Dann Guzman

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Dann Guzman

Post  Dan Guzman on Tue Jan 11, 2011 11:49 pm

Daniel L. Guzman
2010-24631

Puerto Princesa's unseen

There’s always something about certain places that might make you feel at home. Whether it’s a relaxing vibe or a warm comfy breeze, that place will make you feel like staying there forever, or at least longer than you originally planned. Sometimes you don’t visit a place to lounge around and relax; sometimes you go there for an adventure.

Puerto Princesa is a city surrounded by nature’s beauty, where everything is just a few minutes away. I fondly recall going to places like underground rivers and lush virgin forests and remember seeing exotic animals roam about, somewhat exaggerated by travel brochures but nonetheless breath taking in its own right. It’s not the tours I remember, the walking around and the sight-seeing, at least not the sight-seeing on land.

Known for its beautiful forests and even more beautiful marine life, Palawan is a treasure-trove of natural wonders. Unlike most people who visit Puerto, I am lucky enough to experience its beauty both on land and its unseen treasures in the sea. Being a diver I saw Puerto in a different way. The colorful display of coral reefs and fishes that lived in Puerto’s waters was breath-taking to say the least. Every inch of its waters teeming with life; it was a busy, bustling, and beautiful city under the sea.

When I went out to Puerto bay for our first dive I thought that I would be going to the port and taking a boat out into the sea, just like everybody else. To my surprise we were at my dad’s friend’s house. I was wondering what we were doing there when my dad explained that his friend was given rights for guardianship of the mangrove plantation of the city. We had a sort of back door entrance into Puerto bay’s coral reef. To my amazement we didn’t need the speed boats my dad’s friend had, we walked to the reef. Apparently during low tide a pathway is revealed going into the bay, giving a scenic route in a mangrove forest towards the bay. The walk towards the diving spot was a privileged tour in itself. Being up close to the mangroves, seeing the life bustling about, the crabs spawning the small fishes feeding, was something truly remarkable and rare. I was amidst nature working, beauty blooming.

I finally reach the water, eager to see what awaited me, hidden in the sea of Puerto, the beauty that often goes unseen. The water is cold, but the weather is warm. This confuses my senses as half of my body is slowly submerging while the rest of it remains exposed to the warm air. Soon the whistling of the air vanishes and an eerie silence envelops me along with the cold water. I get my bearings and take a slow, deliberate three-hundred sixty degree turn and take my new surroundings in. As I turn, it is an explosion of color, every kind of fish I knew and didn’t know swam about making me dizzy with color. The corals were bright and big, like a city bustling with life. Each stroke I took was slow, relaxed, and natural, not wanting to leave this beautiful place. There were encounters with sea turtles and manta rays. Even huge schools of fish roaming about, like a giant wall following you around, casting shadows on the corals below. I was in a place where you moved not just forward, backward, left or right, there was up and down too. There were things above to go to and things below to dive deeper to. Color and life were vibrantly assaulting me from all directions, yet it wasn’t overwhelming, it was all welcome sights.

Alas I was only a mere visitor, permitted only by the amount of air borrowed from the surface to glimpse unseen beauty hidden in the sea. My time was up and I had to return to the surface. Treasuring each memory, I remember that I felt so at home in a place that didn’t allow me to stay for too long, keeping me longing, thankful for the borrowed time to visit something only a few people get to experience. Truly Puerto Princesa is a wonderful place where nature is literally in your backyard. Beauty just a stone’s throw away.
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Dan Guzman

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Game Day

Post  Dan Guzman on Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:27 pm

His heart was beating so hard. His sweat was all over his face and shirt, mixed with dirt and blood. He was catching his breath after he fired a shot. There was some contact with the opponent, a flurry of motions just before he fired; he was clipped on the lip, blood on his shirt as he wiped it off. He is on a battlefield, under the scorching sun, fighting for his alma mater.
***
Her ears are ringing, voices are echoing from the loud booms. Her heart feels the vibrations of every single sound. Voices are raised above all this, screaming and jumping about. Her are arms raised going about in all directions. She is a stand out in the field, her uniform different from the rest. She is a fresh breeze on a dusty, dirty day. Blood and sweat forgotten, screaming under the scorching sun, for her alma mater.
***
The referee whistles. A foul is called – the UP Fighting Maroons is playing their final qualifying game against UST and if they win they’re twice to beat for the championship matches – Gerardo picks up the ball and places it on the spot, adjusting the ball slightly, then visualizes his sweet spot on the ball. He steps back for the free kick and is preparing himself. The UST defense scrambles to make a defensive wall to help block the shot. The goalkeeper frantically shout commands to his defensive line and prays to God that He be on his side, knowing full well the power of Gerardo. Gerardo lines up for the shot, pulls back his leg, looks at the goal and fires like a cannon. The wind picks up and curves the ball. The keeper dives in vain, as the ball glides past him and into the net. The crowd screams as Gerardo runs across the field, celebrating a beautiful goal. Everyone is elated, another goal for the star rookie.
***
The referee whistles. The drums pound harder, Adrienne screams louder. She cheers “UP FIGHT!” at the top of her lungs. The words UP PEP SQUAD emphasized by her movements and her grace, her voice echoes beautifully across the field despite the noise and the beating of the drums. Her eyes gleam brighter than sun; she radiates a soft glow, her skin getting a light tan, her porcelain skin, blemished by the harsh rays. Her heart skips a beat, as the ball is placed on the ground. She is anxious, waiting for the shot. In a quick moment it is fired, she feels a gentle wind blow by, and then she notices the curve of the ball. She is jumping within moments, screaming at the top of her lungs. The drums blare louder, the crowd goes wild, the pep squad cheers with more energy, recharged by the goal.

In the moment Gerardo is running towards the crowd and Adrienne is cheering enthusiastically, their eyes met. For that one whole second the crowd around them vanished and the noise faded into the background, a low humming in their ears. She felt a beat in heart that wasn’t from the drums or the excitement of the crowd. He felt a surge different from the adrenaline pumping through his veins. In that moment they were worlds apart and yet connected. The moment ended and so did the game.

The next day Gerardo is a hero, every guy greets him with a high five or fist bump and all the girls giggle uncontrollably when he passes by. He is elated by the fame and the attention but still manages to pull of a façade of humility. He flirts with the pretty girls in his class, quickly forgetting them when he enters his next classroom. He proceeds with the same routine flirting and having fun. Indeed being a star player, of a different kind.

In the gym, Adrienne is in the treatment room after having a bad fall during training. Gerardo passes by for taping before training, unaware of her presence. She sees him and her heart recalls the flutter it felt during the game. He fails to see her because he is in a rush, quickly leaving the treatment room after he is done being taped.

“Silly, I shouldn’t feel such things for him. I don’t want to be just another goal for Mr. Star Player.” Adrienne muttered to herself.
She quickly brushes away the thought from her mind.
Meanwhile during football training, Gerardo jokes around with his teammates about the game and their day at school.
“May bago na akong target, chong!” Gerardo jokes.
“Pep squad na naman ba yan?” His teammate replies.
“HAHA! Oo naman, yung maputi na cute si Adrienne. Payag yun.”
“Grabe to, yung league goals mo singdami ng mga babae mo e. Hahaha.”
“Deins, chong. Mas marami!”
Just then the coach whistles and training resumes. Gerardo is thinking about Adrienne and her smile.
***
They meet again a day before the finals. Gerardo is walking along the Acad oval, after his coach had a brief talk with him.
“Gerardo, you’ve been having great games lately despite being a rookie. Pero championship na ‘to. Magmuni-muni ka muna bago yung game. Alamin mo yung mga dapat mo gawin. Visualize what it is that you want the most. The championship.”
When Gerardo recalled what his coach said, the image of Adrienne after his goal came up. He shrugged away the thought trying to concentrate on visualizing the game.

Adrienne is walking along the Acad oval when she sees Gerardo deep in thought. She smiles to herself but tries to keep her cool. She doesn’t want to seem like all those fan girls drooling over him. He looks up and sees her. His heart beats faster and he doesn’t know why, he never gets like this when girls are around. He manages to smile at her, fearing he’d choke up if he tried to say anything. She waves quickly and that’s all she managed. They pass each other. They won’t see each other until after the game.
***
Game day is upon them, UP has the twice-to-beat advantage. Everyone is pumped and ready to go. The match is heated, literally and figuratively. The sun quickly dehydrates everyone and the game is getting quite physical. It is down to the last 5 minutes, mere seconds if compared to basketball time. Gerardo is nervous as hell; it is down to the last minute. He receives a pass from the left side, he controls it, takes a moment, then shoots. The goalkeeper is taken off guard and it goes inside. A power shot unlike any other. The referee whistles. It’s over UP won. Gerardo runs towards the team’s bench and celebrates.
***
Moments before his shot, only one thing runs through his mind, Adrienne.
***
Later that night he will get the courage to ask her out. He is certain what he wants. Her. Only her
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Dan Guzman

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