THE MOVING FINGER WRITES
Love Letters of Cecilia Lichauco and Larry Henares
(1945 to 1949)
“The Moving finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.”
— The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
P R E F A C E
World War II had just ended. Everywhere in the world, adjustments and readjustments shook the foundation of nations and peoples. This was the time of rehabilitation, reconstruction and political independence of the Philippines; of Roxas and his parity bill; of shootings and surplus scandals. This was Truman’s years in the United States, this was the time of economic reconversion, of steel and coal strikes, of hysterical demand for cars, refrigerators and radios; of the birth of television, streptomycin, and the long-playing record. In Europe, the United States reacted with the Marshall Plan to the dangers of Communism, this was the time of the Truman Doctrine in Greece, the Berlin Airlift, an the austerity program of Britain. In Asia the Communist s were starting to overrun China, the Indonesians rose up against the Dutch, the Vietnamese the French.
The tides of history rose and fell, mounted and shifted, and the world labored under the birthpains of the atomic era.
These years stretched from 1945 to 1949.
Against the background of world-shaking events, men still lived and died. They shaved, voted, paid taxes, subscribed to magazines and wrote love letters. Here and there, a man might compose a poem, hang himself, kiss his wife unasked, become a priest or gave his money to the search for a microbe.
In the pages to follow, the reader will come upon such ordinary human beings. Here are fragments of a million stories – of Rene and his complexes; of Kiki and his erotic adventures; of the old woman in Apartment 4-A; of the girl who pressed a bloodstained finger on windblown sail; of Luisa who re-enacted the miracle of Fatima; of Billy who loved Pit; of Ditas who was stricken with polio; of the career-girl Helen; of Mother Keeler, Trixie, Rita Koller, Jody, Jack and other plain ordinary people who lived and laughed, loved under God’s sun and stars.
This is also the story of two people in love. The story, as told in their letters here, is not complete because it has no beginning and no end.
The beginning started August 23, 1945, at 63 Protacio, Rizal City, and Philippines.
It was Neno Abreu who told Larry Henares about Cecilia Lichauco, her charm and sweetness and goodness; who talked about the whine of the Jap sniper’s bullet as it tore through Cecilia’s leg; who described the courage with which she fought for her life in the Sto. Tomas hospital. It was this Neno who took Larry along this day to Rizal City when he went to greet Cecilia’s sister, Lui, on her birthday.
It was Nena Abreu who told Cecilia about the songs Larry composed, his friendship with Neno and his penchant for practical jokes. It was this Nena who introduced Larry to Cecilia on August 23, 1945 at Lui’s birthday party.
A few weeks later, Larry packed up his bags and departed for the United States to resume studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Half a year passed and Cecilia also left to get medical treatment for her leg at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
On May 15, 1946, Larry and Cecilia met again in the South Station of Boston.
Larry made it a practice to visit Cecilia at the hospital between brain-wracking exams at M. I. T. Their friendship grew with every visit.. and thereby hangs the . . . .
They began a correspondence that lasted four years and spanned the continent. It is a pity that those letters recorded only moments when they were apart. Letters were written on vacation trips to Washington and New York – but never about those precious winter afternoons in Newtonville and autumn days at West Newton. When Cecilia went to study in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts, and Hooksett, New Hampshire, she wrote frequently of college life – but no records chronicled the delightful weekends she spent with Larry in Boston; the excursions to Blue Hills, Norumbega Park, Revere Beach, Esplanade and Franklin Park; restful evenings cooking meals, and baby-sitting at Edna’s apartment in Egmont Street.
Then Cecilia went to San Francisco and letters assumed voluminous proportions, both in frequency and content – but nowhere do we find mention of Larry’s trip to the West, and the beautiful ten days in Frisco before he left for the Philippines. But oh, what memories haunt Twin Peaks, Ocean Beach, Claremont Hotel and 24th Avenue!
Four months later, Cecilia enplaned for the Philippines to join Larry, and the letters stopped. Who can ever describe the romantic moment when Cecilia stepped down the plane into Larry’s arms? Who can ever report the dizzy round of bienvenida parties that welcomed Cecilia; those exciting moments at La Concha, Riviera, Majestic Towers and the Luneta; romantic moments at the Sinagoga Apartments with a girl name “Audience”; feverish days attending a dozen bridal showers, fitting the wedding gown, selecting a car, preparing the invitations, getting the license, finding a house, decorating the church….
The ending of the story came on August 23, 1949 – exactly four years later – in the church of Our Lady of Sorrows at seven o’clock in the morning.
The ending, did I say? It is the beginning of another story…..