That One Joke I Couldn't Tell

Friday, April 27, 2012

Here's one joke I've had in my notebook since my early days of trying to do standup. I just couldn't find the heart to use it so I'll just post it here.
My ex was crazy. She wanted to be a policewoman. In bed. But sometimes you know I think she went to far?

One time I wanted to have sex but she had her period, she gave me a ticket for beating the red.

I tried to have anal sex and she jailed me for doing counterflow.

I tried have sex with her without a condom and I was fined for riding without a helmet.

And then I finally did it, over and done no violations. I felt pretty good actually.

And then she got up and started writing a ticket. "What for?"


Tasteless? Probably. Dirty? You betcha.

Relative Distances

Friday, April 20, 2012

Also near : Puerto Galera, Coron Palawan, Corregidor, SM North EDSA.

Taena hahahaha

All The Time

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Part 1 of 3 (Present)

Robert looked at his watch, not so much at the time as at the watch itself. It was the very same one he had been wearing during college graduation, a good five years ago, twelve timezones away. The brown leather was slightly worn and the glass face had visible nicks from his very active line of work. Yeah, it's the same watch that had been given to him by his best friend while working one of their sleepless undergraduate nights at the physics lab. It was a reminder for when it's time to get some shut-eye, she quipped, and a reminder of how little time actually ever bothered him.

Good memories, he thought, as he closed his notebook for last minute configuration checks. Everything was set. All that was left now was to wait for the right moment and press the ignition button. The whirr of the machinery's massive armature that revolved around his control station announced the culmination of the five years of work for him here in the States. Robert smiled and found it ironic that the very sacrifice that he had made to make the leap of faith in doing research abroad was going to be the very goal he'd be reaching for.


Half of his undergraduate thesis, the one that laid foundation to his current work had been hers. She was more than a muse. She was practically the right lobe of his grey matter, and it was through her natural brilliance that the project advanced beyond anybody would have expected. At the time, Robert completely knew what would happen next. The potential of their project - and of course their tandem, would be a crime to not pursue.

They'd continue work on time quantum properties of different materials with regards to their time dilation - the property to expand or contract time - one of the front line fields for a practical application of time travel. They'd complete it and accept Nobel awards for it someday. Somewhere in between, they'd get married and have a family too - probably. In Robert's mind the deal was sealed, only waiting to be finalized.

But that was then.

Five years is a very long time, Robert told himself.

Robert pulled out a note from the breast pocket of his shirt. The scribbles are still legible, but the paper is in poor condition. How it looked like didn't matter, what was important was written on it was his link to the past.

A few days before graduation, five years ago, Laura broke the news that she had different plans. She had secretly turned down the post-graduate offers that they had both considered. For all her talents and skills, she wanted to stay in the Philippines to teach and take care of her family instead - a family that until then, Robert hadn't even known of. At the time, he could only feel nothing but fury for Laura, for how she got in the way of his plans - and his vision of their future. "Solely having the means does not always justify going for the ends," she said with is own words. Laura tried to explain her side as best Robert thought she could, but persistence outside academics was neither their strengths.

There was no stopping his flight to the United States and Robert figured, the best way to go about the whole thing was to just ignore it. He could carry the research on his own. Handicapped, but capable. After the thesis was published and all their clearances were signed, Robert cut off all ties from Laura. It's probably easier for both of them that way, and there were some things that could be said best by being never spoken.

The last time they saw each other was during the graduation ceremony, Robert recalled. They were to accept an award for their thesis - together. The completion of the project and the rest that it allowed Laura had only turned her usual radiance even brighter that day. She was, as he had always thought, as beautiful physically as her mind was, and their time away from each other only heightened it. It made Robert think of what he was really leaving behind for a few moments, but the graduation was what mattered at that time. They accepted the award and even gave each other a casual hug. Despite their falling apart, he clearly remembered Laura's beaming smile, as though everything was just fine. It irked Robert somewhat, but in hindsight, it was that same smile that came to haunt him for the last five years.

"Congratulations," she said while they were still onstage. Robert tried to keep a stern face. What was she up to? Laura looked at their plaque for distinguished research. "More than what we were able to accomplish, I think the greatest achievement of my stay here was knowing somebody like you." She then gave Robert the unexpected kiss in the cheeks, which the audience lapped up and cheered to in a frenzy. "II couldn't have done it without you Laura," he answered as best as his blushing self could.

"What a moment eh? We finally did it."

Laura was half listening. Her eyes were focused right into Robert. "Ever think about what your accomplishment could do if ever you complete it? I always have. Promise me you'll tell me what it's like to be able to relive moments like this over and over again. And promise me you'll tell me that yesterday so I can change my mind. " They both laughed their first one in a while. Robert knew she was just joking. There was no changing her mind. Laura handed a note to Robert, still smiling, slightly flushed by what she just did, and already walking away. "Later," - her mouth motioned without speaking.

Later. Five years ago. The note was that very one in his hand. He never opened it that day, afraid that he'd be tempted to go back on his dreams, simply because his heart wouldn't agree with his mind. No, he resolved, he'd continue the study, and that was that.

That was that.

The shots of electricity started appearing overhead - a sign that he only had a few seconds left. The building administrators would've probably heard it by now and they'd start wondering who was doing unauthorized tests in this ungodly of hour. But what would happen by the time they arrived didn't matter. Because in those five years, Robert finally had enough time to read the message.


Robert folded it once gain. He had first read it one night, six months into his internship. He felt a sense of longingness that made him call her for the first time since they had last met. She could not be reached. None of their old ways of contacting each other was still available. Every attempt he made to talk to her became increasingly desperate. Had she changed her mind after all? It was like she had vanished. If back then he felt sure of her feelings for him - the lack of communication cast it in doubt.

One thing that didn't change however, whether or not her feelings were still there, he at least know where his was. It had been with her all along, and the sudden separation only made him anxious. Even if he did manage to get contact of her, what of it? Not showing up as instructed in the note was already a clear answer to her.

Work first before you, Laura - because I'm a dork like that.

That kind of answer. But then what of his feelings? Some problems simply came off as harder than quantum physics. Half of them, Robert thought, were on the topic of love.

Sometime after he went to the States, and he didn't really know when it was, but sometime during that first year, he made up his mind that the only real way that he could ever rectify things is by traveling in the past. It was all possible, and given his determination, he would definitely do it. His race forward slowly turned into a race to go back - to that turnpike where he felt he missed a turn.

The ignition button changed its colour to green. Robert took a look at the control readings one last time. The sad reality of his work was that time travel was far from a fairy tail, not as convenient as they'd imagine it would be. There was only enough quantum material in this world for one person to travel as far as he needed to travel - and even then there was only enough energy for fifteen minutes. Robert took a deep breath and plunged his index finger into the control. All those years of work, down to this.

Fifteen minutes borrowed from the past to reclaim his future.

Part 2 of 3: The Past

For all the hours of theories and conjectures that he had put into time-traveling, Robert had not once considered what doing it would actually feel like to actually do it. Quantum theories aside, he had clearly never taken into account what it would feel like as a human being to enter a time dilation. The surprising sensation of energy, youth, and exuberance that coursed through his body shocked him. Understandably, prior to him, the only things ever to get sent back in time were inanimate objects for controlled experiments. To jump strait into human testing was a huge risk, a risk that, considering his situation, sublimated into a rush of youthful adrenaline.

Robert opened his eyes and suddenly he was there again, among the graduating students, the same ones five years ago, but somehow different. Robert smiled. He had done it. What they never really tell you about time traveling is that because you're traveling back, everybody just grows younger, and then suddenly there's this feeling that you are somehow forced into a position of superiority, as though everybody else has lessened in statute. It took him a few seconds to compose himself. He looked at the watch.

Fifteen minutes.


Robert hastily wove his way through the throngs of students taking their graduation photos. The last time he was there, he didn't even pay attention to them. Now he couldn't help but do so. He could make out a face or two, people he'd wanted to talk to again, but his time was limited - and it was all for one purpose alone.

Ten minutes.

The run from the ceremony hall to the Starbucks branch was a short one, but Robert panted heavily. He recalled that this was the place where they had worked on a lot of the theories that went to the project many years ago - no, a few weeks ago. He stopped short of entering, clutched the paper. Was this it? The time-space coordinate that he most wanted to go back to.

Everybody misses a turnpike or two. Sometimes moving forward also means making a U-turn and going back to what we have missed.

At the far end of the cafe, sitting on the familiar couch with the familiar cup of tea on hand, was Laura. She was as beautiful as he could recall. How could he have taken this for granted? For somebody who was able to figure out a scientific problem that has plagued mankind since the Biblical ages, he felt like an idiot for dumping her and not realizing his mistake until much later. Five years ago he had missed being there, and now, he was there, but as a different person. No, he told himself, she would understand. If only one person in the world could, she was that person.

Laura saw Robert walking forward, her eyes locked on to him, as though seeing something new and familiar at the same time. Robert knew her mind was already racing to figure out what was going on. But this time, he'll just have to beat her to it.

"Laura, sorry I am late," Robert said as he sat down, silently relishing the familiar feeling of sitting on his favorite couch again with the woman he thought he'd never see again. "You can't possibly imagine how much I went through to be here."

Laura stared at him for what felt like half an infinity of suspense.

"Is that really you, Rob? You look different. You seem to be you but not you at the same time," Laura touched his face, still unbelieving, but with eyes sparkling with fascination. "From what year have you come from? What exactly is happening here?"

Quick as ever, Robert thought. Just as he had imagined, she already knew he was a five year older version of what she had last saw him. "Heh, I knew you'd understand. Five years ago - no - a while ago - the younger me decided to skip out on this conversation, Laura. It was a mistake. I'm proxying for my idiotic former self."

Laura grinned. "Really? I can't believe it. You have actually done it! You've gone back in time!"

Robert nodded. "Though just this once, and only for a few minutes."

Laura's signature eyebrow raised up. "And you decided that this was the best time to go back to?"

"Well it's the only time I could think of. And you're the only person I could think of meeting."

Laura put her tea down and crossed her legs. "I assume you have a lot to tell me, and time's a wasting. Go ahead, dear."

Robert finally let it all out, all those times that he was abroad, how he could never feel as accomplished again without her, and how her absence drove him to build a time machine just so he could tell his feelings.

"Feelings?" Laura interrupted.

"Feelings," Robert answered, his voice staggering from the urge to let out what he had been holding back for years, "I came back so I can have the opportunity to say that I love you. I always have, even though I probably didn't know at the time how important it is to have somebody with you at your worst; at your best. I am sorry if I left you, if I felt selfish enough to not even consider what you wanted. And I'm begging you to not leave me anymore. "

Laura leaned forward and kissed Robert; it was warm, and tingly, and it felt like the world stopped for a moment for that one kiss. And the five long years felt like it was nothing at all. "I love you too Robert. But I know that despite all that, it's your destiny to complete the project, as you have, with or without me."

"But -"

"We love each other, and now we both know it. Even if we can turn back time, we can't turn back feelings - and for as long as these things remain, I'd like to believe nothing will change."

Robert, teary-eyed, smiled as though the weight of the world was suddenly no longer crushing his spirit down. "You mean to say you'll come with me to the States?" Laura shook her head. "Time travel can change only your circumstance, never your character. I want to be here, and you wanted to be there. We both have our reasons and to some extent, we both are right. And this feeling that you have right now, and how I probably will feel in the future, they're feelings that were forged in the five years that we spent reflecting on it. It's too beautiful to be spoiled. "

Thirty seconds.

"But how will this change anything!?" Robert protested. Laura jotted down something on a piece of tissue, folded it and handed it over to Robert. "Five years from now, open this note up and you will know. Even if you are here now, the past is something that we need not change. Let's work on the future instead. I will make an effort so you will not find me until then, so your motivations wont change, and so this meeting will happen. Read that note and then we will meet again. "

"Five years from now, what if circumstances change? What if things become different?" Laura gave Robert a hug and laughed.

"Hey, you had five years to think about that," Laura replied with a hint of jeering, "Be fair and give me that same time. Don't worry and remember, only your circumstance, never your character."

"II'll wait for you then!" said Robert, his labored breathing making it hard for him to reply.

"For what it's worth, I kinda like how you've matured," Laura smiled and winked. "Oh and the goatee suits you. I'll see you in five?"

Robert could not even reply. In an instant, the quantum dilation closed up. The continuum fabric restored the kink and the process of rejuvenation bore down on Robert like a heavy torrential rain inside his mind and all over his body. His eyes opened, his finger on the control panel and a crumpled note on his left hand.

Back to reality. His reality.

Part 3 of 3: Future

Five years had gone by in a moment's notice, took its toll in one swift motion and made Robert fall to his knees. His whole body shivered. What was it that made him shake to his very core? Was it really the time traveling? Or was it Laura's parting words? Suddenly it somehow felt clearer. Laura had not disappeared from his world by mere coincidence. If their theories held any water, she had been hiding deliberately because of what he had said to her five years ago. Did it make sense? Or rather did it have to? Laura was right. His circumstance indeed had changed. Now it was up to him to see if their feelings did not.

He opened the crumpled tissue paper up.

This time, there's no turning back time. This time, the only direction is moving forward.

The administration guys entered the lab with their white coats and fire extinguishers, undoubtedly stirred from the noise. There was no fire to quench. Matter of fact, Robert realized, there was nothing anymore. The quantum material he had carefully amassed was gone. It would take years more to gather enough for another test, if it was even possible, and even longer to synthesize a replacement substance. None of it mattered though. The funding would eventually dry up, and his project would likely be just another stepping stone towards a more sustainable solution.

For the first time in a long while, Robert smiled. Somehow, that the project wasn't the dream he thought he could realize on his own was just fine for Robert. The ends to his means was finally achieved, he'd gone back to the one time and space coordinate that mattered, and everything else felt like fruitful byproducts. The research still had to be concluded, but like pretty much everything else, it could wait.

After explaining to the admin what had just happened through some fabricated half-truths he'd mastered to spin all these years, Robert walked out of the facility and sought tickets for the first available plane back. No, his fate would have to be decided some other time, somewhere else, with somebody else.

The excitement and anxiety made for a strange cocktail in Robert's heart on his way to the meeting place. As he had envisioned it, time travel would have removed any room for doubts in pretty much anything. You make a mistake that you can walk away from, you can do it all over again. And again. And again. Yet, now that Robert stood in front of the truth about his work on time travel, he realized that there was more to it than just that, and his case being proof, that time travel did little to remove doubts. Rather than manifesting as a power from the gods, it appealed to his more human side - it was limited and fragile and unpredictable. No, he told himself, time travel does not change character, right Laura?


There was still time, and to worry so much now that the end is close in sight was Robert closed his eyes and slept.


Five years had gone by, and although Robert had been in the coffee shop no later than twenty nine hours ago, changes from half a decade had magically transformed their meeting place. The chairs were all different. The familiar baristas had long since gone, and even the expressionist paintings that gave the place an atmosphere of renaissance thinking were replaced by more hip looking pop abstracts. He wondered, did I cause this to change? Thinking about it, there was a running parallel theory to time travel, that if you went back in time and did anything - even just exist, you send ripples in the chronocontinuum that changed the future irreversibly.

Five years, however, was too small a time to have anything changed significantly right?

Robert looked at his watch again. The meeting time was supposed to be now already, and there was no clear sign of anybody resembling Laura anywhere. He thought of the idea of ​​meeting a Laura who was five years older than how he had last seen her only a day ago. It sent tingles in his spine. Where was she anyway? His heart beat faster and faster after his mind ran through each possible scenario.

He took a seat at one of the wooden chairs near where their favorite corner couches used to be and scouted for Laura while pretending his best to look composed. What if she did change her mind? What if she did so years ago? How could he even know?

"Excuse me," an unfamiliar, hoarse voice came from behind him. He turned around and saw an old woman, possibly in her sixties. She wore an apron with the same logo as the coffee shop and held an empty tray on one hand. She had an oddly familiar look about her, and she was smiling. "Robert?" she called for him.

Robert took a deep breath. Only Laura could've known he would be there today. "Y-yes that's me." The old woman pulled out a chair and took a seat. "Did you know that this place burned down a few years ago?" the old woman told Robert. Robert's heart stopped. "What do you mean?"

"The coffee shop here couldn't sustain operations, and the owner decided to cut losses by attempting to collect insurance by burning the place down. What a mess."

Robert looked around and realized that indeed many things looked different, as though it had been rebuilt - not just the paintings, even the layout, only slightly, but still noticeable. "But then why is it still open?"

"I reopened it with my own savings, after a certain time traveling person said that he'll come back to this place to keep a promise, a good four years ago. A pretty unbelievable reason to do business, don't you think? " the old woman said while chuckling, "I'd say it's an interesting story to tell new customers."

Robert nodded, only to feel his heart stop. He took a look at the woman again. She was staring at him as though she already knew what he would get what she was trying to imply. He tried to stammer out a question or two, but to see an old woman meet with him instead ...

"Laura? How ... did you also time travel back from the future?"

No response came, only a kind warm stare and the same smile that greeted him earlier. She stood up and went back to the coffee preparation area. "Dearie, I think your long awaited visitor's already here."

"Just a minute!" said a voice from the backroom.

"I'm no the one you're looking for," the old lady turned back to Robert and winked. "My granddaughter told me everything. She also asked me to say those things to you, Robert. She told me I'd get a priceless reaction from you. And for the price of having to resurrect a dying coffee joint to fulfill her wish, I'd say your face earlier was worth it. " Robert felt himself sinking slowly into his chair while the old lady laughingly returned to serving people's drinks.

"Y-yeah. Good one."

And then there was finally Laura, coming out of the employee area like the embodiment of an answer to all his questions about life. True enough, time had been kind to Laura. She had visibly matured, and only made her even more of a sight for the weary Robert. And though some things changed, her face still showed the kind, thoughtful - and admittedly mischievous soul that he had once taken for granted, and now valued more than anything in this world.

As she came closer, Robert's view blurred, beset by overdue tears that overtook his will to appear restrained. No, no more hesitations. Robert threw himself to Laura, and wrapped his arms around her. To feel her warmth, the slight push of her exhaling so close to him. "Damn it Laura, you're late."

Laura beamed a smile. "To be fair, I was fifteen minutes late, paltry compared to your five years."
She turned her head towards her amused grandmother, whose face was propped by both her hands on the kitchen counter. "I even prepared company while you waited." When she saw Robert look as well, she waved her hand and smiled.

"That was pretty cruel, you know."
"What is?"
"Making your grandmother pretend she's you."
"I'm surprised you actually fell for it. Last time I checked, you're the one with the time traveling machine."
"Well I. .."
"At least I can still confirm that you believe I can build one myself."
"Well now, can I take that as a challenge?"
"Silly Robert. I love you. And I don't need a machine to time travel," Laura said. "With you by my side, I can time travel into our future. One second at a time."
Robert laughed. "Sounds slow, but I think I'm perfectly fine with tha-"

Laura kissed him without letting him finish, and that was as much as what Robert had wanted all along. He had been in love, still was in love, and with those came the realization that for all time travel was worth, nothing could replace enjoying the present, reminiscing the past, and looking forward to a future with somebody beside him.

Robert held her hand. Walking out with her, he stole a glance at his watch again, not so much at the watch as the time, for at that moment, he knew.

With Laura, he now had all the time in the world.

The End.

This Is How I'll Remember It

Monday, April 09, 2012

It was the morning of Holy Thursday, my third day supposedly away from work, but as I saw it, it was the first real day of the long weekend for me. I was already on leave starting Tuesday earlier that week, but I had to work from home that time, and the following day I had to go to the office to get my "standby dude of the month" laptop plus a couple of official duties. Thursday, I told myself, that's the time it'd begin.

I woke up around 7:00AM, though I'd hardly qualify it as waking up given that I was mostly tossing, turning, and grunting while being nudged repeatedly by Anna who was already preparing for work and eating a slice of leftover pizza. Yes, work. On a Holy Thursday. American company, American clients, American schedule.  She had opted to stay the night due to the traffic from the mass exodus of vacationing ManileƱos the previous evening, and granted I had nothing better to do in the house, her company was always welcome - EXCEPT when she keeps on forcing me to wake up despite my (or what seemed to me as) rational bargaining for additional sleep time. She kept on nagging, and I kept on telling her she should just go to work and let me sleep.

By 7:45, Anna told me that she'd be leaving already. I laughed at her early departure since she usually left late whenever she'd go to work from my place. She gave me a kiss and told me she'd be able to go home earlier if she went to work earlier. I agreed and told her "ingat". Before I knew it, she was gone. I decided I've had enough sleep, and more importantly, realized that I was as prepared for the weekly 8am conference call with our American counterparts as the Trojans when the Greeks came out of the Horse. I had not sent out an agenda the night before (since I was supposed to be on vacation) and scrambled for anything that would've made me appear somewhat prepared.

I connected to the conference, I was the first person there. I had already set up the remote connection to my office PC and was reading my notes when I noticed that Anna's yellow earphones had been left behind. I decided to call her but just before I reached for my phone, I saw that hers was resting just beside mine. Nice try. I wondered if Anna had already realized what had happened.

Five minutes before the start of the conference, I opened the balcony door and looked at the street below me. I wondered if she'd ridden the taxi already. If she did, she'd probably have to go back for the phone after work, which would mean she'd have to take another taxi ride back, and make her trip home even that much more of a hassle.

Thens something caught my eye.

At the edge of Taft Avenue, in front of our building, bystanders, a few security guards, and the usual pedicab hawkers were rerouting traffic from the lane that was directly under the LRT. I figured, there must've been a stalled vehicle. Or maybe, an accident. It occured to me that it could've been Anna. But Anna already had left, right? I went back inside, still with the gruesome thought lingering in my head. No, I shrugged it off. Why would she cross the road when she always got a taxi in front of the entrance? I thought about calling her again. Again, I remembered her cellphone was still with me. I thought of sending her an email instead. Maybe later, I still had a conference call to do.

And then the door bell rang. I laughed a bit. She went back for her phone, Jet. See? She's not as forgetful as you think. I looked at the door and it was already swinging open. Anna wasn't there. A guard was standing where my mind thought she'd be. My heart stopped.

"Sir, nakabukas po yung pinto nyo."

I sighed of relief. It's not about the accident downstairs. She left the door half ajar and opening the balcony door caused the wind to push the main door open. Makes sense. I thanked the guard and rushed for the door. But the guard wasn't going anywhere.

"Sir, taga dito po ba si Anna Manarang?" the usually smiling guard said with a stern look.

My heart started racing. "Oo, taga dito sya, bakit?"

"May nangyari ho kasi sa baba. Pumunta na lang daw po kayo ASAP."

My heart started racing, and I guess it's true, that at moments of great distress, time seems to slow down. Without thinking too much, I grabbed my phone, my wallet, Anna's phone, and my car keys. I hung up the phone, closed the doors and darted for the elevator, which was, as though conspiring to help me, already waiting for me, whereas normally it took many minutes to get to my floor since I live in the uppermost part of the condo. Getting from my chair to the ground floor felt like one swift, dreamlike motion. Or perhaps I wasn't just paying attention. My mind kept on playing out all the possibilities.

And then I remembered one thing.

The previous night, while Anna and I were trying to talk each other to sleep, we veered to the topic of what to do if ever something happened to one of us. I kept on telling Anna that if something were to happen to me, that she should just move on. And then she got pissed. And then I can't remember too much of what we talked about. Becuase hey, sleep talk isn't exactly courtroom testimonial-grade talk.

And then now it was this. I was racing from the lobby to the entrance. I turned left and I saw on the road a scene that keeps on repeating in my head even to this day.

Anna had been the reason for the commotion I had seen from upstairs minutes earlier. Anna, who just a few minutes ago had been cheerily saying she'd be going to work. Anna who just the previous night was idlly playing with Draw Something until she fell asleep.

She was there. Lying on the pavement. Not moving. Several policemen were already on the scene, as were our condos guards, and the pedicab people. I rushed to her, called out her name with a broken, hoarse voice, bereft of strength that I simply could not muster. The twenty meters that I had to dash felt like a kilometer. When I got to her, I knelt, in disbelief.

For the first time in a very long time, I called out to a God that I only conversed with every Sunday.

I shouted Anna's name again. "Are you okay?!" I shouted. Anna opened her eyes, albeit weakly. She very slightly said "No" although the only reason I knew is because I read her weak lips. Her forehead had blood, as did her arms. She was lying on her shoulder and one of her legs was twisted in a very irregular angle. I rose up and asked one of the guards to call an ambulance. "Tumawag na ho" he said. It's fucking Holy Thursday, I thought, why couldn't it come sooner?

I went back to Anna. She looked slightly more conscious. A voice behind me, and I do not know who, gave me a briefing of what had happened. A motorbike had hit her while crossing the road, and then told me that the guy who did it was standing behind me. I looked at the man, in his late thirties. I swear I wanted to tear that man apart, were it not for the fact that he looked as terrified as me. I asked for his license and ID, in case he had a last minute burst of gall to run away. Turns out one of the guards already had the cards. I took a shot of them with my phone. I went back to Anna and assured her with lines I would repeat over and over again for the rest of the day.

Stay with me.

I love you.

Try to stay awake.

Conserve your energy.

Don't move too much.

I'm with you now.

I'll be here.

Shortly after, the policemen arrived, took over for the guards and started asking questions. I demanded to know where the ambulance was. I called mom first, thinking she might be in my sisters' condo. She was in Cavite. I explained to her the situation. As usual, she coolly told me to relax, get a taxi, and have her lifted to Manila Ortopedic Hospital, where my uncle had been previously sent due to another injury caused by the same godforsaken transport. I consulted one of the policemen and told me it'd be too risky at this point. He asked Anna to wink if she could get up or even just move her back or neck or leg. She shook her head instead. The policeman told me had there been a fracture, or a spine injury, moving around and transport with no restraints would worsen the injuries. I recalled rudimentary first aid, and understood.

Anna spoke after a few minutes, asking me to call her boss. What the fuck, right? You get into an accident and the first thing you want to call is call the boss? Must've been the shock I suppose, or she's probably just that dedicated to her goddamn job. I called her dad first instead. Normally a very stoic person, he sounded surprised to hear my voice instead coming from  her daughter's cellphone. I told him the essentials. She's conscious. The guy who hit her is apprehended. The ambulance is one the way. I told him the hospital would be Phil Orthopedic. He thanked me and told me to keep him updated.

The ambulance still wasn't coming. My mother called again. Asked me where I was and what I was doing. I told her the ambulance is still on the way, and that there might be fractures so we're not moving her. My mom insisted. if there's a fracture, she told me, there's nothing that can be done about it anyway. If she moved sooner, the sooner she'd get treatment. I looked at Anna. She had a point as well. If she was dying right at that moment, and the reason she couldn't have been saved was because I was adamant about waiting for an ambulance that wouldn't come, I will never forgive myself.

For the mean time, I texted Anna's boss. He replied okay and to keep him updated.  Anna started speaking again. She looked like she was indeed getting weaker, and said she wanted to sleep. I yelled at her, as loud as I could. DO. NOT. FALL. ASLEEP. And silently cursed at the traffic that was keeping the ambulance away from us.

A guard from La Salle dropped by and asked if she was from La Salle. No, I told him and he went away. The police investigator came and started asking for details. I gave them as accurately as I could, though for the life of me I just couldn't remember her home address. I gave mine instead. They gave me instructions on what would happen next. The investigator would go to the hospital for more details, so I just need to tell them where we'd be going. I started gathering her belongings. Her shoes had flung pretty far, but her bag was beside her, intact, albeit with scratches on it.

I kissed Anna. She was cold, and sweating. No fever, at least, I told myself. Her pulse was regular, somewhat slow. People were starting to gather, and the traffic was slowly building up, though, not as much since La Salle was still on holiday, was was the rest of Metro Manila. I looked around and found the two slices of pizza she told me she'd be brining to work. They were resting on top of the island's wall. The plastic had torn, and the pizzas were mangled and dirty - a silent evidence of the tragedy that morning.

I kept on following up on the ambulance, repeating to Anna any words that may have an effect on her. We've been through worse before, I told her, remember that last stage of Resident Evil? I tried to joke. That was fucked up, wasn't it? She smiled for the first time. I thought she'd be in more pain of she laughed so I stopped and just kissed her again.

The ambulance that took forever to arrive finally came, sirens blaring. On a darker note, part of me always wondered what it'd be like to be riding those things, but I've always wished to never have to know. The ambulance belonged to the Philippine Red Cross. Thank you Dick Gordon, I thought to myself. The crew of four hopped out of the thing like the Ninja Fucking Turtles. Like clockwork, one of them started talking to the police, the other two started assessing Anna's condition. The last one, the driver, came to me and asked where she need to be taken. Philippine Ortho, I told him. He discussed with the other guy if it's possible, and said yeah, since this bones may be broken, that'd make sense.

Moving Anna, even with experienced medics around, was gut-wrenching, heart-rending. She screamed in pain when they put a hard splint on her left leg. I was with Anna when she was loaded into the ambulance. At the last minute, the driver asked me again if I wanted to go Phil Ortho. He said it might be traffic.

Alternatives were Ospital ng Maynila, PGH, and Manila Doctors. I thought, since it's Holy Thursday, staffing will be minimal. Going to a public hospital may prolong her wait for medical attention, so I went for Manila Doctors.I told the policemen of the change and thanked them for their help. And off to the hospital we went.

The medics ripped her pants to check for more wounds, during which I heard Anna mumble that those where her only decent pants. They used her bag to prop her right leg, which just wouldn't straighten. I remembered that her bag contained her phone. I called her dad using mine instead. Thankfully I still had his number from a time when Anna had to text him.

My mother called again when we were already in the ambulance. I got scolded for not going to Phil Ortho, even after reasoning out the traffic. She told me it'd cost us, and that if she were to be transferred to the Phil Ortho later in the day, she'd be put in the low priority triage.

Regarding the choice of hospital, as of writing, a lot of people question my logic at the time, some of them I sincerely believe have good points, others, I believe are just parotting third-hand experiences and would've probably done worse, they just didn't know how being put on the spot was like. In hindsight, I believe I acted to the best of my ability given the knowledge I had at hand. I knew Anna had Medicard provided for by her company. I knew it was honored in Manila Doctors, since I already had gone there when I was still using the Medicard brand some 8 years ago. I knew all hospitals were understaffed, and the least understaffed choice within the vicinity was Manila Doctors, I thought, and this is the part where I was assuming, worst case scenario, Anna could be transferred to another hospital after being administered emergency care. I have no regrets.

We arrived at Madocs in under ten minutes. I had no idea how fast the ambulance passed through the normally traffic areas of Quirino, Pedro Gil, and Padre Faura, but it was like we were there in a flash. I hopped off, ran towards the nearest doctor who wasn't attending to Anna and asked if there was an Ortopedic on duty. I was told yes. In that case, I thought, she should stay here instead of moving to Phil. Orthopedic. Later on, I thought, I'd just bring the possibility up to the parents.

I ran back to Anna's side. Surprisingly, I saw at least three other cases that involved broken appendages in the emergency room. I thought that was the probably reason why the Orthopedic doctor was already on duty. I later learned that the actual ortho was NOT on duty, and was in a goddamn Visita Iglesia out of town, and the resident doctor had to perform initial diagnosis by consulting that doctor. Crazy.

Anna was given pain killers, and had most of her wounds cleaned, medicated, and sealed. After a short while, she was taken to XRay, where, and I shit you not, only one radiologist was on duty. Now I don't want to sound condescending on Anna or the radiologist's part, but the radiologist looked half my body mass. And I personally admit, I cannot lift Anna without injuring her and/or myself. And now he had to move Anna to the XRay table. It was a mess. I just had to help out. While xraying her abdomen, I was told to lower her pants to prevent the zipper from showing up. The pants were too tight and since her left leg was bent, I couldnt without risking Anna going bananas from the pain. I asked for scissors instead. We'll just cut away the whole section of pants. The radiologist gave me a pair of scissors that felt more blunt than a plastic breadknife. In the end, he relented and just had the xray done even with the zipper blocking parts of the image. I saw the preview and sighed of relief to see that there was no tearing inside her. He then moved on to the leg, which he said would be sent to the ortho for analysis. We then moved Anna back to her bed, which felt like a murderously painful ordeal for Anna (understandably so). I swore to myself I'd start bodybuilding as soon as I could.

Anna's parents and sister arrived shortly after, along with a woman who clained to be the wife of the guy who was riding the bike that hit Anna, and a guy who I thought was the guy who hit Anna (he was the brother, as it turns out, and looks eerily like him). Anna went back to the emergency room, and for the first time since 8 that morning, I was away from her. I sat at the waiting room with her mom, her dad, her sister, and the two relatives of the offender. We had a lot of small talk. I assured Anna's mother that she was a fighter, and that she was a lot more mature now than when I first knew her. We talked about a lot of things, most of them relating to Anna, if only to pass time.

I also got to talk to the wife of the guy who hit Anna. They were both pawnbrokers for a large pawnshop chain, and turns out he was on the way to work when Anna got hit. From what Anna told me and the investigators, the guy was going really fast. I told his wife that there's this called the phenomenon of Holiday Speeding, where vehicles start travelling faster and more recklessly during the holidays, becuase they're not used to decongested roads, and their reaction times tend to be slower relative to their speed because of that. The wife insisted that's not the case, I told her no driver is excempted from that rule, but I realized it won't help their case and changed topic instead. They told me they'd pay for everything and that they wont run away. The husband is of course, in jail at the moment, so yeah, nobody will be running away.

My mother called again and told me of the possible expenses. I can't detail much, but I recall her examples racking up amounts ranging from 150k to 300k, in different hospitals. I knew Manila Doctors belongs to the league of uberexpensive hospitals so I started doubting my decision at that point, and feeling sorry for the motorcycle owner. There was no way a pawnshop employee would be able to shoulder something like that.

I apologized in advance to Anna's parents for having her brought there. They knew what costs I was talking about, but told me I had nothing to worry about because I was panicking at that time. For what it was worth, I told them about her medicard. At the least, I knew that it could shoulder about 150k worth of bills at least, if it was the same with what I was using. I said the same to the wife of the offender.

After a while I got to talk to Anna again. She was crying, but definitely in a better, more stable condition. I apologized to her for not keeping her for a few minutes more, for not having done better. She assured me and thanked me for my support. At that point I felt like crying like a goddamn baby already, but I tried to keep the facade up.

I realized that I had closed the condo unit without taking my home keys with me. I was locked out of my own place. Also, that I basically was wearing my sleeping clothes, short pants that had a huge gaping hole in the crotch, but already sewn beforehand, and my room slippers. I called my sisters if they had spare keys and told them I'd be dropping by to get them. My sister sounded like she was scolding me, asking too many questions, some of them asking why I didn't send her to Phil Ortho I felt like I really just didn't have enough time for such deliberations - I only asked for the keys after all.

Anna was to be confined, the doctor told us. There were no fractures found in any of the injured parts her body but she had to remain for observation. It was like a breeze of relief for me. I told them I'd be going back later that day so I could be the night watch. Her family had rushed so quickly they did not have time to bring any clothes or comforts. For the moment, I thought, things were finally shaping up better than I had expected. After we got her settled in, I finally gave my farewell to both Anna and her family. They thanked me and told me to keep safe.

I headed straight for my sisters' condo after, clutching only my car keys, wallet, and cellphone. I took the taxi back and nearly fell asleep. I was already two in the afternoon, and I realized I haven't had a morsel of food, or a minute's of rest. Either would've been so nice.

I got up to the unit and was offered food. Since it was Holy Thursday, my sisters were eating noodles delivered from a Japanese restaurant that didnt'really celebrate holy weeks. I told them I'd just eat it at home, since I really needed to go back. I was thirsty so I went for one of the few remaining bottles of water in the supply. My sister told me that if I were to drink that, they'd run out of water, so I placed the bottle back. I'd just get my own when I get back to the condo. She told me I should buy more, since she couldn't lift the water herself since she had just undergone an operation two weeks before. I told her okay,  I'd have somebody bring the water up before I go back to the hospital. I figured that'd be the cue for a change of topic. Nobody asked me anything remotely related about the incident I was only beggining to walk away from, but I brushed that aside. I just wanted to get some rest. I asked if they were going to Cavite that weekend, as was tradition. Nobody had told me of the plans, so I thought, maybe they could go home I could just catch up. My sister, and I really am understating this, replied "Eh pano kami uuwi, wala naman magddrive?"  in a tone that I know is her condescending, accusatory voice.

Perhaps it was the stress, or the enervation, or the waning shock, but I just lost it at that point. I told her "Nangyari na nga yung nangyari, sinisisi mo pa rin ako kaya di makakauwi? Shet." She told me what the hell was wrong with me, "na kaninang umaga pa ako nagtataas ng boses" I told her she was the one who was talking like I'm the one with the problem. I don't know for sure about my personal stature that morning, but during our earlier conversation I was pretty sure I was still in a very urgent mood, and any tone I may have had was because I was in a pretty fucked up situation.  She went on to drone about how I never treat people properly whenever I am in need. Truly felt like a wTF moment. I realized that the longer I argued back, the more energy I'd have to further spend on something I couldn't afford at the moment. I told her "I dont need this right now." She didnt stop. I took the keys from my younger sister - what I actually just wanted in the first place, and ran out, saying in one breath "walang kwenta".

My sister ran after me even as I rode the elevator, throwing out cusses that rent my battered soul so helplessly. It was uncharacteristic of her to hit me while I was so down, and yet there she was, literally verbally abusing me, on top of her lungs, and within earshot of all neighbors. Janine quietly guided us back to the condo. I felt I shouldn't, but the amount of hurtful words said about me and Anna, compelled me to come back and give her a dose of her own medicine. I tried to be as civil as I could. I told her I was under so much stress. She told me she's been through worse. I told her I never did the same thing whenever she was. She was simply unstoppable, incorrigible. At one point, we made Janine recall the exact events that happened. I pointed out how she had the gall to order me to buy water, to refuse me water, without ever asking how I was, how Anna was. And that it was her who was berating me for being shitty to people who was doing favors. I simply could not accept how this was happening on the very same day that represented the lowest point of my recent life. I walked out again after realizing there was just nothing to fix what had been broken that day.
I got home, I saw my computer, still connected to my office workstation, carrying my food. That was the only time that it all sunk in. The accident. The mad rush to get aid. The problematic costs. The fight. It felt like a huge dam of stress building on top of me just burst and crushed me under a torrent of depression. That was probably the first time I cried on my own. I called my sister again. I tried to apologize for my voice, tried explained my part but sensing so hint of remorse, affection, or sympathy on the other end I just ended up having anger get ahead of me, with my sister answering with a stone cold voice that she has done nothing wrong and will never ever apologize for anything. I realized I was talking to an idiot, and was being an idiot in the process. There's this long standing tradition in the family of nobody every saying sorry to anything or anybody. I learned a long time ago that that was a stupid tradition to begin with. Nobody has apparently moved on. So when she asked "what is it that you wanted to tell me by calling?" I told her nothing. I asked if she had anything else to say, and she said nothing as well. I hung up, realizing that I had just gone past my limit.

A voice at the back of my head told me that we become the people that we hate. And that the person who I had just fought with, once upon a time, had described to me the person she hated the most. with the very same words that could've been used to her today. I thought of myself, and realized that I would also come to hate her eventually, and that the only way I could avoid a similar situation was either to forgive or forget. There's something about that situation, me being in my low of lows, that just made me resolve that there will be no forgiveness this time, only forget. And that if in the future there there will be any reconciliation, it will most certainly never begin with me. We are both adults now, and right now I knew where my priorities lay.

Times like this, you see who are the people you can count on, and who are only there to count you out while lying on the mat.

I finally ate my food, cleaned the house, packed clothes and ammenities for two days, took a bath, and rested for half an hour before heading back to the hospital. But not before I bought the water for my sisters. Fight or not, I  already said my promise. Packing a heavy bag, a laptop, and then with some 250 pesos worth of water (heavier than you think), I had to bring it up myself, since I realized that the condos are practically empty due to the long weekend and the last thing I need is to have some stranger bring water to my sisters and realize there's only two women staying in that condo. My lower scoliosis started acting up again, but that was, at the moment, the least of my worries. I brought the water up, my sister opened up for me, wordlessly. I dropped the water, waited a moment to hear if there's anything that she'd say, nothing. So I went back and figured, my resolve was not misplaced.

I took the taxi back to the hospital and tried to put up my cheeriest mood on the way. It was five in the afternoon, barely ten hours since the start of the ordeal. Anna greeted me with a worn out smile. I could only give her half as much. But I realized that the worst just had to be over.

And every step after that could only move us forward.

This is how I'll remember that day.

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