Saturday, May 02, 2009

Together through Life

The blood of Bob Dylan runs through my little baby’s veins. Well close. Actually, Che Dominguez’ blood was transfused into Judy’s body just before she gave birth to baby yol. Che (Thanks again Che!) is the wife of the great Boy Dominguez, visual artist but better known in our circles as Boy D- the undisputed Bob Dylan of Krus na Ligas!

But seriously, Yolena may yet be the youngest Dylan fan at 1 month old. She likes it when I sing Dylan songs to her. She particularly likes the newer songs from Time out of Mind (Make you feel my love), and Modern Times (beyond the horizon, spirit on the water, when the deal goes down). When the deal goes down hands down is her favourite (our favourite actually-me, judy and yolena) and is track 01 in the soundtrack of our new journey.

So, we’re now moving together through life—which leads us to the latest Dylan album. His 38th if am not mistaken. Released last APril 28, 2009, Together Through Life is yet another timeless Dylan album. Yolena and I have listened to the new album on our few road trips together and i think she likes this one as well. I intend to buy the original album, and leave it unopened inside Yolena's treasure chest/box for her to re-discover when she's older.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

New Morning

At around 5pm today, March 19, 2009, feast day of St. Joseph, little Yolena was born. We waited two weeks in the hospital for her. We came here to Capitol Medical Center in the early morning of March 4 because Judy had bleeding and pre-term contractions. The doctors had to suppress these contractions because Yolena was not yet ready—the pregnancy was just a little over 36 weeks, and the baby was just 2.2 kilos. If she insisted then on coming out, she would have spent her first week inside an incubator. Because the contractions were suppressed with medication and the bleeding controlled, her nanay’s womb continued to be yolena’s incubator. For two weeks, doctors monitored her heartbeat ‘round the clock and thanks to the device called the Doppler, we listened in on her development. 140-150 beats per minute. Each report of a normal heartbeat comforted us. Every move inside judy’s tummy was an affirmation that she’s alright, gaining strength and getting ready.

Judy and I needed these positive signs and vibes. There were moments throughout our stay here when we felt overwhelmed by the difficulties. Judy’s delicate condition on account of the placenta previa required complete bed rest. She couldn’t stand up even to go to the bathroom. Because judy also suffered from acid reflux, she could not stay flat on her back also. Everything seemed dependent on some compromise here and there.

Another complication was judy’s rising blood pressure. Judy has never been hypertensive but here, the past two weeks her BP fluctuated between lows of 120/80 to highs of 170/90. Interestingly, her BP shot up during supposedly times of rest, usually in the middle of night. I breathed a sigh of relief everytime her BP plateaus to 120/80. The high BP can be indicative of another complication during pregnancy called pre-eclampsia or toxemia- how to i know all these terms? Thanks to the ever reliable guide book- what to expect when you’re expecting, which was like our bible from day one of the pregnancy.

In the face of the complications, we – judy and I, our doctors and nurses, tried to address one issue/problem at a time. First the bleeding and the contractions, then the hypertension, and then restlessness. We set our sights on one milestone at a time also. First was March 15, (37th week of pregnancy) and then the next ultrasound (march 19), the 38th week (march 22) and the scheduled CS on March 23.

March 19 10 am- Judy undergoes ultrasound. The ultrasound was meant primarily to examine the baby’s condition and judge whether she’s now ready to be born.

Around 1 pm- we were informed by one of the resident OB-gynecologists of the results of the ultrasound—everything was ok, the baby’s vital signs were all normal. She now weighed around 6.7 lbs. The only thing wrong was the low –normal amniotic fluid. The doctors assessed that because the baby seems to be ready already and that there is no need to wait any longer, the operation should be done today, 3 days ahead of the March 23 original schedule. We thought that we would be the ones to pick her birthday, but in the end yolena picked her own birthday. We were informed around 1pm of the 4pm delivery. We really didn’t have time to let our minds wander some more thus sparing us of any additional worries.

At around 3pm, i went down to the business center to settle our business with this business-minded hospital. When i returned, Dra Daza the anaesthesiologist was there already, seated next to judy’s bed , talking her through the procedure. She exuded an aura of certainty and control as she casually discussed with us how she will administer the spinal anaesthesia. She comforted us by saying that since we’re Lamaze students, that we would be better equipped to handle the procedure, Judy will be better equipped to handle the pain. Dra Daza even offered her services as our official photographer inside the delivery room.

At around 4:15 judy was wheeled in the delivery room. I waited outside, pacing, sitting, taking photographs and playing around with the video cam- anything to block off any negative thoughts, anything to ward off the worries. At around 5pm i heard a faint baby’s cry in the background, drowning away the the Capitol Medical Theme song that was just playing a few minutes earlier and still lingered in the air. As i heard the cries from inside the delivery room, i wondered if what i was hearing was my baby daughter’s first cry. By 515, the door opened and in the distance i saw a small baby wrapped in blue blanket being held by one of the nurses. Dra Daza called me to come closer for our first photograph together. My first glance at yolena’s face was magical. She seemed so fragile. Napa buntong hininga ako and thought of judy, I saw judy’s face in the face of our newborn.

I went to the nursery soon after to hand over the baby clothes. I spoke to the nurse, the same nurse who was carrying her the first time i saw her and she told me that the baby is ok and that i can view her in about three hours time and that i should wait in the room in the meantime.

Family and friends dropped by. Koyang was the earliest, he came to the room even before Judy was taken to the DR. JL also dropped by, anna and levi, jo and uyel, den and danny, Richard and anabel, judy tag, tatcee and tita susan. My family also came- john and tess, anna and Alvin. The call for viewing came at around 7pm. All of us trooped excitedly to the nursery to see her. Dra dela paz carried her and showed her to us through the glass window of the nursery. She looked so pretty. She yawned, cried, smirked, sucked her small baby thumbs for us to see.

Around 8pm i got a call from the DR that they wanted to give back the camera. I was eager to check and find out judy’s condition. I saw judy awake. I asked if she was ok and she gestured a thumbs up. I wanted to just get near her and hug her at that point.

Around 1130 pm judy returned to our room (room 520) where she now sleeps as i write this. Its now 10 minutes into a new morning. A new day for us- myself, judy and yolena.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Puso at Isip ni Jess Santiago (Jess Santiago's Hearts & Minds)

Fifteen years since the release of Obando, Filipino poet and singer-songwriter Jess Santiago is now back in the recording studio putting together his third full length album of original songs.

Puso at Isip (or Hearts & Minds) – the working title of the album in the making, offers us a sampling of some of the best songs in Santiago's rich collection of unrecorded tunes written from 2001-2008.

Like his first two gems, Halina (1991) and Obando (1994), the new album promises to be yet another rich tapestry of words and images woven together by simple yet soulful melodies, a trademark of Jess Santiago's music.

Around 13 songs have been hand-picked by Santiago to be included in the collection. These songs cover a whole range of themes and topics. There are expressions of the Filipino psyche and culture (Onli in the Pilipins) and the richness of the Filipino language (Loob).

There are overtly 'political' songs like Panginoon for example, based on a poem that came out of his Usapang Kanto column in Pinoy Weekly, a stinging commentary against George W. Bush's War on Terror. The song was written eight months before the US invasion of Iraq. Santiago's activism through his music manifests further in compositions like Daloy, a song written as part of a river rehabilitation campaign and Salot, a song with a strong anti-corruption message. The 'anthemic' quality of Santiago's songwriting is perhaps most evident in the songs bayan muna, his tribute to our country's martyrs and heroes and Pagbabago, written for and originally recorded by ASIN, a contemplative song about the struggle for change in this country.

Santiago's songwriting has also drawn inspiration from works of other artists and musicians. Included in the album are Eksenang tahimik, a 3-part poem inspired by a study made by the painter Antipas Delotavo, and Hamog sa Umaga, tagalog version of "achim iseul" (morning dew), a well-loved Korean song made popular by legendary South Korean singer-songwriter Kim Min'gi.

On a personal level, two songs stand out in the collection. 18, a beautiful song about a father's recollections on his daughter’s 18th birthday; and Palatandaan, his tribute to veteran activists. These songs were originally conceived to be part of a concept album of "occasional songs" chronicling the different stages and moments in one's life.

Then there is Laging Ikaw, a masterfully crafted modern Filipino love song; and Pagsapit ng Dilim, a solemn ballad of love and longing.

As in previous efforts, the new album features Jess Santiago collaborating with friends. Ronnie Quesada, Dodjie Fernandez, Joey Ayala, Cynthia Alexander, Popong Landero and Gary Granada, Noel Cabangon and the Radioactive Sago Project all contribute their talents to the album along with very talented session musicians and singers including Simon Tan on Bass and Rene "chong" Tengasantos on percussions.

Pusot at Isip is yet another "labor of love" album by Santiago produced on a shoe-string budget. In order to augment the limited funds for this album and to produce a companion EP of Asian Peoples Music, we are soliciting the support of friends and 'friendly' organizations and network who have loved and supported Jess Santiago's music over the years.

Those who wish to support the project may write to or get in touch with Jess at 09292520120 or Joseph at 09173874531.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Musicians lend voice to the search for missing activist Jonas Burgos

New recording of songs for the disappeared released

Adding their voice to the growing campaign against enforced disappearances, local Filipino musicians released today Huling Balita: Songs for the Disappeared, a collection of songs confronting the very serious issue of enforced disappearances in the country.

The album launching today (April 28, 2008) at Newsdesk Bar in Quezon City coincides with the first anniversary of the disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos, son of the late journalist and press freedom icon Jose Burgos.

“This project came about because musicians, who have heard about the disappearance not just of Jonas but many other political activists over the years, wanted to make a collective stand on the issue. We wanted to make a contribution to the campaign on the desaparecidos and we realized that the best way we can help is in communicating the issue of the disappearances, the stories of the disappeared and their families, in ways that are more accessible to the public” says poet and singer-songwriter Jess Santiago, one of the coordinators of the project.

“We wanted people to make the issue of the disappearances a personal issue, and the search for them a personal crusade” adds Santiago.

Produced on a shoe-string budget by the Free Jonas Burgos Movement (FJBM), Huling Balita, features ten songs that draw inspiration and offer insights into the issue of enforced disappearances. Eight of the songs featured in the album were recorded live during the Huling Balita Concert in UP Diliman in December 2007. Two bonus tracks were recorded in the studio.

The song Huling Balita, from which the album’s title is derived, by Jess Santiago, kicks off the recording and immediately sets the tone for the whole collection. A song written in the late 70’s at the height of Martial law, Huling Balita is a heart wrenching narrative of agony, of a wife’s search for her lost husband and the incessant questioning of a child yearning for her father’s return. The re-telling of the story about the disappearance is meant to spread the news, hoping to jolt people out of their apathy and indifference and inspire and move them to take a stand.

A range of emotions and themes resonate through out the album. Feelings of restlessness and longing are captured in Noel Cabangon’s “Awit ng Naghahanap” (Naghihintay, umaasa, Ika’y aming nadarama, Tibok ng yong puso’t hininga Larawan mo’y sumisilip, sa aming alaala ) and “Nasan Ka” by the Village Idiots (Nasan ka? Nasan ka? Hanap ka ng isip kong balisa, Buo kong katawan, nangungulila, Di masanay sa iyong pagkawala.). Yet feelings are not allowed to sink into despair and hopelessness as the victims transform their sadness into strength and muster the courage to continue the search against all odds, against continuing political repression and threats to their own lives.

Vigilance and defiance is another common message expressed through the songs. Granada’s song “Defiant” calls on the listener to “confront and defy” the forces that “bleed us dry” and attempt to silence the opposition. Einstein Chakras and Radio Active Sago Projects warn those in power of impending retribution and the judgment of history -- (Aagawin ng mga bata ang gobyernong di kanila, tatahiin ang napunit na bahagi ng isa, ang ibay isusumpa nitong yaring kasaysayan, na noong panahon nya’y binaliwala’t pinabayaan, Ayan na! from Ayan Na by Einstein Chakras) (Dahil balang araw, ang nagpapahirap ang pahihirapan Ang agpapakasarap ay kumunoy ang patutunguhan Ang naghahari ay magiging alipin Balang araw, mababasag din ang salamin from Radio Active Sago Project’s "Kung ano ang Meron").

The other contributions are from Bobby Balingit (Entrada), the free-style rap group Tribu, Anak ni Aling Juana (Naglaho), and Ms. Cookie Chua of Color it Red, doing an a capela version of “Saan” a song by Jess Santiago and Rene Villanueva.

“The artists, the songwriters and the singers featured in the recording, as well as the photographers and visual artists, whose works add life to the album, have all been so generous in contributing their talents and their time to this project” says JL Burgos, brother of Jonas and FJBM coordinator.

“We are of course hopeful that one day, and we hope very soon, that Jonas will be re-united with us again. In the meantime, the search continues for Jonas and many other missing activists” adds JL.