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The Confession

I traveled Saturday with the high school boys for the annual Alaska Cup; and the fact that we made it all the way to the semi-finals meant that we were at the Alabang Country Club until late in the afternoon.

It is always a tricky affair, this Alaska Cup. Because there are so many teams from all over the country involved, only the top team from each of the six groups is guaranteed passage into the knockout quarterfinals. If a team loses or even draws one of its group matches, its chances of progressing into the next stage are significantly diminished.

We did progress; albeit, as one of the two best second-placed teams. Who knows? With a bit more luck, we could have made it all the way to the finals.

We only lost the semis due to a singular own goal which one of our defenders inexplicably headed back to his goalkeeper, who was totally taken by surprise. The ball floated out of the goalkeeper’s reach and into the upper left hand corner of the goal. It was the sort of goal that will make many a striker proud.

Kung baga, Fernando Torres eat your heart out…

When we finally hit the road, the first priority was – naturally – a restaurant. There were food stalls set up under tarpaulin tents at the country club; but the prices were prohibitive. There was not enough time between matches to make the trip to the town center for lunch; so the boys made do with light snacks they brought with them and milk served free by the sponsors.

I warned the boys about the milk, but…

At McDonald’s, after we had ordered, one of the boys was not exactly thinking about food just yet. In the order of priorities, the washroom had taken precedence over food. When he returned to our table, he had the utter lack of shame to announce to those around the table that he could hear the people outside complaining about the stench he had created inside the washroom.

Please – I admonished him – we shall not talk about that. We were already eating…

The problem with traveling home on a Saturday evening is always that vehicular traffic tends to be heavier than usual. We crawled along the Turbina-Makiling stretch of the highway. We were to discover after what seemed an eternity that it was not just vehicle volume that was causing the slowdown. There was, just before the Yakult factory, this wheel-less van parked awkwardly across our side of the road.

What is it about vehicular accidents in this country that it always takes an eternity before the roads are cleared?

The thing about traveling with young boys is that there will always be something to laugh about, traffic notwithstanding. The very same boy who earlier had issues with the Alaska milk he gulped with utmost liberty earlier in the day was now telling his teammates about the senior retreat he attended earlier in the week.

I was only half-listening to his tales but my attention was caught – because it seemed out of character of him – when he said he felt good after going through the sacrament of confession. “And what things might you have told,” I interrupted his storytelling, “the priest who heard your confession?”

“Ano pô,” he began, “lagî ko pô inaasar ang mga classmates ko…”

That seemed more like him. “Would there be other things?” I prompted because I was by then totally amused by the boy’s candor. He started to enumerate adolescent boy things that I would rather not talk about here as this is very much a General Patronage blog.

“Tinanong ko nga pô ‘yung parî kung p’wede ko ilabas ‘yung listahan ko!” he declared proudly to everyone’s total entertainment.

“Aba!” I could not help saying, now completely caught in the humor of the boy’s story “Warî ko’y madami-dami…”

“Na-beri good ngâ pô ako ng parî!” The whole team broke into gleeful adolescent laughter! “Boy Scout!” somebody interjected. “Pinaghandaan!”

One of his teammates added to the discussion, “Grade 3 pa ‘atâ ako nung huli akong mag-confession.”

“Ah-ah,” I could not resist telling the teammate, “hindî p’wede ang listahan sa ‘yo! Dapat USB!”

The boy was quick, that I have to say. After a brief burst of laughter, he replied with the same candor as the other boy, “Oo ngâ pô! Nasa Microsoft Word document file na!”

And everyone burst into gleeful adolescent laughter all over again…