Saturday, September 24, 2005


I realize that there's a lot of sentimentality spouting off from my fingers - onto the keyboard, and finding its way into cyberspace. Not to sound too self-indulgent would be my current maxim; however, being otherwise is an altogether different (and more difficult) thing to do.

Still, to quote the pertinent chapter from Kahlil Gibran's "The Prophet" . . .

When love beckons to you follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.
All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.
But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.
When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart," but rather, I am in the heart of God."
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

Yep, that sounds just about right.

Crap on that reality-check. Sentimentality would do me just fine.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Cradling the World

Aking mundo, ihimlay ang pagal mong katawan
Sa duyan ng kalawakan.

Hayaang maghilom ang mga sugat
Sa 'yong dibdib na likha ng mga tao

At itigil ng 'sang saglit ang iyong paggalaw
'Pagkat sa muli mong pag-inog
Ay may bago nang buhay.

(Noel G. Cabangon)

My translation (not so literal):

Rest your tired limbs, oh my world
In the cradle of the universe.

Let the wounds
Inflicted on your breast by men
Heal and close.

And tarry a moment from moving
For when you turn again once more
A new life will be born.

On the bus to work today I passed by a rubble patch along one of downtown Khobar’s busy streets. It was a sign of different things to come, and the memories of the building except for those of its former occupants are now being erased from the earth.

Just a stone’s throw away from our apartment the foundations of the Al-Shula Mall that survived being transformed to ash still bear the mute testimony of how buildings are so vulnerable to the test of time; but more so, to the current tenuousness of humanity.

Adjacent to it the Park Hotel, once a landmark for travelers who take the bus to the airport, has been obliterated and the rubble has been bulldozed. Even the earth has been newly-turned. When I pass by that intersection of the Dhahran Road and Prince Turki street, the emptiness of it for one used to it is close to being obscene.

News from the British Museum announces that the curators have assembled a collection of antiquities to document the forgotten empire of the Persians - from the rise of Cyrus to the absorption of the Persian Empire by the Macedonians under Alexander. There are, so they say, very unique pieces that indicate the contributions of that empire to Western civilization.

I wonder, though, in this new generation sorely lacking in a long-term, much more a communal, memory, what will we leave to those who will succeed us.

Proof positive in that where the messaging is instantaneous people think less about what they say and what they would leave. There is always the recall feature in your Outlook program. There is always the "delete" command to cull unwanted messages.

Even in the world of cyberspace where people gather in community we are all but little bits and pieces before becoming true memories. Ironically, however, a person who doesn't exist as a number is considered not to have existed. All we are to other people then is JUST ANOTHER NUMBER.

Are we, then, simply statistics to be filed away in some supercomputer's memory crunch?

Meantime, people continue on consuming - people as markets lapping up food, fuel, supplies, entertainment, clothing - the rush for new markets now is just as bloodthirsty as those races over stretches of ocean. All the while our finite resources are beginning to be consumed at an alarming rate without prospect of replenishment or renewal.


Isaac Asimov puts this well enough, and I will paraphrase him:

Major premise: The Earth's volume is finite.
Minor Premise: The total volume of coal, oil, and other natural resources on the Earth is less than the total volume of the Earth.

Conclusion: The volume of the Earth's natural resources is finite.

Major Premise: The volume of the Earth's natural resources is finite.
Minor Premise: We are using part of those resources every day.

Conclusion: We will use those resources up eventually.
Science tells us that Nature has a way of culling off populations - when resources are few, living things in an ecosystem will fight over them.

Sociology tells us that the natural recourse with the haves and have-nots is that the rich get richer, and the poor become poorer. And that when the tipping point comes, the have-nots turn the tables on the haves - often bloodily. Which then sets up the normal cycle of oppressor and oppressed.

First major premise: The world population is expanding at a faster rate, and that growth is mostly in the poorer countries.
Second major premise: Demand for resources has raised their prices, making the rich countries even richer.
Minor premise: The simplest way for the dispossessed to gain respect is through violence.

Conclusion: We are on the verge of another major clash.

Someone out there must be doing the math.

What legacy do I leave when my ideas fade or this electronic network disappears?

Who would remember those who have fallen in the dark years of the dictatorship, those martyrs who died without seeing the dawn? Would it all matter in this new age?

I'm in a dark mood today, as if I am marshaling all my emotional forces to some conclusion... as to what it is, let me stop awhile and think of it, and it will come to me.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

You're the One I'd Love To Love For All My Life

I wrote this piece in September 1999 just right before my sister delivered her second son. It was a long wait and I was inspired to write another song - I just a "met" a girl at that time and the bug literally hit me.

The feelings of course, were different. I found some solace that a new life was about to see the light of the world. It's funny that after I wrote this song "I Knew I Loved You" by Savage Garden came out, thus conveniently making me a copycat had this song been cut and seen airplay.

In 2002, I wrote the third verse to bridge the gap resulting from the arrangement Des S. and Anchit V. came up with. It was meant for the Raven, but she never got to hear the complete version of the song. I wonder how she would have felt if she did.

Never been lonely, had all the answers
But nowhere to go.
Certain of myself, searching for meaning
Still I don’t know
Always try to hide myself
When I’m standing in the light
Fleeing from the shadows
I can never truly hide

Judging my feelings with my imperfections
Could I be loved?
Choosing desire over sweet inspiration
From heaven above.
You’re the one who changed my world
When you made me understand
I don’t have to lie to you
I could be just who I am

Is this a miracle now that I’ve found you?
Should I believe in love
Is this all so true?
Never wanted love so bad
Never wanted it so right
You’re the one I’d love to love for all my life.

Words don’t come easy to show what I’m feeling
My thoughts go dry.
You are the answer to all of my questions
Don’t ask me why.
You have always been that dream
I could never quite forget.
In my heart’s a place for you
Even when we haven’t met .

Resting within your love my heart begins to speak
You make me feel secure
Even when I’m weak.
Knowing that you’re in my world
Makes everything so bright
You’re the one I’d love to love for all my life.

You are the color in my world so gray
Within my darkness
You’re the promise of a new day

You are the miracle that gives me faith to dream
You’re the flame that burns in me
You’re the song I sing.
As I live, as I breathe
I will love with all my might.
You’re the one I’d love to love for all my life.

You’re the one I’d love to love for all my life.

Monday, September 19, 2005


The Cast

I was pleased over the success of our play "Kulay Abo ang Madaling Araw." The performances were overwhelming. Great job by our actors.

I'd start out here to give thanks to the people who made it possible, for saying "Thank you" can never be too much.

Once again, I’d like to say thank you:
--> To the actors and creative staff behind “Kulay Abo Ang Madaling Araw.” Without your driving force, this production would not have been possible. To the parents who offered wonderful support to their kids. To their mentors, without whose guidance their creative potential would not have been tapped. Thumbs up particularly to Aylwyn Valenciano, who provided a spellbinding performance, and to Direk Dennis Obispo in bringing all his cast together.

--> The boys of SPA for the sweat you invested in this program. Everyone had a real workout and you didn’t have to go to the gym. The girls of SPA for showing grace under pressure during the program, and in supporting us before it.

--> To our volunteers behind the scenes, particularly Marlon Gonzales and our wardrobe/make-up crew.

--> To our guests Saringhimig, for putting in added flavor to our production.

--> For the tireless support of Rolly and Beth de Guzman, who pushed and pushed for the Acting class to do their rehearsals in IPSA. To Rolly for the leadership he showed during stage construction, and his personal effort in the same. For all the volunteer parents who helped in the meals of the actors.

--> To the hosting of Dhel and Polly Porcioncula of our stage construction, and the support shown by the Porcioncula and Bautista families during the course of the production.

--> To all the Core Group members who cajoled, sweet-talked, and campaigned for our show. It was a tough sell, but your hard work paid off.

--> To Arnold Villasis, for his creative inputs behind the artistic concepts used in the show, and his personal hard work. It’s in the little details of our set and souvenir program that make the experience for our audience worthwhile, and we have Arnold to thank for that.

--> To Josue Ferriol, our El Jefe, whose personal leadership of SPA-TDG made my job very, very easy. Like taking a walk through the park.

--> To Charlie Pagdanganan, for pulling our collective fat from the fire in rescuing the souvenir program reproduction, and for giving us a great morale boost that carried us through the entire play date.

--> For the creative touch of Nestor Valenciano and Gerry Lumitao, in adding a trademark to the show by composing a theme song. To Guen Jain for her contributions in making a demo record possible.

--> To Obet Lucas, for the portraits that have graced our souvenir program.

--> To Evelyn Pascua, for the thankless task of counting our money for the play.

--> To Roy Noriega and Boni Bautista, for our successes in our marketing campaign, and Edwin Deray for trying his best. To Joel Salazar and Cora Barretto, who spent some time soliciting from their contacts. And of course, to Charlie again for his initiative in marketing SPA as a whole.

--> For the trust invested in us by our colleagues from Entablado Filipino. I must concede in the beginning even I had some skepticism about the effect of this show, and how good a job SPA could do. Thanks for staying the course with us, through all of the gaffes, unintentional or through our own unfamiliarity in producing a full-length play.

There are so many kindnesses to be thankful for, like a supportive smile, a handshake, and above all, your mere presence that have invested in this show the true community spirit. There are, to be sure, some improvements to be made and lessons to be learned in the creative and organizational aspects of the show, but overall, I am proud to have been part of “Kulay Abo Ang Madaling Araw” and humbled at the same time to be called the production manager.

In all fairness, the people around me did all the hard work and all I had to do was go along for the ride. If that's what being boss means, man, that's the way to be, hehe. So, for all of these, there are no words to say except, “T H A N K Y O U.”

My prayers are for Beth de Guzman and Melinda Dalit, that they overcome their personal difficulties, and of course for their families that they continue in the face of challenges.

Someone pointed out that the use of Enya's music was a bit, well, overdone. Yes, I have to concede, it is true. Hearing Enya, letting her lyrics sink in, allows me to savor the triumph of the show and the beautiful memories of those times when I discovered her music.

Strange how my heart beats
To find myself upon your shore.
Strange how I still feel
My loss of comfort gone before.

Cool waves wash over
and drift away with dreams of youth
so time is stolen
I cannot hold you long enough.

And so
this is where I should be now
Days and nights falling by
Days and nights falling by me.
I know of a dream I should be holding
days and nights falling by
Days and nights falling by me.

Soft blue horizons
reach far into my childhood days
as you are rising
to bring me my forgotten ways

Strange how I falter
to find I'm standing in deep water
Strange how my heart beats
to find I'm standing on your shore.

Waiting for the next great thing to come from these wonderful kids.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Paraisong Kulay Abo

Tomorrow will be our full-length play presented by SPA and by Entablado Filipino. It is the first time such a production (full-length play in Filipino, within Saudi Arabia) has been attempted, and doubtless there have been many disappointments – people not understanding what it is all about, the cost is too expensive, the project is too audacious, some organizational mistakes – but I’m confident that everything will turn out just all right.

My friends wrote a great song for the play (natch, they beat me to it, and all for the better, of course). It matches the mood of the times – the dark sword of war and violence all over in the face of wealth and plenty. I read in the new Human Development Report of the UNDP that a child born in 1840’s England has a better chance of surviving and reaching 30 years old than it is for that same child to be born in modern-day Zambia.

The answer in the midst of all this apathy is that people in the middle MUST be the ones to do something.

We try, we try. But it is all so easy to give up.

(Panaghoy ni Lucing)

Lyrics by Agerico Lumitao
Music and Additional Lyrics by Nestor Raphael Valenciano, MD
Inspired by Stevan Javellana’s novel “Without Seeing the Dawn”

Bakit kay ilap ng langit na pangarap?
Ba’t itong puso’y nasasadlak sa hirap?
Hindi kailanman nagkulang manalangin

Bakit ba hapis ang lagi kong kapiling?
Ngiti ng pag-asa’y naglahong lahat giliw
Pati paraiso’y pinatid ng pighati

Dati-rati’y ligaya ang kaniig
Dati-rati’y kay liwanag ng paligid
Huni ng mga ibon dulot ay pag-ibig

(Ulitin ang Berso I & II at Koda)

Ikaw ang bukang liwayway, pinakahihintay
Ikaw na naging sandigan ko, paraiso at langit ko
Subalit wala ang langit sa lupa
At paraiso niya’y, ay paraiso niya;
At paraiso niya’y kulay abo

(Ulitin ang Berso I at Koda)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


After my breaking-in days with Saudi Arabia and my current organization, I made a promise that I would never let my personal deficiencies impede me or give my work unit a bad name.

It has worked by and large these past few months. Today, I received notice that I slipped up. I'm angry at myself for letting this happen.

There is much to be disappointed in this job, but the positives far outweigh whatever negatives I am feeling or experiencing. At least I'm not killing myself on the job, and I'm paid well enough it''s an inducement for me to produce. There are no absolutes why I'm not doing as well as I should, but I figure I should throw out excess sand and focus on the rocks that ensure my success.

Have to bring in more attitude. Have to be a little more dissatisfied, and let that discontent percolate for more ideas. Use the cliches as I may, yes, it's time to step out of the comfort zone again.

It will be tough "unrolling" a stone that is already moving, be it with physics or with personality, but you've got it damn straight, I'm going to be hellbent on making sure I don't slip up again. Sure, mistakes are going to happen, but slip-ups due to bad habits are controllable and are therefore changeable.

I'll get over my deflated ego tomorrow. Today I'll have to list a few changes.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

March of the Mundane

I'd like to avoid metaphysics for the day. Just too much.

My mind is on content overload rushing a presentation I should have, in earnest, finished a month ago. Serves me right. Now I have to do double time without the benefit of a parachute.

Preparations for our play "Kulay Abo ang Madaling Araw" have gone as scheduled. I'm afraid we haven't sold enough tickets. Fear to put into another compartment for me to banish my sleep later.

My room is in a total mess. No comfort for me. I really have to buy new furniture, perferably used, but more especially, "Otep-proof." I try to take care, really I do, but I'm just plodding and clumsy most of the time. I haven't cooked in a long time. I miss my own cooking, because I'm the only one who can truly appreciate my cooking. I miss crushed potato chips in my omelette. I miss corned beef pasta.

Did I bewail too much before - now that I have my hands full?

Caught the Dementieva-Pierce US Open semi on satellite TV. What a meltdown by the Russkie. Shame, and she was riding high. Too bad I missed the subsequent ladies' matches. Hope to catch the Federer-Agassi tussle later on. My money's on Federer, but my heart's with Agassi. Nice to see an "old" man in his sport hold up against time. Of course, there are people who should have retired way before they did, like Robert Jaworski in the PBA.

(Let me dodge a few bullets that will come my way...)

Tight pennant and wild-card races in baseball. A whole boatload of trades and transfers over the summer in basketball. Ferrari effectively dethroned as Formula 1 Constructor of the Year. Doping scandals everywhere. Gangsta values left and right. Great time to be a sports fan. I'm not too much of an addict, but I guess I could follow a conversation now and then.

Sigh ... wish had more time to talk of the mundane!

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Through one bad week (comparably) for the United States and the continuing bubbles of violence and apathy elsewhere in the world, I find it disturbing that I haven't said enough thanks for all the blessings that I have received.

I am grateful, knowing that I am on borrowed time, that I still greet each day with good health and an opportunity to be of service.

I am grateful that I have found true friends here in Saudi Arabia, people who are passionate about what they believe in and back these passions up with their actions. I am inspired just to have encountered such true generosity of spirit.

I am grateful that whatever personal tragedies that beset the people I care about, they hold their heads up high and take pride that they still persevere despite the many obstacles.

I am on borrowed time. One day, without my knowing and without any forewarning, the Lord will come and invite me to join Him. I would like to thank Him for the little things I sometimes take for granted in my life...

For the gift of other people, even those I may not actually like
For the ability to be moved by others, and to move them in return
For the ability to respond to another person, and to give that person joy
For the ability to speak, to express myself
For the ability to laugh and to cry

Thank you Lord, thank you. Thank you for all your gifts to me.

Thank you for my eyes. Thank you for giving me a window to this lovely world. When I look out into this world, may I appreciate more the blue of the sky, the green of the grass, the rainbow, the sunset. Thank you for the beauty that I see, that I may see the people I love and the joy in the faces of people.

Thank you for my tongue. While I may not be as gifted as those whom I admire, I have been able to express myself in plain speech and even in song. How many times have I forgotten the value of conversation - how they have shaped my relationships. Thank you for the joy of eating, one blessing that I shouldn't (but just have) indulge in so often.

Thank you for my ears. Sounds are the hue of my existence - amid all the noise in this world, there is still the incandescence of good jokes, of being empathetic to others, of good counsel from others, of words of appreciation and love. For music that flows within me and through me, and for the song in my heart I always hear.

Thank you for my hands. For someone who is more into thinking than doing, I am prouder of the work of my hands. Grant that my hands do more in helping others, in shaking hands out of true appreciation. To hold, to carry, to grasp --- my hands are the way I interact with my universe, and quite literally, to take charge of my life.

Thank you for giving me my whole being ---
For my ability to sense, understand, and appreciate this world
For my capacity to need other people and to lend a hand for their needs
For being able to take and of to give, of being able to share and to receive.

Thank you Lord, thank you. Thank you for all your gifts to me.

Lord, thank you.

Thank you for this universe. Thank you for the quiet spaces in my life. Thank you for lending me this time on earth. Thank you for this one life, the only life I would have to live. Thank you for being there, Lord --- today you may be the stranger who helps me to my feet, tomorrow you may be the life-partner I have always longed for. Thank you for listening to me, for giving me a part in your Plan.

Thank you Lord.

I only ask that you forgive me for not being as thankful of these gifts, or for not being able to give due regard to those around me, who surely have received their blessings in full just as I have. It is only because much is expected of me that I have come to disappoint. My life is in your hands; grant that I take full responsibility always for the wrongs that I have done.

In the name of your Son, my Brother, who has taught me on giving thanks.

Inspiration for these thanks is drawn from the Prayer Book of the De La Salle Brothers in the Philippines.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Lighting a Candle

I am lighting a candle for my two friends and their families.

For Vince Abejo, whose father passed away.
For Gigs Francisco, whose mother passed away.

As I learned about Vince in school, where he was my classmate for about eight years, he was somewhat of an understatement. He never made a big deal about his capabilities (of which he had a considerable amount of), but was more concerned about being a better person and friend. In his career, he has been rewarded with great material success and renown spanning into the international field, and still he was more concerned about his family than gaining more accomplishments. Definitely not an understatement.

From Vince's example, I learned about staying the course and while the chips may fall down as they will, one always has a choice.

Gigs was an enigma to me even in high school though he helped in my training as a peer counselor. He was a lot closer to my buddy Gerard since they were contemporaries in PC and lived in the same condo complex. We were already professionals when we struck up a true chord of friendship and it was astonishing that we have the same birthdays. Gigs is a truly unique individual that he borders on the eccentric, but this is the kind of eccentricity that resonated with me, since I'm on the fringe in many areas of my personality and beliefs anyway.

I pray that the journey of Vince's father has ended with the knowledge that he has left behind an invaluable legacy in the lives of his children.

I pray that the tragic death of Gigs's mother (she died in a devastating fire that has rendered Gigs homeless and an orphan) will help shape and define not only the life of Gigs but all of those who had been in direct contact with her.

In my case, I pray that my mother keeps on finding more reasons for happiness. She has borne too many crosses in her life that I wonder whether she keeps anything for herself. I pray that as long as I have strength, that her cupboard be full and never bare, that she may continue to draw upon the fountain of Life and of God's blessings because she is such a generous and caring soul. I accept that it is difficult living with her but that is no reason for me to deny her what she truly deserves.

Since I am truly helpless to uphold my family's welfare while I remain here in Saudi Arabia, I thank the Lord that no force of nature has yet impacted on our family, and I pray that it will continue to be so. I must die one day, and if my life can serve some purpose to save theirs, then so be it.