Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tigadong, tigadong (Rosas Pandan)

I was surprised to find this marvelous rendition of "Rosas Pandan", a Visayan (Filipino) folkloric song by an Austrian chorale group. Seems like this piece had been covered by Russians, Chinese, Americans, and Koreans.

Rosas Pandan is a Cebuano folk song written by George Hernandez about a pretty mountain maid who loves to dance the balitaw. The vibrant melody and intricate harmonies lend to a joyous celebration of music that transcend differences in language.

5th world choir games gala concert lala vocalensemble Graz Austria

Moscow's Boy Choir

Associação Canto Coral Porto Alegre

Here's the original Rosas Pandan by the indomitable Pilita Corrales, Asia's Queen of Songs:

It has been a delight to see other international choirs embrace the beautiful melodies of Filipino folk songs.

Czech Choir sings "Ikaw" with Ateneo College Glee Club

Libera Choir performs "Bayan Ko"

Monday, October 18, 2010

Reflections on 9/11

September 11,2010. New York

Nine years ago, I stood on the platform of a Manhattan-bound E train to spend my birthday morning at the bookstore cafe in World Trade Center. Just as the train was pulling into the station, something inexplicable gripped me. I turned around, crossed to the west-bound platform to the train back to home, to safety. I was given the chance to hug my son again.

September 11, 2001 started as just an ordinary day; clear, blue skies on a mild summer day in the normal hustle and bustle of New York City. Just an ordinary day suddenly pushed into the annals of history as the day when the world stood still and New York City went dark.

I was spared, and it made me much more grateful for the gift of life from God and for the chance to spend it with family and friends. Thank you.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Love Poems

Looking back at poems I've written during the 80's... those bittersweet romantic times of loves found and lost. Some maudlin sentiments.

Like the birds in the clear blue sky
I falter, yet never stop to fly.

Met a man, held eyes with him
I blushed and remembered feelings long forgotten
Something like ... deja vu.

Last night... I dreamed of you. and of us together
I reached back... retraced the path to our yesteryears
And I closed my eyes, just long enough to remember
Just long enough to cry.

I would catch myself staring blankly
And I would remember far beyond in time
Of wondrous moments, of that beautiful feeling
And oftentimes...
I would reprimand myself for being such a sentimental fool.

I wish you never loved me
I wish you never even cared
And at times, I wish we've never even met
For dear friend, it hurts to say "No"
And to know that things just couldn't be so.

I barricaded myself with insurmountable walls and built gates so high
Not wanting someone to break through my defenses...
So afraid to be exposed and let the world to see...
the nakedness of my spirit, the vulnerability of my soul, the weakness of my emotions
I don't want to be hurt again.

I found you
You found me
Why is it we found we're not for each other after all?

If I meet someone... how could I tell him that I have no more love to share?
How could I admit that all these emotions have been drained from me?

I dream of chasing rainbows
But they would disappear once I'm on the verge of touching them
And I would then dream of you chasing me offering a plate of little rainbows
I would then turn my back and continue chasing my own rainbows
And when I wake up
I think of you and me.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Starting Over- (a short story)

"Go for it, Andy."

"Uncle Frank, mom thinks I should reconsider. I will be the only divorcee in the family."

"Life is too precious to waste on a scumbag. Start over."

Andrea "Andy" Guzman remembered this conversation from a year ago. Her uncle provided unwavering support when she divorced her philandering husband against the wishes of her ultra-religious family. Her mom's quiet recriminations hurt more than the breakdown of her marriage.

And now, three months after succumbing from a massive heart attack, Uncle Frank is still protecting his niece. He bequeathed his 3-bedroom Victorian house in North Carolina to Andy. He gave her a chance to start over.

A new home, a new life. The house is her safe haven from the bitter memories in New York. And as a nurse practitioner, she landed a job at the local hospital where her uncle used to be the supervising doctor. Tomorrow, the local contractor that her real estate agent had contacted is coming to talk about renovations for the house.

Andy groaned at all the unpacking facing her. The bedroom’s walk-in closet needed more shelves on the back wall. As she bent to retrieve her bag on the floor, her head hit the wall, and the wall gave way.

A door to another walk-in closet? A secret room? Andy groped for a wall switch. The room illuminated, it was as if she stepped onto a woman's boudoir. One side of the wall was a rack of stylish women's suits and signature bags. A full mirror reflected her confused look.

" Uncle Frank had a mistress?”. Not surprising since he was proud of his gigolo reputation. Judging by the quality of the clothes, his mistress led a busy social life, a 'fashionista'".

On a small desk near the door lay a keepsake box with a rich wood finish with her uncle's name engraved on the top. The box contained letters and poems in her uncle's and another person's handwriting.

Some letters were written by someone named Alex. "Probably, short for Alexandra.".

Andy skimmed through Alex's letters that spoke of stolen times and the writer's longing to "stop the pretense". Reading the emotional upheaval that the woman was going through, Andy wondered about the obstacles that she was writing about. The letters spoke of forbidden love, but also of the cherished memories shared with her 'soul mate'.

Alex wrote, "My son even noticed that I look happier when you are around. He understands what we are going through." It finally dawned on Andy that her uncle was carrying an affair with a married woman.

One note hinted of the couple’s matchmaking plans, "Your niece Andy has your kind eyes . I wish my son Jordan can meet her".

Just as suddenly, Alex's letters stopped. Then Uncle Frank started writing short poems. The family used to make fun of his writing skills describing his journalistic writings as methodical with military precision, and therefore devoid of emotions. He had always scoffed at maudlin sentiments.

Uncle Frank wrote, "Last night, I dreamed of you. I reached back... retraced the path to our yesteryears. And I closed my eyes, just long enough to remember, just long enough to cry. I embraced the pillow and pretended it was you. And now, it is too late."

Andy's heart skipped in fear of what's to come next.

A folded newspaper clipping revealed an obituary for a middle-aged man. It read of the passing of Alex Smith, respected newspaper columnist, and a divorced father of three from a car-crash a year ago. The picture was taken at a happier time. Alex had an engaging smile that reached up to his light-colored eyes.

Andy remembered her uncle’s distracted air as they strolled in Central Park a year ago. He advised, "Start over. And when you build your new life, make sure you leave room for love. When you finally found the love of your life, you have to fight for him."

Wrapped in her own misery, Andy had dismissed her uncle's agonized look as a reflection of her feelings. She did not know that his profound sadness was because of the loss of the love of his life.

Shocked by the revelation of her uncle's sexuality, Andy bemoaned his uncle's tortured existence. She cried herself to sleep. In her dream, her uncle's tentative expression changed to a grateful smile when she hugged him in total acceptance.

The next day, the contractor arrived to discuss the renovation project. He looked familiar. His blue eyes mesmerized Andy as he introduced himself.

"Hi, I'm Jordan Smith."

You remind me I live in a shell
Safe from the past and doin' okay but not very well
No jolts, no surprises, no crisis arises
My life goes along as it should
It's all very nice, not very good

And I'm ready to take a chance again
Ready to put my love on the line with you
Been livin' with nothing for show for it
You get what you get when you go for it
And I'm ready to take a chance again with you