Islander in the City by Pablo A. Tariman:


True-to-life friends who inspired characters from my come-back fiction, Vin d’honneur: Ester Dipasupil, Jingjing Romero and Babeth Lolarga.

It was a spur of the moment thing.

We were all depressed and had to hang on to each other for comfort and relief.

It seemed everyone was headed for Ateneo.

I decided to stay put determined to nurse my depression at home.

But someone in the group had a better idea.

Why not a food binge?

We could all drown our sorrows ordering this and that favorite food.

I was the last to arrive.

I greeted a friend of pre-martial law years with, “And you are?”

She is in the brink of guffaw.

I repeated, “And you are?”

And everyone was laughing.

This friend of martial law years nearly reached the mouth of Mayon Volcano in one attempt in 1971. I could only manage just a little over a few meters from the Mayon Resthouse.

The early diners had one thing in common.

They have a common string of media connections and a circle of common friends.

For another, we all voted for the same candidates and lost.

One in the group lost not only in the elections.

She lost chunks of savings earned from beating various deadlines and doing desk jobs.

I joked that no one could could scam my savings because my bank balance remained 3k at various times and 1k during precarious times.

We stopped reflecting on why we lost the elections.

After all, some “31 million people” have already decided for us.

One after another, our orders came.

Me: kare-kare and squid adobo and more after I was done.

The others had favorites.

I shared them too.

As the stories of our media lives unfolded one after another, we could only reminisce our desk jobs, from newspapers to magazines and advertising.

Still I could not accept the result of the elections.

I said I am going back to writing short stories and my first post-pandemic, post-elections work would be a fiction entitled, Vin d’honneur.

The certified Francophile in the group demonstrated how the word is pronounced.

I twisted my lips and nose to produce the right sound but I couldn’t get it right.

“Bin de honor,” I said and that’s final.

Scene from the fiction in progress: After all the ceremonies and presentation of credentials by the ambassadors, someone who looked like one in the group would lunge a samurai sword at the newly installed president.

I could hear gasps as I described that assassination scene.

Too bloody, said one in the group.

It’s only work of fiction, I said.


At close to 8 in an early dinner that started at 3:30 p.m. I decided I’d go ahead.

I could not sing “Food, Glorious Food” from “Oliver.”

Preferred to hum windmills of my mind.

Thinking of a grandson at the Ateneo rally.

Thinking of a daughter’s birthday turning 43 on her grave.

I turned to the Francophile in the group.

One more time, would you please demonstrate how Vin d’honneur is pronounced?

She did it one more time and this time she sounded like Catherine Deneuve.


Couldn’t get it right.

And we all laughed our election cares away.

* * *

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: