Music sounds better (without you)

If there’s one thing I’m thankful for for all the heartbreaks I had to endure this year, it’s this: I’m thankful for the music.

I wouldn’t have fully appreciated most of the songs in Up Dharma Down’s Capacities and in Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob among others. I was elated because of the emotional connection I wouldn’t otherwise have.


I got invited by a friend to the Capacities launch late last year but I remember turning it down. The ride to MOA from Ortigas was sure going to be tough, the crowd would surely be rough and the most convincing reason of all – I was too ecstatic. I knew I won’t be able to relate.

That was in November. By January of this year, I was squirming my way to Saguijo’s Terno Inferno just to hear Parks, Night Drops, and Thinker live because I badly needed to. Blame it on the circumstance.


Blame it on the circumstance.

If not for the heartbreaks, most songs in Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob and Sara Bareilles’ Blessed Unrest wouldn’t have appealed to me. They were too sad, too heartbreaking for my own good. (The National would be an exception – even their saddest songs, no matter the circumstance, always appealed to me.)

Heartthrob Cover Print

If not for the heartbreaks, I wouldn’t have flown to Singapore just to watch T&S live. Maybe that’s a lie. It has been a long time since my best friend introduced me to their music and we’ve been waiting for them to go to Manila – or atleast Southeast Asia – so we could finally hear them live. When that opportunity came in February, my then pregnant friend bought the tickets the first day they went on sale. We flew in from Manila to Singapore in May to watch the concert with my friend already five months in her pregnancy.


It’s killing me to walk away.

And it was certainly worth it.

For months, the entire Heartthrob album seemed to be eternally on repeat. It was so hard to pick a favorite because each song seemed to weigh heavily for someone with a sore heart. The same goes for Sara Bareilles’ Hercules, Brave, Chasing the Sun and Little Black Dress. If I was my usual cheery self, my favorites would have been I Choose You and Cassiopeia with lines that go “There was her and her very first heartbeat…” and a rundown of emotions that are “just like heaven.” Instead, I was overcome by lines from Hercules saying “this is not the end though/’Cause I have sent for a warrior
/From on my knees, make me a Hercules.” It was like a prayer, a mantra, or maybe just a psychological conditioning.

Of course it was also this year that She and Him Volume 3 (Never Wanted Your Love! I Could’ve Been Your Girl!) got released and finally, Eisley’s Currents – certainly about time.

I wish Lily Allen could’ve released something to ease my heartbreak as well but truth is, with all these artists on your breakup playlist, your plate would be full.


Ten Ways to Sadness

Being happy is easy. You smile, and the world smiles with you. It’s as if the entire universe celebrates with you in your victory, in your joyous celebration, in your heartfelt experience.

Even when you’re in the most uncomfortable situation – let’s say a jam-packed MRT car during rush hour – you feel like the world is ready to break in a song, celebrate your happiness with a flash mob, and serenade you as you squeeze yourself to the exit doors.

With sadness, it’s a different case.

The sadness is yours and yours alone. No matter how many times you tell the story, how many ways you re-shape it trying to convince others (Who are you fooling? You’re just convincing yourself) of your point, no one else will be in touch with your pain.

Your deepest, most haunting, most human experience is yours alone for the taking.

That throbbing nerve that has been stepped on, smashed repeatedly and left alone? It will need to recuperate on its own with no quick relief medications, no shortcuts on hand.

They say when you’re going through hell, just go through it. But they also say forever seems such a long time when you’re lonely – and going through hell always seems to take forever.

There are so many reasons to be happy, but often, one reason is enough to cause us an overflowing sense of grief. A familiar scent, a marked corner, a nearby cafe – can remind you of things you’d rather erase from your memory, or if at all possible, from Earth.

I can recount all of the things that remind me of you. I can even list them down, but not at this moment when loneliness has come to eat me alive and bury me with piercing images of you, memories of when you still loved me.

I am sorry but right now, I don’t have the heart to keep count. You must have taken it with you.

Hello, sadness


It has been a long time since we last met. It’s nice to see you again – and I say that with utmost sincerity and not even a hint of sarcasm, although that may be hard to believe.

I can’t remember the last time we had such close encounter. It must have been a really long time ago and I’m glad you dropped by to say hello again. I know you have a thing or two to teach me, important things to say, and an experience I could learn from.

I, too, have something to tell you in return. I am happy you are here. July has been the cruelest month but I can’t help but be thankful for all the pain it has brought me. I know I need this more than anything right now and I’m glad you’re there to help.

Your presence, although rare, always leads to a meaningful encounter – always a stepping stone to a greater happiness.

To The Wonder by Adrian Tomine

I know you won’t be here for long so I’m here to relish this moment, to cherish this pain, to remember all that you are going to say. I might not remember everything – I apologize in advance for my faulty memory – but I know I will keep everything you’ve taught me in my heart. Someday, I hope to remember them when the necessity arises, when I need to be reminded that I am human after all and susceptible to great amounts of pain.

I know you mean well, and I know I will come out of this all the better. For now, I say hello again and thank you, old friend, for teaching me how to leave live.

How zombies are made

Today, I found out how humans become zombies.

First, they fall in love. Then, they get their hearts broken. They cry their eyes out, they burn their hearts out, until that point when their hearts frizzle. With no more eyes and no more hearts to use as guides, they lose their sense of direction. They start to make no sense at all.

They lose their capacity to be coherent in their thoughts and more visibly, in their actions. They start to move but you begin to wonder, are they moving at all? For they may be dragging their way from Point A to Point B but they lack real purpose. The human who once knew love has now become a senseless creature: unresponsive, purposeless, lifeless, lost.


I hope you would let him go or more appropriately, let him grow.

He has been nothing but the nicest, kindest, and most responsible son and brother to you. What more can you ask from someone who has been following your orders at a drop of a hat, giving in to your every request, doing every task you demand from him.

He is now twenty-four years old. He has been under your wing, at your beck and call for over twenty years. He won’t be going anywhere. He’ll always be reaching out to you because that’s who he is: a loving son, and a most compassionate brother who’ll yield to your every command, give in to your demands willingly.

I hope you’ll learn to let him go. Let him grow.

Then again what do I know of parenting, of raising a son, of having an older brother? Nothing.

I only know of letting go of great loves. I’ve been doing it for so many times, I’m so good at it. I guess I wouldn’t mind doing it again.