mind wash, history, pain relief and another tour!

Went diving yesterday with Redford White and Maan De Ocampo, two long time buddies. Had two easy dives. Easy dives are generally shallow ones and without strong currents. You go on a slow pace and just trip on the thousands of fish everywhere. We dove in my favorite spot, Beatriz, a beautiful garden with hundreds and thousands of fish along picturesque corridors of rock and coral formation–all in shallow 35 feet, and also at the back of Sombrero Island which has a more spread out lay but pretty as well. We met new people, Jo-al (our dive master) and Tess Tamayo, his better-half.

Diving has this ability to refresh my perspective on things. I akin it to getting a ‘mind wash’. Just going down the ocean makes me feel renewed and reawakened to the beauty below and above. Perhaps it’s the simple proposition that as a creature outside of his usual habitat, I simply must follow instructions in as uncomplicated a manner as possible and that is, breathe through the aqualung, or die! No time for other unnecessary problems. Be simple like the fish or perish!

It seems like an uphill struggle to wake up at 4:30, go to Anilao for the day and spend around 6 hours in a car. Luckily, the conversation in the car is terrific and the dives make all the trouble worth it. By next year, I would have been diving for 10 years already! How time flies. Must get more diving this summer.

–Yesterday was EDSA day. the whole week, I was getting calls from news and public affairs from both sides of Kapamilya and Kapuso asking me to guest. I declined because I had already planned on diving. However, I consented to lending footages I had of the event, specifically the accounts of what happened in Radio Veritas during those heady days. Never seen before, Tony Velasques was excited to borrow them. I insisted on viewing them in my house so I could screen out other stuff that was personal. While watching them, I couldn’t help but notice that I had a pretty good visual coverage of the other side of the action outside of EDSA. Specifically, it was the rally/performance that showbiz people like APO, Jacqui Magno, Celeste Legaspi, Nonoy Zuniga, with the help of Ernie Garcia, Nora Aunor, Philip Salvador and Lino Brocka put up to gather people in Fairview, QC to form a human wall and prevent any take-over of the radio station on that night of the 22nd. Them were sleepless, heroic days. I remember being everywhere with my camera trying to document everything. I hardly ate or rested but was so energized even if I was actually running on empty!

Many things have happened since then. Our country has gone from bad to worse in many respects. Many of our leaders have betrayed EDSA’s ideals. Tony Velasquez asked me if I regretted doing what I did. I answered a definite ‘no’! I still feel now as I felt then that the people who stood up with courage for freedom and truth did so with honesty and conviction in their hearts. Though brief, it was a shining moment but truly a great one. And nothing and no one can change that.

I cannot say that though about the military puschists and Enrile who were operating with their own agenda. They still can’t get it through their heads that we did not march or risk our lives for them. Enrile and the military were hated figures. The plotters were merely accidental heroes who were saved by the people because they suddenly turned anti-Marcos. Though given a chance by the people who saved them, their deceit and insincerity was too far gone as they later betrayed us over and over again with continious failed coups and power grabs.

–Two days ago, I consented to going with Lydia to a ‘Deep Nerve Therapy Center’ in Antipolo, a treatment place for various bodily aches and pains. I’ve had this frozen right shoulder for sometime now that seemed to be getting worse the past few days probably exacerbated by doing the wrong gym exercises. The treatment is hard to describe and I will not attempt to. It’s definitely eastern, alternative medicine. The staff learned it from some Taiwanese traditional doctors. The bottom line is, the pain on my shoulder has eased considerably. Sometimes, I can’t even feel it anymore. And the real test was, I was completely OK during my dives yesterday.

Just because it’s not the usiual and I can’t understand how it works does not mean I must reject it, di ba? As John Lennon says, ‘whatever gets you through the night. It’s alright. It’s alright!’ Or as Deng Xiao Ping loved to say, ‘It does not matter if the cat is black or white so long as it catches mice!’

–These are my last few days before I’m off again for another tour of the US with APO. The first leg begins this March 10, 11 at the Sycuan Casino in San Diego with the third show on March 20 at Cache Creek Casino, Brooks, California. We will be back by the 23rd of March and will be off again at the end of April for leg 2. The second leg ends by May 29 after which we rest awhile and then it’s off this time to the Middle East!!! Man! I just love to tour! Meanwhile, we will be hitting the rehearsal studio by next week to make sure we give our audience another unforgettable tour.


OPM, radio gaga, american junk..

I was with Danny and Boboy for a concert in Iloilo last Saturday and let me tell you, even if we have been at it forever, we had a blast! The show was for a newly inaugurated strip of commercial area which had restaurants, coffee houses, and a hotel. We performed at the parking area which they spruced up with buntings, chairs, balloons and the like. The whole town showed up and it was filled to the rafters. It started with elaborate fireworks and a very talented magician named Erik Manna. Then it was APO’s turn.

Our live band was ‘smokin’ and I felt APO gave quite an inspired performance. And what helped lift our spirits was the large number of young people (aged 30 and below) who showed up and really enjoyed themselves. Prior to the performance, local cynics were speculating that there would be a small turn out since APO was not a “current” act. “Matanda na!” as some pointed out. Without doubt, we plead guilty to these two accusations. But to those who accuse us of being “ancient”, I’m sorry to break the news but.., well.. if you haven’t noticed it yet, it will eventually happen to everyone! I like to think that we are merely setting the trend for all those younger than us. Ha ha! But to the charge of breaking the odds by having a huge and a very loud and happy crowd, I not only plead guilty but do so gratefully.

I am proud to say that APO belongs to the 70s batch of entertainers who crashed the music scene. Many are still performing, touring and continue to build their legacies—-Rico J., Basil Valdes, Marco Sison, Nonoy Zuniga, Mike Hanopol, Hajji Alejandro, Mitch Valdes, Rey Valera,Freddie Aguilar, Hot Dog, etc. You may not hear a lot from them these days but when these people tour abroad, they always give the current and the trendily new a run for their money! Their cumulative catalogue lists many of the greatest local songs ever written in the past 50 years. There are more revival songs today from the 70s era than what the 80s and 90s have contributed. Why? Because we were an inspired batch to start with. We were the first to break away from our predecesors and write modern pop in Filipino– a very courageous, reckless thing to do and therefore very hip and ‘pop’ at that time. We boldly fashioned our ‘new’ music then which Danny Javier dubbed ‘OPM’! We wrote in more genres of music than people do today.

For the past 15 years now, whenever I hear a new song, I ask myself as a habit if it will be the type that will still be played, remembered or sang five years later. More often than not, before I even finish listening to the song, my intuition immediately whispers a “no”, and so far I’ve been quite on the mark. It’s hard for me to get excited over a lot of the current music which many times seem like they were written while looking at sales reports, advertising campaigns, and after consulting with DJs whose tastes and loyalties (and accents) are exclusively attuned to American Top 40 and MTV.

Mostly because of these factors, there is a prevailing blandness, a sameness in the way many artists sing and how their records sound. It’s a phenomenon that we predicted would happen in “American Junk” when Danny, Boboy and I saw radio slowly change from a staunch supporter of OPM into a mere token one. It has adopted a more hardcore format as a US Top 40 delivery system with just a sprinkling of OPM that conforms to the western format. As a result it’s hard to tell artists apart even vis-a-vis their US counterparts. That’s because many notoriously and unabashedly imitate whoever is current in America. And the disturbing thing is, it’s passed on and accepted as ‘original’ stuff. I hate to be a wet blanket but where is the excitement and originality in that?! Freddie Mercury expounded on something similar upon noticing the blandness that had crept into in his music millieu when he sang “Radio Gaga”.

There are exceptions to the blandness of course, and many (though not all of them) are in the indie (short for independent) band scene. These intrepid, starving artists are writing some cutting edge stuff that keeps the originally bold and brash spirit of OPM alive. APO made a tribute album to the band scene two years ago when we released Bandarito , an album of songs from E-heads, Rivermaya, Yano, Orient Pearl, Joey Ayala, I-Axe, Color It Red, and a few others. It was our way of appreciating their work. But let me underscore that I am in no way limiting my A-list to those mentioned above.

The world admittedly is very commercialized now–so much more than ever before. I also realize that the views I espouse go against the grain of regular TV and radio fare these days. THat’s why I feel that more than ever, creators must resist surrendering to the big, bad, crass gods of commercialism. At least not so easily. Sure, everyone must deal with the demands of ‘the market’. But to preserve some artistic integrity, it is important that artists ask the right questions in the right order. And on top of the list of questions is “What do I want to say?” first, before “What do the people want to hear?”! All great artists throughout the ages who have left a lasting legacy have done this—-Mozart, The Beatles, Eagles, Sting, Frank Sinatra, Willy Cruz, George Canseco, Rey Valera, to name just a few. To change the sequence will only produce more blandness at best, and at worse, more songs like “Bulaklak”, “Ocho-Ocho”, “Huwag Diyan”, “Spaghetti”, “Basketball”, etc., and that is a problem.

Unless of course, you think that they are great songs. In that case, just dismiss this article as the mere rantings of an old man from the 70s!

From You to Infinity in three pages..

Wanna meet “Original Face”, “Big Mind,” “Brahman,” “Spirit,” “God,” or simply the “Self,”?

Read below something from one of my favorite writers Ken Wilber. It was an email response to an employee from Integral Naked which hosts a lot of his online media. Read this leisurely. Better yet, copy into a blank page in Word. Click on “Edit” in your tool bar, then click on “Find,” which will bring up a “Find and Replace” window. Enter “Jim” in the “find what” field, and then click on the “replace” tab and enter your name in the “replace with” field. Then, click “Replace All.”

Your own name will now appear in the pointing out instructions… instructions that were written specifically for you and to you. Or if that’s too much trouble, just read it as is and imagine your name when you see mine.

Ken Wilber • From You to Infinity in 3 Pages

What I am going to do in the following is simply “describe” the nondual Self right now as it is immediately seen. The following is stream of consciousness, so forgive any goofs. Simply relax your mind and read the following easily (if a sentence immediately makes sense, fine, if not, just keep lightly reading):

What you have been seeking is literally and exactly That which is reading this page right now. That Self cannot be found because it was never lost: you have always known you were you. That I AMness is a constant condition of all that arises, is the space in which it all arises, has nothing outside of it and thus is complete Peace, and radiates its own beauty in all directions. Jim arises in the space of that I AMness, Jim arises in this vast spaciousness, this pure openness. Jim is an object, just like a tree or a cloud that arises in the space of the Self that you are. I am not talking to Jim right now, I am talking to you. That which is aware of Jim is this ever-present Self. This Self is aware of Jim arising right now. This Self is God. God is reading this page. Jim is not reading this page, God is reading this page. The Self is aware of Jim and aware of this page. You are not Jim. You are what is aware of Jim. What is aware of Jim is an I AMness that itself cannot be seen but only felt, felt as an absolute certainty, unshakeable is-ness, I AM that I AM eternally, timelessly, unendingly. There is only this I AMness in all directions. Everything arises spontaneously in the space of this great perfection that is the Self, which is reading this page right now.

And you, Jim, are that Self. You have always known that you are this Self. There was never a time that you did not know that you are you. You can never remember a time when you were not you. The only thing you can ever remember is something that this Self did. There is only this Self. You cannot reach out for it because it is that which is doing the reaching. You cannot see it because it is doing the seeing right now, which means, everything simply arises in its awareness: the entire world arises in your awareness right now. You are that space in which it is all spontaneously and effortlessly arising. You are that One. You have always been that One. There is only that One. Do not pretend you are finding that One. Do not pretend you have forgotten that One. The only thing you have ever known, the only thing you can ever remember, the only thing you are actually feeling right now is that One: the is-ness, now-ness, suchness of everything, just as it is, and as it is arising within your Self—the simple feeling of Being, which is all you ever feel always.

Look at the clouds: they are arising in your awareness: they are arising in you. The clouds are outside of Jim but inside of your Self. Look at your body and this room. Your body is in this room, but both the body and the room arise IN your awareness. You are literally holding them in your consciousness lovingly. The mountains are arising in your awareness: they are arising in you, and you are lovingly holding the mountains within your consciousness, holding the arising world within your embrace as the dearly radiant beloved. The mountains are arising outside of Jim but inside of your Self. The clouds, the mountains, and Jim are all simultaneously and effortlessly arising in this Self, the reader of this page. All that is arising is arising in this unshakeable I AMness, which is not a thing or an object or a person, but the openness or clearing in which all things and all objects and all persons are arising. This emptiness, this openness, this vast spaciousness is your Self, is what you have always been, is what you are before your parents were born, is what you are before the Big Bang happened. Before Abraham was, I AM. There is no before and no after for this now-ness that is the Self. There is only this now-ness of the Self that is reading this page in this very moment. There is no past and no future in this never-ending now. All befores and all afters arise in this awareness. There is only this ever-present, never-starting, never-ending, unborn, undying, radiant beauty that is aware of this page, that is aware of this universe, and that finds all of them IN the space that it is, and therefore all things arise in the unshakeable Peace that holds them all easily in its caring within. Jim is in the universe; the universe is in your Self.

Therefore, be this ever-present Self who is reading this page. I am not talking to Jim, I am talking to you. Let Jim arise and fall like all objects. Let Jim come into being, remain a bit, and pass: what has this to do with your Self? All objects arise, remain, and pass in the spaciousness and emptiness that is aware of this moment, and this moment, and this moment, and this moment. Yet this moment has no end, you have never actually felt the present come to an end because it never does: it is the only thing that is real: this now-ness, this simple feeling of being, the very same feeling-awareness in which this page floats, and in which Jim floats, and in which the clouds float. When you feel this present now-ness, there is nothing outside of it—you cannot see on the outside of this timeless now because there is nothing outside of it. Now and now and now is all you ever know, and this now-ness is simply another name for the spacious Self in which the entire kosmos arises as a radiant, joyful, ecstatic swoon of bliss and a desire to share this infinite Joy with somebody else.

Because this page and the mountains and the clouds all arise in your awareness, there is nothing outside your Self. That there is literally nothing outside your Self means there is literally nothing that can threaten it. Since you know this Self, you know Peace. Because you are already, directly, immediately, and intimately one and identical with That which is reading this page right now, you know God right now, directly and immediately and unmistakably and undeniably. And because you know God right now, as the very Self reading this page, you know you are finally, truly, deeply home, a home that you have always directly known and always pretended you didn’t.

Therefore, pretend no more. Confess that you are God. Confess that you are Beauty. Confess that you are the very Truth the sages have sought for centuries. Confess that you are Peace beyond understanding. Confess that you are so ecstatically happy that you had to manifest this entire world just to bear witness to a radiant beauty you could no longer contain only in and for yourself. Confess that the Witness of this page, the Self of this and all the worlds, is the one and only true Spirit that looks through all eyes and hears with all ears and reaches out in love and compassion to embrace the very beings that it created itself in an eternal ecstatic dance that is the secret of all secrets. And confess that you are Alone, that you are literally the only One in the entire universe: there are no others to this One. There are indeed others to Jim, but both Jim and the others arise in the awareness that is reading this page, and this awareness, this Self, has no other because all others arise in it. One without a second is what is reading this page.
Therefore, be that One. And also give my love to Jim.


p.s. Do you realize, deeply, deeply, deeply, that the one who is reading this page is the one who wrote it, yes? Jim, and Ken, and this page, all arise in the Witness of this page, yes? The Self is not hard to find, but impossible to escape. So drop all this fuss about finding and losing, and simply be the One in whom all worlds are now arising. So go outside and look at the beautiful world arising within your very own feeling-awareness, arising within your very own Being, and then, you know, go have a beer or something….

Tagged! Ouch!!

Ok, I will abide by the “rules”. I’ve been tagged twice already and so I MUST do this. But after this, I proclaim myself immune from further tagging. Ha ha! Sachico, Slither Dude. This one’s for you!

Random 10

1) Eleanor Rigby By the Beatles—Great song. Great performance and arrangements. Pure genius.My heart skips a few beats every time I hear it..

2) A Remark You Made—By Weather Report. It’s a jazz instrumental. Nice bass lines. Haunting melody.

3) Dangling Conversation—By Simon and Garfunkel. It’s something from the late 60s. Great lyrics and a great song that captures the sensitive awkwardness of lovers who have drifted and yet must talk.

4) Lumisan Na Siya—It’s a song I wrote and its been playing in my mind for quite sometime now.

5) Lanca Perfume by Trio Esperanca—A great accapella rendition

6) Waters Of March—I can listen and enjoy any version of this beguilingly simple yet complex song by Tom Jobim, one of my Gods!

7) No Such Thing—“I just found out there’s no such thing as a real world. Just a lie you gotta rise above.” Man!!! This is so Buddhist and wonderful coming from a young songwriter. Sang with honesty.

8) Seasons Of Love from Rent. This is such a great song that reminds me of the value of being present.

9) Bituin Walang Ningning—This Willy Cruz composition has got to be one of the best Filipino songs of all time.

10) Do I Do by Stevie Wonder. From the first time I heard it I liked it to this day. And I saw him sing this live in Manila!!

What is the total amount of music files in your computer?

Hundreds! That’s because I’ve downloaded many on the Ipod. Otherwise, it would be in the thousands!

The last CD I bought is an Arabic Artist. I can’t recall the name. I like world music.

What was the last song you listened to before reading this message?

”More Than You Know” by Jane Monheit

Write down 5 songs you listen to a lot or mean a lot to you

1) Like a Lover—By Sergio Mendez. It so intensely expresses the yearning to touch. Sensual and sexy.

2) Here There and Everywhere—This Beatle song still gives me goose bumps till now.

3) Setembro (Brazillian Wedding Song)—From Quincy Jones’ Back On The Block Album. This is an all-time favorite. I must have listened to it a thousand times by now. No lyrics but such great voicing. Cool arrangement and bonus guitar licks from George Benson.

4) Jericho—by Joni Mitchell. I first heard this song in the 70s. It was from a live album and I have not forgotten it to this day. A love song with lyrics that pierces you deep down with its honesty.

5) Bird of Brazil—by Joyce. It’s a Brazillian song that is so beautiful. I have no idea what it means.

Who are you gonna pass this stick to? Hmmmm…..(3 persons and why) Hope they haven’t been tagged yet and will ride with us..Here goes…

rach, Jey and Baby Pink. Why? Wala lang!This is a s random as a drive-by shooting! Heh Heh!

Love Between Men!

This will be an unusual Valentine article. Sure, it speaks about love and all that mush. But to make it different, I would like to write of a love that men are not comfortable expressing, and that is the love men have for other men! I speak about two people I have been associated with for practically a lifetime now (for many of my young readers, that is!). They are Danny Javier and Boboy Garrovillo, two people I love.

We met in 1969 and since then we have practically been inseparable living our lives and times —the good and bad and all the others in between, since those innocent college days to the present. Collectively, we have done thousands of concerts, recorded hundreds of songs, done enough television to sometimes hate it, sang through martial law, two revolutions, espoused many causes, had 4 marriages (Danny had two), 9 children, 1 grand daughter, countless travels and crazy experiences that would last more than our three lifetimes combined.

We have gone through many sleepy and sleepless nights and long days inside recording studios, airplanes, cars, vans, buses, auditoriums, rehearsal halls, hotels, and on the road touring, driving, rehearsing, being filmed, doing interviews, signing countless autographs, posing for pictures, working, taping, doing commercials, dancing, singing, writing songs, joking, working our asses off while still enjoying ourselves. Before any of us got married, our partners already accepted our friendship as part of the territory. Even now, we have been APO longer than we have been with our wives! Our children believed for a long time that they were all actually related by blood! Each one of them has at least one APO godfather. Danny, Boboy and I have been a threesome forever.

In our earlier years when we were much younger, more competitive, hungrier and more ambitious, we were ALWAYS on red alert, on call, ready to respond to the demands of showbiz at the drop of a hat. We were on the make and were eager to be famous, make our mark, have a hit record, have another, maintain a streak of hits, buy our houses, our cars, our musical gadgets and other big toys for big boys, our exotic vacations. We worked hard and to do so, we were sharp and ready for action 24-7!

It’s been 35 years. We have been good to and for each other. A lot of people ask us many times if we ever fight. Sure!! Some of them pretty big and long ones. But we have learned to resolve them quickly enough since it’s impossible to do what we do if we hated each other’s guts, or even disliked each other. The stage is a very honest medium, and we have always kept the friendship an honest one if we are to radiate sincere performances. We have seen each others’ faults, failures, and flaws, and have also profited from each others’ talents, gifts and uncanny instincts. We know that as individuals, we are each just a Clark Kent, but as a threesome, we become a super group! Truly, in a great synergy, 1 + 1 can equal 10, or even a thousand!! And APO has always been that!

And all this we could not have done without great respect, sincere affection and yes, love for each other. And just so that nothing malicious is misconstrued from all of this talk about love among men, I want to leave you with the usual answer we give when people ask us how we’ve lasted this long. No matter which one of us you ask, the response is always, “no sex!”

35 years!!!

sharing stuff

A few weeks back, I was gifted with some things from friends and relatives and I want to share them with you. But please be warned that my tastes are kinda eclectic and is hardly mainstream and so you may not readily resonate with some of them. But then again, who knows? If you’ve been enjoying this blog, we may have a lot more in common than I am presuming. So here goes.

1) Ali G—I got this DVD from my sister and finally got to watch it last night. My God!! This guy is outrageously funny! Talk about reality television. He actually goes and interviews famous and respectable people—politicians, scientists, religious leaders, celebrities, etc.. The clincher is, he does so sometimes as a really stupid, idiotic, hip-hop inner city guy, an Austrian fashionista or a dubious celebrity from Kazahkztan named Borat! Imagine Newt Gingrich, Donald Trump, UN General-Secretary Boutros Boutros-Ghali, US Surgeon General Evert Coop, etc. sitting, or squirming through an interview with someone who asks the most inane, offensive questions and watch them suppress great annoyance and disbelief! Ginagago niya ang mga sikat!! What a way to get back at celebrities. The guy is pure genius. Two thumbs and two toes up!!

2) Kosmic Consciousness—-This is a gift I received from Rommel de Leon a.k.a. coolmel. This is a 10 CD set of conversations with perhaps the greatest philosopher, psychologist, pandit of our time. Listening to it is like sitting with an intelligent, ebullient person who talks about his life work with great erudition, heart and humor. Admittedly, if you are not at all familiar with his works, this may not be your cup of tea. He covers the whole spectrum of what gets into our consciousness. I am already on my third listen and I am still learning a lot. It’s good to listen to it and discuss with others. If you are interested, let me know. Maybe we can arrange something. But again. let me warn you that you may find it heavy listening.

3) THIS BOOK by Mitchell Simons—Reviewed as ‘more interesting than the bible’, it’s a thick book of esoteric facts galore! It’s actually hard to put down once you open it. But, right after you close it, you can’t seem to remember anything! Thanks for this, Ala!

4) Awakening At Midlife by Kathleen A. Brehoney—This is a wonderful book that explores a topic that anyone in midlife should be facing but hesitates to. It is a fascinating look at the second half of life where one can live more truly and fully than ever. There is so much more to each person than he/she has ever dared to know. Midlife is the time to meet and reconcile all aspects of oneself including both the light and the dark. A perfect gift for anyone over 40 or experiencing great unhappiness, ennui, boredom or confusion! Bettina, Salamat! Ganda nito talaga.

5) Skype—This is software which you can download free from the net. It allows you to talk to anyone in the world for free as long both of you are subscribed. I’ve been using it to talk to my sister and it is so easy to use and the reception is crystal clear. Thanks to Greg, my techie brother-in-law.

6) The Meaning of Life, And Now For Something Different—Two DVDs of Monty Python’s classic films. I saw them in the early 80s and I was laughing my head off then. Hanggang ngayon nakakatawa pa rin!

7) Grace and Grit by Ken Wilber—A true story of love in the time of cancer as journeyed through by Ken Wilber and his late wife Treya who was diagnosed with breast cancer a few days after their wedding. Ken, the same guy I mentioned above weaves the narrative with so much insight, love and compassion while sharing with us the depth and breadth of his own eastern spirituality. A great read! Again thanks to Bettina whose generosity spreads to everyone she meets.

Lastly, due to reactions from my previous post, I would like to announce that I will be holding the 27th run of my creativity workshop, Tapping the Creative Universe (TCU) which I talked about previously. The dates are February 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28 at 7 to 9 PM. Venue is at the Partnership Center, 59 C. Salvador St., Loyola Heights, QC. If you are interested, write to me at jimparedes@gmail.com and I will send you a syllabus and answer all queries. Hey, maybe it’s really YOUR time to be there!It will be a long time before I run this again.