life’s best surprises before 40

by Evans Yonson

(Note: I wrote this piece in 2008, a month before I went back to Barcelona, Spain to begin my PhD studies.)

manila – i am in manila right now. arrived here last wednesday, which was proclaimed a holiday months before by the president. but the holiday should have been a day before. only in the philippines do you have that type of holiday.

i arrived very early at the controversial ninoy aquino international airport #3 on that rainy and gloomy day. it’s going to be a week full of surprises.

October 1:

surprise #1: my former letran student and now filmmaker, JR Reyes, texted me and told me that he’s picking me up at the airport. we had breakfast at his place. lodie, another former student, picked me up and we went to SM Mall of Asia and stayed there for 3 hours.

suprise #2: almost 20 former letran students showed for dinner. suddenly, they kept on arriving one-by-one.

surprise #3: sharon, my favorite organization president (Letran ON CAM, which i was the adviser) came for dinner and drove me home. sharon and i really shared lots of moments 6 years ago when we organized the 3rd pelikuletran film festival. and we had fun preparing that festival.

surprise #4: i went home to lirio’s place, only to find that he was not coming until the weekend. i spent the rest of the night to mark, another former student. life’s best kept secrets are shared at midnight.

October 2:

surprise #5: i woke up early to go to the department of health – for the authentication of my medical certificate – the main that i am in manila right now. i explained everything to the doh personnel. surprise! suprise! i’m doing the whole medical examinations all over again. another 2000 pesos down the drain.

suprise #6: i didnt know that a single text message could mean that i’m not going back to cagayan de oro anymore. good grief!!!

surprise #7: my spanish stomach is back to work now. i had fresh lumpia for lunch and nothing else.

suprise #8: when i went to the south african embassy (to get shiella’s passport), i saw armando. he is the errand boy of instituto cervantes many years ago. we chatted and i found out that he’s working with the spanish embassy now. call that pure coincidence? or is the universe conniving with me now?

suprise #9: i went to the spanish embassy after the south african embassy. it’s embassy hopping time this afternoon. i talked to liza, the techincal secretary, and found out that i’m the last one who doesn’t have any visa yet. and she told me that she can wait forever. and that means up to december 31st. i explained to her everything that have happened yesterday. then i went home.

surprise #10: as the clinic instructed me earlier, i called them up and i was told that i have some bad signs in my lungs….. opppppssss!!!! dont think negative yet. i’m not over with this blog yet. then suddenly it dawned on me that i should stop smoking….. i couldn’t sleep. what’s the best thing to do when i couldn’t sleep? enter wild imaginings!!! go figure!!!!

October 3:

surprise #11: woke up early and left for the clinic. arrived at the clinic and i was told that everything was OK. damn clinic. what a relief!!!

surprise #12: since it was still early, i decided to pay my former officemates a visit. and boy were they surprised. osang and elvie entertained me over lunch till the afternoon.

surprise #13: my bestfriend, eli, came and how surprised i was that he has lost a tremendous amount of body fats and not to mention weight. his secret? the full dentures… i’m thinking what if i remove everything, will lose all these unwanted kilos?

October 4

surprise #14: it’s saturday and my letran students have been texting non-stop. sharon picked me up and off we went to SM Mall of Asia again. we parked on the third level and instructed by Chef Jojo. we were told to go directly to Congo Grille. we asked so many SM workers for directions but nobody (as in nobody) pointed us to the right location of the restaurant. MOA may be the biggest in Asia but its workers are dumbest in the world.

surprise #15: Chef Jojo is Jojo Arazas. he was my student back in Letran. he is also a member of our group called Kalso. He is a shotput varsity player. and boy, he is large. and i was expecting a leaner Jojo but with his kind of work who would lose a lot of weight. so, my culinary dreams will forever displayed in the cabinet and never in the backburner. or is it the other way around? burning like a sauna bath?

surprise #16: these students have actually mellowed down in their drinking. so am i. all we did the whole time was talk, talk and talk. we spoke about the fun we had during their college days. we transferred from one restaurant and ended up at Starbuck’s Coffee for a nightcap at 5AM the next day.

October 5

surprise #17: sharon brought me until Quezon Boulevard because her car battery was up for cleaning. when i arrived home, i was too tired that i settled for the living room to the surprise of Mark and Noel. i was really wasted. but had to wake up because Mark was preparing lunch that day for me. and my XU students were arriving shortly before 1PM. less than 4 hours of sleep and i was alive again. does this come with aging? if i turn 50 in ten years time, will 2 hours of sleep be enough then?

surprise #18: cobbie and palang arrived and we had lunch together. we went to quiapo because palang has been there yet. we went to sta. cruz then crossed the bridge to the post office. intramuros was the next stop. luneta was filled with religious fanatics. we went to robinson’s place. i was telling palang that the first time i was in manila, it took me only a month to see the national monuments. the younger generation has indeed changed.

surprise #19: we had italian pizza. i love pizza so much. it brings me back to the places that i love most – italy and new york. but here i am… still in manila. it’s amazing how filipinos treat pizza and pasta. sweet spaghetti with rice. spiceless pizza. go figure!!!

suprise #20: we went to mayette’s place in QC. her brother handed a boxful of films for 120 cameras. wow!!! isn’t this great? these are from new york. a gift from a friend’s friend, whom i have never met and yet he gave me all these.

surprise #21: just before arriving at lirio’s place, trichi’s sister, kit called me up and announced that she’s back from new york and she has all my lomo cameras with her. 120 films and lomo cameras in a day? that’s sounds really exciting.

October 6

surprise #21: i spoke to mark until 2AM about many matters from the mundane things to the philosophical matters of the heart and soul. quite unusual for someone who just came out of the wonder closet.

surprise #22: i woke up at 6AM to the smell of ilocano chorizo. lirio’s home and cooking my favorite dish bought by his mom in tuguegarao.

surprise #23: i went back to sleep and woke up around 12 noon. we went to the spanish embassy and found out they only needed 5 documents, of the so many that i brought from cagayan de oro.

surprise #24: music one in SM Megamall does not have the same music collection as before.

surprise #25: swatch does not sell my favorite leather strap anymore.

surprise #26: krispy kreme stores give out donuts when their neon signage is on.

surprise #27: there are Tamaraw FXs from RCBC Plaza going to SM Megamall for 30 pesos only.

surprise #28: AECID now occupies half of the 28th floor of the Rufino Tower. but you have to go through several doors to meet the people there.

surprise #29: i’m stopping here. because i believe in what apples aberin said in her commercial – it’s ok to be 40, for as long as you look and feel 30.

but i’m taking it a year less to make me feel a bit even younger.

29 surprises in a week. some things are meant to be and some aren’t.

but whatever the matter is, i am taking life a day at a time.