climb

first installment

the brief respite i’ve taken in favor of the lure of beer has resulted in quite a few “concerned” inquiries from my regular readers, who were all too aware of the alcoholic streak that resulted in my failure to blog. i confess to this not too recent addiction, and i cannot promise that anything will change drastically too soon, no, not even after what took place the tuesday following a late night drink fest in malate. little jay catanghal, who has been on an amazing alcoholic binge since after halcon, sent me an SMS without much fuss. he asked if i wanted to drink, and i immediately called him up to say yes. in turn, he phoned johnbee, on whose decision our plans relied. my panyero was all too eager to go out, even after a weekend pored over not just a few bottles. we met in makati, had dinner there, and flew to malate with great speed. my uncle’s moustache appeared to be a tad too boring, so we moved to sidebar, where they offered a buy 1 take 1 beer promo. i had 3, which meant i actually had 6 strong ice.

there was plenty of talk at sidebar, and jay, despite his usual silence, was unusually gib at the time, talking about this thing and that thing. johnbee was all too captivated by jay’s loquacious stretch, and listened with amazing attentiveness. later, it was johnbee’s turn to spill the beans, as it were, on his current situation with jag. johnbee’s narration was characteristic of any good lawyer’s weave, rich with juicy details and funny asides, and complete, even to the minutest footnote, such that his audience would just sit, cup his chin, and listen, laugh a little, and nod in agreement.

at around 2am, i was already only a little tipsy from the beer and from the funny anecdotes which accompany 3 good friends who’ve been apart only for a few days and yet who feel they haven’t seen in other in years. i figured 6 bottles was still within my controllable threshold (the threshold being 6, or at least i thought it was 6). but jay’s cousins were in the area, and we were invited to another dimly lit and dingy bar near nakpil. these guys were turning over some stallions, and although i declined, my refusal was not successful. the bar occupied only the second story of a building, and cigarette smoke wafted under its high ceiling, while untrained crew who wore no uniforms waited on the few tables. both johnbee and i complained about the absence of an exhaust, which hurt our sensitive eyes, and i was teary eyed, partly because of the smoke, and partly because the band which played garbled some unintelligible words.

there was a caucasian couple at the other table, and they smiled at me and raised their bottles, so i decided to speak to them. they were rick and meg, who are both teaching english in korea. he is american while she is canadian, both are 23, and in the year that they’ve been trying to impart their knowledge of the language, they’ve managed to tour asia. they were in boracay for 12 days and desired to stay longer, but they had to return to korea because the term was already about to start. they wanted to move to busan after this contract’s over.

by this time, i was already too drunk, and alcohol had replaced the blood which flowed through my veins, invading my brain and frying my cells. in spite of that, my english was still quite competent, and i gamely translated for jay’s friends. a little later, i realized that jay and johnbee were no longer at their seats. i checked my phone and found out that they had both left. they didn’t bother to say goodbye because they thought i was having such a good time entertaining the visitors. johnbee was about to crash, and jay was about to barf.

after receiving the message, i lingered for a while, and with just as much haste, left the bar. i stepped out onto malate, and found nakpil to be a well lit but empty street. i walked to taft, and attempted to conceal my drunken swagger. i took public transport, and couldn’t make sense of anything that took place around me. i was weaving in and out of sleep, and when i peeled my eyes open, i barely recognized the street corner in commonwealth where i was supposed to get off. i was just so amazingly drunk that i just wanted to fall off the door. it was no longer dark, and the sky was already dyed in a deep blue, heralding the coming sunrise. i stood up, and as the bus drew to a gingerly stop, i inspected my pockets. even in that inebriated state, i still had occasion to think about my belongings. and then it hit me. like a careening bus against a thick brick wall. blood was flushed out of my system, and for a brief yet sufficient moment, i was perfectly lucid. and in that window of lucidity, i realized my great folly: i left my bag at the dingy bar, and inside the bag was my beloved iBook.

with amazing haste, i crossed the road, hailed a cab, and with religious penance, repeated a prayer to the good Lord to please please let my bag still be there, please please let people be honest, please please please oh Lord let everyone be so drunk so they won’t notice the bag’s missing its owner. malate is a long way from commonwealth, and even at that hour, when you can race from edsa to españa at death defying speeds, the trip still took a considerable amount of time. during the entire journey, my hands were clasped, and i muttered my prayer with great repetition. once i reached nakpil, i couldn’t even remember the name of the bar, only that it fronted common ground. kels malate, it said, and i couldn’t recognize anything. i opened the door and the tables were already turned over. the staff were on their way out, and the band which played awfully had already packed and were just about to leave. i went up and inspected the table where we sat. the bag wasn’t there. then a waitress asked. “bag sir? ayan o.” she pointed to another seat. i took my bag and hugged it closely. “thank you thank you so much,” i said. “sir baka gusto nyong tingna kung kumpleto,” a waiter said. i already felt that my laptop was inside and i didn’t bother to open the bag. i just repeated my gratitude and said, you guys are the best. i want to hug you all. “kahit bukas nyo pa balikan yan, andyan pa rin yan,” they said, and i said thank you again, and went home. i was in the brink of tears.

i got home at already past 6. my mom was up and she noticed the alcohol in my breath and in my sweat when i kissed her good morning. she gave me a little pinch, motioned a bottle to her mouth, and pointed to me, without saying a word. and then i said, i have an 830 hearing, and quickly dropped to my bed. i woke up at 8.