Belmont Club

My Country 'tis of Thee

All through the crisis period of 1969-1972, when the Philippine Republic was collapsing, I faced with the same problems every teenager had. Namely, a crisis of identity. “Who am I?” During that period there were  a number of competing centers around which one could form an identity.  There was, for example, the political and chess-club environment of the Student Council. Alternatively, there were the portals to the underground, which were even then opening to me. But my own private sanctuary centered around a small circle in the suburb of Pasig, Metro Manila, the home of who I will refer to as the S sisters.

I’d walk in from wherever I’d come from and become immediately immersed in music scene of that extraordinary house. The one rule in the house was that you became American, or a reasonable facsimile thereof for the duration of when you were there. And we listened to Stevie Winwood, Jethro Tull, PF Sloan. Whoever.

Angela S, who was one of the sisters, presided over it all. She was perhaps one of the most attractive women of her generation. Not that she was pretty. But she was damned attractive on account of her intelligence and verve. I didn’t know a single person who didn’t want to marry her.


In and around that circle — now scattered and disbanded by time — people thought about who they wanted to become, in circumstances Dosteovsky would recognize. It was not as easy as one might think.  To the malleability of youth was added the uncertainty of the era.  Who you would be was a function of what you wanted to become.

It was in many ways, a deadly serious exercise. For men coming of age in those years reached the threshold of consequential decision. They put aside the things of children and became men; and they took their irrevocable steps.

The three videos that follow represent samples of the kind of influences that affected in the identity I eventually assumed. They are not necessarily the actual influences, but represent them. Looking back on these influences over the course of  35 years, it sometimes occurs that the choices were made from the heart; on the basis of a youthful dream. It is not that music influences us. It is more that it gives definite shape to things already decided. And who we become is what our country is: the place where our dreams can live. But never it seems, a place completely divorced from our memories.


How to Publish on Amazon’s Kindle for $2.99
The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99
Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $3.99, print $9.99

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