Monday, June 7, 2010

bibingka



I ran into an old boyfriend at a vintage record bar two days after my twenty-ninth birthday. Neither of us spoke at first and when we both realized it was too awkward to just stand there, he asked if I wanted to get coffee. I think he was just being nice. Maybe he asked thinking I would decline but it was a Sunday and I had nothing better to do so I paid for my records and said yes.

Years ago, we were madly in love. No wait, that’s not exactly true. I was madly in love and he had just gotten over a long relationship and was looking for a “distraction.” Ashamed as I am to admit it, that was me. I took what I could back then. Those were such different times. My hair was longer and most of my clothes had at least one food stain. I had just moved into the city and I didn’t know that there were monsters hiding in the dark spots behind alleys and doorways.

Needless to say, it didn’t work out. Two women took him away one day- his mother who disliked me from the get go and his ex who changed her mind as quickly as she changed her hair color. For the longest time, I sat at home in tears, counting hours and footsteps, wondering how many of them it would take to bring him home. Prior to that inconspicuous day at the record bar, I had neither seen nor heard from him. That’s probably why I was stunned in silence when I saw him at the Jazz section listening to an old Coltrane record.

In lieu of coffee, I told him I wanted to get bibingka. “There’s this great place a few blocks from here.” He nodded, stubbed out his cigarette and hailed a cab.

We were mostly quiet on the ride there. The pleasantries had run out and in its place, there were several elephants in the cab with us. One was for why he chose her over me. Another was for why he didn’t write me back. There was one for if he really loved me. I had thought of that exact moment more than a few times in the past but the lines I rehearsed for hours in front of an imagined audience reeked of vengeance and bitterness and I just didn’t feel that way anymore.

“What do you want?” I asked as he thumbed through the menu.

“I don’t know. Just get me what you’re getting.”

I got us two of the café’s special bibingkas. They’re laced with salted duck eggs and threats of heart disease but they’re also good as hell. The entire place emanated with good energy and the overwhelming scent of butter. Over the PA system, an unknown DJ was playing Top 40 songs from two years ago.

“So, how’s Rebecca? You guys still together?” I asked. I figured we were there anyway so we might as well talk.

“She’s good. She’s at home, I think,” he said as he checked his watch. “Yeah, she must be home by now.” I hadn’t noticed but there were lines around his eyes now. He also had a few stray gray hairs here and there. He didn’t smile as much as he used to back then. If I were to be honest, I’d like to think that that woman sucked out all the happiness in him but seriously, it could be how the whole situation was just so darn awkward.

But I was fine. For some strange reason, I didn’t think it was awkward at all. I made circles in my glass of water with a purple straw. “We should get her something.” I said as I called for the waiter. “You can say it’s a bribe for coming home late.” I ordered a third bibingka and asked them to put it in a pretty box.

“Yeah, she’d like that. She’s been craving a lot lately.”

“Is she…” I stuttered. There was a lump in my throat that might need more than nine months to get rid of.

“Yeah. It’s a little crazy at home right now. I’ve been taking these long walks just so I can have some me-time. I think it’s her hormones or something. That’s how you found me a while ago.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize I was interrupting anything.”

“No, no. It’s good. I needed a, uh, a distraction.” We both froze at that word. He closed his eyes, probably regretting why he had to bring the D-word up again. And to think we came so close, so good at toeing the line without hurting anybody.

The food arrived and we ate our cakes in silence. Every now and then, he’d drop his fork and open his mouth like he was gonna say something but then he’d pick it right back up and continue eating. When he was finished, I still had more than half of mine. I couldn’t eat another bite.

“You want more?” I asked. “I had a heavy lunch and I’m just stuffed.”

“You should have gotten us smaller ones. I’m pretty stuffed myself,” he said, patting his belly like they do in cartoons. “Or we could’ve split one.”

“It seems like such a waste of good food if I just leave it here.”

“I could bring it home to Rebecca.”

“That doesn’t seem right. She shouldn’t have to eat my leftovers.” We both stared at my plate, wondering at what moment it evolved from a simple bibingka to a volatile metaphor. I looked into his eyes. He looked a little hurt by what I said. I wanted to apologize or maybe explain but he had called for the bill and I knew there was gonna be no more of it after that.

Outside, it started to drizzle. “I’m just gonna get a cab, if you don’t mind. It’s gonna start pouring soon. Can I drop you off anywhere?” he asked. I struggled through my purse for my fold-up umbrella as he lifted his collar and turtled into his jacket.

“No, I’m good. You know my house is just a few blocks away. I’ll be fine.”

“Seriously, it’s no bother. I mean, it’s technically along the way.”

“It’s not. You know that.” I said, with a chuckle so it wouldn’t seem so spiteful. “I’ll just wait till you get a ride.”

It’s a universally accepted fact that nothing is ever there when you need it. There wasn’t a cab in sight and the thunderclouds seemed right about ready to release their load on the unsuspecting citizens of the city. We stood there, shivering from the cold, me under my frail umbrella, him with an outstretched arm aimed at the highway.

“Listen,” he began, when the silence became too heavy to bear. “I’m sorry about before. If it’s worth anything, I really did love you.”

“I know. It’s all good now. We’re cool.”

“Thank you. That means a lot to me.”

A beat up taxi spit out a passenger across the street. “There’s one. Go catch it before somebody else does.” I said. He zipped up his jacket and made a run for it. His feet made such large splashes on the concrete. They muddied his khakhis from the knees down. I wondered if she would wash them for him.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized our take-out-slash-metaphor was still with me. After all these years, he still managed to leave me with the burden of our relationship. I popped it inside the refrigerator with the milk and my feelings as I wondered if I had just undone what years of therapy tried to rebuild.

Photo Credit: Bibingka

Gwen Stefani
Cool
Love. Angel. Music. Baby.

49 comments:

  1. ang galing, honey. :D

    (nakigaya lang ng comment ke victor)

    seriously, magaling.

    kamusta ka na citibuoy?

    -cio of H.C

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  2. How are you? Curious ako sa bibingka san yan? Hehe : D

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  3. where's the part na, "tanggalin ko nalang yung part na nalawayan ko na.."?

    to which a bitch replied.... "ano yun, ika-castrate mo siya?" nyahahahahahahhahaha

    i wonder how Vic and I will abuse this metaphor in the future.... yaiy

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  4. @Victor: Whurrabout honey? haha

    @Cio: Salamat, Cio. Eto, okay naman. Galing sa sakit. Kaso wala akong dalang pasalubong. Sorry ha. hehe

    @Ahmer: I'm okay. The original location was Ferino's (tama ba?) sa Makati Ave. It's really small and open lang siya so I had to make it a little more friendly to the story kaya ayun..

    @YJ: Yun naman. haha Kailangan may bukingan? In fairness, legal naman tong retelling. I asked permission. Plus, I changed a lot of things right? haha

    Abuse away. I love it when we do that.

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  5. i shall never eat a bibingka at via mare again without feeling used as a pampalipas oras.

    you totally ruined it, you know.

    ;)

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  6. I love their bibingka! I think it's the perfect ending to a good meal of Crispy Binagoongan. mmmm.. I'm hungry now.

    Sorry naman. haha I think we all have bibingkas in our ref naman. Good luck nalang. haha

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  7. its a poignant story, but i love it. i admire your style in juxtaposing the metaphors with actual situation. i'm a fan already. keep on blogging.

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  8. another well written entry! at natakaw ako sa picture. merry christmas! lol

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  9. @DomSent: Welcome to my blog! It's always good when I see new faces. :D Thanks for your kind words. I'm happy someone pointed it out. I was wondering if it worked or not.

    @Iya: Salamat! Tara, bibingka tayo. hehe

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  10. ahh. galing ka pala sa sakit. sana ay magaling na magaling na.

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  11. isn't it a wonder how food and emotions/ relationships somehow always seem to go together.

    pero nagutom ako sa bibingka :D does that mean gutom din ako sa emotions? la lang lols

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  12. @Cio: How sweet! Yes, I'm all better now.

    @Lee: True. Especially if you've read Like Water For Chocolate. That was just crazy.

    Pwede pwede. haha Eh paano yan, I'm craving for seashells. Does that mean...

    Haven't seen you around in a while. Hope everything's good. :D

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  13. honaaay, ansarap basahin. i could taste the bibingka hehe

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  14. ang galing citybuoy ng pagkakwento and it bites.

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  15. Thanks, Dave! And why is everybody calling me honey? hahaha

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  16. i dunno honaay..maybe people just find you seeweeet!!

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  17. my favorite!!!hehe..i mean the bibingka..

    at the very least..you had the chance of seeing him again (or u don't want that?hehe)

    wish i could be given the same [chance]

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  18. @Dave: I'm not sweet! Hmmmmph! haha

    @Darc: Relate? I think we all have these moments at one point or another. It's part of what makes us big boys. lol

    @Desole Boy: I once learned that we must make our own closures. Maybe if you have unfinished business, it's time to schedule something. If that's not possible, it least you would know that you tried. :D

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  19. ooohh this is nice nyl. i love it :)
    i think i have an idea what this is ^_^

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  20. Thanks Carlo. :D Yeah, we talked about it last Sunday, right? haha

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  21. aaaaaaawwww. i'll never look at bibingka the same way again. at oo, nagutom ako rito, nyl.

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  22. haha i walked by the bibingka place last night and lingered for a little bit. parang nagccrave nanaman ako. haha ako yata si rebecca. hahahaha

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  23. Nyl, I want to eat bibingka with you. Hahaha.

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  24. Bakit naman? Is that out of pity? j/k haha

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  25. I truly, truly loved the honesty in this post. The structure was great too. And your choice of words... what can I say...

    Ahihi sensya na nasa office eh hehehe

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  26. Hoy Glentot, nawiwili ka na sa generic comments ha. hahaha

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  27. a masterpiece. parang inaanod lang ako habang nagbabasa. i smelled it. i tasted it. i felt it. clap! clap! clap! :)

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  28. Thanks Aris. Eto nanaman tayo sa mutual admiration club. haha

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  29. "After all these years, I still managed to take on the burden of a relationship." must not have been good therapy if it could be so easily vanquished. =P

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  30. True. I guess I just feel like our problems don't really go away. We just forget about them. haha

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  31. awwwwwww. ang emotional... awwwww talaga....

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  32. @Nimmy: Thanks for reading! :D

    wv: mylene (?) da who?

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  33. Wow... Just wow.

    And the bibinka looks awesome!

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  34. Hi Marcus! Welcome to my blog. Thanks for reading.:D

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  35. Now I'm hungry. This is your fault. Haha

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  36. And that's my fault because??? haha

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  37. I want bibingka. NOW.haha.

    It didn't seem fiction at all. :)

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  38. Hi RJ! Welcome to my blog!

    Well, may parts naman na based on truth. haha Nothing is ever really fiction.

    Thanks for dropping by! It was really nice meeting you last weekend.

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  39. Thanks Jigz! Welcome to my blog!

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  40. Of course, this is a super late reply yet again. Haha! :)

    Wait, wait. Real life ba ito? (Sorry, ah. I'm really sleepy and I'm not sure if there was a note saying it isn't. Hehe!)

    How are you? All's great?

    Kain tayo. Sarap bibingka with hot choco. :)

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  41. Thanks, Angelo. I'm good. It's mostly fiction. Some bits and pieces happened in different times in the past. But over-all, it's fiction. :D

    Thanks for dropping by. I always appreciate it. :p

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  42. i don't have fancy words for this.

    i just want to give back some of the warm feelings you gave me after i read this, unintentionally, of course.

    i know we don't talk at work, but it's nice to be able to feel a sort of kinship.

    yuck ang sappy

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  43. Hey Donnie! Wow naman, you really visited my blog. hehe

    True, it's like we have a secret world because of blogging. Oo, ang sappy ko din. lol

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  44. Back reading, this is one of my favorites. :)

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  45. Hey Louie! Wow, this takes me back. Haha kahit ilang months palang, I feel like I'm a completely different person than when I wrote it. It's one of my favorites too.

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