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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Being Simon Cowell for a Night

Last week (Wednesday), I was invited (if not dragged) to attend a fundraising PMPC event at Zirkoh in Greenhills. Since I haven’t done a hardcore jologs activity for a long time now, I gave it a try. Zirkoh, for those in Classes A to B bracket, is a comedy bar owned by Allan K. If you dig the humor of Tim Tayag, the comedy bar doesn’t offer similar musings and articulations.

Ticket is priced at P500, food and drink not inclusive. Since it’s a bit pricey, why not play Simon Cowell for a night? Here are the auditionees:

Dennis Santos. As noted by the bar’s disc jock, contestant number one was an alumnus of the now defunct Pinoy Pop Superstar. He did two songs, the last being Bugoy’s “Bakit Pa Kaya?” Simon says, “You just managed to go from zero to hero. Welcome to Hollywood!”

Geoff Taylor. Geoff is a product of the first Pinoy Dream Academy. I remember catching an episode with him and Yeng doing an impromptu Mandy Moore song (Geoff knows how to play the guitar). He did a Boyce Avenue-inspired “Umbrella” and a beautifully arranged “Passenger Seat”. Simon says, “I’m sorry but… Welcome to Hollywood!”

Shane Ortiz. The next contestant was the epitome of those Fil-Ams, Fil-Brits, etc. who are fascinated to try their luck here in the Philippines. Shane tried to be Pinoy with her “Mr. Disco” but her accent occasionally betrayed her. Simon says, “You’re young. You can come back next year.”

Tornados. Perhaps the closest description for them is, err, Masculados. They were introduced as an 8-member boyband, doing “Sway” and “Kailangan Kita”. Sometimes, they had to do some choreography and they sucked at it. There are at least three guys in the group who can really sing. Simon says, “I couldn’t wait for it to end.”

Dance Squad Singers. Composed of four guys with emo get-up. They are also a boyband but as compared to Tornados, they are younger and more colorful. They did a bad version of Chris Brown’s “With You” followed by a fast song that is reminiscent of any boyband anthem. Simon says, “That was a bit clumsy and amateurish. I’m sorry but your journey ends here.”

Niko Antonio. A Mark Bautista copycat who did two songs that I forgot unintentionally. Simon says, “Your belt is too high on your waist. And what’s with the camouflaging necktie?”

Toni Gonzaga. This contestant was definitely the most industrious in the bunch as she sang at least five good songs including Beyonce’s “If I Were a Boy” and “Single Ladies”. She interacted and joked with the crowd seamlessly. Her presence was refreshing. Simon says, “You are one of the best singers we’ve got in this competition.”

Jay Ann Bautista. This Pinoy Idol grand finalist was a stunner. She did two Norah Jones-like songs and she did it with aplomb. Not to mention that she’s pretty on her black dress. Simon says, “You really have emerged to be a star.”

Valerie Concepcion. This next contestant was very bubbly on stage. She would either tease the audience or just laugh in between songs. She can sing but that’s about it. Her “Kiss Me” lacked sincerity. Simon says, “I think you looked as if you were half-aleep throughout the song.”

Erik Santos. High audience impact, powerful “birit” voice and a heartfelt performance. This last contestant did a couple of songs that are mostly remakes. At one point, he stepped down from the stage and ate tuna sisig in one of the tables. Simon says, “The vocals were brilliant. You are one heck of a singer.”

Monday, March 30, 2009

Pinoyism # 005: A Man's World

You can find this set of stores in Metro Manila. First is an Asian store in SM Mall of Asia called Wang Mart. It sells grocery stuff. If you get near the establishment (it's located near the exit of IMAX), you can find some posters of Rain endorsing a product. In the middle is "King of Screws" which is literally a shop for bolts and nuts. It's along Florentino Torres St. Last pic is also found in SM Mall of Asia. It's a haven for cockfight fanatics (thus the name). You can find feeds, magazines and even t-shirts.

Ultraelectromagnetic Love

Yup, you got it right. And surprise, surprise, it's going to be a film to be produced by Regal Entertainment. Here's an excerpt from PEP:

Love teams will be the focus in the upcoming movie titled Ultraelectromagnetic Love. Three segments will comprise this film, which will be based on three songs of the Pinoy rock band Eraserheads. As early as March 2008, PEP already reported that GMA-7 love teams were supposed to topbill this romantic movie.
Here's hoping that they can pull it off. The idea could be a sacrilege but the film may work if Regal is going to tap the Eraserheads music video directors like Aureus Solito. It's just a suggestion.

Complete story can be found here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Life is an iPhone # 005

Clockwise from top row:

1. Sta. Cruz! I had some fondest memories in the area. When kuya was in college, he was staying in my uncle's house in Tomas Mapua St. From time to time, my mom and I visited him. It was my kuya who brought me to my first Jollibee in Ronquillo St. Opposite of it was the Mc Donalds branch where Richard Gomez was reportedly discovered. Surprisingly, the Jollibee branch is now located in the lot where Mc Donalds used to occupy. I still have my very first Jolly toys which were plastic Disney characters that you can attach to a pen.

2. Fontana. Only in Sta. Cruz, Manila. It looks new but it has the old Manila charm.

3. Old Manila. Very "Scorpio Nights 2"/Erik Matti. I love ruins.

4. Unusual Mix. It's very rare that this group of people will have a chance to dine together. Imagine us laughing hard, creating echoes and life. In front are Mel and Topeng. Clockwise from Mel: Sadah, Pam, Jansson (I hope I get the spelling right), Dana, Arian, Alou, Josh, Ge and Topeng.

5. Gluttony. After atonement comes gluttony. We relied everything to the waiter. We ended up being full and doggy bagged extra food that could feed 11 more people.

6. Wah Sun. It's located near Ongpin. You can see Vista Cinema from the street. Memories of childhood film watching came to mind. At Wah Sun, the food choices are endless. I don't remember seeing a restaurant that has a selection of dishes that could rival a videoke song list. Expect two wild boars (yes, they are breathing) at the entrance. They said it's for luck.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Life is an iPhone # 004

Clockwise from top row:

1 - 2. Sushi ni Roan. Right before lunch time last Friday, Roan surprised us with two trays of sushi that her chef dad had prepared for us. It's yummy (not to mention free) and filling. Thanks, Roan.

3. Best Window Display. I caught this one in Yamaha Center at the corner of Reposo and Buendia. The whole piece is so dramatic, from lighting to props and the frames at the back. Of course, you have to enjoy it only at night.

4 - 6. Scoozi, Manny. Remember Eat in RCBC Plaza? It used to have an array of food choices from the same caterer. This time, the area is now open to other stalls like Starbucks and Scoozi. The carbonora I tried is not that exceptional but I appreciated the herbed toasts. I miss that building.


Sinabi dati ni Ricky Lee na kung gusto mo raw maging mahusay na manunulat, kailangang 'wag mong takasan ang isang sitwasyon na magpapaantig sa 'yong pakiramdam. Halimbawa, may nakita ka raw pulubi sa kalye, kailangan mong indahin ang anumang emosyon na sasanib sa 'yo. Itong emosyon na ito ang bibigyan mong buhay sa iyong mga isusulat.

Ang mga bata sa Missionaries of Charity sa Tayuman ay isang pagpapatunay na may mga nakatago pa palang emosyon sa katawan ko na wala pang anyo. Pinilit kong abalahin ang sarili ko sa ibang bagay katulad ng pagbubuhat ng tubig at pag-aayos ng mga ipapakain na arroz caldo sa mga bata. Ayoko kasi sana munang indahin ang mga dapat indahin kahit na ang iba sa mga kasama ko ay ginagawa na ito (sa playground, sa hallway, atbp.). Pero sa sandaling hinablot na ang kamay ko ng isang babaeng tsikiting na tinawag akong kuya ay hindi na ako nakatakas. Naramdaman ko ang kanilang pananabik. Pilit nilang ninamnam ang mga sandaling merong humahawak sa kanila, merong nag-aaruga, merong kalaro at merong nagpapakain. Gusto ko sanang isumpa ang sinumang mga magulang na may lakas ng loob na talikuran ang tungkulin sa kanilang mga anak pero wala na itong kapangyarihan na ibalik ang nagawa na. Sa isang hapon na iyon ng Sabado, naintindihan ko na ang desisyon ng ilang mga kaibigan sa hindi pagkakaroon ng anak. Binigyan na rin ako ng ideya sa mga pwede ko pang magawa pagdating ng dapit-hapon.

Hindi ko alam kung sinong dapat pasalamatan pero maraming salamat sa kakaibang biyahe na iyon sa Tayuman. Ang layo ng aking narating.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Leah Aquino Beat Lea Salonga Over a Spelling Bout!

It was more of a last-minute thing (I skipped a drinking bout because of this). Leah, Chelle and I caught the first night of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”. It’s a Tony award-winning musical that is being locally staged by the undisputed (for the lack of word) Atlantis Productions at RCBC Plaza's Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium. I have to note that the musical was conceived by a certain Rebecca Feldman. It was amazing to realize that some people can conceptualize a musical material out of events like a spelling bee. On this regard, can we have a musical about Java programming and about the people trying to fit in the MRT during rush hours?

Briefly, I have to note, too, that I enjoyed Bobby Garcia’s direction on this improvisation-like little show. This time, his skills are not overcome by big names, gigantic props and the material’s reputation. I can’t say anything about the music or the singing. On acting department, everybody’s a revelation but Thea Tadiar’s Marcy Park has the finest sting.

The best part of the experience, of course, was Leah’s participation as a guest speller. FYI, each show has two guest spellers from the crowd and two celebrity spellers (ours had THE Lea Salonga and Jett Pangan, no less). After 10 minutes of the run, the hosts called the spellers from the crowd and they were seated beside the singing cast.

First round was a set of easy words (well, for guest spellers only). I remember Jett Pangan being given the word “idea” and the host used it in a sentence using the lyrics of The Dawn’s “Enveloped Ideas”. Lea Salonga had “dog” and Leah Aquino had “bingo” which the host defined while humming the tune “b-i-n-g-o”.

Before proceeding to another round, there were some musical numbers. One song even involved the guest spellers in a series of choreography. Chelle and I enjoyed this part. Imagine Leah sharing the stage with Lea Salonga.

For the more difficult round, the other non-celebrity speller was the first to bid goodbye then Jett Pangan (which was given a mind-bending Indian-American word). Leah spelled the word “nantle” correctly. As for Lea Salonga, she was given a really difficult one. I forgot the word but it has a “greacum” at the end. Lea spelled it as “greekum” and she had to say goodbye. Leah, on the other hand, was asked to spell “caterjunes” which she didn’t miss. To force Leah to be eliminated, she was given a word with five to six syllables, something that no human being can spell correctly. As a consolation, one of the actors sang another number that required Leah to enjoy more screen time, complete with her name’s inclusion in the lyrics.

I Googled later that there are no such words as “nantle” and “caterjunes”. Wikipedia explained that the show used it to somewhat control the flow of the play. Well, I hope Leah is not reading this. Judging by the way people in the elevator recognized her, she had fun as much as we did.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Life is an iPhone # 003

Clockwise from top row:

1. Colasa's Temptation. Pork barbecue and chicken liver from Colasa's in Timog.

2. Let's Get Digital. The first Lucena-bound I took with a digital sign. I even caught the driver and conductor typing in the entry.

3. The Original Vitamin Water. Forget about the Manny Pacquiao-endorsed VitWater. There's a copycat and there's always the original. The one in picture is "Focus".

4. Technicolor Kropek. Only from Guava's, my other favorite sit-down restaurant.

5. The Resthouse. It is my uncle's resthouse in the fishpond area in Brgy. Mal-ay in Lopez, Quezon. I wish to retire in a similar place someday. You can see my uncle waving at the camera.

6. Look, Ma, Screen Protector! I finally laid the original screen plastic cover from Canon to rest. That was after being dissed a thousand times on having a blurred screen. They said I'm a 100% Pinoy for keeping it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Beer Conversations with Jao Mapa

Last Friday, the 13th, I picked up the painting that Jao Mapa did for me. It was a consignment, he said, and it was only one of the two similar set-ups. My understanding of a consignment is that it’s a special arrangement between the buyer and the artist. Let me explain further.

First Meeting

Last February, I got a text from Jao that he is selling some of his artworks. I was interested, of course. His exhibited works at GT Tower a few months ago made a big impression on me: Jao Mapa can really paint.

In the evening of the same day, I found my self locating his place near Morato. From afar, he texted “I see you.” He was waiting for me at the building lobby. After a quick and awkward hi-hello, he asked me to follow him. “Matagal ka na rito?”, I asked. “Mga late 90’s pa. Until this year ko na lang ‘to babayaran.” I proudly mentioned, “Alam mo bang merong akong ATGB (the line of clothing he modeled for Bench) n’ung highschool?” He just answered with “Ah, As Time Goes By.” We reached the third level of the building without the help of any elevator (no wonder he doesn’t need to go to the gym). In his flat, we were greeted by his two sons, Benjamin and Caleb, while a household help was doing some chores. His wife and daughter, Stacey, must be sleeping already.

Then he showed me his collection. Some were either in a folder and were represented through pictures. “Nasa Antipolo ‘yung iba”, he said. I also saw drawings on standard size bond paper that depict football. “I play regularly at Meralco. I’m a football fan.” While browsing his collection, he would either offer a drink (it was damn hot that night) or he would lead the kids back to their room. I can say that most of his works would look good on my wall but I know that they are expensive. Then a particular painting caught my attention. It is entitled “Magkapatid”. It has two fishermen who are on their way home with their catch. He said it’s sold already or given away as a birthday gift but he said he could recreate it for me.

I told him that we’re only two in the family and my brother is eight years older than me. “May gusto ka bang background?” he asked. “Ikaw nang bahala.” Done deal. I gave him 1/3 of the payment and we agreed to meet again for pick-up after three weeks.

Friday, the 13th

Fast forward to last Friday. After Jaejay Po and I had a forget-the-no-meat-Friday dinner with pork barbecue and chicken liver at Colasa’s along Timog, Jaejay dropped me to Jao Mapa’s place. The time that Jaejay was leaving the street, Jao was coming up from his van, with the canvass on one hand. We found our spot in the sari-sari store opposite the condo building. “Magulo sa ‘taas eh, dito na lang tayo”, he apologized.

For a minute or two, I admired the painting. It was sunnier than I expected. It would definitely complement the space adjacent to my bed. “Ayos ‘yan kahit gloomy sa room. Glow-in-the-dark”, he joked. We were now seated on two separate cemented benches perpendicular to the sari-sari store window. Sometimes we have to cut our conversation when people were buying soda or getting a celfone load. I handed him the balance when no one was around. “Ayos ah, sa kalye talaga tayo nagbabayaran”, he said. “Beer?”, he offered. We got a bottle each of San Mig Light, his treat.


He mentioned that he just came from a dubbing session for the Osang film “Pasang Krus” and he will be giving me two premiere night tickets for the movie. We had our first toast for Osang with the context of having him reminded of his Forbidden Questions with Mo Twister (specifically on the question about the celebs he had bedded). We discussed a lot. From his stint in “Baler” and the money he got from doing a Playboy-inspired direct to video film called “Misstaken”. I asked him who he thinks is the most promising new actor. “Sid Lucero”, which I agreed and mentioned more names like Coco Martin, Alchris Galura and Jay Aquitania. We also discussed his MMK days, particularly the "Payaso" episode with Edgar Mortiz and Ai-ai delas Alas. I countered that with another feature with Giselle Toengi and his Star Drama Theater Presents episode with Ricky Davao. “Hindi ko na maalala ‘yan. Ang tindi ng memory mo”. I just quipped, “Anak kasi ako ng telebisyon”.

Since we were distracted with people coming by and purchasing something, I decided to reach his bench and left the painting on the other side. He sometimes greeted his neighbors “Uy, kumusta na?”. Others were just plain starstruck and were trying to figure out a familiar face. The street wasn’t busy. Then we had another round of San Mig Light. This time, it was my treat. At this point, the household help came by and dispensed the premiere night tickets. We further talked about Erik Matti, the film “Serbis”, Aureus Solito’s next film and his upcoming stint at Enchanted Kingdom with Roselle Nava. “I turned down the Senakulo because the Enchanted offer came first.” It is going to be a musical, by the way. I’m guessing it’s an excerpt. He later texted me the schedule. I also bragged about my ambitious trips and said that I was recently delegated to Kentucky. “It’s a red-neck state”, he opined. He also shared his trip to the US and how his uncle once brought him to a strip bar. Or at one time, he played “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” and “Wonderwall” in a party in LA.

We also talked about family.

After finishing my second beer, I had to say goodbye to Jao Mapa. We shook hands and asked him if I can blog about the meeting. “Please”, he said. Then I found my self heading to the next corner with the painting in tow, hailing a cab.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Life is an iPhone # 002

Clockwise from top row:

1. Memorial registry board. Ninety-seven years. I don't know if life is worth living for close to a century. I don't know what else is rewarding.

2. Flowers for the departed. Shot in the lobby of Loyola Chapel in 20th Avenue, right before the funeral service. It wasn't set that way at first. When I started aiming my iPhone at them, a staff arranged it for me.

3. Candles on the floor. No significance whatsoever. I just found them lying on the floor and it's a bit weird.

4. Interment coordinator. It was my first time to hear such job title. For that afternoon, our interment coordinator introduced her self first and later on asked us to reflect on a religious quote. She wasn't smiling. Everything was recited a la Hallmark greeting card. On the final blessing, she requested those at the back to be the first in line then the last row of seats down to the relatives in front.

5. Memorial park. Loyola in Marikina, to be exact. Not shown in the picture, but at the gate is a new memorial for the Master Rapper, Francis Magalona. In front of it is a meter-long bronze rose.

6. Pamahiin. In the picture are officemate Ivan Domingo, my cousin and Ivan's wife, Lesley, plus the very cute Maegan, their first born. Right before the actual burial, Ivan positioned on the other side of the casket, got Maegan from Lesley and returned the baby back. Another first experience for me. I don't know what it meant but my suspicion is for the baby to have a long and fruitful life.

Movie Digest # 055

Greenbelt 3, Cinema 1, March 5, 8:00pm

I almost liked the film. Good production design, costume (probably a nominee in next year’s Oscars) and young audience-friendly action scenes. The script is a hate-it or love-it balancing act (for me, it’s just plain campy). My only comment goes to the main villain. An upright planting, if not a back story, should be incorporated to justify how he thinks in the film’s last few minutes. It’s very crucial as the material tries to post a moral question on saving humanity. Plus, I haven’t seen any similar film that allots a big chunk of screen time just to establish the characters’ roots. Good job, too, on making the superheroes more human, vulnerable and more interesting than their costumes.

Friends who might appreciate it: Atenistas.

Robinson’s Galleria, Indie Sine, March 6, 6:20pm

It’s difficult to write a capsule review on a concept-driven films like this one. There’s too many to discuss and share about. Anyway, in summary, the film tells the story of a pedicab driver whose life is entangled with different other lives. Three out-of-nowhere scenes are introduced, each megged with a different light and feel. It was not making sense at first but it turned out that the film’s twist has the final say to it. The material, by the way, is a Palanca winner. No wonder that the film boasts of positive human values, told in a very unconventional way. Rita Avila, as a drug addict turned killer, delivered one of the better performances on her acting career. Jay Aquitania is also good but he’s not given with any fireworks scene.

Friends who might appreciate it: those who are in for a new a nice ride.

Glorietta 4, Cinema 4, March 10, 7:45pm

In a nutshell, the film is a story of a relationship that is grounded by depression and hysteria. The idea perhaps is similar to Michael Winterbottom’s “9 Songs” wherein another tale of a relationship is told in a very sexual (read: pornographic) manner. Expect lots of shouting and screaming and confrontation between the two leads, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. The best metaphor I could give to film’s body is having Charice Pempengco sing another birit song: histrionic and/or appealing. Too bad that the leads lack the spirit to perfectly humanize their performance but Sam Mendes’ beautiful blocking, both theatrical and cinematic, saves the day. The best part for me is the last few minutes when the assessment/commentary comes in. Lesson to be had is that we should know when to listen and not to listen to our other half.

Friends who might appreciate it: those who are getting married next week.

Glorietta 4, Cinema 3, March 10, 10:30pm

A roller-coaster ride, period. There’s no need for you to think or analyze because the film will not allow you. It is that fast paced. Entertaining. And by the way, Luc Besson co-wrote the script.

Friends who might appreciate it: to those who wish to figure out how young/old Liam Neeson is.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Life is an iPhone # 001

Clockwise from top row:

1. Nenen's red umbrella in Lopez. Rain always reminds me of childhood.

2. One of Neo Day Spa's massage rooms. I had to make an emergency visit when I was hit by rayuma right before our trip to Mt. Pinatubo. Their foot massage is both costly and heavenly.

3. BBQ Chicken's fried chicken. Ed Levine is qouted saying "the best fried chicken ever". Not bad for around P170 from a famous Korean fast food chain.

4. Cultural Center of the Philippines. It's compelling to capture the "bowl" at dusk.

5. Some buildings along Roxas Boulevard. I don't know what hit me with the afternoon lighting. I just felt the urge to capture the scene.

6. Eula Valdez with fans. Zsazsa Zaturnnah, Ze Musical rerun at CCP. Lea Salonga was one of the crowd. It's amazing to hear her laugh as if there's no tomorrow.
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