Any nerd who has ever put the words “what” and “if” together in a sentence would probably be pondering about the concepts of time traveling and alternate universes. I would know. I’m a nerd.
My fascination with time travel began when my Kuya told me stories about comics heroes from Marvel and DC. He told me about how Scott Summers was seduced by Emma Frost and how Jean Grey shat bricks and turned into this flaming hot babe named Phoenix all because of jealousy. (Disclaimer: Kuya told me this story when I was nine years old. Did this happen in the comics or was it a figment of my imagination?) But I digress. A few months later, he told me about another comic where Emma Frost failed to seduce Scott because Jean Grey travelled back in time and prevented it from happening.
At nine years old, I learned that it was theoretically possible to travel through time and that slutty bitches could push decent women to crawl into a portal and change the course of history. Or at least, not let their man sleep with conniving whores.
I’ve recently finished reading Stephen King’s “11/22/63.” The title refers to the date of JFK’s assassination. The novel is about this English teacher named Jake Epping who has a chance to go back in time via a portal that lands him in September 9, 1959. Asked by his cancer-stricken friend Al as a dying wish, he makes it his life’s mission to prevent JFK’s assassination.
What do Jean Grey and Jake Epping have in common? They each have watershed moments to change. A watershed moment is this major event in history that potentially is the prime mover of succeeding events. Think of dominos. Imagine every tile standing and carefully spaced between each other. And then one domino goes down. And another. And then another.
My watershed moment would have to be the first time I learned to sing the song “Enter to Prayer”. Kuya Puloy, our de facto Musical Director, wrote it while he was in Haggerty House, contemplating whether he should enter priesthood or not. (He didn’t.) Ate Afro was chosen to do the solo. I had always looked up to her because she had this angelic voice. Not only that, she also had the face of an angel. She was sweetly nice and every one listened to her.
I, however, had a unibrow and had no opinion of the world.
It was February 29, 2008. I was 15 years old and Yahweh’s Choir, the choir I was a part of, was one of the front acts for some famous rock band. It was a YFC event so it made sense that a choir would open for a band. I just don’t remember if the main event was Parokya ni Edgar or Bamboo.
Some members of the choir backed out hours before the event, including the Ate Afro. Kuya Puloy asked me to do the solo instead.
I was mind-blown. Imagine me, fifteen, with little to no self-esteem at all. Asked to do a solo at Limketkai Atrium filled with teens with raging hormones judging me from hair to toe.
I wanted to back out as well. Wouldn’t you want to run for the hills and hide for eternity in a situation like that? And then Kuya Puloy said, “Minsan, kelangan nating gawin ang mga bagay na ayaw natin para sa mga taong umaasa sa atin.”
And I did it. I sang on stage in front of at least a thousand people. It didn’t go as I would have wanted it. Nerves got to me and I hit flats and sharps along the way.
But I don’t want to go back to that moment.
Instead, I want to go back to October 31, 2013. Kuya Puloy was on his way home at three in the morning. When I go back to that time, I want to give him a safe ride home so he could rest his head on his favorite pillow and continue helping kids like me. Young people who need to face their fears and be the best they could possibly be.
On November 14, 2013, on my 21st birthday, he peacefully went to a better place. When I found out about it, I felt from the pit of my gut some sort of invisible string cut instantaneously. Instead of celebrating, I curled in my bed and gathered whatever cosmic powers I could muster and willed for a portal that would lead me back in time. But I couldn’t. Instead, I mourned the loss of a brilliant man.
At his funeral, I met people he helped break out of their shells, people who still continue to be the best they can be. Time travel? Maybe someday. Till then, his life will live on through the lives he has touched.
Mai Santillan is a freelance content writer. At the CDO Poetry Night on October 25, 2014, she read this piece as tribute to her personal hero, Paulo Javier Gener – the founding member of Yahweh’s Choir (renamed Our Lady of Fatima Singers).