“And they called it puppy love. Oh I guess they’ll never know how a young heart really feels and why I love her so…”
– Donny Osmond
Flashback. Circa January 2009.
Maya and her classmates were fondly watching the basketball game held in Northwest Hills High School. They were celebrating the school’s 15th foundation day as well as its sports fest week. The Freshmen and Sophomores were rooting for the Juniors since it was said that their class has the best varsity players. The score was 52-48 in favour of the Juniors and there was only a minute left in the game.
“Go Bart! Go VJ! Go Mel! Go Juniors!” Everyone from Maya’s class cheered for their classmates. Maya gripped on the water bottle as the tension arose. She silently prayed for Bart to steal the ball and shoot for another score. Please, Bart! Pag na-shoot mo ito, MVP ka na!
5, 4, 3, 2, 1… And there you go! Congratulations, Juniors!
“Yes!” shouted Maya.
Miss Annie gathered everyone from her advisory class. “Good game! Ang galing talaga ng mga anak ko! Congratulations, Juniors! Namumuro na kayo ha. Namumuro na sa panalo!”
“Ms. Annie, since tapos na ang game, practice naman na tayo ng presentation natin for field demo, ha? Siyempre, gusto nating makuha naman yung trophy.” Emman, the class president, said while his classmates listened attentively.
“Emman, pahinga naman ng kaunti… Promise, onti lang, tapos, game na ulit tayo.Tutal panalo naman na tayo eh.” VJ, Emman’s cousin and classmate, was obviously tired from the game. He was very thirsty and even shared a bottle of water with Bart.
“Okay, sige, mga anak, ganito nalang para makarami tayo. Yung mga varsity, pahinga muna. ‘Yung hindi, aba, galaw-galaw bago ma-stroke, ha, mga anak.” Miss Annie stood up and escorted the varsity players back to their classroom. “Bart, VJ, Mel, at saka yung iba na nag-sub, pahinga muna sa taas, ha?”
“Yes, Miss Annie.” The boys replied.
Bart was still thirsty so he decided to look for a bottle water at the bench but he found none. Luckily, Maya was there. “Painom naman.”
Maya felt giddy about it, however, she was hesitant to give her water to Bart. Hmp, kung hindi lang talaga kita mahal eh. She said in the back of her mind while staring at him. “Ah, uh, yeah, sige ba.” She watched Bart finished the drink from her bottle.
Bart smiled. “Thank you.” He turned to Miss Annie to say something then proceeded upstairs.
“Huli ka! Kinikilig ka nanaman…” Liza nudged her best friend. “Naki-inom lang, lost in thought na ang peg?”
Maya frowned. “Hmm, inggit ka lang.”
“Ha? Ako? Maiinggit? Saan banda, ha aber?” Liza placed her arms on her hips.
Liza and Maya’s conversation was interrupted by Emman. “Position na everyone! Game na tayo para matapos agad.” Emman’s voiced echoed through the quadrangle, enough for the Juniors to hear it.
The next day, the Juniors were inside their classroom waiting for Miss Annie’s instructions before proceeding to their practice. Maya and Richard, one of Bart’s closest friends, sat together.
“Kamusta naman ang buhay, Maya?” Richard asked.
Maya gave Richard a high five. “Uy, Chard! Mabuti naman ako. Ikaw?”
Richard sat comfortably and placed his left hand behind Maya. “Mabuti rin naman.” He paused. “Grabe ano? Ang bilis ng panahon. Akalain mo ‘yun, third year na tayo.”
Maya fixed her necktie and ID lace. “Oo nga eh. Parang kahapon lang, elementary palang tayo. Tapos, in few months, fourth year na tayo. Tapos college.” She sighed.
“Anong gusto mong kunin?” Richard crossed his legs.
“Hmm.” Maya thought for a second. “Gusto ko talagang maging broadcasting journalist. Alam mo naman ang hilig ko. Halos lahat na ata ng chapel services natin since elementary, eh, naging emcee ako. Ewan ko ba. Pero ‘yun talaga ang passion ko eh. Ikaw?”
Richard faced Maya. “Well, everybody knows that I am musically inclined. So, probably somewhere along the line. Pero, pwede rin naman akong maging engineer.”
“Ikaw pa! You’re one of the smartest people in class kaya. Kaya mo ‘yan Engineer Lim!” Maya gave Richard a two thumbs up.
“Thank you, Maya.” replied Richard. “Eh, Maya, kamusta naman ang puso? Si Bart parin ba?”
Maya chuckled. “Oo naman.” Maya looked at Bart from afar. “Hindi ko nga alam kung bakit ang lakas ng tama ko diyan sa best friend mo eh. Kaya lang, puro basketball ang inaatupag.”
“Oo nga eh.” Richard nodded in agreement.
“Sana, maging katulad mo siya. I mean, maging focused siya sa pag-a-aral. Eh, good influence ka naman.” Maya pointed out. Richard was running for third honours.
“Mahal mo talaga siya, ano?” Richard remarked. Maya didn’t reply. Instead, she beamed sweetly at Richard in which the latter took it as a “yes”.
Circa July 2009. Last year in high school.
The school administration decided to split the juniors into two sections so that there would be a smaller class size per year level. Good thing, Liza, Edz, Emman and Maya were in the same section. Richard was also assigned to the section where Maya belongs. Miss Fatima, their MAPEH teacher, entered the room and laid out the plans for their upcoming first quarter examinations.
“Good afternoon class. In few weeks time, we will be starting to review in preparation for our first quarter exams. As you all know, a part of your test is to present a dance we have studied in class. Of course, graduate na kayo sa mga folk dances kaya this time, no need to be worried, we will be focusing on cha-cha, waltz, tango, and rumba. Isn’t that exciting? Last na ito mga anak. Sana ay pag-igihan ninyo and most importantly, enjoy. Any questions before I proceed?” When no one spoke, Miss Fatima carried on. “The list of the groupings is posted here on the board, as you can see. May I request the leaders to come forward and I’ll tell you which kind of dance you’ll perform.”
After speaking to Miss Fatima, Emman went back to his seat and talked to his group mates. “Okay, so ang na-assign sa atin ay, waltz.” Everyone groaned. They didn’t like the idea.
“Emman, waltz? Parang ang boring naman.” Patricia had a sad face.
“Chill lang, guys.” Kevin was trying to cheer up his group mates. “Pwede naman nating gawing exciting. Di ba, merong musical na nauuso ngayon sa isang foreign channel? Oh, edi may idea na tayo. Not totally na gagayahin natin, pero at least may idea na tayo kung paano natin gagawin.”
“Ah, basta ha? Hindi kasing boring nung second year tayo, ha?” Liza couldn’t help but to express her disappointment over their performance when they were still sophomores during the school’s field demonstration.
“I agree with Kevin. Saka para naman ito sa grades natin, di ba? Bonus points na nga ito eh, kasi papasayawin lang tayo. Ano, game?”
Everyone said in chorus, “Game!”
“Perfect! Okay, ngayon i-pag-pe-pair ko na kayo ha?” Emman grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and started jotting down the names. “So, ang partners ay, Patricia and I, Kevin and Liza, Almira and Peter, Reneé and Jezreel, Maya and Richard. All set na, ha?”
“Tara na practice na tayo!” Richard reached for Maya’s hands and everyone from the group started standing up.
“Let’s go! Galingan natin ha? Sana maka-perfect score tayo. Remember, last na ‘to! Let’s make the most out of it!” remarked Emman as he reminded everyone to keep focused and stay on track,
“Oo na boss.” Maya said in jest. “Ano, partner, ready na ba tayo?” Maya asked Richard while giggling.
“Ready na partner. Kahit na hindi ako masyado marunong sumayaw.” replied Richard.
Maya clung onto Richard’s arms. “Okay lang ‘yan. Di ba nga, sabi ni Emman, para sa grades natin ‘to kaya gagalingan talaga natin.”