Monday, December 28, 2009

Lost daze

It's been a while since I actually wrote something on this blog.

I blame Facebook.

I finally came to the conclusion that, yes, people write to be able to express something. And when I say "write," it doesn't necessarily mean actual paragraphs or even complete sentences. "Write" meaning "to express." No need for further explanations, just to voice out an opinion, an outburst, catharsis. (The same can be said about singing, hence bad karaoke).

The need to be heard.

And Facebook satisfies that need. Be it a single word, or a phrase, or a grammatically incorrect sentence followed by a barrage of punctuation marks, or a photo, or, (my favorite) a link that somehow lets us "reveal" or hint at what we want to say, filling up our Facebook statuses satisfies our very basic need to say something or make a point, to no one in particular.

To whom really? Our Facebook friends? Or just some of them? Hoping to elicit a response from them? To catch their attention? To show off that we know certain things and they don't? To advocate an issue? To make yourself seem cooler than you really are? Because we don't have anything better to do? Perhaps all of these at some point.

Hmm, it could also be that I'm using Facebook as an excuse for my laziness to actually write something. Face it, if you're not really into it, blogging can be a pain. All the clicking and opening of tabs and copying and pasting of codes, etc., it's certainly more complicated that updating a Facebook status.

I can't promise that from now on I'm gonna be more diligent in updating this blog and dramatically cut the time I spend on Facebook, but, I'll try. Hmm, I don't even know if anybody even cares whether I blog or not, if people actually read my posts. Hello, anybody there?

Since the last time I actually wrote something, many things have happened that normally I would have reacted to or written about at length. I'm going to list them here, and since I don't really feel like making up for lost time, I'm just going to comment on them, Facebook style, as I might have written them when these things happened.

1. I went to Afghanistan.

Paolo Maligaya thinks that what we all know about Afghanistan and its people from western media is, not really inaccurate, but grossly incomplete.

2. Corazon Aquino died.

Paolo Maligaya Cory.

3. Carlo J. Caparas chosen to receive a National Artist award.

Paolo Maligaya As Jessica Z. has said, it was so funny I forgot to laugh.

4. Afghans held their election.

Paolo Maligaya Good morning Afghanistan! It's election day.

5. I spent a week in Dubai.

Paolo Maligaya thinks that, thousands of years from now, when our android descendants start digging the Earth's ruins, they're going to dig up the storied lost city of Dubai and conclude that it was one of mankind's greatest technological achievements, until it all melted away because of the unbearable HEAT!

6. I bought a Mac.

Paolo Maligaya ay umanib na sa kulto ng mansanas. Hail our master Steve Jobs.

7. Noynoy Aquino threw hat in the ring.

Paolo Maligaya Somebody needs a make-over.

8. I resigned from my teaching job.

Paolo Maligaya Finally!

9. I became part of Namfrel again.

Paolo Maligaya loves his job very much.

10. I started working in Makati.

Paolo Maligaya never thought he's going to like working in Makati, with its numerous cheap eats and ubiquitous coffee shops.

11. Ondoy flooded Manila.

Paolo Maligaya Lampas-GMA na daw ang baha!

Paolo Maligaya All the taxes siphoned off us workers and they couldn't even buy decent rubber boats!

12. Pepeng flooded Northern Luzon.

Paolo Maligaya What's next?!

13. Aspiring candidates took advantage of the situation.

Paolo Maligaya Wow. Amazing. Ang kakapal ng mukha n'yo.

14. Donations to the government were not promptly delivered to typhoon victims.

Paolo Maligaya Somebody's mounting a campaign...

15. Gloria Arroyo spent more time helping people in Pampanga than anywhere else.

Paolo Maligaya As I was saying...

16. People swamped Comelec offices to register at the last minute.

Paolo Maligaya Trust the Pinoys to go out three days before the deadline and complain that the government is inefficient.

17. Cinemanila 2009 held.

Paolo Maligaya thinks this is the worst Cinemanila ever!

18. Obama got a Nobel Peace Prize.

Paolo Maligaya thinks Obama deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. Perhaps the reason why many people were outraged that the award was given to him "prematurely" is because they think the Nobel Peace Prize is some sort of lifetime achievement award. It isn't, c'mon look it up. It turned into some sort of lifetime achievement award because nobody seems to deserve the prize as it was originally intended in every year it is given. Well this year it's different.

19. Rio de Janeiro chosen as host city for 2016 Olympics.

Paolo Maligaya wants to be in Rio in 2016!

20. The Eraserheads' "Circus" turned 15.

Paolo Maligaya is putting off his long-planned, teary eyed tribute to the Eraserheads to a later time due to procrastination. Aaaargh!

21. Sesame Street celebrated 40th anniversary.

Paolo Maligaya grew up in Sesame Street. Thank God one of my first favorite words was "agua" and not "Wowowee."

22. I became addicted to Starbucks "cappuccino-venti-2 Splenda."

Paolo Maligaya is fat but wide awake.

23. I started to seriously desire a BlackBerry.

Paolo Maligaya desperately wants to be a BlackBerry! Aaaaargh!

24. Pacquiao officially became a boxing legend.

Paolo Maligaya OK so you're the best, but do I really have to see you and your mother everywhere?

25. Cracks started appearing on my Mac out of nowhere.

Paolo Maligaya is distraught. So it's true!? I still love you Apple, but what the heck is wrong with your MacBook white?? It's not as if I'm the first one to experience this. On the internet, it seems that this has been a known problem for years!?

26. People started declaring their intention to run for office.

Paolo Maligaya cannot really comment.

27. Farmers, gays, and overseas workers disqualified from joining next year's party-list elections.

Paolo Maligaya Because dubious organizations and questionable foundations are the truly marginalized sectors in the Philippines, it seems.

28. 57 people massacred by the Ampatuans in Maguindanao.

Paolo Maligaya is speechless.

29. Gloria Arroyo declared martial law in Maguindanao.

Paolo Maligaya I didn't know the Ampatuans were "rebels"? You mean all along they've been planning a rebellion against the government? How can the masters be rebels at the same time? We are educated people. Huwag naman sanang masyadong insultuhin ang pag-iisip namin!

30. Gloria Arroyo didn't show her face from when the massacre happened until even after the martial law was lifted.

Paolo Maligaya Where is our President? Where are you when we need you? Show your face. We demand accountability. As long as we are paying taxes and you and your government are consuming all of it, we demand answers to our questions.

31. Congressmen seemed to agree with Arroyo.

Paolo Maligaya _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ n'yo!

32. Efren Penaflorida chosen as CNN Hero of the Year.

Paolo Maligaya participated in mass internet voting LIKE THE REST OF THE FILIPINO DIASPORA to assert the GREATNESS OF THE FILIPINO RACE, as usual (in between voting for Miss Photogenic in international beauty pageants). World domination, here we come?

33. "Avatar" opened.

Paolo Maligaya has just seen James Cameron's "Avatar" on IMAX 3D. Hollywood spent almost $500 million on a mind-blowing movie...about ecology. It's probably the best thing about it.

34. Christmas came.

Paolo Maligaya Bah! Humbug!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

R.I.P. Johnny Delgado

Many young-ish people would remember Johnny Delgado as the character actor who usually played dad in movies like Tanging Yaman and countless TV dramas. I'd always remember him though as one of the Bad Bananas (along with Jay Ilagan, Christopher De Leon, and Edgar Mortiz), and as the Japanese guy fighting with Armida Siguion-Reyna in Mike de Leon's riotous classic "Kakabakaba Ka Ba?"

"Pulo hapon, pulo hapon, ako sawa na kinig!" Not quite.

Bye Johnny.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Manny Pacquiao, Filipino, the #1 boxer in the world, superstar.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy 40th Birthday Sesame Street!

Watch some more (ok, more than a hundred) of my favorite Sesame Street moments here:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Free as the wind blows

This blog supports efforts to curb 
climate change.

Blog Action Day vs. Climate Change, October 15, 2009

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Corazon Aquino
1933 - 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

When land is life

As I write this, I've just come out of a screening of acclaimed documentarian Ditsi Carolino's latest work, "Lupang Hinarang," at the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival. The film -- still a work-in-progress -- tells about the plight of two groups of farmers in the Philippines: the first from Negros Oriental, who held a hunger strike in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform until they're granted access to part of the hacienda they work in that the law says belongs to them; the second, the group from Sumilao, Bukidnon who did the unthinkable by walking for 60 days until they reach Manila, to ask the president herself that the land they were tilling be given to them (again as the law prescribes) before it is turned into a piggery by San Miguel Corporation. Though both events took place two years ago, their stories are still unfinished; in the film, their stories end tragically, and indeed, tragedy has struck the farmers even after the events captured in the current version of the film.

In both stories, one thing is very clear: the farmers were willing to die for their land. This is something that most of us, including myself, will probably never fully understand, to risk life for something like a hectare of soil. The thing is, besides the clothes on their backs, the only thing they really have is land. In the film, it is also clear that the farmers did it not for themselves, but for their children, maybe because they knew that the land for which they have given sweat, tears, and blood, is the only thing they could leave their kids.

Watching Carolino's latest film is a very cathartic experience, in which emotions are expressed in all their nakedness. Suddenly, the artifice in storytelling that beset many movies that are showcased even in festivals like the Cinemalaya just fall away when confronted with a film like Carolino's, whose previous films include "Bunso" (which I have not seen) and the excellent "Riles." It is also to Carolino's credit that the film got/is being made: with no funding and no certainty that the film would ever be finished, she just grabbed her camera and jumped right in when she learned of the farmers' plight, simply because she believed their story deserved to be captured and told. And what stories theirs are.

I've always maintained the belief that the ability to create art and to have the resources to do so is power, and to not use them to advance either a cause or the art form is a waste of said resources and a lost opportunity. In both respects, Carolino and her film stands taller than everybody else.

Know more about Lupang Hinarang and how you can help:

* * * * *

I've not seen two of the competing films in the fifth edition of the Cinemalaya. As if that would stop me from ranking my favorites in order of preference:

1) Ang Panggagahasa Kay Fe (Alvin B. Yapan)
2) Sanglaan (Milo Sogueco)
3) Last Supper No.3 (Veronica Velasco & Jinky Laurel)
4) Dinig Sana Kita (Mike Sandejas)
5) 24K (Ana Agabin)
6) Nerseri (Vic Acedillo, Jr.)
7) Astig (GB Sampedro)
8) Engkwentro (Pepe Diokno)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Next stop:

Thursday, July 9, 2009

1984: The year of pop

Where were you in 1984? Were you in college? In high school? Or in elementary school perhaps, just like me? A yuppie? Heck, even if you were not born yet, if you just remotely happen to like pop music, there's no way you could have escaped 1984.

For 1984 was the year of pop. If there's one single year that plotted the course of popular music of the '80s and beyond, this was it. The year left no doubt who would define the music of the decade -- a triumvirate the like of which has never been seen again -- whose influence on pop culture extends to this very day. You'd be surprised to learn that most of the songs that you associate with the '80s were actually released in 1984, eternal reminders of our youth, or at least of that last '80s-themed movie you saw or that last '80s-themed party you went to.

Though the album Thriller was released in 1982, it was in 1984 that Michael Jackson cemented his reputation as the King of Pop. Christmas 1983 saw the release of the Thriller video. But just in the first quarter of 1984, Michael: officially released "Thriller" as the last single off the album; saw Thriller certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest-selling album ever; infamously burned his hair and scalp while making that Pepsi commercial; won 8 Grammys including record and album of the year; and was the subject of a TIME cover illustrated by Andy Warhol. Later in the year he got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and had the then-largest-grossing tour ever with The Jacksons. Definitely not shabby.

Madonna released her debut album in 1983, its popularity carried over to the following year with the release of the classic singles "Lucky Star" and "Borderline." But it was in September of 1984, at the first-ever MTV Video Music Awards (in which The Cars' groundbreaking "You Might Think" video won the top award) when the world truly first took notice of Madonna, when she writhed onstage wearing a wedding dress. Her second album and smash single Like A Virgin was released a few weeks later, accompanied by that video shot in Venice, Italy.

Michael Jackson may have ensured his status as the King of Pop, and Madonna may have proven to be the most enduring, but there's no doubt who owned 1984. In 1984, the world turned purple with the release of Prince and the Revolution's Purple Rain, arguably the year's best album and an instant classic. Out of the album -- a melding of hot funk, rock, and polished pop -- came tumbling classic after classic: from the first single "When Doves Cry," to "Let's Go Crazy," "Take Me With U," "I Would Die 4 U," to the live recording of the ballad "Purple Rain." The album, and the accompanying hit movie, established Prince not just as a star, but also arguably rock's finest frontman, and a songwriting genius, not to mention being pop's most enigmatic and prolific.

Apart from the triumvirate of Prince, Madonna, and Michael Jackson, 1984 saw a multitude of artists release their signature hits: Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time," Bruce Springsteen's "Born In The U.S.A." and "Dancing In The Dark," Van Halen's "Jump," Billy Idol's "Eyes Without A Face," INXS' "Original Sin," Phil Collins' "Against All Odds," and Sade's "Smooth Operator."

1984 also saw one of the best musical comebacks ever, when Tina Turner strutted onto MTV in high heels, denim jacket, tight leather skirt, and that hair with the hit "What's Love Got To Do With It," inspiring a hundred thousand drag queens the world over to do the same. The year also showcased the staying power of several acts, most noteworthy of which were Lionel Richie (with a bunch of singles from the best-selling album of his career, winning the Grammy album of the year award in 1985), Chaka Khan with "I Feel For You," Paul McCartney with "No More Lonely Nights," and Queen with the anthem "Radio Ga Ga." Speaking of comebacks and staying power, 1984 also saw the release of Bob Marley and the Wailers' posthumous classic compilation Legend, introducing Marley and his music to a new generation, and the album eventually proving to be everyone's favorite entry-level initiation to reggae and Jamaican music.

Hip-hop was still at its formative stage and would not gain mainstream acceptance until two years later with Run-D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys, but in 1984, one of hip-hop's most enduring classic -- Grandmaster Melle Mel's "White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)," an anti-drug anthem -- filled the airwaves in America and Europe.

But not all the pop that the world consumed voraciously came from America, for 1984 was also the peak year of the so-called Second British Invasion (the first being in the '60s), not seen again until the rise of Britpop in the mid-'90s. Leading the pack were the golden boys of MTV -- Duran Duran -- who unleashed "The Reflex" and "The Wild Boys" to the world in 1984. Culture Club memorably burst onto the scene, led by a cross-dresser in shockingly red hair and kabuki make-up whom I really thought was a woman until I read the name ("Why is her name Boy George?"), prancing across TV screens with "Karma Chameleon," "Miss Me Blind," "Mistake No. 3," and "The War Song." The Police released "King of Pain" off Synchronicity, won the Grammy song of the year award for "Every Breath You Take," then broke up. Wham! (George Michael and that other guy) told us to wake them up before we go-go, then also unleashed the immortal "Careless Whisper" and "Last Christmas." Eurythmics gave us "Here Comes The Rain Again." Depeche Mode came out with "Somebody," "People Are People," and "Master and Servant." Tears For Fears made us "Shout." Spandau Ballet, The Cure, and Bananarama all had new singles. The Smiths came out with their self-titled album and told the world that they're miserable now (but when was Morrissey not?). U2 uplifted us with "Pride (In The Name of Love)." And before the year ended, Bob Geldof of The Boomtown Rats had corralled most of them in a studio as Band Aid to sing the second British invasion's glorious anthem, "Do They Know It's Christmas?," which directly spawned 1985's similarly stellar (if inferior) "We Are The World" by USA for Africa, as well as the defining concert of the '80s -- Live Aid -- the crowning glory of which was Queen's set, with Freddie Mercury leading a sea of people through "Radio Ga Ga."

(But where was rock during this time of boys in make-up and hairspray and ladies who looked like drag queens? In America and the U.K., hardcore punk and post-punk were still in full swing, and alternative rock was taking roots, with memorable releases from bands such as the Minutemen, Hüsker Dü, The Replacements, Minor Threat, Meat Puppets, R.E.M., Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil, and Cocteau Twins. In the last quarter of 1984, Tommy Tanchangco formed the hardcore label Twisted Red Cross in the Philippines, releasing tape compilations the following year featuring bands such as Urban Bandits, Wuds, Betrayed, Dead Ends, and Ethnic Faces.)

By 1984, barely three years after it was founded, MTV had already become the taste maker when it came to music consumption, with bands wanting to be in it, not only to be heard but to be seen. Suddenly, singers had to be attractive, fit, young, and trendy. Along with radio, MTV gave exposure in 1984 not just to established acts, but most especially to memorable one-hit wonders that the '80s have become known for, like Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Relax," The Psychedelic Furs' "The Ghost In You," Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me 'Round (Like A Record)," Shannon's "Let The Music Play," Sheila E.'s "The Glamorous Life," Robin Gibb's "Boys Do Fall In Love," Talk Talk's "It's My Life," Thompson Twins' "Hold Me Now," Torch's remake of "(Build Me Up) Buttercup," and Nena's "99 Luftballons." The first MTV generation bought music in droves, mostly in cassette form. At that time, cassettes had already been outselling vinyl due to the popularity and portability of boom boxes and the Sony Walkman. In the same year, CDs were first manufactured in America.

In Asia and Latin America, 1984 also signaled the start of Menudo-mania, with the boy band from Puerto Rico (featuring lead Robby Rosa and later on new member Ricky Martin) releasing hugely popular singles within the year such as "Like A Cannonball" and "If You're Not Here (By My Side)."

In the Philippines, the youth culture zeitgeist of 1984 was not only ignited by American and British acts. In the same year, the movie Bagets was released, featuring a popular teenage cast, and the soundtrack spawning not only Raymond Lauchengco's "So It's You" and "Farewell," but most especially "Growing Up" by Gary Valenciano, who had another hit that year with "Reachin' Out" from the movie Hot Shots. (Gary V. would go on to become the country's very own Michael Jackson, releasing hit songs and albums and routinely selling out venues for his energy-packed concerts). Bagets also sparked a fashion craze in the country, when teenagers and kids started wearing clothes in primary and secondary colors like the characters in the movie (I certainly remember wearing shirts and short pants in a combination of red, yellow, blue and green, sometimes with the Bagets logo).

Whoa, what a year! There may come a time when a year like 1984 might come our way again -- a rare moment when talent, mass appeal, positivity, youth, and commerce aligned -- but I certainly doubt it. In the meantime, let's hit the boom box and say happy 25th birthday to the hits of 1984.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

Roll out!

Cybertron Philippines
Transformers toy exhibit
Taken on June 28, 2009
SM Megamall

(Click on any image to see more photos)

A stash of Michael

My Michael Jackson stuff. I was surprised.

Appreciation: the "Thriller" video

The truth is, "Thriller" isn't my favorite Michael Jackson video (that would be "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough"), not because it's not good (quite the opposite!) but because it still gives me the creeps. I'm definitely not a huge fan of horror movies, except zombie and vampire movies, and whenever I chance upon the Thriller video on MTV at night, I quickly change the channel.

I saw the premiere of Thriller on local TV sometime around Christmas 1983 (if I'm not mistaken) with my teenage cousins. At that time, I did not remember the choreography or the song; instead, what I remembered most was Michael Jackson's fake werewolf eyes at the end, with Vincent Price's maniacal laughter in the background. It did not help that there were scenes of chases and monsters breaking into a house and other stuff that scared me as a seven year old.

Director John Landis said in an interview that the Thriller video was a "vanity project," not being part of any marketing plan for the album that didn't need any extra marketing. When the video was released, the Thriller album had already been in stores and selling like crazy for more than a year. Believe it or not, the song 'Thriller" was already the seventh single from the album, a strange song about a horror movie whose funk is as polished as it is dirty. The director also said that Michael Jackson wanted to do the video after seeing Landis' "An American Werewolf In London." Michael and Landis did something different with the video: it was actually more like a short film than a "promo" for a song, with the same muddy cinematography as the horror flicks so much in vogue at that time (which, along with Elmer Bernstein's additional musical score, just made it scarier). After "Thriller," music videos became longer and more ambitious, with storylines to boot. (Right. Blame "Thriller" for "November Rain.") Not only is the video an out-and-out horror film; like the song with its inspired Vincent Price cameo, the video is also a tribute to the horror movies made by Hammer films in the 50's and 60's, some posters of which appear in the cinema lobby in the video.

Never mind all those details. The thing that really made the video a cultural landmark was the choreography by Michael Peters and Jackson. That extended dance break in the middle where Michael is fully made up as a zombie? Pota, that's hand-down the coolest dance sequence ever captured in a music video. As Tyra Banks might say, that was totally FIERCE. That was the sequence that spawned a lot of copycats, inspired Regal Films in the '80s to put dance numbers in their movies, and turned Bollywood into the dance showcase that it is now, not to mention the Goli Mar and prison Thriller YouTube sensations, and countless Thriller dance-offs in wedding parties, high school reunions, and 80's-themed parties. Even if Michael Jackson had stopped making records after Thriller, that bit right there would still have ensured his immortality.

I already had the Thriller album before the eponymous single was released. "Billie Jean" was a huge hit, but the the only thing I remember about "Billie Jean" when I was a kid was the way Michael's path in the video would light up when he steps on it. I'm pretty sure I only started reaching for the Thriller tape after I had watched the Thriller music video, which was in constant play in local music video programs, and widely imitated in noon-time variety shows. In a way, the Thriller video, adjudged the Best Music Video of the '80s in numerous polls, was what made Michael Michael: the red-jacketed icon with the scary eyes and the moves to end all dance moves, the Michael the world loved and what it had just lost.

The video:

Friday, June 26, 2009

Why I'll never forget Michael Jackson

The Jackson 5's hits

The Jackson 5 Christmas Album

Got To Be There

The Jackson 5 - Never Can Say Goodbye

The Wiz - Ease On Down The Road

Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough

Rock With You

Michael does the Moonwalk at Motown 25

Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'

Billie Jean


P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)

Human Nature

Smooth Criminal

Man In The Mirror

Black or White

In The Closet


I don't think the twentysomethings and below truly know who the world just lost today. Anyone born around the time of the "Bad" and, uhm, the "Dangerous" albums will never truly grasp why Michael Jackson mattered. The Michael they knew was the suddenly-white-skinned guy with the funny nose, scary face, and the controversies -- from his sexuality to vitiligo to child molestation to his "fatherhood" to baby dangling to bankruptcy and other nutty behavior. To them he was Janet's older brother, the crazy guy at the Neverland ranch, the burka-wearing lunatic with the Spiderman-masked kids, that old guy idolized by Britney and Justin, the has-been clinging to past glories. That fart who claims he is the "King of Pop" like, wtf? :-(

Go to your favorite entertainment or news website and read the coverage, because his achievements and significance in entertaiment, culture, and black history are just too many to mention here. The fact is, his claim that he was the King of Pop was justified. The younger generation can never fathom what that meant, so I'll try to explain: put together at their peak the popularity and ubiquity of Alanis, Leo, Britney, BSB, N*Sync, High School Musical, the Jonas Brothers and that Twilight guy, and they will still not measure up to Michael Jackson around the time of "Thriller," when he was everywhere, a force of nature, a cultural phenomenon whose appeal transcended nationalities, color, and age. He was on MTV, on our cassette players and turntables, bedroom walls, pins on our shirts, stickers on our notebooks and lunchboxes. People copied his moves, his style, and he seriously helped shape the music of the '80s, the art of the music video, and the emergence of hip-hop into the mainstream. Millions stayed up to watch world premieres of his videos, new singles on the radio. His appearances were events. Remember that time when the Beatles claimed they were bigger than Jesus? Michael was bigger than the Beatles.

I was about six when Michael was the hottest thing on TV and the radio. I remember watching the premiere of the Thriller video with my teenage cousins. If I'm not mistaken, there was even a Michael Jackson dance-alike contest on Eat Bulaga. My brother and I would put medals and pieces of colored cloth on our shirts and dance in front of the TV imitating Michael. One time I almost got into serious trouble for attempting to filch a stick of gum from a vendor outside our school (the gum included a free Michael Jackson card).

Of course I also got a cassette copy of the Thriller album. As a boy, songs like "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," "P.Y.T.," and of course "Billie Jean" became the soundtrack of my life at that time. One day I got the shock of my life when I saw my younger brother taping over "Billie Jean," singing "Dear Mama" (the theme song for a Regal movie showing that time) in front of the cassette recorder. Playing back the tape, I also heard my father convincing my brother to, was it to take a bath or to eat, I don't remember exactly. And I think there was also me shouting and turning off the machine. Well, my father's dead and my brother has gotten married and probably doesn't remember this incident. But the tape has survived, kept in a box at home, the memories alive like Michael and his music will forever be.


Goodnight angel.

Farrah Fawcett
1947 - 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fête de la Musique Manila 2009

I still feel a bit exhausted after attending the Fête de la Musique in Metrowalk last Saturday, from mid-afternoon till midnight. It's my fault actually, since I decided to not stay put in one place and tried to go to all the designated venues within Metrowalk. The huge rock stage was in the oh-so-far-away parking lot, where thousands of "panks" converged as if the god of "pank" called for a convention. The other big stage was in the center of Metrowalk where pop/alternative bands played.

The jazz, blues, electronica/goth/new wave, reggae/ska, hip-hop/R 'n B, and world music bands played in clubs and bars within Metrowalk.

Best of these venues: the Elbow Room, which had the blues bands. I swear I could have stayed here all night, with their cozy and squeaky clean interiors, the crowd, and the aircon that actually seemed to work that night. A glass of red wine here though cost me almost the price of the bottle at the supermarket, but frankly I didn't mind. It's just too bad I missed The Bembol Rockers since I was doing the rounds of bars and schedules were not followed.

The absolute worst of the venues: hands down Love to Laugh (is it a comedy club?) which hosted the reggae/ska bands. The place defines the word "tiny" as it was so small and so narrow that I thought it was no wider than the corridor outside. What's worse, they even asked for a cover charge from those who wished to enter. I pitied the reggae nuts and skinheads outside (who outnumbered the guys able to get in) who had to content themselves looking through the glass walls of the club, and it may be spring in Paris but it's still summer in Manila so it was scorching even at night. I mean, c'mon, you cannot hold a reggae/ska gig in a place like that. Where should the rude bwayz and girls pogo and skank?

Aruba hosted the jazz acts. Very strict dress code here and they really refused to let people in when the place was already getting uncomfortably full. When a bunch of people got out, finally they let me in. But of course those people would go out; SinoSikat had just finished their lone set and I was greeted by an empty stage. I also managed to squeeze into Metro Phi which hosted the new wave/goth/electronica acts. The place was alarmingly packed, but the music was hot!

I initially planned to just stay at the world music stage. Not so much of a stage, more like a veranda. I don't understand why among all the venues, Yoohoo (or Pulp magazine) did not provide any special lighting for this gig. The bands played in the dark! With acts like Kadangyan and Brigada, the place was truly bound to get crowded so when I decided to go out for a while and decided to go back, the gates were already closed because the place was already full.

Memo to Pulp: should you decide to sponsor this thing again next year (and maybe you should because it was a huge success what with the huge turnout), please PLEASE have another big stage to showcase the reggae/ska and world music bands. I'm sure their loyal followers wouldn't mind mixing it up with one another, and you have done it before. And isn't Fête de la Musique supposedly a showcase for bands like them?

(Click on any image to see more photos.)

On CNN iReport:

A short clip of Unitiima's performance:

A short clip of Kadangyan's performance:

Friday, June 19, 2009

The keyboard is the new pen

...and the pen has always been mightier than the sword.

2nd Facebook Eyeball vs. Con-Ass
Menu, Metrowalk, Pasig City
June 19, 2009

(Click on any image to see more photos.)

On CNN iReport:

Join the Cause:

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Rally Against Con-Ass
Ayala Avenue, Makati City
June 10, 2009

(Click on any image to see more photos.)

On CNN iReport:

Happy 75th Birthday Donald Duck!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The difficult part

(An international election monitoring organization asked for a writing sample on the topic of Philippine elections. This was it.)

The good news is that, unlike many of its Asian neighbors, the Philippines has long transcended most of the traditional challenges faced by prospective voters that many international treaties and agreements have set to eradicate. With the exception of several areas in Mindanao and the mountain regions where religious and tribal gaps remain strong, the country, at least most of it, has almost no problem as to the participation of every gender, age, and economic class during elections.

However, the bad news is that, though the Philippines has long embraced modern/Western views and methods regarding citizen participation in nation-building, the country seems to have devolved into a cautionary tale of a democracy gone haywire. The country has long been criticized by some of its neighbors (particularly Singapore) for having a democracy that is too freewheeling and rambunctious. This is difficult to accept but they may have a point. Most of us Filipinos are very outspoken and are very much aware of our rights as citizens, but many people think that we sometimes go overboard in upholding them. For example, while the world hailed the first EDSA revolt of 1986 as oppressed citizens fighting back, the same people frowned upon the second EDSA revolt of 2001 as “mob rule,” a “bad habit.”

Throughout our history, Filipinos have withstood foreign invasions, slavery, natural calamities, man-made disasters, even our own governments. Because of this, Filipinos have developed a strong outer shell, a resilient attitude towards difficult challenges. This is good because we feel positive that we can take anything thrown our way.

However, the evil twin of this resilience is an attitude of many Filipinos that rules are there to be gotten around or to be broken. Many people do not trust the government (they cannot be blamed) and have accepted the idea that the system is corrupt, and that rules and regulations are there to con them, so let's buck the system and give it to the one in power! In government agencies, many rank and file employees have no qualms committing petty graft and corruption in the belief that their higher-ups are doing the same – with much more money (plus the knowledge that they can't get fired from their jobs). Sadly, this cavalier attitude towards rules and laws has led to the debasement of political processes in the country, not excluding those pertaining to elections. Laws, rules and their technicalities are being used and twisted by lawmakers to basically get what they want, for their personal ends. Right now, the biggest issue in the country is the possibility that no elections will happen in 2010, because lawmakers allied with the President ganged to railroad a bill making possible the changing of the Constitution, which could enable them to extend their terms of office.

The people’s acceptance that the system is corrupt has also led to apathy. Many Filipinos have become willing players to political shenanigans during election time. There is a pervasive attitude that “whoever wins, the government is going to remain corrupt, so let’s just cash in.” Poverty remains a key player during elections, and of course, many politicians are really not too keen on eradicating it, when during campaign season, a hundred pesos or a bag of rice can easily secure votes, especially in the slums.

Poverty also breeds ignorance. Celebrities with dubious administrative potential routinely win elections in the Philippines. Entertain the masses, shake their hands, and they’ll vote for you. The poor and ignorant are easily sweet-talked by politicians, that they’ll vote for the first person who promises them uplift from poverty and misery, however hollow the promise rings.

So can these all be fixed? It will be an extremely difficult and long process, but I still believe it can be done. As may be obvious by now, simple election observation or even performance monitoring (though they would help) are not enough. It will be a huge undertaking that should include improving the laws of the land, the educational system, but most importantly, the way people think of themselves and their country. The government should lead this effort, but first we need a truly good leader; not just somebody with sterling credentials and potential but with a strong political will to change the country for the better. That’s probably the easy part. The most difficult part is for the people to change themselves and how they see themselves as citizens of the country. Follow simple rules. Think for the common good. Volunteer. It is difficult to break bad habits and to remove the burdens of history. The process will take decades at least, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Silence vs. Con-Ass

RockEd Sunday Silence against Con-Ass
June 7, 2009
Baywalk, Manila

(More photos.)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Happy 25th birthday Tetris!

And who hasn't dreamt of these falling blocks after a day of playing Tetris?!?

Tiananmen 20

About the Tiananmen protests and massacre.
TIME Magazine cover story 1989.

The shame of the nation

On Tuesday night, majority of the members of the Philippine House of Representatives approved House Resolution no. 1109, railroading the convening of a constituent assembly to change the Philippine Constitution.

You might say, "so what?" The Constitution is the rock of this country. It is the basis for everything, all the laws, your livelihood, your lifestyle, everything. Once you open it up for tinkering, nobody really knows how (or what) it, or WE, will end up (with). Granted, our present Constitution is not perfect. However, this is not the right time to change it -- not when a Presidential election is on the horizon and the temptation to extend the terms of office of whoever is in power is very strong -- and these are not the right people to do it. To put it simply, do you really trust our present government to decide on this extremely important endeavor? NO, not this present bunch of "administrators."

This brazen attempt by our so-called representatives to put this very important task into their hands is a travesty of democracy. They must be stopped.

The names of the following people appear in House Resolution no. 1109 (approval last Tuesday was through viva voce vote). Is your representative one of them? As a citizen, you have the right to express your displeasure and disapproval of said action of YOUR representative, and he or she has no choice but to listen to YOU because people like you put him where he or she is and is giving him the money to enjoy his or her privileged life. Write letters. Send e-mails. Organize meetings and symposia. Attend mass demonstrations.

It's your country and it's your life. What are you gonna do?

ABLAN, ROQUE R. JR Ilocos Norte, 1st District
AGBAYANI, VICTOR AGUEDO E. Pangasinan, 2nd District
AGYAO, MANUEL, S Kalinga Province
ALBANO (III), RODOLFO T. Isabela, 1st District
ALFELOR, FELIX R. JR. 4th District, Camarines Sur
ALMARIO, THELMA Z. Davao Oriental, 2nd District
ALVAREZ, ANTONIO C. Palawan 1st District
ALVAREZ, GENARO RAFAEL M. JR. Negros Occidental, 6th District
AMANTE, EDELMIRO A. Agusan Del Norte, 2nd District
AMATONG, ROMMEL C. Compostela Valley, 2nd District
ANGPING, MARIA ZENAIDA B. Manila, 3rd District
ANTONINO, RODOLFO W. Nueva Ecija, 4th District
APOSTOL, TRINIDAD G. Leyte, 2nd District
AQUINO, JOSE S. (II) 1st District Agusan del Norte
ARAGO, MARIA EVITA R. 3rd district, Laguna
ARBISON, A MUNIR M. Sulu 2nd District
ARENAS, MA. RACHEL J. Pangasinan, 3rd District
ARROYO, DIOSDADO M. Camarines Sur, 1st District
ARROYO, IGNACIO T. 5th district Negros Occidental
ARROYO, JUAN MIGUEL M. 2nd District of Pampanga
BAGATSING, AMADO S. Manila 5th district
BALINDONG, PANGALIAN M. Lanao del Sur, 2nd District
BARZAGA, ELPIDIO F. JR. Cavite, 2nd District
BAUTISTA, FRANKLIN P. Davao Del Sur, 2nd District
BELMONTE, VICENTE F. JR. Lanao del Norte, 1st District
BICHARA, AL FRANCIS C. Albay, 2nd District
BIRON, FERJENEL G. Iloilo, 4th District
BONDOC, ANNA YORK P. Pampanga 4th District
BONOAN-DAVID, MA. THERESA B. Manila, 4th District
BRAVO, NARCISO R. JR. Masbate, 1st District
BUHAIN, EILEEN ERMITA Batangas, 1st District
BULUT, ELIAS C. JR. Apayao Lone District
CAGAS (IV), MARC DOUGLAS C. Davao Del Sur, 1st District
CAJAYON, MARY MITZI L. Caloocan, 2nd District
CAJES, ROBERTO C. Bohol, 2nd District
CARI, CARMEN L. Leyte, 5th District
CASTRO, FREDENIL H. Capiz, 2nd District
CELESTE, ARTHUR F. Pangasinan, 1st District
CERILLES, ANTONIO H. Zamboanga Del Sur, 2nd District
CHATTO, EDGARDO M. Bohol, 1st District
CHONG, GLENN A. Biliran, Lone District
CHUNG-LAO, SOLOMON R. Ifugai, Lone District
CLARETE, MARINA C. Misamis Occidental, 1st District
CODILLA, EUFROCINO M. SR. Leyte, 4th District
COJUANCO, MARK O. Pangasinan, 5th District
COQUILA, TEODULO M. Eastern Samar, Lone District
CRISOLOGO, VINCENT P. Quezon City, 1st District
CUA, JUNIE E. Quirino, Lone District
CUENCO, ANTONIO V. Cebu City, 2nd District
DANGWA, SAMUEL M. Benguet, Lone District
DATUMANONG, SIMEON A. Maguindanao, Lone District
Dayanghirang, Nelson L. Davao Oriental, 1st District
DAZA, NANETTE C. Quezon City, 4th District
DAZA, PAUL R. Northern Samar, 1st District
DE GUZMAN, DEL R. Marikina City, 2nd District
DEFENSOR, ARTHUR D. SR. Iloilo, 3rd District
DEFENSOR, MATIAS V. JR. Quezon City, 3rd District
DEL MAR, RAUL V. Cebu City, 1st District
DIASNES, CARLO OLIVER D. (MD) Batanes, Lone District
DIMAPORO, ABDULLAH D. Lanao Del Norte, 2nd District
DOMOGAN, MAURICIO G. Baguio, Lone District
DUAVIT, MICHAEL JOHN R. Rizal, 1st District
DUENAS, HENRY M. JR. Taguig, 2nd District (2nd Councilor District)
DUMARPA, FAYSAH MRP. Lanao del Sur, 1st District
DUMPIT, THOMAS L. JR. La Union, 2nd District
DURANO (IV), RAMON H. 5th District, Cebu
ECLEO, GLENDA B. Dinagat Islands, Lone District
EMANO, YEVGENY VICENTE B. Misamis Oriental, 2nd District
ENVERGA, WILFRIDO MARK M. Quezon, 1st District
ESTRELLA, CONRADO M. (III) Pangasinan, 6th District
FERRER, JEFFREY P. Negros Occidental, 4th District
GARAY, FLORENCIO C. Surigao Del Sur, 2nd District
GARCIA, ALBERT S. Bataan, 2nd District.
GARCIA, PABLO JOHN F. Cebu, 3rd District
GARCIA, PABLO P. Cebu, 2nd District
GARCIA, VINCENT J. Davao City, 2nd District
GARIN, JANETTE L. Iloilo, 1st District
GATCHALIAN, REXLON T. Valenzuela City, 1st District
GATLABAYAN, ANGELITO C. Antipolo City, 2nd District
GO, ARNULFO F. Sultan Kudarat, 2nd District
GONZALES, AURELIO D. JR. Pampanga 3rd District
GONZALES, RAUL T. JR. Ilo ilo City
GULLAS, EDUARDO R. Cebu, 1st District
GUNIGUNDO, MAGTANGGOL T. Valenzuela City 2nd District
HOFER, DULCE ANN K. Zamboanga Sibugay, 2nd District
JAAFAR, NUR G. Tawi-Tawi, Lone District
JALA, ADAM RELSON L. Bohol, 3rd District
JALOSJOS, CESAR G. Zamboanga del Norte, 3rd District
JALOSJOS-CARREON, CECILIA G. Zamboanga del Norte, 1st District
JIKIRI, YUSOP H. Sulu, 1st District
KHO, ANTONIO T. Masbate, 2nd District
LABADLABAD, ROSENDO S. Zamboanga del Norte, 2nd District
LACSON, JOSE CARLOS V. Negros Occidental, 3rd District
LAGDAMEO, ANTONIO F. JR. Davao del Norte, 2nd District
LAPUS, JECI A. Tarlac, 3rd District
LAZATIN, CARMELO F. Pampanga, 1st District
LIM, RENO G. Albay, 3rd District
LOPEZ, JAIME C. Manila, 2nd District
MADRONA, ELEANORA JESUS F. Romblon, Lone District
MAGSAYSAY, MARIA MILAGROS H. Zambales, 1st District
MALAPITAN, OSCAR G. Caloocan, 1st District
MAMBA, MANUEL N. Cagayan, 3rd District
MARANON, ALFREDO D. III Negros Occidental, 2nd District
MATUGAS, FRANCISCO T. Surigao del Norte, 1st District
MENDOZA, MARK LEANDRO L. Batangas, 4th District
MERCADO, ROGER G. Southern Leyte, Lone District
NAVA, JOAQUIN CARLOS RAHMAN A. (MD) Guimaras, Lone District
NICOLAS, REYLINA G. Bulacan, 4th District
NOGRALES, PROSPERO C. Davao City, 1st District
OLAñO, ARREL R. Davao Del Norte, 1st District
ONG, EMIL L. Northern Samar, 2nd District
ORTEGA, VICTOR FRANCISCO C. La Union, 1st District
PANCHO, PEDRO M. Bulacan, 2nd District
PANCRUDO, CANDIDO P. JR. Bukidnon, 1st District
PICHAY, PHILIP A. Surigao Del Sur, 1st District
PIñOL, BERNARDO F. JR. North Cotabato, 2nd District
PUNO, ROBERTO V. Antipolo City, 1st District
RAMIRO, HERMINIA M. Misamis Occidental, 2nd District
REMULLA, JESUS CRISPIN C. Cavite, 3rd District
REYES, CARMELITA O. Marinduque, Lone District
REYES, VICTORIA H. Batangas, 3rd District
ROBES, ARTURO G. San Jose Del Monte City, Lone District
Rodriguez-Zaldarriaga, Adelina Rizal, 2nd District
ROMAN, HERMINIA B. Bataan, 1st District
ROMARATE, GUILLERMO A. JR. Surigao del Norte, 2nd District
ROMUALDO, PEDRO Camiguin, Lone District
ROMULO, ROMAN T. Pasig City, Lone District
SALIMBANGON, BENHUR L. Cebu, 4th District
SALVACION JR., ANDRES D. Leyte, 3rd District
SAN LUIS, EDGAR S. Laguna, 4th District
SANDOVAL, ALVIN S. Malabon-Navotas, Lone District
SANTIAGO, JOSEPH A. Catanduanes, Lone District
SEACHON-LANETE, RIZALINA L. 3rd district of Masbate
SEARES-LUNA, CECILIA M. Abra, Lone District
SILVERIO, LORNA C. Bulacan, 3rd District
SINGSON, ERIC D. Ilocos Sur, 2nd District
SINGSON, RONALD V. Ilocos Sur, 1st District
SOLIS, JOSE G. Sorsogon, 2nd District
SUAREZ, DANILO E. Quezon, 3rd District
SUSANO, MARY ANN L. Quezon City, 2nd District
SY-ALVARADO, MA. VICTORIA R. Bulacan, 1st District
SYJUCO, JUDY J. 2nd Dsitrict, Iloilo
TALINO-MENDOZA, EMMYLOU J. North Cotabato, 1st District
TAN, SHAREE ANN T. Samar, 2nd District
TEODORO, MARCELINO R. Marikina City, 1st District
TEVES, PRYDE HENRY A. Negros Oriental, 3rd District
TUPAS, NEIL C. JR. Iloilo, 5th District
UNGAB, ISIDRO T. Davao City, 3rd District
UY, EDWIN C. Isabela, 2nd District
UY, REYNALDO S. Samar, 1st District
UY, ROLANDO A. Cagayan De Oro City, Lone District
VALENCIA, RODOLFO G. Oriental Mindoro, 1st District
VARGAS, FLORENCIO L. Cagayan, 2nd District
VILLAFUERTE, LUIS R. Camarines Sur, 2nd District
VILLAROSA, MA. AMELITA C. Occidental Mindoro, Lone District
VIOLAGO, JOSEPH GILBERT F. Nueva Ecija, 2nd District
YAP, JOSE V. Tarlac, 2nd District
YU, VICTOR J. Zamboanga Del Sur, 1st District
ZAMORA, MANUEL E. 1st District, Compostela Valley
ZIALCITA, EDUARDO C. Parañaque, 1st District

No to Conass!