"Kat, cheer up!" I said to my twin sister. We were at the school ground waiting for the driver to arrive.
It's been more than a year since our parents died but there were days when Katrina lingered in a sullen mood.
"You wouldn't want Lolo to worry about you." I reminded her.
"I just miss them." Katrina admitted. "Not only Mom and Dad but also our friends and everyone in our neighborhood. I even missed the weather. I miss everything in Portland."
"Katrina, don't be a brat. We have no choice. Lolo is the only family we had. And you know why we moved here."
Our father re-marry when our bioligal mother died. Since the house was under our stepmother's name and we were not legally adopted. The state granted the petition of our stepmother's relatives to claim our house leaving us roofless.
Good thing our Lolo Pepito, father of our biological mother came to the rescue and brought us here in the Philippines, a country more than six thousand six hundred miles away from what we used to call home.
"I am trying to cope with the changes but it's hard. I don't like the people here. They always stare and they kept on talking tagalog. How would we know if they already talking ill things 'bout us?" Katrina explained.
"Don't mind them. As long as we stick together, they can't harm us." I smiled to encourage her.
But deep inside, I'm having the same reservations too. I needed to play tough for us to survive.
"Do you think we should ask someone to teach us how to understand tagalog?" I asked Katrina. "Maybe it will help us to blend in."
Katrina just shrugged her shoulder, letting me decide.
It's always been my role. I'm older by just a couple of minutes but I'm taking my role seriously. I'm always the protective and strong 'ate' while Katrina's the meek and compliant 'bunso'.
Those were the first few tagalog words I learned from Lolo. Instead of calling us by our names, he'd call me ate while Katrina, bunso.
"Don't frown! You're making me look ugly." I scolded her.
"Yah, right! You have yours this is mine." Katrina snorted referring to their identical faces.
"If you don't smile now, I will sing Poker Face."
"No, you wouldn't." Katrina panicked.
"Po-po-poker face, po-po-poker face...." She chanted.
"Karina! Stop making a scene." Katrina covered her face with her hands.
She continued and even started dancing.
"Okay fine!" Katrina smiled widely. "Satisfied? You're impossible. You don't want me to frown but you're making me look like a fool."
Because we have the same identical face and everybody seemed to have difficulty identifying who's who, we both felt responsible for everything that we do.
"Yes! Karina smiled!" I screamed my name. I wanted to let everybody think it was Katrina who sang and danced to save my own face.
"You are looking at them again." Mary Ann noticed.
"Can't help but be fascinated. They looked exactly the same." I couldn't take my eyes off them.
"Kahit ang mga buhok nila, napansin mo ba? Pareho din ang ayos. Kaya mahirap ma-identify kung sino si Katrina at sino si Karina." Pagsang-ayon ni Mary Ann.
"Wow, one letter lang ang pinagkaiba ng name nila!" Gulat na bulalas ko.
"Oo. Kasi they also shared the same second name. I've heard they were name after their biological mother who died giving birth to the younger twin."
"You know a lot ha." Aniya. "What's their second name?"
"Graciella." Sagot ni Mary Ann.
"Nice, sounds sweet fits them perfectly."
"Don't tell me you have a crush on them." Nakanunot ang noong tanong niya sa akin.
"No, doon sa isa lang." Pag-amin ko.
I heard Mary Ann's loud sigh. Alam kong kabastusan na hindi tumingin sa kausap pero hindi ko talaga maalis ang tingin sa kambal.
"Kanino?" Mary Ann asked.
We were sitting a couple of meters away from where the twins are. I saw the one stood up and started singing.
"Ethan, sino sa kambal ang gusto mo?" Ipinaling ni Mary Ann ang mukha ko paharap sa kanya.
"Hindi ko alam kung anong pangalan eh." Muli kong ibinalik ang tingin sa kambal.
"Yes! Karina smiled!"
Narinig kong sigaw ng isang kambal. Malinaw kong iyong narinig ang pangalang Karina, which means...
"Now I know." I smiled and stood up.
"Know what?" Tumayo na rin si Mary Ann.
"Know the name of my crush. Mauna na ako sa iyo." Nakangiting paalam ko sa kanya.
"Wait saan ka pupunta?" Pahabol ni Mary Ann.
I turned around and answered. "I'm going after my crush."
Malalaki ang hakbang na nilapitan ako ni Mary Ann. "Sino nga sa dalawa ang crush mo?"
"Si Katrina, Katrina Graciella."