We All Want To Change The World

October 22, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been going through my old posts on my Facebook account and I stumbled upon a rant I wrote more than a year ago. I can’t seem to remember what came over me when I did this. Something really annoying and ridiculous must have caught my attention then. The short note is entitled “Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan”, from Dr. Jose Rizal’s famous quote.

“Not anymore. Not with the way parents handle their kids. Not with the way the media depreciates our morals and values. Not with the way our institutions mold the minds of our youth. Not with the way technology undermines the value of hard work and manual labor. Not with the way globalization murders our sense of national pride. Not with the way our own way of thinking forces us to conform with society and give up our individuality.

Well, I think I really was pissed over something or someone when I punched those harsh lines on my laptop but I can’t remember what or who that is. I probably must have seen something dumb on T.V. or read something ridiculous on the Internet. That’s pretty common nowadays. Rant it may be, the sentiment that I had then remains pretty much the same especially when I take a closer look at all the crazy things that’s been happening not just in our country, but across the globe. Look around and see what’s going on: climate change, earthquakes, abortion, rape, price hikes, corrupt leaders, military dictators, genocide, extrajudicial killings, corporate greed. The world has become a circus of negativity and we all have front row seats to see all the action that’s been coming down.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t give a damn. The sad truth is, we are fixated with the idea that our personal growth is the most important ordeal in the entire universe. In effect, what should just be a short phase in our lives becomes an endless cycle that consumes us until we are too old enough to enjoy and live life. I think, it’s because of this selfish perspective that most of us have no deep sense of being and purpose. As a race, we are disconnected from each other with no aspirations of transcending to a higher meaning of existence. We are hindered by this infectious concept from being aware of what needs to be done to correct the things that lead us to our current state of disarray.

I admit that it’s our fault why we chose to be stuck in this daily grind. However, I can’t help but think that maybe the entire system we are exposed to from birth to death is designed to cripple us to conformity in exchange for a measly monthly fee at the expense of our freedom, passion, time and soul. In the grand scheme of things, we probably are an endless supply of laborers whose voices are contained and whose welfare are undermined. Is it possible that maybe, this quest for personal growth as employees is not an innate necessity but just a promising idea implanted into our minds to keep the system running?

I agree that work is a necessity for survival in this modern day and age. I have nothing against earning a living and I think that it is every man and woman’s lawful right to have a well-paying job that would enable him or her to start a self-sufficient life. The thing is, this never comes true for everyone who’s on a payroll. What supposedly is a reachable ambition for the common people has turned into an elusive fantasy which would probably take a lifetime to obtain. What’s worse, the improbability increases with every generation that is born. Unless we do something about it, we might end up spending the rest of our lives in an endless and unrewarding chase.

We live in a world with a flawed economic system designed to give more power to the ruling class who makes up a very small percentage of the global population. The way I see it, the rest of us who belong to the larger chunk are made to feel helpless and powerless by the need to survive by their rules. Every time we abide by them, we lose the strength of our character and will as they are replaced with a false sense of self-satisfaction inspired by mediocrity. We forget that there is a need to change the world for the better, for the common good. We then become a shell of our former selves: empty, desolate, despised.

I have no idea what it is like to be really wealthy though I admit I often dream of being filthy rich to spare me from the maddening routines of an eight to five career. It scares me to think that I might lose all these sentiments if I started getting a higher pay or better recognition in what I do since it might turn me deaf and blind to the realities faced by the working class I belong to. At this point in my life, I am heavily dependent on the system for the sake of my family especially Athan’s. I know that there will come a time that this would eventually end and that I will be able to provide for my loved ones with the fruits of my own labor, exactly the way I planned it.

There is a great need for change in our world and there is enough room for us to improve its condition. The moment we give in to the pressures and promises that are shoved upon us, then we lose the chance of making a difference in this life. It is always possible that the things we do, as long as they are driven by truth and kindness, could ignite the movement that would bring about a revolution that could positively change the way we live.

People, this is just a dream away
I see us walking to a better day
Gonna be alright when tomorrow comes
After the heat of the revolution ~ Derek Trucks Band, Revolution

The Beat Goes On

October 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Video streaming sites are one of the best things man ever brought to existence. Thanks to these gold mines, I’ve been getting glimpses of an era that I missed more or less by two decades. I spent the past couple of days watching live performances by old school bands who laid down the foundation of rock and paved the way for the hundreds of artists who followed suit and eventually thrived on the scene. Among them are the Beatles.

The original Fab Four from Liverpool greatly influenced my passion for music. Though I learned about them when I was five, I still have the same amount of interest in their craft when I first saw them featured on a TV documentary which was aired everyday on a local channel. Back then, I only knew that they were a band that were very popular during a time when both my Dad and Mom were just teenagers. It never occurred to me that those four lads with mop-tops managed to change the world and had gotten away with it.

As I grew up, the curiosity I had for them eventually turned into admiration which fueled the desire to learn more about John Lennon, the cynical genius, Paul McCartney, the sentimental charmer, George Harrison, the spiritual introvert and Ringo Starr, the easy-going comic. Each of them contributed a great deal of their soul to what is probably the most influential rock band of the previous century.

From L to R: Ringgo Starr, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon

What started as a skiffle group matured into the most iconic figure in rock history that crafted songs that revolutionized the scene. Their sound, which rooted from the rock n’ roll influence of their predecessors such as Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry, developed its own entity that is timeless at the same time, unique. Listen to a Beatles track and you will immediately recognize the distinct formula, which bears the template of modern rock music. Initially a guitar-driven act, the sound of the Beatles is composed of John’s impetuous rhythm guitar coupled with George’s blues inspired lead guitar riffs, which are both layered on the combined groove of Paul’s melodic bass lines and Ringo’s trademark drum shuffle.

Perhaps, what really brought the Beatles to their legendary status is the potency of their skill in song composition. Their success is often credited to the most successful songwriting team in rock, the Lennon-McCartney partnership. This collaboration filled up the band’s repertoire from cradle to grave. Though John and Paul’s personality and perspective often clashed, their joint effort brought out the best in each other’s craft. It is also worthy to note that the Beatles also had in their arsenal the raw and budding songwriting talent of George, who also penned a number of superb songs which reflected the spiritual tone of his character.

These elements drove the Beatles from anonymity to fame, which eventually led to the transcendence of their influence beyond the music scene. The Beatles’ presented a simple idea: freedom. This probably was the reason why they instantly became a hit back then. They started a revolution which took the globe by surprise and forever changed how common people lived their lives. In a way, they offered an alternative to the uptight way of life folks back then were accustomed to.

Some say the Beatles’ rise to fame wrought adverse effects to our culture and even started the emergence of sex, drugs, alcohol, and other negative stuff currently present in our society. That may be true. However, you can’t help but think about the fact that the Beatles have come and gone yet, most of us cling to the temporary fixes these things offer. Personally, I think the Beatles gave the world an excellent perspective on how to live life with freedom, peace and love but as always, the rest of us only noticed the superficial perks that came along with it. I think at the end of the day, whatever trend or fad may be shoved unto us, it is always our personal responsibility to choose whether we accept all that it has to offer and let it dictate how we live or just incorporate the good things from it into our lives and let it guide us into making this world a more livable place to be. I choose the latter and for me, the Beat will go on and on.

A dialogue between a young John Lennon and Paul McCartney from the 2009 movie, “Nowhere Boy”:
John: Why do you know so much? I mean you don’t seem like the rock and roll kind of guy.
Paul: What you mean because I don’t go around smashing things up and… acting like dick?
John: Yeah.
Paul: No. It’s the music. That’s it. Just the music. Simple.

DISCLAIMER: Image used for this entry is taken from the link below.
The Beatles:

Mang Kiko

August 21, 2011 Leave a comment

I had a dream about my grandfather the other night. He passed away two years ago when he failed to recover from a major head surgery that was meant to treat an aneurysm which developed in his brain. He was bedridden for six months before he met his demise so you could say that his death freed him from the agony his quality of life then brought him. However, there were plenty of things that were left unsaid and undone that most of us, the people he left behind would definitely bear for the rest of our lives.

He looked great when I saw him the other night as we were on-board a northbound train. He was his healthy old self again; an image far from what me and my mom last saw at his death bed. This was the groovy old man who wore his brown sunglasses underneath the same mop-top haircut that I am sporting now. It was very surreal and it felt that he was really alive. I looked at him and he asked me what kind of music was I listening to right now. I was supposed to tell him something that would probably make him smile. Unfortunately, my conscious mind realized that the old man was dead and that woke me up.

I wanted to tell him that I was listening to his music. I wanted him to know that me and my dad found copies of two LP’s he made back in the day when he was the leader of a big band in Clark. I wanted to say that he was one hell of a trumpet player and I truly admire the quality of his work.

My grandfather lived a grand life before he passed away. Like any man, he had his share of faults. Unlike most of us, he had a taste of greatness which he used to give his family and the many other people he took under his wing an opportunity to live a decent life. I will always be proud of him because of that.

And They Went Away For A Day

May 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Since Ava and Athan are both in Taiwan right now, I’m left with spending the weekends by myself. As Ava would put it, I have my “Me Time”. Honestly I’m realy not used to it since I always stay with my babies on weekends. I really miss them terribly.

When I woke up this morning, I really didn’t know what to do. I decided I should have my man date with Jesus. It was a good one! I went to church at around 12 and it injected my soul with good vibes. I really needed that with all the stress from work recently. By the way, I might join a songwriting contest which will be hosted by our parish. There’s really no writing involved since the lyrics are already made. The contestants just have to add a melody to it. I hope I come up with a catchy chord progression. The selected entry wins 5,000 bucks. Ain’t that sweet?

After mass, I headed home and played Infamous for an hour. It’s really an awesome game where you play as Cole McGrath, a bike messenger turned super hero after being exposed to a mysterious object called the Ray Sphere. Doing so caused a huge explosion to the story’s fictional setting of Empire City. For some unknown reason, Cole acquired the ability to control electricity.

I’m probably 70% into the game and I can say that it really is a masterpiece. It lets you decide if you want to become the righteous do-gooder or a villainous scum bag. I’m impressed with how it reacts to your choices. Your deeds dictate your rank as a hero or villain. For my first play through, I chose the path of the good guy. Every time I move Cole around the streets of Empire City, the people react positively when they see him. Some would wave at him while others would pull out their cameras to take a snapshot of their hero.

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Cole McGrath

Cole McGrath watching over Empire City

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Another thing that caught my attention were the abilities that Cole gains throughout the game. He can shoot thunderbolts, glide through the air and rail-grind on train tracks and electric wires. Aside from that, he can also scale almost any structure in the city. I can only imagine the amount of time the developers painstakingly spent to get the life-like detail in the game’s physics engine. It’s these details that makes you want to come back to Empire City every time.

At around 2 p.m., an old friend and bandmate of mine, Eros Arbilon dropped by. I asked him last week if he could sing some of my songs. We haven’t jammed for almost 8 years and I was really glad that after all this time, we still clicked. We recorded two songs today. I posted Liham in one of my previous entries featuring Dawn on lead guitar. Too bad he wasn’t able to join since he had somewhere to be. You can check out the songs on my SoundCloud page. Just click on the these: Liham, Kama.

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Eros Arbilon

Eros

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It was a good thing to catch up with an old buddy. Eros was one of the guys from high school whom you can count on. We were in a band called Idlefrets back then and we used to cover True Faith and Stone Temple Pilots songs. We won 2nd place in our school’s battle of the bands. Mathew and his band, Braincloud won first. We reminisced on the old days and we realized how far we’ve come along with music. He now plays for the indie rock band, Away For The Day. Check them out!

We talked about how life has been for us after our jam session. He works as a film archivist for the government and I work as a programmer for a private bank. Though our jobs are different in nature, we share the same sentiments regarding the compensation that come with them. Though we try not to complain, we both agreed that there must be something better than what the world has in store for most of us. The sad thing is, we tend to be okay with the fact that the common Filipino laborer is underpaid, unrecognized and unvalued. I wonder when all of this would change. I have always believed that the greatest asset for any agency or enterprise, would be the people who spend a large portion of their day for the benefit of its existence.

Music is our saving grace from all the shit that we have to put up with. I’m glad that I had this chance to work with a good friend and do something that we have passion for. Without it, the world would truly be a sick, sad place to be in.

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV
And you think you’re so clever and classless and free
But you’re still peasants as far as I can see
A working class hero is something to be ~ John Lennon, Working Class Hero

Good Friday 2011

April 23, 2011 4 comments

Today is Good Friday. The family and I went to Sta. Mesa for the Prusisyon ng Santo Entierro, translated as Procession of the Holy Burial. Basically, it is a funeral procession where devotees carry the image of the deceased Christ. We woke up a bit late today but we still managed to make it in time for the event.

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Image of the Deceased Christ

The image of the deceased Christ

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Before the procession started, I took the liberty of taking photos of the other holy images that were included in the march.

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1

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2

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3

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4

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5

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It took us exactly three hours to complete the route which started and ended at our parish, Our Lady of Fatima Parish Church. It’s been a while since I joined a procession and it was a very nostalgic experience for me. I used to serve the church as an altar boy.

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The Altar of Our Lady of Fatima Parish Church

The altar of Our Lady of Fatima Parish Church

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After the long trek along the streets of Bacood, the people were asked to line up for the Pahalik sa Señor. The devotees venerate Christ by kissing his wounded hand. Once we had our turn, Ava and I decided to go home since it was already getting late and we still have a long drive home.

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Pahalik sa Señor

Believe it or not, this is what lining up means. I think we’re allergic to it.

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The celebration of the Holy Week is a very important event in a country where most people are born and raised as Catholics. I studied in Catholic schools all my life. I was taught that this was a time for reflection since this was the most significant element of our religion since Christ’s death and resurrection assures us of our own salvation.

On our way home, I realized that we don’t have to be Catholic or Christian to be able to reflect on the state of the intangible aspect of our being. Though I am Catholic, I believe we can never say that there is one true religion. However, I believe that there is one true God, the Creator of this universe and our limited perception of the nature of this entity as well as the cultural diversity of our race is the reason why there are so many versions of religion around. I prefer to think that two thousand years ago, a carpenter walked on the face of this earth and gave us an excellent idea on how life should be lived.

“He [God] still digs humanity, but it bothers Him to see the shit that gets carried out in His name – wars, bigotry, televangelism. But especially the factioning of all religions. He said humanity took a good idea and like always, built a belief structure on it. I think it’s better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier. Life should be malleable and progressive; working from idea to idea permits that. Beliefs anchor you to certain points and limit growth; new ideas can’t generate. Life becomes stagnant.” ~ Rufus the 13th Apostle, Dogma

Happy Birthday, Shopping Queen!

April 21, 2011 2 comments

Happy Birthday, Bie! Today is your special day and I wish you a great and fun day despite the fact that today is Maundy Thursday. Don’t worry, if it doesn’t work out, we’ll party on Easter!

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With My Shopping Queen

Me and my Shopping Queen, Ava

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I believe in the things that you do and I know that you have it in you to be someone great in this world. As long as you remain true to what you want and never fail to lose faith in what you can do, then anything is within reach for you. Never let this world get you down.

I wish you happiness and love as you start another year full of opportunities to unleash your thoughts and talents. May you meet more great people who will help you and be with you as you continue to pursue to live your dream as an artist. Most importantly, may your relationship with God, your family and friends continue to grow with all the special moments that you will share with them.

Athan and I will always be proud of you and your achievements. Always remember, we’re always here for you. I love you very much!

Craving For A Final Fantasy

April 19, 2011 Leave a comment

I really can’t wait to get my hands on this! Epic!