Marcos’ burial: A funeral oration
BORACAY—Police last Saturday found the body of a 52-year-old British-Filipino backpacker who died mysteriously in a rented hut. Manuscripts of unfinished plays were found around Brian Wagstaff, who claimed he was a remote descendant of William Shakespeare. He was visiting his late part-Filipina mother’s ancestral homeland for the first time. Police toxicologists are still determining the cause of death, but found that Wagstaff was addicted to cheap and readily available fresh mango shake.
According to Wagstaffs diary, he spent his life trying to live up to his purported ancestor’s literary legacy. Success, however, eluded him completely. One critic described his work as “truly awful and highly unoriginal.”
Authorities found an unfinished manuscript of Wagstaff’s last attempt at a play, apparently modeled after Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” but inspired by Philippine politics. Below is an excerpt:
By Sir Brian Wagstaff
Act 3. Scene II:
Oration of Mark Antony (No relation to Jennifer Lopez)
[A hubbub at the Forum; hisses and curses all around.]
[Antony: Angrily ascends the dais]
Fiends, morons, countrymen! Spare me your jeers!
I come to bury Marcus, not to raise him;
You voice stiff objection to a laureled plot for his repose;
While his kin conserves his pallid flesh in chilled enclosure,
Squand’ring precious lucre in billed ‘lectricity,
Raising carbon footprint that chokes the atmosphere,
As worms wriggle hungrily in the loam.
Though his icy form, gelatoed, frosty, yea, like pops’cle,
Awakens in us disgust, not vengeful felicity,
You deign not lay him in HEROES’ ground, you raise alarum,
That his war medals be sham, his encomiums colorum.
[Fishwife] And so they are! You take us for fools, Sire?
[Merchant] Et tu, Sir Antony? You think we’re insane?]
Nay. Unreason hath not conquered your gourds;
I can bear the slings and arrows of outrageous comments,
Yet heed my two denari’s worth, o angry vassals:
Yea verily, war fakery isn’t the half of Marcus’s misdeeds!
For his false trophies pale before his real crimes;
Widows and orphans still weep in the realm;
Hunted youths and peons were broken by his cruel rack;
He pilfered riches from the publick wherewithal, and how!
No hero—a heel indeed was he, alack, a Narcissus too!
I am here to join the grave ado about his last deposit.
[All] Hail Antony! Hail!
In truth, many loved Marcus once, not without cause.
He was their Julius, their would-be god, their Caesar
Yea, the very one who now lies in that freezer;
But weep not with those who gained from his beneficence:
Kinsmen of dialect, bloated generals in Corinthian palaces;
Courtiers, courtesans that ‘round him once caroused;
Grimy folk and prim believers that his magick still beguiles;
Power venders in parliament and hacks in broadsheet offices,
Prate they and whine as one shameless legion for forgetting;
While his jeweled Calpurnia sings like Ophelia of another play,
Their offspring preen and swagger, beyond regretting;
Mawkishly they mumble “reconciliation” without retribution!
[Beggar: Here! Here! ]
[Wench: Hang them!]
The evil that men do lives after them;
Their goods are oft interred in Swiss vaults, not with their bones;
So let it be with Marcus. We’ll get the combinations in due time;
But today, furrow your brows to plot with inspired design,
Where art the best grounds for his lupused remains;
Bury him not at sea like bin Laden—he might float again,
For Benignus said Marcus was amphibious (or was it “ambitious”?)
Under leave of honourable Benignus, veto such wishes,
Insult not Mafia bosses sleeping with the fishes.
Neither debtors nor lenders be in imagination, hark!
Shall it be cremation? A columbarium? Or memorial park?
Taxidermy? Methinks nay, yuck, fie on gross mementos!
Grind him into Soylent Green, as frozen dinner for brutish beasts?
Wot! Afflict poor zoo animals with indigestion or the runs? Nay.
But never must Marcus savor sweet repose among the valiant;
Bury him yea in a lone prairie, where deer and antelope play,
Whence an unknown flying object might whisk him while we snore,
To a galaxy far, far away, where no man hath gone before.
And why seek willfully unhallowed ground,
For this frigid titan who once lorded upon our hills?
If the world’s a stage, and men and women are merely players,
Why cavil? ‘tis asked; is not a grave but rubbish pit for artless flesh?
Ah, but love and honor we bestow upon some dumps, and justly so;
For we believe the love you take is equal to the love you make;
Come I to speak in Marcus’s funeral I shall demand this act:
Let us honor not knavery, thievery, and circuses of ostentation;
When that the poor have cried, Marcus hath not wept;
So make his carcass rest where weep only his kin and kind!
[Commoners: Yea! (Applause)]
Let him freeze ever like tundra, or host maggots in family plot,
But spare our fallen warriors from his unworthy presence!
Recalling his victims, do we not grieve? Grieving, do we not bleed?
Alas, our memories and bond must not be shaken, but stirred.
And when somewhere else Marcus is interred or entombed,
Wrap him not in fragrant unguents and mummy’s raiment;
Or he’ll come alive to haunt us in movies dark, in 3D-vision;
Instead, seek with stealth and in daylight his sleeping pall;
Then drive a sharp stake into his heart, pierce that blackest part!
So only Jesus may rise again from death and save us all.
[All: Hail! Amen!]
But what rude tidings now come from Far Australia?
Where Saxon convicts reign among the platypuses,
That Marcus left a child and riches to a fair mistress there;
After he Beamed a golden Dove in the Palace,
And flew the friendly skies with many a stewardess,
That swagman also came a-waltzing Matilda by the billabong!
Crocodile Dundee! Is there no end to our trail of grievances
[Mango-stained manuscript abruptly, and mercifully, ends.—Editor]