Christmas Eve Scott and Johanna were in a play, “Nino the Tongueless one”. Scott was a king and in charge of the lights and Johanna an ox. All week I sewed costumes – up to the end. It was written, directed, and narrated by Dick Solis and it was lovely! It was followed by the chorus of Ellinwood and Union Church singing Benjamin Britton’s "Ceremony of Carols”.
We came home, hung stockings on our real tree (rapidly browning) and went to bed to sleep a little before midnight when we planned to get up again. We were tired, not having had much sleep that week. They (“the construction”) were pouring cement all night several nights and on Saturday night, the watchmen who sleep outside our kitchen window (second floor of their construction) left their radio blaring all night.
At midnight Johanna woke us up, the church bells rang gaily and the watchmen suddenly turned their radio on again – rock and roll. I thought, “I can’t stand that music all during my Christmas Eve! I’ll have a nervous breakdown!” But they turned it off soon. I then felt sorry for them there all alone. So Johanna and I fixed up cocoa and stollen for them (a “Noche Buena” snack). One man walked across the scaffolding to our back wall. We handed him the basket from the back steps and back he crept. The man ate on the worktable where they do carpentry work by day and sleep by night.
We had fun opening presents. Johanna got a doll and materials for sewing from Mrs. Carpenter, her SS teacher at Westminster church. Dick gave me a brass pitcher from Korea and gorgeous silk for a robe. Kerry got a guitar. Johanna gave all her Barbie dolls and furniture to Margaret. Scott got a record and Johanna other small items. We finally went to bed at 4am after eating.
At 6:30am the children were up again! We went to church at 10, then to the Niguidulas for lunch. It was quiet, cool and relaxing in Antipolo. Then we stopped in at the Abraham’s and ended up at the Grosvenor Blair’s (A lawyer at Esso, wife directed “Nino”) for supper. It was such a Christmassy meal – smoked turkey, stuffing, apples, Sunkist oranges, scrambled eggs and cranberry sauce. Mince pie for those who could.
And after dinner the Ellinwood choir came and caroled! About 35 of them sang, came in and ate sandwiches, chocolate cake, and punch and sang again. They ended with the Hallelujah chorus. And I tell you that it is some way to end Christmas, with the Hallelujah Chorus being sung in your livingroom!
It so inspired Dick and Grove, they started talking about initiating litigation to secure legal rights for the urban poor – and they were ready to go on for another all nighter.
But we did manage to go home, pack suitcases for Baguio, sleep, leave before noon on Tuesday: Dick, Scott, Margaret, and me by car. Kerry, Johanna and Annie by bus with Alex and Fern Grant. By Tuesday night all 9 of us were tucked away in House B.The next day the Acculturation Conference began. Dick was on the Planning Committee and gave one of the best papers in the 3-day conference. We were proud of him. He held his own among the social scientists and anthropologists, 325 were registered, including 50 sisters from St. Louis School. Very friendly group.
On Friday noon, Jan Kinnier and four children arrived, so we were fifteen! But it worked out well. Jan bought at the PX and took the children horseback riding. We had expected Alex and Fern to leave, but they were having so much fun they stayed the whole weekend.
Sunday night we had a bang-up new year’s party. Irene Davidson joined us (She’s here for a month or two). The children stayed up until midnight. I was really impressed with the teenageness of K and S. There was a real gang of teenagers who had fun together – Kerry, Wendy Kinnier, Marcia Jordan, Beverly White, Scott, Steve, Chris Jordan, and Bob White. Monday we had the Jordans over for a luscious ham dinner. Tuesday we all left by car and bus, leaving the Kinnier family to stay on.
Going up to Baguio, we left a muffler, so it was with fear and trembling we started down – but made it all the way to Manila without mishap.
This almost turned out to be the first Christmas we didn’t have “tourist” guests to entertain. However, Saturday before Christmas, a family bound for Australia to study his work arrived. And he wanted to know about urban situations! So all day Sat went to them, though we also had a nice Christmas party at the church for the children.
I almost forgot, on Sunday (Christmas Eve) we took all SS children caroling at Philippine General Hospital Pediatric Ward. We also distributed gifts. At noon I suddenly felt I had to do some Christmas baking, so I made five stollen, two mince pies, two salads, a plate of eggs and meat. The Palms came over to visit and went to “Nino” and that's where the account began!
Horned Bill, Reprise
After my 7th grade baccalaureate, after Kagalakan, we learn we aren’t returning to our Malate home at 1667 B Vasquez. I know what I need to do. On a quiet Sunday afternoon, I slip down on the dark wood floor and pull out a dusty old box from under the bed. It bears a beard of dust webbing, and spiders have fashioned their own homes among the box's contents: leaves, a bullet shell, the gold rock, other moments. I finger the Horned Bill's relics most carefully. The leaves once encrusted with blood crumble at my touch, but the gold rock’s vein still vibrates.
The Horned Bill memory is distant and sad but still vengeful. She won't let me forget, appears unexpectedly in my dreams with bloodied feathers, beak half gasped—and a streak of fear that no one stayed her execution. I empty the box's contents tenderly under the gnarled roots of our acacia tree.
Mom and the Contest at Mt Carmel
I'm still attached to the Early Church Father marionettes. She manages us as her personal elves when a project idea erupts - so many theater productions, events, parties, household traditions. But the result is always magic. So, I see her dark hair bent over wet paper mache as she molds the aquiline noses and strong Byzantine features of those old men. While she sews their costumes and Scott strings their arms onto the cross-sticks, Jo, Marg and I work on a stage and scroll for scene changes. Then we work marionettes, endlessly reenacting gory tales of Christian martyrs consumed by wild beasts in the Roman coliseum. Paul falls of his horse on his way to Damascus. Jerome has a long adventure regarding his Latin bible. John Chrysostom offers a recap of one of his sermons. Augustine explains (I would say apologizes for) the theology of original sin. We tell some stories of our own after hours.
Then their 15 days of fame are over and the Early Church Fathers hang around the bodega looking morose, their cloaks molding in the humidity, their strings tangled. Jerome’s handsome head lasts the longest and is finally detached from his corrupted body. It reminds me of John the Baptist.
But Christian Education does not linger. Now, Elijah is on the run after the Contest on Mt Carmel. Earlier, we finished a play about Ahab, Jezebel and the priests. In Margaret’s kindergarten class, they are whipping up fingerpaint renditions of Elijah’s encounter with God. Mom is especially proud of her music. She reports to grandmother, “I used Bloch’s “Schlemo” to tell the story since it gets loud and soft in the right places.” So the kindergarteners are guided through three fingerpainting sessions, a treatment in yellow when Elijah flees to the desert, then a move to multicolor when the earthquake, wind and fire shake up Mt Horeb (though God isn't in these). And finally, during the last movement of Schlemo they whip up God's still small voice is bright blue.
Scott seems to have a contest at Mt Carmel every day. When he tries to ask a question at UP Prep High School, where he is a sophomore, his classmates shout him down. They say it's because they're anti-American. Mom thinks Scott is too eager to do all the talking and he argues with his teachers. “Try a different approach,” she tells him in her still small voice. (I don't know this at the time. I read her letters about our 'wars at home' much later.) She tells grandmother,
He has an eye virus, which caused blinking, which still continued. I noticed it stopped last Sunday (Oct 68) after he was in the drama, “Contest on Mt Carmel” I think it took his mind off his other tensions. But when he accompanied me to the PTA meeting last Sunday and none of his friends were there, I saw him standing alone, blinking furiously. It reminded me of once when he was just three years old and we were training at Mt Freedom. I looked out our window and saw Scott standing on the edge of the Kindergarten group, with the same expression on his face. He wants to fiercely to be part of his group. But his very aggressiveness is what makes it hard for others to take him in.
Still, she's perplexed by our American “turn.”
...the older the children become, the less they are affected by Filipino ways. Or is it that as their friends becomes more Filipino in their ways the less our children seem Filipino. Scott is a real maverick. He reports upperclassmen that are seen smoking, while others won't do it since they are afraid of being beat up by the boys after they graduate. He complains loudly that he does most of the work in his committees. He is fiercely competitive. The 8 years of cooperative JASMS seem to have given him an unquenched thirst to be first. And he is fighting tooth and nail with Alexander Syson for first place in First Year.
Kerry also complains that others on her committees leave the work up to her. She has a thick accent when she speaks to her friends, but she is so aggressive and bossy! More than she is at home. The politeness toward adults doesn’t seem to carry over to the home either! And they are not quiet-spoken, or graceful, or shy. I took them to the doctor’s last Saturday morning. It was a small office and my four were like the half-grown cubs in Born Free!