March 13 2010, 4:45 p.m.
“What are you doing here?”
“Well after NSTP me and Lisa went to lunch together. And I thought I wanted a tour of your school.”
“Hope you like the place. We don’t have the best facilities but people here are great.”
“Yes I know.”
“How about you? Everything fine in your school?”
“It’s okay. At first it required a lot of getting used to.”
“I know how that feels.”
“Yes, well, at least you have high school friends from other colleges.”
“It doesn’t really make a difference.”
“I don’t know what to say right now.”
“We haven’t talked for almost a year, Norman.”
“About ten months isn’t that long. I hope you know why.”
“Because like now. We turn blank.”
“Are still mad at me?”
“Does it matter?”
June 15 2009, 1:30 p.m.
“So the first one is, Norman Ocampo.”
“Okay. Umm. Good afternoon ma’am, good afternoon classmates. I am Norman Ocampo. I graduated from WangBu High School. My expectation from this university is that I will be trained well in becoming a teacher. My expectation from this Literature class is that I will find the discussions and selections interesting and interactive. And we will learn a lot from them. I’m excited because I also enjoy reading. Novels, stories, plays, poems, anything.”
“Who’s your favorite writer Norman?”
“Ernest Hemingway ma’am”
June 1 2009, 9:45 a.m.
“This line is going to take forever.”
“Norman, did you pay already your other fees?”
“What other fees? Isn’t it included here?”
“This is mostly our tuition and other things.”
“What other things we need to pay?”
“Publication. Student council. PTA.”
“Yes, I remember. Almost forgot. Well, I didn’t ask for the money yet.”
“Okay. You could just find tables in your college if you want to pay.”
“Yes, I think I saw them. Have you paid already?”
“Some. Umm, Norman?”
“Are you okay?”
“Okay? I’m a little impatient with this line but I’m okay nonetheless. Why?”
“I mean. I heard the news. About you and Kate.”
“Oh, is that so. What can you say about it?”
“Well, nothing. I didn’t have close ties with the people from your section. I was just surprised. Make sure you’re okay.”
“Joan, I’m okay.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“Now? In this line?”
“Well, it helps.”
“I guess.”
“Well, what happened?”
“Middle of May. Over the phone.”
“You haven’t talked ever since?”
“I want to, but I realize what’s there to talk about.”
“No, logic”
“So, why?”
“She never really loved me. In that way.”
“Why? I don’t understand.”
“When she said yes to me, she thought that she would eventually love me as well. However, she didn’t. Found out she never wanted a boyfriend in the first place. She wants to stand on her own.”
“That’s stupid.”
“I really don’t care. It’s done.”
“How long did you court her?”
“I never did.”
“Easy come, easy go.”
July 31 2009, 2:48 p.m.
“From what pages sir?”
“15 to 30. Tell your classmates to each have a copy. We will discuss that next meeting.”
“Okay sir.”
“What your name again?”
“Norman, sir.”
“You were the one who was qualified for the college publication. You and another one.”
“Bernard. He’s my classmate also.”
“Good. What were you so noisy about?”
“What? Earlier? It was nothing.”
“I heard the word girlfriend.”
“Nothing. (smiles) We were talking about my ex. Bernard was the noisiest.”
“Oh. Umm. Sorry? It’s okay. You’re young.”
“Yes. That’s what I tried to tell them.”
“Do you still love her? If you don’t mind.”
“Yes. It’s okay sir.”
“Is this your first break up?”
“Somehow. Yes. I guess so.”
“It’s okay. You’re young.”
“Can I go now?”
“Yes. I will come with you. I need to go the library.”
“Okay sir.”
“You know when I my first girlfriend broke up with me. I thought the world will cave in on me.” (laughs)
“I was 17 then. How old are you?”
“Very young.”
“Yes. So what happened? If you don’t mind.” (smiles)
(laughs) “You’re interested?”
“Yes. How did you handle it?”
“Well simple, I chose to move on.”
“You make it sound easy.”
“It’s not. It’s like seeing her everywhere. You want to look for a replacement, but you can’t. You can’t fake yourself. She’s from Bacolod. She eventually transferred there. And work there. Text wasn’t popular then.”
“So, she just finished it all?”
“Umm. Yes.”
“That’s a different story. We aren’t far from each other.”
“It’s always the same story Norman.”
“How’s that?”
“Well I don’t know. I was, you are so young. And high school? High school is a mess.”
“A big mess.”
“High school is like a series of stupid events that somehow find roots in your heart.”
“Okay. I guess they are.”
“Or, high school is just a series of stupid decisions.”
“I don’t agree with you sir.”
“Why is that?”
“Well, I decided to get involved in this situation.”
“Look at yourself now.”
“You have a point. But still it wasn’t stupid.”
“It felt right.”
“You’re young.”
“You bet I am.”
“You know what happened then?”
“Sure. Tell me.”
“Well I studied college. No girlfriend. I just devoted my life to economics. While a lecturer, I tried having one. We were together for almost two years. Then it got worn out. Then work again. Took up my master’s. Another girlfriend. Very short. Three months. (laughs) Then I said I was pretty satisfied in teaching students.”
“So that’s why many teachers remain single all their lives.”
“That’s true. Then I went to a seminar to Silay City. Beautiful place. Then I saw her there. She was on her way to Bacolod. So I said maybe we could meet there. There was already text. We did. We talked all night. It was awkward at first. However, you find out you just missed this person so much. We talked and talked.”
“Just like high school.”
“Yes. Just like high school. I was returning to Iloilo the next morning. It was around two in the morning.”
“Let me guess.”
“I asked her to marry me.”
“That’s pretty stupid.”
“Yes! But she said yes.”
“That’s amazing.”
“Yes. We were getting old and I don’t want to lose her again. Now, we are almost five years together. Three year old son.”
“What’s the stupidest thing you ever done? For a girl?”
“Have you tried dancing in a room? With no music. And everyone is staring at you two.”
“That is stupid.”
“It is.”
“No wonder she left you.” (laughs)
“I guess so.” (laughs)
“ But the point is you should keep moving forward. Give yourself a chance. Imagine that. In a span of ten years. A lot of things happened.”
“That’s amazing sir. Poetic also.” (smiles)
“Don’t keep your hopes too high.”
“I don’t like what you’re thinking.”
“Neither do I.”
“So. Why did you take up Soc Sci? You like economics?”
“No. I’m poor on numbers. I’m a history kind of guy.”
“Oh. Interesting. I bet you’ll have difficulty in moving on.”
“Why it that?”
“Historians forgive. But they never forget.”
“I’ll try to be different.”
“Try hard.”
“Yes sir. Thank you. I better be going.”
“Yes. Thank you also. I was able to brag my wife. (laughs) Don’t forget the photocopies. Right. You won’t, Historian…”
June 3 2005, 4:30 p.m.
“Can you relax Mark? We’ll be home before six.”
“The orientation program is done. What do we need to stay here for?”
“Just wait for a minute.”
“I can’t believe we’re in high school now. Thirty minutes travel to school. I use to walk to school. We better get used to the city. How much allowance are they going to give you every day? Are you used to riding the jeep alone? I always have Mama whenever we go to the city. Are you listening? What are you looking for?”
“I got it. Let’s go.”
“What? Who were you looking at?”
“The girl in green.”
“Oh. Are you going to introduce yourself? (laughs) As if you have the guts.”
“I just looked at her name tag.”
“It says Kate.”
“I bet we’ll see more of Kate when classes start. Let’s go.”
March 13 2010, 4:55 p.m.
“Honestly I was enlightened. It made sense.”
“How’s that?”
“Somehow I wanted you to break up with me that night.”
“I thought you would understand.”
“I did. I still do. Since that afternoon. I became restless. Trying to, like you said, understand. Until I finally thought of calling you about it because you didn’t seem interested to tell me.”
“I was planning to but—”
“I wasn’t smart enough to take a hint?”
“No, it’s not that Norman.”
“Who cares with what’s what? Kate, I wasn’t born yesterday. I trusted you. I thought you’d tell me immediately if something is wrong.”
“I’m sorry.”
“What for? Anyone can say that. That’s the last thing I’ll believe right now.”
“Why wouldn’t you want to talk to me after that?”
“What if someone made you believe in things that were never there. Talking would be a waste of time.”
“We’ll figure it out and fix it. You’re my best friend.”
“It’s too bad I don’t think like the way you do.”
“Listen, Norman—”
“After that I wasn’t sure anymore. I wasn’t sure if you mean what you say or if you’re just saying them because you don’t want to hurt me.”
July 23 2009, 2:30 p.m.
“It’s Norman right? Light in August by William Faulkner. You have good choice of books. Hemingway, now Faulkner. You really like books do you?”
“Somehow my life revolves around them. Bernard, right?”
“Yes, Bernard.”
“I’m sorry. I just recognize everyone in class by their faces. Still working on names.”
“I guess so. You barely talk to our classmates. You just read. And read some more. Loner kind of guy.”
“Yes, I figured that out. I don’t even greet my high school friends. I don’t know. I just want to read. Like read twice as much. I feel like I lost so much time.”
“Do you write also? Wait, what’s this? Sonnet 48?”
“Yes. Poems. That one isn’t finished yet. Actually, it’s another problem. Writer’s block. I’m just blank. So blank.”
“Aren’t this difficult? I also write. Stories. Not the best. Just enjoy doing it. So, sonnets have patterns or something right?”
“Yes. Fourteen lines. I use the Shakespearean rhyme pattern. Ten syllable per line. But sometimes I just forget them. I also write more on free verse type. But I like sonnets because they’re…cute. No, it’s like a discipline. Besides it’s the first kind of thing I do when I started to write.”
“Yes, yes. Amazing. Literature is just fun. Too bad not everyone knows that.”
“Yes, I agree. With the internet and computers and stuff like that now.”
“That’s very true. Is there something bothering you?”
“Yes! I hate those guys. How could they actually sleep to that. Do you believe what the speakers said?”
“They’re pretty logical. Scary also.”
“People acting as if nothing’s wrong. People thinking only of themselves. Distracting themselves with Facebook and other useless things. I can’t believe what’s happening to this country. You would actually feel out-of-place when you love your country”
“Feels like things falling apart.”
“Chinua Achebe.”
“No. W. B. Yeats.”
“Yes, I remember. Poet. You really like books do you?”
“There’s two of us now.”
“It’s good to know I have a classmate who likes Literature as much as I do.”
“Are you sure politics is the only one bothering you?”
“A lot of other things.”
“I missed my high school friends.”
“But I thought you had classmates here?”
“Yes, but my barkada is other schools.”
“Right. Me too. College really makes you realize a lot of things.”
“Yes, like we really need to be serious now. We’re growing older. Next thing we know we’re looking for work. It’s as if yesterday we were just deciding what course to take.”
“How about girls?”
“What? I never saw them this many before.”
“Again, I agree.”
“The other side of college.” (laughs)
August 26 2009, 9:15 a.m.
“During the first few days I barely slept.”
“I can imagine that.”
“If I were given a chance to sit and think, I would find myself in tears. Never felt so stupid.”
“Don’t say that.”
“That’s what everyone says.”
“Don’t blame yourself.”
“You shouldn’t.”
“But then, I can’t make myself hate her.”
“Of course.”
“I think whenever a relationship ends, most people miss the idea it’s trying to bring.”
“What is that idea?”
“That it not about who’s selfish. Or who was unfaithful. Or who didn’t text back.”
“That’s true.” (laughs)
“It’s trying to say that no matter how we try, or how much we want it, we just can’t completely control everything.”
“Like a reason for everything.”
“Right. I’m actually pretty glad she did it.”
(laughs) “Which part? When she made you believe lies? When she made a fool out of you? When she experimented with you like white mice?”
“Don’t be harsh, Bernard.”
“You were the one who said those things.”
“Well, yes. I guess I did.”
“Then why are ‘glad’ about it?”
“She made me feel I’m worth a try.”
“That’s it. I give up! I can’t understand you people! I’m going to shoot every poet in this world! Right between the eyes!”
December 11 2007, 11:02 a.m.
“I have something for you.”
“What is it?”
“Read it.”
“Sonnet one…”
“It’s not that good. It’s the first time I tried to write a poem.”
“It’s okay. It’s…cute.”
“Very cute actually.”
“I’ll keep this forever.”
March 13 2010, 5:10 p.m.
“Aren’t you even going to defend yourself?”
“No, you’re right.”
“I’m sorry. It’s was good to see you. Talk to you Norman. I’ll just go.”
“What is it?”
“I’m sorry.”
“No, like you said. If I just said no. we wouldn’t be where we are right now. It would be so different. I’m sorry. Being stupid. I’m really sorry.”
“How many times do you have to say that? I don’t like that.”
“I’m sorry. I said it again.”
“Nevermind. I just want to forget that. I’m just glad to actually be with you right now.”
“Me too.”
August 14 2009, 11:45 a.m.
“Just like that. I started to ignore her.”
“How did she take it?”
“She was restless. Kept on asking me what’s wrong.”
“I said it’s better this way. All I’m causing her is trouble. I should have kept my opinions to myself.”
“True. But I think you were right on convincing her to leave him. She doesn’t deserved to be treated like that.”
“Yes. But then, she wasn’t even complaining. That was where she was happy.”
“I wouldn’t really call it happiness if once in a while she would come to you and cry.”
“I don’t know.”
“Your mistake was when she really needed you, you started to ignore her.”
“What can I do? I didn’t like what I was feeling.”
“I guess it felt wrong for you. You two being best friends and all.”
“But why did you change your mind?”
“It was her birthday. I couldn’t take it anymore.”
“So you were friends again. And you eventually asked her to be your girlfriend.”
“That’s stupid.”
“I know. It was that I missed her so much that I don’t want to lose her again. Nor do I want her to end up with wrong people again.”
“You want her for yourself.”
“That’s not true.”
“It’s partly true.”
“Why are you even defending her? I was the one who looked like a fool. The one suffering from writer’s block.”
“You call yourself a writer? A poet? If you do, you must be observant enough to know that some people are like that.”
“Like what?”
“People who are afraid to hurt other people.”
“So they lie at first then hope that other people would understand?”
“Well…yes. I guess they do.”
“She could have said no. It would be very different.”
“Yes. But then, you could have said no. It would be more different.”
“I guess you’re right. I just find it difficult to believe it all went like this.”
“What do you plan to do now? Just read books?”
“I don’t know. Once there was this book. Baudolino by Umberto Eco. Very good writer. I borrowed it for two weeks but I still didn’t finish it.”
“How come?”
“We were fighting. I can’t read.”
“That’s also stupid.”
“All I think about is her. No room for art. Should have known she was trying to make me hate her.”
“But you didn’t.”
“It doesn’t matter anymore. It never did. Now I can read all the books I want.”
“But then—”
“Don’t bother. It’s like having what you want only to realize you didn’t want it that bad after all.”
“We could actually write a story about this.”
“Why would you do that? That’s stupid. That would make me remember her more.”
“We. We will write it together. It would release whatever is inside you. All that longing and anxiety. Like having closure in a story. Writing is therapeutic.”
“Okay, okay. I’ll think about it. I’m done. Your turn.”
“Okay there was this girl named Iris.”
December 18 2009, 7:00 p.m.
“Good evening, Sir Herman, this is my friend Bernard. We’re classmate right now. He also writes.”
“Hello Bernard. What kind of? Poems also?”
“No, he writes stories.”
“Oh, let’s eat first.”
“Okay. By the way sir, have you passed near San Ag lately?”
“Oh yes. Another flyover. I can’t believe those people.”
“Some drivers are talking about it. Saying if they just have road widening projects they’d only get thousands. But from a flyover, millions.”
“Sad but true, Norman. It doesn’t even serve the purpose of a flyover. It just rises and falls. It eats two lanes. It also has two lanes.”
“It’s stupid. If they build one in front of San Ag, then extend it all the way to La Paz. So that some could avoid the traffic jams in the capitol area. A flyover supposed to be an alternative. Not a sort of accessories in the highway.”
“Norman, how about we set that aside. Let’s talk about your poetry.”
“That’s another problem. I’m just blank right now. Depressed and all.”
“No. Don’t say it that way. When you’re depressed, you find life so meaningless. You don’t want to live anymore. I assume you don’t feel that.”
“No, I don’t.”
“You’re just having a writer’s block. It will eventually wear off. Depression is just a prelude to brilliance. Be patient. Discipline also.”
“Yes I’ve been trying. By the way, next school year I’ll be studying in Manila.”
“What? Why?”
“Well, I have an aunt there. She owns a boarding house. My cousin, her only child, is now working abroad. So, my mother suggested I keep her company. My uncle, her husband, travels a lot in his work. Could only stay for a couple of days every month. Besides I want to go somewhere else.”
“Why? What’s wrong with Iloilo?”
“Well, I want to be independent. Survive in a new, tougher environment. Want to take care of myself.”
“But, Norman, you could also do that here.”
“Well, yes of course. But this place, this city seems too much to me right now.”
“Oh, yes. I get it. I get it. (inhales) Your young. I forgot.”
“I guess I am.”
“You’re still going to have vacations here right? Sem break? During Christmas, summer.”
“I’m not sure. That’s why I’m going there so that my aunt would have company during those time. The boarders would go home to their individual provinces and homes.”
“How about your parents here? Your younger brother?”
“They could go there for vacation. We always went to there ever since.”
“Honestly Norman. Running away, wouldn’t solve your problems. Sooner or later you have to face them.”
“Yes. I know that. But—I don’t know. I just want to go to my aunt.”(laughs)
(laughs) “I would talk you out of it as much as I like, but it’s still your decision Norman.”
July 28 2009, 1:05 p.m.
“Have you watched the SONA?”
“We were required to watch.”
“Did you?”
“See. Who knows, maybe she’ll deliver another one next year.”
“Yes. I guess so.”
“If I were to change the constitution, I would add another right.”
“What’s that?”
“Right to cry.”
“You see, Filipinos, especially Ilonggos, have this cheerful image that everyone should maintain. You cry in public, you are considered overacting. Sometimes I believe, crying helps in lightening the burden of people. Everyone should have the right to cry!”
“Thank God you are not one of them.”
“You should be thankful. Those people only think of themselves.”
“So her name is Kate.”
“Who told you that?”
“I have connections.”
“Don’t start with me.”
“I have the name. Just need the story.”
“I’ll tell it when I want to.”
“Remember, right to cry. It’s okay to be not okay.”
“Shut up. How do we solve this SONA garbage?”
“Look! There’s David. David’s pretty enthusiastic when it comes to home work. David!”
March 13 2010, 5:35 p.m.
“Actually right now we are having our press work for our issue this semester. Along with the other staff, we would be working in the printing press tonight. Hopefully it’s our last. Just final editing.”
“Wow. You have been very active here. People here are very lucky to work with you.”
“I’m lucky to work with them.”
“It’s been a long time. I can’t believe we are talking again.”
“Yes. I was never mad. Even until now. You’re the last person I’ll ever get mad to.”
“I know.”
“I know you would understand. You’re always been the smart one. That’s why I feel so safe with you.”
(smiles) “Whatever.”
“I just not ready right now.”
“I don’t even care anymore. The reason why we got along so well back then is that we are so different. We break each other’s monotony. We would never stand too much of each other. You’re free-spirited. I’m a book worm.”
“That’s not…true.”
“You’re not sure yourself.”
“I don’t know.”
“Kate, do you know how fond I am of history?”
“Of course.”
“Well, in history, Philippines history, there have been a lot of compromises. Until now. We wouldn’t progress because people just settle. Between leaders, ordinary people, everyone.”
“That’s true.”
“As a scholar or as a student of history. We must learn that history isn’t there to be pain in the neck. It is not about memorizing dead people’s name and what the hell they did. History is there to make us learn from others mistakes. So we might not repeat them.”
“Norman, I’m having a nose bleed.”
“No, be serious Kate. In everything I do, I never compromised. When I asked you to be my girlfriend, I didn’t settle. Just because were best friends and all. I asked you, because I’m comfortable when I’m with you. Feels like home. And I want to stay there. I’m being korny again, am I?”
“No. its…poetry.” (laughs)
(laughs) “Think they’re all waiting for me in the press now.”
“Yes. Oh, it’s getting late also. I think it would rain. Lisa is probably waiting for me. You work at night? What time do you usually end?”
“Around nine or ten. Depends.”
“That’s late. Be careful when going home.”
“I am. By the way, do you know Henry Miller?”
“No. why?”
“Don’t believe whatever he says. He’s probably in hell right now because of being a liar.”
“Duty calls. (walks away).”
(turns back)“What?”
“I very happy were friends again.”(smiles)
March 13 2010, 4:40 p.m.
“This is it? What does ‘Lacrymation’ even mean?”
“You’re a poet. You should know that. The ending is open ended. You choose how to well, end it.”
“I still don’t understand why we wrote this.”
“Henry Miller once said the best way to get over a woman is turn her into literature. There it is. You choose how it ends.”
“Okay. I’ll see you at the press later.”
“Norman! Look! Who is that chick? She’s coming towards us. I never had seen her before.”
(turns) “Damn it.”
“It’s Kate.”
“What! You never told me she looked like that. Oh my God. You are a lucky bastard Norman.”
“Wonder what she wants.”
“No, this is it. Talk to her. Get it over with.”
March 13 2010, 8:45 p.m.
“We did it. The folio is done.”
“I guess so. Oh, no. Norman do you have an umbrella?”
“So we both are going home wet.”
“Just hope it would be gone in a little while.”
“You sound so different because you’ve talked to her. She really hit you hard and deep huh?”
“I guess.”
“By the way, how did she take it that you’re leaving for Manila?”
“She doesn’t know.”
“What! Why didn’t you tell her?”
“She didn’t ask.”
“I don’t want her to worry.”
“Norman, you are a bastard.”
“You’re just tired.”
“I’m serious. She’d be upset.”
“I don’t know. She would…understand.”
“I just don’t get it!”
“Bernard, lower your voice. Some of the passengers are staring at us.”
“I don’t care! I hate you! You shouldn’t upset a girl that beautiful.”
“Things would just unfold themselves.”
“This is stupid.”
“I’m scared.”
“Now what?”
“I doubt if I’ll get some sleep tonight.”
“This rain reminds me of A Farewell to Arms.”
March 13 2009, 10:15 p.m.
“Is this for real?”
“Yes, already. You asked that a dozen times.”
“I might be dreaming.”
“Can you dream and dance at the same time?”
“I guess so.”
“Until when are we going to do this? Everyone is looking at us.”
“Let them stare.”
“Norman…” (laughs)
“I actually want this to last forever.”
(avoiding Norman’s eyes)“A lot of things could happen…”
“I said I was a different man, James,” he said. Looking into the mirror he saw that this was quite true.
“You look very well, sir,” James said. “You must have had a very good summer.”
-Ernest Hemingway, The Sea Change


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