The Sunbaked King

Homebound: The Gift of Brothers


Friends and acquaintances have often commented on the strange closeness that my brothers and I share. I don’t blame them. From an outsider’s point-of-view, it is weird. Certainly, it isn’t common to see three brothers taking pictures in Van Gogh’s Studio in TimeZone together; or eagerly anticipating the late-night edition of Jeopardy to compete with one another; or giving group hugs every few minutes or so. And while these activities may sound extreme, we certainly bestow above-average attention and affection to one another.

The closeness would sound even odder given our considerable age gaps. Four years separate me from Kuya; seven in Kenneth’s case. So between my older brother and my younger brother, eleven gaping years lie. A decade is more than enough to establish different mindsets, different environments, different likes and dislikes. Conflicts are inevitable. Chaos is sure to ensue.

Distance is another factor that should have been an issue but isn’t. I was the first to fly the nest, so to speak, when I went to Manila for college way back in 2001. Kenneth followed six years later in 2007 when he went to Los Banos. Besides the semestral breaks and the Christmas breaks, we pretty much never had the opportunity to be complete as a triumvirate. If the age gap didn’t do its job of alienating us from one another, the geographic differences surely would have done it.

Add to these the fact that our parents implemented varied styles of parenting for each of their kids (some with belts, some with monggo beans, some with broomsticks), and the result should have been World War: Family Edition.

But we turned out okay. We turned out to be each other’s best friends. We turned out to be the best brothers any one can ever be. The reasons for our bond are much vaguer than the reasons why we shouldn’t be close, but they’re strong enough to withstand the tests of time and distance. Never mind the comments, they’re mostly positive, anyway. I’m just glad.

With the triumvirate complete, the Sentillas household is at its most alive once again.



Filed under: Domesticated, Ra, Sunshine, Testimonial

Homebound: The Joke of Rain

Twelve Days of Christmas [Vacation]
December 24, 2008 – January 4, 2009

It all began with the rain.

The downpour of rain was unexpected. Given the way the sun baked my skin that morning, rain was the last thing I could possibly worry about. Even as I made my way to Powerplant, bought Trivial Pursuit for my trivia-loving brothers, and went back to the boarding house, the sky was as clear as any. I took the clear skies as a sign: one of blessings, one of good tidings. Under such auspicious circumstances, my journey to Davao was off to a good start.

Then it rained. Immediately, my mood swung 180 degrees. My legs were caked in droplets of mud, cars sped by a puddle in the road, splashing me in the process, and getting a taxi took ages. I began to worry about getting in the airport in time for my flight. The prospect of Davao seemed bleak at the moment. My mood was bleak at the moment. I was already at the verge of screaming at the passing cabs when one passed beside me on the road. I hailed it. He asked me how much I paid going to the airport. I told him that he should just use the meter; I’ll add some amount to whatever it says. He sped off. I kicked the cab before it left, got the baseball bat out of my bag, and broke the rear glass windows. (I’m kidding. But I could have, were I in possession of a bat.)

A few minutes and two wires short of a nervous breakdown later, I got a friendly cab. And with my luck turning just like that, the weather followed suit. The rain stopped. Message to the universe: Haha, very funny. The rain began just as I made the decision to leave for the airport, strengthened when I was waiting for a cab, and cleared when I was already inside. I don’t know what the time span was, but I’m thinking it was a little less than an hour.

All was forgiven, though, when I went inside the pre-departure area, ate my traditional airport fare (Delifrance Ham and Cheese croissant), and sat down to wait with the other passengers. Outside the protective glass windows, the rain gave way to a wonderful sunny afternoon. The light struck the ground, the walls, the seats, the luggage, the people’s faces, in all the right places. An almost ethereal quality filled the vast space. Within minutes after leaving the cab, I had been transported.

Even before the plane took flight, I was already home.

Filed under: Domesticated, Sunshine

Blast from the Past

Perhaps not in the unlikeliest of places, but maybe during the unlikeliest of times. It’s been 3 years and 2 months since Starbucks, the girls, and my second exam. That particular branch of Starbucks has transformed, the girls are all grown up, and I’m awaiting the results of my seventh exam. People change, circumstances change. And yet…

…I’m still strangely smiling. The universe does it again.

Filed under: Sunshine

Oh, Universe

Oh, universe.

I was all set to be sad and depressed the entire day yesterday, and yet you always managed to throw something at me to make me act otherwise. Why would you want me to hope? Why would you make me think that I’m living a wonderful life? Why would you delude me into accepting that I’m a lucky boy, after all?

Despite the fact that I was on leave the entire week last week to study for my exams, why would you send me only a few work emails instead of the tons I expected to meet? Well, I did receive a lot of messages in the inbox, but half of them were related to the upcoming department Christmas party, or inspirational messages for Christmas, or employee offers from our affiliated bank.

Despite the crisis that has severely crippled our company, why were there still a box of ham and a box of queso de bola lying on my desk?

Despite my past blunders as staff, why would you give me a boss who would complete almost everything I left behind?

Despite the several missteps I have done in my work for the past year, why would you grant me high grades in my annual performance appraisal? And what did I do to deserve the praises my boss heaped upon me? I am not the perfect staff I expected myself to be, so why did you paint a good picture of my work ethics?

Despite the lack of attention I gave my parents when they were here for a month, why would you allow my father to buy me the very expensive tickets to and from Davao? And despite my nonchalance and reckless abandon in using my credit card for my expenses, why would you allow him to acquiesce to my request of paying the said tickets in four monthly installments? This twist in events has greatly lifted a big weight on my finances for the month– why do this now?

Despite my shortcomings as a friend, why was I able to receive messages of consolation from those who’ve learned about my current disposition? Despite my inability to reward thoughtfulness with gestures of kindness, why would people remain to convey their comforting thoughts?

Universe, I am wary. Universe, I am scared. Please don’t give me all these, only to take them all away.

But for now: thank you, universe. Thank you.

I needed this more than you’ll ever know.

Filed under: Sunshine

Comeback (II)

I was led into the dark, and the dark became my friend. For weeks I swam in flashes of color and outbursts of sound. Each flash told me I was special; each outburst told me I looked good. But soon I realized that the friendship it offered was one that took as much as it gave. It gave me an easy way out, but it took away direction. It gave me cause to forget, but it took away any reason to remember. The dark still has its hold on me– no matter what I say, its magic is irresistible– but I have learned to accept the fact that it would take guts and and a certain type of mind-frame to survive the dark. I am merely a spectator of the spectacle it holds; I am at its mercy.

Even so with my blog, which transformed gradually– sneakily— over this time. Midway through the King’s current lifetime, a friend noted that I haven’t really written anything personal lately. I didn’t notice it until I was told about it, but when I did, I thought it was perfectly natural. It is only during times of melancholia or sadness (or fear) that one feels compelled to write whatever is hidden in the recesses of the heart. This method of purging through writing, it’s an act of self-preservation. When you’re happy or blissfully ignorant or triumphantly forgetting, you want to keep the feeling in. You want to be stuck with it. The only problem is, if you’re not genuinely happy, the cracks in the facade would eventually begin to show.

I managed to tame the cracks through will and circumstance. A vivid image from the dark, a list of books to read and restaurants to eat in, a change in routine, a month-long visit from parents, and an impending important exam: all these served to hold up the illusion. But the one image from the dark that made sense turned out to be a mirage; the lists fell by the wayside; the routine didn’t last for very long; the visit from parents almost ended with heartbreak and regret; and the exam is now over. People have commented that I should be happy now that the exam’s over, but what they don’t realize is that studying for my exam was the final piece that kept my mind preoccupied. And now that I’m no longer poring over pages and pages of readings… I’m back at Square One. Alone, and lonely, and cracking all over.

I started this blog for love, and ending the year without it. Maybe trying to feel how it feels like to love again is the wrong decision, after all.

Filed under: Domesticated, Eros, Helios, Ra, Rat Race, Untamed, Utter Sadness

Comeback (I)

I started this blog for love. It’s one of those decisions that appear so suddenly– so forcefully— in your mind, you feel stupid afterwards for not thinking about it at once. Life throws you love, and at the same time offers you opportunity, and yet you choose to ignore it? Not acceptable. Unfathomable. But better late than never. Gripped by an urgency so intense and a growing desire to please, The Sunbaked King was born.

The childbirth was the easy part. After a few grunts of HTML pain and layout despair, the King was out and rolling. But I knew, even in its infancy, that I had to do the more agonizing task of wearing my heart on my online sleeve. To bare myself, not to scores of loyal frequent readers (as if I had such), but to only One. I have been warned to avoid the enchanting allure of the illusion, but I did not pay any attention. I have forgotten how it was to love, and I wanted to know.

This is what I learned: that pain, no matter how expected, will always be more painful than you anticipate it to be. That negativity begets negativity: I failed in an exam I studied months for, and I got rejected in my pursuit of a better life. That no matter how hard you try to convince yourself that everything will be fine, it wouldn’t be until it actually is. 

Nevertheless, the blog remained. Because the King did what it had to do. It showed me that I was still capable of loving, that good feelings were still possible after all. The pain and the sadness may have torn me weeks on end, but writing about them (in cryptic entries and in messages you need to read between the lines to understand) dulled it somewhat. Emphasis on some.

I found the dark a few weeks later, and that was when the old wound healed, and others began to open.

To be continued.

Filed under: Eros, Helios, Ra, Untamed

5 Minutes

To type these words:

I will be on a break. See you later, alligator.

After a while, crocodile.


Seriously though. Exam’s on the 12th. The daddy of all exams. Pray for me. Light a candle. Summon the elementals.


I will be needing it.

Filed under: Rat Race