My Kind of Town

by Don Chapman

Friday, January 4, 2002

Playing covers

>> H-1, kokohead bound

Muhammed Resurreccion played his cover very well. He was a natural shape-shifter. Different people saw different sides of Muhammed.

He'd been living in two worlds since his birth 37 years ago. His father was Catholic, his mother Muslim. While their hearts and bodies burned with passion, their different faiths did not matter. Little Muhammed went to mass with his father, to the mosque with his mother. He found both perfectly fine religions, they had much in common. But as the years wore on his parents' passions turned to their religions. And from the time Muhammed was about 9 until he was 14, the Resurreccion home was the tableau for a reenactment of the Crusades. One day when his mother was dressing to take Muhammed to prayers, his father Lazarus got into a righteous uproar and stabbed her to death. He was arrested but Muhammed's Muslim cousins and uncles broke his father out of the Zamboanga jail and tortured him before letting him die.

Muhammed went to live with his mother's family, and in his heart soon became a Muslim. It wasn't just religion. The sense of right and wrong he'd learned from both religions was offended by the economic and legal disparity between Catholics and Muslims. In the eyes of the Philippines government, Muslims were not even second-class citizens. Muhammed was going to change that. And that's precisely why he was in Hawaii.

"The city skyline has certainly changed since my last visit," he said to the driver of the van, Wilhemina Orlando. He couldn't help admiring the young woman's profile, the way the seat belt tugged her white blouse tight across her chest. Her figure was the reason the boys at the Royal Hawaiian, where she worked as a maid, called her Wilhemina Rise.

Muhammed didn't mind mixing business and pleasure. He did it often in his travels across Mindanao, spreading information, orders, money and encouragement to the comrades in his people's cause. Most women, he had learned, they make love with you, they become very loyal. In the business he kept hidden from the outside world, loyalty was very important.

"Yes," she said, passing the Pali-Downtown exit, "they're building all the time." She took her eyes off traffic for a moment, glanced at Muhammed, smiled, made eye contact. "Where are we going?"

"Convention Center," he said.

"Only a few more minutes," she said. Wilhemina felt Muhammed's eyes on her. She leaned forward, pulling the seat belt tighter. This was her first time at this game, but Wilhemina was playing her cover very well too.

Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek.
His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin
with weekly summaries on Sunday.
He can be emailed at

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