Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Resident Heartthrobs




The best part of my weekday is when I get home from work and Yoshi opens the door for me and gives me a big hug and slobbering kiss and Boots can hardly wait for me to be out of my ugly uniform and screams until I get him from Ann. In fair weather, all three of us would go out for a walk around the neighborhood, with Yosh sometimes in his bike, and Boots sometimes in his stroller, but often with just me lugging him around (my golly, he’s a heavy baby) and Yosh happily bouncing along beside us, stopping every once in a while to do his ninja kicks or superhero stunts or whatever.

Yosh talks a mile a minute too. He’d ask me his baffling issues for the day (“Mommy, meron bang boy na cockroach?” or “Pag 100 years old na ko, will you still be my mommy?” or “Late na ba si Daddy?” [bcoz he knows if Ches is late I’m going to be in a fighting mode again hahaha]). Recently he asked me, “Rich ba tayo, Mommy?” Which was a real laugh-out-loud funny question. I categorically replied, no, but we’re happy, aren’t we? To which he nodded vigorously. I patiently explained to him that it’s not important to be rich, what matters is we’re not hurting anyone, and we always try to be good boys and girls, and we pray all the time, and it’s enough that we can eat what we want and travel and buy nice clothes and books and toys. And I think I do a pretty good parenthood job of it, until the following week when he asks me again, “So, Mommy, rich na ba tayo?” Like he’s following up and already impatient at what’s taking me so long to get us rich pronto. (Hahaha.) So then I give another long and exasperated speech that he just brushes off with a “Relax!” Groan. I hate it when he tells me to relax. He makes me feel as tho I’m this super-stressed so-serious adult instead of the fun and cool dude that I like to pretend to be.

After the questions he launches into his latest exploits with his busmates or classmates. They’re not particularly unusual adventures for pre-schoolers, but what cracks us up when he’s in the mood to tell us these stories is, he never just talks about Mariah or Antonio, it’s always Mariah Isabella E. Quiambao or Antonio Valdimir S. Castino. (As in, “Mommy, you know, si Mariah Isabella E. Quiambao, ayaw mag-share ng materials”.) He’s a riot thru-and thru, our first-born.

Oh, but then sometimes he’d get this sudden inspiration and say, “Mommy, I have a brilliant idea...” and proceed to pull me and Boots along to the direction of Mc Donald’s so he can get his darned Happy Meals. (They really work, these Happy Meals. Never failed to make Yosh happy.)

Sometimes too Yosh decides not to come along and prefers to stay home with his activity books or cartoon shows or action figures or whatever. It’s times like these when Ches and I realize it was the absolute perfect time to have Boots, coz at least we have another baby who’ll go with us anywhere. And we’ve taken him everywhere – HK, Macau, our anniversary dates, our Quiapo DVD shopping sprees. (About the only thing I can remember not bringing him to was the Eraserheads concert, and he wouldn’t have been allowed there.) While Yosh clearly thrived in crowds early on (he would coo and giggle at people behind us in church way back when he was just this little baby), Boots loves going places and would at first be quiet and curiously looking all around him, until he warms up and starts screaming and flailing about in delight.

Of course, as his parents, Ches and I think Boots is perfect in every way. We love the way he’s always clapping his hands together like he’s the poster child for happy and healthy breastfed babies (I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night to find him sitting up beside me and clapping at the lamp shade), and the way he shakes his head when you say no no no (one of his earliest self-taught tricks, which he does even in sleep), and the way he snuggles up to whoever is carrying him (earning him the nickname Koala Bear from Tita Jaja), and even the way he jumps up and down and bangs his little body all around his playpen (that always scares Pops into thinking the whole thing will crash down). We love the little dimples that form on both his cheeks when he smiles, and his six little front teeth, and his fine, straight hair that stands up in the direction he slept in. Even his perennial thumb-sucking has grown on us.

They play together now, Boots and Yosh. A far cry from when Boots was a newborn and Yosh declared a state of rebellion and would surreptitiously attempt to mangle the baby in some permanently damaging way the minute our backs are turned. Now they have this game where Yosh cups his hand on Boots' mouth and Boots promptly blabbers on and on and makes sounds like Tarzan (as assisted by his kuya King Kong). Boots also gets a kick out of pulling Yoshi's hair and Yosh just lets him, until this weekend when he had his haircut and he insisted on having his head shaved coz he claimed that Boot's hair-pulling antics gave him headaches. So now he’s going around again like those happy Buddha statues with their round bellies and bald heads. Mom says it seems the two boys have realized that they're brothers and not just two kids who happened to live under the same roof and share the same (insert here: loving, wonderful) parents.

I just know my boys are going to be breaking girls’ hearts in their time. And I envision myself right behind them, playing the evil-kneevil mommy and laughing like a hyena at all these girls who - if it were solely up to me - will never, ever measure up.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hang-over

When you’re manic about something, it merits at least two blogs.

And manic just about sums up how I’ve been about the Eheads since the reunion concert almost two weeks ago. It was like falling in love all over again with the fab four. First off I bought Ches the two anthology CDs. (The best gift to give is always the kind that you also get to use and enjoy hahaha.) I’ve always been a big fan but I never bought any of their records for myself. I was just happy freeloading from Rino who bought each and every tape as soon as it came out. He even has Bananatype which I hear is like an endangered species now. He even has the Fruitcake story book which I remember getting for him one Christmas or on his birthday. He played the tapes over and over at home and when we went on road trips to Pangasinan and at night when I squatted in his room.

But then the anthologies didn’t have some of the lesser-known songs that I also love like Fill Her and Christmas Morning and Back to Me so I had to go and buy the rest of the CDs as well. I wanted to stop at Sticker Happy coz after that it was like their music became dark and serious and no longer the fun songs about all these shallow stuff that I went mad over in college. But then I thought whaddaheck why not buy all eight CDs while they were still available and cheap. After all I had just earned some moolah from this silly annual awards thing for mid-level managers in the office and it’s about time I buy me something instead of – err, in addition to – the usual clothes and shoes and bags and jewelries that I reward myself with in the three or so times that I’ve been lucky enough to get this award. And besides, I was thinking, the CDs are a good investment for when the boys reach their teens and clamor for Eheads music the way we clamor for our parents’ Beatles songs until now.

I even went on a search for the elusive E-heads book, Tikman ang Langit, and luckily found nice new copies in Fully Booked. It’s actually a compilation of essays written by Eheads fanatics and it was amazing to see how the Eheads have affected a lot of us in diverse and deeply personal ways. One guy wrote about how he hoped the rest of the world treated gays like him the way the Eheads did in Hey Jay. Another gave the band credit for bridging the gap between the coño and the masa in his college in UP Baguio bcoz everyone came together to listen to Eheads music. This guy was proven so right the night of the concert, with all kinds of people present – people from showbiz, politics, serious art critic types, heavy metal smoker types, rich kid lawyer types from Ateneo whom I’ve met at one time or the other, tho from where Ches and I stood it was mostly head-banger perennial PG (patay gutom) types like ourselves from UP (hahaha).

Still another claimed that he was doing a thesis for a girl he liked when Ligaya came out, learning to drive when Overdrive became a hit, and was in Baclaran the first time he heard Magasin. (What a riot. Whether this guy is telling the truth or not - which I have no reason to doubt he is but then you never know what fanaticism can do to your view of reality - you have to give him credit for his imagination.) A girl thanked the Eheads for their music that eases her homesickness abroad. She wrote about how hearing Ligaya again after years of imbibing only foreign music gave her “goose bumps the size of China” and was like “tumbling into bed with Viggo Mortensen after interminably chaste years in a Tibetan monastery”. (Hahaha. My kind of writer.)

My favorite was written by this girl who gave advice on how to be the girl in an Eheads song: fall from grace and end up in Tiktik (like the girl in Magasin), lead a tragic life (Ang Huling El Bimbo), break hearts and balls with great relish (Pare Ko), be mysterious and/or nuts (Julie Tearjerky/Shirley), make like a good girl (Toyang). Too bad this sage advice came a tad too late. If we had known a decade or so earlier, then maybe some of us girls would’ve stood a better chance at ending up in an Eheads song. Sigh.

And then there were all the materials to be had about the Eheads in the internet. I’m betting the volume and traffic doubled after the now historic reunion concert. I read about how a lot of people were actually crying unabashedly while singing along with the group, and how the crowd estimate was closer to 60k than the earlier reported figure of 25k, and how there were people who flew all the way from abroad just to see the concert. My very own sister called me up the minute she read my blog and went into a tirade about how unfair it was that I got to go to the concert and she couldn’t when she had all this money to spare. (Hahaha. Too bad, ate. Walang Eheads sa States.)

It was also hilarious learning about how the concert actually had quite the effects – the band was hoisted on to the stage on a platform as the countdown ended, the impressive video wall and play of lights, all these stuff that we missed from our vantage point. (Mental note: befriend a big-timer from the music industry now to get to the VIP section next time.)

Oh but it doesn’t really matter, not being able to see all this spectacle. We were there to relive the music. And that we got. Loads of it. It doesn’t even matter that these guys have split up and categorically deny (or at least from Raymund’s end) any plans of getting back together in the immediate future, notwithstanding the certainty of windfalls from records and rackets should they reunite, and despite the pleas of 60 million diehard fans. They don’t owe us anything anyway. (If anything, we owe them.) They’re entitled to their own happiness like the rest of us. Besides, part of their charms is that they never gave us any showbiz answers to any of our showbiz inquisitions. It doesn’t matter that they didn’t give in to our demands for a group hug or that we didn’t get to see the second set where they were supposed to play Magasin and Overdrive and Para sa Masa and end with Ang Huling El Bimbo. It doesn’t matter that 6 years after The Split they still refuse to reveal the reason why and simply answer: Huwag Mo Nang Itanong.

We love the Eheads anyway.

We’ll always, always love them.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Dear Eraserheads




The blog wasn’t supposed to be this way. I was supposed to write about how Ches and I were so excited to see the Eraserheads’ reunion concert the minute we heard of it and how on the night itself after going round and round the Fort we could hardly wait to snatch a parking slot and get going already, never mind that we had an hour or so to spare before the concert started.

But then after the break from the first set Buddy took the mic and introduced the rest of the band (not that they needed any intros to us diehard fans) and a sister of Ely. When I heard that I already got this sinking feeling that something wrong had happened. She apologized that they had to cut the concert short bcoz he had to be rushed to the hospital. The organizer asked for a minute of silence to pray for him. For a while after that everyone just stood there, not moving or saying anything. The organizer again took the mic to advise everyone to proceed to the nearest exit, but even after repeating this over and over, people still stood there anyway.

It was surreal.

After a while I heard somebody joke, “Sandwich na lang!” On our way out a girl was bemoaning, “Di ko pa narinig ang Minsan…” (My guess is she spent her UP freshman days in Kalayaan.) I didn’t hear anyone complain of being short-changed tho after getting only half of the concert we paid for. I guess that will be the height of bad manners, considering. But my golly the first set was already well worth the measly P1300/P800 we shelled out for the ticket! Hello! This is THE Eraserheads! Who would even have imagined they would ever reunite, and much less so soon? The Eheads blazed the trail for all these alternative/punk/indie bands who can now go up the stage in just their everyday shirts and jeans and sneakers and sing about anything from the totally inane to the dangerously subversive and we pay to listen to them and they have fun and we have fun and it’s all good. I can’t even imagine life before the Eheads – Pinoy music was probably just all these boring love songs and remakes and American music rip-offs.

As far as Ches and I are concerned, the Eheads are the Pinoy Beatles. Just like with Beatles songs, you can go thru life knowing only Eheads songs, and you’re pretty well covered already. They have written and sang 60 million prolific songs about anything from the mundane (Kamasupra, Toyang, Styrosnow), to the philosophical (Maling Akala, Shake Yer Head, Fruitcake), to the cryptic [or at least to me] (Julie Tearjerky, Spoliarium), to the heartbreaking (Fill Her, Christmas Morning), to the unabashedly sentimental (Hard to Believe, With A Smile, Para sa Masa), to the surprisingly gender-tolerant (Kaliwete, Hey Jay), to the reglementary unrequited-love ditties (Kailan, Tindahan ni Aling Nena), to the way too cute (Overdrive, Torpedo), to songs we love to sing just bcoz they're so fun (Back2Me, Harana, Huwag Kang Matakot, Huwag Mo Nang Itanong), to everything you need to know about UP life (Ligaya, Sembreak, Minsan, Shirley), to the chart-busting, truly iconic kind of songs that rocks the whole country (Ang Huling El Bimbo, Pare Ko, Magasin). Whew! (I realize I’m doing the group a huge disservice lumping their songs together like this, as tho their songs are something one can easily categorize. That is in fact one of their many charms – that their songs are so diverse and unique and unexpected. It’s not like most other musicians who sing the same songs over and over, that anyone can name that tune in two notes. Groan.)

These guys shot to fame while we were in college. Chester’s claim to fame is that he played billiards in Alumni Center where Buddy also hang out on like a daily basis, and mine is having Robin Rivera, producer of most of their albums, as my and Nico’s cool teacher in Hum 2 (who I remember for playing Be My Number Two in class and requiring us to submit a one-page essay on anything every week). Ches and I love them bcoz for us they epitomize everything that is cool about UP - hugely talented but never taking themselves too seriously, forever managing to look like they’re just out to have the greatest fun out of life, with no burning desire to conform to what society says is good and proper behavior, not the type to swallow a swear word when a swear word is all that would do in a certain situation or song. We love them bcoz they’re 100% Pinoy and they’re who showed us that Pinoy music can be all-original, be it laugh-out-loud funny or seriously poignant, every bit sing-able and headbang-able. I love them bcoz as far as I know the only remake they did was my favorite Pinoy song of all time, Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka. (How lucky can a girl get?!) I love them bcoz of Shake Yer Head which I sang complete with head-banging at my final interview as an applicant in my beloved college org APSM and which I have since adopted as my life anthem of sorts. (“when you find yourself in a compromising spot you should know you shouldn’t take all the dog food that they make you just as soon as put yourself on the stake and burn…when you see it comin around … you just yeah shake yer head and walk away!!!”)

The first set in itself was for me already The Great Music Event of 2008. That it was cut short so tragically made it even more precious. Each of the 15 or so songs were much anticipated and even more wildly applauded. I did remark to Ches several times tho that Ely looked a bit too thin. The rest of the guys looked exactly the same as in college – Raymund was still hyper at the drums, Buddy still looked like your harmless, geeky boy-next-door, and Marcus was still sporting the druggie-bordering-on-taong-grasa image. My gulay, who would even have thought we’ll see all these guys together again and singing what are hands-down the most fun and most beautiful songs of our generation?

I appreciated that true to form they just sang on and on, without any pretentious spiels, distracting stage designs or – heavens forbid – costume changes, or any of those other annoying showbiz trappings that are par for the course in every concert these days. Indeed, with musicians of the Eheads’ caliber – who needs props? The only effect was a brief fireworks show after the first song (Alapaap) and the countdown leading up to the time when they would appear onstage (which all the more heightened the anticipation and over-all hysteria of the crowd). The only spiel was Ely apologizing for having to ask the usual “Ok ba kayo diyan?” and a nonchalant “Daming tao, ha”. The crowd estimate was at 40-60k, with another 5k outside the venue. The mood was hyper but not rowdy. At a close-up of Marcus in the video screen somebody behind me shouted, “P.I. mo, Marcus! Buhay ka pa? Ganyan ganyan ka pa rin!” Hahaha. But you could tell it was all done lovingly, like something you would say to a long-missed friend. I read that another group in the audience kept chanting “Group hug! Group hug!” I guess, like the eternal optimist in me, everyone was hoping the Eheads would re-unite for good, patch up whatever artsy-fartsy differences they’ve had, and move on to create the same music that makes the whole lot of us crazy.

Sigh.

It can’t end this way.

Get well, Ely. We’re all rooting and praying for you. You have to get well. The Eheads still owes us the second set. Another reunion. We’ll pay whatever it takes, even if it takes so many months’ worth of our salaries.

Please.