Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

two talks and a gig

Posted on July 31, 2005 by jimparedes

Last Monday, I talked to parents of Xavier School about my own experiences at parenting. We covered a lot of ground, from family rituals, to learning how to listen, sex matters, and modeling responsible adulthood to our kids. I was surprised at the turnout of people. We had close to a full house. But what surprised me even more was the length of my talk which I thought would last about an hour including Q and A. As it turned out, the whole affair lasted close to three hours. I had a great time. I felt very connected to my audience who shared the metaphor I made about parenting today. I said it was like driving without a rear view mirror. It was going into uncharted territory into a world very different from how our parents raised us.

There were two songs I shared with them which had a special meaning to my family. One of them was a song I had written and given to Erica when she turned 18. After I played it, many of the parents approached me and asked where they could get the song. You can get it from an album called Jim Paredes: Ako Lang. It’s the only recording I did without my two friends Danny and Boboy. For those who requested for the lyrics, here it is:

My little known solo album!


Don’t take my word or anyone else’s
What’s right for me may not be right for you
I have my own dreams
I live my own story
And someday soon you’ll be living yours too

Enjoy your own joys
Gain from your own pain
Dream your own dreams
Dance to your own song

It’s the only way to go
It’s the only road you’ll ever know

Live your own life
Feel it so you know it’s real
Hold on to your own truth
Live life without any fear
Decide your own fate
With bated breath the world awaits
Make your own mark
All you gotta do is start

There’s no two people in this world who’ve got the same point of view
There’s no one else who’s gonna live your life better than you

Cry your own tears
Believe in your own cause
Don’t be afraid if sometimes you feel lost

It’s the only way to go
It’s the only way you’ll ever know


Everything you need is inside of you
You’re the fire and breath of your own soul


-Jim Paredes 1997
Click here to listen.

Last night, I did my first real concert with APO since my operation. I was very nervous because the truth is, my voice has not returned to normal. My lower notes are OK and I have a passable falsetto, but my middle register is not there yet. And I run out of breath so easily. During rehearsals last Thursday, we drew up a repertoire of easy songs to sing, and thought of killer spiels to make up for what we could not deliver in songs.

To my great surprise last night, the three of us worked like a great team despite my ‘handicap’. Anytime my voice gave way, I felt Boboy or Danny come to the rescue. It was so reassuring to be with people who know me and were aware of the pitfalls that I could fall into with every song. We bowed from the stage after an hour and thirty minutes to an audience applauding loudly, screaming for more and refusing to stand up from their seats till we turned on the house lights to signify it was really over.

I felt good that I was able to do this despite my great fear of making a fool of myself. It was a long drive from Cabanatuan after the show but I felt aglow that I was really recovering.

Everyday since the operation, I wake up and listen to my body and notice that I am able to recover some capacity or function that took a back seat after the operation. It could be greater stamina, or my vocal chords hitting a note higher than the day before, or it could be less pain on my scar. Truly, what does not kill you will make you stronger! Soon, I will be back with a vengeance on stage!

Joey Ayala

Today, I had fun being a panelist with Ryan Cayabyab and Joey Ayala in a composers forum held at Balay Kalinaw in UP. We talked about our experiences as composers, and answered the questions raised by the very attentive and appreciative audience. One of the really outstanding questions asked was whether there was a real advantage in being able to write in Pilipino. All of us answered in the affirmative. I explained that I get a kick knowing that someone, say, from Batangas and someone else from another part of the Philippines such as Iloilo could enjoy a Tagalog song I wrote. I feel that somehow, I am an instrument in nation building because a song of mine makes it possible for them to have a shared experience. I also emphasized that it was important for us to try to break into the world music scene not as extensions of any other culture but ours. And only writing in Pilipino or our own dialects can do that. Just as the Chinese, Brazillians, the Japanese and the others had done it, we can only do it by simply being ourselves!

Ryan Cayabyab

Ryan pointed out that no matter how well we THINK we can write or sing in English, we will not be able to capture the nuances and inflections of the use of English the way the Brits and the Americans do it. We will always be an ‘OTHER’, despite how seamlessly we think we do it. Just watch MTV and see Indonesians, Indians or Malaysians trying it. They probably, in their eyes, feel that they are seamlessly integrated into the LA music scene, but we know that it’s not really so. Masyadong ‘feeling’, as we say. It probably is the same way with us from someone else’s point of view. In the end, we can only be,.. no.. we MUST be ourselves if the world is to listen to us and take us seriously! This is OPM’s challenge.

To thine self be true, ika nga!

24 to “two talks and a gig”

  1. BabyPink says:

    wow! the last paragraph, we were just discussing this in our class (colloquium: contemporary issues and problems in language and literature in the philippine setting). how nice the timing of your entry is!:)

    and, you were in balay kalinaw po? sayang, i didn’t know about it. i like mr. cayabyab and joey ayala din po eh.

    ang saya, you have a solo album po pala. i’ll try to look for that one.:) pa-timbre po when the APO has a concert or kahit gig sa tabi-tabi (metro manila), ha?:)

  2. DarkBlak says:

    ang ganda ng lyrics… sana mapakinggang ko sya… Sir Jim hingin ko po sana permission nyo para ma ipost ko yung song sa blog ko? salamt po 🙂

  3. jey says:

    congratulations on your solo album!:)

    and this particular song is simple, yet, so meaningful.

  4. Jim says:

    Hi babypink. That’s the topic I had just discussed in my class last week.

    darkblak–I will try to find a way to put music on my blog so it can be played. I hope I am successful.

    jey–this solo album was released 1998 yata. it was something I wanted to do–write non-commercial songs which I personally made and liked. It was fun. I feel like doing another one again, actually. Once in a while, masarap gumawa without considering such things as market, radio play and all that. For the love lang…

  5. balikbayan_box says:

    good to read your recovering well.

    performing is so much better knowing you are with your good friends like boboy and danny.

    all the best for your full recovery, neyburhud!

  6. DarkBlak says:

    nyay.. mali pala yung pagkakasabi ko… yung lyrics po pala… hingi po ako ng permission para ma ipost yung lyrics sa blog ko.

  7. Hazel says:

    i wish i was able to go to that forum at bahay kalinaw.. AND at that talk you did at Xavier (but i’m guessing that for parents of Xavier students… Though i’m a young mom as your daughter Erica (we’re probly same age and gave birth a month apart), i want to learn a lot about parenting from as much resources as possible.

  8. isay says:

    i enjoyed your post today. i can imagine the smile on your face. the lyrics are great, i’ll be looking forward to hear music in your site….

  9. ting-aling says:

    I love the parenting part. I also liked your analogy of “driving without any side or rear view mirrors.” It’s a tough job to be parents and we can only do so much.

    ‘glad to know you’re back on the saddle again.

  10. gabriela says:

    This brings to the forefront the issue that many Filipino artists/musicians who come to the U.S. to do concerts seem oblivious to. It’s a travesty and a great diservice to FilAms for the likes of Pops, Piolo, etc. to do concerts and try to immitate Whitney Houston or Josh Groban, etc. If we want to watch Josh Groban, etc. — WE will see them live –and not some Pinoy wannabe. Why is that they think we are impressed by them doing immitations when they have real talents, and we crave OPM songs to quench our homesickness !!

    We are the best immitators to a fault that we lose our own identity and usurp our own talents.

    Being true to thine self IS the secret of APO’s longevity that your songs will remain classic. These songs convey our own true sentiments thus true to our own identity.

    I tip our hats off to you, guys.
    Bow po talaga ako.

  11. Jim says:

    balikbayan box–Yup. am feeling better everyday. Salamat!

    darkblak–go ahead and put it on your blog if you wish.

    Hazel–I’m sure you would have enjoyed the talk. Next time I do that, I will let you know.

    isay–am having a problem putting the music. Hope to figure it out soon.

    tingaling–yes, the important thing is we do our best, and to come from love.

    Gabriela–my thoughts exactly!

  12. spongemom says:

    i like the lyrics of your song, i want to show it to my daughter when she grows up. i am a parent too and i think this is the toughest job in the world. those parenting books aren’t really that realistic.

    don’t worry mang jim your voice will be back to normal soon.just don’t overdo it!

  13. Anonymous says:

    @ Maestro’s comment; I agree. Indeed, a real challenge for the new breed of musicians.


  14. ~C4Chaos says:

    great post. glad that you did well considering your recent surgery. hataw!!!

    i agree with Mr. Cayabyab to some extent. i think part of the problem is not the language but how composers/singers put context and expression to it. our culture influences the performance, tone, and other subtle nuances. but done right, i think it can work as an advantage rather a disadvantage.

    Francis Magalona and Eraserheads are two examples i can think of. they can do Filipino and English songs real well, and put their own spin to it. that’s why i’ve always love bands and singing groups such as APO who write, compose, and perform their own music. mas merong identity, English, or otherwise.

  15. ang says:

    yes! i’m finally back from san diego! here to greet you once again!

    you reminded me about your album that has been MIA for about a couple of years now! i think i should buy it CD format when i go to the Philippines in June =O.

    hopefully i’ll be able to catch an APO show when i’m down there, if i get accepted there for college!

    hope you’re recovering a little more as each day passes by! =D

  16. Vanessa says:

    I love the lyrics! Your children are so lucky to have you as a parent. As a parent myself to a very determined, stubborn yet sweet & passionate 10 year old boy, I sometimes have a loss for words (the right words) to say to him when the going gets tough. This song is just a perfect song I would like for him to hear. Thank you for sharing it with us and I wish you more blessings to come your way & your family!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Sir, the lyrics of your song is great. It’s great in a utopian world where all we could do is follow our bliss.

    Unfortunately, in the real world, kids need structure and direction and discipline and hard work. We only serve two masters: regret or discipline.

    Otherwise, they will end up doing something they thought they love to do; but, it still does not make them a better person. Then, they are remain unhappy and unfulfilled.

    Kids follow what they internalize inside. Parents mold them before 7 years old, or the society will mold them for us.

    Just look around at the young generation who followed their own dreams. They still live with their parents with no real jobs.

    These kids don’t know their dreams. They only want to have fun at no cost to hem.

    Let kids get real. Now, that’s good parenting.

    Sorry to be so candid and frank.

    I am still a fan.

  18. ang says:

    anonymous says:

    “Otherwise, they (kids) will end up doing something they thought they love to do; but, it still does not make them a better person. Then, they are remain unhappy and unfulfilled.

    Just look around at the young generation who followed their own dreams. They still live with their parents with no real jobs.”

    I’m sorry, but I cannot stand silent. These statements are too general and you are just putting a horrible stereotype on the “young generation.” There are ALOT of hardworking young people that I know. Not all of us are being sucked into the MTV generation. Are you saying that my dreams of becoming a teacher are unfulfilling to society? I’m sure you are not, please be specific as to what ‘dreams’ are relevant or irrelevant because you might just offened someone with generalizations.

    Maybe I’m just misinterpreting what you have said. I just ask that whoever you are, just be bit clearer.

    And I apologize for using jim’s blog to comment on ‘anonymous’s’ statement. Maybe if you had a way in which i could contact you so we could discuss this, I’d be more than happy to talk to you.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Oh no, there’s no need for a one-on-one! Open dialogue is good. I think that it’s great that there are many young people like you who are genuinely getting real and have real dreams that actually do make a difference. You have my best wishes.

    We first need to distinguish the difference between
    ‘generalization’ (most but not all) and a ‘blanket statement’ (all). I am fully aware that many young ones back there work very hard to earn their own keeps. I am not referring to you/them. I am, generally, referring to the privilege ones.

    My point is that hard life builds character. I for had undergone through hardlife (sold banana chips at school for lunch and fare money, walked 7 kilometers to school, etc.) But, that did not make me into a bitter person. I emigrated abroad on my own volition at a very young age (as many have) to helped my parents send my siblings to college.

    Why do I care to speak my mind? Because, I know that what hurts instruct. In parenting it’s called, ‘tough love’. In developed countries, dialogue is good because it makes people vigilant to speak out on what they think is right. That’s irrelevant of whether they are popular or not!

    That’s what nature teaches us. We need to go through fire to transform into a brilliant gem. Our grandfathers’ generation changed the world after they went through WW2.

    Now, generally speaking, the privilege young generation are into drugs, free sex, booze, shop lifting, beach bumming, texting and blogging. When could their parents finally retire?

    I just want them to get real. Just look around at the poorest ones next door who had very little to eat today. You see the contrast, right?

    Mr. Paredes is a well known teacher and a mentor. I am sure that he doesn’t mind being an instrument to learning even when other people’s opinions differ from him. Now, that’s a great teacher.

    a pragmatist

  20. Jim says:

    spongemom and vanessa–salamat
    anonymous- I hate to say this but you are generalizing even if you zero in on the rich kids. Not all priveldged kids are druggies, shoplifters, slackers. I teach at the Ateneo, a haven if you will of the priveldged class and I see many people who are disciplined , determined and promising.

    I grew up relatively poor. I was a scholar throughout my life. No new shoes every year. No big baon. Public transpo. My mom belived in tough love, but she also belived in tender motherly love. It’sa mix we need. Tough love must e a measured response. One person’s ‘giving’ of tough love can unfortunately be someone else’s trauma. Too soft love can be cumulatively toxic too.

    And it is also true that each person’s experience is true for them, just as yours is true for you. In my case, I shudder to think that what was right for me is 100 percent right for my kids. I believe in giving guidance but also a hefty amount of autonomy in living their lives. The metaphor about driving without a rear view mirror is true. Our parents ways cannot be our children’s ways anymore, at least not all of it. Some things will remain but some will change. Every generation learns their own truth. Their living in the their own present time has enough to teach them. And alas, that’s the way it is.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for taking the time and effort to write, sir. Your opinions are commendable esp. coming from a man.

    But, I, too, hate to state the following last points. (But, allow me to apologize for my measured response now that may sometimes sound rather trite and cold.)

    Firstly, you stated; “Not all privelged kids are druggies, shoplifters, slackers.” I agree, because generalization does NOT encompass ALL.

    Secondly, I did not state anywhere about authoritarian rule to the extent traumatize ones child/ren?
    I too believe in emotionally intelligent children. I am fully aware that there’s a big difference between wanting to do right by our kids and actually having the wherewithal to carry it off.

    They DO need structure, discipline, direction along with emotional coaching and self regulation. Good parenting involves not only intellectual but emotional IQ to raise kids thus requires the ‘right approach at the right time’ and “tough love must be a measured response.” From the latter stand point, I completely agree with you.

    Your own adversity has given you inner strenght. So, why do we protect our own kids from them?

    Rhetorical questions:

    How many young Filipinos in Manila are already married/unmarried with kids but still living with their parents? Uncommonly many but not all.

    How many children of the old rich in the Philippines to this day have the same level of wealth or any wealth or ‘mana’ left at all? Uncommonly finite thus not many.

    But, how come? The answer to that question lay with us parents. Parents act as ‘rudders’ to our young kids to guide them to their own real destinations. So, that they are NOT at the mercy of the strong, boisterous wind to cut their spirits down and be lost at sea. But, that too is only good to the extent while we, parents, are still alive.

    The truest test lay on how they thrive in the society when we are already deceased with no big inheritance for them to live comfortably by.

    Alas, that’s the way it is.

    Respectfully yours, I remain

  22. Anonymous says:


  23. Jim says:

    anonymously gabriela–It seems to me that you live life by the words of my song. Read it again.The passion and fearlessness of your views is evidence.

    I wrote it not for a utopian situation but a very real one. Each to his/her own truth. No one has a monopoly of it.

    And I don’t think I said anything about ‘authoritarian rule’previously. I merely stated that too much of tough or soft love can be toxic. I hope you did not feel alluded to.

    I am also not as ready to be as judgmental and say that people pass or fail ‘the test’ depending on how their kids turn out. Sure, we are the rudders, the guide, the inspiration but we can also be their soul killers. But to a greater degree, I would like to believe that our kids will grow up and be their own persons living their own lives eventually. Otherwise, we are either just victims and nothing more. I don’t see Cory as a failure because Kris is who she is, for example. Gautama Buddha grew up to be who he is despite his parents shielding him from all pain and discomfort. Darwin, by his parents view was a ‘failure’ too. I have met wonderful well-meaning people who’s kids aren’t picture-pretty perfect.

    Let’s just say kanya-kanya lang talaga. Not everyone is born under the same circumstances. ‘Nuf said!

    Thank God, such is life.

  24. gabriela says:

    Thank you sir. For me, relativism gives us a free pass to do whatever we want to the extent we indulge in the slippery slope.

    That’s when the rudder breaks and our kids begin to get lost. Ergo, fundamentals are a must.

    ‘Nuff said hence I won’t write ever again.

    God bless and take care.

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