Guilty Pleasures

After a stressful (yet fulfilling) week of facilitating a recollection and retreat to the High School students of Laguna State Polytechnic University last week, I decided to unwind and enjoy ‘the fruit of my labor’ yesterday.

I usually spend my paycheck, honorarium, salary, and stipend on just two things: Books and CDs/records. And here are the stuff that I purchased yesterday to add up to my colection:

The Sherlockian (Graham Moore)

I got addicted to Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes after rediscovering it through the BBC series Sherlock. The American version starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law is quite okay but the TV series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman made me love the character more. Or shall I say, it made me to be obsessed on Sherlock’s character (my Facebook timeline cover and my Tumblr display photo is Sherlock as portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch.)

I first saw this book sometime last January during the time when the second season of Sherlock has just finished. I was looking for good books (read: window shopping) at National Book Store in SM Calamba when I saw this at the new arrival section. Hungry for a new Sherlock material (because the third season is scheduled to premiere on 2013), I decided to download an electronic copy of the book. But because it’s a pain in my eyes to read in front of the computer (I have no tablet nor an eBook reader) and I want a tangible, smelly book, I decided to save some of my earnings and buy this one.

Because I still have books that are scheduled to be read first, I have not yet taken it out from the plastic packaging. But I promise to make a review after I read it.

A Question of Heroes (Nick Joaquin)

I came across this book here on Tumblr. My good Tumblr buddies/idols Sir Nik (@iwriteasiwrite), Sir Kim (@ellobofilipino), Tita Marj (@margoism), Joseph (@brownmonkeytheory), and Myts (@marinjabin) either discuss this book or make this as a reference on their posts. I got curious especially when I learned that this book contains historical accounts/facts which are not discussed in school and it gives a different angle on how we view our heroes.

History is my favorite subject from Elementary to College (even though I suffered from teachers who did not teach history well).  I have been always fascinated with the stories of the past and how it continue to affect and shape the future. But I have been fed with the history of Zaide, Agoncillo, and Constantino in College so, according to what I have learned here, I have a biased and limited approach to history. (It’s funny to think that I have learned more about Philippine history after graduating from College by reading blogs and posts here on Tumblr.)

I have painstakingly searched for this book for months here in the Laguna-Batangas area but to no avail. But I got my chance yesterday. This is one of the only two copies available on the bookstore (and this has a better condition compared to the other).

Simply put, this is Philippine History which was not taught to us in School.

Dalawang Mukha ng Pag-ibig (Ebe Dancel)

Five months after Sugarfree broke up, its front man and chief songwriter Ebe Dancel released his debut album as a solo artist with the title Dalawang Mukha ng Pag-ibig.

But my excitement for the album instantly fade away. It was the height of my, uhm, personal financial crisis. I cannot buy his 350-peso limited edition 2-CD debut album. Yeah, poor me.  I could have just illegally downloaded the songs then but no. I do not want to rob my favorite artist. I do not want to steal from the great man who created the anthems of my College years. Just as I supported his former band by buying their original albums, I must also give my full support for Ebe as a solo artist.

Painful as it was, I just let the months pass by without owning his album. But it was worth the wait. And my money. I have been listening to this album all day and trust me, this will not fail you.

________

I can be described by the Tagalog phrase mababaw ang kaligayahan. I don’t usually buy clothes, gadgets, food, and throw a party at an exclusive club (bitch please) whenever I get my pay check. It always go to books and records. And beer. And coffee. Or a good book over a cup of coffee/bottle of beer with a good music on the background.

I believe that books and music are terapheutic and they will teach you even after you finish school. The good things about reading books and listening to good music have  been repeatedly written and preached in the past. And I won’t dig any further.

Yeah, money can’t buy you happiness. But it can help you own great books and good music which is almost the same, right? Invest on it. And make it a habit.

So the next time you ask me what gift do I want for any (special) occasion, here, you already have a clue.

Nah, I’m just kidding.

But you can take it seriously.

Vaya con Dios!

Paalam Pilipinas: A Sugarfree Documentary

“Sila lang ang bandang hindi Hari ng Sablay” – Robert Javier, Musician, Producer, and Sound Engineer

 

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It was January 7 of last year when I first heard the sad news. It came from atweet from Sugarfree’s frontman, Ebe Dancel. He will leave his band. During that time, it was still unclear if the band is breaking up or its two remaining members, Kaka Quisumbing and Jal Tuguibao, will continue being a Sugarfree minus Ebe.

It was later confirmed in the succeeding days that Ebe Dancel would pursue asolo career and Kaka and Jal would do their own stuff. Sugarfree’s last weeks as a band were spent by doing farewell gigs on different bars and schools.

I was fortunate to watch one of their farewell gigs (which, unfortunately, my first time to watch them live) when they performed at the UPLB Feb Fair last February 17. 2011 (Technically, it was already February 18 when they performed). It was a ‘going back home’ performance for Ebe who was an alumnus of UP Rural High School. Together with hundreds of fans, I jumped to their opening song Kung Ayaw Mo na Sa AkinI joined the crowd in singing Mariposa, and I screamed when they played the crowd-favorite Hari ng Sablay. It was a beautiful night of celebrating the music of Sugarfree. I went home that night with a smile, thankful for having watched Sugarfree live before they part ways; but with a heavy heart because the gentlemen who made the anthems of my College years, would play together for the last time in a few weeks’ time.

And so the inevitable happened. On March 1, 2011, at the Eastwood Central Plaza, Sugarfree bade goodbye to their fans with the farewell concert, Paalam Pilipinas. I was not able to attend the concert but thanks to Jam 88.3 (who played an important role to stage this one) who aired the concert live, I felt that I was also there, drenched in the ran, singing, and shedding a tear for my heroes.

 

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During the entire concert, I stayed in my room, headset plugged to my ears, shutting the world. I also have a small piece of paper and a pen, scribbling the title of the songs from their set list. I did not let the other members of the household see me on the verge of tears. I sang. I cried. I smiled. After singing their last song Burnout, I told myself that’s it, we have lost another legend. Maybe because the members are too burned out and they need to rest. We never knew the exact reason of their breakup. It just happened. But at least, unlike others, they formally said goodbye. But as in all ending, there is a new beginning. Life must go on.

On August 1, 2011, five months after the farewell concert, Ebe Dancel released his debut album as a solo artist entitled Dalawang Mukha ng Pag-ibigAnd as for the two (2) remaining members, Jal Tuguibao continued his studies while Kaka Quisumbing did his own stuff. I am hoping that the remaining two would resurface on the music scene but that thing is yet to happen.

From time to time, whenever I feel reminiscing the good old days, I still listen to Sugarfree. I have almost forgotten the farewell concert but not their music. I have almost forgotten the pain of my heroes’ breakup. It has been almost a year and Ebe is achieving great heights as a solo artist.

Earlier yesterday, while browsing the news feed of Facebook, I saw a post fromAtTheWomb.com. the music hub of pelicola.tv, about the premiere of a documentary about Sugarfree’s farewell concert. And to add to my excitement, the premiere was yesterday (though they didn’t put the exact time). During the past months, I have resorted to the videos on YouTube to watch Paalam Pilipinas. But I told myself, there must be someone who documented the whole event. It must be shown for the benefit of thousands (or millions) of Sugarfree fans out there. I patiently waited (to the point of repeatedly refreshing the website) until they finally put up the videos at around 10:20 in the evening. And it was worth the wait.

 

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Paalam Pilipinas: A Sugarfree Documentary, tells about the final moments of Sugarfree as a band – from the band members’ respective houses, to the soundcheck, to the events backstage before the concert, and up to the emotional final song Burnout. This is a documentary featuring how the band broke up and not why the band broke up.

The documentary is divided into four parts. The first part shows Ebe Dancel and Kaka Quisumbing at the start of the day. Kaka shares his experience on the band’s farewell tour while Ebe shows his preparations for the final show. The second part shows the soundcheck and Jal Tuguibao giving his thoughts on the band’s breakup. The third part shows Jal at his home and what his parents have to say about Sugarfree. It also shows the what was really happening backstage while the crowd was waiting for the concert. The fourth, and probably the most emotional part, shows Quark Henares giving introduction before the start of the concert (and the emotional happenings backstage) and the band’s final performance, Burnout.

 

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I watched the documentary twice last night and the emotions I felt during the first time that I watched it was the same, if not more intense, than the first. It’s as if watching over a beloved on his deathbed. It’s as if seeing the love of your life for the last time. It’s as if losing a member of your family.

What moved me most, as what I have written above, was the last part. Though not the whole concert was shown in the film, it captured the emotional performance of the group. It also showed an emotional Ebe Dancel when he left the stage after the concert. But what broke my heart most (Spoiler alert!) were the lines ‘They were immediately ushered out of the stage after the concert. They parted ways as soon as they were brought to their separate exit points. There was no after party’. With that, I broke into tears.

I am no film nor movie expert but I can say that the cinematography was good. It captured (almost candidly, which was good, in my opinion) the emotion of the members and the music fans very well. I also have a problem with the audio on some parts but to sum it up, the documentary captured the essential – how Sugarfree said their goodbye to the fans and how the fans were affected – and influenced – by their legacy.

This documentary is a must-watch not only for the die-hard Sugarfree fans but also to those who are affected, in a way, by their songs. Even Ebe Dancel jokingly offered this concert to those who illegally downloaded their songs. It shows us how to properly say thank you and goodbye to the people who supported us and help us be put at the top.

I was lucky to grow up with the songs of Sugarfree. I was lucky to be influenced by their music. Their songs were my anthem of my college years – the period of my life when I was discovering my passion for music. Their songs were simple and honest. They touch the lives of their fans. and in my opinion, that is what a music or a song is all about.

Sugarfree may have gone but their music is what keeps them immortal.Listening to their music will help us bring to the happy memories of being a Hari ng Sablay, having a good time at Mariposa, reminiscing our Prom, singing the lullaby Tulog Na, and teling to someone, Huwag Ka nang Umiyak.

Maraming salamat Direk King Palisoc at sa bumubuo ng AtTheWomb.com sa dokumentaryong ito.

Maraming salamat Ebe Dancel, Jal Tuguibao, Kaka Quisumbing, at Mitch Singson sa musika at alaala.

Maraming salamat Sugarfree.

_________

Paalam Pilipinas: A Sugarfree Documentary – I know that you did not read this lengthy post so here’s the link of the documentary. Enjoy. Reminisce. And spread the word.

Elsewhere:

Remembering The Final Set

It has been three years since The Eraserheads gave us their final set. Three years after their record breaking concert. Three years since they formally bid us goodbye. Three years after their last bow. Three years after their last concert, and probably indeed their last.

 

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Perhaps, this is one of my biggest regrets as an Eraserheads fan. I was not able to watch their two (2) post-breakup concerts.

During their first concert at The Fort in August 2008, there were doubts if the concert would push through or not. One of the major sponsors backed out a few days before the concert due to a threat of a criminal case from the Health Department. There were no formal announcement of the selling of tickets. There were no formal promotion on the tri-media – just a press release from one of the major broadsheets. I could have made it to the concert. If only I were not drunk somewhere in Calamba that night.

My first attempt to watch them turned out to be a failure.

But as we all know, the first concert was cut short due to Ely Buendia’s health condition. After that, there were speculations if the concert would still push through for a second installment. And the fans got what they wanted. The band will work on their ‘unfinished business’.

The second concert, The Final Set, happened on March 7, 2009, a day after the Master Rapper died, at the SM Mall of Asia concert Grounds. Compared to the first one, this has a bigger venue, a formal promotion, and more or less a hundred thousand tickets available to accommodate more fans. It is said that this is one of the biggest concerts in our history.

Did I make it to the concert? Obviously no. I was then stuck at the Seminary’s confines, punishing myself by studying for our comprehensive examinations. My College Diploma depends on the result of that exam. Bitter as I was, I just resorted to listening to the songs of the Eraserheads on the radio. (I think it was the now-defunct station NU 107 who played Eraserheads songs the whole day in anticipation of The Final Set.)

It was just a consuelo for those who were not able to attend the concert to watch  The Final Set on GMA-7. The network aired it a few weeks after the concert. And I did not waste that opportunity. I watched it with the whole family. But there is still something lacking, something missing within me. Regrets. I could have watched them live.

And so it happened. March 7, 2009, Saturday, was an unforgettable event in Philippine music history. The Eraserheads, the music hero and inspiration of a generation, performed and bowed for the last time in front of their fans.

It was also during this date that Ely Buendia set flame to the famous “Sticker Happy piano.” You know, the one with the naked Joey Mead from the cover of their album “Sticker Happy”.

And for those who are asking the whereabouts of the sticker piano, the last time that I checked, it was at 70’s Bistro (46 Anonas Street Project 2 , Quezon City).

 

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Photo courtesy of Sir Chris Linag. For additional information, please read the article by Aldus Santos here.

Thank you Eraserheads for being a part of our childhood. Thank you for being the soundtrack of our growing up. Thank you for the good music. Thank you for being our heroes. Thank you for the memories.

Maraming salamat Ely Buendia, Raimund Marasigan, Marcus Adoro, at Buddy Zabala! The Eraserheads will never be erased from our heads. That is influence at its finest.

Francis Magalona, Filipino

It was Friday, March 6, 2009.  I was still drained from a week-long written revalida/ comprehensive examinations in Philosophy. Our superiors allowed us to unwind outside the Seminary’s confines, take a breath of fresh air, and forget the hardships of the week. We still have an oral revalida on the Monday to come, but that would be easy. I can ace it, I told myself.

I went to Robinsons Place Lipa with some of my classmates. We dined out, ate like a pig, and laughed off the hardships of studying Philosophy. After that, I excused myself and went to Netopia to surf the net and to relax. It was the heydays of Multiply, Friendster, and Yahoo! Messenger. Just like a warrior who survived the hardships of battle, I updated my friends and contacts that I surpassed the first, and the harder part of the Revalida (I could have just tweeted it then but Twitter was not yet known that time). When I logged out my Yahoo! account, I immediately saw an image of the Master Rapper, Francis Magalona, on the news box. (Believe it or not) I just saw the photo, but I did not dare read the headline because I was in a hurry to go back to the Seminary on time. I thought that Francis is going well on his battle against the Big C.

I went back to the Seminary later that afternoon, did my usual stuff, and followed the usual Seminary schedule. After dinner, we went straight to the TV Room for our scheduled TV Viewing and recreation. We tuned in on 24 Orasand were all shocked to learn the news that Francis Magalona passed away. Almost of all of us fell silent, stunned by his sudden demise.

After our compline, I went to my room and turn my radio transistor on. Almost all the radio stations are playing Francis Magalona’s songs as a tribute to the beloved Man from Manila.  In silence, I said my prayer for the eternal repose of his soul, and expressed my regret for losing another Filipino legend.

 

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I first met Francis when I was about four years old. My kuya, an artist, was busy then painting a portrait of Francis Magalona in a one-eighth illustration board at our old kubo. The face was familiar. He’s the man behind the infectious patriotic song Mga Kababayan Ko. And I have watched him on the movie Mama’s Boys with Ogie Alcasid, Michael V., and Anjo Yllana.

I saw Francis as a revolutionary young face that will achieve great heights. He challenged the conventional music style of his age. His music paved way for the unification of the then-opposing sides of Pinoy hip-hop and rock by experimenting on the merging of rap with rock music. After all, music is the language that should unite us, not divide us.

But more importantly, I saw Francis as a young man, whose heart is united with his beloved land. He redefined patriotism. He made it easier for the youth of this generation to appreciate and understand. And he showed us how great a race and nation we are.

Pride. Identity. Meaning. Perhaps, he saw that before we can shout to the world that we love our country, we must first know what it really means to be a Filipino.

I saw Mga Kababayan Ko then as an anthem which promotes Pinoy pride and identity along with the songs Ako’y Isang Pinoy by Florante and Tayo’y mga Pinoy by Heber Bartolome (and later recorded and reinvented by the Man from Manila himself). These three songs, together with our regular Monday school anthem Ako ay Pilipino, were my first inspirations to love my country, to appreciate my Pinoy identity, and to be proud of my ancestry. And this was long before Pinoy Ako by Orange and Lemons.

 

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But he was gone too soon. Had he not died on that fateful Friday noon of March 6, 2009, he may have personally done greater things for our country and to our countrymen.

But as in all war and tragedy, life continues. He may have gone too soon but his spirit, music, and legacy still continue. Thanks to her wife Pia and the rest of the Magalonas, the Francis Magalona Foundation was born.

The Francis Magalona Foundation was established to realize in each Filipino a true sense of Filipino pride, personal integrity and a commitment to positive change through awareness campaigns and personal development and skills building programs. Its tagline, Finding a Meaning in every Filipino, is an invitation to every Filipino to ask themselves the significance of their identities as a Filipino. How is it to be a Filipino? How do I promote my pride and identity to the whole world?

Up to this day, I still shed a tear whenever I see the videos of Francis Magalona’s death on YouTube. I may not know him personally but his patriotism was one of my influences. He is somehow responsible for what I am right now.

He may have gone at a young age but what is more important is that he had lived his life with meaning. He has influenced a whole generation. He has inspired many with his music. And with that, he is already immortal.

On the third anniversary of his death, let us remember The Man from Manila who have inspired many by his great music, who have been a good father to his children, who have been a good husband to his wife, and who have been a modern example of Filipino Patriotism.

You may have gone Francis but your legacy of music and patriotism will remain in our minds and hearts forever.

Mabuhay ka at maraming salamat Kiko!

Kickass photo courtesy of scarypet.deviantart.com 

Woman


Tempus fugit. It seems like it was just yesterday when we celebrated Christmas and Single Awareness Day. And now, we are entering the last month of this year’s first quarter. For some, it is just an ordinary month. For the graduating students, it is something to look forward to. And for the beach bums, uhm, the time to get rid of those love handles. (I refuse to do it though. I love my six-pack abs and I cover them with a thick layer of fats for protection.)

“Woman I can hardly express, My mixed emotion at my thoughtlessness, After all I’m forever in your debt, And woman I will try express, My inner feelings and thankfullness, For showing me the meaning of succsess..” 

Today, March 1, we officially start the Women’s Month and the Fire Prevention Month.

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Fire. It creates and destroys. A very powerful element.

During the time of ancient Greece, a philosopher named Heraclitus considered fire as the most fundamental element (urstoff) of the universe. He considered fire as gave rise to the other elements and thus to all things. He saw fire as the element that transforms everything through its flames.

We’ve seen fire’s benefit to mankind. It gives us light and heat. It cooks our raw food. It transforms the most obscure ore into precious gold. But we’ve also seen its wrath and menace. It’s vital and at the same time, dangerous.

“Woman I know you understand The little child inside the man, Please remember my life is in your hands, And woman hold me close to your heart, However, distant don’t keep us apart, After all it is written in the stars..

Woman. Without her, we are nothing. She is the instrument of God’s creating hands to create us human beings by carrying us in her womb for nine months. She’s vital for the survival of the human race.

And just like a fire, she’s dangerous. Her charm and beauty may appear to be frail and enchanting but her real power rests on the inside. And history has seen women with legacy balls more powerful and more influential than men. And up to this day, we still do.

“Woman please let me explain, I never meant to cause you sorrow or pain, So let me tell you again and again and again, I love you. now and forever, I love you..”

I would like to dedicate this lovely anthem from my favorite Beatle, John Lennon, to all the women out there. Our mothers, sisters, friends, fiancees, and to the great women in history who helped shape mankind. Let it be known that although we are (still) living in the society created by men with balls and discrimination against you are still rampant in some parts of the world, your contribution to society and history is priceless. Thank you. And please forgive us.

I may not be the most gentle of all the gentlemen out there (or I maybe not a gentleman at all). I may not be a Knight who will save a damsel in distress. I may not be some cutie patootsie young man idolized by the kids and the tweens with a big banner ‘I Respect Women’ on his blog. but all I have is this simple song, just for you. again, thank you.

Happy women’s month to all the women out there. Grazie mille!

Note: The word art above was originally posted during my first year on Tumblr. It was inspired by a friend when I asked him why women’s month and fire prevention month are both celebrated on March. And he gave me that answer. For my non-Filipino readers, it is (loosely) translated as: ‘Perhaps, women’s month and fire prevention month are both celebrated during the month of March because they are both dangerous and vital for survival’.