Thursday, June 09, 2011

variations of a smile

May 20 – Last Day, Gala Night

Friday, six in the morning. I woke up way before a single soul stirred in the apartment. Thursday night was something not to be missed, so a few of the golden ones stayed in the city. When all had their drinks until the early hours of dawn, I ushered all of the “overnighters” to my humble abode. It was SOP. They were momentarily my orphans.

That morning, I led them to Bethel Guest House to hitch on the war bus and get back to Valencia for the last workshop session, along with the students from the University of Iowa. I met Robin Hemley, the lead coordinator of the delegates, and he said the bus won’t be leaving until nine. Bullfrogs. The fellows had to return before the said hour. Since I could not think of any other way of hauling eight lethargic people to the mountains, I straightened myself up, approached Mr. Hemley, and asked if we could go ahead to the village, that the bus would be returning for them by nine-fifteen. He obliged with a smile.

Yes, being a feelerette has its plus points. If not for that, future workshops would probably bar me for imparting delinquency to the fellows.


Just when I was slowly sinking deep into my nap, the alarm rang. It was fifteen minutes before four o’clock. After a late lunch at KRI with Kirpal Singh, Alfred Yuson, Gemino Abad, Cesar Ruiz Aquino, and Ceres Abanil (of which, we were later joined in by Peachy Paderna and Misael Ondong), I thought of taking a short rest. It was short indeed.

I turned off the alarm, dressed up, and set off straight to Claire Isabel McGil Luce Auditorium for Gaudeamus, the workshop’s closing Gala Night. There was a whirlwind of distractions happening in the previous days that I was caught off-guard by the actuality of tonight’s gathering. This is the closing event. I didn’t exactly know what to feel. When I entered the auditorium, wherein almost everyone’s in there, I knew what I was feeling. I went hurriedly to my seat, greeting people I know along the way with a smile that seemed heavy than the usual.


Suddenly, the golden ones were gone. There were no long hugs, teary eyes, and sloppy farewell pronouncements. Something was keeping my attention that time after the dinner in the lobby when I noticed the fellows were all on the bus, ready to return to the village. I stopped and waved my arms from the distance hoping this conveyed everything I wanted to say. Stay, I thought, but then again, I supposed they should go. As how many wordsmiths wrought it, distance would keep our ties stronger. I waved once more, hollered my parting words, and capped it with a smile. That I guess was enough.


Blue Monkey Grill was perhaps the vacuum of all things good that night. We were drawn to the place like moths to a flame. (But there was no burning, thankfully). The Iowans were there, most of the panelists were there (yes, including Sawi), and the alumni were there—even those who didn’t turn up in the previous jamborees: Anthony Tan, Ed Cabagnot, Israfel Fagela, Francesca Kwe, Kris Lacaba, Nicolo Vitug, Aaron Jalalon, Carlo Flordeliza, Ida del Mundo, and many more.

It was fun to be in the company of both like and unlike minds, minds that at least had one thing in common, which was the desire to read and write. Except for the inevitable setbacks, we wondered when would be the next gathering of this scale, of this shared unpretentious connection, of this same familial atmosphere, and we continued wondering. All of a sudden, Peachy Paderna broke out crying because, even after a couple of years, it still pained her to witness the parting all over again. Of course, like any consoling brothers and sisters of the family, we gave her a hug. We will meet soon. There will always be next time.
And then she smiled

The next day, I lost my comb.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 |

No comments: