Music Du Jour

April 9, 2009

I cheered with a lot of people when “Falling Slowly” from the indie movie Once won the Oscar for Best Song in 2007 over the juggernaut that was Enchanted.  A recent acquaintance with Jon Mclaughlin introduced me to one of the losing songs from Enchanted – So Close.

Broke my heart first time I heard it.

You’re in my arms
And all the world is calm
The music playing on for only two
So close together
And when I’m with you
So close to feeling alive

A life goes by
Romantic dreams will stop
So I bid mine goodbye and never knew
So close was waiting, waiting here with you
And now forever I know
All that I wanted to hold you
So close

So close to reaching that famous happy end
Almost believing this was not pretend
And now you’re beside me and look how far we’ve come
So far we are so close How could I face the faceless days
If I should lose you now?
We’re so close
To reaching that famous happy end
And almost believing this was not pretend
Let’s go on dreaming for we know we are
So close
So close
And still so far


Music Du Jour

March 16, 2009

 

Shontelle – T-shirt

 

Feeling a little sentimental. 

For you.


Public Display of Emotions

February 13, 2009

 

The appeal of reality tv lies in its ability to afford us vicarious pleasure in the roller-coaster of emotions undergone by the participants.  At the same time as  we witness the individuals wallow through depths of stress and humiliation it breeds the “better-you-than-me” attitude otherwise known as schadenfreude.

I have to admit though that I am not immune to the allure of reality shows. My personal favorites include Project Runway, America’s Next Top Model and Iron Chef America. But given the glut of reality shows these days I find myself drawing a line somewhere, specifically between American Idol and everything else that involves a deluge of human misery – an aversion nurtured by years of exposure to the soaps/teledramas/telenovelas my mom was hooked on. 

Recently, though, found that line re-drawn by Reunions – a QTV-11 show voiced-over by Jessica Soho which I usually catch on weekends while contemplating the vagaries of the coming week.

My initial reaction to the show was to grimace at its premise then scoff at its sincerity.  As I pointed out earlier, my instinctive reaction to blatherfest is one of aversion. For me, I’d rather find catharsis in laughter than in the misery of others. Needless to say, it’s a no-brainer for me when given a choice between tearjerkers or Nickelodeon.

Imagine, then, my surprise that I found Reunions to be riveting.

reunions

Following a straight-forward format, Reunions documents the efforts of individuals searching for loved ones they have lost touch with. Their tales of misery are varied and legion – parents looking for wayward or lost children, siblings searching for closure with estranged parents, siblings reaching out to each other after being separated for a multitude of reasons.  Some searches have been going on for decades, some for a few months but no matter the length of their search, it is the gut-wrenching emotions at the end of their searches that tie each and every story featured in the show.  Welkin-tearing cries precede tales of woe, recrimination and forgiveness.  Reality tv could not be more visceral than this.

Which leads me to the reason for the the show’s appeal to me.  Though less dramatic than the stories featured in the show, to me, Reunions reflect the story of my own relationship with my family and my need to re-connect with them.

Growing up in a typical Filipino family from a different generation, we were never encouraged to be overtly affectionate beyond the obligatory hand-kissing.  We, like millions of other children from our era, grew up without the trappings of affection emphasized as necessary in today’s family.  To my thinking, there was nothing intrinsically wrong with the way we were raised – it was just a reflection of the times we grew up in.  But it wasn’t enough – the manner of behavior taught us didn’t damage us in any obvious way but it did leave us unable to fully articulate our need for stronger ties or to seek out more common bonds with our family as our focus shifted outward into our own lives.

Even before my dad’s death, gathering all of us under one roof was becoming an effort.  We’d have perfectly good reasons but, still, absences were noted and felt. As I and my siblings grew into our individual lives so did our pre-occupation with our careers and relationships.  This was perfectly fine except that, I felt, little by little we lost our connections as siblings threadbare as they already were.

This state became more apparent over the last three years as the quintessential family holiday – Christmas – was celebrated separately: my mother, my brother and my sister celebrating in Subic,  me staying put in Cavite or spending it with my in-laws and my other brother’s family keeping the holidays with his in-laws as he was working abroad.  To my siblings’ credit, some effort was made to effect a reunion of sorts but it was obvious that it wasn’t going to happen.  I have to own up to my share of the blame because I was not ready to reconcile with them after we had a falling-out.  On hindsight, I could have dealt with my issues with them decisively and moved on but I could not because of the emotional baggage attached to these issues.

Such was the state of my family when my mother was hospitalized last year.  It wasn’t serious enough to warrant treatment other rest and medication but it became a catalyst in thawing my family’s version of the Cold War.  Wrapped in our collective concern, I discovered that I still needed my siblings to be there even if I could handle the situation on my own.  I understood that one’s mere presence can count even if just to reassure each other of one’s willingness to support the other.  

Last December, my family went on our first family trip.  It felt different as I usually travelled alone or with friends and I guess the feeling was shared to some degree by everybody else.  The trip was not without the usual tensions relative to an undertaking but overall it felt good to do something together with my family.  It took us more than 30 years to get there but we were where we wanted to be: with each other.

A Family Portrait

A Family Portrait

During that trip, the term “family” meant something to me again.  I learned its value once more. I also learned that while it is true that no wound is more painful or scars as deeply than the ones inflicted on us by the people we love, it is likewise true that we cannot find better healing than from the hands of those who wound us.


To Do or Not To Do

September 26, 2008

 

(I was planning to write something along the lines of “What Not to Say in the Middle of Fucking” but my partner dissuaded me from doing so and I was thrown in a loop as to what to write about next.  So for all the readers who are sick of the following topic, the following post is as much Eric’s fault as mine.)

Sometime a few weeks week, I crossed over.

Previously I could refer to myself (with integrity) as being in my “mid-thirties”.  Actually, I still could but not without transgressing the IX th Commandment.

These days, I’ll share the same age as my partner – so, for a month at least, I have to refrain from referring to him as the “older” one between us. 

Around this time, my sense of preservation compels me to turn from the fact that I’ve aged another year. However, neither threats nor pleas dissuade the people who know me from taking it upon themselves to constantly remind me of it and, inevitably, I end up with thoughts that about the future twined like worry beads around my mind.

Like marriage, for instance.

Not that marriage is something I dread like the proverbial ball and chain or an STD.  In fact, getting married is something I have seriously considered after more than four years of being together with someone as wonderful as my partner.

It is ironic then that, personally, I don’t believe in marriage.

I don’t believe that ceremonies or a piece of paper can bind two people together forever.

I don’t believe that it is the solution to a dysfunctional relationship.

I don’t believe that, as an institution, it is just reserved for certain genders.

I don’t believe in it as a rite of passage that I have to go through to perpetuate traditions that have no relevance to me.

Notwithstanding my disbelief (and sorry lack of funds) – let me just, for the record, say – I am going through it.  Why?  Because I love my partner and I’d do anything to make him happy.

He wants bling, flowers and the whole shebang.  I get to event-organize the program as only an anal-retentive personality can.  We’re still negotiating custody of the DJ’s booth: Eric’s afraid that I’ll churn out an exclusively (and eminently cheesy) OPM playlist while I’m concerned that if were to hand over the turntable to Eric, he’s going to make it a Mariah-fest (na-uh, not gonna happen). 

I know somebody will wonder how on earth two guys can get married in a country where a comprehensive anti-discrimination bill can’t even get passed for fear of being anathemized by the clergy. Well, as I remember it right in the catechism I memorized (yes, I was a geek in Catholic school – even passing Religion was a big deal for me) there is only one instance when the clergy is not the minister of the sacraments.  According to the catholic catechism, in the sacrament of matrimony, the minister is not the clergy officiating the ceremony but the couple exchanging their vows. The attending clergy merely as a witness.  And that’s how I plan to get around the loop – ironic, given their “love the sinner, hate the sin” schtick – but hey, if you can’t join them, beat them.


52 Days

July 21, 2008

 

I have a friend who’s a psychic – well, he says he is.

He’s dabbled a lot in esoterica and wiccan lore/practice.  He reads the tarot, palms, does numerology, reads auras and has had his third eye opened by no less than Jimmy Licauco (why he had it closed is another story).  As far as I’m concerned, his credentials are legit.

During the early days of our friendship, he told me about the 52 day cycle.  Apparently, the first 52 days from the date of one’s birthday is supposedly the luckiest 52 days of that person’s life.  Inversely, the last 52 days before one’s birthday are pure hell.

I’m a hard-ass when it comes to believing stuff like the 52 days but what struck me when we had that conversation was how every year, like clockwork, the last few weeks before my birthday is when I feel my lowest, the shittiest things happen to me and depression becomes a way of life.  Like PMS.

So that explains everything, I thought.  So it’s not my fault at all why, for the past several years, I’ve felt like I was juggling emotions ranging from being anti-social, suicidal, homicidal and genocidal from mid-July to early September. It was a relief to know that I wasn’t going crazy. At the very least, I can train myself to expect the worst so the blows wouldn’t pack as much of a punch like they used to.

Like last Thursday, when I got apprehended by personnel of Makati city hall – for littering.  One would think that I’d know better after having worked and practically lived in Makati for more than 10 years – but that day, my inner-stupid kicked in and I was served. 

Thank goodness for knowing about the 52 days, a sense of humor to put my first (and hopefully the last)apprehension in perspective and Eric for telling me about “Details in the Thread” – (“You’re like an island of reality in an ocean of diarrhea”). 

Calm down
Deep breaths
And get yourself dressed instead
Of running around
And pulling on your threads and
Breaking yourself up

If it’s a broken part, replace it
If it’s a broken arm then brace it
If it’s a broken heart then face it

And hold your own
Know your name
And go your own way
Hold your own
Know your name
And go your own way
And everything will be fine

Hang on
Help is on the way
Stay strong
I’m doing everything

Hold your own
Know your name
And go your own way
Hold your own
Know your name
And go your own way

And everything
Everything will be fine
Everything

Are the details in the fabric
Are the things that make you panic
Are your thoughts results of static cling

Are the things that make you blow
Hell, no reason, go on and scream
If you’re shocked it’s just the fault
Of faulty manufacturing

Everything will be fine
Everything in no time at all
Everything

Hold your own
And know your name
And go your own way

Are the details in the fabric (Hold your own, know your name)
Are the things that make you panic
Are your thoughts results of static cling (Go your own way)

Are the details in the fabric (Hold your own, know your name)
Are the things that make you panic (Go your own way)
Is it Mother Nature’s sewing machine

Are the things that make you blow (Hold your own, know your name)
Hell no reason go on and scream
If you’re shocked it’s just the fault (Go your own way)
Of faulty manufacturing

Everything will be fine
Everything in no time at all
Hearts will hold


Just in Case

July 17, 2008

These days, having insurance is considered practical and necessary. Admittedly, our excitement at using insurance is at par with our excitement at getting a root canal or bouncing a bowling ball on our toes. However, as an adult-size security blanket ”just in case”, insurance finds it’s real purpose.

 

Truth be told, our need for reassurance or anything  approximating it is something we’re introduced to at a young age as adults grappling with their fears wean us on our first ”just in case”:

 

”Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray the Lord my soul to keep

If I die before I wake

I pray the Lord my soul to take”

 

Recently, I’ve been thinking about my own ”just in case” as a creepy e-mail has been making the rounds in cyberspace. According to the e-mail, a massive earthquake registering 8 in the Richter scale will hit Manila on July 18 leveling the city as a result.

 

The email couldn’t have had worse timing. Two weeks before the 18th, two minor tremors were monitored by scientists in the Philippines. A week later a larger tremor hit Taiwan. In recent memory, the 7.4 earthquake which devastated Baguio and Cabanatuan occurred in July, 1990. Likewise, in July, 1900 a massive temblor destroyed swaths of Old Manila. So as far as I’m concerned July as earthquake month isn’t something I’d laugh about or -off easily.

 

Yes, the email creeped me out enough to ”inspire” me to post this but I also think that at some point, all of us not only have to think of where we’re headed but what we’re going to do when we get there.

 

So this is my ”just in case” list (known to more the more affluent as their Last Will and Testament):

 

·         Despite everyone’s opinion that black is slimming – no one wears black. Not even a little Black dress. Eric’s not too hot on black neither am I.

·         I want a cocktail party – a smart one. So nobody should expect to be served San Mig Lite or Pilsen. No sisig or chicharon either. People may bring hors d’oeuvres if they want to showcase their talents in the kitchen.

·         One word: cremation. This is non-negotiable and should be immediate.

·         No sappy ceremonies. This also non-negotiable. Mourning does not become me or my friends (hopefully the cocktails will enhance the conviviality of the occasion).

·         Conversation should be may be slightly off-color or bitchy – better inappropriate than maudlin.

·         Instead of gaudy flower arrangements, I want people to give the money they planned to spend to Golden Acres.

·         The choice of music should be left to Eric – he’ll hate it when he hears the OPM in my mp3 player. Yes, he can play Mariah – but no impersonations, please.

·         As my partner, Eric gets everything – I want him to get something outrageous for himself or go on a vacation somewhere he’s always wanted to go. I want him to always remember how to be happy because that’s how I will always remember him.

 

I ‘m fully aware that I have no power over mortality or destiny or natural phenomenon. What I do have power over is the way I live my life, the way I love and the way I want to be sent off. That being said, I just want to remind all my readers (yes, all seven of you) that all of the above is just in case.


The Fountain of Ironies

July 2, 2008

Darren Aronofsky’s film, The Fountain was a film that I had been anticipating prior to it’s local release mainly because of the two leads: Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz (yes, I am starstruck by these two).  The lead ads for the film featured images as arresting as the premise of the film but, in the beginning, my draws were Hugh and Rachel.

˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜

In a nutshell, the film speaks of the inevitability of death and the continuity of life, not despite of but, because of death. That life goes on because of death. This theme drives the film and does not make for a easy watching – then again, Aronofsky’s oeuvres hardly are.

By coincidence, I’d heard this theme echoed a few weeks prior to Lent at a funeral mass. Mourners gathered around as the gospel read that night, reflecting the occasion of our being there, asked us to consider how the seed needed to die so it can bring forth life.  Growing up in the shade of the Church, I learned to take the message of the parable of the seed on “faith”.  Later in life, I’d recognize it better as an irony.

It is only with hindsight that we eventually realize that the ironies of this life are inescapable. Because we hardly realize these truths unless we’re actually at the receiving end of its consequence. Or when we are provoked into thinking about it after watching a film like The Fountain:

We buy the future at the expense of the present.

We wage wars to secure peace and stability.

We preach both the Beatitudes and hate from the same pulpit.

We extol the human spirit but only in a collective sense.

We yearn for lasting relationships but have none with ourselves.

We cling to life and self-destructive habits with the same tenacity.

If it were a mere harangue of our common habit of leading an unexamined life, the film would have lost its appeal to me in the first 30 minutes.  Ultimately, what bound me to it was not its portrayal of our frailty but its opposite.

You see, beyond irony, the film speaks about letting go of our fear of being lost or abandoned as the people we love are taken from us.  That when we love, our connection to each other survives the tenuousness of all other things human.  That empirical data and our egos may reign in the quantifiable world but useless in the face of moments that are clearly abstract and sublime such as death and love.  At it’s end, what I bear away from the film is the certainty and strength of Isabel’s words to Tomas “Together we will live forever.”