OVERTURE: A married wota's journey
(photo credits: HHE)
My wife and I just finished eating lunch at a christening party held by one of our friends when I reached out to her hand and gently pressed it.
“Can we go there?” I asked with a gentle smile. My wife stared at my smile for a moment before closing her eyes in defeat, smiled and nodded.
“Fine, but can we make it in time?”, she asked me as I glanced at my watch. “2:30 PM,” I muttered as I glanced at her. “MOA to QC, kaya in 1 hour 30 mins?” she asked again. “Wouldn’t stop me”, I replied with a smile as I stood up. “We’ll arrive on time for that 3rd Day Handshake Event”.
After waving goodbye to the host, we rushed towards our car and as I started the engine, I glanced at my wife and saw the same fiery determination in her eyes.
We will get there on time.
I slumped down as I read my medical results.
“Blood Glucose: 459 mg/DL”, it reads. If it can scream, it would be screaming and laughing at the same time.
“You’re a diabetic boy, it’s the end of you.” A familiar voice whispered into my ear. I don’t need to look behind to know who it was. It was death, I’m pretty sure of it.
“Of course, I’ll take your right leg first, then your left arm, then your eyesight….” Death continued. “You’ll be a dead weight to your wife and kids. Well if you can have kids that is, with that big body of yours”, it added.
A lot of things came rushing to my mind as I continue to read my medical results. “Fatty liver”, “high cholesterol” and the list went on and on.
I was on the verge of breaking down, yet I needed to make an eight-kilometer drive from the hospital back to the office that took an hour. I instinctively turned on the engine and by doing so my car’s stereo came to life.
“Minsan sa'ming paglalakad, kami'y napadpad
Sa kwebang madilim, walang makita
Aking mga kasama, sa dilim natakot na
Ayaw nilang pumasok pa, naghintuan na
Pero ako, natuwa sa'king nakita
Kahit sa dilim ay matapang ako
Kahit na masaktan, 'di katatakutan
Kahit ang kadiliman, 'di uurungan
Dahil ang pangarap ay pinaglalaban“
I remembered: this is the song that was suggested to me by a friend to use when driving in the busy streets of Manila. He told me I wouldn’t even think of road rage and speeding up when listening to their song and so far, he was right.
But this song is speaking to me on a different level, at a far deeper and intimate level.
I took my time to listen to it as my tears fell down, “No, I won’t go down without a fight.” I whispered to myself.
The October Sunday traffic is not to be taken lightly, as the usual fifteen-minute drive became thirty minutes due to the congestion of the cars and trucks alike on the road ahead.
I glanced at my wife and saw her determination in trying to find a faster route.
“Turn left sa Quirino Avenue, then right sa Don Bosco, doon tayo sa Ayala dadaan papunta sa Rockwell para umiwas sa EDSA traffic. Labas natin eh Shaw”, she instructed while giving me a smile of assurance. I nodded and started turning left towards Quirino Avenue.
“What time yung handshake ni Brei?”, she asked me as she glanced at her watch.
“4 PM daw siya mag sa-start”, I answered briefly. “Well, 3 PM na, we still have time”, she replied as she gently tapped my shoulder.
I nodded and smiled.
After the disaster of trying to find a suitable parking space near the Circle Events Place in Quezon City, we hurriedly entered the event hall as I glanced at my watch.
“4 PM”, it read. I smiled.
I scrambled as I opened my app so that the music cards’ codes, bought by my wife, can be entered so that I can be able to participate in the handshake event. I clearly remembered and had a sigh of relief when I realized that the event was delayed due to the large number of presentations in the Seitansai earlier that day.
My wife enjoyed every minute of it as she watched in amusement of me, being a kid again, vulnerable and all. Later she told me that it was her first time to see me act like a child and see glee in anticipation after all these years we’ve been together: nine years as a couple and 1 year being married.
I had three handshake tickets. I was determined to use my first ticket to Rans, followed by Sela, then Brei. Unfortunately, Sela was unavailable that time. I glanced at the girls waiting on the line and saw a familiar face.
It was MNL48 Tin. She was familiar since we hailed from the same hometown, Iloilo.
I walked towards the staff and informed him that I wanted to perform a handshake. The staff told me to wait for a moment since the wota in front of me has several tickets. I nodded and waited in line.
Then a young man approached me and asked me if I am waiting in Tin’s Line. I smiled and was about to reply when I noticed his shirt.
“Ill City” it reads. I smiled. I’m familiar with the owner of that local t-shirt brand he’s wearing so I replied in our own language/dialect.
“Oo Sir, gapila ko para kay Tin.” I replied. (Yes Sir, I am waiting in line for Tin.)
The young man was taken aback but smiled immediately.
“Ay, Ilonggo ka man gali Sir?” He asked . (Oh, you’re an Ilonggo as well Sir?)
“Oo pre, indi lang ko pag i-Sir. Magka-edad lang ta!”, I jokingly told him. (Yes, I am. Don’t call me Sir, we’re almost at the same age.)
He laughed and nodded as he handed out Tin souvenirs. As I looked at them, I remembered a good friend who I once saw post the same exact souvenir on Facebook.
“Salamat gid pre, paki-hi na lang lang galing kay [redacted]. Hambali nag labay si [redacted] sa linya ni Tin.” I told him. (Thank you so much for this. Oh, and please do tell [redacted] “hi” and tell her [redacted] is sending his regards).
His face lit up as he heard a familiar name, I wanted to talk to him more but the staff told me to go in as they will be changing the lineup of girls soon.
I walked up towards Tin and talked to her in our own dialect. I informed her that I was with my wife and how we are rooting for her. After we said our piece, I returned to my wife who was giddy and smiling ear to ear.
“She’s from our hometown, right?”, she asked. I nodded in reply.
I walked towards Rans’ line and the staff immediately ushered me in.
I walked towards Rans and she gently grabbed my hand. “Oh, ba’t isa lang?” She asked after noticing that I only offered my right hand. I raised my left hand and showed her my right.
“Kasama ko si Misis at nagpapasabi na ang ganda mo daw”, I told her. Rans’ eyes grew wider as she waved at my wife. I wished her luck and told her to stay healthy and eat healthy. She jokingly replied, “I’ll try but no promises”.
I walked back to my wife and she immediately asked why Rans waved at her, so I told her what happened and she started to laugh her head off. “You’re so damn honest”, she replied. “Well, I don’t want to lie and I only see them as my younger sisters you know”, I replied to her. “Yes, pero si Brei anak mo, di ba?”, she teased me.
“Natin”, I replied.
“Riiiiigggghhhhtttt”, she was mocking me but I smiled in return.
“Ayan na si Brei, o”, my wife told me as she kept on pushing me to walk towards the line.
“Wait, kinakabahan ako”, I replied.
She looked at me in disbelief and I can’t blame her.
The man, her husband, who used to talk to large crowds and have private conversations with CEOs and directors, is getting intimidated by a four-feet something little kid.
She started laughing as she started to whisper loudly, “Ano, natatakot ka kay Brei?”
I just shook my head in response.
“Excuse po”, a gentle voice interrupted our gag show.
I looked up and saw a gentle gentle young lady smiling at us.
“Kami-oshi nyo po ba si Brei?” The young lady, who I later knew was Ate Crystal, asked us.
“Opo, kami-oshi niyang asawa ko si Brei. Gusto ngang maging kamukha ng anak namin yang si Brei”, my loud wife replied. I just scratched my head and smiled.
“Ah, talaga ba?”, Ate Crystal replied. “Kasi nandito yung mama miya, si Ma’am Dhorie.”
“Ate Dhorie, eto o, kami-oshi si Ombeng, tapos gusto pang maging kamukha ng anak nila”, Ate Crystal said as she introduced us to Tita Dhorie.
I swear to God, if instantaneous combustion is real, I wish it would have happened to me there and then because my wife started becoming cozy with the two young ladies as she recounted the embarrassing story of how I swore I looked like Brei when I was young.
I took that as a signal to muster up my courage and walked towards Brei’s line and to have a handshake with her.
I glanced at my wife and she was already showing them my younger pictures. I cringed and went ahead toward Brei.
“Hi po, bago ka ata”, Brei greeted me as I handed my right hand.
“Ay, isa lang po?” She asked.
“Hi Brei, oo, kasi....” I raised my left hand again and showed her my wedding ring.
“Oh, wow po, congrats!” She replied.
I then pointed to my wife and the three ladies waved at us, Brei smiled.
“Ay wow, ka-close na agad sina Mama”, she said while giggling.
“Oo nga eh“, I replied.
“Oo nga pala. Thank you ha, for saving me”, I told Brei.
“Ha? Bakit po?”
“A month ago, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, fatty liver, high cholesterol with risk of heart attack, and so on“.
I started to tell Brei, “I was ready to give up, but your song First Rabbit told me never to. So thank you.”
“Wow, no problem po, wag po kayong sumuko!”, Brei replied.
“I already lost six kilos in less than a month. I swear, next time mo akong makita, I’ll do better. I’ll be healthier”, I promised to her.
“Sige Kuya, hihintayin ko yan.” She replied as I waved goodbye.
That time, I thanked my wife and told her that this event meant so much to me especially when she was there.
She held my hand and told me, “More events to come I guess?”
She informed me that she was thankful for the girls who helped me recover fast.
If we go by my wife’s words, “I owe them big time for helping you and for helping me as well”.
I have a great wife, and now it seems, I have great little sisters.
WRITER'S NOTE: To all the MNL48 members especially Brei, Jem, Sela, Abby, Yzabel, (to my kami-ayaw Miho 😉) and the others, please continue dreaming and keep on fighting to reach your dreams. Kapit lang, wag bibitiw, aabutin natin yung pangarap niyo nang sabay-sabay. Stay healthy and drink your water. Keep on smiling.