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.
To get into the vibe of Joseph Esmilla, and be warmly acknowledged by Rene Rivo years since I first met him, and later meet DIY'ers Tony and Tony.
To be embraced by the Philippine Madrigal Singers' superb live recording coming off the system Keith Roy and his partner Jack Duavit put together in their heavenly blue room. Mesmerized, I obligingly succumbed to the music's grand tenderness on the room's gentle armchair.
There were quite a number of women and girls in the show, actually, not all of them the wives or girlfriends or shop attendants. That somehow offered some comfort as I assumed this was a "guy's world." Not that I see it in a sexist view; it's common assumption I had fallen into because I'd had based much of this on the forum I'd venture in and out of for the last 9 years.
I hadn't met many of the forum members properly, not the least of whom is Francis Sogono, known in the forum as VintageDog, to thank him personally for his vision and tenacity in putting up wiredstate.com in the 26k modem era, and the kind of community it has nurtured.
I missed going in many of the other rooms or staying long enough to take in what each had to offer. As it was the Event's last day, the narrow corridors of Dusit Thani were agog with last-minute visitors or participants who may have been sidelined by the quiet visit of the President earlier that afternoon. And even before the strike of 5 p.m., many exhibitors were winding down or discreetly putting their wares away.
As my friend (also my business partner) and I made our way out of the Show, we decided to take some time to chill and talk about business-related matters in the gardens of Dusit. My mind would wander off occasionally about the Event which had formally ended and that was by then packing up. Sometimes, we'd pick up and pursue the discussion. "What makes guys go into audio?" she asked. Or, something like, "Why are guys audiophiles?" Clearly, us girls are a little mystified but I'd try to give an answer by drawing from what I read in the forum or from real-life engagements with some of "them." Probably because our intended chill time was getting off-tangent, she said, as if to echo Keith earlier, "You're blabbering..."
On our ride home, she asked, "What (do you think) is an audiohphile?" I was similarly lost for words. I told her, "That's a difficult question to ask" and she, in turn, asked why.
I thought, even among scientists, of which all things audio is a science in itself, their arises countless oppositions about systems and disciplines of arriving at solutions or formulating theories. I did not want to offer any answers because I am not an audiophile myself, just one whose interest in music is something I can't even articulate.
After a few seconds, I managed to say, "To them, (I believe) it's a personal question; they (up)hold these experiences sacred. It's like asking (those guys) about religion." And on again we discussed other matters.
I feel some comfort bringing a friend into another world that I have keen interest in. I am not a musician, my relatives are; I do not own any of those equipment or take pride in possessing valuable collection as "they." That's not to say, though, that an owner of luxurious equipment readily can consider him/herself an "audiophile;" perhaps just someone who can afford a lifestyle.
It 's enough that my good friend Isabel had taken some interest in the classical LP boxed sets still in excellent condition that I showed her in Lani's – "spelled like a girl's," he emphasized – room. It's more than enough that she has actually considered purchasing some of these records AND be motivated to have their 80s turntable fixed.
As for myself, I made no purchases at the Event. I guess the whole purpose for being there, albeit for a mere two-and-a-half hours, was priceless enough. What I brought home and still have with me, perhaps until the 10th show in 2013, is what I told Keith in his room while enveloped in the glorious voices of the Madrigals: the indescribable and heartfelt experience, so lovely it moved me much, it's now firmly lodged in my being.
. . .
|Main organizer, an animated Tony Boy de Leon|
|Tony Boy's screens|
|Tubes at work|
|JE and the vibes in JELabs|
|A hyper-inspected table|
|A hyper audio showcase|
|Keith and Jack's arm and table|
|Keith's best friends|
|Keith's driving force|
|A blue cathedral choir|
|Tony & Tony's done themselves|
|Tony & Tony's elegant Russian companion|
|More happy hunters in Lani's lair|