“That was a lovely meal, Tita Marianne! Thank you very much. To you too, Manang Doray! “ Ethan said, smiling, after they have finished eating lunch.
“You’re welcome, Ethan.” Marianne replied, smiling at the young man who was very solicitous to her daughter all throughout the meal. She also noticed Tristan looking at the two of them often. Hmmm, what do I have here, she mused.
Marianne decided to let be. It is the kids business, anyway. “Doray, pakilabas na iyong dessert na binili natin sa bayan kanina.”
“Mom, what did you buy?” Pippa asked excitedly, hoping her mother bought her favorite rice cakes.
“Eh di ang mga paborito mong kakanin.” Marianne told her daughter. “Mabuti, naabutan pa namin ni Doray si Aling Bining. Alam mo naman kung gaano kabilis maubos ang mga tinda niyang kakanin.”
“Yes!!!” Pippa said gleefully. “Tulungan ko na si Manang Doray. Coffee, Ethan, Tris? “
“None for me, Pippa.” Tristan said. “Thank you.”
“How about you, Ethan?” Pippa asked.
“Yes, but I will go with you. I’ll make the coffee.” Ethan said, then stood up to go with Pippa to the kitchen. They smiled at each other and then disappeared through the doorway.
“Pippa, what are your plans for today?” Ethan asked.
“Just a chat with Mom, since I haven’t seen her for quite a while.” Pippa replied. “How about you?”
“Oh, I’m going to read a book by the beach. That is after I finish doing my laundry.” Ethan said.
“Bakit hindi mo na lang ipagawa kay Manang Doray iyan.” Pippa suggested. “I’m sure she wouldn’t mind.”
“Oo nga naman, Ethan. Sabi ko naman sa iyo, ilang beses na,ilagay mo na lang sa laundry room ang mga marurumi mong damit.” Manang Doray added while preparing the dessert, overhearing Pippa and Ethan’s discussion.
“Thank po, Manang Doray, Pippa. I would rather do it myself. Sobra-sobra na ng ginagawa ninyo for me, Manang Doray. Kayo ni Tita Marianne. Feeding me meals. Kaya ko naman. Remember I’m used to being on my own and doing those stuffs since unlike here, wala naman kaming kasambahay. Saka, I will just load the clothes lang naman sa washing machine, and that’s it.”
“Oh, okay then.” Pippa said. “Bahala ka. Manang Doray, ako na po ang magdadala ng dessert natin. Balik na po kayo kay Mom. Hintayin ko lang si Ethan na mag-prepare ng coffee.”
“O siya, sige Pippa. Salamat, anak.” Manang Doray said. “Dalhin ko na lang itong Coke ni Ate Marianne. Alam mo naman ang Mom mo, ito talaga ang paboritong inumin pagkatapos kumain.”
Several minutes after, Pippa and Ethan returned with coffee and desserts. Pippa served everyone.
“Thanks, Pippa. Ano pala ang plano mo after lunch?” Tristan asked, just like Ethan did.
“Hmmm, wala naman. Makikipagkwentuhan lang ako kay Mom.” Pippa replied. “Ikaw, gusto mo later puntahan natin si Belle sa resort? For sure matutuwa iyon na nandito ka.”
“Oh, sure!” Tristan replied. He was actually hoping that he and Pippa can spend time together, just the two of them. But with Belle is okay. For sure, they can find time alone since Belle will be working.
“You and Tristan can go after dessert na Pippa. We can chat naman later.” Pippa’s mom told her and Tristan.
However, before they can finalize the plans for the afternoon, Tristan’s mobile phone rang.
“Excuse me Tita Marianne, Pippa, Ethan, I just have to take this.” Tristan said as he stood up and move a little away. “Yes, Josh! What? How bad? Oh, okay, I’ll be there in 30 minutes or less.”
“What’s wrong Tris?” Pippa asked. Listening to his side of the conversation, it does seemed that something bad had happened.
“Tita Marianne, Pippa, Ethan, Manang, kailangan ko pong bumalik sa clinic. May passenger jeep po na nag-turn turtle diyan sa may dangerous curve malapit sa bayan. Puno daw po ng mga pasahero. Kailangan nila ang lahat ng doctors na available sa area.” Tristan said.
“Oh, hijo, sana naman walang grabe.” Marianne said. Se knows how bad it could get as she had her share of vehicular injuries in her stint in the hospitals in Manila and there in Puerto Galera. “Can I help?”
“Sana nga po, Tita Marianne. Okay na po, we can manage. Thank you. Nasa clinic naman sina Susan and Marita.” Tristan said, referring to their two nurses.“Sige po, bibiyahe na ako. Iwan ko na lang ang mga gamit ko, though not sure what time ako makakabalik. Bye sa inyong lahat.”
“Bye Tris, ingat.” Pippa said.
“Let us know if we could be of help.” Ethan said. “I hope the situation is not so bad.”
“Okay, just be back kung kailan ka libre and let us know kung ano ang development kapag hindi na kayo busy nina Josh.” Marianne said. “Ingat ka Tristan.”
“Doc Tristam, pasabi ka lang kung pabalik na ka na ha, para maipaghanda kita ng food.” Manang Doray added. “Isama mo na rin si Doc Josh.”
Tristan then drove off, leaving Pippa and Ethan at the dining table, with Mommy Marianne and Manang Doray.
“I hope no one dies. Saka hindi grabe ang injuries ng mga pasahero at nung driver.” Pippa remarked. She is not very good at dealing with dying, having to deal with the death of the father she adored, five years ago. It was still painful to remember even if her father died saving people.
Doc Tommy died saving two kids when the boat he took one December morning developed engine trouble, then pummelled by strong waves capsized, while on the way to Batangas. He was hit on the head by the boat’s broken outrigger. A wave suddenly hit the boat after he managed to put the kids into the other boat that was trying to help the passengers of the capsized boat.
Ethan seeing Pippa’s expression also got silent. His circumstance is different, but her statement made him remember seeing Claudia on their bed, with an empty bottle of sleeping pills beside her. He rushed her to the hospital but she was pronounced dead. He vaguely remember how he managed to bring her there. It turned out, she had been dead for a while, even before he arrived home that evening. He found out that she was pregnant when she committed suicide.
Marianne broke into the thoughts she was not aware of that her daughter and her guest were having. “So, what are your plans this afternoon na, Pippa, Ethan, now that Tris is not here?”
“I will just do my laundry and read by the beach, Tita Marianne.” Ethan replied, still shaking off the bad memory.
“Ethan, di ba sabi ko naman sa iyo ilagay mo na lang iyong marurumi mong damit mo diyan sa laundry room. Doray can take care of it.” Marianne told their guests.
“Many thanks, Tita Marianne I can do it naman. I owe you a lot already. Speaking of which, since I have stayed more than I should have, I would like to pay please for the stay in the cottage and the food.” Ethan offered. For him it is the least he could do for this very nice lady. Besides he is used to paying his way and being independent.
“That I will not hear of, anymore, Ethan and that’s final. You can stay as long as you want. Bisita ka namin. It is the least I could do for your mother, who have been the most wonderful person to me when we were in college.” Marianne told her friend’s son firmly. “Saka, you are doing all the guy’s work na nga dito sa bahay and that is enough. Okay? No more talk about paying.”
“Oo nga naman, Ethan, masanay ka na dito sa Pilipinas, lalo na kay Mom.” Pippa added. “Just enjoy your vacation. Stay as long as you want. Mas kampante nga ako na nandito ka kasi may kasama na sina Mom and Manang Doray. Para hindi rin ako nag-aalala pagbalik ko sa Maynila.”
“Okay, thank you so much, Tita Marianne and Pippa.” Ethan said, smiling. “Are you going back to Manila soon, Pippa?”
“Hmmmm, I’m not sure yet. I’m in between projects at the moment. Speaking of which, I need to call my production manager to ask if I can start with the new one next week, so I’ll have several more days here.” Pippa said.
“Okay, I’ll see you later then?” Ethan said. “Join me at the beach?”
“Sure. See you, around 4 o’clock? Would that be okay?” Pippa asked.
“Lovely! See you Pippa. Tita Marianne, I’m off with the laundry. Many thanks again.” Ethan said, then gave Pippa’s mom a kiss on the cheek.
“See you, Ethan.” Marianne said smiling, and getting more and more curious at how close really Ethan and her daughter has become.
Ethan left, leaving Marianne and Pippa alone at the table, as Manang Doray also excused herself to go to the kitchen and start washing dishes.
“Mukhang magkasundong-magkasundo kaagad kayo ni Ethan, ah.” Marianne remarked to her daughter while sipping her Coke.
“Yes, Mom! Ethan is fun and a wonderful guy. Magaan ang loob ko kaagad sa kanya.” Pippa said. “Napagkamalan ko nga siyang magnanakaw kagabi kasi may nakita akong ilaw sa kitchen. Eh ang alam ko mag-isa ako dito.”
“Hahahaha, really Pippa! Hindi na kasi tayo masyadong nakapag-usap kahapon. I forgot to tell you na dito kumakain si Ethan. Binilin kasi sa akin iyan ng Mommy niya.” Marianne said.
Her friend Virgie didn’t tell her the whole story behind Ethan leaving his job and taking a trip to Asia six months ago, just to ask her if he could stay with her for a while. Virgie has mentioned to her son about Marianne and her resort in Mindoro so Ethan was planning to go there, she said, after his trips to Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia. Virgie just mentioned that Ethan is going through something rough. Marianne didn’t ask for details anymore, just assured her friend that she will take care of her son.
“Binilin po sa inyo ni Tita Virgie si Ethan? Bakit po?” Pippa asked, wanting to know, and maybe it has something to do with Ethan having nightmares about his dead girlfriend. Though on second thought, it is Ethan’s business and his story to tell, maybe when he is ready. “Oh, never mind, Mom, basta let him stay as long as he wants.”
“Oo naman. I like having him around too. Para akong nagkaanak ng lalaki.” Marianne said. “Mabait na bata naman iyang si Ethan. Masipag pa. O bakit ka nga pala napauwi anak? I’m glad to see you but I think there is a reason why you are home all of a sudden.”
“Mom, di ba pwedeng, I missed you lang.” Pippa said, buying time, though she knows her Mom’s question is coming.
“I know you anak! Sabihin mo na at baka makatulong ako.” Marianne said. “May problema ka ba, Pippa?”
“Mom, ikaw talaga, you know me so well.” Pippa said, sipping her coffee and taking a deep breath. “Mom, wala na po kami ni Martin.” Pippa blurted out, maybe it is better to do this in one tell so she can move on.
“Oh! What happened, anak?” Marianne asked. Though she was not so surprised. The two times she had met Martin when she was in Manila, visiting Pippa and buying supplies for the resort, there was something about Pippa’s young man that rubbed her wrong. She didn’t say anything to her daughter because it is her life. Ayaw naman niyang makialam.
“The other night po. Mom, I caught him with another girl in his apartment. They were obviously doing more than talking in his bedroom. Yayain ko lang sana siyang mag-dinner kasi I was feeling guilty na hindi ko siya masyadong naasikaso lately dahil sa work.” Pippa gave her mother the condense version of what happened. She does not one to dwell on the whole ugly incident.
“Oh anak!” Marianne said and then went to her daughter and hugged her. She must be hurting a lot.
“Okay lang ako, Mom. I’m dealing with it. Alam naman po ni Martin na iyan ang hindi ko kayang i-tolerate sa isang relationship, him cheating on me.” Pippa said. “Huwag po kayong mag-aalala, I will recover. Wala naman yatang namatay sa broken heart.”
“Pippa, anak, I never said anything when you introduced him to me, pero broken heart nga ba? Do you love him with all your heart to the exclusion of everything? Look deep inside you.” Marianne told her daughter gently. Call it mother’s intuition, but maybe, Martin is not really the one for her daughter. She feels so.
“You know, Mom. I thought of that also on the way to Batangas from Manila and while waiting for the first boat to Puerto sa pier kahapon ng umaga. Bigla na lang kasi akong nag-alsa balutan after I found him out. Hindi ko lang masyadong ma-process dahil sa galit and hurt, magulo ang mind ko, pero kagabi bago ako natulog, naisip ko na rin iyan.” Pippa said. “It was hard lang talaga taking in betrayal of our love.”
Then continued, “You have a point din with your question naman, Mom. Siguro I have loved him in my own way, but naitanong ko rin sa sarili ko na is that the kind of love that lasts? Parang hindi naman kasi dahil bakit nagkaganoon. Tapos what I feel at the moment was more of the hurt at his betrayal. There is a part of me rin that was disappointed kasi I fell for the wrong person again. Bakit hindi ko nakita iyon when I said yes to loving him. Paano ko ba talaga malalaman kung iyon na iyon? The great love of my life, I mean?”
“Pippa anak, you will know.” Marianne said with a smile. “Kung hindi ka sure na si Martin iyon, then when the time comes, you will know. Iyon naman kay Gerard, college ka pa noon, maybe too young to know love really. Sometimes talaga, you have to search among several frogs to find your prince.”
“Mom, ikinumpara mo pa sina Martin at Gerard sa frogs, hahahaha.” Pippa said smiling. “But I do get your point. You know what, I’m off relationship at the moment. Pero don’t worry, I’m not closing my heart or turning bitter or cynical, I just want to be sure next time. When I love again, I want to be sure that he is the one for me. Sabi mo nga, prince na at hindi na frog, hahahaha.”
“That’s the spirit anak!” Marianne told her daughter. “Sometimes, love comes knocking when you are not looking and when you are not expecting it.” She added meaningfully. “The important thing is when it does, be sure of what you feel. Also, you will know. Tell me when it happens and tell me if I’m wrong.”
“Thank you, Mom. Kayo ni Daddy, di ba you hit right off when you met at the hospital kung saan siya doctor at newly-hired nurse ka?” Pippa said. She never gets tired of hearing her parents’ love story.
Marianne smiled remembering meeting her husband, the great love of her life, at a time when love was the last thing in her mind also.
Mother and daughter talked the whole afternoon, until Pippa noticed the time.
“Oh, Mom, we have been talking for a while! Hindi ko namalayan ang oras. I promised to meet Ethan at the beach at 4PM. Mag-aalas kwatro na pala.” Pippa said. “I need to change pa. I think I have left a swimsuit here.”
“Go ahead, anak.” Marianne said. “We can chat again later. I need to talk to Doray also about dinner. Hindi pa rin tumatawag si Tris ah, baka kaya maraming injured.”
“I hope not, Mom. Baka busy lang ng husto.” Pippa assured her mother. “Sige po, aakyat lang ako sa room ko.”
Marianne watched her daughter’s departing figure, took a sip of her lukewarm Coke, and smiled. She had a feeling that her daughter will find the kind of love she had been wishing for and unable to find, soon.