Tag Archive: Public Address



On my way to work today, I saw a 15-foot billboard of the Mandaluyong City Ordinance against riding-in-tandem. Riding in tandem is the Filipino equivalent of a drive-by.

The said ordinance prohibits two males from riding the same motorcycle together, unless they are father and son. It sounds absurd, but wait till you see the pictures.

I remarked on the billboard and the taxi driver weighed in… (I’m paraphrasing)

He explained how terrible the problem of riding-in-tandem is. His neighbor, who was having coffee in front of his house one morning was shot 10 times on the head and face by two armed men on a motorcycle.

The two strangers rode up to the front of the house asked the neighbor what his name was and bang– (times ten)

Wait, there’s more…

The motive? The men were hired by a trader from whom the victim owed 8 sacks of charcoal. (that’s Php1,200/$30+) It’s so fascinating how some people can so arbitrarily assign a value on someone’s life. And because they do, seemingly absurd solutions turn into City Ordinances.

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Nangangarir


Nang magsimula ako magtrabaho, sinabi ko sa sarili ko na magiging Manager ako bago ako mag-30.

Alam kong para sa ibang tao, hindi naging mahirap na maabot ang goal na ito. Pero kung nagtatrabaho ka sa HR, o kahit anong position sa administration o support, sangkatutak na politika at paghihintay ang dapat mong tiisin bago ka mapromote.

Laging sinasabi sa akin na ang HR ay isang calling. Hindi siya basta trabaho. Ika nga, it’s a labor of love. Nilalagay ko lang sa perspective ang lahat para marealize mo na gayong posible, mahirap maabot ang goal na yon.

I consider myself lucky because I’m one of the people who know exactly what they want when it comes to their career. Sa career tayo magfocus kasi everything else about me has not been figured out yet. Hahahahahahaha… (fade to sad face emoticon)

When I left my first agent job, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in HR. I have been working in HR for about six years. In that period, I started as a recruitment associate, doing phone interviews and chasing numbers all day. Less than a year after that I was promoted to Recruitment specialist, handling face to face interviews and assessments. Eventually, I was handling my own accounts.

I moved to a bigger company to get training and after my recruitment project ended, I was introduced to Employee Relations and Organizational Development. I started as an associate, then I was promoted to specialist. Eventually, I was handling Labor Relations.

I had a huge fight with my Manager who scolded me in front of all my team mates. Of course, kahit umiiyak ako, nagdadahilan pa rin ako sa kanya. Sabi ko, “if you feel that I’m standing in the way of the rest of the team then you should let me move to another team. They are asking for me after all.”

Bago kami mag-away nung dati kong manager, she told me that she wanted me to become successful so she was training me to be like her.

Sabi ko, “I don’t want to be like you because I know I can be so much more.”

Yuh, maldita ako sa work. Hahahahahahahaha…(escalate to evil emoticon). Of course, a week later, sinampahan niya ako ng kasong Insubordination at although alam kong hindi niya ako pwedeng iterminate, alam ko lalong hindi ako mapopromote kung makakatanggap ako ng memo. What an asshole move. Matapos ‘to nang promisan niya akong ipopromote niya ako, kaya naloko akong maghandle ng isang buong site (without her supervision, dahil ayaw na ayaw niya sa site na yun dahil matatapang daw yung mga tao). Nagulat na lang ako a month later na may na-hire na pala siya for the position she was promising me. May gana pa siyang sabihing para daw yun may magdefend sa akin, this after nakuha ko na ang loob ng entire site at starlang-starla na ako dun.

I decided to leave that company to pursue a relationship with a start up business, where I was responsible for doing all things HR.

Pero dahil dubious ang kumpanya, at dahil nagka-ilangan kami ng aking estranged jowa na dun din sa start-up company na yun nagtatrabaho, nagresign ako ulit at naging Supervisor dito sa company ko ngayon.

Bongga.

Naalala ko pa kung paano ako maliitin nung ex kong yun dahil Operations Supervisor siya at na-bum ako for two months.

Ngayong sumabog na ang start-up na yon, dahil estafadora pala yung management, sa kangkungan na pinulot si ex. May gana pa siya ngayong kontakin ako. So ginamit ko na lang yung linya niya sa akin dati:

Bakit pa ako tatapak sa basura e ang ganda ganda na ng stilletos ko?

I told the manager who hired me sa trabaho ko ngayon na goal ko talaga maging manager by age of 30 at naghahanap ako ng kumpanya na mabibigay ang opportunity na yun sa akin.

I also want to have tenure, because I’m done with running around.

Ngayong wala na yung manager na yun, andito pa rin ako sa kumpanya. At nalaman ko na lang eventually na I was hired, of all reasons, for my looks.

Hindi ko naman siya masisi.

Anyway, I was being my normal bibo self here sa office. At nadiscover ko na talent ko pala ang magbigay ng bad news at kumontra at mampossess ng mga empleyado without appearing negative or rude. Kahit kasi nagmamaldita ako, hindi pa rin nagagalit sa akin yung minamaldita ko.

Ang tawag daw dun ay CHARM.

Maraming beses na akong nakipag-banggaan sa mga director at ilang beses na rin akong ginawan ng complaint dahil sa mga pagrereklamo ng mga maeepal na boss-bossan dito na hindi sanay na kinokontra sa sarili nilang katangahan.

Meron akong talent: I cannot tolerate bullshit.

At kesehodang kung sino ka pa. Alam kong alam ko kung anong ginagawa ko, at hangga’t mas marami akong alam tungkol sa pinaguusapan nating dalawa, hindi ako magdadalawang-isip na sabihin at ipagtanggol ang puntong yon sa iyo.

Masasabi kong magaling ako sa trabaho ko. At gusto ko yung ginagawa ko. Bihirang masabi ng isang worker yun. Passion ko yata talaga ang maki-alam sa buhay ng ibang tao at ipagtanggol ang tama.

I was able to establish an image of reason, integrity, fairness and of course, BEAUTY. Hahahahahahahaha (fade to soft smile)

So much kong nagalingan ang trabaho ko, na pretty soon, marami nang nakakatunog nito.

Recently, I received an offer from another company. They are asking me to do the exact same thing I’m doing here pero they are willing to give me almost twice what I am currently making.

Ang haba ng hair kong silky.

Siyempre, tinanggap ko yung offer. At nagfile ako ng resignation dito.

Over the past several weeks, kabi-kabila ang mga Executive na kumakausap sa akin para i-convince akong mag-stay. Kinausap ako nung acting General Manager namin nung nakaraang linggo at sinabi niya yung mga plano niya para sa HR. Na ikinatuwa ko naman. Kaya lang, hindi niya pa raw masasabi kung kailan yun mangyayari.

Tapos nung isang araw, kinausap naman ako ng VP na onaks. Isa siya sa mga pinaka-malditang onaks dito sa office. Ganito yung conversation:

Onaks: So, ano? (yes, kaya niyang magstatement nang ganun.)
Ako: Haha, so, ano nga?
Onaks: I heard you were resigning (hanggang “so, ano?” lang ang kaya niya)
Ako: Yes, I gave my letter yesterday.
Onaks: Do you know the top reasons why people leave?
Ako: Uhmm…
Onaks: You should know this.
Ako: It’s usually due to some sort of dissatisfaction. I just don’t think it fits this situation. I like my job. Really, the only reason why I’m picking-
Onaks: I didn’t ask you why you’re picking them. I asked you why people leave. Okay, so there’s three reasons. The first one’s the boss. I don’t think you have a problem with that. The second one I forget. The third one is for money.
Ako: Well, in this case, it is the offer.
Onaks: So what are they offering you?
Ako: *Offer*
Onaks: And how much are you making now?
Ako: *(Offer/2)++*
Onaks: That’s a lot. Now I can’t tell you that we will be able to do something special for you. In the last few months that we have been working together (may project kasi kami) I found you to be very talented. Of course, we want to keep your talent.
Ako: Awww… Thanks (as in, pa-sweet talaga ako nito)
Onaks: And you know how tough I could get.
Ako: Yeah, you’re a bully that’s why.
Onaks: No I’m just tough on the people whom I know can take it.
Ako: Awww…
Onaks: So are you accepting the offer?
Ako: Yes I signed and I start on the 23rd.
Onaks: So obviously I’m looking for a way to keep you. Everything that has been discussed about this I’ve told Onaks 2 (mas powerful na Onaks, no. 2 kay president ng company)
Ako: Yeah, I talked to General Manager (siyempre, first name talaga ginamit ko dito). I’m actually very optimistic about what he has planned.
Onaks: And why is that?
Ako: Because it goes with what we wanted to do as a team all along. The thing is, I don’t know when that’s going to happen. And now something better has come along.
Onaks: So how long are you going to be here for?
Ako: Until the 20th. But I asked for a terminal leave so I can get my stuff fixed. So I’ll have till next week since I have endorsements.
Onaks: Okay. We’ll see, I’m still not done trying to keep you.
Ako: I’m surprised that you’re talking to me about this, actually.
Onaks: And, why is that?
Ako: I don’t know. It just seems like it’s so important.
Onaks: Well, you’re important.
Ako: Thanks…
Onaks: You’re welcome, and you’re not leaving until the project’s done.
Ako: I’m done with it. I’ll give you my recommendation.
Onaks: OK (insert utos here)

Now wheels are turning around me and it seems that they are really making an effort to convince me to stay. Nung pipirmahan na ni GM yung sulat ko, sinabi niya sakin na kung pwede bang bigyan ko muna siya ng isang linggo para mapresent yung plano niya sa Executive Team. Tapos tingnan ko raw kung gusto ko yung gusto niyang mangyari.

E hello, sila-sila kaya yung mga boss.

Nakakaloka.

Never ko inexpect na malalagay ako sa ganitong situation. Feeling ko, pinag-aagawan ako ng mga tao. Ahahahahahahahaha (ang tigas talaga ng fez ko).

Pero siyempre, hindi na sila dapat choosy sa ganun. Kasi kilala ko ang sarili ko at gaya ng appeal ko sa mga boylipops, alam ko ring may kakaiba akong bagsik sa work. Naeembarass nga lang ako magdemand kung tinatanong nila ako kung ano yung magpapa-stay sa akin.

Kasi ang kapal ko naman kung magpress-release akong gawin niyo kong manager at hindi ako lalayas. (Mas gusto ko kasing kusa ‘yong nanggagaling sa kanila)

Ang taray ng work no?

Sana ganyan din ang lovelife…


 

Jade: …I’d definitely want to see you again soon.

Me: I don’t blame you.

Jade: I forgive you.

So this is the upswing. Finally, things started looking up after I settled my finances. I hate to admit it, as I said to Nikki, but money does make you happy. Well, money helps make being happy easier.

Last week spelled an end to the slump that I have been on for a while now. This makes writing difficult so allow me to detail the events prosaically.

I had just finished doing my Performance Review for the first half of the year and boy, have I been working! The form, which didn’t include my manager’s comments was fourteen pages long!!!

On Thursday, I went shopping for something to wear for an interview I was having on Friday. After several hours of going around the mall, I finally found a store that had shoes my size and not juvenile-looking. I got myself a new pair of dark wash jeans which I have been on the search for forever. Say what you want, but Bench jeans are the only jeans that fit me well. I know getting one from Zara or Topman would appeal better to the finnicky tastes of some people I know, but what the heck, I can wear a shirt that I got from the teens section of a department store and make everyone think it’s designer. (I may be exaggerating here)

I broke in my jeans by heading out to Malate by myself. Yes, it was one of those “date-yourself days” that I have from time to time. For effect, I wore a shirt that said “ALONE” in front, and “AGAIN” at the back. It was a very witty shirt and I got it for the rough equivalent of two US dollars, when I went to Bangkok.

I went to a karaoke place I used to go to with the Hasslas (a group of friends I went to Boracay and Puerto with). Since I come here every time I happen to find myself in Malate, the bartender recognized me and cleared a spot for me at the bar. I ordered a cocktail since it wasn’t a beer day and started deliberating if I should pick a song and sing to a group of over-achieving singers.

There were 14 songs in queue, I figured by my turn, I’d be too drunk to care. I downed my drink, picked three songs and ordered another one.

Meanwhile, a guy with slits for eyes was scoping me from a table close to the bar. He looked like an ex of mine who owed me money. I was almost going to ask for it back when I realized that he was Chinese and not Japanese.

He asked me to join his table (he was out with his sister). And I stayed with them until the bar shut down. He was a little drunk and was starting to get argumentative with the cashier. They helped me hail a cab, and right before I got in, Eize (Chinese guy) asked if I wanted to sleep beside him that night. I got in and shut the door right away.

On Friday, I was on time for the interview. It was for a lower post but with a better package. Plus, I get to work with my two best friends and have time to take for a Master’s degree if I wanted. Since the guy who was interviewing me knew me for a long time, the assessment wasn’t so difficult. His only question was, if I really wanted to get that job because there is hardly any upward movement in that company.

See, I set a goal for myself and my career. I told myself that I will become a Manager by the age of 30. I’m going to be 27 in a month. I’m several steps away from that goal if I stay with this company. At the same time, I could pursue a different goal of becoming a Psychologist if I move to the other one.

I received another offer from one of my old bosses who is looking for a supervisor for the company that she is currently country manager of. It’s very promising and I’d really want to explore that as well.

To continue the theme of exploration, I explored the possibility of flinging myself back into the dating scene again (or at least opening myself to the prospect of meeting other people). So last night, I met a guy from UP.

Jade’s first boyfriend is Joel, who is an estranged friend of mine. They were together five or six years ago. He also had a crush on an ex-boyfriend of mine who I lived with for a week.

Cubao Expo at Dusk

He took me to Cubao Expo which is a haven for beatniks, hipsters, hippies, artsy folk and people from UP. In short, this is MY TOWN. I’ve been here before but never with as much people around. People had to queue up before getting in that night because it was “Meiday” and a lot of indie bands were playing.

I bumped into Claren, who I always bump into in very random places (story to follow). And I almost jumped out of my skin seeing that I actually knew someone who was in that sea of people. Claren looked impeccable as usual and was with a guy who looked exactly like him. I introduced him to Jade.

Jade knew a lot of people in Cubao X. So I went around the motions of the “hi’s and hello’s”, “great-to-meet-you’s” and “oh-you-look-familiar-have-we-met-before’s.” He introduced me to one of the finalists from Project Runway Philippines that I had a MAJOR crush on. I didn’t realize it was him at first. I used the third line on him. To be fair, he didn’t mention PRP, I just realized it after Jade brought it up half an hour later.

Now that I think about it, Jade reminded me so much of Jo, my last boyfriend. He was mature, artistic, secure, and not so good looking. I got his jokes and he got mine. We caught each other’s punchlines. He had the same taste in music, the same penchant for judging pretentious people and most glaringly, the same level of touchiness. We would be stopping at several spots around the Cubao X compound and look like a black and white blob. He was all over me. But not in a salacious way.

We were talking about the rain I think when he stole a kiss and walked off to toss his drink down the drain. For a few seconds, I was stunned, caught off-guard. I didn’t know what to make of it. When he came back, I just carried on with the conversation as if nothing happened.

He took me to Future which is the bar below a boutique called the “I Love You Store.” I told him to get me a cocktail and he ordered what would be dubbed as the drink of the week… My Shirota.

My Shirota is a mixture of Korean Soju, Yakult (a fermented milk drink almost every kid I know is addicted to), and Grenadine.

Equals My Shirota

It tasted of every good memory I had as a child. It was very appropriate for the theme of the night. It was sweet and tangy and pink.

After floating around Cubao for several hours we grabbed a bite and decided to sound trip by the curb. It was 3AM and there were blisters the size of nickels on each of my heels (why did I ever not wear socks?) I was so tired but I wanted to float some more. So I decided I’d check into a hotel with Jade.

I asked if he would sleep with me if we slept together. And he told me that he wasn’t sure. I laughed and told him that I didn’t know the answer to that question either.

We slept naked with our arms around each other and we woke up 11 hours later.

We had breakfast and coffee at 4PM and we took the train home after two hours.

I got home and commenced a thirty minute search for my other phone. As I was calling myself and listening intently for the opening verse of Bic Runga’s “Good Morning, Baby,” I pondered on the reasons why the past week was one of the best I had.

Like My Shirota, it was a cocktail blast from the past–a mix of familiar feelings: the satisfaction of a shopping find, the thrill of getting scoped by a stranger, the pride of being sought after by a job instead of the other way around, the excitement of being in the company of beatniks from UP and the tenderness of falling asleep in someone else’s arms.

Taking A Stand


In case you don’t know yet, a big part of my job has to do with meeting people and conducting administrative hearings. I administer discipline so I constantly have to go on meetings to talk about whether a person should be fired from work or not.

Got Wood?

Very serious, nerdy and stressful stuff.

These meetings usually happen at the end of the employees’ shifts so this is around 6AM onwards my time. This is usually the time I’m most active. And by active I mean real attentive, quick-witted, etc. etc.

Early mornings cause my body to awaken, in a way. The sun, softly letting it’s rays into the office window. The air in the morning is a tolerable combination of dew and smog. And since it is the end of the shift, people are excited and generally in a good mood.

That’s all well and good except for one major problem…

My massive boner.

Before the Perv Alert starts wailing in your brain, let me explain.

If you’re a guy, you probably know what I’m talking about. There is a physiological phenomenon called spontaneous erections. It’s a natural process that occurs mostly during puberty (yes, apparently I’m still pubescent, there is hope) or on certain days, when environmental conditions are ideal (and by environment I really mean the weather and nature.)

Since I wear slacks to work, I tend to arrange my junk a certain way so that it does not disrupt the “line” of my silhouette. If you’re a gay guy, you would know what I’m talking about.

I have an obsession about being streamlined. I hate so much when there are things bulging on my pockets (and elsewhere). I make sure that my underwear has enough tucking power to manage certain “things”.

But on busy 6AMs, it’s like someone stuck a vise down there, and I would be at wits end trying to sit a certain way or walk a certain way in the hopes of creating room for my Junjun to breathe. These maneuvers very often do not work, and I’ve had to scoot my seat under the desk and “handle things manually” to keep certain veins from popping and to ensure that bruising does not occur and consequently cause the ultimate demise of my precious gift.

Even then, in addition to ruining my “line,” it ends up hitting my belt buckle, further aggravating the situation.

There have been a number of times when I was called out to do something and I literally would have to count backwards from 30 or think of exposed brains or washing machines or brick walls to get it to subside.

The tragedy is that I feel certain people are already getting wind of this problem. There’s a guy at work who always schedules meetings with me at 6AM or thereabouts and he’s commented on my pants once or twice. (Normally, this would disturb me, but I kind of have a little crush on him so I let it pass.)

One time I was in a 630AM hearing, and it was for performance, I think. So I was asking the employee why he thought his scores were subpar for that period. He was very inaccessible during the session. It was difficult to get a response from him, he just kept looking down. So I said, “please don’t give me a hard time.” Then he smiled real creepy so I looked at the coach right next to me, crossed my legs and wrapped up the session.

I had to pretend writing something down as they were leaving the room because I couldn’t get up off my seat.

I bet 40 years from now I wish I would have this problem. The thing is, it’s just real bad timing right now. Plus, it hurts!!!

I haven’t gone to the laundry yet so I used up all my support underwear. Today I’m wearing boxerbriefs.

Note to self: Clear schedule from 6AM-7AM.

Roo


I was blog-hopping to increase some traffic into my wordpress blog.

Yes, WordPress has a feature that ticks off my competitive/obsessive nature… BlogStats. It’s a horrendous affirmation of my need for attention. Yuck, I am such a three-year old.

credits to Angel: http://curiousanimals.net/

So I did something that really helped out. I joined a blog community. And I started posting links on my Facebook Wall.

Sad to say, the weekly assignments were suspended (after the week I joined) so my blog has been in the dark for a bit.

So I was hopping. Nyl, who’s a trainer from work has a blog in Blogger. And Nikki’s been telling me that I should check it out. So I did. He’s done so well already. Nyl’s a good writer. He writes nice fictional stories.

As you can see so far, my prosaic skills leave much to be desired. I’m not a very good storyteller. I like to write poetry though because it comes more naturally to me, and because I like rules and going around them.

So I checked out Nyl’s followers and I was clicking on the links to the other guys’ blogs and I sort of got disheartened.

I mean, I enjoyed their blogs. They made me feel queasy and voluptuous (see, that I got from Anne Rice). But they were mostly about hot sex!!!

My mother reads my blog from time to time. And I don’t think she will appreciate prosaic accounts of my “gallivanting” floating around the internet. I have posted some of those before, but they always turned out to be jarring. (I use poetry to talk about sex, so I can always tell her, that it’s just “poetry.”)

And I feel that if I posted articles like that, it wouldn’t have the same effect other people’s accounts would.

I’m terribly insecure about myself.

I feel that when people read my sex stories it would be like they’re watching an accident happen, or a fire in progress. It’s interesting, but so… pitiful/sad/painful.

You know when a guy gets run over by a truck in the highway and cars slow down because they’re oddly attracted to the gore? That’s how they’d probably feel.

Of late, I have had not a lot of sex adventures. (Somewhere in California, my mother is thanking the Lord)

See, I’m not necessarily a looker.

I mean, people only get attracted to me after I get their attention. I’m not the kind of person that steps into the room and has a “presence”. I feel a little sad about that. But I feel stupid for not doing anything about it. And of course, the moment I open my mouth, all thoughts of sex vanish from everyone else’s mind (Oh my God, a successful IRONY).

Sometimes, I wish my life were more relatable. I wish I was more… into the gay scene. I wish I never lost touch with the people I used to hang out with in Malate. Oh, I would have flourished in the drama of it all.

But then I realize, there is a reason I left all that. There is a reason I built a wall around me to anesthesize myself, to create my own experiences, no matter how unsuccessful they were.

I couldn’t stand being a brick.

I couldn’t stand only writing about sexcapades, and drunken nights, and popularity contests. They’re all very entertaining, I agree. But I was constantly looking for something else.

I’m happy though that in my wandering, I found that there are people out there like me.

The key, I found, to make the world better, is not to stop at the first sight you see and make a judgement about everything.

So I’m still hop(p)ing.

I’m Here Now


Anniversary namin ni Day kahapon.

Okay, technically, hindi naman kami. Pero napagkasunduan namin (meaning, ininsist ko sa kanya) na anniversary talaga namin ang June 27. Yun kasi ang unang beses na nag-usap kami ever. Sabi ko sa kanya na dapat magdate kami ng June 27, pero since Pride Parade nung sabado at dahil 7PM na siya umuwi kinabukasan, at aaminin ko, hindi rin ako umalis ng bahay, hindi kami natuloy.

Medyo naoverwhelm nga ako ng kaunti sa nagdaang weekend. Kasi, dahil sobrang galing kong mag-cyberstalk, nahanap ko yung profile nung unang lalaking naka-date ko ever. Ang aking pers lab. Oo, siya yung sinulat ko dito dati. Na naging dahilan kung bakit ako naging sappy writer for a while. Ang sukatan ng lahat ng lalaking nakadate ko since (pero napalitan na yata yung standard ko mula nang maging kami ni Jo, huwaw… o Bub, gusto mo yun?).

Anyway, sobrang nagpapaka-nonchalant ako about the whole experience. Pero minessage niya ako sa Facebook tapos midconversation, tumawag siya sa telepono, at slight nagpanic ako at nalagay ko sa call waiting tapos hindi ko na alam kung paano ko siya babalikan kasi never naman akong nagcacall waiting ever, kaya dinrop ko yung call tapos tinawagan ko ulit siya. Yes, may ganung clumsy drama na nangyari.

Dun ko napagtanto na may kurot pa rin pala sa puso ang nakaraan.

Tapos medyo nabuwisit ako kasi nung tinitingnan ko yung mga fotos niya sa Facebook eh nakita kong hindi nagdiminish ang ka-cute-an niya. In fact, ang sexy sexy niya na ngayon. At mukhang bakla na talaga siya (as opposed to the conflicted bicurious self he was nung una kaming magdate).

So obviously, nagsound na naman ang mga chimes sa brain ko. Tapos slight nagdream ako na baka kaya niya ako kinocontact ngayon ay dahil gusto niya na kami bigyan ng second try. Na medyo kina-upset ko, kasi I was doing so great not needing to have someone in my life, tapos biglang eto na naman si ultimate “The One” at gusto ko na naman yata ng happily ever after.

Tapos naalala ko na ako pala ang nagstalk sa kanya. So na-cancel out lahat ng daydream.

Si Stephen, Heartbreaker ng HongKong

Bago ako bumalik sa “what if- what if” at “I wonder – I wonder”, e mabilis ko nang pinigilan ang sarili ko. Ngayon ko lang nakikita ang value ng “if it’s meant to be… or not to be, that is the question.”

Nireview ko ang nakaraan at ang history ko sa mga ganitong uri ng interaction. Napansin ko na tuwing may gusto akong makatuluyan ay bigla kong iniiwan ang sarili ko sa ere at hinahayaan kong mahulog ang sarili ko sa isang imaginary kumunoy. As in “dive”–no, more like “plummet”. Kung hopeless romantic kang gaya ko, alam kong alam mo yung feeling na yun: na lumalaki nang sobra yung object of your affection tapos nagkakaroon siya ng sobrang lakas na gravity, at kahit na tumatakbo ka palayo e wala ka ring choice kundi magrevolve at magrevolve sa kanya (may centripetal force).

Wait…

kailangan natin ng moment para ma-appreciate yung image na yun. Ang witty kasi…

Okay, moment over.

So after almost five years, e ngayon ko lang talaga narealize na alam ko na ang dapat gawin sa mga ganitong sitwasyon. At feeling ko, dahil matanda na ako, alam ko na na minsan kung alam ko kung anong tamang gawin e dapat yun ang gawin ko.

So bago pa siya tuluyang lumaki (ulit) e pinili ko nang bigyan ang sarili ko ng isang matinding dose of reality.

To reinforce the message, nanood ako ng “He’s Just Not That Into You” kanina. At naalala kong crush ko nga pala si Justin Long.

Naisip kong ang pakikipagrealsyon ay hindi isang hunting expedition. Rather, dapat mo siyang gawing fishing trip.

Sure, kailangan mong mag-exert ng effort. Sure, kailangan mo ng bait, kailangan mo ng line, kailangan mo ng hook, ng sinker, at ng fabulous na fishing outfit, pero pagna-cast mo na yung line, keri na yun. Wait, wait ka na dapat ng bite. Walang sense na sisirin mo yung sapa tapos manually mong isukbit yung pain sa bibig nung fish. Dahil ang tawag doon ay hindi fishing kundi overkill.

Sobrang guilty ako sa ganyan.

Which brings me to the next kuwento…

Saturday night ang birthday party ni Jeremy sa Cubao. 8:30 ang party pero siyempre, 10PM na ako dumating kasi ayaw ko naman maging atat. Dumating ako sa isang party ng mga fresh grad na never ko pang nameet. Mabuti na lang at nandun na si Micay at si Toni, na parehong, naeewan din sa mga kaganapan. Contrary to my past experiences in reference to Jeremy’s house parties, medjo droll at honestly, slightly irritating ang party na ito.

Pagpasok ko pa lang ay binati ko na si Jeremy. “Happy birthday!” quieme, na may absence ng usual touchiness. E mesyo busy na siya kaka-ayos ng mga sheeznit so pumunta na lang ako malapit kay Micay para maka-catch up kami ng konti. So pagdating ko, umuulan na ng compliments from Micay. “Bakit ang guwapo mo ngayon?”, “Ang cute,cute naman ng outfit mo.” “Uy, grabe namiss kita.”

Sinegundahan pa yun ni Toni (ang bestfriend ni Jeremy) na super nagpapaka-social butterfly. So parang, ooo–kaaayyy (something’s fishy), sabi nila kain na daw ako. Sabi ko naman, wait lang, iinom lang ako konti muna.

I was asking them about the pink drink they served me, sabi ni Micay, si Migs daw gumawa nun. I was like, “sinong Migs?” tapos speechless na si Micay.

In reality, may idea na ako kung sino si Migs, kasi si Day, na hari ng mga cyberstalkers, ay inaasar ako dahil magkamukha daw kami nun.

Finally, sinabi rin ni Toni na si Migs na ang boyfriend ni Jeremy. Nagpause ako for a change… sabay sabi ng “Ah, ganun…” tapos kumain na ako.

The whole night, ni minsan, di ko naka-interact si Migs. Dahil kahit may opportunity, di ko naman alam ang sasabihin ko. I mean, di naman protocol na mag-catch up kami diba? After all, hindi nga ako inintroduce ni Jeremy sa kanya.

I decided to leave early kasi dead na yung party at frankly, hindi na ako interesado magstay dahil nagbibuild na yung awkwardness, especially after Jeremy told our group na ine-alienate daw namin yung mga friends ni Migs. Ayoko ng drama. Sayang ang outfit ko. At nasesense kong mababadtrip lang ako. So I left.

I said goodbye to Jeremy and gave him an awkward hug (he was getting something from the cooler kasi). I don’t know what to make of it. Pero for a change, I just want to keep it that way. There’s no point over-analyzing. I’ve been doing that forever and it’s got me nowhere.

Kagabi, nagpost ako sa Facebook ng status message:

“There are two things that the past can do with equal intensity: show you how much you’ve changed, and show you how exactly the same you are.”

Original yang quote na yan. Hahahaha…

At kaya ko naisip yun kasi totoo naman talaga siya. Pero ang mas mahalagang lesson diyan ay habang nagkakaroon ka ng maraming past (meaning, kung nagmamature ka), ay dapat nadidistinguish mo na rin kung ano ba sa mga changes ang dapat mong i-retain at kung ano bang sameness ang gusto mong i-leave behind.

I have always asked myself, why it was difficult for others to see how great I am. I mean, a lot of people can see it plainly. You guys do, right? (Huwaw, major Fishing!!!) but never the ones I wanted to show myself to.

Then I realized, it was never about them really. It was about me. Sometimes, pinapackage natin yung sarili natin para magustuhan tayo ng iba. Hindi natin napapansin na in the times when we’re not looking, other people see us and they like the view… a lot.

June 27 ang anniversary namin ni Day. And he happens to be one of the people who see me when I’m not looking. And like me… a lot.

I figured, whatever the past does, there’s always something that ties it to the present. It’s the fact that I was there, and I’m here now. And the distance between the two is completely under my control. It’s taken several years for me to come to this point when I can look at the past and see it for what it is: a series of memories.

There’s no sense living my life holding on to the things that I wanted to have in the past. There’s no sense dwelling on the “what if’s” and “I wonder’s.” Those things were never real, and there’s no guarantee that they will ever be real.

I’m here now.

No Private Reading


 

I can’t recall exactly, but it has been almost 6 years when I declared myself to be an Agnostic.

Last night, after several weeks of begging, Dunhill and I finally made it to church. (Yes, folks, people like me don’t flare up upon entering holy places. Although I was anticipating it a little bit.)

I was late. As usual. But I knew it was okay with God. So I got in right after the communion and smack in the middle of Worship time (this is the part where the church sings.)

Now I used to be really, really active in church: to the point even of going to missions and evangelizing. I have preached a few sermons too, which is an achievement considering I was just starting University.

I’m quite sure it was disillusionment that caused me to renounce my church several years ago, much to my mother’s dismay. But I can say that I’ve maintained a sense of spirituality (self-defined, of course) which ironically, has led me to the events of last night.

Anyhoo, while listening to the band (having a band at church was unheard of in the congregation I used to belong to since all worship should be done a capella and without the aid of any man-made instrument) I had goosebumps. It was probably due to the awkwardness of the situation and the fact that there was a devotee standing right in front of me, arms outstretched and in the verge of a trance.

This desire to come to church actually began almost a month ago. I woke up at around 5AM one Saturday and cleaned house. I just felt an overwhelming desire to listen. It was like the Universe was trying to tell me something and I felt that I would hear it in church.

I know how incredibly fanatical that sounds… trust me.

It so happened that I was playing a record from Incubus as I was cleaning house and then it went…

“Remember that we’ll always have each other, when everything else is gone…”

That’s Brandon Boyd wailing the lyrics to “Dig” which I felt was the message that the Universe was trying to send me at that specific moment in time.

I responded with a well of tears… of course.

Flash forward to a month later, it is Saturday and due to some last minute cancellation, I end up in Starbucks with Dunhill. By this time, we had both agreed that I will attend church. If you know me, you know that I panic over things that I have absolutely no control over. I am a closet basketcase. So it was very important for me to set ground rules with Dunhill, in case something goes awry with my little reunion with God.

I had already told him how long it was since I last went to church and that I take this attendance really, really seriously, to the point that I KNEW, that there would definitely be tears.

Dunhill has never seen me emotional in person. He would just hear me cry over the phone. And I wasn’t quite sure how he’d feel about it, since a lot of people get alienated when other people get affected by that to their face (case in point, outstretched-arms-semi-trance girl from par.6).

So I told him strictly that it was going to be a very personal service for me and I wouldn’t mind if he pretended he wasn’t with me at all.

So the band was singing, the girl was almost going to pass out, and I find my goosebumped self in the verge of crying too. Then this guy comes up the stage and begins to read this passage…

“The Lord is righteous in all His ways
and loving toward all He has made

“The Lord is near to all who call on Him,
to all who call on Him in truth.”

-Psalm 145:17,18

And my tear ducts turned to geysers and I was trying so hard to keep my head still so no one from behind me (including Dunhill) would notice that I was exhibiting emotions outwardly. I was biting my lip, pinning my hands and stopping my nose from twitching or sniffing, and the tears just rolled and rolled down my face, up my nose, down my neck.

Oh… it was horrible…

And fabulous.

Then without giving me time to recuperate, the Worship part ended and everyone sat down. I didn’t have a seat since I was late so everyone turned around to look for theirs and set themselves ready and I was standing there, blotched face and tear streams and all.

And at that point I wished that God knew SMS, because he really didn’t need to send me the Universe’s message like this.

So I grabbed Dunhill and told him that he had to take me to the bathroom quick because I was unravelling. And he probably felt odd about the whole situation because he just pointed me to the thing and left me to go by myself.

I sat through the sermon, which, I’m sorry pastor, I didn’t care for very much. And then the whole thing ended. I was a little disappointed that Dunhill didn’t do a post-game analysis with me, because he just sent me out into the world right after what was virtually a life-changing experience.

Since I didn’t bring my smokes (in fear that the church would smite me) I went to a convenience store and bought a pack and smoked the whole thing off. I was walking down the road to what I thought would be a coffee shop but I ended up on the wrong street which happens to be where the red light district is. It was dank and smelly and reeked of, well, sin. And I struggled if I felt alienated or at home in that row of blinking lights.

Then the raindrops started falling and it was beginning to be a tropical rainshower so I hop on the next jeepney to get to the mall where I was going to have dinner. But since there was a flash flood (in under 10 minutes!) the driver decided to go around the regular route away from the mall and I had to get off at a stop which was several blocks away.

So I was stuck in that little store for a good hour, and there’s only so much you can do in such a small space, in such a long time, so I grab a TIME from the magazine stand and browse a little. After what seemed like a half hour, the security guard comes up to me in a very audible whisper…

“Boss, bawal magbasa dito.” (Boss, reading is not allowed here.)

And it hit me right now. It was another message.

I was seriously contemplating whether I would attend church again. Then I thought it over and over and over, till now, when I started writing this. And it dawned on me, I left the church and became agnostic because I read too much into what other people had to say about my relationship with God, a relationship I have learned to redefine for myself.

I was reading into what other people thought of me, and what they would think of me and how I want to live my life.

As I extricated myself from the convenience store after being embarassed by the guard, I stood under an awning for a while, trying to keep the rain and flood water from my shoes.

The Universe is sending me a message.

This is the part where you listen.

Reading is not allowed here.

On Building a Family


 

Having no legislation for gay marriage in the country, I am faced with a crossroad in my life. I am a 26 year old gay man with a stable career, a home, and the emotional stability required to start and build a family. The problem: how does a gay guy build a family?

If you belong to a progressive culture, this question hardly seems a connundrum at all. It would have a more existential effect, in a way of speaking.

I know that a lot of gay men like me dream of having a traditional family structure, where there are parents and probably children. However, the gay culture in my community seems to have resigned to the fact that gay men are destined to linger in a sort of relationship limbo. It’s not very uncommon to find that the gay couples who have lasted a long time have morphed into open relationships.

It’s a tragedy that some people think that infidelity is an unavoidable consequence of being gay.

I have no delusions that this challenge does not exist in straight relationships. However, there is less of a stigma that comes with infidelity among homosexual relationships. After all, if you view homosexuality as unnatural then infidelity isn’t so far down the slippery slope.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and I told her how much I wanted to settle down already. I want to invest in a family. Ever since I understood myself, I realized that I was meant to be a homemaker. In high school, I was Secretary of my school’s chapter of Future Homemakers of the Philippines (FHP). (Yes, I’m also a geek.)

Now how does having legislation solve my problem?

It doesn’t.

But having legislation will allow other gays to be able to visualize that possibility for them. Well, not really, because people don’t make rules for things they can’t even visualize yet.

All I want, as any person does, is to have a home to come to at the end of the day and have someone there that I want to take care of. Someone I chose. Someone who also chose me. I want to be able to give that person all the attention and all the care that I have learned to develop as Secretary of FHP.

That seems to be a long shot. Right now, the best thing that I can take care of is a plant. A plant can outlive you. A plant won’t cheat on you and best of all, a plant won’t leave.

Good thing we had gardening in FHP.

Phase 3


“Sa Phase 3”
“Special na?”

Tumango si Sid sabay sakay ng tricycle, aabutin na siya ng umaga kung maghihintay pa siya ng kasabay na Phase 3 din. Lecheng long call kasi yan, OT ng 30minutes, may coaching pa kay TL. Quarter to three na.

Kung malaki lang ang kita sa pagsusulat di na sana siya magtitiis sa pakikinig sa sangkatutak na mura ng mga bobong kanong hindi marunong gumamit ng internet.

All in a days work. Mabuti na lang at may natirang beer sa ref. Bakit ba kasi ang layo pa ng Phase 3? Naglabas si Sid ng Marlboro Green mula sa sling bag niya at nagsindi, well, sinubukan niya. Pero wala pala siyang talent magsindi ng yosi against the wind. Hayup, yosi na nga lang ang kunswelo niya hindi pa maibigay. Malayo pa ang Phase 3, matagal pa ang hihintayin bago makapagsindi ng yosi.

Nangangawit na ang mga labi ni Sid sa pag-ipit sa sigarilyo habang hawak ang lighter sa kanang kamay. Naghihintay ng tiyempong bumagal nang kaunti ang takbo ng tricycle.

May kulang sa tricycle na ito– black light… at pinoy rap na dumadagundong. Pati yung nakasabit na “God Bless Our Trip”. Sa halip isang malaking rearview mirror ang nasa harapan niya–yung convex. Sa ilaw ng mga posteng nadadaanan nila, kitang kita ni Sid ang namamaga niyang mga mata.

“Hay, kung sana love life ang sanhi ng mga eyebags na’to. E di worth it.”
“Ha?”, sigaw ng tricycle driver.
“Hmm?”

Bumagal nang bahagya ang takbo ng tricycle.

“Kaliwa?”
“Ha? Hindi.”

Sa wakas nasindihan din ni Sid ang yosing nakababad sa labi niya. Magandang excuse para itago ang pagkapahiya.

“Akala ko kasi ako kausap mo e.”
“Ah, hindi.”

Tiningnan ni Sid ang driver sa side mirror ng motor. Nakangiti ito sa kanya. Naramdaman ni Sid na uminit ang mga pisngi niya.

“Call center ka?”
Tumango si Sid.
“Ganitong oras ka lagi umuuwi?”
Tumango si Sid ulit kahit hindi yun totoo. Nakakapagod magpaliwanag sa umaandar na tricycle.

Tiningnan muli ni Sid ang mukha ng driver sa salamin at naisip niyang hindi bagay sa binatang ito ang trabaho niya. Napangiti si Sid sa sarili sabay hithit ng sigarilyo. Hmm, something in common. Nakangiti rin ang binata sa salamin.

“Kanan diyan…
“Sa tabi na lang.” Nag-abot si Sid ng singkwenta pesos at naghanda nang bumaba.

Dumukot sa bulsa ang binatang driver. Sa kabila. Dumukot siya sa beltbag na nakasabit sa manubela ng motor. Walang barya.

“Boss, wala ka bang trenta? Buo rin pala natira. Pagarahe na kasi ako e.”

Dami namang paliwanag nito. Naisip ni Sid na baka dinudugas siya ng driver. “Sayang, pogi ka pa naman. Di bagay sayo maging manggagantso,” bulong ni Sid sa sarili. Napangiti na naman siya. At nahuli siya ng driver sa salamin. Ngumiti din ito.

“Sige, saka mo na lang ako bayaran.” Inabot ng driver ang singkwenta kay Sid.
“Nye, parang magkikita pa tayo.”
“Bakit lilipat ka na ba?”
“Engot, siyempre di ko naman alam kung kelan tayo mag-aabot.”
“Ano?”
“Sabi ko, alangan namang hintayin mo ako bukas.”
“Hahaha. Anong tinawag mo sa’kin?”
“Engot?”
“Hahahahaha.”
“Abnormal…”
“Hahahahaha. Palabiro ka pala.
“Sige na. Nakaboundary naman na ko.”

Naasiwa si Sid sa nangyayari, hindi siya sanay na nakakalibre.

“Sige kuya, keep the change.”
“Nako, hindi na. Sige na, magkikita pa naman tayo.” Kinuha ng driver ang kamay ni Sid at nilagay dito ang pera.
“Hala, nako kuya ha, hinahawakan mo na ko.”
“Hahaha. Kanina mo pa nga ako tinitingnan sa side mirror, e.”

Napahiya na naman si Sid. Pinitik niya ang yosi at lumabas ng tricycle. Iniwan niya ang singkwenta pesos sa upuan ng tricycle at naglakad papunta sa gate. Agad niya itong binuksan at pumasok. Kinapa niya sa loob ng sling bag ang susi ng bahay.

“Uy! Uy, binibiro lang kita ha.” Bumaba ang driver sa tricycle at pumunta sa gate.

“Hmpf, alam ko. Nako kuya, hindi mo ako madadaan sa ganyan. Hindi ako naghahanap ng callboy.”
“Ha? Uy hindi ako pumapatol sa bakla no.”
“Ewan ko lang ha. Puwes hindi rin ako pumapatol sa lalaki.”
“Ha? Sorry, hindi ka ba bakla? My bad…”

“My bad?” Hindi nga yata tricycle driver ito. Baka nautusan lang. Baka siya talaga yung anak nung operator. Baka tricycle lang yun ng kaibigan niya. Nagswimming ang utak ni Sid sa dami ng posibilidad.

Nahanap din ni Sid ang susi. Binuksan niya ang pinto ng bahay at binuksan ang ilaw ng sala.

“Akala ko kasi bakla ka. Pasensya na ha.” Malakas na sambit ng driver mula sa gate.
“Bakla talaga ko kuya. Di lang ako pumapatol sa hindi rin bakla… o sige na.” Nilapag ni Sid ang gamit sa sofa at lumabas muli upang isara ang gate.

“Ikaw lang mag-isa?”
“Oy, kuya, kung may binabalak ka wag mo nang ituloy. Bakla ako pero marunong ako manapak.” Hawak na ni Sid ang tarangkahan.
“Ha? Anong balak? Nakikipag-usap lang naman ako. Ang sungit naman nito.”
“Ewan. Hindi naman tayo close.” Sinarado niya ang gate at pumasok na sa bahay.

Nagpalit ng tsinelas si Sid at nagpunta sa kusina. Binuksan niya ang ref. Tubig. Tubig. Isang itlog na natira mula sa binili niya nung nakaraang linggo. At apat na SanMig light. Sinarado niya ang ref at nagtungo sa sala para kunin ang notebook na palagi niyang dala sa bag. Binasa ni Sid ang mga naisulat niya kanina habang nagyoyosi break. Ang cheesy, ang corny. Ang juvenile.

Ilang minuto na, hindi pa rin naririnig ni Sid na umalis ang tricycle. Sa normal na pagkakataon, maaalarma siya. Ikakandado niya ang pintuan ng bahay at magpapatay ng ilaw. Pero iba ang isang ‘to. Bukod sa masyado siyang cute para maging tricycle driver, mukhang interesado rin siyang makipagkilala. Nag-alinlangan si Sid nang kaunti pero agad rin siyang kumuha ng sigarilyo at lighter at lumabas sa may gate. Naroon pa nga ang tricycle at ang driver nito. Mukhang naghihintay.

“Nasiraan ka ba?”
“Ha? Hindi.”
“E bakit dito ka nakaparada, hindi naman ‘to parking lot?”
“E ayaw ko pang umalis e. Bawal ba? Wala namang tao dito sa kalsada.”
“Akala ko ba gagarahe ka na?”
“Naalala mo yun?”
“Ewan.”
“Haha, pikon ka pala no? Saka ang lakas mo magyosi. Alam mo bang hindi maganda yan?”
“Makialam ba? Bakit hindi ka ba nagyoyosi?”
“Nagyoyosi, ano bang niyoyosi mo?”
“Green.”
“Penge naman.”
“Hala, tambay?”
“Kusa ka namang lumabas a. Nananahimik ako dito e.”

Hinagis ni Sid ang kaha ng sigarilyo sa driver. “Ibalik mo sa akin yan ha.”

“Isa lang. Damot.” Lumapit ang driver sa gate upang makisindi. Sabay abot ng kaha ng sigarilyo. Sinindihan ni Sid ang yosi habang subo ito ng driver. Naalala ni Sid ang nabanggit sa kanya ng isang kaibigan dati, kapag nakikisindi ka ng sigarilyo, dapat tinitingnan mo sa mata ang taong nagsindi nito para sa iyo. Smoking etiquette. Naibuga na ng driver ang usok ng una niyang hithit, hawak pa rin ni Sid ang lighter na nakasindi.

“Uy. Masusunog ka na.” Hinipan ng driver ang apoy ng lighter. Muntik nang dumapo ang labi nito sa kamay ni Sid.

“Parang lumulutang utak mo palagi no?”
“Ha? Hindi, hobby ko lang talaga mag-isip.”
“Ah… Andy.”
“Ha?”
“Sabi ko ako si Andy. You are?”
“Ah, Sid.” Nagkamay ang dalawa sa pagitan ng mga grills ng gate.
“Nice to meet you Sid.”
“Likewise.” Nagkakamay pa rin ang dalawa.
“Uy, nagpapahawak na siya.”
“Leche.” Agad bumitaw si Sid at naramdaman na namang namumula ang kanyang mga pisngi.
“Nakakatuwa ka naman. Parang ang sweet mo.”
“Nako ewan ko ha. Malandi ka.” Sinagot ito ni Andy ng makulit na ngiti. Kanina, pogi lang si Andy, pero gumagwapo pala siya kapag nakangiti.

Mahaba at medyo kumukulot pataas ang eyelashes niya. Parang medyo Bumbayin. Pero hindi yung Bumbay na may turban na nagpapautang. Yung Bumbay na malinis tingnan: mukhang artista, parang yung bida sa Heroes, hindi maitim pero hindi rin maputi. Parang caramel yung balat. Caramel, tapos yung pilikmata parang sa camel.
Mahaba ang pilikmata ng camel para hindi siya mapuwing pag may sandstorm sa disyerto. Totoo yun, napanood ni Sid sa Animal Planet. At yung humps ng camel nadedeflate kapag gutom na siya.

Nakakadiri yung itsura ng deflated na hump ng camel, parang… hindi scrotum. Well, parang scrotum pero upside down, so mas mukhang malungkot.

Kaya dapat hindi ginugutom o inuuhaw ang camel. Para laging masaya yung humps niya. Pero minsan lang naman required kumain ang camel. Di naman yun parang baka na araw-araw mong kailangan pakainin ng feeds.

Parang nabasa rin ni Sid dati na ang mga tao, pag three weeks nang di kumakain mamamatay na. Tapos pag three days hindi uminom ng tubig mamamatay din. Tapos three minutes na hindi huminga… kakapusin.

Naku, hindi pala ako marunong mag-CPR saka mouth to mouth resuscitation–

“Uy, lumulutang ka na naman.” Hirit ni Andy sabay wasiwas ng kamay sa mukha ni Sid.
“Gusto mong uminom?”
“Tubig?”
“Pwede, meron din akong Light. Tira nung nakaraan.”
“Ayos lang ba?”
“Aalukin ba kita kung hindi? Binuksan ni Sid ang gate at pinatuloy si Andy sa kanyang bahay.

“Pasensya na medyo makalat.” paumanhin ni Sid habang pinapark ang yosi sa ashtray sa lamesa.
“Oo nga.”
Natigilan si Sid, pinandilatan niya ng mata ang hirit na ‘yon ng bago niyang kakilala.
“Haha, loko lang. Ayos lang yun ‘no.”
“O, wag kang maghubad ng tsinelas, ano ka ba? Hindi ako nagwawalis,” sabi ni Sid habang papunta sa kusina para kumuha ng inumin.
“Malinis naman e. Paupo ha.”
“Bahala ka sa buhay mo. Uy, gusto mo ba ng tubig o beer na agad?”
“Ikaw.”
“Ano?” Sumilip si Sid mula sa kusina, hindi dapat iniiwan mag-isa ang bisita. Lalo kapag hindi mo pa kakilala. Mahirap na. Madaling hinanap ni Sid ang bottle opener sa drawer at nagdala ng dalawang bote ng beer. Hindi niya na binuksan.
“Sabi ko, ikaw na bahala.” Pinagmamasdan ni Andy ang notebook na nakalapag sa coffee table. Pinark niya rin ang yosi sa ashtray at umayos ng kaunti sa sofa. Nakaderecho ang upo niya, mga arm’s length ang layo mula sa nakatiwangwang na sling bag ni Sid. Parang naghihintay sa labas ng Guidance Office.
“Ano’ng tinitingnan mo?”
“Sa’yo ‘to?” Dinampot ni Andy ang notebook.
Agad nilapag ni Sid ang mga dala sa lamesa. “‘Wag mong bubuksan!” Hinablot ni Sid ang notebook mula kay Andy.
“Nagtatanong lang… ano ba’ng laman niyan? Diary?”
“Ang dami mong tanong. Buksan mo na lang yung bote.”
“Nagyeyelo pa ‘to a.”
“Gusto mo upuan ko?” Sarcastic na sagot ni Sid.
“Hahaha… ano ‘to itlog?”
Natigilan ang dalawa. Nagkatinginan, at sabay na humagalpak sa tawa.

“Ang baboy mo.”
“O bakit? Inuupuan naman talaga yung itlog para mainitan a.” Nagpipigil ng tawa si Andy. Namumula ang mga pisngi niya.

Lord, sana hindi siya serial killer.

“Ewan.”
“Lagi mainit ulo mo?”
“Huh? Di naman mainit ulo ko a.”
“Di mainit pero ang taas ng boses mo. O eto na beer niyo, sir–este — ma’am.”
“Nako wag na wag mo kong tatawaging ma’am. Masaya ko sa pagiging bakla ‘no. Ayaw ko magpaka-girl.”
“Galit ka na naman?”
“E gusto ko lang linawin na hindi ako tulad ng ibang bakla pinapatulan mo. Wala akong mga illusions. Kaya nga bakla din ang hinahanap ko.”
“Bakit mo naman naisip na pumapatol ako sa bakla?”
“E nagpapa-cute ka nga sa’kin, ‘no.”
“Nagpapabola ka naman.”
“Bakit? Sinabi ko bang nagwo-work?”
Napangiti na naman si Andy, “uy, di ako pumapatol sa bakla, ‘no.”
“Style mo…” Tingnan natin kung hindi magbago ang stand mo sa issue na ‘yan. “O sige nga, kung hindi ka talaga pumapatol sa bakla, bakit ka nandito? Bakit ka umiinom ng beer ng bakla? Umuupo sa sofa ng bakla? Nakikipag-usap sa bakla?”
“Bakit, patol na ba ‘yun sa’yo? Saka, ang dami-dami kong nakikitang bakla diyan sa pilahan, no. Siyempre masasanay din ako.”
“So, sumasama ka rin sa kanila?”
“Hindi. Bakit naman ako sasama?”
“E bakit naghihintay ka sa labas ng gate ko?”
“Wala lang.”
Bet yata ako nitong si kuya Trike. “Hmpf, and dami mong press release. Paabot naman ng bag.”
Inayos ni Andy ang takip ng bag ni Sid at iniabot ito sa kanya.

“Urong ka naman konti, pwede naman akong umupo di ba?” Step one. Nilagay ni Sid ang bag sa kanan niya, kaya’t napapagitnaan siya nito at ni Andy sa kabilang side. Inilapit niya ang sarili kay Andy at huminga ng malalim. Sinusubukan ni Sid na maamoy si Andy. Isang technique na namaster habang naglalakad sa mall ‘pag may nakakasalubong siyang cute.

Umurong si Andy hanggang sa dulo ng sofa, binibigyan ng space si Sid.

“Hindi ka mabaho, ha.”
“Inaamoy mo ‘ko? Pawis na ko e.”
“Hindi ka nga mabaho. Anong pabango mo?”
“Hindi ako nagpapabango.”
“Nagdedeodorant ka naman?”
“Ha? Ano bang tanong ‘yan?”
“Wala, ang weird lang kasi hindi ka amoy tricycle driver.”
“Hahahahaha, bakit ano ba’ng amoy ng tricycle driver?”
“Ewan, amoy motor oil? Malay ko.” Sinundot ni Sid ang tagiliran ni Andy.
“Uy, ano ba?” Lumipat si Andy sa upuan sa kaliwa ng sofa.
Step two.
“Inaamoy mo lahat ng nagpupunta sa bahay mo?”
“Hindi,” mariing sagot ni Sid
“E bakit mo ko inaamoy?”
“Huh? Hello, naamoy lang kita. Accident yun no. Feeling ka masyado.”
“Whooo, siguro marami kang dinadala dito ‘no?”
“Hoy, judgmental ka. At ano namang paki mo? Naiinggit ka?”
“Hmp, naiinggit? Bakit naman ako maiinggit?” Uminom si Andy ng beer.
Denial. Step three.

“Shit, nakalimutan kong may yosi pala ko. Naubos tuloy,” lumagok ng beer si Sid.
“Ayan, kung anu-ano kasi iniisip mo.” Hinithit ni Andy ang yosi niya at pinatay ito sa ashtray.
Hindi nilalapag ni Sid ang bote ng beer, instead pinaglalaruan niya ito at hinimas-himas. Nabasa ni Sid ang move na ‘to sa Cosmo’s 10 Subtle Ways to Get a Man’s Attention.
“Nababasa ka na.”
“Ha?!” Biglang tumingin si Sid sa pundiyo ng pantalon niya. Sa may kaliwang hita, may bakas ng tubig na tumutulo mula sa gilid ng malamig na bote.
“Tumutulo yung beer mo.”
“Ang dami mong napapansin.” Akalain mong totoo pala yung sinasabi sa magazine? At dahil diyan, step four. Nilapag ni Sid ang bote sa lamesa at pinunas ang mga kamay sa pantalon.
“Ewan, observant lang siguro talaga ako.”
“Observant?” Isang unexpected expression na naman ang narinig ni Sid. Something’s fishy here.

“Sa inyo ba yung tricycle na minamaneho niyo?” Simula na ng interview.
“Hindi. Hinihiram ko lang yan.”
“Ah, matagal ka nang nagtatricycle?”
“Mga two years. Pero hindi palagi.”
“Bakit ngayon lang kita nakita?”
“E kakabalik ko lang.”
“Bakit san ka nagpunta?”
“Secret. Teka, bakit sunud-sunod yung tanong mo?”
“Wala, talk show host ako e.”
“Weh, di nga.”
“Sagutin mo na lang. Bahay ko naman ‘to a.”
“Ang yabang. E di aalis na ko,” tumayo si Andy mula sa upuan. Hinawakan siya ni Sid sa braso, pinipigilang umalis.
“Alam mo ang OA mo. Hindi ka cute, pwede? Umupo ka lang diyan. May beer ka pa.” Umupo si Andy at kinuha ang bote gamit ang kabilang kamay.
“Uuuy, nagpapahawak na siya. Step five!” tukso ni Sid.
“Gumaganti ka ha. Ano’ng step five?” Binawi ni Andy ang braso niya.
“Wala, may naalala lang ako.”
“Ano ‘yun?”
“Basta, hindi ka naman makakarelate.”
“Malay mo…”
“Basta, wag ka nang magulo. Ako yung host. Guest ka lang.”
“Ayos ka a.”
“Sandali, bakit mo ba ko hinihintay sa labas?”
“Ha? Ikaw kaya lumabas.”
“E bakit ka sumama dito sa loob?”
“E inaya mo ko e.”
“Kaya nga… haaay, ang pilosopo mo naman.”
“Ganun talaga.”
“Alam mo ihahampas ko sa’yo ‘tong bote ko.”
“Sayang may laman pa.”
“Wala akong pakialam.”
“O sige, i-straight mo ‘yan tapos sasagutin ko.”

May lawa na ng tubig sa lamesa ni Sid. Dinampot niya ang bote, mga lampas kalahati pa. Binottoms-up niya ang laman nito. Hindi na masyadong malamig. Tumutulo ang beer sa gilid ng pisngi niya. Pero hindi niya binaba ang bote hanggang sa bula na lang ang matira sa loob nito. Nakakadiri ang lasa ng beer foam. Parang ipis na napisa. Napangiwi si Sid. Pilit na pinipigil maduwal sa pakla ng beer.

“O ayan.” Lumunok ng laway si Sid para mapawi ang lasa. “Game, magpaliwanag ka na.”
“Natutuwa kasi ako sa itsura mo kanina.”
“Ha? Bakit?”
“Wala, parang wala kang problema.”
“E bakit naman ako–”
“Sandali, nagpapaliwanag ako,” sabat ni Andy. “Pero nung tiningnan ko yung mukha mo sa salamin, parang may nakita ako.”
“Multo?”
“Hindi. Ano ka ba? Hindi mo matiis na hindi magpatawa ‘no?”
Natigilan si Sid. “Hmp, o siya, anong nakita mo?”
“Parang malungkot ka pala.”
Step close.

Nagsindi pa ng yosi si Sid. At nag-offer kay Andy na kumuha rin ng isa.
“Ubusin na natin yung beer. Wala namang ibang iinom nun.” Tumayo na si Sid at nagpunta sa kusina.

Mabagal na ang lakad ni Sid pabalik sa sala nung ikalawang beses na magdala siya ng inumin. Iniisip niyang mabuti ang sinabi ni Andy. Mukha na pala siyang malungkot. Kailangan niya na ng eye gel.

“Namamaga na ba yung mata ko?” Tanong ni Sid habang binubuksan ang mga bote.
“Medyo. Parang lalo kang sumisingkit. Chinese ka ba?”
“Hmmm, sana. Pero hindi. Chinita lang talaga ako.”
“Chinita talaga ha.” Uminom si Andy mula sa boteng inabot ni Sid.
“Lagi akong tinatanong kung may lahi ako. Ewan. Dapat talaga naging Chinese na lang ako e.” Uminom si Sid ng beer. Hindi gaanong mapakla ito kasi tama lang ang lamig.
“Iba kasi yung features mo e. Para kang ano–”
“O ano na naman?”
“Para kang panda.”
“Leche. Puro ka kalokohan. Pero ang cute ng mga Panda ‘no? Sila lang yata yung hayop na cute ‘pag pinanganak at cute pa rin ‘pag tumanda.”
“Haha, kung anu-anong naiisip mo ‘no?”
“E sayang naman yung utak ko kung ipapalaman ko lang sa ulo ko diba?”
“Loko-loko ka talaga. Nakakaaliw kang kausap.”
“Lahat naman ng tao ganyan ang sinasabi. Mukha lang akong clown pero matalino talaga ko.”
“Matalino ka naman talaga e. Halata naman yun.”
“Asus, bolero.” Inom si Sid ng beer.
“O, tingnan mo ‘to. Pag kinokontra ka ayaw mo. Ngayon sumasang-ayon ako, ayaw mo pa rin.” si Andy naman.
“Gusto mo bang makita yung notebook ko?”
“Oo nga, ano bang laman niyan?”
“Wala, basura. Mga kung anu-ano lang.”

Tinabihan ni Andy si Sid sa sofa at binuklat nila ang notebook. Inabot ni Sid sa kanya ang notebook at hinayaan siyang basahin ito.

Maraming mga nakasulat sa mga pahina. May simula ng kuwento. Mga maiikling tula. Mga stanzang ginurihan ng sulat ng ballpen. Mga maliliit na drowing ng mata, isda, at kung anu-ano pa.

Nakadungaw si Sid sa ibabaw ng balikat ni Andy. Tinitingnan niya ang batok, likod, balikat, braso, at mga daliri nito.

“Alam mo, tama ako,” biglang sabi ni Andy. Nahuli ni Sid ang sarili at biglang umayos ng pagkakaupo. “Yung mga sinusulat mo, bakit kung hindi tapos, maraming bura? Tapos yung mga natatapos mo naman, lagi tungkol sa malungkot.”
“E nakocornihan ako sa gawa ko minsan e. Ayaw ko kasi nung masyadong cheesy. Siyempre kailangan i-edit nang i-edit.”
“Ah… e bakit yung isang ‘to parang wala kang binago?”
“Sinulat ko yan nung nagbreak kami ng ex ko. Ayaw ko nang baguhin, ‘yan na ‘yun e.”
“Okay. Itong isang ‘to gusto ko.”
“Hindi pa tapos yan e.”
“Oo nga. Bakit hindi mo tinapos?”
“E nawalan ako ng gana, masyado kasi siyang masaya. Alam mo yun?”
“Oo. Kaya nga dapat tinapos mo. Maganda siguro ‘to gawing kanta.”
“E di gawin mo. Tapusin mo. Ayaw ko ng mga ganyang gawa. Parang hindi ako. Kaya nga hindi ko matapos.”
“Nye, ayaw ko ngang tapusin ‘to. Dapat ikaw gumawa niyan. Tula mo ‘yan e. Ganito na lang. ‘Pag natapos mo gagawan ko ng tono.”
“Collaboration? Ang corny ha.”
“O di wag.”
“Bakit marunong ka ba gumawa ng kanta?”
“Konti. Basta tapusin mo ‘to tapos gawin nating kanta, ha?”
“Ewan, bahala na.”

Masyado namang concerned ‘to. E ano naman pakialam niya sa tulang ‘yon? Di ko na nga maaalala. Hindi naging style ni Sid na magsulat ng may kasama. Noong high school, pinagawa sila ng tula bulang group activity sa English. Binuo niya ang tula mag-isa habang nagkukuwentuhan ang mga groupmates niya. Binigyan sila ng teacher ng 96.

“Nako, wala na tayong beer,” sabi ni Sid.
“Haha, nawili yata tayo. Nako mag-uumaga na pala, nakabalandra pa yung tricycle sa labas.”
“Gagarahe pala ha.”
“E ang daldal mo e.” Inabot ni Andy ang notebook kay Sid at ipinatong ito ni Sid sa bag.
“Ikaw kaya.”
“Hahaha. Ewan, hindi naman ako ganito. Uy, may yosi pa ba?”
Kinuha ni Sid ang kaha, “dalawa, tig-isa tayo.”
“Sige, pasindi na lang tapos lakad na ko. Salamat ha.” Tumayo na si Andy, papalabas na ng bahay.
“Sige. Hatid na kita sa gate.”
“Ayos, yan ang gusto ko sa’yo, maalaga.”
“Adik!”
“Hahaha, sige na.”

Sumakay na si Andy sa tricycle at lumarga na. Sinundan ni Sid ng tingin ang tricycle hanggang sa pagliko nito sa kanto. Pumasok si Sid sa bahay at nagsara ng pinto. Kinuha niya ang natitirang yosi sa kaha. Ayaw lumabas. Sinundot niya ang pakete at may nakapang papel sa loob. Ang singkwenta pesos na binayad niya kanina.

Napangiti si Sid. Inipit niya sa notebook ang pera.

On Confessions


The Kiss of Death

Is not so fatal

If the person you are kissing

Is invincible.