Someone Like Rhon 1

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

by Joshx
North Luzon - 20 September 2011

“Ingat ka sa Korea. Salamat din sa pagiging kuya mo sa akin all these years.”

Kahit na ilang oras na ang nagdaan, dinig ko pa din sa aking isip ang boses ng aking kapatid na si Rhett. Sa labas ng bintana ng sinasakayan kong commuter bus ay wala man lang akong makitang scenic view sa dinadaanan dahil malalim na ang gabi. Papunta na ako ng Diosdado Macapagal International Airport sa Clark Field, Angeles City, Pampanga.

Sa loob din ng ilang araw na feeling restless, iyon lang ang gusto kong marinig kay Rhett tanda na napatawad na niya akong tuluyan at para panatag na rin ang loob ko sa pag-alis mamayang alas-dos ng madaling araw pabalik ng South Korea.

By this time, siguradong nagkaliwanagan na sila Rhett at Brando at malamang baka nasa isang pribadong lugar na sila at this time consummating their love for each other.

Si Brando ang aking ex-boyfriend more than ten years ago. I broke up with him when I met his younger brother Stephen only to realize later that I still love him. Pero hindi na pumayag si Brando na balikan ko siya. Hindi rin naman niya ako napapayag na ipagpatuloy pa ang pakikipag-relasyon sa kaniyang kapatid na sa sobrang depression ay nag-suicide at namatay.

Several days ago, umuwi ako ng Pilipinas from South Korea to remind my brother Rhett who fell in love with Brando to stay away from him.

Nasa isip ko kasi na Brando has plans of revenge at si Rhett ang paghihigantihan niya sa pagkakasala ko sa kaniya sa pagkamatay ng kaniyang kapatid. But I found out that Rhett is deeply in love with him. Brando also told me the same thing that he has already forgiven me the day he admitted to himself that he love Rhett which I didn't believe.

Para iwanan ni Rhett si Brando, sinabi ko kay Rhett na nagkabalikan na kami ulit ni Brando having fixed everything between us. But that worsens the situation until finally I made up my mind to tell the truth to Rhett earlier this afternoon.

Now, I'm quite relieved sa kabila ng hapdi ng nanariwang sugat sa aking puso sa tuluyang pagkawala na sa akin ni Brando na for the last ten years ay nanatili sa aking puso. Wala akong naging karelasyon na ibang lalaki kahit na sabihing maraming Koreano pati na rin mga Pilipino ang nagpapakita ng interes sa akin.

Of course hindi mawawala ang pakikipagtalik ko sa mga consenting adult men na pasado ang stats sa panlasa ko but I see to it that our having sex is only to satisfy our cravings and no strings attached.

But now will be a different story that I have to make for myself. Sa pagpapalaya ko kay Brando, kailangan ko na ring palayain ang sarili ko. Pero paano nga ba buksan ang pusong matagal ng sarado? Paano ba ito muling iibig kung matagal na nitong nakalimutan ang pumintig?

Bahala na. Love will surely find the way.

After an hour and a half trip from Manila in the tree-lined Northern Luzon Expressway, I finally saw myself standing in Clark Field which for decades was known as a US Air Force Base homing the American Pilots serving the Pacific.

Malaki na nga ang ipinagbago nito from the last time I saw it in the newspapers during the Mt. Pinatubo eruptions in 1991 and after US turns it over to the Philippines. Mula sa isang animo'y ghost land dahil sa makapal na abo at buhangin na tumabon sa buong paligid, now became a hub for business, industry, aviation, and tourism.

Alas-dos ng madaling araw ang departure ng flight ko from Clark to Incheon with Jin Air. Two hours before, nag-check in na ako to wait for boarding.

Habang nakaupo sa aisle seat sa mga hilera ng upuan provided for waiting passengers, hindi ko maiwasan na ngayon pa lang na bahain na ang isip ko ng mga naiwang trabaho as a VP for Accounting ng aming kumpanya. Siguradong tambak na sa mesa ang mga papeles waiting for my signature.

"Huwag ka na kayang bumalik sa Korea? Dito na lang tayo," naalala ko pang huling pakiusap ni Mommy kanina habang inilalabas ko ng bahay ang aking dadalhin.

"Gustuhin ko man po pero hindi talaga pwede. Katatawag lang noong Personnel Manager namin kanina confirming my flight back dahil kailangan na raw ako sa kumpanya."

Lumatay ang lungkot sa kaniyang mukha na sa edad niyang forty nine ay nananatili pa ring maganda. "Iiwanan mo ako..."

Instinctively, I reach for her saka masuyong niyakap. I know how it feels to be alone. More than a week na kasing wala sa bahay sina Rhett at Tiya Beng na sumama na sa asawa nitong si Tito Clyde kaya kaming dalawa na lang ni Mommy ang naiwan at ngayon nga'y kailangan ko ng bumalik sa Korea. "Bibilisan ko ang pagsasa-ayos ng papeles ninyo para makuha ko na kayo kaagad." I told her with an assuring voice.

Kumalas siya sa pagkayakap ko then she looked straight to my eyes. "Ayoko ng bumalik sa Korea Rhon."

A questioning look lined on my face as I know how decisive it was for her staying there. "Why the sudden change?"

"Mas gusto ko na dito. Napagod na ako doon na for more than a decade and a half na patago-tago at palagi na lang natatakot na baka madeport na lang bigla kagaya ng nangyari before." Her voice is firm. "Isa pa, mas masarap pa rin talaga sa sariling bayan. I have never felt this contentment and easiness in Korea like I do now. Iba pa rin talaga ang nasa sariling bayan, malaya kang kumilos at mamuhay. This is where I belong now."

I felt so envious with my mother. Naisip ko, kailan ko kaya mararamdaman ang sinasabi niyang sense of belongingness? I never felt that in my life. Lahat ng puntahan at apakan kong lugar, naroon palagi iyong feeling na isa lang akong estranghero. That is where the emptiness and restlessness is coming deep within me.

Mommy grabs my right hand and pushed it upwards, making me promise. "Ipangako mo babalik ka dito. Kagaya ng napag-usapan na natin na magre-resign ka pagdating mo ng Korea."

Parang may pumiga sa puso ko habang nakatingin ako sa mukha ni Mommy. I nodded fighting the swelling emotion. "Yes, I promise." Then tears came rolling down my cheeks.

I love my mother very much. If my leaving is hard for her, God knows it was really even harder for me. Ayoko lang ipakita sa kaniya dahil lalo lamang siyang malulungkot.

Ngayong napatawad na ako ni Brando sa pagkakasala ko sa kaniya, I finally see the bigger picture. Hindi kagaya sa mga nagdaang panahon na ang focus lang ng buhay ko ay ang nagawa kong pagkakamali na gusto kong ituwid. Nakalimutan ko na tuloy ang ibang tao sa paligid kagaya na lang ni Mommy. Tuluyan siyang nawalan ng importansiya sa akin.

Ngayon ko lang naisip, how lucky I am to have her with me in Korea bago siya nadeport a few weeks ago. Naalala ko pa minsan nang magkasakit ako how she cared for me.

Si Mommy kasi, ayaw niya talagang maglalabas ng bahay dahil nga sa takot na mahuli siya ng mga police at madeport pabalik sa Pilipinas kaya trabaho at bahay lang ang routine niya. Nagkataon pa na stay-inn siya sa kumpanya at pinayagan din naman siyang doon na rin ako tumirang kasama niya.

But that time na maysakit ako, she finally faced her fears. Lumabas siya ng company compound para dalhin ako ng ospital. Wala na siyang pakialam kahit may mga police pa siyang makita along the way at magbigay man siya ng information about her sa pinuntahan naming ospital na pwedeng gamitin to trace her whereabouts at malaman na isa siyang illegal alien that could lead to her deportation.

I know it’s hard for her to do that but she did it for my sake. Kahit mahirap kinaya niya and that is something I never able to appreciate. Parang natural lang sa akin ang ginawa niyang iyon and she never heard anything from me even words like Thank You. Iyon ay dahil kay Brando lang ang naging focus ko. Not until now kung kailan paalis na ako.

She wipes my tears with the back of her hand. "O sige na, kailangan mo ng umalis. You've got a long trip ahead of you. Mag-iingat ka sa biyahe."

For the last time, muli ko siyang kinabig at niyakap. Alam kong hindi ako ganoon ka thouhtful and at age 29, parang dyahe na umakto pa ng ganoon but there's something pushing me to tell her how I feel. Na para bang sinasabing last chance ko na para sabihin ito na baka wala ng susunod pang pagkakataon as I never know what will happen tomorrow. Almost whispering, I told her, "I love you Mommy..."

She patted my back. "I love you too, Rhon."

I came back to the present as I felt a man is in front towering over me. I looked up at him. Siguradong hindi ko siya kilala but the way he smiles at me makes me feel otherwise.

Sa tantiya ko ay nasa otsenta anyos na ang matandang lalaki, naubos na ng panahon ang kaniyang buhok pero straight body pa rin ito unlike other old people na medyo kurbado ang likod due to osteoporosis. Lalo pang tumangkad at pumayat tingnan sa suot nitong white polo shirt na may vertical stripes na red. Naka-slacks na black. Ang napansin ko lang ay wala itong bitbit na hand-carry bag.

Naisip ko na baka galing ito sa ibang upuan kung saan niya iniwan ang kaniyang dala. "Bakit po?" Naisipan kong itanong nang hindi mapuknat ang pagkatitig niya sa mukha ko habang nakatawa na daig pa ang tumama ng jackpot sa grandlotto.

At an instant, tumingin ako sa semi fit na striped polong suot ko whose upper part left unbuttoned to see kung may dumi o mantsa na wala naman. Then down to my pants to see if I left my zip open when I went to the restroom a while ago but am also zipped up.

Kung bibigyan ko ng malisya ang titig niya, iisipin kong isa siyang baklang pinaglipasan na ng panahon na biglang humanga sa taglay kong machismo. Na-mesmerize ng tuluyan sa mga nangungusap kong mata na itim ang irises and totally struck sa sexy aura ko emanating from my brawny torso, golden tan complexion, straight and shiny long black hair hanging above my wide shoulders and hard to resist goatee.

"I-ikaw nga Kuya Rhon," his smile widened wrinkling more his face. He seems so excited on the mere sight of me.

Shock naman ako sa narinig. He knew my name and it's very weird how he addresses me 'Kuya' when he was more than twice as old as I am. I'm pretty much sure na ngayon ko lang siya nakita kaya it's either he just saw the tag on my bag having my name and making fun of me or nababaliw na siya which the latter seems to be hardly true. "Magkakilala po ba tayo?"

He nodded then after a while shook his head. "Ako si Lorenso," pakilala niya sa sarili, "Mahirap ipaliwanag...but I really know you."

I looked at my watch and I still have to wait half an hour before boarding time. Waves of strange feelings rush inside me that I can't explain. "Pero hindi ko po kayo kilala Lolo Lorenso not until now." Kahit sa loob ko ay ramdam kong parang familiar siya sa akin which I wonder why.

He sat himself beside me and after a moment of silence between us, he said while still looking at me, "Sabi ko mahirap ipaliwanag na kung bakit kilala kita at lalong mahirap ipaliwanag kung bakit ako nandito ngayon sa harap mo."

This old man starts to freak me out. "Hindi ko po kayo maintindihan. Kahit mahirap, try niyo pong ipaliwanag. I'm more than willing to listen." Hindi ko alam kung bakit sinabi ko iyon sa kaniya when what I should have done instead is to drive him away and take his nonesense with him.

Umiling siya. "What I will say may startle you so I better not to talk about it. Instead I'll just go straight to my reason of coming here," sabi ni Lolo Lorenso.

Kinuha niya ang isang sobre na akala ko ay kulay light brown pero nang iabot sa akin at kunin ko saka ko nalaman na malamang ay puti ang kulay noon at sa kalumaan na kaya naging sepia na ang kulay. Parang isang sobre na hinukay sa antique na baul.

At the back of the envelope was handwritten the name LORENSO in print. "Para sa inyo po ito?"

He nodded. "It's for me but the message inside is meant for you."

Binuksan ko ang sobre saka kinuha sa loob ang nakatuping papel na ganoon din ang kulay gaya ng sobre. I carefully unfold it thinking it would be torn in my hand any minute and started to read:


Lorenso,

Kapag nabasa mo ang sulat na ito ibig sabihin ay buhay ka pa and you manage to survive. I have one wish na sana gawin mo para sa akin.

If you happen to reach the date September 20, 2011 through God's will, puntahan mo ako sa Clark Field International Airport. I'll be there at 12 midnight waiting for my flight schedule to Incheon South Korea thru Jin Air.

Please stop me from taking the 2AM trip.

If I seem to be hard-headed and unstoppable then tell me that the plane will crash a few minutes after take-off.

Salamat and God Bless.

Kuya Rhon

I was stunned by the ridiculousness of the message even after reading it the third time. I looked at the old man in strong disbelief. "Lolo naman, ang tanda niyo na po to engage yourself in this kind of a sick joke."

He was a bit frightened on my reaction. Akala niya siguro makakatikim siya sa akin. "I expected you to react and feel that way Kuya Rhon," sabi niya binigyan diin ang salitang 'Kuya Rhon' na para bang sa ganoong paraan ay may maalala ako at paniwalaan siya instantly.

"Only an insane man will react otherwise." Pinigil ko ang matawa sa pagtawag niya sa akin ng Kuya Rhon.

"That's why, I let you read for yourself the letter. Kahit ako hindi ko rin paniwalaan ang sulat pero totoo dahil nandito ka ngayon as you have written in the letter which I happen to get hold of it seventy years ago. Matagal na panahon ng nasa akin iyan at kahit ako man ay duda, out of respect with you, I kept it to myself and patiently I waited for this day to come to grant your wish."

A suppressed laugh came out of my mouth. Nababaliw na yata ang matandang Lorenso'ng ito. All I thought Alzheimer's Desease lang ang makikita kong sakit ng mga tumatanda, meron din palang ganito na hindi ko alam kung anong psychological term ang tawag.

"Why would you think I believe you?"

"Because this is what you have asked me to do."

Umiling ako trying to keep my composure intact. I looked at the letter again and was shocked to realize that the handwriting is the same as mine. But that is not enough to say na akin nga ang sulat. Somebody must be playing games with me. Posibleng kung sinoman siya, ginaya niya ang sulat ko. Madali na rin namang magmukhang lumang papel ang bagong papel ngayon sa pamamagitan lang ng paglagay ng citrus juice at pagplantsa ng paulit-ulit. That somebody also know my itinerary schedule.

I gave the letter back to him which he willingly accepts.

"Lolo, paano po mangyayari na galing sa akin iyang sulat na iyan na ayon sa inyo ay napasakamay ninyo seventy years ago, samantalang 29 years old lang po ako today?"

Even old Lorenso was not able to give a rational answer. "Ayoko ng dagdagan pa ang isipin mo Kuya Rhon," sabi nito na parang may alam pa siyang ayaw niyang sabihin tungkol sa akin and the way he called me Kuya Rhon is like he was used to it for a long time. "Sa akin lang sana, ipagpaliban mo muna ang pag-alis mo ngayon...baka pwedeng sa next flight na lang bukas."

Natawa ako sa sinabi niya. "You're really unbelievable asking me such a thing."

"You have nothing to loose kung makikinig ka sa pakiusap ko Kuya Rhon."

Nauubos na ang pasensiya ko kay Lolo Lorenso. Kaya bago pa ako tuluyang mawalan ng respeto sa kaniya, "Hindi niyo po alam ang sinasabi ninyo. Hinihintay na ako ng employer ko sa Korea. Sa tingin ninyo maniniwala sila na kaya naantala ang trip ko dahil sa mensaheng galing sa inyo? Pakitigil na po ang pagtawag ninyo sa akin ng Kuya Rhon because that won't make any difference at iwanan niyo na po akong mag-isa."

Frustration marks the old man's face. "P-paano kung totoo na magka-crash ang eroplano?"

"That will only happen if you or the one who sent you here did something that will malfunction the plane."

"But it was you who sent me here," Lorenso insists.

Arrrrrggghhh, ano ba talaga gusto ng matandang ito? Baliw lang ako if I give a thought about what he's asking. "Sige na po, iwanan niyo na po ako. You don't want me to call airport security, do you?"

He finally surrendered and left me but seated himself on a chair near the boarding entrance as his eyes still pinned on me.

Nagsimula ng pumasok sa eroplano ang ibang pasaherong kasama namin. Tumingin ako kay Lolo Lorenso, waiting for him to take his turn but he keep himself seated, his eyes begging me to consider his request at the last minute but such was futile.

Bago pa ako mapagsarhan ng pintuan, pumasok na rin ako without glancing at Lorenso's sad expression and failure to persuade me.

"You should have listened to your old self!" narinig ko pa ring sigaw niya na hindi ko na pinansin pa.

Nakaupo na ako sa window seat sa loob ng 180-seater Boeing 737-800 airplane waiting for the take-off ay hindi pa rin mawala sa isip ko ang matanda. Ang ibang tao nga naman, they will even use an old man for their sick jokes. Hindi na sila naawa sa matanda. I wonder how much the old man received from roleplaying such foolishness.

Madilim pa sa labas ng bintana dahil 2AM pa lang. After securing myself with the seatbelt, I waited nervously for the plane to take off. Hindi ko rin kasi maikakaila na somehow affected ako sa sinabi ni Lorenso. A part of my mind is asking what if...?

Ilang saglit pa after final check ng mga stewardess kung properly locked ang mga seat belts nang bawat pasahero ay naramdaman ko na ang pag-andar paikot ng eroplano paharap sa runway.

An irrational fear is eating me slowly. Bigla tuloy gusto ko ng lumabas ng plane pero siyempre hindi pwede dahil hindi naman ito katulad ng jeep na pwedeng umibis ng bigla as long as marunong kang tumayo pagbagsak ng mga paa mo sa lupa gaya ng mga nagtitinda sa loob ng bus.

I subdued myself with the fears of the unknown. Napakapit tuloy akong bigla sa armrest ng upuan at napapikit habang ang eroplano ay patuloy sa paglakad sa runway mula banayad hanggang papabilis ng papabilis kasabay ng tunog ng malaking engine nito. Hanggang maramdaman ko na ang pag-angat nito mula sa lupa na para namang naiiwan ang aking kalamnan.

As the plane rises, I feel the false swelling of my head and the pressure in my ears. I tried chewing air to minimize the pain in my ears until it's finally over as the plane reach it's target altitude. The seatbelt lights went off.

But still, thinking about Lorenso still bothers me. As per the letter, the plane will crash a few minutes after take-off. At habang ang mga minutong susunod ay hindi pa nagiging isang oras, malamang mananatili akong mag-iisip at magbabantay.

After a couple of minutes, few passengers already unbuckle their seatbelts. Iyong iba nagpunta sa restrooms while the others remain in their seats. Ako, nanatili sa aking position kanina from the take-off. Gusto kong murahin ang sarili ko at mukhang nagtagumpay kung sinoman ang nag-utos kay Lolo Lorenso na takutin ako.

Napapikit ako at parang baliw na binabantayan ang paglipas ng oras, bawat tiktak ng wrist watch ko ay sinasabayan ng tibok ng aking puso. Tibok na papalakas hanggang sa parang tinatambol na ang aking dibdib sa kaba.

Sa pagkakapikit kong iyon, hindi ko alam na nagsisimula na palang mangyari ang aking kinatatakutan.

It was calm on board when I heard a loud bang that forces me to open my eyes. Nakita ko na naka-On na naman iyong seatbelt lights para sabihan ang lahat na umupo at mag-seatbelt.

Oh my God...this is it!

Biglang bumagsak ang eroplano pagkuway bumawi sa pag-akyat hanggang muling mag-levelled out. With that, I felt danger as screams came from the other passengers.

Then I felt a gush of wind blew through the cabin while the plane shakes uncontrollably. The oxygen masks dropped down from the ceiling. I was really scared as the plane is shaking and my whole body hovered up in the air. Iyong ibang maleta ay naglaglagan na mula sa compartment sa kisame.

Tumingin ako sa head stewardess who had a faint smile on her face. That was the time that I knew what was happening is really bad.

Iyong ibang pasahero na hindi na nakapag-seatbelt ay natumba at instantly nasugatan. The person in front of me flew up to the ceiling. The person behind me collapsed and looked unconscious.

I heard one of the flight's attendants yelling safety instructions repeatedly, "Heads down! Stay down! Heads down! Stay down!" Which I never obeyed.

My God! It is as if everything is a bad dream but unfortunetly it's not.

Unconsciously my eyes were gazed outside the window. Madilim sa labas pero nakapagtataka na may liwanag akong nakita. I was shocked to see the torn metal from a gash of about 3 metres where the wing joins the body of the airplane and it was on fire!

Napaiyak ako sa takot. I should have listened to Lolo Lorenso. Dapat pinaniwalaan ko siya no matter how absurd his request seems. Pero huli na para magsisi, as always.

Bigla kong naisip si Mommy. Kaya pala ganoon na lang ang kagustuhan kong yakapin siya and tell her how much I loved her because of this. Isa na palang premonition ang ginawa ko kanina para sa haharapin kong kamatayan ngayon.

Puro takot at sigawan ang pumuno sa lahat ng sulok ng cabin habang palakas ng palakas ang hangin na humahampas sa amin.

Napatingin ako sa kisame sa pagitan luggage compartments thinking na baka bigla na itong bumigay any minute. Then I turn my head to see the ceiling above me tearing slowly exposing torn material. Hindi ako makakilos sa takot hanggang maramdaman ko na lang na nahati nang tuluyan ang eroplano sa aking likuran.

With the force so strong that I could not stand, I found my seatbelt unfastened by itself.

I'm going to die!

Then I felt numbness wash over me as the plane finally exploded in the night air.



To be continued...

2 comments:

Myx February 22, 2011 at 7:11 PM  

So interesting. asan na ang kasunod? hehe
atat?

iHateThisFeeling,  May 31, 2011 at 4:44 AM  

sounds like REINCARNATION?


very interesting!


:D

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