I finally finished writing the short story I've been trying to finish for the past 20 years. When it came together today, I couldn't help but shed a tear or two. I never thought I'd get to conclude it; I've tried abandoning it before, but somehow I still kept going back to it, at least once a year, each revision a key to a tiny piece of revelation I did not quite get yet. All I knew was that I had to follow a medical intern during a night of duty at the local hospital, and then into the ER comes this boy who has been stabbed by an ice pick. I started writing it 20 years ago when a friend of mine -- Dennis Mainit -- was stabbed in Barefoot [now Cafe Racer] with an ice pick, and the events of the past few days somehow brought back all the memories. But I think I had to be the age I am now to understand what I was trying to do with this story, and now it's finished.
The You Do Note girl reminds me of how we were in grade school in the late 1980s when my classmates and I would put on as classroom drama an ENTIRE FILM starring Sharon Cuneta we had just seen. We would rehearse every scene we could remember, trying to be faithful to every line reading. The slapping scenes were always highlights. I did the character played by Christopher de Leon [I think?], and my classmate Diedre, whom I had a crush on [yes], was of course Sharon. [I read that as a "sign," to be honest.] I think this was Lino Brocka's Babangon Ako't Dudurugin Kita (1989), because the timeline is just right. We would have been in third grade.
I don't recall what class it was we did this for. Filipino? And why did the teacher allow us to do it? For her own amusement? Whoever it was, I belatedly appreciate her tolerance for our childhood fancy at acting out an entire movie: it must have been hilariously abridged and chaotic, but it was a foundational experience for me later on loving film, theatre, and writing.
I haven't seen Eddie Garcia's P.S. I Love You since I was a wee kid in 1981 when it opened and established Sharon Cuneta and Gabby Concepcion as major teen stars. It has not aged well, no? It's like the ultimate privileged kids in a my-parents-don't-understand-me movie. And all these trappings of riches—Mercedes Benzes! private planes! haciendas! horses!—seem to be too much in the context of the realities of 1981, and seem to contradict Garcia's general sense of subduedness, underlined with Sharon's very inchoate, very whispery performance. ["Papaaah..." "Mamaaah..." It's too cute, to be honest.] I think this needed the pizazz and the irony of a Danny Zialcita.
Still, I think this is an important film, and really should be restored. It's a time capsule.
I stopped romanticizing the rain ten years ago when Ondoy hit a significant portion of the country and wrought devastation. In Dumaguete, the rain that fateful 2009 day was gentle and the sky was overcast in this silvery sheen, and we were all waxing poetic on Facebook about the cold and the patter of rain -- not knowing that people were already drowning elsewhere. Soon there were frantic and angry admonitions from friends to please clear the timeline so that emergency messages could be posted on social media and be widely disseminated without obstruction.
[This was in an innocent time when social media was being used for the good, not yet weaponized by dictators and trolls.]
It has got to be said though: Dumaguete was gentle today. They had suspended all classes because of the monsoon, but it turned out to be a bright day, full of sun, but it was cool and windy enough to make walking around the city such a pleasure. And because there were no classes, the streets were mostly devoid of traffic, and it felt like the city was in a reprieve of sorts, in a sudden vacation from all the cares of what would have been a normal working day. The breeze danced with my hair, kissed my skin -- and I took it all in.
But all the while I also felt a secret guilt, and I was quietly hoping that all these unexpected enjoyment did not come at the expense of some people's lives somewhere else.