Saturday, December 27, 2008

Not Sleepy Yet

I can’t sleep. I guess the potent mix of mucolytic, paracetamol, ascorbic acid and a few bottles of alcohol did that. Usually, I never have problems sleeping drunk, it’s the opposite that’s true, staying awake drunk. To make matters worse, since I couldn’t sleep I thought I might as well fix myself my usual cup of coffee. Bad move, now I could feel my heart trying to leap out of my chest with every beat. So what do I do? I light up a cigarette, hoping it would somehow relax me. Now I have a coughing fit which further amplifies the pulsation. Great. Hmm… what if I add whiskey to the mix?

Well, I guess I better not try it. I’m in enough trouble as it is. Besides, it’s too early for Johnny, best to wait till after lunch. Think of it as that halo-halo that kids used to have for their afternoon snack.

Hmm, a busy day ahead of me, that’s for sure. First, the dishes. A week’s worth of it. Then the bathroom, then sweeping the floor. That should keep me busy until around ten at which time the supermarket should be open and I could do my groceries. Just the basics: food for two weeks. Then some items that I have earmarked, spice jars and some condiments I’m running low on. Or maybe I could hit the mall first, I might spoil the frozen food that I’m buying if I take too much time at the department store. I need to get some fabrics, maybe 5 yards or so to cover the couch and the recliner. No idea how much this will cost me, though. Then over to toy world for a birthday present to a friend’s kid. Also I need to pass by the hardware section for some tacks, sandpaper, double-sided tape (bravo invention, by the way!) and a small file.

After that, I need to clean the car. It’s been two weeks I think. It looks more like a soiled combat boot more than anything. Poor baby. Also need to have the spare tire balanced. I changed the rim a week ago but the fools didn’t balance it. Can’t risk having a bum spare tire again for the long drive ahead. Then I head over to my parent’s house to get some speakers.

And then day turns into night. There’s a birthday party I’m supposed to go to. Don’t plan to stay too long, though. I might make my condition worse.

So the problem now is, with me not having slept a wink the whole night last night, at what point will I succumb to sleep? Darn. If I recall correctly, this was supposed to be a holiday break. So far, 3 days into it I haven’t had enough rest. Tomorrow there’s a children’s party I need to go to. My last chance is on the twenty ninth. Sleeping all day sounds like a wonderful thought!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Waiting for Valentines (1994)

I was rummaging through my old room at my parent’s house looking for my old comics. Being a little short on money for that DVD player that I wanted to buy, I thought selling off my comics on eBay was a great way to raise it. Trouble was I never found my comics, drats! What I did find was a stash of old poems and stories which I wrote way way waaaay back in high school. Reading back on these, two things were evident: that I was a crappy poet, and that adolescence brings an unhealthy sexual appetite that never did go anywhere.

But anyway, there are some works that I think were almost passable. Too bad that they were printed with Wordstar 5.0 and saved on 5.25 inch diskette. So I have to re-type them (lots of editing) to be able to post them. Oh well, there goes the laundry…

Waiting for Valentines

February 4, 1994

I was really getting pretty bored that night at home. Mom and Dad were out of the country and my sister had this slumber party at her friend’s house. I was the only on left at home. You’d think that I was having the time of my life. Well, things don’t always that way. All my friends were either dead asleep or were hogging their telephones talking to some chick. I was left with old stacks of adult magazines that I had bought over the years. I was young and restless. I thought of driving around but was kinda scared. I just got my student’s permit and getting caught driving without a licensed driver meant a really long stint being grounded.

Out of boredom I decided to shoot some hoops. I got into some sandals and took the ball out to the court. I never liked playing basketball alone, but then I didn’t really have a choice. It was either play or read some more of those magazines, and my right hand was getting sore. I never got to play anyway, the neighborhood dogs had filled the court with enough shit that each time you’d attempt a shot, shit would literally come flying after you. I never really liked the idea of cleaning up so that idea went out the window pretty fast. I went back and sat by our gate. The street was empty, a few parked cars, some cats, plants, nothing unusual until I looked up. I noticed that Jody’s light was on. That was strange. I noticed that their car was not in the driveway. A thought flashed in my mind, I went back inside and dialed her up. One ring, two, three…


“Jody, it’s Nick.”

“Hi, what’s up?”

“Nothing. Just saw your light was on.”

“Yeah, I was reading a book.”


“Nothing, just something I need to make a report on.”

“Schoolwork? Ugh. Never remind me about school.”

“Sorry. You know, it is so boring around here. There’s no one home. They’re in Baguio, Tommy got first place in a quiz bee.”

“Isn’t Jim there?”

“He went out.”

“”So you’re bored too?”

“Dead bored. Say, aren’t your folks out?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Let’s go driving.”

“What? I just got my student’s permit…”

“C’mon. I’m coming over.” She said with a tone that meant no wasn’t an option. My mind worked double time to process this. Agree: Fun. Disagree: Boring. And with that, the monotony of the night had been broken.

She buzzed around 15 minutes after. Armed with leftover cash, half a tank of petrol and a box of doughnuts, I had this all planned out. We’d eat, visit some friends and have sex. Well, wishful thinking mostly.

I opened the gate and she wore jeans and a t-shirt. It was a cold and damp night. We got in the car and drove. We got onto the avenue with her feeding me a doughnut. Traffic was light and the yellow incandescent lights took our fancies. She started snooping around the car. Looking into ashtrays, compartments, pillows and stuff.

“Hey, do you wanna go to the Music Hall?” She asked.

“Who’s playing?”

“I dunno, let’s just go and see.” We headed for the Music Hall. I never enjoyed going there, never. I hope that Artstart or Side A wasn’t playing or I would be sucked into that place with no choice whatsoever. I never understood why these bands are followed around by screaming teenage girls. They play old songs, they have pockmarks on their faces, they never pay copyrights… I just hate those guys.

“Don’t you just love Side A?”

“Uh, yeah, they’re ok. They’re great.”

“I heard they’re having an album out this year. Just can’t wait to get it.”

“Oh really?”

“Uh-huh. I just hope it’s gonna be as good as their old ones.”

“Uh, yeah. Hey, that’s Annapolis, isn’t it?” Whew! Of course I knew it was, but I just had to stop her blabbering. She nodded, leaving me wondering if she knew I was looking through my peripherals for her otherwise useless answer and quieted down. She must have been already dreaming of Side A palying.

Fortunately, neither Side A nor Artstart was playing. Only an unknown band with a really dumb name. She was disappointed, I was glad.

“Want a bite?” I asked, feeling a little twitch in my stomach.

“Sure.” McDonald’s was open all night. There were a few cars parked, a premiere was playing at the theater and while I was already out of the car, Jody was still brushing her hair. We went in and found the place half full. She told me to order for her and she sat at a table by the window. I ordered burgers, fries and drinks. She didn’t seem to mind and nibbled on a fry. “It’s so wonderful.”

“What is?”


“You mean McDonalds?”


“What is this plastic for?” I asked, pointing to a plastic object the size and shape of a bottlecap.

“That’s for putting catsup in, dimwit!”

“Yeah I just knew that, I meant why so small a cup for the catsup? All it fits is just one short droop of it.”

“Silly boy… just go and get us catsup.”

“You do it. I already got our orders, you know.”

“Oh c’mon, you’re the guy. You’re supposed to be the one running errands for a sweet young defenseless lady like me.”

“Abusive’s more apt.”

“Masochist pig!” With that she took the bottlecap-looking object and went off. I didn’t really mind retrieving catsup, it’s just that I didn’t know how to use the weird looking catsup dispenser that they had at this particular joint. “There’s your catsup, I hope you choke on it!”

“We choked on catsup for half an hour or so. She wanted to drive around. I wanted to take off all her clothes. As time passed, she appealed to me in a different way. I started to have that same feeling when I would spy on her from my window, waiting for her to come out from the bathroom, leave the drapes open and undress right in front of me. That unfortunately never happened, but I used to spy on her window a lot, when we were a couple of years younger. Tonight however was the longest time and the closest to her that I have ever been.

“The car’s interiors had the soft tang of her perfume as she put some on, making me wonder where else she would lead me. She turned on the radio and a buzzing static came on. I started the car and asked where we were going. “Do you know where Balete Drive is?”

“What?” An bell rang in my head. Balete drive didn’t really appeal to me as a great tourist attraction. “C’mon, you’re not serious, are you?”

“Maybe.” She said. I could feel the smile on her face.

“Don’t people die there? Livers eaten and heads thrown into the gutter?”

She replied in a very coaxing way, “You mean you’re chicken?”

“Of course not.”


“Hey, I’ve got better things to do than that!”

“C’mon, please? I’ll pay for your carwash, treat you to McDo, anything!”

“A term paper?” I actually had another thing in mind but didn’t want to lose her company.

“Now seriously, do you want to fail?” The radio began to play after much tinkering on her part. She gave me a wink and not a moment later, I obliged. The car sped through nearly deserted roads, radio blasting, engine revving and my nerves all shot. My left foot was started to shake, my hands shivered in the cold, my heart beating loudly. She looked on intently ahead, not moving, I could feel her breathing heavily. A couple of turns later, Balete Drive. The foliage covering the drive seemed to wave at us with the breeze. The large houses and spacious lawns gave an eerie feeling. The car slithered through slowly down the drive, crumpling fallen leaves and twigs. She turned off the radio and closed the windows. Her hand shivered over mine as our eyes looked ahead, wary of the special reputation that this place carried. It felt as if the full moon shone particularly on the street as the dogs barked on at this untimely intruder.

“Suddenly I saw something jump up from the street and in absolute panic, I stepped on the brakes with all of my might, all tires screeched as loud as they could and the engine stalled. The tail spun and the car ended up almost sideways as I kept my eye on the alien being that suddenly descended on the road. As the screeching stopped, I realized that Jody had been screaming all the while in panic while she cringed in her seat, almost in tears. My body meantime turned pale as my eyes followed the toad hop and jump across the road.


“What was it? Did you see anything?”

“Don’t worry, it’s gone now.”

“Are you sure?” I watched the toad still there, looking back while jumping towards the opposite gutter. Rotten amphibians.

“Yeah it’s gone. Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I guess. Nick, whatever you saw just don’t tell me what it is, okay?”

You bet. “Alright.” I saw the color coming back into her cheeks and decided that that was enough excitement for one day.

“I’m sorry for the Balete Drive thing.”

“No problem.”

“You must have been really scared.”

We next drove up to a supermarket. “Let’s get a couple of things and just stay home.” She nodded her approval. I parked the car right up front and we both entered the supermarket. There were two security guards, a janitor and a few clerks as we entered. It wasn’t big at all, probably a little bigger than a 7-11, but it had everything I needed.

“What are you buying, anyway?”

“Oh, just some stuff.” Some stuff included items of an alcoholic nature. The refrigerator was loaded, I took out a couple of six packs.

“Aha! Now I know what you’re up to!”

“And so what are you going to do about it?”

“Absolutely nothing!”


“Hey, could you make mine super dry?” I obliged and switched the booze to the super dry variety. She also picked up some chips, nuts and I a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. We went out of the store and headed home soon after. She volunteered to take the contraband from me as I struggled with the keys and she now cradled them on her lap. We were excited about the stuff but didn’t talk too much about it along the way. She examined the Marlboros, opened the pack and took out a stick. “Can we open the windows?”

“Sure.” I opened the windows for her and she tried to light up. The wind kept extinguishing the flame, though.

“How do you light this up in this wind?” I took the stick and lighted it for her with the car’s lighter. She took the stick and took a puff.

“How did you learn how to smoke?” I asked.

“My friends taught me.”

“You smoke regularly?”

“No, only on occasion.”

“Can you give me a stick?” She took one from out of the pack and lighted it up with hers.


“Thanks.” I slowly slid my car beside the gate and took out my key. The lock opened and we came inside. “Do you think your parents called?”

“They already did before we left. Chances are they think me and Jim are already asleep.”

“We went up the stairs and at the end of the stuffy corridor was my room. I opened the door and the lights. I raised the blinds and put the table beside the window. She sat down on the bed and opened the plastic bag containing the goodies. She took each item one by one and placed them neatly on the table.

“I’ll just go downstairs to get some ice and glasses, okay?” She left the room not waiting for an answer as I took a can of beer from the table.

I had set the dimmer to low by the time she came up with two glasses and an ice box. She was smoking a cigarette and wore my slippers as she took her place beside me facing the table. I opened a can for her and she poured into her ice-filled glass. Bubbles oozed out as she over-filled her glass. The slow descent of the suds on the side of the glass left us staring and waiting before she finally picked up the glass and took a long sip.

“I was reading a book just before you called, a short story actually.”



“What’s that?”

“It is sort of a medallion, sculpted in the image of the Madonna. The story is about a kid that falls in love with a solon’s other woman, set back in the seventies.”


“Well, the kid tries to know more about this woman so he tries to be where she is going and asks around about her.”

“How old is this kid?”

“Thirteen. So he then finds out the truth about her but he doesn’t care because he doesn’t understand everything yet. One day, after mass, he met her and as a token of her gratitude for his kindness, she give him the cameo as a present. As he grows to love the woman even more, the real wife of this politician has her killed and he becomes broken hearted. “

“Sounds interesting.”


“Hey, where are you going for college?”

“Hopefully, La Salle. You?”

“I really want to go to UP. The problem is that I don’t know if I’m going to meet the quota. I hope I do.”

“What schools have you applied to anyway?”

“UP, Ateneo, La Salle, maybe UST. So far that’s it. You know, I just can’t believe that high school is over. It’s so sudden. In a wink, there goes four years of school. Next year, were gonna meet new people, new friends, enemies, that sort of thing. I don’t think I want to.”

“Yeah, me too. It’s like, all my friends are here. It’s fun and all, and now, I may not be able to meet up with them again. My whole life is gonna change I guess.”

“Yeah. Let’s drink to that!” The window gave a cool breeze as the ice kept melting. She made me turn off the lights as we watched from the window the rooftops of the other houses. The moonlight and our cigarettes lighted the room for us and the beer made our spirits lighter.

Against the moonlight, I saw her. Her short, brown hair swayed with the breeze. Her cheeks regained their rose red complexion, her eyes possessed a sparkle and her voice echoed in my mind. She was beautiful in a quiet way, sitting here beside me, gleaming like the moon. I imagined her as the cameo she talked about, and wore her.

“Nick, do you have a deck of cards somewhere?”

“Sure. I’ll get them, but I dare you to a game of strip poker!” She seemed amused by the thought but I didn’t think she would seriously consider a game with me.

“Uhm, okay.” Her answer came to me as a direct shock.

“You serious? I was only joking around, you know.”

“What’s the matter, chicken?” That tone again! The same one at McDonald’s.

“Fine!” I answered as I fumbled my way through the room.

Half sane, half asleep, we played. I remember having lit a candle and closing the windows for the game. Our shadows rose on my wallpapered room. She had a smile on her face, I had a blush on mine. I wasn’t used to having girls in my room, much less playing strip poker.

The first few deals were pretty amusing. A watch, shoestring, ribbons, hairpins. After the teenage accessories were exhausted, we were left with only our clothes. Her smile disappeared and tension began to rear its ugly head. The ice had long melted away, and the stench of cigarette smoke filled the air. She lost her shirt, I lost mine a deal later.

“Just a few more deals!” She said. I won, then lost. Out went both pairs of pants.

“What are you laughing at?” I managed to utter. She pointed to my groin which outlined a very stiff member.

“Sorry, let’s continue playing!” Despite her enthusiasm, she lost. She didn’t know whether to take off her bra or not when I threw a blanket at her.

“Game’s over, I win.” She was quiet at first.

“I’d say were even.” She managed to say as she put back on her shirt and pants.

“Well, whatever then.” I gathered the cards up and got another can. She asked to get another for her and poured. Then we again lit cigarettes. I too dressed up and lay on the bed awhile. She lay back as well, using my chest as a pillow. I placed my other hand on her belly and she played with it, pulling, pinching, having her way with it. “How many days till valentines?”

“Nine, ten? I dunno. Why, can’t wait to see your date?”

“Well not exactly. I don’t have one.”


“Never really had a valentine date before.”

“Well, just so you know, you’re not missing much. My valentines usually turn out just like any other day or date. Just you and the guy…”

“Uh huh.”

“I mean, nothing really special I guess. Same as any other date.”

“Well, I wouldn’t know now, would I?”

“It’s just a day. Flowers bloom without a thought about it. Beggars beg as every other day. Come to think of it, it is quite forgettable.”


“I mean, you go out with this guy you just met or who you think would be a great date, but after that you begin to realize there is no special magic. Just two people.”

“Yeah, well, I dunno.” We just lay there for a while. Not really doing anything for a while. Silent and unmoving.



“You’re awake.”

“I was just thinking.”

“Lemme guess…”

“Just thinking of women. Touching their bodies, feeling their touch.” She sat up and took my hand, moving them through her nape, shoulders and neck.

“Like this?” I slid my hands down from her neck down to the valley of her breasts. She froze, but didn’t stop me. I brought her to me with my other hand, kissed her, feeling her lips part. Then I broke off.

She just looked at me, without words. Half expecting and yet not knowing what to do next. I stood up, got the keys to the car. “Let’s go out.” She silently nodded.

We were back in the car again, a little drunk.

“Do you have the cigarettes?” I handed her the pack. “It’s the last one. Let’s just share it.” She lit up and handed me the next puff. I started the car up and soon we were out on the street. We remained silent as I clumsily navigated our way through a labyrinth of streets and avenues. I turned to a notorious avenue that was well known for bars and streetwalkers. From a distance, I spotted her, her lithe figure standing on the sidewalk, carrying a large handbag over her shoulder. I slowed down and stopped the car a few meters ahead of her, unsure of how this situation would play out. From the mirrors, I saw her watch as the car slowly passed by and stop. In the dark, she looked like a teenager, no more than twenty. Long black hair, the shadows that outlined her face were striking and I suddenly was out of words to say. She seemed to be staring at me through the same mirror as she walked towards us.

Jodi was silent the whole time. She alternated from looking at me to the lady walking towards us but didn’t dare speak out. A sort of understanding that no questions were to be asked permeated the atmosphere. She studied her, starting from the plain looking sandals, the tight fitting jeans and her flowing blouse with the very low neckline.

The lady reached the door, regarded Jodi for a minute then turned her attention to me. “Hi.”


“Do you want to party?”

“How much?” This was a question I have been asking myself for the past 15 minutes.

“Threesome?” Jodi, who had been studying the girl at the window suddenly jerked her head towards me with an alarmed look on her face.

“No, just me.” We had dispensed of the details the next 30 seconds and she hopped in the back seat, sandals, bag and all. Her name was Pearl.

We checked into a motel. Entering, Pearl came in first and Jodi stopped at the anteroom. She looked at me and I could tell she was shivering, I just didn’t know if it was from excitement or fear. I put a hand on her shoulder and led her into the main room.

Pearl was in the bathroom and Jodi sat on a large upholstered chair that lay on the side of the bed. I turned off the lights save for the subdued glow from the lamp on the table. Then, there was the sound of a flush from the bathroom. The water from the tap stopped, so did out heartbeats. We stared at the bathroom door as the door swung open to reveal Pearl with only a towel on her. She looked at me and told me to lie on the bed. She didn’t seem to mind that Jodi was there and simply disregarded her presence. I lay on the bed and she straddled her legs on my thighs. She took off the towel and revealed herself. She then loosened my belt and took off my shirt. I could feel my body shivering with the lightest touch of her skin. “Why are you shivering?”

“Nothing.” I just lay there, transfixed on her and feeling each soft inch of her body. She continued on, taking her time with each button of my jeans, purposely letting my anticipation get the best of me. She was pulling down my pants and when I sat up and put my arms around her tight as I could. She let me and guided my lips to her heaving chest. I felt numb, lucid with suppressed excitement as my hands worked to feel her soft body. She clamped my legs with hers and eased out of my hands, letting my body feel hers.

We were back in the car an hour later, Pearl again in the back seat and Jodi, still silent, riding shotgun. Pearl suddenly looked a lot older, and the years showed as she lit a cigarette, the glow highlighting the years on her face as well as in her eyes. She got off at the same place where we picked her up and we watched her alight the car and whisper her thanks.



“Are you hungry?”

“Are you? Actually yeah I think I do want to grab a bite.” We settled on a taco stand we spied on a few hours before. We ordered and sat on the plastic stools that they had up front. She took out her small purse and checked her pocked calendar, counting days.

Our orders came and we chowed down on it as hungry wolves. We finished with drinks and I caught her in a yawn. “Sleepy?”

“Kinda. Long day and all.”

“Let’s go home.” We were back in the car again, she reclined the seat as we cruised through to home. It was a few hours before sunrise and the streets were already deserted. We stopped at our gate when I spotted a figure on our front door.

“Hey, isn’t that your sister, Karen?” I was alarmed.

“Hey, what are you doing here?” Karen’s eyes opened from her soft slumber and peered at me.

“I thought you were home.”

“Yeah, I just went out. I thought you were at your friend’s house?”

“Vicky’s mom came to pick her up. I asked if they could drop me off as well. I thought you would be home.” She was stifling a yawn. I picked her up and she put her arms around me, still half asleep. I took out the keys but couldn’t open the door, Jodi took them and opened it for us. “Where have you been?”

“Just out with Jodi.” She looked at Jodi and whispered something in my ear. I managed to smile and whispered back. I carried her to her room and as I left, Jodi closed her door after me.

“Is she alright?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“She’s so cute. I don’t have any sisters. Wish I had one.” She led the way out of the house and I followed. “Thanks for an interesting time. I’m beat.”

“Me too. Sorry if I maybe went a bit too far.”

“Yeah, sorry about the mess in your room.” We were already outside and she crossed the street to her house, me following. “Hey Nick, no plans on valentines?”

“Thought you didn’t care for valentines?”

“Well, it wouldn’t be a date or anything. Just thought you’d like to hang out, grab a bite.”

“Ah ok. Yeah, I’d like that.”

“Well, ok then. See you in nine days.” She went closer, and bussed my cheek. “Good night!” Of course, I was speechless. I watched as she went through her door, looked one last time and closed it behind her. I still stood there as I watched the lights in her room go on and off again. Then I finally turned my back and went inside our own house, feeling the weight my weariness all over. As I closed the door, I took one last glimpse of her window and told myself nine days is just too long a wait.

Friday, December 12, 2008

It Stops At Six

Counting back, I realize that I have gone home drunk these past six days. I know I have made some sort of resolution to control my consumption of alcohol but some things just can’t be helped. In my defense, it was a series of events that called for it. I did however plan to stop the series today and have.

Thinking about it, my recent alcoholic exploits have resulted in a number of negative consequences:

1. A series of bad hangovers

Lately, I had been experiencing really sluggish mornings. Even with the aid of coffee, I can’t seem to shake off that heavy-headed feeling until lunchtime. Though I have been waking up right on time and getting to the office fairly early, I find my mind still on zombie mode. Obviously, this takes away hours of productive time that otherwise would have made my job a lot easier rather than having to cram a day’s worth of work in just a few hours in the afternoon.

2. Putting off the laundry

I do my own laundry, a means of saving up on money and making sure that the few clothes that I do own are safe and properly cared for. It does put a lot of strain on my schedule so I usually do it on the weekends. Between the hangover and getting ready for the next drinking spree, I just didn’t have time for it until tonight.

3. Weight gain

I’ve been trying to lose weight for over a year now, and so far I have lost a lot. However, these periodic alcohol binges take their toll on the scales. Sigh…

4. Lost savings

Unlike my weight, I lose money each time I open that next bottle of beer. And with the financial situation that I find myself in, I don’t think that I should be doing too much drinking. But then again, some things take precedence over money.

5. Health risks

Last Monday (was it?), I caught myself with a bad hangover and palpitating like hell. The coffee certainly didn’t help, and the cigarettes made it all worse. I may not be the most health conscious person in the world, but I have no intention of falling flat on my face in some gasoline station food court.

6. Drunk texting / Drunk calling

Yes, guilty. Not only do I make a fool of myself, but I can be really irritating and run the risk of losing a friend. Sorry about that.

The above are just some of the negatives. So how do I justify continuing my drunken ways? Well, let’s just say that the positives outweigh all these negatives. I hope…

A Parable

This is one those parables that time and again has reminded me of some of the most basic truths about people. I first heard it when I was in grade school during one of those daily morning messages of Fr. Capelli, and then years after, read it from one of Dr. Juan Flavier’s editorials back when he wrote for the Philippine Star. I’m pretty sure that one time or another each one of us or someone we know has felt like the turtle in this story.

The Parable of the Turtle and the Scorpion

One day after a storm, a turtle and a scorpion were stranded on the wrong side of the river. They were both on the way to the other side and though the river was no hurdle for the turtle, the scorpion could not swim and thus was unable to get across on his own.

The scorpion turned to the turtle and asked, “Since you can swim across and I can’t, could you probably let me ride on your back and let me off on the other side?”

The turtle gave it a thought and said, “I could swim across easily even with you on my back, but I’m afraid you might sting me and then I would freeze up and drown.”

“But why would I do such a thing? If I do sting you and you drown, then that would be the end of me as well. So there is no reason that I would do such a thing.”, said the scorpion.

The turtle thought about the situation a little more and then agreed to the cross-river piggyback ride. So they both walked to the edge of the river and the turtle lets the scorpion ride atop his shell. He started to swim across the river and as soon as they got midway across, right at the deep end of the river, he felt a short stab on his neck. Alas, despite the promise made by the scorpion, the turtle was betrayed and started to sink, the scorpion with him.

Before the turtle went under, he turned to the scorpion still on his back and asked, “Why did you do that?! You know very well that you would also drown along with me!”

The scorpion merely looked at the expiring turtle and with the most serious look on his face answered, “Because that’s my nature.”

Monday, November 17, 2008

My ten minutes of boredom

Ok, out of boredom I found myself thinking just what can I write in a span of 10 minutes. There is no fixed topic of any sort, all that I am doing is writing what comes into my head (as fast as my fingers can type, at least) for the next minutes and see what I come up with. Hmm, that may turn out to be one really uninteresting piece if my calculations are correct but I’ll just see how this goes. So humor me.

Well, 2 minutes have passes and so far this is where I have come. I reckon that around half a minute was spent on backspacing, yes I am a terrible typist. I don’t know what I’d be able to do if we lived in the age of non-correctable typewriters. The clackity-clak type. I remember we used to have those really big typewriters, the manual variety in high school typing class. That was one semester wasted. I never really got the hang of it. And my fingertips used to hurt like hell after typing my name for 2 typing papers. For those of you who know my name, you will understand the reason why I was really good at it. Double the practice in the same amount of time. Hehe.

Ok, that’s now 5 minutes. Still a lot of corrections but not as much as the first two minutes. Either my fingers suddenly discovered the feel of the keyboard or my mind has gone into slow motion mode. It’s probably more of the latter as I am having trouble thinking of the next succession of words that I am going to type.

Long pause, about 10 seconds. Signs that my brain is all set to go to stand by mode. During these times, I just blankly stare at whatever is in front of me with absolutely nothing going on in my head. Yet, I am a sort of expert when it comes to that, lately my brain has been fried from doing these reviews for a friend (professionally, of course) that I have begun to appreciate being able to think of absolutely nothing. The perfect way to de-stress.

Ok, approaching the final minute of this endeavor. Undoubtedly this has got to be among the top 5 dumb and utterly useless ideas that I have come up with. Winding down to 30 seconds. Hmm, there is that next urgent problem that will be coming up soon, I realize. The problem now is what the heck am I gonna do next? (10:08 )

At Wit's End

I have a tendency to get drunk. It’s a side effect of drinking large quantities of alcohol. It happens to me a lot, a consequence of the right conditions: My presence and alcohol’s. Some people say I’m an alcoholic, but that’s them and I’m me. It’s pointless to argue with them so I just steer clear of the topic and reach out for another drink.

On some occasions when I drink, I am known to forget some things that I have done during my moments of drunkenness. Last night was one of those occasions. I was informed by some friends of mine of what I did. Yep, that sounded like something that I would have done given that state. I checked my shirt at once and finding no shoe impressions on it, I can safely say that it was a moderately good time. Shoe impressions, you see, means that I had a deliriously splendid time with me irritating some person to no end resulting in said foot apparel landing on my person.

Yes, I guess I could do without all the antics and bouts of amnesia. So from now on, I will stick to a rate of 25mL of alcohol per half hour. That means approximately 1 shot of hard drinks every thirty minutes or 1 bottle of beer. At that rate, assuming I drink for 2 hours, I get to drink 4 bottles of beer which is way below my average pace. Under the proper gastronomic conditions it will be nearly impossible for me to turn into Mr. Hyde following the above. It should also increase my savings and allow the streets of Manila to be safer.

Barring any catastrophe, I resolve to keep my alcohol intake under control. Hmm… can’t wait to try it, though. Hahahaha!

Never the right question to the wrong answer

I find myself watching Big Fish on HBO for the nth time. A little fairy tale-ish, yes but so entertaining nonetheless. I specially like the thought of being too big for a small town, sort of the opposite of what I feel, actually. And so enter insecurity, please!

Reading comics growing up, there is a god (or cosmic being?) in the Marvel universe called the watcher. And that is all that he does, watch stuff. How can you be a god when all you do is watch stuff? Undoubtedly the creation of a couch potato, This giant-headed being really has no say in the whole universe, except of course when chronicling epic battles of supreme importance. Where do I sign up for that? I definitely feel that I can do that job well.

I remember each and every car accident that I was in and that eventful half a second before I hit whatever object was in the way. That half second could just as well have been an hour. Everything just slows down and I get to see every little detail of what’s going on. It’s that moment when you’ve done all that you could and you just freeze and brace yourself for what’s to come. Upon impact, everything speeds up again and you see “the light”. It’s sort of like a camera flash where everything goes white and that infinitesimal moment gets etched into your memory. I couldn’t remember where I was and where I was going but I remember that moment in full high definition.

Recently, something of the sort happened. Of course, I was a spectator on the sidelines just watching. I won’t tell you what happened and how exactly it becomes significant for me, being that the internet is within the public domain but it felt pretty similar to a car crash. And “the light” was there. Oh yes, it didn’t occur to me that it was a “the light” moment but it was unmistakably there, all right. “The light” was followed by the usual moment of panic of not knowing how to react and then calm settles in upon acceptance that it happened. Rats!

Just like in a car crash, the aftermath was pretty messy and involved a lot of thought. The ensuing back and forth of post-“the light” analysis between me and myself led to nothing as usual, just that blank stare that demanded huge quantities of alcohol to be consumed. The hang over wasn’t of much help either, and when the smoke cleared there were more questions that always came up with no answers. Hello, is anybody home up there?

Such as shame that I learn nothing from these moments. Therapy might seem like a good option, but is knowing what went wrong without the corrective-action-gene going to result into anything? I guess I could accept the fact that these things will happen again in the future and that this inevitability comes much sooner rather than later. So cheers to you, The Watcher! Can you please pass the bar nuts?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Awake at 4am

It’s four o’clock in the morning. I should be sleeping by now. But thanks to my lovely afternoon nap, I’m still awake. I had promised myself to put in a couple of hours of work since I’m still up but haven’t really got the motivation to do that. It is after all a Friday and from experience, my brain just stops processing on this particular day of the week. Of course it might just be the effect of a few shots of cheap brandy that I had been sipping.

Earlier in the evening, I walked the half kilometer to the ATM machine to pay off some credit card debts. There was a token line of 3 people in front of me, among them were a couple having a spat. It was pretty hard not to listen as they were unabashedly airing dirty laundry right in front of me. The guy in front of them was visibly a bit irked despite the mp3 player that seemed glued to his ears. Their spat intensified when they got in the ATM booth, and this had caused quite a delay that the guy behind me knocked on the transparent glass door to remind the couple that there were people waiting for them to get out. (The non-confrontational me just stood there waiting) So the couple finally got out speechless, finally.

Judging from their uniforms, they were students from the university right across the street. Despite their spat, they still walked out of the booth arm in arm, though their facial expressions still bore their frustrations towards one another. Weird.


After paying off a fraction of my debts, I found myself walking another 200 meters or so towards the drugstore to buy some personals. I have this “thing” where I think I need to buy something and when I get to the store, I suddenly have a change of heart and drop it completely, due in part, I’m sure, to my stingy nature. So after browsing through a few other items, I walked out empty handed. Why do I do this? I am not quite sure but I do this a lot. I walk into the department store with a mission to buy brown shoes and I walk out without anything. Rather quite unlike my mom who walks into a store to buy toothpaste perhaps and comes home with a bag full of items.

Looking back, this habit of mine has either saved me money or deprived me of some necessity that I refuse to acknowledge. Maybe I should have bought the damn thing before I paid my credit card dues? Who knows.


Walking back to my apartment, I found it eerie that I chanced upon the quarreling couple once again. They were standing outside of their school gate still arguing, yet still locked arm in arm. The night class had just ended as an army of uniformed student were pouring out of the gate but there they were, still at each other.

I got back to my empty apartment and promptly plopped myself on the couch and turned on the television. The Amazing Race Asia had just begun. I lay there, half watching the show and half daydreaming about what I would have done being in the same situation. I then went on to think to myself who I wanted to pair up with for the contest. Mentally, I unraveled a list of qualifications that my partner should possess. A knowledge of different Asian cultures, athleticism and a sense of humor (ever notice how witty those guys can be?). I had it short listed to three possible candidates, but then concluded that with my easy going, happy go lucky attitude our team would probably be the first one eliminated. Way to go, dude.


So now I find myself writing nonsense at four o’clock in the morning, and I’m still trying to figure out if writing all this is a waste or a means for me to express myself. Oh well…

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Places I call home

I was born in Bacolod City, but hardly remember a thing from there. I stayed there less than a year after birth and had my first birthday celebration in a small town called San Marcelino in Zambales. Not much that I remember from there either.

My first memories came from another place, this time in Balanga, Bataan. I was maybe a few months into my first year when our family had to move again to this place. My dad wasn’t home most of the time and only came home from work during the weekends, but all the memories that I had from this place somehow involved my dad. These memories weren’t too significant, though. I couldn’t remember any of my birthdays spent there, nor any trips to any resorts or parties.

There are probably just 3 memories that I could think of in that town (now a city, mind you!), one involved my dad folding a paper airplane for me. I was seated on this shiny red waxed floor tearing up pieces of paper, my dad picked a clean piece up and folded it up maybe 10 times. I watched transfixed, wondering why he hadn’t just torn up the piece when he finally licked at the tip of the plane with his tongue and let it fly inside the house. I could only imagine how fascinated I must have looked as I crawled my way to where the paper plane had landed. I was so smitten with the plane that I think I tried to eat it. Of course, that didn’t really work out so I just tore it to bits as I did the others. The other two memories were of a flood that ended with a witch-hunt for this giant snake that entered our compound and playing with our family dog. Strangely no memories that involved my older sister, maybe she was adopted. Hahaha!

And then the whole family had to pack up once again and move to Mandaluyong in Metro Manila. This was where I learned a whole lot playing with the neighbor’s kids a variety of fames that somehow always involved sewer water from the canals that lined our streets. My mom was understandably unimpressed of course and I always came how to the joyous screams of my mom calling on my name to come back home to her loving slipper’s underside.

Growing up in that same neighborhood for the next 8 years saw me through a lot of milestones. My first kiss came from playing house with the neighbors’ kids, me the drunken dad who was to “rape” my wife. My first pages of porn came atop the neighborhood pool hall where I and my friends had our unofficial clubhouse. My first decapitated cat’s head we found at the ruins of the old noodle factory during a raging storm. We played around with it for a while until we got bored and simply chucked it inside a passing passenger jeep. First school day found me wailing just outside the classroom and looking out the window for my aunt who sweetly stayed the whole time outside the classroom of the local public school. Two more sisters came during our stay in this neighborhood, as well as an army of aunts, uncles and cousins who seemed to take shifts staying with us at our home.

It was a sad day when we had to move from the neighborhood where I grew up. My dad had been lucky enough at work to earn enough to buy a new home, still in Mandaluyong but on the other side of town. I was 10 years old then, with no friends and scared stiff at the prospect of sleeping in a new house that was rumored to harbor ghosts.

More firsts followed since moving to this new home. The first death in the family shortly after we moved in, we received a telegram (yes, a telegram was all we had back then) informing us of my grandfather’s death. The first time I saw my mother red-faced with tears on her cheeks was while holding on to that telegram. The whole family hopped on a plane the next day going back to my birthplace.

First experiences with a telephone, cable TV, driving a car, a red mark on my report card, entrance exams, life long friends, girlfriend, alcohol, cigarettes, graduation and a lot of other memories. The next 15 years of my life always came home to this particular house.

Finally moving out of this house after my first job was a sweet moment for me. I spent the first night of my independence with my closest friends drinking and just hanging out in a bare house in Las Pinas City where I would live with my housemate for the next year and a half. This was a phase of discovery for me, having to live independently of parental financial support. I had to scrape on my meager paycheck, living on a day to day basis sustained by noodles and eggs. During this time I was abruptly faced with a myriad of responsibilities which weren’t there before, but I was quite happy and content with my new found independence.

Eventually the two bedroom house became too small for both of us, which prompted my decision to move closer to where I was working after a year and a half.

My next home was right on an edge of a rice paddy. I had staved off a small amount of money and made this house a real home, buying up furniture, appliances and other household items one at a time. To save that extra bit of money, I had took on some housemates from work. Eventually they overran me and I moved back to my parent’s house for a year.

After being miserable for a year, I moved out again and got an apartment two blocks away with my then girlfriend and her brother. This is where I have been staying ever since then, over a year now. The relationship ended and now I live alone in this same house. It is a bit of a blow financially for me but I am really happy with this place. I haven’t quite filled up the place yet but it has everything that I need.

In my lifetime, I guess I’ve moved around quite a bit and I know that in the future I would be moving from home to home even more. But with each new home, comes more experiences, more firsts and more milestones. Though I am happy with where I am now, I just can’t wait for what new home waits for me in the years to come.

I'm open to title suggestions...

Another Monday morning greets Patrick as his first thoughts center around an all too familiar hang-over. He had been drinking again the night before and now as harsh rays of the sun penetrating the window dominate his face, he realizes that he has overslept again. He sluggishly rises from the couch which has been his bed for weeks now and crawls to the sink to relieve the awfully bitter taste of bile from his gut. He makes it to the refrigerator and takes the left-over coffee. Instantly his nostrils fill with the sweet aroma as he finishes half a cup in one gulp.

He looks around at the house, he smiles at the mess. There is an ironic sense of freedom which passes over him, fully knowing that there is no one else to witness the chaos. Not anymore anyway. Patrick scans the rest of the kitchen for sustenance, spotting a cereal box of rice crispies. Grabbing a large spoon, he scoops up a large helping straight from the box. He groans at the noise which is too much for his debilitated condition. He takes a drink of cold coffee again, allowing the slurry in his mouth to slide slowly down his throat. He picks up a pack of cigarettes from the table and lights one up. He savors his first puff, taking a large breath and pausing until he could feel the nicotine rising to his head. His body goes limp with the heady sensation and he settles onto a nearby chair, sucking another lungful.

His mind goes blank, resisting the urge to get some perspective of the day ahead.

Once upon a time, Patrick had a regular job. His colleagues looked up to him as responsible and respectable. Of course Patrick knew this and was quite proud of himself. He was a successful man, he thought. Everything was on the up and up, he was on top of the world! As such, he regarded himself as an example to be emulated by all. His successful career provided well financially, there was no shortage of warm bodies filling his bed and he was at the peak of fitness and health.


A few short months ago, another Monday morning, Patrick gathered himself out of bed, careful not to wake up the warm body beside him while he freed himself from her exhausted embrace. He paced the bedroom, timing his breaths with the up and down motion of his dumbbell laden arms. He next did another routine exercise, then another before gently stroking the pearly white thighs of Shiela to awaken her. He smiled, more to himself than her, admiring his own prowess. In another hour and a half, he had dropped her off at a waiting shed and drove off to work.

It was an uneventful morning. Usual emails, usual coffee, usual office chit-chat by the pantry and the usual sly stares at the new accountant’s cleavage. It was almost boring. The highlight of his day would be the lunch presentation he was to give for their manufacturing and marketing divisions. It provided another opportunity for him to show upper management that he was in charge and ready for bigger things.

And so he got down to real work. Reviewing, updating and practicing his presentation. This was fun. Checking his watch, he got up and put on his suit, ready to awe and inspire once again… move over everyone!

The rest of the day was great for Patrick. At around 5:00 he was getting ready to leave the office when his phone rang. A distant voice from the other line broke through the transceiver, almost inaudible amid the humming static.

“Patrick………. maybe…….. got it.....”
“I can’t understand you, could you get to a better spot? I can’t hear you that well.” The voice was female but there was no way he could know for certain who it was. The timbre was mature, probably in her 30’s, he could hear passing traffic through the static but nothing that would place the caller in a specific location. The line went dead during the next seconds as the voice seemingly shouted muffled blahs amid the buzz. He felt some alarm over the call, maybe there was something wrong but he could’nt imagine what sort of emergency would concern him.

So Patrick finished off the rest of his work and turned off the lights and his computer and headed home. For him, home was a cozy loft at the 20th floor right smack in the middle of an exclusive neighborhood. He was quite proud of this particular investment of his. For 5 years since grad school, he scrimped every single centavo and worked like a maniac for a third tier job that barely compensated him but had the promise of a uniquely advanced training program. He worked Christmases and holidays, never making time to see his parents, friends or new relationships. Each day had been a dish of instant noodles, work and bed but he knew this was temporary and soon he would have time for everything.

So for 5 years, he had been a lifeless drone blindly marching to the beat of the hive. Then that opportunity he had patiently been waiting for suddenly came: an offer to be working for a top global corporation with a hefty financial package and benefits to boot. Without any second thought Patrick had seized the job and worked harder than ever. He lost all his friends, alienated his family and slept in the office most days. He was determined, focused and hungry for anything and everything that would advance his now promising career. Another 5 years had passed and soon, he found himself in a corner office, with more time for himself and even more money than he could spend in a decade.

At this point, Patrick knew he had made it enough to finally live his dream life. He bought a posh pad, the sportscar that everyone wanted but couldn’t afford, and just as easily re-created himself to become the devil-may-care man about town that everyone loathed but secretly wanted to become. He had paid his dues, and now payback was upon him.

He poured himself a drink, settled into the lap of Italy’s finest art-deco couch and smiled, stifling a laugh that mocked the world that once shunned him into mediocrity and insignificance. He had finally won.


Dawn woke him with the shrill electronic shriek of the telephone. He picked up but before he could say anything, he recognized the same voice that had called him amid static just the day before.

“Yeah, who is this? What time is it?”
“Sorry to wake you up so early, I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t wait any longer to talk to you.”
“Who is this?”
“Laura, do you remember me? From last summer? Your girlfriend.”
“Oh….” He remembered. Laura had been his sort of steady girlfriend then, until it got inconvenient anyway.
“’Oh? So you remember?”
“Yeah, how are you, Laura?” This was not the pleasant wake up call he had hoped for when he picked up. A biopic flashed in his mind, one that featured a sobbing Laura crying at a coffee shop while he casually walked away after telling her off. Not the best way to break up. She was a clingy spoiled brat, only daughter of a prominent industrialist. He got bored of her constant craving for attention and tantrums. They went out for 3 months, that was a year ago.
“Listen, could you meet me for breakfast? I have something of importance to tell you.”
“What is it?”
“I can’t tell you over the phone. Can we meet?”
“I can’t today, can we do this some other time?” Patrick was feeling irritated, sensing some trickery.
“It has to be today, Patrick. I’m leaving tomorrow for the States.”
“I can’t, sorry. Let’s do this when you get back, ok? Bye.” He hung up as she was about to say something. He didn’t really care.

But now he did care. There was something eerie with the phone call. It was too early for starters to be unimportant and he realized that her voice had a maturity that he had not recognized since they last spoke. He tried to distract himself with work. Whatever that was, he didn’t want to care. For all he knew it was a ploy to get him to be with her again. That was all too familiar with girls of her character after all. He had had dozens of them, and it was always the same song and dance after the break-up.

During the day, she called him up four times. He put his phone off the fifth time, he was meet up with Renee and didn’t want the distraction of having to wonder about what the mystery message was. The night ended as he had planned, in the jacuzzi with Renee. He had forgotten all about Laura and life went on as usual. It wasn’t until the next morning that he had remembered her again. She left a message that just read ‘I’m sorry.’. That was that, he thought.


So life went on for Patrick. This was a particularly busy month. A lot of planning was going on and he had to shuttle between the regional office in Hong Kong and his own in Manila. He already had his vacation planned out. A remote wine producing villa in Spain, then a sort of pilgrimage to Portugal as he had read in a popular book. He had already finished up business in Hong Kong and was on a flight back to Manila. There was the business of hiring a new assistant to be dealt with and a brief meeting with the local executives regarding the regional direction the company was to take for the next five years. Pretty routine.

He had landed in Manila at dawn and called up his driver. It would be a good 20 minutes before the car would arrive, he thought and proceeded to the lounge to relax a bit. He ordered a drink from the bar and picked up the local broadsheet. As usual, he read the paper starting from the sports section at the back, then he would work his way to the front page. Page 16, Tiger Woods was making sports headlines once again and he made a mental note to call up his colleague for the number of his golf pro. He could use the distraction, and maybe pick up some useful contacts in the process. His phone rang midway through page 8, the car was coming up. Absent mindedly, he clutched the paper under his arm, picked up his luggage and made his way to the airport pick-up gate. He continued reading in the car. Page 4, a mention of his company in the editorial pages, something about an upsurge in local investment. He smiled, knowing that he had engineered the capital inflow, sensing a more stable region in the coming years as capital shifted from Europe to the third world. He peeked out of the window, the usual traffic jam and incompetent traffic management. He buried himself once again in the paper. He never made it to the front page.

The car stopped at the entrance of his building as he fixed his eyes to a small article near the bottom section of the second page. There was a small file photograph of her dad in what seemed like a speaking engagement maybe a few years ago. Realizing his stop, he folded the paper and got our just as the driver popped open the trunk for his luggage. A utility man emerged from the glass doors to greet him and take his luggage. Patrick nodded his thanks and proceeded to the elevator. The man followed and pushed his floor for him as he started reading the article. The headline read: ‘Industrialist’s Daughter Commits Suicide’. He was shocked, he stared at the headline long enough to be certain of what he read. There was no mistake. He again glanced at the photograph of her father, for the first time he noticed a resemblance to Laura. The elevator rang as it stopped on his floor. He followed the sharp ping, almost sure it was lightning striking him. The man had already walked out of the elevator before Patrick found his feet. He could feel his kneed almost giving way as he slowly walked to the already waiting figure by his door. He fumbled for his money-clip and gave the man a crisp note as thanks. The man smiled as Patrick waved off his offer to set the luggage inside. He watched as the man rushed back to the elevator before the wood paneled doors closed. Patrick went inside still not knowing what to think of Laura’s suicide. He set his bags in the middle of the room and continued reading.

The article reported that Katarina Laura Aragon, only daughter of Industrialist Joselito Aragon had commited suicide by hanging while vacationing in the States. There were no other details other than a brief biography of both father and late daughter and that Laura’s remains were to be brought to Manila today. The funeral was to be open only for relatives and close friends at their house in Manila before it was to be cremated the day after.

Patrick leaned back and tried to let all that information sink in. He got up, poured himself a large drink and sat back down again. Was he responsible? He didn’t know. How could he be? He last saw her more than a year ago, and he knew for a fact that she had had another boyfriend after him. That phone call? It couldn’t be anything more than a longing for a simple chat, could it? They had not met since their break-up and he had thought for certain that she had already forgotten about their short relationship and moved on. He had finished his drink and got up for another. This time he thought of nothing, his mind going blank.

The next day, he was unsure if it was wise to pay his last respects for Laura. If he was the reason for her depression or whatever it was, his presence would have been extremely inappropriate. But Patrick wanted to go. He needed to for his own benefit. Though confident he had no direct involvement, he had to be certain that he had nothing to do with her demise if only to absolutely rid himself of any guilt.

He had decided that he will be paying his last respects. He called up his office to say that he will be coming in after lunch and got his car from the garage. He knew the place pretty well, Laura had invited him on several occassions there for socials and to hang out. He couldn’t shake off their last phone call and the way he had acted toward her. He had already prepared his defense in case anyone else knew of her calls to him. He had also prepared himself to make a graceful exit complete with white flowers if he sensed any unwelcome stares his way.

Driving up to the towering iron-wrought gates, he had been asked for his identification. He had fought off his growing desire to back-up and drive off as quick as he could and presented his I.D. The guard called up someone within the house and after an anxious 30 seconds or so, gave him back his I.D. and pointed him to an available parking slot. He had just got out of the car when he spotted her father come out of the house and walked directly toward him. Nervously, he squared up to face anything that her father would throw his way. He saw a sad expression on the oncomer’s and just when Patrick thought he would be manhandled to the ground and given a beating by a man well over 60, he felt weary arms around him in an embrace. Shock came upon Patrick who had never really hit it off with this man while he was dating his daughter. He too put his arms around him more out of relief than anything.
“Am glad you are here and well.”, said Mr. Aragon.
“My deepest condolences.”
“Thank you. Please come in, Patrick.” He was stunned that he knew who he was. He was ushered into the house by the man he had feared coming here. A drink was put into his hand and they talked briefly about Laura. Patrick dared not ask the reason for her suicide, but was utterly relieved to confirm that he was not the reason. Mr. Aragon too never said anything remotely related to her death. Except for the very personal greeting outside, Mr. Aragon didn’t look into his eyes but scanned the marble floor most of the conversation. After a few minutes, Mr. Aragon had excused himself to greet another guest that had just walked in. Before walking off, he had invited Patrick to stay a little longer so that they could talk a bit. Patrick nodded agreement, but made up his mind that he was already leaving before long.

As Patrick walked out to the door, he noticed that there were only a few people in attendance. Most were family members, a few people in high places presumable close friends of the family and the help. He laid flowers on a table beside the coffin, said a little prayer and asked forgiveness for being rude to her on the phone. Outside, he heaved a sigh of relief as he heard the soft thud of the car’s door unlocking. He took a last look at the house and saw the unmistakable face of Laura’s father peering at him through the window. He felt a shiver run through him as he punched the car’s accelerator, anxious to be rid of the place.


There is nothing like a clean conscience to foster short memories. Patrick went back to his normal life as soon as he had slept the last of his guilt away. The last few weeks he had heard no other news about Laura. That chapter was over, he had mused. He spent the next few weeks on vacation is Spain and Portugal, exploring the old world on his own. The whole experience had shown him that he hadn’t even scratched the surface of what he could accomplish and what he could become. He had realized that he was still living a shallow life, one that for the longest time he thought was all there was.

Once back from his journey, he had another mission in life. He would give notice to the company that he would be retiring early to pursue other endeavors. He figured in two years, he would have enough to cover his finances for life. Then he would be free to become an explorer, to see the real world in all its dimensions.

He had planned everything, he would research all the interesting places in the old, as well as the new worlds. He would backpack his way through the ancient silk routes of Asia, uncover the mysteries of Latin America as ancient explorers did, trace the journeys of Alexander the Great and the Roman Empire.

But that would come in two years, for the present Patrick would work doubly hard. He wanted to finish off his career with a flourish, and experience everything that his present life could offer. After all, he would abandon this life soon and embrace another. Patrick wanted to be sure to leave no stone unturned.

The following days, Patrick travelled to the United States for business. It was for a big merger for the company and he had been selected to be part of the team. It was the biggest responsibility that he had to handle and Patrick was loving it. In New York, he was meeting executives on a daily basis. He realized he was almost to the point of burning out and had to take a much needed break. During a one day break, he decided to forget about business and relax. He settled into an old fashioned diner just outside the city, one resembling the classic diners he saw all too often in the movies. An hour into his breakfast, he took another cup of coffee when a woman approached him, “Are you a Filipino?”
“Yes, and so are you!” he smiled.
“Guilty. There aren’t too many of our countrymen in this part of the state and I think I know everyone of them. So you’re new here?”
“I’m on business actually, just took a break from the bustle of the city.”
“Well, you picked the perfect place. This is as slow-paced as you’ll find within the state. I’m Sandra by the way.”
“Patrick. You’ve been here long?”
“Afraid so. Been living here for fifteen years now. But I do visit the Philippines every two years or so on vacation.”
“When was the last time you were there?”
“Not too long ago. I just came back maybe a month ago.”
“So where did you vacation back there?”
“Not a vacation, family matters.”
“I see. Where is your family in the Philippines, exactly?”
“Am from Manila, too. Maybe next time you’re there we could meet, I could show you around the country.”
“I’ll probably do that. I don’t have too many friends there, just my cousins.”
“So where did they take you last month?”
“Nowhere, I just stayed there a couple of days.”
“So short?”
“Well, it wasn’t really planned so I had to get back here as soon as possible anyway.”
“What exactly did you do there anyway? A reunion?”
“Not exactly. I brought my cousin there. You see, she died here but the service and interment was to be done there upon the request of her dad. Maybe you heard of it? Uncle Joe is quite a figure there, you see. His name is Joselito Aragon.” Patrick felt his whole body shudder at the mention of the name.
“Yeah, he’s well-known.”
“Anyway, my cousin was his only daughter and he wanted to bring her to the Philippines so he would always remember her.” Patrick looked down on his coffee as she spoke. He felt goosebumps all over himself. He was suddenly brought back to the last phone conversation with Laura and the guilt once again consumed him. He needed to know.
“What happened to his daughter, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“Well, she went here for treatments but that didn’t work, I guess. She was diagnosed with HIV too late. She never knew she had been carrying it all that time and by the time she did know, her body was too weak to support the treatments. She couldn’t accept what happened to her and we just found her hanging from the ceiling, she had taken her own life, you see.”
Patrick was in shock. He felt all the life running out of him. He was getting dizzy and without excusing himself nor waiting for another word, he ran straight to the bathroom and his stomach turned. His heartbeat raced and his mind struggled to comprehend all the words she said.
“Are you alright? What’s wrong?” Patrick didn’t see her as his mind tried to piece together the phone call, the message Laura sent, and her dad’s reaction to him. He repeated everything in his mind over and over, everything fit.
“It fit. It all fits” Before Sandra could ask him what he meant, Patrick lost consciousness.


Patrick was still sitting on the sofa in his pad. His mind still blank as he willed it to be. Every now and then, flashes of memory came across. Being alone in an unfamiliar hospital where he was brought after he had fainted. The doctor coming in with results of the blood tests, confirming a positive result. Being flown back to Manila to be mobbed by journalists amidst the bright white light of their cameras. It seemed like only yesterday.

He had refused to be sent to a treatment facility, preferring to stay at home. He quit working. Though the company did promise a hefty separation package and volunteered to get treatment for him, he refused to use the money or avail of treatment. One day Mr. Aragon visited him and told him everything his daughter went through, as if offering support. He had thought Laura had already told him about it before she left to get treatments and assumed he was negative when he showed up at her funeral. His long lost friends and family visited him at times but he only felt more pity for himself. The worst came when doctors and health workers asked him to name all those he became intimate with. Each name he gave fell upon him like a boulder settled on his shoulders.

He took another cigarette and lit up. The phone rang. He never left the phone ringing since that last time with Laura. This time it was the doctor informing him that another of the names he gave turned out negative. It wasn’t always good news though.

He took another look at his pad, He smiles as he remembers not so long ago when everything was perfect. His smile turns into an uncontrollable laughter, as tears roll down his face. He stands up, and pours himself a large drink. He goes to the bath, still laughing. He lights up another cigarette, lies down in the jacuzzi and takes a huge gulp of his drink. He stops his hysterical laughing and wipes the tears from his face. He takes one last drag on his cigarette, finished the last of his drink, opens the tap and turns face down.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Morning

Hap thought of doing something this morning, having 'wakened early enough to sluggishly crawl out of bed and struggle with the coffee jar lid. He then took on his usual routine of staring that irritating stain on the wall, coffee mug in hand and a lit cigarette perched on his lips.

It was too early in the morning, way too early for a sunday. It either means something
significant is going to happen in the next few hours, or Hap would crawl right back into bed and wake up the next day. Well, after five more cigarettes and two cold cups of coffee later, Hap found himself staring at a brightly lit computer screen and began typing away at this particular piece of self indulgent prose. It was going to be a long day ahead.

Hmm... probably best that Hap start from how he began to make the page. Truth is, Hap
doesn't have a clue on how to set up a blog site. After a few attempts in the months past
where he would manage to forget his password, he finally acknowledged the fact that he is an absolute dolt when it comes to setting up email accounts and blog sites. So he did the best thing that he could think of through the heavy mist of cigarette smoke and enlisted the help of an expert, his friend Ethel who really had nothing better to do than read astrological mumbo jumbo online.

Now Ethel understood his utter frustration and set up the email account and blog site for
him. Of course, the whole process involved massive amounts of heckling, name calling and sarcasm over yahoo messenger but it came out quite satisfactorily, Hap thought. Now Hap had something better (?) to do than pick at that weird rash that suddenly appeared on his nape.

So Hap started out on something that he thought made some sense, the topic he thought of was on his impending lessons in golf. He started out with a title, and then got nowhere from there really fast. So wisely, Hap dumped that idea and proceeded to download a piece of software that would enable him to watch avi format videos and movies on his computer, and that does not necessarily mean porn, mind you.

Ahh.. the start of another restless Sunday.