Friday, August 30, 2013

Finding Home

This song was written almost 20 years ago.  My friend Des and I tried to put in an arrangement, but for some reason we could not agree on the form of the song, and eventually I abandoned the idea of recording a demo.  I've forgotten some of the parts in the verse, reconstructing this entirely from memory, so I put in new lines to freshen up the piece and tinkered with its structure.  Hope to sing it again soon.  Also, how time flies.


Please wait for me, don't ever let me go.
This homeless heart has nowhere else to go.

Home is where the heart is
But I haven't found my only love
And all these walls that keep me in
Are all as cold and dark as the stars above.
Where will I find the shelter
That I know within your arms of love?

Home is where the heart is, they say.
To keep you warm when then sun goes away
For so long the dreams have kept me 
Alive --- and pushed me through
But dreams do fade they fly away with time.

Love is something that you'll find at home
Where you'll feel never be alone
But where is home when I'm away
So far --- from where you are
Though we're apart our hearts just beat as one.

Home is where the heart is
But I haven't found my only love
And all these walls that keep me in
Are as cold and and dark as the stars above
Where will I find the shelter 
That I know with your arms of love?

My home is where you are
And my heart lives in your heart
If I can find the courage
To bridge the miles that we're apart
If only time would be our friend
So all my days would be with you
And no more words need be spoken
To show my love is true...

Home is where the heart is
You're the one and my only love
And all these walls that keep me in
Are as cold and and dark as the stars above
Where will I find the shelter 
That I know within your arms of love?

Please stay with me, don't ever let me go.
This homeless heart has so much love to show.

Thursday, August 08, 2013


If wishes were notes I would have written a symphony
If kisses were like feathers they would scatter through the skies
If silences conveyed meanings I'd willingly go mute
If only moments spent waiting brought me closer to you

If mere lines on a page could awaken a bright day
If the world skips to the beat of a heart beating in time
If a song can be heard between a wink and a smile
If the miles we are distant means moments standing still

If true hope means surrender, and if faith brings reprieve
If the questions find answers and at last are complete
If all lies and all truths can be bridged with fresh views
If our memories are a Present, never fading, ever new.

If all that is known, or is knowable is revealed
If each breath that we take means another we will share
If each longing is caressed and reaches safe harbor
If only one second of loving validates our existence.

If only what I have to tell can finally be told.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

More Than Enough

I am in an unfortunate position of having to cram for something I should have done some time past.  But if it gets me back into some semblance of fire for the job, then so be it.  Lately I have noticed I have been going through the motions.  It gets things done, but it's not the same.  And I want to believe in what I am doing.  Because without it, this whole existence becomes more unbearable.

It's been two weeks since I have returned from my vacation.  Manila remains beautiful, flawed, frustrating, and addictive.  I refer to her not only for the geographical location but also for the life that happens there.  I love being there, but for the immediate future, I need to be here.  This year, I've divided my vacation into two parts so I can put some priorities in order.  And  I'm not surprised that things went down as they should.

I cannot encapsulate the world I have left into one big treat.  Relationships take time, and I can only devote what I can give to those which are most important to me.  I tried to give some time to new kinds of friends, or open the prospects for a relationship, and for some reason they never even panned out.  They never even occurred.  It's still on me for not trying harder.  And somewhere inside me, I know I can.  It's just that I lack the courage to let my heart burst for caring too much.

I'm old.  I've been beaten down by this.  However, I refuse to give up caring.  In my job it's hard to keep on doing it and coping with the reality of expatriate life in Saudi Arabia.  I look into someone's eyes and I know I've been there.    I can only offer sympathies.

For us to bounce back, we have to suck up the hurt and keep on dreaming that someday all this would mean something.  Maybe we're kidding ourselves, but we have to believe that this separation adds more value to the lives of the people we love.    That is enough.  That is more than enough.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Blow a Bubble of Good Cheer

This is an old favorite of mine - bossa as a genre has been in my blood, particularly of the Astrud Gilberto/Sergio Mendes quality. I am not a big fan of Sitti's covers - but this song catches, I believe, the sort of personality she wanted to create for herself when she started out. 

Just blowing a bubble of good cheer.   Some English translation of the lyrics, afterward, just for kicks.

Kung ika’y magiging akin
Di ka na muling luluha pa
Pangakong di ka lolokohin
Ng puso kong nagmamahal

Kung ako ay papalarin
Na ako’y iyong mahal na rin
Pangakong ikaw lang ang iibigin

Di kita pipilitin
Sundin mo pang iyong damdamin
Hayaan na lang tumibok ang puso mo
Para sa akin

Kung ako ay mamalasin
At mayro'n ka nang ibang mahal
Ngunit patuloy ang aking pagibig

[repeat chorus 2x]

Para sa akin

First attempt, rough draft:

Should you ever become mine
You will never shed tears again
A promise that I will never cheat on you
From my heart that truly loves

Should I ever be blessed by fortune
That I too will be loved by you
I promise that you'll be the only one I'll love

I will never try to force you
Even if you follow what you feel
I will let your heart beat as it will
Only for me.

Should I ever run into bad luck
And find out you love someone else
I will keep on with my loving you

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Because I Feel It. Because It's There.

This can only be ersatz poetry because it's so sincere.  Hall and Oates would have been apropos as well, but that ship has sailed and a song once dedicated cannot be taken back.  It's that quiet, buoyant confidence in the lyrics that deceives the listener that it isn't serious - but listen to those lines again:

"That's why I've got to be there
Got to be there where love begins
And that's everywhere she goes
I've got to be there so she knows
That when she's with me, she's home."

That's a feeling to which I wish I can awake.  It's that depth of feeling that rounds this life with purpose.  For now it's by proxy.  Just wish that my scene would soon be up.  I know I wouldn't know what to do.  Yet I believe that "I will be there" for that loveliest of mornings.

If I could only wrap around these words
The nature of my feelings
Or the silences even more profound
I will shower the universe with this bounty
I will dance with joy unbound.

If I could touch you with my intentions
Like a mother's care for her child
With worship so unspoiled and pure
I will paint the heavens with rainbows
I will rock your world for sure.

If there is nothing more left to give
Even bound in all the cliches -
My heart, my soul is yours to take
I will be lifted in sweet surrender
In the dreams your touch will wake.

If this world reveals such perfection
Such as only expressed in you
There is nothing I will find amiss:
Your lines, your scars - they make you beautiful
And I will heal them with my kiss.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Much for Nothing, Alas

Too much noise going on
Too much running around for what's new
Not much to do by hanging around
Not fun if it's time without you.

Too much store in knowledge that dies
Too many toys, too many things
In the end they don't mean too much to your heart
When your heart is no longer whole.

Too many lights to hide the darkness
Illuminated and yet rendered blind
Too much ego and mole-hill building
No time for "us", only for the "mine."

Too many lies that we tell ourselves
Life would be great if we had so much more
Yet so much of life have we forgotten
Too far have we gone from shore.

Too much spent for the unimportant
Expecting love and joy to be free
When treasures of life have been thrown away
Everything else becomes dross.

*The year-blog goes on hiatus until I select a better time to get it moving again.  Sometimes even when there is so much to be said, staying quiet is the best thing to do.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Holding the Wheel

"Nothing is more difficult than the art of maneuvering for advantageous position." - Sun Tzu

I'll try to keep this post as short and as sweet as possible.

Sun Tzu's impact on business is very simple because his tenets about confrontation are very simple.  Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and be honest to yourself in assessing your abilities.  Work hard to get the maximum advantage. Always be confident in your abilities.    Never pick a fight with someone you don't know.   Learn as much as you can about the "playing field" just as much as you are learning about your opponent.  Hone your skills and be as diverse in your methods of attack.  Keep your belligerent intentions secret.  Never allow your opponent to get a sure footing on you, on your abilities and your resources.  When you attack, make it swift, clean and decisive.  Preserve your people and your opponent's as well - someone has to rebuild and replant after the conflict is done.

Gaining an advantage over someone when the field is either known or well traversed is very difficult to do.  In business or in relationships, when all the cards in the deck are relatively well-known, masking your moves is a matter of hiding your emotions, or practicing outright deception.  Manipulation is not uncommon, especially by changing essential facts about oneself or admitting to feelings one doesn't truly have.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Treading Risk

It doesn't really mean anything, but I love space and it's quite purty.

"The man who never makes a mistake always takes orders from one who does."  - Anonymous

Today is a special day for my family as it marks what would have been the 55th wedding anniversary of my parents.  Since my father has passed on almost 20 years now, the celebration has been muted.  There are many wishes, but mainly that I hope that he had lived long enough for me to start paying the favor.

I had started with a more jocular tone in this post, assigning blame on someone who deserves it, but it didn't feel right, so I decided to put that part away.  Once again I find myself showing off for others in writing instantaneously, and find that what I wrote doesn't make any sense at all.

So here, in the middle of watching a brilliant display of acting by Denzel Washington on the movie "Flight," time to recapture my thoughts.  Denzel is back at where he is best: deeply pained (and flawed) charming working man, an identity he achieved between his first Oscar win in "Glory" and one of his popular roles (one of my favorites as well) as Jake Shuttlesworth in "He Got Game."  As he has gotten older, it's a bit reassuring that he still manages to romance some of the best-looking actresses of the day - Milla Jovovich, Eva Mendes, Nadine Velazquez, to name a few.  He did star opposite Whitney Houston and Julia Roberts, but hmmm... never mind.

Barring the technical scenes of flying, the themes in the movie "Flight" are so universal I believe it can be remade into a Filipino setting, with perhaps Cesar Montano doing Denzel's role.  Not Robin Padilla - he doesn't communicate enough book intelligence to pull a pilot off.  Not Bong Revilla, because he can't act, unless acting like a Senator counts, for which he is doing an awards-worthy performance.  Not Jinggoy Estrada, he doesn't have the physicality of a pilot.  Not Aga Muhlach (much too good-looking to be insecure).  I have a ton of jokes about other actors, but we're getting away from point.

The climax of the film entails a decision the character had to make which would define his life.  While most decisions are not on the same nature as "game-changers" all kinds of decisions entail some amount of risk.

Risk is what makes people averse to making decisions that carry some negative but necessary consequences.  Inviting confrontation is one thing.  Volunteering to do more for the sake of the team, without expectation of credit is one another.  Asking to be recognized for that kind of voluntary work is still one more.

The willingness to take risks and make mistakes is what earns people's trust - few people make headway with squeaky-clean records.  This is not saying that deliberately doing something bad would give someone a better resume.  Rather, it's the willingness to do something that is unpopular, uncomfortable, or conventional that enables people to succeed.  It is said the best way to lose your head is to stick your neck out for something; on the other there is no way for someone to go forward unless you stretch all the way.  The same pose that where people get beheaded is the same where they get knighted.

I laud all my fellow expats who undertook great risks to get here.  At times, they accept demotions, take on additional debt, do something different from what they used to do, on top of being separated from their families, just to get here to the Middle East.

However, by the time they get here, something fundamentally changes.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Setting the Norm

"Only knowledge put to use can create capital." -- Mikel Harry & Richard Schroeder, creators of Six Sigma

NBA Player Royce White speaks on mental health

I realize the whole issue being taken up by Chuck Klosterman in his article (short aside, I believe Klosterman to be a very insightful who is able to cross-reference sports with all other aspects of public interest) is not how I would like to preface today's piece.

It does, however, state a simple fact that we take for granted - setting a norm is the best way to determine how to go about accomplishing something.  If there are no norms, no standards, no procedures or precedents on major parts of activity society would fall apart.

In our office setting the lack of standards is one of the glaring issues we need to address.  I say this without any rancor for any particular manager, or for the management in general.  I am sure they are aware of the problem.  Without any specific standards for operational efficiency, there is a lot of difficulty of measuring how good our people are, or how much money we are actually making.  Sure, there is the financial bottom-line, but even with the best accountants, numbers can prove to be deceptive.  It's just like high-volume shooters padding their stats without any efficiency.

The classic NBA example is Allen Iverson.

I admit I was never a fan of Iverson's kind of game.  Sure, he was a talented player who can get off any shot he chose, but his career shooting percentage is just a little over 40%.  With simple math, it is easy to conclude that Allen Iverson misses more than half of what he attempts.  And if he's your best player, then you are in a quandary - necessity dictates you have to surround him with both good defenders to help stopper the opponent's offense, but who can also shoot reliably when needed.

Experience and common sense will tell you that if there is any player with that kind of combination of ability, they won't stay too long when all they have to do is stand around and wait for Iverson to get settled in isolation during your half-court sets.  It will be fortunate if Iverson gave up the ball, and he did so only under duress.  That is a bad combination for his teammates.

They need their shots too, primarily for their self-respect as players, but more shots also mean more opportunities to score, and therefore a chance to score a better payday.  Good luck on keeping them effective and happy at the same time.  So - hello and goodbye Jerry Stackhouse, Glenn Robinson, Tim Thomas, Toni Kukoc, Keith Van Horn, Chris Webber.  Did I miss someone?

So as his abilities started to decline Iverson became an even bigger problem.  He could no longer produce, but he still had the same tendencies, and was a growing liability at defense as well.  Iverson started as the point man, but because he was such a ball hog he was shifted to the shooting guard position, for which he was undersized.  Opponents could not only shoot over him, they can just body him up to bother his shots or for them to get off theirs.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mirrored, Darkly

"Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves." - James Allen

Day 3 of this new regime is coming up roses like the last two - I am rather semi-somnolent from ingesting my last meal - in this case breaded fish fillet and sardine sotanghon (ode to pad thai, natch) and the free-flowing sense of consciousness is ready to drift away with the next downloaded treat from the Internet.  So far banging on the keyboard feels oddly rewarding for some reason, and I am afraid that I will make no sense once I get to the end.

It was a stressful day today.  Lots to do but not necessarily lots accomplished.  We have gotten moving on a lot of things, but not fast enough.  My sense of urgency meter is on, but only with the pilot light.  The full satisfying whoosh and whoop of a steady flame just aren't there yet.  All our best ambitions and emotions are mirrored darkly- it's very difficult to put in words like "nobility" and some other high meanings given the occasional tedium of the work and the transactional nature of our field.

Today's quote is a good one for me, and for all expatriates based in the Middle East.  Nobody wants to be left out of the list of recipients of increments.  No one wants to come out a loser come the day when everybody else receives some form of reward from the Company.  The funny thing, it isn't so much whether the reward is deserved, it's that others are getting something.

My sense of justice is somewhat rubbed at this juncture.  Nobody gets a free pass at anything.  You want something?  Go out and earn it.  It isn't going to be given to you.  Second thought, of course, is that getting something you don't deserve through shortcuts is the surest way to lose your way.  Getting rewards because you happen to be somebody's friend or somebody's relative is the number one shortcut.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Posts On Which You Stand

"Never commit your team unless you are confident your team will support your decision." - Christopher Avery, Ph.D.

The simplest way I could explain this statement is this:  keep your decision-making process transparent as much as you can.  If you plan to play your cards close to your chest, make sure that you are prepared to do the things you would rather not do.  Because if others won't, somebody has to, and if you are the one bringing the change, you can only convince others to do the same if you are the first volunteer.

The second thing is that for certain things, letting the team come to a decision is sometimes more important than making the decision itself.  Of course, no leader or manager would allow his group to go around with no one at the reins guiding the way.  My experience in volunteer organizations has taught me this: no commitment is stronger than one reached by the members together.  There may be times one has to cajole, exhort, or leave subtle signs, but in the end, only buy-in will secure the commitment to a course of action.  In the corporate world it would be the rare few who would stick their neck out, so reaching a group decision is not that easily forged as it should be, even though the forms of "votes" are often practiced.  

When the vote does come, it normally comes as a form of lower agreement, voting for that which is least disagreeable.  Much like the United Nations, don't expect committees in this part of the world accomplishing something unless there is some form of benevolent dictatorship going on.

It cannot be avoided at times that in place of consensus a leader must make decisions because of necessity or urgency.  The most commonplace example is that when a father has to make a career move, everyone else around him is affected.  Funny that I should think about that since the Arab leadership and management models are mainly based on paternalism.  Every time I attend a leadership or management conference, one pervasive thought is to how to best handle the "needs" of  employees as if they were babes in a wood and could not decide for themselves.  In a sense, with the wide demarcation between "labor" and "management" the mindset becomes the reality in practice.

Yawn. But Good News Still.

Celtics beat Miami

Rajon Rondo is out for the season, which may be a good thing.  I'm decided - if trading Rondo brings in a big man with youth and upside it should be done.  He is not going to lead this team, or any team, to a championship.  They should have done Rondo for Westbrook when they had the chance.  Now?  Hmm.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Look up, Buddy Holly

"Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude." -- Zig Ziglar

In honor of the occasion of ... nothing, it would be apropos to preface this entire process to which I am trying to commit myself.  Instead of offering words of wisdom, why not offer words of... love?  I will attempt to post at least once a day, reflecting on a piece of truth.  In this fashion, I force myself to revisit my passion for writing, and then unburden myself of whatever it is that is troubling me at the end of each day.  Let's see if I  a) stay honest even just to myself as to what I am going to say and b) muster enough effort to see if I can actually do this.

I am in a bit of a classic rock mood at the moment, so I raise my glass to that pioneer of guitar-paced rock, Buddy Holly.  So here goes.

I can't pretend I'm any smarter than the people who pour forth these words of wisdom, so I'll just offer my take on what these words mean in my context.

First off, I would like to give props to Novak Djokovic for winning his third consecutive Australian Open tennis title.  This is the first time a man was able to do this in the Open era.

By no means am I a fan of Nole, but one has to tip the hat to him.  He has kept himself consistent, fit, and focused for a long stretch of tennis competition, which in this era has become more highly competitive than ever.  Perhaps only Pete Sampras or Roger Federer can claim to the same kind of consistency for a prolonged period of time.  Well, there is the brilliance of Rafael Nadal, who has struggled with his fitness over the past three years.   More on them.