Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Thirty Eeeeks

Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek. Eeeek.
(ok. at least not for another five hours...officially.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ano raw??! (Triple XXX)


1. "You complete me."

2. Ganda brip mo pare. Niiiiiiiiice.

3. Have you met Goliath and his bag?

4. Yessssssss. Alive! Alive! Alive forevermore...!

5. Know. I don't NO you!

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Thank You. I Needed That

Hardly seven hours had passed since my last instance of broken heart and spirit today. From 11am until a few seconds ago, I have been masking the devastation over my recent failure with a fake smile plastered on my about-to-reveal-itself face. Now, alone in my cubicle, with just a handful of people remaining in the 7th floor, I quietly wept...not for anything, but just to get the pain off my chest, to get it over and done with.

About six years ago, Miss Saigon arrived in Manila. To my mind, the signs were all there--my company was insuring it, my voice was getting more mature and full, and the schedule of auditions were opportune for me--thus, I decided to hop to the Cultural Center of the Philippines basement in order to enlist for an audition slot. I remember having been very proud of our very own Lea Salonga when she played the lead role Kim at West End. Back in first year high school, using my well-saved allowance money, I bought a double cassette of the original soundtrack of Miss Saigon. I actually photocopied my friend's CD liner for the lyrics, so I could read-along, if not sing-along, to every song in the tape. I have virtually memorized each and every one by the third day of constant listening to it; Why God Why and Bui-doi, being my favorites. I dreamt of landing a role in the production. I didn't care whether it was being in the Chorus or one of the "extras"...I just wanted in.

When I turned 17, screening for Miss Saigon Germany came to the Philippines. I was too young, so they didn't bother hearing me sing. I was just simply told to come back again next year. The following year, I missed the next screening. Either I was too busy with school, or they didn't come at all. To this very day, I still do not know. At 24 years old, equipped with a more mature, more masculine, and stronger baritone voice courtesy of practice with the UP Singing Ambassadors in college, I finally convinced myself that if I don't make it to this Manila season of Saigon, I'm never going to make it anywhere.

I prepared for the audition, May 25th 1030am, by daily rehearsals, memorizing, singing in front of the mirror, refraining from cold drinks, and actually going up to the rooftop of my office every lunch and coffee breaks to rehearse at the top of my lungs. Come Thursday the 25th, I boarded the MRT to Taft silently humming my audition piece--Bui-doi.

The hall of the audition area was packed with performer wannabees. I was number 648. When my number was called, I nervously went inside the audition room, walked feverishly into the X-mark on the floor, and prayed the Our Father about one million times in my head. The two auditioners asked me what I was singing, and when I said Bui-doi, they asked the pianist to take it from the lasts chorus. I sweated like a pig. This song is best sang in a gradually raising pitch, not by hitting it on the highest note--that is, the THIRD fricking chorus. With yet another Our Father in my head, I sang the first note. I miraculously hit all the high notes and sang it completely albeit nervously. Upon finishing, I got about five seconds of silence...and then a "Thank you." I have been rejected. I grunted a disappointed sigh, and walked towards the door with my head down. And then one of the auditioners called out, "Wait. Can you stay while we discuss you?" For the love of God, the panel is discussing whether I should move on to phase two (the dancing) or not. It was the longest 30 seconds of my life...only to be told for the second time those two words that I normally like hearing under normal circumstances, but not at that particular moment: Thank you.

I texted all my well-wishers that I didn't make it to Saigon. I got a handful of sorry's and it's-OK's. But I wasn't calmed. I was welling up, and just about ready to breakdown...but I couldn't, because I couldn't afford having the just-cried eyebags when I was actually on my way to work. I kept the pain of rejection locked inside my chest and masked by a fake happy face. The day finished and so did my act. In the shower, as I was caressing my face under the running water for the hundredth time, I wept. And, boy, did I weep hard. I guess you could say that I did not take that rejection too well.

And now, like being thrown into a time machine, I am reliving the same experience all over again. Only this time, it wasn't Saigon but Hong Kong Disneyland...and I was so much older and so much more prepared and qualified.

In preparation for opportunities and events like these, I enrolled in voice lessons. Some time later, when my teacher was already telling me that I should audition for something professional in singing, I finally got convinced that I was, indeed, ready.

The audition process was almost identical, except this one was held not in CCP but in San Miguel in Ortigas. I was 30 minutes early for my 10am call time. I was number 39. My two music sheets were ready and taped and numbered and highlighted: Out There and To Where You Are. When it was my turn, all the nerves started calming down. I *knew* that I was qualified and ready for that singing part. And I have prepared well.

On my 16th measure in the music sheet, the male Caucasian auditioner held his hand up and said to me the same words that broke my heart six years ago: "Thank you" and then followed by "That's all we need for now". I was prolly transparent about my disappointment that the white female one told me, "You are perfectly good in your voice range, but we are looking for a powerful high classic-rock tenor." I just smiled. That smiled translated to, "Oh, what the fuck. Like THAT will change the fact that I am NOT going to HK Disney!"

I was "re-devastated", just like Saigon days. Only this time, I was truly surprised that I wasn't as pained/shattered as the first one...but nevertheless hurt and disappointed.
As I was walking semi-dazed from San Miguel to Shangri-La Hotel (where I had to stay a while, sit in the lobby, and just let the feeling of disappointment pass), I had a thought: "Why do I keep bothering to better myself in the vocal department when nobody from where I want to be doesn't want me anyway? Perhaps I should just quit." Every step I made, every cadence, just staccatoed the depression and the newfound feeling of being dispirited. I did decide to just throw in the towel and abandon my cause to make it in the performing arts...until five minutes later when all the support and comfort poured in.

Sheila and Grace were the first ones to cheer me up. I was just with them the night before my auditions, when I told them that I really have set my eyes and heart and mind on doing Disney. Sheila texted me and said that I shouldn't feel bad about it, because it was prolly not meant for me; at least not at the mo'. Grace actually called me after having belatedly received my notice that I flunked the auditions for Disney. She said that she just wanted to make sure I was OK and not so devastated, knowing how much I wanted this part; that she was almost certain that in her book, I really would've gotten the part. Maita texted also and said something really sweet: that it was actually Disney's loss that they did not hire me, and that I shouldn't really feel so bad because she's proud of me anyway for even just mustering my courage to audition. These words would have sounded baloney or hardcore bola under normal circumstances...but at the mo', they felt more like words of love, support, and encouragement. So, thanks girls.

Pink also talked to me on the phone to tell me it was OK, and to make sure that I was, indeed, feeling OK...despite the fact that I said in an earlier text that I was walking almost aimlessly and would have to sit somewhere to calm my nerves.

The most touching and encouraging words I got, however, were from my voice teacher Agnes, whose reputation is being one of the University of the Philippines' best altos. She immediately texted me when I told her I failed: "That's OK. Just keep auditioning. You have a great voice." I smiled a little getting that from her, so I texted back: "Thanks, Agnes. Your confidence in me means a lot." She replied by saying: "I know a great voice when I hear it. And plus, your musicality is also very good. Just keep trying. Your time will come."

Thank you, I needed that. In times like this, when people are at their lowest, it helps to provide comfort and support, and a whole lot of love and compassion. And it is in these times when one really gets a glimpse of how much blows he can take...and when he needs help.

Upon closing my phone inbox, I had a renewed attitude: why quit when I can just continue the development and preparation where I left off? Let this failure, this dent, be a reminder that I am a strong man who can move on by learning from this experience...that this failure, which did not fully break me anyway, will--as the cliché goes--only make me stronger.

I will move on. I will do better. I will continuously improve myself and stand firm and resolute amidst trials and future failures. And the next time I write a blog entry regarding an audition, it will also be with these words: Thank You...I finally made it.

Of course, this renewed positive attitude did not, at all, stop me from buying a brand spanking new enormous Diesel watch (aka Manila City Hall Wall Clock) to cheer me up. Nobody ever said I could not buy qick-fix happiness anyway.