June 12, 1898, General Emilio Aguinaldo waved the Philippine flag from the balcony of his ancestral house in Kawit, Cavite, declaring independence from the oppression of the Spaniards. This marked the end to the Spaniard conquistadors’ 333 years reign over the archipelago.
However, this independence would be short-lived as Philippines will once again fall under foreign rule, first under USA, and subsequently, Japan. True to his promise, General Douglas McArthur fulfilled his promise of “I shall return” to the ravaged archipelago and wrested control from the Japanese, marking the return of the Americans. After ensuring the Philippines’ capability to govern its own, the Americans fully granted independence to our nation.
Despite being subjugated twice, June 12, 1898 remained as Philippines’ recognized date of independence. But enough of history lessons. Now let’s talk about a different history. Yes, the history of us. Oh heck, I forgot, there was never an us so this just about you. I am writing a history of you based on the annals of my mind and of my heart. I hope you won’t get bored with this minutiae of every single thing that I felt, every tear, every pain, every smile and every laughter, since our paths crossed in that intersection of life.
Alone in my small corner of the world, it feels like aeons since that fateful day I laid my eyes on you. You were just sitting there, talking with your friends while I am with mine. But with a stroke of genius, our eyes met, and locked for a couple of seconds, long enough for Cupid to shoot his vapid arrows to this unsuspecting victim.
It was your ethereal smile, a yellow sun that brightened my bleak day, that captured my lonely heart. My heart can barely keep itself from skipping beats as I gaze into your enigmatic brown eyes. I knew then that the intimacy of those split seconds will forever be emblazoned on my mind and in my heart. There I was, starstruck and overwhelmed with your captivating beauty. Tongue-tied I was but I mustered every ounce of courage I could to approach you. I was too unlearned in this sinister subject they call “love”.
Hesitantly, I tried to approach you but people started pouring in from all corners. I got mixed in with the flow and lost sight of you. I battled it out with the crowd as I desperately tried to swim against the current that is sweeping me away from you. At last I see you. But alas, you were already walking away with your friends. My spirit sank and I kicked myself for the slowness of my response. Lost chances are lost chances. I just walked away as my spirits sank further. Will I ever see you again?
It was raining incessantly that afternoon I got soaked on my way to meet a friend. Won’t this rain stop? I thought as I tried to find a free sit in the overcrowded lounge. Luckily, I found one. So rare were the sits that I did not bother asking the one in front of me if it was free. Anyway, she was too enamored with what she was reading.
I was drying my hair when she gave the first instance of irritation. I heard a”hmm” but I was nonchalant to it as I didn’t realize that it was for me. Then a louder “hmm” finally caught my attention but I froze when I looked into the direction of the sound. Lo and behold, it was you! I had to do a double take because I thought that it must be some sort of a trick of sight. But it was really you, the same beautiful lady I saw that afternoon. How odd the tides of fate changes at the snap of wrist!
“Excuse me, but you are staring rudely at me,” you broke the silence.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize,” I responded. I blushed because I was too ashamed myself.
“It’s okay. But please keep your hair from dampening my book.” Then you kept on again with your book.
“I’m sorry again,” I murmured.
I was conflicted. Should I introduce myself? I kept asking myself as I tried to memorize every contour of your face fully concentrated on the book. But I was dying to know you better so hesitantly, I extended my hand, and introduced myself. You warily shook my hand, smiled, then said “I’m Violet.” I felt the warmth of your hand as I returned your unguarded smile.
After the awkward start, we loosened up as the rain fell like cats and dogs outside. I was surprised at the ease by which you talked to me, as though we’ve always known each other for a long time. Insouciant of the time, we’ve touched base on a lot of topics and I was even more surprised with the way you opened up to me.
Enamored by you, I patiently listened as you tirelessly amused me with your stories that I forgot about my friend. But I was in too much a euphoria having with me the most beautiful lady I set my sights on other than my mother. Your voice was a melody singing softly to me heart. We’ve kept on like this for hours that barely noticed the clock striking 10 PM.
“I have to go,” you said.
“Me too. Where do you live?” I asked.
“Up there in Masonville.”
“That’s my way, too. So are you going to take the train?”
“Yes, I will.”
“So do you mind if we go together?”
“No, I don’t mind.”
On the train ride home, exasperation took over you and you fell asleep. Unconsciously, you leaned on my shoulders and it sent shivers down my spine as I become cognizant of your proximity to me. A whiff of your perfume aroused further my awareness of you. I woke you up when it came time for us to alight. You were a bit groggy but still beautiful.
“This I guess is where we part?” I said.
“Don’t be sad. I’m sure we’ll meet again,” you gave me that same warm smile that have melted the ice in my heart.
“Can I call you?”
“Of course. Give me your phone. That’s my number.” And again you gave me that beatific smile as we walked away.
Man, was I on cloud nine that day! Finally fate is sweeping me towards you and I couldn’t contain my emotions any more. I was riding an emotional high I am waving the blue flag of love all over. That teen-ish feeling is taking over me again, and it all absurdly feels right.
Whenever I look back to that rainy afternoon, I can’t help but paint a smile on my harried face. Our first conversation is eternally embedded in my mind. But who’d have thought that this conversation would be a prelude to more long afternoon talks.
Though I always looked forward to our afternoon interludes, I always felt giddy whenever I approach you in the very same table in the same lounge we’ve had our first conversation. You always greeted me with that captivating smile. Then everything proceeds as usual, you amusing me with your endless stories and I intently listening. During these times, my world revolves around you. Yes, foolishly enough I made you my world, even though it was just for a couple of hours of bliss that always left me longing for more.
It was all smooth sailing until the red flag started waving. I have already fallen too deeply that I was at the point of asking if you could permit me to court you. For weeks, I have been building the courage to do so. But then you started talking about past relationships and how you loathe entering romantic relationships with someone younger than you no matter how keen they are to win your attention. My courage stymied and I just held on to the things I wanted to say.
Over the months, however, our bond got stronger. Nonetheless, I respected your decision fully I never botherrd making you change your mind. I felt it was foolhardy to even try because I respect our friendship too much. Besides, I am afraid that doing so might jeopardize our friendship. Though my friends kept prodding me, I just shrugged, you are far too important to me I never bothered with my own happiness. But now I am stuck with the what if, What if I tried to make you change your mind.
And so life happened. We both graduated and became world conquerors in our respective fields. We became engrossed with our own jobs. We started hanging out with other people and those long afternoon conversations are long forgotten. However, whenever we can, we met and talked over a cup of coffee.
You are still as beautiful as the first time I met you. Your unguarded smile never failed to make me catch my breath. And your voice, it is still that same enchanting voice that keeps me wanting to listen for more. Yes, life happened and it seems that we were able to weather the storm.
But foolish me for even engaging such thought. There are storms too strong that we could never repel it. It is catastrophic as it is illogical. I still remember that fateful, or rather unfortunate day. February 14. I still remember that you were the first one to greet me a Happy Valentines, and would be the only one for the longest period of time.
Taking cue from this, I invited you for dinner which you agreed to. It was a workday but I can’t wait for it to end. I was giddy with excitement at a chance of catching up with you because it’s been months since we’ve last met. I even bought a box of chocolates as a friendly gift, sans any romantic notions. Friends can celebrate Valentines day after all.
The clock struck 9 PM and there I see you walking towards me. I smiled and thought how beautiful you are albeit being stressed out. Nonplussed, you returned my smile and together we walked towards the coffee shop. It was a normal evening, the same as usual, us talking about a myriad of topics, and laughing nonchalantly.
Then it came time for us to part, and I handed you the chocolates. You gallantly accepted it as you pointed out how your friend gave you flowers and I humored that at least these chocolates you can consume. You just returned my humor with an idyllic mirth. Upon reaching home, I messaged you to make sure that you reached your destination safe. I also thanked you for making the day special but you never responded. And you won’t, for a long time.
The next day, I messaged you again but you didn’t respond. But I wrote this one off. But again you didn’t respond to any of my messages in the following days. I was getting anxious because this kind of behavior from you is a bit unusual. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and I am still waiting for your elusive reply. I badly wanted to go to your office but I didn’t want to seem desperate even though deep down inside I am dying a slow torturous death.
How can I even begin to describe how my life starting crumbling that day I started realizing that you are no longer coming back. I keep running my mind on our last conversation to look for the signs, the signs of crack, the signs of where I went wrong. But I can’t find any. I courageously asked you what went wrong but still you gave me no answers. I wanted answers.
How my heart crashed with the burgeoning reality that what we once had finally ended. For years, I’d carry the weight on my heart as my spirit shrank further whenever every bittersweet memory we had started filling my mind. I’d get lonely and start tearing up but still I kept that faith that someday, somehow we would meet again. I still wish that we can just meet again and just laugh these all out and restart all over again.
But I am just fooling myself. And tonight, as I am downing one bottle of beer after another, I am waving the white flag. I once was filled with the what ifs but now I see that it is just an exercise in futility that would only leave me pained. Yes, I am finally giving up my fight because I no longer see the rationale on waging this war any further. I no longer see the light at the end of the tunnel. This pitiful state must stop.
So June 12, Philippine Independence day. Many Filipinos bravely fought the oppressors to attain what we are now partaking. It is just timely to declare my independence from you and the memories that keep shackling me to times when my world just revolved around you. I am finally focusing on myself. With every drop of beer that quenches my thirst, I am letting go of every single memory we had in order for me move on. Closure? Until now you refuse, I will now do the closure on my own, relying on my strength to do so.
I want to make it clear. I’ve got no ill-feelings for you. Life screwed us up but I’ve no regrets falling in love with you. My cowardice just got the best of me when I became hesitant in taking that leap of faith. I’ve no one to blame but me, for falling in love and then failing to convey it to you.
Right now, I wish you nothing but the best in life. Although we have drifted apart, I wish you nothing but success in every facet of life. Go for your dreams, live them, feel them, breath them. I wish you a full and happy life.
As for me, there’s no other way but forward. I am finally liberating myself from those oppressive emotions that manacled me for years. I am getting drunk and I am dizzy but I know the sense of all these won’t get lost in translation. Down to my 6th bottle, and I am still writing this for us. Heck I forgot, there was never an us. How foolish of me. No, I am writing this as tonic to the toxic wave of emotions I once had.
So cheers and let the white flag wave! Happy Independence day!