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Archive for October 2014

I had been singing this haunting song to my twins when I put them to sleep since┬áthe day I brought them home from the hospital until tonight. Yeah, I know it’s not a good lullaby but it’s the only song I could think of that I couldn’t sing without my entire being shredded into little pieces and stuffed into each note that comes out of my vocal chords.

I got to know this song through Patatag‘s Nagbabagang Lupa album, which my parents brought home one day. It was rare that my parents could buy tapes then because money was really tight so it was a novelty for us to have a tape of any musical genre at home. That tape was played to death on our lone radio/cassette player that sat on top of our mala-cabinet black and white TV.

I think my youngest sister and I had our first heartbreak with that album. I remember that same sister crying after hearing “Tano” because “kawawa naman sya.” I was six years old and my sister was five. The country was about to see its first mass uprising to get rid of a dictator. The housewife of a murdered senator was about to run for president.

Fast-forward, my parents again brought home another tape but this time it was by Joey Ayala, his first album. I discovered he was the composer of the song that has haunted my sleep for so long.

I saved bits of my small weekly allowance to buy his succeeding albums. I was in grade school that time. Later on I fell in love with “Walang Hanggang Paalam.” (That’s for another future blog entry.)

Anyway, the Patatag’s rendition was the one that got stuck in my head for 30 years. It was painful and at the same time beautiful. Joey Ayala’s song was so visual and yet deep. It was a song told from the point of view of a bird, seeing the desolation caused by war. A village caught in the middle of gunfire.

Well at least that was my interpretation when I was in high school and college. I have yet to Google its real meaning or the circumstances surrounding that song.

Years later, I had a gig writing for a series of 2-minute spots about child soldiers for RMN. Dong Abay was one of the musicians working on the series. We spent an afternoon or two figuring out how to incorporate the revised lyrics of “Pen pen de sarapen” with granadas and armalites and my script into 2-minute spots (In the end we used one of his original songs for some of the spots instead).

I was too shy to chat with him about Patatag then. I was also probably starstruck (hey, he was one-half of Yano of my highschool and college years!) and all I managed was “Yeah, I’ll email you my script.”

A decade later, I got to work with AR Sabangan when we were doing investigative stories for InterAksyon. I learned that she was part of the Nagbabagang Lupa album and she was the one who recruited Dong Abay and Grace Nono to join Patatag. Parang, whoa, my youth revisited (sorry, AR, alam mo namang malaki tanda mo sa kin hehehe).

One hazy night (well, hazy because my head was already cloudy with all the stuff we had been doing for our investigative gig), we were able to go down the Patatag memory lane, allowing me to ask her about some of the lyrics of the songs that played on a loop in my head for 30 years.

And I told her that Wala Nang Tao sa Sta Filomena is one of my favorites and their rendition is the one I could never forget.

I hope this song will be remembered by my kids as something that their mother had sung to them while they slept. A song that would remind them that all is not well in other parts of this country. I just hope when they grow up, there won’t be any Sta Filomenas anymore.

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Went overseas because of some assignment and because i had to deal with some administrative stuff for work. I just experienced how it is to be an OFW and i say it was one hell of an experience. My only consolation was that I knew I would be going home by the end of the week whereas real OFWs had to deal with months or years of loneliness.

While I was away, I missed my twins’ first public performance in school where they sang danced. I wasn’t able to take photos.

I learned about my kids’ late night/early morning cries as they searched for mommy in bed. It broke my heart but I was so far away and all I could do was pray.

My routine was to walk to work (my hotel was just near my place of work), do the usual stuff a reporter is supposed to do, go home at 8:30 pm, have dinner, and plop on my hotel bed at 10 pm. Repeat. Everyday. Thank God for Viber, I could communicate with my family whenever I was within a wifi hotspot. My phone was on roaming mode but of course calls are expensive.

I couldn’t wait to get back to Manila.

Imagine, it was just only for a week. What if I was faced with months and months of loneliness but financial circumstances didn’t give me any choice?

Salute to the OFWs. I just wish you didn’t have to be there wherever you are. I wish jobs are plentiful here back home.

My daughter (the younger of the twins) was once again confined in the hospital in August due to a severe bronchial asthma attack. We were admitted at 5 am and the only available bed in the pediatric wing was in the ward. I say that was fine since the hospital was expensive and their semi-private and ward rooms (four in a room) aren’t really that bad.

Yeah, you get to share the room, have to put up with the noise of others and you have to share the bathroom. But that set-up was interesting for a journalist like me since I get to hear about the stories of each patient.

One of the stories that struck me was that of A.

A is a four-year-old brain cancer survivor. Brain cancer. It is one of the most painful cancers out there according to an article I’ve read years ago. And here was A, with stitches on his head, enduring one of the most painful things the physical world can offer.

His mother told me he was diagnosed at age 2.5 after he complained of a debilitating pain at the back of his head. There was a lump and it turned out to be cancerous. She said her son went through all the treatments and therapies available. He used to be a chubby kid, his mom said, but looking at him now, A has been reduced to almost skin and bones.

But still his mother is very generous with her smiles. She talks as if what she and her son went through was just as simple as having his tonsils removed.

“Halos dito na nga yan lumaki. Dito na sya nagbirthday,” A’s mother told me, with a catch in her voice.

Fighting for her son’s life is not cheap. Their finances, as expected, suffered to the point that they are now a charity case of this well-known hospital. She diligently queues up at PCSO for aid. Her older daughter stopped going to school to ease the financial burden and to help in taking care of A.

What this mother and child went through is something I hope I will never go through myself. I salute their courage and strength.

God bless them.

A’s mom said her son used to sing and dance like my little girl, before he was diagnosed. There were no tears in her eyes. Her voice was not breaking. Probably she had shed enough. Probably she has already lost her voice a thousand times. Here she was, she was talking to me in a voice that tells me her son will soon learn how to walk again. Brain cancer has weakened his leg muscles since he spent most of his time in bed.


life in business journalism

crazy. exciting. boring to some but hey, you get to understand the world better when you're a business journalist. you learn to be patient with tons of documents, make sense of numbers and charts. all geeky stuff. this is my story, behind the scenes.
October 2014
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