Tales of Cancer

Everyone has stories that made us who we are, and knowing them can spare us the unyielding three letter word we love asking people…

–Why?

Though others may still not understand the eccentricity of each one, at least we made the effort and here are a few of mine.

Story No.1: The frustrated writer

I am never a good writer for all I know.

(And here it goes!!!) Why?

It’s because there’s this particular person who has always been in my life and apparently would always be a better writer than I am -so I could never see myself good enough.

It’s my older brother, Lordhan.

Yes, it’s an inferiority complex brought by jealousy.

It all began when we were at grade school. I was in the fourth grade when my journalistic campaign began as an editorial cartoonist and heck I was good. It was my very first journey outside the four corners of home and school. Campus journalism was my first inter-school participation that appealed to my fourth grade instinct as an exceptional collection of brilliant minds working together for a common cause (which was the newspaper) and being the only fourth grader involved, I was outstanding! It was the first editorial team our Montessori had so I was like one of the pioneers -it was a huge thing for me!

But as good as it seemed, leaving my classmates behind while I participated in press conferences, met new people from different schools in the region, and bagged medals home, I could never shine in the group for I was merely a cartoonist.

Not that I’m belittling my contribution but hello, a newspaper is a newspaper because there are writers writing for it. It wasn’t a comic book we were doing. All the more, our school organ only releases one cartoon every issue…

… so it’s potentially frustrating for a competitive soul, isn’t it?

But that’s just the whip on my float. The cherry was the very first monumental editor-in-chief. Guess who?

Lordhan.

By the name itself… it says it all. Lord’s Hand.

He was on sixth grade then, at the peak of writing his name on the epitome of our school. And I was there, just there, the ever supportive younger brother that clapped his hands in the outskirts of Lordhan’s shadows.

As years passed, we lived our own ways leaving that journey behind. He did not pursue much of his journalistic commitments, although he took up Mass Communications, to my dismay, while I strived hard to become a writer and work in a magazine despite of my course (Marine Transportation) and the struggle was real! Hahaha!

Still, I wouldn’t claim to be better than him in writing. He just happened to stop -that’s my feat.

Story No.2: The fallen soldier

I was an achiever. I had my own corkboard of medals hanging in our house. I received numerous awards from different distinct people -I was a first honor straight up ever since I learned my ABC’s and had feated many competitions for goodness’ sake.

I was an achiever!

But still, I resolved in keeping my good works up rather than keeping up my good work because it will never be enough being the younger brother of Lordhan, who has twice as many. No! Thrice!

I don’t have to enumerate where he had collected them. I mean, we all go to grade school, high school and college at least once! It impressed me at an early age that I could only triumph over his if I’d buy my own medals.

However, the fascination I had on toppling him over ended when he got a gold medal from the Philippine president. I always knew where to stop… Lol!

Lordhan, (gosh, by the name itself!) was born with superior intelligence -like he was the ripest egg and the finest sperm. He did easily with his studies that made highly inferior -I had to strive harder than hard to get my own set of aces in my report cards and remarks that could at least stand along with his. We sure would have made it together in Ateneo as Blue Eagle scholars but I choose to go somewhere afar his shadows, and not be there, where I’d be “the ever supportive younger brother who clapped his hands in the outskirts of Lordhan’s shadows.”

But being away from him didn’t guaranteed me the best progress reports and flying colors in college. In my last year, I became bedazzled becoming the EIC of our school organ and spent more time with the (MY) magazine (hahahaha). I resolved myself knowing that I can achieve honors if I wanted to (I’ve proven it to myself), I just don’t want them anymore. Probably because I got no more competition, for Lordhan already finished studying. Or maybe because I thought it’s my last attempt to prove that I can be a better journalist than him.

Lordhan is his name, in case I you’ve forgotten.

Story No.3: A dead meat!

There are only three characters you have to pay attention to in this story -that is me, my brother and (drumrolls) a dog.

It was a lazy afternoon when my 7 year-old brother was chased (lol) and bitten by our aunt’s neighbor’s dog during our summer vacation. It was quite phenomenal that it almost turned what was supposedly a happy break into a disaster.

I can still vividly remember my mom swiftly shooing the dog while my aunt, dad, and uncle hurried to check on my brother. He was wailing so much that I kind of like felt his pain, albeit hints of torrid laughter in my head. Don’t get me wrong, I do love my brother but it was just a moment of shared sympathy and blissful naughtiness.

He was laid on a wooden couch and his bitten leg was somewhat casted with a tourniquet or something, to let it bleed for a moment. Then all sorts of stuff went in there from a coconut smelling oil, to a reddish brown liquid, to a white cream until the bandage came. Lordhan could only cry like a baby “I was stupid, I was stupid”. Okay, he really didn’t say that but he was as helpless as a baby!

But if you think I’m trying to make fun of him, you’re wrong!

Few weeks after, Lordhan had already recovered and the vacation was almost over. It was a happy holiday after all…

Almost… Until I came in with the twist just in time…

There was this another lazy afternoon. I was lazily sitting at the veranda looking at my uncle’s lazy napping dog. I don’t know what’s with lazy afternoons but there came another case, another chase, another run, another crunch from a dog, and another wailing bagets.

Alas! I was the star of the show!

When I finally gathered back my senses, I saw a flashback –a wailing child, my mom’s swift wonder woman action, the aroma of coco, the reddish brown liquid, the white cream, and then the bandage.

“I accidently stepped on its tail!” I told them to win their sympathy but intentionally, with all the force a five-year old could muster, I stomped on the poor dog’s tail as it silently slept.

I’m not a ‘crazy pet journo’ for nothing, ain’t I? Why else would I disturb that dog if not for that lazy afternoon?

Story No.4: Screw you!

Picture this.

There was a big red gate in front of our house. It opens wide in the middle for cars and delivery trucks of San Miguel and had a smaller one for employees.

It has nothing to do with the story.

Fronting it was a medium-sized green barred gate in our old home in Sta. Mesa, Manila. It had narrow covered dungeon-like passage towards the main road -a vintage beauty. It was also historical for my brother and I.

It wasn’t a lazy afternoon, so there weren’t dogs and dog bites. It was an after school fiasco. My brother and I were wildly playing power rangers (he was red and trust me, I wasn’t pink) when he accidentally got his finger stuck in the locking hole of the gate. It fitted perfectly! A perfect disaster. Lordhan started crying when he realized that perfect fits are better in shoes than in gate holes. Of course my mom was swift again, scolding my brother as she tried lubricating his finger with some oil (hahaha). Lordhan did nothing but cry (again). Of course, I was doing my best not to laugh thinking ‘poor brother will never get his finger out.’ (hahaha)

My father and other relatives also came, furiously waiting to pass…

…Lol I’m kidding. Of course they were there to check on Lordhan.

Oh Lordhan and how he loves plotting scenes.

Then finally, his finger slid out and we had our denouement. Playtime was immediately shut –the end…

…But not so fast…

…Evidently I loved rewriting his stories and making it mine.

Guess what happened few days after. You don’t have to think hard.

Yes, the same gate, the exact hole, my finger… The end.

Story No.5: Love song baby

Children love music. Being raise by parents who loved rocking me to sleep with a good hymn, I really couldn’t get why I never got interested in it when I was younger. Both of them sings, my brother too, so it’s kinds grey why I didn’t until the fateful day my mom and I paid an aunt a visit.

As I went down to our afternoon snack, my aunt randomly asked me why Lordhan did not come. I can’t recall the exact thing I replied but as sharp as my tongue was, I said something that goes like:

“Why would you look for him when I am here?”

Potentially provoked by my childish misdemeanour, she hastily replied:

“…because I miss him… because he has a good voice.” -exclaimed with a very warm smile like she was taunting me.

It’s something my neurons didn’t let go and it echoed in my ears again and again.

Since then, I believe I had developed a hilarious idea that people likes people who sings so I started playing my dad’s cassette tapes, secretly, in his car stereo –eventually developing my liking for music.

However, it took a long trip before I had finally persuaded myself that I can sing too…

…and then longer trip to believe that I’m not a good singer! (Hahaha)

I remember during my first year in high school, I joined the school choir where my brother was. The first days were fine. We were given a song by the vocal coach to practice for an audition. I really believed I can sing. However, having a pitchy tone with my immature soprano, I did not get in. (Hahaha! Embarrassing!)

Well, I really have a feminine voice that people over the phone would think I’m well, uhmmm, a “ma’am.”

Bawal ang boses babae a (female tone isn’t allowed),” the coach reminded as I held the microphone that overtly shook nerves –forcefully singing in a throaty baritone and blew everything off.

I mean, who does that right?

Anyway, I didn’t lose my esteem and joined a church choir when my family relocated, forgetting all the collective shame that audition crowned me. The coach was better and everything went pretty well.

Music has been very captivating since then. I feel like every important part of my life has theme song now. I do play a bit of piano (update: not anymore!), whispers good falsettos, and developed an ear for songs with deeper meaning –appreciating it from its construction and not just the beat which is kinda different from Lordhan. My singing will never be as good as him but at least I believe I know more about music than he does now.

And I think I’m gonna end rambling here and stop embarrassing myself with my envious accolades. However I would like to leave a very sensible thought for everybody.

Being envious isn’t good –it’s even one of the deadly sins for Christians. But in this very special case, my jealousy turned into a motivation that kept me fighting and wanting more. I did not let my naïve rivalry with my brother fester into self-loathing and rather used it to grow. If wasn’t for it, I would not have frustrations and eventually dreams. I might not have tried to become more and be who I am today.

We have sealed the deal a long time ago -maybe from the day I marched off college (graduation, yes, I graduated. Lol). To some extent I am content with my average writing skills, my off tune voice, my low exposure and everything I envied my brother for. I think the best part of it is being content, not because you pity yourself but because you fulfilled your dreams somehow or pushed yourself more than what you expected your limit could reach.

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Lordhan and I | Bicol, Ph 2015

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