BATU, Indonesia. Photo by Jes Aznar

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mang Rudy Marcelino, 52

This is a story of survival; of simply joys; of laughter; of tragedies; of overcoming one’s disability or weaknesses; of growing old; of songs belted out from the heart. But most of all, this is a story of real love and togetherness; of taking life’s punches holding hands and of having someone to share one's life with. 

Mang Rudy and me
By Amy Marcelino as told to Iris Gonzales

It was in the pre-departure lounge of the Cebu airport where I met him. The year was 1985. He serenaded passengers waiting for their flights or offered to massage their sored muscles. I sold them candies and other pasalubongs to take home.

We would talk in between flights or when passenger traffic is light.  He didn’t want to marry.  He said women would only break his heart. The altruistic ones would only be attracted to him out of pity, he believed.

But his biases and fears disappeared with the last plane that departed on the day we left Cebu. It was the end of our work in the airport but the beginning of our life together.

We went from one province to another, from one place to another, to earn a living.

We lived in borrowed rooms, in rented shelters to survive. We arrived in Manila in 2001. We went from one house to another.

Once, we were on our way home and saw smoke coming from our community. The shanties were razed to the ground including our space. We had to find another place.

Again and again, we moved from one place to another. We found a way to survive. We went around bars and restaurants to serenade men and women.

The GROs loved his voice. They would always ask him to sing, Maging Sino Ka Man. On good nights, we made P3,000.

He got sick. We spent the holidays at the ward of the East Avenue Medical Center.  

He is gone now. I’m not sure if I’m going back to our rented room. I still don’t know. Actually, I don’t know where to go.

(Photo by Jes Aznar)