[Day 20] A hobbie of yours

Pictures by the ever-lovely Rej Rosero.

Typo is not mine, I blame the original meme writer.

But yes, I am a geek. You can witness all fangirl geekery in its un-glory over at the fan tumblr. You can also catch me at Committee Geekfight once a month.

[Day 19] A talent of yours

I would like to say storytelling, but it’s a talent I’m still trying to hone.

This calls for a writing sample. I wrote this as a copywriting exercise in the agency I used to work for. The challenge was to write a story based on this news article. I was also given this (rather disturbing) tribute as a peg. Isn’t it amazing how you can look as if you know someone just by tracking them online?

The instructions were: write about the incident, and it has to mention that the victim’s eyes were donated to the blood bank.

Part of the 30 Day Writing Meme. Next is Day 20: A Hobby of Yours.

Short Story: The Wake

Pa couldn’t sleep the night through, not since Josh, his son, died.
It was the second day of the wake, a good few hours after the guests left.

His wife, exhausted, slept in the chapel pantry. Pa decided to take a smoke outside the chapel, his breather from being surrounded by people and the sickening-sweet scent of funeral flowers.

He lit up a Marlboro Red. As he inhaled the first smoke, he realized he’d been a smoker for twenty years now. Funny, he mused, that he has yet to be diagnosed for anything more serious. He smiled at his own wit, which hurt.
He still expects his son to show up.

Continue reading

The rainbow connection: Kylie in Manila

I cannot get over what a rich year it is for theater and entertainment in Manila! With CCP Tanghalang Pilipino and Writers Bloc’s Virgin Labfest 7, Atlantis Productions’ ‘Aida’, Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Varekai’ in Manila, and then Kylie finally decides to make a stop: how do I begin to choose?

I finally got ‘Aida’ and Labfest out of the way, as I want to keep on supporting local talent. I just happened to be pulled into watching The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber concert for work, which was a blessing, though it was not a must-see for me this season.

It then came down to Varekai versus Kylie. Only one can be accomodated by the currency I have on-hand, and it was a painful decision to make. I ended up choosing Varekai for the simple reason that I have already seen a Cirque du Soleil show, ‘Alegria’, some years back. Who knows when Kylie will next swing by?

I admittedly am not as familiar with her more recent albums, as I am still very much stuck in the ‘Fever’ era. Still, based on the videos of her Showgirl tour, I had faith that this fabulous demi-goddess would not let us down.

Oh what a circus, oh what a show! A fellow Kylie fan said that the Manila production is slightly scaled down to accommodate budget and location, but it certainly didn’t show. It was a spectacle of light, dancing, costumes, and ripped men wearing next-to-nothing. Kylie herself was the light fantastic, taking us through the sea, space, and time. Take note: the electric fan was dead center stage, for an ethereal effect when she sings, dances, or simply addresses the audience.

The “impromptu” ‘Especially For You’ duet she shared with the audience was a great way to make up for the years she hadn’t visited. I only wished she had a little more faith in us and had us sing it out, we didn’t need a voice over to sing with. But we appreciate the thought!

Other songs I recognized: ‘A Night Like This’, ‘Spinning Around’, ‘Love at First Sight’, and ‘Can’t Get You Outta My Head’ from Fever; ‘Especially for you’, ‘Locomotion’, and ‘Better the Devil You Know’ from her classic era; then ‘Slow’, ‘Wow’, and of course ‘For the Lovers’.

The audience was very into it, not a single hand was down during ‘Especially For You’, and in true Filipino fashion: for the classics, not a single word was missed.

If that doesn’t guarantee a return sometime in the future, I don’t know what else will. Maybe we’ll get ‘Lucky’ next time?

But above all, thank you Kylie, for gracing us with your presence. <3 Wowowowow!

Below is the Aphrodite concert performance of ‘For the Lovers’ in Melbourne:

To the Moon and Back

I remember the very first j-karaoke session with Kara and Cyds: I was fifteen years old, with some vague idea of Japanese popular music being franchised with the anime and manga I followed. I somehow found myself in a karaoke room at Music21 Jupiter Street with Kara and Cyds. I just remember old L’arc~en~ciel songs being sung, and Luna Sea’s ‘I For You’. After karaoke, Cyds saw me off with a VHS copy of L’arc~en~ciel’s ‘Chronicles’.

I couldn’t stop playing it. ‘Honey’ became part of the morning soundtrack.

I moved to Indonesia shortly after that. While in Jakarta, my arrival from school was just in time for MTV Taiwan’s Japanese Music countdown. At this time, ‘Honey’ was number one on the charts as L’arc~en~ciel had released a special compilation album. In the wake of the Utada Hikaru and Hamasaki Ayumi phase, the jrock started trickling in for mainstream Indonesian consumption. On a whim, I got Luna Sea’s ‘Period’ album on cassette tape. ‘I For You’, ‘Shine’, and ‘Love Song’ were the songs of choice from home to school every day for months. I also remember my Japanese classmate insisting on playing ‘Tonight’ at a school assembly. You don’t have to know Japanese to appreciate it: it brought the house down.

When I got back to Manila for college, I became friends with Kalen by way of Jrock. Just when I thought my jrock wave had ebbed, she got a copy of L’arc~en~ciel’s SMILE bundled with a live performance dvd. I remember her playing it, and from the first riff of ‘Ready Steady Go’ to Hyde strutting out to sing his part, I found myself running to the TV. I dropped to my knees and stared: I was smitten all over again.

I borrowed a copy of a double disc Luna Sea CD from her too, and in addition to the staples I discovered ‘Sweetest Coma Again’. It is still one of the sexiest songs I’ve ever heard.

I admit that I’m not as thorough with their discography as I should be, but of all the songs I’ve heard, it’s their songs that mark the more poignant moments of high school and college. I got into L’arc~en~ciel before I moved to Indonesia, Luna Sea played through 11th and 12th grade, and it was back to L’arc~en~ciel and Luna Sea during college, now peppered by Miyavi and whatever else Kalen had on her radio.

I caught L’arc~en~ciel live after I graduated college. When Luna Sea confirmed plans for a world tour, I caved in and made arrangements to see them, at great personal expense (note: mine, not any of Mom’s money), after Mom passed on.

So, how about that Luna Sea concert? I have worked with performing arts, hung out with musicians, and I’ve had my share of concerts, but I have never seen anything like that before. It was like Luna Sea had never taken a break! They were upbeat the whole time, and Ryuichi’s fingers seemed to tremble with every note sung. Has it really been twenty years since the band first got together? They were acting as if it were their first major live. I was torn between letting the music wash over me, or watching the trance-like state they were in. They were not just performing FOR us, the audience, it was like they were letting the music go through them to us.

To think, while they took minute breaks between songs, they did not break for a full intermission. Still, the band did not look one bit tired.

I knew they would play ‘Storm’, and ‘Tonight’, but hearing them live sent a delicious shiver through me. I was exhausted, sleep-deprived, and had deadlines on hold to go to this concert, but all that was forgotten in the roar of the crowd, with fists pumping in beat to the music. Somehow the music stirred up the teenage fangirl in me again, with the giddiness of someone hopped up on pixie sticks. “KISS ME IN THE STORMY!” I shrieked the second voice to the Engrish lyrics to ‘Storm’, then “KIMI WA DAKE NO MELODY!” to Tonight.

And yes, it was worth every penny spent, and so much more.

No doubt, that will be the last fanciful whim I’ll have for a long time. I allowed the girl to come out in Hong Kong, but I’ve returned to Manila to take on adulthood.

However limited my Japanese, I owe it to the jrock, especialy L’arc~en~ciel and Luna Sea for easing the difficult transitions of my lifetime.

HOSHEHT, TRIP KUNG TRIP – The Genesis

I won a trip around the Philippines at my first presscon with Microsoft Philippines. It has been twenty-four hours since we first sorted out the details, and I’m still in shock and awe over it.

After announcing the success of the rousing feedback from the windows7ako facebook page, the presscon attendees were put into groups and challenged to put together a Philippine travel itinerary with a budget of P100,000 in about 45 minutes. I was grouped with friend and fellow writer, Pepper Laforteza, and Mirage writer, September (yes, her real name, remember). We put together a Philippine-wide trip from Old Manila to Mindanao, exploring over land, air, seas, and our stomachs.

The original itinerary was:

MANILA (1 day): Breakfast at Hizons, trip to National Museum, Carlos Celdran Intramuros Tour, Dinner in Binondo, then a bus to Baguio for a connecting bus ride to Sagada.

Sagada (4 days): Lodgings in Rock Inn, foodtrip around town, hiking, spelunking (including the epic 1 hour cave tour connecting the small cave with the big cave). Take bus to Baguio on last day, catch a flight to Cebu.

Cebu: (3 days): Airwalk at Crown Regency, more foodtripping on lechon and other delicacies, with a daytrip to Bohol. We take the superferry to Davao.

Davao (4 days) : Lodging at Pearl Farm, snorkeling around the resort, tour of Mr. Apo, etc.

When we were done, I worried that we might lose because it was a bit much. We had the longest itinerary (2 weeks) so we could max out P100,000, and we knew that it was more than enough to go around (rule of thumb: costs outside the capital are significantly lower) The other teams kept their travel itineraries to a particular region, which made them look a lot more organized.

Ours was adventurous, but is it too adventurous?

Then when the time came for the judges to announce the winners, Jojo kicked it off with, “Well the winners will have to take two weeks off—”

HOLY SHEHT.

WE WON OUR OWN CRAZY TRIP.

So it’s confirmed, from May 24 to June 6, 2010, Pepper, September, and I will be doing our crazy trip throughout the Philippines.

Stay tuned, we’re in for quite the ride! Thank you Microsoft and sponsors!

For the first of many pics chronicling this journey, this is a pic from my FIRST Microsoft event with BlueRep from back in 2005.

Photo by Ren Robles

I wrote the show and ended up starring as Clippy the MSWord Helper. It was also my very first corporate event.

February Updates: A Netbook and Events

The No Excuses Netbook

Since the demise of Archangel, I’ve been in the market for a new laptop. I am a huge Mac fan, but the price is well out of my league for now. All I really needed was a machine to write with and give presentations on. After a few months of canvassing, I settled for the HP Mini 1000.

I got it barely-used from Zane who won it in a raffle. I settled for HP because of its keyboard. Since I’ll be using it for writing most of the time, I wasn’t keen on struggling with baby keys. I’ve tried two other netbooks before and found myself often frustrated with the keyboard size. I still need to get used to the HP Mini keyboard, but it isn’t as frustrating.

The HP1000 is the old model, hence limited battery (2 cel battery, allowing for 2-3 hours battery time) but it does the job just fine. Best of all, it fits in my daybag! I’ll be blogging a little bit more about the specs after I tinker with it for a little while longer.

February in Pictures

I faced a post-Ondoy raket rut last December, but February more than made up for that black hole. I took on a lot: 1 productions, 1 event, in addition to my regular teaching and writing load. It was actually manageable, though I had to lay off most of my social engagements. I was tired a lot, yes, but I knew that was part of the deal. Besides, The payoff’s worth it.

Aside from Romeo and Bernadette, I also helped stage manage the Jon Schmidt and Steven Sharp Nelson concert. It’s amazing to hear Love Story Meets Livin La Vida by Coldplay live, and to meet and talk with some very talented musicians – and showmen! Thank you too to everyone for the amazing turn-out! Also, to my colleagues and friends at Pocketful of Kids for helping make it happen!

After the Jon Schmidt concert - with Jon Scmidt and Steven Sharp Nelson. Picture taken by Mye of Pocketful of Kids.

I also managed to sneak in a little time in the last week of Feb (the busiest week!) to attend a talk by Ronnie del Carmen, Story Supervisor and Art Director for Pixar Studios. Ronnie del Carmen is Filipino, and he got started by storyboarding for advertising. He used to work as an art director, while my Mom worked as associate creative director in the same team. Apparently, I used to crawl around their cubicles when I was a toddler.

From left to right: Edgar, Mii, Mum, and Ronnie del Carmen

Ronnie left for the states to work for Dreamworks, then moved to Pixar where he had a hand in movies such as Finding Nemo, Wall-E, and Up. He sometimes come back to the Philippines to catch up with family, old friends, and give talks on the storymaking process for Pixar’s films.  A little more on that in another entry, as soon as I get the transcript and DVD of the talk.

I have a month before another set of jobs come in. I intend to use the time to bond with my “Mini Mii” computer to catch up on writing and other creative projects. I love the work, and I made time for the work. But now’s the time to focus on my work.