Tales of Cancer

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

–Why?

Though others may still not understand my eccentricity, at least I made an effort -here are a few of mine.

Story No.1: The frustrated writer

I am never a good writer.

(And here it goes!!!) Why?

It’s because there’s this person who has been in my life and apparently would always be a better writer than I am.

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 fourth grade when my journalistic campaign began as an editorial cartoonist, and heck I was good. It was my very first journey outside the corners of my home and school. Campus journalism was the first inter-school participation I had that appealed to my fourth grade instinct as “an exceptional collection of brilliant minds working together for a common cause” (which was the newsletter) and being the only junior involved, I felt outstanding! It was the first editorial team our Montessori had -I was like one of the pioneers- and 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 a mere cartoonist.

Not that I’m belittling my contribution but, hello, a newspaper is a newspaper made with stories and writers writing them. Not a comic book. All the more, our school organ only released 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 EIC and 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 as a legend in our school. And I was there, just there, the very supportive younger brother who clapped his hands in the outskirts of Lordhan’s shadows.

Fast tracking to college, we lived our own ways -leaving that journey behind- and he did not pursue much of his journalistic campaign -although he took up Mass Communications (to my dismay) while I strive hard to become a writer -working in a magazine albeit my degree (Marine Transportation). The struggle is real! Hahaha!

Still, I would never 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 cork board of medals hanging in our house. I received numerous awards from distinct people -I received first honors ever since I learned my ABC’s and feat countless competitions (school-level) for goodness’ sake.

I was an achiever!

But still, I resolved in keeping my good works up, up, 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!

We all went to grade school, high school and college at least once but he was just over the top. I even had thoughts of buying medals to cheat on our cork board battle but that fascination faded when he received one from the Philippine president…

I always knew where to stop… Lol!

Lordhan, (gosh, by the name itself!) was born with superb intelligence -like he was the ripest egg and the finest sperm. He did easily at school that made me highly inferior. I had to strive really hard just to get 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 on a different path, afar his shadows, and not be where I’d just 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 disenchanted as I took charge of our school organ (as the IEC) in which I gave more time and interest than my academics. I resolved myself knowing that I can achieve honors if I wanted to (I’ve proven it to myself), I just didn’t want them anymore. Probably because I got no more competition since Lordhan already graduated. Or maybe, because I thought it’s the last facet I can attempt to become better than him.

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

Story No.3: A dead meat!

There are only three characters in this story -that’s me, my brother and (drumrolls) our summer neighbor’s dog.

It was a lazy afternoon when my 7 year-old brother was chased (lol) and got bitten by our aunt’s neighbor’s dog. It was quite an accident that it almost ruined our summer break.

I still vividly remember how my mom swiftly shooed the dog away, while my aunt and everyone else in the household hurried to check 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 love my brother but it was a moment of shared sympathy and bliss for a 7 year-old me.

He was laid on a wooden bench where his leg was tourniquet-ed or something to bleed for a moment. Then all sorts of stuff went to it from a coconut smelling oil, to a reddish brown liquid, to a white cream until the bandage. Lordhan just cried and was helpless like a baby!

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

Few weeks after, he already recovered and the vacation turned out to be fine. It was a good holiday after all…

Until I came in just in time for a twist…

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

Alas! I was the star of the show!

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

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

I’m not Harry’s ‘crazy-pet-journo’ for nothing, right? Why else would I disturb that dog if not for a 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. Lol.

Fronting it was a medium-sized green barred gate under a covered dungeon-like passage in our old home in Sta. Mesa, Manila.

It was historical for my brother and I.

It wasn’t a lazy afternoon, so there weren’t dogs nor a chase. It was an after-school fiasco. My brother and I were horse-playing as 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 with shoes than gate holes. Of course my mom was swift again, scolding my him as she tried lubricating his finger with oil (hahaha). Lordhan was once again as helpless as a baby and of course, I was doing my best not to laugh at my ‘poor brother who will never get his finger out.’ (hahaha)

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

…Lol I’m kidding. Of course, to check Lordhan.

Oh, Lordhan and how he loved plotting scenes.

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

…But not so fast…

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

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

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

Story No.5: Love song baby

Children love music. Being raised by parents who loved rocking us to sleep with a good rhythm, I really couldn’t get it why I wasn’t a music enthusiast when I was younger. Both of them sings, my brother too, so it’s kind of grey why I wasn’t until the fateful day my mom and I paid my aunt a visit.

As I indulge myself with our afternoon snack, my aunt randomly asked why Lordhan did not come with us. I can’t recall the exact thing I replied but as sharp as my tongue was, I said something like:

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

Potentially provoked by my childish misdemeanor, she replied:

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

It’s something my neurons couldn’t let go -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 finally persuaded myself that I can sing too… (which most people disagree with hahaha)

…and then a longer trip to make myself believe that I’m not.

I remember during my first year in high school, I joined the school choir only to get embarrassed by the couch -calling me out for my effeminate voice which took a hard toll in me and my premature soprano. Haha!

Bawal ang boses babae a (female tone isn’t allowed),” the coach reminded as I held the microphone that overtly shook my nerves and messed up my performance.

Who does that right?

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

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

Music has been a big part of my life 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 its beat -which is kinda what Lordhan enjoys (Luh, the endless ding-ding–ding-ding-ding-diding-diding). 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.

Being envious isn’t good –it’s even one of the deadly sins for Christians. But in this very special case, my jealousy turned as my motivation to be better. 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 do 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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