Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Blog #9: The World You Live In (New Chapter)

I've always believed in working hard to attain a goal. I've been working my ass off for 15 years. The combination of perseverance, dedication and countless sleepless nights brought me to where I am now. Creating music has become an every day part of my life and releasing an album is nothing extraordinary.

I can’t remember when I last felt this though – anxiety combined with anticipation. You know this feeling when you receive a sealed box from an unknown sender? The curious you would like to open the box but the cautious you would opt not to in fear of it having a ticking time bomb inside.

That’s exactly how I’m feeling right now.

“Don’t they have news yet?” Vivi’s pacing back and forth. Like me, I can tell she’s dying to know the feedback. She’s one of those who lent her talent to make Sandara’s album possible.

“I checked with the charts but no releases yet.” Show’s been on his phone since morning. He was supposed to attend a photo shoot but got cancelled due to bad weather.

“ARGH!!! I hate waiting like this!” Will stands up after swirling his chair again and again, probably trying to shake off his nerves too.

“You guys are more excited than I am.” Sandara smiles but I can tell she’s trembling inside.

“We’re excited because we know it’s good. You worked very hard, Sandara.” Vivi’s always been good with words. She knows all the right things to say.

While I’m all tongue-tied, unsure if all our efforts were enough to break down an invincible wall.


We all gathered, focused on the piece of paper in front of us. For awhile no one spoke a word.

I guessed no one expected this.

“We all worked hard. You believed in me and took time out to support me.”

Sandara’s smiling brightly.

“That’s enough for me.”

“Sandara, this is just one chart. Most of the charts haven’t released their results yet.” At times like this, all we need is Vi’s affirming words.

“Yeah! And we all know that chart’s rigged after all.” Show adds, trying to comfort.

“We’re sure you’ll ace the other charts.” Will has always been the positive one.

Show looks at me. “Any additional words, General Chou?”

All eyes are on me now. I don’t know what to say, honestly.

“Yeah. This is just a small bug in a big clean house.” I managed to say.

Sandara’s eyes lit up. I guess my message came across just fine.

“Squash the competition!” Show gestured with his fist.

“Conquer the other charts!” Will’s fist linked with Show’s.

“Demolish the haters!” Vivi joined the bandwagon.

“HA HA HA! You guys sound like I’m going to battle.”

I feel better hearing Sandara’s laugh. Somehow it’s bringing back my hope.

“You’re in a battle now, Sandara and we’re all here in case you’ll need extra ammunition.” I assured her that we’re standing behind her, ready to support whichever way this battle will end on.

“Shi shi ni.” She looks at all of us gratefully. “I guess all we can do now is wait, right?”

Wait we did. It didn’t take long though for all the charts to release their results. We waited until the very last chart was released but the results were all the same.

We were squashed, conquered and demolished.

Like a small bug in a big clean house.

“I’ve expected it, Jay.”

I look up and there she is, smiling.

“It’s Jolin, right? She’s the CPOP Queen after all.”

I smile, even though I don’t know if I have any right to.

“She’s a wall, Sandara. Maybe we’re not yet ready to climb her but this is just the first day. I’m sure we can still catch up.”

“I’m not giving up, Jay. I’m not unrealistic either.” She takes her CD and stares at it. Maybe she’s wondering what went wrong.

“You worked very hard for that album, Sandara. That’s quality music there.”

She smiles and puts it back to the table. “I know, Jay but I also want to know what people think of it.”

I’m not sure I’m getting her drift.

“I want to see how my album’s doing in the stores.”

I’ve always admitted that I was born without talent. I trained myself to work hard, listen and accept criticisms. I’ve overcome obstacles with this kind of mindset. Hard work and determination have been my driving forces all these years.

But this day’s slowly making me feel that no amount of hard work or determination can take me out of this harsh reality.

“Do you really want to do this, Sandara?”

I understand your reluctance, Jay. You want to shield me. You don’t want to add any more insult to my injury.

But I have to face the music. I have to know why I failed.

I fix the scarf wrapped securely around me. This is the only thing keeping me from revealing my true state now.

I’m walking towards the music store with Jay by my side. From here I can hear loud screams, as if we’re entering a battlefield.

“I was here first. You’re taking my spot!” A girl who looks 16 yelled to the boy beside her.

“Spot your face. I’ve been here since 7AM!” The boy fired back.

“What’s taking so long? It’s 12PM already!”

“When are you giving our CDs???”

About three hundred people are lined up outside the music store. The guard shielding the door looks like having a hell of a time.


Jay tightens his mask and approaches a man in the line. “What’s happening?”

“Jolin’s giving out signed CDs and posters to the first 100 who’ll buy her album.”

“We’ve been here since early morning but they’re not yet opening the door. What do you want from us, huh?!?” Another girl who’s in line butted in.

Jay looks at me and I can tell by his face he’s thinking the same as I am.

“Stay here. I’ll get us in.”

He walks fast towards the guard and whispered something. He then motions for me to join him.

I can hear the collective groan of the people lined up outside when the door opened for us and closed on them. I shake off the ominous feeling I’m having and walked towards Jay.

“WOW! Jolin’s album’s out already! But Isn’t Sandara Park’s album out too?” My eyes widened when I saw Jay talking to two school girls holding Jolin’s album.

“Sandara what? I don’t care about that talentless Korean.”

“Yeah! I was listening to her album earlier and the songs are all the same. She tries so hard to be 2NE1 on her own to be honest.”

“As if she can pull a CL or Bom. She’s better auto-tuned.”

The girls laugh, finding amusement in my humiliation. Right now I want to cower in a corner and wallow in self pity.

But I need to be strong. Just hold on a little more, Sandara.

“Aish... I really don’t know what that Korean’s thinking. Going head to head against our queen? Psh.”

They’re looking at my CD with mock pity. For them, it’s just like trash.

“Why did I even listened to Sandara’s album? If I wanted to listen to party music, I’d rather hit up some 2NE1 classics than endure her mediocre voice.”

They’re downgrading the quality of the music produced by Jay just because of me.

“Jay Chou produced her album? What a pity. Even the legend cannot save her. Tsk.”

Sorry, Jay. I’m pulling you down.

I can’t think straight. I let myself get dragged by Jay out of the store like a motionless robot, void of any feeling.

“I’m sorry you have to hear that, Sandara.”

I smile at him, feeling myself getting weak.

“I’m sorry I failed you, Jay.”

Silence. What’s there to say at times like this?

Ring. Ring.

I look at my phone and his name registers on it. I feel weaker. I don’t know what to say to him.

Ring. Ring.

Just a little more, Sandara. Hold on a little more.


“Is that the way to talk after a long time? Aish this annoying kid.”

I laugh. Somehow, his voice makes me feel better.

“What can I do for you, Grumpy Grandpa?” Alright. I’ll play along.

“I want you to smile, Sandara. Hold your chin up. I don’t want to worry about you while I’m far away.”

Damn him. Why is he always like this?

“You worry about me? If I know you’re being surrounded now by tall, skinny models...”

“You’re right. There are a lot of models around me now.”

Knew it. Worried about me when he’s having the time of his life? Who is he fooling? Psh.

“But why is it I can only think about how this annoying kid’s doing in Taiwan?”

Shit. I wasn’t ready for that.


“When you hear bad things about you, just cover your ears. Only think of this: your music’s the only thing keeping me sane these past few weeks.”

How can I forget? He also has a battle of his own.

“How’s your new campaign?”

“Hmm... not that good. I’m not satisfied with the concepts so far. Other brands are promoting left and right. It’s driving me insane.”

He must be so tired now. I've watched him in several shows promoting CLOT and JUICE. I bet he’s not sleeping well.

“Don’t tire yourself too much. Get some proper sleep. You have so many schedules and if you don’t take care of your body, it might give up on you. I’m sure you can think of a genius concept. It will come to you.”

“My body’s just fine. 6 pack abs still intact. Ha ha. What’s this? This  annoying kid’s worrying about me?”

“Of course I am. You’re a grumpy grandpa who’s ageing swiftly.” I can’t stop laughing. I’m so witty! HA HA!

“Aish this disrespectful kid... but seriously, Sandara, take good care of yourself. Please don’t let me worry about you when I’m here and I can’t do anything.”

I’ll try my best. I’ll try my best not to disappoint you anymore.

“Don’t worry about me, Edi. I’ll be better. Do the same for me, please.”

I've been through hell, Sandara. This is just a walk in the park for me.”

I believe you, Edi. I know you will succeed.

I hope I will too.

We’re all here at Jay’s studio. Vivian, Show and Will’s all present. I’ve been asking the three about the agenda of the meeting but all of them are tight-lipped. I should just let Jay say it, they said.

“Are we all here?” Jay started a roll call after entering the studio. “I gathered you here because we have a new project.”

He unveils the easel standee with a poster that says, “PROJECT REVIVE”.

“Project Revive?” What’s all this?

“We’re not giving up, Sandara. Jolin may have won the first round but we still have enough amunition.”

First round? Amunition? “What do you mean?”

“Last night I talked to a person who can help us turn your situation around. This person’s willing to support you 100%.”

Okay. This sounds promising. “What’s the plan then?”

Jay drops the poster and revealed another one with two words glaring in bold letters.


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