Saturday, May 10


I met him last year in Bacolod. A nice kid, tall and shy, with a permanent smirk. I was in town for a workshop; he was the editor-in-chief of our host university's school paper. He saw, he said, the workshop-related banners all over the campus. He stayed the night at the nice pension house where I habitually stay whenever I'd find myself in the city, which, in hindsight, was every year since 2008, almost always for work. He had since moved back to Iloilo to go to medical school.

On Wednesday, I messaged him and was surprised when he replied. I was at the downtown area, a distance from Jaro, where his dorm was. His family lived in Passi, where, the following day, my team had lunch after a client shoot at nearby Dingle.

This year, he was ostensibly the same, perhaps taller, not so shy, but still largely quiet. We talked about Igbaras, a town where he recently went to to climb a mountain. It's an area I've been meaning to visit, I told him, the site of infamous water tortures during the Filipino-American War. Vague plans were made. Med school takes a lot of his time. My schedule is not to die for either.

Because nearby Robinsons closes at 8 o'clock, we were reduced to eating stale, overpriced Starbucks sandwiches. You know those people who eat with reckless abandon? A joy to watch, a joy to feed. I have a feeling that I will only fall in love with a man who eats just as heartily, in the same way that I feel that my growing facility with Cebuano is a preparation for a future in Davao or Dumaguete or Cagayan de Oro.

Between the sheets, he is tender, occasionally, and has nearly nothing to say. An ideal relationship, senile and always just trudging along.

Two days later in Narra, two hours away from Puerto Princesa, the youngest daughter of the client I had to interview would turn out to be his classmate. Where do you know him from, the cheeky girl asked. Exhausted, it took all my strength not to say, We had sex last night. Much was said about the world being tiny, and what are the chances. I was not, in fact, surprised. The world is small, the emotions at my disposal all too limited. Tenderness and variations thereof. Happiness. Exhaustion. Peace.

Later that day, post-pearls and dried pusit shopping, nine short hours after landing in Palawan, I lined up at the airport to head back to Manila. In the end, I always count on peace. Barring that, there are memories of nice boys and their big hands. Oh what they taught me. Things numinous.

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