I Remember

3 07 2009

The other week I asked one of my students (Kyu-Yeon, henceforth to be known as The Q – that’s awsomeness right there) to track down an old (5+ years) KPOP tune for me. The tune was Lee Soo Young’s LaLaLa.

Well, The Q and her sidekick Minji (or is it the other way around?) are quite efficient when it comes to anything Korean (duh!), and so she found me a link, I loaded it up into my mp3 player, and had a listen to a song I havn’t heard in a looong time – right in the college library (I’m a student again, remember?).

And I remembered Nari, singing it in her pale yellow top and white skirt. I also remember the time she came to my classroom fighting back tears: she had accidentaly (who would do such a thing on purpose?) bashed her head on a fire extinguisher outside and was rather stunned by the sudden rush of pain usually associated with bashing one’s head on blunt, immovable objects with great force (and vice versa).

It was only my second year of teaching, and well, since I don’t get high school students with blunt force trauma in my class everyday, I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do. Rather innocently, I held-up two fingers and asked her to count them. She laughed (as best as one can when one’s head is ringing like a church bell).

As one memory leads to another, I then remembered Yoojin – one of the gentlest souls to ever grace my classroom. I think whoever composed her writeup in their batch yearbook was onto something when she called her a “Choi-doll” – she was always very soft-spoken and self-effacing, gently bopping her head when she found herself slow on the uptake. She helped me start The Orchestra, along with Abbie and Kristine and Yona and Yookyung – she was our first concertmaster.

She gave me kimchi – a whole bucketload of it (my attempts to store it on campus made me an instant celebrity). She called her violin kking-kkang because of the sound she made on it.

I remember Abbie, who is in Japan now. She had just about given-up on playing the violin, since she had been through a string of sub-par teachers (excellent players, but really bad teachers) before me. She was one of my tallest students, around 5’5″ or 5’6″, with nicely-tanned skin (a color we call moreno/morena) and wise-looking eyes.

During The Orchestra’s very first concert, she came onstage for her solo part in this gold and scarlet gown, all prettied-up (there goes good grammar) and beautiful, and I still remember the collective gasp from the audience.

I could actually go on and on with this, but I’m long on memories and short on time. All I want to say is that if your name is on this list, then know that today, I speak it in rememberance. If not, its probably because either you were never a student of mine to begin with, or you still are 😉

  • Nari Yim
  • Tanya Aritao
  • Kristine Borja
  • Seoyun Park
  • Taerang Park
  • Yookyung Lee
  • Yoojin Choi
  • Eric Wong
  • Benjamin Tolentino
  • Eunice Oquialda
  • Fahad Al-Khaldi
  • Kenzo Teves
  • She Ha Nul Hong
  • Monserrat Gonzales
  • Katrina Gonzales
  • Jonty Domingo
  • Katlyn de Mesa
  • Abiel Balon
  • Abigail Balon
  • Jen Miguel
  • Anna Calcetas
  • Charisse Cruz
  • Kathleen Hyun Kwak
  • James Oquialda
  • David Vidad
  • Juwon Park

I have this hankering feeling I’ve forgotten a few people, as is wont when it comes to this sort of thing. I apologize – frankly, I’m amazed I remember this many.

Wherever you are, whatever you might be doing, whatever you might have become, I remember, and thank God for you.


Within a Room Somewhere

24 04 2007

Ever since I heard their hit single, Kiss Me, I’ve always been a fan of Sixpence None the Richer – something about their melodies just struck a major chord inside of me. I later discovered that their eponymous album release back in 1999 was their third album, so with a little diligent research, I managed to dig-up the first two (which I suppose betrays my age, to a certain degree).

What first struck me upon hearing their second album, This Beautiful Mess, was how angst-ridden it sounded; none of their string-heavy sounds found in their later albums, this one was unabashedly guitar-driven.

One particularly standout song for me was Within a Room Somewhere, who’s refrain of

Escape the pain so deep
Within a room somewhere
Escape the pain so deep inside
I have no key, no map to find.

 really hit home, for some reason. Having a nice, heartfelt melody didn’t hurt either.


In case you are thinking this is a Sixpence None the Richer-themed post, well, it’s not. It’s actually about another band called Little Yellow Mustard Seed for whom the song I just mentioned holds a great deal of significance.


Little Yellow Mustard Seed was a college band formed back in 2001 by a bunch of friends when they discovered they could actually play instruments, sing, or both. They had a godlike (in my opinion) lead guitarist, a somewhat reluctant rhythm guitarist, a drummer who didn’t really know what he was doing (by his own admission), a socialite keyboardist, a highly-opinionated singer, and a bassist who was a little too-enthusiastic about playing every genre of music under the sun.  Within a Room Somewhere was one of the few songs everyone in the band liked and could actually play decently.


Little Yellow Mustard Seed disbanded little more than a year after its inception, under less-than-ideal circumstances – usually resulting from when a small group of people spend an inordinate amount of time together. There was much bitterness and anger; there was much pain.


In recent years, the lead guitarist has chosen to focus on his ministry in church, the singer and drummer have become an item, the rhythm guitarist works at a job that pays well but has her ranting about quite often, the keyboardist has gotten married and has a daughter, and the bassist has gone-off to pursue a career in music.


If it isn’t obvious yet…that bassist was me.


 I’ve recently been listening to Within a Room Somewhere and I’ve been wondering if I could get the orchestra to play it this coming school year. And if I could, how much of Little Yellow Mustard Seed could I “resurrect”, so to speak, to play parts we haven’t played in some six years? Would we be okay working with one another again, especially now that I “play” the grandest instrument known to mankind?


Escape the pain.