A smile etched as I look upon the antiquated steel railings of the McArthur bridge. The winds caressed on my face while their whispers reminded me of the sounds that was dominant on that vivid memory fragment of mine.
I was thankful that the bridge, the river, and the districts of Binondo and Sta. Cruz became the treasure box of those fateful memories. Tears have been wanting to fall from my eyes as the bliss of that day reminded me of that girl and of her eyes that spoke of the mysterious happiness.
She was indeed beside me that day. She was wearing the PE Uniform from our university contrary to thee semi-formal dress that I was wearing. Both of us were reluctant to speak. She was wary of exposing her misaligned frontal teeth, though they do not matter to me who was also reluctant to speak for I fear that my heart would speak out prematurely which might sour the rest of that day.
Saying I love you is a very hard thing to do. It could either end up in happiness or in misery. The fear of rejection and the fear that my love would turn into a shameful one-sided one kept me helplessly at bay. The mind, ever the logical, was preventing my mouth from spurting the words which the heart has been wanting to burst to the world. That is why the stutters happen, which I did not want to show in front of her.
Thankfully, she initiated a topic to take about and, to the credits of her eccentricity, which always threw me off balance and was her key feature that I fell to, it was about the sex paraphernalia market that was rampant on these districts. Being branded once as the naughty boy of our communication class because of using lascivious topics to fulfill the class’ requirements, much to the chagrin of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Office which had me as the first subject for counsel as it was just recently established, I was able to catch-up with the topic.
I used to frequent on these districts to purchase billiard accessories. Those sex paraphernalia which were being peddled on the sidewalks gave me a bad impression of the place. I never thought that the impression of mine would be reversed through her, by becoming the subject of our humor and laughter. It would be now quite peculiar to remember her when I get to see those paraphernalia in the future, especially that vibrating dildo, which we thought as slightly used.
We reached the Sta. Cruz plaza after a 10-minute walk. We stopped in front of the statue of Arsenio Lacson, the person who was considered to be Manila’s greatest mayor. She was unaware of his achievements. Being a seeker of a similar legacy, I shared a story about him and her lack of interest to that story reflected on how she wanted to remain in the shadows.
I looked around, prompting her to ask me what I was looking for. I said I was looking for the horse-drawn carriages, you know, calesa. I wanted to tour her around the classical districts of Manila onboard those carriages with the National Museum as the final stop and destination. We reached Binondo and still, there were no signs of horses nor their neighing. We basked in wonder upon the old buildings of Binondo and their grandeur. I boasted my engineering knowledge to her assessing that the buildings were over-reinforced: that once the buildings reached their strength limits, they would just collapse without any warning. Maybe her patience to my bickering was like that too: once it snaps, IT SNAPS, without a warning.
Having recently watched the biopic of Gen. Antonio Luna in Heneral Luna, we stopped by the house of the Lunas which is now a panciteria. I stopped as she continued walking. She looked back to signal me to move on. That gesture reminded me on how to view history: we look back to it, but it should not stop us on our tracks as we have to move on from it, in order to move forward. She asked me why I stopped. Maybe, it was for the best that I remained silent to have her not guilty of that innocent mistake which can be mistaken as an act of ignorance.
We were feeling down because of the disappointment of not seeing any signs of horses in the vicinity. It was said that the horse-drawn carriages were regulated already. Instead of having the horses expend their energy of moving our asses, it was us now who were dragging our feet across the bridge. She, being an indoor person, was having a hard time coping with the outside world, with her thoughts preoccupied of the wonders of seeing those places for the first time, just like the wonder of our first meeting.
It was not in the photos that spoke of her beauty. It was in her real self that I saw which dazzled me. I have the privilege to see the real, talk to the real and touch the real rather than worship what was bounded by the lens of the camera and the trials-and-errors. The photos can betray people. It was the real test, if I were stuck on my delusions. I was thankful that it was not the case. She was far more wonderful from the photos. Her shy voice became the music to my ears which touched my soul. It really felt good. I want now to hear it everyday.
As the wind blew over the bridge, we had a hard time comprehending what we were saying. We have to draw our lips close to our ears. It was then that I extended my shy request on whether I would be allowed to call her if should she be stuck in traffic. She looked at me and nodded. She then smiled. And believe me when I tell you on how perfect was that smile of hers. I was so happy that I could die at any moment. The heat of a 10 am sun became nothing to who was even wearing a suit.
I began to crack up jokes. And much to my surprise, she was an easy nut to crack. I was bewildered to be pushed around by her who can’t control her laughter. She was jolting me literally, which turned into figuratively. It was the first time that a lady has done that to me. I’ve been yearning to have that kind of moment, and she just involuntarily did it to me. I was very thankful. She has since then disturbed me from my slumber. She managed to stir up the stale blood in my system. I was becoming alive again. I was wanting now to be alive everyday. And I knew that to fulfill that, it has to be her!
She was beginning to feel exhausted so we stopped by in a convenience store in front of Colegio de San Juan de Letran. That reminded her of her internet idol, Lloyd Cadena, who was a graduate there. It was one on her wishlist: to see him personally someday. That reminded me of the off-hand joke that my friend threw in his twitter account: of being frustrated to see the face of Lloyd Cadena, who runs a facebook page full of his memes, every time he opened his Facebook account. There were also Alumnae from the Walled City’s Universities that I wanted to meet, however, it was no longer possible to meet them, for they had long been the shadows of the past, of our history. I was a person of history who looked back and then, I was following their trails which lead me into a melancholic life of letters, poetry, science and servitude.
That reminded me that she was an aspiring writer, but she was stuck in indecision on what to write, reflecting on her frustrations on the things she was chasing in the past. She had been wanting to try everything on every field, and much to her humorous remarks, she was joking that she wanted to try drugs too. I chuckled a little bit on that joke of hers, but then I shifted to a serious tone, asking er why she has not yet finalized about the thing that she would pour her passion into. Her situation was contrary to mine. I was a renaissance man. I’ve found my passion on so many disciplines and fields tiring, depleting my energy everyday. Each discipline, as if they were jealous mistresses, was demanding time and devotion from me. Both the right and the left brain were functioning above normal capacities. Like every person I confided about my condition, she told me that I was lucky. And like the previous similar instances, I repudiated her statement. It was very tiring to provide the comforts of both sides of my brain, which were restless, which were itching to work. I shared to her how hard it was through anecdotes (I’ve written it on the previous blog post), other than being naturally athletic which I’m making less apparent by acting like sick.
Upon discussion of my writings, I’ve showed her my notebook, which was full of essays, poems, compositions and social and political commentaries. I’ve only shown her the second half of the notebook. It contained the essays ’Agitated Period’ and ’Indolence of the Filipinos in the 21st Century’. Both essays were ridiculously long. And I feared that they might turn into fully blown books. I’ve let her read those texts, but she couldn’t finish. She said that they were arduous to read. That lead me to question whether rhetoric really put art into my writing style. I was slightly traumatized when the same notebook fell into the hands of the literature majors. I then became self-conscious on my writings. I became the receiving end of the elitism that I exhibited in billiards. I knew my reasons then so I knew their reasons for criticizing the texts. It was quite ironic for me to have both elitism and inferiority complex. Trust me. They complemented well. I felt that I still have long ways to go in order to reap the reward of being on the elite. That is why I worked hard.