celebrating simplicity in 2014

New Years Eve with my parents in the province of Bulacan was celebrated over a simple dinner of home cooked meals. Everyone was there except for an older brother who lives in LA with his wife and kids. No fireworks, no midnight feast, no alcohol. The only intermission between eating was a good game of scrabble while the kids observed. And before midnight, I amused myself and my sleeping father by banging large pots and pans using soup ladles, to the groove of non-stop cracklings outside, acting like a wild indigenous drummer boy. After all these years, my old folks are still as simple as they can get. And I appreciate why.

I was born to a working class family. My parents struggled for the most part of their lives surviving. A college degree as a working student, dozens of siblings to support, five kids to raise. I witnessed some of these growing up and accepted the fact that we were poor. The concept of being underprivileged in a lot of things shaped the way I think, the way I express myself, the way I dream, the way I love. Even if I did had my taste of comforts and perks during my heyday as a recording artist, I didn’t mind if one day I lose all that.

Looking back today on my childhood, my choices, and life changing decisions, of years I’ve spent on my music — I choke up with gratitude for the privilege of this journey, for its endless rewards of heart, mind and spirit. Today I have decided I want to live simply. Problems arise where things accumulate. I find this to be true.

Living simply will mean more quality time with people who matters most, my family and houses of friends, keeping communications as much as possible outside the ever reliable social network and opting for a more personal experience.

Living simply will mean doing nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone. They serve as major distractions on doing what I really like to do and the harmony I want to create in my life and the things that surrounds me. I am pretty much anti-showbiz and hates politics at any given time especially when it comes to the music and arts. I recently stumbled on an article about the president of Uruguay, José Mujica, described as “the world’s poorest president” who lives on an austere farm in the outskirts of the city where he and his wife cultivate chrysanthemums for sale, after having declined to live in the opulent presidential palace or use its staff. Now that is living simply. He even drives an old Volkswagen Beetle. Someday I will have a farm of my own with lots of trees. Maybe grow some flowers too.

“Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.” – Paul Graham

Living simply means allotting precious time for quietness and tranquility by communing with nature, hiking and backpacking, going for a walk or riding the bike or bus or train to nowhere. There is a creative purpose to physical and mind wandering, essential to unconscious processing.

Living simply will also mean learning from my dear parents, adopting some of their stronger qualities for survival where applicable and showing them how much I appreciate everything they have done for me. It seems to me that the whole idea of redeeming grace rests on simplicity.

However dejected I sometimes feel about the bad things that is happening in my life, in my surrounding environment and the world, whenever I feel misunderstood and isolated, I always try hard to create something positive, withdrawing from the world and getting lost in deep thoughts, bouncing back when necessary. This year, I plan to surprise myself and push past every limit imaginable to be able to live simply, where it’s thrilling to get up in the morning and gratifying to go to sleep at night.


3 Responses to “celebrating simplicity in 2014”

  1. Connie

    It’s always good to know how you want to live your life and in which direction you wish for it to go. Happy New Year to you and yours. Cheers!

  2. Aishah Alian

    This is incredibly inspiring, Clem. When I decided to move to a new country, I looked at the few bags I carried that had my things and I realized, all those years I have lived and the stuff I have accumulated has now been reduced to a few bags and there was a strong sense of calm that overwhelmed me.

    • Clementine

      We have the power to change our lives, at the flick of our finger. And this power is overwhelming. There was one time I nearly decided to drop everything, pack a small bag, bring my guitar, fly down south and live frugally in a beach front for a year and survive doing odd jobs. That would have been something.


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