Ma, why does your cellphone have such an awful ring tone?” complained my son Arcus. I had to phone my maid so I could hear it. “Kahit walang ibig sa-bi-hin,” it screeched. No wonder no nice old gentleman calls me up!
I frantically hunt up the culprit—Globe 2332. But before I can text the number, I get another advisory. “If you don’t reply within 24 hours, your ring tone will be renewed for another 15 days.”
How do people land such pestilence in their lives? Did I ever refuse a beggar? Been cruel to animals? Call anyone names?
But there it still was, even if I had texted it to “STOP!” “Gusto mo pa ba?” it retorted, “Puede hanggang tatlong ring-back. Mamili ka: Call Me Baby/ Carly; Where Have You Been?/ Rihanna; Young, Wild and Free/ Snoopdogg; Call Me Magic/ Callae Rose. “More tones? Text. . .”
“Awat na!” I beg, “Stop na, please!” I will stop yelling at the jeepney drivers parking on my sidewalk. I will look for my own slippers. I will not wake up the maid to ask if I took my pills. Then, in my best English, I text a long sarcastic message to 2332 never to harass a poor 82-year-old woman this way again!
The phone texts back: You are subscribed to the following RTB (Who subscribed me in the first place!): You have two ring codes TX 852 Domino/Jessie J (P15); VD 297, Kahit Walang Ibig Sabihin.”
How to remove the darned tones! My tekki maid, Christine, has already left for Kuwait. I call the cook. She doesn’t know how. I call the labandera. She doesn’t know how either.
Finally I receive a text reply I can understand: Text STOP ALL to 3223. I text STOP ALL in big letters, then STOP ALL in small letters, then in caps and lower case. I text STOP ALL 12 times to drive home my point.
I get the answer—12 times!! “You are currently not subscribed to any RTB. Subscribe to Ringback instead. You wouldn’t want a boring ring-ring-ring would you?” I would, I would, I would! I promise to go to Mass every Sunday. I promise to….
But it still flashed five new choices of songs. Maybe that’s what it is trying to tell me. Leave it be! Don’t answer back. Rita Ledesma is right. Don’t have a cellphone! It’s nothing but unadulterated sorrow.
But then the phone rings again. It is Rafa, my grandson in New Manila. “Lola Mad, would you like to see a movie with me on Sunday?” It is music to my ears. “Yes, Rafa, of course, I do!” I say.
Franco, the oldest grandson who is beside me, texts Rafa, “Sama ako!”
“Sure!” Rafa replies.
“My brother Carlo,” says Franco, “has been wanting to see that movie since last week. Can he come along, Lola Mad?” I nod.
“What about Io?” I ask, remembering the middle brother, “Do you think he’s free?”
“Yes,” says his mother, Wendy, “I’m sure Io would love to go.”
Quinito, Rafa’s brother, texts that he will go straight from Tagaytay where he is right now, and join us in the movie house. The two apos next door hear about the outing on Sunday. “Can we join?” they ask. “Welcome to the parade,” I reply to Juaneo and Miguel.
“What about the two girls?” I ask. One is leaving for Norway and the other is lost in transit somewhere.
“So we’ll meet in your house in Panay for lunch on Sunday?” Rafa texts. It is a rhetorical question.
Frantically I text my neighbor-son, Mol. “SOS! Seven boys lunching here on Sunday!!” Make the food!!!”
That’s where Mol is our hero. “Okay!” he says without hesitation. “I’ll cook. What do you want?”
“Anything but lasagna,” I text back.
“I’ve decided to drive the three boys down from Antipolo and will join you on Sunday,” texts Wendy, “Add one more plate!”
“What about Roy?” I ask about the boys’ father. “He’ll be left all alone. Take him along.”
“Will do!” Wendy texts back.
“Two more people for lunch,” I text Mol. “Okay!” he texts back, unruffled.
He loves texting his menus with the flourish of a restaurateur. “I’m making taco corn chips; guacamole with cumin and fresh coriander; tomato salsa (from Gourmet Farms); slow-roasted pork ribs marinated overnight in coconut vinegar, garlic, orange marmalade and soy sauce. Freshly boiled sweet corn, Café Havana-style, flavored with cumin, chili powder and paprika rolled in shredded parmesan, coleslaw in sour cream; Mexican-style fried rice with chorizo, ham, red and green peppers, paprika, tomato catsup and tomato sauce. Dessert: fresh pudding.”
The boys clean it up. Inside the movie they eat popcorn, corn dog, French fries, ice cream, hot fudge sundae, caramel sundae and colas.
When we get back to Panay they are hungry again! We phone Mol.
Mol sends over a bandehado of pancit. I add a big dish of chicken afritada and two cans of corned beef. We run out of rice and ask for some more next door.
I want to examine the soles of the boys’ feet which I suspect have holes in them. But they are too happy talking and burping away. I hope they ask me to another movie next Sunday. I had a great day. I don’t know about Mol.