Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Archive for November, 2018

520 weeks 0

Posted on November 10, 2018 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – November 11, 2018 – 12:00am

How old are you right now? Are you healthy? Active? How many years do you think you have before you slow down? How far off is retirement? Do you still have things to do? Things to achieve? Places to see? People you want to spend time with?

When you are young, these questions are hardly important. You think you have all the time in the world to procrastinate, delay, and be lazy. You may or may not be serious about your career. You may not be thinking about pursuing your calling which is different from your career. Your calling may not even be clear to you. Life to you is a series of parties, dates, hanging around with the barkada, drinking, vacationing somewhere. Tomorrows are endless. There is time to do everything later. 

But think about this. There are 52 weeks in a year. This means that you have 260 weekends in the next five years. And 520 weeks in the next 10 years. That’s not a lot. Included here are the days when you will not be feeling well, or recuperating from illness. It includes time when you will be sleeping and doing nothing. All this may not mean anything to someone in their 20s, or maybe even in their 40s. But to someone in their 60s, those numbers are compelling.

I remember an older friend who got upset with his dive buddy because he canceled a weekend of diving. This was 10 years go. My friend was in his 60s then. He told his buddy that he just wasted one weekend he could have used up to do something he loved. He really does count his weekends. At that time, he figured he had about 500-plus weekends left before his body got too old to be doing anything as active as scuba.

Seniors have a more acute sense of the passing of time. I mostly groan during days I spend doing nothing. I feel I wasted a part of my life when it happens. More and more, I try to schedule doing stuff I want to do. I just want to fill my days doing or paying attention to things that are worth my time.

As time goes on, many older people may fret and worry. Some of them give in to impatience. They can lose their filters and get very straight to the point when they talk about things. They can speak more directly. They can sound quite abrasive. This may upset younger people. Some of the young will not understand where the oldies are coming from. They may think that the elderly are just being cranky and conclude that it goes with age (while it could also be the start of dementia).

I think the reason why some older people get cantankerous is because there is little time left to beat around the bush, or to engage in things that are a waste of time. There is also a lot of unfinished business. There are regrets. But their pride still gets in the way and they can’t do closure just yet. And so they vent out. They know there are diminishing opportunities left to say what needs to be said or to share what they need to share.

On the other hand, there are old people who are luckier. These are seniors who discover or rediscover their mojo at a late age. It is like they are going through some sort of rebirth. They have found their second wind. An example is Grandma Moses, an American art icon who started painting in her 70s when arthritis made doing embroidery too painful. Or Susan Boyle who joined a TV talent show and won the hearts of viewers everywhere, starting her singing career in her 60s. Then there’s Colonel Sanders (real name: Harland David Sanders) who started Kentucky Fried Chicken at age 65. I could a name a few more.

For these people, age is almost irrelevant. They may feel a sense of triumph and more energy at this point in their lives than they ever did before. They must feel they have defied nature and are proud of it. Instead of mourning the passage of time, they relish where they are because they are doing what they love. They still have a sense of purpose. Their sense of urgency is not because of their age and the time they have left. It is because they have a sense of mission. Time is not a tank of gasoline wasted on driving aimlessly. It is a full tank that they are ready to use to follow the path that calls them. They wish to go as far as they can. Yes, they are using all their time in building their life’s work at this late age. They are building their legacy.

And then there are these remarkable oldies, some of them I have met. They have figured out that the best way to spend the remaining time left is to do nothing and to not strive for anything. Some people may gasp at the idea. How can that be? But I have met happy retired people doing just that. At their age, they have mostly settled their issues. They have forgiven their enemies and have come to accept themselves fully. They have paid their dues and all they wish to do is smell the roses and be in the moment wherever they find themselves. Sure, they have some routines that they do to keep themselves groomed and healthy. A lot of them also meditate. But they have no sense of urgency to achieve or acquire more things. They are more into what can be described as… simply being.

Simon and Garfunkel’s 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) comes to mind:

I got no deeds to do, no promises to keep

I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep

Let the morning time drop all its petals on me

Life, I love you, all is groovy.

I am probably somewhere between the urgent and the driven type, with a little bit of the last one thrown in. To be in the third category, I think I have to work out a few things. It would help if I had money to feel secure enough to not have to do anything. No more striving for things you do not own or possess.

That may be the easy part.

The harder part is embarking on peacemaking with everything and everyone in the past. It also means to come to terms and accept who you are with all your faults and talents, pluses and minuses. It means letting go of guilt, pride and being in that sweet spot where you can appreciate however life shows up. 

I am counting on the next 520 weeks to get there.

Rico J. Puno: More than just ‘macho gwapito’ 0

Posted on November 04, 2018 by jimparedes

image: http://media.philstar.com/images/articles/lif1_2018-11-03_04-47-32.jpg

The author Jim Paredes (right) with (from left) Martin Nievera, Ric Segreto and Rico J. Puno taken about 30 years ago.Rico J. Puno: More than just ‘macho gwapito’

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – November 4, 2018 – 12:00am

I was awakened last Tuesday morning, Oct. 30, with the news that Rico J. Puno had passed on. I learned from friends that he had done a gig the night before. After the show he complained of chest pain and went to the hospital. It was there that he had a fatal heart attack.

I was in shock. I was getting and reading texts from colleagues who felt the same way. Even if I knew that he was struggling with health issues the past three years, his death still came as a surprise to me. I guess we tend to remember people as we last saw them. In my case, it’s been about two years since my last encounter with him. This felt so sudden. Death is indeed like a thief in the night.  

Rico was a guy who loved crowds. He loved being around people. He always had a joke to share. Whether he was talking to a huge concert crowd or just a few people in a room, he was the same. He was always full of zest. He often seemed bigger than life itself. 

image: https://video.unrulymedia.com/native/images/in-art-close-icon-128×128-16481b937f87b244a645cdbef0d930f8.png

When I first met him, he was already famous. The APO was still on the make. He enjoyed his status immensely. He loved the trappings of fame. He wore gold watches, bracelets, necklaces. He was often seen in the company of beautiful, sexy women. He enjoyed the mass adulation. For many, he was the embodiment of what a Filipino pop star was if we ever saw one.  

APO and Rico, together with the singers and songwriters of the ’70s, knew we were breaking new ground musically and even culturally. We were making modern original songs strictly for the local audience. We wanted to gift them with songs in the vernacular that spoke of genuine Filipino experiences. We were creating what was to be known later as OPM.   

I was working for a record company called Jem Recording. I would bump into him in the studio where we recorded Hajji Alejandro who was the antithesis of Rico. Where Rico’s appeal catered more to the masa, Hajji’s pitch was aimed at collegialas. They were both talented and they had their own following.

There were many talents who were recording Filipino originals then but Rico’s songs dominated the airwaves. People loved his soulful voice and his songs that talked about the simple joys of love. “Namamasyal sa Luneta na walang pera” was a phrase from the song Alaala (a Tagalized version of Barbara Streisand’s The Way We Were) which resonated with the hearts of listeners everywhere. 

His voice was soulful. He could convey pain, romance, joy, naughtiness, humor and passion with it. His style was unmistakable. When his songs played on the radio, there was no mistaking it was him. He was a brand. He did both originals and famous English songs often translated to Pilipino. Onstage, he had great showmanship. He had command. He also exuded a lot of charm. And he loved to talk. He had great rapport with his audience because of his songs’ popularity. His talking and dishing out jokes enhanced and raised the intensity of the audience bonding to a fever pitch. At the end of his performances, he would often take off his coat and throw it to his audience. He always exited with a bang.

As an older performer later on, he loved to tell green jokes onstage. Sometimes, it would turn some people off. Others loved it. I remember a conversation with him where I asked why he made risqué jokes when he clearly did not need to. He already had the repertoire and the talent and charm to please the crowd. I guess he just liked to do it. He loved to walk the edge and shock his audience. 

He recorded Yakap Sa Dilim, one of APO’s big songs, for one of his albums. I saw him perform it live and it was an experience to relish. When he got to the middle part and the line, “Heto na and pinakahihintay natin,” the atmosphere turned electric. While singing he was naughtily thrusting his hips forward and back to the beat of the song. The audience went wild and broke into roaring laughter and raucous applause. It was crazy!

During the past few years, I have been reminding myself to be aware and present with every person I encounter, especially with old friends and colleagues, since it is quite possible that it could be the last time I will see them. When I hear of the sudden death of friends, the moment when we last talked comes back to me. Of course, there is no way of knowing when a person will die. That is why I make it a point now to consciously pay attention so that every conversation I have with anyone will at least have some meaning. 

 I remember being in a dressing room in GMA-7 waiting to be called for a TV guesting and having a talk with Francis M. He opened up and talked about the trumped-up raps some policemen filed against him for extortion purposes. He was upset. I listened to him. I did not know that would be our last conversation. Some months later, he died of cancer. I also remember being with songwriter Snaffu Rigor attending a Filscap board meeting. A few weeks later, Boboy and I did a show with some artists to raise funds for his medical bills. He was soon gone after that. 

I can’t even remember the exact last time I saw Rico. But in life, we crossed paths during concerts, local and foreign tours, recordings, promos, and TV guestings. We weren’t close. But when we saw each other, we would talk about our kids since they were almost the same age. We would exchange a few laughs. We often used the same musicians for our gigs. Our common friends Hajji, Nonoy Zuniga and Rey Valera loved to share stories about Rico’s stage antics. 

He also had his philosophical, serious side. He recorded inspirational songs that were huge hits. Kapalaran, May bukas pa and Lupa were some of them. They were soothing and reassuring to the Filipino soul. 

Rico J. Puno will be greatly missed. And he will be remembered as one among the great OPM legends who defined music and left indelible happy memories in the Filipinos’ collective psyche. 

Mabuhay, ka Rico J. 

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/sunday-life/2018/11/04/1865561/rico-j-puno-more-just-macho-gwapito#L6tCKQziMwWx6gD2.99

Visiting mom and dad 0

Posted on November 01, 2018 by jimparedes
Esther Misa and Jesus Paredes, Jr.

I just came from visiting my parents at Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral. There were quite a number of people in the crypt below the cathedral that it took time for me to find my parents resting place. I had to go back and forth a portion of the corridor 4 times before I saw it. In truth, I was getting anxious. I felt like a lost child who could not find his own parents.

When I got there I suddenly got emotional. I touched their names on the stone and started to cry. I prayed. All of a sudden, I missed their love big time. I opened my heart to them and not to long after, I actually felt their presence. My mind was saying it was just my projection but I truly felt their love. I asked them to pray for all my sibs.

To my surprise, a vision came to me. It was my dad carrying me in my parents room. I was 3 years old. That was new to my memory. I felt his love.

In our conversation, I told them that I had too many questions about life and how I envied them because they already knew the answer. I also said sorry because I may not have lived up to their expectations in many ways. But I have always strived to be a good person. I thought I heard my mom say, ‘Oo naman’ in her reassuring way.

We kept talking. I told Mom and Dad that I did believe in the after life. I asked if they could give me a sign to let me know if I was right to believe. Then I hesitated. I told them that even if I do believe, I do not want to base everything on a sign. I was already sure about it anyway.

I changed my request. I asked them for a confirmation that we actually had this conversation and it was not just my imagination conjuring up all of this. I requested them to let me encounter someone from the past that was somehow connected to us.

I stepped out for awhile and bought 2 strands of sampaguita from a vendor outside. I placed them in the crypt, said a prayer, and bade good bye.

Some 45 seconds later as I walked out of the crowded corridor, I felt someone tap my shoulder. When I looked I saw people’s faces but did not recognize anyone. I thought that it may have been just an accident. Then an old lady called out my name and came close to me. She asked me if I had ever lived in Boston street many years back. I said I did. That was the house my parents built and where I spent a big part of my wonderful childhood. She then introduced herself. Her name was Evelyn Bernardo. She used to live close by next to the De Paz Sari-sari store at the corner of Boston and Lantana where I used to buy soft drinks. She then mentioned the names of our common neighbors, the Lopezes, the Sta Marias.

What a moment! I had a major case of goosebumps. THERE was the ANSWER, THE SIGN. I told the woman what her calling me meant to me. I got emotional. She hugged me in a motherly way and told me not to cry. We talked for a while. She asked about the rest of my siblings. I said that thank God all 10 of us were still alive. I said goodbye with tears of joy.

Dear Mom, and dad. Everything in this world will wither and die. Only love is eternal. Thank you for your continuing love. I love you.

And yes, you also showed me that there is an afterlife.

Lydia M. Paredes Erica Paredes Ala Paredes Buencamino Mio Danger Paredes Paulynn Sicam Lory Paredes Tangonan Barbara Paredes-SumnerRafael Paredes Maruja Paredes Ducky Paredes Aping Paredes

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