That was the last show of Ogie.
It was Saturday evening when Harlene tried to call me. I was not able to take the call. Two minutes later I got three missed calls-from Ricci, Stella and an unknown number. I tried to call Harlene.
"Gwyn, wala na si inay..."
This was cut by sobs. For a few minutes, I missed the entire thing. Or maybe I was just in denial. Or both. I can't really tell. A few minutes later, Stella texted me that the body will be brought to Loyola crematorium. Harlene called me if I am going and I said, I will just go the following day. She again broke into sobs, "Ayaw mo na bang makita si inay?"
For the life of me, I really don't know how to answer it. Yes I want to see Ogie before the cremation. But I guess, I saw him already how he wanted me to see him. And definitely not on that table.
The whole time, the idea has not settled yet in my mind.
By ten, Stella texted me that the cremation was done already. Ricci called that he is picking me up to go to Loyola. We got there shorty after ten. Almost all of my 'siblings' were there. Jovy had me sit beside him and read the message of Alex Cortez. I was assigned to design the stage of Guerrero Theatre for the necrological service and tribute to be done Wednesday, four days after.
Come Monday, I went to Dulaang UP. It was Tony Mabesa who told me after the meeting, "Well, your mother is already dead, but your grandmother is still alive!" And it was decided, I'll take care of the stage after being the only design offspring of Ogie.
I went to Dangwa to talk to my florists that afternoon. With Wilan volunteering to be my driver for two days, we went to Divisoria the following day to buy fabric to be used as props. I arrived inside Guerrero at about three in the afternoon.
It was then when I found out that only the students were there. The lights and sounds people were crippled from working because of some protocol of the Dulaang UP system (or the lack of it, rather). It was a good thing that my Technical Director was very efficient that all of the curtains were hung before the first (and last) rehearsals at six in the evening. The blinking marquee to be flown onstage was raised right after the rehearsals at about eleven. That time, I told myself, I will only have the flowers to worry tomorrow.
Lloyd picked me from UP that night. We went to Loyola and saw a number of friends again.
It was this morning, Wednesday, that emotions got the better of me. While I was rushing things to be completely done, I was trying to organize my costume for the said show. This was done with intervals of tear bursts. It was then I realized that the whole thing is just surreal.
We are doing a full show with two days preparation. And the said show is for my 'mother'. His last show.
The mass started promptly one in the afternoon then the tribute after. It went on smoothly as possible. Technically, it was almost perfect. The backstage crew operated with precision and descipline. Yet, amongst the performers, no amount of concealer can cover grief.
It started with a very upbeat dance and song numbers just like how Mabesa wanted it-to be like a Vaudeville. Readings of letters of faculty members who are abroad. A zarzuela duet, speeches from theatre icons, a video of stills, a solo dance and a solo vocal, capped with a drag show. It was during the the finale that almost everybody broke into tears while watching us who are teary eyed trying so hard to be funny.
The curtain call shifted to the audience area where Ogie was put. Confetti of petals and a standing ovation.
It was then I fully realized that my mentor is gone already. The person who is responsible in putting me where I am now. In whom I thank my entire career for.
It was then I got to grasp that Ogie is dead. Though I am not sure if I have fully accepted it until now. I think I should. As if I still have other options...
I am listening to one of his CDs right now-At Last by Cindy Lauper... it is playing "On the Sunny Side of the Street."