Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Dreamed a Dream...

My nephew's current favorite musical is Les Miserables because he was asked to perform one of its songs during his school's recognition rites. He requested me to sing On My Own when our whole family went karaoke singing last January. Next time, I'd like to sink my teeth into this song made even more popular by Susan Boyle.

I listened to the words again last night and was amazed at the powerful story they told.

I Dreamed a Dream
From Les Miserables

There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame

He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came

And still I dream he'll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.

Here's the link to the famous video.

And another video from the same talent show, of a little girl who also could sing like an angel.

Youtube has disabled embedding of these videos. Please go to the links and enjoy!

It's never too late to dream. :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Seven Dresses

I had my own version of the movie 27 Dresses last Friday during our company anniversary. That film is about Katherine Heigl's character who had been a bridesmaid 27 times, and had the dresses to show for it.

The photo was cropped as my officemates would kill me. The theme for our program was "1994", the year when our company was born. Our group was assigned to do a "Miss Universe" pageant, as the famous beauty contest was held in the Philippines that year.

We brainstormed on what to do. As I was very busy, I volunteered to provide the gowns for the contestants. I dug through my closet and found these seven dresses, and in fact more, though the rest were not worn. My life flashed before me, starting with all the wedding roles I had taken on - flower girl, maid of honor, bridesmaid, secondary sponsor, choir, lector, commentator, and guest. I also saw my progress pound for pound, as the dresses grew in size through the years. Come to think of it, that was the primary reason why I had to keep on having new gowns and dresses made. The old ones wouldn't fit anymore. LOL.

I've always loved to play dress up. When one of my older cousins got married, I was their Flower Girl. I remember begging my mother to let me wear that dress again, complete with flower basket, everyday. My mother complained that it was hard to keep washing that long green dress I loved so much.

I haven't scanned a photo of me wearing that green gown yet. This one was taken when I was five years old, I think. I have other photos uploaded to Facebook here.

I never had problems with makeup either. Whenever I joined the Santacruzan as a sagala, or attended Recognition Rites as school, or played at a piano recital, I couldn't wait for my mom to put on my makeup. Up to now, my silliest splurges are still committed in Beauty Bar.

My dress-digging paid off, as our group won second place. The judges were dazzled by the gowns and the makeup. I have a new alternative career. Always the bridesmaid. It's time to get promoted to play another role.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Impatient Patient

On Easter Monday, my officemate and friend dragged me to the Pain & Rehab clinic in Megamall. I still wanted to make excuses not to go, but I could no longer ignore the pain.

After consulting a doctor and going through initial therapy, I confirmed what my Goggle research had revealed a week and a half ago: I had Tennis Elbow. Yes, you read that right, and no, I didn't take up a new sport.

I had been working out with a personal trainer in the gym since middle of last year. After several months of workout, however, I stopped for around six weeks due to the year-end planning schedule at work and the long Christmas break that the government imposed last December. When I returned to the gym last January, my trainer told me I was back to zero as my muscles had already forgotten the strength of yesteryear. I remembered that she led me to use the machines during that session (I added this to absolve her of any negligence). Afterwards, I felt muscle pain for several days, but thought nothing of it as I had gone through that before.

I noticed, however, "recurring pain on the outside of the upper forearm just below the bend of [my] elbow", as accurately described on the website I linked above . Thinking it would go away, I traveled to Cebu, Bohol, Davao, and Tagum, oftentimes lugging around my heavy office laptop bag containing a recently-purchased extended battery, which I woefully found out also meant extended weight. I blogged about that trip here. A couple of weeks later, I went to Bacolod for the IBP National Convention, and thought nothing about lifting heavy suitcases and boxes. On the second night of that trip, I could hardly move my right arm and preferred to stay in the Planta Hotel Centro (this gets five stars, when I get to write a review) rather than explore the Food Trip city I was in.

The pain was too much that it was an effort to pour water from a pitcher. I rested my arm for a day but felt that the pain was just in hiding. I tried to live with it. During Holy Week, I challenged myself to do a Martha Stewart and cleaned out the laundry basket, cooked tomato and tuyo pasta, wiped Pledge on my wooden dresser, applied Kiwi polish to all my office shoes, replaced our bathroom shower curtains and hooks, exterminated all dust bunnies from under my bed, collected stuff to give away from my closet, sterilized sponges and sinks and ovens, descaled the electric water kettle, sorted out the hangers, and stopped only when it was time to go to church.

The result of my superwoman ambitions was a pain on my elbow that made me wince or yelp every time I tried to open a door or lift my arm. So I did go to that dreaded checkup, and I was told to "avoid gripping" or "anything that causes pain" for four to six weeks. I was given a 45-minute therapy program that I had to go to three times a week. I gulped. Not only was I impatient when it came to repeated activities, I also hated waiting in line, and that clinic had some serious lines after office hours.

The doctor explained that tendons don't heal easily due to poor blood circulation. I humored him and my kind therapist and agreed to come back "as often as I could", but inwardly I just planned to apply the anti-inflammatory gel prescribed and to do the exercises taught me.

Now I'm realizing that I grip a lot on a daily basis. I have to make a conscious effort to open jars using my left hand, to ask for help when opening the gate, to avoid cooking and laundry (two of my favorite chores!), and to sling my bag on my left shoulder. A friend, who had gone through worse pain, encouraged me that going through therapy was good for me.

I hope I don't become too stubborn so that my elbow would heal. And I hope to apply the lessons I am learning to other areas that need healing. You know what I mean.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

An Easter Bunny Seeks Help

From the New Yorker Magazine.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Beautiful Children Concert

I was able to watch the Beautiful Children Concert last night courtesy of my friend from UNICEF.

I read about it from Ticket2Me and grew curious. It was presented by the Beautiful Mind Charity, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, UNICEF, Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Philippines and is sponsored by the United Korean Community Association of the Philippines.

It was a benefit concert for the UNICEF Child Protection Fund. Some of the performers were people with disability, and they were very inspiring. Sang Jae Lee, a visually-impaired clarinetist, made my heart sing with his music. I had goose bumps when Hee Ah Lee, who only had two fingers in each hand and walked on her knees as she had 1st grade Congenital Limb Deformity, played Chopin's Fantaisie Impromptu brilliantly, followed by Anak, which she also sang in Tagalog. I asked myself, how many of us, with all of our fingers intact, do not exert enough effort to hone our skills. I can play the piano some and sing some, but not do both, while there she was, so small yet so powerful with her message of love and friendship.

I forgot to get our copies of the program, but was lucky enough because my date could name the pieces being played from memory. I brought him because I knew he could appreciate music and art. We went around the galleries in CCP before the show started and I asked him, not for the first time, to buy a painting for our living room. He said he'd just commission my eldest brother to paint one. I do hope that happens.

The Filipino artists who performed were soprano Alexis Edralin, who successfully survived a bout with Leukemia, and UNICEF Ambassador Gary Valenciano, the man after my own heart. I think it would have been better had Gary used live music to accompany his rendition of "I Will Be Here" and "The Warrior is a Child". He was supposed to be the surprise special number, but the other artists outshone him because they played live music.

I think nothing compares to going to a concert. Even the most high-tech sound systems and iPods cannot beat the raw emotions of the music emanating from the instruments like the piano, clarinet, flute, violin, cello, and drums. The performers might commit some mistakes but it adds to the authenticity of the experience. I was mesmerized by the movements of the violin, the most romantic musical instrument in my book. I'd like to own one someday even if I don't get to play it.

We ate at one of the restaurants in Harbour Square and remembered Darling Harbour, one of our favorite spots in Sydney. I made a mental note to tell my sister that Manila also had a nice harbour, especially at night.

It was getting late so my father and I went home to tell my mother about the concert. You must have guessed by now. My father, the Koreanovela lover and silent UNICEF sponsor of many years, was the perfect date for that special evening. The concert reminded me of many dreams I had, of helping the children, working for UNICEF, playing the piano, and singing for a cause. After watching a concert like that, I took this with me, that it was not too late to reach my dreams.