I tell her do Rodin’s The Thinker.
She rejects it, saying it’s too “common.”
Do it differently, then. Make the thinker sit in the john, instead of stone.
She still doesn’t buy it.
You know what, I say, exasperated, Do something irreverent. Debase something sacred.
Her face lights up. “You mean, Jesus Christ?”
I shake my head. “Too risky. Try something local and safe. Somebody like Lapu-lapu.”
Sitting in the toilet? Doesn’t make sense to me.
Then try somebody a bit more modern. Somebody like… Rizal.
Aw come on, are you serious?
I sigh, like I have never sighed before.
I tell her that in my life, I’ve only done two kinds of figures: dinosaurs and a naked woman sitting on stone. In my “really lazy” moments, I’d usually opt to do the female figure; it doesn’t take much inspiration to make one, anyway. I can do a nude with my eyes closed and while wiping my drool. In highschool, I did a papier-mache by shredding old issues of Manila Bulletin, mashing it up with starch paste. I did it twice because the first time I completed one, I woke up in the morning and found a swarm of red ants feasting on my masterpiece; the little fuckers were eating the starch in my obra. The second time, I crammed the whole piece (it was a prehistoric valley where dinosaurs—three triceratops and a tyrannosaurus rex—roamed beside a “volcano” that was only as tall as the animals. I tried positioning the two triceratops in the act of copulation, but thank God I received last-minute wisdom and didn’t go with it) in the freezer to protect it. When I submitted it to the teacher that afternoon, she was so strangely “excited” that she asked me if she could keep it. Too eager to please, I said yes, sure, absolutely; I didn’t tell her that by tomorrow, those goddamn ants would reduce the dinosaurs into shapeless carcass.
I tell my sister, Make Jose Rizal sit in the toilet, then tell your professor it’s Rizal’s final night and that’s supposed to be his last time to take a dump. That’s why Rizal is thinking too hard.
I tell her, “Rizal probably thought of writing “Mi Ultimo Adios” while he’s shitting. I usually get most of my ideas that way. So maybe he took the same road.”
My sister still isn’t buying it. “But didn’t they use latrine?”
It doesn’t matter, I say. It’s actually brilliant.
How do I make it look like Rizal?
Do the hair, baby. People recognize Rizal by his hairstyle. Part it in the middle, make it a little wavy. And don’t forget the jawline.
And I add, “Maybe you should give it a dramatic name.”
I think for a moment, then offer the name before she can say anything. I tell her, Call it Mi Ultimo Echas.
She grimaces. She says, Corny, corny, corny.
I shrug. I tell her that in other countries, people oust a government with this kind of subversion.
This kind of idea, I tell her, wins a Clio Award in other countries.
But we’re not “in other countries,” she says. And it’s corny.
I say nothing; I just grin. I’m thinking of more evil things, but sometimes you should know when to stop. But when she does decide to use it, should I stop her? When her resistance crumbles and she begins molding it in her hands, should I admit, finally, that it’s cruel, that it’s probably in bad taste?
Nah. Maybe I’ll think about it.
For similar posts, see Sacred Cows 2.0.