It comes at the end

BRIEF HISTORIES - Don Jaucian (The Philippine Star) - September 4, 2015 - 10:00am

There is no trace of vulnerability in Donnalyn Bartolome’s Happy Break-Up, only steely resolve.

The song pans out as a brief primer on a relationship that’s gone sour, mostly through the cyclic hateship-loveship that besets any couple — something that, as she hints at the beginning of the song, has been going on forever (“Nakakapagod isipin na wala na naman tayong dalawa”).

The oxymoron that is the song’s title should initially clue you in on what Bartolome could be singing about.

It’s either they part ways on good terms or that she can, at last, heave a sigh of relief now that it’s over. But surprisingly, the song unravels a well-rounded perspective on how couples should work out their differences.

In this case, Bartolome decides to amicably put an end to their misery, laying out the exasperating ills that they have brought upon each other (“Pareho tayong may maling nagawa,” she assures her lover, distributing the blame evenly) to ground her reasons for leaving.

This is a satisfying end for her because she’s finally free from all the weight of all the trouble she’s been put through, but she also supposes that it might not be taken well by her soon-to -be ex (“Mahal kita pero napapagod din ako”). She takes the reins here since it seems the other is too wrapped up in emotions to pick himself up.

With just a parcel of the relationship on view, it’s hard not to speculate on the circumstances that led to this. There seems to be no trace of a third party or physical abuse on her arguments but mostly just emotional exhaustion.

Perhaps there are petty arguments that have blown out of proportion, perhaps there have been resentments that remained bottled up, or perhaps they are just not meant for each other, no matter how hard they try to make things work.

Letting time pass

“You let time pass. That’s the cure. You survive the days. You float like a rabid ghost through the weeks,” Cheryl Strayed (as The Awl’s Sugar) writes back to a query on how to survive a break-up. “You cry and wallow and lament and scratch your way back up through the months. And then one day you find yourself alone on a bench in the sun and you close your eyes and lean your head back and you realize you’re okay.”

Bartolome easily dismisses these contentions because she’s the one who’s leaving. At the end of all things, even for someone who thinks they’re leaving with a good heart, there’s no such thing as a “happy break-up.”

In the end, the song achieves a defining sense of clarity, to the point that it turns over the devastating trappings of breakups on their head by assigning it a celebratory element, even playfully using wordplay and timing (“Hindi na tayo...Happy break-up!) to convey the most important reason why their relationship should end.

The song is endearingly refreshing on this stance. While most love songs are injected with the sugary promise of beginnings and bliss, Happy Break-Up is mature enough to assert that passion has an expiry, that martyrdom is a one-way ticket to self-destruction, and that love, though seemingly unconditional, comes with its own demons.

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Tweet the author @donutjaucian.

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