Thursday, August 30, 2007

Of Cops and Thieves (STORY # 14)

STORY # 14

After the volcanic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, Barry Manilow rocked the Philippines in 1992. I was able to convince my dear mother to watch my much-awaited Barry Manilow concert at ULTRA. I enjoyed it so much that I almost flew to Cebu to watch it again there. It's good it was announced that Barry will do a repeat performance in ULTRA before I purchased a ticket to Cebu, my favorite hide-away. Barry Manilow felt the tremendous desire of the Filipino people to experience this once-in-a-lifetime event that he had to do a repeat performance after coming from Cebu. I just knew I'm gonna regret for the rest of my life if I fail to watch his farewell concert.

Cherry and I went to ULTRA, with my Supervisor Meng on the wheel coz I didn't want to hassle myself with the traffic jam and all. I just wanted to relax that night. But things don't always happen as we expect them to be.

We were nearing ULTRA when a group of suspicious-looking scalpers offered their tickets to us. We didn't mind them but there was one very persistent fellow, begging us to buy his last ticket for he desperately needed to get home. I told him OK. On two conditions: He should secure 2 other tickets and I will have to show his tickets first to the cashier to verify if the tickets were indeed authentic. He readily said yes and off he went to look for 2 more tickets. Cherry and I waited at the ticket booth while Meng parked the car somewhere.

When the scalper arrived, I immediately showed his tickets to the cashier and she said they were OK. I paid the scalper and he disappeared in a jiffy. We proceeded to the entrance gate and excitedly gave the checker our tickets. I almost fainted when he said "Ma'am, isa lang ho ang pwedeng pumasok. Fake ho ang dalawa." I vehemently disagreed, telling him that I had them checked by the cashier. But the gatekeeper's decision couldn't be swayed. I ran back to the cashier and demanded an explanation why she told me that the tickets were OK. She answered "Ma'am, OK ho kasi itong nasa ibabaw. Di ko alam na fake pala ang dalawang nasa ilalim. Sorry po."

Cherry and I panicked but we still managed to devise a plan. She'll search for the scalper and I will look for a policeman. She went right and I went left while solemnly praying to St. Anthony. I then saw two policemen from afar and I called them "Mga mamang pulis, tulungan nyo kami." But they didn't seem to care. They walked farther from where I was. I ran towards them and grasp their belts--one at the left and one at the right so they couldn't walk any more step. I pleaded with them "Wag po kayong umalis. Niloko kami ng scalper." I let go of their belts and held on to their arms. Then Cherry arrived, telling me and the policemen that she didn't find the scalper at the right side. Then, out of nowhere--our scalper friend passed by, oblivious of what's happening around him. Faster than a speeding bullet, Cherry grabbed his shirt telling him to return our money for two fake tickets. His initial reaction was to deny that he was the one who sold the tickets but when Cherry and I confirmed his identity to the 2 policemen based from his distinguishing features, he had no choice but to admit he was the seller but denied that he sold us fake tickets.

The two policemen ordered the scalper to give us back our money or replace the two tickets but the scalper refused to do so, hanging on to his declaration that the two fake tickets didn't come from him, but from his colleague. The heated argument between him and us just went on and on until I heard the emcee announced Barry Manilow's name. I begged the policemen to solve the problem right away coz the concert was about to begin. I heard the two policemen whispered to each other "Pards, padaanin na lang natin ang dalawang ito sa may bandang likod." When I heard Barry Manilow singing "Copacabana" I was literally transformed from a normal person to a raging lunatic. That compelled the scalper to buy two good tickets for us and after thanking our two knights in shining armour, we rushed inside ULTRA to catch Barry's first act. And I screamed on each and every song that he rendered, as if I was experiencing it for the first time.