Coffee Shop 

There is a new shop in front of her usual hangout. “Coffee”,a blinking sign promises 24 hours of fresh brew.

She entered,a little hesitant,but the aroma coax her in.

Her doctor told her not to rely on caffeine anymore,her heart has suffered enough.

He said, “Too much heartbeat ain’t good.” 

“Well,that’s better than having none at all.”,she silently mumbled to herself.

She ordered something light,and went to a quiet corner. After a couple of minutes,she starts to regret coming in.

The problem with coffee shops is that they make you stay and brood over things that should not be remembered anymore. She wonders still of what could have been and what if’s. Waiting for answers from cappuccino and latte’s. 

She looked around.

The shop is full,and some coffees has gone stale. One by one,people started to leave. There were dissapointed look on their faces.

She learned that most people will enjoy a cup over honest conversations. That every sip,comfort floods in,a laugh or smile will make it warmer.

“Just one more cup. Stay. They’re coming.” The coffee is good,I guess the waiting made it cold.

Only 5 of them left,pensively gazing at the window,listening to the shop’s choice of song,or reading a book. One stood up to get a fresh fill.

There was no sense of anxiousness or desperation,no looking at watches every 10 minutes.

“Patient souls.”

She smiled and wrapped her hands around her still warm cup. She’s yet to learn how to be one.

  

Remember The Good 

2002,Daddy Bebot passed away. It was the same day,November 1. We were all planning to go and visit the graves of our relatives,but he stayed behind and said he was not feeling well. 

I remember that day. I asked my aunt if we can go home early and not stay overnight in our family house. Something was not right. It was night time when we arrived,Nanay Marlyn,his wife was home. 

She wasn’t crying. She was trying to be brave,but her voice broke down and said,”Awan ni Daddy Bebot mon balasang ko,adda suna ken Apo Diyos’en.”

We rushed to the emergency room of our provincial hospital. Covered in white cloth,he was laid to rest on one of the hospital beds,waiting for the funeral home to take him away. He was declared dead upon arrival at the ER,nothing can be done. 

I was 12 years old,the finality of death to me was not yet fully grasp. But that night,I felt it. It was like a train wreck of feelings. I pulled the cloth covering him,looked at the man who was easy to give praises,kindness and love. How could someone so special,so kind and loving be taken away? Why does it have to be so sudden?

He was our favorite uncle,a father figure to some of us. He was one of the first to say,”Naglaing to balasang mi/baro mi.” 

The day he died,older cousins who was also loved by this man,came. Ate Karen hugged him tightly,as if the love for this man can bring him back to life.

It was a cold November,a sad reunion for all of us.

But it did not stay that way. I remember stories of him,of how he was a good soldier,a loving husband,a patient brother and friend. 

I listened,we cried,we laughed. We celebrated his life.

For a man who survived dangerous mountain excursions and multiple vehicular accidents,dying quietly in his sleep wasn’t how he was expected to go. 

But that is death,unexpected. It creeps out to both young and old. 

Whenever I visit cemeteries,I look at graves of strangers and see how old they were when they died. 12,16,25,30,50,85 years old. Just numbers to me but a lifetime to them and their loveones. Years spent on learning,loving and hating,forgetting and forgiving. 

I was 12,he was 53 when he died. I got 12 years of his life and I can only remember good things. That’s a good way to live I think,to do good,to be someone kind. 

Kapag may Bagyo

May nangyayari sa paligid na kakaiba.

Alas-kwatro pa lang ngunit madilim na ang paligid,haplos ng hangin ay malamig. May kaunting kilabot na nararamdaman.

Nasambit mo,”Mahangin dahil Nobyembre.”Napakabilis ng panahon,na parang ang mga buwan ay hinihila ng mga taong gustong makalimot.

Subalit mali ka kung sa tingin mo ako din ay binago nito.

Mahigit isang taon na pero andito pa din ako. Sinasalanta ng pabago-bagong klima ngunit nanatiling matibay at nakatayo.

Maya’t maya may darating,bugso ng damdamin na parang hanging nag-aalimpuyo sa lakas. Magdamag na iihip at sisipol,kinabukasan ay mang-iiwan ng bakas.

Nasanay na ako. Magwawalis at ililigpit ang mga kalat ng ala-ala,masasaya ngunit nakakasugat.

Subalit hindi ka pa pala tapos. Naala ko,nasa dagat Pacifico tayo,dadaan at dadaan ang bagyo kahit anong ilag mo.

Nagbago ako ng stratehiya. Naglagay ako ng mga panangga,mga pabigat sa bubong. Itinali ko ang mga pwedeng matangay ng hangin,pinutol ko ang mga sanga na pwedeng bumagsak.

Handa na ako ngayon. Marahil hindi na ako matatangay muli.

Akala ko lang pala yun.

Dumating ka,mas malakas pa sa aking iniisip. Mas matagal ka ngayon,na para bang nasa iyo ang lahat ng oras,na para bang ako lang ang pinili mong salantain.

Sumipol ang hangin,nangungusap. Nakiramdam ako sa iyong ibig ipahiwatig. Humina ang ulan,ngunit ramdam ko andiyan ka pa din.

“Ano ang kailangan mo?”,matapang kong tanong.

Unti unting nawala ang malakas na hangin,ang ulan ay tumila.

Lumabas ako at itinaas ang mata sa himpapawid,may malamyos na hangin at konting ambon.

Sa may di kalayuan,ikaw ay nakatayo. Nangingiti at nahihiyang lumapit.

“Ikaw.”

Minsan,simpleng tapang lang pala ang kailangan para harapin ang bagyo. Isang tanong,at isang simpleng sagot.

Tala

Hawak mo ngayon sa isang kamay,libro na kanina pa gustong magbahagi ng kwento.

Ngunit ang diwa at isipan mo ay nasa kalawakan niya,

Bituin at mga planeta sa kanyang mga matang kanina mo pa tinatanaw.

Kamay ay itinaas,hintuturo mo ay dahan dahang sinusundan ang linya ng kanyang konstelasyon,

Nangangarap ka na may mahulog na bulalakaw mula sa kanyang puso.

Pipikit ka,

Hihiling,pangalan niya’y sambit

Matamis na ngiti sa labi ay gumuhit.

Subalit mabilis ang hulog ng bituin,ang apoy nito ay mamamatay din.

Pagbukas ng iyong mga mata,kislap na hanap mo ay wala na.

Ginalugad mo ang kalawakan,nangarap na siya ay dumaan muli.

Ngunit ang isang tala ay minsan lang mahulog,

Ang pagbulusok nito pababa ay mabilis,diretso at sigurado.

“Narinig kaya niya ako?”

Tinalikuran mo ang kalawakan,naglakad ka papalayo,

Ngunit hinabol ka ng bulong ng hangin at sumagot ng,

“Oo.”

Caffeine Heart

You’re like a warm coffee on a cold day. I put my hands around you to stop the shivering.

I smile and say,”This is nice,I could get used to this.”

But then I remember,I don’t drink coffee anymore. I never knew that too much caffeine can kill you.

Or too much “you” but not enough “us” can harm the heart.

So I settled with the next best thing,I put on my cardigan and hugged myself.

“Warm but never cozy.”

Hopefully,I won’t get used to this.

  

My Version of Clark

After the success of OTWOL,I am sure a lot of women wants to be Leah,and marry someone like Clark. Love stories like that tend to create an air of anticipation and expectation that THE ONE will embody the perfect man. 

But perfect is far-fetch,we can only pray for our own version of it,so I wrote something for the person God will bless me with.

I can’t stare at you for too long cause it might give me away. But in those milliseconds that I dare to gaze at you,I see someone I could spend the rest of my life with. An eternity in a glance,so cliché.

Yes,I see my future.

Yet there is more to this longing of just being with you. In all that you can offer,your responsible self,gentle hands,assuring smiles and honest compliments,I see someone who can teach me that life is meant for kindess and selflessness. 

You will need to be patiet with me. I can tell you about the most outrageous stories about my adventures and mishaps,but I beg you to dig deep. “I am a universe full of secrets.”,there are scars that I hide,marks that I have concealed believing that by ignoring them,they might disappear. But I am wrong,they are part of me,and some of them are unpleasant.

Teach me to walk out of fights I cannot win,accept defeat and be graceful about it. Be honest with me when I overdo things. Indulge me whenever I walk inside every bookstore and thrift shop. Put up with me when I wake up cranky. Remember that vanilla ice cream,pancit canton with pandesal can complete my day and my idea of a romantic date is climbing a mountain and binge-watch Grey’s Anatomy. 

Please love me harder when the ugly memories of the past resurfaced,tell me that tomorrow is something to look forward to,cause I’m with you. There will be mornings that I am not myself,but you will coax me out of it with a cup of coffee and a hug. 

This is too much,I know. Yet I trust you too learn more about me each day. You will unravel me,and love or hate some of the new things you will discover,but I trust you to step up and be the man God deemed to be my other half.

Yes. You will show me how you have grown in God’s love. That every downfall and sin is forgotten and how it is amazing to be reborn in Jesus. Your faith will sustain mine,we will build a family centered in Christ.

As I brave to look at you once more,I smile and shake my head. All of this is silly and I’m getting ahead of myself,but then our eyes met and there is a knowing look in your face.

The future might come sooner than I have imagined.

  

  
*photo (c) Beau Taplin

Matulog Ka na Tadhana

You are my 2 am thoughts. Yet I dont know who you are yet,the enigma of my second shot at “love”.

Have you been thinking about me too? How we should have met already and should be singing to some chessy slow song.

But here I am still listening to UDD’s Tadhana,and arguing to myself why I find Fate and Destiny so fulfilling,yet tragic at the same time.

 Paano kung hindi dumating? Paano kung nasa gitna pa rin pala siya ng Edsa,stuck in traffic and can’t see any way out. 

Sabi nila,waiting is being in the state of God’s grace. I’m sure,God’s grace is not meant to torture the life out of you. 

Or perhaps,yun din ang gusto Niyang mangyari,na mag-antay ka at mabaliw ka,hanggang mahanap mo din ang sarili mong katinuan. Para pag dumating na ang inaantay mo,buo ka na at matino,at handa ng magmahal.

Handa ka na ba sa mga mixed signals,subtle signs at misleading emotions? Handa ka na ba sa mga ngiting hindi pala para sayo? Kasama lahat yan.

25 years and I think I will never be ready,but hey,I am always willing to try.

So my 2 am love,handa na ako,ina-antay kita.