I’ve decided to blog some of the bits of pointless knowledge I’ve got floating around in my brain, in the vain hope that this will clear up some thinking space for actually important things. So here goes:
In 1925, a Panay shopkeeper named Florencio Entrencherado proclaimed himself Florencio I, emperor of the Philippines. He claimed that he could control the elements, and had been granted divine charisma by the Holy Spirit and the spirits of heroes Rizal and Burgos. He pronounced that “the hour will come when the poor will be ordered to kill all the rich”, and actually had a following of about 10,000 by 1926.
Interestingly enough, he was not the only so-called Philippine Emperor. An American in Ilocos also claimed the title for himself, but I don’t know his name or how his reign came to pass.
I’ve decided to stop labeling my novel segments ‘prologue’, ‘chapter 1’, and so on, because something occurred to me that I should have put in the prologue, only it doesn’t really go with the rest of the prologue, so maybe I should make it a foreword, except that I don’t want to have a prologue and a foreword, so…
Argh. You get the point.
Inwardly, of course, Mansueta was seething. How dare she! she fumed. How dare he! How dare they! She felt like strangling someone, if only she could decide which of them deserved it more. It was not as if she’d imagined that Iling had been pure and untouched before meeting her, and certainly not as if she actually intended to marry him, but still!
(My family has always had an enormous capacity for self-deception, as you can see. Also, I just realized while writing this that Lolo wasn’t the only one with a temper. My grandmother had one, too; she just happened to control it better. In retrospect, probably she controlled it too well. Maybe there’s such a thing as being too refined…)
Eschewing murder as well as her usual perfumed, elegantly-constructed missives, Mansueta fired off a telegram to Baguio:
Your girlfriend from America is here STOP She has a surprise for you STOP Come immediately STOP
Arguably, Mansueta should have given him an idea of what to expect, but she was not feeling especially charitable at the time.
Betty, meanwhile, was living off the kindness of the Goldsmiths, a Jewish couple stationed in Manila, where Colonel Goldsmith was in command of a detachment of U.S. troops. For her part, Mrs. Goldsmith supported local charities, held lunches for expatriate American ladies, and clucked pityingly in Betty’s direction every chance she got.
“You poor dear,” she would croon, with more than a hint of self-congratulation over her own sheer goodness at taking the unwed expectant mother in, “You poor, poor dear.”
It was enough to drive a former stage star crazy, so that Betty, who had crossed the globe with every intention of presenting herself to Manny all sweetly sorrowful and adorably irresistible, was instead a snarling harridan by the time he arrived in the capital.
Well, it was not entirely Mrs. Goldsmith’s fault, really, because in his shock at comprehending the compromising nature of Betty’s surprise, Emmanuel, normally so smooth, made the mistake of uttering the fatally unforgivable words: “Is it… mine?”
(Everyone knows this is almost the worst thing a man can say to his pregnant paramour. I mean, there she is, nauseous, sluggish, and feeling roughly the size of an ocean liner, and on top of everything, she’s practically accused of infidelity. Just about the only worse thing you could blurt is “I know a good abortion clinic…”)
“You bastard!” Betty naturally exploded. She had been poised theatrically beside the Goldsmiths’ ornamental fireplace, and as she whirled to glare at her former lover, her fingers closed upon the nearest throwable object to hand: Mrs. Goldsmith’s heirloom brass menorah. “You goddam son of a bitch!”
The precious candelabra went flying through the air, and Lolo Emmanuel went flying out the door.