On My Return To The Stage

“Will I be able to play music again in front of an audience?”

 

I asked myself that question after quitting my former band, dayofcollapse, two years ago. This question has haunted me ever since.

 

I gave myself a lot of reasons not to play again: I’m focusing on my studies, or I’m doing a solo project, or I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. All of which are true. But, recently, I asked myself if I’m only using those as an excuse to run away from what I truly want and need in my life… which is, to perform my music in front of people. Am I afraid? Am I insecure of myself? I know a lot about music and how to make music from any style or genre but what is it that makes me step away from it? Is it my perfectionist nature? My desire to make music that will transcend human emotions? Or is it just me pretentiously trying to get out of my shell?

I told a friend a few months back that I haven’t shown her the side of me as a musician. I went over that statement again and again yesterday. And, just this morning, I asked myself that question again.

“Will I be able to play music again in front of an audience?” The more haunting question rose when I said to myself that I can: “Will she be able to hear me?”

Before, I used to think that I wanted to become a musician because it was the easiest way for me to get into the arts. As I grew older and a bit wiser, I thought it was my main avenue to release tension. And now, with my struggle(s) to be understood, I wanted to create music and play in front of an audience because, I think, that way, she will understand me. Everything she needs to know about me will be condensed in a sculpture of frequencies, of wavelengths, of time and space, and emotions which I will pour out on stage. I never felt like this before in my 13 years as a musician.

This, even after she has become cold and detached to me.

I just want her to know me better. To keep her interested in me, not just with me. I want her to come in and stay. I want to give her the warmth of my sincerity and the purest of my intentions. I just want her… and if music will be my way to make her understand and see me again, that I will do.

Regression, Part 3

“Mr. Maza, are you related to Liza Maza?” Asked by my Speech professor. I answered him in the affirmative, “She’s my mother.” A few seats away, a short haired girl with tanned skin looked at me. It was the start of a roller-coaster ride.

 

June 14, 2012 was the first day of classes. I was a third year Fine Arts student. I was expecting to get out of Fine Arts because I was struggling with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome which affected my works. June 14 was a Thursday. I had two classes that day: Techniques 1, and Speech. From 4pm – 5:30pm. I always sat at the back of the room. Especially on that class. I am not really the type who would speak in front of people.

 

Our room was located at 304. But, after the brief introduction, we moved to 308. At 308, the professor gave us homework. “Bring anything that you feel that changed your life. Then tell us about why it changed you. See you on Tuesday.”

 

I brought my guitar: a purple Aria Pro II electric guitar. Incidentally, that was the time my band was starting to form. I got to class about 15 minutes late and I was seated next to a pillar. I placed my guitar on the corner of the room, right side of my professor. I started to talk about why the guitar changed my life and told to the class that I want to be known as a music teacher. It was her turn. She showed a picture. Since I could not see what it was, I assumed it was a person. True enough, it was. A monk from her days in a Buddhist monastery/college. That was Miao Jing Fa Shi, Master Miao Jing. She told the class of her importance. I listened aimlessly. I just wanted the class to end.

 

Days after, it was a pretty normal day for me. Mondays and Wednesdays was Design Theory, Tuesdays and Thursdays were Techniques 1, and Speech, Fridays and Saturdays were Humanities 1, Sculpture, and Visual Perception. My band was formed officially on July 0f 2012. I played the guitar. It was not my natural instrument but I learned songs quickly. A skill I acquired from reading sheet music and listening to the songs I need to learn.

 

I brought my guitar again to school. It was a Tuesday. I came late to my Speech class again. The back seats were taken and the pillar where I last sat became my permanent place. The Buddhist girl was sitting somewhere in the back when I grabbed the attention of the class because… I was late and I interrupted the discussion of the professor. I put my guitar on the same spot as last time and sat on my spot. The professor gave an activity. I forgot the detail of this activity but, for some reason, after that, when the professor asked us to take down notes, the Buddhist girl sat next to me. She wanted to borrow my notes. I told her she wouldn’t understand my handwriting. She took my notes anyway.

 

A few days later, I decided to have a haircut. It was the same as I have now. I brought my guitar again and strummed on the benches near the entrance of the school, the designated smoking area. A few minutes later, she came in. Borrowed my guitar. Strummed some chords. And asked me why I had a haircut. “I changed my perspective in life.” As vague as it was to her, it was the truth. It was the start of the “I don’t know, I don’t care” attitude. The premise was so simple: if I don’t know, I don’t care. Even if I did, I could give a damn or not.

 

After class, she invited me to drink at the nearby canteen near school. While I figured she did not really want to invite me, I joined in, anyway. We talked a lot. We had the same love for comedy but on different sides of the Atlantic. She likes Frankie Boyle and I like George Carlin. As soon as we finished drinking and talking, we went back to school. I strummed the guitar. I played Up Dharma Down’s seminal hit, “Oo.” It was her favorite song. After that, we went home. She was riding her bike. I asked her if she’ll be alright. She answered in the affirmative.

 

Carmela Llorca is a short girl who came to school after transferring from Assumption Makati and completed her training in a Buddhist college in Manila. She stands around 4 feet, 11 inches. Short hair. Slightly chubby. Big tits. Tanned skin. She’s a native of Palawan and her lineage traces back to the Cuyo tribesmen. She had experienced the worst treatment from men: getting beat up by her father (an ex-military person), getting abused by her fiancee (a rice cooker was thrown at her), and getting used by another guy for drugs… among other things she have not told me about. After coming home from Europe, she lived in with her ex-fiancee in Belgium, she lived in her condo in Taguig (it was a gift from her father, being a former military personnel). It was there when they fought and eventually split which caused her a lot of psychological and emotional stress. After a year or two of wasting away by relying on vices, she decided to go to a spiritual journey. It was then she learned about the Buddhist college, Fo Guang Shang, located near De La Salle University in Manila. She decided to take up courses there. Eventually, staying there until she completed the program.

 

I was sick one day during a typhoon. The classes were suspended for three days (Thursday – Saturday) and I had to stay home. She added me on Facebook after telling her that I can’t add her up. She had a cover photo of a cat resting its head on the table with a sad face. It was really cute. After adding me, she sent a message. That’s where we started conversing. I told her I was watching my ‘sick days’ movie marathon consisting of 500 Days of Summer, 5 Centimeters Per Second, and The Science of Sleep. She quickly related to 500 Days and I told her to watch 5 Centimeters because the story is really good and the visuals can be taken as a wallpaper for the PC. That day, it was a weekend, we talked all day and night. Never ceasing to stop. I felt relieved that I could talk to her about a lot of things. I was interested in Buddhism because of my inclination toward philosophy, she was interested in how I view music as my life force. It was back to that day when we had a show-and-tell in class.

 

The days leading up to August were fast. Still, it was constant that we hung out after class with or without our friends. One day, August 3, 2012, she invited me to watch a movie with her at the UP Film Center. I declined because I had agreed to a hang-out with my ex and our common friends, but I never told her that reason. I went to the nearby bar at school, a former shoe expo, and I walked around to see if my friends were there. Suddenly, I saw her figure. I couldn’t mistake her. It was 4pm! I asked her what she was doing there and told me she didn’t go to UP. Inside, I felt guilty. Maybe she didn’t go because I didn’t. Later on, I found out she wanted to take me out, a date, if you will. We went our separate ways. Both with our respective circle of friends. Before I left the expo, I looked for her and said farewell. She reminded me of the hang out the next day. I said that I will go.

 

The next day, August 4, 2012, our hang-out was going as planned. 5pm meeting time at the shoe expo. I went early. By 4pm, I was already at the shopping district near the shoe expo. In front of the exit of the shoe expo, there’s a surplus shop. I looked for books there. I bought Christopher Hitchens’s “God is Not Great” for around 40 Philippine Pesos. That yellow book is the only tangible memory I have that survives to this day. I went to the shoe expo after buying the book. I saw her hanging out near the bar where we were supposed to meet. She treated me for a bottle and told her about the book I bought. We discussed comedy, life, and relationships. It made me comfortable talking to her about those things. But, I couldn’t even bring up music to her at that point. If I did, I was sure, she’ll never listen to me.

 

Our friends, three of them, arrived at the shoe expo around 6:30pm. We were seated at the gutter in front of a store called Karma. How apt, I thought. A lot of them brought booze and food. Carmela, or Lala, asked her friends if they have weed to smoke. Most of them shared their stash. It was a perfect night. After a while one of our friends passed out and slept inside Karma for a while. Another two walked around the area and eventually ended up at KFC. Lala and I were the only ones left and her friends surrounded us. It was clear to me that time that I really liked her. I never told her that but, that night, she said so. “You know, I like you.” I told her the same. Her body language became different. She rested her leg on top of mine, told me to sit next to her, rested her head on my shoulder. My arm instantly reacted. I placed my right arm on her shoulder, making her lean more toward me.

 

Our night ended with us two together, at around 3am. She expected a kiss. I did not give her. I gave her a hug. We held hands. That was it. Our night ended on a high note.

 

August 4, 2012. The weirdest day of my life.

 

For three months, we were stable and really happy with each other and our relationship was a thrill in itself. A few weeks after our confession, she invited me to her house near the college. Our early breaks provided us time to go there and go back to school without her parents knowing. So, she invited me to her room. We smoked pot. Watched an episode of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and made out. We almost had sex. It was frustrating. But, what came next was frightening. It was her godmother. Lala was living with her uncle and his wife, the godmother. The godmother was a strict woman. I hated her so much because she was the perfect definition of a villain. She despised me, as well. She was a teacher in a medical school in Makati which gave her children discounts in tuition at the blue high school in Quezon City. Lala’s uncle was a supervisor at Unilever. He manages the operations at Selecta and would often bring home boxes of ice cream for the family. When Magnum was going to be launched, I was one of the first people to taste the new product. Unlike his wife, Mr. Macabulos was more accepting toward me. Lenient, perhaps. But, of course, some strictness were shown. But, again, unlike his wife, I really respected him. Though, of course, I wouldn’t know what he thought of me.

 

After Lala and I made out, her godmother arrived. It was shocking. I panicked. I was introduced to her then, I stayed in the living room. After 3 minutes, I was asked to leave.

 

After that, I waited until the weekend where we would usually hang out at the shoe expo until the next day. It was late August. The shoe expo had an event where vinyls were spun and music filled the air. Lala and I danced the night away. Though, well, she did most of the dancing.

 

She invited me to her house again after that. I did not hesitate. We had sex in the library. It was a thrill because I had to fuck her before her relatives are awake (it was 3am, they wake up, according to her, at around 5am). During our intercourse, the door suddenly opened. Then, a dog was peeking through the gap. It was Sparky, a big golden retriever. Lala and I laughed and she closed the door while making Sparky leave. It was funny. And a thrill.

 

A few weeks after that, I was in her house again. This time, it was for my birthday. In fact, I stayed there for the weekend (from September 15 until the 17th) because her relatives were out of town. It was the perfect weekend. I got to spend days with her watching movies, drinking booze, smoking pot and cigs, she cooked for us, and talked until we decided to have sex. This was the time we figured out that I have masculinity problems. But, during the course of the weekend, I was able to recover and gave her the best fuck she ever had.

 

She did a lot of things to me during our intercourse. It was something I couldn’t even imagine, then, that a girl within my age bracket can do. In exchange, I made her cum a lot. She was really patient with my problem and can help me solve it. After that, we became steady with our sexual needs.

 

The semester break was something I never thought about. For the first time, I was really worried about the status of our relationship. Lala was a really pretty girl and I know she’s the type that would make any man fall for her. But, I did not show too much of my worries. I stayed home and in my grandparents’s home in Laguna while constantly communicating with her, giving her space during the night when she needs to drink with her friends. It was during this time that I thought I’d not care about what she’ll do. I thought, possibly, that what she felt for me wasn’t real. I wrote her a letter. She gave me an audio poem.

 

When she came back to Manila, I quickly invited her to go with me to Intramuros. We both appreciate architecture and history. It was the perfect place for us to see both our interests. As soon as I was about to give her a history lesson, I was interrupted by her interjection. “Dito nagsimula ang sinaunang salitang-dila.” (This is where the first tongue-kissing took place.) I smiled. Her wit was beyond me. I had no sense of humor myself so I kept on laughing at her jokes and banter. It went like that until it rained. We stayed at a cafĂ© near a bookstore and hand-crafted materials shop. We had our things with us, a stuffed toy of a mascot of a Hong Kong TV channel, and the present I gave her: a Star Wars-related merchandise. She’s a really big fan of Star Wars and saw similarities with Buddhism with it. I, however, was a Trekkie. I would often compare myself to Spock during those days because of my approach in love during that time. I used my head not my heart. As long as it doesn’t make any sense, I will dismiss is at moot. Even petty arguments, which, by this time, were a lot. I did not want to argue with her because I knew then that I would say something that could hurt her. But, if the argument has sense, I made sure I make my point and stick to it.

 

It was a complete turnaround from the approach I had before Lala: Arguments were a lot with her it made me lose interest quickly.

 

I have probably made a lot of mistakes, too, with Lala. I think I made her think too much. I also have put up my walls because I was too insecure about myself. I was in a band that did not produce the music I had envisioned in my head and she was the one battered by my insecurities. My totality had become so fragile during those days between December 2012 until March 2013. She hid a lot of things from me, too. Things that should make me feel better about myself. Things that should have cleared my mind during that time. I was frustrated. During the practice sessions I had with the band, I was silent. I did not instruct them to do anything I wanted only to let my frustrations out to Lala. In a way, I guess, I suffocated her. I quit the band June 2013. I decided to focus on my studies and restart the flame that Lala and I had before. Little did I know it was the start of the inevitable. We were still having petty arguments but this time, I was fighting back. Even in my room after a night of sweetness, we argued. She would always use my words against me, sometimes even perverting them to her advantage. I was suppressed. It was a sign that I should not speak my mind to her anymore. It was sad. She was even jealous to girls I’m talking to when she had no reason to be jealous with them. I told her many times, she did not listen.

 

It came to a heady point in which I was the one jealous. She was talking to guys at a computer shop where we usually spend time in-between classes. The guy was too intrusive to our private time, it came to a point that he asked where she lives. Lala answered. It was a trigger to me. We did not talk for days. I did not even make any contact with her. I did not want to lose her but, I have my own problems and frustrations, too, that I wanted to solve on my own. I wanted to get back to making music, that’s one. And, two, I was worried about school.

 

November 2013 was fast. The first week, we were at Palawan. Two weeks after, we broke up. I even received the news that I got in the Dean’s List from her. The title she wanted was given to me. The break up was a weird one. She instructed me to go to the computer shop to get the pet carrier. But, I told her I will not go because I know the shop was still closed that time. She went furious. I told her the truth. The shop was closed that time. She broke up with me frustrated with my answer. It came to me like a shock. But, I dismissed it as soon as possible because I had to go to school. We met in the hallway and told me that I was right. But, the fact remained. She was firm about the break up. That was that. The end of another chapter in my relationship with women.

 

2014 started in confusion, midway through with anger, ended in a lighter note.

 

I was too caught up with her that it prevented me from pursuing other girls. This time, I’m sure that I’ve let go of her. That I am not angry. And I am sorry for saying a lot of hurtful things to her.

 

I hope you’re reading this, Ms. Llorca. I’m proud of you. Thank you for making me realize that love is shared between two people. Come to think of it, I was too cold toward you. I understand why you were always angry at me especially after I left the band. I know you’re happy now with having a child, something I could not give to you when we were together. I wish you all the best in raising her and, I hope, someday, I’ll be able to meet her. Teach her music, perhaps. – Anton

Regression, Part 2.

“I’m sorry. I don’t feel the same way as you. I’d probably want us to be friends but, I think that will hurt you more. I hope you’ll be fine after this. I’m really sorry.”

 

And, just like that, girl #97 left me in the rain. On December 2, 2011.

 

She was an older woman who I met around February 2011, while still dealing with a harsh rejection from a batchmate from the University. She was 32 when I met her. I was 20-turning-21. We hit it off when we first met in a bar near my school. She was an architect. I was a Fine Arts student. She liked classical music. I was into jazz and rock. I was melancholic, she was always smiling. A merging of two worlds.

 

Everything about her was alright. Her long, straight hair, her almond-shaped eyes, the shape of her nose, the curve of her lips, the prominent jawline, the curve of her neck, the chubby figure, her D-cup breasts, her hips, long legs, and somehow pretty feet. They were etched in my memory like an engraving by MC Esher. I also liked how she smiles. I saw how much light a smile could give in just a matter of seconds.

 

The sex with her was also nice. She let me experiment with a lot of positions that were possible. She let me go down on her everytime I stop putting my phallus inside her, keeping her satisfied. That was also the time I found out that I have a special skill with my fingers. She was the one who unlocked that part of me. “Bassists are good with their fingers, do you know that?” She asked me the first time she learned about my musical endeavors. I did not know she’d be the one to put it in good use.

 

I was attached to her after three months. I never knew what she felt for me. But, it was nice being with her. As long as I can see her smile, give her a hug, and kiss her on the lips. That was already enough for me, then. She filled me up emotionally, mentally, and sexually. Treated me as her equal and not some younger guy he picked up at some club (Shit, close enough!) It was the kind of feeling that I missed. But, it was, at the same time, really vague.

 

There were times that she would not talk to me at all. A whole week to almost a month. It was confusing. I thought that I’d be able to connect with someone again. She left me wondering if I could be with her again. This was after the 5th month.

 

Then, we met again, July 24, 2011. She showed me her wedding ring. “I’m married. I just didn’t want you to know.” That’s all she said. I was shocked but had expected it anyway. The sexual experience was an indicator of it. She has a son who was, at that time, 4 years old. Her husband worked, at that time, at a law firm. They met at an event through a mutual friend. They hit it off. I asked her why she entertained my advances. “I just saw something in you that I really like.” I asked her what it was, she did not answer. She liked to keep me wondering. Back then, it was frustrating. I realized then, that it was something she purposely did to make me look for myself deeper. It was the strangest gift she had given me. After that, she asked me for sex. I agreed. I didn’t know it would be our last. And the last time I’d be with her.

 

Weeks of reaching out to her after that were futile. Then, around August, I received a text message. It was not from her. “If you keep on texting my wife, I will go to your place and beat you up.” I texted her: “Did you tell him?” No reply. Days after that, around September, I received a text from her. It was for us to meet again. I obliged. I went to the meeting place. I did not know that the one who texted me was her husband. “I told you not to send her anymore texts.” Suddenly, I felt my stomach curl. He punched me hard. I fell to the ground. He started to kick me in the stomach area and one in the head that made me unconscious. I woke up still in the gutter where he beat me up. I had a strange mark on the left side of my stomach. When people ask me about it, even my mother, I always say that it’s a birth mark.

 

After that, I stopped texting her. Months passed and I received a last message from her. She wanted to meet. She called me to meet her where she was. I obliged. It was a cold December night. Coming from Manila to QC already placed heavy stress on me. But, there I was, at SM North. The rain started to pour. I saw her smile as I approached her. She gave me a hug. It was awkward. I asked her why she let her husband know. “I felt guilty for him.” That was it. Tears were never shed but I felt my heart breaking into pieces. I told her that I liked her and it was alright for me to continue that secret arrangement if she wanted to. “If I were single, I’d definitely be with you.” She said. “You know what I saw in you?” She asked. “You know what you want with your life. That drive and determination is something I really admire in men. My husband seemed to have lost that drive, and that was the time I met you.” She said. I told her repeatedly that I liked her. “I’m sorry. I don’t feel the same way as you. I’d probably want us to be friends but, I think that will hurt you more. I hope you’ll be fine after this. I’m really sorry.” She said. After that, she gave me a kiss on the forehead and gave me a hug. It was a rainy December night. I was left in the rain. My heart was breaking into a million pieces. But, strangely, no tears were shed.

 

She was a huge part of my emotional development. I owe her a thank you when we do cross paths again. Or, maybe, I’ll just say it here.

 

To you, Mrs. de los Reyes, thank you. You’ve given me a lot of reasons to fall in love and think that it’s okay to get hurt… literally and figuratively. You have read me in ways no one ever did before you. I hope we could see each other again. I’ll tell you my adventures after our story. I’m sure you’re going to laugh at me, and give me that smile of yours, like you always do when I tell you stories. Well, goodbye. – Anton.

Sugat.

Nang maghilom ang mga sugat
Matapos ang siyam na buwan ng paghihirap
Matapos ang siyam na buwan ng pighati
At matapos ang siyam na buwan ng kalungkutan
Napagtanto ko na siyam na buwan akong naging tanga.

Ngayon, heto ka,
Nagpapakita
sa
aking
mga
panaginip
at
tuluyan
mo
akong
sinusugatan.

Sana masaya ka.

To Write About You (circa 2010)

To write about you is like romancing a nymph.
To write about you is like shooting a porn flick.
To write about you is like waiting the day to end.
To write about you is like an endless summer.
To write about you is like a lazy afternoon.
To write about you is like Beethoven’s 5th.
To write about you is like wanting a Mellotron
To write about you is like being with you in Paris… or New York.
To write about you is like hearing the sweet melody of the morning.
To write about you is like Art Nouveau.

To write about you is like taking an exam.
To write about you is like interpreting a jEjEmon.
To write about you is like progressive metal.
To write about you is like a 24-hour movie.
To write about you is like a comedy skit.
To write about you is like Dadaism.
To write about you is like the Vietnam War.
To write about you is like a Hollywood scandal.
To write about you is like a decaying cat.
To write about you is like reading Twilight.

So, I will not write about you.

A Reaction to Ono’s “Conversational Piece”

She, wrapped in bondage,

Forever oppressed

While her eyes are affixed to the ground

She refuses to tell her story

 

I unwrap her slowly

Baring her scars

Her skin

Her sins.

 

While she refuses to look up

I look at her lifeless eyes

And I am reminded of

Her endless suffering.

Some sort of programming language poetry (circa 2009)

This synchronized switch throws transient class;

abstract catch

finally extends

Byte break

Native for

Instance of

short static void

Try if interface implements

While volatile

return protected float

new public package

super long case

strictfp throw final char

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