Friday, September 28, 2012

The Philippine Popular Music Festival Experience (PhilPop) Part 6

Ryan Cayabyab, Daniel Grospe, Krist Melecio, Thyro Alfaro and Yumi

I initially thought that after the finals night of the Philippine Popular Music Festival (PhilPop), I wouldn’t hear anything more about it until it was time again to call for entries for the following year’s edition. But I was wrong since the PhilPop Foundation, Inc. has planned some events in order to promote not only the album featuring the finalists of the competition but also songwriting in general through the Songwriting with the Maestro tour.

The Album Promotional Tour

Before the songwriting workshop started, PhilPop also had an album promotional tour over at TriNoma. I wasn’t planning to go there since I was committed to attend something else. But plans didn’t go my way and I ended up dropping by a bit which I didn’t mind at all. There were a handful of finalists there like Keiko Necesario, James Leyte, Thyro Alfaro, Edwin Marollano, Mike Villegas, Krist Melecio, Kennard Faraon and Toto Sorioso. Some of the interpreters were also there like Yumi, Daniel Grospe, Cathy Go and the Akafellas. It felt odd that Karl Villuga, the grand prize winner was no longer there since he already flew to Singapore by that time. Some familiar faces were there too like Vince of The Ryan Cayabyab Singers, Vida and Kris from Maynilad and of course, Ryan Cayabyab. It was the first time I saw these many finalists since the finals. Too bad that I didn’t bring my CD’s of Toto Sorioso and Cathy Go for them to sign since I didn’t even plan to be there in the first place.

Keiko Necesario, Cathy Go and Mike Villegas

I arrived about an hour and a half before the show started while the Akafellas were still doing their sound checks. I hung around a bit and chatted with some of the finalists and interpreters while waiting for the show to start. I was only able to see a performance of Negastar by Cathy Go accompanied by Mike Villegas on guitar and also 3 AM sung by Keiko herself. Unfortunately, I had to miss the rest of the performances since I had to catch the next screening of the 6th International Silent Film Festival which was my original plan on that day.

Songwriting with the Maestro at San Beda College

During the finals night of the Philippine Popular Music Festival, a short video was presented giving the audience a glimpse of what to expect after the competition. One of the projects shown was the planned songwriting workshops that will tour around the country. Thankfully, the kick off leg of this songwriting workshop happened in Metro Manila specifically at San Beda College. I haven’t been to the San Beda campus but I managed to find my way which is just a testament to all the things that I could do for the sake of music.

Kennard Faraon performs Slowdancing

Aside from Ryan Cayabyab, the finalists joining the workshop during the initial announcement only included Kennard Faraon, Toto Sorioso Noah Zuñiga, and Krist Melecio. But the workshop ended up with more as Keiko Necesario, James Leyte and Thyro Alfaro also attending. Patricia Hizon whom I haven’t seen since the finals hosted the affair which was had students not just from San Beda but also from other universities like Centro Escolar University and University of Sto. Tomas among the audience.

The workshop didn’t tackle too much the technical side of songwriting. Ryan Cayabyab only touched upon the characteristics of the minor tonality compared to the major. He also talked briefly about textures and colors which is usually the territory of the musical arrangers. He focused mainly on songs as a tool for expressing one’s self, for education, for promotion of culture/tourism and to sell a product among other things. It is a very general introduction to songwriting or any creative process. I for once believe that one had to learn how to appreciate, and in case of music, to listen differently not just as a music consumer, before one learns how to create.

Toto Sorioso performs Tayo-Tayo Lang

Probably the most anticipated part of the workshop that afternoon were the song numbers performed by the finalists present: Keiko with 3AM, Kennard Faraon with Slowdancing, Krist Melecio with Piso, Noah Zuñiga along with DJ Poblete with Dulo ng Dila, James Leyte with Brown, Toto Sorioso with Tayo-Tayo Lang and Thyro Alfaro with Himig ng Panahon.  It was surprising to witness the very positive reaction by the students among the audience. They even demanded another song from DJ Poblete and she and Noah obliged with a song called Huli Na ‘To.

I guess that many of the students weren’t even aware of the songs or the songwriters before the workshop but I am pretty sure that when the workshop ended, they will find it hard to forget their names and their works. And some of them may have already been inspired to try to write a song or two after witnessing the performances.

Standing from left Keiko Necesario, James Leyte and Toto Sorioso
Seated from left Ryan Cayabyab, Krist Melecio and Kennard Faraon

What made me really excited during the workshop was the announcement not just of the second edition of PhilPop but also of a new competition called Pintig which will be leaning towards the kundiman. I will definitely post more information regarding these two competitions once they become available to me. After the successful San Beda leg which started the nationwide tour, the workshop flew over to Davao which I heard was also equally successful.  Songwriting with the Maestro will tour in Cebu and Puerto Prinsesa this October, Naga and Legaspi in November, and then in Baguio this December.

The Philippine Popular Music Festival Experience (PhilPop) Part 5

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Act of Congress' Philippine Tour

Act of Congress' Chris Griffin, Tim Carroll Jr., Bethany Borg and Adam Wright

Whenever cultural institutions or embassies bring over musicians here for either a concert or a masterclass, I always make it a point to check them out. These kinds of events are an opportunity for me to expand my musical horizons and learn a thing or two even if the guest musicians play different instruments than mine. This time around, it was the turn of the Embassy of the United States of America to bring forth American music here as they flew in Act of Congress, a country/bluegrass band coming from Birmingham, Alabama.

Act of Congress is composed of Adam Wright (mandolin), Chris Griffin (guitar), Tim Carroll Jr. (bass) and Bethany Borg (violin). The group’s current violinist, Connie Skellie, couldn’t join the tour due to her duties as a mother. So Bethany Borg, the group’s other violinist, came on board and joined Adam, Chris and Tim as they embarked on a four nation tour as part of the America Music Abroad program of the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. After Thailand, he Philippines was the band’s second stop before they headed over to Palau and Timor Leste.

The Welcome Reception

The Philippines is known as a very hospitable country so the local hosts made sure that the Act of Congress was received warmly during the Welcome Reception held at the Silangan Hall of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Guests included several officials of the US Embassy including Alan Holst, the Cultural Affairs Officer whom I last saw at the screening of the film Safety Last during the 6th International Silent Film Festival. I couldn’t contain my surprise upon seeing Louie Talan of Razorback/Garlic at the venue. Then I looked around and realized that there were a considerable number of local musicians who were present at the affair like Bayang Barrios, Sammy Asuncion and the rest of the Kalayo Band, and Diwa de Leon among others.

The Welcome Reception featured a short set by Act of Congress and that was when I and the rest of the guests got our first taste of the band’s organic, acoustic sound. The band also got a taste of how the Christmas season starts early in here as they gave in to a request and included an instrumental rendition of Carol of the Bells for their last song. They also got a sampler of some local talent when Bayang Barrios and Kalayo performed that night as well.

After the song numbers, the local musicians had to depart since almost all had gigs later that evening. But Act of Congress remained and I was able to have a brief chat with them although I still couldn’t remember the names of the members at that time. But this was just the beginning and I was pretty sure that I would know their names by heart before their Philippine stop was over.

Tim Carroll Jr. looks on as a young student tries the bass

The Masterclass

Bethany Borg jams with Diwa de Leon

I got really psyched for the masterclass that was also held at the Silangan Hall for a special reason. A week before they arrived, I was at Radio Republic watching Bamboo perform. His guitarist, Kakoy Legaspi, also played the mandolin at the program. And when the show was over, I immediately told him about Act of Congress’ upcoming visit to the country. I informed him that one of the members plays the mandolin and that they were scheduled to have a masterclass. Kakoy was really enthusiastic about learning more about the mandolin. He said that he doesn’t know anyone else in the country who plays it also. And this was the main reason why I got excited for the masterclass despite me just merely observing that afternoon. I was very pleased that Kakoy got along well with the band and also learned a lot about various techniques in playing the mandolin.

Chris Griffin demonstrates guitar techniques as eager students look on

The masterclass didn’t turn out to be like the usual ones that I’ve attended before. It was more like a creative interaction between the local and foreign musicians. The afternoon was started with performances by the local musicians and then Act of Congress performed a short set once again. After the performances, that was when the musicians started huddling up. Some like Adam and Chris, taught, demonstrated and shared pointers to those who were gathered around them. Bethany and Tim on the other hand, had an impromptu jamming sessions with the other musicians there.

Kakoy Legaspi (left) is one of the two mandolin players present
to the delight of Adam Wright (right)

Performance at The Podium

After the masterclass, Act of Congress went to Marilao, Bulacan for a couple of days to hold another masterclass and perform their first concert here as well. So after a two day break, I was able to see them once again as they were scheduled to have a performance over at The Podium. And I expect this performance to feature a much longer set compared to what I’ve seen from them before. Unfortunately, I was already indisposed that day but that didn’t stop me from going to The Podium despite the horrible weather the night before. I am glad that I went there since I was treated to an hour long set.

The mall crowd wasn’t as thick as it normally was which was understandable considering that many got stranded the night before (including me) due to the heavy rains and that the weather only improved a bit. But there were still a good turn out especially from the shoppers who got curious when they heard the rare kind of music not normally played on Philippine radio and television.

I wanted to catch them as well later that evening when they headed over to the 70s Bistro for a jamming session with Bayang Barrios and Kalayo. But I was already feeling too tired and I wanted to have some much needed sleep. I really regret not doing so especially when I saw the videos and photos from that night.

The Concert at the Park Wash Out

I finally got some sleep but the following day, the weather didn’t cooperate. I remember telling Adam that the Welcome Reception came a day after a very heavy downpour and they were lucky that they had none of that when they arrived. Well, I spoke too soon since the weather eventually got really bad that they had to cancel their Concert at the Park performance over at Rizal Park. Many other events were cancelled that day so it was really bad that Act of Congress had to experience the unusual Philippine weather during their brief stop in here. It was disappointing not just for me, but also for Kakoy who wanted to see the band more since he wasn’t able to make the night before at The Podium and 70s Bistro.

Fortunately, during Act of Congress’ final day in here and right before they headed over to Palau, they had one final performance at the La Salle- College of St. Benilde. I wasn’t able to see it since I learned about it just the day before and it was too late for me to work my schedule around this previously unannounced performance. But Kakoy was able to watch and hang out with the band a bit before they went to the airport. And if I’m not mistaken, the band also got a copy of Bamboo’s CD No Water, No Moon signed by Bamboo and the rest of his band.

Act of Congress

While I felt bad that I wasn’t able to see the band on their last couple of days in here, I still have high hopes that this wouldn’t be the last time that I’ll hear from them. Bethany was really vocal about how great time her time was in here. And she vowed that she’ll definitely be back in the country with a solo project that sounds “sick”. And when that time comes, I also vow that I’ll have her meet more local violinists.

Monday, September 24, 2012

PhilBanda holds Band Conducting Workshop at the CCP

Herminigildo Ranera conducts PhilBanda

The Philippine Band Association (PhilBanda) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines announces the CCP-PhilBanda Band Conducting Workshop, a one-day intensive training program for symphonic band conductors happening on October 20, 2012 from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM at the CCP’s Silangan Hall.

The workshop will be conducted by Olivier Ochanine, music director and principal conductor of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and Herminigildo Ranera, associate conductor of the PPO and founder and president of PhilBanda. With the intent to develop the skills in the art of conducting, the workshop module will consist of symphonic band conducting essentials, leadership skills enhancement, rehearsal techniques, score preparation, and actual band conducting with the participation of a laboratory band.

The workshop is open to all band conductors and enthusiasts from all over the country. Due to time constraints, only ten (10) band conductors will be chosen to conduct the laboratory band: five from Metro Manila, and five from the regions.

Those who are interested to attend may fill-out the application form (downloadable at the CCP website, and submit it to on or before October 5, 2012. A registration fee of P500 is required from the ten chosen conducting participants, and P300 for observers. Accepted applicants will be notified on October 12, 2012.

For inquiries:
832-1125 local 1605,

Sunday, September 23, 2012

PETA's William comes to the Cultural Center of the Philippines

September 28, 2012, 3:00 & 8:00 PM
Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater)
CCP Complex
Pasay, Metro Manila

Films and music albums that win major awards normally enjoy a spike in sales (CD/DVD/Blueray/digital formats) right after the awards night. But theater productions, especially in the Philippines that have very limited runs, don’t get to have that second shot. Normally, the awards are given way after the original run has ended. But now William, the play from the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) that dominated the recent 2011 Gawad Buhay! PHILSTAGE Awards will have a couple of special shows this September 28, 2012 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater).

William is a play about teenagers who develop a love for William Shakespeare while doing a class project (and dealing with several issues teenagers normally experience).In this play, the Bard’s verses are intertwined with rap, particularly FlipTop which is a Philippine rap battle league known across the country. The cast underwent training with Tondo rapper Shielbert Manuel, a.k.a O.G. Sacred in performing the ten original rap songs in the play by Jeff Hernandez along with choreography by John Tan of the Urban Dance Crew.

The play bagged the following awards during the 2011 Gawad Buhay! PHILSTAGE Awards: Oustanding Play, Outstanding Direction for Maribel Legarda, Outstanding Ensemble Performance in a Play, Outstanding Original Script for Ron Capinding, Outstanding Male Lead Performance for Ian Segarra, Outstanding Female Featured Performance for Meann Espinosa and Outstanding Male Featured Performance for Jojo Atienza.

William’s special performance on September 28, 2012 at 3:00 PM and 8:00 PM at the CCP is made possible through the partnership of PETA and the Cultural Center of the Philippines

Ticket prices:
P800 Orchestra Center
P600 Orchestra Side

For inquiries:
PETA 725-6244
TicketWorld 891-9999

Friday, September 21, 2012

Walang Kukurap

Suzette Ranillo

I could’ve easily watched THAT other musical up the stairs to relax and escape from the rigors of work and daily life. I could’ve just enjoyed the sights and sounds and be dazzled by the spectacular sets, costumes, choreography and yes, that chandelier. But instead, I chose a different experience altogether and watched a play that made me squirm, feel disturbed and left me at the edge of my seat. That play, ladies and gentlemen is Walang Kukurap, the second offering of Tanghalang Pilipino for its 26th Season tackling Truth and Consequence.

Watching Walang Kukurap or any play by the tandem of playwright Layeta Bucoy and director Tuxqs Rutaquio is like taking a trip to the cinemas to watch a horror film. And Walang Kukurap is a more chilling, gripping and shocking than any horror flick out there for it explores the very dirty nature of small town politics in the Philippines. Add to that the venue, the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Huseng Batute (CCP Studio Theater), is very intimate that it forces the audience to remain engaged all throughout the play.

I do admit that I found it hard to engage at the beginning of the play. Seated at the very front, I was not comfortable that close to all the action happening on stage. And I did get confused during the first scene in keeping tabs on who’s who and how each is related to one another. But during the pivotal moment of that opening scene, it suddenly became clear to me as if the initial confusion that I felt earlier on was really by design. Soon enough, I got them all figured out: the Medinas, Perezes, Santiagos, Gutierrezes and the rest of the players.

Cristina Medina (Suzette Ranillo) is a widow running for vice mayor for the sake of her family, but despite her good intentions, get swallowed by the system and succumbs to it in the end. Her running mate, incumbent mayor Molong Perez (Crispin Pineda) is really deep into the system to the point that his wife Purita (Sherry Lara) and brother Paquito (Paulo Cabañero) are already part of his machinery. And unfortunately, their children Marky (Marco Viaña) and Mirra Medina (Delphine Buencamino) as well as Dino Perez (Ralph Mateo) are either being geared or forced to be part of this machinery. Add to the mix, the pompous Santiago Sr. (Nonoy Froilan) who is also running for mayor along with Rhoda Medina (Regina de Vera) as his running mate. Yup, Rhoda is a Medina, the daughter of Melba (Mymy Davao) who is Cristina’s sister in law if I’m not mistaken. Sadly, Doray Gutierrez (Doray Dayao), the only candidate whose intentions are noble, pure and sincere come off as the comic relief since no one, not even her son Gutierrez (Nar Cabico) took her running seriously. If this rundown of characters feels like a circus, well, that’s how it is in Philippine politics.

The gears got turning in the already tense political situation at the start of the play when what was supposed to be a fun time gathering among the youth turns tragic. And this tragedy becomes the catalyst as some would resort to any means to come out of this unscathed, while others with shady intentions would use this to further their own selfish cause. Families are torn apart, friendships are ruined and trust is shattered while the politicking and the power grabbing goes on.

All throughout the play, I was constantly shifting in my seat and I felt the others do the same. The blackouts in between scenes were a indeed welcome break but they went by too quickly as the lights went back again and the uneasiness continued. I admit that it’s not an easy play to watch for it forced me to see the harsh reality of Philippine politics. And very true to the title, I didn’t have any chance to blink at all since I was right there smack in front and couldn’t miss anything that was going on. Like what I've said earlier on, watching this play is like going to a horror movie. There is this high that one gets after coming out of the theater. But Walang Kukurap resonates a lot more than the usual slasher flick since it leaves the audience wondering what needs to be done next. It doesn't sit well knowing that an ugly truth is presented right in their face. And for all the mindless entertainment out there, this kind of production is something that one needs to experience in order to feel what it is to be truly human.

As expected, the earlier shows in a play’s run often have some timing issues. There were scenes when one conversation would cut into another just like in film. And there were a few times when the timing in these were not as crisp and precise as they could be. But this is usually smoothened out as the shows go on when the actors have more grasp in the material. That means that the production does get better as the run goes on, but the big problem is that tickets normally get sold out by that time. I do hope to see Walang Kukurap once again so that I may be able to see what I didn’t see the first time. And of course, it would be a blast if I ever catch Gloc-9 during his special participation in the play.

Also starring in this production are Lou Veloso, Jonathan Tadioan, Pee Wee O’ Hara, Ding Navasero, Ced Torrecarion, Remus Villanueva, Nicolo Magno, Jovanni Cadag, April Joy Iñigo, Sharmaine Suarez and June Francis Domingo. Walang Kukurap runs every weekend up to October 7, 2012 at the Tanghalang Huseng Batute (CCP Studio Theater).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Gloc-9's Bloggers' Gathering


I remember watching Jim Paredes saying with such conviction that the next Filipino song after Anak to hit it big overseas will not be a song in English. It will be one in Filipino instead. Now I say it with conviction that this song could be among the tracks from MKNM Mga Kwento ng Makata, the latest from Gloc-9 and his first under Universal Records. All tracks but one are in Filipino and they have the potential to be hits not just in the country, but in the international market as well. This album, a collection of smart and witty verses by Gloc-9 that clearly reflect Filipino sensibilities also boasts of collaborations with some of the biggest names in the music industry namely Chito Miranda, Bamboo, Ebe Dancel, Jay Durias, Billy Crawford and many others.

The album’s first single Sirena has already become a massive hit. It shouldn’t surprise anyone anymore if one hears random people singing the chorus at the most unexpected places. I heard someone singing it inside a public restroom for crying out loud. Gloc-9 recently had a Bloggers’ Gathering conference at Universal Records and it was a great chance for bloggers who attended to know more about him and how he comes up with his music. One thing we learned there was how the song Sirena came about. The song spawned from a conversation between Gloc-9 and Sandwich’s Raimund Marasigan. Meeting at the backstage during a concert, they discussed that there hasn’t been a song about homosexuals told from the first person perspective. From there, the wheels started turning for him and earlier on, Ebe Dancel was the frontrunner to sing that very catchy chorus. I couldn’t imagine now hearing someone else singing it.

Looking at Gloc-9 or Aristotle Pollisco in real life, he clearly defies the stereotypical and idealized image of a rapper. He doesn’t have any tattoos or any piercings in the first place. He looks inconspicuous just like everybody else although many did comment that he looked like popular actor John Lloyd Cruz in the Sirena music video. I also remember seeing him at the lobby prior to the Philippine Popular Music Festival Finals Night and he didn’t look nor act like a star that he is. He admitted that during gigs, most of the patrons wouldn’t even know who he was until he took to the stage and started performing. And this demeanor does reflect in his music. None of his tracks promote the party lifestyle or glamorize sex, drugs and violence. Instead, he serves social commentary with his verses and spices them up with probably the most infectious hooks heard in local music today.

During the bloggers conference, Gloc-9 also recalled that recording MKNM: Mga Kwento ng Makata took six months which was longer then usual compared to his other albums. Mostly, it went down to scheduling conflicts since majority of his tracks featured collaborations. But he said that it’s the recording that is his most cherished part in making the album. When he comes up with new compositions, he would normally let his producers hear it and then let them do the musical arrangement. This long wait probably made the album one of the most eagerly awaited releases of the past month. In fact, an additional album launch show was held over at Eastwood Central Plaza to meet the demands of people who clamored for more Gloc-9.

For the 15 years Gloc-9 has been in the industry, he has gone through a lot. He has changed labels and management and encountered difficulties in surviving in the music industry as a rapper. Now, he is not just some other rapper but is treated instead as one of the most respected artists in the industry. Even National Artist for Literature, Bienvenido Lumbera, lined up during one of his CD signings. Gloc-9 was also recently named as one of the National Peace Ambassadors by Malacanang with no other than President Benigno Aquino, Jr in attendance during the awarding ceremony. That is truly a huge deal from someone who found it hard to be marketed as a rapper.

Just like what I did with Bamboo before, I also had Gloc-9 leave a message in my little notebook and here is an English translation of what he wrote: “To Adrian! I will always be a fan and a follower of Filipino music! Long live OPM! Gloc-9 913912” With an album such as MKNM: Mga Kwento ng Makata, who wouldn’t be a fan and follower of Filipino music? Aside from this new album, Gloc-9 will have a special participation in certain performances of Tanghalang Pilipino’s Walang Kukurap. I am still not sure which performance dates he will show up but I do hope to catch him there as well.

"Mabuhay ang OPM!"

MKNM: Mga Kwento ng Makata is available at record stores nationwide. Sirena and the rest of the album's tracks are also available via digital downloads over iTunes and MyMusicStore Philippines.

Gloc-9’s Bloggers’ Gathering was presented by Universal Records in cooperation with LionhearTV, Pinoy Magazine and BANDS Magazine. Special thanks to Francis Magalona Clothing Co.

MKNM: Mga Kwento ng Makata

1. Balak Ni Syke
2. Apatnapungbara feat. Ian Tayao
3. Silup feat. Denise Barbacena
4. Alalay ng Hari feat. Allan Mitchell Silonga
5. Sirena feat. Ebe Dancel
6. Hindi Mo Nadinig feat. Jay Durias
7. Sino (Interlude)
8. Salarin feat. Bamboo Mañalac
9. Inday feat. Cathy Go
10. Bakit Hindi feat. Billy Crawford
11. Malakas (Interlude)
12. Pison feat. Chito Miranda
13. Thankful feat. Maychelle Baay of Moonstar88 & Bambu
14. Hari ng Tondo feat. Denise Barbacena
15. Kung Tama Siya feat. Jaq Dionisio of Kissjane

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Silent Sanctuary's Antoni Josef Inacay closes out CCP's Special Concert Series

Cellist Anjo Inacay

September 26, 2012, 7:30 PM
Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater)
CCP Complex
Pasay, Metro Manila

Antoni Josef Inacay, cello
Mary Anne Espina, piano

Ludwig van Beethoven Sonata for Cello and Piano No. 3 in A major, Op. 69
Claude Debussy Sonata for Cello and Piano
Johannes Brahms Sonata for Cello and Piano No. 2 in F major, Op. 99

The Special Concert Series over at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater) is now down to third and final concert. And I couldn’t believe that I missed the first two featuring pianist Charisse Baldoria and soprano Katrina Saporsantos. But it seems that I can’t afford to miss the last concert happening this September 26, 2012 at 7:30 PM featuring cellist Antoni Josef Inacay or Anjo for short.

I bumped into him recently when he was part of the band that accompanied Bamboo over at Radio Republic. After their performance, we ended up talking about this upcoming concert wherein he’ll be accompanied by pianist Mary Anne Espina. He even said that because of this upcoming solo concert, he will not be joining the Manila Symphony Orchestra for their September 21-22, 2012 performances. He took a leave from the Manila Symphony Orchestra to study in Boston and he has just resumed his principal duties with the orchestra. Anjo also teased me that his other band, Silent Sanctuary, will be coming up with new material soon and that I should watch out for that.

The last time I saw Anjo, he was accompanying Bamboo so it will be a nice change of pace to see him return to his classical roots for his upcoming concert. The programme for this concert include Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata for Cello and Piano No. 3 in A major, Op. 69, Claude Debussy’s Sonata for Cello and Piano and Johannes Brahms’ Sonata for Cello and Piano No. 2 in F major, Op. 99.

Ticket price:
P800 Orchestra Center
P600 Orchestra Side
-50% student discount
-20% senior citizen discount

For inquiries:
CCP Box Office 832-3704
TicketWorld 891-9999

Bamboo at Radio Republic’s Live at 2299


I’ve been a fan of Bamboo Mañalac even since he was the frontman of Rivermaya back in the 1990’s. Despite all the things that has happened since then (Bamboo leaving Rivermaya, forming Bamboo, the band and then going solo), I’ve always remained a fan and responded positively with his music. One major turning point for me was when I heard Ryan Cayabyab’s arrangement of Hallelujah for orchestra and chorale and it changed the way I looked at Bamboo’s music again. And it truly made me a happy camper when he opted for a more organic and orchestral sound for No Water, No Moon, his first album as a solo artist which is released by Polyeast Records. One can just imagine what my reaction was when I heard the strings, the brass, the children’s choir, the harmonica and the lush orchestration throughout the album.

I wanted to see Bamboo perform live ever since the album’s release back in November, but the chances have all passed me by. He also had an album signing before and I was just in the same building but didn’t have the chance to attend the signing. I saw him perform one number during the Icons at the Mall of Asia Arena: Masters of OPM concert and again, the Ryan Cayabyab arrangement of Noypi proved that Bamboo’s stuff really translates well with an orchestra. I was very thrilled when I was able to have a quick photo with him after the concert. But that wasn’t enough and I hoped for more.

Thankfully, Radio Republic, the online video streaming station that plays 100% Filipino music came along. I do remember asking them when Bamboo will drop by the station and they told me that it was just a matter of time. That time eventually came when Bamboo became the guest for Radio Republic’s Live at 2299 show and not even a sudden heavy downpour prevented me from getting there. Being drenched was just a small price to pay for something that I’ve waited for a long, long time.

So focused was I on Bamboo that I forgot that he would have his band along with him. I shouldn’t have been surprised seeing Ria Osorio once again considering that she’s the keyboardist and also one of the arrangers of the album. Her fellow arranger Kakoy Legaspi came armed with an acoustic guitar, steel guitar and a rare mandolin. Along with the two were guitarist Chico Gonzales and cellist Anjo Inacay. The band was pared down compared to the usual setup but it worked pretty well with the show. Bamboo performed a one hour set, singing songs from No Water, No Moon like In Shadow, In This Life, Questions and Ikot ng Mundo. After a couple of songs, Bamboo also answered questions that were sent by viewers via twitter. This Bamboo gig for Radio Republic’s Live at 2299 turned out to be an intimate affair which for me is much preferred over concerts at huge arenas (or worse, open grounds) complete with a screaming and possibly unruly crowd. After the performance, I had Bamboo sign a copy of the CD (at long last), have a brief conversation with him and have another photo taken with him without any security people telling me to make it quick.

Bamboo at Live at 2299

Lastly, I took the opportunity to let Bamboo have the honor in being the first one to scribble at my little notebook that I brought that night. This little notebook has been with me for some months now and I had no idea what to do with it. One day, I just slapped a Radio Republic sticker on the cover since it was just plain and that’s when it dawned on me. I decided to have local recording artists (OPM artists) write a brief and positive message in its pages. The message could either relate to local music or life in general. So that whenever I feel like I’m losing hope or getting depressed, I just have to read what has been written in the pages to snap me out of my slump. And I think that it’s also a great reminder for me that OPM is truly alive and not dead.

"sunshine in darker times..."

It’s been more than a week since this Bamboo encounter and I’m still grinning from ear to ear whenever I think of it. And this wasn’t even the end of it as Kakoy Legapi’s mandolin also sparked the beginning of something else which I think is very cool indeed. It’s such a great feeling when something that I’ve waited for such a long time eventually happens. And this wouldn’t happen if not for Radio Republic which I think is possibly the most happening place for OPM right now. Many thanks also to Polyeast Records especially to Ethel Cachapero, Tricia Pablo and Mel Katigbak.

No Water, No Moon

1. In Shadow
2. Please
3. Morning Rose
4. Back on My Feet
5. Questions
6. Spin
7. In This Life
8. Down the Line
9. All Hail the Fool
10. The Only Way
11. Just Go
12. Ikot ng Mundo

Monday, September 17, 2012

Aiza Seguerra gets a “little” help for 25th anniversary concert

Aiza Seguerra

Aiza Seguerra’s upcoming concert Bente Singko: Aiza Seguerra Anniversary Concert is fast approaching and I’ve attended two promotional events for this special occasion. Aside from the fact that this concert is in celebration of her remarkable 25 years in the entertainment industry, the other thing that got people talking is the killer line up of guests in this concert. Tito, Vic and Joey, Gary Valenciano, Martin Nievera, The CompanY, ASAP Sessionistas: Juris, Richard Poon, Princess and Nyoy Volante, Gloc-9, Bayang Barrios, Cooky Chua of Color It Redd and Krizza Neri along with the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra led by Gerard Salonga are the big time music acts slated to celebrate this milestone in Aiza’s career on September 28, 2012, 8:00 PM at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Cora Rodrigo, Aiza Seguerra and Joed Serrano

Aiza held another press conference at Packo’s Grill and she was joined by producers Joed Serrano and Cora Rodrigo. A lot of the topics discussed in here were mostly a repeat of what transpired during the first meet up (mostly for bloggers) for this concert that I’ve attended. For the second time, I really wanted to ask her music directors for the show, Mike Villegas and Ria Osorio some questions. But sadly, they weren’t present at the conference. But in a nice twist of fate, I managed to see Ria after all later that evening and was able to ask her music related stuff about the concert. And just a few days later, I was able to see one of the guests at the concert, Bayang Barrios who is also the wife of the other music director Mike Villegas.

Ria Orosio (2nd from left) during a recent guesting with Bamboo

I saw Ria once again when she accompanied Bamboo at a recent guesting. Right off the bat, I asked her about Aiza’s upcoming concert. She said that she will be a recluse, working really hard leading into the concert. It’s pretty obvious that she has a lot of orchestrating to do considering that the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra will be accompanying the concert from start to finish. Ria agreed with what Aiza said during the press conference that she wants to be on top of things, knowing every music detail and not diving into work blindly. This tandem works brilliantly as Aiza also said, that for her, music is alive and breathing. And Ria never fails to deliver music that is indeed alive and breathing with her organic sound and lush arrangements.

On the other hand, I saw Bayang Barrios during the Welcome Reception for the US band Act of Congress where she was one of the guest performers. I also took the opportunity to ask her more about the upcoming concert. She said that all of the guests, including her, have a personal connection with Aiza. Her inclusion represents Aiza's wide musical horizons and that she has also managed to work with non-mainstream artists like her. Aiza did credit Mike Villegas for the start of her musical growth. The couple’s influence can also be heard in Aiza’s music as it remains grounded, intimate and very personal.

Bayang Barrios

The entertainment industry has rarely been kind to actors who venture into recording music. It is easier for singers to go into acting but more difficult the other way around. But Aiza is one of the few actors who not only found success in the music industry but also has earned the respect of her peers. If one is not convinced about this, he just need to look at the list of her guests for Bente Singko. See you at the concert!

Bente Singko: Aiza Seguerra Anniversary Concert is a production of MediaNation, Inc., Blackbird Music Creations and That’s Ntertainment Productions. The concert is also made possible by ABS-CBN, ASAP Rocks, Eat Bulaga, MYX, Love Radio 90.7, Tambayan 101.9, Barangay 97.1, Yes FM 101.1, Easy Rock 96.3, Crossover 105.1 and Mellow 94.7, Yahoo! Philippines, Philippine Concerts, Manila Concert Scene, PEP,, The Telenovela Channel, AstroPlus,, BusinessWorld and Star Records.

Here is the entry when Aiza met with bloggers to talk about the concert.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cine Europa 15

Organizers make a toast to Cine Europa 15

For the second year in a row, I was fortunate to be among the invited guests at Cine Europa’s opening night. This year, which is the film festival’s 15th year, will feature 21 films from member nations of the European Union to be screened over at the Shang Cineplex from September 6-16, 2012. As always, the screenings for this festival generate long lines for admission is free and the movies shown are a breath of fresh air compared to the usual mainstream stuff out there.

Christian Tan, Kim Mirandilla-Ng, Chino David and Aris Solares

The Shangri-La Plaza Atrium was the venue for the cocktails that was held prior to the screening of the opening film Upperdog. Guests were treated to music by tenor Nic Norman Tugaff and a string quartet composed of Christian Tan, Kim Mirandilla-Ng, Chino David and Aris Solares. Several members of the diplomatic corps, officers of various cultural institutions and key figures from the film industry enjoyed the music, food and wine that were served on that evening. As an added treat, everybody was asked to fill out forms that would as entries as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines raffled out a business class ticket to Europe to a lucky guest that evening as well.


The screening of the Norwegian film Upperdog opened Cine Europa 15 marking the first time that Norway participated in the festival. It’s quite fitting that this film was chosen since one of its stars, Hermann Sabado, is Filipino-Norwegian. Unfortunately, Hermann wasn’t present during the opening. If he was able to attend, then it would just be his second time to visit the country.

The movie, written and directed by Sara Johnsen, is an intimate and character driven story that revolves around two Asian half-siblings who got separated as kids when they adopted by a different set of Norwegian parents. The younger sibling, Axel (Hermann Sabado) was adopted by an affluent family and it shows in his spoiled and playboy lifestyle. His older sister, Yanne (Bang Chau) was taken in by a family with a more modest lifestyle and she had spent years wondering where her younger brother was. Their roads cross when Yanne’s friend Maria (Agnieszka Grochowska) ends up working with Axel’s family (and also becoming intimate with him as well). One would think that this would end up in a happy family reunion but things are not simple as that as all of the characters have their respective baggage. Add to the mix Per (Mads Sjøgård Pettersen), a discharged soldier who provides some love spark in Yannes life. Incidentally, Per is indirectly connected with Axel through his former job. Personally, all this connection was too much since it was too convenient and too forced for my taste. What I liked most in this movie was the ending where Axel and Yanne’s families finally having the chance to meet and then left it at that. The audience is left thinking what would happen next and that there’s still another story after that meeting. It was satisfying for me despite its open ending. If one is looking for an epic story, then Upperdog is not a film for them.

From 11 films back in 1998, this edition of Cine Europa boasts of 21 European films fom Austria, Belgium. Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. This edition also marks the debut of the participation of the Philippine Independent Filmmakers Cooperative (IFC) that will further enhance the educational component of the festival.

Cine Europa is organized by the European Union Cultural Group in Manila which gathers together the Embassies and Cultural Institutes of the European Union. Partners of Cine Europa are the Embassies of Norway and Switzerland, the Film Development Council of the Philippines, the Independent Film Cooperative, the Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Arts Council of Cebu and Liceo de Cagayan de Oro.

Cine Europa 15 goes to Ayala Center in Cebu on September 21-24, 2012, Liceo de Cagayan in Cagayan de Oro on September 27-30, 2012 and in FDCP Cinemateques in Davao, Baguio and Iloilo on October 4-21, 2012.
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