Whenever I hear the word joke, I am always reminded of my very good friend Apit. His presence and his punch lines have become a part of our barkadahan. Without him and his jokes, our drinking sessions may lead to madness and mayhem as we have a penchant for ugly debates. If not, it may end up like a scene straight from an embarrassing melodrama. It is no wonder that when he is not around, it is not uncommon to hear “O hain si Apit? Gare baga seryoso kita.” His jokes have become legendary that there are times we would share his jokes as if he was the one cracking them. Pit, I have to give you a copy of this issue. For this you owe me a bucket.
One experience that Apit and I shared that I cannot and will never forget is during the typhoon Reming. Before the typhoon had its landfall in Catanduanes, I went to borrow some DVD’s from Apit, so I had something to do once the typhoon hit Albay. In the end my plan bombed as I ended up spending the night at his house. We watched six movies straight in a row with only a few blinks of our eyes in between them. As usual, we put our own twists on the movies, we copied the actors’ performances, and we ridiculed the acting and the costumes. We really had a blast.
The morning after our movie marathon, his mother who happens to be a respected professor in the university woke us up. She was panicking when she told us that Reming had landed in Catanduanes. Not for long, the wind became strong and it gradually increased as the minutes ticked by. Heavy rain poured. In no time, Legazpi was submerged in water. However, we remained as jolly as we were before Reming came, we did not let it stop us from cracking jokes. We even found ourselves laughing at the view from outside the windows. We seemed to be enjoying ourselves as the typhoon ravaged the city.
Friday, the day after the typhoon, we decided to get a glimpse of the destruction. I expected it since the typhoon was not ordinary. What I did not expect was the destruction was worst than I expected. I saw many houses that were totally wrecked, I walked on cakes of mud just to reach home, and I witnessed dead bodies hoisted from under piles of ruins. One barangay, Padang, was buried. The experience was chilling that I realized that the typhoon was no joke.
Days after the typhoon, aircrafts hovered above Albay. Trucks loaded with relief goods made the roads busy. Help from all over the world showered the city and the rest of the Bicol Region.
One thing that struck me most was that the smile I used to see on people’s faces was gone. They had forgotten to laugh. Nature stopped kidding and so did the people.
Like the jokes of my friend Apit, typhoon Reming lingers in my mind. It is so hard to forget, but it is too evil to be missed. If anyone sees it as a joke, it is a joke seriously meant.
Several months later, the smile on people’s faces has returned. People are smiling and laughing again. I guess that it is the love and the good values people shared to survive that have brought back the laughters.
Jokes will never fade. They will always bring back the smiles and the laughter. If we think of the typhoon now, we should smile not because it is funny, but because it has brought the Bicolanos together.
As the merry month of May looms ahead of us, we have yet another reason to smile and to laugh. The elections are here again. We have once again the time to laugh at the candidates as they dance onstage and as they lie in their political ads. At least, these politicians are giving us a reason to joke.
I just wish that Reming carried with her these politicians when she left.
(This work has been first published in a school paper of which I was the editor in chief then.)