A low-density residential enclave of the old rich with plants (e.g. Calachuchi, Macopa, Sampaguita) for street names. Flanked by NCCC Mall to the north, and the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Davao Grade School and High School to the east. The century-old Philippine Women’s College sits in its heart. Some of the streets are unpaved and will be muddy after a drizzle, and impassable after a downpour. Notable for its inoffensive domestic architecture, many of the houses are single-level structures, with wide front lawns, low fences, and grottoes of the Virgin Mary. A striking exception is the abandoned Ampatuan mansion (one among many), with its twenty-foot perimeter walls hiding its insides from outside view.
We met at a party at one of the lines of townhouses on D-Street. The facades were identical, and it took me two wrong tries – I didn’t know what the host meant by the third unit, whether it was third from the left or the right – before I got the house right. I buzzed and you opened the gate. I was greeted by your 5’11” wiry frame and wry smile. Your blue shirt was soaked in sweat from playing beer pong, and you took your thick black-rimmed glasses off, betraying your deep-brown eyes that only showed itself if the light hit your face. You led me to the host, grabbing my arm then letting go of it once you realized your slip-up. It didn’t take much to find her, with her long pink hair and chrome hoop earrings. She was leaving for the Netherlands and she invited all of her friends, which were mostly college freshmen and sophomores. I was the oldest one there, having been in university for over six years.
I couldn’t hear anyone through the electro music, but I couldn’t talk to anyone anyway. Everyone was engrossed in their own little worlds. A couple were playing Jenga, some were playing beer pong, yourself included, and the rest were just sitting on the giant plush couch talking (or at least trying to) to each other. Save for the host, I didn’t know anyone. I excused myself outside to smoke. I could hear you shout about something (probably beer pong-related) as I went out the door. I haven’t made up my mind about you. I wasn’t even sure if you were like me. Half a pack of Marlboro Lights and a mug of beer passed by, and I went upstairs to one of the bedrooms, looking for a quiet spot to lie down. A boy and a girl were there, your friends, also looking for a respite from downstairs. “Come here,” the boy said, tapping his hand on the bed. “Let’s talk.”
The boy majored in political science at Ateneo de Davao, the girl, interior design at Philippine Women’s. We were talking about things we had in common – music, movies, how we hated it downstairs – when you walked in. You were obviously drunk and the boy helped you to the bed. You said something about going home and not letting your mother find out before passing out. The boy removed your glasses and emptied your pockets – car key, wallet, iPhone – and placed everything on the side table. I grabbed your phone and thumbed through it. You had Hozier and the soundtrack to Across the Universe on your Spotify. I saved my number on your phone and placed it back on the side table.