I arrived at the arrival area of NAIA 3 at 9 last night; your text message said you’d touch down at 9:10, just in time. The public address announced that your plane had arrived while I was walking down the stairs from the floor above. There were a few people walking to and fro. Most were seated on those metal benches, looking bored and sleepy.
The passengers who just deplaned left the baggage claim area in trickles until the trickles became like an agglutinated super-huge drop(let) of dew. And I saw you at the apex.
I knew I began to feel happy again.
After more than a half-year, I am still as madly (if not more madly) in love (enamored perhaps) with babe as the first time I saw that fluttering soul in black at a hotel in Ortigas more than six months ago. It occurred to me that calling it ‘6th monthsary (cringing while typing this)’ relegates our union into something of little significance; this may lead you into thinking that I am appropriating too much weight on something as young and as unproven as ours by describing the length ‘kalahating taon‘ instead of the more neutral ‘six months’, probably I am. What makes being in love one of the greatest byproducts of human evolution, though, is the blindness it bestows upon smitten individuals, a beautiful kind of blindness that allows them to see the hidden that is more breath-taking than the corporeal, and the dementia that skews their perception of time and temporality.
The half-year feels like we’ve only spent less than a week together; the fleetingness of the bedtime conversations, dinners, or the precious silence between us while we look at each other’s face makes us look forward to the next time we’ll be seeing each other again.
And the world becomes merely incidental.
Hachiko is Baby’s gift to me on our third month. I must have hinted that I wanted a fish, and I must have jokingly specified I wanted a fighting fish in one of our late night conversations.
He’s a Siamese fighting fish, doomed to eternally live a solitary life.
I had six pet goldfish when I was in college who stayed with me until just before graduation. They all perished when my landlady, whom I left them to be taken care of while I was studying in Kuala Lumpur, overfed them with those green-and-red pellets.
I named all my goldfish before so when they died because of my landlady’s over-eagerness, I felt that gaping hole of having lost loved ones. But I never blamed my landlady as fishes have naturally short lifespan, though I won’t deny that I had this urge to serve her coffee mixed with what was left of my fish’s pellets after she told me that she killed my pets.
I can’t have a dog because I move around quite often (and I never really liked dogs; they’re overly patronizing and love licking). Cats are fine because they’re intelligent, independent, scheming, and non-obtrusive, but I can’t have one unless I have a place I own.
I guess, so long as I continue living a life like this, moving from one place to another almost every six months, I can have nothing but fish as pets. I do nothing much except to feed them every morning and change the water in the bowl every weekend.
Then Hachiko arrived. We had to eliminate other names from our long list–Curry (because that night I cooked curry for my baby, Fynn because of his beautiful fins, Peacock, Cock, Alabama, some other odd-sounding suggestions, then finally, Hachiko). He is named after that faithful Akita dog who waited 9 years for the coming of his master in front of the Shibuya station in Japan.
My first glimpse of Hachiko was his beautiful fins fluttering in the water inside a fragile glass that was wrapped in newspaper and plastic bag under the bathroom sink. I peeked inside but acted like I did not see anything so I would not spoil my Baby’s surprise.
I had to sneak him to my unit because my condo prohibits its tenants from having pets. A week ago, while moving his tank, I accidentally broke it, so I had to temporarily place him in a plastic pail in the bathroom while I rushed to a hardware to buy a glass tank but ended up in the grocery and bought a transparent cookie jar instead.
The first thing I do in the morning before I start with my morning rush it to check my Hachiko and feed him with flakes (not anymore the green-and-red pellets) that promise to give him brilliant scales and lush fins.
Hachiko has given me something to look forward to after a tiring day. And something to remind me that he’s from somebody whom I love so much and who loves me back as much.
I do not want readers of this blog to think that I was shanghaied into believing that I can be a model because I clearly know that I am not model-material. However, grant me some benefit of the doubt. This story is for real.
I just finished working out and was on my way home. I usually walk from my gym which is located in a condominium several blocks from the place I am staying on Boni. I was crossing the corner of a street when a Lexus SUV pulled over in front of me. The driver, smiling, excused himself and ask if I have tried modeling before and if I have some sort of a portfolio. I was incredulous and did a mental picture of myself that time — I was wearing a pair of diminutive gym shorts, cotton shirt, and was sweating all over. Assured that I did not look like a prostitute, I smiled back at him and said no. He was with a small boy, his son probably. I thought, any man who’s smart enough (save decent) wouldn’t pick up a prostitute with his son in the car at 6 in the evening in one of Mandaluyong’s busiest streets.
He asked if I wanted to model for a big department store. “This man got to be kidding me!” I said to myself. And serious he was. He gave me his business card (ring card, he called it) and got my number. Then I said I had to be going as I still had tons to read for that semiotics presentation I would be delivering in class the following day.
Me modeling? Come on!
Perfidious thoughts. Yuck.
The sunlight, diffused by my dusty glass windows gives my room a provincial feel, only of course it can’t truly be provincial because EDSA is honking and raging 21 floors below, and the screeching sound of cranes lifting slabs of reinforced concrete for the two condominiums being built just across the street can still be heard, albeit subdued. Thanks to the insulation my room affords me, I can still enjoy the slight silence of this morning. Quiet Saturday mornings like now remind me of laid-back mornings in Polomolok when I did not have to force myself to leave the bed and to be woken up by our house help’s guttural, “Gusto nimo mag-kape, Kuya?“.
What happened last night was beyond my comprehension. I was left in my room alone; too tired to run after [this and some succeeding sentences will drop the object of the verb], I opted to just sleep it off and let the next day come up with synthesis of what had happened. I woke up today feeling nothing, the incident eight hours ago remains as enigmatic.
I’ve changed. I guess what differentiates my current self from who I was, say, a year ago is that I expect less from my relationships now. Yes I love still, more passionately by the day, and never shall I feign affection, but when things become as blurry as my window, I keep myself from rushing to wipe it clean right after. Now I let things take their own pace. After all, the dust and hardened grime from the heavy rain of last night are now giving my room a beautiful, rustic glow.
Seated in the end-most seat at the back part of the auditorium of Insituto Cervantes in Manila, I had a clearer, albeit the small cinema in the Instituto was unlighted as in all other self-respecting cinemas, glimpses of people who were seated in front of me. I went there earlier, catching a 5:30 pm LRT1 ride from Gil Puyat to United Nations amid a heavy afternoon downpour.
On Wednesday of last week, I got hold of an announcement, printed in the Business Mirror, on the Spanish Embassy’s annual El Dia Espanol (Day of the Spanish Language). Piqued by the activities lined up by the Instituto, I braved the impending rain which later fell into an itinerant early monsoon rainfall. I arrived at the Instituto soaked and a bit disorientated because of drippings from umbrellas of other less careful commuters and the usual slaughter house-like scene inside these crammed coaches.
The perceived very intellectual atmosphere in the Instituto, several meters away from the UN Avenue train station, gave me a warm welcoming.
Several groups of Filipinos, mostly students and young professionals and some tourist-looking Caucasians were conversing with each other in Spanish and English and occasional Tagalog in a small cafe a few steps from the metal-detecting machine. I do not speak Spanish neither do I understand the language, which is just too bad.
At first, I thought the place was reeking with heat coming from the usual European (specifically Parisian) coffee shop debates on semiotic, critique of post-structuralism or the discussion on metaphor and the primacy of irony over other devices in chapter 4 of Aristotle’s Poetics. Overhearing their small chit-chats, my impressions fell flat on their faces and mine, and the supposed intellectual atmosphere collapsed into heaps of commonplace subjects of small talks. The topics of their discussion were of unlofty kind, mostly mundane concerns about the heralding of a new brand of politics that comes with the election of Mr. Aquino to the highest seat in the land, the recovery of the national economy vis-a-vis the ‘rigged’ figures proudly claimed by the Arroyo administration, the sorry state of Philippine education system, and some students from, I gathered, St Benilde, who were exchanging banalities about the rigor and excitement of their college life.
I sipped my coffee fast and escaped immediately from the very heavy atmosphere in the lobby. I ran to the small auditorium and chose the most isolated location because I wanted to enjoy my movie, Galatasaray – Depor. I half suspected it was going to be in Spanish (of course!) and that subtitles, if there were any, would be in Spanish. I was right.
I trusted that motion picture is an art of universal value that transcends cultural boundaries. And that for somebody who studied and teaches communication, my education prepared me to tackle kinesics head on, understanding the story based on the actions, the varying tones of the characters’ voices in delivering their lines, and the subtleties of their interactions. Or so I thought.
Until a group of people, the same group I tried to escape from in the cafeteria came in and joined in communal experience of film-viewing. One of them, the most brazen, blurted “Ay, walang English subtitles.” I do not see why people in this country have the penchant of stating, and stating out loud, what is obvious.
But the fact that these people have the audacity to advertise their stupidity like a badge of honor is even more horrifying.
On the other end of the spectrum, some people, whom I assume to be impeccably conversant in Spanish, made it sure that people like me who understand no Spanish word except pronto, puerta, or puta knew where to locate ourselves in the greater scheme of things. These people who have studied Spanish, the younger, over-eager undergraduate, especially, who were part of that group in question, laughed twice as hard and as loudly as one would normally laugh when faced with a funny scene or line in the film.
Their stylized way of laughing signified the void that separates the Spanish literate and the non-literate, which was fine with me. They were more than willing to announce their extensive knowledge of the Spanish language, complete with understanding of the subtle idioms and irony.
But this is an act that leaves a bad aftertaste. It’s inelegant.