Sa Kanya – Chapter 4 to Chapter 7

004

“Chu, tama ba to?”

“Alin?”

“Yung.. tungkol kay-”

“Kay Ralph ba?  Anu ka ba no? Ikaw yung nakipagbreak noon sa kanya, so okay lang iyan. Mas awkward kapag ikaw yung nasa lagay ni Ralph..” 

“Ang alin?”

“Yung like ikaw, eto ha, wedding planner ka, but let’s make it.. hmm, ikaw yung brinekan ni Ralph noon, tapus pmunta siya sa iyo ngayon and ask you to be his wedding planner, eh syempre, yooon, insulto yun sa part mo.”

“Ahhhh…”  “Hindi ko gets.”

“Lokaret ka naman Mariel eh. Ayos lang talaga yan.. maliban nalang kung-”

“Ano ka ba, wala na noh. 3 years na kaya. Tagal na nun.”

“O eh anu naman problema mo diyan? 3 years naman pala eh.”

“Well, hayyy. Nevermind.”

“That’s really really okay dear sister.”

“Whatever.”

Ewan ko nga ba bakit parang ako yung na-iilang sa thought na magpapakasal na siya. Seriously, it’s not like I still love him or anything as such, siguro hindi lang talaga ako makapaniwala that he’s now getting married. I mean, marriage never really occurred to my mind – not a single thought for 3 years now. I never even thought of getting married in the future to just anyone. It’s just weird kasi siguro when I was younger, all I could think of marrying in the future was Ralph, and it’s a shocker to know that he’s marrying someone I don’t even know.

Anyway anyway, just bear with me. I’m still surprised kasi.. as in, really. O_O

“Yes, pwede na nating macheck yung flowers ngayon, Kath.”

“Talaga? Edi icheck na natin.”

Hindi naman halatang excited siya. Napatingin sakin si Ralph and just smiled. Oo na, sanay na ako sa mga ganyan.

So ayun, we went to the flower shop and checked all the flowers.

“Wow, gusto ko yung tulips, Ralph. What do you think?”

“Yeah, looks good.” Aw, typical groom-to-be answer.

“How about you Yel? What do you want?”

“Well, most of my clients go for roses and tulips. Hyacinths are also nice… yung ibang clients kasi namen, they personally order their choice of flowers outside the country.”

“Wow. But we can’t do that. That will take  a lot of time, diba?”

“Yes, Kath.”

“Hmm, how about we just settle with this flowers nalang hun?” sabi ni Ralph kay Kathleen.

Hun? He called her ‘hun’? Akala ko ba he doesn’t like being called or calling the significant other as ‘hun’?  Oh well, people change, ika nga.

“Oo nga naman no. Ano nga ulit yun, Yel?”

“Pardon?”

“Your personal choice?”

“M-my personal choice?”

“Yeah.”

“Hmm, I dont think dapat kong sabihin but regarding to-”

“No, no. I really want your personal choice.”

“Ahh, ganun ba.. hmm, I’d actually go for tulips.”

“Wow, tulips. Sige, sige, tulips and roses nalang yung main flowers, then yung sa iba, ikaw na yung bahala magdecide, okay?”

“Okay.”

After the flower shop, dumiretso na kami sa shop for the wedding gown. So kinuha na namin yung size niya and everything else, ganun din naman yung kay Ralph.

“Well, ano nga naman ba ang mawawala satin kung susundin natin yung tradisyun diba?”

“Pero totoo kaya yun?” Nag-uusap sila tungkol sa superstitious belief na di daw matutuloy yung kasal kapag sinuot ng bride yung gown niya before the wedding at kapag nakita siya ng groom niya.

“I personally don’t believe in that. Some of my clients naman Kath, nagfifit ng wedding gowns nila before the wedding at natutuloy naman yung kasal. Siguro nasa determinasyon lang talaga yan ng ikakasal. Kapag nasa tama siyan kaisipan, for sure, magpapakasal talaga yan.”

“May point ka diyan, Mariel.” Tumawa siya ng mahina. “Anyway, how’s Ralph ba nung college kayo?”

Oh shooot. Ba’t kailangan pa itong itanong?

“Well, sabi ko nga dati, hindi kami masyadong nagkasama ng matagal kasi naman nung first year ako, graduating na siya.”

“Pero sabi niya, kahit graduate na daw sya noon, you guys still hang out with each other.”

“I guess he’s still the same Ralph.. like kung ano siya nung nakilala mo siya, ganun din naman siya siguro dati.”

“Safe answer naman iyan eh.”

“Haha! Okay. Well, he’s really funny back then. Yung tipong, corny yung jokes. Like, kahit di nakakatawa, matatawa ka nalang kasi nakikita mo yung effort niya na magpatawa. Something like that.”

“Really?”

“Hindi niya ba iyan nadala ngayon?”

“Ay hinde! Masyadong seryoso at tahimik. Especially nung magkasama kami sa hospital dun sa LA, lagi lang siyang nasa sulok at ayaw makipag-usap samen.”

“Eh naging kayo naman eh, kaya okay na yan.”

“Hindi eh, parang.. kasi noon, I heard ganun daw sya kasi yung significant other naiwan dito sa bansa, kaya daw ganun. Depressed. And whenever I ask him kung sino or magkwento naman sya tungkol sa kanila, natatameme yung lokong iyan.”

“Naku naman, Kath. Sabi nga nila, ‘past is past’.”

“I know that naman, but diba, dapat maging open kami sa isa’t-isa before we get married.”

“Right.. pero siguro naman hindi na kailangan iyang iopen diba?”

“Kungsabagay.. pero nung college ba kayo, may kilala kang-”

“Wala, Kath. Hindi kami ganun kaclose eh.”

“Ahhh..”

“Okay, ayan. I got everything na. Final na to ha? Tomorrow, we’ll work on your wedding dress na kaagad.”

“Yeah, thanks Mariel.”

“No problem.”

Lumabas kami ng dressing room and I saw Ralph sitting at the couch. Si Kath pinaiwan ni Clara kasi tatapusin pa daw yung gusto niyang style ng sequins sa gown. So pumunta ako kay Ralph to check things out.

“Lanie, tapos na ba dito si Sir?”

“Hindi pa Miss Yel. Tatapusin ko muna to.”

“Okay.” I looked at him. “Sandali lang ha, tatapusin muna yung nauna.”

“Sure, sure. Walang problema.”

Tumalikod na ako at hahakbang na sana papunta sa office ko when Ralph said something.

“You don’t regret anything, right?”

“I’m sorry?” I faced him.

“You have a very great career.” He looked around and smiled softly at me. “I hope you’re happy as I am right now.” FIRE IN THE HOLE. Tagos yun ah.

“Yeah, this is everything I’ve wanted. I am extremely happy and contented.”

“Then that’s great to hear, Mariel.”

“Thanks.” I smiled awkwardly and walked away.

Napaupo ako sa table ko and just buried my face in my hands. He didnt mean anything else right? No he didn’t, Mariel. That was just something a nice guy would tell you after breaking his heart. He’s just happy and you should be happy for him.

“Sige, Clara ha. I’ll just call you tomorrow. We’ll be here by ten am.”

“Okay, bye. Ingat kayo ha.”

Pumasok naman kaagad si Clara sa office ko. “Okay ka lang ba?”

“Yeah..”

“Seems like this one client is stressing you out. Gusto mo ako nalang humandle sa kanila?”

“No, it’s alright.”

“Sure ka ba?”

“Oo naman..”

“Kasi ako, hindi ako sure sa iyo e.”

“Clara?”

“Three years na nga ba talaga, Yel?”

“Oo naman no.”

“Hindi, what I’m trying to ask, sa three years na iyon, nakalimot ka nga ba talaga?”

 005

Ilang ulit ko ba kailangang sabihin na nakalimot na nga ako kay Ralph? Oo, we shared a lot – both good and bad times, pero tapos na iyon. We’ve moved on. He’s getting married and I’m very happy with my own career. Bakit hindi niyo iyon maintindihan? Mahirap ba talagang intindihin iyan? We all need to move on from the thought that I still have feelings for him. Okay?

“Oo, I’m on my way — hindi naman — medyo traffic lang — thank you — I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”

I’m on my way to the cake shop kasi magpapatulong na naman si Kathleen about it. Rafaellos is where I am headed. Usually kasi talaga, dun ako nag-oorder ng cake for my clients. They’re like the best in the business. They are pretty expensive but no regrets. Plus, I can get discounts there kasi we’re kinda close na ng may-ari.

I went in at the cake shop and I saw Kathleen and Ralph sitting at the couch near the coffee station of the shop. Nandun din naman yung manager ng Rafaellos.

“Ian! Good morning..” Bati ko kay Ian.

“The lovely Mariel Concepcion..” Ian greeted and beso-beso kami. “It’s good to know that you brought another client here..”

“Of course naman no. I want nothing less for them.”

“Such a very good decision.” He winked at the couple and Kath laughed. “So eto, pinapapili ko na sila ng cake na gusto nila.”

“Good morning.. Sorry I’m late. I didn’t expect na ganun ka traffic.”

“No problem.” Ralph answered. Kinuha ko naman kaagad yung catalogue.

“Nakapili na ba kayo ng cake na gusto niyo?” I asked.

“Hindi pa nga eh. I’m really having a hard time cause everything looks really great.” Kath said and made pacute to us. Kath, cut that out. T___T

“Absolutely! Yung mga clients namin, they are all having a hard time talaga kasi we have the best cakes and we have the best designs talaga.” Sabi naman ni Ian. Nagpapakabakla na. Tumawa naman kaming lahat.

“Yeah, you’ll really have a hard time choosing one for the wedding Kath. Every cake looks really nice talaga.”

“Oh well. That’s why we have you.” Sabi ni Kath. Napatingin naman ako kay Ian.

“Ian, nandiyan ba si Melanie?”

“Wala. Nasa Aussie pa siya. Oo na, may discount ka na dito.” Ian smiled.

“I love you so much!” Sabi ko naman kay Ian. Natuwa rin naman sila Kath. Nang napatingin ako sa bintana, dahan-dahan nang bumuhos ang ulan. “Early in the morning, umuulan-ulan na.”

Napatingin naman silang lahat sa bintana. “Oh well, we have to accept the reality that we live in a tropical country.” Ian said and rolled his eyes. Ngumiti lang naman yung couple.

“You know Ian, we can make this gold.. kasi yung accent nila is gold.. like everything is white and this cake should be gold.” Suggestion ko.

“Bakit naman gold?” Nabigla ata si Ian sa motif ng couple.

“Well kasi.. gold is..” Hindi ata alam ni Kath kung bakit gold yung napili niya kaya sinalo ko na.

“You know, gold symbolizes optimism. So they are very optimistic of the flow of their relationship. And also, it means success.. so success din sa wedding. Kaya nga diba yung mga nagcecelebrate ng 50th anniversaries nila, yung tawag eh golden anniversary? Kasi it’s a great achievement. And I know maaabot din nila yun.” I smiled at Kath and Ralph then I looked at Ian.

“Ohkayyy. That was something.” Ian laughed. Loka-loka talaga. “Okay, let’s go for gold. Win for the gold!” Tumawa naman kami.

“Hay nako, Ian.” I said habang tumatawa parin. “So, eto na yung design ng cake ha? We’ll just make it gold then.. okay na!”

“Yeah.”  The two agreed din naman. “O pano, mauuna na kami ni Ralph, we have somewhere to go rin naman.” Kath said. “Thank you so much Sir Ian and Miss Yel.”

“No problem..” I smiled at her and they stood up. “Uh, may payong ba kayo?” Napatingin naman bigla si Kath kay Ralph.

“Meron ba?”

“Dito ka lang, kukunin ko sa kotse.” Sabi ni Ralph. Sabay na kaming lumabas sa shop. Naghintay nalang muna kami sa entrance.

“Oh, Ian ha. Ikaw na bahala. You know how I am naman ha..”

“No problem, Mariel. Everything’s done.” He said at nagbeso-beso na kami.

Then when I looked through the door, I saw Ralph walking towards us with an umbrella on his hand. Hindi ko alam but something hit me.

“Hun, isang payong lang yung nandun eh.” He said and Kath smiled.

“Edi compress tayo..” She said.

I looked at them not knowing what to say.

“Sige, Yel, una na kami.” Ralph said and gave me a faint smile. Then ayun, they were so close at pinakasya nila yung sarili nila sa maliit na payong. I didn’t notice that something was playing on my mind as I was looking at them running through the other side of the street.

“Awww, umuulan na naman. And for the nth time, nakalimutan ko na naman yung umbrella ko.” I whined.

“Sandali, punta ako ng kotse, kukuha ako ng payong.”

“Eh mababasa ka niyan.. magkasakit ka pa.”

“Ayos lang kaysa ikaw diba?” And he would flash me that very cute smirk of his.

“Cheesy mo..”

Bigla siyang tumakbo papuntang parking lot and when he came back, basang-basa sya.

“Oh gosh. Basang-basa ka na o. Sabi na nga ba wag na kasi e.” I took out my handkerchief at pinunasan yung mukha niya.

“Hindi ko pala dala..”

“Ayan tuloy, kasi naman eh.. pag nabasa ka-“ Then he would kiss me.

“Ang ingay mo.”

“Naman eh..” I would jokingly slap him.

“Share nalang tayo sa jacket ko..”

“But-“

“Tara na..” Then he would put his jacket over our heads and we would run to his car like 7-year old little kiddos. Minsan pa, he would stop at the midway to pull me in and kiss me under the pouring rain. Siguro some of you still dreams of kissing under the pouring rain, and I promise you, keep on dreaming. Keep on waiting. It’s worth it all.

“Nice.. magkakalagnat tayong dalawa neto.” Reklamo ko.

“Well..” Then he would look me and give me that evil smirk again.. and he would pull me close again and we would probably make out or just kiss or you know just do some cute things together like he would wiggle his nose on mine. “I don’t ever want to do all of these with anyone else but you.”

I smiled at the thought.

I gathered myself up at binuksan yung payong ko. I slowly walked to my car. You have to put into your mind, good things come to an end.. to give way to better things. And yes, I am trying to convince myself that this is better compared to what I called ‘good’ before.

006

“O, san naman punta mo?” Mom asked me when she found me packing my things up. “Ilang araw ka namang mawawala?” She asked again while helping me put stuffs at my bag.

“Tagaytay lang. Overnight lang.. or maybe two days. May balak pa kasing pumunta ng Baguio if di nila magugustuhan yung Tagaytay eh.”

“Ahhh. Seems like a big person. Whose wedding is this?”

Bigla akong napatigil. “Mr. Uychiat.” Napatingin si Mom sakin – waiting for a complete name. I let out a heavy breath. “Ralph Uychiat.”

“Oh.” Sabi niya lang and continued helping me pack. “You sure you’ll be okay?”

“Mom.. It was years ago. Of course, I’m gonna be fine.”

“I know.. it’s just that-”

“I’m okay.” I smiled at her at ngumiti rin si Mama sakin.

“Since Ralph is getting married, bakit ba anak, di ka pa naghahanap ng iba?”

“What? Ang labo naman ng question mo. Parang ang labas eh, kailangan kong maghanap ng iba kasi ikakasal na si Ralph, ganun?”

“Ay, hindi naman ganyan, baby. Alam mo yun. Okay, rephrase. Bakit di ka pa maghanap?”

“Bakit naman?”

“You’re at the right age, you’re 26 na. You’re a very successful woman. Nakapundar ka na rin ng sariling pangalan. I think you should find a special someone na to complete your life.”

Napatingin ako sa kawalan at napaupo sa kama. “Hindi ko alam, Ma. I feel happy naman just being single. Tsaka sa panahon ngayon, 26 is still young no!” I giggled.

“At some point, you’re right naman.” She just agreed and continued to help me.

“Manong, di ko na dadalhin yung kotse. Sasabay na ako sa clients ko.”

“Sige po, Ma’am. Tawagan niyo na lang po kami kung may problema.”

“Manong ha, andiyan naman si Mama. If anything goes wrong, sa kanya niyo na ikonsulta.”

“Sige Ma’am. Andun na po yung taxi sa labas. Ingat po, Ma’am.”

“Sige, bye. Manang Linda, kayo na bahala ah.”

“Opo ma’am.”

Nagtaxi na ako papunta sa shop kasi baka 48 years pa akong makaabot dun kapag nagdrive pa ako. Naku no, baka basa na rin yung kili-kili ko sa stress sa traffic. Kaya eto na, afford naman ang taxi eh. Nang dumating ako sa shop, nandun na si Ralph nakaupo sa lounge.

“Good morning.” I smiled at everyone. Teka, bakit mag-isa lang ang kumag na to? Asan ang bride to be?  “Ready to go, Ralph?” I asked him.

“Yeah. Uhmm, we’re going to wait for Kath dun na sa highway.”

“Bakit?”

“I don’t know. Yan sabi niya eh. Nag out of town kasi kahapon, so dun na siya bababa.”

“Ahh, okay.” Sabi ko.

“Where are your things?”

“Nandun sa kay Manong.” Turo sa guard ng shop.

“Kunin ko na.”

“Please, thank you.” Sabi ko lang. Then biglang pumasok sa isip ko, OMG. Both of us.. alone.. for like 30minutes or 1 hour pa pag minalas sa traffic? Shit. Makaya ko kaya?

“Let’s go?” He asked.

“Clara, ikaw na bahala dito ha? Call me if anything goes wrong. Pero I’m sure naman, you can handle it na.”

“Hay naku no. Wag ka ngang pressured. Yeah, I can handle this.” She smiled. “Enjoy.”

Hinila ko siya. “Lokaret ka, anong enjoy? Di ako magbabakasyon no!” Bulong ko sa kanya.

“Yan na ba boyfriend ni Miss Yel?” Tanong ng isang client.

“No, ma’am. Client po.”

“Ahh, akala ko naman bf mo. Bagay na bagay e. Gandang-lalaki.” Sabi ni Mrs. Santos.

“Naku, hindiii.” Sabi ko. “Ma’am, we’ll go ahead na.” I smiled at lumabas na ng shop.

Ralph was waiting for me outside. He parked his car at the other side of the street so we have to cross pa. When I stepped to cross, he stood at my left side.. kung san papunta yung cars na dumadaan. Then nung nasa center na kami, he went to the other side naman.

Shit. College. Ganitong-ganito yun e. Shit.

Then he opened the door for me. “Pasensya na if medyo makalat yung car.” He smiled.

“Ayos lang. Sanay na ako.” Ngumiti din ako.

“Ha?” Bigla naman akong napatahimik at napaisip. “Sanay sa?”

“Sanay na makalat yung kotse. Kasi.. uhm.. yung kotse ko makalat din e.” Sabi ko. Naman e, muntikan na. Nung college kasi kami, makalat din yung kotse niya. Argggh.

“Ahhh. Kala ko kung ano.” He laughed. Then he revved up the engine. Bigla namang nagring yung phone niya. “Hun? Where you at na? Bakit? Teka.. pano to-.. But-..Hun? Hatid pa ba kita? but-Okayy.. just take care, okay? I love you. Call me when you get there.. Okay. Okay. Bye.”

“Si Kath? Where’s she na?” I asked worriedly kasi parang ang worried naman ng face ni Ralph.

“She’ll call you.” Sabi niya lang and nagring naman kaagad yung phone ko.

“Kath? Yeah, we’re on our way.. where are you na? HA?!??! No way! But-… I just can’t- But kath.. this is your- Oh, I’m sorry. Yeah.. okay.. bye. Ingat.”  HINDI AKO MAKAPANIWALA! “So-”

“It’s okay, right?” Sabi niya.

“What’s okay?” Tanong ko.

“I mean.. yung ikaw na bahala sa lahat. Hindi mo naman siya masisisi. Her mom got hospitalized sa Davao, and she really needs to go. It’s her mom, after all.”

“Y-yeah. I guess, it’s okay then.”

“Pero you still look worried.” Sabi niya.

“Well- Ugh. I don’t think this is good-”

“Why?”

“Cause-”

“Look, if you think this is awkward, what more to me?”

“Yeah. But-”

“I’m your client. And you’re a professional. Let’s deal it that way.”

I looked at Ralph and I saw the changes in his personality and in his appearance. Hindi ko alam kung nandito pa nga talaga yung Ralph na minahal ko noon. Pero what’s the point of finding that Ralph before? He’s getting married.

TAGAYTAY.

“Hun, may reservation ba tayo dito sa Tagaytay?” He called up Kathleen kasi kanina pa kami hanap ng hanap ng hotel or pension house. “Awww. Ba’t naman? Full lahat ng hotels dito. Yeah, okay. Bye. Love you.”

Nakatayo lang ako sa gilid ng sasakyan while he was talking to Kathleen. “Wala siyang reservation eh. Kasi nga nag out of town diba? Sorry ha. Hanap nalang tayo.”

“Okay.” As if I have a choice.

So ayun, paikot-ikot lang kami ng Tagaytay looking for a hotel or a pension house, pero walang vacant – well, meron naman, pero yung.. arrrrrrgghh — matrimonial. Eh hindi naman pwede yun! Kung hindi ganun, single occupancy lang yung available. Ano ba yan.

“Hmm, I guess we have no choice.” He said. “We can transfer din naman daw kaagad as soon as may magbaback out sa reservations nila.”

Napaisip ako. “What if next time nalang to?”

“Yel? Andito narin lang naman tayo.. wag na nating ipanext time.” Sabi niya. He took out his wallet and gave the receptionist his credit card. Then he took our bags and we went upstairs.

“You know, I’m not really comfortable-”

“All we need is a sleeping place. Yun lang. Whole day, wala rin naman tayo dito e. I can sleep at the floor or at the sofa if meron.”

“Well-”

“Okay? Okay na?”

“Yeah. Okay.”

He opened the room and super liit ng kwarto. AS IIIINNN! Walang chair, walang sofa.. ang liit ng floor. SINGLE OCCUPANCY! Bwisitttt.

“Wow.” I sarcastically whispered. And it was 3:30 in the afternoon na.

“Bukas na tayo maghanap ng places for the wedding. I need some rest.”

“Wow. Okaayy? Go get the bed.” Sabi ko at pumasok ako ng bathroom.

SABI KO NA NGA BA, IPAHANDLE NA ITO KAY CLARA E. ARRGG!

007

“You know, we can just… do this some time else.”

“You plan to go home right now?”

“Well, magbabus nalang ako. Mas safer, diba?”

“Come on. I’m getting married. Walang malisya. Pure business.” He said. “Siguro nga we had a past, pero past is past, as they say. Wala kang dapat ikabahala. So, you shouldn’t feel awkward by now. It has been 3 years or so. Long time.” He said and fixed his things. “Akin nalang to, wala silang extra bed eh. Eto na yung ilalagay ko sa sahig.”

“You know I couldn’t sleep without the blanket.”

“Oh, right. I forgot.” He forgot?! Like 5 years of being together and he forgot all about it in 3 years?! Doesn’t that annoys you?! “Here.” Binalik niya ulit sa bed yung blanket. “Bilis na, let’s have dinner outside.”

“Sandali nga..” Sabi ko and fixed my bag. Then lumabas kami ng pension house and looked for a restaurant. “Ayun! Turn right..”

“Aya’s?”

“Oo. I super liked it there.” Sabi ko and he turned right.

“Nakakain na tayo dito diba?”

“Ha?”

“Back at college..”

“Ay, oo pala. Ayos lang ba?” I asked.

“Sure, masarap naman dito e.” Sabi niya so pumasok na kami sa loob.

We went inside and we both each opened a menu. I closed the menu book and faced the waitress.

“Hmm, I’ll go with spareribs, a fresh lumpia and sago.”

“Para sa hapunan?” He asked surprisingly.

“Y-yeah. They’re like the best.”

“Sure. I’ll go with what she ordered.” Tinakip niya yung menu book. “Sure ka masarap ha?” Nakatingin lang ako sa kanya na as if di pa siya nakatikim dito. Ugh? “It’s not like hindi ako nakakain dito, I know the sparerib’s nice, but I can’t seem to imagine what it should taste if it goes with sago and fresh lumpia.”

“Walang sisihan.” I said. And then silence. Silence. Silence. Silence.

“What a small world.” Tumawa siya.

“Oo nga eh. Sobrang liit.” I smiled. “Katulad mo..” Bulong ko sa sarili ko.

“Anong maliit ako? Hindi kaya. Tingnan mo, may muscles na ako hu.” Then he buffed his arms.

“Anong muscle dyan ha? Eh puro buto parin iyan e.”

“Pero at least hindi na ako ganun ka obvious na payatot compared nung college.” Napatawa naman ako.

“Buti napansin mo din iyan. Pero payat ka pa din.”

“Hindi yan thin. Lean na yan. Tall and lean.”

“Whatever, asa ka parin.” Tumawa na ako.

Bigla namang dumating yung waitress at binigay yung orders namin.

“Sure ka yan lang gusto mong kainin?” He asked.

“Yeah, why?” Nagtaka naman ako.

“Ang takaw mo kaya.” He smirked.

“Noon yun, di na ngayon.” Sabi ko. Hihi, napipikon kasi ako pag sinasabihan ako tungkol sa katakawan ko noon.

“Ikaw nga eh, ang payat-payat mo. Kumain ka ng marami. Balang araw niyan, maging kamukha mo si Palito.” I laughed.

Napatawa naman siya. “Asa ka, mas gwapo ata ito kay Palito. Kain na nga.”

At ayun, kumain nga kami. After ng dinner, naglibot-libot muna kami sa lugar at syempre, nagpicture-picture ako. Di naman pwedeng di ako maging vain kung ganito kaganda ang view.

“Ang vaaaiinn!” Sabi niya. Tinago ko naman kaagad yung camera ko. “Akin na nga, ako na magpipicture sa iyo.” Binigay ko naman yung camera sa kanya. “Smileee…”

*flash*

“Ang ganda..” Sabi ko.

“Masyadong unfair sa sarili.” Sabi niya naman.

“Ang ganda ng view.” I looked at him and rolled my eyes. “Ang ganda ko din..” Bulong ko sa sarili ko. Hihi. “Akin na camera mo, picturan din kita para di ka masyadong nega diyan… pakita mo narin kay Kath para magandahan na din.” Sabi ko.

“Wala akong camera eh.” Sabi niya.

“Aw, ganun.. okay. Wag nalang din.”

“Kunan mo nalang ako, then download ko from your memory card. I brought my laptop naman eh.”

“Riggghtt, sige, sige.” I took my camera and positioned it. Napatingin naman ako sa screen ng cam ko. He was posing this Randy Orton style but face straight on the camera, lips smiling, and relaxed arms. Just like college. “1, 2, 3.. smile. Ayan. Done.”

“Thanks.” Sabi niya then walked farther. Sumunod naman ako sa kanya. “How’s life?” He asked. I stopped then he turned to look at me, smiled, and continued walking. “Hindi talaga tayo nagkausap since we’ve seen each other.”

“Well, good. Uhmm, the business is very well, my health is never been great… remembered my stomach complications dati?”

“Yeah, yung lagi kang naeeLBM?”

“Oo, they’re gone. It was treated.”

“That’s good. Pero sigurdo dahil din yun sa katakawan mo.”

“Oh yeah, right.” I rolled my eyes again.

“Then.. ano pa?”

“Hmm…” Nagkibit-balikat ako while still thinking of what more to say. “Ano pa ba.. yeah! I went to Japan last month and I visited those manga stores, yung famous cosplay costume selling store at Shibuya, then I went to see Mt. Fuji and nakasakay din ako sa bullet train.. and.. yeah, it was fun.”

“Really?” He faced me and stopped walking. “You went to Japan? Why?”

“Eh kasi I took a vacation from work, so nasa checklist ko yung Japan ever since elementary. And now na medyo afford ko na yung pagpunta dun, why not diba?”

“Right..” Then tumalikod na naman siya and started climbing the stairs. “Di moko hinintay..” He said.

Napatawa naman ako. “Yeah, right.”

“Just kidding.” He chuckled. “Nice to hear that, Yel.”

“Ikaw, Ralph? What have you been up to?”

“Eto, planning the wedding instead of the bride-to-be.” He chuckled.

“Come on…”

“Hahaha. Hmm, wala, trabaho dun sa LA. Then minsan, roadtrip papuntang Mexico or fly to NY. But more on spending time at the hospital and with Kath.” He smirked.

“Hindi ka na nakauwi dito sinc-” Bigla akong napatahimik. “Since you flew there..”

“Yeah. I was so busy eh. Tsaka hassle kung uuwi pa ako dito. Masyadong mahal yung airfare. Di naman ako magtatagal.”

“Ahhh.. napetition mo na ba yung Mom mo?”

“Yeah, been working on that.”

“That’s good.. So you two are living together there na?”

“Well~..” Bigla akong nanginig kung anong magiging sagot niya.

“Uso narin naman iyan dun eh.” Sabi ko and ran upstairs. “Bilis na! Nakakapagod na!” Sigaw ko sa kanya at dumiretso na ako sa itaas. Pagdating ko sa taas, huminga ako ng malalim, my heart was beating fast and para bang it is being squeezed. Nakakainis. I’ve never felt this since..  I bit my lip and continued walking sa kung saan nakikita yung whole Tagaytay. I took out my cam and took some pictures.

“Kunan mo ko, bilis!” Sabi ko sa kanya and handed my cam to him.

“1,2,3…smile.” He held the camera for a second more after clicking it.

“Hello, tapos na ba?” I asked sarcastically.

“Y-Yeah. Sorry.” He handed me the cam.

“Sige, ikaw naman.”

“Nahh, wag na. May kuha na ako dun.”

“Oh come on.. minsan lang naman to eh.”

“O-okay.” He stood there and looked so serious.

“Ano ba, galaw-galaw baka mastroke.” I joked and he laughed. Bigla ko namang clinick yung camera, so I took a picture of him semi-laughing. It was cute, actually.

We sat down dun sa mga malalaking bato while overseeing the view. “So, wala pang boyfriend?” Tanong ni Ralph.

“Hahaha. Ano ba yan, sounds like pormafirstmove ng mga high school students. Hahaha!”

“Haha. Oo nga no.”

“Hmm, wala pa. Masyadong busy sa mga ganyan. Kaya nga kita-” I shut up.

“No, it’s okay.” He smiled with no hint of pain.

“It’s just that.. I’m just so happy kung nasan man ako at kung ano man ang meron ako ngayon. Parang somehow, contented narin ako.” Sabi ko and smiled.

“Yeah, that’s really good to hear, Yel.”

“Ikaw, pano naging kayo ni Kath? You know, you guys should have this presentation sa wedding niyo like your lives back nung elementary kayo till you met.. it’s soo nice. Like fairy tales.” I said all dreamy ~ AS IF.

“Hahaha. Pwede minus the college lang?”

“Hahaha, syempre naman. Pwede mokong maerase sa part ng college mo. No problem with me.” I laughed. “But seriously, wala ka bang planong sabihin kay Kath before you get wed?”

“I guess she’s better off not knowing. Past narin naman iyon tsaka magpapakasal narin kami.”

“But you know, you should be open with each-”

“I know. Pero what’s the point pa diba?”

“Okay. If that’s what you want.” I said. “Tara na, uwi na tayo. It’s getting really really cold here.”

“Buti pa nga..” Sabi niya and we started climbing down the stairs again. Nung nakaabot na kami sa ilalim, he suddenly said, “You know, I kind of forgot how fun it is to be around you.” He chuckled. Napatigil naman ako.

“Of course.” I laughed then bit my lip.

Then he suddenly got a reklamo na naman. “I’m hungry.”

Natawa naman ako. “Sino ba naman kasi yung hindi gugutumin dun sa pagakyat at pagbaba?”

“Oo nga naman.. tara, drive through tayo.” Kaya ayun, nag drive through kami and headed back to the pension house. Humingi na kami ng extra bed para di namang magmukhang kawawa itong client ko. “Mauna ka nang gumamit ng banyo. Susunod ako. Kakain lang muna ako.” Sabi niya kaya pumasok nako ng bathroom.

Tumingin ako sa mirror and bit my lip. Then I smiled. “I am contented.” After kong maligo, lumabas na ako na nakabihis and slumped my body to bed.

“I feel so fresh!”

“Ang tagal-tagal mo..” Sabi niya.

“Reklamo ka ng reklamo, di ka na nasanay.”

Tumawa naman siya. “Eto mabilis lang..” Sabi niya at pumasok sa bathroom. After 10 minutes siguro, lumabas na siya – shirtless.

“Sorry, naiwan ko kasi yung tshirt ko dito sa labas.” Sabi niya while hinahalungkat yung bag niya.

“No problem.” Sabi ko and tried to concentrate on the tv show but to no avail. “Payatot ka pa din.” Sabi ko.

“You’re looking! Sumbong kita kay Kath!”

“Oh shut up.” Sabi ko and laughed.

Tumawa lang din sya. When he found his shirt, nahiga na sya sa bed niya sa floor.

“I’m going to sleep. Napagod ako sa byahe.” Sabi ko. I turned off the tv and gave him the remote. “Pakioff nalang ng lights ha. Iwan na nating nakaon itong lamp.”

“Yeah, sure.” Sabi niya and stood up to turn off the lights and the tv. Then he went back to his bed and closed his eyes. “Good night.”

“Good night.” Sabi ko.

“Yel?”

“Hmm?”

“Honestly, I didn’t really forget how fun it is to be around you.” He said in almost a whisper. I smiled to myself.

“I’m unforgettable, after all.” Sabi ko and closed my eyes.

But I couldn’t sleep for fifteen minutes now. Napahinga ako ng malalim and slowly crept slowly from my blanket. I peeked Ralph praying na sana tulog na nga talaga sya.. and there he was sleeping like a little child. Probably, nasa 2nd stage na sya ng REM.

I looked at him, studying every feature of his face even his hair. I held my chest as if stopping someone from squeezing it. I felt butterflies all over my stomach. And I shivered. I took a deep breath and went back to my former position — looked at the ceiling, closed my eyes, held on my blanket tightly and covered my face.

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