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So long, farewell, 2011!

To cap off the year, I saw The Sound of Music on stage last night with my family at Resorts World Manila. Nobody can contest that this is my favorite musical ever - I think I've seen this film more than a hundred, possibly even a thousand times. I grew up singing along to every single song and mouthing the words to every line, and every time I saw it as a kid I would find myself identifying with a different Von Trapp kid, depending on what my age was at the time. It truly is a wonderful, remarkable movie, something me and my family (from both sides!) never get tired of. It comes as no surprise then that we would go out and buy tickets for the show. I have always wondered what the Broadway/staged version was like, because being the fangirl that I am, I knew very well that there were several changes made in the film.

The significance of this musical to me is beyond complex, really. Over the years, in the countless times that I have played this on VHS and spun this on VCD, DVD, and now Blu-Ray, this movie has attached itself to various stages in my life, adding intricate layers to the already numerous shades of meanings it has for me. Watching the entire film will remind me of memories of the past, of people, of places, and no one viewing is ever the same - it's like rereading a book and rediscovering things you haven't noticed before. One of my many lolas was a nun, whom I loved visiting at their convent, but who always reminded me that I'm a bit too mischievous to become a nun myself. She always reminded me of the Mother Abbess because of her kind words of wisdom. My maternal grandmother, Wowa, used to play the songs for me on the piano, and has become (and still is) one of the reasons why music is so deeply instilled in me. My parents always made sure we had several copies of this movie at home and the three of us would always sing along together inside their bedroom - in fact, just last year Papa bought Mom the 45th anniversary Blu-Ray collection of the movie, complete with special features, picture books, and even a small jewel box.

But perhaps one of the most poignant memories that I have of the Sound of Music is watching it beside Inang in her room. Papa installed a TV and DVD player in front of her bed a few years ago so that she could be entertained despite having to stay indoors all day. Her favorite film was The Sound of Music - perhaps on some level it reminded her of a childhood that wasn't too far from the story: a strict father, a relatively young mother, and a household of seven children. She enjoyed the songs just as much as everyone else did, and found it just as visually appealing. But she always insisted on skipping the part where the Nazis were chasing the family, mostly because it reminded her too much of WW2. She would much rather put on repeat the scenes with songs instead of sirens.

We were originally scheduled to watch the play at Resorts World on December 2, but on December 1, Inang passed away. The idea that something so painful would now be attached to this happy antidote of a film is not what troubled me the most - it's that I could no longer share it with her. In my head I was already picturing how I was going to tell her about it – how the film actually traced its roots to a Broadway musical, how the children fared against the Hollywood Von Trapps, how the songs were just the way as we remembered it. Even the lights that were by then already set up all around the buildings at Newport City and the Christmas decors that adorned the hotel lobbies – the details, big and small, I was only too excited to share.

Last night was bittersweet for each of us in the family who watched. We couldn't discuss the play without mentioning Inang in some way - something she used to say, something she would have said. It was a very complicated, twisted feeling of nostalgia and happiness hearing Maria sing of her favorite things to make the sad feeling go away.

In many ways, 2011 turned out to be better than I expected. Looking back, this year has been truly kind to me - I visited many places, reconnected with old friends, strengthened bonds with family and particular people. It was truly a blessing. Losing Inang is probably the only truly painful thing that happened to me this year, which on many ways magnifies the hurt, but in retrospect also dulls the ache, for there are so many other things to be thankful about: family to lean onto, friends to care about, stories to share. While the pain will probably not go away any time soon, it doesn't dampen the spirits either.

2012 is going to be a big year, I can tell. It feels like 2007 all over again, with graduation and exam results looming in. I'm sure there are going to be major bumps along the way too, just like every other year that has passed. But I can only pray that 2012 turns out to be just as wonderful, just as empowering, if not more. There is nothing else we can do really other than just cross our fingers and wish for good things. And when all else fails, at least let us wish for the courage to brave the bad ones - or the willingness to think of the good things to get us through, when the dog bites, when the bee stings, when we're feeling sad.

Happy new year, everyone! :)