The Cultivation Reformation

I’m a juvenile delinquent sent to boy’s town for rehabilitation. This thought came to my head as I was eating sayote and bulad (bisaya for dried fish) for breakfast. I guess it was long overdue – that I should’ve been sent to boys town when I was younger for all the trouble I did back in the day. Or maybe, I was really meant to be here to re-examine my purpose and assess whether or not I’m living to fulfill God’s destiny.

If you have read my blog and followed it closely, you will see how God seemed to have orchestrated everything that’s been happening in my life. This also gave me peace when I finally pulled the trigger and decided to swap my chinos and plaid shirts to plain work clothes and live a simpler life.

(A humble farmer’s meal)

When I went to Bukidnon I wasn’t completely clueless of what I signed up for. I felt that this is another one of those seminars I had and i’ve already prepared myself for it. I suddenly remembered the icebreaker I used to do in training where you think of an adjective that starts with the first letter of your name. I would’ve introduced myself as Arrogant Aaron. Even before this started I was already full of pride. Everything changed as soon as I was about to hit the sack – I realized all of a sudden that I no longer am in my comfort zone and things are starting to get a bit more interesting. Just to give more context, my friend described my pillow as a big dish sponge so go figure.

(This is how my calendar looks like now)

They weren’t kidding when they had us do field work everyday and to say that it’s the most difficult, is an understatement. But one lesson I learned from it is that hard work develops character. I had numerous epiphanies when I lifted the loaded wheelbarrow or whenever I raise the hoe with sweat all over my body, numbing arms, back pain and all and bury it back to the ground. I can’t say that I’m a completely changed person but I know that the sayote meal I had the other day, to me, perhaps is the most expensive meal I ever had in my entire life because I understand the amount of hard labor required to grow and harvest it.

 

Chapter 2

I was convinced to resign partly because i was brainwashed by my brother. He was the one who planted the idea in our heads that there’s money in livestock and that poultry business is a lucrative one. His smooth talk made my eyes big with dollar signs flashing like neon lights. I was hooked right off the bat. What i didn’t know was that there’s a huge amount of work needed for it to be operational. I was standing in front of a huge mountain with no idea how i’d go over it.

But God in His perfect mercy and love gave us opportunities to meet people who’d help us with this new venture. The barn hasn’t been set up yet, but it’s starting to move along. However, one critical component though is the CEO, who by the way, was given the mandate to make wealth for the family and make it last for the next generations. Sounds like fun, doesnt it? I wrote in my 2016 prayer and fasting faith goal that i wanna be promoted, and God answered my prayer.

I thought i’d hit the ground running and jumpstart my new career by attending a week long seminar which coincidentally is called “jumpstart”. I only have 10 minutes left before my break ends, so I won’t explain everything here yet. So just allow these pictures to give you an idea what this is all about. I’ll write a full blog later before I sleep – If my arms can still move.

The Swan Song

Right after I hit the play button of my retirement song, I tried to prepare myself of what’s about to come. You see, i’ve never been a sentimental person. My few friends and people who get to interact with me a bit more would often describe me as apathetic – i was even called a robot by one of my ex girlfriends. Well, that’s not entirely true, as a drummer for 2 decades I’ve mastered the art of playing with dynamics. I understand the eb and flow of any song that i knew when to hold back and when to just give it all i got and play like there’s no tomorrow. I figured that this is the perfect metaphor, a symbolism if you may, of my final act as a bpo employee.

I can’t thank everyone enough, but i promise to carve in stone our memories and friendship – digital stone that is, because i want to feature all of you in my blog. I’ll end with the lyrics to the chorus of switchfoot’s song “souvenirs” because it perfectly captured how i feel about everything.

Los Dos Virgilios

I sat in a circle next to my cousins and siblings playing a board game when I heard a loud crack. Then, people outside started yelling and someone came rushing into the room where we were. One by one we started crying in panic after we saw blood gushing from my cousin’s leg. At this point my dad took me from the floor and held his hand against my thigh to try to suppress the blood flow. I got shot too… 

Now, this is supposed to be my Father’s day blog but i thought I’d channel my inner Arthur Doyle and write a detective story ala Sherlock Holmes.  

“What happened? Why was i shot and who did it? Am i dreaming?” I woke up by the smell of the McChicken sandwich my Lola brought, she said that it was time for me to eat. I immediately noticed my right leg elevated and wrapped in white bandage which immobilized me. My mom’s voice can be heard from a distance saying how God protected me from getting severly injured and even death. No artery or bone got hit by the bullet which just went through my leg and miraculously avoided any organ that would’ve made me completely paralyzed. I tried to recall everything that happened the day before but i couldn’t remember the exact moment when my cousin and I were shot. I was about 5 or 6 when this happened so I don’t know if there’s anyone who has a compelling motive to try to kill me. Unless one of our neighbors, whose doorbells we rang as a juvenile prank got so pissed, took a gun, and shot at our house. 

Hang on, this is supposed to be my father’s day blog and i want to insert a paragraph to honor him before i continue with my story. It’s been a while since the last time i greeted him for father’s day so, here it goes — Thanks for everything; from preparing our meals and being the handyman to naming me to be the fourth Virgilio. I must admit, i got ridiculed a lot growing up even up until now. But just recently i googled “Virgilio” and found out that it meant flourishing and in some translations, profiting. I hope i can live up to it and be able to pass it on to my future son. I’ve always respected Kobe Bryant’s resilience to adversity but yours is twice as admirable. I hope you have a memorable Father’s day. We love you! 

Back to the story. Good thing there was a witness – my Dad saw the entire thing. He was there at the gate when it happened – when his friend showed off his gun and said that it wasn’t loaded. He took it and with the assurance that it wasn’t loaded, pulled the trigger and fired.   

“Me Write Blog”

“Barbaric and uneducated” these words kept repeating in my head after i watched VXI’s viral video earlier today. It’s like the L.S.S. I had in Binay’s campaign song over the summer. I guess even after almost 2 decades of the BPO industry in the Philippines, there still are people who don’t understand us BPO employees. Maybe that’s what he genuinely felt towards call center people, or it could also be a case of bad script writing. Nevertheless, this is why i started this blog – we share the same passion for uplifting the people who are working in this industry.

I gathered what i think are the top 5 most common misconceptions about BPO employees.

1. When you prick a needle right through our skin, blood won’t come out but instead it’s either coffee or beer. This is definitely not true, sometimes you’d get iced tea also. 

2. It’s mandatory for you to speak and sound like your wearing braces. BUSTED. Although there’s a huge increase in demand for dental orthodontics after christmas bonus payout, this isn’t required. 

3. We always have work during holidays. No, we only use that as an excuse for not attending awkward and boring family reunions. 

4. There’s a chip that is implanted in our brain that won’t allow us to say anything but the recommended scripts. Is this technology out yet? I need 50,000!

5.  Mar Roxas pays for our Starbucks and smart phones. No comment

The Interview Part 2

(Cont. of my pathetic interview with myself)

AVT: Let’s pause from the origin story in the meantime and talk about your gear. Can you tell us about it? (Aaron’s eyes turned anime in excitement after hearing this question.)

AT: I’m glad you asked. I sold most of my stuff when my band wasn’t playing that much and these are just what i have left. 

AT: This is my DW collector’s series 5.5×14 snare drum. I used to have a Pearl Masters Custom snare and a Gretsch Renown Maple but i let go of those and kept just one snare. 

AVT: You sold it? 

AT: Yeah, well because i didn’t want them to just collect dust in my room. It’s heartbreaking to not be able to play with these instruments. I had to let go of my Pearl Masters Custom Kit too when we moved to a new house and replaced it with a Roland electronic drums.  

(Dw Collector’s Series Maple Snare Drum with upgraded throwoff)

AVT: I don’t want to get too technical here but what’s your usual setup?

AT: It’s very straightforward, i can adjust to any kit but usually it will have a 22″ Kick, 5.5X14 snare or deeper, a rack tom and a floor tom. For cymbals i use zildjians, 18″ Crash, 14″ Hi-Hats, and 20-21″ Ride. Sometimes i throw in an EFX cymbal too. 

AVT: What’s in your stickbag? 

AT: 1. Drum key and some spare felts and sleeves. 2. Baby wipes for emergency #2’s. I get nervous before playing sometimes so i always have to have one in my bag. 3. A 20 peso bill 4. Sticks of course. I use 5A’s and i also have a Dennis Chambers signature combo stick that has a mallet on the butt. 5. Klipsch sound isolating earphones. I try my best to always play on time using a metronome sound iso’s lets me hear it and at the same time protect my ear from extreme noise levels. 

AVT: Is plaid really your favorite?

AT: I’m a huge No Doubt fan and Adrian Young is one of my drum heroes. That’s his signature stick bag and that’y why i’ve always been drawn to the pattern. 

 

(To be continued again…)

I promise part 3 would be the last and I won’t bore you with this anymore – ever!

Tiny Cactus’ Aaron Talusan Shares His Roots and How He Didn’t Have Any Drumming Drought

If i was featured in modern drummer magazine, that’s how the tagline would’ve read – or better, because i suck at coming up with cool catchphrases. Anyway, i’ve always imagined myself to be popular because once you’ve “arrived” and became a mainstream musician, you’d get endorsement deals and stuff. Just bear with me a little as i do the unimaginable – the most self disrespecting thing someone could do – interview himself. 

 

[Put a Title Here] Part 1

By: Aaron Talusan

(For the purpose of this interview we used the initials AT for Aaron the drummer and AVT for Aaron the columnist)

AVT: When did you start playing drums?  

AT: I think i was about 13 or 14 when i played real drums but technically I started when i was 11. Our church had a roland drum machine, not sure if it was a rhythm composer TR-707 or something else, and TJ was playing it already. I’d hang out after church service and listen to them jam songs and watch them having fun. That went on for several months and i would watch and observe everything that he’d press and the sounds it made. I recorded every part in my head, the tempo, how the intro was played down to the last measure of the song…

AVT: It sounds like the drums kinda chose you, right? 

AT: Yeah. Kinda like harry potter when he went shopping for wand. 

AVT: Did you play with them during those jam sessions?

AT: No, not yet. Did you have one of those fantasies when you were a kid where you’d be in a concert then someone from the band suddenly breaks his finger or leg and couldn’t play anymore?

AVT: Yeah, i heard a similar story told by Dave Grohl. Don’t tell me your brother broke his finger and asked you to replace him? 

AT: (Laughs) Mine’s a different story. In one of the prayer meetings, the drummer didn’t show up and my mom told our worship pastor that i could play. My number got called, and i just sat in front of the drum machine and started playing. 

AVT: Without even practicing?

AT: I practiced, but it that was my first time playing the instrument. 

AVT: What do you mean?

AT: Try tapping your head with your fingers and you’d hear your skull right? i did that everywhere i went. In the jeepney on my way home, at school during math class – literally everywhere. My mom would catch me tapping my head and would ask me what i was doing. I’d say I’m practicing. Maybe that’s where she got the idea that i knew how to play.

 

(To be continued…)

 

This is me now talking as myself. If you have questions about drums put in the comments section below and i’ll add that to the 2nd part of the interview.