I wrote this poem (free verse? quasi-essay?) one million years ago. To those who miss someone so much it hurts, this one just says pretty much how that feels...
Thursday, November 24, 2005
I wrote this poem (free verse? quasi-essay?) one million years ago. To those who miss someone so much it hurts, this one just says pretty much how that feels...
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Which got me thinking...who could be my five people? After some chewing over the matter, I started coming up with a shortlist. Now, some of these people are still living as of this writing, but since this is just me being pensive, ergo being way too imaginative, then I'm figuring when I'm six feet under, chances are one or all of these peeps could be there waiting for me...(unless of course I went *way* ahead of them)!
I think, next to "NO", the first word I said as an infant was "Mama". I remember growing up being teased as a Mama's Boy, having always been seen literally tugging at her skirt everywhere she went. (In seeing my niece Jasmine do the same thing to my mom--her lola--I can't help but smile a little.) My mom was a very uncompromising disciplinarian; she wanted nothing but perfection, the best. She would literally drag me out of the basketball court and make me hit my books, even if it was a weekend...just so I'd stay on top of my class. This was almost always the case, so my passion for sports (basketball in particular) vanished into thin air.
She wanted me to excel in everything so she pushed me to do my best. However, being only human (heh..heh), I sometimes let her down, and that disappointed the holy smokes outta her. At some point, after being valedictorian from Kindergarten to fifth grade, and then placing second to a wiz kid in sixth grade, she refused to talk to me...just for letting her down with my being "just" a salutatorian. I could tell then, that look of disappointment from her was going to get me scarred for life. Come senior high school, I passed the admissions test in the University of the Philippines. When I opted to take a non-quota course (i.e. Public Administration) instead of those "titled" courses that she wanted for me (e.g. Medicine, Law, Engineering, Architecture, etc.), she was indignant. She said I was her only hope (well, she gave up earlier on my sister because my Ate was a more resolute child; she'd fight for the decisions and choices she made herself and not our mother's), and that I should really modify my decision. I struck a deal with her...well, more a threat, that is. I told (er, threatened) her that if I took the degree of her choice, I couldn't promise her that I'd do good; and that if she let me take up what I desired, I'd guarantee her a medal on graduation. I got my wish...and my medal, eventually. But since I was "just" a cum laude, she was asking why I didn't make the cut for magna (or worse, summa!) cum laudes... Hay. Somebody give me a knife to slash my wrist with!
It is with these circumstances that I came to grow up as a person that was in a constant struggle to please my mother...or to prove to myself that I was good enough [for her approval]. And although it has been ages since I've vehemently convinced myself that I was, indeed, good enough--hell, sometimes even excellent!--in things that I do, I still haven't gotten to come to terms with it. In retrospect, I realized how I've been too strict with myself, even competitive, just to establish the fact that I really am good enough. This has (had?) been a major source of conflicts with me and whoever I was involved with in the past: every comment given me was someway taken as an attack, a criticism (no matter how well-meaning they were), and an assault to my ivory tower of self-adequacy. God knows, I'd love to get rid of this immature behavior/attitude. So, in my version of heaven, I will sit down with my mother, and tell her to just be easy on me; that I love her so much, but that she's going to have to make do with what I can do, because I give my best in every single endeavor.
Moving on to my next person, I wasn't the least surprised to realize that my second person would be my dad. My dad, being the good provider that he was, never really saw my sister and I growing up; he was in the Middle East (Saudi to Kuwait to Libya and Kuwait again) making a living for the family ever since my sister was just beginning to crawl. The only memories and images of my father that I held on to as a child wanting a father figure were his routine voice tapes, his musical/pop-up greeting cards, his legions of balikbayan boxes and Samsonite brief cases, the twenty peso bills per strand of white hair that I'd pluck from his head, and his mild-mannered self. His transitory vacations in Bataan from his 2-year contracts in the Mid-East were always looked forward to, especially by my mother. And since the only things that I associate with my father were those things I mentioned earlier, I never really got worked up as her (or my sister, who was the token Daddy's Little Girl).
Yes, he was a first rate provider, but the opportunity cost of the comfortable living, good education, nice and big house, and prissy toys was the void I had in my being: growing up not having a father I could play ball with, go fishing with, fix car engines with, go camping with, and have boy talk with. And in my formative years, with the lack of a father figure, I had to make do with a mother-and-father figure, thus the Mama's Boy prototype.
I was never really close to my father even up to now. Especially now. I remember him meeting an accident in his job as Chemical Engineer in Kuwait City. Aboard an elevator that nosedived 200 floors down to ground level, my father suffered injuries to his nerves in his head, thus causing him to be a little less mild-mannered, and a little crankier. The littlest things would set him off, and he got more and more distant. His presence got more fleeting; he'd stay in the house less (now that he's retired) and would be out trying not to be bored at home.
In my heaven, I would strap him on to a Barcelona chair--his dream chair--and talk to him. We'll just talk like two grownup friends trying to catch up on lost time. I'll tell him about what happened on my way adulthood, and I'll ask him what I did right, what I should continue doing, and what I could do better. I'd tell him how I learned how to do things on my own: fishing, carpentry, changing the tires of our car, cook, plumb, and a whole lot of others...and how I wish he was the one who taught me those how-to's. I'd tell him how I appreciate all the hard work and sacrifices, but will also tell him that I wish he stayed longer to make us enjoy the thing that mattered most: his time. In my heaven, I'd make time go back to when our house was still the modest wooden house, and I'd make him stay put in the country and play ball with me, and go fishing, and do dad-son stuff. In my heaven, it will never be too late for that...unlike how it is now.
My third person will be Armie Hazel. (Oh, God, please let me go before her. If I knew she died before me, my heart will be torn into pieces!) Armie Hazel--or in my endearment, "Arzel"--is my true soul mate. Or at least that's how *I* see it. She was my girlfriend for more than six years, and someway my fiancée.
I met her in high school, not really giving much thought that she would eventually be the person that would make my life come full circle. To borrow that totally cheesy, corny line from Jerry Maguire, she did, after all, complete me.
Arzel was this English-speaking (back when I could barely speak the language, me being probinsyano and all) daughter of an overbearing disciplinarian father, and a student who was almost never at school, well, after school. She was the most beautiful girl in freshman year. She was one of the smartest, sharpest, and funniest. It didn't hurt to also know that she had the sexiest boobs for a 13 year old. Hehehehe. And the thing that blew my mind was knowing that she fancied me--the geeky four-eyed baduy probinsyano from the boys' section right across their girls' wing. Writing her countless love notes--which, in retrospect, I think were written with poor grammar and sentence construction. Haha!--and throwing her stolen side glances, and a whole lot of other juvenile courtship tactics, I was finally able to get her "matamis na OO" and finally got steady with her. And, OMG. I think I was able to bring her home with me! Whoohoo. How's that for geek-gone-lucky?
It broke my heart when she told me that she and her entire family were migrating to the US, and that they were doing it sooner rather than later. She moved to California before I could even tell her how much she meant to me. Needless to say, I was never the touchy, feely, expressive person that I am now. And looking back, I realized that it was really her that taught me how important those were in any relationship. I never really told her that she meant the world to me. She never knew that whenever she walked in a room, time stopped for me and my heart would yell out that I was the luckiest man alive, because I was loved by the most beautiful girl in the world. I never really told her much, except that I missed her. (Well, a poem came out of all this--being inspired and all--and I'll be posting it after this entry.)
Arzel is now a mother. She's becoming more and more beautiful, and is turning into the woman that I have always wanted to spend the rest of my life with. She's now, technically, out of my life...what with her being happily married and blessed with an angel for a daughter who's becoming as beautiful as her.
In my heaven, Arzel will never be my coulda, woulda, shoulda, and what-might-have-been. In there, I'll be the better man that I've always wanted to be. Arzel will be the mother of MY daughter, and will be staring back into my eyes, not her husband's. In there, I'll tell her, "hey, I'm a better person because of you." And in my heaven, I will realize that I do not need to be in heaven just to be with her. After all, she IS heaven.
The shortlist ends here. My last two will come. I can almost feel their presence.
Monday, November 14, 2005
I was having my depression attacks again when I decided to do two things: remove my Bank of Hawaii, Standard Chartered, Equitable Mastercard, and HSBC credit cards from my wallet and lock it in my drawer in the office. With more than 25 grand on my credit card bills, I decided this depression attack could not afford another perfume, pair of shoes, messenger bag, PDA, mobile phone, or furniture. Upon hearing the click of my office drawer's lock fusing each other, I gave Nolet a ring. I needed the next best thing to a depression splurge: a nonchalant food trip mixed with bottles of red and decanters of margaritas. Ten minutes later, a dinner date was scheduled for the next day. After all, it was already late notice to even meet up with me right away. I decided I can put a lid on the depression thingee for one more night.
We all met—Nolet, Carissa, her boyfriend Edwin, and me—at the promenade/fountain area of Greenbelt 3, and decided that we were going to drink that night. Since Nolet and I haven’t had dinner yet, we went walking around the strip of restaurants to find a good place to eat. Since My Little Kitchen was the only restaurant with an available table to seat the four of us, we went in…only to get disappointed an hour later because of the bad food and terrible wine. At least the company was excellent.
Nolet finally told us about her now defunct relationship with He-who-mustn’t-be-named; how they finally talked—in that same café where she had her "presscon" to the rest of the gang about their being "officially a couple"—after a prolonged awkwardness and quasi-animosity between the two of them; how it feels weird being friends again with her ex. It was a fun talk, or at the very least…OUR talk that night.
At past 11, we left MYLK and decided to invade (or shall I say "unite with"?) the chaos of Greenbelt Two. We got lucky and found a table at Cena, and got cozy right outside the resto. While basking in the refreshing breeze of the fan-cum-water-spritzer, we couldn't help but think: "Where the hell is this water in the spritzer coming from? Is this even distilled or filtered??? And to think our drinks are all vulnerable to those germs that this spritzer may be likely to emit!!!" Ten minutes later, Milo the Waiter brought us four glasses and a tall decanter of Mango Something (I forgot what the concoction was) Margarita. After we finished it in record breaking speed, we ordered another decanter of margarita, this time the Dalandan flavored one.
[There! Mango Mandarin!!!!! Yum. I am now officially a poster boy of Cena's Margarita liters.]Upon gazing upstairs, I came to see a couple of friends who seemed to be having their own decanters and bottles and glasses to drink...so I thought I'd drop by and say hi. Barely ten minutes later, upon coming back to our table, I was just told that--by unanimous vote--we were driving to Baguio first thing the next morning. I agreed right away. Fuck that depression spell...I am having fun with my good friends...and away from the city that's giving me all this bleakness.
As if I wasn't exhausted yet from all the drinking, I bid them goodbye--with the agreement to meet at Jollibee Muñoz at 8 the next morning--and went home...to change and go clubbing with my best friend Pat. Went dancing and drinking some more, and then went home at quarter past four. Since I've already packed my bag the night before I left for the club, I decided I could take a nap first before showering around 6am, to them proceed to our meeting place.
The dratted Nokia alarm went off perhaps one million times but I was only able to wake up at quarter of seven!!! I almost decided on not showering but upon smelling the fricking cigarette smoke in my hair, I instantly jumped in the shower. One jeepney, MRT and bus ride later (the walk from the MRT station to the next bus stop took about one hundred years, thanks to the maze-like pink bus stations of MMDA), I found myself staring at my take-out food from Jollibee. Hurray for double burger pates with tomatoes, lettuce and cheese, lava-hot hot chocolate drink, and un-soggy fries.
With Edwin driving and Carissa in the passenger seat, Nolet and I got cozy at the back seat. My evil plan to sleep on them the whole journey to Baguio was thwarted by their beating me to it...and my two phones constantly beeping or ringing. Argh. To make matters worse, my portable DVD player with LCD just wouldn't read any fucking CD! So I just tranquilized myself with Carissa's theme- and concept-less CDs playing in the CD changer (hehehe). I eventually got tired (whether of the Johny Mathis/Elvis Presley/Paul Anka songs or of the boring sceneries, I couldn't tell!), and fell asleep. I woke up at Pangasinan a couple of hours later, badly needing to pee. Thankfully, Edwin and Carissa had a stop-over somewhere near, so I was able to use the commode. Yeah, yeah. I am not one of those men who could just stick out his weiner and pee anywhere. And, no, I am not being conservative; I am being more of a superstitious provincial folk who's scared of offending the unseen forces of nature by accidentally peeing on their territories, and having my manhood enchanted and magically turned into something huge. WAIT A MINUTE!!! On second thought, with that premise, I think I should start peeing all over the place!!! Hmmmm.... ;)
Almost two more hours later, we caught a glimpse of the gigantic lion's head. Aaah...Baguio at last. We didn't bother getting off and getting touristy by taking photos. We were too damned starved to even do anything but imagine the taste of freshly cooked food touching our mouths.
Soonest we arrived at the city proper, we drove to Burnham Park and found ourselves pointing at countless things to be barbecued: tilapia, eggplants, and pork ribs, together with a mango and fish paste salad. Yum.
Needed to pee. Thank God for clean public toilets...or at least that's what the humongous signages claimed to be. When I reached the door, I was stopped by a local not-too-old lady and asked me in her booming voice--which I hardly understood the first time she said it--"Ihi lang o tae?" That did it for me. I almost burst out laughing and peeing on myself once those words were out of her mouth. Apparently, it's two pesos and fifty centavos more expensive to do number two. Just for the heck of it, I said "tae po" in a similarly rambunctious voice, and proceeded inside...with approximately eight sheets of single-ply toilet paper in my hand. I think I may have sprayed pee on the floor because I still couldn't stop giggling like a hyena...and the huge posters/signages inside proclaiming "Ihi lang: P2.50; Tae:P5" did not help alleviating the laughing fit either.
After almost an hour of driving and wedging through traffic, and being told by two or three hotels that they were fully booked (or that their prices were too much for our budget, like The Manor!), we ended up in a modest inn called Citylight. After I swiped my card, we were able to secure two twin sharing rooms. Don't even get me started on the debate that ensued on who shares the room with who...because I might get someone (heck, both of them) in trouble. Hehehehehe...
We slept for a good hour or two, and then Nolet and I hit the SM mall to climb its balcony that overlooks the whole of Baguio City. It was slightly drizzling, so the already cold weather turned even more chilly. Thank God I had the presence of mind to bring my jacket!
Another hour later, with a new boxer brief (which, I must add, was sexy...hehehe) in tow, Nolet and I walked back to the hotel...but not without passing by (which is, by the way, SO out of the way going towards the hotel!) Mc Donald's to get ice-cream. How's that for "redundant"...cold weather and ice-cream?!
An hour after we got home, we found Loony waiting for us in our hotel. Apparently, she just missed the last bus going home to Ilocos at Dagupan, and Baguio was the next best idea. We all dressed up and then hit the road to go have dinner at Camp John Hay. Since it was pretty late when we got to the camp, we only had two choices: a quaint diner called Everything Nice, and a small booth of Brothers Burger. We went for the former...and had a blast with their tea, which all needed at least 95 degrees of quite-boiling water to taste wonderful.
After a couple more pictures and laughters and walks inside the camp, we decided 'twas time for a drink. We went to this place, which was supposedly "the happening place" according to my friends Alvin and JP, who I SMS'd earlier to ask which place we should hang out in, the Nevada Square. The most interesting bar we saw, i.e. with the rowdiest crowd, the friendliest-looking pack, and the hippest music, was called Fridays...so we settled in one of the tables right outside it, and started drinking away. Three or four bottles of beer and a pitcher of Mindoro Slide later, Carissa and I (and later on, Nolet, too) went inside to dance. After all, Pussycat Dolls' "Dont'cha" was playing incessantly and everybody and their mothers were dancing like there was no tomorrow.
Inside, the devil in me started squirming out of my persona. I instantly scanned the place for a ledge or something like it. There was no fucking ledge!!! I pulled two chairs together, stood up by the big speakers, and then started dancing madly on my makeshift ledge. Five minutes later, the strobe lights were stopping and focusing on me...and the other people that made their way to my makeshift ledge. There was one lady named Nicole, a cross-dresser with no name, and a boy named Arman (haha!). With Carissa and Nolet just below me dancing like crazy, too, we literally stole the attention from everyone...including the bar manager's. He gave me his card, with a promise that the next time we are back in Baguio, he'll reserve a table inside for us...and that hopefully, by the time we get back, he'll have a real ledge and pole for me to dance on. HAHAHA. There goes my next career!
Went home at past three...only to leave the hotel again to meet up with someone. Let's just say that I had to spend the night at their place and didn't come back to my friends until 9 in the moring, when they almost sent a search party for me. Yes, Nolet, thanks for the advice of wearing my new underwear to the post-clubbing date. ;)
The next morning was a blur. But the highlight of that next day was the lunch buffet at O Mai Khan where our stomachs almost literally burst (thanks, too, to the fresh strawberry shakes!!!). Whose stomach wouldn't, what with at least three helpings of Mongolian!!! The funniest part of the day, however, was when Loony gave me a hard look (as we were walking to the car) and blurted out nonchalantly, "Ben, you have a really nice body...but you don't have an ass!" I almost slapped her. WTF?!! That was what I got for telling her that her old Nokia 6210 was an ugly-ass phone. Now THAT was what I call sweet revenge...she hit me where it really hurts. HAHAHAHA.
Since we were really exhausted, we decided to go to Burnham Park...TO SLEEP in the car. While Nolet was busy shopping at the flea market, Carissa, Edwin and I were "busy" sleeping in the car. Loony already left to catch her bus back to Ilocos.
When we woke up, we went back with Nolet to do our shopping at the flea market. They bought loads of fresh veggies, to my dismay ('cuz I couldn't really cook in my condo, as we do not have a working exhaust fan). So I just contented myself with the fresh fruits, cheap cashmere-like fabrics and comforters, and with the dozen white Calla Lilies that I got...for TEN fucking pesos!!!
Went to The Mansion next. Took touristy photos. Then moved to Mines View. More touristy photos. And then decided that we'll just pass the traffic by staying a wee bit longer in Baguio. Went to SM again and had dinner at Gerry's Grill where we, as expected, binged yet again. After a series of burps, we hit the road and bid Baguio goodbye.
Slept pretty much during the journey going down to the city that gave me the depression spell not more than five days ago...but this time, feeling more recharged, more happy, and feeling more blessed that I've had a great time with great friends.
Pagudpod or Panglao, anyone?
Friday, November 4, 2005
It ain't Cancer, you moron. It's Commitment.
Is it just me or is commitment such a scary word? (See, even my keyboards agree as I typed that! I just got the nastiest static electrocution ever since I came back from Vegas...)
OK. OK. It ain't as if it's such a horrendous thing that sends shivers up people's spines just by the mere mention of the word...it's just that these days, commitment seems to be, well, shady. These days, it's either you're a commitment-phobic or a commitment-manic freak...and either way, it's not looking too good.
I was recently told that I was "too nice", "too good to be true", that I was "too sweet, it's getting nauseating" (yes, folks. Somebody slap whoever told me that...before I beat you to it)...and only because I wasn't the commitment-phobic type. I mean, come on. I'm not getting any fuckin' younger. So, what's wrong with wanting to finally commit to someone?
Funny how in the somehow distant past, I've been totally freaked out at the idea of being "tied" to someone, that a relationship was your life sentence, and not to mention a sure way of admitting to yourself that you'll be having sex with the same person for the rest of your life. Bummer. And now, I'm Mr. Commitment. How freaky is that?
So, there are people like me: the I-gotta-have-you-I’m-not-getting-any-younger commitment freaks. And then there are the meatheads who just don’t do commitment…ever.
My previous business colleague and good friend Vicki dated a fellow Ateneo alumni a couple of months ago. She has never had a boyfriend since she broke up with her boyfriend of ten years, Hans, who is now in Switzerland pursuing his MBA. She would date occasionally but found nothing special with these dates (or at least nothing like what she and Hans had)…until Mitch came in the picture. Mitch was a blind date, set up almost unplanned by our friend Rhett. He was a Pre-Divinity major for some time until he realized that he did not want to become a priest, and thus shifted to Economics. And although—as they discovered later—they were classmates in college on some Management subjects, it was only when Rhett set them up that they were able to take notice of each other.
After barely three weeks of dating, Vicki introduced him to our group. This was something. She never introduces a date to us unless he’s got to be something special. So when we finally decided to meet up—‘twas in a restaurant in Rockwell; Vicki, Mitch, his friends Martin and Rose, me, my friends Rhett, Raymond, Jason, Mike, and their boyfriends/girlfriends Ethan, Alfred, Mia, and Joseph—the brouhaha was killing us all. And as if my queer friends’ occasional (and dare I say dopey) blurting out of their “How far have you gone, guys?” question wasn’t enough, they were bombarded with questions like “What’s your anniversary date?”, “Is he a good kisser?”, or “Dammit, do we hear wedding bells, then?” Only for us to be disappointed by being told that they are just dating, still getting to know each other, and “taking things slow”. Yeah right…or at least, that was what everyone else said. But we let them be.
And after more than three months of “just dating” and “taking things slow”, I finally pulled Vicki by her hair and extorted the truth from her. What she told me paralyzed me from the neck up. She and Mitch were still in that phase. And, what’s worse, she was so ready for a commitment…but Mitch wasn’t. This, she found out when, in their most recent conversation, she asked him where their dating was going to lead to…or if 'twas even going somewhere. In fairness to Vicki, she’s been everything but a nag in terms of going steady or exclusively dating. But three months was just such a long time to “just” date. At least that’s what I think, too.
So in their last where-is-this-leading-to talk, Mitch said those classic “I just want to be sure”, “I’m not sure if I’m ready”, “I still want to get to know you more”, and “Let’s take things slow” lines. With those lines recounted to me by Vicki over a Tall Chai Latte in Greenbelt, I slammed a paperback copy of “He’s Just Not That Into You” on her lap and told her to stop and smell the not-so-sweet-smelling, almost-wilting flowers: Mitch was not THAT into her as she was into him.
And, oh, here’s the killer: as they were having that talk, Mitch kept referring to commitment as “the ‘C’ Word”. What C? Coward? Cad? Craven? Childish? Chicken? Crazy. That’s what I say it is.
Commitment. What’s so scary about it? Fine. People like me are bizarre in wanting commitment so soon. But we’re just seizing the moment…living in the now. After all, getting to know the man or woman of your dreams can be done when you’re both already in the relationship. It’s not like there’s an irrevocable contract you have to sign prior to committing, that you can’t part with when you realize somewhere in the middle that you aren’t meant for each other. For crying out loud, even science says that you can never be too certain of something until you keep experimenting, making mistakes, learning, and unlearning from the experiences.
Now, are you saying that we more of a freak for wanting to be with someone, giving ourselves to him/her, and committing to a (hopefully) lasting relationship, that is, compared to those who are mortified of the idea of spending the rest of their lives with someone other than their lonely selves?
Ah. No-brainer question, ain’t it?