Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Firewalkers.

Episode for Jan 10, 2005, Monday. The darkest hour, they say, comes just before dawn. A sunrise was forthcoming that would shine on the plains of Avila like no other. But tonight, the land was still wrapped in the darkness of strife and bloodshed. A slew of dead bodies littered the grassland, and the earth turned red as it drank the blood of its own children. The clashing of swords and spears mingled with rattling of gunshots in the air. It was the finest hour yet of those who fought so valiantly and survived. For those who perished, it was nonetheless a glorious and fitting end to their careers as warriors on either side. But the likes of Maningning and others were fighting for a noble cause because they had chosen to. On the other hand, many a Ravena soldier there was waging war for an ideal that was not his own; it had been injected into their minds by an evil force that had robbed them of their self-possession. Now, Maningning rushed across the field, cutting down enemies left and right with the ferocity of a war-goddess. Then she met eye to eye with a Ravena soldier and stopped. She had come face to face with her father. He was looking at her with large blank eyes that seemed to have no soul in them. “Father!” she cried out. “Father, it’s me, Maningning! I’m your daughter! We shouldn’t be fighting!” But the death-cry of a familiar voice diverted her attention. Estrella, who had been fighting beside her, had been shot. The Taguba chieftain hurried to her side. “They don’t recognize us anymore,” the maiden said. “But I still believe that a time will come when they will realize the truth. It just saddens me that I won’t live to see that day when it comes.” Then the cruel blade of the Ravena soldier fell upon her, and she was gone. Maningning hollered in anger. And then, it was Kuwak’s turn to trade blows with their father. He fought unwillingly, and with a final angry swipe of his arm walked away from the duel. Meanwhile, Habagat took Laab aside and said, “We’d be stronger if the Mulawin prisoners could join us. Come, let’s help them escape.” He knew where to locate them, of course. Laab agreed to his plan and followed him. “To whom much is given, much is required. Surrender your wings. Surrender your weapons.” A female voice uttered these words as Aguiluz and Alwina took to the smoke-filled sky. Hot, swirling entrails of smoke now darted at them, threatening to break their wings. “Who said that?” they asked each other about what they had heard. “It’s telling us to give up our wings!” And, in fulfillment of what they had been told, the pernicious fumes damaged Alwina’s wings. “My wings got hit!” she cried, dropping into the earth below as if they had been clipped. Before Aguiluz could do anything, the same phenomenon overtook him. He tumbled down from the sky and landed beside her. By fate or luck, their feet touched upon the precious few inches of rock that the lava had not yet swallowed. “What do we do now?” they asked each other as they surveyed the river of fire closing in on them. It was scorching hot where they stood; the air felt very dense and suffocating; their skin choked beneath their armor. Aguiluz had not been there when Gabriel said the words, “Where there is uncertainty, faith must prevail” to Maningning. But the time had come for that and he knew it. Only faith could save them now; faith in a Divine Providence that would never try men beyond their capacity to endure. “Do you remember what the Balasik said?” Aguiluz asked Alwina. “‘He who asks will receive. He who seeks will find.’ All we have to do is ask.” With Alwina clinging to him, Aguiluz raised his sword before him, closed his eyes, and offered a prayer: “Almighty God, Your humble servants come to You for aid. Guide us and show us a way. We have faith that You will not abandon us.” Then he opened his eyes and withdrew his sword. Now with breath suspended, Aguiluz stepped into the molten metal. As soon as he did, a small mound of rock broke through the fiery surface to nestle his foot. Balancing on it, Aguiluz brought the other foot beside it and stood there. He beckoned to his comrade to join him. But Alwina hesitated until he admonished her, “Have faith!” So with Aguiluz taking hold of her hand, Alwina jumped over to his side. He clasped her close to him, so small was the space they were standing on. Before they could proceed any further, a phantom materialized at Aguiluz’s right. It was in the likeness of Aviona, sad and mournful. “You didn’t love me, Aguiluz,” she told him. “I loved you and you wouldn’t love me back. You refused to trust me.” Alwina warned him, “Don’t listen to that! She’s not real” Even as she said that, a specter of the lost Gabriel appeared beside her. “You let me fall, Alwina,” he accused her. “You and I are the Sugo, but you didn’t believe me. You let me die.” The sound of flapping wings next caught her ears. She looked up and saw her mother being held by Rasmus. “Help me!” Vultra cried. “They’re going to kill me!” Alwina shook her head in disbelief. “Go away!” she screamed. “You’re not real! None of you is real!” At once they vanished, and the two Sugo resumed their cautious walk. Then that mysterious voice spoke once whispered to them once again: “To whom much is given, much is required. Surrender your wings. Surrender your weapons.” Lourdes emerged then. She said not a word to Alwina, but deftly snatched the warrior’s shawl from her side. Before Aguiluz could react, Bagwis had likewise appeared next to him and took his flute away. The heroes protested in vain as their two parental figures vanished from sight. They hurried on, producing solid ground wherever their feet touched, until they reached the other side of the burning lake. “We’ve crossed it!” Alwina cried. “See? The fire is gone!” Indeed, the body of molten rock had withdrawn. Now the atmosphere changed; the heat faded away and the air cooled. In the distance they could see the mysterious Mulawin tree, glowing in the dark like a beacon, inviting them to come nearer. The sight of it filled their weary breasts with renewed hope and courage. “The Mulawin tree!” they cried out excitedly. Hero and heroine now broke into a spirited run toward it. Night receded and gave way to a beautiful dawn, but they hardly noticed. By the time they had arrived within a few meters of the enchanted tree, it was morning. An ancient gate barred the way, but through its slender bars of iron, Alwina and Aguiluz could behold the fabled tree. The whole area was suffused with a soft golden light, like the first rays of a dawning sun streaming into a forest. Now up to this point, the Encantada had been closely monitoring them using the magic-well. When the water’s surface blacked out, Muyak turned to Linang and asked, “Why can’t we see anything now?” And the queen explained, “Because only the two Sugo may witness what is about to happen next. They have one more test to undergo. But I fear that they might not pass this time. I pray that they succeed. I pray that all efforts up to now won’t be in vain.” Her son, the prince Mulagat, spoke to her thus: “It is time for me to return to the battlefield, Mother. I have been here long enough and gathered enough power. They need me. Father needs me.” “Go then,” she told him. “You may take with you those who can help your cause.” On the steeps of a hill, Lourdes and Rosing were watching over Lawiswis as she lay under the shade of a tree. The girl was rapidly losing strength. Then, as Lourdes looked on haplessly, Wis transformed into a young woman about Alwina’s age. Startled, Lourdes said, “Who are you?” “I’m Lawiswis,” the lass replied. “The gem is losing its power. I’m growing old.” Rosing shook her head, wondering at this terrible sum of events. But there was more: she pointed out the scene to Lourdes. “Look!” she cried in horror. Down in the plains below, the battle raged on: the dressed ranks of the Ravena against the Mulawin, Perico, Taguba, Musang and the surviving citizens of Tierra Fuego. Aguiluz and Alwina peered through the bars of the gate side by side, marveling at the sight and wondering how to get in. Now a divine apparition manifested before them. It was a female shape shrouded in dazzling white light, standing in front of the Mulawin tree. They could barely make out her features; they heard only their voice which must have been familiar to them. “Look, somebody’s there,” the two Sugo said to each other. “Who are you?” asked Aguiluz. The lady of the tree answered, “I am the guardian of the Mulawin tree.” “If we’re not mistaken, the tree we are looking at now is the Mulawin tree, isn’t it?” “Yes, but you have not reached it yet. You must arrive at the foot of the tree.” “But earlier, we were quite near it. Why has the tree moved away from us?” “You still have to face one more test,” the guardian told them. “The Merciful God knows that your previous trials have not been easy. Since your birth, all your problems, all the choices you made, all of those were not hidden from the eyes of God.” “If God knows what we have been through, then why do we have to go through another trial?” asked Aguiluz. Alwina argued, “When we tried to fly, the beasts of the air took away our wings. When we tried to fight, our weapons were taken away. How could we deal with another trial now? We wouldn’t stand a chance. We wouldn’t be able to fight.” But the guardian assured them in a gentle tone, “All that you will need for your next trial is your ability to make a decision.” Aguiluz and Alwina exchanged glances and said, “What decision?” Then the guardian declared, “Only one of you may reach the Mulawin tree. The other must die.” A wave of bitter antagonism stirred their hearts at these words. “We can’t do that!” Aguiluz told her. “Why should one of us have to die? We have proven many times our love for each other. Why must one of us die?” “You can choose to remain together and live happily. The price to pay is that you will not be able to fulfill your mission, and things will stay as they are: dark, chaotic and uncertain.” Aguiluz turned his back on the gate and slumped away. He felt cheated, as he was sure Alwina did too. They had come so far and had proven so much. How many times must they choose between their love for each other and the welfare of mankind? But unfair though this seemed, his noble heart declined to revolt. Not against fate, and not against the One whose emissaries he and Alwina were. He had died before after all, and however sweet life was beside the woman he loved, he could leave it again. His father had sought the good of all and paid with his own life. Today, Aguiluz made no excuse to do any less. “If that is destiny, then so be it,” he said. “Take my life. Let Alwina go on to the Mulawin tree."
“And unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required: and to whom they have committed much, of him they will demand the more.”
- Luke 12:48


Blogger cynically hopeful said...

hey southrock! wonderful writing here! (*clap clap*). i especially applaud the "have faith" scenes.

sometimes, with all the trouble surrounding us, despair clouds our minds that we forget that we have our Father who is just asking for our faith to continue on.

1/12/2005 10:45:00 PM  
Blogger South Rock said...

Thank you, cynically hopeful. :) It's nice to know somebody reads what is written here and likes it.

I liked that part too. This saga has been showing me lessons too that make sense at a personal level, not just the "world" level.

But I have to admit it's getting harder and harder to write about the episodes. They keep rising to higher and higher levels. The creative team of Mulawin must be true poets and artists for the show to attain such heights. The problem with writing/translation is that it doesn't do justice to the original no matter how you try. It takes a poet to interpret another poet, and only an artist can justly pay tribute to another artist. Even then, they usually fall short.

If there is only one thing I have learned from writing these narratives, it's how beautiful our native language really is. And how vain the translator's work is trying to render it smoothly and accurately in English.

1/14/2005 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger cynically hopeful said...

now that u brought it up, yes, it was also the native language that drew me to the series. it's like achingly sweet music, thought to be long forgotten, and it blends beautifully with the whole environment. there are some other shows that also use this, but their dialogues sound awkdward and unfit, parang pilit minsan.

btw, how ironic is it that we're writing in english? :P

1/14/2005 12:19:00 PM  

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