Old Shorts – “Too Late” (A Short Story)

It was raining quite heavily. A grey Civic drove slowly into the parking area of the airport. A young man came out. He had strong features, fair skin, and round eyes. He ran under his blue jacket through the pouring rain, towards the arrival area. At once he caught glimpse of his friend, sitting next to a pile of baggage.

“Hoy Antonio! It’s time you got here. I’ve been waiting for you for hours!” his friend jerked. His features, weaker than his friend’s, glimmered in the pale lights. He had tan skin, chinky eyes, and pale lips. “Is that the way you are going to greet me after five years we haven’t seen each other? I think the last time I saw you was at my wedding, wasn’t it?” Antonio replied, jokingly.

Yes it was, the other man thought. He remembered it bitterly, but tried not to show it. He tried to remember Andrea’s face. She seemed so happy. Very happy. And he’s giving her away to his very best friend Antonio. He tried to ask her to come back to him, but she refused.

“I’m really sorry I’m late. I got stuck in heavy traffic. So, how was your trip?” Antonio asked.

“It’s okay, but I’m really so tired. I think I’m going to be sick.” he answered.

“Maybe it’s just the weather.” Antonio said.

The rain calmed. They walked towards the car and shoved two big traveling bags and a medium sized box. They both hopped into the car, and started a long drive home. When the car got out of the airport, it began to rain heavily again. The traffic was jammed and the road was flowing with water. It will take some time for them to get home. “Are you alright, Jonathan?” Antonio asked.

“Yep, just resting.” he answered.

Antonio popped a tape into the car stereo, and the air was filled with song.

my lullaby
hung out to dry
what’s up with that
it’s over

Jonathan closed his eyes and tried to sleep. He remembered the song. It was one of the songs Andrea used to sing. He remembered Andrea. He met her back in high school. They were sophomores then. A friend introduced him to her. She was not that attractive. She’s the type that you’ll only appreciate if you look at her more closely. It also goes for her character. You’ll never appreciate her unless you know her really well. As for him, he knew her very well. He became a friend to her. He also appreciated her beauty.

The road became less congested, but the rain continued pouring. Antonio drove his car into a gasoline station, and got fueled up. Jonathan went down to find something to eat at the snack station. After fueling, Antonio parked the car in front of the snack station and got out.

Jonathan got out with a sandwich in both hands. After getting into the car, he handed Antonio the one on his left. Antonio began eating it clumsily, spilling some filling every now and then.

This is my best friend, Jonathan thought, biting into his own sandwich. They have been best friends since their first year in high school. They’re already twenty-seven, but almost nothing has changed. He could not imagine how different they were, yet how they agreed and got along with each other. He also could not imagine how Andrea got to like him. Perhaps everything Andrea couldn’t find in him, she found in his best friend. The way Antonio was so carefree about everything, while he always worried about how things will work out.

my mouth is dry
forgot how to cry
what’s up with that
you’re hurting me

The song continued playing. It lurked into Jonathan’s ears once again. He remembered the day they parted. They didn’t break up because of a terrible fight. They broke up because they realized they wouldn’t work anymore. It was before graduation. Andrea cried, but he didn’t. He was still so in love with her, and was so numb at that time to feel the pain. They broke up as friends. This was the last song that she sang to him.

An hour or so passed, without a word between the two friends. They finally got to Antonio’s house. Nobody was there. The house was so hollow, and their footsteps echoed on the walls of the spacious living room.

Antonio unloaded Jonathan’s bags into the guest room, beside the wide staircase.

“Andy! Andy! Where are you?” Jonathan searched, climbing a few steps of the stairs. Antonio glanced at Jonathan with an uncertain look.

“I really don’t know how to tell you this but,” he stuttered.

“What? Don’t tell me she’s out of town. Didn’t she even wait for me?” Jonathan asked. Long silence.

“No, Jon. She didn’t wait for you… She’s dead.” Antonio sobbed.

“Tony, you’re joking! Andrea can’t be dead! She can’t be!” Jonathan screamed. He pushed Antonio unto a wall. “You never loved her! You stole her from me! Show her to me! Where is she? Stop hiding her!” Jonathan shrieked.

“She’s dead Jonathan, and I can do no more. I loved her, if that’s what you want to know. I loved her. She’s no more now. Not yours. Not mine. Go get dressed and we’ll go to her wake together.” Antonio said.

Jonathan released his hold of his friend, and scampered to his room. Both of them dressed up and got back into the car.

why, bleeding is breathing
you’re hiding underneath the smoke in the room
try, bleeding is believing
I used to

The stereo snickered. Now he understood.

They arrived at the wake. There were many people there, with some familiar faces. Jonathan went directly to the casket. He looked into her face. She still is beautiful, even though her face was now pale and lifeless. He missed her so much. He broke down and cried. It was the first time ever he cried because of her, after the time they broke up. It has been a long time. Now it’s too late.

Antonio patted Jonathan’s back.

A tale of (two weddings in) two cities

It was my own (un)doing. Somehow I ended up attending two weddings in two far-away cities on the same weekend. I could’ve chosen one or the other, and it would’ve been alright.

“Did you really need to attend both?”, I’ve heard a few times said in different ways from different people. To be honest, I did not need to. I did not really want to do both 100%, but since I’ve gotten myself into the situation already, I decided to just go through with it just for the heck of it.

It began when a good friend of mine from college told me she was getting married, and was inviting me to her wedding. This is someone whose love life I have somehow tuned in to since college. I left the country a year ago and had no idea how her love life would turn out a year after. She finally found the love of her life, and she’s getting married. I truly wanted to show her I am happy for her and I support her. And since the flights were on sale that time, I bought plane tickets to come home to attend her wedding.

Two weeks after booking, I realised that I had a friends here in Sydney who were getting married the day after my friend’s wedding back home. A wedding in Manila on a Saturday and a wedding in Sydney on a Sunday. I really wanted to attend this wedding too, because since I have moved here, these are friends that have happily welcomed me with open arms into the group. This was my present and my future. And yet the one in Manila is also a big part of my past.

It was very tough to decide, to go to one or the other. Another consideration was the flights I have already booked, I couldn’t really cancel them because they were on promo. And I wanted the chance to go home too. But I had to decide, because I can’t really cut myself in two.

By some stroke of genius or stupidity, it dawned on my that Cebu Pacific flights from Manila to Sydney departed at midnight and arrived at noon. Both weddings were scheduled in the afternoon until the evening. If I took the flight, I could just make it in time for both. I just had an eight-hour flight in-between.


Side story. Since I decided to do the very short Manila trip, I also figured I could use the time to do some errands and see some people. One friend who has been very hard to track was a professional makeup artist. What a great chance to multitask. I was lucky that she was still free that time so I booked her to do my makeup for the wedding. Although my true intention is really to have a good chat with her after a long time. I also warned her ahead that I was planning to make my makeup last more than 24 hours. She said it could be possible with airbrush.

I did my own hair, thanks to my sister’s robotic curling iron (highly recommended!), and used my old fancy headband (which I have recently realised are actually fascinators). Turned out quite better than I expected.

It is honestly the first time, and maybe I’d also have it a last time, that I would ever do something like this. For all its worth, I documented how my makeup did through it all.

img_2354 fresh makeup at the first wedding in Manila

img_2368 on board my flight

img_2373 when I arrived home in Sydney, before retouching

img_2374 after retouch

img_2379 at the second wedding in Sydney

And yes, makeup and hair survived. I am actually quite surprised, especially with the hair. I reused almost everything, dress, shoes and bag and all.


Truly, it’s an epic story that I can recount to friends over and over again, and maybe even to my children and grandchildren in the future. I attended two weddings in two cities within less than 48 hours. If I have chosen one or the other, the story would’ve been just like any other. I am happy to be there for both my friends. And I also am fortunate to be able to do the things I was able to do during my short Manila trip and be able to see the people I saw. My heart overflows, I am recharged again.

On the downside, I really don’t think I’ll be doing anything even close to something like that ever again. That (mis)adventure revealed my limits. I’ve been a zombie and needed a week of catching up on sleep before I could really recover. That’s why it took me a week before I could write this.

I probably won’t be going home to Manila to attend weddings of my friends, unless they coincide with my other longer trips (e.g. Christmas holidays). I may need to reserve my energy for my best friends (two of whom are already married, hehe) or my closest family. I hope my other friends will understand.

Congratulations Ana and Robby!

14925733_10155312338844947_2944807511394824196_n 

Congratulations Nau and Dali!

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No regrets

I have this one friend who I met as one of our exhibit designers for The Mind Museum. When I met her, she was still a student of UP Fine Arts, or perhaps just recently graduated then. Of course, a lot has happened since then, and she became a friend. She also now works as a professional makeup artist.

There was this one time I was out with her and friends, and I could never forget a thought she told us. She realized while working on designing exhibits that she hated doing technical drawings. She didn’t enjoy doing the CAD and 3D drawings needed in the process. She says she didn’t regret working on those exhibit designs, because it made her realise the things she did not like or enjoy doing. Because of that realization, she was drawn to what she’s doing now – makeup. She didn’t need to do all those orthographic, CAD and 3D drawings to be able to do her craft now, but she’s still creating beautiful masterpieces on her clients’ faces.

Her thoughts stuck with me much more than she may realise. It’s a wonderful way of looking at things, of dealing with mistakes, wrong choices, or undesirable situations in our lives. It’s an ingenious, “no regrets” way of thinking.

We make mistakes, make wrong choices along the way. Sometimes the “right choices” do not work out. But instead of feeling hopeless and negative about it, we can just take them as life lessons. Failed relationships teach us how we are in relationship, and a little bit more on the types of people who match or do not match us. We learn about the things that we’re supposed to do more of and what we should avoid. Wrong career decisions point us back to what we really want to do, and we will hopefully know how to make better choices the next time.

Perhaps the important part of everything is knowing how to recognize the lessons that each “challenging situation” pose, and keeping these lessons to heart. This ensures that we move forwards and onwards, make better choices along the way, and not make the same mistakes again.

Dear Charity

Dear Charity,

Do you remember this? blue day book–>

It’s the blue day book you gave me many years ago. Yes, I still have it, and I found it lately whilst sorting through my stuff. Even many years after, many thanks for it, not just for that tiny booklet, but for the short but sweet message in the end.

Do you still remember that fateful day that we met? It was the first day of our freshman year in college. We were still so young, and so carefree. Don’t you miss being like that, like 17 again, and so enthusiastic and open to the world? I do remember being the first one to approach and talk to you, how lucky was I that we were seatmates during the the first day of freshman orientation. In all honesty, the me you met during that time is the real me, no pretensions.

How I miss being like that, just being very open to everyone around me. So many things have happened since. Many people have judged and treated me wrongly, taken my friendliness out of context. Bit by bit, with every disappointing moment that people have mistaken my friendliness for a desperate call for attention, I withdrew from the world and built my own shell that grew thicker with every passing moment.

Thank you for that little note in that tiny booklet that reminded me of how I used to be. I wish I can become like that again. Perhaps it is possible, since once upon a time I was so happy and enthusiastic about meeting and interacting with new people around me. I wish I can start trusting people again. I wish I can start trusting and entrusting myself to other people again.

I wish you love and happiness always. Know that even though we may have not seen each other a long time, my friendship for you remains in my heart.

It’s a small world (after all)…

The world is indeed getting smaller and smaller. In the digital technology era, internet and social media communications across the globe, and the advent of budget flights, budget accommodations, and couch surfing, we find ourselves more and more a “citizen of the world”.

I have proved this in three aspects during my trip in KL, Malaysia:


New Found Friends (NFFs)

That wonderful opportunity I had during the ASPAC conferences I attended in New Zealand in 2010 and in Singapore this year has imparted me more than just professional and career development, but a discovery of many new friends across the world. I still continue to communicate with some of them via Facebook. I was also lucky to be part of the ASPAC Future Forum this year, and was able to interact more with specific people from the entire conference. During my KL trip, I was able to meet up with my Malaysian friends Melissa and Nensi, who were my group mates for the Future Forum, and Daniel, who I’ve met during both New Zealand and Singapore conferences.

I’ll be glad to meet a few more of my ASPAC friends in other countries, probably some in Australia during my upcoming trip. I’m also hoping to find a lot more new found friends across the globe, even the people I’ve met online through my blog and my other online accounts.

Long Lost Friends (LLFs)

Not really “long lost”, but LLF is just a label we use for really old-time friends we haven’t seen for a while. While in KL, I had the opportunity to meet up with Singapore-based friends Arnold and Wenna (and yes, I’ve met up with them in Singapore last April and in Manila just recently). Isn’t it so interesting to meet up with the same friends in different places around the world? I wonder where I’ll encounter them next. Also, I was able to see Esti, who I honestly haven’t seen or spoken with in a long while. He’s working in Malaysia now. It was nice to see him again.

The “Global” Family

Without really knowing about each others’ plans, my sister and I booked separate international trips happening on the same weekend. I went to Malaysia, and she went to Cambodia with friends. My brother is based in Australia, and my parents were left back home in Manila. We have a very healthy habit of chatting with each other via iMessage when we can, and that was what we were doing during that weekend. Very interesting to have a chat with your family while on different countries.


I’ll probably be planning a lot more trips around in the next few months and years, as far as the finances permit. I would really love to see the world, meet new people, find old friends, and discover and learn many new things. Perhaps in our world now, it’s not so lonely anymore when you go away from your hometown. Well, as long as there is wifi connection wherever I am going, I’d probably be ok. :p

The KL Adventure – Part 2

(a continuation of the last post)

Pavilion MallAfter the tour, I asked to be dropped off at Bukit Bintang. I had late lunch of Asam Laksa at Old Town, and then went for a walk around. As I was resisting all and every urge to go shopping (and my credit card was completely cooperating because it wasn’t working in Malaysia), I decided to leave the Bukit Bintang area and proceed to Central Market.

Kuala LumpurUhm, but then again, Central Market is also a shopping place, but at least it wasn’t a mall. Still resisting the difficult urge to shop, I just bought a few items for my folks back home, and just a single item, a batik sarong, for myself. After Central Market, I walked to the Chinatown nearby. I was thinking of buying a few more items in Chinatown, but nothing got my fancy. Yehey wallet, you’re saved again.

Jalan Petaling

Tired from the tour, the looooooong stair climb at Batu Caves, and all the walk, I headed back to the hotel to rest a while and freshen up. After resting enough, I set off again, but not too far from the hotel. I went walking around the area of the hotel, around Jalan Raja Laut.

LomiThat evening, I decided to have some authentic local food. I saw a number of side-street restaurants just outside the hotel, so I walked to one and ordered myself a bowl of Lohmi. Oh yes, it’s so similar with the Lomi I know from back home, but I had to try. Also, I got Lime juice with salted plum for my drink, which actually tastes like calamansi juice with kiamoy in it. It was strange but yummy. 🙂

It was good to have had dinner very near the hotel, because after that I headed back and just rested the entire evening.

Woke up on the last day of my KL trip feeling refreshed, although my legs were still a bit painful from the day before. I remembered that it was a Sunday (actually, my parents reminded me the night before), so I went online to find a Catholic Church nearby and attend mass. I showered and dressed up, had breakfast at the hotel, and then took a taxi to the church nearby. After the mass, I went back to the hotel and finished packing, and then checked out. I brought all my stuff with me to KLCC.

Suria KLCCI met up again with Daniel at KLCC. He works at Petrosains, together with Nensi and Melissa, and all of them I met during the ASPAC conference. Daniel and Nensi took me around Petrosains.

After going around Petrosains, Daniel took me to a food place nearby, to be able to try a few more Malaysian food. This time we had Indian-Malaysian food, consisting of biryani rice, curry, deep-fried bitter gourd, and some fried maggi. I really fell in love with that deep-fried bitter gourd, because I have never eaten amplaya that good. He also got teh tarik for my drink, and corrected me and explained that teh tarik is really taken hot, not cold (because I thought I have tried cold teh tarik somewhere in Sg or Manila maybe?).

After lunch, we had a walk around KLCC and KLCC park. There are wonderful views of the Petronas Towers from the park.

KLCC park

With time almost running out, we went back inside Suria KLCC and sat down for some coolers – ais campur and kedondong juice. Yumyum! Melissa came and caught up with us. It was wonderful to see Melissa even just for a short while.

Kedondong juice

After the snack, it was time for me to leave for the airport already. I bid goodbye to my friends at Petrosains, took a taxi to the Sentral Station, and took the train-shuttle connection back to LCCT airport.

Such a short trip, only a little bit over two days, but I had so many new experiences, new places visited, and new food savored. Everyone was telling me that a weekend is not enough to experience all that KL has to offer. I answer them simply, this won’t be my last visit to the city. Now that I have a taste or a teaser of it, I can plan my future trips better.

Many thanks to Daniel for helping me plan my trip and my destinations during this short trip, and also for the warm welcome and the wonderful food! Much appreciated. I’ll be at your service when you decide to visit Manila next time. It was also great to see Nensi and Melissa, and I’m hoping I’ll get to see them both again and maybe longer the next time I visit KL. 🙂

And because I couldn’t fit all the nice photos in the post, you can just check them out in my Picasa album.

The KL Adventure – Part 1

Perhaps it just happened that I’ve wanted to go on a personal adventure for the longest time; or maybe because I have new found friends (NFFs) in that city; or perhaps because I keep on seeing a lot of things about that place on cable TV. Whatever the real reason was, I booked my flights and my hotel, and though I hesitated and had thoughts of postponing the trip, I did push through. I’m so glad I did.

I arrived in Kuala Lumpur on the evening of August 24. It was my first time there, and I was alone, but eager and ready to start my adventure. I was really aiming for a budget trip, to spend the least I could but still be comfortable and safe enough.

Kuala lumpur LCCT Airport

Instead of taking the taxi from the (LCCT) airport to my hotel, which would have costed between RM80-90, I took the shuttle-train connection from LCCT to KL Sentral Station, and took a short taxi trip from the Sentral Station to the Hotel. I spent less than RM30.

I stayed at Citrus Hotel. It wasn’t in Bukit Bintang or around KLCC, but right within the city and not too far away. It was a 15min taxi ride from most locations around the city. Around the city, I did travel mostly via taxis, since I am not too familiar to feel safe taking the regular public transport yet.

First agenda for that trip fell on the evening of my arrival. I met up with my Malaysian friend Daniel at the Pavilion Mall along Bukit Bintang. He gave me a really nice welcome dinner, and immediately introduced me to Malaysian food. I particularly remember the beef rendang and the satay… and he did teach me how satay was traditionally eaten.

Early morning the next day, I was awoken by the ringing of my hotel phone. Ah, yeah, I was expecting some people. My friends Arnold and Wenna, who were based in Singapore, were also in town and they just arrived then in KL. Another old friend, Esti, was apparently based in Malaysia, and was also with them when they came to meet up with me. We had a quick breakfast buffet together, the four of us, before I had to fly off to my arranged tour for the day.

National Mosque

I pre-arranged a tour with the hotel, and this particular one had a number of key destinations around the city, as well as a visit to the Batu Caves, around 30 minutes from the city. First destination was the National Mosque (Masjid Negara), for which I needed to put on a cape and a head scarf before I can enter the mosque.

The next destination was the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery and the Merdeka Square. It was a good overview of the history and culture of Malaysia and the city of Kuala Lumpur. Also, it was a week before the National Day of Malaysia, and there were practices and preparations happening in the Merdeka Square, an important landmark and center of national activities.

Next was Istana Negara, or the palace of the Agong (or the incumbent national King) of Malaysia. Malaysia as a country has a number of Kings or Sultans, each of which reigns over specific areas or states in Malaysia. One of these sultans is assigned as the Agong, whereas this role is rotated around the different sultans. Unfortunately, the public is not allowed inside the Istana Negara, so we just took pictures outside.

The next is the most significant destination of my journey, in terms of mass, time, as well as energy and effort spent. We went to the Batu Caves. The Batu caves are a series of Hindu temples built into and around large limestone cliffs and caves. At the entrance is the 42.7 m high golden statue of Lord Muruga. There are 272 steps from the ground to the main temple, and yes, I did climb the entire thing. Inside of the cave was a wonderful mix of natural limestone formations from the 100m high cave, as well as the cultural and religious structures and images of hindu gods inside.

From the Batu Caves, we made our way to the Royal Selangor Pewter factory. They are the biggest manufacturer of pewter, which is an alloy made of tin, antimony, and copper. Apparently, the British were drawn to Malaysia especially because of the abundance of Tin in the natural resources of the country.

Last destination was Beryl Chocolate Store. Although I didn’t have plans of buying any, I had a taste of their special tiramisu milk chocolates, and they were superb! I ended up buying a bag of chocolates for me and the family back home.

(to be continued in the next post)