By Nora Soriño
ILIGAN City — “It was the worst of times, it was the best of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkeness, it was the spring of hope…”
Phil paused to catch his breath even as he continued looking at his notes before him. “It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. We had everything before us, we had nothing before us. We were all going directly to heaven…”
He looked at me and continued, “We were all going directly to hell.”
I stiffled some laughter as there was drama in Phil’s voice.
“We were all going directly the other way,” I corrected him, “not hell.” The lines of course are taken from “A tale of two cities.”
“What are you driving at, my good friend Phil?” We were seated across each other, a bottle of beer before us and some sandwich.
“This is a prelude to what is happening here in this city right now… politically.”
“Which you are going to dissect?” I said.
“There are two cities here right now?”
“Yes,” he said, “there are two cities. But that’s not my point.”
“The two… ah, shockers!” His voice boomed and the others inside “The Latino” looked at us, especially at Phil. Once upon a time, he was really a top radio personality here, but… ah, nevermind, that’s another story. Of course, he’s still a media personality though..
“As if you not aware of it, eh?” He was finishing his beer, bottoms up, while mine remained much of it in a glass. I thought his eyes looked dull. What, I thought, one beer only and you get dull-looking eyes?
“Tell me,” I feigned innocence but he said, “don’t play dumb, it doesn’t become you. But sometimes it’s good to play that. It’s fun.”
Both of us grunted, trying to suppress some laughter.
“First is the sudden suspension of two SP members, both in the opposition. Through some tired ‘sins’ in the past.”
He was talking about the “sudden” suspension of Atty. Providencio Abragan, Jr. and Michelle Sweet-Booc.
“The second is the matter of life jackets rental at Tinago falls. First, the person involved, Patrick Nuñez of the CDRRMC refused the SP invite. So, he was ‘forced’ and I don’t know what ‘force’ they used. And then when he came over last week and ready to tell all, someone in the majority, Sol Bacsarpa, suddenly came up with a ‘great’ idea– that of changing the regular session to an ‘executive session.’ When said executive session materialized, by the afternoon of said day, another SP member moved it to be just a ‘special session,’ not a executive session, just as suddenly. But the media only knew of it later, so they just remained outside the halls. I did some questioning outside and some of the employees there were just too glad to answer them. That a certain Mrs. Viray too and her family is involved. And somebody also bought some life jackets and had it rented to the bathers in Tinago. And Viray’s family too is controlling the place, and doing her duties there even if she, though employed by the city doesn’t have her assignment there. The plot really thickens as this Viray person was mentioned by the former city administrator as someone who has to be investigated. There are other persons really involved here. The suspensions of the two SP members, who are from the opposition, I suppose is just to ‘tone down’ the impact of this life jacket thing. Of which, media is very curious about.
“Maybe they had learned some lessons at the national level. Albayalde came to the senate inquiry and the testimonies were heard by all and sundry and look, what is happening to him! Hence the said decisions so that media here can’t grasp it all, ‘para mawala-wala ang media’ here. With the decisions to open it to everybody, and then to close to everybody and in the middle, to open again, perhaps, conscience stricken…
“Those two were really shockers, the suspensions of the two and the Tinago falls affair…” he continued.
“Hence, the reference to two cities tale by Charles Darwin? He who was connected with the Theory of Evolution? He who was reported to be an atheist? And when he was about to die, it was said, he was beginning to somewhat believe in the supreme being so he prayed: ‘Oh God, if there is a God, forgive my soul, if there is any soul…’’’
“You’re right there in the wrong way,” Phil said. “Because the Charles there is not Darwin but Dickens.”
With that remark, I sensed that Phil knew what he really was talking about. This, inspite of the dull-looking eyes!