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Marches n' Mays
As I gazed upon the wide open sky, a memory suddenly crossed my mind. I thought it had drifted far in my subconciousness but now, it was alive and I almost sensed that it was real…
May 7. There was this disturbance of joy, excitement, guilt and withdrawal upon me. My lungs and my heart were like opposing volumes each of which afflicting my breath as they tightened my chest, slowly. It was already summer vacation. My entry was chosen as one of the top 5 songs in the song writing contest held recently in the US. I needed a minus one track for my entry. There would have been no problem if the studio where we had our recording saved our piece… but the very opposite happened.
Manong Rogers, the studio owner, advised us that we should record again the instrumental version of the track. At first, I knew he should be blamed. Studios should keep copy of the tracks recorded on them, I thought… but what could I do? He accidentally deleted it in his hardware because of some virus which infected his system. Darn. It’s the only way and I know we had no other option.
But I had no M-O-N-E-Y. Studio recording cost five hundred peso per hour and the last time we did the song, we had at least more than an hour. Where could I possibly get such amount? I had to walk out from the room… I needed to decide. Would I give up now?
I had to weigh things on my mind. If I only had a spring balance or a weighing scale in my brain perhaps, I could have done it easier. But I didn’t have, just as how James, Patrick and the other James — the kids who took on the rhythm, drums and lead guitar were. As I contemplate, money, if ever I would have, would be useless without them. Classes were over. They were only freshmen and their parents would most probably not allow them to leave the house. I knew it because my mom was not really supportive on stuff like this. She perceived this as a waste of time and money, nonetheless. Mind you, if I had not insisted to have a summer class, I’d never be able to process the contest requirements.
Manong Rogers was blankly sitting on his chair, “It’s your song… decide now.” Honestly, I somehow felt he was numb. If he had sympathy, he would let us record again for free because he was the one responsible for the deletion of my track. Say, business was business… and money mattered… really.
Questions popped out in my head like popcorns in the pan. Stressfully alarming. I suddenly felt that light was trudging away in the doorways of my heart. I wanted to cry but how could I just give up now… after all that I had done? I couldn’t lose now. I had been through hell just to produce the song.
I turned around... and sat in front of the big mirror. I wished for the empty spaces to bring me air… and there was I, caught in a pensive stare.
March 31.It was the deadline for passing the song entries. Would you believe that we almost passed it 11:59pm of the same date? Well, we did— and that was simply because we went through lots of constraints and short comings.
Aside from being a songwriter wanna-be, I was also a college student working on to catch up with a Laude title. I was ambitious…? You could say that. But for me, it’s about proving my own worth— a thing that I needed to feel… but hadn’t felt yet or more suitably, because someone induced my esteem and made me think like I was totally worthless. It made sense, though. As a consequence, since the academic year was also ending, projects, tests and paper works were flooding. I had to handle all my course requirements with a cup of coffee at night and with my eyebrows meeting on top of my nose in the morning.
My collaborators were also busy. Kuya Jeth, the most dependable man in our group, the one who played on the bass and Pauline, our song interpreter were my classmates. Others I mentioned earlier were having same “requirements thing” so we really had no choice but to aspire for the time where we could all be free together to practice the song.
Money, as always, was a big issue. How could I find someone who would be willing to fund for us win or lose? Heavens had to make a miracle! I actually had no idea at first how studio recording business operated but I knew it would entail lots of money. Kuya Jeth initiated to tell it to our Department Head, Dr. Jefferson Carpio. I had talked to him about that contest. I knew he was also interested and would have joined if he had time but I was too shy to go directly on the money talk, but Kuya Jeth wasn’t. In the long run, we had one thousand and five hundred peso bill, crisp and freshly picked.
“Do your best!” Sir. Carpio enlivened us.
“Go Marianne! You are all best! We know, you can all do it!” My other classmates applauded.
And that was it. After the hectic schedule and puckered circumstance we had, we finally get ourselves all ready to do the song. We just found our feet dragging us at Recto to the studio of Manong Rogers. The sun was already setting, but we didn’t care.
“March 31, right? So it should be until 11:59!” I used to say to cheer them up.
We recorded for more than three hours. All of us were first timers in this place. Just imagine the nervousness while dealing with time and economic pressure we were having. One thousand eight hundred and fifty pesos was the cost. We had to squeeze out every coin in our pockets, bags and wallets just to meet the price. Alas! Kuya Jeth… turned over his money that was supposed to be for his summer class. It was noble. “Wow! Heavens still make miracles!” I cried out.
“Ah! This feeling…” The wind blew touching the chimes hung in the window creating a sweet gentle melody. “Is this what they call bliss?”
“Miss, is everything OK?” I glanced to where I heard the voice asking. He was the one sitting beside Manong Rogers. I went towards them. Manong Rogers explained to him the situation I was facing. He offered his help, but for a price of one thousand five hundred pesos. Nice try, but still not a good offer though.
He was a composer and an arranger. He said he could do the minus one track with all the instruments even without the chords. “Amazing! Amazing!”, I exclaimed. His voice was cold and dry. He just spoke few words but hearing him stirred a part of me. I couldn’t describe exactly how it was… but it was warm… and gentle.
“One five, its already fair.”
“But honestly I have no money…” There was stillness. Although I really need his help, I couldn’t pretend that I could pay. It’s not right and I just had to plead.
“Eight hundred then…”
“I really have no money…” My cocky attitude boosted. I started acting like a child. It was actually odd. I was wearing my corporate attire and my 3-inch stilettos while saying those words. I had been to a class presentation. “… because you see, I really feel guilty. I knew I am in top 5 and I couldn’t really accept the fact that I would be disqualified just because I will not be able to provide the minus one. I have already sent them the affidavit of eligibility and the video they were asking was also ready for sending though I don’t know how to send it through email… but sure, I don’t want to give up.”
“Can’t you borrow from anyone?”
“I already have borrowed money from my professors… I don’t think I can borrow from them anymore. Ohh… should I raise my white flag? But no…I don’t want to give up… I will pay you perhaps as soon as my prize arrives or my scholarship… whatever comes first… I’ll pay. My mother was not that supportive and she would not lend me any amount… wait…how about my cellphone? Yes! I’ll try to pawn this to loan money…!”
“You are vague… how can you pay?”
“Just believe me… please, I will pay you… maybe not now, nor tomorrow…but I will really pay, I promise!”
He just stared at me... then he smiled… and then he sighed.