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from the June 2020 issue

The Man with a Thousand Names

Ang Tawo Nga May Liboan Ka Ngalan

A man’s unusual tattoos attract international attention in this short story by R. Joseph Dazo.


The first question most of them ask when they see my skin is “Why?” I often respond with a smile. Sometimes, my face turns hot. I can’t figure out if I’m annoyed or embarrassed. When I try to answer, I stutter, unable to finish a phrase so that they’ll understand. My armpits dampen. My forehead sweats. How I want to say to them, “This is art. This has been part of our culture for a thousand years.” 

But perhaps it’s a waste of time to make them understand. “Of all the things you can put on your skin, why that?” I just laugh. “That’s OK, you’re famous anyway.” True, I’ve just received recognition from Guinness World Records as the man with the most names tattooed on his skin. Guinness also recognized Charlotte Guttenberg and her lover, Chuck Helmke, but theirs were skeletons and feathers. My tattoos, all names, were different. “What the heck, all names of people!” I could only nod.

This began when I decided to have John’s name tattooed on my shoulder. My love for him was immense. “You sure? On the shoulder?”

My answer: you’re the one I lean on when suddenly my world is heavy. Oh, yes, yes! I was young then. That’s why it’s awkward and corny now. After a few weeks, he broke up with me because his father caught us making love downstairs at their house.

Incidentally, my next boyfriend was Mark. He went to the Cebu State College of Science and Technology, studying for a Bachelor of Secondary Education. I took the same degree because I wanted us close to each other.

“What’s your full name, Mark?” His answer after chewing on pulled pig fat: “John Mark Pepito. Why?” I smiled, and when I got home, I stopped by my friend’s and added “Mark” on my shoulder.

John Mark got pissed when he saw my shoulder while we were at a motel in Colon. “You really had my name tattooed? Are you crazy?” I didn’t understand his reaction. It turned out he wanted to end our relationship because he had gotten one of our classmates pregnant.

They stopped going to college, while I continued without John Mark. Last I heard, he was running his parents’ stall at the public market.

Luckily, I soon met Kristoeffer, who was from Iligan and worked at Pier Three. He liked tattoos. He even showed me a tattoo of Mama Mary on his arm, but what really surprised me were the pellets on his dick. When he saw my shoulder, he instantly asked me who John Mark was. I didn’t answer right away, still brushing my teeth after sucking his cock. “Wait, let me rinse first.” He got mad, but I explained to him it was my father’s name. “I don’t want to forget him. Even if he’s already forgotten about me.”

“What happened to him, love?” said Kristoeffer. “He abandoned you?” I shook my head. “Papa John Mark has Alzheimer’s.”

He tattooed his name on my other shoulder. “So that every time you see your shoulder, you’ll think of the two men in your life. Your father and me.” I nodded. He didn’t know there were three men already resting on my shoulders. “Love, can I have a hundred? I need to buy briefs.” I handed him the money. After that, he stopped showing up. He returned to Iligan. 

I didn’t finish the degree in education because of my tattoos, and also because I dated a student while doing practicum at the Abellana National School. It was a big issue, so I took it upon myself to leave college for good. His name I put on my arm: Renato.

Then Andres, Mon-mon, and Frank were added on my skin. Afterward it was Cris, another John, a Jhon with “J-h,” a Kris with a “K,” a Chris with “C-h-r.” That was when I did away with the notion of finding a beloved who would carry on and remain by my side. I had my palm read by a middle-aged man outside the basilica after Khristian ended things with me.

“You’ll become famous and your name will make it on TV.” The man paused as if he’d seen something else on my palm with his microscopic gaze. “But you won’t be lucky in love and relationships. You’re doomed.”

“Is that so, Noy? Does it say on my palm, Noy, if I’ll win the lotto?”

“No, because you never gamble.”

I had the seer’s name tattooed on my palm: Roberto.

 

I didn’t have a hard time finding a job. Maybe it was because of my height and my fondness for jogging and playing volleyball that I was able to pass their qualifications. The only complaint they had about my body were the names I had tattooed. Again, I just smiled. “You may start tomorrow evening,” said the woman.

Menzone was over at H. Cortes Street, in Mandaue City. It’s open from nine in the evening until three in the morning. A cousin from Leyte had brought me there before. He’d wanted to explore Cebu, so we planned to go to a gay bar. At first, I was nervous because it was my first time. But in the long run, I enjoyed and was beguiled by the darkness and the bright, dancing disco lights. The naked models dancing in the midst of darkness and light became mysterious. Their bodies shone with baby oil and sweat. The models: Gabby, Yuri, and Cyril.

I hid my hard-on under my crossed legs. Thinking that beer would wash away the warmth I felt, I only got worse. The entrance fee of PHP 250 was well worth the one free beer. The night was mystical and untamed. Their theme was spot-on: “d big . . . BANG.” 

We spent most of the night there, and I got to chat with Mother Flower. She came up to me and introduced herself as a talent manager. She first appreciated and admired my height. “Tall kid. Nice stance,” she said after putting on her glasses. Right then I became interested in applying because one of their models had fallen ill. Pneumonia, I heard. College, which I’d left some time ago, had nothing for me to return to, and I also couldn’t find a proper job, so I tried out modeling. “What’s your name, lovey?” she asked.

“John Mark,” I blurted. Lied. But believed.

“How lovely your name. If you become a model, your name should be Marky.”

“I like that, Ma’am.”

Mother Flower winked. “Take care, lovey. Hope we see each other again.”

Productive. Maybe that’s the word to describe my time at Menzone. Performing on the platform with red balloons brought me joy, in the darkness and light, among the models before the gaze of the audience. The sensation was glorious. Many admired my muscular arms and the way the black sleeveless T-shirts fit on me. “It’s because I go to the gym with Kuya Enzo now.” But they complained again about my penchant for tattooing the names of the men I met. Yet I had more tattoos done: Cyril, Enzo, Gabby, and Yuri. My skin soon became like the pages of a newspaper. True, I didn’t love them, but they were like siblings. At one point in our time together, Cyril brought along a nurse while we were having drinks at Mango. The nurse invited us to an orgy. Each of us would get paid three thousand. He only wanted to watch us make love with one another. We didn’t tell our manager. We said yes.

“What do you want to eat, Marky?” asked Enzo.

“Whatever you want.”

“You.”

“What?”

“I want you.”

“Huh?” I didn’t understand how I felt. “You sure? Crazy-ass.”

We passed by the row of eateries. Slipped into the restroom. Our eyes met: Thirsty. Hungry. He ate me.

Afterward, I had Enzo’s real name tattooed on me: Luigi. He didn’t mind that I put his real name on my skin. “What’s you real name, Marky?” I answered the usual: John Mark.

“What’s your favorite food?” asked Enzo during the no-longer-inside-the-restroom date. “Whatever your favorite is.” I considered as favorites the favorite foods of the men I met: chicken lechon, braised pork, carbonara, sardines with egg, sardines with udon noodles, spicy sardines, balot, kwek-kwek 
. . .

“Do you like rap?” No. But, but I’d also like what they liked. “So you don’t really have a personal favorite song?” Not really. I go along with whatever they play. “I like Eminem.”

“I like Eminem too,” I said.

“Ngee. Copycat. You don’t have your own preferences. What’s your favorite color?”

I remembered Frank’s favorite color. I said, “Black.”

“Mine’s also black.”

“See, you’re also a copycat.”

After some months, Enzo left me for the nurse we used to have drinks with. I didn’t know the real reason. Maybe because of money. Out of anger, I had the nurse’s name tattooed, so I wouldn’t forget, on my ass: Kevin.

 

In four years I’d covered my skin with the names of all the men I’d known, encountered, adored, rejected, and above all, loved. Nobody wanted to hire me if the job required facing customers or clients. It was a good thing there was the BPO industry and I was able to work at People Support.

Sometimes I’d meet someone who’d ask: Do I know you? Aren’t you the boyfriend of Anton, Bernard, Carlos, Denver, Ezra, Ferdinand, Gelo, Henry, Jack-Jack, Kim, Leonard, Matthew, Nestor, Oliver, Prince, Quinton, Reniel, Sandro, Teejay, Ulysses, Victor, Winston, Xavier, Yael, Zeke . . . Aren’t you the one with the tattoos? Aren’t you the one on the news? The one featured on Jessica Soho’s program? You’re famous: Dong, Do, Bay, Kuya, Uncle, Uy.  

“Congrats on your Guinness. So famous now!” said Fred, my tattoo artist. His name was on my neck. “Seems like you want to add another name. There’s no space left on your body for another tattoo.”

“There’s still some.” I searched for a blank patch of skin: on my chest.

“Which guy’s name this time?”

This would be the very last time I was going to get a tattoo. I saw the same things: petroleum jelly, ink that would enter my skin, needle, tattoo machine, ink caps, soap, shaving cream, stencils, ballpoint pen, and others. Fred began to make an outline of the name. His right hand, the grip, and the left, tissue paper.

While Fred was busy, I remembered the slum book I filled out back in elementary. I wrote there my favorite things, from colors to food. My funny nickname. I even had a motto in life. Only God and I know.

Fred noticed the sudden smile. “What?”

“Nothing. I just remembered something.”

“About what?”

“About me.”

“Ha ha. You who were always being chased by your boyfriends?” said Fred. He was right, so I didn’t say anything more. “I don’t know about you. I remember how you’d come here crying, then you’d have their names tattooed. Now you really won’t forget them! Imagine, they’re on your skin.”

I laughed. “Embarrassing, isn’t it?”

“I don’t know. So, who’s this Jake?” He pointed at a name above my stomach.

“He’s a laborer at Mepza. He has a motorcycle. He brought me to Bantayan.”

“What about Amado?”

“He dreams of building a beauty salon.”

“Ruel?”

“That’s the blind man who used to massage me. Really good. I don’t know where he’s been assigned to.”

I was able to answer all of Fred’s questions. Not an hour later, he was done with the last name he would ink on my skin. I thanked him for his kindness. He didn’t charge a fee as a way to express his gratitude for our friendship of almost ten years. No one could match his service to me. A kind man. Really kind. I retrieved the plaque from my bag and handed it to him. The recognition wasn’t for me, but for Fred. He wept. I smiled. We savored the last moment of the very last time I’d tell him stories about the men I encountered over hot coffee and sticky rice.

I put my clothes back on. My skin throbbed. Before I left his space, Fred called out. “Whose name is that you’ve just tattooed?”

It took me a while to answer. First, I smiled. “My own.” 


“Ang Tawo Nga May Liboan Ka Ngalan” © R. Joseph Dazo. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2020 by John Bengan. All rights reserved.

Ang Tawo Nga May Liboan Ka Ngalan

KASAGARANG UNANG PANGUTANA sa mga tawo nga makakita sa akong panit kay ‘Ngano man?’ Sagad sad nakong tubag nila kay ang akong pahiyom. Usahay manginit ang akong nawong. Di nako matino sa akong kaulingon kon nairita ba ko o nauwaw. Kon mosuway kog tubag, magkangakanga ko ug di nako matiwas ang usa ka hugpulong aron sila mapasabot. Magbasa kalit akong ilok. Sington akong agtang. Kanindot itubag og “Art man kini. Parte na kini sa atong kultura liboan ka mga tuig na ang milabay.”

Apan, tingali, usik ra ang pagpasabot nila. ‘Unya sa kadaghan nga puyde nimo mabutang sa imong panit, ngano kana man gyod, uy?’ Mokatawa na lang ko. ‘Sagdi lang, sikat na bitaw ka.’ Tuod, bag-o lang ko nakatawat og Guinness World Records nga maoy labing daghang mga ngalan nga gi-tattoo sa panit. Lahi sad tong si Charlotte Guttenberg ug iyang hinigugma nga si Chuck Helmke nga nakadawat sad og Guiness, kay akoa, puros man ngalan, ug ilaha mga kalabera ug mga balhibo man sa langgam. ‘Ataya, puros god na ngan sa tawo!’ Mosanong na lang ko.

Nagsugod kini sa akong desisyon nga ipa-tattoo ang ngan ni John sa akong walang abaga. Dako kaayo akong gugma niya. “Sa abaga gyod?”

Akong tubag: ikaw man ang akong sandigan kon mokalit og kabug-at akong kalibotan. Aw, o, uy! Bata pa ko ato. Maong korni ug kiwaw pamation. Human sa pila ka semana, iya kong gibuwagan kay nasakpan man mi sa iyang Papa nga naghilawas sa ilang silong.

Tayming kay ang sunod nako nga nauyab kay si Mark. Nagtungha to siyas Cebu State College of Science and Technology, sa kursong Bachelor of Secondary Education. Misulod sad ko sa susamang kurso tungod niya aron dili mi layo sa usa’g usa.

“Unsa imong kompletong ngan diay, Mark?” Iyang tubag human niyag usap sa ginabot, “John Mark Pepito. Ngano man?” Mingisi ra ko ug sa pag-uli nako, nihapit kos akong higala ug gipadungagan og ‘Mark’ ang tattoo nako.

Nasuko si John Mark kadtong pagkita niya sa akong abaga kadtong misulod mis usa ka lodge sa Colon. “Imo gyod diay gipa-tattoo akong ngan? Wa ka nabuang?” Wa nako hisabti ang iyang reaksiyon. Kay diay, buot na siyang mobiya sa among relasyon kay nabuntisan niya among klasmeyt.

Miundang sila duha og tungha sa kolehiyo, ug nagpadayon kos kurso nga wala si John Mark. Las nakong nahibaw-an, iya gipadayon ang negosyo sa iyang ginikanan sa Taboan.

Suwerte kay nakaila ra dayon nako si Kristoeffer, nga taga Iligan ug nagtrabaho sa pier tres. Mahiligon sad ni siyag tattoo. Iya gani ko gipakita sa tattoo nga Mama Mary sa iyang bukton, apan didto gyod ko nakuratan sa bulitas nga naas iyang kinatawo. Ug kadtong pagkakita niya sa akong abaga, dali siyang nakapangutana kinsa daw si John Mark. Dugay sad ko nakatubag, tayming nanutbrush ko kay bag-ohay ra nako siyang gitsupa, “Taymsa, maglimugmog sa ko.” Una nasuko siya, apan ako siyang gipasabot nga ngan kini sa akong Amahan. “Di ko ganahan nga makalimtan siya. Bahalag iya na ko gikalimtan.”

“Naunsa diay siya, Langga?” ni Kristoeffer. “Gibiyaan ka?” Milingo-lingo ko. “Naay Alzheimer’s si Papa John Mark.”

Gi-tattoo niya iyang ngan sa pikas abaga nako. “May na lang, kada kita nimo sa imong abaga, makahunahuna kas duha ka lalaki sa imong kinabuhi. Imong Papa ug ako.” Misanong ko. Wa siya kaybaw tulo ka lalaki na ang nagpatong sa akong abaga. “Langga, gai sa tag usa ka gatos, bi. Pangpalit nakog brip.” Midunol dayon kos kuwarta. Ugma ana, wa na siya nagpakitag balik. Mibalik na daw siya sa Iligan.

Wa nako natiwas ang kurso nga edukasyon tungod sa akong mga tattoo, ug tungod kay nakarelasyon kog estudyante kadtong nag-practicum na ko sa Abellana National School. Dako kaayo to nga isyu, maong ako na lang ang mibiya ug wa na nagpakita balik sa tunghaan. Iyang ngan ako gibutang sa bukton: Renato.

Nadungag silang Andres, Mon-mon, ug Frank sa akong panit. Misunod silang Cris, laing John, ug Jhon nga “J-h,” laing Kris nga with “K”, Chris nga “C-h-r.” Didto na ko miundang sa ideya nga makakitag hinigugma nga molungtad ug mopabilin sa akong kiliran. Nagpahimad ko didtos may basilica sa usa ka hamtong nga lalaki human ko buwagi ni Khristian.

“Masikat ka puhon ug maabot imong ngan ug nawong sa TV,” mihunong ang lalaki daw aduna pay nakita sa akong pa’d sa morag mikroskopyo tiyang panan-aw. “Apan dili ka mamahimong suwerte sa gugma ug relasyon. Malas ka niini.”

“Mao ba, Noy? Way timailhan sa akong palad, Noy, nga makadaog kog lotto?”

“Wala kay di man sad ka mopusta.”

Ako gipa-tattoo ang ngalan sa Mananagna sa akong palad: Roberto.

 

WA MAN KO NAGLISOD pagpangitag trabaho. Tungod tingali nis akong height ug kay hilig man sad ko moduwag volleyball ug mag-jogging nakasulod ra sad kos ilang qualification. Ang ila ra gyong reklamo sa akong lawas kay ang mga ngan nga gipa-tattoo nako. Pahiyom gihapon ang akong tubag. “Puyde na ka magsugod ika ugma sa gabii,” sa babaye.

Ang Menzone nahimutang sa H. Cortes St., sa dakbayan sa Mandaue. Moabli kini sa alas-nuybe sa gabii hangtod alas tres sa kadlawon. Una kong nakasulod diri kadtong gidala ko sa akong ig-agaw nga gikan sa Leyte. Ganahan man siya mo-explore sa Sugbo maong nagplano ming mosulod sa usa ka gay bar. Gikulbaan ko ato kay pers taym lagi. Apan, kadugayan, nalingaw ug nadani ko sa kangitngit ug sa nagsayaw-sayawng hayag sa disco lights. Nahimong misteryoso ang hubong mga modelo nga nakigdungan og sayaw sa kangitngit ug kahayag. Ilang lawas migilak tungod sa nagsagol nilang singot ug baby oil. Ang mga modelo: Gabby, Yuri, ug Cyril.

Gitagoan nako ang utog sa paghinambid. Sa pagtuo nga makabanwas ang serbesa sa nanginit nakong pamati, misamot na nuon kini. Sulit gyod diay ang entrance fee nga Php 250 ug may apil na nga usa ka botelya sa serbesa. Kamahikanhon ug kamananapon sa kagabhion. Ayos gani kaayo ang ngan sa ilang tema: “d big…BANG.”

Gisulit namo ang kagabhion ug didto nako nakahinabi si Mother Flower. Giduol ko niya ug nagpaila-ila nga usa siya ka manager. Una niyang gitamod ug gidayeg ang akong height. “Taas nga bata. Nindot og barog,” matod niya humag sul-ob sa iyang anteyohos. Didto ko nagkainteresado sa pagpangaplay kay usa ka ilang mga modelo kay nasakit. Pneumonia ang akong nadunggan. Wa na man sad koy balikan sa kolehiyo nga hagbay ra nakong gibiyaan ug wa man sad koy tarong nga trabaho nga makit-an, ari na lang ko aning pagkamodelo. “Unsa imong ngan, Langging?” niya.     

“John Mark,” dali-dali nakong tubag. Namakak. Apan gituohan. “Kanindot sa imong ngan. Kon mahimo kang modelo, dapat imong ngan, Marky.”

“Ganahan ko ana, Ma’am.”

Dayon mikidhat si Mother Flower. “Ayo-ayo, Langging. Hinaot magkita ta balik.”

Produktibo. Kini tingali ang pulong nga akong masulti sa akong pagtrabaho sa Menzone. Adunay kalipay nga gihatag nako ang pag-perform sa bantawan nga dunay puwang mga balloon, diha sa kangitngit ug kahayag, diha atubangan sa mga mata sa tumatambong kuyog sa ubang mga modelo. Himayan-on ang pagbati. Daghan ang midayeg sa akong maskuladong mga bukton. Bagay daw kaayo sa among gisul-ob nga itom nga sleeveless t-shirt. “Nag-gym na man god ko kuyog ni Kuya Enzo.” Apan, didto na sad sila mingreklamo nganong aduna koy hilig sa pagpa-tattoo sa mga ngan sa mga laki nga akong makaila. Apan, gipadungagan gihapon nako akong mga tattoo: Cyril, Enzo, Gabby, ug Yuri. Ang panit nako padung na mahimong panid sa usa ka mantalaan. Wa tuod ko nahigugma nila, apan mora na nako silag mga igsuon. Sa tantong pagkuyog-kuyog namo, adunay gidala si Cyril nga usa ka nars sa among tagay sa Mango. Kining nars kay nangimbitar namo nga mag-orgy. Bayran daw mi tagsa-tagsa ug tulo ka libo. Ganahan ra siya motan-aw namo nga maghilawas sa usa’g usa. Wa namo gipahibaw ang among mga manager. Misugot mi.

“Unsa imong ganahan kan-on, Marky?” ni Enzo.

“Kon unsa say imong gusto.”

“Ikaw.”

“Unsa?”

“Ikaw akong gusto.”

“Ha?” Wa ko kasabot sa akong gibati. “Syur, uy? Buang.”

Gilabyan ra namo ang mga pagkaonan nga naglaray. Dali-daling misulod sa CR. Nag-abot ang among mga mata: Giuhaw. Gigutom. Iya kong gikaon.

Human ato, ako gipa-tattoo ang tinuod nga ngan ni Enzo: Luigi. Wa siya nasuko nga giapil nako iyang tinuod nga ngan sa akong panit. “Unsa diay imong tinuod nga ngan, Marky?” Mitubag kos akong naandan: John Mark.

“Unsa imong paboritong pagkaon?” ni Enzo kadtong dili-na-sa-CR-nga-dinner-date. “Kon unsa sad imong paborito.” Napaborito nako ang mga paboritong pagkaon sa akong mga nakaila: lechon manok, humba, carbonara, sardinas nga gisagolag itlog, sardinas ug udong, sardinas nga spicy, balot, kwek-kwek…

“Ganahan kag rap songs?” Dili. Apan, buot kong mahilig ang ilaha pong hilig. “Wa diay kay personal nga paborito nimo nga kanta?” Wala man. Mosabay ra kos ilang ipatugtog. “Ganahan kong Eminem.”

“Ganahan man sad kong Eminem,” tubag nako.

“Ngee. Sunod-sunod. Wa man kay imohang hilig. Unsa man imong paboritong kolor, bi.”

Nakahinumdom kos paboritong kolor ni Frank. Mitubag kog, “black.”

“Black sad akoa.”

“See, nagsunod-sunod sad gani ka.”

Pila ka buwan ang milabay, mibiya si Enzo nako kay mikuyog siya sa kadtong nars nga una namong nakaila sa tagay. Wa ko kaybaw sa tinuod nga rason. Tingali tungod sa kuwarta. Tungod sa kasuko, gipa-tattoo nako ang ngan sa nars, aron di ko makalimot, sa akong lobot: Kevin.

 

SA SULOD SA UPAT ka tuig napuno na nako ang akong panit sa mga ngan sa tanang lalaki nga akong nakaila, nakahimamat, nagustohan, nasagmuyoan, ug labaw sa tanan, gipanghigugma. Wa nay modawat nako nga trabaho nga kinahanglan ang pakig-atubang sa mga kliyente o kustomer. Maayo na lang gani nga adunay BPO industry maong nakatrabaho kos People Support.

Usahay, adunay makasugat nako og mangutana og: Kinsa gani ka? Di ba ikaw tong uyab ni Anton, Bernard, Carlos, Denver, Ezra, Ferdinand, Gelo, Henry, Jack-Jack, Kim, Leonard, Matthew, Nestor, Oliver, Prince, Quinton, Reniel, Sandro, Teejay, Ulysses, Victor, Winston, Xavier, Yael, Zeke…Di ba ikaw tong daghang tattoo sa lawas? Di ba ikaw tong gibalita? Katong na-feature sa Jessica Soho? Sikata god nimo: Dong, Do, Bay, Kuya, Uncle, Uy.

“Congrats sa imong Guiness. Sikata na, o!” sa akong tig-tattoo nga si Fred. Iyang ngan naa sa akong tangkugo. “Morag magdungag na sad kag ngan, ay. Wa naman koy puyde nga ma-tatoo-an sa imong lawas, uy.”

“Puyde pa man god.” Ako gipakita ang gipabilin nakong luna sa akong panit nga puyde pa tattoo-an: sa may dughan.

“Kinsa na man sang ngalan sa lalaki?”

Kini na ang kinaawihan nga higayon nga magpa-tattoo ko. Parehas gihapon ang mga butang nga akong makita: ang petroleum jelly, ang tinta nga mosulod sa akong panit, ang dagom, ang tattoo machine, ink caps, sabon, para barbas, mga stencil,  bolpen ug uban pa. Gisugdan dayon ni Fred ang proseso sa pag-outline sa ngan. Iyang tuong kamot, ang grip, ug sa wala, tisyu.

Samtang nagpadayon si Fred, nakahinumdom ko pagbalik sa slam book nga akong gi-anseran kadtong elementarya pa ko. Ako gisuwat didto ang ang mga paborito, gikan sa kolor hangtod sa pagkaon. Akong angga nga kataw-anan pamation. Aduna pa koy motto in life. Diyos ug ako ray masayod.

Nakamatikod si Fred sa akong kalit nga pahiyom. “Ngano ka, uy?”

“Wa, uy. Naa ra koy nahinumdoman.”

“Mahitungod sa?”

“Mahitungod nako.”

“Ha-ha. Ikaw nga pirmi gagukod sa imong mga nauyab?” ni Fred. Sakto man siya maong wala na lang ko mireak. “Ambot nimo. Kahinumdom nuon ko nga moari ka nga maghilak, dayon imo ipa-tattoo ilang ngan. Di gyod ka makalimot ani nila, ba! Tiaw mo nga naa sila sa imong panit.” Mikatawa ko. “Uwawa bitaw, sa?”

“Ambot nimo, uy. Dawbe, kinsa nis Jake?” Dayon tudlo sa usa sa mga ngan nga naas akong tiyan.

“Trabahante na siya sa Mepza. Adunay motor. Gidala ko niyas Bantayan.”

“Kinis Armando?”

“Aduna na siyay damgo nga magtukod og salon.”

“Kinis Ruel?”

“Mao nay mihilot nako nga buta. Maayo kaayo. Ambot asa na siya na-assign.”

Natubag ra sad nako tanang mga pangutana ni Fred. Wa kaabot og usa ka oras, nahuman na siya sa kinaulahiang ngan nga puyde niya mabutang sa akong panit. Nagpasalamat ko niya sa iyang kaayo. Wa siya nagpabayad kay himoon na lang kini niyag usa ka pasalamat sa among panaghigalaay sulod sa dul-an napulo ka tuig. Way makatupong sa iyang serbisyo ug pag-alagad nako. Buotan nga tawo. Buotan gyod. Gikuha nako ang plaque sa akong bag ug gidunol niya. Ang pasidungog dili alang kanako, apan alang kini kang Fred. Nakahilak siya. Mipahiyom ra ko. Gihurot namo ang nahibiling takna sa labing kinalasang pagsugilon nakog balik sa mga lalaki nga akong nakaila kauban ang init ka kape ug budbod.

Gisul-ob nako balik akong sinina. Nagngulngol akong panit. Sa wa pa ko kabiya sa lawak, gitawag kog balik ni Fred. “Kinsa nang ngan imong gipa-tattoo?”

Dugay ko nga nakatubag. Mipahiyom una ko. “Akong ngalan.”

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