Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

hippie or skinhead?

Posted on April 17, 2006 by jimparedes

Had a great time at Lane Cove National Park last Easter Sunday. We spent it with some relatives and friends. Ananda especially had a blast running around. There’s so much Australia has to offer when it comes to enjoying the great outdoors. They have lakes, beaches, hills, mountains and anyone who enjoys the open air will really find many places to his liking. I have been to Teregal, Kiyama, and a few other places and I can’t wait to bring my family there. One of these days, perhaps.

What I find peculiar though is the weather. Under the autumn sun, one can feel hot but when you go to the shade, you feel the cold creeping in. I still have to get used to that.

Lydia, Mio and I have gotten our anti-flu shots. At least we are ready for the winter season.

Nino, Ala’s boyfriend arrived a few days ago from Manila, and that same evening, they drove with friends to Byron Bay, some 10 hours away by car, to watch a blues festival. Just last week, the Stones performed in Sydney for 48,000 thousand people. If I had known about it, I would have gone. Last night, ACDC performed as the finale number of a 3-day rock festival. By the 28th of the month, Larry Carlton, a jazz guitarist is performing in a small venue in Sydney. I feel like taking Mio to watch. That should be fun.

It’s too bad U2 canceled their gig here since Bono’s mom has fallen ill and so he took a break from touring to be with her. Looking forward to other gigs coming this way. It seems that Sydney has a lot to offer also for concert goers.

On the eve of Easter, we went to mass at the Church of the Holy Rosary and it was a looong one. Manila has long masses too during Easter but I can’t seem to recall them being this long. Apparently, a lot of things go on during Easter ceremonies here including the baptism and confirmation of new converts. They also had too many songs and readings that night. All in all, the mass was close to three hours. It was also a cold night. Mio and I were freezing as we walked back to the car while Lydia was kept warm with her ‘hot flashes’ (which I call ‘power surges’. Ha ha!). The chill, the stars, the company and the fact that it was our first Easter mass here made it all quite memorable. All those things aside, how can it not be? For years and years, Easter mass for us who lived in the Philippines had always been a sweltering and humid summer affair. The contrast did not escape us as we groaned at the prospect of a ‘tank top’ Christmas which is Oz’s hottest time of the year. This IS the land down under after all.

I just read an interview I did before I left Manila and I was actually jolted by what was written. I seem like a different person now compared to when I gave it. At this moment, I feel so distant about the feelings I had expressed in the interview—the tiredness with the political situation, the inertia that seemed to plague life back home and the pessimism. I just feel so different now. I feel awakened, revived, energetic and on learning mode. As I suspected would happen, I already am meeting new aspects of myself which were not challenged enough to express themselves back home. Everyday, I face uncertainties, even fears and meet them head on–new ways of doing things, new information, new places to drive to, new situations, etc.. And knowing them, befriending them until I can tame and make them part of my new but ever growing comfort zone is what I try to do. And I feel such a sense of bigness each time I do it. Truly, the unknown is just another ‘me’ I haven’t met! I am creatively expanding, growing while settling in this part of the world and imprinting myself on it!

In my case, whoever said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks was not talking about age for sure. I am over half a century old but still crazy enough to jump into this adventure. You are only old when you don’t want to learn anymore.

It’s time for a haircut and I am at this point where I can’t decide if I want to grow my hair as I used to sport it in the 70s, or shave my head completely. Hey, after all, I’m in a new place and I can be whoever I want to be—a hippie or skinhead. Mio wants me to grow my hair. (I tell you, he’s a real 70’s soul born in the wrong century!). But growing it means having to groom it and all and I don’t know if I like to go through the trouble! So maybe I should just go skinhead. Lydia’s been daring me to do this! Since my forehead keeps expanding anyway, unahan ko na kaya? But then, it may be too jarring for people who will be watching me in concert in two months. If I do, at least I may resemble Ken Wilber, my idol! Decision, decisions!

Should I go retro?

Is this my future?


47 to “hippie or skinhead?”

  1. jey says:

    a new place. a new do. i’d say that’s cool!=)

  2. wenk. says:

    skinhead! 🙂

  3. ~C4Chaos says:

    “You are only old when you don’t want to learn anymore.”

    this is so true. thanks for sharing your wonderful stories. keep ’em flowing.

    as for Mio, i’m not sure what type of genre guitar playing he likes but if he enjoys rock guitar instrumentals, i say take him to a Joe Satriani concert!

    rats! i didn’t see Australia listed on his tour!

    anyway, maybe you can still buy him Joe’s latest CD, Super Colossal! i just did it actually 😉 (or get it from iTunes)

    as for the hair. no questions asked. GO SKINHEAD! and show us some pics!



  4. kay says:


  5. Jim says:

    -c4chaos–yes, I read it in your blog. Mio LOVES Joe Sat! I will surprise him with the album one of these days.

    Now, as for the hairdo, I won’t tell you yet what I will do. I’m curiou as to how popel will vote. So far, mukhang skinhead ang nananalo. hehheh. I just don’t know what that will be like in winter!

    jey, wenk, kay–ha ha ha. Thanks for the opinion.

  6. Anonymous says:

    hi jim,

    yes the church masses are quite long here especially during Lent w/c i found a bit too much in the beginning but i am sure you will also agree the solemnity is of a different level. good to know you are well settling in. cheers. ag

  7. Malu Moraza says:

    Jim, don’t do it in winter!!!! You will very surely feel the cold. Maybe you could do it in late spring. It wil be interesting to see how you would look like kalbo.

  8. Ray says:

    Although, 70s retro is back, I think for once in your lifetime you should always go with something different. In tribute to Pugo, Tugo, and Bembol Rocco (trend setters, I guess), I’d go for it. I think there’s a site to check how good or bad you’d look. Type “hairstyle” in google. It would grow back, anyway. Hare, hare, Krishna, Krishna…

  9. mvfc says:

    hi, jim! it’s only now that i got the time to sign in for a blog acct! not until i wanted to make a comment about your proposed haircut!!! no to skinhead, no to hippie! just the way you are , please!
    since you got internet access, you can sign up for abs-cbn now! shows for just US$4.99! this is where we get most of our showbiz and political news!!! of course you have to have broadband connection. i saw an episode of little big star- 3 wks ago, boboy said hi to you sabay saying you are wtching right now- di nya alam, busy kayo palagi with all the linis,driving around, etc, etc. and wala pang tfc!
    in addition to the oz dictionary: garbage is “rubbish”, or “throw the rubbush to the bin”. no comfort room but ” ladies or gents or just toilets”.
    masanay na rin to say “hi, hw are you today?” maski sa shops, very polite ang mga sa cash register here. and “yes, please” , or “sorry or beg your pardon ” if you didnt get what they’re saying.
    ala will make the new australian idol! is she not interested in joining?or mag audition man lang? she is a very talented person with good voice!
    give it a yr or two, masanay na kayo without the katulong! though nakakamiss din. most of us in fact frm pinas shared same sentiments. just think this way, di kayo nag-iisa, ha,ha! mahirap nga lang kasi you came here, entire family at the same time. everybody will learn how to cook, magsampay, wash, etc, etc, those domestic things! natawa nga ako when i saw your girls not even have the “skill” to open a bottle! nasanay kasi na may alalay palagi!!
    sana you have chosen a suburb closer to the coast or a house close to public transport like train station for a start so you you wnt miss shops, beaches and convenience, esp for the rest of the family while the “driver” is out. near to ananda’s playgroup, etc.
    i always look forward to see new articles frm you everywk.

  10. mvfc says:

    tell mio to separate recyclables from the real rubbish !

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hi Jim,

    Could you please send me your home phone or email at home in Sydney so we can touch base.


    Regards to Lydia.

    Bea Del Rosario from Brisbane

  12. benign0 says:

    Great key phrases!

    “ever growing comfort zone”

    “You are only old when you don’t want to learn anymore”

    Back in the islands, we will always be reminded *by others* not only of how old we are but also of what we can or can’t do at a given age. It’s like there is a perpetual effort around us to put us in our place (whether this “place” be defined by age, class, or skin colour — yes, racism is worse in the Philippines than it is here in the Commonwealth).

    Here, what you achieve, and what you dream to achieve is *all up to you* and the breadth of your imagination. There are no pre-conceived notions of what you “should” be doing at age 20 or at age 60.

    Australia is indeed a refreshing place, and every day here presents in many forms so many reminders of how big a world there is out there beyond the pettiness of the issues that Pinoys back in the islands are fixated on.

    Do agree with “mvfc”. Try to explore as many Sydney suburbs as you can whilst you are still renting, and whilst you still minimal emotional investment in where you live right now. 😉

  13. Anonymous says:

    Would just like to point out that Bono’s mother passed away many years before U2 was even formed. I enjoy reading your blog. Keep it up!

  14. enigma says:

    go for the skinhead! hehe! =)
    when do you plan to have another concert back here in the Philippines? =)

  15. Jim says:

    anonymous-I still prefer masses generally in Manila, specifically at the Ateneo where the homilies are so well thought out and the singing is infinitely more joyous. It ismore solemn here, I suppose, but it is more lively back home.

    malu–good advice! I actually got the idea from Charlie, your husband who DOES look like Ken Wilber.

    ray-heh heh

    mvfc–thanks. I’m not rushing to get TFC right now. I’m enjoying NOT knowing what’s happening to people like Kris Aquino. ha ha!

    We did A LOT of research before we moved and we actually visited here a few times before migrating to get a feel of the life here. Yes, we also observed a lot of what you and other people write to be true. Thanks for the thought. We are learning by leaps and bounds and in no time, these chores won’t even be ‘chores’ anymore.

    benigno–Actually, I hear the same thing from the expat community in Manila. There, they feel liberated and quite ‘free’ compared to how they were living back home. I think it’s the notion that anyone who leaves home is more prone to discard old lifestyle templates and experiment with new ones. The anonymity, the distance from ‘home’ and all our percieved limitations about it helps, for sure. I would probably feel the same if I lived anywhere else and not just in OZ.

    There’s a saying in zen that the zen you discover in the mountaintop is the same zen you brought there. I guess migrants in general have more of the adventurous streak to start with.

    I wouldn’t say it’s ‘racism’ we experience back home. I can’t recall a time when there were ever race riots back home unlike here. We can make jokes about Chinese, Indians, gays, or kahit sino pa etc.. but we have never had real racial tensions like what happened in Cronulla.

    Everywhere, there are communities where small minds and progressives exist. It’s up to us whom we want to invite in to our lives.

    anonymous–You’re right. I knew it was some other U2′ mom who was sick but somehow, I deferred to my son’s kwento’ the other day.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Apo Jim,

    I’d say go for the blade!

    Though a constant bisita of your blog, I don’t think I’ve ever left any comments. So, this would be the first.

    Since your move, you’ve been getting a lot of unsolicited advice from everyone. Some mean well, but there are some folks who leave comments forgetting that you are well-traveled and well-read, too. You’ve been gracious enough, though, and that’s admirable.

    TEFLON nga!

    Good luck sa inyo diyan sa Australia!

    Shy Mango

  17. isay says:

    skinheád-i think you have a nice head. but i would also suggest that you do it in the spring because it’s too cold in the winter.

  18. Ate Sienna says:

    I haven’t been updated with the blogs on pansitan lately. But my mom told me about your family moving to Australia and I want to congratulate you all for a smooth move! I know it’s not that easy being away, but at least you’re all together and that’s what counts – you’re with family.

    have a nice time while away from the motherland. Life will be challenging, but I will guarantee you, it will also be interesting. Good Luck, Jim!

  19. Anonymous says:

    mr. jim, what kind of program did u use on your flash at the top of your blog? the one that is changing the color. is it adobe photoshop cs2 or another program? i hope you don’t mind. hope to hear from you. thanks!

  20. Jim says:

    anonymous–So far, skinhead rules according to this informal survey. Yes, I do get a barrage of advice everywhere. Though not all are taken, the thought behind it is appreciated. It’s coming from a good place.

    isay–You are right. will wait till after winter. baka sipunin ako. heh heh.

    ate sienna-WOW!!! I am so honored to hear from Ms. Pansitan herself. I trust married life is treating you well. You are absolutely right. Living outside the motherland is at the very least, interesting! Tuwa ako na sumulat ka.

    anonymous–I’m afraid you will have to ask my daughter ala about the program she used. I know very little about html. All I know is a little ohotoshop and how to upload a blog.

  21. benign0 says:

    Jim, yes there aren’t any race riots back in the islands. But there has been swift and committed action against all involved and general remorse and soul-searching in its aftermath.

    Compare it to institutionalised manner by which many Pinoys treat, as an example, domestic help (or any person in a ‘humble’ line of work). It is shameful to say the least but very much accepted in any case. We also routinely give foreigners preferential treatment (which is why expats might feel “liberated”). This “reverse racism” — in a way — is a worse form of racism (because we discriminate against rather than for our own ethnic community).

    I think the Chinese community might beg to differ about this perceived ‘lack of racial tensions’ in the Philippines though… Their ironic financial prosperity just happens to mitigate the ill effects of prejudice, but it is still there just the same.

    That’s not to mention the way we’ve marginalised our own minority/indigenous people — most specially the Aetas, the Ifugaos, etc. Sure Euro-Aussies did the same to the Aborigines but at least there is a *serious* effort to make ammends.

    All-in-all one needs a huge amount of luck, connections, lack-of-skin-colour, and skill at circumventing the rules to make it in the Philippines. That’s a far cry from the 1st World where, many would agree, “patas ang laban” — where even a fresh-off-the-boat migrant can earn an equal place in society simply by following the rules.

  22. Anonymous says:

    ok thanks mr. jim!

  23. mich says:


  24. Boni says:

    Hi Jim,

    I was curious about the name of your apo, and I knew that I have read about it somewhere. I brought out my copy of Paramahansa Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi” and there he explains how he derived his monastic name “Yogananda” -it means one who has attained pure bliss (ananda) through divine union (yoga). What a wonderful name! I’m sure Ananda has brought “pure bliss” to your whole family . . .

  25. Jim says:

    benigno- Yes, you are right. But you simplify. Australia is not all heaven and the Philippines is not all hell. There are good points and bad points to both. Read De quiros in INQ the past two days re the good things about living back home.

    Heaven and hell i have noticed are not places but states of mind.

    I have many Chinese friends and relatives and I notice that those that want to integrate do so with no problem. The rest who wish to remain in ‘ghetto chinatown’ are free to do so and feel they don’t belong.

    The situation about household help is for the most part sociallly beneficial to both ‘amo’ and ‘katulong’ generally. Otherwise, it would not continue. I know many families with household help who have been with them for 30 years or more. They have sent their children, nephews to school, helped them put up small businesses, etc. There are emotional bonds already. When we left Manila, our maids ‘volunteered’ to guard the house for free till we come back. We pay them pa rin. Of course they could be treated even better. Everyone everywhere can be treated better. My point is, this is the state of the art of things right now. Should we not employ them because we can’t pay them ‘just’ first world wages? There’s more to the relationship and it easily defies simplification.

    The case of the aborigines are not exactly a shining example of Aussie benevolence, ‘regrets’ notwhithstanding. Or the Pinay Aussie who was ‘deported’ to the Philippines. Aus is not a perfect society either.

    Our preferential treatment for foreigners and visitors are generally heartfelt, I believe. We give the best seat to people who visit our homes. ganoon lang yun. As an expat put it in de quiros’ column, a simple ‘ingat’ coming from a Pinoy rings more sincere than all the ‘have a good day’ he hears back home.

    The Philippines to many will always be home, as Aus is to many. I prefer to appreciate them for their uniqueness and understand their imperfections. Besides, we can’t change what we condemn.

    I consciously avoid putting down one system over another because when I do, I notice that my reason may be because I just want to feel better about where we are or our decision to migrate.

    Mich–so far, that’s where it’s going. But I will assess by spring!!

    boni–yes! Ananda means bliss, and most of the time, she lives up to her name.

  26. Kristyn says:

    huge fan since I was a kid 🙂 I was hoping to meet you sa dinner at ronald’s place kaya lang its too far from where I live and I can’t drive (yet) (plus I think my husband has a gig that night). anyhow, heard you were into photography. Just wanted to share my site 🙂 http://www.kristynmlevis.com/blog

    still tweaking it but haven’t had much time lately. drop by anytime 🙂

  27. Anonymous says:

    This is my 2-cents worth on the “katulong” topic. Let me say first that my wife and I, though we were just ordinary employees, had “katulongs” when we were living in Manila. And if ever we had to go back and live there again, I’ll probably be tempted to have “katulongs” again. As you said, this is the current state of things and anyone who is in that situation will try to adapt to it the best they can.

    An analogy would be: if I was busting and the only toilets available are very dirty and smelly, I’d probably take a deep breath, hold it in, and go and do my business anyway.

    So yes we have to accept that there’s not much that can be done about it immediately. And yes we have to acknowledge that there are families who treat their help very well (just as there are others who treat them disgracefully).

    But that should not stop us from realising that the reason that a middle-class person can have a “katulong” or two, and that a rich family can have a virtual army of “katulongs”, is because of the stinking poverty of the vast majority of Filipinos. And that this arrangement is ultimately unjust. No matter how altruistic we try to be in dealing with them, that does not erase the fact that we are “lucky” to be able to afford a katulong because there is a great number of them who are “unlucky” to be born poor and without many choices.

    (Not meaning to criticise, just trying to add some ideas to the discussion).

  28. benign0 says:

    Jim, thanks for humouring my tirade.

    Whilst I admire the fairness by which you regard how things are going in the Philippines, I do still believe that some hardcore outrage directed at the way Philippine society has conducted itself over the last couple of decades is in order.

    Definitely a society that seeing its most talented citizens leaving in droves is indeed one that is not in the best of health.

    The question is whether continuing to regard such apalling degeneration with kids’ gloves is all for the best is a relevant one.

    (all said with a smile) 😉

  29. Benjie Ordonez says:

    sir jim,

    pa-skinhead ka na! by the way, how was your first aussie photo shoot?

  30. Jim says:

    benjie–wala pa. It will be in July pa.

  31. tina says:

    Hi Jim.

    I prefer u go clean cut.. but grow a bit of goitie.. ul end up looking “cool”. =D

    just got home from dinner.. i recommend that you try to dine in hurricane in bondi beach… you’ll love it! the place aint huge but the atmophere is superb.. and of course the food.. best to book before u go there!

  32. cbs says:

    pinag-iiba nga talaga ng vantage point (o perspective) ang pananaw, parallax ata ang tawag dun. nung nasa pinas nga ako, asar na asar ako sa kanya, pagdating dito nalaan kong sa sarili ko pala ako talaga naaasar, pesteng yawa, dinamay ko pa ang bayan ko.

    and speaking of do, i-tally mo nga ako jim sa s/head voters (asiwa ako sa full spelling ng term). since michael jordan, ang pagkakalbo naging hairstyle na din. besides, it’s one way of self-discovery. who knows what all that hair is hiding!

  33. Doranne says:

    Long Hair!
    Long Hair!
    Long Hair!
    Long Hair!
    Long Hair!

    THATS 5 VOTES! 🙂

  34. Roy says:

    Jim :

    Long hair na lang…. i heard kasi dadating Juan Dela Cruz Band in Sydney sometime in august….pahaba ka buhok para maka jam ka….. i heard ko sa Meralco concert CD ninyo….hippie ka naman….

  35. Jim says:

    tina–will do one of these days. Good tip. Thanks.

    cbs–no time no visit ka. As usual, your remarks though short are always insightful.

    Doranne–always great to hear from you, my favorite student!! Saw your bl;og and been reading about your travels. Good luck and stay crazy.

    roy–heh heh! Maaaaan! Them were the days!

  36. ghee says:

    skinhead na lang po kaya?para new look talaga!! =)

  37. THEA says:

    i love your posts. very much 🙂 might sound cliche already, but ive been a fan since i was a little kid. and im 18 now 🙂 i used to tell everyone that buboy was my uncle cuz he looks very much like him. hahaha 🙂 well, im glad australia’s treating you good 🙂 God bless 🙂

  38. Clem says:

    Just talked to you after church with my family… Welcome to the neighborhood! and please dont hesitate to call me at 0414559391 or email me at jvcpt2000@gmail.com.

    Perhaps I can invite you for a drink at the local pub.

  39. Maria says:

    Hi Jim,

    Skinhead..para may Filipino version ni Ken Wilber. I’m reading “History of Everything” and while looking at his face on the cover, tingin ko mas pogi pa nga kayo..Have a good week!

  40. mygaseous says:

    Hey Mr. Jim,

    I read from one of your entries that you are able to ship your things from the Philippines to Aussie – the package type that took 1 month. Can you give me specific details (who did you contact, how much, etc.) Have plans of bringing with me so many stuffs, and now I’m thinking if it will be better to do what you did na lang.

    Thank you so much in advance! =)

  41. Grace says:

    We also have that loooong mass on the eve of Easter here in the Philippines. It’s called Easter Vigil and it’s really meant to be that long. But I think that one’s practically considered and Easter Mass in itself so you don’t have to hear mass the following day if you attend that.

  42. Jim says:

    ghee, theea, clem–thanks.

    maria–I hope you’re enjoying reading KW. That’s the first book I read too.

    mygaseous–we used Crown Relocators to move our stuff. To put it as simply as I can, they are the best. None of our stuff was broken and we knew where it was every step of the way. It was also hassle-free.

    grace–OK na rin since it’s only once a year.

  43. Anonymous says:

    skinhead, then hippie…

    this is not related but take a browse


  44. BabyPink says:


    pero okay lang din should you decide to go for skinhead, pareho naman pong babagay sa inyo eh.:)

  45. Philip Booth says:

    Did you end up going to see Larry Coryell?

    If so, who was he playing with, and what kind of music did he do — straighahead jazz, or his fusion bag?

    Coryell not so long ago moved to my state, Florida, to the east coast, in Vero Beach. I think he decided that he could just as easily do his tours based there, where there’s sunshine all year round, etc., than from the Northeast.

    I had the great fortune of playing a trio gig with Larry, probably 10 years ago, in Tampa (I play bass). We had a short rehearsal, and then, bam, we just did the show.

    I got the gig because I was playing in the house band at that time, and Larry wanted to just use a couple of us as his back-up, rather than bringing in any of his regular, well-known collaborators.

  46. Jim says:

    Philip booth– Wow! you played with THE MAN!! Must be a miletsone in your musical career.

    It wasn’t Larry Coryel but Larry Carlton which I was going to watch but as it turned out, someone gave me the wrong info! He wasn’t even in Aus.


  47. Kat O+ says:

    Jim, just your luck to attend an Easter Vigil! But it could’ve been worse. I think in the Vatican it goes from sunset to dawn. The music does play a HUGE difference, though.

    Speaking of music, you’ve probably heard it of it already but in case you haven’t, you might be interested in checking out some of the events at Cafe Carnivale, which features musicians of non-English speaking backgrounds.

    BTW, I vote for hippie – just in time for winter!

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