aka What a Birthday Post but I dreamt about my dear PI prof the night before (it was fairly wholesome, just saying) and this hasn't been out of my mind since.
She enlists in his class because according to the people who have been there, he hands out uno's like Junior Dos Santos hands out losses and cancels classes like there’s Ondoy every week. The girlish squeals declaring how handsome he is does not escape her ears, but she shrugs it off because she tends to have a different definition of handsome compared to girls her age.
When she finally sees him, she gapes uncertainly. He has none of the preppy boyish charm that propelled Comm 3's Ken Jamandre to a spot at Cosmo's Most Eligible Bachelors, nor the silent ambitiousness that seethed through Math 17's Gabriel Limson, nor the raw power beneath the sinewy muscles that Judo's Carlo Vergara flexed.
His curly hair is swept back in a stuffy ponytail and looks like it’s three rinses away from an illegitimate dreadlock. He wears a lithe shirt, faded pants, lots of hippie bracelets and a big smile.
She thinks it might be fun to learn PI from Kamikaze's frontman.
He tells them not to call him Sir, and aptly too because he acts like a 30-year old college student from KAL. He laughs too freely, thinks too deeply, and teaches too casually.
One time he takes the class to Laguna to climb some mountain where Rizal's minions abound. In a jeep on the way, she sees the tattoo in his arm and asks about it. He graciously pulls his sleeve up and shows her. It's Alibata.
“Luisa Paula.” The guy beside her reads as he adjusts his glasses.
He smiles widely. “Ngayon lang may studyanteng nakabasa niyan. At dahil diyan may plus 1 ka sa finals.”
She almost whacks herself in the head. She should have paid attention during any of the at least one million times her seatmate tried to teach her Alibata instead of staring dreamily at Fidel Nemenzo. (Uh, no, not really, every second spent staring at Fidel Nemenzo is worth it.) On second thought, why did he get that tattoo in Alibata? Couldn’t he have gotten it in Russian or something?
“Sino si Luisa Paula?” the guy beside her asks. “Asawa mo?”
He laughs, says he's not married.
He almost chokes.
For some reason she knows the right answer. “Anak.”
She does not remember much about their last day of classes. Maybe because he ended their course four weeks before everyone else did. All she knew was that PI 100 went down as the only class that she never cut that semester even though he basically told them “Have at it” during the first day of class. There are about four other classes in her whole stay in UP that she had perfect attendance in, but PI is the only class that she willingly never cut.
She does remember bits of his speech. Something about oneself and about one’s nation and one’s ideologies. Something about and Ibarra and Simeon, both of whom she doesn’t really favor because she’s a Basilio kind of girl. (She goes to the library later that afternoon because he dared them to know what happened after El Fili; Rizal wrote a draft for the novel Makamisa, starring Basilio, but he never finished it.)
The ending part – she especially remembers the ending part. He said something about fires, embers, and sparks. Did they know that spark is ‘pingkian’ in Tagalog? It’s also the pen name of some important person who wrote some important piece of something during some important time. You guys should name your kids ‘pingkian’, he encouraged them.
Two year’s later she’s staring in front of her laptop and there’s a field for ‘pen name’ that’s begging to be filled. She should have never given up Jin. She pauses to consider what the replacement could be.
She goes as far as typing the letter G and then hits backspace four times.
And she hates the fact that the one time he actually had his arm around her shoulder he was drunk like shit and she was rolling her eyes pretending it doesn't matter anyway but reality's been kind of a bitch lately and -