All these feelings I’ve shared
I didn’t hear the bus conductor shouted “LRT Buendia” because the lyrics of the song “So Faraway” by Staind plays all over my head. Heard it while I was buying a ticket in the terminal and it never left my mind. I shouted to the bus driver to stop the bus. I hurriedly ran towards the exit of the bus and jumped towards the gutter of the road.
I walked a few meters and stumbled upon a cigarette vendor. I thought I needed to smoke so I bought two sticks of Marlboro lights. I thought for awhile if I’d take the LRT or an FX taxi. I recalled that it was Friday and so as expected a lot of people would go to the
I arived at the
“If I can reach the stars, pull one down for you
Shine it on my heart, so you could see the truth
That this love I have inside is everything it seems..”
I figured it’s “Change the World” of Eric Clapton. I thought it might be the favorite love song of the groom and the bride. Nice and perfect for a wedding I said to myself. I wondered how much the groom really loved the woman he’s going to marry. For a moment I imagined myself on the altar with my bride and the choir singing the same song. It would absolutely be a bliss.
I found myself kneeling with my hands locked up with each other and mesmerized by the voices of the choir members. For a few minutes I was just listening to them, forgetful of the prayers I am silently offering. The spellbinding moment was interrupted when a kid noticed that my handkerchief was on the floor. He gave it to me and I gave thanks. I then went on to finish my prayers and left the church.
I headed to the University. It was almost so as expected most of the faculty and students are heading home. I went to the security office and asked if Professor Kho is still in the campus. Good thing he is still there. I told the security officer my name and left my ID.
I started to feel nostalgic as I started to walk around the campus. There are some structural changes. There are more buildings than before, which could be the reason why the trees which give shade and a calm temperature within the campus are gone.
The canteen was still there but under a new catering service and with some stalls of known food establishments. The library was still there it seemed like the old books have been replaced by new editions. I’ve noticed that there’s a new librarian, who seems to be stricter than the one during my time. The gym was bigger and the basketball courts became wider and the audience seats were expanded. The garden where I always sit on the benches around waiting for the sunset was still there. I continued walking and saw the bench were I always sit and rest. I saw the note I wrote there a few days before graduation which says “The Engineer’s throne” with a sign of my initials and the date I wrote it. I smiled when I saw it. Oh the feeling of nostalgia was overflowing.
I heard a group of students laughing hard and seated on one of the benches. One of them has a guitar and started playing.
“Minsan sa may Kalayaan tayo’y nagkatagpuan
May mga sariling gimik at kanya-kanyang hangad sa buhay
Sa ilalim ng iisang bubong mga sikretong ibinubulong
Kahit na anong mangyari Kahit na saan ka man patungo..”
After hearing the song, I thought I was really getting old. That song from the Eraserheads was just starting to climb the charts when I first heard it way back in the 90’s and heard it again when I went at their FINAL SET CONCERT a few months ago. I never expected that these teenagers would appreciate the song and the message it imparts. And so I thought, the Eraserheads truly is one legendary OPM artist which continuously inspires people with their songs even if they’re already disbanded.
I arrived at the Engineering building where Professor Kho was teaching. While walking at the corridor I saw Mang Manny. I can’t believe that he’s still there polishing the floors and keeping clean the rooms. I smiled at him and he smiled back. I talked to him for awhile, asked him what have happened in the school for the past years. He invited me to sit down for awhile and told me what happened in the campus. He told me that there’s a slight change in the administration of the school and there was some reorganization that took place. A lot of faculty staff, dean and other employees were replaced. He said that he was lucky he was retained. He decided to cutoff the chat as he was a little bit worried someone might see him not working. I told him that I was glad to see him and that I’ll try to come back again.
I headed to Professor Kho’s classroom. It’s 10 minutes before 6PM, the time where Professor Kho usually dismisses his class during our time. I waited at the door for him. After 10 minutes the class was dismissed. When all the students left the room I called Professor Kho as he erases his writings on the board.
He didn’t recognize me at first when I called him. He approached me while starting to wear his glasses and said, “Oh, it’s you! My favorite student!” He asked if I was outside for a long time waiting for him. I answered him back and said I was there a few minutes before 6PM. He then said sorry he has to dismiss the class on the dot.
He then looked at me and said I was more handsome and goodlooking than my college days. I smiled at him and joked that one become more handsome and good looking when he passes the Engineering board exams and gets a license. We laughed hard.
He told me he’s just going back to the faculty room and leave his things. He then invited me for dinner. I said okay and told him I have an hour or two for that.
We went to a nearby bar and restaurant. Flashbacks from the past entered my mind as we approached the bar. The path we are into is towards the place where I usually hangout after the major exams. Professor Kho never changed, he continues to cope up with his students. He knows what the young enjoys and so he embraces it and tries to live with it. That’s why although his subject is very difficult his students love him.
When we arrived at the main entrance the band is already playing. I heard a note of the song and started to think of the title.
“And all the roads we have to walk are winding
And all the lights that lead us there are blinding
There are many things that I’d like to say to you but I don’t know how
because maybe you’re gonna be the one that saves me..”
I sang the song silently on my head and I figured it was “Wonderwall” from Oasis. I smiled. I remembered that day when I met an amazing girl at the very same bar. It was during those times when I needed someone to talk to. During that night I met her she was alone and I noticed she needs some company. I offered her a drink and the conversation started. All throughout the night I was asking her real name but she is just one hard headed woman. She told me to call her Kat. She always changes the topic when I ask her what her real name is. We slept together in a motel and the following morning, I found a note which says, “My real name’s
At that moment I know Prof. Kho is talking but I wasn’t anymore aware what he is saying. Until he signaled that the waiter is right in front of us to take our orders.
We ordered food and drinks. As usual I ordered steak and Prof. Kho ordered chicken. We drank some bottles of beer and shared some talk. Prof. Kho being my mentor taught me a lot of things way back in college. From the first day of school when I came late and just gave me a wink after telling me that ‘early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy wealthy and wise’, he became my inspiration. He inspired me to work hard for whatever endeavour I am into. He taught me that no matter how smart, humble and nice I am to other people, there’d come a time that I’d realized that being good isn’t enough for some people, sometimes they will use you for their own advantage.
Prof. Kho never failed to move me with his words. He told me what really happened in the campus. He told me that the campus was bought by some rich man from the old management at the time it was incurring huge losses. He is as lucky as everyone to have been retained. He told me that he can’t take the policies of the new management, but he doesn’t have a choice. He’s too old and in a few years time he’ll be retiring. He just so love the school so much that he decided to retire there.
Prof. Kho told me that, in this life sometimes when you love so much something, you just can’t leave it behind. You’ll sacrifice everything even your own principles just to preserve your possession of it. That’s the power of love. As cliché as it may sound he said that ‘Love really conquers all.’
Prof. Kho continued talking as if a priest giving a homily or a father talking to his son. He said while looking at me, “You know, you’re still young and you might not understand me but I have experienced a lot in this world that no other person would have ever imagined I have experienced. You’re lucky my son, that you have finished your education and even got a degree. No professor would be happier than seeing his student successful. It’s a reward for us professors. This school has been witness to every student’s struggles and achievements and I want to end my teaching career here. This is how I much love this institution.
It was when we finished dinner. I told him that I am more than happy to see him. I told him that I’d be glad to visit him again in the campus or at his home. He hugged me and said he’s proud of me. I thanked him and felt more proud of him for the great love he gave to his students, to teaching and to the institution.\
It was 830PM when the jeepney I was riding started to traverse the road to
“Pana-panahon ng pagkakataon maibabalik ba ang kahapon..
Natatandaan mo pa ba
Nang tayong dalawa ay unang nagkita?
Panahon ng kamusmusan..”
I sighed and smiled. I tried to hide the smile when someone gave me a raised eyebrow, who might be thinking I am crazy. “Kanlungan” by Noel Cabangon reminds me of my childhood at the province. It also reminded me of the shelter that the dorm gave me for 5 years. It truly served as my sanctuary for all the years I am struggling to be an engineer.
As the jeepney comes to a close to the dorm I noticed that the streets are now filled with tall light posts. But the canals seemed to be a little full of garbage than before. And I wondered where the vendors have gone after they’ve been ordered to stay out of the sidewalk.
After seeing the Mini-stop convenience store I know I’m almost there. I jumped off the jeepney to stop by Mini-stop and bought some cigars. I walked my way to my old dorm and when I arrived, I saw a young woman in the receiving area. I told him my name and that I was a dormer there once. I asked her where is Mrs. Lopez. She asked me if I haven’t heard the news. I asked her what news is she talking about. She told me that Mrs. Lopez had a heart attack and her remains lie in a chapel a few blocks from there. I was shocked. All the while I thought Mrs. Lopez was healthy and did not have any ailment.
I asked the woman if she could give me a glass of water. When she came back I asked if I could go upstairs and see my old room. She handed me the keys and I was lucky enough that no one was occupying the room. I opened the door. I felt the memories coming back from the first time my feet landed there. I remembered Kiko. The friend I am not sure I had. Up to now I never was sure if I was hallucinating that time or it was just a dream. I went to the balcony. I remembered the moments when Kiko was playing the guitar and singing..
I then wondered where’s Francis now. I remembered those times when Francis was just learning to play the guitar. Francis was a frustrated rocker, I hardly see him read or study his lessons. He just played all day long. I was happy that he became a member of the band and played in some frat parties including my frat. Well, when his band disbanded and her parents was fed off of him he left the dorm. The last news I heard was Francis had a family now in the south and doing some extras in some local bars.
I went down and started to go to the chapel to pay respect to Mrs. Lopez. While walking I saw a group of men jamming on a bench with a table filled with bottles of beers. I heard they are singing a
song which is just right and fit to the occasion
“Magbukas ka pa ng tuna
At Kukulangin ang isa
Maglabas ka pa ng baso
At tatagayan ko kayo..”
Of course everyone knows the song, it’s “Inuman na” from Parokya ni Edgar. Oh I remember and miss those days when I cut classes and just hang out in one of my buddies’ place, drink beer and jam to our favorite songs.
Finally, I arrived at the memorial chapel. I saw some familiar faces, which seemed to be schoolmates before. There are some students who are current dormers. Some faculty of the campus, relatives and friends of Mrs. Lopez. One of the children of Mrs. Lopez saw me. She told me she remembered me and asked me what’s my name again. I told him my name and she told me hers. Her name’s Francine. She told me she appreciates that I took time to pay respect for her mother. She offered me some drinks and a sandwich. I said thanks and told her I just had dinner.
I approached the coffin. There are three pictures displayed, two girls and a boy. The pictures had a ribbon on top with a note "Memories of Good and Loving Children". I looked at the picture of the guy. The guy has long hair, with a slim body and what’s noticeable is he has a guitar on his back. He looks familiar, I said to myself.
I told Francine that I never thought that they had a brother since I never saw him during my stay at the dorm. She sighed and told me in her soft voice and sad tone that he’s dead already. She told me that their mother kept the pain for so long and continued living as if her brother was still alive and just in the province. She told me that Mrs. Lopez decided not to tell everyone in the dorm about their brother’s death even the fact that she has a son. She told me that since their brother is the only guy and the youngest, Mrs. Lopez really put so much attention on him. So much love that whatever her brother requests Mrs. Lopez instantly gives without hesitation. Much attention has even been given when their father died, she said.
I was dumb for a moment. I felt something I’d only felt once in my life. And it was five years ago. I tried to compose myself and tried not to stutter when I asked her the name of their brother. She answered me back and said, it's Kiko.
I know Francine is still talking and saying a lot of things about Kiko, but all her words don't register anymore in my brain. I found myself walking towards the exit of the chapel and left. I woke up the following morning, sweating and thinking what had just happened the other night. I was about to go to the shower, when my phone rang. It was Debbie, my fiancee.
______________________________________________________________________*This story is intended as a sequel to "Music and Lyrics". If you haven't read it click HERE.