Ramuel M. Raagas
"Why must the Filipino be a squatter in his own country?" said the man. He spoke with an audible enough voice, but not the sort of which is used day by day by the vehicular dispatchers serving the commuting public. Besides, he seemed thin. He was. I mean, there are thin dispatchers, but these have wood-hard bones that possess a push-about drive unbecoming of the man now on the microphone. We had him on tape, as did his adversaries before us. For the next sequences, the man shook hands from door to door within the community of his legitimate congressional candidacy. Such a traditional politician's gesture it was, except that he seemed quite too thin to be the man doing such a regular thing.
At one point, he explained something to a group of wits-sharpened gin drinkers who had bare knees, elbows and ankles. The man wanted to be thorough. At the same time, he humbled himself as he got conscious of his own starting to avail of his little audience's third minute. His decrescendo prompted a quick refutal by one of the Volk, "No! What we need is to vote for you!" This and the supreme approval of all else around the lowly table smacked of a candour unknown in the country's central business district.
The human rights defender Henrietta Rosales spoke. At least, she now has gotten to sit in Congress. As she discussed the man's immense organizational abilities, thanks to his sound theoretical grounding, Bernie Larin smilingly rooted in front of the monitor screen."E-TA! E-Ta,E-ta e-ta!"
Of course, there came the inevitable part of the video. Even the penultimate phase of the non-fiction narrative carried out an argument well-known to all of us, even before the JOUER button had been pressed.
The parade footage was the only part of the film in which sweeping, panning shots were taken. I mean, there were packed crowds at the plaza scenes of campaign and protest, but I guess there were no big buildings in which the camera man could prop himself up into so as to stand back at a vantage point in which more than a hundred heads (not just thirty) could be framed into the display. Flags there were. Many of them larger in format than the very nations’ flags posted in front of the U.N. complex corner-set a few avenues away None of the thumbnail-size US flags on Ralph Lauren clothes worn by many high school and college students.
The demonstrators clogged Recto Avenue, but unlike floodwater, they had a definite, singular steady flow, like a brown river in slow, digital but massive motion. Besides, floodwater carries the minor possibilities of pesky sicknesses. The crowd supporting the slain congressman-to-be could have been a potion to stave off the social cancer.
Although most of those marching were unknown soldiers, there was Armando Malay. "He's an RA," said said Ferdie, Ferdinand Baron that is, not the other Ferdie, Fernando Carbuio, his friend who became editor-in-chief of The Philippine Collegian, our school organ.
Then came the sequence featuring the martyr's fat lady of a wife, Lydie.
"She never married after the assassination," said old fat Rhoda. She wasn't that old. Nor was she the epitome of maturity. It's just that she never changed. If she ever had been through any inner change, there wasn't even that much material to begin with. A pauper-dark Ilongga is an unknown thing nowadays in UP Diliman, but she had been one.
How did these youths now attendant to the video, along with some dozens of other folks, get together to form Layag (Liberatory Allied Youth Action Group, rather than Benigno Aquino Youth Action Group, the name which got outvoted, not just because Ninoy's sister Tessie was the enemy, if not the murderer per se, of our idol), which did not even quite last as long as the rock band The Sex Pistols? How come they never even wrote songs, just dilute poems (i.e. John Carlo Tria's "These are the Locks I want to Lick.")
Well, one fine weekday, when cows still roved the UP Diliman campus, a young man by the name of Butch Goricetta was on a wheelchair. Unlike Hammond, another chairborne pedestrian, he wasn't quite into turning his own wheels. He was driven by Ferdinand Baron, a man of thick but kempt hair. They ran into Oliver Mabutu, a bespectacled, bald-headed rock fan who couldn't even buy his own electric guitar, and was rather too scared to smoke marijuana as a matter of habit. Heck, the last time that Oliver smoked marijuana was when a certain party at a small neighborhood just got too boring (It didn't help, not especially when a fellow smoker insisted on keeping Phil Collins' "Against All Odds" playing on the audio component, rather than a murky plastic AC/DC cassette that Oliver had eyed ever since getting into the sala.).
"I'm tired," said Ferdie.
"We're almost there," said Butch, inadvertently completing an ingenious Hollywood dialogue segment most worthy of an American screenwright's ample talent fee.
"Need help there?" said Oliver, having learnt the useful expression from his adolescent days spent back in San Francisco, California, USA.
"No, it's OK, we can handle this," said Ferdie, putting in the first Philippine elements into the conversation.
Oliver walked on a bit, before pausing to stare at a Northwest Airlines stewardess then disguised as the UP student that she had been. "Wow!" he said. Bernie looked back at him.
The girl noticed Oliver staring at her. The cellular phone did not yet enter into the Philippine market back then, so she could not pretend to be busy texting. Fortunately for her, a Katipunan-IKOT jeepney was just passing so she got right aboard it. Oliver was going to follow her, but Bernie yelled, "Huy!"
Now, Oliver did the looking back. The jeepney slipped away when Oliver threw another glance at it, so he crossed the street A. Roxas again to again engage with Bernie and Butch.
"You, ha!" said Ferdie, on the look-out.
"I know her," said Oliver.
The two other guys looked at him, as if he were some hot, new interesting thing running on TV.
"By the way, I'm Ferdie," said he of thick, kempt hair, although his name was an object that Oliver did not at all crave for as he did that of the babe who just slipped away.
"I'm Butch," said the other.
"Where are you off to?," said the taller of the two. Yes, even if Butch got up on his feet, Ferdie would still be the taller. Oliver was the tallest of the three, however.
This taller one said, by way of reply, "I'm just going off to eat."
"Well, that makes you better off," said Ferds, "At least you have money to buy some food for yourself."
"Actually, I'm going to eat at my aunt's place."
"Take us along," said Ferds, just by means of jest, which Oliver took well, having thought to himself, "It was her that I had just wanted to take along."
On the more earnest side, Bernie said, "By the way, maybe you'd like to join this informal organization we're forming."
"I already have orgs," said Olive.
"Any frats? We ourselves are barbarians."
"LFS..." (League of Filipino Students, that was, although Olive failed to indicate he himself had left that group by then.)
"I came from there, too."
"How come we didn't meet up there?
"I left last year, because of Koko...
"If you like LFS, you'll like our org even better," said Butch.
"What's it called?"
"That's one of our surprises for you... YOU can even help us decide the name."
"Let's meet later at Narra Dorm this 6:30 p.m."
"Sounds good," said Olive.
Butch looked up from his wheelchair, tilting his head, then smiling.
Ferdie couldn't explain it, but he knew this new guy would come along. Heck, he and Butch weren't going around campus recruiting people. They had enough people already, but something on Olive's face triggered Ferdie to open up the invitation.
"Look at that! We were just going to see John [Carlo Tria, that was] back at the dorm, and we already scored a new recruit," Ferdie told Butch, fresh and proud.
"We're fishers of men!" said Butch.
Oliver came sharp at 6 p.m., with a stuffed stomach even. Ferdie saw him a few minutes later, himself still not having eaten, although he did not bring this up anymore to the new guy.
"You smell great," said Ferdie, warmly.
"Oh, it's not my fragrance. I actually found it on my Uncle Javy's dresser, (I should have pocketed the bottle.) but he's now in the States--- Sanfo."
"Sanfo?" asked Ferdie, mistaking the name for that of the fragrance. He knew there were such fragrances as Calvin Klein Eternity and Ralph Lauren Polo Classic, ads for the likes of those had scrawled upon his petty eyes which would ever so frequently leaf over pages of English language Filipino broadsheets for news--- not that he ever got to try so much as a sampler for such fragrances. Of course, if the print ads he had seen were on all glossy-paged magazines rather than on local newspapers, there would have at least been a fold-in sample for him to get an inkling of such fashionable sensations.
"San Francisco," said Olive, "My uncle's now teaching there in a community college."
"Sorry, the Sanfo we know is Frisco in Del Monte, Quezon City," said Ferdie, laughing at the joke of his own short-worldedness. "I'll just go fetch Butch from his room. Don't leave. By the way, this is Ferds, my namesake. He's the current editor of the Philippine Collegian." Ferds number 1 left.
"Hi, I'm Fernando Carubio," said Ferds number 2.
"Oh, another Ferdie," said Oliver.
"Actually in the province, I'm Nando, but here in UP, they call me Ferdie, too," explained the guy. "You. What are you doing here?" said this Fernardo Carubio.
"The other Ferdie, Ferdinand Baron, invited me to come over here."
"So it happens," said this whiter Ferdie, "that you were merely dragged along into this thing. Most of us people here have been through something else."
Oliver didn't count on that something being of too much import, certainly nothing the likes of the First Quarter Storm and its Diliman Commune. Layag was a new organization. Everyone helping in its starting out should be taken on an equal footing.
Fernando continued to speak in a raspy, unsingable MIT-er's voice, not that he came from the great school, although he did become summa cum laude of BS Sociology in UP Diliman. This second Ferdie knew some little things that Oliver did, too, so the two got to keep talking to each other for a few minutes. Then came just what Fernando Carubio had been waiting for, better than a brilliant idea or insight on either of their behalves--- the presence of Charong... homely but familiar.
Ferdie C. gave his last two words to Oliver then went over to the newly-come old timer.
Night it was, and a Friday, and the moon was almost full, early was it on Philippine schools' second semester. Minoco Tambon, coming from his fraternity brother's boarding house, was walking the streets of the Saltbed District. He had heard something of this place from the airline tourism magazine Cheers, All!, copies of which he had leafed through in his uncle's gasoline station. According to Ranielle Tesoro, whose Cheers, All! column ("Vista Dulce") Min could easily spot from issue to issue, Saltbed was a warm and modest venue for uncrowded entertainment. Saltbed was Camasalada during the Spanish regime in the Philippines. Pocketfuls of Iberian peninsula stock, tailed by local island-born mestizos, would drink cups of either hot chocolate or beer in an ambience of scented candles set on lavish brass holder sticks. None of the Camasalada establishments lasted deep into the American Regime. Camasalada was revived by Imelda Marcos around 1969. It was an overdone revival. Whereas Imedla deprived Camasalada of its erstwhile fresh sea breeze, which she grossly alienated via her land reclamation project (decades later followed by a co-godmother to her in a number of alta moneda weddings, Gloria Arroyo), the First Lady Imelda brought in with her Blue Ladies such flowing infusions of parfums francaises as they daintily sipped on expensive glasses of wine, whose bottles they would abandon only half-or-so-emptied. Whereas Filipinos the nation over would first toast cum verbis a newly uncapped bottle of workers' gin to the Earth-sucking Beelzebub, Imelda's chosen pack would not so much as bid farewell to their wasted remainders, which noone dared touch afterwards. Yes, it was Mrs. Marcos who brought back Camasalada, before Mr. Marcos undid it, just like the North American G.I.'s bombs dropped a decade into the century. With Marcos' presidential decree of curfew, even established Camasalada patrons could not enjoy themselves. Heck, anyway, for the fascist's intent, even Camasalada had been infiltrated by communists, such as Menandro Zaldivar Benito, who was so good a customer in Guevara Grill, he even bought beers for fraternity brothers, just to keep him company. He only stopped doing so, when he shifted his investments to the young lady he courted and eventually married, Maria Cristina Pisonco, who took it upon herself to become a founding mother of the Delta Kappa sorority affiliated with the Kappa Doble fraternity. DK stood for dalagang kumikilos (maidens mobilized), wheread Kappa doble was for kabataang kumikilos (youths in action).
Orange Honey was a cafe established only by the late 1980's. Walking on the street. Friday. A full moon, Min guessed. Settings oh so typified of latter-day man.
Min looked across the street. The men were gay. They wore body-fitting shirts, shirts well-inspected each sewn together from wherever part of the world" Egypt, Mauritius, even Marikina. An actress from showbiz vodka-drunk rested her unerect body on the hood of her Japanese car. All the while, nobody noticed Min noticing them. Well, he didn't step into the cafe, which hardly had anybody that deep Friday night, except eight bodies so full and satisfied of themselves. A meek bodied waiter stood by the entrance door. He didn't notice Min either, not that
Min was still a man feeling his way through this City of Man. He knew, however, this city was an easy one in which to score a jeepney ride. He saw a sizeable outlet of Donut Robot, but what should he a young, handsome man be doing at a donut shop late at Friday night? He knew he had to go through this experience, having to go out at night, being a college student in the city of which he was not a native to.
Of course, Min had asked his UP Manila chapter fraternity brother Wesley to accompany him just going about, but Wesley said he would just stay home reading his Mortimer Chemistry cheap reprint textbook.
"You can stay here, as much as you want to, brod," Wesley had told Min several times that night."
Min decided to go back to Wesley's boarding house, the Pope John Paul II Youth Palace down Jorge Bocobo Road. The palace had been instituted in 1985 to take in out-of-school youths. By 1993, it had been privatized however, and catered instead to FEU, University Belt and a couple of UP Manila students.
The security guard recognized Min from hours back that night, so he did not ask for an ID or visitor's purpose, but this...
"Hey, man! Let's go have a shot..." the guard reached out to Min a little serving of Saint Michael's gin.
Min accepted, wanting to be a good shot to this little chief of security. Min stuck around in the security guard's post, not himself being in a rush to go back to Wesley's room, not expecting the room-owner to be still awake, anyway.
The guard introduced himself as Joel. Min read from his nameplate that he was Joel Balabag.
It struck 9:30 a.m., still too early for Oliver to assume the narrative point of view, or at least that of the speaker. He will start to peer at his room-mate's desk clock only by 10:14, although the clock had rung 5:30 in the morning. The next Layag meeting was to be at 11:00 that day.
Olive noticed all his three room-mates get up and leave that morning without his bothering to bid them farewell. One of them Jun Zabato, on his way out to the library for a Saturday session, even slammed the door of that very room which harboured all them four misfits. That didn't even pry Olive's eyelids.
More than seventy minutes, Olive felt the urge to start waking up, that is, to stretch his consciousness to more than an attention span lasting four mere seconds. Justice was smoking. Justice was his newer room-mate.
The tickling of Justice's cigarette smoke nearabouts Olive's grimy pre-bath arms and upper body actually unfolded the fellow's sleep, although this guy felt no annoyance--- inspiration to the contrary.
Olive looks at the room-mate Elmer Toribio's desk-clock the second time for this morning, but he had been nudging his head to get a reading-ready view. More easy to his side was the face of Justice, standing up, facing him. Olive now looked at Justice well some twenty unconscious minutes after the guy had been giving him a close presence. Olive smiled. Justice grinned.
Justice waited for Olive to raise his upper body and twist to say, "You sleep quite enjoyably."
Olive grinned wider, got up from his cushion, then got down the upper bunk which was where his bed was propped up.
Justice took him by the shoulder. "You might fall down," he said.
Olive knew that Justice wanted to gel with him, but his itch to shower then attend the Layag meeting was just too great.
"I'll just take a shower, bud."
"No problem," said Justice.
Olive took a shower, and he didn't make it quick. Heck, I was well on time last night, he thought, Time for me now to be fashionably late. Besides' today's a Saturday. He noticed a signed note on the right-hand shower wall.
It is hereby forbidden
to pollute the shower floor
Olive knew that the notice was penned by Ben Vergara from the other bunk-filled room using the same comfort room. Indeed, Ben did not change the thick marker's penmanship from what he had used for his postings in the other bunk-filled room, drawings he made on math notebook graphing paper and tacked onto his closet door.
Olive didn't feel guilty at all. He wasn't the one using shampoo by sachets. A skinhead he was, and all he did was soap his own bald head, and when the soap bar got all tiny as a potato chip, he didn't leave it all neglected on the floor, but rather always planted it back onto the soap nook, although he didn't bother buying his own soap dish.
When Olive re-entered the squeezy bunk zone, Justice was still smoking another cigarette. This time it annoyed Olive, but he thought, heck, I'm leaving the house in a jiffy, anyways.
Olive put on his contact lenses (a convenience that no one less than Ben had convinced him into committing to), and retreated back towards the shower room until he faced his own closet, opened the doors to substantially cover his body as he fitted his briefs through underneath the green-and-white-striped towel still wrapped around his waist. By the time he had put on his Guess? jeans (the second pair he had ever bought used from Joseph Nevel, who claimed they did not fit himself when he tried them just after his aunt gave them to him as a present--- damn Aunt seemed never to get it right, year in and year out; Joseph's friends knew that the guy's waist been what it was from freshman year to prompt graduation in UP come 1996, but the Aunt had actually been forcing her beloved nephew to lose inches, thinking that an imported pair of this Diesel, and that Guess? might do the trick: well the jeans didn't inspire Jospeh to lose inches. It were the jeans that got themelves lost, in exchange for some pocket money which Jospeh spent most gleefully on reamfulls of cigarettes and cheap sports expenses at the older UP Alumni Association bungalow bowling-and-billiards complex), he partially closed the closet door on the left while he grabbed a faded deep blue single-colour collared cotton sports shirt from the closet's right-hand opening. Soon later, he waved goodbye to Justice, who saluted him a farewell.
Oliver opened his wallet inside the jeepney. Where was Ninoy? He had one last night. Of course he had several smaller bills, and definitely more than enough coins to pay the friggin' jeepney.
"OK, let's start to get to know each other," said Bernie Larin.
"Hi! I'm Kaprina," said one girl.
"Our nation's grace," said Aldwin, not at all offending the girl, whom he had known since last year.
"Ha. Ha," continued she. "That's Kaprina with a K, not a C."
"Like Rogelio Sikat or Sicat," said Artus.
"Actually she was born and Christened with a "C", but she's been using the 'K' since high school."
"You guys already know me," said one guy.
"Butch!" chorused all but Olive.
"Oh, yeah! Butch," occured to Olive.
"More properly known as Butchoy," said Aldwin, still fixing his eyes on that guy.
"Or most formally as Butchiquoy," said Chana, likewise.
"Actually, he was baptized Manolo," said Bernard Covarrubias, with the sober seriousness that helped him soon later clinch the editor-in-chief post of The Philippine Collegian and then The Philippine Law Gazette.
"What's your nickname?" asked Kaprina.
"Olive? Isn't that a girl's name?," said someone whom only Olive had not known right then and there among the fifteen odd people at hand. She was Chana. "Shouldn't you be like... Bitoy?" she said.
Charong laughed, delighted at the beginnings of discopulative malice.
"Why do you need to be called Olive? Are you a fag?," said Fernando, although the Tagalog of his second sentence at least had the play of alliteration.
Olive listened to the giggles, then added, "I'm from the Department of Sociology."
"Oh, so you know..." popped in a guy who would later introduce himself as Jed, "...oh, I forgot her name."
"None of you now!! None of you now!" cackled Jed's friends.
"So, next week, we meet over there at Lorrena Barrenos?"
"It's Lorena Barros, Olive," said Fernando C.
"Oh, right. I have another org in the same building," said Olive, smiling.
"Then you should have gotten the building's name right..." went Fernando.
"OK, OK," was the way Ferdie Baron cut right in.
Fernando bade farewell. He had to go back to the College of Law building, Malcolm Hall. He would just walk. Anyway, he didn't seem to make a habit of carrying a bag, just one law book at a time, sometimes the Penal Code, sometimes Civil Law, but he never stashed any of either in a bag, nor was he to be noticed with a notebook to go with it, but hell, he got great grades.
Ferds #1 did have a bag, although his dorm was just across the street. Out of it, he drew out a can of sardines (one among three easily seen with his unzipping the knapsack) and a can-opener the sort of which doesn't have a gear-wheel.
"Supper, guys?" he said to those left.
"Sure, I'll get mine, too," said Olive, "There are stores down the hill along Balara, right, for that?"
"Oh, well... It's OK," said Ferds #1, "Just get from here!"
Olive felt great on his jeepney ride going home. He did not feel so alone, although no one could accompany him on his commute per se. Ferds Baron, who seemed to him the budding group's unelected president, an Ur-president, if you will, and Aldwin did escort him to the waiting shed. His new friends were dormers, right inside the UP Campus, and he--- well, he was a boarder, someone who pays more, without necessarily getting a sweeter deal, but a boarder he was before the Age of Condominium Brats (He never became one of those creatures, who still persist unto this very day, a burden onto the masses of impoverished Philippine taxpayers who shoulder the government subsidy for the content-lacking, commitment-unbinding education of such have-it-alls consumer kids.).
Olive came back to Casa Esguerra (such was the establishment name indicated on the top of the monthly rent receipts he religiously collected, on his parents' command, although there was no matching signboard right outside the boarding house--- nothing like, Casa Ilongga--- well, Casa Ilongga was not a boarding house, but arguably the most flavourful, albeit ephemerally-existing, eatery there ever was along Bocobo Avenue, or Plains Royale in general.).
Olive walked into the 321 Bocobo Avenue entry mouth. The Avenue had several entry mouths, some led to apartment alleyways; in front of Abadia Verde, were two particular mouths a walk apart from each other. These tucked away the informal settlers (or what even the Filipino middle-class not an inch's worth of Darwin's brilliance would call "squatters"), the greater part of whom subsisted thanks to each other (for who else would buy individually-retailable sticks of any of five brands of locally-manufactured cigarettes, with matching pieces of adult menthol candy, from the tight, intimidating squalor of Miriam and Manalo Alleys than a fellow community-member?). The informal settlers of Miriam and Manalo Alleys were blessed with the absence of winter in Philippine climate. More so, their houses were not even half as prone as other poor urban Filipinos' shanties, which would break apart, and have parts flying (galvazined iron ridged ceilings, unfinished plywood walls, and all) during any of the Philippine year's several typhoons. What has protected Miriam Alley (only since the apotheosis of President Ramos back in 1992) from any winds blasting from the South was the then ongoing construction of the now-thriving Roque Hechadia condominium building--- not that the Hechadia was to any human intention built to protect the pauper's houses a bottle's throw away to its foot.
As Olive approached Casa Esguerra, he heard a girl's unpleasant muttering from the upper floor of another 321 Bocobo Ave. unit. The hell should he care what that girl's boarding house was called, or what the girl said, he was going to confront Justice, and he could do it alone.
Olive reached over the waist-high alumnimum wire mesh gate and pulled the bar open. The front door of Casa Esguerra, as usual, was fully swung open, with Egay guarding the entrance. Egay was a chair-ridden person, but unlike Butchiqoy, his chair didn't roll on wheels. Egay was an alert person, but he was one of the Philippines' very rare cases of outright illiteracy. Egay wasn't blind, and we could say, he was fortunate to be born into the middle-class Esguerra family, but whatever sufficiency there was to Esguerra blood, he ended up with less his due with the genetic dice-roll.
Olive greeted Egay. Egay responded.
"Is your family home?"
"They're not here. They're off to buy some food."
All the while, Egay kept squatting on his cold, white-painted metal chair, his eyes never opened wide, his chin held up maintaining a gentle, rocking oscillatory motion.
"Okay, brod. I'm just going upstairs," said oliver, tapping on Egay's shoulder.
As he was up the stairs, he heard Egay speak in his typical voice, "They're not here. They went to get some food."
Olive was right in guessing, without having to check himself, that Egay was still facing the entrance, rocking his well-trimmed head as usual.
Olive entered the room, and found no one there. He put his stuff onto his table, then rounded out to the second floor's two-other open-access rooms. He didn't find anyone there, not that all those absent went together to one single dining place. Ben dated his girlfriend Che in WayToGo Total Experience mall along EDSA. The f**g*t Jonathan Martin Seguerra (islands apart from being in any way related from the Esguerras) escorted the Ilongga Jewel Orillan for a Dutch Treat. Jonathan had hardly much for a student's allowance, but he spent it on his escorting Jewel and a couple of other province girls (all aware of his f*gg*tedness) now and then, to his demise. An outing cost Jonathan as much eleven days' worth of his allownce. On non-outing nights Jonathan would put himself through the hours with cheap bottles of local brandy or gin, instead of buying himself a square meal. Doña Carmelita Esguerra, noticing his poor maintenance would every so often invite Jonathan to sup with the other Esguerras at the main dining table. Jonathan would mystically not take anything to eat or drink from the table, but would all too willingly stand by chattingly the table, not straight and sober, but so much a fag he seemed moist with tears he didn't shed but rather exuded as vapour from his whole body frame, as he mouthed such harangues too useless to quote.
Doña Esguerra would not, however, ever, ever outrightly rebuke Jonathan, to whom she would only gently speak her pieces of advice.
Well now, it was just approaching 9:30 p.m., with only one other man in the house, and Olive was already growing sleepy.
Olive prayed by his table, climbed his bunk, then lay down to sleep.
Morning came, and room-mates surfaced before Olive's eyes, which he had opened before any one's alarm clock sounded. Olive rocked to the left, then to the right of his securely-margined upper bunk. He got down the bed ladder, and somehow drew a loudened snore from Jun Zabato still fast asleep.
Olive felt he could catch mass, so he checked the wallet now in his closet for jeepney fare, as he was too groggy to walk all the way down Bocobo Avenue to reach Libong Inalay: Simbahan ng mga Tunay na Kristiyano, formerly known as La Paroquia del Perpetuo Socorro (Well, that name didn't last perpetually. It was in the mid-1980's that the priests from Saint Francis University, who celebrated mass there--- interspersed by celebrations conducted by foreigner priests they themselves often invited, priests from Nigeria, Italy, Micronesia and other places--- got their Filipino selves together, and presented themselves to the newly-apotheosized Cardinal, His Eminence Jaime Sin. The Cardinal had come to recognize several of their faces from the canonization rites he helped officiate in the honouring of the then Blessed, now and fovermore Saint, Lorenzo Ruiz.). There was enough change, so he gleefully took a shower.
After he was done bathing, noone still awake, the two guys he saw snoozing looked quite sound in their sleep; Elmer and Jun didn't look like they had been drinking; they rarely did. As for Jonathan, he wasn't in the room.
Olive peeped over into the room which had been harbouring Justice. Only Ben was there. Ben was still asleep. On Ben’s desk was yet another food place receipt bound to be tacked onto his inner closer door, where he “tallied” his dates with Che. That must have been the fellow's idea of scoring.
A bottle of mouthwash stood on the bathroom sink lid. Olive resealed it.
"Whose is this?" he called out, but everyone his age had left the house by then.
He reopened the bottle, poured himself a shot, gurgled louder than most regular users of the product, spat into the sink's drain and closed the bottle for the day.
As he went downstairs, his landlady waved at him. She wasn’t after his rent, but Olive approached her anyway to share his thoughts about the recent incident of his pocket money having gone missing.
"This is Room C," Aldwin told Twen, while putting a chimp’s grip on her tiny arm.
"We need to draft our constitution," said Ferdie.
"I'll help," said Olive.
"That's all for now," said Ferdie.
"Can't we do more?" said Olive.
No voices replied, not even a "Like what?"--- just the rustling of hands reaching for playing cards. Twen called out the name of the game. The rest agreed.
Dell talked with his fraternity brothers, quite apparently. Three of the five in their sub-party were wearing their frat shirts.
Jed lay down with Twen. Ferdie Baron lay down near Inggo, who rested his head upon a used grade-school workbook wrapped in plastic long since turned murky.
Twenty-seven pages of the thirty-two page Henri Lefebvre excerpt already, yet Olive felt that he needed a helping hand. He wasn't comfortable with getting to read about these intellectual heavy-weights merely through pencil-gray photocopies, upon which he would have to manuscriptologically restore entire vertical bands of obscured words. At least, Lefebvre was taught in American English translation (For what more did the novelist F. Sionil Jose solely mention UP via the epithet "the American University"?). Olive was smart enough to ink in "thought" for th***** [sic], "influence" (for infl***, the context of which did not seem to merit influenza) and dozens of others per se obliterated (but credibly recovered thanks to Olive's ample knowledge of English prosody.)
"When do we start writing our consitution?" Olive asked.
"We'll get around to it," said Ferdie.
"OK, Olive, me and Aldwin have to go somewhere. See you next week, Take care."
Olive had a supper of Vienna sausage.
Olive went to class, this time a Tuesday. Lefebvre was discussed by Professor Saycon, but not much seemed to sink into Olive's head. His mind was outside, thinking of things he could possible do for their Layag student organization. He had his professor-provided photocopied fourteen pages of excerpt laid out on his IMF-World Bank-designed desk, but even the contrived shape of such a armrest/desk cum seat did not seem to optimize his absorption of the assigned text sitting right underneath his very nose. Thoughts back on Layag, Olive knew that he was starting off slow, not that there was any lack of initiative in will on his part.
He had only two classes that Tuesday, same set-up as on Fridays. One moment after class, he stood hanging out by the ledge watching the many kids just passing by. Hardly any girls were remarkably pretty. As for the guys, none could beat the six-footer over-scented with decent casual eau de toilette who waited nearby him for the Palma Hall stairs to be opened to the public.
Forgetting that there even ever had been an event today of his taking steps down Palm Hall, Olive eventually found himself walking down UP's Roces Road. He didn't catch any Layag members over at Lorenna Barros Hall, from the nineteen to twenty-two minutes after his last class, and it had been simply so hot over all places Tagalog (The heavy clouds that day were far out in Ilocos and Bicolandia.) for him to commit so much as ten minutes to hanging out in the headquarters of the fledgling student organization he so ardently loved.
Ferdie nodded his head, keeping his pace, Aldwin struggling to keep up, that is, until both these dudes felt sure they were some twenty paces past Olive.
"If you were born just a little more well off, I'm perfectly sure that you'd behave as would any damn bourgeois."
Unwittingly, Oliver reinvoked the clash of temperaments last known in that Lorena Barros Hallroom with the watershed "Don't call me comrade!" stand-off between Coco Acosta with his to-be TMMAers on the one hand and the Samasa mainstreamers on the other.
There was a huge canvass of the man's head with a microphone down near his mouth. As this board leaned against the wall, it sure would have been a highlight panel of a mural.
"Oliver's here again," said Aldwin, making quite a bent statement out of the utterance.
Kaprina gave a minimal twitch of her head, not anything that would invite more fanfare from the circle of their clique.
Of course, Oliver was first to greet. At least, he was acknowledged.
"Cindy's getting married," said Ferdie Baron.
"So f*ing what," said Jeffrey.
"Uy, uyyy. he still harbours..."
"When?" asked Kaprina.
"Maybe two months from now," said Ferdie, "Simple ceremonies, she said, but we're all invited--- that is, all of us who've known her."
"All this precious time," said Kaprina softly, sweetly.
"That'll be a wedding June," said Oliver.
Chana muttered something.
"I'm going to buy a pair of jeans," said Oliver, not so much to make a grand announcement of it, but more to get to say something, anything.
"What are you getting? GIRBAUD?" said Ferdie, his teeth flashing like the opened out buttons of a button-fly name he never had.
"Don't point that upon me, dog-nose! Go look at what Kaprina has wrapped around her ass."
"You're so rude," said Ferdie softly, but not sweetly.
"You shouldn't have said that. Now the Ekits will be all over you," added Butch.
"Don't pretend things are so simple, a*s-face," said Olive. Not the main point but he also bore in mind that the Ekits were not a Layag affiliate. They stuck with Coco Acosta and his Samasa-TMMA breakaway, which had LFS, CNS and PSC banners to boot (ex-LFSers, ex-CNSers and x-PSCw came severally to the outriggers of Layag)."
"Well, what are you getting?" said Rolly, fishing more for an caesura than an answer.
"Actually, I'm getting a used pair from a friend. He got them from his Aunt. Then again, he didn't really use them. I mean, they didn't fit."
The membership of Layag easily swelled to dozens, although a high of sixty never came around. There were lots of faces that were less welcoming than those of fish, although no one looked so threatening as would a kill rat from the urban alleyways.
Like several student organizations, especially UP's famed "society" organizations--- Chemical Society, Marine Biology Society, Psychology Society and what not (most referred to in abbreviation as "soc"--- i.e., Chemsoc, Ecosoc, et al.), Layag had a small library. As with other UP student organization libraries, this Layag library bore no numerical classification system. A lot of the books were actually spill-overs from the Kappa Doble Fraternity Library (for which an alternative name still carrying over is the Menandro Zaldivar Benito Collection, named after their fraternity brother who was one of the anti-Marcos years' many martyrs. Yes, his name, has had been etched in the monument at the South-East corner of Quezon and Epifanio de los Santos avenues, and since 1991, onto his own former possession of books, which he left to the fraternity via his written will). These books even had cutely stamped into their pre-body first leaves "A Precious Part of the Kappa Doble Fraternity Library Collection, making the fraternity sound quite as magnanimous as the Ford Foundation has been to UP Main Library users.
Unlike as was with Ford Foundation books, Kappa Doble foundation books tended to be of the paperback rather than the hardbound type. Of course, Kappa books also carried several titles in backless condition, such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Cien años de soledad. There were Latin-American literature titles in English translation, Picador editions as were not to be seen in Philippine bookstore shelves, at least not during nineteen-nineties and thereafter.
The Benito Collection, of course, carried what is known not well outside the country as Filipiniana. What the Kappa Doble brads did not dare brother bring into Lorena Barros were the coffee-table books, like the Habi textile book not really written by Nikki Coseteng. Expectedly, the Kappa Doble Fraternity counter-less Library held books by Anvil Press. These came after the Benito Collection, however. The Anvil titles were noticeably denatured of any forward political thrust. Now and then there was a jibe about the imperfect about Most Important religious minister, whose name I will try myself to reserve only for mention in positive, progressive respects. A considerable portion of the Anvil titles were cookbooks procured by Delta Kappan sorority sisters.
What Winston was now reading however was Zoilo Galang's Ing Capalaran, translated from popularized Capampangan to a particle-flawed rendition of Tagalog Filipino.
"How's it going, Winst? It seems that one of your hands is carrying quite productively this very moment," said Elvar said one afternoon towards 5 p.m.
Ferdie, Jasmine then Chana threw looks at both the speaker and the addressee. They got what Elvar was getting at.
The Delta Kappan Pingping got wind of the commotion, and was herself quite amused by the uncomprising hand position of her Kappa Doble counterpart fraternity borther Winston. The perpetrator showed no remorse for his stance however, and even threw an uncaring look back at those amused by him, not even acknowledging eye to eye, instead keeping his pupils trained on the novel's text which his left hand carried while his writing hand was parked on his crouch--- underneath his shorts right above his underwear.
The Layag people did not even spell it all out in their heads, but they would have had more to say were the guy's text a woman-targetted Mills and Boon's, Harlequin or one of their crumpled tabloid just lying about quite next to the headquarters' several rarely washed blankets.
Saturday morning (yes, again), a morning without any hang-over on Oliver's head. As all the other young men his age (a lot with hang-overs) headed for military training, Oliver enjoyed a few more minutes on his ugly kapok mattress. This very mattress, was quite so prone to the dust from the windows dirtied by the avenue a stone's throw away. Heck, stones might have as well been throws at the window; the boarders' room was defiled well enough. Back to the mattress, it even had the shavings rubbed off Olive's pre-bath arms rolled flat by his very own, sweaty, scrawny unfanned body. All throughout his year-long stay at the Esguerra house, he never took care of his mattress.
When Oliver bathed, however, he made a good job of it. Although he used only a light shampoo without conditioner and the famous, plain soap, his indulgence in beauty sleep made him even more pimple free than many a rich girl, even the Orillan coed from Ateneo at the opposite, viewless boarding house.
Jun Zabato, Elmer Toribio, David Tesengco, Greg Montabia and company dropped their jaws even with the mere recall of Jewel Orillan. Jun and three or so other Casa Esguerra boarders would peer through the glass wall-panes of McDonald's for a view of her. She had white thighs, which shewed every so often she wore short pants. If only her cheeks were as pimple free as those thighs, then Olive would also perhaps pay as much attention to her as the other guys did. Olive had heaved this thought to Min, who himself never got around to seeing the chick, and all he had for comment was, "Which? Her butt cheeks?"
At least, Olive and Elmer Toribio shared an interest in Lea Salonga, whom the latter won a lunch-date with through a raffle staged by an Ateneo de Manila business-course student organization. Elmer was a foot taller than the Broadway star, but Lea was still an inch or three taller than the other two ladies who became the man's year-or-so-lasting girlfriends in college.
Oliver came in Lorena Barros. Iglesia ni Eraño losers were lying on bench, table, floor and anything else that was not a proper bed. All four and a half Erañans reeked of bad socks.
The losers from Iglesia ni Evil Eraño even stuck up an Asia Brewery Poster right behind the front door. The paper was, of course, glossy and the featured model wore a sheer panty.
"Hi, Olive," said Maggie. She came in with Bessy whom she picked up with her chauffer-driven coaster from Don Antonio Village, and Cassie who was at the foot of the hill as they were riding the coaster up.
"What a grave threat to our..." began Maggie.
"Catholicism," murmured Pablo.
"Why, yes," said Bessy.
Oliver ripped off the poster which had been thumb-tacked.
"Don't...", said Cassie, "don't pocket it, Olive!"
Oliver did not look back at Cassie, but he got a kick out of her voice (just like the "Don't please," she had scribbled into "Crossroads," her story about UP Task Force Streetchildren. Oh, if he could pocket her, just like a pocket book bulging at the side of cargo pants. Although Casey's two noted fiction pieces (prize winners) were formatted not in the U.S.-style pocketbook size, but in the thick wad coil-less notebook-broad format beknownst to many a UP Press book.
"Yeah, Oliver. It's more like you're folding it for keeps than crumpling it," said Maggie.
As Oliver went to the garbage cell to dispose of the paraphernalia, Bernie Larin climbed up the hill. Bernie passed by the window with a hard chin and self-carved statued lips. Bernie passed by the window again. He threw a look at the inside.
"The worm," thought Oliver.
Ayen looked through the window and saw the bus. She tapped Maggie's arm below the elbow.
"The kids are already here," said Maggie.
"Sister Maggie!" said the kids, even shouting from the inside of the unairconditioned Chinese bus.
"Brother Oliver, thanks so much for passing by our community last Friday," said Joey Ecto.
"What?" said sister Maggie.
The kid explained the matter further. Three kids came behind this kid, not really paying attention to what he was saying, although they had been into what Joey was recounting.
"Everybody, each to his own kid," ordered Maggie.
This was Ayen's prompt to whisk off Reindl.
Dyna went to Camilo. Cassie went to Dexter.
Isidro's still not that responsive. To begin with, he faces me, resigned to the fact that he's assigned to be with me.
If I can't have his attention, at least I'll go get a soda all for myself.
"Where's Olive going?" Dyna asked Maggie, who nodded.
The sun is so hot, and I hope that I run into Windy Gancayco. She has such...
"Hello, Olive. How are you?"
"I'm just getting some food. How about you?"
"Oh, nothing. I just need something."
"Well, me I'm getting a hamburger, a UFS burger. this UFS canteen here in Vinzons has the best burger." I even remember my former room-mate Dong Agag telling me, "I really like that hamburger from Vinzons Hall. Heck, they should brand name the burger Vinzons Burger so as to do as much honour to the late activist Wenceslao as does this most active building."
"Maybe we could go hang out sometime," said Kap.
"We're always together," said Olive.
"No. I mean just you and me."
"Sure. What would you want to do?"
"I want to go watch a movie."
"I hate Hollywood."
"I hate Viva, Regal and all their crap..."
"Want to sit down?"
"I have something to submit."
"Oh, am I holding you?" said Olive.
"Well you can just call me up at 439-3027," said Kaprina, "Sorry. I just ran out of calling cards."
Olive watched Kaprina leave the UFS canteen door. It was the first time for him to see her exit alone--- usually it was Aldwin (definitely not her boyfriend, that cripple), or else with Chana and Ferdie. She wore DKNY jeans and had a cute tush. DKNY was okay. Olive found the cloth and fastenings of Versace Jeans more fascinating, but he never saw a leftist wearing a pair of them. Versace Jeans were for Jing Espedido and the most apparelled girls hanging out in Tita Francs'TM Orange House.
All the while, the cashier lady, Evelyn by name tag (not that Olive nor other customers would ger around to reading out her name), had been waiting for Olive to pay up. Fortunately, the next other customer was still stashed by fate more than forty seconds into the future. Olive gave three bills.
"Twenty four pesos already? It used to be twenty-two."
The counter lady ripped off the receipt spool right about where Olive's purchase had registered. Oliver read the receipt and sure enough believed the abrupt price increase. Right above his pertinent data was printed:
Non-Food Item 48.00
Olive started biting into the pink hamburger, although he would finish it off in Lorena Barros Hall.
"Do you have tissue?" asked Olive, usually getting an affirmative response.
"Where did you go, Olive?" said Beng, although a mere look at the guy answered her question.
"You're always eating!" Beng chided.
"But you don't even get fat." Tisha stroked his stomach.
"You're like Jughead, the Archie Comics character," said Dino Menio.
"How's Isidro?" said Tisha.
"I'm still not getting much out of him, nor him from me... although I do try to lay out a little something from me."
The girl gave him stationery words of encouragement.
"You have to come with me!" said Danny Consupo.
"You can do it yourself. I believe in you, pal!" bade Olive.
"I have to go somewhere."
Who the f* was Danny? Danny wasn't even an officer, unlike himself who had been secretary. Olive wanted to chill out with the core group. You're home already so early.
"There, we're done bringing home the kids, said Olive, not bringing up
"Let's go have some lunch," said Olive.
"No, I have to go home right now. said Danny
Olive himself did not rush back to UP. He knew that by then none of the UP TFS members would be left at Room A of Lorena Barrenos (how he thought Lorena Barros was spelled). Only Dino Menio lived near UP. Beng and Veronne lived in Sta. Mesa. Iona all the way in Marikina--- not the Marikina bordering on the tip of Katipunan Avenue, but Marikina deep East, not even along the routes plied by the jeepneys.
Walking Kap out of LBH's third room, Olive saw himself as an unlimp version of Aldwin. He did not thrown his arm then on Kap's shoulders, as was Aldwin's habit. Heck, Olive did not think himself as lowly . Olive could walk on his own two feet. He didn't need a companion to assist with crutches.
So many condominiums vying here in Plains Royale, almost like University Avenue's palm trees standing straight under the sun. Of course, Plains Royale was not based on Uni-Avenue, but along Bocobo Avenue, and the streets parallel to it East-lain. None of Plains Royale's sixteen condominiums (the Hechadia, the Lantern, the Rod, among others), however, was Hong Kong-grand. Some condominiums had penthouse levels crowned right above a twenty-first or twenty-second level. That wouldn't make the roofdeck hit the twenty-fourth story mark, such condominiums ridiculously foregoing any inclusion of a numbered thirteenth floor. Hell, superstition--- superstition of nit-witted Filipinos, and hell, it wasn't even Filipinos who instituted the Judas myth about number 13. Hell, what pisses off the Filipino bourgeois to the extent of writing out number 13 in their building constructions is not so much that Judas betrayed Jesus (a matter they can well remember without caring any less), but that Judas returned back the thirty-pieces of silver as bride upon his (nefas!) most irresolute remorse. Well, thirty was a number Plains Royale condo builders had nothing to worry about for bad luck. They couldn't design taller condo buildings. Experts from UP's National Institute for Geological Science had long ago established the limits .
"The grounds of Plains Royale are actually quite shakey," Geodetic Engineer Tonton Ovejo has personally told one developer and another time and again (three all in all, from whom the other developers had gotten wind). "For a while back during the turn of the century up until Philippine-American war, the grounds were used as a cemetery."
"Well, I certainly wouldn't want to go ahead and plant a forty-foot Mega-Rod (not that money's a problem), just to have it come tumbling down like a domino, which would spell losses bigger than can ever befall one man at a casino. I'm not stupid," was a reaction from Rodel Pinco, one of the developers who had sought his counsel. Rod had been Tonton's hike-mate in a few happy climbs up Mounts Cristobal, Banahaw, Fami and Talamitam. Engineer Ovejo had been an office of the UP Mountaineers. He had invited Rod to join, as even non-UP students were welcome at the UP Mountaineers, which was actually open-scholastic in its recruitment. (They would pull off anything to keep their membership soaring high above that of the UP Lakay Mountaineering group, which may be regarded as a break-away spun off early into the 1990's.)
To no Filipino's surprise, rent at the Plains Royale condominiums (such as the Burgos Apotheosis Condominium, or the "Apo" as both the involved construction workers and soon later the college kids living it up (not so much studying) in them would, each group to its own circles, call it.) was expectedly in no fair proportion to that of UP students' dorms. Narra Dorm's monthly rate cost each of the several male Layagers what often was a single night's chow-out for the upper-middle brats and those who would spend like them. Rooftop parties there would be, sometimes twice in a week. And small as these condominium buildings were, one of them having five floors only, in fact. The parties made lots of noise. Brats from Abadia Verde, Saint Francis and (though fewer in portion) UP would pump up loud tracks of rap they didn't even understand. The logic of rap music is based in neighbourhoods. There were no gangs in Plains Royale. Well, the "goodly" supposedly Christian community kept b*tching about the Car Pry-Open Gang, a gun-less, sporadic network of poor folks.
"Excuse me, sir, but where are you off to?"
"Who are you visiting?"
"Who would they be?"
A grand lunch was served. Four packets of instant soupless noodles were prepared. Luigi squeezed fresh balls of citrus onto the noodle dish, despite the ready-hand concomitant powdered flavouring of Toyomansi.
"Don't pour more soy sauce in," begged Kevin, "not even Warcestishare!"
Luigi corrected his neighbour but complied with the request.
"I know Helen," said Wes.
"Why, is she your friend from school?" asked Luigi.
"No, but I've heard things about her," said Wes.
"Well, whatever you've heard, we're not interested," said Luigi.
"That girl is so..." went on Wes, firmly believing in her own power of knowledge.
"She's already caught sick," said Wes.
"She's contracted an illness."
"It must be the common warmth," said Artus.
"Who's Helen?" inquired Oliver.
"Over here," said Artus, pointing to the display of his long-bodied cellular phone.
"AWWW... there can't be anything there," bawled BJ.
The rooftop of just another condominium it was. Of couse, everyone with a unit there was middle class. This wasn't f*ing Marcos' BLISS. Neither was this the campus district condo which had housed our current president, Her Excellency Gloria Arroyo.
No children were playing tonight in the small, shallow swimming pool. Its water was tidy enough, though, as always. No dried leaves reseeking water did a corn flake in its tiled bowl. The planted, fruitless mango trees were off to the far corners of the rooftop. Under there, in schooltree fashion, were a couple.
"What do you want me to do for you now, Teddy Boy?"
Teddy Boy--- this nickname Oliver received only from Kaprina, but he could imagine her putting it on everyone else who had known her--- I mean, those in the male category.
"Hold me tight when I'm quite so terrified," said Oliver.
Kaprina did not tighten her grip in Oliver, but it seemed that her hold on him now glowed with an intensified fervour.
The stars were complete in the El Niðo sky. The December Meteor shook in without its own friction of noise.
Why is it now so easy, thought Olive, but not quite special? Rare it was, and yet common. The thing was, the common aspect hung upon his own personhood.
Licking the inner walls of her cheeks, he worried at what seemed scratches from the inside (or were these little furrows, an appetizer to the great furrow?), and yet he was so taken in. She was so sincere, for the act, but did she really know him? Those who believed they knew him were bored eventually, or at least thought him good as the butt-end of a few kicks.
Why could only she? Then again, why was it not only he? Was he noone... but he has had his moments, by now that is, but the general consistency of his lifestyle would render these unreal, soon enough.
Ten words came from her lips in lieu of the certain three. Why was Olive not offended? Was she the world that he felt content with a mere slice of her?
Oliver was wondering. Why did he wake up so early after staying up so late? The sun was so bright. There were sparse clouds, not that they threw off the sky's hue. The air was so cold. It was like Baguio without the mist and fog that goes with the opening of joggers' speech. He showered and sported his casual wear, before hitting 7 a.m., a feat well-mastered my mall personnel hailing two or three cities away from their work destinations, but a miracle from him--- a UP student who lived off an allowance sent by his loving parents (whether they were at Australia or West Asia for the company).
"I guess that it's still too early to go call up Kap," said Olive to his p*nis, neatly tucked in the dark blue bikini brief below his washed but mud-vestiged denims, "but not if I reach for her through her cellular phone!"
Olive didn't own one for himself then, but he had a couple of phone cards he could go use at card-operated phones. He walked up to the BayanTel phone right up to the French crepes cafe at the corner of Sagiwsiw street. That phone unit faltered now and then, but it was the one nearest to his 381 Apo residence.
"Kap," said Oliver, "How's it going?"
"I'm busy," she said. She put down the phone, then and there putting off the strategic conversational follow-ups he was competent enough to be quite aware of.
Was she cramming paper work she had neglected under his companionship? Was she in the toilet? She had told him of her rumbling stomach last night. It did not erupt then.
It's too hot for me stay at home and read, thought Olive. Bourdieu will have to wait for another day. Olive went to a neighborhood computer shop. It was still closed, although on other iterations of Saturday morning, it had been open around those hours. Heck, there are indeed more than a handful of computer rental walk-in shops in this abnormally replete neighborhood, thought he. Of course, three hours later, 10 a.m., would be more of a sure-ball access time.
"She's at home," thought Olive, "This means two instead of fifteen per minute."
"I'm busy," said Kap.
"With..." Click. "...what?"
A text message to Kap might sure be called for now, except that Olive didn't own a phone and SmartTalk payphones had not yet been invented (Olive would learn to count on these a couple of years later--- not to any avail.).
Olive rode a jeep, with the same immediacy noted of him when catching a class for which (figuratively) the bell had already rung. Olive sometimes could beat a senior faculty's trip to the third floor of Palma Hall, although such a person would have a head start coming from Bulwagang Rizal, rather than Olive's neighborhood district, Burgerlandia (host to Dayrit's and other hamburger giants).
The jeep that he took did not wait to be filled that Saturday; it behaved almost as well as a Quiapo-Fairview jeep, as if it had to get on with its business, with competition left and right on its neck, rather than staying put at a loading point.
What could a person do on such a bright Sunday morning? Going to church seemed proper to him, but more so perhaps later in the evening. He felt his mouth still smacking of Kaprina's lipstick, breath freshener and naughty, edible saliva.
All seemed fine for Olive. Even the jeepney driver, Conrado Villaroman, as the man's FEJODAP ID hanging on the rear-view mirror stated, looked quite alright to him. He saw dust at the ends of the long benches towards the front seat's back board, but even this was no eyesore to him, nor were the streaks of black grime all over the hanging lidded yellow waste basket's plastic surface.
Olive checked out the newspaper stand. He did not intend to buy anything, nor would he be reversed into doing so. He even forgot what any of the headlines said.
Olive had lunch in a fastfood. He perused three different newspapers. He swept through them. If only I could read my Henri Lefebvre assignments this easily, thought he. Olive was quite impressed by the lay-out of the broadsheet newspapers. It wasn't the logic but the neutrality of the lay-out. The contents of course were not neutral. The Manila Bulletin supported President Estrada, while taking in mis-spelled and paratactical classified ads without even bothering them. A least, the Manila Bulletin wasn't ever noted for errata in their regular advertisements, nor their obituaries.
"Even without her, I'm still a man," Olive thought. Olive bought live fish at the grand, wet market. Grand it was in scale, although he was alien enough to it to feel uneasy at the outright absence of beef.
"Miss, you don't have beef?"
On the ride, he was greeted unintimidatingly by a big man. This fellow identified Olive from a bar, which Olive acknowledged. Olive had no trouble identifying the guy as the joint's bouncer. Olive recalled the fellow's friendliness a couple of months back. The guy was as warm as the office girls he had approached inside the bar. He recalled too that he didn't bother to read the guy's name off his subtle bronze-backdropped nameplate. Olive was sure that it would have been something like "Jun."
Pong bade farewell a few blocks before the jeep would have reached Monumento. The two men even shook hands. Olive would have loved to tell Jinky and Bubu, the girls he met at Wirehole, about this incident, except that he had been getting either unattended rings or handshake noises each time he called up the phone number that Jinky had given him around two weeks ago. Neither Jinky and Bubu even seemed a fashionable regular the likes of the triplet of Muslim princesses Duwatu he had seen the most times ever in his career of bar-bumping.
"I'd sure love to treat that guy out to a wild and dangerous strip joint," thought Olive of Pong, bearing in mind Pink Panther, where a police man forced him to walk around the other way as he was going to the rest room. When Olive later checked out the human aquarium, he left without picking a girl as the cop was coming near to the same show glass. Why would the fellow have to come over there while his GRO was still there by his gang's table?
Pink Panther now flashed before his eyes, but how could he get in? He carried a plastic bag filled with a dressed chicken, and it wasn't even Magnolia, but the unbranded kind---a broiler, too, though, not the more modest-sized but nutrient-superior native chicken, known in Negros as Manok Bisaya, although even Batangan's mountain communities carried such poultry well at par.
Olive got off at a Donut Robot. The joint had a door and adequate air-conditioning. He picked one with purple ube yam filling. Olive knew his uncle Javy had told him of Donut Robot abroad. Donut Robot franchises in the Americas, however, (South, Central, even Canada...) did not carry the same flavours as Donut Robot Philippines (the full satellite company name, never spelled fully on any of the chain's hundreds of outlets in the Philippines, merely appearing in the charts of the Fookien Times, as well as the Top 1000 Corporations as listed by Makati men). Of course Donut Robot be it in the river plate or elsewhere in the Ultramar always had chocolate and chocolate with nut varieties, but Uncle Javy had told Olive about Hazelnut frosted Donut Robot.
"Drinks, sir? You might get all choked up," said the food counter personnel, copying the same words of generations-full of counter personnel before, as far as Tungkong Mangga, Bulacan and Zapote Road. Olive had expected uneagerly this comment. Were not Tolkien's opening pages of The Hobbit heavily drawn from the Filipino race?
The taste of the donut fell within his expectations. He had merely eaten a quarter of it, and it was already quite as satisfying as a slice of moon. Olive wanted, however, to shake off some salt he had accrued from eating peanuts he had gotten from a Blumentritt bilao-furnished stand. He looked at the two inner corners of the joint, but saw no doors. Time to speak up.
"Sorry, sir we don't have a restroom," was the employee's set-statement response.
How could there be no restroom? All the other couple of dozen of branches of Donut Robot he had been to had restrooms: good ones, far better than public toilets, Olive believed. He had even seriously thought before of writing an unsolicited letter to the government's Commission of Appointments ardently nominating Mr. Wallburg Remigio, the king of the Donut Robot chain, at least as far as its franchises in the Philippines goes, as Cabinet Minister for Public Toilets.
Olive stood up. He left his donut, took his chicken, crossed the road and approached what increasingly seemed to him a massage parlour.
At the edge of the sidewalk, however, he swung his head all around this way and that. There were people around this late at night. He could not get away from their eyes in order to take a leak against any folded gate the way that was his habit in Better Living, Parañaque or other foreign coasts.
"Mind leaving the chicken?" asked the guard of the establishment called Peace. The guard's interests did not include turning the helpful guest away.
"Not at all," said Olive, finding the guy OK.
This man at the front door tucked the white plastic bag with the chicken into his podium. He opened the door for Olive and gestured him welcome.
Olive picked a very unspecial number, had the exact change for the counter fee, which wasn't all loose change. Although it was his first time ever in this joint, the counter personnel didn't think him so. They gave him his wooden number tab, which he took up with him. Instead of turning for the curtained cubicles, he helped himself to the general comfort room, which he found without needing to ask around, considering the manageable size of the venue. When he went the other way from that which was default, the second floor male escort was at a loss to where went the customer announced to him by the local PA system.
As for Olive, what a costly leak, more expensive than the US currency quarter paid for rest rooms in some of Donut Robot's branches in the USA which willing non-customers would shell out.
Alreay, Olive felt so relieved. He had his underwear garter shake his soft member a good number of times, to let off whatever drop of residual solute that had nagged him back at the other side of the road. And now, commencement. Olive retired to the cubicle, as if he were hitting the sack right at home. Although the attendant took a while to get around, Olive was an incident of a customer not raring to jump at his attendant--- who would quite predictably impart to him that she came from Leyte.
It turned out to be a shedding of cotton, salt and sweetmost water.
That was a long f·g ride to LBH.
Upon entering Lorena Barros Hall, Oliver, no longer on the go, felt the baby powder on his chest, as if he were one of the filled donuts. Oliver looked through the files of UP Task Force Streetchildren. Of course, he found the names he knew. Beng Salvador was actually an Isabel. There were others, however--- strange ones, although their records were dated well within his stay of service within the organization.
Villarga---- Maria Glecy Villarga, who was she? There was even no 2 x 2 picture tacked onto the allotted upper right-hand corner slot. Her application fee had been paid (a mere P50). Other organizations: KMS, Sigma Delta Phi. Hobbies: Rappeling, Scuba Diving.
What else would say something about this person... This does it!
Olive jotted down the lady's phone number. He put the records back in their proper place. Actually, he tucked in four file sheets into his Khumb Mhela knapsack. He went down the little asphalt-paved hill that had Lorena Barros Hall resting on it. He exitted through the as yet unfenced hill-base and took a jeepney.
Time to stay at home and save some money. This wisdom has been noted by millions of students the world over, even mediocre ones.
The chicken was not properly dressed. Feather-stubs were still lodged in the skin, and they were not at all an exotic delicacy, not like chicken intestines or chicken behind. Plucking on the feather-stubs himself, Olive recalled Aldwin, who would pluck at his own chin when the two of them were left alone in LBH, not that they ever walked in or out of Room C together. At least the stubs were at most about a dozen, and one by one these could be removed as the chicken was heated in the marinade composed of dashings of left-over soda, juices and flavoured milks from cans and mini-bottles opened days ago.
After eating himself to a first fill (with a good heap of pleasant fruity-dairy carbonated chicken still left), Olive lay down for a while. He picked up the cheaper of Dell's three or so guitars-- the one which Dell all too willingly lugged around even without its soft case, leaving it every so often in the care of a brad from Kappa Doble or even just LAYAG. Olive got the guitar from Min.Take it away from me, said Min. Min was busy for three term papers within two weeks. Why don't you just hand it back to Dell He's out with his girlfriend and some cousins to Boracay just for three days.
"Bong Revilla lost," said Aldwin, holding up a tabloid. Of course, the broadsheet newsapers would carry the same news, but not as headlines--- in the Entertainment section rather, with a whole stardom-sweep analysis of the current elections.
"Idol mo si Kap, isn't it so?" teased Aldwin.
"Not anymore, said Olive, Never Again. I hate Kap."
"Kap, as in Bong Revilla?" was how Jed began to butt in, "You friggin` have him as one of your notebook's front covers!"
"I love Bong Revilla, and hate Kaprina Semilla," explained Olive.
The folks around reacted as if hoping to mitigate somehow.
The corridor. The ironed short-sleeved non-bagets polo. The PMA-hairdo. The shiny, white, but unoily skin.
"Hi," said Sir James (He greets everybody.).
"Merry Christmas, sir," said Oliver.
"How's life?" asked Sir, although his antennae (Physically, he has bigger ears than Jimmy Abad of the English Department.) had already picked up reports.
In comes Charilen, a girl who has not been yet registered in any of such reports. "Merry Christmas, Oliver!"
"You're not greeting her, Oliver? [Who's she?]"
Oliver's face was as settled as a ripe death mask.
"What's up with you? You're so grouchy," said Sir James, knowing that the girl couldn't help but hear, but at least conveying that he wasn't pushing the statement on her.
For this moment, Olive himself became a perpetrator of what he had characterized of his (but not Sir James') Sociology Department--- the Department of Silenciology. Sir James Cayam, the Philosophy professor has had fond enough memories of Olive not to reverse his regard of the young fellow notwithstanding this poaching incident.
The girl moved on, silent in her sneakers. When she reached into the dimmer sections of the corridor, Oliver opened up, "Fine tomorrow, I'll give her a Hallmark card tomorrow, and write into it, 'Whenever I f·g need you, you know, you're never, ever...'" (Well, anyway, as an aside to Olive's statement, Hallmark company, ever since it ventured into the cable TV channel industry, has come to take in such words as "murders" into its erstwhile single-faceted goody-goody vocabulary, even flashing such new bad words in big, bold, white letters.)
James had to shut his eyes, although he didn't laugh, his white boy face flushed pink. For a young man so good looking, it was almost impossible to believe that he wasn't Ilonggo. To be sure, James was James, because he was a Jaime.
"Was there anything that you wanted to tell me?" Olive asked Sir James, cupping a service smile.
"Oh, well... let me think for a while. Oh, my, why yes! I met this chap by the name of... Danilo. Danilo Mapungay... from CEU."
"FEU. I don't think there are guys in CEU, although I myself am not quite sure."
"Well, I was thinking that maybe he was a young teacher there... ot thereabouts. He says he knows you,"
"Indeed he does know me, except that I had left his phone number on the cell phone that had been lent to me by my Aunt, who had taken it with her a couple of months back on a business trip to Mandaue. I haven't seen her nor her phone since."
"His number has just changed, anyway, but I have it here," said Sir James, shaking the typical compact-format lidless Nokia phone.
"Thanks for Danny's number, James."
(Who is the ideal comrade?)
Was there actually one single comrade whom Olive could think of?
He walked the campus. It's been all the same form him. Did it matter if he had only one year to trudge in this deadmost of places, or if there had to be three? So what if he pursued a Master's Degree? New people would surface into his life at an even slower rate in graduate studies than in his bachelor's education. And what of the twenty or so thousand people he had already shared this triste campus with? They had been mostly apparitions. And the more he knew certain folks, the less he ended up liking them.
"Adieu, triste monde!" he had mused time and again as Deleuze Gilles or was it Guattari bading himself as he threw himself down his fenetre, or a poem Olive himself had written and played with son fin etre.
In come the two chaps and the four asquat on the undusted mat (which, were it only shined, could have been imagined as carrying blueberry cheesecake colours) just throw a look with no greeting. Even this is soon withdrawn, and a card game starts where just had been a chitty-chat on the cutest Upsilonians courting any of the maidens among their close acquaintances.
"That was a fucking obnoxious thing you did at Libertad," said one of the newly-arrived still to his companion for the past three hours.
"No need to bring...," said the other, without craving to squat along with the stay-ons.
"Why did you burn it all up!"
"I paid for them all. Just like--- I buy cigarettes. I burn cigarettes, AND my l..."
"F*U. and Shut Up, wise dog-a**. Is that the way you want to **ing promote us? You're so shallow, rash and ..."
"Well, why did you not stop me then and there, Mr. Mor..?"
"How the *** was I supposed to expect you to do something so selfishly insane?"
"Fine, go hawk Max Solliven's publications with your own two hands. Be a distributor of..."
"Can't you learn to be more *** conventional!!"
"Convention is the enemy."
"Rashness is not the way."
(Adages which would not even find their way into the organization's log book.)
"If I was born rich, and landed, I'd have my own paper and wouldn't burn it, or any other rag for that matter."
Instead of a spur-sparked connection to Citizen Kane, "F* U#", was the final telling off. No applause.
He proceeds to prepare the supper, intending to serve his even s—— companion, just to illustrate the behaviour of proper, civilized human beings.
Bernie now hates Chris for bothering to talk with Oliver. He keeps his head down when handing over a little object that Chris has just requested.
Olive hadn't been passing by the Layag HQ for a record four days, and he had no intention of breaking his fast. No one made a big alert of the matter, as everyone was all busy with term papers and cramming. Elvar had been smoking an Asian upper, cheap speed, hydrochloride metamphetamine, but he seemed no hoodlum in his season-occasioned habit. The proverbial "Burning by candle the eyelids whilst in the labours of study" became according to Elvar's Political Science Professor "burning the eyelids by the lowered-down flame of shabu". Elvar eventually passed the semester with marks ranging from 2.75 to 1.25. So, too was Olive, with a workload as well, but without drugs.Olive saw a movie. He expected Ever Gotesco COmmonwealth Avenue to be overflowing with simple people. It was not.
Olive saw firecrackers, even a bit North from Tandang Sora corner Commonwealth. He knew that the fireworks came from UP Back at Layag HQ, everyone seemed so celebratory an outsider would think that they themselves had organized the successful Eraserheads Cutterpillow concert, which most certainly wasn't the case. Well, at least, years later, Eraserheads willingly agreed to open up the February school fair night concert, when it was Kappa Doble's day to sponsor. Dr. Mangalap bankrolled the initial capital for Kappa Doble night at the UP fair set-up. The Kappa Doble did make some money out of the fair, not such a big percent of what Mangalap ang Menandro Benito, Jr. put in (roughly a bit more than 9%), but enough to keep Kappa Doble alumni now and then willing to shoulder the money-down expenses for a Kappa Doble-dedicated night during the annual UP five-day fair.
Teddy greeted Olive. He had left his Layager date Frances to the company of their other Layagers while he was supposed to light a cigarette just outside Room C (although he wasn't required by written regulations to do so--- he just felt that all the Layagers who attended the Eraserheads concert had taken extra time to take a shower just before the show, although they all worked up a sweat rooting, jumping and bobbing through it, Teddy still felt the aura of the having-been-groomed-ness of the Layagers tonight, and even when he saw the concert-absent Olive, he noted that this Olive was not looking too bad himself, even without his noting the light-weight imported surplus USA-knit jeans the fellow just held in a shopping bag emerging from the dark of the Wenceslao Vinzons-Lorena Barros asphalted hill area).
"Olive, did you catch the concert, too? [receiving the anticipated head signal] Why didn't you come with us?"
"I knew the E-heads had a concert coming, but this day itself just slipped by me. I was too busy studying."
"Well, you missed half your life," said Teddy via cliche, yeah lawyers even law students are pre-disposed to mouthing pre-established phrases. "...But it's good that you're here to join us now, so you'd not pass up on your other half of it."
Ahead of a bound trio of shoulder-slinging fellow Kappa Doblers (Min, Freddie Boy and Elvar), Winston came in room C with a little, brown Cordilleran-looking girl, who was neither from Delta Kappa nor Layag. He introduced her as his a neighbour from Project 3. She was, but not from next door, but the other street. Winston is a rare case of a Filipino who ever bothered to introduce himself to another customer by the window of a sari-sari store---that is, a store of which there are hundreds of thousands of these un-aisled, booth-type mini-groceries suppliers.
After Winston introduced Sheila to Freddie Boy, Min, Pablo, Twen, Charong and almost everyone else except Olive, Winston bade them a "be-right-back!" and left his girl. No one suspected it, not even hours later, or the days subsequent (when he was mildly inquired about his own sudden temporary but night-passing disappearance)--- but he scoured the area for a toilet in which to take a dump. Lorena Barros had two comfort rooms. Yes, for such a small three-room bungalow, the friggin thing had what had been primordially allotted as male and female rest rooms (During Layag's time, however, the two baths were not split by gender, Layag had enough gender-splitters such as Pablo Negroponte; rather, the baths were split between what Ferdie Baron called the religious --- that is the four or so Muslims and fifty-plus Christians circulating between Samasa original formula non-TMMA and Layag--- and the heathens--- the losers from Iglesia ni Eraño's false and lying faith). Each of these comfort rooms wasn't even a mere half-bath, but a full bath. Well, most Filipinos don't demand a shower sprinkler over their heads, but there was tiled floor space and a strainer for taking a shower, a drum of water, and a waist-level hose-sporting faucet issuing forth running water below the expectedly disfunctional overhead shower sprinkler, besides a usable bathroom sink (no hot water, of course, Philippine-style, on the left hand of two mounted faucets).
Freddie boy, and a couple others drew out their complimentary cassette jackets merrier than accordions.
Unfortunately though quite inadvertently, a couple of the Layagers would drag in either a Tagalog or English-academic phrase that was too much for Sheila to comprehend. At one point, Sheila tried to repeat three or four words she did not quite get, and her utterance didn't indeed match what had been mouthed by her rambling chat-mate, the f*ggot Pablo Negroponte it had been at that point.
"A Freudian slip!" Teddy snapped from a far, other corner of the room. That didn't bring the house down, but everyone approvingly hummed giggles: Teddy was so well-valued by both Samasa and Layag.
Olive was now in a position to keep spending quality time with Sheila, but he didn't feel so drawn to her. Sheila herself had shut out from opening much to anyone except her boy, WInston. Sheila would respond to people's questions, of course. None of them got too personal, hgowever. They wanted Winston to be around before starting up on that. Where's Winston gone? asked Teddy. Wasn't he with you guys, said Frances.
"If it's just his own crotch, he can't seem to let go of it, but if it's a girl..." Olive started.
Teddy opened up praise for Olive's well-dug insightfulness. Even Charong couldn't stop giggling and smiling at Olive's remark.
Weekdays came by and all of a sudden hanging out in Lorena Barros felt fun again for Olive. When he submitted the term papers under teachers' doors in the Faculty Center's third floor before heading the other way for Lorena Barros hall, Olive didn't feel tense at all.
The sunset felt great on Olive. He felt like Trixie, the cartoon strip's "kid so fun of sunshine," as the poet and reader Edelberto Garcia put it.
Olive walked East down Roxas Avenue, but he didn't feel so alone. His being at pace with all his school subjects seemed to sling a tender arm upon his drooping shoulders.
"What's up Olive?" said Carrie.
Carrie was a younger classmate (actually, she just sat in a couple of Olive's sociology classes taught by Mark Sagan), a tall girl. She was in every which way an adolescent. Carrie was at least a poet.Carrie would hang out at that point along Roxas Avenue preceding the library walk.
Towards sunset in Sikatuna. No bay, just a few bins and bags of garbage properly stuck to the side of a wall fencing in a demolished structure once built upon the now unoccupied lot. Nearby bustling was a computer shop of units with no keyboards, only controllers for games. To the side of that, scrap wood, a jutting mini-platform with a table or two. Inside, a boy black as any urchin but stouter than any mountain cat man may find sets up his tripod and a few hanging lights. This Camera Cat (Well he wouldn't qualify into Possum's Books of Practical Cats, not being that interesting, nor into the musical--- he could neither move nor sing.) was crouching, up on his feet. He gladly hears the door creaking behind him.
"Are you sure this is the place?" said Jimbel.
"Yes. We're very sure," said Min.
"We've even been here twice already," said Elvar. Actually, he and Min had just heard about the place from Dell, their fraternity brother, who had taken out Lucy, a frizzy-haired black-skinned drug addict from Alabama, into this joint.
"I don't think that they serve beer here."
"They do. Trust us," said Elvar.
"Oh, they do serve beer, but not soft drinks," said Min. "Fruit shakes, purified water, coconut wine, tequila, beer, juice but absolutely no soft drinks," elaborated he on the phenomenon, not that he needed to have read the Philippine Collegian article by CSV to tell him that.
"Let's go have a seat," said Elvar.
A waiter was about to give the three a seat, but the two among themselves had--- yes-- already seen to that.
"It's small here," said Jimbel.
"But we've got a nice ambience here," said Elvar (invoking that desired thing, although not having it quite as everyday as Miana Tighal, the gold-digging slut from Le Club Francaise.
Min smiled and tried his best (as did most of the place's customers) to look smiley, content and intelligent.
"Look at the girl," said Elvar.
"Photogenic girls don't need a photo shoot to look cute inside a cafe."
"Pass me the newspaper, please," Jimbel said, in addition.
Min and Elvar wanted to do more scoping of the "crowd" within the tiny place, but first they threw a look at Jimbel.
"It smells funny here," said Jimbel.
"It might be the comfort room."
"Well, if that's so then I don't feel comfortable about it at all."
"I'll go check," said Min.
"What are you? The DTI?"
"I just wanna go take a leak," said Min.
Min asked for the Comfort Room from one of the service personnel. Min walked up to the door, and threw a look at the photographer. He grabbed the CR knob, but noted that the chamber was occupied. He shook the knob resoundingly, anyway, a couple more times.
"There's only one CR?" said Jimbel.
Neither Min nor Elvar could dig up a defense. Starbucks along Katipunan Avenue had not yet been put up for them to make an argumentative analogy. Besides, the two chaps never set foot on Starbucks Katipunan when it did open shop. Neither of them had the balls to walk into the cafe without buying anything. It was Jimbel who made a habit out of it--- walking in, stepping out often without spending nor smoking.
Min now got to enter the rest room. The boy with the camera was standing away from his model, assessing where he should prop up his tripod.
"I need to have a cigarette," said the girl.
"OK by me," said the shooter, "just cue me when you're all done."
"Glad to see you folks here," said the working boy to Jimbel and Elvar, whose table he now simply adjusted himself, too.
"Do we know you?" said Jimbel.
"My name's Eric, Eric said sure enough, reaching out this right hand."
Min had just come back. He excused himself back into the table, and sat to the left of Jimbel. To the guy opening up, he flicked forth his spear hand. His wrist did a saluting notion except that his hand was bent off at the level of his chin, not set at the crest of his brow.
Eric proceeded to brag about his being supposedly close friends with the Marcoses, especially Aimee, the niece.
Eric reached out a calling card to Jimbel.
"Wow, check out that babe," said Elvar, of a woman in black.
"There's no finesse to her stomping about," said Min.
Although they would not spending half an hour there, they noticed the tall female with clumsy thick black heels going in and out of the CR more than a handful of times.
"That's like the seventh time"
"Seventh heaven," said Elvar.
"Well, I wouldn't eat her pi*s," said Jimbel, "Let's go." Jimbel waved for the waiter.
"I'm short twenty bucks, pal," said Elvar.
"Fine. Fine, " said Jimbel, still slouching on his seat.
Min patched up for what was lacking in Elvar's contribution without Jimbel's putting his magic hand on the matter.
Elvar swang over to the front passenger seat door. He did not yet touch its handle but clenched his fists with one right above the other as if tugging a penis the dimensions of a barbecue stick.
"The night's still young," said Elvar.
"I've got a term paper to write." said Jimbel.
"Hannah can do it for you," said Elvar softly, turning his eyes to Min.
Jimbel didn't know who Hannah Frances Chando was (Neither Elvar nor Min actually coughed out the three to eight hundred pesos for her academic services, nor did they avail the free sex she had given to Feldon and Mael, her paper composition-mates.), but he didn't inquire on the matter.
"I don't cheat," said Jimbel. "Let's get in the car."
The two went in.
"Nice being with you guys."
Jimbel dropped off both guys at Narra, entering campus by counter-flowing between the said dorm and LBH.
The old wench selling porridge and soy bean curd around the corner had a word to say about the entry of Jimbel's cachemere-coloured Honda Civic. This too, "It's as if I've seen that guy before."
She fixed her gaze at the man on the wheel, not that he returned her looking through his clear shut windows.
A guy with his girl, Erica by name, inside a Honda Accord with tinted windows muttered as he drove in the normal, opposite way, only hard and bitter enough for his girlfriend to hear. She, a part-time employee of AHEAD Tutorial Services, only heaved a sigh of concurring.
The door's locked, said Min.
It's not even one o' clock.
Min kicked the door.
"The guard's still asleep. I'll go wake her up."
While the guy was doing as promised, which he would accomplish under a minute, Elvar and Min.
"It took us two weeks to ask Jimbel out," said Elvar to Min.
"Eighteen days," Min added.
"I hope that we haven't been a bad shot," said Elvar
"Gothanne is coming again today, right?" said Byron.Byron and Bennet were both friends of Gothanne. How's it going Rothanne. Byron smiled at Rothanne. Well, he knew only how to pull up one kind of smile. It was the same thing he used while he tried to cook up something. "I can't. I have something to do," Bennet was the best guitarist in UP Faithfree, which was not a band, but one of a number of unrecognized UP student orgs. Why were they unrecognized? Not that they had any idead dislikeable to the school administration. They were one of many UP student groups not much given to ideas, anyway. Bennet and Rothanne would go get drugs at Purok Dagohoy. Well, drugs there did not come up with much variety--- just doobie and a cheap upper hydrochloride metaamphetamine. Rothanne was the only guy Olive would hear in the PHilippines in referring to shabu as speed. Rothanne would just go with another girl to get drugs at Purok Dagohoy. Rothanne was the bassist of two bands, and in both bands she wasn't the only double-timer. Rothanne had gigs in Mayric's.
"Come on. Come on. Give it, mamma," said Andre, with the volume of a whisper and the intonation of an R n' B Star.
"Keep it up," said Lanson along the same vein.
"I'm quite OK with this, kids, " said Third (Prospero Marcelez the III, in his case, a Sanguniang Kabataan Chairperson, the son of a Quezon Province town mayor we can count on to never hit the national level of politics).
The four---including Olive--- were cooling off after a billiard game of killers. They came to the hall for the game, not the ambience, but something caught up with them after they had settled their bill--- two chicks, well there was one guy. He was no jock, but neither was he a f*g.
"Ssssttt... he might hear us," said Andre.
"Yeah... that may be so," agreed Lanson.
Silence and observance were what the four guys took to.
The girls were competent players. They weren't the typical loafers who'd exclaim "Stupid!" at each other. They didn't carry the cleavage projected by advertising agencies and movies on billiard tables--- hanging flesh the size of the shot put-sized bowling balls for the candlestick bowling alleys right behind them.
"Awwww... they're leaving."
"Were we liable?"
"I would think maybe not quite."
"We better go test.
Andre stood where at one edge of the vacated table where the two chicks took their shots.
Ferdinand saw Oliver in the alumni center. He waved and parted with unpeeled lips.
"Call me desensitized," spoke Olive to his ego.
"Who was that?" asked Openg (Prospero).
"Answer me," said the asker, "bud."
The royal orange-infusing sun was setting, and on another side of UP campus also nearby the Aurora-bound jeepney orbit, there were tables too, but these were not attended green, but a rice crispy treat of stones. Sitting backlit by the sunset was Walden Gatyaro. Everybody knew her as "Leandra Martinez's child." When Walden sang with her pop-rock bad Triptych be it on the School of Economics grounds or the Main Library North Wing, even the poorest of UP students would point her out to their petty cliques as "That's the daughter of Leandra Martinez!" with the same awe that we often deem the Incarnated Person of our Supreme Divine One as "the son of David."
Everybody knows that Leandra Martinez was one of the grand stars of the 1980's--- as far as Filipino performing and recording artists reknown in the Philippines for singing English (without quite getting enough acclaim outside the country, albeit much yearned for) go.
She liked to refer to herself as Wanda, yes after the guy in Dead Poets Society ( a movie which the Department of English she was in had shown dozens of times since 1991 to students) Wanda was what some Manileños may note as a subdivision Wiccan. She owned four Wiccan books, all out of Standard Bookstore. One had a graduation-picture sized- pic, except the focus was full-0body and not merely the neck up. It featured a woman young enough but almost thirty, blonde and topless. Donato made a fuss of this. Wanda was a brown Molly Ringwald. Her lips and nose were Molly Ringwald. If you took a patch of her skin, it was more of Tyra Banks than Molly Ringwald, but the expression on her face was indeed of a Molly Ringwald. Molly Ringwald, who hadn't been doing anything noticeable for the decade that had been the ample seating space of this novel's narrative.
A good twelve million pesos worth of briefly parked personal non-indigenous vehicles gathered around a mini-barbecue stand not even worth six thousand (softdrinks included).
"We better buy our cigarettes now," said Andre, pointing at the cart opposite the barbecue. Over there were cigarettes, duckling chick eggs, and wok-fried quikiam.
"I still have three," said Olive.
"That won't be enough. We need to get more," said Andre, also fixing his sportsy Thailand-made Dodgers cap to which he had attached a yelllow SAPi campaign pin.
"Fine get them," said Jimbel
"I don't have anything on me now," said Andre his hands patting on the pockets of his Polo Sport jeans flown in by his Aunt based in Orange County.
"But don't they sell cigarettes at the Patio, anyway? Their hostel is now even dubbed the University Hotel," said Jimbel. It was he who suggested that they go drink over there."
He wasn't answered for that, not that cold shoulders were propping up the caesura of silence.
"Look, guys. Check out that chick. I bet her name is Hazel," said Jimbel, fishing for response this time from his flock.
The guys thought his deduction a pretentious air of a spoiled Filipino brat, trying to rattle off like an Italian-American fresh out of Hollywood, but indeed they re-confirmed that Jimbel was indeed the Man of Science, for there was the evidence: Her very name, not just on any custom car license plate, but an Upsilonian custom plate.
"I guess that the S-D-Phi haven't yet dramatically and artistically processed their own tune of license plates," went on the man.
The girl (Yes, her name was Hazel.) twitched.
I told you that the crowd was better back at the barbecue stand.
Yeah Olive agreed
but there are no chairs there.
"They say Jing is going for the presidency of UP Sociologues," said Lanson, leaning back on his metal chair.
"Why?" asked Jimbel, "who does she have with her?"
Andre was thinking about Jimbel's reaction without nailing a gaze to the man's eyes.
"Yeah, I know Jing, but Jing doesn't have what it takes.
"She's sexy," said Andre, unaware that what he said would qualify neither to Latin nor North American standards.
"Just because a girl wears sleeveless shirts like dozens of other Filipinas within view, that doesn't make them sexy."
"Jing is close with Jacinta."
"Yeah, I like Jacinta," said Jimbel.
"I'll have another cigarette please, said Andre, knowing too well he wouldn't be denied. Jimbel's two fingers pushed the pack towards Dre, like a train cashier slipping a token right under the window.
"Why doesn't Jacinta go for it herself?" asked Jimbel in front of everyone.
"She doesn't want to. She's all too busy with her thesis," explained Lanson.
"Yeah, that f*k*g Paglinawan didn't even pass her the first time around, and Jacinta even skipped our induction night just for one of her group shootings for their thesis project."
Of those who cared in UP Sociologues, a good 40% of the guys were well-wishers for Chairman Richard Gordon: Andre, Jimbel, Arbie. Openg was for Erap, as was the Espino kid, Elford. Elford and Openg were both sons of small town mayors. Openg was all for Erap, whom he referred to in a lighter diminutive Filipino Spanish-sparked word as "godfather." Well, Erap surely wasn't the Divine One in the person of Father, not sticking his own larded self to an only begotten son.
"The girls don't seem to care at all," sang Olive repeating a Steely Dan chorus. Openg sure as hell didn't know where the Olive came up with that, and indicated it to his org-mate as he pried by toothpick a fiber or two of pork ear from his well-checked teeth. The only Steely Dan tune Openg could perhaps somewhat recognize was "Hey, Nineteen," not that he even knew who sung that tight pop classic.
"The beer is expensive here," said Bruce Boy. Bruce Boy was a heavy daily drinker, although it didn't show in his appearance. Bruce Boy looked all kempt, pimple-free and athletic. He didn't smell of alcohol. He wore cheap but well-ironed casual shirts, even those which flashed loud their cheap brands such as "MOLECULES." Bruce had been president of Tau Gamma Phi fraternity UP Diliman chapter before Angelo Ragmay--- the latter seeming a more obvious pick.
After the mid-1990's, Bruce no longer served in any of Tau Gamma Phi's functions. He certainly wasn't there to celebrate their Twenty GRAND Fifth, held in Sulu Hotel. Well, most brods didn't lug enough in theirs wallet to go check in any rooms after the ball. Actually, among the early 1990's Tau Gamma mainstays, only Angelo Ragmay and a few around him (like Alfred "Bigtime") still check on the nation-reknown frat until this present day.
"I know other Tau Gamma Phi boys," said Olive, "and they stay in their frat for life."
Bruce Boy didn't feel the slight, although he heard Olive's words quite clearly. He didn't even bother making any distracting table gestures.
Andre was getting worried himself, for in a few moments would come...
"You're with Sigma Rho, right, Andre?" again from Olive.
"Secret...," said Andre, almost like a f*ggot, although never did he ever come close to undressing another another man. Andre put up with the comment, smiling. How could Olive not notice anything from the way Fely gave him a high five right there at the Patio just a while ago. Fely was with the Delta Lambda Sigman Mickey, also a young man who looked fresh and like the action king Robin Padilla, and Mr. "Rosig Indeed" Raul Canon, who had gotten involved in the Yasser Abbas shooting of Niño Calinao back in 1999.
Well, the Rhoan high five came a minute ago. It was not a handshake. The Rhoans still had their handshake, but Andre was no longer to receive it, after volunteering to resign over the fraternity stance on the Calinao incident.
Sigma Rho would lose a couple of members late in the 1990's, but they didn't harbour much ill against those who left them, nothing like Ed Angara feeling all soured about President Gloria Arroyo, who beat him in laying butt on Malacañang's hot seat. Even after the millenium, not just Fely, but even Kristel would keep greeting Andre sans handshake. Mark Villacorta continued his close friendship with the expellee Rexx, the son of a congressman father and a mother USA-based still teaching.
Time to play the role of man among the middle class.
Olive rose from sleep 7:45 a.m., although his main agenda for the day (or the month for the matter) was to attend a party scheduled to start at 7 p.m.: the birthday to which he had been most cordially invited by Mr. Jaime 'Jiggs' Guaran Tendario, his high school batchmate at Jorge Bocobo Boarding School.
"Come as your are," Jaime Tendario had told him. The party was to be held at home, Corinthian Gardens.
Olive thought he would wake himself up by well past 11 a.m., slowly freshen himself up, take almost two hours to commute, and make it to the party early past 5. Not yet 8 and with him already awake and standing.
"Why am I not quite up to doing my laundry today?" thought Olive.
I go better get a girl. Not Kaprina. What about Christine? Which Christine? Jing? Jing-Jing? Christina? Christie? Kris? Not Maricris; she's Jong's boyfriend.
Kris doesn't even know how to wear a dress. As for her talking voice, she's not a note behind Pia Hontiveros. Of course, Kris would sooner get naked than go sport a blazer. Not that I've yet seen her do so. Kris Tulgo belongs to the Sigma Alpha Nu Sorority. How come that sorority doesn't carry the letter Delta in its name? Aren't they Daughters of something or dalaga? Anyway, they're always staging forums. Kris is never boring for talk. It's just... heck, can't hurt to dial!
Kris soon took up the other end of the line, which Ruth, her house-help, handed over to her. Kris started up answering Olive's call with the same tone and deportment as she had carried the last time he had called her six months ago, way back when she had been taking a call from him every other day. Had she ever been the one to first call him? Why, yes--- three times, all in all.
"Where's the party going to be held?" came soon enough from Kris' voice.
Olive spelled out the complete, exact address.
"Wow!" she said. "I'd love to go, but I still have a paper to do. Actually, it's eight days overdue."
"So it wouldn't hurt if you pushed it one more day."
"Actually, I believe that I've got it hot today. I think that I can nail most of it in, especially the body text."
"What's it about?"
"I can't tell you now. It's not yet finished."
"How have you been doing lately?"
"Everything's fine. Listen. I'm doing a huge print job for my current draft, and I don't want a paper jam to do me in like I got... snagged last month. See you! Got to go."
She put down the phone, found her leg caught in the cord which she shed down like a sweat-ridden stocking. She rushed to the shower, but (her toes lifting the soles of her bare feet off the cold tiled floor) felt like going back to the phone, so as to wait again rather for the other caller she had more expected. The term paper was real, but Dino Marquez was fantasy incarnate. She didn't find Dino's handsomeness beyond decent, but he was always so smooth in presenting himself to her. He did not need to send her flowers to make her feel them in her dedolescented heart. Eventually, he did give her some flowers, yellow roses she found quite lavish she did not bother to surmise where they might have come from.
Dino. Dino. Dino. Some words even Shakespeare had to repeat three or four times in succession in order to dramatize.
She pulled the shower sprinkler from its overhead clamp. She turned the water 88% percent hot and relished the soft trunk as it followed her desired foci. She forgot that her hair was still in a bun until she pressed on the shampoo bottle cap. The cap opened its eye. She grabbed the shower cap. She remebered that four days ago she had highlighted her naturally brown hair with a single lashing of purple, but she decided not to don the cap, just letting the hot water run through her hair like fingers.
Lunch with Dino. Dino for lunch.
She felt herself a princess seated facing her dresser's mirror. No, not a pimple on her face, and certainly no craters. Beauty sleep sure worked fine for her. Last night she declined an outing with her sorority sisters. No. She didn't want to go home and having to clear her nose of post-booze whiteheads not other people's cigarette smoke deposits the morning after, not on the day she was welcoming Dino back from his fourth long trip to New York. She typed up her report on Exupery's Le Petit Prince. It seemed done, except that she could still go on and on about it.
After the dresser, she checked the pages printed this morning by her spanking new laser printer. There were a couple of ink streaks, but none of these even rendered any single of her words unintelligible.
The car honked twice. Dino picked her up five minutes early.
Olive looked out his window. There were people walking by. They were mere fuzzes as seen through the dirty window. He stepped out. He wanted to smoke a cigarette, but decided to hold it off until he made just one more call. There were Green Abbey students walking in pairs, threes, fours or more. Kris had done her high school in Green Abbey (Royale). Whether she had been through the same place for elementary years too was not within Olive's knowledge.
Jing-Jing studied in LaSalle Taft, but was only a scholar there (something as rare as the element radium over there). She was offered only a two-year program there, which she was near done with, all the while it hasn't seemed to have whittled away from her duty time at their family's variety mini-store at Goodwill Neighborhood, Parañaque.
"Jing-Jing is not here. She's in Indang."
"Yes." The mind swallows.
"Is this Oliver?"
"Why don't you just go catch up with them while it's still early... if you already know your way around there..."
"Thanks' Ma'am. It's just that I have something else to do today. Thanks very much for the tip-off.
"Anytime, Oliver. Take care."
Time out with the coach (the coach upstairs, that is, for this instance):
I know that our clique-mates Lawrence and Leo go there, but Jing-Jing hasn't been part of the habit. I'm not shocked, but this is the first time. Oh well, as Jimmy Santos says...
Christina Apable, white and well-bred. Wasn't Olive ever so happy to see her every now and then on campus? She had even given him her number. She was rarely home, but it's been almost ten times that Olive and her did get to talk for twenty minutes or so on the phone, but did the two ever date after a phone call. One Sunday, Tin called Olive after he rang up her residence several times the day and night before (How could the house-hold helper, Vinnie--- well, Tin, and not Olive, knew her name--- fail to remind her señorita?). Olive wanted Tin to accompany him to Jimbel's birthday last August (Instead, he went with Melvin, Min and Jessa) in the Ayala-A residence among Jimbel's estates. Towards the end of their Sunday phone conversation (which lasted about as long Olive's chitty-chat with the Jimbel's warm friend from Saint Scholastica, Wendy), Tin was about to excuse herself as she had to go hunt in the bookstores for Volume 2 of Great Political Thinkers.
"May I go with you? I'm also looking for something."
"The Dawn of Western Philosophy"
"It would be alright by me, but I'm going with an aunt whose going to shop broad and wide for clothes and other accessories."
Olive (without Tin knowing outright) was not too fond of matrons. He wasn't at all like Min--- ever ogling at pretty moms and their developing pretty daughters inside supermarkets.
"Two of her daughters are also tagging along. You'd be the only guy. You'd look like her husband."
"Do you picture me as being that old?" More important than Olive's putting on this common conversation sentence was his all too typical efforts of making his voice sound cute and tickly.
Tin felt more of tapped than tickled. "No, it's that my aunt doesn't look that old. She's shorter than myself."
"Well, you're tall for a lady."
What came to Tin's mind was her taller boyfriend, dark-skinned and bald-headed. She hadn't yet told Olive about him, but then again, it was really not with him, but her Aunt Dang and cousins Fria and Ness that she was going out with that Sunday.
"It's her ladies' bags that give away her age , like the charol and the velvetty..."
"Well, why wouldn't I look like..."
"I need to go shortly," Tin pressed on.
"I have the book myself."
"Great Political Philosophers?"
"I think that's different."
"Well, what was it?"
"The paperback covered with a white backdrop and purple, green and blue trailblazed heads. Great Political Thinkers."
Great Political Thinkers. Volume 2. That's it.
"Edited by Michael Curtis?" Tin sure could have used Terminator 2's cleverness then and there.
"Wow! May I have it by Thursday? If it wouldn't inconvenience you."
"I can even deliver it to you in a while; where do you live?"
"It's alright. We can see each other in school."
"You live around Project 6. Don;t you?"
"Kring-Kring!" That was a sharp voice that got through to Olive, although factually, it carried a smaller fraction of decibels than the voice of Tin. It must have been the attack of the other voice's waveform.
"Aunt Dang! I beg your pardon, dear Aunt Dang, but my nickname is Tin." Tin whipped out this other tone of voice on her aunt. It, too, carried a cute timbre, as did the Tin tones Olive had been enjoying for some minutes now. Olive pondered briefly on what he himself should say in order to produce this new Tin tone himself, but...
"Sorry, girl. Tin, Let's go, dear." This second line did not reach Olive's ears.
"So may I also call you Kring-Kring! He-he."
"My, golly! If you'll call me that don't you ever call me again, ha?
"Just kidding, Olive. So I'll have it Thursday."
"Well, come to think of it, Monday and Thursday time schedule's just plotted out the same. I don't have anything etxra-curricular going on now. Meet me at 7."
"How about 8:30?"
"On Monday, we have only half a period. Professor de Jesus has a meeting at the ADB by 8:15 a.m."
"OK," Olive mumbled.
"Fine, see you. Bye! Tmwuq!" (Actually, I don't know how too onomatopoeically spell out the final sound that Tin made with her two lips and her phone speaker.
Aunt Dang had Tin's talking for the entire rest of the day. Her daughters were not themselves so chatty. They'd just smile when Tin would coddle them. Aunt Dang opened full fold her chatting with Tin without bringing up the phone call she had cut short. Instead, Aunt Dang talked of Europe and its shops and other establishments in a way she would never ever confide to a person such as myself (Your everdearest author, o reader). As such, I am at a handicap to recount such details as she could rattle of.
Tin had herself read so much about Europe (not of its literature per se, but of guidebooks with lots of pictures meant for USA-native tourists.). She liked the travel books as there was hardly any math. Math she was good at. Tin has had 1.5's and 1.75's in her Math Subjects.
"Wow, Auntie Dang. You're quite all dressed up."
"It's all because I want all the people to see how fit I am to be the aunt of such a young lovely lady as you."
Tin wondered if Olive could sometime pay her such a compliment. Then again, she remembered that she had a boyfriend. What was his name again? It was Tin who was at a loss again remembering her boyfriend's name. She always remembered that he was a Garcia, but what his first name? It was... the awkward one.
"So, are we going to MegaMall, Auntie?"
"Megamall's nice--- impressive even, but there are so many people there."
Tin wondered what next to say, but thought it too hard to put something together from previous statements. "How's Uncle Freddie?" she said, instead.
"You've read my letters."
"Yes, it's sad."
"Please don't say it that way, dearie. That makes it sound as if he's already..."
"Oh, I'm so sorry, Auntie.... Sorry. I didn't mean to get you...
"Once I help you get your VISA fixed, I'm sure that your presence there, in Manchester would cheer him up."
"Well, it's not as if I took up medicine, dear Auntie."
"But he used to be always so happy when you were around. And you remember him when he was well. I was always together with him, except in our offices, that is."
"Well, there's new mall. It's called Way2Go Mall Special Experience." WayToGo was printed on tall seriffed red letters, taller than they were wide. Special Experience was a cursive-lettered yellow-gold sub-title.
"That sounds so American," said Aunt Dang.
"I don't know the architecture of American malls, but Way2Go Mall is nice. They have a better fountain than that found in Greenhills."
"Well I don't have any coins to go throwing into some wishing Well or something. I'm shopping cash-less."
Aunt Dang felt for something inside her white hairy bag,
"Is that fur," auntie, said Tin, believing it wasn't. The strands seemed too long and velvety-soft, like they would go well on the body of a yet-to-be conceptualized stuff toy.
"Yes, dearie. It's not imitation. Why, anything?"
Aunt was sure much busier finding what she wanted inside her bag than looking for more to say then.
"Oh, well. I probably left it at home."
"What? Which thing?"
"Never mind. I miss walking around with him so much. That's why now that I'm walking with you I feel like I'm trying to be with him again. I mean we never walked just us three together (Your dear father and mother would join us, and your naughty younger brother..."
Elder brother, Auntie.
"Well, he was smaller."
"Waldwin's a big guy, now Antie."
"You should see him," was deliberately not her next line.
"Well, where is he?
"In Bulacan, Auntie."
"Why? Do we have relatives there?
"He's in rehab, Auntie."
(Pout, but not propped at her aunt.)
"Let's give my daughters some entertainment," said Aunt Dang, giving for the first time since she flew in six days ago from London (coming from Manchester) the smile which says Let's get the day started.
"Jennie, where would you like to go?"
A smile above, and a blank look below.
"What words does she know how to say?" asked Tin.
"She doesn't speak much, nor does Elline."
"They write well, though--- I mean letters, I mean not letters as in correspondence or letters epistolary, but you know alphabet letters, but not yet in cursive."
"I'd love to see sometime, said Tin. Folding her knees all the way, but keeping them off the ground, so as to be shorter than the two girls while talking to them."
Two working boys with their knapsacks looked at her as she did this, but no one payed attention to their looking. They did not stop at their walking while doing so. Afterwards, they even forgot her face.
"Would you like to show me anything, Jenny? Elline?" said Tin.
They didn't even show her their healthy teeth. The two girls carried a fixed tender expression. This tenderness, however, did not translate into a ready sweetness. Neither toddler resisted Tin's touches. No one did. Certainly not her org-mates in the Junior Marketing Association. She hadn't, however, been touching her brother Waldwin since he first touched beer (seven years ago, under the supervision of Uncle Brenner---- not Aunt Dang's husband, but a single guy. He had been a priest, before that a fraternity brother who had been group-tried but acquitted for hazing leading to death in Far Eastern University).
Was it her no longer touching Elder Brother Waldwin that caused him to find solace in the carresses of cocaine? Yes, cocaine, not marijuana nor shabu. Not poor man's cocaine. Cocaine, not circulated as the street cocaine of slums in the USA, but the same material given different circumstance here in the Philippines, passed first for free among the bratty children of ambassadors and other elitists (Oh, how one of our country's ex-leaders had fained hating that word.)
"Touch me, Christine!" Waldwin bawled now and then, especially during the later 1980's. She wouldn't let him. Her brother didn't force his arms upon her, but how he implored, never laughing.
She never asked him since his Beer Baptism to call him Tin. Their father never drank. Neither did Uncle Beron. Their father died in a plane crash off the waters of Cebu around a presidential campaign season. He was going to vote for his province-mate in his native city. Uncle Beron still needs (although isn't counting on) a miracle. Uncle Freddie calls every so often. Tin would get the phone before Waldwin would (even before he got confined in Bulacan).
How about Oliver? Then why did she... on the phone?
"Shall we leave them here?" said Aunt Dang.
"I want to go see Armani."
"Armani's closed, Auntie."
"I thought that I just read in Cosmo Manila last night a two-page spread Armani Ad.
"Armani Exchange, Auntie, not Emporio Armani."
"Oh. Where will we go?
"Let's think for a while."
"I like the colours of these balls," said Elline, to herself, but she hadn't yet been taught how to whisper.
"You do, honey?" said Mom Dang, going back to her brood for a while.
Yes, mommy. That's Mommy with an O the FilipinO way, not the British Mummy.
I want to go to the slide, Mom, said Jen
"Way over there?
The four females spent three hours in the kiddie play world
The next morning, Tin met Olive twenty minutes late. By then from Olive had worn off his intentions of hugging her upon sight. He was happy to see her, but not quite used to getting up so early in order to wait for a stretch of minutes.
Tin took Olive to the Tita Frances canteen. She got him a quesadilla, yes, a little cheese thing that tastes quite as good as a pizza, but costing far less.
"I'm sorry Olive, but I have to go to Manila, as in the capital Manila."
Oh, the City of Manila, run so well by Mayor Alfredo S. Lim, my close, personal friend.
Tin smiled a smile that was sure... real.
Olive kissed Tin's cheek at the shoulder of AS lobby leading to the walking strip fronting AS 101--- the strip that bordered the blooming water hyacinths and their rice-paddle shaped leaves. There was strong sunlight and there were ample people walking by (even groupmates Indian-squatting), but those among them who saw took it as an act of good habit. Tin had been too tired from last night to have kept her guard, not that Olive had himself had calculated this. Tin got quite surprised, but then again she remembered being quite surprised the night before all too herself in the French diner before her Aunt and beside her cousins as she recalled the sound she made on the phone when she bade Olive hasta la vista.
It was not so much his own kiss to her that Monday many months ago that Olive recalled, but what he believed to be the kiss that she gave him on the phone the day before that historical schoolday.
One ring and the phone got answered.
That's no helper at the other end of the line, thought Olive. There was quite an indicative tone quality, spontaneous, even before any words.
"Tin, this is Olive."
"Yes, I remember you." Same white noise issuing from her end of the line."
"Why are you crying?"
"How do you know that I'm crying?"
"I can hear"
Olive, I don't want to hang up on you. I just need..."
HOw may I help you..
Boo-hoo-hoo. (Again my lousy trasnliteration of what were genuine human tears on the other end of the phone.
I can't tell you. Please understand. You're a good guy.
"Tin put down the phone.
Awww, the stupid middle-class, thought Olive. They always need silence, or at least dialectiphobic wordlessness and all the stupid coughing that goes with it. I'll take care of Tin, although I'll have to give her some time. The best way I can give her some time for herself is by occupying myself with the party tonight.
Yes, Olive was going to party, and he was going to have a date, but the date wouldn't be for the party, but for a weekday soon following. Allie wanted to take him to the opening of the Russian movie festival.
At least, not having to pick anybody up for tonight's party, he the simple commuter would have all the time to pick a good parlour to have his hair done. He was not so pressed for time that he would have to put up with the Royale parlours which cost one to five hundred pesos more than what Baclaran or Tonsuya, Malabon could offer as a bargain hair cut (thirty pesos, for as much worthwhile minutes).
"This is the best party our sorry little grade school class has put up in the past couple of years. Mr. Jiggs Pendario, you really are a winner."
"Thanks, Olive. I'm glad to have you around here. Let me introduce you to more of my friends." (Definitely, it would be hard to mistake Mr. Pendario for a pa-coño (or b*s*-raking) UP student, having undertaken such a gesture.)
"This is Trissa. She's also from UP Diliman."
"Oh," said Trissa, "Is he from there, too, Jiggs? I must shake your hand. I haven't seen your face before. Why don't we get to see each other on campus?"
Amazing how it took the invitation of a private school college student to enjoy a subidivision house party wherein girls from his own public school were present.
"We must be from different buildings," said Olive.
"Well, maybe. I'm from BA, but I'm shifting out."
"I don't know yet," she said.
"Ha, UP!," someone butted in, "I don't see you why folks up put up with that school. Not only do they give lousy grades, but they muddle up the issuing forth of them."
"Don't listen to her," said Jiggs smiling as all throughout the evening, "Melbs is just a quitter. She did only three semesters in UP before shifting to some trimesteral school."
"I'm on the fast track now," said Melbs.
"Yeah,... still at second year standing," poked another guy, Benjop, holding a tall beer.
"You're not even a university!" said Jiggs, snapping here and there, not particular anymore about subject and predicate.
"How dare you say that!" said Melbs, but not really losing her good humour. It was her elder sister Clarianne who did graduate from UP, School of Economics, then UP Law even, but this elder sister would not stop whining about all her whoes to little Melbs about getting crummy grades for European Languages electives--- grades which she had the hardest of time even to manifest in her college transcript, even many months after they had been wrongfully missing from the Department of European Languages records.
"Crazy DEL teachers," Clarianne would tell Melbs, "They give the lousiest of teaching [Clarianne had been a student of Pablo K. Rotor.]; then at some point they take weeks of the sem dabbling around in Europe, not that they become any better after all that."
"Imagine, Bangbang," as Clarianne was wont to call little Melba, "For a 2.5, a 4 deemed passing and fully creditted 3 units, a 1.75 at one point at least and a 2.75, I had to reproduce my class cards one by one, one of which had somehow been thankfully preserved by my Sampaguita Residence Hall dorm-mate."
A girl sits alone in a sofa. Of course, the sofa in one of what would seem as three living rooms in the house (or a thee-ring circus arrangement Jiggs would boast to boys when they would haul in girls not a tenth as decent from as far-out holes as Parañaque and Quezon City) is so lavish and impressive, but of course successful in its intention of being ineffable. Anyway, how can a guy even remember its color, drunk he be, seeing the petite planting her little a*s upon it? The guy was Benjop, and he was going to find out the girl's name.
Normally, Benjo (a frequenter of David's Salon twice a week) would hesitate opening up to a girl leafing through a magazine, be it a co-customer leafing through Cosmo Philippines or Elle Paris, but now, more than being tipsy, that square invitation he formally got eighteen days ago for this party assured him that he could have any girl boxed into this albeit lawnful house.
"Washington Pangan is trying to put up another outlet of Homerus," announced Doachie to a pocket of five guys within the party venue garden.
"Around Timog? There are lots of good restaurants there," said Jimbel, "As for Homerus, I've never yet eaten there myself. I haven't even seen the place, although I think that I caught a small ad of theirs in a Playbill of Theta."
"I wouldn't put up a branch of Homerus in the Timog-Morato Area," said Doachie Honasan. "It's more like class C and D over there."
"Starbucks is doing well there," said Jimbel.
"Who cares?" whipped out Doachie.
"Starbucks Timog is my favourite Starbucks," said Bernard Bettina.
"Yeah, that's because you do get pick up those skanks spilling over from Decades, Padi's Point and the least unveiled of them all, MARLON'S!" said Clive, "All the way until f*ing Delta, you just get them and get them."
"Nay, even f*ing beyond a bit beyond Delta, because there's Cahoots," said Rolly. And what about the light at the end of tunnel," said Pando, only now getting down his first bottle of beer. "There are who*es in Project 8. Road 20 intersection. All the f*ing time."
"Never, a*hole, I f*ing live there," said Jimbel the Defender.
"Maybe, you're not they're type."
"I wouldn't say that. Pimps are always all over him. Jimbel is the only guy ever knew who got offered a who*e in friggin' Pasay Road. And that was OUTSIDE any of the bars. Towards TowerBooks!"
"Anyway, the people who work at PowerBooks are worse than hookers. They don't even know the best way of selling themselves."
"Don't say that about Paj."
"Paj quit TowerBooks way back in 1998. I had that in mind when I said what I said," concluded Oliver.
Doachie had to fetch a ride with Jimbel, not that the former was drunk. It was a matter of Doachie not being able to return such a favour ever so far up to this point of his adult life. Doachie, has been quite frowned upon his father, a bank executive who was born landed in Nueva Ecija, especially when the fil triste was caught at home putting on his dead mother's stockings in the master's bedroom. Mr. Honasan had just made a lightning visit at home eighteen minuted away from office to change the dress shirt that a pretty colleague (a mere teller actually) had spilled some flavoured crushed ice shake onto accidentally. He had no time that sick afternoon to sermon Doachie, as a client had an appointment to see him back in under forty minutes. Mr. Honasan has since ever deprived Doachie permission to drive any of the family cars.
"You can drink for all I care, but I won't let you drive."
He hasn't even taken to driving or fetching his own son.
"Can't you at least be bisexual?" his Dad would whip out sometimes, not really counting for a response in the affirmative.
"Doachie loves talking to women," says Kenz, "He just does not want to touch them."
"But they touch him," says Tom.
"Well, they don't at all love him for it, just their own vanity and inutility in doing so."
"What hospital will we take them to?"
"Relax," Min assured the batch-lower Ismael, "We had this all planned.
Miguel Taruc Memorial Hosptial Elvar showed up, seeming to be in a rush
"Hey, brod," he opened up now using the three-second handshake, "I need you to fix up these two boys of ours."
"Rumble?" said Dr. Mangalap, then himself puzzled finding himself uttering, "out here in the province?"The doctor thought a bit deeper, then surmised, Hell, maybe some bozos stared ugly at them in some videoke. The boys were brought it now not blindfolded, still conscious. They looked at the doctor as if they were not at all in control of their now docile selves. Just please
"Vicky will take care of them," said Dr. Mangalap.
"Quitters!" said Dr. Mangalap.
Don't you have any other new recruits. he said back to Elvar Yes That's not a lot, but it's better than having none like was the case 1991.
"Yeah, said Elvar, who actually wasn;t around UP then, but Dr. Mangahap had been telling him this story time and again during beerdrinking he sponsored in Camasalada. Where's Min? Dr. Mangahap asked Elvar There are three more, said Elvar as a way of salute.
Yet another Monday at Palma Hall.
Sir James Payam was walking, he its very building administrator, a duty which did not conflict with his teaching post at the Department of Philosophy. It was his duty to walk here everyday with a sharpness above that of the thousands of other people who did walk here, too. He was the chief of security, and yet he seemed to carry even more zeal than the security men he oversaw himself. Well, of course, he was paid a shade higher by the Philippine's marginal economy of subsidy--- not so much more; it would take the the money of alumnae of his college fraternity's counterpart sorority (the Delta Lambda Sigma) to subsidize his delivery of academic papers in a few US and European conferences.
His eyes now devoured Palma Hall, as if it were his unskippable three meals a day (He would sign off a bit past the 7 p.m.-ending classes. If there were a play by UP Theater Company, he might watch it once or twice, during which occassion he would sneak a final detail check with the guards, be it a bit past 10 p.m. already). Why was he so conscious of the building's impending renovation? The front steps facing the Parking Lot would have to be smashed, each remaining visible in its former position in the vertical hierarchical arrangement, but forbidden for walking. Anyone stepping on the soon to be smashed stepping rows would be an idiot, he thought. Indeed, no student disappointed him, come demolition time.
For the moment, he thought, What would look different come renovation time? he'd been musing these past couple of weeks.
Well, right before his eyes was now a bump away from the ordinary.
Sir James sensed these were frat boys.
"Hey boys!" hailed out Sir James.
"You wouldn't happen to have a rumble right now?" he then asked. Sir James himself had been a Sigma Rhoan, batch-mate of Antonio Luis Bernabe (current head of the Board of Investments), Percival Ragmay, M.D., Attorneys Gabriel Cada, Geoffrey Lillo and a few other respectable but not media-hassled administrative servants of the nation's Department of Justice.
"No, Sir," said Min, in a tone acknowledging the fact that this Sir James had been the Philosophy core-curriculum teacher who passed him with a 1.75 mark.
The Kappa Doble boys all laughed candidly, careful not to make their laughter sound too malicious.
Sir James threw them one more gentlemanly smile, before cordially waving goodbye. He couldn't stop himself from thinking, "Well, at least they didn't seem to be damn Alpha Phi Betans."
Ever since serving the post of Palma Hall building administrator with an energy level even the snide lots of bratty poor-or-well-off students of UP's later 1990's couldn't help but notice, Dr. Jaime Cayam succeeded in being unbiased in dealing with frat-related incidents. There were two rumbles he broke up, himself unarmed. The first was between Alpha Phi Beta and his own beloved frat--- well, their fourteenth ever counter, as tabulated in the UP Administration's Forum magazine. How this one professor's voice in the heart of the lobby could halt two sides with seven on and eight on the other bats or lead pipes each was a feat worthy of Moses, like the parting of the Red Sea. By the time he stepped in, one Alpha Phi Beta had already been clubbed in the head, bleeding right there, skull not fractured, however.
James has served his post for three years now.
"Let's not show up in Lorena Barros today," said Min.
Freddie Boy agreed.
Even the other Kappa Doble boys who heard followed suit.There was no Kappa Doble member in Lorena Barros hall for four or five days.
Six people. Less cigarettes. Two of these burning away themselves more than getting puffed. A little ash was strewn a bit outside the long-emptied ice cream can that was supposed to serve as their receptacle.
"There's nothing to do," said Charong.
"I saw Olive on TV," said Ferdie B.
"Oliver. Our Oliver.""
"So?" said Charong.
"He was a panel speaker in one session of Jessica Zafra's TV show."
"Wow! Olive," said Twen.
"Olive talked about the stupidity of writing fiction in the Philippines.
"I don't remember his exact words."
"But they were pretty much the same stuff he had been b*ing here in Lorena Bärros all about."
"Like, like... wait, I remember."
"The alienation of the general populace from the cliques of writers," said Ferdie, pointing his finger at the guy he beat at the memory game."
"We should compile a dictionary of his terminologies."
"Articulation without escape."
"Let's go to Sarah's and drink up a toast to Olive."
"He should be the one to treat us out sometime," said "Charong, smiling, putting on her sandals for their sallying forth together.
"This is a nifty mall, Jing-Jing."
"Just call me Jing. You're only making it longer and harder."
"Fine by me. It's just that I know this other person by the name of Jing."
"But she's from your other circle of friends, so there's no danger of conflict... or misunderstanding."
"Lawrence also knows Jing. Jing Bustillo."
"Whoever. And whatever. I'm not even the sort who strolls by your UP Campus.
"Well, why don't you? It's particularly lovely during our Chrtistmas Lantern Parade."
"But it's so far," said Jing.
"Actually, I like it better in Shangri-La," said Jing-Jing.
"Why? It's so expensive there. What do you buy there?" said Oliver, himself having failed to ever have spent more than P1,9XX.XX there on any single occasion.Nothing. It's just that the crowd there is far better," said Jing-Jing.
"I hope that you understand. I'm just making up for yesterday.
"The water was nice... and clean."
Don't expect Jing to articulate a particular locale's distinctive landscape. She was just born an ordinary barumbarong sari-sari store girl, and then she even got into LaSalle for a mini-education program. The college she had given four years to was Holy Trinity.
Now, the academic oval was crowned with Luis Beltran memorial benches. Appropriately these seats carried no armrests, so that a double-sized fellow (the likes of his Eminence, as the late journalist was known by his colleagues) could spill over to more than half of each two-seater (these, in turn, came in clusters of two's, facing opposite directions).
"If Lean, were alive, do you think he would be a reaffirmationist or a rejectionist?" Ferdie Baron asked Butch. Then soon enough , "A rejectionist, surely. He was a Trotskyist," answering his own question.
Olive, himself coming from the library, having ended up borrowing nothing, after having read hardly anything but lousy Philippine Anglophone newspapers at the basement, was so fortunate to have caught this snatch of dialogue. He walked naturally toward the two, backlit by the 4 p.m. sun.
"Hi, Oliver!" was Ferdinand's greeting.
Olive acknowledged with a flick of his right hand.
"Stick around with us."
"Lydie is getting married."
"A Lydie from Layag... would that be?"
"My, that would certainly take the Alejandro out of her--- I mean, her name," said Oliver.
"What's your name, Bob?" said Miguel. The unaddressed among those who heard him could somewhat dig up from their memories the allusion, some un-classic 1980's Hollywood movie or two, probably a Western.
A sneer from the addressee not at all meaning to bite the hairy-armed interrogator. Bob, is the nickname of a dude Christened (now an agnostic) as Wenceslao. Wenceslao Dominea Mijares is so typical a bespectacled dark-skinned long-haired individual work project-junkie type that an NBI sketch of him wouldn't do much for personal identification. Fortunately, Bob M. was a person far removed from the type thaat physically hurts other people.
"What's up, Bob?"
"Bob, I thought you were going to the States!" said Miana Juaco, a short, white, chubby girl with short hair and two suicide attempts. She had jumped off her aunt's Royale Maxima Condominium ledge, but this fanciful girl soon grabbed for its floor, by shooting her arms into the ample gap right beneath the mini-porch's outside cement and stone panel. It was miraculously easier for her arms to get in than out of the slot (as if they were jumbo twins of Timoteo D. McCall's historical mini-p*nis, which the owner willingly inserted into the mouth of an one-liter capacity emptied cola glass bottle, unable to draw it out afterwards when his turned erect; Of course, the bottle had to be broken--- at least the expected risk damage did not turn out as grand as had been feared. "It's Magic, like Copperfield!" said Min who had been present enough to guffaw at the incident, without exercising much to have prevented it to begin with. "I'm only an activist," said Min, "not necessarily a pro-activist." Min then went blatantly imagining other ways of severing organ and vessel with more spectatular outcomes.).
To the relief of Miana's phone-alerted mom (but not aunt Melby), the girl's arms did not have to be broken in order to pull the girl out. She screamed out what is commonly known as being more proper for those thrown outside their own wishes into predicaments. Uncle Calvin rappelled from the chest-level railings of a similar parallel ledge higher up in the building. The unit owner of 1426, Merina Tapales, no acquaintances of his, prior to the incident, had been most graciously present by the time he knocked on her door. He even called his fraternity brother whom he eventually paid to set up a gondola to facilitate their extraction of the leg-bound, arm-clamped girl.
"Thanks, Olive," said Bob.
"Why did you give it to Bob? Didn't we just buy that at the Power Plant?"
"Bob sure can put it into good use."
It's Hacker, said Third
"I'm no hacker," said Bob.
You should go find work, Bob
"Max, this is Ping. Do we have it all fixed?"
"Same as it ever was."
"Cover to cover?"
"Come on chap... the best way is to play both sides, or at least seem to. You know, Machia..."
"That's why we threw in Winnie on the other side."
"Oh, did you give her money?"
"Huh? That's like pelting a sachet of sugar to the cane field. Anyway, I promise you, pal," said Max, with quite much the same delivery he had used way back with his college paper, "we'll quote this Gloria gal for every damn promise she makes, and we'll burn her. There'll always be incidents, isolated as they me at the beginning. We'll blow them up, so as to blow her up."
"We'll give Gloria hell," said Max Solliven.
"I'm at the Imperial restaurant. That means, you know, you're invited.
"It's not like I have to meet you up to help you out, chum. I'm like... the invisible hand."
"Another French philosopher of yours?"
"English actually. Adam Smith."
"No, he was already writing in English.
"Just like you. You know you have a great mind."
"Yeah, and I don't mind that."
"I can always count on you."
"I'm sending people over there for you. A deployment. You'll look good."
"How much have we collected so far?" said Twen, smoking a local student's cigarette worth a table top of their wares for the moment.
"A lot, I'd have to say," said Buff, "not that we'd make a lot out of it."
"Stacks and stacks--- all for an envelope-fill of small bills," said Shalom.
"Well, what are we supposed to do? Sell drugs?" said Buff, not at all threatened by any possibility of a retort from Shalom.
Domingo Baile giggled.
"Yeah, we all know that you use, Inggo. Why don't you cut it out, so that you can actually make it into the third grade? You're already fourteen years old. None of us here ever got that set back with our education, not even with our own family problems."
"I myself, Inggo, have been a stow-away. I still am," said Twen. Twen really was one. No, she was not adopted by a sorority, or passed from one sis to another's house, not even Delta Kappa sorority. Samasa was the one who adopted her. She was a conspicuous member of Samasa individuals--- individuals who joined Samasa.
Inggo cast down one of his predictable expressions. He had been living in Lorena Barros even before Layag had been created. He did not, however, precede Samasa, which took him in around the time that President Ramos was sworn into the Palace.
Around now, Inggo was not much for teeth anymore, not that he had much use for them.
Thursday Morning class. The Sociology of Religion. The teacher, Prof. Dazzle Mirañia (mistaken for a doctorate, but actually an MA candidate from decades past who took to the mountains during Marcos Law, eventually fled like a Boots Anson-Roa and later returned from the US after having several human rights articles published there, where she thenabouts ended up qualified for the American Bar; of late, she's been appointed by the Honourable President of the University, some time soon after he met her talking with the Stanford-based philosopher he himself had laboured to arrange for a most successful conference right within the grounds of broad-skied Diliman.), is just waiting for the classroom to get filled. She is armed with a stick carrying two stubs of short-specied banana all sugared brown and wrapped golden-fried. This she rests on a rough diamond of tissue upon the bare, unvarnished worn-down wooden table neither as old nor as decent-looking as herself: a tall and hardly-wrinkled woman rumoured to be already sixty. Jimbel was the first student to have seated in one of the chairs designed by the nefarious International Monetary Fund-World Bank Tandem.
"Let's eat!" the teacher had bade him one-on-one holding up the stick she had bought about a hundred yards away down by the steps rounded by perhaps an equally old but definitely more wrinkled lady.
"Thanks, Ma'am, but I'm finished already, huma na," said Jimbel.Sally Joselita Maria Carillone walks in. She's wearing shorts. Sally never wears skirts, Jimbel has been observing, a personal insight he never got around to sharing. as have been other guys, even extramural passers-by. She is the daughter of Attorney Jose Mario Bellofuga Carillone. She did her high school at the better of Metro Manila's two Assumption schools: Assumption San Lorenzo.
It was Sally who would, a few months later, serve as his inspiration when he wrote his third-prize-clincher "ASL," a short-story puncuated. When . In the same year that Jimbel won his first and only Palangga award, Min won for the Tagalog-Filipino novel category.
Sally knew the decrees of the Vatican That was the best garden-fresh recitation of wisdom that Jimbel ever heard in a classroom
Instead of always talking to the teacher
after class, why not go
talk with me?... babe
"Mr. Gallos, you're a bit early," said Prof. Mirañia, in standard UP Diliman idiom, had she been aware of it.
"Yes, Ma'am," said Min, obeying with a nod.
(The first laughter arose from the still thinly-filled third floor classroom. The kids had gotten their cue to warmly acknowledge the habitual situation.)
Mr. Gallos, have you not done finishing your brief reflection paper yet on Max Weber?
I have, Ma'am, said Min, drawing such article from his bag, then handing it in, before seating down.
My goodness this paper is six days late, and... why is it so long? Why are you giving me [She gets to flick through eight sheets, but notices that the last two just document references.] six when I just asked for three or four--- at most. You could have given me just the three at an earlier time, and you would have beaten the deadline!
No papers accepted late was the memory that rung in Min's mind.
"Ma'am, I had only written little more than one page by Friday, so I didn't slip my work yet under your door then."
DIdn;t you have more than that by at least Monday?
Ma'am I had almost three pages by then but I had'nt yet typed them up. It was only last night [read: this early morning] that I got to finish my typing at Jimnbel's computer."
Several kids threw an approving look at Jimbel. If only Sally was one of them, Jimbel had his fingers closed. He didn't get to check, however, not wanting to turn his head to the extent that other had turned theirs for him.
"OK. It's not everybody's fault that they're not so middle-class as to have their own laptops, Government should subsidize computers for students anyway, but couldn't you just have paid twenty pesos to rent or haved typed your paper over at the Shopping Center?"
The teacher herself wasn't so hot about the Shopping Center herself, not with its rest rooms smelling more imperfect than the tolerated malodeur of the underguarded Boston subway system.
"Ma'am, i havent carried more than the 32 pesos that I had left by Thursday. My allowance..."
"OK. no more sob stories. Anyway, Min, you're certainly no Diosdado Macapagal. Your two earlier papers have been only so-so, even if our glorious library has all the required resources for the given topics and mnore, for you and other less-privileged UP students to go borrow for free. Just do your work. Do your best, and—"
The class but in, like a chorus, but Sally's gleaming face seemed to lead them all.
The teacher ordered the boy to finish sitting down.
"Ma'am, I still belive Erap can be a good president to us," said Sally. Although there are several things he needs to improve in his government, He needs us. He can't do it all alone!"
Jimbel walked out of the classroom, so fast that Min had not even begun to catch up with him, although the latter (clamped by the IMF-WB-designed chair) had wanted so badly to borrow fifty pesos from him then and there.
"Never f*ing read the Philippine Star," said Miraflor.
"But the art columns are so cute!" mused Jed.
"The columns or their author?" said Artus.
"The columnist is no artist but a work of art herself," said Artus.
"Satur Ocampo was wrong to grant an interview to the Philippine Star."
"When was that?"
"Does it f*ing matter when? Eve bit the apple. To hell, if it was..."
"She didn't," said Artus, while the others were still thinking, "Huh?"
"Well, she DID, and it sure don't d*n matter if it was 5000 or 6000 B.C."
"What's the connection?"
Dell, Min and Twen are playing cards. Twen has made a house of three, just in time to avoid getting burned early in the current round.
"Face it. Quality-colour print production has served the Philippine haute bourgeois English-language broadsheets more well than it has USA Today."
Several months later the members of Layag will have to admit...
"Well, the Manila Bulletin sure has done well to swing over to the new age of color-print broadsheet newspapers."
"Swinging over... that's what the Manila Balimbing has sure done well keeping at."
True to journalism?
Jimbel held his guitar. It was a normal nylon string guitar, as decent as a number of Diliman-Loyola students were known to bring into their organization hang-outs. To be precise, it was of the thirteen thousand peso category rather than the seven hundred peso kind. Min appreciated the fact that he did not have to bend the strings when pressing them, not so much for a flavourful tremolo, but merely to make up for the imperfect frets that many of the cheaper Cebu-made guitars carry.
Jimbel began, mostly in Tagalog Filipino:
I am a farmer./I'm a native of Pampanga./I belong to the Aguman ding Talapagobra.
He got right into the lyrics with his initial plucking of US-style Classic white boy Rock cords.
Smiles and a sizzle of giggles followed.
"It's Kaprina's birthday tomorrow," said Jed.
Aldwin snickered hearing Jed tell Olive that. There would have been malice if his own lips did the job.
"We're all going to her house tomorrow," said Dell, having an open mind about inviting Olive after keeping him posted with that announcement.
Tin and no other Christine would be the one to call for the night. Heck, even if he couldn't get to take her out. Talking to her would be something. Olive started dialing her number, but kept off the last digit until he spotted it on his wallet-packed phone directory, which folded in and out, like an accordion's phallic body. He caught in his eye the digit he expected, but he was so eager by the fact that he had recorded in ink some eleven months ago the phone number he believed would end all other phone numbers. By the time he confirmed his memory of the final digit, the phone rang loud so as to alert of an impending temporary disconnection due to the threat of overheating it--- the phone unit--- as it had been hanging off the hook without talk going on. Olive gave the phone his own fingers on the cartillage coloured buttons.
"Tin's dead," said a woman, who may have been Christine's mom (Mrs. Bugania, that is). That would be the first time she ever picked up the phone. That had been the maid's job. Had the maid died as well? Had there been a massacre? Such were the thoughts befitting Olive on the very eve of Kaprina's Day.
"Come here," said the voice, crying, "You're Olive, right? Mister Oliver Mapungay?"
"Yeah... How do I get there to Project 7?"
Would she not have died had she been sent to the rehab as her brother? Her brother was very much mentioned in the house, but he was expressly not to be invited, as the talk on Waldwin went about. He was still alive.
Olive looked around for the maid who had been the habitual phone-answerer prior to this dreadful day.
"Where's the maid?" said Olive, with the same authoritativeness that Jimbel would say "Where's the showroom?" in any new beerhouse to be conquered by that young grand daddy of gimmicks.
He was met with looks culled from Dick Tracy and other detective shows and movies.
"We can't find her," said Mrs. Bugania.
Olive left the house without shedding a tear. His shirt was wet with two women's tears.
The funny thing about Kaprina's birthday (something completely unnoticed by all the Layag members there at hand) was that for all the celebrant's historicable sluttedness, no actual sex or even torrid kissing took place in it. The Semilla house was quite small.
No one got quite so lusty as to have craved to f* the celebrant then and there. They almost all had at some point(s) in their college lifes. Those that didn't go all the way, at least had their privates partied on by her. That day, however, June 2, 2001, Kaprina seemed to have been deemed as sexually untouchable as a woman visitted upon by her menstrual period.
When Kaprina blew the candles on her cake, no one even thought of the pun "blow" as David Letterman had used in his Paula Jones meat loaf joke, or Kim Carnes had sung in her "Betty Davis' Eyes".
Only Aldwin kissed Kaprina's cheek after her blowing the chiffon cake. She started serving them all, but in a little while Dell helped her out.
The cake was great, albeit that it was only bought out of a bakeshop that every single Filipino knows. A little was left, and it went to the fridge.
There was dancing, but only one couple at a time. Almost forty people crowded into the house. It was one of those unheard-of days when Kaprina had guest but only one person at a time in the bathroom.
Kaprina swayed herself for dancing in time. Her good timing in dance rubbed off on the several partners she took one by one.
Twen, one of the two or three people who had never been to Kaprina's bed, was always smiling and laughing along, but she didn't think much talking up herself, having endlessly anticipated the drinking alcohol that had been brought in early but never got opened within that night, or ever in that venue for that matter.
No one asked that they go out of the house when the cake was done, so that they could maybe go drink somewhere trendy or bustling that Saturday.
Wesley was now in med school. He did not get accepted into the UP School of Medicine, but has been doing fine in UERM.
Incidentally, Jiggs got into UP Med, not that Wesley knew Jiggs. Min knew both of them, and about both their med school admission stati, but Min made it a point not to bring up to Wes about knowing of anyone who got into UP Med that fateful year of 1998.
Daniela Bugania drove Olive in her Japanese car. At first, she gave him all of the back seat, and squeezed Elline and Jen to the front passenger seat, but the girls found it too tight, especially since the MMDA-mandated seatbelt had to be strapped over them. They sure look liked Siamese twins, being in a single bind, and Dang did not at all have fond memories of Siamese twins in the medicine and nursing textbooks she had read as a college student.
Dang enjoyed having Olive up front. She found her daughters more talkative and lively when they sat at the back. They would always ask Olive polite, albeit unadult questions, such as "Have you ever wanted to be an astronaut?"
They seemed so fascinated with this man whom they could very cleary see (but only because he kept twisting his neck to face them). They never mistook him for their dad, not that they knew their own Daddy Beron too well (especially not as he was during his prime).
When going out with Daniela (and her two daughters), Olive made a habit of wearing a plaid or checkered short sleeve polo tucked into a pair of light-coloured slacks.
"I'm thinking if I should take you to England," Dang said.
"You're taking everyone?" said Olive.
"For something I had intended for dear Christine..." said Dang.
"Let's have a web site!" said Fernando, although he knew that he was saying this only after a dozen of other members had brought this matter up outside formal meetings such as this (the twenty-fourth general assembly, not that any among themselves had kept count as did Heaven and its clerks).
Charong agreed, expectedly, not that she was one among the several who initiated the preliminary deliberations on the matter.
"So that we have lots of visitors to begin with, let's all sign into our own site ourselves!" said Min.
Almost half would actually do so three months later. Everybody was now cackling.
Olive hadn't been around that meeting but Min briefed him the following day.
"It seems that I've been appointed as head of the upcoming website, Layag.com perhaps," began Min.
"I want to help you out," said Olive.
"That's great. I'll call you up sometime."
"Do you have my number?"
It's on our members directory, right?
See you then, pard'ner!
A few days later, not even the first elements were encoded off-line.
Ferdie ran into Min along the main walk of the Shopping Center.
"Nothing doing," said Min.
Wanna work on it some time? Min suggested
I have class, said Ferdie, who later hurried past the fumy tandem of urinal quarters that the Shopping Center had.
Min pulled over to one of the two shops already offering Internet.
He opened up Microsoft Word, bought a diskette
"Why didn't you tell her that we already started working on it?"
Well, there's nothing yet on really
Five days from the Ferdie-Min encounter before the first encoding, Aldwin and Min had already produced ten pages of "content." All that was in were links "to better sites."
"What happened to our site? Did it not actually come into being?"
The two responsible men looked at each other.
There was this bl*ck bitch by the name of Noreen from UP Quill who rented for use her crummy black and gray computerized picture scanner.
"This early, we already have an actual friendly alien life form visit our screwball site."
"What did the visitor have for comments?" Ched asked.
The visitor commented, "I like your site."
"A most interesting comment," went Dell.
There was more, which Aldwin quote and read out of the print-out Min had shewn him just a few minutes ago, "I would like to, if you wouldn't mind, ask you nice people who that cute girl is wearing the spaghetti strap on your splash page, the second person from the right beside..."
Aldwin striked out the word "cripple" from the comments' actual wording.
"Who could that be?" Dell said, wondering as the others would be.
"Twen never wears spaghetti straps," said Ched.
"Which picture was the one you posted, Aldwin?"
"I was the one who posted the pics," said Min.
"Maybe it was part of the shots we took with my camera earlier this month," noted Dell. Two weeks ago, he had handed P200 to his fraternity brother Min for the purpose of web-publishing pictures for Layag on the one hand and pictures for their frat on the other. Min picked, all in all, the best eight of twenty-seven shots. Dell hadn't bother lending Min the pictures which featured merely Jabria family members.
Min smiled and turned around, moving for his knapsack, thinking now a great time to hand back the originals.
"It was Kaprina," Aldwin told the group.
"My goodness," said Elvar, "We've been already quite through a lot, though not being fraternity brothers."
"Thanks for bailing us, pal," said Dobi."Elvar," said Elbar Yes Elvar Well, you deserve to be bailed out. That was real courage you had throwing that punch at the Alpha Phi Omegans' very head The other guy spoke. I didn;t know how we would hold up if no one like you came to help
"Well, you would have," said Elvar, "When Min pointed you out to me, I caught you picking up that rock, and--- it goes to show what a resourceful man you really are!:
The Kappa Doble brods laugh.
"Let's just let them in!" said Min. Freddy seconded the motion Heck, there's no more hazing nowadays (true it was when Elvar spoke in 1997, but the post-millenium would sure change that, but not for Kappa Doble, who would maintain from thereon the grand path of non-haizng recruitment
"Gosh! we've sure gypped that Gloria gal," said Marixi Prieto. "She actually now believes that we're her friend and ally,"
"Waiter! Waiter! Come over here."The gals all laughed. They were not as good in nutrituous humour, however, as had been American TV's Golden Girls. Panday versus pandak the long and the short of it
"I hereby proclaim you full-fledged fraternity brothers of Kappa Doble Youth Mobilization Body," announced Elvar.The two boys smiled. When they were given the floor to speak, they weren't shy.
Sally Jo Carillone. Sally Jo was pretty, but if you focused on her face, you'd really see a teenage copy of Al Pacino. She was celebrating her debut this summer, April for that matter.
"We better start screening our guest book, said Fernando.
"How about scrapping our message boards?" said Aldwin.
That's too much, and it's all Olive's fault. If only he...
"Somebody talk to Olive," said Fernando.
Olive Mabutu, asked Gabriel.
"What are you doing here?" Gabe asked Olive.
"Aren't you surfing the web?" Gabe threw the leading question, although he wouldn't grow up into being the lawyer that Fernando Carubio and several other Layagers would come to be (Ched rather than Fernando Carubio would be Layag's first and only bar topnotcher ever less than a decade later).
"No," said Olive, turning his head away from the monitor to look at Gabe, who smiled the sort of smile he should have learned to .
"Come on. Let's go to some place wholesome, man!"
Give me a chance just this once.
But you've already been there before, mac, even without me. I mean also go to places like that, but on weekday nights, mac. Jimbel parked his Honda Civic. He and Min stepped out to finish their bacon-wrapped hot dogs. They stepped away from their service vehicle, and walked some three vehicles down towards the entrance. No bringing of food and drinks from outsideThe moon crescent was a drop of milk that didn't quite spread out Would you want to hit that man. Well, money can't buy us everything said Min
"See you again my friend in NEW Wild Island." Jimbel bade his pardner.May be the wary of you, amigo dear. And nope, the two kids from the University fraternity did not catch up with them that night.
"How's the chapter going?"
"We're really going to oust that Ping Lacson," said Min.
"I'm right behind you," said Olive swinging his lower legs as if he were a schoolgirl by the bay.
"Well, here you go, comrade," said Min, issuing some pink flyers to Olive. These even came all the way from Gabriela..
"How's campus life?" asked Min, after his handing out.
"It used to be so that the longer I stayed in this school, the more I enjoyed it," said Olive, "especially with the babes of 1997, from AIESEC. I even yearned for the clearing of the pimples of those darn Jennifers. Ngem ita, sabalin ti biag, gayyem. I don't think that I'm going for that Ph.D. Not here in UP. Let Bomeng have it. He'll even beat a couple of notable DSCTA'ers to it."
"Are you finishing your master's degree in Philosophy?"
"Sociology. So be it, but the people in our department are sure more Randy-cal than radical."
"'Intellectualization' has been merely grammaticized. Nothing's really going on. It's all articulation without escape. Same feeling I had when I took Soc. Sci. I, with the Cuchingco chink. I must leave the country."
"Fine, be like UPLB's Tulisanes. Go to the US," said Min, tapping on his huge black belly wrapped in a drab surplus shirt.
"I'm going to Australia," said Olive.
"Wow. You'll be a big-time academic going down there... The World's International Students are drooling to get grants in the schools there," said Min, sounding like a college jock of American football.
"Well, Patricia Melendrez Cruz came from ANU."
Min, fishing to be verified, spelled out the school's name in an inquiring manner to his friend.
"Have you already applied there?"
"Good luck, pardner." Shoulder rest.
Later on the two boys singing songs Philippine and American known to millions of Filipinos and millions more of people abroad.
Olive would mostly pick up from Min began, but when dead air struck now and then, Olive would tug the repertoire back, singings songs from years gone old, top hits which did not prove to last as classics.
Retro, said Min, and that was the word for it all throughout the College of Mass Communication, but Olive's back was more thorough. Retro sure neither denoted nor connoted the Tagalog song, "Oh, How I Wish I Had Two Hearts."
From USA material, Olive recalled The Never Ending Story, which Min recalled as the Spanish cartoon La Historia Interminable when he caught a glimpse of cable TV in Bacolod, as he had conducted a classroom-credited brief survey of the RPA.
Kaprina gets married.
"Are you sure he's the right one?" Mrs. Josephine Eismann Semilla asked her daughter. Mrs. Semilla had flown in all the way from Ithaca, New York. It was her first time back in the Philippines since the dictatorial Marcial Marcocracy. Even Behn Cervantes had well done unexpectedly come back and stage the fondly-attended Lapu-Lapu and then the Stella Cañete-bombshell-starrer "Hatfull of Rain" months before Josephine "Ka Betty" Semilla's unheralded return.
A couple of the ex-comrades who had attended Josie's induction as Ka Betty had long been unduly executed by Philippine Constabulary elements whose chain of command may be rooted down to Panfilo Lacson-Gringo Honasan-Masigasig in one strain and Fidel Ramos on the other. Jacob "Ka Rolly" Hermosa is still categorized as "missing", although I can hardly imagine a place in the planet for him to be stashed away in for more than a score and five years and fed measley meals by right-wing fascist nether-implementational elements. One comrade now based in Tarlac somehow got wind of Ka Betty's return and was quite ecstatic upon receiving the news. He was too busy, however, a farmer to go out and stalk her in the smaller but far more convoluted land known as Metro Manila. He cried for joy when he was told through four of more channels of her touching soil once more in our Mother Country. He well knew she was alive, escaped back to the United States (which was actually her mother country) even before the 1980's began. It was happiness for him far greater than the mere consolation of religiously-attended but unphenomenal annual memorials for the activist lives snatched and/or missing. This comrade would soon win a barangay chairman seat, which he found quite manageable a victory considering that the middle-and-upper-class of his mixed-demography territory did not vote against his hundreds-strong grassroots townsfellow following.
Actually, it wasn't a matter of one family marrying into the other. It was a matter of one girl marrying one boy. Mrs. Josie Semilla never knew of Kaprina's official fiancee until late into the engagement.
"Civil rites would do," said Kap.
"But no... Your Aunt could arrange for us to use the barangay basketball court. There will be rings again in the court," she quipped. The open-air basketball court at Vargas Point, cement well intact (rains pouring in from its upline slope-supplied Eastern sideline would simply spill down the Western outskirt towards the foot of the hill-slope.), had lost its rings nsometime during martial law. Not even Franz Pumaren's winning at first as Kagawad in the area had done good for the neglected court. The Back-to-back LaSalle Champion coach Pumaren living at the heart of Loyola-Dilimandia would lose in his second running for Kagawad. Actually, a couple of years after Kaprina's wedding, Hon. Feliciano Belmonte would install rings with net on both sides of the basketball court with his signature initials SB. Needless to say, Belmonte's public-serving project cost far less than a wedding, even what would come to be the modest Semilla-Macallo nuptial.
Mrs. Josephine Semilla embraced her daughter, who was wearing ever as usual the purple blouse she had handed down to her.
Kaprina had her visitors. Hers outnumbered those of the groom. The groom's parents and grandparents were reminiscingly given to cupping each other
Aunt Baby Callon, Barangay Chairperson, tried to get Father Roberto Reyes to preside, but that priest was out protesting against the Mathay-Erap tandem of GRO-sugarring agents. In lieu of the man was the family friend priest of the Callons of Tarlac, Father Michael Osorio.
Father Osorio did a good job. The natives of Pook Palaris who heard him speak wished that he could do a homily now and then at the University Catholic chapel.
"You have so many friends," the groom told the bride.
"But you know them all, right--- or at least most of them," Kap told her sweety Mando.
"I do, honey," he said, "I do," kissing her lips--- a tasteful play of words.
Kap's brother Alvin took a shot of the couple with almost a dozen Layag members at the
Thank heavens there was neither a virginity check nor dervirginizing rituals, as has been known of other civilizations.
"The Inquirer's now siding with Lacson, said Ched.
"Damn elitist haute bourgeoises." said Aldwin a*s.
"Poor Tiglao. He's just going to Japan," said Twen.
Noone smoked a cigarette in the HQ that Wednesday.
Min's novel got published by the Philippine Normal University Press, the first in a series that the PNU publishing board (of which Dr. Ellen Culang had been a member for six years) would entitle Lakbay Kapuwa. Min's novel itself was entitled Lason (Tagalog for poison). The book was printed on newsprint. The type of the body text was deliberately set to 14 pt. The text was peppered with illustrations prepared and layed-out by a PNU student, Marvin Cuevas, who was not a Fine Arts student, but taking up Business Administration. Min invited several people to the launch. More came than those he had personally approached for his big event. The Philippine National University teachers got good machinery in getting their students to attend, although (except for Dr. Ellen Culang) none of them knew who Herminio Sotero Gatella was. At least, a lot of these industrious teachers got to sample the first couple of chapters or so of Min's eighteen-chaptered Tagalog-language novel.
"Why should our school publish a work not produced by one of our alumni?" was the point brought up by Mrs. Arlene Monted.
It's a good book.
"Where did you get to know the author?" asked Mrs. Monted.
That's beside the point
I have not
Fine, fine, ladies. Let's hear out Mrs. Chemang. I think she has something to say.
At first I thought that the book was humorless, and a scaled-down revival of early twentieth-century Tagalog novels
"Marvin's drawings could hold their own, even without an accompanying text," Mrs. Monted contended.
"Yes. In an exhibit, which I hope you could organize for him sometime," said Dr. Oranto.
"It is a simple text with no magic in it. It does not seem so historical a novel, but it seems fit reading for our students."
"A contemporary work?"
Jimbel cut his 2:30-4 p.m. English class just to accompany Min to the latter's launch. A sacrifice he made to make up for the fact that he could not drive them over to the venue, as his car was undergoing repairs, not that it was really broken down, he just went for some minor upgrades. There were three of them on the bus, including Twen. Twen was so small that the three of them crowding into a single three-seater bench inside an otherwise uncrowded bus was quite a bearable thing.
"I'm so proud of you," Twen pinched Min's cheeks until his teeth showed like kind of the smile she easily put on her own face. At that time she was still Ched's girlfriend, but I admit that she was no classic trophy that would get a boyfriend all steamed up in anger should affections fall from her hands on another guy's person (or bagi or ka-tao-an, to use terms which Olive loved to circulate in his Sociological discussion papers).
Two hawkers went up the bus.
"Rice crackers are great," said Jimbel.
This is nothing, boys. Wait till we get to the venue. Dr. Oranto, my principal sponsor, got this real nifty caterer, Elma Ayson-Soco, for the buffet table.More exciting than your novel? In the National Museum? We planned to, but did not push through. Olive shaved his head in a barber shop in the United Nations Avenue area.
Don't put that in. That's dessicant.
"I know... I'll go poison Kaprina with this dessicant," Olive told Min.
The food servers were hired to symbolically wear gas masks. It was all Marvin the illustrator's idea, seconded by some of his grass-happy friends who themselves were the Fine Arts Majors, and fellow founders of the PNU Comic Society.Boss, let me try one of those. A cup, sir? asked the beverage server. No, not one more. I've tried your melon juice already. Oliver himself put on a gas mask. Olive... What are you doing with that dessicant, said Sir James.
Sir, How could you identify me with this mask.Your shirt.
Lots of people, said Min, meaning especially us Filipinos, wear this brand of shirt. said But the unequal bands Oliver's shirt carried a nipple logo known to many Filipinos. Its three-color scheme of horizontal bands was not a common design, however. The shoulder and belly areas carried green. In between, were unevenly-spaced striped of red and brown on a white backdrop.
"Lason is a good novel. I myself am no expert in literature, but I have never read anything before like it, and... I like it."
The students appplauded.
"Sir, what year did you graduate from PNU?"
"I'm sorry. dear child, but I haven't had the honour of as yet studying in your good school," said Min.
"It so turns out that sir isn't a graduate from our PNU," a certain Maribel told her two friends leaving the post of the day's celebrity.
"For those of you who can't buy the book, or at least for the moment, be glad that we have already three copies of it in circulation right in our very own school library," said Dr. Oranto.
"This food is great stuff," said Jimbel. Min smiled, his eyes moistening.
"Tofu and Beef," Jimbel remarked, looking at the plate he had helped himself to.
Why, what a lousy newspaper?
Why so, dear chap.
There's nothing about our party last night.
I;m glad that exam is done and over with./
Girls come in noodle straps.
DOn't bother. I still have some money here said Min
Lots of chicks in the Roast Chicken restaurant in Plains Royale.
What are you having, asked Jimbel.
"I think I'll go have baby mid-ribs said Min
I ll just have the chicken,. I hope they leave it undressed.
"How about spring chicken in spaghetti?
"I think that value meal goes at sixty-nine." said Jimbel.
Jimbel felt just like grabbing her a*s as she bent from her waist above down to the counter. What would be the penalty? He and the security would have to brawl as the latter would try to get him out. But the worse part was that Min would get implicated, Min the one who was treating him out now.
Did you just come from the Ateneo versus LaSalle game? asked Jimbel
The sun shone corn-gold on one of many a weekday morning on Plains Royale. Actually, Phoebus came from Binangonan, where she was more intent upon painting-cast Angono, but The Plains Royale were all too ready to appropriate Her glory for their own profit.
A bust has been erected some two weeks gone byon the Abadia Verde campus for Aurelius Buencamino, an Ilocano writer and teacher who spent a good five years serving supposedly as what others would conceive as fertilizer for this Green Abbey's sterile soil.
Aurelius started serving Green Abbey on what turned out to be the last couple of years that male students were allowed in the purportedly Catholic school.
These crazy nuns from Abadia Verde, who've been worried all sweating for decades on end since President Garcia or whoever Lakan siya about how to keep putting off discussing sex with their classroom's brainwashees did not even take three months since media initiative exposure come 1994 in welcoming the classroom discussions on sexual harassment--- especially when it came to discussing prevention.
"Always bank on the side which isn't talô," said Madre Miriam, "Sooner speak to a smelly, pestering street kid with dog-brown hair than to a fragrant young man all fresh out of the shower or salon, especially if he's from LASALLE!!!"
The classroom of tidy clean air-brained students giggled readily. Then one said, "What if he's from UP?"
"Ah.. UP. Don't worry about them. UP types are torpid stiff."
More classroom laughter, a couple of mouths even breaking any uniformity in the choral response.
"More than 86% of UP males are even homosexuals," seconded Madre Gloria.
Loudest laughter in the afternoon. The Madre Gloria's intelligent statement would be echoed in the canteen and all throughout the other booze-less eateries Abadia Verde students went in clusters of two to nine or more for lunch (two hours, according to Universidad de la Abadia Verde regulations for their college, high schoolers got an hour and a half, grade-schoolers only forty-five minutes).
It take two crazy nuns together touring each of the classrooms of Abadia Verde on a particular Thursday
Text messages say that
We'll see later in TV.
Blue and Yellow.
"I can beat Gloria," said Angara.
"Pimentel is a great mascot for PDP-Laban," said Angara.
Jojo Binay laughed.
"Oh, really?" said a voice from above, which Angara never quite paid attention to.
There's a phone call.
Is it true, Max
"They say that communists killed Ping Lacson."
"Can't you make it appear that Lacson was killed by Abu Sayyaf rebels?"
"No can do, Ed," said Max, "Lacson was on his way to Cagayan."
"Cagayan Valley. Yes, I know."
"Get a commentary from Gloria's Press Secretary," said Angara, commandingly.
"What are you going to do now, chief?" Binay asked Angara.
"We have to call up Sanlakas," said Angara.
Arturo Corales, who had been flatly rejected for admission by UP Law, led cacophonic chants of name-calling mindlessly hurled at Her Excellency, although Gloria never even lifted her mole to squash Ping's body
Sanlakas only fooled itself
Not even half a week went by and Gloria visited Tondo. She was well received, at least warmly, although she walked in with a big-a*s security escort.
"Gloria's campaigning again," said several Tondeños.
A lot of Tondeños who ran little retail stores appreciated Gloria's visit.
Bayan Muna, as sollicited by media, appeared on TV sitting like "Ang Dating Doon." Bayan Muna told the press not to train so many question on them. They denied any actual links to the New People's Army. The media never got around to grilling Bayan Muna on its connections to the NPA--- it was quite content that the party was as symmptomatic of the bourgeois psycopathy of denial.
Corinna Sanchez, being her usual idiotic self, pressed for commentary from PDP-Laban senators. Of course, the nutbag Tessie Oreta obliged. This Oreta idiot is often featured in a doctored light by the Manila Bulletin.
"What a great birthday! Ping Lacson was shot dead."
"Yeah, that's one less molar in the jaws of right-wing terrorism."
"The moral of the story is 'What is wrong must be made..'"
"Yeah, yeah, can you please just bring out the beer? It's not like we ourselves had any helpful hand to the matter."
"The NPA can always be counted upon," said Mark.
"Kidding? Not when they keep on f*ing burning buses!" said Oliver. "Why? My friend Caesar missed his Christmas when they did their monkey business for the Nth time in Quezon Province. And I myself just retreated from what supposed to by my field work at Nueva Eci..."
"Well, it's not like they held you up for your money."
"No," said Olive, an echo of Plato's oude.
"They only set about to burning bus wheels," said Aldwin, gleaming.
"Yeah, while they're still attached to the vehicle," said Maris, flaring up herself.
"But one of the assailants was gunned dead," said Basha.
"I can assume that we wouldn't know him."
"Kaprina who? Like Madlangbayan? Batubalani? Or Ka Prina. Ha, ha.. get it! KA PRINA!" said Oliver.
"KAGO! manahimik ka na," said Bernie, like a fossil club of his former organic hate.
"Why, who's this Kaprina. A celebrity?" said Oliver on the rebound.
"Koprina Sanchez," said Aldwin, actually now sharing a joke with Oliver.
"Guys, shut up. Solemnity please," said Maris.
"Kaprina Alfondo," said Basha.
"I thought that she just got married."
"She did. She managed to," said Maris.
"She didn't jilt her husband at the altar, but she left him anyway," said Jun.
"Her husband joined her at the encounter, but got out."
"Why didn't he go back for her and likewise get shot in the head?" was a conceived joke that Olive would reserve for his own repeated consumption the day later as he would do his kitchen chores.
"She left him, and us.. a legacy," said Maris.
"I can't imagine Kaprina holding..."
"Please, let's let her soul..."
Olive whispered to Artus (who would appreciate) about--- so much for her covering as a innocent bystander, as she had testified to Cabinet Secretary and Honourable former Isabela Representative Heherson Alvarez.
"I'm going to socialize--- why yes, social climb, in the ceremonies of Gayyem Ping. Mamumundok ako... sa mga namumutakting suso," said Brother Min, speaking audibly enough, but better off left to his own warblings.
"I wonder how the Philippine Star will celebrate their hero with a headline," said Jun.
"F* the Philippine Star."
When Olive got his hands on two beer bottles, he said, "Let's have a walk, Artus"
"Most certainly, dear friend," was Artus's answer. For the others, he added in, "We'll just take a while."
"How genteel," said Aldwin, brimming to stand up on his polio-struck legs.
The porch of the restaurant overlooking just another damn mountain ridge of Sual, Pangasinan was quite a smile underlining the panel of sky.
"A starry night indeed," began Artus.
"Just like the awards night we attended at Bahay Kalinaw. When was that..."
"Why, could you see the stars from the inside of that tree-fenced little building?"
"I mean, while we rode on Bepe's owner-type jeep, I just enjoyed the skyscape. It wasn't like an escape, but a confirmation of our destination."
"Well, Kaprina. Sorry for the nasty things I said about you, especially on the Internet. I guess I maligned you like Jay and Silent Bob had been, only..."
"Kaprina died a most valiant death," said Artus.
"Great in bed, and great on the battlefield."
"Better than the heroine of Laura Esquivel."
"In La ley de amor?
<<Que ley es eso, señor? &rt;&rt; "Didn't you read or watch... "I rarely put up with Hollywood. You see, I just got this Compact Disc from Greenhills La ley de amor
"Why, let's make a whole f*cking army of her!"
"Just for the taste of it."
"The Kaprina C*ntlily Killers!"