Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tell My Father

Fatherhood is so underrated these days. For some, fathers are just sperm donors. For many, fathers are just providers of food, clothing and shelter. For some, fathers mean as much as mothers.

So a toast to fathers! Here's a song on youtube and the lyrics of Tell My Father from the Broadway musical Civil War:

Tell my father that his son
Didn't run, or surrender
That I bore his name with pride
As I tried to remember
You are judged by what you do
While passing through
As I rest 'neath fields of green
Let him lean on your shoulder
Tell him how I spent my youth
So the truth could grow older
Tell my father when you can
I was a man
Tell him we will meet again
Where the angels learn to fly
Tell him we will meet as men
For with honor did I die
Tell him how I wore the Blue
Proud and true through the fire
Tell my father so he'll know
I love him so
Tell him how we wore the blue
Proud and true like he taught us
Tell my father not to cry
Then say goodbye

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Music the moves me today


words & music by Peter Allen & Carole Bayer Sager

I'd rather leave while I'm in love
while I still believe the meaning of the word
I'll keep my dreams and just pretend
that you and I are never gonna end

Too many times I've seen
the rose die on the vine
somebody's heart gets broken
usually it's mine
I don't want to take the chance
of being hurt again
and you and I can't say good-bye

So if you wake and find me gone
oh baby carry you see I need my fantasy
I still believe it's best

to leave while I'm in love

Too many times I've seen
the rose die on the vine
somebody's heart gets broken
it's mine
I don't want to take
the chance
of being hurt again

and you and I can't say good-bye

So if you wake and find me gone
oh baby carry on, you see I need my fantasy
I still believe it's best to
while I'm in love I still believe

It's best to leave while I'm in love

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Trying to make sense of a senseless death

Two weeks ago, the eldest son of my friends hung himself with a towel in their bathroom. He seemed like a typical college student with a year to go before graduation. Even his family was taken by surprise by it as they were surprised last year to find him performing with a local amateur band.

After his burial, the parents found a cache of death metal cds and posters in his room. These were promptly burned in their backyard.

When I googled his name today, the search turned up 3 - 4 pages of his friends in myspace.com paying homage to the young man in this way: rest in gore: g_p_p_. All 3 - 4 friends have one thing in common: these young people are death metal music fans/performers.

Wikipedia defines death metal as:
Death metal is an extreme heavy metal subgenre. The genre is typically characterized by the use of heavily-distorted guitars, harsh vocals that are low-pitched and/or growled, morbid lyrics, exceptionally fast-paced rhythms and melodies, frequent blast beats on drums, and complex song structures with multiple tempo changes.

Death metal's lyrical themes typically invoke Z-grade slasher and splatter movie violence, but may also extend to contain themes of Satanism, Occultism, mysticism, and/or social commentary. Although violence may be explored in various other genres as well, death metal elaborates on the details of extreme acts, including mutilation, dissection, rape and necrophilia. Sociologist Keith Kahn-Harris (author of Extreme Metal: Music and Culture on the Edge) commented that this may be attributed to a "fascination" with the human body that all people share to some degree, a "primal desire", and that although the genre often glamorizes violence and obscurities, there is equally as much fear and disgust amid the exploration. Heavy metal author Gavin Baddeley also stated that there does seem to be a connection between "how acquainted one is with their own mortality" and "how much they crave images of death and violence" via the media. Additionally, contributing artists to the genre often defend death metal as little more than an extreme form of art and entertainment, similar to horror films in the motion picture industry. Needless to say, this has brought such musicians under fire from activists internationally, who claim that fact is often lost on a large number of adolescents, who are left with the glamorization of such violence without social context or awareness of why such imagery is stimulating.
At the risk of sounding like I'm making death metal a convenient scapegoat for this young man's death, I pose these questions -- Could this type of music really drive a young man to commit suicide? to prefer death over life? As the last sentence of the quoted material from Wikipedia suggests, are we allowing young people to play russian roulette with their lives by tolerating their "blind" embrace of this type of music? Is it enough for us to shrug off this type of music by saying: "it's just one of the various forms of art and entertainment"?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Neighbors II

While I was googling about the topic of my previous blogpost, I heard the northern wife's father retching as usual. It went on for several minutes and then abruptly stopped. As I was finishing the said blogpost, I heard a commotion in the makeshift house as it was only a meter and a half from mine. Then I heard the northern wife crying and shouting loudly her father's name. Her cries was soon joined by the keening howls from the mentally-challenged daughter. Anak, patay na si Tatay Dodoy ninyo!

Obviously, the northern family found him sprawled dead near the kitchen where he usually heats water for a cup of instant coffee.

This is not the first time I was the last one to hear someone's last moments (although I would realize it moments or hours later). In 1992, while I was still adjusting to my new home, I was too revved up (after hours of arranging/rearranging things) to sleep and so to relax I read a book. At 3:00 in the morning, I heard a tricycle sputtering on the road in front of our subdivision and then the howling of a dog. This was followed by another dog and another until it seemed like the neighborhood dogs were on a howling roundelay.

Hours later, as I was watering the plants outside my fence, a couple of neighbors coming from their jogging exercise told me that they saw a trail of blood from the highway to our subdivision road.

Still a few hours later, a police siren brought us all out of our houses. A man was found dead. His body was dumped in the dry creek where some neighbors would throw their garbage.

That night the local TV news reported that the man was a driver whose tricycle was stolen by men who also knifed him to death.

I thought to myself - that's why the dogs were howling, they smelled the blood of this man as he was brought bleeding to the dry creek.

And I was still awake when it happened as I was when the northern wife's father stopped retching and breathing next door.

Mercifully, dinner time will be quiet this week. May God rest the soul of the northern wife's father whom I just knew was nicknamed Dodoy. Amen.

In search of: Libertine's Destiny by P. Anciers

I read a copy of Libertine's Destiny in college. It was not placed in the general circulation or reserved section, but the only copy was kept under lock and key by the librarian because it was the most in-demand book at that time. The waiting list was several coupon bonds long. But since I was the most "demanding" bookworm, I arranged to borrow it after the library closed at noon Saturday and return it on the first hour of the library service Monday morning (under strict pains of eternal damnation, hah!).

It was a very fascinating read which kept me up all night until dawn of Sunday. (Keep reading, no story or plot spoilers ahead!) The book must have impressed me so much that to this day I still remember having read it. It was not literature (I don't remember it being in the required reading list in any of my English lit classes), but it was written a la Sidney Sheldon's novels (you know, the ones that keep you turning pages because you want to know what happens next). It was probably the first chicklit book published in the Philippines (even before books like it was called chicklit).

And so while reading the first two chapters of Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind about a boy's search for other books by an author, I suddenly recalled Libertine's Destiny and bolted out of bed, booted my laptop, googled it and now I'm here writing this blogpost.

And just like The Shadow of Wind's boy, Daniel Sempere, I am now hunting down information about Libertine's Destiny.

The Google search results turned up inquiries about where to buy copies of it, a blog named after it, and finally gave me information from this site (obviously) a library catalogue entry in a university in Cavite.

TITLE: Libertine's Destiny / P. Anciers.
AUTHOR: Anciers, P.
PUBLISHED: Manila : Zenith Books, 1967
DESCRIPTION: vi, 450 p. ; 23 cm.
NOTES: Originally serialized by the Weekly Women's Magazine
SUBJECT: Serialized fiction.
SUBJECT: Women in literature.
SUBJECT: Philippine fiction (English).

Further Google searches on P. Anciers and Zenith Books (Manila) turned up nada.

No entries on Amazon.com or any other book sellers online! No wikipedia bio-entry on P. Anciers!

Is this the dead end of my search for what seemed to me is a book which first caught the interest of readers when it was serialized in Weekly Women's Magazine, and later when published, gained a cult following among readers (mostly young women when they first read it, I guess) up to today?

Abangan . . .

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Neighbors I

I have three immediate neighbors on the northern, eastern and the western fronts. I share the same street with the the eastern and western neighbors. The northern neighbors rent a house and lot foreclosed by a bank and in turn sublease a portion of the lot to their relatives who built a small makeshift house for six right next to the hollow block fence separating my property from the northern front.

I live a hermit's life in my "future private (read: exclusive) home for the aged (me in a few years' time!)" , meaning, I normally don't make a lot of noise as I do whatever I have to do everyday. As just like the proverbial owl I get to observe a lot of things about these neighbors.

At first, I have to contend with the western wife's habit of feeding her husband and children with a hefty serving of nagging for breakfast - wherewereyoulastnight?didyouvisitthemaidifired?whattimedidyougethome?and didn'titellyouidon'tlikeyourboyfriendcomingheretovisit?whydon'tyoutellyourboys

Then when the northern neighbors' relatives moved in, the naggings get served for dinner -
Punctuated by the howls and cries of their adult mentally-challenged daughter who sounds like a munchkin (not the Dunkin Donuts kind, but the Wizard of Oz type.)

And seven years ago, the eastern neighbors occupied the house built for them by the young wife's mother who won the lot from mahjong. Giving birth successively to four baby girls, the eastern wife finally produced an heir on the fifth year and promptly had her fallopian tubes tied. After that, her inner nosy bitch came to the fore! Her mouth rapid-fired curses and nagging all day!

feedingbottlefrom thebedroom!Pestengyawa!Mgapestengbata!didn'titellyoualltosleepafter

The western hubby is small bald man who is always the reason why his wife fires the maid. She claims he can't keep his hands off the household help. He says the only recipients of his caresses are his fighting cocks.

The northern hubby works for a construction firm as all-around worker. He's the one always puttering around the house; hammering a nail here and there. The wife's 80-year-old father stays with them. I think he has hyperacidity/ulcer. Each morning, the northern makeshift house comes alive with his retching.

The eastern hubby comes and goes on his motorcycle at different hours of the day and usually gets his fair share of the wife's curses and nagging. He and only son are the silent minority of the house.

Somehow I feel I have to shield myself from the noises the wives from all three fronts make everyday. And so in the morning when the western wife serves breakfast and sermon ala carte, I turn up the volume and play Freddie Aguilar's Estudyante Blues:

Ako ang nakikita, ako ang nasisisi Ako ang laging may kasalanan Paggising sa umaga, sermon ang almusal Bago pumasok sa eskwela Kapag nangangatwiran, ako’y pagagalitan Di ko alam ang gagawin Ako’y sunud-sunuran, ayaw man lang pakinggan Nasasaktan ang damdamin Ako’y walang kalayaan Sunod sa utos lamang Paggaling sa eskwela, diretso na ng bahay Wala naman akong aabutan Wala doon si nany, wala doon si tatay Katulong ang naghihintay Pagtawag ng barkada, sa kanila’y sumama Lagot na naman paglarga Kapag nangangatwiran, ako’y pagagalitan Di ko alam ...

At dinner time, when the northern makeshift house starts rocking with the wife's nagging and the mentally-challenged daughter's howls, I play Maria Callas and Dame Kiri te Kanawa's opera arias.

And all throughout the day especially when I'm at home on weekends, as the eastern wife's mouth starts spouting curses, I play nursery rhymes and Disney film soundtracks.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Soft Opening of National Bookstore GenSan

The National Bookstore-GenSan had its first opening day (soft opening) today at 11 a.m. When I entered it at 1:30, the thirst for books and knowledge was palpable in the air. Of course, there were a lot of mothers with kids in tow in search of best buys in school supplies. In my first thirty minutes there, I saw lots of bookworms (the very same people I see in the local bookstores and secondhand bookshops on my bookhaunts) and made new friends.

The NBS-Gensan branch has a mezzanine with two staircases. It looks like a smaller version of the NBS-Katipunan branch across Ateneo de Manila University. The mezzanine holds more books on shelves, since the ground floor has mostly school and office supplies. The left side corner of the mezzanine has a special browsing and activity section for kids.

Although I still don't understand the fascination Pinoys have for dictionaries, this section is SRO (standing-room-only) for most browsers. The cookbooks section also has its female browsers.

Ma'ams Jo and Salome of NBS-Gaisano Mall Davao branch are on hand to oversee the opening.

You may apply for your own Laking National card now!

The Grand Opening and Blessing is in the offing! See you there!