A Lesson on Ownership

Courtesy of Facebook. Stuff like these used to appear printed on t-shirts or coffee mugs; now they've gone digital.

Courtesy of Facebook. Stuff like these used to appear printed on t-shirts or coffee mugs; now they’ve gone digital.

They have actually done something like that, dance in the rain that is. One November morning after her shift; he fetched her from Makati and in this bossy manner, told her that they are going to a mass in Antipolo (of all places!).

Alice asked Jonas what in hell gave him the idea that sane people can go up to Antipolo on a day when PAGASA just announced that a typhoon was brewing and the chances of rain was 100%.

Jonas kissed her on the cheek and told her to stop being a contrarian (for once) and go along with him.

I know you’re upset, she then announced. But why are you so affected that he died? The man was what 70 years old? And he had been sick for years! It would have come down to this sooner or later and you know it.

Alice you can be such a bitch sometimes. He sounded angry and she knew he was right. So she shut her mouth and looked out the window all the way to the church.

The sky was overcast, and it was obvious that in a few hours (or minutes?) it was going to rain. Despite the weather forecast, there were still a lot of people around the Church of Our Lady of Good Voyage — vendors of  religious relics and local delicacies, hawkers of suman  and kalamay and kasuy,  religious devotees and local tourists. Parking was difficult and a group of students were having their picture taken outside the church.

He took her hand; they went inside; the mass had just ended. The next one was about to start. They stayed through that one. The homily was about challenges to being a good Christian. Alice sang with the choir during the offertory (she liked the song and she knew the lyrics). Jonas went for communion; while Alice had to pass. Then the service was over and they were walking towards the car.

It was a cool morning. The sun was hiding; but the rain would not arrive. Yet.

Jonas’s mood was improving. He suggested that they walk around to see what the local market had to offer.

Grimy hands started pulling at Alice’s sleeve; a small girl was selling sampaguita garlands, “Please buy Miss. I only have this to sell then I can go home.”


Alice was too tired from her shift to be generous. She started to turn the girl away when her companion offered to buy the whole lot of flower necklaces being offered — all 50-pesos worth of it. The girl was elated and was effusive in her thanks.

“You are so sentimental,” Alice remarked, shaking her head.

“That’s what you like about me,” he retorted, smiling. “They don’t necessarily have to be useful, you know. The things we choose to own.”

“Then what’s the point?”

“Well, take my girlfriend, for example. Eighty percent of the time, she can be a pain the neck. But she’s nice to be around, and well, I like looking at her.”

That word again. That … label. Alice cannot let that pass. “You do not own me, get that through your head. I am not a bunch of sampaguita flowers.”

“Sure I do. And yes you are.”

And that … that voice! His voice; which was so self-confident, so sure of himself — this will not do, Alice thought. “You.Do.Not.Own.Me.” she told him. “I am my own person. Nobody owns me, least of all you.”

“For god’s sake, don’t give me that feminist bullcrap. We both know you don’t mean that.”

“Yes I do.”

“You don’t.”

“Do too.”

Alice realized how childish the conversation they have resorted to had become.

By this time, it has started raining. Small blades of water at first, then fat globules of raindrops. It sent the people around the plaza scurrying for cover. They were still standing there, Jonas and her. Like two gladiators who would not give up in their fight to the death.

And then he said, “Alice, honey, why are you so fucking scared of belonging to me? I own you, so what? You own me too.”






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