Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies. –Ralph Waldo Emerson
“What a lovely Saturday morning!” Maya uttered with her arms wide open as she went out of the condominium building where she lives. There was a smile on her face.
There was heavy dark clouds boding that it will rain. Even the polluted air of the city smelled like the rain would come anytime soon. For Maya, it means it is a lovely day. Maya is a 28 year old, rich, single and available by choice.
Maya hurriedly cross the road unaware of an oncoming vehicle. Thinking that rains won’t drop any time soon, she wanted to reach her destination soon. She wanted to enjoy the weather.
“Beep… Beep…Beep” The sound of the oncoming vehicle.
“Ano ka, nagpapakamatay?” The driver shouted at her. The driver was upset. Any driver would be upset if there is someone who crosses the road especially if there is no pedestrian lane.
Maya seemed surprised that she literally stopped in the middle road. In her thoughts, “Muntik na ako doon , ah.” But she didn’t let the driver’s words affect her. Still, it was a lovely day for her.
After car passed by, she continued walking to the other side of the road. As soon as she was on the sidewalk, she got her phone from her bag. While she walked slowly towards her destination, she made a call.
“Ethan, saan ka na? Bakit hindi ka dumaan sa bahay? We need to leave for Baguio early. Ayokong ma-traffic ‘no.” She started telling the person on the other line. She waited for 5 rings before her call was picked up and so she was slightly pissed off when Ethan finally answered.
“Maya, alas otso lang kaya. Sa Monday pa ang meeting natin sa Baguio. Hindi kaya masyado kang atat diyan?” Ethan answere in a slowly as if he just woke up.
“Please understand. I was out on date last night. Therefore, I need to get the right amount of sleep first before we do long distance driving.”
“O sige Ethan, I’ll wait for you at my condo unit until 11:00 a.m. If you are not there on time, pwes mag-commute ka na lang. I will drive to Baguio by myself. Ayokong dumating doon ng madilim, okay?” Maya threatened.
“Huwag kang ganyan, Maya dela Rosa. Hindi porke’t ikaw ang boss ay mang-iiwan ka. Ang dami ko pa namang dala-dala. Alright, I will be there as soon as possible. Pero, bakit ang ingay ng background mo, nasaan ka ba?” Ethat curiously asked when he could hear sounds of vehicles and lively music at the background. He knew she was out somewhere.
“Nandito ako sa Salcedo market para mag-breakfast. Kung dumating ka ng maaga, eh di kasama sana kita dito. Sige, bye… see you later.” Maya turned off her mobile phone and entered the Saturday weekend market in Makati.
After 30 minutes, Maya can be seen eating barbeque and lasagna in a table. She was by herself which is typical sight since she broke up with her last boyfriend and that break-up was six months ago. She is pretty and rich but she was never into long relationships except for the last one that she had.
One time, Ethan told her. “Sometimes, you are stubborn and ma-pride. You have too many expectations from a man, that is why your relationships never lasted long enough for you to really build an emotional connection.”
Si Ethan James Carreon, is Maya’s best friend and executive assistant in her real estate brokerage firm.
“That’s not true Ethan. I have you.” She quickly replied.
“Maya, yung emotional connection na sinasabi ko eh iba sa atin, okay? Hindi tayo talo.” Maya understood what he meant and it hurt a bit.
Her friend uttered something that was partly true but there an underlying reason why she her relationships never lasted long, why she would be alone sometimes. She has not found her ideal man. But sometimes she also wondered what traits she was looking for in a man.
Maya continued with her breakfast while enjoying the background music; her favorite song of John Mayer and Katy Perry was playing.
♪♪You’ll love who you love who you love,
You’ll love who you love who you love.
My girl she ain’t the one that I saw coming
Sometimes I don’t know which way to go
And I try to run before but I’m not running anymore
It was probably because of the song she suddenly remembered her conversation with her parents two days ago. They were on the telephone.
“Maya, hindi ka bumabata. Bakit hindi ka pa nag-aasawa? Wala ka man lang bang ipakikilalang nobyo sa amin?” These questions were not new to her as these have been the usual question of her parents.
“Pa, hindi naman kailangan madaliin ang pag-aasawa. I’m still enjoying being single. I’m only 28 and besides I’m dating naman. Isa pa, there’s too much work in the office.” She argued back.
“You don’t have to work hard Maya. May negosyo tayo na kaya kang buhayin. May sarili ka ring kumpanya. It’s about time that you find a man with whom you can settle down and have a family. Gusto rin namang makalaro ang aming magiging apo.” Her father added.
And since they were on speaker phone, her mother joined in the conversation.
“Nak, wag kang masyadong mapili. Ang mabuti pa, kami na lang ang hahanap ng mapapangasawa mo dito sa San Nicolas. Maraming binata dito na available, mga anak ng mga amiga ko.”
“Ma, Pa, ‘wag n’yo ng pag-aksayahan ng oras ang lovelife ko. I can find my own husband.”
“Ano ba kasi ang hinahanap mo anak?” Her father asked.
“Eh, ano po… yung matangkad, gwapo, masipag, masikap, mapagmahal sa akin at sa pamilya, may paninindigan, mas mayaman sa atin, hindi manloloko, maipagmamalaki ko…” She was about to add some more but her father cut her off.
“Anak, masyadong marami ang requirements mo. Be realistic. Ang mabuti pa talaga ay kami na lang ang pipili ng mapapangasawa mo. Sa palagay ko makakahanap kami ng medyo malapit sa mga katangian na gusto mo.” Maya immediately knew that he will do what he just said. She knows him too well that he will execute his plan.
Maya has been brought up by loving and supportive parents. All her wishes were granted by them. However, there were times that when her parents made decisions, she wouldn’t be able to go against their wishes. Obedience to her parents is a value that was inculcated in her and she would be afraid to violate that.
While she was recalling that conversation with her parents, the different emotions she was feeling were evident in her facial expression. She remembered too that it was her parents who kept on telling to be careful when it came to choosing a man to be with. The man has to be someone who loves her for what she is and not her physical look or her future inheritance. So, the idea that her parents would be the ones choosing a partner for her was not acceptable.
In the absurdity of the idea, Maya slammed the table where she was eating. She made a decision. She needs to do something to stop her father’s plan. She doesn’t want to enter into an arranged marriage. It would be unacceptable to her but until she figures out what her action plan would be, she just have to enjoy her day.
Her attention returned to the background music. How she loved the voice of John Mayer.
♪♪That you’ll love who you love who you love
You’ll love who you love who you love, You’ll love who you love who you love.
Oh you can’t make yourself stop dreaming of who you’re dreaming of
If it’s who you love then it’s who you love♪♪
Maya’s attention was caught by a man laughing on another table. The guy had a deep voice and judging by the way he laughed, he must be into something funny. When she looked at the guy, she noticed that he was also looking at her with a smile on his face. He was with two other men but they were engrossed in their conversation and wasn’t looking in her direction.
Maya’s remained fixed on the chinese looking guy who was smiling at her. Then, he winked at her and then mouthed, “Hi.”
“Shetzzz.” Maya smirked. In her thoughts. “Ang presko naman nito. Hmmm.. mukhang hindi Filipino, maybe Chinese? Korean? Ano ‘to nang pi-pick up?” She felt the ambiance of the place changed and so she just decided to return to her condo unit.
She was clearing her table to throw away the plate and utensils she used when she heard a woman call out.
“Ricardo, ‘nak. Pakikuha naman ‘yung mga nakahiwalay na gulay duon sa van natin. Parating na sina Esmeralda.” An elderly lady shouted from a not so distant position.
“Opo, Manang Fe.” The chinky eyed guy stood up.
“Hmmp, Ricardo! lokal lang pala. So, he must be an assistant to the lady vendor.” Still in her thoughts.
“Presko!” Her eyes rolled this time when she saw him wink at her. It was the second time he did it so Maya decided to move out of her table.
Sunday in a bar at Nevada square, Baguio City
Maya was at the phone talking to Ethan.
“What? Grabe ka naman. May nakilala ka lang, indiyanin mo na ako? Gaano ba kaganda ang babaeng ‘yan?” She said in a raised voice.
“Maya, please don’t make me feel guilty. In the first place, I already told you over dinner that I am meeting someone tonight. You insisted on going there. I suggest that you just return to our hotel. Don’t drink too much.”
She took a deep breath after hearing her friend’s suggestion. “Never mind, Ethan. Don’t worry, hindi ako maglalasing. I will just enjoy the night as you suggested. Bye.”
Maya ordered again a cosmopolitan drink while enjoying the music at the bar. Her eyes roamed around the place and noticed that it was starting to get filled up by people. She noticed that there was a group in a corner that was having fun.
She recognized a familiar face in that group. One of them was the guy whom she saw at Salcedo market. She remembered him specifically because he winked at her twice which caused to evacuate her table.
Although the bar was dimly lit and the dancing lights affecting her vision, she knew that the guy was looking at her. Their eyes were locked and so she saw his figure slowly going towards where she was seated.
She turned around in an attempt to ignore him but her hearts beat nervously. “god…don’t tell me pupunta sa akin itong lalaking ito. No…please don’t…” She didn’t know why she was panicking but still she surprised when he spoke .
“Hi” The guy greeted her as he stood on the space beside her.
“Hello.” Maya responded formally. She glanced at him. Then, she faced the bar so she could finish her cosmo drink. She just told herself that she isn’t an easy girl to just hang around and befriend with just anyone on the bar. She planned on leaving the bar.
The guy started positioning himself on the stool beside her and even asked her. “Do you mind if I sit beside you?” He asked in English. She thought to herself, “so inglisero pala itong assistant ng vendor na ‘to.” Then, she recognized the question, it’s a pick up line. That line has been used to her before.
“Go ahead. It’s empty as you can see.” She was snobbish in her response. She finished her cocktail and waved at the waiter to ask for her bill.
“Paalis ka na? Kakaupo ko lang dito sa tabi mo ah.” The guy was grinning when he asked her.
Sa isip na mag-ingat sa mga lalaking hindi niya kakilala, nag-iba ng taktika si Maya. “Hindi naman, actually lalabas lang ako para tingnan kung dumating na yung friend ko.”
“Why don’t you just wait for your friend here. Let me buy you are drink.” Sumenyas ang lalaki sa waiter, itinuro ang glass ni Maya na ibig sabihin ay parehong order pa rin.
“I’m sorry but I don’t accept drinks from strangers.” Hindi napigilang sabihin ni Maya sa kaharap niya. Eto na naman, another pick-up style sa isip niya.
“Ok then, let’s introduce ourselves to each other.” He suggested. “I’m Richard. I remember seeing you at Salcedo market yesterday.” He offered his hand to Maya for a handshake.
Maya looked at him intently. She was right, he wanted to get to know her. She then realized that he had a cute lopsided smile. His chinky eyes and nose made him so good looking but probably dangerous. She wasn’t really into befriending men in bars so she didn’t take his suggestion seriously. She was familiar with his pick-up line.
She accepted the handshake. “Alright, I’m Hannah.”
Richard’s facial expression changed; gone was his smile. He suddenly became serious after Maya said her name was Hannah.