Monday, May 21, 2007

Love in a "Pan"

In the 70’s when John and I were courting, one of our favorite restaurants was Casa Marcos, which specialized in Spanish food. Our favorite dish was called “Pan de San Isidro,” a Spanish version of Cordon Bleu. A thick slice of cheese and ham are wrapped in a thin slice of veal, breaded and deep-fried. Since I was a light eater, John and I usually shared one order.

One evening, I was home (home then was an apartment owned by my parents that I was sharing with my younger brother) when the doorbell rang. At the door was one of John’s mother’s employees, an all-around helper whom John occasionally borrows as his driver or messenger. (His name was “Tabâ” because he was very overweight). He handed me a paper bag, with something wrapped in aluminum foil. Since it was still warm, I guessed what it was – Pan de San Isidro! How sweet of him! Thinking of John but not of my brother, I decided to send John half of the Pan. I asked Tabâ to wait while I divided the dish into two. I sent half back to John, with a thank you note.

The following day when I saw John (I didn’t have a phone at home and this was decades before the advent of cellphones), he wasn’t smiling. He appeared aloof and didn’t seem glad to see me, and of course, I wondered why. When finally I was able to coax him to talk to me, he said that he was very disappointed that I sent him half of the Pan. This was perplexing, as I thought he would be glad that I did.

He went on to explain that he went through a lot of trouble to surprise me with the Pan. The night before, he personally went to Casa Marcos and pleaded with the restaurant manager to allow him to talk with the cook. After he explained what he was planning to do, he was allowed to go inside the kitchen. John handed him a love letter that he had written, asked him to wrap it in foil, and to insert it between the ham and cheese. He told me that both the manager and the cook, and even the waiters, were thrilled to be part of this romantic conspiracy. While he was waiting for the Pan to be ready, they were all trying to guess how I would react. They were also challenging each other to think of ways to surprise their own wives or girlfriends. He left Casa Marcos with a big grin on his face.

But that night, when he ate the half of the Pan that Tabâ handed him, he found his foil-wrapped love letter in the portion I sent back to him. He was very disappointed, to say the least. While he knew that I had no way of knowing what I missed, still, he said, it was such a let down. All that effort was for naught, he said, and I said no, not for naught. I thanked him for what he did, and apologized for sending him back half of the Pan de San Isidro.

P.S. Since the element of surprise had been lost, John didn’t want to give me that love letter anymore. I wasn’t, but he was also too embarrassed to take me again to that branch of Casa Marcos, so we dined at their other branches instead. Casa Marcos closed down a few years ago.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Tulips on Mothers' Day

The beautiful bouquet of yellow and yellow-orange tulips came on a Friday, a full two days before Mothers’ Day, which is celebrated, annually, on the second Sunday of May.

It created quite a stir in the office, as the staff thought that the flowers came all the way from Holland. They know that Kathy’s boyfriend is Dutch and it was easy to assume that the flowers were flown in from Europe. Well, in a way, they were, (they must have been imported from the Netherlands) but they were arranged and delivered here by our favorite florist. It seems Kathy and her boyfriend, John, went to see Gina de Guzman of Petals Galore months ago when he was still here.

I took the bouquet to the other studio where Kathy was working overtime with her dad. The clients (Campaigns & Grey) who were at the studio for the car shoot thought the same way as the staff, and were told about the special arrangement with the florist.

Kathy wanted to take photos of the flowers but had to wait until the next morning since she and her dad didn’t get to finish work until past midnight. After taking photos of them in the studio, she took the flowers to our house in Alabang, so she could take photos of the tulips with a pair of Dutch wooden clogs that she got from her John on her birthday (March 3).

So now, photography has made it possible for those beautiful flowers to be immortalized. Long after the fresh tulips are gone, we can still look at Kathy’s photo of those beautiful yellow and yellow-orange flowers, and be reminded of today’s Mothers’ Day when I received that beautiful bouquet.

P.S. Kathy researched on tulips and found out that the yellow ones are called Yokohama tulips while the orange ones with yellow edges are called Kees Nellis.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Writing Exercise: "Hear/Listen"

Every Saturday, I attend a writing class with Barbara Gonzalez, a Philippine Star columnist whose writings I admire. Our exercise for this Saturday was to pick a pair of words and to write something using those words. To encourage us to write poetry, she said to write without worrying about rhyme, cadence, stanzas etc. Just write the two words, and “cluster” around those two words. So, here’s one of my first attempts at writing a poem. I chose the words “hear/listen.”

We are in love.
You love me, I love you
We listen with pure ecstasy
As we hear our hearts beat as one.

Sometimes we only give a hint
Sometimes not even
We understand and feel as one
And words need not be spoken.

Your eyes speak, my eyes listen
Your arms speak, my arms listen
Your body speaks, my body listens
Your heart speaks, my heart listens
In the deepest recesses of our souls
To each other, we listen.

But, sadly, years pass,
Somehow love passes, too.
We speak words, we wail and cry
But wounded hearts do not listen.

We hear the sobs of anguish and pain
We hear the doubt and disbelief
We hear the silence between us
But our hearts no longer listen.

Will love come again?
I put my ears to the ground
I raise my ears to all around
I strain to hear you above the noise and din.

Hush, I hear a tiny whisper
Reaching out through time and space
Across loneliness of yesteryears
Our hearts striving to listen, not just hear.

We can love each other again
Lost love can be regained
Our hearts will teach us how
Once more, to hear and listen.

We will listen with ecstasy
From now till we breathe our last breath
We will hear our hearts beat as one
Each day, each moment, until death.