(In which I display my mediocrity.)
A writer was asked to speak before an audience in Kalamazoo, MI one October when the war was still on. On the same night he met another Filipino – Celestino Fabia, a farmer. The writer was surprised to see a man who travelled really long just to hear him talk. In the course of the discussion, the man asked, in sporadically incorrect English, how the Filipino women of today were different from the stereotype he was familiar with. The writer replied that although they differ in the exterior, both women of different eras bear the heart and soul of a modest Filipina. Mr. Fabia was pleased.
After the lecture, Mr. Fabia told the writer about his farm and his family and invited him over to his house, repeatedly saying that his wife, Ruth, will be pleased to meet “a first class Filipino”. He also told him about his son, Roger, with pride. Mr. Fabia picked the writer up the next day and during the course of what seemed to be an endless journey to the distant farm, the writer became aware of Mr. Fabia’s life in the Philippines. He was a spoiled brat and the black sheep of the family. He lived in an old Visayan town where there are no apples. But there are coconut trees and roosters cooing early in the morning, and there was his family.
They finally arrived in the farm, the fragrance of apples diffusing all over the place. The writer noticed how Ruth’s hospitality and kind-heartedness was almost Filipino and how adorable Roger really was. In their humble home, he also found a picture of an anonymous Filipina wearing a traditional costume – another manifestation of how dire Mr. Fabia’s nostalgia is. He bade farewell to the family and Mr. Fabia took him back to the hotel. He offered to send news to his family when he got back to the Philippines but Mr. Fabia refused, saying that they might have already forgotten him. They shook each other’s hand and said goodbye.
The Flanders Panel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
Photo SourceThe Flanders Panel