Showing posts tagged HillsongNYC.

Little did she know

Don't shy. Ask me anything.   "There is no such thing as a coincidence in your life, Pammu" -Jammi

If I were to be canonized for sainthood, I'd be Saint PJ, the patron saint of just being there.


    It doesn’t happen every morning that you see your laundry lady and dance with her on a cold Christmas morning.

    You never get to serve side by side with a Fulbright scholar on a daily basis.

    It’s not everyday you get to sing Christmas Carols to blocks of neighborhoods in the Rockaways.

    It hardly ever happens that you meet someone who is passionate about New York city’s infrastructure AND younger than you.

    This is probably a Christmas that I made the most of my time, loving others, and meeting all sorts of people. I am so glad I came, I am so glad I was out in the cold, and it’s totally worth it.

    I just know that I needed to be out there just as much as those people needed to know that heheh aren’t forgotten.

    — 3 months ago
    #rockawayhope  #hillsongnyc  #christmas2013 
    His fingers were fat and stubby and I miss them

    Asking for help is as easy as it is daunting. In spite of school, church, work, roommates, and family, I still feel alone.

    Joyce Carol Oates said “There is a terror in aloneness. Beyond even loneliness.”

    On my way home from a birthday party tonight, I was desperate for someone to talk to. Highs from a social gathering more often than not bring me to lows of varying depths. While settling from the celebration, I found myself saying to myself: I’m not used to this!

    The people at the birthday party were an amazing group of people. We celebrated a wonderful person tonight and it was gratifying to work and put this surprise party together as she herself has done a lot for everyone. The birthday girl leads several teams at church, and most of the people at the party are part of one host team or another.

    One of the first responders to my moment of crisis were the host team of my church. A team leader immediately sent me an ecard. Electronic, yes, but it was heartfelt in its immediacy. I needed that at that moment.

    I also received emails. These letters told me that they were praying for me. A few of them even said that they loved seeing us together, hands clasped, walking into church. Little did they know that Artie initially had mixed reactions about church. Most of these reactions were excuses that I’d ultimately not hear towards his final few weeks.

    It was a struggle to get him to church sometimes. He knew how that made me feel. But whenever he went, people saw us and had no clue.

    Whether or not they saw the struggle or knew of his apprehension, we were still seen. We’d still clasp tour hands together, and for some reason, this was the main attraction of our entrance into Hillsong NYC.

    I didn’t have to worry about him after all. I didn’t have to worry about having those differences. I didn’t have to worry about what he thought of super nice people saying hi to him and calling him by his name.

    Then, like a Greek chorus singing assurances, upon his death, these church volunteers who see everything, laud the way we held hands in church.

    — 5 months ago
    #hillsongnyc  #joycecaroloates  #grief 
    Lining up for church

    A line of people builds and stretches around the block at Gramercy Theater, the same way it did at Irving Plaza last summer. Yesterday, the second Sunday with a record of six services, a passerby stops and asks “What’s the line for?”

    Drew and Will, dapper-dressed and in line, respond: “Oh, we’re in line for church.”

    "Haha. Very funny," the man says, a doubting smile wrinkles his face.

    "No, we’re serious! It really is church!" Drew insists and Will smiles in earnest inviting the man to have him cut in line.

    "Haha, okay. Nice try. Very funny guys." And he briskly walks away, replugging an earbud back into one of his ears. He might have something to talk about when he gets home. A good thing altogether.

    I witnessed this conversation, defying his disbelief with a hope that he one day checks out this church that is housed at a venue such as Gramercy. The man walks away leaving me with an overwhelming desire to run after him yelling “It’s Hillsong! It really is a church! LOOK IT UP! LOOK IT UP!!" Then I’ll sob at the sidewalk curb, repeating the last three words there, fists slowly reaching the cold, overcast sky.

    All that matters though is the evidence that he walks away from which caught his attention in the first place: the line of people wrapping around the block, which is more of a blessing and a testimony than a waste of time in cold weather.

    — 2 years ago with 2 notes
    #HillsongNYC  #church  #Gramercy theater  #nyc 
    As if the gears are turning only for me (Ten things at 4 pm)

    I have never felt so in tune the I have been in the last few days, as if the lunar eclipse marked something. I felt this way a few years ago, when Mars was suddenly visible to the naked eye. Lately, I’ve been laughing at the moon, as if it’s playing peek a boo with me; it’s also helping that the clouds have been away for so long. It’s like the Universe is synchronized, like it’s beating for a reason, like everything is good and right, like these things:

    1) I’ve made a habit of smiling at people I think are Filipino, or if I recognize the language. I met a nanny earlier who’s been here for five years, and it was a pleasant conversation. She lives near where I live and I hope to run into her again. I smiled at a lady earlier and she smiled back at me like she knew something I knew. I’m sure she’s Filipino.

    2) This morning, I am blessed beyond what my humanity deserves. If you are reading this, know me personally, and might see me on Sunday at Hillsong, go ahead and ask. You can tell me your story in return.

    3) Crossing a street, I pass by a well dressed and well poised man, coated and wearing blue sunglasses. He walked in a straight line like a bullet showing off it’s accuracy. I would rather he saw me, but I wasn’t so sure if he did. I wanted to smile at him, wondering if he would smile back. He looked so pretty and neat and I so hoped that I was charming enough to catch his eye in spite of wearing black and all covered up. Then I realized, he might be gay.

    4) I was restless all morning at work. I tried to read A Clash of Kings but Brienne and Catelyn were trying to figure out what they had just run away from and I was in the same confused boat as they were, so I decided to put that plot line on pause and do something else. Will said that I take deep breaths but all that did was take the restlessness to my arms. So I tweeted. I wanted to crochet but then again my mind will wander off. This was an opportunity to be focused.

    5) The feeling of restlessness must have been reflected by the fact that there is a meteor shower. Maybe, just maybe, this makes sense. Or that Mercury is back on track.

    6) It’s 3:52 pm and I haven’t had lunch. I do plan to do a yoga routine, vocalize and sing a song while my window is WIDE open. Might as well take advantage of the cold, with hopes of challenging what my body could do.

    7) I think I’m developing a heart for buskers. Some more than others have mad talent and I may or may have not fallen in love with one or more of them around the city. I am forming the habit of keeping a dollar in my pocket in case an awesome talent catches my attention hard enough for me to follow their sound. I gave a dollar to a guy singing jazzed up standards and called me sweetheart as I thanked him. The only compliment I had today, which is saying a lot considering I hadn’t had the time to wash my face this morning. Generosity attracts, like a well earned dollar in return for a good rendition of a song.

    8) It’s final. All I know to do is sing. It’s probably all I live for. It’s been a year since I started lessons with Edgardo. He made us go on hiatus due to Christmas festivities and I missed him like I’ve known him for decades and have known nothing else. All I know is to sing. I’m excited to be rehearsing Christmas songs tomorrow for church. Last week, I was sort of singled out (high five, ya’ll) as an example of “how everyone should sound like.” The week before, at an alter call in Irving Plaza, someone tapped my shoulder and said that I have a beautiful voice, that it’s bizarre for someone to hear someone else’s voice when they’re not facing you, and that I light up a room. “Keep singing,” she said. I hugged her half a dozen times.

    9) Last night, as if bookmarking God, I whispered to my pillow, saying “Godangit, I feel like there’s something for me today.” Like there’s something I have to anticipate, something to look forward to. Like something inevitable is going to happen and that it’s for me. That everything around me is around FOR me. It’s a great feeling. If I were with Micko Yabut in a coffee shop in Alabang, I’d confidently tell him that I am some reincarnated deity. He’ll let me say it then he’ll tell me how stupid this notion is, but I won’t be offended…like benevolent deities don’t easily get offended.

    10) It pays to love on people, so at work, I am saying goodbye to people who matter right before I leave, including thanks for whatever help and information they have given me. I notice that this doesn’t happen, and instead, people just jet out as soon as they could. I figured that if I were to be canonized for sainthood, I’d be the Saint Pammu, The Patron Saint of Being There. Also, I was raised to say goodbye properly.

    — 2 years ago with 4 notes
    #nyc  #a clash of kings  #filipino  #hillsongnyc  #singing  #music 

    In spite of this conversation, it was a fun night, I promise

    Me:UGH now that song is stuck in my head.
    White boy with awesome moves:I don't understand how Desperate + Dateless night ended with "Why Can't We be Friends"
    — 2 years ago with 3 notes
    #HillsongNYC  #1 Oak 

    I can’t not post this. The team at Hillsong played this video at all services to announce the most recent Creative Night. I was there when the video was made. I could see myself, and I could very well hear what I was singing but I had no idea that we sounded like that.

    I can only wonder what it was like watching the ENTIRE video footage and then having to actually edit it fit into two minutes. That must be heart wrenching, if not spine tingling.

    This week’s creative night was crazy in the sense that everything that Carl ever said about worshiping is everything I’ve learned as a singer and a performer both from experience and from my own mentor.

    My mom sent me an encouraging letter over at Facebook. It honestly means so much to hear from your parents what they think of you and what they believe your gifts are. It’s also great to hear this from people whom you have just met, from people you’ve only spoken to for a few minutes.

    So much things in just 2 minutes that this video speaks to me like:

    • The whole thing about “Catholics” and “Christians” in the Philippines. These two labels happen to be polar opposites. It’s despicable just thinking about it and there HAS to be a conversation about this that must gear towards reconciliation. There is way too much misunderstanding and no one is defining they themselves believe in explicitly. It should be a no-brainer.
    • Having said that, The Catholic church ought be tolerant. They’re not the only institution in town. Also, the anti-RH Bill does not equal the gospel.
    • Also, Born-Again Christians in the Philippines should talk to each other more.
    • This video chronicles not just an amazing worship service. It also happened to be the hottest day in New York. We were sitting next to fan but it hardly helped any.
    • I would (almost) give anything to have a recording of this video’s version of “With Everything,” the original live version of which you can see here.
    • I’ve been struggling and wrestling with words lately. This may be just two minutes our of the actual worship time we spent, but it’s the most amazing two minutes. Just because there are no words, it’s doesn’t mean that nothing is being said.

    I’m so glad I’m part of this community.

    — 2 years ago with 1 note
    #hillsongnyc  #creative night  #singing 
    So we weren’t cast. Here, have a voice teacher.

    I hadn’t realized that it’s been a little over a year since I wasn’t cast in a show that I thought I wanted to be in. Those who know me well were surprised that I actually cried over this one. I hardly ever cried in my life at least until that point. Funnier still, I was crying and I had no idea why.

    It’s just a casting. I’m still alive. I was crying because somehow my body knew what was going on and left my brain to figure everything out on its own. Like something other than my own desires knew better. Like my body craved for an epiphany.

    I’m actually composing an email to someone and it contains an apology and an account of certain things. This post is supplement to that email because I feel that I have to let it out to the world anyway. More importantly, I’m also writing this to build a framework of grace in my own story because every time this comes up, I feel gross. And gross isn’t the life I want to live or believe in. Bitterness is no story to weave.

    Just thinking about writing about these things is painful. Not being cast was like a hit to my gut or like muscle cramps in both calves. I was so lost in not being cast but knowing that I’ll be leaving for New York six months later, I thought I’d start anew and forget everything.

    Last Sunday at Hillsong, Carl said

    No matter how lost you feel in the wild, God will always remember what you look like.

    Feeling forgotten, and despairing at the time I would have spent doing something else, I thought that I’d quit. That quitting theater and singing altogether would do me good. That I had no future in performing. Besides, I was sitting in the midst of a theater company and no one was making use of my worth. I was believing that I was worthless.

    Then someone found me.

    When Carl yelled shared his message last Sunday, I knew exactly what he was talking about. He was talking about this epic voice teacher who heard me one Sunday, after a mall show that our family provided rehearsal space for. Edgardo Crisol introduced himself to Micko. Micko then introduced me to him. Edgardo took us to be curiosities. New voices to hear. New challenges. He appraised me.

    "Talk to me," Mr. Crisol said. I vaguely remember talking about my life after college, hopefully leading to how I ended up in theater but before I was starting to lose sense, he raised a hand like wizards do when they’ve heard enough.

    He asked “Do you sing? Are you a singer?”

    "Yes, I sing."

    He turned to one of his students standing next to him, a young tenor, and said “Do you hear that? She has a deep speaking voice but you can hear the high timbre of her head tone. And her speaking voice is velvety.” He turned to me again. “Very velvety. Do you sing soprano?”


    He took a breath and spoke some more. “You are a natural lyric soprano,” He said. He was pointing a finger at me as he spoke, telling me this as if I was at fault for not knowing this information since kindergarten. “Like Kiri Te Kanawa. Velvety and fine. Run a search on her so you have an idea.” Sparing no awkward moment, he offered an invitation. “I hope that you and Micko would sit down and have voice lessons with me. You would make a great team.” (Micko is one of my best friends. We were already a team!)

    That was all I needed. Someone who heard me. Someone who knew better. Someone like Edgardo Crisol who took the time to be curious about me and actually tell me what I am. By the time he asked me to talk to him, he already knew what I had. He knew what I could do. He knew what kind of songs I could sing. I looked up Kiri Te Kanawa that evening and thought “he heard that?”

    Singing warm ups at the top of every lesson informed him of various things. Like if I was having my period, or if I was tired. If I was sleep deprived or if I’m adjusting to November temperature changes. He also figured that I had anger issues. He figured this out in the middle of my first session.

    He was exasperated about those anger issues. At the first session, he was getting me to reach a high E flat. I couldn’t reach a high E flat and he was making me reach it because he could hear it “There’s something there. There’s something there,” he insisted.

    "I’m thinking of the note but I can’t figure it out," which is how I work when I sing. I hear the note, I think about it and sing it. Like how your brain will always know that the letter "A" is the letter A. He did say that that there was one good thing that I have going for me: "You have a very good ear for music. Very good." But there was something keeping me for from that E flat. I could hear it. I know what it sounds like but I couldn’t get it out.

    Finally, he hit the nail on the head. “You have anger issues!” he said. “But come on. I know you have it. Show up, PJ.”

    I’m trying to get reach something I should physically reach with my voice and I’m learning that my anger is an obstacle. I was confused. I was sweating and clueless. I could feel my throat expanding. My voice is bouncing around every crack in my skull. I’ve been singing since I was five but I have never gone through anything like this. It was like my soul was being laid bare, like was being stripped naked. 

    Then he couldn’t let it get past him. He let go of his keyboard in surrender and said “PJ, come on. Let’s have it. You’re very angry. What’s going on? Tell me, ano ba yan?” I turned to Micko who was hiding his face in his music. Micko knew everything but I’m sure he didn’t see this coming. I gave Edgardo the bottom line. My thoughts stuttered but he listened. At the end of it, I couldn’t wait to see what else he could get out of me, what else he thought I could actually do. Sundays were amazing and Micko and I figured that at some point, we’d already become friends with him.

    I’ve only known him for five months and the last time I saw him was in April. He was at his sharpest, most energetic, and most witty, which is the way he would have wanted to be remembered.

    He didn’t make it to the recital he urged for me to have. He died before we could even send him a burnt cd of the show. He died about two weeks after my recital, almost exactly a month before I arrive in New York.

    Mine was the last recital that he would have seen. They say he waited for me. They say I was his last investment before leaving this earth. Strangely, our visits prompted him to organize his files into folders and there was a constant issue with last pages in his photocopied sheet music for us. Little things that foreshadow. Later on, we found out that he knew he was going to die soon but never told us.

    On my first day of lessons, he said that performance has got to do with self-confrontation. You have to deal with yourself before you go out to an audience. You have to deal with yourself. The evening after he passed, I decided to get up on my feet and face the object of my anger. That was the last time I saw the theater company I dedicated myself to for five years. I never intended to see them again, but as a small celebration of his legacy in my life and for my own sake, I faced facing them. And it went well.

    The timing and circumstance of our first meeting and the timing of his death defined not only what I should do in New York, but also what I should be doing to my life. One of them is to sing, which I’ve been doing without fail. Another is to write.

    I’ve been keeping this story from being written because I’ve always been pissed off and passive aggressively angry every time it comes up even in conversation. I feel like shit thinking about everything and I was sick and tired of that feeling.

    Obviously, I’m writing about it right now but it’s taken me almost 24 hours. How do you organize grace into words when you don’t have grace just yet? How do you organize pain into words when your story conjures bitterness and words are the very things that are hard to come by? How can I tell this story without offending anyone?

    Then again this is my story. I’ve been offended for far too long and I have moved on, as they have. The words will come and hopefully, grace will be attached to them. For all I know, they didn’t know any better and still don’t know any better the same way I have no idea what will become of me here in New York. At least one of us is excited for me and the healing is just about to begin.

    — 2 years ago with 5 notes
    #Church in the wild  #Edgardo Dodo Crisol  #NYC  #hillsongnyc  #why i tell the story  #Carl Lentz