Sunday, December 2, 2012


I never really knew much about her except that she was an aunt, somewhat. By affinity anyway.

Her full name didn't even roll off my tongue as smoothly as did her nickname which, without question, is what I recognize all of these 40-plus years that I "knew" her and of her. There are about two other Barbaras I know and none of them I claim to know as much as I did aunt-by-affinity Barbara. She'd always been nice to us. To me, at least, she was, in the rare times that I'd encounter her when she'd drop in on birthday parties in our growing-up years.

Anyway then there's something about certain places such as funeral parlors that I can't get a proper grip on especially as an adult in the many times that I needed to be in one for visitations. It was either the location – which among those on the avenue they're lined up did they say it was? – or the right room they call chapel, the last physical private chamber one finds oneself in between life and the lifeless before the final parting that I end up fumbling.

I do so always get these wrong, as what happened last night to visit this late "aunt" Barbara whose full name I at least finally got right when inquired who it was I was at the funeral parlor for. It was for directions to "Chapel 7" I asked the guard-on-duty and was given the run on. Turns out it was "Chapel F" that matched the name. I knew I'd miss that again, as the guards probably knew those happen every time. As people, we make mistakes, one more often than others.

There's consolation in the thought that death means liberation from those that bind us, to loneliness, regrets or shortcomings – of ours and others'.

Barbara seems to have not lived her last years as she would have dreamt of. We always dream of a life of fulfillment, do we not? It's not always that we aim for comfort but simple things like meaningful conversations or that we – they – are looked after thoughtfully are what makes their sunset days worth every minute of our living.

I at least now know she went with more relatives-by-affinity being around who cared enough to see she was given decent moments she deserved. Every soul deserves decent moments no matter how much of a stranger we all are to each other and Barbara was no exception. She was given that as she will be having it in the coming hours of her last earthly moments,  before she is finally laid to rest.

And it isn't that one is finally laid to rest. Passages are when one like her can finally claim real peace in the true sense of the word.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The November HiFi Show (Day 2)

The board at was busy with posts, comments and reviews about the November HiFi Show as soon as Day 1 ended on Saturday, November 10, 2012.

I finally did make it on Day 2, Sunday afternoon, after Pres. Aquino, a known audiophile, had left. No media accompanied him, I was told, by my good friend the journalist who I finally had the favor of being in company with and was there ahead of me.

The November HiFi Show occupied rooms of the 2nd and 4th floors of the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City. I like this Event because unlike popular "trade shows," it gives one the moment to be up close and very personal with music and the owners who set up the equipment themselves in their respective listening rooms.

It was my first time at such a gathering and, unlike the veteran attendees, organizers and members posting comments at the forum, I was at a loss for words. When I found it all I can say is, what a profound and overwhelming experience it is.

To be face-to-face with exquisite craftsmanship, breathtaking music, and meeting the people who made this Event possible; main man Tony Boy de Leon ever so kindly led the tour and proudly showed off the room for the collection of the late businessman and acknowledged audiophile Johnny Cruz, affectionately called Mang Johnny of Balikbayan Handicrafts – what an honor it was to just be there and hold some of Mang Johnny's well-preserved vacuum tubes and audio ephemera.

To be greeted by Val and – in his assigned room where music was played for us and his guests through his proudly Filipino-made instruments, I knew I was in good hands – be seated between him and another Philippine audio legend Mang Rod, Rodrigo B. Teope, himself.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Maps and Music Weekend: the November Hi-Fi Show and Murillo's Maps

I am grateful for days like today that give me some free time to check out two particular interests: maps and music.


Presented annually since 2004 by members of the Philippines' only audio enthusiasts community, (of which I count as among the few female members), the November HiFi Show opens its 2-day event today at 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City.

Besides starting as a swap gathering of vinyl collectors–mostly the guys–the organizers have put together audio equipment owners and DIY'ers and provided them and their guests space and chill time to talk and listen closely to really good music.

Eventually, Philippine dealers of fine audio equipment got wind of the event and asked to be included in succeeding schedules which led to the formalizing of the swap meet to what it is today.

Of this year's show, it's main man, Tony Boy de Leon, wrote:

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


1. SMS the "loved one"

Tinatamad ka bang bumisita sa iyong loved ones sa sementeryo?
..... Are you not up to visiting your loved ones at the cemetery?
Text DALAW at i-send sa 2366
..... Text DALAW and send to 2366
Sila mismo ang dadalaw sa yo
..... They will be the ones to come and visit you
Choices are:
1) Nakasilip sa bintana
..... Peering through the window
2) Nakatingin sa yo habang natutulog ka
..... Looking at you while asleep
3) Nakatayo sa iyong paanan
..... Standing by your feet
4) Nakahiga sa tabi mo
...... Beside you in bed
Ano pa inaantay mo? text na!
..... What are you waiting for? Text now!
. . .
This original text joke ca. 2011 can only have been thought of by a Filipino. I'm not sure, though, if the text message really came from Globe Telecoms which owns the "2366" gateway number. Otherwise, may the original sender of this brilliant SMS please stand up or shall I call upon the spirits of the universe to, please, make yourself known?

2. e-Online mo

A couple of years back, a tarpaulin billboard appeared on the side of Legacy Building adjacent to the Quezon Avenue branch of Mercury Drugstore (across McDonald's and Crossings) in Quezon City.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On borrowed horse

Jessica Sanchez

Three days into the most crucial days ever for any reality TV contestant's dream towards achieving fame – no, it's not just any reality TV, it's American Idol for heavens – and the by-word on every TV junkie in this part of the word is "Jessica Sanchez."

Ask any fermale prime time broadcaster who's ever applauded on network news about Sanchez being on the Top 4 and you'll know why this has become even bigger than the Philippine Chief Justice on trial, the rising tension over at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, or the 5-thousand-plus people once called "residents" by pollsters or "voters" by politicians just before their community on reclaimed land burned down last Friday, now sit homeless and helpless, jampacked in a local Manila gym.

In view of the third, Sen. Tito Sotto had the gall to tell CNN that it lied in its series about the Philippines because, he said, we are a land of hope – just look at billionaire Senator Manny Villar, he said as an example, as poor then as any street-wandering Filipino today who has become an expert at preparing pagpag for daily subsistence and sustenance.

Villar has, in essence, risen above the odds and made a name for himself, Sotto said, therefore a prime example out of millions living below poverty line and who can therefore prove that (Villar's story) entitles us to cover up poverty with fancy graphics on tarpaulin. Did MalacaƱang cross its fingers wishing that the ADB delegates for whom the cover-up was intended mistook the tarpaulin for forward-looking "beautification?"

And yes, no doubt, it is some kind of news, Jessica Sanchez on American Idol. It's the kind which we so easily latch on to because it smells like a newly-opened balikbayan box filled with goodies from the latest clear-out sale in California that has landed right on our doorsteps tax-free.

Jessica Sanchez, no doubt, is a good performer, the best of anyone in her age category on TV today. She has the right phrasing, her musicality is sophisticated and her range is exceptional.

And I take it that she is, after all, "a Filipino," although until her slow rise to fame via American Idol Season 11, she was and is an All-American girl in a largely Filipino-dominated community in America. Still, her being in the Top 3 has made Philippine media treat it like that of an all-Filipino/Philippine contingent winning a gold in the Olympics.

I can understand Sanchez' maternal BataeƱo relatives, descendants or witnesses perhaps to the largest surrender of American and Filipino WW II joint forces in Bataan, closely monitoring and rooting for her, and they have all the reason to. Besides them and her relatives from Mexico, from my point of view at least, Sanchez' rightful kababayans are those in Chula Vista, California who she share common aspirations and experiences with.

But by the way even the local entertainers and celebrities – count in the OPM officials and network executives – have been treating news about Sanchez, the fact is she is not panacea to the ailing Philippine music and entertainment industry or the answer to the much sought-after definition of "Filipino international superstardom" and everything else that's attached to it, especially since the Mexicans will pretty much claim her as "theirs" ahead of us, or as "Latina" as Jennifer Lopez.

To her credit, when prompted for reaction on camera, Sanchez is grateful for the support Filipinos from all over have given her. But all credit goes to her and how she has harnessed her God-given talent to the fullest.

At the end of the day, though, if and when she does come out victor on American Idol Season 11 and establish firsts on the show – first female since Jordin Sparks, first woman of mixed-heritage and of Filipino descent – what Jessica Sanchez will and always be is an "American" idol for she knows of no other experience to draw from but as that. If and when she wins, Jessica Sanchez' victory is the aspiration and success of every Fil-Am and Mexican-American in America.

The state of OPM

I cringe at the thought that an organization like OPM, the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM) whose officials and members have been all over town in support of Jessica Sanchez, will be short of handing her an award post-haste once Sanchez does win; did not the OPM just do the same to another American Idol finalist, David Archuleta, upon his agreeing to record, in record time at that – meaning both the award and the recording – Filipino songs in English last January? For whatever intent or purpose the OPM-Archuleta deal was made, I hope it wasn't because the OPM did it on a whim and overstepped Archuleta's accommodation for that's how it looked like: instead of the guest being accommodated, the host over-indulged.

With Jessica Sanchez being "hot" property in the Philippines, especially so with the help of Philippine media, and the prospect of being the first Latino-Asian-American to be "American Idol," I hope we can do a raincheck on ourselves and not be allowed to be taken by the tides of hope by hanging on to strands we might take as redemption from our own miserable but salvageable state.

Are we in shortage of citizens in our own backyards to look up to and hail as "heroes" that we need to shift our gaze beyond our shores, look into blood traces for relations before we can lift up someone over our shoulders?

With the American Idol season in the U.S. coming to an end (and possibly emerging winner among all reality TV shows in the U.S.), I suppose this time around, Philippine media and the entire entertainment industry would like to be "out there" as things unfold, if they haven't already bought tickets to the party.

How could they have missed all the frenzy 4 years ago with homegrowns Arnel Pineda and Charice Pempengco, and still not completely understand what the buzz around them was at the time? Was it because, as late technology adapters, they were clueless as to how these talents struggled their way into the mainstream American music industry as locals do in our very own entertainment industry?

Is it because, as beneficiaries of technology today, it's so much fun to be trending, albeit even for the most trivial of reasons as a "love team" in spite of the fleeting nature of internet trends bearing no significant long-term impact on society?

Or are we simply riding to fame on a borrowed horse and, in the process, have left the welfare, growth and much-deserved attention of our very own talents behind?

We have become too hopeful on formulas that happened but never saw coming: People Power, YouTube sensations, sudden Twitter trending and such, all the while forcing history to repeat itself on an unsuspecting public.

Media circumstances around this season's American Idol have forced even the highest authorities to issue a statement of support yet let go lightly of an official of government, Ronald Llamas, caught on camera patronizing pirated entertainment to the detriment of his fellowmen eking out a living in the local entertainment industry.

Too much action and inaction

However, the local entertainment industry is partly to blame for its own inaction about piracy. Had its members exerted the same effort they now do in rallying votes for Jessica Sanchez as when Llamas' action on camera could pose a direct contempt on their livelihood, the Philippine entertainment industry would have shown teeth and grit enough to assure its members that Pinoy entertainers can look forward to something brighter, not blighter.

All noise and rallying by (almost the entire) local entertainment industry heading up to the American Idol finals happening in American timezones is like sloganeering without full understanding, as shallow as a product or marketing tagline (see "It's More Fun in The Philippines") but without proper facilities in place to accommodate throngs of people (see "Philippine airports").

Instead, we – rather, those – who operate behind the entertainment, music industries and news media, should look at how they got our industries to the state where music and film piracy raids have become parody, Pacquiao's mother's birthday deserve media coverage and government officials think that the objective of closed-circuit TVs in airports is simply to monitor scuffles between celebrities.

They have made something as a Twitter "trend" the new economy believing this to drive up sales (music? views?) and perhaps the ultimate salvation of the media and entertainment industries. They, news and entertainment personalities, have made being "proudly Pinoy" mean a shot at fame by holding on to the hem of anything that resembles Lapu-lapu's blood in them when the very warm bodies they have have given birth to and attempted to nurture right on our very shores are in dire need of the very support they now pose elsewhere.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bye, Bear

today will be the day we turn the last pages of the book on how we, mother and daughters, had, for quite some time, become the two-legged home minorities since the dog-families became part of our extended family with the cats.

in the days and years to follow, it will be quiet.

being the only survivor that had outlived her brood that first came into our lives more than 15 years ago, Bear has become "the one:" our mother's baby, our company and center of energies.

in a few more moments, she, like the spirit she and her brood had been to us, too, will simply become energy.

by this time, it's all reactive.

"not with a bang but with a whimper," as if the whimper is that of the puppy dog she once was and has come to be.

despite knowing one day this will come but more so because there's nothing we can do to ease the pain of separation from body and earth, we are helpless. that pains us, too. going the "natural" way is not without suffering.

i couldn't find chinx, here with you and mama below, soon enough to see you go –  he'd be the only cat you could be friends with, though you know pooch came to your side to keep you warm the other night. for the first time that night, you did not mind her.

smv will understand but not without regret of being so immersed with commitments as to not get the chance to see you one last time.

she trusts that you, as with those who went before you, had all the best we could provide. you knew.

at your last breath, you went so quietly and made laying you to rest effortless for mama and i, as if you were aware of how the hours of separation was so privately heartbreaking enough as it was for us all.

thank you, Bear. sleep now, with Maki, Rebo, Socks, Bubbly, Jjay, Mouser, Aga, Ms. M and the four-legged friends – yours and ours – that all once enjoyed the sun in the the garden, the especially-prepared meals we'd be all too pre-occupied with; the special bring-home pasalubong* bags from smv, mj and all our human friends, the playful moments, our tender loving and care.

there'll be none of that for us after today but for you, perhaps the state of joyful pet days and eternal tranquility.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Photo taken in a Metro Manila public elementary school near where we used to live.

When my colleagues and I were at the school, I brought one to the back of it to show a mini-park. It still sits there, a quiet witness in the noon-day sun of how that part of the city has transformed.

Gone is the impressive ancestral home, west of the park, of the city's most influential family. Even before the family matriarch passed away some years ago, they built in its place a row of townhouses that bear extra-ordinary scale and proportions than most urban "townhouses."

Across is the compound owned by another family from which members have contributed invaluably to the social sciences and education, art and architecture. Some of the family's descendants were friends of mine back in high school.

The property gate facing the park used to welcome Manila's literary and artistic personages. Inside it was one of the pioneering and most unconventional private galleries to have ever been established in the country and I am proud to be part of its roster of exhibitors. Founders of present-day artist-run spaces acknowledge the gallery as a major influence. It is now hushed.

Nearby the park is the historic church but the solemnity of its facade has been removed by the looming presence of a new high-rise condominium in the background.

Otherwise, some pre-war houses are still along the park perimeter, as are the medium-height park trees that provide shade to the usual vagrants who retire on benches for siesta.

The photo above, however, has its own story. Read it on my first "real" story-entry which I posted on a new awesome site called here.


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