Sinigang Sinigang For The Soul

comment 1 Comment October 3, 2007 – 8:47 pm

“I heard from a friend today

and she said you were in town,

suddenly the memories

came back to me in my mind…”

MISS IS THIS SEAT TAKEN?” The husky voice belonged to a handsome man in his early twenties. I was startled by the sudden intrusion and I could only mumble a quick, “no”. Corny as it may had looked but that was how it all started. Plain and simple. We were both on our way home to Davao. He was in Cagayan de Oro on a business trip I was told. I wanted to ask what kind of business but decided it was none of my nosy concern. I told him that it was my first time to go outside the city over the weekend unchaperoned. “Hmm, good for you,” he commented. I can’t say that I felt comfortable talking with him right away although I noticed that I was the one bringing the conversation. He seemed distant at first.

There was something in him that was quite strange. I guess it was his eyes and the way they stared at me; reaching into my inner being, searching into my soul as if trying to convey something yet afraid to let me know. Sometimes, I had to stop midway my sentence to ask if something was wrong and he would just say “nothing, please go on” and so I would continue as though his eyes weren’t beginning to bother me at all. His soulful eyes-they haunt me to this day.

I usually sleep on long trips but I made an exception for that particular journey. See, he really intrigued me so much I wanted to find out more about him. He seemed to relax a little as the bus began to move out of the city proper. He started to talk and appeared well at ease with his surroundings. He was a senior majoring in Sociology and was never short on subjects.

And so we chatted, exchanged ideas, commented on the scenery we passed, spoke on varied socio-political issues which by the way he was greatly knowledgeable about. We touched on everything there was to talk about, (considering the ten-hour drive) except– his personal life. He was elusive about it, not that he was the criminal type. I thought, he was more of like playing mysterious.

When we reached Davao, it was already half past the hour of five. He appeared to be in a hurry, said he still needed to catch somebody at the office. Where? I thought again. He asked for my phone number. I quickly wrote it on a piece of paper he gave me while he apologized that he had to leave at once. I had mixed feelings when he left. It wasn’t as though I expected him to drop me off the house or something but he could have at least offered. Or at least stayed a little while. I don’t know much about guys and he sure made it more confusing.

I had found out as I lay on my bed, after having dinner with my family, that I knew so little of Odin. Yes, that’s his name which according to the Germanic Mythology, is the name of the god of war, poetry, wisdom, learning and magic. I wanted to believe he was all that- the all-knowing, all-mysterious Odin.

I enumerated what I knew of him beside his name and came up with none. Oh, he told me that he was a senior student but didn’t he mention catching somebody at the office? What is he – some kind of a big shot in their school? A student leader? That’s it! Excitement filled me at the sudden realization of what his true personality revealed. Why haven’t I recognized that name and face before? Odin Gonzales was the student council president of their University and was a known political activist. He also happen to belong to one of the wealthiest families in the city (big deal!).

I remembered he was featured once in one of the local newspapers and was described as “a man at the prime of his youth, who could one day bring a potent change to the country’s political and economic struggle … a man dedicated to live his life for the cause of the masses…” Hmp, another dilettante bourgeois in the offing – the guy who lives in the plushy Insular Village, goes to an expensive school- he was going to change the country’s condition. What a wise crack! But of course my impression of him changed as I got to know him. He was indeed serious in his fight… in fact too serious. And that I found out later.

It was four days after our first meeting at the bus when Odin called me, just when I was about to lose hope. He asked if I was busy Saturday afternoon. My mind was racing; I had classes. But I didn’t know what hit me when I answered, “No, I’m not busy Saturday afternoon.” He asked where I lived so he could just pick me up. I was ecstatic and I couldn’t wait.

He picked me up on his ’78 model white Toyota. I noticed that he was wearing the same outfit he had worn the first time I saw him – faded jeans, a white round-collar shirt and brown shoes (not the leather type). He wore no jewelry except a wrist watch he unconsciously kept twisting. The car was rather old for somebody who could buy a ‘Mercedes’ anytime. The interior was bare, save for a rosary which hung freely on the front mirror- no stereo, no air-conditioner, no sign of anything luxurious- but of course that didn’t bother me at all. He said he was taking me to the beach and good thing I was dressed just for the occasion. He appreciated that and was I glad I didn’t decide to wear something fancy. The beach as it turned out belonged to his family. We had a grand time. To say that would even sound like an understatement for we had the most wonderful time of our lives.

Our date at the beach was followed by more phone calls and more dates- it became like a regular thing for us. He was a simple guy- not one of those fresh guys who loved showing off and worked hard to impress somebody, although he could be that if he wished. But no, he tried to remain as low-keyed as possible. It was as though he was ashamed that he was rich. “But we were not at first,” he protested when I brought up the subject once while we walked along the sea shore with the moon brazenly watching over us. “My grandfather was hardworking, climbed his way up there with out asking any favors from anyone or cheating anybody. And my father did the same too. I am proud of them; it’s just that most of the time I feel I don’t deserve everything that I have.”

“When I was still a junior high school student, I had this great teacher who opened my eyes to the sad realities of life- the time when what I only cared about were clothes and expensive toys. She brought the class to the Regional Hospital and there we saw people dying because they had no money. And I had gone only to the best hospitals. We visited the slums and I was shaken up to know that what I spent for one toy was what one family needed to survive for months. I felt guilty that I had so much and there were so many who had nothing. At that point, I knew I had to do something.”

“The summer of my first year in college, I formed a team and spent the entire time in a community on the mountains. We lived with them and helped them, without really spoonfeeding them. Then I started joining student demonstrations. There was one time when I was all bruised up with five others and still got detained for two days because of an ‘illegal assembly’… Well, more or less that’s my story and here I am now.” He said this then stopped and turned to face me. Silence filled the air.

I fell uneasy as his eyes were again searching mine. “Oh no, I’m boring you.” “No, Odin of course not.” I sat on the sand, kind of playing with it. “It’s just that sometimes I don’t understand you and what you believe in. I’m scared in what you do.” He sat beside me. “But I’m only trying to help improve what they cannot change!”, he declares. “Leave that to the government; that’s their job!”, I rebut. “Precisely! but as if you don’t know, they’re not doing anything at all”, he reasons. The debate seemed pointless, he still wouldn’t give in even when I said that “the poor remain poor because they choose to be that way… they are lazy.”

“Why shouldn’t they be? They work to death and still they don’t make enough,” he counteracted. And so l just kept quiet. But l loved him. I knew I loved him the first time we were on the beach like two kids carelessly playing and laughing until sundown. I knew I loved him the first time he held my hand and told me he cared about me.

“How can I be strong I’ve asked myself

time and time I’ve said

that I’ll never fall in love with you again.

A wounded heart you gave, my soul you took away

good intentions you had many

I know you did”

All is behind me now… tainted memories are all I have. I still couldn’t accept the fact that he had left me and the cause was more important than I. He said the union would take all his time and energy and it would be better for both of us if we stopped seeing each other. I tried so hard to forget him but the truth is I still loved him. “ring… ring…” The phone rings. “Yes?” I hesitantly queried. “This is Michael, a friend of Odin from the union.” Great, he doesn’t even have the nerve to talk to me, I thought.

“What does he want from me?” “Look, this is very important and very urgent. Odin needs you. He is at the beach right now; please see him at once before… before…” “What? Is he hurt?” I cut in almost terrified now. “I can’t stay long, they might catch me…” “Who?!” I screamed at the phone but he already placed the receiver. I hurriedly grabbed the car keys, and off I went to the beach.

“So here we are alone again

didn’t think it’d come to this

and to know it all began

with just a little kiss”

“Odin, what happened? Why have you allowed things to go this far?” I felt like crying now. I knew how badly he’s hurt but he tried to remain as able as his body could adapt. “I need to rush you to the hospital; you can’t stay in that condition for long.” He tried to protest but his body was beginning to tire him. I managed to bring him to the car and there he fought hard with death… He lost… “I truly love; you,” were his last words to me.

“Hold me, hold me
don’t ever let me go
say it just one time
say you love me
God knows I do love you
again …”

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Song “Again ” composed by Janet J., James Harris III and Terry Lewis is taken from the album “Janet” of Janet Jackson. Lifted from Kist- official literary journal of the students of Davao doctor’s College, copyright 1994.)


Every once in a while, I’d like to post some of my published literary works lifted from Kist, my college’ official student literary journal and The Clarion, official student publication. Translation: am soooo busy I have no time to write new posts!! Seriously, I have only old beat up copies of the school paper; they have yellowed with age and really are good to throw! So before they deteriorate further, I want to preserve them here. That I might remember how good and bad of a writer I was, I am!! hehe. I even had to borrow this one from a friend because I lost my copy of the journal. Note though that I’ve written them 10-12 years ago. I re-read some of my works and boy, some were really cheesy and mushy! Others huhumm, most ok and then a few so-so. Allow me to indulge… ;-) I am also trying to make a transition from my first blog in friendster to a new home here in There is more freedom to do what you want with your page here than in friendster.

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