An ICU Love Story: A Reload

I have posted more than 850 articles and stories over the years since this blog’s inception, which in a few months, will be 10 years. It’s quite a popular practice in the media to have reruns or replays. Even social media have their “throwbacks.”

I would like to repost a throwback story/article once in a while, not that I am running out of ideas or stories, for as a matter of fact, I have more than 30 unfinished articles in my draft bin. But sometimes, I just want to relive a bygone moment, or perhaps give a new breath to a favorite story from the past.

Here’s a reload of a love story that I witnessed a few years ago:

Making Things Right

“I just want to make things right.”

That was what my patient told me. Wanting to make things right. Don’t we all? Here is his story.

He was in his 50’s, and he presented to the hospital with leg swelling and worsening shortness of breath. After initial work-up in the Emergency Room, he was diagnosed with blood clots in the legs and lungs (veno-thromboembolism). A serious condition.

His chest CT scan also showed a lung mass. After further work-up, which includes a biopsy, it was found to be cancer. Cancer in itself is a risk for developing blood clots. A bad prognosis.

After more work-up, it was determined that the lung cancer was far advanced. It has spread to the bones, liver, and lymph nodes. A grim outlook.

During his hospital stay, his condition deteriorated and was transferred to the ICU.

I approached him as he lay in his ICU bed. Knowing the severity of his condition, I asked him about his “code status.” That is, what he wants us to do if in case he cannot breathe on his own, does he wants us to place a tube down his throat and have a machine breathe for him? Or if his heart stops, does he wants us to shock his heart or pound on his chest to try to resuscitate him? Or does he wants us to just let him go peacefully?

There was a long pause before he replied, as he breathed heavily under the oxygen mask. “I want everything done,” he finally answered. “I want everything done, until I have done one thing. I want to get married.”

Get married? Did I hear him right? Was he of a sound mind or was he confused and hallucinating?

As he continued talking, I ascertained that he was very alert and not confused at all. I did not ask why he wanted to get married, but he explained to me the reason why. Perhaps he saw the quizzical look on my face.

“I just want to make things right,” was his reason. Apparently, he was living-in with his girlfriend for twelve long years. He wanted to make their union legal. This would make her girlfriend the legal decision-maker for him if he becomes incompetent. And she would also inherit his estate without questions, when he dies. But more so, he just wanted to show her how he loved her over the years, but did not quite made it to the altar. Now, he was “making things right.”

Two days later, there was a wedding ceremony in our ICU room. A bride, a groom, a chaplain, and a couple of witnesses. That was all you need for a wedding. Of course there was a gown too. But it was the groom who wore it, for I’m not pertaining to a wedding gown, but rather a patient’s hospital gown.

There was many well-wishers too, courtesy of the ICU staff.

The patient’s son was also present. I believe he was his son from a previous relationship, and he came from out-of-state to visit his very ill father. He was probably expecting to attend a funeral, but was surprised that he was attending a wedding instead.

A few days after the wedding, our patient’s condition improved that he was able to be transferred out of the ICU to the Oncology floor. Perhaps, getting married gave him hope and a different outlook in life, and willed himself to get better.

He was started on combined regimen of radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Hope springs eternal.

Two weeks later, his condition started to decline once more. He grew weaker and weaker. His respirations became more and more labored. This time, he told us, he does not want to be resuscitated if his heart stops or if he cannot breathe on his own. I guess, he already accomplished his one wish, and now he was ready.

Then one day, he quietly faded away at the break of dawn. And he left a newly wed bride, a widow.

Cancer stumps hope. A so familiar refrain, sadly to say.

Yet love conquers all.

**********

(*This story was originally published in July of 2011; featured photo was taken a few weeks ago.)

Hugot Lines sa Sari-Sari Store

Heto na naman po ako, huhugot na naman. May pinaghuhugutan ba kamo? Wala naman, nabubuwang lang. Pagpaumanhin na lang po sana ulit, kung sakaling hindi ninyo maibigan.

Dumako tayo sa paborito kong dating tambayan. Ang sari-sari store ni Aleng Luring.

Hugot #1

Suki: Tao po. Pabili nga po ng paminta.

Tindera: ‘Yung buo o durog?

Suki: ‘Yung durog po ate, kagaya ng damdamin kong durog.

Hugot #2

Suki: Ale, pabili nga po ng suka.

Tindera: Anong klaseng suka?

Suki: Gusto ‘yung mabagsik at matapang. ‘Yung hindi susuko. Hindi gaya ng aking puso.

Hugot #3

Suki: Tao po. Pabili nga po ng patis.

Tindera: Isang malaking bote ba?

Suki: Hindi po. Puwede bang pinakamaliit lang. ‘Yung para sa akin lang. Ang dami kasing gustong makisawsaw.

Hugot #4

Suki: Pabili nga po ng baterya.

Tindera: Eveready o Energizer – ‘yung keep on going and going?

Suki: Puwede po bang patay na baterya. ‘Yung hindi na tatakbo. Ayaw ko nang laging iniiwan.

Hugot #5

Suki: Ale, pabili po ng sabong panlaba.

Tindera: Anong brand ng sabon?

Suki: Kahit ano po, basta huwag lang Pride. Hindi kasi iyon natatanggal, kahit ilan beses pa banlawan.

Hugot #6

Suki: Tao po. Pagbilhan nyo nga po ako ng bawang. Dalawampung ulo po ng bawang.

Tindera: Aba, marami ka yatang igigisa.

Suki: Hindi ho. Panlaban ko lang ‘yan. Dahil sa akin na nga, pero marami pa rin umaaligid at gustong umaswang.

Hugot #7

Suki: Tao po. Pabili nga po ng Band-Aid.

Tindera: Ilang Band-Aid?

Suki: Isa lang po. Ako lang naman ang nasaktan at nasugatan.

Hugot #8

Suki: Pabili nga po ng bumbilya.

Tindera: Anong klase?

Suki: ‘Yung spotlight. Para mapansin at makita niyang nandito lang naman ako.

Hugot #9

Suki: Pabili nga po ng papel.

Tindera: Anong klaseng papel.

Suki: ‘Yung graphing paper po. Kasi puro lang drawing ang mga plano niya sa amin.

Hugot #10

Suki: Tao po. Pabili nga ng bubble gum.

Tindera: Anong klase?

Suki: ‘Yung tumatagal ang tamis at hindi sa umpisa lang.

Hugot #11

Suki: Pabili nga po ng Coke.

Tindera: Litro ba?

Suki: Hindi po. ‘Yung pang solo-size po. Ako lang naman laging mag-isa.

Hugot #12

Suki: Kuya, pabili nga ng kape.

Tindero: Anong klaseng kape?

Suki: Kapeng barako kuya. ‘Yung sumisipa, na kaya akong gisingin sa katotohanan.

Hugot #13

Suki: Ale, pwede pong mag-pa load ng cellphone?

Tindera: Sige. Smart ba?

Suki: Hindi po Smart. Ang tanga-tanga ko nga eh. Hindi natututo. Globe na lang po. Pinapaikot-ikot lang naman ako.

Hugot #14

Suki: Ate, pabili nga ng toothpaste?

Tindera: Anong klaseng toothpaste?

Suki: ‘Yung Hapee. Para pag-ngumiti ako mukha akong happy. Kahit hindi naman talaga.

Hugot #15

Suki: Pabili po. Meron ba kayong Hope?

Tindera: Meron. Ilang kaha gusto mo?

Suki: Kahit isang piraso lang.

Tindera: Sandali lang ah. (*naghanap sa eskaparate……)

Tindera: (*lumipas ang ilang minuto) Ay, wala na pala. Naubos na.

Suki: Bakit ganun? Lagi na lang paasa.

Hanggang dito na lang mga suki, magsasara na po ang tindahan. Bukas na lang po ulit. Bukas na lang din pwedeng umutang.

photo from the web

(*a couple of entries are borrowed, but most are original materials)

Hugot Lines sa Jeepney

Kung minsan ay may mandurukot sa loob ng jeepney. Mag-ingat po tayo sa kanila. Pero hindi po ‘yung mga nandudukot ang tema ko ngayon, kundi ‘yung mga humuhugot kahit na sa jeepney. Unawain na lang po natin sila.

Kung hindi ninyo maibigan, ay ipagpaumanhin na lang po sana. Wala na lang pong kokontra.

Hugot #1

Driver: Heto po ‘yung sukli nung isang Quiapo.

Pasahero: Hindi na bale mama, nasanay na po akong hindi nasusuklian.

Hugot #2

Driver: Pakiabot na nga lang po.

Pasahero: Matagal ko nang pinapaabot kuya, pero dedma pa rin. Wala pa rin marating.

Hugot #3

Driver: Saan po itong bente pesos?

Pasahero: Diyan po sa may PAG-ASA. Kahit wala naman talaga.

Hugot #4

Driver: Saan po papunta itong bente?

Pasahero: Isa pong pa Balik-Balik. Walang ngang kadala-dala eh. Hindi pa rin natututo.

Hugot #5

Pasahero: Manong, kulang po yung ibinigay ninyong sukli.

Driver: Kulang? Lagi na lang akong kulang! Kailan ba makokontento?

Hugot #6

Pasahero: Ilan po itong isang daan?

Driver: Isa na lang po. Dalawa po sana, pero iniwan na niya ako.

Hugot #7

Driver: Bawal po ang sabit.

Pasahero: Alam ko namang sabit lang ako eh. Hindi ko lang talagang kayang bumitaw.

Hugot #8

Driver: Saan po itong singkwenta?

Pasahero: Diyan po sa Monumento. Pero pwede rin sa Luneta. Lagi na lang kasi akong nagpapakabayani. Pwede na akong tayuan ng Monumento.

Hugot #9

Pasahero: Para na po mama.

Driver: Sandali lang po, itatabi ko lang kayo.

Pasahero: Ganyan naman talaga kuya, lagi na lang ako sa tabi.

Hugot #10

Driver: Paki-usog na lang po diyan sa kaliwa, kasya pa isa diyan.

Pasahero: Hindi bale na lang po. Kahit pagsisiksikan ko ang sarili ko, wala pa rin akong puwang sa kanya.

Hugot #11

Driver: (*nagtatawag ng pasahero habang nakaparada ang jeep) Antipolo, Antipolo, Taytay, Antipolo!

Pasahero: Kuya, male-leyt na ako. Pwedeng tayo na?

Driver: Tayo na, Miss? Sige, sabi mo eh.

Matapos ang ilang minuto lang……..

Pasahero: Para na. Dito na lang ako.

Driver: Hanggang dito na lang? Pero salamat pa rin, dahil kahit sandali ay naging tayo.

Hugot #12

Driver: (*sa pasaherong sumasakay) Konting bilis at kapit na lamang po. Lalarga na tayo.

Pasahero: Ang higpit na nga po ng kapit ko. Pero lagi pa rin akong laglag, kuya.

Hanggang dito na lang po, boundery na. Magkakarga lang po ng krudo….este, kape. Sige, laglagan na.

photo from here

(*blaming my jet-lag for this transient craziness)

Abangers: Endgame

(No spoiler alert for Avengers: Endgame movie.)

Tumabo na naman sa takilya ang pelikula na tungkol sa ating mga paboritong superheroes, ang Avengers: Endgame. Sa panahong sinusulat ko ang akdang ito ay hindi ko pa napanood ang naturang pelikula, kaya’t hindi ko pa maibibida ito sa inyo.

Pero ibang superhero ang aking tatalakayin sa post na ito. Sila ang mga superhero o nagpapakabayani na maghintay at mag-abang – ang mga Abangers. Opo tinalakay ko na sila sa post ko noon, Abangers: Infinity Wait, pero sana’y pagbigyan ninyo akong muli na pag-usapan natin sila.

Sino ba ang mga Abangers na ito? Sila ba iyong nag-aabang ng nagtitinda ng puto o balut? O iyong nag-aabang ng jeepney o bus? O kaya nama’y nag-aabang ng kinsenas o katapusan ng buwan na suweldo? O nag-aabang sa kanto ng away o kaya’y sa kalye ng tsismis? Hindi po mga ‘yan ang tinutukoy ko.

Ang mga Abangers na aking tinutukoy ay ang mga taong nag-aabang na mahalin sila ng kanilang iniibig na may mahal namang iba. Sila ang mga taong umiibig ng boyfriend o girlfriend ng iba, o mas masaklap pa asawa na ng iba. Iyan ang mga super bayaning Abangers.

Siguro may kakilala kayong Abanger? O baka ikaw ay isang Abanger din? Kaibigan, siguro kailangan mo nang mag-isip-isip at baka ikaw ay nag-aabang lang ng wala. Ika nga, naghihintay na pumiti ang uwak.

Noong ako’y bata-bata pa ay maraming kanta akong nagisnan na nagsasaad ng ganitong damdamin. Sa katunayan naging sikat ang mga kantang ito. Dahil kaya marami kasing mga tao ang nakaka-relate sa mga awit na ito?

Ito po ang isang lumang kanta. Sa aking pagkakaalala ay si Jaime Rivera ang orihinal na umawit nito, pero noong makailan lamang ay may cover din si Morrissette Amon ng kantang ito – “Mahal Naman Kita.” Sabi ng kantang ito:

Pangarap ka na lang ba o magiging katotohanan pa,
Bakit may mahal ka nang iba,
Ngunit ‘di bale na kahit mahal mo siya,
Mahal naman kita.

Heto pa ang isang lumang kanta ulit. Si Martin Nievera naman ang unang kumanta nito, pero may version din si Regine Velazquez. Ang kantang ito ay ang “Ikaw Ang Lahat Sa Akin.” Saad ng kanta:

Ikaw ang lahat sa akin, 
Kahit ika’y di ko dapat ibigin, 
Dapat ba kitang limutin, 
Pa’no mapipigil ang isang damdamin, 
Kung ang sinisigaw, 
Ikaw ang lahat sa akin. 
At kung hindi ngayon ang panahon, 
Upang ikaw ay mahalin, 
Bukas na walang hanggan, 
Doo’y maghihintay pa rin. 

Mayroon pa akong alam na kanta, sinalumang awit ulit. Isinulat at inawit ito ni Rey Valera. Pero may bago-bagong version nito si Piolo Pascual. Ano ba yan, bakit yata puro recycle na ang ating mga kanta? Ang kanta ni Rey Valera ay ang “Walang Kapalit.” Sangayon sa kanta:

At kung hindi man dumating sa ‘kin ang panahon,
Na ako ay mahalin mo rin,
Asahan mong ‘di ako magdaramdam,
Kahit ako ay nasasaktan,
Huwag mo lang ipagkait,
Na ikaw ay aking mahalin.

Pero heto ang mas matindi. Isang lumang OPM ulit na ang orihinal na kumanta ay si Basil Valdez, pero may cover din si Sarah Geronimo. Ang kanta ay ang “Hanggang sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan.” Sabi ng kanta:

At kung sadyang siya lang ang ‘yong mahal, 
Asahan mong ako’y ‘di hahadlang, 
Habang ikaw ay maligaya ako’y maghihintay, 
Maging hanggang sa dulo ng walang hanggan. 

Talagang matindi ano? Maghihintay hanggang sa dulo ng walang hanggan! Subali’t maganda bang gawin iyon? Para po sa akin, ay hindi yata tama.

Ang kanta ay natatapos. Ang ubo ay nauubos. Pati nga liwanag ng bituin ay nauupos, kaya nga may black hole. Lahat ng bagay ay may katapusan. Kung ang paglalakbay ng alon sa dagat ay may dalampasigang hangganan, ang bus ay may terminal, at ang pasada ng jeepney ay may boundary, kaya ang mga biyaheng one-way na pag-ibig sana ay may hangganan din.

Kahit po sa mga Abangers, dapat may Endgame.

Noong makalawang araw ay naghalughug ako ng mga bagong OPM na mapapakinggan. Alam kong hindi na mga bago ‘yung iba, pero para sa aking pandinig, ay mga bago ito. Kahit mahigit dalawang dekada na po akong wala sa Pilipinas ay patuloy pa rin naman akong nakikinig at naaaliw sa mga awit na sariling atin.

Dito ay natuklasan ko ang dalawang “hugot” na mga kanta. Ito ay nagsasaad rin ng mga damdamin ng isang Abanger. Pero sa halip na sila ay umaasa nang umasa ng walang hanggan, o kaya’y umibig kahit na walang inaasam na kapalit, ang mga kantang ito ay nagpasyang may katapusan ang kanilang paghihintay. Ika nga Endgame na.

Ang unang kantang aking napakinggan ay kanta ng Ben and Ben. Ito ay ang “Kathang Isip.” Sabi ng kanilang kanta:

Pasensya ka na,
Sa mga kathang isip kong ito,
Wari’y dala lang ng pagmamahal sa iyo,
Ako’y gigising na,
Sa panaginip kong ito,
At sa wakas ay kusang lalayo sa iyo.

Heto pa ang isa. Kanta ng Muni-muni, “Sa Hindi Pagalala.” Wika ng kanta:

Kakalimutan na kita,
Siguraduhin mong hindi talaga pwedeng tayo,
Napagisipan mo na ba, 
Dahil kakalimutan na kita,
Eto na, eto na.

Tulad ng aking nasambit na noon, ako’y naging superhero din. Ako ay minsa’y naging Abanger din noon. Pero buti na lang at ako’y nagising sa aking kathang isip at kusang nag-endgame. Dahil kahit superhero o may superpower, may panahong dapat tayong sumuko, lumayo at lumimot na.

Mga Abangers, Endgame na!

**********

Here’s the official music video of Kathang Isip:

(*photo from web, video from youtube)

Nakaw na Tingin

Kumakabog itong dibdib,

Pinagpapawisan ng malamig,

Direksiyon mo’y sinusulyapan,

Kahit pa nakaw na tingin lang.

Masaklap itong kalagayan,

Ako kaya’y mapagbigyan,

Sana ikaw ay mas malapit,

Nang ‘di na masyadong mahirapan.

Pasimple para ‘di mahuli,

Saloobi’y ‘di dapat ipakita,

Bakit kasi hindi nag-aral,

Ngayon sa test nangongopya.

**********

(*Sorry to disappoint you if you thought this poem is about love.)

(**Handog sa lahat ng mga estudyanteng natutuksong mangopya. Hoy, bawal ‘yan!)

Someone is Praying

I was pulling out of our driveway last weekend and I had this certain feeling of heaviness in my heart. I was going to work and would be in the hospital, mainly manning the ICU, for 36 long hours straight.

First of all, it was the weekend before Christmas, so I was a little sad that I would miss out on many happenings. My kids were supposed to play music in the church’s Christmas program. But more so, I had this feeling of dread to whatever challenges I would face. The ICU is crazily busy this time of year, you know. What kind of chaos was waiting for me, God only knows.

Of course that dreadful feeling I had was nothing compared to some other people leaving for work. Like the OFW or overseas workers who are leaving their home and family for a year or longer to go to a foreign country. They would be fighting extreme loniness and homesickness. Though I had a taste of that feeling when I left my home in the Philippines more than two decades ago with an unforseen future at that time.

For some, it is even worse. I would not even try to imagine the feelings of soldiers leaving their home to be deployed somewhere in the world where there is war and unrest, and their return is not guaranteed at all. Talk about feeling of dread and angst, that definitely is.

Anyway, as I drove away from our home, the first song that played on my radio (my car radio is sync on my phone’s playlist) was “Someone is Praying for You.” All of a sudden I felt some kind of reassurance, and the foreboding feeling I had melted away.

The chorus of that song goes like this:

Someone is praying for you, someone is praying for you.
So when it seems you’re all alone, and your heart will break in two.
Remember someone is praying for you.

Do you have someone praying for you?

Maybe you owe someone money, and they are praying that you remember to pay your debt. Or maybe you have offended someone and they are praying that you choke on your food so you would think of them. But I am not talking of those kind of people wishing for you.

What I mean are people who really care for your well-being and have you in their thoughts and prayers no matter what.

I know most parents, if not all, especially mothers, are always praying for the good of their children. It does not matter how old you are or how far you wandered away from home, your parents are still praying for you.

My parents are both gone now. My father died 3 decades ago and my mother died 4 years ago. Yet, I know that there is still someone praying for me all the time.

It is a comforting feeling that someone always have me on their mind. Whether I am home or not at home. Whether I am strolling in a park or walking through the forest of difficulties. Whether I am sure of my path or I can barely find my way.

And that someone has also been by my side for the past 24 years. Happy Anniversary my dear, and thank you for walking this life with me.

(*photo taken last year)

For Fathers Who Aren’t In Heaven

Sad stories are life’s reality. Several weeks ago I heard one sad story. It was told by a young man, but he did not even relayed it to me. I just overheard it.

We were in a youth camporee, and I went there as a supervising adult (see previous post). There were more than 300 boys and girls from several youth clubs that came to that camping.

IMG_6483

evening worship at the camp

One morning in the boy’s public bathroom, I was in one of the toilet stalls minding my own business. There was no phone signal in the camp, so I cannot surf the web on my smart phone to keep me entertained. I was just watching a small spider spinning his web at one corner of the stall.

(Sorry, this is my second post in a row that discuss something about restrooms. It is not my intention to turn this blog into a toilet talk, but just bear with me, for there’s a good point I want to make here, I promise.)

Then I heard people came to the restroom. I believe there were at least two boys who came in. While brushing their teeth and perhaps washing their faces at the lavatories, they started a conversation.

After some small talk and introducing themselves to each other, like their name and what youth club or place they came from, one boy opened up with a very personal information. I was not being nosy nor eavesdropping, but as the wash basins were just a few feet from the toilet stall I was in, I heard all their conversation.

“I never knew who my father is, for I never met him,” one boy confessed.

He added that he met his real mother when he was eleven years old, but her mother never told him who his real dad is. Then he said that his mother told him that she gave him away for adoption for he was a “blue baby” when he was born. “I was blue as a Smurf,” he quipped. Her mother thought that she cannot take care of him due to his condition, so she gave him away.

As a medical doctor, I know that “blue babies” have an anomaly in their heart or in their circulation causing poorly oxygenated blood to course into their arteries giving the bluish discoloration of their skin. Unless a life saving procedure or surgery is done immediately, they will not survive. Most likely this boy underwent such surgery.

I know this boy is a survivor. Yet he might had the corrective surgery to close a hole in his heart, but the void and longing in his heart for love, especially from a father he never knew, was never filled.

Like a priest inside a confession box, except that I was in a toilet stall, I heard all this heart-breaking confession of a young man without him seeing me. Most likely he didn’t even know I was there listening to his story. He is not aware that the walls, even the very private toilet walls, have ears.

I would like to break out from the stall I was in and give this young man a big hug, but given the situation and place, that may be deemed inappropriate. Perhaps even scandalous.

The thing is I know his first name, his age, where he is from, and what club he is a member of, but I never saw his face. By the time I was done with my business, and came out of the stall, the two boys were gone.

My heart was broken just listening to that sad story. I can just imagine what heartache that boy was feeling. I just hope he finds the love he was looking for even if he has no father. Though one thing for sure, “our Father who art in heaven,” loves him and I pray that he realized that.

This made me thinking, that fathers who aren’t in heaven, me included, have such a great responsibility. We may never change the world singlehandedly, but we are given this distinctive duty and privilege to make a positive impact in the precious lives of our children. And perhaps if all fathers will do that, then the world will change.

For you fathers who may be reading this, or for you young men or even boys who will be fathers some day, I hope we all rise up to this challenge.

Have a happy and meaningful Father’s Day.

A Weekend To Remember

Few days ago I drove to my outreach clinic which is an hour and a half away. As I mentioned in the past, the drive there is mostly serene and relaxing, going through picturesque rural Iowa landscapes. Unlike the frustrating drive through EDSA being stuck in traffic for an hour and half. It was a beautiful spring day too, with colorful blossoms on the trees lining the highway.

This journey provides me an opportunity to ruminate, I mean to think deeply, not chew the cud like cows here in Iowa. And a chance for some “sound tripping” too. The music album I picked that day for the drive was an album I have not listened to for quite a while. I just added it recently to my iPhone’s music library. It was Jim Chappell’s “Saturday’s Rhapsody.”

While I was cruising down the road and listening to the music, it took me back 25 years ago. To be exact, it was a Saturday night in January of 1993.

I was a fresh graduate from medical school, and I just passed the Philippine Medical Boards. Some of my friends had been harassing (kantiyaw) me for days to take them out to eat as a celebration for my recent board passing. So I told them, perhaps the coming weekend after a church function, we can go out if we wish. A wishy-washy plan.

There was this girl, a friend of a friend, who recently became part of my circle of friends, that I knew it was her birthday that weekend so I brought a gift just in case she’ll show up and join the party.

The gift was a music cassette tape. Remember them? Compact discs were not in vogue yet or they were more expensive than the cassette tape that time. It was Jim Chappell’s album “Saturday Rhapsody.”

Jim Chappell is an American jazz pianist. I’m not really a jazz type-of-guy. I am more of Pinoy folk, rock and country type-of-guy, with favorites like Freddie Aguilar, Asin and Eraserheads. But when I’m studying, I avoid those songs, as I would break out in a song which will be disruptive. So I gravitate to instrumental music or music without words. That’s how I end up listening to jazz music, especially when I was reviewing for my boards.

As I was listening to a smooth jazz radio station in Manila, I heard the music of Jim Chappell, and I got hooked. I bought my first album of his, “Living the Northern Summer.” I love his music so much that I shared this to my friends, as I gave them Chappell’s album as a gift. And that brought me to that particular night in January 1993.

I bought the album “Saturday Rhapsody” as a possible gift. That is if this particular girl would show up that night. If not, I can keep it for myself, for I still don’t have that album anyway.

But the girl showed up.

Darn, I would like to keep that cassette tape for me! Yet it was also a good thing, since it was her birthday, thus it was her blowout too. So she shared on the bill for the restaurant meal for our group, saving me some money.

After seeing the album, this girl thought that the music was kind of “bastos” (lewd), as the picture on the cover of the album was some sort of a naked woman (see photo below). She also thought I was “presko” (fresh or impudent)! But afterwards, when she listened to the album, she found that it was decent music and she liked it. It changed her impression of me too.

SaturdaysRhapsody

We became good friends since then. We even went together to the concert of Jim Chappell when he came to Manila and performed at the Philippines International Convention Center in the summer of 1993.

In the end, the album that I gave away, became mine eventually and I didn’t have to get one for my own, as she and I shared it together. We have been sharing more than just music together for the past 25 years.

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Here’s a sample of one of the songs in that album “Saturday Rhapsody.” This song is “A Weekend to Remember.” It really was.

(*photo from the web, video from YouTube)

 

 

Abangers: Infinity Wait

Ilang araw na lang ay lalabas na ang bagong pelikula ng mga paborito nating superheroes, ang “Avengers: Infinity War.” Ito ay isa sa pinakamalaking production ng Marvel Studios at pagsasama-sama ng pinakamaraming superheroes.  Ang movie genre tungkol sa mga superheroes, ay isa sa mga pelikulang kinagigiliwan ng madla at malakas tumabo sa takilya.

Pero ibang superheroes ang gusto kong talakayin ngayon. Ito ay ang mga Abangers. Mga taong nag-aabang.

Hindi ko tinutukoy ‘yung mga tambay sa kanto. Oo nga’t nag-aabang din sila, pero hindi ko lang alam kung ano nga ba ang inaabangan nila. Siguro, Pasko?

Hindi ko rin tinutukoy ang mga pasaherong tinitiis ang pagod, gutom, init, at pakikipag-siksikan habang nag-aabang ng masasakyan. Tunay naman na umaabot ng siyam-siyam makarating lamang sa paroroonan. Sa ibang pagkakataon ko na lang tatalakayin ‘yon.

Ang aking tinutukoy ay ang mga nag-aabang sa pag-ibig na hindi nila maangkin. Sa simpleng salita, ‘yung mga nagmamahal ng taong may girlfriend o boyfriend na. O mas masaklap pa, nagmamahal ng may asawa na. Sila ay nag-aabang na magkahiwalayan ang sinisinta nila, para sila naman ang makaentra.

Maraming mga kanta akong kinagisnan noon na nagsasaysay ng ganitong sintimyento. Ito ang isa: Hanggang Sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan.

Ang orihinal na umawit nito ay si Basil Valdez, at ni-remake naman nila Gary Valenciano at Sarah Geronimo.

At kung sadyang s’ya na ang ‘yong mahal,
Asahan mong ako’y di hahadlang,
Habang ikaw ay maligaya ako’y maghihintay,
Maging hanggang sa dulo ng walang hanggan.

Ayan ang tunay na Abanger! “Abanger: Infinity Wait.”

Heto pa ang isa, awit naman ni Martin Nievera, “Ikaw ang Lahat sa Akin.” May cover din nito si Regine Velasquez.

At kung hindi ngayon ang panahon,
Upang ikaw ay mahalin,
Bukas na walang hanggan,
Doo’y maghihintay pa rin.

Meron pang isang kanta, ang awit ni Andy. Andy ba kamo? “Andy ‘to ako, umiibig sa ‘yo.” Huh?

Ah, eh si Ogie Alcasid pala ang kumanta nito. At my version din si Leah Salonga.

Nandito ako umiibig sa iyo,
Kahit na nagdurugo ang puso,
Kung sakaling iwanan ka niya,
Huwag kang mag-alala,
May nagmamahal sa iyo,
Nandito ako.

Ilan lang ‘yan sa mga theme songs ng mga Abangers. Sila ay mga superhero, di ba? Hero, bayani, as in martyr! Pwedeng-pwede na silang barilin sa Luneta.

Maaring iyong tatanungin, masama bang maging Abanger?

Unang-una, mahirap maging Abanger. Lagi ka na lang nagtatago sa dilim, naghihintay sa pagkakataon na lumabas sa liwanag. Laging patago ang iyong diskarte, at baka ka mahuli ng tunay na nagmamay-ari. Sabi nga ng lumang kanta ng Apo Hiking Society:

Mahirap talagang magmahal ng syota ng iba,
Hindi mo mabisita kahit okey sa kanya,
Mahirap oh mahirap talaga,
Maghanap ka na lang kaya ng iba…..

I-dial mo ang number sa telepono,
Huwag mong ibibigay ang tunay na pangalan mo,
Pag nakausap mo siya sasabihin sa’yo,
Tumawag ka mamaya nanditong syota ko.

Pero marahil ikakatwiran natin, kung tunay ang pagmamahal natin, ito’y ipaglalaban natin kahit pa may bakod na. Bahala na kung magkabistuhan pa. At handa tayong maghintay, kahit pa sa dulo ng walang hanggan, ika nga ng kanta.

Pero dahil kaya sa pagiging Abanger ay maaring ipinipinid natin ang ating paningin at sinasarado natin ang pinto sa ibang mga pagkakataon. Sabi nga ng isang quote:

When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us. – Alexander Graham Bell

Minsan hindi pinto, kun’di bintana ang pinagbubuksan. Kaya’t tumalon ka na sa bintana. Jump out and move on.

Marami ang nabubulag at marami rin ang nagbubulag-bulagan dahil sa pag-ibig.

Isa pang dahilan, ilagay natin ang ating sarili sa sapatos ng boyfriend o girlfriend ng ating inaabangan. Hindi ko ibig sabihin na nakawin mo ‘yung sapatos ng boyfriend o girlfriend, pero siguro naiintindihan mo ang ibig kong sabihin. Hindi ba nakakabwisit kung may umaasungot o umaaswang sa iyong syota? Sabi nga ng Gintong Utos: Huwag mong gawin sa iba, ang ayaw mong gawin sa iyo ng iba.

Ang huling dahilan na naiisip ko kung bakit hindi magandang maging Abanger ay ito, hindi mabuti ang “One-Way Street” sa larangan ng pag-ibig. Hindi ito malusog na relasyon. O hindi ito maituturing na tunay na relasyon.

Unrequited love is the infinite curse of a lonely heart. ― Christina Westover

Tulad ng mga naririnig mong payo ng iyong mga kaibigan, ‘Ang mga martyr, binabaril!’ Alam kong may halaga ka, kaya’t pahalagahan mo rin sana at mahalin ang iyong sarili. Natitiyak kong may tao ring magpapahalaga sa iyo.

Masakit man isipin at mas masakit pang aminin, na ako ay naging isang Abanger din noon. Oo, nag-aabang ako sa pagdaan ng magtataho sa aming kalye noon.

Pero seryoso, naging tunay akong Abanger, nanligaw at nag-abang sa babaeng may boyfriend na. Ito ay nang ako’y nasa unibersidad pa. Akala ko nga kami na. Dalawang taon din akong nagpakagago! Pero salamat at naumpog ako at namulat sa katotohanang wala akong mahihitad at hanggang sa pagiging Abanger lang pala ako.

Hindi ako nagkikimkim ng galit. Hindi ako nanghihinayang. Hindi rin ako mapait sa mga pangyayari.

Noong makailang taon lang ang nakalipas, ay dumalo ako sa aming Graduation Silver Anniversary ng aming unibersidad sa Pilipinas. Dito ay muli kong nakita ang aking dating inaabangan. Oo nga’t may kaunting kislot sa dibdib nang akin siyang makita matapos ang dalawampu’t limang taon. Pero akin ding napagtanto na pundi na at wala nang liyab ang aking damdamin para sa kanya.

Hanggang sa ngiti na lang kami at pagbati ng “Kamusta ka.” Dahil para sa akin, natagpuan ko na ang aking “forever.” At hindi lang ako isang Abanger.

Once Upon A Time

Not too long ago while walking at the mall, I was captivated by the music being played. You might ask, on what occasion does mall music captivating? Many times the music is just blaring and quite annoying.

Not in this store. Actually I was in a large department store that you would consider old-school, a holdover from the classic era, if you will. Though it is in the mall, this particular store has a quiet and serene environment. The music is calming and not loud. Most of the time it is provided by a grand piano in the center of the store, near the escalators. And they employ a live pianist to play the piano.

So when I heard the certain song being played, I was drawn to the place where the piano was, to see the musician who was providing the music. Though I was not familiar with the tune, somehow it stroke a nostalgic chord.

When I came down the escalators, I was surprised when I saw the pianist.

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He was a bit older than what I was expecting. He was perhaps in his late 70’s or even 80’s. His mobility was not very good anymore, as substantiated by the presence of a walker beside the piano. Yet the dexterity of his fingers were still impeccable. And the emotion in his playing was still very much palpable.

I was enthralled that I had to sit down on one of the sofas near the piano so I can watch him a little longer. He has no notes or music piece that he was reading. He was playing by memory with his eyes closed. Perhaps he has played this song so many times, that he’s performing it all by finger or muscle memory. Yet I can feel the deep sentiments on those fingers as it runs through the piano keys.

Maybe he was reminiscing the good ole days. Maybe he was reliving bygone happy moments. Or maybe he was lamenting a lost Valentine’s.

What was the song? I didn’t know, so I asked him after he finished playing.

He answered, “Once Upon A Time.”

Such an appropriate piece.

(*photo taken with an iPhone)

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“Once Upon a Time” is a song composed by Charles Strouse, with lyrics by Lee Adams, from the 1962 musical All American. It has been sung by Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Tony Bennett and Bob Dylan among others.

Here’s a version by Alex Bird (taken from YouTube):

 

For all the lovers out there, including those who loved and lost, and who loved once upon a time, may you have a memorable Valentine’s.