The Return of eLf ideas

ideas of an eLven being in Canada

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

To accomplish without striving

May 30, 2006

A warm sunny day, I went to the hospital at the usual time, around 11:00 a.m., in time to feed Grandfather. He's quite stable, seated on the reclinable chair. He seldom talked, just pointing his pouted lips to the bottled water every time he was thirsty.

I was bored to death after lunch, especially that I couldn't use my portable music player because I left the earphones at the house. Instead, I finished reading Lesson Three of my Social Psychology homestudy and then proceeded with Sun Tzu's The Art of War, the book I'm currently on.

I'm still on the introduction part of the book, but I'm already absorbing so many wonderful quotations.

"To win without fighting and to accomplish without striving is best."

Last night I watched again on DVD Can't Buy Me Love and Valley Girl. These films never fail to stir in me the same emotions I felt the first time I saw them back in the '80s.

Can't Buy Me Love (1987)

Ronald Miller (Patrick Dempsey) is a hardworking nerdy student who has a major crush on one of the most popular girls in school, Cindy Mancini (Amanda Peterson). Unpopular and seemingly nonexistent to the cool guys in school, Ronald finds a chance to hook up with Cindy by offering her a thousand dollars in exchange of her pretending to be his girlfriend for a month, believing that this will result in his eventual popularity. Cindy's desperate situation prompts her to accept the offer: The leather blouse-and-skirt that she "borrowed" from her mother's wardrobe got stained at the party, and she needed a thousand dollars to be able to replace it with a new one.

The goal is realized. Ronald becomes the coolest guy in school after his and Cindy's staged breakup. However, the popularity thing gets into Ronald's head. Also, little does he know that Cindy has actually fallen for him because of his hard work and uncommon interests. But everything's too late. Things get out of hand, Ronald's sudden change of personality--from the sweet sensitive guy to an arrogant bully--pisses Cindy off, prompting her to reveal to everyone their thousand-dollar deal.

Ronald bows out in shame. The cool guy returns to being a nerd. But, after learning his lesson well, Ronald tries to woo Cindy once again, this time for real and with his true self.

Of course, Cindy forgives him and the movie ends with a feel-good scene, in which Cindy rides with Ronald on a lawnmower and they kiss each other euphorically. Playing in the background, of course, is The Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love."

Valley Girl (1983)

Julie Richman (Deborah Foreman) is a valley girl, a girl living in the "squeaky clean" valley area. She is already bored with her typical, macho boyfriend and usual activities with equally typical girl friends. Randy (Nicolas Cage) is a New Waver living in the downtown area. They meet each other at a party, fall for each other, and there the love begins.

However, unsurprisingly, Julie's friends don't approve of Randy because of his being "different." Swayed by her friends' negative impression of Randy, Julie breaks up with Randy and returns to her arrogant previous boyfriend. Randy does all these romantic and unusual antics to win her back.

One significant influence on Julie's decision is his hippie father, who tells Julie that being different, in fact, is a positive trait, that individuality is very important for a person.

The film ends with a prom scene in which Randy with his best friend gatecrashes the party, kicks the arrogant ex-boyfriend's ass, and takes off with Julie in his arms.

However, the best part of the movie in my opinion is the scene in which Randy and Julie are at a club in downtown. As the band performing in the club, The Plimsouls, dishes the song "A Million Miles Away," Randy and Julie passionately lock lips. After the club scene, Randy and Julie stroll downtown hand in hand; playing on the background is the song "I Melt with You" by Modern English, one of my all-time favorite New Wave songs.

Actually, it was from this movie where I first heard "I Melt with You," back in 1985 when I first saw the film on betamax.

"Moving forward, using all my breath
Making love to you was never second best..."

Bored at the hospital, I decided to take a stroll at the nearby Garden City Shopping Centre. I ate lunch at the Japanese Koya at the foodcourt--ordered beef teriyaki. I was supposed to watch a movie, but I learned that the Famous Players Cinema at that mall is open only during weekends. I would have watched The Da Vinci Code. Next time.

Before returning to the hospital, I stopped by at the small Internet shop to check e-mails and write this entry.

It's 3:37 p.m.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Blue Summer

May 28, 2006

If every day is like this particular Sunday, then I'd be a very, very miserable charming man.

To compensate for my laziness to write or post something new on my blog site, I'll just share with all of you the letter I e-mailed a while ago to my best-friend Rain. I think this sums up my feelings and state of mind during the previous weeks and at present.


How are you? Have you taken care of the orders of your album?
My musician friends here who listened to your album have nothing but praises. I know I don't need to elaborate about that--the usual awe on your guitar ideas and music itself.

Concerning my live band. Sad to say, I suddenly lost the spark. I thought that the gig last night would recharge me, but on the contrary, it was a sort of a realization that I no longer belong to the stage the way I used to.

We were third to play. I had many friends and relatives in the audience. In fact they were cheering all through out the set. As usual, the rest of the audience were in awe of my unusual performance and sense of fashion. But it was me. I was so immersed in my craft onstage, yet I still felt incomplete and empty all through out the performance. I was like a jester there--trying to entertain the audience with my antics, but deep inside I was feeling lost and alone.

I'd rather focus on the recording with Emong Payaso of new originals. That's it for me in terms of music. I think I have to bow out of stage performance for good, or at least for the time being.

The publisher of The Filipino Journal, Mr. Rod Cantiveros, for which I'm writing was there to watch. He was covering the event. He approached me and called me by my first name. He told me that my articles have been receiving positive remarks from the Filipino community, and that they'd be giving me an honorarium next time. That--I'm excited about--both the remarks and the honorarium, of course.

I really couldn't pinpoint the reason I'm still depressed (not clinically though) despite my extracurricular activities. Grandfather is still at the hospital. I only go there during daytime. I get to go home at night and have a good sleep. But being alone in the house most of the times is making me sad and empty. No matter how good to me my relatives are, I still need to live my own life. I want freedom from loneliness and helplessness, and from anxiety and uncertainty. I really want my freedom back. But I'm also careful too of this I'm wishing for, because I know that if ever I move out to live on my own, there'd be no turning back. So, I need to be successful or, at least, self-sufficient for my own survival.

Oh, by the way, I'd share with you one of my recent great accomplishment. I've finally had the courage to take the written driving exam, last Wednesday. Thanks to my friends Weng and King, who took the exams with me. We found confidence from one another. Fortunately, all us three passed it. I have now a temporary driving license. Therefore, taking professional driving lessons should be a priority on my next agenda. However, I need to wait after nine months before I can take the road test, and passing which will finally earn me a professional driving license. But before that--I must really learn first how to drive. I never drove in the Philippines, so this would be something new to me. I just hope that I can learn driving with ease.

Have you started recording my request? "The Dance of the Marionettes" and an acoustic version of "Unfated Love"? By the way, why did you leave the "More to Lose" in your album without a voice? Was that intentional?

I already finished the new design of our band Half Life Half Death's The Halven Trilogy CDs. I added a few songs which were previously not included. Part Three of the trilogy--the design is finished as well, and also the intended tracklist; but I'm still waiting for the music files from a friend in the Philippines who would be converting into MP3s the contents of the reel tape of early Half Life studio recordings. I plan to include "Marionettes" and the "Unfated" acoustic. Also, I'm thinking, would it be okay if I lay down vocal tracks on the "More to Lose" acoustic, then I'll include it in the Part Three of the trilogy?

I always listen to your album. In fact, the melodies are always ringing in my head--from beginning to end. Each song stirs a somber note in my heart, perhaps because most of the melodies also belong to my own past; I've already heard most of them long ago, so they have the power to transcend me back to our youthful days.

With the way you weaved the contents of your first album, you would be committing a mortal sin if you will not follow it up with another full album. I'm already eager to hear new stuff.

Regarding my "Karnabal" musical project: It seems that Emong Payaso and I are on a hiatus, because of the preparation for the gig last night. Each of us was busy focusing on his own band.

I was unable to bring a video cam, so I'm unsure if someone got to record my performance last night.

My original song "For Her Brilliance" (the original arrangement) was included in the set. Many people liked the melody. In fact, some of them were singing the chorus: "Can't you see me? Falling for the thousand time" over and over after the performance. I might ask Payaso to help me with recording a version of it as soon as we finished "Karnabal."

I'm really ready for family life. Because my leisure activities here could no longer satiate my restlessness. What I really need and want is certainty about my life. I may still be youthful in my perspective and taste in music and sense of fashion, but with regard to aspirations, I've certainly arrived on a higher level.

My plan to go home late next year is still on, of course. Charlotte and I deserve to be happy soon. But since my immigration papers is still hanging, all plans remain uncertain too.

May life become more good to me soon. My patience is running low. It's draining and exhausting the positivist in me.

Your friend in Canada.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Bilóg Nga Ba ang Itlog?

[My fifth article to be published in The Filipino Journal. I wrote this particular article while dealing with my own jadedness and solitariness in having to stay every day at the hospital to look after Grandfather. I'm thankful that, despite the boredom and sickening routine, I can still write something useful and ponderous. Also, I'd like to dedicate this article to Loriedith Meneses, a former Diwa officemate who e-mailed additional inputs for this particular article.]

Bilóg Nga Ba ang Itlog? by aLfie vera mella

Maraming salita sa wikang Filipino ang hindi tumpak ang gámit. Subalit dahil matagal nang nakasanayan ang mga ito, maraming Filipino ay tuloy pa rin sa paggamit. Sa kagustuhang maplantsa ang gusot na aspetong iyan ng wikang Filipino, maraming mga bagong-sibol na manunulat ang patuloy sa paglikha ng mga mas tama at karapat-dapat na alternatibo.

Ang mga sumusunod ay ilang halimbawa lamang ng kakikitaan ng maling gámit o pagkakasalin sa Filipino.

Itlog na pulá? Pulá nga ba ang kulay ng tinà (dye) na ginagamit na pangkulay sa balat ng itlog na pinaalat? Hindi ba’t malinaw na magenta o maroon ang kulay nito? Subalit dahil sa walang eksaktong katumbas sa Filipino ang mga salitang iyan, “pulá” na lang ang ginamit—dahil ito ang kulay na pinakamalapit. Upang maiwasto ito, ang mungkahing sálin sa Filipino ng salted eggs ay itlog na maalat, na tumpak at mas angkop.

Ang itlog ng ibon ay bilóg? Hanggang ngayon, marami pa rin ang nagsasabing bilóg ang itlog ng ibon. Sa buong buhay ko, hindi pa ako nakakakita ng itlog ng ibon na bilóg ang hugis. Hindi kailanma’y naging bilóg ang hugis ng itlog ng alinmang uri ng ibon. Ang tamang hugis nito ay biluhabâ—itlog man ’yan ng maya, bibe, kalapati, kuwago, uwak, o pabo.

Of Colors
And their Filipino translations:
= pulá
blue = asul, bughaw
yellow = dilaw
green = berde, lunti, luntian
violet, purple = ube, lilà
orange = dalandan
brown = tsokolate, kayumanggi
beige = murang kapé
pink = rosas
gray = abó, ábuhin
silver = pilak
gold = ginto

And Shapes
And their Filipino translations:
circle, round, circular
= bilóg
oblate, oval, spheroid = biluhabâ
square = parisukát
rectangle, rectangular = parihabâ
triangle, triangular = tatsulók
rhombus = rombo

E paano na ang kulay maroon at magenta, at mga hugis na tulad ng trapezoid at nonagon? Dahil ba hindi kayang isalin sa Filipino ang mga ’yan ay maaari na nating maliitin ang ating pambansang wika? Hindi ba’t meron din namang mga salitang Filipino na hindi kayang tumbasan ng Ingles—tulad ng “alimuóm,” “kalabit,” “kuyakoy,” at “paglilihi”? At hindi ba’t maraming salitang Ingles ay hango o hiram din naman sa ibang wika—tulad ng bona fide (Latin), bungalow (Bengali), dim sum (Chinese), faux pas (French), origami (Japanese), piñata (Spanish), saga (Icelandic), sauna (Finnish)?

Hindi lang Filipino ang merong kakulangan kung kaya’t kinakailangang manghiram; ultimo ang Ingles at anupamang wika.

Dahil dumaranas ng problema sa aspeto ng pagsasalin, ang bawat lenggwahe ay napipilitang manghiram sa ibang wika. Hindi ba’t maganda ang isinisimbulo n’yan—ang lenggwahe’t kultura ng iba’t ibang bansa ay patuloy sa paghihiráman at pagbibigayan?

Kaya h’wag balewalain o ikahiya ang sariling wika. Imbes, pagyamanin ito sa pamamagitan ng paggamit nang tama. H’wag din namang kalimutang bigyan ng halaga ang kultura’t lenggwahe ng ibang bansa, lalo pa’t madalas tayong manghiram ng salita kung kinakailangan; at wala namang masama r’yan, basta ba ginagamit natin ito sa wastong paraan at makabuluhang dahilan.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

BMX Riders of the Eighties [Repost]

Originally posted on March 15, 2005
Photo taken in mid-1987, at the CCP complex (Cultural Center of the Philippines) in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines: Cousin Mike, Tito Gerry, I, and Cousin Heinjie on rented BMX bicycles

I was wearing a black beret, a headgear associated with the New Wave music and fashion of the '80s.

Speaking of BMX bikes, this particular type of bicycles was a craze in the Philippines in the early '80s. In the summer of 1981, I had my first and only BMX bike which, unfortunately, got stolen about one month after the day my mother and I bought it at a bicycle shop in Cartimar, Pasay City, Metro Manila.

The Myth behind My BMX Bike
(A Confession of Sorts)

This will be the first time I will reveal the real story behind that BMX bicycle of mine.

Back then, I used to tell friends that the reason I was unable to finish fourth grade at St. Mary's Academy ("SMA"; Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines) and, in the ensuing school year, had to repeat the same grade at Hen. Pio del Pilar Elementary School, a public school near our former rented house in Barrio Pio del Pilar in Makati City, Metro Manila, was that I used my tuition fee to buy a BMX bike. This was partly a truth and partly a lie. I concocted this story because of embarrassment with my parents' marital problems which had been causing the family severe financial difficulty during that time.

When I was in fourth grade at SMA, 1980, I could barely take a periodical examination at the regular schedule because I was always delayed in settling my quarterly tuition fee. I think only a few times was I able to join a field trip because my mother couldn't afford such extracurricular expenses. Even when I was in Grace 5, some of my field trips would have been pfft if weren't for a kind classmate, named Jeffrey Murao, who offered to shoulder the fee.

I remember how my mother always found difficulty in pulling a couple of coins from her purse for my daily allowance. Many a school day when there was no more enough money to pull I had to feign sickness, reporting back to school the next day armed with only an excuse letter. And, as you might have anticipated, I failed to reach the school-year's fourth quarter...there was no more money to pay for the remaining tuition fee...I stopped going to school. I even remember a few classmates' visiting me at home, sending news that our adviser and a few of them were willing to assist me with whatever problems I'd might been having. Instead of feeling glad and optimistic, I began to withdrew because of--what else--shame. I remember asking one classmate, named Glenn, to cover for me by misinforming our teacher that I had an accident and suffered a leg fracture, thus my inability to continue schooling at least through the remaining weeks of the school year.

In short, I dropped out of school.

Come summertime, when virtually every young one in the neighborhood had a BMX bicycle, I was able to persuade my mother in buying me a bike. I was tired of borrowing once in a while the bikes of my friends and of renting almost every day from the many rent-a-bike shops that sprouted during that time. Mother and I figured that we could spare some four-hundred pesos for my own bike; anyway I'd be transferring to a public school near our house the coming school year, which meant she wouldn't be having any more problems concerning school allowances and, much so, tuition fees. We also decided not to settle the remaining tuition balance from my fourth grade at St. Mary's, thinking that, anyway, I would have surely flunked because I was unable to take the last-quarter examinations.

One Saturday morning, Mother and her twinkling-eyed son finally went to Cartimar, Pasay City, to buy a red Shimano-type BMX bike. We went back home with my preciousss aboard a taxicab. I barely finished my lunch that day just to be able to tour the neighborhood at once with my BMX-rider friends.

After only more than a month, I woke up one morning to find my bike, which I safely kept in our garage, missing. My friends and I spent the whole day looking for it in the neighborhood in case someone just decided to play a prank on me.

It was already nighttime when I acknowledged the fact that my precious BMX bicycle was really stolen.

In school-year 1981–82, I was in fourth grade for the second time, at Hen. Pio del Pilar Elementary School. And every time I saw my friends on their bikes, I could only frown and reminisce about my lovely summer days with my precious bicycle.

Returning to St. Mary's Academy the following year, with the financial assistance of Tita Mely in Canada, I began to tell my old school friends and new classmates that I had to repeat fourth grade at a public school as a punishment for having spent my tuition fee to buy a BMX bike—a reason, regardless if it was a lie, I felt much "cooler" than admitting the fact that my family had become too poor to support my education at a private institution.

This myth I still find to this day to be cool; but better and much relieving finally to have had the courage to confess publicly to such a harmless lie once concocted by a little boy too embarrassed to let his friends and classmates know a sad truth.

I am dedicating this article to my longtime friend Derrick Periodico, my first-ever best friend during my elementary days at St. Mary's Academy, who to this day still remembers my invented story about my BMX bike. As he commented on a particular blog entry of mine:

At 1:00 AM, derrick said…
i remember the year when you didn't enroll at st. mary's. we had a small group then… we all wondered why you didn't enroll. i didn't know that your family was having financial problems. all we knew back then was that you used your tuition money to buy a bike!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Solitariness silently seeths into my soul

May 14, 2006

As always, I have so many stories to tell, so many rants to blurt out, so many melodies to sing about, so many plans and dreams to share with all of you; however, my routinary daily sojourn from the house to the hospital, to help my relatives look after Grandfather, whose condition as of the moment is stable yet hardly improving, prevents me from finding the energy to write something which would satiate the bard in me.

Whew! Sorry for the long sentence. Did you gasp for air? I did. But what's new with me these days, anyway?

In fairness, the past weeks were not entirely house-hospital routine. I also got to engage in some personal activities which serve as breathers for my lonely life as Grandfather's caregiver.

Two Fridays ago, I pitched in again as a drummer for Studio 69's gig at Howard Johnson Hotel on Ellice Avenue.

Last Friday, May 12, cousin Oliver and I watched The Strokes concert at Burton Cummings. Opening for them was The Most Serene Republic, one Indie Rock band which I discovered late last year and whose music caught my fancy. Their musicality is in the league of favorite bands like The Boo Radleys and The Spent Poets. After The Strokes gig, around 11:30 p.m., still early to retire, we proceeded to The Collective Bar on Osbourne Village, and there we watched two obscure bands, Sunset Rubdown and Frogs Eyes.
Mrs. Linda Cantiveros of The Filipino Journal e-mailed me, asking for the Word files of Engkanto and a new article I wrote, "Bilog Nga Ba ang Itlog?" to be published in the coming issues of the newspaper.
Best-friend Pet (de Jesus) invited me to join sma88 yahoogroup. SMA stands for St. Mary's Academy in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines, where I spent elementary. I graduated there in '84, transferred in highschool to the brother school just across the street, Sta. Clara Parish School, from which I graduated in '88.

I'm glad I've joined the group because I got to reconnect with so many long-missed elementary and highschool classmates. Not only did I get to catch up with the lives of many old friends and acquaintances but also, I got to reestablish and make new friendships. What I wrote in a previous article about friendship continues to prove itself to be true:

"Friends are keys to many locked memories."

For, sharing memories and stories with one another, we continue to rediscover our old selves and dust the webbed corners of our memory banks--and these never fail to leave all of us smiling in sweet nostalgia.

I may always be surrounded by relatives and new friends, but...

Loneliness and solitariness silently seeth into my soul
Exhaustion and uncertainty continue to dig in my heart a hole

I am really yet to call this new, strange place a home

Lonely sojourn from the house to the hospital

The loneliest May in my and Grandfather's life...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

haLf man haLf eLf at Tugtugan 2006

haLf man haLf eLf performs on May 27, Saturday, at Pampanga Restaurant, on Henry Street, Winnipeg.

Other performers are Midnight Trooper, Codeego, Magnet, SideF/X, Resurrection, FourSight, 2MSU, Aftertouch, and Studio 69.

Ticket at $10, dinner included.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Call me Charon for the meantime

May 4, 2006

Grandfather in his first few days in the hospital

[Counting days of poor appetite and without much sleep, I wish that Grandfather finally dies gracefully, and that I may regain my own zest in life after this taxing responsibility.]

I just got home two hours ago. I just finished a late lunch and checked my e-mails.

Grandfather is still confined in Seven Oaks General Hospital. Today is "our" 19th day there. At the rate his health and test results are going, Death is inevitably just waiting 'round the corners.

Yes, Grandfather is getting weaker and weaker and very incoherent by the day. His bouts of crankiness and memory failure are becoming more frequent. His heartbeat rate never goes down 140 per minute, way high.

During his first through second week in the hospital, I just stay with him during visiting hours, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. However, my relatives decided to let me stay there overnight every day. Of course, I couldn't refuse, no matter how resentful I feel of this. My own health is turning bad as well. Sometimes, I feel that my relatives are desperately trying to extend the life of 91-year-old Grandfather at the expense of my own life.

For the past 4 days, I haven't been sleeping and eating well. Imagine, I have to ready myself around 5:30 p.m., then get back to the hospital. I'd be staying there until 12 the next day! Of course, I don't get to sleep there. Aside from my having to stay on a reclinable chair, the restlessness of Grandfather through the night is keeping me awake.

I have been reduced to a Charon, waiting for Grandfather's death.

I usually arrived back home to rest and sleep at around 1:30 p.m. Do you think I can still sleep within 2:00 p.m. to 5 p.m.?

Do you think I can maintain a good appetite?

Most of the times I'm too exhausted to rest and sleep. I just lie on the bed and stare catatonically on the ceiling. I'm also too hungry to even eat a morsel. I'm starting to feel back and neck pains. I sometimes feel nauseous and light-headed, obviously because of the lack of sleep. Add to that, my own anxiety with the thought of my having to be the one to wait for Grandfather's death before my eyes.

All I really wish now is for Grandfather finally to rest in peace.

He has been suffering for quite some time now.

I, too, have been secretly and silently suffering myself.

And my relatives are seemingly focused on trying to extend Grandfather's life, oblivious of the physical and emotional sufferings that I continuously experience from having been tasked as the caregiver of Grandfather for almost three years now.

If ever they'll ask me to make a speech on Grandfather's funeral, I might utter these few words:

"Now that Grandfather had finally rested for good, I am glad. For, both of us are finally liberated--he from pain and suffering; I, from bondage and deprivation. As he now rests in peace, I may now enjoy my freedom and go on with my own life. Grandfather's death is a rebirth of mine."