The first text that I showed to her was the Filipino Rendition of the musical piece, “Confrontation”, from the musical Les Miserables. In order for her to “appreciate?” my rendition further, I have to sing it in front of her. But there are two characters singing in this piece with a significant part having a counterpoint – both characters were delivering their lines at the same time. I chose to sing the part of Javert. Javert is my favorite character in the book. He was relentless in his pursuit on Jean Valjean, the convict he had been hunting for years.
I remembered the day when a goddess drew closer to me and like the sun, the more I drew closer, the more I felt the heat of the backlash from those envious, pretty much reflects on the crab mentality that Filipinos were diagnosed of. I was so resolute – in vanquishing those who spoke bad and those who acted in bad faith – that I got burnt really bad instead of retreating to the shade – like the people have been wanting for me to do. Now, with this girl who has my heart sitting in front of me, I was more determined to protect her at all cost. I will not only make guys envious of me because I have her but also I will make girls envious of her because she has me.
I tried mimicking Roger Allam’s voice – which to me was very cool, soulful, and fitted to the character of Javert – but to no avail. I would not even try to sing it mimicking Philip Quast’s voice – which to me was warm and glorious – I feel the presence of the Law in encountering his interpretation of Javert. I became “giggity” in front of her when I talked about it. The shame sank in and I had to change topics.
I flipped into another page to show her the Filipino rendition of “One Day More”. Setting Valjean, Javert and the ABC Cafe aside, we were left with the characters of Marius, Cossette and Eponine. My sympathy was clearly with Eponine. I became sick of playing Eponine’s role to every love story that I’ve even been with. I wanted to be the one singing “In My Life” and “A Heart Full of Love” in life. I don’t want anymore “On My Own” and “Little Fall of Rain”. Will she finally be the one?
We took a pedicab to lead us to the National Museum. We entered the premises and immediately basked over the enormity and grandeur of Juan Luna’s Spoliarium which was in display of the front hall. It was the first time that I saw it personally and so was hers – another shared first moment with her. I urged her to pose for a photo. That fraction of time and the scene it captured became the most vivid painting that stood out amidst the antiquated painting. She has forever been immortalized in my mind and in my heart.
She has been trying her best to interpret the subtle messages of every painting while I kept drawing and painting lively pictures of her in my mind. It’s paintbrush delivered vivid strokes as my heart beat wild, feeling the presence of its true master. Seeing her personally, seeing the very details of her face, seeing her talk, seeing her laugh and seeing her smile are far better than the photos that speak of her.
She revealed that she too hasn’t slept much and now that she was drowsy, we sat on a bench. I watched her nod off as she battled to find a comfortable sleeping position. I dearly wish that she would rest her head against my shoulder. She was within my arm’s reach. I was sleepy but I can’t sleep, because the woman in my dreams was right beside me. We were alone in the exhibit room as if we were the only two people in the world. There are lots of things that I wanted to do with her: hold hands, hug tight and lots of childish acts entailed by an innocent kind of love. All I have to do was to reach her. The time constricted and the moment nearly took forever, yet I couldn’t.
Before I knew it, the moment was over. We scanned the rest of the paintings and sculptures. We left the premises and finally was able to ride a horse-drawn carriage. I wanted to prolong her glee – of riding it for the first time – by lengthening the route, but I cursed these new regulations – as the carriage stopped short at the gates of the Walled City. It was a mere 200-meter ride and we have to pay lots for it.
I was the first one to alight the carriage. I offered my hand to her. She held it. It was the only time that we held hands. I dearly yearned for more moments like that in the future. I assisted her but she missed a step, falling to me in the process, although I wished it to be figuratively rather than literally. I caught her and acted like nothing happened. We rode a pedicab and we entered Real Fuerza de Santiago, commonly known as Fort Santiago. We stopped by the moat to snap a photo of her with the front walls – as the background – as memento for that day.
It was a humid afternoon and we went to sit on top of the front walls of the fort facing the moat. We sat down, waiting for each other to initiate a conversation. She went right off the bat initiating the topic that I was trying my best to evade – on how on earth we got to know each other. What I believed was that she was my classmate on the Environmental Science class which I was enrolled in during the summer term. She was the one who extended the friend request on Facebook. Believing that she was my classmate, I accepted her request and even added her to the Facebook group of our Env Sci class. After finding out that it was not the case, I become even more reluctant into opening up that topic as if our prides are at stake into finding out who made the first move.
I was astonished to learn from her that we actually got to know each other from an online dating site, Omegle. I have no recollection whatsoever of that retrospection at all. In Omegle, people get to meet and talk with strangers. She said that I got to ask some trivial questions and finally insisted her to extend a friend request on Facebook. She said that she originally wanted to just mess with people there. But I knew already of her predicaments during that time. It was just months since she lost her mother. At that moment, I was wishing that we should have met at an earlier time so that I can be a mother, a father, a sibling and a friend to her. It is still possible. Since we have met on a dating site, I would suggest that we should date. I would dry her tears with love. I now greatly wish to be this girl’s significant other. But my mind, ever the reasonable and calculating, prevented me from committing that slip, still wanting to do it the way that I planned to do.
I scrambled into my belongings and got hold of that sketch of her. I asked her if she has received a drawing of her from somebody in the past. She responded that she did, deflating my hopes of being the first one to do that for her. But she continued, adding that it was a web drawing. I brought out the folder and tired to gather my courage to overcome my stammering – which got to me once when I was also in a similar situation when I gave a drawing that I drew for fifteen minutes to the person itself. I just couldn’t catch my break. I hoped that this would go for the better. That experience and the heartbreak that came after that person was what I thought drove me into trying Omegle using my 2nd Facebook account. If that was not still the case, I would still be grateful to whoever compromised my identity. It must be the undertakings of fate. My faith is renewed that fate and destiny do indeed exist!
I showed her the sketch… ergo… the drawing. As a normal girl would be, she was impressed and flattered by my gesture. The nerves go to me again, putting up a defense mechanism, saying that I typically do this to any other girls. In reality, she was no any other girl. She is the only girl that my heart seeks and only love can will my hand into concentrating on doing sketches. I had my reasons for that defense mechanism. I do not want her to see the parts of the poem “The Light of Spring” engraved at the back which might end up on a premature confession. I wanted that poem – which was made using her initials – to help her with the contemplation later if I were to indeed confess.
That led her into asking another question. She said that I must have been a ladies’ man, having many girlfriends. I replied nonchalantly that I lost count of them. She was perplexed by my answer. She inquired deeper. Honestly, my pride does not want me to admit that I had no girlfriend – since birth. My context of a girlfriend was that I pursued her and was able to win her heart in the process – ergo again, through what the Filipinos called Panliligaw or courtship. All the girls that I’ve ever been with was only due to the spur of the moment or was just out of pity. I let them have the physical me when my mind and heart were somewhere else. The last one that I dearly wished to be my girlfriend was from five years ago. I gave her hints of the past depression that the girl – that “Esther” from my story in Overheard at UP – caused.
But I couldn’t bring myself into opening up about that girl – the girl who was once my everything, who has received my utmost, solemnest and sincere devotion and who broke my heart thrice. She, posing with that pink hat on one of her pictures, pulled some strings inside my memory. It was the similar pink hat that the girl from five years ago wore. I was torn on the thought on whether I pursued this girl because I saw that girl in her – both exhibiting similar qualities. The fabrics of time were making a joke, with the images of both girls superceding each other. They both share the same nickname, a syllable which strikes a pleasant note to the chords of my soul. That is maybe why I become curious into demanding acquaintance via Facebook back then.
A plethora of thoughts littered my mind – which became the reason of my solemn behavior for the whole day. Is that really the case? It was maybe the reason why I let her come in from the doors of my heart. But it was never the reason why I let her take my heart by storm. She is a different person, this what I am feeling right now was the love of the present – free from the tethers of the past – a fresh and humble beginning!
The conflict and turmoil of my thoughts provoked me into passing the buck to her- asking about her past experiences in the pursuit of love. I already knew from my best friend – who was her upperclassman – what generally happened five years ago. What I don’t know was that they broke up because of priorities! To rub salt to the wound, it was the guy who cut the relationship off and she pathetically begged him not to do so. How lucky was that guy?! To have a girl such as her to fall on her knees! I would be the one doing that just for me to be loved by her. Oh! The agony of being unloved!
The mental stress brought by the recollection triggered her periodic headaches. I asked her on what were the medical reasons, but she kept a tight lip about it. I was restraining myself from worrying too much for her sake – it was one of my negative traits – over-worrying. To alleviate my concern, she opened up about the lump on the left side of her neck just below her ear. She took my hand to have me feel that lump. I couldn’t detect it so I used my other hand to feel the right side to notice the differences. She was looking at me. But I forced myself into being concerned about the lump alone in order for me to not fall into that intimate moment. I might emit steam on the spot if I were to prolong the eye contact with her mysterious eyes again gazing to the depths of my soul. I might not be able to hide the happiness that she is causing. The moment ended and regrets sank in. Oh poor me! I’ve lost the golden opportunity.
It was a hot Saturday afternoon. Both of us were sweating buckets. I was the first one to re-groom and leave the comfort room. I sat beside a figure of a priest who has his chin on his hand, as if he shares the same predicament of every men – waiting for their partners who were in the comfort room – who puzzled themselves on thinking what were their partner’s thoughts in the comfort room. It was as if the lads were reassessing whenever they did something out of their partner’s tastes. If I were to reassess what I’ve done earlier, I would be hysterical to conclude that she was bored to death by our trip, proving how boring I was.
She emerged from the comfort room, wearing now a black shirt, the same color as the figure beside me! I followed the footsteps of Rizal on our way out which were marked by bronze plates. I tried to emulate the atmosphere of that morning of December 30, 1896, to feel for Rizal’s sacrifice. Will I follow the melancholic and solitary life of Jose Rizal or pursue the happiness who was now walking beside me?
This girl who reeks of that happiness snapped me out of my daydream as we left the premises of Fort Santiago. Her face spelled concern, but not because of seeing the bombarded walls of the Fort once more. She confided to me about her troubles on her gender identification, admitting that she was currently a bisexual. She had a crush on her orgmate. Just like the Fort which suffered devastation during the Pacific War, my heart suffered devastation after revelations from her came like artillery shells bombarding my sanity and hopes. She even asked me for an advice. It broke my heart – which was now bleeding profusely – to advice her to do what she wants to do to find her own answer. I dearly wanted to advice her to date me instead, but the action would betray my nature – I want people to remain free of their choices. Betraying that principle would make me a hypocrite and as a person who abhors hypocrisy, I simply cannot do so – it will make me feel that I cheated in order to achieve victory.
The afternoon set further as the sadness gain advantage over the happiness like the shadows growing bigger against the light of the setting sun. The biggest shadow that was being cast was of the Palacio de Gobernador, where the Commission on Elections makes office. That brought her to excitement as she was seeing personally the place that she only saw through television in the past. Despite me being notoriously talkative, I honestly prefer to be the listener on every conversation. It was in this moment that my preference – which has since evolved into a wish – was fulfilled. My heart fluttered as she spoke with glee about the fiasco brought by the presidential aspirants who filed their candidacies and presented themselves in the media at this very place.
The exhaustion sank in. It was weird to only feel that now after the things that we have done earlier. We sat at the steps of the Manila Cathedral. A wedding was taking place. We both expressed our envies to the couple who were having their extravagant wedding – packed with luxurious cars and sophisticated recording devices. We then looked at each other. She smiled, and her smile produced a circulating dreamy cloud with the illusion of us being in front of the altar exchanging vows. I was absorbed so much on the illusion that I grabbed her hand in the process without knowing, as if I was unconsciously putting a ring to her finger. Marriage for me was the testament of forever. I do believe in forever and I believe that being lovers will eventually end up into marrying each other. I dearly wish that it has to be her.
I snapped out from my illusions as she was quizzically looking at her hand which I was still holding. I had to find an excuse again! Luckily, her hand was the one providing a bail out. I noticed a huge scar in her hand. I asked her how she sustained that injury. She said that it was out of stupidity. She frowned, being ashamed of what happened. That only proved that humans really do mistake – even the one we regarded as perfect. I consoled her by sharing anecdotes of my stupidities in the past – with the scars of my left eyebrow and chin giving testaments of the events.
Imperfections constitute the uniqueness of the individual. It is what makes an individual an individual. All what is left is to find our imperfect significant other at the perfect time, filling each other’s weaknesses with each other’s strengths. I dearly wish that this was the perfect time and she was the imperfect significant other. Even though others will share their opinions on having betters, she will be the only one I need.
Despite her objections, I fetched for a cab. We were now at the wrap-ups of every date where one or both of them would wish that the day would last a little longer. Damn that 4:00 pm curfew she imposed upon herself! There was still one item on our itinerary that was yet to be fulfilled: watch the Manila Bay sunset with her, as I finally confess my feelings to her. That confession became unfulfilled and the love became unrequited.
The cab dropped us at Recto Ave. After a half-a-day set of activities, we find ourselves thirsty and hungry. I presented myself into treating her at a fast food chain. Again, she turned down my offer, saying that she was not fond of the fast food. Her insistence to split the taxi bill proved that she has also a pride to reserve – wanting to prove that she is a strong and independent lady.
I then purchased two 12-oz. buko juice and 2 pouches of fried peanuts. I gobbled down my share of the snack as fast as I could, but she couldn’t finish her share of the fried peanuts and the buko juice, so she has to share some to me. It was the first time that a person has shared their food and drink – and possibly body fluids (lol) – to me, because typically I was on the giving end. Her gesture was very heartfelt. I hoped that the buko juice had a love potion in it – with the enchanted spell being a developing love to those who shared the drink. Those wishes on her have been piling up. If I have to get my birthday wishes of the future in advance to be fulfilled at once, all would be for her. She has become my everything.
The bus began to move and it was like a countdown to sadness as the moment that we had to part ways inched closer. It was such a pity that I won’t be having any excuse to meet her again. She asked where I did live in. I said that she would be seeing her herself. I alighted the bus and waved at her as the bus sped up and ascended the hill where Private William Grayson fired the first shots of the Philippine-American War. Just like the hopes of independence back then, the happiness slowly vanished into thin air.
Alone in my room, I tried to comfort myself by looking back to the memories that we recently had. But instead, it only reinforced my conclusions that by “Missing you – the absence of your presence – proved your worth in my life. I wanted to see you everyday. Missing you only proves that I really, really, really like you, Telle-chan!”
We met when I was already in my final semester while you were at your very first one. I really wish that I would find my one true love during my college days for I would feel more appreciated because the fact that I was yet unaccomplished and that the girl accepted me for who I am. The girl would be braving herself into facing the uncertain future, accepting what we currently have and risking into fulfilling our potentials that are yet to be tested. On this final turn of the page, I met her. With just one meeting, I fell for her. With just one day, she became worthy to remember. And by missing her, love endured to forever. There are really no specific description on how people are so quick and deep into capturing the hearts of others.
It was because of her that I accepted the offer that UP gave to me into becoming one of their researcher for the coming three years, setting aside my inheritance of a construction firm from my godfather and the vast lands bordering Magalang and Concepcion from my clan. I want to see for myself her growth in character. I must be by her side. I must therefore shorten the distance between us. It was as if there was a train which would take me to many places – that was unable to depart because it was waiting for me who in turn was waiting for her, which might take forever. Because I was receiving mixed signals from her that I was struck in indecision. The lyrics of the “Baka Kailangan” of Hapipaks was passed back to her:
Magpapaalam na ba?
O susubukan pa?
Ngunit kaya pa ba?
I was puzzled over the anonymous question of the current “askers” on Ask.fm. I really hoped the one that was asking was her. I really hoped that her “Let’s date” was for me, as well as the other ambiguous yet loaded posts of her. That led me to nowehere. Being indirect proved ineffective. I just now wanted a moment of truth. I missed her like crazy.
It was now up to her. As shy as I am, I was only able to confess through here. If she tells me to remain as a friend, I would do so. If she tells me to be an elder brother to her, I would do so. If she tells me to pursue her, I would do so, even if it will take me forever. The buck is now on her.
To formally wrap it up, for her – Marie Christelle Joyce C. Alava -, here is the translation of IU’s Heart:
If I burst out into laughter, it’s you
If I slump down, it’s you
If I’m holding something back, it’s you
If there is a ringing, it’s you
As I look at you
I let out a hot breath
Feeling like I’m hurt
Is because of you
It’s alright if you don’t know
Or if you don’t find me
It’s just that small light that won’t go out
Is twinkling and living right here
It lives forever
I can’t take my eyes off of you
So all day, my eyes hurt
Is because of you
It’s alright if you don’t answer me
Or if you don’t comfort me
It’s just that small light that won’t go out
Is twinkling and living right here
If everything in the world dies and reborns
If I grow old again
This heart won’t have any wrinkles
It’s twinkling and living right here
It lives forever
It lives forever