April 20, 2024

Summer loves I have had a few, some unforgettable, the rest I care not to remember.
Failing to seize control of my heart in the first, completely losing my head in the other.
Incorrigible romantics claim that love affairs are dreams made in heaven, a phase of life that everyone needs to go through to become a better person.
Huh? Okay, but forbidden games always end up with painful memories, a stupid mistake that one will regret all his or her life.

Four years now I have been a widower but even today, sitting down with “friends,” I still can’t figure out who stabbed who in the back.
Did they, or did I? Each time I look at myself in the mirror, I see a vengeful glint in my eye, secretly wishing for the early demise of all Judases and Benedict Arnolds in the world, always going behind your back when they think you are somewhere else.
The day they are all dead is the day I forgive and forget.

Her name was Agnes, as I recall, a rather scrawny girl of fair skin, but it wasn’t just her pretty face that I found enchanting.
She had an easy way with words, witty, and funny, throwing back her head in laughter each time I cracked a joke.
I thought – wrongly – that I had her eating out of my hands, when all the time she was stringing me along, not as a game, but to make me feel good.
Confusing, wouldn’t you say. Women I never could read.
She and her younger sister, a tomboyish 15-year-old who loved to climb trees and ride horses, chaperoned by a spinster aunt, who it seemed to me, didn’t exactly relish the idea of an Ibaloy courting her niece, more so, except on occasion, one with an empty pocket.

One Friday afternoon, after “feasting” on pancit and a loaf of bread at Dainty ala merienda cena, the girls decided to visit Asin the next day, and I was tasked to hire transportation, set lunch at Toots Catbagan’s place – chicken grilled in coconut husk, cross the hanging bridge after, ending the day with a swim in the pool and a hot sulfuric bath before heading back home.
Just before boarding the jeep that would take me to the hot springs, Agnes hands me a small package that had all the imprints of the Central Bank. Opening the package, I see a neat stack of 20-centavo crispy bills that all in all amounted to P100.
The chaperone couldn’t conceal her surprise when I was picking up the tabs, including the rental payment of the jeep.
She angrily glared at her niece, who was a picture of feigned innocence.
“I think my ate likes you,” her younger sister whispers to me with a knowing smile.

But summer was coming to a close, and I hadn’t said a word about how I felt about her. Or maybe it just crossed my mind, or I may have blurted out something.
When I am in a bind, my memory becomes faulty.
It was the summer of ‘61, but it took a thousand summers to mend my broken heart.

Life in the year of the pandemic.
A tanod talking and acting like a lawyer, who says that lugaw is not an essential necessity.
A policeman who thinks he is a general in the ROTC, ordering a curfew violator to do 100 push-ups.
One hundred and 10 million Filipinos, and all the dumb ones are running the country.
Dumber still are the ones who believe them, crooks!
Have a fantastic summer!