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.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Tamzara - Dances from Armenia
Trad. Arr. Andy Paul Chen after Ithikon Akmeotaton (Mannheim 2006)
For the classical guitar, standard tuning (surprise!)

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Feet of the Hanged

And so it happened that the hellenes, who had been of this land since antiquity, were told that they did not belong to the new nation-state and were killed off, village after village. And young Nikos Kazantzakis kissed the feet of the hanged.