The Return of eLf ideas

ideas of an eLven being in Canada

Thursday, January 29, 2009

On celebrating birthdays and other occasions

January 29, 2009

My birthday just passed me by, 23rd of this month. I'm 38. Perhaps many would notice my being straightforward with regard to my age. Well, I've long reached that stage when age doesn't really matter anymore. I mean, what counts more, for me, are the experiences, accomplishments, achievements, trials, and material things that I have gained (or lost) and amassed through all the years.

I did not celebrate my birthday with a big bang. I did not have a birthday cake, birthday balloons, parlor games, or even a simple costume party. We--my family--just had dinner at a sushi restaurant in Downtown Winnipeg. No singing of the happy birthday song; just simple birthday greetings. I like it better that way, at this stage of my life--simple, peaceful, intimate celebration. Not that I dislike big gatherings, but I've long renounced my affinity for big celebrations. I don't like the fact that many invitees attend gatherings feeling pressured to show up not without anything to give to the celebrant. As for me, every time I get invited to a party or any celebration, I don't compel myself to bring a gift. I like to believe that I was invited because the celebrant simply wanted me to partake of the joyful event. So, I don't usually bring gifts to a party. If I choose to attend, I simply show up there, greet the celebrant, socialize with my fellow invitees, and enjoy whatever food was there. I think this is the real essence of being an invitee. I don't criticize the manners of the other invitees, I don't criticize the clothes everyone is wearing, and most of all, I don't criticize the food or the venue. I know that many people fall in to this folly. They get invited to a party, and then instead of feeling appreciative of being invited, they criticize the food, the venue, the service, their fellow attendees. Most of all, many feel compelled to bring something or to give something to the celebrant. Sometimes they criticize the people who invited them for having put them in a situation when and where they must spend for gifts and for "stealing" their precious weekend free time.

Bottomline, we always have a choice. And whatever our choices are, we should stand by it.

If you get invited to a party, don't attend if you don't feel like it. Don't feel embarrassed for having failed to attend. If you're at the moment running low of budget, don't compel to buy a gift or to give something. Your presence should be enough for whoever invited you. Attending a part or any celebration must always be a leisure activity. There should be no pressures. In the same manner that if you happened to be the celebrant inviting people to your party, you should not expect to receive something from the people attending your party. Their being there should be enough to be thankful for.

So, in case I decided to celebrate my next birthday with a big bang or any other important occasion in my life with a party, and you received an invitation from me, don't be compelled to attend if you have more important things to attend to; or if in case you decided to attend my party, don't feel pressured to bring a gift or to give something. Your mere presence in my party should be enough. And you may come in whatever attire you feel socially comfortable. I don't believe in the myth that people should attend parties wearing formal, semi-formal, or this and that type of clothes. I believe in the ultimate freedom of being yourself.

Happy Birthday to me.

Gifts or no gifts, I still have to thank Fate and the Natural Order of the Universe for giving me such wondrous gifts in time for my birthday.

First, my firstborn is coming out anytime now. His name will be Evawwen Lii-athne Frriloem. The first name, Evawwen, is the reverse spelling of New Wave, one of my favorite genres of music, the other one being Post-Punk. I considered Post-Punk in reverse, but it doesn't read and sound good to me. The second and the last names are names of characters I created for my fantasy fiction novel Visionata Grandiosa--Lii-athne Aardne and Frriloem Kryyle--a novel I began writing more than ten years ago and I am yet to finish.

Second, I just formed a new band, The Half Gifts. We're coming along really well. We're having a weekly session, arranging original compositions, with the purpose of recording these at a professional studio in the coming months.

Thank you very much to all those who have greeted me and sent their missives in however way. I appreciate it all!

Special thanks go to my friends and acquaintances on Multiply, Facebook, Friendster, as well as my longtime and close friends who remembered and took the moment to greet me.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hindi Ka Ba Nauubusan ng Isusulat?


[published in my cultures & lifestyles column, "Sa Madaling Salita," in the January 2009 issue #1 of Filipino Journal, the leading Filipino-owned newspaper in Manitoba, Canada]

by aLfie vera mella

Hindi Ka Ba Nauubusan ng Isusulat?
or, Don’t You Run Out of Ideas to Write About?

A friend asked me. I said, rarely.

Sa dinami-dami ba naman ng aking nakakasalamuha sa araw-araw at nao-obserbahang pangyayari saan man ako naroroon, e sangkaterbang kuwento, aral, at kaalaman ang palaging nakokolekta ng aking isipan—mga ideyang tinatahi ko para makabuo ng mga artikulong maibabahagi sa mga tulad kong mahilig magbasa.

O sige, bibigyan kita ng halimbawa, sabi ko sa kanya. Mula sa mga kuwento ng ilang taong nakausap ko kahapon sa Riverview Health Centre, kung saan ako nagtatrabaho, e makabubuo ako ng isang artikulo.

Reaping in Old Age What Was Sown in Youth
I was assigned to work at the Palliative Care—the unit for patients with life-threatening illnesses whose primary care needs include the alleviation of symptoms and the improvement of the quality of life. Considering the medical conditions of these patients, one is inclined to think that everyone in such a unit has a very bleak disposition. To encounter cantankerous and withdrawn patients is commonplace and understandable. After all, who would be happy being fated in such a debilitating condition? So you can imagine my surprise when one particular patient, instead of exuding depression, was radiating with exuberance.

“Good morning, Mrs. Smith. That’s a nice smile for a bright morning!” I said as I put her breakfast tray on the side table.

“I’m in a jolly mood because my daughter is visiting in the afternoon, and she’s bringing along the kids,” Mrs. Smith said.

I said that she was lucky for having a thoughtful daughter. She said she was glad that she had been a good mother and grandmother, having raised her family in a household where the younger ones could reason out and express their thoughts so long as they spoke out in a respectful manner. Because of this she was able to foster a mutually loving relationship in her family. She said that openness is very important. In Mrs. Smith’s story, we realize that one reaps in old age what one has sown in one’s youth.

To Stand by One’s Belief Is Pride; To Claim It to Be Better than Others’ Is Folly
I was at the cafeteria, having lunch, when a female visitor approached me and said if she could join me. I said, of course. That would be a pleasure, another opportunity to get an insight or two.

“Are you a vegetarian?” she asked.

My lunch was rice and steak, so perhaps she was not paying attention to what I was eating.

Hmm, no,” I replied.

Anyway, she began telling me about vegetarianism and gave me a handful of pamphlets about it. I was just listening—not because I didn’t know much about the practice but simply because a 30-minute lunch break was short for such a discourse. Break time was up; I had to go.

She uttered her parting words: “Give vegetarianism a try. You’ll see, you’ll become healthier.”

I have nothing against vegans, vegetarians, fructarians, pescetarians, or practitioners of any other kind of dietary practices. It’s their choice, and I respect it. However, what I don’t buy is when someone claims that her dietary practice, or any belief for that matter, is better than those of others. In Miss Vegetarian’s story, we realize that to stand by one’s belief is pride, but to claim this to be better than those of others is folly.

There! Two insightful stories weaved out of my conversations with two persons I randomly met during that Sunday work at Riverview Health Centre. All I needed was listen and pay attention to what they had to say and then sieve whatever lessons I could learn from such stories.

A good conversationalist does not only talk but also listen, pay attention, and give importance to what other people have to say.

Sa Madaling Salita
Ang tunay na alagad ng pluma ay hindi nauubusan ng mga kuwentong isusulat dahil palaging bukás ang kanyang diwa sa mga nangyayari sa kanyang paligid at lagi niyang binibigyan ng pansin at halaga ang mga sinasabi ng bawat taong kanyang nakakasalamuha.

Or, in Simple Words
A true progeny of the pen never runs out of ideas and stories to write about because he is conscious, perceptive, observant, and analytical of the things and occurrences around him. He also listens, pays attention, and gives importance to what other people have to say.

Is 2008 a Lackluster Year in Terms of Music?

by aLfie vera mella

[published in my music column, "Sa Ugoy ng Musika," in the January 2009 issue #1 of Filipino Journal, the leading Filipino-owned newspaper in Manitoba, Canada]

A year-ender article published in a particular music magazine claimed that 2008 was an uninteresting and lackluster year in terms of music. What! Did I read it correctly? Sorry, but I beg to disagree. I disagree. There, twice said. To a true music enthusiast, every year is as interesting as any other year when it comes to discovering music and rediscovering classics, simply because countless singles and albums—both by old and new artists—are being produced and released and reproduced and reissued each year. Whatever your taste in music is, for sure, there will always be something for you. Gone were the days when music lovers rely on mainstream radio to know what’s new out there. In the Internet Age, where we are now, all one needs is resourcefulness.

Being a music enthusiast, I download a lot of music. But I don’t stop there. Because I’m a music collector too, I still buy CDs especially of artists I like.

Here are 24 of the albums I bought last year to add to my record collection. These are just a minute fraction of all the records produced and released in 2008. Enclosed in the parentheses is my favorite song off each album.

file under Alternative Rock:
British Sea Power – Do You Like Rock Music? (“Waving Flags”)
Coldplay – Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (“Viva la Vida”)
The Cure – 4:13 Dream (“The Only One”)
Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes (“Ragged Wood”)
Keane – Perfect Symmetry (“Spiralling”)
The Killers – Day & Age (“Human”)
The Lucksmiths – First Frost (“Never and Always”)

file under Metal:
Death Angel – Killing Season (“Dethroned”)
Guns n’ Roses – Chinese Democracy (“Street of Dreams”)
Journey – Revelation (“Faith in the Heartland”)
Judas Priest – Nostradamus (“Visions”)
Metallica – Death Magnetic (“
The Day that Never Comes”)
Motörizer (“The Thousand Names of God”)

file under Pop:
Britney Spears – Circus (“Womanizer”)
Madonna – Hard Candy (“4 Minutes”)
Pink – Funhouse (“So What”)
Taylor Swift – Fearless (“White Horse”)

file under Filipino Alternative Rock:
Rico Blanco – Your Universe (“Yugto”)
The Camerawalls – Pocket Guide to the Otherworld (“Clinically Dead for 16 Hours”)
Kenyo – Radio Surfing (“Sana”)
Taken by Cars – Endings of a New Kind (“A Weeknight Memoir [In High Definition”])

file under Ambient/Electric:
Enya – And Winter Came… (“Trains and Winter Rains”)
Enigma – Seven Lives, Many Faces (“The Same Parents”)
Portishead – Third (“We Carry On”)

Final Note
No need to listen to the radio and wait for what’s new. All you need is resourcefulness. Just a google on the Internet lets you know if there’s something new from your preferred genre or favorite artists. There are also Web sites like Limewire, Multiply, and MySpace from which you can sample old and new releases before deciding if buying such albums is worth your hard-earned money.