And I Wander

The birds chirp at this side of the world. :)

12-12-12

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Three years ago, I had tweeted this, referring to the Philippine Allstars OG’s supposed reunion concert. But God had a different plan. After a year, December 12, 2012 had become my “spiritual” birthdate. It had become the day that I accepted Jesus as my Lord & Saviour… that “something big” had happened in my own life.

* * * * * * *

It’s so overwhelming, sometimes funny, when we would try to take control of our lives, and then, for some unknown reasons, things WILL NOT go according to plan no matter how we stubbornly, even dedicatedly, stick to it. Things will bend, people will step in, events will rumble, and before we know it, the day that we were zoning in just does not show up. Not even call in sick. Just. Not. Show. Up.

But thing is, sometimes, there would be a plan. A blueprint will be made, will be signed by a number of people, notarized, stamped, or framed and hanged on a wall. But then, eventually, even with its unmistakable presence on the wall, people will lose focus as they get caught up with life.

I don’t really remember what had happened to the planned concert, which sounded really promising and exciting for a time. But I guess it was just not meant to happen AT THAT TIME. Still, my tweet called out the universe to hand me that “big” event. Grabe. The universe delivered! It gave me a “big” personal journey… I was thrown into a very difficult battle where I had both got broken & built, a journey where I got both lost & found. If it was not because of #timehop, I would not have even remembered it. I appreciate it all now. More than that, I now have a deeper understanding of everything that has happened. I see how God loves me so much… even during the times my spirit was so crushed and I felt so defeated.

Grabe ka Lord. Sobrang amazing ka!

So yeah, something big really did happen. And it was BIGGER than that planned concert.

* * * * * * *

As a result of that 12-12-12 event in my life, I am now able to fight my personal battles differently. Because we as humans, if I’m being honest to myself, are not wont to forgive and forget easily. I even daresay the wounds of the past can never really be healed… not even “in time.” May peklat ang bawat sugat. There will always be a scar. In time, the scar will ostensibly be invisible. But there would be times that it would seem to scream “Hi! Remember this wound? Remember the one who caused this???” And then it would make us feel the need to scratch. There will be times it would get really tempting… that we just want to scratch it so bad until it bleeds and creates another wound… over the wound. That is so easy… So easy. So human. So me, the old me.

But then, by His grace, I had felt that there is never a need to scratch. The enemy can make the wound scream all day & night long… but God is more powerful. He not only makes me fight strong, but also… He makes me accept my already closed, dry wounds as beautiful battle scars… ones that would and should remind me of my own victory over this seemingly permanent and undefeated enemy. Yes, that’s it. My VICTORY.

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December 30, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Jesus, learn & unlearn, Philippine Allstars | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

LOST IN NEWSFEEDS

Two years ago I was working the graveyard shift at a Bank in LA. One night, on my way to work, I saw by the entrance of the driveway going to our building a homeless man reading a book under a dimly lit post. It was such a beautiful sight. It stirred hope inside me for some reason.

Something like amidst all rush hours, instant noodles, online relationships or every other things brought about by this era, or the lack of them, this man still chose to have that seeming lost luxury o

My friend Kameko.

my friend Kameko

f feeding his mind or his soul. Like nothing else mattered. He could live without a roof above his head, or a metro card, or a cellphone. As long as he could have that moment alone. With his book. It had put this big smile on my face and it kept me awake at work all night.

I rarely see a sight like that nowadays. Last year, at a Culture Shock dance rehearsal, I l have seen one of my friends Kameko reading a book! It was just so refreshing coz barely anyone does that anymore, especially among the younger generations.

I have come to realize too that generally, people don’t know how to “tunganga” anymore. I can’t even find its direct translation in English. The only closest definitions are being idle or going inside your “nothing-box.” It’s like putting a car in neutral at a stop light. It is neither useful or useless. Just, well, idle. Saving gas… I barely see people doing that. You know when people are not sleeping or eating or having conversations, when there is that space of time in a day where nothing is expected of us, we are mostly bound to turn to our little gadgets and fill our brains with useless information or activities. Yes we are all likely to caress our phones first thing in the morning than caress our loved ones. We are more likely to

(c) photo from the internet.

photo from the internet

post thoughts or photos online than call our moms and ask “how are you?” and tell her our thoughts. We are more bound to read newsfeeds than books. We would rather slide “open” our iphones than go into our nothing-box (tunganga), get idle and be open to the energy required of the moment: which is to stay

still and just breathe, be thankful… and live. Just merely live. Mostly, I only see old people do that nowadays. Tunganga in the park, at a restaurant, at a bus stop. One time I did that in the lunch room and officemates started asking if I was ok. So I pulled out my phone and was forced to scan through my Instagram feeds.

Come on people. Masarap tumunganga. Try it.

Technology… Modern times… Actually it’s a catch-22. Living in this era is both blessing and bane. It is just up to us to draw the line. Sadly, most of us unconsciously become prisoners of these modern advancements. It is unthinkable to imagine how it is to live 50 years from now. I am curious. But I’m already grateful that I have witnessed and have lived to experience the transition of old to the new. Because I am able to appreciate… And longing for those old times, I know how better it is to raise a kid up in these times. I just hope she won’t get lost living among these modern tech-savvy kids.

Sigh.

Sometimes… No make that Most of the time, the best moments in our lives are  the ones spent away from our cellphones. The most postable moments in our lives are actually the ones that don’t make it in our newsfeeds.

November 22, 2014 Posted by | books, learn & unlearn, life, people, ruminations | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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December 13, 2013 Posted by | Bible, Blogroll, Jesus, learn & unlearn | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Enter your password to view comments.

TRENTA’Y TRES #throwback – HOW I BECAME HIP HOP

.los angeles.ca.

Since I am in that retirement road already, I wanted to share this to the kids who are just starting out. I actually just bumped into this as I was cleaning my email Inbox. This was a submission I did for a friend’s blog back in 2009, months before I was to turn 33.

Trenta’y Tres, by Michelle “Tzy” Salazar (Dance Artist)

I am Tzy, the oldest member of Philippine Allstars. I think that I am even the oldest female who dances hip hop in this country… that I know of. But I am not a pioneer. I am merely a toddler. I was not there when hip hop penetrated the scene in the 90s. Back then, I knew Francis M. as a “pop” singer who sang the only rap song that I’ve ever memorized in my life (Cold Summer Nights). Jmasta (bboy) & breakdancing were non-existent. If he did headspins in my face I would just ignore him. I thought hip hop meant donning a huge shirt & pants that barely holds on to one’s boxers. And back then, the object of my pubescent obsession was the Eraserheads (a rock band that defined the sound of the 90s in the Philippines).

Hip hop came late into my life–when it was already associated with sex, drugs & violence, when the OG’s (dance pioneers/legends) have gained weight & when dance was started to be boxed in the studios & not danced in the clubs/streets anymore. It came even AFTER I was already dancing hip hop (with the Philippine Allstars).

Among all the members in my group, I think I am the most “non-hip hop”. The rest have been living, breathing & eating it. When hip hop began thriving in the Philippines in the early 90’s, Lema Diaz was one of the few girls who were dancing to its music in Club Mars. She is still in the scene now, so technically, she is the oldest female hip hop dancer.  Some of our boys have been bboying (breakdancing) since they were little. Chelo Aestrid & Kenjhons have been pursuing music all of their lives. And Sheena Vera Cruz, for me, is the ultimate dancer with hip hop attitude. I have always thought of myself as a “rakista (rocker) who loves to do breakdance freezes.” My ipod had consisted of songs from genres of rock & alternative. And I would wear urban/hip hop clothes only when I go onstage.

Now 4 years into being an Allstars, after having won 4 world hip hop competitions in 3 continents & putting Philippines on the map, it is only now that I am starting to really delve into the culture, history & foundations of hip hop dance.

In July this year, I was given the privilege of being one of the 6 people (from 5 countries–Lebanon, Palestine Territories, Argentina, Vietnam & Philippines) sent by the Kennedy Center (Washington) to go on a Hip Hop Tour. It was an eye opener for me.

I met some of the few important figures of hip hop dance  OG’s like Buddha, Marjory Smarth, etc. They told us stories of their experiences back in the 80’s, when this was all just starting. They shared their principles about dance; how very disapproving they are of students just learning dance inside the four corners of the studio & not in the clubs/streets anymore. I have also attended workshops where I have finally learned the foundations of dance which is very important for every dancer. Allstars’ style is so 90’s and for years, that was what we were good at. Those workshops made me understand dance more. I’ve found meaning on why we do certain moves. Like there is this move we do for Locking called the Muscle Man. Skeeter Rabbit told us that it was his way of saying “What’s up?” until it evolved & was combined with his move, the Skeeter Rabbit.

The most important part of our tour was the immersion in the places where hip hop started. I have discovered where the roots of hip hop music was found, which was in Washington DC, where the African-American music flourished in the early 20th century. There was this place dubbed as the “Black Broadway” which used to be an entertainment hotspot to African-American community back then, even before the Harlem Rennaisance in NY. This was home to a lot of great musical artists like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong & Billie Holliday.

We have also threaded on the streets of Harlem, the Mecca of black culture, where 30 or 40 years ago, no other race than black could walk. We have experienced a jam in the park, right in the heart of Bronx. When I was there, I smelled hip hop in its raw & purest form. That time, I was so lucky to have seen in person hip hop’s godfather, DJ Afrika Bambaataa. It was so surreal listening to his music and dancing to it. It was like performing a contemporary dance with a live accompaniment of the orchestra.

In that park, we kinda stood out because most of the people were black. So there was this one time when a man named Ron from Universal Zulu Nation approached us and said, “Don’t come out here with your booty shakin.’” He then went on to say something like, “You can’t fake hip hop. It is not made, it is not taught. You are born with it. It is in the heart. You breath hip hop. & it is here in Bronx.” I told him that hip hop has actually spread around the world, that was why were were there. & he says, “You know how it has spread? You spread it here (points to his heart). For me you can’t fake it. I don’t care where you’re from. You can’t fake hip hop. You’re born with hip hop. Some have it, some don’t. They got school for scratch, they got school for this & that, but hip hop is not an act. It’s from the heart.”

Word. 🙂

Actually I just realized that I may have been “hip hop” after all. Hip hop in heart. Its journey is my journey too. Embracing undaground & not losing the whole essence of hip hop is what Philippine Allstars is all about. Keeping it real to the heart. Not being too technical. Expressing emotions in its truest form. Standing up for the undadogs. Sharing & spreading the word. Fighting for the movement. That is real hood right there.

I am turning 33 next year. Too old to start learning new styles of dance, some might daresay. But for me, this is only the start of my never-ending quest for knowledge & truth. You might say, “pinapalalim ko naman mashado, sayaw lang yan (It’s only dance, why complicate it).” But dance has stopped being simply a form of art for entertainment purpose. It has gone beyond being just a medium of expression. On our part, we have been using dance to spread nationalism. We have undoubtedly created change among the hearts of a lot of Filipinos & has inspired them to be proud of our country. Through our dance pieces, we have traveled to different parts of the globe & have gathered not just rave reviews but love from even people of different races. And dance has also helped us spread positive messages to the world, even daring to break barriers and inspire people to Point Up (to give glory to the Man up there). [Philippine Allstars blog]

It is never too late to start dancing hip hop (I started dancing, from zero, when I was 23, doing jazz, and hip hop when I was 26). There is actually no expiration to learn anything! It is never too late to start being someone who you want to be. What is important is how far you want to go with the things you are passionate about. Just like the philosophy from Pablo Coelho’s The Alchemist & Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, when you want something really bad, the universe will conspire to help you achieve it. I may be too old to learn airtracks (barrel turns with hands), but I know that if I put my heart & mind to it, I may even become the first Lola (Gramdma) to do it.  But for now, I gotta learn. Coz ultimately, I will always be a student. Every one of us should never stop learning new things, even at 33. Or 45. or 77. 🙂
* * * * * * *

Read my full blog about the Hip Hop Program here.

December 8, 2013 Posted by | Blogroll, breakdance, hip hop, learn & unlearn, Philippine Allstars | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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October 14, 2013 Posted by | breakdance, introspect, learn & unlearn, life, love sh*t, rants | , , , , , , , , | Enter your password to view comments.

PRUNED

.long beach.california.usa.

#Random thoughts on a Black Friday…

In a gathering. Sitting in a corner. Funny how I feel most alone in the company of people.

So here I am looking back… I believe that what happened was meant to happen. It was part of my pruning process. Yes I was the one pruned. I was the one tried. I was the one who failed, thus pruned. Ousted… I do not know of any other way for things to come to this because I could not, for the life of me, let go of the things that I have held dear for years. Yes for years I have overlooked the more important priorities in my life: my bloodfam. Such a long time. Such long process of growing up, growing out of seemingly juvenile life. Well-spent years. But like most things, they expire.

I now go on with my life with acceptance… waving the banner of His peace and reconciliation. There may be times that I will deny myself of forgiveness, but the truth is, I was forgiven. He has forgiven me. And that truth has to sink in. It is just hard when caught between battle of these truths. The truth of freedom and the prison of emotional truth.

It still hurts. I hurt because I hurt you.

They say that forgiveness may not mean forgetting, but more of letting go of the pain in order to move on. In that case, a part of me wouldn’t want to forgive myself because I need to be reminded that there was a time when I was faced with the hardest battle anyone could ever have, and I failed.

Because I want to be able to learn. And remember.

And to tell myself that I am capable of hurting the people I love.

And I do not want to be in that place ever again.

* * * * * * *

A rose so beautiful
It catches the sun’s rays
With its mists
From yesternight’s drizzling rain
Out of its stem
Grew five leaves
One of which starts to wither
And stand out
Like a sore thumb
Or more like a sixth finger
Imperfect it may be
It displays color like that of sunshine
And flaunts the beauty of the rest
And the redness of the queen in bloom
Like a flicker of light
In the dark
That imperfection
That makes everything else
Perfect
But alas
It has to be nipped
And back to earth it shall be
For in reality of realities
It has no place
Among all perfect leaves
Underneath that perfect rose

March 30, 2013 Posted by | attempt at poetry, introspect, learn & unlearn, life | 1 Comment

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TONIGHT

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I walk into this night of mischief and rogueries
Mulled over, executed up to the last detail of a vile blueprint
Without heart
And tenure
Like a man beneath a circle of smoke he drags
Him to him
Labyrinthian
Cycle
Endless

Like an empire of mad power and corrupt goodness torn in half
The night was reigned over
Toppled
And rendered powerless
I find myself alone
With my crown

The night is ripe
The juice of foreboding animosity trickles down
The sidestreets of loneliness
The shadows move, as if alive
In the presence of demi-lights

This night
Is so young
The moon is round
Bright
Perfect
Like a pearl vomited by the sea to the air
Like it never belonged
In a shell
Muted
But its light blinding
Yes the night is young.

And in this dark night,
I was saved.

January 14, 2013 Posted by | Blogroll, introspect, learn & unlearn, life | Leave a comment

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M.A.D.

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“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles” – Jack Kerouac

Ain’t God awesome for giving us this life to live… to madness? Yes even to the point of insanity. Coz this life is overflowing with everything and nothing at the same time… the desire to taste everything and leave nothing untouched.

I’ve said many times that if I am to leave this world, I would be happy to go… Coz I have felt like I have lived different lives, worth different lifetimes. I’ve almost tasted enough. But as I grow older, I always discover that there is so much mooore! So many cultures to immerse in, so many culinary experiences to dig, a lot more cities to step on, so many friends to make & stories to tell among them, so many moments to close your eyes in as you breathe out “Thank you Lord.”

Last night, one of my gay friends expressed a liking at how generally just chill & quiet I am but is actually high-strung and full of energy when right strings are pulled. Haha! I guess that is how I am. I go outside and feast on life with my eyes by default, but when that perfect moment presents itself to get wild and mad about life, I go all out.  That’s what I love about living, there is always a place & space for everything… to complain when there’s not enough sauce on your pasta or if your coffee was not served smolderingly hot; or just let pass when you were ripped off a very cheap fabric from a store that you paid with your credit coz you don’t have the time to go back; to walk the car-emptied but mass-filled EDSA to fight for a cause; to grovel at the feet of a boyfriend and beg him to not leave you coz you know you are gonna wallow in pain and misery for weeks if he does; to cut your hair shorter & shorter until there’s no more to cut so you decide to just get shave it and be bald; to go crazy at a party and dance until dusk with everyone in the room, or with just your own self; to do an all-nighter with a friend while parked at the UP Sunken Garden and decide to watch the sun rise and do cartwheels before you head home to your bed; to make a fool of yourself in the biggest dance battle you could ever join in, but eventually learn from the best people you could ever learn from; to borrow money, be in debt and join a dance competition just to make noise, but earn a bonus as you’ve put the Philippines on the hip hop map; to brave the storm or wade through the flood just to make peace with someone; to make love as if there’s no tomorrow, or as if tonight will never exist again; to prank call all your boyfriends’ flirty friends to make a statement a.k.a. he’s mine; to fall in love with a person and hide it from everyone else because it seemed wrong, then years later shout it out to the world; to fight with someone because that person was out to destroy things or persons that matter to you; to end a friendship because words exchanged are killing you; to drive aimlessly until you hit the beach or the mountains; to converse with a stranger and be able to transport yourself in a different time & place, in his shoes, in his world; to run around the city capturing the scenes, the scents and the magnificence of each corner, each altitude, each intersection, each light post, canal, mailbox, etc.; to get beaten up physically & mentally by a mentor, get mad and scared and eventually realize that this exercise of humility was to show you who you really are and who you are not; to be treated as trash by the people who pays you to entertain them; to be treated as saints by people whom you will want to dance for at no cost; to give birth to the most precious being you could ever lay your eyes on; to thank the Lord and give praise to Him in front of thousands of people who look up to you.

Ahhhhh… so many things to be thankful for, and more things to look forward to.

Burn, baby, burn, and keep it burning until the last emblem of this fire takes you to another lifetime.

December 20, 2011 Posted by | learn & unlearn, life, love sh*t | , , | 1 Comment

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LIFE IS OK

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Sometimes, you don’t always get what you want. You just want to bury your head in the pillow, hide under the blanket as if it’s one big arm pulling you in for comfort. Sometimes all you want to do is scream, & throw things, like china, & get some kind of temporary thrill from watching them get smashed. But you still want to hide it, like under a loud music so that people won’t hear your cries. Sometimes things get out of hand. One time you are Ms Congeniality, & then Ms Cruella the next coz things get out of control & you just can’t do anything about it. People can just accept you being at your worst, or they can despise you. But then, that just tells you, like right in your face, that they are not your friends anymore. Or not at all from the start. Sometimes though, it’s ok to show the world that you are human. That you get hurt, too. Sometimes, it’s ok to miss the bus, be cheated at, stutter at an important public speech, forget someone’s name, sing out of tune, or with wrong lyrics, get lost, get drunk & say something stupid, accidentally walk in the men’s room, fall from your bed while you sleep, fail at a subject, get cut from an audition, be out-of-place at a party, be hated by an in-law, get your heart broken twice, or thrice, get laughed at, get sneered at, get frowned upon, in your face, or behind your back… It is really ok. Coz sometimes, real stories are stirred from all these realities that leave bruises & callouses in your spirit. And out of those are marks of victories at having overcome them. Albeit. All. Odds.

March 28, 2011 Posted by | learn & unlearn, people, ruminations | | 1 Comment

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