Sunday, November 30, 2014

Day Ten on IWTV: Babette

I wonder if Babette Freniere, and not Gabrielle de Lioncourt, is Anne Rice's first true feminist character. At the death of her brother, and under the altruistic guidance of Louis (a vampire being altruistic and humanist, can you believe?) she was able to pick up the reins of her life and take care of her family.

I also want to point out the effect of the prose on me. So far we have Louis encountering Lestat, and all that Lestat encountered ended up dead. But now we have a human being much like ourselves, with very human concerns like economy and money and the safety of their family members. Now, we have the course of the life of this family of Frenieres, especially Babette's, drastically changed by Lestat and Louis. Their intervention or influence on their lives, vampire affecting human life other than resulting in death, sorts of blurs the lines of reality and strengthens the suspension of disbelief. Think about it. The activities of these vampires (mythic creatures) had an actual imprint on the lives of Babette. This brings the vampires closer to actual reality in this world of fiction, and I wonder how many people can get uncomfortable with that.

Now I want to say that I have a sort of bad history with firsts. And I do not mean first love or first sexual experience. I mean by way of my education. Let me do this in bullet points. My embarassing firsts.

My first grade in elementary school, during the first few weeks, I never could find where the boys' restroom was, which was like on the other side of the building where our classroom was located. So I falsely believed that the only restroom available for first graders were the one for girls, and naturally I wouldn't dream of going into that room! So, on more than one occasion, when I couldn't keep it in anymore, I peed in my shorts. It was embarrassing. Very embarrassing. My parents thought I was incontinent. The truth is I just needed to be shown where to go, which nobody thought to do not until after my embarrassing incidents. By second grade I was awarded first honors in class.

My first year in high school, I was sorta kinda cocky. But that was the first time in my life, too, that I would incur actual red marks on my card. I couldn't understand Algebra. I couldn't understand the subjects taught in Filipino, which were Filipino, Ibong Adarna, Araling Panlipunan. I couldn't get them. Couldn't get the Filipino. I also flunked, heavily, my Homes Economics class. By second year, I was always top of the class, especially in English.

My first year in college was in the University of Santo Tomas. I was having difficulty with the way things were taught there, and I felt there wasn't enough oxygen. The teachers were too strict for my free spirit, and though that was when I first encountered my love for theater, I failed and dropped out of school.

My second attempt at education was at AMA Computer College, but the money ran out. And my Dad has lost patience in supporting me, so that didn't work out.

Third attempt at college education: I was first year in ABE Business College. I was supporting myself by doing lots of theatre work on the side. Then one day, just before I needed to pay tuition, a classmate stole my money. My heart sank, and I began to believe that college and Rico do not mix together.

Fourth attempt at college education: Polytechnic University of the Philippines. And though I was pretty smart, I did have some intellect, PUP would only allow me to enrol in a vocational course called electronics, which I had no heart for. I didn't want to be an electronics repairman. After a year, I found out about the theater program in the University of the Philippines, and with daring and gumption, I auditioned, got accepted into the program, and there I was.

First year in the University of the Philippines, Diliman, which by that time I should have been finished with college education already, I was having so much difficulty keeping up. But I loved my stay in UP. I was supporting myself heavily because my Dad sent me limited money with his thinning patience at my constant failed attempts at education and his unhidden disapproval of my course of choice. I didn't make it past second semester, where, money running out and all odds against me, I stopped going to school altogether. What happened then? My sister became pregnant with her first child, and I felt strongly obligated to take care of her baby so she could finish school.

I tried to be a scholar in the next year at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, under Tanghalang Pilipino's Actors Company program. I failed the audition but was allowed to attend the classes anyway. That was when I totally ran out of money and savings. Dad has had enough of my doing theater, and I needed to find employment as an undergrad if I wanted to pursue my theater career. And working graveyard shift at call centres and having to attend theatre classes and rehearsals took its toll on my health, and I sunk.

So, I had a difficult career life. So yes, while it is easy for me to say now that no one really guided and supported me the way I realize now I wished I had been, it would not be beneficial to myself or to anyone actually to point blame. I do know that this poor scholastic record haunts me and shames me each time I try to apply for work, or even audition. I feel odd-one-out. That even though I have some plays in my resume, and good ones, too, that I would never really be good enough or skilled enough because I lacked the experience of college graduation.

Why all this talk about my past? Because if I had a Louis back then to whisper to me as he did to Babette what to do, to have watched over me somehow, maybe I wouldn't have been so lost or felt so alone. What was it that Louis always advised Babette from the shadows? Defy them with purity and confidence. Above all, perfect confidence. 

I wish I had that wisdom that I could have done that at that point in my life. Hey, maybe it's never too late to learn it?

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