Revelations and Intentions
“You looked for me after the pageant?” Maya asked Richard, very surprised at this revelation. She never thought that he did. But knowing that he did, her heart beat faster. She was also feeling warm, elated, and giddy all of a sudden.
“Errrr, y-yes, I did, sort of. You know, just thought of it since you left abruptly. I have been wondering what happened to you.” Richard stammered, said lamely, feeling his face getting warm too with his admission. He was not planning on admitting it this evening. However, it just slipped when they were talking about his first resort project.
Maya had asked him how he had been since they last saw each other at the pageant. He told her that from the manufacturing, transportation and communications side of Lim Corporation he moved to property developments and formed Emerald Hotels and Resorts Corporation, as a subsidiary. It is his field of expertise anyway as he is an architect and a structural engineer.
He told her of his first project, the resort in Mindoro. He also told her of going back to Mindoro after the pageant to supervise the construction of the resort. It was while there, he said, that he found out she was not in Mindoro anymore. Having said that, Maya asked him what he meant, so he admitted that he looked for her while overseeing that project.
“You really did! When exactly?” Maya is very much interested to know.
“I think it was two weeks after you have moved to Manila permanently. I found myself in San Nicolas so I asked some of my contacts about you. They know your family, especially your Mamang, whom I learned died the morning after the pageant.” Richard said. “My heartfelt condolences, Maya, even if has already been seven years. Had I known, I would have gone to the wake. I also left San Nicolas the morning after the pageant. I didn’t know also where you moved.”
“I have wondered about you.” Richard admitted. He might as well come clean, tell her about this since he slipped. Maybe this is the opening he needed. “Difficult to believe or explain, isn’t it, as the only words we have exchanged that night was my question to you in the pageant! Don’t ask me to explain why, I have no answer too.” Richard said with a smile, at the same time gazing at Maya intently. “Maybe, there is a higher force at work. See, we even met again after all those years and felt like we have known each other long.”
“Thank you Ricky. That was very heartwarming to know. I’ll be honest, I did think of you too through the years, for some reason beyond me. I do feel like I have known you for a long time, when this is our first one-on-one interaction.” Maya admitted, then looked at Richard shyly. She wanted to be honest too as he had been. They smiled at each other, sharing a silent understanding.
Then Maya continued, “Mamang had cancer and that night of the pageant she had turned from bad to worst, then died at dawn. That was the reason why I missed the party afterwards. She was very happy to know that I have won. It was Mamang’s dream to join beauty pageants but her parents refused to allow her. I was just living her dream for her since I wanted to cheer her up. Ease up her suffering by focusing on something she enjoys very much. Kung alam mo lang kung gaano ako ka-nerbyos that night!
Mamang followed all the major pageants in the country and she as an encyclopedic knowledge of them. I missed talking to her about it and every time I would see a beauty pageant on TV, I missed her most, I missed that time with her.” Maya said, getting teary-eyed all of a sudden.
There is still a pinch in her heart when she remembers Mamang and all the wonderful memories, because she would then realized that they are just memories now, as she is forever gone from this world.
“You have been a good grandchild, Maya. Not everyone would do that to make their grandmothers happy.” Richard said gently, seeing Maya’s teary-eyed expression. “I gathered from your answer to my question at the pageant that you looked up to her and that she was an important figure in your life.”
“She was both my beloved grandmother and mother. My parents died in a car accident when I was very young. Instead of me ending up with my Tita Lulu, my mother’s only sister and her husband, Tito Mario, they are Ate Cris’s parents, Mamang insisted on taking care of me. We were each other’s source of strength as we dealt with the lost of my parents.”
Richard’s heart goes out to Maya. She had known so many lost in her young life already. “I hope there was someone who was with you too, when your Mamang died. I know it must have been very devastating for you.”
“My aunt, uncle, Ate Cris and her brother Lino became my family then. They were there for me. Wala rin kasi kaming alam na masyadong relatives ni Dad! Tita Lulu insisted then that I will live with them kahit sabi ko kaya ko nang mag-isa. She offered when my parents’ died but Mamang said nga na siya na lang mag-aalaga at magpapalaki sa akin.” Maya said.
“They really treated me as one of their own. In fact, Ate Cris is more like a sister than a cousin to me. Si Lino naman parang baby brother ko na iyon.”
“I’m glad that they are good people, that they took care of you.” Richard remarked. “Kaya pala when I asked around, wala na raw kayo sa Mindoro. Isinama ka pala nila sa Maynila.”
“Yes, we sold Mamang’s businesses kasi walang mag-aasikaso from Manila, and the farmlands, we left in the hands of a caretaker. Nandoon pa rin ang mga lupa. In fact I’m going there before the New Year, bago ako mag-work sa Emerald. Dadalawin ko sana ang puntod ni Mamang. Matagal na rin kasi akong hindi nakakadalaw sa kanya. Tapos I will check on one of her properties na pwedeng i-develop.” Maya told Richard. “For sure hindi ko na ito magagawa kaagad when I start working. I want to concentrate also on building a career with your company after the holidays.”
“Really, when exactly are you going there?” Richard asked, suddenly very interested.
“On December 27, I think, para maiwasan ko pa ang mga taong for sure, bubuhos sa Batangas Port patawid ng Mindoro for the holidays. Di ba may pasok pa sa 29, so baka hindi pa ganoon kadami ang mga pasahero sa pier.” Maya said.
“Sumabay ka na lang sa akin.” Richard offered all of a sudden.
“Ha? What do you mean?” Maya asked, surprised.
“I’m going there myself to do a periodic check of our resort there. It is due for renovations again. We usually check it every year para malaman kung ano ang mga kailangang improvements na major.” Richard hastily explained. The truth is he has not really scheduled the visit, though it was in his list of work to do. This is a very good time as any. Besides, he wants to spend more time with Maya.
“I’m taking the company chopper. That way, hindi ka na makikipagsiksikan sa Batangas Port. Saka baka marami ng umuwi at i-vacation leave na lang ang 29.” Richard added trying to convince Maya. “Mag-isa lang naman akong pasahero.”
Maya looked at Richard, then weigh in his offer. Besides, she likes the idea of spending more time with him too. “Are you sure, it will be okay? Teka, baka magsuka ako sa chopper, hindi pa ako nakakasakay noon.”
“Don’t worry, Maya, I’ll be there for you.” He assured, then teased, “I will hold the barf bag and your hand kapag nasuka ka. Then I can also pat you in the back when your tummy is heaving.”
“Ricky….” Maya said, getting self-conscious, then smiled at his teasing. “Sige ka, I will take you up on that.”
“Sure na sure, Maya Dela Rosa, crossed my heart.” Richard said, putting his hand over his heart and giving Maya a devastating smile, just to convince her. “Saka, para mapanatag ka, magaling ang pilot namin and taga-Mindoro rin.”
“Okay, sige na nga. Thank you, Ricky.” Maya said.
“Saan ka nga pala tutuloy sa Mindoro?” Richard asked.
“I think I will just look for an inn or a hotel sa San Nicolas.” Maya replied. She was planning to check online the best place to stay. “Medyo matagal na kasing nakasara iyong house namin doon. Hindi rin maasikaso nina Tita Lulu and Tito Mario nang madalas. Too much effort naman if I will ask the caretaker of the farmlands to open it up when I will only stay for several days there.”
“Why don’t you stay with me?” Richard offered.
“Stay with you?” Maya repeated, clarifying whether she had heard him correctly.
“Yes, you can also stay at Emerald’s Resort. That way, mas comfortable ka. I can also take you to San Nicolas. Hindi naman ganoon kahigpit ang schedule ko.” Richard said. “I can use one of the company cars there.”
“Ricky, too much abala na naman iyon sa iyo.” Maya protested, getting overwhelmed and touched by Richard’s offers and generousity.
“Maya, it is really okay. Saka if it is okay with you, I would like to go with you when you visit your Mamang’s grave.” Richard asked suddenly.
“Ha, you would like to?” Maya asked, wondering why Richard would want to do that. Dami nang surprises and revelations that she was experiencing that evening.
“Well, I want to ‘meet’ the most important person in your life and also to somehow thank her. Kasi kung hindi ka sumali sa beauty pageant, we will never meet!” Richard said, smiling, then looked at Maya intently, making her grab her glass of water, swallowing a gulp. Parang he was implying something na naman, she thought.
Then regaining her poise, Maya smiled and remarked. “I should thank your mother too, then, kasi kung hindi ka niya pinapunta sa pageant, our paths would have not crossed.”
Richard smiled. “You can do that the next time you see her. I’m sure Mama will be glad!” He said enigmatically.
Richard and Maya gazed at each other after that, both realizing what they have implied to each other, the messages they seemed to have been telegraphing to each other, but not really verbalizing. They smiled at each other, not breaking contact, as if they have silently communicated something to the other.
“So, are we set, Maya? We will go together to Mindoro? And you will be staying at Emerald’s?” Richard asked again, anxious for her answer.
“Okay, to everything, pati na rin sa pagbisita kay Mamang.” Maya said smiling. “Thank you in advance ha.”
“No worries, Maya. I’m happy to.” Richard said.
They stayed an hour more in the garden, drinking coffee and chatting. Maya told Richard of her plans to develop the property in Mindoro into a small beach resort. Richard offered to help. He insisted, so Maya said yes. Richard promised to give a recommendation after they have seen the beach property.
“Where are you celebrating the holidays?” Maya asked Richard when they were driving back to BGC.
“Dito lang siguro sa Maynila, with my parents and immediate family.” Richard replied. “Iyong New Year, hindi ko pa sure kasi Mama and Papa are planning to go out of the country then. Ikaw?”
“Christmas would be with my family rin. This is my first Christmas back in the Philippines after so many years so susulitin ko na. Iba pa rin talaga ang Pasko dito sa atin, di ba?” Maya said. “For New Year, I’m not sure yet din. I will ask the family what their plans are. Baka out of town trip din. Though, it would depend on Ate Cris’s condition.”
“It would be nice nga rin to get out of the city during New Year. For sure, sobrang lalakas na naman ng mga paputok kahit anong campaign ng government. Worse, the stray bullets.” Richard said.
“I agree. Dati nga pati dog namin nagtatago sa bathroom kapag malakas na ang putukan.” Maya added. “I will ask my Tita Lulu what the plan is. I will see them tomorrow. May pa-dinner sila sa akin. Celebration para sa new job ko.”
“Really, how nice of them.” Richard said as he parked in front of Maya’s building. “I think they are also very happy that you are back in the country.”
“They are, very much. Nandito na pala tayo.” Maya said when she finally noticed where they are. “Thank you for a very wonderful evening, Ricky. I’m glad we have seen each other again.”
“Thank you very much too, Maya. I had the best time this evening.” Richard said gazing at Maya in a way that makes her feel very special. “I’ll be seeing you soon. If there’s a way I can help you with anything, please just give me a call. I’m just two buildings away remember.”
“Sobrang thank you na talaga.” Maya said, giving him a smile that lit up her whole face.
“Wala iyon, Maya. Basta para sa iyo.” Richard replied, gazing at Maya. “By the way, let’s do this again soon please. Before we leave for Mindoro or before Christmas? Dinner or coffee?”
“S-sure.” Maya stammered a bit. He would like to see her again, so soon. Oh my heart, Maya thought. “Let me know when. I’m libre naman since I’m not working yet.”
“Great. Let’s just check with each other.” Richard said, then he got out of the car, went to Maya’s side and opened the door for her.
“Thank you, Ricky.” Maya said, then the two of them walked towards the elevator, chatting animatedly until they reached Maya’s unit, Maya asked Richard to come in and have coffee.
“I better get going, Maya. Thank you. I would like to go in pa sana pero baka hindi na ako makatulog kapag nag-coffee pa ulit. As it is, it would be difficult to sleep, remembering this memorable night.” Richard admitted, looking at Maya meaningfully.
Maya smiled at that. They feel the same yata talaga! Oh my, she thought. “Me too. O sige, good night na nang may maitulog pa tayo. Have a good sleep.”
“I will for sure, you too.” Richard said smiling. “Good night. Sweet dreams.”
Richard waited for Maya to open her door before he walked back the elevator. He wanted to be one hundred percent sure that she is safe, inside her unit before he leaves. He was humming happily while waiting for the elevator.
Inside her unit, Maya had a silly, giddy grin on her face, clutching her heart as she leaned against her closed front door. She just felt so happy at that moment. Several minutes later, while she was turning down her comforter, her phone beeped.
Ricky: Good night, Maya. Thank you for one of the happiest night of my life.
Maya: Thank you too Ricky for a very wonderful time. I never felt this happy in a long time. Good night.
Richard and Maya both went to bed that night with big smiles on their faces, staring mindlessly at the ceiling, remembering their wonderful evening together. Both are looking forward to their next date, errr, meeting.