It is your birthday again. And with that thought crossing my mind, as if it was a metal bleep on my brain, I scrambled for your photos again…back in our days in the Kalayaan Residence Hall…to the Geografilm festival…to our dates…to our separate excursions on Makiling…and to the days of the end.
Like you said before, the photos are much different from reality. I can’t help but relate to that especially when people gave the same remarks for me. Our proctor during the board exams also made the same remark as she compared my appearance in my passport photo – which looked like a mug shot – to my actual facial expression. I guess, just like those remarks, people are different from what’s on the surface.
I typically have a gloomy expression, which figuratively represented the battle scars of my past, riddled with emotional distraught. I was mistaken once as a suspicious person in the San Francisco airport and I underwent a humiliating full-body inspection, as well as a paraffin test. I can’t help it. It was pretty cold out there and I was shivering considerably, which can be easily mistaken as nervousness…unless I was reading my ‘instructions’.
People have their own first impressions on other people. First impressions are the toughest ones to overcome. I have mistaken you as a promdi. I think that you have mistaken me as a socially awkward person. Such a hard impression to overcome! Oops. I was just really a socially awkward person. But still, other people can’t believe that such a person like me has undergone many love stories over a short period of time.
Tears flowed across my cheek as I remember that yours was the greatest love story that I’ve had, although it was the most tragic. Even though you were my downfall, you were still the best thing that happened to me. Just like in the Awit ni Maria Clara in the movie Jose Rizal(1998): pinagbigkis kang ligaya at lupit (You are rapture and sorrow combined). I never felt so alive when I was with you, experiencing the most vivid of emotions. If one could compare things molded by time, then it would be apparent on how I changed drastically up to the present. There is no more light of hope for an emotional and romantic redemption in my eyes again. I was already dead inside.
Not all the love stories are the ones where I was on the receiving end of the pain. Not all of them ended in rejection. I just thought that maybe it was all karma. Or maybe it was just a consequence of being someone who they look up to. As I was with the heaven-and-earth stories where I was thinking that there was no way in hell for that girl to love me back, looking back at my pathetic self, maybe they were confused whether I was sincere or not, given that there were baseless rumors on which I was a womanizer. I don’t even know how to approach or acquaint with women in the first place!
Like how I was telling you that you were the most beautiful girl in my eyes, my colleagues were telling me that I was good-looking. spills milk And maybe indeed that I buried my self-esteem in place of yours. I just couldn’t believe them. I couldn’t even flaunt my achievements for I’ve always felt that I was not appreciated, given the setbacks and letdowns that I’ve experienced. I am still thinking that every merit that I’ve earned were all just illusions, because even so, I can’t even get the simple things that I’ve wanted.
Deep inside, I was really disappointed that I couldn’t get into the faculty of UP despite applying twice. It only fueled my mother’s annoying prejudice that it was all because of my principles that I couldn’t land on a job (forgetting that I turned down some offers from the other employers). Now, they were making me choose between my life of privilege and my principles. Ever since in the past, my parents have been using that to blackmail me into compromise into doing what they wanted. Now, they wanted me to abandon those principles by wanting me to be part of the impunity, the apathy, the fanaticism, the selfishness, and the social cancer. I would rather die or live a life of poverty than to accept into being part of the ills of society.
I was rejected from the job at the time when I needed it the most. Maybe, I was just disillusioned by the recommendations and encouragements of my colleagues and mentors. The disparity between their expectations and encouragements to the results fuel the paranoia that everything was just a sham. Maybe, my plan to fade into the sideline and getting closer to Telle-chan was not meant to be. Now, even so, I have to wade through hardships and possibly a life of poverty, I will finish my MS in Civil Engineering, then immediately pursue a doctorate, preferably in Japan. And if eligible, I will take up law after. I will take on what I’ve refused to undertake when I was an undergraduate: be serious in academics (since I will be gunning for a scholarship now, that my life of privilege would for sure be gone) and participate in politics (It was my childhood dream: the highest position in the land).
I am aware that it will be a lonely path. I may have to embrace loneliness for the path ahead will be bleak as a desert. As I elevate myself into a higher standing, even though it might seem that I would be having everything, I know that I will be gaining nothing at all. I already resigned to this fate. Not everybody can be happy, so to the very least and on an oxymoron, I would be glad to carry the burden of others by being on the shorter end of the stick of happiness. It is not an act of sacrifice, to garner sympathy or pity, as if they were using those concepts to actually comfort themselves and assert their superficial worth, but rather an act of unconditional love and empathy towards humanity that only asks for understanding and appreciation so that it will carry through unhindered. I have already given up on myself. That is why this time, I’ve been trying to distance myself from others, because I knew that I might self-destruct or that they might get burned when they come too close. Afraid of giving them misery in the future, I rejected many romantic advances.
It is not only because of my apparent fate that I turned down people, but also because of what I might do to them which would cause them pain. As you have concluded in the past, I’m not a boyfriend material. I was so much stick to the mud on reason, logic, and principles. That characteristic is what turned me into a monster who couldn’t understand the emotion of others. I would never compromise to some irrational and illogical quirks of relationships. I don’t just concede into doing what they wanted. I always ask for reasonable justifications. You know girls and therefore even you can conclude that I would not fit into a typical romantic relationship.
I would go overboard sometimes. Despite popular misconceptions, I did have a girlfriend at various points in my life, and I failed miserably in doing my duties as her significant other. When being introduced to her friends, I could be very awkward. Being a rational guy, I hated irrational quirks or mood swings, even though it was her wanting more attention and affection. Finally, I couldn’t handle fits of jealously. When it is my turn to be jealous, I could say words that would hurt her real bad.
The disparity between my expectations and reality made me skeptical. The wounds from the past made me self-conscious. In the end, I became a guy who never accepts everything in face value. I always try to get the meaning of their actions, if there is any ulterior motive lurking behind or those were out of sympathy or pity, which I really hate. But I keep my conclusions to myself. It is obvious that people will immediately deny it. Remember when we were asked whether we were dating or not. Out of reflex of avoiding embarrassment and anything conclusive, I denied it, even pointing out your thin mustache as I told them that you have a thicker one than mine, therefore there was “no way in hell”. Regretting that blunder, I never shove my moustache since then. Other than that practice, I also kept the same phone number for the last seven years, struggling with a false hope that you would call someday.
I guess that most people don’t want to be found out – on what they think or what they feel. I also share the same sentiment for I kept covering up my tracks in order to not be found out on what I am feeling. But even though, at some times, I wanted to be found out and have what I feel revealed, that person couldn’t still see them. Being a self-conscious monster, I can’t get to understand the feelings of others. I was in the dark for a very long time. I was searching for an answer for a very long time already. I lost most of the hope at one point of my life, because of that bitch Sh***a, who denied all the moments with her that I once treasured as if the warmth that she gave me was a lie all along. She was even pestering me now to delete my write-up on what happened because it exposed her ill deeds. She was even threatening me to being reported “sexual harassment” and “libel”, just for writing a story of falling in love with the wrong girl, whose name was not even mentioned, even though in reality, it should be a story of a girl who wronged me. You know, as a psych graduate, on how helpful it was to have an outlet of thoughts and emotions. But that bitch just wanted to keep my mouth shut to bury the wrong that she has done. With that kind of selfishness and malice being directed to me, I stopped trusting girls.
I was wondering if I were to be truthful and reveal what I was thinking whether somebody would finally understand me and share the burden of holding on what I was battling. I must gather my courage to reveal my suppositions to separate what was speculated from reality. If I were to open up, would others follow suit?
First love was always doomed to fail. Mine was a tragic one. I never had a good first impression on love in the first place because of that tragic first love. I fell in love to the most unlikely person that I would fall in love to…my number one adversary. She was treating me as the enemy of all women. Soon, that bickering turned into developing, as I developed romantic feelings for her. But that girl fell in love to my bestfriend who also fell for her. I had to give way for them. Love for me since then was an impossible feat.
The second one was a lot worse. I was her class’ common enemy and she was the girlfriend of the biggest bully on my school. For two years, I was only looking from afar. There were times that I had to perform social suicides just to prevent people who were inching closer to the truth from finding out. I’ve hurt more hearts unknowingly because of that second love. Years later, she suffered teenage pregnancy and she had to start off a family at a young age. The worse was that her husband was my neighbor’s cousin. I still get to see her at my neighbor’s special events, slapping me with memories that I wanted to forget.
The third one was the most special one. It was due to spark – love just be one touch. She was the only girl that gave me permission to officially court her. Our relationship was an erratic one. I overlooked simple signs that it was already mutual. And I squandered my chance badly. That girl brought tremendous change in me, as well as a 3-year clinical depression. I think that you know already why I wrote only a handful about this girl whom you were very familiar with.
The next one was due to the teasing of our class. I gave that girl sketches of her, poems, and songs. I thought that I was just ticking her off all those times. It was until that she was intoxicated that I got to see the other side of the coin, the sign of hope. However, I no longer knew what to do at this stage. We drifted apart as time passed. She sought me a week before she would be immigrating to the United States, to bid her goodbye. That was when I knew that it was another chance squandered.
The next one was a former colleague of mine whom I found out commuting on the same route as mine. The mornings were given a new purpose as I began to wake up early just to wait for her at the convenience store. Weeks after, we began to almost endlessly chat online. She had been wanting to have webcam conversation most of the times. I always declined, even though I would get to see her beautiful face if I accepted her requests. She then invited me to dates, but due to misfortune, I never got to be on the appointed time and place, not only one but thrice. We were both disappointed to the same person…me. Naturally, we drifted apart. Months later, she finally had a boyfriend And that boyfriend of hers always feels threatened by my existence. He acquainted with me just to keep me in check. But unknown to him, I gave up – for I knew that I squandered my only chance back then – already and now has her as a source of inspiration – on longer a romantic interest. The couple is constantly switching between being friends and being lovers, either because they still love each other or because their relationship was only platonic in the first place. It rings a few bells in you, does it?
Oh! I forgot that there was another one that I omitted in the chronology of events…between the third and the fourth. It never developed into having a love interest because of the commendable courage of that girl to be honest. That girl was the only one whom I went with in an official date. I realized how much socially awkward I was on that date. At the end of that date, I confessed, but she turned me down, revealing that she has a suitor that she would be giving her yes to. If all girls were like that, then there would be no more tormenting misunderstandings. Up to this day, they are still lovers. I can look at them with a smile and a full support.
The next one was a childhood friend of mine who became a beauty queen and a class valedictorian. Beauty and brains. She had a boyfriend at the time we got to know each other again. It was around the height of my depression…when I lost appetite into seeking relationships. She initially played with my heart as she used me to mediate when she was on bad terms with her boyfriend. I hoped and misunderstood. What was new to that?! After that fiasco, I was resolved to treat her like a younger sister only.
Meanwhile, I never thought that I would have a goddess ass my next love interest. She was the one that the late football varsity player Rogie Maglinas has been pestering me about. She joined the sports club that I’ve founded. I never thought that her attention would be fixed to me at one point. Even I had doubts whether the events that transpired between us were true. After she broke up with her then-boyfriend, she asked me to teach her billiards for the whole semestral break. All those times, I kept telling to myself that there was no way in hell. She was from the noble upper class of society, while I viewed myself as a pathetic and socially-awkward plebian. She was getting aggressive with her advance which freaked me out for I was experiencing it for the very first time. She wanted to introduce me to her dad. She treated me meals and I hitched rides on her car. “No way in hell.” It was not that I don’t like her but the incompatibility of our socio-economic status and features had been whispering like a devil to do this idiotic act to actually turn her down, by handling her my very first cue stick which had a written confession to somebody else. That day that I gave it to her was the day that she was about to bring me to her apartment. I played the dense card, and executed the idiotic act, and alighted immediately. I still get cringes when I remember those moments. I hope that those were all lies.
During those times was the time that I was acting as a confidant to that childhood friend of mine who finally broke up with her boyfriend after she couldn’t give what her boyfriend then was asking. I didn’t see her as a romantic interest anymore at that time and I was just acting as her friend. But she confessed her feelings later on…as what happened typically to “bridges”… and she proposed that we should be lovers. Thinking that I turned down the goddess, this would be a good consolation prize. Our relationship had the blessing of both of my clan and her clan, which were both political clans. Since, it was my first time being a boyfriend, I don’t know how to act one as distance and jealousy brought ill to the relationship. When I started to hope again, it quickly crumbled into pieces. Up to this day, her clan is still pestering me to win her back.
The one that the childhood friend became jealous of came after. She was the first love that I mentioned earlier, reunited after 4 years. She felt that she was responsible for the heartbreak that I was then having. She consoled me. I thought maybe that I should rekindle my love for her. I tried to teach myself to love her again. But it was hindered by her frequent comparisons and doubts on my chivalry, the only thing that endured after being heartbroken many times. I felt that I was being treated as a slave, being taken for granted. I gave up and decided that she and I would remain as friends. We frequently hang out even though I don’t feel anything for her.
It hurts me to be writing this because I knew that gradually I was becoming the malefactor that hurts hearts. I became the person that I hated. I was in contemplation whether I would be presenting the cruel reality than the sweet lie. If this piece will finally bring close to that pain and even though it will hurt me, I would continue writing my part. I always kept up a front in order to not hurt others or sometimes myself. That girl after five years summoned the courage to confess. I acted dense and shrugged off that confession. I was thinking whether I did the right thing or it was better to have rejected her. If there was a way to spare them from the pain even though that pain would be redirected to me, I would do so. I found myself using the sophistry that I used to hate.
My business with the goddess was not yet over at that time, I guess. I realized that they were not at all that unreachable and actually they can be fond to a person if that person overcame social barriers and had actually the courage to talk to them. I first met the next girl in this chronology when I invited her out of the blue to play bowling together. To my surprise, she beat me. That gave me an idea to have an all-student team participate in a bowling tournament that UP employees dominate, since they require at least one girl per team. We bowled every night. I got to know her mother and her older sister who pulled some match-making strings on us. But before I knew it, I got too much absorbed in my athletic life both in billiards and bowling. We drifted apart. I was now the one who became inaccessible. Wait? Did I just imouto-zone this girl?
Since that side of me stripped me of my chances for romance, I naturally found one on the other side, on my coursemates. That girl looked like a pretty anime character peculiarly. I was attracted to her when our eyes met. However, it was the shortest love story to date, she just began dating with somebody else.
The one who managed to break that inaccessibility was a member of mine in the bowling club. My members set me up with her, who had a crush on me. Actually, that girl was my teammate’s former girlfriend and I ended up ruining their reconciliation. It was like when I had my first love, but unlike that time, I was the one who didn’t get the shorter end. We dated for week. However, a streak of jealousy ruined our relationship…because of me being jealous to her gay friend. Her gay friend! I ended up saying hurtful words to her, which I think has put her on the dumps. I immediately regretted it. However, I can no longer undo what I’ve done. I failed to articulate it that time but that jealous fit of mine was caused by a reopening of the wound from the past misunderstanding…that if she’s kind to me, then she’s just being kind to everybody.
The fear of those misunderstandings, overthinking, and overreliance to reason and logic have turned me into a monster that wrecks havoc in the hearts of people. I was becoming even more villainous. However, at the same time, I was becoming more aware of the things that I’ve done. The guilt was still tormenting me. However, I still have to put up an oblivious façade and act strong. Sorry, I’ll be cutting this write-up short to get to my current dilemma. I promise to write the rest on a later date.
The problem is that I don’t know who I am in love to. I am torn between three persons: Telle-chan, Everybody’s friend, and my climbing buddy. The turmoil started in February last year. I was already losing hope on Telle-chan. In fact, deep inside, I gave up already. I was falling again to the everybody’s friend, especially that we were meeting more often that month. That was why I conferred to my climbing buddy that I fall in love because of the moments that we shared. The more I have those moments, the more that I was at ease with the love that I was carrying on. Telle-chan has put me on the dark for a long time already…scrambling on what might possibly her thoughts and her motives of not rejecting me despite the confessions that I was making.
I don’t know if you were aware of it, because it also happened when we were together, but my greatest weakness in pursuing romance was: the crowd. I don’t make romantic advances when there were eyes on us. That was what happened with the Everybody’s friend. Her org was the biggest fence that I wasn’t able to overcome. It was after spending moments with my climbing buddy at Nagsasa Cove that I also began to fell for her. But right after that was the time that Telle-chan posted her drawing of the person that totally looked like me.
Now, I am confused. It was tearing me apart. That wild notes before the final exam. That ask.fm question that I denied asking. I am really confused. It is tormenting me.
To search for peace, I went with my friends and acquaintance to the mountainous coastline of Mabini, Batangas. Judging from the topography, it was unfitting to name it after Mabini for the terrain was too difficult for the likes of Mabini. Jokes aside, being named after one of the greatest Filipino intellectuals of all time is a great honor to be bestowed on that town. We went there to break a leg…a este…indulge ourselves over the sceneries as we make ascent to Mt. Gulugod Baboy, which was my easiest climb to date.
It was not enough to have my heart skip a beat… not only the climb and the descent themselves but also the events that came after. I was becoming close into becoming emotionally dead. I recall Hikigaya Hachiman’s three nevers of the unpopular: never to hold (hope), never to open (your heart), and never to treasure (sweet words). I recalled the same instance when I met Telle-chan by chance on my hang-out place in UP Diliman the previous Monday. Nothing brewed in my emotional state…or is it just the crowd playing a part again. I kept murmuring to myelf that she was the one that I fell to as if my mind is trying to resuscitate my dead heart that has given up.
I recall Jose Rizal’s word as I stare on the lonely waters of the Batangas shores: “between mountains where my sole companion was the sea, seemingly a vast pool of ink for a writer who has lost the spirit to write. Maybe I was at fault, for my goals are those of a poet. They are like waves, surfacing one second, receding the next…goals that can never be captured.” I am on the verge of giving up, wanting to throw away everything, because the Filipinos remained indifferent to the tragedy that awaits them despite my pleas. It makes me want to look after myself and pursue the possible “dulce extranjera” who was with me at the moment. That opportunity was just there.
Yet, I could not find the opportune moment to say so, to tell that girl that I was the one who asked to be the one for her and that deep inside. I deeply wished to live a simple life with the person that I would be cherishing the most instead. I was the one who told that I would be embracing my loneliness for the rest of my life. As impossible as my poetic dreams, loneliness will always be my companion as well as my tormentor.
On our way home from Batangas, I had yet another glimmer of fool’s hope, hoping that I would get another moment if I were to walk her home. But unfortunately, we would be going separate ways. We walked past the Five Star Cubao Station. My last meeting with you was what sprang out from my memories. I let out a bitter smile as I went on another way from her and I went over the pedestrian overpass, recalling on how we used to walk past there. This time, I was going to confess…but…nevermind. Six years ago, we walked together in this overpass. Now, I was walking alone. Maybe, hitori was the fate has prepared for me. Futari was not my thing.
Even so, I would try to confess to her one last time on the Valentine’s day coming next month. I’ll write later to you the other details as well as the rest of the chronology. As for now, that’s it.