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Sushmita Costales is a smart, spoiled and heartless heir of Costales conglomerate Her father, thinks that she lacks heart and compassion towards other people Pinatapon siya ng ama niya sa Guimaras

TUMIGIL si Sushi sa paglalakad nang makita ang ama sa lobby. Nasa second floor siya at kita niya mula roon ang pagpasok ng ama. Pati ang assistant niya ay napatingin din sa tinitignan niya. May kasama itong matangkad na lalaki na sa tingin niya ay kasing edad lang din ni Pier.

The man was wearing a dark gray suit. Kahit sa malayo ay kapansin-pansin ang angking karisma at kagwapohan nito. He look foreign lalo na't asul ang mga mata nito. Sino ang kasama ng Papa niya?

"Ang gwapo," narinig niyang komento ni Lheng.

Hindi niya pinansin ang sinabi nito at nagpatuloy sila sa paglalakad. Agad na sumunod ang sekretarya sa kanya.

"Lheng."

"Yes po, ma'am."

"Alamin mo kung sino ang lalaking kasama ng Papa ko."

"Yes po, ma'am."


"HE'S Iesus Cloudio de Dios from de Dios Real Estate Property o mas kilala as dD Land," imporma sa kanya ni Lheng.

Yes, she's familiar with de Dios Real Estate. Sa naalala niya ay ilang beses nang nakipag-set ng meeting ang ama niya sa owner na si Jose de Dios. But there was no progress for they're not considering a partnership with any companies at the moment.

Alam niyang balak ng ama niyang pumasok sa real estate at magtayo ng sariling condominium residences. Matagal na nito 'yong gusto but he was eyeing for a partnership with the de Dios. dD Land is the most well established and successful real estate in the country.

She has heard about the mysterious Iesus Cloudio de Dios. Ito na ang namamahala ng dD Land and he doesn't often show himself in public. Ni hindi ito nagpapa-interview o nagpapakuha ng litrato. He is even one of the top young billionaires in Asia.

"Sabi po ni Cess," tukoy nito sa secretary ng Papa niya. "Matagal na raw pong hinihintay ni Sir Lemuel si Sir Iesus na makabalik ng Pilipinas." Kumunot ang noo niya. Bumalik sa isipin niya ang mga sinabi ng Papa niya.

"Sasabihin ko sa'yo kapag napakilala ko na kayo ng pormal. Hinihintay ko pa ang tawag niya. He's still in a business meeting outside the country."

At kababalik lang nito sa Pilipinas.

"Na i-set ko na ang dinner date n'yong dalawa ng lalaking gusto ko para sa'yo, Sushi. Kababalik lang niya ng Pilipinas. Free your schedule next weekend."

Hindi kaya?

Mariin niyang naipikit ang mga mata. Kung tama ang kutob niya baka ito ang lalaking gusto ng ama para sa kanya. Nahilot niya ang sentido. Hindi siya na-e-stress sa trabaho. Mas na-e-stress siya sa buhay niya.

Naimulat niya ang mga mata. Saktong pagtingin niya sa cell phone ay tumatawag si Pier. Inabot niya ang cell phone at iniangat ang mukha kay Lheng.

"Thanks, you may go back to your table." Lumabas ng opisina niya ang secretary. Sinagot niya naman ang tawag ni Pier. "Hi, napatawag ka?" Tinignan niya ang oras sa laptop niya. Kumunot ang noo niya. Bakit ito tumatawag? He's supposed to be with her father right now. It's already 2 pm.

"Your father cancelled our meeting. Nasa labas ako ng Costales." Narinig niya ang pagtawa nito pero ramdam niya pa rin ang dismaya sa boses nito. She suddenly felt bad about it. "May emergency meeting raw siya. Babalik ako bukas."

It must be because of Iesus.

"Are you okay?"

"Kumain ka na ba?"

"You're not okay."

"I'm fine," pilit nitong pinasigla ang boses but it was no use. She's still not convinced. "Did you eat your lunch o baka nag-skip ka na naman?"

Hindi niya alam kung bakit sobrang emosyonal niya nitong nakaraang araw. Mabilis siyang malungkot. Mabilis naman siyang mairita pero mas 'di niya nako-control ang emotional feelings niya ngayon. Kahit sa mga simpleng bagay, naiiyak siya at naiinis. Lalo na pagdating sa sitwasyon nila ni Pier. It frustrates her.

Hearing the sadness in Pier's voice made it hard for her not to ignore his feelings. Nasasaktan talaga siya para rito. Gusto niyang sermonan ang ama. O 'di kaya batuhin ng swivel chair. Pero alam niyang 'di niya pwedeng gawin 'yon.

Tumayo siya at hinagilap ang bag niya. Pilit niyang pinasigla ang boses. "I have nothing to do this afternoon. Let's go out. Wait for me in the parking lot." Ngumiti siya. "Let's be sad together."

Natawa ito sakabilang linya. "Iiyak ka rin ba kung iiyak ako?"

"Well, if that would make you feel better, I will."

"Then, please don't leave your work." Tumigil siya, palabas na sana siya ng opisina niya. "I know you're busy. I'm fine. May ibang lakad din ako. Makikipagkita ako sa dating kaklase ko. He owns a restaurant now here in Manila. Naghahanap siya ng supplier ng yellow mangoes."

"Really? That's good news."

"I'll call you later, love you."

"I love you too. Ingat ka."

Bumuntonghininga siya at napaupo sa sofa. As much as she wants to comfort Pier. I think it would be better if she let him for now. As for her father, bahala ito sa buhay nito. Tumayo siya at lumabas ng opisina niya. If Iesus is the man her father had chosen for her, it would be better if they don't stay in one place. Ayaw niyang bigyan ng opportunity ang Papa niya na maipakilala ito sa kanya.

Her father should enjoy to the fullest his disappointments.

"If ever my father drops by and looks for me," baling niya sa secretary niya, "tell him, I have a dinner meeting with Crosoft D'Cruze." Tumango-tango ito. "But I'll be actually working at home so if ever you received any files or documents, give me a call or send it directly through my email."

"Noted, Ma'am Sushi. Akong bahala."

Ngumiti siya kay Lheng. "I'll give you a five thousand increase next month." Nanlaki ang mga mata nito at natutop ang bibig. "You deserve it anyway. Bye!" Iniwan na niya ito.

"Thank you, Ma'am Sushi! I love you! Go SuhPier!"


"TO tell you honestly, Pier. I'm quite impressed with your proposal and presentation."

Dalawa lamang sila sa loob ng conference room ng Costales. Nakatayo siya sa harap habang nakaupo naman sa ikalawang swivel chair si Mr. Lemuel Costales mula sa unahang hilera ng mga upuan sa mahabang mesa. Katatapos lang niyang ipakita at ipaliwanag ang business presentation niya.

Now, they've reached a crucial part of this meeting.

Mr. Lemuel Costales' feedback.

"You probably heard of this idea from Sushi, if I'm not mistaken," he paused for a moment. "Yes, I'm planning to add another business under Costales brand – the Local Delicacies. We've talked about it a lot of times during our monthly meetings and I'm positively considering Guimaras mangoes as one of our first products to be launch. We haven't really got into details yet dahil plano pa lang naman. But you've given me everything I needed – enough to convince me to pursue this project."

Humilig ito sa kinauupuan nito at nagpatuloy.

"I must say that you did your assignment very well. Lahat ng mga pinoproblema ko tungkol sa project na 'to ay sinagot mo. Value proposition, market research, the specific metrics from start-up costs to profits and etc. All were specified and explained in your business proposal."

"Thank you."

"Have a seat, Pier, please." Mr. Costales gestured the seat across him.

Sa totoo lang, kinakabahan siya sa mga susunod na sasabihin nito. Kalmado ito kung kausapin siya at hindi niya rin mabasa sa mukha nito ang mga susunod nitong sasabihin. It's as if, he was waiting for a storm – calm but very alarming.

Tumalima siya at naupo.

"Tell me, Pier, why Costales?" baling nito sa kanya. "Why do you want a partnership with us?"

"To be honest, sir. Sushi did mention this to me. Aside from the obvious fact that Costales is one of the leading food and beverage business - including your other businesses as well. I saw it as an opportunity for us to promote Guimaras mangoes. Not only that, wala pong sayang sa mga mangga. We can make other food products out of it as I've mentioned in the proposal. Having us as your supplier, we will assure you that all mangoes are fresh and organic. No chemical fertilizer will be used in production. It would be a mutual benefit for us. Lalo na ngayon na dagsa ang mga foreign tourist sa bansa. Mango is one of our Filipino pride and it would be a good opportunity to expand your business to our county's successful tourism."

"In addition, Costales is one of the pioneering companies that promote local goods. Malaki ang supporta n'yo sa gawang Pilipino. You have charities that help these locals to make a business out of our natural resources. This wouldn't be just another business. This will become a milestone for Costales."

Nakangiting tumango ito. But something is telling him that Lemuel Costales' smile means something else.

"How about this," he trailed off. Kumabog nang mabilis ang puso niya. Kinakabahan talaga siya sa mga susunod na sasabihin nito. "I'll approve your proposal if you leave my daughter."

Huminto yata sa pagtibok ang puso niya nang ilang segundo. He already expected this from Lemuel Costales even before he started considering this business proposal. Alam niyang hindi magiging madali ang lahat. Alam niyang malaki ang posibilidad na alokin siya nito na hiwalayan si Sushi. Still, his accurate expectation didn't lessen his growing anxieties.

"With all due respect sir, your daughter is very special to me. I like her not because of her wealth but because I saw a beautiful person in her. You have raised her well – kind, smart and strong. She is indeed beautiful inside and out. Siguro nga po, may mga pagkakataon na nagiging mali ang mga kilos at desisyon niya, but if you try to know her more, malalaman po natin kung bakit siya naging ganoon."

"Please don't take this against me, pero sa tingin ko po kasi, hindi naging sapat ang oras na ibinigay n'yo para mas makilala pa si Sushi. Hindi kayang punan ng mga material na bagay ang aruga at oras na kailangan ng isang anak. They either become attention seeker or cynical – it can be both as well. I lost my parents and my grandfather raised me by himself, but they raised me with their time, effort and love."

"I know how you love Sushi. You've built and protected this empire for her, so she can have everything in this world. But I believe, sir, your daughter doesn't need a castle, she only needs her father."

Bumuntonghininga siya. 

Kahit gawin pa niya ang lahat, ang huling desisyon ay nasa kamay pa rin ng ama ni Sushi. He had done enough to play fair with his luck for his people. What he needed now is a miracle. But for now, he will take this chance to share his pure intentions for his daughter.

"Alam ko na hindi ako ang lalaking hinangad n'yo para sa anak ninyo." Napangiti siya nang mapait. Still, he continued. "I'm not born to a wealthy family. I may not have enough money to buy her all the things she wants and I may often give her disappointments for being poor. I understand, that as a father, you only wish the best for your children. Believe me, sir, I share the same belief."

Naalala niya ang kabataan niya.

"Growing up, I witnessed how cruel life could be. 'Yong katotohanang kailanman ay hindi mag-a-adjust sa'yo ang mundo. Nakita ko kung gaano nagsumikap ang Papa ko na maitawid ang pangangailangan namin sa isang araw. My father strives hard for my education. My mother made me feel that it's okay to have a dream in life despite the uncertainties. My grandfather raised me not to be a coward and to always see things with hope."

Yes, his childhood was tough but those hardships made him the person he is at present. It was still worth it – unfortunately worth it. Hardships make you stronger as long as it doesn't kill you, then go on.

"Dala ko 'yon sa paglaki ko," pagpapatuloy niya. "Nasabi ko sa sarili ko, magsusumikap ako para kapag nagkapamilya ako, maibibigay ko lahat ng mga pangangailangan nila. Para hindi ako ikahiya ng mga anak ko kung sakali. Para hindi ko sila nakikitang naghihirap. Laging sinasabi ni Papa sa'kin na huwag ko siyang tularan. Hindi nakapagtapos ng pag-aaral hindi dahil sa hirap ng buhay pero dahil sa katigasan ng ulo. But despite my father's imperfections he turned out to be a good provider and a best father for me. Sayang lamang at hindi niya ako nakitang umakyat ng stage at hindi niya naisabit sa'kin ang medalyang pinaghirapan ko para sa kanila."

Ngumiti siya sa ama ni Sushi.

"At malaki rin ho ang pasasalamat ko sa inyo dahil sa pagtulong ninyo sa pag-aaral ko sa kolehiyo. Habang buhay ko hong tatanawing utang na loob sa inyo 'yon. Pero sana, huwag n'yo pong hilinging bayad ang pag-iwan ko sa anak ninyo. Mahal na mahal ko ho ang anak ninyo. Humarap ho ako sa inyo ngayon bilang negosyante at hindi bilang manliligaw ng anak ninyo. This partnership will save my people. Ang manggahan ang primary source of income nila para mapunan ang pangangailangan ng pamilya nila and I'm doing this for the benefit of all. This is also my source of income, sir. Ang manggahan ang magbibigay ng magandang kinabukasan sa magiging pamilya ko and if there are good opportunities for the farm, kahit imposible o suntok sa buwan, susubok at susubok ako."

And yes, he did his best.

I just hope my best was good enough to convince Mr. Lemuel Costales.

"How much do you love my daughter, Pier?"

"A love that couldn't be measured, sir."

"If you love my daughter, I'm sure you only want the best for her, 'di ba Pier?"

"Yes sir, as long as it's for her good."

"And as her father, I know what's best for her."


I'M SORRY – Pier

Hindi niya alam pero bigla siyang nag-alala sa text na natanggap niya mula kay Pier. Mabilis na i-denial niya ang numero ng cell phone nito. She tried calling him a lot of times but he's not picking up his phone.

She's starting to worry.

"Ma'am Sushi," biglang pumasok si Lheng. "May schedule po kayo ng final fitting sa gown n'yo po para sa founding anniversary ngayong Sabado." Nawala ang ngiti nito nang mapansin ang pag-aalala sa mukha niya. "Ipapa-cancel ko po ba muna?"

"Nasa conference room pa ba sila Pier at Papa?"

"Mukhang wala na pong tao sa conference. Nakaalis na rin ho yata si Sir Pier."

"Where's my father?"

"Nasa office po yata niya."

"Cancel the fitting," utos niya rito at dire-diretsong lumabas ng opisina niya.

She went to her father's office. Naabutan niya itong masayang-masaya habang may kausap sa cell phone. Nang mapansin siya nito ay nagpaalam ito sa kausap.

"Thanks, Iesus. I'll call you back later."

Ang Iesus na naman na 'yan!

"Where's Pier?!" seryoso niyang tanong sa bahagyang mataas na boses.

Sumeryoso ang mukha ng ama niya. "How should I know?"

"Anong sinabi mo sa kanya?"

"Wala akong sinabi sa kanya." Naikuyom niya ang mga kamay. "And there's a change of plans. I will introduce to you the man I want you to marry during the 41st Founding Anniversary of Costales." Her father gives her a warning look. "And don't you ever think of running away, Sushmita. Starting today, you will not leave our house 'till I allow you."

"I hate you," she mouthed at her father.

"I'm doing what's best for you."

"You don't know what's best for me."



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