“La Lupa”

Sidro's garden-2Giovanni Verga was a man with class— he belonged to the landed gentry— but wrote about the common, the low, and the mundane, in a writing style noted for its terse accuracy and intense passion. Called verismo, realism, it became the pattern for the later Neo-Realism school of thought among writers.

Yesterday one preacher saw that realism, one fit for the opera, a stage drama. Could be a Palanca winner of a short story. “La Lupa” in Giovanni Verga’s story means she wolf; it is a vignette of one Sicilian life, of the intense mundane passion of that life. Find that story and enjoy reading. In the mountains of Cebu above the village of Bonbon, “La Lupa” is a woman who owns a small chalet on top of a hill, who with her drinking husband also tills three plots of flower farms hugging the hill. Her husband had once attended the preacher’s Bible teaching sessions, albeit with his beer mug or a bottle of Vino Kulafu, but “La Lupa” never came in spite of the invitations. Later her husband also stopped coming: The preacher’s preaching stood in the way of him and his beer mug.

“La Lupa” is a weary soul but she never gets tired of acquiring things. Their house is a pantheon of modern gadgets, which their two kids enjoy using, but the couple, “La Lupa” and her husband, don’t. “La Lupa” goes back to her wandering when opportunity permits, her husband back to his wine.

Early last year they got religion of sorts, the kind born in America and exported to this country. In exchange of the promised capital to finance their flower farms, “La Lupa” and her husband allowed the sect to build a small meeting house beside their chalet on top of the hill. Funds from the sect flowed freely, and attracted the ones whom the preacher’s gospel could not, for their visions of a better world are confined within the four corners of their flower plots, while the preacher keeps teaching his congregants to aim high for the promised better world up there.

Late last year they had a bumper crop of Malaysian mumps and other flowers, and because the best price could be had in the Metropolis, the husband shipped their flowers to Manila, rented a stall in the Dapitan area near the Dangwa Tranco terminal.

“La Lupa” hired people to help harvest the flowers, and shipped these to Manila. One young man, whom the preacher had taught the gospel, “La Lupa” had given particular attention to. After the others had gone, this young man stayed, and had dinner with “La Lupa” and her two young girls, eighteen and twenty years old.

At three o’clock in the morning, the gust of cold November winds blowing along the rafters of the unceilinged home, the young man woke up from sleep and fumbled for his jacket and found “La Lupa” sleeping beside him. The young man said he quickly picked up his jacket, as “La Lupa” was calling out softly to him, and rushed to his home which is not so far away. No word was said to the neighbors or to his mother. But he did not come back to work on his pile of flowers. “La Lupa” handed him his pay. No word was said. They must have had a silent agreement that nothing should ever be said.

The husband came back from Manila, his wallets full, and his religion and drinking resumed as usual. But “La Lupa” never returned to the house church beside their house.

“She blames the Bible for all her troubles,” says a Christian lady, member of the Lord’s church. “Actually that is far from the truth. They have been having troubles even before they got that religion.”

This is one instance you could say the Bible becomes the mirror that reflects what “La Lupa” is and what she has been. It tells her she has fallen short of His glory. But the Bible could lead her back to Him and help her regain that glory. In that sect she now has joined, the Word no longer finds meaning in her heart, or her heart refuses to find meaning in the Word. Leaving that sect is her choice. And she did. And her wanderings became a custom, a habit.

“La Lupa” and her wanderings at twilight time was the  topic of village conversations, in the privacy of homes scattered on the hillsides, among young men seated on their motorcycles waiting for passengers to ferry down to the city. Young men like these who had heard and seen spoke like real harbingers of bad news, albeit done in hushed voices.

And the couple would argue into the night, their loud rantings at each other diminished only by the complaints of neighbors who sent one honored man in the village to talk to them and help patch up their trouble. It was one trouble that refused to be patched up.

For three evenings last week, the husband had been hiding behind the tall bushes in front of the small hut in the deep forest. Last Friday night, the opportunity came and he caught them.

“La Lupa.” The adulteress. We are reminded of what Paul says in 1 Corinthians, about the kind of adultery that is not even common among the Gentiles (1 Corinthians 5:1-2). And this kind of adultery is not even common among the people in this mountain village. For “La Lupa” is a forty-year old she wolf who swallowed a prey twice her age, and he was her nephew!

Last Saturday “La Lupa” and her husband came before the village chief to vent their last bursts of anger at each other, and agreed to separate, she never to come again to the dwelling place that had been her home for twenty years.

The preacher saw the husband yesterday on his way out, sitting under the cherry tree. The preacher waved at him. The husband of “La Lupa,” husband no more, in the parlance of the villagers, did not smile but only nodded.

The lesson from 1 Corinthians 5:1ff brings reality home to the Christians in this mountain village. God really means business when it comes to sin. Anyone whose sins have been washed away by His blood shed on Calvary’s cross is also justified by that blood and is married to Him who shed His blood for him. And faithfulness to Him who died for you is analogous to faithfulness to one’s human vows.

Paul advises the removal of sinning man from the fellowship of the saints. “La Lupa” was removed from both bed and board.

For circumstances like La Lupa’s the young men blame the coldness of the mountain weather. The preacher thinks it should be blamed on the lack of Bible teaching if not plain human stupidity.

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