Herminio is a thrifty man. He always has his ways in making a budget meal look like a buffet. His classmates are also mystified with how Herminio survives the whole day with the tight amount of budget that he always brings to school – considering how far his school is from his home. But Herminio is clever enough to know what he is doing. He values money so much that he couldn’t even think of anything to spend it on (because he hates spending money for himself).
But there is one thing Herminio couldn’t stop spending his money for, Regina, his girlfriend. Regina does not demand too much from Herminio since she can already be happy when he gives her the simplest gifts. Regina is contented with eating street foods whenever they are having a date, and Herminio is quite happy with that because he doesn’t have to spend too much. But sometimes, Regina gets upset whenever Herminio tries to avoid spending a lot on their dates. This disappoints her and causes Herminio to spend the money he has been trying to save for himself. Nonetheless, Regina still understands the times when Herminio has absolutely nothing to share, in which she sometimes shoulders everything with her money.
One day, Herminio’s father gave him a one-thousand Peso bill, an amount of money large enough in Herminio’s standards.
“Don’t tell your mom that I gave you money,” his father said.
“Thank you, dad,” Herminio said. “I won’t tell mom.”
Herminio knows that his mother would never give him his daily allowance if she finds out that he has enough money for the week. Now, it is up to Herminio how to spend the money his father gave him.
He thought of buying the books that he had always wanted to buy. Or maybe buying game credits for the online game that he is addicted to playing. But instead, he thought about repaying Regina for what she had spent for him in the past few weeks. So, with the huge amount of money in his hand, he thought of having a date with Regina. It’s been a long time since they ate at a restaurant.
I’ve been living here longer than most of the people here. I was born here and I grew up here. For the past two and a half decades, I watched this town grow. New faces in new houses; every day is a brighter day.
Most of the locals I grew up with are perhaps too old to recognize me, but some still do. Was it because I aged or had their memory been erased by time? On my morning walks, I pass by some neighbours sweeping old leaves and food wrappers off the street. They would often notice me and call my name to say hello. Only the old folks do this. The new neighbours don’t fancy sweeping the street. Are they still asleep? Or do they not like mornings at all?
I remember back when I was still young, I would often go out and play with my friends. We would play tag, hide-and-seek, and even pretend we are playing Counter-Strike live with pretend-bombs, bomb sites, and spawn areas. All of us call each other nicknames, and we only know each other by those names. I’m not sure if they still remember mine, but I still do remember theirs. It has been years since I last played with my friends. I seldom see my old playmates; if I do, I would see them smoking sticks. Some might have already left to live somewhere else with their parents. It seems like I’m the only one left here.
I do not go out and go around town that much anymore. But if I were shown all the people living in our town, I can recognize which people are living in the vicinity, while also naming those who I know. The rest, they are our new neighbours who settled in the numerous newly built apartments probably because our town is near the workplace. I can say, our town really grew big through the years.
A few months ago, I thought I saw a familiar face. I have a feeling because I can recall playing with her many years ago when we were kids. Or maybe she was just another of those new kids who came here just a few years back. I am not sure; I might not have actually seen her before.
But I have found myself in you
But you have given me a clue
From the lies
that were once my truth
Am I saved?
Or this is just the start
Of our own suffering
From being a mistake
And a conceiving erratum
Black from all whites
I am different
A complete opposite
Whose heart beats for my same kind
Asking; is it my fault?
That I long for the same color
A princess loving another princess
A girl who had sword behind her dress
Ang kasal ay kasal at walang makakapigil dito.
Ito ang sagradong sakramento ng pagsasama ng dalawang taong nagmamahalan at masayang kapiling ang isa’t isa.
Maglalakad papunta sa altar at ipagtatapat ang walang hanggang pag-iibigan ng dalawa.
At habambuhay nang magiging masaya ang buhay nila.
Buhay na kay sarap.
Buhay na kasama ang perpektong kapares mo.
Parang sa pagkain.
Ang kape, may gatas.
Ang toyo, may suka.
Ang dinuguan, may puto.
Ang manggang hilaw, may bagoong.
Tayo kaya, bagay ba tayo?
Kasi pakiramdam ko, ikaw na ang perpektong kapares ko.
Dahil mas masarap mabuhay kapag kasama ka.
Ang buhay ng isang tao, ay parang itim na kape.
Kapag hindi mo hinaluan ng tamis ay mananatiling mapait ang lasa nito.
Ikaw ang gatas sa kape ng buhay ko.
Ang nagpatamis sa mga araw na kulang sa lasa.
Nang dumating ka sa buhay ko, binigyan mong halaga ang bawat araw sa buhay ko.
Gabi-gabi ay natatakot akong mamatay ka, dahil ayaw kong magdusa ako sa iyong pagkawala.
Ang kutsilyong panghiwa mo sana sa iyong pulso, ipinanghihiwa mo na lang ng mansanas para sa’kin.
Mansanas na sa’kin mo lang iaalay.
Mansanas na sintamis ng mga halik mo.
Mansanas na hindi ko pagsasawaan lalo na’t kasama ka.
Hindi ko maisulat sa pamamagitan ng salita
Ang init na naramdaman ko nang pagmasdan kita
Mula ulo hanggang paa
Kahit na umikot ka pa
Bumabagal ang oras
Lumalalim ang paghinga
Nag-iinit ang sikmura
Pag-ibig na kaya?
O libog nanaman ba?
How can I enjoy this EMPHASIS
Without the thought of a hidden stab?
A shed of ink
A smear of tears
Nakita ko siyang nakatayo sa malayo
At tinanong niya ang pangalan ko
Ang sabi niya’y noon ay nakatira siya dito
At nasabi niyang marami nang nagbago
Ang pangalan niya raw ay Manong Julio
At dito raw siya ipinanganak
Kahawig ko raw ang kanyang apo
Na laman ng kanyang bunsong anak
Masaya siya dahil ‘di namin pinutol
Ang puno ng mangga na binabalikbalikan niya
Ang aming pag-uusap ay biglang naputol
Nang tawagin na ako ng aking mama
Malapit nang lumubog ang araw at naglalakad na papunta sa sakayan ng jeep si Henry na pauwi na mula sa unibersidad na pinapasukan. Kasama niya ang kaniyang matalik na kaibigan na si Faye na isang magaling na manunulat tulad niya.
“Kakain pa ba tayo?” tanong ni Henry kay Faye. “O uuwi ka na agad?”
Hinila ni Faye ang tali ng kaniyang bag na nakasabit sa balikat niya.
“Hmm, sige,” sagot ni Faye. “Nagugutom na rin ako eh.”
Lumiko muna sila sa kanilang dinaraanan at pumunta sa pinakamalapit na fastfood restaurant.
Habang sila’y naglalakad ay napansin nila ang isang mataas na gusali na luma na at mukhang abandonado. Tumingala sila at pinagmasdan ang sira-sirang mga bintana sa bandang itaas ng gusali.
“Ano’ng klaseng building ‘yan?” tanong ni Henry. “Lagi ko ‘yang nakikita pero ‘di ko alam kung bukas ba ‘yan.”
“Asan?” dumudungaw si Faye sa sa likod ng mga bahay.
“Ayun oh, ‘yung mataas na mukhang luma,” tinuro niya ang nag-iisang mataas na gusali sa lugar.
“Hala, oo nga ano? Nakakatakot ‘yung itsura niya.”
“Ha ha! Sarap gawan ng kuwento niyan.”
“Oo nga! Ano kaya maganda?”
“Ano, uhm, horror-adventure sa loob ng building na iyan. Ha ha ha!”
“Tignan mo naman kasi oh, ano kaya itsura niyan sa loob?”
Pinagmasdan nilang pareho ang mataas na gusali nang may kuryusidad. Maraming lumang gusali sa Maynila, pero nakakapangilabot tignan ang gusaling ito. Marahil iyon ay dahil ito lang ang natatanging gusali sa paligid na may taas na sampung palapag at mukhang matagal nang inabandona. Mula sa kanilang kinatatayuan, nakikita nila ang basag na salamin ng mga bintana at ilang mga punong tumutubo mula sa pader ng gusali. Walang pintura ang gusali, at kung meron man ay kumupas na ito sa tagal ng panahon nitong nakatayo at nadumihan na ng hangin at ulan.
“Gusto mo, daanan natin iyan mamaya?” tanong ni Henry kay Faye.
“Sige ba,” masigasig na sagot ni Faye. “Matagal ko na ring napapansin iyan eh. Kita kasi iyan sa bahay namin sa Q.C.”
“Talaga?” ‘di makapaniwala si Henry.
“Oo, pinagmamasdan ko nga iyan minsan ‘pag wala akong magawa.”
“O sige, puntahan natin iyan mamaya. Alam ko ‘yung daan papunta diyan eh.”
“Wow ah, hindi ka nga taga-rito eh.”
“Basta alam ko daan diyan! Tara na kumain na tayo!”
“Sabi mo iyan…”