Tag Archives: Siryus Mud

The Window


The old room is long gone now, but the window is still there. The old office of the Louisian Courier (official student publication of the University of St. Louis) at the 4th floor was torn down years ago. It gave way to the bridge that now connects the library and the E building. The entire back wall was torn down but the left wall was left untouched. The wall where the window is located. 

I can still remember how I use to stand infront of the window looking down the covered walk. Watching the going and coming of the students through the front gates of the University of Saint Louis Tuguegarao.  I remember how the falling leaves of the old Acacia tree pass before my before my eyes before it gently hit the concrete pavement below. I can still remember the countless times when I was thinking of something to write. How I stood infront of the window, trying to draw inspiration from the outside world through its rectagular frame.

I learned some basic lessons on how to play the games of life inside that old office, with that window as a witness. I remember, I was peaking trough that window one day when when my former school paper adviser and mentor- Dr. Ferdi Cortez (he was not yet the the adviser during that time) told me, “You are doing the right thing. It is easy to look for inspiration when every question lies down there and you are up here looking down.” He told this to me out of jest. He was on his usual playful mood that day. I smiled about it, but I know deep down inside me that he is right. Birds eyeview. That’s how they call it. It’s like being an observer in a game of chess. The players don’t see the scenario as clearly as you do when you are just the spectator. From that day on, Everytime I was looking for answers, I consult the window.

The window became the silent witness on everything that happened in that old office. I remember my first Editor-in-chief, Rex Lallata. and I remember the after dark bull sessions inside the office. I remember how I was put to a hot seat infront of the editorial board for an interview that turned out to be an initiation of some sort. I remember the informal tutorial in using Adobe Photoshop and Pagemaker from Rex. The tutorial that I later used when we both worked in a printing press.  We were passionate with the school paper. To say that we are a devout louisian staffers is an understatement. It is on that room the we ploted how to confront the school administration about our rights with only the campus journalism act as our only ammunition. We pushed as hard as we could and got away with it. looking back today, It all seems funny. Yet, come to think of it,  I learned so much on that entire experience. So much that when I was selected as the editor, I thought I knew everything. I felt invincible.

It’s infront of that window that I finally understood the difference of winning and losing, and how they are not so different after all.

Today I visited the University. I passed infront of the new Louisian office on the ground floor of the San Jacinto building. The new office got a window but it’s still in the ground floor. I saw new faces discussing old student problem. Then I saw that old plaque gathering dust on top of our old cabinet. The Award for Best Student Publication for Luzon during the First CHED Press Conference in Laguna. That was during my first year in the publication. Rex’s golden year, our golden year.  I looked for Dr. Cortez but he is not around. I made my way toward the stairs, racing myself straight to the 4th floor. My legs has aged a little but it still feels good running up the old familiar stairs.

The old room is long gone now, but the window is still there. The old feeling coming back after all these years. after several minutes of standing infront of that window, I descended the stairs feeling renewed. I did what I came there to do. But I still need to do one thing before I go. I went directly to the Louisian office. The staffers are still there. Still discussing the same thing. I barely nod at them and went straight to the cabinet. I pulled out my hanky and wiped the dust off that old plaque. After cleaning the plaque, I went out without saying a word. Their discussion stopped abruptly. They are all staring at me not comprehending what just happened.  They will be asking each other who I was? and they will discuss what I did. They will ask some questions. They will try to look for answers. But it will not be easy. To find the answers, they would need to dig deep to that years old magazines, or maybe ask Dr. Cortez or Mr. Jimenez or maybe, Just maybe. They will need to consult the window, as I did eons ago.


A Long Way Home


I was two hours early for my trip bound to Tuguegarao. I feel like a teenager about to attend his first JS prom. Sitting on the weathered bench at the Victory Liner Bus Terminal, I could barely wait to get aboard.   It has been a while since Ive been home. I stopped counting the days a long time ago. I finally adjusted to the stressful life of Imperial Manila. I have learned how to loosen up and have a little fun. I tell you. It was not easy.
I was and still is a full blooded probinsyano. As they say; You could move the person out of the province, but you could not move the province out of the person. Especially if the province is  home to good memories.
At 9:30 PM, after the what seems to be the longest wait for a bus ride in my entire life, the terminal barker finally called for our bus number. As I was making my way to the bus, I can’t help but notice the long line of passengers still trying to get a ticket. Everyone eager to get out of Manila, in time to be with Families for the All souls and All saints day.  It is a long weekend. Everyone wants to take advantage of the little break. Look into their faces, both the young and the old, and you will see the stress from waiting in long lines. Yet underneath the surface, you could sense the excitement and anticipation. Like me, They too are going home.
The atmosphere inside the bus is no different. I could feel the adrenalin rush, the excited chatter all around me is a testament to that. I hear the sing-song tempo of the Ibanag of the Isabelinos, the steady rhythm of the Ibanag of Tuguegarao, the pleasing sound of Ilocano and the beat of the Itawes tongue. After getting bombarded with Tagalog and English in every turn for the whole year, those dialects are music to the ear. Those Dialects is what makes Cagayan Valley the Cagayan Valley I know.  Amidst the sweet chaos of the native tongues, you could hear almost the same Idea. It’s Fun Fun Fun. People planing what they are going to cook for the gathering, when they visit their departed love ones at the cemetery. Some talk about visiting old friends. Some talk about funny but good memories. Some talk about their kids meeting their grandparents and relatives for the first time. I can’t help but smile. how funny it is that we find a way to celebrate life on the day of the dead. It is ironic but it is good.I woke up at around 6:00 PM day before my trip. I work a grave yard shift in my company. After the shift, I went to the mall to get some pasalubong for the people at home. Needless to say, I was awake for more than 24 hours and counting.  I planned to sleep once I get my butt on the bus seat. But with all the adrenalin and the excitement around me, Sleep sounds like a wishful thinking. 
As the bus hit the road, I busied myself on the plans of my own.  After the driver turned off the lights, I was thinking what I am going to do? who am I going to see? and other stuff like it. Then I think about Tuguegarao. I call it Extreme Tuguegarao. Extreme because when it’s hot, it’s really hot. But when it’s cold, even your soul will feel the chill. I had lots of happy memories in that place. I had a number of bad memories too, but I learned from them…or at least I tried to. That was my last thoughts before the coldness and the darkness of the bus sway me to sleep.
I was pulled out from the middle of my dream by a gentle tap on my shoulder. It was the bus conductor, telling me we have arrived in Tuguegarao. I arched my brow. It can’t be. I barely closed my eyes. How could we arrived so fast? Still in state of disbelief, I stepped out of the bus. the morning sun is now shining brightly. I was still dizzy. I waved to a passing tricycle and told the driver where I’m going. With a knowing eyes, he looked at me and asked “Piga sangaw y’yawa mu?(how much are you willing to pay?)”. I looked at him and began laughing. Yes, I am in Tuguegarao. I am home.

E-Heads Generation


I use to wonder why my father, together with my uncles and friends, would tend to blurt and croon with old Hotdogs or Rico J. Puno or Apo Hiking Society song over the karaoke during their drinking sessions. The songs are so corny.  It brings me goosebumps just to listen to those tunes.  I would often ask myself how on earth could someone like, or worse, love that kind of song? its poetic alright, but it’s passe. As a part of the so called generation X, those songs are so totally uncool. I can’t even imagine myself listening to those song even just for kicks. But that was eons ago. Everytime I shout corny when my father sings, he would just look at me and smile, a smile that I never understood what for.He’ll grab the microphone and would begin to sing anyway. Now I think I have finally found the wisdom to finally understand.

I remember the time when I was in the sixth grade, I was so skinny then. My blue and white pair of uniform hang loosely on my body as if it’s going to fall off any time. The weight of my backpack seems to double mine but I was unmindful of its weight, the sun shines with such cruelty but that too was not an issue to me, I was too excited to go.  Everyday at noon I stop by that old macopa tree, I would sit on the makeshift kawayan bench under it, and stare at the pink fibers from the flowers of macopa strewn majestically all over the place, There I would patiently wait for manong Marlo to come out. I could already hear the music of Yano playing over his stereo, but that’s not what I was there for. An as if on a cue, Manong Marlo would come out and would look directly under the macopa tree, I would wave my hands to him and he would respond with a nod, and with a knowing smile on his face. After a few minutes, Yano’s music would stop and the voice of Ely Buendia and the music of the heads would fill the air.

I would sit there unmindful of the time, humming with the tune of Toyang and Pare ko. The seemingly unpolished sound of the heads’ music had a calming effect on me. God knows how much I wanted to have a copy of that first album called ultraelectromagneticpop, but as a twelve years old, I don’t have that kind of money, I even don’t have the money to ride the calesa back then. I went to school on foot and go home the same way. Life was harder then. My parents, though they tried not to show it to us, are trying to make both ends meet.  My mother’s dry goods business is barely earning and my father’s furniture business is struggling. those were tough times. And even though I could have found a way to save some money and buy the album, I couldn’t have found a way to listen to it. We don’t even have a cassete player at home back then. So there I was, Hugging the music, feeling the hot wind kissing my twelve year old cheeks, finding solace with the Eraserheads under the old macopa tree. After a while, I would see manong Marlo waving at me and pointing at his old wristwatch. It is time to go home, I still have to go to the school in the afternoon. So I pick up my bag, wave manong Marlo goodbye and thank you and race myself home.

During my high school days, me and my friends would sing and humm with the songs from the Circus album, songs like Kailan, Magasin, Alapaap, With A Smile and Sembreak could be heard all over the vegetable garden, Those songs would make working in the field and tending vegetable plots (Gardening was part of our High School Carriculum) bearable. They made high school hip and cool.

After high school I began collecting their album, the album cutterpillow became my favorite, but just the same I got all their album from the Ultraelectromagneticpop to their EP called  Banana Type up to their last album called carbon stereoxide, The Eheads is the band of our time. 

In 2002, the band announced their disbandment and It broke a lot of hearts, especially mine. I can hardly believe my ears as I watch and paid attention to every word the TV newscaster is saying. The band that defined our generation is no more.  Raymund Marasigan went on and fronted the band Sandwich, Buddy Zabala joined The Dawn, Marcus Adoro formed his own band called Markus Hiway, and Ely Buendia formed The Mongols and later Pupils. And me? I moved on as well. After sometime I forgot about the heads and drowned myself with work.

Just last week while me and my friends went out for lunch in Sugpuan, we decided to try the Karaoke. They pushed the mike in my face egging me to sing first. Not wanting to play the part of a Killjoy, I grabbed the microphone, chose a song and dropped a five peso coin on the coin slot.  its is s song that I haven’t heard for quite sometime now.  The song “with a smile” began with a simple guitar rift, The Intro of the song alone brings me someplace else, some other time, another life that I though was gone forever. It brought me back to the singing at the vegetable garden. Back under that old macopa tree.  I feel so young again, way young, when everything is simple and uncomplicated. those were tough times, but those were happy times. As the song continue, I heard a collective sound of “eeeeeeeewwwww!!!” all around me. I faced my some of my companions and said “what’s wrong with the song?”.  Then I realized, that even though the age gap is not that big (Im in my mid-twentys),  some of my companions are in a different generation some of them are still their late teens to early twenties, they listen to other bands like Hale or Bamboo or whatever band that dominates the airwaves nowadays.  The Days of the Eraserheads is a history to them just like my father’s Rico J and The Hotdog’s song are passe to me. I looked at them and smiled, I remember my father smiling at me the same way before. I grabbed the microphone and sang my heart out anyway. It is my song, my generation.  I think Ifinally found the wisdom to understand the song and my father’s smile. It’s not about how old the song is or how corny the singer feels, It’s about the time, the place and most of all, it’s about the agelessness of the heart.