Comedy Relief: “Squalid & Squalor,” 1993

“You have to see this house…  It has interesting handpaintings on the walls.”  Jo Panlilio declared as we stood — exactly like the “Peanuts” characters Charlie Brown, Schroeder, Linus, Lucy, and Sally — outside another old and crumbling Vigan ancestral house.

“Jo naman!  Ano kaya makikita natin diyan?  Eeehhh…”    I complained, my nose twitching in irritation.  Worse, the house smelled, even from the outside.

“Might as well go.  You never know what we will see…”  suggested Erick Agbayani.

“Baka may mga ‘santo’ sa loob…”  Tom Joven thought aloud.

“Yes, for research…”  Sandy Castro agreed.

And so we entered…

It was… “something else.”  For starters, there was a perpetual 12-inch flood inside the “zaguan” ground floor, so we made our way to the “escalera principal” grand staircase by walking over inverted soft drink cases weighed down with stones.  The fear of “dengue” or “H-fever” hemorrhagic fever, or worse, “malaria,” was enough to send shivers up our spines, that was, except for Jo Panlilio, whose unquenchable passion for antiques made him brave the most awkward and the most difficult of situations.

The “piano nobile” second floor was, for lack of a better word, squalid.

With the sheer elegance of Eleanor Parker as the “Baroness Schrader” in “The Sound of Music,”  Jo Panlilio politely introduced the group to the befuddled chatelaine of the residence, la Madame.  A gaggle of young, clueless people from Manila who want to see an Old Vigan house, fine.  After the required protocols, la Madame proceeded to show us around her very interesting habitation.

Oddly enough, the rooms had signs designating this and that;  over once-elegant double doors of costly hardwoods hung signs like “Amaryllis Room,”  “Violet Room, “Tulip Room,” etc..  When, upon our insistence and curiosity, la Madame ventured to show us one of the rooms, she casually flung open the “Amaryllis Room,” and it was a sight for our “innocent” eyes…  The naked tenant of the room was a well-built twentysomething man who was thoroughly enjoying his Saturday morning, abusing himself, with a pile of local pornographic magazines.  The moment he realized he had a willing audience and his private thrill lost, he hurriedly excused himself.   😛   😛   😛

Whoa, if that wasn’t a mise-en-scene, then I didn’t know what was…

Jo Panlilio and Erick Agbayani forthwith “christened” her as “Madame Squalid & Squalor”…

The very next day, we attended the 8:00 a.m. Sunday Holy Mass at the Vigan Cathedral [ Saint Paul the Apostle Church ].  We were all seated and waiting impatiently for the Mass in Ilocano to start, of which we surely wouldn’t understand anything, with our eyes darting from up to down and left to right taking in the elegant interiors and details of the antique structure.

When lo and behold, Madame Squalid & Squalor appeared, impeccably groomed this time, wearing an immaculate white dress, and accompanied by two white-uniformed maids, one ceremoniously carrying a small lace pillow for the kneeler and the other ceremoniously carrying a vase with a fresh flower.  Her elegant appearance and dignified demeanor was rather like the Croesus-rich Regina Beaufort making her entrance at the annual Opera Ball in New York in the Edith Wharton-based and Martin Scorsese directed movie “The Age of Innocence.”  Hahahah…

“Ay, si Squalid & Squalor!!!”  shrieked Erick Agbayani, gesturing towards la Madame.

“Ay, siya nga.”  agreed Sandy Castro.

“Bakit siya mukhang tao ngayon?”

“Ikaw naman.  Naligo naman ah, obvious ba?”

With the great dignity of a born royal, Madame Squalid & Squalor proceeded up the main aisle to take her accustomed seat in the front pew.  She “beso-beso” exchanged air kisses with her patrician peers.

APPEARANCES.  They’re Everything!!!

Harharhar!!!   😛   😛   😛



  1. December 15, 2009 at 7:50 am

    it is very funny. it is also a sad reminder that people would always show a false front.

  2. December 15, 2009 at 1:51 am

    Hi Adjie!

    That house had to be the absolute antithesis of your lovely ancestral house!!!

    Toto G.

  3. Adjie Lizares said,

    December 15, 2009 at 1:09 am

    Toto! This has to be the funniest story I have ever come across with- in the terms of peeking into ancestral homes of the Philippines! I had to LOL on the floor rolling! Keep up the great work!!!

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