The Return of eLf ideas

ideas of an eLven being in Canada

Friday, March 31, 2006

Jessel's Music Collection

(Some More Adventures in Ontario, January 2006)

During my recent vacation in Ontario, last holiday season, I had the privilege to visit the music archives of my friend Jessel Baltazar. Spending hours in the basement of his house, in the city of Mississauga, was not enough to feast on his impressive collection of CDs and vinyl records as well as books and Star Wars action figures.

Jessel was kind enough to give me copies of as many CDs as he could share with me. And believe me, a month would be insufficient to copy everything!

He also lent me a number of books and a handful of DVDs to watch while I was there in the province.

You might be surprised but, yeah, that was our first time to see each other. I’ve known Jessel through a Yahoo group, from common friends who are also deep into Alternative Rock / New Wave music. As I have proven time and again, my love for New Wave music continues to give me good friends. His family—wife, Maan, and daughter, Jaina—was very warm and accommodating as well. They would even pick me up at my relatives' house most of the times I went to their house.

Jessel also took me to a one-man Star Wars show, which was something new to me. He would even have toured me around downtown Toronto but, as always, Time got in the way.


Here is a partial list of the albums Jessel gave me.

The ApartmentsA Life Full of Farewells
Aztec CameraLove
Benny ProfaneDumb Luck Charm + Trap Door Swing
The Big DishSwimmer
Bill Pritchard3 months, 3 weeks, and Two days
Bill PritchardJolie
The Bloody MarysSixteen Hail Marys
The BølshøiGiants and Friends
BradfordShouting Quietly
CamouflageVoice and Images
Cleopatra WongEgg
The ColourfieldVirgins and Philistines
The CoralThe Invisible Invasion
The Desert WolvesPontification

The DylansSpirit Finger
Friends AgainTrapped and Unwrapped
GeneTo See the Lights
The Hollow MenCresta
The Katydíds - The Katydíds
LowlifeFrom a Scream to a Whisper
The LucksmithsWarmer Corners
The Moss PolesOne Summer / Shorn and Other Tracks
The Ocean BlueThe Ocean Blue
The Ocean BlueBeneath the Rhythm and Sound
The Pacific OceanLess than the Needle, More than the Shotgun
RevengeOne True Passion
Senseless ThingsThe First of Too Many
The Spent PoetsThe Spent Poets
Steve Kilbey (of The Church) – Unearthed

Mere staring at Jessel’s collection is definitely enough to make the eyes of an Alternative-music lover turn shiny and round like a pair of vinyl records.

Here, snapshots of only a small percentage of the treasures a music archaeologist can find in Jessel's secret vault (most of the records below are in vinyl format):

Benny Profane / Peter Coyle (of The Lotus Eaters)


The Desert Wolves

Echo & the Bunnymen

The Lotus Eaters

The Pale Fountains


The Smiths

...and more The Smiths!

The Wallflowers (UK)

The Wild Swans

China Crisis / The Lotus Eaters / The Mighty Lemon Drops / The Room

Y Kant Tori Read / Graduate (the first band of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith of Tears for Fears) / Metro Trinity / Skyray (solo project of Paul Simpson of The Wild Swans) / The Moss Poles / Blue in Heaven / The Fun Boy Three

...and our very own, Filipino music: Lokal Brown, 10 of Another Kind, Identity Crisis, The Dawn, NU Rock The Album, Dear Cory, Ethnic Faces, Ocean Zoo, and my childhood favorite Lea Salonga.

Spending time in the basement of Jessel's house was a truly fulfilling experience, especially that, like him, I'm a true fan of Alternative Rock music. I'll certainly go there again the next time I have the chance to return to Ontario.

Despite my considerable knowledge in Alternative Rock and New Wave music, after having had the chance to peek at the vast music collection of my friend Jessel, I realize once again that exploring any genre of music is, indeed, a never-ending journey. Just like Life.

. As I end this article, Mike Scott is crooning on my media player:

I pictured a rainbow
You held it in your hand
I had flashes but
You saw the plan

I wandered out in the world for years
While you just stayed in your room
I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon....

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Is that something flickering the light at the end of this dark and narrow....

March 27, 2006

My auntie from British Columbia, who serves as the employer for my being Grandfather's live-in caregiver, called to relay a good news.

A new letter for me coming from Immigration has arrived, informing me that while they are still processing my immigration papers I could now apply for an open-work permit. This means that, after I had applied for it and had received the document, I could now work in any job I want. As of today, my eligibility to work here in Canada is limited to being a live-in caregiver. And now that Immigration has granted me the eligibility to apply for the open-work permit, I could somehow start thinking about my next steps. Usually, granting of an open-work permit takes about one month after Immigration's receipt of the application form.

The big question is, what happens now to Grandfather?

I'd no longer dwell again on this topic, for I already blogged about it a number of times.

What I'd rather like to answer is, What happens to me now?

Here're my short-term plans:

1. Next week, after procuring the necessary requirements and filling out the form, I'd submit my application via mail. The waiting process takes about a month.

2. While waiting for the new work permit, I'd begin scouting for possible jobs at nursing homes and other hospitals or institutes. In the meantime, I want to land a job as a nurse aid or healthcare aid. I'm considering a graveyard shift, so I could still look after Grandfather during the day.

3. I will be frugal with my salary, most of which I will save for the purpose of having money when I decide to move out of my relatives' house and stay in a rooming apartment.

4. Yes, as soon as I have been granted the permanent-resident status, I would no longer take care of Grandfather. I leave the responsibilities to his children here. They should "sit down" to plan and decide about their next steps for Grandfather. I don't want them to include me in that "round table" discussion.

5. I continue with my Psychology homestudy.

6. When I already have work, I'll inquire about how to upgrade my nursing skills, so I can elevate myself from being an aid.

7. My permanent-resident document might arrive not until June. This should give Grandfather's children more than enough time to plan.

8. For the meantime, I need to have some courage to be able to open up to my relatives the topic of "who's gonna take care of Papa now?" because they are not taking the initiative to talk about it.

9. I might just express my thoughts and feelings to Grandfather's eldest, who's in the United States, through e-mail. He should be the one to "gather" his siblings to discuss about what to do with their 91-year-old father when I'm finally out of the picture--their deteriorating father who now wets his pants and no longer knows what he ate or did an hour ago, who feels dizzy and complains of stomachache and chest pain virtually every day, who could no longer eat as much as a few spoonfuls, who can no longer take a bath on his own, who can no longer walk several meters without grasping for breath, who gets cranky most of the times and displaces to me his resentments and ire, who is always telling me that he feels his children no longer care for him and that he already wanted to die. And do you know WHO carries all the burden? E-mail me if you want to know the answer.

I've realized that, sometimes (or most of the times), talking about a serious matter with someone far away is far much easier than discussing it with those who are nearby. Besides, I feel that I can express myself (and present my arguments) much better through writing than through speaking.

10. I am now entertaining the idea of relocating, in the near future, to another province, perhaps Ontario or Alberta. Why not British Columbia, where Vancouver is? Oh well, the weather is fine, but, well, never mind.

I've long realized that Life is really unfair. Every time I receive a good news or a blessing, a trying circumstance inevitably accompanies it.

Life, fvck you!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

There's a story behind every song (Part Two)

."The Painter in his studio" by Hendrick Gerritsz Pot (circa 1585-1657), a Dutch Baroque-Era painter
Let me continue sharing the personal back story for the remainder of the songs which I uploaded on my Multiply site. If you are a big fan of Alternative Rock music, particularly of the New Wave subgenre, Check my profile and get to DOWNLOAD the first volume (19 songs).

11. Indochine - "A l'Àssaut" 
Another song I first heard around 1986, on the long-defunct FM radio station DWXB 102.7. Still unfamiliar and uninterested with foreign languages, I thought then that the name of the band was In the Sheen and the song title, "Alison," a girl's name). It was already in 1995 when a friend of mine told me that the artist was Indochine, a French band, and that the song was "A l'Àssaut." Yet I still couldn't find a copy of it. Thanks, as usual, to the magic of the Internet (and, of course, to my patience), I finally got to download this song. Listening to "A l'Àssaut" reminds me particularly of a day in 1987 when my family and some balikbayan relatives spent an overnight at Batu-Bato Spring Resort in Pansol, Laguna. I brought with me my boombox and a few cassette tapes containing songs I recorded from WXB 102. "A l'Àssaut" was one of those songs.

12. KUKL - "Dismembered"
Late last year, while researching about Icelandic Alternative-Rock music, I discovered that Björk Guðmundsdóttir, prior to forming The Sugarcubes, was a member of a few other Alternative Rock bands which included Spit & Snot, Exodus, Tappi Tikarras, and KUKL, which was actually the direct predecessor of The Sugarcubes. In Icelandic, KUKL means "sorcery." The band may be classified under the subgenre Goth, and they got to release two albums, The Eye (1984) and Holidays in Europe (1986). After racking the dark corners of the Internet I was able to download a few KUKL songs. "Dismembered" is the one which caught my fancy.

13. Modern English - "I Don't Know Anything"
If you say you are a New Wave music enthusiast, then don't tell me that you didn't know Modern English! For, this band is the reason "I Melt with You" exists--one of the most recognizable New Wave songs. Unfortunately, many music journalists had also tagged Modern English as among those "one-hit wonder" bands. I hate this denotation. It is misleading. Obviously subjective. For, in fact, Modern English was able to come up with six studio albums: Mesh and Lace (1981), After the Snow (1982), Ricochet Days (1984), Stop Start (1986), Pillow Lips (1990), and Everything Is Mad (1996). I saw a CD of this last album back in 1999, at the Greenbelt-Makati branch of a shop known as CD Warehouse, where I usually ordered imported and rare CDs. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough money. I tried looking for the songs on the Internet but still in vain. Luckily, a new acquaintance and fellow Alternative Rock / New Wave music enthusiast, Snoog, who currently works in the Middle East, sent me a copy of this last album by Modern English. "I Don't Know Anything" is my instant favorite.

14. Squeeze - "Bang Bang"
Around 1989, my friend and former bandmate Rain told me that he heard a new song on NU 107 that he thought was from The Dead Milkmen. He was unable to catch the title and the name of the artist; all he could remember was the catchy and quirky chorus: "I can't stop my heart from beating, beating...bang, bang, bang, bang...." It took me years searching for that song. It was already around 2000 when I learned that the band was Squeeze and the song "Bang, Bang." In the advent of music downloading through the Internet, I began searching for it but in vain. It was only in 2004 when I finally got it through Limewire. Believe me, I felt so elated upon listening to the complete song for the first time. Songs can really send us to positive nostalgia. Listen to this song before or right after The Dead Milkmen's "Beach Song."

15. Half Life Half Death - "Cariñosa" 
In 1994, when we (Half Life Half Death) were choosing which songs to include in our first solo album under Viva, Rain our lead guitarist requested to include a new song he had just made. As usual, even without hearing the song, I was eager about it. I've always trusted his musicality. Among the band, Rain and I were the ones whose ideas connected most. Rain told us that we could only listen to the song come recording time. He would just teach the parts to the other members. This piece, by the way, is instrumental. But I think, this masterpiece stands out on its own. It tells a story without even singing any words.

16. Lowlife - "Ramafied" 
Sometime in late 1999, I heard this song on DMZ during its weekend New Wave session. The deejay didn't disclose the song title nor the artist's name. All I could remember was that there was the word "ambidextrous" in the lyric and that the style was reminiscent of Joy Division. I asked my New Wave friends about it, but they too couldn't figure out what the song was. Recently in Ontario, when I was copying CDs at the basement of my friend Jessel, I saw that he has an album by Lowlife, a band I knew only for the songs "Hollow Gut" and "River of Woe." When I was listening to the entire Lowlife album, From a Scream to a Whisper (1989), I was surprised to learn that the mysterious "ambidextrous" song was actually "Ramafied" by Lowlife. Listening now to the song is very elating. It's like realizing an old wish.

17. Personz - "Dear Friends" 
1990, while Half Life Half Death was preparing for a gig (entitled Mission 2) at our alma matter, Sta. Clara Parish School, in Pasay City, Metro Manila, I got to meet the other bands of the school. One of them was Raynil Vibar, a classmate of Rain who with his family lived for a time in Japan. Raynil was the one who introduced to us some New Wave-sounding Japanese bands like Personz and Buck Tick. He let us listen to this Personz song, and I fell in love with it. The lyric was mostly in Japanese; but obviously, it sings about friendship.

18. Rumblefish - What You Do to Me
This was another song I heard first on DMZ back in the late '90s. Luckily I got the band's name and the song title. I listen now to this band along with The Desert Wolves, James, and The Bodines, all of which feature electrifying yet melodic guitar parts as well as a similarity in vocal styles. This song comes off the album Everything Electrical (1992).

19. Senseless Things - "Lip Radio"
This is another band which I came to know accidentally, while buying cassette tapes by "gut feel". I bought the album along with Sloan's Smeared (1993), The Posies' Frosting on the Beater (1993), Dillon Fence's Rosemary (1992), and Vanilla Trainwreck's Sounding to Try like You (1992), back in the early '90s. This song came off the album The First of Too Many (1991). Listening to this song reminds me much of my life back in the early '90s when I was inbetween jobs and residing at a big house in Project 6, Quezon City. I remember playing these albums in repeat mode, virtually every day. I would usually stay in the house during the day and then enjoy the night out with friends.

READ the first part of this story...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Exchange Books

March 9, 2006
Thursday Tito Ren accompanied me to the nearby Shoppers Drugmart on McPhillips to claim a package at the post center there. My friend, fellow New Wave music aficionado James Fong of San Jose, California, USA, finally sent the three books he bought for me: The Virgin Encyclopedia of 60s Music (2002), The Virgin Encyclopedia of 70s Music (2002), and The Virgin Encyclopedia of 80s Music (2003), by Colin Larkin.

As soon as I received the package, I mailed the book which I bought for James in return, The Great Rock Discography, edited by Martin C. Strong (2002, North Atlantic Books).

Sunday, March 19, 2006

"Marunong Ka Bang Mag-Filipino?"

March 18, 2006

Finally I got myself a copy of the March 1–15 issue of The Filipino Journal, which features another article of mine, "Marunong Ka Bang Mag-Filipino?", which I wrote especially for the newspaper. This is my second time to be published in the said newspaper.

Marunong Ka Bang Mag-Filipino?
by aLfie vera mella

Mangilan-ngilan pa lang ang kinariringgan ko ng tanong na ’yan. Kadalasan, ang bukambibig ng marami ay, “Marunong ka bang mag-Tagalog?”

Oo, maraming Filipino rito sa Canada na, hanggang ngayon, Tagalog pa rin—imbes na Filipino—ang term na gámit kahit na ang tinutukoy nila ay ang pambansang wika ng bansang kanilang pinanggalingan.

Sabagay, hindi rin naman sila masisisi dahil ang karamihan sa kanila ay sa Canada na ipinanganak o nagkaisip; o di kaya nama’y nandirito na nuong dekada otsenta pa, kaya mistula nang nakalimutan na ang pambansang wika ng Pilipinas ay Filipino—na ipinatupad sa ilalim ng 1987 Saligang Batas ng Pilipinas.

Ang wikang Filipino ay itinuturing na first language ng halos 30% ng 84 million na populasyon ng Pilipinas, at bilang second language naman ng humigit-kumulang na 80% ng populasyon na ’yan.

Mahalaga pa nga bang malaman ang pagkakaiba ng Tagalog sa Filipino?

Oo naman, napakahalaga n’yang malaman ng bawat edukadong Filipino. Karapatan at obligasyon ng isang tao—Filipino man o hindi—na makilala ang sariling kultura, kasama na r’yan ang mga pagbabagong pinagdaraanan nito. At hindi lang naman wika at kultura ng Pilipinas ang nagbabago; bawat bansa ay patuloy na dumaranas ng tinatawag na linguistic development at cultural evolution. Patuloy ang inog ng mundo, patuloy ang pagbabago, tuluy-tuloy ang buhay ng tao.

Bakit nga ba? Sa simpleng kadahilanang,
“Language—as well as culture—is a living thing.” At kung hindi mo aalamin ang mga pagbabagong nangyayari, malamáng mapag-iwanán ka. Magpapahulí ka ba? Hahayaan mo bang maturingang laós na ang iyong kaalamán?

In the World Map
One of the largest archipelagos in the world, the Philippines is an independent republic in the southeast rim of Asia. It is composed of over 7,100 islands that are bounded in the east and northeast by the Philippine Sea and on the south by the Celebes Sea. On its southwest border lies Borneo; and to its north, Taiwan. Geographers divide the Philippines into three major groups of islands: Luzon in the north, Visayas in the middle, and Mindanao in the south; then they further group these islands into 17 regions, among which Metro Manila, in Luzon, is the National Capital Region—the country’s center of commerce and most urbanized area.

In Linguistics
Although the culturally diverse Philippines is the largest English-speaking country in Asia, the native tongue in Metro Manila and in many other urbanized areas in Luzon is Filipino, making this the country’s national language.

Filipino is an augmented version of Tagalog, another Philippine language spoken by many people from the main islands of Luzon. Its spelling used to be Pilipino, but a Philippine Congress act in 1989 changed its name to Filipino. This move sought to adapt the name of the language to the new and modified 28-letter Philippine alphabet, which Department Order no. 81 mandated in 1987.

Filipino is a conglomeration of legitimate, homegrown Tagalog words, like pakikipagtalastasan (communication), panitikan (literature), paaralan (school), and úpuan (chair); words from other Philippine languages that have become widely used, like cabalén (from Kapampangan, meaning “compatriot”), guráng (from Bikol, meaning “old person”); and pilandók (from Maranaw, meaning “mouse deer”); and many foreign derivative words, like komunikasyon (from English, meaning “communication”), silya (from the Spanish silla, meaning “chair”), and túlong (from the Malay tolong, meaning “help”).

The current 28-letter Philippine alphabet consists of the original Filipino letters
A, B, K, D, E, G, H, I, L, M, N, NG, O, P, R, S, T, W, Y
plus the adopted English letters C, F, J, Q, V, X, Z
and the Spanish Ñ.

The Philippine alphabet originated from the Latin alphabet, which the Spaniards, through their own language, brought to the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period, which began in the 1500s and ended in the late 1800s.

Sa Madaling Salita
Ang Tagalog ay isang bahagi lang ng wikang Filipino, na sumasaklaw rin sa mga salitang hiram o hangò sa banyagang wika at sa ibang lokál na dayalekto. At hindi na rin naman nakapagtataka ’yan, dahil walang anumang lenggwahe na hindi nanghiram ng salita sa ibang wika.

No Language Is Pure
"English spelling is hybrid—the product of Anglo-Saxon, French and classical traditions, with many outside influences.”—Steven Roger Fischer, A History of Writing (2004, Reaktion Books Ltd.)

Oo, ultimo ang wikang Ingles ay hindi na rin puro. Gaya ng Filipino, ito ay mayaman din sa mga hiram-na-salita (loanwords)—haiku, yurta, skáld, avant-garde, cañonmga salitang bagama't nasa diksiyonaryong Ingles ay orihinál na galing sa Japanese, Russian, Icelandic, French, at Spanish. Kahit sa Filipino nga ay nanghiram na rin ang English: boondocks – “a remote and undeveloped area.”

Ngayong alam mo na ang pagkakaiba ng Filipino sa Tagalog, at alam mo na rin na wala naman palang pagkakaiba ang lahat ng lenggwahe sa larangan ng panghihiram, e siguro naman hindi ka na mahihiyang Mag-Filipino?

Below is my first article to be published in The Filipino Journal.

"Ano ang 'I Miss You' sa Filipino?"

February 2006

Last February was my first time to be published in Canada. The Filipino Journal, the leading and pioneering Filipino-community newspaper in Manitoba, Canada, published my article "I Miss You" in its February 16–28 issue. The article occupied almost a page of the newspaper, and it included a short biography and a photograph of me.

"Ano ang 'I Miss You' sa Filipino?"
by aLfie vera mella

Valentine's na naman, siguradong madalas na namang maririnig at mabibigkas ang mga katagang "I love you," "Mahal kita," "I miss you..."

Teka, alam mo ba ang katumbas ng "I miss you" sa wikang Filipino?

Marami na ang nagtanong sa akin n'yan. At bago pa man ako makasagot at makapagpaliwanag, may badya-ng-panunubok nilang sasabihing, "Wala, walang katumbas sa wikang Filipino ang salitang miss sa pangungusap na 'I miss you.'" Tila ba sinusubok nila ang kakayanan ng pambansang wika ng mahal kong Pilipinas.

Bilang isang alagad ng sining at wika, buong tiyaga ko silang pagpapaliwanagan, lalo na't alam kong may tumpak na katumbas sa Filipino ang "I miss you." Ngunit bago iyan, halina't samahan n'yo muna akong ipagtanggol ang wikang Filipino.

All Languages—Spoken or Written—Are Imperfect
"All writing systems and their scripts, no matter how revered or innovative, are imperfect and conventional, being an approximation—not a reproduction—of speech."—Steven Roger Fischer, A History of Writing (2004, Reaktion Books Ltd.)

Ano nga ba ang dahilan at maraming salita, parirala, at pangungusap na Ingles ang mahirap isalin sa Filipino? Dahil ba inferior ang wikang Filipino kung ikukumpara sa English? Pero, marami rin namang salitang Filipino ang mahirap hanapan ng katumbas sa wikang Ingles, di ba?

Bakit nga ba? Pagsasalin nga lang ba mula English tungong Filipino at vice versa ang nagkakaroon ng ganyang problema?


Ang katotohanan, nararanasan ng lahat ng lenggwahe—hindi lang ng wikang Filipino at Ingles—ang problema sa pagsasalin (translation).

Ayon sa maraming linguists, walang namumukod-tanging lenggwahe ang masasabing "perfect and complete." Ultimo ang English, na naturingang isa sa mga gamit-na-gamít na lenggwahe sa buong mundo, ay depektibo at malaki pa rin ang kakulangan sa aspetong iyan; sa simpleng kadahilanang "Language is a living thing"—patuloy ang ebolusyon nito, dahil patuloy na ginagamit ng mga tao—may nababawas, may nadaragdag; lalo na kung ang spoken language ang bibigyan ng pansin (at hindi lamang ang written language). Kaya hindi dapat na maliitin ang wikang Filipino dahil, gaya ng kahit anupamang lenggwahe, ang Filipino ay may sarili ring balarila (grammar) na dapat pag-aralan, sundin, at respetuhin.

Teka, mabalik tayo sa ating pinag-uusapan. Ano na nga ba ang katumbas ng "I miss you" sa Filipino?

Halina, samahan n'yo 'kong magpaliwanag. Mangyaring gamitin muna natin ang pangungusap na "I love you" bilang halimbawa.

Kapag isinalin iyan nang literál sa Filipino, heto ang kalalabasan:

"I love you" = "Ako mahal kita."

Subalit dahil hindi naman nararapat na laging literál ang pagkakasalin sa bawat salita o pangungusap—upang hindi lumabas na katawa-tawa o alanganin sa pandinig—lalo't ang mahalaga, at ang habol naman natin, ay ang mapanatili ang kahulugan nito,

Ang "I love you" sa Filipino ay

"Mahal kita" – kung spoken

"Ikaw ay mahal ko" – kung written

Ngayon, i-apply na natin sa "I miss you" ang ginawa natin sa "I love you." Dapat ay halos ganyan din ang maging istraktura nito.


Dahil ang 'miss' ay verb, nararapat na hanapan natin 'yan ng katumbas na pandiwa—hindi kinakailangang eksakto, subalit hangga't maaari ay iyong pinakamalapit ang nais ipakahulugan. Gabay natin ang tinuran ni Fischer na "writing systems being an approximation, not a reproduction...."

In English, miss, in the sense that we are discussing, means "to feel the lack or loss of." Its synonyms include crave, desire, feel loss, long, need, pine, wish, and yearn.

Sa Filipino, ang ibig sabihin ng miss ay "dama ang kawalan o pagkawala." Ang pinakamalapit at pinakamaikling katumbas ng salitang iyan ay HANAP-HANAP.

Sa Madaling Salita
Ang "I MISS YOU" sa Filipino ay

"Hanap-hanap kita." (spoken)

"Ikaw ay hanap-hanap ko." (written)

Ikaw, sino ang hanap-hanap mo ngayong Valentine's?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Here comes The Rain again

As soon as my best-friend Rain told me the news about his plan to self-produce an album, right there and then I replied that whatever he was concocting would certainly be a great addition to the vast library of New Wave music. He laughed and said that I was pulling his leg. I said, "No, Rain, I've always trusted your musicality—not only because you're my best friend but more so because I've known your music since our highschool days."

By the way, Rain, who's working as a lawyer at Makati Regional Trial Court, has recently been appointed as public prosecutor / district attorney.

Photo taken in November 1994 at Manila Memorial Park in Sucat, Parañaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines: My sister Kim, I, and Rain

Yes, many Half Life Half Death songs were made by Rain and me in so many contemplative nights back in our youth, in the late '80s.

I've known Rain since 1987. He was the brother I never had. He was more than half of the reason Half Life Half Death was able to produce the kind of music for which we were relatively known in the Philippine Alternative-music scene.

If I hadn't met him, or if he hadn't met me, perhaps there'd be no Half Life Half Death.

Rain, Bimbo, I: Half Life Half Death gig, in 1995, at Mayric's on España Avenue in Manila City, Metro Manila

A few days ago, Rain e-mailed me and broke the news that he's about ready to release the 10-song album he made in collaboration with his older and only brother, JB.

The album is entitled Girl in Mind. The collaboration is named The Rain—very fittingly New Wave, very appropriate.

Here's a portion of Rain's letter to me:

"Thanks for believing in my musicality. Whether you are mistaken, highly mistaken, or disillusioned, your praises are highly appreciated here.

"For me, I just like to play and make music. My frustration with Pymyth Prahn [HLHD's one and only album] is that I kept back on my so-called musical 'talents' (maybe the other Halves felt the same way too insofar as their so-called 'talent'), but such is the price you pay for being equal among friends and for recording in a hurry.

"In contrast, I took my sweet time with my new album. JB and I decided to call our band or collaboration The Rain, reminiscent of '80s band-names like The Cure, The Mission, The Church, The Adventures, etc. JB says that 'Rain' can be life-giving or death-rendering. Halflife Halfdeath? Seriously, JB insists on it.

"Our new album is entitled Girl in Mind, which is also track 1 of the album. Tracks 1, 2 ('Pourin’ Rain') and 3 ('Singing My Pain Away') date back to 1987, the year JB and I started making songs. It was also the year I started doing multitrack recording by the process of 'bouncing,' using tape-decks 1 and 2 of the multiplex karaoke player. Unfortunately, I no longer have the copy of such recording of 'Girl in Mind' and 'Pourin’ Rain.'

"In those days, introverts like me found joy with the multiplex player. I’m still an introvert, wallowing in reading and music. Today’s technology, in contrast, makes introverts like me happy with recording softwares and my musical gadgets like several guitars, bass guitar, synth, processors, etc.

"It is only fitting that JB and I finally bring out our songs. I grew up in a musical family. I have always been musical by conditioning, having been exposed to a mother who sung while she did chores and a father who played guitar and sung with a baritone voice as pastime (my father also brags his being a hit with chicks in his harana days).

"My older sister is also musical; I still see her in my mind doing her homework with an FM radio in full blast.

"As for me, I started playing guitar while I was in Grade 5. My early lessons were from my father who taught me basic chords and from my uncle 'Berto,' who taught me 'rolling chords' (Morrissey’s coinage).

"As to JB, he made me feel special by exposing me to a band. He and his classmates formed a band [First Light, in 1986]. Believing in my talents, he recruited me as guitarist. Imagine, I was in highschool freshman while my bandmates were seniors. I did not feel out-of-place among them; in fact, I even became their musical director, taga-cifra or taga-kapa ng mga kanta. It was in that band where I honed my so-called talent of playing by ear.

"JB, actually, saved me from being a nobody. I felt I deserve the world with my music.

"But just like the fate of great things, women came along and brought their apples with them. My bandmates became busy with their steady girlfriends, and I felt alone and inutile with my music.

"It was then that I met you and the rest of the Halves. I fancy more the original lineup—they are true friends. But just like the fate of great things, women came along and brought their apples with them. You know our history, of course.

The original members of Half Life Half Death (Joel Reyes, I, Jonathan Mejino, Rain Paggao, and Edmund Villafuerte), in 1988

"I find it hard to highly appreciate my own music. All I can do is feel if the notes I played simulate the notes and tones ringing in my head. If they ring similar by at least 90%, good. I get back to them days or months later in search of the other 10%.

"As for you, you are definitely biased. He, he. Hindi mo pa nga naririnig yung compositions ko eh nagagandahan ka na.

"I won’t mind if you say that they fall under your expectations, once you’ve heard them. I would not hold it against you. A friend, not the enemy, should be the best critic.

"As to the album’s commercial or noncommercial release: Yes and no.

"Yes because I plan to make 50 homemade copies for distribution to friends—such would be my local legacy. Certainly I don’t bother myself with 'people who don’t care if I live or die.'

"So, the first 50 CDs go to friends and kins. If I hear good feedbacks, I’d go commercial. Maybe I’d have 20 more homemade 'signed' CDs for collectors-buyers.

"So, maybe you may spread the word that there are 20 limited, signed, homemade copies of the album. He, he."


Rain sent me a copy of track 1 of the album, "Girl in Mind." Listening to it brought me nearly to tears...the song brought me back to our youthful the glorious days of New Wave music.

New Wave is, certainly, not an era; it's a musical art form...forever existing, sweetly lingering.

Anyone who claims s/he's a big fan of New Wave music, curse me if, after listening to it, The Rain was unable to touch your New Wave heart.

The Rain is a collaborative musical project of Half Life Half Death lead guitarist, Rain Paggao, and his brother, JB.

Rain does everything, while JB sings.

Listen to The Rain on MySpace and judge for yourself.

Now, you may curse me.

Friday, March 10, 2006

There's a story behind every song (Part One)

I just discovered a special feature of the community Web site Multiply dot com. If you have an account with it, you may upload 20 downloadable music files per month.

If you are a big fan of Alternative Rock music, particularly of the New Wave subgenre, check out my Multiply profile and DOWNLOAD the following songs in MP3.

1.  "Black and White" by Crippled Pilgrims
I first heard this song in 1986, on DWXB 102.7, a long-defunct FM radio station based in Metro Manila, Philippines. This was played during a Top Ten list hosted by Fat Albert. Among the songs on that playlist were "The Distance between Us" (Fra Lippo Lippi), "Lonely Summer Nights" (The Stray Cats), and "Someone's Calling" (Modern English).

2. "Jetlag" by The Merrymakers
In 2003, I was in a record bar at SM Makati, scouting for some CDs on sale, when I chanced upon a CD by The Merrymakers. I didn't know about the band or their music but, because the CD was only 30 pesos, I bought it anyway. It was worth it, if only for the songs "She's a Radio" and "Jetlag," which both sounded New Wave to me.

3. "Transfixion" by Balloon
I first heard this song in 1996, through the compilation Dedicated, which also included The Cranes, Chapterhouse, and This Picture. The presence of the violin melodies was what drew me to the song. I'm particularly fascinated with New Wave songs which feature violins and cellos.

4. "Rainfall" by A Flock of Seagulls
No music enthusiast can claim that she's into New Wave if she didn't know A Flock of Seagulls, which was one of the forerunners of the genre. I very well know most of their earlier songs ("Transfer Affection," "The More You Live, The More You Love," "Telecommunication," "I Ran (So Far Away"); however, this song I stumbled upon only recently while searching for some AFOS music videos on the Net. I found out that it came from their last album, The Light at the End of the World (1996). AFOS vocalist Mike Score no longer sport that well-known "waterfall-hairstyle," but the sound for which his band was revered is still there.

5. "7 Reasons" by Revenge
Eversince I heard of the news, back in the '90s, that New Order broke up and that each member went on to form his/her own band, I began researching about these offshoot bands. I was certain that whatever music each was concocting, this must be something worth listening to, primarily because New Order was/is one of the pillars of New Wave music. Right was I, for each offshoot band delivered a kind of music which is at par with the predecessor:

New Order drummer and keyboardist, Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert, respectively, formed The Other Two, producing two dance-oriented albums--The Other Two & You (1994) and Superhighways (1999)--well-known for the hit single "Selfish."

Vocalist/guitarist Bernard Sumner teamed up with Johnny Marr (formerly of The Smiths) and produced three brilliant albums--Electronic (1991), Raise the Pressure (1996), and Twisted Tenderness (1999)--which spawned the singles "Getting Away with It," "Forbidden City," and "Vivid."

Lastly, bassist Peter Hook formed, initially, Revenge and then Monaco, producing one full album for the first (One True Passion, 1990) and two albums for the latter, Music for Pleasure (1990) and Monaco (2000). "7 Reasons" is the song from Revenge that best captures my fancy.

6. "I've Got a Feeling" by MonacoThis song, on the other hand, is the Monaco song that best satisfies my preference for lush recording/production.

7. "Which Way Should I Jump?" by The Milltown Brothers
The Milltown Brothers' debut, Slinky (1991), was another album which I bought even without prior knowledge about the band or the music. This was in the mid-'90s, a period in the Philippines when the Alternative-music scene was dominated by Grunge. A diehard New Wave aficionado, I was always on the lookout for bands which possessed the New Wave sound; and I was glad that buying The Milltown Brothers album was worthy.

8. "One Summer" by The Moss Poles
It was in the late '80s through the early '90s when I and my bandmates were suddenly into Punk/Scruff bands like Descendents, Violent Femmes, The Dead Milkmen, and Anti-Nowhere League. But then, it seemed that our musical taste kept on gravitating towards the melodic sound of New Wave. This particular song by The Moss Poles was one of those songs which made me realize that a band can fuse the attributes of Punk and New Wave. My friend and band guitarist Rain Paggao was the one who introduced me to this song, the cassette-tape recorded copy of which he got from a common friend.

Fast-forward...two months ago, I was in Ontario, in the basement of my friend Jessel Baltazar, selecting which CDs to copy...then, I saw his CD of The Moss Poles! Believe me, that was my first time to hear the songs after almost a decade. The cassette-tape copy I had of it had been lost long ago.

9. "Clown and Bard" by Geoff Berner
I just arrived in British Columbia, Canada, in 2003. I was flicking with the TV remote control one morning when I chanced upon a morning show which featured a live band. The vocalist was playing an accordion and the song he was playing reminded me of Billy Bragg and The Pogues. Soon after watching the show, I googled for the artist's name and there I found Geoff Berner's Web site, which also featured some of his songs. This was the song he performed on TV that morning.

10. "Let the Young Girl Do What She Wants To" by Ian McNabb
Every New Wave music enthusiast knew very well that Ian McNabb was the music and face of The Icicle Works. Soon as I learned, in the '90s, that Ian McNabb went solo, I began scouting for copies of his new songs. Unfortunately for me, Ian's sound kind of strayed a bit from the usual Icicle Works sound; but despite that, he was able to retain the melodies in some. The two solo works of Ian McNabb which best fit into my taste are "You Must Be Prepared to Dream" (from Head like a Rock, 1994) and this song, from Before All of This (2005).

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

"Love Me Simple" by Tuesday Blue

March 7, 2006

* Last Friday, I finished Module One of my homestudy. Proudly, I got a perfect score in every examination. Timely, Module Two arrived on Monday, a book entitled Social Psychology by Taylor, Peplau, and Sears. I'm starting Lesson One tomorrow morning.
* My sister Kim, who's working at a search-engine optimization company, surprised me this afternoon with a long-distance call. She called just to know how I am. Call me again, Kim!

* Finally, I received the postal mail my Charlotte sent me last January. She mailed it to my address in Mississauga, Ontario, and then my relatives there sent the mail here. I delighted looking at the pictures of my family and Charlotte's taken last Christmas season.

* Along with the forwarded postal mail from Ontario was a short note from my little cousin Jasmine. She was reminding me about the animal book I wrote, My Animal Friends, which I promised to send her. I feel guilty for procrastinating; got to print a copy tomorrow and keep my promise to Jasmine.

* I printed out the draft CD sleeve I designed for the EP I'm finishing with Emong Payaso. I will start scouting for a CD-replication center here which accepts custom-made projects. The design I made is something unusual.

This is the front of the CD carton case.

The back part:

Yes, the jester bonnet is part of the CD carton case.

Monday, March 06, 2006

"I Want to Be Buried in Your Backyard"

It's been a while since the last time I featured a music video here on my blog site. Now, I've uploaded again another one.

I was not expecting to find an uploadable music video of any song by the new band Nightmare of You, but here it is! I got it from videocodezone dot com.

Everyone who knows me knows that I'm a diehard Alternative Rock / New Wave music aficionado. But I have to reiterate and categorically emphasize that my musical knowledge and preference is not limited to the genre. I appreciate almost any kind of music: particularly Classical (Baroque, Rennaisance, symphonies), Cultural (Chinese Folk, European acoustic-based music), Metal (from Death to Glam), Punk Rock (from hardcore to bubblegum), and even Pop ("Boybands" and "Girlbands") and Yoyoy Villame and April Boy Regino and The Beatles, The Cascades, The Zombies, Michael Jackson, Christina Aguilera, Madonna, Kelly Clarkson, Menudo, Ricky Martin, Elvis Presley, The Monkees, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Rush, Eraserheads, Rivermaya, True Faith, Side A, Hagibis, Utada Hikaru, Tompang Kintong, Preket Bicus, Andrew E., Francis M., Jessa Zaragoza, Imelda Papin, Freddie Aguilar, Rey Valera....

BUT, undeniably and admittedly, New Wave music is my home, the music to which I listen when I need comfort, inspiration, and solace. And being a voracious reader, I really allot time to research about the artists' history, background, and other related stuff. This may seem trivial to many people, but it's very important to me. It's like, if you say your favorite food is kare-kare, then you should at least know its main ingredients and how it's cooked.

Oh well, I've already written dozens of articles regarding New Wave music, but I don't get tired talking about it, perhaps because I have so many things to say; I know a lot about the genre, things I want to share to many people.

Some new friends I have here in Manitoba are, until now, fascinated to learn of a person who is still deeply into New Wave music after all the years. I keep on telling them and letting them understand that New Wave music is not limited to the '80s, that it didn't stop there.

Yes, there are many people who think that New Wave is an era, that no more New Wave bands exist today. Hey, aside from The Cure, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Echo & the Bunnymen, and U2, who are all to this day still there, countless bands of the same genre continue to appear here and there. It's just a matter of how to find them. One of these new New Wave bands is Nightmare of You.

Nightmare of You is a relatively new band, having been formed in 2003, in Long Island, New York, USA; but as you listen to their songs, all the qualities of New Wave music are there: the poetic lyricism, the melodic and jangly guitars, the melodic basslines, the keyboards and synth...

The music video featured here on my blog site is a song by Nightmare of You, entitled "I Want to Be Buried in Your Backyard," which comes off their debut album, Nightmare of You (2005). Having a keen ear for anything New Wave, I'm safely sure that The Smiths is one of their major influences. I can listen to the entire album in repeat mode. That's how New Wave Nightmare of You is.

The streets are all violent with murderous excitement
The hunter and the prey are dancing every day
That waltzing jibberish where intake becomes outlandish
I'm in a bad way every passing day

So where do we go from here
I'll say you're a shining star
You'd do great in L.A.
And I keep fixing every habit that I break

Oh Megan, is this thing of ours still on?
For I haven't slept a wink since you have been gone
Now I want to be buried in your backyard
And when the flowers grow just know you're still in my heart
You're still in my heart

A flash of dark interest steers us into this car crash
Uniting our remains, a fiery hurray...ay ay ay
Our hands touch unnoticed pressed up against melting glass
You're calling out my name as the air escapes

Oh, where do we go from here
I'll say you're a shining star
You'd do great in L.A.
And I keep fixing every habit that I break

Oh Megan, is this thing of ours still on?
For I haven't slept a wink since you have been gone
Now I want to be buried in your backyard
And when the flowers grow just know you're still in my heart

Where do we go from here
I'll say you're a shining star
You'd do great in L.A.
And I keep fixing every habit that I break

Oh Megan, is this thing of ours still on?
For I haven't slept a wink since you have been gone
Now I want to be buried in your backyard
And when the flowers grow just know you're still in my heart

When the flowers grow just know you're in my heart
When the flowers grow just know you're still in my heart

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Morbid and hilarious, what's the difference anyway?

March 5, 2006

Grandfather's 91st birthday. Can you realize that?

Yes, already 91 but Grandfather is still alive, still ambulatory and coherent once in every while.

We gave him a lunch party at Pampanga Restaurant a while ago. Friends and relatives here in Winnipeg, Manitoba, attended the occasion and made Grandfather happy, at least for the moment.

I said, "happy at least for the moment," because virtually every night for the past several months, Grandfather keeps on bugging me, telling me: "Gusto ko nang mamatay. Wala na naman akong gagawin pa sa buhay ko," to which my usual reply is a shrug of the shoulders and,

"Hay, sawa na 'kong marinig 'yan. Sa 'kin n'yo lang naman lagi sinasabi e. Ba't hindi n'yo 'yan masabi sa mga anak n'yo? Sila ang dapat nakaririnig ng mga salita n'yong 'yan. Apo lang ho ako. At dalawampu't dalawa ang lahat ng apo n'yo, hindi ba? Sabihin n'yo rin ho sa kanilang lahat 'yang mga sinasabi n'yo lagi sa 'kin. Tulig na tulig na 'ko e. Mas kailangan nila ang mga salita n'yong 'yan. Ako ho e marami nang natutunan sa inyo. Sukat ba namang magtatatlong taon na 'kong nakatali sa inyo e. Sila naman ang pangaralan n'yo."

After which I would usually get back to what I was doing, better yet put the headphones back to my ears and up the volume to full blast, so I wouldn't hear Grandfather's whines and yaps. Grandfather's perpetual rants are a perfect example of the idiomatic expression "barking at the wrong dog," or was it "tree"? Whatever. Anyway, I'm neither a dog nor a tree. Better yet, "expressing ire on the wrong person." Sounds better? More linguistically correct? Err, is there anything linguistic here, by the way? Oh well, pardon my peskiness. I'm just playing with words, trying to make fun of my pathetic situation.

Grandfather gave a speech to the delight of many of the attendees. I said "many" because not all heard what Grandfather said; he spoke without a microphone. (By the way, the official shortened word for microphone is spelled "mic" not "mike." I actually know a bunch of people who write mike instead of mic even when what they're pertaining to is the microphone and not someone whose whole name is most likely Michael. Thus the stupid sound check blah-blah "Mike Tess, Mike Tess," instead of "Mic test, mic test." I abhor people who make fun of languages. Not that I'm being a killjoy, but this habit has a psychological and subliminal effect, especially when the audience are children; they end up learning the language in a wrong way.)

Grandfather's speech was short and simple. I saw and heard him practice that sentence for a couple of nights. In fact, I was the one who suggested that he say something on his birthday.

"I want to thank everybody who attended my 91st birthday."

There, short and simple, one-sentence speech. But, we should commend him for this. Perfecting this took him a couple of nights' practice in front of the mirror. No, just kidding about the mirror thing. But yeah, he practiced what he would say for a couple of nights.

Also, everyone in the party should have heard the unedited version of Grandfather's speech. I wondered why he cut his speech short. He had all the time this afternoon. We would have allowed him to speak an hour or so. That would have been a phenomenon, for Grandfather seldom speaks in front of many people.

"This will be my last birthday because I'm already going to die soon."

Yeah, that was the remaining part of the speech he was practicing. It would have been great if he included it in his speech today. Pardon me if I come across as morbid, but my situation seemed to have long blurred in my mind the difference between these two adjectives—morbid and hilarious. Grandfather's ability to become altogether morbid and hilarious at the same time always fascinate me. Now I know where I inherited this trait.

After the party, my lower back was still aching. I got this a few days ago. I was trying to reach for something I dropped on the floor when I must have made an ergonomically incorrect body movement. Or am I getting older? I'm near to believing that old-age woes and bodily discomfort can be contagious.

Or has this something to do with my being Grandfather's constant companion? I suddenly got scared. I was thinking, has Grandfather been transferring to me all that he is? Kung anting-anting lang ba ang ipapasa n'ya e, di todo-bigay kong ibubuka ang bunganga ko. Feeling Ompong.

At 91, Grandfather is really slipping back to the childhood phase of human development. He seems to think and act more like a child now.

At 35, I feel like I'm being sucked forward through time into my own elderly self. I seem to feel and think like I'm already 91.

I'm currently on a homestudy of Psychology. I'm doing well on the exams, always perfect. But I sometimes feel like I'm the one who needs to see a psychologist or, worse, a psychiatrist.

Grandfather's presently at the dining table, trying to read all the birthday cards that he received today.

From where I am right now, I can see Grandfather's smile and delight.

Yeah, I forgot, Grandfather is now clinically a child again. And I just remembered how a simple birthday card can pull a sincere smile from the face of a child.

I am presently at the computer terminal, writing this blog entry, trying to express what's on my mind right this very moment. I can hardly smile. Perhaps you already know why.

Yeah, I should remember, considering my situation, I feel like I am the one who's celebrating his 91st birthday today. I feel sick and tired. Exhausted and virtually expired.

How I wish I am a child once again, back in my mother's loving arms, instead of feeling like I'm carrying the weight of the world. "Weight of the world?!" Oh, pardon me...just another hyperbole.

Oops, got to go now. I need some analgesic; here goes this dumb lower-back pain again. Wait, dumb or damn? Whatever. Never mind.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Adventures of Traydon the Sirenito: Story One

Below is the first of a triumvirate of short stories, which I need to finish, that will complement the fantasy-fiction book I've written: Engkanto: A Bestiary of Philippine Mythical Beings Book One: Bantay-Katubigan.

These interconnected stories will feature selected adventures of a sirenito named Traydon. My intention in writing these stories is to animate the profile I wrote of the Bantay-Katubigan beings.

I am now sharing this to all of you in the hope that in my heart ignite new sparks of inspiration to continue writing the rest of the stories. As always, I'm currently afflicted with the so-called writer's block (or is this just a euphemism for procrastination?).

So many ideas to write about, but the pen is less than cooperative in immortalizing them on paper.


Concept and stories by aLfie vera mella
Illustrations by Jonel Mendoza and Michael Pasetes

Traydon Gets Lost in a Cavern
He was six.

FIRSTBORN OF the late Keydan the Seabard and Karalota the Weedweaver, Traydon grew up having a great fascination for animals. He adored them especially for their playfulness and affinity with nature. This fondness he acquired from his father, who, aside from owning a vast collection of scrolls about the diverse fauna and flora of the water world, had tended several dugongs and sea turtles in their family’s ancestral home, in one of the deepest parts of the sea where they live.

Traydon’s frequent visits to his father’s study when he was still a sireling, usually to ask him to narrate any fable, largely contributed to his interest in lore and faunology. Both father and son delighted in those reading-and-listening sessions—memories that Traydon treasures and cherishes to this day.

At exactly six years of age, Traydon received his first pet. It came as a birthday surprise from his loving father. He highly regarded the gift—a plump little dugong calf. Whose bantay-katubigan child wouldn’t appreciate such a wondrous gift? A dugong is probably what every sirena’o child would wish to have as a pet. Even the renowned sirena’o poet and faunologist Kebalon the Versetamer, in his book A Bestiary of the Waterworld’s Fauna and Flora, described dugongs as “among the most adorable and loyal animals of the sea.”

Traydon named his dugong Bag-at, which became his perennial companion. Whenever he had an errand to do, like gathering mussels or picking sea anemones, or every time he went for a swim into the coral reefs or to the shore, Bag-at always gave him company.

Inevitably Bag-at became Traydon’s only friend, especially that his little sister, Loriyan, was much younger than he—too young to go far off their cave and promenade with him. Besides, being by himself has always been Traydon’s nature. In fact, he never had any friend until he was nine; and the first friend he ever had was not even a sirena’o like him, but instead, a human girl.

Both Traydon and Bag-at delighted in their mutual regard for each other—a special friendship the pet had proven to its master many times.

One particularly memorable event for Traydon in which the dugong was able to show its loyalty happened on a turbid, wavy day. Traydon and Bag-at were on their way home from a stroll down the coral reefs when he chanced upon a cavern. His curiosity caused him to swim into the deep hole without minding its tricky twists and turns. It made him forget what his mother kept on reminding him every time he and his pet ventured far away from home: “Be wary of tunnels and abysses, Traydon. No one knows what fierce creatures lie hidden in such unpeopled holes of the sea.” To which his usual reply was a casual: “Worry not, Mother, we will.”

Too late it was when Traydon remembered his mother’s perpetual bidding—he was already deep inside the narrow hole, lost in the dark, and the dugong was no longer behind him. Traydon’s scales began to glisten in fear, and the hand which held his travel-staff began to tremble.

Mustering every bit of remaining courage to regain his composure, Traydon spread his tail and slowed his pace, desperately trying to hear any vibration or to remember where he came from; but still, he could not retrace the path through which he passed. His heart pounded immensely he thought he heard it reverberate against the walls of the eerie place he was stuck in. Then, a luminous gray elongated mass gradually loomed from a distant corner and slowly illuminated the area where he was.

Traydon couldn’t believe what he was seeing—Bag-at, his ever loyal pet, glowing brilliantly in the dark. The dugong had followed its master after all. Finally Traydon was able to sigh in relief. He swam towards the dugong and hugged it. “Salamat, Bag-at, salamat,” Traydon uttered repeatedly as he caressed his pet adorably.

Guided by the light exuded by the dugong’s luminous skin, Traydon and Bag-at made their way out of the abyss.

[Next story: Traydon Meets His First Ever Friend...he was nine]