The Knight Owns a Turntable and a Hundred LPs

A conversation piece, indeed:

Dutchy and I chanced upon this shop again where they sell old-school turntables (fabricated to look like antique, with bluetooth). I gushed. This has been in my bubble thoughts for a long time!

Now- He and I have a verbal pact to unclutter our lives that began two years ago since we renovated house: “Unclutter, declutter, throw and/or give away things that contribute to clutter!”

In short, one should throw away something from the house that hasn’t been used for a year BEFORE bringing in a new one. (Who do you think has more kitsch between the two of us?)

And so- I have this Akai turntable and a hundred LPs that survived “The Big Kitsch Purge.” He wanted me to throw all of them away and thankfully, I ruled in this one. I can’t bear to throw these few remaining memories from my parents. Thanks to them, my 6-year old self knew Henry Mancini, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Band, Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66, Barbra Streisand, Santana, Lena Horne, The Sandpipers, Mantovani, Burt Bacharach, The Mamas and Papas, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Nora Aunor, etc.

I also can’t bear to throw an important part of me, discovered one chilly autumn afternoon in San Francisco, a few years back: I walked the whole length of Haight-Ashbury Street and Haight main avenue and browsed through LPs in weekend open house garages. I was like a kid in a candy store who can’t contain her joy upon seeing the labels and titles. I mouthed so many exclamation points while picking my records. Happiness has a price and it’s $1 per LP.

Upon reaching my San Jose family, my beshie Joy Cristobal Mamaril and I counted 75 (jazz, classical, rock, funk, and theatre collection LPs) to bring home to the Philippines, to join the ones I got from my parents. We packed and shipped them via a Balikbayan box to Subic.

You should try that one time, wherever part of the world you may find yourself alone: Look for old bookshops or vinyl record bars. You’ll be surprised with feelings that might be awaken inside your child-self.

(In Manila, I go to this small haunt in former Marikina Shoe Expo in Cubao called Vinyl Dump Thrift Store. Aside from it, I discovered there are a number of stores owned by vinyl afficionados. Check

Now, let’s go back to Dutchy. Emerging from that vinyl shop I said: “I want to sell my turn-table. It’s working, right? We fixed it.”

Came the sheepish grin. “Uh-huh. You’ll sell it so you can buy that new turntable.” he said. A statement not a question.

I laughed. I was trapped. I said: “Yeah! You know, it looks so cool to have that new one, and it’s portable. It is going to be a conversation piece, darling.”

He said: “Yeah-yeah, and I’m going to buy a horse to go to work. THAT is a conversation piece.”


Conversations with My Mother’s Ashes

Conversations with My Mother’s Ashes

In my dream, I heard my mom’s familiar whistle, ‘weet-woot.’ It was a sketchy dream, however, that sound was unmistakably hers.

Yes, she whistled like a “sigang babae”- far better than any man’s so I couldn’t really say like a man’s. It was her exclamation point to things, occurrences, & persons that amazed her.

I woke up & checked the clock, it was 3 AM. Even at death she remained an importunate spirit. She (or her memories) always picked 3 AM to wake me. Could it be the exact time she died? My brother Noel found her lifeless body sometime after 4 AM on March 27, two years ago.

I went to the hallway to pat the urn where her ashes resides. It rests on the foyer table beside the Buddha bust, a proud temporary shiny squatter of space. (She died a Catholic, she must be giving me the dirty finger right now. I didn’t care, she can’t push me around anymore with religion.)

I said: “Happy(?) birthday, Mama. (How can one be happy when one is dead? How can one have emotions? We living people are funny about greeting our dead that way. So I told her ashes: “I am happy to commemorate your birthday, Mama.”

(I am happy today, indeed. Today, Wiel & I came home to a lovely sunrise, chirping of birds, a glimpse of the mighty flight of the Luzon Hornbill. Our longing for home was cured by the taste of Malunggay con fruits smoothie for breakfast.)

Concepcion would have been 71 years old today.

I told my father & brothers that I would drive ‘her’ myself to Olongapo Memorial Park but that was since a month ago. I am using the time with that cold marble urn in the house to finally let her go. It has been two years- and I still get a shot in the heart whenever I think of memories we spent as mother & daughter.

“You are terribly missed, old girl.” The ashes in the urn might be a testimony to nothingness, that life on earth just ends there; and yet, my mother speaks to me everyday: in the way I live, and love, and find splendor even in the smallest gesture of kindness and beautiful feelings. (30)