We got a BlackBerry. Seemed silly not to use it. We’d have to change our mobile phone plan, though, to be able to use all the BlackBerry’s features. This would mean going to the telco’s office at the mall and queueing up, probably for hours. Not an appetizing idea.
Or we could call the telco’s hotline. Also not an appetizing idea. In our experience transacting through the hotline is a soul-sucking experience. We do not like what it triggers in us. Every single time we have called Customer Service (ha ha ha ha ha Ha Ha HA HA HA) we have tried to murder someone through telekinesis.
However we weighed potential benefits vs aggravation and decided to give the hotline a try. It took us 8 minutes to figure out which number option to press, but once we reached a human operator it was surprisingly easy. Changing our postpaid plan took 5 minutes. According to the operator, “alignment would take 24 hours”. It was amazing!
So amazing that we called the hotline again to have our rewards points applied to our phone bill. Again it was surprisingly easy. Took 5 minutes. Afterwards we just had to text our sister to share our amazement.
The text wouldn’t go through. We tried again. No go. We kept trying. We tried texting other people.
We could not send text messages to anyone.
Could this possibly have to do with our pending request to the telco to change our postpaid plan? We dialed the hotline again.
“We can’t seem to text.”
“Upon checking, the issue is connected to your request to upgrade your plan. Alignment takes 24 hours.”
“You mean we won’t be able to text for 24 hours?”
“Not necessarily, but alignment takes 24 hours.”
“You could’ve mentioned that when we made the request.”
“Alignment takes 24 hours.”
“What if we’re expecting an important call?”
“You will receive calls, you just can’t text.”
“We knew it!!! It was too easy!!! There had to be a catch!!!”
We hung up before we could try to murder anyone telekinetically.
I always seek your advice every time I go through emotional stress. I wrote you twice before and you just have the right words.
Going to my story: I had a guy friend whom I knew for 6 years. I met him through a girl friend. The guy friend, let’s call him Octavio, and I were close. But we just went out thrice during those 6 years. We used to exchange text messages and emails. Four years ago he left the country to work abroad. After that I never heard from him. But when he came home in 2009, he called me up and we met for dinner. It was fun and I was comfortable being with him.
When he left we still communicated. He is a responsible man, a good son and a reliable friend. Fast forward to 2010. I left the country too. The country he lives in now is just a one-hour plane ride from the country where I am. He called me and we exchanged emails. We talked about our plans.
For my birthday this year, I invited him to come over. I thought he would never take my invitation seriously. He said he would but I never believed him. On my birthday I received a phone call from him: he was at the airport! I was happy that he remembered me. So he came to the house and joined the party with my family and friends. During the party, while I was in the kitchen, I heard my friends ask Octavio, “Why are you here? Do you like her?”
I heard Octavio say that he liked me and he planned to move to my country or ask me to move to his. Octavio went back home that night. You will tell me, “Haba ng hair mo! Pumunta lang para sa birthday mo! Gumastos pa ng air ticket!” Well I don’t care. When he left, my high school friend Jolli, started asking me if I liked the guy. She told me that I should like him because I’m already 26 and I might end up a spinster. She even told me, “If I had no boyfriend now and Octavio came along, I would get Octavio”. I said, “Then go get him.”
Jolli even told me, “Ang arte-arte mo, feeling mo ang ganda-ganda mo. Bakit ang choosy-choosy mo?” She kept telling me that for the entire night. Nakakapika. But okay, since we were friends, I had to be patient.
A day after my birthday, I emailed Octavio expressing my gratitude. The email exchange led to his saying that he loved me and that he wanted me to move to his country or he could move to mine. (Did I ever approve of that? Did I ever say I liked him back? NO!). He told me, “I thought we had something.” (Assuming?) And after that email I never spoke to him again. Never.
I realized I don’t like Octavio. I don’t care if I end up being an old maid. First, Octavio never confessed his feelings for me in person. Yes, he told my friends about it, and he emailed me, but never told me straight to my face. And his plan of having me move to his country? If I liked him, I might consider it. But no, I will never do that. He told me, “I thought we had something, I’ve known you for almost 6 years, I thought that was enough.” I may be sweet but sorry, I was not flirting.
And I was so offended by what Jolli said. It was not the first time she told me “Ang arte-arte mo, feeling mo, ang ganda-ganda mo.” It would be okay if she said that twice or thrice but she kept repeating it. And I feel humiliated whenever her friends hear it.
Auntie Janey, after that birthday I haven’t spoken with Octavio and or gone out with Jolli. My attitude is, I can go on with my life without talking to you or seeing you for centuries. And I don’t know why I am so good at that. Do you think I am a bitch?
“What are beeches for but to beech around fellow beeches.”
You must be stunningly beautiful. If Helen of Troy’s face could launch a thousand ships, yours could make a man buy a plane ticket.
Based on your narration of facts (we have no way of getting the guy’s side of the story), Octavio was too presumptuous for comfort. You did the right thing.
Expecting something in return for something is standard in business and professional relationships. It is how business is done. But intentionally doling out gifts or going out of your way to do a favor because you are expecting to get friendship or love is just sad and manipulative.
In friendship or in love, you give because you want to give. Not because you wanted a gift or something else in return. If you desperately want a gift, buy one for yourself. And in case you desperately need romancing, there’s, um, self-sufficiency.
Lately I have learned to be wary of people who generously give me stuff without the slightest provocation. Most of the time these people employ the utang na loob technique. After giving you stuff, these people proceed to treat you like crap and expect you to be subservient. Ex-friends, relatives and certain acquaintances have done and are attempting to do this to me. I think that my reputation of being a dick and an ingrate is slowly spreading, much to my delight.
I also approve of your disengaging yourself from bitter Jolli. It’s nice to have friends who will honestly point out your flaws for your sake. But there are those who attempt to impose their values on you or make you feel inadequate for their own selfish reasons. One should learn to identify and avoid the latter group. Friends pull you back in when you are losing your way. Slave drivers tie you to their carts and whip you if you stumble on the way to their destination.
Keep your interactions with bitter people to a minimum. They have the habit of dousing your joy and infecting you with their negativity. Nakakapanget sila. Always think of your happiness. Self-interest always governs all.
Would you like Auntie Janey to meddle in your life? Email email@example.com.
Us: Why are people having Thanksgiving dinner in Manila?* Did their ancestors arrive on the Mayflower? Did they give the natives smallpox blankets? (That came later though)
Noel: Hahahaha! Because if the Mayflower never arrived, we would never have been colonized. And we would never have discovered Hollywood.
Us: So we celebrate the colonization of our colonizer?
Noel: Mismo! We are that grateful.
Us: Nakiki-colonize, nakiki-genocide…
Noel: That’s it! We’re always nakiki-something.
Noel: Kurak! In films, nakiki-edgy. In music, nakiki-hip-hop.
Us: We have a theory.
* Unless they are American or grew up in America or didn’t get the memo about Philippine independence or working for American companies so they get the day off or running restaurants patronized by Americans.
Habang binabasa namin ang yugtong ito, naaalala namin ang mga nobela ni Agatha Christie kung saan may napaslang sa gitna ng pagtitipon sa isang malaking bahay at isa-isang kinakausap ni Hercule Poirot ang mga panauhin upang mahuli ang salarin. (Na siya ring napansin ng isa sa mga tauhan sa The Stranger’s Child.) Nguni’t matagal nang pumanaw at nailibing ang biktima: sampung taon na ang nakaraan mula nang mamatay si Cecil Valance sa Pransya noong WWI. Ang kanyang pagkamatay ay nalathala sa mga pahayagan, siya ay tinaguriang bayani, at mismong si Winston Churchill ang gumamit ng ilang linya mula sa kanyang pinakatanyag ng tulang “Two Acres” sa isang artikulo sa Times.
Sa ikasampung anibersaryo ng pagkamatay ni Cecil, nagtipon-tipon ang kanyang pamilya’t kaibigan sa Corley Court, hacienda ng mga Valance. Naroon ang nanay ni Cecil, si Lady Valance (“Ang Heneral”), at ang batang Lady Valance—si Daphne, na asawa na ngayon ng kapatid ni Cecil na si Dudley. Si Dudley ay isa ring manunulat, guapo, tila masayahin kundi may pangungutya at panunumbat ang kanyang pananalita. Napilayan siya noong giyera. Ang kanilang mga anak na sina Corinna at Wilfrid ay ipinaubaya nila sa isang Yaya.
Kabilang rin sa mga panauhin si George Sawle at ang asawa nitong si Madeleine, at si Sebastian Stokes, isang pulitiko na tagahanga ni Cecil. Napakalaking tagahanga, at magiging editor ng “Collected Poems” ni Cecil Valance. Plano ni Stokes na kausapin ang lahat ng kamag-anak at pamilya ng makata para sa libro. Naalala din namin yung mga “confrontation scene” sa pelikulang Pilipino kung saan nagpapalitan ng insulto at pasaring ang dalawang babaeng magkaagaw sa iisang lalaki. Nguni’t dahil nobelang Ingles ito, sa halip na magtarayan sina “Sebby” at George, pareho nilang tinatago ang kanilang tunay na damdamin para kay Cecil at sinasabing kaibigan lamang ang turing nila dito. Chos! Kaya pala noong naglalakad-lakad si George sa Corley Court naalala niya yung silid kung saan bigla siyang tinalon ni Cecil at hinalikan. Nakakaaliw din ang eksena kung saan nag-uusap sina George at Sebby sa kapilya sa tabi ng “effigy” (istatwa) ni Cecil at pinupuna ang mga kamalian ng iskultor.
Napuna ninyo ang pagkakahawig ng The Stranger’s Child sa Brideshead Revisited ni Evelyn Waugh. (Larawan: Sina Jeremy Irons at Anthony Andrews sa TV series na Brideshead Revisited. Kasama nila ang teddy bear ni Sebastian na si Aloysius.)
Noong si Daphne naman ang inuusisa ni Sebby, pinapalabas din niya na wala siyang alam tungkol sa tunay na saloobin ni Cecil. Nguni’t inamin niya na inalok siya nito ng kasal.
Panauhin din si Gng Freda Sawle at ang kaibigan nitong si Gng Clara Kalbeck, na may sakit at nahihirapan nang maglakad. Alam ni Gng. Sawle ang lahat—natagpuan niya ang mga sulat ni Cecil kay George, at noong tinanong niya ang anak tungkol sa kanilang relasyon, sinabi ni George na hindi na siya uulit. Pagkatapos nga ay nagpakasal ito kay Madeleine, isang babaeng tuod. Ang panganay ni Gng. Sawle, si Hubert, ay namatay sa digmaan, at ipinagbili na nila ang “Two Acres”. Sa pagkakaalam ni George ay nawala na ang mga sulat ni Cecil, nguni’t na kay Gng Sawle ang lahat at pinag-iisipan nito kung dapat silang isauli kay George.
Naroon din sa Corley Court si Gng. Eva Riley, ang decorator na kinomisyon ni Dudley upang baguhin ang anyo ng lumang bahay, at si Revel Ralph, isang artist. Masyadong maikli ang palda ni Eva at tila nais agawan ng asawa si Daphne.
Nagkaroon ng salu-salo, inuman, at sayawan. Sinubukan ng mga anak ni Daphne na tumugtog ng piano at magsayaw, nguni’t binulyawan sila ng kanilang ama. Lasing na lasing si Dudley at bumagsak mula sa kanyang upuan. Habang nagbibihis ito ay bigla niyang hinalikan ang kanyang asawa, na ikinagulat ni Daphne dahil matagal na silang walang pakialam sa isa’t isa. Lalo pang nagulat si Daphne nang magtapat si Eva ng pagnanasa para sa kanya. Hindi pala ang asawa niya ang gusto nito.
Lasing na rin sina Daphne at Revel nang pumunta sila sa silid ng mga bata; kahit tulog na ang mga ito ay nagbasa siya ng bedtime story. Pagkatapos ay pumunta sina Daphne at Revel sa ibang silid at naghalikan. Kahit alam ni Daphne na mas gusto ni Revel na makipaghalikan sa ibang lalaki.
Kinaumagahan, natagpuan ni Wilfrid si Gng Kalbeck sa kanyang silid, patay. Hinanap niya ang kanyang ama, at natagpuan si Dudley sa kuwarto na kasama si Yaya.