Monday, December 7, 2009

Oli Impan by Alberto S. Florentino

After the liberation of Manila, hundreds of indigent families settled in the squalid, cramped space of the bombed ruins of an old government building of Juan Luna. For more than a decade these “squatters” tenaciously refused to move out in spite of court rulings. The “casbah”, as the compound was popularly known, became a breeding place for vice and corruption. The city government was able to evict the “squatters” only on December 20, 1958 – five days before Christmas.
(On the middle of the stage, extending from side to side, is a stone wall one and a half feet high. At left may be seen a portion of a tall edifice. At right, is a portion of the “casbah”. Beyond the stone wall, an estero (unseen) – and the sky. A five-year-old girl sits on the stone wall, her thin legs dangling in the air. Offstage there is a continuous commotion of evacuation. A woman’s voice rises above the commotion as she reprimands a child for getting in her way. A six-year-old boy appears on stage walking backwards – away from his mother, nagging offstage. The mother quiets down. The boy turns around and plays with his toy: an empty milk can pulled along the ground with a piece of string.)
Girl: Is there a fire?
Boy: (Stops playing and faces her) Huh?
Girl: I said, is there a fire?
Boy: There is no fire. (Continues to play)
Girl: (Looks toward the street. After a pause.) I think there is no fire.
Boy: (Stops playing_ I told you there’s none.
Girl: There is.
Boy: How do you know? Do you see any smoke? Do you hear any fireman? (resumes his play. Runs around imitating a fire engine) EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I like it when there is a big fire!
Girl: (Worried) If there is no fire, why are they putting these things out? (pints to a pile of household belongings nearby)
Boy: Because we are being thrown out.
Girl: Who told you?
Boy: My mother.
Girl: Who is throwing us out?
Boy: (Sits on the other end of the stone wall) The government.
Girl: What is a government?
Boy: I don’t know.
Girl: You didn’t ask your mother?
Boy: I forgot to ask her.
Girl: Why should the government throw us out?
Boy: (Points to the compound) Because it owns this.
Girl: (Enraged) But this is ours!
Boy: No, it is not ours.
Girl: (Insistent) It is ours! It is!
Boy: It is not!
Girl: (A tiny scream) It is! It is!
Boy: (Loud) How do you know it is ours?
Girl: We’ve always been here, haven’t we?
Boy: Yes, but that doesn’t mean it is ours.
Girl: (After a pause) If they throw us out, we’ll have nowhere to go. How about you? You have any place to go?
Boy: None. But we will have one. (Proudly) My mother has a job.
Girl: She has?
Boy: Yes!
Girl: What does she do?
Boy: She reads hands.
Girl: She reads – hands? (Looking at her hands) Why does she read hands?
Boy: So she can tell what will happen tomorrow.
Girl: She can do that? By reading hands?
Boy: Yes, She can!
Girl: (Showing him her hands) Can she read my hands? I want to know where we will stay tomorrow.
Boy: She can’t read your hands.
Girl: (Looks at them) Why not?
Boy: They are too small… and dirty.
Girl: (She quickly withdraws them and quietly wipes them on her dress)
Boy: Besides… she reads only men’s hands.
Girl: Only men’s hands? Why?
Boy: Because they are big.. and easy to read.
Girl: How does she read hands? Like she reads the comics?
Boy: I don’t know.
Girl: You don’t know? Don’t you watch her?
Boy: My mother won’t let me. She makes me go out and play. And she closes the door.
Girl: She closes the door! How can she read in the dark?
Boy: I don’t know. (Proudly) But she can!
Girl: Don’t you ever peep?
Boy: No, I don’t.
Girl: Why not?
Boy: She’ll beat me up.
(Commotion offstage.)
Girl: What’s that? What’s happening there?
Boy: (Tries to see) I don’t know. I can’t see. (Pulls her) Come out, let’s take a look!
Girl: (Resisting) I can’t.
Boy: Why not?
Girl: My father told me to stay here. He said not to go anywhere.
Boy: (Turning) Then I will go and take a look.
Girl: (Frightened) No, don’t. Stay here. Don’t leave me.
Boy: Why?
Girl: I’m afraid.
Boy: Afraid of what?
Girl: I don’t know.
Boy: But how can we find out what’s happening?
Girl: Let’s not find out anymore.
Boy: (Restless) But I want to see. (Scampers up the stone wall) I can see from here!
Girl: What do you see?
Boy: (Incredulous) They are destroying our homes. (Sound of wrecking crew at work)
Girl: (frightened) Who are destroying them?
Boy: The men with hammers!
Girl: Nobody is stopping them?
Boy: Nobody.
Girl: But why? Are there no policemen?
Boy: There are. There are many policemen.
Girl: What are they doing? What are the policemen doing?
Boy: Nothing.
Girl: Nothing? They are not stopping the men?
Boy: No.
Girl: Why not?
Boy: I don’t know.
(Commotion. Shouts. Curses)
Girl: (Alarmed) What’s happening now?
Boy: (excited throughout) A man is trying to stop the men with hammers! Now the policemen are trying to stop him. They’re running after him. But the man fights like a mad dog! (A man shouts, cursing)
Girl: (Suddenly, with terror in her voice). That’s my father! (In her fright she covers her eyes with hands)
Boy: Your father?
Girl: Yes, he’s my father! What are they doing to him? Are they hurting him?
Boy: No, they are only trying to catch him… Now they’ve caught him! They are tying his hands!
Girl: What will they do to him?
Boy: I don’t know. Now they are putting him in a car. A police car.
Girl: (Whimpers) Father… Father…
Boy: They are taking him away! (A car with siren drivers away)
Girl: (Screams) FATHER! FATHER!
Boy: He can’t hear you now.
Girl: (Starts to cry)
Boy: (Walks to and sits beside her) Why are you crying? Don’t cry please…
Girl: They are going to hurt my father, aren’t they?
Boy: No, they won’t hurt him.
Girl: (Removes her hands from her eyes) How do you know?
Boy: I just know it. (Suddenly) Come, let’s sing a song.
Girl: I don’t know how to sing.
Boy: I’ teach you.
Girl: How?
Boy: I’ll sing… and you listen. (She nods and wipes her eyes dry)
Boy: (Sings) Saylenay…
Oli impansotenderenmayle…
Girl: (Smiling) That’s a pretty song. Who taught you that song?
Boy: (Proudly) My mother!
Girl: What does it mean? I can’t understand it.
Boy: It’s about God.
Girl: What’s a “God”?
Boy: I don’t know. I haven’t asked my mother. But she told me God was born in a stable.
Girl: What’s a stable?
Boy: A place for horses.
Girl: (Incredulous) He was born there? In a place for horses? Why?
Boy: My mother said he had nowhere to stay.
Girl: Was he poor?
Boy: I don’t know.
Girl: (Suddenly) I like the song. Will you sing it again?
Boy: No, let’s sing it together.
Girl: I told you, I don’t know how.
Boy: I’ll teach you. I’ll sing it a little… and you sing after me. (She smiles and nods)
Boy: (Sings) Saylenay…
Girl: Saylenay…
Boy: Olinay…
Girl: Olinay…
Boy: Oliskam…
Girl: Oliskam…
Boy: Olisbray…
Girl: Olisbray…
Boy: Ranyonberginmaderenchayle…
Girl: Ranyon…(She giggles) I can’t say that!
Boy: Let’s skip it. (Sings) Oli impan… n, skip that, too. (Sings)
Girl: Slipinebenlipis…
Boy: Slipinebenlipis…
Girl: Slipinebenlipis…


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. The story tells about an innocent girl who thought that the property was owned by them and insisted on staying there. She knows nothing about how to deal with the situation, she just cried and we can imagine that she looks so miserable because she belongs to a poor family and because of the Christmas song rendered by the boy who comforted her, she felt calmed.
    By the story, the girl who understood the situation by the acts made by the boy, his way of explaining things in his own way, would be closer to the boy who solved the problem of her family. And by the explanations of the boy, she will strive hard, so that someday she will no longer be a squatter in anyone's property, but she will have her own property through hard work.
    Very nice story ma'am.

  3. This is a story where the girl thinks everything belongs to her . She don't knoow anything about people or singing. The girl in the story cares and obey's her father. She is worried about her father because the police is taking him.
    This squatter girl is very silent and inactive. She is obedient also.

  4. It was a beautiful story about a boy and girl living in a squatter's area. First we didn't understand the song sung by the boy that was taught by his mother. As we continued our reading, little by little we understood the song. Imagine a boy that was trying hard to sing that song about the birth of our savior Jesus Christ. Even though he didn't know God and he didn't pronounce the lyrics correctly but he knows it was a song for God. Now we knew that it was not "Oli Impan" but "Holy Infant". We are the Group 8 of I-Antlia.... ^^

  5. its a cute story and quite funny...

    because a boy was reaay badly trying hard hust to sing the song that is mother taught him.. he cannot pronounce the words properly..
    it was cute... and teaches perseverance..despite ora midst challenges.
    we are the group 2 of I-Antlia

  6. For our group, AndromeReads, the story Oli Impan, was an inspiring depiction of the present lives of some Filipinos, especially this Yuletide season. People can relate to the story as it tells about the sufferings of squatters.

    The story tells about making others happy. This was observed in the scene where the 5 year old girl knew about her father's arrest and she became lonely. The boy who was with her tried to make her happy by singing Silent Night, though in a child's way of words. The girl did not understand it, yet she became less sad. As the boy told her the meaning, she liked the song even more because she was able to relate her homeless state to God's birth only in a stable. Both of them probably did relate to the story since they kept singing it together.

  7. At first we didn't get what the boy was singing but when we read it in the way Filipinos read, we realized that the boy was singing Silent Night. We saw that the boy was calming the girl down. From what he was doing, we got a characteristic of the boy. He has a joyful life even if he doesn't have money. The girl was very lonely when her father was arrested. But when the boy cheered her up, her mood changed from sad to glad. The story showed how a small song can change loneliness into joy. This story showed the real message and what we should do not only on Christmas but every single day of our lives.

  8. Wow! We are really mesmerized by the story. It just shows how some of the Filipinos currently live their lives especially when Christmas is coming. Most of us Filipinos, can relate to the story because of how we simply live our lives. We can be happy even though we are given the simplest of all things.

    Just like the two children in the story, we can easily understand the true essence of being happy. We really think that the story's real message is for us people to not lose hope, we should try to be happy even though we have tons of problems. Because we don't know when is our last time to smile. We should never forget that God is always with us. See, the boy in the story sang a song about God. Singing the song made the auras of the children lighten up.
    It's a very nice story, though quite funny, it gave us a very nice message.

  9. The story tells us the situation of squatters, specifically the boy and the little girl in the story, get into because of them being squatters.
    It tells us that even though people are so poor, it doesn't lay the boundary between a person and God, no matter how primitive maybe their knowings about God at least they know that he is always with them and that he exists.

    In the story,there was a song, that we first thought was in different language but after reading that song over and over again, we finally realized that it was a Christmas song about God. This proves again that no matter how uneducated a person is, it still doesn't become the parameter between him and God. And since the girl is quiet and sad when her father was taken by the police and serious in learning the song, we can conclude that she is determined to be successful someday in her life.

  10. and ohh.. the song they were singing it's SILENT NIGHT

  11. Oh, we forgot, we also think that the children symbolizes the Filipinos. As a matter of fact, Filipinos don't know about all of the things in this world. So, when the boy sang the song in a different way, it meant that it's not really important to be one of those high-class people, what is important is to know the true maning of life.

  12. It's a story which possesses drama (slight) and also comedy.Oli Impan which should be Holy Infant is a story based on reality. One part that depicts reality is the destruction or demolition of houses particularly in squater areas...That kind of act is somehow right because the person who's in charge of that has a main purpose which is good for the sake of their lives (people who lives in that area) but in the other hand its not quite good because it decreases the people's rate of survival in terms of losing their houses. And also in the last part, when the boy sang to cheer the girl in tears. We all know that the English Language is not our national language rather its Tagalog but we should also try to learn the correct pronounciation of the words because when we talk to other people with mispronounced words and instead of praising they would laugh at us and for that we'd be embarrassed deep its never to late for us to learn various things around us. In addition, Oli Impan is a very nice story.

  13. 2nalogies group 2→andromeda← said
    The story is about the people on a village that has nowhere to go after the government throw them out. this also have a relation on what God have experienced when he was a baby. The situation where the squatters are being thrown out by the government has also a relation on how the people treat Joseph and Mary in the town of Bethlehem when they really need a shelter to stay.on the story it is 5 days before Christmas where the government evict the squatters,so these squatters have no place to stay after the incident.And Christmas is coming soon and have no proper place to stay.and the girl's father has been arrested by the police. but after all of those happenings,being happy is always there. the boy sings a song with their "baby talk". the song is "Silent Night" and oli impan is holy night so the title of this story is Holy Night.this song is about God. this song offers a message of beauty, peace and whatever happens there is still happiness whenever they go and celebrate Christmas they still have this message in their hearts.

  14. pwede po ba mag ask ?
    at the opening of the play , whats happening in the squatter's area

  15. i Like this STORY . it is very awesome ! :]

  16. pwde po bng magtanung '
    ~ how did the boy and girl feel'?

  17. pLss. answer this QUESTiON
    ' was the demolition timely?why?

  18. Oli Impan, a depiction of a scene that was never new to us Filipinos. We have been rises in a country were squatters' houses exist, and in which the government often demolish.the television shows this scene so one should not pretend how "chaos" it is during demolition.
    the story oli impan tells about two child who grew up in a squatter's area. the boy was a prostitute's son, and the girl's father was the one leading the squatters. during the commotion the girl's father was caught by the police. this caused the girl to cry.
    the boy want to make the girl stop crying, he said he's going to teach her a song, which was Oli Impan or Holy Infant.
    that song severs as the hope for the both children.
    The Boy and the Girl represents the society to day, specially the children who grew up in the squatter's area.
    the song serves as the hope.
    the government and the police as the hindrance that we may face.
    (i hope i got this right)

  19. Thank you for making Alberto S. Florentino's one-act play, "Oli Impan" accessible to the online generation. The play is so simple, and yet heart-breaking!

  20. where can I find a tagalog/ filipino version of this?