Author: jmanunulat

Writer | Student | Reporter | Marketing Executive |BUM Currently, I am a reporter and the marketing executive of The Voice of Sierra Madre, a regional newspaper in Cagayan Valley, Philippines. I am also a scriptwriter for Teatro Publico, a community theater group in Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines. I write poems, scripts, verses, song lyrics, essays, and anything that can be written when I have the time and those are what you are going to see in this site.

THEATER SCRIPTS ARE PASSWORD PROTECTED

Due to some people using the scripts without even notifying me, I placed a password on all of them. It’s not like I am asking for payments, anyway. The least you could guys do is to actually tell me that you are going to use it.

All future theater scripts would also be password protected.

Advertisements

The Words Between Us

“¿Qué tal?”I smiled, wondering how those two simple words sounded so melodic coming from your lips. They didn’t rhyme and there wasn’t anything poetic with the question yet to me, it sounded like a beginning of a song I’d end up singing even in my sleep. And it did.

Those were the first words you said when we first met. I didn’t understand them then, and like an idiot, I smiled and repeatedly said, “Si!”, which didn’t really answer the question.

“Panandaliang nahawi ang ulap ng pangungulimlim upang masilayan ko ang langit sa ilalim ng iyong mga paa. Iyan, iyan ang kaganapan.” I answered, sounding more like a kid writing his first poem.

You just rolled your eyes and laughed, the melodious sound bouncing off the walls of that little coffee shop we were in. A few curious glances were thrown our way but that didn’t stop you. Nothing ever did as far as I can remember.

You turned to look out of the window as I settled myself on the seat in front of you.

“Ha estado lloviznando toda la tarde…” I heard you say after a while, your eyes trailing the lines the raindrops have made on the glass window near us.

I almost asked how you could look at a raging storm and see it as a mere drizzle. But that’s how you have always seen everything around you; small, miniscule, nondescript.

“Tuvimos una tormenta muy fuerte ayer.” I replied, looking at your hands tightly clasped on top of the table, hoping like hell that I said the words correctly. I wanted to add that it was still storming, that it didn’t stop, but I could remember the words. My Spanish wasn’t really good, lacking actually.

“Natututo na ikaw,” You said in your faulty Tagalog, making me chuckle.

Pouting, you reached for your bag and took out the Filipino-English-Spanish dictionary that you always have with you. I took it away from your hand just as soon.

“Todo vien… Todo va muy bien…”

You look as if you wanted the argue for a few seconds, a look of pain crossing your eyes.

I lied. Nothing was fine. Not the raging storm outside. Not the difference in the words we speak. Not the distance that the bond on your finger have created between us that no dictionary can ever bridge.

“Estoy bien.” I said, hoping that it didn’t sound like another lie for it wasn’t. It was more like a promise, that of wishful thinking.

“Estoy enamorado de ti—” I said as I watch the tears fall from your eyes.

“But it’s okay.” I added, in English this time, in the language that we both speak yet never use. It was poetic really, the fact that we have a common language we could have used all these times but never did. But we both understood why.

It was a game of hide and seek, after all. Us hiding from the world while trying to seek ways to understand each other. In a way we did, and somehow, we ended up understanding too much, much more than the meaning of the words. We ended up falling into the crevices between the letters and the lines.

I took a quick look around the cafe. We were the only one inside now. You did say that you didn’t plan on opening it that day. It was supposed to be just one of the multitude of cafes in Pamplona closed because of the storm, small, nondescript, hidden under blanket of the rain.

It was the only place where we could meet. And at that moment, even the few people who had sought refuge from the rain had left.

It wasn’t the Instituto in Ermita, that was clear. I was no longer your student too. I was just a memory, maybe even a nightmare from your past, a mistake.

I took out a pack of cigarette from my bag and stood up to open the window. The rain was still pouring hard outside.

I lit one up and choked on the first drag followed by a torrent of coughing. I don’t really smoke that much, not anymore anyway.

“Fumar te da cancer.” You said in that tone that you have always used at the Instituto before; authoritative but gentle.

“Kailan pa ako mamamatay kung hindi ko ihahanap-hanap?” I answered with a smile. That too was a lie. I was already dead and smoking doesn’t have anything to do with it.

You see, I have this stupid notion that a person should only have one bad habit at a time. I already have you. No. I had you. That’s the difference.

You just shook your head. You’ve heard me say that line countless times before; outside the Instituto, at the streets of Ermita during our late night walks, in your hotel room, the one overlooking the crowded streets of Manila which you said would always remind you of me.

“Estamos compremetidos. Ya hemos fijado una fecha para la boda.” You said out of the blue. I choked on the cigarette again.

I have heard about the engagement. Why else would I have flown to Pamplona if I didn’t? I didn’t want to believe it.

“Siempre fiel.” That’s what you have asked of me before. And I thought that was your promise too. Always faithful, that’s what you wanted. I didn’t know it was something you could not give.

“Why did you come, Michael?” You asked when I didn’t say a word.

English didn’t suit you, I thought. It was too clinical, too detached, too bland in contrast to the seductive and passionate aura that you exude when you talk in your native tongue or in mine.

But it was appropriate. It fits the whole situation just as much as the pouring rain outside. Cold and merciless.

“I wanted to say goodbye properly. You at least owe me that.” I said, the pain coming from the memory of you leaving without a single word echoing in my voice.

That was a year ago, when you just disappeared, when you asked the Instituto to not give me information about where you are, just to send me a letter a year after, with only the word “Gracias” written. Why you even bothered to write down your telephone number at the envelope was completely lost to me.

So, I called, and as it worked out, found my way to that cafe to meet you. For what and why, I still do not know.

“If you came for an apology, you are not getting one.” You said coldly. All I could do was look at you, then at the rain, then at your blurry reflection on the window.

I shook my head, took one last drag from the cigarette, before walking towards the door.

I wanted to bolt out of that cafe, away from you, away from your memories, away from the three years you have given me.

“No. I just wanted a clearer picture of what conquered me so that I could find ways to break the chains that bounds me to you. I just wasn’t expecting such a vivid picture.” I said before walking out into the cold rain.

Poetic, that’s how I want to see it, how you have conquered my whole being, an echo of what your ancestors did to mine.

I took one look at the signage of your cafe before walking away. And there it was, your chain, your prison.

Recuerdos de Ermita. I didn’t need a dictionary to translate that.

It was after a month more when I took the cab from the hotel to the airport. In those days, I went everywhere that my feet could reach, everywhere except that corner in Pamplona where the cafe stood. I wanted to have a different memory of Spain, one that was inviting, welcoming, a version so much like you when we first met.

In a way, I succeeded, the reason why I was thrown back into oblivion when I saw you standing at the airport, in Manila, smiling.

You pulled out a piece of paper from your pocket as I walk towards you.

“¿Qué tal?” I asked, my voice just above a whisper. It was like a repeat of that day, only without the rain.

“Panandaliang nahawi ang ulap ng pangungulimlim upang masilayan ko ang langit sa ilalim ng iyong mga paa. Iyan, iyan ang kaganapan.” You answered, reading from the piece of paper.

I couldn’t say a word.

I was conquered yet again.

The Excuses That I Make

It’s is exactly as the title, I’m going to be making excuses for not updating this blog. So, since you know that it’s going to be excuses, I’m not going to bother you with it. I am in the middle of writing a series of short stories though and would be uploading them soon. So, there. 🙂

Jayson

DANCING ON MY OWN

The sound of the music is echoing throughout the empty dance hall. It’s been like that for more than an hour now and alone, I tried to match every beat that I hear. Pop, grind, slide, wave, swing, jump, pause, slide; nothing coordinated, just letting my body feel every single rhythm. I haven’t done this for so long that I wonder if I actually look ridiculous.

I can feel the drops of sweat running down my upper body as I move, slowly caressing the skin, like that of a lower taking it ever so slowly. It was both that of torture and of sweet anticipation. I hate that feeling yet I continued to move as if it’s the most important thing to do. I hate that feeling but I didn’t want to lose it too.

“It always looks so raw and beautiful when you’re like this.” I almost missed my footing when I suddenly heard your voice. I stopped in mid-step and tried to regain my balance.

“I never thought I’d ever see you like this again.” You said with a sad smile.

“You shouldn’t have.” I said, walking towards the stereo and turning it off. Suddenly, I feel tired.

“What are you doing here?” I asked you. Instead of answering, you took your shoes and coat off before rummaging on the CD tracks on the desk beside the stereo.

“Dance with me.” You whispered before putting the CD on the stereo. When the first few chords of Broken Strings came out, I just shook my head.

“Please…” There was begging in your voice.

We’ve danced to this song so many times that I can’t even count anymore. This was our warm up song. Every single time, we would play this just to let our body loose. This was our song, the only thing that we really ever had.

Let me hold you
For the last time

I guess we’ve been rehearsing for this day and time. The only thing is, we never really talk about what we should do. We just move and somehow, it clicks, every single time.

You were already moving on your own when I turned to look at you. As always, it was beautiful that it was almost painful to watch. I let out a sigh before stepping towards you. If this would be the last time, then let it be something beautiful. Even pain can be beautiful you know.

“One last time…” I told myself before gently caressing your face with a sad smile. I’ll fall in love with you for one last time.

It still amazes me how synchronized we can be despite not really planning and what would be the next move or next step. You sway and I’ll match it without thinking. You glide and I’ll glide with you. Every pop, every swing, every jump, like that of two bodies with one mind, we dance.

Oh… It tears me up
I tried to hold on but it hurts too much
I tried to forgive but it’s not enough
To make it all okay

Broken strings. Quite fitting. That’s all we ever were. The broken string of a guitar connected only by music and movement. I should have realized that before. You needed me to find your rhythm. I needed you to make each unsteady step firm. We needed each other but only inside the dance floor, that’s all there is to it. Nothing more.

“I used to watch you and wonder how it would feel like to hold you in my arms like this.” I said. You almost missed a step but continued. I did the same.

“When did you stop watching me?” You asked. I almost laughed. Instead of replying, I lifted you up in the air. After all these years, I can still do that effortlessly. You used to say that when I do that, you always feel like you can do anything as long as you have me. I’ve wanted that for you too.

But the two of us have always been a couple of broken toys at the eye of the storm. And the point is, we both didn’t even realize it until we were being thrown all over the place, away from each other.

When I put you down, you didn’t make a move and just stared at me. I stopped as well.

“When did you stop looking at me?” You asked. I let out a sigh.

“When you stopped noticing…” I said. And as if on cue, I heard footsteps coming towards us.

“I knew you two would be here!” I didn’t even turn to see who it was. The storm has come to take you away for good.

“You two aren’t cheating on me, are you?” I guess that was supposed to be a joke. It wasn’t funny.

“We just have to say goodbye the way we know it.” I said with a smile before walking towards the stereo. Just in time too.

Let me hold you, for the last time
It’s the last chance we’ll feel again…

The last notes, the last few beats, and then it was over. Like everything else between us.

“Hey! We’ll expect you tomorrow!” There it was again, the voice of the storm.

“You’re not going to miss our wedding and come up with a lame excuse are you?” I laughed. I guess saying that I can’t watch you any longer as you walk away from me would be lame.

“Of course…” I said. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

I heard your footsteps walking out of the studio before the deafening silence. It was over.

I took the CD out of the stereo and dropped it on the nearest trash bin. I’ll never dance to that song again.

MIDNIGHT SKIES

“If I would write a love story about us, it would be short, bittersweet, and of both of us finding someone else.”

I was a little taken aback when I heard you say those words. It was meant to be a joke when I suggested that you be my partner if you are writing my love story. I didn’t even think that you would actually consider it just to shut the idea down completely afterwards and bluntly at that.

There was no sugarcoating or pretense in your choice of words. That was so like you: blunt and brutally honest. It almost made me wish that I didn’t say anything at all.

This isn’t exactly the first time that you tried writing my love story. You did try to partner me up with a common friend of ours before, teasing me with it actually. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea but there was no stopping you anyway so I let you go ahead with it. I guess it didn’t work out since you stopped talking about it.

“You’re both too reserved for the story to work. You need someone to force you out of your comfort zone.” That’s what you said and I couldn’t agree more.

That’s when it actually struck me that if there was someone who can take me out of my comfort zone, it would be you. Blurting that out didn’t seem like such a great idea though since you shut it down just like that.

“I wouldn’t have the patience to wait for you to change your mind and fight for me.”

Short. Sharp. Direct to the point. And it was also true. I guess that’s the reason why I wasn’t quite surprised when I felt a sharp stab on the chest after hearing that.

In all honesty, I didn’t want to think about it yet a part of me wanted to prove you wrong for some reason. The idea that you wouldn’t even consider a make-believe love affair between the two of us was nagging me for some reason and wasn’t sitting well with my pride.

For days, those words keep popping in and out of my mind. Looking at it logically, I can actually see how you came up with that conclusion.

It takes a while for me to really warm up and open up to people. I don’t easily trust anyone. There are only a handful of people who can come as close to me as you did because of the walls I’ve built around myself.

I’m not even quite sure how you tore down those walls in the first place. It was like I woke up and you were just there, insulting the hell out of me.

Being with you is quite a roller coaster ride if you look at it. One minute, you’re making me feel like the worst person alive, then a minute after you’d be making me feel like I can conquer the world. You can easily talk me out of a depression and sent me right back in if you wanted to.

You see right through me and it’s scary at times since you tell me things about myself that I wouldn’t even dare think about. But I think that’s exactly what had me inching closer and closer to you. You saw both good and bad in me and stayed. You never let me hear the end of it, of course, but you stayed.

Then there are those late night conversations that seem to last until morning. We can talk about anything and everything under the sun. We often disagreed but that’s what made it livelier. Not one of us would ever back down. We’d stick to our guns and stay with it until we change the topic, not yielding until the very end.

I can be who I am with you and it would be okay. It was as simple as that.

And maybe that’s the reason why it bothered me so much, you saying that we wouldn’t work if ever, not even in your made-up stories. It was like you saying that you know me well enough not to fall in love with me and that hurts. I want someone like you to fall in love with me, someone who can see through me and still love me no matter what.

I still had that thought in my mind when we met a few days after.

“So, you really won’t fall in love with me?” I asked. I wasn’t sure what exactly I was hoping to hear when I asked that but I just had a feeling that I should.

You looked like you were giving it a thought before you answered.

“It’s not impossible but I’m not that stupid to fall for someone who can’t love me back,” Was your answer. Somehow, those words made me feel a little better.

“Why are you asking anyway?”

“Just curious,” I said. “So I guess I just have to fall in love with you first then and you’d be able to write our love story.”

“That’s just plain weird and scary coming from you and a little stupid too.” You said with a laugh.

“Why so?”

“Falling for me doesn’t necessarily mean that I’d fall for you too.” That was painful to hear but you had a point.

“Besides, you’d never fall for me. I’m not exactly lovable.” You added.

My mind went haywire of things to say to prove that wrong. You are painfully blunt but that’s just because you care enough for the person that you’d rather he or she takes things as it is. You are tactless and would always talk your mind freely when given the chance but that’s just you making it real. You never give in to what the society expects from you unless it suits your purpose. You make your own rules and even with your stubbornness, people are still drawn to you, because sharp-tongued as you are, you know how to take care of the people that matters to you.

I could have listed a million things that would make you see just how easy it is to love you. And that’s when it struck me.

“I’m in love with you.” I said softly, more like a confirmation for myself than telling you.

I heard you choke on your beer. You were still coughing when I looked you in the eyes.

“Please tell me I didn’t hear you say that…” You said under your breath, a look of fear in your eyes.

That was the most painful thing I have ever seen; seeing you scared of me loving you.

I wanted to take it back knowing that if I did, you would not have that scared and pained look in your eyes. I wanted to say that I was kidding but I know that you would see right through it.

“You don’t get to do this to me. Not you of all people.” You said when I didn’t say anything. And before I knew it, you were out of the bar and into the streets. I immediately followed you but you wouldn’t even look at me.

“Is it really that bad for me to love you?” I shouted at you when I couldn’t take the pain anymore. There I was, finally admitting that I was in love with you and you’re first impulse is to run away.

You turned around with tears in your eyes and that almost broke me.

“Yes!”

The most painful part of hearing that was knowing that you believed it with all your heart. You loved me too, I was sure of it, yet that seems to be exactly the reason why you are running away.

“Could you please stop running away and tell me just exactly why it’s such a bad thing?” I asked you and that just made you sob even harder.

You walked back to me and the pain in your eyes was just too unbearable to look at.

“Because you falling in love with me would break you. Because you falling in love with me would go against everything that you believe in and that would kill you. And I know that when push comes to shove, you wouldn’t have the courage to fight for me and I love you way too much that if that happens, it would break me.”

I couldn’t say anything after hearing that. You were right, of course. You know me way too well.

“I have enough demons on my own, Nate. Please don’t make me fight your demons too.” You said with the saddest smile I’ve ever seen.

“I’d change. I’d do—“

You placed your finger on my lips to stop me.

“You wouldn’t. Not for me.”

I was surprised when you gave me a soft kiss on the lips before hugging me ever so tightly. I wished that moment lasted a little longer. I wish I have had the courage to tell you right there and then that I would prove you wrong, that I can make it work. But I just couldn’t lie to you.

“I guess I was right. Our love story would be short and bittersweet.” You said with a smile before finally letting go and walking away.

“We’re both cowards, Nate, you and I. And we’ve been running round in circles far too long to be anything else but that.”

And just like that, you disappeared from my life. My world had never been so quiet.

For days after, I struggled with my own demons and tried to drown every feeling I have for you with all the alcohol I can get my hands on to. I’ve wasted days and nights trying to convince myself that you were right, that we wouldn’t have worked anyway. Weeks turned to months until it finally turned into a year, but still, one thing remained, I still wanted to love and be loved by you.

I tried looking for you, asking our old friends and acquaintances if they knew where you are. I even went as far as asking your parents but they wouldn’t tell me anything.

They said that I’d just break you again and that there was no way in hell that they would let me. The hardest part of hearing that was knowing that they were probably right.

A few more months after that, I saw you at a coffee shop with someone else. You looked so happy and it was obvious that you were going out with the person you were with. You two didn’t even care that the world was watching you. You looked so secured with what you two have that the rest of the world didn’t seem to matter.

Only then did I finally accept to myself that you were exactly where you should be; happy and unafraid, something that you will never be with me.

I walked away, knowing that it was time for me to write my own end of the story, finally admitting that you wouldn’t be writing it with me.