Category Archives: friends


Celest 039

Celest is my babe’s guitar.  If you ask him about her, he’d mention things like the length of her neck, the tension of her strings, the acoustic wonder brought about by her sound holes, etc.

I’m a piano girl.  I don’t know about those things.  So let me just say that Celest is a shiny black beauty with deep tones and a teeny buzz.

I’ve always wanted to play the guitar.  Acoustic.  Nylon.  Steel is ok, I guess, but they hurt like hoot.  I love the acoustic guitar’s mellow and, compared to the piano, soft tones.  I love that you play it close to your body, as if embracing it and whispering to it secrets that you would only tell your diary or very best friend.

I was a freshman in college when my dad bought me my first guitar.  It wasn’t a good one since it was the cheapest he could get.  He believed my interest in it was a passing phase and ordered me to stick to piano.   But I badgered him and he relented.  I came home one day to find the very heavy, very painful steel stringed-guitar wrapped in paper in my room.  I appreciated my father even more for that cheap guitar because he got it for me even though he didn’t have to.  So I had to learn how to play.  I had to show him he was wrong about the passing phase thing.  It was summer so I had all the time to practice.  My fingers, and I’m not at all exaggerating here, would have  bled if it hadn’t been for the callouses that formed almost immediately to protect them.  My back, neck, and shoulders hurt.  I woke up in pain with my hands frozen like gnarled roots.  Again, I am not exaggerating.

Then summer ended and it was time again for school.  Piano was my concentration (which had more weight than a minor subject) and I was pretty serious about it, too.  But my teacher was shocked.  “What happened to your left hand?”  She said it was playing awkwardly and heavily.  She eyed it suspiciously and discovered the callouses at the tips.  “Aha!  You’ve been playing guitar!”  She said it like I committed a mortal sin.  She demanded that I stop playing guitar, “that is if you’re really serious about piano…”  So I made a choice.  I had to.  My left hand was never as good as my right but she put up a good fight and was getting there.  But guitar developed tension in her that made her pound the keys like a big bumbling buffoon.  The callouses made her fingers slip from the keys, and, worse, they made faint clacking sounds as she played.  So that evening I came home from piano lesson,  I told my dad I had to stop playing and propped my guitar against the wall until it gathered dust.

Then, after years of countless wonderful distractions, my piano started gathering dust as well.  I no longer practiced 7-12 hours a day.  In fact, 7-12 hours became my year’s worth of playing.  During this time, I rediscovered the guitar.  I had long given away my first guitar, the one with no name.  But a fellow I knew was looking to unload his barely-touched Yamaha C30, a beginners nylon acoustic guitar, and I bought it.  I call her Lizzie and I gave her a feather necklace to make her wholly mine.  She’s on her way to Georgia as I write.

I’m no rockstar who enjoys dangling his guitar while parading onstage.  I play the guitar as an introvert thing, almost a loner thing.  Give me an empty room, a guitar, and a little sunshine streaming in through the window, and I can stay there and play the whole day, or until my fingers bleed.

It takes me a while, though, to sing while playing the guitar.  Always, I start out singing ‘whisperingly’.  Hahaha.  Its soft strains embarrasses my voice and I always croak and choke, sputter like a car that’s been left alone for a long time.  I’ve gotten used to hiding behind my piano, physically and vocally, when I sing.  Singing with the guitar exposes my ears to vocal nuances and flaws I wouldn’t hear if I were singing with the piano.  My voice is more naked and, therefore, as embarrassed as a woman who realizes she’s been walking around the mall without a bra and walks on as if nothing’s missing to make the best of it.  I know the feeling from experience.

So, Celest.

She and I have gotten acquainted long before I met her.  In fact, I helped my babe choose a name for her after he bought her.  But our friendship started when I was online one day and miserably missing my piano.  Typing on the laptop keyboard reminded me of tinkering with Mildred’s keys (Oh, how I miss my clavinova!).  From the  other room, I could almost feel Celest say, “hey”.  Yes.  Nothing witty or wise.   Just… “hey”.   But she said it in a snazzy-friendly way, like cool and kindly stranger who takes pity on you because she notices you’re a bit sad.  So I trudged towards her and played the two songs I remembered from my short guitar venture.  Her strings really hurt and my fingertips doubled their size after a couple of minutes.  My back started aching after ten and my neck straining after 20.  But, boy-o-boy, was I happy.  I played those two songs all afternoon.

Actually, I’m getting a little tired of them.

It’s time to learn something new.


Hello from Georgia

So here I am in my babe’s office hoping he’d drop by from his class so I can ask where the computer center is.

Waiting and listening to the goddess Tori, I decided to look inside the boxes of books I sent him from home.  Some of them were mine and I was pleased to see my Neil Gaiman collection safe and intact.  Among the random tomes, I found, to giddy pleasure, a book given to me by my Glee Club.  It was actually a bunch of letters and miscellaneous comic strips and drawings sturdily bound and covered in plastic.  It’s title: Pumpkin Patch.  The cover was done by the budding artist, Meggy, who drew a Tim Burtonesque jack-o-lantern watering little pumpkins in his patch.  I guess the long-legged Jack is supposed to be me and my girls, the pumpkins.   It was charmingly creepy (or creepily charming) done in black and white because for some reason they thought I was into goth.

Digression:  On one of my birthdays, my club officers asked the girls not to wear anything colorful (a.k.a. only black) because “Ms. Cabel won’t like it.  She’s into goth.”  The truth is, I didn’t NOT like goth but I wasn’t into it as much as they assumed.  I wore mostly black because 1) it was sort of a UP College of Music performers’ uniform.  2) black was easy to mix with … black.   And when you’re a full-time teacher, you don’t have time to mix and match pieces from your closet when dressing up.  But me in black in ICA, it became my thing.  It was a piece of the Ms. Cabel puzzle along with my toy cactus, Pablo, and my ability to swing from one mood to another.

Alright, enough of that.

It’s been a couple of years since I read Pumpkin Patch.  I read it only twice since I got it because, even in my own company, I get very embarrassed when people say nice things about me.  I just go all squirmy and shy, wishing to just explode — poof! — into a cloud so I could hover away.  I know how to react to nastiness but niceness, not always.

I miss my Glee Club.  Those two years of moderating were the most exhausting, most emotionally-draining, and most gratifying of my time as a teacher.  I get teary-eyed just thinking about it.

You see, I’m no longer a teacher.

Here in Georgia, USA, I am not a teacher.  I am not a musician.  Not a writer.  Not an actress.  I’m not despairing, though, because I like where I am now.  I’m finally with my best friend and love and there’s no place I’d rather be.  But everything I was back in the Philippines is a memory for now.   I’m waiting to be who I was meant to be in this new and strange place.

I am in a cocoon and I’m waiting for wings.

The Toxic Teacher and Karma

My Philosophy in Education professor, Arthus Muega, drilled an important point into my and my classmates’ heads early on in the semester.  For our first three sessions, he repeatedly asked us: “What is an educated person?”

It seemed like the most simple of questions, prodding many of us to give the simplest of answers.  Answers that included words such as “schooled”, “learned”, “skilled”, all of which were deemed lacking by our teacher.  Though he never gave us an exact definition, in the end, he offered words like “values” and “morality” that somewhat soften our misses, or at least, gave them a deeper dimension.

When I was a student, I hoped for a few things in my teachers.  I hoped for them to be, not just knowledgeable, but passionate about their subject.  I hoped for them to be friendly and fair and fun to have around.  I guess you could say, I wanted them to be, not perfect, but ‘educated’. 

Teachers are human, yes, but I’m not referring to flaws or mistakes that need forgiving.  My point revolves around Prof. Muega’s question about educated persons.  If your teacher’s actions prove to be consistently vile yet he seems not to care, then his MA or the intelligence he advertises with every opportunity, will always be overshadowed by his deceit and utter disregard for a person’s rights.  In the absence of good values and a sense of morality, his actions, then, declare him to be an uneducated individual. 

If, by now, you have an inkling that I am referring to a real teacher and not some general profile, you read between the lines well.  

toxic.jpg Recently, I have come to realize that a certain teacher I have admired for his intelligence and passion is as toxic as many people have avowed.   I used to look up to him and so forgave him easily for unkind remarks aimed at me or my friends.  I used to defend him from people who would call him two-faced or untrustworthy, retorting that he is, in fact, honest and unafraid to call things as they are.  I believed what he said that every one in his  former department has edged him out because they were too narrow-minded about brilliant (his word) curriculum changes that he had offered.  I applauded him for his recent promotion and wouldn’t agree with others that he had gotten it mostly because of calculated charm and insincere show of support for his superiors.   

An incident of late made me realize what a bane he really was, and how easy it was for him to turn against you when you question his “brilliant” methods.  Suddenly, I saw him for what he was and realized that everyone around me had been right:  he IS narcissistic and two-faced.  This teacher is toxic,  not only because of the things he’s said and done, but more so because he seems to think he has a right to say and do these things because he is, as he had declared so many times, brilliant.  

A friend of mine told me of the time this teacher was wondering out loud, woefully asking why his siblings had all the financial luck in the world when he’s actually the smartest and most talented one among them. 

He wondered. . .

I know why.

The answer is spelled K – A – R – M – A.

rainbow.jpg In fact, after you so unfairly edged me out and caused me to lose my only means of livelihood (of which you were fully aware) this semester, not even a week had passed when blessings started flooding into my life.  This happy deluge has brought exciting opportunities, not just to earn back the living you took from me, but also new directions in my career both in Music and Theatre.  An overflow of love and support has also strengthened my bond with new friends, and renewed my kinship with old ones.  Despite your treachery, I feel so deeply and overwhelmingly loved by the Universe. 

Like I said, KARMA. 

So thank you, erswhile dearest teacher.  Your actions, though vile, have ushered me back to a beloved path.  No sarcasm there.  Truly, I bear no grudge.  I laugh at your continuing malicious actions without malice myself.   Though, I may never trust you again, I wish you all the best in your endeavors and pray that Karma teaches you to value the people around you and treat them with respect and kindness.



‘Twas the Season.  Last Year . .

  1. . . . I would never have written a “Merry Christmas, Everyone!” post.  Least of all, write its title in all caps and with 3 exclamation marks to boot.
  2. . . . I was still gut-wrenchingly missing my dad and couldn’t celebrate.
  3. . . . our beloved half-black-lab/half-askal, Jack, went missing after getting spooked by fireworks.
  4. . . . I didn’t see my best friend when he came home from Thailand because we fought the year before.  Hence, I have not seen him for 2 years.
  5. . . . a trio of students from ICA, whom I call my Beloved Three, and I had a falling out.   My mouth got the best of me and I ended up hurting them.  Another bridge burned by my impulsiveness and temper.  
  6. . . . my Christmas was so uneventful I still can’t remember it.    
  7. . . . #6 is NOT an exaggeration.

‘Tis the Season.  This Year. . .

  1. . . . I am writing a “Merry Christmas, Everyone!” post unabashedly and typing its title in all caps, shouting it to the whole world!
  2. . . . I still miss my dad but he visits me in my dreams whenever I need him.  Or whenever he needs me.  This gives me strength, it does.
  3. . . . our beloved half-black-lab/half-askal, Jack, celebrated Christmas with us.  Last year, a month after he went missing, our helper found him.  He was adopted by a kind family just a street away and was returned to us safe and fat.   A real miracle. 
  4. . . . my best friend came home from Thailand a couple of days ago and we are meeting this week!  He and I patched things up via YM a few months ago but his work brings him to places without internet so we have a lot to catch up on and finally will.
  5. . . . one of my Beloved Three YMed me recently and declared us still friends.  We are meeting this January! Weeee! 
  6. . . . I celebrated the best Christmas EVER because of new friends the-choir.jpg, old ones renewed image008.jpg, a wonderful family, and my music — my soul — reborn.  I FINALLY (finally, finally!) found my way back to myself.  This is the best Christmas ever because I have finally allowed it to be so.     
  7. . . . #6 is NOT an exaggeration! 😀



From Pablo Honey and Cabsy!