March 28, 2008

I know what you did on Good Friday

IF the crowds at the various malls last weekend were any indication, hundreds of families spent the Holy Week just here in Manila. Well, I don’t blame them. Why go to Boracay, where it’s all hot and crowded, when you can enjoy the free air conditioning at the malls? It may have been congested like any other weekend, but at least there were fancy shop windows to look into, and you weren’t all sweaty and icky. Never mind if you never intended to buy anything.

A friend who owns a resort in the new summer capital of the Philippines confirmed the same. He said there were fewer bakasyonista in Boracay last week compared with 2007. (On the upside, those who were on the island were Caucasians and other Asians...a development that will surely be welcomed by our hardworking tourism secretary, Joseph “Ace” Durano. It is, no doubt, the fruit of his relentless marketing efforts abroad.)

Time was when Holy Week meant Visita Iglesia, the pabasa, Seven Last Words, Way of the Cross, and processions of religious images depicting the passion and death of Jesus Christ.

Except for last week, normally, school is officially out by the time the Holy Week rolls around. It also heralds the start of the summer travel season. Families are on grand excursions to the beach or vacations in Hong Kong, Baguio and the US. Those who don’t want to add to the crowds in the nearby tourist destinations, or don’t want to spend ginormous sums of money on resorts unreasonably jacking up their rates for the four-day holiday, now choose to stay put in Metro Manila. And, yes, as was prevalent last weekend, they went a-malling.

Many people I know tried to catch up on their sleep and backlog on books they’ve been wanting to read.

Jeff said he was going to watch old cheesy biblical epics. (My favorite has always been The Robe, starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons and that greasy hunk Victor Mature. Ooof!)

Sis had house guests visiting and planned to treat her nephews and nieces to the newly opened Manila Ocean Park everyone has been going gaga about. Even Pangs, who is normally in Bacolod for the Holy Week, was in town working on his editorial assignments, although, lucky dog, he still managed a few laps in the swimming pool.

As for me, the four-day Lenten holiday started out with a visit to a dear friend, Swit, whose brother had passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. Despite the rather sorrowful circumstances of the visit, it was a rather enjoyable gathering with friends. It took us just an hour from Quezon City to get to Bacoor, Cavite, where the wake was, as there was hardly any traffic on the road. We caught up on the latest gossip and basically laughed ourselves silly, tempting the Almighty to strike us with lightning. (Note to self: Never miss the opportunity to go to a wake in the provinces where funeral parlors donate kakanin to the dead’s bereaved families. I unashamedly devoured a plate of the softest home-made cuchinta courtesy of Samson Funeral Home.)

On Good Friday I started cleaning out my DVD and CD collection, as well as tons of books gathering dust in the attic. While I actually had made plans for Black Saturday, I knew I couldn’t finish the cleaning task in just a day. It eventually turned into an unscheduled spring cleaning of all the stuff I had in storage...and by God! I could not believe the amount of material possessions I had accumulated over the years! I decided to make the spring cleaning my penitencia for the rest of the Lenten weekend.

A lot of my CDs, DVDs and books were still in huge cartons, because that’s where I left them when I went abroad to work for a year. Along with some Pyrex dishes and other houseware, I still hadn’t unpacked them because I kept on thinking I would eventually move out of the parents’ house again and into my own rental one day. The attic dust must’ve shot up straight into my brain as I inhaled, shaking me out of my reverie. How dare I go off into Lala-land and think such crazy unrealistic thoughts! Achoo!

The task was sheer burden as I struggled to decide which items were still worth keeping and which ones I had to let go. Sometimes I had to force myself to label several items as junk just so that I wouldn’t think twice of tossing them out (e.g., college class cards), or undeserved nostalgic shit (e.g., petrified roses from ex-boyfriends).

Twice I had to go through the CDs just to weed out the music I had outgrown, such as the New Age woo-woo and shamanic recordings. (Anyone care to buy my Narada CDs?) As for the books, I decided to keep the classics, bestsellers and all-time favorites (e.g., the Dune series), and let go of authors I really didn’t know but whose books I had bought from the annual cut-price book sale of a popular bookstore chain.

Of course, there were brief moments of amusement amid the grueling task. I sat and sifted through old photographs and marveled at how amazingly thin my friends and I were way back when. True, we may miss our old slender selves (hey, round is a shape!), but not the hideous fashion we wore. It also gave me immense joy to note that over the years, we have remained basically unchanged. To this day, we still have the same ear-to-ear ludicrous grins on our faces. Sure, we’ve grown a bit wiser, but we still haven’t lost our sense of humor and our enjoyment of the ridiculous. Ah, those photos are definite keepers!

Two more days of organizing, filing, cleaning and sweeping...I fell asleep each night utterly exhausted. It was finally over by Easter Sunday evening, and managed to get myself to Mass. Everything was in order, packed and neatly labeled. Piles of stuff I wanted to sell were in one corner, and another pile was for items to give away. After dinner and the usual marathon CSI Sunday shows, I laid back against my pillows and clicked on my downloaded torrent of The Robe. There I lay laughing hysterically at the mala-Goma and Shawie dramatic dialogue between Brando and Simmons, and the constipated expressions on Mature’s face. Before I knew it, I had zonked out, but awoke on Easter Monday completely refreshed.

Thank you, Lord, for a new beginning. I really needed that.

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. Photo from BM)

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