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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Philography File # 011: The Apo Hiking Society

Accomplished last May 29, Saturday, after their farewell concert "Paalam nAPO" at the Music Museum.

The APO revolutionizes the OPM during the 80's. Their career spans 40 years and their achievements, be it musically or otherwise, serve as an inspiration to other Filipino artists.

The APO’s Swan Song

Maybe this week can be called the “good in goodbye” week.

While writing this blog, I’m listening to Apo’s last album called “Boboy, Jim and Danny – Apo Hiking Society” which has a stamp somewhere that reads “Final Edition”. I got it from last night’s concert “Paalam nAPO” which is a farewell concert series from the Atenista trio. Last night happens to be their very last together.

As opposed to other events that I had attended, this one kept me away from updating through my mobile. Basically I just wanted to enjoy the show from the group whose music shaped a big part of my high school life. No, don’t get me wrong. It was not the “Pumapatak Ang Ulan” or “Blue Jeans” days but more of songs from their album “Mga Kuwento ng Apo” which was released in 1990. From there is my favorite track (and probably my favorite Apo song) entitled “Huwag Masanay sa Pagmamahal” which is melodramatically dialogued by a fighting couple voiced by Sharon Cuneta and Edu Manzano. It’s actually a “duet” with Kuh Ledesma and it tells the consequences on being a slave of this thing called love. It asks “Bakit kailangan ng mayroong kasama?”, an oxymoron to their other song that consents the listener to love somebody else’s girlfriend (“Mahirap Magmahal ng Syota ng Iba”). Maybe it’s the melody that really struck me most then.

Also from the same album are other memorable songs “Awit ng Barkada” (which was my then circle of friends’ theme song), “Piece of the Peace” (a song our high school glee club sang during the United Nations Day), “Wala Nang Hahanapin Pa” (one of the most sensitive OPM songs about women) and “Sa Bawat Umaga” (a reggae-ish song written by Boboy, a take on paying tribute to your roots and positivism).

Back to the concert, it was opened by the all-female jazz trio Baihana (I’ve seen them before and they are good) then later on joined by the great Bituin Escalante. She quipped something like “Baihana is starting their career while the Apo is leaving and I am (in) Bituin.” The crowd liked it. Bituin did a haunting acoustic version of “Bato sa Buhangin”. Apo opened the concert with two numbers that tell something about forming a group and about what they are now. Then they sang “Pumapatak ang Ulan” which jumpstarted a string of their hits. Since concerts normally run for two hours only, they just sang a medley or excerpt of their other popular songs.

In between of course were some funny spiels about Danny’s two failed marriages and dark complexion, Boboy’s wavelength and Jim’s elite take on things. The church bell somewhere in the Visayas that rings “Dung, Dung” over “Ding Dong” is unforgettable. Along with the segment when they discussed hit song titles that are more of a question than an answer. It was supposed to be a battle of wits as Jim asked something like “Do You Know Where You’re Going To?” on which Boboy retorted with “New York, New York”. It ended with the most difficult question, “Nakaligo ka na ba sa dagat ng basura?” Boboy then asked, “Akala ko ba hits eh number three lang ‘yan ah!” The crowd laughed big time. The Philippine president apparent Noynoy Aquino was among those who watched and he was discreet about the joke. At one portion, the trio sang some possible Noynoy campaign jingles. One of it has lines that mention “Nakakalbo” and “May kapatid na maarte”. That’s really, really hilarious for the audience, Noynoy included.

Their encore song (check out the video here) was supposed to be a top 40 hits crossover with Filipino folk songs, an act that only the Apo can do (and I’m guessing that no OPM artist is brave and nationalistic enough to perform a number like that in the future). If you’ve been to one of their concerts, you’ve probably heard it. In fact, their version of top 40 is not that updated (the latest is Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” which is so late 90’s). Then they said goodbye and jumped altogether (there's a video here). Of course the crowd shouted for more and they obliged. They sang the endearing “Yakap sa Dilim” which is a paean for calling it a night (I caught this one on video, too).

You know it’s over when their family came from backstage and hugged them. Then they group hugged and made a graceful exit. A lingering thought is saying to me, about facing the final curtain on career, that the best part of it is when family (the prime reason why we earn money for a living) is there waiting for your return.

To Apo Hiking Society, thank you. You’ve just closed a golden era. More pictures here.

Movie Digest # 073

Glorietta 4, Cinema 1, May 12, 8:05pm

At first, it’s just another plot on soul swapping. Then it moves on and explores the other side of humanity called self contentment. And yes, this is a Filipino movie, an intelligent one from Palanca-winner Chris Martinez (“Last Order sa Penguin”, “Kimmy Dora”, “100”, etc.). There are still some residues of slapstick but in general, I can say we’re maturing. The story (and its absurdity) reminds me of Megan Simpson Huberman’s “Dating the Enemy” with Guy Pearce. There’s a key scene there wherein the character is seen making love with his/her own body using somebody else’s. More than the concept, “Here Comes the Bride” also boasts of one of the best acting ensembles in Pinoy comedy of late: Angelica Panganiban, Eugene Domingo, Tuesday Vargas, John Lapus and Jaime Fabregas. I think the film will falter if given to a different set of actors. Now feel free to get rid of Wenn Deramas.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who haven’t seen a Star Cinema comedy yet.

SM Mall of Asia, Cinema 1, May 15, 4:30pm

As of this moment, I still don’t get it why Russel Crowe has to be Robin Hood. For me, he doesn’t have the look but for one thing, he’s a great actor. And this is one of the reasons why the film is endurable for two hours, watching an actor (along with equally great and another Aussie actor Cate Blanchett) do a Hollywood popcorn film directed by a Hollywood popcorn film director. Past that, the prequel concept is creative enough but I’m not sure why it doesn’t have much punches. The action sequences towards the end are enjoyable. That’s all I can say.

Friends who might appreciate it: The younger generation (at least you have your own Robin Hood).

Greenbelt 3, Cinema 2, May 20, 1:00pm

I remember blurting out after watching the movie that it’s the best Shrek sequel ever (and I’m glad that it’s the last one). The plot involves our ogre sacrificing one day of his life to turn back to the time that when he’s living a simple life. He only realizes later about its consequences and tries his very best to undo things. Predictable and less humorous, yes, but definitely high on redeeming value. I watched in on 3D but I don’t think it’s necessary. Just don’t miss the theme song sung by Landon Pigg & Lucy Schwartz. It’s called “Darling, I Do”.

Friends who might appreciate it: Hubert Golong.

Robinsons Galleria, Cinema 7, May 22, 3:40pm

I missed to catch this when first shown at Cinemanila 2009. I know the reasons now why it didn’t get the buzz usually a good movie gets. It’s another deconstruction of a Filipino family story set in a provincial town somewhere in the north. It’s about Dolores, a young girl, who became the object of desire to her male relatives including her grandfather and a distant uncle while her mother chose to become an OFW to earn a meager income. The concept is serviceable but most of the sequences are poorly orchestrated. One scene has Dolores prompting her respectable elder brother to touch her body in confusion that all the males around her are evil. It’s supposed to be an important scene that could highlight the ending but pure intention is perhaps lost somewhere. Dido dela Paz could take over the roles fit for Johnny Delgado though this one’s a waste of effort for him.

Friends who might appreciate it: Prince of Persia (it’s a joke).

Greenbelt 3, Cinema 1, May 28, 9:00pm

This CGI-decorated film tells the story of an adopted prince who made his mark amidst the chaos planted inside the kingdom of Persia. Watching it without any expectations from Mike Newell, the film’s director, is perhaps the best part. I enjoyed every twist and turn of it, especially those that involve engaging parkour scenes. The only drawback I find though is Princess Tamina’s insignificantly distracting British accent. Good acting from Jake Gyllenhaal. It’s so obvious that he put a lot of heart in the film including those sequences that would require him to be physically believable as a warrior.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who like the fourth installment of Harry Potter, the movie.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Gathering Wind

Photo courtesy of the Malabanan couple

Two years or so ago, I stopped reading the horoscope page. I wasn’t really religious about astrology and it’s more of just a guilty pleasure to me. Until yesterday, while reading the Philippine Star on a late afternoon, I gave in. I thought that the day would be over in a few hours and I was confident that what I will be reading would not affect the rest of my Wednesday.

Here it goes:

VIRGO: A gathering wind is sending new things your way, especially people and opportunities. Surrender to it. Put up your sail, and let it carry you to your next adventure.
For the same date at a later time, I was invited to a send-off party for Junel (who is US-bound next week). The venue happens to be somewhere in Pasig, near C5, and from a perspective from someone from Makati, it’s a bit far. Though I was on CTO yesterday, I was considering if I should stay (and watch TV) or go (and get drunk on a weekday). Not to mention that I don’t have any directions with me on how to reach the place. The only clue I have is Pasig.

At 8pm, I rang Pipe and decided to attend. I was surprised that the cab driver is familiar with the place. My trip became a client-and-shrink-like experience as the driver shared his views on life and on striving to have a good family amidst a high school drop-out son and an overspending wife. He said, “Huwag ka nang mag-asawa.”

But that’s just an appetizer. What’s more surprising is that the send-off party became more of a reunion to me. Most of the people from SPL (my employer before we got purchased) were there. There were three long tables set up in front of Borbs’ place and it’s good to see a sea of smiles the moment I joined them. Not really a big number but all the “sectors” were properly represented. V was there as well as, not in chronological order, Erik, Beth, Kaloy, Peng, Josh, Alou, Jacq, Redy, Orly, Teds, Dodgie, Junel and Borbs (of course), Maine, Jon, Jojo, Obet, Jenny (!), Pads, Jing, William, Love plus the “kids” Marian, Jonard and Chabby. Housewives and kids were there, too.

The experience was surreal. It suddenly brought me back to good old days when words, among other things, matter and fun really means fun. We reminisced, we laughed, we discussed, we heard pieces of advice, we took pictures and we drank, all in the glory of end-of-era camaraderie. After having a ball with the food (including that yummy chicken pwet from William and Love's Chicken Ati-Atihan, I was informed) and two bottles of Red Horse beer, we wished Junel and V good luck. We didn’t just say goodbye, we made sure that everybody has a ride and that the road out is clear.

Hubes is right with what he mentioned about the new career adventure he is taking. He noted, “On the brighter side, this new adventure I will take will give me things to look forward to... and one of these is meeting you again. That's the good in goodbye.”

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Topak Chopra 101: ‘Wag Nang Pumasok Kung Late Na

Napulot ko lang sa Plurk kanina, tungkol sa isang insidente ng hindi paghabol sa team meeting dahil late na. Siguro, ang context ay nakakahiya nga naman na gagawa ka ng eksena habang pumapasok sa isang room at magtitinginan sa ‘yo lahat ang mga tao. Personally, ayoko rin ng ganun na mare-remind pa ang lahat ng aking kakulangan.

On a wider perspective, baka mas masaya kung iko-consider mo na lang na absent ka sa pagkakataong iyon. Assuming syempre na marami ka pang VL o SL. Primarily, kahit papaano, hindi ka mababansagan na late. Masasalba mo pa ang sarili mo sa hindi pagpapakita kesa magpakita ka at doon pa lang isipin kung paano isasalba ang sarili. Baka nga mas selfish at KSP ang dating kung ii-insist natin na pasukin pa rin ang isang bagay na nagsimula na o buo na bago pa man tayo dumating. Ang drawback lang dito, lalabas ang kawalan natin ng halaga, na may mga bagay palang patuloy pa ring iikot o tatakbo kahit wala tayo.

Ikalawa, hindi mo magugulo ang quorum. Kapag ang isang bagay ay buo na at papasukin ito para guluhin ulit, at kalaunan ay pipiliting mabuo, mas maraming step ang dadaanan. Ibig sabihin, mas maraming effort ang kailangang ilabas. ‘Yun nga lang, posibleng mas mapabuti ang isang bagay kung malaki o makabuluhan pala ang contribution mo rito. Mas greater good pala kung meron kang naitulong.

May isang kaso ng isang mangingibig na pumasok sa isang relasyong buo na. Nag-uumpisa na ang “meeting” at pilit pa rin itong pinasok dahil siguro sa ngalan ng pag-ibig. Nagkaroon ng option ang mangingibig na hindi pumasok subalit kinailangan daw s’ya ng isa sa mga attendee at ito’y kanyang pinagbigyan. Nasa ganitong limbo ang “meeting” at hindi pa alam kung kelan ito madi-dismiss.

Muli, napaisip ako. Tama ba talaga na kapag late na ay ‘wag nang pumasok? Tingin ko, ang bottomline talaga rito ay hindi ka dapat nale-late sa anumang bagay. Kung gusto mong makinabang sa mga bagay habang ito ay hilaw pa, dumating ka nang maaga. Kung na-late ka, lumingon ka nang saglit at tanggapin mo na lang kung ano ang iyong madadatnan.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Life is an iPhone # 038

Clockwise from top row:

1. Greenbelt 5. On my way from Greenbelt 1 to Greenbelt 3 one lazy VL afternoon, I got a glimpse of this not-so-new addition to the Ayala Malls. Trees did the highlight;

2. Rufo’s Again. This time around, I tried a new dish called adobong tokwa (something like that). That’s for P40 plus an oriental soup (whatever that is) and crema de fruta. It’s good but I should be loyal to their beef tapa next time;

3. Josh’s Treat. It was meant to be a simple despedida lunch for Hubes at Zong’s but since it was Josh’s birthday week, the rest of his batch mates wooed him to have an ice cream treat. So, there you go;

4. Patio Jose. Visited the set of Daisy Siete’s Adam or Eve at this resort owned by Jose Manalo of Eat Bulaga. It’s located at Matahimik St. (though the area is not really that quiet) near V. Luna in Quezon City. I’m not sure about the price but it’s very similar to the swimming resorts in Antipolo;

5. Ayala Corner Buendia. It was past midnight on Labor Day. I took a jeep to Washington (now it sounds funny) and alighted at the Ayala corner Buendia just to try this pares right in the middle of the intersection. It costs roughly P30 and it was hot and delicious;

6. Other Fishes in the Aquarium. What’s with this aquarium and its calming effect?;

Life is an iPhone # 037

Clockwise from top row:

1. Squid Flakes from Cebu. Got this yummy pack from Pipe. Taken on a cab while on my way back to the apartment. Obviously, I can’t resist it so I grabbed the chance to take a picture of it first before munching it out. Best squid flakes ever? You bet;

2. Cine Adarna Again. Aside from the experience itself, what’s more memorable is that I saw an officemate in the audience. I’m not sure if it has something to do with the two X-ed films but the MTRCB hullabaloo is surely making a good advertisement. That scene with a newspaper highlighting PGMA’s face is both disturbing and freeing. The audience clapped in amazement;

3. Ah, Ayala Malls. I always remind myself that if there’s a mall that I can call home, it must be Glorietta (and it’s neighboring Greenbelt). First, I was about to invade college then when my brother brought me to the mall on its opening/launching week. It was a weeklong celebration of big time concerts and the like. The experience of hitting the Glorietta cinemas for the first time is priceless. It was the dawn of state-of-the-art mall theater evolution. If my memory serves me right, the year was 1993;

4. Xen Time. Just like our once-in-a-blue-moon lunch outs, it was well spent with funny stories (at least, for us, it’s funny, hahaha) and good food (this one’s at Sugarhouse at Burgos Circle in The Fort). Xen, by the way, is the reason why I joined SPL;

5. Soup Kitchen. I ordered this from the RCBC Plaza branch. What happened to their Glorietta store? As expected, their comfort food remains king;

6. Kangkongkernitz! Brought two friends from New Zealand/Australia in Giligan’s Island and had them try a plate of adobong kangkong (plus sisig and baked tahong). I think they liked it. I got a big almond chocolate bar in return. Swell!;

Life is an iPhone # 036

Clockwise from top row:

1. Hai There. Interior of Hai Bar, taken on a Friday evening. What’s unusual is that it doesn’t look crowded. Taken last March during Kat’s birthday treat. It's located near S&R in The Fort;

2. Promdi Inuman. Taboo it may sound but this was taken at one of the restaurants in Lopez during the holy week. I forgot the name. Something like Gekko’s or Jecko’s and it’s located near the town plaza. What mattered most there was the catching up part with high school buddies;

3. Churchyard Film Screening. I know that the iPhone picture will suffer the consequence of a poorly lit subject like this but I just want to document the event. On our way home from a drinking bout (check out the previous picture), we passed through the church and we were amazed at this film screening under the stars (and the trees and the rustic evening breeze). The church facade was used as a screen while the crowd was seated everywhere (park bench, Monobloc, etc.). It wasn’t that well attended but it got me. The film is probably one of those Tagalized Bible stories;

4. Slamat Lorrrd. I admire two things: the ingenuity on the material itself for coming up with a stress free and eye-friendly ad and the wit on the acronym is unmistakably Pinoy;

5. Egg Tart. From Lord Stow’s Bakery. Period;

6. Korean Goodies. From Korean-looking Keith after his vacation there. I hope to visit that place someday;

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Gusto Ko Lang Ikuwento Kung Paano Ako Bumoto Noong Isang Linggo

Nakita ko sa MOA ‘yung poster ng talk ni Al Gore dito sa Pinas sa June 8. Bigla ko lang naalala ‘yung tatlong bagay na sinabi n’ya na dapat gawin ng isang tao para maging imortal. Una, mag-asawa at magkaanak. Ikalawa, magtanim ng puno. At ikatlo, magsulat ng journal na ginagawa ko na ngayon. So ayun, parang gusto ko namang meron akong naisulat tungkol sa pagboto ko sa kauna-unahang automated elections sa Pinas.

Heto ang sequence:

1. May kasalanan ako sa umpisa. Hindi ko sinunod ang “bayan muna bago ang sarili”. Meron kasing season finale ang The Amazing Race 16 (TAR16). Hindi ako nakasabay sa pagpunta sa presinto ng aking mga magulang. Pero masyado ring maaga nang sila ay umalis (around 7am);

2. Bumalik sina mom and dad ng mga 8am. Nagrereklamo si dad na masyado raw magulo. At hindi na rin nila nakayanan ang init ng araw. Kailangan din n’yang uminom muna ng gamot. Pero nasa pila na sila n’un at babalik na lang pagkatapos. Consequently, hindi natuloy ang pagpapalabas ng TAR16 ng Studio 23 matapos nitong ipakita ang unang bahagi. Hindi ako nakatiis, nangulit ako sa ABS-CBN at nakakuha naman ako ng reply sa Twitter. Pinaboran nila ang pagko-cover ng eleksyon sa pamamagitan ng pagpapalabas ng kung anumang meron sa ANC. Ipapalabas na lang daw ng 7:15pm. Dito ko na naisip ang “bayan muna bago ang sarili” at nahiya ako;

3. Pasado alas-10 ng umaga, sumugod ako sa kainitan at nag-tricycle sa aking high school kung saan ginagawa ang botohan para sa mga taga-Brgy. Talolong. Nakita ko r’un ang aking kaklase at kaibigan (at soon to be a dad) na si Zherwin na tila matagal nang nakapila;

4. Dito ko lang naintindihan kung bakit matagal at mahaba ang pila. Ang dating walo o siyam na presinto n’ung manual na eleksyon ay naging tatlo na lang. Itinalaga ito depende sa dami ng Precinct Count Optical Scan (o PCOS) machine. Madalas kong marinig sa mga palabas sa TV n’ung umaga na ‘yun na ang term dito ay “clustered precinct”;

5. Karamihan sa mga kaibigan ko sa Facebook at Twitter ay naghintay rin nang matagal. Sabi nga ng slogan ni Noynoy, “hindi ka na nag-iisa”;

6. Ang naibigay sa akin na queue number ay 435 mula sa ikatlong clustered precinct na sa aking pagkakaalala ay pinagsamang precinct number 6a, 6b, 7a at 8a. Sa mga nakakita ng number ko n’ung oras na ‘yun, sinasabi nilang lahat na mga 7pm pa ako makakaboto talaga;

7. At 11am, back to homebase. Ganito rin ang ginawa ni Nenen. Kumain, nanood ng TV at natulog lang ako hanggang 3pm;

8. Bumalik si Nenen sa Lopesay (ang aking high school) ng mga 1pm at inumpisahan nang pumila muli. Nasa 400 na rin ang kanyang queue number at sa tulong ng text ay binabalitaan n’ya ako kung anong number na ang bomoboto sa aming clustered precinct. Lumalabas na mas mabilis ang pag-usad ng kanyang pila kesa sa akin;

9. Pinaka-logical na bumalik ako ng mga 4pm n’un. Medyo hindi na masungit ang init ng araw at tingin ko ay tamang tama lang ito para sa aking queue number. Kasalukuyang 385 na ang tinatawag n’un kaya tumambay muna ako sa puwesto ng aking mga kaibigan na sina Jorel at Melea. Nakalibre pa ako ng sweet corn habang naghihintay. Naaliw rin ako sa biglang pagpasok ng isang kamukha (at kadamit) ni Lady Gaga;

10. Mga pasado 5pm na ako n’ung nakaboto talaga. Maayos naman ang pila at walang gulo sa aming presinto. Masaya rin ako nang makita ang isa pang kaklase na si Elvira na nakasuot ng DepEd na polo shirt. Isa s’ya maraming bayaning guro na tumutulong sa eleksyon. Hindi ko s’ya nakitaan ng pagod o stress;

11. Mahaba ang balota at medyo mahirap itong sawayin minsan dahil maiksi lang ang arm ng mga arm chair. Nakatulong naman nang kaunti ang pinagdugtong na folder bilang pantakip dito. Tama si Gibo, maliliit pala ang mga “bilog na hugis itlog” na kailangang itiman. Takot na takot ako na baka magkulang ang pag-itim ko kung hindi man lumabis;

12. May nauna sa akin sa pagsubo ng balota sa PCOS machine. Mag-asawa ito. Inaalalayan ng lalake ang kanyang misis. Tatlong beses nilang isinalang ang balota bago ito makatanggap ng “congratulations”. Kinabahan ako n’ung turn ko na pero wala akong nagawa, one click lang sa akin. Best in shading siguro ako;

13. Sa sobrang tiwala sa akin ng kaklase kong si Elvira ay ako na ang pinaglagay n’ya ng indelible ink. Iniasa na n’ya sa akin kung paano ko gustong dumihan ang hintuturo ko. Tinipid ko ang pagkakataon at hindi na pinaagos ang ink sa tagiliran ng aking kuko;

14. Pumapatak na pitong oras ang ipinalo ng aking pagboto;

15. Hinintay pala ako nina Jorel at Melea at sabay-sabay na kaming umuwi. Dumaan kami sa tulay na naug-og (hanging bridge) na parang mga high school student lang;

16. In general, wala namang aberya ang kauna-unahang automated elections. Nakakapanindig-balahibo minsan ang bilis at accuracy nito. Parang wala ring masyadong balita ng dayaan at mabilis na nag-concede ang mga hindi pinalad na presidentiable. Bibo rin ang mga TV network sa paghahatid ng balita kaya gising na gising ang taumbayan. Nakakaaliw ang hologram war nila, sa totoo lang; at

17. Wala siguro sa 25% ng aking ibinoto ang nanalo. Pero hindi na ito mahalaga. Kampante naman akong nabilang ang aking boses nang maayos. Optimistic ako na matiwasay ang pagkakalatag ng kinabukasan ng eleksyon sa Pilipinas.

Back to the 90’s

My original plan for May 15 was to have my fifth Pahiyas in Lucban. Unfortunately, it didn’t push through because someone backed out. And fortunately, Jeman (yes, our Playboy event access) offered two free gold tickets to Then & Now Massive Music Festival at SM Mall of Asia Concert Ground. It’s a concert featuring nine international artists mostly from the 90’s (read: Diana King, All-4-One, PM Dawn and SWV). Minutes after receiving the good news through text, I offered the other ticket to Plurk friends but to no avail. Got no other 90’s person in mind but Abre. So, done.

In between front act (a certain R&B artist named Myrus) and the first performing artist, Jeman gave us two VIP tickets and off we rushed to do “ober da bakod”. Here’s the line-up:

1. V Factory – This group represents the “Now” part of the concert. A definitive boy band, complete with boy band choreography, they sang three or four songs which I just heard for the first time;

2. TQ – The night might be really hot as the female species of the crowd cheered when this artist took off his shirt in the middle of his act. He, by the way, popularized the hiphop-ish song “Westside”;

3. PM Dawn - Remember that song with Spandau Ballet’s “True” at the background? It’s called “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss”. He sang it along with three or four other familiar songs. He was wearing three stars and a sun shirt;

4. Diana King – Of course everybody knows “Shy Guy” and that Burt Bacharach remake from “My Best Friend’s Wedding” called “Say A Little Prayer”. Her live rendition was simply awesome and of high energy;

5. Frankie J – Another artist who’s not that familiar to me. The only song I recognized from his repertoire was his R&B version of Extreme’s “More Than Words”;

6. Baby Bash – When he joined Frankie J in a duet, I started to rest for a while and stargazed. Vince Hizon was there with his wife and he was celfone camcording the whole act. Francine Prieto was behind us while Mikel Campos was just a meter away. On the other side of the fence were Raymond Gutierrez and some girl friends. Cheska Garcia just passed by;

7. Jojo – While waiting for her band to set up, Jeman grabbed me and walked me into the backstage pass area. There I met some of the artists up close. We tried to get in Diana King’s makeshift room but the bouncer stopped us. Private time, he said. We saw Diana chatting with Keith Martin. Beside her room were two of the guys from All-4-One and Frankie J. Jeman asked for a picture so I obliged (as if I didn’t agree with the idea). Back to the VIP area, we only finished three or four songs (which were mostly Beyonce-ish for me) and left the venue;

It was past midnight already. That meant more than four hours of standing up and enduring the cranky audio. Sorry to the two remaining artists, I must say. It’s just a consolation that while driving away from the venue, I heard All-4-One singing “I Can Love You Like That”. Not bad at all. As Jeman quotes a SWV (one of the last two artists) song lyrics, “I get so weak in the knees I can hardly speak. I lose all control and something takes over me.”

SIDE TRIP: Before the concert, we tried this ice cream shop at SM Mall of Asia called Sebastian’s (near IMAX). It’s a local store but a bit expensive. The one I had was frozen pizza with macadamia nuts and chunks of white chocolate (P195). Dinner at Spam Jam with sandwich and lemonade for P72. Surprisingly enough, they only have three meal choices: a sushi-like serving, sandwich and the one with rice and egg. Post-concert hang-out at Barcino Wine Bar in Greenbelt 2 with two bottles of Estrella Galicia and Croquetas de Marisco (really, really yummy chewy dish with crabmeat) and Calamares Romana (soft because it’s more sautéed than fried) as appetizers. My wallet had to say bye-bye to 600 bucks. In two separate tables were Sam Milby, John Pratts, Angelica Panganiban and Derek Ramsay, and Anne Curtis, Luis Manzano, Solenn Heussaff (?) with three other artista-looking companions.

More pictures here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Little Tokyo, Big Appetite

I frequented Makati Cinema Square area in Pasong Tamo before when it used to house two or three cinemas during its heydays. Now, it’s just another haven for bootleg DVDs and some celfone shops. Nearby is a Japanese place called Little Tokyo, which I usually ignore because of the impression that the food there is pricey.

Not until dinner time yesterday. With the “bosings”, off we tried this restaurant called Seryna which has a very good reputation when it comes to authentic Japanese food. According to one website, it’s a favorite spot among the Japanese here in Metro Manila.

Well, it is pricey, true, but the food is really great. The ambience is also, err, very Japanese (for the lack of words). They even have sliding door rooms that would require you to eat in Indian sit. Seeing the place being busy at 8pm is an indication that they are cooking (and serving) the right way.

I’m not a raw food connoisseur but the Goten Ten Mori (P505) that I tried from their Sashimi Moriawase selection is overwhelming for my appetite. It’s a long plate of mixed sashimi with tuna, salmon, squid, octopus and another fish variety. Since the Kaisen Gozen that was recommended to me prior to the visit is only available during lunch, the staff suggested an extra bowl of rice (P80) to complete the craving. Not really a good idea as the sashimi plate by itself is filling enough. Others tried ramen, tempura and spring roll dish that is cooked a la Vietnamese style. Miss Jenny said it’s really, really good.

Post-dinner was spent mostly at exploring Little Tokyo. We had takoyaki at Hana (P100 for six pieces) which is equally mouth-watering (and would probably be included in my best takoyaki list). For the real dessert, we had this green ice kachang-like sweet treat in melon flavor, also from Hana (P70). Invaded as well was the nearby Japanese grocery that sells goodies at P75 each (except probably for the smoked eel that Norman and Gray had). I bought two bags of chips that were recommended by the staff.

We left the place at close to 10pm after some picture-taking in the area. Takoyaki balls were still in the hot furnace and ten to fifteen people were still munching around. Satisfied as we were, planning for the next food stop is in tow. On my part, Little Tokyo, with a smile, check.

Seryna Japanese Restaurant is located at 2277 Chino Roces Ave., Makati City with telephone/fax numbers (+632) 894-3855 and (+632) 894-3853.

More pictures here.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Binondo Food Trip Redux

As promised from the first attempt, I had to be back in Binondo to take the Chinese food trail again. That happened yesterday, during the early noon with a new set of foody friends. Since I’m too lazy to map the route, let me just enumerate the stops we had (some of it is a rehash from the first try):

1. Chicken Deli – Pork Barbecue – P20 each per share
2. New Po-Heng Lumpia House – Fresh Lumpia and Misua – P25 each per share
3. Sincerity Cafe and Restaurant – Fried Chicken – P30 each per share
4. Suzhou Dimsum – Xiao Long Pao and Kuchay – P52.50 each per share
5. Salazar Bakery – Tikoy (take-out) – P60
6. Wan Chai Tea House – Kua Pao, Siomai, Hakaw and Radish Cake – P50 each per share
7. Wai Ying Fastfood – Cold Milk Tea (take-out) – P50 each per share
8. Estero Fastfood – Calamares, Chopsuey and Fried Frog Legs (skipped) – roughly P100 each per share

As for the food that I tried for the first time, the fresh lumpia is simply unforgettable. I’m not sure if it has something to do with the sauce. We even had a pep talk with a customer who was probably amused at us visiting the lumpia house. It was a good second stop. Both the fried chicken from Sincerity and xiao long pao from Suzhou proved that these food staples are confirmed to be one of Binondo’s finest. While at Salazar, we finished a serving of their custard cake and got introduced to a yogurt drink called Nutri-Express (thanks to Keith). It tastes like Yakult so somebody named it “Jakult”. I skipped the last stop, which is a hearty complete meal at Estero Fastfood. My tummy was already rallying against the idea of housing an extra load.

Understatement but food is always great when shared with friends. More pictures here and a video here of Jantzen's virginal xiao long pao experience.

Philography File # 010: Coco Martin

Accomplished last April 29, Thursday, during the Gawad Urian 2010 at Cine Adarna in UP Diliman.

Coco Martin is probably one of the greatest actors of his generation. From indie filmdom, he is now doing television shows for ABS-CBN.

Ilang Sidelight sa Gawad Urian 2010

Kumpara n’ung isang taon, mas maagang ginanap ang Gawad Urian ngayong taong ito (Abril 29). Mula sa CCP, lumipat naman sila sa Cine Adarna ng UP Diliman. Hindi ko alam kung may kinalaman ito na ang YCC, ang resident group of critics ng UP, ay tila yata mamahinga na ang pakpak sa paglipad. Kung bakit, wala akong ideya.

Kahit na umambon sa pagsapit ng gabi n’ung Huwebes na ‘yun, may ilang celebrity pa rin ang sumugod sa teatro ng UPFI upang parangalan ang mga natatanging aspetong pampelikula mula sa disenyo ng tunog hanggang sa pinakamahusay na pelikula ng taon.

Narito ang mga sidelight:

1. Kamukha ng inaasahan, maaga talagang dumarating sa venue ang mga Manunuri. At katulad ng mas inaasahan, naka-barong Tagalog pa rin sila;

2. Hindi nakakagulat na si Butch Francisco muli ang nag-host. This time, si Gelli de Belen naman ang kanyang co-host na isang magandang ideya. Sa taong ito, hindi pa rin nawawala ang estilo ni Butch na gulatin ang manonood sa paniniwalang nakukuha ng audience ang kanyang kakaibang wit. Sa isa sa mga pinaka-awkward na pagkakataon, habang pababa ng entablo ang nanalong si Linda Casimiro sa Pinakamahusay na Dulang Pampelikula, tinanong ito ni Butch mula sa mikropono. “Kayo ho ba ‘yung dating nagtatrabaho kay Bibsy Carballo?” Gusto ko sanang tumayo at balaan ang Manunuri. “Sir, wala ho kayo sa backstage.” Sa isa namang pagkakataon, sinabihan n'ya ang isang artista, sa mikropono rin, na "Ibinoto kita.";

3. Scene-stealer talaga si Eugene Domingo, sa harap man o likod ng tabing. S’ya ang nag-anunsyo ng Pinakamahusay na Pangalawang Aktres. Pagbungad pa lang n’ya, humirit agad. “Sabi sa akin, pumunta raw ako sa yellow marker eh apat ang dilaw rito.” Nagtawanan ang audience. Umadlib si Gelli at lumabas mula sa backstage. “Eugene, dito o!” Matapos mabanggit ang nanalo (si Marissa Sue Prado para sa pelikulang “Himpapawid”), nagkunyari itong nagpapahabol ng trophy pero sa kalaunan ay ibinigay rin. Speechless ang baguhang aktres. “Ganito pala ang pakiramdam!”, sambit n’ya. Sumingit si Eugene, “Hindi ko alam!” Nagtawanan ang mga manonood. Nasabi na lang ni Marissa, “Hindi ko na alam ang sasabihin ko.” Sinagot ito ni Eugene na parang “Ah, mag-thank you ka na lang tapos bumaba ka na.” Mas malakas ang tawanan ng mga tao;

4. Nakakagulat na nominado ang pelikulang “Anacbanua” sa screenplay. Koleksyon kasi ito ng mga imahe at tulang Panggalatok. Walang flow ng kuwento. Gusto kong mabasa ang screenplay kung meron man. Sa cinematography, hindi ako magrereklamo dahil napakaganda ng visual nito;

5. Hindi nasungkit ni Coco Martin ang Pinakamahusay na Pangunahing Aktor. Napunta ito kay Lou Veloso. Sa tingin ko, baka matagalan nang manalo si Coco dahil nakapokus ito ngayaon sa telebisyon. Pero hindi lang ‘yan. Mahirap naman talaga ‘yung transition na ‘pinakita n’ya sa “Kinatay”. Mahusay rin naman si Lou sa “Colorum”. Kaya lang, kung effort ang pag-uusapan, mas gusto ko ang ginawa ni Coco. Base sa reaksyon ng ilang manonood sa teatro, sikat na nga ang tinaguriang King of Pinoy Indie Cinema. Maraming humaharang dito upang magpa-picture. Natapos ang parangal nang hindi ko man lang ito nakitaan ng pagkainis o panghihinayang;

6. Sentimental choice ang pagkapanalo nina Rustica Carpio at Anita Linda ng Pinakamahusay na Pangunahing Aktres para sa “Lola”. Kung tatanggalin ito, tingin ko, mahirap patumbahin ang ginawa ni Osang sa “Wanted: Border”;

7. Hindi masyadong pinansin ng Urian ang mga entry ng Cinema One Originals ngayong taong ito. Maliban kay Osang, wala nang iba pang nominado sa kahit anong pelikulang ‘pinalabas sa festival na ‘yan. Ironically, ipapalabas ang awards night sa Cinema One;

8. Nang banggitin ang pangalan ni Vilma Santos bilang nominado sa Pinakamahusay na Pangunahing Aktres para sa “In My Life”, d’un ko lang naramdaman ang presensya ng kanyang mga Vilmanians;

9. Pinakamalakas yata ang palakpak ko nang manalo sa Pinakamahusay na Maikling Pelikula ang “To Siomai Love” ni Remton Zuasola ng Cebu. Para sa akin, s’ya ang next big thing ng Pinoy indie at marami s’yang lalamuning filmmaker sa Metro Manila;

10. Suki na yata si Cooky Chua sa intermission number sa Urian. N’ung isang taon ay kasali rin s’ya. Para sa taong ito, dalawang beses s’yang kumanta. Una, kasama si Gloc-9 at ikalawa, ang pag-awit ng nanalong theme song mula sa “The Arrival”. Ang ilan pa sa mga nag-perform ay sina Mark Bautista, Christian Bautista at Rachel Alejandro;

11. Ikinampanya ni Armida Siguion-Reyna sa kanyang acceptance speech (bilang Natatanging Gawad Urian) si Erap. Ito lang daw ang taong hindi nagpapatalo sa kanya at hindi n’ya talaga matalo-talo;

12. Three in a row na pala ni Dante Mendoza sa Pinakamahusay na Direksyon ("Tirador", "Serbis" at "Kinatay") at sa ikatlong pagkakataon ay absent s'ya. Ang kanyang batang anak na babae ang tumanggap ng award. Binasa nito ang mahabang acceptance speech at, sa isang pagkabagot, nasabi na lang nito na "Whatever."; at

13. Mukhang well distributed sa mga pelikula ang mga gawad ngayong taong ito. Meron para sa “Engkwentro”, meron din para sa “Kinatay” at “Lola” ni Dante Mendoza, sa “The Arrival” (Pinakanatatanging Musika) at sa “Himpapawid”. Parang gustong sabihin na lahat dapat ay masaya.

May ilan pang mga picture dito.

Philography File # 009: Marcus Adoro

Accomplished last April 28, Wednesday, at "A Little Help for Our Friend" benefit gig at Capone's in A. Venue.

After Eraserheads, Marcus Adoro now leads his own band which is aptly called Markus Highway.

Philography File # 008: Chito Miranda, Buddy Zabala and Ely Buendia

Accomplished last April 28, Wednesday, at "A Little Help for Our Friend" benefit gig at Capone's in A. Venue.

Chito Miranda is the lead vocalist of the group Parokya ni Edgar. Buddy Zabala is The Dawn's bassist while Ely Buendia is the frontman of the band Pupil. The last two happen to be members of the now defunct band, the Eraserheads.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Short Trip to Capone's

Wednesday, last week, April 28, Jim and I went to the benefit concert called "A Little Help for Our Friend" held at Capone's in A. Venue along Makati Ave. It's a small gig headlined by some of the country's biggest bands/artists including Rivermaya, Pupil, Markus Highway, Truefaith, Peryodiko, Yeng Constantino and more. Parokya ni Edgar was included in the line-up but had to leave early because, according to the host, Buwi Meneses was fasting. Entrance ticket is P150 with a free complimentary drink. Proceeds will go to a certain Tita Baybee's chemotherapy treatment. She happens to be (Rivermaya's) Mike Elgar's auntie. Jampacked as expected and it was good to see Buddy Zabala and Rico Blanco around. Donation box was passed from time to time. More pictures here.

Philography File # 007: Libera

Accomplished last April 16, Friday, during the CD launch/autograph signing at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in RCBC Plaza.

Libera is a famous all-boy children's choir from the UK. They were visiting the Philippines for the second time to promote their latest album "Peace".

Movie Digest # 072

Glorietta 4, Cinema 3, April 5, 6:00pm

The idea of a remake is actually cool and the execution is serviceable enough. It can pretty much stand up for an OK popcorn film. Fight scenes are fun to watch and I can say that the Kraken part is superbly directed. My problem with the movie is the rendering of 3D. It’s flawed and the error is very glaring on some scenes. Disappointing. This is the kind of film that you can disregard the acting but it’s a joy to see the actors from “Schiendler’s List” still battling it out, this time as immortals. Sam Worthington sucked in the “Terminator Salvation”, he did well in “Avatar” and this time, he’s in the middle as Perseus.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who wish it’s just the 80’s and 3D is not around yet.

Glorietta 4, Cinema 4, April 12, 8:20pm

I haven’t read the book but after watching the film, it gave me enough grasp on how the written material looks like. It’s a story about a wimpy kid named Greg Heffley who’s about to invade his middle schooling (probably close to our Grade Six or Seven). There he conquers his own adventure with his best friend Rowley, his bully brother and the rest of the campus stereotypes. There’s nothing much fireworks in the movie but it’s a good watch. I like it especially when the storyteller stoops down to the level of the kids and takes the POV from there. Well acted and well made.

Friends who might appreciate it: My dear pamangkins.

Glorietta 4, Cinema 6, April 14, 7:25pm

It’s one film that is very difficult to summarize on a capsule review. Basically, it is one man’s journey to the mental abyss, represented by a remote and cold island called the Shutter Island. Roughly more than two hours of exploring the psyche, the movie puts the audience inside a mental asylum, locks the door and plays with sanity. It’s good to see a Martin Scorsese film without any trace of an Oscar pressure. This is perhaps his closest to having an intellectual popcorn film. Leo DiCaprio returns to his loud acting (thanks to the whole concept) but very much tolerable (he was great in “Blood Diamond”). The supporting cast fares better. I’m guessing that the Academy will consider at least its technical aesthetics (make-up, costume and even editing). For the first quarter, this is probably one of the best films from Hollywood.

Friends who might appreciate it: The cerebral ones.

Greenbelt 3, Cinema 5, April 17, 1:30pm

A movie like this is best enjoyed with friends over a bottle of beer and a box of pizza. It’s a comedy, first and foremost. It’s an appeal to come up with an antithesis to comic book superheroes told through the eyes of a loser from New York. The humor is up there but I’m not sure if it really drives the point at the end of the film. I can single out the Chan-wook Park’s “Oldboy” charm about the young daughter being brainwashed by the father to fight injustice all over the city. There’s definitely something in there. At times violent a la “Kill Bill” but, in general, it lives up to its title.

Friends who might appreciate it: Vague it may sound but the cool ones.

Greenbelt, Cinema 1, April 22, 1:50pm

With a running time of close to two hours, the movie tells a multi-character story of different women in the workplace. There’s one in the tech support, then a nurse and another selling fake designer bags just to support her kids’ education at The Ateneo. Taken at face value, the film is watchable enough and the humor is not pretentious. The problem is probably the film’s original pedigree. It’s largely based on Ishmael Bernal’s critically acclaimed film about the women working in Makati during the 80’s (read: Cory Aquino’s term as the country’s chief executive). There we were introduced to a varied female characters ranging from with brains (Hilda Koronel’s character) down to plain physique (Carmi Martin’s character) and this explains how they fit to the society and how they could have balls sometimes. The 2010 version is perhaps synonymous to Joel Lamangan’s “Desperada” with zero political statement to boot and with less authenticity. I can suggest the 80’s film to my female friends in the office as a form of tribute to them but I can’t say the same thing on the new version. Acting-wise, I like Iza Calzado here. It must be her brave character that is very engaging to watch. Stand-outs for me are mostly doing support roles: Ina Feleo, Cherie Gil, Ricky Davao and, yes, Joel Lamangan.

Friends who might appreciate it: Again, just to make a point, definitely not my working girl friends.

SM Megamall, Cinema 7, April 29, 1:00pm

My expectation for this film is that it is, just like Jose Javier Reyes’ “Working Girls”, a remake of the Joey Gosiengfiao movie “Temptation Island”. It is not but it also involves a group of people being stranded in a remote island. There they kill time, survive, share stories, frolic, get lost and just kill time. It seems to be pointing to nowhere until the last five minutes explode and slap the viewers with insanity check (hmm, sounds like “Shutter Island”). The frolicking part is actually forgivable but the luxury to invest on this almost pointless indie movie is not. I believe that there are other materials that deserve to be produced and this is just an insult to the industry’s struggle to survive against the tides. Sure, there could be a set of viewers who appreciates the humor but I’m not certain with its bad acting especially from the Brapanese male cast. Caramoan could be highlighted here but then again this is simply an awful project to promote the islands. I wonder what the Camarines Sur board is thinking right now with the output. Oh well, I’ll just wait for Adolf Alix’s next project entitled “Presa”.

Friends who might appreciate it: The nonsensical ones.

Greenbelt 3, Cinema 1, April 30, 9:00pm

I believe that this sequel to the highly successful comic book superhero film adaptation is very well made. Nice CGI touch, enjoyable fight scenes and beautifully acted from the main cast. The scenes allotted to Mickey Rourke and Scarlett Johansson are always a delight to comprehend. But just like any other sequel, this one doesn’t invest much on a good story to tell. You can feel to the brim that this is a sequel and it’s just a part of probably a long installment. The backstory involving the fathers is quite promising but it ends up in vain. It doesn’t tell much about the characters. In spite, I still think that this is an above average popcorn film and a good way to spend a weekend evening.

Friends who might appreciate it: Easy. Oracle employees.
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