The Bread of Salt
a theatrical adaptation
based on the story
“The Bread of Salt”
[background: bakery at the left, Spaniard’s house with the veranda in the middle, boy’s
house/room at the right. A lamp post is in the middle of the stage. Don Esteban is reading the
news and drinking coffee at the “patio” of his home. The baker is at the bakery. The boy is in his
Boy: [wakes up] Yawn! Just another day of my fourteenth year. Oh no! I almost forgot – the
bread! [scurries around, tidies the covers of the bed, and kicks it aside]
Boy: [looks around the room/kitchen] Hmmn, unless Grandmother has forgotten, the money for
the baker down the street should be right…around…here… (sigh), she can be really forgetful at
times… [bends down and finds the coins jar under the table] Aha! [reaches for the jar, opens it,
and gets the coins inside. He gets up but hits his head on the table above]
Boy: [walks towards the bakery] (thinking aloud) I seem to remember that rolls were what
Grandmother wanted, but the kind called pan de sal ought to be just fine.
Baker: [to the boy, gruffly] What can I do for ya’?
Boy: [to the baker] Fifteen centavos’ worth of pan de sal, please. [hands him the money]
Baker: [takes the coins and counts them] (murmurs) Just a minute.
Boy: [thinks aloud] The bread of salt! How did it get that name? From where did its flavour
come? Why does it come nut-brown and the size of my little fist…?
Baker: [extends a paper bag of bread] Here ya’ go…
Boy: [doesn’t hear him] And why does it have a pair of lips convulsed into a painful frown…?
Baker: [loudly] Hey, kid! Your bread! [shakes the bag]
Boy: [startled, turns to the baker and takes the bag] Uh, sorry… [leaves the bakery]
Boy: [walking slowly] I know I should be on my way… but one more stop wouldn’t hurt…
[stops by the lamp post] This is the house of the old Spaniard whom Grandfather used to serve
as a coconut plantation overseer before he died. I often wonder if someday, I’d be working in the
service of this great house as well. Oh! There she is! [hides behind lamp post]
Aida: [appears on the veranda, leans over the railing towards her Uncle below] Good morning,
Don Esteban: [raises a hand in response and continues reading the paper and drinking coffee]
Boy: Her name is Aida. She’s the old Spaniard’s niece and I’m just lucky enough to be her
classmate in high school. [checks if she’s looking] I’m afraid that she’d be looking, but at the
same time, hoping and praying that she is. [checks again]. Okay, she’s gone. I think it’s safe
now… [runs home]
Boy: [frantic] Oh no! I mustn’t be late! [puts on uniform] I can almost hear the patter of her
footsteps on the way to school! If I’m one second late I might miss her! [puts on shoes, runs, and
stops a little to the left of the veranda] [freshens up, fixes hair, clothes and pretends to be tying
Aida: [gets out of her house] Bye, Uncle! [walks to school and passes by the boy]
Boy: [smiling as he looks up and walks right behind her] I wonder whether I should walk with
her… But what can I say? A simple “Hello” would do and maybe I could offer to carry her
books… I think it’s best that I shouldn’t since would be the height of rudeness.
Boy: [continues following her] I hope that perhaps she’d throw a glance in my direction and
bestow upon my heart a deserved and abundant blessing.
Aida: [seems to notice someone following her and briefly looks at the boy behind her]
Boy: [lovestruck, sighs, and leans on the lamp post next to him]
[Class bell rings five times, boy panics, change to scene II]
[Classroom setting: a few students are already seated. Professor is cleaning the blackboard in
front of the class. Aida enters and sits on the second row. Then boy enters]
Boy: [passes by Aida, shyly]: Hello, Aida.
Aida: [responds with a smile] Hi…
Boy: [triumphantly] She said “Hi!” [sits down on the first row] How I endeavored to build my
body so I may live long to honor her. I exercise to ensure my victory in the hand ball court and
Teacher: Can anyone give me the value of x?
Boy: …to increase the velocity of my hand raising in class. [to teacher, stands] It’s four, Sir.
Teacher: That’s correct. Now considering this graph…
Boy: See, I guarded my mind and did not let my wits go astray. I would not allow a lesson to
pass unmastered. My teacher could put no question before us that did not have a ready answer in
Teacher: Now, who can tell me anything about George Washington?
Boy: [raises hand even before teacher finishes question]
Teacher: [to the boy] You again? [to class] Do I see other hands? None? [lets the boy answer]
Boy: George Washington was the first president of the United States of America. He was born
on February 22, 1732 and died on December 14, 1799. Before he was sworn in as president he
was the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and led them to victory over Great Britain
Teacher: Okay, I think that’s enough. You may sit down now.
Boy: [peers over his shoulder towards Aida] Sigh, if only she was looking. [pause] but perhaps it
was on my violin that her name wrought such tender spell…
[violin playing scene]
Pete: [puts a hand on boy’s shoulder] Hey, I can see you’re quite good on the violin.
Boy: Uhm, thanks, Pete. I’ve been practicing for some…
Pete: [not listening] Look, you must join my band. We’ll have many engagements soon.
Boy: But I have my school work to…
Pete: Oh, don’t give me that. It’ll be vacation time. You have no excuse now. [pause] Tomorrow
we play at a Chinaman’s funeral. Four to six in the afternoon. In the evening, Judge Roldan’s
silver wedding anniversary party. Sunday, the Municipal dance. Okay? I’ll see you later for
practice. [walks away]
Boy: But I haven’t even said “yes.”
Pete: [mockingly] I don’t hear anything. I’ll see you tomorrow.
Boy: [retreats to his seat, thinking aloud] Just think of all the money I would earn! For several
days now, I’ve been planning to buy a box of lines stationery and fill the sheets with words that
would tell Aida how much I adored her. I would borrow her algebra book, and there I would slip
[IF VENUE PERMITS: boy falls asleep on his chair. Slips off into a daydream about being in
the newspaper, being offered a new violin, and being adored by Aida.]
Teacher: I find it amusing that some of you have the audacity to not pay attention! [slams a ruler
onto the boys armchair]
Boy: [wakes up, startled]
Teacher: [menacingly presses the end of the ruler on the boy’s head] Now tell me, who was the
16th president of the United States?
Boy: Uhm, sir… I believe it’s Abraham Lincoln.
Teacher: [mumbles angrily, looks irritated] …cheeky little know-it-all…
[chairs moved aside]
[funeral scene: a dead man lies on the left side of the stage. A jewelry merchant sits outside the
funeral. The boy’s aunt is busy at home (on the right side) doing the dishes]
Chinawoman: [crying feverishly, to dead husband] …why did you leave me? I told you you
were getting too fat but you wouldn’t listen! Huhuhu… [to Pete, mood changes abruptly] Thank
you for coming. You boys played marvellously. I hope to see you again. [gets purse and hands
him the money, then immediately starts crying again] …how can I live without you? Huhuhu…
Pete: [walks away, dividing the money] Good job, people. I’ll see you at my house for
rehearsals. [to the boy] And you! Don’t be late.
Boy: [mock salute] Yessir! [thinking aloud, looking at his money] Hmmn, with enough money I
could buy Aida a brooch! I don’t know exactly why I wanted her buy her a brooch but my heart
was set on it! [walks toward a Chinese vendor] Uhm, can I ask how much that one costs?
Boy: I mean, how much for the brooch?
Vendor: Is this a joke? You don’t look like someone who can actually afford it. Besides, you’re
just a kid! Go play somewhere else.
Boy: [walks back home, disheartened] I’m home!
Aunt: Young man, come over here. I’ve noticed that you haven’t been doing your share of the
chores lately. Would you care to explain why?
Boy: I’m to busy right now practicing with the band. Couldn’t we just ask the maid to buy the
pan de sal for me, instead?
Aunt: I suppose we could. But why do you want to be a musician for? At parties musicians
always eat last.
[forming of classroom again. With chairs and the blackboard]
Boy: [walks toward classroom] Oh no! I had not counted on Aida’s leaving home! I just
remembered that her parents lived in Badajoz. Argh! How could I forget! My letters have
remained unwritten, her algebra book unborrowed, and there’s still that brooch to find. Not once
have I tried to tell her of my love.
Pete: [standing right outside the room] Hey, got a second? I have good news. You know the
Buenevista Womens’s Club? Don Esteban’s daughters, Josefina and Alicia, are arriving from
Manila and they are planning to give them an asalto. [pause] This party will be a complete
secret. [whispering now] And the best part is… they’ve hired our band.
Boy: Well, that great but I really have to go now.
Pete: Hey, don’t forget that we have to start practicing early. See you at my house tomorrow.
Boy: [enters the classroom, spots Aida unwrapping a gift. To Aida] Merry Christmas!
Aida: [finished opening the gift] Oh, hi there. Merry Christmas to you, too.
Boy: Will you be away during the vacation?
Aida: No, I’ll be staying here. My cousins are arriving next week and a party is being planned
for them. I wouldn’t want to miss that.
Boy: So you know all about it? The club has hired our band to play for the party
Aida: Really? You’re in the band? I’m so looking forward to hear you play. [gets up from her
chair] So I guess I’ll see you at the party then. Good luck!
[party scene: there are plenty of people talking to each other, laughing, eating, drinking, etc.
Pete’s band enters and starts playing. The sisters offer a song number while the band plays and
was met with applause. Party almost finished.]
Boy: [tired, walking towards the table] It seemed like years before Pete told us to put away our
instruments. [standing before the table with other bandmates] There’s more food than I ever
imagined. It’s like all my favorite foods are here: there’s ham, cake, chicken, pasta, and what
seemed like egg yolks dipped in honey and peppermint. Bah! Enough talk! Eat! [starts stuffing
his mouth with food and even hides some in his pocket]
Aida: [tapping the boy’s shoulder] Have you eaten?
Boy: [turns around, still with his mouth full and looks surprised that it was actually Aida]
Aida: If you wait a little while till they’ve all gone. I’ll tell the maids to wrap up a big package
Boy: [tries to say “No, thank you” but couldn’t talk because of all the food in his mouth. Wipes
his mouth with the back of his hand and chews a couple of times to clear his mouth] No, thank
you. Uhm, excuse me. [walks away] I felt all ardor for her gone from me entirely. [stops and
throws away the egg-yolk thingies] It’s amazing how quickly time moves. Just minutes ago, I
thought I loved her, but now, I don’t even care about her at all.
[party breaks up and party scene is removed (tables, chairs, etc.). Lamp post is brought back in.
Pete and the others are under it waiting for the boy]
Pete: [divides the earnings] Very good job! I’m so pleased with our performance this evening.
Yawn! Lets all just go home and get some sleep.
Boy: You guys go ahead. I’ll just stop by the bakery to get some bread.
Pete: Isn’t it odd that you should still be hungry?
Boy: [peers into the bakery, finding nobody there, he sits leaning on the door] It was not quite
five, and the bread was not yet ready…neither was I.