NEARLY drunk to the gills and whooping it up in the wee hours of a Sunday in Dumaguete’s sun-peep strip—that stretch of rain tree-lined, brine-sprayed boulevard that looks out to Cebu and Siquijor islands—I had to turn down a local’s invitation to a parting shot of grog, something branded Vino Kulafu.
Besides, the ample thigh spread of seawater offered an invitation temptingly indulgent as sin. To that I gave in. Sweet surrender. Maybe it was the alcohol nudging me. It could be boyhood nostalgia buzzing like hornet’s nest, oozing out of one’s head and tugging at the heart like an insistent craving for sweetish colostrum. Baby yourself once in a while.
Admittedly, copious consumption of alcohol brings a wash of fire in one’s veins that beg to be drenched. In drunken glee, I took my clothes off. That was around 2:00 a.m. Most folks were, so I presumed, in their beds asleep likely tossing and turning, whatever tenable position it takes to turn wet dream into reality. Who’d pay notice to or filch a glance at a skinny dipping drunk?
Name that Drunk Sinatra tune: “Lumusong ako sa tubig, lumutang mga isda… Lumusong ako sa tubig, mga chicks tumihaya… Lumusong ako sa tubig, lumubog mga bangka…”
So with childish yelp and wearing a silly grin and nothing else, I dunked my behind and waded in until depth ushered some sole searching. Well, either soles or shifting sands on which soles padded to feel ‘em palpably real—that’s not there. So went solid footing. That gives way to not-so-solid heady exhilaration.
Ease out, float as flotsam and turn face up to a sky throbbing with stars, humming a lullaby. More probably, my grog-soused head was twitching with sure onset of hang-over. The scant light reassured I had the sea to myself. To recollect joys of boyhood past, glean ‘em like dreams soaking wet. Maybe coax out beer-induced languor if not wash rubbed off tell-tale female scents. Or to allow some sense of self to blend with waves to seek and pound tsunami-like those distant shores or preferably dainty labia majora.
Love that drunkenness! I was drunk dousing the drunkenness with a tepid pickling solution of seawater and starlight.
The whitewashed façade of Bethel Hotel a shot off the seawall burned with fluorescent lights, calling out with offers of freshly starched bedspread to plop oneself on and homespun breakfast of banana leaf-wrapped suman malagkit plus thick chocolate rounded out with cloyingly sweet mangoes.
Lunch would be a cup of rice plus charcoal-broiled leg of chicken in a dipping sauce of kalamansi, palm vinegar, and patis—gently simmered to lend a whiff and flavor of citrus zest to sauce.
Supper would be a salad of lato seaweeds, raw oysters, rice, and fish in a milky broth of tomatoes, bell pepper, spring onions, and ginger.
The delicious reverie was interrupted. There was bit of hubbub by the seawall—where I deposited whatever I had on. I must have drifted too far. It took more than a jiffy to swim—breast stroke is best -- shoreward and find out what that stir was. At 2:00 a.m.?
A gaggle of on-lookers had gathered by the seawall. Caucasian types. Tourists, most likely.
I ignored ‘em, went after my clothes, put them on unceremoniously. That not-so-brief dip had a sobering effect.
It just dawned that the on-lookers had their sights trained on me.
So what if I had become a tourist spot?