Dedicated to Janno Gibbs. “Moments of Love” by Mokong
MANILA - It’s the talk of the town. On 08 November at 2017 hours, Philippine Star & entertainment columnist Ricky Lo tweets @rickylo_xclusve, “A daughter’s unwanted pregnancy is said to be the cause of the severe depression Janno Gibbs is suffering now!” I am for whom the bell tolls. Every self’s undeath diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind.
Life is full of moments of high, moments of low, moments of love - been there, done those! As a singer, composer, comedian, actor, TV personality, husband and father, Janno Gibbs have been there, done those. At 70, I know that at first blush, it’s the lows you have to watch out for. Especially the lows, such as daughter moments like those. But in real life, you have to watch out for the highs, the lows, and the loves; you may have to balance them. But how? That’s the problem!
Today, Friday, 19 November 2010, asked by a reporter of GMA 7, his good friend & entertainment star Ogie Alcasid said, happily and with feeling, “Janno’s okay. He knows he’s more than a brother to me. Believe me, he’s okay.”
Also today, at 1345 hours, I googled for
“janno gibbs" depression
including the double quotes, and I got 38,400 results (with strict filtering, English pages only). It means that thousands are talking about it.
That’s the problem with Janno right now - he’s out of touch. I heard, I read about what’s been happening to him and, while I don’t know him at all, I’d like to reach out to him by talking to him through the song “Moments of Love” composed by Mokong. When I’m talking to Mokong, Janno and his friends will know for sure that I’m talking to him. I will now share with Mokong many moments of loves and lows in my own life. If I were a wedding anniversary, I turned Platinum last September, so I’m talking like a father to Mokong.
I will begin with my own daughters’ “unwanted” pregnancies. Years ago, before any one of my 8 daughters got married, I got to thinking like this: “What would I do if one of my young girls came home pregnant and the young father would not acknowledge the act and the fact?” My own answer was something like this: “I would not force somebody’s son to marry my daughter. No, there will be no abortion, absolutely not! There will be no denying, no cursing; there will be only caring acceptance. We will lovingly raise the child as family.” By that time, I probably had returned to the Roman Catholic fold. That was one of my sweet moments of love.
I’m listening to the duet at Videokeman; here are the lyrics of “Moments of Love” with music & words by Mokong himself, from Sweets Lyrics (sweetslyrics.com):
Moments Of Love
Sung by Janno Gibbs (featuring Jennylyn Mercado)
Moments of love
Close beside you and the world from the light
All through the night
It's just you and me
Making music to the beat of our hearts
Lost in the stars.
Yes, Mokong, we must remember moments of love, but we cannot recall them when we are lost from the light all through the night and it is just us and the beat of our heart, when we have lost sight of the stars.
You know, Mokong, first love never dies. That should be something to be thankful for, right? Today, 2010, I remember my first love, if not with love, with fondness, with gratitude. But then, about 47 years ago, that first love was the reason I was kicked out of the University of the Philippines, UP, after being labeled “Extreme Delinquent,” after having disgraceful grades in all subjects: 5, 5, 5, 4, 4 - where 5 is Failed, 4 is Conditional (Pity’s the word), 3 is Passed, and 1 is Excellent. (If I remember right. If instead those grades were 5, 5, 4, 4, 4 - where’s the glory in recollecting that?) And those included 1 or 2 major subjects (Education). I was a major failure.
What about first love? I was crazy! I’m not sure first love never dies, but I know it’s always crazy. I’m sure I was. I wasn’t attending any of my classes anymore; I was attending to her. When she was in Manila in school, I was in Manila waiting for her to come out of her last class. When she was in Los Baños, when there was a Girl’s Scout activity, I was at the Girl’s Scout headquarters. When she was in her hometown, now a city, I was in that town. I was always longing to be with her. Love can make you crazy. Well, it made me so.
Moments of love
Bringing us closer together
I know we'll remember forever
Moments of love.
My lover, my friend
I can tell you all the things that I feel
All of this is real
Here in your arms
I feel that I could just do everything
You’ve given me wings.
What about UP? At the University of the Philippines, the label “Extremed” in those days, early 1960s, was a social stigma, a big black scar on your public face if the people knew. And of course you knew that they knew. I didn’t, I couldn’t tell my parents or anyone else in Asingan, Pangasinan, 200 kilometers away, that I got kicked out of UP, and I felt awful for not being truthful. It was a big black wound on my soul. I was readmitted, thank God, and thanks to Filomena Campos, Chair of the Scholarship and Admission Committee, but I had been wounded. The wound was inside and I felt it, but since I denied it to myself soon afterwards, it pestered.
Mokong, the story of my first love continued ... 2 or 3 years later, in a very public place, I glimpsed that my first love was not going to last when a sin of omission was committed (which I am not going to explain) that angered me and I went home heartbroken. When later I wrote to her, I poured my heart out, typing onto a great many pages and yet, that very long letter had only one message: Goodbye.
I am the boy who broke his own heart.
Faded photographs and letters signed I love you
Promises we made in care
And dreams that came true.
No, Mokong, the story of my first love did not end with that long letter of a love lost that was mine. It almost ended with a lost mind, and it would have been my own.
Within a year or so from that love lost letter, of dreams that didn’t come true, I suffered a nervous breakdown. One day, I woke up in the middle of the night and was shouting that my brother Emilio was dying and then I stopped the clock - my nephew Santy Llamas, now a doctor, reminds me. He was one of the students at Asingan High; I was sleeping at their house that time. I didn’t want the day to continue so that what I feared would happen would not happen. The good doctor Francisco Sapigao was called and he give me a sedative for the rest of the night. The breakdown happened again, probably within the week, and Dr Sapigao saved me again.
The doctor saved me from my nightmares, but he couldn’t save me from my self. While there was not another breakdown afterwards, it became extremely difficult for me to sleep at night, as the darkness seemed to want to swallow me alive.
Mokong, that was because I had not forgiven myself; I had not forgiven her either. We have to learn to forgive, and the practice starts with our own selves.
At that time, I was teaching 3rd & 4th Year at the Asingan High School, teaching World History, Trigonometry, Social Studies. I had a bicycle and I had a friend, Federico Butuyan, who lived in Cabalitian, the next village after our own, Sanchez, and we often went home together biking.
One afternoon, mid-way home, I suddenly felt my heart beating fast, too fast, and too strong, and my head going wild with the thought that I would go crazy in the next minute, or my heart would burst. I begged my friend to come with me back to the town proper where I knew Dr Vitug resided, he who I remembered had a diploma in psychiatry displayed somewhere in his clinic, that special training obtained in the US. Mercifully, my friend agreed, so we pedaled back to town, about a kilometer away.
When Dr Vitug saw me, he had me sit down and asked me to look at something and focus on it - perhaps it happened that it was that certificate of training - and to tell him what I was feeling, what I was thinking. Afraid of something that I couldn’t define, I told him, “I’m afraid I’m dying.” Yes, it was all in English. I knew I wasn’t telling him the truth because, in fact, I was afraid that I was going insane but I couldn’t accept it to myself and so I couldn’t say it, or I dared not say it because if I said it, it would come true. He asked a few more questions that I don’t remember now; he made me talk and talk until I had calmed down considerably. How long, I don’t remember, and I didn’t care. I cared only that Dr Honesto Vitug saved me from myself, from my feelings of guilt, from my fears. If only temporarily. I don’t remember paying anything; my friend must have done that, thank God for friends.
Mokong, after my close brush with the undeath of self, I had to confront the remains of my fragile self in the nighttime, not to mention in the daytime. That’s when my character came to my rescue. If you didn’t know, character is stubbornness bordering on stupidity. Recalling that every evening I had to drink my sedative (I don’t remember the name or brand), and believing that I would become addicted to it if I continued like that, I decided to postpone my taking of that pill deep into the night until I couldn’t stand my own ill-at-ease feeling anymore. Late into the night I took that first pill after that threatening evening. The next evening came and I postponed my pill taking even longer than the first. The evening felt less threatening than the first. Within the week, I already could sleep without taking any pill at all. It was a triumph of the will. I needed that.
The need for a downer never came back to me. But the angst did not leave me for years and years and years and years. One time, I remember it was 17 September but I don’t remember the year, I was inside the Roman Catholic church in my hometown and I pleaded my case in similar words as these: “God (if there is a God), as a birthday gift to me, please take away my infirmity.” I was slightly crazy, remember?
No, Mokong, God did not answer, and He did not take away whatever was bothering me. So I said, “There is no God.” Really!
With that angst that would not go away, I got employed as a Substitute Lab Instructor at the University of the Philippines College of Agriculture, UPCA. I got married after a whirlwind courtship to a girl with whom I fell in love at first sight. Years later, I had fathered 12 children, 7 girls and 5 boys. We were a family, but we were not happy. I loved my job, but I knew I wasn’t happy, and it was all my fault, I had failed myself. And I couldn’t confide to anyone.
One day sometime in the late 1960s, I came across a book I don’t remember the author or the title of, but I remember that it said if you are troubled, and I was, the psychological trick is to confront the source of your fear. I learned to do just that and from then on, any intensely troubled hour would be gone as I focused on it instead of denying it. In the form of a self-dialog, it was like this:
Me: Am I going crazy?
Me: Concentrate on that!
Mokong, I know I survived my own mental disquiet by focusing on it in order to deny it the strength of its hold on me. You have to believe.
One day late in 1990, couples Frank and Carmen Paule visited us and invited us to join the next Marriage Encounter, ME 4, of the Bukás Lóob sa Díyos, BLD, a Catholic Charismatic Community in Los Baños. We had our 13th child then, a daughter. Bad luck? That was when I realized, listening to my wife talk with them and me in front of them, that my marriage was breaking down. My whole life was disintegrating and I was the last to know. Good luck!
Mokong, that Marriage Encounter saved my marriage and, therefore, my sanity. My uneasy nights went on, but from agnosticism I had returned to the safety and care of the Roman Catholic Church, and I was a changed man. I thanked God for saving my marriage, and my angst eased a little bit. Just a little bit.
No, I didn’t become overnight a loving husband, but at least I realized I needed to be Hercules because I had a herculean job to do.
And no, I didn’t become overnight a loving father. The problem was that I didn’t know I had to be a loving father! UP doesn’t teach you that. And after later when my wife, I and the children attended a Family Encounter, FE also sponsored by the BLD at the UPCA campus, I realized that the FE saved my family. UPCA doesn’t teach you that either. Thank God for FEs!
It remained for me to save myself from my undead self. Or, to put it in terms of Romans 12, to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. God would not do it for me; I had to do it myself.
Mokong, from the Marriage Encounter to the Family Encounter, the years went on and my uneasy nights would not leave me alone. Then one early evening, perhaps in 1995, I was walking home on the little street where we lived and I had just stepped into that narrow road when I happened to look up and I heard a voice, or so I imagined, that told me, something like this:
Ang yabang-yabang mo. Ni hindi ka makagawa ng isang maliit na bituin na gaya nito. How proud you are. You can’t even make one little star like this.
Mokong, was God talking to me? He must be, because I wasn’t talking to Him! Not that kind of talk anyway. I felt something that passed from up my head down to my toes and I shivered a little. That was my epiphany.
I believe what God meant was that I was stubbornly relying mostly on my own intelligence to live my life as a husband and father, even given the awareness I had gained from continuing to be an active part of the BLD community in Los Baños.
One day, I can’t remember when or where, I finally told God with all my heart, something like this:
Lord, I’m surrendering all my cares to you. I can’t bear them anymore. They’re all yours.
There was no lightning striking me down, no horse to ride either, only a bicycle, and there were no scales falling from my eyes, but one day, I realized that I had begun to enjoy the presence of members of my family! It was crazy; it was also true. That was such a revelation to me that I texted a friend, Bebeth, to tell her the good news that I felt in my heart.
Mokong, I had finally begun to forgive truly, completely. Because I had finally begun to trust God truly, completely. Today I enjoy moments of love.
And day after day
We fill our lives
With moments of love ... of love
Bringing us closer together
I know we’ll remember forever
Moments of love.