Only Lyrically

Month: December, 2008



From October 12, 2001 to January 11, 2002, Warner Bros. broadcasted Tori Amos’ Strange Little Webcast. It was part of the company’s online Live Concert Series. The following were the songs performed:




I could have I should have I could have…

I just want a little passion to hold me in the dark…

Your apocalypse was fab…

Can’t figure what it is… I got me some horses to ride on to ride on as long as your army keeps perfectly still…


And the rain sounds like a round of applause…

All I ever wanted all I ever needed…


Enjoy The Silence had been previously posted here, but am posting it again if only to provide us with a complete feel of the webcast. Time as performed by Tori before the Letterman show had already been previously posted too, but this webcast version, I believe, is much better. Besides, what better way to end the year but with yes it’s time time time that you love and it’s time time time. Right?

Or maybe it would be more fitting to end the year with an ode for strange little girls.


You really should be you really should be you really shoud be you really should be going!










Hope, Blood, and Turandot




Those are the answers to the Turandot riddles: what is born each night and dies each dawn, what flickers red and warm like a flame but is not fire, and what is like ice but burns like fire.


Turandot was not able to answer Calaf’s riddle, though. Or was she?


* * *


Next year will be critical. Especially the first six months. Make or break. Before my thirtieth year ends, I would already see the work that the academe would allow me to pursue. I hope it is the same work I desire to pursue. I hope whoever prevails would be convincing enough to still allow the other pleasure from being prevailed upon.


January to April will be the months of the comprehensive exams. May to August will be the thesis proposal defense. I cannot make my proposal defense without passing the comps. I cannot start working on the core poems without being able to defend my proposal. Then August onwards will be for writing, writing, writing. The poems, singing on paper. The next round(s) of defense – the defense of the poems – will follow only after I am done writing my thirty poems, my thesis, of course.


The writing must be accomplished as quickly as possible. The longer one takes to write the thesis, the bigger one has to pay. Last time I heard, I would need at least twenty thousand per semester. I am pretty much solved for the comps, so I must now start saving for the writing and defense terms. I have been begging my brother that he and I start playing sets at night, so I could at least get my lunch money from singing, and leave my salary untouched for the bills and the tuition. I think he’s still contemplating whether I could do a Fergie or an Aguilera. We have to play new stuff, he says. He squirms at my suggestion of me doing a Mitchell or a Baez. I don’t think he even knows them.


Fine, I tell him, as long as you don’t make me sing anything that would prompt the audience to throw their chairs at me. Like Nessun Dorma.


* * *


I was able to acquire a copy of The Mirror Has Two Faces. I was surprised at Nessun Dorma being played in the finale, because all the while I was expecting to hear the theme song (I Finally Found Someone, which was played during the end credits).


I have a video copy of Nessun Dorma as sung by Brightman. I have always been content on listening to it as it is, not feeling the need anymore to find out what the Italian lyrics might mean. It is by Puccini, so it must have some tragedy in it, I thought. And I have always assumed it to be religious of sorts, what with Brightman singing it dressed up like a gothic Virgin Mary, with red streaming down from the pedestal from which she sang. And a halo of stars behind her head.


So I wondered what would Nessun Dorma be doing in the climax of a Streisand movie, the one romantic movie she made which I specifically remember her speak of with something like, “This time, I want the girl to get the boy.” I do remember her not getting the men in Yentl, and The Way We Were. If Nessun Dorma was a tragic/religious song, why would they play it at the end of a love story ending happily?


Questions only a simpleton would bear despite the presence of Google and YouTube.


Nessun Dorma is a love song. And it has stars written in it.


* * *



Posted here are three versions. The Brightman one that I have, one by Pavarotti who is supposedly the best interpreter of it, and one kick-ass rendition by Aretha Franklin. Franklin sings some parts in English.
















* * *


The day after Christmas, right before me, my brother, and cousin Aizel’s Far-view family went to see Iskul Bukol, my brother was showing me Bituing Walang Ningning videos from the web. He was singing its praises. He said Willie Cruz is a genius. I think Willie Cruz is already a FAMAS hall-of-famer for the song and/or musical score category. Bituing Walang Ningning is one of the songs he won a FAMAS for, I believe.


I tried to point out to my brother how the figurative devices used in the lyrics make the song richer. Paradox, irony, and lots and lots of hyperbole. It is a song of contradictions and exaggerations. The hallmarks of romance, eh? I don’t think he was listening to me, he was listening to Sharon.


One more endearing thing about that song is its being mid-ranged. One does not have to be of Nessun Dorma standards to be able to belt Bituing Walang Ningning.


I guess Bituing Walang Ningning would be one more song for which I could get chairs flying towards us onstage should I attempt singing it.


* * *


At Trinoma, the Iskul Bukol screening we got tickets for was for 3 p.m. (incidentally, Miss Bituing Walang Ningning was in Iskul Bukol). There was more than enough time for my nephew Kodi to look for new acquisitions from the toy department.


As I did my own roaming, I chanced upon a shelf of neon glow-in-the-dark sticker stars. I immediately grabbed several packs and chose over them. I ended up narrowing my choices to two.


The packs both have the same number of stars – twelve. Both had one crescent moon each. One pack had its stars colored, the other had them plain dirty white. The colored pack had a smiley face on its biggest star – which made me initially want to return it to the shelf. But I also thought I could just not use that one star, maybe I could give it away to Kodi to add to his Far-view planetarium. All the rest I keep. I’m making my own Isaac ceiling.


I still couldn’t decide, so, carrying the two packs, I walked towards my cousins and brother, for their opinion over the matter. All of them were for the colored stars. I still couldn’t make up my mind because I wanted to know if the colors would show in the dark, and if I’d be seeing the silly smiley etched on the biggest star, the pink star –


Then, a weird thing happened –


The lights went off! And instantly I looked at the packs of stars I had in my hands, with my cousin telling me amidst the shrieks of the shoppers, “O ayan, pinagbigyan ka!” Right then and there I knew what the two packs would look like in the dark. The colored pack just had the same whitish neon glow with the uncolored pack. So what’s the point of getting the colored pack? The uncolored pack is much better. It can blend with the color of the ceiling in the day, and yet be visible in the night.


As for the smiley on the star in the colored pack, it didn’t show in the dark. Doesn’t matter. I walked through the dark and returned the colored pack back in the shelf. The lights started coming back as I paid in the counter for my pack of stars, as my brother gave the bagger girl his usual silly pick-up lines.


* * *


The English translation of Nessun Dorma has a line that goes watch the stars that tremble with love and hope.



I have not yet made my Isaac ceiling. I just realized that standing on my table would not let me reach the ceiling, I still have to put a stool on the table and stand on the stool. Quite easy actually, if not for the fact that my table is the folding kind which has roller wheels on its feet.


The stars are still packed, dangling beside my bathroom towel. They do glow in the dark, just the same. At least, for the moment, until I find a way to balance myself on a stool on top of a moving table, they are within reach.




Christmas Notes


A few hours earlier today in Bulacan, on the dirt road in front of my parents’ nipa hut, three white cows passed by.


It was a family of cows, I guess. The biggest must have been the father, the mid-sized was the mother, and the kid cow was, well, their kid.


The father cow and mother cow were moving on side by side. Their kid was lagging a bit behind, just right behind the mother’s behind.


Holy cow apparition? It gets weirder.


Just a few minutes ago, as I was lying beside my hundred pound nephew on the lower bed of his double deck bed, as the two of us were wrestling, I happened to peer beyond the upper bed –


And since I was not intending to sleep yet, I still had my contacts on –


And for the first time, I noticed something on the ceiling of this bedroom which I never noticed before, despite my having slept here for so many times already –


Kodi has neon glow-in-the-dark sticker stars too. The same kind Mrs. Lykes has on the ceiling of her room.


“Meron pa ngang Saturn, o!” Kodi enthused, pointing out a glow-in-the-dark version of the ringed planet.


Ceilings as slates of re-assurance. Hope glows in the dark. Rightly so.







Soon, Mrs. Lykes would be leaving for Oklahoma, which is why me and the girls cannot help but just go to her whenever she’d call for a meeting lately. I do not feel sad at all about her leaving. I want her to leave, because I know she’s been wanting to be able to go for the longest time. Her place is with him, his place is with her. She and Mr. Lykes should be together. And she and Mr. Lykes ought to be making babies. And I cannot wait to cradle my godchild in my arms.


* * *


For the dinner last Saturday, Mrs. Lykes said that I better just invite my other friend, Suzeth, to join us, anyway, Mrs. Lykes had invited another friend, too, a photographer, from whom Mrs. Lykes was supposed to take a couple of hours of photography lessons. So me and Suzeth stayed on with the group.


For the most part, though, I was exclusively speaking with Suzeth. It has been four months at least since I last saw her. A hell lot happened already. Her kid sister is getting married. She’s busy with the preparations. She’s shelved dating in the meantime. Her business plans are on the go. And she’ll be wearing a mini-skirt Santa dress over at Boss Glenn’s Christmas extravaganza. In a dance number to be choreographed by Gemmo. I can imagine the rehearsals running until the wee hours, due to the choreographer’s laugh-a-minute antics. Gemmo is adoringly insane. He used to make funny faces behind the rehearsal leaders’ backs whenever we rehearsed something for LEAP. I wonder if his flock now makes faces for him too.


I told Suzeth about the environmentalists and how the firm is such a godsend. Now I enjoy daily comforts, like great company, free coffee, and a bidet spray. The first time I had an encounter with such a nozzle was over at Mrs. Lykes’ bridal shower at Traders. The one they had there was a monstrous, silvery thing that had a life of its own. I couldn’t hold it in place. It spewed the rapids in all directions.


I had to tell Suzeth too about mine and Althea’s adventure with the three men and the ice pick. Another silvery thing, nearly took our lives. Made me ask for some time right after, “what are you willing to let go of, really?”


Perhaps willingness is not even of consequence. The Lord gives, the Lord takes. And always in love, always. That is the only certainty.


I still did not want Suzeth to leave by the time she already had to. I suddenly felt bad about choosing not to go to LEAP night, and the orientation (I did reach the elevator, and the hall right outside the elevator), and the OCCI party. At the time I made those choices, they all seemed perfectly reasonable. So why feel bad now? And what for?


Maybe I ought to be feeling bad, I thought, so I would always remember the usual root of most of my bad choices: ingratitude. Just when I thought I have successfully made ‘thank you’ my new cure-all mantra.


I was once told by the Don, a dear friend whom I hardly see anymore, “Ang nakikita mo kasi, ‘yung wala.” He was already uttering poetry – did he have any idea?


* * *


The ice pick incident happened about a month ago now. It was a night of abundance. And music. Althea treated everyone to Hairspray. She, La Bevz, and me went weepy over Dulce. And right after that, we saw a second musical, of Visayan artists. Elizabeth Ramsey roused the laughs, lifting her skirt a number of times while doing the upbeat numbers. Jose Mari Chan sang Constantly.


Just a few hours before the incident, while having coffee, we heard a version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Could be we were already being blessed, being prepared, and we had no idea.


* * *


I did not struggle at all. The young man who went for my stuff pushed me against the backseat then slammed the door shut. I felt blank. Then I turned to Alts whom I have never seen as fierce before, fighting for the things she worked so hard for. She was so tough, as if she did not see the men’s weapon pointing right at her chin (she later said that she actually did not see). She was grunting as she screamed “noooo! noooo!” I grabbed her as I went “let go let go let go let go” like a broken record.


* * *


Louie, taking note of my anti-konyo jones, noticed it too, after hearing the incident a week ago: “Mamamatay na lang kayo nag-iinglisan pa kayo.”


All of us laughed. The fact that we can already laugh about it must prove that we have let go of the trauma.


* * *


About less than two months ago, if my calculations are right, us girls again went to another adventure. We visited a friend, Miss Lipa, Cherie, our Cherie. And as she wrote, she did take us to every place she could with ‘Lipa’ on its name.


Must be we were over at ‘Lipa Café’, when she sat at the other end of the table as Althea was talking about ‘Isaac moments’. Cherie should have heard that one. But it was me who was nearby. I must have needed to hear it too, despite supposedly knowing it already by heart at that time.


God gave Abraham exactly what Abraham so longed for all his life, and when God wanted to take it away, Abraham – fully trusting in God, obeyed, surrendered.


So what are the lessons? That we should not fret over a loss? That there is no such thing as ‘loss’ – if every grace is merely entrusted to us, for us to cherish while we have it in our hands, trusting that there is grace even in surrendering a grace? That more than surrendering, we should offer? And that all of this is easy, if we are merely thankful?


I have no idea. Why do I keep doubting Him who has entrusted me with so much?


The night after the Lipa trip, Mrs. Lykes asked me to sleep over at her place again. I already slept at her place the night before, for our friend Mich to be able to easily pick us up in the morning.


I noticed something on my second night there that I did not notice on the first night, perhaps because I was dead tired during the first night, not to mention my very poor eyesight –


As we were lying down, right above us, right at the ceiling, are neon glow-in-the-dark sticker stars.

It has been there for years, Mrs. Lykes said. Mrs. Lykes, who wrote to me to consider my greatest desires granted. So I fell asleep, looking at the stars she looked at too as a kid.


God promised His faithful Abraham: as numerous as the stars in the sky.






Merry Christmas!

and Happy Epiphanies!