The Prodigal Son Returns

The day started with me walking up Buendia Avenue on a nippy Saturday morning, on my way to a rendezvous point where Arniel, an old friend whom I haven’t seen for about a decade, give or take a few, is going to give me a ride down memory lane.

The blasted dude didn’t age one bit! Still the tidy, neat guy he was when we were getting shitfaced drunk back in the day (well I was always shitfaced drunk back then, he was seldom inebriated, methinks). He arrived and we gassed up, he did some work stuff for a couple of minutes and we were off.

We went to see the boys back home, home being Paete, Laguna, where we grew up.

The Bulldogs Club, as we’re famous, or infamous for, depends on who you’re talking to, was a bunch of guys growing up in Paete, painting souvenir bulldog pen heads, and everything started from there. We had a basketball team that became one of the team to beat at our local basketball tournaments (yes we have a pennant!) which came slow and hard, as we were wet behind the ears and was only in it for the heck of it. Our early team names, as Ka Emer reminded me, was Loafers, then became Youngsters, back then already giving the opposing team a hard time, and the official Bulldogs Team that won a championship, if I recall correctly. Basketball games at smalltowns are really an event worth cleaning and brushing your flipflops clean and be seen among the fans shouting bloody murder when a referee failed to call a foul.

Good times!

It’s not just being a basketball team, I can hardly dribble, but the rest of the guys were good at it. We also dabbled in music. Everyone in our crew can sing, but it was me who did most of the vocal duties when we decided to learn our chops seriously. Ambo on guitar, Tavern on drums, Me on bass and vocals, and most anyone who would jam with us, with the few song list we can play decently. Most of the time we were playing, we were also drinking, as most boys in our age then are wont to do. There was also that part of long forgotten memories, when, before we started palying in a band, we would pool up our money buy some pasta, set-up a place with a few strobes and colorful lights, taking turns at the tape player and turntable and viola! The party is on! To make sure all the invited girls can eat what measly food and drinks we had to offer, we made sure everyone has taken their share before eating ourselves, maybe even waiting for some leftovers.

Bulldogs Club Collage

Photos: Nelia De Luna, Arniel cajumban, Mahalia dalay, Rey Cajipe

Music has always been a part of the Bulldogs Club. And yesterday, I sang my heart out, because I haven’t anything to contribute financially, I just added some entertainment with my singing, even though it’s really hard to say the words when I’ve got less teeth now as I did back then. Still, yesterday was when I feel I could fuck up a song and the guys wouldn’t mind. But I think I did pretty well, considering I had to follow a more visceral singer in the person of Ramil. Continue reading

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It’s The Little Things

Last night I hardly slept. I should have, you know, snored halfway to valhalla, if we  factor in the copious amounts of brandy I had in my system (I came from regular  hangout with friends from way back and needless to say, alcohol and food is a  staple in those parts). Not that I am complaining, I didn’t spend anything. And  these friends know that. These are the same friends that held my hand when I was  about to break from the endless deluge of rejected job applications and failed  business deals. It’s these small handshakes, the little pat on the back that assures  me they have my back. Even a brother whom I bothered too often about my  financial predicaments suddenly sent help, and in the most timely manner,  because I am really going for the loanshark at this time, which my Mayor Street
friends discouraged.

So, short bursts of sleep, and series of graphic books in the works, a life saving  rescue by my brother, and the unflinching loyalty of friends, what else is there to  be thankful for?

It’s the little things.

  • Those free Uni Ball Eye pens that went with my purchase of three felt-tip pens at National Bookstore. I was looking for drawing ink but bought a 03, 06 and 08 Uni Pen and didn’t realize till I was home that the freebies were put in my bag.
  • Books and audiobooks.
  • Pares and Mami carts that provide delicious sustenance for the thrift. The chili and fried garlic added liberally makes it better.
  • Gigabytes of data riding tiny USB flashdrives. The 80s saw a Chess Grandmaster square off with Big Blue, a machine that was powered by 1Gb of data that was stored in something as big as a house. Nowadays you could carry the data you need 32 times over on a thumb drive.
  • Coffee. No buts about it.
  • Street corner laundry service. Even if I try to do my ow washing, sometimes it’s better to have them done, just because I have nowhere to hang the laundry to dry in my current inhabited space.
  • Mp3. Digital music. Yes, I long to hear music the way it should be heard, on vinyl, on a phonograph, with the amp and speakers tuned through an extensive equalizer set up and played loud. But I need a home to do that, and in this city living, Mp3 is my saviour. I could write and draw continuously with my favorites playing in the background.
  • Mall comfort rooms. Don’t ask.
  • Analog mobile phones. Smirk at the idea, but the way I see people griping about battery life and lugging extra powerbanks just so they can browse continuously, I go for the bar phone that lasts a week with a single charge. And don’t get me started about android updates, nor iPhone upgrades.
  • Twitter. And no, not for reasons most people think.
  • Internet connection. However shitty the service is, still something to be thankful about.
  • Blogging. Not for fame, nor profit, but for my sanity.
  • Wix!
  • Technology in general. Most people take this for granted but growing up with less, access to modern technology is still a joy to behold.
  • Movies. In data format. I could marathon The Hobbit and Lord of The Rings as often as I want. And all the films I want to seeover and over.
  • My landlady. Her kind heart let me stay even if I can hardly pay the rent. She understands, bless her.

And we could go on and on about the little things that make life worth going through each day, but go list your own.

Trudge

After a while, I get to thinking all that has come to pass. I get this way when I walk. A sort of locomotive thought unable to stop once the resolve to just take the stride and the feet kept switching places before one another, towards any destination I have in mind.

  • This or maybe I just don’t have enough money for a bus fare. Which work both ways since at these times I do a lot of pondering.

Like turning your head from whence you came but moving forward:

The love and affection, freely given,

  • This often starts then whole thought engine revving.

The songs sung with wanton sincerity,

The capturing of life and ideas into detailed ink depictions on paper,

  • Of course I have decided on this long ago but took some time taking off, what, with all the financial inadequacies that has befallen my so-called artistic career.

The hurt sustained by those we love,

The pain we gained from those we loved,

  • Truth is, up until now I still think I was adopted, even with all the evident hereditary characteristics present in me as by my siblings, still I feel very different from my brothers. I even feel that I share a kind of Thor-Loki relationship with one, but I’m not sure which one- the brute or the prankster.

The trust professed and destroyed,

All the trappings of a feeling human whom we pictured ourselves to be, those whose beliefs in a higher power, whom we are supposed to follow without questions, but whose wrath may soon come upon us in fiery brimstone and searing horror. The sainthood our forbears tried to instill on our childish minds, feeble thoughts of tne afterlife may be a reward for our suffering…

  • And the idea of worshipping a wrathful, vengeful godhead is absurd. If that is true, then by no means the devil is much more agreeable.

Yet…

We suffer for our passion, we suffer for our art. Continue reading