Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ibong walang layang lumipad

I never thought I'd ever do this, but I would like to echo Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's commendable call to Myanmar to




Now that we're at it, maybe Arroyo could also do something to stop the disappearances and murder of members of leftist organizations, including students, in her own turf, because everybody's born free, has a right to live, and has a right to speak his or her mind on things he or she is passionate about. HOY! ANO BA?!

Know more about Aung San Suu Kyi: ;

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Elliot Yamin has songs for you (9/22/07)

I caught Elliot Yamin's show last Saturday at the Glorietta. Elliot remains my favorite male American Idol finalist, simply because he can sing! He has a very good command of his voice, and he is a white boy who's got soul. In fact, he reminds me of a young Stevie Wonder. I was surprised to find a jampacked Glorietta activity area. So many people turned out that there were no more seat tickets when I got there.

Elliot did an acoustic set. He went through songs from his debut album, to the defeaning screams of the audience. When he finally did his current single, and his signature American Idol song "A Song For You," the screams got even louder. Seeing Elliot sing is a wonder. You just know that he is a sincere guy singing all these heartfelt songs, an ordinary guy who just got lucky to be able to do and get paid for what he loves doing. The last note of his version of "A Song For You" always puts a lump in my throat. Magaling.

After the show was the "meet & greet" session. There were actually three kinds of tickets for the free show (first come-first served). One ticket entitles you to just watch the show in the enclosed area. The second one entitles you to the show and a picture with Elliot, but you may not use your own camera; there was an official photographer (probably not free). The third one entitles you to the show and the opportunity to have your CD autographed, but no photos. Pretty bizarre isn't it? What kind of crap is this? Guys come here, do some shows, may not come back, people buy the CDs, people line up, and the suits take over and make things weird for everybody. It's crazy, frustrating, an ABOMINATION and PROSTITUTION of the art of music!

(Shet, sana pala inagahan ko para nakakuha ako ng ticket.)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Night out: RJTV Bar (9/20/07)

RJ??!? I never thought I'll ever step inside Ramon Jacinto's joint. The mere mention of those two letters conjures images of matronas and senior citizens reliving their youth by dancing the twist to the music of Manila's most well-known covers band, seen in a blurry cable channel that you just sort of stumble upon late nights when nothing's on.

I was feeling a bit under the weather, but I just felt I had to drag my butt to Makati on a Thursday evening precisely to go to RJ, because who in his right mind would pass up the chance to witness the killer double-bill of The Jerks and Binky Lampano. When I read over the internet about this rare match of Pinoy rock legends, I knew only a nuclear holocaust (or an Eraserheads reunion show perhaps?) could keep me from going.

I've never seen Binky Lampano perform live. I've read a lot about him though, especially in the 90s. He used to front the band Deans December in the late 80s. I have a tape of his early 90s album "I Read The News." At that time, I think I saw him perform his remake of "Hallelujah I Love Her So" in some TV show. I liked that song which made me buy the tape. Some of his songs also made it to a bunch of compilations, most notably the now-classic but long out-of-print "10 of Another Kind," which I have on CD (a vinyl copy of this was once offered on eBay for P10,000??!!?). Binky now fronts the Lampano Alley, and they have an independently-released CD I've yet to listen to. He is said to be going to the U.S. soon, so after the night's gig, it will be quite a while before Manila gets to see Mr. Lampano perform again.

The Jerks have been heralded as Manila's best live band for the longest time. After a brief stint with Lokal Brown, Chikoy Pura and company became the band-in-residence of Mayric's and 70's Bistro. Their songs, like "Reklamo ng Reklamo," "Sayaw Sa Bubog," and "Rage" are now considered classics, but the band remains no more than underground icons, which is a pity. Save for a live album and a single mainstream-released CD, both long out-of-print, their songs have not reached enough mainstream ears, unless they went to the clubs (or have a Multiply account, thank goodness).

But the band will always have a special place in my memories. In 1995 (December 8 to be exact, mga 9pm), The Jerks were the opening act to the Eraserheads during the now-legendary launch of the Cutterpillow album at the UP Sunken Garden. I'd just turned 19 and it was actually my first real rock concert. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people. Probably hundreds more trying to get inside the enclosed space. And there were The Jerks. When they ripped through "Mad Mathematical World" with a sea of people responding, it was like seeing God. They added euphoria to an already euphoric event. Twelve years after the event, that moment with The Jerks is still what I remember most about it.

The night had a lot of promise. I couldn't wait for these rock stalwarts to perform. Pero mamaya pa yun.

Turned out, RJTV Bar also serves as the studio for the cable talk show of Jojo Alejar. Seeing Jojo is a bizarre experience. That hair. That face. That suit. That attitude. It's as if the last 15 years did not happen. What was he busy with all these years, being cryogenically frozen? Like Aga Muhlach, the guy hasn't aged a bit. Ang pucha mas mukha pang bata kesa sa 'kin. There's no justice. I used to see him often in Congress when I was still with Namfrel. I think he was an assistant to a congressman or something. But it's pretty clear that Jojo Alejar is back in showbiz. He even has a music video.

The show is called Jojo A...All The Way. You might have accidentally stumbled upon it while channel surfing one particularly slow evening. Ano ba 'tong channel na 'to na sobrang labo? The show is clearly inspired by Letterman, and definitely Kuya Germs.

You know it's going to be a crazy night when the host opens the show with his back to the camera, shaking his butt to the tune of SexyBack. Jojo then launced into his spiel, as if he's talking to an auditorium full of people (there were like 20 of us, more than half of which were staff). The jokes came fast and promptly failed. Cue canned laughter! The first guest was a nine year old kid from the Center for Pop Music who was made up to look like a starlet. Who are this kid's parents? The second guest was a guy who sang a plakado rock ballad. Were more talented people booked that night? The third guest was an R&B band who did a faithful version of "Time Will Reveal." Hmm...puwede na,!

Honestly, I would have preferred if Jojo Alejar did everything himself. He can be quite funny actually, if he sticks to his adlibs and not to the script. How about a one-man show where all Jojo would do is dance, sing, yak, and make tsika to Kuya Germas, with the Bellestar Dancers thrown in? Now that's entertainment!

On with the real show! The event was sponsored by Underground Radio (UR) 105.9. The host for the evening was no less than Howlin' Dave himself (quick, Google him and know more about Pinoy rock history). The first band was Reckless Imprudence, a bluesy band who are
supposedly lawyers by day. Who would not want to sing the blues if your source of living sometimes entails defending crooks?

Binky Lampano and the Lampano Alley came on next. Now here's another guy who seems to have spent the last few years being cryogenically frozen. He looks so young, younger than his pictures from 15 years ago. Is there a fountain of youth somewhere behind 70's Bistro? I was hoping Binky would sing "Hallelujah I Love Her So" and "Kuwentong Looban," but his repertoire consisted mainly of blues covers. When he sang "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out," he did it sans microphone, as if he's talking directly to the audience. It takes a lot of skill to sing the blues. The key to being an effective blues singer is sincerity. And you can't be sincere if you haven't experienced what you're singing about. Binky Lampano is a showman more than skilled enough to sing the blues, and Lampano Alley with their wicked guitars and bass are more than worthy enough to lend support. I like the blues. I think it's the sound of pain enunciated beautifully. I don't mind listening to the blues as long as people like Binky are the ones doing it.

Okay, but maybe not too much. When The Jerks launched into their set, it was pretty clear to me that yes, this is a blues night, and no, I might not get to see The Jerks really rock out as I had hoped. In the first place, this was RJ. The walls are covered with Elvis and Beatles pictures. The crowd was almost exclusively middle-aged guys, some in barongs and suits. (And the place is expensive. Entrance fee was P200 without drinks, and beer costs a hundred bucks! Who was their supplier, Makati Shang?)

"I'm so overdressed tonight," said the similarly baby-faced Chikoy Pura, looking quite formal in his black jacket over long-sleeved shirt. It was a less than fiery set as I had expected. The Jerks took requests from the audience, and finally did some originals mid-set. Somebody at the back kept shouting "Rage! C'mon Chikoy!" but the song won't come up till the very end. Binky Lampano joined them for Paul Simon's "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" and Lennon's "Jealous Guy." Ramon Jacinto himself joined The Jerks for a number. The band also did Stevie Wonder's "Superstition," a Steely Dan, and a bunch of other bluesy tunes. I requested for "Mad Mathematical World," writing it on a tissue paper, but they did not sing it.

It was already 1:30 am and I was itching to go home. I just knew that I'd feel crap at work the next day if I stay one more minute. And then this old-ish mustachioed guy took over the reins from Chikoy. His name was Rick, and with his performance, I wish I could have tried to know more about him. He first did Bobby Gonzales' "Hahabol-Habol" with the band, which made two couples get up and dance (uh-oh). But after that, unexpectedly, he blazed through Jimi Hendrix's "Star-Spangled Banner," a truly face-melting number that made everybody drop the expensive cheese sticks, shut the fuck up for once, and watch with awe. It was a performance of great technical skill. He then segued into "Purple Haze," that only cemented his performance as the highlight of the evening for me.

Whoa. Heavy. I'll probably not go back to RJ again. Nabutas ang bulsa ko. But I had a jolly old good time, and in the end it was worth it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Nights out: Penguin Cafe (9/14-15/07)

So this is Penguin Cafe, I said to myself as I enter the place, a relatively nondescript venue as seen outside. It stands in an almost neglected corner of Remedios Circle in Malate, far from the screaming neon lights of the R&B clubs, bars, the Korean restaurants, inns, spas, and grocery

It's now known as Rockola Cafe (on the internet at least; I didn't notice any signage that said so), but it will always and forever be Penguin Cafe. I spent childhood in the 80s seeing on TV and reading about artists and musicians plugging their shows in Penguin. In the 90s, I read articles about artists and musicians reminiscing about their heydays
in Penguin. Indeed, Penguin Cafe is more than just a rock joint. It is an institution regarded as spiritual home by its former denizens in the 80s. It was the hangout of not just artists and musicians during the waning moments of the Marcos era, but also of reporters, foreign correspondents, poets, activists, socialites, and other intellectuals and bohemians of the time. It's contemporary, Cafe Adriatico, still stands right across the Remedios Circle, but I'm not sure if it attracts a new generation of, well, cool people, and not just nostalgists reminiscing about the good old days and trying to relive a past long gone.

Penguin looks like it has been around. The doors, the windows, the tiled floors are from another
era. I read that the marble-top tables were the same ones used ever since it opened. Paintings
hang on the walls and sculptures adorn the corners. Its bygone look gives it character and charm
that antiseptic new clubs simply lack. The atmosphere is pretty laid back and not pretentious.
The dimly lit porch is the smoking section where people lounge
around in sofas, chairs and tables. The airconditioned area is where the bands perform, and where people can actually see
the food they're eating. The whole place feels like the old house of a cool uncle who likes to collect vintage stuff. It was love at first sight. If this place is near my home, I'll probably be a regular.

The crowd is, for lack of a better term, "quality." Friday night, activists were at one table, academics in another, expats, a respected character actor with his Spanish wife at the bar, and the rockers (those would be the guys in black) are the smart types, not the kumag types who say "astig" and "lupit" a lot sabay devil horns.

I made the trek to Malate last Friday to catch a performance by the Makiling Ensemble (or simply Makiling as they want to be known now). The show was part of their 10th anniversary bar tour. How can I describe their music in a few words? I can't. Their music has so many elements: tribal music, Arab, Latin American, country, and the violin sometimes lend the music a distinctive East Asian feel. And those who think you can't play the blues with the hegalong should watch them live. Makiling's music is a truly global stew spiced up with traditional Filipino music. To see and hear is to believe.

I left Penguin towards the end of their second set, with the intention of coming back the following night to catch Kadangyan.

Surprise, surprise. When I reached the entrance the following night, suddenly it was the earth-shaking double bill of Kadangyan and Pinikpikan. I knew Pinikpikan was not supposed to play that night. Having seen both bands live before, to say that I was thrilled would be an understatement. I expected to be blown away, but not like this.

The opening band was Sruvaleh, a member of the Republika ng Musika collective like Kadangyan and Makiling. Their music is largely a djembe and guitar affair. I thought their set was too short though. I hope I could catch them in a full-length performance soon.

The next band was Kadangyan. As they were warming up, a group, no, a contingent, of Americans (Peace Corps volunteers?) came in and flocked around the band while drinking their beers, effectively blocking the view of those who were seated (read: including me), with their "dance" "moves." They basically stayed there forever until the end of Pinikpikan's performance. It ruined the experience a little bit. I just hope that people when they come to bars they don't hog the floor because they're not the only ones there. It's not a private function. And I'm sure the musicians would have felt happier seeing brown faces dancing to their music, instead of them being relegated to the back of the room for lack of space.

The music of Kadangyan is like the sound of a hundred elephants thundering across the forest to the beat of tribal drums, with lyrics I couldn't understand because they're not in Tagalog. Of course the first thing you notice when you see the band live is their look, which will not make them look out of place in Mel Gibson's Apocalypto. That is why I was surprised to discover the band, especially tattooed vocalist Bhava Mitra, to be quite hilarious. He cracked jokes in between songs that made the audience laughed. He thanked some of the band's sponsors, Dame guitars for their gear, another for their other instruments, "Kadangyan pawnshop" for their bling, and he asked the audience if anyone could sponsor their shirts, because they don't have.

Pinikpikan came last, with the blistering "Kahimanawari" promising another sweaty live set filled with dancing and clapping. At this point, I lost my sanity and just went with the flow. Couldn't help but get up and jump around to the sound of those djembes and drums, guitars and bass, gangsas and other percs, and Carol Bello's commanding voice. I'd have to put it a notch lower though than their performance in Saguijo a couple of weeks ago, when the band really ripped through it and it was obvious that they thoroughly enjoyed it. Hay naku. There was even one of these Americans who insisted on playing the djembe with the band. Sammy Asuncion looked annoyed, but the guy was too into his percussing that he didn't notice na mukha siyang tanga because he wasn't playing in sync with the band. Jizzes!

Anyway, it was another wild night with Manila's best live act. Kailan kaya mauulit?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Day 3 - The 1st International Silent Film Festival (9/13/07)

Unfortunately, due to heavy rains and the traffic gridlock that automatically follows in the streets of Manila, I arrived late for the screening of Buntaro Futagawa's 1925 "Orochi" (The Monster Serpent). I therefore could not write an objective review of the film. I hate being late, especially for a movie. Hay naku. Fyucha.

Anyway, the movie supposedly "depicts the trials and tribulations of Heizaburo Kuritomi, whose troubles stem from his love with two beautiful women of which he cannot convince either that he is a good man. He then becomes a killer trying to save one of them from a criminal who had rescued him subsequently after his escape in prison. The film is one of the few silent chambara-samurai warrior picture films to survive in relatively complete form at this point in time." Of course I didn't know that (kasi nga I was late! Aaaargh!) as I sat there while images passed through my glazed eyes and went over my head. I could not even identify who the protagonist was at first. For some reason, the silent film has English subtitles, as if there's an imaginary, all-knowing narrator telling people what's happening onscreen, even the thoughts of the characters. A great silent film, in my opinion, doesn't need narrations or subtitles (unless they're for the intertitles). That's why I love silent films: they had no choice but to tell the story visually, without sound effects or dialogue. They were responsible for some of the most powerful and poetic images in cinema history.

The band that provided the live score was the Makiling Ensemble, and they did a great job with the chanting, the violin playing, guitar plucking, and, um, percussing. Hard to believe that they did not have enough preparation for it. The looks on their faces towards the end of the movie suggested relief that it was over, and pride as the audience applauded several times. (Read their blog about the event HERE).

I'm looking forward to next year's silent film fest. I hope they could show more German silent masterpieces like Der Nibelungen, perhaps a Russian classic, or Carl Theodor Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc, which in my opinion boasts the best performance ever by an actress (Maria Falconetti).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Day 2 - The 1st International Silent Film Festival (9/10/07)

The second day of the Festival featured Spain's "El Sexto Sentido" directed by Nestor Sobrevila. In it, an outgoing guy named Carlos advised his gloomy friend Leon to see an inventor named Kamus to cure him of his pessimism. Leon has just given his girlfriend Carmen, a vaudeville dancer, an engagement ring, which she swore never to take off her finger. Carmen lives with her father, an old guy who dreams of watching bullfights but never had the money to do so. Carmen sold the ring so that she could give her father some money.

So far so melodramatic.

Turns out that Kamus has invented a movie camera, which according to him captures real life better than literature, and that it never lies. Kamus proceeded to show Leon street scenes of Madrid, essentially a documentary within the movie. This part jumps out of the screen as its style is totally different from the melodrama that has unfolded so far. It recalls Jean Vigo's "A Propos de Nice" from 1930, but El Sexto Sentido is actually a year older than that. From that point on it was back to melodrama, as one of the scenes filmed by Kamus showed Carmen giving money to an older man. Leon thought Carmen was having an affair, so he told his friend Carlos about it. Confusion ensued and bad consequences followed.

More than anything, the movie shows that as early as the 1920's, questions have already been raised about the credibility of film as a medium for capturing life. For this reason, I wonder why this movie is relatively obscure. I've read somewhere that it was considered a lost film until a copy of it was found. Maybe in the future more people will rediscover this film. It's not a masterpiece, but it can be considered a lost gem.

The music for the night was provided by Wahijuara, an 8-piece band composed of guys from the UP College of Music. They did a great job. Their musical score was a melange of jazz, flamenco, Henry Mancini circa Peter Gunn, with a dash of Lawrence of Arabia thrown in. They managed to make certain scenes more interesting. All in all, it was another good night at the cinema.

The conclusion of the Festival will be on Thursday, September 13, 8pm at the Greenbelt 3, with Japan's "Orochi" (A Monster Serpent). Music by the Makiling Ensemble.

As charged


Saturday, September 8, 2007

Night out: mag:net Cafe Katipunan (9/07/07)

I thought mag:net Cafe in Katipunan was a little too sleek for me. Downstairs, the walls are painted white, where they sell paintings that cost P160,000.00 each. Upstairs, the ambiance is more Makati restaurant than a rock joint. But I spotted Romeo Lee with a bunch of guys drinking wine, so I guess I was in familiar territory.

I made the trek to Quezon City to catch a gig by the Republika ng Musika collective. In case you haven't noticed, something is brewing in the Pinoy rock music scene. Ethnic music, or world music, is making inroads to people's consciousness once more. I'm not talking about activists or environmentalists, the usual local followers of this subgenre, but the average rock fan. Kadangyan, that band from Cebu with the edgy Igorot get-up and tattoos and edgier music, is a Philippine finalist for the World Battle of the Bands, and are gaining more and more followers. Makiling Ensemble, who are celebrating their 10th year, are still making notable music. And I've already written about how Pinikpikan are still able to make people dance their assess of, as if in trance.

Republika ng Musika is a collective of bands whose purpose is to preserve our traditional culture through rocking. Getting together is a very brilliant idea. It brings to mind the grunge movement of the 90s, and the Motown sound of the 60s. When artists with similar vision and mission and more or less similar sound get together, then they start a movement. A movement, as opposed to being a band trying to change the world alone, is stronger, more influential, and more capable of making people take notice, and perhaps make kids take up those traditional musical instruments and make the same type of music. When Nirvana blew up in the early 90s, they brought with them the whole Seattle gang, and people started buying Fender Stratocasters, Doc Martens, flannel, and boatloads of CDs. In a perfect world, if Kadangyan blows up, you'll be able to buy hegalongs and djembes in Raon.

The first band that played that night was Syalam. Syalam's sound has elements of funk that make them distinguishable from the other Republika bands. Their lyrics are tibak, but I dare you to name a funky tibak band. Can't remember any. In my opinion they are still a bit raw, but their potential is huge.

Talahib recalls those sturdy Pinoy bands in the 70s whose music was tinged with psychedelia, bands like Asin and later Ang Grupong Pendong. But that's actually a good thing. I see Talahib as continuing the tradition started by those bands. I am curious to know if in the future, Talahib could make songs that will also be remembered for ages like those aforementioned bands.

Unitiima rocked. It was their first time to play as part of Republika ng Musika, but I've seen them before as part of the 3rd Backdoor Ventures Arts and Music Festival held in Megamall a few weeks back. In that festival, more than a hundred people saw them perform. In mag:net, only a handful, but the energy level was the same. There is a sense of urgency in their music that sets them apart from the other bands. I love their song, "Sayaw." You'll love it too if you hear it. And that samba whistle is so funky it could make your knees weak.

The last band was Lakbay Lahi. They also performed at the Festival, but it was only now that I realized that they're essentially an instrumental band. But what wonderful music they play. Honestly, no human voice is needed to convey their message. Their instruments -- hegalong, bass, djembes, and a host of other indigenous musical instruments -- seem to speak to one another, and the result was heavenly most of the time. It's music for dancing and for feeling uplifted. There was a particular piece I really liked. It was the one wherein their dancer acts as if she's making a baby fall asleep. I couldn't shake it off my head.

I did not listen to most Filipino bands after 1999. I felt Philippine rock music has become stagnant creatively (with the notable exception of bands like the Radioactive Sago Project and Junior Kilat). Yes, there are so much more Pinoy bands now than in the 90s, but I miss the diversity of sound I heard in the last decade. In the 90s, almost each band sounded different. The Eraserheads had their sound. So did Yano. And the Youth. And Wolfgang. Put3Ska. Sugar Hiccup. Tropical Depression. So many others. After the 90s, the guitar bands started to sound same-y. Many seem to drink from the same tits that nourished the Eraserheads. The cutesy kanto boy lyrics, the nonchalance, but everybody knows they have been done before, and better. Bands started to have common members. Could it be the reason why they started to sound the same? Bands started having too many product endorsements. They started looking like they go on spa treatments. They now look like call center agents, or is it the other way around? Most bands nowadays get labeled "astig" (or asteeeeg, or lupeeeet), but for me, you're not really astig enough if you can't bring anything new or fresh to the table. I miss the innocence of 90s Pinoy rock, when bands just cared about having a good night's gig, they just cared about their music, and the possibilities were endless. Is it just me or is it time for a major sea change?

These new breed of Pinoy ethnic rock bands should be among those who will usher in the change. They are making me listen to Pinoy rock once more. These bands don't belong in mag:net. They don't belong in any small club in Manila. They belong in a bigger stage, where more people can fully appreciate the breadth of their artistry and their pride in our heritage, yes, our heritage. So how could YOU, whoever you are, reading this either in Blogger or Multiply or in a forwarded e-mail, help make this possible?

  • Attend their gigs. It will mean so much to the bands when they feel that they are appreciated. It will make them want to go on making music. Isn't that what they should be doing? These bands actually have websites where you could get their gig schedules:

  • Buy their independently-released CDs. But guys in the bands, it would really help if you tell people where they can be bought. And it would really be fine if you could set up a table where you can sell your stuff every time you have a gig. If the audience liked what they heard, they'll buy your CD.
  • After watching them live and listening to their music, tell people about them. Blog about them. Invite friends to their gigs. If you have connections with the print media, or radio or TV, then try to work out giving them exposure. They deserve it, and the audience will all be the better for it.

Mabuhay ang musikang Pilipino. It's a cliche, I know, but in this case, I mean it.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Day 1 - The 1st International Silent Film Festival (9/04/07)

If I'm not mistaken, this is already the third consecutive year that a silent film festival is being held in Manila. In the past two years, it was mounted by the Goethe Institut. Germany produced majority of the world's most well-known silent films this side of Chaplin, Keaton, and D.W. Griffith, especially works by Fritz Lang and F.W. Murnau during the German expressionist era in the 1920s, including Metropolis, Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Sunrise, Nibelungen, and Dr. Mabuse, to name a few.

The film festival works like this: they show the movie, a live band provides the soundtrack. I have the fondest memories of the past film fests. During the first one, they showed Lang's Metropolis, soundtracked by a techno band called Rubber Inc. It was a very thrilling experience because the music and the futuristic images of the movie truly suited each other. I thought it was perfect. I almost forgot. Even before that first film fest, I attended a screening of Murnau's Faust at the CCP, with the live music provided by a youth orchestra. That, too, was perfect, even though there was a slight mix-up with the reels, the musicians lost their cues, and we could hear the technicians cursing at each other in the projection room.

The 2007 edition is being mounted at the Greenbelt 3 Cinema 2 not just by the Goethe Institut, but also by the Instituto Cervantes and the Japan Foundation, with one film each.

The film for the night was Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (The Adventures of Prince Achmed), a 1926 animated (!) film created by Lotte Reiniger. The brochure read: "The entire film is animated using the silhouette technique, which employs movable cardboard and metal cutouts posed in front of illuminated sheets of glass. Lotte Reiniger's masterpiece took three years to make and is the oldest surviving feature-length animated film."

Wow. It was truly a great piece of work. 1926?! Which makes it a year older than Metropolis, but it has none of that film's creaky spots and sub-themes. The film looked fresh and utterly contemporary. The animation looks like the bastard child of Javanese shadow puppets and A Nightmare Before Christmas, but art deco. The images looked cool and the animation fluid (see stills below). And for the record, before Satan had sex with Saddam in South Park and before those marionettes fornicated in Team America:World Police, the Germans had cardboard cutouts do an orgy, as in the hilarious brothel scene in the movie. Further proof that the 20s were a lot wilder than, say, the 50's, or was it just because they're Germans? If I were an evil executive from Disney, I will reissue this film with cutesy dialogue and music from Phil Collins, and my God the merchandising opportunities. The characters would look good on a bag or shirt, or buttons, a la Emily the Strange.

Okay, about the music. It was provided by the band Drip. Hmm. I know you guys put a lot of effort into it, with the percs and those laptops and all, but I wish it was more exciting and fun, given the material. The vibe was more Passion of the Christ than The Thief of Baghdad. It was too muzak-y and new age-y in many parts, a la Deep Forest circa 1994. I nearly fell asleep.

The screening was packed. The cocktails area was full before the screening, but those people were not even half the people who showed up way past the scheduled screening time. Lots of familiar faces during the cocktails. Musicians, filmmakers, artists, and those that just happened to have a free Tuesday night stuffed their mouths with grub and wine from Gaudi.

The next scheduled screening is on Monday, September 10, with the Spanish film El sexto sentido, with music from Wahijuara, and on Thursday, September 13, with the Japanese film Orochi, with music from the Makiling Ensemble. If you're planning to go, I suggest you buy or reserve your tickets NOW. Last Monday when I went to the ticket booth, only three seats were left. Don't want that to happen to you.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Night out: Saguijo (9/01/07)

The first thing that people always say about Saguijo is that it's a house. Yes, an average-size house circa the '60s, located in a residential area in Guijo St., Makati (as in "mama, sa Guijo tayo." Gets?) I've read accounts of people thinking that they were lost upon reaching the area, because obviously it's not Jupiter Street or Makati Av.

Saguijo feels very bohemian, similar to Cynthia Alexander, et al's Conspiracy Bar in QC (smoking is also prohibited inside), but smaller and noisier. Bahay talaga. The sala area is the performance space. The dining area is the bar. There's one toilet shared by everybody, like in a house. The walls are covered with interesting paintings. Even the graffiti in the toilet looks like art. The second floor was converted into a gallery, and there's also a small shop that sells vintage clothing (mostly women's), tees, accessories, and independent CDs.

I went there to catch Pinikpikan, who, just a few days earlier, rocked a hundred or so faces at the 3rd Backdoor Ventures Arts and Music Festival held in Megamall. After that event, I became a convert of not just Pinikpikan, but the whole world music / ethnic subgenre of Philippine rock. I keep asking myself why I haven't gotten into them earlier. I mean I've been listening to Joey Ayala since high school, but the new breed of ethnic musicians spearheaded by Pinikpikan sound different. They don't just sing about rivers and lakes and Philippine eagles and how we are all connected, but they also absolutely rock. As in balls out rock. Pinikpix released their first CD in 1999. What have I been listening to all these years? Seriously I couldn't remember, aside from the occasional Strokes or White Stripes and good old pop.

There were three bands set to perform. Aside from Pinikpikan, there were The Virgin Hunters then the Rinka Collective.

Despite the name, The Virgin Hunters didn't look like extras from Cannibal Holocaust. They all looked like they have day jobs in a bank somewhere in Makati. Their music is hard rock, a la Pearl Jam or Soundgarden circa 1994. The guy's voice even sounded like Eddie Vedder's (hey that's a compliment). The band made me realize how lucky I am that I do not live on this street. I kept looking outside the window, half expecting to see people in their dusters and pajamas with torches, brooms, and itaks demanding for the owner's head because of the noise. Wala. Another thing about Saguijo is that it has really low ceilings, so I felt as if insects were burrowing their bodies into my ears as the music blared (could that also be the reason why the paint on the ceiling is peeling?)

The second band was Rinka Colective. Okay, for some reason, I could not remember their music. I only remember that it was world music-ish. I zeroed in on the percs though, because after the Festival, I've developed a thing for the djembe.

In between the two bands' sets, I had a chat with Pinikpikan singer/banshee Carol Bello at the bar over tequila (hers) and jasmine tea (mine). Carol currently teaches journalism subjects in UP. I learned from her that we graduated from the State U only a year apart, though she spent a longer time getting acquainted with the campus facilities than I did. Carol was in the news last summer. I was with Namfrel in La Salle giving love to my country when news of a pollwatcher, "a professor from UP," being harassed in a small town somewhere in the north came on TV. I only learned that it was actually her two months after the polls. "Sinong Carol?" I asked my colleague. "Yung dating lead singer ng Carol Affection." "Ah, yung Carol na yun." Carol was shocked when I brought up her old band, especially when I told her that I still own a copy of their only album. I told her that some of the songs were really good, and that I once saw them perform live at an NU Christmas concert (this was around 1997). She remembered that, as that band, according to her, lasted only less than a year. Just before their set, she said bye and repeated my name.

Pinikpikan's set was hot. Suddenly the place was packed, with both Caucasians and Orientals, to use their scientific names. "Una una kaya kaya!" Ahh! Couldn't help bobbing my head and dancing with myself in a corner. The place became one big dance freak-out, as people, fueled by San Mig and tequila, started grooving to the reverberating percussions, bass, guitars, and Carol's distinctive wails. When the group brought out the gangsas, all hell broke loose, with people shouting, flailing their arms to the beat of the third world. To hell with the fucking neighbors! It was the best house party ever.

I went out of Saguijo at around 2am to an empty street. I was literally walking alone in Nowhere City, Manila. No passing cars, not even the sound of a balut vendor. The only thing missing was the askal defecating in the middle of the road, and it could be any street in Manila at that time of the night. But I know this particular street has something special. I would love to come back.