Maya woke up early the following morning despite the late night she had. At first, she was surprised to find herself still in her office clothes, but then the wonderful things that had happened the night before came flooding back. She had a huge grin when she got out of bed. Boyfriend! Richard is her boyfriend now! Lord, kung nananaginip lang ako, ayoko ng magising! She touched her lips, remembering the searing kisses and more, that she and Richard shared the night before.
The ringing of her mobile phone interrupted Maya’s beautiful reminiscing. At first, she can’t remember where she had left it. Then she realized that the sound was coming from the living room, where she had left her bag, with the phone in it, when she and Richard arrived at her apartment last night. Good thing, that phone is programmed to ring on full volume if it is inside a bag or a pocket!
She fished out her phone from the bag, and saw that it was her mother calling her. “Hello po, ‘Nay! Good morning!!! Kumusta naman ang pinakamaganda kong nanay ngayong umaga!” Maya greeted her mother cheerfully, happy to hear from her. She had been meaning to give her a call that weekend.
“Maya, anak, parang ang ganda ng gising mo ngayong umaga ah!” Teresita Dela Rosa told her daughter while gesturing to Chona, her helper, to serve the tapsilog and longsilog that two of their regular customers ordered. As usual, Cristina’s, the eatery that Maya and her had name after Cristina Rose was doing a brisk business that Saturday morning. They really need to expand the place to accommodate their growing number of customers.
“Magandang-maganda po talaga, ‘Nay! I had the best night po kasi last night!!! Nayyy, sobrang saya ko po ngayon. Para pa rin akong lumulutang sa saya!” Maya said, grinning happily, while getting a glass of water from the fridge, then taking a sip.
“Hmmm, parang feeling ko in love na ang anak ko!” Teresita Dela Rosa said all of a sudden. Iyon ang una niyang naisip nang marinig ang boses ng anak niya na parang may kakaiba talaga.
“‘Nay, paano ninyo naman po nasabi iyan?” Maya asked her mother, surprised at her statement. She thought her mother would just ask about her job since the last time they talked was the night before she started working for RRMA. It had completely skipped her mind to call her mother after her first day at work and the days after that!
“Para kasing may iba sa boses mo ‘nak!” Maya’s mother told her. “Tama ba ako, Maya? In love ka at may boyfriend ka na, sa wakas!”
“Errrr, ‘Nay, opo. Kagabi lang po.” Maya admitted, then teased her mother. “Daig mo pa si Madam Auring ‘Nay ah. Nahulaan mo agad with matching call pa sa akin ngayong umaga! Ano pa po ‘Nay ang nakita mo sa bolang kristal mo?” She teased her mother.
“Hahahaha, ikaw talagang bata ka! Mas maganda naman akong di hamak kay Madam!” Teresita Dela Rosa bantered. “Siyempre, Nanay mo ako kaya kabisado kita. So, sino naman itong magiging manugang ko? Sa wakas magkakaapo na rin ako! Imagine, ngayon ka pa lang nagka-boyfriend eh malapit ka nang mag-trenta.”
“Nanay naman, advance na advance, kasasagot ko pa nga lang po kay Ricky. Saka Mother, ilang taon pa kaya bago ako mag-30!” Maya said. “Nanay, I’m so happy. I’m sure kapag nakilala mo si Ricky magugustuhan mo rin siya ng husto. He is the best boyfriend in the world!!!”
“I’m sure I will. Maya. I trust your judgment, anak. Sa tinatagal-tagal mo ba naman bago nag-boyfriend, sigurado naman ako na hindi ka pipili ng basta-basta.” Nanay Teresita said. “Saan mo naman nakilala pala si Ricky, anak? Parang wala ka namang nakwento sa akin tungkol sa kanya before. Sa law school?”
“Nanay, actually, I have mentioned him before, pero hindi by name. Remember, noong isang beses na ginunita natin iyong death anniversary ni Ate Cris and the two of us spent the morning sa puntod niya, noong nasa law school na ako, and the one and only time you asked me about a boyfriend?” Maya asked, trying to jog back her mother’s memory to that particular moment.
“Hmmmm, parang naalala ko iyan. Mga 5 years ago? Noong ika-limang death anniversary ng kapatid mo? Iyong huling punta natin sa sementeryo na nagtagal nga tayo ng buong umaga.” Teresita said. “Wait, I think I remember that! I asked you kung wala ka pang boyfriend eh 22 years old ka na, turning on 23! Kasi naman noon ni crush wala akong narinig mula sa iyo simula nang magdalaga ka.”
While remembering thhe good times with her Ate Cris and all the things they wanted to do when she returns to the Philippines after her contract in Dubai is finished, which of course, was not realized anymore, Maya and her mother got into talking how fleeting life is, and that it could be gone in a snap. Hindi mo talaga masabi, they both agreed.
Teresita told Maya that one thing she had learned after Cris died is that life is too short for regrets, for fearing the unknown, for living in fear, and for not taking chances, for setting aside what you can do today, thinking that there is still tomorrow or there is still plenty of time to do the things you want to do, when in fact hindi natin alam talaga if we will still wake up the next morning!
She told her daughter to treasure every moment, and not to shy away from opportunities coming her way, but enjoy life at the same time. She told Maya to live, really live. She told Maya that it includes falling in love, the headiest and most wonderful of emotions, but she must also choose wisely. Maya asked her how would she know if she had chosen the right person. Teresita Dela Rosa assured Maya that she would know when the time comes. Maya admitted to her mother then, that she might have already found the one person she wanted to share her life with, but he disappeared from her life all of a sudden before she can truly find out, and that she had tried to look for him in the other guys she had met, but her heart only beat for that person.
Teresita Dela Rosa, seeing her daughter’s pensive mood while telling her this, and the way her eyes lit up when she spoke of the guy she had fallen in love with, took hold of her hand then told her that if he is really her destiny, then fate will find a way to make them meet again in the future, that some people no matter what the distance and the circumstances are, are just destined to be together, and that love always finds a way! Di ba anak, she told Maya, minsan meron ngang mga tao na hindi mo iniisip na magkikita or magkakakilala dahil sa layo ng kanilang estado sa buhay, magkaibang-magkaiba ng pananaw sa buhay, or magkaiba ng lahi, pero nagkikita, nagkakatagpo and they fell in love. Or kung minsan, may lovers na maraming taong nagkahiwalay, nagkaroon ng sari-sariling buhay at pamilya, pero sa huli, sila pa rin ang magkasama hanggang sa pagtanda nila. Love moves in mysterious ways, di ba, sabi nga ng kasabihan, was her last words to her daughter on the subject.
“Nanay, naalala niyo po iyong lalaki na sinasabi ko sa inyo during that conversation?” Maya asked her mother. “Si Richard Lim, si Ricky po iyon! Siya po ang boyfriend ko simula pa po kagabi.”
“Talaga, anak! Paanong nangyari?” Teresita Dela Rosa asked, surprised, but at the same time, she felt very happy with this development in her daughter’s life.
Maya told her mother how she and Richard met again at the law office where she works and how she ended getting assigned to his account. She also told her mother how she and Richard had picked up from where they left off ten years ago! Maya told her mother din how she and Richard met ten years ago, how his family left the country abruptly, but not the reason for it, and that it happened at the same time they were dealing with the untimely death of her Ate Cris.
“See, anak, tama ang sabi ko sa iyo noon! Kapag kayo talaga, pagtatagpuin at pagtatagpuin ulit kayo ng tadhana!” Nanay Teresita told Maya after she finished telling her a condensed version of hers and Richard’s love story. “I’m happy for you, Maya. I know some people might frown at the speed of your courtship, but I know you anak, hindi ka naman papasok sa hindi mo sigurado, lalo pa at kasama na rin sa pagmamahal mo diyan kay Richard ang pagmamahal sa kanyang anak.”
“Maraming salamat po, Nay! Sobrang saya ko po. Nang makita ko pa lang ulit si Richard, ramdam na ramdam ko na hindi nagbago ang pagtingin ko sa kanya. Nasigurado ko po iyon ng husto nitong nakalipas na araw kahit sandali pa lang po ulit kaming nagkikita. I feel it in my heart, in my soul.” Maya said, conviction and happiness evident in her voice. “Saka po si Abby, kahit isang beses ko pa lang po siyang nakita, mahal ko na po siya at alam ko po na mahalagang parte siya ng buhay ni Ricky. Tanggap ko rin po na widower siya. Naging open naman po sa akin si Ricky tungkol sa naging buhay niya the past ten years. ”
“Natutuwa naman ako sa iyo, Maya. Napalaki talaga kita ng tama. I’m sure kung nabubuhay ang ate mo, tuwang-tuwa rin iyon.” Nanay Teresita told her youngest. “O basta, the first opportunity, gusto kong makilala ng personal iyang nobyo mo. Base sa kwento mo, mukha namang mabuti siyang tao and that you are very lucky that you two found each other again. Hindi nangyayari iyan sa lahat ng tao!”
“Opo, ‘Nay. Kapag may pagkakataon po, and maayos na ang work ko, uuwi po ako diyan sa atin at titingnan ko po kung maisasama ko si Ricky.” Maya assured her mother. She really want to introduce Richard to her mother.
“O sige, asahan ko iyan ha, anak. Mas may linaw iyan kaysa ang pagpunta ko ng Maynila. Hindi ko maiwan itong Cristina’s eh.” Nanay Teresita said. The two of them have talked before of her mother spending a week or so again with Maya in Manila, but unable to have it scheduled because of the eatery and its demands on Maya’s mother time.
“Hindi pa po ba kayo nakakahanap ng magma-manage ng Cristina’s diyan sa San Nicolas? Kumusta na po iyong plano ninyo na magtayo ng branch sa Poblador?” Maya asked. The small restaurant, which had started as a carinderia became a popular eating place not only with the residents of San Nicolas but also those in neighboring towns, as well as the tourists that flock to the beaches of Mindoro, especially during the summer season, since a year ago. A popular food magazine has included it in the list of the things one should do and try while on vacation in Mindoro, making special mention of the kare-kare that Teresita Dela Rosa still personally prepares among the equally delicious dishes that Cristina’s offer. Na-feature rin ang Cristina’s sa isang magazine program sa TV recently. So, because of this, mas dumami pa ang mga customer nila. At times they have a hard time dealing with the influx of customers. They really need someone to manage Cristina’s and also to build a branch in neighboring Poblador para sa mga nakatira roon and to expand na rin now that they can.
“Meron na, Maya. Iyong pinsan mo na si Melinda. Di ba kaka-graduate lang niya ng HRM nitong nakaraang Abril? Ayaw niyang diyan sa Maynila magtrabaho, mas gusto niya raw dito sa atin mag-base.” Teresita said. “Nagpunta sila rito sa atin kagabi ni Kuya Rollie tungkol diyan. Magsisimula nga siya ngayon. Hinihintay ko lang. Dito ko na nga rin sa bahay natin pinatitira para hindi na siya bumiyahe pa at saka maige rin iyon, may kasama ako sa bahay.”
“Ganoon po ba, Nay? I’m happy naman na finally, may kasama na kayo.” Maya said. “Sure na sure po ako na in good hands kayo diyan kay Melinda. Masipag na, matalino pa at saka responsable. Kampante na ako. Naiisip ko nga po na baka nahihirapan na kayo. I will tell you nga sana to slow down na kasi lawyer na ang anak niyo at ako na ang bahala sa inyo”
“Naku, Maya, huwag mo akong intindihin. Okay lang naman ako. Alam mo naman na mas gusto ko itong busy ako. Asikasuhin mo na lang ang sarili mo. Ngayon lang naman sa buong buhay mo diyan na iisa na lang ang ginagawa mo. Mahigit sampung taon mo rin namang pinagsabay ang pag-aaral at pagtatrabaho. Enjoy your life, lalo na ngayon na may boyfriend ka na.” Teresita told her daughter. “Kumusta nga pala ang trabaho mo? Hindi na tayo nakapag-usap simula noong Linggo.”
“Oo nga po ‘Nay. Pasensya na kayo, hindi ko na kayo natawagan pa. Meeting Ricky again turned my world upside down in a very nice way. Tapos po, nag-babysit pa ako kay Doris.” Maya explained. “Okay na okay naman po ang work ko Nanay. Maganda po iyong law firm na napasukan ko. I like the partners, lalo na po iyong senior partner na si Atty. Rafael Reyes, parang grandfatherly, and then iyong senior kung saan ako naka-assign, si Attorney Ryan na nagkataon nga na friend pala ni Ricky since college.”
“Mabuti naman. Good choice nga na diyan ka na lang napasok. Imagine, nakita mo pa ulit ang prince charming mo.” Nanay Teresita said smiling. “Nakakakilig nga ang love story mo anak!”
“Nay, talaga!” Maya said, smiling.
“Pero Maya, aminin mo, parang pang-teleserye ang love story ninyo ni Richard. O kaya naman parang movie ng Star Cinema. Iyon bang mga rom-com anak.” Nanay Teresita said. “O kaya para ba ‘anak na sa mga pocketbook na binabasa mo ng walang bitawan hanggang madaling-araw!”
“Hahahaha, Nay, ikaw talaga, sobrang hilig sa mga romance movie.” Maya said. “Sa iyo ko yata talaga namana ang pagkahilig sa romance stories.”
“Dapat lang. Bakit nga ba hindi, parang pang-pelikula rin naman ang love story namin ng Tatay mo.” Nanay Teresita retorted, smiling, remembering her beloved husband.
‘Nay, alam ko po na si Tatay ang love of your life, pero hindi po ba kayo nakaisip na mag-asawa ulit? Di ba po, nanliligaw sa inyo si Tito Fernando? Hindi nga sumusuko eh!” Doris’ father, a widower, started courting her mother when Maya has just started law school.
“Hay naku, Maya, friends lang talaga kami niyang si Fernando, kahit ano pa ang tukso niyo ni Doris at kagustuhan ninyong magkaibigan na maging magkapatid.” Teresita said. “One man woman yata talaga ang mga Dela Paz women! Tingnan mo si Nanay, ako, and now ikaw. Wala nang ibang nagpatibok sa puso ko kundi ang Tatay mo. Iyon nga lang maaga siyang kinuha sa atin. Tama na ako roon. Hindi na iyon natutumbasan ng iba pa.”
“Well, tama ka naman po diyan ‘Nay. Now, I understand completely. Ganyan din po ako kay Ricky. I will not love another.” Maya said, thinking na wala rin talagang ibang nagpatibok ng puso niya, kundi si Richard. Ganoon din ang Mamang niya, her grandmother Conchita, hindi na nag-asawa pa kahit medyo bata pa nang mabiyuda, mga 50s pa lang siya noon.
Maya’s parents met at the airport in San Nicolas. Nagkapalit sila ng mga bagahe sa pagmamadali. Dayo lang doon sa lugar na iyon si Arturo Dela Rosa. Magbabakasyon sana kasama ng kaibigan niyang si Fernando na taga-San Nicolas, habang si Teresita Dela Paz naman, pauwi noon ng Mindoro dahil semestral break sa college. That incident started a beautiful friendship and an equally nakakakilig na ligawan. Nang magpakasal sila, Arturo, who was originally from Baguio moved to San Nicolas with Teresita, para raw hindi siya malayo sa pamilya niya. Her mother worked at first, but opted to be a stay at home mother when Cristina Rose and Maya were born. Bumalik lang siya sa pagtatrabaho sa kapitolyo nang mabiyuda siya.
“O maiba ako, Maya. Kumusta na si Doris and si Lance? Basta kung may time ka tulong-tulungan mo na lang ang kaibigan mong iyon.” Nanay Teresita said. Parang anak na rin ang turing niya kay Doris and si Lance, parang apo na niya.
“Opo, Nay. Maayos naman po sila ni Lance. Magkikita kami bukas kasi kasama namin sila nina Richard and Abby na pupunta sa Tagaytay. Ipapasyal po namin ang mga bata. I forgot to mention earlier na nagkataon na magkaklase sina Lance at Abby sa progressive school na malapit dito sa Mirasol Street.”
“That’s nice to know, Maya. Maganda iyon at ng makapag-bonding kayo, kasama ng anak ni Richard. Ikumusta na mo na lang ako kay Doris at ihalik kay Lance.” Nanay Teresita said. “O sige, tawagan na lang tayo ulit ‘nak. Nandito na pala si Melinda. Kailangan ko siyang bilinan siya ng mga gagawin bago ako pumunta sa Poblador.”
“Sige po, Nanay. I love you very much.” Maya said.
“I love you din, anak. Be happy. Good luck sa trabaho mo ha.” Nanay Teresita said. “Mag-iingat ka parati and huwag mong pababayaan ang sarili mo.” She added before ending the call.
Maya suddenly realized, with that phone call, one of the longest she had with her mother, that she misses her very much. Maybe, she should go home the soonest possible time she has kahit na weekend lang. Baka sa next long weekend, she could, Maya mused.
Maya put her phone down by the coffee table in the living room and was about to go back to her room to take a bath and do her morning rituals when the doorbell rang.
“Sino kaya ito, ang aga naman!” Maya muttered to herself. “Baka si Edselyn, naubusan na naman ng coffee. Her next door neighbor and friend, a flight attendant at Time Airways always runs out of stuffs. Hindi na kasi nito maasikasong mag-grocery because of her irregular schedule.
But it was not Eds at the door, but a very handsome Richard Lim in a pale blue shirt and jeans that hugged his muscular body, with a lopsided loving smile for Maya, and in his hand was a big bouquet of tulips and sunflower and a big paper bag.
“Good morning, sweetheart! I brought you breakfast.” He said with a big smile, showing her the big bag he was holding.
“Ricky!!!” Maya said, very, very surprised to see him bright and early! “Good morning! I thought maglilipat kayo this morning?”
“Maaga pa naman. May dala na akong ibang gamit, then babalikan ko na lang sina Abby and Manang Fe in a while. I just want to have breakfast first with my beautiful girlfriend.” He gave her another charming smile, then moved to lower his lips to hers.
“Sweetheart, wait! Hindi pa ako nagto-toothbrush man lang.” Maya said self-consciously, putting her hands over her mouth. “More than 24 hours ko nga ring suot itong damit na ito!”
“I don’t care, sweetheart.” Richard smiling, then gave Maya a quick kiss. “Did I wake you up pala? Kagigising mo lang?”
“No. Kanina pa ako gising. Surprisingly, I woke up early. Sorry pala at tinulugan kita. Thank you for putting me to bed.” Maya said, realizing then that Richard carried her to bed. “Nabigatan ka ba ng husto sa akin?”
“Hmmmm, what’s the safest answer to that sweetheart? Slight?” He teased, then laughed. Maya laughed with him. “Kayang-kaya ka pa naman nitong muscles ko, sweetheart.”
“Mukha naman, sweetheart.” Maya bantered back, then said, “Tumawag kasi si Nanay noong papunta na ako sa banyo. Medyo napahaba ang kwentuhan namin. Katatapos lang naming mag-usap nang mag-doorbell ka.”
“Oh really! Kumusta na ang nanay mo?” Richard asked. “I hope I can finally meet her soon. Ano pala ang sabi mo sa kanya? Sinabi mo na ang tungkol sa atin?”
“Yes, I did. She wants to meet you too. I told her about us after she blurted out pagkabati ko na siguro raw may boyfriend na ako.” Maya said, then smiled. “In fairness sa nanay ko, malakas ang radar. Imagine, she guessed na in love daw ako, after I answered her call. I told her that yes I do, that I have a boyfriend, and I’m in love with a very wonderful guy.” Maya said while affectionately pinching Richard’s cheek.
Richard smiled at that. Happy to know that Maya’s mother know about them. “I’m glad you told her, sweetheart. When are you planning to go and visit her?”
“Hmmm, I’m not yet sure. Pero after our phone call, bigla ko siyang na-miss ng todo. The last time kasi na nagkita kami noon pang nag-oathtaking kaming mga bagong lawyer. I’m planning to go to San Nicolas sa next long weekend.” Maya replied. “By the way, have a seat, Ricky and thank you for these beautiful flowers and the breakfast.”
“Really, you will? Okay lang ba kung sumama ako sa iyo?” Richard asked. “Ten years in the making na rin ang meeting namin ng nanay mo. I would like to finally meet the lady who gave birth to my beautiful and very loving girlfriend.” Richard said, gazing with Maya with so much love.
“Talaga, sasama ka sa akin? Sure! Sigurado ako matutuwa si Nanay noon. Saka para makita mo rin kung saan ako lumaki.” Maya said.
“Okay, just let me know when so I can clear my schedule rin.” Richard said. “Thanks a lot Maya. I’m really looking forward to meeting your mother. Halika na kain na tayo!”
“Oh, is it okay if I take a shower first?” Maya asked. “I can get you coffee muna.”
“Sure, sweetheart. No need to get me coffee. I got us coffee. Ako na ang bahala rito. Go take your shower.” Richard offered.
“Thank you, sweetheart. I will be back in a jiffy.” Maya said.
Maya went back to her room, while Richard proceeded to the kitchen and started setting the table. Thirty minutes after, Maya returned, wearing a floral skirt and a white sleeveless top.
“You look lovely, sweetheart.” Richard told Maya when he saw her walking towards him. This is the first time he had seen her again in casual clothes. ” Ready na ang food natin. I hope you will like it.” For breakfast, Richard got them tapsilog, and some fruits, with a big thermos of coffee.
“Wow, looks masarap, sweetheart. Thank you for setting the table.” Maya sat on the seat that Richard pulled for her.
The two of them chatted about the trip to Mindoro while eating, as well Richard and Abby’s move to the big house.
“What’s Abby’s favorite food, Ricky?” Maya asked as they were sipping coffee.
“Spaghetti! Kahit yata araw-araw, hindi nagsasawa doon si Abby.” Richard replied.
“Okay, I’ll bring that when I drop by your house later.” Maya said.
“Sweetheart, you don’t have to. Pahinga ka na lang today, ito na nga lang ang pahinga mo.” Richard said.
“Sweetheart, I want to, please. It is the least I could do to help you out, bring merienda.” Maya insisted. “Besides, Mr. Lim, hindi mo pa natitikman ang spaghetti ko.” She added, smiling.
“Okay, sweetheart, you are the boss. I’m sure, Abby and I will like it.” Richard said. “Thank you, Maya. I have the best girlfriend in the world.” He then took Maya’s hand and kissed it. “I love you very much.”
“I love you very much too, Ricky!” Maya replied, looking at Richard with a big smile.
She will never get tired of hearing those words from him, and her, saying to him. They shared a deep look, and before they realized it, they moved their heads, angling for the sweet kiss they shared, initially, followed by a searing one, then another. They broke up grinning goofily, with faces flushed.
Richard helped Maya with the dishes despite her insistence that she can do it herself. After their second cups of coffee, Richard told Maya that he needed to get going dahil idadaan pa niya sa big house ang mga dala niyang gamit.
“I’ll see you later, sweetheart.” Richard said softly, reluctant to let go of Maya’s hand while they were at the door of her apartment. He wished he could just spend the whole morning, cuddling with Maya.
“See you sweetheart.” Maya replied, gazing at Richard’s handsome face. “Thank you for the wonderful Saturday morning treat.”
They shared another kiss before parting for the morning, looking forward to seeing each other again, and spending the evening together. In several hours, they will live in the same street again!