Story by: Loreto Paras-sulit
Play by: Alberto S. Florentino
Characters: Narrator; Laarni; Maharlika (a freeman);Datu Maginoo (Laarni’s Father);Li Ho Weng (a Chinese Mandarin)
NARRATOR: When our country was divided into barangays and ruled by datus, no one was more fierce and more powerful than Datu Maginoo. He had an only daughter, Princess Laarni, who was known for her beauty. Men had asked for her hand in marriage, offering love, youth, land, and titles, but to no avail.
SCENE 1: A RIVER BANK. NOON.
NARRATOR: One warm day Princess Laarni orders her slaves to keep watch while she bathes in the river. Suddenly, a banca comes into view carrying a young man.
LAARNI (covering her face with a fan): Who are you? How dare you – Where are my slaves?
M AHARLIKA (Standing on the boat): Princess Laarni, I am a maharlika – a freeman. I was named Maharlika. But don’t worry, dear Princess, I mean you no harm. LAARNI: Oh, you know who I am? You, a nobody, dare to transgress our laws and customs?
M AHARLIKA: I am a freeman, a noble in my own way. I have a heart so I dare love – even a princess. I have a tongue so I dare to speak out my love.
NARRATOR: Laarni is now called to the palace by her fatherbecause Li Ho Weng, a Chinese suitor, has come with his fleet of junks to ask for her hand for the fourth time. Laarni tells Maharlika of this. He then vows to come twice and take her for his bride.
SCENE 2: DATU’S PALACE. SOON AFTER.
NARRATOR: Maharlika comes to the palace.
M AHARLIKA (bowing): My name is Maharlika. Our datu, Rajah Bayani, and I bring you greetings and best wishes. M AGINOO: What business brings you here?
M AHARLIKA: My datu, Rajah Bayani, sends me to ask for the hand of your daughter, Princess Laarni, in marriage for him. LAARNI: You ask for my hand in marriage for your datu? Yet you said a moment ago –
M AHARLIKA: - that I want the princess myself. Both are true. But duty tells me that I must make known my true mission here even at my own expense.
M AGINOO (irked): It is obvious that you have met before.
M AHARLIKA: I had the rare honor of meeting your beautiful daughter earlier. M AGINOO: What? You man, don’t you know that by so doing you have offended my daughter, my family and my people? M AHARLIKA (bowing): If I have, then I ask for forgiveness. M AGINOO: My dear daughter, you never told me of this infraction. I could have dealt with him. LAARNI: I . . . I forgot, Father. As he did me no real harm, may he not go unpunished this time?
M AGINOO: You’ve grown soft of heart, my dear – well, your wishes shall be heeded. NARRATOR: A slave hands a scroll to Datu Maginoo.
M AGINOO (reading the scroll): It’s an invitation for Princess Laarni to have tea with Li Ho Weng in his boat. LAARNI: But, I do not wish to visit him. Why can’t he come down from his ship? But on second thought, why not? I have never entered his boat. Father, I shall go.
SCENE 3: LI HO WENG’S BOAT. AFTERNOON.
NARRATOR: Laarni is enjoying Li Ho Weng’s display of goods. LAARNI (sees a robe with a pagoda embroidered on it): Oh, how smooth and soft!
LI HO WENG: Would you like to dwell in such a pagoda? Be my wife. LAARNI (shakes her head and turns): It is late. I must go.
LI HO WENG: No, don’t go. It’s still early. There are more things below deck that you should not miss. (stands in her way) I can’t let you go yet . .. not yet . . . LAARNI: I have seen enough. I must go. Please let me pass . . . LI HO WENG (in a stern voice):I have been waiting for you since my fleet dropped anchor. Now that you are here, shall I be a fool to let you go? LAARNI: AT the flick of a hand, my father can send a thousand warriors against you.
LI HO WENG: I have come well prepared. These ships aren’t loaded with goods but with weapons and warriors.
Narrator: There is a commotion.... Two Chinese warriors come dragging a wet, struggling Maharlika.
LI HO WENG (fiercely): Who is this intruder?
M AHARLIKA: I am Maharlika. I came to...