Dear Marocharim, We Fell In Love Over the Internet

   Welcome to “Dear Marocharim,” and today we tackle a love problem.

December 15, 2007 

Dear Marocharim, 

   It is about a long distance relationship.  We are miles away from each other and and we have not even met yet (we met through the Internet).  She told me that she’ll be home by May, and for that, I am waiting for her.  I promised her that i will not find someone else while waiting, she promised me the same.  She says that I should trust her because she told me that she loves me, vice versa.  But I keep on asking myself, what if she falls in love with another guy?  What I fall for another girl?  How about the promises that we made, that we should hold on?

   She’s working in hotel-resort in Thailand, and after her OJT there, she’ll be here on May.  Her brother’s wedding will be here in Baguio City and we already planned that we’ll meet here before or after the wedding.  After the celebration, she’ll be back to Calgary where her family resides.  Maria plans to tour the world because after her OJT as a hotel personnel, she wants to become a flight receptionist or a stewardess or something like that.  I know she will not have enough time to spend with me.

   It will be difficult for us to be together for a long time because of her job. What do I do?

Sincerely yours,

Raven

Dear Raven,

   You’re not alone: I bet my bottom peso that there are thousands of people there who met the loves of their lives in the Internet.  I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with it, but there’s a difference between romance built in “the real world” and romance built in “the virtual world.”  You know how it goes: you have nothing to look forward to but text messages, conversations over Yahoo! Messenger, and if you’re really lucky, the phone call.  But really: how do you really get to know somebody from a webcam or something?

   Anyway, if you really love somebody, there are two things you have to know by now: you know when to hold on, and you know when to let go.  I know all there is to know about letting go, my friend: it sucks.  And holding on to a painful relationship also sucks just as bad as letting go.  You think you can be perfectly happy without the one you love knowing that she’s happy, but deep inside, you know you aren’t.  How many beers would it take to fill in the aching void in your heart?  Short answer: depends on the beer.  😉

   What’s keeping you from loving Maria with all your heart and soul and everything you have right now is distance.  Being far and away from the one you love is one thing, but being far and away from the one you love – and not ever meeting her – is another thing.  Reminds me of Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in “The Lake House…” or Dingdong Dantes and Iza Calzado in “Moments of Love.”

   Yup, Raven, maybe it’s time you figured out this “holding on/letting go” thing.  Being together doesn’t mean just being together in spirit, but also being together physically.  When you’re not together, I can’t blame you for feeling a bit jittery and even paranoid about the “what if’s.”  But there’s another “what if” you should consider: what if you’re really meant for each other?

   The here-and-now matters more than anything: love isn’t the only risk worth taking.  There are other things like life, work, personal fulfillment.  And you’ll get to that as soon as you take this love thing one step at a time, not thinking about the past or the future, but the here-and-now.  Re-evaluate yourself: how much do you love this person?  Do you love her so much you’re willing to stand the pain of holding on to a relationship that couldn’t last?  Or do you love her so much that you’re willing to stand the pain of letting go of a relationship that hasn’t really bloomed yet?

   I’m more partial towards holding on myself (obviously because I’m a man), but weighing all the factors in, it would be much better for you to let go.  There are many other opportunities out there to love and to be loved.  But take your time: don’t rush things.  Live for the here-and-now.

   In the end, Raven, it doesn’t really matter if you hold on or if you let go.  As long as you love her today… and as much as I hate to quote the Backstreet Boys, she won’t care who you are, where you’re from, she won’t care what you did, as long as she loves you.  And vice-versa.

Café au Insomnia

   It’s been a while since my last cup of coffee, so I broke out the instant coffee and mixed it with French vanilla-flavored creamer as a treat.  It tasted pretty good: way better than the flavored coffees they serve at Gloria Jean’s Coffees, or back when Seattle’s Best Coffee was still open at SM Baguio.  I don’t know if I have problems holding down my caffeine or anything, but I fell asleep at 4:00 AM.

   Save for the annoying episode of insomnia, it’s high time I started drinking coffee again.  The air is getting cold here in Baguio: brewing the morning coffee takes earlier than usual here nowadays.  Heck, any time is a good time to have coffee for a coffee-drinker.  I’m more of a tea person myself, but nothing warms your blood – save for a steaming pot of bulalo or a hefty serving of pinapaitan – than good old coffee.

   The coffee scene here in Baguio City can get a bit expensive: thankfully (or rather mercifully), Café Véniz serves bottomless brewed coffee for P37.00.  There’s also Ionic Café and, of course, Pizza Volante (I don’t know what’s the relationship between that place and the singer-musician Nyoy Volante).  Because I’m a rather casual coffee drinker, I don’t have a very discriminating or sophisticated palate for coffee.  Coffee is coffee: I don’t care if it comes from instant coffee grounds or more expensive tins of brewing coffee.

   I did have a phase when I completely got into the oils of Benguet brewed coffee, but that’s for another time.

Out of Place

   I live in – and for all intents and purposes, I love – Baguio City.  I was born here, I was raised here, and if anything, I would prefer to die here.  I wouldn’t have problems in the afterlife if I am to be interred in the crowded necropolis that is the Baguio City Cemetery.  My love for Baguio has been a 22-year love affair: ever since I was born, I knew of no other place where I should live.

   I live near Brentwood Village, a place I sometimes refer to as “Little Seoul.”  Pardon the pun, but it is one Seoul-ful place, where Koreans have settled with their questionable residency certificates and business permits to operate English language centers.  Anyone fresh off college and looks for work would be hard-pressed not to find an ESL center at Brentwood, teaching a foreign language to foreigners.  It is the irony of it all.

   I’m not a “nationalist:” if anything, I share the same conundrum the Mahatma himself, Mohandas Gandhi, faced when he returned to India: he had to speak English instead of Hindustani.  At least I don’t have to suffer the nationalistic indemnity and damnation of having to speak a few words of Korean in order to “properly” communicate myself.  But I’ve learned a few bits and pieces of Hanggul: to know that a given place is either a church, an Internet café, or a bar and restaurant.

   There’s a bulletin board at Porta Vaga that’s the exclusive domain of Koreans: signs written in Hanggul advertising heaven-knows-what: prayer meetings, boarding houses, business opportunities.  I don’t know, and I wouldn’t know until someone is patient enough to teach me the language.  Not to be ethnocentric (the anthropologist’s mortal sin), but somehow I find myself irritated at the Korean invasion.  I feel an invasion of my space.

   There is, was, and forever will be an aversion to the invasion of space: whether it is personal space, interpersonal space, or social space.  Lately, America has been debating over the issue of outer space, even.  Wearing my hat as a passing “social scientist,” I think that everything from global policies to personal identities are built on space: without spaces situating these concepts, we effectively become voided and empty.

   And so perhaps I couldn’t be blamed for having a negative impression against Korean migrants in general.  Surely, there are a lot of kind-hearted and considerate Koreans out there, but the thing is, I’d rather have my space – and my identity – back where it belongs.

Pin Heads

   Ah… bowling.  It lends itself way to double-entendre: holding a ball, rolling it out of the palm of your hand, hitting pins at the end of the lane.  You grunt and groan when the ball hits either canal, and whoop when your ball hits the rack dead-on.

   Olympian Lanes have been around ever since I was a kid: back in the day, it was still pretty much a wholesome family-friendly bowling alley that had a candy store in the entrance.  Back then, we gorge ourselves on cotton candy and big swirly lollipops, and leave balls sticky with damp sugar when we loft the balls around in the lanes our parents play in.

   The candy store has given way to a stall that sells warm beer, but it’s still pretty much the same alley that me and the family went to when I was a kid: same balls, same pins, and it still employs pinboys.

   In all honesty, I can’t bowl good: today, I bowled two 75-point games in duckpin.  During Christmas, I tag along with my uncle and my cousins to play ten-pin at the AMF Puyat lanes at Baguio Center Mall.  While I would pose a legitimate challenge in ten-pin, I suck at duckpin.  Maybe it’s a psychosomatic Freudian impulse of having two big boulders than three small grapefruits.  Is hitting the heckling pinboys a strike, a spare, a break, or a bad sprain?