i was looking for this story because i decided to include it in my MA thesis collection (which i am currently revising, at matatapos nah! yahoo!). nag-panic ako dahil hindi ko siya mahanap sa archives ko. buti na lang at nag-e-exist pa yung defunct Likhaan Online website page kung saan ito na-post dati ng gay friend kong si gio na webmaster dati ng site, back when i was still a graduate assistant sa Creative Writing Center (now Institute of Creative Writing) sa CAL.
thought i'd share the story na rin with you guys. it was published online sa defunct localvibe.com during the late 1990s. i'm archiving it here.
it's a story of rape. at nang mabasa ito ng aking NGO kawomenan isis officemates before, they automatically reacted in a feminist way -- wanting to know if it really happened. sabi ko, fictionist ako, hindi essayist, so therefore hindi siya totoo. pero parang ayaw nilang maniwala hehe. i love them in that aspect. basta. heheh.
the Likhaan Online issue where this was lifted from had the theme "Writing in the New Century" published in 2000. hanep. tignan niyo before it disappears. i don't know how to archive webpages kasi e. that issue was a good one, which also included works by poets arvin mangohig, allan popa, joel toledo, my good friend kia sison, fellow fictionists miguel (chuck) syjuco, my good friends and fellow dumaguete workshop jologz frendz indira endaya and bernice roldan, isolde amante of cebu, sci-fi dude baryon posadas and a host of others.
i think this was the third revision of the story. at idadan ko pa ng isa pang edit para sa thesis. heniwey, eto na ang repost ng content ng pahina ko sa issue na yun:
LIBAY LINSANGAN CANTOR: PROFILE
Libay Linsangan Cantor, who is turning 27 in April, has a BA in Film from UP Diliman where she is also currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Creative Writing. She was a Fellow at the 29th and 31st UP National Writers' Workshop (1997) in Baguio and Cebu, respectively, and the 38th National Writers' Workshop (1999) in Dumaguete.
She has won 2 Palanca awards for her Filipino fiction in 1997 and an honorable mention award at the annual scriptwriting contest of the Film Development Foundation of the Philippines, Inc. in 1998.Libay works as a freelance writer in the media industry.
Libay's love for the cinematic art readily expresses itself in her writing. Below, she tells us how the two fields come together to create her writing style. Her favorites, as expected, aren't only written in nature, but visual as well.
"I am the type of writer who gets influenced by the styles of writers I frequently read, ergo my favorites. However, being heavily exposed to the Film/TV world, I am also influenced by film (visual) language and this seeps into my writing more often than I plan. So I cannot segregate my influences (as purely literary only) whenever I write. They all get bunched up in my mind and they manifest in my writings.."The top written choices for me are the works of Jeanette Winterson, Virginia Woolf and Douglas Coupland. Top visual choices are the works of filmmakers Alfred Hitchcock (Britain), Francis Ford Coppola (USA), Federico Fellini (Italy) and the new wave batch from France. MTV and the Twilight zone also play a big part in my works."
It’s a fade to black kind of moment. There I am, standing on the second floor of that warehouse, that godforsaken condemned structure of a warehouse which we consider our set location, my still camera in tow and waiting for the director to yell “take.” Suddenly, out of nowhere, a hand makes itself feel at home on my bosom. Another hand covers my mouth, and a presence makes itself felt at my back. Jarring.
I want to scream.
ME (internal monologue) : What the fuck is this?
Sound fx : manual camera crashing on floor, zipper being unzipped, fist hitting flesh, clothes being ripped, bodies landing on concrete, man screaming in pain.
MAN (bassy voice) : Aaaaahhhhh!!! Bitch!!!
I bit his hand.
Flashback, three months ago. I am a fresh graduate. Babes in the woods, the local Hollywoods. Pioneer film school, premiere university, prime knowledge. The oldies are impressed: you write well - can you do photography - you have a pulse for editing - can you direct this AVP - you’re an asset in this company - can you do marketing research?
My reaction shot (poker-faced) : Well, sirs, what I really want is to be a cinematographer.
Reverse reaction shot of my bosses, close up : Hmmm…
The next thing I knew, they assign me to take photographs of behind the scenes happenings on the sets of our films. For file purposes. For publicity purposes. For their own purposes, especially when there is a beautiful and well-endowed starlet on the set. This is just going to be a stepping stone for me, they said. Sure, sure, whatever they say. I decided to play along, see what happens. After all, maybe later, way later, they might listen to me and finally, I will be able to make my films. My own films. Not theirs, but mine. Mine.
My best friend is wary about this career move, but supportive nonetheless: better be careful out there. It’s a dog eat dog world out there. Are you sure you want to work in the film industry? I smile as I remember telling her: I’ll be fine. Don’t worry. I can take care of myself out there. I’ll be okay.
Cut to: present time - my bruised body is lying on the ground, my mouth releasing whimpering sounds. The man’s left hand is covering my mouth. My hands are helpless at my back. His right hand is gripping both my wrists. My stomach bumps on the ground in a rhythmic pace as he humps back and forth, back and forth, back and forth…
Pseudo-prosthetic make up: violet patch on left eyebrow tip near temple, bleeding left nostril, profusely bleeding left side/corner of mouth, unruly hair, red hairline bruises on arms, bleeding knees, black and blue ego.
Wardrobe: Esprit summer shorts ripped apart at the back, black body-hugging shirt slightly torn at the sleeves, left Skechers sneakers on and right one off, white socks both on, dignity stripped.
Who would have thought that I would be in this situation right now? God, I never thought that after educating yourself and learning and imbibing all the defense mechanisms available out there, it’s still different when you are in the actual situation. Rather hard to react. Rather hard to act. I want to fight back, but it is so goddamn painful. Awfully, awfully painful. I can’t move much. I’m losing my strength. I cling on to whatever sanity I have left. It’s quite difficult.
I want to faint.
Flash forward, two months from now. I am cleaning up my office cubicle and putting my things in boxes. My best friend’s voice echoes in my mind as I do this activity : get out of there, get out of there, they don’t care, they don’t care. Don’t talk to anybody. Never talk about it to anybody. They will twist your word to their advantage. Never let them get the advantage. The whole production office wing stares as if packing my things is as exciting as watching Nora Aunor rehearse for a take. No words, just looks. I wanted to tell them, so who’s next? Did they do this to you too, assholes? You want this to happen to you, too? Fuck this camaraderie you call film family! Where the fuck were you all when I was fighting the bosses about this? And you think I am a slut? Fuck you all! Fuck you all… Fuck you.
And as I pull out from that office, my best friend’s voice echoes in my mind: bah, showbiz! What did you expect from vultures and graduates from the school of hard knocks? One less person in their office means one step up the ladder for them. Snippet snippet of the crab, girl. Snippet snippet. Yeah, snippet snippet indeed. Look at these people. Their first and only jobs would be whatever they are handling right now. Like me some months before, they are also hanging on to every word of the bosses, believing that they will get their break if they are patient enough. Or maybe game enough. As in, game to play strip poker without the cards. Perhaps that is what everybody thought I was playing. Well, they are wrong. I don’t lay out my mind nor my vagina on the table. I don’t lick ass like most of them do. I just do one thing: my work. But then, being a woman, I guess the bosses expected me to do more than that. But like I said, I don’t play that game. And I thought the bosses understood that. Or so I thought. And so I mouth off my best friend’s words as if the thought was originally mine. Bah, showbiz!
Freeze frame, dissolve to: present time. I’m at the mercy of this son of a bitch humping me, whoever he is. God, how I wish I had worn my Doc Martens this morning. They have them metal tips, haven’t they? Yes, they sure have. Man, I wish I had them boots on now instead of these sissy sneakers. Why did I ever think of wearing these sneakers when I knew that the location was this rickety old warehouse full of metal scraps and decaying wood constructions? I should have worn my boots for this kind of set. I could have been more balanced with those boots with superb ankle protection. I could have kicked this fucker on the groin during the struggle earlier. Well, I know that is going to be hard, but who cares! At least, I could have done something. I could have done something. I could have, you know? Done something.
But I wasn’t able to.
So he finishes with it. Thank God. Hell, no, wait, thank God? Thank God? Where was this God when this whole thing was happening? Don’t tell me He was in some shadowy thing, living off his duty by carrying me and not leaving my side and all that footprint shit. Fuck that! So no, I take that back. I won’t thank God. God, thank God? What the hell was I thinking? I don’t want to thank God.
I thank Ibay’s Silver Shop.
Flashback, one month ago. On the set of our Osang film, we struggle to keep warm. Location: Baguio. Time: 2am. Month: February.
I so badly want to sleep but the boss won’t let me. Stay here - have a drink with us - keep us company - tell me about yourself some more - I’ll introduce you to Osang - do you want anything to eat?
ME (interior monologue) : Er, I want to sleep. Can’t you oldies see I’m dead tired?
Crowd shot: people ogling at our supporting actress. Typical showbiz bimbo. Her character gets murdered later during the next take. Of course, her blouse gets torn in the process. Why? To reveal her tits, of course! That artsy death scene shot. Very pornographically cinematic indeed. Geez. How come those things were never mentioned in my film books? Only in the Philippines, I tell you. Only in the Philippines. Man. If only the great filmmakers see this now. Ishmael Bernal would be turning in his grave as we speak. And he would explain all this to Federico Fellini and Stanley Kubrick in his gay showbiz lingo that we all miss so much.
Reverse crowd shot: typical showbiz dumb jock with bulging member, trying to absorb the female and gay gazes. A typical reworking of Laura Mulvey’s essay. But, sad to say, this guy remains a visual pleasure. Don’t look for an intelligent narrative from him. He gets to die, too, albeit gracefully. His character saves the life of the heroine Osang. Yahoo. Ten points for male machismo! Long live patriarchy and the portrayal of women as weaklings!
Ho-hum. No shit.
So I was stuck there until nature called. I go to the portable reliever thing on the other side of the warehouse and release whatever it is that needs releasing. Then I step out and am greeted by a toothy grin.
ME (startled) : Yaah! Kuya Luis! Buwiset.
It’s the clapper. The person responsible for holding the clapper, that boardy thing with the film info written on it. The one who holds that clapper designed with that thin wooden thing attached at the top and is raised before a take. The board that they put in front of the camera to mark a take. The one that they snap to indicate the shot has been marked and is ready for action. That’s the clapper. And here’s the clapper, smiling at me as if he is the cutest thing in town. Barf. Of course, I just smile at him. Camaraderie crap. I wonder what he wants with me.
HIM (smiling): Eh, direk wants you there.
Great. So what does the director want with me now? I’m just a behind the scenes photographer. They can survive without me but no, they call me up whenever they feel like it. Man, perhaps they need women there again. They must be tired of staring at the bimbo starlet and are actually craving for intelligent conversation right now. Oh well. It’s a D.O.M. convention, these shoots – our D.O.M. producer, our D.O.M. director, our D.O.M. scriptwriter. You may shake your head and say “A producer on the set? A scriptwriter on the set?” But honey, that happens in our local showbiz. And never forget that this is an Osang film. And oh, did I mention that they were D.O.M.s?
Devious Organizational Masterminds.
As I walk back to the set, I hear my best friend’s voice echo in m mind: why do you put up with this dirty talk and lewd stares? You are more than that, girl. How about trying out advertising instead? I just shake my head, grateful for my friend’s sympathy and concern. But I can never let her understand why I put up with all the crap now. It’s because I want to make my own films someday. So take the bad with the good, I guess. The bad, with the good. Anyhow, I think I know when to quit if ever these things take their toll on me. I know my boundaries, and perhaps these D.O.M.s know them, too. Or should I wave my college diploma at any chance I get?
The set is quiet. I take another look around. Well, almost everyone is half asleep. Except for the stuntmen. Still waiting for Osang to grace the set, I suppose. Hmmm, shall I tell them that she’s not coming? Of course she’s not. She’s having one of her tantrums. And one of the bosses are trying to console her. With what and how, I have no intentions of finding out.
Cut to: present time. My hands drop to my sides. Very limp. My head turns for that pivotal peek of the culprit. It’s dark, I am half-numb.
I can’t see his face.
Sound fx: zipper being zipped, foot kicking body, woman whimpering in pain, man laughing.
MAN (bassy voice) : You’re dead if you tell.
Offscreen sound fx: matchstick strikes up to light, man puffing cigarette.
I assume he’s having his after cig thing. Fuck these men who think with their penises. After treating me like a friend, they expect skin favors in return. My best friend warned me about this before: dress very very conservatively, never go out with them upon their invitations, talk to them only if it is needed, never go out of your way to do a favor for any of them. Yeah, I did all that alright, but why this, now? I don’t know why I have to learn some things the hard way. The difficult way. The twisted way. I was kind, I was being myself, and now this? No, no more Miss Nice Girl With The College Degree. No more Miss Nice Girl Who Is Talented In The “Field” Of Men. No more Miss Nice Girl Whom The Bosses Consult And Never Credit For Her Shared Ideas. No more of that. Damn them all. And damn this fucker. Damn him. Damn him to high heaven! Damn him!
I turn around, slowly, carefully, painfully. His back is turned. He is looking at the set down below. He is puffing his cigarette. My head pans right. My neck aches a bit. I squint. I think up a happy thought. I smile.
ME (internal monologue) : Thank goodness for deus ex maquina.
Hand prop: a big wooden stick lying on the ground.
I slowly stand up. I slowly pick it up. I slowly walk towards the antagonist. He slowly turns around.
Cut to: flash forward. Me and a memo and a man on my side. The boss signs a paper and I frown. Another man is sitting on the couch. Another man is mixing drinks at the mini-bar. The man at my side takes the signed paper and leaves. My boss stretches in his seat and stares at me.
D.O.M. convention, the sequel. That man has a wife - do you think he likes you - that man has kids - do you think he desires you - that man has been with us for fifteen years - do you think he just wants money - that man has been our loyal crew member - do you think you can just do that because you’re a woman - than man has no bad record in this company - do you think he really desired you?
ME (staring with disbelief): W-ell, he put his dick up my vagina by force, didn’t he? What do you call that?
THEM (looking very innocent): Loneliness?
Fury blinds me. I crumple the paper I’ve been holding for ages. I throw it at the face of my boss. It hits him in the eye and he reacts with pain. The other men in the room want to do something, but their cowardice pin them to their seats. They continue watching the show.
ME (furious): I repeat, I resign.
I walk out of his office. Door slams behind me. Secretary one and two follow me with their stares. My best friend’s voice echoes in my mind: let’s just continue the fight legally. Don’t think about it too much. We’ll do something about it. We’ll fight back, we’ll fight back. A tear silently rolls down my left cheek. It’s the classic Lino Brocka reaction shot. Yeah, Orapronobis. Fight for us. Fight for me. Fight. Fight!
ME (internal monologue) : All I wanted was to make films…
Cut to: present time. I smash the man’s knees with the wooden stick. Whack! He nearly falls to the ground. I give him another blow on the side. Whack! He totally falls to the ground. He tries to crawl away from me. I follow him. He picks up some boardy thing and uses it to whack me on the head.
It’s the clapper.
I fall to the ground because of his blow. He then crawls towards me and lands on top of me. I can feel his whole weight now. I can’t move my body. He raises his arm to whack me another one. I make a fist and remember that last week, I went on a silver ring shopping spree.
I went to Ibay’s Silver Shop.
Phg! my right fist goes. Phg! my left fist goes. Again, take two of that. Phg! my right fist goes. Phg! my left fist goes. Drip, drip, his nose goes. Bog! his head goes. He is out cold. I shift his body. I crawl out from beneath him. He lies there, surprisingly, with his member still exposed. And I thought I heard him zipping up his fly. Well, fucker, you’re not going to do a sequel of your movie. Not while I’m the producer around here. Never. Never!
I take his weapon from him. No, not his member. His weapon.
ME (shouting) : Roll sound, roll cam, MARK!
Sound fx : snap of clapper clapped, man screaming in extreme pain.
MAN (falsetto voice) : Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!
ME (smirking) : And that’s a wrap.
And, like I said, it’s a fade to black kind of moment.
So roll credits. //