It was but another scorching lazy afternoon, and I am itching and begging for something to do. My loooong college soiree’ is over and no more Childs play for me (sadly) and its time to do my own spring cleaning. Two months had already elapsed since I graduated from school (sigh of relief!) that fateful October day, still I can’t find anyone willing enough to compensate me for the labor I am selling (the lamest salesman of the world).
Most day’s I’m fine being an inutile frame, a gourmand tagged with a yellow neon sticker at my back, which says ‘NOT OPERATIONAL’ – passing time without a purpose, inactive and shiftless just like a breathing wallpaper. But today just doesn’t count, my Brain is ranting for recreation!
It’s amazing what dog days can do to you; first, you’ll hate the wearisome sameness, develop a liking for it (monotony), before you even knew it you’re a nutcase spending time at the Cuckoo’s nest. Being counter productive kinda grows on you; I just wanna do away with social circles and pointless chit-chats of gobbledygook, unlearn my own ethos and credos – and just shy away from Babylon. Come to think of it, nothing is wrong with laziness and boredom, it is after all an artists gift and an inventors inspiration (or am I just justifying my present quandary?), and besides being stationary I found out is a good way to conserve energy.
Can you blame me? Nothing is new and there is no alternative. I have already exhausted my means and dulled my thoughts. I ran out of stories to write and Kafkaesque plot to make – perhaps diagnosed suffering from imagery drought.
I’m down with my last cigarette and ineffably on my usual pensive and bored self, languidly staring at the blankness of our white ceiling – not in the mood for my existential qualms nor for metaphysical reasoning’s, no point sublimating my predicament. I was in this oblivious state, sitting on a reclusive repose while having an earful of Jeff Buckley’s lament, when something at the corner of my eye picked my attention. Turning my head sideways, I saw it innocuously silent, staring back at me. I was instantly enlightened (only thing missing is the Boddhi tree), under the spell of a century old mantra.
Then I turned on the Television. Pandora’s Box was opened.
Click. Noontime show. Click. Another Noontime show. Click. Home T.V shopping.
These days Television has sold out to banality and looking for something fresh and informative at the same time is nearing impossible – dull entertainment is not even entertaining anymore. Still unfazed in my relentless channel surfing (at this point I would even gladly settle for an African telenobela!), when I stumbled upon a local UHF station which airs Pinoy movies at Siesta time.
Click. They are playing a teenage adventure/thriller flick from the 80’s. It starred the young Herbert Bautista, in his typecast role as a high school student wearing his big round glasses in an anorak fashion – it also featured Lea Salonga (before the Miss Saigon fame). Inexplicably, it tickled my fancy and for reasons that elude me, the movie amused me. I was suddenly drawn to what I was watching, that is ‘POPCORN LITERATURE’ and in an idiosyncratic sense I was enamored with this visual stimulus.
‘I loved the idea, that what you see was taking place somewhere else at the same time’, me and Jim Henson share the same fascination and dumbfounded air with the Boob tube – how it capture moments in millimeter and perpetuate periwinkle skies thru negatives. Then, happening without a warning, I found myself lost in a reverie of bazooka bubblegum and flying Love Buses, falling into a hypnotic swirl of black, white, and nostalgia – I ended up waking in the 80’s.
I practically grew up in suburban Manila and had a relatively normal childhood living with relatives, in our vivid community teeming with low and medium, shady and colorful characters – not a day passes without the hullabaloos of kibitzers and cheerful din of topless children running around, beating their sticks to a rolling tire. It’s a Wonderland! A wacky symbiosis of people subjecting one another to endless vexation.
Back then, I wake up everyday to the crackling sound of Lola’s A.M radio. Groping in the near darkness of our dim lighted den, I start my descend while being accompanied by the aroma of Kapeng Barako. Down the staircase is an idyllic picture of simple living, smorgasbord of scrambled eggs, Tuyo , and smoldering Sinangag (fried rice) under the faint light of an old Capiz lamp shade. I always find Lola sitting at the dinning table and reading scriptures, while she waits for my sleepyhead to and buy her ‘from-the- Pugon Pandesal’. Normally, I’m not fond of eating breakfast and being up at 4 in the morning! But I always get a lofty feeling whenever I think about the forthcoming buzz of the day ahead , of people suiting up for the rat race, and of lives existing in sync with mine.
The bakery (known for their Pandesal) is a good 3-4 blocks of cold walk. Tiring? Yes! But I won’t pass up the opportunity to see the first red streaks manifesting, slowly breaking thru the darkness – my version of a hand painted sky. It’s a Sociology class out there, a kaleidoscope of personalities, many are already working on their dream, some still asleep, perhaps still dreaming?
After heading back from my salted bread escapade, I would be listening to the morning news in anticipation of class cancellation – a good way to spoil your day is to wish for the improbable to happen, like a presidential decree suspending class to eternity or a signal no.5 storm on a Summer Day. After the agonizing wait, chances are these kinds of announcements never come, and it is a heart wrenching thing to pack my sesame street lunch box and be heading for school.
My naïf summer vacations are spattered and littered with tarnished photographic recollections of acid wash jeans, spray nets, topsiders, and banana yellow wardrobe – a cheerful reminiscent of things that had passed. During the length of the Summer Break, our uncles and aunties used to take us out (me and my cousins) for the scheduled weekdays ‘Pasyal’. The whole Luneta milieu was a big hit for kids at that time, as we spend the whole afternoon picnicking, eating dirty ice cream, frolicking in the fields, and watching balloons – awed by their freedom from the ground. At night we would take a glimpse of scenic Manila, the glimmer of the traffic and the glistening city lights, atop the Metro Co.Tour bus (a bus which only has seats on its rooftop). On serene and breezy evenings, we visit local movie houses in Paco and watch comedic B-movies (baduy movies, no pun intended) just for the fun of it. After the occasional late night story telling sessions, we would be heading to the nearest ‘Panciteria’ (for no reason at all) to satisfy our whims or just pig-out.
Shhhhhhh.The sound of the White noise crept into my consciousness, like water pouring into the drain, it seems that the network is having some technical difficulty – the Then was fast forwarded to the Now in a jiffy, 80’ to 2006. For hours I was transfixed to nothingness, apparently a vis-à-vis with that rectangular vacuum.
I found out that 80’s poop culture was just used to pigeonhole the market, and that era is just a Betamax tape lying in some novelty store. But I like to believe that the past is happening simultaneous to the present that in some time and space concurrent to ours, Herbert and Lea are still teenagers baffled with adolescent problems, dancing in the disco to a Kylie Minogue tune.