Ang Paglilitis ni Mang Renato

I remember a play we did in High School. We staged the classic, Ang Paglilitis ni Mang Serapio. It is a high-drama, high-energy play set in a community of beggars.  But these are beggars who have made a business out of being blind, lepers, amputees, and even through their babies. It is the organized underworld of the underprivileged. In this society, there is but one great sin: Love. They feel that the earnings that should go to the “collection” go instead to objects of affection. (They have a deeper reason, but I’d be spoiling the play for you.)



On trial is the man named Serapio. He has been accused of loving someone named Sol. Without having to spill the ending (if you haven’t watched it yet), the play ends very disturbingly – the exact feeling that the author Paul Dumol wanted to evoke.



Mr. Pagsi, (Dr. Onofre R. Pagsanghan, to the people who had never been his students), posed the question to us as we were rehearsing: Why is the play entitled Ang paglilitis ni Mang Serapio? If one were to be strict, it should be Paglilitis KAY Mang Serapio. The slight change in the shortest word of the title may be a matter of semantics to some, but it also uncovers one of the play’s most poignant messages.


Literally, Paglilitis KAY means that Serapio is on trial. It means he is the one being scrutinized, questioned, and it’s his life placed on the loaded scales of justice the beggars had. If that’s what the play is about, then that’s what the title should be, right?


Paglilitis NI implies that Serapio is one himself conducting the trial. He owns it. He can even be the one interrogating and litigating.


Granted that the title is Paglilitis NI Mang Serapio, and if the semantics there means that Serapio is trying someone, who is he putting on trial?


Mr. Pagsi made it clear: We are all on trial. Serapio interrogates our values, our persistence, and even our souls. The audience is being asked: Why love? Can we still love in a world hostile to anything that resembles values?

It is the same thing that is happening today with Corono’s Impeachment Trial. One TV station entitled their coverage this way: Chief Justice on Trial. While that may be true, we are all on trial with him.


We’ve been here before. A little over a decade ago, we impeached a president. As the song goes, “Here we are back where we were before…” How have grown as a country?


Have we at least curbed corruption? Are the Senators we placed smarter have a stronger sense of values than before? Are the prosecutors who represent the people better?


We’re still opening bank accounts, opening envelopes, arguing about evidence, arguing about how to argue about evidence – are we doing it better?


We have the Secretary of Justice testifying against the Chief Justice. What does that say about our judicial system?


The President, the head of the Executive Branch of the government keeps attacking the head of the Judiciary as the latter is still on trial. The Supreme Court and the Senate are going back and forth with TROs and resolutions. Are our three co-equal branches working better with each other? Or are we more gridlocked than before?


Are our procedures carried out not just with technicality, but with a deeper sense of humanity? Or are we disregarding rule of law, to carry out what is easy?


The answers so far, like the ending of Serapio, have been very disturbing.



There are many negative connotations of the word “half.”
Half-baked. Half-breed. Half-life. Half-man half-horse (tikbalang in some cultures, fucking ugly in others). Fifty-fifty (ICU term for “not our fault if the guy dies!”).
But last Sunday morning, something they called “Half” never felt so fully… well… fulfilling.
I ran the Condura Skyway Half Marathon, all 21 kilometers of it that ran through 3 to 4 cities (5 if you include the short turn in the Taguig Area). (Thank God for the grace of running, and the grace to finish! The concept of the divine gets more real as you begin to feel your lungs and every muscle in your body)
Let me take a detour here to say, Hats off (or shoes off? pero mabaho yata yun) to the Condura Skyway Team for a brilliant organization! Thousands upon thousands of runners, and there was no clogging of people at the turns and starting area, supplies, portalets and ambulances were in abundance, and no accidents (at least none that I heard of). Congratulations to all the other runners, especially the 42k runners!

my girlfriend and I running the Condura run. never forget to smile at cameras.

It was surreal running on the skyway at 3am, crossing the tollgates, seeing the Exit Signs, while waiting for the rest of the citizens below to wake up from their hangover. At around 5am, it got more difficult, as the aroma of pan de sal and tuyo and sinangag made its way up the skyway, teasing your senses that had been driven to desperation.
Yes, 21K is half of the Full Marathon (42), but you put your whole self on the line.
You prepared your entire body. Every muscle, every blood cell, every sinew, every fiber, every neuron. You got ready mentally. Physically. Emotionally. Yes, even spiritually. And it took every ounce of your willpower, sweat, and even childhood memories (they’re useful when you’re bored), to be able to finish. If you think about it, all the other distances are but a fraction of the whole 42k, but to the person at that stage of running readiness, it was every bit as fulfilling as the full version. A 5k is an eighth of a marathon, a 10k is around a fourth, but make no mistake about it – every finisher has every right to be totally fulfilled.
The 42k is a monumental achievement, true.
But whatever fraction of it you finish – feel proud. Your total self became even better. Yes, even if you feel like crap the morning after.