Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Night with Commander Dante

   I’ve had anger management problem before the phrase was invented.  I didn’t spank my children like typical parents but they have experienced my erratic behavior.  They have seen me fight with neighbors, a nun school principal over my son’s haircut, a PE/CAT teacher who made my son do 70 push ups that sprained my son’s arms to swell, etc.  My kids kept to themselves other potentially volatile situations in fear that my reaction would escalate the situation.

   In the mid 80’s, Rody, my cousin next door was half Japanese.  He arrived in the Philippines at 20 years old to meet his Filipino father who had moved to Canada more than a decade prior.  Having been raised in Japan he was not aware of Filipino protocol about confronting children without the presence of parents.

   All was well, or so I thought, until my live-in help told me about an altercation between the 30 year old Rody and my 17 year old son while I was at work and my husband was abroad.

   “Jojo!  Jojo!  What happened between you and Rody?” I screamed instantly.

   “It’s nothing, mom.  It’s no big deal.”

   “Let me be the judge of that!”

   “Rody said, he was out doing Karaoke the past night and my playing my electric guitar kept him from sleeping late that morning,” my son explained.

   That was enough for me.  From the kitchen I flew to my front door in anger. 

   “Hey you people were not invited here.  Go back to your own country!” I yelled.

   Rody came out of his place saying in Tagalog with his Japanese accent, “You know, I have grenades I haven’t used.  Maybe one day I’ll use one.”

   We’ve heard rumors that Rody was working for Yakuza, a Japanese mafia of sorts.  I was not going to take the subtle threat sitting down, not with my three kids living a few meters from Rody.  I said nothing more but that didn’t mean I was backing down.

   Cory Aquino had just been seated as the new president of the Philippines.  The first thing she did was to release Commander Dante from jail.  Dante had become a folk hero.  The media could not get enough of him.  Student organizations sponsored ‘meet and greet’ and discourses.  It wasn’t called ‘meet and greet’ at that time.  I attended one of those.

   At the end of the event, after the students have left, the adults started drinking.  I inserted myself in their midst.  Then, I invited Dante to my place in Cavite for more beer.  I promised to drive him and his security back to Manila after breakfast.  Dante was so kind to accept my invitation.  Despite threats on his life, he trusted me.

   There was no privacy fence between Rody’s home and mine.  The next morning, Rody looked out his window and found Dante doing stretches in my yard.  The next time I left home for an errand, Rody built a wall between us.  The somewhat 20 meters long, 6 feet high structure was erected in 8 hours!  

   In God’s mercy and understanding of my anger issues, no violent encounter happened between the Yakuza and Dante’s men.  I never saw Dante again. 

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