It was during college when I wanted to work in the music industry. This was, despite the depression, during the height of my optimism and hopefulness. I had so many dreams back then that revolved around music. I wanted to work in a record label and be an A&R guy. Wanted to manage bands. Wanted to produce records. Even wanted to put up my own record label. Wanted to become a music journalist. Wanted to be in a band or write and sing my own songs on stage, but back then, it seemed like an impossibility.

 

I had an inkling on how to do it that’s based on movies and music documentaries, but it wasn’t enough. I was immersed in the local music scene and research involved observations on how things worked, seeing how artists interact with the venues, the roadies, the managers, the fans, etc. I was twenty-one. It was eleven years ago.

A couple of years later, depression hit me bad. I was wandering through Saguijo having the time of my life, and then I was suddenly wandering aimlessly in life. Had no goals, had no prospects on what I wanted to be. I was meandering through life without any sense of direction. Even instilled in my mind that I wouldn’t live past 30. I was a lost cause.

 

Through a dozen or so occurrences, a lifetime later, I did end up working in a condensed version of the music industry. I was suddenly working in the local independent scene where I immersed myself when I was still young and hopeful. Still none the wiser, at times. But I’m learning.

 

I’m learning to see through all the bullshit that the scene has to offer. I’m learning to see that the prominent personalities are mostly illusory, at best. Illusions that are so carefully crafted that it’s difficult to see through the luster and sheen of their visages. It’s already difficult to see who and what’s real in this world, what more in a world within a world.

 

I’d like to say that I enjoyed my outsider status as I am separated from the drama and the infighting and the heartbreaks and the illicit affairs, but there was a part of me that have always wanted to be inside. I was, when I restarted the love affair with local independent music scene, a photographer. And in order to do the visual documentation that I wanted to do and excelled at, I needed to be on the inside. I couldn’t be the outsider if I wanted to capture the raw emotions that needed to be captured.

 

Here’s a tip for the music photographers reading this: if at all possible, focus on what happens off the stage. There’s much more emotions at play there.

 

Anyway, I’ll admit, there was also some jealousy when I was on the outside. I’ve always felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. I saw and documented all these people and they seemed like they were at home with each other. Like they got each other. They seemed like they were a family. I was jealous, envious, of what they had.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t insert myself into where I am now because of that. I just did what I did, and it happened. I somehow found a family in Red Ninja Production. I somehow found myself on the inside.

 

And with being on the inside, I’ve learned that nothing is what it seems. Some people are so caught up in insecurities that they’re more concerned about how they are perceived than anything. Some are all bark, no bite. Some are still finding their way into a scene that devours you if you don’t have the right people to guide and protect you. Some are still discovering who they are, still straddling between good and bad.

 

Some are emotionally distraught and seek solace in people who could care less about their wellbeing. Some are too caught up in their own heads that they’ve become insensitive to anyone and everyone. Some are still tethered to a life that they’re desperately running away from. Some are dangerously close to falling in love, falling on the broken shards of a musician’s shattered ego. Some have seen too much and are dead tired, but keep at it because all they’ve known is this scene and have completely, immensely gave their souls to it.

 

Some are just waiting for the sun to rise in hopes that the darkness they’re in completely washes away. Some give too much to others when they should give more to themselves. Some are still wondering what legacy they’re leaving behind. Some just want to be happy. Some just want to love, to be seen by someone the way they feel they deserve to be seen.

 

There are so many moving parts in this little world I’m in. So many movements, driven by various desires and necessity. It’s a world within a world. It’s a maddening world that requires people you can trust to guide you so you won’t fall into the various traps that’s everywhere. I’ve found those people. Of course, one can’t fully rely on their guidance. You gotta trust yourself, as well. Gotta trust your instincts.

 

We’re all looking for somewhere to belong, a home where we can be completely ourselves. A place where we can be naked and vulnerable in. And if you’re lucky, you can also get to enjoy the music.

 

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