I constantly have to remind myself that you are gone. I wake up every day to a world without you in it and I am heartbroken. I still ask myself to this day: “How could this have happened?” There is no answer.
Old-school journalists, that’s what we were. We worked in the papers when it was still cool for editors to work with cigarettes tucked in between their lips, smoking us, reporters, half to death. We were trained by ruthless creatures who scrawled ugly red marks on our typewritten masterpieces, breaking our hearts but making our insides that much stronger. We were guided by mentors who asked about the credibility of our sources and the integrity of our points of view. When we ourselves became editors, we were equally relentless, to others and to each other.
It is telling that one of the last exchanges we had revolved around a source for a story you were working on and our impressions of certain photographers. Because while there are a lot of photographers, we know that there are, unfortunately, only so many of them who are any good.
I will miss your writing. Your pieces are always so honest, so effusive, your words jumping out of the screen, breathing life to any subject. I could never create such seat-of-the-pants writing as I have been tutored by my Jesuit education to be always prudent and precise. I had to put that in because, you know, #UAAPSeason81. Mwahahaha!
We would have had laughed at that one, too, the two of us cheering from opposite sides of the fence. God knows it wouldn’t be the first time. But as we’ve proven time and time again, friendship goes beyond school spirit and politics and all that freaking s–t.
I realize that I’ve known you for more than half of my life, and oh, what a life it has been!
In our younger years, we went out almost every week, hopping from one Malate bar to another when that patch of Manila was the center of this earth. We sort of got kicked out of Hobbit House because management couldn’t take the reality of loud, rowdy females and sort of got picked up by younger gents, who we immediately pooh-poohed because we’d probably just end up paying for their drinks. Mwahahaha!
As the years went by, we took to having dinner at nice, well-lit places and replacing beer with wine. We deemed ourselves too old for scruffy looking joints where we had to shout at each other to be heard. But even then, we were still rowdy, irreverent and, well, ourselves. People never really change.
What I like most though were the in-between times, the in-between meet-ups when we’d exchange random messages and whatnots: when you sent me and boyfie snippets of your erotica writing, when we raved and ranted about the commercialization of motherhood, when we cheered each other on for our little victories and when we laughed! Oh, we certainly laughed and how!
So how do I say goodbye to a soul I’ve known for more than half of my life?
This is not one of those times when “move on” is appropriate. There is no moving on from your brilliance and your irreverence. There is no moving on from all the laughter and all the memories for to do so would be to obliterate some of the best of myself.
There is a difference between knowing and believing. While I believe there is a heaven, I do not know that there actually is. All I know is that it was a privilege and a pleasure to have walked on this earth at the same time as you did, Gina. And wherever you may be or wherever you may not, know that you will always be in my heart.