Friday, April 06, 2007

Pagbibilang ng dahon

On the left is a clipping of a newspaper published in Negros Occidental in 2003. The news item was about a gathering of colleagues from around the world. On the left-most is Arthur Jones, primo Ilonggo love doctor and ping pong grand prix champion. Next to him is Arturo from Mexico, followed by Valery from Belgium, JP from the US, and Laetitia from France. On the other end is the fine Louise Frasier from Australia standing next to Ateng who is standing next to Sven from Germany. In the middle is Mrs. Linda Untal who, along with Elay Jacildo, is among the most respected leaders in the great historic town of Pulupandan. Beside Mrs Untal is Dave of the Netherlands, then myself, and there is Sze Ping, who I first met in this meeting and who swiftly became a good friend before everything else.

Seven days after the photo was published, the US invaded Iraq. Time flies.

We walk through a world of information each day and we usually bring home just a clutch of soil in our pocket without realizing it. But there are times when we notice, sometimes right before we fall asleep but more often just before we wake up and we find the fingers of our mind kneading the clay of chance and contact.

The other week I was with Melai, currently working in Singapore. We had a great time and met in Little India near the place where I was staying. Had katong laksa -- superb stuff -- then visited Chijmes, a square of bars inside what used to be a church which we found too religiously tame. Melai and I proceeded to Clark Quay, which was noisier and more boisterous and built with a towering War of the Worlds, alien-like mesh of odd-shaped canopies propped up by humongous tripods. It was humid despite the cool air being blown by huge fans hidden inside the tall steel pillars and to cool ourselves off we decided to have a few pitchers of beer. At Hooters. We had such a great time Melai and I forgot to take pictures.... Susmaryosep. Naparami kasi inom namin. Buti na lang saksakan ng saya. Gaya ni Melai, matagal na rin akong hindi-naba-bangenge. Isang linggo na yata.

Before Singapore, I was with a great class of students headed by my good friend Prof. Bernard Karganilla of UP Manila, an experience which washed away a growing stain of cynicism. It is more and more unusual for young folks today to be aware of much less very interested in the roots of the underdeveloped condition of their country, or the sad truths penetrating increasingly desperate families and individual lives. Most of Bernard's students were studying the medical sciences, which normally leaves little time for leisure, much less education. But there they were, talking lucidly with refreshing calm and intensity. I had a great time with them, though I wasn't so sure the audience was as positive. I'm happy some of them found it ok too. Here's an account of the encounter from Monique, one of Bernard's students. It even mentions Wilson, a friend of mine who also moonlights as a cricket ball searching for Deborah (the name given by Amy Cui, a good friend from Hong Kong, to the lady ball that Wilson has yet to find).

The other night, I was watching a movie and having some rough hooch when I just burst out laughing. I realized I was humming with the drunken crowd on the screen singing I'm forever blowing bubbles, the anthem of the Upton Park faithful, better known as followers of the West Ham United Football Club of London. I haven't seen the Hammers play live yet, but a good friend of mine has and he's the one who taught me the song. I may see him again next month if I'm lucky and we can scream out the song after the appropriate mingling of pints.

I'm forever blowing bubbles, pretty bubbles in the air
They fly so high,
They reach the sky,
And like my dreams they fade and die
Fortune's always hiding,
I've looked everywhere
I'm forever blowing bubbles, pretty bubbles in the air
United! United!

Time flies back. Back to words. #

Top image: Arthur, Arturo, Valery, JP, Laetitia, Mrs. Untal, Dave, Red, Sze Ping, Sven, Ateng, Louise, from the Visayan Daily Star, 13 March 2003. Middle picture was taken by Red in a cave in Vietnam. The last pic obviously from the Hammers.

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