Ondoy relief operations days two and three

September 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

Day 2 – Went to Ateneo for a while to check the status. After about 30 minutes, I headed to Jam 88.3’s studio to perform to raise awareness about the Ondoy situation. It was a good feeling seeing so many musicians adamant to disperse as much information as possible. For me, the music was secondary – the awareness was our main concern.

Day 3 – Went to Ateneo again to help, then headed to Everclear Water Station in QC to help the owner, Greg, fill up 6k bottles of water to donate. We finished at 1am, but from what I heard, they reached 6k by 6 in the morning. Congratulations!

Top 5 Ondoy pet peeves

September 30, 2009 § 4 Comments

In lieu of recent events, I have decided to write my own Top 5 Ondoy Pet Peeves. Besides, it was a fun stress reliever writing this – the stress caused by tensions between my heart’s will, and my body’s capability. I’m not sure if you would share the same sentiments, but let’s try it out anyway.

5. Will The Real Jacque Bermejo Please Stand Up?
The Jacque Bermejo situation is nothing but a lose-lose. On one hand, if her account was indeed hacked, then I’m really sorry for the person. I’m sure other people have been wanting to burn her at the stake, crucify her like an Old Testament goat, or you know, just plain hate her. If that wasn’t her, then I’d feel sorry. On the other hand, if it really was her who tweeted in straight Engrish with such air and chutzpah that the Filipino people deserved this tragedy, well, that’s just disheartening. I mean, really – sinners? Are your hands clean? This thing is double-edged and I suggest we do not waste our time hating.

4. The Opportunists
First, the opportunist politician who shamelessly plugs his name by all means. Is that what you think this is? An opportunity for exposure, for the 2010 elections? Also, I heard that there is one relief center that has been flooded by celebrities. I blame the media for making a fuss out of these “well-known” people; shooting their cameras, as if proclaiming: “Like, oh my God, like, I’m making tulong here.” In case you don’t know, hotshot: while Filipinos are busy either helping out or looking for help, you’re wasting your time on an illusory limelight.


3. The “Yay, No Classes!” Student
I don’t think this requires further explanation. If you were a seven year-old kid maybe it’s forgivable. But this is not freedom from academic responsibility. This is a call of duty for the love of God, and I think you should answer it. Be happy that classes are suspended because it gives you more time to help your neighborhood relief operation.

2. The “Fuck, a.) The Academic Calendar Got Screwed, b.) I Have No Allowance, c.) I’m So Bored At Home Student Because Classes Were Suspended” Student
a.) Grades are just grades. b.) Then live with it. c.) Then look around you and see how many relief operations are going on while you’re busy trying to cope with ennui.


1. The Looters
I heard from the news today that Provident Village is in dire need of maximum security because of these heartless people. There have been gunshots heard every night, and the relief goods have been tampered. I also heard that the Ateneo camp has been getting its own dose of theft. I have nothing more to say about these animals, but: Anak ng tipaklong. Mahiya kayo sa bansa niyo.

RUNNERS-UP:
Liars
Crocodiles (UPDATE! Calling on Pasig Nature Park! You forgot another crocodile that goes by the name of Dick Gordon. Click here.)

I’d like to give a shout-out to the staff of Everclear Water. In case you did not know, the owner Greg opened up his store tonight, after-office hours, just to fill up as many water bottles as possible, to donate. Let’s all give them a round, they deserve it.

Ondoy relief operations day one

September 28, 2009 § Leave a comment

Last night, my friends and I went to Ateneo to help the relief operations. It was an amazing feeling, seeing everyone together, all in motion for one purpose. I admire those people who went back and forth just to give more and more and more. The outpour of rain was overcome by the outpour of blessings.

Colayco Pavillion at around 6:00pm

Colayco Pavillion at around 7:30, we started to mobilize to the Covered Courts.

Covered Courts

Covered Courts

Sorting area for clothes.

Registration area.

Noodles.

Complete bags containing canned goods, bottles of mineral water, noodles, crackers, etc.

Lots of water.

Trust in the creativity of the Universe

September 27, 2009 § Leave a comment

In an epic battle between Lord Dream and Choronzon, a demon:

Choronzon: Ssso… You know the rules, Dreamlord? If you win, I will return your helmet. If you lose, you will ssserve as a plaything of hell, for eternity. Our slave.
Dream: I understand.
C: Very well. I will have the first move. I am a dire wolf, prey-stalking, lethal prowler.
D. I am a hunter, horse-mounted, wolf-stabbing. (I smell spit alcohol, stale smoke and cheap sex, perfume and mold. And I feel the grass beneath my hooves, the flanks between my legs. All is real. Nothing is real. Choronzon’s move.)
C: I am a horse-fly, horse-stinging, hunter-throwing.
D: (There are many ways to lose the oldest game. Failure of nerve, hesitation… Being unable to shift into a defensive shape. Lack of imagination.) I am a spider, fly-consuming, eight legged.
C: I am a snake, spider-devouring, poison-toothed.
D: I am an ox, snake-crushing, heavy footed. (I feel the snake writhe beneath my hoof, its spine crushed.)
C: I am an anthrax, butcher bacterium, warm-life destroying.
D: (A change in direction, but still an old gambit. I think… I think I understand how Choronzon plays. I can turn it against him. I think I will abandon the offensive.) I am a world, space-floating, life nurturing.
C: I am a nova, all-exploding… Planet-cremating.
D: I am the Universe–all things encompassing, all life embracing.
C: I am the anti-life, the beast of judgment. I am the dark at the end of everything. The end of universes, gods, worlds… of everything. Sss. And what will you be, Dreamlord?

I am hope.

Filipinos, we’re in this together now! Let’s all help one another. Let’s not lose hope, okay? I’m going to my university now to help.

Put a pause on the spindle, a storm just beat the shit out of my town

September 27, 2009 § Leave a comment

Last night, torrential rains drenched every street of Manila and beyond. My friends and I used to always complain about how hot it is here in Manila, and how my beloved university should get proper air-conditioning. But last night, no one was complaining. Last night, devastation flooded every soul.

The whole day was dark. Silence ensued in my room-cum-studio; electricity was cut off for a while. I was listening to nothing. Except for the rain tearing down the walls of my city. Except for ambulances here, there, and everywhere. Except for sirens. People on TV, wailing, asking for help. Marikina was drowning, and so was Cainta. San Juan had in her a lady giving birth. I could not paint a picture of this catastrophe. It was one of those days that when you recall in bedtime stories for your children, you can only say: “You just had to be there.”

And there I was, watching every moment. My city was getting washed away before the 2010 elections.

If there is one thing I learned from Theology 141, it’s this: Crisis = Opportunity. Looking at the brighter side of things, this calamity has brought the Filipino people together. Quoting GMANews.tv, “It’s the old Filipino practice of bayanihan, expressed in the age of Web 2.0.” My friends were tweeting the shit out of their computers, exhausting all available communication devices on where to get help, and who needed it. GoogleDocs and GoogleMaps were utilized fully; plotting the maps with charts and graphs, letting people know, or at least get a computerized picture of Manila in distress.

I don’t believe that this is karma; that God is punishing us like He did Sodom & Gommorah, or Noah for that matter. He’s “Testing the strong ones,” sings Aaron Marsh in the Copeland song, “Scarring the beautiful ones.” And the old saying goes – “God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle.” At least, we’re one step forward to finding a center in our desires – to put it simply, a better place to live in. Chin up, Pilipinas. We’ll do what we can.

This is for everyone who lost their loved ones to Ondoy. My deepest condolences.
This is for the rescuers and civilians who risked their lives to save others. Two thumbs up.
This is for the people still waiting for a save. Just hang on!
This is for my town, my one and only Manila.

Top 6 fictional bands

September 25, 2009 § 3 Comments

In the spirit of making lists, I decided to write my own top 6 favorite fictional bands. I love watching movies about bands. It doesn’t really matter whether the actors are just acting out their instruments, overdubbed by some poor, exploited studio musician. What matters is that these dudes are “having fun,” and the music isn’t that important – the band itself is.

6. A toss-up between Vesuvius (The Rocker) and No Vacancy (School of Rock)
Both these bands reek of hair metal plasticity and a funny kind of ingenious music. For some reason I feel like every time I see Vesuvius and No Vacancy, the proprietors of hair metal are ashamed because their sub-genre is the butt of all bands-in-movies jokes. I’d have to give it to No Vacancy though, because Spider his one helluva bassist. Did you see his costume? It’s as if he came out of an S&M parlor.

Outfit speaks for itself.

Outfit speaks for itself.

5. Sonic Death Monkey (High Fidelity)
What’s amazing about Sonic Death Monkey is how the lead singer, played by Jack Black, evolves from vinyl salesman to rockstar. Somehow his sins of prejudice and discrimination against the mainstream are forgiven, and his soul redeemed as he takes on the stage for the last scene of High Fidelity. What makes it better is that their band name is oh-so-fit for their genre: soul. You go, Jack Black. You make our neighborhood Amoeba Music employee database proud.

Were no longer called Sonic Death Monkey. Were on the verge of becoming Kathleen Turner Overdrive, but just for tonight, we are Barry Jive and his Uptown Five.

"We're no longer called Sonic Death Monkey. We're on the verge of becoming Kathleen Turner Overdrive, but just for tonight, we are Barry Jive and his Uptown Five."

4. Driveshaft (LOST)
Charlie fuckin Pace. Enough said.

You, all, everybody!

"You, all, everybody!"

3. School of Rock (School of Rock)
The leadership duties of this band belong to the one and only Jack Black. At first you’d probably think they were a bunch of kids with no credibility whatsoever, who knew Gwen Stefani as Gwen Stefani and not as the steaming hot vocalist of No Doubt. But these kids were prodigious by nature, and stunned the world with their glory over No Vacancy in a Battle of the Bands. What makes them so special is that they were fooled by Jack Black. They actually thought that the band was a “project,” and would merit bonus points. Sweet innocence!

God of Rock, thank you for this chance to kick ass.

"God of Rock, thank you for this chance to kick ass."

2. The Jerkoffs, A.K.A. Balls Deep, Shit Sandwich, or Fistful of Assholes (Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist)
I’d take them over the non-existent Where’s Fluffy anytime. The problem with Where’s Fluffy is that they don’t even appear. The Jerkoffs, given their background of having a homosexual-dominated rhythm section, can win the hearts of chicks in no time. There’s no question about it – The Jerkoffs are appreciated for their uniqueness, and for creating an atmosphere of homosexual empowerment for Nick & Norah’s teenage audience.

If you dont have a drummer, then why do you have drums, you fistful of assholes?!

"If you don't have a drummer, then why do you have drums, you fistful of assholes?!"

1. Stillwater (Almost Famous)
Although there is a real Stillwater band from the ‘80s, I’m pretty sure they weren’t as lame as these guys. Who can forget the scene where they were fighting over a t-shirt? This band is unforgettable; somehow they epitomize the death of rock & roll through their “cool,” pretentious antics, inviting desperation everywhere they play. Stillwater was all about projecting “coolness,” rockstardom and the shallow lives of musicians. What’s so special about them is their journey; where they eventually find themselves in the end.

You know I do? I connect. I get people off. I look for that one guy thats not getting off, and I *make* him get off!

"You know I do? I connect. I get people off. I look for that one guy that's not getting off, and I *make* him get off!"

Runners-Up (In no particular order):
Robin Sparkles (How I Met Your Mother)
The Whole Cast of Rocky Horror Picture Show
Way? No Way! (Ross & Chandler from FRIENDS)
The Pinheads (Back to the Future)

Call Kurt Cobain and tell him we’ll be okay – but it’ll take a while

September 19, 2009 § Leave a comment

In my very infantile years of being a musician, I will never forget this one gig.

It was around 11:00pm (I can’t remember; that’s the symptom of belonging to our generation – not having a concept of time), when we were setting up. A few people – around 10-15, occupied Al’s Bar – a well-known hotstpot in Paranaque for its openness to any kind of music at all, and a balcony where people, audience and performers alike, can exercise freedom[1] in the name of the late Bob Marley. We played a typical four-song set, high energy tied up with a fitting exercise of headbanging which probably had swollen up our neck muscles in the span of months we’ve been playing together.

After the set, a couple of people our age went to us and said things like, “Fuck man, that was a really awesome set.” I remember one of them being in the mosh pit in the course of our 20-minute explosion. He said: “Tangina. ‘Di ‘ba sigaw ako ng sigaw, naghahanap ng dugo? Tingnan mo ‘to!” Low and behold it was a bloody scar. Crimson trickling from all over his arm. I never really liked blood. But that was cool. The coolness was doused when we found out that he broke a fucking monitor.

A couple of months ago, I thought about an interesting observation – that in this generation, the concept of going to gigs has faded away. Due to youtube.com, due to fucking myspace.com. Not that I’m blaming these established internet mammoths for droughts in our gateshare, but that’s the way it is. I myself am a big fan of these websites. But nobody seemed to notice: If in the ‘70s, the video killed the radio star, my generation was all about the internet killing the confused, identity crisis-filled art of live performance. And goddamnit, did they kill it well, adding insult to injury.

I found myself sitting in one of the less-shadier gas stations along C5 as I was on my way to Al’s bar tonight. There I was, sitting with a copy of Punks, Poets, Poseurs: A Reportage on Pinoy Rock & Roll written by Eric Caruncho. It was the Rolling Stone-caliber journal of Philippine rock from the ‘70s to the early ‘90s. It was such a treasure chest. His recollections of gigs, vinyl records, and exploits from those points in time were precious. His was like a pot of gold for any music-loving Leprechaun.

Nobody watches gigs anymore. It’s a fact of life for my generation, at least. And it’s not out of bitterness why I’m writing this. Not out of discontent, not out of a lack of satisfaction – I love what I do and I can go on writing about that forever. I’m writing this to save the art. There is so much appreciation in the art of listening to music, but the art of performance has withered. Every other kid you see in Megamall (or if you’d like, the more cono Bonifacio High Street) is wearing a thin white cable running down her blouse, connected to her pocket, to her ears. I can bet my bottom singkong duling – it’s Lady Gaga, or some other auto-tuned rapper brainwashing the workaday world. And in any second Kanye West can interrupt the said artist, proclaiming his own self-righteous, pathetic love for music[2]. Fuck that shit. See what I mean? Music appreciation – it has been glorified by the iPod, but does it help us become better people? As John Cusack said in High Fidelity: “Am I listening to pop music because I’m miserable? Or am I miserable because I’m listening to pop music?”

And then it opens up a can of worms. People don’t like talking about the miserable things that this generation has done to us. In conversations with intellectually stimulated people my age, there is a consensus with regard to this problem: BRING US BACK TO THE ‘90S. When Kurt Cobain was the Jesus equivalent of grunge. When the Eraserheads made their way to the top, and changed the courses of Philippine music. When the glorious days of People Power were revisited. When the world was less infected by so many things (in the medical world, they probably thought that the Swine Flu was just another funny name to call diseases). And when the Spice Girls were fucking hot.

But I realized, as I sat down, listening to the words of Eric Caruncho as if he was talking to me – that’s backwardism. I love the ‘90s and I would die to purchase a time warp and install it on my non-existing backyard. Romanticizing the decade is an amazing experience, nostalgia is good to an extent. But we have to move forward. We have to make do with what we have. With the words of my Philosophy teacher, we have to “trust in the creativity of the Universe[3].” And we have to do it well, because this challenge is overwhelming.

Present day. The end of the ‘00s decade is around the corner. I’m in the car, on the way to Al’s Bar for another gig night. It’s a tie-up between Mobile Productions – a production group from the south, and Ateneo Musicians’ Pool – mostly made up of north kids. Sad to say, I’m not expecting a coast-to-coast kind of thing. You know, bridging the geographical gaps? That rarely happens in gigs. It will be the same old Al’s Bar crowd – Ros “Redslim” Velez wearing his typical red shirt and skinny jeans, the balcony boys and girls, a couple sitting on the couch near the edge of the room, probably another one doing a MOMOL[4] exhibition in the dark backside[5], a few teenagers here and there not to watch intently but to accompany their friends in the band, because they have another party to go to. And of course, my brotherhood, sitting on the American Idol panel-like couch, midsection, greatest view of the stage.

And in spite of all the insecurities I mentioned about our generation, I’d like to say, it’s a pleasure to be a musician, and at the same time, a big-ass fan (although sometimes inevitably a purist) with a knack for writing. Lights. Amplifiers. Sweat. Blood. All in the name of music. It’s a fucking pleasure.

*

Footnotes:
[1] See: Cannabis.
[2] See: Taylor Swift Incident. If you haven’t heard about it, you’re officially living under a rock. Say hi to Fred Flintstone for me. Don’t worry, I’ll send your regards to the Jetsons.
[3] See: Gabriel Marcel’s empiricist view on creativity.
[4] Make Out Make Out Lang. Listen to: Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl”
[5] The Al’s Bar equivalent to a sedan’s backseat.

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