This is my budding and raw play writing done for my daughter few insistent years back.
TITLE OF PLAY:
“TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE…”
SCENE 1: Inside the house of Madrid Family
Narrator: A pleasant day to everyone. Our group will try to personify through a small performance, some of the countless pressing problems of our modern Filipino society: Malnutrition, the Street children and Poverty. It is a typical story about the tragic lives of most families that are suffering these days…
(Lito enters the scene covered with sweat and somewhat exhausted)
Lito: Mila? (looks for Mila) (Mila appears with Jenny who looks sickly)
Mila: (somewhat angry) Why? Where have you been? I have been looking for you as early as this morning and I’m beginning to worry about you. Do you have any idea what time it is? It’s almost six in the evening.
Lito: I’m sorry. I was not able to tell you that I had to leave early and look for a job. Mando mentioned to me few days ago that the construction site somewhere near the hospital is looking for helpers and its been two years since I got laid off from that ruthless factory that I had been so I decided to give it a shot.
Mila: So, what happened?
Lito: I was not able to get it. I was too late. They had the slots filled up as early as yesterday…How unfortunate I am…by the way, what’s up with Jenny? How are you my dear?
Jenny: (speaking slowly) Mother and I went early this morning to the center near the barranggay hall to have me checked up…(coughs heavily)…
Mila: Its been almost a week that she’s down with fever, cough. She complains on her lack of sleep, her strength has deteriorated. I’m again beginning to worry Lito. She has been showing signs of weakness lately.
Lito: Yes, I know. I have also been observing that and beginning to worry too. What did the doctor said?
Mila: Jenny is underweight, lacks the necessary vitamins and nutrition needed for a normal girl like her. The doctor told me to look after her and observe her as she shows signs of malnutrition. He even advised me to have Jenny eat more fruits and vegetables and get enough sleep.
Lito: I don’t think we would be able to give that to Jenny. I’m sorry but its all about how we live Mila. We only eat twice a day and sometimes one or at times not at all! All we eat are nothing but tuyo and instant noodles. God knows that I’m trying very hard to earn a living but I seem to be so unfortunate.
Mila: (begins to cry) What do we do now Lito? Is there any chance maybe even our children do not have to suffer all these hardships in life?
Jenny: (coughs) Don’t you worry Mother, I’ll (coughs) get well soon.
(Jenny is held back by Mila in exiting the scene leaving Lito who looks so bothered by problems)
Lito: Where’s Joel?
SCENE 2: Urban Streets
(Sitting by the road is Joel, Ben and Karen)
Joel: It’s almost dark. I’m still short of earning my quota for the day. Times are really hard nowadays.
Ben: People nowadays seem so hard and harsh to kids like us who wander to ask for alms.
Joel: They treat us like we’re bastards. They see us as if we have no more future ahead of us…Hopeless individuals.
Karen: You cannot blame them. We streetchildren have been stereotyped as young delinquents and a threat to their safety.
Joel: No one trusts us anymore.
Karen: What? With the way we look? It’s impossible Joel! We cannot even get a clean ourselves and go to school! Most of us are orphans who always end up in jails and drug rehabilitation centers! I sometimes feel that our parents were asleep when God showered all His blessings in this world.
Joel: Hahaha! That’s why we’re like this!
Ben: I sometimes think of running away and just let those social workers adopt and take care of me…
Joel: Me too but I worry about my kid sister. She’s still sick and has become weak.
Ben: Hey, I saw her with Aling Mila earlier at the center. She really look so pale. She is even thinner than when I last saw her.
Karen: I hope she gets well soon…Listen, I’ll go ahead of you guys. Tatay and Kuya Raul maybe home already. (started getting to leave)
Ben: Wait! I’ll go with you. See you tomorrow Joel.
Joel: Ok then. I’ll stay for a while.
Karen: Don’t stay too long, the police may be here any minute now. Mang Lito might have to bail you out of the precinct again just like the other day.
Joel: Nah, I just was not able to run that fast to elude the police that’s why I got caught.
(They heard police’s loud whistle and was baffled)
Joel: And I guess we better start running!
SCENE 3: Inside the house of the Ruiz Family
(Inside are Mando and Raul. They are tired and exhausted)
(Ben and Karen enters the scene I a hurried way as if been chased)
Raul: Oh, there you are! I seem to know where you’ve been and who are you running from?
Ben: (panting) As if we have any place to go and something relevant to do?
Karen: They have been very persistent in trying to clean the streets of kids like us. We’re just trying to earn a living in ways we kids know, asking for alms.
Mando: Oh! That’s enough kids. We should learn to accept the reality on what the society faces today.
Raul: How about it tatay?
Mando: That we, together with all the families in this dark, smelly, noisy and poor area of Metro Manila, belong to what they call those below the poverty line.
Karen: Poverty line?
Mando: Yes, my dear. The State considers us as those who lack almost everything. Education, income, opportunities, and everything else that a typical Filipino family has.
Raul: Such as morals, food in the table, stable income, a healthy body and a sound mind…
Ben: How come you learn these things Raul? And don’t you think that we poor people don’t possess it?
Karen: Kuya, as long as you are poor in this country, you must learn to accept the fact that you are deprived of what is common and what is typical. That’s what I heard on the radio last time. Is that true tatay?
Mando: Most probably. It’s either we ignore that fact or do something about it.
Raul: Hey, Kuya, have you seen Joel? He told me yesterday before Tatay and I went to collect garbage in the village, that his sister Jenny was still sick.
Ben: Yes, he was with us earlier and yes, Jenny is sick and her condition is getting worse.
Karen: She was brought at the center today and was told that her sickness and becoming weak are signs of malnutrition.
Mando: I pity them, especially her father, Pareng Lito. He can’t even manage to get a job or earn a decent income to give the needs of his family. Same goes for Mareng Mila.
Ben: And it’s been Joel who always finds a way of earning…… sad to say, in a dangerous, uncommon way…
Karen: By asking for alms.
Raul: But we all have common lives, do we? We may even suffer the problems that they are encountering right now.
Mando: That’s true kids. And it is sometimes painful to accept the truth. We all have to pray that no such things happen to us…… I’m hungry, what’s for dinner Karen?
Karen: As usual, steak sirloin, kare-kare and menudo (grins)
Raul: What? Don’t tell me the lechon and lengua are already gone?
Mando: Hahaha! Stop your hallucination kids, get back to reality.
Ben: Tatay is right; bring in our hot and steaming instant noodles as well as the ever sumptuous fried galunggong!
Raul: (While getting something away from the scene and comes back with a covered plate) Well, I might as well bring out our “added attraction” which I got from a nearby vacant lot while picking up the garbage at a village outside. I boiled it actually and added some salt to flavor.
Karen: (Looks at Raul with curiosity) What’s that kuya?
Mando: (Looks also to Raul and inhales the aroma that fills the air with what Raul is holding) Mmmm…that smells good, anak.
(Everyone stares on what really is on the plate and when Raul opens the cover, everyone was stunned to see what is it and faces the audience. They all together say: Talbos ng Kamote!!! Then everyone laughs as they began to eat their supper)
SCENE 4: The Twist
(After eating for a while, everyone exits the scene except Mando who tries to rest, when Lito and Mila enters the scene with Mila sobbing)
Lito: (Tries to knock first), Pareng Mando?
Mando: Pareng Lito, Mareng Mila? What’s the sudden rush about?
Mila: Sorry for disturbing you pare, it’s about Joel. We heard that he was with your Karen and Ben this morning.
Mando: Wait, let me ask them... (Calls for Karen and Ben) Karen! Ben! Can you come out here, I have something to ask you guys!
(Karen and Ben appears on the scene)
Ben: Good evening Mang Lito and Aling Mila (then turns to his father) about what Tatay?
Mando: They are asking if you were with Joel today at the streets.
Karen: (Looks at Lito and Mila) Opo. We even tried to run when we heard that the police were coming. All I know is that he decided to stay a bit longer when everyone else chose to call it a day.
Ben: He told us that he was still short of what he usually brings home to buy food, especially for his sick sister Jenny.
Lito: But the problem is he has not gone home yet since we left our house.
Mando: What happened? Do you think that he was caught again by those unscrupulous policemen?
Karen: That’s impossible tatay, he ran ahead of us and I was not able to figure out which way he went.
Ben: He tried maybe to elude those corrupt policemen and have gone back to our place once it was already clear. Have you gone looking for him on his spot?
Lito: I tried to look for him but he was not there.
Mila: (started to cry) I’m beginning to worry about Joel. I hope nothing unusual happens to him. Karen, can you look out for my Jenny for a while?
Karen: (Nods her head in response) Don’t you worry much Aling Mila, I know Joel. He’s just around the area. Some place busier I guess where he can beg for alms from lots of people. (Begins to exit the scene)
Ben: So he can buy whatever he likes and do something for Jenny.
Lito: I’m so ashamed of myself Pareng Mando, (bows down in shame). I should be the one in Joel’s place. But I’m stuck with my ignorance, lack of determination and the will to be responsible enough to handle a family. I, like everyone else, am poor and don’t know what to do.
Mando: I share the same sentiments pare, I just happen to pray every night that me and the kids don’t get sick and our being underprivileged would not get in our lives. Admit it pare, we cannot live as normal as we want in this country of ours. It is true that the poor becomes poorer and the rich becomes richer.
Mila: It’s the system that’s ruining our lives. There are no more equal opportunities. Absent of programs that will help the poor and the needy. The benefits that each member of the society should enjoy should be addressed.
Ben: (Laughs) with all due respect, if I may join the conversation, what this State knows is nothing but keeping his pockets full and his stomach bloated! The hell with us poor people! Sad to say, it’s our entire fault that we are poor. And it is so desperate to say, that our country and the people who are running it, does not have the solution to this ever growing issues!
(Karen returns running towards the scene panting)
Karen: Aling Mila! Mang Lito! I guess you better come with me and we should hurry!
Mila: (surprised and startled) Why Karen? What happened?
Karen: It’s Jenny………
(everyone stares puzzled at Karen)
Karen: (almost crying) She’s…dead…
(enter soft dramatic music)
Mila: (shouts in grief) Oh my God, my Jenny!
(Lito still cannot believe what he heard, fell on the floor sitting down, bows down his head and started to cry.)
Mando: (sadly consoles Lito by placing his hand over Lito’s shoulder). I’m so sorry pare, our deepest condolences. Just put in mind that it was not you fault or anybody else, for that matter.
Raul: Why kuya?
Ben: Go with Karen, Aling Mila and Mang Lito. I will go out and look for Joel.
(Raul nods his head and leaves the scene together with Mila, Lito and Karen)
(lights out and soft music)
Scene 5: My sister
(On one corner of the busy street, Joel is happily counting the money in his hands as Ben enters the scene)
Ben: Joel! (Joel looks who is calling him and recognizes Ben)
Joel: Ben! Come here! I have some good news for you!
(Ben comes over but is somewhat sad)
Ben: What? That you finally found a new way to elude those stupid and corrupt policemen who always bothers our small street business?
Joel: Yes! And that’s not all. I was able to even triple my earnings for the day. I can now buy the delicious pancit canton and some bananas that my sick sister Jenny likes very much!
Ben: (looks sadly at Joel) Ah, Ok. Good for you.
Joel: What are we waiting for? Let’s hurry home because I might miss the fruit stand. It usually closes early this time of the week!
Ben: Wait Joel, I have to tell you something…and it’s very important.
Joel: What’s it about Ben? I know that my parents are already worried looking for me. I know that. It’s my sister whose I’m worried about and we should get home now.
Ben: There’s no need to worry about your sister Jenny. She isn’t sick anymore. She won’t be eating your pancit canton and bananas either. (Ben bows down his head in grief and starts to cry)
Joel: C’mon Ben, why are you saying these things to me? (Joel is beginning to look suspicious). What happened to Jenny?
Ben: (Lifts his head and embraces Joel and looks at him with sadness). Jenny is gone. She’s dead.
(Upon hearing the bad news, Joel runs away from the scene. He was immediately followed by Ben who also exits the scene).
(Enter soft dramatic music)
SCENE 6: Too little, too late…
(Curtains open with the entire cast except Ben and Joel. They are all in the scene grieving because of Jenny’s death. Then Joel appears and slowly walks towards Jenny upon seeing her. He was met by his crying mother whom she embraces. Ben enters the scene and tries to comfort Joel. He looks at his dead sister and cries out loud)
Joel: Aaaahhhh!!!! Jenny!!!!
(Everyone continues to cry and grieve as music turns a bit louder. The narrator slowly enters the scene in front of the audience. The music softens as the narrator faces the audience. Sadly he begins to speak)
Narrator: Simple as it maybe, we are faced with the truth that these simple tragedies that we just shown, are happening in real life. And if these problems are left unaddressed, more families will be affected; the issues at hand will swell to the point that we start blaming one another and initiate endless pointing of fingers. What’s worst is that we, ourselves, could be the next victim of these dilemmas of our modern Filipino society. And help from the government and private sectors may come…too little, too late…Thank you and good day.
(the entire then cast takes turns in taking a bow in front of the audience)