The Return of eLf ideas

ideas of an eLven being in Canada

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Parang karnabal—ganyan ang buhay ng tao"

"Bakit ang buhay ng tao
Lagi na lang ganito
Parang trumpo

Minsan nama'y
Akala mo
Isang payaso
Sa likod ng bawat patawa
Nakatago'y lungkot..."

November 25, 2005

Finally, I and my new friend Jason Paredes (bassist) with his friends Rod Dizon (drummer) and Ardie Sarao (guitarist) had our first practice session at Jason's basement. The result was commendable. After listening to the demo version of "Buhay-Karnabal" (recorded in 1999 by one of my other bands, Dream Kitchen), Jason, Rod, and Ardie set on to decipher their respective parts. After performing the song repeatedly for about an hour, we began to record it instrument by instrument. Rod laid down the drum tracks, and Jason the bass. Unfortunately, Ardie had to leave early because he still had to pick up his sons from their karate lessons, so he instead taught Jason the guitar parts—who recorded it afterwards. I sang and played the keyboards. After about three hours, we were able to come up with a fairly good draft copy of the song, considering that it was the first time the guys heard the song and that it was our first jamming session.

DOWNLOAD a very primitive version of "Parang karnabal—ganyan ang buhay ng tao." Consider this only the seed of a fruit that is yet to be ripened. When finished, it will be included in the eight-song album that I hope to be able to release next year in case the guys and I manage to pull this project off. However, I am still deciding if, for this album of previously unrecorded materials, I will use the Half Life Half Death name or settle on using a new moniker. I'll cross the bridge when....

View the complete lyric of "Parang karnabal—ganyan ang buhay ng tao" here.

Like many of the Half Life Half Death songs I composed, "Buhay-Karnabal," now entitled "Parang karnabal—ganyan ang buhay ng tao," began as a poem, which I wrote in the mid-'90s. The poem is now a part of my poetry book entitled Pagdiriwang Pagsapit ng Panaginip (Poems in Filipino, 1994–2003), which I wish to get published someday.

I got to transform the poem, "Parang Karnabal," into the song "Buhay-Karnabal," when I became the vocalist of another Filipino New Wave band, Dream Kitchen. I'll take this opportunity to acknowledge Gremar Bernil and Gilbert Tiongson, fellow chefs in Dream Kitchen who made major contributions to the music part of the song.

The eLf as Dream Kitchen's master chef
In late 1997 to 2000, my band Half Life Half Death was dead.... After about a year without any band activity, sometime in late 1997, my itch to perform again was eventually relieved when a fellow New Wave band, named Dream Kitchen, invited me to join them as lead vocalist....

to be continued...

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Thirty-seventh of a Dozen Verses

(September 2005 poems)

At 90, Grandfather already knows his time is near. Every time he would start uttering these simple but dreadful words: "Malapit na 'kong mamatay [I'll be dying soon]," I'd increase the TV's volume or quietly leave the room.

I have to admit that—after two years (and counting) of having to be the one to serve virtually twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week without salary nor regular allowance as not only his caregiver but also his shock absorber and scapegoat for all his repressed and suppressed frustrations and resentments in his long life, my feelings for Grandfather has long become ambivalent. There are moments when I can understand him, when I pity him; but there are also instances when I blow my top and get seriously annoyed by him to the extent that I would sleep on the floor (we share the same bed) just so I won't see his face or hear his snore. Sometimes I wish that he finally rest in eternal peace; but then again, I also fear the big possibility that his death will certainly have a major psychological effect on me (for I will certainly be the first person to see him dying)—not that I will miss him—but that I feel the sudden change of routine after his demise will surely alter my sense of purpose. I'm caught in ambivalence and in emotional dilemma.

I really have to express my gratitude to my Muses and sources of inspiration, without whom and which I could not imagine what ways I have long been expressing all my most negative emotions.


Here are some more waluwaluwaló – short poems of three eight-syllable lines (8-8-8) with the rhyme pattern a, b, a—all of which I wrote during the last days of Autumn. Obviously, Grandfather is the catalyst of most of the verses below. I'm sorry that my emotions in these verses had to be of this kind. "Time heals all wounds." But, do all scars go away?

Ubó na naman ni Lolo
Ang bumati sa ’kin ngayon.
D’yusko! Wala na bang bago?

Mainit yata ngayon, ah?
Eh kagabi, sobrang ginaw.
Panaho’y katakataka.

Sumasakit kanyang dibdib;
Ako yata’y ganyan na rin.
Mistula kaming nagsanib.

May kaluluwa nga ba ’ko?
Sige, ako’y kumbinsihin
Habang ako’y nalilito.

Mga kapitbahay namin,
Abala sa pagdadamo.
Kung gawa nga lang ang amin.

Dal’wang taon na’ng lumipas,
Pero iníp pa rin ako.
Naligáw ba ’ko ng landas?

Tama ba’ng aking desisyon—
Pagtuloy sa ibang bansa,
Nang matupad ang ambisyon?

Gusto ko nang magtrabaho;
Ang utak ko ay sabik na;
Para na ’kong nabobobo.

Kaylan kaya ako muling
Sasakay ng eroplano
At lalapag sa ’yong piling?

’bagal ng takbo ng oras,
Parang lakad ng lolo ko.
Lungkot ko ay dumadalas.

Si Lolo’y nananaginip,
Nagsasalita nang tulog.
Ano kaya’ng nasa isip?

Kamut dito, kamot doon—
Ganyan s’ya pag naiinis…
Ako lagi’ng sinasabon.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Strikingly Ordinary, Nothing Unusual

(Random Photographs in November 2005)

"When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence."Ansel Adams

At this stage of my life when the only best link to home is the Internet, checking e-mails has become a part of my daily routine.

I am Grandfather's hairdresser as well.

Aside from my journal and pen, these recently bought C$120 portable Sony MP3-compatible discplayer and speakers serve as my companions on moments I want to fly away.

I'm no longer afraid to face my early-morning unshaven ugliness.

Reading the last pages of Self-Reliance and Other Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson

"In times when we thought ourselves indolent, we have afterwards discovered, that much was accomplished, and much was begun in us."—R.W.E., "Experience"

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Great Enterprises Start From

November 17, 2005

I contacted Jason Paredes, one of the persons who wrote me a message through the Web site. We realized that we reside only five-minute-drive away from each other. He said that, if I could go out on Thursday, he could pick me up; he would then bring me to one of the biggest music stores in Winnipeg, where he buys his stuff, and proceed to his home so I could check out his home recording studio.

At Jason's house, located on Burrows Avenue, I met his family—wife, Anna, and children, Jaizen and Jairen—who were accommodating. I finally saw Jason's humble recording studio in the basement. Jason walked me through how he recorded songs and let me listen to some of his recordings, which sounded really professional. He also let me sample his electric drums. It's been years since the last time I played the drums, so the experience was awesome. Aside from being a musician as a hobby, Jason also designs Web sites. In fact, he is the designer of the official Web site of the Philippine Alternative band Siakol. He doesn't have a permanent band, but he and some of his friends perform occasionally. The last time they had a gig was during the Winnipeg tour of the Philippine band Asin, for which Jason's band Four Sight served as the front act. Nonetheless, Jason mentioned that music has now become only a passion for him, since that he already has a family and job to prioritize. I told him that we share a similar affection for music; I, too, no longer aspire for gigs or anything; all I really wanted is again to be able to make and record music. In this Jason shared my enthusiasm. He offered me his help. Before I finally went home, Jason and I decided that we would collaborate and set to record some of Half Life Half Death's previously unrecorded materials.

Because of the prospect of being able to produce a Half Life Half Death album of new materials, my musical ideas seem to be overflowing these days. And since that I have nothing major to do until April when I hopefully get to receive my immigrant visa, this musical activity is certainly a positive and productive outlet.

For our first project, I decided that we begin working on "Buhay-Karnabal," a song I composed in 1999, intended for Half Life Half Death's second album which was never realized. To give the song a new feel and style, I changed the title to "Parang karnabal—ganyan ang buhay ng tao."

On Friday, November 25, Jason, his drummer and keyboardist friend Rod, and I are set to begin arranging "Parang karnabal—ganyan ang buhay ng tao" and a new song I composed a few days ago with the help of my Tita Lucy's piano. I titled this new song "Paruparong ligaw, saan ba ang punta mo?" Like I did with Half Life Half Death's debut album, Pymyth Prahn, I am trying to follow a certain pattern and concept for this new musical project of mine—from the titling and lyricism to the instrumentation and album design.

Wish us luck that all these plans will come to fruition. May something brilliant come out of this new musical experience. This early I am dedicating this endeavor to my Everdearest and my ever-loving family in the Philippines as well as to all my friends and acquaintances who continue to appreciate my eLf ideas.

Small Opportunities Are the Beginning of

November 10, 2005

I finally dropped by at the office of Mr. Alan Canlas, the publisher of Ang Peryodiko whom I met recently at a gathering at Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba on Keewatin Avenue. Mr. Canlas received me warmly. We had a casual conversation. He walked me through their publishing process. I said that, since I am yet to become eligible to work when I finally receive my permanent-resident visa hopefully in April of next year, I was willing to volunteer even only as a proofreader or a contributing editor; just to share my skills and have something worthwhile to do. Unfortunately, the editorial staff of the newspaper is based in California, USA, and they coordinate through the e-mail. However, he said that what he could offer me instead was a job as a correspondent. He would pay me per project accomplished. All I needed to do was, appear at an invitational gathering or event that he would assign to me, take some pictures, and write a one-page article about the event's highlights. That's easy! But...

It dawned on me that, of course, the job would require that I have my own transportation. I couldn't depend on my relatives to drop me off and pick me up all the time. More so, I rarely have the chance to go out on my own, for no one can look after Grandfather especially during the weekdays.

Nevertheless, I didn't lose heart. I tried to look at the positive side of meeting Mr. Canlas. Anyway, not that I'm sourgraping, but all I was really expecting was something more worthwhile to do at home, for the meantime that I'm not yet eligible to hold a legitimate work. And the first positive result of that meeting was, I met someone who's in the publishing business. A single major contact is a link to a myriad minor ones. Besides, being in a place so far away from the familiar, I consider every new avenue worth exploring. Opportunities abound, but only to the brave and bold.

"Small opportunities are the beginning of great enterprises."Demosthenes

Furthermore, I have now one highly regarded person for my resume's list of references: Mr. Alan Canlas – Publisher/President of Ang Peryodiko. All I needed to do is maintain my acquaintanceship with him.

Right there and then, I told Mr. Canlas that I could not accept his offer because of my situation. He understood it, telling me that in any case I was welcome to visit the office anytime.

Someone who Shares the Same
Another positive thing that popped up unexpectedly was, one of Mr. Canlas's employees said that I looked familiar to him, that he thought he already saw me somewhen somewhere he couldn't remember. The guy was long-haired, so I surmised that he knew me because of my band. I was right, for when I mentioned my having been in a band, he broke into a sweet relief, saying, "There, yeah! I remember and your band Half Life Half Death. I used to hear your songs on LA 105 and watch you perform on TV."

The guy, Lito, arrived here in Canada only last March, and he is into the Philippine Alternative Music scene. I no longer wondered why he knew my band. In fact, he had a copy of the Christmas compilation album Christmas on the Rocks (1994, Viva Records), in which my band had contributed one song, our cover version of the song "Sa Paskong Darating" by S.Y. Ramos. We had a nice conversation. Being able to talk with someone who shares the same passion in something always gives one a warm feeling of belongingness.

Before I left, Lito suggested that I check out the Web site, where I could meet fellow Filipino music enthusiasts living in Winnipeg where we are. After several days, I did check out the Web site and wrote my first post. I was amazed of the unexpected result of that posting for, after a while, I began to receive personal messages from people I don't know.

Here are some of the personal messages I received. Until now I'm altogether flattered and humbled as I continue to realize how my band Half Life Half Death had really made a mark in the Philippine Alternative Music history and impact on the lives of some people, considering that we didn't actually become commercially popular and successful. To this day I'm still grateful for all the memories and achievements my band had made for us and for allowing us to leave the scene with a musical legacy worth treasuring for the rest of our lives.

from wilz of Iowa, USA:
'mustah 'tol?I read your blog. So you were once in the band Half Life Half Death, one of my favorite Filipino groups. You probably hear that all the time, but seriously, I am still a fan! Nothing comes close to your album production...the guitar riffs to the solos; what more can I say? I use to do air guitar on "Cariñosa," sing along to "Radio Madness" and "If All Sleep Tonight." If you browse through the old posts you will find that I posted your one (and only album you thought we'd never hear) which I ripped from a cassette! The first time I heard "Kapit-Tukô" I got hooked at once, then I heard your Sampaguita cover, "Nosi Ba Lasi?" I told my then girlfriend (now my lovely wife) to get for me a copy of the Half Life Half Death album. She then obliged and sent me the original cassette (maybe that's why I married her). I have relatives there in Winnipeg; and when I do plan to visit them, I sure would like to meet you and thank you for your music. Keep in touch! Thanks, man, for taking the time.

from Holocaust:
good pm, idol, 'musta na? I am one of your fans since the late '80's. Sabi ko nga noon, sana ay may sumunod pa kayo na album, kasi ang galing-galing ninyo; walang halong biro...meron ba kayong YM? para at least makapag-usap tayo. Sa totoo lang, sa di pagmamayabang, meron po akong album n'yo na Pymyth Prahn, original po yun. Hanggang sa ngayon ay dala ko yung album ninyo, kahit na nasa ibang bansa na ako, kasi ang gusto ko, kahit wala ako sa ating sariling bansa, eh marinig ko ang inyong musika, ang sarap-sarap ulitin. Sana matupad sa darating na 2007 ang pag-release ninyo sa susunod na album. Kung may request po kayo, ia-upload ko ang inyong album tapos ibibigay ko sa inyo ang link. God bless.

from pinoyhxc of Pangasinan, Luzon, Philippines:
hi po, kuya. Di ko po alam na nag-release pala kayo ng CD aside from Pymyth Prahn LP. Ask ko lang po kung paano me makakakuha ng copy nun. From Pangasinan po ako, Luzon. Medyo malabo na po kasi yung copy ko ng album n'yo. Highschool pa kasi yun eh. Hehe. Sobrang saya na po pag makakuha ako ng copy nung bago nyo. Reminiscing highschool days. Good day!

from flangerzone of Metro Manila, Philippines:
Hi, 'tol. 'musta ka? If your from Half Life Half Death, my favorite local new wave band. Do you still remember these words? "not the next Eraserheads..." I got it from The Rolling Paper, yung fanzine ni BJ Cabaluna and the rest of the gang of idiots ng Rock and Rhythm. hehehe. I'm from Manila, and I got a chance to listen to all your songs in your debut album. Is there any chance na bumalik ka rito sa Pilipinas?

from Jason of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada:
Welcome dito sa saka sa Winnipeg. Taga-saan ka sa Winnipeg? Ok yung songs n'yo, lalo na yung pagka-arrange n'yo sa kanta ni Sharon Cuneta. Jam tayo minsan, marami akong kilalang underground Filipino bands rito, 'pakilala kita. Thanks.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Vol. 5: How Can I Assume to Sing about the Moon?

I'm delighted with the messages that I've been receiving concerning this compilation series. My gratitude to all the music enthusiasts who regularly visit my blog site to partake of my favorite music. Like you, I'm excited to know what songs will comprise the next volume: Even I am surprised by my spontaneity once in a while.

I suddenly realized that selecting which pairs of songs to include in every volume is difficult, chiefly because I have loads of favorites to choose from; add to that, the challenge in thinking of a single theme that will unify the songs.

Lastly, an article is not an eLf idea if it does not tell a story or contain a researched information. So, yes, I do my homework diligently; ' always been like this since grade school. I regard each of my blog articles in the same manner that I regarded my school projects and the articles that I edited and wrote during my stint as an editor of scholastic textbooks and magazines. And to all these I do owe my having developed the knack for coming up with reliable information and for upholding grammar and substance without sacrificing style and occasional unorthodoxy.

And, of course, above all, I sprinkle my writings with my own secret eLven ingredients—pixiedust, as one might say; but, really, it's nothing but my personal style—honed through all the years spent on writing and reading—years measured in ponderous days and sleepless nights, elegia and nostalgia, boredom and euphoria, and moments of making love with music, prose, and poetry in a seeming ménage à trois.

Volume 5: How Can I Assume to Sing about the Moon?

Most the artists comprising the current volume of a dozen and a haLf favorites originated in either the mid-'80s or the early '90s. As always, the "New Wave" melodies of such songs weaved into intricate, seemingly symphonic masterpieces are what caught my eLven ears. I prefer instrumentally complicated music—the reason Classical music is my third favorite genre. I admire artists who can come up with a single piece of song made of a mélange of melodious harmonies.

Belle & SebastianDear Catastrophe Waitress
Belle & SebastianI'm a Cuckoo
EggstoneApril and May
EggstoneWrong Heaven
Fine ChinaLabor Saving Device
Fine ChinaWe Rock Harder than You Ever Know
FossilJosephine Baker
Gin BlossomsFound Out about You
Gin BlossomsHey Jealousy
MonacoWhat Do You Want from Me?
Poi Dog PonderingLiving with the Dreaming Body
Poi Dog PonderingLove Vigilantes
PulpThe Trees
Soup DragonsDivine Thing
Soup DragonsPleasure

I've been familiar with the Scottish band Belle & Sebastian as early as the late '90s, but only in 2003 when I heard their sixth album, Dear Catastrophe Waitress (2003), that their music caught my interest. The Belle & Sebastian songs I chose for this compilation are the catchiest and most infectious. First listen and you'll immediately find yourself humming along the guitar melodies and singing along the lyrics. Many music journalists compare this Scottish band with, once again, The Smiths. Obviously this is because of the jangly guitar elements of Belle & Sebastian music.

Eggstone was one of those obscure bands whose names I used to see in compilation albums. Only in 2003 did I first hear this Swedish band, courtesy of my friend Rudolf Paz (vocalist of Dead Pop Stars), who in the same year gave me a CD-R of MP3s which included Eggstone songs. I remember playing "Wrong Heaven" almost every day in my last months in the Philippines, catching the fancy of my friend and former officemate Jayge Salvan, who will certainly remember me for this song. "Wrong Heaven" comes from the debut album, In San Diego (1992), while "April and May" from the fourth, Spanish Slalom (1998). The vibraphone-sounding keyboard melodies of both songs will surely delight you.

Last year, my friend Timmy Tan from Ontario, Canada, sent me a CD-R of MP3s of New Wave–influenced Christian Rock bands; Fine China is one of those that I haven't heard of before. Fine China is a relatively new band from Arizona, USA, but they could pass as a classic English New Wave band in the league of Modern English, Pet Shop Boys, and Yazoo. In fact, "We Rock Harder than You Ever Know" sounds uncannily like that one song from Modern English which I'm sure you also love and have already listened to a thousand times. Both songs come from Fine China's first full-length album, When the World Sings (2000). Check out Fine China on Myspace and get to listen to three songs off their third and latest album, The Jaws of Life (2005).

When I heard the song "Moon" on NU 107 back in the mid-'90s, when Grunge music was at reign, I felt relieved. I remember thinking, there was still hope for the resurgence of New Wave music after all. And who's victorious now? What bands are being cited by contemporary Alternative Rock bands like Franz Ferdinand, Interpol, and The Killers as their major influences? New Wave music will always be the genre of Alternative Rock that showcases brilliant melodies and lush soundscape. As soon as I learned that "Moon" was by a band named Fossil, I immediately looked for a copy of the album. Luckily, Jett Pangan of The Dawn lent me his cassette-tape copy of it. I almost did not return the album. Hahaha! I remember Jett's reminding me about it when a month passed and the tape was still with me. Anyway, Fossil was an American band from New Jersey which, unfortunately, got to release only one self-titled album. This is the reason finding information about them is difficult. Lastly, because of their song "Josephine Baker," I took the time to research who that lady was: Josephine Baker was Freda Josephine McDonald, an African-American dancer, actress, and singer who had a successful career in France in the '30s.

Gin Blossoms is one of my music saviors during the '90s. Because of bands like them, I didn't succumb to the rugged music of Grunge. But don't get me wrong, I've also come to appreciate the music of the likes of Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, and Pearl Jam; it's just that I prefer the kind of Alternative Rock which showcases more of the jangly guitar and keyboard melodies than of the angst and crunch and guitar distortions. New Miserable Experience (1992), the album that contains "Hey Jealousy" and "Found Out about You," is truly a mine of brilliant songs. Gin Blossoms hail from Arizona, USA. According to references, they are working on a new album.

Monaco was a band formed in 1997 by Peter Hook, the bassist of the New Wave pioneers New Order. Thus, the catchy and melodic bass hooks and lovely saccharine vocals! Monaco released two highly acclaimed albums, Music for Pleasure (1997), where the songs I included here come from, and Monaco (2000). Need I say more?

Poi Dog Pondering is an American band formed in the mid-'80s that was mostly active in the '90s. The title of the album, Wishing like a Mountain and Thinking like the Sea (1990), which includes "Living with the Dreaming Body," was basically what brewed my interest in them. Fortunately, their music was as quirky and as interesting as their album and song titles. Also, I usually like bands that employ violins. Poi Dog Pondering's cover of New Order's "Love Vigilantes" is a brilliant rendition. I especially like the 'whistling' part of the song.

Because of their fashion sense, elegant music, and thought-provoking lyrics, Pulp became one of the leading instigators and best representatives of the '90s Britpop music. "Babies" and "The Trees" are my most favorite among their prolific discography. My former band used to cover "Babies" in our mid-'90s gigs, earning me Eraserheads' Ely Buendia's admiration, saying that I looked like and could assume the stage antics of Jarvis Cocker. Whereas "Babies" comes from the fourth album, His n' Hers (1994), "The Trees" is from Pulp's final album, We Love Life (2001). By the way, vocalist Jarvis Cocker, aside from contributing solo works to the soundtrack of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), has a cameo role in the movie: Cocker appears as the lead singer of the fictitious band the Weird Sisters, which also features Jonny Greenwood and Phil Selway of Radiohead.

Although they were associated with '80s Alternative Rock, the Scottish band Soup Dragons was able to achieve prominence alongside the reigning Alternative bands of the '90s. Good! "Divine Thing" and "Pleasure" are as classic sounding like their earlier songs as they are '90s updated.

Download the compilation here.


Re-uploaded! You may now download what you missed.

Vol. 1: Raise Your Glass and Cry until You're Done
Vol. 2: When Consciousness
Begins to Falter
Vol. 3: Our Life
Would Be the Death of You
Vol. 4: Don't
Tell Them that You're a Fan


Disclaimer: Consider this compilation as your taste test of the music of some of my favorite bands. If you really liked what you heard, support these artists and the genre by purchasing original copies of their albums.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Happy Birthday, Mom!

.. . Photo taken on August 2, 2003, during my déspedida lunch for my family, at W Grill at Ayala Center in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines

November 20, 2005

Today, my mom turns 58. Happy Birthday, Mom. Thank you very much for all the love and support that you continue to shower on us, your children. I miss you very much. You're one of the reasons I grew up to be a spiritual and responsible person, despite my unorthodoxy in many things.

I'm posting again the following poem which I wrote for you last January:

A Poet to His Mother

I may not have been too vocal in the past
Of my respect and love—for they are so vast
An old ballad sings: "Some good things never last"
But in me, O Mother, may you put your trust

My childhood memories with you and Father
Are in my heart well-kept—be lost they'll never
Our countless strolls in Luneta and Ongpin
Were magical as the lamp of Aladdin

Your well-cried tears and heartily shed laughter
Till my twilight I will always remember

To be happy for and love one another
You taught us how—my lovely sisters and me
Forgiveness in our hearts, you said, should be free
The reason we persevere to be better

The pains and sacrifices that you've been through
I shared them all with you; you know it is true
Every ups-and-downs, you're always there beside
Me—believing, comforting, reassuring

Like a hen, you reared us single-handedly
Like chicks, we followed you affectionately

I might have pecked and scratched you from time to time
Whatever pain I'd caused you...pardon my rhyme
For you, I will always be...hoping...dreaming

I may not have been too vocal in the past
Despite, you knew my love and respect are vast
A few years more must pass—oh Time, such a tease!
Yet from yearning to go home I'll never cease

Again, Happy Birthday, Mom; I love you very much. And, oh, by the way, Mom, I'm also letting you know that I've already forgiven you and dad for this picture of ours taken when I was about two years old. In retrospect, anyway, this was perhaps one of the reasons I'm in touch with my feminine side. Ha-ha-ha!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Despite the Coldness Winter Is

Glowing like a Light Fairy—immaculate, pure and simple

November 16, 2005
Staring out the window this morning, I couldn't help but be transformed into a child in awe of something unfathomably magnificent. I realized that wonderful should not necessarily be colorful. Pink and purple are my all-time favorite colors. Yellow and orange are brightness. Gray and black are sadness. Blue and red resonate radiance. Silver and gold, brilliance. But white! White is immaculate, pure and simple.

After lunch and a quick bath, Grandfather and I checked out the neighborhood that had seemingly become a Winter wonderland. As always, I didn't want to miss capturing with my digital camera such a splendid spectacle.

Some of our neighbors were busy shoveling the snow off their yards. Smiles are warm despite the Winter's chill.

Our neighbor Charlie, whose snow blower my digital camera didn't fail to catch
Isn't this lovely—snow fountain spraying pixiedust?

Snow tractors, always ready to scoop the snow off the streets

Partaking of the Winter chore—shoveling snow off the backyard

Grandfather went inside after some ten minutes, feeling cold despite four layers of clothing.

Feeling like a Snowtrooper on Hoth; fortunately, no wampa was in sight

Turning into a snow dwarf
Aren't these Nature's works of art?
And these, too?
Icicle works! Or miniature stalactites?
Who needs the refrigerator when it's Winter?
Tito Ren, shoveling snow off the garage the previous night
Goodbye, Mr. Lawnmower eLf; hello, Fra Snowshoveler
What's with shovels anyway?
The glow in this picture, again, was natural; 'twas just the camera's flash, reflecting on my sweater and bonnet.
Despite the coldness and all the chores the season demands, Winter after all is lovely and immaculate.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Thirty-sixth of a Dozen Verses

(September 2005)

Photo taken on October 22, 2005, near St. Joseph's Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where we regularly attend mass: I'm virtually never without a smile and something to read

Another series of waluwaluwaló – short Filipino poems of three eight-syllable lines (8-8-8) with the rhyme pattern a, b, a.

Another dozen verses I wrote in the last days of Summer...

Sobra ang síkat ng araw—
Di ko tuloy mapagmasdan,
Talagang nakasisilaw.

Hindi ka p’wedeng mabuhay
Tulad ng habang-panahon.
Lahat tayo’y mamamatay.

Katulad rin ng trapiko,
Ang buhay ng bawat tao’y

Unti-unting humihimlay
Ang araw sa may kanluran.
Ganyan din ang ating buhay.

At ang araw ay lumubog
Sa dulo ng walang-hanggan;
Ngunit nasa’n ang b’wang bilóg?

Ako ay kinakabahan
T’wing si Lolo’y humihingal—
Baka kasi matuluyan.

Hayun! Bilis! Iyong masdan—
Sangkawan ng mga ibon,
Papunta sa kalawakan.

Sige na, iyong ibulong
Habang pikit mga mata:
“Tayo’y laging magkukulong.”

Mistulang patak ng tubig
Sa tuyot na kabukiran—
Halaga ng ’yong pag-ibig.

Naman! Gabi-gabi na lang,
Si Lolo’y tahul nang tahol,
Kaya ako’y nabubuang!

“Konting tiis na lang, aLfie,
At makalalaya ka rin.”
’la na ba kayong masabi!

Leche! Kayo kaya rito
Nang matikman n’yo ang hirap.
Hay, sawang-sawa na ako.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Amidst the Coldness of Winter the Warmth Of

Pictures taken last night...

My first Winter experience was in 2003, in British Columbia, Canada. How was it? It was quite tolerable. All I needed was the right attire that could keep me warm and comfortable. Most significantly, Winter snow in British Columbia usually lasts for only three weeks to a month. Here in the province of Manitoba, however, Winter is such a dreaded season. The temperature can drop as low as negative 45 degrees Celsius, and the snow lingers for as long as five months. Can you imagine that? Brrr! And Grrr! It's like spending an exile on Hoth. I won't be surprised if I see a stray tauntaun or wampa one of these days.

November 14, 2005

Winter proper has arrived, as immaculate-white pellets of snow began to fall and blow. And since cousin Ivan and Tito Ren were outside in the backyard, changing the tires of Ivan's car, Tita Lucy prodded me to check out the snow so I could compare it with the snow in B.C. After two Winter season in Canada, the yet-another first fall of snow never failed to awe the child in me.

After wearing my gloves and bonnet and Grandfather's Winter jacket (I am yet to buy one), I went outside with the digital camera. Brrr! How cold it was! I was chilling all over as I took some shots, which turned out vague. It was nighttime; the darkness as well as the haziness caused by the blowing snow breeze rendered poor results. Better luck tomorrow.
Winter in B.C. is, indeed, nothing compared to that in Manitoba. I was already wearing gloves, yet I could still feel the coldness seeping into my flesh and bones. The snow was blowing hard, the breeze lashing my face.

"Wala pa 'yan," quipped Tito Ren. "Antayin mo'ng isang linggo. O kaya e tingnan mo bukas kung gaano na 'yan agad kakapal. Magsisimula na tayong mag-pala ng snow."

Anyway, here are some playful shots I took. Tomorrow I'd be going outside again to take more shots. I'm already expecting a Winter Wonderland.

One light step is a deep imprint on the snow

Buckets of snow, anyone?

Cool eLf palmprints, in both the figurative and the literal sense

Writing my nephews' and niece's names on the snow, wishing they were all here with me to frolic around and, better yet, build some snow castles and fortresses

Amidst the coldness of Winter the warmth of your love in my heart glows unfailingly

"No amount of coldness and indifference can banish the warmth and compassion of my eLven heart."Visionata Grandiosa

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Vol. 4: Don't Tell Them that You're a Fan


Here's volume four of a dozen & a haLf favorites. Except The Lucksmiths and The Orchids, all the bands in this volume are relatively new, but the music of all of them obviously resonate the trademark sound of '80s New Wave.

Most of the songs I selected for this volume remind me much of The Smiths, one of my favorite classic Alternative Rock bands; although, this is unsurprising, for most of the bands below list The Smiths as a major influence.

Volume 4: Don't Tell Them that You're a Fan

Columbus – Christian Girls
Columbus – Summer Girl
Dears, the – Corduroy Boy
Dears, the – Lost in the Plot
Hidden Cameras, the – Ban Marriage
Hidden Cameras, the – Doot Doot Ploot
Killers, the – Mr. Brightside
Killers, the – Smile like You Mean It
Lucksmiths, the – Midweek Midmorning
Lucksmiths, the – There Is a Boy who Never Goes Out
Nightmare of You – Dear Scene, I Wish I Was Deaf
Nightmare of You – The Days Go By Oh So Slow
Orchids, the – Bemused, Confused & Bedraggled
Orchids, the – I've Got a Habit
Tears, the – Lovers
Tears, the – Refugees
Voxtrot – Raised by Wolves
Voxtrot – The Start of Something

Columbus is a band formed in 2002 in Alberta, Canada. I just got my copy of their debut EP, Christian Girls, released only last August, from my friend Andrew Alexis Rena, a record collector and a fellow music enthusiast who lives in Ontario, Canada. Currently working on their first full-length album, Columbus cite Blur as one of their major influences.

The Dears was formed in 1995 in Quebec, Canada, but only in 2000 was it able to release its debut album, End of a Hollywood Bedtime Story. Only last year did I learn of this band, courtesy of Timmy Tan, a record-collector friend of mine who lives in Ontario, Canada.

The Hidden Cameras is another Canadian band, formed in 2000. Quite prolific, the band has already released five full-length albums, the latest of which is The arms of his 'ill' (2004). According to references, The Hidden Cameras is well known for the theatrical quality of its gigs.

The Killers is that band from Nevada, USA, formed in 2002 and yet to record their followup to their debut album, Hot Fuss (2004), but already regarded as one of the important Alternative Rock bands to emerge last year. Vocalist Brandon Flowers cites Oasis, The Cure, New Order, and The Smiths as his band's major influences.

The Lucksmiths, an Australian band formed in 1993 which, despite having nine full-length albums and four EPs on its sleeves, remains obscure to this day. I'm lucky for having been introduced to the band's music, courtesy of my friend Jessel Baltazar, a record collector who lives in Ontario, Canada. The Lucksmiths cite Aztec Camera, Orange Juice, and The Smiths as some of their influences. The title of the song "There Is a Boy who Never Goes Out" is obviously derived from The Smiths' "There Is a Light that Never Goes Out." Like those of their chief icon, The Lucksmiths' songs usually have long yet catchy and thought-provoking titles.

Nightmare of You is another relatively new band that I would regard as a "love at first listen." Formed in 2003 in New York, USA, Nightmare of You released its eponymous debut only a few months ago, but it's already creating a lot of buzz in the Alternative Music scene. Actually, I learned of this band only last month while I was profile hopping on the Myspace Web site. Just a few seconds into the first song featured on the site and I was already hooked on them. After listening to Nightmare of You, you may bury me alive in your backyard if you say that their music has no The Smiths flavor in it—from the titles and lyricism to the instrumentation. Check out Nightmare of You on Myspace and get to listen to two more songs and watch a music video.

The Orchids, surprisingly, was/is an '80s-formed band which I got to know and hear only a few weeks ago (shame on me). But this is unsurprising, after all, because The Orchids never got big like their fellow Scot-bands Aztec Camera and Orange Juice. If not for the music blog sites that have been sprouting like mushrooms on the Internet today, this Scottish gem would have remained in oblivion. The Orchids had its beginnings in 1987 and got to release three albums before finally disbanding in 1995. "I've Got a Habit" comes off the debut album, Lyceum (1989), while "Bemused, Confused & Bedraggled" is from the second, Unholy Soul (1991). These and the third and final album, Striving for the Lazy Perfection (1994) have been released recently, in time for their reformation in 2004. I hope that they will release new materials. May they finally attain the success that they long deserve. (Special thanks go to fellow blogger Steve.)

The Tears is the new band of Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler, the magical meisters behind the music of the '90s Britpop band Suede. The Tears is very new, having formed only in 2004 and releasing its debut album, Here Come The Tears, this year. I had difficulty in choosing the best two among the best songs in the album.

Voxtrot is the newest band in this volume; in fact, so new that they are yet to release their first full-length album. The songs I included in this compilation come off their just released debut EP, Raised by Wolves. Voxtrot hails from Texas, USA. I've noticed that a lot of The Smiths juniors have been emerging these days. For me, that's a good omen. Sprout some more! Special thanks again to Andrew Alexis Rena for sending me a copy of the EP.


You may download the compilation here.


Disclaimer: My intention is to give you a taste test of some of my favorite bands. If you happened to like their music, support them by purchasing original copies of their albums.


Wikipedia—one of, if not the most reliable reference on the Internet today.

Re-uploaded Volume 1

Because of a special request, I re-uploaded Volume 1: Raise Your Glass and Cry until You're Done. In case you missed it, just scroll down to the particular entry and begin downloading.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

"The Strange Becomes Ordinary...

November 5, 2005, Saturday

Around 10 a.m., Tito Ren and Tita Lucy with Grandfather and I attended a small gathering at PCCM (Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba, on Keewatin Avenue), held to welcome new Filipino immigrants. Among the speakers was Mrs. Rosalinda Natividad-Cantiveros, the editor in chief of The Filipino Journal, a popular Philippine newspaper here in Manitoba. Also present during the occasion was Mr. Alan Canlas, the publisher of another Philippine newspaper, Peryodiko. It's been quite a while since Tita Lucy had encouraged me to inquire about contributing articles to these publications. I was certain that the occasion was the opportunity I was waiting for.

I didn't waste any more time; before he could even slip out of my sight, I approached Mr. Canlas, who was already leaving.

eLf: "Good afternoon, Sir. Kayo pala ang publisher ng Peryodiko. Itatanong ko lang sana kung p'wedeng mag-volunteer kahit as a proofreader for the newspaper. I used to be an editor and writer of scholastic textbooks and magazines when I was still in the Philippines, just a little more than two years ago. Right now, caregiver ako ng lolo ko; but I keep on writing. Since sa April pa darating ang immigration papers ko, hindi pa ako p'wedeng magtrabaho other than my current job; but I can offer my services para naman magamit ko for something very worthwhile ang skills and extra time ko."

Mr. Canlas: "Naku, tamang-tama, kelangan namin ng proofreaders. Teka, writer at editor ka kamo? Ba't hindi ka na lang magsulat, mas mabuti pa?"

eLf: "I can give you a copy of my résumé and samples of my works."

Mr. Canlas, handing me a business card: "Let's discuss about this at my office. D'yan lang ang opisina ko sa tapat. Drop by anytime."

eLf: "Thank you very much, Mr. Canlas. I'll drop by your office anytime this week with my sample works."

Mr. Canlas: "No problem. See you then."

After the snack time, the hostess finally introduced Mrs. Cantiveros, who rendered her speech in Filipino. I heard a few remarks from some people near me concerning the speaker's use of "deep" Tagalog/Filipino words. "Ang lalim magsalita ah, parang makata...," remarked one of them.

Strangely, or should I say unsurprisingly, instead of feeling the same reaction, I felt a kindred spirit in her. Of course, I am a writer, too! I never react that way every time I hear people speaking uncommon Tagalog or Filipino, or even English, words, for I do the same from time to time.

I think, only those who are not interested in the languages or who do not own a literary pen feel strange when hearing poetic, obscure, or archaic words.

If you're a poet or a writer yourself, such utterances sink into your system naturally. You learn to regard "strange" words as common, the way you would see nothing extraordinary in the gentle sound of the splash of the waves onto the shore or the cackle of a flight of seagulls hovering above during migratory season—common, in the sense that these wondrous things become a natural part of your everyday preoccupation. To you, they become as ordinary as they can ever be—like the air that you breathe, the pillow that you hug every night, or the leafs that sway or fall before your probing eyes.

"To the ponderous, the strange becomes ordinary and the ordinary becomes brilliant."

What I especially remembered from the speech of Mrs. Cantiveros was: "Sa mga mangangailangan ng trabaho, at sa tingin n'yo ay may angkop kayong kakayanan, wag kayong mag-atubiling tawagan ako. May mga kakilala akong maaaring makatulong sa inyo sa larangang iyan." And she gave her contact number, which I jotted down in my little journal.

After her speech, Mrs. Cantiveros went around to distribute copies of the current issue of The Filipino Journal. I didn't wait for her to reach my area; I stood up and approached her, got a copy, and then introduced myself the way I did a while ago with Mr. Canlas.

Back home, I excitedly made printouts of my résumé and samples of my literary works. On Thursday, Tito Ren would be accompanying me to the publishers' offices. Of course, I'm expecting something fruitful; but if I fail to get an assignment, better luck next time. At least, I grabbed the opportunity and tried my luck.

...and the ordinary becomes brilliant."

A Challenge to Our Intelligence and Ability to Discern

Write whatever you want. I read them all—whether these are surveys, recipes, birthday missives, ads, news, eulogies, whatnots, and other "out-of-this-world" stuff. I'm a sucker for knowledge. I read, read, and read, analyze, strain, and then keep the stuff I like and put those I dislike somewhere near so I may have them handy in case I'll need them. You will never know.

There was a time when all the writings of Charles Darwin were considered preposterous, atheistic and stupid. Many people looked at him condescendingly, branding him evil. Look at Darwin's writings now. They have long been regarded as one of the greatest foundations of humanity.

What about Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung? Many people discredit them, but have the same people actually read their works? Before discrediting something or someone, we must first be sure that we are in a stout position to criticize. Let's read and understand first the work in question or know the author's motivation, or at least be considerably familiar with the person and his work.

Like for instance, don't say you abhor J. K. Rowling for her having written books about witchcraft when in fact you haven't read any Harry Potter book, which teaches so many lessons in growing up and in braving Life itself. And what's wrong with witchcraft, anyway? Isn't this just a part of myth and literature?

"Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood."—Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance," Self-Reliance and Other Essays

Believe me, all humans have the tendency to share what they think and feel, basically because we are naturally gregarious. No person should, indeed, remain an island; for if she chooses to, she loses her sense of community and affinity with society and the world. And, "humankind cannot live without a world."

Take information overload as a challenge to our intelligence and ability to discern. Let us not get accustomed with and lie idly on our own laurels and righteousness. What we thought all along was right and good could, after all, be wrong and bad. To be continually updated is to be continuously undaunted. The battle of good versus evil will always be subjective. There'll always be gray areas in the spectrum of life.

Time has long proven that censorship and curtailing of ideas are not answers to sanitizing the world—because, to begin with, there are no asnwers, for no one can ever sanitize the world.

My deities! How many cultures does the world have; more so, races, peoples, individuals? We can never be united; we can never have one vision and one religion. There can never be only black and white, for even the rainbow has not the capacity to emit all the colors of the universe.

The key to the peace and unity that we are all aiming for is understanding and acceptance—of everyone's idiosyncrasies and eccentricities, and of the diverse bodies of knowledge that we can avail for free.

Broadening our horizons and trying different options which can suit each of our own needs are far better than remaining stagnant and complacent and depriving ourselves of many things worthy of our analysis and understanding.

"What Plato has thought, he may think; what a saint has felt, he may feel; what at any time has befallen any man, he can understand."—Ralph Waldo Emerson, "History," Self-Reliance and Other Essays