“..I vow to tolerate your
mood swings, as much as I can. I vow to try my best to keep you calm whenever
you have your period and you want to transform into a monster; a very beautiful
monster, of course. I vow to let you hold the remote control, like, 90% of the
time during weekdays and and 65% on weekends. I vow to cook for you whenever
you’re hungry or not or whenever you pretend to be on a diet but you’re really
not, I will force you to eat, because I don’t really care if you will be big as
an elephant, as long as you won’t look like a walking stick. I vow to listen to
you, to you every drama, no matter how pointless they could get. I vow to
ignore that fact that, sometimes, you love Channing Tatum and John Lloyd Cruz
more than me. I vow to pretend that I love The Vampire Diaries when I really do
prefer watching Games of Thrones, it’s more awesome. And hey, fine, I will let
you use my poor finger and toesnails for your nail polish experiments, just
promise you get rid of them afterward. I vow to take your side when all of your
friends are against you, even if you’re the that’s who’s wrong point. I vow to
shut up when you want me to, and talk when you want me to, and do both when you
want me to. I vow to be your best friend, your brother, your father, your grandfather,
your pet, your pillow, your blanket, your punching bag, you shoulder to cry on
and your stress absorber all the days of your life. I vow to be the boy, the
guy, and the man who will love you for the rest of his life. I vow to keep my
every vow and you will always be my number one girl. I will love you forever.”
Julie smiled. She felt her tears fall from her eyes. She wiped
them away and looked around to see if anyone caught her. Luckily, all eyes were
at the two people exchanging wedding vows at the altar.
It was one of the sweetest vows Julie has ever heard. At hindi
nya mapigilang hindi ma-touch.
Then her phone vibrated inside her clutch bag. Pagtingin nya’y
muli syang napangiti. Lumabas sya ng church at doon sinagot ang tawag.
“Yes?” Sagot nya.
“Pop quiz. How much would you do for love?” tanong ng lalaking
nasa kabilang linya.
“Really? Di man lang sumubok na sagutin?”
Julie laughed. “You should be here. The wedding is so
beautiful. Narinig mo sana iyong wedding vow ni Brad kay Chin.”
“I’m the one who wrote that for him, I know every word! Please,
tell me, he didn’t add any more freakin’ baduy lines.”
“He didn’t dare.”
Julie smiled and looked back at the church. “I really hope
they will live happy ever after.”
“You organized a perfect wedding and reception for them and you
weren’t talking to me for days for Pete’s sake, they owe you a lifetime of
Muling natawa si Julie. “I miss you. Kelan ka ba uuwi?”
“Very soon, Malay mo, I’m on my way na.”
“You know I hate surprises.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t surprise you.”
“I need to go back inside. I’ll call you later. You need to
prepare that phone patch message or else I won’t talk to you for a month, okay?”
“Ang layo ko na nga, nagagawa mo pang maging bossy. Alright,
alright. Enjoy the wedding. i love you.”
“Love you, too.”
“Oh. My. God.”
“Hello to you, too.”
Nanatiling nakatayo si Amber habang pinagmamasdan ang binatang
kaharap. With an obvious expression of disbelief on her face, napailing na lang
sya until a smile appeared. “You are unbelievable, you bastard.”
Elmo snorted and laughed, and put his bag down. Hewelcomed Amber
into his arms as she walked towards him. His sister didn’t say anything and
just hugged him for a long time. Napangiti na lang sya nang muli sya nitong
titigan pagkatapos nilang magyakapan na para bang literal syang bumangon mula
“Dad’s right.” sambit ni Amber. “The prodigal son always comes
“So you’re still his number one fan, huh.”
Amber released a cold laugh. “He just bought me a new car.”
“Tsss.” react ni Elmo. Saka napansin ni Amber ang malaking
maleta na nasa likod ng binata.
“Would that be good for a month or two?” tanong nya sa kapatid.
Elmo took a deep sigh and gave his sister a very sincere smile.
“It’ll be good for good.” Amber narrowed her eyes at saka inubos ang natitirang
wine sa bitbit nyang baso.
“You’re kidding.” Elmo didn’t answer. “I know you and there’s no
way you will stay in one place for a long time, especially not here.”
“Bakit? Ayaw mo ba?”
“For one, kahit na mukha ka pa ring sira ulo, I’m actually, sincerely
happy to see you. At kung seryoso ka nga, I need you to keep your word.” Kapwa
sabay na nagbago ng mood ang magkapatid at naging mas seryoso ang usapan. “He’s
dying. And now you’re here, it’s time for you to finally fix things. Don’t you
Elmo glanced at the stairs and when Amber noticed, napalingon
sya at nakitang nakatayo roon si Brad. Maya-maya'y lumapit ito sa kanila.
Diretso itong nakatingin kay Elmo. Amber looked at her two brothers. She made
way for Brad to get closer to Elmo, and eventually, she felt so relieved when
the two finally reached other and hugged.
“You’re back.” bulong ni Brad.
Elmo nodded slightly. “Yeah.”
“Photography?!” natatawang sambit ni Amber. “Seriously?”
Napasimangot si Elmo. “Why do you sound so surprised?”
“Wala. Hindi ko lang in-expect na kahihiligan mo iyon. I
“You thought what?”
“You’ll be into…I don’t know, business, music, or whatever. Not
“He’s our father’s son.” Singit ni Brad. “That’s just a proof.”
Napabaling si Elmo sa pinakamatanda nilang kapatid. One of their dad’s hobbies
is photography, at nagpe-paint din ito. “What kind?”
Elmo tried not to smile or laugh. “Weedding.” And the reaction
from Brad and Amber was what he was already expecting. Hindi na nya napigilang
matawa sa mga kapatid dahil sa pagkabigla ng mga ito. They look at him as if he
isn’t the brother they thought they knew. Well, he’s obviously changed, so he’s
“You hate weddings!” bulalas ni Amber.
“Who are you and where the hell is our brother?” si Brad.
“Very funny.” sagot nya. Binalingan muna nya si Amber. “I used
to hate weddings, not anymore.”
“But why weddings? So you do prenups din?”
“Oh my gosh.” At saka nya pinagtawanan si Elmo. “You’re so cute,
Moe, my baby brother.”
“How long have you been into wedding photography?” tanong ni
“Two years. Actually one of the reasons why I’m here is because
I have two clients for this month. And I-”
“Now, look who’s here.” Sabay-sabay na napatingin ang
magkakapatid sa pinagmulan ng boses na iyon. Napahinto si ELmo nang makitang
nakatayo sa may pintuan si Logan, ang papa nila. Naka-simpleng t-shirt at
pajama lang ito at kahit halatang maysakit ay hindi pa rin nawawala ang
Tumayo si Brad at nilapitan ang matanda. “Dad, why did you go
out? You need to stay in bed for-”
“I don’t need to rest.” sagot ni Logan. “I’ll be sleeping for
the rest of my life in a couple of months.” katwiran nito. Saka ito mulimg
bumaling kay Elmo. “Son.”
At ang salitang iyon lang ang hinintay ni Elmo para tuluyang
gumaan ang pakiramdam nya. He stood up and walked towards his dad. “Dad.”
“Moe,” si Amber, “Take dad to his room, please.”
Pagsandal ni Logan sa headboard nya'y hinila ni Elmo ang isang
upuan at inilapit iyon sa kama nito. Doon sya umupo at sinalubong ang mga
tingin ng ama. He’s just 50 years old when he was diagnosed with cancer, and
he’s been fighting it for almost 20 years now. Nagpabalik-balik ang sakit nito
hanggang sa dumating sa puntong hindi na kaya ng kahit anong treatment dahil
nagkalat na sa bawat parte ng katawan nya.
“Two months.” Umpisa ni Logan. “The doctors said I have two
months.” Nagbaba ng tingin si Elmo. “You know, my doctor is a very religious
man. He knows miracles can really happen. He’s been a doctor for 30 years now
but he never stopped believing on a higher power.” Elmo’s still looking down.
“It was just 3 days ago when I came home from the hospital. I told him, ‘Are
you sure I still have 2 months? Pakiramdam ko hindi pa ako nakakauwi e
mamamatay na ako’. And then, you know what he told me? ‘I wish you would have
more than that. But if you won’t, you have to make it at least 2 months.You
still need to wait for your son to come back’.” Dahan-dahang nag-angat ng
tingin si Elmoat tinitigan ang ama. "That’s why I like him very much.“
tuloy ni Logan. "And since that day, all I’ve ever wanted was for you to
finally come home. Because doctors aren’t always right. And I’m scared of
thinking…hindi ko man lang makikita ang bunso ko bago ako sintensyahin.” Then
Logan finally showed that smile he’s been hiding since he saw Elmo. It’s been 4
years nang huli itong umalis. “I’m happy to see you, son.”
And the tears came in quicker than the words for Elmo. “I’m so
sorry, dad.” Saka ito lumapit sa ama at maingat itong yumakap. At para itong
batang maliit na umiyak sa magulang. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay.” mahinang sagot ni Logan. “It’s okay, son.”
Elmo’s suitcase is still full and he hasn’t emptied his bags
yet. Nakahiga sya sa kanyang kama, sa kuwarto nya na walang ipinagbago simula
nang huli syang umuwi doon. He’s staring at the ceiling. The little stars are
It was his dad who drew those stars, at ito rin ang nagpintura
sa buong kuwarto nang bata pa si Elmo. He hated the design, at hindi na rin nya
maalala kung ilang beses na silang nagsigawan at nag-away sa silid na iyon,
sila ng daddy nya. But now, for the first time in a very long time, he finally
feels he’s home. And he missed everyone so much, especially his father.
Saka sya bumangon at nilingon ang malaking bintana sa kuwarto
nya na nakabukas. Madilim na sa labas at ilang oras na lang ay matatapos na ang
araw na iyon.
And once again, he thought of her.
“Knock, knock!” Lumingon sya’t nakita si Amber. Nabuksan na nito
ang pinto bago pa man ito kumatok. “Can i come in?”
Amber smiled. Pumasok sya’t isinara ang pinto. Nilapitan nya si
Elmo at saka umupo sa kama nito. “The old man was asking about you before I’ve
convinced him to go to sleep.”
“Sinabi ko na sa kanya. I’m not going anywhere.” sagot ni Elmo.
“I know. He knows. It’s just that, hindi mo rin maiiwasang
hanapin ka nya. When all you’ve done was leaving, people would always think you
will leave again. Leave, come back, leave. Never stay.”
Tinitigan ni Elmo ang ate nya. Amber has been separated for 2
years now and simula noon ay lagi na itong umiinom. She stopped working and
focused herself on taking care of their father, but there are time when she
till breaks down and she seeks comfort on wine and liquor.
“Not if you have a reason to.”
Amber smiled and touched her brother’s hand. “It’s okay kung
darating iyong araw na gusto mo ulit umalis. Just promise me, you’ll stay with
dad while he’s still around.” Elmo smiled back at her and slightly nodded.
Napabuntong-hininga si Amber at saka pumwesto sa tabi ng kapatid. They’re both
facing the same direction and she’s still holding his hand.
“I know that… dad and us and your work aren’t the only reasons
why you’re here.” Elmo didn’t react. He knows exactly what Amber’s talking
about. She turned to him. “In a day, nagawa mong maayos ang lahat sa pagitan
nyo ni dad, at sa inyo ni kuya Brad. You’ll be able to fix things with her,
Nilingon ni Elmo ang ate nya. “I hope it’ll be that simple.”
“Just talk to her and tell her everything.”
“Ano bang kailangan kong sabihin?”
“I don’t know. You know.”
“I broker her heart.” mahinang sabi ni Elmo
“She broke yours, too. And she’s the only one who can fix it.”
The next day, Elmo woke up early to meet his first client for
that month. He checked on his dad and assured Amber and Brad that he’s
definitely going home after work.
He arrived at the meeting place at exactly 7:30 AM. And he
had time to study the pre-nup and wedding theme for 30 minutes. At 8:05 AM, his
clients arrived. The engaged couple and their common friend, Felix.
“Moe!” At nagyakapan ang dalawa. “Sorry pare, we’re late.
“It’s okay, Fel.”
“Here, I want you to meet, Jessica and Billy. Jess’s my high
school classmate and a very good friend. Billy’s my former officemate.”
“Hi.” Kinamayan ni Elmo ang dalawa at nagpakilala na rin sya sa
mga ito. “When Felix knew we’re getting married,sinabi nya agad na he knew
someone who could be the perfect photographer for us.” si Jessica.
“And since, we trust him,” si Billy. “We immediately said yes.”
“Well, this guy here,” turo ni Felix kay Elmo, “He’s really
good. He’s been around Europe and South America covering all kinds of weddings.
You sure won’t regret it.”
“Coincidentally, Felix is the president of my fans club so I’m
glad you guys found me.” Pabirong pagmamayabang ni Elmo. “You won’t regret it
Felix rolled his eyes. “Just excuse the conceitedness.” Sabi
nito sa magkasintahan. And they all laughed and started ordering for food.
“We already have our coordinator, medyo nagtampo nga nung
malaman nyang hindi namin kukunin iyong photographer nya. But she’s nice and
she wants to have a meeting with you, too.” ani Jessica.
“Ahm, sya nga iyong kinuha nyong coordinator?” biglang tanong ni
“Yeah. She’s my brother’s-”
“I actually invited her to be here.” singit ni Billy.
“Oh, you did?” BIglang nalimutan ni Jessica ang nais sabihin
“Yeah, baka na-traffic din.”
Saka napansin ni Elmo ang naging reaksyon ni Felix at ang
pagsulyap nito sa kanya. Napakunot-noo sya nang nag-peace sign ito at hindi
pinahalata kina BIlly.
“There.” sambit ni Jessica. At dahil sa hindi maipintang
expression ni Felix sa mukha, nagkaroon na ng ideya si Elmo sa dahilan kung
bakit ganon ang reakyson ng kaibigan. Saglit syang napapikit at bumuntong
hininga, at saka lumingon.
He saw how that beautiful smile disappeared from her face. And
from the way they stared at each other, the soon-to-be-wedded-couple realized
the two know one another.
“Mukhang there’s no need for introduction.” sambit ni Billy.
“Julie!” masayang bati ni Jessica. Tinignan sya ni Julie at saka
ito muling ngumiti. Nagbeso-beso ang dalawa at nakipagbeso rin ito kay Billy.
“Good morning.” bati nya sa mga ito. At simpleng nginitian naman
nya si Felix na kumaway sa kanya.
Elmo’s just watching her, until she sat on the remaining vacant
chair across him. And their eyes met again. No one smiled. No one talked.
“Julie, seems like you already know Elmo?” tanong ni Jessica.
“Yeah. I do.” sagot nito.
“Great. Since you two already know each other, for sure hindi na
kayo magkakaproblemang magtrabaho together. Elmo, Julie’s our wedding
coordinator.” sabay tingin ni Jessica kay Elmo. Pagdaka'y binalingan nya ulit
si Julie. “Elmo will be our photographer, Jul. Small world, huh.”
“Photographer.” sambit ni Julie habang nakikipatitigan pa rin sa
binata. “Nice.” At siguradong na-sense ni Elmo ang sarcasm sa tono ng dalaga.
“Teka, parang ang tagal nyo na ring hindi nagkita ah.” sambit ni
Billy. “Judging by the way Elmo being…speechless.”
Elmo was the one who looked away and turned to Billy. “Four
“Oh.” At tahimik lang si Felix habang pinapanood at nakikinig sa
apat. “Do you used to be lovers?” biglang tanong ni Billy.
“Honey.” awat ni Jessica habang tumatawa. “Seriously?”
“Why?” At sabay-sabay silang napatingin kay Felix na biglang
napa-ehem. “They seem like they have 'a past’.”
“Actually,” Julie spoke. “We weren’t. He used to be my
crush but…he didn’t feel the same way about me.” At nalipat sa kanya ang
atensyon ng lahat. Muli silang nagkatitigan ni Elmo. “Did you?” And she gave
him a smile.
Nanahimik sina BIlly at Jessica nang mapansin ang makahulugang
titig ni Elmo at ngiti ni Julie. They finally felt the tension and both looked
at Felix for help. And the latter understood.
“Well, sabi nga nila past is past. We’re here for Jess and
BIll’s wedding and their future, so, lets’ eat and get started?” suhestiyon ni
Felix. It was a terrible way of diverting the topic but it worked.
Julie remained composed and acted like Elmo’s a total stranger
she just met and Elmo tried to do the same. After a couple of hours, their
“I’m so looking forward for our prenup shot.” si Jessica. “I’ll
see you both in 2 days.”
“Ingat.” taning nasagot ni Elmo.
Naunang umalis ang dalawa at naiwan sii Felix kasama sina Elmo
at Julie. When Elmo found a chance to talk, Julie grabbed it first. “So since
you don’t have your guys with you and obviously, you can’t do it all not alone,
I’ll take my photography team with me sa shoot.” seryosong sabi ni Julie.
“Sure. Just make sure you pick the ones who are not difficult to
Julie smiled. “As long as you’re not being difficult, we won’t
have any problems. Mauna na 'ko sa inyong dalawa. See you in two days.”
Felix watched as Julie walked away while Elmo just stood there
and didn’t move at all. “Hey, Moe. What’re you doing?”
Elmo took a deep sigh. “She won’t talk to me.”
“Pare, kung kinamumuhian ka pa rin ni Julie, hindi na yan
tumuloy na makipag-meeting sa 'tin.”
“She’s just being professional.”
“Look pare, sorry kung hindi ko nasabi na sya yung coordinator,
ang sabi kasi ni Jess hindi pa sure iyon. Pero you and Julie will be working
together, on a wedding, for the next two weeks! You can’t have this cold
relationship with her.”
Hindi na nagsalita si Elmo at napabuntong-hininga na lang nang
malalim. He didn’t expect na sa ganoong paraan pa sila magkikita ulit ni Julie.
And clearly, she still hates him as much as she did four years ago.
Nakahawak na sa pinto ng kotse nya si Julie pero hindi pa rin
nya iyon binubuksan. Muli syang pumikit at huminga nang malalim at pilit
pinakalma ang puso nya na mabilis pa rin ang pagtibok. Hindi nya alam kung
galite ba sya o ano. Soon as she saw Elmo’s face, she’s been trying very hard
to get herself together.
“Are you okay?”
Napalingon sya bigla at nakita ang binata, She took anothesr
deep breath. “Yeah.” tatalikod na sana ulit nang,
“Can we talk?” pormal na sambit nito. Tinignan nya ito.
“No. I’m a busy person. At kung hindi tungkol sa kasal nina Jess
ang gusto mong pag-usapan natin, I don’t think I have time for any 'talk’.”
Elmo took a few steps closer to her, without breaking their eye
connection. “No. We need to talk about 'us’.”
Napataas ng kilay si Julie. “Us?” at sarkastiko itong tumawa.
“Oh my God, are you for real?!”
“I’m serious. I need to-”
“You need to what?” biglang seryoso ulit ni Julie. At hindi na
nya itinago pa kay Elmo ang galit sa mga mata nya. “I have to go-”
“Don’t waste my time!”
“I want you to come with me.”
“What?! And why would I do that?”
“So we can talk?”
Hindi kaagad sumagot si Julie at galit na tinitigan lang ang
binata. And then she took a couple of steps forward and didn’t blink while
looking at Elmo. “I don’t want to talk to you.”
At wala nang nagawa si Elmo kundi panoorin na lang kung paano
sya iniwang mag-isa ni Julie doon. He wanted to follow her and convince her,
but he knows her well and her stubborness hasn’t changed. He just let her go,
“I heard that his dad’s sick.”
Nilingon ni Julie si Kasey. Kasama nya ito sa bahay at matagal
nang kaibigan. Inaayos ni Julie ang planner nya at nabanggit nya kay Kasey ang
pagkikita nila ni Elmo.
“Paano mo naman nalaman iyon.” tanong nya.
“Magkasama sa work ang ate nya at ate ko, remember? Di ko lang
binabanggit sa iyo dahil baka mamaya mawala ka lang sa mood.” Hindi kumibo si
Julie. Umupo si Kasey sa kaharapan nya. “Ano nang hitsura nya?”
“Ganun pa rin.”
“Ganun pa rin? Sure?” Julie just rolled her
eyes. “Bakit ‘di mo man lang kinausap?”
“What? Matagal na rin naman iyon diba? Don’t you think it’s time
na para mag-stop ka na sa pagiging bitter mo? isa pa, hindi naman naging kayo-”
napatigil si Kasey nang mapansing iba na ang tingin ni Julie sa kanya. “O
teka teka, baka sabunutan mo ‘ko ha, tandaan mo hindi ka sa akin galit.
Sinasabi ko lang naman iyong totoo e. Malay mo, binalikan ka nya para once and
for all ayusin na iyong sa inyong dalawa.”
“Ikaw na nagsabi diba, di naman naging kami. Wala namang dapat
ayusin.” sagot ni Julie.
“E ba’t ganyan ka ka-bitter?” Inis na tumingin si Julie sa
kaibigan. “Kausapin mo na, kung ako sa iyo. Para finally, matanggal na
yang mga ‘what if’ at ‘whys’ sa puso mo. At nang hindi ka na
um-ampalaya.” Saka na tumayo si Kasey at tinuloy ang pagluluto ng hapunan nila.
Hindi na nakipagtalo pa si Julie. Alam kasi nyang kahit na ayaw
nyang aminin ay tama si Kasey.
Napalingon si Julie nang marinig na bumati si Billy. Saka nya
nakitang dumating si Elmo at binati ang dalawang magkasintahan.
“G’morning.” Nagtanggal ito ng shades at tinignan sya. Saglit na
nagtama ang mga tingin nila at saka na umiwas ng tingin si Julie.
“Julie, nandito na si Elmo!” tawag ni Jessica.
Humarap sya sa kanila at ngumiti. “Alright, let’s start!”
Sambit ni Felix. “Jess, Billy, here ipapakita ko sa inyo iyong sketch plan
Nilapitan ni Elmo si Julie at pinakilala ng huli ang tatlong mas
nakababatang lalaking magiging assistant photographer nya. “This is Ronie,
Glenn and Jayjay. Sila iyong maga-assist sa iyo.”
“Hi.” simpleng bati ni Elmo sa kanila. Nakasabit sa leeg nito
ang camera nya. Then binalingan nya si Julie. “You did the sketch plan ng
“Diba dapat ako ang in-charged dun? Since I’m the photographer.”
“I’m the wedding planner and I know exactly what they want, do
Bumuntong-hininga si Elmo. “Are you going to be that rude
to me the whole time?”
“I’m not being rude.”
“Guys!” Sabay silang napalingon kay Felix. “Ready na iyong
dalawa. Kayo ba?”
Elmo just glanced at Julie and then finally approached the
couple. Sinundan sya ng 3 nyang assistant.
Sa isang lumang church na napapaligiran ng napakagandang garden
sa may Batangas sila nagpunta dahil doon napiling mag-prenup nina Jess.
Pagkatapos nun at sa beach naman at ang huling location nila ay sa resthouse
Habang nagsu-shoot sila sa may garden ay nakaupo lang si Julie
at pinapanood sila. Maya’t maya’y napapasulyap sya kay Elmo at napapansin kung
gaano kaseryoso ang binata sa ginagawa nito. Hindi pa rin nya akalaing magiging
photographer ito. Dati-rati’y kasi wala itong hilig sa kahit anong klase ng art
puro sa pagta-travel lang ang interes.
Nagtagal ng 3 oras ang photoshoot nila sa church at garden at sa
kalagitnaan ng shoot nila sa beach ay nag-decide silang mag-lunch na muna.
Nananghali sila sa isang malaking cottage malapit sa beach.
“Guys, sya nga pala,” si Bill. “After ng shoot natin,
I’m inviting everyone to stay with us sa resthouse and spend the night there.
Bukas na tayo umuwi ng Manila.”
“Oo nga, para makapag-rest tayong lahat.” dagdag ni Jess.
“Go kami dyan!” sagot ni Felix na tila sumagot na sya para sa
“Elmo?” si Jess.
“Ahm…sure. Though I need to leave early tomorrow, I promised
my dad na uuwi ako bukas sa bahay.”
Muli ay nagtama ang mga tingin nila ni Julie at ito rin and
unang bumitaw. Napansin iyon ni Felix at hindi na lang ito nag-react.
“By the way, you guys haven’t told us yet, Julie, Elmo. How did
you two know each other?” Kapwa sila napabaling kay Billy. At nang walang
sumagot sa kanilang dalawa’y,
“We all went to the same school nung college.” si Felix na ang
“Oh, really. Matagal na pala kayong magkakilala.”
“Julie said you used to be her crush pero you didn’t feel the
same way, bakit naman?” biglang tanong ni Billy kay Elmo. “Who wouldn’t
like a girl like Julie?”
Nakatingin ang lahat kay Elmo maliban kay Julie, waiting for his
answer. Then he smiled. “I actually did. Kaya lang, when I was meeting her
halfway she’s not there anymore.”
Lumipat ang tingin nila sa dalaga and Julie was already
cornered. She tried to smile, too. “Well, I wish I knew he was on his way,
“Damn.” Sambit ni Billy. Habang si Jess nama’y lumilipat ang
tingin mula kay Julie papunta kay Elmo. “You two have the most pointless
love story. Meeting each other halfway di nyo pa nagawa, tsk tsk. Sayang.” Biro
“If you knew, you would’ve stayed?” biglang tanong ni Elmo.
And everyone went silent at nagseryoso ang atmosphere. Hindi
sumagot si Julie at nang mahalata ni Felix na naiinis na ito, sya na mismo ang
nagbago sa mood ng usapan. “O guys, eto may tanong ako… Anong isla sa
Pilipinas ang babalik-balikan mo?”
“Ano?” tanong ni Billy.
“E ‘di… CAMIGUIN!”
At dahil sa kakulitan at mga korning jokes ni Felix ay nabaling
na sa kanya ang atensyon ng lahat at nakalimutan na ang topic nila kanina.
Tumatawa ang lahat pero napansin ni Elmo na medyo tahimik pa rin si Julie.
Matapos nilang mananghali ay tinuloy nila ang pagkuha ng prenup
shots. Julie completely ignored Elmo at hindi rin ito pumayag nang i-suggest ni
Jess na sumabay na lang sya sa kotse ni Elmo habang papunta sila sa resthouse
para mapagusapan nilang mabuti ang photoshoot.
Pagdating sa resthouse ay doon pa lang pinakita ni Julie kay
Elmo ang sketch plan. At hindi iyon masyadong nagustuhan ng binata.
“I suggest we make some changes dito sa ginawa mo.” diretso
nyang sabi kay Julie.
“Gusto ni Jess and Billy na sa loob ng bahay kunan lahat ng
pictures at halos lahat ng mga sketches mo nagre-require ng outdoor shots. Are
you sure you know exactly what the couple wants?”
Inis na natawa si Julie. “Yeah, I’m a hundred percent sure.
Before they hired you to be their photographer, we’ve already talked about
that. Kung magaling ka talaga, magagawan mo iyan ng paraan.”
“You don’t understand-”
“No, it is you who don’t understand. I don’t want to argue with
you, okay? That’s the plane, that’s I made, and that’s exactly what we’re going
to do. Clear?”
At kagaya ng inasahan ni
Felix ay hindi lang iyon ang pagkakataong nagtalo at nagkontrahan ang dalawa.
Halos sa buong shoot ay hindi sila nagkakasundo at napansin din iyon nina Billy
at Jessica. Because they weren’t just
arguing, they’re attacking each other na para bang may iba pang dahilan kung
bakit galit sila sa isa’t isa.
you two, okay?” tanong ni Jess sa kanila pagkatapos ng shoot.
We’re good.” Si Julie na ang sumagot.
na guys, ganyan na talaga sila ever since.” Biro ni Felix.
the way, Jess. Hindi ako makakasama sa inyo sa second shoot, I need to start
finalizing everything. The wedding is in 10 days so ayaw kong ma-rush. I need
those to be done as soon as possible.” Paalam ni Julie.
silang nag-dinner at pagdaka’y nagpahinga na silang lahat sa kanila-kanilang
pagod na’y sinimulan na ni Elmo ang pagaayos ng mga shots nya. He was busy
editing some of the pictures when he accidentally opened a folder na nasa
desktop. He saw some old photos from his old camera at lahat iyo’y mga litrato
ni Julie, all were candid and stolen.
stopped editing and just stared at the pictures of Julie. And he recalled the
way she was treating him since they saw each other again after 4 years. He
recalled the way she’s looking at him, and the way she talks to him.
nag-print sya ng isang litrato gamit ang portable printer nya.
couldn’t sleep. She left her room and went outside with her laptop and a cup of
tea. She opened her mcbook and dialed a number on her phone pero hindi nya
nakontak ang taong gusto nyang makausap sa mga oras na iyon. She felt
frustrated and sadder and lonelier.
tried to distract herself by updating her website. She’s been an in-demand
wedding planner and organizer for 2 years now and she’s created so many
beautiful and memorable weddings that she couldn’t pick a favorite.
was about to respond to a follower’s email when a photograph fell in the
“That’s one of my favorite pictures of you. ”At alam na nya
kung sino ang taong nakatayo sa may likuran nya. “That was 7 six years ago.”
Umikot si Elmo and he sat on the chair across Julie. He’s
watching her looking at the photo. “Gumagawa kayo ng music video para sa isang
school project. I was there, you didn’t know.”
Julie looked at him. He continued talking. “When I was in
Mexico, a friend invited me to a wedding and the photographer didn’t come. Then
someone handed me a camera and asked for a favor, he asked if I could take some
pictures. I said yes and I ended up being the unofficial photographer that day.
Nung na-print na iyong pictures the newlyweds told me I did a good job and they
gave me a gift, a new camera. Then I remembered that you used to tell me how
much you love weddings, then I decided to study photography and chose to cover
weddings. You have no idea how much I wanted to share all those wedding
experiences I had, para inggitin ka. And you have no idea how every wedding I
went to reminded me of you and made me miss you more.”
“What do you want?”
“I like to talk. And to give you that picture.”
“What part of ‘I don’t want to talk to you’ you don’t and
“I’m sorry.” Sagot ni Elmo.
At sapat na iyon para mag-walkout si Julie. Kinuha nya ang
laptop nya’t iniwan ang tasa’t litrato sa lamesa at saka naglakad paalis. Elmo
followed her and walked faster than her kaya’t naabutan nya ito’t hinarangan.
“Just leave me alone, okay?!” sambit ni Julie. “It was
something you’re so good at, remember?”
“Ayokong kausapin ka-“
“I’m sorry!” ulit ni Elmo.
“I don’t care about you anymore!”
“I don’t believe you.”
Julie released a sarcastic laugh. “Well, problema mo na
“Can you just please hear me out first?!”
“If you don’t care about me anymore bakit mo ‘ko iniiwasan?”
Hindi sumagot si Julie at inis na napatitig kay Elmo. “I don’t care if anything I will say won’t change
whatever happened in the past or make you forgive me but I need to say it, I
need you to know everything I failed to tell you. Because the last time I kept
the truth, I just didn’t lose you, I lost ‘us’.”
Julie raised her brows. “Us? Bakit, naging tayo ba?” She
sounded bitter, yes, but she didn’t care. She was so hurt and she never got the
chance to let everything out. “Ano pa bang gusto mong sabihin? You just said,
it won’t change anything and you’re right. So wag na tayong magaksayahan ng panahon,
okay? I don’t want to be involved with you again.”
“I know that you still hate me-“
“No, I used to hate you so much, pero ngayon? As I’ve said,
I don’t care anymore.”
“And as I’ve said, I don’t believe you.”
“What makes you think na okay lang sa iyo na gawin ‘to, ha?”
Galit na na tanong ni Julie. “You broke my heart after I told you what I feel
about you and you left and you were gone for 4 years, tapos bigla ka na lang
susulpot ulit at you’re acting like I need to hear whatever you need to say? Na
parang ganun lang iyon kadali?”
“Stop saying you’re sorry! Just leave me alone!” Tinulak nya
si Elmo para makadaan sya. And when she was just a couple of steps away,
“I loved you.” Biglang sabi ni Elmo. That surprising
confession made Julie stop. “I did. And that never changed.”
Dahan-dahang humarap si Julie sa kanya. “Hindi mo na
kailangang sabihin iyan para pagaanin ang loob ko.”
“Hindi ko pinapagaan ang loob mo. It’s true. I just didn’t tell
“Kasi?” Hindi sumagot si Elmo. Paiyak na natawa si Julie. “Sh*t
ka pala talaga e. Ang tagal kong inipon iyong lakas ng loob at kakapalan ng
mukha at katapangan para maamin sa iyo noon na mahal kita, para itanong sa iyo
kung ano ba tayo, para malaman ko mula sa iyo kung ano ba talaga ako sa buhay
mo. Ano’ng sinagot mo sa akin? Naaalala mo pa?” Elmo didn’t answer. “Hindi mo
na naaalala? Ang sabi mo…you never saw me ‘that way’. Tapos sasabihin mo ngayon
sa ‘kin minahal mo ‘ko? Paksh*t! Kailan mo naramdaman iyon? Bago ba ako umamin
o pagkatapos? O after 2 years? O nung umalis ka na lang bigla?” Elmo was just
staring at her. “Mamahalin mo naman pala ako, hindi ka pa sumabay sa akin.”
“You asked me earlier, if I knew you were meeting me halfway,
magi-stay ba ako? Magaantay ba ako? Ang sagot ko…oo, oo naman. I was that
stupidly in love with you. Kaya lang ano? Nasaan ka nun?”
Dahan-dahan syang nilapitan ni Elmo. “I was so scared to
tell you. Natatakot na baka kapag sinabi ko sa iyo at hindi ako sigurado
masaktan lang kita. Hindi ko alam. I just realized how much a part me was
missing nung wala ka na. I was thinking about you every day. I was longing for
you every day. It may sound really foolish but, I realized how much I’m in love
with you nung wala ka na sa buhay ko.”
“So kaya ka bumalik?” tanong ni Julie. “Kaya sinasabi mo ‘tong
lahat sa akin? So ano ba talagang gusto mo? What the hell do you want?!”
“I want you back.” Hindi iyon inasahan ni Julie ngunit
nagdulot iyon ng magkasingbigat na sakit at tuwa sa puso nya. “You’re the one I’m
still in love with.”
Muling pinigilan ni Julie ang luha nya pero di pa rin nya
magawang kontrolin. “Yes, I loved you. I loved you longer than I’ve ever loved
anyone. I was willing to give you my whole heart but you pushed me way. You
almost had me, but you chose to break my heart. You want me back? Minahal kita
pero kahit kailan…hindi akong naging sa iyo.”
Sabay silang napalingon sa pinanggalingan ng boses. Mabilis
na pinunasan ni Julie ang mukha nya habang gulat na nakatingin sa guwapong
“Matt?” Matthew smiled at her.