Thirteen Reasons Why: Bakit Single Ka Pa Rin? (Reason No. 12)

Happy Valentine’s Day, muna. How was yesterday?


Sa iba, super special ng araw na ito. Sa akin? It’s just an ordinary day.

Pero ngayon, napaisip ako kung sino ba ang taong I have spent Valentine’s Day with. I realized, isang tao lang ang naka-date ko sa Valentine’s, muna nuon, si T.M. lang.

Bakit naman isa lang? Kasi ayoko talagang nakikipagdate pag Araw ng mga Puso. Kasi lahat nakapula at handang handa.

Masyado akong anxious sa pagka-single ko. Siguro ganun talaga pag lahat nalang ng kaibigan at kapitbahay mo, halos kinasal at kinakasal na. Kung ang iba ay problema ang anak, pamilya, ako naman, pinoproblema ko yung real possibility na baka hindi na ako makapag-asawa at baka malungkot ng todo todo ang aking mga magulang at kapatid.

Thirteen Reasons Why: Bakit Single Ka Pa Rin? (Reason No. 12)

People die.

Syempre, pag wala na sila, hindi naman talaga sila para sa iyo. I mean, alangan namang iyon na yun? Finish na agad? Pass your paper, ganyanan? Unfair naman.

Bago pa mamatay recently yung best guy friend ko, I already lost someone in 2016.

Diba lagi kong sinasabi na yung parents ko taga province? Actually, ako rin. Hanggang high school nasa province ako.

This is about T.M.

Uy, hindi ko ito naging boyfriend kahit kelan, baka naman sabihin ng iba, ang kire kire ko, daming boyfriends. On the contrary, masyado nga akong demure to begin with. Late bloomer, I guess. Kaya ayun, lahat might have beens.

Nung Grade 3 kami, humingi si T.M. sakin ng picture ko. Ako naman, mega bigay agad. Besides, I have previously asked my mom to have copies of that photo to spread sa mga friends pang slam book ba. Diba ganun tayo? May dedication pa nga diba? So bakit alam na alam ko ang timeline? My mom kasi is the kind of nanay na nag-jojournal. Lahat ng photos namin, naka print, at may labels. That is why I know, Grade 3 ako nun, TMNT shirt pa nga ang suot ko sa picture.

Fast forward to high school,

Inasar ako ni T.M. about that photo at kung ano man ang sinulat ko sa likod. Sabi nya, he still has it and for some reason, naka frame ito sa kwarto nya pero hindi naman naka display. Pikon na pikon ako kasi it was so embarrassing.

As a classmate, bwiset si T.M. — madalas akong tamaan ng eraser kasi tinatarget sya lagi ng teachers dahil sa daldal, kaso lagi sya tumatabi sakin para bwisitin ako so ako ang parating tinatamaan.

Was he courting me? Kasi diba nung bata tayo ganun? The more ka inaasar, the more ka nya trip. Hindi malinaw eh.

Until nalaman kong hindi. Eventually luminaw rin.

Nalaman kong hindi kasi dinedate na pala nya yung Miss Campus namin. Maganda naman talaga si Ms Campus (F.S.) Parang match made in heaven sila. Si T.M. hindi naman pogi na nakaka starstuck. Pero may appeal sya. Tipong kung Gimik days eh sya si Diet instead of Rico. Pero hindi sya sing pogi ni Diet ha. Malayo hahaha. Tipong si Diether pag nagpaaraw ng sampung taon walang pahinga.

So nakalimutan na ata ako ni friend. Hindi na ako kinukulit. Parang hindi na nga pumapasok always kasi excuse nya yung sports nilang Sepak Takraw. Besides, ang saya na nila eh. Muse and escort. Sagala si F.S. and sya naman lagi ang partner nya. Ganun sa province eh. That’s how the IT crowds were made.

Ako? Wala naman effect din sa akin. Madami akong crushes. Buhay na buhay ako sa crushes back then. I didn’t even think of T.M. that way at that time. Life went on.

Then college happened.

Nag-aral ako sa Manila, sa isang school na hindi naguuniform. Si T.M. naman, sa school na malapit sa airport. Bilang malapit lapit na rin kami sa isa’t isa, kahit paano, gumigimik gimik rin kami. That time, di pa uso yung malapit sa current residence ko. Uso pa nun yung malapit sa school ko. Kakalabas namin, dun siguro kami napalapit sa isa’t isa. From group gimiks, it started becoming just the two of us. We were in our late teens that time. One night, both of us had some drinks, we kissed and one thing is about to lead to another. I had a drink but I wasn’t drunk. I stopped. He was okay that I stopped.

The following week was Valentine’s Day. Inaya nya akong lumabas. After not talking about what happened the week before, we thought we’d charge it to the beer. Ignore nalang namin – But then he came, with flowers. I think yun na ang declaration nya nang pagmamahal nya sakin. He was so serious like he was about to cry. I was nervous. Parang masusuka ako sa kaba. Ganun pala yung feeling na ganun (I told myself). It was my first time to experience that level of kaba.

I know him and I know his type of relations. I wasn’t ready for that. My experience the week before was a testament on how I was not ready for that kind of relationship. Of course I felt it too. Of course. But I was not ready for that kind of ride. And I was too scared to get pregnant. Siguro kasi yun talaga ang panakot sa mga dalaga back then. Remember Jolina? Halikan ka lang mabubuntis na?

Paulit ulit kong pineplay yung Let’s Wait Awhile ni Janet Jackson kasi I can’t rush love talaga. I was contemplating about it. Sasagutin ko ba sya? Hindi ako nakipagkita sa kanya ng matagal and I told him that I need time to think about it.

After that Valentine’s date, we tried talking about waiting for me to be ready to be in a relationship.

But he took it negatively. Nagalit sya sakin because he believes that it was the difference in our economic status kaya hindi ko sya sinagot. He’s not poor and we aren’t mega rich. Siguro ganun talaga sa province. Binebase sa apelyido or sa laki ng bahay ang yaman. They had a notion that we were loaded, but we weren’t. We’re normal. Hindi ko alam kung saan galing yung self-pity nyang yun. Hindi nya talaga maalis yung idea na mahirap sila kaya hindi ko sya sinagot.

Hindi na kami nagkita nang kaming dalawa lang. Then eventually, we stopped hanging out.

In 2016

I haven’t seen him since college. I’d visit his house whenever I am home for holidays to see his parents. Lakad lakad lang yun samin kaya inevitable na hindi makita ang lahat ng tao, but I never saw him all those years. He went abroad daw. Nag-Singapore ata siya.

Someone told me that he got sick, had cancer– but became okay eventually.

But then he got sick again.

When he got hospitalized in Manila for his second surgery, I visited him. He didn’t want me to see him like that. He was bald and thin. Could barely speak. He was trying to talk and he said, “lalo mo akong aayawan” — He was crying, and I was crying too. I told him I never disliked him. Everyone around him was crying because they knew that I was his one that got away. His sisters were blaming him for freezing me out because of self-pity.

But at that time in the hospital, parang he went back to those days na mahal nya ako. He was making promises na pag galing nya, he will find me and marry me. I told him that I will patiently wait for that time. Did we get engaged? Parang eh.

But then he died few days later.

Nakakalungkot. Siguro kaya mas ayaw ko na sa Valentine’s. Ito ang isa sa pinaka mahirap isulat na experience.

I still cry whenever I think of him. It’s a chance wasted.

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Buhay Pa Rin Ako

Naging busy lang.

Early December, we had a small party; not exclusive to our clique, but a reunion of the people na tambay nang isang sikat na bilyaran (college days). We’ve become extended tropa of one another kahit hindi naman kami talagang magkakaibigan. Nagrent kami ng rooftop, private residence. Dati na namin nirerent yun, college pa lang kami. Mahilig talaga kami sa reunion at parties — iba’t iba na ang buhay namin.

Our mid 30s is the best (so it seems), we have thrived career wise, yung mga mukhang haggard na tambay? Sosyal na at magaganda ang sasakyan ha! We have a dj among us, may tattoo artist, may singer, may caterer, may photographer, may nagbibusiness, may houseband pero mayaman daw ang misis, the rest, office workers. Mukhang walang sumunod sa yapak ni Efren “Bata” Reyes ah. When we were in college, feeling namin lahat kami professional ang galawan.

Nakausap ko ng matagal that night si photographer at houseband. Mukhang okay naman si photographer financially kasi malaki ang ambag. Pero wala pa syang house (kung makasalita naman ako kala mo meron ako, eh freeloader lang naman ako). According to him, nagrerent sya ng townhouse but it can get too expensive raw especially that he is alone without a housemate. Okay lang naman daw but he wants to cut his expenses, he wants to save more daw for a permanent home. Sabay singit ni houseband na “ayan oh, magrent ka dyan (sakin daw), laki ng condo nya, sya lang mag-isa”. We laughed because it’s funny. I never had a housemate na regular, puro yung mga transient lang. But then next we know is nagcacalculate na kami ng utility bills.

Ayun na nga, may roommate na ako. Naisip ko, malaking tulong rin yun for gas since kahit gaanong ka ganda ang location ng bahay ko, the fact na anlayo naman nito sa work ko, pang-asar rin so makabawi man lang sa gas at pamasahe.

Sino ba itong photographer na ito sa buhay ko? Wala. Ni hindi nga kami friends if you sum it up.

Pero dati, he’s one of the cutest in our campus. We wondered about him because para syang may sariling mundo. May dalang gitara palagi. Tatambay sa amin, pero hindi mag-eengage, then aalis after 15 minutes. Ganun lang. Wala. That time, we girls used to call him Jay (for Jay Manalo), kamukha nya eh.

So ngayon, mas hot na sya. Malaki na ang katawan, obvious na nagbubuhat. Camera na ang dala parati instead of gitara na meron pa rin sa room nya to be fair. Musikero pa rin pala. Pero like before, may sariling mundo pa rin.

He tries to cook, pero parang breakfast lagi. Tinitirahan nya ako ng food kahit hindi naman kami share sa food and groceries. Then, he asked me 3 weeks ago kung okay lang magbisita. I said yes of course. So may dinala syang super sexy na model (I assumed) kasi katawan model eh tapos halatang early 20s lang. Whatever they did, keber diba? But in me, medyo cringe. First time ko may ka-share ng house na nagdadala ng girls… yes, plural, kasi parang 3 na nakikita ko (minus pa yung during the day na hindi ko inaabot) kung meron man.

Okay, kaya ako napablog bigla is because yesterday, over lunch, since parehas kaming nasa bahay lang at walang lakad, nabore siguro at tinanong ako, “bakit ba hindi tayo lumabas nung college?”

Napaisip ako ha, sa loob ko, hindi ka naman kalabas labas nun kasi may sarili kang mundo. Then naalala ko si Jay Manalo.

I answered him, “because you never asked”.

Nashokt ako sa sagot ko. Hindi ko alam bakit I sounded flirtatious in my head.

Alam kong hindi friendly yung sagot ko at medyo may malice. While sya, siguradong casual question lang. After my answer, he leaned and inayos yung buhok ko kasi it’s all over my face, then he took a photo of me. Ganun talaga ang sequence ng pangyayari.

Sinabi ko, pag di nya dinelete sasaktan ko sya, I chased him around to give me the camera.

It was a playful afternoon.

Nothing strange happened.

But I am kind of scared. I thought about him all night. I cannot lust for my housemate especially if he’s that kind of guy, the kind who will surely give in. I know that one misstep, my body will betray me and I will be in serious trouble.

Shet.

90 Days

Last week, my friends and I got together sa bahay ng pinaka mayaman samin (kasi sa kanila lang kami kasya na hindi masyadong siksikan), medyo hindi na kami social distancing kasi vaccinated naman kaming lahat pero may cringe factor pa rin. I know alam mo yung feeling. So bakit kami nag bonding muli?

It’s because it was our friend, C’s 90th day. It wasn’t though — because we’re unable to gather everyone on the exact 90th day, more on 100th na siguro. Hanggang sa kamatayan, tinatabla sya. I can hear him swear from his grave. Syempre, inuman, reminiscing. Funny things come up when you’re dead.

There was a time when we’re younger when he told me that he thinks he’s in love with me. I totally ignored that moment kasi takot akong masaktan ng friend. Ang drama ko nun, sobrang hurt ako kasi feeling ko, mahal ko rin sya (in retrospect). So andami kong arte that time. Feeling ko, super depressed sya because of me kasi ang ganda ko lang diba? (Feelingera much)

Nun pala, all those times na akala ko is depressed mode sya eh he was hooking up pala sa isa naming kakilala. Bale girlfriend sya ng isang tropa namin. Kaya pala nagbreak yung magjowa na yun is because nakahook up nya si C and our friend found out about it. They hooked up one time na passed out yung boyfriend nya sa kalasingan and si C naman is talagang malandi. So harot + landi = broken relationship.

No one knew about it except the three people involved and nalaman nalang nang iba as we’ve gotten older, yung sa mga one-on-one tsimisan lang. Ako, last to know or baka alam ko na dati, amnesia lang slight.

Sabi nung friend kong si S, stakeholder daw kasi ako that’s why it’s likely na it was deliberately hidden from me. Why is that?

Because the boyfriend of that girl happened to be my first boyfriend in college. Like pagka break nila, after few weeks, I was the one he dated.

So why did I say yes to him? And si C is basted?

It’s because he was just a tropa. Not a friend. Very different from my relationship with C. I don’t care if magbreak kami nito. Unless mainlove ako siguro, which is hindi.

So all this time, yung beef nila, akala ko about me! Tungkol pala sa haliparot na babaeng iyon! Feelingera talaga ako, ano?

Halos mamatay (sorry for the word) kami sa tawa because it’s been ages ago. Para kaming tanga, lalo ako realizing hindi naman pala ako ang rason bakit parang their friendship has turned sour.

Ang funny lang. Things you discover after years of friendship.

Then we were all sad again. Realizing we will no longer be complete, ever. Dati nagagalit yung mga nagtatrabaho sa call center kasi ang OA daw nung mga parents kasi gusto lagi sa mall mag-get-together para kasama ang mga anak. Syempre kami, gusto lang laging nyomo galore. So sa lakad, laging hindi kumpleto either wala ang mga nanay or wala ang mga lasenggo. Very rare talagang makumpleto.

Pero ngayon, hindi na talaga makukumpleto.

Sad.

We looked at each other, someone said, “we really thought cirrhosis will kill him”.

Then we all laughed again.

Hey, It’s Been A While

Yes, it’s been months since I’ve opened this site. It’s not that I am not online, I am present naman in Twitter and Facebook, but I hardly post anything as well.

What happened recently?

My best friend passed away 2 months ago — not because of Covid. He was a victim of a hit and run. He was in his bike, wearing the right gears but then a sedan came out of nowhere, hit him. He was t-boned according to witnesses. The car disappeared. No one was able to catch the plate number, but I was told that there’s a possibility of a footage available from a CCTV in one of the houses nearby. They could get something from there.

We are not old, but, we’re old enough to be asked as to why we’re still single. Like almost, every f**king time. We’d joke about how we’re waiting for each other, but to tell you the truth, that ship has sailed years ago.

We tried hooking up more than a couple of times. We had kissed, like lovers, we were affectionate, but nothing further went on except for that one time, hindi na namin pinag usapan right after, parang walang nangyari siguro, we couldn’t bear crossing that line kaya we’d rather not remember. We’re too good as friends. I wonder if there was really an attraction, or perhaps we’re just both sad at that time.

He was handsome. If you like the eccentric types. Mestizo parang mayaman, pero sobrang hilig sa ukay-ukay saka laging may dalang gitara. May gig lagi? He’d wear slippers all the time, tsinelas pa yun before but these days, sosyal na kami, “slides” na yan. Kelan ko ba sya huling nakita, “ay nung may Covid nung 2020.” Nakitira sya sakin saglit, kasi diba may mga quarantine quarantine, malayo yung office nya, nahahassle minsan yung permit nya, minsan kasi pinapapasok sya sa main office nila, although for some time, we’d only worked at home and it’s pretty funny how he said that he chose me since I was the only he knew who had fiber optic and an extra room at home. I had to laugh. He liked my area because it’s walking distance from his workplace. Mga 5 hours walking distance. Charot. Mga 10 minutes lang. It’s a shame that they do not have a vacancy for what I do, if ever, I would have tried applying.

That one month was fun. We’d eat noodles and bread. We had liquor all the time. Ako pa ba? Ready ako for visitors especially bago magCovid. So dahil walang bisita, naimbak lang. We’d drink cheap liquor, although madaya ako because mahina talaga ang tolerance ko.

We talked deeply (like any other drunken friends), sabi ko anu na, how’s he? He said okay lang sya then he’s asked me kung kumusta naman ako, and I told him, my so-called bf is far away but we’re fine. I am not so sure if he was really my boyfriend (who fast forward to today was not pala – we’ve moved on separately). We had a short moment na natakot ako kasi baka i-kiss nya ako, then super sakit na nang tyan ko kasi kabadong kabado ako, it’ll be like deja vu of the past. Thank goodness. Natawa lang kami both sa vibe. We both recognized how familiar that feeling was.

We promised sa isa’t isa, “pag 40 na tayo and we’re still single… hindi na tayo mag-aasawa okay?” Then we both laughed because the cliche was kami na lang sa finish line dapat… pero we decided, hindi na lang. Surrender na lang kami. Haha.

So pano na yan ano? Ako na lang mag hihintay sa 40? Hindi man lang sya nag 39. Nakakalungkot. Parang ang unfair, pero ganun talaga ang buhay.

I cannot bear show myself sa bahay nila, hindi naman kami nag-attend ng wake given the situation. Maloloka ang mommy nya kasi I am an additional reminder of how her son lived his life. Siguradong magrereminisce galore ulit si Tita. Hindi ko kaya ang ganung kalungkot na scene.

Hay. Sana masaya na sya kahit sa langit, walang beer 🙂

This is my reason #5, for the Thirteen Reasons Why: Bakit Single Ka Pa Rin series