When I first heard about the Surf and Music festival, I was ecstatic! I wanted to go. I was even contemplating going off on my own, so it was a good thing when one of my friends asked that we go. This year’s surf and music festival was happening in La Union from Oct 31-Nov 3. My friends and I were attending the last day only because of prior commitments and since all of us worked in the BPO industry, we didn’t really have the luxury of the long-weekend which the holidays had to offer.
I’m not much of a surfer, but I love the beach. My favorite trips have always been trips where a day lounging on the beach is involved. And I love music. That is an understatement. If music was a person, I would marry it and have hundreds of weird music-human babies. If anything, this night proved how effective music was at helping me cope with my emotions.
The day started out well enough, we left Cubao aboard the Partas bus line (PHP382.00) at around 8am. We had asked the conductor to drop us off at Sebay in San Juan. The trip took around 7 hours without any problems. We got to San Juan a little short of 3PM, tired but with high spirits. I felt a smile come on the moment I saw the beach. We scoured a good place to setup and found a nice spot in front of the San Juan surf resort.
Like I said, I’m not much of a surfer, but the waves and the weather was so inviting. If it wasn’t that time of the month, I would’ve tried surfing again (women problems!), but alas, it was, so I had to content myself with worshiping the sun.
At the far of side of the beach we heard music playing. It was Franco, doing a sound check. This, we had to see. We walked over to the opposite end of the beach and listened to Franco play two tracks at the same time we got a bit of taste of what has been happening over the past few days. The beach was crowded with people sunbathing, drinking and generally having fun. The water was dotted with people swimming or trying to avoid being swallowed by waves. Then, there were the surfers riding the waves in the water, and on land carrying boards twice their size on their heads and on their sides.
After getting a feel of the scene, we went back to our spot. We still had a few hours til the show started. A few of my friends went swimming, some went surfing. The majority of us stayed near our pitched tent and lazed about drinking vodka and eating chicharon and balut.
The beach was packed. Usually, I like hanging out at a quiet beach. So this was different. There’s a party vibe in the air.
At around 6:30 PM, the DJs were playing their set, so we walked over to the venue. There was only one group sitting in front of the stage.
We were early, but no worries, we at least got to secure a good spot. Plus, there was free booze, which my friends took great advantage of. I had a few myself, but I knew I didn’t want to get drunk tonight. I found myself getting too emotional when I’m on alcohol, so I’ve decided to put a limit on my drinking.
The band Spy was playing. The already growing crowd was still sitting, listening and patiently waiting. This all changed when Razorback played. The chill crowd started jumping, and shouting lyrics back to Kevin Roy, as he moved about on stage.
Wolfgang opened their set with the Beatle’s Come Together. A very apt song and one of my favorites. So what happened next was odd even to me. I don’t remember how it happened or what exactly triggered it, but it happened on Wolfgang’s set. I started feeling anxious. It didn’t help that a friend kept nudging me, albeit jokingly, as he tried to play mosh-pit with us. And when they offered me the tequila bottle, I flinched, giving him the finger. I’m not proud that I did it. It was rude, and I know that’s no excuse, but I wasn’t feeling OK. I wanted to flee that place and that space. Mostly, I wanted to get away from myself and this feeling that I had thought I had buried. There was a break after Wolfgang’s set so things calmed down a bit. But, it still wasn’t helping me, so when Kalayo started playing and my friend said she wanted to find some food, I went with her, along with another one of our companions. My anxiety was getting worse. I remember feeling that I wanted to leave, and I told my friend so. She told me, she’ll come with me, but only after the last three bands played, I nodded.
Franco was now playing. His set changed the vibe again, now taking on a more Rastafarian feel. I tried to psych myself back into it, but really, it wasn’t until Pupil‘s set that my mood changed. And what changed it was simple: a familiar riff. Ely started singing Pare Ko. It’s amazing how music can mirror back your emotions to you. How easily it can make you happy and sad. This song had a bittersweet taste as I sang the lyrics along with Ely and the rest of the crowd. This song was me for the past two months, venting and crying to my friends, some who were with me that night.
When they played Disconnection Notice (I could not believe/The things you said to me/But I can’t let you go) and 20/20 (And though it was a sad affair/You just couldn’t care/All you could think about was letting go/I wish that I could see the world thru your eyes) , I felt myself getting a little better. Superproxy made me hoping there was a real superproxy, one who could replace me in the real world while I mended myself.
Urbandub played the last set. I haven’t seen them play in so long and I am glad to hear them play live again. I love them and they gave what is arguably the best performance of the night. I started getting choked up as I sang the lyrics of The Fight is Over (I have to say/Though alone in this crazy sea of faces/It’s still your face I wanna know) with Gabby Alipe. I jumped around and screamed lyrics to First of Summer and Guillotine (All hope is gone and since you’re never gonna change/I’ll erase your taste and let you go slowly/Suddenly it wasn’t enough/You lust disguised as love). When it was all over, I was glad I didn’t succumb to my anxiety and leave.
We went back to our spot by the tent and waited for the crowds to thin. One of my friends and I got to talking when we got back to our tent. She asked if my insistence of leaving earlier had anything to do with the Ex. I nodded. Of course it did. It wasn’t until we got to talking that I realized why or what I was doing. See the past two months had me going on activity after activity. Planning new things. Making new memories. I was trying to cope and forget, but it hadn’t been easy. And this trip was supposed to be another distraction. Only, this place wasn’t just any place, this was where we met. And even if the whole place looked so different that it might as well be in disguise, this was a very special place to me; what I realized was that I was trying to replace that memory of this place with this new one, so it wouldn’t hurt so much going back here and seeing everything. But it backfired, because it couldn’t replace everything. Forgetting is such a long process and this was another step to it. By now, my mind was a jumble of emotions, but I knew I will be better.
By 3AM, we were ready to leave.12 hours. That’s how long we stayed in San Juan, La Union. I went there for the beach and the music, but as with every trip or activity, I went home slightly changed. This was a bittersweet trip. The event was wonderful and if I got the chance, I’d go again. Hopefully, without a cloud hanging over my head and my heart.