Sunday, March 30, 2008

Good Fridays

On Good Friday, I am told to keep silent; Christ is covered w/ purple cloth in church.

There was 1 summer when my family & I spent the day quietly playing mahjong in our garage. Mom or Tita would occasionally stand to fetch another glass of water to fight off the hunger from fasting. I sat on my Monobloc chair the whole 5 hours we played, my crutches not far away, I too lazy to use them. During the hour when we would normally be preparing for dinner, I hobbled my way up to my room where I caught what was left of the Seventh Heaven marathon on TV.

I don’t remember the Good Fridays of my childhood, at least not the ones spent in Jakarta. I know Holy Weeks were actually spent in school; classes ended in June & Indonesia, a Muslim country, relegated the week to the level of Christmas—all the more insignificant w/out the practice of gift-giving. Wikipedia tells me that Good Friday is a national holiday in Indonesia; I’ll have to take his word for it.

Of course in the Philippines time freezes during Holy Week, or at least news does, papers often deciding not to publish on Good Friday & Black Saturday. I’m speaking from a Manila perspective here, where bored individuals can have the pleasant experience of driving the streets of a ghost town.

Various church communities have their own customs. It’s safe to say that the Stations of the Cross are being recited nationwide, while the pasyon or senakulo is being performed at varying levels of extremism.

In Pamapanga, many volunteer to get flagellated as penance for their sins. In Boracay, many who are simply happy to get off from the torture of school or work get laid.

This year, Good Friday was the day after my father, a supposed apostle (the priest being Jesus), washed my feet in front of other parishioners, symbolic of the Last Supper.

Bored of the house, April enticed me to the park to play basketball. It was my 1st time in that park in 8 years.

I let her shoot the ball for a while, content w/ simply rebounding & passing the ball back to her. I’d occasionally put the ball back up from a few feet away, but mostly I let her play.

But then I tried a free throw, w/c bounced around on the rim before going thru the net.

And I was back.

Seventy-five percent free throw shooter I was once. And for a while I was back to when that was.

I dribbled between my legs as I limped to another spot on the floor, just outside the key to the left, my favorite spot.


A pseudo-side-step to the left. Nothing but net.

And I was back: back to when I would fake off defenders, stepping back for that jumper. I was back to being fed the ball from the paint, banking it off the board.

I was back to that time when I would play sick, would spend halftimes of intramural games not w/ my coach & team but w/ my mom on the sideline, taking asthma & cough medication, burning because of fever but still on my way to my 20 or so points.

I was back to mocking the parents of kids who defended me. I was back to leading the crowd in cheering for my team, especially when I scored.

I was back to that kid that didn’t have to talk because people liked him already—he had game. I was back.

Feeling it, I dribbled to the right from above the free throw line, dribbled behind my back to switch to my left for a step back…then…I landed awkwardly on my left foot, sending a shock to where my left knee used to be.

I grimaced.

I saw April under the basket. I threw the ball up.


The Catholic meaning behind Good Friday, the Crucifixion, is 1 of liberating man from sin, while realizing that God, thru his son Jesus Christ, is one w/ us. On the court of my village’s public park on 1 particular Good Friday, I somehow relived joys I had closed doors to—because I was just too good then, in another lifetime.

Over the past 8 years I wouldn’t allow myself to be seen on the court, limping around, trying to be someone many would attest to my once being. But alone w/ April on the court made reliving safe, made dreaming momentarily possible.

Liberation from pride.

We shot the ball some more after that brick, April & I. But then it was time to go home.

When we left the court, there was nothing sad about it. The past is the past. The present is the present—and that’s walking home w/ someone I love more than I ever loved anyone. That’s being w/ someone who makes you feel that you’re worth something, deserving of a few minutes of reliving in a world that teaches you not to regret.

That’s the formula to a future freed from temporal joys from a silly game of putting an orange ball thru a hoop. It’s a future where the presence of a god is left unquestioned, for the 1 who holds your hand as you limp home is reason enough to live.

Photo courtesy of Audrey, taken during the awardees' dinner of the 2008 LS Awards for the Arts.

* * *

This is being posted an hour after I finally woke up, after a night split between Bonifacio High Street, Edsa Shangri-La, some not-to-be-mentioned joint, & the new Mister Kabab along West Ave. It was an evening celebrating/consoling w/ Drew, Cindy, & Kor, a day after we marched & received our diplomas from the Ateneo. The celebration continues tonight at my house, then tomorrow at a place in Ortigas.

People have been asking me how it feels to finally graduate. I really don’t know. Cliché: It hasn’t hit me yet. Celebrations are still to be had, then of course the needed rest from those celebrations. I imagine one day in the coming weeks, I’ll wake up & reality will set in: I have nothing to do, but I’m supposed to be doing something, supposedly to earn that paycheck. Writing about it won’t preempt the feeling so I’ll deal w/ it when it comes. As for now, a few more moments w/ loved ones, especially individuals who have been a part of the past 4 years up on that hill across from a 24-hour McDo.

Here’s to Batch 2008!


Anonymous Twiggy said...

Congratulations, Martin. I'm happy for you, sincerely happy for you.


8:33 PM  
Blogger M.V. said...

Thanks, Twigs.

12:10 AM  

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