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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.


Disorientation and Familiarity


It was my day-off, and that means it’s my catch-up day. and you know what it means? It means; it is the one day of my life where a get to be normal, go to the mall like a normal human being, see a new movie, sleeping till my eye hurts, catch up with the news, etc. So after waking up and found myself so busy doing nothing. With my bag containing my  laptop slunged on my shoulders, I went out of the house like an excited teenager with a raging hormone.

I arrived at Robinsons Pioneer an hour later, and the catching up began.  Movies (watched 3 movies in a row), Lunch (once a week I treat myself with food I could barely afford, hehe!) and window shopping (just look and not buy). Though there are a lot of better malls around like Megamall, Glorietta, Trinoma, Gateway, etc. Pioneer is the mall that I feel really at home with.  It remind me so much of Tuguegarao. It’s small compared to other malls, it remind of Brickstone Mall, its not congested and most of all its free wireless internet (they call the place cybergate sometimes). Just bring your own laptop and you can sit anywhere inside the mall and surf to sawa.

I got out of the movie house past 7:00 PM, It’s time for some free internet. I passed by the nearest french bakery and bought a coffee and two pieces of bagel. I chose an isolated bench and began surfing.  It’s time to catch up with the events. so I surfed news after news, from yahoo news to CNN to Local dailies sites, the Inquirer to the Philippine star to Sunstar Cebu.  After reading some pages, I am feeling some discomfort but I dont know why. Then it dawned on me; Its disorientation coupled with some sort of familiarity. Some things has been there too long, they are not that good but due to familiarity they now seem normal. I looked out the window and saw two street children playing at the front garden of the mall.  “They should be home by now if they have a home” I told myself .  I know that If I get out right now, these two boys will approach me and would ask for some change.  And what will they that do with the money? I am not really sure, they might buy food or they might buy some rugby. Either or both.  Its not right, but because solvent boys had become common sight in the streets of the metro, they now seem to normal. They would ask for money, when you try to give them food, they would not accept it. Give them the money and they would not even say thank you. What have we become? I feel something haevy on my chest, hopelessness is not a feeling I am use to.

I closed my laptop. leaned back, took a deep breath and exhaled.  There is no use.  I came here to catch up with the current events that seemed to pass me by, but the truth is. I’m not missing anything at all.  Today’s new was yesterdays news. History is still current events.  Nothing really changes.  You open up the pages and you see politicians bickering about the same old political hoopla that is self conjured.  You read about robbery, graft and corruptions, rape, murder, war and all the stuff that that will make you think society or humanity as a whole is on the self-destruct mode.  We are still clinging to the pseudo-reality that our self destruction is just a matter of time and the clock is ticking. but come to think of it, the clock has been ticking for quite sometime now, and, the thing is that, it might not stop ticking.  It might be all ticks and no boom. maybe we have learned to thrive in constant chaos. maybe, if i stay in my room for 20 years, no radio, no television, no newspaper, I will still be able to tell the news like I read it just today.  The printed names will be different, but the sad story will still be the same. We are hopeless.

I Packed my laptop and went out of the mall. I left my untouched coffee cup on the bench, grabbed the bag of bagels and headed for the nearest exit. It is time to go home. The night air is warm.  As I make my way past the two street boys, they stood up and approached me.  with their palms trusted in-front of me, I joked “Ano? pang solvent?”, the smaller of the two responded “hindi kuya!” as i reached on my pocket for the 5 peso coin, the older of the two smiled and said “hindi kuya, pangtawid gutom lang, wag na pera, yang tinapay na lang, di pa kami kumakain eh”  pointing at the the bagel inside the plastic bag.  I stared at him with, maybe, a hint of disbelief showing on my face.  he stared back at me with the are-you-on-drugs kind of stare. I handed him the bag, to my surprise, they said “thank you kuya“.  I boarded the bus home with a stupid smile. “That is something” I whispered. Perhaps, I was wrong in a way, I woke up early to catch up with the news, in the end, I caught up with the truth. yes. maybe I’m wrong. The baggage that I carried in my chest seemed to have vanished in thin air, but the smile never left my face. With a palpable sigh I found myself whispering “Perhaps there is still hope