Nice knowing you, 2015
I recently bid farewell to you through fireworks, loud music and calorie-rich food. Let me thank you for being awesome in those 365 days. You were marked with pleasant surprises, unexpected visitors, failed attempts, and difficult experiences.
You made yourself clear right from the start: You entered my life to fill it with much passion and adventure.
You were the essay that voiced its disappointment about the all-too-brief visit of Pope Francis in Leyte. You knew that you were not pleasing, but you insisted. Your honesty antagonized readers who told you to just be grateful, at the least.
You were the amateur one-act plays submitted to a local theater festival. You delivered my Easter Sunday surprise when you accepted my play “The Wedding Planners” in the stage reading category of Virgin Labfest 11. You allowed me to work with theater artists that I admire, and you introduced us on my 24th birthday. Clearly, you could not have chosen better timing!
You frequently caused traffic jams to inspire me with additional scenes and dialogues to satisfy my director’s request for more depth to the characters. You were the joke that I added a few hours before the show, and I thank God because the audience laughed out loud at you.
You were my loyal travel buddy when I went backpacking in four Southeast Asian countries. You proved that, indeed, one knows oneself, and others, from travelling alone.
You were extremely warm Cambodia, affordable and busy Vietnam, culturally intact Thailand, and laid-back Malaysia.
You walked with me through Siem Reap and Phnom Penh in Cambodia as the atheist British student who believed that your parents’ divorce was the best thing that had happened to your family. You were the female Malaysian Muslim who told your parents you were staying at a friend’s house, and not backpacking abroad, to secure their permission for you to go. You were the New York banker who resigned from your job and travelled around Southeast Asia for months. You were the Theravada Buddhism student who travelled with your best friend from China who studies Mahayana Buddhism. I did not tell you this, but I think you two were having an affair because of your intimacy and by the looks of your smartphone theme (pink and flowery).
You were the Taiwanese businessman who gave me a drink as we waited for the rain to stop in the busy tourist district of Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam. It made me sad to know that your girlfriend left you because she could not help you care for your sick mother. I sincerely wish you happiness and good luck. You were also the tour operator who I kissed under the influence of alcohol, with no regrets. Putting aside my emotions, that move guaranteed me a cheaper tour and higher exchange rates. Rest assured that I admired your sweetness and care.
You accommodated my short trip in Bangkok, Thailand, as the tour guide who aggressively sold us tamarind. You left me and my colleagues divided with regard to your gender identity. Let me tell you that you were not the only one who confused us during our stay. You were also the performers at the red light district who inserted and pulled out every (un)imaginable prop into and from your genitals. You were nonetheless entertaining.
You patiently stayed with me in a weeklong retreat in Sabah, Malaysia. You were the British engineer who thought that everyone cares about the Royal Family in England except its own people. You also pitied Queen Elizabeth for “not having had a normal, casual conversation throughout her reign so she must have been bored for more than 60 years now.” You were the Muslim engineer who will get married in May to your high school girlfriend because your parents are pressuring you to do so. I hope that unlike what you think, your fiancée will allow you to travel alone.
You were the Filipino woman who was raised as a Catholic and who converted to Islam because you saw the inherent beauty of the religion. You were also the undocumented Filipino Muslim woman whose life is confined to selling merchandise in the City Mosque and staying in your safe house. I seek Allah’s guidance to give you wisdom in creating a new life in Sabah, given that you are eager to marry a local. I hope that things get better from there.
You also taught me valuable lessons by not taking the human form. You were the strong rain that made descending Mount Ayaas dangerous. You inspired me to see beauty in countless art works and forms in eight local and foreign museums. You allowed me to surprise myself, my classmates and mentor during my writing boot camp with Jessica Zafra. You convinced me that if I were to have my first formal training in writing, it had better be under her. You reminded me that my talent needs constant practice and if I want to be an effective writer, I need to write more, observe often, and speak less.
While you gave me a lot of reasons to be thankful, you were also a pain in the ass in some occasions. You were the all-knowing client that I wish I never met; the boring account that I wish were more open to risks; the bus driver who injured my wrist when you suddenly closed the door as I stepped inside; and the unexplainable occasional pain in my stomach and chest.
You were the fear that crippled me from submitting entries to two writing competitions because you told me I lack the experience and drive. You were the work tasks that I cowardly executed because you demanded a lot. You were the recurring anxiety that caused me to eat late, sleep for a few hours, and exercise less.
You were countless Facebook “friends” that I deleted because you were negative, cynical, or plainly unfamiliar.
You were the person I regretted calling because you were no longer interested to talk with me. After some time I redeemed myself and seen-zoned you on Messenger because I had already lost my interest, too.
Looking back, I just want to focus on the bright side of knowing you.
You fueled my imagination, creativity and passion through 47 movies and 11 full-length theater plays that I watched, and 15 books and three screenplays that I read. You also gave me much pleasure from drawing portraits.
You were the countless punch lines that made me laugh out loud while hanging out with my high school and college friends and officemates.
Being with you gave me a lot of ups and downs. I’m sure I will encounter you again this year, perhaps in another person, place or situation. I hope that when that day comes, we can reconnect like old friends. I will probably tell you how I noticed that “times have changed,” and I hope you can end with “So have you.”
Rossielle Manicad, 24, says he hopes for a better year ahead. He writes some more at whenpencilwrites.blogspot.com.
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