This page does not intend to critic John Roa’s songs nor give insights about it. Interpretations are taken contextually and purely for theological reflection.**
“No man is an island,” John Donne penned as he meditated about life. This is true in our reality and even in the Scriptures. As I ponder about this statement of Donne, John Roa’s songs helped me to reflect deeper on desiring for companionship, either a friend or a lover. A deep desire to find worth, completeness, and significance on someone’s eyes.
John Roa, also known as JRoa, started to be on public during Pilipinas Got Talent Season 4, in 2013. He also joined on Tawag ng Tanghalan in 2016. In the same year he became part of the Ex Battalion though he left after a year to pursue his solo career. In numbers, Roa has an average of 700 thousand monthly listeners on spotify and almost 400 thousand subscribers on youtube.
The Struggling Individual
Roa’s songs, prior to his AMGO album, deeply portray a person in pursuit of truth, unconditional love, comfort, companionship, and hope. These are all part of anyone’s struggle in life. We would always long to have a perfect life, a life with value, and pure happiness. This idea was strongly desired during the Enlightenment era where they proposed to progress on their utopia.
This is depicted from his song Byahe (2016). He said, “hawakan mo ang kamay ko…higpitan mo ang kapit sa aking kamay…hindi ka bibitawan saan man mapunta ang byahe nating dalawa,” which implies for assurance and security specially when he said, “Ako’y katabi mo palagi.” This is what we want. Having someone whom you are secured and assured that no matter what happens, that person will be by your side. Yet Roa included the word “basta” that makes it conditional to “magtiwala ka sa akin.” Is it easy to trust?
In reality it is not easy, as a finite person we would always struggle with our limitations. This is where Roa paints a person longing on so many things. First, longing for comfort in his Oks Lang (2018). “Ang gusto ko lang naman ay yakapin mo ako,” a person asking for comfort due to intense brokenness. With just one hug, it can cancel all the painful feelings that one is experiencing. To good to be true? but it is also what you desire.
Second, longing for truth. “Sabihin na ang totoo, alam kong hindi ako…,” penned in his Alam Ko (2019). Despite of knowing the false love from a person, he still wants the other person to reveal it first. This person still clings on this sad reality. The same in his Taguan (2018), even conscious about their mutual feelings yet they kept it to themselves, “kasi alam mo ba na alam ko nang may tinatago ka…,” he said.
Third, longing for love and worth. A person despite of having and manifesting limitations on love tries to find one’s value with other people. Our love, based on ourselves are finite and conditional. Ulit Ulit (2016) captures a very conditional manifestation of one’s love, “hindi na kita mahal dahil pa ulit-ulit na lang…” Though willing to restore, but the love has already been fading. On the other side, a person can be willing to wait for a long time. Why? Because the person’s world already rotates on that person to the point of saying, “Life is not worth living if I’m not by your side.” So the solution is to utter a groundless promise, “don’t forget I’m always here waiting,” Waiting (2019). With this character, a person has already identified one’s worth to someone else.
All of these struggles and deep desire of a person, if not met leads to a state of melancholy, depression, and exhausting feeling of insignificance. This is not a strange feeling for Roa in Lagi (2019) he said, “Inalis mo ang kaligayahan ko, pinatay mo ang liwanag ko,” continued describing this intense sorrow with physical manifestations, “nanginginig ang mga kamay at kumakabog ang puso ko…hirap na matulog, wala na sa hulog,” this foreshadows the culmination of our struggles. Why do we feel this? What is wrong with us?
Yes, there is something wrong with us. This present state of our life, having all the struggles, is all because of sin. We are fallen creature, corrupted by sin. A person can never attain the fullness of his or her contentment, one will always longs for something. Also, we cannot achieve to reach perfection, pure happiness, and genuine value just by ourselves. There must be someone greater than us, someone who is perfect and righteous that can solve all our struggles and fulfill all our longingness.
The Saving Individual
Yes, there is someone who can do that for us. Actually He has done it already. John Roa in his album AMGO implied this person. In Muli (2019) shows a person who longs for restoration with one’s relationship. Same in Natatangi (2019) he said, “kung saan-saan ko hinanap,” eager to search yet ends up failing, “uwi ko ay kabiguan.” But he knows that this person bears the real joy that cannot be found anywhere else, “ligaya na hindi kayang matumbasan ng ano man,” and love that is different from this world, “pagibig na ikaw lang ang natatanging may taglay.” Despite of the all the attempts, he then realized that the person he was looking for is actually not far from him. Before he even found the person, he has found him first, “yung matagal ko nang hanap ay matagal na rin pa lang na sa akin.”
In Roa’s lament in Andiyan (2019) he cries, “pasan ko ang mundo…dapat na bang sumuko…naliligaw, napapasigaw, nais nang bumitaw.” But this very person does not allow him to suffer and struggle alone, “pero hindi ka bumitaw…hindi ko na kailangan harapin ang bukas ng mag-isa, buti na lang at andiyan ka.” Who is this person who is willing to be with us always? Also in him can be found the real value of life, “tunay na halaga ng buhay,” is His love, “ang pagibig na nagbibigay ng himig.” This is the good news!
The person’s response when he saw “sandaling masilip ko,” realized, and “lingunin (in Natatangi),” was worship “alay ko ang aking tinig.” His encounter with this person gave him awe and wonder. His life has been transformed, his desires were fulfilled, and he has been comforted that someone shares with his struggles. Who is this? Who is this person who in Roa’s songs can be either a friend or a lover?
This person is revealed in the Holy Scriptures, the Bible. He is Jesus Christ. He is the Truth that we long for, the Way we seek when we are lost, and the Life that we desire (John 14:6). Christ offers his friendship, the kind of friend who is willing to die for you (John 15:13-15). Actually He has died already for you, to be restored and cleansed with your sins (John 3:16). He has loved you even when you were still corrupted, messy sinner (Romans 5:8). Yes all of us are sinners (Romans 3:10, 23) and we deserve this state of struggling in the present and future death (Romans 6:23). Yet He also offers Himself as our lover (1 John 4:7-8), a kind of love that is unconditional. To rescue us from sin (Galatians 1:4) and promised us to never be condemned (Romans 8:1).
Yes, God loves you with an everlasting and unfailing love (Jeremiah 3:1), He knows you (Psalm 139:1), and cares for you (Psalm 23). Come to Christ, He is your only living hope (1 Peter 1:3). I intended to put all these verses to tell you that these are true and real. His very name Emmanuel means God with us (Matthew 1:23). He will protect you no matter what and you can be assured that He will never let you perish (John 10:28-30).
Would you rather stay as an “struggling individual”, as mentioned above? or be with the “saving individual”, Christ who offers genuine friendship and eternal love? All you need is to repent on your sin, hate sin and believe that He will forgive and save you. What are you waiting for? Have faith in Him. Come, let us follow Christ! Amen.
** Songs that I’ve quoted and cited are from his own songs. I did not include songs he collaborated with groups or other individuals. It was intentional to make a more accurate reflection.