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The Visit

by Jon Melegrito

A man stopped by a downtown hotel called The Fairfax the other day. He was an 11-year-old boy when another man called The Dictator suspended the writ of Habeas Corpus in a country 7,000 miles away. He jailed all the students from the First Quarter Storm and arrested all his enemies, including the boy’s father who was later assassinated. Outraged by the heinous act, the people revolted, armed only with rosaries and blessed by a Cardinal called Sin.

Soon after, the boy, now a young man, saw his widowed mother rise to power in a peaceful revolution that’s been mostly forgotten. Sudden death and martyrdom combined to spur a grieving nation to finally seek deliverance from the cursed years of persecution, turning a modest housewife into a symbol of national unification. There was promise of democracy and freedom, of better days to come.

Before long, however, things were back to business as usual, with traditional politicians riding herd over those who dared to seek reform. The widowed mother, now President, was constantly insulted by testosterone-driven forces led by men who once embraced the Dictator, only to abandon him like rats in a sinking ship. But this ordinary woman in a yellow dress never had a chance against the armed men in fatigues who staged not one but many coups. After leaving the Palace, her son, now 32, watched two other men and one woman hold the reins of power in a country that has yet to see better times.

The man who stopped by The Fairfax the other day eventually became President himself when a grieving nation, moved by his mother’s death, convinced the son to succeed the evil woman  herself the daughter of a President. Stricken by sorrow, the people wanted someone pure in heart, much like his honest and saintly mother, to restore their faith and uplift their spirit. Never mind that he didn’t do much while in the Senate.

And so it was that the death of a beloved symbol  much like the death of her own husband  has spurred a grieving nation to seek deliverance yet again, this time from the cursed years of corruption, turning a shy, soft-spoken 50-year-old man into a symbol of reformation.

This man spoke to community leaders who were once immigrants but now American citizens. Their families had left the homeland, not because they wanted to but because they had to. The President noted that much. He wants to stop departures for distant shores for the wrong reasons by promising a better life: less corruption, less unemployment and less interference from a place once blessed by a Cardinal called Sin. He is eager to restore power to the people and regain the glory days of old. Sure, he loves fast cars and women but we will look the other way if he succeeds in moving the country forward.

The man who stopped by The Fairfax the other day stirred nearly 40 years of memories. It was, after all, the anniversary of that same day in September thirty nine years ago when the man also called The Murderer seized power in a country thousands of miles away, driving hundreds of thousands to distant shores, dividing overseas communities and splitting families into loyalists and dissidents, into friend or foe. We remained divided until the widowed mother in a yellow dress brought us together again.

And now there are whispers of another “revolution.” No less than the son of The Murderer, we’re told, may someday succeed the son of The Martyr, this only son who came to visit on the 2lst day of September, the same day 39 years ago when the fate and faith of both their fathers changed the course of history in a country that’s still struggling to be free.

And so we wonder as many more wander to distant shores: what was it really that changed after all these years?

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