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 theirreal 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.
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?
(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…