Tired but happy

Danny, Boboy and I just finished our 10th and final show for this last tour which took us through Zamboanga, Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Tacloban, Davao, and of course Manila. The last stretch (Tacloban and Davao) were particularly tiring. We left on an early flight last friday to do the show in Tacloban on the same day. The show finished close to twelve midnight and as luck would have it, my room was close to the lobby with a band playing till the wee hours and so I hardly had any sleep. I was up at 5 to catch our flight to Davao which took us first to Manila before enplaining for Davao. Crazy schedules.

We were exhausted by the time we reached Davao. We slept in the afternoon to be functional enough to do the concert at Central Bank that evening. Once again, we fiished close to 12 midnight and I tried to catch some sleep before waking up at 5AM to catch my flight to Manila. With the help of a sleeping pill which I try not to rely on, I was able to doze off a bit. The worse part was that waking up early to get on an early flight did not pay off since PAL was three hours late! Ugh!!!

All in all though, it was a great stretch. Doing concerts for APO’s old crowd and the ever-increasing younger set that watch us now is always rewarding. It feels good to have our songs appreciated after all these years especially by the next generation who seem to find us three old men ‘amazing’.

But despite the adulation, I still felt lonely quite often during this visit to Manila. Perhaps it was only the moments on stage that freed me from the loneliness I felt being away from Sydney where my family is. For some reason, it is quite easy to feel the reassuring ‘THIS is all there is’ mantra while I am performing that keeps me present to the moment. Maybe it’s because the unfolding repertoire makes being present and impermanence easier to appreciate. I am literally just enjoying the fleeting fame.

Loneliness in Manila has a different flavor compared to the loneliness I feel when traveling elsewhere. When I am touring America or Europe or any other place, the newness and unfamiliarity of the places we go to makes loneliness more bearable. It does not cut the way loneliness in Manila feels like. Being in my house which I shared with loved ones before, and now finding it empty is painful and melancholic. A consolation though is the whole changed scenery makes one pause and ruminate more about life and impermanence which are great spiritual agitations that remind us we are on the path. Pero mahirap pa rin.

Writing is both a curse and a beam of grace. Before I actually start writing my weekly article for Philippine Star, I notice a heaviness building up in me. I am beset with fear, doubt and inertia about writing. I am stumped by the perenial questions most writers face which is, what to write about. What do I really want to say? But often, the moment I sit down and commit to write, something does happen. It’s like inspiration always shows up when we go through the trouble of asking Her to. And yet, the fact that it happens 99% of the time is not reassuring enough for me. Often, we fixate on the 1% that things will go wrong. I guess that’s the accompanying angst that writers go through. It’s a paradox. Without the accompanying doubt, the beam of grace like the cavalry that comes to the rescue, is worthless.

I am exhausted physically. Lately, because of the number of shows, I have not been getting enough quality sleep. And I actually get mild anxiety attacks about not being able to sleep enough. What if I am not rested and can’t sing well the next day? What if I get sick? Full of ‘what ifs’. I know those fears are there because I project too much into the future which is not yet. Only centering myself in the present helps me. And yet the thing is, I don’t even remember to do it qucikly enough when my anxieties start. But at least I do remember eventually each time and only then manage to get some rest.

— A pleasant surprise greeted me in Tacloban. I got a hero’s welcome when we visited the STEFTI school. Five years earlier, I gave a team building workshop to a group of teachers, administrators of a renowned school there who had decided to go on their own and establish a new school with the values and goals that resonated with them. It was a time of uncertainty and doubt then as they struggled to find the star to guide their collective journey. My job then was to facilitate a workshop that helped them with their Vision/mission and action statements.

Five years later, they invited APO to see what they had established– a new school with a sizeable enrollment and an impressive academic standing nationally. STEFTI placed second in the NAMCYA nation-wide 3 years ago. It was heartwarming to see this community so vibrant and full of life in Tacloban. They presented dance and song numbers and then honored me specifically with a board resolution proclaiming me as a member of the school.

In the midst of all the hoopla and gratitude they showered, I was beaming inside because I knew that the workshop did amount to a great outcome. I was so grateful to have been part of something that gave birth to something wonderful.

A memorably funny thing happened when we got to the Zamboanga leg of the tour three weeks ago. We got off the plane and walked to the airport and were greeted by military personal with long arms who I suppose were there to guard the airport. As we entered the terminal, we could here them sing ,
‘Heo na, Heto na, Heto na..’ and they sang all the way to the refrain of Doobidoo.

We had definitely arrived! ha ha ha.