Marla and Me

Ritta, a friend I’ve had for ages, has a funny way of expressing love. She shares with me most of her classmates as though I had none of my own. She must think me so destitute of friends – never once considering it could be due to my anti-social tendencies. So, she makes it a point to bring me along whenever they come to visit. Most of them are kind enough. One or two of them I’ve become even closer to, due to shared political beliefs.

Among them though is Marla, whom I took to instantly. The fact that she likes to bring me special ensaimadas from Mary Grace whenever she comes home is irrelevant. It was her comedic timing, actually, something that she is totally clueless about.
Ritta invited Marla’s family to dinner and as usual, tagged me along. Marla was her grade school classmate at Colegio dela Milagrosa. While navigating through the complications of linangta na pili, I noticed Marla searching through a large purse. Beside her was her daughter Kara, who was watching her mother progressively getting irritated that she couldn’t find what she was looking for. All the while Marla had kept conversation running with Ritta. This had been going on for some time, and through this little incident Kara had studiously kept a poker face on.
Finally, Marla threw the purse down, frustrated. Then Kara said “Mom, what are you looking for?”
I burst out laughing. Marla tried to gracefully exit from the situation but Kara had decimated that possibility. “I was looking for my spectacles”.
“Naturally, you won’t find them in MY purse, “ Kara said. “Try looking for them in YOURS.”

That was the exact moment I knew I had to keep her, because I felt she had plenty more of those silly, unrehearsed, spur of the moment, belly-aching comedies.
Even her kids know this of Marla and Kara especially goads this out of her on Facebook, where she likes to provoke her mother. The mother-daughter exchanges remind me of Alex Gonzaga’s slapstick vlogs on Mommy Pinty, although Marla and Kara’s are a tad more sophisticated and elevated. When Marla posts pictures of her and her husband Jun enjoying a romantic moment, Kara’s comeback is swift and deadly: “Yuck. False news.”
Maybe I just have a different sense of humor but I enjoy these exchanges. Only people who deeply love each other can cut the other down to size on social media (the Kris Aquino and Gretchen Barreto incident is out of context in this situation).
There are people I keep because I’ve known them for centuries, because they’re sorority sisters, or ones I share common interests with. But friends who make me laugh belong to a special category because they’re the ones you always want to be with. They spread endorphins and serotonins around, and the remarkable thing about it is they don’t even know it.

It’s truly a gift, creating laughter. Life is hard enough as it is, but there are people whose talent for comedy is effortless and extemporaneous.
I forget to tell Ritta whose affection is perhaps impelled by her perception of me as a lost puppy needing to be adopted by her friends that of all the “mothers” on whose doorsteps she has dragged me to it is to Marla’s where I perhaps needed to be the most, because in a country populated by citizens whose sense of humor is dissipating as fast as their sense of justice laughter remains the best antidote to hopelessness.

At OZ Camp in Bacon
Marla, Ritta and I


  1. Thank you for featuring me in your article. I didn’t know that I could make people laugh just by being myself. All the while I thought I was dramatic.

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