By Ace Alvarez
Toronto, Ontario — Well, Brod B … I’m following North American Eastern Time, thus, if you find this a bit late in accord with the date and time at the part of the world you are in, I’m not really apologizing, nor, will I. The fact is, even if you say this is late, for me this is not; for what I am celebrating today is your birth, not only your birthday. You have always been a very good sibling to me. So, a BIG BIRTH ANNIVERSARY GREETING TO YOU, dearest brother.
Oh, I can’t really help it, but be nostalgic on this day. Today – and countless times, I remember all those happy times we have had.
I recalled occasionally the times when I was in high school, you would pop in my school at lunch time, telling me not to go home after school and that you have advised Papa already that I would be with you. You would tell me to proceed to your office a stone’s throw away from my school. From there, you would treat me to a movie in one of the theatres on Rizal Avenue in Sta. Cruz, Manila, dinner at “Panciteria Moderna” and, at most times, would ask me to choose a pair of shoes, which you would then buy for me from one of those shoe stores on Carriedo Street in downtown Manila.
I would remember every now and then those times when I would want something from your personal things, such as the fashionable Hickok leather belt at the time, or your 0.5 Staedtler drafting pen, which was popular among us students at my school. I would borrow them from you, use them for a day, or two, return the same to you and let you use them for a couple of days, then borrow the same again from you and use them for days. The cycle would go on for a couple of weeks. In the end, you would buy a new one of the things I would borrow from you, so I could have those borrowed things for my exclusive use and claimed them as “my own”.
I recalled that at 17 years old, I worked with you at your place of employment – a job I got by your influence and recommendation, too. I would remember how you would humor me while I was sitting on a sofa at the reception area reading a newspaper, or a magazine and you would sit closely beside me and would whisper, “May I kiss you?”. Oh, believe me; it irritated me to no end at the time, regardless that I knew you were in one of your sweet moments of injecting humor at the office. I remember the laughter from Lina — our office secretary at the sight of us.
I recalled with fondness the movie dates and dinners which continued even when we already had families of our own. I recalled those weekend evenings we drunk together: San Miguel Beer, Johnny Walker Black; and yes, that moment at my place in 1984 when on an early hour in the morning, Brod Bert said he wanted coffee. I said, I would make coffee, but he objected. He said he wanted to have coffee at a restaurant. So, we decided to take a ride, drove south to the highway from my place at JPA Subdivision in Muntinlupa. Reaching San Pedro, Laguna, then Binan, Sta. Rosa, Canlubang, Cabuyao, Calamba, Los Banos, we could not find a single restaurant which was open. How would we? It was 2 o’clock in the morning! The three stooges in us got the better part of us and proceeded to drive. Oh boy! Passing all those countless Laguna towns, we found ourselves circling. Came Mabitac, Laguna and, we, drove on and on. Brod Bert was on the steering wheel. At about 5 o’clock in the morning, we were approaching Rizal uptowns, until we reached Pasig and were back to “civilization” sighting other motorists on EDSA, to the South Expressway and finally our exit, “Susana Heights” fronting the entrance of the subdivision in Muntinlupa that the three of us lived in.
At shortly a little after 6 AM, we were back at my place and where we ended drinking coffee; the place where coffee was rejected earlier by Brod Bert! The silliness of us three that one rare morning!
My thought brought me back in the afternoon of that day when I dropped by our older brother Nelson’s place and told him our adventure in the wee hours of that day, thinking that he would be amused. At the time I was narrating to him our adventure, it so happened that you were coming by, too. HA! Ha! Welcome Brod B. you and I shared one sermon of our lives from BIG BROTHER Nelson, he being very familiar with Laguna and all those towns we drove by, the gist of his homily was, “Don’t do that again. Those places are infested by insurgents.” Oh, I remember the two us sitting quietly across BIG BROTHER Nelson, just listening to him. (To other parties reading this, please know that we were brought up by our parents where an older sibling is likewise an authority over younger ones and where the latter is bound by family values to respect the older sibling – something, which, I must say sadly, we hardly find nowadays.)
Also comes to mind was one time when I was in first year high school. We run out of cooking oil and you made me “sunny-side-up” for a quick lunch. Oh, the creativity of your mind!
In the late 60s, many times in Baclaran, Paranaque (then a town of Rizal Province), we would go for a 20-minute walk back-and-forth from our apartment on Tomas Claudio to the main thoroughfare of President Quirino Avenue to buy 50-centavo worth of “Menudo” at our favorite carinderia; our viand for lunch! The simplicity of those times.
Brod B, on this your special day, I repeat what I often tell you many times in our phone conversations: I love you, brother! I know that no matter what, I won’t be able to repay you for your extreme kindness to me; THEN and NOW! For all this, I AM ALWAYS GRATEFUL. HAPPY … HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Brod B!
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