Melinda Bernabe Nogoy, May or Mel, one of my oldest and dearest friends in the UAE is leaving at the end of this month to find new pathways in life in another shore: Ontario, Canada.
Oldest because when the PRO of Beach Hotel (now Beach Rotana) picked me off the Abu Dhabi International Airport that fateful day of February 7th 1994 and brought me to the hotel’s accommodation, hers was one of the first four faces I saw when the elevator opened to my room’s floor. This building is where the posh Liwa Center now stands. We used to say, backside old TV building to the taxi drivers to get home from a night of disco-dancing.
We were a trio – May, Marley and me (Mary Ann) – all from UP but at different times; no wonder we never met! We liked wearing the same things as we bought/shopped together. Same leggings with that yellow and white flowery pattern, same jumper – only different sizes: small, medium and large!
She’s the sweetest yet sometimes, human that she is, she can also feel a bit low. There was this one time that everyone in the flat (eight of us, all girls, shared a flat of four room; two girls per room) we all thought she’d died! She didn’t come out of her room – not even to eat, drink or pee! We offered here flowers, food, sweets – right at her door so she would no longer feel bad, sad, depressed. I guess it worked for the next day she was her usual self again.
May is always loyal. When I look back through all the years, she and I have so many pictures together – girls’ night out, desert trips, swims, eating out, parties, etc. and of all the people I know, May is the only one who can sleep on the elevator! When she is sleepy, she can really turn off quickly that one time, we were on an elevator and she had fallen asleep somewhere between the first three floors. When we got to our stop, I think it was the 14th floor, we had to wake her up!
May loves to eat and we enjoy eating – at home, at KFC – we even took the KFC challenge of “all-you-can-eat” chicken from 12:00 noon till 3:00 pm. We once took our lunch break at KFC and for 35 Dirhams, ate all the chicken we can possibly gobble for less than an hour. We got back to work fully stuffed! We often set beach BBQ gatherings with the old staff, and it is also a good chance to meet the new staff of Beach Rotana. May also has a weakness for sweets – chocolates especially the nutty ones. Unfortunately, her skin allergy would break out and she has to control herself not to indulge her sweet tooth so much.
She’s quite picky of who she goes out with. She’s got to know the guy first – before she commits but once she does, she gives her all to the relationship; often only to cause her a painful loss. And yet she’s very matured and graceful about her love life that she’s remained positive about it and looks forward to the real one. We all wish she does indeed find Mr. Right this time – perhaps in her new “country”.
May is very sweet and loving. She really shows you if she likes you by being there for you – she’s the type of friend who will brush aside your shortcomings, even condone your actions (in love) so long as you are happy. No criticisms; she will take you for whoever you are, whatever you are, just tell her the truth.
I’ve known for a fact that when my life seemed to have been going through hell, she was almost the only friend I had left, (and Dennis) one thing though, May is such a bad liar that when you want her to keep something secret; she may be able to sincerely keep it secret until someone interrogates her or catches her off-guard. Then she will, albeit inadvertently, spill all the juice.
She’s very hardworking and takes her job seriously. May’s got a strict and rigid work ethics that she can never be corrupted nor would she succumb to fraudulent means. I think because her integrity in what she does had always been impeccable she’s quite an asset to any organization she’s involved with.
She’s very poised and quite a true Filipina “Maria Clara” in her ways, and yet there is that touch of naughtiness and sense of adventure in her that adds spunk and spice to her personality. She can drink or smoke or go out with the girls and party but to a certain extent. For friendship’s sake, she will go out with you, wherever that may be. One complaint is that she dresses up too slowly! Often she would be the last to take the shower and the last one to finish getting ready for work. We’d have to forego the bus ride and just take the taxi because the bus has already left! If you’ve seen her wear her stockings (stockings are standard hotel wear), you’d know what I mean! Normal people would wear it like socks, put a leg in, pull it up and that’s that. May on the one hand would start at the toe, make sure there are no creases and slowly, in a sort of circular way work through her feet, till the ankles. Then she’d check if the fit is alright and slowly work her way up to her legs and thighs. Watching her makes me feel so tired and sleepy. Thank God she’s not 5’11“ or someone taller! It would take forever!
This same femininity also shows in how she throws a bowling ball. Oh yes it is a strike alright but you’ve got to watch the ball roll ever so slowly towards the pins that if I were one of the pins, I’d just drop dead from the long wait. This is probably why she hits a strike ever so often – the pins die of boredom. Believe me, you can go pee, buy a can of Coke from the vending machine and even re-tie your shoelaces from the time she throws the ball till it reaches the pins.
Yet, May’s got great empathy and compassion for people. She’s also very spiritual and I guess it’s one aspect of her where she draws her strength and aura of confidence from. Her family is very important to her – her parents, her siblings and even her growing number of nieces and nephews. She’s got this great capacity to love and share – and my one wish for her is that she finds that one man truly worthy of her because of all people I know and love in this parts of the world, Melinda is one great woman any man would be proud to claim her as his life’s mate.
Despite the years and the many life decisions that have seemed to keep us further and further apart – before we just lived separately in different flats as we changed jobs, then we lived in different Emirates, now it will be countries apart. But still whenever we find a rare moment to get together – the bond is there, no need to even make an effort – you just know that this is one person is truly your friend and will laugh at your jokes and antics, cry at your woes and soothe you with a loving word or understanding nod.
She had always been happy for the small or large accomplishments I’ve made – always proud of me that ours is a friendship that never stifled one’s being, nor was it too emotionally demanding that one tends to take time out just to breathe. No, it was like a sisterhood, a strong bond that only blood can better – she is after all one that I consider family here in the UAE.
I’ve been so lucky with how my life turned out here in the UAE but I feel that I am truly twice blessed because I have one true friend in May. She is my companion when we worked together – flatmate, lunchmate, locker chatter, cigs-smoking mate, drinking and party mate - I remember one time, we just got back from church one Sunday. We still lived near the Mazda Khadim showroom then. We got off near the Coop – our only mall in Abu Dhabi way back then, and decided to walk home. This roundabout at the Tourist Club Area was just being constructed – so this road was still closed to motorists and many bricks and construction equipment were lying about. We used this area as a shortcut away from the zooming cars – towards home when suddenly this boy of about 12 or 13 came up from behind her and cupped her boobs!!! She froze in terror and shock whilst I was so angry and was trying to look for a good sized rock I can hurl at the pervert juvenile! The boy even attempted to masturbate, the nerve! But he soon ran away when he saw me throw bricks at him – one did get him quite squarely on the shoulder so that was sweet revenge on such a traumatic incident! Once in an elevator, this Arab asshole of a man was harassing her! I think I bursted out with invectives I couldn’t repeat to my daughter’s ears. So our personalities were sort of the perfect opposites that mixed well – I liked telling stories, May liked listening to them. I’m quite loud, May’s the silent type. She’s my captured audience for the many punch lines, absurd stories and even corny jokes that I have. She’s also got a passion for reading which we both share together.
I may have been good at a past life for God to grace me with a friend like May. She’s one person who – despite her own problems, when she hears a good tale would take time and enjoy the story. She’s optimistic about her life and that shows – as she now takes on a challenge. I know she will come through as the winner.
Just as she paved the way for many Filipinos to be part of Rotana, she’s now paving the way for all of us in Canada – Go ahead May, get there first and later, we will follow the path you’ve made. I’m sad to see you go but I’m also happy that you’ve finally decided to spread your wings and test your strength. You go girl! With Internet and Email, surely our friendship will remain in touch and updated….after all, even here we’ve seldom met and kept in touch mostly through emails. It shouldn’t be so hard. Perhaps we too can come visit you there (hint, wink!)
So many memories to cram them up in so few lines. I’ve been going through old photos and I smile at how many friends we’ve made together and separately that I enjoy sharing mine with you as much as you seem to never forget to include me in yours. That’s what friends should be – to continue sharing the joys and sorrows of friends – and to build up stronger bonds, and continue to make other friends….just like what Azura in Barbie Fairytopia said, “strangers are friends we have not yet met.” Indeed this is true. And although friends we’ve met and love dearly may go away and be far from us, the bonds of friendship that ties us to one another shall never cease to exist. We will find each other through life’s road and in time, may even journey together like we did back then.
And I’m glad to have met you – as you have truly enriched my life, gladdened my heart, uplifted my spirits, and added new wisdom to my being. Thank you May for your friendship – I will not say goodbye because to true friends – there is ever only “take care”, I’ll miss you but I will be with you – when you need me, just sent me a return air ticket! If you need some money, ipangunugutang kita! Pag nadapa ka, deadma lang ako sabay kunyari di tayo magkakilala…..pero pag umiyak ka na….asahan mong aabutan kita ng tissue…baka kasi lumobo yung barang sipon sa ilong mo, wa poise!
My dearest Melinda, Mayo, Nogee…magtotorot ang mga kamag anak nyo sa Cabanatuan. Masarap nga pala ang longganisa nila doon….at alam kong hanggang ngayon, may utang pa rin sa iyo yung diver na ex BF mo dun sa Cebu kaya…sige na, punta ka nang Canada – I really look forward to an email or a envelope that would read…
Melinda Bernabe Nogoy and Mr. Good-looking, Loving, Gentleman Canadian invites you to their wedding….
Yun lang talaga pero marami pa pero wala nang time basta amin na lang yon!!! I love you May, always. And I wish you bigger and better things in your next country of habitation. 私は愛し、逃す