I thought I was smart, but I guess there were times that I did stupid things.
Gusto kong makausap si Darryl matapos kong marinig ang sinabi niya pero hindi ko alam kung paano. Wala kaming same class ngayong araw at mag-5 p.m. na rin kaya hindi ko siya mahahagilap. I tried calling his number, too, but he wasn’t answering.
Sinubukan ko rin siyang i-contact for the next few days pero hindi pa rin siya sumasagot. Hindi ko rin siya makausap sa class namin dahil nasa amin pa rin ang attention ng classmates namin. Besides, he seemed to be avoiding me. No wonder since I just told everyone that we were just playing pretend.
Wala akong nagawa kung hindi maghintay. Dahil midterms na rin ay kinailangan kong mag-focus muna sa acads. I spent the weekend reviewing for the exams, but I kept getting distracted by the thought of him.
For the next three days ay nakatambay ako sa library para mag-review. I didn’t want my grades to suffer because of this so I poured my concentration on reading. Mabuti na lang at three days lang ang midterms kaya naman pagkatapos no’n ay muli kong sinubukang i-contact siya.
I was about to call him when Jess suddenly appeared in front of me.
“Steff!” tawag niya at umupo sa harapan ko. “Buti nandito ka.”
Napakunot naman ang noo ko. “Why? May nangyari ba?”
“Pinapatawag daw tayo sa USC.”
She shrugged in response. “Not sure.”
Dahil mukhang urgent ay sumunod ako sa kanya at pumunta kami sa office ng USC. Pagdating namin doon ay naabutan namin sina Patrick at Lalaine. After us ay nagsidatingan din sina Kevin, Gisel, Charmaine, Alexa . . . at si Darryl.
The student leaders greeted us when our group was complete, and they explained why we were gathered. It turned out every year, the freshmen batch of the campus princes and princesses, would be the one in-charge of the upcoming feb fair—a week-long festival that celebrates the university’s arts and music. Because one of the dates coincides with Valentine’s Day, naging sikat din ito for couples o sa mga gustong mag-confess sa nagugustuhan nila. Parang naging tradition na rin daw na i-invite ang crush mo sa fair kaya naman big deal ito sa students.
“We’ll divide you into two groups and divide the tasks, too,” one of the student leaders said, who turned out to be a fourth-year campus prince.
First group was comprised of Gisel, Kevin, Lalaine, and I. The rest formed the other group. Halos hindi naman ako makapaniwala na wala man lang sa mga ka-close ko ang naging ka-group ko.
Napatingin naman ako kay Darryl dahil nasa magkabilang-dulo kami. A subtle smile escaped my lips. Ngayon ko na lang ulit siya nakita nang malapitan. I was glad that I could see him again, but he looked worn out. Pakiramdam ko tuloy ay kasalanan ko kung bakit siya gano’n.
Anyway, according to the leaders, we would be excused in some of our classes for the rest of the week to plan for the fair. Extracurricular activity rin daw ito for us at may incentives kami kapag naging successful ang event. That clearly motivated us, and we started planning our tasks.
Nagpaalam sina Jess at Patrick sa akin dahil sa kabilang room sila magb-brainstorm. Naiwan naman ako kasama ng groupmates ko. Honestly, si Kevin lang ang nakausap ko na nang ilang beses pero hindi naman kami close. I felt awkward with them, but I had to do this for my grades, too.
“What’s our plan?” tanong ni Lalaine at naglabas siya ng notebook.
“There should be booths,” Kevin suggested.
“Agreed,” said Gisel.
“Since it’s technically a music festival, we should invite local singers and bands,” dagdag ko.
Napahinto naman si Lalaine sa pagsusulat. “Should we perform, too?”
Napatingin kaming tatlo sa kanya dahil sa tanong niya at napanganga na lang ako nang biglang nag-agree si Kevin.
“Good idea,” he commented. “Gisel and I can form a band. Kayo ba?”
“I can dance,” said Lalaine.
Their gazes shifted at me. “Wait, you’re serious about this?”
“Of course! Para sa grades natin ‘to, Steff,” natatawang sagot ni Kevin.
“So, anong gagawin mo, Tiffany?”
I grumbled, knowing that I couldn’t reason with them any longer. “Fine. I-I’ll sing.”
“Alright! Let’s get started!”
After hours of deliberation, the council approved three of our plans: main stage for the music fest, mini-carnival, and a dating café.
Kinabukasan ay nagsimula na kaming mag-organize. I guess this fair was also an excuse to show-off our connections. Kaya siguro ang mga campus prince at princess ang laging organizers para roon. Anyway, Gisel was able to rent several carnival rides, and they would be installed starting tomorrow.
Dahil sa open field gaganapin ang fair ay nagse-setup na rin doon ng stage at booths, courtesy of the other group. Sila ang naging in-charge sa physical arrangements at ibang booths na ilalagay habang kami naman sa invitations sa performers at sa carnival.
I asked Dad if he could help me get the contact numbers of the managers or handlers of several singers, performers, and bands. Ganoon din ang ginawa nina Lalaine at Kevin. In no time, we sent invitations to a lot of them, and I hoped we could at least have six to seven performances for each day.
Kami rin ni Lalaine ang in-charge sa dating café. Tinawagan ko si Jess kung saan puwedeng i-puwesto iyon dahil medyo malaki ang makakaing space. Since isa rin ‘yon sa main attraction lalo na sa Valentine’s Day ay ibinigay nila sa amin ang space malapit sa carnival.
“Excited ako sa dating café n’yo,” sabi niya habang nasa phone call kaming dalawa.
Nasa open field kasi kaming siyam para mag-ocular inspection at para rin i-oversee ang pagse-setup ng ilang tents at booths. Sa sobrang lawak no’n ay hindi ko siya mahagilap kaya sa call na lang kami nag-usap.
“Kumusta pala kayo?” tanong ko dahil sobrang busy nila ngayon.
“Pagod na ako,” she chuckled. “Naghahanap pa kami ng ibang food retailers na gustong mag-setup ng booths. Ang kaunti pa kasi ng nakuha namin. Kayo ba?”
“We’re still discussing our plans for the dating café. Hindi pa rin kami sure kung ilan ang mag-a-accept ng invitation for the music fest.”
We aired our frustrations, too, hanggang sa naging ranting session na lang ang tawagan namin. Mabuti na lang talaga at lahat kami ay namomroblema. At least, we were all in this together.
Few days later ay mas naging busy pa kami. Halos sabay-sabay dumating ang iba pang rides for the mini-carnival at natitirang booths. Natapos na rin i-setup ang main stage for the performances. Sa magkabilang gilid naman ay nag-setup din ng tent na magse-serve as information desk habang naka-spread out ang medical tents.
Nag-start na rin kaming i-contact ng bands and performers na in-invite namin for each day. Fortunately, nakuha naman namin ang quota na seven performances every day at wala ring naging problema sa schedules nila.
We also built a small, café-like structure for the dating café. Nag-brainstorm din kami ni Lalaine para sa menu pero in the end, nag-hire na lang kami ng puwedeng maging cook at pastry chef. We rented circular tables and chairs, too, and designed the walls with aesthetic and romantic stuff.
Nagpahinga muna kami after a while dahil nakakapagod magdikit ng wallpapers. Umupo kami sa pinakamalapit na table sa amin pero napatigil si Lalaine dahil mukhang may nag-text sa kanya. She was intently reading it for a few seconds then she smiled.
Tumingin siya sa akin habang nakangiti nang nakakaloko kaya napataas ang kilay ko.
She snickered in return. “Not sure if you’re lucky or unfortunate.”
I was lost, and that must have been obvious from my expression. “Huh?”
Muli naman siyang tumawa. “Ang masasabi ko lang ay congrats.”
“What are you—”
“Tara na, mag-work na ulit tayo, Tiffany.”
That day, almost everyone of the campus princes and princesses congratulated me, and I wasn’t sure if I should get excited or scared.
Bukod sa pag-o-organize ay naging busy rin kami sa pagp-practice para sa performance namin. Dahil wala na kaming time to perform individually ay nag-decide na lang kami na mag-form ng temporary band. Fortunately, the four of us could either sing or play instruments.
For our special performance, I was the designated vocalist. Lalaine, Gisel, and Kevin would play the guitar, piano, and drums, respectively. We booked the music room for afternoon practices, and honestly, I think we were doing good despite the time constraint.
Pagkatapos ng practice namin ay dumiretso ako sa cafeteria para bumili ng bottled water. Hinihintay ko na lang naman din si kuya Ronald na dumating kaya balak kong mag-stay na lang dito pero bigla kong nakita si Andrea na pumasok din sa cafeteria.
Nagtama ang mga mata namin at agad niya akong sinamaan ng tingin. There were only four people besides us, but I could tell that they were glancing at our direction. After all, kilala na rin nila si Andrea dahil ang dami ring articles tungkol sa kanya noong nakaraang week.
I ignored her and settled on the table at the corner, but after a few minutes, she stood in front of me.
“Because of you, my name and Ian’s have been tainted,” she complained. Napansin ko namang may hawak din siyang bottled water at hindi na ako magtataka kung may balak siyang itapon ‘yon sa akin.
Instead of answering, I chose to ignore her, much to her ire. These past few days, I learned that some people do not deserve your attention, especially those whose only purpose is to annoy you or bring you down.
She scoffed at me. “Huwag na huwag ka nang lalapit kay Ian—"
I loudly put down my bottled water on the table, cutting her off. This time, I looked at her with contempt. Might as well borrow Alice’s boldness.
“Are you that threatened?” I taunted.
“Darryl’s already by your side yet you’re still resorting to lame threats against me. Dahil ba alam mong hindi ka niya magugustuhan?”
Okay, that might have crossed the line, but her expression after hearing that was priceless. She was already fuming and ready to explode.
“How dare you!”
And there it was—the classic throw-water-on-your-face move. Mabuti na lang at nakailag ako kahit papaano at ‘yung right sleeve lang ng damit ko ang nabasa.
I grabbed my own water battle and saw her flinched for a second. Hindi ko tuloy alam kung matatawa ba ako o maaawa. Tumayo ako at nagsimulang maglakad palayo. Sometimes, the best thing to do was to ignore someone, especially when she did something pathetic.
When I learned about Darryl’s feelings for me, I realized Andrea was doing all of that because she was afraid I’d steal him from her. She loved him, but he didn’t see feel the same way. I did understand her, but the way she was dealing with her feelings was destructive for everyone. And this was coming from me who had viewed her own ways as childish and selfish.
Now, I could only feel pity whenever I look at her.
The first day of the fair was already here.
Halos hindi ako makapag-focus sa class dahil ang dami naming kailangang gawin. Mabuti na lang at hindi rin ganon kabigat ang lectures ngayon. Maybe because the professors knew everyone was focused on the event later.
Nang matapos ang last class ko ay agad akong pumunta sa dating café. Lalaine and I hired several students as waiters and waitresses. Dahil Monday pa lang at unang araw ng fair ay hindi ganoon karami ang tao pero nakakapagod pa rin.
Dumalaw rin sina Alice at Yna sa café pero hindi rin sila nagtagal dahil mag-iikot pa raw sila. Meanwhile, Jess and I weren’t able to meet because of our tasks.
We were too busy that we couldn’t even see the performances live, although we could hear the bands from the café. Hindi ko alam ang kanta ng mga naunang bands at wala na rin akong energy para mag-ikot. Bandang 9 p.m. ay sumuko na ako.
I told Lalaine that I was feeling dizzy, and I needed to go home. Medyo na-guilty ako kaya nag-promise ako sa kanya na ako ang mags-stay ng late bukas at pumayag naman siya.
The first day was too tiring, but I did enjoy it. I hope tomorrow would be a little better.