Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Radio Television Bidadari Chamber Orchestra

17 March
Edna: Congratulations on your debut concert with us, Mr. Park. We are indeed blessed to have you, such an internationally-renowned composer, here as our musical director at Radio Television Bidadari. There's one small problem, though.
Mr. Park: What would it be?
Edna: I understand that there is all these... newfangled ideas. Pieces with no melody, pieces with no rhyme and reason. I think the general audience would be more appreciative without hearing those pieces... such as... such as...
Mr. Park: I understand our delivery of Metastasis might be causing a stir, but that could be partly due to how Xenakis composed it, you see.
Edna: Yes, that piece. Someone phoned in to comment that this piece was "weird". I guess it would have to go.
Mr. Park: And that is supposed to mean "bad"?
Edna: Of course! It's such a terrible thing to be weird! And such a terrible thing if someone else suggests that you could be weird. So terrible, terrible!
Mr. Park: What about the Requiem, sung by my extremely talented vocalists?
Edna: Weird too! It gave me nightmares! Who's this guy Ligeti who did this? Never play any of his pieces again.

1 April
Mr. Park: It sure is hot in the studio today, Edna. Maybe you should get someone to get the air-conditioning fixed.
Edna: Do you think I don't know what you're getting at, Mr. Park?
Mr. Park: What do you mean?
Edna: Look at the date for today, Mr. Park.
Mr. Park: But the aircon is really down!
Edna: I meant the piece that aired this morning, Mr. Park. The 1817 Overture. I hope that was a joke.
Mr. Park: Edna, 1817 is a famous and beloved composition by the great Tchaikovsky. It can't go wrong.
Edna: Well, I heard cannon noises in there. Something could go very wrong, Park! What have you been using our studio space for? Someone could have been hurt by this innovation of yours.
Mr. Park: This was a misundertanding, Edna. 1817 has always had cannons for accompaniment. Besides, I had the cannons edited into the soundtrack in post-production, so it's perfectly safe.
Edna: But it's all so harsh, Mr. Park... I understand that Tchaikovsky might be intending to simulate some kind of war somewhere, but music is meant to be sweet, pleasant, orderly... the general audience doesn't want to hear about violence and strife, they want good, wholesome and inoffensive music. Aren't we all here to provide for the needs of the people? Maybe you'll do good just getting down from your ivory tower.

10 May
Mr. Park: I just auditioned the most promising young pianist today.
Edna: Agreed. Jeanne Choo put up a great show in front of everyone in the panel this morning.
Mr. Park: I was referring to the guy, Justin Thomas.
Edna: Justin Thomas? No, he didn't make the cut.
Mr. Park: Why? Please call him back! I would like to have him in the team.
Edna: Justin didn't put up a good show, to be honest. He wasn't... serious enough in his playing. Maybe a tad too... animated as well. It's hard to explain. We didn't feel too good about him. Maybe he's just too much of a show-off.
Mr. Park: Maybe you rejected him because he was enjoying himself too much!
Edna: I dunno. It doesn't seem proper. Good music is always serious.
Mr. Park: In that respect, well, I hope Jeanne is serious enough.
Edna: Yep, Jeanne's in, in fact.

12 May
Mr. Park: Jeanne Choo doesn't seem all that good, Edna. It's not just her playing; she refused to start working with me on my composition today. And would you know the reason to that? She says that it's in A flat major; it's too hard.
Edna: These kids are the most brilliant young musicians in the country. It is conceivable that some of them may still have a lot to improve on. Be patient with them, alright?
Mr. Park: You must admit that it is rather more difficult to fix an attitude problem.
Edna: You must admit that A flat major is really quite hard; it's four flats, after all. You only think it's easy because you have the standards already. Please think about guiding them to this standard, rather than judging them.
Mr. Park: That problem is not really hard to work around, is it? It's quite basic-
Edna: It's not hard, Mr. Park... Just get rid of all the accidentals.
Mr. Park: No, that's hardly what I meant!
Edna: I hate accidentals. They're annoying.
Mr. Park: Excluding pieces with accidentals would mean excluding a whole lot of perfectly good compositions, Edna. Jeanne wouldn't even need the black keys on the piano anymore. She could just substitute it with a toy piano instead, with notes from Do to Do, don't you agree?
Edna: No, not a toy piano! That's just not respectable.

27 May
Mr. Park: We just had our first public concert in a long while. I think we did a good job, despite all the constraints that I was obliged to work with: All the pieces that I composed or adapted had to be in C major, for one. And they also had to be all in 4/4 time, and be at a speed of sixty crotchets per minutes or less. I managed to make it interesting, and both our audience and our musicians enjoyed the show quite a lot. Even Jeanne Choo didn't kick up a fuss like she usually did, because she was on sick leave.
Edna: I am appalled that despite all our rules and regulations, you still managed to screw up our public concert, Mr. Park. It's the worst one I've ever seen executed.
Mr. Park: Excuse me, I stand by my own positive reviews of my own concert, if you would please bear with my hubris for the moment.
Edna: What an arrogant thing to say, Mr. Park.
Mr. Park: Maybe you didn't like my composition with the theremin, Edna?
Edna: Theremins don't make music, they just make wailing noises. And I wouldn't stand for such frivolities as a musical saw. Some things are just meant for carpentry, and carpentry only. And the third piece in the programme, the one called Arirang... That's just... too pentatonic, too folksy, too "old". The general audience don't like that.
Mr. Park: That's a very famous Korean ballad, Edna, it's traditional.
Edna: Korea's just so far away, so exotic... I just feel something closer to our consciousness would work better. Who cares about Korea?
Mr. Park: ... Well, the audience did seem to enjoy our music.
Edna: It's all just a vocal minority of people, right? A vocal minority.
Mr. Park: That doesn't seem to fit the standing ovation at the end, Edna.
Edna: We planted claques in the audience to lead the audience to cheer for you. It's to save face, alright? I knew the audience wouldn't do so otherwise. If you don't mind, I have to leave soon.

1 June
Mr. Park: Edna, I'm a little worried about the our orchestra members. I have been trying to build a rapport with them from the day I started working at Radio Television Bidadari, and they have been treating me well in return... although, I must say, they hide their thoughts from me, and avoid talking to me about some issues at work. I am afraid that this might put a stumbling block in getting on with business.
Edna: Our musicians don't enjoy working with your ideas, Mr. Park, I've been trying to tell you that.
Mr. Park: I would never know just by talking to them. If they didn't like working on my ideas, they could and should have talked it out with me, rather than defer to me at every turn.
Edna: They defer to you because they're afraid of how you would react to a negative comment, Mr. Park. It could also be by the fact that you're a foreigner. The musicians could take some time to get used to you in that respect.
Mr. Park: In that case, I must thank you for all the feedback that you have given me, Edna.
Edna: You're welcome.
Mr. Park: By the way, is it normal that whenever I try to talk to Jeanne Choo, she screams and ducks behind a chair?
Edna: We try to be as tactful as possible in this country, Mr. Park.

8 June
Edna: Mr. Park, I believe that you aired a rendition of Ligeti's Hundred Metronomes this afternoon. Please explain yourself.
Mr. Park: My musicians are not coming for practices anymore, Edna. There's no one left to play anything but these. And, to my defense, I only used thirty metronomes, because there's that many of them that I found in our store when I looked.
Edna: You're fired.
Mr. Park: I figured that would happen. I shall be hightailing it out of the country by this evening. No hard feelings.
Edna: Have a safe trip.
Mr. Park: Thank you. How are you planning to run the show without me? I'm just curious.
Eddie: We're thinking to just shut down this programme, Mr. Park. Who knows whether it was all worth it to start with? Maybe no one listens to us anyway.

Thursday, December 04, 2014


"Hey! Which one of you owns this place?"
"It's me! I am the owner of this restaurant."
"You called us an hour ago? There was a troublemaker, no?"
"Yes, a few. They roughed me up a bit about the vodka. They're gone now."
"Oh, they are? What now, eh?"
"Everything is fine now. Thank you for your response, but we don't need your services anymore. You can leave now."
"Leave? Leave? Why should we? You called us, and we're here. Why should we leave?"

With that, the burly head Chechen leaned over the bar-top, his face right up against, almost pressing, the restaurant manager's.

"Listen, you spineless Azeri dipshit," he lowed menacingly. "You knew what you're in for when you bought protection from us. You know our stock, you know that unlike you salt-mining fishies, we mountain people have our heads as hard as our cocks. We never give up, do you understand? We'll chase those thugs all the way down to Petrozavodsk; as long as we are called, we must make them -- we must make someone fall."

Turning around, he bellowed to the clientele, "Now, who else has a problem with the vodka?" And the crowd, at least those who had not had time to discreetly steal away into the night, stared mutely at the Chechens in reply, frozen with terror. The head thug took that as a resounding Yes, and his clique set upon the customers with knives, baseball bats, and ravenous glee.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Gönül Arsızı

Kendi ettiğine kendi ettiğine
Kendi ettiğine zaman zaman ağla

Ay güneşe küsmüş dalların çiçek açmaz mı?
Sevdiğini eller almış, eller almış acımaz mı?
Mevsim bahara dönmüş, bülbül ötüp uçmaz mı?
Arsızı gönül arsızı var içimde sızı
Arsızı gönül arsızı var içimde sızı
Geçmedi kalbimdeki sızı, gelmedi gönlümün hırsızı
Gönül arsızısın sen gönül arsızı

Kim sana bakar söyle kim sana bakar?
Bundan sonra böylece bilde, söyleme, tadın tuzun kaçar.
Hangi göz ağlar sana, hangi göz ağlar
Geri dönüşün yoktur ki aşta, zaman zaman ağla
Kendi ettiğine yanda, zaman zaman ağla
Kendi ettiğine yanda
Kendi ettiğine yanda zaman zaman ağla

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Elusive Perovskite

How to obtain the elusive perovskite:
The purest mineral perovskite is found in the Urals, where the first samples were found by the eminent Dr. Gustave Rose in 1839. The location of this deposit is secret and is held privy to a crazy old Mordvin lady living in the outskirts of Perm, who is conversant only in broken Russian and an obscure sort of Magyar. To reach it, you must first find her in her abode. Then, you must ask said lady in her own language whither the perovskites be found, to which she will reply, "Кто ты, и ты можешь говорить более четко, пожалуйста, я слабослышащих. Также почему все спрашивают меня о скалы. Я ничего о таких вещах не знаю. Могу ли я пойти и кормить кур сейчас." At the exact location that she describes, you shall find the most delightful outcrop of the purest calcium titanate, each crystal as vitreous as a million cabochons of agate and jasper. Polishing and mounting of this gem demands the most accomplished lapidaries in this wide world, and a mere glimpse of this material is widely hailed as the stuff of their wildest dreams.

How to obtain diamonds:
Diamonds can be found in any old country that has an excess of corrupt officials and warlords.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Postgraduate Journal 1.9.4

A small bottle of water from Lourdes, a gift from Jonathan

(Semester 1, Week 9, Thursday)
It has been six weeks since I took off on a path to myself. People have joined the path and branched off since then, and now is a time when I see no one on the path. I am alone again. A Greek dance plays on my phone, in a language that the world has forgotten, a tongue that no one understands. In my mind I dance again, lonesome as a hermit in the wastes, trotting, toeing, the fine line between rapture and insanity.

The night prayer is written on my wall, serving as a rough template for my prayers for each night. It is a short one, each line written down after a meditative session at a retreat or a cell group meeting:

Lord, take me, break me, feed me to the crowds
Put me in the path of all in need
Let me be there, let me bear everything gracefully
I must decrease; You must increase

It's time to be serious about being fed to the crowds now.
Work has limited my contact with large groups, thinning down my social contact to one person at a time, sometimes even less. Old graduate friends become less responsive over messaging services. "Put me in the path in need" seemed to have put less people on my path, not more.

"Let me be there, let me bear everything gracefully." Maybe I haven't been there, maybe I haven't borne anything as gracefully as I imagine I should.

"I must decrease; You must increase."
So it's not about me. If only it was all not about myself!

All these will take time to sink in.

Tomorrow morning, hopefully, I will wake up as usual. My morning prayer is written on the same wall, and consists of a single pious ejaculation:

Lord, I am overjoyed to find myself still breathing. Take my day: it is yours!

Some days I strike out "overjoyed" mentally while making this prayer. Some days are just like that.
Time to sleep.

[Bedtime reading: Evangelii Gaudium]

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The final notes of Igor Stravinsky's "Petrushka", first tableau, and also of "The Rite of Spring", visualised in text

1. Petrushka, Russian Dance

2. The Rite of Spring
rrrrrrrrrrrrr........ (gliss.)

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Uzun İnce Bir Yoldayım

Uzun İnce Bir Yoldayım
Gidiyorum Gündüz Gece
Bilmiyorum Ne Haldeyim
Gidiyorum Gündüz Gece
I'm on a long and narrow road,
I walk all day, I walk all night;
I cannot tell what is my plight,
I walk all day, I walk all night.
Dünyaya Geldiğim Anda
Yürüdüm Aynı Zamanda
İki Kapılı Bir Handa
Gidiyorum Gündüz Gece
Soon as I came into the World,
That moment I began my fight,
Through an inn with two doors,
I walk all day, I walk all night.
Uykuda Dahi Yürüyom
Kalmaya Sebep Arıyom
Gidenleri Hep Görüyom
Gidiyorum Gündüz Gece
I walk in sleep - I find no cause,
To linger, whether dark or light,
I see the travelers on the road,
I walk all day, I walk all night.
Kırk Dokuz Yıl Bu Yollarda
Ovada Dağda Çöllerde
Düşmüşüm Gurbet Ellerde
Gidiyorum Gündüz Gece
Forty-nine years upon these roads,
On desert plain, on mountain height,
In foreign lands I make my way,
I walk all day, I walk all night.
Düşünülürse Derince
Uzak Görünür Görünce
Bir Yol Dakka Miktarınca
Gidiyorum Gündüz Gece
Sometimes it seems an endless road,
The goal is very far from sight,
One minute, and the journey's o'er-
I walk all day, I walk all night.
Şaşar Veysel İş Bu Hale
Kah Ağlaya Kahi Güle
Yetişmek İçin Menzile
Gidiyorum Gündüz Gece
Veysel does wonder at this state,
Lament or laughter, which is right?
Still to attain that distant goal,
I walk all day, I walk all night.

Lyrics: Âşık Veysel Şatıroğlu
Translation: Nermin Menemencioğlu

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Abun d-bašmayo

Abun d-bašmayo - The Lord's Prayer
Syriac Orthodox liturgical music
Arr. Andy Paul Chen for guitar, vocals and bowed psaltery, after Gareth Hughes [source]

ܐܒܘܢ ܕܒܫܡܝܐ
Abun d-bašmayo
ܢܬܩܕܫ ܫܡܟ
Nethqadaš šmokh
ܬܐܬܐ ܡܠܟܘܬܟ
Tithe malkuthokh
ܢܗܘܐ ܣܒܝܢܟ
Nehwe sebyonokh
ܐܝܟܢܐ ܕܒܫܡܝܐ ܐܦ ܒܪܥܐ
Aykano d-bašmayo oph bar`o
ܗܒ ܠܢ ܠܚܡܐ ܕܣܘܢܩܢܢ ܝܘܡܢܐ
Hab lan laḥmo d-sunqonan yowmono
ܘܫܒܘܩ ܠܢ ܚܘܒܝܢ ܘܚܬܗܝܢ
Wašbuq lan ḥawbayn waḥtohayn
ܐܝܟܢܐ ܕܐܦ ܚܢܢ ܫܒܩܢ ܠܚܝܒܝܢ
Aykano doph ḥnan šbaqan l-ḥayobayn
ܠܐ ܬܥܠܢ ܠܢܣܝܘܢܐ
Lo ta`lan l-nesyuno
ܐܠܐ ܦܨܐ ܠܢ ܡܢ ܒܝܫܐ
Elo paṣo lan men bišo
ܡܛܠ ܕܕܠܟ ܗܝ ܡܠܟܘܬܐ
Meṭul d-dilokh hi malkutho
ܘܚܝܠܐ ܘܬܫܒܘܚܬܐ
W-ḥaylo w-tešbuḥto
ܠܥܠܡ ܥܠܡܝܢ
L`olam `olmin

Friday, August 15, 2014

Sparrow in a Sea of Trees

A sparrow in a tree
In a sea of trees,
It falls from its perch;
It is buried by the leaf litter.
The maggots eat it;
The worms return it to the soil.
The forest stands
The world is proud, the world moves on
Only the Lord mourns.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Excerpts from Report to Greco

1. My father spoke only rarely, never laughed, never engaged in brawls. He simply grated his teeth or clenched his fist at certain times, and if he happened to be holding a hard-shelled almond, rubbed it between his fingers and reduced it to dust. Once when he saw an aga place a packsaddle on a Christian and load him down like a donkey, so completely did his anger overcome him that he charged towards the Turk. He wanted to hurl and insult at him, but his lips had become contorted. Unable to utter a human word, he began to whinny like a horse. I was still a child. I stood there and watched, trembling with fright. And one midday as he was passing through a narrow land on his way home for dinner, he heard women shrieking and doors being slammed. A huge drunken Turk with drawn yataghan was pursuing Christians. He rushed upon my father the moment he saw him. The heat was torrid, and my father, tired from work, felt in no mood for a brawl. It occurred to him momentarily to turn into another lane and flee--no one was looking. But this would have been shameful. Untying the apron he had on, he wrapped it around his fist, and just as the colossal Turk began to raise the yataghan above his head, he gave him a punch in the belly and sprawled him out on the ground. Stooping, he wrenched the yataghan out of the other's grip and strode homeward. My mother brought him a clean shirt to put on--he was drenched in sweat--and I (I must have been about three years old) sat on the couch and gazed at him. His chest was covered with hair and steaming. As soon as he had changed and cooled off, he threw the yataghan down on the couch next to me. Then he turned to his wife.

"When your son grows up and goes to school," he said, "give him this as a pencil sharpener."

2. The priest had placed himself at the head of the grave, where he swung the censer up and down and murmured prayers under his breath. I leaned over the newly dug soil. Mold, putrefaction; I pinched my nostrils. Though I felt sick to my stomach, I did not go away. I waited. Bones? What bones? I kept asking myself, and I waited.

Suddenly the man who was bent over and digging stood up straight. His torso emerged above the pit. In his hands he held a skull. He cleaned the dirt off it, inserting his finger and pushing the mud out of the eye cavities, then placed it on the lip of the grave, leaned over again, and recommenced his digging.

"What is it?" I asked my uncle, trembling from fright.
"Can't you see? It's a dead person's head. A skull."
"Don't you remember her? It's out neighbour Annika's."
I burst into tears and began to howl.
"Annika's! Annika's!" I cried. Throwing myself in the ground, I grabbed all the stones I could find and started to hurl them at the gravedigger.

Wailing and lamenting, I screamed how beautiful she was, how beautiful she smelled! She used to come to our house, place me on her knees and comb my curls with the comb she removed from her hair. She used to tickle me under the arms, and I giggled, I peeped like a bird.

My uncle took me in his arms, carried me off a little ways, and spoke to me angrily. "Why are you crying? What did you expect? She died. We're all going to die."

But I was thinking of her blond hair, her large eyes, the red lips which used to kiss me. And now...
"And her hair," I shrieked, "her lips, her eyes?..."
"Gone, gone. The earth ate them."
"Why, why? I don't want people to die!"
My uncle shrugged his shoulders. "When you grow up, you'll find out why."

I never did find out. I grew up, became old, and never did find out.

3. Pateropoulos in the first grade: a little old man, very short, fierce-eyed, with drooping mustache, and the switch constantly in hand. He hunted us down, collected us, then set us out in a row as though we were ducks and he were taking us to market to sell. "The bones are mind, the flesh is yours, Teacher," every father instructed him as he turned over his wild goat of a son. "Thrash him, thrash him until he becomes a man." And he thrashed us pitilessly. All of us, teacher and students alike, awaited the day when these many beatings would turn us into men. When I grew older and philanthropic theories began to mislead my mind. I termed this method barbarous. But when I came to know human nature still better, I blessed, and still bless, Pateropoulos's holy switch. It was this that taught us that suffering is the greatest guide along the ascent which leads from animal to man.

4. One day while reading the legend of Saint John of the Hut, I jumped to my feet and made a decision: "I shall go to Mount Athos to become a saint!" Without turning to look at my mother (Saint John of the Hut had not turned to look at his mother), I strode over the threshold and out into the street. Taking the most outlying lanes and running all the way for fear that one of my uncles might see me and take me back home, I reached the harbor, where I approached a caique, the one which was ready to weigh anchor first. A sun-roasted seaman was leaning over the iron bitt and struggling to undo the cable. Trembling with emotion, I went up to him.

"Can you take me with you, Captain?"
"Where do you want to go?"
"Mount Athos."
"Where? Mount Athos? To do what?"
"Become a saint."

The skipper shook with laughter. Clapping his hands as though shooing away a hen, he shouted, "Home! Home!"

I ran home in disgrace, crawled under the sofa, and never breathed a word to anyone. Today is the first time I admit it: my initial attempt to become a saint miscarried.

5. Early the next morning my father took me by the hand.
"Come," he said.
My mother became frightened. "Where are you taking the boy? Not a single Christian has left his house yet."
"Come," my father repeated. He opened the door and we went outside.
"Where are we going?" I asked. My hand was trembling inside his massive palm.
I looked up and down the street. It was deserted except for two Turkish women at the corner who were washing at the tap. The water had turned red.
"Are you afraid?"
"That doesn't matter. You'll get used to it."

Turning the corner, we headed toward the harbor gate. We passed a house that was still smoking and many others with broken doors, blood still on the thresholds. When we reached the main square with its lion-scupltured fountain and the huge old plane tree at the edge, my father stopped.
"Look!" he said, pointing with his hand.

I looked up toward the plane tree and uttered a cry. Three hanged men were swinging there, one next to the other. They were barefooted, dressed only in their nightshirts, and deep green tongues were hanging out of their mouths. Unable to endure the sight, I turned my head away and clung to my father's knees. But he grasped my head with his hand and rotated it toward the plane tree.

"Look!" he ordered me again.
My eyes filled with hanged men.
"As long as you live--do you hear--may these hanged men never be out of your sight!"
"Who killed them?"
"Liberty, God bless it!"

I did not understand. Goggle-eyed, I stared and stared at the three bodies that were slowly swaying among the yellowing leaves of the plane tree.
My father swept his glance around him and pricked up his ears. The streets were deserted. He turned to me.

"Can you touch them?"
"No!" I answered, terrified.
"You can!... Come!"
We went close; my father crossed himself hurriedly, repeatedly
"Touch their feet!" he commanded.
He took my hand. I felt their cold, crusty skin against the tips of my fingers. The night dew was still upon them.
"Kiss them! Do obeisance!" my father now commanded. Seeing me try to make a break and get away, he seized me beneath the arms, lifted me, bent my head downward, and forcefully glued my mouth to the rigid feet.

He put me down. My knees could not support me. He leaned over and looked at me.
"That was to help you get used to it," he said.

Once more he took me by the hand. We returned home. My mother was standing behind the door waiting anxiously.
"Where in God's name did you go?" she asked, seizing me avidly and kissing me.
"We went to do obeisance," answered my father, and he gave me a trustful look.

Tresha Remembers

Tresha remembers.
Tresha remembers the time before the two hurricanes swept across the country, bringing houses and driving people, Down-down-down.
Tresha remembers the day when she met her own angel, an uncommon honour for one before their time is due.
Tresha's angel came with a host of many others, who descended upon the homes in the shantytown, filling each one up, reciting strange prayers. Presently, they were about to take leave.
Tresha's angel followed them. She was tall, slender and noble. She was decked in simple clothes, but her face shone, Shone, more brightly than all the rest.
Tresha followed her, ambling along the dirt path, her neighbours' doorsteps. She walked by her side as the host left the town.
Tresha reached out for the angel's hand, and her fingers closed around her own.

Down, down, down the slopes to Batangas, Tresha remembers.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Witch-Musician

"Uakti is a mythical musician described by the Tucano people of the Alto Rio Negro region of the Amazon. According to the legend, the creature had holes in his body such that they would produce sound when he ran or the wind blew through him. This music seduced the women of the tribe and so the other men burned and buried his body. The myth holds that out of Uakti's remains grew the palm trees from which the Tukanos' flutes are made. The women of the Tukano Indians are thus not allowed to play flutes."

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A disorganised reflection upon events occurring from May to July 2014

Advance apologies for incongruities in language, punctuation, or etc.

1. Prelate Javier Echevarria's visit, 17 May
2. Mission Trip Tagaytay, 29 May - 5 Jun and related events
3. Singapore and Southeast Asian Pipe Band Championship, 8 Jun
4. Grad Trip Kuching and Rainforest World Music Festival, 21 - 23 Jun
5. Retirement from GENUS, 26 Jun
6. Chinese RCIA at Holy Cross, 2 Jul and subsequent Wednesdays
7. Science and Engineering Retreat at Nativity Church, 9 - 12 Jul and related events
8. Commencement, 14 Jul and related events
9. Graduate cell group formed with Sr Sandra, 15 Jul and subsequent Tuesdays
10. Completion of CTIS Philosophy Course Translation tasks, 19 Jul
11. Lunch with the Chinese-speaking Catholic community, 26 Jul
12. Briefing for postgraduate course, 31 Jul (upcoming)
13. Diocesan Vocation Discernment retreat, 1 - 3 Aug (upcoming)

Living at the turning point of life has been eventful. I have graduated, but it is not so much a radical break from life as I know it into a world that is a linear combination of existential emptiness and fruitful labour, and more of taking a breath at the surface of the water before diving back in for another four years. Life goes on at the same place, and the same people are within reach, although some things change.

The Mission Trip airdropped me to the Manila suburbia, showed me how to love in a foreign land. The poverty of the shanty people was shocking, but I also saw in it something familiar... the dejection mirrored that of my hometown, which in addition to material destitution had also the pathetic emanation of a nation who has no soul, a nation who tails false gods, a nation with high-speed rail built across war-zones; what a scene! How do we find the faithful in such a place? Where do they dwell, what do they do? I only wish I knew, or found out earlier!

The takeaway from Tagaytay was a hangover that abhors a remedy, a message, a missionary spirit that is a fire in our hearts, there to burn on kindling, as far as we manage to sustain.


Three kinds of souls, three prayers
1] I am a bow in your hands, Lord. Draw me, lest I rot.
2] Do not overdraw me, Lord. I shall break.
3] Overdraw me, Lord, and who cares if I break!

(Nikos Kazantzakis, Report to Greco. DISCLAIMER: No imprimatur on this one!)


Postgraduates start on 4 August. The briefing will take place this Thursday. It is time to start reading again, and blend in nicely to what business I will be busying myself with. The busy days come with the blessing with the motivation to attend morning masses. If anything, let it be a chance to give up the day to the Lord in advance, all the days, just as the Opus Dei fellows do.

Prelate Echevarria gave a talk to the faithful in Singapore the other day. I forget most of what he said, but I never want to forget this. He said, "If you are at home with the Lord, you can be at home anywhere." This is a perfect license for Christendom to put themselves in all sorts of uncomfortable places and situations and still be at ease, as if they were at home. My commando instincts are tingling!

If you are at home with the Lord, you can be at home anywhere.
I don't know how to worship in Chinese now, but I can learn. I am able to. I don't know most the people, but I can earn their friendship. I have to. My comfort zone has been small and boring. It's time for a change.


The faith bit in "faith and good works".
I always recite to the priest, "yes, it is good to keep the communication channels open." Now I have to live it. The family now says grace before every meal, and it's passably good progress.

Catholicism in Singapore now has a charismatic bent since roughly the point when Archbishop William became Archbishop. I now regularly find myself in a crowd shouting to the Lord at the top of my voice, singing in a pitch so high it hurt my throat. Maybe after all I can reach him better in silent times than in emotionally charged times like praise and worship, because it was in one of these times that he brought me through the Acts of the Apostles, and it made for a very productive reading.


In the same stroke I would also like to talk about the earthly stuff.
I took leave from the Guitar Ensemble. It was a sudden decision, because once I got down to it, it was very easily made. If I may add a list:

Stay in GENUS:
The juniors would love to have me around.

Tuesdays are now dedicated to graduate CG.
Tuesdays may be re-dedicated to Chinese CG, or not, depending...
Saturdays are reserved in case I get to join the pipe band.
Personal philosophy regarding music diverged from that of the ensemble consensus.
Sitting down for long periods of time not very beneficial to physical fitness.

And so on and so on.
I shall be getting my musical adventures a breath of fresh air hence.

Anyway, the tradition for students here upon graduation is to fly to somewhere exotic for a Graduation Trip. I no longer have any patience for sightseeing in tourist destinations, but a concert is still very welcome. The nearest concert is the Rainforest Festival in Kuching, at the foot of Mount Santubong. A yearly event, it ran for many years while Singaporeans have been kept in the dark, because publicity somehow never reached there.

This year's guest artists seem to be rather big on the percussions.
I also mentioned the pipe band. That seems to be on hiatus for now.

Time to go and sleep.