Saturday, August 11, 2012

Letters to Marge (Chapter 31): Meet Messrs. Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, and the Time Machine called Music

Dearest Margaret,

Hello there, little girl. Hmm... you would probably argue that by now you are a "big" girl because you are, after all, due to become a big sister very soon. Fine... Fine... But know you this, even if you get more little brothers or sisters after this next guy, even when one day you fall in love, get married, and have kids of your own (yes, in THAT order dammit!!!), you will always be my "little girl."

Now read on...

my Maverick glow stick of new wave devotion
Last night, your mom and i went to the Araneta Coliseum out in Cubao to catch a concert of two wonderful musicians and the rest of their band. These guys wereRoland Orzabal and Curt Smith, better known to 40-somethings and almost-40-somethings like me as "Tears for Fears." While there, i saw an acquaintance and client watching the show with her husband, and there was also my old boss and mentor, Kenneth Quintal. Remind me to tell you about him one of these days.

stupid phone camera...
And as i write this, i keep clearing my scratchy throat since i lost my voice screaming and cheering while they played and sang music that threw me back to that time when knowing a bunch of British pop songs that few people know about was cool, and having vinyl records imported from Hong Kong was even cooler. And the fewer people who knew those British songs, the better. No, i didn't own a lot of imported vinyl records, my dear cousin Jan did. I owned only that odd record or two he gave to me out of friendship. One of these days, ask me about him, too. His story is interesting as well.

It was a lonely time, because your grandmother had to leave for something back then, your grandfather never really came to terms with that until much, much later, and your uncles had no idea what the heck was going on.

But it was also a simpler time. It was a time when i began meeting the people and building the friendships that kept me strong when i needed them, the people who would be my islands and shores in my long swim in the sometimes turbulent seas of my young life. It was a time when my weekends and summers were spent alone with an old notebook wherein i doodled odd-looking cars, imagined new video games, my own superheroes, and wrote poetry. It was a time when i looked around my then quiet life and told myself that i knew there was going to be much more than that.

And every so often in the background, i would pop in a cassette tape where i recorded Curt Smith crooning out "Welcome to your life, there's no turning back..." randomly followed by Roland Orzabal declaring " features form with a change in the weatherrrrr..." along with so many other lines that at that time seemed to me like slightly sensible British metaphysical rubbish. But they weren't, not by a long, long mile. These were songs that meant something deeper, and wanted to say something bigger. These were great songs. This was great music. This was a great band.

So yes, last night your mother and i saw a great band, Tears for Fears. I was young again, and the future was an infinite ocean waiting for me to dive in and find my own treasure. And while i was skirting the shores, Tears for Fears was one of the bands playing in the air.
I hope that as you grow older, you will learn to love music like i do. Songs will be capsules to times in your life where you have to look back to from time to time. The times when friendships began simply because you both liked the same book or the same TV show (in your case, probably the same website), or perhaps the same music. Let music make you look back to remind you that at one time, you either had more than what you have now, or perhaps you had less. But for better or worse, times definitely can and will change. If they have changed for the better, then that's great. If they have changed for the worse, then take comfort in the surety that things can change again for the better.

As you get older, you will join people like me who complain about how life is too short. But it really isn't. It's long enough to look back and be happy for what you've had, and definitely long enough to look forward to all the good and better things that can still lie ahead. And it's long enough to enjoy good music from bands like Tears for Fears.



Friday, March 2, 2012

Letters to Marge (Chapter 29): Who are you?

Dearest Marge,

Who are you?

I took you to ballet class one sleepy saturday. And after shooing you into the studio, i proceeded to try and watch you and the entire class from behind through the breaks in the window blinds.

Call me an idiot for a dad, but for a couple of seconds, i couldn't tell which one was you. See, each and every one of you were in your cute pink ballerina uniforms and doing your damnedest best to follow your teacher. Except one kid standing in the front row who couldn't keep still and incessantly chatted with the other girl beside her. Yup, that was you, kid. A long time ago, i remember being told about another kid couldn't sit still. That kid still can't. Not even while waiting for his little girl go through ballet class.

At three and a half years old, it's still too soon to tell if you will grow up into which of the following: a general, a trooper, or what i've come to refer to as S.W.A.T.

No, we have no plans of drafting you into the military! Let me explain what i mean...

I believe that people are born hardwired as certain kinds of people.

As of this writing, there are over six billion people on the planet. That's six billion unique people with unique thoughts, unique sets of talents, unique habits, unique this and that and so on. So yes, despite the cutesy pink ballet uniforms, you are absolutely unique. When you grow up, you can choose to play on the strengths of your uniqueness, or you can choose to keep putting on uniforms, whether to become a nameless trooper in an army following orders or eventually becoming a general and giving them.

Or you may be a S.W.A.T. (my own lame version of this acronym is: Special Wants And Talents)

SWATs in the army are usually only called when their unique abilities and personalities are really needed. They do not necessarily conform to the regular regimen of the "everyday troopers." They are still soldiers and are part of the whole concept of defense and law enforcement, but on their operations, they make their own rules.

Your dad is a S.W.A.T.

It does not make me better or worse than generals (like your Uncle Pom), or troopers (like your Uncle Wilson). But it does make me "me."

Sometimes, i admire one of them for their command of people. Sometimes, i envy the other one for their simple outlook in life. But i have tried and found myself utterly uncomfortable in their skins. So i have settled into my own and have not looked back much. I still find myself wishing i was this or that, but i have found my life to be much more peaceful inside upon settling on the person i have decided to define myself to be.

The sooner you define yourself and stick to it, the sooner you will be at peace with your space in the infinite spectra of personality. It allows you to still stretch yourself and reach out, but at least your heart and mind will be anchored somewhere. So while you learn new things, meet new people, and see new places as you go on through life, all these things will enrich your life, without changing who you are.
'catch you later.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Letters to Marge (Chapter 28): Happy Halloween

(Originally published last November 1, 2011 in that OTHER blog...)

Dearest Margaret...

It's been a whole two months since my last post on this blog. Oh well, life seems to have taken over...

And i know that i said i had decided on ending this series of letters, i guess today i finally found myself bored enough without anything particularly intesting to write about, so i decided yet again to do another one.

You called me on the phone a while ago. A simple, short phone call that wasnt particularly earth shattering, nor memorable. We didnt talk about food, movies, books, politics, or even your mother. But it sure made the day of one bored dad who had to sit and wander around the store all day while you, mom, and a handful of others went to the beach. Paying my dues, i suppose...

But you called. And you made my day. Thanks, sweetie,

Around a couple of decades from now, when i've become for you the pest your mother swears i am when i'm not looking, nor listening, please give me a call once in a while. By then, you and i can talk about food, movies, books, politics, and yes, even your mother. Or, you can just ring me up to say hello-how's-life-dad-sorry-gotta-go. And i would answer and tell you that i'm doing just fine. Probably shorter than that shampoo commercial that just flashed on your screen right this very second. But believe you me, that phone call will always make my day.

So, here's a note to future Marge... Call me. Please.



P.S. Happy Halloween!
P.P.S. call mom, too, while you're at it.

'catch you later, kid.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Letters to Marge: Chapter 27 (See you in the future...)

Dearest Margaret,

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything in here. You’ve learned how to sort of “really” talk for over half a year or so now, so what I might have written here before, I have been saying to you personally.

You should know that as of now, your mother and I classify you as quite noisy, but adorably so.

So far, it has been quite a wonderful year or so since my last e-letter. Your young achievements so far include:
- Finally starting to go to school.
- Going to ballet school
- Talking in fully comprehensible sentences
- Having seen the following movies in a cinema (in no particular order): Rango, Tangled, Mars needs Moms, Kung Fu Panda, Shrek, complete with gorging on pop corn.
- You also like taking pictures

Little quirks you have developed so far include:
- Calling all forms of meat on the dining table as “Chicken”
- Learning to discriminate and prefer low-fat milk, because “mommy said…”
- Holding my head and face and turning me to the direction of whatever it is you’re talking about.
- Being an absolute camera-whore

Oh, and you have thus far been able to spell and write your name. Congratulations, baby.

But I am sad to say that this is for now my last letter to you in this series. Because instead of writing to you about things, I am currently able to say them to you face to face. A much better deal, frankly.

So while this letter seems to sound like a long-winded goodbye, it really is my “official” hello to a fully talking you (batteries not included, nor needed).

I love you.

‘catch you later.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Letters to Marge (Chapter 26): Watching you sleeping...

Dear Margaret...

I watched you sleeping... And i imagine you must be dreaming of cupcakes in the clouds, flying fish, and dogs that talk and makes jokes with you.

The yellow bricks on the road before you must be lined with little flowers that bat their eyelashes at you when you walk by. At the very least, because your own eyes are no less beautiful.

How big is the world for you to yet know, so many more colors than the forty eight crayons you doodle with, so much more music beyond the little rhymes we sing together with your mother. So much more life ahead...

Wake up tomorrow to a beautiful sun that may not last forever, but will shine for you and make blue skies and turquoise oceans that wrap the earth while you walk on it.

Do not forget to smile and look for the good in people before thinking ill of them. At least for now, while the innocence has not left you.

Walk through the day knowing that you are loved like the moon is loved by the stars that shine around her. The very stars that watch over you tonight like i do.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Letters to Marge (Chapter 25): Another Pointless Weekend 020511

Dear Marge,
So last weekend was totally unexciting and uneventful.
And i loved it.
Between a brief morning meeting for me, a morning dental appointment for your mom, Saturday found us lazing away at the house ALL DAY. And yes, i loved it.
Sunday wasn’t any better. After a restful Saturday night, we went to hear mass, then proceeded to take your grandfather out to lunch in Chinatown. This was followed by an afternoon at a mall in what used to be the Rockwell Power Plant in Makati. The mall is called (in a rather tongue-in-cheek naming) the Powerplant.
Yep, you guessed it... i loved it.
As life goes on, you may find yourself always on the run. Running after deadlines, running from people who you have deadlines for, or simply trying to get more out of each day as though it were your last. Sometimes with barely enough time to sit down for lunch.  Well, these are not necessarily bad since being wanted and sought after is a pretty neat way to live, too. But that shouldn’t be the status quo, so to speak. And to have a weekend like the one you, me and your mother just had is something special.
We ran into more than a handful of people in that small mall in a big city: we ran into a cousin and her husband, another cousin’s husband and their son, an old college friend, an Indian supplier, two old ad clients, and at least three celebrities that your mother and i know, who we’re sure don’t know us.
You had mango ice cream, your mother bought you a gray jacket at Zara that i’m sure you will not wear because it isn't pink, and i bought another Transformer toy on sale for P400 which is so hard to play with that i swear they hired the guy who designed the f*cking Rubik’s cube to do those damn robots.
And freshly roasted pork jerky.
'hear that? i loved it.
The last weekend was filled with absolutely unimportant things to do. Exactly what weekends are for, my dear. Don’t forget to have some of those from time to time. Even in the supposed prime of your life.
There was one thing important in all that: giving you more reasons to run around, laugh, and just be happy for no real reason other than being alive.
I love you.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Letters To Marge (Chapter 24): A Tale of Two Cities and a Mobile Home

This was taken on New Year's Eve
of 2011 (So that's December 31, 2010),
just to be clear.
Dearest Margaret,
You are a child of two cities, Manila and Baguio City.  Three, if you include San Diego, where we had you retrieved from a freezer tank, thawed like bacon, then shoved into your mom. But more on that some other time.
At this point, the three of us have been on the road a lot. Yup, A LOT. We drive up and down so daddy (yours truly) can keep his little ad house running in Manila, while doing his share of work for the family business in Baguio City. Lots of people i know maintain more than one business, but i’m probably the only guy i know who’s regularly involved in two companies that are literally 5 hours apart. i know what i put you and mom through. And i am both grateful and apologetic at the same time. To both you and your mom, but mostly your mom since you didn't know jack about what the heck was going on.

So your mother has two houses to take care of, one with a nice garden and lots of flowers, a big kitchen, two living rooms, and an old piano she has no idea how to play. The other house is smack in cosmopolitan Manila, a bit tiny, but is our very first home, and your mom really poured her heart into making it a nice place to live. Lucky her, huh?
So which one is home?
Well... at some point, when one is on the road so often, and one can literally choose from a whole bunch of addresses and know that one will still get his mail (is there still mail by the time you read this?), it becomes almost bothersome to have to label just one place “home.” But for me, it no longer matters where the roof i’m under is in. As long as you and your mom are with me, then i know i’m home.
In a world that gets smaller every day, we often don’t have the time to settle our asses in just one couch long enough to call it home. So always keep tabs on the people you love and love you back even more (oh my, guess who those are?), wherever there are people who love you, who will take you in and accept you for everything... yup, you guessed it... you’re home, kid.
Come home to us anytime, baby.