EVERY February since 2015, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu hosts a love letter writing contest. The competition, anticipated and joined by many romantic and pensive Cebuanos far and wide, just concluded its fifth and final run last Feb. 9.
For this batch, instead of announcing one winning piece, three were selected by the panel of judges instead. The winning entries: two letters in Bisaya—a sweeping declaration of love done with tasteful poetic flair by writer Rome, and a charming confession by a man operating an elevator, Jessray—and one in English, where the writer delivered an emotional entry with a plot twist. Here is that letter:
It’s been a long time. Come here. Sit down next to me. Your favorite song is playing in the corner. Why don’t you turn up the volume? There is no need to ask me “how-are-you’s.” I know you can’t remember the person whose bed you slept in last night, other than a name that started with a K; how you exchanged your prescription of tiny pills for Vitamin C instead, after convincing yourself with, something in the lines of a healthy mind in a healthy body. I know that, too.
Claire, gritting your lying teeth will only make your mouth bleed. Stop telling your friends not to mix alcohol and caffeine when you dissolve instant coffee with gin in the morning. Stop telling Tinder matches that you love their pets, when all you can see is a messy blob of fur. Of course, Claire, there will still be people who do not like dogs, too.
Someday, somebody will see you beyond the lack of endorphins. They will watch you point and name the stars on Orion’s Belt. They’ll think, “interesting,” think, “I like her,” as you down half a bottle of vodka and start a long lecture on Socialism—in disguise of flirting. Here, a mask; a set of fins, and a person who will only let you down underwater to see schools of fish.
You will not be somebody’s mistake anymore. The hands that will hold yours will not be calloused from grasping another pair on their spare time. Your name means bright and clear, and from now on, the path toward love will just be like that.
Here, an altar of unanswered prayers for your aching bones. Fold your delicate knees and kneel on the grave of your sins. Repeat it like a well-rehearsed Rosary. But first, make the Sign of the Cross. “Someday, you will learn to love yourself. Someday, you will learn to love yourself. Someday, you will learn to love yourself.” Close your eyes and meditate on a long forgotten mystery. Repeat until it doesn’t sound like an echo anymore.
Someday you will learn—I understand—how to love yourself. Today, you will learn—as you grimace in the thought—that barely making the Sign of the Cross is already a progress.
Today is cozy and perfect for tea; maybe we’ll start with today.
Signed, always hard but will always try to love, Yourself. (PR)