Back in 2019 I spent a few months going to a musical writing and performing workshop at PETA. My goal at the time was actually to learn to write musicals so I could write a Hamilton-esque musical but using a Filipino national hero as the subject. It would've been really fitting to use Jose Rizal, as the parallels are clear; both of them being known for their strong use of language in the name of effecting real change in the world in which they lived. However, I also went in with an open mind, knowing that not only would I learn a lot, but that I'd have to learn to be agreeable around other creators in a similar level or better than me. I didn't really know what to expect at the time, but by luck every one of my colleagues there were new to writing musicals, so it turned out to be an amazing time and truly one of the most edifying experiences of my life.
It also opened up some feelings that I never had the chance to deal with. Feelings of inadequacy, and alienation in my home land. The people I spent those few glorious months with were so open and inviting, and they showed me that I was okay. That those feelings, while lingering, were based in a very skewed view of the world around me. When I was in school, I'd get bullied often for the way I spoke and my tenuous grasp of Tagalog. That made me sink back further into myself, and I began to resent the language and put it aside and got better at speaking English instead. PETA reinvigorated in me a love for the language, and for my country and its heritage. The people there, student or teacher, slowly but surely allowed me to further my understanding, without judgement or belittlement. Instead of bullying me for the way I speak, they lightly pushed me in the right direction. I never felt scared to fail.
Which brings me to City. City is my final sendoff to these feelings. I wrote it immediately after the workshop, along with a few other songs. I wrote it at a point where I was in the process of letting go of these feelings, and I think that shows through. If you're in a similar spot, I hope you can take comfort in the fact that now isn't forever, and maybe this song can help you feel a little better.