memories and a secret

I was out of the loop for a few days. Or has it been weeks? This was because I had to go home to the province and grant a dying grandmother's request to see her favorite apo -- and pressure him for the last time to get hitched and settle down. This was then followed by my joining the family in its moment of grief over the loss of its matriarch and helping with the burial preparations, and then reading and processing her last will and testament (Just kidding about the last one, although it really would have completed the picture in your head. Romanticism, I know. Or should I say soap operaish? No, my lola wasn't exactly a filthy rich haciendera and I think whatever piece of land she used to own had already been divided and distributed among her heirs years ago).

Anyway, Lola Meding (for Remedios), was a woman with an iron fist and admirable intelligence. She was also extremely beautiful in her younger days, judging from those brittle and yellowed photographs taken ages ago. She was the "belle of the ball" during her time, my mother -- who took after my granfather in terms of looks -- used to tell us.

I'm not the eldest grandchild, but I have reasons to believe I was her favorite and that she doted on me in her own strict ways. My older cousins went to live in Canada and Australia, and my older sisters and younger brother preffered tugging at my mother's skirt, so I was the only one who really grew up with La Meding. That should go without saying that I was also the one who playfully slammed on the keys of her precious piano and broke it. Sure, I got the scolding of my life, but the fact that La Meding didn't get the thing fixed made me think she wanted it to remain broken as a reminder of my youthful mischief. I also did crayon hieroglyphics on her white living room walls, and earned myself a special one-hour alone-time at a corner, where the antique grandfather's clock stood, as punishment. But Lola refused to repaint those walls some years after, even when there already was a major renovation going on in the house. She wouldn't dare say it, but I know she loved my art.

I was also the one who sat (and stood, sat and stood) on her rocking chair and sent it swinging so hard, it tumbled over and hit her gigantic porcelain vase (while I fell and had an injured arm). Add to that my catching a tiny toad and trying to dissect it alive using her bread knife (good thing my aunt caught me before things got really messy), and then drinking half of whatever's inside those miniature gin and wine decorative bottles displayed on her shelves.

And once, when I was around four years old, I went to church with her. She and her old lady-friends were talking after the service at the parsonage. I was holding her hand and listening to them. Their topic was about the moles on their bodies. (Uh-huh.) One of the ladies discreetly raised her skirt and revealed a huge mole on her inner thigh. I don't know what got to me, but a few minutes later, I raised that lady's skirt (and revealed her beige panties!) and said "Where's your mole again? Lemme see!" Imagine my grandmother's horror! Not only did I get the well-deserved spanking for that very ill behavior, but I was reprimanded by every adult member of the family as soon as they heard about it. Lessons learned: Moles on intimate parts of your body is not a good after-church topic. Don't discuss, much more show, titillating body parts in the presence of a male, regardless of his age. Raising women's skirts without her persmission is impolite.

Yeah, I have a handful of fond memories with La Meding. These were usually connected with things I did that caused me a welt, or a red ear, and tear-filled face, but when I look back, it now makes me smile. I had a very great childhood, thanks to her.

Rest well in heaven, La Meding. Don't worry, I'll marry Althea when she comes back. (So don't go about appearing in her dreams and spoiling the secret, okay?)


ask Darna, not Superman

I got a text message from one of my closest college buds and she was asking if I know of an OB-Gyn who could... uhm... "prevent something unwanted," saying that it's "an urgent, delicate situation."

My first reaction: What on earth made you think I'd know of someone who'd do that? Second: Goodness, gracious, this is one of those things you should classify as a girl thingy. Go get your sister, your room mate, the old lady who does your nails, or whoever it is that loves pink and glitters. Good thing it's through SMS and not in person, or you'd be amazed to find out how fast I can gulp down my coffee and bolt out the door.

Let me just clarify. I love her and she knows that. And I'd do things for her. But I truly hope she sent the same message to others close to her. Otherwise, I'd take offense at various different angles (Angles. I love that word :) ).

One of that has something to do with this thing called "machismo," and a respect thereof. No, feminists, don't raise your bolos just yet. I know how the word sends a signal for battle to your brains. I'm merely talking about the recognition of the certain things most guys are never comfortable discussing, and the fact that we feel awkward about these things. Things you reserve for your gay confidantes. Things like missing your period.

Another is more on the moral side. Do I look like a lust-driven rapist, a serial killer, or a perennial playboy who has produced countless spawns -- many of them masterfully terminated? Do you consider me a person who would consent to whatever it is you are contemplating to do even if I think you are not emotionally ready to handle the consequences of taking an innocent life, much more the consequences of an unsuccessful attempt at it?


But before I got carried further away... she texted again:

"It's yeast infection. Damn you."

Still... Still. It's a girl thingy. Go get Darna. Damn you.


ACK!!!! May flowers na naman!

I think I have a secret admirer. Either that or may mga kamag-anak akong akala patay na ako. When I arrived home today, there was a bunch of pink roses waiting outside my door. The card simply had my name, typewritten. Yun lang. Joseph __________ centered on a purely white card.

I asked the condominium guard kung may napansin siya. He told me that he did notice something, sabay tawa na may kasamang kantyaw. Mang Gus also indicated that he knew who was bringing me the flowers, but when I pressed him for more information, he just laughed again, and winked. He wouldn't tell me kahit anong pagmamakaawa ang gawin ko.

This is driving me nuts.

I think this is the fourth bouquet of roses left outside my door. The other time, it included a box of chocolates. Parang nililigawan ako, pero ayokong mag-assume.

And palagi, the only indication that the flowers are for me is the card with the typewritten name. I tried to ask the administrator to allow me to install a camera outside my door. I reasoned that it was a security move on my part. Di ako pinayagan.

The first time, I called my girlfriend and thanked her for the flowers. Wrong move. Laking away noon. She thought I was fooling around, and even after repeated assurances that I wasn't, ayaw talaga maniwala. Di ko rin maconnect; if I was fooling around, e di dapat I wouldn't mention it to her and I wouldn't call to thank her for the flowers if I knew she did not send them. Pero akala ko siya talaga.

The third time, natawa na lang kami. She teased me na buti pa ako may flowers, samantalang siya hindi man lang maalalang padalhan ng bagoong at tuyo ng boyfriend niya. I sent her a package of dried mangoes -- kasi baka di pwede ang bagoong at tuyo because of their nasty smell -- and when she received it, inaway pa rin ako kasi daw walang flowers!

I called her and seriously asked if she's not putting one on me. She swore na hindi siya.

May list of suspects ako. Sayang naman yung deductive reasoning na natutunan ko nung college kung di ko gagamitin di ba. Number 1, whoever is sending these flowers has to be a tenant in the building, or else di sila papapasukin ni Mang Gus. Number 2, she has to be from my floor, kasi bihira naman akong may makasabay sa elevator na hindi ko ka-floor. Kung meron man, I doubt kung may lasting impression.

So, ang suspect ko is Ms. G, yung flirty executive ng isang malaking company dito. Or it could be Mrs. H, matandang matrona na mahilig mag-ballroom. Sana si Ms. G., kasi hassle si Mrs. H. War freak yung asawa niyang hapon eh. Pero si Ms. G. naman kasi, deadma lang kung makasabay ko siya sa elevator. Our exchanges are limited to Hi, Hello, anong floor? Minsan nga walang kibuan, smile lang.

Sana hindi si Mrs. H. kasi yung huling lalake na nalink sa kanya, balita ko pinutulan ng daliri at binugbog in one night, that was after ninakawan yung bahay niya at pinagpupukpok yung kotse niya. Walang exaj!

Yung iba dito, either di ko kilala, or lalake, or may asawa, or sobrang bata, I mean, hindi pa tumutungtong ng high school.

* * *

Honest lang ako ha, but these flowers are boosting my male ego. May kiliti rin, baga. It makes me think that somehow, somewhere, someone is uplifted by seeing me smile. Hahaha. May mga natutunaw din pala sa looks ko? And these flowers seem expensive, so talagang malakas ang tama sa akin ng admirer ko. Hehe.

But not knowing who it is is driving me crazy. I mean, it's not that may mangyayari more than this between us, but still, it's nice to know your fans. Para din may peace of mind ka, di ba. Besides, sa dami ng mga psycho-thrillers na napapanood ko, medyo natatakot na akong buksan yung pinto ko sa gabi, or lumabas ng elevator without first checking kung may ibang tao sa floor.

Minsan din, I find myself trying to catch the giver. Umuuwi ako ng maaga, tapos I take the stairs, baka sakali. Almost always, wala ang flowers. Lalo nang wala rin yung nagiiwan.