The British Biker (Part 2)

13 Feb

Coldness of the Night

He slowed down his driving and then he carefully parked along the dusty wayside. At last, we reached that restaurant. We disembarked from his bike and simultaneously put our protective gears away. I felt the coldness of the night right upon taking off the jacket that he lent me, but along with my shivering body was my discrepant joy. I just had a great ride with this guy I hardly knew. It was wonderful knowing that sometimes, indeed, trusting a stranger could be worth the risk. I lived a little, and got a really good deal in the end.

I was about to head to the restaurant door when he pulled me to the opposite direction  and towards the cliff that boasted of the fading sunset scenery. Yes, he pulled me. And that pull, while losing its force by and by, lingered for some time. It lingered until all that could be felt was his gentle touch. It was the very first time he ever held my hand.

“I’ve always loved this road”, he said, while gesturing his free hand upon the entire highway our naked eyes could lay on. He couldn’t tell me enough how much solace he finds in this place; And how different it is from the other terrains he had been to. He said it was always so clear a pavement that it was perfect for a person like him.  I wondered what he meant by that. All I knew was that he yearned for this. And now he was here…  I had nothing to say because I did not completely understand his emotions. I had a glimpse of a certain sadness in his eyes, but I didn’t know where it was coming from. So I kept my mouth shut and I just reminded myself of how lucky I was to have tagged along.

B threw a far gaze into the horizon, and his breathing although quiet, became heavy. He suddenly let go of my hand. I thought he felt uneasy, for reasons I could not find. But I just let it be.  After all, I vowed to myself that this date would just be all about enjoying the moments as they last. No wanting for more than what was freely given. No questions asked.

We watched until the sun disappeared entirely. That didn’t really take long. In a minute or two, we were headed back to the restaurant. There he placed our order and chose the really good Filipino food like he was an expert. He would try to converse with the server in Tagalog. He was cute. I might have smiled a lot, and that probably freaked him out. I think I failed at hiding how I fancied him just a bit too much for such crazily short a time.

We’ve settled in a corner spot upstairs, right underneath the stars. One by one our food came. As I took my time enjoying that rich chocolate drink, he was just there by my side smiling, and being just the perfect gentleman. We were for a moment goofing around. He was telling me jokes that were way too corny and I was rolling my eyes to tell him it was unfunny. It was our kind of banter. He playfully tickled my waist as revenge. I panicked because he was pinching my stitches. He apologized profusely and he said he wasn’t thinking at all. The night was being made up of awkward moments, and happy moments, and, silent moments, and moments full of laughter. Overall, it was a date that couldn’t have been more fun.

The light atmosphere didn’t last long though; For no matter how he tried to make this a happy evening just for me, he kept going back – rather involuntarily – to his default eery sadness which I’d been sensing  here and there ever since we set foot in Antipolo.

Finally, I had to ask: “Hey, are you okay?”

“Yes, yes. I am just a bit sleepy I guess.”

One more sip on my drink… and the skies were about to fall upon me.

“You told me your conference was about abortion yeah?” He broke his silence.

“Yeah.”

“So may I ask you what your take is on the subject?” 

“Honestly, I am truly conflicted about abortion. I know we promote women’s rights at work, and I fully support women’s ownership of their body, but I personally could not imagine myself aborting a child. I’ve always felt like it was selfish, and that I could always resort to adoption if I’m not ready to raise a kid in this world. Abortion is still illegal in the Philippines, in fact.”

“I see.” He said. He looked down on the ground.

“How about you?” I asked.

“Well I think… I think… I think our (UK) government did it right when they legalized abortion there. I think, the woman has the right to decide for herself. I think it is more selfish to bear a child in this world if that child will just be unloved, or uncared for, or if it will just suffer from the follies of the world.”

“Well…” — I interjected… “I am not going to argue with you on this. I understand your point, and I’m not sure yet how to reconcile my advocacy with my personal emotions.”

B took another heavy breath. He was quite nervous and unsure. And I really couldn’t fathom why. But the night was young, and we got time. And it seemed everything was going to lead to this, anyway.

“So….

        …are you ready to hear my story?”

He asked.

B smiles when he is happy. But he also smiles when he is anxious. I could verily tell one from the other though. And the smile that accompanied this question of his was definitely of the latter.

I looked at him and felt suddenly scared. “Well, it depends. Is it going to throw me off this bench? haha.”

He just smiled at me again.

“…Okay, go on. Let’s hear it.”, I finally surrendered.

I counted ’til five in my head before he finally gutted up to reveal his secret.

 

“I   am   married.”

 

                      “What?”  — was what I intended to say, but I actually failed to utter any word. I just froze in shock.  I definitely did not plan on dating a married man. Took a few moments before it sunk in. My eyes grew big. I stopped sipping my drink. This was gonna be a long night. And I definitely did not pray for this kind of surprise.

I remained helplessly speechless, but I guess my speechlessness perfectly articulated what I wanted to say anyway: “Go on. Explain yourself”

He proceeded to tell his story. “Look, I am still married by paper, but we are already separated (in fact).”

“Why?” Was all that I could say back.

“Well…

She was my girlfriend…

Believe it or not, I already intended to break up with her then. Things weren’t going well. We just were not meeting eye to eye anymore. I tried to make things work, but it really was not going anywhere…

So I asked to meet her so I could finally end things, but before I could do so, she told me something that made me turn around…

She told me she was pregnant…

It got me in a haze. Her pregnancy would make things far more complicated, what with my intention to already break up with her.

So I may have suggested abortion to her.

She got so mad. And she told me she wasn’t gonna kill our child. She shares your sentiment on this matter, you know. Still, I asked her to consider it.

Few months have passed, and I figured she was resolute in keeping the baby. Abortion was never an option for her. She didn’t mind if she raised the child on her own. 

Eventually, I had a change of mind, and heart. I decided that if she was keeping our child, then I also must step up.  I thought it would be easy to revive the love I had for her — it was just a little work and a little sacrifice. If the baby shall live, then I have to make sure its life will be a good and happy one. I want it to have a complete family. I wanted to be there as his dad. 

So I proposed to her. And we were married in a couple of months. Things were looking great. We were excited for the baby’s arrival. By October, she delivered the baby. And it was the happiest day of my life. 

I loved baby Christopher (not the baby’s real name). He was so cute. He was a happy baby. I loved his laugh. And I realized how great it felt being a dad. 

But you see, one month in after baby Christopher was born, I started hearing this little voice inside my head… It keeps asking ‘Is he your child? Is he your child?’ 

It bothered me day and night. No matter how much I tried to ignore it, it just wouldn’t go away.

I thought I was being ridiculously paranoid. But just for the sake of quieting my brain, I decided to get a DNA test secretly. I did it just like that. Like it was just one errand in a day. I knew it was going to turn out positive anyway. I was just buying myself some peace of mind. I just needed the voice to disappear…”

(TO BE CONTINUED)

 

 

 

 

 

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The British Biker

23 Jan

Sunset Bliss

He zoomed the motorbike as we began traversing up the mountain of Antipolo. We were finally out of the city and its busy roads.

Now the way was clearing up, and getting a tad curvy, and there was no stopping him from chasing the sunset that he promised me we’d catch.

So his bike was running fast, its body leaning and tilting. It gave me a quick rush of blood in my veins, yet he said my loose grip was not that of someone who’s afraid. Lush trees were feasting around us. I could hear birds singing wild. Nature’s just being beautifully unforgiving. And I didn’t know until then how much I actually loved the feel of the cold wind brushing strongly against my body. And how freeing it was to just go. I almost took my helmet off. I was dying to feel the air on my face. No, I was not scared. I was exhilarated.

We ascended further and further.

As he focused on driving his bike towards our final destination, I, sitting right behind him, silently basked in that glorious view transpiring upon my right: From the mountainside, I could clearly see the sun slowly setting down, and sure is taking its time in painting pink and orange the suddenly unfamiliar sky. It was so subtly dramatic, and so beautiful I could not — despite trying with all my mental might –properly break it down into words.

It was a quick one hour ride of euphoria. And it has been too seldom and long. I almost forgot how that felt like. The last time I was in this state of bliss was when I was in Bali — when I swung without the safety harness on top of the rice terraces, and when I was just a few meters away from a bolting giant wave that unexpectedly crashed into a natural pool, swiping off swimmers in it. I kinda wished I was one of them. I’ve always had this crazy attraction to danger, and I realized I have not exposed myself to the world enough still.

Halfway through our journey, I concluded that it was easily the best and most elaborate date I’ve ever been to. That mental picture of going on a motorbike adventure-cum-nature trip, witnessing the sunset from the edge of a cliff, and enjoying a simple Filipino dinner in a nipa hut on a mountain top overlooking the entire Metro Manila — all seemed so inviting when he proposed it, but it was even better than what I had imagined when each idea started materializing.

______________

Cartel Cafe

B was a breath of fresh air. He wasn’t the typical boy you’d find in the corners of that overused dating app; Not the one who’d take you to a nearby bar for drinks, and then try to kiss you, touch you and ask you for more than you could give (not that this is wrong, sometimes it is just what it is haha).

The first time I met B, he was the epitome of a gentleman (true to his British roots). Funny that I had initiated the flirting way before we even met, and to my shock, was respectfully rejected. He told me we should get that coffee first, and see how things would turn out. A little bit embarrassed, yet a little bit relieved, I went to meet him for coffee, guards down, and devoid of expectations.

Over our respective cups of latte, B and I went on talking about our passions, and hobbies, and places we’ve been and still want to see. That’s how i found out that riding the motorbike was his favorite thing in the world. He said he forgets his problems when he’s on an adventure with his most trusted buddy. He told me this with so much enthusiasm. He lit up. And I could just see right through him. He was beaming with yearning, like he just couldn’t wait to ride his bike again.

Next thing I knew, he was reaching for my pen. Then he reached for the unused napkin on the table. Shortly after, he was drawing a cute stick figure of a guy on the napkin. He continued drawing so that this fella was now riding a motorcycle, that now seemed to be going up a hill — no… he corrected me — a mountain.

And then he started to draw a girl behind the cool biker. He drew her hair and it was big and curly. He said –wait. He said –it was not safe. He said –he forgot her gear. And so he drew her a helmet. –“There”. 

He drew some (questionable) rocks along the way. He said this trip might get a little bumpy. I laughed. He was cute. His drawings were like that of a child’s, but even that was cute too.

He brought his focus back to this two-dimensional guy driving the bike. He started drawing a thought bubble above his head. And then… he began writing down words inside the biggest cloud: “When are we going to do this?” 

He turned the napkin upside down so that it would face me.

And then,

He looked at me.

I blushed so hard and tried to hide it.

He didn’t move a bit.

I realized he wanted my response. And so, I gently snatched the pen from his hands and I drew a talk balloon above the head of the biker guy’s female passenger which I now figured out was me: “Well, when are you free? 🙂 ”

I caught his smile stretching wide. And then we both put our mobile calendars out.

And that, my friends, was the beginning of this crazy ride.

So off we went to Antipolo on the eve of my 29th birthday.

He picked me up at work after his classes in ____ (He’s a teacher).

He told me that he searched the internet last night and found this sweet little spot up the mountain where we could have dinner after we watch the sunset as originally planned. He said he could keep it as a surprise if I want, or he could tell me what the restaurant was and we could plan this together if I didn’t like that. Of course, I preferred that he kept it a secret. It was another thing to look forward to, and besides, I didn’t wanna get in the way of what he has already prepared in his mind. He said he liked that I liked surprises. Well, he gave me too many that day. I was moved by the effort that B has put into all this. He was charming, wasn’t he? He was all the things I’ve never expected him to be.

He had packed safety gears for me to wear which included knee and elbow pads, a jacket, and a helmet. He helped me put them on, and gave me quick reminders on the motorbiking do’s and dont’s.

And in a matter of seconds, we were on the road.

___________

(TO BE CONTINUED)

 

 

 

Tinder Tailor Soldier Spy (Part 9)

21 Aug

Chapter 15:  The Midpoint

Still on the same afternoon at Zuni, time seems to be slipping by too fast. I knew that Jayson and I were supposed to part ways officially and for good this Saturday afternoon. I knew he met me to explain his side, and to make me understand why he had to leave me.

But things didn’t go as planned.

I wasn’t ready to go home with so many questions left in my head, and Jayson understood that. So we stayed a little bit longer to continue talking. He was kind enough to answer as many questions as he could. And I gained a lot of insights about the nature of his work even though he was clearly screening, and choosing his words with caution.

Your tattoo? USMC? What does it really mean then? I asked.

I thought you knew?

Yes I do. But I want it to come from you.

US Marine Corps. That was what I did prior to this job.

A second truth. Jayson is slowly gaining my trust now. At the very least, I could go home later knowing that what he had been telling me wasn’t 100% bullshit.

So you were a soldier? You did the marine boot camp and all that jazz? I saw a documentary of the US military boot camp once and I thought it was super awesome… Like how they train you guys to do hand-to-hand and close combat… ahhh. That is so cool!

Haha, well no. I wasn’t a ground combatant. I was a pilot. I flew aircrafts, helicopters.

Ohhh. I see. Well it’s still cool. I said, wanting to make Jayson know that regardless of what he trained for, I still adored him.

Sorry to disappoint you. Jayson said jokingly, although later on I found out that Marine pilots do get their combat leadership experience on the ground too, before they are trained to operate and maneuver aviation machines.

So what was the most terrifying thing you experienced as a Marine Pilot?

Hmmm. Terrifying. Couldn’t think of one, but I could tell you the saddest experience I had.

 Okay. I said with a smile on my face. I welcomed what he was about to say.

Well, we were given instruction then to fly to a certain conflict-area to rescue some of our guys. I was waiting at the helicopter while my companions went to get them. One by one they returned with cargo all wrapped in black bags. And all the while I was waiting for the wounded soldiers to board the helicopter, until I realized that there were none coming. The bags that my friends carried back to the helicopter contained the bodies of the men we were supposed to rescue. And that hit me hard. I couldn’t forget how it felt like.   

Oh wow. I’m sorry to hear that.

Yeah, but you get used to tragic events like that when you’re in the military. It is just how it is.

Jayson would never divulge any telling detail about his mission in the Philippines but he didn’t mind talking about his prior experiences as a Marine. So eventually, I learned lots of things that he did in the USMC. Sometimes, when I’m bored I would ask him to tell me stories during his stint as a Marine pilot – the most thrilling, the most dangerous, the most bizarre. Jayson always had a story in his pocket. It would never run out.

I wasn’t done with him though. I was just itching to know a little bit more about what he was doing in my country. So I continued to pry even though I knew  I could be crossing the line:

So how did you end up doing this job you are doing now?

I was recruited.

Hmmm. You must be very smart then.

Perhaps. It is a curse.

So, I am assuming you are involved in counter-terrorism operations given that you always fly to Mindanao?

I cannot answer that.

Okay. That means yes. I said, convinced. And Jayson smiled and shook his head with surrender. Haha.

Mindanao I understand, but what’s your agenda in the Visayas? You would usually text me when you’re there… like in Cebu or Samar, right?

Well, if you’re flying from Manila, and your destination is the southern most part of Mindanao, where is the best place to refuel?

Hmmm…

Before I could interject something of better substance, Jayson finished his sentence:

At the midpoint, right? And where’s the midpoint of Manila and Mindanao?

Somewhere in the Visayas. I figured. Cebu or Samar?

That’s correct. He said.

map of phil

Note: I pegged the destination in Basilan, because I knew that Jayson had been frequenting it, among other provinces down south of Mindanao, because he would mention this in  our future conversations. But let’s leave that for another chapter. 🙂

__________________

Chapter 16: The Brave One Third

So have you killed anyone because of your job? I finally gathered enough courage to ask.

Jayson looked at me for a few seconds, and then he looked away, and he threw his stare out to the horizon. I could tell from his facial expression that he didn’t like this question.

After a few seconds of unbearable silence, he uttered without looking at me:

You know the answer to that question.

Well, you probably have. Is it a lot? like ten? twenty?

Again he looked at me. And again, he looked away when it was time for him to answer:

It does not matter how many. God will not look at the count once I repent right?

Okay. I’m sorry. I can see you are not comfortable with this question so I’ll stop. Sorry, baby. And I leaned forward to touch his crossed arms resting on the table.

Jayson took my hand with his hand, and as he did so, he gently kissed my tiny fist which he was holding.

It’s okay. Just refrain from asking me questions you might not be ready to hear the answers to.

But if it is bothering you this much, why don’t you just quit?

I toyed with the idea several times, but you see, in this field of work, very few really get out. It is not easy to just leave things behind.

But why?

I just don’t know what else I would do when I get out.

But you are an engineer! You can start your own business, or work  in the private sector.

You don’t get it. It is not as simple as switching careers. I am a rusty engineer now. My expertise is on something else. Outside this job that I am doing right now, there is few to zero places where I can practice that expertise. Besides, they will always call me back when they need me. One is never really out of the job.

Jayson continued on:

So do you understand now why having a relationship with you is an inconvenience?  While I do care about you, my job doesn’t.

No I did not understand. All I understood was how unready I was to give him up. It just didn’t make sense to me how one can express love and concern for another person, and yet decide ultimately to not have that person around. It baffled me. I wanted him to change his mind. Right then and there I decided I’d fight my way to his life.

Are you telling me that all the people that work with you are unmarried? I find that very hard to believe! I’m sure some of your colleagues found a way to make it work.

Not everyone are unmarried. About a third have spouses and families.  But…

You see! I knew it!

Come on Janica. One third is not a lot. That’s 7 out of 20 people. 33 out of 100 men. Majority of us choose to be on our own, because we do not or cannot deal with complications.

Well why can’t you be part of that one third???

Hypothetically, I can, but I still cannot be with you.

Wow thanks a lot! Ain’t that comforting!

Janica, listen to me. Jayson said so intently. You are not a US national. Can’t you see how extremely complicated you are? People like me, if we ever are to marry, are supposed to marry someone from our country, not someone from a foreign land, much less from a place where we operate. You will always be seen by them as a potential liability simply because your loyalty cannot be ascertained by any interview, or tests… not even by your love for me.

Jayson went on enlightening me:

Besides, I am not going to drag you into this mess. You are young, and you have the potential to be as happy and successful as you want to be. You will go places, and I am sure there are other men out there who can make you truly happy. Men who are around when you need them.  Men who you can count on to be there. I cannot deprive you of your bright future. I just can’t do that.

I had stopped listening to him halfway through his gibberish of a speech. I wouldn’t, and couldn’t accept what he just told me, especially not now that he had revealed the “truth” about his identity.

I had fallen in love with him way before this afternoon happened, but now, after having heard his secret, I was just fully smitten.

(TO BE CONTINUED.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monkey Forest

19 Aug

One of the many places we visited in Bali was the Monkey Forest, in Ubud. I’ve seen a lot of amazing photos online taken from this place which blew me away. For someone who is a sucker for artsy photo shoots, I knew I had to have my version too, except subtler and more “vacation-ish” feels!

IMG20180427103506

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IMG20180427103607I will admit, i did intentionally look for a long yellow dress just for this! LOL. I was very particular with the shade of yellow too- LEMON YELLOW lol. Well I think my vision came to life and I had so much fun posing in this very mystical, beautiful place. 🙂

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IMG20180427094309The Monkey Forest was, of course, obviously, teeming with monkeys. They were everywhere, doing everything. They amuse visitors, scare them, run after them, and what have you. But it wasn’t really the playful monkeys that ultimately drew me into this particular place. I was more thrilled by the exotic trees, and plants, and the bridges, and the intricate stone structures found at the heart of the forest, which I knew were super great photo shoot sites hahaha. I would’ve enjoyed this place as much even without the monkeys to be honest. Lol

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IMG20180427101920My photos don’t give justice to this stone bridge majestically lying there. It was up high in the deepest part of the Monkey Forest which makes it a clever highlight of the entire experience. You walk and walk and walk until you reach the middle, and just when you were about to say you’re tired, this gigantic bridge greets you from above your standpoint, and you’ve got no choice but let your jaw drop. I was in total awe.

37792857_2195971853971597_2458756978961285120_nFlying? 🙂

IMG20180427102134This lizard was dutifully guarding that majestic bridge

IMG20180427103936I felt so childishly powerful  standing there, in between those two dragons. LOL.

IMG20180427103233If we walk further down, more monkeys in their natural habitat await. I swear this scene was way cooler in person than in pictures, you know!

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IMG20180427103028You want awesome candid travel photos?  Make sure to bring a friend who loves taking ’em! haha

Anyways, was super happy to have visited Monkey Forest. I felt like a goddess for a few minutes I was there! hahaha 😉

IMG_20180528_131818Or a princess gracefully descending her shaman-inspired castle. or something to that effect. lol

IMG_20180528_131715That’s all for today! 🙂

Tinder Tailor Soldier Spy (Part 8)

8 Aug

Chapter 13: The Lunch Date

Saturday morning, at around 9. I was standing in front of my mirror. Deciding on what to wear. I mean how does one even prepare for a break-up date, if there is even such a thing? I’ve cried for four days since my last conversation with Jayson. And I ran out of tears just two days ago.  I was just happy my eyes weren’t red and puffy anymore. I was okay, I told myself. I’d be fine.

But who was I kidding right?

Truth be told, I wasn’t sure if meeting Jayson today was a good idea. But I would, if only to see his face in person possibly for the last time.

And so I went…

Jayson was waiting for me right outside the Starbucks in Greenbelt 3. We would always meet first at that Starbucks before going any place else. He’d been there for forty minutes or so, but this time I didn’t care much that I was wasting his time. After all, he had stolen mine.

I saw him standing right by the wall outside the said café, and the weakness that was me totally forgot that I was supposed to be mad! I smiled. I smiled just seeing him seeing me. After everything, his mere presence still was enough to make me happy.

Hey. I greeted him awkwardly, suddenly unsure of how to properly talk to him now.

Hey. Jayson touched my cheek and then he put the few strands of my curly hair dangling along my face, right behind my ear. Are you hungry?

I’m okay. Where are we settling?

Let’s find a quieter place.

While walking around looking for a restaurant, Jayson started to small talk.

You’re too quiet. I’m not used to your being too quiet.

I’ve got nothing to say.

You always have something to say. And I’ve always loved that about you.  

How about you talk? You’re the one who’s not been telling me things, you know.

Jayson stared at me with disappointment.

It’s not like I wanted to. It’s just… It was necessary. And then he abruptly looked away. He tapped the navy blue cap he was wearing to bring it a little bit more down to his forehead. It wasn’t particularly hot that day but I noticed Jayson was perspiring.

We ended up choosing Zuni, in Greenbelt 5.

Jayson knew I’d always opt for the alfresco spot in any restaurant. He surveilled that part of Zuni quickly. Two tables occupied. One of which by a couple where one was a foreign guy. Right before I could pick a table, Jayson stopped me by holding my hand.

Not, there. Too many people.

The alfresco area was basically bare, with the exception only of the said two tables with a total of four people. But I did not argue with him anymore. I’ve got no energy to try and be all cute and get my way.

The inside of Zuni was indeed emptier, more spacious, and a little bit dimmer too. We got the table at the innermost corner of the restaurant. It was only the two of us there, although another person was eating alone at the farthest end near the door.

zuni2

This’ll do. He said. But he was talking more to himself, than to me.

Jayson sat on the chair facing the glass wall. And I sat right beside him. We ordered food. Ate a little. And the real conversation began.

___________

Chapter 14: The Revelation

So what are you going to tell me? I went straight to the point.

Janica, before I say anything to you, I need you to promise me this will only be between the two of us. You cannot tell anyone about what you will hear or know. Promise me.  

Okay? I promise.

Jayson released a big sigh. He composed himself. He held my hand. Then he began to spill his secrets out. Slowly, slowly, slowly, he made that typical Saturday afternoon too wild.

So… I asked to see you personally because I realized how unfair it was to say goodbye via text. And I do owe you an explanation. I really like you. I like you too damn much for my own sake.  And if it were only up to me, I’ll take you anywhere with me. But…

…But it’s your JOB. I already know that. There’s nothing new about that.

Listen. The job that I told you about is not my real job.

What do you mean? You’re not a real engineer?

I am. I really am an engineer, by educational background. But I am not here in your country to do an engineering job.

What are you saying?! You are not really working for that water filtration company?!

No. 

 So what do you do, really?

I am here because of the EDCA…

—And I was quite flabbergasted upon hearing him say that

Jayson kept on talking: I am not sure if you’ve heard of it. But it is the….

I know what EDCA is. I said, cutting him short. I went to law school and I work in a government office, remember?

For the benefit of those who are not familiar with EDCA, this is how Wikipedia explains it:

The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) is an agreement between the United States and the Philippines intended to bolster the U.S.–Philippine alliance. The agreement allows the United States to rotate troops into the Philippines for extended stays and allows the U.S. to build and operate facilities on Philippine bases, for both American and Philippine forces. The U.S. is not allowed to establish any permanent military bases. It also gives Philippine personnel access to American ships and planes.

The EDCA is a supplemental agreement to the previous Visiting Forces Agreement. The agreement was signed by Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg in Manila on April 28, 2014.

On January 12, 2016, the Philippine Supreme Court upheld the agreement’s constitutionality in a 10–4 vote. On July 26, 2016, the Philippine Supreme Court ruled with finality that the agreement is constitutional. (Author’s Note: Jayson arrived in the Philippines first day of January, and he left by July. Wala lang! Just saying! hahaha )

So you’re with the U.S. military?!

No. not exactly. I do Intelligence.

Intelligence? I asked, making sure to sound unaware.

Let’s just say I’m here to make things happen, and to help your government get the bad guys. 

How?

By being someone I‘m not.

What do you mean?

Jayson just looked at me, his eyes pleading me to draw the line on my questions.

A pause too long ensued.

There was no other question left to ask next aside from the one I had in mind, but I hesitated because I did not want to be my own unhealthy enabler.

But then again, I told myself, why not ask now, and then just evaluate later on the veracity of whatever it is that would transpire.

So I went for it. And I probed while carefully acting like I wasn’t stunned enough yet by what I’ve so far heard.

Wait, so what are you? Some kind of a spy?? And I laughed, not at the idea, but at myself. I could not believe I would ever ask that question to a real person, but there I was playing with my imagination, and yieldingly waiting for Jayson to make fun of me.

But he did not. Instead he said in a serious tone:

Well, that’s not really how we call ourselves, but yeah, something like that.

And there I was. Utterly confused and amused at the same time. I thought I needed to re-assess right away my extremely under-calculated gullibility… because why was I so willing, if not even enthusiastic, to hear more?

I continued to play along.

From what agency? the CIA?

No, but something like that.

So what is it? The NRO? The NSA?

No, but something like that. I cannot tell you what it is. Why do you even know these agencies anyway?!

I read?

That is the one mistake I made, you see – I dated a girl who knew how to read. He joked about.

Jayson, do you honestly expect me to believe what you’re saying?

I have no expectations whatsoever.

Well, okay… then why were you on Tinder? Aren’t spies forbidden from doing things that would easily expose their identities?

We are discouraged by our handlers, but it is not against the rules. We do have control over our free time. 

Handlers? I asked, once again pretending not to know what it means.

Bosses. Supervisors. He explained.

A part of me wants to call “bullshit” on all of this. After all, this kind of things only happens in the movies. But then, another part of me would get so convinced every time Jayson would use military jargons and intelligence terminologies rather naturally, and would often assume I didn’t understand him. It just feels so authentic when he does it.

Anyway below is the definition of  a ‘handler’, which i’ve known even before meeting Jayson, because, as unknown to him, I actually read lots of spy books and I love watching and re-watching lots of spy movies:

Handler: a manager or controller of a spy. Agent handler is a generic term common to many intelligence organizations; A primary purpose of intelligence organizations is to penetrate a target with a human agent, or a network of human agents. Such agents can either infiltrate the target, or be recruited “in place”. Agent handlers (or case officers) are professionally trained employees of intelligence organizations that manage human agents and human agent networks.

The skeptic voice inside my head kept on probing. Trying. Wanting to catch him on his seeming lies. Waiting to spot inconsistencies in his revelations. Praying I would not succumb to that bigger, stronger part of me that has always believed in fantastic things, and magic, and surreal adventures.

But why are you confessing you’re a spy?

I also don’t know. Maybe I just want to have at least one person in my life who knows the real deal with me. I mean my family doesn’t know what I do. Not my mom, not my sister, nobody. 

I appreciate that you chose me to be your secret-bearer and all, but it just sounds counter-intuitive to me. Spies are supposed to protect their cover, and yet here you are telling me all about it?

Am I? …I’m not giving you any classified information. Besides, if you talk about this, no one will believe you. All words, no proof. From my end, this is very easy to deny.  And as I’ve said, I am not a spy… Just something like that.

So… if you really are some sort of a spy or an agent, then… is Jayson your real name?

Yes. Believe it or not, it is my real name. It is not the name I’m called at work though. And definitely not the name I’m known to the big people that I deal with here.

So what do they call you at work?

Roy.

AND I DIED. Jayson just told me that his other name was Roy. Roy starts with a letter ‘R”.

Suddenly, the Viber Anomaly which I’d long forgotten by now came rushing back to me! And it has just resolved itself as well! (click here for that Chapter) As I’ve said before, I never mentioned to Jayson the curious case of his Viber Thumbnail Letter R. Now here he was volunteering an information about him that would turn it all into a self-solving equation.

So that’s why your Viber shows a letter R instead of a J! I blurted out.

It does?

Yes! And I pulled my phone out my bag to show him what I meant.

Hmmm, he said, looking a little troubled.

_______

The night right after our meeting, Jayson’s Viber got fixed. While we were texting, I noticed that the letter R disappeared, and the thumbnail right next to his name now bore the correct letter – “J”.

_______

At the beginning of this story, I gave you, readers, the option to decide for yourself on what Jayson might really be: (1) He could be a total jerk of a guy who was having way too much fun inventing tales and making a fool out of me, or (2) he could really be the spy or the secret agent or the “something like that” that he was claiming to be.  I really could not impose upon you guys, which one to believe, because even until now, I have absolutely no way of verifying his stories.

However, that he told me his other name was Roy totally weighs in favor of the latter option. And it also gave me a little bit of faith about his genuineness and sincerity towards me.

At least I knew he wasn’t lying about one thing: his use of different names.

And maybe, just maybe, the rest of the things he was about to tell me, were worth listening to as well?

(TO BE CONTINUED)

Tinder Tailor Soldier Spy (Part 7)

5 Aug

Chapter 11:  Ending Inconvenience 

I couldn’t quite believe how I managed to have Jayson take me in his arms and make him sway around. All I could recall was earlier that evening, we were sharing a box of pizza for dinner, goofing around, and talking about whatever, when I suddenly felt this intense desire to make the night more magical and special than it has already been.

While we were sitting on the floor, with an open box of Yellow Cab resting coldly now on the center table ,television was on but was completely being ignored, I randomly pulled out my phone, and did the unthinkable.

Jayson, you have three minutes to spare?

Yes, sure.  What’s up?

Do you mind if I waste them by asking you to dance with me?

A little bit flushed with shame but also a little bit proud of myself for being brave, I quickly scrolled down my playlist and chose a love song to play, and then I shared my earphones with him so we could both hear the music.

Jayson was just smiling the entire time. Perhaps giggling a little bit inside. He would always tell me my boldness usually surprised him, but he would never ever complain.  As for me, I was just happy he obliged and I didn’t have to suffer a night of rejection and awkwardness.

He turned the television off to eliminate the background noise. Then he stood up and he wrapped his arms around me, and  we started moving side to side to the rhythm of my song. My heart was beating so hard while we were dancing quietly right in the middle of his living room. He was looking at me so dearly, and he was smiling a lot, and  kissing me a lot too. And there I was thinking to myself: He was it. He was the one. And that I was truly, deeply, in love with this man.

Halfway through the song, we began talking about random stuff again. And at some point in our conversation, we got to the topic of dreams and ambitions.

… Well, if I ever get the chance years from now, I think I just want to slow down, relax and run a vineyard. I’ll make some fine wine, earn some money and just stay at home more. But that’s something I cannot do just yet. Still busy running around…. And you? … Maybe 10, 15 years from now, you’re already a Senator, or a big time person at the UN, or you’ll be Woman of the Year… and then I’ll see you on TV just doing something really significant with your life.. huh?

I don’t think so….

But I think so! You’re smart, you’re beautiful, you’ll go places I’m sure!

I took my gaze away from him and blankly into to the wall and slowly inward into the future I carved in my head. Then I uttered dreamily:

I really just want a simple, happy life you know. 10 or 15 years from now, I see myself doing a fulfilling job, and having enough time to pursue my other passions, and going home to a modestly sized but pretty, cozy house right by the beach or the countryside. Maybe by then, I also have a small family of my own already – a loving and responsible husband, and two kids at most. Nothing too grand. Just… something filled with meaning and beauty and joy and love.

Yeah?

Yeah. I replied as I pulled myself back to the moment.

Jayson looked at me again, but this time his stare said something different.

And then he embraced me tightly.  And the song came to an end.

______________

 

I couldn’t forget the way Jayson looked at me that night. It carried a sense of foreboding which, no matter how much I chose to ignore,  just wouldn’t escape me.

On the afternoon the next day, my fears were proven right. I received a rather long text from Jayson which I wished I never read.

“Janica, I couldn’t forget what you said about your dreams. You mean a lot to me, and our conversation last night got me feeling guilty. I didn’t really expect this to go this far, I didn’t plan to even have a second date with you. I didn’t plan on liking you this much because I didn’t think you’d be this amazing… but it all happened anyway. However, I don’t want to get in the way of your plans in life. And I should not have led you on. I wasn’t completely honest with you. You should know that I’m not staying long in the Philippines. I leave in June. July at most. Unlikely to ever be back. As much as I want to keep on seeing you, my job requires so much of me and it just cannot afford an inconvenience right now, or at all. I am not telling you that this would be the last time I’d see or talk to you, because I can’t. I don’t want to. But I’m hoping you ‘d take it upon yourself to stop seeing me, and to get away as far as you can from me. It is the only way to keep you on track. You are brilliant, and lovely, and you deserve to be happy. You are better off without me. ”

I wasn’t prepared for that message at all. And I didn’t know how to process all the emotions that it created either.  I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t stop my tears from flowing. I was so mad and so at a loss. And I couldn’t talk. nor think. No words. Not even a hint of reason.

But I needed to reply. Clarify. Change his mind. Then like a giant wave that came crashing through the shore, a thousand and one thoughts started running inside my head all at the same time.

Eventually,  I gathered enough courage and calmness to respond:

I am an INCONVENIENCE?! You have the fucking nerve to tell me I am an inconvenience? What the fuck, Jayson! WHAT THE HELL! WHAT THE FUCKING HELL!!! 

That is not what I said! You are not an inconvenience. Relationships ARE my inconvenience. You think we’d work out if I’m away three or more years at a time?  What kind of a husband and father would I be then? Will you ever be ready to live a life of uncertainty? Because that’s all I can give you Janica… Uncertainty.

Bull shit! Don’t fuck with me! Do you know that the Philippines has millions of Overseas Filipino Workers who are away just as much? And yet their families here manage just fine! Don’t give me this shit about your demanding job! Just tell me the truth, Jayson! You’re married aren’t you? Tell me! Are you married????

I’ve told you a million times I’m not married! You’re the closest thing I have to that!

Well fuck you!

Damn it, Janica! What else do you want me to say!

The fucking truth!

It’s all the truth I can afford to tell you. My job has taken over my life. And it’s not the same as your overseas workers.

To hell with your job, Jayson!  And to hell with you! I cannot believe you made a big fool out of me! You’re a selfish person! What have I been to you all this time then? Your favorite pastime?

Can you please calm down! You know to yourself that you are not a pastime. You know it! Don’t convince yourself otherwise because you know exactly how I feel about you!

My eyes were all bawled out by this time. My emotions were high as the sky. Thankfully, a full-blown exhaustion hit me like thunder. And I was saved. I lost all the energy to sustain our first real fight. And I just finished off the conversation with this last statement:

Just tell me the real reason why you’re leaving me. And you won’t ever hear from me again.

To which Jayson did not anymore reply.

 —————-

 Chapter 12:  Prelude

It’s been three days since that fight. Jayson and I have never spoken again after that. I was still so upset and mad at him, but I cannot deny how much I was missing him too. I couldn’t help but reminisce all our good times together, and all our bad times as well. I started recalling all the past arguments we had, hoping it might shed some light about his decision to suddenly end things with me.

I couldn’t think of a reason other than one. And if anything, recollecting our other fights in the past just made me miss him more. See, Jayson’s ability to handle my very potty mouth every time I get upset or angry, is a quality so unique and rare. He seemed to have mastered what all the others couldn’t even begin to comprehend. Jayson figured out the trick in dealing with my worst. Jayson would never leave in the middle of an argument. He wouldn’t try to give me space, hoping to calm me down first. He knew that never worked. Therefore, what he’d do is to keep “engaged” in our fight in order to give me the opportunity to air out all the feelings I have. He always had a head-on response to my every attack. He never ran out of words to say, and he would never ever try to shut me up. He just gets me. Except that he never really took my angry self seriously and never did he let my rude words get into his head. He would just play along so well, he’d pretend to be on this lovers’ quarrel with me even though we both know it wasn’t really the case.  One time, while we were in the middle of a heated argument (or so I thought) I called him a jerk, among other things, and I made a very offensive, yet quite clever of a remark. I was waiting for him to say something equally mean, but instead he said “Touche, babe! That is so witty, I like it!” and he chuckled, and I could see how truly amused he was of my play of words.

“What are you doing! I thought we are fighting!”

“Oh, right! I forgot!  and then he’d start to laugh. “Ok.  ahem. ahum. carry on!”

And then I would start recovering my normal temper – against my childish will, mind you — until there was nothing else I could do but throw a pillow on his way.

“Well i’m sorry, you’re too witty I lost my focus!”

That was when I realized that Jayson was never really flared up as I was. He was just giving me what I needed – a platform to take my emotions out.  He’d patiently wait for me to finish spewing fire, but occasionally, he’d forget his role and would crack the corniest jokes in the middle of the skirmish he had carefully preserved just for my sake. So I always just ended up surrendering to laughter too. And I used to be so annoyed at this but I also knew at the back of my head, that this was exactly how I wanted him to deal with me.

And so I thought the relationship I had with Jayson was so ideal. He was my perfect match – and I mean that not in the naïve sense of the words….

But now he was gone, and I couldn’t fathom why. I couldn’t point to anything that I must have done to piss him off or make him lose interest just like that. As I’ve said, I thought everything was going so perfectly well. And Jayson never saw me in a bad light. He only saw the best in me all the effin’ time.

Married to his job. It’s always been his job. He loves his job more than he loves me, or anyone for that matter actually! An engineering job in a water filtration company. Tssss. Subic Samar Palawan. Intramuros. The canons. Strong sense of direction. An engineer making sure to run every morning? And do some heavy lifting? Away all the time. Spanish-speaking American.  Passing himself off as Canadian. Smart. Wealthy. Cautious. A US Marine. Well, wait now — Why was there a book about Philippine topography lying around in his apartment? No. That’s crazy. You’re crazy. That only happens in movies. Stop. Don’t think about him. Work. Move. Distract yourself.

The distraction came too soon. My phone suddenly buzzed, snapping me out of obsessively analysing Jayson’s peculiar behavior and situation.

I miss you. I shouldn’t be texting you. But I miss you.

I forced myself to ignore his text. It was a task I was so unwilling to do. But I knew better than be too available for him. So I just kept quiet.

Guy’s stubborn though.

He kept on texting me in the next succeeding days until I couldn’t not reply anymore.

 I miss you too 😦 Why did you have to send me that text a week ago? 😦

It was necessary.

I don’t understand.

It’s complicated.

I’m not stupid, Jayson. I can understand your reasons if you just tell me what they are.

I know. Do you still hate me?

What do you think?

I really don’t want you to hate me.

You know what it’s going to take.

Janica. Come on now.

What are you not telling me, Jayson?

Not here. Are you free on Saturday? Let’s have lunch.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

 

 

World So Wild

5 Aug
If all the kings and all the leaders
Could see you here this way
They would hold the Earth in their arms
They would learn to watch you play

IMG20180429140337Children are often asked what super powers they would want to have. When I was young, I would always say I’d like to have invisibility powers because I wanted to be able to do mischievous things and get away with them every single time. haha.But as I grew older, I started to fantasize more and more about being able to fly, and being able to look down from the sky.

IMG20180429140604It must feel totally liberating to be able to look at things from a bird’s eye view; to somehow feel above and beyond the mundane. To see skyscrapers as though they’re all of the same height, and to fail to recognize the superficial differences of the people walking beneath me.

Birds on flight only see things as one. They see the situation in a whole-picture kind of way. Not by piece, not by individuality.  A characteristic I always attempt to embody, but which I fail at once in a while.

IMG20180429140447

It must be the greatest escape too! You know, when you just feel so done with what’s happening around you… you just flee and be alone up there. And be happy by yourself.

Fly. fly. fly.

Fly without a specific destination.

Fly without time restriction.

And only momentarily resting in the branches of the tallest of trees.

Ah it must be lovelier to be alone when one’s a bird.

IMG20180429140512

Why, that’s just me and my silly dreams.

 

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The closest I’d get to being a bird is probably by being inside a nest — man-made at that. haha. But i’m not complaining. 🙂

While these photos are obviously staged and curated, I was happy to pretend it was all real.  I twirled, and danced, and let my skirt do the flying instead. haha.

IMG20180429140419Maybe someday I’ll grow some real wings. Who knows? 😉

IMG20180429140744Until then… I’ll just stay inside my  head.

 

–Pictures taken in Bali, Indonesia.