Shoe-Stringing at 28

Another year has passed by, and it’s my birthday once again! boy how time flies, and now, I’m really getting there, getting older.  Looking at some fifteen, twenty years back, I would have been really excited I mean, celebrating your day as a child was just priceless. for those who do not know me, I was born in April, on this date, at exactly 7:48 am. Maybe that’s the reason why I am so fond of mornings. I remember, during our early years, me and my twin brother had always been celebrating our birthdays outside of our home, in our compound, always basking in the summer sun. We would always start the day by waking up really early, racing and hustling down the stairs in our PJs, always expecting for those color-assorted-balloons, party hats, and the noises our childhood friends make, while they play and wait for the party outside.  As the Pabitin (filipino pinata) is being set up, we would always find ourselves on the sidelines, already eyeing for the prizes that were being tied and hung on a grid made of kawayan or bamboo, 2 to 3 hours before the party.  the stuff being tied there were nothing expensive actually, they were just cheap toys, like a couple of 20 buck water guns, a pair of plastic tennis rackets, some plastic toy soldier figures, and repacked sweets like Serg’s bars and Goya gold coins, some several bags of the famous candies back then like the Haw-haw, Tarzan, Bigboy, and the legendary Mik-mik the powdered milk in a sachet that kids really loved.

The Pabitin had always been the highlight of the party. And as each year went by, and when the budget for our kiddie parties had to be cut short, we always made sure that the bamboo wonder stayed, until the day that we were all forced to grow up.

I miss that 30-second bliss. In those moments, when the grid is finally being lowered, we stretch our arms up and reaching, bending our knees for that big attempt, jumping as high as we could. Our hearts stopped every time.

Snaps, and back to the now, no longer a child anymore, I soon realized that this is the first time that I am spending my day slouching in front of my computer, staring on a blank page, counting the number of blinks the cursor is making, waiting for my fingertips to finally decide and spell their first words.

This day really sucks.

While working on this literary project, something nice and familiar suddenly caught my attention. By the way, I am at home inside my room, making the most out of this early morning, while this, very stimulating cooking aroma, from the kitchen downstairs, is inviting me and sort of taking me back to those nostalgic days that I was telling you about. Honestly, I was kind of excited.  I can only imagine what’s in store for me, I do not have any idea what my mom is making, but the smell of the sautéed onions and garlic somehow gives me an idea.

So I hustled downstairs, as I used to do when I was still a kid, now, no longer in my PJs, but in my boxers instead. Of course, not expecting balloons and party hats anymore, my attention now draws from a mindset of a 28-year-old, with an empty and very discerning stomach. My mind shoots in food suggestions basing it on the smell that woke my senses up and shook the boring mood out of me. I was thinking, Roasted chicken, or maybe pasta, My mom’s world-famous Nilagang baka (beef) or her chicken and pork adobo perhaps. The suspense made me more and more excited, I’m young again I said to myself.

But like in the movies, a sudden twist in the story.  To my surprise, when I finally took out the food cover, instead of delight, I saw 3 pieces of hotdogs and some heated sotanghon from last night. the surprise quickly turned into a very funny epic fail situation. haha.

While enjoying the last remaining bites of these tasty treats from my new age Pabitin, and puffing the life out of my cigarette serving as my birthday candle, as every year nourishes me in this solemn seconds of prayer, I am counting the blessings realizing that every day should be a celebration.

And with all the unnecessary ramblings made, from the child in me, I guess all I’m saying is, thanks for shoe-stringing with me.

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Talahib – A Review

What makes up a good record? Should it have a good melody? Probably a very good body and lyrical content, should it be timeless? How about the riffs and the arrangement, have we considered the packaging? How should it be marketed? Should it follow the favorable branding colors, maybe strategically pleasing and easy on the eyes? Or during your gigs, should you see the crowd wave matching glow sticks while doing a synchronized rehearsed movements they call dancing?. I guess all of these things are very essential; of course the artists behind these pieces should be able to capture their desired audience. Who does not want that?

Well, if you’d ask me, I prefer a more subtle answer, but before we get to that, let us look at the last decade, hmm, not much to offer, in my taste, probably most of you would disagree, but there were only few who offered quite a good lasting kicks if you may, and on the top of my list are – Beck for sea change 2001, Bright Eyes with his I’m awake, it’s morning in 2005, of course Radiohead having 2 entries, Kid A 2000 and In Rainbows 2007. And most of the songs in these compilations have that very rich blatant honesty right through the bones. There I said it. I guess the real answer is, having that one most important key ingredient, – that it should be effortlessly true. in the old days, before you could say that you have actually written a good one, you have to actually experience what you are singing about if not, you must at least be genuinely inspired. Only a few have successfully able to do this nowadays, and you can actually tell by simply listening. And to know that you have, there is this thing that you call epiphany or that eureka moment that most artists call that can support and help you on realizing. But now, oh boy, it’s all about what pays the bills. Don’t get me wrong, I get that, really. Everyone has to eat right? But to do it for the sole reason of vanity? My premise stems from the fact that, these artists kuno have chosen a career path, a career path? really? It is blasphemous to even mistakenly consider it as one. Please indulge me as I wear the hat of a critic.

So what’s the ranting all about? Well, if you really must know, I am writing this piece as my way of saying sorry to my twin brother who is in a band named Talahib. The band has been around for 10 years. And in those years, I have been always searching for new very good materials to listen to, and without me realizing it then, that one of the members of the future, probably one of the most well-formed Filipino bands is living under the same roof as I am and has the same frigging face.

Me and my twin brother, we have our differences, as kids, he always liked Red one, and I’d be Green two from Bioman, get the idea?. Even back then, he always sported that long hair of his that he still wears now, only way longer. Back then we called it Keempee. I tried to relish the idea of it but I did not get why he wanted it, until now. It came to me that when a person really loves doing something, it will come out of him no matter what. My brother is a Natural I guess.

We have our differences, but we never had that in music. Sure there are some minor preferences here and there, e.g. Content arrangement and his super extended guitar adlibs, but nothing massive.

Now his band, Talahib came out with their debut album – “Mga Awit ng Pag-Ibig at Digmaan” on December 09 2011. And It took them 10 long years to release it. You may think that their time has already passed them by, and was too late for this thing to actually happen, but in my book, judging it from their patience alone will give you this notion on how scary careful and detailed these people are. From every lyrical verse to the right notes and the insertion of each riff, to that inviting groovy, spicy, powerful yet collaborative symphony of beats coming from the drums, and other indigenous percussions, the very compelling voices behind each song. they are, without a doubt, a musical force to be reckoned with.

Talahib – or a tall wild grass that can withstand and adapt to almost any conditions, anywhere for as long as all grass stand together. Their roots are entwined, making all of them, in a sense, one. So as their music, as their listeners embraced it, they define it as a breath of fresh air in the Philippine music industry. As they represent not only the generation’s artists, musicians, and poets, but so as the past and current social cry of the public. They take upon themselves to act, through the most effective medium, through the songs of love and war, aiming straight through our hearts.

But I think, all of these will not be achieved without the listeners, if we decide to just relish and sit around, the equation would be incomplete. Apathy is not it. Reading the leaflets and singing along I guess is not enough. Not to take arms nor to go rally the streets, but to simply believe. Hope if acquired is a very powerful thing. more so if it is amplified through the numbers of its believers. We are amidst changing times, and this revolutionary band is obviously, directly singing this to us. I may be over thinking it, but I think they are throwing the right question back at us, – what should we do then?

The band is composed of 10 members. The Album has 11 tracks. Nearly 20 musical Instruments and it took them 10 years to release it.

All we have to do is 1 thing. Believe.

Hand Pocket Sunshine

As I was entering through the revolving door of my wandering mind while watching one of the best shows in the sky with rum-shake, of a grand spectacle free of admission capturing whatever inspiration I may find, attempting to have these sachets of collected interpretations stemming from my very poor and receding memory be translated through a meaning, aiming to say that it is not always about the symmetry in plain view all the time.

Borrowing some rest, away from my lucid habitat made of stacked concrete and plastic decors.  One invites hope for a few offshoot-random encounters which I think are sources of this sudden and periodic influx of Hand Pocket Sunshine.

To get a hold of some I thought to myself, a little wait wouldn’t hurt. So I decided to sit there on the edge of a wooden plank, by the peace of the wind, pondering on my newly found packets of wonders and making friends with time.

Never underestimate the power of eccentricity.

With the right amount of insertion of this odd and unusual behavior, you may find that it is not that bad after all.  It may not always be peaches and lemonades, but to see things from a different view, of life as you know it, well one could say that it is one way to live.  A friend once told me that it is a skill of some sort that does not depend on the conditions of being normal. What is normal anyway?

Every little experience is perspective based.

In the pursuit of clarity amidst the rubble, I remember that it is about finding the good. It is about when to pause and the positioning. It may be difficult to commit to the entire concept of it and it is foolish to rush either, that is why it needs a little reason and isolation on the side.  Recognize that it takes time, the farthest distance one could ever travel I suppose. Respect and let the ingredients simmer and understand that the responses vary.

Mornings will always be there to renew.

Like the lines, we borrow from the parchment pages and poetry, with humility singing for hope, so as sunsets giving way to the next morning. A constant reminder that there is this undying belief that there is always warmth after the long cold night and that everyone should share the same.

I would like to define this argument as – relishing the inevitable. That there will always be this unconditional fondness. That even most of the times it is unspoken, it is what it is. Every day when we connect linking the dots in this unfolded space, whenever we find that perfect color to brush, it is there somewhere between the fine lines and the strokes never fading, always being whispered in its vague and powerful shapeless form.

As I find shelter from phrases and rhymes.

Sleeping for days, the words swirled over, running in circles. Catching my breath then I was caught in that moment and stored the thoughts away. Stolen from a very pleasant forgotten dream, one of the very few things I can say that I can paint a picture of, each time I think of that one early morning in front of my reflection, of a person that once spent his days bending sunlight.

I will miss listening to my nightly anecdotes.

As we attempt to weather blue skies and golden beams, I will always be out strolling with the cool northern breeze enjoying that crystal-like ether from the morning rays on my tanned skin. My chest sways, taking in this easy feeling from a long throw as I go back to that once nightly habit, listening on to the rhymes and storytelling.

I guess we all have our sunsets. Of what could be seemingly an end, may also turn out to be just the dark before the dawn. Do not worry, everything we do it is all half chance.  And as it sets you will see that the shadows and the silhouettes will always be there to cast its play of scenes from real life, portraying how it supposed to be lived.  As we rest our heads in faith, we find surrender in our dreams under the sheets. As we learn to let go, sleeping our lives away, singing that our pockets are not that empty anymore.

Entry # 12: Defeating Rocket Science

Somebody told me that life is an accumulation of experiences. That no matter how short or how long each interaction may last,  may it be with a stranger or with someone you know, no matter how random the encounter is, the sum of it all plus the value of connectivity, these are the fragments that make up the definition.

As this was laid down to me, I realized that it all makes sense come to think of it.  I then conceptualized and applied the very basic method of asking questions and noted down questions like the whys and the hows that make up the experience, etc. Then the study began.

At first, your body may start coughing enzymes of happiness from within. These are complex proteins that produce specific chemical changes in your body. Also, you may not notice it, but your molecules may also start to shake before each encounter. You would then telescope your view and measure the optics. Your vision perceives the stimulus and sends light like signals to your brain, processing it before you can actually see. Please note, However, that what you see and what you perceive stand apart. There is always a distinction. Sight is an acknowledgment of the raw materials that your eyes capture, while perception is about not only how an object looks like or how your mind physically sees it, but how it seems to you, overruling the literal meaning. This is where the different sensations come into the picture.

Towards approaching connectivity, there is also the factor of speech that you must consider.

There are a lot of very intelligent people that do not know how to express themselves even though they have a lot of things to share.  And most of the times during their encounters, there are wasted, lost opportunities for both sides, for the speaker and the listener. The potential of very fruitful exchanges was hindered by unable to say what you really want to express. There should be an abundance intake of oxygen in the body for brain activity and blood flow and it is also imperative to do the necessary preparation and planning. Profiling is another accepted technique that one can consider. The characteristics, the demographics, and the statistics can provide a forecast that one can use during an attempt to land rapport.

With the smart combination of what you have seen and perceived; injecting it in your exchanges finding common ground and the right formula to your conversations may help produce a more favorable response from your subject.

Also, consider gravity. Acknowledge its presence. As it sets a reminder, that your toes must stay where they are supposed to be, as where they are meant to be, on the ground, and as it pulls you down, let your sense of sight soar with the solar beams and sunrays while turning air into poetry and delight.

Then you improvise. Do not be too impulsive though. This may be the very key ingredient of it all, with love songs from shoegazing and a little dash of Britpop, singing sequels and good reviews, from nothingness you would then create a film scene of moving pictures of vivid colors and amusement. Then perhaps you could say that everything is alright. With no grand plans just hope for saving grace and surrender.

With support thoughts of daily dose of afternoon cartoons and letters, you would then cling on to these exchanges for dear life. As our days have always been there to bless us with coffee, sugar and Saturday mornings, we try to earn each fragile moment to take home.

And as we find each morning as an opportunity to turn each cycle and repetitive encounters into a definition, in time, as we get used to the experience, as we wake each morning, we would realize that we never have to mind the cigarette burns and the ash stains, that all the theories and the blah blahs are just there to give frame but not really a component to our interactions. That the real and tangible property is about what lies beneath our skins, the desire that cannot be calculated nor weighed, the acceptance that we are the sum of the life we are all in.

And in the end, we would realize that we never had to complain, but instead, to move forward, all we ever needed was just humor and to display our chubby smiles. Filling ourselves with wisdom not from TV but from real human interactions, taking on the journey as we stride and ocular the skies, relishing the search for that morning slumber. No matter how random, as each interaction translates into happiness connecting the dots, finding out that it is not rocket science after all.