monday music fix:
eternal flame

August 1990. I was twelve years old and I auditioned for a children's theater group. I decided to join because I wanted to put myself on the track of becoming a theater actress - well, that and because I wanted a legitimate means of interacting with boys from the other school.

I had already passed the first audition, which meant I was already in the theater group. Those of us who made it were asked to memorize a 2-and-a-half page script and return three days later for the second audition. The second leg was where we tried out for roles - we showcased our talents one by one, while the directors and advisers privately evaluated us and assigned us roles that they thought we best fit.

Memorizing two-and-a-half pages of monologue was a cinch at age twelve (wow, I miss those days when my mind was like a sponge). I was quite confident that I could deliver my lines clearly and emotively; no problem.

What I worried most about was the singing part of the auditions.

Like most Filipinos, I had loved singing since I was a wee kid. The thing is I wasn't quite ... uh, let's just say I didn't receive enough praise for my singing (hee hee hee). Still I didn't think I was that bad - of course I could carry a tune, I just didn't sound very impressive - and tried my luck at children's theater. For all I knew, I might have been more talented than I thougt I was, right?

Having the script down pat, the next thing to do was to select a song. In those days, the whole nation was still drunk on Lea Salonga's success at London, so most girls at the screening thought it good to choose a solo from Miss Saigon. Others who were a bit more adventurous picked something out from Les Miserables.

I was rather in a pinch because, aside from the fact I wasn't confident about my vocals, I didn't know that many songs that were appropriate for a theater club audition. I desperately rifled through my mind and through every songhits I could find for something I could perform satisfactorily, and three days didn't seem enough time to prepare.

With a heavy heart, I finally decided on singing the Bangles hit, Eternal Flame. It was an easy song, a safe one, with words that were very easy to remember. There was hardly a chance of flubbing it, so off to the singing auditions I went with Eternal Flame.

But I still wrecked it! My nerves got the best of me and I looked like an idiot up there. Apparently those who auditioned before me were shorter than I was, because the mic was positioned too low. I didn't know how to adjust it so I decided to just leave it alone and avoid the risk of damaging the equipment. I said my name, school, grade and section, took a deep breath and commenced.

Close your eyes, I crooned, hunching over the midget mic stand with my knees slightly bent.
Give me your hand, Not knowing what to do with my hands, I folded them across my chest, awkwardly clutching my plastic purse.
Was I supposed to sing the darlin' part? I just skipped it altogether.
Do you feel my heart beating? Damn, my heart was an enormous taiko drum.
Do you understand? I just wanted it to be done as soon as possible.
Do you feel the same? Uh-oh. Flat.
Am I only dreeeeeeeeam-ing? I wasn't quite sure how to emote to a song I couldn't deliver properly; I knew it would just look like a pathetic attempt to look confident. Thus my face got frozen in a dead-pan expression.
Is this burnin' Saying burnen' instead of burning felt so pretentious.
An eternal flame ...
I believe, it was meant to be ... And right there I was asked to stop with a vague but firm Thank You from one of the judges advisers Miss Marasigan.

I didn't even make it to the bridge (Say my name, sun shines through the rain...) where I thought my voice sounded best. That wasn't good.

Since I wasn't able to exhibit my vocal prowess (and since there wasn't much to speak of anyway), I didn't land a role I wanted but was put in the generic supporting cast.
And Eternal Flame, which used to be one of my favorite pop songs, became one of my most hated. It had become a memento of frustration for me.

The good news was I didn't get cut. I enjoyed a whole schoolyear of children's theater, plus a matinee and gala performance at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. I felt like it was one of my greatest childhood achievements.

Though both my skill and my confidence improved through the years, I never did pursue my dream of becoming a theater actress. I've made my peace with Eternal Flame though.
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