He was a former classmate at The College. Let’s call him Vicente. We sat in the same language period. He wasn’t tall, had a near-shaven head and always wore this red cap. He had a serious, no-nonsense face. Once when we were about to sit a quiz, he asked if he could copy my answers. I said yes, with a laugh. Seeing I wasn’t convinced, he asked again. Little did I know that there was more to this Vicente than I imagined.
We were discussing capital punishment in class when our teacher asked the guy his views on the matter. Yes, he said, he was in favour of the death penalty. Why? ‘Para mabawasan yung mga nagkasala’ (to lessen the sinners). What was that? He repeated his answer in verbatim. Say what? ‘Para mabawasan yung kasalan’ (to lessen the sins), he misspoke. The whole class cracked up.
I would later find out that this unassuming lad was harbouring dark secrets lol. I was hanging round the computer room when the chair next to me was unattended. I got a birds eye view of the fellow’s academic record. I found out that this hombre had been taking subjects since the 90’s. He even had ROTC units on his transcript. To my great amazement, Vicente took the seat beside me and shielded his record from my prying eyes hehe I never suspected the lad had been around, but lots of students shift courses. I’m sure he had a reasonable excuse.
Speaking of the computer room, my classmate Marvin told me upon leaving that they blocked MySpace. ‘Wala nang makakaabalahan’ (there’s nothing much to do). Yeah, I guess they just take out all the good bits. Such killjoys!
A year later, I was hanging round Pag-ibig with someone, when out of nowhere I saw Vicente and his partner. I didn’t gave it much thought then, but afterwards I started wondering. They must be after a lump sum loan after years of penny pinching.
We meet new faces every day. While many are forgettable, some leave an impression, whether mighty good or godawful. It could be anybody, from the very rude checkout chick, or the very helpful receptionist. And Vicente? I’d like to think of him as a sort of Abel Magwitch, the anti hero in Dickens’s Great Expectations. Even though he’s likely a family man these days, I enjoyed the few moments I had as his classmate. He may not have given me an opportunity, we barely spoke, but he’s a unique character. Sometimes, that’s more than enough.