A decade hence…

3 03 2009

voyicon2I thought it might be a good idea to break-up the series of music-related posts (which has proven rather uninteresting) with something a bit more…er…of general interest in nature. Hehe! Just this once…

It has been 10 years since the 1999 Voice of Our Youth impromptu speaking competition that I won second place in, which got me enough money to send me to college (sort of), which in turn is somehow responsible for me being here in Manila, teaching. I can’t quite say my entire adult life can be traced to this one event, like Luna here, but I do consider it to have been a very important stepping stone to where I am now – and as such, I am thankful πŸ™‚

I was a high school senior back then, and it had been several years since I had been to Manila. I remember the air smelling not too good, frankly (I would wake up early in the morning and marvel at the smog line on the horizon). There was only Greenbelt 1 back then, and I remember buying the first Jars of Clay album from the National Bookstore record bar. I also remember eating at Wendy’s for the first time, and buying a certain pair of red sunglasses that The Cat once called “cool shades”. I still find them cool. Hehe.

In her blog (among the comments), Luna spoke of a certain incident involving a bannana (which she dosn’t really remember). Well, what happened was that on the night before the competition, the organizers gathered us contestants together for dinner and a general orientation. They started us off with softdrinks, and I noticed I was the only one who was drinking straight from the can. Then came dinner, and a bannana for dessert, so to speak. I noticed that everyone else was slicing their bannanas lengthwise and then picking out the edible parts with a fork. Me? I peeled the thing and popped it into my mouth, monkey-style. I remember feeling rather smug about being so maverick in the face of what I thought was high class.

I remember not only being the only contestant from my island (Mindanao – big island, mind you), but also being the only male contestant. I remember being holed up in one of the two dressing rooms backstage (they weren’t painted white back then) surrounded by ladies who talked as if they all knew each other.

I, on the other hand, was tucked away in the corner, sporting my best scowl and pretending I wasn’t listening to their conversation (Bridgette was trying to teach Luna how to say “I love you” in German, another girl was trying to teach her the same thing, but in Visayan, which is a local dialect). Eventually, Iris (she was seated next to me, and was the sort of girl who made it clear to adolescent guys like myself that my little city back in the province did not, contrary to the popular belief among my classmates, have a monopoly on pretty girls) decided I had been quiet long enough andΒ  dragged me into the conversation (when a pretty girl calls you handsome, even if she doesn’t mean it, she’s got your attention. I mean, nobody other than my mother had called me that before, so give me a break; I was young (15) and impressionable).

I bet this post has your undivided attention by now, has it not? Hehe.

I remember telling the ladies (who were astonishingly attentive) that my senior prom was being held that very night and I remember one of them telling me I could still make it if I flew out immediately after the competition. I didn’t bother telling them that I was already having way more fun than any of my classmates (snicker).

I’ve written about the competition before so I won’t bore you with the details regarding the competition itself. I mean, really, you don’t care – it was 10 years ago.

But I will write about the banquet, where I made such a big faux pas that it still leaves people in stitches when I tell them about it.

There was this big buffet table, which was loaded with food. I was still the proverbial bottomless pit back in those days, so I naturally crammed as much as I could onto my plate. At one end of the table was this big bowl full of ice cubes and these little, pale yellow cakes of what looked like ice cream. Of course I thought it an odd place to put the ice cream, but I figured that since people here split their bannanas lengthwise before eating them, what’s a little ice cream at the start of dinner, right?

Well, let’s just say that when I finally sat down to eat (Luna was to my immediate right), I decided to start with the ice cream and popped one of the little cakes into my mouth.

Hehe. It was butter.

No way I was going to spit that back onto my plate. I quickly grabbed a large dinner roll and started biting-off large chunks, mixing them with the butter in my mouth. I remember Luna looking at me, shaking her head, and saying “It always amazes me to watch guys eat.”

Another thing Luna said, regarding not wanting to answer the phone in her hotel room because she wanted to just sleep – I suggested yanking out the jack from the wall (She was the only person at the table engaging in small talk). She said, “Why not just leave it off the hook?” (I was new to landline phones back then, forgive me). I still hear those words everytime the intercom here at the faculty office rings.

Anne, our handler back then, recently moved to another island to raise a family and turn over a new leaf. As a result, neither Luna or I were invited to this year’s VoY competition (booo…) – but then again, what for? OK, besides the possibility of commiting another buffet-table boo-boo? My time there is up and passed; God used VoY to help get me here, to this school, to this job I so dearly love – I suppose its time to move on.

But I can look back from time to time, and remember πŸ™‚

Interestingly enough, the stage where I stood 10 years ago and called Bill Gates and fromer president Estrada “lucky” (for their success without a college education) is the same stage The Orchestra will be performing this Saturday.

It’s cool the way things turn out, eh? πŸ˜‰