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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thieves and beggars

"Nasa'n na daw sila?"

"Sir papunta na. Naghahanap na lang 'yung nanay ko ng kasama papunta dito."

"Sabihin mo bilisan na nila nagagalit na 'yung mga pulis."

"Sir promise maibabalik 'yung wallet at cellphone mo bago gumabi."

"Eh anong oras na kanina pa dapat sila papunta."

"Maawa po kayo. May dalawang anak ako, buntis pa 'ko."

"Kaya nga bilisan mo na. Sa 'kin okay lang naman eh mainit 'yung mga pulis. Kita mo naman pinagdidiskitahan ka."

Two hours ago

I was about to enter one of the popular malls in the city coming from an adjacent LRT station. I was already lining up for the usual inspection at the entrance when a woman suddenly cut the line in front of me. I didn't argue and just let her be.

She was a small woman, about five feet and two or three inches, wearing white plastic eye glasses, white shirt and jeans. Her hair was short with few highlights and she was carrying this little blue purse.

Five or six seconds passed, she left the line. She even voiced out her change of mind: "'wag na nga lang."

It baffled me. In an instant, a strange sensation filled my insides. Instinct told me to check on my back pack and there I found out it was opened and my wallet and cellphone were nowhere there.

I immediately scanned my surroundings. I thought the thief/thieves is/are still around. And then I saw the same woman who cut the line in front of me. She was already descending the stairs hurriedly, her eyes fixed on the exit not noticing me.

I ran as fast as I could and grabbed her in her arms. As I did, I called for the security guards manning the entrance a few meters away from where I caught the woman.

I told them of what happened. She was acting clueless. She said she was just about to enter the mall but changed her mind. She said she was not doing anything and that she just wanted to go home.

The security guards handcuffed her and brought us to the mall's security office. There, the security officers checked her purse and frisked her, but both my wallet and cellphone were not to be found. We concluded that she had few accomplices. She denied it.

The head of the mall security talked to me in private. There I introduced myself, who I am, where I'm from. I thought my identity made him more resolved to assist me. I explicitly told him I want the woman jailed. He nodded.

The next thing I knew, we hopped on a mobile patrol and we were headed to the police station.

Nerissa

As soon as we get to the police station, again, I gave them my identity. The usual reaction followed, but I immediately proceeded with my tale of what happened.

Then the police interrogated the woman. She was still denying she was the thief.

"Putang ina mo tanggalin mo nga 'yang salamin mo lalo ka lang pumapangit," the police officer said to her, slapping the woman's face. Her eye glasses flew straight to the floor with a tiny crashing sound.

The police officer picked the woman in her arm and brought her to a small room at the inner part of the station.

"Sir relax ka lang diyan. Bigyan mo nga ng kape si sir," the senior looking police told one of the policemen that gathered around us.

A minute after, the police officer came back and talked to me. He said the woman confessed her "crime." That indeed, her group were the one who took my wallet and cellphone. The police officer told me that he was able to convince the woman that if both wallet and cellphone were to be returned intact, she'll be free and no case will be filed.

"Pero sir siyempre sinabi ko lang 'yun para maibalik muna natin 'yung gamit mo. Sa huli ikaw pa rin magdedesisyon kung kakasuhan natin. Karapatan mo naman 'yun," he explained.

I nodded and agreed to the plan. I asked if I can talk to her. The police officers did not object.

She said her name is Nerissa. She's 29 years old and pregnant. From the looks of it, I guess her baby is about four or five months old.

"Sir pasensiya na kayo. 'Wag ninyo po akong ipakulong. 'Yung asawa ko nakakulong na sa Munti, may dalawa pa 'kong anak," she pleaded.

She said she was just a "bakero", a backer, and that she was not the "tagapitas", or the actual person who picks on the items the group is about to steal. There were three of them, she said. The other two were positioned behind me. The woman, she said, was named Alma, and with her a guy named Bong.

Apparently, she acted as bait. Cutting the line in front of me was their way of distracting my attention. It was then that her two accomplices worked on me.

She said usually she gets P1,000 or P1,500, depending on the amount of money or items they steal. It was only her second time joining Alma's group, she explained, but admitted that she was already doing it in Caloocan City with a different group.

Three hours after

The police officers and I were growing impatient. She was calling her accomplices and her mother thru her own cellphone that my stuff be brought to the police station immediately. My calm and reassuring voice turned vicious.

"Ano ba? Sabi mo kanina papunta na bakit wala pa rin? Pasalamat ka wala tayo sa Maynila. Kung dun ninyo ko dinale wala ka nang kamay ngayon tarantado ka."

At that time she was already sobbing. She asked me not to worry because my wallet and cellphone were already with her mother.

"Sir nasa nanay ko na. Pinakuha ko naman agad kasi baka ilaglag ako nina Alma. Sir 'pag hindi ninyo nabawi 'yung wallet at cellphone sampal-sampalin ninyo ko. Naghahanap lang ng kasama 'yung nanay ko."

I was getting frustrated. I wondered if I'm really getting back my wallet and cellphone.

Few minutes passed, the station chief arrived. He was a sturdy looking guy, probably in his mid 30s. He probably came from the Academy. I was introduced by his men and so, again, I recounted to him what happened.

After that, he went for Nerissa. What proceeded, shocked me to my core. The chief slapped her strong in the face and kicked her. Before I knew it, Nerissa was already on the floor, writhing in pain as she
was clutching her pregnant belly.

"Nasa'n 'yung mga kausap niyan? Ba't hinahayaan ninyong siya magtext. Ikulong ninyo 'yan," he sternly said. His men followed immediately

He took Nerissa's phone and talked to her so-called mother.

"Thirty minutes lang. Pumunta kayo dito kundi itutuluyan ko 'to," he said without even waiting for the person on the other line to respond.

Few minutes passed, an old lady with a teenager girl entered the station. She was carrying a plastic and from there, she whipped out my wallet and cellphone.

The station chief asked me to check if nothing is missing. A quick inspection proved that not a single centavo was taken. Both my wallet and cellphone looked exactly the same the last time I held on to them. 

The old woman pleaded for her daughter. Surprisingly, I felt not a single drop of pity for them. To cut the long story short, I still filed a complaint.

"Sir, kung hindi na kayo makakabalik para sa follow-up 'wag kayong mag-alala. Hahanap na lang kami ng kunwaring complainant," the station chief told me.

Epilogue

The police mobile dropped me in a mall a few kilometers away from the station where I can take a ride home.

While sitting on of those benches facing the night street, I noticed my hands were shaking. And then I felt my eyes were tearing-up until my sight became blurry. I immediately forced back the threatening tears and scolded my self.


I guess I was just really tired that time. I remember my last meal was breakfast. It was already passed 8:00 in the evening.
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Monday, October 28, 2013

Waves



Last week, I got a short reprieve from work and went climbing up the north. Had a few stops which include me and my friends getting lost somewhere in the mountainous area of Ilocandia. Nothing to worry though. We got out of it alive with few scratches and, as my friend love to call it, a near-death-experience, where we were holding onto each others' arms for our dear life, indeed narrowly escaping death via a sharp fall straight to hell from that treacherous cliff. Again, we're fine.

But the main target of this short get-away is to experience surfing in San Juan, La Union, christened as the surfing capital of the north. 

The waves looked pretty cool. Death-defying, as my friend described it (he loves equating everything to death), but I actually thought they were gentle enough for beginners like us. It's the genesis of surfing season thus both locals and foreign fanatics are starting to troop to different surfing camps across the country.

It was a year ago when we discovered the joys of surfing. It was in Baler, Aurora, where, despite our fears of never stepping onto a dry land again drowned by the deafening roars of the Pacific Ocean, we hired an instructor and just went for it, hearts thumping from nervousness. Surprisingly, before five minutes of it could pass, we knew. We're in love with it!

La Union's waves, as I initially observed, indeed was way gentler than those of Baler's. Although I should say that my Aurora-native instructor was gentler compared to the guy I hired in San Juan. The latter was more professional about it while the former seemed more like a friend teaching than a real instructor. In fact, I'm still blushing every time I remember that instance when, due to the smashing wave of the Pacific, my board short almost left me, exposing my ass as I was climbing back on top of the board. Luckily, he was kind enough to put it back. Embarrassing. 

Going back.

As I stepped on the surfing board, the familiar sensation kicked in. It was liberating, euphoric. If diving into the sea feels like being with the sea, and diving is like being one with it, surfing is like conquering it. And because it relies deeply in ephemeral conditions, every ride, though only last for seconds, felt like a glimpse to eternal ecstasy. 

It's possible that I'm exaggerating. That my overly poetic mind is altering the simpleness of it all. But really, it's no walk in the park to be able to stand the staggering waves. Truth is it's dangerous. It's tough. It requires a lot of strength, timing and balance to push yourself up. That's why it's a different rush of bliss, a revelry of its own kind. 

From the simple thought of being able to surf up to the metaphorical progression you can equate with it, surfing is one of those few things that brings me a certain kind of calm and pleasure. Like basketball and writing and jet skiing. A memory I always visit when the tides of everyday grind get tough. For whenever I'm up there alone, the sea on my feet, the heavens on my face, the entirety of it, it tells me that "it's alright" and "I'm alright."
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Sunday, September 22, 2013

That old gay guy in the sauna

There was always a sense of rush whenever I arrive in the gym. I'd go straight in the locker room, change clothes, do my routine, cool down a bit after, hit the sauna for a few minutes, shower and then off to my next schedule. 

But him, I always see him there. Most of the time inside the changing area, or in the sauna, or in the steam room. He would stand there in a corner pretending to watch the television, but if you look closer, you'll notice his eyes are always restless, waiting for something. Or looking. As boys and men strip to gear up for workout or office or school, his eyes roam the area. 

Always he wears that long white towel around his waist, emphasizing more his melon-like bulging stomach. His skin a little wrinkled. He's probably twice my age, possibly older than my father. He's bald. His face always connotes a sly smile, at some point evilish, always scheming. 

In those times that I passed by him, I noticed he was always catching my gaze. During the first few times, I would look at him straight in the eye with my infamous devilish stare which literally translates to "fuck off or I'll strangle your neck." But he didn't budge. Instead he just smiled and made me feel more awkward. So the next time, I found myself trying in all my might not to throw even a glance towards him. 

At one point, after finishing a tough workout, I went straight in the sauna to relax a bit before covering a basketball game. As I sat inside, I noticed I wasn't alone. He was there, sitting in that dank, dark corner again flashing that devilish smile of his. I tried ignoring him. I closed my eyes as I tried immersing myself in a far away thought. But I was unsuccessful. 

He moved and positioned himself closer to me. From that, I was already building a plan inside my head. I thought the moment he touch me, I will punch him in the face and drag his ass all the way to the reception area and report him. But he didn't do anything except from that point, he made annoying sounds using his mouth. Smacking his lips, rolling his tongue continuously - of course I knew what he was trying to convey for clearly I wasn't born yesterday.

When I opened my eyes and looked straight down at him, there's that smile of him again, his tongue gliding around his ugly lips disgustingly. 

It was too much for me. I tried my best restraining myself from being violent. Instead, I stood up. But before I could reach the door, I said "fuck you" in the coldest, hate-filled manner I could muster.

The following days, he was no longer trying to catch my gaze. But as I quietly observe I noticed a few things from other gym-goers. Some of the boys, whenever "old pervert guy" enters the sauna, would not hide their annoyance and would immediately leave. Some would even roll their eyes. 

I also saw him going after a guy but was blatantly rejected. One time, there were these two guys hitting at each other inside the sauna. And so I left to give them their well deserved privacy. Then came "old pervy guy" and in a snap, the two boys left the sauna room and head for the showers. But "old pervy guy" did not stop them. He followed them and stood there in front of the shower door breaking the "force field" between the two. But the most disgusting thing is when, at the corner of my eye, while I was changing clothes in the locker room, I caught him removing his towel, intentionally flashing his ---- that I can't even talk about. It was way worse than nightmare.

From then on, I looked at him like a vile creature. Someone who should just disappear so the world will be a happy place again. But then, pity. I don't know how to say it, but I kinda feel sorry for him. But again, that as another arrogant thing for me to say. 

I wonder, if he happens to be a young gorgeous looking guy, would he get the same treatment he's getting? Is he far from guys of my age getting blowjobs and handjobs inside the sauna or the steam room? And then for some reason, those question makes me sad. 

I still see him in the gym. And I still don't like him. But I don't know. There's something different that even up to now, I don't know what it is.

Yesterday, while changing inside this private changing stall in the locker room, I noticed a new vandal, in bold, saying: "DAPAT HINDI PINAPAYAGAN SA SAUNA/STEAM YUNG MATANDANG BAKLANG PANGET."

I never know what to make of it. But I thought, maybe it is true. That this world we're living in was never never kind. Hopefully I'm wrong. 
 

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