Holy Shit! It’s Regression!

No bullshit here. I want to spill it out. I’m on the process of regression. Regression is defined as “the act or an instance of regressing [going/coming back]” [Merriam-Webster]

With the rise of technology and social media, many have thought of using these platforms as an escape, an outlet of regression. This includes me. With my personal “Regression” series, I will do a backtrack of what happened and predict what will happen, emphasize on what happened. But, I will not go back to 2003, my first real relationship; not go back to 1995, when I had developed an infatuation with a foreigner 4 years my senior (a Chinese girl); rather, I will start this series in the most turbulent year(s) of my life: high school. To be specific, 2006 and 2007, when I watched history unfold. I’ll start from March 2006 and go wherever my mind decides to go.

[Note: Specific dates not exact, except for the text messages (60+ of it are in my archive). Details are 95% correct. Despite me writing about my recollections of my high school love in the past, this is the most accurate, sans the dates, of how it happened in my perspective. All based on text messages from the archive. Sudden shifts in tenses are intentional.]

March 28, 2006, Tuesday:

My mom, still under “House” arrest because of the President’s order to detain them in jail for charges of rebellion, called me to visit her with my brother. Her jail is not much of a jail at all: it was the House of Representatives, where she works. The entrance of the House has a little garden near the South Wing building where I use to walk when I need some time for myself before all this shit happened. I am 15 and I am already emotionally wrecked because of a lot of things that affected me. Of course, this includes my mom’s “House” arrest.

February 25, 2006, Saturday:

I knew Ma would be celebrating the EDSA Revolution commemoration. I thought, hey, I’ll just read my copy of the “Little Red Book”. Little did I know, it was during this time that I watched history being made.

February 27, 2006, Monday:

Ma still haven’t returned home. I was not worried until I watched the news that night: “Solon protesters charged with rebellion!” One of them was Ma.

3rd week of March, 2006:

Last week of classes. I’m going to enjoy the summer break! But, hopefully, Ma would be free before the summer break ends. This “House” arrest of her by the little woman President has put a leash on us: I can rarely go out of the house just when I started to explore as a high school student, my brother goes home earlier even if he needed to stay at the University for long hours of plates [Fine Arts projects], Pa would call us if we don’t get home by 8PM, and no one should get out of the house without knowing where the rest are. Basic safety protocols already placed pressure on our, otherwise, “normal” lives.

March 24, 2006, Friday:

3:45PM – Last day of classes! I am watching the graduation practice of the grade 7 class from a bird’s-eye view. The second floor walkway is long, almost the same length as the main building of the school. I am standing near the grade 7 classroom, a faculty room, the library, an old detuned piano on my right, and a water closet on my left. The graduation practice of the grade 7 class is a little laid-back: it is, after all, the afternoon and everyone’s tired. My eyes are scanning my bus mates. I see Nicolo, the gay, and Cyril and Karla, best buds and conspirators for making Nicolo angry as fuck. I see David’s girl, Andrea, from afar. Lucky bastard got a young girl. Not that I want to but, what the hell, if given the chance, why not? I’m eyeing someone now from the same batch as her: actually, she’s her classmate! And, from my sources, her best friend, too! But, I don’t know her name. Ugh.

3:50PM – There are some projects and papers made by the grade 7 class. I’m scanning the patriotic shit these students wrote. I know there’s at least one paper with good writing here, come on!

3:51PM – A paper with a Philippine flag drawn on it is attracting me. It’s stupid, I know. But the handwriting is distinctly from a girl. It’s very neat! My god, better than everything I saw! What was written there, though, did not really make any mark on me. But, theirs is the most patriotic of what I read. It’s, actually, a plea to the President to be a good leader, et.al… how timely! The writers were “Laya, Kaye, and Faye.” I’m familiar with Laya and Kaye since Nicolo is friends or, in the case of Laya, acquaintances with them. I do not know this “Faye”. I became curious, too. I don’t know what she looks like. [Now that I think about it, I have not fully developed my little game of “Anong Pangalan ang Bagay sa Mukhang ‘Yan?” (“What Name Matches That Face?”) during this time. Shame on me.] I’ll just go back to the classroom, it’s almost dismissal time.

2nd week of April 2006:

I started to text Faye during this time. Actually, I was trying to be friendly. I had no real intention and was to “go with the flow”. I actually got her number from sources: Nicolo, David, and Karla and Cyril before the school year ended. They actually helped me to reach her. Weird, huh? I also did a bit of stalking around this time on Friendster, but I was having second thoughts about adding her because, by the etiquette of the social order, I don’t know her and she doesn’t know me. Texting her and not expecting a reply was a norm during this time. I distracted this expectation by playing the Playstation 2 with my brother or, more importantly, have a little bonding time with my mother by listening to music or play “Text Twist”.

The text I sent her, in question, was very simple: “Hi. I got your number from a friend from COLF. I want to be friends with you.”

Mid-April 2006:

Ma had some interviews piled up. It’s our third week of living in the House with Ma, who had been there officially since March. I took another chance in sending a text message to Faye, despite having apprehensions. While I was preparing the airbed, I received a text. It was from Faye. “Hello. Who is this?” A modest and honest reply. I forgot, for a second, that we both don’t know each other. “I’m Anton. A student of COLF.” She replied, to which I forgot what she said but I remember replying “Don’t worry, I don’t bite.” Her reply was a laugh. In my naïve way of thinking back then, I seriously thought she really laughed when I dropped that line. Well, I was right later on.

Late April 2006:

It was my last meeting with David. He was bound for the United States to live there for good. David was one of the people I made friends with when I entered the school 3 years ago. He was a damn good singer but a mediocre guitarist. It was alright, though. He has a knack for the latest and classic [not classical] music and he was open to other kinds of music. Moreover, he helped me to reach the impossible. As a parting gift, I told him I’ll buy his phone, a Nokia 3200, so I’ll have a remembrance of him. The phone still survives today.

Early August 2006 (undetermined part of the week):

I started to engage her in some talking. I still not have added her on Friendster, yet. It was something I considered a sacred place: Don’t add her until you feel it’s right. I kept on texting her, she kept on replying. It was as if our friendship was artificially made but was naturally occurring [Paradoxical, I know].

Early May 2006:

Ma was set free by order of the Malacanang Palace. But the charges of rebellion were still being lobbied by the Department of Justice. I thought that while physically, Ma is free… the government still has their eyes set on our every move. During the announcement of their freedom, I immediately texted Faye and another girl, an older girl named Kristen who I met during my shenanigans during second year. (To describe her briefly, Kristen was a pretty 21 year old girl [I was 15 during this time, remember this] and she likes anime and video games. I almost gave in to her but, I retracted. We lost contact with each other after I started talking to Faye.) Faye texted “That’s good to hear. :-)” Kristen called and shouted “Congratulations!” on the phone, almost destroying my eardrums. I started to pack up after Kristen’s call. Ma and her colleagues had a celebration at UP. Distracting me was the thought that the school year was about to start, it also gave me another apprehensive behavior: how will Faye and I interact in school? Son of a bitch.

Mid-June 2006:

The first week of classes. I did not want anyone to know that Faye and I were talking. I thought it was actually a big deal for all the right reasons:
1) There were many guys and boys who like her, including two of my busmates who are older than me
2) I did not want to jinx the developing friendship we have that time and
3) I am fucking shy!
Although, I had an inkling that Nicolo, Cyril, and Karla already knew what I was doing, they stayed silent as if approving what I was doing. But, something bothered me that time: Faye was not around. I had no one to talk to, at least on a level of being “myself”.

Early July 2006:

Still no sign of her. I overheard Nicolo about Faye being in New York. Ah, the Big Apple [Comedian George Carlin calls NYC the “Apple”]. I barely imagined her as the type of person fit for New York. I mean, NYC? Come on! But, hey, I did not mean to discriminate her.

October 8, 2006, Sunday:

(2:41PM) – “One time i said to myself, “if ever i was a guy, i’d wanna be anton. Hahaha!” – Faye
(2:42PM) – “That’s funny. Why? Haha!” – Me
(2:45PM) – “It’s very funny. I don’t know…i just thought about it one day. [It came again] Especially when you described yourself last night.” – Faye

October 7, 2006, Saturday:

“How about you? How would you describe yourself?” – Faye
“Me? Actually, I don’t know. I just let people define me. Some of my friends call me ‘mysterious’. Haha!” – Me

Mid-July 2006:

After a month of not being able to have to talk to Faye, I distracted myself by looking at pictures of her. I decided to check her Friendster, again. It was the nth time I checked her profile but I still have not added her.

Late July 2006:

I was happy to see Faye back in school. Secretly, it gave me some feeling of lightness. Weird. This guy who plays the “devil’s music” felt light because of a girl he wanted to know better.

August 2006 (undetermined part of the month): I started to text her again. I had not texted her since she returned to Manila.

“Welcome home. :-)” – Me
“Thanks. :-)” – Faye

And that’s where we started.

September 16, 2006, Saturday

4:46PM – “Aw…how nice. You are so sweet. Haha. Well I’ll stop asking questions already. It might be too “personal” already. Haha.” – Faye
4:47PM – “Haha. No. It’s okay. Personal questions are good. Haha!” – Me

September 17, 2006, Sunday

around midnight – “Happy birthday my feline friend. :-)” – Faye
around 1AM – “What is your wish for your birthday?” – Faye
“I always wish for world peace but i guess that’s impossible. So, I’d go for a girlfriend. Haha! I’m kidding.” – Me

We continued texting until we fell asleep. By this time, we were saying “good night” to each other. To me, it was weird, exciting, and sweet. For the first time, I felt something for a younger girl. [Having a history of preferring older women]

Mid-August 2006:

I was with the new girl, Nica, in the classroom. [Nica, during this time, professed being bisexual, coming from an all-girls school. Her demeanor was similar to a punk girl.] She wanted to know the boys better. Johann, Daryl, and Gab already set their intention(s) on her, albeit being in secret [except for Daryl who told me months after]. I could see right through them: I had an intention of making her my girlfriend, too. But, like Kristen, I retracted. Nica and I, at this point, are good acquaintances, bordering a stable friendship. She was asking me an obviously high school question: “Who’s your crush?” Being the guy who’ll easily give in to a girl friend, I told her by describing Faye: “She’s a freshman here. The prettiest.” I assumed she’d be observant or, more likely, her “radar” is properly calibrated since she came from Saint Scholastica. I went back to the open court.

3rd week of August 2006:

I noticed one of my classmates, Sam, instructing Raymarc for her Math project: tesselations of fish. My tesselations were almost finished because I had my motivation. I commented on Sam’s treatment to Raymarc, in a mocking way: “You made him your slave! You’re mean!” Sam retorted, “He wanted it!” Thus starting a friendship that I regret not starting when I first entered the school 3 years ago.
[Sam is one of the down-to-earth girls I know who, at the same time, has a high-class taste. As a guy, I was drawn to her physical features: big breasts, curves, round and firm ass, curly hair, and exotic look. Match those with her all-around good attitude! Raymarc, however, is one of the “math whiz” of the batch. Despite having odd social skills, he remains friendly to those whom he considers friends. He easily gets ticked off. Which most of my friends would use to their advantage.]
Sam and I became friends immediately, referring to her as “le friend”, with matching French accent. She was the first to know who my crush was by telling her the complete details, including the name. I remember telling Sam what I thought about Faye. “Nakakabighani siya.” [“She’s amazing.”] From then on, she’d refer to her, when talking to me, as “Bighani” which roughly translates to “[to] amaze”.

September 21, 2006, Thursday:

6:45AM – “Good morning, little Ysobel. Did you sleep well? :-)” – Me
[Ysobel is Faye’s real name.]
6:53AM – “Same as always. Weird. I dreamt about you. Haha.” – Faye

Late August 2006:

Faye and I have developed a friendship that I, at least, never expected to happen. We were similar in some aspects but our perspective with life always differ: She’s the optimist and realist, while I’m the cynical realist. [Looking back now, we both had the behavior of liking the ‘practical’.] I comically thought that we were opposites yet equal. Despite the difference in outlook in life, Faye showed brilliance and intelligence far greater for her age [13 years old], almost matching mine! She was also diligent with academics and always found time to practice her passion: theater arts. She can act, dance, and sing. A total performance artist.

While I was one of the “bad boys” of the third year class: Known by our teachers for being promising academic figures of the school with each person having their own specialties: one was good in Math, another in Science, another in English, another in Filipino, and me, the “Social Science” guy. Moreover, we were infamous for being called to the faculty lounge/purgatory, dubbed “107”, because of our shenanigans. And, we’d wait for the annual music event of the school to show our talent(s); the only time we were vulnerable.

This year was a bit different: I started to straighten myself up. Slowly making my way out of the dreaded Science Lab, where the high school students who are “incomplete” [seatworks, homeworks, projects not yet submitted] will never take the long exam until they become “complete”, I found a way to bypass the problem of not doing my homework: I started doing it with the seatwork. While the point of homework was defeated, it allowed me to think of my home as a home and not an extention of the school. Moreover, it made me have more time to talk with Faye. Which was, at that time, my main motivation. My friends followed suit. Daryl and I were the proponents of the new technique even though it was me who started it. But, I thought, what the hell. “We’re all going to benefit from it.”

October 3, 2006, Tuesday:

12:29PM – “Haha. Yeah. Man…you know you’re such a big influence. Haha. I find myself saying artisté and ‘what does that imply.'” – Faye

I was surprised when she texted me this. I forgot what I replied but, I know that I said I was both flattered and embarrassed.

October 6, 2006, Friday:

I posted on our home room bulletin board a picture of a fairy I used as a reference for one of my paintings. Faye said she had this affinity with fairies. I, being a researcher of the occult and mythical creatures that time, told her that I, too, had an affinity with fairies. I did not expect that, on that level, we had an understanding for mythical creatures despite how we both saw it.

October 3, 2006, Tuesday:

1:11PM – “Hahaha. Yeah. I’ll tell you a secret…i secretly wish i was one…or that they exist. It’s such a coincidence that you…have an understanding with them. Haha.” – Faye

October 6, 2006, Friday:

The picture I posted was intended as a “present” for her, for being a friend.

6:50PM – “Of course. I thought it would be hard to fine [sic] since i didn’t know what to look for. But i saw the fairy and…that was it. Haha. It was nice. Thanks.” – Faye
2nd Week of August 2006:

I decided to add her on Friendster after months of stalking her. Despite barely knowing each other during this time, I figured it was the right time. She accepted my request.

3rd Week of September 2006:

I was checking her Friendster and saw her profile picture. It was one picture multiplied by… 6. In the style of The Fool/Pop Art. I sent her a post: [non-verbatim] “Hey. Nice picture. Artisté!”

September 22, 2006, Friday:

9:53PM – “Haha. Especially about my picture…which you said was artisté!” – Faye
9:55PM – “Why? It’s true. I really like it. Especially the girl in the picture. Haha!” – Me

October 14, 2006, Saturday:

It was one of the “critical” days of our secret friendship. I dropped her hints that I like her, or, at most, have developed a crush or an intimate feeling for her. Despite that, I maintained my cool. I still called her, “little Ysobel”.

around noon – [non-verbatim] “You know, I start to look at you as my mentor.” – Faye
“Oh? Why? Haha!” – Me
1:02PM – “Haha. I don’t know. Seems like i know more things with sense ever since we started talking. And it’s what pops up in my head when you say, little ysobel.” – Faye

I was taken aback. In my mind, I was someone she respects. I never expected that. But, at the same time, I thought: “Shit. She only sees me as her mentor.”

3rd Week of October 2006:

The semestral break is near. Faye and I won’t be able to see each other for some time. The physical distance seemed so unreal even after having a connection through cyberspace. In the physical realm, I would always take a glimpse of her when I have the chance. She’d do the same. Sometimes, our eyes would meet and one of us would either look away, in embarrassment, or to smile. We had a weird interaction considering the fact that I had developed the intimate feeling I had for her a week before. I was apprehensive when she told me that she looked at me as her “mentor”.

I knew I had to do something to impress her: I started to write poetry. I was never the kind of guy who’ll adorn a girl with artistic works. I have always claimed to get a girl by letting them play my game [Will not expose what that game is.] But, the approach I made with her was the first time I did something beyond my comfort zone, on my own. I knew during this time that I don’t have a lot of influences for my poetry. My lack of influences was compensated by the raw emotions of my poetry for her. I would always say that “it’s shit!” but, I know, in my heart, that she’ll appreciate it. I edited most of them to my liking and gave my works to her. She would often read my poems and wisdoms and use them to her advantage. My “mentor” figure began to take shape at this point. I began to worry more. What I thought was something to impress her in a “I want to be more than friends with her, not just a mentor” way, turned out to be “ah, fuck!”

October 22, 2006, Sunday:

7:16PM – “Yeah…creativity is a fragment of illusion…hahaha. That’s genius anton.” – Faye

Give me a break!

October 28, 2006, Saturday:

I was at my dad’s IT school when we started to text each other. The morning conversations started at 9AM, quite late. But, it was the semestral break. My mood back then was kind of ticked: I was worried about my academic performance since I straightened up. After lunch, I decided to take my worries into the playful realm of feelings. I took the chance. After some conversations about crushes and outlook in love, I dropped the biggest hint.

Around 1:45PM – [non-verbatim] “You know, I think I don’t have a chance with you (talk about being straightforward!). Haha.” – Me
2:10PM – “Hm. Me too. I thought you wouldn’t have a chance with me (even more straightforward) too. But here i am, with a crush on you. Fuck.” – Faye

I was taken by surprise. All my expectations were bashed in the head by the words she said. I actually didn’t know what to say. The sudden surge of emotion dropped me off my seat.

2:15PM – [non-verbatim] “Shit. I don’t know what to do/say.” – Me
2:22PM – “Hm. The least you could do is make me feel better about what i just did. Damnit. i still feel so hesitant.” – Faye

I knew it was my cue to tell her that it’s going to be alright. I told her that I, too, have a crush on her. Alas, my effort paid off. But, the thought of me still being her mentor stuck… until now.

October 28, 2006 [nighttime]:

I went to Savannah Moon, Eastwood, for the “Baila! Baila!” dance event hosted by the school. I asked Faye if she’s going. She affirmed. I told her I was going, too. But, the world conspired in a stupid way: I forgot about her parents. [Details of her family will be kept secret here. Don’t worry, nothing really bad. It’s just for her sake.] We kept a safe distance that night, in Savannah Moon, but we exchanged glances. I looked away instantly. But, I smiled on my way out of the dance hall to catch some air.

Thoughts quickly entered my mind.

7:45PM – [Thought loop; no texting involved] “What should I do? I can’t call her now.”

At around 8PM, I left Savannah Moon… but not without taking a good look at her again. I left the premises with a smile on my face.

September 17, 2006, Sunday:

I’m happy waking up every day and recalling the last message we sent to each other, usually a “Good night. :-)” or, sometimes, a random statement from a completely random topic. Faye has some sort of charisma with her that I cannot resist. Her mixture of simple and complex made her more irresistible. That’s the problem. I may never find someone like that… ever. By this time, however, I felt more comfortable with her. Her way of thinking is, certainly, different from mine. But, that doesn’t mean she’s closed-minded. Coming from the same school certainly has its advantages.

November 18, 2006, Saturday:

11:25PM – “Hahaha. I feel….like i can talk to you and never ever stop. I feel like with you i can be who i really am even the things i hate about myself.” – Faye

October 29, 2006, Sunday:

Well, first day since Faye and I “confessed”. Funny how it all escalated to this. We were complete strangers for 3 years and now, we’re more than friends. How did that… happen? I miss the way we would glance at each other, secretly, before this happened. I wonder if she knew it. But, I sure knew.

November 18, 2006, Saturday:

11:57PM – “Weirdo, you think i don’t do the same?! I almost memorize your class sched, always looking for an excuse to go down and write about you almost all the time!!” – Faye

December 9, 2006, Saturday:

5:25PM – “Haha. Yeah. I always felt you were ‘different’ that’s why i wanted to know you better. Haha. Then i guess it is worth it… ;)” – Faye

Our pretense for being lovers had an effect on us. We became better people apart and we were like children as we had our “meeting” every morning [from 8:15AM – 8:45AM] and afternoon [4:15PM – whoever leaves first].

Indeterminable time 2006 – 2007:

Our time together, physically, has been restricted to mornings and afternoons. Sometimes, I would wait for her break time if my seatworks and/or projects let me to go out the classroom. Sometimes, she does the same thing. I really love the idea of being with her, physically. For the first time in my still-developing teenage life, my carnal desires were suppressed. It made me connect to Faye in a way that both of us will be comfortable with each other.

In the mornings, when she arrives at the expected time, usually 8:15AM, I wait for her to go down, because, well, I’m cooped in the classroom doing my homework or the previous meeting’s seatwork. I make sure that if she comes to the classroom, or our usual meeting place, the catwalk, I would have done my academic works and focus my time for her until the clock strikes at 8:40. At 8:40, in which we both have agreed that it’s the “magical 5 minutes” before we go to our respective classes, we will both exchange affirmations and some random topic(s). Funny how we managed to do that. Then, usually, at 8:43, we will both walk to her home room class then we’ll part ways. It has always been my habit to let go of her at the very last feeling of keratin and I always look back at her before I go down to my home room class. I wonder if she noticed those details.

April 9, 2007, Monday:

12:57AM – “Haha. I like it when you drum your fingers on my back. I like it when you bend down to listen to me whisper to you. Damnit anton..think of a classier love song!” – Faye
1:21AM – “Hahaha! How nice.. ‘baby v’..oh yeah. ..you do? Eh..i know i’ll never succeed. ..mm, i like it when you remove the hair covering my face. I like the way you only let go at the last finger.” – Faye
1:29AM – “Really? Shit why don’t i remember that! So..you like gabriella huh..haha. Oh.. look at her name…haha. ..i like it that you always ask about my day. I like it when you look back when we part.” – Faye

April 9, 2014, Wednesday:

Shit! She knew!

Early to Mid-December 2006:

The air in school was different. It was the spirit of Bonfire again. I never performed as a member of any band there. It was, after all, the highlight of the year. The Christmas Bonfire that I have attended for a total of 12 years, since my brother studied there, became a spectacle for parents and their children to gather and talk. Most of them were invited to sing and/or dance with the teachers… usually after the program proper, when the bonfire is lit.

I wondered: what will happen between me and Faye?

December 6, 2006, Wednesday:

“Happy Birthday, my little Ysobel! :-)” By now, calling her “my little Ysobel” or “my little one” [to ascertain her that she’s the only one I have] have become a standard. She would sometimes call me “Antoine” or, rarely, “Gab” [a name I didn’t like people calling me; but I gave her the right to] but, she preffered Anton. It was all right.

We didn’t celebrate her birthday but I made it special, at least, for her: I gave her poems of undying faithfulness and affirmation of love. I slipped in some poems of doubt, too. But, it was all natural. We were both gifted writers and thinkers at that time. With her being the muse of my art, she fuelled me at my most creative.

Late 2006:

The start of the “AFC” series of poetry and letters I sent to her/kept for myself. Being simple-minded, I conjured AFC as an abbreviation of our relationship, in poetry/letter form: “Anton-Faye Chronicles”, followed by its corresponding number [eg; “AFC-001″] It was, at the time, my baby that I decided to give her because I felt she’d be more assured with what I’d say, given our physical restrictions. It worked.

December 19, 2006, Saturday:

Christmas Potluck and Bonfire. Our class was slated to dance for the Bonfire, as per annual tradition of all batches performing. Of course, Faye had her performance with her batch, and another with the committee she had joined, the Performing Arts committee. Before the Bonfire, the Potluck was a hit. Daryl brought with him yet another peculiar object: a can of corn. The rest of the class ordered pizza, chicken, and sweets. While I maintained that I’m poor. Of course, I just didn’t tell my mom about the Potluck. The whole festivities of the Potluck lasted until, at most, 4PM. After that, preparations for Bonfire took place. I would look for Faye during that time and would be bummed out if I didn’t see her. My only company aside my usual group of friends was Sam and Nica.

Sam, having been the first to know that Faye and I have had confessed to each other, was the one who urged me to go look for her. But, I insisted. I stayed in the classroom where the performers would wait. Since the room was mainly occupied by me, Nica, Sam and my friends, with most of them going in and out of the room, it took some time before I gave myself a little trouble.
When the others left me and Sam in the room, I kissed her on the cheek. She was flustered. I smiled. She asked me why I did that. I told her, directly, and without stuttering, that I had a crush on her [never told her that it was also to make ends meet] Sam told me, in a soft way, that I should not do it again because I already have a girlfriend. [So, was she implying…? Now that I think about it, would it be different if I didn’t pursue Faye and went with Sam instead? Oh well. I already made my decision at that time.] The kiss never made things awkward between us. We still remain friends until now.

The time has come to start the Bonfire. As always, the younger batches performed first, working up with bands in-between. Our batch was near the closing, the latter half of the program proper. Faye’s performance was finished and she’s free to do what she wants. She stayed with her friends while waiting for me.

After our performance, I immediately looked for Faye. I texted her where she was. We met backstage, with my friends which, in turn, became her acquaintances and friends. She was a participant in my realm: She took pictures when we went to room 106 and talked to the girls of the group, later dubbed as “La Familia Perfecto” or “La Fa”. “La Fa” was a small “fraternity” consisting of select students from all high school levels. We usually bonded through music and our notoriety. There was no idea of a leader but, definitely, Kyu was the one who led us. The girls, sans Faye, were mostly my batchmates who were close to the 4th year boys. After the brief meeting with “La Fa”, Faye and I stayed at the high school corridor. A song was being played through the monitors: it was Bonnie Bailey’s house hit, “Ever After”. I heard Faye singing it and, surprisingly, she was smiling while she was singing it. I did not ask her who she dedicated that song to but, judging at how she sung it [low-volume, sultry voice] it could’ve been for me. The song is now a part of my EDM playlist.

Alas, the night drew to a close. I had to go home. I was with my father who, then, was working with the Quezon City government and he just had to pick me up. Faye accompanied me to him. I introduced her. My father smiled. That was that. I texted her when I got home and we both said our good nights.

December 25, 2006, Monday:

Around midnight – “Merry Christmas, my love/my little one/my little Ysobel! :-)” – Me
1:29AM – “Haha. I wasn’t expecting that. Merry christmas my love. It just…isn’t so merry this year. Hm.” – Faye

[She told me about her problems. For her sake, if ever she reads this, I’ll keep it a secret.]

9:27PM – “Oh anton. That’s the only thing I needed to hear. That’s why im always hesitant. Im afraid you’ll tire of waiting with all these limits [parents, academics, et.al – Me].” – Faye

January 2007:

New Year! Back to school! I was fresh with ideas and all the things I needed to write. During this time, I was about to compose a song for her. I did it before with “The Perfect Poem” which I conceived months before our confession. It was borne out of an idea that I’ll put chords and melody into it. It never materialized but I sent it over to someone who could do it for me. It became a Christmas hit single… in Japan back in 2006. The lyrics revised a little and added some verses, the title changed [“Kimi no Suki na Uta” – “The Song You Love”] and became a song by the Japanese rock band, UVERworld. I was not given credit but I accepted it. I got a free copy of the single and the album “BUGRIGHT”. [Weeks later, it would be revealed to me by one of my uncles, to whom I sent the words, that the lead singer of the band is actually a distant relative. Upon knowing this, I forgave myself for thinking I won’t get any credit for the poem.] At this point, there was a line that separates poetry and music. I’ve never wrote poetry in its purest sense. I wrote lyrics, something I can sing to someone. [Of course, that line began to blur as my mind expanded.]

An excerpt of what I wrote:
“The tone of your voice when you talk, where you look, and even what you say to other people
Those little things captivate me
I hope you feel the same, that your answer is here too
If only the miracle I’ve been waiting for would happen here”

It went untouched in the published version. And I maintain that this is the exact translation of the verse.

February 2007:

We were facing our first problem: I was preparing for the school fair, the exam, and the formation the band, Tejaks, on stage. Tejaks was composed of me [bass], Tron [my closest friend; vocals], Johann [my best friend; lead guitar], Jethro [Faye’s classmate; drums/percs], and Pappu [a second year friend of ours; rhythm guitar/keys]. I became a bit irritable. It affected our relationship. She sent me a letter. Then, I came to my senses. I said sorry.

March 10, 2007, Saturday:

3:46PM – “Hahaha. *smile smile sile* i really really don’t regret anything about you.” – Faye

Early March 2007:

We had another problem. But, the details of which is now a blur.

January 12, 2007, Friday:

Sam’s birthday. Me and my friends promised her a one-year celebration. Funny, I know. But, the idealist group gave her something on the first day: a box of cake and a tub of ice cream, which, of course, we all shared. Faye asked earlier if Sam liked dogs. I told her “Yeah. She’s a dog person.” She gave Sam a dog keychain. It was a good gesture between friends.

On that same day, just near the open court, Faye and I were standing side-by-side. Sam took a picture of us, although it was overexposed. That picture still survives in my archive.

March 18, 2007, Sunday:

9:35PM – “Hahaha. That sounds softer than.. The ‘don’t know don’t care’ attitude. I like that. Good night baby… hahaha! I love you […] sleep well. :)” – Faye

March 22, 2007, Thursday:

9:19PM – “Yeah..before, caring for someone seemed like some curse. With you it really isn’t. Because you always do the same. Finally, you make me feel..hm, safe.” – Faye

Early February – Mid February:

Preparations for Himig ng Kabataan, or Himig, were in place. This event was intended to showcase the musical abilities of COLF students and alumni. I’ve played in that event since I entered the school. This year is a bit different: Now that David left us, my New Wave cover group disbanded. In turn, Johann formed Tejaks with me, Tron, Jethro, and Pappu. Our motif was simple: guitar legends. We practised Steve Vai’s “Giant Balls of Gold” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” With Tron leading the vocals on the Hendrix number, our group was, in every sense of the word, complete. The band was solid in terms of chemistry, and our ideas flowed naturally.

Late February 2007:

The Himig gig came after the “Multiple Intelligence Fair”. Being a progressive school, COLF patterned itself after the Piaget belief of enriching the multiple intelligence of a child. And this “fair” became the epitome of that belief. There were many “Smarts”, as the school would call each discipline, to join. But, the school limited it up to two “Smarts”. I, obviously, joined the “Music Smart” group. This year’s gimmick: music lessons. I was put into the task of teaching children how to play the bass. I immediately took the task.

A stage was set up for the Music Smart and another Smart group to use. Mainly, the stage was for Himig. Me and some of my groupmates and bandmates were on the stage to set up our equipment. The bass set up was minimal: bass, cable, amp. No instruments were fed to the mixer console yet. As soon as we finished setting up, we waited for students. Some of my groupmates left the stage because of their classes, leaving me and another groupmate to secure the spot. We both waited for students.

I saw a group of kids, probably in grade 6 or grade 7, approaching the stage. Finally, someone interested in learning music!

One of them approached me: A long-haired wonder. He looked like Andrea, Faye’s best friend. [I found out later that he’s Andrea’s little brother!] He wanted to learn the intro riff of “Master of Puppets”. I obliged despite not learning the song. I got him to learn finger dexterity and a little finger flexing exercises for him to reach the frets [“Master of Puppets” intro uses the first four frets of the bass neck, making it a bit difficult for small fingers to reach]. When we got to the fast part of the song, where the fingers will do some extending and dexterity, he found little difficulty with it, except for the speed. He told me it was the warm-up that did the job. He never approached learning the song after warming up [because he knew none of it]. I told him it was my pleasure to be of help for him and told him, honestly, that I didn’t know how to play the song. I had to make face just for him to learn the part he wanted to learn. He laughed and said “thanks.” This interaction with the boy would make an impact on me years after.

Two more students later [one learned “Blitzkrieg Bop” and the other, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, another song I haven’t learned but taught with knowledge on how to play it on the guitar. Bassist cheat mode!] I sought for Faye. If my memory serves me correctly, Faye joined a peforming arts “Smart”. I wasn’t sure what it was, though. [I may be wrong, shit!] But, I remembered that I still had class after the bass lessons. I quickly resumed my student life.

Late February (possibly February 23, Friday) 2007:

The Multiple Intelligence Fair has ended. The highly-anticipated music event was about to start. Tejaks will perform as the “transition” band between the “soft” bands and the “heavy”/alumni bands. I was slated to be the bassist with the band Kyu formed, with some “La Fa” members, called “Granada”, too. I was estatic. I treated Faye with a ticket so she could watch me perform [She told me before that she had not watch me play, despite being in the same school.] I was about to sing a German song but Tron and I dropped the idea because we only had days before the performance. So, Tejaks stuck with the “Guitar Legends” theme. Granada, however, planned a grand entrance: an entourage of “La Fa” members, one of them carrying an improvised flag, and, during the performance, a rotating bassist format, each bassist playing one song each. I played “Feuer Frei!” by Rammstein with “La Fa” creating a scene.
Indeterminable time (Possibly December 2006 or January 2007):

Faye let me borrow her diary. It was a hardbound black notebook which contained her intimate thoughts. There were poetries she wrote for her past loves and for me [written on the upper-right corner of the pages were either the letters “J” or “A”, the “A” was written in my adopted symbol: the “Star of Amuro Ray” from the anime “Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack”] Most of the “A”-labeled poetries/write-ups were considerably mature in writing style compared to those labeled “J”. Her diary was symbolic for me. Here was a girl, completely unknown before August 2006, who wrote the most mature poetry for her age.

Written there, too, was my class schedule. She wrote my class schedule! I seriously laughed when I read it in my room.

April 10, 2014, Thursday:

Now that I’m looking back at certain “artifacts” from seven or eight years ago, I am thinking of getting from Faye that black notebook. In exchange for poetry I never gave her. HAHAHA! Moreover, I gave her a black notebook which had some writings in it. Covered in anime magazine cutouts, the pages were also black; it needed a metallic gel pen for the writings to be seen. I wonder now if she wrote anything in it.

March 23, 2007, Friday:

5:59PM: “What what what! Ahahaha! I can’t believe it…sobra kasi akong ‘nabakla’ kanina i forgot to sa la la la i love you back! Ack!” – Faye

During the course of our relationship, we had our little quirks. It’s funny thinking about it now, as then. The memory of us being “children” and me acting like one to understand her (after all, the age difference was clear).

Exam week was approaching and this week was straining her. While I didn’t panic. In terms of academic excellence, Faye was the perfectionist while I was the carefree student who just wanted to pass my subjects.

11:18PM: “Super. I don’t think my brother will be falling asleep soon. So i think i’ll go ahead. You rest na rin. Good night antoine. I love you i love you i love you. Thank you..for helping me get through this week. :*” – Faye

Indeterminable time (Probably January or February 2007):

Faye and I were at the catwalk, her past love visited the school. While I maintained my cool, I felt a little doubtful and jealous. Was she only using me as a phase? To ease my doubts, she kissed me on the cheek. It was the first time she did so. Up until then, we only held hands. It was a big deal to me at the time, being two people who didn’t want to display our affection in public. It also marked something in me: the thought of being with her as something I can think forever. Yes, that time, I believed that she’s the one. [Refer to September 17, 2006]

March 24, 2007, Saturday:

2:04PM – “Hi! Hahaha. What are you up to? I woke up in a real good mood to your text this morning.” – Faye

The message I sent her that morning, in which she woke up hours later, was me telling her something about my love for her on top of the usual “Good morning”. Haha. Yeah, I was a really cheesy guy back then.

March 25, 2007, Sunday:

9:25AM – “I dreamt about you. It was raining [we had a penchance for rain and the full moon.], so much people. And i really wanted to be alone with you. But there was always someone else. Hm.” – Faye

Indeterminable time (Probably Late February – Early March 2007):

By this time, I have already told her about some of my ex-girlfriends. She was jealous about them, given the obvious age gap: they were older than I. But, I assured her that she’s the one I love.

March 25, 2007, Sunday:

9:48AM – “I don’t know. But…i did begin to imagine things. Maybe that’s why i panicked. I was thinking too much about you and things that would never happen. I know it sounds untrue. But it is real.” – Faye

After affirming her that things will remain the same…

11:44AM – “Good. That’s just how i want you to be antoine. :*” – Faye

And…

9:06PM – “Hahaha! Hell yeah you made me happy…i don’t ever want to be the first to give you up know…because last night…i was also ‘thinking’ and surprisingly what you said to me this whole day…proved me wrong. And i’m so thankful for that.” – Faye

March 30, 2007, Monday:

Last day of the semester. Summer break, yet again! It was so different from the previous year. For one, Ma’s out of the House arrest. And two, it was almost exactly this time that Faye and I were complete strangers. Talk about time flying fast!

Every end of the school year, the school has a sem-ender perogram. I don’t remember exactly now what it was but it was something like Bonfire. Of course, Faye had performed and our batch did, too. After our performances, I met up with Faye at the grotto, at the back of the open court. The grotto was a place with some plants strategically placed on some big rocks where students would sit down and talk/study in the daytime. During night time, though, things were a lot more different. Those plants became a cover for those who wanted to sneak a little private time, especially couples. It was a haven for them especially when there’s an event in school that lasted until midnight. Faye and I were no exception. Although we were with her friends, we did manage to be together for a little while. It was something I will never forget. After talking with her, sitting down on one of the big rocks, we stood up and hugged each other. Then, at the very last second of our hug, I decided to kiss her on the lips. It was the first time I did so. We kissed for about some time and I begged for a “souvenir” [another kiss] but she denied. I was a bit sad but I understood. Time was not on our side at the time, and both of us had to part ways again. Our night ended with us texting each other.

8:53PM – “I love you anton…it may not seem like it but i enjoyed every second of your kiss. I was just so scared na may makakita. I hope you get home safely and try to sleep tonight baby.” – Faye
11:10PM – “I’ve been dreaming about you more often these days. But i haven’t told you that we always kiss in my dreams. Haha! See..i shouldn’t have let go of you!” – Faye
11:14PM – “You…are actually..my first kiss. *giggle*” – Faye

[Note: I had this habit that developed way before I met Faye in which I could not sleep at all. This still happens to me today although it happens less. But, before, especially after what happened on March 30, I couldn’t sleep at all! After that, I was up for two straight days. Returning my body clock temporarily the night after.]

That time with her at the grotto was something I wanted to loop forever.

April 4, 2007, Wednesday:

12:57AM – “Fuck you. Don’t say that. I love you ok? I love you i love you i love you i love you. Don’t leave me ok? Don’t leave me. New mantra for both of us baby.” – Faye

During this time, I was doubtful again. But, I assured her that I love her and won’t leave her. It was a turning point in our relationship. She held on until the end.

April 20, 2007, Friday:

Andrea set Faye and I on a date. I had summer class so I told Andrea that I could make it. It was weird. My uncle visited from Singapore en route to the US [He was working at the US Navy back then] and stayed in our house since last week. This day was his last day and then he’s off to the US. He gave me a little something that surprised me: money. I was suppose to ask my mom for extra money for my date with Faye but my uncle gave me 1000php, which was big at the time, and told me to go spend it on a date. It was as if he knew what I was suppose to do with it.

Getting hyped with the date, I immediately went to school for the summer class. I honestly wanted the class to end fast so I can go to the mall and have our date.

After the class, I went straight to the mall. Waited for them, Faye and her friends, to come. I was nervous. It was, after all, our first date outside the school. Being the older one in the relationship, I did not know what to do. My hands were shaking.

When they arrived, we did a little arcade. I was a bit pissed at the time, mainly because I did not know what to do. It was stupid. Looking back now, I’m very ashamed of what I did. Then, after that, we went straight to the cinema to, obviously, watch a movie. She treated me to watch a horror flick [If I remember correctly, it was a movie starring a young Dakota Fanning]. She knew I’m not really fond of the movies and that’s why she treated me. I actually insisted that I should treat her but, she denied. I thought of another way to treat her that’s when she said that we should wait at the nearby coffee place. That was my cue. The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf had some desserts that Faye wanted. I told her, and she instantly agreed, that I should pay for this one. She ordered Blueberry Cheesecake, which happens to be my favorite. [Believe it or not, the receipt is still with me! But it is barely readable.]

Then, we went to watch the movie.

After that, while waiting for Faye to be picked up, we talked a little. About family, about life, about my day. It was fun. Talking to her that way, I really had a genuine smile on my face. After that, we parted ways.

April 10, 2014, Thursday:

I was really nervous back then. I tried my best to keep my posture but, again, I did not satisfy my own “perfectionist” attitude. Coupled with inexperience with younger women, I told myself that the next time Faye and I were to date, it would be different. There was no next time.

May 1, 2007, Tuesday:

It was Labor Day. I joined my mother in the festivities during that day and I decided to take pictures [I was already practicing photography almost the same time I met Faye who, coincidentally, was practicing the craft as well!]. I took about 300 pictures and was satisfied with the outcome. I thought of uploading most of them on the internet [Multiply] but something happened:

Faye had her Parent-Teacher Conference (PTC).

Although I was not informed by Faye about the details of her PTC, I knew it contributed a little to what happened next: the once-evitable break-up. My world was devastated. It created a void in which no human can fill. An emotion so dark and hollow, no one can touch it. I cried for days, weeks, even months. Until I decided not to cry anymore. I kept her writings and doodles in a green folder that I still have today. If I wanted to feel anything, I’d check that folder out. I call it my Black Box.

Post Script (April 10, 2014, Thursday):

It was a curse seeing her in school during the 2007-2008 school year in which I was graduating from high school and coincidentally, her sister was also graduating from grade 7! Imagine when she greeted me on my birthday and she had to go to my homeroom class before 8:45AM to do that. It took her a lot of effort to do that feat. I was amazed and angry at the same time. But, I had to keep my composure. Imagine, too, when I found her black notebook on top of a cabinet in our homeroom after class. I took it home instead of giving it to a courier [Nicolo] and thought about burning it or ripping it to pieces. But, being the good guy that I was, and still am, I returned it to her the very next day. I still regret not keeping that black notebook when I had the chance. Imagine when she approached me the day after the Batasan bombing took place, asking me about my mother. Imagine when graduation day arrived. I had to keep a playlist in my head consisting of the following songs just to calm me down on that day:

1) The Verve – “Bittersweet Symphony”
2) Bobby Caldwell – “Heart Of Mine”
3) Tears For Fears – “Mad World”
4) Astrud Gilberto – “The Girl From Impanema”
5) The Beatles – “Yesterday”
6) A Perfect Circle – “3 Libras”
7) Nine Inch Nails – “Hurt”
8) Bonnie Bailey – “Ever After”
9) Gyskard – “Pink Life”
10) Steve Vai – “Firewall”

I had no idea what college would bring me after experiencing the past two years in both its ups (March 2006 – April 2007) and downs (from May 2007 until April 2008). But, the Pontifical and Royal University opened up another avenue for me: the possibility that another one like Faye would show up. I’ll reserve that story for my next chapter in this “Regression Series”.

I was used as a case study about music and emotional wellness of a musician

About 5 months ago, I was interviewed by my bandmate and a Psychology major at school. Their topic was about the emotional wellness of a musician. Leaning towards music therapy, the study (I was shown the whole paper) aimed first at how musicians live their daily life. Since the interviewer became my bandmate, he already knew my lifestyle in school. But, during the course of the interview, he found another side of my musicianship and personality. Here’s the case study and will be followed by the transcription of the interview.

Case 3

Tony is a regular college student. His sleeping patterns are well connected with whatever his schedule dictates. As soon as he wakes up, Tony usually fiddles with the radio. He always finds time to listen to the news and update himself with what’s happening in our country. Before he gets ready for school, he always allots a few minutes to listen to FM radio to find out what kind of music are in the mainstream. He usually wakes up an hour before his first class everyday so after those few minutes, he turns off the radio and leaves for school.

At school, Tony always has free time in between classes. At these times it is either he visits his girlfriend or he finds company with his schoolmates. Whenever he finds his time alone, he always listens to his mp3 player and seems to fiddle with the melody with his hands. When his break is longer than expected, he always finds himself looking for a guitar to play with or to eat outside. Most of the time while in class, he puts one earphone to his ear and plays soft jazz to help him relax.

Tony is like one of the usual college students. Without homework and such, he always finds time to hang-out with friends or go home with his girlfriend. When going home alone, he always plays his mp3 player, especially on commutes. If he is with his girlfriend or any other company, he always has one earphone on his ear to listen to either Metal or Jazz to help hm set his mood.

After school, as he arrives home, he goes straight to his room and surfs the internet. He usually tries to catch up on his social networks like blogs and Facebook, but most of the time, he goes through his favourite songs in youtube and studies them. The way he studies them is that he watches the bands’ live performances and emulates the tracks on his guitar or his bass. At this time, he usually invests a good 1 and a half hour to practice music and heads to sleep before 10 pm.

Tony’s musical experience could be traced from his childhood. His mother played the violin and that made Tony curious about string instruments. He bought his first guitar before highschool and sticked to mastering it until now. He had been playing for 10 years during this study and that is projected through his knowledge on music. Tony’s musical experience also shows his ability to identify chords and melodies and even tamper on scores. He has been a part of more than 8 different bands and had recently left a semi-pro band to finish school. Now, he is a solo instrumentalist that helps other bands and plays session with them.

For Tony, music for a musician has 2 sides, the artist side and the business side. The artist side dictates the feelings and emotions he considers as expressions that his music shows. He believes that in order to get better in music, he must be better emotionally. He also believes that music is an art form therefore an expression of emotion. On the other hand, for him, music’s business side is about time and money. He believes that the time and money you invest on music is very important as a musician. His mind is set on to different aspects on music which showed the researcher the extent of Tony’s emotional wellness.

The researcher, as part of Tony’s recent band, saw a slight improvement on Tony’s music but saw an even bigger improvement on his behaviour. As Tony got older and more experienced, he seemed to be more in control of his responsibilities and emotions. The researcher realized that with the experience that Tony showed, as a musician, he has shown a certain level of emotional wellness greater than other artists. Tony’s behaviour seemed to be more calmed and calculated compared to his past self who seemed to be irritable and restless. Tony seemed to have realized that letting his emotions run amock made him lose the integrity of his music.

At the end of the study, the researcher concluded that Tony may have a certain level of emotional wellness but was not only shown in his music but in his behaviour as well. Also, being emotionally well means being aware of one’s feelings and being ready to accept them. Tony, with his experience to boot, showed that his music not only improved his attitude towards the craft but allowed him to balance his emotions and somehow learn to control his expectations.

While the interview took about 10 minutes, the transcription sent to me was botched. Although, when I read it, it did not lose the meaning of what I wanted to say. Here’s the transcription of the interview. Enclosed in brackets is the translation and additional data that was omitted in the transcription stage.

October 17 ,2013 12:20 – 12:58 pm Interviewee #3 (I3)

Me: Good afternoon! I am Jayvee Vigare of Kalayaan College and thank you for participating in this interview. This interview is about the role of music on a musician’s emotional wellness. I am going to ask you a few questions and please answer as truthfully as possible. If you find a question too personal and you would rather not answer it, please feel free to call my attention to it.

I3: Sige sige! Maraming salamat din sa opportunity! *calmed and focused*

Me: Sige start na tayo! First question, what do you usually do when you wake up first thing in the morning?

I3: Uhm…*got into deep thought* *kept the serious mood* Usually kase pag gising ko konti lang oras ko before ako mag-ayos para sa school. Pero usually, nakikinig ako ng FM radio agad para maki-uso sa balita then makikinig ako ng music stations para ma check kung ano mga uso ngayon. (Usually, when I wake up, I only have a little time before I prepare for school. But, I make it a habit to listen to the radio to keep up with current events and music.)

Me: Ok ok. So are you happy with your current lifestyle?

I3: Well I can’t say na masaya ako ngayon. Or with what is happening currently, pero meron kaseng dalawang side jan eh. Una is ung fact na hindi pa ako tapos sa school diba? Tapos nag shift out pa ako ng ibang course. So medyo hirap pero thinking ahead, mas towards positive naman ako. Ung other side naman jan is ung hopefulness sa music. So bale nag eexpect parin ako na umarangkada sa music so think positive parin. (Well, I can’t say I’m happy right now [the interview proper]. Or, with what is happening currently [I got in an argument with my now-ex-girlfriend], but there are two sides to that: First is the fact that I’m still a student and I shifted to another course. It’s difficult but, thinking ahead, I’m aiming towards the positive. On the other hand, I’m still hopeful about (my) music. So, I expect to continue making music that’s why I’m thinking positive.)

Me: Ok so can you say that you’re a happy person?

I3: Well, ngayon I can say na masaya akong person eh. (Well, I can say that, generally, I am a happy person.)

Me: How do you explain this?

I3: Well kita mo naman may girlfriend ako ngayon then I still have my music tapos I may take up a lot of time sa college pero slowly and steadily naman maayos ang daloy eh. (Well, you know I have a girlfriend, then I still have my music [not really creating music but discovering new music] although I may take up a lot of time in college, my life is moving slowly and steadily.)

Me: Since nadito na rin tayo sa topic na yan, what made you start music?

I3: Actually yung mom ko eh. Yung mom ko kase dati violinist. So minsan sinusubukan ko itry then eventually I started playing na yung guitar. Nag escalate na from there na nag start ako mag bass. Actually 10 years na ako ng aaral ng music at nagpapractice pero para sa akin marami pa akong bigas na kakainin. (Actually, it’s because of my mom. She was a violinist [practicing chops and chords]. So I got curious and tried it then, eventually, I started playing the guitar. It escalated from there and then I started to play the bass. I’ve been studying and practicing music for 10 years but I still have a lot to learn.)

Me: So ang influence mo sa music is family agad. (So, your family is your influence in music.)

I3: Apparently, yes. *kept serious demeanour*

Me: Ok ok, so how do you take criticism in your music?

I3: Anong klaseng criticism? Good or bad? (What kind of criticism? Good or bad?)

Me: Both naman. Pero more of, how do you take it? Ano nararamdaman mo? (Both. But more of how do you take it? What do you feel about it?)

I3: Well sa akin naman kase, lagi naman ako maki-criticese eh. Hindi naman kase ako perpektong musikero. Pero syempre ang bad criticism ay bad criticism. Hindi lang natatanggal sa utak ko na kailangan ang bad criticism para sa improvement ko as a musician. (Well, I know I always get criticsized. I’m not a perfect musician. But, of course, bad criticism is bad criticism. I make it a point that I need bad criticism for my improvement as a musician.)

Me: So reinforcing siya for you pero nasasaktan ka parin sa pagtanggap ng bad? (So, it’s reinforcing for you but you still get hurt in accepting bad criticism?)

I3: Oo naman *escalated to a more serious mood* Syempre bad criticism nga eh. So bale bad lang ang take pero good ang nilalaman. Yun ang magiging basis ko to improve on myself. (Yes, of course. That’s why it’s bad criticism. It just has a bad take but its intention is good. That’s my basis to improve on myself.)

Me: Oh sige sige, next one. If someone were to say that you should stop music, how would you feel?

I3: Hmmm~ *started to think deeper* Actually in my current situation, ayaw ng magulang ko na ituloy ko ang music. Pero hindi ko ito balak i-quit. More or less dapat nga sa current lifestyle ko magstop na ako sa music eh. Pero alam mo naman siguro na napaumpisahan na eh. At tsaka ito ang pasyon ko. Never itong mawawala sa buhay. (In my current situation [school-related], my parents do not want me to continue music. But, I do not plan to quit. You know, in my current lifestyle, I should stop music completely. But, you know that (we) have started on it. And it’s my passion. It will never go away.)

Me: So ano pinaka nararamdaman mo jan? (So what do you really feel?)

I3: Actually yung dilemma ko was to have to choose between my girlfriend or music… yun mahirap pagdesisyonan eh. (My dilemma was to have to choose between my girlfriend or being in a band. I chose my girlfriend.)

Me: So nag aalign ka ba towards pressure?

I3: Actually yun na nga eh. Nafefeel ko yung pressure na kailangan kong sukuan ang isang bagay na sobrang mahirap bitawan. So mahirap sila pagtimbangin. (That’s the point. I felt the pressure that I needed to give up one thing/person that means a lot to me. So it was hard to weigh them.)

Me: Ok, so what is your state of mind when practicing music?

I3: Ako naman kase may 2 sides eh. Pag nagpapractice, aim mo is to improve diba? So syempre open mind ang kailangan. Pero kase ang pagmu-music ay merong business aspect eh. Kase iisipin mo ung investment mo sa money and time on the resources mo so minsan kailangan alerto ka pag nag eensayo. (I have 2 sides to that. The aim of practicing is to improve, right? So, of course, you need to have an open mind. But, music also has a business aspect. When you think about it, you invest on time and money for your resources [equipment] so sometimes you have to be alert when you practice [to not waste time and money]. 

Me: So more of open-mindedness ba o business ang mindset mo?

I3: Sa practice, open-mindedness ang mas malakas. (During practice, open-mindedness prevails.)

Me: Ok so next, at what point in a day do you practice music?

I3: *briskly explains with a next level of seriousness* Syempre practically speaking naman, magpapractice ako sa libreng time ko. So alone, iisipin ko muna responsibilities ko then saka ako magdedecide na papraktisin. Then kung sa banda naman, kailangan mapag agreehan ng buong banda ang practice schedule para hindi magulo. (Practically speaking, I practice on my free time. So alone, I think of my responsibilities then I’ll decide if I want to practice and what to practice. Then, when I’m jamming with a band, we have to agree about the practice schedule so it won’t be a hassle.)

Me: So sa availability ka? Wala itong ritual pre-text?

I3: Kung meron man? Oo meron. Kung may strings ang gitara ko. (If there is, yes. If my guitar has strings.)

Me: Ok so next question, when do you usually listen to music?

I3: Pag nag-cocommute. At occasional soundtrip sa bahay. (When I go to school/home. And occasional sound trip when I’m in my room.)

Me: Bakit sa mga situations na yun?

I3: Well ayokong nag-cocommute na walang mp3 player dahil sobrang gusto ko magconcentrate sa surroundings ko. May beat at tempo ang music so sinusundan ko yun with time management. Mga tipong 3 minutes ang isang song. So kung maka tatlong songs ako until yung station, mga 9 minutes ang travelling time ‘diba? (I do not want to commute without my mp3 player because I want to concentrate on my surroundings [through the music coming in my ears]. [There’s a beat and tempo to every song so I follow that with time. Music makes me manage and be aware of my time. Example, songs usually lasts 3 minutes. So when I finish three songs and reach the [train] station, I automatically think the whole trip lasted 9 minutes. It makes me aware of the time I spent and what I could have done. At the same time, on the other side of the stick, it also makes me manipulate time or eliminate the concept of it completely. But, that’s another story.])

Me: Yung soundtrip sa bahay parang ritual na ba yon?

I3: Oo, precisely. Mga alone time ko yun. (Precisely. It’s my alone time.)

Me: Ok so, after a stressful day, what kind of music do you listen to?

I3: Stress? *utters quietly and no mood change whatsoever* Simply saying, kailangan ko mag vent out in a peaceful solution kung stress. So ang papakinggan ko metal. Ang metal kasi eh diba aggressive so cater na ang pent-up anger ko. So syempre pag pamilya ang stress ko ayoko na mag vent out sa kanila diba? So nakakatulong ang metal pang vent out ng konti. Pero minsan para lang marelax deretso ako sa jazz. Wala lang, para lang at least kung physically stressed ka din, mas relaxing making ng jazz. (Stress? Simply saying, I need to vent out in a peaceful way when stressed. So I listen to metal. Metal is aggressive so it caters to my pent-up anger. So, when I have stress because of family issues, I don’t want to vent-out to them, right? So metal helps me to vent-out a little. But, sometimes, for me to relax, I go straight to jazz. When I’m physically stressed, it’s more relaxing to listen to jazz.)

Me: So hindi cure ang hanap mo for stress but parang punching bag?

I3: If you put it that way, siguro. Kase nakakapag vent out ako with metal eh. After ng song chill nalang ako. So siguro nga. (If you put it that way, maybe. Because with metal I can vent-out. Then I can chill after [with jazz]. So, yeah, maybe.)

Me: With that in mind, what type of music appeals to your emotions the most?

I3: Well siguro kung deretsahan, metal talaga. (Metal.)

Me: So bakit metal ang choice mo.

I3: Unang una sa lahat *slightly beginning to lighten up* Ang metal kase sa form palang is loud and powerful. Yung lyrics ng metal songs ay iba sa kung ano mang genre eh. Kahit love or hate man yun, kayang kaya i-project ng metal ung feelings agad. So, yun. (First of all, metal is powerful and loud. The lyrics of metal songs are different no matter what sub-genre it belongs to. Whether it’s about love or hate, metal can project feelings.)

Me: So metal ang nakaka-appeal sayo ngayon?

I3: Oo, sobra. I mean, kase sa form pa nga lang ma appeal na. Pero syempre ilang taon ko pinag-aralan ang ganyan form so sobrang naa-appreciate ko na sya ngayon. (Yes. I mean, it’s appealing in form. But, of course, I’ve studied it for years… it’s only now that I’m beginning to appreciate it.)

Me: So on that note, do you believe that the genre of music can influence emotions?

I3: Oo nga actually. Going back nga sa metal. Ang metal sa form palang is malakas na. So pag ang isang tao, kahit ang hindi musician, makaencounter ng metal music, madaling maipit ang impression nun. Eh ang metal ay loud and aggressive so more or less, for a musician, nakakatulong ang metal sa situations na kailangan ang ganoong emotions. Like for example, propaganda, rally and other stuff like that, sobrang laki ng factor ng music. Hindi lang sa metal pero sa ibang genres pa. (Yes. Going back to metal. It’s appealing. So when someone, even a non-musician, encounters metal music, the impression [of emotions] sticks to them. Metal is loud and aggressive. For a musician, metal helps in situations where that kind of emotions are needed. Example: propaganda, rally, and other stuff like that. Music plays a big factor. Not just in metal, but in other genres.)

Me: Picking up from there, does the kind of music you listen to affect your behaviour?

I3: Well ha, sa ngayon, metal or progressive ako eh. So yung rapport ko ngayon medyo dark pero masaya pero most of the time aggressive alam mo yun? (Right now, I’m into [progressive metal]. So my emotions are dark: I’m happy but most of the time I’m aggressive.)

Me: So to take it into a different context, dahil sa current genres na ina-absorb mo, naaapektohan yung standard behaviour mo?

I3: Actually, oo. Kase kung iisipin mo naman, kailangan ko to maproject din para totally ma absorb ko ung genre. So to be frank, yes. Sobrang vital ang music ko ngayon sa behaviour ko. (Yes. When you think about it, you need to project [the emotions] to totally absorb the genre. So, to be frank, yes. Music is vital to my behavior.)

Me: Hmmmm~ ok so last one, do you agree that music holds an important role on a musician’s emotional wellness?

I3: Of course. Tama tama. Ganun naman talaga eh. Kase kung iisipin mo, music naman kase is an art form. Eh ang art, kahit sa paintings or sculptures pa yun, is a way for an artist to convey his feelings or emotions. So bale nature ng music talaga ang emotion. So kung ang tinatanong mo ay kung may role ang music sa emotional wellness ng isang tao, then obviously oo. Malaki ang part ng music doon. (Of course. You’re right. When you think about it, music is a form of art. Art, whether it’s a painting, a sculpture, [photography, poetry, short story, novel, etc.] is a way for an artist to convey his feelings or emotions. So the nature of music is really emotions. So, your question if the role of music affects the emotional wellness of a person, then obviously, yes. Music has a big part.)

Me: Ok actually magandang answer yan ah!

I3: *laughs* Salamat! (Thanks.)

Me: Okay thank you for your time and for participating in the interview!

I3: Sige sige, walang anuman! (Sure, You’re welcome.)

I will get the original audio file of the interview and transcribe it myself. I remember saying something about a motor engine making musical notes and my emphasis on some questions were balanced between metal and jazz. But, again, it did not really lose the integrity of what I wanted to say.

New Art

This is an old poem of mine. I thought about this while going home from UST about two years ago. I kept on reciting the verses in my head until I got to write it eventually.

 

“New Art”

 

The original (but slightly edited) text

 

Saying “I love you” seems like a lie.

I say it with a knife on my hand.

I say it with your blood dripping on the floor,

as you choke on my words.

 

Slowly pulling the threads on your shirt,

I confess my lust for you.

Even though it seems that

Your life isn’t going to last long.

 

I watch you suffer, pain and bliss intertwine.

Suffocate on your own air…

While I say it again and again (I love you!),

I am thrusting my dick into your pussy.

 

Bleed, bitch. Bleed.

 

We’re bathed in blood, sweat, and cum.

This thrill inside my head, (like) pulses and pulses traveling the existential neurons.

Be. While you bleed and gasp for air,

I will cover your face with semen.

 

I mercilessly laugh at the sight.

My masterpiece is done. You’re still bleeding in your crotch.

Crawl slowly to me, face me with your sins.

Your porcelain skin is now covered in mixed media.

 

As you lay in front of me dying.

NU107, a year after

In the next few days will mark the first year of NU107’s last broadcast. That day is still etched on my mind: a group of friends who, albeit some personality changes now, went out to the station’s headquarters to celebrate the last day of their beloved radio station and, of course, to meet new friends. Although most of my friends, excluding my new frineds, listened to NU during their high school days, I, on the other hand, had been listening to NU since 1998. I heard the changes, I saw the new logo designs, I read the devotions from avid listeners (mostly on the then-Tower-owned PULP Magazine).

A few days ago, I backtracked the last few days of NU from their official Twitter page. It gave me a heavy feeling inside. There was a kind of burning that felt so harmful. But I kept on reading them, hoping to re-live the moment when I opened the radio again and heard Tool’s “The Pot” playing almost everyday up to the last day. There were links about NU’s last Rock Awards and the state of Philippine rock music before and after NU. They (the former DJ’s of NU) kept on saying their contribution in making seemingly unknown bands make it to the top, to become as they are now. True enough, Eraserheads and Rivermaya’s first singles were played exclusively on NU before penetrating the mass market. Their program “In The Raw” provided an opportunity for young musicians to show their talent. I was not an avid listener of “In The Raw” though I like the radio teaser/ad: “I love the weaaaatheeeer! Uy, daddy mo!”

I have posted in my other blog last year that it was my dream to be featured in “In The Raw”. Every aspiring Filipino rock star’s dream was, and still is, to be featured in “In The Raw”. Mine was like every other. And, like them, my dreams were crushed with the demise of NU107. Sure, DIG Radio is there to compensate the loss of both NU107 and their rival station, RJUR 105.9. But then, the compensation is not enough for some of us. The access is limited for those who have a fast internet connection.

So, what’s the state of Philippine rock music after the NU? I honestly do not know. I’m not a fan of Filipino rock and I am not familiar about their culture. What I do know is that the Filipino music community needs to make these fresh talents from the other end of the spectrum musicians in their own right. They may not be signed to a major company. (Actually, I think that’s what we lack here, a subsidiary of a major music company for lesser-known bands.) I also think that we NEED to export these better bands like Urbandub, Up Dharma Down, Sinosikat, and the likes abroad. Slapshock did this on their own, I presume. And they’ve been successful, even performing as an opening act for Korn during the latter’s Philippine concert.

I partly blame other Asian acts for the decline of Philippine music, in general. But, that would make me a hypocrite. I listen to foreign bands mostly from our Asian neighbors, but NO K-POP. (Not that I hate it. The music sounds the same.)

How do we, as listeners (and some of us are aspiring musicians) solve this? Again, I do not know. But, I can see a better future for young bands IF they see other ways to “sell” their music, especially those I’ve stated above.

The candles lit during that November night last year symbolized the waning state of NU107. The flame, for those who listen to The Smiths, symbolized the things that “never goes out”: the memories, the legacy, the music… and the station that took the risk to bring the other spectrum of music to the saturated mass audience of the Philippines. The future, though uncertain, will always be bright.

Teachers

Today is Teacher’s Day. I was not aware of this back then because I really did not care about days not related to holidays (ie; Labor Day, and Christmas). But, this year, I give my thanks to the following teachers and/or mentors who have either taught their wisdom inside or outside the classroom.

Grade school:

1) Teacher Grace Flores – Before I stepped inside the classroom at the second floor, I was a frail 7-year-old who transferred from a prestigious Prep School to a then-budding Christian school named The Learning Tree, or “TLT”. One of the most memorable teachers I had at TLT back then, up until I graduated in 2003, was my English and (sometimes) Social Studies teacher, Teacher Grace. If I remember correctly, Teacher Grace was a fresh graduate from the State University when she taught at TLT. She taught me the value of friendship between teachers and students. She acted as my friend, my teacher, and my parent. As a friend, we often talked about basketball because she, too, liked the sport. She was open about my bias towards the Lakers and taught me a “secret handshake”.

As a teacher, she showed me her dedication to teach. Up until grade 5, I did not have the strength to write meaningful statements. In other words, I did not know how to form coherent sentences and my writing grammar is worse than my oral grammar. But Teacher Grace saw through it all: I knew she saw my improvement.

As a parent, she would often check my situation outside the realms of the academe. She would often say that I should do this, do that, try this, try that, etc. And I obliged.

Up until I met Teacher Grace, I did not like teachers because of their unfriendly treatment towards me, which I will state before I end this article.

2) Teacher Benji Damaso – I rarely study in Science. Really. Not that it’s boring but I really hate it. Until I met Teacher Benji who also taught at TLT.

Teacher Benji was this “tall, dark, and handsome” (as he would describe himself) guy with glasses: a typical nerd. But when he taught us, he infused the otherwise boring subject with fun, and turned it into a dynamic subject in school. The thing I liked about Teacher Benji was his interest in music. I would often let him borrow my cassettes because it made him calm down when stressed. And, when we both had free time, we would talk about music until we went back to our duties.

3) Teacher Arlene (I forgot her last name) – Believe me when I tell you that I was not the visual artist type back in grade school. I did not know how to draw, to paint, to take pictures, and to sculpt.

Teacher Arlene was a stick-thin, middle-aged woman who stepped inside the classroom filled with enthusiasm. She taught me that I should not give up on art and that I should keep creating.

She posted my work at an exhibit in school, without my permission. It was sold for 500php, a big amount that time, and told me that it was one of the saught-after pieces of painting in that exhibit. It made me proud of myself despite the fact that it was mainly an abstract painting. She never gave up on me like I never gave up on doing art. I owe her a lot.

4) Teacher Gladys (I forgot her last name) – Music IS my favorite extra-curricular subject. Back in grade school, we were taught how to distinguish Perfect Fourths and Perfect Fifths by just listening to it. Thanks to Teacher Gladys, I developed my ears. I can distinguish notes after 4 listens and can, somehow, play the song — as long as the song is in 4/4 time. Teacher Gladys was patient enough to teach Music despite facing unenthusiastic students. She taught me the value of human emotions through music. And I’ll never forget that.

5) Teacher Geena (I forgot her last name, too) – Teacher Geena was the school nurse, librarian, and the teacher for our Health subject. Before the debate on the Reproductive Health Bill came in full bloom, we were already taught about sexuality by Teacher Geena. If I’m not mistaken, she was in her late 20’s or early 30’s when she taught at TLT.

When either Teacher Grace or Teacher Benji weren’t around, I’d go to the Library or the Clinic to talk to Teacher Geena. She would always welcome me and let me speak my mind. She would listen and gave advice. It came to a point where I had a crush on her, therefore developing my interest towards women older than I.

She taught me how to be optimistic despite the obvious negativity in the air. She also taught me that prayers are effective solutions when physical effort can’t do anything. Of course, as an irreligious person, I never prayed.

On a side note, Teacher Geena, I would love to have contact with you again. :)

High school:

1) Teacher Ruth Katalbas – Teacher Ruth was our English and, sometimes, Social Science teacher. She was sometimes described as one of the terror teachers at school. But, really, I did not feel her terror.

She was the one who gave me an opportunity to be creative with writing, and when I had my first relationship in that school, she gave me reminders. I don’t know why but English teachers have this motherly aura. Teacher Grace from grade school and Teacher Ruth showed that side of them.

2) Teacher Maite de la Rosa – Teacher Maite was the high school coördinator and our Social Science teacher. She was also the homeroom teacher for the graduating batch.

Teacher Maite is very compassionate with her students. Often giving them advice and would consult them now and then. Back in my high school days, I was the one who often goes to the much-dreaded Room 107 where Teacher Maite’s room was based. This frequent trip was because of my standing in class and my involvement in various non-academic endeavors that would either harm me or the reputation of the school. Of course, I only had minor involvement in those stuff but still, I am a part of the crime.

She taught me how to enjoy the last days of my high school life. Despite my academic setbacks, I enjoyed high school. So much so that all the things I did back then I can not do it now that I’m in college.

3) Teacher Marj Javier – Math is not my thing. And Teacher Marj was our Math teacher.

But, outside of Math, she taught me to make the most of my academics especially in high school and college. She also taught me to value my teachers because they carry the burden of teaching what our parents should teach us.

By the way, she is the first non-English teacher to have a motherly aura.

4) Teacher Elfio de los Angeles – Teacher Elfio was our Music teacher. He made the class listen to the progressive rock band, King Crimson, to Latin-American music, and exposed us to different instruments in the Asian region. Most of all, he taught me and my friend how to use the M-Audio equipment.

Of course, I owe my musical mind to Teacher Elfio. Without him exposing the class to different music, I would not be as open-minded as most of my friends know me today.

5) Teacher Pearl/Teacher Michel – Ang dalawang guro namin sa Filipino. Sila ang naghubog ng aking pananalita sa wikang Filipino kahit alam nilang hindi ako matututo. Sila rin ang humikayat na magsulat ako ng mga tula sa Filipino para mahasa ko ang aking bokabularyo sa wikang pamabansa. Malaki ang aking pasasalamat sa kanila.

6) Teacher Isagani Lachica (RIP) – Taong 2004 namin naging guro si Teacher Gani. Nung una, hindi namin maintindihan ang kanyang kasarian. Pero, dahil hindi naman iyon ang talagang sukatan nang pagiging guro niya, ipinakita niya sa amin kung bakit namin siya rerespetuhin. Siya ang tumagal sa mga kagaguhan namin noong 2004-2005 school year at ipinakita niya na karapat-dapat siyang magturo sa mga estudyante. Ipinakita niya ang kanyang dedikasyon at pagpupursigi sa kabila ng kanyang kakayahan. Umalis siya noong 2005 at lumipat sa ibang iskwelahan. Nalaman na lang namin na isa siya sa mga nasawi sa isang bus accident sa gawing hilaga ng bansa. Malaki ang utang na loob ko kay Teacher Gani kung hindi dahil sa kanya, malamang hindi ako makaka-apak sa kolehiyo.

College (UST):

1) Dr. Marina Gamo – Dr. Gamo was my Sociology professor and a friend outside the walls of the Pontifical and Royal University. She taught me to continue to fight the good fight until there’s nothing to fight for.

2) Sir Al Dimalanta – Sir Al was a substitute professor for our English 101A class. Despite being a substitute, he was enthusiastic with teaching budding journalists the basics of English grammar and composition. He also became a friend of mine because of our similar interests namely music, photography, and writing. He would often make remarks with my hair (“Oh, Anton, maikli na ulit, ah!) And I would often praise him with his guitar playing and his photography skills.

3) Sir Rey Reyes – Sir Rey was our Philo 1 professor. He taught us the value of love and the importance of learning philosophy. Outside the class, he taught me to appreciate the little things in life that makes up the bigger picture. I thanked him when I got out of the University for teaching me.

4) Dr. Ophelia Alcantara-Dimalanta (RIP) – Dr. Dimalanta was sir Al’s mom. She never became our professor but I met her through an interview for our English 101A class. She taught me the value of writing and how it can change a person’s life. She also taught me to never give up on writing despite changing tracks (I told her I was shifting out of the Arts & Letters building).

Without her encouraging words, I would’ve given up on writing as soon as I got out of the University.

Special mentions:
1) Dr. Irene Lising (UST, Literature 101 professor)
2) Dr. Guzman (Kalayaan College, English 3 professor)
3) Dorothy Jose, M.A (Kalayaan College, Kas 1, Kas 2, P.I 100 professor)
4) Zenia Rodriguez, M.A (UST, PGC professor)
5) Faye Abugan (UST, JRN 201 professor)
6) Allan Basas, and Crispulo Acuna (UST, Theo 1 and Theo 2 professors)

 

I once had bad blood against my teachers before I entered grade 2. They were always scolding me for being too smart (I was consistently at the Top 3 in our class in the Prep School) or because I was sleeping. They either made me recite the lesson without aid OR they’d let me stand outside the classroom for 2 hours. No bathroom breaks. I remember one teacher from the Prep School who terrorized her students, not just me. Her name is Ma. Inez Vitangcol. Though, she was a bit pretty, she had the temper of a raging bull. I was afraid of her but I did not have the courage to tell that to my parents.

 

But, yeah. I guess they’re just doing their jobs. Haha.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 37 other followers