Hi, I'd Like to Speak to….

Play by | September 28, 2008

This play was performed last February at the UP Mindanao, with Maureen Ronquillo as Veronica and Erika Navaja as Apple.

Cast of Characters:

Apple, 22 – a call center agent
Veronica, 42 – Mr. Sacks’ wife

Setting: The stage is divided into two: on one side, a table where Apple is stationed (her office desk in Davao), on another a couch and a coffee table (Veronica’s house in the United Kingdom.) It is daytime on Veronica’s side of the set and nighttime on Apple’s. Both of them are seated on their side of the stage as the play begins.

(Apple starts making a call through her cellular phone. The pauses in between her sentences must be presumed to be answered by an absent “other line.”)

Apple: Hey babe – wait, sino to? Dan? Girl ka ba? Boy. Dan. Good. Uhm. Kay Jun nga. Uhm, kasama mo ba siya, no wait (snickers), silly me, (British accent) of course kasama mo siya, duh, phone niya to. (trying to flirt with Dan) hey listen, Dan, could you be an angel and give the phone to Jun please? What do you mean he’s in the shower? Oh, he’s coming, coming out now? Oh, O.K. Kaw naman, you’re such a joker ha, naked siya ka jan. Huuuy, Jun. Sino ba yun? Ang lambot magsalita! Wala lang. (snickers.) Kumusta? Hey, listen, you free mamaya, I mean, tomorrow, when I get off work? I mean, I think I still have energy for a little, you know, breakfast. Well, you know, wala lang, I kinda miss you na kasi. I know, I know. Well, you know – ano ba to. Friendly breakfast – naman. Duh, I got over you na kaya! Treat ko. Sweldo ko kasi ngayon. I know this little place where –. Oh, okay. Oh, you’re going out tonight. Sa MTS? Kasama si Dan. Kaw talaga, tulad mo yung friend mo ah, lumalambot na ang words. Pwede sama? Joke lang. I have to work pa eh, I mean, unless you want me not to. Oh. Ba’t naman di pwede? Ah, ganon. Haaay. Wala lang, I’m so bored. Shift starts in a few minutes. But, wala lang. Huy, ang sweet niyo naman jan. Kayo na ba? Joke lang… Uy, alam mo ba – there was this one time, I was waiting for a jeep home, tapos yun, it was around 3 a. m., tapos yun, a guy there, he was asking for my number, tapos. Hello? Jun? Hello. Jun.

(Veronica walks around her part of the stage, bites her nails, fanning herself with her hands. She has a British accent.)

Veronica: Oh dear. Oh dear. Now how do I tell him? Uhm. Dear? I have something to tell you. No wait. Too thrilling. Uhm, honey, the “thing” that we were waiting for all the ten years of our marriage? It’s here! No wait, too soap opera. Dear. We’re having a baby! Wait. Too direct. Oh, oh, oh my, oh my, oh my.

(Veronica approaches phone and dials.)

(The lights on Apple’s side of the stage begin to brighten, signaling the start of her shift. Apple puts on her headset, her hands on the keyboard on her desk, typing occasionally as she “talks” into the headset.)

Yeah, hi! I’d like to speak to Abe please. Yeah. Tell him it’s Ronnie. Thank you dear. (to self) What a lovely child.

(hears something on the other line).

(to herself) Daddy?! Adam?! Son?! What the – (listens closely to conversation on the other line.) You bastard. You, f***n’ bastard. I hate you like I hate pie! I hate you like tea with too much sugar. I hate you. With a passion. Like it always rains in London. How old is this kid anyway? (becomes silent, stunned. Her husband has just answered the call.) Uhm. Hello. How’s your day? Good. That’s good. Uhm. I forgot. (becomes quiet) Just wanted to, check up if you’re, uh, home. There. You are. Obviously. Otherwise I’ll just be speaking to myself here. I’ll have to call you back. Just, ah, something came up. Bye. Love ya. (drops call.)

(Veronica hides her shock by walking around her side of the stage. Apple pulls a mirror from her pocket and checks if there are smudges on her eyeliner. There are none, so she types and clicks on her computer hardware. She puts on her headset and smiles for her next call.)

Apple: Hi I’d like to speak to Mr. Smith? Oh. I apologize for the inconvenience, ma’am. I’ll just try reaching him at a more convenient time, thank you. (Silence.) Hi, I’d like to speak to Mr. Hall? Oh, at work, is he? Oh, all right, thank you for taking my call Ma’am. Cheerio. (Silence.) Hi, I’d like to speak – (reacts by pulling her earset away from her ears and scratching her ears.) BITCH! (Puts headset back on.) Thanks for taking my call, ma’am. Have a nice day. Bitch. (Silence.) Hi, I’d like to speak to Mr. Patel? Oh. Uhm. Died a few hours ago? Of a heart attack? Uhm, ma’am I apologize for your loss. Yes, he was a good friend. He’s in a better place now, don’t worry ma’am. Yes. Thank you for taking my call. (a short pause and then) Enjoy your day!

(Silence. The phone will ring on Veronica’s side. Veronica will answer the call.)

Apple: (to self) Ang pangit ng pitch ko! Mabago nga.

Veronica: Hello?

Apple: (with the same flirtatious tone earlier) Yes, Hi, I’d like to speak to Mr. Sacks please?

Veronica: Who is this? What do you want my husband for?

Apple: (to self) Yes, please be home. (to call) Well, ma’am, my name is Cindy from –

Veronica: So now it’s Cindy. Who is this? I don’t know any Cindys. How did you get this number?

Apple: Excuse me, ma’am? Pardon?

Veronica: You heard me! Who is this?

Apple: Yes, ma’am, my name is Cindy, from –

Veronica: Are you having an affair with my husband?

Apple: Affair?

Veronica: You heard me!

Apple: Affair, hell no! I mean, no ma’am… there seems to be a misunderstand –

Veronica: (to self) So that’s why. Bloody hell, there was another woman. And a child. A child! I should have believed Chris when she told me she thought she saw him with one. (to Apple) And you! You bitch!

Apple: But –

Veronica: Yes, I’m on to you. You’re trying to provoke me.

Apple: But –

Veronica: You’re trying to get into my head! It must have been your perfume I smelled when I got a whiff of Victoria’s Secret on my husband’s coat one day.

Apple: Excuse me, ma’am?

Veronica: Yes. It was you! I tried to deny it at first, but now it all makes perfect sense. My husband is cheating on me! Cheating! On me! All these years!

Apple: Ma’am?

Veronica: With you! And that time! That time I thought I had seen my husband inside a restaurant! You slut! I tried to brush the idea off at first.

Apple: Ma’am.

Veronica: Oh, my God. Why the idiot…I ought to cut his floppy –

Apple: Jesus!

Veronica: – thing off and feed it to you! Whore! Slut!

Apple: P*** INA! MA’AM!

Veronica: Excuse me?

Apple: God! Listen. Ma’am. I was trying to explain to you that I am not your husband’s lover. I was trying to explain to you that I come from International Stocks Limited, and I had bloody business to bloody discuss with him! Now, if you please, I would like to speak with Mr. Sacks. Please.

Veronica: Gosh, uhm, I don’t even know where to begin.

Apple: And I haven’t had sex for months now! FOUR LONG MONTHS!

(Both of them keep silent for a while, disturbed by Apple’s speech.)

Apple: Yes. Uhm…Is he available to speak with at the moment, ma’am?

Veronica: He’s not here, unfortunately. Fortunately for him.

Apple: That’s all right, ma’am, I mean. Uhm. Yeah, I’ll just try to, uhm, reach him at a more convenient time. Okay?

Veronica: Oh, all right. You do that. (after a little silence, hesitates. And then, in a Visayan accent:) Ah, hija?

Apple: Po? I mean, excuse me, ma’am?

Veronica: Sinasabi ko na nga ba eh. Sa Pilipinas ba galing ‘tong tawag na to? My God! Totoo nga! Kumusta na diyan sa Pilipinas?

Apple: Ah… eh, ayos lang po. Eh, sorry po ma’am. Pilipino po pala kayo? (to self) Teka, parang nabasa ko na samwer to a.

Veronica: Lagi. Dugay na ko di nakauli.

Apple: Sorry po talaga, nasigawan ko tuloy kayo.

Veronica: Suskupo naman, okey lang yun! Ako nga ang dapat magsorry e. Naku. Alam mo ba, sorry ha.

Apple: Ah, eh, ayos lang po yun, Ma’am. Uhm.

Veronica: Alam mo ba! Yung asawa ko kasi! Pesteng yun! Akalain mo bang –

Apple: Uhm, Ma’am?

Veronica: Naku, Onik na lang.

Apple: Ah, opo. Tita Onik?

Veronica: Tita! I love it! Tita! Tagal nang walang tumatawag sa akin na Tita!

Apple: Ah, eh, opo. Tita. Nakatutok na po kasi ang team leader ko sa akin. Tapos, yun. Mukhang… Bahala na po.

Veronica: Ay, sayang. Ano nga pala totoong pangalan mo hija?

Apple: Ah, eh, Apple po.

Veronica: Naku, Apple. Kapangalan mo yung pamangkin ko! Tita nga! Teka, may Eat Bulaga pa ba jan? Game ka na ba? GAME NA!

Apple: Uhm. Ma’am, (breathes deeply, resumes British accent), I apologize for the inconvenience, I’ll just try to reach your husband at a more convenient time. It was a pleasure speaking with you.

Veronica: (a slight pause) O Sige, I mean, it was nice hearing a friendly voice as well. Friendly. Uy, sorry kaayo ha?

Apple: That’s all right ma’am. I’m being told to go to my next call though.

Veronica: Oh, sure, sure.

Apple: Once again, Ma’am, thanks for taking my call, this is Cindy from International Stocks Limited, and have a nice day.

Veronica: Ikaw din, hija. Ikaw gihapon. Goodbye. Cheerio!

Apple: Goodbye.

(Apple stands up, removes her headset, looks back at the rules of the floor posted behind her. She will pause for a while and stare into the audience and sigh. At the same time, Veronica will slowly place the phone back to its cradle. Both of them are not sure how to feel about what just happened.)

(Apple will then get her cellular phone, dial a number. The call will “connect” while Apple looks for a box and put all her office materials in it.)

Apple: Uhm, hello, Ms. Jenny? Yes, si Apple po ito. Ah, eh… Ma’am, magpapaalam lang sana ako – Nasaan ako? Andito po, sa seat ko. Uhm, listen lang po. Papaalam lang ako, I wanted to punch out early sana, just wanna take a walk outside. Alone. Uhm, ma’am? Thank you po. For everything. Don’t worry po, I’ll be fine. Thank you po. Goodbye.


Yas D. Ocampo, 22, is finishing his BA English thesis at the University of the Philippines Mindanao. He is an editorial assistant at the Mindanao Times. Yas was a fellow in poetry in English at the 15th Iligan National Writers Workshop, which was held last May.

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