Joel Tangunan - My Right Hand’s Notes

The Music of My Right Hand's Notes

My greatest happiness in life does not depend on the condition of my life in which chance has placed me. When I was 12 years old, I started to have the eagerness to learn how to play the piano. I’ve learned the basic from my late foster mom who was so persisted to teach me, maybe because she saw some potential in me. I was so frustrated at that time because at the moment my right hand touched the surface of the piano and pressed every note of the most popular songs that my ears wanted to hear me playing, my right hand was in pain because of its tenderness and twisted structure and so the chords were sounded broken. Every note wasn’t on its right place, as my disabled right hand was painfully trying to play even the simple do re mi. Slowly, I was losing the fondness to learn.

My mom stopped encouraging me when I was already refusing her every time she would call me in front of our old piano to teach me. I never played piano again after I’ve learned that I can’t. But I hear a particular tune that keeps on playing in my sleepless nights, so one day, after a long while, I found myself in front of that old piano, trying to capture that music inside me, continuously annoying and burning me to explode it, and while playing every note painfully, it led me to write my very first composition entitled KAPANSANAN (disability) and the lyrics said:

Narito ako, isinilang sa mundo

May kapansanan sa daigdig na magulo

Masdan mo ako at huwag kahabagan

Ang mundo ko’y kaka-iba sayo kaibigan

Mundong kay ganda sa aking paningin

Walang masama at hindi rin madilim

Pagkat ako’y nilikha upang ipakita

Na ang kapansanan ay may kasagutan


Kapansanan ko’y walang pagkaka-iba

Sayo kaibigan, ito’y katawan lamang na

Kayang pag-ingatan

Malinis na puso, diwa at gawa

Tanging yon lamang ang siyang kailangan.

Since then, I never stopped playing piano and writing songs.

As a handicap and a songwriter, broken chords are the melodies of my life’s story, full of notes and sufferings but it’s beautiful to tell and hear. They all created a perfect harmony in my life to express that disability is not a sign of having a lifeless life and not a measurement of a frail being but it’s just like a song to be sang with full of love and gratefulness. I used to hate this very flabby right hand of mine because it manifests my defectiveness as disabled person but when I found the reason why I’m so blessed with it, it became my right hand in building a life with my wife.

The music of my right hand’s notes is my way of living a simple life. Music is my life and so my right flabby hand. They are my great gift from above. The fusion of these two in me creates a big way for me to harmonize anguish and bliss into one direction of a beautiful melody. They both help me bring home the dried fish, although not the bacon, but it’s better than nothing. Now that I am living a life as a married man, definitely, responsibility is attached to it as a given task to do of a husband to his wife and family in sustaining a living as the usual. My wife deeply understands my situation and she doesn’t force me to find myself a job for our future, but I tried it. I applied as a call center agent in several companies in Manila and since I’m forever confined in my wheelchair, my body cannot comply with the everyday routine of being a worker. So now I’m a small time songwriter, doing a job at my own place. I do accept personalized wedding, graduation, birthday and anniversary songs or even jingle for any kinds of ads. I’m telling you this true story of my life because my right hand continues to write songs with my heart.

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