We can never run out of songs to feed on.
And this next one is that one’s twin, I believe.
To songs. And hope. 🙂
We can never run out of songs to feed on.
And this next one is that one’s twin, I believe.
To songs. And hope. 🙂
“… There’s so much more
And it’s something that I don’t wanna think about
‘Coz I don’t wanna know I’m only running around
I get away
But it keeps coming back maybe to make me
See it wasn’t enough for me to understand
So much for nothing
That’s what I tell myself for I’m complaining
Now don’t look at me as only thinking
Out loud, out loud!
And it hits me ‘coz maybe I know
That it all comes down on letting go
And it hits me ‘coz I’ll never know
When the rain comes down, when the rain comes down
When it all comes down
Chain Gang, from Tuesday Of My Being Sick
Whatever happened to those ladies? They have all probably married and are now enjoying their kids. Last time I heard/read about them was, what, four years ago? They had a reunion album. I forgot the title. But the cover was green. With a sperm swimming its way from left to right. Or was it right to left? All I’m really sure of is it was a sperm.
* * *
For almost a month now I have been taking exams and undergoing interviews for my applications as either writer or English teacher. Almost all of the firms I have been going to are based in Pasig. Only thrice did I have to go someplace else. To Alabang and San Juan around two weeks ago, and Makati earlier today. I have been excited all the time as I traveled to the first three cities, searching for every building that houses the company I hopefully would be serving for the next years. And despite a few glitches, particularly concerning elevators (at the PSE I took the wrong elevators, at the JMT building I kept lining up for the wrong ones, and at gorgeous Insular Life Alabang I didn’t know which lobby button to press and which elevator I happened to summon with the button I pressed), and finding exits through the labyrinths of cubicles, I never felt embarrassed, really, taking it all in as humorous parts of this job hunt adventure.
Somehow, though, it felt like I lost the humor today as I alighted from the PVP bus I took going to the heart of Makati, for another exam. While walking through a drizzle along Ayala Avenue, from the corner of Puyat all the way to the National Life Insurance Building, the words “culture shock culture shock culture shock” kept repeating in my head, and I didn’t even know why. I wasn’t feeling nervous or afraid about the exam. Neither did I feel any strain of culture shock while having all those elevator troubles in the other cities. Why am I thinking about culture shock now?
Then I remembered that it’s somehow probably because Makati had been the setting of some of my worst (and most painful) humiliations. They are all closely connected to Makati, and the specific sites have been:
The Coffee Experience booth in the center of Glorietta (2001)
Goodwill Bookstore again at Glorietta (2001)
the Food Court at Glorietta 4 (2005-2006)
the PBCom building (2005-2006)
the Great Wall building at Yakal (2007)
the now defunct Montage (a Fully Booked sister store) along the bridgeway going to Greenbelt 4 (2007), and
the Manila Peninsula (2007).
Makati is grim, it’s grim, my Manila may be drab but Makati is grim. Or is it just this rain?
When I arrived at the company today, an elderly man who was the clerk-security aide greeted me at the door, and immediately asked for my resume – which I forgot to bring. All memory of previous humiliations faded instantly – a job is on the line here! Probably sensing my worry, he was quick to comfort me by telling me it’s okay, that I remain seated, because it may be submitted after the exam. He made a phone call asking someone about it. He then smiled at me, nodding while listening to the person at the other end of the line, signaling that his inquiry was answered positively. After the call, we chatted for a while. I told him how I badly need the job, and he kept assuring me kaya mo yan iha. While I took the exam in a conference room just next to his station, I could even hear him hush someone – may nag-eexam, mahirap magsulat pag maingay.
The old man looked very much like Judge dela Vega, one of the judges under which I worked for in the past 10 years. He’s been retired for years now. He is beloved by many for his honesty and dedication, for his compassion and magnanimity.
* * *
The exam was time-pressured, one hour. Right after it I still had time to report half-day in court. I made it, with enough time to lunch. All spoons and forks have been used by the time I arrived, though, I had to borrow the civil clerk Ate My’s right off her used plate still with a little fish broth. I took the utensils to the CR to have them rinsed. Inside, there already was Ate Carmen, an employee from another division, washing her dishes in the lone working sink. Seeing I was carrying only a spoon and fork, she grabbed them from me, soaped them, and washed them herself. She shook the water off them afterwards and handed them back to me. I laughed and thanked her, then asked her the usual question we court people ask whenever we converge in the restroom: may pera ba tayo, ate?
What else could be the reply, I knew it even before she smiled and answered wala eh!
I will miss the simplicity of my fellow court slaves.
After my lunch and just before the session started, I had to go take another bathroom break. The house was packed this time, it can’t be helped. It’s the only ladies’ room in the whole condemned GSIS Annex Building. Judges had to be lining up too. And as I was going out, I saw another employee at the end of the line, that woman from another branch who always asks me if her lawyer friends appear before our branch. Once, being quite impatient already by that constant questioning, I answered her that I can’t really remember all the lawyers who appear before us. She retorted, hindi ka pa nga nakakapanganak ulyanin ka na!
Now that’s one face I would never miss. 🙂
A Case Of You
(written by Joni Mitchell; performed by Tori Amos – Saratoga Springs, August 29, 1999)
Just before our love got lost you said
“I am as constant as a northern star”
And I said, “constantly in the darkness
Where’s that at?
If you want me I’ll be in the bar”
On the back of a cartoon coaster
In the blue tv screen light
I drew a map of canada
And your face sketched on it twice
Oh you are in my blood like holy wine
Oh and you taste so bitter but you taste so sweet
Oh I could drink a case of you
I could drink a case of you darling
And I would still be on my feet
Oh I’d still be on my feet
Oh I am a lonely painter
I live in a box of paints
I’m frightened by the devil
And I’m drawn to those ones that ain’t afraid
I remember that time that you told me, you said
Love is touching souls
Surely you touched mine
‘Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time
Oh you are in my blood like holy wine
And you taste so bitter but you taste so sweet
Oh I could drink a case of you
I could drink a case of you darling
Still I’d be on my feet
And still be on my feet
I met a woman
She had a mouth like yours
She knew your life
She knew your devils and your deeds
And she said
Go to him, stay with him if you can
Oh but be prepared to bleed
Oh but you are in my blood, you’re my holy wine
Oh and you taste so bitter, bitter and so sweet
Oh I could drink a case of you darling
Still I’d be on my feet
I’d still be on my feet
Absolutely. Fully Booked Taguig has recently e-mailed its new releases to its mailing list, and I get informed that the following are already available:
Smashing Pumpkins 1991-2000 Greatest Hits Video Collection 699 DVD
OST Trainspotting 699 CD
OST Babel 999 2CD
10,000 Maniacs Unplugged 499 CD
Collective Soul 7 Year Itch: Greatest Hits 550 CD
Joni Mitchell Blue 550 CD
Joni Mitchell Court And Spark 550 CD
Pixies Complete B-Sides 550 CD
REM Monster 499 CD
Radiohead Amnesiac 699 CD
The Who Tommy (de luxe edition) 1250 2CD
Oh, I really need a job quick. Please?
My good friend Althea asked me to read this. I have to share it here:
The Sacrament Of Waiting
(by Father James Donelan, S.J.)
The English poet John Milton once wrote that those who serve stand and wait. I think I would go further and say that those who wait render the highest form of service. Waiting requires more discipline, more self-control and emotional maturity, more unshakeable faith in our cause, more unwavering hope in the future, more sustaining love in our hearts than all the great deeds of derring-do that go by the name of action.
Waiting is a mystery—a natural sacrament of life. There is a meaning hidden in all the times we have to wait. It must be an important mystery because there is so much waiting in our lives.
Everyday is filled with those little moments of waiting—testing our patience and our nerves, schooling us in our self-control—pasensya na lang. We wait for meals to be served, for a letter to arrive, for a friend, concerts and circuses. Our airline terminals, railway stations, and bus depots are temples of waiting filled with men and women who wait in joy for the arrival of a loved one—or wait in sadness to say goodbye and to give that last wave of hand. We wait for birthdays and vacations; we wait for Christmas. We wait for spring to come or autumn—for the rains to begin or stop.
And we wait for ourselves to grow from childhood to maturity. We wait for those inner voices that tell us when we are ready for the next step. We wait for graduation, for our first job, our first promotion. We wait for success, and recognition. We wait to grow up—to reach the stage where we make our own decision.
We cannot remove this waiting from our lives. It is part of the tapestry of living—the fabric in which the threads are woven that tell the story of our lives.
Yet the current philosophies would have us forget the need to wait. “Grab all the gusto you can get.” So reads one of America’s great beer advertisements—Get it now. Instant pleasure—instant transcendence. Don’t wait for anything. Life is short—eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you’ll die. And so they rationalize us into accepting unlicensed and irresponsible freedom—premarital sex and extramarital affairs—they warn against attachment and commitment, against expecting anything of anybody, or allowing them to expect anything of us, against vows and promises, against duty and responsibility, against dropping any anchors in the currents of our life that will cause us to hold and to wait.
This may be the correct prescription for pleasure—but even that is fleeting and doubtful. What was it Shakespeare said about the mad pursuit of pleasure? “Past reason hunted, and once had, past reason hated.” Now if we wish to be real human beings, spirit as well as flesh, souls as well as heart, we have to learn to love someone else other than ourselves.
For most of all waiting means waiting for someone else. It is a mystery brushing by our face everyday like stray wind or a leaf falling from a tree. Anyone who has ever loved knows how much waiting goes into it, how much waiting is important for love to grow, to flourish through a lifetime.
Why is this so? Why can’t we have love right now—two years, three years, five years—and seemingly waste so much time? You might as well ask why a tree should take so long to bear fruit, the seed to flower, carbon to change into a diamond.
There is no simple answer, no more than there is to life’s demands: having to say goodbye to someone you love because either you or they have already made other commitments, or because they have to grow and find the meaning of their own lives, having yourself to leave home and loved ones to find your path. Goodbyes, like waiting, are also sacraments of our lives.
All we know is that growth—the budding, the flowering of love needs patient waiting. We have to give each other time to grow. There is no way we can make someone else truly love us or we love them, except through time. So we give each other that mysterious gift of waiting—of being present without making demands or asking rewards. There is nothing harder to do than this. It tests the depth and sincerity of our love. But there is life in the gift we give.
So lovers wait for each other until they can see things the same way, or let each other freely see things in quite different ways. What do we lose when lovers hurt each other and cannot regain the balance and intimacy of the way they were? They have to wait—in silence—but still be present to each other until the pain subsides to an ache and then only a memory, and the threads of the tapestry can be woven together again in a single love story.
What do we lose when we refuse to wait? When we try to find short cuts through life, when we try to incubate love and rush blindly and foolishly into a commitment we are neither mature nor responsible enough to assume? We lose the hope of ever truly loving or being loved. Think of all the great love stories of history and literature. Isn’t it of their very essence that they are filled with the strange but common mystery—that waiting is part of the substance, the basic fabric—against which the story of that true love is written?
How can we ever find either life of love if we are too impatient to wait for it?
To comply with a ordering lower courts to conduct hearings in city jails, my boss had cases of three detention prisoners calendared today for such. The judge, the stenographer, the public attorney, the fiscal, a lawyer from the city legal office, and this translator all trooped down to Manila City Jail for the duty.
As we were on our way, and considering that I cannot wait to be trying out work under the private sector (the petty capitalists, since there is no bigger capitalist than the government), I realized that this could be the last time that I’m going to Manila City Jail as a civil servant. Not that I would want to return to the jail as another entity, it’s just that I thought this could be the last time I’ll be seeing the prisoners – seeing them assume their best selves, in total meekness, before the powers that would decide their fates, for the petty crimes they committed.
The three prisoners calendared for hearing committed the following offenses: urinating in a public place, illegal possession of a deadly weapon (a fan knife – retrieved from the same guy who urinated), assault of a person in authority (a guy stabbed a police officer with a broken bottle of Red Horse and hit the cop on the right arm), and slight physical injuries. I forgot the circumstances of the physical injuries case because what clearly registered to me was the case of the guy who got caught urinating and carrying a knife. He kept insisting that he was no robber, just a poor fellow who just couldn’t hold his pee anymore, and one who did not have much trust with the city he’s soiling he’s got to carry a knife against it for protection.
He’s been detained for more than a month already, so the powers recommended that he just plead guilty, then his period of could be credited to him. That means he could be immediately set free after his admission of the offense. Turns out he’s a good, reasonable boy. He did as told.
I would miss that, the bargaining, seeing how seemingly easy it is to pay for our misdemeanors. Just a month, then you’re home free. Still, thirty days are moments off from life. That could have been thirty days spent with family and friends, thirty days sleeping on a decent bed, thirty days when you could take a leak without having to ask permission from a warden.
No matter how petty the crime, it is paid for with life.
I have been a civil servant for ten years. A decade. I have been working since the last days of my teens. I am thirty now. I have spent my youth learning and unlearning and re-learning over and over again the lesson: we pay with our lives.
So, girl, you can’t afford to be stupid. Enough stupidity.
Especially when the powers can’t always come to one’s aid to do the necessary computations and conversions, then give the pardon. And only if it’s earned.
Have I earned mine? Ten grand a month for ten years, seeing all of that.
Have I truly been short-changing myself, all these ten years?
It was quite a youth. But all done now. Time to move.
And where the hell is your song in all these?
This is rather late since Christmas technically starts on September in this Christmas-anxious country of ours. But since Christmas technically starts soon after the feast of Christ the King in the equally Christmas-anxious Roman Catholic calendar, this still is rather early. We haven’t even gone through Halloween yet.
I used to have a neighbor, Kuya Tato, who asks his wife Ate Edna to put up the Christmas tree and Christmas lights right on the evening of November 1, and Ate Edna does exactly as told, joyfully. God I miss that couple, and their kids. They never complained about my music, usually played in full blast, with me occasionally howling along or stomping. And they used to have their house-help Marilyn yell at me through the laundry patio whenever I’d put on disco in the turntable, “Lakasan mo pa!”.
So, in so far as carols are concerned, I joyfully present here my top ten favorites, not necessarily numbered according to rank:
1. Happy Holidays – The Gunther Kallman Choir
2. Count Your Blessings (Instead Of Sheep) – The Ray Conniff Singers
3. Happy Christmas (War Is Over) – John Lennon
4. Feed The World – Live Aid
5. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Judy Garland
6. Emmanuel [that one that goes, Isang dalaga’y maglilihi, batang lalaki ang sanggol. I think it’s the Jesuits who wrote it. They always write the best church songs].
7. Awit ng Paghahangad [this is sung every Advent and Lent, in the church I usually go to, The Parish of Sta. Teresita, because evidently, it is a song of anticipation. The Jesuits must have written it too.]
8. Lo! How A Rose E’er Blooming – Jennifer Cavilleri’s kids choir in Love Story, or the Charlotte Church version
9. Sa Paskong Darating – Celeste Legaspi
10. Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit – The Sta. Teresita Parish Choir
Those are carols. Carols. I do not intend to write about carols. Call this an optional prelude to the article proper.
* * *
This is the article.
And these, ranked accordingly, are yours truly’s top ten favorite Christmas songs, not the traditional carols, but songs that give me that comfy Christmas feeling whenever I hear or sing them:
10. These Days – Nico (from The Royal Tenenbaums Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Seeing the film over at Megamall on its last screening day was unforgettable. I had with me a cup of coffee and a Bunwich. The strains of an instrumental version of Hey Jude opening the film filled the almost empty theatre. I did not want the afternoon to end, but of course it had to. I immediately hunted for an original copy of the film about three months after that. Not satisfied, I thereafter hunted for the soundtrack. I was able to get hold of one from Tower Makati at least more than a year after seeing the film. When I got the soundtrack, I rarely watched the film anymore. I realized then that it’s the music that got me hooked.
These Days is a contemplative song, and very much like an auld lang syne, actually. It goes I’ve been out walking, I don’t do too much talking these days… These days I seem to think a lot about the things that I forgot to do, and all the times I had the chance to. It is one of the songs that I’d play in a loop whenever I take my annual two-week long December ‘writing’ leave, so to me it has become synonymous to Christmas, as Christmas to me has become synonymous to writing, and self-evaluation.
9. 1979 – The Smashing Pumpkins (from Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness)
As teenagers, me, my brother, and my cousin Aizel had this annual Christmas eve ritual of walking the streets of our neighborhood to go to the then only convenience store in the area, the 7-11 at the corner of Maceda and Dapitan. The ritual had to end when Aizel moved out from us sometime in 1993.
Around 1995, when Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness came out, 1979 was the song I instantly resonated with, falling in love so easily with its infectious beat, and its anthemic lyrics. It’s an ode to youth. And seeing its video, I am always reminded of my off-to-7-11 Christmas ritual with my brother and cousin. We never shoplifted or destroyed merchandise like the kids in the video. We were just together. Three kids together on Christmas eve, walking the cold, deserted, Sampaloc streets.
Whatever did we buy in 7-11? Slurpees. My brother would mix his flavors, Aizel would imitate and repent afterwards, while I’d stick with my plain Coke flavor. They would tease me why I didn’t just buy a Gulp.
8. Flowers In December – Mazzy Star (from Among My Swan)
Yeah, well, this song just pops in my head whenever I start seeing poinsettias. I’m afraid that’s all there is to it.
But come to think of it, the album opens with Disappear, which is heavy on echoing guitars and chimes and bells. A good record to put on should one be feeling torchy, or should one be carrying the torch, through the December breeze.
7. Bizaare Love Triangle [Extended Dance Mix] – New Order (from International)
Nanay always asks me to put on something happy and danceable on Christmas day. She doesn’t appreciate it much when I’d play And Out Come The Wolves, or Insomniac, which I all consider as slam-danceable. So I compromise with her with Joy Division or New Order. She prefers New Order because of this radio-friendly song.
The thing is, when the album gets to this song, I’d start pressing the repeat button repeatedly so that you don’t get to hear the rest of the album anymore. I can’t help it, the song’s crazy, it has this power over me! Now factor in that the version in the album is extended, almost seven minutes, you cannot really blame Nanay for complaining “Hanggang ngayon ba hindi pa rin tapos yan?”, though she had been grooving along with it at the start.
Then I would continue the compromise with Madonna records. Everyone happy.
6. Time Bomb – Rancid (from And Out Come The Wolves)
As earlier said, Nanay, and our Christmas guests don’t really appreciate much the joy that is in punk records, specifically in And Out Come The Wolves. So whenever I popped the record in the cassette player, I had to beg with them to at least let me reach this song before I change records, on account that I refused to go fast-forward, or rewind my tapes.
Funny but half-way through the song, I’d always catch the unbelievers grooving along its ska beat. Some would even ask who’s singing. I’d joyfully show off to them the sleeves, with the mohawked guy slouching on the cover, as I put on their much anticipated Madonna numbers.
5. Brain Stew/Jaded – Green Day (from Insomniac)
I love New Year’s eve so much because, as a teenager, it is that one time of the year that I got to totally abuse the Sharp karaoke in the house, lining up all my punk, post-punk, and grunge tapes and playing all of them in full blast mono glory amidst the deafening Super Lolos and Diablos and Bawangs. There was no way anyone could complain, it’s New Year’s eve! Everyone’s making noise anyway! And since much of my catalogue was considered noise by the rest anyway, they better tolerate it on the grand eve of noises galore!
This is the song that I’d save all my vocal strength for. It is my all-time favorite Green Day song. And it is best sung during New Year’s eve actually with its apocalyptic lyrics. And when it’s on, I’d jump up and down you’d think the clock has struck midnight and I’m already on with the I-wanna-be-taller pamahiin.
4. (It’s The End Of The World As We Know It) I Feel Fine – REM (from The Best Of REM)
For the longest time, since I’ve started collecting records seriously, I’ve only had five Christmas albums (you cannot have enough, you know): We Wish You A Merry Christmas by The Ray Conniff Singers (which I had in all formats, vinyl, tape, and CD, being my oldest Christmas record), Christmas Sing-In (“happy holidays… teng-teng-teng… happy holidays…”) by The Gunther Kallman Choir, Dream A Dream by Charlotte Church, The Christmas Album by Frank Sinatra, and Pamasko Ng Mga Bituin by Celeste Legaspi and company.
This is the song that I used to open my Christmas playlists. I also played it during intervals between albums. I loved how its unique apocalyptic feel contrasts with the spirit of the nativity. And I loved how those who get to hear would ask me, “It’s the end of the world?” or “Ano daw? Gunaw?”.
3. Stay (Far Away, So Close) – U2 (from Zooropa)
Though alone, I still got to continue my nocturnal holiday walks even after my cousin had moved out from us, and my brother found it more fun to be hanging out with his legion of friends.
With its lyrics, three o’clock in the morning, it’s quiet and there’s no one around, just the bang and the clatter as an angel runs to ground, just the bang and the clatter as an angel hits the ground, it is the song I usually sing whenever I take such walks. It gets to have an even fuller feel when sung through the littered streets right after the fireworks and as everyone had come in to rest. And the fact that its video is shot in black and white, with wings and feathers alluding to the German film Far Away, So Close for which it is written I guess, all the more does the song embody the desolation of an early morning of a New Year’s day. This song, not New Year’s Day, is the true U2 New Year song.
2. Fake Plastic Trees – Radiohead (from The Bends)
There is no more miserable time to be carrying the torch for someone than through the Christmas season, when you’d go to simbang gabi and be sitting next to pairs and pairs of whispering and giggling and smooching lovers who make church-going their excuse for dating. Yet there is no better time too but the Christmas season to be comforted by a record so full of compassion, love through the bends. Such is the love that is in The Bends. I play it on Valentine’s too.
Some years ago, if I remember it right, some UK radio station made a poll for its listeners, asking them to vote for the saddest song they ever heard. This song, along with another personal fave China by Tori Amos, made the top ten. I also read somewhere that Thom Yorke reportedly cried while recording this song.
I never looked at Christmas trees the same way after I first heard Fake Plastic Trees. Of course, the song really has nothing to do with Christmas, like everything else in this list, and the plant described in the song is anything but a Christmas tree, actually. Still, this song is probably one of the best unwittingly Christmasy songs ever written, especially when one would take note of how artificiality has invaded the Christmas season through materialism. The persona in the song aches to be true, out of longing, and love.
I used to cry whenever I heard this song, Christmas or not. Not anymore. That is how I realized the power of the song. One needn’t be sad, or needy, or aching, to be in love with it – as I still am.
1. Twinkle – Tori Amos (from Boys For Pele)
There is this street that I used to walk on whenever I’d go to Sta. Teresita Parish for simbang gabi. It is wide, smooth, and lit golden on its every corner by tall, incandescent street lamps.
I walked through that street’s early morning Christmas fog singing this song most of the time, looking up ahead at the lamps, though they don’t twinkle. They are more interesting than the Christmas lights anyway. Their light rendered everything beautiful. Their light competed with the moon’s. Their light is warm –
as this plain piano-and-vocals song is, going boy so hard boy so hard but I know a girl twice as hard, quietly fierce in its love.
Oh, and it made me look at every parol differently too. Makes me want to think that just like Radiohead, Tori’s written a Christmas song without her even knowing it.
Alright then, that’s just about it. Listing honorable mentions would find you reading through this ‘til the feast of the Three Kings.
Merry Christmas, everyone!