WHEN we were kids, at the height of our grandma’s angry histrionics, we’d look at her like we were watching a Cirque de Soleil stunt. It was not out of spite, but awe.

How could she have acquired the stamina for such breathless ballistics, we wondered.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

While at it, she’d chance upon our faces and get irritated by what seemed to her the look that would trivialize the point she had been raising all along. “And, you, what’s that look?!” she’d turn to us as we scampered to safer corners.

I remember President Noynoy Aquino’s inaugural address, the part that says, “…itaas ang antas ng pampublikong diskurso.” Certainly, all these commentaries about P-Noy exuding a smirk before the battered tourist bus after the hostage drama is nothing close to raising the level of public discourse. I read them and all I remember was my granny getting irked by her grandchildren’s big eyes. “What’s that look?!” What can we do, lola, we inherited your eyes!

This was what I was thinking about when I walked into a record bar in one of our malls, and once inside, I forgot about it. I was looking for a Cassandra Wilson album.

If not for a campaign-season interview P-Noy gave to one of the newspapers, I’d have missed the pleasure of knowing one great jazz artist. Your President is an audiophile, and I trust people who are into music. They have such honest souls.

Anyway, the sales lady was quick to reply, “We don’t have that, sir.” Was she sure, I asked. “Yes, sir, sure. Very sure.” Still in a stage of denial, I scoured the shelves, flipped through the CD’s—“The Best of Burt Bacarach,” Streisand, Stewart’s “American Anthology”—and, lo and behold, found Cassandra Wilson. It was that selection that had “Time After Time,” which coincidentally had lyrics that says, “…if you’re lost, you can look—and you will find me…”

Still, it was no consolation. It was the nth time these people in record bars said no to me, but only to leave me spotting the CD’s myself. You simply get irritated you want to take all of them as hostages. Although unlike the late ex-cop’s drama, one can actually take one’s vengeance artfully. “Do you have Januar’s Greatest Hits?” I asked.

One of them volunteered, “Sir, I think it’s from Vicor! Let me check.” Please, I said. “No,” said the other one, “try Star Records.” Is that so, I said. So they all got down to business and searched the shelves.

“Miss,” I called one of them, “I think it has a black cover with the singer in a live concert.” I’d have said in Budapest, but that would have been too much. “He was wearing all black and banging his guitar on the stage.” One of them gave me a frown.

China, I wanted to tell them, should partly take the blame, because the Swat used a tear gas that was made in China. At the height of mourning, the joke would have left a bad taste. I decided to keep shut, and leave the girls alone in their grand search.

“Sir,” one of them spoke to me with an exasperated face, “I think somebody bought it earlier.” Bad, I said, it was sold out? It could go platinum, you know? “Maybe, sir.” Well, never mind, I’ll have this one instead, Cassandra Wilson.

The song goes, “…after my picture fades and darkness has turned to gray/watching through windows—you’re wondering if I’m okay…” Certainly, policeman Rolando Mendoza wasn’t okay behind the bus windows, and a fleet of armed men, trained in the use of force, certainly could not deal with a man who was simply gone in the head.

Suddenly, it is September, and we remember four hijacked airplanes swooping into buildings in a supposed superpower country whose intelligence and military budget can dwarf even our education funds in the last 10 years. They never called it a national embarrassment.