Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Of Black Bags and Black Umbrella

Riding the jeepney one rainy afternoon, I saw an old friend. He was seated right in front of me, being himself he didn’t recognize me. It’s been awhile since I saw this guy. Except for the glasses and beard, he still looked the same. I think he slimmed down a bit, the last time I can recall he was not as thin. “There’s a storm coming”, the weatherman said, “it’s headed your way, so better brace yourselves”.

A rugged road seemed to look smooth up ahead was actually too much water and it is still rising fast. I hate to wade on flooded streets though I've been there a lot, want to step on dry solid ground where it is safe.

Now this guy in front of me, I noticed something different. I felt sadness and grief as I was studying his face. He was lost in thought, he seemed so alone. At first glance he seemed so fine and he used to be good in concealing whatever that bothers him. He still looked cool you know, but I can tell that there is struggle within him. I want to ask why but I decided to let him be. The one thing that I envy are his eyes. Those eyes could talk you see, that’s his vulnerability. Those eyes betrayed him. Even his glasses could not hide the hurt and pain. Hurt and pain (among other things) are what those eyes would silently scream.

Six years ago was the first time I saw this look. It was all about love and promises, a thing we all can relate with. He tried to keep it to himself but to a good friend that has now left this world. They were buddies since childhood and he was indeed a great loss. What I would later learn was that he was really devastated. I was worried he might get lost along the way. “Groping and searching in darkness” is how he described it. He never told me what it was and I never asked. I merely shook my head and did my best to sympathize. The pain was terrible it made his nose bleed, not from physical harm but from deep inside because something needs to be released. Surprisingly he bounced back. He would later explain about the dangers of the “first time”. To be confronted by unfamiliar situations that would lead to unfamiliar emotions, where the only choice is between love and hate. Your choice would reveal the kind of person you are. The danger is letting yourself be swallowed by fury and pride. The point is to be honest and true to yourself and the rest. The answer was just within him it seems. It was a slow process though, never expect overnight results. Even those top doctors in their immaculate whites can’t, unless maybe you’re JESUS, who will even raise you up from the dead.

I was never expecting to see him look like this again, yet there he was right in front of me on that rainy Tuesday afternoon, wearing that face again. Obviously sad I would say, trying to conceal it in the rain. “At least the weather’s cooperating”, I tried to say. He stared and smiled. “Where are you headed?” he asked. He wasn’t sure it was me seated in front of him he said, and “I don’t talk to strangers you know” and grinned mischievously. I told him I was on my way home. “Where are you headed? Do you need directions? you might get lost in the flood”, I repeated. By then it was raining very hard. “A storm is approaching”, I remembered what the weatherman said.

I can’t recall how he convinced me, or it’s probably me, but there I was waiting for my beer as he was sorting the balls. All the solids and that yellow striped one. “Race to five and it’s your break”, we can stay here until the storm passes.” He played well, I did fine. I won twice because he scratched the nine. It was fun doing what we used to do, I felt good not from the beer or the weed but from that feeling of nostalgia. I can’t explain it and probably he felt it too. He talked less during the first two games and he would later say, “It is sometimes good to have a moment of silence in places like these”, it sounded funny for a while considering we were in a billiard hall full of people doing their stuff just to pass the time and the storm. I thought it was a joke. It took me a moment to realize he was opening up. This friend of mine talks in riddles, he doesn’t like direct talk. “Why go straight when you have other options, always remember straight is just another option”, he philosophized. His words sounded bitter, sarcastic and at times arrogant. That was how he was six years ago. I learned he’s got a wife and a son whom he loves a lot. It is a great experience being a father, a continuing experience; “the ultimate test to man’s soul” was how he described being a family man. A learning process wherein it will really test your own personality and your capabilities in love and sometime bitterness and hate. It is where you come face to face with your strengths and weaknesses, and most especially your fears. You just have to sometimes just let things be for it won’t do any good if one tries to figure everything out. That’s what makes this world an exciting place to live; he called it “the uncertainties”. I wanted to hear some more, so I remained silent. I can sense he was struggling for words he decided to take a shot.

 “Perfect”, as he sank the eight, the cue ball bounced from one corner to another, only to stop at the other end. “Tough shot”, I said, but I know he can do it, sometimes we tend to limit ourselves too much, I think that it is healthy from time to time to go beyond. A black umbrella caught his attention, a girl with a black bag trying to cross the street. He stared at it flatly and laughed. “I think I need to see an eye specialist, something’s wrong with my vision”. I’m pretty sure it was a black one though, and the bag is black too. Everything else is hazy. I told him he should see one, or maybe it’s just the beer. It’s just our third and I’m a bit tipsy.

Have you ever been convinced by what you feel and not what you see? It can be a strange feeling. We experience it every day but often ignore. You just notice it when it hits you hard. BOOM!

I was able to meet that old friend after ten years; he still looks cool, minus the glasses and the beard. He seems to be at peace now although it’s quite normal to look worrisome once in a while. That’s how it is, he told me. It’s just a matter of adapting, adjusting and accepting…


Discovered this "piece" printed on a letter sized tracing paper while looking for some old stuff to bring to Boracay last year. Ahhh...

This was written almost 15 years ago during my transition from my being "turbulent" to being "calm". Lot's of questions during those times, confused and bitter as well. Been there,done that...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

attitudes and earthquakes

I told you I am lazy. I explained it the first time I tried this "blog" thing. Been quite busy this past year, tied up with work, raising kids, supporting a family and along the way a lot of interesting events happened which I thought would be a great topic to write about. But then again, I told you I am lazy.

Let's get this started before I run out of batteries...

"Tied up with work" means as it is. It means routine and it also means food on the table. Was actually given a promotion last year which I am very thankful of. Not a very lucrative promotion though, but it sure did increase my loan capacity with the banks and all. hahahaha...

My position requires me to oversee all the drawings, designs and some personnel management of a certain division of the office but since my immediate superior was also promoted ( to be the big boss of the office), he took me along to act as his secretary. People say that it means power, I say it just means more work and I'm no power tripper. I believe in free speech and ideas, i'm a bohemian who like things laid back and easy. I salute them great people of the 60's and the 70's, the golden age of rock, free thinking and creativity, the offshoot of which is the generation that I belong. (read previous blog)

There had been several attempts to revive or better yet re-live my music career (if there was any), an old friend suggested to form a new wave band, it made me think if I can still do it. Sure, my guitar playing is somewhat decent, but not the level of playing that I once had, and I admit the passion is not as intense as before. Needless to say I borrowed some stuff from friends to get me started once more only to end up playing the same old tunes over again. Used to practice for hours on end during those days when all that matters is to be a guitar god. It was fine during the first few nights practicing. Much more like a trip down memory lane while playing those old yet classic tunes. There was an instance when I jammed with a band about one year ago. Had a drink too many to cool the nerves, ended up having double vision I can't see the strings, it was truly a disaster. (I ain't no Joey "Pepe" Smith who can get away with it...)

What really kept me preoccupied this past 3 years was Ultimate Frisbee. I really was into the game that despite the age differences with my co-players I persevered. Tuesday and Thursday nights is Ultimate Frisbee night for me. Nobody can disrupt that schedule except maybe for a typhoon (we do wet games) and health issues. I trained hard the same way those kids half my age train, we joined a lot of tournaments, been to a lot of places and met a lot of people in the frisbee community. It made me fit, increased my stamina and endurance and also gave me a chance to lead these young kids. It has been my idea to "set-up" the club, build up a set of ideals, values and principles for them young kids to follow (on and off the field) when their time to lead comes. Being a game without referees, it is a game of honor and honesty, we call it the SPIRIT OF THE GAME. It's more than just a game to me, applying such principles in life I think can make one a better person. I tried instilling such ideas in a very subtle way to them kids, very gently that is since I am dealing with various personalities. There was a moment where I was very blunt in pointing out the reason why a certain game collapsed, but I did not point out the flaws in their play or the lack of communication in the field, I told them it was a lack of respect for each other and their attitude that affected their game, "that is not the kind of people our club is made of", I said. There, hoping it gave you an idea of the kind of principles and ideals I am talking about. Anyway, it's been almost 3 years and there had been some ups and downs, had been praised, had been looked upon (which is not really the point here), had my first TV interview and was recently insulted. No point to elaborate here, it's just time to move on I guess, pass the torch, ease off and let them be.

Hmm, that was quite a mouthful...

On other news, I still believe that life is a constant struggle, that's what makes this thing called life interesting and worth living. Be it a need for perfection, a search for inner peace, or the drive to be successful, such things keeps us up day after day. The thrill and excitement of success or the pain and suffering of rejection and failure. You can never tell what the next day is gonna offer. This past week our region was rocked by earthquakes, both of which I failed to notice or experience. The first one I was sleeping like a log, and the other one while I was driving. No matter, even those smart scientists in their immaculate white robes and hair, in this modern day technology, still couldn't predict when the next one's gonna happen. I say we leave it that way. That way people can give, share and make love like it's the end of the world...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

OP Topic

After several persistent calls from my old friends, i wasn't able to refuse their invite to check out this place at Smallville. Perhaps i ran out of excuses or maybe i'm just a bit paranoid and uncomfortable if i just let my wife go alone . Anyways, after spending half of my Saturday at a "Mountaineering Festival" in Guimaras (only to go home after lunch cause i got bored...), and later playing Ultimate Frisbee in the afternoon, i was ready to crash in bed when i received some text messages informing me that they are already there and what time will we be coming... tsk tsk tsk

It was an hour before midnight when we left the house, little Alyssa had fallen asleep while Julian pretended to watch tv but i'm pretty certain once we're gone it's back to this Habbo game where he pretends to be a CIA spy or something...

I usually take the taxi everytime i go out at night, especially if there's some drinking involved, and not to mention my fear of getting caught by the LTO because of the single headlight that "lights up". Sure, both headlights work if i put it on high beam but that's pretty rude to incoming traffic and drivers. I guess i'd just rather get high than my headlights...

The place is called Rooftop Brewery, Rooftop because it is located on a deck, a roof deck actually. It was a very nice idea of the owner of Smallville to add this roof deck thing, it creates a different kind of atmosphere and ambiance. Just always be reminded that it's a roof and not a sidewalk, falling over is obviously not an option, unless of course one want's to be remembered by almost everyone who frequents the place and be seen on tv courtesy of the local news program, not to mention hospital visits and bills.

Brewery, because they sell beers. Local and imported beers. But who gives a shit. I came because my friends say they play New Wave. Ahh, New Wave, a lot comes to mind when such is mentioned, the era, the look, the attitude, romanticism and the music. It's kind of a small place, about 5 by 7 meters, aluminum tables and chairs, an imported scooter (not a vespa) was i think the centerpiece display (although twas not displayed in the center) a bar at the far end and a DJ's booth about three steps from the bar. The sound system is a bit loud you have to raise your voice two notches higher to be heard or stick your mouth next to the ear of someone you are conversing with. That's actually pretty ok as long as you are talking to a say hot chick who smells so good and fresh and who very willingly would offer you her neck and ears everytime you say something, but if you are talking to a drunk, ashtray smelling, sweaty and talkative male specie, man that's the kind of intoxication you wouldn't want to ruin your evening with.

The interior (exterior maybe cause it's on a rooftop) design is pretty simple, there is nothing in there that gives us a hint about new wave, just that expensive scooter which perhaps the owner wants to display to remind us that he's a car enthusiast who owns this car accessory shop all over town.

They did play some new wave classics alright, but to the purist, THEY SUCK!!! I was pretty annoyed when some Menudo tunes was played by the DJ, i was gripping the bottle pretty hard ready to do a forehand huck, lucky him i thought about my kids' future. hahahaha, Rick Asshole, square rooms was their downfall. The DJ, i remember was a poser from way back, he was feeling pretty good about himself though. I remained polite the whole evening...

We got drunk, enjoyed some of the songs, had fun with Butch, Jin-Jin, Leo, Dodoy and his Lady Love. Saw some old and familiar faces. These 80's people sure do need a watering hole they can call their own.

The bottomline? Anybody can do what Rooftop Brewery did or is currently doing. With a perfect location, a bit of marketing here and there nothing can go wrong, it's the sincerity in this thing called New Wave is what matters though. New Wave is not just all about music, it's a way of life, that's what these Rooftop guys misunderstood when they were growing up...

We will be hosting a New Wave party on the 19th of June, in honor of Dr. Jose Rizal's birthday. We will do it our way, our music, our concept. Falling Chair production presents...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Summer Tornado

Been reading some Facebook posts of my friends that it is indeed stormy and windy in some places in the US. Just got a call from my dad yesterday and confirmed it. They are currently in New Orleans and he told me that a storm is brewing. Geez, that confirms all the posts that i have been reading for the past days.

Ahhh... most people would say "Global Warming" whenever topics about this "erratic" weather pattern comes up. Yep, "Global Warming" is such a common word it has been a part of our vocabulary for the past, hmm,...lemme see, five years. And to think that such term was or is only about 30 years old...

No! This is not another campaign or information drive. This is perhaps the result of early morning sex on an office day and reading some interesting posts while waiting for my "2nd breakfast". It just made me wonder. Aside from an additional word in our vocabulary (which is a very good thing). Is man adversely affected by global warming or climate change mentally? Sure, man's behavior will obviously show some inconsistencies from his usual self, but it would take another person (an observer) to point out if one has indeed shown some behavioral (?) modification due to global warming. (excuse the term guys, I'm avoiding the word "change" here, but there, i just did...)

I think summer is just trying to peak here in Iloilo, Having failed to peak during it's supposed schedule to do so. Trying because one can certainly feel the sun's effort to scorch us only to be extinguished later in the day by clouds, rain and thunderstorms. Even the local weather bureau was baffled by this phenomenon after having announced earlier to brace for a long hot and dehydrating summer. The presence of that mid summer tornado was probably the highlight of it all...Haven' t experienced too much wind in the summertime, and rain...

Anyway, as part of my observation, recession or no recession, global warming is here to stay affecting our lives and minds, no matter what the weather is, always expect the unexpected. The presence of strong gusts will always be around, always be...The way we manage our lives will surely be affected by the temperature on the open road or indoors, our temperament and decisions included. Making sensible judgment in whatever form is vital to preserve one's sanity in this erratic minded, windy and stormy world. It will surely reflect one's strength and weaknesses.

I'm meeting the Mayor of our beloved city today, heard he's gonna promote me one step higher. Shaven but still indecisive on what to wear. Do I wear my QUIT COAL!!! jersey? Do I want to be demoted instead? or maybe my Jimi Hendix shirt from a generous classmate... Maybe i'll just check out some Levi's jeans by the mall downstairs and also pass by Tommy's booth too. Nah...i'm not into Nike, just bought a pair of Adidas football studs last month, been playing Ultimate Frisbee since January, trimmed down a bit actually, feeling more sexier and endurance wise...yeah. ..

I guess i'll just take it one step at a time. Finish this missive, take a shower and choose from a wide array of 2-3 year old clothes in my closet. Put on my favorite worn out trousers, admire myself in the mirror (yeah...i do that just to keep my sanity...hehehe) and play even for a while with little Alyssa before leaving hoping that my 12 year old car won't break down on my way to the office...


This was actually a response to someone (won't mention his name) from one of my egroups who posted something about shopping and giving advise (supposedly) on which place is cheaper, how many pieces he bought, how much if converted to our local currency... which is totally unsolicited. That's the reason why this global warming, summer hurricane, levi's, tommy, and Nike came into the picture if you get my drift...

Saturday, December 13, 2008


There I was seated alone while the rest of them were dancing, drunk and as if possessed by some nostalgic music (if you might call it). Suddenly, it occured to me, what the f*ck am I doing here? It certainly is not my idea of a night out. It just happened that that someone close is celebrating her birthday. Perhaps I am being polite, yet it seems I am looking rude at the moment, just silently sitting and watching all the action, looking bored, pretending to be drunk and from time to time trying to muffle a yawn. A wallflower, a moron amongst the phonies. Society would dictate that if there's dancing one should join in and sway with the music. To be with the flow. Well, I would often go against things, I certainly have this problem with authority since my school days. Not that I'm a habitual law breaker or to put if blankly an a*sh#le. It's just not my kind of thing, dancing and all. Party for me is a gathering of close friends, intimate conversation while slowly trying to get drunk and maybe some music on the side.

Don't get me wrong though, you should have seen me during "those" days. If one compares with the gimmicks of todays younglings they would be put to shame and embarassment.hehehe, Yet every generation has it's own trends and lifestyle. Having been there and done that perhaps made me behave this way.

I didn't want to be rude believe me, during all the dancing I tried to "fit in", hoping that I might be carried away by the energy and the vibes of those beautiful people inside. But no, I'm sorry, temptation should come in another form.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Influentially influenced

I started playing the guitar when I was in high school. There was this classmate who would bring his guitar to school almost everyday. They would sing folk and country songs during our vacant periods. In between those “jam” sessions I would try to sing along with them. Mostly Beatles, America, etc… Sometimes they would let me play, having taught me some chords. The first song that I played was “A Horse With No Name” by America because it has only two chords in it. Right there and then I got hooked.

I don’t wanna play the songs that they do. I was already into new wave and punk rock then. I started researching on my own, buying guitar magazines and trying to play by ear. It was all but strumming and a little plucking, no lead solo’s yet and the chords were pretty basic. I kept begging my parents for a guitar but they decided otherwise saying it’s not good for my “studies”. That did not stop me anyway. Everytime I would go to a friend’s house and I would see a guitar hanging by the wall, I would find an excuse to borrow it. Yup, I was literally addicted to music.

Playing like The Edge or Robert Smith seems a pretty cool thing, the problem is with very limited equipment and knowledge (I was and am still self-taught) it can be hard. Then one day a friend introduced me to the music of The Dawn. Hmmm… Nice name for a band huh? It was their first single “Enveloped Ideas” and the intro literally blew me away! Wow! This one’s really different, they sounded foreign but they’re really from this land. I became a fan from that day on. They were pretty tight, just the type of music that I was looking for. The guitar player was particularly one of a kind. He was Teddy Diaz and his presence on stage is so magnetic and fiery. He emanates an aura that draws you in him, the intensity of his playing is so contagious that you wanna be a guitar player after seeing him play. I’ve seen a lot of good guitar players but nothing compares with Teddy. He was the driving force of the band.

Unfortunately he died. He was killed, in front of his girlfriend’s house. Robbed, stabbed and left for dead. It is such a sad story I don’t want to discuss it here. We we’re already playing gigs during the time of his untimely death. I was trying to emulate Teddy, his licks, his moves and his style of music. Then the news that he’s gone…The guy who broke the news to me was my best friend and my bandmate, he was also a very good musician. A very talented artist for that matter. He can play any song by ear, writes and sings like a pro. He was my friend since my kindergarten days, sad to say he died before the turn of the century. I promise I will write something about him soon.

The music didn’t stop there, we still had our band, playing cover tunes, I was even in a heavy metal band for a while, and when I decided not to show up in one of our gigs, the drummer teased me that my music is “pop”. Hehehe, Whatever! As for the Dawn, the music continued, having replaced Teddy with a couple of guitarists until they got Francis Reyes who was a close friend of Ted and a very good musician too. They were here last November 21, wherein they played on a poorly advertised gig, but nevertheless me and my friends showed up and give support. This time I was up close and personal with them, being a member of their mailing list. I’m this big a fan you know, dragged my wife to the airport to meet them and even bought her a lister’s shirt (lister’s : that’s what we are called). Junboy (the drummer) and I would oftentimes exchange emails and all. We would talk about Teddy’s death (healing), music and music…

We are currently cooking something for the “Dinagyang” festival this coming January, and I’m really excited about it because The Dawn will be there!
As for my guitar playing, it sucks! During the “younger” days, I would stay in my room and play the guitar for hours until the neighbors would complain about the noise. Hehehe. Then I lost my electric guitar and effects to a very bad lady named Sharon. Years ago I bought an acoustic guitar, a very nice acoustic guitar. It sounded very good but it needs some maintenance, so it stayed inside its leather case most of the time. The last time I played live was during our office’s Christmas party. I did an acoustic set with a female co worker who sing’s pretty ok. And that’s it.

A few weeks ago I borrowed the guitar of another female friend saying that I’ll be practicing for an upcoming gig. Well, it’s really true that there’s an upcoming gig. Not a really fancy one sort of a party kind of thing, I’m letting my wife sing this time. (she can sing, mind you). I’m currently reviewing some old familiar acoustic songs. I might play some acoustic guitar instrumental if I can finish the piece on time and depending on the behavior of my 10 month old baby daughter who would “head bang” everytime she sees me holding and playing the guitar. That would really make me stop what I’m doing, grab the camera and try to capture that moment.

My eldest who is seven years old can sing too. It’s not boasting or being a stage dad but I yeah, he can sing. The longer the explanation about his singing would reveal the stage father in me. Hehehe. Anyway, he would always want to sing a song with me every night before bedtime. Mostly the Dawn songs, Enveloped Ideas, I Stand With You, Little Paradise are his favorites. I’m planning to let him sing some Sting songs which is also a favorite. There was a time when we were having dinner in a restaurant that plays jazz over their PA speakers when Louis Armstrong’s classic “What A Wonderful World” was played. Other guests were blown away when he and my 5 year old daughter sang along to the tune. That really made dad proud! Instead of reciting the usual nursery rhymes, there they were singing their little lungs out to a tune that was written even before I was born.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Generation

I'm proud to proclaim that I belong to the 80's generation. It was the era of New Wave, Punk and Anarchy...non-conformity was a common cause. We ain't got no cell phones, no internet, no text messages, no yahoo messenger, no goggle yet the kids of my generation is still connected with an unseen bond that confuses even me. What is that common denominator that keeps such generation cool? The music perhaps, The attitude? The fashion or maybe the passion. It is undeniable that 80’s music is one of the best in terms of musical genre.

New wave music, which is a mix of the music of the 60’s and the 70’s is such a classic. Romanticism, poetry and psychedelic vibes blended magnificently. I can still hear new wave influenced bands invading the airwaves. Some local bands even had the guts in changing the lyrics and claiming such tunes as theirs. Can’t blame them though cause the hooks and the melodies are so addictive and at the same time soothing for someone to think that it was written especially for him. Several classics were produced during that highly creative era.

The fashion statement was also one of a kind. Black which was often used during funerals and mourning became the color of the moment. We were once branded as Satanists or cult members for wearing black outfits with spiky hair. It was during those times when an alleged cult would abduct little children, dressed in black with spiky hair do, and offer the poor kids during their satanic rituals. Hahaha, I guess some government bureaucrat was successful in covering whatever he the government was trying to hide by creating such public hysteria. In those days we were frowned upon, people would treat you differently because you have porcupine hair and studded boots. But it was more than just a fashion statement; the attitude comes with it too. Can’t explain how it works though. Hehehe

The art scene was also very much alive during the 80’s. Local artists were busy creating. Shows and exhibits were all around and the resulting art work really reflected the moment that was then. The atmosphere was really conducive in creating art and music that we would be at the Museo Iloilo almost every month to support an exhibit or a one man show.

Local bands also started to sprout out. The local music scene then was limited to a few restaurants that have cover bands that play whatever you wish them to play. Much like a jukebox, drop a coin, choose a song and press play. They were good no doubt about that, what’s missing is the feeling and the attitude that should go with every song. There’s no passion if I might say. The only way local acts would get gig is if New Wave concerts were organized, the favorite venue was at UP auditorium because it’s cheap. Bands would also play cover tunes but of their own choosing and also their own interpretation of a particular song. That’s how things started as far as I see it. Look at the scene now.

To quote the station I.D. of a now defunct but still have a cult following radio station,

“The station that dares to be different”

You dare?