"Di mo lang alam/ Naiiisip kita/ Baka sakali lang maisip mo ako/ Di mo lang alam/ Hanggang sa gabi inaasam makita kang muli"
It has been months since I saw Rich. Rich and I have been friends for a long time. We met when I was still in college, at the State University. It was during the latter part of the first sem. It was raining hard that afternoon, and most of my morning classes were already cancelled. Instead of going home right away, i decided to go to my last class for the day, NatSci 1, which was at 1:00pm. I didn't have anything planned for that day anyway, I just might hang out with Ivy for dinner along Katipunan.
1:05pm, the professor was still MIA. He usually comes in on the dot, much to our dismay. After the tenth time looking at my watch, wishing it was already 1:15pm so i can leave, Rich came in. He went in with his head bent, as I had seen him do at least thrice since the sem started. He made the wrong decision signing up for a class in NCPAG right before our NatSci 1 class, which has held in the CS Lib. NCPAG is like, on the other side of the world, and it's really difficult to take the Ikot, because the jeeps are already full by the time they pass by that area.
His tardiness has made him a class favorite because everytime he would come in, Mr. Reyes, our professor would say, "Thanks for coming to class on time Mr. Marquez." Exactly like that.
That day was different, for there was no professor to tell him that. When he raised his face to look at the board, he immediately smiled when he realized the prof was not there. Oh, that smile. If I were the professor, I would forgive him for being tardy in exchange of that smile. The thing with Rich is that, when he smiles, his eyes also smile with him. Smize, i think is what it's called now? Those droopy/puppy eyes. I die.
he might have caught me staring at him because he started walking towards my direction. We've been seat mates for a couple of times and I found out that he did not like Chemistry. Ehem, Chemistry major here. As soon as he sat down to my right he said, "I hope he doesn't come."
"I'll pray for that," I said. "Wow, that's very Jamie Sullivan," said he.
"You read the book?" I asked, to which he replied with "You watched the movie?"
That was the start of our story. Since that day, we've been very good friends. At some point, people thought we were together, but no. He dropped hints a couple of times, but I deferred.
"Andrew?" he asked while we were reviewing at Fruit Magic in Katips.
"Have you ever felt so strongly about anyone, but you find yourself pulling back because you think having a relationship with that person will ruin the friendship?"
Yes. But i didn't say that. Hanging out with him was the best part of my day, week, month, sem! At the time, I was wary because it was just a few months ago when he broke up with his high school boyfriend who attended a different school. His ex thought UP was, well, so public.
"Hmmm..." I said, "No. I always put friends in the friend zone. Alam mo naman yan di ba?" I saw a slight frown in his face.
"Even if you really like that person?"
"Yeah. Friends are friends. Who are we talking about anyway?"
"Oh, no one. I just thought about it. Well, err, i have a high school friend who asked. Anyway, it's not important. I'm hungry. You want sandwiches?" The topic came up once in a while, but i was more focused on my exams. Each time he brought it up, i would say, "Sino ba nagugustuhan mo?" He would say, "Curious lang."
I wished then that he would be more forward about it. I didn't want hints. Maybe I was assuming too much, but I somehow felt he was talking about us. One day, I got my wish.
"Drew, if I told you I liked you, maniniwala ka ba?"
"Rich, we're friends, how can you say that?" As i puffed on my cigarette.
"Nothing. I'm just kidding. I just wanted to see your reaction if I told you I liked you, hypothetically."
I clammed up. We were quiet for a few minutes. There were a lot of questions that i wanted to ask. He was getting shifty too. I couldn't bear asking him to repeat the question. If i said yes, will he ask if we could be together? I realized he hasn't told me about anyone he was dating. Well, me too. I haven't been going out with anybody.
But that was the last time he asked me that. Unfortunately for me, I kept wishing he would ask me again. Even years after we finished school, I knew my love for him was getting stronger.
I never dated anyone. I kept on waiting for him to ask me again. When we're out with friends, I never drink. I just let him. I did that in the hopes of him getting really drunk that he would ask me out again. But he never did. In one of our nights out, he met Vince.
They hit it off quite fast. I must admit that Vince was adorable. He was like me, only skinny. We all listened to the same songs, watched the same movies, went to the same bars, memorized the right Spice Girls songs, etc. He was perfectly like me. A few weeks later, i received a call from Rich.
"Drew? I have something to tell you."
"I asked Vince if we could go steady."
"Wow.." and in my award winning performance for my whole life I said, "I am sooooo happy to hear that! Congratulations my friend! I knew you would end up together. He's perfect for you!..." and I rambled on and on. I stopped when i realized he was quiet.
"Rich, I'm happy for you, really, " I said.
"Paano ka? Gusto ko masaya ka rin?" "Rich, we've been friends for a long time! You know i'll be happy soon. I'll find someone too..."
"But when?" "Soon Rich. My time will come."
It never did. I have been working and working for the past years. Rich and Vince have been together for almost half a decade. Sometimes, we go out as a group. I never went out with them where I'm the third wheel. I always come up with excuses, or I call our other friends and ask them if they would go. If they won't, I tell him I'm sick or busy prepping for a presentation.
"Nagtapos ang lahat sa di inaasahang pahanon/ At ngayon ako'y iyong iniwan/ Luhaan, sugatan, 'di mapakinabangan/ Sana'y nagtanong ka lang/ Kung 'di mo lang alam/ Sana'y nagtanong ka lang/ Kung 'di mo lang alam"
That charade went on for a long time. The more their relationship blossomed, the more I became miserable. I started writing poems for him. I kept a blog and posted all my entries there. One time, he saw them while using my laptop.
"Dude, Drew, you're a really good writer! Is that what you learned from talking to Americans all day?"
"What do you mean? What are you doing with my laptop?"
He stood up and held my laptop into my face. "These poems! These are really good! Are you in love my friend???" He was extra eager with all the questions.
"No, just got inspired with the movies I've been watching lately. Julia Roberts moment. You know that."
"Oh... I thought..." "No. Not in love."
"Drew, aren't you sad? It's been a long time... Since college, you haven't had a boyfriend since then..."
"I was busy remember? And I spent almost all my years in college with you..." I stopped. "...and our other friends..."
"Oh yeah... Speaking of... That might have to stop... Vince and I are moving to Cebu."
I was shocked. He never travels. He's a Manila boy all the way. What was happening???
"Vince's dad is letting him manage their business in Cebu. He wants to put what he learned in college into good use. Drew, he wants me to help him there. I'll be the store manager for one of their grocery stores in the city..."
"Wow, looks like you got it all figured out... Do you love him that much..." I trailed off on the last word.
"Drew, you know I love Vince. If there's anything else that would be greater than that love then i'd stay..." Then the bastard looked me straight in the eye.
Oh, those eyes. I wanted to tell him don't go. Stay. Stay with me. Stay here. But I didn't.
"If you love Vince that much, then go..."
That was our last conversation. They were set to leave days after that last talk. I pretended to be really busy, and didn't see them go.
"Ako'y iyong nasaktan/ Baka sakali lang maisip mo naman/ Hindi mo lang alam/ Kay tagal na panahon/ Ako'y nandirito pa rin hanggang ngayon para sa'yo"
11 months have passed since they moved. Surprisingly, he looked the same. Business was good. He was treated well by Vince's family. It was like he never left.
"How have you been? What's wrong with you? You don't log on to Facebook anymore!"
I didn't know how to answer. I missed him. I wanted to hug him. But that would be wrong. Vince was there.
"I got really bored with FB. And busy at work."
"I heard you're some sort of a loner now, friend, what's up?" That was Vince. Yes, we talk too.
"I don't know, after you... guys left, I just never found the time to go out."
"Is it work? Maybe you're overworked!" said Rich.
"Or you have a boyfriend? That's it! Do you have a boyfriend now?" "Vince, no! I don't have time for that!"
Rich looked at me with questioning eyes.
"No Rich. There's no one. I want to save myself for someone who won't leave me. Someone who understands me. Respects my job. My time."
"And you haven't found that Drew?"
"No. I'm still waiting for the right time Rich."
"Maybe you're just waiting for someone. That's my guess. Is it alright for you to wait? Oh shoot, I have to meet my Tita at Mega. I missed you Drew. Rich and I talk about you a lot. See you soon! Babe, see you at the hotel. Love you!"
And Vince left, without waiting for my answer. My answer was "Yes."
"Lumipas mga araw na ubod ng saya/ 'Di pa rin nagbabago ang aking pagsinta/ Kung ako'y nagkasala patawad na sana/ Puso kong pagal ngayon lang nagmahal"
"Aren't you sad?" "Ako? No."
"Drew, do you remember that day... Oh, never mind."
"Okay. I remember you asking me once about falling for a friend." I was getting aggressive.
"Oh, that. Yeah."
"I lied. I was falling for someone that time. I was falling for you."
"Are you effing kidding me?"
"No. I have loved you all these years Rich. I have always wanted to be with you, I was just afraid. You were right! I didn't want to ruin the friendship. I kept it all inside. Hindi ko kasi masabi sayo. Nahihiya ako. Natatakot ako na baka hindi ako ang laman nyang puso mo."
"Pero ikaw ang laman ng puso ko!" He shouted.
I sat there like a rock as I looked at him getting all red and teary eyed.
"I loved you Drew! I did! I kept on trying to tell you! I thought you didn't feel anything for me! I just thought you were really busy. And a perfectionist. Why didn't tou tell me then? Why are you telling me now?"
I shut up. I was crying. I didn't know what else to say.
"'Di mo lang alam/ Ako'y iyong nasaktan/ Baka sakali lang maisip mo naman/ Puro s'ya na lang/ Sana'y ako naman/ 'Di mo lang alam/ Ika'y minamasdan/ Sana'y iyong mamalayang hindi mo lang pala alam"
"Why Drew? Didn't you see how happy I am with Vince? I wanted to move away because I kept comparing him to you! My God Andrew! Anong nakain mo!"
"Wag mo ko sigawan Rich. I didn't want to tell you then. But i knew i had to tell you now!"
"For what? Para maguluhan ako? Masaya na ko with Vince, Drew... Kahit sometimes i feel like calling you up at night just to check up on you. Our friends are concerned . You've been avoiding them. Ano nangyari sayo?"
"I wanted to forget about you. Remember my poems? They're all for you!"
"You're a good liar pala Drew. I didn't think you'd make me believe you never had feelings for me."
"'Di mo lang alam/ Kahit tayo'y magkaibigan lang/ Bumabalik ang lahat sa tuwing nagkukulitan/ Baka sakali lang maisip mo naman/ Ako'y nandito lang/ Hindi mo lang alam/ Matalino ka naman"
"I fell in love with you the moment you quoted A Walk to Remember. That was my favorite book at the time."
"I know. Salamat at hindi pumasok si prof that day."
"Drew, bakit ngayon lang."
"Again, I don't know..."
"Sabihin mo na..."
"I just wanted you to know."
"Kaya siguro the night na nakilala ko si Vince nagsabi ka na uuwi ka ng maaga no? Mahal mo pa ba ko nun?"
Oo. Hanggang ngayon. "Haha. Grabe din. Stop that!"
"Kung ikaw at ako/ Ay tunay na bigo sa laro na ito/ Ay dapat bang sumuko/ Sana hindi ka na lang pala aking nakilala/ Kung alam ko lang ako'y masasaktan ng ganito/ Sana'y nakinig na lang ako sa nanay ko"
"What would have happened if we ended up together?"
"I don't know Rich. Why do you wanna know?"
"'Di mo lang alam/ Ako'y iyong nasaktan/ Baka sakali lang maisip mo naman/ Puro s'ya na lang/ Sana'y ako naman/ 'Di mo lang alam/ O, ika'y minamasdan/ Sana iyo'y mamalayang hindi mo lang pala alam/ Oooooooo"
"Vince makes me happy Drew. Baka siguro nasanay lang ako na magkaibigan tayo kaya hindi na ko nakapagfocus on what i felt for you."
"Sorry Rich. We shouldn't be talking about this."
Ang sakit kasi. Kakasabi ko lang na mahal ko siya. Tapos sasabihin nyang Vince makes him happy.
"Malas mo/ Ikaw ang natipuhan ko/ Di mo lang alam/ Ako'y iyong nasaktan"
"Drew, hypothetical question. If somewhere along the way, Vince and I broke up, will you be waiting for me? Oh, no, don't answer that. That's so insensitive of me. I'm sorry. Why don't we go somewhere and eat?"
"Oo. Gutom na rin ako, kain na tayo."
"Okay... I'm glad we met and talked about this Drew. I wish there was something I could do."
Oo. Pwede mo ko pasayahin by telling me you still love me. Na pipiliin mo ko over Vince dahil mas nauna mo kong minahal sa kanya. I'm saving myself for you Rich. I know you too well. Not everything is hypothetical to you Rich. So here's my answer.
Oo. Maghihintay ako.