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The war is won.

The first time I listened to 30 Seconds to Mars, I was a fifteen-year-old high school junior who was just beginning to discover music that existed outside the sphere of the FM radio frequency. At a time where everyone else was bopping their heads to "Sexyback" and "Promiscuous" I was busy downloading albums off Limewire (RIP) from artists most friends haven't even heard of. It was the beginning of my new relationship with music, I suppose, the time where I discovered that there is more to songs than just their words or rhythm alone, more than just the sum of all its parts: there is always an experience waiting to happen in those four or five minutes of complete abandon. I was just about to truly find that out for myself in 2006.

A friend lent me a burned CD of 30 Seconds to Mars' second album, A Beautiful Lie. True, the first few seconds brought on a sense of hesitation - would I like this? Is this worth my time? I was to find out soon enough. The title track "A Beautiful Lie" did it for me. The opening notes of the song seemed like the calm before the storm. The moment the bass and drums struck, it was just an explosion. The anger, the confusion, and the pain - the way they burst these all out through song was beyond me. "It's a beautiful lie, such a perfect denial, such a beautiful lie to believe in..." I needed that song during that time in my life, and it found me. That moment, I knew I wanted to see that song live. I had to.

Last night has got to be one of the most epic nights of my life. I was just about ready to give up on tickets when a very good friend of mine won two Gold tickets through a contest. The entire week I was in this state of shock and disbelief: is this finally happening? Am I really going to watch them? It has been raining for the last couple of days and I must admit a part of me was giving in to hesitation, much like I did almost five years ago. But this was 30 Seconds to Mars, and if there is anything to be said about this band, it's that they are a spectacle. And what a spectacle last night was. The rain was pouring heavily, and we were soaked for almost the entire duration of the concert. Yet pumping my fists in the air, jumping like crazy, singing their songs with them, just being there, in the crowd, looking on - I really could not think of anything less hackneyed but more true than this - I felt most alive. (There was nothing like actually being part of the "No no no no! I will never forget!" part of Closer to the Edge. And all there other anthems, really.) This was what music meant to me - it was an experience. It was a sensation. It was being there and feeling like you could be anywhere outside the time-space continuum, and still be one with the strangers, the crowd, the band. It was surreal.

Their playlist was a good mix of songs from their previous album and the current, This Is War, which is more communal than personal, and consequently is more dramatic to see live. What brought goosebumps for me, aside from them opening remarkably to "A Beautiful Lie" was the acoustic part in the middle of the set, with just Jared and his guitar on the spotlight. He sang "The Kill" with all of us - only with the chords and the slight quiver in our voices as accompaniment. "I tried to be someone else, but nothing seemed to change I know now this is who I really am inside," - this was infinitely more exciting than just belting it out on Rockband. I also got a bit emotional with "Alibi" because it hit close to home, much like their song "A Modern Myth" from the second album. (I just wish they sang that too.) But closing the show with "Closer to the Edge" was the perfect ending, complete with elaborate smoke, lights, and confetti. When we begged them to get back on stage, "Kings and Queens" felt like for about eight beautiful minutes, we all indeed were, in fact, regal.

"Rocket into highness."

More than just seeing Jared Leto up close and finally being able to be in a moshpit, I went to the concert not as the biggest 30 Seconds to Mars fangirl there was, but as a fan who through their music has gotten this overwhelming sense of collectiveness, like I was a part of something bigger - their songs were about action, about moving forward after the misery, about going out there and doing something, about liberation. Taking part in the collective effervescence of the moment affirmed my sanguinity, I suppose - nineteen years old, I am here, I am happy. "I will live my life," we all sang.

At least, even for a while, all drenched and covered in rain, mud, and confetti, I truly felt brave again. Young. Free. I think I owe my fifteen-year-old self that feeling, too. And it was great.


Wall Photo

I found a picture of
me by your bed, my face on
the wall greeted me hello. I
was disarmed for a while
because it wasn't my best
angle, and my hair was up
just the way I don't like it.
But from where my head
rested, I felt it looked
worthy of your every good
night. I pressed my thumb on
the wall. Sleep came easily,
knowing that even when I leave,
I don't.




The things I carry

Phone, keys, umbrella, coins, I.D. (picture with red background), pens, more pens, colored pens, a highlighter (in pink), The Likhaan Book of Philippine Literature, notebooks, paper, letters, sentences, thoughts: like the color of your shirt or what you ate for breakfast, MRT card, hairpins, the scent of your hair, perfume, tissue, handkerchief, tears of all kinds (for laughing and also crying but I don't fancy that kind), smiles fake and otherwise, camera, iPod, speakers, earphones, the sound of crisply folded letters being opened from dark pockets, wallet, SM Advantage Card, receipts, tickets, your fingerprints on the tickets (you bought them for me), your hands on my cheeks, the heat, a jacket, a scarf, a cold biting fear of the unknown, a compromise, a resolution, envelopes, folders, readings, theories, Post-structuralism, binary oppositions: black and white, one and zero, antonyms and synonyms, the way we both lean in after the door is closed, open-minded view on things, more coins, band-aids, lipstick, the day we both stopped hating the red light, lime, line, life, lib, alliterations, a list of things to not forget, the way you said Me too the day you sat behind me after I said I've never tried this before.




Mischief managed.

When I was in Grade 3, I remember one of my mom's officemates, who was one of the "cool titas" that actually talked to me like an adult instead of the naive nine-year-old I really was, telling me about this new book that was taking the literary world by storm. It was starting to become popular in the States and in London, she said, and she thought it might interest me because she knew I loved books even then. When I asked her what it was about all she said was, "Magic."

That was almost eleven years ago. In between that time there had been six succeeding books, eight blockbuster films, a skyrocketing of sales in the broomstick department, and a hysteria that hit everyone from pre-pubescent teens to old, graying men who found hope in the renewed appreciation for their beard swagger. I must admit that I haven't been exactly an impassioned fan: I was never lined up at midnight on book releases or film premieres and I never got into fights with haters who tYpE lYk tHiS at forums. But I think I sufficiently dipped my foot enough in Potterland to consider myself well-versed in the universe. In grade 4, my classmates and I used to play with the "stick" part of the sliding folder and pretended they were wands - saying the now famous "It's levi-OH-sa, not levioSA," line over and over again. One Christmas, I got a Quidditch board game, and the next one, a howling notebook that screamed every time anyone without the "password" opened it. (Both from Santa, though I actually wished for an invisibility cloak.) And ever since Sorcerer's Stone, I had my eyes set out on Ron Weasley. The only person I was willing to share him with was Hermione. (Ron/Hermione shipper since the beginning!) I was just a simple fan, a mere reader, but I felt every bit a part of this fascinating new world as Harry was.

But as in all things, it has come to an end.

The last time I was this affected over a movie series was after Toy Story 3. After watching the Deathly Hallows Part 2 last Friday (and bawling my eyes out), I've come to realize that probably the biggest reason I'm feeling awfully sad about this is the fact that this conclusion finally affirms the end of our childhood. So we turned eighteen and learned to drink beer straight out of the bottle years ago - but we still subconsciously identified ourselves under the "kids" category. But now that huge chapters of our childhood have finally been finally brought to a close, it's like the universe is frantically pushing us out of our safety bubble. This is it, it taunts. No more toys, no more magic. Just reality and its unending battle of good versus evil.

I am now nineteen, just a little older than Harry and the gang when they won the epic battle against Voldemort. I guess you could say I really did grow up with them. I saw the story unfold before me; the narrative got as complicated and twisted just as much as my life did. (Although mine had a dark lord that kept me up at night named Stress.) It was such a reflection of our generation that saying goodbye without shedding a tear just isn't possible. More than anything, it gave us a glimpse of a realm we never could have imagined possible, a world so far-fetched but still so real. At the end of it all, wizards or Muggles notwithstanding, it's the classic tale of good overcoming the evil. It's a story of friendship, love, and loyalty. And wands and spells. These, I'm sure we will always carry with us, at nineteen and up until ninety.

Thank you for the stories, Harry Potter. Thank you for the magic.


The spaces you fill.

Last night, I found myself still awake by half past midnight, my thoughts aimlessly drifting to prose then equations then finally, hunger. I went up to the fridge, like I always do, but I was welcomed by a leftover box of chicken I couldn't remember eating. Beside it was a can of diet soda, a beverage I don't allow myself to drink. There was an opened pack of gummy bears, which I eventually reach for and behead one by one, but junk food of this variety I don't buy for my own.

And that was it, that was when it hit me: I couldn't not find you in my room. Not a place where a piece of you wasn't left behind. Not my pillow where our heads rested after a night of watching films on our stomachs. Not my wooden spoon that I used to mix the pancake batter, because we chose to have breakfast for dinner. Not the paper clip that held together your reading "Places & Landscapes for a Changing World" which you will never bother browsing for class. Not my mirror that revealed to you the man who has me wrapped around his finger. Not the shampoo you used that threatened to linger on my hair, my clothes. Not even in the song that played inside my head over and over and over again, the sound of the waves colliding on the ocean of skin that barely separated me from you.

You had no problems littering everyday with traces of you, attaching yourselves to songs I mouth with my eyes closed. My clothes are your clothes, your perfume my own. The pronouns you have permanently replaced, no more "I" or "you," only "us." I try to look for a piece of my space that you haven't yet found, but your fingerprints are everywhere, your heartbeat, always just a whisper away. My blanket holds me in your embrace and the cool blow of the fan scratches my back like your hand spelling out my name.

No, you are everywhere, I realized, and I finally fell asleep, in the comfort of the promise you kept the other night when I said can we stay here a little longer?


I wrote this in about twenty minutes, the story having been in my head for the entire day now. There's just a sudden enchantment about this Thursday snuggle-weather that brewed something up inside my head. Consider this my apology for being away for too long: working on my thesis is taking up most of my time, and not having an Internet connection at the dorm is not helping at all. On the contrary, this gives me a legitimate enough excuse to just sleep and hop around from one college library to another. Here's to wishing I can (still) survive the absence of wi-fi.

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