I’m not a huge fan of rock music, but Charles Bradley’s cover of this Black Sabbath song is ill. This kind of music is therapy. Incidentally, I was reading Milan Kundera’s “Testaments Betrayed” while I was listening to this song and this passage perfectly came about:

The word “rock” is vague; therefore, I would rather describe the magic I mean: human voices prevail over instruments, high-pitched voices over low ones; there is no contrast to the dynamics, which keep to a perpetual fortissimo that turns the singing into howling; as in jazz, the rhythm accentuates the second beat of the measure, but in a more stereotyped and noisier manner; the harmony and the melody are simplistic and thus they bring out the tone color, the only inventive element of this music; while the popular songs of the first half of the century had melodies that made poor folk cry, this so-called rock music is exempt from the sin of sentimentality; it is not sentimental, it is ecstatic, it is the prolongation of a single moment of ecstasy; and since ecstasy is a moment wrenched out of time – a brief moment without memory, a moment surrounded by forgetting – this melodic motif has no room to develop, it only repeats, without evolving or concluding.

Beautiful.

And oh, it’s finally September. In three days, I will turn 24. May life be good.

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The Revelation of Joan Didion

white

That’s me reading The White Album on my way home from Makati – the only way to endure weekend traffic.

There is a certain temperance in the voice of Joan Didion, both spoken and written, that grows on you.

It may be a hit or miss. It’s either you would enjoy her quiet style or you would hate it for its endless musings. Personally,  I find the latter one of her strongest suits, but for some, it can be exhausting. Didion likes to present mirages, as if a means to entice the reader to create an image on one’s head – both real and imagined.

This temperance, I later realized, was born by her refusal to be engulfed in the problems of her era, but also, a kind that never deterred her to be one of the greatest storytellers of our time. It’s as if her one foot was always out the door, and yet you would never notice it unless you are presented with an image of her outside her works. This restraint, this perfect exercise of control, makes her one of the best representations of the feminine voice in literary journalism because, while her stories were emotional and deeply ensconced in human nature, they were also relentless and formidable.

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march 27, 22:49

It sucks that Uber is going to be turned over to Grab next month. Most people might not really care, and would think I’m entitled for caring too much about an app that can chauffeur you from point A to point B while the rest of the country is stuck with dilapidated trains and age-old jeepneys, but so what? 2018 is a bad year for feeling anything anyway.

I have a personal connection with Uber, if that even makes sense. I like taking the Uber on my way home at night and prefer pooling not because I like to talk to people – fuck that, I don’t even talk to the drivers sometimes – but that makes the trip longer, and I’m all for that. It gives me more time to sink deep with my music, and sink deeper with my thoughts.

I’ve associated it with reevaluating my life choices, sometimes with meaningful silence, sometimes with blank spaces with good music in between. In that window I think I’m entitled to feel anything, or say anything, and no one’s going to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do.

I guess long drives just appeal to me in general, and I’m just getting sentimental. Hay. I wish I can drive. I’ve always postponed learning, but now that my younger sister can park the Everest, that leaves me the only one in my family who can’t drive. I wonder who’s going to be my first passenger, where I’m going for my first long drive, what music I would play first. The problem with firsts is that there’s so much pressure hanging over its head, like it has the capacity to fuck up whatever is going to happen thereafter. It doesn’t, does it?

I wish there’s a way for me to look into myself without the need for a chauffeured trip going home, or a person to talk to to not feel alone, but I guess these things you just learn on your own without even noticing. Life is trippy like that.

Maybe I’m too in love with the idea of nostalgia. Hence, the Uber trips. Ironically, despite being enamored with the past, here I am, still trying to jolt memories out of my way. Sometimes I cannot wait but get through the day hoping that when I wake up tomorrow, everything I loved will eventually come back to me.

But in the end, I can only hope.

“Everything Is Love” is Jay Z and Beyoncé’s declaration that they have arrived

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Source: Beyoncé / YouTube

Everything Is Love, the latest album from the most influential couple in the music industry, is the most fitting ending to what could only be hip-hop’s most powerful trilogy.

As outsiders in a relationship, we often measure a couple’s compatibility by their ability to be successful both as individuals and as a unit, by their ability to tread that thin line between growing together and growing apart. Jay Z and Beyoncé seem to have perfected that formula: one is the first rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame while the other is the world’s greatest entertainer. This, of course, was before we realize that even with their degree of success and the amount of money they gross, they are also mere mortals like us who get cheated on, abandoned, and heartbroken.

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The choicelessness of President Duterte

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Source: Presidential Communications Operations Office

In between the expletives and taboo words that Rodrigo Duterte has said over his tenure as the most powerful man in the country, there is a phrase that is worth noting not because of its profanity, but because it indicates so much about the President’s personality.

“I have no choice.”

Those four words have cropped up in at least five of his speeches, and almost always in the context of making political decisions. It’s a phrase you would not expect to hear from a leader, especially on issues between life and death, between peace and violence, even between democracy and martial rule.

In May last year, Duterte decided to declare martial law in Mindanao as soldiers and terrorists fight for the city of Marawi. He said in a visit to Iligan City, “I hope [at] the soonest time, you will find a new heart to forgive my soldiers, the government, even me for declaring martial law. I did not have any choice. They are destroying Marawi.”

That declaration was later extended to last a year.

When the president decided to bring the participation of the Philippine National Police back to the drug war despite records of brutality, mishandling of evidence, and even murder, he reasoned that he has no choice, as drug-related cases continue to worsen with the absence of the agency.

The order stood, mightily–even though evidence pointed to the police force killing a Korean businessman named Jee Ick-joo inside its headquarters, even when a CCTV footage showed policemen carrying the lifeless body of a Kian delos Santos, 17-year-old boy, who would eventually become the eventual poster boy of the war on drugs.

Most recently, the outspoken 73-year-old has implied the same reasoning in obeying government officials. He said, “even if you choose a son of a b**** president, if he is chosen by the people, we can’t do anything. We’ll just bear it and obey him.”

All this almost sounds like an act of surrender to what is inevitable. It’s as if things were bound to happen the way they did.

Is it really possible for a person to run out of possibilities, moreso, for a leader to believe that there is such a thing as choicelessness?

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Thoughts on The Weeknd’s “My Dear Melancholy,”

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Photo credit: Apple Music

Abel Tesfaye, popularly known as The Weeknd, recently released a six-track album called “My Dear Melancholy,” to the surprise of fans. With what people know from his public life and from the lyrics it contained, this latest album has been Tesfaye’s outlet for his emotions after two failed relationships with Bella Hadid and Selena Gomez.

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Tonight, I decided to tell myself that I will never be depressed again. I will never feed on this temporary abyss, and turn it into a novel, or a poem, or an intricate piece of lie to recite in front of a mirror, over and over again.

And tonight will not be like any other night, for this night will not fail to end. I will sweep my sorrows under the rug, and stomp, stomp, stomp, until all I can see are dust and particles lost in the shadows of the pitch-black night.

I will not wait for someone to hold me, until I learn how to hold, and console, my self.

And in my bed I will dream in color, in Vincent Van Gogh hues, and he will remind me, while he holds his bleeding ear, that from his insufferable life he drew that starry, starry night, and that sunflower, and that beautiful portrait of a man.

And I will wake up, not in the middle of my slumber, but in a blissful morning that smells of lilies and poppies and sandalwood. My eyes will burn from too much sunlight and my temples will hurt, but I will welcome the warmth and let it dry my wounds.

Because today, sadness will not kill me. I will kill it.

beaches and trucks

There was a time when we drove to La Union and all we had were the clothes on our back, some cheap change, and my camera. Back then, we were as hungry for adventure as we were for one another. We would occasionally throw away our responsibilities and deadlines to the curb and shut down the world that didn’t seem to give a shit about how we felt. We would go off the grid and nervously laugh about how fucked we would be the moment we return to our real lives, but we go on anyway. We were one another’s ride or die.

There was also a time when we had a huge fight over a bath towel. I used mine as a mat while sun bathing, and when I went back to our room you were furious. I laughed, of course, and that infuriated you more. You explained that bath towels and beach towels are different, but I just stopped listening after I saw you standing there with one hand in your hip, and you were wearing this beautiful yellow one piece bathing suit. I interrupted you, mid-argument, to tell you that I should not have gone out since the sunshine is already right here in front of me. You tried to stay mad, but you ended up laughing. You told me I was stupid while you remove my bath towel in my hand and replaced it with a beach towel, while calmly explaining, again and again, their differences.

That was how I defuse you – make you laugh, drop some corny one-liners until you forget about the things I lack, the things I didn’t do and should’ve done – but I realized what I was doing was no different than covering a manhole with a cardboard box.

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