It was August, year 2000. I was a young teenager still blooming out of innocence. I was a poor boy, living with my mom and my mentally challenged half-brother in the poor and rural area of Rizal. I was only able to go out to gimmicks because of my extravagant friend, Charlie. I was the usual "tambay" and "palaboy", because I often went to any of my friend's house to eat dinner, I usually walked to their houses, because I never had any money. Minsan, ako na nga ang nakikain, ako pa ang mangungutang ng pamasahe pauwi... Gimmicks, I never had a single centavo whenever we went out, I was the usual freeloader. Back then, I was as pale as snow, due to lack of sunlight because I never go out until past sunset, I was also out of school. I dropped out of college after my education fund ran out. I was thin, with high cheekbones and a prominent jaw line, my thin built complimented my rather bony facial structure, and I was short. One night, my friends Charlie, Rose, Jay, and I; went to Malate, one weekend. The four of us decided to go straight to Basilica, it was at its height of its popularity. My friends and I sat near the front of the stage. A few hours later and after a couple of bottles of beer, I saw this yuppie looking guy at the far right of our table. He was wearing a tight fitting long sleeved shirt, dark grey trousers, and sporting a hairdo that was well gelled like someone was invited in a prom-night, it was combed, sleek, and black. I was staring at him at some time, eventually our eyes met, he smiled, I smiled back. As they say, the rest was history.
When I was younger, I would go to where my mom used to work, in Makati. Whenever the bus would pass by Shangri-la or The Manila Peninsula, I often wondered what were happening inside those glass windows and high walls. How was it to be inside, how do their lobbies look like? How I wished that someday I will be able explore the interiors of those hotels and satisfy my curiosity of what was going on inside the buildings of where the rich stay and dine. Then one day, Angel brought me in Island Cafe (now Circles) in Shangri-La Makati, it was our first official date. I was such a very naive boy, it was my first time to enter a hotel and was my first time to eat at such a posh restaurant. I asked him discreetly on what to do everytime a dish was served, what utensil to use, or how to properly drink and hold the glasses. Remarkably, he found me funny and amusing; and taught me all I needed to know. Eventually, Nielsen's (now gone) of Manila Peninsula, Inagiku of Shangri-La Makati, Heat of Shangri-La EDSA, and Paseo Uno of The Mandarin Oriental became my favorites.
January 2001, a few months after my 18th birthday, he invited me to live with him, because he saw the impoverished condition of where I was at that time, and he never liked my mom. Living with him was a major turning point in my life. He then sent me to college, I had a car with an occasional driver, he gave me clothes, I had a "yaya", I had things that most gay men would kill for (he gave me a Cartier Trinity ring on our 3rd anniversary...
Despite of all the material wealth I already had at that time, I was an angry and disturbed kid, a closet rebel because I never understood what he wanted to happen to me. He was very strict, and wanted his way of things, always. It is either his way or the highway, unless he asks me. He usually scolds me like a little kid not knowing what to do. We never really fought each other, because I always stayed quiet and I never answered back whenever we had bouts of anger or when he gets mad at me about something. I felt like I was being restrained and I felt like my freedom was taken away from me.
When I finally started working, I bought him a cellphone from my first pay, then I bought him a digital camera, eventually, I also paid for all the groceries and for the dog food. It was my turn to spend for the household or at least contribute.
We were never really different, he was a nobody when he was my age. Just like me, he peddled different items and food on the streets at such a young age, for the whole day just to have enough money for the family's dinner. He was an out of school youth, then he worked his way through college. He wanted to get out of poverty, he wanted to have a good life, he dreamt and became ambitious. He crawled out of poverty, and with his success is his family. Now he has everything that he can ever desire; a good family, a quiet life, and living comfortably. All because of his passion to have a good life, all because of ambition, all because of determination, and his faith in God. He always said that he saw his childhood in me. He knew how it was to be poor, because he was once too. He wanted to save me, and give me a better life.
He and I broke up several times. However, we ended up together again after a week or two or even after half a year. I really don't know or even remember how we patched things up. What I do remember was how my friends would fetch me from his town house with all the bags I have. That's why I can really relate to J.Lo's video "All I Have", because that was how I almost look like (without the minis and LVs of course, I only had Gaps, Samsonites and Girbauds) back then, walking on the wet streets of Marikina on a drizzly weather while crying, whenever we break up.
(press play, before reading on)
He and I had our last and final break-up back in 2007. I will never forget what he told me before I left the Master's bedroom and gave him one last embrace... He said to me while a river of tears flowed from his sad little eyes "I can now let you go, because you are now the man I've always wanted you to be".
I literally grew up with him. He had been more of a father to me, than a lover, more of a guide, than a companion. During one of our dinners as friends, he told me that our relationship as lovers was only a consolation during our 6 year relationship, because he had been more of a father to me, which was true. Only when we broke up and after a few more years of me being independent did I realized all the things he said and did. I realized that those were actually bits of reality, slapped onto my face so I'd learn. Only then I realized that he was right after all these years, that all he did was to shelter me from harm, guide me and to shape me to be a better man. Despite of us being only friends now, I am very happy. Simply because I gained more... We are much closer now and tighter.
This post is dedicated to The Angel, who was once a poor boy who made it to the top, and found a poor boy, and helped pave his way to the top. He, who changed my life forever, for the better. He has been my guide in life, who took care of me more than my parents can ever do, or anyone. He gave me unconditional love, and he handed me the world on a silver platter. He showed me how it was to be a kid, he was the one who brought back my childhood while becoming a man. We had 6 good years together, despite of the 17 year gap. Christmas is once again just around the corner, it is his favorite time of the year.
Thank you, Angel, I never would have reached this point in life without you. You taught me how to compromise; and you never believe in forever. You gave me the world with plenty of unconditional love, and enough wisdom to stand on my own, I'm happy we're still a family.