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3 Men Boys

1. Bapa Ibrahim

He came with my grandparents from Jolo, Sulu to Marawi City. They called him 'Jack of all trades.' He helped took care of me from 3 months old until I got introduced to Dialectical Materialism.

Bapa taught me to get up and brush dust off my chubby knees whenever I fell. I tagged along as he cooked, washed clothes, mowed, and did carpentry.

He drove me to my first day of school. Hair clip in place, pink dress, white socks and pretty sturdy shoes. "Just throw punches with closed fists," he said as we checked on the bullies.

He allowed me to sit close by and act as his assistant when the blade of his 'kalis' (kris) needed to be sharpened and he gifted me my first knife. He taught us how to prepare and gently slaughter lambs and goats. He showed us the best way to skin it and cut the meat into sections ready for cooking.

The best of him, he shared. He said that his only weakness is love and advised everyone to resist it. 2 wives and girlfriends in between. The fights between and amongst the ladies were legendary.

Always protective of me. He shoeed away and threatened suitors. Supplied me ample knives and paltik pistols.

He was most proud when he attended my graduation from Medical school. Later, he met and told my son that we are carbon copies at that age.

I lost him as I did some more growing up. And him, with alcohol.

See you soon, Apo Ibra.

2. Gerard GG

He was my brother's friend and ka-kolektib. By willful misalignment of fate, I became his secret-keeper and official sounding board. I took care of flowers for girlfriends in Manila. He became my unofficial protector, mentor in 'English composition' and instructor in target shooting. GG, generally took care of my lessons in urbanization and saw to it that I survive Manila, Caloocan, Navotas and Rizal. We shifted and walked the mountains and hills of Mindanao, too. Looking for ourselves and for some. mint green bridesmaid dresses for sale

He had a widow's peak and wore his hair long. Cooked delicious meals, wrote angry essays and thundered along with his frustrations. He cried easily, argued passionately with the signature 'buwa ng Ina mo!', apologised earnestly and loved us all.

He died and left us orphaned.
Just like that, he left us unceremoniously to fend for ourselves.

Hide, GG. Very well. We are coming soon.

3. Ibnu

He stems from my roots in Bud Pula, Jolo, Sulu. Unlettered, moroose. Angry and defiant. Maybe, the embodiment of a genetic familial predisposition to aggression and violence.

He takes a pathological pride that our people had a long history of being mondo, mga harat-dila, out-laws and rebels.

Tall, lean, fair, with a perfect set of teeth, beautiful face and elegant neck. Artistahin, guwapo. Long dark hair that falls below his shoulders. Eyes that pierces, mistrust and are bloodshot. From shabu and coctails of other illegal drugs.

He calls or send messages to check if we are alright and does not ask for anything. He greeted me on my birthday in May 2017.

His speech was slurred and he bragged of an 'armed struggle,' the usual vague claims. He said that he will fight against the parinta (government) of my Duterte and shall kill for his beliefs. Tried to reason but failed.

He teased and told me to come, identify his body and bury it if he dies.
"Because you are of my blood and you will know." I won't know, I replied.
I won't know.

When they left and were leaving, pieces of myself went and goes with each.

I whisper their names. My tongue heavy and locked with thanks and gratitude. Chest laden with worry. Willing myself to summon their caring presence.

So, this is why some folks look forward and are even rushing to their deaths. It is because the best of life's companions had gone on ahead.

Long ago, I made a pact with myself to only live beautifully, love stubbornly and fight alongside truth until that one last heartbeat.

Then, I shall meet them all. And there will be hell to pay. For leaving me so soon.