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A world without mirrors

April 11th, 2006 4 comments

I have made a blog once about how our little ones can lead us in discovering life’s simple pleasures. I should say that it’s not only life’s simple pleasures but also great lessons in life.

Just this morning my baby Maia again led me into another great discovery. She insisted for me to sit with her and watch her favorite morning show at Nickelodeon Jr channel. There was this short musical cartoon (ala MTV) that really impressed me. It’s a song sung by the musical group Sweet Honey in the Rock about the influence adults have in forming attitudes of respect and wonder in their children and grandchildren.

No Mirrors In My Nana’s House
(Lyrics by Ysaye Maria Barnwell (c)1992)

There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house,
no mirrors in my Nana’s house.
There were no mirrors in my Na’s house,
no mirrors in my Nana’s house.
And the beauty that I saw in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).

I never knew that my skin was too black.
I never knew that my nose was too flat.
I never knew that my clothes didn’t fit.
I never knew there were things that I’d missed,
cause the beauty in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun);
…was in her eyes.

There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house,
no mirrors in my Nana’s house.
And the beauty that I saw in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).

I was intrigued by the cracks in the walls.
I tasted, with joy, the dust that would fall.
The noise in the hallway was music to me.
The trash and the rubbish just cushioned my feet.
And the beauty in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).
…was in her eyes.

There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house,
no mirrors in my Nana’s house.
And the beauty that I saw in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).

The world outside was a magical place.
I only knew love.
I never knew hate,
and the beauty in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).
…was in her eyes.

There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house,
no mirrors in my Nana’s house.
There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house,
no mirrors in my Nana’s house.
And the beauty that I saw in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).

“Chil’, look deep into my eyes.”
“Chil’, look deep into my eyes.”
“Chil’…”

Imagine it – a world without mirrors, where we would not see ourselves reflected as too anything – fat, skinny, plain, pretty, white, black, rich, poor. Perhaps if we were mirrored only in the eyes of those who loved and cherished us, we would have less need to put others “in their place” or to carry on with our prejudices, grudges, hatreds, and fears.

Indeed, we come to realize that we are more our children’s pupils than we are teachers to them. If only we follow what they teach us.

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Pachelbel Loaded

March 27th, 2006 6 comments

I love listening to Pachelbel’s Canon and all its versions. But this guy’s jaw dropping guitar rendition of Pachelbel’s Canon is kick-ass! It’s Pachelbel loaded and high on speed.

Watch this video and drool.

Ang lupit mo, Idol!!!

Move over Joe Satriani…

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Pasko sa Binilanggo

December 17th, 2005 65 comments

It’s now only seven days before Christmas. Everyone is off and ready for parties, reunions, exchange gifts, and assorted happy whatsoever. After all, Christmas is “the most wonderul time of the year” and everyone is supposed to be happy. Christmas time as a joyous and festive occasion comes to be accepted as a universal norm. And becuse of this state of mind, the joyful atmosphere of Christmas also serves as the most perfect backdrop for irony. In the midst of the season of plenty and celebration there are poor souls suffering from tragedies, despondent and languishing in silent misery. A lot of stories and songs have been made in this context, like the old classic movie, All Mine to Give, and the Band Aid song, Do They Know its Christmas.

There is one song that struck me deeply with this same thought. It is a Cebuano song I heard sung regularly by the istambays in our place in Iligan City during drinking sessions a long Christmastime ago. It is said that the song was composed by a prisoner whose name remain in legendary anonymity. Incarcerated away from his family and friends, he sadly wished them merry Christmas. The lyrics of the song depicts injustice, imparts a feeling of intense unhappiness and its melody is tuned almost like a melancholic lullaby. The song is aptly titled, Pasko sa Binilanggo (A Prisoner’s Christmas).

Pasko sa Binilanggo

Sa gikauban ko pa
Ang mahal nakong ginikanan
Inig abot sa Pasko
malipayon, masadya ang tanan.
Karon ay wala na
ang Pasko ko ay kagul-anan
ako karon ani-a na
sa mabugnaw nga bilanggo-an

Nabilanggo ako
sa kaso nga sanglit lamang.
Naapil sa Barkada
sa salang way nahibaw-an.
Wa nay mahimo pa
isa ako ka sentensyahan.
Bisan magbasol man ako
maoy badlis sa kapalaran.

Korus:

Meri Krismas na lang
Sa akong mga minahal
Sa akong mga kahigalaan
Sa malipayong puluy-anan
Ako may nag-antus
Wa magpaabot nga kaloy-an
I-ampo lamang ninyo ako
ug Meri Krismas na lang.

Meri Krismas na lang
sa mga tawong way kasing-kasing
nga nagduot kanako
aron ako mabilanggo.
Kanang pagduot nyo
ay ako na nga gikalimtan
ayaw kahadlok nga ikaw
ay ako nga pahimungtan.

A Prisoner’s Christmas

When I was still
with my loving parents
comes Christmas
we were all happy and joyful.
Now this is all gone.
My Christmas is just a misery
Here in a cold prison cell.

I was jailed for a petty reason
Implicated with friends
in a crime I didn’t commit.
I can no longer do anything
they have already sentenced me.
Though I regret
I surrender to fate.

Chorus:

Merry Christmas is all I can wish
to my loved ones
to my friends
to my happy home.
Even if I suffer
I do not expect to be pitied.
Just pray for me and may you
have a Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas is all I can wish
to the heartless people
who sent me to prison.
I have already forgotten
what you did to me.
And don’t be afraid
I won’t blame you.

This song strikes me not just because of its general emotional appeal. My heart hangs heavy with the thoughts of the thousands of Children languishing in our prisons today. According to the Coalition to Stop Child Detention Through Restorative Justice, in their petition to the United Nations, the number of small children as young as 8 years old in the Philippines who become victims of sodomy, rape and abuse for being imprisoned with hardened adult criminals has risen from 20,000 in 2003 to a soaring 52,000 in 2004.

On Christmas eve, imagine what happens to these Children in the midst of adult criminals and rapists celebrating Christmas inside their cramped, dark and cold prison cells.

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A new day, a new way, I knew I should see it along

September 23rd, 2005 Comments off

Four and twenty years ago I started singing the songs of Crosby, Stills and Nash or CSN as they are popularly known. CSN was my favorite during my teens when there’s so much time to make up everywhere you turn. My friends and I used to sing CSN songs in Our house, is a very, very fine house With two cats in the yard. During jam sessions CSN songs became our regular repertoire for more than Ten years singing right out loud I never looked was anybody listening?

Then Seems like something out of a dream I had years ago, yes I remember screaming Nobody laughing, all the good times Getting harder to come by without weeping as my friends and I parted ways to live our own separate lives. And as time passed, I was Moving through my changes as fast as I can. Yet through the years, I remained a simple man so I sing a simple song and continued Helplessly Hoping to remain a loyal CSN fan.

But what do you know? after a Long Time Gone, CSN is still alive and kicking! They are one person, They are two alone They are three together, They are for each other. It’s Daylight Again! Yes they’re older now, but Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry, So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

So Just a song before I go, To whom it may concern., knowing that they’re still around, The sky is clearing and the night has gone out. The sun, he come, the world is all full of light. Rejoice, rejoice, we have no choice but to carry on. .

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Come Fado with me

August 28th, 2005 2 comments

One of the rewards I get from having an internet connection is I can download a lot of free stuff. I get to download songs that are rarely found in our music stores. Thanks to Kazaa and Limewire. These two peer to peer programs allows you to search, download and share video and audio files. You just have to type the artist or the title of the song or video and voila you get a list a la carte of your favorite stuff for your downloading delight.

My latest find are selection of songs by artists I got to know only during my schooling in Amsterdam. Together with my school buddies, a mixed bag of German, Brazilian, Portuguese, French and African nationals, we used to hang-out in a pub near our dormitory at Willemsparkweg after classes. While drinking dark beer we listen to piped in music of various genres except for the MTV type pop, hip-hop, rap or the Britney Spears kind of trash. Although I don’t speak or understand Portuguese, but the melancholic melody of the Portuguese Fado and the soulful Morna completely enchanted me.

Fado is a type of folk music which most likely originated in the 1820s in Portugal. It is characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor. The music is usually linked to the Portuguese word saudade (a word with no accurate equivalent in English; being a type of longing, it conveys a complex mixture of sadness, pain, nostalgia, happiness and love), and its origins are probably from a mixture of African slave rhythms with traditional music of Portuguese sailors, with Arabic influence. Some theories say it was derived from Brazilian music styles like Lundum and Modinha.

Morna (Portuguese for mild) is a genre of Cape Verdean music, derived from Portuguese fado, but also related with Brazilian modinha. Lyrics are usually in Portuguese Creole, and instrumentation include cavaquinho, clarinet, accordion, violin and guitar. Though often compared to the blues, there is no historical connection between the genres, though there are coincidental similarities.

When I returned to the Philippines I tried looking for it at our local music stores but to no avail. Thanks to the internet, now I have found what I’m looking for. I was able to download a selection of songs from two contemporary Fado artists, Bévinda and Mariza and the world’s best known Morna diva, Cesaria Evora.


Portuguese vocalist Bévinda is one of the premiere performers of fado, her homeland’s intense, emotive folk music. Her 1998 album ,Pessoa em Pessoas, interpreted the poems of Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa into fado, exemplifying her devotion to her country’s traditions.

Mariza Nunes was born on December 16, 1976 in Mozambique. She moved to Portugal when she was three, and was raised in one of the most traditional quarters of Lisbon, Mouraria – Alfama, where she learned how to sing fado. Mariza is considered as a more contemporary follower of Amalia Rodrigues – Potugal’s reknown Queen of Fado music.

Cesaria Evora, born in 1941 in the port town of Mindelo on the Cape Verde island of Sao Vicente, is known as the barefoot diva because of her propensity to appear on stage in her bare feet in support of the disadvantaged women and children of her country.

Long known as the queen of the morna, she mixes her sentimental folk tunes filled with longing and sadness with the acoustic sounds of guitar, cavaquinho, violin, accordian, and clarinet. Evora’s Cape Verdean blues often speak of the country’s long and bitter history of isolation and slave trade, as well as emigration: almost two-thirds of the million Cape Verdeans alive live abroad.

Aside from the Fado and Morna, I was also able to download selections from two francophone greats, Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel and Latin songs by the dutch singer Laura Fygi.

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Don’t just read history, make history.

July 3rd, 2005 7 comments

Yes, I was able to watch the LIVE 8 concert shown Live at ABC 5 last night.

I’m proud to have witnessed a historical event where people around the world were united not only because of music but more because of a cause. A cause that seeks to make poverty history. Unlike the previous Live Aid concerts, Live 8 is not about raising funds to help Africa. Live 8 is part of a campaign to raise consciousness and pressure powerful leaders of countries who compose the G8 to make a stand in addressing trade justice, dropping the debt and more and better aid. On June 6, 2005, eight of the most powerful men of the world will meet in Scotland to discuss matters that affects lives and the future of the poor countries of the world. They have in their power to decide it, we have the power to press them to do so.

I stayed glued to the TV till near dawn watching the concert bridged and performed simultaenously in London, Paris, Rome, Philadelphia, Berlin, Tokyo, Moscow, Canada and Johannesburg. Many veteran musicians who performed are my favorites, Sting, Bono and U2, Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd, UB40, to name a few. But what made me endure the marathon concert was not much about the musicians and their music. It is the fulfilling sense of solidarity, of being part of a world united for the cause of humanity. That’s what kept me awake. That’s what gives me reason to struggle and live.

I support this campaign not because of its hype but for our contry’s sake. The Philippines is among the heavily indebted countries of the South. The poor and marginalized of our peoples are the ones who pay the most for the country’s debt. They pay for it with taxes and they pay for it through the social services that the government does not provide because it chooses to pay the debt.

The sun was almost up when I went to bed. I snuggled beside my baby in dreamless slumber, kissed her forehead and whispered to her, “You know baby, the great Nelson Mandela said tonight, “sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great”… I want to be part of that generation. A generation that will build today a brighter future for all the babies of the world like you my darling angel.”

Don’t just read history, make (poverty) history by taking a stand and signing up here: http://www.live8live.com/list/

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Soundtrack ng Buhay

May 30th, 2005 7 comments

Minsan ini-imagine ko kung sa totoong buhay merong soundtrack bawat galaw, kilos o emotion natin. Parang sa pelikula, habang tumitingin ka sa mga lumang pictures mo biglang tutugtog sa background ang “Old Photographs” ni Jim Capaldi; kapag may upakan o dispersal sa rally biglang tutugtog ang “Sunday Bloody Sunday” ng U2 ; pagpasok mo sa trabaho sa Lunes na may hangover ka pa, ang “I dont Like Mondays” ng Boomtown Rats o di kaya, pabiyahe ka sakay ng bus patungong prubinsya sa madaling araw at habang pinagmamasdan mo ang pagsikat ng araw sa palayan biglang tutugtog ang “What a Wonderful World” ni Great Satchmo. At kung bad trip ka na sa buhay, try mo ang kantang “Goodbye Cruel World” ng Pink Floyd.

Pero kagabi hindi sinasadyang maranasan ko ang ganito. Habang nanonood ako ng news tungkol sa panibagong iskandalo na involve na naman si FG Mike Arroyo biglang nagpatugtog ng napakalakas ang aming kapitbahay ng kantang Hari ng Sablay. Napangiti ako. Tumpak, ang buhay nga naman minsan parang sineng may angkop na soundtrack.


HARI NG SABLAY
(Sugarfree)
(click on link to listen)

please lang wag kang magulat
kung bigla akong magkalat
mula pa nung pagkabata
mistula ng tanga
sa’n – sa’n nadadapa
sa’n – sa’n bumababangga
ang puso kong kawawa
may pag-asa pa ba

(chorus)

oooh, (woah) ayoko ng mag sorry
oooh, sawa na akong magsisi
pasensya ka na
mabilis lang akong mataranta
ako ang hari ng sablay
ako ang hari ng sablay
hinding- hindi makasabay
sabay sa hangin ng aking buhay
hari ng sablay
ako ang hari ng sablay
ako ang hari, ako ang hari

isang tama sampung mali
ganyan ako pumili
‘di na mababawi ng puso kong sawi
daig pa ang telenovela
kung ako ay magdrama
ganyan ba talaga guhit ng aking tadhana (repeat chorus 2x)