Two Saturdays ago, last September 22, I got to see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, “The Phantom of the Opera,” with my mother and sisters at the Main Theatre of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. It was something that I have expected—elaborate production, arresting acts, melodies indelible you would hum them again and again after the show. Even the famous chandelier did not fail to make an impression.
In this age of increasingly improving stereoscopy and high definition, the theater remains to be a stubborn art form. Though it maintains a narrative that could be both bizarre and recognizable, its telling resists the comfortable conventions of other fields of entertainment. It aims to amaze us with larger-than-life characters, impress us with excess, sometimes offer us as the audience a winking message (breaking the fourth wall) while at the same time ground us to the basic core of many stories—the human condition. Thus the theater is always unique in every experience.
If you seek entertainment at its purest, the theater wouldn’t disappoint. Nothing is more life-like and demanding of its gorgeous rawness than a performance on stage. (Note: the musical is extended until October 14 in the Philippines).
“It’s just a number.”
Such was the response I got from a question on how it felt like to be 26, also, two Saturdays ago, just hours before the celebrant’s birthday party. If it weren’t for a philosophy that I had clung on years ago, that numbers do not really matter, I would instantly be perplexed or insulted by this answer.
But the thing was, at the present moment, the answer stung the way how one is perplexed and insulted. It was refreshing to be dowsed (again) in this wave of optimism. Because, strangely, a year after college, I could always remember my age on application forms, registration cards, raffle tickets, and whatnots compared to years past wherein I had to do some mental backtracking or ask someone when faced with an imposing “AGE: ____.”
Now, age is like a phantom hiding in plain sight, always at the ready to sneer and ridicule when reminded of its actuality. Who do you want yourself to be? What have you done? What are you doing? Where are you going? Why just now? How?
The questions just keep on rolling. And the article “What Savings Rate You Need When Starting at Age 15, 25, 35 and 50” in TIME magazine last week was more of a downer than a booster. In an attempt to remain composed by the celebrant’s quick answer, I repeated his words. Yes. It’s just a number. As if it’s a mantra that could change lifetimes once uttered.
A few hours after the birthday party’s friendly ruckus and merrymaking, the phantom of ambiguity fled away. Around three in the morning the following day, some things were made clear. And for the following days, the goal is to make them clearer. It is the best way to go.