Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year photos

Taken just before hearing mass and upon getting home, right before our simple New Year dinner.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

"It Is The Lord" as performed by the Francisco twins

Mama was in one of her "family videographer" moments, haha! :) Pardon the mistakes, this was an impromptu performance.

Go to my twinnie's multiply page ( to view our other "MTV video," a cover of SILENT NIGHT. ;) I sing in the 2nd verse of that video.

Here I keep my mouth shut (too busy concentrating on the piano part, haha!) and my twin sings... like an angel, does she not? ;)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Songs from the Labyrinth

I was browsing through the aisles of Music One in ATC with my twin and our good friend, Denden, when I saw :

I've been looking for this album since November of last year!!

Here's what it says on the back cover:

On Songs from the Labyrinth, Sting discovers the music of Elizabethan songwriter John Dowland: "beautiful melodies, fantastic lyrics, great accompaniments." In close collaboration with lutenist Edin Karamazov, he interweaves songs with instrumental solos and evocatives readings from a Dowland letter. Together they create what Sting calls "a musical soundtrack" to the composer's life.

I bought it on the spot and am currently listening to the exquisite tracks. Sting is AMAZING! He even contributed to the lute accompaniment (but most of it is done by Karamazov). Bagay na bagay sa Yuletide season ... especially the songs with "carol" singers, haha! I love the "reading-aloud-from-letters" tracks, Sting has a lovely speaking voice as well as his singing voice.

My favorite, thus far, is Have you seen the bright lily grow by Robert Johnson (1583-1633), the only song on the album that isn't composed by John Dowland (1563-1626). Graaaaaabe... my soul seemed to take flight when Sting sang the opening line...

Have you seen the bright lily groooooooooow

(and he literally "grew," singing an octave above and touching briefly on all the notes but treating them each with the utmost care... ach, so wunderbar!! Sting may have an "unschooled tenor," to borrow his words, but he sings with such intelligence and sensitivity!!!)

Have you seen the bright lily grow

Before rude hands have touched it?

Have you marked but the fall of snow

Before the earth hath smutched it?

Have you felt the wool of beaver,

Or swan's down ever?

Or have smelt o' the bud o' the brier,

Or the nard in the fire?

Or have tasted the bag of the bee?

O so white, O so soft, O so sweet is she!

He has a lovely version of Come again, but I find myself partial to Kathleen Battle's version. His isn't half bad... I loved how he sang the last verse:

All the night

My sleeps are full of dreams

My eyes are full of streams.

My heart takes no delight...

To see, to hear, to touch, to kiss, to die

With thee again in sweetest sympathy.

Miss Battle sings all the verses pretty much the same, and colors the words differently for more variety. But Sting goes further... in this, the last verse, the lute accompaniment is stilled and he sings the first four lines (and the four lines ONLY) a capella, oh so slowly, oh so softly. It's indescribable... the beauty of it!! And then the lute comes in, finishing the song for him.

Inspired, simply inspired!

I like Ms. Battle's less adventurous version better, though. To do justice to HER artistic genius would take a blog entry that would take me hours to type! :) Some other time, maybe.

I will defer further rapturous comments over Sting's album 'til I'm done listening to the whole thing, and now it's time to go back to my Peak Oil readings. ;)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

COPYING BEETHOVEN: A quotable quote from the movie

"The vibrations on the air are the breath of God speaking to man's soul. Music is the language of God. We musicians are as close to God as man can be. We hear His voice, we read His lips, we give birth to the children of God, who sing His praise. That's what musicians are."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The best Christmas/ Birthday gift...

... is being with your family. :D

                       We went out for a good old fashioned Filipino dinner at Lamesa Grill...

                            But home is where the cake is... here's Tata & I with The Father

  And here's The Brother with his birthday gift: a bear hug!! (In case you can't tell which one's which, that's me nearly being strangled to death: the one to the left)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Dostoevsky at Christmastime

Half of the Christmas break is over, and I haven't done any of my academic requirements (namely: 2 exams to cram for in Math 2 and EDCO 101, 2 Kodaly lesson plans for MuEd 191, 1 Research Paper on Peak Oil for Env. Sci. 1... oh, the trivialities of an academic life). The past few days is one big blur of shopping, mall-hopping, eating and drinking to one's content, playing Chrismas songs on the piano, and in my spare time: reading.

This vacation, my reading list is cut out for me (many, many thanks to those who gifted me with precious tomes instead of trinkets and edible consumables!). Not all of them are light-reading. Take last night, for example. I finished Dostoevsky's THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV (a beautiful edition at only 345 pesos in Power Books!) just before leaving for Christmas Eve mass, and was correspondingly morose and troubled for several hours after. If it weren't for the mass and our simple Christmas dinner of hot chocolate, ham, and bread and butter, I would have continued my philosophical contemplative state well into the wee hours of the morning. To call it "intellectually taxing" would be a huge understatement.

These days, it seems, my head is in the clouds more often that it is on the ground. I keep thinking about the "eternal questions," and I must make amends to my family for being more absent-minded than usual.

At the ripe old age of 21 (yes, my birthday is tomorrow), I still do not understand myself fully. I keep discovering a new aspect of my person, and am continuously amazed at my changeable nature.

Perhaps my sheltered life has something to do with it. I think I haven't gone through enough trials to form a noble character. In the words of Emily Dickinson:

       Essential Oils -- are wrung --

       The Attar from the Rose

       Be not expressed by Suns -- alone --

       It is the gift of Screws ...

More and more I believe that the self is not 'discovered,' but 'made,' and can be done so, willfully and purposefully, with God's grace.

Here's to another year of 'self-making' with His Light. 

Christmas Eve Mass 2007

They didn't have a choir, so Sir Jampao "abducted" Tata and I as well as other friends of his from the audience to form an instant choir. Our name? "FRIENDS OF THE GESU," haha!

Considering it was an impromptu performance, I think our choir (naks) sang exceedingly well. (I get to find out later that a couple of guys were from the ACS... kaya naman pala!! haha)

Nothing like singing one's heart out on Christmas Eve mass.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

How sweet the moonlight / Inwardness

"How sweet the moonlight" as performed by Andreas Scholl, countertenor.

From THE MERCHANT OF VENICE OST, music composed by Jocelyn Pook.

For some reason, this kind of singing moves me more than the extreme paroxysms of emotional outbursts in opera arias (give me Ombra mai fu any day over, say, Isolde's Liebestod).

My dear friend Miko (whom I fondly call "the best oboist in the Philippines") and I share this common love for Baroque/Renaissance music and the corresponding style of singing. Whenever we sit down for lunch or coffee together, we inevitably end up singing to one another excerpts from our recent musical discoveries. 

Some people find such music "boring" because "it's too simple."  On the contrary!!!! SO MUCH emotion is present even in one sustained note, except that it's subtly expressed and not as "in-your-face" as bel canto arias with fits of conniption present in the madly wavering vibratos.

Oh well. De gustibus non est disputandum.

= = = EDIT = = =

I was thinking that this relates to "love" as well... how some girls demand heroic acts from their suitors, that if they were in a fairy tale they'd say: "Kill me this dragon! Conquer me a kingdom! If you DO love me, prove it."

Then there are those who understand the inward nature of a love that has decided to make duty its highest challenge. For is it not a thousand times more difficult for one to conquer the dragons of boredom and infidelity day in, day out, than to seek to climb mountains, and swim across oceans to prove one's love?

Today we put too much value on external manifestations of love. I've known a couple of girls who choose their boyfriends based on the "sweetness factor," i.e. the number of times he calls them up in a day, the dozens of romantic text messages, the requisite chocolates and flowers. And not a few of them obsess over meanings, as in "if he gives you yellow flowers then you're more of friends than lovers... if he gives you red ones then he's quite passionate about you..."

And they can argue forever on the issue of quantity-versus-quality... chocolates-versus-flowers... when-is-it-a-date-and-who-should-pay-for-dinner and honey-he's-not-that-into-you-if-he-does-this-and-that and so on and so forth...

What kind of a love is it when the girl constantly has to ask the boy to "prove his love?" As if the number and greatness of these deeds is directly proportional to the degree of his regard?

And what kind of love is it when there is jealousy? Like poor Mitya who imagines the worst of his lover Grushenka and thinks that the instant his back is turned, she bestows her sweet favors on no less than his father. But even if this were so, he'd be willing to forgive as long as she begged and promised prettily that this was in the past, that he was her one true love from now on. For isn't jealousy a mark of the absence or lack of trust?

Why am I rambling on about relationships? Maybe it's because I came across the blog entry of an ate of mine from CMu, and found out that she's already engaged. :) She writes down her love story, and it is antithetical to soap-opera-plots. She has love, pure and simple... sans the frills associated with the courtship period but not necessarily meaning that it is any less romantic. And I am so happy for her!

I  am striving to develop the ability to go past the superficial, to look beyond the decor, to the essence of things (whether it be in Music, Love or mundane objects). Someday,  I hope to overcome my prejudices and be able look past the outward shell of people, and love them unconditionally AS THEY ARE... as He does.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Weihnachtsoratorium: A Personal Reflection

I'm a lucky, lucky girl. I know not what presents I'll be receiving this year (not that it really matters, since to think of Christmas time as "the-season-of-gifts-and-parties-galore" is quite un-Christian and completely misses the point of this season of Grace) ... but I have no need of any when I already had the rare opportunity to listen to the ENTIRE Christmas oratorio performed LIVE. I never had the chance to listen to it before the MMCO BACHxes project, but because I sat in most of the rehearsals I was able to familiarize myself with the work in its entirety.

I won't go into an indepth analysis of the music, of the complex harmonies/fugues side by side simple yet majestic chorale pieces. But for those who are unfamiliar with the work, here's a short intro from an online review of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields recording:

Bach created his Weihnachts-Oratorium during 1734 for performance in church over the ensuing Christmas period. It consists of six cantatas which between them tell the story of the Navitity and the events of the following week or so. The first of these cantatas, which should be performed on Christmas Day itself, tells how Joseph and Mary travelled from Nazareth to Bethlehem to fulfil the decree of Caesar Augustus and how, when they arrived there, Mary gave birth to the baby Jesus in; a stable, there being no room at the inn. The chorus opens this cantata by exhorting Christians to be joyful and ends it with a lullaby to the new born babe. The cantata for the next day opens with a Pastoral Symphony, thus setting the scene for the story of the shepherds who, while keeping watch over their flocks by night, suddenly saw an angel proclaiming that a Saviour had been born that day in the city of David. Much of the recitative sung in this cantata by the soprano (taking the part of the angel) and the tenor uses the same biblical words that Handel set in the Christmas section of Messiah. During the cantata, for the following day the shepherds make their decision to go to Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus, whom they eventually find lying in a manger. They then return home, glorifying God and telling everyone about the wondrous things they have heard and seen.
As the fourth cantata deals with the naming of the child and his circumcision, which took place when he was eight days old, it should be performed on New Year's Day. The next cantata is intended for the following Sunday and is the one which tells of the three wise men who came to Jerusalem asking where they could find the new-born King of the Jews, for they had seen his star in the East. This request caused King Herod great anguish so he called together all his chief priests and scribes to ascertain where the child could be. In the final cantata, the one for the Feast of the Epiphany, Herod charges the wise men to go to Bethlehem, find the child and then come back with news of his whereabouts, for the King says that he too wishes to go and worship him. The wise men follow their star and when they have found the young child they kneel to worship him and offer him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod they go home another way. At the end of this cantata the chorus sings - to the same chorale melody that was heard in the first cantata - of how sin, death, hell and the devil have all been vanquished now that God has sent his Son to earth.

A performance of Bach's Weihnachtsoratorium in our country is a breath of fresh air from the season's usual Messiah by Handel. Both are towering works of genius in their own right; they are both capable of "transporting" their listeners through an internal pilgrimage of sorts. But my spiritual journey through the Bach has been more profound.

I would be sitting in my chair, exhausted after a long day of attending my classes in the morning and rehearsing with the orchestra in the concert venue, still feeling the effects of not having enough sleep because of a rehearsal the night before... but as soon as the music started, all the exhaustion melted away. The world itself vanished, and I was in another time, a better place. Immersion in the music brought me to a holy plane. I could SEE the events unfolding in my mind's eye as we joyfully sang of his birth and what it meant for mankind. There were moments during the performance itself that I felt I was was positively glowing with ecstasy!!!  Especially as the choir sang the last piece, with the marvelous trumpet solo that brought to mind 1 Corinthians 15:52 :

The triumph is completed,

Our Saviour, Christ the Lord

has vanquished and defeated

the Fiend and all his horde.

Sin, Death and Hell and Satan

the Faithful may defy,

God summons His elected

to Him in Heaven High.

I fully agree with what Bernard Labadie and Lucie Rinaud said in their article on the Weihnachtsoratorium:

"At the end of these six cantatas, listeners will feel as though they've been on a journey and completed an itinerary, rather than having heard a sequence of movements...

The Christmas Oratorio... was a truly operatic expression of faith for the Christian of Bach's time. Therein lies its strength today: it doesn't try to convert the world, but touches a deep human chord that vibrates forever."

Merry Christmas everyone!

~gabitwin~ (My Old Blog)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bach's Weihnachtsoratorium

The past two weeks have been among the busiest/ most stressful ones of my life.

I now know what it feels like to have only 4 hours of sleep before waking up early to catch a 7 a.m. Env. Sci. exam (which I probably flunked, I almost fell asleep several times... drat those chemical reaction series! I just wanted to say: "Sir, I am not a chemistry major...") because I performed the night before, and was predictably puyat and exhausted.

That unpleasant experience aside, I am very grateful for the tremendous honor afforded me: to sing in the Christmas Oratorio of J.S. Bach.

So many memories... oh, where to start? I shall always remember with fondness:

* the wonderful rehearsal of the U.P. Camerata which I got to listen to backstage, before performing Parts 1 & 2. And to think it was a FIRST READING!?!?! Mga henyo ang mga college mates ko!

* the time that we "made takas" to eat dinner in Red Ribbon (which was only a block away from the performance venue, so it was ok). Kuya Cholo and Cat Cheng were the only ones talking since Apol, Ervin and I were on voice rest, haha! It was as if we were from the Institute of the Deaf and Mute, communicating mostly through charade-like gestures and hastily scrawled messages on tissue paper

* the beautiful way that Kuya Marz Taylan fixed my hair (it was SOOOO gorgeously done, my mom wouldn't let me take it down when we got home. "Paano niya ginawa yan?" she asked, and all I could say was: "Mama, I don't know. Nakatalikod ako nun." She even took pictures so she could "analyze" it daw)

* the way Sir Arwin and Joel Aquino were dancing backstage before performing Parts 5 & 6. I couldn't quite reconcile the image of THE Sir Arwin (infamous for being the "terror" prof. handling the History of Western Music classes at our college) making like a Rockette, haha, with Kuya Joel keeping him company. Think Highschool Musical worthy actions being done by *ahem* mature and formerly-known-as distinguished individuals, haha!

* the way Sir Arwin told us all to SMILE! SMILE! and kept everyone's spirits up ... he was so positive and full of tireless energy! I love "energizers" like him

* the magical way Sir Chino conducted the MMCO. I could watch him forever. *sigh* Plus he's so kind and fatherly; he never shamed anyone who wasn't performing up to his standards. And I never saw him lose his temper even during the most stressful of times (There was this one time he said the S word, but that was the worst, and it was understandable because it was during the run thru for the super-duper-beautiful yet super-duper-difficult tenor aria Ich will nur dir zu Ehren leben in Part 4; which incidentally has GOT to be one of my favorite pieces from the entire work). He would always deliberately lengthen the timpani part at the end of the encore piece, a medley of Christmas songs. He did this in all 3 performances and it never failed to crack me up, hahaha!

* the rehearsals at Miriam where Ma'am Chinggay would always treat us with so much grace and warmth; I felt so special and take care of! :)

* the wonderful sunset in Ateneo which we got to enjoy while chatting with some MMCO members. We were munching on N.Y.Fries, food is really more delicious when it is shared! There was a Dulcinea as well as an Ice Monster stall nearby, which caused Apol and I to experience a great deal of heartache since we had to reconcile our cravings for churros con chocolate and mais con hielo with the fact that if we chose to eat these 'forbidden foods,' we wouldn't be able to sing come performance time. Our iron wills won out... just barely.

Will post additional memories when I'm feeling more up to the task.

My bed beckons *sighs with pleasure at the thought of getting a blissful 6 hours of sleep*

We still have MuEd 191 class tomorrow morning, haha! To all those lucky enough to be on Christmas Break Mode: Enjoy!!!

Weihnachtsoratorium (5 & 6) at St. James the Great, Alabang with Novo Concertante

I got reunited with Ma'am Ella Baarde, who taught my twinnie and I for one summer at RCTMS (waaaay back in 2001, wow!).

Also got reunited with Miss Panaligan, who is the conductor of the De La Salle Zobel Chorale (my twinnie and I were members 2000 -- 2003).

Thanks so much to Kevin and Denden for coming to watch!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Reflection Paper I submitted for EDCO 101

         There are some movies whose stories stay with you for a long time after seeing them. Munting Tinig (Small Voices) is such a film. It was not a big-budget production, nor did it have amazing special effects associated with Hollywood films that audiences line up for in the cinema. And yet it reaped accolades and awards galore when it was shown in film festivals abroad. Why was this so?

I am no film critic, but in my opinion it couldn’t have been because of the acting (the actors were above average but not Meryl Streep material), nor the directing (some parts were a little boring and more than a few would have said the movie tended to drag a bit), not even the music (being a Music major, I detected some “anomalies,” but I am not here to criticize).

Why? Why did this humble film project touch so many people, and is now being considered as a Filipino modern classic?

It is because of the STORY. Others would say it was formulaic and predictable. So what? Seeing it unfold before me was still an experience to treasure, to immerse myself if only for an hour and a half in the world of a public school teacher working in a tiny village school in a far-flung rural area.

The movie touched on several issues. I shall tackle a few one by one and comment on them separately.

“Only the intellectually inferior become teachers.” This is a common attitude found amongst even fellow UP students. And the sad thing is, certain Education majors themselves think this way! I’ve talked to a couple of Education majors, and when I asked, “Why take Education?” The common reply was: “This was the only course I could take, I didn’t pass my first couple of choices in the UPCAT. And I’m not very good in anything else.” This is a terrible, terrible thing… to demoralize oneself in this manner. They do not see that they are in a most precious vocation.

When you ask people from one or two generations ago, you will find that only the best and the brightest became teachers in the good old days. And teachers of old could teach EVERYTHING, not like now when a teacher specializes in a certain subject. My father recalls a former teacher of his with great fondness, and said that she taught everything, from Music to Math to Science… “And she spoke impeccable English, too.”

We teachers-in-training today should take it as a challenge, to raise the bar once again and prove those who think the worst of us wrong.

Then there is the case of teachers going abroad to earn dollars. So many things have been written on this. For myself, I am fortunate to belong to a middle-class family (my sister and I will be the third generation of educators) so I do not think I will be forced to make the agonizing choice that Ms. Pilar (the teacher that Alessandra de Rossi’s character substituted for in the film) had to make: to leave the children she so dearly loved to teach in order to earn a better living abroad. And I would be the last one to stand on a pulpit and preach against the millions of OFW’s who more often than not are forced by circumstances to seek greener pastures abroad. I can only speak for myself when I promise that should I ever leave the Philippines, it will be only for a couple of years to further my studies. I will most definitely come back, because this country is my home and it has everything that I hold dear. My parents, being teachers, raised me with a strong patriotic sense of duty. I could not bear abandoning the Motherland, the country that nurtured and raised me, so that I could spend the most productive years of my life contributing to another country.

This movie has special meaning for me because I am training to become not just any teacher, but a music teacher, like Melinda (Alessandra de Rossi’s character). I felt so affirmed in my choice of vocation, because the movie clearly illustrated the power of music, of singing, to uplift spirits and brighten even the darkest and saddest of lives.

I could relate to this movie on so many levels, and I have seen firsthand the issues that Melinda took offense with (for example: teachers selling candies to students for extra cash… it DOES happen!). I did my classroom music teaching practicum last sem, and I had to teach in two schools: one private and one public. I was able to experience both worlds, and it was a very valuable experience for me. Now, when I say I want to be a teacher, I no longer say it with eyes closed. I have SEEN what it is to be a teacher, and I have had a taste (if only for a little while) of what a teacher’s life will be like. And I choose it gladly.

This is a film that every Filipino teacher-in-training should watch. It is not a movie for those seeking mindless entertainment. See it to understand that we aren’t just teachers. Henry Adams put it perfectly when he said, “A teacher affects eternity… he can never tell where his influence stops.” And that is why they say that “to teach is to touch lives forever.”

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Weihnachtsoratorium (1 & 2) with the UP Camerata Voices

Dec.11, 2007: J.S. Bach's CHRISTMAS ORATORIO Parts 1 & 2 at the Santuario de San Jose, Greenhills.

Kuya Jonaf! Apol! Ervin! You guys are the best.

The MMCO under Sir Chino Toledo is simply MAGICAL. 'Twas my first time to hear them and I was blown away by the beauty of their playing. Ang galing nila, GRABE.

The U.P. Camerata Voices were sooooo good also, I had the privilege to listen in to their 1st reading of a piece (haha, they had an impromptu rehearsal in the dressing room backstage) and boy oh boy, it was already PERFORMANCE LEVEL! With all the nuances and perfect sight reading. Grabe... Genius college mates!! Congrats to all of us!

For more pics, go to

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Not all "romances" are junk, after all

Just wanted to share this excerpt from Grace Livingston Hill's "A Girl To Come Home To".

It seemed to Diana as they penetrated into the green depths of that lovely woods, that she had never seen such beautiful quiet remoteness.

Rodney made a delightful escort. He found pleasant walking for her feet, and when they came to rest while he arranged a seat from hemlock branches, and when they were seated in the beautiful stillness he finally said, looking into the greenness above him, where little glimpses of sunlit blue sky were visible:

"Isn't this great? It seems as if this must be one of the places in which God delights, doesn't it? It seems as if He were here with us. Or-- don't you feel that way?"

Diana looked up fearsomely, and half shuddred:

"Oh," she said in a little frightened tone, "I don't know much about God. But you --" she paused and gave a shy look toward the young man, "you seem to know Him so intimately." Her tone was almost envious.

Rodney looked down and smiled:

"Yes, I do," he said pleasantly, as if he were owning to an earthly friendship, "but no better than you may know Him too, if you want to. I was brought up to know all about God when I was a child, but I didn't get to know God until I met Him out in the air over enemy fire."

"Oh!" said Diana. "Tell me about it please, if you don't mind."

Rodney smiled. "No, I don't mind. I love to talk about my Lord. Since I've met Him and know Him so well, it gives me great delight to talk about my Lord."

And so he began to tell the thrilling story of how he started out in his own strength to fight the enemy, and began to realize that Death was waiting just ahead for him, and perhaps the end of things down here. And then as he drew nearer and nearer to his doom, he heard the Lord calling to him through all the thunder of shells and planes. And the words he called were the same words he could remember his father reading at family worship... They were words that God spoke: "Fear thou not: for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."

... "And over and over again when I grew fearful, there was my Lord beside me... And that's how I came through. Do you wonder that i feel I know Him, that I can talk with Him as if a man were talking with his friend? He's my friend!"

There were tears on Diana's cheeks as he was telling this.

"Oh that is wonderful!" she said. "But does one have to go through death to know Him?"

"No, oh no! Not if you will take Him without having to be shown that way."

"But you were taught when you were very little. You sort of grew up knowing Him, didn't you?" There was almost a hunger in Diana's tone.

"Yes, I knew about Him. I knew His history, the story of His life and death, and that it was for me, but I never took it to my heart until Death drew near, and I had to fly for refuge. Many times at home when I was young I might have got to know Him, and didn't. I just couldn't take time. I knew it was all true, but I'd never looked into His face before. Not until He took me up there in the sky alone with Himself and menacing Death just below, and all around. Then I looked up, and I saw Him. But that is something that cannot be described. You have to see Him yourself to understand. You have to know Him."

"Oh!" said the girl disappointedly. "Then I'm afraid there is little likelihood that I could ever understand. I can't go overseas and get into combat."

"No, you're wrong," he said. "You don't have to go overseas to see Him... If you long to find Him He will come to you. The only condition is that you believe. That is, believe that He took your sin, and took your place and suffered your death penalty. Take Him for your personal Savior, that is. Are you willing to do that?"

"Why yes. I could believe because I have seen the faith in your face, I have heard it in your words, and in your wonderful prayer. Is that the right kind of belief? Because I don't really know much about Him, only the set stories that churches talk about, and I never paid much attention to them before. But I'd like to know Him now."

"That's great!" said Rodney with a joyful ring in his voice. "Shall we tell Him so?"

They were sitting on a smooth bank of lovely moss, under a great tree. The young man bowed his head, and Diana, awed at what might be coming, almost frightened again, bowed hers.

"Lord Jesus," said Rodney in his conversational tone, "I'm brining this little girl to You because she wants to know You and says she will take You for her Savior. Please show her how You love her, how she needs You, and to understand what You have done for her... will You let her see You as You are, and get to really know You, and love to serve You in her daily life.

And now will You listen to her while she tells You waht is in her heart? Thank you, my Father."

There was a long pause in the still greenness of the woods, while a thrush trilled otu some high sweet notes of praise, and then Diana's little frightened voice trembled on the air:

"Dear God, I want to be saved. I want to know You, as Rodney does. Won't You please show me how? I do believe, as far as I understand."

Into the silence that followed this brief prayer came Rodney's ringing Amen, and after a moment of silence he reached over and took her hand in a strong firm clasp.

"Welcome into the family, little sister!" he said tenderly. She looked up into his eyes and her own were filled with tears of joy, and there was a smile on her lips....

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Follow Up Post: Schiller's ODE TO JOY

I found the English translation of Schiller's poem, which was wonderfully set to music in Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Just wanted to share.

Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,
Daughter of Elysium,
Touched with fire, to the portal,
Of thy radiant shrine, we come.
Your sweet magic frees all others,
Held in Custom's rigid rings.
All men on earth become brothers,
In the haven of your wings.
Whoever succeeds in the great attempt
To be a friend of a friend,
Whoever has won a lovely woman,
Let him add his jubilation!
Yes, whoever calls even one soul
His own on the earth's globe!
And who never has, let him steal,
Weeping, away from this group.
All creatures drink joy
At the breasts of nature;
All the good, all the evil
Follow her roses' trail.
Kisses gave she us, and wine,
A friend, proven unto death;
Pleasure was to the worm granted,
And the cherub stands before God.
Glad, as his suns fly
Through the Heavens' glorious plan,
Run, brothers, your race,
Joyful, as a hero to victory.
Be embraced, you millions!
This kiss for the whole world!
Brothers, beyond the star-canopy
Must a loving Father dwell.
Do you bow down, you millions?
Do you sense the Creator, world?
Seek Him beyond the star-canopy!
Beyond the stars must He dwell.

Truly a fitting choice for a Christmas concert. ;)

NOLI ME TANGERE: Kuya Armin Comon's Grad Recital

Congratulations, Kuya! Natapos din! ;)

Dec.6, 2007, 6:30 p.m.
U.P. College of Engineering Theater

For more pics, go to

U.P. Sangkil Karasak: Singaporean Visitors

A couple of fellow LSAI arnis practitioners from Singapore came over to train with the club this past week. Here are a few pics from Thursday's training session (I just dropped by the dojo for several minutes, didn't train because I had to run to Kuya Armin's recital, NOLI ME TANGERE).

Friday, December 7, 2007

Christmas Time!!

More than the chilly weather, and more than the parols that light up every house in the city, the thing that best tells me that Christmas season has finally arrived is the MUSIC.

It's everywhere! The piped canned music in the malls to serenade you while you shop, or the several concerts being performed left and right.

Which brings me to the real subject of my post: SHAMELESS PLUGGING!!!

I shall be singing as one of the soloists with the Metro Manila Community Orchestra (under Conductor Josefino Chino Toledo) in the Philippine premiere of J.S. Bach's Christmas Oratorio (Yup... THE Weihnachtsoratorium), all 6 Parts! ;)

Do come and watch on the following dates and times, if you can!

(Admission is free for Parts 4-6; for Parts 1-2 they will be selling tickets to raise funds for the church's roof-building project)

Parts 1 and 2: December 11, 2007, Tuesday, 8:00 p.m.

                     with the U.P. Camerata Voices under Kuya Cholo Gino

                     at the Santuario de San Jose, Greenhills

Parts 3 and 4: December 14, 2007, Friday, 8:00 p.m.

                     with the Ateneo Chamber Singers

                     under Sir Jonathan Velasco

                     at the Church of the Gesu, Ateneo de Manila University

Parts 5 and 6: December 17, 2007, Monday, 8:00 p.m.

                     with Novo Concertante under Sir Arwin Tan

                     at St. James the Great Parish, Ayala Alabang Village

Oh, and last night I watched Beethoven's 9th Symphony performed LIVE in its entirety, by my collegemates. *sniff* Am so proud of my college! GO CMu!?!?!?!! Ang galing galing ng choir (siyempre, under Sir Eudy e)!!!

I can't decide which of the four movements I liked best. Sayang lang, I think the orchestra was under-rehearsed. But all things considered, they did a pretty good job.

They also performed excerpts from Messiah by Handel, namely: the 2nd part of the Sinfonia, and the choruses: And the Glory of the Lord, For Unto Us A Son Is Born, and the Hallelujah Chorus (but OF COURSE!).  

The highlight of the evening (for me) was after the community sing-along of 6 Christmas songs, when the orchestra and choir sang U.P. NAMING MAHAL and invited the audience to join in. T.T

Graduating student +  the alma mater song = P.O.I.G.N.A.N.T. moment!

Waaaaaa, so many emotions were running through me the whole evening, I was ranting and raving the whole time we drove back home. Napuyat ako but I didn't care. 'Twas well worth it.

Congrats to all the perfomers! 'Til next year!

~ ~ Am quite nervous about the week to come. I'll be "making puyat" every night with all the rehearsals and performances, and on top of that, I have 7 am class everyday except Wednesday (9 am, 2 hours reprieve) which I can't miss because next week is 1st Exam week. Waaaaaa ~ ~

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The First Couple of Weeks (2nd sem, A.Y. '07-'08)

Ate, you are a blessing to me and to so many others

I haven't had the chance to upload these pics until now.

Below are pics of:

1) Ate Glenda's Birthday Party Pic (thank you so much, Bechie Babies, for inviting me!!!)
2) CMu People
3) My mom, Tita Mary Anne and myself having lunch at Tiendesitas
4) Rehearsing for NOLI ME TANGERE, Kuya Armin's Grad Recital

Monday, December 3, 2007

Rediscovering a Wonderful Song

I was fixing my music files over the weekend and found the score to one of my favorite songs of all time, Jose Mari Chan's IT IS THE LORD. It has new meaning for me now... maybe the fact that I can now accompany myself while singing the piece helped. Or maybe it's because of the recent renewal of that most precious of relationships... that of Creator and Handmaiden.



Words by Ma. Cristina Ansaldo Estrada


Slowly, the light unfolding,

Softly the dawn approaching.

Anxious frightened souls

Seeking hope, seeking hope.


Stumbling through the sad desolation.

Wond'ring with frightened confusion

Towards a dark gaping tomb,

a buried hope.


Gently, an awareness of a loving presence,

His words: "Do not be afraid."

His message: "Peace be with you."

"Rabbi!" Remember,

it is the Lord!


At the tempest and the storm,

in the kindnesses that keep us warm.

Even through the pains and betrayals

of life's crucifixions.


Rejoice, dear souls,

for peace, it is the Lord!

Soothe, it is the Lord!

It is the Lord, now and forever.



~ ~ ~ ~ ~

How to describe the feeling that came over me after singing/playing this beautiful song?? There are no words...

"Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." -- Ephesians 5:19-20

Sunday, December 2, 2007

At Lola's 80th birthday party

Tita Mary Anne was there!!!! We haven't seen for her ages! :)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007

We got home 45 minutes before curfew because of this...

Upsilon batch ’57 marks 50th year
Last updated 11:24pm (Mla time) 11/29/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- Members of the Batch 1957 of the Upsilon Sigma Phi Fraternity, Asia’s oldest fraternity, started Thursday three days of celebration of their golden jubilee dubbed “Tagay-tagay sa Tagaytay.”

Antonio H. Abad, chair of the ’57 jubilee steering committee, promised a “weekend of fun and nostalgia” for all Upsilonians and Sigma Deltans attending the three-day event, which ends tomorrow.

A host of activities is slated at the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines UP, Calatagan Golf Club in Batangas, and Royal Tagaytay Resort, Abad said.

Calling themselves “Gold Bond 0057,” the jubilarians will have Batch 57 of the Sigma Delta Phi as co-celebrants.

According to former HUDCC chair and jubilarian Dion dela Serna, Upsilon-Delta Batches ’67 and ’82 are also holding their respective celebrations with Batch ’57.

A celebration of the Holy Mass, tree-planting at the UP lagoon, brunch at the UP Bahay ng Alumni, and a presentation of excerpts from well-loved Upsilonian musical cavalcades Aloyan, Hanako and Linda kicked off the festivities yesterday.

Upsilonians Dick Zamora and Mart Martell wrote the songs, lyrics and scores of the musicals in the 1950s.

Today, the celebrators will hold in Calatagan the Romeo Liamzon Memorial Golf Tournament in honor of the the late Upsilon head in 1957 and Batch ’57’s Illustrious Fellow.

But the highlight of the jubilee will be the presentation of the Gold Fez and Golden Cane to the jubilarians today to be presided over by Abad and Jun Aniag at the Royal Tagaytay Resort.

Abad and Aniag are chair and president, respectively, of the Upsilon Alumni Association. They, together with businessman Vic G. Puyat, will bestow on Martell and Zamora the Fer Bautista Memorial Award.

Dela Serna will deliver the closing remarks after a minute of silent prayers for all the departed Upsilonians and Sigma Deltans belonging to Batch ’57, and the singing of the Upsilon Sigma Phi Centennial Song.

~ ~ ~ ~

It was so surreal... While the country was falling apart and tanks broke down the doors of the Peninsula Manila, I was in the Bahay ng Alumni preparing for my harang (My Igorot costume from Narda's served me well, as I played Aloyan the mountain maid).

My mind was not entirely focused the performance; I don't think any of us were a hundred percent mentally present (except for the Golden Jubilarians, who sang and danced the night away. They seemed to metamorphose into teenagers before our very eyes!!). We were discussing politics backstage; one of the cast members vehemently expressed his anti-GMA sentiments whilst others fixed his lapel and bahag, courtesy of Lonsi brod Kidlat Tahimik).

Am so glad we got home safely. This is a night to remember.

U.P. Sangkil Karasak Graduation 2007 (Beginners' Arnis)

Our induction video. :) Starring: myself (haha!), JJ, Jere, Jacq, JP, (hmmmm notice a trend yet?) Sir Jocano aka Sir Bot, Mich, Miko, and EG.

You can learn all this in just one short sem!! Join U.P. Sangkil Karasak na!

Thank you so much to the great Marga for the video!! (Visit her website at

Friday, November 23, 2007

It's A Small World

I have an arnis clubmate who is in the same English 11 class as my brother.

I have another arnis mate who is the orgmate and friend of someone very *ahem* special to me... ("special" : not really in a good way), as well as being the churchmate of my arnis prof.

And a shadow passed through my happy, golden state ... The ghost of my past comes knocking.

It is such a small world, and we are all connected. I'll bet if you struck up a conversation with a random stranger (i.e. the person sitting next to you in your G.E. class, or the student sitting across you in the IKOT jeep), you'll find that you have a common friend or "frenemy", or that you both attended a special event that influenced you greatly.

I used to believe in coincidences. But now, no longer.

And I used to feel lost and alone in what I thought was a huge and empty universe, but now my heart has been opened and I feel so happy, so "at one" with the beautiful world and all the living things in it ... if only this feeling could last. I know it can't. And so I pray for guidance and for grace that will let me navigate through the perils of this hard road called Life... even without my "happy, golden bubble."

~ ~ ~ ~

Two weeks into the sem, and I've checked out quite a number of books from the Main Lib. None of them have the slightest connection to my course, or to any of my classes. But they are for my self-edification and "building up," and how I regret not taking earlier advantage of the vast literary opportunities made available to me by virtue of my orange U.P. library card!!

I'm trying this new thing called "picking and choosing what I read." I used to read anything and everything, but 20 years of that and I've very little to show for it in terms of knowledge gained. There's something wrong with my reading diet, so I'm going to emulate a wise friend and stick with the tried-and-true.

~ ~ ~

I've been blessed with quite a number of good "harang" opportunities recently. Like next week, I'm being asked to fill in for another soprano who can't make it to the "musical" being staged for the Upsilon Fraternity Reunion. I got recommended by my former teacher, and although I have to memorize four songs in less than a week's time, I'm not complaining. :)  I never thought I'd be able to sing jazz, and I didn't really find it musically interesting before. But Dick Zamora's love songs are first rate masterpieces, and I am having the time of my life learning them. And I laugh at myself now when I think how worried I was about my "new voice." The new technique is serving me well; I can now sing pop/jazz/broadway songs in the vocal style that suits them best, whereas before I was limited to only one "big" voice.

I'm also very lucky to have been asked to sing as one of the soloists for J.S. Bach's Christmas Oratorio (Parts 1 and 2 with the UP Camerata Choir on Dec. 11, Parts 3 and 4 with the Ateneo Chamber Singers on Dec. 14 ... both with the Metro Manila Community Orchestra).

I am very grateful.

~ ~ ~

Yet another reminder for all of us, that knowledge gained is useless and will be forgotten unless practiced constantly and faithfully.

We were asked by our Env.Sci.1 prof this morning to answer a really simple question on 1/4 sheet of yellow pad: What is the degree wherein Celsius is equivalent to Fahrenheit?

It was an easy question, it was so easy that some of my Mech.Eng'g. and Chem. major classmates were able to solve it mentally. They submitted their papers with a flourish in under 30 seconds, accompanied with a slightly disdainful sneer that seemed to say, "Sir, you're nigh near insulting my intelligence."

The question was so basic that I distinctly remember encountering it when I took the UPCAT half a decade ago.

Problem was, I couldn't for the life of me remember HOW to go about getting the answer.

In the three minutes given for us to answer the question, my little messenger brain cells hurriedly scanned the innermost recesses of the brain, only to come up with broken synapses : "FILE NOT FOUND."

And so I left the room, humbled but grateful for the lesson.

(Just in case you're wondering, the correct answer was - 40 degrees Celsius. My brother was good enough to walk me through the basic mathematical processes involved. Thank goodness for genius siblings!)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Doodles in the Loo Part 2

Probably written by a student who got a failing grade (or worse... is getting kicked out of the Math program):

"I wish that there will be a second chance... masaya pala dito. "

~ ~ ~

This poor thing was looking for sympathy/advice and found none.

"3 years niya akong nagustuhan. Ngayong gusto ko na siya, may iba na. Ganun ba kabilis?"

          The reply: L.O.L!!!

~ ~ ~

More ranting and raving about crushes, in TV-land as well as real life.

"Try to watch PRISONBREAK! Ang pogi ng bidang si Scofield... AMP*T*AH!"


And more about Mr. Crush-ng-Bayan:


   -- "Yummy!"

   -- "Hot! (Nakatabi ko siya sa jeep)"

   -- "Neat"  (I'm not quite sure if this means he's neat-looking and clean-cut, or if he's an OC person who likes to keep everything clean and tidy...)

   -- "Yabang"

            To which someone replied: "Bakit? Dahil di niya pinansin beauty mo?"


Ouchie ouch! ;) Hahahaha. Funny doodles make my day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Mission

I am a graduating student with a mission... to eat in each and every kainan/ cafeteria within the U.P. Campus, at least once.

In all my years in U.P., the only places I've eaten lunch in are:

-- the Music canteen

-- the Mass Comm. canteen

-- the Bahay ng Alumni restaurants (only during very special occasions, mind you!)

-- the Alumni Association Cafeteria

-- the College of Engingeering canteen

-- the Tea Room, College of Home Economics

-- Katag


Can you say pathetic and boring?

I started on my quest yesterday... I tasted veggie meat at Latasia Fusion (my first time!!), the vegetarian resto behind Romulo Hall. And today I had my first sit down lunch at the Beach House (I was amazed at how long the queue got, I spent 20 min. in line. Just like enrollment! haha ... but it was worth it... their barbeque is really something else).

So many places to eat in, so little time!

~ ~ ~

I was lucky enough to be able to watch a very talented collegemate of mine sing and play her own compositions on the piano, last night. It's very humbling and inspiring, when one realizes anew the sheer amount of raw talent present in each and every fellow student. Her haunting melodies and inspired words are still running through my mind ...

Oh, to have half her talent, and to be able to write such marvelous songs!!!

~ ~ ~

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Saturday Morning Lecture and The Meaning of My Name


I got a text message late last night, informing me that I was required to attend a lecture/seminar at the U.P. College of Education at 8 a.m. the following day. 

Thanks to that 3D movie BEOWULF (movie review to follow, soon!), we got home really late and I slept past midnight, only to get up at 5:30 today so I could make it in UP on time.

So this morning I attended the 1st Annual Seminar in Values and Moral Education with the Theme: MORAL REASONING AS A TOOL FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND PROGRESS.

There were three speakers: a senator (with the initials F. E.) , a U.P. Philosophy prof (A. A) , and a reverend (M.L). 

The first spoke of the role of the youth, and of political leaders, in shaping the nation. He said that he believed in drastic change, but that this change had to come from the top.

The second speaker spent the better part of an hour delivering a lecture that would have been more fitting for a Philo 1 class, and soon had half his audience slumbering away in their comfortable chairs. I valiantly fought to stay awake but really couldn't see why he had to go into all those details.

The third speaker had very little time left to him and had to cut down his lecture to 1/3 its original length. Sayang. I felt that his message was the one that the audience (consisting of mostly Educ.majors) really needed to hear.

It saddened me, witnessing this reverend speak from the depths of his heart about God's word and seeing his message fall on indifferent ears.

And so the debate rages on... do we need to teach Values Ed. in the classroom (whether implicitly or explicitly)? 

I think it is necessary, now more than ever. Just look at what is happening to the U.S. with its "neutral" curricula. In their quest to avoid "indoctrination,"  their children are growing up amoral and lost in a sea of knowledge without certainty.

I see the effects of the liberal education system even here in U.P. How many times have I come across profs who preach idealistic values like honor and integrity in their lectures but do not take a stand consistent with what they preach when put to the test?

And the U.P. student, having been taught to accept everything as true in this postmodern world of ours with its several truths, having gotten used to a buffet-style of knowledge where you pick-and-choose-what-suits-you-best...   I've witnessed this far, far too many times:  when there is a stance to be taken, the average student chooses to be a fence-sitter.

It is not enough to know right from wrong. There is a huge difference between knowing and actually acting out your beliefs.

The made the mistake of saying how he believed that little good would come out of a GMRC (Good Manners and Right Conduct) class, because values are only effectively taught at home. Values Ed. is "an exercise in futility," he said.

How sad for him to believe this! And him being a teacher!

He also went on and on about there being only two sources of knowledge: reason and sense perception.

A brave soul spoke up, questioning the validity of his argument about there being only two sources of knowledge and defending the role of teachers in character formation. He suggested coming up with a set of values taken from the commonalities in the holy books of the major religions such as the Koran and the Bible.

The poor, poor Philo. prof... he couldn't fathom there being Truth outside what is logical and measurable, because his whole life has been spent studying epistemology and logic.

But when you think about it, you cannot intellectualize ethics and religion!!

I was delighted at how ably he (the brave soul, NOT the Philo prof) spoke, so I came up to him afterwards and introduced myself. What an admirable teacher he will turn out to be! He used to be a scientist, until he was called to the Ministry, and is now a curriculum designer. We talked a bit, it was so nice to find that we had the same ideas.

Had a blessed talk with an old friend afterwards.  She shared with me a link that led me to this site, where I found the most wonderful meaning of my name:





I never knew that my first name meant that!! I was so delighted, and still am.

Dear Lord, thank you for such a beautiful name. Please help me live up to it.

~ ~

Am soooo sleepy, and my brain isn't functioning properly so I won't edit this entry anymore.  Have a nice weekend, everyone!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Doodles in the Loo

Just wanted to share some of the graffiti (yeah, it's vandalism... tsk tsk tsk) written on the cubicle walls of the Girl's Loo, Math Building.

There's some poetic stuff (that probably never saw the light of a CW 10 workshop... but there's some heartfelt pathos in between the lines and one can't help but sympathize):

What hurts the most was being so close

And having so much to say

And watching you walk away

And never knowing what could have been

And not seeing that loving you

That's what I was trying to do ...


And by the same author (I think... her signature is a drawing of a flower):


He's the reason for the tear drops on my guitar

The only thing that keeps me wishing on a wishing star

He's the song in the car I keep singing

Don't know why I do.


There's some of the usual kilig rants: ATOM ARAULLO I LOVE YOU!!!

To which a helpful soul replied: Here's his number! 0927_ _ _ _ _ _ _ TEXT HIM NA!


There's some literary discussion as well:

Maganda pa ang PANDORA ni Anne Rice?

   Oo, pinakamatinong sinulat niya ito.


Some more musings on love:

Pwede bang ma-inlove dahil lang sa in love ka sa ideang love mo siya? (Ang gulo no?)

     And the reply: False love, in short... NO, my dear.


A frustrated girl wrote: Graduate na crush ko! WaaaAAAaaaaa.....


And who is Stephen Larcia?? His name was written all over the place... he and Atom are the contenders for "most-beloved" of UP iska's.


There was a list of FASCISTS:

1. Hitler

2. GMA

3. (A certain math prof)

4. (Another math prof)


And this is my personal favorite:

Math 17 is just a phase... This too shall pass.

   To which someone replied: But Math 100 is eternal.

~ ~ ~ ~

Busy busy days! I'm so sleep from waking up before 5 a.m. everyday to make it to class on time at 7.

Unfortunately, there are days when the traffic is so bad (like today!!!) because of rain/ traffic accidents... like today, I arrived 1 hour and 10 minutes late for Math 2. T.T  We were on the road for two hours and a half, almost. AaaAAArgh! And then U.P. decides to suspend class at the beautifully late hour of 3 pm. What's the point?

~ ~ ~

I was assigned an opera! We're doing DON PASQUALE by Gaetano Donizetti. I'm playing Norina, a flirtatious little vixen.

Must. Internalize. The songs are quite challenging, not to mention SUPER DUPER HIGH! Oh well. Practice practice practice!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Enrollment in U.P. vs. Enrollment in Ateneo

I did the legwork for my twinnie's M.A. enrollment a few days ago. Since my mindset was fresh from my U.P. enrollment, I made sure to dress appropriately that day: dark shirt (so sweat stains won't be quite as visible), "macho" jeans and comfy sneakers. I didn't know quite what to expect, so I prepared for the worst and armed myself with tissue paper, alcohol, a bottle of water, a fan, an extra T shirt and a book to read while waiting in line. (Haha, told you I was thinking of U.P. registration!)

*gasp* It was so different from UP enrollment!

For one thing, all I had to do was walk the short distances in between buildings, present myself to the registration assistants, and sit pretty in an airconditioned room (complete with magazines for our reading pleasure).

The lines for payment and i.d. validation were laughably short. ("Line? You call THAT a line?") They even had cordoned-off areas for lining up! Impressive, huh?

Registration assistants were everywhere, and would announce various reminders on their megaphone every few seconds. Imagine not having to ask what the next step is because, hey! They're spoonfeeding the instructions to you! :)

That was the first time I enrolled and didn't even break into a sweat. It took all of *gasp* 30 minutes.

On the other hand, this sem's electronic enrollment in UP did speed things up, but only if you were lucky enough to get all the subjects you enlisted for online (*thank goodness for graduating students being given priority*). 

Good luck to all the pre-rog-ers next week!

Oh, I almost forgot... I have a 7 a.m. class tomorrow. 'Night everyone.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Toblerone (the little ones) and An Incident With A Magazine

Maybe it's just me, but I find the little toblerones (a.k.a Tobleronini's) considerably more delicious than their giant counterparts.

I'm crazy about the stuff! We bought a couple of packs in Baguio (1 pack containing three Tobleronini's), and three of them survived long enough to reach Manila.

Now, there is only one pack left.

I haven't counted how many Tobleronini's I've consumed in the span of a few days... and I don't think I want to know.

My brother said that to burn the calories from one tobleronini, I'd have to jog 6 km.


*sigh* Never mind. A little blubber will serve me well in the upcoming months. Just as the camel drinks plenty of water in between desert expeditions, so too shall I store away fat for the dark and dreary days ahead (haha, the melodrama!).

~ ~ ~

Today, I went for one of my bi-annual hair cuts at a salon somewhere along Katipunan. (It's a really great place where they serve you complimentary iced tea and even give you a cold towel face/neck massage for free... how nice!).

They brought me a few magazines to read while I was waiting for a barber -- no, a STYLIST -- to attend to me.

Still sleepy from the cold towel massage, I drowsily skimmed over one R_ _ B _ _ _ magazine. Somewhere in the middle, a few pages were of different material (i.e. nonglossy). I glanced down, and to my shock there was a full-length, no-holds-barred "romantic episode" that would have been at home in any FHM / Playboy magazine (not that I've read one, mind you). 

I mean, it was practically porn!

The disturbing thing is, this magazine wasn't "one-of-those" magazines... I'd place it in the same category as Marie Claire or Seventeen.

And yet there was that... that... excerpt.

What if a little girl picked it up and read it? *shudder*

Nowadays, you can't judge a magazine by it's cover.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The last movie of the sem break...

(I don't wish to spoil the movie for anyone who'd want to watch it, so I won't go into details)

Ang Lee's LUST, CAUTION (Se, Jie) was marketed as an "erotic spy-thriller," but after sitting through all 2.5 hours of it, I think this is too simplistic a description.

There's lust, to be sure, and we are shown lust in several forms, the sheer destructiveness of it, the irrationality of it... and at the end one realizes how vulnerable we human beings are to this vice... that no matter how educated and morally upright one prides one's self to be, lust can still prove to be a temptation too powerful to defeat.

But there are also various issues tackled in the film... such as what kind of ethical code can a society have during wartime. And the choices one must make between personal morals, patriotism & "love."

What adjectives to ascribe to the movie? Interesting? Definitely. I FELT for the characters, five minutes into the movie pa lang and I wanted to see how it would end (in fact, I forced my rebellious bladder into submission because I couldn't bear leaving my seat, even for only a few minutes).

Erotic? Excluding the R18 scenes, I'd say it was very sensual. Certain images remain in my mind's eye: the blood-red lipstick stain left on a pale white coffee cup... a young girl leaning out of the bus window to let the raindrops fall on her moon-shaped face... the harsh white stage lights knifing through the dark to partially illuminate the lonely face of a youth who's been forced to mature too quickly... for the cinematography alone, I'd say this movie would have been worth a ticket.

Haunting? Yep! The story is still playing over and over in my head... it's definitely one of those movies that will stay with you long after you've left the cinema.

~ ~ "Caution! There is lust!" says my twin sister.

Call me a prude but I was shocked by the controversial love scenes, and while some would argue that they were necessary for the audience to fully understand the characters, I still think that it was too much. You can film tasteful love scenes by just showing the emotions on the actors' faces. And it's more of a challenge to the actors and the director that way, I think.

~ ~

Enrollment time tomorrow... the last time, for me.

Friday, November 2, 2007

God Among The Shakers

That's the title of the book I was talking about in my last post, subtitled: A Search for Stillness and Faith at Sabbathday Lake, by Suzanne Skees.

The author graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was agnostic for most of her adult life. All that changed when she went to live amongst the Shakers (at that time, there were still eight of them) in the last Shaker community in Sabbathday Lake, Maine.

I just checked online and found out that there are only four of them remaining, today. :(

~ ~ If you've taken MuL 15, surely you remember Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring from one of the listening cd's? Copland took the famous Shaker song, 'Tis The Gift To Be Simple, as his motif and composed some variations on it. ~ ~

It was a very good read! The author describes in great detail the Shakers' rigidity in their schedule, the Spartan way they lived, their community confessions... she even includes one-on-one interviews. I was quite entertained by the way this Western woman kept pestering the Shakers, "How on EARTH can you commit to a LIFETIME of celibacy?!?" I couldn't help but think that if she were Asian, she wouldn't really have a hard time accepting it.

She writes, of the Shaker brothers that she met: "What a waste. What a waste of glorious manhood." Haha! I know of women who say that when they meet a handsome priest. But is it truly a waste? These men & women are free to pursue their relationship with God, to focus all their energy into it, in a way that wouldn't be possible if they were married and had children to take care of. What is so bad about that?

What I liked about Shakerism is their emphasis on union, on community. I'll include a portion here, when the author is conversing with Miriam, a Reform Jew.

Miriam: "I could never be Christian or Catholic because I cannot accept the idea that someone else died to atone for my sins. In Judaism, we are taught from early on that we hold full responsibility for our actions. If some Saviour died on the cross to make up for whatever horrible, evil things I might ever do in this life, then what is the implication there? It's cause-and-effect: If you are saved no matter what, then what's to stop you from doing "no matter what?" No, this whole Jesus-Savior thing is a real turn-off for me."

The author thought of a way to achieve peace, by reminding her of what they shared in common in their beliefs. Hence she brought up the Shaker view of "Jesus as Christ-Spirit," as not being the first nor the last to embody it, and that "he was one of many including Plato and Buddha." To which Miriam the Jew replied: "Yes, I can live with that."

In the epilogue, the author writes:

"The heart of Shakerism offers, even to us who would remain in the world, the chance to see life in a new way. We can consider the possibility that the Christ-Spirit, not coming in on some distant cloud from heaven, dwells within us right this minute. The spirit, already within us even now, can be freed. It becomes love -- it IS love -- which is God.

... Shakerism beckons towards simplicity ... and offers a different way of loving, loving all people equally and seeing them as hosts of the spirit, loving from the gut rather than the mind, without judgement, without limit. Shakerism ... will change my life -- not by converting me into a celibate sister on the farm in Maine, but by fleshing out the beliefs I hold dear into a way of living them daily.

...I may never be a Shaker, but I think my journey to Sabbathday Lake may help me become a better me... Simplifying my life, absurd as that seems in my materialistic experience, can happen in small steps along the way... Keeping myself honest, speaking gently my truth to those around me and -- most importantly -- to myself, can evolve me from the pain of rigid expectations to the serenity of what really is. Sharing with others the feelings that well up from deep within, and giving testimony to the inexplicable faith I have in the unseen, can extend my own personal church beyond Sunday mornings to the weeks that follow."

~ ~ ~ ~

We're back in Manila, yay!! Our time in Baguio was really great, but like the saying goes, there's truly no place like home. Oh piano I have missed you!!

CRS results are out. I still have a missing grade in Oratorio Lit., so I can't compute for my GWA. I got all the subjects I enlisted in, but there's a catch: I have 7-8:30 a.m. classes everyday except Wednesday. Haha! I'm just grateful that I got IN those classes.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Of Reading and Gaining Weight

We haven't really gone out much in the past several days. Our typical schedule is:

7:00: Breakfast (usually consisting of eggs, fried rice, ham/ longganisa/ tocino and the freshest tomatoes on earth... heavenly!!)

7:30 -- 11:00: Reading Time ... we sometimes go back to bed for another hour of peaceful Zzzzz's. Ang sarap talaga matulog at kumain dito! There's something about the air.

11:30 -- 1:00 Lunch Time: Sometimes we step out of the house and go to one of the famous "only-in-Baguio" diners like the Star Cafe or the Luisa Cafe in Session Road (their lechon rice bowl is DIVINE!)

1:00 -- 5:00 : Reading Time Part 2

5:00 -- 7:00: We go out for a "joy ride" of sorts... usually we end up having coffee or a late merienda

7:30 Dinner

8:00 -- 10:00: Taking-a-bath-time/ Watching-a-VCD-on-Tata's-laptop-time

(So far we've watched: THE FOUNTAIN, TRANSFORMERS, the old version of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE starring Laurence Olivier himself as Darcy, THE HISTORY BOYS, and the definitive movie of our childhood: CONAN THE DESTROYER!!! Yeah! I've got the soundtrack memorized, haha)

10:00: Lights off (but I usually stay up late reading with the aid of my flashlight, hidden under the covers)

~ ~ ~

Last night, though, I hardly got any sleep. It was around 11:30 p.m., and I was in the middle of a rather confusing Johannine passage when the neighbors living in the cottage upstairs got their party started by turning on their radio at a REALLY loud volume! It was soooooo inconsiderate of them.

They played Sitti, the Beatles, Karen Carpenter, and even Fall Out Boy until it was around 1:30 a.m. (I know because I couldn't sleep until they turned off the darn thing)

Some people talaga..... Grrrrrrrr.....

*rubs eyes bleakly*

~ ~ ~ ~

I just finished this fascinating book on the Shakers. They have quite an interesting theology! They believe in the Father/Mother God as having both a feminine and masculine spirit , and in the Christ-Spirit that was present in Jesus as well as their founder, Ann Lee, and other historical figures such as Buddha.

Shakers (different from the Quakers and the Amish, mind you) share everything with the community, have no private property, take vows of celibacy and live apart from the world though they do not shun technology like the Quakers do.

More on that next time... I am summoned.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Coronation ... and other things

The priest shared this story with us last Sunday. I'll try to keep to the wording of the anecdote.

In 1848, the soon-to-be-Emperor Franz Josef knocked at the mighty door of the Stephansdom in Vienna.

"Who is it?" a voice asked within.

"It is, Franz Josef, thy Emperor! I demand that you open this door," cried the handsome young man, resplendent in his royal finery.

"We do not recognize thee. Leave this place," said the booming voice.

Once more Franz Josef knocked, indignant at the insult done to him and his station. And once more,he was denied entrance.

Franz Josef knocked a third time, and a third time was he asked to identify himself.

In a subdued tone, he said: "It is I, Franz Josef, a sinner. I humbly ask that you let me pass."

"We welcome thee, Franz Josef," and with those words, the majestic gates swung open. And that day Franz Josef was crowned Emperor.

~ ~ ~

I was amazed to find rare books for sale in the National Bookstore branch of SM Baguio. As in, Stephen Pressfield's immortal epic novel on the Battle of Thermopylae "GATES OF FIRE" was just SITTING there on the shelf, gathering dust!!?!

Anyway, one of the books I bought was THE MANILA WE KNEW, a collection of memoirs and essays edited by Erlinda Enriquez Panlilio. My favorite was the one written by the editor, entitled U.P. BELOVED.

She begins:

"Standing among a gaggle of half-naked girls clad only in panties, I had visions of the gas chambers in Warsaw. I shivered as I waited my turn to be examined at the Infirmary of the University of the Philippines in Diliman."

"...The first time I saw the campus it impressed me as some wild frontier town. The vast grounds were covered with cogon, talahib, and sundry shrubs growing between the few concrete buildings..."

And so on and so forth. At first I couldn't help but think: "Are you talking about MY U.P? The school I'm going to?"

But then I flipped a page, and saw a photograph of an aerial view of the U.P. taken circa 1940's, around the same time the author went to college there. And I knew her words to be true.

The other authors in the book write about places like Taft Avenue, Malate, and "Highway 54" which is now known as EDSA. They write about flaming fire trees, vast expanses of cogon and the cool breeze. I do not recognize these places they speak of, and I am filled with such sadness for our generation because we will never know the beautiful Old Manila that these people grew up with.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Baguio City

*typing in an internet shop in SM Baguio*

Well we were only supposed to stay here for the weekend, but then our vacation has been unexpectedly extended.

Six days of blessed peace and quiet, amidst such beautiful surroundings that I feel as if I'm in a different country... a different world, even.

Now THIS is what I call a sembreak.

~ ~ ~

We watched THE FOUNTAIN starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz on Tata's laptop last night. Haha! Talk about open-ended films. It sparked a lively, philosophical discussion between us family members (Papa was excluded, poor thing... he fell asleep 10 minutes into the movie from exhaustion. Can't blame him... it was a tiring 9 hour drive going up here).

Has anyone else seen it? What are your thoughts on the film? :)

~ ~ ~

It's freeeeeeeezing.........

Friday, October 26, 2007

October Book Session

October 26, '07: Rockwell, Powerplant Mall

Had so much fun hanging out with the Ex Libris Philippines crew! Present at today's book session were: the twins, Richard, Christian, TJ and Judie.
Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog