Contradiction in Terms
You say to-may-toe; I say toh-mah-tah. Deal with it.
Friday, August 22, 2003

Crocodile Laughter
(part 2)

Luckily, Emmanuel was at the top of his class, and therefore got to choose both the branch of service he wanted to join, and what his first assignment would be. When he learned that there was a need for a young officer to act as an adviser and liaison back at the PMA, he leaped at the chance, since he hadn't seen his old friends and dear aunt in four years... and also, it must be said, because it gave him a perfectly legitimate reason to get away from poor Betty.

So Manny/Iling came home to the Philippines. Although his assignment was in Baguio, he naturally stopped in Cagayan first, where he was given a homecoming even more lavish than his earlier send-off. This time, there was not only a parade, but a stage show, a Mass, dancing, and, in typical Filipino fashion, more food than anyone really knew what to do with.

This was because it was actually a dual homecoming, to honor not just Emmanuel, but also a young woman who was then flush from a string of successes on her concert tour in the capital city of Manila. Her name was Mansueta Gumila, and the moment my grandfather first laid stunned eyes on her, he fell immediately and irrevocably in love.

(Or like. Or lust. Accounts differ, depending on which member of my family you talk to. My grand-aunt Ma Aguing, who remained a virgin to her dying day, used to tell me, "Iling wanted to marry her right away." But Mom, who never entirely forgave Lolo for some of the things he did, always said darkly, "He just wanted her. And he wanted to be done with Betty.")

Except for the fact that she was also beautiful, Mansueta was about as different from Betty as it was possible to be. Even her beauty was different: subtler, more refined. She was half-Spanish and used only a minimum of cosmetics, but the things she did use were imported and costly to acquire, such as Maxam soap and Oil of Olay, to maintain her smooth meztisa complexion.

Like Iling, she was an orphan, but her guardian aunt had been a wealthy widow, who had swept her young charge out of Cagayan in infancy, in order to raise her amid the lights and luxury of cosmopolitan Manila. Mansueta grew up cultured, highly educated, and exposed to the finer things in life. She was a classical pianist who was then highly in demand among the cognoscenti for her talent, and among the young men of society for her looks and charm. But she was devoted to her muse and, though she was considered already slightly old at the ripe age of twenty-two, she was quite uninterested in marriage.

(She was also very kind. That's the first thing anyone who knew my grandmother says about her, that she was kind. This would imply that my grandfather was the dominant force in our gene pool, because while my family is not incapable of kindness, 'intelligent', 'charming', and 'bad-tempered' are more the sort of traits likely to spring to mind when describing most of us.)
Nikki bit in at 1:51 PM :: ::
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