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Erinn Oleta Jun 24, 2020

An Ebe Dancel fan for life

It was the year 2015 when I was a freshman in college and I went with a friend for the first time to a worship night right beside our school. It was there that I heard a cover of a song that sooner changed the course of my life from that day on.

“Bawat kanan at kaliwa, kung timog man o hilaga, ang bawat daan ko ay patungo, ay pabalik sa'yo.” — Bawat Daan

Taking down mental notes until I got back to the dorm I was staying in, I searched the song up and that was the first time I discovered the name “Ebe Dancel.” I streamed his songs on loop on Spotify and found out eventually that he was also the former vocalist of the band called “Sugarfree.” I streamed and fell in love with their songs just as much.

To some tracks such as Huwag Ka Nang Umiyak, ironically, I cried but I found hope to cling on to. To other tracks such as Bawat Daan, my heart smiled as it found reason to keep going for another day. Struggling personally with a mental illness is never an easy battle but there are a few people, such as Ebe Dancel, who live as a reminder that you are always stronger and all the more braver than you believe yourself to be. Some days may still be harder than others but help is just a conversation away. It’s never a weakness to reach out but a strength. I took this source of inspiration throughout the rest of my three years in college and Tito Ebe proved to be right, that I am not defined by the challenges I face, after I graduated with honors.

“Ako ang iyong bangka, kung magalit man ang alon ng panahon, sabay tayong aahon.” — Huwag Ka Nang Umiyak

Each of his songs have become like a friend that sits beside you through any emotion you feel. To comfort you, to celebrate with you, to move on from a heartbreak with you, to give you a high-five, to cry with you, to say “it’s okay” or “it’ll be okay”for you, to help calm the noise in your head before falling asleep, and most of all to reassure you that you are in a safe space for even a few minutes.

I believe this is one of the countless reasons why Ebe Dancel has been blessed with the opportunity to play for 20 years and counting. From cassette players to digital platforms, his music has and will always be a part of the playlist of our lives. His songs have become the perfect kinds to listen to whether on a full volume of 100 on speakers and there you are screaming “Ako ang hari ng sablay! Ako ang hari ng sablay!” or lying quietly in your room with earphones on to the lines: “Sa dapithapon ng pag-ibig natin hindi kita kayang iwan.”

I might not have grown up with these songs unlike other fans but I’m definitely here to stay until the end of the road. I miss the shows. We all miss the shows. The first time I saw Ebe Dancel perform was two years ago at BGC for a Valentine’s Day concert and it was one of the two most memorable concerts in a sense that I went through lengths just to be able to watch. Two hours before it started, I went to the venue without tickets. I needed receipts worth 2,500 pesos but only had 600 pesos worth with me after a friend gave hers. I spent the time later on walking around, picking up receipts with shoe marks at the sidewalk, those left at cafe tables when the guard turned away, and went into stores just to look at the floor in case anyone dropped theirs. Ten minutes before the ticket booth closed, I ran and I made it. I found all these to be worth it at the end of the day since I had the chance to hug Tito Ebe after the show, thank him for everything with a shaky voice, take a slightly blurry photo with shaky hands, and gave him a banner I worked on the night before. He asked if he could bring it home as he gave me his guitar pick.

That day has gone down in history in my book. “Hangga't pag-ibig ay panig sa atin, kumagat man ang dilim, ‘wag mangamba dahil liwanag tayo ng isa't isa.” — Lakambini It’s one of the best feelings to be in a room with hundreds, maybe even thousands, of fans who may be different from one another but share a common love for one artist in between.

I’ve gone to more than thirty shows since 2018, even blessed with the chance to tell my story in front of the world at one, and as cliché as it sounds, this feeling still keeps me alive. Along the way, I was able to create the first community on Twitter and on Facebook later on for the fans of Ebe Dancel called the Ebengers, we are the Avengers but for Tito Ebe. Hehe. It has given me the privilege to help connect fellow fans, offer them a space to also tell their stories, and find friends in a few of them who I still talk to from time to time even during this lockdown.

The nights I used to spend at gigs alone are now nights I spend hours with these people talking about music or anything under the sun with a can of beer until the show starts. Nothing like a friendship built from a love of an artist.

“Tulog na, mahal ko,at baka bukas ngingiti ka sa wakas At sabay natin harapin ang mundo.” — Tulog Na

For two hours, we are all in this intimate venue to escape a world we are looking to take a break from, to find solace in the music, to feel the happiness of singing along to tracks you repeat everyday with the artist himself standing right in front of you, and to later on leave with a heart so full, more than enough to carry on this good memory to the next day and to the rest of our lives. We live for these memories. Memories we would kill to create again as soon as this pandemic is over.

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Katherine Go A day ago

Cold Food

The most thrilling and delightful moment of any school day is opening up your baon during breaks. There is always so much excitement in unveiling your homemade meal and snacks housed inside matching heat-insulating containers. Because preparing packed meals is an age-old tradition of showing parental love, loved ones pour effort into curating a nutritious meal accompanied by a selection of side dishes, desserts, and beverages daily; it reminds us that we are being taken care of, even from far away.

Baon plays a significant role in a Filipino childhood. Almost every Filipino child comes to school with baon made especially for them by their parents or household helpers. Even Filipinos in the labor force continue to bring baon for varying reasons: to save money, recycle leftovers, cater to personal taste, or attend to special needs. Nonetheless, eating your baon is a heart-warming experience that allows Filipinos to bring a piece of home along with them wherever they go.

Even other cultures practice making packed lunch. In Japan, mothers create bento--Japanese meals in partitioned boxes. Because of the popularity of bento, trends have emerged, such as the Kyaraben, or character-themed bento. Naturally, Japanese parents and students began competing for who had the cutest and tastiest bento, and this is similar to what I have witnessed in my own childhood. I remember seeing my classmates sharing their snacks and lunches. They would compare and boast about their parents' or yayas’ cooking. In my case, I never had the chance to join in the competition or indulge in homemade cooking. Up until this day, I have never brought any baon to school.

For a long time, I envied others. As trivial or petty as it may seem, not having baon became a problem for my grade school self. During that time, I had to sit in a separate cafeteria away from my friends because the kids who bought food were assigned to sit elsewhere. You could consider me spoiled, but I wanted to experience something most kids did. I had food at home, so what made it so hard to bring some with me to school?

Now that I am on my final year in high school I have come to realize the benefits of purchasing my own food. Since I spent on food everyday, I learned to budget my allowance at a young age. Over the years, I learned to practice self-control whenever I wanted to eat more greasy fries and drink sweetened beverages. I have tasted the strangest viands at the school cafeterias, and I have repeatedly satiated myself over my latest delicious discoveries. Despite the struggles, I am thankful that I have never had baon because of what I have learned. Not to mention, I never had to experience eating cold food.

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