It could signal the beginning, as the topsoil shudders while seedling tips frantically squirm and shoulder aboveground, thanks to the blessing of the May showers. It also could be a foreshadowing of the end, as Yolanda surges into San Juanico strait, its webbed wings engulfing the shoreline, stripping it bare of houses, and claiming lives of countless inhabitants. Most of us see it as a rebirth, challenge to our resilience, as we struggle against the confusion to stand up after Yolanda, our resolve furthered by the support of the international community.
Rain’s graphic imagery differs from one person to another, depending on impulse. Outgoing persons kept indoors by it become surly, while the homebodies nestle themselves comfortably beneath the sheets. A summer vacation-type of person would snarl at a hint of black cumulus clouds, while a hardcore surfer would jump at the chance to catch a monster wave in a typhoon.
We review the cameos of rain in the complex life of the Filipino. (SPOILER ALERT: Vignettes of various novels and films are mentioned, vital to plot momentum.)
Rain in movies, or literature in motion, evokes emotions hidden, and unsaid. It is awe-inspiring that some directors never have to rely on script, merely describing the rain scene. In essence, this style contributes enormously to improvisation, driving force of creativity, and places a wonderful boundary of mutual admiration between movie and literature fans.
Sue Prado is an independent film actress, who, like Jacquelyn Jose and the entire indie film industry, is a fountain of inspiration, pride, and respect.
In the ending scene of her movie with Mercedes Cabral, “Ganap na Babae (directed by Arevalo, R., Ramos, E., and Roxas, S.),” the rain signaled her liberation from a blighted life without a guiding compass, and hope prevailing against mundane, moment-to-moment existence. Prado adds that she felt that the rain washed away the bitterness.
The rains in “Manila After Dark (directed by Ishmael Bernal),” Prado recapitulates, helps the visualization of the destitute situation as Alma Moreno confides her pregnancy to her father, half-knowing he wouldn’t approve, with nothing left to do but get drenched in the rain to make sense of things.
As with Rizal’s Noli me Tangere snapshot below, Prado was also impressed with the red umbrella that sheltered Hilda Koronel and Christopher De Leon in “Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising (directed by Mike De Leon).” The scene was filled with tenderness, emphasized by the scarlet umbrella signifying that love comes to us in varying intensities, and theirs was the unique kind that imbues inward glow.
Rain as pictured in books can be bright or ominous. But it’s more of ominous, really. And they’re saying the millenials have fetish for dark comedy?
“Ngiti mo’y ulan sa tuyong lupain” – Florante at Laura, Francisco Balagtas
“Your smile as rain on parched land” would be the equivalent of this line of our foremost poet from Bulacan. ‘Florante at Laura’ is Romeo and Juliet in rhyme, where Florante woos dame Laura, pinning the imagery of a smile so sought, or the lady so aloof to Florante’s romantic advances (most probably both) that it is likened to rain on dessicated topsoil.
And then rain’s black veil descends, as with F. Sionil Jose’s “Tree.” In Chapter III, the nameless lead character, a boy from Rosales in Northern Luzon, was befriended by Hilda, a pre-adolescent tightrope performance artist. Fearless, she was able to walk the length of the tightrope without safety nets and despite the rains muddying the soil. I have already given you enough information. Buy the book, it’s so worth it.
Chapter VII, An Idyl on an Azotea, Noli Me Tangere, Jose Rizal (translated in English by Charles Derbyshire, Project Gutenberg)
“Do you remember that stormy night when you saw me weeping alone by the side of my dead mother […], put your hand on my shoulder, saying […], ‘You have lost your mother while I never had one,’ and you wept with me?”
This endearing verse is where Maria Clara asks Crisostomo Ibarra on the Azotea if he thinks of her, overheard by the giddy flowers and vines that crane their necks to hear. The above was Ibarra’s answer, obvious that he recalled this heartwarming scene, possibly as the point pegged when he realized that infatuation had turned to love. It is common in real life that we tend to remember the episodes where empathy was shown us by the people dearest to us. It is this simple fact that invokes such realism in this short passage. It is the contrast of ‘storms’ and ‘weeping’ with strokes of empathy that highlights this heartening scene of true love in Noli’s 8th chapter.
Chapter XXIII, A Corpse, El Filibusterismo, Jose Rizal (translated in English by Charles Derbyshire, Project Gutenberg)
Dead!” he murmured in a voice so low that it seemed to be a ghost whispering. “Dead! Dead without my having seen her, dead without knowing that I lived for her—dead!”
Feeling a terrible storm, a tempest of whirlwind and thunder without a drop of water, sobs without tears, cries without words, rage in his breast and threaten to burst out like burning lava long repressed, he rushed precipitately from the room. Basilio heard him descend the stairs with unsteady tread, stepping heavily, he heard a stifled cry, a cry that seemed to presage death, so solemn, deep, and sad that he arose from his chair pale and trembling.
The storm now becomes a most powerful psychical agent within Crisostomo Ibarra as he discovers the death of Maria Clara, with Rizal’s perusal of that intensity with the acuity of a waterless whirlwind likened to tearless implosion of Ibarra’s entire being. In my opinion, the ability of an author to vividly capture the duality of man’s light and dark emotions is what it takes to be world class.
Primitivo Mijares, “The Conjugal Dictatorship,” Chapter III Twilight of Democracy
“Dusk was settling on the ancient city of Manila, with the sun that gives the Oriental metropolis its most beautiful sunset slowly sliding away behind the clouds beyond historic Corregidor and Caballo islands. The eastern horizon was aflame with layers of red clouds, a phenomenon which a Batangas farmer would undoubtedly interpret as a portent of heavy rains, perhaps stormy days, ahead.”
Mijares was a recipient of the kindly favors of the Marcoses, being an insider and proponent of the dictatorship’s Media Advisory Council. Mijares might have foreseen his demise as collateral for his defection and his book, but not that his 16-year old son would be kidnapped, hogtied, feet and hands mangled (hammered?), eyes gouged out, genitals bloodied to a pulp, and skull bashed and broken in, with elder Mijares made to watch (source withheld).
Rain is the omnipresent observer but potent force, sluggard yet active, bright yet ominous, both light and dark. A fitting metaphor for who we are, and what we should decide, to become.
Photo credits: bruisedbutnotbrokenblog.wordpress.com/