i have nobody to call my own.


when milo first came to the states with his mom, he was five years old. already, he was a chubby kid. i was still in seattle, so i didn't get a chance to see him. my mom told me about him, though. he sat at the dinner table with my dad, and they were eating some rice and chicken. my dad spoke to him in english, asking him about school and the philippines. when my mom entered the kitchen, my dad said something to her in tagalog. suddenly, milo's attitude changed. he addressed my dad in tagalog saying, "what? you speak tagalog? why have you been speaking to me in english?"

my parents ate dinner with milo and milo's mom, myla. my mom asked myla if jun-jun, my mom's nephew, was still smoking. "yes, he still is," myla said. with a full mouth, milo said about his mother, "she smokes, too! and she drinks! as soon as my dad leaves the house, she smokes and drinks!" myla's face turned red, and she kept quiet. my dad excused himself to go to the bedroom so he could laugh out loud.

the four of them took a trip to san francisco. when my parents go to san francisco, they like to do the same thing. they go to golden gate park, and they walk the path near the water. then, they go get sundaes at ghiradelli's. after a few blocks of walking, milo got tired. he asked my dad to carry him, and my dad refused. "you're too big to be carried," he said. milo insisted that his dad still carries him sometimes. still, my dad would not pick him up. during the rest of the mild walk, milo continually complained that he was tired.

i finally met milo during christmas break. by then, he was ten years old and my parents said he had gotten even bigger. my mom asked if he had a girlfriend yet. he said, "only a crush." my aunt ampy, his grandmother, said, "you are stalking her." milo denied the accusation. "who is she?" my mom asked. "she was in church, sitting in the front row," he said. my mom immediately knew which girl he was referring to.

milo insisted that i play basketball with him in their backyard. the backyard was tiny, and there was a small plastic hoop set up with a pink rim. each time the ball hit the rim, the rim would fall flat, and someone tall enough (namely, me) would have to go fix it. i told him that we should walk the two blocks to go to a real basketball court, one they had in their village, but he liked playing on that shitty plastic hoop. i imagine it was because he didn't want to have to walk in the heat.

we also played nba2k8 on his playstation 3. he liked being the lakers, and i played as the new orleans hornets. each time kobe bryant dunked or made a three-pointer, milo would get really excited. he would make faces and say, "yeah!" and get really close to my face. "please don't do that," i said. "how come?" he asked. "it's annoying," i said. i asked how he liked his uncle ed, since i heard that milo acts completely different around him. "i'm afraid of him," milo said. "why?" "because he's very, very strict. and he's a doctor."

we spent new year's eve at my aunt ampy's house. they had a magic mic, which is a karaoke machine that connects directly to any tv. milo would only sing two songs, but he sang them multiple times. one song was "mr. lonely." milo would really belt that one out: lonelyyy, i'm mr. lonelyyy. i have nobodyyy to call my own. and then he would sing "a whole new world," the song from aladdin.

after a three hour drive back from calatagan, around ten at night, one of the drivers escorted milo out of the car and back into the house. it wasn't unusual for milo to go to bed at 2 or 3 in the morning, and sleep in until noon the next day. i asked aileen what was wrong with him. "he gets these headaches," she said. "he really needs to go to the doctor. i'm sure his eating habits aren't making things any better." i agreed. once, after stuffing himself silly at an all-you-can-eat buffet called dad's at the glorietta mall, he helped himself to a large bowl of ice cream. almost immediately after we left dad's, jun-jun bought him a haagen-daaz ice cream bar.

we would play timezone, an arcade chain, for hours on end. i liked that he thought of me as his buddy, as did my other ten year-old cousin, sam, but it also made me wonder when i'll ever be viewed as an adult. maybe never. oh well.

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