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Seniors’ night out (2)

The best part of my life now is the freedom to stay in bed and read and sleep and read and eat and sleep again. Often, I lose track of time. I wake up wondering where I am, what day it is, what time it is. Am I meeting someone for lunch, or am I free today to do some vacuuming or mopping, or both? I must sort the mounting pile of laundry, too, or I must buy more clothes.

I remember to check my notes just by my bed. If it has fallen on the floor and I can’t find my glasses, I am dead meat. My doctor told me to fire the maid and do some housework, move around for exercise, so if I break a bone lugging around that vacuum cleaner on wheels, that would entirely be his fault (readers, take note).

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If it happens to be a Monday, I must make an effort to get out of bed. I must prepare to go out to meet my friends, to listen to their songs and to share precious time with them. Many times I’d rather stay home and relax, as I have been doing the entire week, but Monday comes but once every seven days so I force myself to get going. I keep my case of pills atop the range hood and take vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and some others, so that I don’t fall over on my face from some ailment I may not even know about.

But I never regret the decision to step out on a Monday night. If my friends make an effort to meet me, I certainly should make a big effort to meet them, too.

There’s Mando A aka Robert Taylor. He had a tailoring shop, he says. Lovable when he sings, his face so near the microphone, eyes closed, smiling at someone who lives in his mind, but for the life of me, I don’t recognize any of his song choices.

Jeanette S, who has a good voice but who hasn’t yet quite developed a thick face, knows Mando’s songs, and I wonder where I had been during those times. Sleeping, most likely.

Perlita A is responsible for calling up every one. She makes a list of the guests as they arrive. First come, first on stage. It doesn’t always work out but if there are complaints, it’s all in the game. She starts the evening by announcing that she’s opening up the evening’s program, etc. I ask if there is such a thing as opening down. She ignores me but I can read her mind. I ask her to sing a Tagalog favorite of mine, “Kahit Isang Saglit.” She thinks the guests are not yet in the proper mood, and she is right, of course.

Resty P is often away on business. What business? We’ll never know but we are always happy when he makes an appearance. With drink in hand a la  Dean Martin, he goes on stage and puts his wet glass of whisky and ice on the piano top. (Ouch!) He croons, “Yesterday we had some rain/but all in all I can’t complain/Was it dusty on the train?/P.S. I love you.”

Songs transport us to some distance in time and space. They fill our hearts with joy but they can also make us sad, or set us adrift in a fantasy land to dream dreams of love that can never be. But the mood changes quickly as soon as the next singer steps on stage.

There is magic in music that makes people fall in love so easily. It’s like angel dust blinding one’s eyes and before one realizes it, one is in love. But in time, the magic fades, often forgotten until one hears the song again.

Some songs sung and expressed in a most touching manner by a wonderful singer can make one weep. Such a song is John Denver’s “For You.” He wrote that for his young, beautiful bride Cassandra. Sung and popularized in the circuit by our very own Cesar J:  “For you, all the rest of my life/for you, all the best of my life/for you alone … only for you.” That “alone…” must have been a measure of two-and-one-fourth bars, but Cesar J carries it off to the last strain, this masterpiece of elegant music.

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Recently, we have been joined by some very good-looking singing ladies from Ayala Alabang. They are the sweet-faced Bibay N, Marife, a statuesque Anita Ekberg, Sofia Loren, and Gia Scala look-alike, and the regal but swingy Mrs. A. Cristobal. You wonder where they had been keeping themselves and why they had not been discovered all these times. They could give many of our young singers on TV a run for their money.

Who doesn’t know the handsome debonair Boy Santos of Philippine Columbian Association? His version of “Hanggang” by Wency Cornejo is the best version I have ever heard—and I have heard many, as almost every Filipino worth his peso can sing that song. But Boy sings it so convincingly—no contest, he’s a winner.

Time is really very short when one is having a grand time. But we look forward to another week, and yet another Monday, which, we hope, the good Lord will still grant us.

Shirley Wilson de las Alas, 74, goes singing with her friends at Charlie’s in Makati once a week. Her favorite pastime is reading in bed.

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TAGS: elderly, featured column, friendship, High Blood, pastime, Senior citizens, Shirley Wilson de las Alas
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