Day 32: my years in madonna


This is for Jocelyn Cachuela Egbalic, my childhood idol and the ultimate representation of all the Madonnas in my life.


If I was asked how I learned to dance alone in my room in times of disorientation and existential angst, I would answer, “Madonna.”

Last week, I bought Madonna’s Celebration:  The Video Collection along with other dvds that I bought as Christmas gifts.  I hurriedly went home to plug it in my machine and watched it 2 minutes after I reached my building.  After Burning Up, the first video among 47 of them spicy stockpile of major hit songs, I was hauled out of my very lifeless world into her world of disco balls and serendipitous alignments.

I like MADONNA’s world.  It is a world of illustrious beauty in gracelessness.  It did not just speak of dance, inspiration and sex, it also materialized a revolution of sound and images plucked out of the world of the underfoot, the untidy, the subversive and the underrated – and they all landed on plain Earth successfully through her inimitable concept albums that have either annoyed the masses (and the Catholic church) or simply gassed the world for that matter, knowing that art, in its most artless form, is simply something you cannot put a cold shoulder on.  Like Madonna once said, “Love me or hate me but you can never ignore me,” .

True enough, 3 decades later, Celebration came, marking her splendid work from 1983 to 2009:  a pop icon who was once a struggling waitress at Dunkin’ Donuts, a multimillion businesswoman who came to New York City with only $35 dollars in her pocket in 1977 and a mother of two who used to dangle by her knees from the monkey bars, tugging her skirt up so that all the boys could see her briefs.

Born Madonna Louise Ciconne, in 1958, Madge was a straight A student, had the highest GPA in high school and had a scholarship at the University of Michigan.  She was smart.  And to this day, I am bewildered with the fact that she wore the whore outfit to supersize herself.  Sex did sell for Madonna and it made her a household name.  I believe that she is the modern-day Mary Magdalene, who became popular as a hooker but was, veritably, a prophet and a screaming acumen who spawned creative premise to intellectuals worldwide.  Madonna, in turn, was named by Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most successful female recording artist of all time.  The same woman who, back in late 70s, had to pose naked in a man’s magazine to put food on her very barren table.

The very first Madonna album that I ever bought was Like A Prayer. It was the summer after I graduated from high school.  I was listening to a lot of Guns and Roses that year and Paula Abdul was the biggest star in the macrocosmos.  Also I was in love with my best friend and could not tell the world about it lest I’d be hated for being, well, evil.  I was 16.  I was afraid. Coming out was in the least of my priorities.

I can still remember I bought this tape at National Bookstore in Manila after spending a very bad day being my father’s carry-the-boxes boy in one of his medical OBs.  I almost ate the plastic that covered it, using my teeth to uncover it, when I played it on my dad’s pick-up service truck from uber-excitement.  Ahh and then there she was singing the title track which, to this day, I still can’t figure out what it was all about.  Did it ever occur to you what Madonna wanted to convey in Like A Prayer?  I almost understood it years later when Tori Amos did her cover of Like A Prayer but its drift failed to befall on my investigative plain anyhow.  All I know is the fact that that summer, when everything in my world seemed to be bloodcurdling, Madonna becalmed my unrequited love as I listened to her on my way back to Zambales that day, in dad’s pick up and I danced to it too. 

” . . . Just like a prayer, your voice can take me there. Just like a muse to me, you are a mystery. Just like a dream, you are not what you seem. Just like a prayer, no choice, your voice can take me there.”

– Madonna / Like  A Prayer

True Blue is actually my favorite Madonna album, not because of its melodious assembly of songs but because this album was released in 1986, a time when I saw the early provocations of puberty ornamented as sexual attraction and learning how to trust friends more than your parents.  And one friend in particular, Jocelyn Egbalic, who did not just dress up like Madonna but also embodied the same vigor, talent and intensity of the 80s.  She was a version of her own iconic symmetry.  And most of the people in our very Catholic school either raised their eyebrows or prayed for her soul to go to heaven.  To everyone, she was a harlot.  To me, she was bravest soul that I luckily crossed paths with in my early years.  And like Madonna, she signified the divine slut for the sole purpose of being different.  She was my childhood idol!

Don’t try to run I can keep up with you
Nothing can stop me from tryin’, you’ve got to

Open your heart to me, baby
I’ll hold the lock and you hold the key
Open your heart to me, darlin’
I’ll give you love if you, you turn the key

–  Madonna / Open Your Heart

Joyce and I would sit in her father’s car, smoke cigarettes and talk for hours under the Zambales humidity, bottled Cokes and our sour tears of being young.  And being different.  And being misunderstood.  We had each other in those times when we both could not understand our very Catholic parents. One time, I decided to run away from home and I did, and Jocelyn, a supportive friend, gave me 10 pesos for bus fare.  I had an extra 10 for subsistence.  She was the perfect accomplice in my then-twisted adolescence.  Moreover, we used to dance to True Blue, in her room, jumping up and down her bed, under and above her mosquito net with no care in the world. We had our own little world and it was groovy.

I was in Hongkong when I grabbed a copy of Confessions On A Dance Floor, floored with an invitation to walk naked in the rain over the city’s rebellious dark clouds.  I was turning 32 and it was killing me by the minute.  I listened to Madonna’s new CD and realized that she was, at the time, turning 50.  I felt better knowing that I was NOT ALONE.

This CD evoked my repulsion to disco and calmed it to a phenomenal feat.  This was Madonna’s season of motherhood and the Kaballa, thus, its musicality paid tribute to the 70s disco fused with the different facets of maternology.  It was delicious.

Around this time, I was heavy with Jason Mraz, Tori Amos’ The Beekeeper and Fiona Apple’s Extraordinary Machine.  Confessions broke in like cold water into my angst-induced CD rack and rock-a-byed my sedate wonder with its streaming (and disco-lighted) collection of asianic stupor that blended well with my obscene recollection of who I was leaving Bangkok earlier that year and leaving good friends behind.  Or to put it bluntly, getting older by the minute !  And as I marched to Dubai to face a new breadth of cause and effect, Confessions kept me company and swept me off my feet.  Like a new, well-endowed lover, whose main agenda was to make you feel young all over again.  With that, I did not miss my tumultuous 20s after all.  I liked being in my 30s.

Vogue is my favorite Madonna song because it makes even the ugliest of us superstars.  I meant that in a good way, by the way.

I’m Breathless is a studio album by Madonna that was released alongside the movie, Dick Tracy, by which she played the provocative lounge singer, Breathless Mahoney. She was funny and horrable in that film I must admit, but through this album, where she procreated her adaptation of the 30s Big Band era, Madonna came out flawlessly and delivered her most stirring song of all:  Vogue.

This was also the time of The Triad.  Eldan, Eric and yours truly.  High school friends who, back in 1990, were college freshmen, sinewy, oily and experimenting on making a shit out of our good grades in high school and Chin Chan Tsu face cream.  Also, this was the time when we stumbled upon coming out to each other, reading proper gay literature and the addiction to Anne Rice.  Of course, with my sister Kit, the choreographer, we practiced Madonna’s dance steps in Vogue, in unison with late night banters of her Blond Ambition Tour, where we watched it in mono VHS tapes.  We were geeks to most of our friends back then but we loved it.  And we loved Madonna.  Somehow, she made us the superstars of our time.

All you need is your own imagination
So use it that’s what it’s for
Go inside, for your finest inspiration
Your dreams will open the door

It makes no difference if you’re black or white
If you’re a boy or a girl
If the music’s pumping, it will give you new life
You’re a SUPERSTAR, yes, that’s what you are, you know it

Come on, vogue.

–  Madonna / Vogue

“Everyone probably thinks that I’m a raving nymphomaniac, that I have an insatiable sexual appetite, when the truth is I’d rather read a book.”

– Madonna

When Ray Of Light was released back in 1998, it marked my second year in Saudi Arabia.  It was a time of being away from my family for the first time and Madonna came out of nowhere as a mother in her music.  It was oh so timely.  It was also the time when I was falling into the charm of independence.  And it was such a big deal.

Back then, in all my rushing superlative sequences of life, being 24 and out on my own, Madonna’s Ray of Light provided a channeling in my spirit that aired my techno-driven liberty to choose, to abstain and to indulge.  At this time, the late 90s, when computer games ruled the world, I was busy jotting down my budget for the week and making sure I was on top of everything.  Of course, being in my early 20s, I was also sleeping with the wrong people and obsessed with looking for that perfect relationship.  Busy being a tingod in my own bouncing shebang.

And I feel
Quicker than a ray of light
Then gone for
Someone else shall be there
Through the endless years

She’s got herself a universe

–  Madonna / Ray of Light

My years in Madonna did not really define my entire life but she was a good company.  And like Tori Amos, she has saved my life with her pontifications on individuality, dualities, impressions and making sure that I honor my life the way I want it. More than ever, she taught me to dance alone, lock myself inside my room, shake up the dead in me, and come out of the room anew and even more bewitching as I can be.

Madonna for life !!!

Grab a copy of Celebration: The Video Collection.  You’ll see.

Trivia:  Madonna’s Number One Songs from 1983 to 2009

1.  Like A Virgin

2.  Crazy For You

3.  Live To Tell

4.  Papa Don’t Preach

5.  Open Your Heart

6.  Who’s That Girl

7.  Like A Prayer

8.  Vogue

9.  Justify My Love

10. This Used To Be My Playground

11.  Take A Bow

12.  Music

13.  Hung Up

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