Champorado at Tuyo
Maya was bustling in the kitchen, bright and early the following day, full of energy despite the fact that she had a hard time falling asleep the night before. Manang Fe who was watching Maya felt dizzy with all the moving around she was doing.
“Maya, anak, ayos ka lang ba? Medyo nahihilo na ako sa kaiikot mo. Ano pa ba ang mga kailangang gawin, pwede ka naming tulungan ni Fely. Tatawagin ko lang.”
“Manang, don’t worry. Okay lang po ako. Maraming salamat po. I promised Ricky I will make him breakfast today since he is taking me to work. Mabuti, bago ako tuluyang nakatulog, naalala ko at nakapag-set ako ng mas maagang alarm. Matatapos na ito!” Maya assured her yaya as she stirred the champorado she was cooking. She just needed to fry the tuyo afterwards and she is all done. She had already prepared fresh juice and some fresh fruits on a platter. She woke up at 5:30 in the morning so she has ample time before Ricky arrives at 7AM.
“Kasi sana sinabi mo sa akin kagabi, di sana hindi mo na kinailangang gumising ng sobrang aga. Tatanungin sana kita kaya lang parang sa tingin ko lumulutang ka sa alapaap kagabi eh.” Manang Fe said with a smile, then teased her ward. “Dalagang-dalaga na ang alaga ko.”
“Manang!!!! Matagal na kaya akong dalaga. I’m 29 years old! Iyong iba nga na kasing age ko, may family na.” Maya said smiling.
“Totoo pareho iyon. Hindi ka naman minamadali ng Mommy and Daddy mo since meron na silang apo kina Cristina Rose at Jeff. Ngayon lang din kasi kita nakitang ganito hija. Ang saya-saya mo. May mga nanligaw naman sa iyo, pero hindi hanggang agahan ang imbitasyon. Iyong iba nga, alam ko hanggang gate lang.” Manang pointed out. “Masaya ako para iyo.”
“Manang, ikaw ha, na-conclude mo nang nanliligaw si Ricky. Kagabi mo lang nakita and nakilala.” Maya said smiling.
“Kilala kita hija. Ako yata ang nagpalaki sa iyo. Saka kung hindi mo nga ipinakilalang kaibigan mo at hindi ko alam na wala ka pang nobyo, iisipin ko na nobyo mo na si Richard sa mga kilos at tinginan niyo kagabi.” Manang said as she continued watching her alaga expertly making her way around the kitchen.
What Manang Fe said was true. Mas matagal pa yata ang mga time na magkasama sila kaysa sa Mom niya. Not that she begrudged her mother the time she had spent away from her. She and her dad worked very hard to give her and her sister a nice life. Her mother also worked at the family bank before she and her father retired early to pursue other things.
“Hindi ko pa po boyfriend, Manang. Pero I like him a lot. In fact crush ko nga siya noong una ko pa lang makilala.” Maya confided to her nanny. She is like that to her.
“Pero nagtapat na siya sa iyo ng pag-ibig, hija?” Manang Fe asked.
“Opo! Kagabi po.” Maya said with a goofy smile on her face.
“Hmmm, sabi ko na nga ba, hija. May kakaiba talagang ningning ang mga mata mo kagabi. Pati naman si Richard. Magaan ang loob ko sa batang iyan.”
“Talaga po Manang. Ako rin po, kahit noong una ko pa lang siyang nakilala. Mabait po siya and simple lang, considering Manang na anak siya ng may-ari ng Lim Corporation. Masaya pa pong kasama and gentleman talaga.” Maya said, getting lost in remembering Richard’s qualities. “Mabiro rin!” Maya added remembering all the things Richard did the past several days.
“Mabuti naman, Maya. Alam ko naman na darating din talaga ang lalaki para sa iyo at tiyak kong malalaman mo iyon kapag nandiyan na. Tadhana ang nakakapagsabi niyan. Of course, una rin sa lahat ang pananalangin sa nasa itaas na ipatagpo sa iyo ang taong karapatdapat sa iyong pagmamahal.”
“Totoo nga po ang pangaral niyo sa akin Manang noong teenager pa ako. For me po, ito na iyon. Ricky is the one for me.” Maya said with conviction. What she feels for Richard she has not felt with anyone before.
“Masaya ako para sa iyo, hija. Ipagdarasal ko na maging maligaya kayo ni Richard.” Manang Fe said as she hugged Maya. “ O siya, hindi ka pa ba male-late. Kailangan mo pang maghanda. Tapos na naman yata ang champorado. Ako na ang tatapos noong iba. Ano pa ba ang natitira?”
“Manang, luto na nga po ito. Iwan ko na lang muna sa stove para mainit pa pagdating ni Ricky. Okay lang po bang pa-prito nitong mga tuyo? Kailangan ko na palang maligo and get ready for work.” Maya said as she looked at the clock and started removing the apron she was wearing.
“Okay. Ako na ang bahala diyan.” Manang Fe said as she shooed in Maya into going back to her room to prepare for work. She also surveyed the table, double-checking everything, just in case Maya forgot to do something.
While Maya was going to her room to get ready, Richard was going down the stairs of his parents’ home, wearing a light blue shirt sans tie and a pair of dark slacks. Donya Esmeralda heard his footsteps so she looked up from the newspaper she was reading at the veranda.
“Ricky, good morning! Breakfast, son? Ipapahanda ko na kay Doris. Parang ang aga mo today ah!” She remarked as she stood up.
“No need na, Ma. Thank you. Just continue with what you are doing. I will be back in a second. Kuha lang ako ng kape. No need to bother Doris with it din. I can do it na. I’m sure, na-brew na naman niya. Gusto mo ba ng tea ulit?” Richard asked.
“No, son. Thank you. I’m good.” Donya Esmeralda said.
Okay, Ma.” Richard then went to the kitchen to get himself a cup.
“Sir Richard, good morning po. Breakfast? Ready na po ito. Ilalagay ko na lang sa mesa.” Doris said as she got the last batch of bacon from the frying pan.
“No need na Doris. Thanks. I just want a cup of coffee. Nakapag-brew ka na ba?”
“Opo, Sir. Ikuha ko po kayo?”
“Thank Doris. I can do it na. Continue with what you are doing.” Richard said as he got a mug from the cabinet and make himself a cup of coffee. He smiled at Doris and went back to the terrace.
“Ito talagang si Sir, nasanay na mag-isa sa Amerika. Hindi na lang ako inutusan.” Doris muttered to herself. “In fairness, lalo siyang gumagwapo kapag nakikita kong siya mismo ang gumagawa ng mga dapat iniuutos na lang niya sa akin. Saka parang mas guwapo siya ngayong umaga. Hmmmm, parang may pinapaguwapuhan.”
‘Doris, anong binubulong-bulong mo diyan?” Lea, the other maid in the Lim household asked Doris.
“Wala sabi ko ang guwapo ni Sir Richard. Hay, masuwerte naman talaga ang babaeng mamahalin niya. Pinakamapalad na nilalang sa balat ng lupa….”
“Ikaw talaga ang aga-agang pinagpapantasyahan ang amo natin. For sure naman, hindi pipili iyang si Sir ng basta-basta kaya suwerte rin doon sa lucky girl si Sir. Halika na nga at baka bumaba na rin si Don Roberto, hindi pa handa itong breakfast ng family.”
The two maids went back to what they were doing. Unbeknown to them, Richard heard them. He still had a smile on his face when he returned to his mother.
“Parang saya-saya mo ngayong umaga, son. Actually, kagabi pa. Ramdam ko sa boses mo.” Donya Esmeralda remarked as Richard sat down beside her.
“Hmmmm, yes, Mama. I’m so happy. I’m in love!” He declared to his mother with a big grin. He does not mind saying it to her this early. “And hey, before you plan my wedding, I just want you to know na nanliligaw pa lang ako. Hindi pa ako sinasagot.”
“Well, I’m happy for you son. It is about time! Pagkatapos ng naging experience mo diyan kay Natasha! I had a very good impression of Maya Dela Rosa when I met her. Sayang hindi kami masyadong nakapag-usap.” Donya Esmeralda said. “Madami kasing bisita ang Papa mo noong magkita kami. Besides, kapag dumadalaw ako sa LC and nakikibalita sa newly-hires na officers ng company, people only have good words for her. She seems well-liked in the company.”
“Hahahahaha, sabi ko na nga ba, ‘Ma, you will put two and two together.” Richard laughed. “And ‘Ma, no more mention of Natasha. That was in the past na. And yes, Maya is well-liked in the company. Not only she is beautiful, she is a very nice person pa. Beauty inside out and brains, lethal combination sa puso ng unico hijo mo.”
“Of course, son. Nabanggit ko lang naman. Kapag naalala ko kasi ang ginawa niya sa iyo. Balik tayo kay Maya, boto ako diyan sa nililigawan mo, even if you don’t need it naman. Siya talaga kaagad ang naisip ko nang banggitin mo kagabi ang pangalang ‘Maya’! See, di ba ang galing ng instinct ng Mama mo, hahahaha.” Donya Esmeralda said. “Bakit nga pala ang aga mo? Saka bakit hindi ka nag-breakfast? May early meeting ka ba?“
“Speaking of that, Ma. I need to get going soon. Susunduin ko pa si Maya sa kanila. Iniwan kasi namin iyong car niya sa LC when we had dinner last night. I will have breakfast at her house. She will cook champorado and tuyo raw for me.” Richard said happily. “Pambawi niya since susunduin ko siya. I missed eating those rin!”
“Oh, that’s nice of her! “ Donya Esmeralda said. Hindi pa man, may bonus points na sa kanya ang hopefully future girlfriend and wife ng anak niya! “Say hello from me. Invite her to dinner one evening.”
“Sure, Mama!” Richard stood up, kissed his mother on the cheek. “I’ll get going na, bago pa ako ma-traffic going to Bel-Air.”
“Oh, that is where she lives! Sa family home nila.” Donya Esmeralda remarked as she walked Richard to his car. “Hello to her parents. I know them. I met them in some of the company’s parties before.”
“Yes, her father was your Papa’s old banker. Hello na lang kina Arturo and Teresita!”
“They are not there Ma. Sabi ni Maya sa Mindoro na sila naka-base since her dad retired from the bank!”
“Oh, next time then. I’m sure, with you courting their daughter, we will see each other again.”
“Ma, don’t plan the wedding yet. Remember, hindi pa nga ako sinasagot ni Maya.” Richard said smiling, teasing his mother.
“Hay naku, son. I’m sure sasagutin ka ni Maya. Good catch naman itong binata ko!” She said confidently.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence Mama. Bye.” Richard said as he kissed his mother one more time before boarding the car.
Traffic was still light. He was lucky. He arrived at Maya’s house less than an hour after he left Dasmarinas Village. He would have been there sooner if he didn’t pass by a bakery before heading to Maya’s place.
“God morning po, Manang Fe.” Richard said to Maya’s old nanny when he saw her opening the gate, several minutes after he rang the doorbell.
“Richard, tuloy ka hijo!” Manang Fe greeted Richard with a big smile. “Pasok ka na muna. Pababa na rin si Maya. Nakalimutan lang iyong phone sa kwarto.”
Richard and Manang Fe walked together the short distance to the front door of the big two-storey house with a huge garden.
“Kayo po ba ang nagga-garden dito Manang? The flowers are really beautiful.” Richard remarked. This is the first time he is seeing the beauty of the place in the daytime.
“Minsan. Pero ang nagtanim at masipag talaga sa mga iyan, si Maya. Libangan iyan ng batang iyan. Stress reliever raw niya ang gardening. Kung hindi ko nga lang pinigilan, baka puro sunflowers ang nakatanim sa kalahati niyan.” Manang Fe narrated, smiling.
“Talaga po! I found out nga po that is her favorite flower.”
“Ricky, good morning.” Maya greeted Richard from the opened doors to the living room. “Sorry, hindi na nakita nasalubong from the gate.
“Good morning, Maya!” Richard greeted Maya with a big grin, very happy to see her. She looks very lovely in her long skirt and body fit blouse, sporting a minimal make-up. He walked towards her, then gave her a peck on the cheek.”For you and Manang!”
Maya blushed, getting a bit self-conscious, especially since Manang Fe is around. “Thank you.” Maya gave him a big smile, one that lit up her whole face. “Pandesal and herb cream cheese from Pan de Manila! My favorite! Sobrang dami na ng breakfast natin!”
“Well, you can bring that one to work, if you want, and we can share it for snacks and coffee later. There are two packs. We can leave the other one for Manang,” Richard suggested.
“Okay, that is a good idea. But coffee is on me na ha.” Maya insisted. “Parati mo na lang akong nililibre ng coffee.”
“Okay, you are the boss!” Richard said, then whispered, “of my heart!”
Maya whispered back, forgetting that Manang Fe was with them, and that she can still hear them. “Kasing cheesy nitong dala mong cream cheese ang line mo Atty. Lim.”
They both shared a laugh. Manang Fe was smiling behind them.
“Wow!” Richard managed to say when he saw the food on the table. “Thank you, Maya. I’m sure I will have the best breakfast ever.”
Richard seated Maya, then looked at Manang Fe, and was about to assist her as well.
“Naku Richard, Maya, mauna na kayo mga anak. Mamaya na ako.” Manang Fe said. “Kumain kasi ako kanina nang pagkagising ko bago nagsimba. Mamaya pa ulit ako magugutom niyan.”
“Nakapagsimba ka na pala kanina, Manang!” Maya said. “Sige po. Ricky, let’s eat na.” Maya said, then started serving champorado to Richard, while Manang Fe on the other hand, excused herself to check on her niece Fely.
“Maiwan ko muna kayo. Itong pamangkin ko, kapag hindi ko pa gigisingin, male-late na naman sa eskwala.”
“Sige po Manang Fe.” Maya and Richard said one after the other. Richard also thanked the old lady again.
“Ricky, kain lang ha. I hope you will like my champorado. Heto ang tuyo, ubusin mo iyan ha.”
“Thank you, Maya. I’m sure I will. Ikaw yata ang naghanda nito. Ikaw?”
“I will get na rin. Ano pala ang gusto mong drinks I have fresh dalandan juice, or coffee.”
“Juice na lang, Maya. Thanks. I had coffee at home. Nakipagkwentuhan pa kasi si Mama bago ako umalis. By the way, she sends her hello. Kilala pala nila ni Papa ang parents mo. And I am right, nahulaan niya na ikaw ang Maya na kasama ko.”
“Talaga. I didn’t know that. I will tell Mom and Dad. Hindi kasi ang Papa mo ang nag-final interview sa akin, kundi your Uncle Patrick. I think your Papa was on vacation at that time.” Maya said. “And nakakatuwa naman ang Mama mo! She knows kaagad. What did you tell her naman?”
Richard smiled at that. “Hmmm, secret iyan. Sasabihin ko lang kapag sinagot mo na ako.” He teased.
“That’s blackmail, Atty. Lim, or kung hindi coercion. Labag sa batas iyan.” Maya bantered back.
“Sabihin mo na kasi….
“Maya, kulit mo, hahahaha. Lalamig ang champorado!”
“May microwave naman, I can reheat it”
“We will be late….”
“Hmmmp, sige na nga Atty. Lim, for now.” Maya smiled and then gave Richard more servings.
They had a lively breakfast, punctuated by kulitan and gazing at each other, without words, conveying how much they were enjoying each other’s company. When they finished, Richard helped Maya put away everything despite her refusal. In the middle of it, Manang Fe returned and shooed them out of the house since they will be late for work.
On the way, to Ortigas from Makati, Richard and Maya talked non-stop. They never ran out of things to talk about. The conversation just flowed. Richard was very happy listening to Maya narrating some of her experiences as a journalist, including her bloopers. They also talked about how it was living on your own in the States versus in the Philippines. Richard told Maya some of his adventures and misaventures living alone for the first time in his life. They chatted like an old married couple, so comfortable with each other, with none of the awkwardness experienced by two people just getting to know each other. For Richard, it felt like a preview of what life would be with Maya at his side. Maya felt the same. She was very happy at that moment, sharing that special time with Richard.
More than an hour later, they reached LC. On the way to the elevator going up, Richard smiled at Maya, took hold of her hand, and intertwined it with his. He was also carrying Maya’s laptop bag. He didn’t let go of her hand even while inside the elevator. Maya enjoyed the feeling of their hands clasped together. When they reached the ground floor, other employees got it. Some saw their new chief legal counsel and head of CC holding hands and wondered if sila na. Some felt kilig since the two of them look very good together.
Richard, like he had done the past several times, accompanied Maya up to her office floor.
“Maya, I’ll see you later for our coffee break. Would it be okay if we do it in my office? I have a small private pantry there. I can reheat everything before you arrive.” He suggested.
“Sure, I’ll just go up at 10 o’clock or so. For your coffee, same pa rin?” Maya asked.
“Yes. Thank you, and see you later.” Richard said.
They parted at the door, with huge happy smiles on their faces. When Maya entered her office, she discovered she was in for a surprise pa from Richard. Her whole table was covered with the biggest and most beautiful arrangement of sunflowers she had ever seen. She smiled and hastily looked for the card.
Dearest my soon-to-be girlfriend,
Have a great day! I know I will have one already as I will think of you and our times together, saka kung paano pa ako manliligaw ng husto. 🙂 Good thing I have a light schedule today, otherwise, I will be in trouble. See you soon.
Ricky (your boyfriend the soonest! 🙂 )
Maya laughed at Richard’s latest courtship salvo, at the same time, felt very kilig. For sure, their courtship is one to tell their children and grandchildren! Children and grandchildren, you are getting way to ahead, Maya Angela Dela Rosa! But that is what I wish for. I want a forever with Richard.
Maya got her phone and texted Richard.
Thank you very much for the super lovely flowers, my ‘boyfriend the soonest’ (and by that I am just quoting what you wrote (wink, wink, wink)!
Richard replied promptly.
Hmmm…. 🙂 🙂 🙂 I’m glad you like the flowers my soon-to-be girlfriend! I love you!
Maya felt like swooning after reading the last part of the message. She sat down on her desk, weak in the knees and with a goofy smile.
Richard entered his office with the same, prompting Liza to raise an eyebrow sa sobrang sayang nakikita niya sa boss niya. Richard didn’t notice. He was lost in his and Maya’s universe!