Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tragic Kingdom

The little prince arrives at work at past 2 in the afternoon.

His first order of business is to barge into the Circulation and Dealers' Affairs Department. He looks for the manager to get the figures. 

The little prince needs to know how the business fared the previous day: 

35% returns. 
135,355 copies. 
P365,000 revenue. 

Not bad for a Monday run. 

To think the editor-in-chief gave the green light to use the same startlet on the front page a couple of times before.

He would then swing by the newsroom. More or less, word has already spread of his arrival. In a workplace where his presence is not really needed, (he was absorbed by the company a few months ago) the little prince's authority must still be reinforced. 

He would find the newsroom empty. The small room, always packed before dusk still affords the uneasy silence. The proofreaders are just about to arrive and so are the layout artists. 

The editors, who are already there to avail the free lunch are scouring the AM radio stations for news. With the company's reporters spread too thin, a breaking news or two would fill the empty pages.

Meanwhile, the in-house writers are putting the finishing touches to their sundry stories. Most are erotic in nature. Some are geared toward showbiz readers, while other articles lifted from stateside tabloids report bizarre facts (not to be taken seriously, if you have a college degree) yet, they still appeal to the masses.

"Space aliens: brains behind i-phones."

"Study shows menthol cigarettes are good for smokers."   

It would not come as a surprise if these stories get published the next day.

The editor-in-chief arrives with the publisher. She is the undisputed queen, while her consort - the publisher - is the little prince's father. 

Though there is no animosity between the queen and the little prince. Awkwardness pervades when they stay in the same room together. 

After all, the little prince reminds her of the queen mother.

Intrigues aside, business goes on as the newsroom gears up to beat the deadline. The fax machines beep and spews news sent by reporters from their beats. The proofreaders review the copies, before they are delivered to the layout artists.

Between office gossips and small talks about the colorful life of the queen - who sits in her throne in the newsroom, the managing editor returns with the banner handpicked by the publisher: 

"Prosecutors butata sa impeachment court. Magreresign na!" 

At past 6, the paper is put to bed and the production staff leaves for the printing office. The little prince takes a breather by taking a detour to a nearby Internet cafe, or at DLSU's University Mall to scout the hottest club sounds sold there for P50 a disc. 

In the evening, he would show up at the printing office to supervise. (more like hang out as the behemoth machines print the first copies of tomorrow's paper) But instead of staying where the machines are, one would find him snugged in the private quarters, making phone calls to his friends.

At past 10, the first batch of newspapers land in Port Area to be feasted upon by the waiting dealers. The image of Tracy Torres' pink nipples command everyone's attention. The business goes full throttle at past midnight as the dealers from Baguio to Bicol haul their orders. By 4 am, the people at the satellite office tabulate the papers returned so they may be included in the report, which the little prince will see when he comes to work the next day.

Such is the life the little prince had, in those days when he used to claim his father's throne. A year will pass, the empire collapses under its heavy weight. The queen will abandon the consort after so much in-fighting, to put up a rival paper. The publisher will then assign the prince as his hand, only to abandon him too, when it became apparent that their kingdom would soon come to an end.

Another year goes by, and the prince is already 24 years old. A sudden stroke of luck and the king passed away. He will sit in a crumbling throne his father left; live to run the paper he once thought was his playground; Endure a summer wondering if the business would live to see the first drops of rain. Before June, the paper he had set his eyes on when he was still in the academe will not be able to pay for its operations.

It has to be given up.

In his time, he saw an end of a dynasty, with all his loyal subjects scattered - never to be seen again.

Five years later.

"My meeting with Mr. Ant is set today." The queen mother said.

"Sige, ingat ka." The prince-in-exile walks out of the door without looking back. He's off to work to sit as a regent for another king.

"Wish me luck."

Mr. Ant took over the paper when its former queen, the editor-in-chief who stood beside the publisher, was captured. Pursued by authorities for her past sins, she is now locked in a dungeon and is bound to stay there for life.

With the old dominion now in shatters, the new lord reaches out to the queen mother to seek her blessing, grant her bounty that was denied to her, and hopefully, put an end to a cycle that has been going on for nearly a decade.

The presence of the prince-in-exile - the last remnant of the tragic kingdom has been expected since last year. It is he who hesitates to put back a torn-out chapter of his book, hoping the past remains undisturbed.

But he cannot turn his back on history forever, lest leave a wound festering throughout time. 

And so on the fourth meeting between the queen mother and Mr. Ant, epiphany dawned on him.

"Sir, I need to rush to the hospital."

"Bakit, anong nangyari?"

"Yung sister ko po, manganganak na..."

"Ganun ba? Sino tao mo...?"

It would have been easy to speak the truth, but a last-minute decision to follow the queen mother is beyond the grasp of the company - even the present king. And so the exiled prince who is now the regent stood up from his chair, picked up his bag and hurriedly left his workplace.

To come face to face with a broken past.

To express his gratitude to Mr. Ant, who is now putting back the kingdom together. So that in his own reign, the publishing empire the little prince once saw, may finally be returned to its rightful place - even without his presence.


Nate said...

mas ok 'to kuya joms, mas na-gets ko 'to.. particularly this part --- "former queen, the editor-in-chief who stood beside the publisher, was captured. Pursued by authorities for her past sins, she is now locked in a dungeon and is bound to stay there for life."

for the longest time, i thought the former queen got away, living regally in some kingdom from afar.. oh well..

then, i suppose, years after, the little prince grew up to be a gallant, dashing man.. with his own battles to fight, dragons to slay, and prince/s/s/es to swoon over him.. :)

now, how is the little prince, if i may ask?

Gian said...

kingdoms in peril always turn to the champions and heroes.

bien said...

Must be difficult for you to write this. Legacy can be a burden no?

Pepe said...

kingdoms would be so dragging and boring without dramas and tragedies, eh? the circus within high walls of palaces makes royalties worthy of their thrones, with capes to overshadow shames and imperious crowns to intimidate historians.

but writing your own story is different. it requires not the title, but the heart.

you know i've been waiting for this installment. thank you for sharing.

Leomer Apolonio said...

Like Bien, I felt that it's just difficult to write this entry, not because of writing alone, but because you have to go back to the days when "kingdom" is on all its glory.

Nonetheless, you did a great gesture in expressing your gratitude to Mr. Ant.

Mabait ka talaga.

Kiks said...

i can only close my lips and read in awe.