I Used To Listen To Up Dharma Down


I used to listen to Up Dharma Down.

I was in high school, when a friend of mine told me to listen to Oo. “Pakinggan mo…” she said. “Tagos sa buto.” She handed me the left earphone and started playing the song on her 4th gen iPod classic. As I was listening and getting a hang of the rhythm, the girl vocalist dropped these lines:

‘Di mo lang alam ako’y iyong nasaktan
O baka sakali lang maisip mo naman
Puro siya na lang, sana’y ako naman

Damn, my friend was right.

Each and every line made my heart pound like it was being beaten to death. This was the time I really felt the essence of the catchphrase, ang sakit bes. The lyrics of the song blended so well with the melody, that it gave me instant feels. I was able to relate to what they’re trying to say. The lyrics resonated with a universal truth – to finally receive reciprocation from that ‘unrequited love’ that we all have. And at that moment, that was what I longed for. At first I thought, this is stupid. I shouldn’t like boys who don’t like me back. Then I said to myself, if Up Dharma Down is singing about it, maybe it’s fine. It’s okay to like someone who obviously doesn’t like me back.

You see, I always had strong feels back then. Strong, melancholic, emo, wrist-slashing feels – but not the My Chemical Romance kind. I thought that the world forever turned its back on me and all I deserved was crap and a handful of rejections from love. So discovering songs by Up Dharma Down made me feel down, still, but hopeful, as I’m not alone in this world. I’m breathing the same air with this band that also share the same thoughts as mine – but they’re way cooler as they can translate these thoughts into songs.

Up Dharma Down became my tool for solace. It came to a point wherein I felt like the band would always have me in mind whenever they’d write songs (even if they didn’t know my existence- yet), because it seemed like they were singing about moments that occurred in my life. I played their songs whenever it would fit my current mood – which basically was everyday.

I abused the repeat button on Sana and Indak when I had my first heartbreak. I finally understood the meaning of The World Is Our Playground And We Will Always Be Home when I was trying to save my first relationship from falling apart. I convinced my friend to listen to Unspoken Definites because I thought that that song deserves some attention. I played the whole Capacities album on full-blast in my room, and had a soft spot for Feelings and Luna. All these songs consoled my heart and trained it to welcome pain with a different perspective. It made me think that there is no such thing as perfect love, only imperfect people crossing paths that are bound to part soon – and that’s okay. It’s part of the relationship package.

I used to listen to Up Dharma Down, until one day I stopped. I stopped having melancholic feelings. I stopped accepting the fact that there’s no happily ever after. I stopped believing that the world decided to forever turn its back on me. Then, I started having feelings of love. Real love. Real, happy, giddy feelings of love. I stopped relating to Parks, and Pag-Agos. Sana didn’t invoke any feelings anymore. When I’d listen to it, it just feels like I’m listening to a song with powerful lyrics – and nothing more. It stopped breaking my wall and pulling my heart down. I stopped listening to Up Dharma Down because my heart couldn’t connect to their songs anymore; songs that once comforted my sapped and burnt-out heart. I told myself that it’s a big relief, not being able to relate to these songs that I used to play over and over. A little tear rolled down, as it felt like it was an end of an era. But it’s okay, I know it’s now time to make good love come my way.

Recently, I opened my Spotify and tuned in a playlist that suggests new songs every week. The first song that played sounded quite familiar but I couldn’t seem to figure out the artist. The first few lines were ushered in by this smooth voice and my heart immediately knew. The lines spoke to me just like how Oo did, but it reinforced intense good feels.

Hindi kita iiwan
Kahit pilitin mo
Ako’y iyong iyo

I stopped listening to Up Dharma Down for a very long time. But now, I’d make an exception for this certain song. I’m sure. Sigurado.

Black Dog

At home, I have three Pomeranian dogs that my parents actually consider as my siblings. They are well-taken care of – their meals consist of quality food, they sleep on the bed, they get regular check-ups at the vet, they get a ‘massage’ every night, and the list goes on and on. Everyone in the family loves them dearly. Though at times they get super rowdy, we just laugh off their silly antics. They’re like toddlers living at our house, but with fur – they’re noisy fluffy pups that we couldn’t resist cuddling.

There are times when I catch myself wishing for an additional dog that’s a different breed. I love Poms and their cheeky personality, but sometimes I think it would be nice to have a big dog like a Chow Chow or an English Bulldog at home. Then again, taking care of three dogs is already a lot of work. We actually had to hire a house helper for them. Told you, they’re well-taken care of.

Last year, I think someone (or something) heard my wish about another dog – but with a slight mixup. Out of nowhere, I got a black dog. It was on a mundane weekday. I left for work early to have dinner with a friend. We had a good chat, and a few minutes before midnight we bid each other goodbye. I drove myself home, speeding through the highway while indie music was blaring through the car speakers. “It was a good night”, I muttered. As I reached the gate of my house, I noticed a toy-sized black dog that’s leashed on our gate rail. I parked in front and I looked at it closely. It had round eyes, a pinched nose, and a long strip of white fur on its chest. Its tall ears moved like a satellite the minute I approached it. It didn’t bark at me. It was as if I was a familiar being to it. I looked left and right to check if someone left it there – might be on purpose or by accident, I’m not so sure. There was no one on the street except me and the dog. There was nothing else left to do.

I took it in.

I got scared at first because my Pomeranians become feisty when other dogs are within their territory. But the moment I let the black dog in, they didn’t pay attention to it that much. They just stood there in silence – checking out the black dog a few steps away. I gave the black dog some water since it looked a bit parched. I fed it biscuit treats, wiped his paws, and removed its leash to make it feel relaxed.

The next day, I tried to potty train it. I took it out after breakfast, and walked it around a bit in our front garden. It kept following me to wherever I went – the kitchen, the living room, my bedroom. Whenever I went to the bathroom it would scratch the door until I open the door and let it in. Wherever I go, the black dog is there. It started bothering me when I was about to leave the house. I opened the garage gate so I can drive the car out. As I put the car in reverse, I saw the black dog run in the middle of the garage and sat on the floor – a few steps away from the rear of my car. I tried shooing it but it won’t budge. The little furball looked so determined. Its round eyes were telling me, “if you try to leave, you’ll run me over. There will be dog blood all over the garage. Every dog in this neighbourhood will know. Hah.”

I caved in. I walked back to the house and it followed me. ‘Round the clock. It made sure I didn’t leave the house. It made sure I only gave attention to it. It made sure I wasn’t getting enough sunlight. It made sure I didn’t get to see my friends often. It made sure I didn’t talk a lot to other people. It made sure that I was alone and all my attention was focused on it.

After each month it grew more adamant. It would surprise me wherever I’d go – at work, with friends, at the gym. There was a time when I went out to get some groceries, then out of the blue the black dog jumped out of the back seat. It curled itself on my lap while I was driving. It’s pretty hard to get rid of me. You know I’ll follow you anywhere. I had no choice but to pet its back until we got home. The black dog would smile whenever it sees I’m home, locked up in my room, completely doing nothing.

Fast forward to almost a year, the black dog has changed. It goes out of the house without notice and after a while it’ll go back, following me around wherever I go. It usually goes away on normal days, but comes back when there’s something big coming up – a birthday celebration, an awesome milestone in my career, or a holiday. I told a few people about the black dog at home, but most of them don’t buy it. “You only post about your Pomeranians,” they said. I sometimes post about the black dog online. I guess people just don’t catch it on their feed.

I’ve tried living with the black dog for quite some time now, but I only wrote about it today. People don’t pay much attention to people with black dogs unless something drastic happens – like they got bitten by it and they’re at the brink of death or something. I googled about it and found out that they’re compared similar to black cats – unlucky when around, and you can just shoo them away anytime. I’ve tried a lot of tricks whenever the black dog is around, but only a few work and they’re not so effective. But it’s temporary remedy for me so I guess that’s good enough. What I realised though is that the more you try to push it away, the more it tries to bug you. I did that a lot, and it only did more harm than good.

There are days when there’s good vibes coming in and at the corner of my eye, I see the black dog running towards me. I just don’t try to run away, as it’ll just chase me. Instead, I try to acknowledge its presence when it’s near me. I just say “Hey” and pat it on its head. It goes away when my eyes become puffy and my acid reflux starts kicking in my stomach, anyway.

For now, I can say I’m putting up okay with the black dog in my life. Sure, I wish it never came on that faithful night. But sometimes I think the black dog was given to me for a reason. A reason I do not understand until today. All I know is that I have to put up with it while it’s here, and learn whatever lesson I should be learning. I’m just waiting for that day when the black dog does its usual antic of jumping out of the backseat of my car and curling up on my lap while driving, and then out of the blue, it will beg for me to stop the car and open the door for it to jump out and walk away. Far away from me. From my life.

Whoever out there has a black dog, I would love to meet you. There’s a good number of us here in this world.