It was already dark when I arrived in Maya, the port bound to Malapascua, and a couple of bystanders were talking in a nearby shed.
Apparently, they were waiting for their clients to arrive from the city and among them was Dennis, who looked like Derek Ramsay on a good day or should I say after a few visits to the plastic surgeon?
No, this was a guy who had been through tough times but still manages to put a smile on his face. His laughter was so contagious, like a viral disease. Our comic skills were put to the test by the bystanders. This was a challenge I was willing to accept. I am a very serious guy but once in a while I can pull off a good joke. Well, after watching a few episodes from Comedy Central, you get the audacity to never back down. I’m starting to think that maybe I was a comedian in a past life. But, in the end it was a tie game. Guess what, it was all worth it. Dennis became my personal tour guide to Malapascua plus I got to eat like an invited guest to his humble home.
Fast forward a couple of months, I have been coming back to the island a couple of times now. I always stay at Dennis’ place, pitching my tent within his property.
As a matter of fact, we got to try out a simple Lechon business which didn’t work out since I was the one eating most of it. Laughs. Well, I’ll just charge it to experience.
More and more, our friendship had grown. We got to share our problems and experiences on a bottle of Emperador Light. I found out that their family was one of the most prominent in Malapascua a long time ago. The only boat that travels from Maya to Malapascua everyday was theirs. Everybody can ride on the boat for free. This was because his father was a big time fish vendor, and part of his daily tasks was to go to Maya to deliver his catch at least a couple times a day. His father’s business was so big that after a quick stop at Boracay for leisure, they even reach as far as Palawan to fish, muro-ami style, sometimes amassing a net revenue of a couple hundred thousand pesos on a single catch! He even shared a funny experience as part of the muro-ami trade when he saw a shark after a few minutes of diving. He swam and climbed on board so fast and was trembling with fear only to find out that it was a whale shark. Imagine the teasing and playful bantering from the crew.
Fast forward a couple of years, Dennis was now studying in University of the Visayas to become a seaman. Far from his family in Malapascua, he admitted to slacking off in school and engaging in illegal stuff, throwing his life away, causing his father to stop supporting him in his education. This was the start of Dennis’ hatred towards his father.
Enough of the bad vibes, let’s go into his love story. He met Ate Jean, a teacher hailing from Negros, lived together and produced two kids. Ate Jean quit his teaching career and became a massage therapist in Malapascua. Later in their married life, Dennis was given another big opportunity to work for an oil drilling company. All papers were ready, all dues were paid, and Dennis went to Manila for the final step only to find out that he failed his physical examinations. That was only one of many difficulties they encountered as a couple.
Now, Dennis is content with getting extra gigs being a canvasser and raising roosters for cockfighting competitions. Together as a couple, what they aspire in life is for their two kids to graduate college and find a good job. Even now with the kids’ academic achievements and determination, I believe that they are in for a bright future ahead.