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! 🙂