The Sunbaked King

One Minute After Dawn

It’s almost been a year since we met each other in blog-space, back when you so vividly described New York in one of your posts that it almost felt like I was there, that I wanted to be there. You have been given the gift of language, but that is not all that you have. You have also been given the gift of life.

Happy birthday, Mak! May you have many, many more minutes after dawn. 🙂

Filed under: Testimonial

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

0990 United Nations Avenue (III)

Supposedly emailed last February 27, 2009. Never got to it because of these guys’ thoughtfulness. One surprise after the other, and when it was over, it was time for me to go.

Today is my last working day in Philamlife.

I started working for the Actuarial Department on June 5, 2006. I had my picture taken with Joanne, got introduced to the world of BorgChat, and discovered the joys of Mr. Choi’s cuisine. On Friday that same week, I wore a long-sleeved barong, while everyone else was in jeans or short-sleeved polo shirts. Joanne urged me to take off the barong and just wear the white undershirt, instead. I did not succumb to the urging. The day after, I was on my way with my new colleagues to Batangas, where Paul drove us, Adam and I exchanged a few words about work (“Maganda magsimula sa Studies”), and MK complained that she can’t enjoy the scenery when her bladder was “ABOUT TO BURST.” Midway through, the guys from Charline’s car texted, informing us that there was something wrong with our vehicle (trunk open? door open? flat tire?). We fixed it and went on our merry way. That night, I got drunk on that wonderful chocolatey Bailey’s drink and gin tonic, and tumbled my way to sleep. Not before getting to answer the question: “What do I think about Joanne?” To which I replied: “Siya ang tipo ng friend na babatukan ka pag may ginawa kang kalokohan.

Not a bad way to start a lifetime career. Not a bad way to gain lifetime friends.

And I was right about my response, Joanne was indeed the sort of friend who’ll reprimand/mock/tease/scold you when you’ve done something amoral/nasty/disgusting/wrong. Quite the disciplinarian, isn’t she? But she’s also the type of friend who’ll buy you breakfast in the morning; the type who will write cute little notes on Post-its when she feels like you deserve it; the type who’ll take you home from work in her super-savvy car; and the type of friend who’ll accompany you in making coffee even when she herself has already had a go (edited to add: and the type of friend who’ll make a Gossip Girl intro for you because she knows you’ll love it). I’m never shy when I’m with her because she accepts me for who I am. Jebs or no jebs, cleavage or no cleavage, whatever the iota of difference from hairstyle to hairstyle may be, she will forever be a seatmate in my heart. She’ll occupy the space next to the aorta, inside the right ventricle….

….because space has to be given to my other seatmate, the one that came before her, the one and only Adam. I don’t know how else to put it, but this not-weird-but-gifted geek-in-the-pink saved me. During the times that I struggled in Studies, back in the days when all I could write was a single bullet point in a single day, he guided me. During those times that I was depressed because I doubted myself that I could never live up to his, or Paul’s, or Jose’s shining precedents, he reassured me. And even when he was no longer by my side and I was alone (and that was a sad, sad day), he still reached out two floors down to assist me. Never have I known a person with such desire to help others. And he does it… because he can.

Together, we were a formidable team. Something definitely clicked when the Younglings came together. We used to joke around about the department having Eons or Ages (the Age of Silence, the Age of Romance, the Exodus, etc.). I definitely think that that was a Golden Age, a wonderful time when there were rainbows and puppies and red bikes and cute little pony princesses. And that Age continues to resonate until the present, because the bond we formed is definitely strong. Nothing can tear us apart.

Friends, thanks for making my last day special.

In the words of Adam, it’s not goodbye, it’s just goodbye for now.

Bansy/Boks/Chava Nation card-carrying member,
Kerwin

Filed under: Rat Race, Sunshine, Testimonial, Utter Joy, Utter Sadness

0990 United Nations Avenue (II)

Emailed last February 27, 2009.

Today is my last day in this Company.

The first time I stepped into this building, I was met with both suspicious and sympathetic looks from people from the 3rd floor. I called some random Company office number that morning, having no idea whatsoever about the more minute details of the Management Associateship Program. Imagine my surprise (and horror) to be told that the Mappers [that’s how we were called] were already in the Training Pavilion, getting briefed about the program. Needless to say, I took a quick bath, hailed a cab, and rushed into the office. And when I arrived at the 3rd floor, I got the S&S looks I mentioned earlier.

It was April 2005, 2 months before the program even started. There were a bunch of new faces in the Training Pavilion, all right, but they were Student Trainees, not Mappers. I had stumbled into the Student Training Program. I called the head of recruitment, told her about my predicament, and was told to do the medical since I was already there. I did as I was told. Hours later (I had a hard time peeing– I drank Coke and orange juice to get it flowing), I went back up to the 3rd floor, met my mentor, and signed the contract. My deal with the devil was formalized that sunny morning of April 2005. I was now officially a Mapper.

A few weeks later, I met the most amazing, most empowered, most brilliant women I’ve met in my entire life.

They are unique friends for two important reasons: 1) I would never have thought of being so close with them, given how much scared I was of “powerful” women back in the days when I studied in school; and 2) They’re wonderful people. Pure and simple. I never felt unease whenever I was with them, making me wonder what it was that I was so scared of back in the day. Sure, they talked about brassieres and cup sizes and camel toes and waxing and getting wasted on a weekday and Pap smears at the back of vans and networking and wrote alternately on laptops and yellow pad papers, but they also gave out Willy Wonka Nerds when they liked you. And I think they liked me. For which I am glad.

Times have moved on, the world has moved on, and we are now on different courses in our lives. As we travel each separate path, we look back and see, that in a distance not so far away, our paths converged once upon a time. I look back at that point with happiness mixed with a tinge of sadness. Those were simpler times. Those were simpler joys. Those were simpler circumstances.

This isn’t a goodbye, just a goodbye for now.

Kerwin

Filed under: Rat Race, Sunshine, Testimonial, Utter Joy, Utter Sadness

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

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

Love Letters for No One (In Particular)

Dear K,

You and I think alike in some twisted way others do not really know about. I don’t think you know it, either. But there is a connection in there somewhere, because I understand you when others do not. I find your thoughts refreshing and sincere. While I am sometimes put off by your timing and your tactlessness, I am more intrigued by your frankness and honesty. I do wish we could get together sometime, away from the people who look at us with nothing but malice in their eyes and nothing but judgment in their minds. I would love to open up to you, to tell you that I am here. I understand. I care.

 

Dear R,

Are you on a diet or something? Have you been going to the gym that you so vehemently sworn off a few months back when we were chatting? Because I’ve got to say, you look good. It’s been forever since I saw you, and honestly, this is quite a surprising change. From the way your face glows to how tender your hands have become, everything seems for the better. Honestly, I was weirded out when we first met way back during our time of innocence. You were so shy, so quiet, so contained, that I didn’t know what was going on. Good thing then that our paths didn’t cross that often, because I didn’t have to deal with the awkwardness that occurred every time we did. But now… but now… I am speechless. I am breathless.

 

Dear S,

There are three C’s to describe you: conversant, confident, sorta cute. Well, that last one’s kinda forced, but you know what I mean. It’s been sometime since I met someone with the qualities so wonderfully balanced in one cool package. You never ran out of words to say, and I like that. You carried yourself in a way only someone in your profession can, and I also like that. And your “cuteness,” well, takes a little getting used to, but it’s definitely there. It’s rare that new acquaintances become more than acquaintances in a span of few days, but there you go. I guess what we have is something special, huh?

 

Except that it’s not.
Not with you K. Not with you R. Not with you S.

 

K, there are certain fundamental preferences that we cannot twist, bend, or break, no matter how hard we try. Admittedly, I’m not even trying, but only because there is no point.

R, your transformation can only take you so far. Can only take us so far, if ever we decide to take that journey at all. You know the Chinese saying, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”? That single step might actually mean a single “word,” and I’m afraid that communication is not our strongest suit.

S, telling the truth does not make you less of an asshole. The truth must be said by the right person at the right time in the right place using the right method. That was not the right method. It was not the right place. That was not the right time. You are not the right person.

 

I say all this with much love and regret.

XOXO,

K.R.S.

Filed under: Eros, Testimonial

Of Embers and Mud

While I was walking along the stretch of Father Masterson Drive, I sent a short twit to my Twitter gateway. I wrote: “Ateneo is love.” And I meant it. It amazes me that I’ve written about my alma mater only once during my entire stay here in WordPress, considering how well-documented my love for her was in my other blogs, but then I realized that I never really got to visit my school since my last exam. “Time to change all that,” I thought to myself as I continued my leisurely walk. As Ateneo’s fresh air filled my wanting lungs, I became more and more convinced that I was going to write something about the Bonfire Event that very night.

Come Wednesday morning, and there was no blog entry in sight.

Things Kerwin did not see during the Bonfire Event: 

1. The bonfire.
2. The event. 

In fact, I wasn’t even home by the time Tuesday night ended. It was then impossible for me to write an entry about it when I was still immersed in my renewed appreciation of, not Ateneo, as I initially expected, but my friends.

Seeing close friends for the first time since forever is always an affirmation (or a test) of your closeness. I’ve always believed that your closest friends are those who are able to shrink the passage of time. An absence of one day, six months, ten years? Should not matter. Once you meet, you talk as though you’ve just met each other the day before. Only this time, the conversations are understandably longer, and the dialogues more intense. There should be no awkward silences, like you’re going on a first date; there should be no dangerous foreign ground to cover; there should be no topics too taboo to discuss.

Joey, thanks for treading the mud with me. I think we have a vacation destination in mind. I hear Siam– sorry, Thailand– is beautiful this time of the year. And maybe not as muddy as the Bel Field.

Alfie, Pancho, and Tristan, it was great reliving the old dorm ways in the new dorm. I miss Room 207 already.

Jack, really great to see you. It’s been too long. We should never extend these absences to longer than a month. Stalker-ish or freaky as this may sound, I want to know everything that’s going on in your life. Haha.

Between the controversial embers and the quicksand mud, I found warmth in the company of friends, both old and new; I found myself sucked into their stories of new adventures, and immobilized by laughter in our reminiscing of old ones; and I found myself ablaze with the vigor (and stubbornness) of a college boy at his peak. 

Needless to say, I’m glad I came.

Filed under: Being Blue, Ra, Sunshine, Testimonial, Untamed

Morning Eavesdropping

Overheard in an office cubicle at around 9 in the morning, 18th of September:

 

“Hello? Happy birthday!”

       “Thank you. Bakit ngayon ka lang tumawag? Si Kenneth tumawag 12:04 AM.”

Ha? Tulog pa ako nun, eh.

       “Ikaw ang 100th na nag-greet sa akin ngayon.

Maaga pa kaya. And besides, hindi pa tapos ang araw. May mag-g-greet pa sa’yo mamaya.

       “May tumawag nga sa akin ng 2:03 AM–”

Anong klaseng tao ang gising pa ng oras na yan?

       “Basta ikaw ang 100th na nag-greet. Regalo ko?

Di ba binigyan na kita?

       Laughter. “Yun na pala yun? Di pa nga kasya yun. Di mo ako binigyan ng pam-budget.”

Ha? Budget? Sige, budget ko sa’yo, 100,000.”

       “Asus.

Sige, uutang na lang ako pambili ng gift ko for you.”

       “Kung uutang ka, huwag na.

Anong handa niyo diyan?

       Lilting, sing-song voice: “May lechon kami mamayaaa… Tapos barbeque, isdaaa…

Inggit ako! Padalhan mo ako dito, dali! Pa-cater yan?

       “Mahal pa-cater. Kami lang magluluto.

Sinong invited?

       “Couples. At mga ka-close ko sa office.”

Si Jean pupunta?

       “Hindi ko na in-invite. Di na siya dito sa office e.

Pag di na pala ka-office di na invited?”

       “Ganun talaga.

Anong gagawin niyo sa handaan mamaya?

       “May program kami dito. May projector from roof to floor.”

Seryoso yan? Sinong host?”

       “Ako siyempre. Ako’ng may birthday e.”

Hala.

       “Tapos sa program, tatawagan ka. Phone patch. Message from Manila.”

Giggling inside, but not letting the other end hear it. “Ak! Kailangan ko mag-prepare? May ganun talaga?”

       “Tapos may 50 golden balloons. Nakasulat: ‘Happy at 50.'” Childish snickers.

Ano ba yan.

       “Happy at 50… dot com.” From snickers to roaring guffaws.

Suppressed laughter from the other end. “Malandi ka talaga, Pa.” Laughter now unsuppressed. “Sige na. Happy birthday ulit. Pakisabi kay Mama, hello.”

       “Sige. Hehe. Thank youuu…”

Babay.

       “Babay.

 

Happy 50th birthday, Papa! Hope the rest of the year gets filled with your loud laughs and corny jokes. Obviously, may pinagmanahan ang kababawan ko. Let’s swim at the shallow end more during the next few years. Love you! 🙂

Filed under: Domesticated, Sunshine, Testimonial