Aug 1, 2014

I know a man... He puts the color inside my world | This isn't goodbye.

My brother is heading to Spain. I told myself to be rational and logical about this. I denied myself having to feel his departure as a coping mechanism but as the hours dwindle down and I realize how my time with him is ultimately running out like all the sand draining from an hourglass... I cannot help but be emotional. He's my brother, my protector and the one man I know who never ever hurt me... And here is a tribute for him...

"This is all that destiny will ever mean,
--A long voyage of despair.
A slow journey
of loving you more and more,
little by little,
bit by bit." - Enzo Ladrido

I can often be misread and accused of being a self-centered person but oddly enough, I was like Enzo's fairy. No matter how much he and I fought or how much he would piss me off, he always knew how to knead my Achilles heel to submission. There is nothing in this world I would not do for him. Seriously. And him likewise. I remember how when I was my worst ever, spending three hours under my table and considering taking up permanent residence in there with my trusty box of Kleenex only to survive with, he came into my door and told me how pathetic I looked and how stupid I was to allow anyone to get to me. He was like that really. Often the crusader for one's individuality, he preached of not giving a damn about what other people thought since it was only his opinion that mattered really- and this he applied to almost everything- from the countless rumors spilled about my character to the insults I've come across to, he taught me never to be self-conscious and how to be comfortable in even the most bizarre and audacious outfit choice totally unfit for the occasion (as always, I was overdressed). He just always squeezed my hand and reassured me that it's damned if you do and damned if I don't so I may as well do it in style. In any emotional roller coaster slash neurotic tidal wave attack, an unbreakable alliance was forged.

One time, when I battled countless stories told about me which were totally untrue and I cried to my brother about it over the cellphone. He was not at home and I was begging him to come to me before I breakdown or something. He arrived and bought for me the newest issue of InStyle magazine and a Zara dress while stroking my hair and waiting for me to calm down. I did. He had his NSTP Saturday sessions at school and decided that my Damsel-in-Distress moment was more of a pressing matter. He needed to be there for his sister, he told me. He did not leave me alone until he got me to drown to my throat one bowl full of rice. No one understood me like he did (one whole rice meal = end of neurosis attack and what could've been the start of what could have been three days of no solid food due to depression excuse I always had used) and I don't think anyone knows him as well (when he was a kid, he voluntarily gave our driver his first pair of Michael Jordan rubber shoes that was old yet held sentimental value for him since it was bought in Hong Kong after he searched for it for three days, since according to him, Mang Berto didn't have any shoes to wear when driving except his old flaky leather shoes). We bonded over people who hate us, food or lack thereof, family issues, Century Tuna cans, Viktor Jeans, fashion and tearjerker movies where one of the leading actors died. All things we loved and adored but are never attached to. I don't really want to delve into the details, those remain private not because of anything but we always felt that the heavy stuff was boring. He is leaving for Spain in a few hours, and I'm supposed to be writing a touching tribute for the 26 years of my only brother's poetic life but in the end, I realize, it just isn't us.

Actually it was not him, at least according to what I know anyway. He speaks seven languages- Banana Language, due to over-Kulasa exposure, included but the language he spoke most fluently was that of his zest and thirst for life,most popularly done when he would piss my cousin Nikki off by doing his rendition of who-who-na-ba-you-nan-there? delivered in the most ditzy manner possible or that famous Aba-Ewan-Ko saying uttered in perfect Scooby Doo voice impersonation. I never laughed harder than I did with him, and even thinking of him doing all those now makes me smile.
I once had a boyfriend whose clothes I utterly hated. To save the relationship, Enzo bought a luggage full of clothes from Hong Kong and helped me choose clothes that he knew would pass my standards for dressing. Only my brother knew me well enough to acknowledge that retail therapy can turn any 39.6 degree fever into just the sniffles. When Boyfriend No. 1 and I broke up, my brother slept the first two crucial weekend nights beside me in my queen-sized bed. We shared the comforter and all the six pillows and I was better. He was my only guy slumber party partner through all my 27 years. We were often rumored or mistaken as a couple in school which would make us squirm and puke in our mouths but that's just how we are as brother and sister- we don't slap each other or say mean things to each other in public. He still kisses me in the cheek to honor his ate when he walks by me in the corridor or in SJ walk despite being the among the most sought after bachelors in his batch. "When he gives attention to you, it's like the whole world shines on you." That was the effect of Enzo. Everyone wants to be with him. He is enigmatic, charismatic and eccentric enough to keep things interesting.

I've seen him through all the great loves of his life. Each with an operatic passion, each seemed impossible for one lifetime. But that is him, his heart is too big for this world. It is inspiring but it also leads many, including me, my mom and my sister Katie, to be protective of him. I call him Zo or Zoey. It's short for Enzo, that nickname I coined for him upon adolescence since his old nickname (and don't even ask him what it was) didn't quite fit anymore. He is my brother but in so many ways, he is like my capsule family. All the men from the family- father, kuya, baby brother put into one. He taught me so many things about loving people.

Once, when I did a simple favor from him, he told me, "I never know what to say, that's why I have a problem with thank yous; it's never enough." He was never used to being pampered or given any special treatment, he was always on the giving end. Receiving for him was always a problem. He always put people's needs, whether they were close to him or not, before his. I always thought it was odd and idiotic for him to do so but now I realize that it was the cynic pyrimidine in me. He always says that he was accustomed to pain and was an old soul. I truly believe that he was a soul like no other. I learned unconditional love from him. The love he gave to me that makes us all better people. That Enzo-ness (which is his name but with a -ness attached to it) as Dupree would refer to it. Last Christmas break, we decided to watch a sentimental DVD movie every night for the whole break and we stayed up until 3 a.m. crying. After doing everything from The Story of Us, to Serendipity to City Angels, during one of the final nights, we were watching The Notebook and in the middle of muffled sobs and teary eye ducts, he looks to me and says, "Don't tell anyone we do this okay?" We have our own set of private jokes that only he and I understand and get and we laugh without having to repeat it. I will miss that most. 

Everyone he meets he touches in some unimaginable and inspired way. With his presence, everyone else seems so small. Many times, he would claim that he is lost in translation, yet in some times I cannot help but think that maybe it's not him who's lost---it's us. Ironically, he used the title "Moments Forever Faded" for his tribute to his block piece... I'm glad he did...since in him, these moments don't fade...they are enough to last a lifetime.

“The very reason behind existence is for man to look for his purpose for living, then afterwards act, endure, suffer, love—and then live life endlessly.” – Enzo Ladrido

Mi dulce hermano, esto no es adiós. Esto es verlo pronto. Voy a extrañar mucho. Yo tengo la bendición de ser su hermana y que tú eres una de las personas más importantes en mi vida. Te amo. Estoy orgulloso de usted. El futuro que le espera...

 xx, JL

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