Chaquita, Not the Banana (by Frankie Dawson)
Updated: Jun 25, 2019
Chiquita was tall, light skinned, black girl. She looked just like the label
on the Chiquita banana label.
Her eyes were big and bright, full of life,
but very mysterious, she didn’t tell you much about herself. She moved
slowly, but gracefully, her hair was always tied up in a beautiful bright
scarf. She spoke softly, Lord only know why she was in the service,
let alone why she was in the Philippines.
I remember one night she was in my room listening to jams. I loved rhythm and blues then. We listened to Marvin, the o’jays, Aretha all night long.
“I miss my boyfriend, Chiquita.” I said.
“Let your love light shine and be free.” She talked funny that way, always with a slow drawl.
“We can’t go off the base after 10 pm,”
Outside the USAF Hospital Clark Air Base, was the small village called Angeles City. You had the white section which was right outside the base with shops and somewhat clean. and the black section, a little crowded, just like in the states. The street was crowded with Jeepneys, decorated little jeeps with no doors, fringes hanging from the ceiling and always with the statue of Mary, the whole island seemed to be Catholic. The jeepneys were always crowded with people, they were little taxis. The language was Tagalog, but they understood English very well.
One time my boyfriend, who owned a big huge motorcycle went way up in the mountains of Subic Bay. That’s where the Naval Base was. His friend and his lady rode behind us on his bike.
I didn’t too much care for my boyfriend’s friend’s lady because we knew
she was a local prostitute in Angeles City. I thought she was too beautiful to be a prostitute. She could have been anything she wanted. Why a prostitute? I’ll never forget we both, the ladies, had problems leaning with our men on those bikes. You held
tight but you must lean with him. Thinking back on it,
I must have been crazy riding up those steep hills on motorbikes and it was cold, too., but oh so beautiful.
Well back to Chiquita.
We, more like she, decided I must sneak off the base to be with my boyfriend. I was the one talking about how I missed him and all. We got dressed, we didn’t have to put on
much since it was already hot and humid there. Here we go sneaking off the base, crouching like we were not being seen. Suddenly we heard, “Halt, who goes there?” It was a Philipino soldier perched on top of the building with an M-16 pointed directly as us. God, why couldn’t it be an American, he’s gone kill us for sho.
“Kumusta” said Chiquita which means hello in Tagalog, the local language.
“Magandang gabi.” Good evening, she said.
Chiquita starts to talk to him, standing up straight and swaying her hips, like she was hearing music.
She waved for me to go ahead off the base. Like a dummy, I eased behind her and ran off the base free and clear.
I waved down a jeepney, there was not too many people in it, I thought that strange. But I smiled and waved to Chiquita with a thumbs up of how smart we were. But was I in for a surprise...
When I got to the black side of town, l jumped out of the jeepney. Which had no doors,
“Hey where is my change?” With that, he the driver, started moving in close speaking loudly n his language. Other men started to surround me
out of no where the prostitute showed up. She said something back to them. Just as quickly as they appeared, they disappeared.
She said nothing to me, only a half smile, a nod and she disappeared into the darkness.
I ran like hell. I had a new respect for prostitutes.