what if..

Are you the one that got away? Maybe. Maybe not.
E and I met when I was in grade 5. He was my cousin’s classmate. We were playing Chinese garter in that basketball court beside the church in our baranggay when he passed by. I remember him saying goodbye to my cousin then. And yes, he has a crush on my cousin. I remember one of my playmates then used to call him diether. Because he looks like ‘that’ local actor. My mom knew I had a thing for him. But she didn’t know that I already have a boyfriend.
When we were in high school, I learnt that he was courting this girl, anne. I knew all of this since my 2 brothers, my cousins, anne & E are studying in the same school, and same service vehicle. my brother said he was a play boy, a player. Maybe.. since I thought he liked me then.
Days and months passed, I had a boyfriend (my best friend since grade 5, Anthony), and I don’t know if he had one. He was my crush. But I don’t ask info about him. Since my brother and my other friends know that Anthony and I are together, it doesn’t seem right if they’ll found out that I have eyes for E as well.
I remember his older brother Eric. Instant crush when I saw him. Then I attended this buhusan (a tradition same with baptism but instead of a priest, the rites were performed by an elder). Eric was the ninong,and ninang naman ako. But then I was disappointed when it was E who went to the christening because Eric was offshore then. He’s a seafarer as well. Just like his other relatives. During pictorial, I was asked to carry the baby, then E was beside me. I remember the people around us teasing us that we’d be a lovely couple if God permit. His mom and dad was delighted then. hahahah! Then when Eric came back to the Philipines, his dad talked to my dad. According to my dad, E’s father was asking if they could arrange for Eric and I’s ‘pagkakamabutihan’. Wow! I was so young then. grade 6 I think, and Eric, same age with J, is also 13years older than me. of course my dad said no. then after a year, when J came back after he almost died when he fell off the ship, they had this paalay (wherein Joel was the Hermano Mayor, we as ihadaswill go to the altar one by one to be given with flowers then return it, then after a few songs, will bi given with candles..) after the paalay Eric approached me, he said “joy anlaki mo na ah! Saying no.. anlaki kasi ng tanda ko sayo. May ate ka ba?” and my answer was “kuya lang po meron ako!” I was so innocent that I didn’t know what he meant when he asked me if I have an older sister. Then my mom said, she saw E’s mom one day, and told her “nakita ni Eric si Joy nyo..nagtatanong kung meron ka daw ba anak pa na babae na mas matanda. Nanghihinayang yata. Eh samin naman.. eh kung hindi pwede sa panganay.. eh di dun sa kasing tanda!” (Eric is the eldest and then there was another brother, then E who was 2years older than me). 
He loves basketball.. Just like my older brother, my boyfriend, and almost all of the guys/men in our baranggay. I remember cheering for him as well if his team is not competing with my brother’s or with my boyfriend’s.  my boyfriend would always get jealous when I do that.
There was a time when E’s cousin, J, and my boyfriend had a fight after the game. J and my boyfriend were team mates. When they were to sign the score sheet, I being part of the committee, gave the pen to my boyfriend. I thought he was the team captain. Then J pushed him. Saying he was supposed to sign it since he was the team captain. Then J said “ano nagpapagaling ka kay Joy? Bakit kayo na ba?! Pinagmamalaki mo sakin kasi naungusan mo ko sa kanya dahil matagal ako nawala?!” wow! I didn’t know that. Where did it came from? So my brother  got in between them. He asked if I knew something about what J is saying. I told him no. I found out later that day that J was the official team captain and my boyfriend was just the acting team captain since J was abroad when the league started (he was a seafarer).  And yes, J was at least 13years my senior. E was the one who pulled me out of that commotion then. He brought me at least a few feet away from the rest. He didn’t ask anything. He just told me “maybe you should go home.”
The next days that I’ve seen him, he was all smiles again. Then one summer night I received a text message from J, asking if E’s courting me. I said no. because really, he’s not. Then night after night I’ve been receiving quotes from J, making his moves on me by sending love quotes. I’ve noticed then that E started to avoid me. Whenever I see him, he will just smile then he’ll look down until I can’t see him anymore. I didn’t have the guts to ask him why. I have a boyfriend then. That’s all I’ve been reminding my self whenever I remember how sad E’s smiles were..
Then I was chosen as the muse for the inter-baranggay basketball league in summer of 2008. When it was my turn to come up the stage, immediately, Anthony was went to my right. Then E was at my left. They both escorted me on stage. I saw J was just looking at us, more surprised than I was. My brother was just laughing, making a gesture that says ‘I have eyes on you’ to E and Anthony. All I can do was smile and pretend I wasn’t startled. Later that night, even if I didn’t won the contest, J texted me ‘you were still the most beautiful for me. And I wish I was your escort then..”
When I was in college, I always see E commuting to school since he studies in Batangas City, almost close to where my brother studied then. lagi kasi ako may service kaya I never had a chance na makasabay sya. Whenever there’s a chance na makasabay ko sya, ililibre nya ko.. he’ll always find a way para magkatabi kami ng upuan. I remember him asking my brother pa if we could sit beside each other on the 1st time na nakasabay ko xya mgcommute kasi nasiraan yun service naming. Anthony and I were on on-and-off relationship then so it felt ok to sit beside him.
Then one day in my junior year in school, my friend/classmate Jen and I were waiting for a bus going home. A Toyota Revo stoped in front of us. I didn’t pay attention since I was too eager to go home then. So Jen and I continue with our conversation. Then the window to the passenger side went down, then Jen said “hoy joy.. kilala mo yata. Sabay ka na daw..” when I looked at the driver, it was J! I didn’t know what to do since I wouldn’t want others to think na something’s going on between us. I said no. but after around 15minutes, and wala pa din bus na dumadaan, he maneuvered backwards. He asked me again “let me take you home.. gabi na oh..” so I agreed. Jen and I sat in the passenger seat, with Jen in the middle. After we dropped Jen off near their house, the silence was awkward. Then J asked me “is E courting you?” I said no. “are you and anthony still together?” I asked him “who told you we’re together?” “tinanong ko si E kung dinidiskartehan ka nya, sabi nya ikaw daw tanungin ko. Feeling ko naman kayo na ni Anthony. Kaya yata ganungalit nya sakin nun magka-team kami sa basketball dati..” I didn’t know then if it was right to answer his questions. All I can think of is who is he to question if I have a boyfriend or if someone is courting me. Then he said “alam mo ba bakit kami naghiwalay ng mga nagging girlfriend ko? Yun una, pinsan mo pa yata yun.. yung taga-Bulihan, nasa simbahan kami nun, nakita kita. Sabi ko pag naghiwalay kami, liligawan kita.inaway ako. Tapos naghiwalay kami. Yun sumunod, pinsan mo din alam ko. Ganun din. Nakita ka naming sa mall, sabi ko ikaw yung gusto ko ligawan dati pa, kaya lang masyado ka bata para sakin, ayun nakipaghiwalay din sakin.” “so ako may kasalanan ganun?” “hindi.. gusto ko lang malaman mo na ikaw talaga yung gusto ko!” “gusto mo ko maniwala sa sinasabi mo? Bakit ganyan kayo mga lalake no? pag maykaharap kayong ibang babae ganyan kayo.. well, bata pa po ako. Bawal pa po ako mag-boyfriend. And pag pwede nap o ako mag-boyfriend I know meron ka na bagong girlfriend nun. Or baka meron ka na asawa.” That was the last time we’ve talked face to face. Anthony heard the news that J was courting me. He was avoiding me afterwards. Then E asked me “nililigawan ka na pala ni kuya J” I told him no. I didn’t explain anything. Then he started avoiding me as well.
J started avoiding me when I was in college. One day he texted me asking if I knew someone who needs printing jobs because ‘printing press kasi business ko” according to him. Then a few months later, while I was watching basketball with my friend, hilahila sya nun isang girl.. they stopped in front of us, then they kissed. My reaction? Eew! Ok lang sana if hindi naming mga kapitbahay yung mga nakakakita sa ginagawa nila. Others clapped their hands, others raised their eyebrows.i never thought that it was for me, to show that she’s the new one. After we left, my friend told me ‘nagselos ka? Para sayo yun eh!” then I saw E. he just smiled, smirk even. then bowed his head again.
I learnt that E and my brother had issues , and it started with anne, the schoolmate. She likes my brother, but my brother likes someone else. And E likes her as well. I thought E and Anne were a couple, but Anne’s cousin told me she likes my brother. Maybe they just thought she likes my brother over E,I don’t cant think of  any reason why. Hehe..
I was in college when I learnt that E has tuberculosis. I didn’t know how serious his illness is. I just know he’s sick, and nakakahawa sya. My mom said it runs in their family. Maybe that’s why he was so thin, and he was so pale whenever I see him. He looked so different. My brother asked me to avoid him, or else he would let our parents know that he saw me smoking in front of our campus one time. Of course it’s a big thing for my parents so I have no choice but to obey. I avoided E. one time, nakasabay ko sya sa tricycle from our baranggay going to the town proper. My brother saw us. When we rode the bus, my brother insisted that he and I sit together, leaving E going to the rear-end kasi dun lang meron bakante na upuan. Then nun pauwi na, nakasabay ko na naman sya. This time, my cousin and her aunt were there. We were supposed to seat sa labas na upuan ng tricycle, but my cousin and her aunt insisted that they sit there instead (coz they know hindi ako umuupo dun hehe). Na-turn off ako kasi siksik sya ng siksik eh maluwag naman yung tricycle. He said “pano ba naman kita liligawan eh bumabakod na si kuya J.. sinabi nya samin magpipinsan na kung sino man daw may plan n manligaw sayo.. wag na daw naming ituloy kasi liligawan ka nya. Eh syempre mas matanda sya samin, kya no choice kami. Or else mapapagalitan kami ng mga inay.” I felt like laughing. Kasi hindi naman talaga ako niligawan ni J. niyabangan oo pa. I’m not sure then if I have to correct him, or just let him know that his cousin courted me. He told me ‘everytime nakikita kita.. feeling ko name-miss kita. Lalo kita name-miss pag nakikita kita. Kasi hindi naman kita malapitan.. hindi naman kita makausap.. nakakatawa no, kasi pwede naman kita itext, pero hindi ko magawa. Kasi natatakot ako nab aka hindi ka magreply..” “magrereply naman ako kung nagtext ka.” “pano kung sabihin ko sayo na mahal kita dati pa?” then it tore me down, knowing that he was rumored to have issues with my brother because of anne. Everytime the three of us are on the same room, he will just smile at me but all his attention were with anne. How can I believe what he was telling me right then. I didn’t say I word. I just smiled. And that was the last time that I ever spoke to him that close, the last time that I’ve spoken to him before I met X.
A few years have passed, it’s already june 2009 when I saw him again. He was then a seafarer, and I, has a child. It was our barrio fiesta. My brother invited E over, together with their friends. He approached me and tried to start a small talk. He told me ‘andami nangyari ano.. nawala lang ako saglit.. my asawa ka na p ala.. kala ko pa naman pagbalik ko, pwede na kita ligawan kasi may ipagmamalaki na ko.. hindi mo na ko nahintay..” I’m not sure if he was joking then. “where’s your son? Can I see him?” “tulog eh..” then my boyfriend came out of my room. I introduced him to E. they shook hands. Then E smiled again. When my brother came out of the kitchen, asking them to eat, I was still looking at E. then I saw him smile again. There was that sad smile again. i want to cry. There was this guy whom I wanted ever since but I can never have.  I don’t know if I ever loved him, I just know I like him. But I’m hurt every time I learnt that he has a girlfriend. It hurts to know he was thinking of me when he started working for himself. But still I cant believe everything he said. A part of me still sees Anne beside him, and how he looked at her.
Whenever I see pictures of him aboard the ship, I feel happy for him. Happy because, from all the things that I’ve heard about their family, I am glad that those were just in the past and that they wouldn’t experience that again. whenever I see pictures of him and his new girlfriend, I felt jealous. I can only imagine how he takes care of her, how happy they are when they’re together, how E love this girl. There came a time when I asked my self.. pano kung hindi sya nagkasakit.. pano kung nagging kami.. pano kung sinabi ko sa kanya na I’m not married yet. What if.. what if ako na lang.. what if ako na lang ulit.. what if totoo na mahal pala nga nya ko.. and what if mahal ko din naman pala sya.. but it’s too late.
Yes there were times that he sent me messages thru facebook. There was this time when he asked me again if J courted me. And I said no. he just said “saying.. akala ko kasi..” every year since X and I broke up, E sent me messages whenever it’s near his birthday. Sometimes he’s asking me how I’v been.. or sometimes, he’ll just tease me about those times that someone will tell him I have a new boyfriend. There were times that he’l tell me he missed me, he missed our friendship.
I sometimes see him in front of our house, talking to my father after basketball. I never asked if he asked about me. Of course. I can just hear my dad telling my mom how easy E’s work is and where he’d been.
Last March 4, I was waiting for a PUV, E’s car passed by exactly when I went back to check on my phone. My mom said ‘sayang di ka lumabas, dumaan kotse ni E. pasasakayin ka nman nun sigurado.” Naisip ko.. pano kung kasama yun girlfriend nya?
Later that week, I dreamt of him. I can’t remember what happened in my dreams. Basta alli can remember is that he was asking me to meet up with him and I said ‘hindi ako pwede eh.. hindi kasi ako uuwi kasi may pasok ako sa Saturday..” it was so surreal. Na-LSS mode tuloy ako  What if by Babyface.
What if we were wrong about each other?
What if you were really made for me?
What if we was `sposed to be together?
Would that not mean anything?
What if that was `sposed to be my house that you go home to every day?
How can you be sure that things are better?
If you can’t be sure your heart is still here with me
Still wanting me
Just last night, I received an text message from my mom. “ikakasal na si E this april.”
All the things that I’ve been through came to my mind.. all those times that E and I were just kinda flirting with each other.. all the things that he’d told me during those times.. being the bitch that I am, I thought, mas maganda naman ako sa kanya (the fiancé), lasalle ako sya hinde.. mas matangkad ako.. mas mukha naman ako may alam kesa sa kanya.. then I’ll answer those with.. my anak ka na kasi.. since you both live in the same baranggay, hindi acceptable yung situation mo.. he only asked you to give him chance, to prove to you na he’s better than X, pero anu assurance mo na totohanin ka nya.. everything’s too late.. ilan beses mo pinamukha sa kanya na hindi sya yung gusto mo.. SH*T!!!!!
Minahal ko ba sya? Or na-enjoy ko lang yung attention na binibigay nya sakin before?
Minahal ba nya ko.. or isa lang ako sa mga iniisip nya na may gusto sa kanya kaya sya ganun?
Too many questions that I shouldn’t be thinking were coming into my head. I love my boyfriend. Am I being unfair? why do I have to feel miserable whenever I hear someone, who was once special to me or I am special to them, got married..
Suddenly.. at work.. David Cook’s version of You’ll always be my baby was being played..
You’ll always be a part of me
I’m part of you indefinitely
Boy don’t you know you can’t escape me
Ooh darling ’cause you’ll always be my baby
And we’ll linger on
Time can’t erase a feeling this strong
No way you’re never gonna shake me
Ooh darling ’cause you’ll always be my baby
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