detail from Labels for Hair Ribbons by Manuel Ocampo a delectable selection of oriental appetizers
Sunday, September 22, 2002


: . A Wake for a Queen:

from Cunanan's Wake by Gina Apostol:
    In Milan, the Versace family had held a funeral filled with dark Italian veils, a high mass with Elton John. The society pages of Manila's newspapers ran the photos as if it were the death of one of their own, Milan merely the capital's anagram, and Italy a province along Pantranco South. The expanded territory claimed by the papers had grown as Filipino immigration became bolder and more versatile: fishermen in Penang, cabin crews in the Caribbean, nurses in Denmark, translators in China, busboys in Brussels, telemarketers in Texas, housekeepers in Hollywood, phone technicians in Indonesia, basketball players in Dharan. Even Italy was full of Filipinos dusting the Murano treasures of the rich. No wonder we felt the world was our home and Versace's abattoir our boudoir. Filipinos were everywhere: in the bedrooms, the privies, the boiler rooms, the cocktail parties, the kitchens, the bowers, the staterooms, and the sewers of the idle rich. We could swallow the world.
    Thus, the newsmen in Manila should have scorned the festivities in Milan, to reflect the jaundiced eye, for instance, of an expatriate cook in a Roman home who can concoct all kinds of ravioli in her sleep but who dreams of adobo, who picks up Italian slang without a sweat but longs only for her humid home. Instead, there were articles about the funeral songs, the celebrities, and their exotic fashions. And then, later on, when they heard about the village of San D_ -- six ramps and a dust road off of the Southern Luzon Expressway -- all they could muster was ridicule and cartoons. A wake for Versace's killer? The Township of Stupid: that was us.

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