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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

entry arrow7:18 PM | Tagalog Movies in the Reality of Our Lives

Yesterday, I heard the most amazing story. It seemed to come straight out of the cheesy but much-beloved Tagalog movies of the 80s -- of the desperately melodramatic Regal Films strain, and not the contemporary polished schlock of Star Cinema. It revitalized my own dwindling hopes that stupid, this-is-crazy-why-am-I-doing-this romance is still alive in a world that's overrun by irony and jadedness and sexual games and perfectly cultivated sense of detachment.

Let's talk about it in the dramatic present.

A very good friend of mine [let's call him Jared] is finally going home to Mindanao after years of study in Dumaguete. He has just come off a protracted breakup from a most serious relationship that may have lasted only months but had the intimacy of years. On his last night in Dumaguete, he had texted the former lover: "I am going home in five hours. I hope we can talk."

The lover [let's call him Joshua] does not reply. We soon see him instead in Escaño carousing with friends. Does he not get the message? Why is he not replying? "I want to go home na," says my friend, a catch of petulant sadness in his voice.

We look at each other. It is only 2 AM. That's like "lunch" in Escaño Time. Too early.

Hours later, in the early morning, Jared is finally bound for Dipolog, ready to go home. Another close friend [let's call her Maan] is with him to help arrange the various details of passage. Thirty minutes before the boat leaves, they receive a frantic call. It is Joshua, the former lover.

On the phone, Joshua begs Maan, "Don't let him leave, please."

"But he's already about to embark!"

"Please, Maan. Don't leave him leave. I need to talk to him."

"You waited until now to talk to him?"

"I did not get his messages until this morning! I swear! Please don't let him leave. Stall him."

"I can't, Josh."

"Let me talk to him."

But Jared will not talk on the phone.

Maan is flustered. How can all these things suddenly break in the last minutes? "He doesn't want to talk, Josh."

"Fine. I'm going there right now. Don't let him leave."

"The boat is leaving in fifteen minutes!"

"That boat is always late. Wait for me."

Joshua hangs up.

"He's coming," Maan tells Jared.

"I don't care," Jared says fiercely. And then, with sad tenderness, he tells Maan: "I'll miss you. Take care of yourself."

"But... but..."

"I'm going home." He hugs Maan goodbye, and hurriedly gets on the boat.

Soon, only minutes later, Joshua's car screeches into the small pier.

"Where is he?" he asks Maan.

"He's in the boat!"

"No no no no no... This is not happening." Joshua bangs his head against the steering wheel. He looks up suddenly. "Fine, I don't care. If I must, I'm going to Dipolog with him."

He yanks his car door open and rushes out, does not even close it.

"Where are you going?" Maan asks him.

"I'm buying a ticket."

"But your car!"

Joshua hesitates for a bit -- and then he turns to Maan quickly:

"Do you know how to drive? You can drive it back to my house."

"I don't know how to drive a car!"

"Bahala na."

"You're leaving it open?!"

"I have to go."

Joshua runs to the ticket booth, and a few minutes later, he walks the small plank to get inside the boat. A few more minutes, and it will whistle its signal to leave.

A stevedore standing nearby asks Maan: "Is everything all right?"

"I don't know," she says. "I don't know..."

Meanwhile, inside the boat, Jared is just settling into his bunk. On the other bunk beside him, an old man is preparing his flimsy bedsheets, arranging his travel stuff about him. Jared must have been thinking, So this is it. My last sight of Dumaguete. After those years studying here, this was how it was going to end...

He must not have expected to see the sight of Joshua suddenly standing there in front of him.

"Don't leave, please." Joshua tells him.

The old man beside them stares, perhaps out of puzzlement.

"What are you doing here?!" Jared says.

"Please don't leave!"

"The boat is about to leave na!"

"I don't care. I have a ticket. I am going to Dipolog with you. But please, please don't leave yet. Let's talk." He grabs Jared's trolley bag.

"Don't leave, please," Joshua says once more. But he knows that Jared knows that one more request like that, and he will be kneeling in front of him. Regardless of the spectacle. People in the cabin are now beginning to look at them.

The boat is now whistling... One toot, second toot...

"Fine, I'll stay." Jared says -- dazed. There is a look in his face that says I can't believe this is actually happening.

And they leave the boat.

And that's how Jared came to stay one more day in Dumaguete.

I told you, straight out of a Tagalog movie.

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