- I do have blogger friends way back 2006, and it's no surprise that I've been in contact with most of them online. Things have turned out to be a bit bleak since Thursday: a friend, L, died in his hometown in Cebu. Together with fellow bloggers who turned out to be workmates, I was able to visit him twice in the span of two months at the Makati Medical Center.
- MMC was like no other with the hospitals I've gone to in the past: it has fastfood chains, electronic hand sanitizers which operates just like those bar code scanners in the supermarket. L's room had served food during his birthday last November, packed with relatives and friends, the noise of the TV perched on a corner. There's a fridge, a working bathroom, and not enough seats to accommodate us. I sat with my workmates and asked how L felt, but with the situation, we couldn't squeeze out much about his condition: there's a surgery scheduled within the month, and that's it. Maybe it's a tumor, we didn't know. The word tumor was carefully omitted: just more check-ups, check-ups, check-ups in the middle of people eating barbecue, spaghetti, the usual fare. He said a friend gave him a book for his bedside table, something to make him feel optimistic. I forgot to note the author or the title. We rarely meet during blogger events as we belonged to different crowds (and age groups), but what I know about him is his being good-natured and very optimistic. An obligatory selfie with him tucked in bed, all smiles, around us white and sanitary. Then I went home to Bulacan, wondering. L didn't have any vice to speak of: no liquor, no cigarettes of some sort. At the elevator, my workmate knew it was work-related stress.
- Mid-December, one of my workmates was crying after learning about the cancer. The phone call declared it was, after all, cancer. Some rare form of it, he said when we met him, already transferred to a bigger room. The room didn't have as much visitors, and the TV wasn't as noisy as it should be, given the news. He is leaving for his hometown in Cebu after two days. Chemotherapy was an option, he said, but there's too much side effects. Maybe acupuncture will work. Until now I regret that I didn't have the courage to suggest him to resort to videoblogging his stay in the hospital--just like the old days. After all, videoblogging made him legendary in 2008. Maybe its effect would be therapeutic, even inspirational, as us bloggers love to say. I didn't have the courage as it might be taken negatively.
- Come Thursday last week, we learned about the news. It horrified me. On the way home to Laguna I couldn't sleep in the bus; I stared past the bus windows to the nightscape: empty fields, gas stations. Life is a fragile, fragile thing.
- Out of nowhere, M added me on Facebook. His wall post commemorated L, also his friend in the early days of blogging. M and I were close years ago: this was when I was sixteen, when drinking beer before playing DotA on the topmost floor of a computer shop in Anonas at 4AM felt really, really thrilling. I still have fond memories of those days, of having someone to talk to about college, which was then a subject of my curiosity.
- M disappeared in 2008. He never went online. He wasn't kidnapped, but he vanished nonetheless. To my surprise, it affected me at some point. There were very scarce information from him, and rumors had it that he was detained for a day for jaywalking; other rumors, which turned out to be true, located him in Mindoro, working for a mining magnate or a dam.
- He came back with a lump on his throat. The general practitioner, he said, didn't rule out the possibility of a tumor. After seven years, he's online on Facebook (he added me days after L died), rekindling some old blogger friends. It's evident that we have aged, that we have a lot of things to catch up about each other: I married last year, already had a one-year old in tow. I let him know my disappointment from long ago. Maybe he's a fair-weather friend, and that this was just one of his phases; pretty soon he'll be somewhere else, caught for jaywalking, or working on another project in some far-away province.
- After a day or so the specialist clarified that it wasn't a lump on his throat. Is this all about that lump? Is this just fear of losing contact with everyone: a last goodbye, a last click to Add Friend on Facebook? I am not so sure, but I can forgive him. We are thinking about meeting up in Makati, but what for?
- N is another dear friend from blogging. We have known each other since 2007, and had a meet up with him over falafel and shakshuka at Hummus Place in New York. In High School, there was this one night when depression hit me to the point that I blurted out a lot of things on Yahoo! Messenger, typing things away. It was a good release. It showed how comfortable I was with my online friends, that they were a chat away from everybody else.
- We met at Greenbelt last Friday with a couple of blogger friends over Jack Daniel's. (I also ordered a lychee martini.) He is spending two weeks in Manila and its neighboring regions, probably to get more tanned or pay homage to churches and Filipino food. Later on we went outside the restaurant and he confided his situation to me. It was a long story stifled by his ever shy disposition: back in September he had sexual intercourse without protection. Although he was very skeptic about the act, his partner, he said, insisted. Coughs and colds followed, and by November he tested positive in HIV, and is waiting for results in STD.
- We tried meeting up in Ayala Triangle but he stood up on me.