Smile (Read P.P.S)

by joanabagano

They say that the first people you meet in a new place are the people you’ll always remember from that specific place. Quite agreeable, I think, because these are the people who will welcome you from your point of departure and witness your transition and probably become part of your destination.

I used the words departure and destination, cliches in the field of one of my first room mates in UP, Ate Cha. I never knew I had wanderlust until she showed me pictures of her trips to different places in the Philippines. One particular trip got me all giddy and excited because I knew that one day, when I’m finally free to go anywhere I want to go, that would be one of the first places my feet would set themselves on — Batanes.

She loved taking pictures and it was because of this that I am now able to have glimpses of my first year in university. Her photos are arranged neatly on her computer, each virtual folder with a date and a title. I realized that most of my first pictures in UP were taken by her red digital camera, each photo printed with a yellow date on the bottom right part, like this:

Jas and Joana Wacky Day c/o Ate Cha.

Ate Cha would carefully pile all of her readings in one class, not a single page missed, carry them to the bookbinder, and come home with the whole reading list in one piece. She would tuck the “book” in a corner near books of past classes, each book lined with gold as with all other bookbindings, and imprinted with a title.

That’s for future use, she would say.

I had always wanted to do the same whenever I would get relevant and interesting readings but I had only gotten so far as to compiling them. My willpower would end where Ate Cha’s would just begin.

Her readings and the folders on her computer’s desktop looked similar to her clothes cabinet. I frequently folded and refolded my clothes, hung and rehung them so my closet would look like hers but as King Solomon said, it was all a chasing after the wind. Ate Cha was the goddess of folding clothes and if there was anyone who could pull a shirt from a pile without as so much as leaving a crinkle in the other clothes, that would be her.


She was the only one who called me that in all of the UP universe.


Whenever I heard that syllable, my eyes would grow wide and I would expect a litany of words. Sometimes they would come, sometimes they would not.

I admire her frankness — how she would tell me that my area of the room was already a mess, how my shirt color was not good for my shoe color, how I seemed to be not studying at all. If there was anything to be admired, however, she would not hesitate to speak it out.

Jo, ang ganda ng pants mo. Gusto ko.

Jo, nag-aaral ka ngayon ah. I’m proud of you!


Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly

If happy little blue birds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can’t I?

She loved to sing but she never sang this song to me, only speaking its meaning every time I would try and fail.

Why can’t you, Jo? Kaya mo ‘yan!

Why can’t I be as tidy as you, Ate Cha? Ha-ha.

This is you!

Why can’t I?

This is me, sometimes. 😉

And if there is anything that this post would really like to say, it’s thank you and happy birthday, Ate Cha.

P.S. I wrote this for a date over coffee soon. 😉

We rule. \m/

Translate Esmale in English = smile. I can already see a smile forming on your face, Ate Cha. 🙂