Category Archives: Music

The Sounds of Manila Transitio

It was a beautiful night as my Couchsurfing friends and I sat on a makeshift mat made of cardboard boxes at the Plaza Moriones at Fort Santiago, Manila. We were waiting for the Manila Transitio to start, and after a full day of walking and eating, it was nice to just be able to relax like this in the middle of busy Manila. We had food and drinks. The night was pleasantly cool and not a sign of rain anywhere in the horizon.

Manila Transitio 1945 is an annual event organized by Walk This Way tours and Carlos Celdran. It is held every February to commemorate the fall of Manila during the second world war where an estimated 120,000 lives of Filipino civilians were lost in a battle. This year, the crowd was treated with performances by the Mabuhay Singers and Deoro.

The program started with the singing of the Philippine National Anthem. It was the second time that day that I sang it, but this time it was in Spanish. It was a pretty rousing rendition and you couldn’t help but be amazed by it. After a few words of welcome from Carlos, the Mabuhay Singers took the stage.

The Mabuhay Singers
The Mabuhay Singers has been around since 1958 and is one of the pioneers of the kundiman genre. Many people of my generation would not be familiar with it, being more inclined to listen to foreign pop acts. It was great to listen to these singers who have been around far longer than I have been alive.

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March Music

I’m going to see three artists in concert this March. That’s somewhat of an achievement for me since I don’t really like going to concerts unless I really like the artist. Last year I splurged for Jason Mraz and I don’t regret a single minute.

On March 3, I’ll be watching L’Arc En Ciel in Hong Kong. It’ll be my first trip there, and my first trip out of the country just for a group. Biggest adventure so far, and I’m pretty excited.

March 20 is all set for Toe, another Japanese band that my brother Nunik introduced to me sometime in 2010. He’s a big fan of the drummer, and he has been gunning for the group to perform here. Thankfully, the group said “Ok, we’ll play in the Philippines”. Weeee.

All set for Toe

March 30 will mark the return of Hanson after seven years. I’m going to watch with the biggest Hanson fan I know. During their first show I didn’t go because I was in Baguio and I chose to watch Jars of Clay instead. Now that they’re back, well why not?

I can’t wait.

You Are Loved

It’s common for concertgoers to hear artists shout “I love you (insert location name here)!”. It gets the crowd going and makes the concert all the more interesting. Yet somehow, you know that it’s an empty declaration, one that’s said nearly carelessly and automatically.

When Jason Mraz performed with Toca Rivera here in Manila last Sunday, his overall message to everyone was “You Are Loved”. He repeats it several times, and you can really feel his sincerity. The overall vibe of the concert was relaxed, like you’re attending a gig in a small bar with a dozen or so of your close friends. Or having a couple of friends jamming in your living room.

Jason Mraz and Toca Rivera

I don’t have the words to justify the night. From the moment he stepped on stage, you can feel the positive vibe coming from him. There were times during the whole concert where I wanted to cry just of sheer happiness. Jason and Toca were awesome. I love how they blended so well and it was hard to imagine one without the other. I love how they change the songs a bit and how they engage the crowd to participate. I was sort of hoping that there would be no one singing along to spoil the performance, but somehow, it was the opposite. Having Jason ask people to sing with him or do some silly things made the entire thing much more fun.

It’s hard to say what’s my favorite part of that night. I loved every performance, every time he’d say something about his advocacy’s (he was with MTV Exit the night before) and how he just exudes love all night long.

Thank you for the wonderful, emotional, beautiful night Jason Mraz and Toca Rivera. See you in 2012.

Quotes:
“Real men don’t buy girls.”
“I can hear you talking among yourselves… and in another language.”
Forgot the exact words of one of his comments, but it was something about are we just going to sit there and let our lives pass by or something…

Here’s a great recording of “You and I Both” and “The Remedy” (with a bit of Oasis thrown in).

Random find: Taglish

I was listening to 99.5 RT this afternoon. I tuned in while Neil and Scarlet where talking to some guy and I knew their guest was American. Or at least, someone who grew up in America. It shouldn’t really be anything special, but then he started singing Yeng Constantino’s “Hawak Kamay”. First in the original Tagalog, then in English.

Amused, I searched “Taglish” on YouTube (the singer said to use that term if you can’t spell his last name) and quite a bit of videos came up. Turns out Taglish is a band, and is the project of Jason Fernandez and David DiMuzio. Yes, he is American.

I listened to a few of their covers (they seemed to do a lot of Rivermaya’s, not surprisingly since Jason is the current frontman of the band) and I just blown away by their performance.

Here’s one cover which I particularly liked. Elesi is my second favorite Rivermaya song while Bamboo was still with the group (next to Ulan which Taglish also covered). While I enjoyed this performance, what made an impression was the English translation of the song (seen as subtitles in the video).

So much of the song is, sad to say, lost in translation. Not that the translation is bad, but the poetic flair and the rhythm of the language is diminished. While I used to wonder what the heck a “mahiwagang elesi” had to do with the song, it sounded worse when translated. I’m not criticizing the group, mind you. Heck, I like these guys. I’m just saying that I grew to appreciate the song even more.

In the meantime, enjoy watching and listening to Taglish.

Casa San Miguel

When I was a kid, I wanted to play the violin. My mom, however, enrolled me in piano classes, which I didn’t fully appericiate at that time. My teacher was my mom’s teacher, and she was pretty good but like a typical kid, I didn’t have the patience to sit and learn the technical side of music. I wanted to sit on the piano and be able to play the piece that I wanted without hesitation.

Little did I know that it would’ve done me more good to have learned those things. I did go on to study that in school, but it wasn’t as intensive had I took it seriously.

A few years ago, my mom enrolled my two youngest siblings in Casa San Miguel to study violin. How ironic is that? The instrument I wanted was the one my siblings will learn to play.

Established in 1921, Casa San Miguel is the family retreat house of Ramon L. Corpus, in San Antonio, Zambales. In 1993, Corpus’ grandson, Alfonso “Coke” Bolipata established an art center after returning home from the Julliard School of Music in New York.
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It was an experiment of sorts to put up a structure to provide a community where locals can learn to enhance their talent for classical music and appreciate it as well. Most of the kids who are studying music and art there are children of the local residents, whose livelihood depend mainly on fishing and farming. In the city, these folks will have to pay thousands of pesos for their kids to learn how to play the violin. Here, thanks to the benefactors and the board of trustees, they will only have to shell out a fraction of the cost.

A few years ago, I went with my siblings during one of their lessons. I fell in love with the place. This big, rambling brick house stood in the middle of a mango orchard didn’t look like a typical Filipino ancestral home, but it was beautiful. I later learned that this was a newer structure as the actual Corpus family home burned down years before.


Casa San Miguel in 2005

That one visit was not enough. I’ve gone back to see it with my friends, and to attend the yearly performance of the Pundaquit Virtuosi for the Holy Week. But still, I keep wanting to come back.

The land is sprawling. Several structures have cropped up since then my last visit, and the main house itself has changed on the inside. To one side is the home of Mrs. Bolipata, and on the other end is the blue and orange home of artist Plet Bolipata-Borlongan. While visitors are welcome to visit the Casa, those two places are, I believe, off limits. There are several other structures: a building dedicated to visual art, and a smaller structure that didn’t seem to have changed the last time I was there.
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Life’s playlist

I never really thought about making a playlist of my life, but sometimes, you hear certain songs and you go “I want that to be played in my (insert monumental life event here).”

Sometimes it scares me, because there are times when I don’t want to think about some of those events. For example, while I don’t want to think about my death, I knew I wanted Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” to played during my funeral. You might think it’s pretty weird to play that song, given its title, but somehow, I find its beat appropriate. Especially since there’s a part near the end where I feel like getting up and dancing. Incidentally, the song is from their album entitled “Funeral” so I guess it still fits.

Then there are the love songs. I don’t particularly think of myself as a fan of love songs, even though I do like a good romantic movie or story. More like, I don’t subscribe to the blatantly obvious and much overly used love songs, like “It Might Be You” or whatever comes from the discography of bands from the 70s and 80s. I like the songs that aren’t obviously about love, but when you listen closely, you go “Hey, it is about love!”

Take this song, Fiction Plane’s “Denied“. Again, you wouldn’t think of it as a particularly romantic song given its title, but it’s one song I wouldn’t mind being played at my wedding (whenever that is).

I can actually add a lot more to this not-really-love-songs list, but I’ll leave it as is.

One of my writer friends has a playlist for each book she writes. I don’t know how effective that is, because I haven’t really tried, but sometimes you do hear a song that you know fits a particular moment. Whether it’s the lyrics or it’s the tune, you know that song fits just right there.

Maybe the next song I’ll be able to place in my life playlist would be for when I win the lotto? :p

Darren Criss: Totally Awesome

I was giddy when I heard the news of Darren Criss coming to the Philippines. I’ve long been a fan of his since I saw “A Very Potter Musical” months back. I was also a fan of the entire Team Starkid because of all the love and effort they put to make this project. There’s also “Little White Lie”, “Me and My Dick” and of course, “A Very Potter Sequel”. A new project “Starship” will be showing soon.

When the news that Darren was going to be on Glee, I was half excited, half skeptic. As I always am when something I like breaks into the mainstream, I was worried how this would affect the Starkid fandom. Darren himself had an inkling about this and said in one tweet of his:

StarKid fans, meet your new baby brother GLEE. We’re all family now, so play nice ok? Remember, this doesn’t mean that I love you any less. Darren Criss, Nov. 10, 2010.

Let’s face it. Fans can be rabid and petty, especially if it’s about a person and they’ve crossed boundaries, there’s bound to be “I knew him first!” wars. I’m guilty of this, even though I try to curb it.

So, Darren on Glee. Excited too, yes. When he came out… um. I loved “Teenage Dream”, but to be honest, I didn’t like his role, and I still don’t. I had long stopped watching Glee, and I guess I didn’t really miss out. But I still love Darren… and Joey, Joe W, Bonnie, Devin and the rest of the Starkids.

Tonight, thanks to Glee’s popularity, I had the good fortune of watching Darren Criss perform live at Trinoma. I was with Presea, who used her A-Card to get free passes. We were surrounded by fangirls, most of whom we thought were there for Glee. Ah, we were mistaken. They were Starkid fans. A lot of Starkid fans. It was fun for us, probably not for those sitting behind them.

The kids loved our AVPM/HP Musical poster, but the Ayala people didn’t so they took it in until after the show. Boo. We also made a new friend who knew every single song that Darren sang. The stage was rather far from the audience. There was still a big gap between the edge of the stage to the first few rows so cameras had to be in zoom mode. Too bad my video camera had a limited zoom, so Darren looks really small.

Darren. Ah, Darren. Watching you live has further cemented my awe of you. Hearing you sing your songs live has made Starkid the more real for me. I sang every single song that you played, nearly lost my voice but boy, it was fun. Best song of the night? Well, all of the Starkid and Human songs, but I truly enjoyed “Granger Danger” and “Getting Back to Hogwarts”. Seriously, singing that long song and letting us go crazy with it? Totally awesome.

I think the people who were there just for Glee were totally shocked when a lot of us started singing out loud to the songs they didn’t know. Especially with the two songs I mentioned. I also loved how often he mentioned Starkid. That’s where it all started and while they weren’t physically with him, the songs made them feel a heck of a lot closer. Seriously, no drama.

While my heart is still disappointed and somewhat bitter that I didn’t get any passes for either the meet & greet or the CD signing, knowing that I’m more a fan than half those who got their stuff signed, I feel happy. I repeat. I am happy. Really 🙂 In any case, if Darren or any of the Starkids read this, please send me something signed by you *wishful thinking*

I’m currently editing the pictures and figuring out how to work the videos that I have. I got all of his performances. For a list of the songs he sang, please see this post. For the meantime, I shall head off to bed.

Edit: First video up. “Not Alone”

Drumming the night away: Wadaiko Yamato

I remember hearing about Yamato: Drums of Japan from my cousin Miel a few years back. Japan Foundation Manila invited them for a performance and she was able to attend. I’ve been wanting to see them but I somehow keep missing the schedule and ending up hearing about it after the event.

Thankfully, through the power of social media, I was able to learn about it early on. I called JFMO to reserve some seats for tonight’s performance (July 10) and dragged various family members to go with me. Partners in crime: my sister Oski, Miel and her boyfriend Vero. Did I mention that this is for free?

Yamato, or Wadaiko Yamato is a performing group of taiko drummers formed in 1993 by Masa Ogawa in Nara, Japan. Ogawa was originally part of another wadaiko group but left to form Wadaiko Yamato. Initially, the group had ten members, five men and five women. While it wasn’t unusual for women to play in such a group, the female members of the Wadaiko Yamato play the same drums as the male members.

In an interview with BBC some years ago, Ogawa said that Japanese drums have a similarity to African drums, where they were used mainly for communication either amongst the people or to their gods and ancestral spirits. Western drums are mostly instrumental in fuction. Wadaika Yamato tries to combine both. (You can read more about the interview with Ogawa here)

We arrived just minutes before the performance began. There was already a huge crowd inside so even if we had reserved tickets, we weren’t able to get seats. No matter, since Sky Dome’s structure made it possible to view the stage from any angle (so long as someone doesn’t stand in front of you). Flash photography was prohibited, although there were marshals asking people not to take pictures at all. After I got told off after taking several pictures, I turned it off.

It’s not my first time to hear a taiko performance, but obviously, it was my first time to hear them live. The first strike of the drumstick on the surface of the drum is unforgettable. It reverberates deep down, you just don’t hear it, but feel it as well.

For nearly two hours, we were treated to a world class performance by excellent artists. It wasn’t just a musical experience, but also a visual one. The Yamato performers moved along with the beat of their instruments, and even had entertaining skits that had the audience laughing and participating.

It wasn’t just all drums too. One of the performances had the female members all playing shamisen, a three-stringed guitar-like instrument that is played with a bachi (think of big guitar pick). Another performance had the male members playing with small cymbals, while in their encore number, one of the female players had a flute.

Watching them perform would give you an idea that it wasn’t just a matter of hitting the drums. For one, the muscles on the drummers’ arms would tell you that it takes a lot of effort. Each member, including the females, would definitely need to have have strong arm muscles to be able to play tirelessly for nearly two hours. And it wasn’t just the arms. They moved around the stage, jumping and dancing. Sometimes they’d carry the drums around while playing them. I tell you, the energy that’s flowing from them will make you feel like you’ve performed as hard as they have after the show.

I’m stoked that I was able to get the chance to watch them. If they come back, I’ll definitely go see them again.

Labor day events

My Labor Day events anyway.

Fristine told us about this food tour event at Bonifacio High Street happening last Saturday. I dragged Presea and Ching along, but it turns out we didn’t make the cut-off even if we were early for the sign-up. Pfft. Although I was disappointed, I didn’t feel it much of a loss, as opposed to this woman who said she was from McCann-Ericsson and was informed that someone else already signed up for the tour in her name, and brought along a few other people to boot. Talk about stealing identity.

Ching, Presea and I ended up at Conti’s. Afterwards, we walked around and met Den, who decided to go to Taguig to beat the heat. We got her books (may bagong convert haha!) then she got into a conversation with Presea about writing, and along with Ching, decided to establish something that’ll combine our interests and earning.

Franco live in Eastwood
I went home with just enough time to freshen up. It took me roughly ten minutes to get from the house to Eastwood, where I met Miel and Vero, and their friend Pieter (who is Belgian, likes beer, can speak Tagalog and Cebuano, and thanks to Vero for the lesson in the differences between the Visayan dialects ^_^).

We stood for about 30 minutes before the band played. It was awesome. From the first, they really rocked the place. I love Franco’s aura. He kept saying “positive vibes!” and I really believe in it, coming from him. Think about this. All my photos of the band members were blurred. With Franco, even if he was moving around, I managed to get clear pictures (as clear as you can get with a compact point and shoot).



Anyway, I love this group. Nunik was already sharing with us Franco’s songs even when he was still with Inyo, but to hear him live, wow. Get his cd, purchase, not download.

Passed up on Route 196 (glam rock night) with Miel, Vero and Pieter.

Professor Layton
I went to Greenhills today to pick up my Revoltech Professor Layton. The ride was pretty quick from our place, but when I arrived at Virra Mall, I was in shock. I’ve been to Greenhills on and off the years, but I’ve never stepped inside Virra Mall. Gone is the old, dark and rather dangerous mall that I know, replaced by a bright and very busy commercial complex. If it weren’t for the fact that I was entering from the garden, I wouldn’t even realize where I was.

The National Bookstore I know is now an appliance store. The Dec and Baker’s Fair is some shop I can’t remember. The area where C.A.T.S used to be is now Banco De Oro and the Metrobank outside was now a cafe of sorts. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Post Office was still there, but it was rather sad to realize that when I stand in front of Virra Mall, I can’t see my high school anymore. I told it to David (my high school guy best friend) via SMS, and he couldn’t believe I haven’t been back since then.

Shoppesville, on the other hand, is more familiar than Virra Mall. Even if it had a facelift of sorts (the lighting’s brighter for one), it still had many of the same shops that I used to visit back then. The Mercury Drug was still there, and the shop above it that was full of knick-knacks. I didn’t see if the Booksale was still there, but the fabric store where my grandma used to go was still around.

I spent a few minutes getting lost, then got my toy, then got lost again. But all in all I was in an out of Greenhills in less than an hour. I didn’t feel like going around. Maybe next time.

Cooked some pasta for dinner. Not bad. Now I need to catch up with some work.

The Final Set

I’m betting that there’s already plenty of blogs out there talking about last night, The Eraserheads: The Final Set. I don’t think I’ll add my thoughts, as I still don’t feel quite organized about it. Just that it was truly amazing. Especially after the guys came back onstage after the grand finale and tribute to Francis M., to sing three songs that wasn’t part of the playlist. Ely even fumbled the lyrics to “Ligaya” but the guys just went along and at the end, he just said “Tapos na?”

Amazing.

My post about it before I headed to sleep.