Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Innocence And Hope

“Alalahanin, gunitain…
Kahapon natin, sariwain.
Nang kay lumanay, agos ng buhay.
Alalahanin, gunitain.

Nang puso nati’y wala pang galos,
Pangarap nati’y wala pang gapos.
Alalahanin, gunitain…
Kahapon natin, sariwain.”

— “Alalahanin, Gunitain” from the musical Sinta

I grew up with the musical Sinta. In high school I joined the theater group that staged it every Valentine’s Day, and every year I got to watch it. Sinta was Onofre Pagsanghan and company’s transplantation of the Broadway musical The Fantasticks. Transplantation is more than just translation; Mr. Pagsi changed the American elements into Pinoy references that will immediately connect with Filipinos.

Sinta is a bittersweet ode to innocence lost; growing up involves both lessons and losses. It is also about the duality of the world, where there exists both night and day, love and hate, excitement and boredom—and how one actually becomes more meaningful because of the other.

It is a story of two childhood friends, Sinta and Narding. Their fathers, pretending to be fierce rivals, forbade them to see one another. Knowing the rebellious nature of kids, the fathers wanted the two to do the opposite and fall in love. So they did, and the first act ends on a happy note. But in the second act, Sinta and Narding find out that togetherness isn’t at all the stuff of romance novels. They get on each other’s nerves and long for freedom. Sinta goes off with another guy who eventually leaves her, while Narding experiences the harsh realities of life. Defeated, both return to each other a little older, a little sadder, and a little wiser. They also learn to forgive each other; in the Broadway version, the lyrics go, “Without the hurt, the heart is hollow.”

I even joined the cast for one performance. I played the mute “stage hand” (in the play he’s just billed as “Bakod”). It was a privilege and a thrill and a terrifying experience.

The line “without the hurt, the heart is hollow” has been echoing in my mind these past few days. I’ve heard that line so many times before, and yet it’s only now that I appreciate its implications.

When I was young and disappointed, it was so easy for me to take the cynic route. Been there, done that. Whatever. Life’s a bitch. Love hurts. There’s no such thing as a soul mate. At that time it was easy to think that way because I felt that I still had my whole life ahead of me. I was practically daring Fate to prove me wrong. Because if I were wrong, then life would be rosy, love would be sweet and I’d have a soul mate. And for the longest time I boxed myself into a peculiar comfort zone where fear of rejection defined the four corners.

But now that I’m older the words “finish line” gain new meaning and relevance. I had to question the comfort zone I’ve created for myself. Of course I still believe that life isn’t always rosy, love isn’t all sweetness and light, and there is no One True Soul Mate. But I also see more the value of hope. I can never go back to the innocence I’ve already lost. But I can hope that life can still be what we make it to be.

I really don’t know why I’m talking about this. I don’t even have the soundtrack to both musicals. I’m not even in love.

Must be the sight of all that Aji-No-Moto on the highway—the vetsin’s gone to my head.

(P.S. Thanks to Bong and Anonymous [XanderKhan, was that you?] for pointing out several corrections.)


Anonymous said...

it's narding, not carding =)

Dong R. said...

I passed along your bit of wisdom regarding "without a hurt, a heart is hollow" to a friend going through a difficult time lately. He happened to walk in on his wife of 17 years with another man. The lessons of life are painful and only appreciated with time and distance, aren't they?

joelmcvie said...

OH! MY! GAWD! Dong!!! You're still reading this! Grabe, natuwa naman ako. :-)

Oh boy, yes! Lessons are best learned when emotions have died down. But isn't it funny, though? The head can only operate calmly when the heart has calmed down too. Then the head can tell the heart the lessons learned, so that the heart can move on and (hopefully) be a little wiser. But sometimes the heart doesn't really learn, doesn't it?

Pain. What a teacher, huh?

* * * * *

I've heard those words since high school, but I'm only appreciating them now. I think this is why "All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten" is a bestseller, hahaha!

Anonymous said...

who's xanderkhan? don't sell yourself short. you actually have more readers than you think =)

joelmcvie said...

TAMBLING! (kablog!)

Anonymous said...

Hey Joel...been reading bits and pieces of your blog to much enjoyment and mirth, of course. Was beginning to wonder when you were going to mention Sibol (and all its glory, faded or otherwise)... Such a lovely senti mode you got me into...

I remember, there was a time when we used to jeer at people who were 'senti' --all that high school machismo so misplaced. I was never sure if they liked or disliked you if you were called senti...I'm thinking both. It was ok to be sensitive and kind but not to the point of mush or as Mr. Pagsi warned me one painful summer day, having the 'swish.'

You brought me back to the memory of dropping tinsel rain down Sinta and Narding...and once, believe it or not, I was even up there in the rafters with someone very special. That Valentine's day was certainly one for the books... ;-)

I haven't been back to the old stomping ground, not since there was this girl who was in the Reunion who turned out to be a GUY. Perhaps Mr. Pagsi has seen the light.

Of course, nowadays WE pretty much bump into each other in the dark corners of Valhalla/Moana streets...and I wonder, do we need professional help? Whatever happened to the magis, the more?

I am thinking it is still there, just distracted by all that lovely, available MANMEAT!

Last note: I went to Government about two weeks ago and somebody grabbed me and said, 'Hey you should meet this guy, he's from Sibol too!' So I shake hands and make small talk. I ask him, what batch are you from? He answers: 2006. He's an incoming sophomore in college, born the same friggin year I graduated from Sibol. My life flashed before my eyes.

Alalahanin, gunitain indeed.
Keep 'em coming Mcvie!


joelmcvie said...

J: Huwell, huwell, huwell! I really am dying to tackle the Pink Eagles, DS Chapter. Kaya lang... hot issue itoh! Hahahaha.

Really? Batch 2006, gumo-Government na? Alam ba ito ni Mr. Pagsi? Kailangan bang i-share 'to sa kanya sa isang Yahweh session?

AFRAID! Ahahahahahahaha! Tambling to death.