Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Piano Man

Music does not run in our blood. As far as I know. My parents are no good singers or instrumentalists. Although I have an aunt, my father’s sister, who is part of a church choir for many years until now, I consider her an outlier. I am still convinced that the verity of my first statement is beyond question.

When I was 8, I was belting (or so I thought) “Sayang na Sayang” by Manilyn Reyes which at that time reigned the airwaves. I don’t have yet my low tonal quality or what my voice mentor called baritone voice. Kids are no falsetto singers. I am not an exception. However, when I sing in the house, nobody listened to me. And nobody told me I sang well. Or even clapped their hands. Or even smiled when they passed by me. Or any gesture that can be considered ‘nice” in the face of a child, to show even a little appreciation. In other words, when I sing, it’s about me and my own world. So I grew up thinking, singing is not for me.

Until high school days when school programs and presentations were common events that my classmates always volunteer me to sing. Of course they were not successful. At the end of the day, their incessant pleadings do not convince my already made-up conviction that I am no singer. Although my classmates heard me sing million times in my unguarded moments anywhere, they cannot hear me on stage.

At the age of 23, when I was already working,I took what I consider the road less traveled. Finally, I was joining a singing contest, company-related that is. Things were different now. I cannot refuse to my boss or should I say in general viewpoint, we loose the power to refuse to our bosses. I represented my department in the first round of elimination. There were three who joined that week. I sang “Hanggang” by Wency Cornejo and placed 1st. Was I too direct? Hahaha! Then came the finals night, where all 6 winners in the elimination rounds will compete. I sang “You” by Basil Valdez and placed 4th. Meaning to say, I lost. I drank three bottles of Red Horse until the last drop after the contest.

The next year, I joined in the same contest and almost the same order of events took place. The little difference was that I sang “Say That You Love Me” by Martin in the elimination round and “Hanggang” in the finals night. After the contest, I did three bottoms up of Red Horse plus a lesson in hand not to sing “Hanggang” in a Singing Contest if in case I join again, which at this point is very vague.

The opportunity to sing just keeps coming to me that I sang in the Midyear Conference of Toastmasters held in Antipolo City. It was a singing contest with a twist. All contestants were given the songs (five songs for male and five songs for female) to practice. At the time of the contest, that’s when we will know what to sing. The songs were, “This is the Moment, Kailangan Kita, Say That You Love Me, She, and She’s Out of My Life” Among the songs, I prayed, “Lord, let it not be “she’s out of my life”. When I was on stage, I sang the line, “And I don’t know whether to laugh or cry”. Now you know God delays some prayers. The result will not surprise you. Journalism tells me not to write the obvious.

I thought in my solitary moments (which by the way is overflowing to the brim in my life) to try other outlets of music other than singing.

I have a colleague who owns a grand piano at home. It was a birthday gift to her by her dad. She used to play well as her father wanted her to be. One day she suddenly revealed her early plans for 2010 including piano lessons once again. And I said to her, “Count me in”. Hopefully, nothing comes into the way. Who knows, I am really meant to be a Piano Man.

Oh, speaking of the Piano Man. I was in a hotel last December 26, when I heard of a beautiful sound. It was just too splendid, magical, and beautiful not to notice it. There is something in the piano sound that revitalizes and soothes a human soul. I went out of my way to join him and stood proudly beside the piano. I asked him of he could play one request but he's generous enough. He played 3 masterpieces, “Hanggang”, “Ikaw ang Lahat sa Akin”, and “King and Queen of Hearts” of course with me singing like its the greatest performance of my life. I didn’t even notice people dining were already smiling at me. Did I just fulfill a dream? Unexpectedly. Thanks to the Piano Man!

Monday, December 28, 2009


The digital clock of my phone ticked 11:59. One minute away from Christmas. I woke up feeling dizzy. I looked around and saw a scene like the portrait of the mother and child deeply asleep in their double-deck bed. I felt the biting cold so I wore my red and black coat, went outside, and looked far at the placid blue sea. It’s Christmas!

A day before, I woke up at 4:30am, to catch up the 5:15am air con bus going to Dumaguete. I wasn’t lucky enough though. When I arrived, all seats were taken. Some were already on their feet with their one hand on the railings. The trip will take around 6 hours granting no delay so I opted to take the next bus. I arrived at the port of Dumaguete around 12 noon.

The uncovered path walk going to the ticket booth of the fast craft is some distance away. I treaded the grueling, hot, cemented walk way sweating profusely that I felt its cascade. As I stood near the area, I had a glimpse of a clique of Koreans talking. From the tone and pace of their speaking, somehow, I knew something is not right. Then I saw the notice printed in short bond paper, “All trips are cancelled”. What a day I said! I waited. I wanted to know why. I took a seat nearby when a staff went out. From my distance I overheard him saying, “The waves are too unruly to sail safely”.

I would have resolved to stay until 11pm and take the boat going to Cebu when my Chemistry professor called my name. I knew she’s going to my destination too so I immediately broke the news to her. She was furious! When I saw the porter behind her carrying 2 squarely huge bags, I nodded to her emotion. Then we discussed how to go about the unfortunate events that happened.

We decided to travel by bus, take the roll on-roll off barge, to be able to cross the next island, Cebu. As we sail, the waves became fierce. The further we sail, the stronger they became. I lost my equilibrium. My professor who’s beside me became my stress ball. Thanks to her. She didn’t complain. My two hands were already robustly clasped to my seat with my butt almost hanging in an effort to balance the barge when it tilted to some angle. I admit, I am paranoid in life-threatening situations. I don’t think I am ready. But we made it. Thank God!

We went inside the bus again and started again my long journey to my destination. Along the way I could feel the warmth of the occasion. I could see busy people preoccupied in their preparation. There were already disco lights and sounds stationed outside people’s houses. There were explosions of firecrackers near and far. I saw people in long queue to order “lechon manok”. I heard beautiful Christmas Songs sang by the choir in churches which made me sing along until their voices fade in the air. It was quite a long trip, four hours to be more exact.

We arrived at the Cebu South Bus terminal, and immediately rode a cab to take us to Pier 3. Then the string of unfortunate events still hanged on us. There was no boat available. We tried our luck once more and proceeded to Pier 1. There I found some consolation. There was a trip going to my place of destination. It was my teacher who’s got the dilemma. Her boat was in Pier 7. She said she can manage so I just called another cab to take her to the boat. I kissed her goodbye and greeted her Merry Christmas.

With my three bags, I was alone, as I went inside the boat at 10:00 in the evening. I looked around trying to find a soul whom I know. There was none. I proceeded to my bed, laid down my bags. Then I closed my eyes and slept. At 25, ‘twas Christmas at the Sea.