Tuesday, May 19, 2009

on being a yaya

(For all of you)

At first, it was not exactly what I pictured myself doing in the city of gentle people. Especially in May. With the dusty roads surrounding Silliman University flipped upside down, parading a bunch of tourists is not a good idea. But it turned out to be fine; perhaps, even more than fine. The experience was fulfilling.

The oldest creative writing workshop in Asia, now on its 48th year, has just baptized another batch of capable writers: Bea Nakpil, Mo Francisco, Keith Cortez, Philip Kimpo, Jr., Ynna Abuan, Marck Rimorin, Jonathan Gonzales, Niño Manaog (Lolo!), Stan Geronimo, Petra Magno, Arkaye Kierulf, Maoui Stuart del Rosario, Aleck Maramag, Gabriel Millado and Joy Rodriguez. Though I haven’t attended that much bashing of workshop batches, I’d proudly say this group was good (sans the dirt that was messily cleaned).

But aside from the daily workshop sessions, of course, there’s the much needed breather during the breaks and the weekends. Last year, our batch had the veritable Moses Atega (or Kuya Mo) who, I guess, toured many of the previous fellows in and out of the city. For this year, the guy’s island-hopping! And like the force of a fate’s pummeling gavel, a strange thought struck me hard: ako nalang kaha? That I did.

There was no planned itinerary on each day, actually. I don’t usually plan. Spontaneity has been my buddy these days. What they want, I’d show or provide it to them—but except for Ynna’s pleadings that I’d be her Dumaguete love catch. Pointing out historical tidbits of this monument or that structure, remembering the nearest beer stations, outmaneuvering thick crowds to lead the group to the nearest shirt sellers and, most of all, enlightening them to the real wonder of the city, which is, to quote former fellow Marguerite de Leon, the abundance of “disturbingly cheap” food, the job of being a guide was like second nature to me especially that I lived in the city for four slow years. And because of all the pointing, I hastily brushed up my mental compass. The sharp turns in the campus, check. The familiar labyrinth that is the university town, check. The numinous island of Siquijor, check. Check. Check. Check.

Of course, I just can’t lose the fellows or else Myrna Peña-Reyes, Cesar Ruiz Aquino, Gemino Abad, Sarge Lacuesta, J. Neil Garcia, Juaniyo Arcellana, Ernesto Superal Yee, Rosario Cruz Lucero or Susan Lara will remain petrified on the semi-cold chairs in Katipunan Hall 1, scratching his/her head in utter confusion for such mass disappearance. But Dumaguete is a small town and it is everyone’s advantage—not only mine. What happened next, after nights and days of pedicab-traversing and sidewalk-strolling, was something that led me to receive a special prize on the culmination night last May 15.

“Yaya of the Year Award.”

I am not used to flattery of such kind but these guys, or otherwise collectively known as the 1st Siquijor Personality Workshop Fellows, floored me with sweet embarrassment. Well, who wouldn’t be if you are donned with a shiny floral apron that disturbingly matched your crisp floral long sleeves? Seriously, the humorous honor made my visit to Dumaguete more memorable than my countless futile trips to the registrar office in order to procure my transcript of records. Believe me, it is. Though I didn’t actually yaya-ized every single fellow, I know I’ve exerted enough effort I don’t usually share to people I got acquainted with in approximately fifteen days.

The morning after their rite of passage into the world of serious writing, a variety of things were shared: contact numbers, email addresses, photos, cigarette smoke and more cigarettes smoke. Much later I escorted some of the fellows to the airport and heard the whistling of this huge metallic bird that would soon head towards the north. One last wave and I went back to my humble spot.

I stayed and pondered on things left only in the amusement of my imagination. As the days continue to shed its youth and I consistently turn the pages of the calendar, I know the month of May would show up again. But I wouldn’t be waxing sadness here for it would be the particular month that I’d remember giving the fellows a ride in the 7-seater Dumaguete tricycle to anywhere they please, perspiring from the summer heat, but with a smile forming on my face.

1 comment:

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Very inspiring! Keep it up!