The Sunbaked King

A Death by the Diversion Road

My father called me up last Friday and told me, in a sober tone, to check my email. Those who know my father (from this blog or from my stories) would know that Papa has a tendency to shy away from sobriety. It usually takes something very serious (or when he’s scolding me, whichever) to take away the gaiety naturally present in his voice.

I checked the email and found that a serious matter was indeed at hand.

Wing,

Torney met his painful death las night when he was ran over by a speeding car at the Diversion road. Good it was an instant death; he did not suffer much as he died almost instantly.

The four of us took our car going to Nick’s house where we were invited for dinner. When our car exited from the gate, Ryan freed Torney from his chain as we usually do everytime we leave the house. Unknowingly, Kenneth left the gate open and as soon as Torney was freed, he bolted out from the gate. He ignored Mama’s efforts to lure him back to the house. We decided to leave him outside, thinking that he would just enter the gate after we left. But when we were already at the Diversion Road, we saw Torney running ahead of us and circling our car. We stopped along the shoulder and Ryan tried to catch him. As if to taut us, he kept on running ahead of the car. Then, to our horror, he ran to the highway as soon as the green light was on. Amidst our shouts, a private car hit Torney with the wheels running over Torney. As soon as he was hit, Torney put up a brave fight for his life by running to the side of the road. He slumped lifeless.

Kenneth cried loudly as he was blamed for failing to close the gate as soon as he stepped out. Ning, Ryan and I cried too as Torney has become a part of our family. But there was no need for tears. Torney, as all of us would, has gone back to his Creator. Goodbye, Torney. Thank you for the joy and happiness you brought to our home.

Papa

We’ve had four dogs since we transferred to Davao. Torney was the fourth. All of them have, as my father puts it, “gone back to their Creator.” Of all these four losses, I only witnessed one. It was heartbreaking. I don’t know how I could endure a loss that I saw with my very eyes. I’m quite sensitive with these things, and as you may have noticed, my family’s built of the same stuff, as well.

I’ve only seen Torney once, and that was when I went home last December. I’m never going to see him again.

How can pets be the cause of such acute sadness?

torneyTORNEY
? - April 16, 2009
This picture was taken on Christmas Day, 2008. 

Filed under: Domesticated, Utter Sadness

100 Words

heaven + ground + storm + archuleta + happening + rejection + pasok + flapjacks + forgotten + incredible + california + hermit + games + good + journey + taipan + cows + single + knight + kaban + sunday + boob + four + wall + aisle + august + tomb + chris + iphone + entry + history + sassy + wall-e + birthday + way + breakfast + clone + sumosam + study + darkness + competition + poem + jacques + death + coffee + eavesdropping + contented + corollary + catch + atenista + eagle + embers + other + recovery + melancholia + retreat + one + sidebar + thunder + q + hush + coat + waltz + letters + exam + know + family + musical + incomprehensible + leche + minutes + comeback + comeback + universe + blast + joke + brothers + yearend + series + 2008 + 2009 + goodbye + forgotten + sing + united + nations + avenue + honeymoon + american + hopeless + rest + idol + night + honors + honesty + hot + half-empty + hee + hope + 100 =

100 posts in 100 words.

I’ve gone a long way, and there’s no sign of stopping.

I will never tire of writing.

Filed under: ...And Others, Being Blue, Bibliomania, Cinema, Domesticated, Eros, Fiction, Yes?, Gadgetry, Gastronomy, Geekery, Helios, Mindlifting, Ra, Rat Race, Sunshine, Testimonial, The Couch Potato, Them, TV, Untamed, Utter Joy, Utter Sadness, Vanity, Yearend

Ha Ha Hee Hee Ha Ha Ho

Love me, hate me, say what you want about me.

– Britney Spears, If You Seek Amy

Got this idea from one of MakMak’s posts. The idea here is simple: listed below are ten life events, 9 of which are very, very real. The other one? A blatant lie, an outrageous fabrication. The guessing game is only half the fun; reading through the entries should already take you midway. Needless to say, I enjoyed this exercise immensely.

(The events are listed in chronological order.)

Episode 1 : Jeffrey. We once had neighbors in Zamboanga that were certified crooks and troublemakers. The sister once attempted to steal orchids from our garden; Mama saw her and grabbed her by the hair before she could get away. The brother, a kid named Jeffrey, had a punching bout with me. I lost that particular round because I went home crying. Sometime during the immediate future, I found myself faced with a wonderful opportunity: we were playing darts. With one swift stroke, I deliberately threw the dart at him, and it landed squarely on his disease-infected leg. I fake-apologized and got all fake-concerned, but deep inside, my inner devil was cheering.

Episode 2 : Promil Kid. I graduated Valedictorian soon after that. (Not that the Jeffrey incident had anything to do with it.) I was in Kindergarten then. My parents had to repeatedly stand up to pin my ribbons because there were so goddamn many of them. I was invited to be accelerated to Grade 1 sometime before that, though, but my parents refused, thinking that I wouldn’t be able to handle it. Years later, they would be faced with the same decision with my younger brother, and they agreed this time around. I wonder why they changed gears?

Episode 3 : Showbiz. We moved from Zamboanga to Davao around the early 90’s. During this time, Eat Bulaga ruled the boob tube. Shows like Little Miss Philippines and That’s My Boy catered to the kids, and they became so popular that they started holding auditions nationwide. I joined the Davao auditions of That’s My Boy. Contrary to rumors during college, I didn’t win (I came in 3rd), and I never made it to the finals in Manila. However, months later, we received an invitation from a popular local canned goods company to do a commercial. My parents didn’t allow it because we were new in town, and had yet to adjust. (Damn.)

Episode 4 : Prodigal Son. I wasn’t what you’d call an ideal son. I was pretty much a disappointment to my parents when I was younger (as parents, they would definitely deny that, haha). For instance, I squandered my yearbook money by spending it on Playstation games with my friends (X-Men and Sailor Moon were all the rage). I tried to replenish it by getting some money from our sari-sari store, but my Uncle found me out and blabbed me to my parents. My father, a recent Couples for Christ convert, did not do the usual kneel-on-mongo-seeds or belt-to-ass-spanking punishments of old, but made me place my hand on the Bible, and made me swear that I would never do it again.

Episode 5 : Camp Rock. In exchange for a brand new PC (Windows 95, 4 gigs of hard drive memory, yeah!), my father “asked” if I could join the Youth for Christ camp during the summer break. As a recently converted good child myself, and feeling a sense of immense gratitude for the computer, I agreed. That did not mean that I liked the idea. So for a few days, I had to meet with other kids of other CFC members, and do the religious thing with them. However, my silence during the entire thing got me a reputation I thought I’d never have (hence the silence): I was called “Stranger” and “Bato“, and not necessarily behind my back.

Episode 6 : Pink Sacristan. In continuation of my path to total reverence, I served as a sacristan in the Holy Spirit Adoration Convent near our house. The Convent was home to the Pink Sisters, a group of nuns whose faces we normally never see because they had our backs to us during Mass. But I found out (to my extreme humiliation), that nuns are still human, after all. Once, during an early morning mass, I left the priest’s side too early. The nuns looked up and realized what I had done, and they began to giggle. Silently and reverently, of course. But not one iota less embarrassing.

Episode 7 : Cruel Intentions. I had a psycho phase in high school, which pretty much rendered my religious conversion moot. During this time, I wondered how it would feel shooting people using a sniper (inspired by Stephen King’s character Todd Bowden in Apt Pupil); how it would feel making cocaine and getting tweaked (inspired by Josh Hartnett‘s role in The Faculty); and how it would feel just simply being deliciously evil (inspired by Sebastian Valmont, Cruel Intentions). I got so scared of the book I gave it away; got so into Josh’s character that I researched on homemade cocaine; and got so into Sebastian’s persona that I joined a school play with the same role. Talk about immersion.

Episode 8 : Lovestruck. Everything changed when Senior Year came. In Senior Year, everything is all about love. I once wrote a love letter to a friend that contained the cheesiest lines. The first stanza went this way: There is no Britney Spears / When a girl like you appears / Forget Christina Ricci / When you’re in front of me. Cheezay! I went on to write an essay about the same girl. I kept it to myself. Papa, however, snoopy little dad that he is, found the letter and sent it to Inquirer as an entry for the Youngblood column. We didn’t hear from them.

Episode 9: Lust, Caution. I flirted around by calling/texting my crushes in their cellphones, even if we weren’t close. I had a weekly Top Ten ranking of said crushes which I updated religiously. The criteria? Looks, Personality, Kerwin Bias, and Friend Factor. The Friend Factor is a consolidated ranking my closest friends gave to the people in the list. I think I allotted too much of my time to this nonsensical but exciting exercise that my grades dove alarmingly. Thank goodness graduation came and I did not have to suffer any more academic free fall.

Episode 10: Close Encounters of the First Kind. Years later, I would be going to a strip club for a bachelor’s party, and this is going to be the first time I’m going to see an aquarium full of women, ready to be chosen with the flick of a finger or a glance. This is also the first time I’m going to see a woman dancing around a pole in a see-through mesh shirt. Finally, this is also the first time I’m going to encounter, up close and personal, the female genitalia. Dun dun dun!

Filed under: ...And Others, Domesticated, Fiction, Yes?, Ra, Testimonial, Untamed

Hopeless Emptiness

A COMMENTARY ON REVOLUTIONARY ROAD
Leonardo diCaprio, Kate Winslet

On the surface, everything looks composed and organized. A modest house with room for the kids, a newly-mowed lawn, a decent car. mparevolutionaryroadposterSuburbia. This is the stuff mainland America is made of. This is the stuff people want for themselves. After all, who doesn’t want stability in their lives? Who wouldn’t want to wake up each morning knowing that there are going to be scrambled eggs and orange juice on the table? Who wouldn’t want to go to work knowing that there’s a job out there waiting for him, and perhaps a modest paycheck to feed himself, the wife and kids?

People who want more from life, that’s who. People who were born to be over and beyond what society dictates them to be. People who truly believe they exist to create a difference in the world. For these people, the perfectly composed suburban scenario is nothing but a trap. It stifles. It reeks of pretense.

Frank Wheeler (Leonardo diCaprio) and April Wheeler (Kate Winslet) have moved into their new home in Revolutionary Road, and there they learn that that their lives are going to be anything but revolutionary. With a job Frank hates, and a housewife role April despises, they set out to be better than who they are by moving to Paris. Acknowledging that they have lived what Frank calls a “hopeless existence” is only half of the equation, however; getting out of it is another matter entirely.

Hmmm, hopeless emptiness. John Givings (Michael Shannon), a mathematician plagued by a case of insanity, said it best: people hint at the emptiness, but never really see the hopelessness. This is perhaps the reason why people moan at the redundancy, but never recognize the futility of living the redundancy. So they do things again and again, believing that something is out for them, when in fact everything stays the same. By the time they realize that something’s amiss, their entire life has passed them by, and they end up bitter and sad and mad at the world. What’s worse, they end up bitter and sad and mad at themselves. For failing to see. For failing to act.

A road can lead two ways, and it’s perfectly fine to use both of them. The only mistake is to stay behind without using at all.

[Revolutionary Road is a comeback for the famous Titanic tandem of diCaprio and Winslet. diCaprio’s and Winslet’s performances are spot-on and quite effective. They’ve gone a long way since Titanic, which I didn’t even watch on the big screen (can ya believe it?). The music is quite minimal, and it works. In fact, the scenes are quite minimilastic; you get the idea that while suburban life may be this clean, a tiny speck of dust (or blood) is all it takes to destroy the entire picture.]

Filed under: Cinema, Domesticated, Mindlifting, The Couch Potato

Homebound: Single Guy Says Goodbye

You look at your watch. It’s 4 PM. The plane leaves at 6. You have two solid hours to roam around the airport, eat, and skim through the book you brought with you. It’s the same old routine, the road easiest to travel, the path of least resistance.

But somehow, this time, you just want to take a seat and look around.

The guy in front of you is fiddling with his laptop, muttering under his breath about how there’s no socket anywhere. He absentmindedly messes up his well-gelled hair in frustration. As he closes his laptop, his phone rings. There’s nothing but frustration in his voice. His body screams for release; his demeanor reveals nothing but resignation.

The woman two seats down is reading a greeting card from someone you surmise is her beau. Her smile is radiant and fills her face like a thousand beautiful Japanese lanterns. At one point, she tucks her hair behind her ear and giggles silently. You begin to suspect that the greeting card isn’t as long as she makes it appear; she has been reading it again and again.

Kuya!!!”

To your left, a ten-year-old boy is busily punching his brother by the shoulder. You are first saddened by the sight; your brothers mean so much to you. As the scene unfolds more clearly in your sight, however, you realize that the youngster is laughing as he “mock” jabs the elder. On the older brother’s lap is a puzzle book. Clearly they are having a competition, and the younger one just lost on a question. You wait for their parents to arrive (perhaps holding two Smokey’s frankfurters), but no one comes. The brothers are all on their own.

Philippine Airlines Flight MC5 flying to Manila is now accepting passengers for boarding.

The corporate guy, just finished with his phone call, looks at the plane with a hopeful look in his eyes. It’s just work, those eyes say. There’s something beyond the islands, beyond the seas, and I will find my rest.

The woman leaps out of her seat, grabs her bag, and rushes to the front of the line. It’s been too long, that jump says. The words from the endless exchange of letters shall now become reality, the words shall now bear fruit.

The older brother takes the youngster’s bag and carries it with his own luggage. With one arm holding the bags, and the other draped around the youngster’s shoulders, the two walk the short path to the queue. They have just left their parents and their childhood behind; it’s now time to be men and move on with their lives.

You smile. A tingling sensation runs from your toe all the way to your head. As you stand, a single thought crosses your head:

“Three.”

The future has never looked so bright.

Filed under: Domesticated, Eros, Fiction, Yes?, Utter Joy

Homebound: The Gift of Brothers

brothers_1

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.

brothers_2

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

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

Leche Flan

It was around the time we transferred to Davao when I finally stopped sleeping in my parents’ room and got my own. It was a wonderful moment of independence. Sure, it was just a jump across a very micro-mini corridor, but those two feet of space made a lot of difference. My older brother almost always slept late, and sometimes at the living room couch at that, so I had the room all to myself.

I was a prince in a sturdy fortress. After class, this young knight went straight to his room to save the damsel in distress over and over again, and to conquer his fear of witches and the supernatural. Which just means to say: Nintendo games and Stephen King books. My parents did not approve of locking the doors, so there was no real sense of privacy, but who needs privacy when you get transported to another world? I was a prince. I was a knight.

Except when I became sick. Then I was back to being a little boy again.

Sometimes, I used to wake up shaking under my blanket, rivulets of sweat flowing down from my face. I felt sad and lonely and miserable. With my small hands, I’d peel the blanket off me, gingerly get down from my bed, and walk those two feet of space that felt like a thousand. Then, with a quiet sob, tears mixing with sweat, I’d knock on my parents’ door. Gently at first, then with some urgency. As I stand there shaking, Mama would open the door, utter a cry of concern, press the back of her hand against my forehead, and usher me in. I was back again in my parents’ bedroom, and Mama wouldn’t sleep until I was alright.

Flash forward 15 years.

Work has been quite stressful lately. I think I’ve done something that is partly my fault, and it’s killing my time for my other tasks, and it’s killing my time for studying. I came from a trip that, while fun, was also tiring. I’ve spent some nights working overtime, not getting enough rest, and feeling crappy the entire day. At one point last week, I almost broke down to cry. 

And then I remembered. I picked my cellphone up, looked under my contacts, and pressed the Call button. 

“Hello Ma. Saan ka ngayon?

      “Nandito ako sa Rockwell.”

Gutom na ako.”

      “O ano mang gusto mo kainin? Dito na lang tayo?”

“Ikaw bahala, para hindi hassle, sa bahay niyo na lang, luto na lang tayo.”

      “Ay puwede rin langga [palangga = sweetheart], may binili akong bacon para sa kapatid mo.”

“Sige, masarap yan.”

      “Pero puwede rin dito, sa Milky Way na lang ulit tayo.”

“Sige, Ma. Punta na ako diyan in a while.”

Mama was here. In Manila. For almost a month. At that moment, I felt awash with a gratitude so intense it tingled from head to toe. And like the mother that she is, she immediately took care of me like the little boy I was– and still am. Needless to say, for the entire time we were together, joking around, me poking her ukay-ukay attire, and she telling me how vain I was, I felt all my burdens come undone from my shoulders. I felt refreshed. I felt free.

I love my Mama to bits.

Happy birthday, Ma. The past month has been a blast. Leche flan in December? 🙂

Filed under: Domesticated, Sunshine, Testimonial

Incomprehensible

I don’t understand.

This was supposed to be a joyful entry, one that greets a very important person in my life for another year of being the perfect person that she is, but somehow, in some twisted godforsaken way, the night ended in tears, in sadness, and in a painful separation.

How can one refreshing morning end up with such a gloomy evening?

How can one mistake turn out to be the highlight of a month-long family affair?

How can a reunion cause so much separation and strife?

It’s incomprehensible.

I don’t understand.

Filed under: Domesticated, Utter Sadness