Sunday, August 21, 2016

Jose Mari Chan- A Musical Poet


“Each song is a story....each story has a song”.
Jose Mari Chan is a musical poet. He is a Filipino-Chinese singer/songwriter who weaves the stories in his songs. He is a musician, lyricist, and performer who started his career in the 1960’s. His triple-platinum and Double-Diamond albums are full of songs that have withstood the test of time. He is a multi-awarded genius whose compositions range from romantic ballads to commercial jingles to theme songs to motion picture scores. How come he is not a National Artist yet?

Chan's musical poetry is something I always come back to, its beautiful melodies and eloquent lyrics are soothing to the soul. Especially today, I needed to clean my ears after I caught snippets of ugly rap music from a passing motorist (ugh!). The beautiful lyrics of Afterglow is an antidote to the nonsensical/disgusting prose of Kanye West.

Growing up in the Philippines, I sang along Jose Mari Chan's many songs, secretly dreaming of someone writing a romantic ballad, just for me. The songs remind me of simpler but joyous times, when the lyrics of the songs paint the picture vividly and fill you with emotions. As there are comfort foods, Constant Change and Love to Last a Lifetime are among my comfort songs. Chan’s compositions are definitely part of the soundtrack of my life.

Afterglow - First Single 1967

We're at the afterglow
Of what we both do know
Known as the spring of our youth.
We've loved and shared the dawn
And hoped that we'd go on
'Cause even that dawn had to go.

Constant Change

We're on the road
We move from place to place
And oftentimes when I'm about to call it home
We'd have to move along
Life is a constant change...

Can We Just Stop And Talk Awhile - Lea Salonga version

Fancy meeting you alone in the crowd
Couldn't help but notice your smile
While everybody else around us is going about
Can we just stop and talk awhile? I've been often told our world's growing old
And that friends are harder to find
Do tell me more about yourself
We could share a thought or two
Now who would mind?

Sing me a song again, Daddy

Sing me a song again, Daddy
Sing me a happy verse.
Teach me those clever lines you sang
As you carried me on your shoulders.
Sing me that hymn that you so loudly
Sang in church with mom.
Sing it again to me and fill me
With all your words of wisdom.

Beautiful Girl

Beautiful girl, wherever you are
I knew when I saw you, you had opened the door
I knew that I'd love again after a long, long while
I'd love again.

Please Be Careful with My Heart - Sarah Geronimo and Christian Bautista version

If you love me like you tell me
Please be careful with my heart
You can take it just don't break it
Or my world will fall apart

You are my first romance
And I'm willing to take a chance
That 'till life is through
I'll still be loving you

Can't We Start Over Again

All through my life of seasons
No matter how far I roam
Always there's something missing inside
Yearning to come back home

You are the one I return to
Love. Only love leads the way
Give us this chance to start over again
Darling, I'm coming home to stay.

My Girl, My Woman, My Friend - featuring Janet Basco

When my work is through at the end of the day
There's nothing else that I'd rather do
Than to be with you at the end of the day
To be right by your side makes me feel brand new
'Cause you're my girl, my woman, my friend
And that's how it's gonna be till the end.
Loving you is what I live for
And I can't ask for anything more
You're my woman, my girl, and my friend
Rolled into one.

Afraid For Love To Fade

I can't let you pass me by
I just can't let you go but I know
That I am much too shy to let you know
Afraid that I might say the wrong
Words and displease you
Afraid for love to fade
Before it can come true

Lea Salonga version

A Love To Last A Lifetime

We're all just merely passing through
Doing what we can do in a lifetime
We have more than one adventure to take
More than one dream to make in our lifetime
As for me there's only one dream
And that's to love you, my love
With a love to last a lifetime

Mamang Sorbetero (from Mr. Songwriter)

The melody of Celeste Legaspi's folk hit 'Mamang Sorbetero' was actually derived from Chan's 'Mr. Songwriter.'

Monday, August 8, 2016

Tasty and the Reluctant Cook

This reluctant cook is currently preoccupied with watching the short one-minute “Tasty” posts on FaceBook. It is an anomaly that I drool over the food videos on how to make lasagna poppers, taco-stuffed peppers, cinnamon roll french toast bake, and churro ice cream bowls. Those are works of art, in my opinion. Although I am mesmerized by these "Tasty" videos, I am not convinced that cooking is easy and relaxing.

Back in the 1980s when I was just starting as a nurse in the United States, I shared an apartment with four roommates. My friends (Tess, Evelyn, and Fe) could whip out delicious dishes without any effort, without breaking a sweat. We had a deal; whoever was off duty from work would cook dinner for the rest. I dreaded those days.

My first thoughts upon waking up were: “What would I cook?” and “Would they eat it?”. While others have told me that cooking is their stress therapy, it was the opposite for me. I was so exhausted from the stress of even thinking about the steps in the food preparation. Cooking jangled my nerves and definitely impacted my mental well-being.

My mother was to blame for my lack of culinary skills. When I was a child, my mother didn’t like anyone underfoot when she was cooking in the kitchen. The one time she let me cook fried fish, I almost burned the house down. Or maybe she just resigned to the fact that I would rather read my books than cook anything. I would rather daydream than peel onions. I prefer writing than measuring how much salt and how much pepper to put on the food. I scoffed whenever somebody said that "the best way to a man's heart is through his stomach". Who comes up with idiotic things like this?

So, when I flew over to America, I was the least domesticated among the group of nurses who descended upon Roosevelt Island. My friends’ version of the classic Filipino food of adobo, sinigang and tinola were way much more delicious than mine. Same ingredients, but my food always ended up with either too much or too little fish sauce, overcooked or undercooked, and too bland or too salty.

But since I had to do my share of chores, I tried my best in the kitchen. I really did. I decided to experiment. I surprised my friends with Pork and Beans with ground beef, Monggo with sardines, and rubbery beef steak. Bless their hearts, my roommates managed not to vomit after every dish. There was also the incident of the oven. I had decided to bake the chicken. When I opened the oven door, a flash fire singed my eyebrows and lashes. To this day, I have not baked anything.

In the end, to save my sanity as well as to release my friends from punishment, I told them that I would rather wash the dishes than come near the stove again. The sighs of relief after this pronouncement should have insulted me. Actually, abstaining from cooking saved the friendship. My adventures in cooking became fodder for jokes whenever I meet with my friends again. I was very much self-aware that my talents did not extend to cooking.

A few years later, I cooked out of obligation because I had a child to feed. I don’t think I starved my family. My then-husband was even more clueless than me. In a week’s time, I alternated between fried chicken, pork chops, or anything with the pre-mixed ingredients in a pack. The week-ends were spent trying out the neighborhood restaurants. Even with my inadequate cooking skills, my son grew up healthy. I don’t think that his fascination with the Food Channel is a symptom of food deprivation. Maybe, those frequent food trips during the week-ends made him a gourmet.

Today, I am thankful for take-outs and deliveries; good food is just a phone call away. And just because I’m obsessed with the “Tasty” videos, it does not mean that I will finally don my apron again. Hmmph, cooking is over-rated.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Ken Lee, Miss Tres and Other Funny Musical Performances

This year, American Idol completed its incomparable 15-season run. Much as it has given us singing superstars like Kelly Clarkson, I must admit I enjoyed watching the funny (or bad) auditions. There are people who are clueless about their lack of talents. But the show certainly gave us a few hours of enjoyment, a sure stress-reducer. The belly laughs they induce do release tension, lower the blood pressure, and reinforce my belief that there are more tone-deaf people than me.

You all remember William Hung of the “She Bangs” fame (or infamy) who parlayed his more than 15-minutes into a short-lived musical career. I did not care about the stereotypical characterization, but I truly enjoyed his optimistic off-key renditions for the simple reason: he made me laugh. He was, for lack of a better word, charming.

Here are my favorite funny musical performances from other talent shows. Is there any one funnier than Ken Lee?

“Ken Lee”?, from Bulgarian Idol.
I have watched this many times, and this rendition never fails to make me laugh. Check out her attitude when the judge asked her what language was she singing in. "No one ken to ken to sivmen, nor yon clees toju maliveh". "English". Of course. Thank you, Ken Lee.

Miss Tres on “Asia's Got Talent”.
Just watch and be amazed. Listen for their real names.

Weird Guys on 'France Got Talent'. Hey, it takes talent to work these towels around.

Fe and Rodfil: The Unlikeliest Of Singing Duos on “Asia's Got Talent”. Turn around, hahaha.

And then there are the professional ones who are clearly talented, and funny as well.

PAgagNINI is a string quartet from Spain who brings classical music and comedy together on stage. Who says classical music is boring?

Victor Borge Classic Collection - Victor Borge's Funniest Moments
The master pianist-comedian. "A smile is the shortest distance between people", yes indeed.