You know those kinds of sequences in movies or dramas wherein the protagonist would reminisce happy memories related to places? Like benches and restaurants, parks and hi-ways, a corner in a room, or a passenger seat? In real life, it happens too. A place is only significant to us because of the memories that we connect to it.
Where you first met, and where you broke up. Where you laughed so hard you all got tears in your eyes (but still you couldn’t stop laughing). Where you cried, and a hug comforted you. Where you escaped to get away from school work and stress, and where you were seated in the car on your way home. No, this is not about a man again, don’t worry.
The last time I saw Kai when we had an informal KKB despedida for Mayel, I remember we three talked about place associations. I began the conversation by telling them I felt like I was a stranger in my own campus while waiting for them in our usual meeting place, SS-Foyer. In my head, I wanted to tell the running freshmen (for their make-up Orsem) the very selfish: This is my campus! You’re just about to enter it! And yet the truth is that I felt like it’s no longer mine. I no longer see familiar faces, and although there have been minimal changes in the aesthetics, I no longer feel that warm, fuzzy feeling I used to feel whenever I go to school everyday for the last four years of my life.
I concluded that a place only means something to me if I still share it with the people I have fond memories of. Ateneo felt like just another campus because I was not seeing familiar faces. But when Kai and Mayel arrived later that afternoon, I knew it in me. I was home.
That’s a rather long introduction for this entry, isn’t it?
(Disclaimer: To the wanna-be kiwi, ‘wag po sanang magtampo na puro mukha at storya ni Katerina ang ilalagay ko dito. December pa birthday mo. Maghintay ka.)
If you ask me when I first met Kai, the serious, rational answer would be, of course, during News Writing class back in 2009. But if you ask me when I really met Kai, then I’d tell you: It’s not a when, but a where.
If my friendship with Kai is a movie (and let me use that metaphor, since she really loves referring her life to a movie), then the flashbacks will always take me to September 10, 2010 (yey glad I take these details down!), that day all three of us traveled from Katipunan to Alabang for a story. Cue cameras zooming in from top view, to a random pedestrian, linking Elsie Gaches Village to a McDo branch. In it are three aspiring journalists, taking pictures in the middle of a four-lane national hi-way, without any care in the world. No, they still do not have a solid resolution to the investigative story their working on. If anything, that trip made them ask all the more: Now what?
But their task for the day is done, and they’re famished after a very long trip from North to South. Conveniently, there’s a McDo across the street, and all they have to do is cross that pedestrian lane.
But they decide to goof around and take pictures. In the middle of the pedestrian lane. With no fear whatsoever of getting caught by officers or getting run-over by cars. Suddenly, the sound of laughter, cars, and other noises fade in the background. The flashback focuses on the tired but happy faces, then the smiles. I’ll hit pause, and think to myself: only those willing to be crazy with me in a pedestrian lane would stay friends with me for a very long time.
I only hoped for mere friendship, but what I got are two of the most wonderful best friends in the whole wide world. And Kai’s one of them.
There are more stories after that day. If I were to ask my filmmaker friends to encapsulate my friendship with Kai in a movie, I don’t think the usual 2-3 hours would be enough. Because so much has happened in that two years I have really known her.
(Disclaimer #2: Almost all these photos have Mayel in it. Mayelakas pa rin kahit hindi pa nya birthday!)
We finished that investigative report we were working on with not one, but two main stories.
We occasionally went out for lunch/dinner, and we even jogged around campus!
They asked me to be their model (CHOS) for their photography class. Now that I think about it, I should’ve asked them to be my models for my photography class too!
She (Kai) became my editor as part of the News staff of The GUIDON. Safe to say she made The GUIDON memorable to me, even if I joined the organization a little too late.
We worked on stories together for Rappler (a news website which she now works for!)
When graduation was already fast approaching, she infected me with her spontaneity and love for adventure. She charmed her way into convincing me to come to a photowalk in Binondo-Intramuros…
…and to witness the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark (in what I believe is the most spontaneous trip I’ve gone to in my entire college life)
She’s part of the reason why I pushed through with the 5-day Silent Retreat.
And of course, I got to graduate from one of the most prestigious universities in the country alongside one of the greatest Ateneans that graced its campus. 🙂
Looking back, Kai has been a great presence in my life, but most especially during my last year in college. And mind you, that last year is not just any year, but it was a year full of major changes in my being (being talaga haha). I have never once imagined that I’d quote John Lloyd ever in my life, but seems like the time has come (and only because it’s really very relevant to what Kai and I had):
Popoy Gonzalez: She had me at my worst. You had me at my best. Pero binaliwala mo ang lahat… and you chose to break my heart.
Kai told me once that she thinks I give legit love advices, and I really don’t know why since I’ve never been an expert when it comes to love (obviously). But all I know is that I’m idealistic when it comes to matters of the heart. I don’t mean the perfect kind of idealism, but the balance between head and heart kind of idealism. After what I’ve been through (haha gumaganon na ako!), I know better than to let emotions get the better of me.
And maybe she acknowledges all of my advices because we’re both idealistic in a way. I’ll never forget the few instances wherein, in the middle of a conversation, we’d both get lost in daydream, coming up with what our lives would be after graduation, and then ten years after that. We vowed before never to let reality get in the way of our idealism. That’s why we love Marcel’s hope so much: We hope in thee for us.
I hope in thee for us, Kai. That wherever life takes us, I hope we’ll both remember these younger years–when we used to dream wild dreams and make big decisions with our faint hearts. I hope we continue dreaming wild dreams, and making big decisions with our faint hearts. Because life is uncertain, but thankfully–and hail to that pedestrian lane–our friendship isn’t. Basta, kahit saan ka man mapadpad, babalik ka ha?
If Mayel is strong, you’re brave, Kai (sidenote: let’s watch Brave together!!! hihi). Bravery is not always about finding that happy-ever-after. In fact, I think bravery deals with the messy details that the happy-ever-after sweeps under the rag. For me, bravery is when you’re willing to lift that rag up, sweep the mess into the dustpan and throw it into the garbage can–even if that means you’d have to pause the celebration. Even if it means happy-ever-after won’t be so happy after all.
You’re brave because, although you approach most things by reason, you’re always quick to balance it with the heart. And we all know that when the heart comes in, things can really get messy. You’re brave because despite that, you’re willing to give it all you got. Until your heart and mind can. Until you can.
And you’re brave because you know to admit it when you no longer can’t.
I’m a big fan of yours–in writing, in photography, but most especially, in your bravery.
There’s a woman in the Bible with a bravery like yours. Esther, who replaced Queen Vashti, became queen of Persia. But she was a Jew, and during her rule, her people were being persecuted. After asking her people to fast and pray for her, she decided to confront the King. During her time, a queen cannot appear before the King without invitation. In response to this, she said these strong words to Mordecai:
And if I perish, I perish. (Esther 4:16)
That’s reason and heart right there, Kai. Because you’re brave, I know you can and will do great things. It’s really just a matter of time.
When that happens, don’t forget I’ll be supporting you with my numerous awards at hand =)). Joke lang! Kung awards lang pag-uusapan huling-huli na ako =)). That’s okay, because I have yet to master such bravery. You, on the other hand, already have it as your weapon. 🙂
I love you, Kai! Don’t worry, if this still falls short in your cheese-meter, we will still celebrate many birthdays together. Kahit taon-taon may ganito ka, okay lang. Pabor din sakin, kasi tipid. =))
Mwa mwa tsup tsup!
(Wala ba tayong picture na magkayakap? Na wala si Mayel?)