Emboldened by a sense of closure, Scott invites Cynthia Ortega to the prom. It's their first and last date. Following UP Prep practice both mom and dad accompany them and join other parents in a side room until the dance room closes at 3am. My mother finds this charming, and reports it to her mother. It won't happen again since the Poethig clan departs before my graduation. My parents meet Cynthia's mother and eventually her father, a colonel in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, who arrives late from a Quezon Blvd skirmish with students. He was "protecting buses from rock-throwers".
Student demonstrations and jeepney strikes raged on and on. A general walkout is called by the unions to force action on raising minimum wage. Then, with much of the commuting city under ‘house arrest’, an intensity 6 earthquake shakes Manila, which is built over a fault and shifting sand. An elementary school collapses. One radio persona comments "well for once we were all united – united for a few minutes in panic!"
On Sunday a few weeks later, a second earthquake shakes the city. This time, the new wing of City Hall collapses and more than a dozen new school buildings contracted by the City of Manila are destroyed. The Department of Education declares all elementary schools to close immediately, but that high schools and colleges could continue with final exams. Margaret walks to JASMS to pick up her things. Johanna’s graduation from 7th grade is rescheduled to my 15th birthday, April 16. So we embark on the post-Qtr Storm summer with a spotty academic record.
In the Poethig teen pantheon, Johanna and I are more sosyal than Scott, so we get him a radio gig to increase his cultural capital. Our new teen bodies are skinny if not curvaceous. We climb in our bikinis from the low fence to the roof of our one-story house. We think it's private.
“Huh? Uh-oh,” I murmur to Johanna as we nervously raise up on our elbows to look around for the voice. A brown version of John Lennon peers up from his leafy side of the fence.
Our new hippy neighbor! We don't mind this form of intervention.
“Hi,” we giggle.
"I'm your neighbor,"
We nod. We'd noticed their arrival.
“What’s your names?”
“I’m Kerry, "Johanna...."
“I'm Charlie Brown.”
“Yeah, you know, DZUW, DZRJ, the station that plays rock all day long.”
“Oh, uh huh.” We don’t.
“I’m the DJ, Charlie Brown.”
So we call him Charlie Brown. We come down and introduce him to Scott. After he invites Scott to volunteer as a DJ, we don't really see him again. He's too cool for high school girls. To our surprise, Scott decides to join the station. He calls himself “Brother Love.” At first he’s so nervous he gets sick, but he gets on with it, and plays hours of music we can’t fathom.