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

Superficial (1) (Fiction)

 

 

 

Goodness, what time is it?

I reached for my mobile phone, that also serves as the alarm clock for my everyday activities. Not that I have much to do these days. But it never hurt to keep the habit of waking up early and do more.

Not today, though. Forgot to set it last night. The sun is already up, threatening to melt the black top laid new outside my landlord’s house, of which I am a tenant, with the rent due sometime soon. Made it to the common sink all tenants use and washed my face with water already warm from the heat. Eyes felt puffy. The beginnings of stubble easily discernible on my fingertips, as my brain registers the fact that I am awake and I have to do something today.

What was it?

Dried my hands and face on the towel hanging by the veranda, still clueless of just what it was I was supposed to be doing. Filled the electric pot with warm water from the tap to boil. Barefooted and with dirt accumulated from last night’s dust settlings, took a few steps to the bathroom and relieved myself of the previous night’s caffeine consumption, noticing the grime from my bare feet on the wet floor. To use the bowl would require a lot of water because the flush is broke, so I aim for the drain and pour water around it, and the mud like dirt on the floor.

My Toshiba left on all night managed to finish the virus scan last. Thank fully, I have kept this laptop working even if the joint is about to lose it’s integrity, as I look for new emails.

No. No new job offers today. Drying my feet and legs with the tee I took off this morning, wet with perspiration and now also with slight stains of dirt. It’ll come off if I wash it, I assured myself, and threw it right smack into the clothes bin, and sat on my black monoblock chair, and lit a cigarette, the first of many, for the day, while browsing for news.

Ah.

There was supposed to be a call yesterday that didn’t come. I’m supposed to submit the drawings I did and get the balance payments. Sadly, I think they have no money, so play the waiting game.

But no, that was not why I had to get up early today.

The water boiled and I pull the plug, and made myself coffee. Hot as it is, I savor the smell and taste. Took a few puffs of smoke and tried to do some stretches. The usual ambulant vendors with pushcarts and baskets are already doing some good business outside with vegetables and fruits. I coul hear the guy selling watermelons, with his well modulated voice yell “PAHKWARYN!” over and over.

I’m hungry.

Not really, but something in my head says I have to have food today.

Got a fresh tee from the closet, took a second look and changed my shorts too. Because I noticed the sticky stuff that dried on the crotch on the one I was wearing. Remnants of last nights solitary sexual gratifications. One does that as the only relief for being alone in this city. I tell that to myself so I don’t mess around. Not anymore.

Quick look at the mirror and I went down the stairs, out the gate and walked to my favorite food stand. Favorite, because the manang there let me eat and pay later.

Which is what I’m about to do now since my wallet hardly has anything in it, just receipts and Pera Padala forms, and my coin purse is protesting that I can’t even fill it up with money. Macaroni soup, two servings for Php24, rice, meat and vegetables for about Php55 and I promised to pay her after I get my money from clients, lying through my teeth because as of today, I still don’t have anything to collect, just a finished project from the client whose finances are only a bit more flexible from mine.

After dodging jeepneys picking up passengers on the street, I made it back to my room on the second floor.

And what was it really that I am supposed to do today?

My coffee’s still warm, and I think I’ll just have the macaroni soup for now. The rest I will have for lunch. fervently hoping it would not spoil in this heat. The sky, so blue promises a day of unrelenting sunshine, that will surely burn the social networks with status posting of “Ang inet!” complete with hashtags and photo attachments, I smiled.

A soft wind managed to lift some feathers left by birds I caught playing by the veranda. And I could see pigeons way up.

Then it hit me.

I wa supposed to meet with a potential client for a storyboard job.

Goodness, what time is it?

8:22am.

Still enough time for a quick bath, and be in Sta.Mesa by 10am.

Okay.

Move you old fart. Time’s a-wasting.

(To Be Continued)

Losing Track of Time . . . .

As I grudgingly sit in one of those white-knuckle bus ride to Novaliches earlier today, at least the driver and conductor felt the need to play some music in their nightly plights of EDSA.

“..It’s three o’clock in the morning and it’s starting to get light . . “

Don’t get me wrong. I said “grudgingly” not because I am angry or anything, but rather, disappointed I had to leave Villamor earlier than I had anticipated. In one of those clean up and wash runs for the kitchen, my right index finger got hurt and I can’t scrape the large rice cooker pan clean enough. I guess I’m not that young anymore. I remember moving heavy tabletops, chairs and dinner stuff up and down Capitol Hills Golf Clubhouse years ago without my legs nor bones staging a protest, vehemently, I should add.

Still, time passes.

And being with the volunteers, with the smiles back in our faces at Villamor, time, really does fly. Like those Ospreys we saw lifting off like space ships from off the runway.

I’m distracted.

As we give out food prepared by volunteer cooks and chefs, sandwiches lovingly made by other volunteers at the tent, we have a good gig running – a coffee commando stand, the long table for hot meals, the kitchen all a buzz, the sandwich pantry busy like any bee hive , it had to wonder what will the survivors be doing in Camp Aguinaldo.  We tried to talk to some of the survivors as they wait patiently, although as of 4:30pm yesterday, the survivors were already in buses but were still waiting to be transported  for 3 hours already.

Imagine that.

In Tacloban Airstrip, they had to wait 3 days, or at least 48 hours to be on a flight to Manila. The flight is about an hour and a half, and at Villamor, they have to be grouped and processed, some for immediate medical attention, the rest mostly documentation and records, so give a an hour or so.

And I complain about a 3 hour bus ride to Magallanes just to switch buses bound for FTI to alight at Villamor.

But at the site, time passes, like rain drenching me when I was at Camp Aguinaldo meeting another volunteer who’s doing psychological support for the survivors – Ms. Tetchie of Gold’s Gym ,whom, by the time I got to ArtRelief at Villamor sent a group of young ones to help out – the rain poured and  fell and washed the streets I walked to EDSA.

The rain went quickly, and these weather mood swings seem to be the norm nowadays.

Arrived at the site, buzzing.

And I began to lose track of time.

Maybe because I lost my Casio watch while enjoying the camaraderie. It was a 10-year battery , and about to die on me. That was a long time to own a watch, even for me. Goodbye, old watch, hope the person who found you can use the time to appreciate, even with the dilapidated state.

Maybe because  doing volunteer work does wonders for the soul.  And if auras are visible to the naked eye, the whole setup will be glowing bright colors, should you see the faces cooking, stirring, slicing, chopping, packing food, giving out water, minding the discarded stuff , cleaning up and then messing the place again with a new set of food preparation. By 1am this morning, Oplan Hatid was back in form, adding to the radiance of people and smiles.

And I lose track of time.

Maybe because I really don’t have to.

Photo stolen from Juan Benedicto’s FB

Photo stolen from Teddy Arellano’s FB

[Apologies to Teddy Arellano and Juan Benedicto. Sorry guys, I gave up on photography long time ago, so I steal from Indios and you guys. Thank you!]