Friday, November 20, 2009

The Boy I'd Loved Before

He was a flushing chubby school boy of 17, fair-complexioned, a typical Manila boy, very neat in white polo shirt and black pants, surprisingly shy and boyishly handsome. He was quiet and reserved. He stayed a good distance away from me, that was why he amused me, but honest, I thought I liked him the first time I met him. Nahhhhhh! It was not love at first sight. He was 17, I was 23. He was 5 years my junior.

He came home to spend the semestral break in November, 1968. He was a sophomore taking up Mechanical Engineering in Mapua, Manila. I was one of their teacher-boarders, in my second year of teaching in public elementary school. The acquaintance was casual. Before the week ended, he returned to Manila. We were just friends. Days became months, months became years. He would come home in many unexpected ways. I found myself secretly longing for those visits. We addressed each other "Joe" ( meaning friend ).

He would visit me at our own place. My family, especially my younger sisters, used to ask me why he came often. I told them, he was my landlady's son and we were friends-just friends. And Mother believed me because whenever he was around, he was happy just playing scrabble or cards with my younger siblings. And how he laughed- those loud and boisterous laughs, so different from the first day we met. I would be unmindful of them playing while I continued whatever chores I was doing at his presence.

Some other times he would just show up in school, which of course, I didn't like because I was afraid my fellow teachers might give it other meaning. When I transferred to our own barangay school, he didn't stop his visits. His family used to come, too, especially his grandma who brought baskets of fruits from their orchard, on my birthdays and other holidays like Christmas. She would in jest tell me his grandson liked me. I realized, in my heart, I wished it was true.

He would come home from Manila at times loaded with his school work. I offered to trace his drawings of accumulated unfinished plates for him. My two younger brothers who were studying in Manila taking up Civil Engineering and Architecture, thought it was weird. He was not even my boyfriend. But as years went by, a unique kind of friendship blossomed between us.

Then one evening, during a Closing Exercise in our school, he came with a cousin. During the program, in which I was master of ceremonies, there was great teasing from the speakers pairing me with the PTA president. I was worried because he was there and heard it all. I didn't know he was invited for the dinner by another teacher. The next day he came to school again, in time for our pupils' clearance. I was at the principal's office, too busy to entertain him, so he decided to leave with a word that he had something important for me that he placed on my chalk ledge in the classroom.

I was not very curious about it, so I didn't look. When it was time for me to go home, I remembered. And there- on the chalk tray- was a golden ring. My hands shook when I fingered it. Inside, it read "Ruben". Instantly, I unlocked my necklace and slid it there with my other pendant. I was sleepless that night. From then on, I wore my necklace inside my dress neckline. I was afraid of what my family would think about it. And besides, we didn't even talk about it! I waited for him to show up the next day. He didn't show up, not even the whole summer vacation. One day, when my wits was at its end, I received an endearing Social Telegram, telling me he was busy since he was graduating that year. The telegrams would arrive more often after the first. I wished those were his personal letters, but then I was happy to read over and over again the socialized telegrams.

Then one day he came. He said he had no time for those visits, although he wished he did. He was apologetic. I was waiting for my chance to open up concerning the ring. But I didn't have the heart to disturb his exceedingly happy countenance. I learned that, he was happy because he was indeed graduating and he invited me to come. And in not so audible words, he said I was his inspiration. I felt elated, I agreed to attend his graduation! Just like that. No explanations, no nothing. I was excited!

My parents allowed me to attend his graduation in Manila, but not without chaperons. At the Mapua gymnasium where the graduation rites was held, Mar, Abring, and I sat a good distance away from his parents, so they could enjoy by themselves the fruit of their toils. When he marched in front of us, toward his seat, he looked at me sheepishly. I remembered the ring! Oh yes, the ring! Momentarily, I put my hand where it was- in my necklace around my neck. Goosebumps in my neck, I felt dizzy. I thought of confronting him about the ring. But how and where? It was just crazy!

The commencement exercise was long but I was overwhelmed with emotions, I didn't realize it was already over. He broke away from the recessional, jumped over the barrier that separated the graduates from the audience, for all those people to see. I just laughed because few of the graduates soon followed suit. His parents were seated in the front seats but he seemed not to see them despite my desperate signal that his parents were near him. He went directly toward me , hugged me tight and planted on my lips, the first ever kiss I'd known in my life! I couldn't look at all of my companions in the eyes. But, that was it! We were sweethearts!

Seven years after, I sat to write my love book. It began with a dedication, thus: "To The Only Man In My Life". The old yellowed manuscript still remains in my own handwriting. And it ended, this way: "Today, I'll put an end to this love story. Thank God, that I was able to go through all those hard days and nights I spent on this unique piece of work. Now, I'm very happy I did it. I know I'm stopping my pen temporarily. Love, the future has many yet in store for us. I swear to you our time has just began. Only time can tell when I will decide again to continue writing about our unending love life. You are my love, my life, my everything. I know one day, we will be together to make our own dreams come true. Then one day, I will be inspired again to sit down and write- with you- to fill up the remaining spaces in this love book of ours. 'Till Death Do Us Part." Love Eternal. Signed (in my maiden name).

We were married in January, 1976. He was 24, I was 29. We were so blessed to have each other to have and to hold. I didn't ask for more. He was everything I thought of to be my life's partner. He was a friend , a father, a husband, my prince. We were blessed with two beautiful daughters, Pot and Kit. They were so happily close to each other, that there were moments when I thought I was jealous. Since we saw to it that God is the central figure in our family life, it was much easier to shake off idle evil thoughts. We became closer to God, knowing we were different from the rest, in terms of family relationship. I'll never forget what my eldest daughter said about her Dad, he just gave and gave, even without them asking.

Until that fateful evening, after 23 years of our happy married life- I begged of him to leave. He refused. He cried bitterly. I put up a good front, despite the tears rolling down my chin, the lump in my throat, and the piercing ache in my heart, I insisted for him to let go, in God's name.

And God gave us time to talk it over. I knew we had to. We all had suffered so much, us, his family, his friends, and everybody whose lives he touched. We both cried and laughed from our flashbacks of our life together. I gave him a hearty kiss, I had no inkling that it would be his last. I decided to call it a day at 4:30 am, exhausted, aching, surrendering all to God, despite his last request for another log roll in his airbed. His last sentence, said in his usual careful and most affectionate tone, "Minsan pa sana" (One more time, please). I didn't reply. I heard him sigh "hmphh". I smiled a naughty smile and drifted away to sleep.

At 6:30 in the morning of November 20, 1999, I stirred from my rather shallow sleep, to find out that the boy I'd loved before and will love forever, was finally about to leave. He wanted to say something, his saliva rolling down from his lips and his teeth clattering. I told him, "Hush, my darling, I know everything you want me to know. I tried my best, yes, we all did, but your time has come. Forgive me for surrendering you to God now". Quickly, I told my maid to go to church for a priest. Together, Pot and I, held him in a tight embrace and whispered our undying love for him and promised that we would hold on as always. Kit was coming home from school in Manila that day as she promised one week ago. We cried silently. His tears rolled down, too.

He died in the middle of our parish priest's last prayers. His peaceful countenance , framed inside the shadow of our steel window and illumined by the early morning sun, will forever be etched in my mind. He succumbed to prostate cancer within 9 months after discovery of what caused his pains and listings, earlier diagnosed as UTI by our family doctor. The last 9 months of his life, will never be forgotten. They were the most difficult, but were indeed the best my 2 daughters and I gave him- all seconds spent to enlighten him- through our continuous bible sharing. We forced ourselves to accept his predicament because we were racing with time. I know his doctors did their best. We gave him quality life. We laughed, we cried, and prepared him everyday for his crossing the bar.

Today, November 20, is Dad's 10th year Death Anniversary. God Bless you Dad. I love you.

My photos:
1st photo was taken during my husband's graduation in college.
2nd photo is a picture of the "Love Book" I had written years ago, a gift I gave him, after his two year stint in Saudi Arabia in return for our beautiful dream house he built for us. Pot was aged 5, Kit was 2.


  1. Nice story about love, i hope it's untill the end in your life. Thaks for visited my blog before.

  2. Oh, my heart, what a beautiful story, told with such love and devotion. That Love Book is very special, and so was your life with him. Thank for sharing your soul mate.

  3. Angelia dear, that Love Book keeps me closer to my soul mate. Those 23 years of our beautiful love story cut short by Fate, is like millions of years shared with mutual love and understanding. My cup runneths over with love for him till the end of time. Thanks.

  4. Wow, Lita, that is a a beautiful story. I look forward to reading more of your work.

  5. Thanks! I just started reading your post, too. Will be coming back for more soon.

  6. nyc post..a different kind of love story..

  7. chuwie, dear, as in "can never be duplicated?" Yes, it's really different. Thanks for the compliment.

  8. It's indeed touched my heart. Great piece and you are lucky.

  9. Lita-how wonderful that you had this depth of love in your life. I'm sorry that Fate saw fit to cut it short.

  10. Lastain, dear, love stories never miss a loving heart, like yours. Thanks for your comment. Happy New Year!

  11. dear nothingprofound, you are one of only few bloggerfriends I give high respect for, because you never ran out of love sand compassion in your heart for a friend. Thank you! Happy New Year to you and your loved ones.

  12. NP, you move me again with your usual compassion for a friend,. Like Lastain, you, too have a loving heart. Thanks, happy New Year to you and your loved ones.

  13. Actually I wanted to leave a comment about your brother who fought corruption all his life. Long live his legacy!

  14. There you are, Violet! I found the comment here at last. Thanks for your compassion with my brother's hard fight.



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