Benito Vergara

Agapito Flores.

In Pinoy on March 31, 2004 at 12:26 am

Didn’t get to work on that ethnic studies porn script — but I did find this:

[The heretofore unpublished fragments below are from the remaining archives, long thought to be lost, of historian Ricardo Tubero; they comprise the only surviving historical work regarding Agapito Flores. It is altogether unfortunate that the middle portions of the manuscript are destroyed, for they presumably cover his productive vocational education, his fateful meeting with President Quezon, and subsequent checkered career. It is undated and unpaged.]

Much rumor and speculation has swirled around the life of the eminent Filipino scientist and inventor Agapito Flores, the unheralded creator of the fluorescent bulb, which has given Light to countless homes and fine establishments. It is nigh time that such unconscionable errors be placed to rest by the swift sword of History, to reduce the tower of Unreason to a pile of smoldering rubble, and to restore Flores to his place as one of the finest scientific engineers the Western and Eastern world has seen.

The facts are these, to wit: Agapito Flores was born in 1898 in the town of Guiguinto, in the province of Bulacan. It was said — now since proven erroneous by the diligent efforts of the Japanese scholar Susumu Kuraba — that he was the offspring of an itinerant mambobote (an buyer of empty bottles) and a seller of bibingka in the Guiguinto Public Market. Nothing could be further from the truth: little Agapito was born the eldest son of Bulacan’s postmaster general, Tiburcio Flores II, and his godfearing spouse Agapita. Surrounded by a dark cloud of mystery — no-one seems to have made the acquaintance of this forbearing mother — she is pictured in the single extant family portrait with an uncommonly haggard visage, tightly clutching a rosary in a wizened hand.

About the early family life of our wunderkind little is known, though there is no doubt that it was a immensely prodigious one, surrounded as Agapito was with nine other siblings, to wit, Consorcio, Demetrio, Eleuterio, Felicidad, Geronimo, Horacia, Inocencio, Jimena, and Tiburcio III. (A younger brother, Benito, perished in an unfortunate kitchen accident involving an egg beater, a gift from a visiting tradesman from Ohio, in the United States; Jimena, the most famed of his siblings, was the winner of amateur singing competitions and famed all over the province for her rendition of “Winter Wonderland.”)

Countless historians and amateur psychologists have speculated on the reasons for Flores’s pursuit of the chymical arts. One academic, whose name will not sully this treatise, has even ventured — in print, even! — that unrequited affection between him and a middle-aged neighbor was responsible for lighting the flame of Inspiration. Such scurrilous items are truly worthy of disdain, for the truth is far more prosaic.

A chance school excursion to the Manila Zoo — chance because such leisure activities were often quite dear, and beyond the fiscal capabilities of any provincial educators — provided young Agapito with the impetus for his life’s work. Gazing into the murky, silty depths of an ill-kept aquarium — the Bureau of Zoology was suffering a reduction of funds as a result of the fiscal panic of 1909 — Agapito was startled to see a fish of the Myctopidae family swim before his field of vision. So taken aback was he, in fact, that he gave out an uncharacteristically effeminate-sounding squeal. The peals of derision from his classmates, whose cruelty your hapless scribe involuntarily remembers with similar agony, rang in young Agapito’s ears, but this was of no consequence to our budding scientist: he was entranced, nay, converted, much as Saul was pierced by Our Lord on the road to Jerusalem. And it was through the light of that piscine angel, like the beacon of Science held aloft by the Muses themselves, that our young Agapito, infinitely blessed by the Lord –

[The rest of the manuscript is missing, presumed destroyed by fire when a water buffalo accidentally kicked over a gas lantern in a barn, which led to the fire that consumed historian Ricardo Tubero's home and library. Below is the only surviving scrap of paper, almost blown away by the wind and lost to the world forever were it not for the perspicaciousness of Tubero's colleagues who searched through the ashes.]

– interviews with Flores’s neighbors in his rooming house in Tondo remember a garrulous but bitter man, regaling his listeners with tales of his Paris days and amorous conquests then, of which I shall spare the listener, lest I be accused of impropriety, though it has also long been speculated that his cantankerous manner, no doubt a result of the gross fraud perpetrated upon him, was exacerbated by a lingering, shall we say, social disease, acquired from unconscionable habitual dalliances with a certain woman of ill-repute in Place Pigalle and other amateur historians have ventured forth with the name of the woman, and her other unusual proclivities besides, suggesting that such mental and physical trauma that Flores suffered directly accounted for his particular genius, but once again, such salacious trifles do not bear repeating, and are not worthy for the gentle and genteel ears of the reader, and merely aggrieve further his already estranged descendants.

Dear Reader, there is little more tragic than the events I am about to relate, but Flores’s apparent demise from neglect, scorn and wantonness should serve as a caution not merely against the wages of licentiousness, but also against the price of gullibility, for there are those whose unscrupulousness, in particular that American electrical company which I am loathe to name again –

[section of manuscript damaged by fire]

– scandalous details such as Flores staggering, in the manner of a man given over to drink, by a sari-sari store, ordering two bottles of that potion of Satan, Ginebra San Miguel, and consuming one as he stood, are not the sort of anecdotal details that serve Clio well, and only besmirch –

[large sections of manuscript damaged by fire]

– and when his dissipated, lifeless body was finally discovered in his death bed, all one could hear inside the tomb of his room was the audible flicker of his invention, a filthy, cobwebbed fluorescent bulb, suspended from the water-stained ceiling, emitting an electrical buzz long after Flores’s soul had quit his –

[section of manuscript damaged by fire]

It is my hope that my efforts to chronicle History, and rectify Injustice with Justice, will not be in vain, and that the name of Agapito Flores be returned to the pantheon of Philippine heroes — nay, as another Pride of the Malay Race, along with the esteemed Doctor Jose Rizal — and be praised endlessly on the lips of students young and old.

  1. For a historian he sure writes engagingly. I liked the part where his younger brother “perished in an unfortunate kitchen accident involving an egg beater.” One wonders exactly HOW?

  2. Very enlightening (no pun or derision intended). The way the historical account flows, it could be the basis of an opera – or, to create it with local flavor, a zarzuela. (Just don’t dumb it down into a “bomba” movie with Maui Taylor playing the woman of ill repute).

  3. Well written narrative description , but it does not answer the most important question; did he really invented the florescent bulb?

  4. This can’t be serious. Dr. Augusto de Viana of the National Historical Institute already denied the existence of Agapito Flores.

    Additionally, the “manuscript” delivered more words than meanings. To me, it sounded more like a mockery than a historical account.

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