ERLOWISM: Where is the Love? A Valentine Special “True–to–Life” Story 

Photo and text by Erlow Talatala

MALAYBALAY CITY (BukidnonNews.Net) At around six in the evening on Thursday, January 31, 2019, I was walking from Rizal Street to the City Playground near the barangay hall in the area to visit a friend in Caul. The rain shower had just stopped and I was enjoying the misty brick pavement as some Swift Cliff birds flock from wire to fire above me.

Making the scene more romantic were these two teenagers in high school uniform heading my way. They held each other’s hands. They whispered sweet nothings to each other.  I saw that familiar grin in the girl’s face and I remembered someone who used to walk down with me in that mystical pretty aisle twenty years ago.  I said a very short prayer …” what a romantic night, show me more Lord! ’’.
They’re about a couple of meters away from me and I can almost smell the love when suddenly four masked teenagers on a black motorcycle appeared from behind me and stoned the guy with a fist – size stone.

My romantic nostalgia was abruptly cut – I saw the culprits shout in jubilation and disappear in the dark distance.  They left the agonizing young lover boy behind with the girl in fear.

I tried to give them a hand and stayed alert should the unidentified culprits come back. Then I brought them to the police station to report the incident. I tried to search my memory for any possible identification but I recalled none. All I could remember is that it happened in front of a Barangay Hall, and nobody was there.

Looking at the guy’s bleeding arm I was terrified and started trembling.  I feared for my hand, I am a full time visual artist.   I feared for my son, we frequently walked from home to the Capitol grounds along the same route. I feared for my family, we loved walking around the place and staying at YAKA.

I feared for all those who find solace and pleasure that the place offered, being ruined by these irresponsible and misguided youngsters.

While waiting for the investigator, I asked the police officer on duty, “Aren’t our streets here in the city safe?”

The officer replied, “Why are they still in the streets? They’re minors!”

The statement sent me to contemplation and a lot of questions.

Where are the Policemen? Where are the BPSO? Where are the plainclothes cops? Where’s the intelligence fund? Where are the parents?

When their parents came to fetch ʺCʺ and ʺSʺ, I threw them a little advice to take care of their kids because the other “guys” won’t be around to do so.

Though, I saw guilt on their faces, I also saw love and family support.

As they gratefully said goodbye and disappeared in the dark, I also walked back to the street again – all alone.

I said a short prayer not to witness the same romantic drama again.

As I tried to recall what had happened that night, I was so disturbed thinking someone could irresponsibly do that to somebody, having no conscience of hurting others.

I asked myself, “Where is the love?”

I went home, gave my wife and my kids hugs and kisses. Then I picked up my brush and painted.

(The author is a surreal activist who rises for truth, justice and life. He believes that every man’s work is a portrait of himself. ERLOWISM is his column for BukidnonViews, the opinion section of BukidnonNews.Net. Reach him via editor.bukidnonnews@gmail.com)