We need a little Christmas: Mia’s Christmas Playlist

I live in the country with the longest Christmas season, and that gets damn tiring. I’m a humbug (I’d rather that term than ‘Scrooge’, indulge my frivolous wordplay) as soon as mid-October when the most bizarre Christmas mash-ups start blaring on public speakers.

I like the spirit of Christmas: ever since Mom died, and my sister and I have been distant, it’s deeply touching when almost everyone, no matter how short a time you’ve known them, opens their doors to you. I like the tradition of gathering. I want to do the same when time and space finally allows me to. For now, I humbly give offerings of feeling witty cards and sweets. It’s the very least I could do, though I wish that I could do more.

There are also the carols. Some carols, even at my crankiest anti-Christmas moods, gets me singing and smiling. It sometimes sees me through hellish traffic and terribly cramped MRT rides during the season.


1) We Need a Little Christmas – New Directions (Glee)

2) Last Christmas – New Directions (Glee)

3) Santa Can You Hear Me – Britney Spears

4) What Christmas Means To Me – Hanson

5) Snow Miser/Heat Miser from ‘The Year Without Santa Class’

6) Ateneo Chamber Singers Christmas performances

Youtube and tracks after the cut.

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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.

[Writing Meme] Day 01: Your Favorite Song

Don’t Rain On My Parade by Barbra Streisand

I first caught ‘Funny Girl’ on the old classic movie channel when I was much younger, but I just viewed it as a Barbra Streisand vehicle. I have heard the Streisand jokes and the horror stories, but I still admired her for being able to produce-direct-write-sing-dance. I watched ‘Funny Girl’ again after my first college heartbreak as a form of emotional masochism. ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ was always this song that stuck out, and I ended up playing the clip over and over again.

In 2009, which friends declared to be one of the worst years of their lives, the song was revived in the popular musical dramedy, ‘Glee’.

That same year I survived the end of my longest relationship, a falling out with a good friend, the end of my first steady job, and the worst storm to hit the country in years. I wasn’t in great shape, but I could have been worse. There were also happier moments had over the year, like new friends and prospects, and I grew more accepting of myself. I wasn’t going to let the worst of 2009 take that away from me.

The finale of ‘Glee’, which featured the song, premiered the same week I was confined to home because I didn’t have any money. I was mulling over my own personal travesties and sang out, “At least I didn’t fake it, hat, sir”. It has been my anthem ever since.

Part of the 30 Day Meme. Next is Day 2: Your Favorite Movie.