Monday, April 28, 2008

Get Drip

I know there are about eight months more to go, but am already declaring Drip's Identity Theft as one of the Best Albums of the Year. The more I listen to it the more I like it, and considering that I liked it a lot from the start, that's really saying something. Current favorite tracks: "Identity Theft" and "Morning After" (though "Is Anybody Listening?" was the first one I latched onto). If you haven't gotten a copy yet, go. Go.

And click here right now to check out the video for "Morning After," directed by the talented Jason Tan and starring a bunch of martial artists styled by Mads Adrias, as well as the band themselves, of course. (I still remember during the album launch, the crowd would holler in glee whenever one of the boys -- Malek, Ian or Caliph8 -- was highlighted). Great song, great video.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Some Kind of Wonder

This is where I plan to be this Saturday, April 26: Stevie Wonder Woman night at Route 196! It's the "songs of Stevie Wonder, interpreted by female-fronted bands and solo acts," and what a lineup it is: Chillitees, Swissy, Duster, The Ronnies, and -- yes! -- Waya Gallardo, accompanied by guitar wizard Noli Aurillo. Those of you who have never seen Waya perform before owe it to yourselves to go. And, you know, the other acts are no slouches, either. Am especially looking forward to watching Duster again, it's been a while.

I still remember Waya, a couple of years ago, doing a surprisingly sexy impromptu cover of Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed" -- surprising because the original, while uplifting, isn't really sexy at all, but not so surprising when you consider that it was Waya doing the singing -- in front of an audience of devout Christians, immediately causing the whole lot of them to sin in their minds.

Poster by Miguel Gallardo, stolen from The Ronnies' Multiply.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Last Saturday

Marcus and Ace of Bagetsafonik: automatik for the people.

"So," I texted a friend last Saturday night -- or, more accurately, last Sunday morning, "I did not plan to end my evening by dancing around to a live rendition of Maria Vidal's "Body Rock," but then these things happen."

Last Saturday was a lot of fun -- first, I dropped by the launch of Private Iris, a new comic book by Arnold Arre and Jamie Bautista, which was held at Fully Booked at The Fort in the afternoon. They had a great setup, with activities galore for the kiddies and posters and backdrops and everything. Great to see Arnold and Cynthia again. :) Private Iris the comic is very well done, entertaining and smart and of course gorgeously illustrated, and I was happy to get a copy for my 7 year-old inaanak Kaya, who is as intrepid as Iris herself.

Afterwards, went to the Milagros Dancehall Collective album launch (congrats to the band, especially "boy toy Caloy," ha ha ha), and the Scandalosa exhibit opening, both of which were held at SaGuijo. MDC performed well, as usual, but I wasn't used to watching them so early (around 7 PM) -- they're usually at their best as the penultimate act or finale of a multi-band production night, getting people on their feet and dancing and slightly delirious at around 2 or 3 AM. Scandalosa was interesting, it featured three very different types of art by three female artists (including Francesca Ayala, one of the Star's better columnists). As the Inquirer article says, "in the works, there are no identities, but only incriminating acts being carried out. This, the three girls say, is what you get remembered for."

Waya asks a very important question: "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?"

Finally Fran and I trooped over to Warehouse 135 for a Lomomanila party with performances by Drip, Bagetsafonik, Juan Pablo Dream and The Ronnies (with special guest star Waya Gallardo). "There will be sequins!" Waya had informed us beforehand, and she wasn't kidding. Her mirrorball outfit was something to behold (and went quite well with the Warehouse decor, actually). Much to my dismay, I just missed the Drip set -- I ran into Arvin/Caliph8 on his way out -- but we managed to catch Bagetsafonik from the beginning, and it was one of their better performances; the venue seemed to suit them.

Juan Pablo Dream was a blast, they did a bunch of retro covers (I suppose all covers are arguably retro, but you know what I mean) and bouncy originals like the adjective-deficient "Nice Place" ("Let's lend him a thesaurus," Margie quipped). And of course, The Ronnies made us all happy. In fact, they made one guy so happy he took off his shirt while Waya was on guest vocals doing "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" It was an isolated moment of awakwardness and horror in an otherwise totally fun set.

So, see you all on Stevie Wonder Night? :) This Saturday, April 26, at Route 196. Featuring Chillitees, Swissy, The Ronnies, and -- yay! -- Waya Gallardo and guitar demigod Noli Aurillo!

Gig pix stolen from Lala the Cat. Hi Lala!.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Gigs Tonight

No less than three gigs tonight that Yvette and I are planning to go to: first, there's the Milagros Dancehall Collective album launch at SaGuijo, followed by the opening of the Scandalosa exhibit at the same venue a bit later, featuring artwork by Tara Almario, Francesca Ayala and Kate Santos (and performances by Kate Torralba, Black Tooth Grin, Duster, The Vince Noir Project, Drip and Us-2 Evil-0). Finally, there's 4 on the Floor: A Lomomanila Istugan Party, which will have performances by Bagetsafonik, Juan Pablo Dream, and The Ronnies (featuring Waya!), among others. Whew!

Doktor Satan and Pinoy Sci-Fi

Local science fiction fans, Bobby Añonuevo's here to school y'all: read Science fiction at Panitikang Tagalog.

"Makabubuting magbalik sa nakalipas na panitikan bago maghayag ng kung ano-anong kabaguhan kuno sa panitikang Ingles o Filipino dito sa Filipinas. Ang paglingon sa nakaraan ay pagharap din sa maaliwalas na bukas ng ating pambansang panitikan."

The Workshop According to Ian

So my workshop roommate Ian posted a long, long, photo-heavy entry about the UP ICW Workshop in Baguio. I love it. Behold his post in all its glory here. I stole a couple of photos from his blog (as with the previous post's group shot, you can click on them for bigger versions):

Yvette, myself, and Harrison Ford -- I mean, Butch Dalisay -- at Bencab's house.

At Vocas with Rica and Tara. Our smiles are either due to the warm glow of friendship, or the warm glow of having eaten excellent putanesca. Possibly both.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Ian's post is worth more than 136,000 words, which makes it the equivalent of about four novels, more or less.

Friday, April 18, 2008

After the Workshop

"So, the Baguio workshop went well," I texted a writer-friend of mine. "In fact, it went too well. Now we're all suffering from a post-workshop 'hangover'." She replied, with mock-wisdom and a smiley: "Ganyan talaga ang buhay, anak."

My camera died on our third day in Camp John Hay for the UP ICW 'mid-career' writers' workshop, hence the discontinuation of my daily photo-posts. (I have a ton of pix now though, from the official workshop CD and from my roommate Vince, so if I feel like it, I may eventually put up a bunch of workshop pix plus captions.)

I hope I don't sound too pretentious when I say that the workshop reminded us of the real standards and difficulties and rewards involved when it comes to the creative writing that we do. It's easy to forget, amid all the awards-chasing and racking up of publication credits and jockeying for influence. The panelists -- two National Artists among them -- pulled no punches, in general, and I couldn't have been happier with the lineup of fellows (we had three Palanca Hall-of-Famers in our batch, no less!). I was both proud and humbled to stand among them, if that makes any sense. Thanks to the panel -- and each other -- I think we all have a clearer idea now of what it is we're doing.

More than any single discussion regarding craft, it was our activity schedule plus the mix of people we had that got to me. As I told friends when I returned, the workshop was like the awkwardness, angst, adventures and affection of high school, compressed into one week. Coffee with new friends, overnight cram sessions, talks and walks, presentations that ranged from enlightening to humiliating (I played Charlson Ong in a skit: that's all you need to know), and a certain bittersweetness when it was all done. Thanks to two dear friends and the ICW people, Yvette was even able to join me in Baguio midway through the workshop, so it was really an all-around amazing experience for me.

To quote fellow fellow Jun Lana: "Pero eto ang totoo: sobra akong nagpapasalamat na napasama ako sa workshop. Lahat ng hinahangaan kong writers, andun. Lahat sila, nag-abalang basahin ang sinulat ko. At nagbigay ng opinyon. Ang dami kong natutunan. At ang lalong nakakatuwa, ang dami kong naging bagong kaibigan."

And to quote fellow fellow Bobby Añonuevo: "Pambihira ang talakayan sa Baguio dahil sumapit na sa pagkatigulang ang mga kalahok. Matatalim ang pukol ng mga diwain, ngunit kataka-takang ni wala man lamang nagsaksakan, nagmurahan, o nagbatuhan ng silya. Mapapansin ang paggalang sa isa’t isa, at walang may hangin sa ulo. At gaya ng winika ni Tara, kalmante man ang pangkat ng mga kumag sa palihan, maaasahan naman na lilikha sila ng nakayayanig na bagyo pagsapit sa larangan ng panitikan ngayon at sa mga darating na araw."

Finally, my roomie Ian Casocot: "I loooovvvveee these people!"

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Writers in the Mountains: Day Three (Writaz 4 Life)

Today was a good day, especially for the inhabitants of Room 2, or, as we like to call it out of sheer lack of imagination, the Girls' Room. The panelists and fellows seem to be in general agreement that Rica Santos is a genius at writing personal essays, Tara Sering is a fiction-writing genius, and Mookie Katigbak is a poetic genius. (During the photo-taking session today in between discussions, the three geniuses struck Charlie's Angels poses together.) Am very happy at the way their discussions turned out, and am now looking forward to Mookie's first book, Tara's upcoming novel, and buying Rica's Love, Desire, Children, Etc., when I get back to Quezon City.

After dinner the workshop participants bonded in the way writers always do: by sitting in a circle and taking turns reading classic epic poetry in stentorian voices. Just kidding. Writers bond via alcoholic drinks and filthy jokes, like everyone else.

What does Jimmy Abad think of Mookie's poetry?


Jun Lana can't believe a word he's hearing.

FYI: Jing Hidalgo and Rica Bolipata-Santos aren't laughing with you -- they're laughing at you.

Nick Pichay looks on while Tara Sering demonstrates her carnival-worthy ability to read manuscripts via osmosis. Meanwhile, something is stuck in Frank's nose.

"Wassup my writaz?! Big Daddy Bien is in the hizzouse. What!" National Artist Bien Lumbera gives it up for his literary homeboyz. Writaz 4 life, y'all. Word.

Fox You

We interrupt our daily UP Writers Workshop broadcast for an important announcement: there's a new book company on the block! They're launching the line next Monday, April 14. (Click on the image above for a bigger version of the poster.) Fox Books: "quality literature for quality readers," they declare. These don't look like your typical 'literary' titles, however -- so they're screwing with your expectations, as any enterprise involving Adam David is bound to do. (Hi, Adam!) Anyway, looks interesting.

Funny fact: the latest entry on the Fox Books blog is a letter from Jun Balde, on Fox Books: "malaking improvement ito, hindi lamang sa kaayusan ng pagsulat ng mga kuwento, [kundi] sa anyo at sa pagiging attractive sa mambabasa [rin], kung ikumpara sa mga libro ng precious pages at psicom. " And Jun Balde, unless this is a different Jun Balde, happens to be one of my fellow fellows this week at the UP workshop. Whatta coinkydink.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Writers in the Mountains: Day Two

Where... Where am I? Oh yeah, that's right.

Me just outside the Igorot Lodge entrance. Literally, chillin'.

Workshop sessions: Won't anyone sit with Tara?

Mookie will! Yay!

Sir Butch and Ian: "That's right folks, the first-generation iPods were this big."

Rica listens intently to the discussion, unaware that a giant camera strap is creeping up on her and Frank Cimatu.

The Notorious V.I.M. and Bobby A., famed hip-hop duo, launch into their rendition of "Ain't Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang."

Vince Serrano can kill you with the power of his mind.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Writers in the Mountains

Hello Baguio City! Woo hoo! It's cold and oh so quiet here in the lobby of the Igorot Lodge of Camp John Hay. Am here for the 47th UP National Writers Workshop. Was sort of zonked out on the way up; hadn't slept properly in two days due to deadlines and other matters (maybe I shouldn't have watched that mixed martial arts tournament at Metrowalk the night before. But hey, guest appearance by Manny Pacquiao!). So I fell asleep right after the orientation. Which explains why I'm up at a little before 5 AM.

The whole experience -- bus ride, meals, orientation, hanging out with the other fellows -- has been very pleasant so far, but the real work begins today, with the workshops proper. We'll be discussing stuff by Jun Balde, Vince Serrano, Ian Casocot, Allan Derain, Bobby Anonuevo, and, well, me.

All aboard the not-so-short bus.

On the way to Baguio. I have no idea where this is.

First meal at Camp John Hay. Rica is amused and Mookie is a-textin'.

It's Ian's first visit to Baguio, ever.

Vince wonders what the hell Allan Popa is doing here.

Laid-back literary legends. *singing* Please be careful with our art!

Okay, time to get back to my readings now. Am unsure of my ability to criticize poetry and anything not written in English, but we'll see what happens. In any case, am looking forward to breakfast.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Sci-Fi High

My fellow science fiction fans: our favorite concepts may not be fictional for long! Of course this is not news -- we've been living in a sci-fi world for at least a couple of decades now, which is partially why it's so hard to write in the damn genre. But anyway! Had a blast reading a couple of brief interviews on the NYT book blog with Michio Kaku, Professor of Theoretical Physics and author of Physics of the Impossible (hideous cover design, but still), on what may or may not be possible in the near future. I love it whenever he says that "There’s nothing in the laws of physics preventing it," whether he's talking about force fields or light sabers. "Einstein’s equations, believe it or not, do allow for time travel." Goosebumps, I swear. Read here and here.