Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Overwhelmed By The Underdog

March 18

I stared at Ace with such appreciation while he was busy in his kitchen. That night, for the advanced celebration of my birthday, he was preparing a few of my favorites. My stomach grumbled with anticipation as I smelled the aroma. To divert myself, I let my gaze wandered around his place, which, by the looks of it, was unusually tidy. I know how lazy he is when it comes to cleaning, so I can't help but be overwhelmed.

Sitting next to me were Rey and Theo. They were talking about something important with regards to their new printing business. I still couldn't believe that they had just celebrated their fourth anniversary. For people like us, I already consider that an amazing feat, something I doubt I can easily achieve. Therefore, I have much respect for them. I greatly admire their relationship, which had already enjoyed many highs and endured countless lows. Surely, they will face more, but I'm positive that they can outlast them, for their bond is already as strong as steel.

On another couch, perpendicular to the lovebirds, was another pair: Lanie and her new boyfriend, CJ. She's known for her bad choices when it comes to choosing a boyfriend—either she was too much for them or they were so undeserving of her—and my first impression of CJ was that he's far from being a perfect one. However, Lanie has been single for so long that, this time, I'm just trusting her decision. If she says it is pure, genuine love, then who am I to contradict? Besides, I could see that she is clearly happy. Whatever happens, fairy tale ending or not, I'll always be there for her.

Mary Jane, who was busy having another girly conversation with Lanie, caught my attention next. It has been more than 3 long years since I last saw her, when my relationship with Ace was still only a month old. I realized that she has not changed one bit; she's still bubbly, boyish, and juvenile—her qualities I really like. MJ is the only woman I have ever loved. I consider her as the only weakness to my homosexuality, similar to what Kryptonite is to Superman. Whenever I see her, I always feel a tinge of regret for being gay. Maybe the reason why I haven't seen her for a long time is because, unconsciously, I was doing my best to avoid her. That moment, as I continue to eye her, the feeling struck again, as well as a wishful thought. If only I'm straight, maybe MJ and I we're still together. Heck, maybe we're even engaged already, that she's already my fiancee... I stopped, shook my head, and just sighed at the idea.

My train of thought was broken when someone talked to me saying, "Alam mo nakita na kita dati."

It was Giro, Ace's new friend, gleefully sitting across from me. It was my first time meeting him, and I had this desire to make it the last as well. His features fit perfectly into Ace's preference: tall, lean, young, and innocent-looking; he's an average or a downgraded version of Atom Araullo. That night, whenever someone needed something, since Ace was too busy making dinner, Giro was the one to assist, a thing which I used to do before. For a stranger, they might looked exactly like a couple. I asked Ace why it seemed like Giro already knows everything in his house, to which he replied, "Halos araw-araw na kasi 'yan nandito, tumatambay after school." "Ha! Alam na..." I pointed out. "Tange, magkaibigan lang kami. Pramis," Ace said, giving me a sharp look. From then on, I began to dislike Giro, even though he's warm, friendly, and has no fault whatsoever. I could not pinpoint the exact reason, but I find him too much of a sore to look at. Was I intimidated? Was I jealous? Maybe. I don't know. But since it would be inappropriate—as if I still have the right to, right?—I did my best to be civil.

"Ha?" I asked, faking a smile.

"Sabi ko nakita na kita before. Sa bayan, naghihintay ka ng bus that time," he repeated.

"Kailan 'yon?" I said.

"Siguro mga 6 months ago..." he said, unsure.

"Di nga? Sa dinami-rami ng taong nakatira dito, naalala mo ko from almost half a year ago? Tsaka for the past 6 months, wala akong natatandaang any instances na pumunta ako sa bayan. Nasa QC ako halos lately eh," I quizzed.

He smiled and said while waving one hand, "Ah basta, nakita na kita dati."

The conversation totally creeped me out, so I tried to avoid Giro for the rest of the night. Fortunately, since he has a curfew at home, he went home immediately after dinner. Good riddance.

Anyway, the food was topnotch and the conversations were interesting and funny. However, MJ has no knowledge about my relationship with Ace, as well as Rey's relationship with Theo, so we had to filter out everything we say. We had to keep ourselves as straight as possible. Nonetheless, it was generally an enjoyable party, except for what came after.


I was alone on a couch when Ace sat beside me. This was when dessert was being served, so the others were busy at the table. I surveyed him. He's apparently exhausted from all the chores, but a bright smile was still etched across his face; he's nevertheless happy and contented.

I had thought of something, leaned towards him, and said, "I think may idea ako kung bakit hindi naging kayo ni Giro."

Awkwardly, he asked,"Ano 'yun?"

"Hindi kayo compatible sa kama no? What's wrong with him? Maliit ba? Was he lame?" I maliciously told him.

In an instant, his face fell.

"May problema ba?" he whispered.

"Nakaka-disappoint lang. When we talked before, you told me you'll look for guys your age if ever kaya mo nang makipag-date ulit. And yet here you are, mga bata pa rin ang binibingwit mo. Matapos sa'kin, akala ko natuto ka na..." I accused.

He was obviously dumbfounded. It was something he didn't expect.

"Tapos pati sila Rey ay dinadamay mo pa. Sa totoo lang, dapat hindi mo na sila nakaka-hang out eh, since wala na tayo, pero I'm trying to understand na you need them in helping you to move on. That's why pinapahiram ko muna sila sayo. But I think it's already inappropriate na ipakilala pa sa kanila yung mga lalaki mo. Remember, they are my friends. Walang kaso kung kila Will and Adam mo ipapakilala si Giro o kung sino man, since originally ay mga kaibigan mo sila, pero please naman sana, 'wag na kila Rey," I ranted on.

After a minute of silence, he disapprovingly shook his head and said, "Nakakabilib ka talaga, Sep. Ibang klase, grabe," before walking out into the balcony.


After fully digesting what just stupidly came out of my mouth, I followed him outside. I tried to be subtle, so that the others, especially MJ, won't notice something wrong was happening between Ace and I. Fortunately, he was not being to obvious about it as well. I saw him leaning against a wall, looking extremely disappointed. I did my best to look apologetic and stood beside him. However, the damage was already done.

"Sobrang tanga ko, Sep... After all the things I did for you tonight, ito pa ang igaganti mo sa'kin. Nagpagod lang ako. I thought maa-appreciate mo yung efforts ko ngayon. Instead, mas napansin at hinanapan mo pa ng malisya yung friendship namin ni Giro. Imbes na magpasalamat, ininsulto mo pa ako. Sobra ka na, Sep. Wala kang awa..." he disclosed.

I remained quiet, my gaze was set on the floor, too guilty to talk.

"Hindi pa ba enough yung pain na binigay mo? Of all people, I can't believe na maririnig ko mula sa'yo ang mga 'yun... All this time, despite of what you did to me, kaligayahan mo pa rin ang priority ko. Iniisip ko pa rin kung paano ka mapapasaya. Pero ikaw, ayaw mo 'kong maging masaya. You are so unfair. Ang damot-damot mo, Sep..." he continued, "Wag ka mag-alala. After this, hindi ko na hihingin ang oras ng mga kaibigan mo. Utang na loob ko pa pala 'yun, nakakahiya naman sa'yo. Sa iyo na ulit sila. Hindi ko na ulit isisiksik ang sarili ko sa mundo mo. This would be the last; I'm done."

"I'm very sorry, Ace," I said meekly.

"There's no need for that, Sep. Nasabi mo na eh. Actually, this will serve as a wake-up call para sa'kin. You don't deserve someone like me. You don't deserve my love. Simply put, you are a jerk. Because of this, mas madali na kita makakalimutan. Thanks for making it easier for me," he finished, before walking back inside.


I was too stunned to immediately follow suit. With what I showed that night, I knew Ace was clearly right with everything he said. I was hurt, but surely, he was more in pain. I spent several minutes more outside, gathering my thoughts and making a decent apology.

When I went back inside, Ace was nowhere in sight. I asked Theo, and he told me Ace went upstairs, probably in his room. Lanie gave me a look that says, "Ano na naman ang ginawa mo, Sep? Hay nako..." but I pretended to not see it. I wasn't sure if everyone had already noticed, but I didn't care anymore. My focus was to fix what remains to be repaired.

I knocked in Ace's room. There was no answer. The door wasn't locked, so I let myself in. I found him lying spread-eagle in bed, staring blankly at the ceiling. I sat beside him.


"Wala na tayong dapat pag-usapan pa."

"Ace, please naman. Hear me out. I don't want to end the night like this."

"There's no use anymore..."

"I beg you, Ace... Please... I want to apologize for my behavior tonight. I admit naging selfish at extremely immature ako... Yes, I'm a jerk, an asshole. I messed up. I'm so sorry, Ace. I really do. Nagsisisi ako sa mga nasabi ko sa'yo kanina... Natauhan ako bigla nung ikaw na ang nagsalita. Nagising ako sa mga salitang isinampal mo. Mas naiintindihan ko na ngayon; ako ang mali..."

I could no longer held back the tears, so I just let them fell. Ace sat up and faced me; his expression had softened. We hugged as I continued to speak in between sobs. He was already crying too.

"Forgive me, Ace. Patawad sa pain na idinulot ko sa'yo... Of course I want you to be happy. And I should not judge you because of your methods. Gawin mo kung ano sa tingin mo ang makakapagpasaya sa'yo... Hindi ko rin dapat inaangkin sila Rey, kasi naging malapit na kaibigan mo na rin sila... They have been very supportive to both of us."

"Sabi ko naman sa'yo di ba, masaya ako kapag alam ko na masaya ka."

"No, Ace... Hindi mo na ko dapat intindihin. Starting now, you have to think of your own happiness. Alam ko naman na you won't bring harm to yourself. Kilala kita, so I need not worry. Ikaw rin, don't worry about me anymore, I'll be fine. Do everything that will make you happy, and I'll do the same."

"I understand... I think it's already time to free myself from you. Masyado ko nang nakakalimutan ang sarili ko. Thanks, Sep... This is the closure I need."

We let go, smiling at each other as we dry up our faces. We might have failed to fully salvage our relationship, be we were able to put to good use whatever was left of it. I'm hoping for the best; that in the end, we are both happy indeed.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Overcoming The Underestimated

3 weeks ago.

My phone rang, breaking the silence of my room. Its screen showed Ace's name. I hesitated before picking it up.

"Yep Ace?"

"Hi Sep, it's been a while. Naistorbo ba kita?"

"Hindi naman. Anong meron?"

"Si Will kasi, aalis na bukas pa-Dubai."

"Oo nga pala. Napag-usapan na namin yan sa Facebook. Di ko namalayan, bukas na pala flight niya."

"Lalabas kami tonight, padespedida sa kanya. Pwede ka ba? Sabi ni Will pilitin daw kita."

"Uhm... What do you think Ace?"


"I mean, is it too soon? Good idea ba na magkita tayo considering what happened the last time?"

"Well... That was last month, and wala na tayong communication since then. Don't worry Sep, I'm loads better now. Do this for Will, not me. He'll be gone a long time, gusto niya nandun ka."

"Hmmm... Linggo ngayon no? Wala naman akong plans today, so okay sige."

"That's good. Sabihan ko sila."

"See you later Ace."

"Wait lang Sep..."

"Yep, meron pa?"

"How are you? Masaya ka naman ba?"


I met with Ace, Will, and Adam as agreed.

It was a lovely evening, unlike what took place at Lanie's. We joked around, laughed our hearts out, caught up with each other's lives, shared boy stories, and dined sumptuously in an authentic Korean restaurant somewhere near Tagaytay. I know they are well aware of what occurred recently between Ace and I. We talked about it more than once. They had a few questions; some were difficult to answer, but they didn't force us if we don't want to. They still kept the mood light and gay (pun intended).

This time, Ace was warm and friendly towards me. He constantly asked if I'm having a good time, he kept on glancing with a smile across his face, and he made sure that my plate is never empty. No returning of things happened and no tears were shed. It was only a night of boisterous laughter and good food.

On our way home, Ace and I had another conversation.

"Sep, thanks sa pagpunta ha. I missed this, alam mo yun, us just having fun."

"Wala yun. Nag-enjoy ako tonight."

"Kaya naman pala natin maging civil sa isa't-isa. This shows na we can still be friends."

"I guess so..."

"Nga pala, bibisitahin ulit ako nila Lanie, Rey, at Theo sa Tuesday. Pwede ka ba nun?"

"May pasok ako nun, nasa Manila ako. Anung meron?"

"Uhm, wala naman. Dinner lang sana. Then naisip namin na i-celebrate ang birthday mo. Baka pumunta rin pala si Mary Jane."

"Mary Jane? As in yung ex ko?"

"Yep. Kasama rin siya last time eh."

"Hmmm... Bakit hindi na lang sa susunod na Linggo? Available ako nun kasi day-off ko na and uuwi ulit ako dito sa Cavite. Para makasama ako."

"Hindi raw kasi pwede si Lanie at Mary Jane next weekend eh. Sa Tuesday lang kami pwede makumpleto."

"So you are telling me na ise-celebrate niyo ang birthday ko, with cake and all, and I am the last one to get invited, pero hindi importante na maka-attend ako as long as complete kayong mga guests?"

"Parang ganun na nga."

The idea made me burst out laughing, while Ace was grinning.

"Mga leche kayo. Ang sarap talaga maging best friend nila Lanie at Rey; nakakaisip sila ng unique ways para asarin ako."

"Well, ganun ka nila ka-love eh. So ano, kaya mo ba?"

"Titignan ko. Pang-umaga naman ang shift ko sa ngayon, so possible. Bahala na."

"It's settled then. Uhm, one more thing Sep. Oks lang ba na papuntahin ko rin si Giro?"

"Sinong Giro?"

"Uhm, new friend ko. Nakilala ko thru WeChat. 21 years old, HRM student, and ka-subdivision ko lang din."

"Lalaki mo? Ang hilig mo talaga sa bata Ace."

I chuckled. I don't know why, but it was an awkward one.

"We dated at first, yes, pero na-realize ko na we're better as friends, na tropa lang. Parang kid bro ko na siya. Halos araw-araw siya tumatambay sa bahay. Pinagseselosan na nga ako ng gf niya eh."

"Ah... Pamintang durog na binudbod sa tahong."

"Grabe ka naman Sep. Sabi niya bisexual siya."

"Sus, walang ganun. Either bakla ka or straight. Walang gray area when it comes to gender."

"Well, opinyon mo yan."

"Parang si Paul lang pala? Date na naging kaibigan lang."

"Uhm, oo. Oks siya kasama, don't worry. I'm sure matutuwa ka sa kanya. Madalas kitang ikwento dun, kaya naman looking forward siya na makilala ka sa personal."


"If hindi ka komportable, it's alright... You can say no. Kilala kita."

I won't deny that I felt a tinge of jealousy at that moment. But I know better, so I pushed that notion deep down in my brain. I should not feel that way, I don't have the right to anymore. Besides, Giro is just a friend. There's no harm if he would be there right?

"Well, bahay mo naman yun Ace, so you can invite whoever you want to."

"Yes or no Sep?"

"Yes, okay lang."

"Are you sure?"


"Good,  thanks. I'll tell him."

At that point, a confusing thought suddenly struck me. I hesitated first.



I held his gaze.

"Why all this? Why bother?"

He smiled.

"Gusto ko masaya ka."

"But why?"

"Kasi kapag alam kong masaya ka, masaya na rin ako... Yun ang goal ko sa ngayon."

I wasn't able to answer. The words were stuck in my throat.

"So Sep, are you happy?"
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