Jukebox: A Short Novel By Jonathan Aquino (Part 1 of 7)

November 24-30 

The birthday celebration in a house in Santa Ana was in full swing. Yugyugan by Karl Roy and POT was pounding the sound system. "Sige na people! Just get on now! Sige na, sige na, sige na-ah...!" Wally, who looks like Enrique Gil in Way Back Home, had just arrived. He worked his way through the crowd.
"Russel!" he greeted his friend who looks like Sam Concepcion in Peter Pan.
"I thought you'll never come, bro!" said Russel, shaking hands.
"I was assigned to the closing shift," explained Wally. "Kitchen detail!"
"Well, the important thing is that you're here," Russel patted his shoulder, leading him to Terri, who looks like Angel Locsin in Unofficially Yours. "Sister!" he said. "You know Wally, right?"
"Of course!" Terri laughed. "How are you, Wally?"
"Oh, I'm fine, thanks!" replied Wally, flustered. "Happy birthday!" he greeted.
"Thank you!"
"Uh, this is for you!" Wally said, handing her an envelope with a pizza restaurant logo.
"Bro, if it's money, you should have given it to me! Russel joked.
"Oh, they're just gift certificates!" said Wally bashfully.
"Why, thank you, Wally!" smiled Terri. "You didn't have to bother," she assured him. "But I appreciate it!"
"Come on, bro, let's eat!" invited Russel.
"Just feel at home, Wally!" Terry told him. "You boys have fun!"

On their way to the buffet table, Wally froze. "Bro, who's that?" pointing to a girl who looks like Julia Montes in Walang Hanggan.
            "Never seen her before," Russel shrugged. "But she's pretty," he smiled. His mobile phone rang just then. "Wait, bro," he told Wally, answering it. "Hello? Where are you now? What? I can't hear you, it's too loud here!”
Wally was looking at the girl, feeling a strange sensation, wondering why the heck he's feeling that way.
"Wait, give me a minute!" Russel told the other person on the line. "Bro," he said, turning to Wally. "You go ahead, I'll join you later, okay?"
"Uh, sure, bro!" Wally said anxiously, afraid of being alone in a party.
            "Hello?" Russel on the phone as he made his way outside.

Wally turned to look at the girl again. She was approaching the buffet table. "What is this, love at first sight?" he asked himself, amused and terrified. He took a deep breath. "What the hell," he whispered. "Here goes!" Wally went up to her, his face blushing overtime. "Hi, I'm Wally," he said hesitantly, feeling electrified. "I'm a friend of Russel, you know, Terri's brother?"
"I'm Jo!" she smiled. She has an aura of self-sufficiency that Wally found intimidating and compelling at the same time.
"Jo," he repeated, relishing the name while trying to look cute. "Jo as in ... Wait, let me guess! Josephine?"
"Josefina, actually," she smiled again, getting some juice from the punch bowl. "But just call me Jo!" She took a sip. "Where's your friend?"
"He's outside," replied Wally, gesturing. "I'm sorry to barge in on you like this," said apologetically. "Truth is, this is the first time I introduced myself to anybody!"
"It's not a crime to be nice," said Jo, picking up a paper plate and going around the buffet table.
"I work in a pizza restaurant," said Wally, following her like a puppy. "Russel and I used to be classmates but I had to stop school."
            "I hope you can continue your studies someday," said Jo, forking spaghetti on her plate. "It's hard to find work if you're not a graduate."
"That's really my plan, but I need to save some money first," said Wally slicing the roasted pig. "How about you? Where do you work?"
"In a beerhouse."
"Hey, you're a joker!"
"A G.R.O."
"I am serious."
Wally stopped laughing. "Really?"
Jo nodded, taking a small slice of maja blanca. "Why? You find me immoral?"
"Where's the club?"
"Ronquillo, in Santa Cruz."
"I don't believe it!" said Wally, admiring her even more for her utter lack of pretentiousness.
"Most people don't want to believe the truth," Jo smiled, walking away.
"Wait!" Wally ran after her, balancing his plate with both hands.
They stopped in front of the French windows opening to the balcony.
"Look," said Wally, breathless. "I'm a bedspacer near Morayta, I work in Legarda, I can walk to your club! I hope you don't mind if I visit you?"
           "Oh, don't worry, it won't be until the end of the month," he laughed. "I need to wait for the next salary!"


I write visually, so when I was writing Jukebox, my short novel, I was already seeing it like a movie. This explains why the characters are described as looking like specific actors. You will also notice that the scenes are set in such a way as to let the characters come to life, and the plot to develop, vividly and unforgettably.

The greatest stories ever told, like the heroism of Christopher Reeve and the triumph of Victor Frankl (not to mention the salvation of Jesus Christ), happened in real life. We Filipinos see that in the beautiful stories of Maalaala Mo Kaya, which is the inspiration for Jukebox.

It is about a young woman, Jo, (who looks like Julia Montes) and the men who shaped her character and changed her life: Leandro (Coco Martin); Rico (Paulo Avelino); and Wally (Enrique Gil).

The reader will share their joys and feel their pain. In the end, the characters become part of the reader's life, as real and unforgettable as family and friends.

Jukebox is about family and lovers. It is about the power of courage and the glory of love. It is about facing your humanity and finding your place in this world.

Jukebox, after all is said and done, is the story of us all.

This is based on a true story.

Today is the first installment, in a 7-week series, of Huggybear's short novel every Saturday night
“Take my faith out on the road again, I must do what I must do...” My life is a journey, and I'm blazing my own path. I love the music of Paul Williams. This song is Travelin' Boy, really special to me. I remember singing it at the crossroads to Taytayand Antipolo, when I went on a walking trip all the way to Sumulong Highway, overlooking the metropolis, in 2007. Just as special, in their own ways at various times in my life, are Save Me A Dream and What Would They Say, both anthems of people who value freedom above all else. “I won't say that I'll be back again, 'cause time will tell the tale, so no goodbyes, for one just passing through, but one who'll always think of you…”
“Its enough, for this wide-eyed wanderer, that we got this far...” It is enough, sings Elton John in Can You Feel The Love Tonight, "to make kings and vagabonds believe the very best!" I remember The Lion King. Then again, who can forget such a great film? My favorite scene is when Mustafa appears to Simba, reaching out from beyond the grave to remind his son who he really is -- and to face his destiny. "An enchanted moment, and it sees me through..."
“Say a prayer and open your heart again, you are the love & the life that we all need to see...” The songs of John Denver fill up my senses and, like sunshine on my shoulder, makes me happy! The lyrics is from Autograph, one of Huggybear's favorite songs of all time: "Say a prayer and open your heart again, you are the love and the light that we all need to see, always willing to shine and then, peace on this earth is the way that it always could be, to be always with you, and you always with me..."
"...and let your love bind (you!), to all living things, and let your your love shine, and you'll know what I mean, that's the reason..." I've taken this song, Let Your Love Flow by the Bellamy Brothers, as one of my own, a long time ago, and it always takes me away from the things that takes me away from where I should be. "Just let your love flow! Like a mountain stream, and let your love grow! With the smallest of dreams, and let your love show! and you'll know what I mean! It's the season…!”
"With a little smile, that special smile, twinkle in your eye in a little while..."

"Give it time, just a little more time, so we can get closer, you and I..." You know what I admire most in a girl? It's genuine self confidence. Insecure girls are bitchy. I stay away from them and go on my merry way, to the company of independent-minded ones, singing this Gino Padilla classic: "The closer I get to touching you..."
"Magmula nung akoy natutong umawit, naging makulay ang aking munting daigdig..." [FB Via SMART SMS Nov. 27, 2012]

"...bawat sandali aking pilit mabatid...!" Huggybear's blog 2Rivers is a celebration of Pinoy pop culture. This Ryan Cayabyab musical masterpiece, performed by Hajji Alejandro, is the winner of the first Metropop songwriting competition in 1974 and the anthem of original Filipino music. "Kay ganda ng ating musika, ito ay atin, sariling atin, at sa habambuhay awitin natin..."
Some kind of wonderful http://aftermoviediner.blogspot.com/2011/05/some-kind-of-wonderful-15th-may-2011.html
Here in 2Rivers, just revived from the archive, are some of my favorite TV shows from the 80s. You can watch full episodes of Voyagers! Valerie, The Wonder Years, Knight Rider and The Greatest American Hero! Plus classic cartoons shows like Spiderman, Superboy, Transformers and of course, The Superfriends! Welcome to the 2Rivers Fun Machine!! Watch out for more shows and episodes in the future! Keep the happy memories forever!
November Twenty Nine, 2012: I'm depressed as I write this on my phone in the mini park across my call center office in Northgate Cyberpark, an hour before shift. (I'll be sending this poem to my e-mail via mms then Copy-Paste when I go online.) I feel strangled by the ever-increasing call rules that doesn't make sense; it's becoming too bureaucratic. At the same time, I'm losing my respect for my supervisor, who not only doesn't have leadership qualities, but keeps on playing mind games that doesn't work on me, like making a big deal of an error in front of other people then trying to make you feel guilty. Even Jedi powers only work on weak minds.

I absolutely believe that it doesn't lessen my worth as a person if I seem to be always having issues with authority. I'm totally de-motivated at work. Meanwhile, the apartment has become very noisy and uncomfortable when the new neighbor moved in two weeks ago. So I feel it's time to leave. I'm just having trouble with the policy that you have to render 30 days before resignation becomes effective, or they won't release the backpay; that's another stupid rule, and worse, they may not even give your salary for that 30 days.

Writing is a refuge in times like these. Putting it down on (metaphorical) paper helps to ease the burden and clear the mind. It's time to move on to a new environment, that's for sure. If the next one doesn't work out, then I would move on again. That's okay, this is the life I chose, and I won't have it any other way.

When all is said and done, it's not the destination: it's really all about the journey
"Many times, I wish you were here, through the velvet shadows of my dreams..." "Just tell me you love me, whisper words I so long to hear..." Whenever I'm blue, writing and music helps clear my mind. In this world of constant change, the soundtrack of my life is always there for me, like my beloved mush from England Dan & John Ford Coley
. "If you tell me you love me, it will lead a way to your heart, through the nearness of silence, you love me..."
"It's not how long we held each other's hand, what matters is how well we loved each other..." "It's not how far we traveled on our way, but what we found to say..." Without music, I will die, pure and simple. (I almost died in Sariaya when our overspeeding bus from Lucena almost toppled on its side in Maharlika Highway on Nov. 23, 2012, but that's beside the point). There's a lot of songs that's forever for me, but What Matters Most by Kenny Rankin is really special. "It's not how many summertimes we have to give to fall [autumn], an early morning smile we tearfully recall, what matters most is that we loved at all..." (Photo courtesy of http://jazzstation-oblogdearnaldodesouteiros.blogspot.com)