Support Ang Sariling Atin.

[This is a long, abridged and UNFINISHED post as my notes got wet that day and the ink blotched. More + Pictures coming.]

On a rainy Thursday evening, I had the pleasure of getting a crash-course on OPM, Original Pinoy Music. It was not only an eye-opening experience, but also a very fun one as well.

Firstly, I’d like to thank Yahoo! Philippines for making such an event possible. If action really do speak louder than words, the gesture of Y! Phil. made about as much “noise” (not the annoying kind, mind you) as the bands that played that day in supporting what we Filipinos SHOULD support. Manila Beer and Sun Cellular also sponsored the event so they get a big thumbs up from me as well. And of course, SM Mall of Asia provided the venue in their concert grounds so a big shout out to them as well.

Formalities aside, all I have to say is that I was blown away. No, really, my eardrums REALLY BLEW. I had blood coming out of my ears the next day and temporary hearing loss + a fever (from getting skin-soaked) over the next few days. But despite it all, I had a HELLUVALOT of fun. The music moved me to sway, to sing, to dance, to jump, to shout, to cheer, to get wet and even bang my head to death-metal rock. It has been a long time since I’ve had a good head-banging session too.

Suffice to say, a lot of bands played that day. The opening act was Mobbstar, whose genre is mainstream “Hollywood-formulae” (at least in my opinion) hip-hop. I didn’t really get to experience them as we arrived just as they were finishing their song, but if their myspace page offers some of their songs for free, so try them if the rap-beatbox-hip-hop genre is your cup of tea.

Parmita followed with their take on the pop rock genre. Their song “Takipsilim” just melts me with their acoustic guitar and bass with the “deep vocals” of their lead singer and drummer, Ria… wow… I’d recommend them to those who likes simple, not-so-loud “wholesome” music. You can find some of their music here.

Techy Romantics was the next band with their techno-funk beats which had me swaying like I was in a disco. You can read an article about them here, and their myspace page features some of their delicious music.

Indios came next with a very eclectic mix of the blues, with some euro-rock and some other thing I can’t put my finger on but it was nice and groovy. You can here some of their stuff from their Facebook page.

Yield Avenue came next with their alternative rock. You can find them here.

Row Four came after. They’re a five-man band that met in college. They have a very “funk-rock” tune going about them. You can find their website here.

…[Will be added later]

With the overview of the night over (and what a lengthy overview that was), I can honestly say my favorite performances were that of White Sunday and Urbandub. Hehe, what’s more was (very) lucky to get one of the free CDs they tossed in the crowd.

The Loot of the Day
I got it!

The day really opened my eyes on how AWESOME our local music artists are–and I’m not exaggerating at all!

So let me reiterate what was said during that day, let’s support “ang sariling atin” (our own). Who else will, but us? I know I will.

 

 

Blaze a trail!

This is the obligatory post for whenever I “restart” blogging.

Sad to say that I haven’t been faithful to writing at all, which is weird as I am a journalism major.

But as the song goes, “it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life,” so like a phoenix, I revive my blogging life. That and it’s a requirement for one my electives this semester.

Suffice to say, this semester is shaping up to be an interesting one.

As for why I titled this post, blaze a trail… It must have something to do with my banner (I guess), which is from the anime Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (天元突破グレンラガン). As the story goes, it talks about the infinite potential each and every one of us “spiral beings” possess. As infinitely great our potential for good is, so is our potential for evil. Much like a spiral can spin clockwise or anticlockwise.

I’ve come to realize how much potential the Philippines has and how grossly untapped and unrealized it is. Many seem to think that there is no hope and that we’ll keep on going on the tailspin spiral our country has been on for a long time and eventually hit the ground and be destroyed. But we seem to forget that in order to change our spiraling direction, we first need to stop our downward spiral. Moreover, a spiral has to begin somewhere, so why not begin the change yourself in yourself.

Clockwise and Anticlockwise

I leave you with an optical illusion in which the light green is really the same color as the light blue. This image teaches us that seeing is not “absolute truth” and that perspective matter.

Let us blaze a trail together. Through the earth, the stars, and the heavens.

Test it out in paint (use eyedrops) if you don’t believe me!

The aftermath of August 23

On August 23, a tragedy struck.

A bus full of Hong Kong tourists, on their last day in the Philippines and on their way to Ocean Park, was taken hostage by an armed former police officer who was recently dismissed due to the actions of his subordinates and thus ending his 30+ years in the force and more importantly also his pension–his deserved, hard-earned retirement fund.

Faced with such circumstances, I honestly would not know if I too would snap. As I run these scenarios in my head, most of them involves me getting violent. I mean, seriously, the guy REALLY had it BAD.

But all that seems to be of no importance due to the fact that that same depressed and distressed old man, who just lost his job and does not have anything to lie back on, and had a wife and family to take care of supposedly killed  9 Hong Kong tourists and, oh, that he was a Filipino.

I am downright outraged at how some of my fellow Hong Kong people have reacted to this event. It is one thing to be indignant and angry at the INCOMPETENCE and STUPIDITY of the operations of the police, but it is another to label an ENTIRE GROUP NATION as such. It is plain BIGOTRY and HYPOCRISY and people who’ve done so ought to be ashamed.

But, I am equally if not more infuriated at how everything transpired that day. The policemen obviously didn’t know what they were doing. Aren’t SWAT supposed to be SPECIAL WEAPONS AND TACTICS UNIT? Lulz!!!

Special Weapon: Sledgehammer

Special Tactic: Throw tear-gas without gas masks themselves.

Very impressive… [Reverse this statement]

The media didn’t help at all and even, very thoughtlessly added oil to the fire by broadcasting LIVE everything that transpired OUTSIDE THE BUS FOR EVERYONE TO SEE, EVEN THE HOSTAGE TAKER! WOW! Great job~!

The politicians really showed how “able” they are at their jobs: they’re NOT. They also showed who they really care about: themselves. I mean, please STOP making me RETHINK my notion of “stupid”. The previous sentence also applies to people who get swayed by the lies and stupidity of these snakes. Just stop.

Our PRESIDENT was… well… a big failure. I recommend him being the picture of “FAILblog.org” for being the most unleaderly leader I’ve ever seen! The whole debacle started around 10 a.m. but P-noy only issued directives at about 1:30 p.m. which begs the question, what the HELL was he doing for 3 HOURS AND 30 MINUTES. Well, it’s not surprising that a person who had been in congress for more than 20 years, did not pass any BILLS that he’s proposed himself, to amount to ANYTHING. Well, that’s the leader the Philippines (well, 13 million of us at least, excluding me) wanted. We reap what we sow? How true…

There were so many FAILS that day that I really was ashamed that THESE are the PEOPLE that will LEAD us, will PROTECT us, will INFORM us, and will GUIDE us? HUWWWWWWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTTT??!!

As a journalism student, I really was disappointed about the media. Is ethics dead in the Philippines? Did NO ONE ask the question: ARE WE DOING THE RIGHT THING? Are RATINGS… is THE MONEY the reason why we do journalism? Is Public Concern & Public Interest applicable? Well, during that time, of course people were INTERESTED AND CONCERNED about WHAT WOULD TRANSPIRE, but heck, did  NO ONE THINK that the FLEETING CONCERN and INTEREST of the PUBLIC on THOSE FEW HOURS would be OUT-WEIGHED BY THE REPERCUSSIONS OF SUCH AN INCIDENT IF IT GOES BADLY FOR THE SAID PUBLIC??? Huh… So disappointed…

And what’s with the media, who’s supposedly be a WATCHDOG for the people on the actions of the government to COPY the ones THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO GUARD AGAINST? Maybe birds of the same feather fly together does ring true… They should not have broadcast LIVE. Being a watchdog does not equal a MANDATE to SENSATIONALIZE things. Besides, there are WELL ESTABLISHED PROTOCOLS that ALL MEDIA NETWORKS ARE PRIVY TO taken from the HISTORY and EXPERIENCE of HUNDREDS OF YEARS OF JOURNALISM… THERE WAS NO EXCUSE FOR NOT KNOWING WHAT TO DO.

And everyone knows that the police is being made the scapegoat… well, at least I hope everyone knows. I hope against hope. I dream the IMPOSSIBLE DREAM. Anyways, you get picture.

On the social network side of things, it’s to be expected that the users (especially those in the BBS [forums], who are more anonymous than their Facebook-counterparts) are more likely to say something they wouldn’t normally say in public as the Internet provides us with a venue to say whatever we want with wanton disregard for our safety or repercussions of the said statements, defamatory or otherwise.

Well, anyways, I do not take what transpires in the social medias as seriously as those I see first hand. It’s one thing to type a message (with cussing or none), it’s another thing to really act on what you think. The DAB party of Hong Kong is just playing their usual game of being loud and rowdy to seem that they’re really for the people. HK politicians and Philippine ones are the same in that respect. China on the other hand is really the biggest hypocrite here because they’re pointing the finger of blame on us for, what…? Being incompetent… being ill-equipped… being-unprepared… The first two are true, but that’s just because we’re poor. We’re a freaking 3rd world country! Being unprepared, yes we also were. But, that’s because these kind of things don’t often happen… only once in a blue moon do we see someone take a bus full of tourists hostage on live television and I think that’s a good thing because, SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN SAID OVER AND OVER AGAIN IS THAT THIS INCIDENT IS ISO-LATE-D. Again? Again! ISOLATED!

Well, I should go to bed.

This was a rant. I wrote this as a Filipino and also as a person that also calls Hong Kong home.

It broke my heart that these things would happen, but no one can do anything about it anymore. What can be done is to NEVER LET IT HAPPEN AGAIN.

I think that would serve as the BEST APOLOGY possible. An apology to those who lost their loved ones, those who felt attacked, those who felt betrayed, those who felt embarrassed, and anyone else who got involved.

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS.

Science for the Future

A room full of papers, plastics, computers, scribbled notes and a large whiteboard full of equations was everything I expected to see in an office of a scientist and I was not disappointed.

In Room 304 of the National Physics Institute (NPI) I met with this year’s National Academy of Science and Technology Most Astounding Young Scientist awardee, Dr. Eric A. Galapon and the Coordinator of the Theoretical Physics Group in the institute to talk about himself, his research, and the science and research scene in the country.

At only 38 years of age and taking from how busy his workspace looked like, I started the interview by asking Dr. Galapon why he chose to be a scientist. At first there was an awkward silence, but judging by his face, I knew this scientist was really thinking hard on how to answer. “Why science,” he said contemplatively, “I guess it’s because I enjoy it.” “I think scientists and treasure hunters are similar. We’re both looking for treasure, but the only difference is our treasure is knowledge. It’s really the excitement of being the first one to discover something that the other seven billion people in the world were oblivious to that rewards us scientists.”

Surprisingly, Dr. Galapon wasn’t always the passionate scientist he is today. The only reason he took Physics when he was an undergraduate was because there was a scholarship being offered and that his family couldn’t afford sending him to college otherwise. During that time, he discovered he had a knack for science and that eventually lead him to discover his first, real love: Quantum Mechanics.

Quantum Mechanics is a theory in Physics to explain why it seemed that Classical Mechanics, or more commonly known as Newton’s Second Law of Motion, does not apply in the atomic level—the building blocks of all matter. “As is, the tenets Classical Mechanics break down in the atomic and sub-atomic level, so a new theory had to be proposed to explain such phenomenon, and that’s how Quantum Mechanics came about,” Dr. Galapon said.

According to Dr. Galapon, life as scientist isn’t easy. “Being a scientist requires a lot of devotion. You must be willing to put effort and yes, a lot of time in order to yield even the smallest results. At least for me, even though I have a full-time job here in the University of the Philippines as a lecturer and a researcher,” after heaving a sigh he said, “I still find myself constantly thinking of my research.” “When I’m lecturing or eating or whether I’m in my office or at home, even when I’m talking to my wife, I’m always thinking,” he said chuckling.

Not only is being a scientist mentally taxing, it is also very frustrating at times. Dr. Galapon recounted his first experience trying to get his work published outside of the country as being awful. He explained that he felt he was rejected not only because he was an unknown scientist, but also because he was a scientist in a third-world country. “You really have to persevere and not be modest when it comes to trying to publish your work abroad,” he said very fittingly as his first internationally published work was featured in one of the most prestigious science journals in the world, the Royal Society of London, after many rejections from other publications.

Another problem with scientific research here in the Philippines is described by Dr. Galapon as the “non-existence of a scientific-culture”. He blames the government and also society for the lack of interest in the sciences. “Here in the Philippines, people seem to think that science is all about inventing new stove or type of car, those sorts of inventions, which are really already the end results or the products of “real scientific research”.

“Even politicians think this way,” he said becoming more serious. “In general, the scientific community fears that the great progress made by the former Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology, Dr. Estrala Alabastro, who herself is a scientist from the University of Santo Tomas, would be reversed by the appointment of a person who doesn’t even have any background in the sciences and is a career executive,” he added. “If we look at all the rich countries in the world, their wealth is at least directly proportional to the amount of money they devote to research,” Dr. Galapon said explaining how with more research comes more breakthroughs and these breakthrough are not only useful but also very profitable.

Dr. Galapon ended by saying that only time would tell how the Philippines will in the future, but he quickly added that when society and the powers that be change their attitudes towards science, the hope of our nation would shine all the brighter. “I have great faith that if and when that happens, we’ve got more than enough talent here to storm the globe,” he said with a smile.

Journey into the Wilderness

The first night was bad, the next was worse, the third was enlightening and the last was awesone. The four days I spent without electricity went exactly like that.

It was a crazy idea. I didn’t know if I could make it. I knew it would be painful and difficult—almost impossible—but I had no choice. I had to do it.

The first day was bad.

I woke up in a hazy sweat. Without electricity, I was not able to use the air-cooler or the electric fan, and it so happened that that night was hot. I was forced to go to sleep in my boxer-shorts as wearing more than my skivvies made the heat unbearable.

It was still hot.

Somehow, I managed to fall asleep, but after some time I began hearing a peculiar noise. It was something I don’t often hear, but I knew what it was—what they were: mosquitoes. I quickly rolled out of bed and in the darkness tried to locate the mosquito repellent. “Begone by Baygon,” would have been a pun I would have normally concocted for such an occasion, but I wasn’t in the mood. I was itchy, scratchy, sweaty, dirty and a little bit ticked off. I put the lotion on and sniffled at its smell. I don’t like it, but I need it was what I was thinking.

At 6 a.m. I woke up, there was a silhouette of my body on the bed from my sweat. I felt I didn’t sleep at all. I took a cold shower and brushed my teeth. No breakfast since I couldn’t use the microwave. I took the stairs down. I live on the 9th floor.

School went and gone and I was back at the condominium. I took the stairs up. I live on the 9th floor. It was getting dark.

No electricity, meant no light. I had to use candles. The apartment looked oddly nice in their flickering, golden-yellow light. I began to understand why candles are said to be romantic, they make everything look sublime.

It was time to eat and so I cooked. That first night, the problem wasn’t cooking the viand, it was cooking the rice. It has been more than a decade and half since I’ve used anything else besides a rice cooker. I had to think back and visualize how I did it before. Surprisingly, I succeeded with a modest amount of “tutong” as a bonus. I felt like I just won something.

That night went similar to the first, but I was getting used to it. Something different was that I attempted to use “katol”. I really went old-school. I can’t remember the time when I last used one of these. At first I had trouble separating the two coils coiled together in a ying-yang fashion. I used two.

When I woke up, it was not from the sound of my alarm clock. Something was burning. It was the papers littered across my room. It is a good thing I am very sensitive to smoke, or something worst might have happened. I quickly doused the heaping pile and went back to bed.

That morning I found my room was a disaster. What was worse was that all my pants and other clothing I hung at the back of my door smelled really awful—like katol. “Great,” I muttered. “I’ll need to wash these,” I said in complete knowledge that this feat would require the manual, archaic, “kus-kos” kind of laundry. I was not amused.

Again, school was uneventful. But I knew that when I got back home, only darkness and suffering awaited me (not to mention the arduous journey up) and by then, the withdrawal symptoms came about.  That faithful Tuesday night will live in infamy in my mind.

I was extremely bored.

I never realized how reliant I was on technology. From keeping in touch with the people I love or just merely passing the time, I was completely at its mercy. I was tempted to just break the fast. In the first place, no one would know, right? I began to imagine how it was to be able to freely watch shows on the internet or on television and to be able to see where I was going—to be in the light again. And the cold drinks I would normally been able to drink: a cold glass of Nestea Iced Tea, a very cold tetra pack of Zesto manga or grape flavor, and avacado shake with as much ice, sugar and cream I would care to put in it… my mouth watered.

At the promise of the cool and refreshing drinks, I almost gave way. But something my father has always told me, “what you spend the most time with is your god,” at that moment really made me think. Believe it or not, while I was sitting in my dark and dreary living room, I had a “reima”, greek for “divine revelation”.  Technology was my god.

The past months flew by in my mind, as though I had a powerpoint presentation going on in there. I saw that, although I identified as a Christian, having been raised in a Christian home with two loving Christian pastor-parents, I haven’t been living the tenets of my faith. Yes, I read my Bible and prayed, but all that was done out of a sense of responsibility—not because I wanted to, but because I had to. I know all the doctrines and have been trained in apologetics (how to argue as a proponent of my faith) so I knew that what I had was nowhere near what the essence of Christian life required: A personal relationship with God.

As these thoughts came into mind, I began to pray. Not the memorized and structured prayer I often use, but rather a conversation between my God and I. Although I received no audible answer to my many queries, it felt uplifting. I felt, once again, connected. Not to the world or to anyone, but to a greater being, one that transcends all creation and yet, I regarded as my best friend.

Before I knew, it was 12:07 a.m. of Wednesday, July 7, 2010. That night, I slept well.

When I woke up, I felt more refreshed than ever. In fact, I felt so refreshed that I forgot to look at the time (or remember what day it was). I had a Physical Education class on 9 a.m. and it was already five minutes past eight. I was already terribly late. I’ve always had a saying, “Better absent than late”, and so I just took a day off and didn’t bother to get up from bed till about 10. I made brunch (breakfast and lunch) out of an omlette and scooted with a bounce in my step.

And before I knew it, I had six hours to go till my fast was over. Wednesday night came and went with me, in my apartment’s veranda, surrounded by candles, and reading a good book. I slept very soundly that night as there was a good breeze outside and the usual pests were curiously absent. Divine providence, may be. I was just thankful.

With a few hours to go, I felt this experience was something I needed. I’ve been so engrossed with everything happening aside from what hasn’t been happening in me. I never took the time to self-examine. As Littlefoot’s mother said in the Land Before Time, “Let your heart guide you. It whispers, so listen carefully,” we should all take time to re-examine our lives. If I, in all the sweat, tears, mosquito bites, burnt food and boring nights, found something I’ve lost, who knows what you may find if just you try.

[Pictures will come later]

Dear President Noynoy

[This blogpost was inspired by this article by Yahoo News Philippines.]

Dear President,

Please do not take yourself too seriously. When you have to choose between your pride and your security as the “head of state” and the “hope of the people”, there is no contest. Your security comes first.

Please conduct yourself in a manner that befits your rank. You are much more valuable alive than dead. Do not tease fate.

Yes, your detractors will criticize you if you reverse your own position on wang-wang, but who cares! They’ll criticize whatever you do, so just do what I do with my own critics: ignore them—that’s what they’re good for.

Worry about the important things, not about some traffic “nuisance”.

In the first place, you should have just zero-ed in on the abusers of the wang-wang, our much beloved congressmen and people of self-import (yung mga FEELING lang). The law provides the Executive, the vice Executive, the two heads of of both Houses of Congress and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and those who work in law-enforcement and emergency services the right to use a siren while on route during official business.

Please don’t be stubborn, be smart. You are more important than you think (Aww, sweet ┐( ¯3¯)┌).

Yours truly,

Isang Pilipino

Life and Ants

I haven’t any inspiration to write lately as life and its many distractions kept it away–far away.

And yet here I am again, writing as if “something” has happened but really, it’s the same same-ol’-same-ol’.

Funnily enough, I found the inspiration to write because of something I hate… and hate dearly: ANTS!

These small, seemingly harmless creatures, that aren’t as gross as cockroaches, or as despicable as rats or as destructive as termites, but as I live on the 9th floor, I don’t suffer from those three… only ants.

Now MY ants are not your normal, run-of-the-mill ants where they just come when you leave something out for a few hours. MY ants come in swarms in as soon as 5 minutes from the time you leave something edible on ANY surface of ANY part of my apartment. Amazing right? What’s more amazing is they’d even swarm for just WATER! Imagine laying a cup of cold juice with a nice film of condensation on its surface, and after a few minutes, come back and find the place swarming with ants. DISGUSTING!

More to the point, I can’t help being disgusted admiring their tenacity. It takes a lot of effort and constant alertness to be able to respond to a potential food source for the colony in this fashion. Albeit many of them gets squished or drowned or poisoned in the end, they still persevere.

This self-sacrificing attitude for the greater good of the collective is something that has been all but lost in our society today.

We no longer care about how everyone else will fare, but only care about how we ourselves will. “To hell with other people”, “How can I care about others when I’m in this state”, “Everyone else is doing it, so why should I be any different” are just some of the many things we tell ourselves to justify our selfish actions. When I think about them, I really can’t help but agree. However, it being the logical thing to do doesn’t make it the RIGHT thing to do.

Ants are the prime example of a society that, albeit structured and hierarchical–without rights or freedoms–works. We should take some life lessons from my sworn enemies, on of which is:

The collective (our country) matters.

The Philippines is worth dying for.