Throwback: Grandfathers

I have not had much experience with grandfathers. Both times, my parents and I have had to travel a long way in order to meet them.

I first saw my maternal grandfather’s face when I was 4 years old, and it was obscured by the glass on his coffin. There was a hole in his back where he had been shot by a competitor land owner. And that is the extent of what I know about him.

I only met my paternal grandfather twice. The first time was when I was five. He hoisted my sister and I up on his shoulders, a tall man with the tell-tale rigid bearing of a soldier, and the world immediately looked less intimidating from his point of view. I didn’t know what to make of him that day, except that he was larger than life and that a lot of people seemed to go in and out of his house. He took us exploring in one of the many forests in Magiron, Bicol, the entirety of which belongs to our family. It is called Montenegro now, in honor of my grandfather’s death. None of these things registered with me at the time. I only remembered that I ruined my new shoes, purchased in Makati, because I jumped into a puddle. I remembered that strangers would come up to me and put my hand to their foreheads, and this reversal of roles felt very strange. I remembered that we went to a sari-sari store for a glass of water and the man at the counter said, “Do you want Coca-cola, or rum? Because you cannot drink the water”. And I didn’t know what to make of that either as I drank my tepid coke.

The second time I met him was when I was 11 years old, and it was for his funeral. When you are the mayor of a region in Bicol, it seems that so many more people outside of family will partake of the mourning. There must have been close to a thousand people at his funeral, and it will be a long time before I forget the heat, and the wailing, and the sheer density of humanity recognizing his death. I didn’t like being at that funeral, because I lost my book riding in the back of the many owner jeeps at the procession, and when I looked at the sea of faces, feet walking slowly behind us, darkened by dust and solemnity,  I knew that I would not get my book back.

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Hospital Sheets

As you lay there, fragile

As the white sheets converge around your limbs

As the curtains draw back, revealing

Outside, the blackness, the night, the trees.

As I sit here, a mute

As the dryness in my mouth becomes greater

Affirmation, the noises, we make at you

This cell, this smell, this night grows darker.

As we watch, unmoving

As the figures flicker in, flicker out

As the creatures in this room, in

This place, you and I, without

ceasing, this terrible rhythm,

you and I, you and I, you and I

and your hospital sheets.


For the watchers, and their vigils.

Throwback: Library

When I was 7 years old and in the first grade I got my own library card. This was an important point in my life, it seemed. In those days my father would pick me up late from school. In fact, I was usually the last kid to be picked up. I didn’t mind.

As the gloaming took over the campus I would walk down to the library beside the gardens, alone, seeing the darkness envelope the grounds. One by one the lights in the classrooms would go off, and the bustling super organism that was a school by day became a quiet tomb of knowledge as night fell.

One light would remain open, and it was the library. I would stay there, for an hour or maybe two, lost in many many worlds. I eventually read all the books in the children’s section, and the pre-teens, and the young adults, and so on. By the time I was 8 I had moved on to the encyclopedias.

I became a familiar face to the librarian, and the school guard. I was always that one kid who didn’t mind being left behind by everyone else.

I had friends in the pages.

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Throwback : Freshman

I was a freshman once.

In those days life was both simple and maddeningly complex. At the tender age of seventeen my emotions were anything but tender- on the contrary I was raw, and rude, and ready. I was a greenhorn at a gigantic, sprawling campus and it was the first time I had ever been away from anywhere and I had heard stories. Oh, I had heard them.

It was the most wonderful thing, to be lost in a city of strangers, and it was terrifying. I did things and I hid things and I felt things and I wrote things and I did everything wrong and I knew nothing, absolutely nothing would stop me.

I played in a band for the first time. I danced. I stole away in the night. I kissed a boy.

Freshmen are ridiculous. And fascinating and beautiful in their gangly, coltish energy.

I was a freshman once. That stupid little girl is still in me, somewhere, smoking a cigarette in secret.

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the sudden spike in temperature
is betrayed by the warmth of your breath
the pulse in your palm
and the color of urgency.
as we dance
to an ancient rhythm
circadian and universal
there is no measure
too great
for us to know

There is only this connection
there is only this spark
and it is only possible
because you have
in me.

I do not envy those
who view it
as something to discard
or a memory to forget

for they

*for The Boy.

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How April Fools Day Can Make You Wiser

Every year our our newsfeeds clog up with the requisite “I’m pregnant”s, “I finally went to that dream city” and “I hooked up with so and so”.

 It’s funny how people take only one day out of the year to speak what’s always been on their minds, and it’s the day they expect no one to believe them. I wonder if there’s a petition out there to rename April Fool’s to “What I Really Think Day”.

 A little reading between the lines has always proved to be more beneficial than not, even if it’s not without its hazards (read: in the same vein, ignorance may also be bliss if that’s your cup of tea).

 I suppose the main point of this little post really is this: Perception is key to living life on bigger terms. People like to put themselves in little boxes, operating in finite terms, functioning through limited goals. This is not to say that we shouldn’t be realistic, by all means, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aim higher, either.

 It’s all about perception. You could think of it as a typical day in the career you hate, sitting beside that officemate you have nothing in common with, listening to her or him prattle on about something you have no interest in. You could think of it as a city with nothing to do, with a bunch of nobodies to hang out with, too sleepy for your racy socialite needs. You could think of it as a subject in school you are convinced will have absolutely no impact in your life as a future Palanca winner. You could think of it as the nth time your lover has missed the point of your well-rehearsed argument.

 But here’s the rub: more often than not, we have no fucking idea what we’re talking about. We never see more than meets the eye - and we always judge things before we give them a chance, then we put them in the boxes we like to call our lives. We are constantly frustrated by our own impositions. And everyone in the world is just like us.

 Except on April Fools Day. That day where we allow ourselves to think just beyond what we usually allow ourselves, that day we hope a little more ridiculously, aim a little more frivolously, talk a little more freely.

 So here’s my question: Why not be frivolous, ridiculous, and free more often? I’m sure detractors have a ready “because we can’t afford to, you silly daydreamer”.

That’s where you’re wrong.

 Every single person can afford to dream, so dream big, dream stupid, dream ridiculous. A heightened awareness of ourselves, the world around us, and the people we interact with broadens our perception and allows us to live life on bigger, better terms.

That sleepy little town where absolutely nothing interesting happens is a motherlode of possibility for someone else. Your lover who doesn’t understand you loves you anyway. Your office mate talks so much to you because you are so different from everyone else, exchanging admiration for your scorn. That subject you hate was paid for by your father who never got to take it because they were poor growing up. What you think is boring reality is someone else’s dream. Again, perception is key.

 Find awesomeness in mundane life, not because you’re a person incapable of coming to terms with reality, but because you’re the kind of person who looks at the world with constant, new-found wonder.

 Happy April Fool’s Day.

Event Diary: Love, Loss, and Libido {LitOrgy 2013}

February 16th was the night of LitOrgy’s annual event, hosted by The Davao Writer’s Guild, involving poetry reading, performance art, monologues, and this year… a band performance (by us!).

Wrap documenting the goings-on

Chuck Fournier playing his electronica setlist

Spoken word accompanied by music

Spoken word accompanied by dance

I read one of my memoirs before my band came onstage

John Bengan reads a story called Bad Heart

My band performs 3 of our originals from both 1st and 2nd EP

Mandy takes video

An appreciative, intent crowd composed of writers

After the event, goofing off with Marky

Bagane showing a rare smile

Film crew and us

My outfit was… stellar.

MtG everywhere!

The organizers Karla, Allen, Julian and Chi.

LitOrgy’s Love, Loss and Libido was definitely a different sort of event, a little more subtlety, a little more reading between the lines than a regular gig. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Props to the organizers for pulling it off successfully. I’m looking forward to next year’s!

xx Jad

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2013 Bucket List: A Year of Firsts

[edit: it’s 2014 and I’m checking what I accomplished!]

1. Learn a new language.

I’ve been dabbling in minor Japanese for so many years now. I want this to be the year that I finally take on this high-context language and master it. (2014: did not do this. Oh well, I can try again this year!)

2. Finish my band’s entire album.

We’re just about to finish the 2nd EP. That means we can package it with the first, giving us a 12-song album. Then my heart can rest. (2014: yes! We finished this AND toured in two cities!)

3. Buy a Google Nexus 7 tablet.

Because we want something that lets us surf without wanting to scream, while mobile. (I got an ipad mini instead!)

4. Buy a canon prime lens.

Because I’ve been using manual Pentax lenses with my 550D, and I want to see how it performs using the lenses made for it. (I bought a 50mm f/1.8!)

5. Buy a new phone.

Something with actual buttons. (I’m still stuck with my touchscreen. egh)

6. Get hi-def cable.

We just bought a new TV, and you know what they say:
With great screen comes great pixelation. (we tried to get cable! but we’re too lazy to get our barangay clearance.)

7. Travel with The Boy.

We aren’t travelers, him and I. We like to stay where we are. But that will change. (we totally traveled a lot in 2013!)

8. Have our first child.

We will be trying, and we will be hoping. (still just the two of us. fingers crossed this year!)

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A Reply to: OPM is dead, so sue me

Reposting what I commented in reply to this article called OPM is Dead, So Sue Me, written by Leloy Claudio.

In a recent article for the Philippine Star, cultural critic Don Jaucian dared to complain about the arts, specifically the state of Original Pilipino Music (OPM), and he got flamed for it on Twitter and the blogosphere  (see Shinji Manlangit’s for a similarly critical piece).
For Jaucian, OPM’s death can be gleaned when “yesteryear’s hits” are “sung to death by variety show singers,” while newer acts “struggle to get their original material released.”
Of course, when someone raises a fair complaint, leave it to the defenders of the status quo to reproduce the logic of Norman Vincent Peale’s facile self-help books, commanding gadflies to stay positive and work hard despite the real injustices of the world.
Which is what a some bloggers and their followers did in the aftermath of Jaucian’s polemic. “You don’t go to enough gigs of bands you don’t know,” says Rain Contreras, who says he’s been witness to “three decades worth of Pinoy music.”
“I’ve been a part of the music scene since 2002,” declares Carlo Casas, who is proud of the fact that, among his friends from the industry, none of them think OPM is “CLOSE to being dead.”
Pulling rank, I see. Well thank you for admitting that ya’ll are insiders, whose instinct is to close ranks and defend their own.
Someone like Rico Blanco can, of course, easily say that OPM is alive and kicking, because he’s Rico Blanco. Glad to discover that Casas and Contreras share the perspective of a musical demigod, whose purview greatly differs from those on earth.
So how did “heroes” like Blanco actually make it? Simple, notes Casas; they just “put in the hard work.” And to young musicians, he deigns to impart sagely advice: “You have the Internet. You all have what all of your heroes of your teen angst years didn’t: The world at your fingertips. Share your music on social media. You have things like Soundcloud, Facebook and Twitter.”
Take the argument to its logical conclusion: if you don’t make it, poor padawan, it’s nobody’s fault but yours. Don’t criticize “the man” for making it tough on poor musicians. Rock was never about complaining anyway. The people who bitched like Dylan and the Sex Pistols were wrong. Stay happy. Surf the net. And if you lack support, it’s because you didn’t tweet enough.
Try saying the same thing to novelists, painters, and other artists who don’t receive enough support in the Philippines.
It’s in this way that Casas and Jaucian’s other critics conjure away the power of media conglomerates and distribution networks, while patronizing younger artists. It’s not like social media isn’t awash with music from young musicians who put out their work for free, or promos for gigs where you pay P150 for entrance, a beer, and five bands. The Casas musicological theorem of “internet + hard work = magic bullet to success” is fiction.

My reply:

I’m an independent musician. Hi. Basically, it’s my industry you’ve labelled with a fatal affliction, thanks for the headsup. A lot of my friends know you, and have risen to defend your article, saying you totally go to underground gigs and rock out to independent acts too, so you’re plugged in and have a right to make a diagnosis about the state of the music scene. So, you’re just one of us, right? We shouldn’t feel insulted, right?


As much as I would like to lump myself in with you, LC, as fellow sympathizers of the damage brought about by social cancer, we view the world differently. Not everything in this world is driven by spite, and not every musician is driven by returns. Before you wrote your whole tirade, you should have made it clear what your premise for what defines “success” is - and by god, that is not the premise that defines the creation of music by Filipinos.

An artist doesn’t draw something because he’s thinking about how much he’s going to sell it for, he drew it because he found it beautiful or he simply wanted to. At the very beginning, art is created because someone wanted to. Profits, marketing, and appreciation by others are all consequent factors. So pardon artists and musicians for feeling insulted because someone who is “plugged in” presumes to tell them what they do and why they do it, and then declare that there’s no point. It’s so not cool of you to say “don’t carry on, because there is no support system”. How about we carry on because we freaking want to?

And if you’re going to argue that there are artists and musicians that make music solely for profit, and that is the premise and audience for which you wrote his article, then your view is even more skewed and cynical than I initially believed. As much as you can step back and say “hey, I didn’t mean it for you guys, I meant it for those guys”, you did a poor job of establishing it in this article, hence the backlash.

You deserve every bit of backlash you get, Leloy Claudio, but none of the musicians you put down deserved the holes you deliberately punched in their aspirations. Shame on you, but thanks for telling me things I already know, without giving me an inch of faith. I hope someone comes up to you and does exactly the same thing.

Oh, and here’s a link to my “young indie band’s latest demo which will not get airplay in Barangka the way the E-heads did in the 90s.” That’s fine with me - It’s not the 90’s, and I’m not the Eraserheads, and that has never been a bad thing for me, nor has it dwindled my ability to create music.

When visited by their children, some parents send them home with food. My dad sends me home with a box full of Arthur C. Clarke, Terry Goodkind, George RR Martin, Zelazny, Asimov, Ron L Hubbard, Robert Jordan, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and JR Tolkien, just to name a few. Currently sifting through my treasure box. #scifi/fantasygasmSexiness part 2
[My parents used to supply books to all the used bookstores in the city as one of their businesses. I grew up surrounded by stories, which explains the now irreversible addiction. :D]
Hospital Sheets

As you lay there, fragile

As the white sheets converge around your limbs

As the curtains draw back, revealing

Outside, the blackness, the night, the trees.

As I sit here, a mute

As the dryness in my mouth becomes greater

Affirmation, the noises, we make at you

This cell, this smell, this night grows darker.

As we watch, unmoving

As the figures flicker in, flicker out

As the creatures in this room, in

This place, you and I, without

ceasing, this terrible rhythm,

you and I, you and I, you and I

and your hospital sheets.

For the watchers, and their vigils.

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Family Day

I spent yesterday with my family and I’m always glad to be able to spend time with them because we’re all working and live far apart. I was especially excited to see my little niece Ysabelle, because I don’t get to see her often.

As usual, our family seemed to have some weird sense of color ESP and everyone showed up in shades of yellow and orange. With the exception of my dad and husband, who both wore red. So weird. The last time it happened, we all showed up in black. -_-

I’m loving my little brother’s fashion sense lately, because he’s been showing a love for neon and two-toned outfits:

I wore orange to go with my hair, but my roots are growing in really fast, can you see where it’s purple and on top of my head it’s all black? Lol. I like it though!

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Things I Need To Do Today

1. Figure out why the fuck I woke up so early

2. Force myself to fall asleep cos I have a gig later tonight

3. Not forget that I now have a new band mate who may not be used to the fact that I am a real weirdo

4. Finish this mohawk hat that I am crocheting for my friend’s birthday cos another friend of mine is picking it up this afternoon

5. Have hat meetups for my customers at 5pm today

6. ship a hat to Cebu

7. Try not to forget the words to The Wolves by Bon Iver cos we’re covering it and I keep forgetting the part where I should scream at the end cos I have to freaking strum my guitar like a crazy person and count the exact number of times I have to strum and our drummer just bangs the drums like he’s going to break them and it seriously makes me want to explode but in a good way

8. meet with all my artsy friends who are coming to my gig cos my friend Cheekie and I are determined to start a subculture revolution and we’re amassing an army (she tweeted that she was dead serious so I can do no less! Noted, will wear creepers and bowler hat to this meeting)

9. Figure out something decent to wear because as we’re playing my friend Bagane will be shooting our set for a music video and I seriously dunno how to multitask looking smexy and play the correct notes at the same time - more likely, I will be making my stupid palsied face as I sing and I will be slouching and look fat

10. Eat adobo cos I miss adobo

The Boy was too busy to take a photo of my outfit today so I hadda take it ghetto-style in front of my dresser mirror.Thugliiii~iife.Anyway.I rearranged some of my books and noticed that most of them are really beat up!Whether they’re bought new or salvaged from a used bookstore, they eventually all end up looking dog-eared and ratty. Lookatdat, my Heinlein paperback is so scratched up and faded you can’t tell what the title and who the author is from the spine anymore.
Today was my little brother’s birthday, so The Boy and I went to my folks’ for his birthday dinner.I mentioned before that I was trying to lose weight, right? Well, how can I lose any weight when my mother keeps cooking all this frickan delicious food:

Birthday boy:That’s my aunt who has the same birthdate as my brother, and my brother’s girlfriend’s family in the background.I’m still stuffed 2 hours after the dinner, and mom insisted we bring home food cos she’s convinced The Boy and I would eat takeout everyday if we could (she’s right) and that we’re full of preservatives and aren’t eating healthy. So I have my kinilaw and my mango float and my chicken macaroni salad (all of which I realize now I forgot to take pictures of. Probably because I was too busy eating them.) in the fridge right now. omnomnomnomnomnom
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Spent Valentine’s Day in the hospital, with my mom and dad. Still recovering from a bad bout of stomach flu. And The Boy stayed by my bedside all night putting cold washcloths on my forehead to help bring my fever down. I felt more loved than if someone had dumped a truck of roses on me.

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