It turned out to be the best Valentine’s gift from my husband, one who’s never a gift giver—unless books picked out sometimes and on no occasion at all and poetically dedicated count, as they very much do, to me; those sure beat anything money can buy. Well, he just did something atypical but thoughtful and on his own and on a proper occasion: He got us tickets to the Jon Santos show on the eve of Valentine’s Day.
Oh, how we need laughter so badly in these dreadful times, and no one delivers it with wit and humor and class like Jon Santos, our very own funny Valentine. From the very first time we watched him, we have wanted to adopt him. We love him to death!
I say that in all its original purity—well, what’s left of it after Pia Cayetano made the same exact vow of love for a misogynist and a confessed sexual abuser and definitely very strange and unfunny Valentine—Rodrigo Duterte himself. How can anyone love someone to death who hates what you are?
Anyway, for two hours we laughed heartily and had ourselves a real good time. With a light preshow dinner of Hainanese chicken at a Chinese restaurant two floors below the theater, our night was complete. Jon’s Melania Trump is amazingly, astutely, pathetically funny. But his “good” Duterte, turned virtuous after being hit by a bolt of lintik, heaven-sent lightning, is endearingly hilarious!
Confronted with the reality of EJK, the “good” Duterte asks in amnesiac innocence in that unmistakable voice, accent, and bogus-thinking pose, “EJK? OMG, that’s bad! I did that?” For a moment I was beginning to think I could learn to like this guy, until another hit restored him to his old, sick, foul-mouthed self again. With masterful mimicry, Jon made him funny both ways.
More comedians, less politicians
We came away convinced the world would be a better place if we had fewer politicians and more comedians like Jon Santos, who not only made us laugh, but also made us think and hope.
That night he also introduced us to Marissa Sanchez, a comedian (a Kris Aquino impersonation was an absolute winner) and powerful singer besides, and Eric Nicolas, whose humor worked in all its roughness and rawness and who surprised us with his rendition of “The Way We Were” à la Rico J.
Like the good audience we always strive to be, we arrived on time. Others trickled in well past the time the show was scheduled to start, and they got their deserved ribbing from Jon himself.
It was a celebration performance of his 30 years as a stand-up comedian. He had to have felt the love from the near full house in that enormous theater.
I had seen this act—without Vergel—the first time, in another theater, and somehow it seemed funnier with Vergel; in fact, everything in life always seems funnier in his company.
As soon as we had turned our phones on again, the perfect night ended. Texts came from various sources, a mail from Rappler, and a call from ABS-CBN, all about Maria Ressa’s “ambush,” as Vergel describes it. He would be on the air before 6 a.m. the next day commentating.
Back to reality
As if that wasn’t enough chilling news, I myself got a text from a dear friend who had suffered a bad fall. All the while we were laughing our heads off, my dear friend was at the ER getting mended.
How quickly we were brought back to reality, how quickly our smiles were wiped off our faces. All we could do was hold each other in the car, seeking solace from each other in common pain.
Without ever losing sight of God’s hand in everything, we’ve remained grateful that things had not been worse for both dear friends. Neither losing sight of God’s loving hand in the obvious arrangement for us, we were touched that we first had our Valentine celebration, getting the medicine in laughter to brace ourselves for it all.
Only earlier in the day I was rejoicing about my daughter’s positive medical test results. Life can be a roller-coaster ride sometimes, with so many unexpected dips, and it’s best to hold on to laughter and love: They make life bearable and make you confident there is nothing we cannot overcome!