Wednesday, February 1

Vengeance is not ours

Does this sound familiar to you:

"Alms, alms, spare me a piece of bread. Spare me your mercy! I am a child, so young, so thin, so ragged."

I don't know about you, but when I was in grade school declamation contests were all the rage. (Singing contests were in, too. Boys and girls regularly unleashed their inner divas--just try Whitney Houston's "One Moment in Time," why don't you?) Whitman's "O Captain, My Captain!" and Henley's "Invictus" ("I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul") were popular choices. Girls would be prevailed upon to do their version of Sisa from Noli Me Tangere. (Basilio! Crispin!)

But the weirdest piece to ever hit the Philippine declamation scene was something that spoke of the horrors of the Japanese Occupation in the Philippines. I was eleven when I was forced to perform this piece myself. It's only now that it became evident that it was meant for a boy, "Oscar." The possibilities are mind-boggling. So all along, this was about a male ana? Gasp! But maybe back then they changed the persona into whatever convenient configuration they needed at the moment.

High school was a different matter. In freshman year, our speech and language teacher decided that we should all acquire a British accent. We rolled and/or dropped our R's upon request and asked each other how we wanted our tea. He was also our music teacher and we had to sing "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" back to back with "I Can't Cry Hard Enough." We were in a state university and a bunch of us were there precisely because we were refugees from Catholic schools. You can imagine that this caused a great confusion among us. I think we are all still traumatized. Maybe even more so if our teacher had his way about teaching us how to speak German, but I digress.

A while back, my aunt asked me to look for a declamation piece for my cousin, and I couldn't think of anything but this. So why not perpetuate this piece, no? Just because "to forgive is divine, but vengeance is sweeter." Hehe. It would be interesting to watch an entire generation of kids crawl all over the stage in an attempt to give this piece "justice."

So if you want to relive your childhood, get the full text here.

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