[Reprinted from "Los Angeles Betan", April 1992]

[Illustration by Clem Apeles '58]



It was a bleak afternoon in November 1965. “Sabi ko na nga ba...”, I muttered, as I blamed myself in silence. I shouldn’t have answered it. You panic at those dreaded phone calls from a master.


Jun Kolipano, a Los Banos Betan cross-enrolled in Diliman, was on the other line. “Norman, pi-pick-up-in kita in 20 minutes”.  My heart (and pardon me, my b..ls) sank.


Nervously I said, “Yes, master.”  I was sure that I was to become a victim of kidnap or dukot, as every neophyte or amuyong feared.


He came in a “regular” car, not the one he drove in the campus. Jun Kulipano also had a big 40’s vintage American Dodge or Chevy v8 that was covered in brown primer or masilya. The driver’s side was painted with a giant UP Beta Sigma seal and the Betans' colorful painted signatures adorned it all over. I warily came out of my house with a half-smile and in full trepidation.


Somewhere in Cubao, the debonair Betan master meant to visit a beauteous movie starlet, Sarah Calvin. She had just left her apartment. We went inside anyway and chatted with Sarah’s equally attractive younger sister. I remember her name was Genevieve. She was 14.


“Gumawa ka ng sari-saring mukha”, Master Jun ordered. I tried several “happy faces” to make Genevieve laugh. I serenaded her with “Devoted to You”, a hit Everly Brothers song at the time, “with emotion and gestures”, as he had commanded. I watched intently each time he flicked his cigarette: as a “human ashtray”, I offered my cupped hand.


After the social call, as we cruised around Master Jun saw a Quezon City motorcycle cop. Turning to me, he asked, “Kaya mo bang maging hagad?” 


“Yes, master.”


“O, sige, ako ang Presidential Car. Ikaw ang aking escort. Gusto ko malakas ang sirena mo, okay?


 He warned, “Bilisan mo kundi sasagasaan kita!”


I valiantly jumped out of the car. Clearing the Number “1” car along the busy Cubao thoroughfare with the loudest wailing siren I could cry out, I revved up my motor and ran as fast as I could. Wide-eyed, giggling pedestrians and onlookers stopped as I whooshed by. Giving me a few charge-ups with his blaring horn, I swore I could almost feel the Presidential Car’s front bumper kissing my behind.


Luckily, the master tired of the prank before my lungs and legs had collapsed. He took me to Little Quiapo at Aurora Blvd.  Noticing that I had slowly gathered my breath, he asked, “Ilang paddles ang kaya mo?”


I softly replied, eyes down, with the standard (sometimes dangerous) answer of total submission, “Kahit ilan ang gusto niyo, master.”


“Hindi, pass ka na sa akin”. After finishing our halo-halo, Master Jun dropped me home.


Inside the house, I thanked the high heavens for my “luck”. My legs were still wobbly and sore, my manly pride smarting over the embarrassments. But my butt was graciously spared. I had survived. With a deep sigh of relief I hang up the phone and, completely exhausted, went to bed.  




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