Monday, March 21, 2011

The Torpe Road (Part 3)

Welcome back to the third part of the “Road”. First off, I’d like to thank all the people who read and enjoyed the last two posts regarding about my past heartbreaks and letdowns. I’ve had a lot I should’ve changed this instead to “The Loser Road.” But when you think about it, almost all of us had a fair share of failures where it changed you entirely or it made you stronger. I mean, because of it, you made a smash-hit song ( like the case with Jimmy Bondoc or Ogie Alcasid ) or painted masterpieces ( like with Vincent Van Gogh ) or made an influential comic ( like with Gerry Alanguilan ). But enough with the history. But hey, you got to thank me forgiving a little bit of trivia. Who knows when the answers to the questions in a game show you’ve joined are those that I’ve mentioned? But moving forward, this is about a girl that got away; the girl that probably will be mine but I got stupid. My first (and probably last) textmate, to whom we will call Qatar.

It was the year 2000. I was a third year high school student who loves Anime and drawing comics. The comedy part of GMA-7’s Bubble Gang “Ang Dating Doon” was pretty famous that they have a theme song and a catchphrase (remember “ALIEN?” “ALIEN.”) I also remember that there still wasn’t channel Animax yet so most of the Anime shows I watched are on AXN and GMA-7. AXN even has an annual Anime 12-hour Marathon that I always keep a close watch on. Today they make Marathons every other week or so (like the case with Star World on America’s Next Top Model or ETC on GLEE.). On my reasonable allowance I was also able to buy some stuff. One of the stuff I buy on a monthly basis back then was an Anime magazine named Questor: The Ultimate Anime Magazine. It was based on an old magazine back in the 70’s that the editorial team has revived. They have sections on everything Anime. Looking back, the magazine was okay. If you have internet access you could’ve gotten all the info that they’ve featured there. The comic was also crappy. The articles were full of those irritating emoticons. But it was that magazine that I met Qatar.

It was Volume 2 Number 7, which had a cover of Toguro smashing Eugene on the ground of Ghost Fighter fame that I skimmed through the letters section and saw a parting shot of the managing editor of the Letters section saying “ Nice to know you found new friends [a nickname]. By the way, others have followed your lead. [two email addresses] would like to hear from you guys via email. =^_^=” As soon as I read that part, I got myself thinking, “Hmmm… bakit hindi? Wala naman mawawala sa ‘kin… try ko na rin. I was rather new to the internet, but I knew the dangers of it. I knew the spam emails and the people who wanted to befriend you but have different motives. Being aware of those I decided to just go with it and picked one email from the two that seemed “safe” and appealing. I typed my name, age and something regarding about her request on the magazine and sent it to Qatar. A few days later she shot back a reply. I was thrilled. The messages continued for some time with emails containing things about our interests and where we study, etc. I also quickly knew that she is a year older than me but that was never a hindrance. There’s even an email where she showed her talent on making poems.

Fast forward a few years and New Zealand and Valenzuela City came. I was at first do not have plans on making the moves on Qatar since exchanging emails can be rather slow. I sent her a message asking for her celfone number. Sure enough, she sent her number and I saved it on my phone. The “getting-to-know” part got a lot easy because replying was quicker. You don’t have to refresh the page on your computer to know that you got new mail. I was also thrilled with one of her texts before that I had new hope on college:

Me: Ay, Qatar, saan ka ba nag-aaral?

Qatar: Sa [a famous University], Nursing kinukuha ko…

Me: Ay ganun ba? Dun din ako mag-aaral eh. Hahahaha…

Qatar: Talaga? Buti naman kung ganun…

When I read that text message I was pretty lucky to know her as she is also studying at the same University and meeting her for a quick chat or a pseudo-date would be easier. Yeah, I was one of those people who want to be several steps ahead of a certain position. So then I made a “ bet” on her. In other words, “binangkoko sya. I said, “ pwede si [Qatar]. Kahit di ko pa nakikita sya sa personal close na rin kami. Pwede ko syang ligawan.” It was also during that time that I was with Valenzuela City. I was having feelings for her, and at the same time I was falling for Qatar. I know it sounds childish and foul, but I was really new to this courting thing, and besides, di ko pa naman sila jowa so okey lang din mamili kahit paano. But faith can be playful at times as deciding who to “court” got simple as to what happened to Valenzuela City (check Part 2 for more details.) Honestly, I was ready to court Valenzuela City and (perhaps) leave Qatar altogether if she didn’t do that stupid stunt. Anyway, I graduated from High School and at one time I almost thought I would finally meet up with Qatar at an Anime Convention (one of the first in the country, I might add) that she backed out. She said she was busy with something so we can’t meet. I was disappointed but I still enjoyed the sights that day.

It was right through that instance that I asked what she looked like. It’s a very funny story, read on:

Me: Qatar, tanong ko lang, sinong kamukha mo?

Qatar: Uhhmm.. sabi ng mga kaibigan ko na kamukha ko raw yung batang version ni Claire Dela Fuente. Eh ikaw ?

Me : Well, sabi nila kamukha ko si Mike Shinoda ng Linkin Park…

I know that it’s pretty far-fetched, but if you look hard enough, I do look like the famous singer of the Nu-Rock band. Back then, we both have same nature with styling our hair, minus the goatee and I was 50-70 pounds lighter. It was a pretty hard gamble, but it paid off in a way. So wag nang kumontra, sapakin ko kayo eh..Thanks also to our constant texting (one time I was even texting her while I was eating lunch at home) that we developed a term of endearment for each other. That was also my first, so it was pretty memorable. She called me Keiichi, since I have told her that I love the Anime Ah! My Goddess and that was the name of the lead male character in the series. I was thinking of something to call her, I just looked up a Japanese word and called her Kunoichi. She then replied:

Qatar: Ano yung Kunoichi?

Me: Japanese word yun for female ninja. (FYI, Shinobi is the word for a male ninja).

Qatar: Yun na lang tawagan mo sa akin, since katunog nya Keiichi. Hehe.

Me: Sige ba. Hehe…

I also had an opportunity on talking to her on the phone when she gave me her landline

number. I called her at night and since we had a wireless phone, I often talked to her at places in our house that is quiet. I finally heard her voice and she sounded sweet. One funny instance that I did was while I was talking to her, I felt the urge to pee. Sensing that I don’t want to lose the “feel” of the conversation, I talked to her even while I was peeing on our toilet. I made sure that my trail of urine would not hit the toilet water so she would not get turned off and suspect that I was relieving myself. Not sure if she did notice it, but she didn’t brought it up during the entire conversation so it was fine, although I’m sure the echo in the background because of the bathroom tiles could be a dead giveaway.

Anyway, luck finally caught up with me as I was able to meet up with her. I was going to be interviewed at the University as it is one of the requirements for enrolling there. I asked if she would like to meet up, “EB” or “eyeball” as she has said and she agreed. I also asked for my sister’s companionship on my trip to the University since I’m still rather new at commuting. Can’t really remember what the questions are, and I didn’t care much since I was really looking forward to meeting with Qatar. She asked me to text her when I’m already finished and she gave out a description of what she’s wearing so I could notice her immediately. We were supposed to meet at a car park near the building that I got interviewed and said she was wearing a red shirt.

I noticed her right away. She was of average height, pretty slim, straight hair of shoulder length (but she tied it in a ponytail fashion on that day) and has a dark complexion. I approached her and we “dated” on a nearby mall. I say “dated” because my sister also accompanied us there. I know it’s a big no-no for “EBs” but she wasn’t much of a nuisance, plus I wasn’t ready on those kinds of dates where I was “ridin’ solo” so I appreciated her being there. Qatar was very nice to me and she was the one who usually brings up a subject for us to talk about. We watched “ICE AGE” and I could’ve made those “moviehouse moves”, like the “mag-iinat-na-kunwari-inaantok-tapos-biglang-akbay-sa-kanya” or “tipong-nalalamigan-ka-ba?-sabay-hawak-sa-hita-nya-with-matching-himas-pa-para-kunwari-pinapainitan-sya”. Yeah, style ng mga bulok, but I never did those since I’m Torpe and I’m with my sister. Too bad we didn’t take a Neoprint picture during that time to preserve the meories.

We were able to meet up again between the texting and one phone call on my first week as a college student, or freshman as often called, during those orientations-slash-festivals to make us freshman comfortable and be aware of the sights and attractions of the University. I remember that I want to meet Qatar again and she agreed. I almost backed out since I was sweating like crazy and I don’t want her to see me in that condition. Still, I took the opportunity and we met at a place in the University that I was not yet familiar with so I asked someone for directions. When I walked there a woman stood up and smiled. It’s a good thing she recognized with my uniform since she looked a little different while wearing her Nurse uniform. She looks beautiful. I mean, I’m a sucker for women in uniform so I was dazed when I saw her again. We talked about college life and her duty on the hospital. I gave her a keychain as a little gift that I bought 2 months ago. Can’t remember what it is, but I think it’s a Spongebob Squarepants mini-figure since she loves the show. She liked it and said that it goes well with her apron on her uniform. Flattery can get you anywhere since I was touched by what she said. A fellow classmate also saw us during that time and I thought to myself I have bragging rights now that someone saw me with a girl. It’s like a fresh new start for building my “cred” at school. Yeah, that's how I measured it back then.

We met up again a few weeks ago and I was with my barkada, and she was with her barkada as well. We met at a nearby Jollibee store and talked about stuff, like how their mammoth books costs and their medical equipment. One really, really funny incident that happened during that time was with my best friend. I wasn’t really yet aware of those “kikindat-sa-yo-sabay-sesenyas-na-aalis- na-para-smooth-exit-para-di-nakakahiya-sa-kinakausap-mo” moments, so I was surprised when he texted me saying he has to leave and we have to make an excuse or alibi for him to leave the place. Instead I said:

Me: Pare, ikaw itong nag-text ah..

My Friend: Ah, eh, oo nga… sige aalis na ko. Me pupuntahan pa ko. Sige!!!

It was really funny. I was so na├»ve back then. I remember my friend saying to me after a few days: “Putang-ina, ang tanga-tanga mo. Bobo!!!!” Even a few years has passed we were still bringing that incident up and I can’t help but laugh about it.

We were able to meet up a couple of times during the first few weeks of college, like the time I accompanied her to buy a ping-pong paddle for her P.E., when she was preparing for her duty so I had to wait at the lobby in her dorm and when she had a hard time making a request to update her name plate since she has two Middle initials.I mentioned all of our meet-ups because that’s all the time I had with her. Qatar became immersed in her studies and I was also adjusting to college life as well. Whenever I would text her she wouldn’t reply or she would say “busy ako sa studies eh. Sorry…” I just shrugged her off and I became busy with girl-watching and playing network games like Counter-Strike with my barkada. It was 3 years later that I met her again unexpectedly at our annual University year-end festival. She was the one who first noticed me and it took a second or two for me to recognize her since it was really out of the blue. We talked a little and she introduced me to her boyfriend at that time. (cue audience track AAAAAWWWWWW…)

Qatar became one of the few girls that I courted that I’ve added to

my Friendster and Facebook profile so I was able to know her status even if I still don’t see her personally. From what I’ve seen on her pictures, (yeah, I’m a stalker, Pake mo???) she graduated a few years ago and has worked as a nurse at the operating room (not sure if that is one of the higher positions in being a nurse, but that is pretty impressive, to say the least.) in a famous hospital. She broke up with her boyfriend that I met before and is currently engaged (cue again : AWWWWWW) with her present boyfriend and she is working in Qatar. Hopefully the recent escalations that are happening in the Middle-Eastern countries won’t affect that place. Honestly, I wish her well on her future and it was nice that I’ve met her, even for a short period of time.

So kids, the moral of the story? Be persistent. Eyes on the prize, and all that stuff. If she’s worth something, fight for it.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Torpe Road (Part 2)

Here we are again with my second part of my memoirs. After I posted that first part I really felt nostalgic, not just from New Zealand, but from High School life in particular. Granted it’s not really fuzzy at times (what with the bullying and such) but those are the times where you really “find” yourself. I like remembering it again after all these years.
There are also some questions that were raised after I posted the first part. One, will these women file a case of libel on me? Maybe. But I wouldn’t be scared with those or other kinds of threats from the women I’ve written these memoirs on or their respective boyfriends (I’ve had one a few years ago. How did it go? Let’s just say she’s not my friend in Facebook anymore.) I mean, it’s not like I’m talking about our dirty deeds, bedroom moves and performances. This is the Torpe Road. I would be really surprised if there would be news of some of these women spreading news like “Maliit titi ni (my name)” or “Mabilis syang labasan!!!”. Dude, mas maniniwala pa ako if the news is “Mabaho hininga nyan” or “Me balakubak siya!!!”. Second, yes, I want this to be published in hard copy if given the chance. I’d like to earn some cash besides from my main job. And lastly, I want to be famous because of this. So famous that I can be a guest judge in ABS-CBN’s Showtime. I can see it now:
Audience: SAMPOL!!!! SAMPOL!!! SAMPOL!!! SAMPOL!!!!
Me: Eto, joke na lang. Anong baril ang mas malakas pa sa kanyon ???

Audience : ANO !!!!????
Me : Eh di GUN-dam!!! Hahahahaa !!!
(followed by judge Vice Ganda’s insults)
I’m getting way over my head there. Let’s just move on to the continuation of the story. So there it was, New Zealand said no to my request. It was sad, sure. But it was also during that time that I met her best friend, to which we shall call Valenzuela City.
Valenzuela City is not someone I will make a double-look at. She’s a few inches shorter than New Zealand, has short, black hair and somewhat thick eyebrows. She has front buck teeth and a little singkit. Granted these descriptions will turn off any guy. But during that time I don’t have plans to court her. One thing led to another, though. Keep reading…
When I tried to court New Zealand I was already introduced to Valenzuela City by her. Throughout the time I have no interest in her and she’s one of the “friends-na-dapat-kaibiganin-para-pumogi-ako-kay-New-Zealand” schtick. She’s with us during breaks and I always saw her at the back of our school because that’s where most of the School Services are. What’s amazing is how some of these Services have evolved. Back then any mode
of transportation can be a School Service: L300, FX, Jeepney or even Tricycle (in public schools) and there isn’t much steel railings to stop a kid from sticking his/her arm out on the road. Nowadays the School Service can be illustrated as a Yellow FX or L300 with the words “SCHOOL SERVICE” painted on the side with some black, vertical lines as well. There would also be the occasional name of the associated school painted as well. And then the windows will be really wrapped in steel railings. Makes the kids look like inmates. Don’t know if there are other School Services that don’t follow this now; I have yet to check it.
Anyway, it was at that place that I managed to talk to her really good. During that day we entertained a large group of “Less Unfortunate People” or in layman’s term, “Iskwaters” at our school. They divided them for each of our section to make them happy and give small prizes. It was our school’s way of being charitable. Our section made used of my “rapping abilities” again to entertain them. In truth (again) I was singing to a song of Linkin Park and I was really out of breath. So I saw her standing near the gates of our school, near a spot that sells bootleg toys and items (I’m guilty of looking and buying a few) since that’s where Elementary School is. I saw her and:
Me: Uy, Valenzuela City, musta??
Valenzuela City: Eto, okay lang. Kapagod din kanina.
Me: Oo nga eh. Pinakanta nanaman ako.
Valenzuela City: Talaga? Haha…
Me: Eh ikaw? Anong ginawa nyo?
Valenzuela City: Ayun, nag-game kami na parang Pera O Bayong. Ako yung me hawak-hawak ng isang letra. Muntik na akong malaglag dahil sumusugod sila sa akin.
Me: Hahaha, buti di ka napa-ano…
Then the conversation just went on for a couple of minutes and I learned that she likes to watch Anime. I said to myself, “Ayus. Me kausap din ako tungkol dun.” Usually our conversation goes on for a while until my School Service is ready to leave because the Elementary Kids are already out from school.
The next day goes on and I chatted with her again. This goes on for a while that to remedy my often-sudden departure and cutting our conversation short, I opted to not ride our Service and commute instead. For me, it was very sweet of me to do that because I really wanted to talk to her. Even though I feel that she is left out in her Section and our batch. You see, our batch teases her at her back “Kalawang” because of her bad breath. You know teenagers. We can be so cruel. Why, one female classmate was suspected of having dark armpits. But honestly, I never notice it when I talked to Valenzuela City. I really enjoyed her company.
It was those times with her where I saw compassion and acceptance where I didn’t get much (or none at all) when I courted New Zealand. Take, for instance, our Senior Prom. After I danced with New Zealand, I danced with Valenzuela City. I placed both of my hands on her hips and I remember singing along to a South Border song. She also sung along with me. Looking back, it felt stupid. But hey, it’s High School. We were even texting each other, complementing on how good we looked even before the dance floor was laid for us. She was also the one who appreciated my “demonic rapping” at our School Function. We even texted a lot and this is where I polished my texting habit. I would not leave a lot of vowels out and I always include [… ] to my texts.
There was even this part where she gave me one of her Graduation pictures. Back then, your School “cred” was measured by how many Graduation pics you can get from the opposite sex and how many you also gave. Sadly, I only got at least 3 out of a possible 30+ female students. One of the people who didn’t gave me her pic is who else? New Zealand!!! I tried to convince her to give me a pic but she really hesitated. Her alibi is “Madami akong bibigyan sa pamilya ko”. I hated her for that. So Valenzuela City was really kind to me.
On the short period that I was with her I actually developed feelings for her. But being the Torpe that I am, I didn’t know how to express them without me bumming out. And besides, I don’t know what will happen to us if ever we will be together, being that we might be going to different Universities. So I just buried that feeling under me and just talked about stuff and Anime.

It was near the end of the School year that she gave me a small letter folded and stapled. It was cut from a purple folder. I was surprised about it and I asked:
Me: Ano ito?
Valenzuela City: Basta. Wag mo munang buksan hanggang nakauwi ka na.
I obliged, of course. On the way home as I rode a public jeepney I opened the letter and it read:
U must not be expecting me to write you a letter. I was doing this to express what I want to say. First, I wanna say all my thanks to you, for being there, for listening to me, for taking time, for the understanding, for the care and for everything…in short for being my friend.
I wanted to tell you that I still wanna spend my life hanging around with you. Kung pwede nga lang I could spend the last moment with you habang I am still here. There are so much I wanted to say, so much I wanted to share, that’s why I hate it whenever you would leave me. I still wanna say stay with me ‘coz I still wanna be with you for the last time. I still not yet ready to leave you. I’m just telling you what I feel.
Anyway, I wish you all the happiness in life even kahit wala na ako or di na tayo nagkikita. Ganito lang me ngayon, this is the way how I say goodbye to you.
P’ano ba yan… Graduation na? I will surely miss you. Before I shall let you go, one thing I wanted to tell you is that I LOVE YOU as a friend as we were now.
I havta tell you something important. I have fallen in love with you but I think there’s no sense for me to tell you how I loved you… you might not appreciate ‘coz it’s goodbye now. I waited for you, I’m sorry it’s too late! I mean if ever you have feelings for me too long naman. I’m not quite sure. I can’t figure you out sometimes...
It’s up to you what it’s gonna be but for me, I’ll stay as if I have said nothing… OK?
Valenzuela City
I remember that feeling that day. When I read the second-to-the-last paragraph I stopped and held my head upwards and closed my eyes. I thought, “Shet. Ang tanga-tanga ko.” That evening I called her on their landline using our wireless phone. I was at our front yard, and I said to her:
Me: Valenzuela City, nabasa ko na yung sulat mo…
Valenzuela City: Hm.
Me: I-try natin…
Valenzuela City: Try yung ano?
Me: Sabi mo ako na bahala. Try natin ito. Tayong dalawa…
I can’t remember much about what transpired on that phone call but I vividly remember that I asked her out to for a date at Ever Gotesco Mall in Caloocan. I plan on maybe go window-shopping since she likes Barbie dolls; eat at a restaurant and a movie. I don’t know what I plan to get out of that “date”, but I just want to spend some time with her outside of the School premises. It’s like, “Bahala na ang susunod na mangyari…” We were supposed to meet at 10am or 11am. It’s been almost an hour and she still hasn’t showed up. I opted to call her at their landline to check if she already left. So I used a pay phone (during that time I was one of those people who don’t want to bring his Nokia 3310 outside because it might get stolen) at a nearby stall:
Me: Hello? Pwede ko bang kausapin si Valenzuela City?
A Kid: Ay natutulog pa po si Valenzuela City…
I was shocked at what I have heard. I had mixed reactions and I stormed out of the mall and went home. I checked my celfone for messages but there’s nothing. I was furious. She left me hanging there. In short, na-Indian ako. Na-Drawing. But that’s not the bad part. The bad part was a text from an unknown number that I received that night:
« Eto ang kaibigan ni Valenzuela City. Gusto kong malaman kung bakit mo sya hindi sinipot kanina. Naghihintay sya sa Ever ng mag-isa!!!“
I replied:
“Nandun ako sa Ever ng 10 o‘ clock pa. Matagal ko syang hinintay dun at tinawagan ko sa bahay at natutulog daw sya.”
Her “friend” never replied and I thought that maybe it was not her friend that texted me, but just her using a different number. She was pretty good with words so she can be deceptive if needed. I don’t want that kind of a relationship or friendship or whatever. I then started ignoring her and removed her number from my phone list. The ignoring part was easy since it was graduation and we have to worry about passing our grades so that we can walk the stage and stuff. Plus there’s also college and Anime Conventions to look at stuff.

Last I’ve seen or heard from her she’s cozy with a boyfriend and is a registered nurse at a University-associated hospital. Unlike New Zealand, she has a Facebook profile but I chose to not add her. I know it’s juvenile of me, that I need to move on and stuff, but I just don’t feel like it. I’m one of those people who don’t want to add/accept friends recklessly. Unless I’m really friends with you (or a hot chick) I’ll add /accept you. To each his own. Wag siraan ang trip. Sapakin kita eh…

I think the lesson here is pretty obvious. Be careful with women. Who knows what they are cooking. Always listen to what your instinct is telling you. And on a lighter note, I guess you need to be brave on expressing your feelings to someone. Take the leap, as they say. You never know until you tried. I’m thinking that things could have been a little different if I said my feelings early on. This would have been not included on the “Road”. But it’s too late for that, and I’m satisfied with my choice.
Not when I’ve took a dive into answering a request at an Anime magazine from a girl looking for some friends who also loves Anime. Another time, then…

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Torpe Road (Part 1)

Writing about your past helps to ease the excess baggage that you may have. Whether it is about your embarrassing moments, trouble at home or school and past girlfriends it can release the tension that you may still have. And also make you realize your mistakes and just laugh about it.
That’s why I’ve decided to write an entry like this. It’s a lot more personal. Taking a cue from local author Jay Panti, I wanted to tell my experiences that I had with the women that I wanted to win their heart… but got rejected, I declined and all the stuff in between. I’ve decided not to include my ex-girlfriend (yeah, I only had one. I’m a late bloomer) and recent girlfriend as they are someone who did not reject me. And taking another cue from a column that I read from Men’s Health, I left their
real names out and replaced them with the name of the place that they currently live or where they really live. So here it is; as R&B singer Usher used to say, “these are my confessions…”
It was 2001. I was a fourth-year high school student, with a big hope for the world outside after I graduate. I was hooked back then in Japanese animation, or Anime, as it is often called. I was also a late bloomer on everything. I just got used to not bringing a packed lunch prepared by my mother and in a good company with a very large group of friends, or what we call 13 @+!v0+Z!!! or Bativotz, spelled in a jejemon-like text (texting and modern cell phones were still at their infancy and jejemon was still not coined . Thank God.) Why that funky name? It’s a really funny story, actually. When I asked one of our so-called “leader” what’s the meaning of the name besides a nod to that classic children’s show, he also said “ dito kasi sa [tinatambayan] natin madaming mag-syotang nag-babate” Back then I don’t know what “bate” means. Now I’m wiser and even now I still don’t know if it really is true. But leave it to the high libido and adrenaline of teenagers to do a naughty deed like that.
Moving on to our story, I have a lot of crushes at school not to mention fantasies that I would “binabate” at my room. But none of them I have made the moves on. I was a “torpe” with girls and don’t know what to say, how to say, how to act, what to act, etc. So it comes as no surprise that I really faltered and where I really learned “the rules” on my first “niligawan”, New Zealand. New Zealand was a very beautiful girl. She had long, somehow curly black hair and of average height. She had these mesmerizing eyes and a wonderful sense of humor. She was a “kalog”, very energetic. But that’s not what I was drawn to at first.
It was our annual retreat. Being in a catholic school it was a requirement (unless you can provide a very good excuse and have your parents write you a letter) to go to a far-away place (like Laguna) managed by nuns and priests and reflect as well pray about our shortcomings as a Christian male and be a better one in return. Of course, girls and boys have separate rooms. At evenings and after our daily dose of reflection we would go back to our rooms and either sleep or talk to fellow classmates until the wee hours of the night. It was at that time that New Zealand confesses something to my fellow female classmates.
Girl 1: New Zealand, sino sa mga kaklase nating lalake ang crush mo?
New Zealand: Wala.
Girl 1: Sino nga? Imposible na wala…
New Zealand: Wala nga sabi…
Girl 2: Ang arte mo…
(large group of laughter)
(after the initial silence…)
New Zealand: Si (insert my name here) siguro…
One of my female classmates told me this after the retreat. She was a known gossiper so it’s credible. My first reaction was “ Talaga???” In truth, I never saw myself as the type that ladies fall heads-over-heels for. I was getting used to applying gel to my hair; my school bag was a rather large business-oriented one that seemed out of place. I was bullied by my classmates. It seemed like a moment where you stop making yourself miserable and get your head out of the oven.
After I knew that juicy bit, I talked to her more than before. I thought to myself “bakit naman hindi? Maganda rin naman siya. At pag naging jowa ko ito, tataas na respeto ng mga kaklase ko sa akin.” My approach was the humorous type. I joked of how handsome I am, of how I looked like a local now-very-famous matinee idol and accompanying her to wait for her folks to pick her up along with her younger sister who is also studying at the same school. Her friends noticed me making my moves and they approve of us. They even made some effort of making her be alone with me whenever there are times that there are no teachers and we just goofed around. After the part where we have discovered that there is no one teaching at our class, we would form small circles around our classmates that we would talk to. What they would do is not talk to New Zealand and makes her left out of the group. Then it would just be us. She noticed what her friends are doing but that did not stop me from making her fall for me. I also got help from her best friend, sometimes a little too much. But more on that later. One of the sweetest things I did for her is I drew a picture of herself dangling from a swing. While my artist skills are still developing, it was the effort that counted. Many of my friends and classmates noticed my “moves” on her and they teased us a lot. They would say things like “Whoooo!!! Nagbibinata na si (my name) !!!”
Her folks also noticed that as well. I don’t know if they approved of it, but all I can say is I got off to a bad start. You see, there’s this one part where we waited for her parents to pick her up. After I sent her to their Ford Ranger’s car door, I distanced myself and said:
Me: Sige, New Zealand, ingat ka!!!
New Zealand’s Mother: INGAT KAYO!!!
Me: Ay, oo nga po, Ingat kayo!!!
I was surprised at what her mother said to me. She corrected me in front of New Zealand. Apparently I should have wished THEM a safe journey instead of just her. I was totally embarrassed. I told my friends that bit and they said “ Ano?? Eh ang tatanga-tanga mo!! Mali nga yung unang mong sinabi! Kasama nya yung magulang nya so dapat sinabihan mo na “ingat kayo” para me pogi points ka sa kanila!!!” It was really, really, embarrassing and I don’t know, for me, her mother shouldn’t have said that to me. I was starting out. Give me some slack. But they don’t know that, so who am I to judge?
It was also that school year that I saw her blossom into a woman. There were two instances: the Junior-Senior Prom and our class musical play. At school, we are required to do a class musical play for our grades in English class. Never really knew why we would do something like that, I guess it’s to broaden our knowledge on great musicals. I mean, thanks to those, I knew musicals like “Starlight Express”, “Aida” and “Rent”. Our gay classmate and leader chose the more recent movie-musical “ Moulin Rouge” for our section. New Zealand was shocked that he picked her to play the part of Satine, played in the movie by Nicole Kidman. She never saw herself acting in front of a large crowd of students and teachers. She almost did not accept the part but constant egging by my classmates made her say yes. She was perfect for the part. She has the structure of Satine: long hair, angelic look and some curves. I almost got the part of playing Christian, played by Ewan McGregor, the love interest, at one time. I’m glad I didn’t get the part. Because at the night of the play, we don’t know what to do. In short, “nagkalat din kami.”But we managed to deliver an “okay” performance. It was at that time that she, as my budding writer-friend wrote on a school paper or something like that “ …this is New Zealand’s time. This will be her biggest role to commit ever. Where she would mature from a girl to a woman.” I liked how my friend wrote it. In a way, I’ll bet it is her biggest role ever.
Now, besides our annual retreat, we also have the prom which happened at the Holiday Inn near Roxas Boulevard where we dress up in formal clothes and reflect on the closing year; our graduating year. I was wearing a suit with no tie. I should have worn a tie. I almost bought one at the Holiday Inn store. Then while chatting with my friends of how we look “pogi” New Zealand suddenly appeared. Man, I swore when I saw her beautiful music was playing. The appropriate song would be “She” by Elvis Costello. She was in a black long dress with some sparkly bits on it and her hair was tied up in a bun. She was gorgeous. I managed to dance with her, almost to the point of pleading with my classmate to cut in. When we danced, I even don’t know how to hold her. One hand was on her waist while another was on her shoulder. Looking back, I should have placed both arms on her waist. Oh well.
It was at the end of the school year that I decided to pop the big question: New Zealand, will you be my girlfriend? I don’t know how it started, either I’ve been courting her for too long or I’ve been pressured by my fellow classmates. So there I was, on my usual “sinasamahan-siya-habang-hinihintay-ang-kanyang-mga-magulang” stint along with her younger sister at the front gate of the school. It ended up with me hanging out with her sister instead as her group of friends decided to do a photo-op at a nearby photo studio. I tried to strike a conversation with her sister to kill time because it took a while for her to come back. Then, when she came back, a few minutes later her folks are already at the front gate of the school. I was accompanying them when suddenly, I asked her:
Me: New Zealand…

New Zealand: Ano yun?
Me: Pwede na ba kitang maging…
New Zealand: Ano?
Me: …boyfriend?
(pause that seemed like eternity then she smiled in an awkward way)
New Zealand: Di pa, (my name) sobra pa akong bata, baka pag college na lang…
Me: Ay ganun ba? Oh sige...
Then I left them near the gate, I opted to not meet her folks as the pain was unbearable. I remember walking away in slow motion and sad music was playing in the background. It’s like in the movies. Shet, ganito pala feeling pag na-basted ka. I had a lot of things on my mind that day, like “ it’s okay, pare, ganyan talaga buhay.” Or “at least na-try mo…” I don’t remember how I got home that day, but all I can remember is that evening. I cried. I was on my knees on our living room, crying. I know that it is embarrassing when I looked back at that act, but it was my first love, pare!!! You never really forget that feeling.
At school news travelled fast. There are my classmates who laughed at my misfortune and some who gave a mental “fist bump” for mutual respect. I channeled my sadness on drawing cartoons, college and rapping. MYX channel was just starting and rock and OPM music was still dwindling and my age bracket enjoyed music from J. Lo,
Ja Rule, Ashanti, Eminem and Linkin Park. I knew the lyrics of the songs of Linkin Park at heart, so I always sung them and my classmates asked for them so they could also memorize it. Because of my knowledge of the songs I was privileged (if that is the right word for what I did) to sing and rap in front of the whole school. Some say “I rapped demonically”. In truth, I just mumbled words and I’ll bet half the school didn’t understand it. So, in a way, I was able to vent out my frustrations and sadness in a positive manner.
College came and I haven’t heard from her for a while. It took a while for me to move on properly. Probably took years. I befriended her on Friendster and nothing much has changed from her: she’s still the charismatic kalog I fell in love with. The last time I saw her in person was in 2004, when my classmates and I mounted an Art Exhibit. Seasons change and it seems she deleted her Friendster page for some unknown reason. She doesn’t have a Facebook page. Believe me, I’ve tried to search for her, even on Google. God knows if she’s still outside the country or if she’s engaged or what-have-you’s. I just hope she’s happy (naks!!) wherever she is. As of this writing, there’s a terrible earthquake that occurred in New Zealand (the country) and I hope she and her family are not affected greatly.
So what did I learn from all this? Actually, a lot. This experience made me stronger and braver. It became my template on how to approach and talk to girls ( I had to re-learn the techniques again later on…) Looking back again, I felt I courted her for the wrong reasons. I only approached her after I knew she has a thing for me. I don’t know, it just felt cruel. I guess you should court someone if you do really have a thing for her, not because of what you’ve heard from a fellow classmate. And, oh, I’ve also learned how to act in front of your pursued girl’s folks.
But don’t feel bad for what happened to me. Fate can be weird sometimes. Even though I didn’t snag New Zealand, I became cozy to her best friend. But that’s another story…