The Prodigal Son Returns

The day started with me walking up Buendia Avenue on a nippy Saturday morning, on my way to a rendezvous point where Arniel, an old friend whom I haven’t seen for about a decade, give or take a few, is going to give me a ride down memory lane.

The blasted dude didn’t age one bit! Still the tidy, neat guy he was when we were getting shitfaced drunk back in the day (well I was always shitfaced drunk back then, he was seldom inebriated, methinks). He arrived and we gassed up, he did some work stuff for a couple of minutes and we were off.

We went to see the boys back home, home being Paete, Laguna, where we grew up.

The Bulldogs Club, as we’re famous, or infamous for, depends on who you’re talking to, was a bunch of guys growing up in Paete, painting souvenir bulldog pen heads, and everything started from there. We had a basketball team that became one of the team to beat at our local basketball tournaments (yes we have a pennant!) which came slow and hard, as we were wet behind the ears and was only in it for the heck of it. Our early team names, as Ka Emer reminded me, was Loafers, then became Youngsters, back then already giving the opposing team a hard time, and the official Bulldogs Team that won a championship, if I recall correctly. Basketball games at smalltowns are really an event worth cleaning and brushing your flipflops clean and be seen among the fans shouting bloody murder when a referee failed to call a foul.

Good times!

It’s not just being a basketball team, I can hardly dribble, but the rest of the guys were good at it. We also dabbled in music. Everyone in our crew can sing, but it was me who did most of the vocal duties when we decided to learn our chops seriously. Ambo on guitar, Tavern on drums, Me on bass and vocals, and most anyone who would jam with us, with the few song list we can play decently. Most of the time we were playing, we were also drinking, as most boys in our age then are wont to do. There was also that part of long forgotten memories, when, before we started palying in a band, we would pool up our money buy some pasta, set-up a place with a few strobes and colorful lights, taking turns at the tape player and turntable and viola! The party is on! To make sure all the invited girls can eat what measly food and drinks we had to offer, we made sure everyone has taken their share before eating ourselves, maybe even waiting for some leftovers.

Bulldogs Club Collage

Photos: Nelia De Luna, Arniel cajumban, Mahalia dalay, Rey Cajipe

Music has always been a part of the Bulldogs Club. And yesterday, I sang my heart out, because I haven’t anything to contribute financially, I just added some entertainment with my singing, even though it’s really hard to say the words when I’ve got less teeth now as I did back then. Still, yesterday was when I feel I could fuck up a song and the guys wouldn’t mind. But I think I did pretty well, considering I had to follow a more visceral singer in the person of Ramil. Continue reading

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Dichotomy

Noun: dichotomy [dI’ko-tu-mee or di’ko-tu-mee]

  1. Being twofold; a classification into two opposed parts or subclasses
  2. Branching repeatedly into two

Recently I got an invitation to attend a gathering of old high school friends. I was downhearted and forlorn, thinking how could I, at my current state of unemployment and almost nonexistent financial sources, bring myself to this take that bus ride and savor the camaraderie and joy of peole who I have come to love as I grow up.

It was very difficult for me.

Here I am,  getting all social with my Twitter and Facebook, and continually posting on my WordPress and Google+, and it has come to my attention that, for all  the reality of poverty, I seem to give off a seemingly well-off character trolling the interwebs constantly. Mainly because I choose to speak in English, with my writing and my so-called social presence online. The music I listen to, the videos I am often fond of posting on my timelines, gives off some sort of content and comfort one sees with the millions of people trying to look larger than life with their selfies and OOTD’s and foodie post. Though I am not prone to doing all these, sadly, I see the analogs.

Whenever I post a finished inked drawing, likes and exclamations of appreciation, to other people look like I have made it. Which is far, really far from the truth. For several months now, I have survived from dole outs and charity from friends. My family is better off within the warmth of the countryside and the people supporting them. I was abandoned by other people, too, though I couldn’t blame them for doing so. Sometimes, in the deep of the night when I feel I deserve something better, my thoughts turn to negative, with anger and rage at the people whom I fairly given my talent and skill and loyalty, only to be treated like rag, too dirty and worn to be of any use. They could be right you, know, in their twisted version of altruism.They have their reasons. But sometimes it rasps like P1330221sandpaper in my soul. But to dwell on it would be courting disaster so I am moving along.

I didn’t care to weigh myself, but I seem to be just a few pounds short of 80. I know I used to be a heavy 120++ and my clothes seem to hang like laundry on hangers.

I got a rousing compliment about my newfound drawing skills with pen,ink and brush.

My  rented room is just a few notches from being too unwholesome and downright  trashy, probably the best description is the setting for “Scorpio Nights”, but without the sex, just the weathered, broken down dwelling.

And the cat smells.

But online, some find it humorous that I comment on my cat housemates as if, it’s a regular thing, and not at all annoying.

So this invitation, try as I might, may not push through, and did not actually, because I have not the the means to do so. I declined without getting into the full details of my absence. If I tell people I only eat two meals a day, they would laugh and dismiss it as just one of my witty quips.

Which is true. The two meals a day, I mean. Most of the time, the only food I get in my system is accompanied by brandy  provided by my Mayor Street Preacher friends here in Makati, one of the few saving graces handed to me: a brother’s unflinching love, a best friend’s undying loyalty, a couple of friends who have gone out of their way to give me something more than what I asked. But there is one other saving grace that wants no part of me whatsoever and just up and went. I suffer in silence. I have never been ungrateful, but some peole tend to be impatient with the returns, given my circumstances. To hear them talk would sound like they don’t care. But they do.

People may talk of not caring what others think, but they do care about what peole think.

But things are looking up.

My gig with Mike is now on for 8 more weeks, with a new show requiring comics/drawing as the show intro in the offing, my komiks portrait seem to be gathering enough interest for people to actually ask about it, hopefully more want theirs too, and my own stories are getting fuller everyday – drawing and adding new aspects of the story by writing a bit more each day – has made me more determined to see this through. Very much like an MMA fighter who is losing with every round, but resolved to finish the whole bout.

For respect.

Now, a new invitation, this time from a bunch of hooligans I went out with, got mugged with, got stoned-faced drunk with in my youth and early adul life is calling. Do I make myself available?

Damn well, I will.

Solitude is something I have learned to live with since my childhood. But sometimes being with friends does wonders to my being. I could get some hard facts slapped in my face, the guys would probably berate me for being too scarce these years, and I may get a lot of flak from stories I haven’t told, but dammit, I miss mingling with real people, not some online community.

So come the 23rd of July, I will be taking the trip back to my hometown…

And I will enjoy myself.

He Knows About Angela Postscripts

Wake [verb]

v.tr.

1. To rouse from sleep; awaken.
2. To stir, as from a dormant or inactive condition; rouse: wake old animosities.
3. To make aware of; alert: The shocking revelations finally woke me to the facts of the matter.
4.

a. To keep a vigil over.
b. To hold a wake over.

It’s when something jolts you out of your stupor, achingly disrupts your otherwise redundant daily activities and you keep yourself from screaming your lungs out from the disorientation and shock from the knowledge and realization that, at least, the reality of temporary existence is absolutely inevitable.

No, it’s not that you have been in a hedonistic state of living, but caught up with the race, work, family, current events, well connected but disconnected, these are times when you step back and look at what we have become, or where we have come to. Or just plain slack jawed at what transpired.

He Knows About Angela Postscripts

Wake n.

1. A watch; a vigil.
2. A watch over the body of a deceased person before burial, sometimes accompanied by festivity. Also called regionally viewing.
                                                                                        3. wakes (used with a sing. or pl. verb) Chiefly British

a. A parish festival held annually, often in honor of a patron saint.
b. An annual vacation.
One digs deeper with this feeling of loss, of finality, of severance.  A definition suggests a watch, a vigil, and I concur, this life is all about standing watch over those you hold dear. And the acceptance of holding the candle being passed unto you.  Even from someone you hardly know. As I look back, the passing of my own mother, whom I never got the chance to talk to while still alive and
feisty, caring and loving. The death of my mother in law, literally in my arms. An aunt. A childhood friend who got hacked to pieces in the mountains. A kindred spirit and probably the closest I could get for a sister,  bound, gagged, stabbed more than I could understand, lying lifeless and bloody in our apartment.  And just recently, an artist whom I would like to emulate. I’d rather celebrate their lives than skulk in a dark corner.
Wake n.
1. The visible track of turbulence left by something moving through water: the wake of a ship.
2. A track, course, or condition left behind something that has passed: The war left destruction and famine in its wake.

Idiom:

in the wake of

1. Following directly on.
2. In the aftermath of; as a consequence of.
So what now? Those of us who are left behind? Will we shed tear and mourn and grief ? Is it too hard to understand that their course has ended but ours is just turning a new corner? It’s not about death really, but a leap of faith, to go on without them. To burn the bridge in the dark and let the flames light the way on the path ahead. Will we crumble with what’s left or  build something from the remnants, of the ruin, from the ashes.
Ina. Mama. Popert. Raldies. Mamu.
He knows about Angela.
ANGELA DON’T GO AND LEAVE ME TONIGHT (LEAVE ME TONIGHT), 
ANGELA PLEASE BE WITH ME (ANGELA), 
ANGELA DON’T EVER WALK THROUGH MY LIFE (WALK THROUGH MY LIFE), 
ANGELA PLEASE BE WITH ME, CAUSE I LOVE YOU. 
He  even commented, in one of those short banters we had the time to indulge in, that the chorus sounded too juvenile. I guess he was right. Too much weight on the loss. Too much ” what will I do without you” sort of sentiment.
They will never pass this way again. But it would be nice if they could see that we are holding up good and doing the best we can. The longing line from the song may even sound romantic and remorseful, but it just won’t  do to stay in that train of thought.
I’m saying goodbye without looking. Probably for the best. The rains keep coming. Probably the sign of his passing, and all those that went before him.
Move along.