(Apologies for late posting.)
SANGLEY POINT, Cavite—Just about the oldest item I ever owned was a 1940s Parker Blue Diamond Vacumatic whose barrel and cap was colored with black and lime-green stripes.
However, it is no longer with me.
After spending chunks of my college allowance to keep it running, I gave it away to the late Dr. Edilberto Tiempo on the last day of the National Writing Workshop on May 15, 1995.
Why did I do this?
I wanted to impress Doc Ed.
After all, just a few days before, Doc Ed refused to discuss my short story, Sex and Sister Anna, because he found it, among others, pornographic. (Sadly, it remains unpublished and badly-written.)
I am not joking.
When I was young (er), naive, and perhaps even half-drunk, I gave away a vintage fountain pen in a bid to redeem myself and my literary integrity, however fleeting.
Since then, I have never come across an item of such vintage that has held me in thrall (save for my 73-year-old father, who has been suspected of reading his son’s work).
That is, until the BRP Benguet came into my life.
The 70-year-old ship is set to retire in two years, Divino “Jors” Jore, a junior grade Navy lieutenant and crew member, told me.
Despite its age, it still is seaworthy enough to give me a free ride to Tacloban.
But it’s not just me.
I’m accompanied on this trip by Roger Nator, who will help with electric jeepneys in Tacloban City.
Which is why Roger and I—as well as the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC) and its affiliate, the eJeepney Transport Corp. (EJTC)—remain grateful to the Philippine Navy.
However, since the trip is free, the journey to Tacloban will take longer than usual.
It will take four days* because the ship will be dropping off cargo in Iloilo and Ormoc cities before making the final stop in the Eastern Visayas capital.
That’s not exactly a bad thing.
It’s my very first adventure on the high seas onboard a Philippine Navy ship.
Having said that, I’m willing to trade a fountain pen for this kind of a deal (without, if I may add, being required to read, let alone write, bad fiction).
*FROM THE WE WISH TO CLARIFY DEPT. The trip actually took ten days and nine nights. But that’s for later.