Tuesday, August 31, 2004
For Old Time's Sake

Whoever said that you're lucky if you have 5 close friends by the time you're old was right. Last weekend was a painful reminder of that. I met up with some classmates from college for lunch at Makati last Saturday. It felt like before, as if no time had passed since we last met - although I was embarassed to walk in 1 1/2 hours late (came from a wedding in Antipolo).

The same jokes, banter and laughter was there. It would have been ok, except that there were two guys from my block that, by the time we graduated, I was on bad (non-speaking) terms with. The rift occured approximately the same time with both of these guys, whom I shall name B1 and B2 respectively, sometime during our senior year. They were both good friends that I used to hang out with, until they were pissed at me for different reasons and decided to consolidate their rage towards me.

Now fast foward to a few years later: there I was, having lunch with them as if nothing happened between us. B2 greeted me with a "pare" and a buddy-buddy high-five as I sat down, and again when I settled into my seat. B1 was sitting a few seats away from me, but greeted me just the same (sans the high-five). It was surreal to be in their company once again after all the issues and years that passed between us. I dryly mentioned what work I was doing now, and showed some pictures of my son stored in my digital camera. They were swapping stories and teasing each other usual, with me as the quiet one commenting occasionally. I was comfortable with this kind of thing back at our tambayan, but now it's different since I was silent because of how surreal and awkward things were. It should have been a fun time, catching up on the latest stuff about my friends, but sad to say, it was a tense and complex affair for me. I bet B1 and B2 saw how sad and uneasy my downcast expression was.

I don't get it. Are they thinking that they've "found it in their hearts" to forgive me? Or they honestly just decided to let bygones be bygones? I remember back in college when I tried to talk to both of them about the ever-growing gap between us. I honestly tried to salvage our friendship by opening a dialogue between us. The thing is B1 was my thesis partner who did have the right to get mad at me for slacking off big time. I've since then made the necessary amends and have done everything, short of cutting off my pinky yakuza style to let him know I was sorry. I even wrote him a letter telling him that I didn't want to lose our friendship over something like that. A goddamn letter. Shit, you only do that crap for your girlfriend. But oh no, he wouldn't have any of that. The guy even called me garbage behind my back, the nerve.

And for B2? Well, he had entirely different and invalid reasons for getting mad - at least the reasons I heard from other people. He never had the guts to tell me himself. I'd rather not get into the details of why he was upset, but take my word for it, it was silly and childish.

Of course being the spineless twit that I am, I never brought up the pent-up feelings I had during that lunch. I was afraid to ruin the occasion, considering that we (the rest of my blockmates) never get together at all. Seeing them happy and chattering cheerfully, I painfully felt out of place trying to grasp the weirdness of the situation. If B1 and B2 can act normal about it, I can't. Not at least until we clear the air about our past diffrences. The fact of the matter is, they left me out to dry back then. Tangina nila, tinabla nila ako...iniwan sa ako ere.

The last half of my college days were not happy ones, as far as the ones I could remember. It was not only a low point of my undergraduate life, but my life in general. Where the hell were they when I was down in the dumps? Acting like coy motherfuckers, snickering behind my back. What kind of friend would do that to you? I have a lot of hang-ups from that time I guess, and they were part of that.

As it stands, we can be civil with each other as from what I saw last Saturday. But friends again? That remains to be seen. Should I try yet again to get them to open up and talk about what happened? Or would that be another pandora's box for my sanity, and leave things as they are?

I shouldn't have come. I could've spent time with my wife or son instead. Read a book. Watched a movie. Anything else.

Sunday, August 15, 2004
Food for the soul

Slipknot is a band I can't love or hate totally - it's like walking on a tightrope and falling on either side occasionally. When I first heard "Wait and Bleed", I dismissed them as trivial and made only to shock people. Like Marilyn Manson I thought, who will lead you to madness if taken seriously. Come on, they're wearing masks for crying out loud.

But there is something about their music (although some would use that term loosely for this band) that keeps me coming back for more. Their more radio-freindly singles aired on NU have always caught my ear. It is refreshing in a way to listen to rock that has a sense of chaos. Most of the stuff I listen to doesn't have the same anger and rage that proliferates in songs like "People = Shit", or "Heretic Anthem". My friend who's into Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth and the like, got me back into Slipknot after lending me some Revolver magazines with articles about them. Browsing through some of the stuff about the band helped me see the madness behind the music so to speak. I've been giving a good listen to the 2001 album Iowa (a co-worker's CD) at the office these past few weeks. I honestly can't get into a lot of their songs, but after watching some of their concert footage, I can appreciate what they're trying to do: pushing the envelope and see how far they can go in exploring the dark side of rock.

So how can I make sense of what they're all about (in my own opinion), why they do what they do? Well, I remember the Japanese concept of compartmentalization that my college professor used to talk about in class. Basically, the Japanese tend to group the different aspects of their life (and respective people in it) into separate "compartments". This means that the "contents" of these compartments will never mingle with each other. For instance, a housewife may have a group of friends from work that she socializes with, but will never meet her husband. Another good example of this concept is a true story of a Japnese man in a relationship with a Filipina. He also has affairs with other women, much to the grief of the the Filipina. Trying to make sense of why the guy was doing that to her, the girl told her story to my professor. My Prof simply explained : "He truly loves you, if that's what you want to know. But you see, you're only one of his many compartments..."

So what the hell does this have to do with a band that has nine members, trying to make as much noise as possible? My theory is that everything that comes with their music goes into one compartment. The things that go with the Slipknot sound fall into some sort of alter-ego that exists as an outlet for all the emotions harvested from the negatvity of real life. Why else would they wear masks? For me that symbolizes their darker selves that want to vent out the madness within (although they say the masks are meant to take the focus away from themselves and divert it to their music instead). Essentially, it's a coampartment that is meant to release all those pent-up feelings and process it into a cathartic, primal scream.

But whatever, you know...that's just my opinion. That's the best way I can reconcile their stuff with my specific preferences for music.

Monday, August 02, 2004
The Home of New Rock

The perfect way to end an exhausting day is to arrive late at the office and work throughout the wee hours of the night. And come in tardy on the second day of the month to boot. I still need to readjust my body clock to U.S. hours, and probably lose my sanity in the process.

There's this new show on NU 107 that I find questionable. It's something like an hour dedicated to letting the public know how great Ateneo is (oh I'm sorry, I meant the Ateneo). Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those overzealous alumni that feels the need to be hostile towards other universities. In fact, I would feel the same if La Salle (my school) did the same show on NU. I don't feel this fierce loyalty towards my school (although I am proud that my folks were able to send me there) and, I don't give two shits about college basketball and the rivalry that comes with the game. I am totally neutral towards these kind of things, and absolutely have no opinion about the topic. It's just a total waste of brain cells and time for me.

What burns me up is that a rock station is being used as a platform to proclaim how wonderful their damn school is. I guess I'm just biased towards school sports in general, but come on, I just can't reconcile their program with the radio station. It has nothing to do with music...it's just a bunch of Ateneo alumni talking in thick cono accents telling everyone over the air how awesome their school is at basketball. Can you really base the value of a school on how much or how well a bunch of guys can put a ball through a hoop? Seriously....they need to get that damn show off the air. It's sickening, repugnant, and nauseating. I thought I left that crap back in college...now it's back to pollute NU's airwaves (along with feeling-cool Mondo's between planets). Who the hell came up with this shit?? Maybe it's the stattion owner Atom Henares, whom I think might be Atenean.

Whatever the case, this "I'm so cool being on the air and you should shudder at how much of a mover and shaker I am in the upper crust of society" kind of crap should stop. Please. It's just going to alienate the rest of the listeners who didn't study at Ateneo.