Friday, January 28, 2005

A Mulawin Wedding.

Episode for Jan 26, 2005, Wednesday.
“Mother,” asked Alwina as Lourdes was combing her hair, “why does it rain sometimes even when it’s not the rainy season?” Lourdes smiled. “Well, they say that when it happens, two birds are being wedded.” Ha! What superstition! And they both laughed. That night, Alwina quietly turned towards home, home to a father who did not understand her, and to a mother whom she detested. Was this life after the quest of the Mulawin tree? Avila was free, but what was there for her now? The Sugo had won the deliverance of many including Veronica, but for what? She had done nothing but bring sorrow to this house. So far, Alwina had yet to receive a personal award that she was aware of. Poor Aguiluz was now ostracized, Gabriel was nowhere to be found, and Alwina herself had a mother she did not need being forced on her. And the only mother she acknowledged had left her. The Sugo found the three children sitting on a bench outside the house. Alwina went over them and sat with Lawiswis on her lap, while the boys huddled close to her. “Mother is gone,” she told them in a defeated tone. “She left us because of Veronica.” Meanwhile, Veronica pondered the situation with increasing hopelessness. Had Lourdes really done them a favor by leaving? It only gave Alwina one more reason to despise her. “I don’t think Alwina will ever forgive me,” she said to Bagwis. “Don’t leave me. It’s just her and me now in the house and she won’t be happy about it. Why don’t you take me with you? I’d go anywhere with you.” “You’re not a bird-woman anymore. You’d get sick if you were exposed.” Bagwis, like other bird-men, were used to residing outdoors with only their wings for protection against the weather. “See, that’s the problem,” said Veronica “We have found one another again, but we can’t be together.” Bagwis smiled at her despite all his own worries. “Who says we can’t be together?” he asked, his eyes glittering. “I have something to ask of you.” By now, the news of Tata’s death had spread throughout the land. Aguiluz pondered the killing of the young lowlander. “No Mulawin would do such a thing,” he argued to himself. He felt in his bones that he had to find Gabriel and discover his secret. This senseless murder, the conversation between Dakila and Habagat, as well as his own visions of the future… all these whispered to him that something was afoot. And Gabriel surely was involved. Where on earth was he hiding? What and why was he hiding? A few meters away, Terong was hiding behind a tree. “Aguiluz is here,” he told Gabriel. “Hide yourself.” Gabriel did not hear him, but his own senses warned him of this. “Somebody’s coming,” he said, his eyes ablaze. Aguiluz noticed a young fellow under a nearby tree. It was the cowardly Terong, and Gabriel’s loyal servant. Aguiluz went to him and asked, “Where’s Gabriel?” “Good question… where is he?” Now the Sugo grabbed him by the neck of his shirt. “Don’t answer me like that!” he said. “Go tell him we will face each other soon.” Gabriel’s fury raged in his breast at those words. In Encantadia, Mulagat decided that he had gathered enough power to venture out once again into the world of men. So he took leave of his mother. “I want to be with my father,” he explained. Then Linang gave him her blessing, and the prince was on his way. The spirit-portal took him to a deserted part of Avila where nobody saw him coming. Mulagat surveyed the environment and spied a man armed with bow and quiver – evidently a hunter – in the distance. It was Aramis, who just then, was contemplating his budding love for the bird-woman, Aviona. Old habits died hard in him; although he had promised her to honor life before, Aramis reverted to his old ways tonight. Bored, he aimed his bow in the air and unhesitatingly shot down a little bird. It fell on the grass like a rock, dead. He did not feel sorry; such small things were nothing but moving targets to him. With utter coldness, Aramis left the bird where it was and went on his way. Mulagat went over to the site and held the slain creature in his hands. Such a cruel man, he thought. Who could he be? Later, Mulagat met with his old friends including his father. To his surprise, the same cold-blooded hunter he had seen earlier was now having a merry talk with Aviona. The two youths were introduced, and then Aramis excused himself. Mulagat asked Aviona in a cautious tone, “Where did you meet that man?” “He was another victim of Haraya’s song.” “I cannot be mistaken. He is the man I saw earlier who mercilessly shot a bird.” Aviona became angry, and said, “Aramis won’t do such a thing! Don’t judge him. You don’t know him!” “That is the point. We do not know him.” Habagat showed up beside them and echoed his son’s concerns. “I have the same feeling about Aramis. I don’t trust him either.” “You too?” said Aviona. “Maybe it’s because you were once a traitor yourself, you expect everyone else to be like you!” She stomped out of that corner and rejoined Aramis. Father and son let the matter be for the time being. Habagat brought some fruits to his boy, when Mulagat voiced his sentiments. “You are here, and Mother is there in Encantadia,” he said. “If only you could be together so that our family would be reunited.” Early the next day, Bagwis called the people to assembly; he had an announcement to make. Veronica was beside him; in the distance, Alwina was there, too, listening. The warrior began by greeting the crowd and reminding them of their victory. “Now, I know that the present situation is not yet perfect,” he told them. “Especially since we all know that the fruit of the Mulawin tree is still missing. But there is nothing wrong with moving on with our lives. And I wish to do that beside the woman I love. So I wish to make known to all of you, that in two days our wedding will take place! And you are all invited to celebrate the occasion with us!” The crowd roared in applause, but the feathers on Alwina’s head could have fallen off. She withdrew from the scene heartbroken anew. Bagwis called out and ran after her, unmindful of the friends and neighbors who were looking on. He caught up with his daughter and made her face him. “Believe it or not, it hurts us too that Lourdes has left,” he said to her. “But life goes on. We’re doing this for you!” Bagwis waited for her to speak, but she did not. “Talk to me,” he begged. “Tell me how you feel. I’m your father. I want us to understand each other.” Talk to me, damn it! But she maintained her silence in spite of his pleadings. Her eyes looked as cold and remote as the icebergs of the poles. Her gaze spelled out unalloyed contempt, bitterness and hatred. Veronica was nearby; Alwina’s heart froze shut at the mere sight of her. “Alwina, you cannot deny that Veronica is your true mother!” Bagwis finally screamed at her. “Do you understand that?” Unshaken by his outburst, the Sugo told them, “I don’t see a mother’s face when I look at her. I see the face of the Queen of the Ravena. And you know what? No matter what you do, you can’t change my heart and mind about that!” Aguiluz was roaming the forest as usual when a stranger fell on him and put a thrust a hunter’s knife to his throat. The Mulawin did not recognize him. He looked like an ordinary lowlander who was a huntsman. Each demanded to know who the other was. The lowlander challenged Aguiluz to a duel, so the hero struck his flute upon the ground and produced his sword. In the course of their fighting, Aramis took a mighty leap over him that amazed Aguiluz. It would not have been possible for an ordinary man to manage such a feat. Then Aviona came running and cried out, “Aguiluz! Aramis! Stop it!” She introduced one to the other as a friend, so the two men sheathed their weapons. “I was only protecting Aviona,” said Aramis. “Forgive me.” After the matter was clarified, Aviona said to her childhood friend, “Have you heard that Bagwis and Veronica are getting married? Everyone’s invited!” “Except me,” he said sullenly. “Nonsense! You should come! Bagwis is like a father to you.” Aguiluz thought she was joking. “After what I did? And how they’ve treated me? I have lost face, Aviona. I can’t face you people anymore.” The people of Avila had welcomed the wedding announcement with cheers, but this had been more of a show for Bagwis than actual happiness. As they prepared for the feast, Rosing told the others, “I don’t blame Alwina for how she feels. If I were her, I’d feel the same way too.” Laab then said wisely, “We should accept the marriage. When we do, maybe it will be easier for Alwina to accept her mother.” So, despite some reservations, everyone agreed to make haste and prepare for the big day. Perhaps, more than anything, they were grateful to Bagwis for giving them a reason to celebrate. Laab certainly was! Two days later, at the foot of the Mulawin tree, the most sacred site for all the Mulawin, the wedding took place as scheduled. The aura of the tree itself extended to the whole area and surrounded the bride and groom with its divine, golden light. Dakila presided over the ceremony, reciting to the two their wedding vows. “… for better or for worse, in times of war, and in times of peace, in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow…” As Bagwis kissed his wife, the sky let fall the first drops of an off-season rain. Far away from there, in a solitary part of the woods, Lourdes took shelter under a tree. She was thinking of the Mulawin she loved, and what little comfort it gave her now that she had confessed the truth to him. She never heard the jubilant shouts of the Avilans congratulating the newlyweds. But heaven’s tears must have told her the news.
 

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