Musicology 007

Are we truly ever free? And when we choose to actively disengage from everything society dictates, are we not still trapped, but in a different way? Isolation from everything?

Those are just a snippet of the questions that ran through my mind when I heard this song.  And true, these questions have always been in me, but they resurfaced yet again, thanks to Katy Perry’s “Chained To The Rhythm”, featuring Skip Marley. So here’s to some pondering.

“Are we crazy / Living our lives through a lens”

This most likely pertains to living through the camera and through digital devices, which is quite common now in this generation. What I mean is that for every single little moment, sometimes we don’t get to savour them anymore in an organic manner due to constantly documenting them, filling up one’s newsfeed with selfies and pictures and giving off this image of a life that is so picturesque. Is it a forged perception of our personal lives or is it actual reality?

It’s like we’re our own paparazzi really…Is it a form of self-worship and obsession in maintaining an image by placing oneself in the limelight of a social media platform? Or it could be that we’re just sharing our lives with those who matter to us with no ulterior motives. It is our right and we have the freedom to do so, after all, but does it not come to a point wherein it seems almost like a trap in its own shape and form?

Social media has become such a huge influencer that I just have to quote yet another song here.

“Wrong information always shown by the media / Negative images is the main criteria / Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria / Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema” (“Where Is The Love?” by Black Eyed Peas)

Information overload. Difficulty in triangulating sources. Fake news. Amorality. Degradation of values. Sex successfully selling. Propagation of the sexual objectification of men, women, and children. Rampant pornographic visuals, cyber-sex and human trafficking…

“Dance, dance, dance to the distortion”

The power media has is scary. While it can inspire, it can also hurt. And that hurt can be so deeply entrenched in society, we can become blind to media’s intoxicating effects, carrying down into history.

Many times I hear of people wanting to remove themselves from societal influences, but can we really say we successfully have done so and aren’t affected by the dictates of what we should all look like? How we should act? Doesn’t the fashion industry control our perception of beauty, what makeup to buy, and what clothes to wear (I will NOT go into consumerism right now)? Don’t magazines and articles and TV shows and music dictate how we should run our lives and relationships?

I could continue on with this point really, citing and adding more onto my EE during IB, wherein I delved deep into fashion magazines via linguistic analysis, but I truly need to study right now…

“Yo’, whatever happened to the values of humanity / Whatever happened to the fairness and equality / Instead of spreading love we’re spreading animosity / Lack of understanding, leading us away from unity” (still “Where Is The Love?” by Black Eyed Peas)

I don’t really intend to put any finality in this directionless post with some huge point, as these were just questions and thoughts floating around in my head that urged me to put them down into words since I need to really study for an upcoming exam (but these said questions and thoughts wouldn’t leave me alone to concentrate on studying), but I do choose to finish this off in an open-ended, inconclusive manner. These are, after all, incomplete thoughts and questions with so many answers, that I doubt I’ve covered everything that needs to be covered here.

How much influence does the media have on you and me? Have your values altered over time because of what it tells you to focus on and what it says is right and wrong? Are you and I hypocrites? How deeply enslaved are we by the system?

Social media and the media truly have made the world smaller, which is truly its strength, I’ll give it that. But at what cost?

Anyhow, “We’re all chained to the rhythm” (unless you disagree).

“So put your rose-colored glasses on / And party on”

P.S. Props to Katy Perry’s new song (that features Skip Marley), as well as to Black Eyed Peas’ classic song


Yours truly,

RaMarAl, an overanalysing Mass Communication student


My Recent Mullings on Life, the Self, and Love

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always felt out of place and unwelcome in the temporary home my parents created for us away from our actual home country. It felt like I never really belonged and experiences I went through justified that belief of mine. Hence, the self-esteem issues.

Even now that I’ve sort of found a place that seems good enough to belong in, I still feel like I don’t. Or maybe I’m just inclined to believe I don’t belong anywhere truly, so I don’t even try to belong in any group at all. Even if people seem welcoming, I’d rather still go solo. A lone wolf, if you will, although I’m not wolfish in temperament at all. Maybe a lone owl…

Anyhow, with my self-esteem issues, I’m never really confident in my abilities, constantly questioning whether I can actually do something or not. And when people believe in me, I fear it instead of welcome it. Sure, I’m filled with joy at the mere fact they do believe in me, but then that feeling only lasts temporarily, and then it’s replaced with self-doubt and fear of failure and disappointing them. I’ve honed my confidence though — or rather, what I project to people that seems like confidence.

So being on my own is my solution to this. I never have to deal with people’s expectations, because of the distance I’ve created; I prefer observing the goings-on around me as a spectator does.

But a spectator’s life can feel so empty and lonely at times. One sees everything and everyone for who they are, predicting their moves, but from afar, never actually drawing closer for fear of being hurt. One closes people out, never letting them see one’s vulnerability.

I’m usually not one to deny an invitation to go out and have a little chat over a cup of coffee or tea, nor do I avoid lunch and dinner invites. I like going to them, but my default seems to be staying on my own. I’ll give them my presence and my friendship, as well as my compassion and loyalty, but they usually never see into my core and I can never seem to bring myself to trust anyone else wholly with who I am as a person, struggles and all.

I’ve realised I have a façade that never really truly leaves. Everyone has one, I’m sure, for different occasions, but I feel like I’m always playing a role for other people so they never truly see me. This doesn’t mean I’m a pushover though, because I still do what I want to do regardless of what other people may say or believe — I’ll consult and listen to them, but I’ll still do as I wish.

It’s only human to want to be understood and be seen for the whole of us. It would truly be nice, but I’m just hesitant. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s because of my self-esteem issues, my fear of failing the people I value’s expectations, or I simply am this way. But to love someone else wholly and for them to love me back in the same way is something that seems so unattainable, because of how I am. I can hope, yes. I can only hope.

And that’s why when anyone shows interest in me, I can only wonder what it truly is. Lust? Like? Love? Attraction truly mystifies me. And when I do like someone back, I question everything about it. But my analytic mindset always falls short when it comes to thinking up answers. So I put up walls around my heart, because of all the stories I’ve heard where people have been hurt again and again. I don’t fancy the pain which will involve buckets of ice-cream and wads of tissue (or a very thick towel).

Maybe I’m just not ready and maybe I never will be. Or maybe — just a huge maybe — I am. I just haven’t learned how to do so properly.

Through all my insecurities, faults, dreams, and abilities, I’m simply still human.

Valentine’s Day

On my one trip out of the safety of le casa today, I observed the people around me and was amazed at how serious most people took Valentine’s Day here in the Philippines.


Culture shock, much?

Back in Macau, this day usually felt normal and nothing out of the ordinary ever seemed to have happened. Or I just never took notice.

But anyhow, I find this celebration of love kept to just one day in a year very constricting in a way. I suppose it is a sweet thing to have just one day dedicated to love, but what makes Valentine’s Day special when everything about it is so common nowadays? If everyone is being sweet and lovey-dovey in just one day all together, what makes any gesture made on that day special any more? Get what I mean?

This isn’t meant to be a rant of sorts, but merely my sharing of what Valentine’s Day seems to be like to me. The core of this whole thing really is the realisation that sprung out at me while I saw the umpteenth heart-shaped balloon vendor surrounded by other Valentine’s Day themed merchandise (red heart-shaped chocolate boxes with heart-shaped chocolates in them no doubt, as well as flowers all over the place). And that realisation is the thought that Valentine’s Day actually is quite cruel. Not wholly maybe, but in a certain perspective.

There’s a build-up of expectations that are never usually met, leading to disappointment. And if the expectations are indeed met, then there’s the next year to anticipate and worry about, since now you have to top the previous year with something totally new and unique and sweet and awesome. And we humans have been on this planet for so long, I doubt anything new can be thought up. Unless you think long and hard to get a new thang out. So kudos to those who do. And that’s just for couples.

To those who want to get in on the whole Valentine’s Day thing, but are single, will clamour to get partnered up just for this one day (maybe not all, but most), regardless of the fact that they may actually be rushing things too much. Then the heartbreak and disappointment after a few days, weeks, or months from Valentine’s Day, because they realise they just weren’t right for one another in the first place and were just forced into the partnership due to the whole anxiety of feeling unwanted and left out if they didn’t get together with someone on the red-hearts day.

Then there are the bitter people. ‘Nuff said.

Although this yearly love celebration may seem cruel, it still is pretty sweet and I’m not totally against it. But as someone told me, they would celebrate Halloween today instead, further making me realise that Valentine’s Day is just another man-made celebration of sorts, like all others, blown out of proportion. It’s a great day for entrepreneurs though, and I’ll give them that. And as I always say every year, Valentine’s Day seems more like a capitalist’s invention to pilfer unsuspecting love-sick addled individuals. Harsh that may be, but isn’t there some truth in that? Some people spend so much on this day that it can cripple some into broke-hoodness.

I’m honestly not bitter and although this may seem like a tirade, it isn’t. Just, y’know, sharing. Valentine’s Day can be cruel, leading to many people feeling bitter about the day. But it’s best not to be. After all, there are still family and friends around us we do love. It’s best to invest this time to love those people instead of feeling bitter about something one does not have. And being in a relationship isn’t the end-all and be-all of life.

Just shifting one’s perspective about the day can cheer one’s melancholic mood immensely. And honestly, there are other things to worry about, more so than one’s love-life, no? Poverty rampant in our society, corruption in hidden-yet-obvious places, and wicked crimes all around. As I heard from someone, drugs is a severe issue in Cebu, followed by incest. It may or may not be true, but that’s something that makes me feel grimmer.

Valentine’s Day seems quite a secular day in my opinion, but it doesn’t lessen it’s importance in people’s lives, drawing some people closer. It’s great to celebrate love, but the expectations put around it during this day just seems overly done. Simple gestures are enough, are they not?

Anyway, as I listen to competing stereos blaring different love songs from different parts of the neighbourhood outside, I’ll end with this.


And even better…HAPPY SUNDAY! There’s school tomorrow!

The Concept of Dating 02

Long distance relationships — those always fascinate me. Even though many believe that it is impossible and very difficult to do, there are some people who are able to do it successfully. And one couple remind me of this.

My friend, who I shall name Clara, and her boyfriend, who I shall name Sam are some countries apart. But they maintain their relationship despite the distance. And they have this system where they trust and are loyal to one another, allowing each other freedom to do whatever they wish wherever they are, so long as they remain faithful to each other. And it’s an admirable system since there just isn’t room for jealousy, as they both respect and care about each other too much to ever consider making the other person doubt their commitment to one another. Quite nice, especially when long distance relationships get a lot of unfavourable reviews.

This just goes to show that it really depends on the couple and not what the majority thinks. So kudos to them for having gotten where they are now. Together and apart.

Eh. Just my musings. I quite admire them for it.


The Concept of Dating 01

Workplace romance. Or rather, what I thought was workplace romance.

A month back, when I was first new to the office in my first ever internship, I just so happened to be an accidental third wheel while grabbing a chocolate drink at the pantry.

When I entered, I saw a female coworker of mine fixing up her coffee just the way she liked it. I knew her in a quick acquaintance sort of way, so I smiled and nodded my head at her in acknowledgement. I strolled over to the can of chocolate powder next to the sink facing the window, grabbing a mug nonchalantly along the way as well.

I hear some footsteps nearing the pantry and I hear the male voice of another coworker of mine. I didn’t turn to look, but I knew who it was. I imagine he approached the woman next to the coffee machine, but all I know for certain is that he asked her about a date that she seemingly already agreed to and I seemed to have heard hesitation from her. It sounded like she was unwilling to go, but needless to say, I scooped out as much chocolate powder as I could, filled my mug up with hot water, and dashed out of there. It was a private conversation after all, and I didn’t need to be present for their discussion.

It was pretty odd to be in that situation. However, my guess is that it never amounted to anything much since they never really talk to each other now. Or rather, before my internship ended.

Another similar situation occurred soon after that. And this time, it was closer to home. Very close to home, actually — it was at home.

My brother was chatting with his crush via a gadget (his phone) and they reached a topic wherein the girl asked my brother if he liked her. He said he did and the girl revealed that she felt the same way. Now, this whole time, I was just below him, on my own bunk, napping — with drool and everything — and I am awoken from my deep, yet oh-so-graceful slumber by this weird yelping sound coming from up top. I frantically get up and peak over to see what on earth happened to my brother. He was under his blanket and I pulled it away to see what was going on.

His face was a muddle of shock, pure excitement, and, weirdly enough, fear. I stared at him for a bit and then he told me what had happened. I congratulated him. Then proceeded to admonish him about the consequences of him dating at such a young age (11 years old).

He understood what I was trying to get at though, so that was a good thing. He’s a pretty good kid, with a relatively good head on his shoulders, despite the fact that he still gets into a bit of trouble due to his stubbornness and his tendency to get carried away by his feelings.

Anyhow, if I recall correctly enough, this is close to what I had said to him:

Great! That’s good. But be careful and I warn you; you’re still pretty young to get committed to someone at this age. It seems more like a crush and you don’t even know if this feeling of yours will last. You need to focus on yourself first, at this very moment until you finish university. Make sure you become the person you want to be and focus on your goals, because once you commit to someone for the rest of your life, you will find it difficult to find time for yourself outside of your responsibilities to your family. Basically, you pretty much lose control of most of your time.

If you decide to go on some date with her, you need to spend money to make the date memorable, because it seems to be expected that men pay for dates. If you do so, what money will you be spending? You don’t really work. And, quite frankly, if you ask for money from any of us to fund the date, it just isn’t right. Also, what will happen to your grades? You can’t divide your attention between her and your studies, and come out of it all on top. One or the other will be sacrificed and I’m pretty sure it will be your studies, knowing you.

Also, you have to remember that we are third-world country folk and she’s from a really wealthy, upper-class family. How will you be able to compete with anyone else who might like her who belongs from the same social status as her if you don’t have the money and the connections? Sure, everyone says love will always find a way (I still think this isn’t love, mind you),  but come on. Looking at this from a realistic standpoint, both your social backgrounds clash and these sorts of scenarios usually end up in misery for one or both parties involved within the relationship.

And values. Beliefs. You’re both very different there. Knowing her, from knowing her older sister, they wouldn’t be into our way of life. They understand it, yes, but they don’t live it. In turn, their way of life is something we’ll only be able to dream of or work really long and hard to reach.

Friendship. Best to keep it there for now. Wait and see. Don’t rush. Or there will just be heartache. Unnecessary heartache.

But anyhow, you’re call kiddo. I trust your judgement anyways and that’s all just my word of warning to you, as your older sister.

Me and my lectures. I can go all out when I do want to, and my brother is usually on the receiving end of these long lectures. But I really didn’t want him to make terrible decisions now, so I really did feel like it was my duty. I guess some might disagree with me on this, but family is always important and I’ve got to be there for him, guiding him as best as I can.

Regarding my own views on dating, I agree with the advice I imparted to my brother one hundred percent. It’s best to just leave the dating game until one is ready to truly be committed and get married. Otherwise, heartbreak is just guaranteed if things don’t work out with someone; all the time invested into the relationship would be quite a waste and just adds more pain to the already open wound of heartbreak.

This, however, does not mean to immediately ignore all sorts of chances that a relationship could bloom with someone. If they are indeed the right person for oneself, then it will happen eventually. Remain friends and let the friendship bloom without trying to rush anything, because almost all successful couplings blossomed from really strong friendships made out of trust, understanding, love, and respect.

Just as it was said in Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, “Love never keeps a man from pursuing his personal legend. If he abandons that pursuit, it’s because it wasn’t true love.” If it is true love, it will remain no matter what, even if both parties involved are busy with their own dreams. True love stands firm.

If one were to believe that one has met The One, yet do not believe they are ready to commit, do not drop the friendship in favour of ignoring the person. Open up to the feeling and revel in it. Only time will tell of its outcome.

So, my key rules for this dating stuff:

1. Only date when one is ready to commit and get married.

2. Only date when the right person comes along.

3. But before you date, make sure you’ve known them long enough to consider them a good, if not great friend.

4. Only date when one is a completely whole person who can stand alone without anyone else’s help.

Eh, well. That’s all I have on this topic now.

I don’t sound like it in this post, but I can be quite bitter regarding this topic due to personal reasons. I’m just in one of those good days today.

Doodling The Bird


When it comes to doodling, I almost always automatically go for a bird — or a variant of it, aesthetically speaking, as seen above (I don’t quite think there are any birds who look like that in reality, unless it bred with some dinosaur…).

And because of that, I became curious about the psychology of doodling. Regarding birds.

It turns out that doodling birds usually mean that their “artist” is feeling constricted and wants to fly free. But then, it all depends on the way the bird is drawn as well.

Anyhow, I’ve put up a link on bird doodle meanings down below, just in case.