Monday, August 11, 2014

Dreams and nightmares

I remember my father and I were watching a PBA game then seated in front of our old 14-inch television set one evening after a small family dinner. Mobiline, the predecessor of the current Talk N' Text Tropang Texters, was playing an opposing team I no longer remember. There were Andy Siegle and Jefrey Cariaso, and, of course, Asi Taulava - the beginning of his popular era in the Philippine basketball league. I remember it a little well because it was one of those very few moments that I would spend time with my father as I'd have to live most of my life without him. He was a n avid fan of basketball, a trait I inherited from him.

It was a point in my young life when my interest in basketball begun. Like any other boy, I wanted to learn how to play basketball. Without a father or a brother to teach me, I tried it all by myself. I spent afternoons throwing balls in this makeshift ring fashioned out of some rusty construction steal hoisted in our backyard. I never got the hang of it. After thousands of failed attempts, I gave up my dream of becoming a basketball player.

Instead, I contended myself in watching the league until I became an ardent fan of Barangay Ginebra. Then followed NBA where I marveled at those legends: Scottie Pippen, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan. Then I thought, if I can't become a basketball player, maybe I can become a court side reporter. 

I wanted to study in UP, but I didn't pass Diliman, and was instead referred to Los Banos which was never a choice for my parents. My father insisted that I go to Mapua and take up Engineering. Of course, I refused. I would've been very glad to enter Ateneo, but we are very poor, and so even if we sell the house and everything we had then, it still wouldn't have sufficed for my education. 

You see, I thought entering a UAAP school would kick off this dream. It was the year 2000 when Bobby Yan became very popular as La Salle's courtside reporter. Throughout the years after that, there were very few male court side reporters the likes of Aaron Atayde, Job De Leon and Victor Lopez. Sadly, I never made it. 

For the next years, it will be a succession of failed dreams. Contrary to my plans, I wasn't able to finish college with honors, no immediate job offers, and with no idea of what to do next. 

I thought I'd be a documentary producer, a field reporter, or a filmmaker. There was a time when I seriously thought of becoming a musician despite my mother's clear warning then that my piano can never feed me. 

Bad luck seems to haunt me even in aspects of love. While in college, I thought the prospect of romance will be easy once I started working. After all, I had some admirers back then. Not too many, but few enough to realize that I was not a goner. 

And yet here we are. 

I already lost counts on how much failure and rejections I've met in pursuit of romance. Alas, once more, I was forced to abandon another failed dream. 

Suprisingly, twenty seven years of dreaming and planning, I found myself as this noob writer. It was life's joke that I still ponder on about from time to time. 

I never thought I'll be a writer. Never had the talent, never had the patience. It was an odd profession. Maybe in other countries writers or journalists earn a decent amount or at the very least adored and respected, but definitely not here in the Philippines. Oh, and did I say I detest writing?

I wonder who's fault is it that the whims of a boy can't be a reality while it can for other kids. Of course it was a rant. And a senseless one at that. 

But life is probably like it. It is a senseless world, after all. One that inhabits a man who's dream is to grant his daughter's wish of a crispy chicken from that fat red-and-white bee. "Just one," she said, as they stood beside the store's glass pane watching hungry souls devour their meals in packs of cartons. In Tondo, Manila a woman was screaming in the streets, tears etched in her contorted face. His husband was gunned in the head while belting it out in a videoke machine by an annoyed neighbor.

Dreams come and dreams die. And only a fool will believe that hard work pays off, because if it had been, the world by now would've rid itself of slaves. 

Around 20 years after that little scene, I sit in a packed arena with howling colors of blue, red, green and whirls of others, clutching my pen, a notepad on my lap. A look into the score board, and another scribble. The game ended. 

There's Derrick Pumaren. In another bench there was Kenneth Duremdes. Not far from him were Marlou Aquino and Vince Hizon. I readied my phone, tapped the "record" button, and fired away my questions. 

Indeed, John Green was right when he said that the world is not a wish-granting factory. I've said it many times and I'll never stop saying it: life is unfair and never will. 

This is what I want to say. The only way to live is to be alive. 

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