Friday, September 22, 2006

Better Mornings

September 22, 2006. 3:24am

I'm sorry for things to have ended this way... I thought things would work out.

Sad ba? I know. The truth is I'm just pulling the blog readers' legs. I'm just kidding. :P

It will be sunrise soon. Heheh pano ba yan? Tinulugan mo ko.

Ayaw kong umailis but I can't stay. I really have to leave.

I need to go to the office earlier than usual kasi we have to perform that server maintenance that we've been putting off for weeks now. I need to get up early. Oo nga pala baka mag revise pa kami ng assembly schematics sa account ni Maam Sigrid. Syet due na yun bukas. No use. Kailangan talaga maaga.

Grabe... ang hirap matulog ng ganito. Sana pala di na lang natin pinanuod yung DVD ng The Maid.

Oo na. Oo na. Walang simbolosmo yung title. Coincidence lang. Magagalit ka eh ikaw naman yung nanghiram ng DVD, hindi ako.

Pinagtalunan pa natin yung ending but the truth is I wasn't able to follow the story anymore. Kapit ka kasi ng kapit eh. Tili ka pa ng tili. Buti na lang dun natulog si Mama kela Uncle Guy. Malamang sa lakas ng sigaw mo, nagising mo pa yun. Haaay, at least you enjoyed the movie last night. Hehe di ka pa rin nagbabago. Matatakutin ka pa rin. Duwag! hehe

Either that, or gusto mo lang talaga ako chansingan. Kung gusto mo yumakap, sabihin mo lang no. Mura lang professional's fee ko.

Kidding :P

Speaking of endings, I've decided to end the blog. We haven't really decided kung pano. Di ko rin naman naintindihan yung sinabi mo eh. Sabi mo ayaw mo na, pero sabi mo rin gusto mo pagpatuloy. Nililito mo lalo ako. So I apologize for ending things abruptly without consulting you. I really feel that I have to do this.

My decision to end the blog is brought about by the things that happened last Sunday.

Sunday started unusually. Buti naman tapos na yung graveyard shifts mo. Isang linggo na naman yun. Last day na yun kaya kahit na Sunday meant no work for me, nagtext ka na nagrerequest na sunduin kita.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. It's just that waking up without you in the house feels... odd. Walang nang-aasar, walang babati ng good morning, wala yung nangungulit na "dalian mo baka ma late ka pa". Walang naka-ready na kape. Ang hirap bumangon pag alam mong wala kang kasama sa bahay.

Alam mo naman si Mama, parang di na rin dito nakatira.

I remember yung itchura mo nung hinanap mo ko sa labas ng building nyo. Sana naman kasi AKO yung hinahanap, hindi yung sasakyan eh. I was watching you for the longest time, at nakatayo lang ako sa loob ng lobby. Hehe derederecho ka sa labas, di mo na ko napansin at nilagpasan mo na ko.

"Hello," bati ko at pagkalabit ko sayo sa likod.

"Hey... San ka galing?"

"Nandun ako sa lobby, Nakalimutan mong wala tayong sasakyan no?" (An uncle, my mother's balikbayan brother, always borrows our car whenever he comes home)

"Ay oo nga pala. I totally forgot. Sorry. Sana nagtext ka na lang na di mo ko masusundo para nag commute na lang ako." Simumangot ka pa. Alam mo namang di kita matitiis.

"MAGPASUNDO KA SA NANAY MO!", I wanted to yell- wag na lang. Baka mabatukan mo pa ko. Baka marining pa ng mga ka officemates mo at buong maghapon mo na naman akong di papansinin. Kamuka mo naman talaga eh.

"Ngayon mo pa sasabihin yan eh nandito na ko" , I said, even though I was annoyed a bit. Alam mo namang mahal na mahal ko kama ko. Kakapalit mo pa naman ang kobrekama, punda at kumot nung makalawa. "Wala namang pasok eh kaya ok lang."

"Sorry," You said again with a grin. At least di ka na nakasimangot.

"Nag breakfast ka na?" I asked.

"Yeah," You smiled shyly. "Wala kaming ginawa kundi kumain".

Its' a wonder really- how you seem to like eating and yet you don't seem to gain weight. Remember that talk we had, when I said that I was observing you while you eat? I still don't get it. We can sit in front of the table for more than an hour, and yet di pa nangangalahati yung pinggan mo. It bends the laws of physics really.

"Want to grab a cup of coffee na lang?" I asked. Syempre di ako magpapatalo. I won't take no for an answer.

There's a nearby Starbucks, but I told you that I know a better place to drink coffee.

"San ba tayo pupunta?"

"Ako bahala sayo," sabi ko . It was a line that I borrowed from Richard. I find it really helpful when you're anxious about something. Remember when we came forward kay Mama? You instinctively held my hand, and you were cold and trembling then. But when I told you na ako ang bahala sayo, you began to feel better. Lol were were in such a mess then, weren't we?

It was a bit of a long walk from where you work but I know you really like the the backstreets of Makati. I really like the way you call it "Exploration". It should be. It is a world away from Makati's main thoroughfares.

We should walk more often. Not only is it healthy, but also it gives us something that driving a car does not: the oppurtunity to take our time and slow down. I watched you look at the tall condominiums with awe and appreciation. I need not look up to appreciate beauty. I happen to know a certain sleeping beauty very well.

Most people see Makati as a city of commerce, for work and for night outs. Few, like us, look at Makati as home. It's the place where we grew up. Fewer still are those who take the time to notice Makati's subtler offerings.

I know the only time you've seen Salcedo Park was when we passed by it when we were avoiding traffic, but I know you'll like the place. We got our coffee at the nearby Starbucks and went to sit at one of the benches.

The air was cool because of the rain last night but the sun was already too bright for me. The shade of the trees complimented the gentle breeze that played with your hair. I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed when you swept your hair back with your fingers and tucked them gently behind your ear. I think you're awsome when you just let your hair down.

We sat there for a while, talking about the old man on another bench who was reading the morning paper, and the couple of joggers who passed by. It's amazing how you can take those scenes and use them as an insult. Yes, I know, I'm halfway to fifty and you don't want me going out of shape. (I promise to go to the gym at least once a week if you promise to go with me! Deal or no deal?)

On our left were a children playing- three children playing jump rope, and a younger kids writing on the brick walkway with a white chalk. Their yayas, donning a generic white and blue uniform, were chatting as they look after the kids.

It's a shame, that even on a Sunday, some parents still can't afford to find the time to play with their children. It's a wasted time. By the time the parents realize it, their kids would have thier own set of friends. Their kids would prefer to spend time with their own friends rather than with their parents.

"Al, Baka masita ka ng security guard... Dapat yata may kasamang yaya yung mga isip bata dito."

"Problema ba yon? Edi sabihin natin ikaw yaya ko"

"Yuck! Ayaw ko nga maging yaya. Nakakasawa ka na ngang alagaan eh. Caregiver na yata kailangan mo."

"Kapal nito... madalas kaya ako pa nagaalaga sayo eh. Ako nga yata yaya mo. Ano ba tawag sa lalakeng yaya?

"I don't know"

"yow yow?"


"Al, you shouldn't try to be funny when there are people drinking hot coffee within hearing distance. It can be very painful."

"Arte mo naman, if I'm so corny then why are you smiling?"

"Eh ang corny naman talaga eh. Sasakit ulo ko sayo eh"

"The objective or humor is to make people laugh" I lectured. "Sasabihan mo kong corny tapos tatawa ka"

"Eh basta, kasi they way you delivered it. You looked... stupid"

"No, It's not being stupid... It's being 'comical'"

"Ewan ko sayo. Pero dapat maingat yung mga yaya sayo. Atchay killer ka pa naman."

"Yan ka na naman eh"

"Aba- ba't sino ba satin ang may crush sa mga yaya ha?"

"Wala akong 'crush' sa mga yaya no."

"Eh ano?"

"Wala nga"

"Wushuuu... If I know, you brought us here to stalk a yaya."

"Hindi no."

"Yes, It has to be something!" you laughed. "Sige na umamin ka na kasi eh. Why did you bring us here?"

"Kulet, ano ba nilagay mo sa kape mo ngayon ha?"

"Uuuy. Asar na sya," you teased with that silly grin on your face. "Aamin na yan.."

"Ano ba gusto mong aminin ko ha?"

"Asus... Kunwari pa to."

I sighed to show my frustration. "Gusto mong malaman kung bakit tayo nandito?"


"Because even though I would prefer to make the most of the oppurtunity to stay in bed today, this is such a great place and this great morning will all go to waste if I do not share it with someone you love, and I think thats reason enough, but frankly, you're just a bit too annoying to be with right now. If you don't appreciate the gesture then you could at least stop linking me to some random stranger. And try not to make a big deal about my corny jokes because they were intentional. I tell you jokes all the time and you always laugh at them, corny or not and now- what? bat ganyan itchura mo?"

"...what did you say?"

"That corny jokes are often intentional"

"No, before that"

"I said its annoying when you link me to strangers"

"No stupid. Before that"

"That this is a great morning and Salcedo park is a great place and I know you'll like it here"

"No, thats not what you said," you grinned.

"It's not?"

"No, I asked you why you brought us here"

"I know"

"And you said this morning will just go to waste"

"Yeah, if I don't spend it with someone special"


"What!? Thats what I said!"

"You said all these will go to waste if you don't spend it with someone you love."

"Yeah, Thats what I said."

"No, that different. Someone special is not necessarily someone you love"

"Yes, I suppose thats true..."


"So what?"

"Nako Al, don't pretend to be dense. Malapit ka na maligo ng kape."


"So which am I? Someone special or someone you love?"

I was intentioanlly trying to get you annoyed, but I didn't expect that you'll threaten me with hot coffee. I was caught offguard.

"You... are someone.... that I love" I said, rasing the last syllable of the sentence almost to the point that made me sound like I'm not sure what I was saying. I could almost hear Richard saying "Congratulations pare, You just lost your balls."

I half-expected that you would whap me on the head, but I noticed that the mad look on your face slowly disappeared.

"That wasn't so bad now was it?" you said with a smile. "Ang torpe mo."

I apologize Emma. I've wanted to tell you for so long, and I really would've preferred a more romantic way of telling you that I DO love you. Although I must confess that it hapend this way. I'm ACTUALLY glad that you threatened me into confessing with a cup of hot coffee. Looking back, I realize the quiet morning at Salcedo park would have been wasted if I wasn't able to tell you those three words.

"I told you I couldn't keep that promise"

"Its ok Al," you laughed. "I know you can't be trusted with anything."

"So thats it?"


"You make me confess, then you leave me hanging like that?"

"Oh, I'm sorry. Were you expecting anything?"

"er... yeah. Hello?"

You sat down, and the smile on your face disappeared. You took a sip of coffee and paused before trying to speak again.

"I love you too Al... but with all these things that have been happening between us, I gave it a lot of thought. Sa toto lang parang kuya lang talaga kita eh."

"... oh."

"Yeah...", you patted my knee, as if to say sorry. I paused to think. I did not imagine that after all the time we spent together, that I would be dumped.

"Emma, if thats how really you feel, then I repec-"

"It's a good thing that I'm feeling a incestuous right now," you grinned. "Gotcha!"

You hugged my left arm. I don't know If I'm going to be happy or irritated. But everything felt fine, and moreover, confused.

It's feel strangely unique, when you think about it. When old couples recall kung kelan naging "sila", often it would be a story of romance and hapiness. Ours? well... if we happen to have the chance to tell this story to someone, I dont think they'll believe us if we tell them that on that fateful day, we managed to annoy each other into a confession.

"You should know better Al. Ang tagal mo kasi eh. Kulang na lang yata kao pa mangligaw sayo"

"Eh ikaw naman kasi. Ikaw kaya tong laging kinakabahan. Kulang na lang himatayin ka sa kakadeny nung umamin ako kay Mama. Showbiz mo no"

"Shut up. I love you Aldrin, don't pretend that you don't know it."

"Sige na nga. Pero wala nang bawian yan ha?" , I reminded you. "Nasaktan na ko dati at ayaw ko nang maranasan itong muli"

"Awww...," You proceeded to hug me. "Magdadrama ka pa, di naman bagay."

I know. I was only doing that to make you laugh, and you did. You buried your face on my chest and you tightened your hug.

"Al...." you spoke as you slowly raised your head and looked into my eyes. Those eyes- those expressive eyes that I just couldn't get enough of. "Naligo ka ba?"

"Oo naman no!"

"I know. I was only joking," you grinned. "Now would be a good time to kiss me"

Right there in the middle of Salcedo Park, amidst the passers-by and the trees and the bushes still wet with the morning dew, and the gentle sunlight piercing though the thin canopy, we had our first (technically second) kiss.

How did I feel when we kissed?

In history class, we learned that royal marriages were often fixed- that even if an heir of a kingdom is just a few years old, his bride or her groom has already been chosen for him or her. Marriages like those exists for posterity's sake- to make sure the royal blood does not get thinned out.

Stories were told that those kinds of marriages never work. But that first (technically, second) kiss felt like an epipany of sorts. What if- fixed marraiges were given a chance? what if fixed relationships worked? We already have 20 years' worth of foundation to work on- thats not bad, right?

When we kissed, I felt like... royalty. It felt like even when we were kids, we were predestined to be lovers. Growing up we fought for our right to choose our own partners in life- and then we realize that we've been looking for each other after all.

I didnt mind the children, the yayas, the old man and the security guards. I didn't mind the people walking through the park. I didnt mind the poepl in the tall buildings that could probably see us then. I didn't mind the entire city around us. All I ws focused on was you and I felt like I could be in that position forever.

Forever it is, but unfortunately, "forever" lasted about 2 seconds.

"Nakakahiya baka may makakita," you giggled as you pulled away from the kiss. Your cheeks were flushed and I slowly realized tha my ears were warmer than usual.

I pulled away from the embrace and , but I didn't let go of your hand. I was very pleased to hear you giggle- It reminded me of that time you talked to Pat.

"So...What now?" I asked after a few seconds of awkward blushing and smiling.

"Sinong tao sa bahay"


"We go home then," then you took my hand and pulled me.

"Huy, di dyan ang daan."

"I know, but before we go home, I need you to buy something from 7-11"

That is when everything got ugly. You asked if anyone is home, and you knew that we will be the only people in the house THEN you asked me to buy something from 7-11. Ofcourse, I'll make assumptions. T_T

At least I know that port of me is still alive... somehow. After that, I whispered to you what I thought about what I assumed you were suggesting...

"Ang bastos mo talaga!," you replied, with a push on my shoulder. I think the gardener at One Salcedo Place overheard us. Rest assured, it was very embarassing.

"Baygon ang bibilin natin no! Baygon!", you lectured as we backtracked to the convinience store we passed on the way there. "Uso dengue ngayon and I've been planning to I'll spray the rooms ngayong weekend"

"Sorry... sana sinabi mo kaagad," I said. It was funny how dumb I sounded. I'm a guy! Can you really blame me?

"Dumi ng utak mo," you scoffed.

We continued the rest of the trip in silence. After we secured the can of spray, we took a cab home. I didn't know what to say, and I thought that discussing it was inappropriate when the driver can hear us.

As we entered the house, you placed you gently embraced my right arm and rested your head on my shoulder.

"Don't worry Al. I'll tell you when I'm ready, ok?"

And now, we arrive here, You're asleep and I'm awake. You might find it eerie, but I really like watching you while you sleep. It reminds me that kahit minsan, mabait ka rin pala.

Kidding :)

Even when we were kids, you've always been good to me even though we fought a lot and I used to hide your stuff to make you cry.

There are stuff that wont disappear. They just change in form or function.

Remember when we are a lot younger, we talked about our future relationships, that both of us will find someone that othe other one doesnt know. It semed to be a good idea at that time, and its funny when you look at it now.

I know that by the time you read this, you'll probably be infuriated that I didn't run this by you first. I'm apologizing for starting this without you. Like I said, this is something I really have to do. I need to get this out because If I don't, this blog may not end, and out lives won't begin.

There are a lot of things to worry about, and I know you are scared. I think everyone is scared to trust themselves to someone. We are both in a lot of pressure to make things work. We have to. We are both afraid of the consequences of a failed relationship.

But I think we don't have to feel pressured. We have, after all, gone through the greatest hurdle of relationships- You and I... we're family already. Granted that it is, as you said, incestuous, but it is no less special than when people realize that they finally found THE one.

IMHO, the greatest relationships in the world are not perfect. There will be fights, differences of opinion, and shortcomings.

But the truth is I'd rather be having arguements and fights, and sensless debates and fits of random annoyance with someone I know and someone who knows me so well.

Because I know making up and agreeing will be so much sweeter. Apologizing would be so meaningful. Seeing you smile will be more alleviating. Watching you pout will me much more fascinating. You're t he only person I know whose pinch hurts more than having a hard wooden door slammed in my temple. Kissing you means so much more.

It took us all these years to realize that we didn't have to look far to find the person we are looking for. If there is anything to regret, it is the time that I've made you feel unappreciated, when you're worth is so much more. All I ask now is the oppurtunity to make it up to you.

If things will change, it could only be for the better. It all starts when you read this entry. By the time you finish reading this, I would've already left, and you would be at your office, and you would've texted me at least three times, and called called my phone at least twice.

Yes, I would like to talk about what I've written here, and the stuff that didn't make it to this pages, and the future events that will and will not happen between us. Who knows right? As much as we know each other, we can never be too certain about life and about love.

I, at least, know this:

I'm certainly looking forward to waking up to better mornings with you. :)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Long Time Coming

Writing this blog entry feels different compared to writing the other entries. It proved to be very difficult because, even now, I have lots of things to consider. I reread the entire blog, and the conversations Emma and I had about this blog has totally changed my perception.

I do hope that you'll bear with me on this because it is really difficult, at least for me (I submit myself to the stereotype that engineers are not really writers) to constantly revise the entries starting from Questions and Answers. So far, this series is the longest I have written within the span of 48 hours, and it has been subject to much revision becuase it proved to be difficult to definitively write about the events as they happen.

Let me begin by explaining how I write.

It all starts with my cellphone. I have difficulty organizing my thoughts in one coherent stream, so what I do to "preserve" what my take on a particular event, I key it down on my cellphone.

These "thoughts" somehow make it to my PC, usually in an empty MSWord or text document which first look like this:

got a phonecall
invitation emma's aunt's bday july 17
buy cake first
emma's dont tell me i didnt warn you
driving there
meet the relatives
ate lunch
went home

From there I construct my outline- I attach as much detail to each keyword as I can remember,

got a phone call
emma is not around
guy looking for emma
he passes the phone to an older woman

and from the details, I construct my sentences, and eventually to form the paragraphs of the blog

It all started a few nights ago- Wednesday, I recall- I was in my room, writing some email to my mom regarding her trip home when the phone rang. Emma is the one who usually answers the phone (because sometimes I'm too lazy and I pretend not to hear it ringing), but at that time, she was still at the office, filling in a time quota. I got up, picked up the cordless and answered.

"Hello, pwede po ba makausap si Emma" replied the guy on the other end of the phone. He sounded like a teenager.

"She's not around. May I take a message?"


"Ah- Wala kasi sye eh- May pagbibilin ka?" I was a bit amused at the caller. Maybe he got intimidated because he didn't reply. The next voice I heard on the phone was of a woman, and she sounded much older. Unlike the kid, I recognized her voice- She was one of Emma's relatives... I think.

Basically, thats how I write.

(This has caused much dismay to my college communications professor. She recognized my yahoo ID and IMed me to give me both a relationship advice and a threat that she'll kick me back to highschool if I don't improve on my tense problems.)

So... the question is, what does my way of writing have to do with what happened after the party?

Apparently, lots. Shall we begin?

July 17, around midnight.

It feels very different when you lose control of something. It can be a big thing, something so significant, like your lovelife or career, or it can be a small thing like the way you like your coffe in the morning or how you want first dibs on the first dibs on a certain section of a newspaper.

In my case that night, it was driving. The road looks different from the passenger's side. I dont know if its the good dose of alcohol in me, or maybe its the fact that I've been driving for more than 10 years, but I really wished that somehow I had control of the car. If I close my eyes, I can feel the steering wheel in my hands, and my feet push at imaginary pedals in reflex to traffic. Timing is a bit off. Emma made turns a bit later or sooner than what I would've preferred. The felt the same everytime the car accelerates and brakes.

I would say that I felt really bad whenever I'm not in control. I had no control of everything that went that day.

But I guess thats how faith should be. The truly faithful can trust their lives to the unknown. I trust Emma.

(But it never hurts to put on the seatbelt.)

It was a silent trip home. She didn't even turn on the radio. Uneventful really, but it was torture for me. She didn't even try to speak to me. If you think being mean is the worst thing Emma can do to me, I found out that she can kill me with her silence. It's insane!

We arrived home. Emma parked the car, and I stepped out lock to the gates.

We entered the house and Emma tossed the car keys on the small bowl beside the telephone- the very same Telephone that I answered to recieve the invitation to Aunty Lo's birthday. The day was finally over, and we are home.

I locked the doors and I followed Emma up the stairs and up the hallway.

Emma turned at the hallway and showed no sign of stopping talk so I had to call her name.



"Can we talk?"


"...I'm sorry"

"You already said that kanina"

"I know... are you still mad?"

"Mad about what?"

"Kasi... I called you a driver"

"Hay nako... a-apologize ka, di mo naman pala alam kung ano yung pinagsosorry mo"


"Hay... nevermind".

"Seriously Emma, I don't know why you're mad at me all day."

"Kung di mo alam, di ko sasabihin sayo."

I didn't know what to say, but I figured that since she dodn't move from her position, she still wanted to talk

"You know... we argue a lot no?," I tried to stall, because I really didn't know what to say. I'm trying to figure out what I did wrong, but nothing came to mind. "Sa car pa lang, nagtatalo na tayo eh"

"Uhuh," she replied.

"You were right about your family though"

"What about my family?"

"Well... they were not as what I expected"

"I told you so. You should've listened," said Emma. Yeah, I should've listened.

"Dapat nga di ka na lang pumunta eh," she continued.

"I don't get that. Ayaw mo ba ko ipakilala sa family mo?

"Ok lang"

"Would you have preferred if I didn't come?"

She didn't answer. She just looked at floor as if she cant look at me directly.

"Is that it? Are you ashamed of your family," I asked her.

"And what makes you think that its my family that I'm ashamed of?" Emma barked.

"Oh... I guess that meant she's ashamed of me," I thought. Who else would she be embarassed of, if not me. Its my turn to look at the floor and feel the shame.

"...I apologize if I'm not up to standards. Its your relative's party and I should'nt have insisted to come."

"No... is not that," Emma coaxed me.

"Then what? You can always tell me anything..."

"I don't know, ok?" Emma raised her tone. I heard a familiar tremble in her voice, and I knew she's on the verge of crying. I reminded myself that if Emma starts crying, I've no one to blame but myself.

"I... knew you're going to write about this and I'm sure if I like the idea anymore," she finally spoke. Her voice was much softer and calmer. "Al, its my family. it will be the first time you see them. I was very pressured"

"Hey, I was under pressure too. I'm the guy enterring your territory."

"Di naman nila alam yung tungkol dun eh"

"...I disagree. If you only knew what your cousin uncle told me kanina"

"No, mas ok nga yung alam nila yung tungjol satin eh. Kung si gale nga nakahalata, yun pang mga tita ko"

"Ha?!," I said in confusion. I thought she didn't want her family to find out.

"I'm talking about the blog Al," Emma said softly, "The way you write about me, yung ang nakakapressure"

I didn't say anything, so I just looked at her to listen. I felt that its important that she gets to say everything without being interrupted.

"I cant fill the shoes of "Emma" anymore."

"Why? what do you mean?"

"I showed the blog to some friends at work, and guess what? They don't believe that Emma is me. Nagmumuka tuloy na nag-iilusyon ako."

"Edi was silang maniwala. at least you were honest diba? Its thier loss. If poeple refuse to see what is obvious then wag mo pansinin. Its about you, so other people shouldn't matter."

"If other people don't matter, then why do you continue to write?"

This caught me offguard. It was Erika who sugested that I start writing a journal about my everyday life with Emma. This was originally about writing about what I feel about her. Normally It was supposed to abe a blog where I ask for advise, but now- it is so much more. Have I gone astray from my original objective? Perhaps I have been blinded by the compliments and attention of readers, and it has clouded me from that fact that I the person I care about is hurting from what I do.

"Everytime I read about it, I see myself through your eyes. I affects me so much and I really appreciate the effort you put into it," Emma spoke with so much sincerity. I wanted to hug her right there, but I saw from her face that there is something else that she wanted to say.

"Al, I'm not perfect"

"I think you are."

"People don't think the same Al. I have problems, and I make mistakes. I have enough problems being myself already. I don't need to the additional pressure of being your version of me."

It was an outpour of feelings. I was on the recieving end of something that's been bothering her ever since I came forward with this blog. I never meant to put pressure on her.

"Al," she spoke with a pause to make sure I listened. "You're not blogging anymore. You're blogging about blogging a blog!" She sounded frustrated and very annoyed.

This made me think- and she's right. Even though she sounded silly, she was right. As much as I would like to share everything, I realized that have to consider that relationships should be a private thing. Writing about our lives publicly has its adverse effects. At some point, if I continue, I'll be crossing a line where writing about something I write about is no longer appropriate.

Thats when I found out that I've lost the discretion that I have been hoping to keep, and there's only one way to make amends.

"Do you think we should stop?" I asked Emma, who now, has tears rolling down her cheek.

She didn't answer. We stood there under the yellow light of the corridor waiting for each other to speak. After about 5 minutes of silence, Emma talked.

"I'm going to take a shower," she turned hand started walking to her room. I didnt want to end the conversation that way, but with all the things happening that day, I hesitated. Maybe its best that I talk to her again tomorrow, when I know I can think clearer.

I opened my room and brushed my teeth. I smelled like cigarettes and alcohol, so I figured its best to take a shower as well.

I was relieved to be able to lay back on my bed, but I didn't sleep yet. I grabbed my booted my laptop and opened the folder aptly named "blog" on the desktop. Right clicked > New > Text Document: A Long Time Coming.

With great hesitation, I began writing the words of what happened that day. I only wished that if is the last entry, we could've written it together, not like this, where Emma was a few doors away, probably crying herself to sleep.

I hit CTRL+s and closed the file. I placed that laptop on top of the small square table beside and plugged it to charge the battery.

I cheked my cellphone. Not a single message. Not even a goodnight. I just stared at the ceiling, waiting for sleep to claim me.

Thats how our night and our relationship ended.

Ok, I'm kidding.

The next day, 6:30 AM

My alarm clock rang and I knew I have to get up early for work. I feel refreshed, but something feels different. My beed feels different. Somethinng feels... out of place.

I opened my eyes and the first thing i noticed was I wasn't alone in the room. Someone was sitting on my bed, with her back facing me.

"Hey..." I greeted in with a yawn (and rubbed my eyes baka may muta, and wiped my mouth just incase I drooled.)

"Oh hello. Good Morning," greeted Emma.

"You're up early."

"Yeah. Its a Monday." she answered.

"How is the hangover? Dalhan ba kita ng coffee?

"No thanks. I'm good. Di naman ako nalasing," I said

"Ah. I thought you were drunk kasi tinulugan mo ko," she said as she turned to look at me. On her knees I saw my laptop, and the light from the monitor gave her face a bluish-white glow. "I didn't want to wake you up"

The monitor was open, and on the screen was a white text area. I easily recognized this as the Text Document that I was working on the night before. I don't really mind her reading itsince its our agreement that everything I post goes through her first.

Hold on.



Did she just say na tinulugan ko sya? What did she mean by that? I don't lock my door anymore she could've entered when I was sleeping. Did she enter my room while she was sleeping? I'm normally a lightsleeper but when tequilla is involved, I can sleep like rock. Anyone could've entered my room and I wouldn't have known about it.

OMG. She could've been in my room all night!

Then it dawned on me. If you have been drinking the night before and you wake up with a girl in bed the next day, whats the first thing that comes into your mind?

I suppose anyone doesn't need any more clues.

What happened next was happened in a very a fleeting moment. Its as if all of thinking power I can muster that morning got compressed and exherted instantaneously so I can remember what exactly happened last night.

So? What DID exactly happened last night? I'm sure I remember plugging the laptop to charging the battery. I remember staring at the ceiling waiting for sleep to come- but I can't remember one thing thats supposed to matter! I can't remember falling asleep! No one can! !#@$%@&!!!!

I fely my shorts under the blanket, mainly to check if I had one on. I don't wanna get up only to realize that I don't have any pants on. What am I going to do? Wrap myself with a blanket? The blanket. THE BLANKET! Why can't I remember covering myself last night with a blanket! Hmm... Maybe, if I can find a source of black light, then I can check if there are any indications of hair orbodily flui- wait. Thats CSI. Demmet Al! Think!

It was a moment when you are confident of your recollection of events but at the back you your head you know, you can never be too sure. Lol. Seriously, it was worse than being drunk.

"Hey... are you sure wala kang hangonver? You don't look so good." Emma asked.

Say nothing. SAY NOTHING!

"Uhmm... Yeah... So... how did I do last night?" (Demmet!) "I mean, hope you're not upset about what I've written." (Good save. Good save.)

"Yeah its OK. Ang drama mo nga eh", she said with a laugh while she closed the laptop monitor.

She laughed. Owgademmet she laughed! Two and a half 'Ha's! Magpapamisa ko sa Linggo! She Laughed! It's not the same laugh she had yesterday. It was subtler, softer, but no less infectuous.

I couldn't help but smile, not only because I heard her laugh again, but also because she's ok with what I've written.

"Thanks. Your approval means a lot to me right now," I told her. I said that. I really did. A few seconds later, I realized how stupid I must've sounded. How many in the world wakes up in the morning and tells their special someone "Thank you, your approval means a lot to me right now" ?

"You should get ready," Emma said as she lowered the laptop monitor and gave it to me. "Ortigas ka ngayon," she reminded me before disappearing towards the corridor outside my room.

Ok, now you're probably wondering what does my way of writing have to do with this. Well... this is it.

I sat up, opened the laptop, and checked the entry I have written last night.

To my surprize, the list of events that happened the day before has been changed. Not only were they changed, it was much longer! Emma normally doesn't edit the entires until I have completed them, but this time she has injected details to the events of the party herself!

Not only that, she already started drawing sentences and reconstructing the conversations we had with the people at the party. I started reading the unfinished first draft of the blog entry, and the first thing I noticed was it grew. It grew so long that we had to divide it into 4 parts.

All the while I was thinking that Emma was just making me feel miserable, she was paying attention to detail of the events that. It is as if the past three entries (Question and Answers, And Pamamanhikan Bow, and @the Party) were written were mostly based on Emma's accounts.

This got me confused. I thought she didn't like the blog anymore, but she has put so much effort into writing this much. Does it mean that she is not upset anymore?

I stayed on my bed reading eveything she's written. I was in awe. I admit I'm a bit slow when it comes to lectures on relationship, but I began to understand what Emma felt when she read the blog entries about her. As I scrolled down through the white spaces and the black alphanumeric characters, I slowly came to the realzation that these weren't my words anymore. This is not the entry I have written about Emma.

It was Emma writing about me.

What she did isn't easy. It takes me a long time to come up with an entry, and yet, she managed to enough to make four.

It made me think- was she awake all night in my room, writing this? Was she up all night, on my bed, watching me sleep? It is a totally different scenario than I was thinking about earlier. The words "tinulugan mo ko" suddenly had more possible meaning than what I initially thought.

I scrolled down to the end of the text, and at the last line, Emma wrote a note, in obvious anticipation that I would be reading what she has changed.

PS: I'm sorry about last night. You gave me a lot of things to think about. I get too concerned with other people say, butI realized that the only opinion that really matters to me is yours. also, I took your advise so I did some changes, I hope you don't mind. :D

PPS: Regarding my relatives, You did pretty good yesterday, actually. You don't have to worry. My family says you're ok. I'm very proud of you.

PPPS: If you happen to see my Aldrin, tell him to stop moping around and come down. Breakfast should be ready. I don't want him to be late. :)


Those were the first words that came out of my mouth.

I imagined how each and every syllable would sound if Emma would speak those words to me- but attention kept on gravitating towards a single phrase.

My Aldrin.

The last time she mentioned it was through a letter. In that letter, she was advising me to stay away. I find it ironic that she used it again to invite me to breakfast. But am I complaining? Heck no. :P

"My Aldrin," I spoke to hear how it sounded. I wondered if I would ever hear Emma speak those words.

I closed the laptop and got up from my bed. When I stood up, I realized how good I felt that morning. Having your worries disappear sure is much better than a good night's sleep and nothing beats a good affirmation to start your day. It's magic really- the way she made me feel bad all day yesterday and how she can take it all away with just a few words. The very same magic that enables her to use word "sir" and can make me very upset, or make me forget all the problems I had for an entire day. The very same magic that makes her touch feel like I've just been kicked behind the knees and at the same time make me nervous as a stiff.

"Madrama nga," I said to myself in amusement as I recall Emma's words.

So... Did she spend the night in my room?

Well, thats for us to know and for you to speculate about :P

I left my room and walked down the corridor like its any other morning. I went down the stairs and turned towards the kitchen where the smell of freshly made coffee filled the air. As I entered, I greeted my Emma a good morning.

She smiled and everything in the world is right again.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

@ The Party

July 17, 2006, later that afternoon.

The good news is somehow we managed to survive the interrogation although we knew that admitting to whatever it is we have is inevitable.

The bad news is everyone at the party has their radar on us. Everytime I tried to talk to Emma while she was playing mahjong, dozens of pairs of eyes look up at us.

I tried standing behind Emma while she played, but I was becoming a distraction to the other people at the terrace. I was under surveillance, and my slightest move was monitored and recorded. I realized that Emma's family is very protective of her, and after Pat's stunt, standing beside Emma drew too much attention.

To avoid further questioning, I thought it was best to put some distance between me and Emma. I spent time with Apple, who I later learned was the daughter of one of Emma's cousins. I can tell the Apple is spending too much time in front of the TV. She opened the TV and manipulated the remote control with much versatility. She even knows the channels for Cartoon Network, Nick Jr., Hero Tv, and Animax.

I think she's seen all of the episodes of The Last Avatar, The Legend of Ang because she likes to tell what happens in the story before it actually happens. She is very... atriculate for her age- which is good, unless you have very sensitive ears (she talks like she's in the question and answer portion of Little Miss Philippines).

Apple and I were arguing over our favorite Powerpuff girl when Pat sddenly came and passed her baby/cousin/brother/neighbor's kid to me. She was in a bit of a hurry and before she bolted out of the door, she said something about someone waiting at their gate.

Fact: I don't know how to take care of infants, but I at least know how to carry a baby.

Rule #1: Don't drop the baby.
Rule #2: Always support the back and the nape.
Rule #3: If the baby needs a diaper change, see Rule #1.

So I'm carrying a baby. Its not a big deal right? Its not like its the first I held a stranger's baby (The last time was when we went to an orphanage as a Christmas outreach project for my org in college) Call it a learning experience. I didn't mind really.

Unfortunately someone else did.

The moment I stepped out to the terrace to check on Pat, someone revolted to the idea of me carrying the baby.

"Bat naman ikaw pa pinagkarga? Baka malaglag mo pa yan," Emma complained.

"Di naman," I replied. "Kung ikaw nga nabubuhat ko eh..."

Syet. I saw Emma's eyes widen. That sounded so wrong in so many levels. I can almost hear her shouting "OMG what the hell are you saying!?". Worse, my words attracted the attention of Emma's relatives again. Everything stopped. Everyone was waiting for me to explain what I meant.

"uuuyyy... ba't mo sya binubuhat ha?" Pat teasingly asked. This girl can suddenly appear out of nowhere at the most opportune moment to poke at us.

"...nung baby ka pa," I quickly added. I paused for a while to think if there ware other ways to say that without sounding too... erm... old. Wala yata. Moreover, I hoped that it was enough to save me from being grilled.

"ahhhh" Pat nodded her head with a silly smile. "Kuya Aldrin, linawin mo kasi".

"hehe..." I laughed in hopes that the grinning blog reader in front of me would not reveal more of what she knows. She is evil, I tell you. Evil. Her eyes told me she wanted to say something else. I pretended to rock the baby in my arms, but the truth is I just wanted to get some distance and turn away from Pat.

This was unnecessary though, because I found out that Pat has her own personal distraction as well. Her boyfriend, Erick, arrived. I can tell from what he was wearing, He came straight from ROTC training. I took his arrival as a cue to disappear and return to the TV with Apple.

As we continued to watch TV, I asked Apple for the name of the kid I was carrying. She said she didn't know so I decided to give him a name, just for the sake of having a name. It has to be a strong name. A manly name. A name that befits his stature. A name that will not be forgotten and will forever be remembered in the archives as the greatest name a guy could ever have.

A couple of commercials and an episode of Dextar's Lab later, Bob began to cry.

"Bakit sya umiiyak?"

"Hindi ko alam eh," I said. "Kilala mo ba nanay ni Bob?"

Apple just shrugged.

"Apple, pakihanap naman si Ate Pat mo. Umiiyak si Bob eh"

"Sige po," followed Apple. Polite, obedient, witty... Apple reminds me of her ninang in a way. I stood up and looked through the window to see where Apple went. From outside the door, she headed straight to the table where Emma and I had our lunch. Erick was eating and Pat was keeping him company.

"Umiiyak si Bob," Apple told Pat.


"Umiiyak si Bob"

"Sinong Bob?"

"Si Bob!"

I was trying to make the baby stop crying, but I couldn't help but laugh while listening to the little girl confuse the hell out of Pat.

"Sinong Bob nga?"

"Si Bob!". Apple was very cute when she sounded frustrated (which again, reminded me of her ninang).

I wanted to laugh hard. Apple cannot get her pint across, and Pat was stumped on who this "Bob" was. About a minute later, Pat decided to follow Apple inside the house.

I waited at the door so as soon as Pat entered, she saw the crying baby. She realized that she just handed the baby to a total stranger, and forgot about it.

"Ay sorry!" she apologized as she took Bob from me.

"Ok lang," I grinned, not because I was trying to fake a smile, but because I felt I finally found the right moment to express myself in perfect ambiguity. :D

"Bakit Bob? Pat turned to Apple but the little girl didn't pay attention. She returned to her seat at the livingroom sofa and continued watching cartoons. She knew that with Bob on Pat's hands, there will be no more distractions from her late afternoon viewing pleasures.

I thought the same, but as soon as Pat passed Bob to his mom, she returned to the livingroom to ask something from me.

"Kuya, patulong naman gumawa ng drinks".


Pat explained the her Titas didn't like beer that much so she "volunteered" me to make one for them. I didn't like the sound of it because of Emma's reminder about her family's sentiments about alcohol during ocassions. Pat showed me a tall bottle of Absolut Vodka and some left over Del Monte Fruit cocktail. I could work with this- although I figured Emma would be my worst critic because she learned a bit of bartending during her stay in Singapore. But since Pat already "volunteered" me to bartend for the ladies, who am I to refuse?

When Pat said na "bitin ang isang bote", I knew that we have to get more. I suggested that we go the nearest mall which is SM Sta. Mesa. We (I, Pat and Erick) had to drive there but Erick was a bit intimidated because he was a bit shy- he didn't want to sit shotgun. Guess what? Both of them ended up seating at the back seat. Oh yeah. Picture that.

Buying alcohol together with 2 minors didn't look good either. Both of them are 17. Pat has already invited me to her debut next year.

Yay, I thought. Another ocassion to spend with Emma's family. Can you sense my excitement?

While at the mall, Pat continued her interview much to the annoyance of Erick who I think felt a bit OPed. I confided to Pat- but only enough to keep her questions answered. Even though Emma talks to her, I didn't want to reveal anything that may further aggrevate Emma. (If anything needs revealing, I think its best that Emma talks to Pat about it :P, the same applies to this blog, btw).

Talking with Pat revealed a lot of things. I learned that relationships its a big deal to the folks. It is imperative for Emma and her cousins and nephews that they tell their parents about their "baon". Apparently, Erick had to go through the same "intimidation" thing- and much worse because he and Pat were a lot younger. It's a bit of a relief knowing this because at least I know that the shock and awe tactics (aka, stare, threaten and intimidate) that was being applied to me isn't personal, but an intricate and elaborate standard operating procedure in their family.

Emphasis on "bit".

It was already dark when we left the mall, but we were able to find everything we needed:

For the Honolulu Cooler: Pineapple and Lime juice, Sprite (or 7-Up), and club soda.

For the Brandy Cobbler: sugar, dalandan slices (we cant find lemons XD), cherried, and more club soda. We substituted the fruit cocktail for orange slices, and we bought a single bottle of emperador (because Pat told me that tito Fred has a couple of bottles of Fundador already.)

Pat took care of the calamansi for the Tequilla shots. (I didn't see Tito Fred bring in the bottles of Cuervo). I had to spend a bit for the drinks, but I didn't mind. emma wanted to be extravagant with the cake so I figured its ok If I kick it up a notch with the drinks. The good thing about cocktails is you can drink more, but compared to drinking straight, you still take a lot less alcohol.

Oh yeah, we also bought ice. And lots of it.

BTW, observe the legal drinking age and drink moderately.

There were already empty beer bottles on the tables when we arrived at Aunty Lo's house. The long table where we had our lunch was already occupied by most of Emma's male relatives, drinking ang laughing loud. On another table were the ladies, equally loud in chatter and laughter. I tried to look for Emma but I couldn't find her there. Erick and Pat setup a smaller table where the mahjong table used to be, and we began preparing drinks for the ladies. I did the mixing while Pat and Erick did the knife work.

The honolulu punch was easy to prepare because it can be made in one large batch, unlike the Brandy cobbler which has to be made individually.

"Wooooow", Tita #1 said. (Seriously, I need to review Emma's family tree.)

"Hoy Emma!" said Tita #2. "Boto ko dito!," she exclaimed, pointing to me.

The ladies at the table laughed, and some even agreed to what Tita#2 said, but I think its just the alcohol talking.

I blushed a little from the embarrassment, or maybe it was the alcohol from the tasting I made while preparing the pitcher of the honolulu punch, or maybe its the fact that I didnt realize that Emma was behind me, watching over what I was doing.

"Are you sure about what you are doing?" Emma asked, ignoring the laughter from the ladies' table. "It looks wrong."

"Hey... I had a good teacher," I replied.

I smiled at Emma, hoping that she would smile back- but she didn't. She just shrugged her shoulder and drank from a glass of Coca Cola. "I wouldn't know," she said.

She would know. She was the one who taught me.

"Pano nga pala kayo uuwi?" Aunty Lo asked. She was seating the near ond of the ladies; table.

"May dala po kaming sasakyan," I answered.

"Naku, magdadrive ka pa? Dito na lang kayo matulog"

"Nye," Emma was quick to counter Aunty Lo's suggestion. "San nyo patutulugin yan?"

"Sa sofa."

"Yan pa? Di makakatulog sa sofa yan," Emma said. "Di sanay sa di malambot yan"

Hey no fair....I have slept in wooden sofas before. And besides, her bed is actually bigger than mine. I was about to comment about that, but when I saw Pat looking at us, I decided to keep my mouth shut. Admiting to this crowd that I have knowledge about Emma's bed would be suicide.

"Sigurado ka? Kung magmamaneho pa kayo, baka mapano pa kayo"

"Ayos lang po yon," Emma assured Aunty Lo "Ako naman po ang magda-drive".

"Oo nga po Tita," I seconded. "Magaling naman pong driver si Emma."

Uh-oh. Big mistake. Emma gave me one of her sinister, angry, wait-til-we-get-home-because-I'm-gonna bury-you-alive look. I should've said "magaling mag drive si Emma," instead of saying "magaling na driver si Emma". I'm gonna be grilled when I get home.

I wanted to whisper an apology, but Emma already moved to the far end of the ladies' table, along with her glass of Coke. Knowing her, I should leave her alone for a while- I decided to approach and apologize later.

I thought things couldn't get worse that night but, again, like the many assumptions I made that day, I was wrong. Tito Fred came over and handed me a glass of Fundador, and invited me to sit at the guys' table, specifically on his left. I can tell by the red tint in his face (and by the smell of his breath) that he has downed enough alcohol to keep him in bed all day tomorrow. I wondered how many days he has skipped work because of hangovers. He reminds me of Marlon Brando from the Godfather. Make that a cheerful, loud-laughing Marlon Brando. Okay, a cheerful, loud-laughing Marlon Brando, with a bit of Max Alvarado thrown in. A grinning Marlon Brando, with the contrabida mustache of Max Alvarado in a peach and green shirt with palm tree prints. O-ha. Bagets.

I was listening to them talk, when suddenly tito Fred put his left arm on me. He was staring at me and in a very intimidating manner, he began to whisper at my ear.

"Nag-iisa lang yang pamangking kong yan na maganda," says Tito Fred whose face can only get redder and redder. "Di ko kayo tututuluan pero kung lolokohin mo lang yan, pauwiin mo na lang dito. May matitirhan yan dito."

"Opo," I replied, eventhough I had a mixed reaction to what Tito Fred just advised me. I didn't know if I should take him seriously because he was drunk, or to be glad that he doesn't have anything against me, or to laugh out loud because he said that Emma is the only one who is beautiful among his nieces.

(PS: Pat, if you are reading this, I know your uncle was drunk at that time and a lot of people talk nonsense what they are under the influence of alcohol, so I really hope that you don't take offense when say: AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA! XD)

Above all, I was glad. For the first time since being invited to Aunty Lo's party, nakahanap rin ako ng kakampi. Sure, he was drunk, and He will probably forget everything he said that night, but still- it felt really good that I got his approval. Hehe

"Hoy Emma, Ok pala tong baon mo eh!" shouted Tito Fred, finally releasing his arm from my shoulder. "Masunuring bata!"

"Baka nakatago lang ang kulo, nakabantay kasi si kumander!" some guy from the table shouted. It was then followed by laughter by everyone who heard it.

Great. Now my relationship with Emma is a punchline of jokes. I began to doubt that I was being taken seriously, but I just laughed with the best of them.

I'm a fan of Pol Medina Jr.'s work and I've read that the characters in his famous comicstrip (Pugad Baboy) are inspired by real life personalities- but I can't believe that I'd be in a scene that would look like it was literally taken from one of the daily Pugad Baboy comics.

It was weird, looking at the people present in that party. It feels like one, big happy, strangely dysfunctional, family- which somehow works out and gets by in the end. I really enjoyed laughing and listening to their stories (and sharing my own). It almost made me forget that Emma is still angry at me.


A couple of hours and about 4 bottles of beer later it was time to call it a day. (I could've had more, but I was watching what I drink. I easily got dizzy with all the hard liqour I had earlier that evening)

Aunty Lo has already turned in, and some of the guests have already left. I took my chance to watch Emma at the ladies's table. She was in a giggling session with Pat and another cousin, Gale who was only able to join the party about an hour ago. I could swear I heard her laugh- it was the same as the loud laughter I heard from her earlier that day.

I hoped I could hear more of it but Emma's smile disappeared when I joined them, and this made saying goodbye more difficult. I didn't know if I was able to leave a good impression among her relatives. Moreover, I was concerend if Emma was impressed with the way I bahaved that night. to me, her opinion is more important than what her relatives think of me.

We walked back to the car. I felt relief at the idea that we were going home at last. But as soon as we were in front of the car, where we were too far to be heard by the people at the terrace, Emma complained.

"Katulong na nga, driver pa," she sighed.

My heart sank when I heard that. Part of me wanted to confront her but with all the alcohol I had that night, I don't want to say anything else. I may just offend her more. I just pretended not to hear her and went to the gate to open it.

When I got back to the car, Emma was waiting with her hand open.

Maybe this is a sign. She was trying to discourage me from coming to the party all day yesterday up to earlier this morning. Maybe her attitude towards me all day is a signal that I'm being invasive. Should I "back off" a little? Should I "back off" a lot? Maybe the idea of being a couple isn't such a good idea after all. (or maybe I'm over analyzing the situation again?)

I sighed, but I exhaled softly so she wont notice. I didn't want to argue anymore. I yield. She has treated me so roughly all day, but I'm sure she has some reason for it. She may not reveal it to me right now (or ever), but I trust her.

I just handed her the keys and said the only words I knew that won't make things worse:

"Emma, I'm sorry."

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Ang Pamamanhikan. Bow.

Writer's note: This entry is part 2 of a series that took place a couple of weeks ago. The entire entry has been finished already, but my beloved editor and I agreed that releasing it in 1 blog entry would be too much. We ended up breaking up the story into a number of parts. Also, to avoid confusion, we'll be including the actual dates when these event actaully occured.

July 17, 2006

It's a Sunday afternoon. It's a bit rainy, but other than that, everything is ok. You don't have work today. You actually have the free time that you've been looking forward to all week. What to do... what to do...

There's Church, although some choose to go to mass earlier in the morning, rather than the afternoon. You can visit the gym- sayang naman yung membership fee kung di mo gagamitin dbia? You can try calling up your friends and officemates and meet up at b_connected @ Greenbelt or Phoenix @ Jaka Center for a DOTA session. Or if you don't feel like going out, you cna just stay home, grab a book or the TV Remote, put your feet up and relax.

On top of my head, I can think of many (un)productive things to do on a Sunday. Being in a middle of a crowd of strangers while being asked if I'm there to ask Emma's hand for marriage is not one of them.

Pat's voice still rang in my head. "Namamanhikan".

Imagine watching a fragile vase falling in slow motion. You know its going to break and you can't do anything about it. You can only watch while the inevitable takes place. The vase hits the floor and the glass shatters into a pieces with a loud piercing crash. It takes a couple of seconds to sink in, but as soon as the brain processes the information, you know all the kings horses and all the king's men will not be enough to put humpty dumpty together again.

"Magpapakasal kayo?"
"Kelan ang kasal?"
"Kayo na ni Emma?"
"Kelan pa?"
"Pano ka nya sinagot?"
"Hindi nga?"
"Eh diba may girlfriend ka na?"
"Pano magiging kayo eh para na kayong magkapatid?"
"Magnobyo na pala kayo, bat di mo man lang sinabi?"
"Madalas ba kayo mag date?"
"Eh lagi kayong nag-aaway diba?"
"Matagal na ba kayo?"

Questions after questions came, but I did not dare give an answer. All that left my lips was embarassed laughter. It's not that I can't answer their questions myself, but I thought that Emma would prefer to answer them herself, because after all, this is her family, and I'm just the person that she happened to tag along.

"Its out now," I thought. after the initial questions, Emma's relatives began stating their hypotheses and opinions (some of them weren't exactly nice, but they were under the guise of jokes.), but I just ignored them. Pasok sa kaliwa, labas sa kanan. My cheeks begin to hurt from smiling, hoping that my non-response would make the qestions stop. In my head, I can't get rid of the mother of all interrogatives that Aunty Lo asked (no pun intended):

"Alam ba ng magulang nyo yan?"

I knew things were becoming serious when some of the mahjong players stood up to get a better view of the interrogation.

"Asan na ba yang batang yan?" asked Tito Fred. The Alpha male spoke, and everyone else around me fell silent. "EMMA!"

So... Where was Emma when all these was happening? She was inside the kitchen, washing Apple's hands after eating ice cream, totally oblivious that I was surrounded be around a dozen of her relatives, each is eager to know the story between us.

"PO?" Emma responded to tito Fred's calls.


Tito Fred's voice was loud. Its not loud enough to be a shout, but it was modulated and I knew it caught the attention of everyone in the terrace. I couldn't determine if he was angry or not, but I felt a bit... harassed.

"Bakit po?" Emma asked, finally stepping out from aluminum swinging door. She walked straight to Tito Fred and took his hand andraised it gently to her forehead.

"Yang baon mo, mamamanhikan na raw"

"Sino may sabi?"

"Si Patricia," told Tito Fred. I would've loved to raise my hand and point it accusingly at the culprit.

Emma knew that she didn't have to ask. Pat is the only one she told about the blog. She gave an angry look at Pat's direction. Pat, on the other hand, was grinnig.

I thought it was ironic that Pat's grin looked very similar to Emma's. Among her female cousins, it was Pat who looked like Emma the most. Also, I have to state that it is an established fact that Emma looks prettier than Pat. If I don't, I'll be cooking my own meals for at least a week. (Editor's note: make that a month)

I thought that they would have a staredown, but Emma turned her attention to me instead.

Emma is a genius at mind games. I could never win against her. She can easily get away from tight situations without breaking a sweat. I know this because since we were young, I was her co-conspirator. As do all children, we took matters into our own hands to avoid being grounded and scolded. Believe me, conspiring under the watchful eyes of two single moms is a difficult task. We found it necessary to communicate without the use of words. Because of this, we got to know each other so well, we can finish each other's sentences. I dare say we can practically read each other's minds (well, at least Emma could. She can still catch me off guard, which, I must confess, is kind of a turn on lol).

At the very moment Emma looked at me, her eyes were enough ot tell me that she has a plan, and if we were to survive the day, I would have to ride with it.

Emma began by reacting to Tito Fred's statement. "Yuuuuck, yan? Ew!" she revolted.

Ouch. Pandirian daw ba.

"Eh di nga makapagcommit sa girlfriend nya, mamamanhikan pa?" she added.

Hey. C'mon. Below the belt na yata yan ah.

Pat began to chant "LQ! LQ! LQ!"

"Nako isa ka pa. Pahamak ka rin eh"

" hindi kayo?", one of her male cousins asked.

"Nako... May girlfriend na yan no," she said and she walked over at the mahjong table to take a seat. Clever girl. See? She's already walking away from the issue.

"Baka naman di makapag commit dahil sayo," one her tita's said.

"Ewan ko ba dyan."

Ok... I'm now labelled as a guy who can't commit. I think I liked it better when I was being confronted with the pamamanhikan accusation.

I didn't mind all the teasing and attention I'm getting earlier, but Emma's "disgusted" and "he can't commit" remarks kept gnawing at the back of my mind. Sobra naman to. Do I really have commitment problems? I began to think that Emma's words were half meant rants. It felt like Emma is angry at me for a reason and rather than tell me about it, she wants me to realize it myself.

The tension has died down. Nothing to see here, false alarm kuno. Some of the crowd began walking away and going about their business.

The mahjong players started playing and the sound of the shuffling of mahjong pieces has masked Emma's comment and I wasn't able to understand. I walked back into the house to give Apple the icecream cone thats been melting in my hand. From the corner of my eye, I can see Emma's relatives staring at me and I'm sure I can hear them whispering as well.

Oh boy... This party is far from over.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Questions and Answers.

"Don't say I didn't warn you." Emma reminded me. "I'd hate to say 'I told you so' pero ikaw ang nagpupumilit."

"Really its ok," I answered. "I was invited so ano ba problema?"

"Wala naman. Left"

"OK- I don't see a problem. I've met them already diba?" I asked as I steered the car according to Emma's instructions.

"Correction," she replied. "You've met SOME of them, AND ON different occasions AND ON different places- Left ulit dyan - You've never met ALL of them- in one place at the same time".

"Yes, but my impression was they're ok naman," I argued. The roads are starting to get narrow and negotiating with tricycles is proving to be difficult. "Don't tell me- you're embarrassed?"

"No!" Emma answered. "Ikaw bahala. Basta. DONT say I didn't warn you".

Those were Emma's words. I should've listened.

It all started a few nights ago- Wednesday, I recall- I was in my room, writing some email to my mom regarding her trip home when the phone rang. Emma is the one who usually answers the phone (because sometimes I'm too lazy and I pretend not to hear it ringing), but at that time, she was still at the office, filling in a time quota. I got up, picked up the cordless and answered.

"Hello, pwede po ba makausap si Emma" replied the guy on the other end of the phone. He sounded like a teenager.

"She's not around. May I take a message?"


"Ah- Wala kasi sye eh- May pagbibilin ka?" I was a bit amused at the caller. Maybe he got intimidated because he didn't reply. The next voice I heard on the phone was of a woman, and she sounded much older. Unlike the kid, I recognized her voice- She was one of Emma's relatives... I think.

"Ay hello, Aldrin ikaw pala, wala ba si Emma dyan"

"Wala po eh, Mamayang 9 (pm) pa po sya nagpapasundo sa office," I answered. I didn't ask her name even though I was unsure of who it was that I was talking to. I thought that it would be rude because she remembered my name, while I can't remember hers.

"Kasi birthday ko sa Biyernes, pero yung handaan sa Linggo"

"Wow. Advanced happy birthday po," I greeted. "Ilang taon na po kayo?"

"Nako mag sisisenta na ko," she answered followed by a laugh. I don't know whats wrong with me, but I find it easier talk to older strangers than with people around my age. We chatted for a bit and that is how I got myself invited to lunch for the birthday celebration of Emma's "Tita Lorenza" aka "Aling Loreng" aka "Aunty Lo".

Fastforward a few days later, and here we are, driving to her tita's brithday. Along the way, Emma was trying to convince me that I shouldn't have come along. "Pagsisisihan" ko raw.

I had difficulty making the narrow right turn into a small vacant lot where other cars were parked. The lot was uncemented but the barren areas and the uneven grass suggested that this lot was used as a parking space by the surrounding households. After parking, we entered a small iron gate made of fencing wire- and there we were: We are at Emma's Aunt's place- and I was about to meet her family.

Like what Emma said, it wasn't the first time for me too meet some of her relatives. I've met some of them- like her mom's sister- when they visit Emma or her mom at our house. Birthdays and holidays usually.

It is, however, my first time to be a visitor in their house- and I was really excited about it. Secretly, I was hoping that I could meet up with some of her cousins that I've met before and dig dirt on Emma- para naman may pangganti ako. Nauubusan na ko ng pang-asar sa kanya eh.

Emma walked in first and she led me into a small clearing beside the terrace where most of the people were gathered. There were several long tables and around them were a mix of monobloc chairs and wooden benches.

The people? The people were crazy! Its as if each table has its own party- Everyone was laughing and yelling and teasing each other- and alcohol wasn't even being served yet (more on this later). I listened to them as I followed Emma towards the terrace- Ang lakas nila mag asaran. I took a quick look at Emma and I came into a blinding realization: This is where Emma gets it. This is the reason kung bakit ang galing nya mang asar. Her family members grew up teasing each other- they would take each others' flaws and use it in a witty comeback for jokes and stories. I could just picture Emma going head to head with her relatives with the puns and wisecracks.

I felt really good coming to that place. I thought that my own family is a bit too..."poised" for this kind of fun. Just watching the guests made me smile and Emma noticed it as we stepped into the terrace.

"Ba't naka ngiti ka?" she asked.

"Wala lang, masaya dito eh," I replied with a grin.

"You look silly," Emma said with a whisper. "Umayos ka naman please. Ayan sila."

Hearing Emma say "umayos ka naman please" felt a bit harsh- I thought that maybe she isn't really embarrassed by her family. Maybe, she was embarrassed of me. This realization wiped the smile from me face. I've decided to be serious and well-behaved. Like what my lola used to say, "Its only right to be polite in someone else's house".

As soon as Emma stepped into the terrace, she was greeted by everyone. She kissed and greeted the celebrant, Aunty Lo, and hugged her other titas. Everyone was smiling, everyone was happy, and everyone was busy asking how everybody was doing. Our family gatherings were never like this- reunions were always held in restaurant somewhere- maybe because most of my relatives have migrated out of the country. Events like birthdays are rarely close to home (literally). Here, everyone was close to one another, and no one can interrupt the chatting and the laughter.

Except when a stranger steps into the terrace makes the caged dog start barking. Yup, that’s my entrance.

"Oy, andyan ka pala!" said the old thin woman wearing a bright red and orange dress. I recognized her voice from the phone conversation a few days ago.

"Happy birthday po," I greeted Aunty Lo, as I took a stepped forward towards her to give her the cake that Emma picked out.

"Ay. Thank you!" Aunty Lo replied. "Ikaw naman Emma, Di mo naman sinabing kasama mo pala mo sya".

It felt good hearing Aunty Lo say that. Although I'm not her relative, it reminded me of that "Ang paborito kong apo" McDo Commercial years back. It made me smile, but that smile was short-lived.

"Mahirap na kasi iwan sa bahay," said Emma while taking cake from Aunty Lo and placing it at the dessert end of the buffet table. "Baka masaktan, lagot ako sa mama nya"

A few of her relatives laughed, and I saw Emma looking at me. I knew she was trying to find out if I was offended by the strangers at her joke at my expense. I'm not really affected by what insults she says, but at that day, its was the way she said it that concerned me.

Her tone sounded like she was genuinely annoyed. It made me feel like I did something wrong but I couldn’t figure out what it is. Call me dense, but I can be very insensitive about these things.

Looking around, I figured that this is not the place to talk about it. It was a birthday celebration, and I didn’t want to spoil everything by being insulted or worried. I shrugged it off and smiled.

We arrived around 1pm and many of the guests have eaten already. Emma and I were given plated and lead towards the buffet table.

"Di ka sanay no?", Emma asked.

"Yeah," I smiled. "Nakakapanibago". I was a bit relieved that she talked to me, but in a way, it felt bad because I knew she was pointing out differences between my family and hers.

She was talking about the food, and what were served at Aunty Lo's birthday were not like what I normally get to eat. There were grilled veggies and seafood, karekare, pancit, embutido, fried chicken, and others that I cant recall the names. I noticed that Emma was watching me when we got our food. Hindi naman ako maselan, but she already used the perfect words to describe the experience: hindi ako sanay. If I would compare it to a restaurant, I would compare it to Cabalen.

We sat at the table together with most of her immediate relatives. The food was very good actually. I planned to return to the buffet table to taste the other foods that I wasn't able to get, but I kept to my thoughts and remained silent and behaved. (Sayang kasi when I noticed that Emma was looking at me at the buffet line, kinontian ko yung kinuha ko). I spoke only when I was spoken to, politely smiled when someone cracks a joke, and when I was asked questions, I made sure that I gave a satisfactory answer.

One would think that the best environment to eat is with family and friends, with everybody laughing and telling stories. Even though I was smiling at that time, surround ed with friendly faces, my thoughts were still focused on Emma. Underneath the small talks with the people around the table, I was still worried about Emma. I was still searching for whatever it was that I did wrong, and that killed my appetite. I finished my plate, placed the spoon and fork together as a sign that I was finished.

I waited for Emma to finish eating. I watched and listened to her eat and talk to her relatives- she was having such a good time that I just wanted to be invisible- I didnt want her to think about anything else. I didnt want to ruin the laughs and chatter that she was enjoying but she noticed that I've finned lunch ahead of her.

"Umupo ka na lang, ako na" she said as she got up and took my plate so she can put it away.

"Tulungan na kita..."

"Ako na," she interrupted with a stress on her voice.

I couldn't do anything about it. I felt like a small kid. Sumunod na lang ako. She put away our plates and I kept quiet and listened to the chitchat of her relatives. They seemed to enjoy their conversations very much, and I enjoyed listening to their stories very much. It made me remember that time when Emma was talking about her Singapore experience. I enjoyed listening to her then, we can talk for hours but right now, she doesn't seem to be in a talking mood.

Emma was gone from the table a long time. I was beginning to feel a bit awkward since apart from the familiar faces, I don't really know much about her relatives. I looked for her and I saw her coming out from the kitchen door, and with her was the cake we bought from Sugarhouse. We stopped by Rockwell Powerplant before heading to the birthday. Emma wanted to be a bit extravagant about her tita's birthday because she was her favorite relative. I remember when she was a lot younger; she would stay for weeks at her aunt's place every summer. I assumed that Emma has a lot indebted to her tita and this is her way of showing her appreciation. I thought it was very sweet of her.

Emma has taken cake outside the box and has lit a small candle (which is odd because the cake didn't come with a candle) for the birthday song. I found her relatives' reaction funny when it was time to cut the cake. At first, they want to taste it but they kept commenting that they didn’t want to "destroy" it. "Makakain ba to?" Aunty Lo asked. "Parang plastik eh."

I smiled when I heard Emma laugh from that comment and when I thought about it, it’s rare that I hear her laugh in such a way. It was so unrestrained- and she didn’t mind if it was too loud because everyone else was laughing. I sometimes think that being with my own family (or specifically, me) would mean that she would have to act in a certain way. She was so comfortable- perhaps that time, she didn’t have to worry about putting the best foot forward. In that place, it was ok for her to let down her guard. She was in the presence of her own family after all.

And a thought occurred to me: does she consider me "family"? It’s a yes or no question I've asked myself before, but I haven't concluded with an answer because I felt like its a lose-lose situation, but it’s a question that we both have to ask ourselves.

"Ayan o," said Emma while handing me a small plate and a fork. I didn't notice that she got me a piece of cake.

"Thanks," I said, ignoring the tone of her voice that made me feel that she didn't really want me there.

I was walking back to the table with my cake piece when Aunty Lo held my arm.

"Aldrin, Ikaw muna umupo dun sa mesa ko."

I looked at the "mesa" she was referring to. It was a mahjong table and 2 of Emma's titas and one of her male cousins were waiting for the fourth player. It wasn't much of a gamble since they were just playing with one peso bets.

"Ayan may mapeperahan na kami," one of Emma's titas commented. They easily knew that I was a newbie in mahjong when they saw how clumsy I was with handling the mahjong pieces.

I know how to play mahjong a bit. I watched my Lolo play with his colleagues it when I was a lot younger. I thought that they have different rules because when I watched them play, they had different calls and moves. It felt like what I understood from the game from watching my Lolo and my mom and my uncles was useless but hey- at I know what the pieces are called. I told Emma about this so she pulled a chair and sat behind me. She was my "miron", my coach. I mentioned before that Emma is a competitive player- and I think that is her competitive nature that makes her a kind of a... "mean" coach. In one of the games, I accidentally revealed my hand, and she pinched me. Negative Reinforcer. Ako pa raw yung makulit. I guess being half Taiwanese, she has some sort of in-born affinity embedded in her genes. Since Emma was doing most of the playing, this gave me time to eat the cake lol.

Whenever I don’t know what to do next, she would whisper at my right ear. Sometimes she would even lean over and pick up the next mahjong piece from one of the stacks. This got me really fascinated- she wouldn't immediately look at the face of the mahjong piece, but she feels it first with the tip of her middle finger. "Pinipintahan" or "keeping the suspense" she calls it.

"Ang cute mo naman. Ba't di mo na lang agad tignan?" I asked her. I may have said that a little too loud because Emma elbowed my side. Her titas may have heard me because I caught their eyes shift from their blocks towards me for a second.

"Kelangan eh," Emma answered. "Ang panget kasi ng diskarte mo kaya balance lang."

Ouch. She shot me again. I felt really embarrassed when I noticed that her titas were giggling. Its a good thing that Aunty Lo came back. I really wanted to walk away from the embarrassment.

"Natalo ba?" Aunty Lo asked.

"Di naman po gaano," I replied with a smile.

"Pag wala kang ginagawa dun sa inyo, pumunta ka dito para lagi kaming may kalaro"

I'm beginning to see what Emma sees in her aunt. Even if I may have done something to offend Emma, I still felt welcome in their house. "Susubukan ko po," I told Aunty Lo.

Emma kept quiet beside me when I was talking to her aunt. When Aunty Lo relieved us of our position at the mahjong table, Emma spoke to me softly. "Tara dun tayo sa loob."

She escorted me inside the house into the living room she she asked me to sit at the wooden sofa. It was much cooler inside the bungalow house. The big fan at the center of its high ceiling began to rotate when Emma turned on the switch at the wall opposite the door.

This is as private as it can get, I thought. There were kids in the living room with us. I assumed them to be some of her nephews or the neighbors' kids.

"Is there anything wrong?" I asked. I genuinely felt bad that she's been annoyed at me all day.


"Galit ka yata eh"


I knew something was up. Definitely something major. We grew up together. Although I can't say I know everything about her (I think it’s impossible for a guy to understand everything about a girl), I know her well enough to sense that she is upset about something. She didn't even ask why I was asking.

Awkward silence. She didn't want to talk- its one of those moments na mahirap mangapa ng sasabihin. I have no one to turn to so my focus began to flutter to anything that could catch my attention: The warmth of the afternoon, the gentle breeze of the wind blowing through the screen windows, making the light-blue green curtains dance, the hardness of the wooden sofa underneath the softess of the yellow embroidered throw pillows, the sound of children playing outside, and the splashes of running water from the kitchen which was concealed behind a small black divider. Ate Lydia told me that Aunty Lo and her late husband, like her, were once OFWs, and the perks of Duty Free shopping has filled their living room with electronics. I counted at least four- and these are not simple components- they were complete sound system- 5.1's at the very least. There were also a VCD, DVD players and a PS2 (probably used by Aunty Lo's son) underneath the big screen TV.

I was looking around if they have PS2 titles lying around when this little girl came running towards Emma. I'm familiar with her face as well. Her parents bring her over at our house Christmas to visit Emma and her mom. I think she may be too young to remember me since it’s been a while since Emma and I spent Christmas together.

The girl was shy, although she seem to know her "Ninang Emma" well enough to sit on Emma's lap

"Hello", I said, sliding closer to the two. "Ano pangalan mo?" I asked, trying to sound like a nice person.

The girl didn’t reply so Emma coached her into saying her name "What’s your name daw," I heard her whisper into the girl's ear.

"Apple po," she finally answered. It was cute to watch~ she said her name like she was introducing herself in a Little Miss Philippines pageant. I waited if she would quote a "kasabihan" after stating her name.

"Hello Apple," I greeted. "I am Kuya Aldrin."

"Ano daw?" I heard Apple whisper to Emma.

"Aldrin pangalan nya," coached Emma. "Say hello to your kuya Aldrin."

I really wanted to talk to the little girl so I waited for her to say hello. I smiled at her and I tried not to look intimidating.

"Boyfriend ka ni Ate Emma?" Apple asked.


Have you ever been in one of situations where you wish you can just press Ctrl+Z and undo a mistake? I'm sure I have.

If it were an adult who asked that question, I'd say "My relationship wish Emma is unique" or "I feel something special about her" or "we are really close." But how can you explain this to a child? How can you tell a 6 year old that my relationship with Emma is undefined, or vague, or "a blur of uncertainly but it just seems to work"? So I did what any self-respecting guy would do in that situation.

"Sa kanya mo itanong," I told Apple. I smiled and closed my eyes, because I didn't want to look at Emma when I just turned the table on her.

The truth is, we haven’t really talked about it yet. We have been getting along pretty well (except right now). I may be wrong but when it comes too my relationships, I apply the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" rule (and yes, I've been into heated arguments because of that, mostly with women). Part of me was really curious how Emma will respond to the question, so even though I was facing Apple and smiling, I was all ears to the slightest sound Emma will make.

"Ewan ko ba sa kanya"

OK class, lets analyze.

"Ewan ko"- this simply means that she doesn't know. Combine that with the word "ba", its becomes "Ewan ko ba," which has a "confused" connotation. "Ewan ko ba sa kanya" means that she gets confused because of me.

"Anong ewan?" I asked her, I noticed that my voice got a lot louder, so I toned it down to a whisper. "Anong ewan?"

"Malay ko sayo"

Hmm... thats new. "Malay ko sayo", a tagalog expression which means she is not really aware about it.

There are a lot of things I want to ask her, but I just kept silent. There's a time to talk, and right now isn't one of them, I thought. Instead, I just talked to Apple about whatever it is that concerns 6-year old, which can be summarized into 2 syllables: TV

We were talking about Spongebob when one of Emma's cousins entered the room to give Apple a cone of ice cream.

"Paaaaaaaat!" exclaimed Emma who stood from her seat to give her cousin a hug. I think among her female cousins, she is closest with Pat. She came to our house as well, so I know her too and there was no need for introduction.

"Emmaaaaaa!", Pat replied.

"Aldriiiiiiiiin! Its so good to see you!", I said to myself since nobody seemed to care that I was there.

Emma asked about her studies so I assumed that she was in college. Pat was carrying her nephew-brother, cousin- I can't really tell. She immediately passed in front of me and sat between me and Emma.

They began chatting, and from time to time, Pat gave me a look. Maybe she recognized me, because I haven't seen her since they were bridesmaids in the wedding they attended earlier this year.

I couldn't really hear what they were saying because they were talking in whispers. I decided not to pay attention, at least until I heard giggles. OMG they giggle a lot. I can't remember seeing Emma giggle before. She really looked cute when she giggles- but when she noticed me looking at her, her face suddenly turns serious.

I felt out of place. It a good thing that there's Apple to talk to. She stood up from Emma's lap and sat beside me to eat her ice cream. The kid was kind enough to offer me a lick, but I declined.

The giggling session was interrupted when Emma's tita (I didn’t know who) called her from the screened windows. Emma stood up and went to talk to someone at the aluminum doors. The only people who remained seated at the sofa was me, Apple, Pat and her cousin/nephew/neighbor's kid- I didn't really ask. It was awkward for a few seconds, because I didn’t really know what to say to Pat, except "hi" with a smile. I should've just kept my mouth shut.

"Hi kuya..." Pat replied. "kelan yung susunod na update, ha?"

I didn't know what to say. I was slack jawed. I need to go to that shop where Adam Sandler bought his Universal Remote and maybe, just maybe, this day can still be saved.

"Ay alam ko na, sama mo ko sa susunod na update," she said like it was a genius idea.

I forced myself to a smile. "Sige, I'll try."

Crud. It would seem Emma told her about the blog and she's been reading it religiously. Oh yes, I'll add her to the next update alright.

Emma returned to her seat and the 2 cousins commenced chatting.

It felt awkward sitting there, listening to them talking about this blog. If there was a list of things that drive me nuts, I thought that Emma reading the blog out loud was number 1. I was wrong, listening to Pat go on and on about the blog, asking personal questions, was the new number 1. You see, there are reasons why men like us don’t really like to talk about our feelings, and there are reasons why I didn't like talking about the blog in real life. Stomach-overturning embarrassment like this is one of them.

"Totoo ba yung..."
"anong nangyari nung..."
"anong ginawa mo..."
"edi nagtabi kayo..."
"kayo ha"
"edi pagkatapos non..."
"talaga bang..."
"kayo ha"

I couldn't stand it anymore. (This blog has gotten me into so much trouble; I'm beginning to hate this lol.) I looked over at the kitchen and checked if there was a knife around so I could cut my ears off.... Darn. Wala. I wish there's a way we can turn off our ears like the way we close our eyes.

"Kumusta first kiss nyo?" Pat asked with a laugh.

OMG. The forehead moment. Don't tell me they're going to talk about that about that?! I didn’t want to listen anymore but my ears seem to hear better. Sure, we've been holding hands, and texting each other more and giving each other embraces before going to bed and before I leave the house in the morning- there was even a time that she slept in my bed because she insisted to keep me company when I had to work overnight in front of the PC- but other than that, the forehead moment was all we had. (Hey, it’s not as bad as it seems, you know.)

"Actually nakiss nya na ko dati," Emma began to say. I looked around for a bunk or a hole that I can use as a rudimentary bomb shelter

"Diba nung debut ko, nagbeso beso kami nung dance namin?"

"Oh yeah- her debut" I thought to myself as I sighed in relief. I wouldn't have recalled that kiss if she hadn't mentioned it. All I remember then was I was one of her 18 roses. It wasn't much of a kiss because it’s a besobeso- and she gave each rose a kiss before the dance begins.

I looked around for an excuse to leave before Pat can ask another question. Bathroom? Too obvious. Play mahjong again? Too suspicious. Get more ice cream? That’s it!

"Apple, gusto mo pa ng ice cream?"


"Kuha kita ha?"

I stood up and excused myself to get Apple another cone of ice cream. I could've sworn I heard Pat snicker when I stood up. The screech of the springs the aluminum swinging doors made never sounded so beautifully until I pushed them to get out into the terrace. I walked casually towards the dessert table and looked for the Ice cream cones and the scoop. (Ubos na yung cake, and I'm glad that her relatives liked it)

I got the ice cream- but I didn't want to return to the living room yet. I took a peek at the mahjong table and the birthday celebrant is still there, with her sisters and the other guy (I didn’t catch the name).

It was in that situation where Emma's eldest Tito arrived. He was “Kuya Fred”, and Emma warned me about him. She said that if I want to avoid getting drunk, we should go home before it gets dark. Di nya ko paaalisin hangga’t di ako umiinom, and he believes that any guy hasn't really drank unless he is... well... drunk.

He arrived like an alpha male and in his hands were plastic bags containing bottles of Fundador and J&B (I think I saw a Carlo I in there too). I watched him as he walked from the yard, to the terrace and towards the mahjong table where Aunty Lo was sitting. From all the greeting that he received suggested that everyone knows him, and he knows everyone.

Except, of course, me.

"Good afternoon po," I said politely. I realized that I was blocking the way to the front door so I stepped aside.

"O... Kaninong baon ka?" he asked. It was the first time someone referred to me as a "baon". Not only did I feel intimidated, I felt insignificant. I was just someone who someone else dragged along.

Things got worse when I felt everyone's eyes on me again. I didn't notice that Pat was a behind me, she was carrying some clean glasses and putting them back at a small wooden table beside the long buffet table.

"Kasama po sya ni Ate Emma," Pat interrupted. "Namamanhikan."

Everyone became silent. "Help!" I thought to myself as I immediately looked around for Emma- She went to in the kitchen and I can't see her.


(to be continued)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Coming Soon...

I was having lunch with Marne (an officemate) and her husband when our conversation streered towards this blog. Marne is one of the few officemates who knows about this site. She said they read "In Similar Situations" the other night and she didn't know that I... er... we restarted updating the blog. She was curious about the future entries and I told her that Emma and I are both worried because our moms are coming home soon.

"The future is uncertain," I told her. "We are both waiting for them to return, pero nakakakaba talaga eh"

A few minutes after lunch, I got an email from Marne with an image attachment. She's a graphics artist and the image was her idea of a joke. Emma found it funny when I showed it to her.

Here it is:
Image Hosted by

Thanks Marne! lol

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

In Similar Situations

It was dark already when we got there and I'm really worried about him when we parked the car. I looked at this face and I knew then that this situation is very difficult for him. I tried to tell him that everything is ok, but I know that he can asses the sensitivity of the situation better.

We exchanged numerous text messages and phone calls today regarding the trip that he was obliged to take. I asked him if it would complicate things if I came with him to Quezon City, and I even said that it was ok if I didn't come, but he insisted that it will make things easier for him if I'm there by his side. I said yes. I'll go with him. I can’t say no. I won’t say no.

And now... We are here, sitting inside the parked car. The objective is but a few steps away, and yet it felt like it was more difficult than before. On our way to park the car, people already saw us, and we both knew that there was no turning back.

I noticed that the fervor that I usually see in his face has left him. In its place were a blank stare and a look of hesitation which continuously deters my eyes. I can’t stare at him that long because it pains me to see him that way. He did not talk about his feelings but I knew he has the same pent up anger that I nurse inside me. We are in similar situations after all and this worries me. The object of his hatred was just a few meters away, across the street. I felt the weakness around him, and I knew that this time, even though I'm scared of surrounding myself with strangers, it’s my turn to be the sturdy one.

"Ok ka lang?" I asked moments after he killed the engine.

There was a brief pause before his reply and I thought he didn't hear me. He only noticed me when I unlocked the car door.

"Ha? uh... ok ka na? Are you ready to go?"

"Yeah. Shall we go?"

"Ok. Tara"

We got off the car and I walked towards his side. It was a quiet village and the sound of the car alarm activating echoed off the tall walls and apartments along the street. This attracted unwanted stares from the house across the street where we are supposed to go. I bowed my head and pretended to straighten the black pants that I wore earlier today at work.

We started to cross the street towards the house. From the outside I can see the yellowish electric light as it glowed on the flowers and the opened curtains. We haven't reached the yard yet but I was already overwhelmed by the atmosphere. The air was thick with the smell of different flowers. Beside the gate were guys, huddled together, obviously catching a cigarette break. They were the guys who saw us as we pulled over at the curb. I don't recognize any of them but it seemed that they recognized us because they gave us nods of greeting as we approached. I just smiled, nodded back and continued walking.

We've both been to this house before; at least that’s what I was told. I can’t remember because I was too young. It feels strange to see the actual place that I heard so many stories about. Sad stories. Stories of memories that people hope to forget. Stories that are a little too familiar. We went through the gate and noticed that tables and chairs were set up at the yard. This was a gathering, but this is certainly not a party. No one was laughing, but there were conversations spoken at a whisper. The people wee gathered in groups, most of them were older women, while the men were outside the gate.

We walked along the stone path at the yard and it lead to the wooden main doors of the house. This house is bigger than ours in Makati, but this one is older. "His grandparents used to live here", I thought. I've never really had an idea how his relatives from the father side live. The only relatives that I got to know were from his mother's side. Looking at the house and the people in and around the house told me that their lifestyles were totally different.

We stopped in front of the steps leading to the main doors. At the top of the steps was a man in his early 50's, and beside him was a woman who I assumed to be his wife. On their faces was the look of sadness and exhaustion. They wore tired smiles as they welcome guests. The wife has a disheveled look, it’s as if she hasn't slept well for the past few days. I couldn't help but compare. She looked younger, and even though she was in stress, I have to admit that she is pretty. "She doesn't look as sophisticated though," I thought to myself.

Although we were guests, my companion was reluctant to approach. I knew that we had to talk to this man because his was the only face I recognized in that place. I saw him first from the old photo albums in our house in Makati. Those photo albums were tucked away in a box and in a closet in an unused room in the house. Nanay scolded me when I opened them. Di ko na raw dapat pinapakialaman yun. I took a second look at the man at the doorway and I concluded that resemblance is undeniable. The man at the door looked so much like his son.

As we stepped closer, I heard my companion exhale a sigh. I could only assume that he was pacing himself- an act of self control. I knew that he didn't want to be in this place. He wouldn't have come if not for his deceased ninang, and he can’t believe that his mom actually forced him to come. I heard them arguing over it on the phone two days ago. He told me about this conversation with his mom, and even though they weren't really in good terms, his father is still his father, and she didn't raise him to ignore his responsibilities and obligations to his family.

"Pa..." Al said to get the attention of the man at the door. I knew that it was difficult for him to address him as his dad, knowing what his father had done, and knowing how he felt about it.

"Oi," replied the man.

One syllable each, nice greeting, I thought to myself. I've seen them talk before, but it was in a place with less people. I wondered if they were looking at each other eye to eye, but I couldn’t turn my head because it would've been impolite to stare, although I noticed that the people inside the house looked at us at the corner of their eyes. I can’t help but imagine that they were whispering about us at our backs. "Sino yung kasama nya?" I can imagine the people around us asking. I felt out of place- I'm not even part of the family, who am I to be in this funeral wake?

"Good Evening Aldrin," said the wife. I thought her voice would sound like a shrill of an evil witch who I characterized her to be in the stories from Tita and my mom. I was mistaken. Her voice shook but it was soft. She wore a smile, and I thought that she is uncomfortable in welcoming his husband's son that isn't hers, let alone speaking his name.

"Condolences po," I replied and gave the couple the mass card that we brought with us.

The situation is very awkward for all of us and I could only cling to Al's arm to tighter to remind him that I'm there with him, no matter what happened. The four of us wouldn't have moved, and the void was already beginning to scare me. The silence was broken when a young lady, who I later found out was Aldrin's Tita Vivian, his dad's spirited younger sister, noticed us and dragged us away from his dad to introduce us to some of Al's other relatives.

He didn't have the change to talk to his father again that night. I assumed that they are avoiding each other.

It’s a cliché, I thought- older men sacrificing their family just to be with pretty, younger women. The story is old and the details have blurred- but is, unfortunately unforgotten, and the characters remained unforgiven. If this were a book, I have read through it time and again, and yet I still don’t know who the dedicated mother should blame. The younger woman or the unsatisfied man? Now, looking at the characters directly, and how they lived their lives apart, I find myself not in a position to judge. It is a sad reality that they have to live their lives as a broken family- even sadder that the story of my own broken family has intertwined with them as well.

After being introduced to Al's relatives, we walked towards the casket where Aldrin's ninang laid in peace. I wondered how he felt. I knew then that his deceased ninang was the farthest from his mind.

Is it more difficult to live without a father, to have an entire life looking for that paternal approval of your existence but only to be eternally frustrated because he has denied you from the very start- Or to have a father but be disappointed because his morals are questionable, and he has no regard for the principles that you have been brought up to uphold?

He opened up to me years ago. He felt like sometimes, his very own existence was the very proof that his parents made a mistake- that if he was not conceived, then his parents could've lived without the deception, lies and pain that they had to go through. This was not far from what I feel about myself. We are in similar situations after all.

If this were a book, all I can do now is what I can do best: to stand beside the son. I looked at Al's reflection on the glass casing of the casket and tightened my grip on his arm. He turned his head towards me and his lips gave me a momentary smile.

This was enough to tell me that he will be ok.

-Emma Lew.