remembering to heal ..

It is 7 AM and I wake up alarmed, eyes wide like I have forgotten something important. I am shaken by the bass of my dad’s state of the art studio and I slowly recount the facts. It is Saturday. I have no need to be awake. But I am.

My parents are cleaning and without fail, my dad is blasting his jazz. I yell, I grunt, I roll around in my bed and put the pillow over my head but I know it is no use. This will continue until lunchtime when all of the cleaning is done. It begins with Piano de America by Raul Di Blasio, an epic piano piece that makes me feel that this Saturday morning will be one of adventures and flight, but realistically, I will hide in my room to avoid helping them clean. My mother says when I turn 13, this will not be the case. But until then, I will lie in bed and listen to the entire CD before announcing my alertness.

This continues and I lay while the entire Raul Di Balsio cd plays until my favorite, What a Wonderful World comes on. I am sure I heard this version before I heard Armstrong’s and so this, becomes my lifetime favorite version. It becomes the song I use to be the background on my pager’s voicemail, “You’ve reached that 6 double 5, 1 – 2 seventy eight..” The song I later clean the bathrooms to when I finally turn 13. The song we play as we lay my father to rest.

My life with my Father always had a soundtrack. From Raul Di Balsio, to Jason Mraz, to his favorite APO Hiking Society, there seemed to always be music playing. Even as an adult we should share new songs we’d hear and he’d even show me how to rip audio from YouTube before anyone else did. Jazz festivals, Yoshi’s Oakland, and live shows in the Philippines were a family favorite and now, as I struggle to listen to the music that once colored our lives, I wonder if he left messages in them for me.

I wonder if he knew that his music would remain when he didn’t, so he showed me music for every occasion. Music that would move my heart, body and mind. Music that would give me advice about things I’ll never get to ask him. Music for when I accomplish things and look to him for approval. Music for when I miss him.

When I hear APO Hiking Society singing words of youth, strength, and wisdom I can feel him hugging me through the speakers. I can see his kind eyes and calm voice telling me to keep going. That everything will be okay, even though he’s gone.

As we approach my Father’s one-year death anniversary all I can reflect on is everything he’s left us with. And alongside his extensive music collection, I am realizing how much of himself he left in me. How much of who I have become is made up of him. How my drive and thirst for life and innovation has been part of my fabric, thanks to him, ever since I can remember. How my love for music will be something we can still share. Every day I struggle to contain all he’s taught me and while I often avoid listening to his music, I know that his voice lies between each note and whisper. That each rhythm is full of the vitality of his life lessons. And I am thankful for the music that easily sends me back to his arms and his guidance, a place I am still learning how to live without.

miss you popsicle .. every day more than the last.

wonderful world


One thought on “remembering to heal ..

  1. Thiel Aguila says:


    I’ve read your latest post several times… lugubrious, plaintive seasoned with hope.

    I am not sure if your mom mentioned to you that Selina and I ended up staying at your mom’s house until midnight, just talking, and laughing and some crying and singing. It was me and Selina, Kuya Nico, Ate Connie and Kuya Dennis. Kuya Nico was jamming on the guitar and your mom and Ate Connie were singing sappy pinoy baduy songs…

    When I read the part of your post “I wonder if he left messages in them for me.”

    I was inspired to share with you one of your dad’s favorites…

    Gary Granada

    I introduced him to Gary on our first trip to the Philippines. Gary owns a small bar/cafe near UP called the CONSPIRACY (wow feeling aktibista!) Although he was not slotted to perform that night, he made an impromptu performance before NOEL CABANGON came up to sing.

    Your dad was soooooooo impressed by Gary because of his lyrical genius and his amazing guitar skills, truly a virtuoso. In short nag-click sila ni Gary.

    One of your dad’s favorite songs that he kept irritatingly repeating in the car (my car) is the song “saranggola sa ulan” or “kite in the rain” … something that I learned from your dad was the habit of dreaming ridiculous dreams… fly a kite in the rain, it cannot be done, diba? Pero your dad was exactly that person; someone who didn’t just once in a while dared to dream big and irrationally big, but it was a normal thing for him to THINK DIFFERENT.

    So I know you’ll appreciate the lyrics of this song even though it is in tagalog; your tagalog is better than my english… he he he.

    So the other night at your mom’s house, I sang this song when everyone was gone, in honor of my friend, your dad.

    It says, these words:

    “Three things I learned in my youth:


    Naririnig ko pa ang tawa’t hagikhik
    Ng una kong sinta at kalarong paslit
    At ang sabi ng matatanda
    Siya ay maalwan, ako’y dukha
    Di raw kami bagay at kayraming dahilan
    Ngunit si Bakekay ay walang pakialam

    Sa aming kamusmusan
    Kayraming palaisipan
    Ngunit tatlong bagay ang aking natutunan
    Ang pag-asa’y walang hanggan
    Pag-ibig ay walang hadlang
    At lilipad ang saranggola sa ulan

    At kung ang pagsinta ay di man nagtagal
    Ang mas mahalaga natutong magmahal
    Umibig ng walang panghihinayang
    Kahit malamang na masaktan
    Kanina lang sa aking tabi may aleng lumiko
    At sa pagmamadali nasagi ang aking puso

    Eto na naman
    ako sa aking kabaliwan
    Na sinasabi nga nilang suntok sa buwan
    Ngunit hindi hihindian
    Ng tulad kong natuto nang
    Magpalipad ng saranggola sa ulan

    Gaya ng lagi’t laging sinasabi ko
    O siya nawa ay siya na nga ang totoo

    Eto na naman..

    Heto ako, tumatandang
    Nakahandang panindigang
    Ang bato sa tubig ay lulutang
    At lilipad ang saranggola sa ulan

    Mabuhay ka NOWIE!

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