Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Quiet Night and Salvage

It was eleven in the evening, I found myself along with my nephews asleep in bed. It had been a long day, for me there was work, and for them it was exam week. I had dozed off, while I was tucking them to bed and I woke up just in time to open the door for my parents who had just come in from a wake of one of our relatives. Cubao is quiet. It is hard to think of Cubao as being quiet but it is and this silence is only seldom broken by the sounds the alley cats make preliminary to coitus or a fight and by the drone of passing by car, truck and tricycle. And this veil of silence encompasses the neighborhood till early in the morning when you hear the fighting cocks crow and when you hear the noise the train makes as they cross the tracks. Of course, there are from time to time sounds one hears. The noise a pistol makes when it fires or the staccato sounds of semi-automatic shots fired. Even the howls of the askal (asong kalye or street dogs) as they make their rounds in the neighborhood. Anyway, it turns out my relative was salvaged, mistaken identity. This was a term popularized during the Ferdinand Marcos, the Apo, when people were picked up summarily executed. Enough people were killed to create a headline. The bodies were quartered or left , often only newspaper left to covered their face. The most famous anecdotal story of salvage though was the discovery of several bodies floating on the Manila Bay, a number of pushers were supposed to have been liquidated. So in the Philippines do not be surprised if the word salvage has taken a more sinister meaning, a deviant departure from its original definition, which was to repair, recover and save. An Additional Post The Prestige: A Story Told in Many Forms