So that nothing dies with you-A A +A
Saturday, October 27, 2012
FIVE years ago, I picked up the guitar anew and learned a different way of playing it, classical with notes and sometime with tabs. I first learned guitar as a grade schooler on vacation at the Kapalong Sub-Colony of Davao Penal Colony (Dapecol) where mom and dad would dispatch us as soon as school is out to leave in the care of our uncle who is an official of the penal farm. While Davao City was still rustic during those years, Dapecol was even more. Thus every kid learns the guitar because that's how we passed the time away during summer in between running and kite-flying and stealing caimito.
The elder ones would be teaching the younger ones as soon as they are able to wrap their chubby fingers around the guitar neck. I was in third grade then when I learned my first song, "Loving arms". Everyone knows how to play that song, many of my friends learned that as their first guitar song all because it only has three chords: A-D-E. Very simple ones that do not require you to hold all six strings down with one finger; just three fingers holding down a string each in different frets and positions, and then you go strum-strum-strum.
"If you could see me now" the one who said, that he'd rather roam.
Hearing that song playing on the radio during Sundays bring back memories of the dust and distinct "dieselly-grassy" smell of the sub-colony, which now hosts the women correctional. In those days, the road was not yet cemented and there was no electricity yet in that part of the world thus the prison farm was powered by a giant generator that spewed diesel fumes.
I kept on playing till college and became very good at it such that all I need to do is listen to a song on the radio and I'd quickly get the chords and how the fingers are to play, strum-riff-pick. I'd even play second guitar to a dorm mate in the conservatory when he needed to practice. I remember the heady feeling upon buying the guitar of my cousin. It was a Baby Gay, when gay didn't have anything to do with sexuality yet. Actually, it's from G.A. Yupangco, the distributor of Yamaha and local guitar maker. The model was a Baby G.A.Y. because it was smaller than the guitars for adults and thus was perfect for my fingers that didn't shed off their stumpy chubby lengths.
My brother borrowed that guitar one day and lost it, with it went my guitar playing days.
Twenty years hence, I picked up another and learned an entirely different way of playing. That was five years ago and I'm still having fun although reading notes remain a challenge and thus every playing time somehow exercises the brain if not strains it, depends on the state the brain is in. Playing is not as often as when I started, but that's deliberate. I was so determined to learn fast, I was playing for up to six hours straight, well into dawn, and earned a major case of tendonitis that took two months to heal. I slowed down and kept my playing to a maximum of one hour a day, no more. These stumpy chubby fingers are no longer as supple and limber as before but that doesn't meant they can no longer learn.
Although unforeseen, I've picked up another interest that is again testing my fingers dexterity: Chinese painting. This time, I'm attacking it with better control of myself: no losing sleep, no non-stop practices. Just do it slowly but constantly. This is supposed to be fun, I have to make sure it's fun. Although I'm still at the frustration level, the level when you stare at a figure that is nothing but a slash of paint and you cannot even make something that closely resembles it. Much like when I started with classical guitar and was reading a very simple piece and yet my fingers would refuse to keep time with the count and the notes. Bobo!
Been there, I'm here again, wiser now, but with the same determination to learn and explore what could be another talent.
In the words of one of my mentors, artist Victor Secuya, spend the rest of your life exhausting all your talents so that when you die, nothing dies with you. I wonder what else is in here.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 28, 2012.