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Maj Guanzon

Life and Lemons Maj Guanzon

March 17, 2017

I’ve always been afraid to forget. I thought of that constantly, when the wounds were fresh and new, and I could still hear your voice, our last conversation, because it’s only been a day after all. Two days, then three, four. A week, a month. A year. I didn’t want to forget, and I’ve kept that thought and thought it often with the passage of time. At first the hours were slow, excruciatingly so. Other days, time would flow in sharp bursts, when grief would give way to moments of joy and relief and triumph. And grief would return, and I would welcome it, because it came with memories of you. It was a blanket, warm and soft, heavy and mine. Sometimes I wonder if it was all real. Your love and the swiftness of our friendship. Sometimes even the pictures are not enough receipts.

This day, I forgot. The calendar, your mother’s sorrow, the birthday greetings reminded me. There came guilt. It settled in and it was familiar. There came memories of you, and pictures, and receipts. And I remembered. I remembered everything.

Cheers to your birthday, hon.

Life and Lemons Maj Guanzon

October 19, 2016

I’m going to try to remember how it happened.

The night before was spent online. It was still Yahoo Messenger then, so vintage. We talked about icky boys and homework and group reports, well into the morning. I said good night before you, as my usual. Or maybe I fell asleep on you (that was my real usual). I woke up the next day expecting two things from you—a good night message laughing at whatever letter I’ve slept on. Ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp. And a good morning text sent hours before my brain would be properly awake. I was disappointed on both points.

Strange, I thought. But okay. I texted, good morning. Sorry about the deluge of P’s blahblahblah MRT complaint blahblahblah work’s gonna suck like usual but I hope you have an awesome day. Hours and people and emails passed. The morning passed. Still nothing. That afternoon, a few hours after lunch break, my phone rang, blinking your name. Weird, I thought. We were texters, not callers, unless there was an emergency. Like, ‘our gross classmate thinks you like him, ew’ kind of emergency. Like, ‘our group report is not making sense and it’s due this week. HELP.’ Why only now? was my other thought. I’ve been waiting for your texts since this morning! I picked up the call, let out the words to lovingly berate your tardiness. It was so unusual of you to be late, by the way. You were always prompt. Early, even.

I didn’t hear your voice at the end of the line. There were hiccups instead, and sobs. A low wail that formed my name. This is her mom, said the voice. She’s gone. She died this morning. But what about my birthday? was my first idiotic thought. Because you said we were going to celebrate my birthday as if I were turning 18. With a sleepover and many bottles of alcohol, tasting menu style. After that single flash of memory, it was darkness, and cold. Horrible, gripping, heart-numbing cold. But not enough to numb anything, not really. Not my mangled heart, or my legs that felt useless beneath me, sending me to the floor. Not my arms that felt stiff and heavy and unable to carry the weight of my head as I sobbed and groveled, staring at nothing, tuning out everything. Light, sound, soothing words, consoling hands, all sense and meaning. You were gone. Everything was gone.

Somehow I managed to get up. Wrench myself out of the pain. Finish the day, close up the vault, log out my computer. I managed to reply to texts. Yes, it’s real. She’s gone, I told them all. The wake will be tomorrow. Ask me again tomorrow.

I walked to church. I don’t remember what I did there. I don’t remember what I found. Was it solace? Was it peace from the buzzing of prayers and penance around me? Was it your presence, the tactile memory of your voice, your words in my head, your last hug, lingering on my skin, filling up my chest?

I got up from the pew, wiped my wet cheeks, and stopped by a Zagu cart on my way home. I bought a small cup of pearl shake, flavored crème brulee. Because the night before, amidst the talk of icky boys and pending schoolwork and things we dream of and things that hurt us, you told me how drinking crème brulee shake with extra pearls reminded you of sunlit, carefree days.

Maj Guanzon Theater Review

Review: Something Wicked This Way Comes

I almost flew to Singapore to catch this show at the Marina Bay Sands. A friend of mine actually did, and she so kindly took home a souvenir eco-tote for me. I’ve stared at it longingly ever since. So obviously, the moment I saw that green smirking face plastered on the newspaper, I pledged my attendance, ticket cost and theater companion be damned.

Wicked was a good follow through to the desperate, intense romantic tragedy that is the Phantom of the Opera, the Broadway musical that lay claim on Philippine shores and ate my heart whole last year. Wicked the musical (full title: Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz) runs on the music and lyrics of Stephen Schwartz, and is based on the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, which in turn is a parallel novel of the L. Frank Baum‘s 1900 classic story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I say “based” because the musical is a ray of light in the way the novel never tried to be. Though under the laughs, witty jokes and impeccable dialogue run the dark shadows of Maguire’s political and social commentary. It was a good marriage, giving the musical the solid backbone its plot required. Continue Reading

Book Review Maj Guanzon

The Fault in Our Stars

This is not so much as a review as it is a short contemplation. So I’m not going to officially call it a book review.

For one, John Green‘s the Fault in Our Stars is no book to be typically on the Christmas Recommended Reading short list. It was tragedy from the first page. Anybody who knows cancer would know that a story that includes it could never end well. It was always a matter of time. To be precise: how much time remains, and how you live through it, and then after.

Continue Reading

Life and Lemons Maj Guanzon

Year 2. Me, 2.0

Another anniversary, another pink candle.

Another anniversary, another pink candle.

Your mom said your favorite color was purple. Somehow I always associated you with pink. And rose scented oils. And Chanel, velvet lipstick, moss green nail polish and beauty magazines. And 4.0 grades.

Obviously I miss you.

P.S. If I learned one thing after 2 years, it’s that I will not ever forget you. It just hurts a tiny little bit less, and that’s a welcome relief.

Drama Review Maj Guanzon Music Dance and Lyrics

Remembering Finn, Cory and other things lost

Glee Cory Monteith Tribute

I don’t remember crying so much over someone I only felt I knew but never really did.

This week, Glee finally put out its much awaited and similarly dreaded tribute episode for the late Cory Monteith.  It was honestly one of the hardest 44 minutes of television that I had to go through, and I am a known crier for all sob stories.

Cory’s passing is one big Hollywood spectacle. But despite his tragic and sudden loss, a lot of hecklers wondered out loud, why the big deal? Why the tribute at the Emmy‘s and now for an entire episode in his memory? I can see where they were coming from. Cory was young. He was no Michael Jackson or Princess Diana. He was a budding actor with a short resume, treading the gray line between misfit and cool in Hollywood, much the same as his character quarterback-cum-acapella-singer Finn Hudson. But I guess in death, we do not look at the person’s list of achievements and measure our grieving from there. We look at the person he was, the kindness he emanated, the charm he exuded, the little good things he spread around. We wonder at the demons he faced, and are saddened that the demons won. We look at the people he loved, and know even just a tiny little bit of the grief they bear, because we have carried the same weight ourselves.

I look at how he has barely breached 30 years, and I grieve for him, and I grieve for the person I lost at the same age he was. I grieve that much the same as my personal dearly departed, Finn and Cory will only be alive again in pictures, in videos and in songs. Beyond that, as Sue said in defeat, “there is just nothing.”


Track list for Glee Season 5 Episode 3: The Quarterback

“Seasons of Love,” featuring Amber Riley, Naya Rivera, Chris Colfer, Mark Salling, Harry Shum Jr., and Glee‘s current cast.

“I’ll Stand by You,” featuring Amber Riley and Glee‘s current cast

“Fire and Rain,” featuring Chord Overstreet, Kevin McHale, and Glee’s current cast

“If I Die Young,” featuring Naya Rivera

“No Surrender,” featuring Mark Salling

“Make You Feel My Love,” featuring Lea Michele

Photo and video credits to Glee. Cory Monteith (May 11, 1982 – July 13, 2013)