Thursday, September 20, 2012

One Sunday in Prison

Nothing was more exhilarating for us than a weekend with our father. You see he was the chief of police.  Everywhere he went, he made news.

It was during the days when we drove our mother crazy.  She demanded a spic-and-span household. Her only problem was our three teenage sisters who just found out about bell bottom blues among other things, plus us - four kids whose favorite game was proving to ourselves that cats had nine lives. One time, our mother spent a fortune landscaping our lawn, on which we dug up a big hole trying to unearth a cave where we could perform such experiments. However, before we could turn the whole backyard into a laboratory, my father stepped in. He came up with this ingenious idea to take us to Mass inside the city jail every Sunday.

Along the corridor that became the makeshift chapel between prison cells, the chaplain would bless us with a sign of the cross, signaling to us the start of our day.  The sound of scurrying feet would be a familiar sound to all the guards and most especially to our friends behind bars. They would take turns gifting us with handicrafts that they worked on during the week and best of all, telling us stories that entertained us to no end.

"See that red door? Don't go there," said one of the prisoners one Sunday.  So we did.

"Urgh!" Something behind the door groaned so loud it sent us running back to our friend. 

He was about to tell his story when our father, together with a few prison guards, came marching towards the red steel door.

"Curiosity kills the cat, but we're not cats."  My sister said as she ran behind my father.  We had no choice but to follow her.

"Open that door!" My father said with a firm voice that sent the guards frantically searching for the right key.  Our hands covered our eyes as we stood in anticipation. Then there it was - a dark, narrow room with unpainted concrete walls and unfinished floor. We all covered our faces as the foul smelling evil spirits escaped from it.

Then in an instant we watched the prison guards scrub the floor and paint the walls. Soon after that we saw a cot being carried into the room. We whispered among ourselves in agreement with our father that if they were to make somebody sleep inside this room, it better be with a bed.

That would be our last visit.  Not long after, we found ourselves in front of the television watching President Marcos declare Martial Law.  Our father was detained briefly for having been associated with Sergio Osmena, Jr., a staunch opponent of Marcos. That night, I lay in bed with a rosary in my hand, praying hard for him to come home safely, as I had done every night he was out on a mission.

Looking back, while our story of the isolation room ushered in one of the darkest moments in our country's history, it opened to us one comforting truth - our father had the heart to care.

1 comment:

  1. Very heart-warming. It made me remember my father who was a soldier and like yours, compassionate and fair. I was born the year the Martial Law ended and I love reading and hearing stories about that fateful part of our history. The sufferigs, corruption, death.. and of great people who inspired thousands through it all.

    This is the first blog I read in your website, cant wait to check out the rest!