Ma’am, I Am

They are powerful, aren’t they? I am called so many things: some I prefer, others I dislike.






Ms. Cabel.

Ms. C.

They are facets but they are all me. I answer to them all.

I used to hate my name. I got teased for it a lot because a famous namesake is a Pinay actress known for her stupidity. Although I found the jokes quite funny (Ordering a BigMac at Mcdonalds, she was asked “for here?” She answered, “No. For Vandolph.”) but I always ended up the butt of it, too.

I think I was in high school when, after admitting my loathing for it, I asked my mom if could change my name. But then she told me, “Don’t you know that ‘Alma’ means ‘soul’ in Spanish?” That was my redemption. Many years later, my didi in yoga told me that ‘Alma’ means ‘soul’ in Sanskrit as well. It helped when I learned of a family myth: my great grandmother may have been Indian, one of many who settled in Ilocos back in the early 1900s. My father’s clan can’t tell for sure because she was ostracized after her husband died unexpectedly. Defeated, she disappeared, leaving behind her son and the mystery of her roots and mine.

A few years ago, my Hungarian teacher, Lazlo Nemes, asked me if I knew what ‘Alma’ meant in his mother tongue. Armed with both Spanish and Sanskrit meanings, I bravely said yes. But to my surprise — and to his amusement — he said succintly: ‘apple’.

From ‘soul’ to ‘apple’. It bothered me at first, but then I realized it wasn’t so bad. At the very core of me, my soul. Sometimes, in this confusing, noisy and fast-paced world, I have to dig deep to find solace within myself. So, it’s apt. It’s all good.


10 thoughts on “Ma’am, I Am

  1. Interesting stuff you have here. I’m a teacher, too, though reluctant to say which subject. I’ve always been fascinated by music and I’m looking forward to reading your posts. πŸ™‚

  2. lizzie5apple says:

    Welcome and thank you. Please visit again.

  3. Dennise says:

    Hiya πŸ™‚
    My folks offered to change my name too…I stuck with it since I found it pretty unique. I can Google my name easily too haha.

    I asked you about it once and I believe you said it bothered you that people think you’re a girl. πŸ˜€ Well, it IS unique and people get used to the unusual spelling after a while. πŸ™‚

  4. Jovi says:

    Hey, thanks for dropping by my blog… πŸ™‚ I’ll link you up as well…

    You’re welcome. It was my pleasure! πŸ˜€

  5. finch says:

    i heart your name no worries . kudos to your blog =) cheers

    Thank you. πŸ™‚ I “heart” it now, too. Thanks for dropping by, finch!

  6. Maynard Enrile says:

    Ah.. there you are!

    I saw you last 2001 (I think). It had been a brief moment but I remember it well. We met at the UP Film Center while your choir performed. You called my name from across two rows and I responded by jumping out of my seat, greedily indulging on that event of us crossing paths. I honestly did not know whether to hug you or shake your hand. Well, it’s been almost 8 years since then, ten when I first listened to your composition and eleven since we ran around the rolling fields of loyola. I almost forgot about you but when I was randomly watching videos on youtube, I stumbled upon Alicia’s Attic. Remember when I told you how the blonde one reminded me of you? Then I started to think “Where is she now?”. I googled you and found several sites linked to you. I already added you to my ym list… since you are active online, I assume the you’re still using your ym.

    See you around Mam Cabel (wow you have a lot of names these days).

    πŸ˜€ Maynard, I remember you well! What a wonderful surprise! Yes, I, too, can recall that Awitan year when I spotted you among the audience. I remember that you were so very thin then, gaunt almost. There were times when I would wonder how you were doing, but, like most teachers who never see their students again, I filed your name among my most cherished and wished you the best in life wherever you were. Gee, I almost forgot about that night when I awkwardly sang my songs during the poetry reading, and how a trio of students carried the clavinova up a flight of stairs to the rooftop just so I could play live. (You might have been one of them. haha) I was such a young teacher then. I wasn’t a very good one but I knew, because of you and Ateneo, that it was my calling and I could be better.

    Yes, I am still using my YM. I’m online during the wee hours of the night. Still an insomniac. I am really happy you found me. πŸ™‚ Let’s keep in touch, Enrile! πŸ˜›

  7. Reverend Eslam from T.H.E 001 Music in Western Australia is seeking at least five trained vocalists (one operatic soprano, one pop soprano, one pop contralto, one pop baritone and one pop tenor) to rehearse and record three albums of some of his songs for release on compact disc and the internet.

    If you know anybody who may be interested in this project you are welcome to pass his details on to them. He is prepared to pay a genuine AUD$500 finders fee for any suitable vocalists you refer. The finders fee shall be paid to you on signing a contract with the singer(s) you refer.

    Reverend T.H. Eslam
    T.H.E 001 Music
    PO Box 1001,
    Claremont, WA 6910

    PS ATMA is Sanskrit for spirit

  8. Hey Alma, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and all your family!

  9. pichieriuzen says:

    hello po! you have very interesting insights about two things I strive to really understand right now: teaching and music. it’s good to know another passionate teacher; I believe there’s only a few of your kind. keep inspring your students.
    and oh, I’m in sir muega’s class this sem.^_^

    • Liz says:

      Hi, pichie! Sorry to reply just now. I’ve been busy with relocating. 😦 Are you a now a music teacher or still a music teacher-to-be? Passion is vital to become a great teacher. It’s such a challenge. Headaches and heartaches abound. Passion is the one thing that kept me going.

      Thank you for your kind words! Enjoy your class with Sir Muega. πŸ™‚

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