[Lah-eee-yah, apparently – not “free”.]
I can’t swim, and I’m too terrified to stay submerged in the water for even a few seconds, so I don’t know why I kept coming back to the ocean.
But what the heck – I love my high school friends. This was the bunch of people who elected me class president for two consecutive years, which makes me love them more because that just proved that they’re all insane.
Anyway it all began with a badminton game, a meal at Jabi (we will always have a soft spot for Jabi), running into Gale somewhere in Malolos, and before I knew it my mail’s being flooded with itineraries and a desperate plea for a kawali and a forum about yuppie life. After the grievance board was erased we went back to itineraries and a debate about canned goods.
Final head count was 17, and we’re off to Laiya.
No airplane involved, and it wasn’t exactly a crazy roadtrip, but hey, it was still a big deal. All through high school and college we suffered through pool parties in this Bulacan resort that made my skin itch afterwards.
The entire ride was like a sitcom and it was exactly what I needed.
I felt sorry for the driver, who now probably thinks I actually keep a battery-operated toothbrush that I don’t use for brushing (wink). Kuya, ako’y mahilig magsulat, at magbantay sa paglubog ng araw; nais ko sanang ipagtanggol ang aking puri’t dignidad pero kebs, ‘di ko naman siya kilala.
At one point we stopped to ask how to get to the resort, and the guy said something that I swear sounded like “Angelina”. Basta drug store daw, tapos kumanan. Minutes later, while we were still craning our necks and wondering where this supposed “Angelina” was, Jayson became rather animated and pointed angrily out the window, na para bang hindi namin kayang mag-U turn. Chos lang. Sabi ko, “Nasaan?!?” kasi hindi ko talaga makita.
When we made the turn I saw this sign:
FARMACIA ABGELINA pala, pota. At kumusta ang sign ng landmark na ‘yan, ano.
So eventually we got to the resort.
Seventeen people in one room – gotta love it. The water was cold, we brought sand everywhere; later the food was prepared and we had to burn my Medicard memorandum (ewan, nasa backpack ko eh, ‘wag mo ‘kong husgahan) and Ghia’s brown envelope just to ready the coals.
The rice was perfect, and so was the fish – seriously I didn’t know fish could be that soft. Love. There was liempo, and kamatis and itlog na maalat and tuna and bananas and mango and I just made myself hungry, great. Later on, inuman na! Labingdalawa yata kaming naghati-hati sa vodka (2 bottles) at brandy (2 bottles nga rin yata) na iced tea at Coke ang chaser, saka Red Horse (2 bottles, masarap din pala ang beer kapag sobrang lamig. ‘Di ko kasi masyadong type ang beer). Labingdalawa. Paano ka naman malalasing ‘di ba.
Pero nalasing ako eh, wala na. Loser. Sa totoo lang, wala na akong masyadong maalala sa (mga) pinagusapan noong gabing ‘yon. Ang naaalala ko lang, niyayakap ko si Maricon, o minsan yung basyong bote ng Coke, tapos nung nag-CR ako akala ko butiki yung nasa dingding tangena palaka pala tangena may palaka sa CR, tapos kapag makakatulog na ako hinihila ni Richard yung buhok ko, tapos may nagtanong sa akin kung gusto ko na bang mag-kape, tapos alam ko may tinanong akong lalaki kung open siya sa isang gay relationship tapos sabi niya oo raw pero di ko na maalala kung sino yun. Sino kaya yun.
So anyway, the next day, boating, snorkeling.
I loved the wind, and the view, but not the thought of being left in the middle of the sea. When we got off, I refused to let go of the side of the boat. Ayoko na, shet, isa itong malaking pagkakamali. Gracezel said I’m safe, I have a life vest on, but seriously, I really believed at that moment that if I let go of the boat I would sink to the bottom. While making my way around the boat, Richard said, “O Eliza, bakit ka nagra-rapelling diyan?” Later on I realized that hey I’m actually floating I am so amazed, and I was handed the snorkeling gear, but I still couldn’t breathe that well – I only saw a snapshot of corals, some blue fish.
Now I am certain that I will never scuba-dive, and that the worst thing that can happen to me is to be left in the middle of an ocean with a life vest. Mas maganda yung wala nang life vest, or imbes na life vest blade na lang o lason. If this is a phobia and the only cure is to throw me into a body of water, then I’ll stick with my phobia, thank you very much.
The ride home was quieter, dahil pagod na ang lahat. I saw Kuya Driver glancing at June and Richard (who were asleep) and shaking his head, na para bang hindi siya makapaniwala na kaya pala namin tumahimik.
That was fun, had a great time. Everyone’s changed, somehow, pero kantyawan pa rin kapag may nagsabi ng “Yah” or “Oh fuck”. Bawal ang “yah” at “oh fuck”, binabalatan ang umi-Ingles. The other batches in our high school seemed fragmented, and I’ve always wondered why the members of our batch are still great friends. I’m thinking one day all my former classmates would be paired off, and I’d be left somewhere in the periphery. Well and good, what can you do right, but I’ll always appreciate an invitation to a cup of coffee or two.
Basta lang hindi ako tinatamad, or hindi ako naglilinis ng kwarto or nagbabasa or nagsusulat or nanonood ng DVDs, or doing some other dorky thing. No wonder nalasing ako kahit more than ten people ang naghati-hati sa kakarampot na alcohol. Anobayan.
(Photos from Maple, Gale, June, Melai. :) )