Monthly Archives: August 2015

“Funny Boy”

photo grabbed from the web.

Stretching his body, Danny a 43-year-old down-and-out man pushed his feet on his slippers and went out his barracks just at the back of his master’s abode. The sun was up and it means a long day for him in the sea. He was a little bit late for breakfast. All members of his master’s family had already eaten, sorting for what’s been left was his only choice.

He opened the half-covered table in search for food. One piece of fried tilapia and a bowl of “ginataang langka” emerged on his sight. It delighted his senses that, out of joy, he profusely praised the heavens for having a generous lord. Wolfing over such nice meal took him several minutes, and after his tummy has been filled, he went to get his shovels, while readying his powerful trunk for a strenuous activity of the day.

Danny has been with his master for over a decade. He works as a seaman–the one who operates a motorized boat and shovels a boatful of sand from the sea. He loves this kind of job and spends most of his days fulfilling it, that seldom he rests. However, he’s not being paid like a regular worker and yet, by choice, he still stays with them. Mang Enzo, his father, can’t do anything with his son’s resolve. A great wall was built between them right after Danny’s older sister eloped with a guy. Danny accused him as a neglectful father, that if he’s not, he could have managed to attend school. Thus, he left his father and tries to live separately.

Suffering from the bitterness of ignorance, Danny succumbed to manual labors and worked even harder to attain the respect of the people he works for, as he can’t find a living other than that.

In his town, many people call him names, some are funny and some are insulting. Folks sometimes ridicule him because of his physical attributes. His peers see him as a funny half-wit person, only good for amusement. For one good reason, he is deaf, and not all the time he hears them. He just shrugs off those expletives innocently. A Few years back, Danny acquired a new name. He’s been called funny boy, a sobriquet that rhymes with his real name, and resembles with his personality. It’s okay for him and he doesn’t mind.

Danny is very loyal to his master and would do everything, out of his known expertise, just to make them satisfied. For the long years he stayed under his master’s care, he’s treated like a family and vice-versa, and he’s thankful about it. Since it was not his nature to ask for compensation, his master would equip him the things he needs, especially food. It was enough that there’s someone feeding him, which he would work hard in return. Like a carabao, he can be an emblem of industry. It was something that he wants his name to be associated with, anyway.

When Mang Enzo died, some relatives of him, rallied together to bring funny boy back to his birthplace, 91 kilometers far from the town where his master lives. The relatives promised the master that they would be the one to take care of the poor boy. And so Danny went with them, unable to make decisions by himself.

The master and her family went partially lame. They were unable to do things without Funny boy, especially the work in the sea. There’s no one who can par with his might in shoveling sand. The members of the family had depended to him so much that he’s absence impacted them on great weight. But one thing they’re sure, Funny boy will be back. They have shown him what family was like and if he can’t find it there, he’ll probably go home.

Several months passed and funny boy wasn’t funny at all. He has grown pale and thin and his face was a bit of horror, but he was back and that’s for the best. He chose to quit and go home. He walked with bare feet the 91 kilometers distance from his birthplace to his master’s abode. He didn’t have any money for the fare. Still, he pursued, as he didn’t like it there. It was not his nature to work in the forest rather he missed the scent of the sea and the seaman’s job. He also missed the abundance of food and he missed the family he left.

Slowly he got back in his old shape. His master felt operational again and his family was unburdened by tasks of sorts. Everything went back to normalcy.

The universe, however, has a different plan. Funny boy’s master miscalculated things and went bankrupt. The once abundant life progressively became worse. The motorized boats they have for the business slowly faced deterioration, always subjected for repair until it gave up. The once abundant table became scarce with food. Funny boy most of the time goes hungry, but reluctant to share the sentiments. He knew what the family’s predicament was.

Funny boy sensed what was coming and he’s a little bit afraid. When the gravel and sand business of his master took off, he suddenly felt useless. He felt that the connection that binds them is now like a frail strand of thread, and will break anytime soon.

Every day, early in the morning, he would look at the creek, gaze towards the rotten boat, sometimes check on it but would relinquish afterwards after losing hope. Like the boat, his master gave up too. Now, he is thinking of when that frail strand of thread would break and when his master would give up on him too.

He thinks how poignant leave the people who treated him as a family, much more, when he would leave them in this troubled time, however, he needs to survive and his survival can’t be relied to his master. Master is weak and does not need an added burden. Funny boy believes that his expertise is not what they need at this point of time.

By now, he has jumped off to another boat. He has a new master, as generous as his former. Again, he has found a new family. Once more, there is an abundance of food on the table, there is a boat to maneuver and he has a new life to live. However, he was fully aware that things might end at any minute, which, from time to time, his worth as a person might be tested. He knew very well that he should always be on the lookout for life is nothing but a great uncertainty.

Funny boy was once a member of our family. He was my Granny’s reliable house-help.

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A Day at Kumagat beach…

Grabbing the pure delight of my one week vacation, I together with my wife traveled to my hometown in Panganiban Catanduanes. It was my wife’s first time to visit the place where I was born and raised. Even before, I have told her about the beautiful tourist spots that we have in our province. And she, being a nature lover, inevitably fell in love with the stories of places I have told her.

It was Thursday afternoon when we arrived home and the familiar scent of the countryside welcomed us. My wife felt an air of joy upon seeing the bucolic set up on my hometown. She also took heed of the beautiful landscapes on the wayside during our ride from Virac (provincial capital) to Panganiban. Both of us were feeling ecstatic about the thought of spending our idle days appreciating the beauty of nature. Prior to our trip, we have listed some destinations that we ought to visit. Unfortunately, we only reached one and that was the Lolong point lighthouse and its shoreline just beneath called the Kumagat beach in Panay Island, Panganiban Catanduanes.

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In spite of that, I never felt any disappointment that even it has been weeks now I still can’t get KUMAGAT beach off my mind. The image of its turquoise water, creamy white sand, the verdant meadow on its backdrop and the visually appealing view of the Lolong point lighthouse is still lodged in my head. Like my wife it’s my first time to set foot on this place. The excitement gets doubled as both of us were having no idea of what to expect except some second hand accounts coming from other people who had been there.

Kumagat Beach resort

Kumagat Beach resort

Came Saturday morning and off we went together with my family. The comfort foods that we brought were enough to ease the long hours of sitting while journeying on the sea. Sitting on the motorboat made me feel quite uneasy, a little bit afraid as the wider picture of the Pacific Ocean looms clearer on my sight. Once in a while big waves showed up to put some little scare on our faces. However, the beauty of the ocean comforts us, especially those intricate rock formations standing mighty against the giant lurch of waves .After a few minutes of anticipation, we came face to face with the huge edifice, a tall round tower, which the people of our town tagged as the “Parola” (lighthouse) nestled atop the mountain. While the boat gets closer, the coastal building grows grander causing me to feel the unexplainable ecstasy while we were approaching. It was perhaps because of the scenic, panoramic and paradise-like landscape that awaits us.

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Not a moment longer, we anchored on a long strip of white creamy sand, a beach peculiarly named as Kumagat. Looking at my wife and other members of the family, I was able to comprehend how beautiful the place is, as their jaws seemed to drop because of the overwhelming feeling of awe. Also, we were enamored by the clear greenish blue water, wherein star fish and other weird sea creatures grow in abundance.

Kumagat beach frontage...

Kumagat beach frontage…

We started our picnic by laying out things on the ground. The cottages were full so we were spared from paying a hundred peso. The surrounding was cozy, enough to soothe tired veins. While I was sitting on the sand, plainly observing the emotional tone of the day, I realized how blessed I was for having stepped in this wonderful piece of earth for the first time. I am indeed so lucky to have an easy access to beautiful places like this Kumagat beach.

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I shifted my attention to the children playing on the shore. The smile on their faces was really infectious. I watched them run, play and swim. I signaled my wife that we should take a swim too, and together we descended into the waters. We were so delighted how the sea maintained its virginal state. It was totally awesome.

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Our short trip will not be complete if we are not going to climb the Lolong point lighthouse. Of course, we did. My wife and I braved those sloping rocky side of the hill and painstakingly maintained our balance not to slip down the cliff. While traversing, we were rewarded by a magnificent view of the ocean, a beautiful view that can par with locations of foreign film productions, producing amazing films with amazing nature backcloths.

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When we finally reached the lighthouse, we climbed the staircase and discovered how romantic it was to be on the top. We portrayed like Jack and Rose in Titanic while facing the vast ocean, thinking the islets as the icebergs and the lighthouse as the ship. The feeling atop was surreal, more of a dreamlike and close to fantasy. In short, it was magical.

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Indeed, our short jaunt was one of the happiest, exciting and worth remembering trip we ever had. I am eyeing on when will be the next time that I will get to experience the taste of serenity brought by the sea. I hope it won’t be long.


High school revisited…

My Alma mater

My Alma mater

Last night I was back at Catanduanes State Colleges Laboratory High school, Panganiban Campus.

The sweet scent of Narra trees arrayed in front of every classroom greeted me. The evening was peaceful and the chilly breeze made it even more nostalgic. It has been ten years since I said goodbye to this very place and now I was back feeling as if things were just from yesterday. Ten years, such great interval, could mean a lot of changes for a school that has a great potential. And yes, my Alma mater being so rich with possibilities has changed a lot. From a simple rural college, it metamorphosed into a university. Indeed a great leap for its students and the institution itself.

Onward to the campus, I walked a little farther from the main gate where I used to stand during flag ceremony. Slowly, I turned my gaze towards the wide basketball court and all I could hear was the non-stop cheering and loud screaming of students from my memory. Still, it is the same game court that witnessed the fun we had during our PE class. This court also reminds me of our former CAT instructor, the times we spent hurdling our penalties, the funny bloopers during serious commands and the sweat we shed under the sun just to satisfy the CAT exhibition drill.

I felt very glad that I could still feel the spirit, think back of old memories of the place which I consider as the fountain of my knowledge, no matter how long I had been away from it. The same feeling I got when I passed by our old Science classroom, the room where I used to believe that I truly have a brain. This is where I first learned how to make an ointment for wounds out of “Makabuhay” plant and many other experiments that ignited my inquisitive mind.

Right beside our Science classroom is another room where our Biology subject is being taught. I realized earlier then, that I was not made for the Sciences. Science is equated with mathematics and they correlate with each other. I am not good with numbers and I hate logic. Well, I’m just being honest. Biology, Chemistry and Physics were the things I found to be sort of a headache.

Talking about Mathematics still, well, this was my predicament which I used to confront everyday. I remember seeking help from my friends who are good with the subject, especially during homework as I can’t count on them during exams. The same can be said with Applied Statistics and Algebra, these are the areas which I have flunked. I can say that coming to terms with these subjects was the most challenging. I remember Mrs. Mercy Cabrera on how she would patiently wait for me to grasp a certain lesson on Algebra. It’s a shame when she would announce it to the class that finally I got what she has been trying to explain. It’s a shame when my classmates would poke fun at me afterwards.

However, after glancing back to the old classrooms where I spent scratching my head caused by these difficult subjects, I felt that I had freed myself from the fears and hesitations I have had before. And all I have now is a sprouting courage that somehow helped me surpass the real challenge connected with it.

The night was becoming colder and as I looked at every familiar edifice, the nostalgia in me seems to cry a little louder. I trotted the aisle going to the school canteen and as I drew closer, I noticed a huge change on its setting. I can no longer see the tables where we used to eat “Pancit bato”. I can no longer trace the aisle where my best friend Jomer used to fall in line awaiting his favorite Pancake prepared by his mom, Tya Myr. How I wish to relive those moments when I, together with Jomer and our girl buddy, Alma would get special attention and favor from the other canteen staff just because Jomer is our friend and her mom Tya Myr was one of the canteen helpers. How I wish to bring back those days, those happy days.

Nestled on the right side of the canteen is our social hall. Nothing much has changed. It is still the same function hall that used to witness the bittersweet events of being in a middle school. This hall perceived my first and last attempt to join in extemporaneous speech, which I won 6th place. (Not bad for a first timer, though.) It is also where I received several awards which I never thought I could have like when the campus Director handed me the best in Agricultural art award. It was totally unexpected, but yeah, I got it. Also, the time when I was hailed as the best male facilitator during our last Science camp held on our campus. And to brag about it, well, we bagged almost all of the awards. I don’t have big achievements during High school and all I have are just fond memento showing that even for once, I dared to push myself out of my comfort zone.

Stepping closer to the stage of social hall made me grasp more memories about the times gone by. I turned my phone’s playlists on and let the music of the Backstreet Boys, A1 and Westlife fill the air. I started seeing images of my classmates and schoolmates dancing to the tune of the romantic love songs. Funny how timid we were during those times, that we only dance when the ball (dance party) is about to end. And funny on how we would succumb to distress and regret, just because of not having to dance well enough.

I can’t get enough with the longing to bring back the old times. Thus I ran to the classroom we occupied during our senior year, poked my head on the window and searched for some leftovers that could taunt my memory. Fortunate enough, our classroom has managed to have the same set up: the bulletin boards were in the same place, the arrangement of seats has been just like before and some of the posters that were affixed to the wall were still there. It brought me to tears to remember the forty nine other students who occupied that room, who filled the four corners of it with an echoing laughter. I can’t also forget the image of our subject teachers that, for once, had ignited the torch of learning for us (The Class 2005).

After a few minutes of reminiscing, I braved myself to drop by at the college building and eyed for the official student publication room. Regret came flowing down my nerves while telling myself that this is where I should be, had I been more courageous before. For four long years in High school, I have never been vocal of my talent, on the area where I believe I excel. I was never that confident to tell my comrades that “Look at me guys, I have the talent to write” or “This is what I love to do. This is where I’m good at.” I was never that kind of brave which I regret so much. I was full of hesitation, then, very much afraid of criticisms.

One thing that the real world, the world outside High school has taught me is that I should stand on my dreams and to never be afraid to reach it. Somehow, little by little, I am trying to reach that path, the path that leads to my dreams. It is said that everyone is given a second chance. And perhaps mine has come and I will not chicken out to let it slip again.

Though I have some lamentations, still I owe this institution a big gratitude for letting me love poetry and other forms of literature. If not because of it, I will never appreciate the works of Guy de Maupassant, Edgar Allan Poe and Wilbur Daniel Steele. Also, I am very grateful to Mrs. Coring Velasco, Ansing Vega and Jennifer Berces for making the English subject really interesting, a great contrast to Mathematics. I still love my Math teacher (Meling Castro), though.

Not a moment longer, I gazed towards the campus publication room once more and just shrugged off the regrets I had earlier. For a moment, silence overwhelmed me. I stepped back and retraced the route to where I started. I realized then that it’s getting late and that the night had shifted into a lonesome atmosphere.

I took a deep breath and glimpsed the campus for the last time. It occurred to me how my Alma mater has evolved a lot. It has improved in many ways. It has grown more beautiful. With this I realized that change is really constant and that it is inevitable. However, no matter how many times it may undergo metamorphosis. How many times it may change its name. It will never lose its original scent, the one that stirs nostalgia. It will forever carry its old spirit, its soul and its undying memory that its former students always yearn about.