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Saturday, August 27, 2011

My First Poem

This is the first poem I ever wrote. Maybe not the very first, because I remember, when I was in second grade, our English teacher then asked us to write a poem about Jesus. I wrote something with "Jesus, King of the Jews" in one of the stanzas, but I didn't have a copy of that. It was a school activity. The poem I'm going to share with you is something I didn't write for school. I wrote it because I wanted to.

A Tree, A Friend

A tree is a friend
A friend that never end
Giving us fresh air
Here and everywhere.

God created a tree
For you and me
For us to share
That fruits that it bear

Trees that God made
Trees that give us shade
A shade that can make us cool
So the leaves, please don't pull

Let's take care of the trees
Make them increase
Let's take care of nature
For the better of our future

I wrote the poem when I was 10. I wrote it because I love Joyce Kilmer's poem, Trees, which we memorized and recited individually when we were in third grade for Reading class. Actually, back in third grade also, our Language teacher made us write a poem on trees. I wrote the first stanza of this poem in third grade; I submitted a two-stanza poem. And then, when I was 10, I decided to add stanzas to my poem on trees. I kept the first stanza, changed the second, and added two more.

I submitted this to our elementary school paper when I was in fifth grade. It didn't get published. I tried again the following year, and it had the same fate. When I was a high school freshman, I tried again, but it didn't see print. I decided to just keep it.

Reading it now, I'm laughing at myself for the grammatical errors I'm seeing. Comparing it with my more recent works, this poem pales in terms of choice of words and style. And let's not forget grammar. Haha! But still, I treasure this poem. I thought I've already lost this. So imagine how happy I am when I found it as I was rummaging through some old CDs.

When I wrote poems back then, I wanted them to have rhyme. Hence, this poem's rhyming last words. I also wanted them to convey messages, like a call of action or something. I hope, despite the limitations of this poem, it did impart an important message: that we must take care of nature. After all, as Joyce Kilmer had written:

"Poems are made by fools like me
But only God can make a tree."

Monday, August 22, 2011

Adam and Eve

In the beginning,

Man and woman were welcomed
Into the Garden of Eden,
Where richness thrives
In the fruit-bearing trees,
Fresh, cool water from the springs,
And sweet-smelling grass.

All those were theirs to enjoy.
Nothing was scarce.
They would know no famine or drought
In that paradise of a garden.
Except for one condition
That sounded so simple.

That man and woman should not touch
The fruit from the Tree of Knowledge
Of Good and Evil.
Lest, they be banished from paradise,
And face each waking day with hardships,
And struggle for survival.

What a price to pay for awakening
To what is true, to what is real.
What god was it to make man and woman
Follow so blindly, and take away
Their means of knowing.

And so they heard a voice,
A voice that was different
Saying something different,
"Eat it, taste it. The fruit
From the Tree of Knowledge.
Take a bite, and you'll see."

And they did, and they saw
That they were naked.
Hid themselves in shame.
But what was there to be ashamed of?
That they were standing in their bare glory?
Or was it because of fear?

Alas, man and woman had to pay
For what they did, for opening their eyes
To what was being concealed.
With nothing in their hands,
And nothing on their bodies,
They walked away from paradise.

-Katherine Lopez
22 August 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bad Dream

Last night, I had a really bad dream. There was an aswang right outside my bedroom. And I was SOOOOOOO scared because it wanted to get inside my room and probably devour me. My mom and I were in my room, and we were praying the rosary nonstop. The aswang was just at the other side of my door, and I leaned on it with all my strength so the aswang wouldn't be able to open the door. I was praying the rosary, reciting the mysteries and prayers out loud. The aswang didn't go away, and I could hear its screams and ghastly sounds, but it couldn't enter my room because of our prayers.

In my dream, this battle with the aswang lasted for a whole night. I could already see the black sky turning gray, but the battle wasn't over! How weird because aswangs are afraid of daylight, right? Just like vampires. Anyway, in my dream, I already finished praying five mysteries of the rosary (couldn't remember if I prayed the joyful, sorrowful, glorious, or luminous), but the aswang was still there. So I held my rosary more tightly and started praying another set.

My mom went out of my room to go to my sister's room. I opened the door a bit so she could go out, and closed it quickly so the aswang wouldn't enter my room (wasn't it weird that the aswang was only after me? It didn't attack my mom even if she went out of my room, right where it was). While my mom was out, I kept on praying out loud. I peeked under the door and saw the aswang's ugly, gray, monster-like feet. I inserted my rosary underneath and waved it left and right. The aswang stepped back, while letting out ghastly screams, so its feet wouldn't touch the rosary. When my mom came back, I opened the door for her, but just a bit so the aswang couldn't enter. She quickly came in and I shut the door immediately. I leaned on the door and prayed and prayed and prayed....

And then I woke up! Finally! It was probably around 5 a.m. The sky outside was gray, and the lights from the lampposts outside were already being turned off. Whew! How relieved I was that it was just a dream. I prayed to God for this great relief and for guidance and protection.

What does my dream mean? I don't know. Maybe the things that bother me manifested in my dream in the form of that aswang. Or maybe it's just a reminder from The One Above about the power of prayer. That through prayer, nothing is impossible. And He'll always be there for us as long as we constantly communicate with Him. Maybe He's just calling on me to pray more. :)

Anyway, I'm really glad that it was just a dream. I don't want to dream of it again. From now on, I'll remember to think happy thoughts before I sleep. And to pray.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Beautiful Ballet and Some Thoughts on Art

Last night, I watched a ballet performance in a theater for the first time. My dearest and I watched Encantada, Ballet Philippines' season opener. It depicted man's relationship with nature in the context of our colonial history. During the pre-colonial times, the Filipinos were in harmony with nature, worshiping the deities who reside in the different elements, like earth and water. When the Spaniards came, they used religion to colonize the Filipinos. They submitted to this religion, but they were abused by the colonizers. A man sought refuge in the arms of nature and was cradled by the diwatas (deities). He was healed of all his wounds, and had a good life with them. But the Spaniards found him, killed him, and destroyed nature. They thought they had won, but nature got back at them in the form of calamities. In the end, the diwatas won; Mother Earth prevailed, and harmony was restored between man and nature.

It is a simple story but it holds so much truth and meaning. Destruction of nature has begun centuries ago, and now until the years to come, we will be reaping the consequences. The calamities aren't nature's way of being vengeful; calamities are our own doing. They are the results of raping Mother Earth. But I believe, a tinge of hope, no matter how tiny, still remains. If we change our ways, it won't be impossible to restore our own harmony with the environment.

I was really excited to watch Encantada, not just because it was the first ballet performance I would be watching in a theater, but I was looking forward to the beauty and talent I would be seeing on stage. I wasn't disappointed. Even before the curtains were up for the first act, the music already sent shivers down my spine. When the curtains were lifted, I was in awe with the set on stage and dancers' formations. When they started dancing and depicting nature, I was completely blown away. When you look at how they move, their steps seemed easy, or maybe, they made it look so easy and simple even if they really weren't, but they were so graceful and powerful. Their arm movements symbolized tree branches, the wind, water, and the healing hand of nature. I particularly couldn't forget the scene when the man who fled from the Spaniards came to the diwatas' lair. He was unconscious, and seven ballerinas rolled side by side, with him on top of them, and made it look like he was floating on the river. Amazing!

There were quite a lot of scenes when I didn't know where to focus my gaze on the stage, because they were all so good. Sure, there was a principal dancer, who danced the main part, but those playing the supporting roles were also grabbing my attention. Everything was well-choreographed, especially the fighting scenes. The dancers were all so beautiful and they were all so good.

The diwatas after the show

When the performance was over and they were all bowing for the curtain call, I felt like giving them a standing ovation. I wish I could've stood up, but no one else was standing up, so I kinda felt awkward. But maybe they were just waiting for someone to start it, so now, I regret not giving them a standing ovation. They deserved it.

I was also happy because my dearest enjoyed the show, too. It was also his first time to watch such a performance. He said he was inspired to draw and paint more diwatas, and he will now paint them dancing, just like what he saw on stage. During the 15-minute intermission and after the show, we were discussing the show, talking about the message, the story, and the way the cast danced. It was a lovely experience.

I look forward to watching other ballet performances. I look forward to seeing more of the Filipinos' artistic talent. And I hope, more people will get to appreciate it. Art isn't only for the rich, the elite, or those who can afford it. It's supposed to be for everyone. It represents our culture. It's a tool to raise consciousness. More than a form of expression, art speaks of what we are and what we can offer to the world. So let's go see how talented we are.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Glimpse of My '90s: The Cranberries

While I was in poetry drought in the past two weeks, I've been reliving my childhood through some '90s music. It was Aqua at the start of the week, then it became The Cranberries that gave me a major LSS (Last Song Syndrome). It started when my dearest posted a music video of one of their songs, Linger, on my Facebook wall. Then, I looked for the music video of my favorite Cranberries song.

That's Ode To My Family. Well, to be honest, I didn't know that its title was Ode To My Family. All I knew was that it was a song that starts with "doo doo doo doo...". Haha! Thanks to Youtube, I was able to find the music video and learn about the title as well. Haha!

I remember we had a cassette tape of The Cranberries (woohooo a cassette tape!). My dad would play it on Sunday mornings (that is, if my memory is right). Back then, I couldn't understand the lyrics. I really suck at deciphering lyrics even up to now. But despite that, I like the song; the vocalist Dolores O'Riordan's voice is clear and beautiful, and the song's melody is great for chilling out. And now that I already know the lyrics, the song has another plus for me.

When I was I think in fourth or fifth grade, we attended a talk about backward masking. The Cranberries was one of the bands mentioned in the talk. The speaker said their songs had evil messages. I couldn't remember if the speaker pointed out a specific song. Maybe it was their song Zombie.

That's evil? I don't think so. I did some Googling about the song. It's a protest song meant to criticize the bombing in Warrington, Cheshire in 1993.

The Cranberries have other great songs. I like Linger and Just My Imagination, too. So I'm going to end this post here, look for their songs online (I couldn't find the cassette tape anymore. Haha!), and enjoy listening to them.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Barbie Girl

Hello, '90s kids! Who among you doesn't know (or who doesn't have even the tiniest bit of familiarity with) this song?

I loved this song when I was a kid. I used to dance to this song, especially during Christmas parties with relatives when kids were "required" to dance or sing or perform anything in exchange for aguinaldo (money given to kids by godparents or any adult during Christmas). This song was just so fun to listen and dance to. Adding to that is the oh-so-playful music video. Everything about this song was so lovable to my kiddie eyes and ears.

That was because I didn't know the meaning behind this song's lyrics. Haha! I mean, hello? It's Barbie and Ken going to a party together. What could possibly be wrong with that? That's what I used to think.

Not until I listened to this song again as an adult did I realize that this song is about sex. Like hello, hanky panky? I agree with one comment in Youtube about this: "I just realised how dirty this song is...O_O" (yeah the exact words published there). I'm not gonna go moralistic here by saying that songs like these should be banned yadda yadda yadda. What I'm concerned about is that kids who listen (or should I say listened, because this song isn't played in the radio or wherever anymore) to this song, or to these kinds of songs, might wake up to the wrong notions of sex - that it's just a "hanky panky", or a mere game, instead of it being done in the context of love and commitment and responsibility.

So what are we going to do now? I believe it is important that adults - parents, aunts, uncles, godparents, among others - must get to know the things that their little ones are exposed to. I'm not saying that we should be strict and let the kids watch only Dora the Explorer. But rather, we must be aware of the TV shows they watch, the music they listen to, and the games they play so that when we see that they are watching Rated-PG shows, or hear that they are singing along to songs that aren't appropriate for their age, we can explain very well what those shows or songs are trying to say. This way, they get to learn about sex or any sensitive topic from people they can truly trust and who truly care about them.

Meanwhile, I can't seem to stop hitting the replay button. I can't help but reminisce my childhood with this song, when I was still a young and innocent girl whose means of "earning money" was performing in front of relatives during Christmas parties. :) Haha!