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!
LIVE YOUR OWN LIFE
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!
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 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!