Getting Back and Still Lost

Wow, it’s been ages (2 years exactly) since my last post.

So many has happened since then. I graduated college, got a job, traveled outside the country without my relatives, visited Mindanao for the first time, cut and colored my hair, got tattooed by Apo Whang Od (!!!) and Renalyn, diagnosed with depression, learned how to drive, etc.

Kinda shocking, right? Sad to say that despite all of that, I still have yet to find myself. But I am still trying to–so I decided to get back to writing. Any kind of writing, really. Sometimes, I find myself wanting to write a research paper on the Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines and present it to people for their feedbacks or comments. Other times I want to write a short story or a novel and then pass it to indie publications, just because. I feel that I’m getting too ambitious these days its starting to stress me out and I’m hating myself because I can’t seem to start anything at all despite all of these ideas. It’s making me crazy and that’s really bad for me because I keep on overthinking–very bad for someone with depression.

Aside from writing both fiction and non-fiction, I am also finding myself wanting to createBe it a painting, drawing, molding, taking photographs, really–anything creative will do. So right now, I decided to start by getting back to blogging since I already have a blog and it would take less effort on my part because I just have to show up (though, showing up is sometimes hard too).

To all those who have read my past posts, thank you. And I’m looking forward to writing again. 🙂

 

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On Finding Oneself

Who are you?

Three words and I start to feel like I’m drowning (trust me, I don’t know how to swim). Remember the time when the grown-ups ask you what you want to be when you grow up? I’ve never really had one single answer for this. I remember giving different answers depending on which point of my life we are [ Nurse (because my dad had a stroke back then and I helped in giving him meds and accompanying him to the therapist), Teacher (I forgot why), Law Teacher (whuuut), Lawyer (Because my mom wanted me to), Diplomat (i like to go out of the country) ]. But until now, I have yet to find what do I really want to do in life. Which brings me to asking myself this: What are your passions? What makes you happy?

I tried to answer this but I cannot help but feel that everything in me is dictated by people around me. I suddenly feel lost. Who am I, really?

Everything became harder and harder to figure out, plus the fact that I have been feeling tired, lonely, and lost for a long time. I’ve felt like there’s no point in anything, that whatever I choose to do, nothing will change and I will stay miserable. I wanted to disappear (I still do from time to time). I cried, I panicked. 

ImageI still can’t completely answer my questions. I still feel alone and lost for most of the time. But now I realize that I have to push myself and just live. I have yet to find myself, but I know that somehow, someday, everything will fall into their places. It gets better. 

“Breathe. It’s okay. You’re going to be okay. Just breathe. Breathe, and remind yourself of all the times in the past you felt this scared. All of the times you felt this anxious and this overwhelmed. All of the times you felt this level of pain. And remind yourself how each time, you made it through. Life has thrown so much at you, and despite how difficult things have been, you’ve survived. Breathe and trust that you can survive this too. Trust that this struggle is part of the process. And trust that as long as you don’t give up and keep pushing forward, no matter how hopeless things seem, you will make it.” — Daniell Koepke

A Touch of Spice

It was the best part of my sembreak so far. I’m still a bit high (figuratively of course) from the event but I will attempt to write a coherent post about it.

Wasabi, The Spirit of Japan: The Sound of Traditional Instruments is an event organized by the Embassy of Japan, to celebrate the Philippines-Japan Friendship Month and the 40th year of ASEAN-Japan friendship and cooperation. The event was held yesterday October 19, 2013 at the CCP Little Theater. It features the performance of WASABI, a traditional Japanese instrumental group composed of Ryoichiro Yoshida (Tsugaru-shamisen), Hiromu Motonaga (Shakuhachi), Naosaburo Biho (Taiko/Percussion), and Shin Ichikawa (Koto/Bass Koto).

We all (or at least those who are familiar with Japanese cuisine) know the word ‘wasabi’ as that spicy condiment but this Wasabi is entirely different. The band’s name is a combination of ‘wa’ meaning ‘Japan’ and ‘sabi’ which means ‘the catchy part of a song’. Wasabi therefore, means ‘the best part of Japanese music’.

How the hell did I know about this event, you ask? We’ll I have to thank Rappler and National Youth Commission (NYC) for that. Rappler, for making me aware about it and NYC for letting us have a reservation! ❤

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From L to R: Shin Ichikawa (Koto/Bass Koto), Hiromu Motonaga (Shakuhachi), Naosaburo Biho (Taiko/Percussion), and Ryoichiro Yoshida (Tsugaru-shamisen)

I arrived (really) early because I came from the Future Market (blog post soon!) at Escolta. I was already at the CCP Little Theater Lobby at around 4:30pm so I had to wait 2 more hours. At 5:30, I decided to go grab a drink at Starbucks then at 6, I was a bit surprised that there were quite a crowd already so I went on to get tickets for Janine and myself (which was a good idea because if not, we will not be sitting together). As for expectations, I really didn’t have any and I just wanted to be surprised. And boy was I surprised (AND SO VERY HAPPY).

Music for the young audience

Let’s face it. Our music tastes vary. This may be more evident in different generations. My dad likes old songs, those kinds which you would hear on the radio every Sunday; my mom considers the sound of linkin park (whom my kuya and I loves) as noise (with the screaming and all); and as for me, I don’t really like techno. But as one can observe, most of the youth today listen to the music of Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Beyonce, Usher, Justine Timberlake, etc. all of which uses modern instruments or any digital way of making music (forgive me for I am not familiar with the terms but I’m sure you know what I mean).

Here in the Philippines, rarely will you see young people appreciate or listen to traditional music. Traditional instruments are now just a part of the textbooks and museums or cultural presentations. It is not something we listen to everyday and it is not something we play (which is quite understandable because there are few stores who sell them…but then again, if the demand is high, sellers will eventually pop out). There may be some bands who still use them but they’re not that mainstream.

What Wasabi has brought us was the kind of music that the younger audience will surely appreciate because of the modern genre that they incorporated in their performance. It was not boring and as I look around the audience, I can see some (including me!) even bobbing their heads to the music. I remember a piece that they performed where Janine and I immediately thought of the Naruto soundtrack. So while they were playing it, I was imagining a fight scene in Naruto, which was so awesome because it’s like I was in the fight scene myself, battling Obito, hearing Naruto talk, etc. Here we can see that the use of traditional instruments should not be limited only to folk songs but it should also be used to create songs that the current generation will be able to appreciate.

Harmony

According to the performers (and the pamphlet):

“The tsugaru-shamisen and taiko drums are mostly associated and frequently played in a folk music context and it is rare for them to perform with koto and shakuhachi which are customarily featured in classical genres such as Sokyoku, Jiuta and solo shakuhachi repertory.”

My favorite instrument was the taiko. Well, maybe that’s because in general, I really prefer drums over any other instruments. But the one that strikes me the most was the performer because he was smiling all throughout and seems to be really enjoying himself. I am not saying that the others do not enjoy what they’re doing as well but Naosaburo Biho’s smile was really contagious, not to mention the instrument that he plays further heightens the mood. The Koto, on the other hand, was so sweet and calming. Whenever it was played, I cannot help but sigh and think of a beautiful and tranquil lake. The Shakuhachi and Tsugaru-shamisen for me (who is not a music major) were the key because they can be as powerful as the taiko and as elegant as the koto.

Special Guest

Aside from the president of the CCP and the Ambassador of Japan to the Philippines, F. Sionil José(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) also attended the event. Earlier, I already got the feeling that it was him when I saw him at the lobby but of course, I might be wrong…but I wasn’t. It was really him and I was so happy and giddy because I brought my compilation of his essays (Why We Are Poor: Termites In The Sala, Heroes In The Attic).  Now that’s what you call serendipity.

Janine, Me and Mr. F. Sionil José

At the end of the event and after the meet and greet with Wasabi (pity we weren’t able to take pictures), we saw him again. I was reluctant to approach him and ask for an autograph but thanks to Janine’s YOLO moment, she was able to get one for me (because I was too shy to ask him) and take a photo with him (albeit a bit blurry).

This event made me very hopeful for our own music. If only we also learn how to incorporate the use of traditional music in our songs, maybe we’ll be able to fully appreciate the craftsmanship of our ancestors. I believe that music is alive and instruments should not used in only one musical genre. Music is flexible and creativity is limitless.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Another romance novel!

This time, I found out about it through my ninang Gemme (check out her book blog!) and I am so happy I did.

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“Do you have a girlfriend?”
Oliver’s cheeks redden, and the smile she catches as he ducks his head is maddeningly cryptic; it is, Hadley decides, a smile with one of two meanings. The bigger part of her worries that it must be charitable, designed to make her feel less awkward about both the question and the coming answer, but something else keeps her wondering all the same: Maybe—just maybe—it’s something even kinder than that, something full of understanding, a seal on the unspoken agreement between them that something is happening here, that this just might be a kind of beginning.

It was not just about romance. It was also about family and acceptance.

Almost half of the book was about Hadley and her father. It was about Hadley’s anger towards her father and how she came to accept her situation and started to move on. We also have Oliver whose parents remained together even though they know that their father was cheating. Two completely different turn of event but same impact for the children. Coming from the same background, I understand both of them. I understand their anger towards their father and how hard it is for them to forgive.

Anyway, on to the romance!

The story happened in a span of one day. Two strangers in a crowded airport. Fate. Destiny. It was light and fluffy and cute. The interactions between Hadley and Oliver didn’t look forced and the flow of the story was written well. It doesn’t give off the feeling that it was all too fast and that time is really relative. Now I don’t know if this kind of story will produce a happy ending but for the meantime, I will just stay here and savor the idea that a love story like this remotely possible.

And btw, can I just say that Oliver is fucking adorable? Ugh. I must thank these kinds of books for my insanely high expectations on men.

I know when to quit.

And it’s going to be soon.

They always say that we should not give up. That we should work harder to overcome all the hurdles. That those who don’t quit will eventually become winners.

But when do we know when it’s too much? When do we know that what we are doing is pointless?

Well for me, it’s when the thing that I used to enjoy so much becomes too tedious. It’s when just the thought of it makes me want to disappear from the world. It’s when I don’t see the point of being a part of it anymore. It’s when no matter how I try to love it, I can’t help but curse it instead.

I think that in life, there are things that are not meant for us. People who are not destined to stay in our lives forever. People who will drain us physically, mentally, and emotionally. Now call me a quitter but I won’t give a damn. I am not stupid. You are not the boss of me and you don’t know what’s going on in my mind.

Don’t quit. But when you see that the bad things already outweigh the good things, stop. When you see that it is going nowhere, stop. Do yourself a favor and don’t stick around. Work hard but know when to stop.

Everyone has it’s limits. And I’m going to reach mine very soon.

You.

I had a dream about you.

We were in a classroom, cleaning it. A friend teases us and I walked away. They said they found letters and you started reading it out loud. Again, I walked away but you stopped me. “It’s for you! It’s for you!” you said. Still, I walked away and you had nothing to do but follow me. I  have forgotten what the rest of the letter said and all I could remember was when you grabbed my shoulders to make me face you and touched my cheeks and said “I’m sorry” and gave me your loopsided smile.

That was when I woke up, my heart beating fast.