Chapter 1: Paradise Reality


BOOK ONE

 

 

This is reality.  And maybe, just maybe, paradise too.

 

“ Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my open mind.  Possessing and caressing me . . .”

-Across The Universe, The Beatles

This is the year 2010.  I am in my thirties and I am more alive than ever before.

Also, I was in the Philippines four times this year.

The first time was in May when my mother got sick and I had to see her.

The second time was in August when I lost my job of five years in Dubai.

The third time was by time travel when I found my old diaries in our house in Zambales to which my life went back vividly to the years 1991 up to 1996.

And the fourth time, in November, by ambiguity and hallucination, when the love of my life decided that we should no longer be together.

This is the voice of my broken heart and the profuse speeches in my head that came undone.

These are the accounts of the Philippines, after being away from her for many years.  A union to reunions and satire, to humidity and rain and to time and the transformation of two decades unravelling in front of my eyes.

This is a homecoming.

 
 
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me. It’s like all I can do is keep writing this gibberish to keep from breaking apart.”
– The Perks of Being a Wallflower / Stephen Chbosky

ORTIGAS

August 26, 2010

I woke up and found myself in the executive suite of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ortigas.  I was still fuzzy from all that late-night coffee at Gloria Jean’s with my sister Dess and my brother Mark, but I managed to remove myself from all the coffee

from all lineage – from the night, to this morning,

laying a bet to my day that started at 6:15 in the morning as I opened the curtains and saw below me, fourteen floors below me, outstretched and already an early bird, Manila, the Philippines, a bet that was, in fact, the unfastening of my life a month back when I had to wake up at 6:15 in the morning to embrace my calendar of the day, in a city poles apart from where I was standing called Dubai when I had, in fact, a life.  Or was that even a life at all?  To put on my manicured red herring, my waxed hair, dust my laptop, pout and smile fleetingly in the mirror seconds before I hit the elevator praying, “God, give me a good day!”  every day for the past five years.  Today, as I looked down to the miniature cars veering off to the Swastika traffic, the length of the Pasig route and I remembered being fretful about walking out lest I would be flicked on by a cigarette by motorists who smoked inside their cars or being stabbed candidly by the crazies who roamed the city as much as vagrant dogs homing on every given pore of the metropolis.  I flinched to the sound of the television that was left open last night.  ETC Channel was advertising the second season of Glee as the entire seven thousand and seven islands of the Philippines awaited Charice  (Filipina singing sensation who made it to the Oprah Winfrey Show) and her debut to the show.  I turned the television off and sat in the corner sofa, betting against my now-tousled hair, my bearded chin, my sour, post-coffee breath of first light, that I will be in the Philippines for a while because I need to take this prospect of rest, after losing my job of five years in Dubai.  To recollect and hide from everyone who’s been a part of my life for the past five years.  And P, my boyfriend, who was left in Dubai, would have to wait for me because I decided to come back to Dubai two months from now.  I just need to extricate from all the hurt.  Losing a job in your thirties can be bitter and as I sat in the transcendent hotel couch, I wished for the universe

from all lineage – from the night, to this morning,

that the whole thing would reveal a certain point of reference to where I should take off next.  I bit my nails and thought about breakfast.  I thought about pan de sal.  A very hot pan de sal and Lilly’s Peanut Butter as my palate took pleasure in P’s morning tongue on mine, just a month back, when he was my next-door keepsake to compassion and my paradise reality prior to the actuality that my heart was so hard to find.  How did a man taste like?  How did P tasted like?  A man tasted like a nameless fruit, both runny and sharp, almost like veal, and P tasted like a serial killer, nameless of his fatality to my tongue, almost like meat, a smiling peril to my heart but positioned there humanely, kissing me, with all his heart.  So, I closed my eyes once again, losing my surplus of absorption in my newfound paradise reality, honking and puckering his brow fourteen floors down, its grassroots scurrying to Ayala and Magallanes so as not to miss time ins, breakfast meetings, morning rendezvous with an unwanted lover the pledge of this damp Thursday morning.  Fourteen floors up, I soaked in my own adaptation of rain

from all lineage – from the night, to this morning,

remembering where it all began, seventeen days ago, in Hong Kong, where the rain was intense, and the clouds lay comatose and where the plane that carried me from Dubai, landed, with my life pleated tidily inside my carry-on bag.  Waiting to be shaped into something perceptible and perhaps, something that will show me, one way or the other, a way out of it.

 

 

 

HONG KONG

August 9, 2010

I have been to Hong Kong six times in my life and the city never failed to infuriate me.  Apart from the rain, they have the worst air traffic in the world for which planes can go around its aerophobic hemisphere for an hour before landing, thus making everyone up in the air seasick, it rains all time (or at least on the occasions that I have been there) and worst of all, it has become my transit of cataclysm twice.  Back in 2003 when I had to call it quits in Saudi Arabia, I remember sitting for an hour at the airport wondering what to do with my life after leaving everything behind.  Today, I sat here wondering about the same thing.  And worst.  I did not just leave my apartment, or my sister who lives in Dubai, or my venomous job that became my life for five years but also, I left P behind.  My P.  The love of my life.

Sitting down, I took my old 2009 date book and scribbled away.  .  .

It was meant to be it was meant to be it was meant to be . . .

 

 

Can I call it PARADISE not doing anything?  Can it be paradise being away for two months from a lover who has been a vital component to my everyday life?  This appalling rain in Hong Kong is not giving me any answers.  Why am I craving for answers anyhow?  Wasn’t it I who said never to find answers in the multifarious events of life – the ones that was never planned – because it will only distract the greater, collective plan?  Yes I am impatient but here, in this disobedience, impeded by the torrential rain, I sing away, feeling the power of the word parthenogenesis.  A replica of my unfertilized providence and the renewal of my erratic life episodes.  What is reality then?  What can it give me as I inscribe herein the reproduction as a new person?  A person who left things behind?  A person with only himself to think about?  To get to know “me”  more, perhaps, in the course of this mundane nothingness?  Destiny?

 

 

If this was destiny, then destiny is, quite strongly, a visible force that can show you – straight in the face – that things can turn ugly even when you are not controlling it.  A reality setting in.  A reality, like destiny, that you can’t control because it is written.  But does it really work that way?  My friend Mai in Dubai told me this after I lost my job: Jon, it is unfair to the universe if your life is all knowingly perfect.  You must be in this scenario to get the balance.  Deep inside, I wanted to retaliate but deep deep down inside, I knew that Mai was right. This is REALITY.  And reality, in its many facets can sting immensely.  And I accepted the fact that my destiny was to fail in keeping my job because, written as it was, I must not only learn something from it, but also, realize that when God closes the door,

 

 

He opens the roof.

 

ROXAS BOULEVARD, MANILA

August 9, 2010

 

HongKong was eventful and from there I felt the genesis of everything that synergized my unwanted welcome to the Philippines.  After yet another wobbly Cathay Pacific flight to Manila an hour later, I touched base at exactly 9:55 in the morning.  Ten minutes before that, I was airborne and had the full advantage of my window seat and saw the city’s unsightly, stately aerial view of tires atop scanty roofs and the very auburn Pasig river and told myself, “Oh Inang Bayan ko (Oh my motherland)  . . . “

Mark’s face was fixated on mine as we sped up the roads of humid Manila to Dasmarinas, Cavite, where I was going to stay, in my sister Angeline’s house, for the rest of this time off? retreat? It was the kind of look, the glare that begged me to speak out.  It was my brother’s way of verbalizing his mind towards mine, his classic way of looking at people that was neither sharp nor judgmental.  As I looked imperturbably at the window, shaping the bedlam of the humidity and the endless carbon monoxide poisoning the entire Macapagal highway, I allowed Mark to stare at me for the good one hour inside the car.  It was beginning to feel prickly because I knew he wanted to hear my tirade and was willing to lend me his shoulder in all of this, but I chose to be wordless and so he wedged to his muted compassion.

Inasmuch as I wanted to complain my fate being jobless and forced to come back to the Philippines, I finally told him, “Kuya, this is how God wanted me to realize that I only have one body and that I have been working on for a very long time now.  I am set to rest and stretch my legs after three years of short holidays – lack of sleep – stress – and what have you . . . “

“Speaking, when are you coming back to Dubai?  How did P take it?”

I did not reply for a minute and then I smiled and told him that P will be waiting patiently in Dubai and that I am planning to come back in October.  Two months, I said, would initiate my personal regeneration and probably by then, I would have forgiven the economic recession and the fact that I have lost my job and have left the country where my love and my life breathed in abandonment.

Inside, I held on to the fact that I have been given this time to rekindle with my old self.  The self that needed filtering and mysticism.  I held on to the fact that I will uncoil in the Philippines with my family, get my much-needed rest  and then come back to Dubai in two months,  get a better job and be reunited with P who will be waiting for me with open arms and with all his love.

 

DASMARINAS

August 19, 2010

 

My dearest P,

 

MONDAY.  Had a little time to jot down thoughts before the preparation for Jed’s birthday would commence here.  Mama is napping.  She woke up with us at 5:30 AM for the “crap crepe” thingy in the morning to welcome Jed’s 8th birthday.  It was a GV morning more so because Mama is here and she brought a lot of sunshine to the house.  You should know how my mom can infuse hard laughter among us.  We literally forget we are adults by merely listening to her comic timings.  We all become children again.  I am so glad she is well.  As you know, it was devastating to see her last May under such condition but she is much better and we are all happy.

 

Angeline is a busy bee as usual because she is expecting a big day today.  She will be attending tons of meetings today apart from the radio interview that she was anticipating since last night.  She will be interviewed for the up and coming activity of her department (the unadulterated website of De La Salle University) to which she is head manager and resident professor. 

Of course the kids were action-packed, particularly Jed, who was high enough to exclaim his birthday “day” over his crap crepe and Milo.  We were just a bit distracted with Joaquin’s sneezing.  Apparently, his allergy was at it again.  He got “sprayed” by his dad after he took a bath as if it was as easy as putting powder in his back.  To me, it is a horrible thing.  It is like a nebulizer only it is sprayed (or as I called it, hosed in) in the nose.  You can just imagine the kid’s discomfort in the entire process.  It is ironic though that Joaquin is also allergic to grass and yet he rolls around the soccer field with no qualms or allergic reactions.  I guess it comes with time . . . growing up . . . you  get passed it.

TUESDAY.  Had tea time with Mama and Angeline today and I found it complacent.  I had to use that word for the simple reason that it was . . . it brought about many issues on family to which I derived enough pleasure from.  I had to say enough because there are family issues that brought more negativity than I can engulf.  I have been surrounded by loads of positive energy in the recent months that rest assured, I can dissect all derogatory situations herein, but somehow, there is a part of me that is drained.  I was looking at myself in the mirror awhile back and I saw myself pouting . . . well, I pushed it back and made it into a phony smile.  Like I always do in times of nega-attacks . . . Hehehehe . . . No worries really.

 

I snap out of these things easily.  I just can’t rid of the fact that no matter how we reduce ourselves from family issues, they will “always” remain to be so and inasmuch as we want to get out of it and strive to eradicate the surmounting possibilities – YOU JUST CAN’T.  Blood is thicker than water.  A thousand times I told myself, “Hay dedma !!!”  (Sigh!!!  Ignore!!!)  but at the end of the day, I can’t play offhand because people get hurt.  And these people are my family.

I will reserve the stories when I get there.  I have no plans of painting them all here in written vernacular lest I put a cloud in your clear day.  Anyway, here’s to smiles and ever afters . . . we can’t be taunted by existential angst as both of us “as a couple” have that in kilograms in our individual tainted brains.  Which I am proud of, just in passing . . .

 

 

ANOTHER MONDAY.  The party was great as it was.  Food was superb.  I had an early evening as usual.  I snoozed right past 10 PM when everyone was watching Karate Kid.  I guess deep down inside, I am already spent and my day was already well-spent having talked to you over the phone, thus, I slept peacefully knowing that my highlight of the day has happened already – Jed’s party and your call.  Thanks for calling by way.  I have to mention here that your calls and SMS messages mean a lot to me because in more ways than one, I am reminded that you are mobilized, breathing and just there waiting for me.  Celestial.  Cosmic.  Distance.  Space.  With your messages, you have no idea how it feels to be entwined celestially and cosmically.  Distance and space is clearly blown away into a touchable, tangible thing.  Sorry for the blabber – I just want to say that IT FILLS ME up.  Your messages actually make me tingle and IT gets through my day being reminded how having a REASON to live and TO laugh heartily is the biggest realization I have stumbled upon LOVING YOU.

 

TUESDAY EVENING AND WEDNESDAY MORNING.   I was doing my glutathione regimen in the shower  last night when the boys hollered that somebody was calling me.  I missed it.  It was an unregistered land line number and even before the boys heard it, that same number was already calling me three times.  Then I checked my Dubai number and had 2 messages from Resty of The Aviation Club.  He was asking me if I am still in Dubai.  I had a good feeling that the second message was from him as well as I am anticipating a job offer from him but it was from Ana whose birthday was today.  I slept wondering whether Resty would even reply to me.  Or Allan.  Or the entire Dubai for that matter.

I woke up at 8 AM today.  A litter later than my usual 5 AM daily eye opening.  The boys were already in school and I had a breakfast on my own.  A not-so-hearty breakfast of Gardenia white bread over Nuttella and butter.   I did not even have coffee for the simple reason that I am so caffeined for almost a week now.  I had Fit and Right anyhow . . . all good.  My phone was silent.  I was expecting a text from you.  Nothing.  My Philippine cell was also silent. 

It is exactly 9:45 AM now and nothing is happening.

It’s just another day without you beside me.

 

Life is SWEET.

 

I love you babe.

 

Jon

 

ROXAS BOULEVARD,

MANILA

August 9, 2010

 

Mark’s face was fixated on mine as we sped up the roads of humid Manila to Dasmarinas, Cavite, where I was going to stay, in my sister Angeline’s house.  “Speaking, when are you coming back to Dubai?  How did P take it?”  Mark asked.

I did not reply for a minute and then I smiled and told him that P will be waiting patiently in Dubai and that I am planning to come back in October.  Two months, I said, would initiate my personal regeneration and probably by then, I would have forgiven the economic recession and the fact that I have lost my job and have left the country where my love and my life breathed in abandonment.  I looked out to the famous Roxas Boulevard, where Manila Bay rocked its manic and acerbic waters to the walls of my guarded sentiments.  I was almost in tears remembering how P looked at me at the airport and his unyielding arms wrapped around me as we said our See you soons.  I opened the car window and allowed the semi-polluted air engulf my defiant tears, as P got clouted by the abrupt contortion of sounds of vehicle, the unrelenting vim and vigour of my native soil, a country where I spent my first twenty three years, while inside,

from all lineage – from the night, to this morning,

I held on to the fact that I have been given this time to rekindle with my old self.  The self that needed filtering and mysticism.  I held on to the fact that I will uncoil in the Philippines with my family, get my much-needed rest  and then come back to Dubai in two months,  get a better job and be reunited with P who will be waiting for me with open arms and with all his love.

I was wrong.

Also Read:     https://jonverzosa.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/day-50-along-came-paolo-along-came-an-end/

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