kami ng kopya ng buong iskrip (kung meron pa sanang video ng pagtatanghal ay mas maige.)

Nakatanggap naman kami rito ng “Prison Sessions,” na naglalaman ng mga jamming ninyo ni Nato R. at iba pang mga kantang isinulat mo. Hanga kami sa pagka-prolific mo. Marami rito ang matutuwa kung may maipapasok na CD/DVD ng mismong jamming. Isa na si Ka Edong (Sarmiento) na mahilig din sa jamming.

O sige, eto na muna, Ka Eric. Inaasahan namin ang higit pang impormasyon tungkol sa mechanics ng ipinapanukala mong open exchanges ng mga poldets at bahagi natin sa mga pagsisikap para sa paglaya ng mga poldets.

Sa pakikibaka at Kalayaan

Ka Alan