Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sean loves Martial Law!

I found this while rummaging through my old files the other night.
September 21, 2006---On the front page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the picture of the deposed President Marcos who declared Martial Law 34 years ago appeared side by side with the news of Martial Law just being declared in Thailand after a bloodless coup that unseated the Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra only a few days ago. What kind of coincidence it was that Martial Law was declared in Thailand on the day we remembered with horror its anniversary in our country? But what coincidence, indeed! We’ve been living so close to this monster for decades that sometimes, we almost forget it continues to exist in our midst! Or, have we successfully deluded ourselves into thinking we are free until it sticks its ugly head out again to kill us? We gasped as we stared in horror at the picture of the Thai army on the streets of Bangkok’s Dusit area.
“I can’t believe it!” I exclaimed, catching my breath as I held up the picture on the front page to J.A., who for the first time in my life finally agreed with me and was nodding his head rather glumly.
“But that is my favorite!” said five-year old Sean, tiptoeing just to get a glimpse of the picture that caused my agitation. I did not mind him, at first, for I was still reeling from the unexpected (at least, for me) turn of events. I stood up and brought the newspaper to my room to read every line of it but Sean followed me there, pointing at the picture, saying, “But I like it! It’s my favorite!” He was pointing at the picture of Bangkok. I was puzzled.
“But it’s bad to be under Martial Law, Sean," I said, gesturing a gag on my mouth. "Under Martial Law, we can’t talk anymore.”
“But I love Martial Law,” he insisted.
I went back to the kitchen again and then back to my room, and back to the kitchen, until I finally sat down at the table to sip coffee with J.A., who started his long reminiscences about where he was when Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972. But before he can finish his third sentence—when he was telling me how, as the one who used to handle public relations of a multinational firm, he arrived at the airport with all those Japanese visitors in tow to let them take their return flight to Tokyo and found all those soldiers in camouflage telling him there’s no longer any flight that day---Sean barged in again and J.A. had to stop in mid-sentence.
“Do we have Martial Law here in Davao, Ma?” I shook my head.
“Martial Law is bad, Sean,” J.A. said, turning to his son. “There will be lots of people on the streets with guns. They’ll point a gun at you and you can’t do anything about it. Don’t ever wish for it.”
Sean looked at us, hurt. “But I love Martial Law, di ba, Ma?! Martial Law is sweet!” he declared, fiercely. “I’ve tasted Martial Law! It’s soft and comes in different colors! I love the smaller Martial Law better than the big ones. I know because somebody from davaotoday gave it to me. Let’s buy Martial Law, Ma! Maybe, they’re selling it in the mall.”
J.A. and I looked at each other before the light of understanding finally dawned upon my confused mind. “AAAh!” I whispered, “You mean, marshmallows?!”

How to explain Martial Law to a kid who loves Marshmallows

After our momentary confusion about the meaning of sounds, I finally heard Sean explaining to Nina Valerie, the girl next door, the difference between Marshmallows and Martial Law.

“Marshmallows are good but Martial Law is bad.”
“Marshmallows are sweet but Martial Law is bitter.”

"Marshmallows are soft but Martial Law is hard.”
“Marshmallows are full of colors but Martial Law is dark.”
“Marshmallows are smooth but Martial Law is rough.”
“Marshmallows are love and pleasure, Martial Law is hate and pain.”

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