Have yourself a merry little Christmas

One of my guilty pleasures is listening to Christmas songs. A specific one is the song “Have yourself a merry little Christmas”, on repeat, in so many versions.

Before Spotify, I had six different versions of that same song in my playlist, although I can’t remember exactly which ones anymore. I had them on repeat so many times.

This time with Spotify, I created a playlist with almost 50 different versions from different artists, and no two are the same. Each one, albeit the same song, will have a different feel to it. It is a different experience each time.

I do have a few favourites, by:

Kenny G

Michael Buble

Frank Sinatra

Kermit the Frog

The Pretenders

James Taylor

The Carpenters

Feel free to listen to the playlist I have created on Spotify here.

Merry Christmas!

My long-delayed reaction to Adele’s “Hello”

I have to be honest, Adele’s new song and music video “Hello” never really got me until lately. For the past few weeks since it was released, I’ve been wondering why so many people are feeling so much about that song. And for someone who’s heart and mind is so often affected by music and lyrics, her song somehow evaded me, until now.

I see, hear, and feel it now. The sorrow, regret, and longing of that song. Perhaps sometimes we deliberately shut off parts of our system to shield ourselves from pain, even if that pain is from so long ago. Maybe the song was blocked from my system somehow, and it took some time to finally make sense.

Hello, it’s me, I was wondering
If after all these years you’d like to meet to go over everything
They say that time’s supposed to heal, yeah
But I ain’t done much healing

Heck, it’s a line that isn’t so strange to me. But then again, perhaps that’s the only part of the song that makes sense to me. I cannot connect to the rest of the song anymore, because it’s a song of someone who regrets letting go of someone they loved. And if anything, maybe someone else should be singing that song…

Regret is one thing I hate. That’s why I live my life such a way that I will never look back and regret doing or not doing something. So far, I only have one regret in my life that I wish I could undo.

Music is fuel to my soul

Music is fuel to my soul.

Music used to play eternally in my bedroom whenever I am at home, and my sister can attest to this. I savored music during my long commutes to work and home back when I had to go through the hells of C5 or EDSA. I find myself engulfed in music even at work – to the point that some days I obsess on specific songs and have them on loop for the entire day.

Perhaps I’ve gone on too long without feeding my soul. When I moved, there were too many things to be worried about – finding a job, settling down, making sure that I had the basic things that I needed. I worried about running out of money, about eating too much and exercising too little, about watching too much TV. I was so afraid of standing out, of not being able to fit in. Too much on my mind. I didn’t want to bother the other folks at the flat with my music. I was afraid to put on my headphones while commuting since I was still getting used to how the roads worked here (and the way the vehicles go about the opposite way takes some time to get used to). My spotify also did not want to work for a few weeks (I had to update my location in the app just to make it work). The only music fix I would get was in my brother’s car through his spotify, but of course he also had his own music flavour.

I’m rediscovering my music now. Plugged into my headphones at this very moment that I am writing this. I’ve also plugged in during my gym time. I’m also slowly easing back the music in while working. A little bit of music on the speakers at home when the rest are away. I’m starting to get my fix again.

Music is fuel to my soul, and I’m starting to feel a little more alive again.

p.s. Music currently on loop is “Indak” by Up Dharma Down – http://endlessvideo.com/watch?v=tb2uJtlZzbk

The Breakup Playlist – a movie review

The-Breakup-Playlist-Love-and-music-is-in-the-airOut of my innocent boredom, I decided to watch “The Breakup Playlist” at the cinema today. Okay I’ll be honest instead. I really wanted to watch “The Breakup Playlist” so I watched it at the cinema today. So how did I find it?

First of all, I left the cinema with a looping last song syndrome (LSS) in my head until now — “Paano ba ang magmahal?”. Also, I really had an urge to write about it. If anything, I guess that makes the movie effective — there is recall and retention.

Ok, brutal honesty now. The good and the bad:

  •  A number of the product placements are a little bit annoying. They opened story points and introduced characters that were largely unnecessary. What was that big bank transfer to Gino for? What is the relevance of those kids in Trixie’s new house to the story, and how were they related to her? The only product placement I liked, if ever it was really a placement, was that of San Miguel Beer… it belonged appropriately to the scenes that it was included in.
  • I liked the way they structured the movie, where the flow is not chronological. It’s reminiscent of how “100 Days of Summer” was structured, jumping between different points of the story. Was it effective for this particular movie? In a way, yes. They started the whole movie with the most critical part of the characters’ love story. For the rest of the movie, the viewer is left waiting for the reasons how and why they reached that critical part.
  • The actors played the characters well. I believe Sarah Geronimo has greatly improved in her acting, and Piolo Pascual has greatly improved in his singing. Haha. You know what I mean. But my favorite of all is Jett Pangan. I don’t know, I just liked him there.
  • The basis of the story they used for the movie is good and something a lot can very much relate to. However, I think it was a little bit half-baked. The character development and key transitions could have been better. Why did Trixie go back to him in the end just like nothing happened? What was Trixie doing at present time? Why did it take three years for them to have another chance at a reconciliation? What happened to Trixie’s dad and how did it affect her? So many other questions opened by the movie that were never answered.
  • What happened in the three years that they were apart? That was a big black hole for me. I think the movie “One More Chance” did a better job at showing what happened during the gap.
  • Perhaps the “theme” of the movie was very obvious from start to end… it was music, and it was the song “Paano ba ang magmahal?” How many times was that song sung in the movie? I’m not complaining though, it’s a good key element, and it gave me an LSS that will probably last for at least a week. I also like their selection of songs, and their arrangement and performances. TBH, I’m listening to their playlist on Spotify now, and now on the third loop, I think (helps with the writing of this article actually).

Okay, the bloody part done. Here are the key scenes I’ll remember from the movie:

  • “With a smile” song (originally by Eraserheads). This will always be a memorable personal song, and I love how the song fit in to the right parts and corners of the movie. I’m brought back to those sad (or even depressing) moment of my life when a friend comes around with a guitar to sing that to me.
  • Those memorable lines that started with “can you just do me a favor and [get out of my life]?” It has just enough drama. I can pretty much imagine the line being used in real life (fortunately it has never been used by either side in my past relationships). I did envy that confrontation though. It was much better than having someone just disappear without saying anything aside from a text message… (place #hugot here)
  • Three years is actually short if you talk about love and breakups. Sometimes the moving on and the forgetting takes more time than the actual relationship.
  • Falling in love because of music? Agree, it happens.

One thing that the movie made me feel is it made me miss my music. Yes, I was (or am?) a musician. Back in high school I used to jam with some friends. I played the guitar. I also know how to play the piano and have started learning how to play the violin at one point. I love singing (although I can’t really judge if I am any good at it). Playing in a band was a high school dream. Some high school friends did pursue that road. However, it was the university degree and the professional life that I went for. No regrets though. But it would be nice to find a chance to jam again in the future, I hope I still have the music.

The verdict for the movie? It’s worth watching, but not a “must watch”. It’s entertaining, a little bit heart wrenching, a little bit sappy at times, and of course it stars Piolo Pascual. Worth the trip to the cinema if traffic and flooding are not a problem.

Of Weddings and Wedding Singers

My dream wedding singer is Basil Valdez. If you know his songs and you know how beautiful his voice is, you’ll understand where I’m coming from. And when I once met his manager through a friend, I knew this wasn’t impossible. But then again, if ever I end up marrying someone who does not understand Tagalog / Filipino, his songs may end up too foreign.

I also once wished to have The Bloomfields as my wedding band. That was once when I was still with my then-boyfriend (now ex-) and we regularly watched Bloomfields’ gigs. They had nice and sweet songs too. But perhaps they’re no longer a good option for me, eh? 

Then there is my good friend Michael (who I fondly call “Bear”). He’s my mega-talented friend (and this is still an understatement). Way back in college I already asked him to sing at my wedding, and he agreed. I will eventually hold him to that promise. I’ve seen him and his girlfriend perform at our friends’ weddings, and they simply sound heavenly. 

I’ve thought of wedding songs too. I’ve previously had some friends ask for advice on what songs would be good to use at their weddings. Sometimes they do take my advice and the songs turn out nice. I do take care, of course, to never give away a few specific songs I dream to use for my own. 

My own wedding is still not in the horizon though. I have yet to find my groom-to-be, but no rush. So I’ll just decide on the details when it finally comes around. 

I had great opportunity last night to sing at a friend’s wedding reception, my first time ever. Since the bride and groom are non-traditional and planned to have mostly alternative music in their lineup, I opted to choose a song that fit somehow. I originally planned to sing “Lovesong” by the Cure / Adele, and was already practicing it. However, I was drawn so much to “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran, tried it out, and singing it felt great. The bride and groom agreed to the change, and I started to practice the new song. I think I pulled it off somehow, although I did forget a line. Hehe. Oh well. What is important is they enjoyed it. 

Congrats to Erick and Jona, and thanks so much for allowing me to be part of your wedding! 

(The love of) Miss Saigon

I couldn’t help but post something about Miss Saigon right now. I’m totally fangirling over Lea Salonga at the moment (with her ongoing concerts with Il Divo singing “A Whole New World”, the Miss Saigon anniversary, and her other stuff resurfacing on social media right now), but that’s an entirely different story. For now I’ll tell you why Miss Saigon is close to my heart.

MissSaigonPosterI was very fortunate to have watched Miss Saigon when it had its run here in Manila way back in 2000. I was in 4th year high school then, and there were discounted tickets available to us at school through the school foundation for a specific screening date, so I grabbed the chance. It was the first ever international musical theatre production I have ever watched. It was also a wonderful chance, because it was Lea Salonga who was playing the lead character Kim when we watched. I also remember Isay Alvarez as Gigi and Leo Valdez as the Engineer.

I know I loved every bit of it. And when the ending came, I was shocked. I said, “bakit walang nagsabi sakin na ganito kalungkot ang ending nito?” (“why didn’t anyone tell me this had tragic ending?”). I never researched the story before I watched it. I was caught off-guard with the tragic ending, and I cried my eyes out. I was 16, and I could never forget that.

I have always been a frustrated performing artist since my early childhood. Miss Saigon fueled this desire a little more. It made me want to be in musical theatre. Specifically, my ultimate dream role was to be Gigi of Miss Saigon (not Kim, mind you). The singing, the dancing, the acting… all of those are things I would’ve love to do out of sheer passion. Unfortunately, my life was not meant for that direction, and instead I took up and finished my engineering degree and worked in the corporate world. I would still dance every now and then, sing in the shower or at home when no one’s around, or sing karaoke when there’s a chance. But I’ve never been anywhere close to performing in the musical theatre…

I also grab chances when there are good productions to watch. I was able to watch Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, and Lion King in Singapore. I also watched Mamma Mia here in Manila. I saw the local production of Avenue Q. Every time I watch beautiful productions like these, I have a great appreciation for them. On top of that, my desire to perform in similar productions is ignited a little bit, but I just contain it because the situation never gave me an opportunity to be a musical theatre performer.

I wonder if that opportunity will ever come…

Also, I totally want to watch Miss Saigon again. If I could just buy a ticket to London anytime soon… :p

Anyway, here’s a link to the wonderful Miss Saigon 25th Anniversary Gala Finale:


Love at the end of the rainbow

I don’t know if it’s a good idea, but I think it’s the option I should consider at the moment. Putting the “lovelife” (or the absence of it) in the back-burner at the moment and focusing on a bigger, more important goal.

The last time I told myself to go on a romantic hiatus was so long ago. And though I have been single the past seven (7) years, I have always been open to the possibility of finding it sometime, somewhere around the corner. At this point, maybe in a way, I’ve become a little bit (or so much) tired of thinking of (and trying to chase after) that “love of my life”. Albeit I do not intend to give up altogether and I do still believe that it exists, I have to put it on hold.

I have to chase my own rainbow. And when I have climbed over that rainbow and reached the end, perhaps the love will come thereafter. This shouldn’t take long. When all of this is over, perhaps finding love wouldn’t be much of a trouble anymore. And when I find him, love shall be an open door.

“Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me.”

Friday Madness – Daydream Sequence

A very interesting ending to a very long week and a very long last workday. I rarely write about nonsensical personal experiences, but tonight I shall make an exception just for kicks.

Went home from work via my usual route – a walk to the MRT station, a “long” MRT ride, a shuttle ride to our subdivision, and a short walk home. For tonight, my entire trip was made by my self, with company from my beloved music player and headphones. Adele was tonight’s my music of choice.

Adele, my lonesome, and the busy train. What a crazy, interesting combination. My daydream-y self kicks in again. I could vividly imagine myself singing Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” loudly in the train, with feelings. Well, not just with feelings, but a complete production number, like those scenes you see on Glee. And the strangers in the crowd were the doo-wop to my song. Read back from the start of this paragraph slowly and imagine it in your head.

Of course, it does not end there. The entire commute still included the shuttle ride and a short walk from our village gate to the house. Adele kept on playing. I found it quite hard keeping myself from actually singing out loud and grooving to the songs.

Okay, enough of the nonsense. I hope you were at the very least amused or entertained, hopefully not appalled or nauseous. Pardon my occasional craziness. :p

Friday Madness – A letter to my future husband part-2

Perhaps it’s a good time to post part-2 of my “letter to my future husband” series. This was written way back in December 3, 2011, almost 2 years ago. And Christmas will be coming soon too. Still, I don’t know where he is yet, or where to find him. And yet, I just stay steadfast in hoping that he’s just out there somewhere. I’ll meet him someday soon.

To my future husband,

I’m taking a bus ride home. Yes, I’ve been riding the public transport lately because my car have yet to be fixed, but don’t worry about me, I’m ok taking the bus alone, as long as I take it at a good time.

December has just started. Each day brings us nearer that longed-after day of the year. And yes, save for one Christmas four years ago, all Christmases in my history were happy days. And I can’t help imagine how wonderful to get to that Christmas that will finally bring you to me.

It would be such a wonderful day, that first Christmas that I would be spending with you. I replay it again and again in my head, that Christmas waltz being sung by She and Him. I dance across that small living room with you, my love. Just dancing cheek to cheek with you, my right hand in your warm left hand, and your right hand firm at the base of my spine. You ask me to forgive you for not being a great dancer, and I answer that you’re doing just fine. A smile. A mild laugh. A giggle. I love simple moments like these.

But you won’t be around this Christmas. I do not know who you are yet. You haven’t found me yet. Or have you found me already but not realize it? I would never know. But don’t worry about me, it will still be a happy, merry Christmas. The entire family will be here, and good friends are near. I’ll be able to prepare my favorite Christmas goodies, decorate the house, and wrap the Christmas presents. We’re finishing our museum this December too. So many blessings.

Each Christmas brings both joy and longing as I wait for that someday I’ll be spending Christmas with you. God’s gift, I hope to see you soonest, ok?

The Phantom of the Opera (is there, inside your mind)

Have you heard? The Phantom of the Opera is finally coming to Manila!

Oh yes I am pretty excited, but will not be able to watch it myself anymore. Finances got in the way. But I have been very lucky to watch it five years ago when they staged it in the Esplanade Theatres in Singapore, by the British production (oh yes, I got to watch it before everyone else in Manila did!). Incidentally it was just a few weeks after the most recent Phantom of the Opera movie was shown in cinemas. I was able to watch the movie prior to the stage production. I may say the movie was wonderfully made… but the stage production was way beyond the beauty on screen.

I will not do spoilers here. You may think there can’t be anymore spoilers because everyone knows the story from the movie. But I may say, they were able to do some amazing things on stage that were way beyond my imagination, a lot of effects that were better on stage than on screen.

If you’re Manila-based and a lover of music, arts, theatre, and the like, and you have not watched this yet elsewhere, you should not miss this. It’s running from August 26 to September 30 at the CCP Main Theatre. (Tickets?)

Now that they’re bringing the good stuff to Manila lately, I’m hoping that they will bring in (or bring back) the following sometime soon:

  • Avenue Q – I’ve heard the Filipino cast is doing a run in Singapore! This is truly a must-watch, especially for my generation
  • Miss Saigon – I was able to watch this way back in high school, with Lea Salonga still playing. Would be good to bring this back, even with someone other than Lea Salonga. I loooooove Gigi’s role by the way, it’s my dream role if ever I get to be part of a production.
  • Wicked – This is the one I watched most recently, just last April in Singapore, and it was really worth it.
  • Next to Normal – I have not been able to watch it yet, and I’ve heard a lot of good feedback about it. I’m hoping to catch it the next time it shows. Bringing tons of tissue as advised.

I’d love to see a lot more other broadway productions and stage plays. Most of the good ones I was able to watch in Singapore these past few years (Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, and Lion King). Would be nice to have more of them here in Manila. It would also be great to be able to experience watching abroad on my future trips. 🙂