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Showing posts from April, 2008

Twenty and one

“You can now go to jail,” my friend Kino tells me as I hang my lab gown in the locker. “And suffer the complete sentence,” I quip, smirking. We burst out laughing, partly in recognition that we’re no longer bratty children or irresponsible teens—we’re adults about to venture into this dark world. I leave the lab and go to help out finish some things for a party that my class is hosting. It’s getting dark, and I have things to do. My right pocket is vibrating. I grab my phone, a cheap Nokia model that thieves wouldn’t find profitable, and realize that it’s packed with unread messages, many from friends I haven’t seen in weeks, even months. I read the messages, one by one, slowly but surely—warm greetings of Happy Birthday, Lance!, some with edifying Bible verses, still others with wishes for a good life and a more intimate walk with the Lord. It feels cozy inside me. *** I head for home as fast as I can as soon as my brother texts me. “Where are you? We’re waiting for you.” It’s on

The small, yellow bike

I started learning in the summer of 2002, just when I was about to become a high school sophomore. Driving across lawns at my grandmother's backyard, I bumped into trees, rocks, and pits that left my limbs aching. The morning after, I would see dark spots all over my body that felt painful whenever I touched them. The lessons were excruciating. My younger brother Sean, who, for days that followed, would be my personal mentor, had to bear with my apparent unresponsiveness. "This is how you balance..." he'd tell me. He'd demonstrate the proper way of handling the equipment, the proper stance, and in a way, the proper look, because his face always looked so serious when talking. And I would obey, knowing I had no other choice. Sean is 3 years younger than I am, but learned his lesson years and years before I even began mine. Such is the paradox of life. I came to realize that the balancing part is the hardest; it took me three days to go on for 3 meters without fal

List: rain, mice, Cebu, and the rice crisis

1. After the hot, dry spell, it finally rained yesterday. How cool is that? 2. I donned my lab gown, put on my latex gloves, and entered the land of no return, also known as the Mouse Room. For the first five minutes, the mice inside looked scary. I thought they were looking at me from inside their cages. The smell was assaulting—a combination of poo and pee and rotten mouse pellets—the kind that would stick on your body if you didn’t take a bath after. But miracles do happen. When I saw them jumping in their cages, my heart just melted, for no reason at all. I had, as Paula Abdul would always put it, a connection between them. The fear and the smell vanished like vapor. Oh, didn’t I tell you that I’m going to have to feed them once every week, for the next 12 months or so? That leaves me no choice but to love them. 3. My friends in the Youth Fellowship in Higher Rock left for Cebu early this morning for the Communion of Christian Ministries (CCM) Youth Convention. The theme is Li

This is American Idol

It’s six o’clock. Everyone in the house leaves all chores unfinished. The living room is packed. All eyes are set on the tv screen. One each face is an invisible warning, “Do not disturb.” “This is American Idol,” Ryan Seacrest says, and my friends sigh in anticipation. Then comes the familiar rhythm, together with shades of blue and white dancing about, like comets following the path where they’ve been to before. This culminates in the American Idol logo—something we see spoofed and imitated by org t-shirts in campus. Yes, that’s how popular this show is, not just in this country, but, well, even in Bhutan. The real show begins. Beside me is my brother who’s rooting for David Archuleta, the little boy who licks his lips when he sings. Kuya John, not really a rock fan, wants Michael Johns to win. Michael, living in the house next block, doesn’t seem to wonder how Jason Castro shampoos his hair but cheers for him anyway. Kuya Imay is a fan of David Cook, predictable at his bei

How I went about my first time in La Salle

It was my first time in La Salle yesterday. The greenery—and I’m not talking about the trees—was overwhelming. In one of the buildings, the photos of the alumni/ae with funny hairstyles flanked the walls. In a way, the feeling of walking in a corridor filled with smiling people in black-and-white photos creeped me out—anytime, they could jump out of the frame and kick me in the butt. I was loitering in the lobby when Monchi said, “Lance, nakita mo na si Lucio Tan?” “May picture siya dito?” Then Monchi took me to the exact spot where Lucio Tan, the Philippines’ richest man, was smiling, ready to claim fame and fortune and the Philippine Airlines years after he would graduate. If not for the name below the portrait, I wouldn’t have recognized him. Age does something to people.

Enjoying my late childhood

MBB Sem-ender Children's Party , April 2008. And that's me playing with Titus: Philippines versus China in the Nanay-Tatay-gusto-ko-tinapay championship match (photo by Wegs).

Uprepared

I've just finished answering some NMAT reviewers, and I now realize I do not yet know a lot of things, even basic multiplication. It's funny how the world operates: the more we know, the more we do not know. It's a universal paradox we have to live with, because a single discovery--albeit small--branches out to new nuggets of knowledge. I don't understand why we have to learn and re-learn organic chemistry, mechanical physics, and all the structures we've memorized in biology. But the lesson is clear: I am not prepared--I do not feel prepared--to take the NMAT tomorrow. But, I realize, that it is precisely during our moments of helplessness when we are nearest God. I trust that tomorrow, every stroke of my pen will be guided by Him who promised never to leave me nor forsake me.

The Lord shall choose for me

Open my grade school yearbook and look for the little boy with the huge smile. That’s me. Now read what’s written below the black-and-white portrait, and you’ll find a line encapsulating my utter cluelessness about what I’d be in the future. Unlike my classmates who wanted to be priests, businessmen, teachers, astronauts, and pilots, I wanted to be a scientist, a doctor, and a lawyer. Believe me, I listed all three. That made me the most ambitious boy in the batch—but whenever I think of it, it’s better to dream big than not dream at all. I’m currently in college, and in a year, I’ll be marching to get my diploma. You can say I’ve reached a fork in the road, the spot where I have to choose where I’d go, because if I don’t, I’d go nowhere. It’s overwhelming. Choosing one career path over the others means I can never pursue the others—at least, not in the near future. But who am I to tell, right? After all, if I’d go further, maybe the roads will converge, in one way or the other. But