It was sometime in 1968 when I met my wife in an open study hall where we used to hold our music class under Miss Mercy Parroco in La Carlota City High School. She drifted to the said hall to take shelter for a sudden afternoon rain that fell unexpectedly.
|Gil and Rebecca at the Mabolo Tree 2011|
I was attracted to her mysterious actuation and to her lovely black long hair. I surmised that it was probably due to the adjustment period she faced for she's a third-year high school transferee from Saint Vincent Ferrer Academy, a private Catholic High School in La Castellana, Negros Occidental.
Our friendship grew and edified as we used to meet at the flagpole just across the facade of high school main building where we held our literature class under Mrs. Angeles Garin and where they had their community class too in one of the rooms there.
As often as we met, something strange happened to me. I couldn't understand myself every time I couldn't see her. Why I need to see her? There were nights that I couldn't sleep soundly just thinking about her. Why I need to see her? I asked myself.
I'd made up my mind to tell her something about my feeling towards her. In our next meeting, I invited her to a better place where only two of us could talk privately and she went with me without so much ado.
We proceeded to La Carlota City College which is 20 steps away from the flagpole where as of that moment most of my classmates were standing by waiting for the next period. We came closer to the dwarf-cyclone fence. Then I started confessing my problem to her which she was comfortably listening in to the details.
"Are you willing to help me with my problem?" I confirmed
"Yes, go ahead. I'm listening. What's that?" she replied confidently.
"Here in the school campus, I've spotted a girl who seems I have crush on her."
"I don't know but this is a coincidence that you've several similarities like your structure, the tone of your voice, the manner she carries herself, except her hair which is short."
"Tell me. What's her name for I'm going to help you. I want to bridge you to get both of you closer each other," she replied seriously.
I was about to open my mouth to tell her when her pink hanky unexpectedly dropped to the ground. I picked it up and got back to her. When I opened my mouth, the bell rang for the next period. Feeling nervous and I thought she was feeling the same, I was not able to say it. Well, we just right away proceeded to our respective classes in that morning without saying anything.
"What a bad time!" I deplored as I entered our class.
From that time on, I should be brave so I prepared myself. I kept rehearsing several lovely words even flattery ones to be shared to her when we meet again. I did on practicing them every time I go to school and even memorizing them. Alas! The opportunity wasn't for me. She didn't show up to our usual meeting place or even in nearby pine tree where her classmates used to stand by.
Fortunately, I saw Mila and I came to her and asked why Rebecca wasn't in school. She didn't have any idea. I got worried.
I was uneasy while attending our literature class. Our teacher noticed my unusual behavior inside the class. She asked me about a line from the "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, that says: "Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink." It took me several minutes to answer, for my mind was preoccupied of thinking how's Rebecca. My classmates laughed at me. I said I was sorry.
Back home, my mother noticed my unusual behavior too. She noted that while I was looking over the window my mind was blank. She asked me to cook our food for lunch. I took more than an hour to do it. She called my attention and confronted me to confide to her about my problem of what I have in a tender age of 17. I trusted my mother. I told everything to nanay. She tapped my shoulder and assured me that sooner or later I may see Rebecca again in school. I've to wait and be patient.
And mother was right. It was February afternoon when I saw Rebecca back in school.
But before that, in school, I overheard some of Rebecca's classmates who were planning to go Barrio La Granja on Saturday for it was the Fiesta Day of La Granja's patron Saint Vincent Ferrer. I was quite relieved to have a reason to go there too for it was Rebecca's place.
Past 8 in the morning, I arrived in La Granja. I saw a young man older than me chopping some pieces of firewood at the garden near the coffee shrubs. As I came over to him, Rebecca came out from their house and asked anyone of us to buy for her recados (pieces of spicies, food seasoning). The man volunteered. Well, I took over in chopping the firewood while Rebecca got back to the kitchen.
When the man came back with recados, he was curious about me. He asked if I'm related with Rebecca. I jokingly said, "No. I'm her boyfriend." With no following up question, he turned over the recados to me and excused himself for he has to visit some of his friends in La Granja at that time. He will just come back during lunch time. But he didn't
By and by, Rebecca came out and was looking for Roberto who is one of her suitors in La Castellana. I said he's gone and handed the recados to her.
Late in the afternoon until night, a heavy downpour was all over the place. It's impossible for me to go home. So I slept overnight at Rebecca's house and early morning, I went home feeling quite relieved of missing Rebecca.
Monday came. I went early to school, stayed at the school gate to wait for Rebecca to arrive. But no Rebecca arrived. Worry caught me. I waited till late 9 in the morning which was the usual time we met at the flagpole. But still no Rebecca! Again I was emotionally disturbed. I went home to eat my lunch crestfallen. I didn't eat much. I lost my appetite.
While I was about to go back to school, I overheard the Cascades singing, "I wanna be your lover, I don't wanna be your friend" from our favorite radio a.m. station, dyRL in Bacolod. This prompted me an idea on what to say when I meet Rebecca.
In the afternoon, I attended my first period class in Algebra under Miss Dolly Rogan near the canteen, just across the Science Building. I was not paying attention to her class. I was definitely worried. I kept on excusing myself to go out just hoping that I could find her around the campus. When the class was dismissed, I was the first one to go out and headed to the school gate and if by chance I could catch up Rebecca before she goes home in case she's in school that afternoon.
While I was walking, in a distant I saw Rebecca sitting alone at the circular concrete bench that inclosed the Mango tree. When I came closer to her, she didn't notice me. She stood up preparing to go for it was about 4 p.m. I called her attention. She turned her head at me and grinned. While we're walking together towards the gate, I told her if we could stop and talk for awhile in a rectangular concrete bench near the Mabolo tree at the facade of La Carlota City College. She went with me there.
"What I have in mind I should tell her," I thought. We reached the place. She was sitting and I was standing in front of her. But my mind was blank. Totally empty. I turned around for a moment then I looked straight to her eyes and the only thing I uttered was: "I love you!"
"I love you, too!" she replied.
I didn't know if she noticed me that I was overwhelmingly happy, but I got no more words to say. I was really tongue-tied.
By and by, I regained my strength, my composure. I held her hand and said, "Let's go. It's getting late. You might miss the last trip to your place." Then she stood up.
We arrived timely at the terminal for the service passenger was about to go. She got in, waved her hand to me with a big, happy smile. I responded. Then off, she's gone home!