Click here to read the previous episode.
The barkada went out to dinner that night. To his friends’ relief, Phil came along. But he mostly kept to himself and only spoke when asked, while the rest reminisced about their high school memories.
“How come you ended up being an architect? We always thought you would become an accountant,” Drew asked Dimitri, pouring iced tea into his glass.
“Well, Girlie stole that dream away from me,” Dimitri quipped in between munching crab legs.
Everyone laughed at that, even Girlie who threw a kalamansi peel his way. Dimitri was the mathematician in high school, always busy solving more complex problems at the back of the class.
His Lolo Lino, the parent he grew up with, was especially proud of him. It was Lolo Lino who pinned Dimitri’s medal during the boy scout ceremony, who assured him that no kapre resided on the mango tree in their backyard. It was Lolo Lino who would draw houses and buildings with him during free time, who played fencing with Dimitri using his twisted cane as his sword.
“Was it when Lolo Lino…?” Brenda trailed off as soon as Phil looked up. Girlie looked at her pointedly, as if saying “Don’t open that door, girl!”
“It was. Freshman year,” Dimitri recovered. “Pain also still as fresh.” He then pretended to slice his chest with his right hand sprinkled with grains of rice, in an attempt to lighten up the mood. There was no laughter this time, only awkward silence as the rest of his friends stared at their plates.
It was during his first college semestral break that Dimitri got a call from his uncle. He rushed to Manila from Puerto Galera like it was a stone’s throw away. Inside the Manila Doctor’s Hospital, Dimitri saw his beloved Lolo Lino lying on a bed, wearing an oxygen mask and visibly weak.
“Hijo,” said the old man, trying to caution his grandchild to go near him but unable to lift his arm.
Dimitri rushed to his side. “Lo, are you alright?” he asked in a small voice.
“Do you remember the times when we drew pictures of houses and buildings, hijo? Those are some of my life’s best memories.”
That was the last day Dimitri saw his grandfather alive—one of Dimitri’s most painful memories.
Armed with his Lolo’s last words to him, Dimitri transferred to a new course, graduating with a degree in architecture years after.
He worked hard and ended up with an offer to design a building in Dubai. The firm was so impressed with the innovative and unique concept that Dimitri was given the opportunity to name the structure. Today, a 73-storey tower with a 90-degree twist called the Cayan Tower—a portmanteau for Lolo Lino’s full name, Catalino Yangga—stood in the middle of the city.
Just then, Drew’s phone burst into a melody.
“Another night, another day/ what can I say/ You’re still the same old brand new you/ You break your promises in two/ What can I do/ When you’re the same old brand new y—”
“Oh my god, Drew!” Brenda shrieked. “A1, still??”
Drew scrambled out of his seat with his phone, away from Brenda’s prying, away from all the ears. He pressed the Answer button and said, “Hello?”