16 August 2007

The Future Spinster, the Stoic and the Old Woman from Hell

One of my all-time favorite festivals is Sinulog. As January approaches, Cebu is stirred from the usual humdrum of a busy metropolitan to an exciting hubbub of festivity. The city becomes alive with the endless string of colorful buntings, the sudden influx of peddlers and their flamboyant array of handicrafts and other regional goods, the well-coordinated chant and dance ritual of candle-vendors at the Basilica (aptly referred by Cebuanos as "sinug") and of course, the culminating parade of upbeat streetdancing and gigantic effigies. A day before the mardi gras, devotees from nearby and far-flung places would all convene in a solemn procession in honor of the Sto. Niño. Since senior high, Jelai and I have never missed a single procession and this is something that I actually look forward to primarily for a spiritual purpose with an ulterior motive. The ulterior motive which I fondly call as my annual exercise. The long route of the procession, which usually starts at 2 pm and ends at around 6pm, is a good workout for my exercise-famished appendages.

In the several annual processions I have participated, one incident stands out clearly in my mind. It was a typical Sto. Niño procession, the streets were packed with long queues of devotees and we were already drenched in sticky sweat before it has even started. The seemingly uneventful procession proceeded as expected. Since I wanted to have a good view of the image of the Sto. Niño, we intended to arrive at the Basilica before the carroza (Sp "carriage") of the Sto. Niño and luckily, we did. Kudos to Jelai's expertise in maneuvering through the shortcuts of Junquera and Colon streets (your nocturnal prowlings surely paid off, Lai!). In the whole solemnity of the activity, who would ever guess that a quirky incident would soon take place? Before the arrival of the carroza, we noticed a blind old woman slowly wading her way through the throng of people as she held on to a young vagrant's shoulder. As the carroza came to view, we lose sight of them among the thick crowd. After almost an hour, the old woman reappeared sans the young vagrant. My heavily-carbonated brain (consume about a gazillion can of colas and your brain is as good as carbonated!) immediately projected my future septuagenarian self and a part of me, the part that fears spinsterhood, commiserated and later on, coaxed the stoic Jelai to help the wizened old woman.

Jelai: Where are you headed, Lola (grandmother)?
Old woman: $%@#! Where am I? I can't see a thing. Help me get to Inday's store in Magallanes. @#$%@$%!!!! (more and more expletives to mine and Jelai's consternation)

Jelai(completely aghast as the old woman's grubby fingernails sunk into her arms): Yce, where is Magallanes?!
Me(pointing somewhere to my left): Somewhere there! The place where you can buy cheap freshwater fishes.

Old woman: Where am I, you $#@%!!!?! Bring me to Magallanes. I'll pay you twenty pesos, you %$@#!!
Jelai: I don't care about your money, Lola. I'll bring you to Magallanes if someone can just tell me where that is and please stop cursing.
Old woman: Where am I?
Jelai: You are in the cathedral right across Patria. Let's walk this way.
Old woman: What?! $#%^#!!! I've been walking the whole afternoon and I am still here in the cathedral?!

Jelai: Yce, are you sure where Magallanes is?
Me: (to a nearby popcorn vendor) Manong (mister), where is Magallanes? Manong sarcastically answered with his mouth as the pointer and pointed something to my right. (To Jelai) Let's just take a cab. I'm sure the cabbie would know where that is.

Jelai: Lola, sit down first while I'll call a cab to take us to Magallanes.
Old Woman(stamping her rheumatoid feet): No! No! No! Let's just walk going there. I don't trust you. You might have an evil scheme of stealing from me, you &%$#*!!!

Bullied by an old woman from hell, we walked until it was nightfall but we were merely ten meters away from the cathedral. If we continue this pace going to Magallanes (if I was right about the location of Magallanes) we would get there in two days. Jelai's annoyed silence was punctuated by more and more profanities. Tired and irritated, I approached the policeman at the side of the road and told him of our predicament. Apparently, the potbellied policeman was directing the traffic (by the roadside?) and told me he can't leave his post. I asked him to spare me of his futile explanations and thanked him for nothing. Boiling with rage, I ran to the nearest barangay outpost to ask for assistance and demanded for the barangay captain. One of the clerks told me that the latter was busy with the city's preparation for tomorrow's mardi gras. Hearing the toothless clerk's lame excuses transformed me into an old-woman-from-hell reprimanding him with a horde of expletives and threats taught by the old-woman-from-hell. Dumbfounded, the toothless clerk called the barangay captain who assured me that they were going to bring the old woman to Magallanes. It turns out that the old woman was pretty well-known in that area and her antics were not a novelty to them. After mumbling some pleasantries with the barangay captain, I grabbed the unemotional Jelai from the clutches of the old woman who was deluging her with a torrent of expletives and insults. So much for being a good Samaritan.

The day's events have frayed the delicate strings of my tolerance so we rightfully drowned ourselves in a platter of fat-glazed pata tim and two slices of guilt-laden devil cheesecake. Nothing soothes like a good gastronomical feast.


Lupideloop said...

I have only had time to read this post so far, but I loved it! Hey, don't be too harsh of the old lady - being blind and alone must be a terrifying experience!

I have to congratulate you and your friend on your handling of this, errr, shall we say eye-opening, experience! And well done on pigging out to make up for it afterwards! That Pata Tim looks damn delicious, can I have some?

Issa Jimenez said...

Glad you love it! You have a point there so the old lady's umm.. demeanor was justifiable.Ü

You can have the whole platter of pata tim just for reading my post!

Lupideloop said...

I wouldn't say justifiable but understandable!

I have to take care of my 93 year grandmum every now and then, and believe me, you get used to such reactions!

Not that my grandmum, known as Nanna to us, swears... no no... rofl, that would be the day, but she can be a handful!

Issa Jimenez said...

I respect your opinion.Ü

It's amazing to know that you still look after your Nana and I doff my hat to you on that!

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