Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Reflections Part 1: New Home

Here lies some thoughts about my life the past year of 2015 just to catch up with everything I failed to set in stone in this blog.

I will tackle a few areas of my life that I feel are of note.  This will most likely be a number of blog posts.  This particular one is about my new apartment.

I have been living in my old studio apartment in Makati for years.  And I literally mean years.  I forgot how long it's been.  But I'm guessing I've stayed there for close to a decade.  Maybe even longer.  I should have moved out sooner.  But I always had some limbo excuse in my life that was always convenient enough for me to put off looking to move to a new place.

Those excuses were either the inability to find a better place to rent, inability to find a rent-to-own apartment, or plainly not having enough funds to buy a new place outright and handle the monthly and annual payments.

I would search for possible options sparingly and those spurts of efforts only really lasts a few days at a time.  I, then, slump back into the limbo that I was both nervous and yet comfortable living in.

I also let my old place deteriorate.  I didn't really mind how messy it got.  So cleaning was largely an optional activity until something bad happens where I have no choice but to clean (i.e. bathroom sink sprung a leak and flooded my apartment.).  I didn't care.  It was only me in my place.  And all the dirt, grime, and accumulating stuff only bothered me and no one else.  My apartment turned into some cave and I was literally turning into some burara caveman.

That was one of a number of "ruts" that I slipped into.  And didn't care to get myself out of for years.  I don't think I'm an un-hygenic person.  But you would definitely think so if you saw the state of my old apartment.  Only my closest of friends know.  And they're mostly guys.  So they didn't care either.

It was a fortunate coincidence last year that my older sister, who lives in the States with her family, was having trouble paying the monthly and annual payments of her apartment in Ortigas.  Although she and her husband were both working, the cost of living in the US, plus two kids, and shouldering the living expenses of our parents, put a strain on her ability to handle any other costs outside of all those family considerations.  They were doing fine.  But certainly nowhere near comfortable in terms of financials.  The market was a little flooded with new condo buildings around the metro as well.  So selling the place was also quite a challenge.

My younger sister pitched the idea of me taking over all those payments and have a separate discussion with my older sister in order to pay for whatever total amount that she has already been paid out.  Essentially, I would eventually own my older sister's apartment.

It's a pretty convenient deal for me at that.  I don't have to provide a large downpayment since my older sister paid that out already.  She and I don't have to go through brokers and pay at least 10-20% of the condo price as brokers' fees.  All I have to do is ensure that I'm good with all the monthly and annual payments.  All those costs are close to what I already pay out in terms of rent, utilities, and association dues at my old place.  It was a win-win scenario for me.  And I was lucky to even have such an opportunity.  Plus this would significantly help out my sister and ultimately my parents financially.

Since I've been living at my old place for years, the amount of stuff I've accumulated over those years became glaringly evident when it came to packing all my stuff.  Admittedly, I did little or no pre-packing.  I was fortunate that my younger sister arranged for packers/movers for me where they literally packed everything they could see in my old place.  For such a small studio apartment, I was surprised that the balikbayan boxes the packing amounted to was close to 20 boxes.

Although my new place is much bigger than my old one, 17-20 balikbayan sized boxes plus furniture made my new place rather cramped at least on the first floor.  Unpacking has been a frustrating ordeal for me.  It made me realize how much of a pack-rat I really was.  I spent the next few weeks to months slowly unpacking.

Recent surgery stalled my unpacking efforts.  Perhaps I used my recent minor surgery as an excuse to not deal with unpacking.  My wound has healed considerably.  So I resumed unpacking.  Between the time I first moved in and now, I've gone from 17-20 boxes down now to just 3.  I've thrown out a lot of clothes and other things that I no longer wear or use.

Close to fully unpacked.  Yet the last three box seem just as frustrating as the initial 17+ boxes.  So I will slowly keep going until all of it is unpacked.  Hopefully, I'll be able to sort through where everything goes once everything is out of balikbayan boxes.  If not, looks like I need to throw out even more stuff.

My new place and moving in a new town signifies a fresh start for me.  Friends who have known me for years have been concerned that I stayed in my old place for so long.  I admittedly have been stagnant for years in my old place.  I just burn money month after month paying rent.  That money goes nowhere.  With my new place, what I pay out monthly and annually goes towards owning my place.  So my money doesn't just burn into thin air.  I am paving my future now.

And this is a very well-timed move considering the New Year.  At least I got the move completed prior to the holidays.  I poured a considerable amount of money into my new place.  I had the walls repainted.  I had decent kitchen cabinets, counter, rangehood, etc. installed.  I even spent to buy and install water heaters for my kitchen and bathroom sinks.  With all the unpacking, there is obviously still a lot that needs to be done.  But at the very least, the move is done.  And I can now work towards making my new apartment a home for myself in the coming weeks/months.


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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

SunDownMuse "Like Knives" Album Launch

It's been quite a few months since my band, SunDownMuse, launched their 2nd album at Route 196.  This was back in September 13 of last year.

We picked Route 196 as the venue because the owners and staff have always treated us well when we run productions there.  Even when we don't finish a particular night until the sun rises.

Last minute preparations were a tad stressful that night primarily due to the rain.  I personally had to scour nearby computer shops and internet cafes because the video that showcases all our sponsors for the launch couldn't play at Route 196's DVD player.  Even thought I finally was able to burn the video file onto a DVD, it still didn't work.  I took that on because I could see our band leader, Briggs, getting increasingly stressed out about last minute preps.  I was the one who hardly contributed much time and effort for the event.  So I took that and even volunteered to play host/MC for the night (The person who was supposed to MC bailed last minute.)

I don't remember much else from that night other than the fact that we really enjoyed all the other bands that we invited to play.  They were the Purplechickens, Fuseboxx, and the Jerks.  Each of their sets were just as enjoyable as the next.  One disappointment was that Enzo and crew (Severo) bailed on us last minute.

We were exceptionally giving to the other bands we invited to play at our launch.  Aside from feeding and getting them drunk on Jack Daniel's, we gave them each band a size-able gift basket.  The Jerks don't drink so much these days.  But they loved the gift basket.  It's something that most bands don't expect from event organizers I suppose.  Thanks to Carol for dreaming up and making that idea happen.

The place filled up decently well especially considering that it was raining.  Most people refrain from going out when it rains.  So it was a pleasant surprise that the place had quite a crowd despite the inclement weather.

Below are videos of our set during our launch that night, as well as a few videos from the sets of the other bands we invited to play.









Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Handpan Diary #10 - Farewell (December 21, 2014, Bali Steel Pan)

I wrote this handpan piece for my Uncle Philip who recently died about 2 months ago. He was one of the only few relatives that I actually identified with. One of the last times my Uncle and I spoke, he asked about my handpans and said he would like to watch me play at one of my solo gigs. He never got the chance to. So with a heavy heart, I wrote this composition for him. I will go visit him at his grave soon and play it for him.

Writing this piece is also helping me deal with other things in my personal life since I may have to say goodbye to another person who is very dear my heart. So in a way, my Uncle is still helping me with my life even after his death.

I hope you're in a good place, Uncle Philip. And thank you for everything.





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Friday, November 21, 2014

All Alone With You

I've been watching this Japanese anime called Psycho-Pass lately. I ended up not only liking the anime. But also loving the ending theme songs of the series. Both ending theme songs are from an artist called Egoist. I remember this artist from their theme song in another anime called Guilty Crown.

As always when my head is in a dark place, music always somehow carries me through. So I will share one of the two ending theme songs that really hit me. I found and downloaded most of the band's music just a while ago. I keep listening to this particular song over and over for some reason. Call me a hopeless romantic, or someone who needs to take his skirt off and end this sap fest. But this is me.

I can enjoy music unconventionally. I can enjoy how a song sounds and appreciate the lyrical meaning behind the song even if I don't understand the language it's in. Here's the lyric video with English subtitles from the anime, as well as the Egoist music video of the entire song. I've put both the English translation and original Japanese lyrics below the video. So you can read along while listening to the song. The English translation is a tad crude. But I got the gist of what the song is trying to say.







All Alone With You (English Translation)
Vocals: EGOIST
Lyrics: Ryo
Composition: Ryo
Arrangement: Ryo

There’s no way
that I can love someone
But I want someone to love me
Even if yesterday stayed unchanged forever
We couldn’t go anywhere
You and me

Dear God, where did you go? Hey
But there’s no answer; it’s always like this
Are you still here?

You’ll never walk alone
I’ll go with you
Bearing
any sin you’ve got
I’ll walk
down the uncharted path
All alone with you

Come over here
Touch me and kiss me
You may
mess me up even more, okay?
If everyone is going to die
and be forgotten someday
Then I’ll only believe in what’s certain now

Dear God, those who are pretentious say
that people are strong
But that’s a lie
Do you agree?

I will stay with you
Hug me
with your hands
and with all your heart
Don’t be scared
I’m all better now

Even if your hands
ended up getting dirtied
I’d still want you
to love me

You’ll never walk alone
I’ll go with you
Bearing
any sin you’ve got
I’ll walk
down the uncharted path
with you

I will stay with you
Hug me
with your hands
and with all your heart
Because I desire
any and everything that you have
All alone with you


All Alone With You (Japanese)
Vocals: EGOIST

Dareka o aisuru koto nante
Dekiru wake naku tte
Dakedo dareka ni aisaretakute
Kawaranai kinou ga zutto tsuzuita to shite mo
Doko ni mo ike ya shinain da
Watashi to kimi

Kami-sama   doko e itte shimatta no   nee
Henji wa nakute   itsu datte sou da yo
Are you still here?

You’ll never walk alone
Anata to yuku
Donna tsumi mo
Seotte ageru
Michi naki michi o
Aruiteku no
Anata to futari de

Kocchi ni kite
Watashi ni furete   kisu o shite
Motto mechakucha ni
Shitatte iin da yo?
Itsuka dare mo ga shinjatte
Wasurerareteku nara
Ima tashika na mono dake o shinjiru wa

Kami-sama   kidori no hito ga iu no
Nee   hito wa tsuyoi tte
Sonna no uso da yo
Do you agree?

I will stay with you
Anata no te de
Dakishimete yo
Omoikkiri
Kowagaranaide
Mou daijoubu   watashi nara

Sono te ga yogorete
Shimatta to shite mo
Aishite hoshii
Watashi no koto

You’ll never walk alone
Anata to yuku
Donna tsumi mo
Seotte ageru
Michi naki michi o
Aruiteku no
Anata to

I will stay with you
Anata no te de
Dakishimete yo
Omoikkiri
Nozomenai mono wa
Nani mo nai kara
Anata to futari de



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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Jack Versus the Crab Album Launch



Long overdue blog post about one of my bands' album launches. I was originally going to blog about SunDownMuse's album launch. But remembered that I haven't casted into the proverbial stone any details about Jack Versus the Crab's album launch last year. So I better do it now, before it complete escapes my memory into the blur of all the gigs since last year.

Our album launch was held in a place called Purgatory. The place actually was called Peligro eons ago. And was resurrected as Purgatory. The place is much bigger than when it opened as Peligro back in the day. When we scoped the place out a few weeks back, I was actually wondering how we can manage to fill up the place come our album launch.


Our call time as decreed by our fearless band leader, Waxie, was 4:00PM on the day of the launch. I thought that was way too early. But Waxie had all these elaborate plans for the launch. So who am I to question his schedule choices.

When I got there, there were a few band members already there. We checked out all the gear onstage. And ran a few rather painful sound checks. There was bad feedback coming from the mics for some reason. Perhaps it was the placement of the speakers or perhaps the monitors themselves. We eventually got it sorted out. But it meant that some mics had to be lowered in volume. And thus the entire band had to tone down a little. I realized then that a 4:00PM call time to sound check was definitely a good idea.

I don't own any of the pictures that I will embed on this post henceforth.

Waxie had us his sister and Dad take photos of us around the venue. Impromptu photoshoot it seems. They got us to go to this or that corner of the venue making weird poses and stuff. I was just glad that I didn't have to wear make-up (I horridly had to wear make-up for a photoshoot when Jack Daniel's was still sponsoring the band. Que horror.)


After all that, we went out to eat dinner and reconvened in the small part of Purgatory that seemed to be the VIP area. As expected with this band, we can't help but start drinking when we hang out together. So as early as 7:00PM. The beers started coming. Take note, the launch itself starts at 9:00PM. Typical Filipino behavior usually means people won't start coming in until around 10:00PM onwards. So we were drinking straight until people started arriving.

Waxie apparently arranged for press to interview us. So they all gathered around us in the VIP area, asking us questions about the band's backstory, from the meaning behind the band name to musical influences and experience of each of the members. A few of press people were pleasantly surprised to find out that our drummer is Fritz Barth (Dr. Stix). One of them even came out and asked Fritz directly, "You mean Dr. Stix of Spy and Pinikpikan?" When Fritz said yes to the question, all of the press people immediately wrote it down in their notes. That was amusing.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

New Handpan Composition: In Her Travel Shoes

My latest handpan composition that I played in between sets with my band, Jack Versus The Crab. I was meaning to make a video of me playing the piece at home. But this came out decent. I do need to play it a little tighter next time.

The piece was inspired by a girl that I know. She was brave to take a solo trip to Vietnam for vacation. She would tell me about the places she's headed to and all the tasty dishes she's tried.  She would run into glitches in her plans. But would somehow find solutions for them.

So I thought about how it would feel to breathe in the air over there. How it would feel like to see all the places she went to. And to taste all that sumptuous food. Hence the title of this handpan composition.

I initially zoom cropped this video while I was editing it. But I decided not to in the end. The little girl dancing around while I was playing was too cute to cut out.





I also pasted the first part of this post on the YouTube video's description. But I'll continue my thoughts here in the blog. Hopefully you weren't too distracted with the baby walking around everywhere, that you actually noticed my playing. Haha

I feel pretty good about the piece. There's this kick ass Australian handpan player named Adrian Portia that I've come to befriend on Facebook. I always admired the speed and precision of his playing. And of course as all other handpan players that know him, we all want to learn his techniques. It so happens one of those techniques I already knew; right handed triplets. All I had to do was to play 3 different notes instead of just 2 notes, with one note repeated twice. Varying the 3 notes like you would with chords and tadaaaa, then came out the starting and ending parts of the piece.

I'm not a learned musician as I always say in this blog. But it feels good to know that I can still slightly improve even with what little I know.

All of my handpan compositions so far were about what I was going through or what I was feeling. So this marks the first time that I wrote a piece about someone else. I'd like to thank the girl I mentioned someday. It got me out of my creative rut. And even though there are still things weighing heavily on me, she sure made it a little lighter to carry. If I don't get to thank her, I'll just smile to myself and be glad that for a while, she helped me peck a hole in this thick shell of mine.


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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Handpan Diary #9 - Trials and Tribulations (Chromatic Spacedrum, August 10, 2014)

I was in a creative drought for quite a while. I had gigs every weekend for the last two months. Work has been bogging me down. But I still hang in there. So I have very little free time these days. All that prevented me from completing a composition I was working on with one my Bali Steel handpans. I was slipping into a rut. So I decided to write something for my Chromatic Spacedrum instead. Fortunately, I got a point where I think it's finished.

This particular piece of mine represents all the curve balls that I get thrown at at work. Between dealing with inflexibility, egos, and too many would be kings in one castle, it always feels like water filling up to the brim each day. This drowning feeling that is difficult to shake off. As always, I turn to my handpans to calm down and sort things out in my head. And my handpans have saved me once again.




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