Padayon Sessions by Alab

I was in awe of the spoken word artists. One by one they took their place on center stage then disclosed their heartbreaks and struggles. More than the showcase of talent, I admired the display of courage to speak of subjects often silenced by shame, mockery, and ignorance.

Suicide. Depression. Anxiety.

How many people are willing to discuss them? How many truly comprehend what they are? No, it’s not just drama, it’s not just arte, it’s not about being weak and it’s not going to be fixed by saying okay lang, kaya mo ‘yan! Naayos ba ng okay lang, kaya mo ‘yan ang stroke, cancer, at diabetes?

ALAB recognizes the need to correct misconceptions and shatter stigma. Through its series of events called Padayon Sessions, the volunteer group of artists and educators aims to raise awareness on suicide, depression, and anxiety.

Vins Miranda of Alab encouraged us all, “sundan kung ano man ang alab na nagbibigay ng kahulugan sa buhay mo”.

Vins Miranda of Alab encouraged us all, “sundan kung ano man ang alab na nagbibigay ng kahulugan sa buhay mo”.

This particular rainy evening at Exile on Main Street in Katipunan opened with an informal lecture by Ateneo de Manila University guidance counselor Marilou Borje and Assumption Antipolo guidance counselor Marissa Jusay. They answered the whats and the whys of suicide. It was inspiring to see genuine interest from the audience. Knowing that the group will walk out of the restaurant better informed was reassuring.

Marilou Borje, Ateneo de Manila University guidance counselor

Marilou Borje, Ateneo de Manila University guidance counselor

Marissa Jusay, Assumption Antipolo guidance counselor

Marissa Jusay, Assumption Antipolo guidance counselor

But what took my breath away was the open jam. The performers stood there, bravely opened their lives and shared their stories. I could not applaud loud enough for the vulnerability that blared through the speakers. They were not merely beautiful words strewn together, but personal experiences. Pain, fear, and anger reverberated through the room but in between the lines was a general plea for understanding and acceptance. The audience complied. Nobody judged, nobody dismissed the things said, nobody laughed, nobody dictated that we all just move on. Everybody extended respect and compassion. Puede naman pala ‘yun.

JM Espiritu of Loudmouth Collective who was diagnosed with depression a few months back, summed it up well when he closed his poem with a suggested dialogue to friends. “I don’t understand what you’re going through, but I want you to know that I really want to understand and I am here to try to understand”. That’s really all you need to say to someone with depression and anxiety. Of course, you have to mean it too.

To see the event photos by Maud Javier and for updates on the next Padayon Session, visit the Facebook page of Alab at https://www.facebook.com/alabsessions/

Padayon Meaning

“Do not tell me I am not trying hard enough, do not tell me I don't look depressed and that it’s all just in my head”. This is just one line from  JM Espiritu’s poem which teaches us how to be more sensitive around those with depression.

“Do not tell me I am not trying hard enough, do not tell me I don’t look depressed and that it’s all just in my head”. This is just one line from JM Espiritu’s poem which teaches us how to be more sensitive around those with depression.

Mark Ghosn, Founder and Writer of Ampalaya Monologues broke our hearts with “Mga Bulong Sa Hangin” but helped us put the pieces back again with “Panata ng Pusong Bagong Laya”. He said “ginawa ang break-up upang ilayo tayo sa taong akala natin tama”.  Tama!

Mark Ghosn, Founder and Writer of Ampalaya Monologues broke our hearts with “Mga Bulong Sa Hangin” but helped us put the pieces back again with “Panata ng Pusong Bagong Laya”. He said “ginawa ang break-up upang ilayo tayo sa taong akala natin tama”. Tama!

Founder of Mga Apo, Simone Sales with “Five More Minutes”.

Founder of Mga Apo, Simone Sales with “Five More Minutes”.

Mark Dimaisip’s “My Anxiety” was another eye-opener. I don’t remember which of the pieces he recited had this line but I like it a lot. “The only way to learn how to keep your head above water is to be in the water.”

Mark Dimaisip’s “My Anxiety” was another eye-opener. I don’t remember which of the pieces he recited had this line but I like it a lot. “The only way to learn how to keep your head above water is to be in the water.”

Jerome Cleofas is a poet/songwriter who did not believe in mental illness until he experienced it, until he was diagnosed with upper respiratory infection due to anxiety. He mentioned that he is doing research on HIV, homophobia, and depression and his interest on the subject is reflected in his "Maagang Pagluksa".

Jerome Cleofas is a poet/songwriter who did not believe in mental illness until he experienced it, until he was diagnosed with upper respiratory infection due to anxiety. He mentioned that he is doing research on HIV, homophobia, and depression and his interest on the subject is reflected in his “Maagang Pagluksa”.

Rae Mammuad was so inspired by the topic that he was able to write “Sa Dilim ng Kwarto” while listening to the discussion and other performers.

Rae Mammuad was so inspired by the topic that he was able to write “Sa Dilim ng Kwarto” while listening to the discussion and other performers.

Dia Sales read a poem dedicated to a former student who died of suicide. She has known two already, she said.

Dia Sales read a poem dedicated to a former student who died of suicide. She has known two already, she said.

Diosa Fe Garcia was brimming with hugot. I couldn’t help but react to her introduction. “Ang tulang para sa mga taong nakakaramdam ng pagkawasak”. And to the line “ikaw ang oo sa lahat ng hindi ng mundo”. Feel na feel ko ah!

Diosa Fe Garcia was brimming with hugot. I couldn’t help but react to her introduction. “Ang tulang para sa mga taong nakakaramdam ng pagkawasak”. And to the line “ikaw ang oo sa lahat ng hindi ng mundo”. Feel na feel ko ah!

Ken Sarmiento dished out words about a second attempt at a relationship.

Ken Sarmiento dished out words about a second attempt at a relationship.

17-year old Lia Gonzales sang a composition during hell week in school. “Usually po kumakanta ako sa mas bata sa akin”.  Aray! Haha!

17-year old Lia Gonzales sang a composition during hell week in school. “Usually po kumakanta ako sa mas bata sa akin”. Aray! Haha!

Marissa Jusay, Julienne Joven of Fennel (design agency for social causes), Valene Lagunzad of Alab, Simone Sales, JM Espiritu, Mark Ghosn, Vins Miranda, with Miriam High School faculty members Faye De Leon, Dia Sales and RJ Fabros.

Marissa Jusay, Julienne Joven of Fennel (design agency for social causes), Valene Lagunzad of Alab, Simone Sales, JM Espiritu, Mark Ghosn, Vins Miranda, with Miriam High School faculty members Faye De Leon, Dia Sales and RJ Fabros.

Selfie which failed to capture the "self".

Selfie which failed to capture the “self”.

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