Archive for July, 2015

Beyond Forever – Chapter 2

Chapter 2

June 20, 1966

It has been a year today, since I last saw her beautiful face – the face that still haunts my dreams, occupies my thoughts, and inhabits my soul. My one and only love, and I had to let her go! I had nothing to offer her. I already belong to someone else when we met. My head tells me that we did the right thing, but it didn’t lessen the pain in my heart, parting with her after our beautiful time together. 

I felt like my heart was wrenched from my body when I saw her getting into the car to be as far away from me as possible, as the two of us cannot be. I felt like I have died a thousand times as I watched her walked away from me forever. I thought I will not survive. I got physically sick after I have returned to Manila two days after she left me. My family thought I caught something in Ilocos. My wife Alexandra called the family doctor, but he, too, was puzzled at what ailed me. They never knew, they never realized that what ailed me cannot be cured by medicine, by science. I was heartsick! I stayed like that for a week, too weak to move, wanting to die, unaware of what was happening around me, except this intense pain in my heart. Then I picked myself up after my five-year old son, hugged me as I laid in my bed, whispering to me to please get well soon. She wouldn’t want to see me like that also. I do have responsibilities and duties to my family. They never knew. One week after we parted, I forced myself to put up a brave front, a facade, hiding to people around me the hell I was living without her. But the loneliness comes in when I am alone or when I am about to close my eyes for the night, wondering how is she. Does she thinks about me too? Does she remembers our time together? I hope she is faring much better. I don’t want her to be heartsick too.   

Days, weeks, months passed with me going through the motion, alive but not living! And now a year it is since parted, but I missed her with all my being, especially so today, the missing is so acute, wondering if she is okay, my love for her as strong as when the first time I realized that I love her with all of me. Is she happy with her husband? Yes, I have heard that the one and only woman I love, Maria Eulalia Dela Rosa, my beautiful and talented Maya, has gotten married to her fiance, Jaime Ventura early this month. Seeing the pictures of the society wedding in the copies of the Philippine newspapers that Papa insisted on having even if we are living here in America, was like putting a serrated knife to my still bleeding heart. 

This morning, when I woke, knowing what the date is, the first thing I thought was her and our parting. I felt like I wanted to die. I felt like my head will explode. I needed to do something to let out all that I feel or else, I would just probably fell and have a heart attack at a very young age! If that happens, it would mean leaving my wife Alexandra a young widow and my son Richard, ‘Richie’, a fatherless boy, at his very young age. They were innocent in this. Sandra does not know, does not have an inkling that someone else owns my heart. Whilst ours was not a love match, she had been a good wife to me. If I can’t love her the way she wanted or needed to be love, the least I could do is to be faithful to her and be with her as I have promised to do so when we entered into this marriage instigated by our parents. There is also Richie to think of. The boy is growing up fast and he looks like my miniature.  

I got out of bed with a heavy heart. I went straight to my office at home. I can’t go to work today, knowing my mind and heart will not be there. I saw this blank journal, a gift from Rafaela. She is not only the cousin I am closest to, she is also a very dear friend to me. I think, she has an inkling that something ails me, seriously. She told me softly and cryptically, that maybe, one day, it will help me deal with everything, when she gave me that journal last Christmas. She caught me staring into space several times. Rafaela also knew that I secretly wanted to be a writer. That had I not been saddled with running the family business, I would have preferred to be a writer!  Running the business, which Papa was grooming me since I was young, was not really what I wanted, but he vehemently objected the one and only time I have brought up to him that I wanted to be like Nick Joaquin, F. Sionil Jose, Francisco Arcellena, N.V.M Gonzales or Jose Garcia Villa! He told me, it was not for me as my duty is with my family, being his only son!

So, here I am, hoping to ease my pain by writing about her, and remembering our wonderful time together instead of the sorrow of our parting. Would it really be cathartic if I do so? Would I will be able to handle the onslaught of emotions once I started putting into paper, making it tangible, that wonderful time with her? I hope so. I want to try to keep me sane. Maybe, I should just think that I can look again at this journal when I’m old and gray, and the memory is fading, and remember that once in my life, I have loved with all of my being, starting that beautiful June afternoon.  

I went to Ilocos  to check on the house my father had built at the beach property he bought several years ago. Papa said that the workers have finished the house and I should check if everything is okay. He insisted on it and if something gets into his head, he will not stop asking me about it until I have done what he wanted. But truth be told, I jumped at the chance as I have been feeling restless before that. I had what everyone will call the perfect life – a thriving business, a beautiful and wonderful wife whom while I don’t love, but respects very much, an intelligent and sweet son, and yet there is an empty space inside me that yearns to be filled with what, I didn’t know! Forgive me for sounding ungrateful with all the blessings I have, but I was bored with everything, with the sameness of things, and how perfect my life seemed to be. I was living, but I don’t feel much!  Even so, I never thought, I never had an inkling, that my life would change drastically by taking that plane to a place I never thought of going. That by doing another of the things Papa told me to do, I would find my one true love, and that the empty space would be filled to the brim, and will be so much emptier afterwards, when everything came to an end. 

I first caught a glimpse of Maya when I took a walk the day after I arrived at the beach house. She was wearing a hat, an artist’s smock over her blouse, and leggings, an easel before her. I only caught a partial view of her, but my heart jumped for no reason at all when I caught that glimpse of her. Seeing that she was too concentrated on what she was doing and I might disturb her concentration, I walked away after staring at her beautiful and graceful profile for several minutes. I needed to make sense, too, of my instant reaction to her. I also wondered if seeing her face to face, would I still feel the same lurch? Will my heart skipped a beat again. 

Yes I did! My heart did. I managed to confirm that the following day. I was out walking again, when suddenly, it started to rain. I saw Maya at the same spot she was in the day before, which was near our beach house than the one before us, which I had correctly assumed, was where she was staying. When I got home the day before I asked our property’s caretakers if someone is living in the beach house before us, and they told me that the daughter of the owner was there, alone, been staying there for over a week since before I arrived. I saw that Maya, as I would come to know her, also realized that it had started to rain. Whatever was on the canvas was done and was just drying I guessed at that time. She was calculating on how best to save her work, when I approached her. Our eyes met and connected. Time stood still and we were elevated into a plane that only the two of us existed for several long seconds. The big droplets coming from the skies startled us. I grabbed her canvas carefully, then told her to run with me to the beach house as it was nearer than her place.

The deluge came several minutes after we have reached the veranda. We were both out of breath, but laughing, triumphant that we beat the rain and saved her work. She had a smile that lit up her beautiful face. I stared at her and caught my breath. She was very lovely, with her heart-shaped face, doe eyes fringed with long lashes and pouty lips curved into an uninhibited smile. She noticed me looking at her. I flushed. She blushed. I introduced myself. She told me that her name is Maya, followed by a teasing smile, then said to me, that no, she was not named after the bird, the Maya! I smiled at her. I asked her to come inside the house and have a cup of coffee with me until the rains stop, and she can tell me all about her name. She graciously agreed even if I was a complete stranger to her. The truth was I wanted to prolong my time with her. I wanted to get to know her better. I was drawn to her from the beginning. My heart felt so light and happy, just being with her. Strange isn’t it, to feel that you know someone a lot, when you just met! That you experienced a certain pull towards this person, who in reality is a stranger to you. That there was just something in that person, that calls to you. Soulmates? Reincarnation? Knowing each other in a past life? I don’t know! I never believed in those, but how do I explain the instant connection I felt with Maya? 

We sat in the arm chairs, by the big floor-to-ceiling window that overlooks the beach, and over a cup of steaming coffee, we got to know each other. Maya told me that the beach house where she was staying belonged to her mother’s family, the Dela Pazes, and that she is there because she wanted to grieve alone. Her beloved mother Conchita, passed away a month before that. As the days passed by, Maya told me, the grief intensified. It started to sink in that her mother was really gone. Her father suggested that maybe a change of scene would be good for her and suggested that she visits the house in Ilocos with Fe, their loyal kasambahay, the daughter of her Yaya Nitang. She asked me to what my reason for being there. I told her I was just checking the property for my father.

So lost in getting to know each other, we didn’t realize that the rains had stopped, and that the day had turned into night as we continued chatting, getting to know each other, as if we needed to know everything about each other, unable to stop ourselves, even if we knew that we were not free to explore what we were feeling for each other, then. The fact that I’m married and has a little boy, and her engagement to a scion of one of the most prominent families in the country came into our conversation also. I didn’t realize before then that she was the fiancée of Jaime Ventura, whom I met in a party before, but never really know. We moved in the same circles, but we were not friends, and I have only met him once. Even then, I had this thought that he is very lucky to be having Maya for a wife, and learning that she was engaged to be married, I felt like a giant hand squeezed my heart, 

I asked Maya about her painting. She stood up, got it, and showed it to me. I  don’t know art, but even to my untutored eyes, I can see that she is very good. She had captured our house, the beach and the mountain beyond it, vividly, vibrantly! When I told her that she is very talented, she told me that it was just a hobby! She was not sure if she will offer her work to a gallery like a friend has been asking her to do. I told her that I will be the first one to buy her work should she decide to exhibit it. She laughed and told me, that maybe, she can just do a painting for me if I am staying long in the beach house. I told her that I was originally planning on being there for five days, but I can extend, since I haven’t had a vacation in a long time.

Maya stayed for dinner at my insistence since it was already a bit late. I just sent Manong Berting to tell Fe that Maya was staying for dinner. It was one of the best dinners of my life! Seeing her so happy, so animated while telling me one anecdote after the other, sharing me her hopes and dreams, made me felt very happy too. She caught me staring at her several times. Each time, she would blushed and get flustered. After dinner and dessert, I walked Maya back to her house through the beach. We opted to leave her painting and her painting materials in my house as it was already dark and it might rain again.  For my part, I was glad as it would mean I will see her again. We chatted like two people who have known each other for a long time as we walked. I took her until the gate and declined her invitation to come in. I waited until she was inside before returning to the beach house.

That night I was unable to sleep. I tossed and turned, with thoughts of Maya filling my head. I knew I was not free to feel what I knew I was feeling for her even then, but I can’t help myself. That feeling was so strong, so overwhelming and I was unable to fight it. How could I fight something that made me feel so alive for the first time? Something that made my heart sing? I went to bed, with the thought that I will see her again the following day…..

 

Note: The revision I’m doing started here. I moved the ‘Present’ part of this chapter to the new Chapter 3. Please see the Richard and Maya index under Library for the revised chapters! Thanks.

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Be Careful With My Heart DVD Covers

BCWMH DVD

My introduction to Be Careful With My Heart (BCWMH) was through the first five DVDs that I got hold of, in the early part of 2013, I think. It was, like, love at first watch!

From then on, aside from religiously watching the episodes, I was always on the look out for the release of the succeeding DVDs so I can watch the episodes again and again, at leisure. I, still, am!

When I got hold of the latest DVDs, Volume 46 and 47, the first thing that I noticed is that Volume 46 has another beautiful cover. With that, I just thought of doing a catalog of the covers, as part of the show’s wonderful journey.

Volume 1-10

Volume 11-25

Volume 26-30

Fairytale Wedding DVD

Volume 31-35

Volume 36-40

Volume 41-45

Volume 46-47

It has been almost eight months since Be Careful With My Heart has ended but with these DVDs, I can still travel to my BCWMH universe anytime, especially when I need my feel good fix. I am now in Volume 26 of my current rewind (my nth one)! Sir Chief is namamanhikan in San Nicolas, and will get ‘cute drunk’ in a while! ❤

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On The Street Where You Live – Chapter 24

Chapter 24

It was already past midnight, and yet, Maya and Richard were still very much awake! Who would be able to sleep, or feel sleepy at all, after that wonderful and momentous evening! Engaged! Maya was still having a hard time believing that she and Richard are about to marry! Their being together was ten years in the making, but it was worth it, so very much! There is really no fighting destiny, Maya thought to herself, as she and Richard enjoyed their first private moment after they got engaged. Her belief that if you are destined to be together with that one person you will share your life with, then fate will find a way for the two of you to be together, was affirmed with what happened to her and Richard. Their journey towards their forever took a long time, but finally they have started it that evening in her beloved most romantic place!

From La Casa Antigua, Maya and Richard, with their loved ones returned to the most romantic place as everyone wanted to see the special place where Richard had proposed to Maya earlier in the evening. It was a bit late for the kids to be still up but they let them as it was a special occasion. Besides, they doubted if the kids too, will be able to sleep early with all the excitement they have had for the day, from their special plane ride to Mindoro, to the engagement dinner in an ancestral homes, and the trip to this special place.

The most romantic place was still brightly lit as per Richard’s instructions to Emman. The musicians also returned with them to provide entertainment should they wish to continue the party there! Upon seeing the replica of a ballroom, even Doris who planned the whole thing with Emman, was amazed at what he had accomplished in such a short time! The grown-ups were all amazed at the length Richard went to, just to be able to give Maya a beautiful and surely, a very unforgettable marriage proposal!

Emman was peppered with questions on how he was able to accomplish the feat in such a short time. He told everyone that his experience in the theater helped him a lot and he got in contact with a production group that makes props for shows. He said, it was easy to accomplish everything as Mr. Lim gave them the carte blanche to design the ballroom after telling him of his idea, and Maya’s love for bodice-ripper novels.

Emman also said, teasing Richard a bit,  that when expense is not a problem, it is easy to do things fast! Richard flushed a bit when Maya teased him about it. But knowing everything he did to accomplish this, for her, filled her with so much happiness! She whispered a thank you to Richard again and while everyone was scrutinizing the make-shift ballroom, gave him a quick, but searing kiss.

Richard smiled and whispered that if that is what he will get, every time he would do something nice for Maya, then he would to do it all the time. Maya quipped back, that he can surely have that, and more! Richard smiled naughtily and whispered something in Maya’s ears that made her blushed. They were lost in their own world and their whispering, that they didn’t notice right away that Emman was finished explaining the design he did for the place. Manang Fe, nudged Richard. He and Maya shared a smile, flushing amid the teasing of their guests!

The whole party stayed in the place for an hour more. The kids played with the flowers and the decor, with Sabel and Lea watching over them. The adults chatted, and danced a bit when the orchestra played the waltz again. Doris’ father asked Nanay Tessie to partner with him. Simon then asked Doris. Maya’s Tito Rollie asked Manang Fe. Emman asked Manang Maring. Mely, playfully partnered with Abby and Lance, and Sabel with Lea. With Maya and Richard in the center, they all took a spin around the ballroom, laughing and dancing to their heart’s content. Before they left the place, they posed for pictures. Maya and Richard, their hearts overflowing with happiness, thanked everyone who have been a part of that momentous occasion.

When the party ended, Doris said she and Lance, with Lea, will just stay with her father, so they can also visit him until they leave the following day. Nanay Tessie insisted that Manang Fe, Abby and Sabel can stay in the Dela Paz’ ancestral house. Nanay Tessie assured Manang Fe that there was enough room for everyone and that Manang Maring had already prepared a bedroom for them. She said there was even an extra room, aside from they have prepared since Maya was staying in her. Abby can have Maya’s room if she sleeps alone. Richard said that Abby can stay with him. However, Abby had a different idea in mind. She asked her father if she can stay with her new ‘Mommy’ and Lola Nanay Teresita. Nanay Tessie assured Richard it was perfectly okay for Abby to stay with Maya and her as the bed is enough for the three of them.

Richard was surprised at his daughter’s request. At times, Abby was slow to warm to people she just met, but that was not the case with Maya, and now Nanay Tessie! He was happy, of course, at what he is seeing and he couldn’t ask for more. He was very happy seeing his future bride, his future mother-in-law, and his precious daughter bonding together this well!

When they arrived at Maya’s house, Manang Fe and Sabel went promptly to bed, tired from their trip, after Richard and Maya told them they will just take care of Abby. Nanay Tessie and Manang Maring went to the kitchen to double-check if everything was in order for the breakfast the following day. Maya and Richard went to the room that Maya was sharing with her mother and put Abby to sleep. It didn’t take long, as soon as Abby was in the bed, and after she had asked for kisses and hugs from her Daddy and her new Mommy, she was in sleep land. She also them that she was very, very happy before she closed her eyes! Maya and Richard looked at her lovingly, touched by the little’s girl’s acceptance and happiness at their engagement. From the doorway, Nanay Tessie looked at them happily, getting teary-eyed at the scene before her!

“Maya, Richard, ako na ang bahala kay Abby, kung gusto ninyo munang magkwentuhan.” Nanay Tessie offered as she walked towards Richard and Maya. “Feeling ko naman hindi pa kayo inaantok at sino nga ang aantukin sa pagkaganda-gandang araw nating lahat. Kahit ako, pakiramdam ko, mamaya pa ako makakatulog nito. Bantayan ko na lang muna si Abby habang nagpapaantok.”

“Oo nga po, Nay! Gising na gising pa ang diwa ko.” Maya said, looking at Richard and sharing a loving gaze.

“Samahan ninyo na lang po kami ni Maya, Nay. Magkwentuhan tayo diyan sa sala. Magkape tayo also.” Richard added.

“Next time na lang mga anak, moment ninyo iyan.” Nanay Tessie said smiling. “Since Richard proposed, hindi pa kayo napag-isang ulit, Maya.”

Richard and Maya grinned at Nanay Tessie. Maya hugged her mother. “Nay, maraming salamat po ulit ha.”

“Oo nga po, Nay Tessie, thank you very much for everything.” Richard added.

“Kayo talagang mga bata kayo, walang anuman. Sapat nang makita ko kayong masayang-masaya at maayos itong si bunso ko, Ricky.” Nanay Tessie said, getting teary-eyed again. “O sige na, magkape na kayong dalawa or magpahangin sa azotea. Alam kong paborito ninyong place iyon. Baka magising pa si Abby kung magkukwentuhan pa tayo ng mahaba-haba rito.”

While they were walking towards the kitchen to make coffee, Maya finally got to ask Richard when did he tell her mother about the proposal, kung kailan siya nagpaalam dito. Richard told him the day before, when she went to the kitchen.

“Talaga, sweetheart? Noon?” Maya said, grinning. “Kaya pala si Nanay, bigla na lang akong niyakap ha, tapos kaninang umaga naman, she set up our dinner sa La Casa! May pa-vintage clothes pa ni Mamang! Si Nanay talaga, ang galing ding makipagkutsaba sa iyo, sweetheart. Wala akong nahalata!”

“I was in a hurry nga, sweetheart when I was telling her! Baka kasi bumalik ka na and marinig mo. I wanted to tell your mother muna and ask her permission before I set into motion the final plan. Kaya nga pagkatapos naming mag-usap saka ko lang ulit tinawagan si Doris na go ang proposal ko sa iyo.” Richard said. “I’m very grateful to your mother and her organizational skills, lalo na nang sabihin sa kanya na parating din sina Abby, Manang, Sabel, Doris, Lance and Lea!”

“Pero, sweetheart, I never expected talaga that you will propose this weekend.” Maya confessed, preparing their coffee. “Minsan, sumasagi sa isip ko, pero I thought din na hindi pa since we just started our relationship!”

“I have been thinking about it for a while na, sweetheart. I didn’t want to wait anymore. Tagal na yata nating naghintay! I entertained the thought of doing it in Tagaytay but I shelved that kasi I want to ask Nanay Tessie’s permission first. I don’t like to do it naman over the phone. Hindi pa nga niya ako nakikilala ng personal, magpapaalam ako na gusto kong pakasalan ang anak niya sa phone. I wanted to ask her in person.” Richard said. “Tama naman ang decision ko kasi sinabi mo sa akin na pupunta tayo ng Mindoro this weekend!”

“Really, sweetheart?” Maya asked happily. She never imagined that Richard was planning this proposal that early. Bumalik sa kanya ang mga naging conversation nila about being together when the right time comes! “Sweetheart, thank you for talking to my mother. I know you don’t have to, but I’m glad you did. It made her very happy also. Ako rin, sobra-sobrang kaligayahan talaga ang nararamdaman ko ngayon!”

“It was the right and proper thing to do, sweetheart. Kung alam mo lang, sweetheart, I was very nervous when I asked your mother if I could talk to her!” Richard said, grinning. “ Then noong nasabi ko na sa kanya, I also asked for her help kaya, doon nga sa dinner afterwards.”

“So si Doris, kailan mo naman, kinausap? Ikaw talaga, sweetheart, bilib ako sa iyo. Natutuwa rin kasi alam ko kung gaano ka-busy ang schedule mo.” Maya asked as they walked towards the azotea.

Richard smiled and told Maya about the meeting with Doris that Tuesday afternoon. He also told her that it was Doris who called the jewelry designer for him since short time na nga. Then, he said, Doris took care of the details of setting up the ballroom at the most romantic place with Emman and her father for the logistics. Richard told Maya that Doris also took care of the flight to Mindoro of Manang Fe, Abby and Sabel, pati na rin sila ni Lance.”

“Grabe, I really have a lot to thank my BFF for!” Maya exclaimed upon hearing everything. “Para ko na kasi talagang kapatid iyang si Doris.”

“Yes, I agree sweetheart, you have a very good friend in Doris!”

The two of them were about to get settled in into the rattan settee in a corner of the azotea, when Richard’s phone rang.

“Hello Grace!” Richard greeted his sister when he saw on his phone’s screen that it was her, calling. “Mabuti, inabot mo pa akong gising!”

“Hello Kuya Ricky! I’m so sorry about earlier. I had an emergency at the hospital!” Grace said. “ I have a feeling that with the momentous event in your life, you will not be able to sleep promptly so I called, on the off-chance that yo are still awake, and I’m right. Congratulations Kuya Ricky!!! I’m so happy for you and my sister-in-law to be!!! So, how was the proposal? Can you send me photos!”

Richard smiled at his sister’s exuberant words! During the week, he had called his sister in China and told her that he and Maya are in a relationship. Grace was very happy for her brother and she said, she had an idea that he felt differently for Maya from way back. She was happy, she told him, that he and Maya have found each other again. Richard also told her that he was planning to propose to Maya in Mindoro that weekend. Grace told him that, she better be one of the bridesmaid. Richard’s sister also informed him that she is going home with their parents for a vacation and is looking forward to meeting her sister-in-law-to-be.

“Yes, you are right about that! Heto nga, hindi pa kami dalawin ng antok ni Maya. Thank you, Grace, for calling. Okay lang iyong kanina. I know naman the nature of your job” He said, then he looked at Maya and mouthed to her that it was Grace on the phone. “It was great. The best, Grace and I’m so happy. Of course, I was nervous also, who wouldn’t be!” Richard gave his sister a condensed version of his and Maya’s unforgettable night.

“Kuya Ricky, I never thought that you had it in you!  Bow talaga ako.  In fairness, Kuya, level up ka na talaga! That was simply amazing! If I was the girl, there was no way I would say no also! Ate Maya is lucky to have your love, and I know you are also lucky that you have hers. Hay, destiny talaga, there’s no fighting it!” Grace said, sighing happily. “I’m so very, very happy for you and Ate Maya! Sayang, hindi ako naka-join sa Skype kanina. I’ll make it up to you guys when I get home. May I speak with my sister-in-law to be, Kuya, so that I can greet her also!”

“Basta for Maya, anything, to make her happy, I will do. Sandali lang ha.” Richard told his sister softly. Then he looked at Maya lovingly. “Maya, sweetheart, my sister would like to speak with you.”

Maya nodded. She took a deep breath. This will be the first time that she will speak with Richard’s sister in more than ten years. “Hello Grace, how are you?”

“Hi Ate Maya, congratulations to you and Kuya Ricky! And congratulations too, a belated one, for topping the bar exams. Kuya Ricky told me about it when he called several days ago.” Grace said happily as soon as she heard Maya’s voice. “I hope it is okay if I call you Ate Maya now ha! I’m so very happy to have a sister! I’m sorry I missed the Skype call! I’m okay, pala. Tired from my long shift at the hospital, but very upbeat pa rin, especially after hearing that you guys are engaged now!”

“Thank you very much, Grace. Ricky and I understand naman.” Maya replied, smiling. “Of course, you can call me Ate Maya. I would be happy to have to a sister. I missed having one.”

“Oo nga pala, sabi ni Kuya, namatay daw iyong sister mo noong time din na nakidnap kami ni Mama.” Grace said. “It must have been a very difficult time for you. I’m so sorry to hear it din, Ate Maya!”

“Thank you Grace. Yes, she did. But I’m sure wherever Ate Cris is, she is happy for Richard and me. But you and your Mama also went through a very traumatic experience that time.” Maya said. “I’m glad that you and Mama are okay.”

“It’s all behind us Ate Maya. At least, Mama and I, we survived it and it made us stronger.” Grace replied. “Naku, let’s not talk about it sa happiest moment ninyo ni Kuya Ricky! Kailan ang wedding? Magbo-volunteer na ako na bridesmaid ha, kung okay lang sa iyo.” Grace added, laughing. “Sorry ha, if I’m way ahead of you and Kuya Ricky.”

“Hahahaha, it’s okay Grace.” Maya said, liking Richard’s sister’s exuberant personality. She is glad her traumatic experience didn’t change that aspect of Grace’s personality. “Of course, bridesmaid ka. As for the wedding, pag-uusapan pa lang namin ng kuya mo.”

“Grace, next week if I have my way!” Richard said in the background, which earned him a pinch from Maya. “Magtatanan na lang kami ni Maya! Kailangan namin ng early start sa half a dozen naming kids!”

“Naku, Grace, don’t listen to your brother.” Maya said, laughing. “I’m sure your Mama and my Nanay  will not talk to us anymore if we do that! Itatakwil na kami ng mga mother natin! Actually, pag-uusapan pa namin ng Kuya Ricky mo kung kailan. We will set the date pa nd then he will just inform you, your Mama and Papa!”

“Tama ka diyan, Ate Maya. Excited na nga si Mama na umuwi and to help with the weddng!“ Grace laughed. “Ito talagang si Kuya, hindi naman masyadong nagmamadali ah, madaling-madali lang! Kalahating dosenang kids! Sabagay, ang saya-saya noon, I will have seven pamangkins!”

Maya and Grace laughed at that! Soon after, Grace said goodbye to them. After Maya gave the phone back to Richard, they sat on the rattan settee, with Richard’s arm over Maya’s shoulders and Maya half-reclining against his broad chest, and continued drinking their then cooling coffee, enjoying the night. After a while, Richard took hold of Maya’s left hand.

“Sweetheart, like I have told Grace, if it is up to me, I want us to get married the soonest time possible, kung pwede nga lang talaga, next week na.” Richard said,  caressing Maya’s ring finger. “But I want to give you the wedding you deserve, so I can wait. So, when do you think is enough time to plan a wedding that you would like?”

Maya smiled. Aha, Maya thought to herself, impishly, now I know how to return the teasing, Mr. Lim, about the six kids you want to have! She touched Richard’s face, and said poker face. “Hmmm, how about next year, sweetheart?”

“Ha, sweetheart, that long!!!” Richard protested, then said rapidly. “Sweetheart, baka naman pwedeng mas maaga. How about in three months? We can just hire a wedding planner. Doable naman iyon, di ba?”

“Sweetheart….” Maya started, deciding to end her teasing as Richard looked so serious when he said that. However, Richard cut into whatever she was going to say, cupping her face.

“Say yes, sweetheart.” He pleaded. “I said I can wait, pero within a reasonable time frame. I want to be with you the soonest, sweetheart.”

“Sweetheart, akala ko ba ako ang bahala Mr. Lim. I just can’t resist teasing you.” Maya laughed, giving him a quick kiss. “Hindi mo ako pinatapos! Sasabihin ko pa naman sa iyo na, hindi ko naman kailangan ang grand wedding. If it is possible nga, I would like to marry you tomorrow. I just want to be with you rin. I don’t need a grand wedding. Ang importante, magkasama na tayo and we will journey together to our forever. I love you very much.”

“Sweetheart, you made me very happy.” Richard said, grinning, looking at Maya with all the love he feels for her. “I love you very much. So we get married, tomorrow?” He added, teasing her again. “You know, kailangan natin ng early start sa half a dozen na magiging kapatid ni Abby!”

“Hahahaha, sweetheart, ikaw talaga, incorrigible! Sobrang, not possible naman iyang tomorrow. Bukod pa sa lagot tayong dalawa sa mga nanay natin.” Maya pinched Richard’s cheek lovingly. “How about in two months time?”

“Hmmm, how about in two weeks.” Richard countered, grinning.

“Hahahaha, sweetheart, never say die talaga ang peg mo!” Maya teased back. “How about a month? Last Saturday of August?”

Richard grinned. “Deal sweetheart!”

Both of them giggled, grinned at their silliness, and happy to have agreed on a date for their wedding! “Sweetheart, ang crazy natin ‘no! Sabi ko na nga ba eh, iyang magnanimous statement mo na iyan na willing to wait ha!”

“Happily, crazily in love, Ms. Dela Rosa.” Richard said softly, lovingly.

“Yes, Mr. Lim, happily and crazily in love, with you.” Maya replied happily.

Richard and Maya gazed at each other with all the love they are feeling, thinking of the time when they will be finally, together forever. They sealed that thought with a searing kiss, which turned into several kisses as they enjoyed their private moment.

They went to bed when the roosters started crowing. Richard took Maya up to the door of the room she was sharing with Nanay Tessie, and Abby. They managed to part after several searing kisses. Both went to bed, and fall asleep, with big happy smiles on their faces.

 

Note: Finally! Have a nice evening/day!   ❤ 🙂 ❤

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On The Street Where You Live – Chapter 23

Chapter 23

“Wait, Manong Edwin! Sandali lang po.” Maya called their driver’s attention when she noticed that he took a right turn, instead of going left. “Parang mali po yata ang direksyon natin. Di po ba, sa kaliwa ang papunta sa La Casa Antigua? May iba pa po ba tayong dadaanan?”

“Ma’am Maya, wala naman po. Ito po ang direksyon na ibinigay sa akin. Bilin pa nga po sa akin nung boss ko, huwag akong mamamali ng direksyon.” Manong Edwin said, then continued driving in the direction he took.

By then, Maya had a pretty good idea on where they were going. Dead end ang daan na tinatahak nila, and isa lang ang nandoon sa dulo. “Sweetheart, we are going to where the ‘most romantic place’ is!” She remarked to Richard. “Di ba, sabi ni Nanay, may event doon this evening and sarado ang lugar? Baka maipit tayo roon! Besides gabi na. Medyo madilim ng kaunti roon kapag ganitong time. Pabalikin na kaya natin si Manong Edwin. Mali yata ang direction na ibinigay sa kanya ng mga taga-La Casa.”

“Relax lang, sweetheart,” was all Richard said, then continued holding Maya’s hand, caressing it, then seeing that Maya was still worried, he added, “Pabayaan mo lang si Manong Edwin dito sa direction that he took.”

Maya looked at Richard closely. She saw his calm visage. In fact, he looked happy and excited about something. Seeing this, Maya’s heart started galloping. She had an inkling by then that she was in for a big surprise that evening, gaya ng pakiramdam niya earlier. Kumakabog ang dibdib niya. She took a deep breath to calm her fast-beating heart, and as Richard said, kalma lang. For sure, she will see what is in store for her this evening in several minutes.

True enough, several minutes after, they stopped at the entrance of the ‘most romantic place’! Expecting the place to be in darkness, Maya was surprised to see that the place was brightly lit, with a big structure in the middle of the old clearing by a small lake, just under the very old mango tree where her parents’ names were carved more than 25 years ago.

Richard helped Maya out of the car and led her to the beautiful structure there, which on a closer look, and with her senses getting accustomed to the events unfolding before her, she realized resembled the ballroom of an English manor house! It is actually a replica of a ballroom in a manor house! At a corner, there was a small orchestra and the musicians were dressed in period costumes, like they were to provide entertainment to a ball or a soiree with lords and ladies, and other members of the nobility, in attendance. The whole place looked like a scene from the bodice ripper novels she is addicted to! But how? And why? Parang alam na niya, but ayaw naman niyang mag-assume! As Maya stared and took in the beautiful and magical surroundings before her, feeling like she was transported back in time, into the pages of the books she likes, Richard softly approached her.

“I believe it is our dance, my lady!” Richard said, looking at Maya with all the love he feels for her. He extended his hand. He looked like a dashing lord from her novels, about to ask the lady he would like to get betrothed to, to dance.

When Maya put her, by then, very cold hand into Richard’s, the opening strains of a waltz, floated into the beautiful night. Maya was quite sure then of what’s going to happen later, with voice that was not very steady, and with knees getting wobbly, she whispered to Richard, “Yes, I believe it is our dance, my lord.”

Richard then took her into his arms, glided on the makeshift ballroom, staring at her, full of love. Maya felt like she was floating and her being was just concentrated on Richard and the magic world he took her to. They danced, as close as two people could be for several minutes. As the music was fading, Richard bowed to Maya. He got something from his pocket, and knelt before her, as she waited breathlessly.

“Will you marry me, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa?” Richard said, his voice full of emotion, his face full of love for Maya as he offered her the diamond-encrusted engagement ring he had been carrying since the day before. “Be mine forever as I will be yours.”

Maya felt like her heart would burst from sheer happiness. She never expected that Richard will propose to her this early, that evening kahit malakas na malakas na ang kutob niya! Tears started to glisten from her very expressive eyes. She also knelt down before Richard, touched his beloved face, and whispered softly, “Yes, Ricky, I will marry you. I would like to be yours forever as you will be mine.”

Hearing that, Richard heaved a sigh of relief. He was actually very nervous. He gave Maya a brilliant, loving smile, then slowly put the beautiful ring on her finger, caressing it as he did so. “I love you very much, sweetheart.” Then he raised Maya’s hand to his lips and kissed it. He helped her up, gently. Richard lowered his lips to Maya’s and with the orchestra playing a beautiful classical music in the background, they shared their first kiss as a newly engaged couple. The kiss lasted for several long seconds, with both of them, pouring into that kiss the love they feel for each other. They broke apart, with big grins, and with their faces flushed. They were very happy. Engaged, finally!

“One more dance, my lady.” Richard asked, smiling charmingly.

“Yes, my lord.” Maya replied happily, interlacing her hands around Richard’s nape. “I love you very much.” She whispered to him as the two of them swayed to the music, lost in their own world. Both of them are looking forward to their future together. They shared another kiss when the music ended.

Maya looked again at her beautiful ring as Richard interlaced their fingers while they took a stroll near the lake, afterwards, while the musicians were packing their instrument. She was still having a hard time believing that she and Richard were now engaged! “I love you very much, sweetheart.” She said lovingly and sweetly, giving Richard a tremulous smile. Then she looked around again, and realizing the enormity and the efforts Richard did to give her a proposal she would never forget, she touched his face again. “Thank you for this , sweetheart. I’m simply overwhelmed with the effort you took to give me this!”

“So, did I get it right, sweetheart?” Richard asked, smiling. “Ganito ba ang mga nasa novel na paborito mo?”

“Yes, sweetheart. Paano mo ito na-accomplish?” Maya asked, amazement in her gaze and voice.

“That’s a long story, sweetheart. You will know later.” Richard said. “Come, let’s get going.”

“Ha, aalis na tayo, rito? Sayang naman itong grand set-up mo kung hindi natin ma-enjoy ng husto.” Maya protested.

“It will still be here, later, sweetheart if you want to come back and enjoy the rest of the night here. For now, we should get going.” Richard told his fiancée. He was looking forward to seeing her reaction, when she sees his next surprise.

“Saan tayo pupunta?” Maya asked, smiling. By then, she already knew that Richard has another surprise waiting for her.

Instead of answering, Richard kissed Maya again. “Mamaya na ang mga tanong my Mrs. Lim-to-be.”

“Okay, Mr. Lim.” Maya said happily, letting Richard led her back again to the entrance of the ‘most romantic place’.

The musicians followed them. After offering their congratulations, they walked to their service van. Richard, on the other hand, led Maya back to the vintage car where Manong Edwin was patiently waiting. Seeing their happy faces, the older guy offered his congratulations to them.

“Ikaw, Manong Edwin, ha. akala ko talaga, iniligaw mo kami?” Maya teasingly said. “Thank you po.”

“Kulit niya Manong Edwin, di ba po?” Richard teased. “Akala ko nga mapapaamin ka po ni Maya, hahahaha.”

“Oo nga, Sir Richard.” Manong Edwin said, smiling. “Congratulations po ulit, Ma’am Maya, Sr Richard.”

“Thank you Manong Edwin. Tayo na po.” Richard said. He then escorted Maya inside the vintage car and several minutes after, they were on their way.

From the ‘most romantic place’ Manong Edwin drove them towards the direction of La Casa Antigua. They arrived at the beautiful, regal and grand old mansion several minutes after. They were greeted by the manager of the restaurant.

“Good evening po, Ms. Dela Rosa, Mr. Lim, I’m Jeff Macavinta, welcome to La Casa Antigua.” The tall, handsome, and friendly manager greeted them with a big smile. “Congratulations on your engagement. This way po.”

“Sweetheart, I’m so touched naman talaga and overwhelmed, pinaghandaan mo talaga ng husto ang gabi na ito.” Maya whispered to Richard as they followed the manager to the second level of the house, up through the grand staircase adorned with a huge chandelier. “May dinner pa rin pala talaga tayo rito!”

Richard smiled broadly, stopped and gave her a quick kiss as a reply. He pressed her hand too, lacing it tighter with his as they followed up the manager to the main dining room of the mansion. Indeed, Maya was in for another wonderful surprise!

“CONGRATULATIONS!” Everyone inside shouted when Maya and Richard entered the dining room.

“Oh my God!!! Oh my God!!! Maya said, surprised, her voice choking as she looked around and saw who were there. With tears of happiness in her eyes, she looked at Richard with all the love she is feeling. She felt like her heart expanded a million times from the sheer happiness she was feeling at that moment.

“Yes, sweetheart, they are here to share this wonderful night with us. All the people we love.” Richard said softly, wiping Maya’s tears, gently with the thumb of his hand. “I love you and I want to offer you the world, everything that would make you happy.”

“Sweetheart, naman, hayan di ko na kayang pigilan.” Maya hugged Richard tight and with voice choking, and tears freely flowing from her expressive eyes, she thanked Richard once more. “I love you very much. Sobrang saya ko ngayon, wala na talagang pagsidlan. Thank you for all of these.”

“Tita Maya, Tita Maya, you will be my mommy na! Yehey! I’m so happy!” Abby suddenly said, lightening up the emotions-filled moment. She ran to Maya and all the grown-ups smiled. They too, felt teary-eyed, seeing how happy Maya and Richard were. They were both glowing with love.

Maya hugged the little girl. “Yes, Abby, I will be. I’m very, very happy that I will be your new mommy and that you will be my daughter.”

“Yes!!! Can I call you Mommy na, Tita Maya?” The little girl asked. “I know I had another mommy and she is in heaven. Daddy said, it will be okay with her if you will be my Mommy also.”

“Yes, Abby.” Maya replied emotionally.

“Yehey!” Abby gave Maya another hug and a kiss, then she turned to her father. “Daddy, thank you for giving me a new mommy. Thank you for giving me Mommy!” She added, hugging Maya again.

Richard smiled at his little girl, ruffled her hair, then gave her a quick kiss. He shared a look with Maya. With the little girl between them, they walked towards the special persons who were sharing this evening with them.

Richard took Nanay Tessie’s hand.”Tita Tessie, mano po.” He said simply.

“Richard, anak, please call me Nanay also.” Nanay Tessie said, still sniffling. “Kung hindi nga lang mabubuko ng anak ko ng wala sa oras ang plano mo, kasi baka madulas tayo pareho, noon pa mang nagpaalam ka, sasabihin ko sanang Nanay na ang itawag mo sa akin.” She added smiling, then she looked at her daughter. “Maya, anak.”

Maya went to her mother, and they hugged tight, with Nanay Tessie caressing her hair, whispering. “Anak, sobrang saya ko para sa iyo ngayon. Papasok ka na sa panibagong yugto ng buhay mo. I’m happy that you found yourself a wonderful guy na sobrang mahal na mahal ka! Sobrang saya ko na makita kung gaano ninyo kamahal ang isa’t isa. Kahit mawala na ako bukas, anak, masaya na ako dahil alam kong maayos ka na. Sana lang, nandito ang kapatid mo. Pero alam ko, nasaan man siya, gaya ko, masayang-masaya rin siya para sa iyo. I love you anak.”

“I love you very much po, Nanay.” Maya said emotionally. “You are the best mother in the whole world. Saka, Nay, huwag ka pong magsasalita ng ‘mawawala’. Di ko iyon kakayanin, Nay. Saka, ikaw din, di ba gusto mo pa ng apo.” She added, teasing her mother.

“Bakit, bibigyan ninyo ba ako kaagad ni Richard?” Nanay Tessie bantered back. “I hope you will. Dagdagan ninyo na ang apo kong si Abby!” She said, smiling and ruffling the little girl’s hair. She and Abby had bonded earlier while waiting for Maya and Richard.

It was Richard who replied to her. “Sure na sure po iyon, Nay.” He said grinning, then added, “Ilan po ba ang gusto niyo? Kaya po namin ni Maya kahit kalahating dosena pa!” Everyone laughed! Abby cheered upon hearing that they are planning to give her six brothers and sisters! Maya blushed and pinched Richard lovingly, who pretending to be hurt, wanting a kiss. Their guests took that as a cue to egg them to kiss. They obliged, and everyone clapped and teased them as it lasted longer than the usual!

Before they sat down for their dinner, all of their guests greeted them. Manang Fe was the first. Maya took her hand para magmano. Manang Fe on the other hand, hugged her, and her alaga, emotional too, wished them well and told them that she was very happy for the two of them and seeing that Richard is finally with the only woman he loves. She was followed by Maya’s Tito Rollie, her cousins, Mely and Simon, followed by Doris’s father, Fernando, Manang Maring, Sabel and Lea who were both kinikilig when they approached Maya and Richard, then Lance who said he is happy, as Abby will be his ‘honorary cousin’, and the last one was Doris.

“BFF, Richard, congratulations. Bilang saksing tunay sa inyong pagmamahalan, I’m so happy for you guys.” Doris said, sniffling  pa rin. “Richard, ikaw na ang bahala dito sa BFF ko ha. Mahal na mahal ka nito.” She hugged Richard.

“BFF, alam kong dream come true ito for you. Makita lang kitang sobrang saya, masayang-masaya na rin ako.” The two friends hugged each other tight.

“Thank you very much, BFF. Alam mo naman na wish ko rin ito for you.”

“Thank you, Doris, for everything.” Richard said, then to Maya, he said, “Sweetheart, si Doris ang tumulong sa akin with my proposal to you, especially, iyong sa ‘most romantic place’. Then, si Nanay naman dito sa La Casa.”

“Really BFF, Nay! Paano?” Maya asked. “Kailan ka nagsabi kay Nanay, sweetheart?”

“Naku BFF, mahaba-habang usapan iyan. Kwento na lang ni Richard sa iyo. Kain na tayo at gutom na ang ating mga kiddos!” Doris said.

“Oo nga, Maya anak. Kwento namin sa iyo ni Richard pagbalik natin sa bahay,”

“Nay, BFF, thank you very much for this. Sobrang memorable for Richard and me.” Maya said happily.

“Para sa inyo ni Richard, anak, I was very happy to do my share.”

“Same here, BFF. Kahit tumulay pa sa alambre, gagawin ko para sa inyo ni Mr. Dreamboat!”

Everybody laughed as they sat down for their dinner. The restaurant staff started bringing in the mouth-watering dishes in which this restaurant is famous for. They enjoyed their sumptuous dinner while the orchestra who played at the most romantic place, serenaded them with the most romantic tunes from various Broadway musicals. It was a very happy dinner, marked with laughter and banter, especially between Doris and Simon as Tito Fernando told Simon na ligawan na si Doris. The group also teased Maya and Richard a lot. They were also asked by Tito Fernando and Tito Rollie how they met. Maya, Richard, and also Doris took turns in telling them how they all met more than 10 years ago!

When everyone was having dessert, Emman and his assistant started bringing in a huge LED television monitor, attached to it was a laptop. Maya was surprised to see Emman Castro in the party, but then, she put two and to together and realized that Doris might have asked for his help in setting this up as he has an events planning business in San Nicolas and Poblador. Manang Fe told her earlier that Richard chartered a plane for them so they can make it to the engagement party. Doris stood up and called everyone’s attention.

“Since busog na tayong lahat, may isa pa tayong treat sa ating newly engaged couple. Richard, BFF, please stand up and come here in front.” Doris said and when Maya and Richard were in front of the monitor, sitting on the two chairs that were placed there, she signaled to Emman. The monitor lit up. Don Roberto and Donya Esmeralda faces filled up the screen, much to Richard and Maya’s surprised, and delight. They were seated in the living room of Richard’s uncle’s house in San Francisco. This was not part of Richard’s plan! But he is happy that Doris thought of this as well as he very much wanted to share this wonderful moment with his parents as well. He intertwined his hand with Maya’s, sharing a loving look with her.

“Congratulations, son, and Maya!” Donya Esmeralda said with a big smile! “Finally! I’m so happy for the two of you. Maya, hija, we hope we can meet you in person soon, as Ricky’s fiancee, pati na rin ang family mo. Si Mrs. Dela Rosa, ang magiging balae namin ni Roberto, and your uncle and cousins. Welcome to our family, Maya! Heto pala ang Papa mo, Ricky.”

“Ricky, son, congratulations. Maya, welcome to our family, hija.” A smiling Don Roberto said. “Gaya ng sabi nitong Mama mo Ricky, Maya, we are looking forward to meeting you again as my son’s fiancée. Soon, hopefully!”

“Mama, Papa, thank you for this. Maya and I are very happy that you are sharing this moment with us, kahit po nandiyan kayo at the other side of the world.” Richard said happily. “Ma, here o.” Grinning, he showed his Mama the ring on Maya’s finger.

“Oh, oh, that’s so beautiful, son! Maya, hija, you are so beautiful, and I’m happy to see the love between you and my son. Kitang-kita ko iyan kahit dito sa screen ng laptop. Masayang-masaya kami para sa inyong dalawa! Kailan ba ang kasal?”

“Thank you po Tita Esmeralda, Mr. Lim, for sharing this wonderful evening with Ricky and me.” Maya said. “I’m also looking forward to meet you, again, as Ricky’s fiancee. Thank you po talaga, sa pagtanggap sa pamilya ninyo. Hindi pa po namin napag-uusapan ni Ricky iyong date.”

“Maya, hija, bakit ‘Tita Esmeralda’ and ‘Mr. Lim’, call us Mama and Papa. Magiging anak ka na rin namin, di ba, Roberto.”

“Yes, yes, Maya hija. Call me Papa.” Don Roberto said smiling.

“Thank you po, Mama, Papa.” Maya said, still getting used to calling Richard’s parents that.

“Thank you, Ma, Pa. You don’t know how happy you have made Maya and me. I was not expecting this. Kahit akong may pasimuno ng surprises na ito kay Maya, na-surprise din, hahahaha. Saka, we will let you know po kung kailan ang wedding.”

“Di ba, son! I’m happy also na naisipan ito ni Fe, with the help of Maya’s very nice friend, si Doris. I hope the wedding is soon. Sabik na kami ng Papa mo na magkaapo ulit!”

“Talaga po!” Richard and Maya both said, looking at Manang Fe and Doris, who waved at them, grinning broadly like co-conspirators.

“Kayo po at si Nanay Tessie, pareho ang sabi sa amin!” Richard added, grinning, then looked at Maya teasingly. She just smiled lovingly at him.

“Great son! The more, the merrier ha.” Donya Esmeralda said happily. “Since kausap na namin kayo, may we meet also Maya’s mom, nang kahit paano naman makilala namin ang magiging balae namin ni Roberto, and also we would like to say hello to our apo.”

Richard fetched Nanay Tessie and Abby. With Abby on her lap, and Maya and Richard behind them, Nanay Tessie met her balaes through the wonders of modern technology! The Lims and Nanay Tessie chatted for several minutes, hitting off instantly. They promised to have dinner, both families, as soon as the Lims are back in the Philippines. Abby also chatted with her grandparents and told them that her Daddy and her new Mommy will give her six brothers and sisters! The adults laughed, with Maya blushing anew, and Richard grinning broadly and naughtily at her.

Richard and Maya thanked Doris and Emman, also Manang Fe, for setting up this wonderful surprise after they ended the Skype session with the Lims. Doris told them that Grace was supposed to be included in that. However, she was on call at the hospital where she works as a surgeon and she had to do an emergency operation an hour before the Skype call they set up. She wanted to have it relayed to Maya and Richard her congratulations, and a promise that she will call later or the following day!

“Bago po tayo magtapos dito sa La Casa Antigua, ngayong gabi, how about a dance from our newly engaged couple, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa-soon-to-be Lim and her fiance, Mr. Richard Lim.” Doris said.

Richard and Maya looked at each other lovingly. They went to the center of the makeshift dance floor and much to their delight, the strains of the waltz they danced to earlier started filling the room.

“My lady, our dance!”

“Yes, indeed, my lord!”

They danced like it was just the two of them in the whole universe! When the music was ending, Richard and Maya shared another sweet kiss.

“I love you very much, Mrs. Lim-to-be!”

“I love very much too, my Mr. Lim!”

Maya and Richard whispered lovingly to each other before facing their loved ones, and executing a deep bow. They thanked them for sharing this wonderful moment with them. Everybody clapped and started humming a wedding march. Richard and Maya grinned, looked at each other with all the love and happiness they were feeling. Indeed, it was a night to tell, not only to their children and grandchildren, but to their great-grandchildren!

 

Note: ❤ ❤ ❤

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On The Street Where You Live – Chapter 22

Chapter 22

Maya woke up alone. She looked at the wall clock and saw that it was already seven o’clock in the morning. Her mother is an early riser, so she was not surprised to see that her side of the bed was already empty. She was probably at Cristina’s or helping Manang Maring prepare their breakfast. She wondered if Richard was already awake. He probably was, as he is a morning person too. She smiled, happy with the thought that Richard was in the same house, that he was just several rooms away from her!

Maya went to the dining room to check if everyone was there already after taking a quick bath and putting on shorts and t-shirt. She saw that while the table was set for three, there was no one there. She went to the kitchen and saw her mother and Manang Maring preparing their breakfast.

“Good morning po, Nay! Magandang umaga po, Manang Maring.” Maya greeted, then went to her mother and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Nay, si Ricky po, gising na po ba? Nag-coffee na ba siya? Normally, maagang magising iyon. He always text me early!”

“Good morning, anak.” Nanay Tessie greeted her daughter as she finished arranging fruits in a serving plate. “Mabuti at gising ka na. Hindi muna ako nagpahain kay Maring dahil lalamig. Sabi ko mga past 7AM na. Tamang-tama lang ang gising mo. Kakain na tayo in a while. Ipapaluto ko na itong mga food, para mainit pa kapag kumain tayo. Hindi ko pa nakikita si Richard. Tiningnan mo ba sa kwarto niya?”

“Hindi po, dumiretso na ako kasi sa dining room, then nung wala kayo roon, dito sa kitchen.” Maya said, then she started pouring a cup of coffee from the coffee maker. “Sige po, gisingin ko na lang. Baka napagod ng husto kahapon kaya tinanghali ng gising. Punta po muna ako sa room niya.”

Carrying two cups of coffee in a tray, Maya was off to Richard’s room. She knocked softly. When there was no reply, she slowly opened the door. Maya saw Richard was still sleeping, and by the look of it, he was still in deep sleep. Hmmm, namahay kaya itong si Ricky? Parang napuyat kagabi ah. Ang himbing ng tulog! Maya mused as she put down the tray on the bedside table.

Maya sat at the edge of the bed, looked closely at her boyfriend’s sleeping handsome face. He is cute pala when he sleeps, she mused, looking at Richard sleeping sideways, with his right cheek pillowed on the palm of his right hand!  She smiled, caressed his face tenderly with the back of her hand, and murmured, “Sweetheart, gising na! Sweetheart, magbe-breakfast na tayo.”

Richard, instead of waking up, just mumbled a protest, then turned to the other side of the bed. Maya tried to shake him gently, but still, he refused to open his eyes. Hands on her waist, she was thinking of what to do next when she remembered his offer of waking her up with 100 kisses the Sunday they were going to Tagaytay. She smiled. She had an impish look about her. Hmmm, maybe that one will be more effective, Richard Lim! She started giving Richard tiny little kisses. She was so at it and didn’t notice his mumbling until later. She checked and she realized that he was counting the kisses she was giving him with a big naughty smile on his face, eyes still closed!

“Sweetheart, ikaw talaga!” Maya said as she shook Richard’s shoulder. “Gising ka na pala!” She pretended to be miffed! “Hmmmp, nakakainis ka, sweetheart!”

“Why did you stop, sweetheart, nakaka-20 ka pa lang ah.” Richard said, grinning at looking at Maya lovingly “Parang ayaw ko pa kasing magising, I’m enjoying your kisses eh.”

Maya pinched Richard lovingly and with voice dangerously soft, she asked him, “So, nung nagsimula akong mag-kiss, gising ka na?”

“Hahahaha, di pa, sweetheart, nung panlima!” Richard said admitted, mirth making his eyes into tiny slits. “Good morning, I love you.” He then sat up and gave Maya a quick kiss, then hugged her from the back. “Don’t be mad na. Truly, that was the best wake up I had.”

“Sige na nga, forgiven ka na.” Maya said, mollified. “Nahirapan ka bang matulog dito. Namahay ka?”

“Hindi naman, sweetheart! Hindi lang ako nakatulog kaagad kasi excited to be here and for this weekend.” Richard gave Maya one of his bone-melting lopsided smiles and he did seem very happy as it lit up his whole face. “Basta…?”

“Hmmm, sige na nga. I’m sure malalaman ko rin iyan.” Maya said. “Heto, pinagdala kita ng kape, pampagising.”

“Thank you, sweetheart. Mas effective ang kisses mo, pero this coffee is also nice.” Richard said, getting out of the bed. “Wait lang, give me a second, banyo lang ako.”

Richard returned several minutes after, he sat at the edge of the bed, beside Maya. “Now, I can do this proper.” He cupped Maya’s face and gave her a searing kiss that left her breathless. “Thank you for my wonderful good morning, sweetheart. I love you.”

Maya smiled lovingly at her boyfriend. “I love you too, Mr. Lim. Heto o coffee ka muna.”

The two of them enjoyed their coffee, looking at each other and sharing loving glances. It was another beautiful moment between them.

“Sweetheart, mauna ka na muna. I will take a shower lang before breakfast.” Richard said, taking the last sip from his coffee. “Please tell Tita Tessie, my apologies for waking up late.”

“Okay, sweetheart. Sunod ka na lang as soon as you are done.” Maya said, gave Richard a quick kiss and then she was out of the room.

Richard took out clothes from his overnight bag. But before he went to the bathroom, he opened his sling bag and looked at Maya’s ring again. He smiled, very much looking forward to his proposal in the evening. He also made a quick call to Doris to check if everything is set.

“Yes Mr. Dreamboat, everything is set for your grand proposal to my BFF this evening na sadya namang nakakakilig talaga. Hay!!!!” Doris said with a big smile when he asked, teasing him. “Hindi ka naman masyadong excited, Richard. Kalma lang. Ako na ang bahala sa lahat.” She assured him. “Basta, kinikilig talaga ako ng sobra-sobra sa proposal mo.”

“Thank you, Doris for everything.” Richard said again. “I owe you a lot.”

“Naku, wala ito, Richard. Para sa inyo ng BFF ko naman ito. I’m very happy para sa inyo ng BFF ko. Alam ko naman kung gaano ka niya kamahal at alam ko rin naman na mahal na mahal mo siya.” Doris said. “Sayang lang, wala ako diyan. Di bale, dinner na lang tayo pagbalik ninyong dalawa sa Maynila. Good luck, Richard! Hay naku, sure naman ako sasagutin ka ng BFF ko.”

Hearing that, an idea started germinating in Richard’s head. “Wait Doris, are you free today?” He suddenly asked.

“Errr, yes, until Monday pa nga, since I worked last weekend and out-of-town pa, I am. Bakit?” Doris asked, puzzled.

“Well, I just thought of another beautiful thing.” Richard said, a smile lighting up his whole face. “How about you, Abby, Lance, Manang Fe, and isama mo na rin sina Sabel and Lea going here today? I’m sure mas matutuwa noon si Maya!”

“Ha, eh paano? Wala kaming na-book na flight? Kaya ko namang i-gather lahat, pero baka wala ng flight today.” Doris replied, then added, “Long weekend, di ba, baka maraming nagpunta sa Mindoro kaya makakuha man kami ng flight papunta diyan, baka mahirap na ang pabalik bukas. May pasok ang mga bata sa Lunes.”

“I’ll take care of the transportation. No worries. Basta ikaw na please sana ang bahala kina Manang Fe, Abby and Sabel.” Richard said, the plan snowballing in his head. “Let me just make a couple of phone calls. Basta, dadaanan kayo nina Manang and Abby in three hours, okay, kapag naayos ko na ang lahat.”

“Oh okay.” Doris managed to say. She grinned broadly. Ibang klase talaga itong boyfriend ng BFF ko!

Richard made several phone calls, the first one to one of his clients who has a charter planes and helicopters service. Miguel Santiago agreed readily when Richard requested if he could fly his daughter and several others to San Nicolas in a small plane that afternoon. He also called Manang Fe and told her of his plans. The old lady smiled, and thought, ang nagagawa nga naman ng pag-ibig sa alaga niya! She promised to take care of everything from her end. Having set everything, he called back Doris. She was all smiles upon hearing what he had managed to accomplish in several minutes!

Richard and Doris said goodbye. Richard went to bath, humming, very much looking forward to the evening ahead. He is really very thankful to Doris for everything. The Monday after the Tagaytay trip with Maya and the kids, he asked Sabel if she had exchanged number with Lea. She said she did. He then asked her if she could ask Lea for Doris’ phone number, on the pretext that he will ask Doris something in connection with Abby and Lance’s school activities.

From there, Richard managed to contact Doris who was still in Ilocos Norte at that time. She agreed to meet him for coffee the following day. Maya thought he had a meeting somewhere when he left LAS around 4PM. He met Doris at a coffee shop near her office. After an exchange of pleasantries, he told her about his plan to propose to Maya. Doris squealed with delight. The other customers looked at them, and she covered her mouth sheepishly.

When Doris asked how she could help, he laid out his plans to her. Doris told him that she can take care of the details. She just knows the person who can do it – a friend from college who is from Poblador. He has an events planning business, and that friend has a theater production background as he had worked in various theater productions in Manila before settling back in Mindoro. She also mentioned that he knows Maya, but she will just ask him to keep things between the two of them. Doris also said that her father can help with the logistics. Bahala na siya. So, Richard left the execution in her very capable hands. There was no need to ask for Liza’s help with the proposal after all. Mabuti na rin iyon at baka madulas pa ang assistant nya kay Maya dahil sa sobrang kilig!

When Richard made it to the dining room, Maya and her mother were already seated, chatting while sipping coffee. “Tita Tessie, good morning po. Pasensya na po at tinanghali ako ng gising.” Richard said. “Hi again, sweetheart!”

“Naku, okay lang iyan Richard. Feeling ko nga baka namahay ka.”  Nanay Tessie told her future son-in-law. “Umupo ka na diyan sa tabi ni Maya nang makapag-breakfast na tayo.”

“Thank you po.” Richard touched Maya’s shoulder affectionately before he sat down. “Hindi nga po ako nakatulog kaagad.” He told his future mother-in-law.

Judging by Richard’s smile, Nanay Tessie knew why he was unable to sleep promptly. Siya man, nahirapang makatulog kaagad. Today is the day! Uh-oh, she is getting emotional again. She better stop!

“Kain na Richard. Maya, anak, patikim mo kay Richard itong special tapa namin ni Manang Maring.” Nanay Tessie said. “Timpla ko iyan, and isa sa mga binabalik-balikang breakfast diyan sa Cristina’s.”

Maya gave Richard a big serving of the tapa, the spicy vinegar that goes with it, then scrambled eggs, fruits and lastly, another cup of coffee.

“Tama na sweetheart. Baka hindi na ako makalakad nito sa pamamasyal natin.” Richard said, putting his hand over Maya’s. “Thank you.” He then mouthed ‘I love you’ to her.

Looking at the two of them, Nanay Tessie smiled. Indeed, she is very happy at what she is seeing! The three of them had a leisurely breakfast.

More than two hours later, Tita Tessie, Maya and Richard was at the San Nicolas Memorial Park where Cristina Rose is buried. On the way to there, they bought a big bouquet of roses and Malaysian mums for her and some candles.

“Hi Ate Cris, sorry ang tagal kong hindi nakadalaw sa iyo.” Maya said as she put the flowers in front of her sister’s gravestone.”Kasama ko si Ricky. Siya iyong ikinukwento ko sa iyo dati sa e-mails. He is my boyfriend now.” Maya added, looking lovingly at Richard.

Richard smiled back and by way of a greeting and paying respect to Maya’s sister, he touched her gravestone and uttered a silent hello, saying that he is indeed her sister’s boyfriend and also whispered, that he is also Maya’s soon to be fiance.

Nanay Tessie lit the candles, and lovingly touched her eldest daughter’s gravestone, saying that she is still missed, very much. She also whispered to her eldest daughter that their bunso is about to get married soon. The three of them stayed in the memorial park for half an hour. When the sun got hotter, they left.

“Maya anak, mamaya palang gabi, doon na kayo mag-dinner ni Richard sa La Casa Antigua.” Nanay Tessie said as they were walking out of the memorial park, to Simon’s jeep which they have borrowed earlier. “Nakalimutan ko na may usapan pala kami ni Mareng Ginny mamayang gabi.”

Richard offered to drive and while it took him a bit to master the jeep as he has not driven one in a long time, he managed to do it. Maya teased him and asked if he can drive a jeep as well. He told her that of course, he can, and he did!

“Oh! Sige po. Gusto ko nga rin po sanang dalhin doon si Ricky, kahit sa susunod na bisita namin dito sa San Nicolas.” Maya said, then remembered, “Opps, naku Nay, di ba po, medyo formal ang restaurant na iyon and by reservation lang? Wala akong dalang dress. Saka baka po si Richard, ganoon din. Nawala sa isip ko na magdala ng formal clothes!”

“Naku Maya, don’t worry about that. Di ba, merong vintage dress diyan si Nanay na gustong-gusto mong suutin dati. Tamang-tama, kapapa-dry clean ko pa lang noong nakaraang linggo.” Nanay Tessie said hastily. It was a good thing, and nagkataon naman talaga na pina-dry clean niya ang mga treasured clothes ng Nanay niya kasi ililipat niya ng lalagyan.

“Oh okay po. Sige Nay. Solved na that one. How about you sweetheart? Nagdala ka ba ng medyo dressy na clothes.” Maya asked Richard.

“Yes I did, sweetheart.” Richard said, smiling and sharing a look with Maya’s mother.

“Bilib naman ako sa pagiging boys scout mo, sweetheart!” Maya said smiling. “Buti na lang. Excited na ako. You will love La Casa. It’s an ancestral home that dates back to the Spanish colonial period. It has been converted into an exclusive fine dining place. Iyong family ng may-ari nito, one of the most prominent families in San Nicolas. Para kang na-transport sa 19th century Philippines kapag nandoon ka, also the food they serve, iyong mga food noong araw.”

“Really, then I’m looking forward to that, sweetheart!” Richard simply said.

“I made a reservation na rin kagabi, Maya anak. Sorry, hindi ko na nasabi sa iyo kaagad.” Nanay Tessie informed Maya. “Well, Fernando did, when I asked him. Di ba, naging lawyer siya ng mga Guevarra for a time.”

“Thanks a lot po Nay.” Maya hugged her mother. “Sayang, hindi kayo makakasama sa amin ni Ricky.”

From the memorial park, they returned to the house to rest a bit before going around the town. Nanay Tessie told Maya and Richard that she will just go check on Mely in the restaurant. They told her that they will just leave in half an hour.

When Maya returned to the room she was sharing with her mother to get her camera, Richard sought Nanay Tessie.

“O Richard, may kailangan ka ba, anak?” Nanay Tessie asked when she saw Richard at the doorway of Cristina’s.

“Tita Tessie, yes po, about this evening, could you please add six people pa po.” Richard requested.

“Six!?” Nanay Tessie asked, surprised.

Richard realized that he forgot to explain properly. He did. After hearing it, Maya’s mother was all smiles.

“Richard, anak, nakakatuwa ka naman talaga, and I’m very happy for what you are doing to make my daughter happy. Sige, ako na ang bahala. They should stay here na rin ha. Ipapahanda ko na ang lahat kay Maring.” Nanay Tessie said, touching Richard’s place affectionately. “Kapag hindi ka pa naman sinagot ng anak ko niyan, ewan ko na lang.” She teased.

Richard laughed, and it was what Maya heard first when she went down, looking for him. She smiled when she saw him and her mother sharing a laugh. Nakakatuwa naman talaga itong boyfriend ko at Nanay ko, mukhang click na click!

“Sweetheart, halika na. Ready na ako.” Maya said, holding on to his arm. “Nay, aalis na po kami ni Ricky. Doon na rin kami kakain ng lunch sa Filipino restaurant malapit sa simbahan.”

“O sige, mga anak, mag-iingat kayo ha. Enjoy. Be back pala around 4PM para makapagpahinga kayo before your big evening.” Nanay Tessie said.

Maya and Richard promised Nanay Tessie that they will. Richard escorted Maya to Simon’s jeep. Simon told them that they can use it for the whole day as he was not going anywhere, and if he does, he can just borrow his father’s car when it is free. They first went to the San Nicolas Church. Hand in hand they went inside the beautiful, old church and stayed there for several minutes. After that, they looked around the poblacion, especially at all the old houses near the plaza, then they had a delicious lunch at Tokanz. They also discovered a quaint cafe as they resumed their leisurely walk after that heavy lunch. Maya and Richard lingered in the nice cafe – chatting, holding hands and just being happy to be together on that very nice Saturday afternoon.

On the way back to Maya’s family house, Maya pointed out to Richard the road that leads to the ‘most romantic place’. Richard smiled, glad that Emman, Doris’s friend who is handling the preparation of the proposal was quite precise in his directions. They had exchanged emails the past several days. He sent Richard mock-ups of his plan. Richard told him that from Friday onward, bahala na sila ni Doris  na mag-communicate, tapos he will just take care of everything in the evening of Saturday.

“Maya, Richard, mga anak, kumusta ang lakad ninyo? Marami ba kayong napuntahan?” Nanay Tessie asked when she saw them getting out of the jeep. “Akyat na muna kayo ng makapag-merienda.”

“Hi Nay, medyo po. Okay naman po ang lakad namin ni Ricky. Busog pa po kami sa heavy lunch namin diyan sa Tokanz. Tapos may nakita po kaming cute na cafe after that, doon na lang kami nag-stay.” Maya said.

“Oo nga po, Tita Tessie! We will just rest na lang po.” Richard added. “Kayo po, nag-merienda na po ba kayo?”

“Tapos na kami ni Maring, 30 minutes ago. O siya, sige, magpahinga na muna kayo at kayo nga ang lalakad pa. Maya, anak, nandoon sa aparador sa kwarto sa dulo ang damit ni Nanay.” Tita Tessie said.

“Thank you po, Nay. Mauna na po kami ni Ricky sa itaas.”

“Tita Tessie, sige po.”

Hands intertwined, Richard and Maya went upstairs. But instead of resting in their rooms, they went to their now favorite part of the house, the azotea. With arms around Maya and her back against his chest, the two of them passed the time there, chatting about books they like, movies they could see when they return to Manila, and what they can do together when Donya Esmeralda and Don Roberto arrive. In the privacy of the azotea, they had also exchanged sweet kisses and loving smiles.

Maya and Richard returned to their respective rooms before six o’clock to get ready for the evening ahead. Nanay Tessie was waiting for Maya when she went inside the room they were sharing, her Mamang’s beautiful crimson dress, which she wore in one of the movies she made was on the bed.

Maya’s grandmother was an actress before she married her grandfather. Not as famous as the movie queens of the 50s and 60s, but she was in quite a number of movies, mostly supporting roles, before she ‘retired’ from the industry. Her mother held on to her dresses. They may not had much money when she and her Ate Cris were younger, but they had her grandmother’s memorabilia, and the house full of old furniture. Her mother wouldn’t dream of selling those hanggang kaya niya. Thankfully, and luckily, nakayanan naman nila. Everything in the house is to be passed on to the next generation, she said to them countless of times.

“Maya, anak, heto kinuha ko na iyong damit. Mag-ready ka na.” Nanay Tessie said with a big smile.

“Maraming salamat po Nay. Kayo po, anong oras po ba ang usapan ninyo ni Tita Ginny?”

“Naku, huwag mong intindihin iyon. Aalis na lang ako kapag nakaalis na kayo ni Richard.”

Maya took the dress and got ready for her and Richard’s dinner. She suddenly had this feeling of anticipation and excitement after she had put on the beautiful tea length dress which hugged her body, cinched at the waist by a cloth belt shaped like a ribbon, sleeveless and has a Sabrina neckline. The dress is really beautiful and timeless! She decided to style herself in a bun, similar to Audrey Hepburn’s hairstyle while she was going down the stairs, wearing a red gown and Fred Astaire, playing the role of the photographer Dick Avery, taking her photo.

“How do I look po, Nay?” Maya asked her mother when she returned to the room. “Hiniram ko nga po pala ang sandals ninyo na bagay dito.”

Teresita Dela Rosa, at first, was at a lost for words. Her daughter is very beautiful. Well she is, but she is doubly so in that dress and hairstyle. She looks radiant!

“Maya, anak, ang ganda-ganda mo! Bagay na bagay sa iyo iyang damit na iyan.” She finally managed to say. “Halika na at baka naghihintay na sa iyo si Richard.”

When mother and daughter entered the living room, they saw Richard, wearing a suit, staring out of the window. Hearing their footsteps, he turned and just gazed at Maya in astonishment and admiration. He gave her a bone-melting smile.

“Sweetheart, you look very lovely.” Richard finally managed to say, amid the fast beating of his heart. The reason why he was looking out of the window was because he was trying to calm himself. He was very nervous and at the same time excited about the evening ahead. Emman and Doris both called up while he was dressing, and assured him that everything is in place for his proposal.

Maya was also taking her fill of the man she loves. He looks so handsome and dapper in his pale blue suit and maroon shirt! He is dashing! “You look so guapo naman, sweetheart.”

Richard smiled at the love of his life. “Shall we, sweetheart?” Then he looked at Maya’s mother who was very teary-eyed by then, looking at the two of them. “Tita Tessie, aalis na po kami ni Maya.” Richard looked at Maya’s mother and nodded.

“Nay, umiiyak po ba kayo?” Maya asked, noticing that her mother was teary-eyed. “Bakit po?”

Instead of answering promptly, Nanay Tessie hugged her daughter tight, then kissed her on the forehead. “Tears of happiness lang ito anak, I’m so happy for you and Richard. I love you anak.”

“I love you too, Nay. Thank you po.” Maya said, a bit puzzled at her mother’s action.

Nanay Tessie also hugged Richard tight. Richard whispered a ‘thank you’ to her. “O sige na, Maya, Richard anak, at kanina pa naghihintay iyong sasakyan niyo sa labas.”

When Richard and Maya went out of the house, they saw a vintage car parked in front of the house. “Dito kami sasakay ni Ricky, Nay?” Maya asked, surprised. She thought they would just take Simon’s jeep again or her Tito Fernando’s car. “May pa-service na rin na vintage car ang Casa Antigua?”

Before Nanay Tessie can answer, the driver of the car approached them. “Good evening po, Ma’am Maya, Sir Richard, ako po si Edwin ang driver ninyo this evening.”

Richard greeted the driver, and before Maya can ask more questions, he ushered her inside the car. They waved to Nanay Tessie, Manang Maring and a puzzled Mely.

“For you, sweetheart.” Richard gave Maya a big bouquet of sunflowers which he got from the front seat of the car.

“Wow, sweetheart, you are turning our unexpected evening to a very wonderful date. We are dressed up to the nines, and may vintage car pa na alam ko hindi naman kasama sa service ng La Casa!”

“I want this to be a very memorable evening for you, sweetheart, for us.” Richard took Maya’s hand, looked deep into her eyes, and said, “The best is yet to come sweetheart.” He raised her hand to his lips and kissed it. “I love you very much.”

“Sweetheart, memorable naman sa akin lahat ng evening na kasama kita. But thank you for this. I love you very much too.” Maya replied, her heart beating faster, the feeling of anticipation and unexplained excitement for the evening ahead, is getting stronger.

Richard didn’t let go of Maya’s hand and continued holding and caressing it as they journeyed to their destination, to a night to remember, a night to tell their children, and grandchildren.

 

Note: Happy long weekend to those in PH! Sorry, natagalan ang update ng OTSWYL! 🙂

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On The Street Where You Live – Chapter 21

Chapter 21

“Maya, Richard, kain muna kayo.” Nanay Tessie said when she returned to the living room, followed by Manang Maring, carrying a tray. “Nag-order ako ng paborito mong palitao, anak. Nagpahanda rin ako ng suman sa latik dito kay Maring, para matikman ni Richard. Richard, kumakain ka ba ng mga ito, pala?”

“Yes po, Tita Tessie. Matagal ko na pong gustong matikman ang mga paboritong kakanin ni Maya. Madalas niya pong makwento sa akin ang mga iyan kahit noong una pa lang kaming nagkakilala.” Richard assured Nanay Tessie. “Thank you very much po.”

“Hi Manang Maring!” Maya greeted their kasambahay, a distant relative, who also helps out in the restaurant. “Ako na po ang maglalagay niyan dito sa table.”

“Maya, natutuwa naman ako at nauwi ka ulit dito, anak. Ako na ang gagawa niyan.”  Manang Maring said. “Masarap kasama nitong suman at palitao, itong ipinahanda ni Ate Tessie na kapeng barako. Bagong giling lang iyan, galing sa kapihan ni Kuya Fernando sa Batangas.”

“Wow, ang sasarap nga ng mga ito, Nay, Manang Maring! Thank po talaga. Sobrang na-miss ko ang mga ito.” Maya said. “Ricky, si Manang Maring pala, kasama ni Nanay dito sa bahay, also katuwang ni Nanay sa restaurant sa ibaba. Manang Maring, si Richard po, boyfriend ko.”

“Magandang hapon po, Manang Maring. Maraming salamat po dito sa masarap na merienda.” Richard offered the older lady a big friendly smile.

“Ikinagagalak ko po kayong makilala, Sir Richard. Walang anuman po, Sir. Tiyak pong magugustuhan ninyo ang mga ipinahanda ni Ate Tessie na kakanin.” The middle-aged lady said, then she grinned and looked at Maya. “Ka-gwapo naman nitong nobyo mo, Maya.”

“Siyempre naman, Manang.” Maya said, laughing.

Richard was also smiling. “Richard na lang po, Manang Maring.”

“O siya, maiwan ko na kayo, Richard, Maya, Ate Tessie.” Manang Maring said. “Ate Tessie, babalik na ako sa restaurant at baka marami nang tao roon. Para rin makapag-merienda na sina Melinda at Chona.”

“Ricky, kain na.” Maya gave Richard a plate with a big serving of palitao and suman sa latik. Then she gave the second plate she made to her mother, who told her while she was preparing it that she would only like a small serving as she was still full from the big lunch she and Maring had.

“Thank you, sweetheart.” Richard said. “Ikaw?”

“Heto, kakain na rin. Handa ko lang itong kape natin.” Maya said, pointing at the third plate, then made coffee for the three of them. “Wow, ang sarap nga. Grabe, Nay, na-miss ko ito talaga!” She exclaimed after she took her first few bites of the kakanin.

“Tama po si Maya, Tita Tessie! This palitao is very delicious, also this suman sa latik! I’m sure magugustuhan din ang mga ito ni Abby!” Richard said while enjoying his third helping of the delicious rice cakes.

“Ilang taon na nga ang daughter mo Richard?” Nanay Tessie asked as she took a sip of her coffee.

“She is almost eight years old po, Tita Tessie. Same age as Lance. I think nabanggit din po ni Maya na Abby has the same condition as Lance. Pero despite that, she is a very bright girl. Most of the time, she seems older for her age kung mag-isip!”

“Naku, Nay, may tawag na nga pala sa iyo si Abby. Sabi niya sa amin ni Ricky kanina, she wants to meet daw po Lola Nanay Teresita!” Maya told her mother.

“‘Lola Nanay Teresita’! I like that a lot.” Nanay Tessie smiled happily. “Nakakatuwa naman ang anak mo Richard. Please tell her, I’m also looking forward to meeting her. Sabik nga ako sa apo eh. Ito kasing nag-iisa ko na lang anak, eh, hindi pa ako mabigyan ng apo eh.” She teased her daughter.

“Nay naman!” Maya said, blushing and getting self-conscious, taking a big gulp of her coffee. “Ikaw talaga, mother.”

Richard grinned. He almost teased Maya and her mother about Maya and him giving her an apo soon. But he stopped himself, too soon, and Maya was already blushing. Instead, he said,  “She asked me po a lot of questions when I told her that Maya and I will visit you. Tapos nung nagpaalam kami ni Maya kanina, iyon ang sinabi niya. Matutuwa po iyon na makilala kayo and makapunta rin sa San Nicolas. Sabik po iyon sa probinsya.”

“Naku, next time, isama ninyo rito si Abby. I’m sure, she will enjoy going around San Nicolas.” Nanay Tessie said. “Maya, bukas ipasyal mo si Richard diyan sa mga tourist spot natin. Pero, baka nga pala, Maya, hindi mo madala si Richard doon sa ‘most romantic place mo’!”

“Bakit po Nay?” Maya asked as she was really planning on taking Richard there the following afternoon.

“Sabi kasi ni Fernando, may special event daw doon bukas. Nabanggit ko kasi sa kanya na darating ka at for sure, pupunta ka roon kasama nitong si Richard. Sabi ni Fernando, iko-cordon off iyong area hanggang tomorrow evening. Pero, baka naman sa Sunday, pwede na. Hapon pa naman iyong flight niyo pabalik. Richard, itong si Maya, favorite place niya iyon, iyon kasi ang lugar kung saan nag-propose ang tatay niya sa akin. She used to tell Cristina Rose na isang araw, madadala rin niya sa lugar na iyon ang prince charming niya. Hayon, alaskado siya sa ate niya parati.” Nanay Tessie narrated, laughing. “May pagka-romantic kasi itong bunso ko. Iyon namang panganay ko may pagka-pragmatic! Hay, nakaka-miss din ang ate mo Maya!”

Richard smiled and hid it behind the cup of coffee he was taking a sip from, upon hearing about the most romantic place. “Nabanggit nga po ni Maya ang place na iyon, Mukha naman pong it’s a very nice place and romantic since doon nag-propose ang husband ninyo. And yes, romantic po ang anak ninyo, which I like very much.” He added, gazing at Maya lovingly. maya flushed a bit.

Maya smiled at Richard, then touched his hand, affectionately. “Ganoon po ba, Nay! Di bale po, baka next time ko na lang ipasyal doon si Ricky kung may event pala roon. Madalas po bang may ganoon na doon sa ‘most romantic place, Nay? Parang dati, kami nga lang ni Ate Cris ang nandoon kapag namamasyal kami roon. Well, maliban sa ilan na nagde-date rin doon na nakikita namin!”

“Hindi. Actually, this is the first time na may narinig ako na may event doon! Nagtaka nga rin ako.” Nanay Tessie said. “Oh well, baka may nakakita ng potential ng place na iyon for an event. Maganda naman kasi, and relaxing.”

“Siguro nga Nay,” Maya replied, shrugging, then she remembered something. “Nay, pupunta nga po pala kami ni Ricky bukas ng umaga sa puntod ni Ate Cris, baka gusto ninyo pong sumama.”

“Sige nga, anak. After breakfast bukas, punta tayo sa kapatid mo. Medyo matagal na rin akong hindi nakakadalaw sa kanya.” Nanay Tessie said. “O kumusta nga pala ang work? Good thing also that you work with Richard also in certain days.”

“Naku, Tita Tessie, sobrang galing po na lawyer ng anak ninyo, and sobrang sipag. I’m saying that po as her client and not as her boyfriend.” Richard said smiling. “And as a boyfriend naman, I’m proud of her and what she had accomplished. Alam ko po na noon pa man pangarap na ni Maya na maging lawyer.” He added, looking at Maya with pride and love.

“Sweetheart naman eh.” Maya said softly, giddily, thrilled at Richard’s praise and his blatant show of love for her and pride in her achievement. “Thank you.”

Seeing this, Nanay Tessie felt giddy as well and really very happy for her daughter. “Thank you, Richard. When I went with Maya to her oathtaking, I felt very emotional kasi alam ko kung gaano katagal nang pangarap nitong si Maya na maging abugada, saka ang mga sacrifice at pinagdaanan niya para ma-achieve ito.”

“Nay, hayan naiiyak ka na naman.” Maya said. “Hala la, papangit ka,” she teased. “All behind us na po iyon. Dito na tayo sa present and sa future. Maayos na tayo, di ba?”

“Oo nga naman, anak.” Nanay Tessie said. “Pasensya ka na Richard at may halong drama itong pamilya ng girlfriend mo.”

Richard smiled. “Okay lang po iyon. I know what you meant. When Maya and I got together again, we had our share of heart to heart talk also.” He said, looking at Maya and both of them shared a smile of understanding.

The three of them continued enjoying their merienda until late in the afternoon. It was agreed also that they will have dinner at the restaurant with Maya’s cousins, Simon and Melinda and their Dad, also Doris’ father, Fernando, as all of them also wanted to meet Maya’s boyfriend and to welcome Maya back home. Maya and her mother updated each other on what had been happening to their lives the past weeks, while Richard mostly listened. He enjoyed listening to his girlfriend’s witty and animated kwentos. He joined in from time to time, especially when Maya told her mother about their trip to Tagaytay. Before the three of them knew it, several hours have passed!

“Nay, ako na po ang magliligpit nitong mga plate.” Maya said, when they realized that it was almost twilight.  Richard stood up to help him. But both Maya and her mother objected. “Dito na lang, sweetheart, samahan mo si Nanay.” Maya was then off to the kitchen, like her mother did earlier, before her mother can object to that to!

“Mana, talaga sa akin itong anak ko!” Nanay Tessie said, seeing a repeat of what she did earlier, her gaze on her daughter.  She turned, then looked closely at Richard and saw his serious expression. She also noticed that he seemed a bit nervous. She waited what he would say next.

Richard is indeed nervous, for he realized several minutes ago, that this is chance to talk to Maya’s mother alone. Knowing Maya, he knows she would wash the dishes herself instead of leaving it in the sink. He took a deep breath and then plunged in to what he wanted to say to Maya’s mother. “Tita Tessie, pwede ko po ba kayong makausap?” He started.

“Sure Richard.” Nanay Tessie said, puzzled as they have been chatting the past several hours, then her heart started to beat faster, realizing something, judging by Richard’s serious expression, she needed to be sure, though even if she has an inkling on what is this all about.” Tungkol ba sa saan iyon, anak?” She asked gently, and calmly after taking deep breaths too.

“I would like to ask for your permission po sana.” Richard said. “I would like to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage. Gusto ko po sanang mag-propose kay Maya.” He finished looking at Maya’s mother, waiting for her reaction.

Nanay Tessie smiled broadly at Richard, then gets teary-eyed. “Sabi ko na nga ba, Richard, iyan ang sasabihin mo. Nung sinabi mo pa lang na gusto mo akong makausap, kumabog na ang dibdib ko. Of course, oo ang sagot ko diyan. Actually, you and Maya are old enough, hindi mo naman na talaga kailangan ang permiso ko, pero maraming salamat pa rin, anak, sa respeto at pagpapahalaga sa akin. Pasensya ka na at medyo naluluha ako. Masayang-masaya lang kasi ako para sa inyo ng anak ko.”

“Thank you very much po Tita Tessie! Kaya nga po gustong-gusto ko na kayong makilala at makapunta rito sa San Nicolas para po makapagpaalam sa inyo. Dito ko rin po sana gustong mag-propose kay Maya. Like ten years ago, when I was planning to follow her here in San Nicolas, kung hindi po nagkaproblema iyong family ko, to declare my feelings for her and court her. Siguro po, nabanggit ni Maya na biglaan kaming umalis pa-China ten years ago. Nakidnap po kasi ang Mama ko and kapatid and my father uprooted us abruptly after that. Pero noon pa lang po, mahal ko na talaga ang anak ninyo.” Richard said, and Nanay Tessie can see in his eyes, how much he loves her daughter.

“I know po that Maya and I just saw each other again and we just started our relationship, but I don’t want to waste time na po. We have waited long enough. And I have never been surer of something in my life than the fact that I want to spend the rest of my life with her. She is my forever.” He added, his voice ringing of complete sincerity and conviction. “Nasabi ko na rin po sa Mama at Papa ko ang tungkol sa amin ni Maya and my plan to propose to her. They told me that they are looking forward to meeting Maya again as their future daughter-in-law. They have met her na po kasi, ten years ago. Both my parents are happy for us. But if not naman po, Tita Tessie, I would have stood by Maya.”

“Richard, I’m sorry to hear about what happened to your family. Nabanggit lang ni Maya sa akin na biglaan kayong umalis. I didn’t know na nakidnap ang Mama mo and kapatid. It must have been a very traumatic experience for your family.” Nanay Tessie said, understanding more about what happened in the past, then she continued, “Thank you, for loving my daughter so much. Iyon lang naman ang mahihiling ng isang magulang na katulad ko. Ang makita na magiging maayos ang anak niya at may isang taong magmamahal sa kanya, gaya ng nakikita kong pagmamahal mo sa kanya. Masayang-masaya ako. Both of you have my blessings! You two deserve to be happy after what the two of you had been through!” Nanay Tessie said emotionally. “Saka, ang swerte ninyo ng anak ko, natagpuan ninyo ulit ang isa’t isa after all these years. Welcome to our family, anak. Now I will have a son. I’m happy to have you as my son!”

Richard was touched at Nanay Tessie said. “I would be honored po to be your son.” He said. “Maraming-maraming salamat po ulit sa pagtanggap sa akin ng buong-buo.”

“Halika nga ditong bata ka.” Nanay Tessie said, standing up. When Richard reached her side, she gave him a big hug.

“Kailan mo pala balak mag-propose kay Maya? Sabi mo dito? You mean, bukas? Or sa susunod ninyong balik?” Nanay Tessie asked as she and Richard settled back again into their seats.

“Tomorrow afternoon po.” Richard admitted, smiling. “I made an initial plan po with Doris. Pero sabi ko sa kanya magpapaalam po muna ako sa inyo, then I will call her pagkatapos para if ever, i-execute na our plan.”

“Really!” Nanay Tessie said, though, not that surprised anymore.

“Opo sana! And I also need your help din po sana kung okay lang.” Richard said with a big smile.

“So, what, exactly, is your plan?” Tita Tessie asked, her eyes twinkling. She felt that this weekend is really going to be exciting and interesting. Mukhang pinaghandaan ng husto ng magiging son-in-law niya ang proposal sa anak niya!

Richard smiled at Maya’s mother, then told her what he was planning for the following evening, saying that he would like to give Maya a proposal that they can tell their children and grandchildren, something they will remember until they are old and gray. He would to make her very happy. When he was finished, Nanay Tessie’s face was wreathed in smiles.

“You really know my daughter and what she would like, Richard! She would be very happy with what you will do. Sigurado ako, sasagutin ka ng yes ng anak ko with that plan!” Nanay Tessie remarked, smiling happily, liking Richard’s plan, very much. “Mabuti at libre iyang si Doris. So iyon pala ang sinasabing event ni Fernando? Alam din ba niya na may plano kang mag-propose sa anak ko?”

“Hindi po. Si Doris lang po ang nakakaalam. Iyung dad niya po, ang pagkakaalam, may photoshoot for Doris’ magazine. She asked his help para ma-secure iyong place kasi friend niya raw po iyong mayor ng San Nicolas.”

“Yes, kumpare nga niya si Mayor Villanueva.” Nanay Tessie said, nodding. “So what would be my part?”

Richard told her what he would like to request from her, and when he was finished, Nanay Tessie said, “Consider it done, Richard. O siya, tawagan mo na si Doris, para ma-finalize na niya iyang proposal mo.”

Richard did that. Maya returned when he was putting his phone in his pocket. All she saw was her mother and Richard sharing a smiles. They seemed to have gotten along very well while she was in the kitchen and in the restaurant.

“Sorry, natagalan ako, Nay, Ricky.” Maya said as she returned to her seat beside Richard. “Pagkatapos kong maghugas ng mga plato, bumaba ako sa restaurant to check on Mely. I realized na hindi umakyat si Mely like she promised. Nawala na sa isip nating lahat. Hayun kaya pala hindi nakaakyat, may dumating na isang coaster na tourists. They needed all the hands they can have.”

“Hmmmm, bakit kaya hindi ako tinawag ng batang iyon.” Nanay Tessie said distractedly, gazing at her daughter.

“Hindi ka na raw po niya tinawagan kasi kaya na naman nila nina Chona and since bumaba na rin naman si Manang Maring.” Maya explained. “So what did the two of you talk about while I was away?”

With thay question, Richard and Nanay Tessie automatically shared a look and a secret smile. “Wala naman anak, nagkwentuhan lang kami nitong si Richard.”

“Oo nga, sweetheart.” Richard hastily added.

“O paano, maiwan ko muna kayong dalawa rito.” Nanay Tessie said, standing up. “Ipahanda ko lang ang dinner natin. Maya why don’t you show Richard to his room first, para makapagpahinga bago tayo mag-dinner.”

“Sige po, Nay.” Maya said, standing up as well. However, she ws surprised when her mother hugged her tight and caressed her hair, before she went to the kitchen.

“I’m glad you are home, Maya. I’m so happy for you.” Nanay Tessie said enigmatically. She escaped to the kitchen before her daughter sees her getting teary-eyed. She does not want to ruin Richard’s wonderful plan for the following evening. She thought she had managed to compose herself before her daughter returned, but the seeing her and realizing that her daughter is about to embark into a new chapter of her life, made her emotional.

Maya was puzzled at mother’s action, but before she can think much of it, Richard asked her if she would like to rest as well, before dinner or they will just stay in the living room.

“Halika, pahinga ka na muna, sweetheart. Ang aga mo pa namang gumising kanina. I’ll show you to your room.” Maya said.

“How about you, sweetheart?” Richard asked. “Rest ka na rin. Actually, I’m not tired naman. I would rather spend the rest of the day with you.”

“Hmmm, sabagay. I’m not that tired nga rin. Saka, sayang ang moment natin dito, limited na nga ang time natin sa San Nicolas, itutulog pa natin.” Maya said, then she smiled broadly. “Alam ko na sweetheart! Doon tayo sa likod. May azotea itong house. Parang iyong veranda sa bahay mo! We can have coffee while relaxing.”

“That’ sounds great! Halika doon na lang tayo!” Richard said, taking hold of Maya’s hand and intertwining it with his. “Fresh air and beautiful company, sounds like a wonderful plan, sweetheart!”

Maya and Richard took a detour to the kitchen, made coffee and cup in hand, the two of them went to the azotea. The place was full of plants, mostly roses and sunflowers, and there is a coffee table by the corner, overlooking a beautiful garden.

“Now I know where you got your love for sunflowers!” Richard remarked. “Mahilig din pala ang nanay mo sa sunflowers!”

“Yes, mahilig siya diyan, also sa roses. Mahilig siyang mag-garden din. See that garden below, si Nanay ang nagku-cultivate niyan. Diyan galing ang herbs na ginagamit na pantimpla sa mga food sa restaurant. Lahat na yata ng klase, nakatanim diyan, basil, oregano, parsley, may tomatoes din, eggplants at kung ano-ano pa.”

“That’s great! I think people would really come to a restaurant which serves good, fresh food, not to mention the very nice ambiance. My first impression about your restaurant is that it is very homey and warmth.”

“Yes, I agree. And the ambiance, iyan ang gusto ni Nanay na ma-feel ng mga kumakain na para lang silang nasa bahay, eating delicious home cooked meal with their loved ones.” Maya said.

While sipping coffee, the two of them chatted about food and other specialty restaurants in San Nicolas. From there, the topic switched to Abby, and Richard’s promise to call her. Richard called her. He put the phone on speaker so he and Maya can talk to the little girl together. Abby was happy to hear from there and asked them to describe where they were, also what they ate.  It was a nice chat. Maya and Richard stayed at the azotea until Manang Maring told them that they will have dinner in 15 minutes time.

Doris’s father was the first among the guests to arrive, followed by Maya’s Tito Rollie, Melinda and Simon’s father, and of course Simon who is Mely’s kuya. Everyone gathered at cordoned off area of Cristina’s and have a hearty dinner, punctuated by lively conversations, with all sorts of topics. Fernando and Rollie also drew Richard into a conversation about starting a new business, with Simon listening on as he would like to expand the family’s car parts stores. Maya, her mother and Mely also talked about the restaurant and additional food they can add on their new menu. After dinner, everyone moved upstairs and continued their chat over dessert and coffee. It was almost midnight when the impromptu party drew to a close.

“Maya, ihatid mo na si Richard sa room niya.” Nanay Tessie said as she and Maya took the plates, cups and saucer to the kitchen. “Iyong room na ginagamit ni Simon kapag nandito sa atin. Ipinaayos ko na iyon kay Maring kahapon. Check mo na lang if she missed something. Baka may kailangan pa si Richard. Tapos, anak, request ko naman na sa tabi kita matulog, please. Na-miss kita ng husto.” She added with a little lambing to her daughter. The truth is that she is also feeling sentimental, knowing that her daughter will get married soon.

“Sige po, Nay. I like that. Na-miss din kaya kita ng husto.” Maya said smiling. “Mauna na po kayo, linisin ko lang ang mga ito.”

“Naku, iwan mo na ang mga iyan. Maaga namang nagigising si Maring.” Nanay Tessie said. “Late na late na. Kayo nga ni Richard itong galing sa biyahe. Saka di ba dadalaw pa tayo sa puntod ng kapatid mo ng maaga.”

“Okay po. Balikan ko lang si Richard. Sunod na lang po ako sa inyo sa kwarto ninyo.” Maya went back to the living room. Richard gave her a loving smile when he saw her. “Sweetheart, halika na, I will show you to your room.”

Hand and hand, the two of them went to the room that Richard will be using while they are in San Nicolas. Maya opened the door to a room furnished in old wooden furniture, including the big bed with intricate carvings. Someone, she presumed Manang Maring, put his bag inside the room, except for the sling bag that Richard kept with him. Maya also checked the bathroom that adjoins the bedroom, being shared by another guest room, and saw that nothing Richard would need is lacking.

“Sweetheart, good night. Sweet dreams, my love.” Maya said with a big smile, then stood on tiptoes and gave Richard a light kiss on the lips. “I’m so happy that you are here with me, in the place where I grew up, meeting my mother and the rest of my family. This has been a wonderful day! I love you.”

“I love yoo too, very much, sweetheart. I’m very happy to be here with you. Finally, I got to meet your family. There’s no place I would rather be, than at this place, with you. Good night, sweetheart. More wonderful days, weeks, months and years waiting for us.” Richard placed his thumb on Maya’s chin, lowered his lips to hers and gave her a kiss that conveyed the intense emotion he was feeling at that moment. He stopped after a while as he knew that Maya’s mother is waiting for her.

The two of them shared a lingering look, a caress, another sweet ‘I love yous’, and another kiss before they parted for the night.

Maya instantly fell asleep after saying good night and I love you to her mother, more than 30 minutes after. However, Nanay Tessie on the other hand, was not able to do so. She looked at her beautiful daughter’s sleeping form with love. She took a trip down memory lane – from the time Maya was a little girl, so bubbly and sweet; to her teenage years, with her crushes and dreams; and to the grown-up Maya, so determined, beautiful and bright, and the sweetest daughter a mother could ask for. Now, she is about to embark on a new chapter of her life, a wonderful one, with the man she loves and who loves her very much. Nanay Tessie went to sleep happy, when she finally managed to do so. She kissed her daughter on the forehead and settled in beside her.

Richard also had a hard time falling asleep that evening. He was very happy. He smiled in the dark, excited and nervous! In several hours, he will be proposing to the woman he loves with all of him. When he managed to sleep, there was still a ghost of a smile on his handsome face.

 

Note: Have a blessed Sunday everyone! I can see that the sun is out and the weather is better from my place by the window, with a cup of coffee beside me, sitting cross-legged. Enjoying my quiet Sunday! I’ll write the next chapter in a while. I will post it as soon as I’m done, either this evening or tomorrow.  ❤

 

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On The Street Where You Live – Chapter 20

Chapter 20

“Good morning, sweetheart!” Richard said cheerfully when Maya opened the door of her apartment! “I brought breakfast for us. Since maaga pa, we have time to eat. Padala iyan ni Manang Fe.” He showed her the paper bag he was carrying. “And these are for you.” He handed Maya a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers.

“Good morning, sweetheart!” Maya replied, giving Richard a kiss on the cheek, trying to shake off remnants of sleep from her system! “Ang aga mo nga, Mr. Lim ah! Hindi ka talaga masyadong excited sa trip natin ha.” Maya teased. “Oh and thank you for the beautiful flowers. Parang espesyal na espesyal ang araw na ito, sweetheart!”

“Sweetheart naman, slight lang! Excited lang talaga. Our first out-of-town trip na tayo lang and sa place pa na special to you. And yes, not only this day, buong weekend, is going to be very special.” Richard said enimgmatically. He is indeed early. It was just seven o’clock in the morning, and their flight is at past 12 o’clock in the afternoon. If you only know, Attorney Maya Dela Rosa how special is this weekend for me. I hope you will like everything I have prepared. He grinned broadly at Maya, slung his arm over her shoulders and started guiding her to the dining room. “Don’t tease me na nga, let’s have breakfast.”

“Wait, wait, wait, hindi pa ako naliligo, sweetheart! Nakakahiya, twice mo na akong nakitang ganito. And where did you leave Joma? Nasa ibaba ba siya?” Maya asked. Joma was supposed to drive them to the airport for their trip to San Nicolas that Friday morning.

“Iniwan ko muna sa bahay. Naglakad lang ako papunta rito. Sabi ko sa kanya, I will just text him when we are ready to leave. Saka nasa bahay pa ang mga gamit ko. Naisip ko daanan na lang natin paalis. Maaga pa naman.” Richard replied, putting the bag he was carrying on the dining room table. “Sweetheart, you still look very beautiful kahit kagigising mo pa lang. You should know that. But knowing you, you would want to take a bath first. Okay, please do so, and get ready na for our trip. I will take care of everything.”

“Thanks a lot, sweetheart. You are the most wonderful sweetheart in the whole wide world.” Maya gave Richard a quick kiss, pinched his cheek lovingly, then said ‘I love you’ before heading back to her bedroom to take a bath.

Richard started preparing their breakfast. By now, he is very much familiar with the lay-out of Maya’s apartment. He had dinners here several times this week. If a talent for cooking runs in Maya’s family, owing to the fact that her mom owns a restaurant and her sister was a chef, then she too, has the talent, a lot of it. The food she made for him were all divine.

The evenings Richard has spent in Maya’s apartment were the highlights of his days this week. Since Maya’s car has not been delivered yet, Richard picked up Maya every morning. Normally they shared a breakfast on the way to work, and then he brought  her home in the evening, and they have their private moments before they part for the night. Maya stopped insisting to Richard that she can take a cab. On the days she reported directly to LAS, Richard and Maya even took a delighted Abby to school first before going to the office.

When Richard was finished heating the omelette and the bacon that Manang Fe packed, he toasted several slices of bread, and started brewing coffee. By the time he heard Maya’s bedroom door opened, everything was set.

“Wow, spoiled na spoiled naman talaga ako sa iyo, sweetheart.” Maya looked at the beautifully arranged dining table. He put the flowers in a vase and placed it at the center of the table. “Beautiful table setting, sweetheart, parang inspired na inspired ka talaga ha at masayang-masaya!”

“Of course, naman, sweetheart. I am, sobra, simula ng bumalik ka ulit sa buhay ko and especially noong naging tayo na!” Richard said, looking so handsome in his yellow polo shirt and a pair of well-worn jeans, holding the chair for Maya. “You are the love of my life, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa. I love you.”

Instead of sitting promptly, Maya interlaced her hands around Richard’s nape, caressed it gently. “And you are mine, Mr. Richard Lim. I love you very much.” She stood on tiptoes and locked her lips with Richard. His response was instantaneous. He put his arms around Maya and they shared a searing kiss. They were both breathing hard when they broke apart.

“Breakfast, sweetheart!” Maya smiled through her thoroughly kissed lips! “Baka mahuli pa tayo sa flight natin!”

“You are lethal kasi, Attorney.” Richard retorted, smiling at his girlfriend. He gave Maya a quick kiss on the cheek after he had seated her and before moving to his chair on Maya’s right side.

Maya served breakfast to Richard and the two of them chatted while they enjoyed their omelette, bread, fruits and coffee. Maya felt so happy at that moment. This is the second breakfast that she and Richard had shared in her apartment and it occurred to her that it would be like this everyday of their lives if ever!

Most of her colleagues knew already that Richard is now her boyfriend.  Ryan was the first to know, when he saw them holding hands at the lobby of RRMA, Monday morning after their trip to Tagaytay. Richard told him that he and Maya are in a relationship. Several RRMA employees, including Lindsay apparently overheard his declaration and by lunch, the news spread throughout the small firm.

Maya only found out to what extent when she surfaced from what she was doing around lunch and saw James by her door. He asked her directly if the latest office rumor is true, that the tiger of LAS is her boyfriend now. He even said that he know that it is her personal life, but he just wanted to confirm if he is ‘sawi’ na talaga. Maya laughed at James dramatics and admitted it. She does not think that James is that heartbroken. They still went to lunch as friends. They were joined by Ryan.

When Maya returned to her office, it was Lindsay naman who told her that she is kinikilig to know that ang guwapong-guwapong owner ng LAS ang boyfriend niya! Maya just shook her head and took everything in stride, good-naturedly. Anyway people were not mean, just curious, and most are happy for her and Richard. For sure, it has reached the ears of Attorney Reyes as well, but being the professional boss that he is, he didn’t ask her or tease her about it when they saw each other in the corridor, just greeted her warmly and asked how is she doing.

“Sweetheart?….” Richard asked, when he saw Maya staring off with a smile on her face as she sips her coffee. “Hello, sweetheart.” Richard waved his hand in front of Maya’s face.

“Oh, sorry, sweetheart!” Maya said sheepishly. “Seeing us like this, made me happy. Bigla ko tuloy naalala kung paanong ang bilis na nag-spread sa RRMA na tayo na.”

“That one, hahahahaha. Si Ryan kasi. But I don’t mind, sweetheart. Sabi ko na naman sa iyo, I will tell it to the world.” Richard said.

“Katulad na lang kung paano mo sinabi kay Liza!” Maya teased, smiling, remembering the scene at Richard’s office Tuesday morning.

When Maya and Richard arrived at the LAS office that Tuesday after taking Abby to school, the first thing that Liza saw when they entered the executive offices was their intertwined hands. She was about to shriek in delight at what she was seeing, but stopped herself, last-minute, covering her mouth instead to hide her kilig, kasi she thought that she might be jumping to conclusion despite her boss and the lovely attorney’s clasped hands.

Richard and Maya looked at each other, smiled, then when they were at Liza’s cubicle, Richard smiled at Liza and told her that, yes, he and Maya are in a relationship! He also thanked her for booking the tickets for him and Maya. Liza then smiled at the two of them and told them excitedly that she was very happy for the two of them. She didn’t notice that her voice was loud enough for the whole staff to hear! By the time, Richard and Maya made it to their respective offices, the whole LAS knew too that they are in a relationship!

“Hahahaha, ito talagang si Liza!” Richard remarked laughing. Richard had actually told Liza to buy lunch for all the staff that day, seeing that everyone was smiling when they looked at Maya and him when they were on the way out to have an early lunch as they had a meeting at one o’clock that afternoon. Everyone was in a happy mood as they worked! “I was just saving you from her grilling you know. You told me last Sunday that for sure, she will grill you.”

“True, sweetheart. Ikaw pa naman kasi tawagan mo siya on a Sunday just to book tickets, pwede namang Monday. But really, sweetheart, you are the sweetest! Ay parang sobrang sweet ka na, s’weetheart’, ‘sweetest’! Maya teased.

“Eh, why not, talaga namang sweet ako.” Richard quipped.

“Hahahaha, oo nga sweetheart. Halika na, get ready na tayo to go to the airport. Lakad na lang tayo pabalik sa house mo, instead of calling Joma and asking him to come here. I want to say goodbye to Abby. Tamang-tama since nandoon pa pala ang things mo.” Maya suggested. “Doon ka na muna sa living room. I’ll just tidy up the kitchen.”

“I’ll help you.” Richard offered, as he had done so in the past several times he had dinner here.

“No need na sweetheart, this time, I will do it. Ikaw na ang nag-prepare ng breakfast. Partners tayo, di ba? Here’s your coffee, off you go, Mr. Lim.”

“Okay, you are the boss, Attorney!”

Maya tidied up the dining table, put the left over food in the fridge, then placed the dirty plates to the sink. She started doing the dishes while humming, thinking that she was already alone in the kitchen.

Richard, instead of going to the living room, stood at the doorway, holding his cup of coffee, watching Maya went around the small kitchen with graceful movement, humming, lost in the task she was doing. He likes looking at her like this, he likes moments with her like this, overwhelmed by the sudden rush of emotion, he put down his coffee cup, then slowly crept to her, hugged her by the waist and kissed her at the nape.

“Oh….” Maya exclaimed, almost dropping the plate she was rinsing. She put it down and turned to face Richard. Richard was grinning at her, gazing at her! “Sweetheart! Ikaw talaga, kamuntik ko nang mabitiwan iyong plato! Bakit?”

“Wala lang,” Richard shrugged. “You looked so lovely while you were doing that. You sound very happy too. Ayaw mo ba?”  He asked, pretending to pout, “I’m hurt.”

“Sus, ikaw naman sweetheart, tampo kaagad! Alam mo na naman ang sagot diyan. Ginulat mo lang ako. O heto, para hindi ka na ma-sad.” Maya stood on tiptoes and gave Richard a kiss. As soon as their lips met, Richard deepened the kiss, which lasted several minutes.

Maya and Richard grinned at each other. Then Maya, put her hands on her waist. “Sweetheart, living room. Hala ka, kapag naiwan tayo ng flight natin, bad shot ka na kay Nanay. For sure, kung ano-ano na ang inihanda noon para sa iyo. Excited na excited sa pag-uwi natin iyon.”

“Okay, okay, I’m going na, sweetheart. Ayoko namang hindi pa ako nakikilala ng future mother-in-law ko, bad shot na ako!” Richard said, then grinning, he went to the living room, not waiting for Maya to react on his future ‘mother-in-law’ statement.

“‘Future mother-in-law’!” Maya repeated softly after seeing Richard’s departing figure. She felt a certain thrill in hearing that from the man she loves with all her heart and is hoping to share a future with. “May binabalak kaya itong si Ricky sa pagbisita namin sa Mindoro! Pero too early pa naman into our relationship for that.” Maya mused, then shrugged, went back to tidying up the kitchen.

Half and hour later, and with Richard carrying Maya’s small suitcase, they entered the living room of the Lim’s family house. Abby looked up from the cartoons she was watching and upon seeing Maya with her father, launched herself into her.

“Tita Maya!!! I’m glad to see you! I thought you and Daddy left already.” The little girl chattered happily.

Maya hugged the little girl. “Not yet, baby. Pwede ba naman kaming umalis nang hindi ako nakakapagpaalam sa iyo. Mamaya pa naman ang flight namin ng Daddy mo.”

“Thank you, Tita Maya.” Abby said, leading Maya to the sofa where she had sat before.

“Maya, I will just get my things.” Richard said, then when Maya nodded, he went to his room. He sat on the bed, opened his suitcase to double-check everything. Then he opened his sling bag and searched for a small velvet bag. He opened the box inside it and looked again at the ring that he is hoping would be on Maya’s finger from the following evening onward. He hopes she would like the platinum ring he had ordered from a well-known jewelry designer. He closed the box with a big smile on his handsome face.

“Ricardo, hindi pa ba kayo aalis?” Manang Fe asked when she saw him getting out of his room.

“Paalis na po, Manang Fe. Kinuha ko lang itong mga gamit ko. Si Maya naman, hayun nagpapaalam kay Abby.” Richard replied.

Manang Fe looked at her old alaga, smiled and hugged him. “Good luck anak. Masayang-masaya ako para sa iyo.” Richard had told her several days ago about his plan to propose to Maya while they are Mindoro visiting her mother. He also told Manang that he would like to ask Mrs. Teresita Dela Rosa’s permission first before he does so. The old lady was overjoyed with his news.

“Maraming salamat po, Manang Fe.” Hugging back the old lady whom he considers as his second mother. “Kayo na po ang bahala sa bahay.”

“Oo naman, Ricardo. Huwag kang mag-alala. O sige, lumakad na kayo at baka mahuli pa kayo sa biyahe ni Maya.”

The two of them walked to the living room, where they saw Abby in Maya’s arms, half-lying on her chest, as they watch the adventures of Dora the Explorer and her friends! Manang Fe and Richard shared a look, both thinking that Abby and Maya look like the very picture of a mother and daughter having a bonding moment.

“Sweetheart, let’s go.” Richard said by way of calling Maya’s attention.

She gave her a loving gaze, then faced Abby. “O baby, magpapakabait ka ha. Babalik din kami ni Daddy mo sa Sunday.”

“Yes po, Tita Maya. I hope I will get to meet Lola Nanay Teresita also in the future.” The little girl said.

“Lola Nanay Teresita….?” Maya asked, surprised.

“Yes po, di ba po, Nanay ang tawag ninyo sa kanya, and magiging grandmother ko siya, kaya Lola Nanay Teresita. I asked Daddy po kasi kung ano ang pangalan ng mommy mo Ate Maya.” The little girl explained.

“Oh okay! I’m sure Nanay will like the name your name for her. Sa bakasyon mo sa school, you can go to Mindoro with your Daddy and I to meet her or kapag nandito siya sa Manila, ipapakilala kita.” Maya smiled at the cute and super bright little girl before her, as Richard looked on, also surprised at what his daughter said. She did ask him all sorts of questions again when he told her that he and her Tita Maya are going to Mindoro to visit her mother.

“That’s a nice name for Tita Maya’s mommy, Abby.” He remarked, then stooped down and gave Abby a kiss. “Good bye, baby. be a good girl to Manang Fe and Ate Sabel. I love you.”

“I love you, Daddy. I love you, Tita Maya.” Abby said sweetly.

Maya gave the little girl a kiss too. Then she stood up and went to Manang Fe, gave the old lady a hug. “Hello po, Manang Fe! Good morning po.”

“Hello Maya!” Manang Fe said, touching Maya’s face affectionately. “Mag-ingat kayo ni Ricardo sa biyahe ah. Ako na ang bahala kay Abby.”

Richard and Maya, after several more minutes, left the house, with Abby, Manang Fe and Sabel, sending them off by the gate. Joma took them to NAIA Terminal 2 where they will take their flight to San Nicolas.

“So, this is it, sweetheart! Happy to be going home?” Richard asked as they settled in into their seats after their plane has taken off. He intertwined his hand with Maya’s.

“Oo naman, sweetheart. I’m really looking forward to seeing Nanay, and importantly, I will be introducing to her the love of my life.” Maya said sweetly. “Sweetheart, I’m so happy. Walang pagsidlan. Thank you for making me so happy.”

“Me, too, sweetheart. My heart is overflowing and I’m really looking forward to meeting your mother and being with you in this wonderful weekend.” Richard said softly, with a broad smile on his face, while caressing Maya’s hair. Ah, this is going to be the best weekend ever, Richard mused. I hope everything goes according to my plan. Richard pulled Maya closer to him. She leaned against his chest. They passed the time chatting about the things they can do while in Mindoro, with Maya completely unaware of Richard’s beautiful plan for her that weekend.

More than an hour later, they exited the San Nicolas Airport. Maya looked around, searching for her cousin Melinda. Her mother said Melinda will pick them up from the airport.

“Cuz, here!” Melinda waved vigorously at Maya from the side entrance of the airport. She met Maya and Richard halfway.

“Mely, nice to see you. Kumusta na ang makulit kong pinsan?” Maya said, hugging her young cousin whois  like a younger sister to her, instead of a cousin, then she looked back at Richard, took his hand. “Mely, this is my boyfriend, Richard Lim. Ricky, this is my cousin Melinda Dela Paz, Mely for short.”

“Hi Mely, nice to meet you.” Richard greeted Maya’s cousin with one of his bone-melting lopsided smiles.

“Hello po, Kuya Richard. Glad to meet you din po.” Maya’s cousin said, staring at her cousin’s boyfriend and thinking to herself how handsome he is and mukhang mabait! “Welcome to San Nicolas. Speaking of, tayo na po, kasi si Tita Tessie, kanina pa excited sa pagdating ninyo. Kung maiiwan nga lang niya ang Cristina’s today, feeling ko sasama iyon sa akin.”

“Sweetheart, you go ahead with Mely. Sunod ako. Ako nang bahala dito sa mga bag natin.” Richard said, so that Maya can chat a bit with her cousin.

“OMG, Ate Maya, ang guwapo ng boyfriend mo!” Mely whispered to Maya, after checking if Richard is just behind them, seeing him lagging a bit behind, she blurted out what she wanted to say when she saw her cousin’s boyfriend. “Wala bang kapatid, o kaya pinsan iyang si Kuya Richard na pwede sa akin?”

“Hahahaha, ikaw talaga Melinda, puro ka kalokohan. Pero I agree, guwapong-guwapo nga iyang Kuya Richard mo.” Maya said laughing giddily like her cousin. “Saka sobrang bait pa and wala na akong mahihiling pa. Kaso sorry ka, isa lang siya.”

“Hay, ako kaya kailan makakahanap ng ganyang prince charming.” Mely sighed dramatically. “I’m so very, very happy for you Ate Maya. I’m sure kung nabubuhay si Ate Cris, masayang-masaya rin iyon para sa iyo.”

“Thank you Mely.” Maya said simply, then looked at Richard, pointed at the silver car parked near the big acacia tree. “Mabuti, nahiram mo itong kotse ni Tito Fernando.” Maya told her cousin.

“Oh, alam mo naman iyang si Tito Fernando, para kay Tita Tessie and sa iyo, softie. Siya kaya ang nag-offer na gamitin ko na lang ito sa pagsundo sa inyo. Otherwise, gagamitin ko sana iyong owner ni Kuya Simon.” Melinda said.

“Talagang super nice naman iyang si Tito Fernando.” Maya said, as the cousins waited for Richard.

They loaded everything in the trunk of the car. Melinda insisted that the two of them sit in the back, so Maya can point to Richard interesting places in San Nicolas as they traveled to the Poblacion where Maya’s family home is. Half an hour later, Melinda stopped at a beautiful and well-maintained two-storey old house. The ground floor of the house, which would have been the ‘silong’ in the old days was converted into a homey restaurant, with a simple sign that says ‘Cristina’s Place’.

Teresita Dela Rosa who have been on tenterhooks, eagerly and nervously, anticipating her daughter and her daughters boyfriend’s arrival jumped a bit when she heard the car stopped. She took a deep breath then walked towards the entrance of the restaurant. Her first glimpse of her daughter’s boyfriend was him helping her out of the car, caressing her hand tenderly as if to reassure her that everything will be okay, and looking at her with so much love. Ay ngayon palang, hijo, pasado ka na sa akin!

“Nay!!! Maya exclaimed happily, when she caught sight of her mother standing at the entrance of Cristina’s. She ran to her.

Teresita Dela Rosa met her daughter halfway. “Maya, anak, good to see you! I missed you!” Nanay Tessie said, teary-eyed as she hugged her daughter tight. “Sa susunod nga ‘nak, baka pwedeng dalas-dalasan mo ang uwi mo kapag may pagkakataon.”

“Opo, Nay! Na-miss ko rin po kayo ng husto at saka itong bahay natin.” Maya said, then she looked up, gazed at Richard and silently beckoned him to her. When he reached her side, she introduced him to her mother. “Nay, ito nga po pala si Ricky, Richard Lim po, boyfriend ko. Ricky, ang nanay ko, si Mrs. Teresita Dela Rosa.”

“Ikinagagalak ko po ngayong makilala, at last, Mrs. Dela Rosa.” Richard said formally, respectfully. “Mano po.” He said as he took Maya’s mother hand.

“Richard, ako man, ganoon din. Mula nang sinabi sa akin ng anak ko na may boyfriend na siya gustong-gusto na kitang makilala.” Nanay Tessie said, smiling at the man who finally caught her daughter’s elusive heart. “Welcome to our place. Please call me Tita Tessie. Masyado namang formal iyang Mrs. Dela Rosa. At saka, teka, bakit nga ba, nandito tayo sa kalye. Tara sa itaas.”

“Sige po, Tita Tessie, ako na ang bahala dito sa Cristina’s,” Melinda said. “And Kuya Richard, Ate Maya ako na rin ang bahala sa mga maleta ninyo. Ipapaakyat ko na lang kay Bugoy. Sige, umakyat na kayo at ng makapagpahinga and merienda. Susunod na lang ako kapag dumating si Chona.”

Nanay Tessie, Maya and Richard thanked Melinda and they all went up to the second level of the beautiful house via a grand staircase at one side of the restaurant.

“Maupo muna kayo, Maya, Richard, mga anak.” “Nanay Tessie said. “Magpapahanda lang ako ng merienda kay Maring. And Richard welcome to our house!”

“Thank you very much po Tita Tessie, for having me.” Richard said simply.

“Nay, ako na lang po kaya, maghe-hello na rin po ako kay Manang Maring.” Maya offered.

“Naku, ako na, Maya anak. Ikaw nga itong galing sa biyahe. Samahan mo na muna rito si Richard. Pwede ka namang mag-hello kay Maring mamaya.” Nanay Tessie insisted, then before her daughter can protest, she was off to the kitchen.

Richard looked around the beautiful sala, filled with antique furniture, and framed photos of Maya and another girl, whom he presumed, is Cristina Rose. “You have a beautiful home, Maya!”

“Thank you Ricky. It was my mother’s maternal family’s ancestral home, passed on by my grandmother to my mother. It was an unwritten agreement through generations from that side of the family, that the houses passes on to the eldest female daughter. In the case of my mother, siya lang, kasi isa lang siyang babae. Iyong kapatid niya na mas bata sa kanya, iyong father ni Melinda.”

“It’s a very nice tradition.” Richard remarked. “Ensuring the continuous care of this house. I’m sure the women in your family love this house so much kasi well-maintained and very homey.”

“Yes, and it would have been passed on to my Ate Cris had she lived.” Maya said. “Bukas nga pala, can we visit her grave muna bago tayo mamasyal? Dapat kasi mamaya, pero parang mas okay bukas, para makapagpahinga tayo ng husto today and makapag-bonding with Nanay.”

“Sure sweetheart.” Richard assured Maya, taking hold of her hand. “Gusto ko rin ngang dumalaw sa puntod ng sister mo. Magpapakilala ako. Sasabihin ko na ako ang very lucky guy na sinagot ng sister niya.”

“Matutuwa iyon. I did confess to her before, in one of our e-mails I think that I’m crushing big time on this wonderful guy. I told her about you, kaya.” Maya revealed.

“Really, sweetheart! I’m glad to know.” Richard said, holding Maya’s hand. “I love you,  and I’m happy to be here with you.”

“I love you too, sweetheart. With you here with me, I feel so happy at the moment, wala na akong mahihiling pa.” Maya said, gazing at Richard. Richard lowered his lips to her, before he can stop himself and remember where they are. They shared a sweet kiss, broke apart smiling, and remembering belatedly that Maya’s mother would come back anytime.

Unknown to them, Nanay Tessie overheard a part of their conversation, and saw them sharing that tender kiss. She smiled. Ah love! She knew for sure that she had already met the man who her daughter will spend the rest of her days with. Her daughter’s forever! And as a mother, she couldn’t ask for more, she is very happy for her daughter!

 

Note: Happy weekend everyone! 🙂

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