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Old verses now

Reading my old verses
Makes me wonder how I wove those words together;
How I plucked them from my thoughts
And set them to black and white.

I wonder at the feelings expressed:
Feelings long gone and felt by a different me.

The love remains,
But the feelings are not the same.

I write now but I am not the same.

The newness of young, blossoming love
Is now replaced by a deeper sense of devotion
As deep and still as a calm ocean.

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Our Solitude

As you sleep away the weariness of the day
And rest in fitful slumber

I close the windows to keep out the cold
Knowing you will rise to shut them
When you wake in the night
As you feel the chill seeping through your skin

Yet I want to keep you in slumber’s comforting embrace
To give you momentary warmth
From the day’s relentless battles

All the things I could not say
In waking hours
In the bright daylight
Around people coming and going
I would rather express in this unseen gesture
When you sleep
In the dark night
With no one around in our solitude.

Come Back

A nugget of golden thought comes out of the chaos;

Not the right words but it comes close to capturing the flow.

When I look back, will I comprehend this verse and what it’s about?

Maybe not, but I’d like to try — to talk to the self I’ve left behind.

 

Oblivious

I know I left you,

But the pain remains

When I see your smiling face

On my wall.

How are you?

You look so happy

But to me, you’re stuck

In a pool of your own density.

You are oblivious to the world;

Content to be satisfied —

Staying in the same place,

While everyone has somewhere to be,

Including me.

I know I left you

To free myself from pain.

With a smile on my face,

I left it all.

How am I?

I haven’t really been happy;

But to me, I’m free

To live and learn.

I want to taste and feel the world.

Discontent to be dissatisfied,

I want to keep moving on

While you grow and take root

Without me.

Your happiness

Is a straight-edged sword,

Driving home the pain

Of cutting myself from you.

Nothing more I could have done

Would have saved me

From being chained to you.

So, I chose the pain of being free.

The blade twists to pierce my soul

But I can stand it.

I can stand the sting

Of your oblivious bliss.

Life is singular;

I live it alone.

Leaving you means

Living me.

“What’s so great about being a Filipino?”

Someone asked this question on one of the comment threads on a popular website, where there were effusive displays of “Pinoy Pride” from Filipinos the world over.  That person explained that he didn’t mean to be racist or anything, he was just genuinely wondering why Pinoys must figuratively beat their chests or proclaim to the whole world that they are proud to be Pinoy whenever someone of Filipino descent makes a renowned achievement.  He said he didn’t get it because people of other races don’t usually do that.  Another user on the thread replied that black Americans and Puerto Ricans act similarly, flaunting their pride in their race unabashedly.

It made me think about how we native Pinoys have a propensity towards claiming proudly as one of our own popular people of Filipino descent, never mind if they are of mixed race, or grew up in a foreign land, or could probably identify more with the foreign culture they grew up with much more than Pinoy culture.  Whenever these people make it in the international news, you can bet that the local media will take it up and declare in the headlines that this person is a Pinoy or half-Pinoy.  We native Pinoys would be pleasantly surprised and would be excited to know that these celebrities share something with us that runs in our veins: Filipino blood. Knowing that one of our own ethnicity, however, has made waves abroad makes us proud to know that a Pinoy can conquer fields dominated by natives of foreign lands and make us feel good about ourselves.   If you think about it, there’s nothing wrong with a bit, okay, maybe a lot of pride in our own race.

The big question is why is it such a big deal for us?  Why do we need to be reminded to take pride in our own race by other Pinoys’ or half-Pinoys’ achievements?  It’s kind of ironic that sometimes, it is only when foreigners give us compliments or treat us with high regard that we become proud of ourselves; and when we see famous people of Filipino descent making it big in foreign shores, we identify with them and we say that if they can do it, then surely we also can because they’re Pinoys, just like us.  It’s kind of like a person with self-esteem issues, looking in the mirror and being told, “See, you’re not so bad…you have something great in you that ought to make you feel proud of yourself.”

It’s strange because we are already living in the 21st century.  The previous century has passed and taken along with it the last vestiges of the 300-year-old Spanish colonial rule, as well as the American and Japanese occupation of our country.  There is no longer any outsider calling us “indios” in our own land; there is no longer any colonizer or invader that we are fighting to oust from our territory; there is no longer any need to overthrow a foreign government and assert our independence.  Why, then, do we still need to remind ourselves about what should make us proud to be Pinoy and to promote patriotism?  Is it because our country’s colonization and occupation by foreign races have beaten down the Filipino psyche into believing that we are a lowly race, never able to push the country past its third-world status as it is tied down to permanent stagnation by the idiosyncrasies of its own culture?  Or is it because we are fighting to keep our identity afloat amidst the influx of western (and even eastern Asian) culture that is sweeping our modern society? Maybe “Pinoy Pride” is a reminder, a self-affirmation, if you will, lest we ourselves forget what it means to be Pinoy.

It has been said that the Pinoy’s memory is short. We easily forget past mistakes or atrocities committed by tyrants and plunderers, the sacrifices of past heroes who fought for our freedom, and defining moments when our country stood united in espousing a common cause.  Somehow, we need to keep reminding ourselves and each other about “Pinoy Pride,” lest we slip back to our old ways of indolence, indifference, and selfishness.  If that’s the case, then I guess “Pinoy Pride” isn’t too bad.  Foreigners might not understand it, but we understand what it’s like to be Pinoy—we know ourselves well—so, it works for us.

If we were to answer, then, the question at the beginning of this essay, each one of us could come up with a hundred different answers to it.  Some may be positive; others may be negative.  It all depends on your perspective.  When a foreigner throws the question at you, though, you can be caught off-guard and forced to dig deep within yourself and ask if you are even proud to be one.  You might even re-evaluate your own reasons.

The thing is, we talk about what’s negative or positive about Pinoys in the third person: “Pinoys have crab mentality,” “Pinoy politicians are corrupt,” “Pinoys are very hospitable,” or “Pinoys are resilient amidst hardships.”  We forget that we are the Pinoys at the very heart of the subject matter.  We are actually talking about ourselves, our parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends and neighbors.  We make up the nation of Pinoys.  Each one of us as individuals, make up the whole, and each of our actions—whether failures or achievements or somewhere in between—compound and contribute to the downfall or success of our nation.

So, if we are ever asked the question, “What’s so great about being a Filipino?” It becomes analogous, in a sense, to being asked about what’s so great to be who we are as individuals and what we have done that makes us so special.  What is it about ourselves that makes us proud?  We need not look further beyond ourselves to boast about being proud to be Pinoy.  We can start by acting in a way that makes us proud of ourselves, and that pride will subsequently extend to our families, our friends, our communities, and to the entire nation.  Then, we can give an answer to that question without any hesitation or reservation.

Pride in ourselves—in being Pinoy—need not come from basking in the glories of other famous people of our race.  It can come from within us.

As I go through my mundane day-to-day routines, questions sometimes pop into my head. It wouldn’t be so troublesome, if only I, or anyone I know, could actually give answers. Up to now, I haven’t found any, so I decided to just list them down and spring them on an uncaring and unresponsive world, in the hope that if I put them out there in cyberspace, they will disappear like Helium-filled balloons into the sky until I find no trace of them. Kind of like out of sight, out of mind. So, without further ado, these are the five wonders of my cluttered mind (too bad I only came up with five; two more would’ve completed my aspirations for having seven wonders):

1. An overpass isn’t supposed to be just another landmark.
Does it ever occur to CDO pedestrians that an overpass is constructed for an actual purpose? They are supposed to exist for the safety and well-being of pedestrians, to give them an opportunity to cross a road without having to run an obstacle course for fear of getting hit by vehicles speeding through the highways. The city has several overpasses but strangely enough, they remain largely unused. CDO pedestrians are a brave ilk. Most drivers of CDO public utility vehicles (notably, jeepneys) drive like madmen or like they own the city streets, but pedestrians will still risk crossing the roads. Who knows? Maybe they don’t like taking the stairs or maybe the darkness and the filth in the overpasses scares them more than reckless drivers, which leads me to the next mystery….

2. Jaywalkers walking scot-free in front of RTA officers.
It never ceases to amaze me how the Roads and Traffic Administration (RTA) officers can let jaywalkers get away without so much as a warning for crossing a busy intersection during rush hour. Why is it that when motorists get into even the slightest mishap that doesn’t cause any major damage to the parties involved, RTA officers seem to materialize out of thin air to insist that the parties settle the matter before their office even when the parties themselves are unwilling to make a complaint, yet when jaywalkers suddenly dart out into a busy street, the officers seem perfectly fine with it? I happened to pass by an intersection at Bulua one morning, the one right beside Macapagal Drive, and there was an RTA officer directing vehicular traffic but completely ignoring to regulate pedestrians crossing the road. To top it off, the RTA officer was standing, like, a few meters away from the overpass. I guess the overpass was just another landmark to him.

3. Paying parking fees for an unsecured public facility.
If you’ve ever been to the Pelaez Sports Center, you’d find that before your vehicle can enter the gates, the personnel will ask you to pay a P5.00 parking fee. Nothing extraordinary, right? Right. When you read the parking ticket, however, you’d find the words “Park at your own risk.” There are signs hanging on the steel fences saying that, too. SO, WHY IN THE WORLD ARE THEY ASKING PEOPLE TO PAY PARKING FEES? Is it to pay for the materials and the cost of printing those darn parking tickets? Why is the management asking for parking fees when they can’t even provide anything in return for charging fees at a PUBLIC FACILITY? Imposing fees means that the government ought to provide something in exchange for the convenience and welfare of the people who use those services or facilities, like maintenance or protection of their personal property while inside the premises. Why do owners of private vehicles have to pay for the privilege of parking inside the Sports Center when they can’t even be assured that their vehicles will be safe from petty thieves? I’d really like to know.

4. Barney is a T-Rex.
Now, I’m onto another mystery that isn’t CDO-related. A lot of babies, toddlers, and kids love Barney. He’s always happy and funny, likes to sing and dance, and is generally very entertaining to these young ones. Just a thought…Barney is a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Just look at a picture of one and you can see that he belongs to that species. He’s big, walks upright, has small forelimbs and massive hindlimbs, with a big, long tail. If you’ve seen “Jurassic Park” or “Land Before Time,” then you’d know that T-Rexes aren’t the least bit friendly or prone to break out into a song-and-dance routine to entertain you. They are mean, ferocious, meat-loving predators. The fact that Barney is a green and purple dinosaur made of cloth without the claws and sharp teeth and has a perpetual smile plastered on his face doesn’t change the fact that he is a T-Rex. Why in the world the creators of the show thought that it would be a good idea to make a children’s show character out of a carnivorous dinosaur is beyond me. Then again, the show’s world-wide popularity and success makes the point immaterial. I just hope that kids don’t get confused or saddened when they grow up and find out that Barney’s kind aren’t really so friendly after all.

5. No one bothers to respond to an invitation with RSVP.
RSVP is an acronym for the French phrase répondez s’il vous plaît, which means, “please respond.” I don’t know if it’s just people here in CDO who never bother to comply with this request in formal invitations given to them, or if it’s true of Filipinos in general. The hosts usually add an RSVP to an invitation to find out how many people will be attending the event to help them plan accordingly. Invited guests don’t bother to let the hosts know in advance, though, most just send a text message on the day of the event itself or the day before that they won’t be attending because they have a prior commitment. To think that they could have saved their hosts the time, effort, and expense of planning a party for one hundred people when only sixty people will actually show up for the event. Just like an overpass, an RSVP does have a purpose. People just don’t bother to use it.

So many things for me to wonder….

Thanks to a Thankless Job

There I was, having lunch all by my lonesome at a fast food joint, pondering about the futility of keeping a well-paying job that I dislike and stunts whatever drive or passion I once had to reach my fullest potential as a human being. I keep it anyway, because it pays the bills and allows me to afford comforts I’ve never had in my life. On the other hand, it’s slowly draining whatever sanity or confidence I had in my ability to chase my goals with focus and a determination to succeed. It seems like my financial security has become inversely proportional to the instability of my emotional development.

So I mull over the irony of my situation while munching on pork siomai that’s just a tad too generous on fat. My table is situated right beside the entrance of the restaurant, so I have no choice but to look at the security guard opening and closing the door on customers and writing notes in his big record book while I’m trying to force myself to swallow the greasy dim sum. I realized the guard must have been standing there for hours that day, doing the same mundane things while trying his best to greet the customers or thank them for coming to their establishment. I hazily recall giving him a tight little smile and a small nod when he greeted me with forced cheerfulness, “Good morning.  Welcome to ___________!”

I wondered what it would be like to have a job like that, doing repetitive tasks over and over, having to stand for hours on end, watching other people eat while you’re probably famished and craving for just a sip of water, but you can’t because, well, it’s your job to stand guard. To top it off, your job requries you to greet people who don’t even acknowledge your greeting.  They just walk right past you like you were an inanimate fixture within the building. Talk about a thankless job. I know for a fact that the pay and the benefits are abysmal. I decided to count how many people would actually respond to the guard’s welcome and farewell greetings. My heart sank as I reached ten, without a single customer showing any response to the guard, much less looking his way. I stopped counting, discouraged by the people’s indifference, but the entire time I sat there, there wasn’t a single person who returned the guard’s courtesy.

It made me wonder why people are so apathetic. I know that guards and service staff are usually instructed to greet and smile at customers, but still, I can’t help feeling dismayed that not a lot of people bother to acknowledge them. I mean, how would you feel if you were in their shoes, with people ignoring you, only caring that you give them what they want—and fast? Where is the compassion in that? Maybe customers don’t bother to return those greetings because they’re in a hurry, or they’ve got too much on their minds, or it’s being spoken in a foreign tongue(considering that English is just a second language in the Philippines, a country with many diverse dialects)? I really don’t get it. Filipinos pride themselves for their hospitality and courtesy to strangers, but it seems that we can’t even be kind to our own countrymen nowadays. I don’t know if it’s the price we have to pay for an increasingly urbanized society. We’re beginning to lose all our traditions and old values as we’re beginning to become more guarded and wary of dealing with people we hardly know in public.

As I gather my things, preparing to leave the restaurant, I vow to at least show even just a tiny glimpse of humanity to the guard. As he opens the door and says, “Thank you for coming to _________. Please come again!” I look him in the eye and reply, “Thank you.” I figured the least I could do for him was to show him that it does matter that he does his job well, and there are people out there who are grateful that he actually does it to the best of his ability, day in and day out. I thought it was amazing that people like him put up with these menial jobs, doing their duties to the best of their abilities just so they could get paid the minimum wage, some even less than that. They don’t have the luxury of complaining or waxing philosophical over finding meaning in a job they despise. They work because their very existence depends on it. They are overworked and underpaid, yet they come to work everyday with renewed energy, just so they could procure basic necessities for themselves and their families.

It saddens me to think of how I earn much more than these people do, and yet I wander aimlessly in my job without direction, passion, or ambition. I constantly whine about how boring and routine my job is, yet I don’t have to stand for hours or endure people’s apathy while I’m at work like they do. I thanked the guard, not just for his courtesy, but for showing me what it actually means to “earn a living” and to take pride in one’s work.

Shoegazing Eraserheads

Get this. The Eraserheads is classified as a shoegazing band in Wikipedia. For those who grew up listening to them in the ’90s and who actually have an idea what “shoegaze” is, you’d have no problem wrapping your mind around that.

The thing is, I grew up listening to them in the ’90s, but I hadn’t the slightest clue what “shoegaze” meant. The only labels I’ve ever heard pinned on the E-heads were “alternative” and “OPM” in all the years that I’ve been following them. I’ve read the term “shoegaze” in music magazines, but I had no idea what it sounded like, because they were used to describe obscure bands unheard of and unknown to me. I’ve always wondered what it meant or who those shoegazing bands were, but I never got the chance to do any research on the topic when I was younger.

So, fast forward to the year 2010…when I did a few net searches, I found that “shoegaze” referred to a movement in rock music in the mid-’80s to early ’90s in London, particularly in the Thames Valley. It came after post-punk and was said to have been influenced by bands like the Velvet Underground, Cocteau Twins, The Cure and many others. It referred to a genre of rock music distinguished by a style referred to as a “wall of sound”, which was achieved by shifting and manipulating the guitar pedals, the layering of guitar sounds and backing instruments, the use of vocals as an instrument to blend in with the sound, and the use of distortion and droning guitar effects.

The term “shoegazing” was supposedly coined by either NME or Melody Maker, both British magazines, as the bands who played this type of music would play their instruments standing still, seemingly lost in the music, and gazing down at their shoes–mainly because they had to focus on their guitar pedals so they could produce the desired effects or sounds. This was also a jab at their “under-performance,” since they were relatively staid and still onstage, compared to other bands who would put on a “performance” while playing–like running or dancing around the stage, or what-have-you.

Now that I think about it, almost two decades after I first heard the Eraserheads, I realize that they WERE sort of shoegazers. They had songs with that “wall of sound” effect, songs that kind of sounded dreamy, fuzzy, and ethereal. Even their performances onstage were kind of shoegaze, because the three times I’ve been to their concerts, or whenever I see them on TV, they don’t even make an effort to “perform.” They–Ely, Marcus, and Buddy– just stand and play their guitars, without really moving much onstage. I think I can say they probably look down at their shoes or their guitars whenever they’re playing.

By definition then, both as to performance and their music, they fit the shoegaze bill. I don’t really want to pigeonhole or lump them into just one category, because I know for a fact that their songs are varied–hey, they even ventured into electronica and drum and bass in their later albums, “Natin 99” and “Carbon Stereoxide.” It’s just that I was really taken aback by my discovery of that Wiki article. I thought, “What? The E-heads are shoegazers? How did I not know this? And I’ve been listening to them since 1993!”

Actually, I am inept at classifying subgenres of rock music. I can identify a few of them, but the rest is just confusing to me. I only have an idea of how bands are classified by the media based on what I read about them or watch on music channels. I don’t really care much about it, anyway, because all I know is I LOVE rock music. I don’t know which subgenres all these bands I like fall into. I don’t bother to know, and I don’t really care, as long as I like their music. That’s all that matters to me.

At least there’s one other subgenre added to my very sparse rock vocabulary. If someone asked me what kind of music the E-heads played, I’d say with a VERY smug look on my face, “Well, I’d say they tend to play alternative, shoegaze,some reggae-flavored songs in their earlier albums, with a smattering of electronica and drum and bass in their later works.” Yeeeaaahh! Then I’d sound like some hoity-toity music connoisseur that you’d love to smack upside the head but you can’t, ’cause I know more fancy words than you do. *Insert evil laugh and eye twitch here.* Anyway….

As an aside, I was wondering who wrote that Wiki article, or how the E-heads got on that list, because I never thought they were popular enough globally to be even included in the Wiki “List of Shoegazing Musicians“. I’m not kidding, there is such a list. Wiki, however, clarifies that these musicians “play in the shoegazing style”. I was thinking that only Western bands would be on the list, so I was really surprised to see them on it, together with the Smashing Pumpkins, The Verve (early work), Boo Radleys and Explosions in the Sky. They were the only bands I knew. I heard of the others, like My Bloody Valentine, Lush, and Silversun Pickups. The rest were unknown to me. Who knows, maybe the list included bands from countries aside from the US or UK. I didn’t bother finding out where all those other bands were from.

For what it’s worth, I just feel kind of elated that one of my favorite bands of all time–Pinoy or otherwise–actually made it to a list posted on a website accessed by millions (or probably billions?) of people all over the world. Not that their claim to fame is that of being labeled as a shoegaze band. There’s so much more to them than that. Their music spanned two decades, crossed the Philippine islands, and woke up a nation of Pinoy youths to form their own bands and make their own music. It’s just that the fact that they made it on the shoegazer list probably says that their music is relevant and important enough to be recognized and included in it. As a longtime E-heads fan, it just makes me feel proud of my boys.

What I’ve learned from all this rambling is that it isn’t necessary for a fan to know which category of music an artist belongs to in order to enjoy the music or support a band. I’ve done it for nearly two decades…who cares about labels? As long as you feel the music in your heart and it becomes a part of your life, that’s what counts, because that’s what music is for–it is a medium that is meant to evoke feelings, ideas, inspiration, and memories when you are immersed in it. I’m blabbering like a fool. I might as well dig into my music archives and have an E-heads music marathon. It never fails to transport me back to the happy, carefree days when i still wore sneakers and not high heels — even if it’s only in my mind.

Piano Passion

I was looking at piano tutorials and piano covers of popular songs earlier today on YouTube. It brought back memories of my piano lessons when I was a teenager, and somehow uncovered my latent desire to play again. It made me regret giving up those lessons. The fact is, I slacked off on my piano practices by the third year of my lessons. I was even slated to play at our school’s annual recital, but I decided to back out. I now realize it was an opportunity missed and unnecessarily wasted. I feel like banging my head on some piano keys right now.

Looking back, my reasons for missing it were really lame–for one, I felt like slacking off because my sister wasn’t playing on the recital because she’d already went off to college. We played at the recital two years in a row. We’d take turns practicing our pieces on our electronic keyboard at home because we didn’t have a piano. Without her around to provide competition, it didn’t seem challenging to me anymore. I got bored and dallied instead in unproductive pursuits.

Lame Reason Number Two was the fact that I was beginning to get frustrayed with my small hands, which equates to shorter fingers. I was envious of my other piano-playing friends with what I call “pianist hands”–long graceful fingers and all. They could jump between keys and play chords like it was a piece of cake, while I had difficulty achieving those feats owing to my shorter fingers. I had to practice longer just to get my piece right. The pieces I had to play for my lessons became increasingly difficult, and my frustration at practicing for hours without significant improvement made me just throw in the towel and declare my surrender.

Eventually, exhaustion and frustration won out over my desire to play at the recital or to further my lessons. I slowly began to practice playing less, and when college became my main pre-occupation, I stopped playing entirely. In the end, our keyboard was returned to its box and stored away.

I realized that if I had persevered with my piano lessons, I could have been playing beautifully by now. Watching the pianists on those YouTube videos made me wish I could play like them, with fingers pounding the ebony and ivory keys and flying through the keyboard to make beautiful music that could stir the listener’s emotions.

Just then, a thought occurred to me. These people persevered at learning how to play the piano because of one thing–passion. They had passion for playing the instrument. That is one thing that no one can take away from them, and drives them to push harder and to go further in becoming good at it. To me, their passion is a wonderful thing and it makes me envious.

It makes me wonder, what does it mean to have passion? What does it mean to be passionate about achieving or perfecting something? Is it an inner impetus that just drives a person blindly to pursue the object of his passion regardless of the obstacles that stand in his way? Let me make it clear that when I say “object of passion,” I’m not referring to a person who is the subject of romantic love. I’m talking about a goal, an achievement, a skill, or a state of being that one desires to possess.

More questions plague my thoughts. When you’re passionate about something, do you make a conscious choice everytime you do something in furtherance of that passion, or are you just compelled by a strong and irresistible force inside you to do it? Do you feel like you can’t help it and you just have to do it because it’s part of your nature to be that way? If this were the case, then I REALLY am green with envy for people with this sort of “passion.” They don’t even have to try because it’s like they’re on autopilot.

It makes me wonder, too, if having a passion for something could be a little like having a committed romantic relationship. When you’re in it, there are times when you just hate your partner and you wonder what you ever saw in him in the first place. There are times you get turned off with them or discouraged to stay in the relationship. You could, however, make a conscious effort to choose to uphold your commitment to that person every single day in the little things that you do. It could be as simple as folding up his laundry like you always do, even if at that moment you’re so angry with that person that you feel like flinging his clothes out on the street. In other words, loving someone is a conscious choice that you make all the time, and it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with warm, fuzzy feelings or soaring emotions.

Is it the same with having a passion? Does it also involve making choices each day to “stay passionate,” not just out of desire but out of your own will? In a relationship, your feelings for a person may come and go and resurface yet again, but the thing that makes you stay in that relationship is your own decision to make it work. I wonder if it’s the same for a passion. Maybe your choices play an important role in it, too. You may have a desire to do or achieve something, but there will be times when you’d get frustrated or discouraged to continue. You could have so many passions–playing an instrument or a sport, collecting stuff, painting, supporting a cause, etc.–and pursue them all if you want. I think the only ones that will last, though, are the ones you decide to keep and invest with your time, effort, and resources. The same thing goes for relationships.

Writing my thoughts down and pursuing this train of thought has led me to the conclusion that being passionate about something does involve making conscious choices. Just as I felt like I must write this personal essay because of a driving force that made me want to let these thoughts out of my head, I also decided to finish it even if it’s almost 1 a.m. while I’m writing this and I’m fighting off drowsiness and physical exhaustion all at the same time. To top it off, I have to get up early for work in the morning. I’m passionate about finishing this, though, so I chose to set all these distractions and considerations aside and just to write my thoughts down.

Now that I’ve somehow found the answers to my own questions, I can finally get my much-needed sleep. As for me playing the piano again, it’s a matter for me to decide in the morning when I wake up. After all, each day holds many opportunities for me to make choices, including a shot at pursuing my passion.

It’s Monday morning, the beginning of another gruelling week at work (or not). You rush to get to work on time so you can attend the all-important flag ceremony.

As you drive to work, it seems like the more you drive in haste, the more motorcycle riders try to cross your path without even the slightest hint of a signal to indicate that they’re about to make a stupid death-defying antic by cutting in front of you. You nearly have a heart attack…green uniforms of traffic enforcers flash before your very eyes as you hit the brake on reflex, and you successfully manage to avoid running down the smug motorcycle driver–who’s riding without a helmet, by the way. Why they let these uncivilized cavemen roam the urban streets freely without any protective gear is beyond your comprehension…or why they are even allowed to drive despite their ignorance of basic traffic rules, for that matter. Just because they ride two-wheeled vehicles and not four wheels doesn’t mean that they’re excused from observing what other motorists on four-wheeled vehicles have to follow. This is the “City of Golden Friendship” in the Philippine Islands, where the newly elected mayor just turns a blind eye on the ever-increasing traffic problems because, he says, there’s nothing he can do about its existence because, well, it’s just there.

So, the only thing you can do is to mutter curses under your breath to prevent a vein in your head from popping. You just have to let it out. Driving in the urban jungle on a hectic Monday morning can just about make you blow your lid off. If you want to avoid developing a bad case of road rage, just let it all out in the privacy of your own vehicle and forget about it…because there’s another intersection looming ahead of you and more motorcycle fiends just raring to cut in front of you. It’s a vicious cycle–and even more vicious motorcycles roaming the city streets.

As you finally pull into your office parking lot after surviving the hazards of the city streets, you heave a sigh of relief. You arrive five minutes early for work, actually. Then, a minute before the flag ceremony starts, you get a text message with some news that’s a tad unpleasant, and you feel the anxiety tying itself again into a knot in your stomach, just when it had come undone earlier when you victoriously came in to work early. Well, it’s just morning, and it’s only Monday. It’s going to be a long week ahead, and it’s looking like it’s not going to be any different from the long drive you just took from your home to your workplace. There will be surprises, much like crazy motorcycle riders on the road, before you get to the end of the week. You WILL get there, though. Eventually. So, just mutter some curses under your breath if you must, and keep on going.