Saturday, October 23, 2010

A new theme, 23 October 2010

I'll end a long day with a belated response to what many viewers have said about how (some find) my entries a little difficult to read because of the colors or contrast—or the lack thereof—of the old theme. So I've decided to try out Blogger's new theme offers and change the look of this blog to the current one.

I post to this blog from an Apple machine and I admit to not having tried reading and posting much to here from displays and operating systems other than my own.

This new look is based on Blogger's Watermark theme (with a few tweaks) by Joshua Peterson, whose other theme, Minima, was what I previously used. My header is retained but slightly revised. The main post column of Watermark, meaning, this box with a lighter shade which serves as background to what you are reading, is also slightly wider at 518px than the old one, and the styles are more up to date. I wasn't able to make an image grab of the old look, unfortunately, because of my instantaneous decision.

Anyhow, I notice that the page also loads faster than the old one.The over-all [new] look is somewhat still muted; in fact, it looks more subdued than the old one but hopefully more readable, especially to users on other machines and OS'es.

I haven't gone far enough, in terms of entries, to re-edit image positions and other such customized, manual styling done, which were all based on the previous theme, but I hope to get to that when more time allows for it.

I don't know, but i hope it looks more inviting or easier to read. Currently, I kind of find it too hushed and tame. However, a small change in look wouldn't hurt. I would also just like to make it easy for some readers, who happen to venture to here, to at least stay longer and read, especially since a majority of entries are longer than usual blogs.

This would be the third revision in terms of style and theme used on this blog since I started it three years ago.

Maybe I might find other parts of the blog theme boring tomorrow when the light's better, or when the sun's out. That means I might still do some tweaking here and there.

23 october 2010

EDIT: Activated the "Tabs" function. | 26 October 2010
EDIT: Moved the "popular tags" cloud and other gadget elements to the footer | 01 November 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Unboxing Charice and our traditional archetypes (a 3-part post)


IN JULY 2009, THERE WAS MUCH ADO in the entertainment scene that stemmed from a statement on TV by OPM legend Freddie Aguilar about Charice, Arnel Pineda and other Filipino talents making a name abroad (although specifically addressing a question about Charice), on being famous by imitating—like monkeys...because we don't hold our own,1  said he—Western singers and their styles.

The issue lasted for about a month and has since died a natural death. At its peak, however, the issue dragged other Filipino singers into the scene. Needless to say, it drew all sorts of reactions especially online, and created a real-world gap between followers of the performers mentioned and those who agreed with Aguilar.

It also added a degree of stigma already attached to talents like Charice and Arnel and their respective fan bases and pouring fire into existing heated rivalry specifically between Charice’s fans and of other female singers older than she and whom she'd often been compared with.

To some extent, the issue above was aggravated by online activities participated in by fans across sectors as a consequence of technologies we currently have.

Our preoccupation with fast information and viral issues, and of the marketing and appreciation of talents we see and hear about, has in fact taken a much different approach to the traditional, even if the so-called “traditional” modes still exist, for example, through sleek local talent-search TV productions instantly available with just a click on the remote and a lot of free viewing time, but with minimal focus on the search for real talents.

These technologies, along with the current "traditional" ones like TV and radio, have also changed the way we interact with or react to issues whether they be real or perceived, and have become the defining influences in our choices.

A trichotomy | Like in most developing countries, our reality is living in a world of wide and rigid differences in terms of preferences and prorities.

For instance, we have, on one hand, premium-rate entertainment services and its selective, privileged market, and, on the other, shows on free TV that, like in murky public markets, dispense what its producers think the masses deserve. There simply isn't room for options.

Between both is the broad middle class sector, many of whom help expand the trichotomy having advanced from near-destitution to affording things on demand (thanks to remittances by relatives abroad) and have become consistent spenders on middle-class pleasures.

Charice, who comes from the masses, has made dream-like success look easy and fluid because of YouTube and her undeniable talent to sing cover songs — the big, difficult ones at that, from as early as 7 years old if we take into account her publicized starting age at joining contests.

It is interesting that, having come from a family of modest means herself, many of her detractors whom she actually represents and whose ideals she lives up to are themselves the first to put her down.

This circumstance may have to do with not just the perpetual rich-vs-poor rationale against a third world background but also with complex factors that have to do with the entertainment industry in general in which marketing and sales rule, packaging matters.

On the other hand, if popular belief is to be pursued, events related to Charice may have to fall back to status conflict because it seemed to have happened to her when she, having been a clear choice in the last singing contest she joined on television five years ago, was edged out through what many believed were unfair systems not once but twice, probably even more, of what may have been her only ticket out of poverty in her early teens.

An example is the recent admission of singer-songwriter Jim Paredes on his blog about his judging a special segment of the contest Charice was in and to whom he and his fellow judges apparently gave high scores. He disclosed that they were asked by the contest staff to reconsider their tallies which appeared to have given Charice the score advantage over all the other contestants.

I, in fact, came across a YouTube video of a segment some years ago in which a wide-grinned and visibly amused head-bobbing Jim Paredes was clapping behind the judges’ table to Charice's song-and-dance performance of I Wanna Dance With Somebody. He may have been referring to that particular special segment in which Charice won.

And then there is the legendary grand finals of the same contest in which Charice, having been called back as a "wildcard" contestant, lost.

p.2 Unboxing Charice and our traditional archetypes (a 3-part post)

PART 1, p2 | Previous p1 ] [ Next p3 ]

The Oprah effect | Perhaps the one significant moment that Charice suddenly became more present in the consciousness of the local cable TV market, i.e. the middle and upper-middle classes — and the general public — was her “Oprah moment” (May 2008) despite her being flown to the US to debut on American television by Ellen DeGeneres for her self-titled show the year before.

Charice, then an awed, over-zealous, US TV greenhorn, appeared fumbling for the right words in English in replying to Ellen in her interview. Her performance, however, merited a standing ovation from the audience and Ellen was still taken over by Charice the next day that she couldn’t help but mention and replay a portion of Charice’s previous-day performance. "It's something to be sitting next to that and you could just smell the star on her," she said back in 2007. "You could just smell it."

For the locals, the Ellen Show appearance came and went despite it being one of the most-watched day-time shows not only in America, in part because it was televised months delayed in the Philippines on cable channels, and partly because Oprah is the more motherly, more affectionate host Filipinos are more aware of and had closely identified with; even local talk show celebrities Sharon Cuneta and Kris Aquino were fans of hers and patterned their earlier show formats after hers.

In between the two American shows was another little-known invitation to perform in London at the Paul O’Grady show. Charice’s passport was stolen just before leaving for London, and poor girl made an appeal on TV about it. She was lucky to have been given a replacement and performed on Paul O’Grady flawlessly albeit nervous and seemingly uneasy conversing in English in interviews with him. His audience let the interview pass but noticed her performances enough to give her another standing ovation.

In her Oprah debut, Charice was more candid. Having just arrived in Chicago straight from the Philippines hours into her number, she sang with the same confidence as in Ellen’s, Paul O’Grady’s, StarKing in Korea in 2007 and all other singing contests she had joined in the Philippines. Her audience gave her an ovation midway through her song and Oprah was stunned. "That was fantastic! Who are you!?," she asked and said, "Thank you so much for flying, all day all night, fifteen hours, and come here in such perfect form...".

Charice would later guest four more times on the show.

Do you see what I see? | Surely there was something in Charice that the seasoned entertainment celebrities in the West saw, their audiences felt the first time they laid their eyes on her but which we, the locals, seem to have missed.

p.3 Unboxing Charice and our traditional archetypes (a 3-part post)

PART 1, p3 | [ p1 ] [ Previous p2 ]

“Glee” | Since confirming speculations about her being cast in the Emmy-awarded Glee series in June this year, and up until the recent airing of its second season premiere in which she appeared, Charice was once again attacked from all fronts by Filipinos even as young as 13 on the Internet.

By this time, Facebook and Twitter had taken over the lives of billions and it was easy to use the cloak of anonymity to vent out ire on someone they did not know personally, had not experienced or seen perform live and hadn't done them direct harm.

For the teens, it may be a case of envy because someone like Charice whom they thought they had the right to verbally bully online looked like one of them. They disliked her because they thought she was cocky, which, really, sometimes Charice may unconsciously, unintentionally come across on stage as being.

Maybe she even looks like their arch-nemesis in school for Charice could put on all expressions on her face when singing and this looked weirdly funny it piqued them. Her movements annoyed them, her songs were old-fashioned. Worse, she sang their parents' cheesy, monumental songs like a grown-up.

At 18, Charice hadn’t grown any taller and developed into a svelte enough young lady since she lost in that singing contest to even come physically close to their preferred local or foreign idols.

A local male DJ and gossip show host known for his sweet but curt jabs at people, in a rare, polite moment on TV just a few days ago, voiced out preference for another Filipina (female) singer to be on Glee in Charice’s stead but did not state why. It sounded like a reflection of an industry that sat out through most of Charice's accomplishments in silent envy, a victim of its self-imposed sanctimony.

Perhaps the DJ's preference might have impressed him as more deserving because she had sex appeal that excited him besides her having certified box-office hits to her name. It didn’t matter how his choice sang, or, to many, how Charice could outsing most every one else with ease. In fact, it didn’t occur to many of Charice’s detractors what Glee’s co-creator was looking out for in the first place.

Their role was to get into the kind of prejudice they knew of that has existed in the consciousness of Filipinos for generations. Meanwhile, most everyone else with little or no access to news about Charice, save for mentions on local gossip shows and magazines, rendered quick judgment on her and they judged superficially they failed to even see the unique nuances of her versions of songs of others.

A well-managed lung power | Thank god for authoritative Hollywood godmothers and godfathers, Charice was taken seriously as a singer.

Monday, August 9, 2010

08-09-10, anyone?

Not for anything special, phenomenal or otherwise, but just a note and an homage to today, August 9, 2010, otherwise known as:

and to the awesome but hefty (download size is a mere 130mb+), power-hungry DropClock screensaver created by SCR, a "creative label of" interactive designers tha ltd. I came upon in April 2008.

DropClock is free to try—or US$15 for the license—and also available for Windows (power Windows users, rejoice!) and Mac's Snow Leopard.

Had fun doing today's calendar version of DropClock that I am cross-posting this to my other blogs.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Five Sundays in August 2010 and other finds in the birthday month

First of August Sunday morning blog.

My mother read to me an SMS message the other day which said something about August 2010 as having "...5 Sundays, 5 Mondays and 5 Tuesdays" and that "this won't happen again in another 823 years".

I checked the wall calendar and fired up my calendar in the Dashboard, scrolled through all the months of 2010 out of curiosity and found out three other 5-day combinations-in-a-month. These are:

  • May 2010 with 5 Saturdays, 5 Sundays and 5 Mondays
  • July 2010 with 5 Thursdays, 5 Fridays and 5 Saturdays, and
  • December with 5 Wednesdays, 5 Thursdays and 5 Fridays
So I guess August and May 2010 are special to others because it has 5 Sundays, Sunday being a sacred day to most Christians as it is a "day of obligation," meaning, the Christian world takes a rest from all worldly obligations to give of themselves to THAT day of Obligation—to worship, ask for forgiveness and give thanks.

While looking for more information on this supposed phenomenon, I came upon entries about August 2009, which, on the other hand, had 5 Saturdays, 5 Sundays and 5 Mondays just like what May 2010 had (both occurrences escaped my attention).

In 1187, or 823 years ago, the Gregorian calendar hadn't existed yet (it was introduced in 1582) so there was no ado about this strange happenstance.

I haven't come across any other reference about it happening in 823 years interval, but I guess it means the next Sunday-Monday-Tuesday combination in 28331 will be referencing this year's, unless the Gregorian calendar is changed to something else that befits the future. I don't know.

It's something to think about over late-morning breakfast coffee.

1The year should have been 2832 as pointed out by reader Matt in the comments below. Thanks, Matt. 
Image, top: Georges Seurat, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte mug from
Calendar images grabbed from my Dashboard, added 04 August 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

K-pop, etc.: A coolsmurf Q&A

"coolsmurf" is someone's internet alias that has quite a following among Asian pop music enthusiasts, specifically of contemporary Korean music known as K-pop. As a university student, his turf was YouTube and, as avid blogger, was often credited as source of information, photos and even of videos of  K-pop related matters, by users of online forums since about 2007.

"coolsmurf" is one of two people who were key to the spread of videos that became very popular, of teen singer Charice Pempengco's, particularly of her translated and subtitled first appearance in Korea's Star King variety show in 2007 which "coolsmurf" uploaded to his YouTube channel in the same year. (The other key person being Filipino "FalseVoice," whose name appears on the liner notes of Charice's eponymous debut album1 and who uploaded videos of her Little Big Star competition videos, among others.)

"coolsmurf"'s video upload of Charice's first appearance in Star King eventually got the attention of American talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who, in turn, extended the momentous invitation on television for Charice to guest and sing live on the Ellen show and, subsequently, of Oprah Winfrey's staff in their search for talents for her program's recurring World's Most Talented Kids segment. Because of  "coolsmurf's" and "FalseVoice's" videos, the rest, as they say, is pop music history.

A bit more of "coolsmurf"

"coolsmurf" is Alvin Lim, out of university and now, fittingly, Content Editor of the popular site It was a pleasure exchanging emails with "coolsmurf," and I would like to thank him for his permission to share our Q and A below:

K: What country are you from?
Alvin Lim (coolsmurf): Singapore.

K: When did you start getting interested in K-pop and why?
AL: I was exposed to K-Pop earlier on with Lee Jung Hyun because Hong Kong singer Sammi Cheng used her songs to sing in Cantonese. But it was not until when I watched Princess Hours starring Yoon Eun Hye and that led to me watching her variety show, Xman, which in turn led me to discover Kim Jong Kook and from then on, I was hooked onto K-pop.

K: What was in the Star King segment where Charice appeared that appealed to you enough to sub it and upload (or, was this something you regularly did with all other K-pop related videos in your free time back then)?
AL: I did regular subbing of shows back then. Primarily for Xman and interesting clips. Then a Super Junior fan suggested for me to take a look at this young girl belting out tunes. I didn't think much at first, but when I saw her singing And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going, it just felt like I was there in person even if I wasn't. It was just sensational.

Charice's entrance on Star King episode (2007) singing "And I Am Telling You (I'm Not Going)". Note coolsmurf's English subtitle (bottom of image) and chicklet below the TV station ID "SBS" (right-hand corner).
Duet with Super Junior's Kyu Hyun in the same episode from coolsmurf's defunct YouTube channel.

K: Would you still remember exactly when you uploaded that segment?
AL: It was two weeks after it had aired in Korea.

K: What was your process like, i.e., did you upload as soon as the show was over or did it take days/weeks?
AL: I got the request about a week after the show. Then it took me half a day to complete and upload. Pity it got killed by YouTube at 5million hits and counting due to SBS strict copyright laws (which it had the right to do, of course).

K: I read that you are with as Content Editor, and I am wondering if that's correct. (I did read in your last entries at the "coolsmurf" blog that you were scouting for a job last year, and I am curious as to what came of that.)
AL: Yes. No one offered me a job other than that.

K: I read about your videos as being popular on a "UCC" channel but I am lost in my search concerning that. Is it still active and to what market does it cater?
AL: UCC channel refers to user-created content. It's just a common term to coin video sharing websites in Korea like Daum, Naver, Tagstory, Egloos, etc. YouTube is of course the No.1 website of this kind in the world.

K: Were you aware of the impact your uploads would have given Charice back then?
AL: I wasn't aware. I just did the request for a Super Junior fan who wanted to understand the whole segment. But I guess the Super Junior factor + Charice can really sing + English subs just made it popular in the world.

K: How big do you think is K-pop as a music influence in Southeast Asia? [i.e. Korean drama series are big here in the Philippines and a few make it on radio (i.e. Wonder Girls, Super Junior) but not any bigger than Korean TV actors and actresses, in my opinion, because of their daily exposure...]
AL: It's hard for music to become a big influence outside of their fans because of the short attention span of people these days. Dramas play longer than 3-5 mins of a single song, so that's why people can identify with them more easily. It's also easier to market dramas, movies than music. It's more of selling the image over music these days in Korea even though the latter is still crucial.

K: Who were the Filipino musicians who you were aware of before Charice, and who do you know today? How about [musicians] in your country [who you follow]?
AL: My knowledge is strictly limited in this area. The only one I knew of, and [still know] now is Regine Velasquez because she sang a duet with Hong Kong singer Jacky Cheung before. There isn't much of a following for me in Singapore because of the lack of interest.

K: Charice returned to Star King, as you know, which will be aired in Korea in 3 days2. Do you think that in those years since she appeared, that she had a good following among Koreans before this latest guesting on the show again?
AL: Yes, she has a good following because of her talent and she didn't just come back for the 3rd time on Star King for nothing!

K: With her US career building up, would you say those who follow her in Korea took her seriously as a musician (before today, that is)?
AL: Yes, because she is recognized for her vocals.

K: How do you feel about her as an Asian making it in America, and do you think she really helps in giving other Asians the opportunity she has?
AL: It's great to see that happening and it just gives people hope that dreams do come true in some cases.
Alvin Lim, aka "coolsmurf," (second from left, standing) with Charice (seated, left) and her followers. [Used with permission]
K: I saw that you and Charice did meet in Singapore [in December 20093]. Other than that, though, did you ever get to see her in person before?
AL: That was the one and only time. And it might just stay that way.

1"Charice," the album, peaked at #8 on the Billboard charts when it was released in May 2010.
2The Star King episode was telecast on SBS channel in Korea on 24 July 2010.
3At the finals night of Singapore Idol in which Charice was special guest.


Some notes on subbed YouTube videos, YouTube phenomena

coolsmurf—Alvin, rather—mentioned in the Q & A above that besides the presence of [members of] Super Junior and Charice's singing, that his translation and subbed videos helped make this particular segment popular among viewers outside the K-pop environment since it first appeared on his YouTube channel.

Since then, many of Charice's appearances in many countries, particularly of those in the Philippines that have been recorded and uploaded to YouTube, continue to be translated and subbed specifically targeting English-speaking viewers such as those seen on the channels tmgtw, tmgtwASIA and tmgtworld. These channels are maintained and operated by a loose but dedicated subb'ing group of YouTube users from Asia (the Philippines/Southeast Asia, Japan, Korea), the U.S. and Canada, and Europe (i.e. Germany) collectively known as the "CTV Crew"a.

Similar to what "coolsmurf" and other music/celebrity aficionados had started on sites like YouTube, and with newer, faster technologies that provide users the chance to communicate and exchange notes and information across boundaries, translated videos continue to thrive on YouTube and in many other video sharing sites as well. Most of these types of videos are without the prodding of the featured musicians or celebrities, but were created out of personal or group interest, or from a fan request, or as alternative way of promotion by interest-specific groups. Not all of these types of videos have become as popular as that of  "coolsmurf"'s , nor taken on a true viral status as videos with funny or unusual subjects.

It's a perpetual cat-and-mouse game that these subbed "uploaders" continually dodge, specially with regards copyright complaints and such, as what also happened to "FalseVoice"'s YouTube accounts when the Philippine network ABS-CBN appealed to have his channels banned despite soaring viewership count, or they—the "uploaders" and channel owners—being collectively instrumental in even more doubling the number of YouTube viewers and users daily.

Where it once once the playground of unknown film and video enthusiasts consisting of casual viewers, video addicts, musicians and amateur and professional film creators, today, part of what makes up the phenomenon of YouTube being well ahead of all other sites of similar nature is hosting the entertainment industry's biggest networks, celebrity shows and film outfits which use it as a public repository of their video catalogues.

It's amusing how, in the continuous evolution of these sites, particularly of YouTube, the very entities that were sources of uploads and who appealed for the banning of YouTube's anonymous users for copyright infringement are themselves very active YouTube account holders today, and, as I have observed in some cases in the Philippines, ironically use YouTube clips in network news or feature segments, albeit not all of them giving the video or channel owners due credit.

Anyhow, Charice is just one of many talents who have come out and became success stories in themselves because of YouTube (Arnel Pineda is another Filipino singer who credits the site for his success; and, not to forget, Justin Bieber and Susan Boyle). Because of this, many more, from non-English speaking countries, even, will wish to follow in their footsteps by doing it on the internet, one viewer click, one translated and subbed video at a time.

a"...collectively known as CTV Crew." is an updated entry, 01 Aug 2010.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cats in Manila

I AM MORE OF A MUSIC ENTHUSIAST and do not consider myself much of a film collector as much as I am of audio titles and books. I do own a few film titles, the ratio probably being 1 film/video for every 25 audio discs, a few of these musical and film soundtracks.

Embarrassing as it may sound, one of the first original videos I ever bought was when the short-lived Blockbuster video store on Matalino Street near our old dojo made the double-disc, 2-hour Cats, The Musical VCD available, something I considered quite pricey at the time, but well worth the purchase. (The video, directed by David Mallet, was shot "over 18 days" at the Adelphi Theatre in London's West End; the play, accompanied by a 70-piece orchestra.)

By its very genre, Cats, being a musical, fulfilled me both aurally and visually and fit right into my other collection of soundtracks and videos.

VCD, book and Mouser captured on Moleskine

When Cats, The Musical opened in Broadway in the early 80s, the buzz surrounding it reached Manila and developed somewhat of a cult following among some of my peers in college who were in theater. When the production was given due recognition after winning both the Laurence Olivier (1981) and Tony (1983) Awards for Best Musical, we had spent many a downtime chats about mounting our own version of it at some point (something, I am sure, we shared with several other campus theater groups at the time and with many other theater companies since Cats, The Musical came into being). We had no idea what the costs were like and we didn't care. Just thinking of who was cast and who were perfect for certain roles from among friends and familiar theater names stirred our imagination no end.

Owing to reviews of the musical I had read at some point back in college and listening to a friend's original cast recording of the Broadway soundtrack on CD (Grammy-Best Musical Show Album/1984), and the video I purchased much later, I did dream of being able to actually watch it live either in Broadway or West End. It was one of those "must do" activities I would have done as a visitor had I the chance to go to either of those places.

Original Cats West End window card (Dewynters/1981)
And the poster, yes! The first time I saw a reproduction of its poster in a magazine, I was completely gripped by the minimalist layout, and, in particular, the cat's eyes with dancers' silhouettes as pupils. Designed in 1981 by Dewynters, now First Artist Corporation PLC which also did Les Miserable, Phantom of the Opera and many other West End production advertising, the poster imagery was so strong that it remains fresh and timeless even to this day and is, no doubt, one of the most iconic visual images of the 20th century.

T.S. Eliot and cats
In my book-hunting escapades in the early 90s, I came across a copy of T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats [Illustrated Edition-Harvest/HBJ Books, 1982], the book on which the musical was based. Profusely illustrated by the great Edward Gorey [1], it was a real treat to have the sole copy priced at P2.50.

I love T.S. Eliot's play of words and imagination, something which, if one were unfamiliar, may seem wild but are actually accurate, sometimes dark, but over-all humane and humanistic representations of feline characteristics; also, of the funny descriptions of perceived cat inter-actions. The book was an even better read with the pen-and-ink drawings of the very imaginative Edward Gorey.

Needless to say, T.S. Eliot, since being introduced through a book from the high school library, is a favorite, one of the few poets I actually read. Like many excellent works of literature, my appreciation of his works deepened over time and was made even more special when a very good friend wrote The Hollow Men on a poster she gave me as a gift years ago. The Hollow Men still stands as one of my favorite pieces.

It also happens that we have lived with generations of feline companions almost all our lives. Each of our cats had a back story (the ones we have still do), a name they respond to, and a distinct identity—we have a mental family tree of all our cats, by the way—that my sister and I have learned   "cat psychology" (we coined that for fun) to explain certain cat behaviors and identities to friends and acquaintances who were constantly curious about them.

We did have our Rum Tum Tigers, Our Grizabellas (Derby, JaJa, Mysteriously Mystifying Ms. T, and her kit, Ms. M), our Bustopher Joneses and our Deuteronomys, Black Cat and George. Yes, our cats were all well represented in T.S. Eliot's feline world.

But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name

~ The Naming of Cats, T.S. Eliot

Near Impossible
Cats, The Musical sadly ended its run at the turn of this century—it closed in Broadway in 2000 after 18 years; London in 2002 after 21—dashing my hope of ever seeing it live in either of those venues and as they were originally staged.

Because of the cost of mounting a production like Cats, The Musical, a major, professional staging in the Philippines as Webber and Mackintosh had intended it was near impossible at that time, or since. It's been quoted that Andrew Lloyd Weber's Really Useful Group spent $5M to mount the Broadway production in 1982.

(If I recall correctly, the costliest Philippine musical production ever staged locally was S.K. Productions' Rama at Sita in 1999 at the UP Diliman Theater. It was said S.K. Productions' generosity resulted in spending for necessary upgrades of many of the venue's facilities for the first time since its construction, i.e. the orchestra pit, hydraulic lift and dressing rooms, among others.)

Anyhow, of all the re-staged hit plays and musicals in Broadway or West End that were ever mounted in full in the Philippines, it was Cats that was missing big time.

Cats in Manila: at last
Fast forward to 2010 and Manila will finally be able to experience Cats (Now and Forever)-The Musical with no less than Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awardee Lea Salonga as Grizabella (done originally by the great Elaine Paige/London and Betty Buckley/Broadway).
[Watch Elaine Paige's rendition of the song "Memory" here and about the character here (starting at 1:17).]

Lea Salonga sings Memory at the Cats (Now and Forever) launch, Nov09
[courtesy of Cats in Manila]
First announced in November 2009, Cats (Now and Forever)-The Musical, Manila will start its limited run on 24 July 2010 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). And since Cats (Now and Forever) is basically an ensemble production, Lea will be supported by an international cast, notably theater actors from the UK and Australia, as well as select Filipino thespians. I didn't catch what orchestra will be accompanying the production, though, or who the other cast members will be.

(inclusive of 3% service charge)
SAT (3:00 pm) / SUN (2:30 pm)
PhP 7,210/ 5,150/ 3,605/ 2,060/ 1,030
TUE (8:00 pm) / WED (8:00 pm)
THU (8:00PM) / SUN (7:30PM)
PhP 6,180/ 4,635/ 3,090/ 1,545/ 772.50
FRI (8:00 pm) / SAT (8:00 pm)
PhP 7,210/ 5,150/ 3,605/ 2,060/ 1,030

The last time I saw Lea on stage was in Miss Saigon also at the CCP in 2000—yes, that long ago yet. Before that, I caught Grease at the UP Theater (1994) in which she played "Sandy". I remember her playing that role perfectly despite the venue being ill-equipped acoustically that, on the night I saw it, the rain outside almost upstaged the audio in the theater several times.

In recent years, I'd caught her briefly and occasionally on TV in noontime variety shows or televised specials.

It is, therefore, interesting to watch Lea on stage again, definitely more mature this time, and in the footsteps of legends. Quite a contrast to when she played "Kim" as a teenager, the role which won for her the Tony and other awards and set the standard by which all other "Kim"s are expected to uphold in the succeeding runs of Miss Saigon.

And to see the costumes, the junkyard set, the lighting, music and choreography—I am looking forward to seeing all those. Finally, in Manila. At last.

  • Cats (Now and Forever) the Musical will run at the CCP Main Theater until 15 August, 2010.
  • Presented by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions Ltd. and David Atkins Enterprises
  • Produced by Citi in association with The Really Useful Group.
  • More details can be read at its Facebook page and at its official Tumblr blog.
  • Tickets at Ticketworld, and from its outletsNBS Shangri-La Plaza, Market Market Extension, North Edsa, Harrison Plaza, Glorietta 5 / Robinsons Department Stores / Ayala Malls Greenbelt 1, Glorietta 5, TriNoma 4th Floor /  CCP Box Office / Music Museum, Teatrino Promenade (Greenhills) / GRAND SQUARE STADIUM, Sta. Rosa, Laguna / TicketWorld Head, Suite 701, V. Madrigal Bldg. 6793 Ayala Ave., 1226 Makati City Telephone: 891-9999 TicketWorld Website  
  • Online purchase using your VISA, JCB or Master Card credit cards.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


TONIGHT, I CAN SAY THAT I FINALLY HEARD what I can genuinely call music to my ears.

Earlier, a little past 10 p.m. I'd say, in the middle of a late-night, weekend project discussion, came a few bars of the chorus of "Pyramid" coming from the living room. Curious as to what channel the TV set was on, I stood up from where I sat to check.

To my surprise, it was a promotional clip of mostly GMA-7's prime time shows. For a split second there I thought my mother had shifted channels. Throughout what looked like a 30-second video was the chorus of "Pyramid" as sound bed.

An OTA War
You might be wondering why this 30-second experience is a most welcome breath of fresh over-the-air air.

The Filipino public has been subject to a war waged OTA for a couple of decades now, considering that the television industry is dominated by just two—TWO—networks vying for the viewership of 13 million or so households.

Like any war, the broadcast version is not at all pretty. The Filipinos' obsession with watching television average about 200 minutes daily, second only to the Japanese*. This results in a live spectacle of nasty word wars, say, between program hosts on television, which can be ugly especially on each network's other talents who, by choice or circumstance, simply report for work to do their job properly and without prejudice, yet get caught in the middle of the crossfire, later to discover their reputations besmirched in public without their knowing it.

Otherwise, when talents are identified with one network, the other network will simply refuse to give (or choose to ignore) any sort of recognition due that talent no matter the achievement he or she may have brought not just to their persons but to society.

There are exceptions, of course, like the boxer Manny Pacquiao who once allowed himself to get caught in the middle of the conflict between the top two networks (with regards to contract and airtime), nearly disrupting his preparations for a major fight; or Kris Aquino who, anyway, seems to be untouchable and "un"-criticizable despite her erratic public behavior and presumptuous ways.

The other exception is when talents, in general, are the meat of scandals, thereby making them open to unwanted airtime and unnecessary babble on both networks.

That 30-second audio clip

Why, then, does this 30-second clip smell like some kind of victory?

Charice (Charice Pempengco), the talent behind the current pop and catchy song "Pyramid", has been so synonymous with ABS-CBN particularly in the past 3 years—the equivalent amount of time she has since logged in flying from time zone to time zone to sing in venues no Filipino artist has gone to before—that the rival network, GMA-7 has chosen to simply squeak news about her. Rare is a better term for it, and in those rare moments, she merits about 30 seconds of mention (perhaps even lesser) that when you blink, you miss the story altogether.

I guess the fault does not always lie with the announcer but with management.

Anyhow, I've always wondered why that was when either networks easily stretch time in the form of entertainment news (good and bad), gossip, or both—all in the guise of some kind of enlightened talk—about other talents from both sides anyway.

Not to sound naive about how networks engage in a war over ratings and viewership, but when it comes to Charice, I have so far observed that one network drumbeats, the other almost zips its mouth shut.

I guess because the purported "mother network," ABS-CBN, drumbeats, the other is inclined to simply ignore good news only to be chatty when it comes to unfounded negative topics, like alleged issues about Charice's mother or family and such.

Her triumphs as a Filipino talent invited to grace international venues, sing and collaborate with distinguished artists abroad and bestowed with support she never really had to pull strings for, all within a short period of time, is a feat never been accomplished by anyone at her age. (She just turned 18.)

Haven't we been all looking for the next Lea Salonga or similar other artists of calibre before her like the jazz singer Marlene de la Peña, she of superstar status in Japan since the late 70's with about 30 albums to her name, and Pilita Corrales, "Asia's Queen of Songs" and first Filipino artist to sing at the Ceasar's Palace in Las Vegas Nevada?

We've heard about how Filipinos through the years have tried, with a lot of heartbreak and misfortunes, to break into the western music industry, and not many of them making it quite successfully as the names above have. There have been sad stories of how fellow Filipinos in the US have taken advantage of homegrown talents, thereafter crushing their hopes of even opening a show as a result of deceit or mismanagement.

What's admirable about Charice is how she, at pre-legal age, has maintained composure and propriety throughout what can be considered more than a big deal: she has kept the trust and confidence of the very influential Oprah Winfrey who, just by her guts, gambled on a talent—at that time unknown and, more seriously, foreign and not very articulate in English—and helped open up opportunities only dreamt of by any other artist, both established and unknown.

Contrast this to what may have been an earlier manifestation of a Charice in the person of Jocelyn "Banig" Roberto, so far the only homegrown singer to have ever won the International Star Search contest in the US and got the whole local industry excited in the 80s when her talent was recognized in the US and actually made several appearances on American television, sang the American anthem in the NBA and recorded an album.

While their early career paths are strikingly similar, their personal lives are lived differently. For one, "Banig" has stayed in the US for good (she now writes songs for other artists), while Charice has chosen to keep her Philippine passport and call her country of origin her home and instead travel abroad for commitments. She is not any different from other overseas Filipino workers in that sense except that she is, so far, the youngest of them.

Handling "luck" in a tug-of-war
Charice has handled her "luck" very well so far despite what is an apparent wait-and-see attitude among her own fellowmen back home, particularly in the industry she's from: "wait" for what comes next, and "see" how well she handles her rising fame, perhaps even to the point of wishing her some degree of failure. It is an unpleasant thought, but it's a fact.

Even Charice's most loyal followers, those who have supported her from her contest days as a child, are of the opinion that she gets the raw deal even from the very network she is attached with, ABS-CBN: bad make-up, bad wardrobe, bad audio, or that she simply gets cut off in the middle of a phrase or line while singing. She was also once labeled bratty for coming in late to the very noontime show she comes home to after arriving from abroad just hours before, and in the process attracting all kinds of unsolicited advise from talents across networks, on radio and in the papers about being "professional" and "staying humble".

Probably the worse accusation this young singer got, along with another artist who has had an international break, Arnel Pineda, is being labeled nothing but copycats and likened to monkeys (perhaps a circus monkey is what was meant) by no less than Freddie Aguilar on television. Another is when Charice was insinuated to have lied through her teeth in a newspaper column by a noontime host on GMA-7 when she said in a taped interview aired on ABS-CBN that she would have been part of the Michael Jackson UK tour had it not been for his untimely death. Both these incidents happened in 2009 just weeks from each other.

Still, Charice has taken these negative comments and prejudgment all in stride. Surely she must have hurt but never once did show it publicly. I suppose there is never a bigger ball thrown around the network gossip mills than the diminutive Charice particularly in the past 3 years.

Conciliation is music to the ears
Sometime in the last quarter of 2009, I thought heard the strains of Charice's earlier US-release single, "Note To God", played briefly on GMA-7's Eat Bulaga just before commercial break. A singing contest for kids in said the program was being held at that time, and surely my ears were not mistaken about getting the somg right. Perhaps the show's spinner got the chance to sneak in the audio in the hope of getting away with it. After all, the single had just been released in the US and merited Charice a slot at the top 10 on the iTunes store, a first for a Filipino artist. Had the spinner gotten the green light from management to play the song, however, would have been a sign of a good sport.

Therefore, when I heard the chorus of "Pyramid" played on GMA-7's program promo clip last night, I thought it was, at last, an extended hand of conciliation. It did not matter that it was but a snippet of the song. What matters is that petty rivalries are set aside, even for brief moments.

Thing is, I do not expect Charice to even be allowed (by her network) or be invited to promote her first international album live on other networks other than that which she calls her home (ABS-CBN may just be too possessive to share the talent it once wrote off as "not having enough star power". Her consolation is that she happens to have very sincere supporters in her home network, even in the times when her star power was still dormant), though to be proven wrong would be the best sign of "unity" the broadcast industry would ever show publicly. That would be such sweet music to the ears.

Postscript: Grateful and a wild album launch grind
Charice had just turned 18 on May 10. In the 3 years she's been flying in and out of the Philippines, she has worked her lungs out in engagements and schedules that do not even come close to a diplomat's. She'll sing and give it her all in spite of a bad cold; she'll dance to please despite fatigue. She deserves to be recognized for her hard work at her age and, more importantly, congratulated for standing in as the other parent-provider of her family while maintaining the time to savor teenage life and just be herself.

Filipinos are wont to handle rags-to-riches situations badly. Charice is the type of singer whom many will love AND hate, yet how many can lay claim to the achievements she has had so far? How many can genuinely say that they have taken care of their good luck and fame to not let these slip away too soon? How many can really handle their dreams coming true in such a short time?

Charice celebrating her 18th with kids from World Vision in lieu of a debut party.
[IMAGE: Michael Varcas from manila_bulletin account/twitpic]

Charice's self-titled album was released worldwide a few days ago, and has since established records that put the Philippines on the international music map: landing at no. 8 on Billboard's top 200 in the week ending May 16, 2010. Before that, the carrier single's "Pyramid" remixed versions have topped the UK dance charts in late April and scored high rankings in Europe as well.

Prior to coming home to celebrate her birthday with underprivileged children belatedly on May 22nd, she was in about 5 key US states to promote her album, opening with a 5th appearance on the Oprah show in Chicago on May 11, a day after her birthday, and ending on a high, profound note with performances for the annual Power Of A Dream gala in Washington D.C., where influential members of the entertainment, civic and political arenas in America were in attendance.

In Manila, she launches her album tomorrow, May 23rd, then flies to Japan to record for Warner (Japan), after which she goes back to the US and Canada to do more promotions and fulfill commitments in June and July.

Charice is fortunate to have all of these coming at a young age when her active body can hack upside-down weather conditions and killer schedules and still get to experience being celebrated by fellow Asians in Asia, Filipinos abroad and by foreign audience for her successes.

We were given one chance at giving Charice a break when she sought for it but we missed, and I guess all we can do to give back is wish her all the best, as we should do each other every time.

I see her always being grateful for our support and doesn't seem to demand for much more.

It's not too much to ask, is it?

"CHARICE" the album is now available in music Philippine stores (CDs) and online.
The "Pyramid" remixes are available from iTunes as downloads

*data from the Nationwide Urban Television Audience Measurement (NUTAM) and the Asia Television Advertising Coalition (ATAC)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Just the second time in 4 elections since 1986
that my index finger was stained with
indelible ink. Let's see how long it will stay.


As of 10 pm today, May 10, 2010, the "partial, unofficial" results reported by networks show Benigno Aquino III leading the presidential race, followed by former president Joseph Estrada, once ousted for plunder,  judged guilty not by the Senate tasked to look into his alleged wrong doings (e.g. coddling family and favored friends, for instance) but by a popular uprising he refers to as a revolt of the rich and the few.

For vice president, Jejomar Binay leads. Coming into power as the late Pres. Cory Aquino's appointed officer-in-charge of Makati immeditalely after EDSA, Binay had since been running the city alternately with his wife for the past 20 years.

The 12 slots for the Senate are filled by actors and politicians whose names and faces had done the rounds once before, not all of whom did anything significant and meaningful towards the upliftment of the lives of the 50 million or so Filipinos in terms of laws that firmly put in place their rights and privileges, strengthen institutions and benefit society at large.

Change, "pagbabago", is the most used, most abused word throughout the campaign season. All candidates wore a badge that screamed "pagbabago!", short of having this badge enlarged such as to make it look like a speech bubble stuck to their heads wherever they went, in case anybody missed it.

Change! they screamed. Change from our current situation, they say, of widespread poverty and corruption. How that would be, however, was lost on many of them because it did not matter how  change could be achieved. It mattered more that they said it the loudest, the most frequent, the angriest. "Change" became, to me, the promise that weighed the most, yet, little by little, transformed into the most hollow.

Change! For a Filipino public that they say has matured, grown tired of corruption. Change! For the Filipino hungry for new leadership! Change! Towards a path of a better tomorrow.

In the weeks before election day, surveys upon surveys showed that, for the Senatorial slots for instance, the popular names were constantly topping the lists; popular names of actors and scions of politicians who themselves were not [known to be] agents of change. Back then were glimmers of hope, however, albeit hidden in the pockets and linings of robes that, on the outside looked crisp and untainted but were actually reused or recycled rags sewn together haphazardly.

As election results are becoming apparent, the face of what will become the next Philippine government is slowly revealing itself as being too familiar for comfort. The surprise in all of this is not that our collective hopes for real change was to be realized promptly, with a little help from technology, but that the nightmares of the past we thought we had buried are coming together taking a life of its own.

Change? Wait, where are the agents of change? They're there, midway down in the list of candidates as voted by the "mature" Filipino voters hungry for a new leadership that will lead them to the path of a "better tomorrow". Yes, the "mature" Filipino voter slung by mud or thrown into the slime with the candidates throughout the campaign, no thanks to the power of media and its mouthpieces.

Anyway, who did they kid?

The "only" mature thing the Filipino voter did in the last 24 hours was to trust an unknown system, prepare their journey to the polls armed with a lot of patience and brave the unforgiving heat, some goons and a lot of glitches. For that, they, and all election volunteers and workers, are to be commended.

(continue reading here)

[This topic is related to the Philippine elections. All my election-related posts can be read on my other blog,]

Sunday, May 9, 2010

IN ILOCANO, AS IN MANY PHILIPPINE LANGUAGES, "trapo" means rag. And, like many words integrated into the myriad of Philippine languages, its origin is Spanish, meaning cloth, dust cloth, cleaning cloth, rag. In the local context, "trapo" sometimes means a very dirty, almost useless piece of cloth not even fit for cleaning: a throw-away.

Hence, during the Marcos era, politicians subservient to the dictator and his cronies, who consented to suppression and chose to keep their mouths shut for fear of reprisal, or simply coasted along, with similar-minded politicians, to live life comfortably and without risk despite widespread repression and lack of freedom for the general public, were called "trapo" by their critics, the media and citizens who saw things and led life differently. A traditional politician, in other words.

"Trapo" is a shorter form for the earlier name-call "tradpol" like tadpole, i.e. legless, mindless baby amphibians squiggling aimlessly in murky waters. My guess is, those who later coined the word "trapo" saw the term more appropriate for the traditional (and "traditionally corrupt") politico, and in deference to the aquatic larvae, which, in later stages of its development, are actually helpful to our survival as humans.

Trapo, the political name-call, has outlived Marcos and is very much in use today. It not only includes politicians identified with Marcos but politicians of all ages and affiliations who belong or are perceived to condone the status quo.

The trapo is not expected to have an open mind or risk their social and ideological positions. They are believed to be exclusive (as opposed to being inclusive), are neither adaptive nor progressive. They are the "same old-same old", "been there done that" bench-warming, grandstanding public servants content with the "old ways" of doing things. They are the political godfathers and patriarchs who bequeath their positions in government to their descendants or whose progeny audaciously await such inheritance.
(continue reading here)

[This topic is related to the Philippine elections. All my election-related posts can be read on my other blog,]

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Blogger/Blogspot [still] has backend image upload problems (5 days after report)

I posted (to my Blogspot blog a few minutes ago), of an entry that took all day to finish only to discover that Blogger/Blogspot had been having troubles with uploaded images in what it calls "image backend problems" since late March 2010.

[NOTE: if you do not see the image below, it's probably because the problem still is still unresolved as of this post]

Blogspot support post

No, it hasn't been resolved and I did post to Blogger's support forum just before this [Posterous] Blogspot entry, thus:
"Posted an entry a few minutes ago and did a work-around:

uploading the image to a 3rd-party image hosting site from Blogspot's image source, then linking the image from the 3rd-party site into the post in the hope of circumventing Blogspot's "backend" problem but I still got a blank space where the image is supposed to be.

Otherwise, all other images and videos in older posts appear fine.

Hope the problem is resolved very soon."


Good Friday

It's sunny and quiet this afternoon.

"Quiet" is relative. Occasionally, the sound of a tricycle's motor breaks the lazy, afternoon peace. The second hum of a plane above is fading away, a car passes at intervals. The only consistent noise is from the chirping of the birds above me in the yard, about three types of birds busy chattering the day away. I wonder, I've been missing the mockingbirds swooping down our cats. They've been absent, to my knowledge, for some two weeks now. And yes, the cats--Poochoot and Chingkwit are talking to each other just moments ago, wondering why I am where I am, between the Marcos mango and MJB lanzones trees.

I'm hoping by changing my location this afternoon, I am able to savor the peace, be one with birds chirping and, like them, catch some breeze. I'm using Writeroom for this, too. I haven't used this app for some time and today seems to be the best time for it. There's some getting used to writing on Writeroom, like the cursor placement, for instance. Otherwise, it's fine for days like these.

Unlike most people, like my relatives in the compound, we pretty much spend the Holy Week at home. It's actually something I look forward to. In the past years, though, the anticipation was mixed with anxiety especially because we had very little neighbors nearby and theft was prevalent on these types of breaks (the others being All Saints' Day and Christmas breaks).

This time of year, we would usually have Rudy, the extra hand, come around to help clean the garden. Rudy is now employed by the chapel a block away and can only spare time very rarely. If he wasn't around, the garden activity would be shared by my mother and I. This time, there's very little room for even a decent home clean-up because of deadlines that have piled up which I hope to tackle soon.


When I turned off the computer at 1 a.m. today (Good Friday), the last thought I had was to not turn it on and just try to spend all Friday doing the usual stuff. Well, to "try to stay away from the computer", at least. Guess again.

Anyhow, it was an unbearable heat as 3pm approached. I maxed out what's left of the single-digit battery life and put the computer to sleep about an hour ago.

My grandmother always said that it will always be hottest at 3pm of Good Friday and she is almost always correct. ([Folk] Catholic) traditionalists equate this to a mortal's sacrifice which, by comparison, is miniscule to Christ's crucifixion.

For some reason or other, 3pm on Good Friday really is HOT, apparently more so because everywhere — whether in the city or in the provinces — is still. It's somewhat of a magic hour and the heat that envelopes around 3pm becomes mystical in that way.

In about an hour from now, I anticipate the neighborhood to 'come to life' as it were, and everywhere else within my radius will be back to business. Proof of this is the chatter emanating from our adjacent lot neighbor, newly moved-in and excited with what my 'hood has to offer.

Last night, Maundy Thursday, was like another ordinary evening for them. Anyway, I gave them that as I saw no reason to be grouchy on Holy Week and be the unwelcoming neighbor.


The changes in my neighborhood are not at all gradual.

We'd normally hear the faint, fleeting pabasa (the chanting of the Passion of Christ by devotees) from somewhere on cooler, still evenings like last night's. Last night, the local cheap bar a few blocks away was in operation and their patrons, torch singing their lungs out to the heavens, seem to have vowed to be the counterpart of Christ's scourges.

Another seeming unbeliever was the night guard on duty just by our gate, he with his radio and copious singing confidence who thought the quiet neighborhood he was tasked to watch over was his stage. Perhaps he was encouraged by the racket of my new neighbors. Perhaps he thought everyone else had escaped the city. Whatever it was, it sure was not entertainment. In the spirit of Holy Week, though, I thought of giving him a 'deadline', beyond which I sure would have stormed out of my gate in my jammies like I once  did. Fortunately (for him), he turned the radio down and did shut up at 11pm.

Holy Week channel surfing treat: OnSet

Maundy Thursday and Good Friday early evening provided me with a bit more "self" time to channel surf local television stations.

I remember during the pre-cable days when all local stations were off (as in "offline", in computerese) and almost all stations were static that the only choices were black-and-white re-runs of Moses, El Cid, Cecil B. DeMille's The 10 Commandments or live telecast of church service of the Seven Last Words.

With cable services in the early '90s came 24/7 broadcasts of all sorts of programs.

Thursday and Friday this year, however, gave me a different treat. Since unplugging years of subscription to a local cable provider after a tragic event identified with its mother network (and availing of internet service anyway), we have had to content ourselves with shows on free channels.

The Holy Week (re)treat was by way of an information-rich program on Net25 called OnSet: The World Class Filipino Artist. The one-hour interview program features Filipino world-class artists hosted by Eunice Mariños and is recorded at the CCP's Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino.

I'm not sure whether what I saw were re-runs but I pretty much didn't mind. I caught mezzo-soprano Clarissa Ocampo on Maundy Thursday's segment and Coke Bolipata earlier this evening, Good Friday. In between interviews were live performances ("impromptu," as the host said of one of Ocampo's performance), with piano accompaniment.

The show ends with the guests being asked about the artists' contribution or role to society.

I find OnSet very refreshing in the midst of the predictable telenovelas, repetitive game show formats, shallow gossip programs and party-themed screaming competitions that purport to be variety entertainment shows on both major networks.

In fact, I thought these major networks would be the ones supporting the arts in a big way by coming up with something like Net25's OnSet, even if it meant hard selling the idea to sponsors to make it viable, but no.

Eunice Mariños at least gives its guests time to answer good questions no matter how formatted. In comparison, many hosts of interview shows, especially celebrity hosts, are always self conscious and  draw attention back to themselves instead of giving their their guests the limelight or allowing them to finish their statements.

Mariños could, however, do with a little more mature way of handling her interviews by sounding less like a high school student — sometimes flustered, sometimes excitable — and more like a poised, generous host (a fine example is Boots Anson-Roa). If Mariños does find the chance to enroll at Clarissa Ocampo's voice seminars as she said she would, I believe it would do her a lot of good.

Too bad OnSet ends without the usual closing billboard as I wanted to catch the pianist's name, the show's director, set and lights designers, writer, and other credits.

Otherwise, the early evenings of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday spent watching the two artists on OnSet was kind of spiritual in a self-respecting kind of way. I came back to the computer writing this with renewed Filipino pride.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

this is the end of publishing

This video link was posted as a re-Tweet by designmeme (/designmeme), aka Stuart Robertson an hour ago while I was offline.

The Future of Publishing from PenguinGroup UK.

From the Penguin blog, credit goes to Zoe Uffindell of Khaki Films, for coming up with Penguin's own advocacy video as inspired by other effective short films with a similar message and treatment.

Penguin Group: How difficult was it to achieve this effect? 
Zoe Uffindell: It takes a creative professional writer, patience, and several days to achieve something like this - a bit like a huge jigsaw that you have to paint as well as put together!  The voice-recording and editing of the text was a case of finding just the right voice, and pacing it right. (from here)

As always, the best way to get a message across, really, is by telling it simply — something I continue to learn and would wish to master.

The message of the video resounds with so much clarity and, coming from a print and publishing design background plus a love for imparting the value of and respect for the printed matter, it is something that touches a deep chord within me.

Great video!

Sunday, February 28, 2010


This is an amazing image lifted from my other blog. Pretty amazing.
Image from The West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

Sunday, February 21, 2010


The plot to this 2-week saga somehow reminds of de Maupassant's Piece of String, the "string", in this case, being shards of broken glass.

I believe, though, that there will be no protestations of innocence until the encounter with the death bed. It's just one of those episodes. Onerous.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

it's about time: MyPilipinas Moleskine from C2

The Philippines finally gets a limited edition Moleskine notebook called MyPilipinas Moleskine in both pocket and large sizes: a result of the collaboration between iconic Philippine shirt brand Collezione, under its Collezione-C2 line headed by its Creative Director Rhett Eala, and Moleskine.

The first and 'biggest' Moleskine shop-in-shop (SiS) outlet which will feature the entire line will open in April 2010 at National Bookstore's Greenbelt 3 branch.  

I say it's about time. And what better company to offer it locally than Collezione, a local apparel brand known for its durability and dependabilty. Yes, that's right, "dependability". In the 80s, it was the shirt of choice one could wear for many types of informal events. Its clothes were flexible and functional. It was the quiet and comparable counterpart of the imported designer sports tops at the time: Lacoste, Fila, Polo Ralph Lauren, among others, that were the trend especially among the elite.

The Collezione line was in the classic mold. If one were to wear a shirt or skirt today dating back to the 80s, it would still be "now".

Forward to the 21st century and Collezione was re-energized by its MyPilipinas line under C2 by Rhett Eala which features the Philippine map prominently on shirts and tops. Launched sometime in 2008, C2's MyPilipinas line became the most sought-after wear and all-occasion gift item since.

Like the icon that is Collezione, C2's MyPilipinas line has helped solder its place not just in Philippine fashion but fashion as lifestyle.

It is therefore appropriate and timely that C2 collaborate with the timeless Moleskine notebooks for its Philippine edition. And what better time than now.

There are supposedly only 4,800 units available of this limited edition Moleskine.

Prices are:
MyPilipinas Moleskine pocket Php 995.00
MyPilipinas Large Php1,450.00

Available at C2 stores and National Bookstore branches
MyPilipinas Moleskine site

A couple of cool Moleskine-related sites I follow:
Moleskinerie Creative Moleskine hacks
Moleskine Cover Moleskines hacks, user-submitted, avid Tweep
Moleskine Art Moleskine hacks, accessories gallery Vendor, Filipino Moleskine fan
Moleskineus Vendor
Moleskine Asia Vendor

Image credits
MyPilipinas notebooks image courtesy of Collezione C2
MyPilipinas shirt image courtesy of Philippine Star


Wednesday, February 10, 2010


The starter gun to the Philippine elections was fired quietly more than 24 hours ago when the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) declared 09 February 2010 the commencement of the 90-day campaign period for those running for President, Vice President and 12 Senators of the land.


It's the actual campaign season once again. I am surprised at the abrupt end of what were the more sedate, more polite and proper forums the candidates were given the chance to attend which gave us, in turn, the occasion to listen so we can make informed choices.

Campaign sorties are nothing but empty rhetoric, of preaching (and ditching), mostly to the converted. Like any event related to politics, campaigns are an arena of mud and grime confined within thick, choking air. And thanks to modern-day amplification, one comes out of it near-deaf, too.

This is the culmination of years of politicians' yearning to rip one another apart; no matter how immoral, the campaign season makes it right and justified.

It's an insane season. It is costly, tiresome, and divisive.

It is contrary to what every politician and candidate have ever muttered in the days when they were wooing the public and they, in less subtle ways, wanted to be wooed into party inclusion: "peace and unity".

Sadly, there will be none of these in the next 3 months. And none in the days after election day.


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