Tag Archives: TSUKASA


Everything was ready. All that’s left for me to do was to get on that plane. But the airport was the farthest I could go. Even if the live that I was supposed to attend was finished already, it still hasn’t sunk in. I wasn’t seeing D’espairsRay live after all.

I arrived early at the airport. My flight was at 5AM but I was already on the way an hour past midnight. Yes, I was that excited. As I reached the check-in counter, my head was already in Tokyo. My daydreaming was interrupted by the staffer’s unexpected question, “Ma’am, what happened to your passport?” I was using the same passport since 2010 and this was the first time I was asked this question. Confused, I ask what she meant. The staffer explained that my passport looked detached and then “glued together”. She again asked “Did you do anything to your passport?” I told her “No! Of course not.” She consulted with her supervisor. She went back and said “I’m sorry Ma’am, we cannot check you in. Your passport is tampered.” My knees felt instantly weak but calmly I told her, “Miss, there must be a mistake. I just used that same passport upon my arrival yesterday from Singapore. I even have here my ticket from that flight.” She then asked me again “Did you really not do anything to your passport?” Again, I told her that no, I did not do anything with my passport. And so she want back to consult with her peers. When she faced me again she  said with a tone of finality “Sorry Ma’am. There’s really something wrong with your passport. If we let you through, we will be given a memo. We cannot check you in on this flight.” I left the counter in a daze.

To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing wrong with my passport. This year alone, I’ve used the very same passport to get in and out of 5 countries, including Japan just this March. Prior to my supposed MNL – NRT flight, the same passport got me through CGK – SNG last July 23 and then through SNG – CLK last July 26. How could it be that suddenly my passport is invalid?

I sought out airport security. They told me only immigration can deny me passage but they, the security personnel, cannot interfere. I went back to the airline staff and asked if there’s anyone I can speak with. Two staffers approached, one of which was a supervisor it seemed. Again I was questioned if I did something with my passport. I vehemently told them that I didn’t mess with my own passport and that I have no reason to do so. So they asked me if there ever was a time wherein my passport was not with me. I told them I can only think of two recent instances: when I submitted my passport at Indonesian immigration for my re-entry permit last April and when I left it at the Japanese Embassy in Jakarta for the processing of my Japan visa only a week ago. The supervisor then said it could be that somehow, someone managed to detached my passport pages from the cover and then tried to cover up the damage by just glueing them back together.

I examined my passport and it did seem that something was amiss. But by this time, I don’t know what to think anymore. I haven’t slept yet since the day before and my stress level was quadrupling every minute. The supervisor further explained that they don’t want to let me through because if Japan immigration sensed also that there’s something wrong with my passport, I would be deported. DEPORTED. Hearing that word literally brought me chills. I told the supervisor that if only for my peace of mind could we compare my passport with another person’s. She complied. Faced with two passports with my own looking very different, I knew then that there’s nothing else I could do.

I wanted to cry so badly but wouldn’t. There’s no reason for me to look and feel more pathetic that I really was already. After all that questioning, I just wanted to hear a comforting voice. I tried calling my family then the friend I was supposed to meet in Japan. I called them numerous times. No answer. It’s 4AM. Everyone else had the right to blissfully sleep. I called a friend based in Canada. Static. All I had was my inner voice telling me to keep it together.

It was a long journey back home from the airport. Four hours after my ordeal, I was finally able to cry.

I felt sick but I had a lot to do. I needed to cancel and rebook what I can. Most importantly, I need to apply for a new passport so I can get back to my job in Jakarta.

By nightfall, I developed a fever.

I was supposed to welcome back D’espairsRay but instead I was stuck on my sick bed nursing a fever, a head-splitting ache and a hollowness inside.

It was tough balancing between wanting to hear updates about what’s going on and shunning everything about the live once and for all.

I was also still confused regarding what happened to my passport. Numerous questions kept running through my head. Who would do such a thing? Was there malice involved? Like seriously, WHAT THE FUCK? Will I able to secure a passport in time for my return to Jakarta?

My only comfort was that I was with my whole family. They’ve been very supportive. But then again, they don’t get the whole picture. Still, because of them I can smile.

Within me, inner voice kept chanting to keep it together.

I find joy in the knowledge that the live went well. Hizumi is still not on top form but from what I heard, he was able to perform competently.

There was no announcement of another live but still I was so, so happy that D’espairsRay was able to stage a comeback even if only for just one night and via a 4-song set.

But at the same time, each mention of the live brings a sharper pang through my heart. It is torture and it probably would be for quite a while.

Listening to D’espairsRay had and will always be an emotional experience for me. After their so-called disbandment, there was the tinge of longing and regret – regret that I didn’t take the chance to see them live before. Then there was also the hope that they’ll get back together eventually and I will be there to witness it.

Now, I have more emotions to wrestle with: bitterness, sadness and shit tons more of what-ifs and could-have-beens. But just as D’espairsRay has taught me that it’s never in vain to keep on hoping, I look forward to learning more about believing in second chances.

This first attempt at reaching out to them didn’t turn out the way I pictured it to be. But maybe, just maybe…next time I’ll get my turn to cheer for them in person.

…though I go on I won’t forget; the miracle of a reunion with you.

reflecting my unravelling thoughts, the sky cried…


I wanted to be together with you forever…

– SQUALL (lyrics: Hizumi; music: Karyu / English translation: iro)


in memoriam

Today I remember how in 2008 I was in desperate need to satiate my jrock fix. My favorite band L’Arc~en~Ciel has just announced their hiatus and I needed a new band to fill in the void. While scouring the jrock section of the Ongaku Society forums, I stumbled upon the thread for this band that was described as “sounding like the old Dir en Grey”. I took a chance with one of the recommend songs, Grudge. I failed to note the Dir en Grey influence but my interest was indeed piqued. I listened to another song then another. I watched a clip of them performing Tatoeba kimi ga shindara live and was amazed how the vocalist seemed to sound even better than the recording. Then I switched to their performance of Screen during the Spiral Staircase tour. The lights were low, the sound even lower. The vocalist started his verse. The music built up. The vocalist hit a high note as the guitars screamed. The lights went up and I knew right then and there they would have me for life.

I remember listening to Squall for the first time and having goose bumps. I remember reading the lyrics for in vain and how I laughed when I got to the part with all the Xs.

I remembering finally being able to watch the complete performances from Spiral Staircase and being mesmerized. I’ve watched my favorite parts over and over again. Sometimes, I would play it in the background as I write. More often that not, I end up setting aside whatever it is that I’m doing and just glue my eyes to the screen. I have seen numerous recorded performances since then but those from Spiral Staircase would always be my favorite. If only Hizumi’s voice didn’t catch a snag during Squall then everything would have been perfect.

I remember writing my second attempt at writing a formal album review right after I got my own copy of their third full-length album, Redeemer and how it became the first of the many articles I would soon dedicate to them. I remember raving about MONSTERS and how my review found a kindred soul in another blogger’s own assessment of the album. That became my initiation to a network of bloggers whose common passion was jrock. I remember being dead-tired because it’s already past 3am and I’ve been analyzing data the whole day but then I saw gacktpause has just posted his live report. Naturally, the Sandman had to wait. I remember spending too much time backtracking notafanboy’s posts for anything and everything about D’espairsRay. I discovered her journal in my search for translated interviews. Lucky for me, her journal turned out to be a treasure throve for translations AND live reports.

And then there was that one time I messaged CDJapan on Twitter regarding the release date of MONSTERS. Lo and behold, I got a tweet from the band’s official account. The message was rather snobbish and it really bothered me. Toshi of CDJapan assured me that it was all just a translation error. Nevertheless, I messaged @despairs back asking whether it was just a bad day for them hence the rudeness. Whoever was managing it answered back with an apology and came up with the ludicrous excuse that s/he forgot to add a smiley to the first message. Yeah right. Like that would change anything.

I remember asking my friends if it’s sane to pay a huge chunk of my salary for a DVD. Every single one of them was against it. “But it was the 10th Anniversary live!”, I counter-opinioned. Plus it comes a shirt. A shirt! And a mini-photo book. And cellphone strap. And did I already mention that it comes with a shirt? Nevermind if the design looked like rainbow vomit safari.

Then one afternoon, I got shaken to the core when I read the news that D’espairsRay would be on an indefinite hiatus. The announcement said that Hizumi was very sick. I remember immediately tearing up. Our office manager, whose cubicle was near mine, saw me crying. I can still vividly recall the way her forehead crumpled as she tried to comprehend that I’m crying because  some strange band would be pausing activities. I remember that it suddenly rained very hard that afternoon and I remarked that the weather was sympathizing with me. The whole afternoon saw me in a daze. When I got home, I immediately put into practice everything I know about google-fu in search for a cure. I ended up not getting any sleep that night. I pored over dozens of articles and speed-read numerous reports. Then I condensed them into 1 post. The next day, I was so disoriented I ended up accidentally locking myself up all alone in the office. I literally had to wait for someone to come in the morning to set me free.

The day after my post got online, I noticed an unusual activity in my blog. Visitors were pouring in like mad. By mid-afternoon, the numbers have reached 3 digits already and that’s just for a single post. Come midnight, the count had exceeded the number of visitors I could ever hope for in a quarter of a year. I then found out that someone mentioned my post at the largest D’espairsRay community on Livejournal. I checked the thread and was rendered speechless. Two members of the community have translated parts of my post into Japanese and sent them to any available channel to D’espairsRay. Not a few mentioned that they too would do their own research. Everyone was thinking how to best show our support for the band during these trying times. The show of solidarity was just so overwhelming. At that moment, I was at my very proudest for being part of such a dedicated and unselfish fanbase.

During the hiatus, I did not go in search of another band to dedicate my attention. On the contrary, I sought the company of other mania. Twitter has become my refuge. And in it, I found people who share my longing. Together, we reminisce. As one, we look forward to Hizumi’s swift recovery and D’espairsRay’s triumphant return. I also found another proof that indeed, the world is flat. Sometimes, I do get bewildered when I realize that the people whom I’m discussing with the merits of Karyu’s method of baking a cake are scattered all over the globe.

Finally, I remember that just a few hours ago as I was about to attend an important project briefing, I saw a tweet bearing bad news. It contained just two sentences, 3 words and yet it felt that like a ton of bricks when it hit me. I went thru my meeting. Had dinner with a colleague. Did my grocery. Navigated thru the Metro traffic.When I got home, I dumped my things. Slumped on my bed and just let go of the tears I’ve been holding up for hours. There’s no triumphant return to expect. D’espairsRay is no longer coming back.

It’s again past 3am. D’espairsRay made me ditch the Sandman one more time. But then again, this could also be the very last. The last time I’m losing sleep for them, the last time I’m writing a post about them. To paraphrase Neruda, though this be the last pain that they made me suffer and these the last verses that I write for them. And yet, just as it was said in the very same poem: my soul is not satisfied that it had lost them.

Every fiber in me refuses to acknowledge that this is the end. I vow then to remember this day. I will recall all that was said and all the emotions it entailed. And then I would enter Yokohama Blitz and I would rock my heart out with the crowd as we all welcome back D’espairsRay, reunited.

of HIZUMI’s dilemma and Steven Tyler’s incredible human machine

PART 1: HIZUMI’s dilemma


“How many times did I shout your name in the storm? My voice’s drying out… I live because of you, so I believe…’close your eyes’. Therefore, this pain never heals…” – Infection, D’espairsRay

Considering the devastating news that has been released recently, the chorus of Infection seem to be a bit prophetic, won’t you agree? Here’s hoping though that the “this pain never heals” part won’t be real as well. Although come to think of it, the whole thing feels surreal. A lot, I’m sure are still in denial, but it is really of no use suppressing the truth any further: HIZUMI has vocal cord problems and as a consequence, D’espairsRay would be on an indefinite hiatus.

What makes it even more devastating is that in a span of barely a week, D’espairsRay was the THIRD to announce suspension of band activities due to the vocalist being sick:

Hearing about Jui and Isshi’s problems saddened me but it was the news about HIZUMI where I took the hardest blow. My first reaction was of course, shock. Then devastation (yes, this poor little fangirl shed some tears). Before finally, disappointment – with a tinge of indignation. But don’t mistake the latter two to be caused by the hiatus. On the contrary, I felt a little angry because it took them this long to finally go ahead and take a much needed break. THIS SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED A YEAR AND A HALF AGO, when HIZUMI’s condition was at its worst.

It was around April of last year when it was revealed that HIZUMI was having difficulties. D’espairsRay went on doing various lives and eventually released a critically-acclaimed album during the second half of this year. All seems to be well. The band is riding high on the crest of a major world tour and probably still nursing a hangover from celebrating 11 rockin’ years in the industry just a few days ago. Then suddenly- BAM! They let out that all this time HIZUMI has been suffering. “HIZUMI  has dealt with this rare throat condition for over a year, but the band’s busy touring and recording schedule hasn’t allowed him the time to fully undergo treatment,” the announcement revealed.

Let it be said that I have a higher level of respect bestowed to HIZUMI now for putting up a brave front these past few months. I won’t even attempt to fathom how difficult it must have been for him, physically and emotionally. Still, he gave it his best and I commend him for that. I salute his courage and determination but not his bullheadedness. The announcement further shared that at this point, “(they) have tried many treatments, but have not yet found one that has a high chance of success”. It went even as far as to ask fans for information regarding “promising treatment options, including those done overseas”. All of these indicate that HIZUMI’s condition is critical, even life altering. So my question now is: why the hell did they push themselves so hard?” Then again, that’s a stupid question to ask, right? Of course, they have to continue doing what they do best so everyone’s agenda can still be fulfilled. The band gets to do it for their fans while the record company gets their due. Well, bullshit. Look at to what that brought us all in. To think that they still want to continue with this year’s tour.

Odaijini, HIZUMI

If HIZUMI is really, really sick then he should take his rest as soon as possible. Not early next year as they originally want, not in a few month’s time but NOW! I mean, c’mon D’espairsRay. Please give us, your fans, more credit. Not hearing or seeing anything new from the band for a while would surely be a great void but if it would mean their well being then we would totally understand. WE’D RATHER MISS D’ESPAIRSRAY FOR A YEAR RATHER THAN TO LIVE IN CONSTANT THREAT that HIZUMI won’t be able to sing again, or that Karyu and ZERO cannot play their guitars anymore, or that TSUKASA have to let go of his drums. Bands take a hiatus for a myriad of reasons and theirs couldn’t be more valid. We get that. And we can live with that fact. Hopefully, so can D’espairsRay.

PART 2: Steven Tyler’s Incredible Human-machine

In the spirit of finding a ray of hope amidst despair, I did a bit of desk research on other singers afflicted with vocal chord related concerns.

Crude joke as it may be, HIZUMI, Jui and Isshi are actually in good company. My research has showed me that even the legendary Frank Sinatra had his career almost in jeopardy when his vocal chords were diagnosed with hemorrhaging.  Dame Julie Andrews of the Sound of Music fame is also another example. Her vocal chords were shattered because of a botched-up surgery to remove non-cancerous nodules. Examples that the jrockers would perhaps be more comfortable being associated with include Matt Tuck, vocalist of Welsh Metalcore quartet Bullet for My Valentine, singer Tony Kakko of Finnish melodic metallers SONATA ARCTICA and finally, THE Steven Tyler of legendary band Aerosmith.

As the name of HIZUMI’s actual condition is yet to be revealed, it’s hard to assume which of the abovementioned singers’ ordeal would match his. Based on their experiences though, HIZUMI best hope lies on a Dr. Steven Zeitels of the Center for Laryngeal Surgery and Voice Rehabilitation at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is associated with two ‘revolutionary’ treatments on vocal chord related conditions: polyethylene glycol injection and state of the art laser technology.

The first option, polyethylene glycol injection is still experimental so I’d rather focus on the high tech laser surgery.

In the midst of their “Rockin’ the Joint” tour, Aerosmith was forced to cancel the 20 remaining concerts as Steven Tyler was downed by vocal injury. To get back into the action quickly, he agreed to take part in an experimental surgery. Based on the report by the Wall Street Journal (as reposted by Aero Force One, an Aerosmith dedicated site),

“(Tyler) was treated with a pulsed potassium-titanyl-phosphate (KTP) laser, the latest and most promising procedure to come out of Massachusetts General’s voice center. Quick bursts of green laser light, lasting just 15 milliseconds, zapped Tyler’s broken blood vessel, sealing the vessel without touching it.

The procedure is sounding a positive note for more successful and resilient recoveries from vocal disorders like Tyler’s. It has saved the voices of at least 14 other singers since 2005, including the opera star Carol Vaness.”

The whole procedure was documented in a National Geographic show called Incredible Human Machine.

Below is an interview with Dr. Zeitels. Annoying female newscaster aside, it is very informative. I hope it could be of some help to HIZUMI, Isshi and Jui.