Mabuhay ka, Ate Tere

I don’t know what the hell to feel. I’m confused, devastated, in denial and maybe most of all, pissed off. Was it lupus? Whatever the hell it was – may you be goddamned to hell for taking Ate Tere. Feed me no lecture, give me no sermon. I don’t want to hear a word about it being part of “God’s plan” or whatever metaphysical bullshit you can throw around to make yourselves feel better. I’m going to rant/story-tell and no one’s going to stop me.

I admit that I wasn’t exactly one of the best students during my high school days. I’d head home late because of rehearsals, try to do whatever homework I have then nod off to the next morning. I’d wake up then cram other things before classes begin. When it comes to papers (particularly for English class or when I need to print my TD lesson plans), I usually opt for the coop printing service. One would usually have to wait in line (which would be long – mind the cram culture) before you’re accommodated but it doesn’t matter as long as you get to submit your requirements anyway.

I don’t remember when I got to talk to Ate Tere for the first time. Maybe we got to chat while I was rush-printing some paper. Or buying a pen or folder. Maybe it was during a casual moment during recess or lunch when I’d give in to the urge to buy a couple of pieces of Choc-Nut or brownies (this would happen frequently). It was because of these things that she became familiar with my face.

For some reason, she knew that I sang. If I remember correctly, this became the basis of our joke-riddled relationship. Each time I’d come to purchase something or just happen to walk by, Ate Tere would crack another one of those “Uy, kumanta ka naman!” quips. She’d be wearing this mischievous smile on her face as I respond with my routine, non-committal “Eh, ‘wag na! Next time na lang!” I visited the high school grounds some months back and passed through the cafeteria. As I walked in front of the coop area, our eyes met and her face lit up. “Uy, ikaw!

Pinakanta na naman niya ako.

So tonight I discover that Ate Tere has gone. I feel really stupid for finding out about it through Facebook. There was something severely wrong with that. It’s much like being last to receive the big news involving a dear friend, when you’re supposed to be one of the first to know.

I find out tonight that I had been putting off a performance that she will never see. Even if it was a discussion in the spirit of passing humor, the reality that we will no longer be having such exchanges like that stings me deeply. She will no longer be there for the new generation of crammers. She will no longer be there for whoever needs a pen, pad paper or whatnot. She will no longer be there the next time I pay the high school a visit.

Ate Tere was no mere periphery in my high school history. She was a crucial element in my experience. She made me laugh at the wrong moments (one is supposedly focused and/or panicked upon procrastination), psychologically sweetened the chocolates I bought and just made me want to say “Hi!” each time I passed by to leave or enter the cafeteria. I’m forever indebted to her kindness.

I end my story-telling here. It diffused my anger a bit, but the sense of loss lingers in my head rather offensively. I can’t reconcile myself with just mourning, the way everyone else is doing. Perhaps to be sad is to be defeated. Not that I’m saying mourning is wrong. This is just me. Obviously, I’m not at peace with the reality. Whatevs.

Ate Tere, sana may WiFi ka saan ka man ngayon at nababasa mo ‘to. Pasensya na lang at ‘di na kita nakantahan at pormal na napasalamatan para sa lahat. Kaya eto. Sa totoo lang, hindi ako naniniwalang wala ka na. Kalokohan. Tawanan na lang natin. Pero kung tutuusin, mami-miss ka ng sobrang daming tao. Malamang alam mo na ‘yun.

Hanggang dito na lang. Salamat para sa Choc-Nut at sa lahat.
Mabuhay ka, Ate Tere. Mabuhay ka.

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