(I) I remember…how you and I loved to play actual fighting scenes that we adopted from the movie series “Beast Wars” after class hours in our elementary years. Back in the days, we enjoyed the company of the enormous school plaza filled with green grass, like we were moving tiny white dots within the big green circle. I was Cheetor and you were Rattrap and some others played their parts too. We were so engrossed with our roles that we ended up shouting, fighting, running, hopping, jumping and all that we could do. You were so passionate in your character that you ended up rolling at an interval, and at one point you stopped…Stood out from the grass…. What came after was the most unexpected climax. Your shirt was marked with the dog’s mess all over your back. You were so dismayed while some of us, including me, bursted out with laughter towards the stinky smell and the unnecessary added streaks of stain which you persistently wanted to get rid of on your white uniform. You’re embarrassed.
(II) I remember…you showed up in school with a house sando and shorts, and with wrinkled face in the middle of our year-end class party. You had a heart-to-heart talk with our grade-six moderator telling him that your mother didn’t let you attend such party for whatever reason, and you only managed to escape and/or to spend a little time with us. You did the meet-and-greet thing to some of our classmates, ate some food, and talked to some friends for a little while. And then, you left. I was only relayed with your plight by ears, and watched you from afar since we weren’t in good terms back then. You’re sad and frustrated.
(III) I remember…the time when you didn’t do your homework in Science, and I shared mine with a condition that you won’t share it with our classmates, too. Well, you did for whatever reason. You broke your promise. We argued. I got angry. You were fed up, too. We became cold and we had never talked like best buddies from that day onwards until we had separate lives in high school, which we could barely meet by chance. Not until that one fateful day, we rode at the same jeepney. I attempted to reach out again, but I later found out that I was nicely talking to the air. You never had any reaction – not even a stare, a nod or what not. I was totally non-existent in your eyes. You’re vengeful.
(IV) I remember…the first time you finally talked to me again. We were on a transition to college, and we had to undergo application and interview with the same course and department. As freshmen, we sought guidance for the process of enrolment from the same former elementary Science teacher who had accessed with such knowledge of the university’s whereabouts. Left with no choice, we were forced to talk to each other in a conversation with our former teacher. At the passing of six summer years before this new chapter of our tertiary students’ lives, finally, we both started patching the holes of our past. It was uneasy at first, but we were able to reconnect the broken bridge of friendship. We both moved forward. You’re graceful for redeeming yourself in peace with your past.
(V) I remember…at the peak of your youth, you imbibed the character of “Dora, the Explorer” to the many quests you embarked from being carefree and wild to being adventurous and resourceful, while I was also making through in exploring my identity in the company of someone who was also on the same path as mine, and some few friends who were grounded in their academics. At some point, I even learned about you having a special someone and days that you were broken-hearted. One instance, I remember when you came to meet me at the area near my boarding house, saying that you were sad about your situation with this man you loved. While we were walking on the street, we happened to bump Julie’s Bakeshop and you bought your favorite white and ube milk bread coated with sugar and margarine. You said you didn’t have the appetite to eat it due to the recurring thoughts about your concern, and for all I knew, few minutes thereafter, I was dumfounded with the disappearance of the bread, like you were the great magician who mastered the trick of disappearing a thing in front of the audience. Such was a rare talent in you. Truthfully, you and I both chose and took different paths, but we still managed to keep in touch when we were caught on the same classes, common friends meeting, and school events. The other side of our rendezvous was in moments of despair, like a sharing time about the struggle we faced with our financial burden which both our families couldn’t fairly sustain our needs at that time. One time, you were about to stop schooling, but you were still persistent to finish all the subjects you were enrolled in. This caused your disappointment for not being able to march together with us during our graduation day. Nonetheless, you were still blessed for graduating with a degree, and that was more than enough to be in gratitude amidst your own tempest. In fact, you even got employed on the same year, and got a teaching job in one of the reputable schools in our hometown. You’re strong and fulfilled.
(VI) I remember…when you and I started officially working with our first professional job after graduating from college. With so much excitement, we fed our minds with ideas of earning and getting our salaries and of finally having the chance to sustain our needs and to help each of our families. It was rewarding to enjoy such independence from the labor of our sweat to have that hard-earned money. Occasionally, when we received our salaries, we enjoyed the company of eating at Mang Inasal with unlimited rice to feed our hungry stomach voraciously. Asking for more rice was like in a classroom recitation where we had to raise our hands to answer, which was on this case, to be noticed so we could get another cup of rice. Funny, but true enough, I could finish 7 cups of rice in one seat, and for the record, you could finish 5. By the time we were full, we could barely get out from our seat, and all we wanted was to sleep. Sometimes, we also became busy with our career that we could barely meet in days and weeks, and we could only do so much by texting or calling each other via phone. At one point, we had the chance to eat out and talked after the many long weeks of not seeing each other that we ended up sharing a lot of stories. And, only to find out at the end, no one was responding nor reacting. We both were doing all the talking at the same time until we regretfully thought none of us was listening at all to each of our several tales. It was a stupid thing to do, but it was the most comforting by simply feeling the presence of each other. In fact, this incidence was behind the inspiration of assigning roles as listener and sharer and of setting our agenda in the many meetings we had. You and I started to evolve as we entered early adult life stage. You’re mature with sense of responsibility.
(VII) I remember…when you and I had to talk about our career path. I decided to end my second-year contract at work and to resign from my job in Ateneo which consequently, I told you that I had to save money as much as I could for the transition. It was all my plan and you thought you might consider it, too. Little did I know that with your when-you-are-thrown-in-the-water-even-without-knowing-how-to-swim-you-eventually-learn-to-use-your-intinct-to-survive kind of personality, you ended up being in Manila earlier than my planned departure. Such was an irony which only you made possible. You did manage with no or little preparation, and I couldn’t move on; I was in total amazement how you dealt to be in Manila with such will. You only had enough clothing and personal stuff, but not cash which might not sustain you for the comings days. However, you were confident enough that your high school classmate would accommodate you and would help you out to settle initially. You’re willful and resilient with high survival instinct.
(VIII) I remember…how you struggled finding a job in Manila after your many attempts in your employment application. At one instance, you visited me in Quezon City, and shed some tears on my shoulder for the pressure you felt with time, finance, and work responsibility. That was also the down-sided moment of your life. By the time, both of us were settling to find a job. We were lucky enough from the generosity of my good friend -who later became your friend, too- for accommodating you to stay with us, which at first, I was totally hesitant with my fear that our relationship might not work well if we had to stay in one roof because of our personality dynamics at play when I seriously thought and considered the opposite behavior we had towards some serious matters. You finally accepted the offer with my consent, too, since it was your best option so far for getting your prospective call center job that’s near Cubao. You got hired, but it was just the beginning of your story. Working on a night shift was tough for you. You had to skip some invitations from our housemates just to compensate your sleeping hours. Sometimes, you would get irritated from us for the sound of loud laughter while you were cooped into your own silent room recuperating. Aside from your work, pressure also came from your responsibility to support your family financially, from your personal obligation at the apartment with our shared duty of bill payments and cleanliness, and from your health and lifestyle which made you worried, but mindful to deal with your heart problem accordingly while maintaining a balance between your work life and your health issue. You couldn’t afford to stop working since it’s all your “bread and butter” above all things. Looking back, you have been in the same company for many years now, and I am proud that you have accomplished some notable achievements like being an asset to the line of business of your account and for getting promoted as a coach, while I am still on my quest in finding my rightful place somewhere. Our lives in the Metro have carried the most meaningful experiences we have had in the face of all realities surrounding us. Our life struggle is true, and it goes on. You’re successful as your ladder of success, along with failure, still continues to unfold…
(IX) I remember…the night you came home with your teary, red eyes and your soaking-bad look from the rainwater, and how you endured yourself to be in the coldness and darkness of time while waiting for that man, whom you were so fond of, at the gate of their house. You were so in love with that man that you ended up losing yourself. Another man from Bataan reminded me of you running away from his home for some reasons. You had little or enough from your pocket when you went to Bataan with him and you had to call and asked me to send you money so you could go back to QC not wanting to ever return at that man’s home. The same man reminded me of the rabbit you once had and left unattended that it died in heat suffocation. Apart from those two men, there was this man who came into your life where you shared childish connection, yet lovingly sweet for being a dog and a cat on the run for attention with each other. I also met the man, your friend at work, who fell in love with you, but you couldn’t reciprocate the same intention as his. Those were notable men you had in your life that reminded me of your love stupidity. You’re gregarious with high, free spirit to love and be loved.
(X) I remember…the day when you made me cry at the airport on my way to Saudi for my overseas work. I had no idea you would surprise me with a video in my netbook reminiscing our old days, both captured and uncaptured from the presentation, like stealing your 500-ml Mountain Dew after finishing mine, eating your all-time-good-cook Pancit Canton you bragged about, provoking a petty fight for the fast eating of our favorite Nangka, being my map when I had to go somewhere, being my number-one fan of my jokes, sarcasm and stupidity, listening to my family problems, love stories, naughty escapades and random ideas and deep thoughts, being used to hear from other people saying that you and I were lovers, above all and beyond, being my company when I had to deliver my farewell letter and stuff to the man I once fell in love with, that I needed someone to guide me with my overwhelming emotion, where in amidst this face-off encounter, you had the chance to talk to this man on my behalf, of which this man said that the pain I felt was the same pain he saw from your eyes. On the other hand, with countries apart, our separation and distance gave us the chance to detach from our sense of dependency to each other and to accommodate some changes and directions in our own lives. On your later tale-tell, with my absence, you confessed me that you were able to immerse yourself traveling with old friends, attending formal gatherings invited by some of your workmates, building new connection with some buddies, meeting someone who had been with you through the years of my absence, and achieving financial independence on your own. Such became your coping mechanism, and gladly, it had a positive impact on you. For the time being, we also faced the darkest day of our long distant friendship leading to a question and doubt of mutual trust and confidence. For some time, we became silent, far, and cold with each other. While you were on the verge of your transition with the life you built with some friends, I also grounded myself on the culture of Arabs while making sense of my personal revolutionary perspective I had with my self-introspection, and accommodating new-found friends in the unfamiliar area of the Arabian desert. We both found new breed of lives with little knowledge about what was happening to each of our separate lives. Test by our friendship’s misunderstanding, it was also the time that I had to make decision to let you go for reason you and I knew, like the story of seeing ourselves together growing old same as the two old couple men we saw once at Alimall, was not meant to come true as its idea slowly faded and buried in the void of nothingness. I was willing to move on. You’re despondent and demotivated.
(XI) I remember…when you and I met again after almost two years and a half of not seeing each other. From my end of contract in Saudi, you visited me in Cavite, and we finally had the chance to reunite and connect with the stories of our own lives too distant from each other. We spent almost half the day talking to fill the gaps of the lost time. We saw each other transformed; Our stories mirrored how changed men we became. I had my story centered on how I achieved new life insights totally different from the ones you knew before. You were carrying some notable baggage which you couldn’t express to me comfortably, and another one which you had the will to share. It’s about someone whom you had mutual feelings with, yet confused about the label you had for your relationship. Significantly, there was also closure made on the connection crisis we had. We were able to here final words with each other which we found wisdom and acceptance from the incidence. And so, we moved forward and left our past behind and started another beginning. You’re hopeful with eyes looking forward.
(XII) I remember…after I went for vacation in Zamboanga for a family reunion and went back to Manila , you had to accommodate me in your rented flat while I was trying to apply for another job abroad even though I had some hard time figuring out what I really wanted to do with my life. There was one day, with my recent stay at your place; We were both lying down on each couch. I was sleeping while you were on your silence, yet your mind was open and you were awake. Suddenly, I saw you in my dream, and intentionally woke up looking for you. I caught you crying in your silence. I tried to console you and you started to say that you might have wasted your life all these years. You hated yourself and you started questioning if there was something wrong with yourself that people around you had to treat you in a manner you were not comfortable with, and you wanted to make something productive about your life, yet you couldn’t find the motivation to act upon your intention. And, you added that you were shouting my name silently in my sleep, and consequently I heard your silent cry in my dream. For that moment of shedding tears in pain at the cold and dark room while I was listening, you were pacified. In the same way, you also witnessed me in the worst days of finding my direction in life. You saw how much I struggled in making sense of my career path, and I tried to work on it, but still, all efforts were in vain. You were reaching me out, but you felt there’s little you could do for me. At one point, I even felt that after some time you and I were staying together in one roof, we became complacent with our connection under some circumstances. Sometimes, you and I failed to get support from each other. We had so much on each of our plates. You had yours as much as mine. For a time, I shut people down, and lost track with my life. You could tell that more than anyone else could. My feeling depressed overpowered my thinking-not-good-enough thoughts. Afraid that I might get stuck and crazy, I decided to get a job in a BPO to keep me going and to buy some time until I could get back on my feet. You were there to listen and to let me feel your presence, even sometimes, you couldn’t understand me. You’re sincere with your hands, mind and heart reaching out kindness.
(XIII) I remember…you for expressing that you wanted to see me happy one day in the rightful place where I truly belonged because I only deserved the best in life. Such was a powerful empathy for wishing me that deep and for understanding what I was going through. Until recently, I have started regaining my spirit and decided to resign at my work with some plans that might take us apart again. You also respected my decision and accommodated some transition needed for my next step. And so, I told you that this time, I was ready to embark in a journey again. There’s so much things life has taught us both lately, and for what its worth, we can only do so much in making sense of the experiences manifested before us. I got motivated again. You’re energized with the will to carry on.
(XIV) I remember…but NOW – the moment to relive and savor the gentle touch of meaningful memories we have shared through the years, while putting those stories into writing. More than anything else, I’d like to remember you through this masterpiece with the gift of words worthy enough to make you remember the person you always are and the man you have become. We may not know where each of our lives could lead us or if we could still share wonderful experiences together, but we can always carry this indelible imprint of yourself to my being in the same way mine to yours. That is enough reason to be in gratitude with the Universe and the Greater Energy that surround us at all times. May we look back to those marks and spots if there is such an inevitable calling to do so when we are in the road of perdition, and may each of our two feet remain grounded moving with steps, both small and big alike, forward, and with hope to cross-path with each other’s footprints again, as we trail the highways and the alleys of life’s directions, rough or smooth alike. You’re ready as much as I am.
Through the years…
Always remember, my friend, that I remember…not everything, but YOU. #6/16/2016