Thursday, December 12, 2013

My Radial Nerve Palsy Experience Part 3

This the last post regarding my life experiences while I was slowly recovering from my Radial Nerve Palsy hand injury.  I'm just getting this all down in my blog.  So I can move on to the topics in my backlog of things to blog about this past year.

My iPhone and iPad was my new gaming platform. (Shadow Cities and The Walking Dead)

Like I mentioned in my previous blog posts, my iPad was one of the only things I could actually interact decently with as an interface to both my PC and iOS apps.  It was just much easier to poke and drag on a touchscreen than toil with a mouse/keyboard or console controller.  I looked for iOS games beyond just the plethora of dinky casual games that I could play on my iPad. I found two games that saved my sanity and kept me entertained.

The first one is called Shadow Cities. It's a geo-location based augmented reality action RPG. Basically, you pick one of two mage factions, and engage in building structures, destroying spirit beings, leveling up, learning new action skills, slaying enemy mages, etc.  There was some semblance of a skill build in the game to boot.  Casting spells was easy to manage one-handed. You essentially draw the shape corresponding to the specific spell. So you can imagine my amusement when I found out that I can interact and play this game easily.  I picked the Architect side out of the two factions available primarily because the other faction was the top choice of the two and seemed like the good guys. I thought I picked the evil faction. But there's hardly any difference between the two other than picking a side and picking green or yellow/orange as a color.  This was an iPhone game and had no iPad version.  It ran decently enough on iPad.  So when I was out, I would play the game on my iPhone.  When I was at home, I'd fire the game up on my iPad instead.

The game's world took place in a virtual replica of your actual geographical location. Since I live in Makati, my home base in the game was in Makati. I found it amusing that my Mage could astral project (essentially warp) to other friend mages around the world. So from the comfort of my own home, I have travelled to the US, France, Japan, South Africa, etc.  All the street names and locations were all Google maps accurate. I also found it amusing that my mage's starting location when I log into the game, would be relative to where I am in real life. So if I was in Mall of Asia, for example, my mage would start in the Mall of Asia area in the game when I log in.

The game even had raids.  The game had normal spirits (esentially mobs) of different house/types and sizes (amount of HP). The raids came in the form of these huge spider looking spirits that required at least 20-30 mages to kill.  The spiders were essentially the largest form of those spirits and were regarded as bosses in the game. There was no way you could down a spider on your own. So you really had to make friends with other players of your faction.  When a spider gets taken down, a random 1 or 2 mages that participated gets a spider token.  When you earn enough tokens, you get to unlock spider sigils to change the look of your mage in ingame chat.  Not a big deal cosmetic wise at all.  But it was valued by all players in the game.  The rest of the mages that were not awarded spider tokens get experience for the spider kill.

The game also facilitates wars between mages of the two factions. Enemy mages that are located near you can prove troublesome as they can start attacking you and your structures on their own or en-masse with 50++ enemy mages. So you have to call for help with your comrade mages when a war in an area erupts. Killing enemy mages was quite satisfying to say the least.

Even when my hand already recovered, I continued to play the game until my mage reached max level (Level 22).  I invested so much time in the game, that I felt I needed to keep playing until I hit the endgame.  It felt good to hit max level just like how it would feel like in any MMO or action RPG that I've played.

The game was waning in terms of revenue for the developer for quite some time before I started playing the game. I was sad to learn that the developer made the decision to close the game down. The game closed down back September of this year based from the comments of the Facebook fan page.

I'll get into the Walking Dead game on iOS after the jump.

Monday, December 9, 2013

My Radial Nerve Palsy Experience Part 2

Continuing from my first post regarding my Radial Nerve Palsy hand injury last year. This post will tackle my initial reaction and difficulties given the lack of motor control of my right hand.

All of a sudden, everything I did at home was extremely difficult.

Like the title above states, everything that I needed or wanted to do at home was extremely difficult. I was right handed. So you can imagine how hard it was for me to try to do even the simplest of tasks without the use of my right hand. Using a mouse and keyboard on my PC all of a sudden proved for be a challenge. I couldn't press down on the mouse buttons with my right hand, let alone move the mouse to navigate the mouse cursor onscreen. I tried to train myself to use the mouse with my left hand. I initially was only typing at a very sluggish pace with my left hand.

Washing the dishes was close to impossible. My initial attempts to wash the dishes resulted in dropping quite a few plates and glasses. Good thing my plates were plastic. But my glasses unfortunately weren't. Dropping a fork on my foot was funny. Dropping a knife on my foot wasn't as amusing.

Dressing up was a long frustrating process. I would often get stuck with a shirt halfway over my head. Putting on pants with one hand was a struggle in its own right.

Don't even ask about cooking at home. That was just plainly impossible and I burned myself a few times by just trying to fry. I also stopped attempting to cook altogether just to avoid having to toil with washing the dishes after.

Gaming was dead.

I am both a PC and video game console gamer. And given my hand injury, I essentially couldn't play any game on a PC or console. My inability to use a keyboard/mouse with my right hand screamed I couldn't play any games that required quick actions. There was no way to use a PS3 controller one-handed either. I couldn't use games as a means of escape to deal with life anymore. And that was very saddening for me.

Gigs were dead. Music became less of a source of happiness.

I am a percussionist in several bands in the local scene. Full use of both your hands is important regardless of what instrument you play. It was sad to explain my condition to all my bandmates. Missing gigs was heart breaking. My bandmates would invite me to watch the gigs even though I couldn't join them onstage. But most of the time, I opted not to watch because it would just make me even more sad than I already was. I did watch one of my bands' gigs once (Jack Versus the Crab). But when my bandmates started playing onstage, my eyes started tearing. I couldn't really bare to go through that again.

The weeks prior to my right hand getting injured, I was gearing up to have my first solo handpan gig. I wrote a few handpan compositions by then and have been practicing. But unfortunately, even that had to be shelved. So my debut as the first and only handpan player for the Philippines wasn't going to happen any time soon. I wanted to be the first. And given that I had no idea if and when my right hand was going to recover. I started to see that dream of mine slipping away.

I would play my congas, bongos, or even my handpans when I was down. The inability to do so during my hand injury period was especially heart-breaking. There were countless situations where I attempted to use my right hand, only to fail miserably. At times, even wounded or bruised myself in the attempt. Many nights were spent crying myself to sleep. I realize that my reaction is essentially like a whining baby. I knew that there are many people in the world that have a permanent disability and have learnt to live around it. I was knew at being disabled (albeit temporary disability). My apologies to anyone who feels insulted with my rather immature reaction back then.

However, I did try to find ways to work around the difficulties. Most centered around forcing myself to use to my left hand more. It felt akward. But it's not like I had a choice. I researched on the net how to do simple things like how to put on a shirt or wash the dishes one-handed. But the most prominent and useful tool I used was my iPad.

My iPad saved me at work.

At the time, I was the Director of Operations for a company called RenditionDigital. After taking some time off and realizing that I wasn't going to recovery from my injury any time soon, I had go back to work. I was lucky that I had a managerial job. Even though I couldn't use my laptop to work, I used my iPad to work instead. I managed to do all my work emails through my iPad. My right hand was usually in a brace. And it was easier to poke at a touchscreen with both hands compared to typing on a keyboard. It proved quite a challenge to work on Excel spreadsheets on my iPad. But I managed somehow. I would have to pull out my laptop at times anyway when editing spreadsheets proved far too difficult on my iPad. But generally, I was able to do my work just fine.

My physical therapy sessions we're scheduled in the morning and I would walk to the office from Makati Med right after. So there was at least an equilibrium reached between my medical needs and work.

My iPad saved me at home.

I started looking for apps that would help me still use my PC a little easier than toiling with my mouse and keyboard with my left hand. I found an app on the AppStore called WifiRemoteHD. This allowed me to control my PC from my iPad. Essentially giving my PC touchscreen functionality. The app was not all that pretty by any standard. But it did was it was suppose to do. And I was happy with that. It even had remote controls for certain media players like VLC. So I could at least watch anime, TV series, or movies that I've downloaded without having to get up and use my mouse.

There were iOS app equivalents of all the SNS sites I frequent. So at least I could check Facebook or post a tweet from my iPad, no problem. Slow. But at least I could. I also had all the same apps on my iPhone as well. So I was able to function decently enough just wielding my iPhone and iPad.

Gaming and music eventually also remained as a sources of happiness because of my iPad as well. I will get into that on the next blog post.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bali Steel Pan Diary #7: Dawn on the Horizon

I posted this back in November on my YouTube channel.

I've been in a creative drought the past few months due to suddenly getting retrenched from my previous company. This marked the first time in my career that I have been unemployed. So my apologies, if any of you feel that I have over-reacted to it. It was a new life experience for me and a major eye-opener. This is one of the few handpan compositions that I did manage to write. I wrote this one as a way for me to carry my heavy heart and paranoia through to a new chapter in my life. I recently just signed on with a new company and will start work there next month.

Given all the tragic death and destruction that Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) has brought to my fellow countrymen in the Visayas region. I picked this particular composition to share with all of you. The first time I ever played this particular composition was last Thursday at a benefit gig for typhoon victims at the Keg, Fort Strip. I made a personal video of this composition in dedication of the strength and resilience of all the Filipinos affected by the typhoon.

The handpan that I am using is a Bali Steel Pan Minor Pentatonic - (F) Bb C# Eb F G# Bb C# Eb.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My Radial Nerve Palsy Experience Part 1

It's been a year since my hand injury. And unfortunately I'm plagued with yet another medical condition. But before I get into my current health situation, I want to put into writing some of my experiences with my hand injury last year.

The clinical term for my hand injury is "Radial Nerve Palsy" or "Wrist Drop". It's apparently also amusingly called "Saturday Night Palsy" and "Lover's Palsy". The former being the most apt description of what happened that resulted in my hand injury. Below is a link to the condition's definition in Wikipedia.

I came home after a night of heavy drinking and debauchery with some friends on a Saturday night/Sunday morning. I got home real late. The sun was probably going to appear in about an hour from then. When I woke up it was Sunday afternoon.

My right hand was rather numb and I couldn't move it, let alone use it. I was still largely hungover. So I figured I must've slept on my right hand and constricted blood flow. So I went back to sleep for a few more hours thinking that once the blood flow resumed that my hand would be fine. When I woke up from my nap, I still couldn't move my right hand. I started to worry. I took a shower and got dressed. I then headed to the emergency room of Makati Med. The medical personnel the left me waiting for about an hour or so. When they finally got around to me, they brought me to a section of the ER and made me wait even longer. I have never been all that impressed with Makati Med. But it was the closest hospital from my place. So I didn't really HV a choice. After being examined by several personnel and had x-rays taken of my right hand and arm, the 3-4 hour hospital experience resulted in identifying what was wrong with me. Radial Nerve Palsy.

How it actually happened was a bit hazy to me. But over the days and weeks, I realized that I was on my PC when I got home drunk. I stayed there for quite a while and fell asleep on my PC chair with my right arm slung over the back rest of the chair. Since I was heavily intoxicated, I didn't feel the strain it was putting on my arm for hours. This therefore caused the nerves on the upper section of my right arm to be compressed. This essentially cut most, if not all motor control of my right hand and wrist.

This began what was to be a 4-5 month ordeal of essentially having a gimp right hand. I consulted a number of doctors only to be referred to another doctor (Makati Med at its finest). I took numerous tests involving electrocuting my arm and neck, shoving me inside a MRI machine while injecting painful dye into my blood stream, etc. Eventually a Neurologist recommended that I undergo occupational therapy. For the purposes of this post, I'll just refer to it as physical therapy or PT since they're quite similar. This was the breakthrough recommendation towards my recovery. But sadly, this only came about after over a month of getting bounced around between doctors in Makati Med and given what was really only vitamin B complex as prescription medicine.

I had physical therapy 3 times a week for 3-4 months. I hated the annoyingly tedious way to file for HMO claims. My company's HMO was a new player in the HMO industry. I figured they would give me a hard time with my medical claims. And in the end, I still have to pay for a good portion of it myself. So I decided to suck it up and pay for all my medical expense myself. I consider myself fortunate to be able to earn money that can pay for all my medical costs. I don't think many can afford to spend as much money as I did for my hand injury recovery.

I will insert a little music related trivia about Radial Nerve Palsy. Dave Mustaine of a metal band called Megadeth apparently came down with Radial Nerve Palsy over a year prior to my injury. What from what I read, he passed out drunk on a bench with his arm slung over the back rest. So he sustained his hand injury in a similar fashion as I did. He was told by doctors that he may never fully recover. But being a high profile musician, he refused to accept it. Over the course of 4 months, he consulted several doctors from different fields.  He underwent many treatments simultaneously, from physical therapy to acupuncture. I was encouraged with my situation when I read about Dave Mustaine's experience. But at the same time, Dave Mustaine is a rich man. I couldn't pour nowhere near as much time and money as he did into his recovery. Okay, going back to my own situation.

Physical therapy felt demeaning at first. The therapy sessions consisted largely of doing these simple motor control games with blocks, pins, etc. I felt like a pre-schooler doing them. But I knew it was necessary if I ever hope to recover motor control of my right hand. One of the few non-childlike activities was to electrocute my hand to force hand muscles to move. Most, if not all, of the other patients there were all elderly. The other patients found me amusing because I was much younger than them. They were all wondering why I was there. I was a bit embarrassed to admit that my injury was a result of heavy drinking, especially when the other patients were there due to car accidents or strokes. They seemed to grow quite fond of me and found it amusing to tease me with one of the female therapists that was attending to my case.

I showed virtually no recovery progress for a month. Even the therapists working on my case were worried that I wasn't even showing signs of slight recovery. Back then, I knew that this would be a long and arduous recovery process. And a part of me was already thinking that I may never recovery at all.

I started to feel hopeful when the therapist was telling me to stop wearing my wrist brace.  This was on the 4th month of my injury. I felt uneasy at first when I remove my wrist brace. I wore that wrist brace all the time, even when I'm sleeping. I suppose I got so reliant on the wrist brace to support my hand. I eventually was able to play bongos and congas. Albeit, my right hand would feel fatigue very easily.

I eventually did recover from my hand injury. Again, it was a 4-5 month arduous process. Admittedly my right hand's motor control isn't quite the same compared to how it was prior to the injury. But I'm just glad to be able to use my right hand again.

So that was my long and overly verbose post about the medical side of my Radial Nerve Palsy experience. What I wanted to blog about is what was happening to me during those 4-5 months aside from the medical aspects. And how I managed to cope with my temporary disability. That will be on my next posts.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington

I realize these performances happened some time ago.  But I've only recently stumbled across them on YouTube.  It was a pleasant surprise to find Chris Cornell (Soundgarden, Audioslave) and Chester Bennington (Linkin Park, Dead by Sunrise) perform in each other's concerts.  I suppose they became good friends at some point. Pardon my naiveness for only realizing this recently.  Below are two videos where these two performed at each other's shows.

Admittedly, I'm a fan of Linkin Park, particularly their first album stuff.  Not such a huge fan of Mike Shinoda's rapping.  But it isn't bad either.  Chester's vocals, however, is something else.  And I like the heavy riffs in their songs.

I'm guessing this is Chris Cornell's solo concert tour prior to Soundgarden getting back together.  The song is from an old band of his back in the early grunge era called Temple of the Dog.  Temple of the Dog had members of both Pearl Jam and Soundgarden in it before those two bands even released albums.  Kind of a super band of sorts.

I've been neglecting this blog for quite some time now.  This short blog post will suffice for now.  I will make an effort to give this blog some love in the coming days/weeks.  I'm already in the process of writing a rather lengthy one.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

PANArt Gubal

I got my "Hang Sound Sculpture" book from PANArt the other day.  Apparently even a book has to be picked up at the post office and checked by customs when it's sent through regular mail.  I bought the book because I've been so curious about PANArt's new steel resonance medium called the Gubal.  It's supposed to be the next level of evolution from their Free Integral Hang.

I haven't read much into the book yet.  But so far it's just a story telling of their journey towards the Hang and eventually to the Gubal, rather than specific instructions about how to create similar steel instruments.  That's perfectly fine for me since I have no idea how to fashion steel in any shape or form, much less produce something that resonates notes.  I'd like to go to the beach one of these days and spend an entire afternoon just reading the book.  I actually don't even read much.  But the idea of just reading a book about PANArt's journey at a slow pace amongst the water and sand seems very appealing to me at the moment.

The book comes with an audio samples CD of what the Gubal sounds like.  I've listened to it and the Gubal does sound fantastic.  Ironically, I bought the book so I can read and listen to the Gubal since there was no information online about it.  Days before I got my book, PANArt releases a video of them playing the Gubal.  It was quite a facepalm moment. But I think the book would serve as good reading anyway. They uploaded the video to Vimeo.  But someone uploaded it to YouTube as well.  The YouTube video is below.

The first news about the Gubal was a blog post by one of the participants of the Hang's 20th year anniversary celebration.  As far as I know, the Hang has only been in existence for 10+ years.  But I suppose PANArt counts the years towards the development of the Hang in those 20 years.  The blog post was about a small celebration held by PANArt for the few people who have supported them through the years.  The blog post describes the Gubal as having a rounder bottom that you can spin like a top.  And the sound hole moved from the bottom half of the shell to the top half, replacing the central ding.  I could see what it would look like in my imagination.  When I watched the video, I got a kick out of the fact that the Gubal is exactly how my mind pictured it to be.

There is no news so far on how PANArt will distribute the Gubal and if they will be continuing to produce the Free Intergral Hang.  I sent PANArt a letter a few years back requesting for a Hang.  I got rejected because I presented myself as a musician in the letter.  I was saddened by it.  Once I get news of PANArt opening a crack to their door to let people of the world attempt to get a Hang or a Gubal, I will make sure to be one of the first to send in my request letter.

Here's to hoping for a chance to play a Hang or a Gubal.  This sounds clichet.  But being able to do so would make my life complete, and would open me up to further steel resonance self-expression.


Friday, June 28, 2013

Bali Steel Pan Diary #6: Restless Obscurity

I normally just treat each home recorded handpan video I upload to YouTube like a blog post.  But this time I decided to mirror it here.  So don't be surprised if the video's description on YouTube is the same as this blog post.

I wrote this particular composition as an outlet for the state of limbo that my head has been in lately.  That feeling where you don't really know what you feel.  I'm restless about something unknown.  Although, there is absolutely nothing plaguing me in my life.  I am lucky in my current life situation; luckier than most.  And again there is nothing going wrong at the moment. But why do I feel like there's something missing.

The handpan I used here is a Bali Steel Pan handpan. The sound model is a Minor Pentatonic: (F) Bb C# Eb F G# Bb C# Eb


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bali Steel Handpan Review

This was actually a response to a fellow member of a handpan community forum. He was excited yet apprehensive about acquiring a handpan from Bali Steel. Other forum members responded with their feedback about this particular handpan variant. But I felt I needed to give a longer review for the guy to consider. Here is my forum post response.

I have two Bali Steel handpans (Minor Pentatonic and D Minor). And I love them both. I do have some gripes.

Size - It's one of the larger handpans out there. So playing it on your lap while sitting on a chair feels a little unstable, like it might fall off. But this could just be because I'm not a very big person to begin with. Hehehe. Each Bali Steel handpan isn't exact in their dimensions. The maker says they're all the same size. But I've noticed that my D Minor is flatter compared to my Minor Pentatonic. Not a big deal really. But there is a slight difference.

Central Ding is Fragile - Stuff like ding-bending isn't advisable to do on a Bali Steel handpan. The ding has been known to detune itself if you do any ding-bending on it. I've seen 1-2 videos on YouTube where Bali Steel owners showed how their ding has detuned. The ding is sturdy enough, in my opinion. But I certainly won't try ding-bending.

Tuning - Tuning seems correct on both my Bali Steels. I've checked them against several electronic and analog tuners. Although, there's always at least one note on each handpan that "warbles". The note is correct. But there's an oscillating sound that is more prominent when you strike those particular notes simultaneously with others.

Those three things are about the only thing I can say about my Bali Steel handpans. I am very happy with both. Some of the bigger selling posts of Bali Steel handpans are as follows:

Handpan Texture Finish - I love the "teflon"-like finish. The coating doesn't require you to maintain the handpans compared to other handpans where they encourage you to regularly oil and wipe down their handpans at least once a month. The downside of the finish is it will scratch off if you're not careful. So I suggest you have a custom bag made to avoid unnecessary bumps or scratches.

Geographical Location of Maker - I live in Manila, Philippines. I probably have even lesser access to Hangs and handpans than most of you. Aside from all the long wait lists and expensive purchase costs, the additional shipping and customs fees make it harder for me to obtain handpans. Bali Steel is probably the closest to me geographically. They are such a joy to deal with (Thank you Chris!). They are very responsive to inquiries and requests when you email them.

Intrinsic Asian Tone - Regardless of what scale you choose from Bali Steel, their handpans intrinsically have an Asian feel to the tone of the notes. I picked Minor Pentatonic and D Minor specifically because those are Western scales that I can integrate into my bands. But my Bali Steels still sound uniquely Asian to people. I think this is coming from the fact that Bali Steel was primarily a Gamelan/Ganza maker. And their experience in working with steel from that translated into the sound of their handpans.

Hope this helps make you feel better about your Bali Steel purchase. Do tells us all about your adventures with yours. I would love to hear them.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

May 2013 = Concert Month

The month of May was filled with good acts coming to Manila to do concerts.  Given how rarely good bands come to the Philippine these days, I didn't want to miss out on all the good music.  In one month, I watched Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, Aerosmith, and Jason Mraz (full band setup).  It was an expensive month to say the least because good seats for most of those concerts came at a premium.

Below are a few pictures and videos I took from each of the concerts.  I uploaded more videos from the concerts more than what I've embedded on this post.  Just look through my YouTube channel for more videos from those concerts.

Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators
(SMART Araneta Coliseum)

Slash - Sweet Child O' Mine

Slash - Welcome to the Jungle

I actually think the bassist was a better vocalist than Myles Kennedy.  He had all the glam clichet moves down pat.  Right down to the short grunt he made at the end of Welcome to the Jungle.  Amusingly entertaining.

Slash - Paradise City

Generally, I would still rather watch these Guns 'n Roses songs with the original line-up.  But it seems whatever it is between Axl and Slash is irreparable.  Still fun to watch Slash do exactly the same guitar parts for songs that I love for years.  And his band seemed very tight.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Lobby security guard buzzes my intercom.

Guard: Ser rupus.
Me: What?
Guard: Rupus ser.
Me: Oh, Rufo's....




Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Best in You

I never really got around to blogging about this particular gig last year.  I will probably chronicle the events of that day/night in detail in a separate post later on.  I'll just put in a short description here for now.

I brought one of my bands, Jack Versus The Crab, to play at my sister Jo's wedding last year.  Paid a lump sum of money to bring in the sound system and lights for even Vince's side of the family to partake in with their own music.  I played my heart out that night in front of family that have never seen me play before (especially at 10:10 in the video below).  This was one of those rare moments where you bring out the best in you. And you share it with the few people you truly love.  I felt appreciated.  I felt loved.  I felt alive.  I was happy.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

My Handpan Videos Featured in Hardcase Technologies YouTube Channel

I came across a YouTube channel by Hardcase Technologies.  They specialize in making hard cases for musical instruments particularly for handpans and DJ equipment.  Their handpan polybag case is amazing actually.  It's the first ever bag/case I've seen that is actually sturdy enough for airplane travel.  I may consider getting one or two for my Bali Steel hanpans some day.

While I was looking through their YouTube channel, I noticed that they made playlists for each of the different handpan types; from PanArt Hang to even my particular handpans, Bali Steel.  I was surprised and flattered to see that two of my handpan videos were in their Bali Steel playlist.  Below are screenshots showing that my handpan videos made their way into the Hardcase Technologies YouTube channel. I included the link to specific playlist as well.

Obviously, I'm no ensorsers of their products.  Nor am I even qualified in terms of skill and popularity to be one.  It was just pleasant to find out that yet another person felt some of my handpan videos were a good example of what Bali Steel handpans sound like.  I embedded the two handpan videos here that Hardcase Technologies put in their channel.

/ear to ear smile


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Spacedrum Handpan Order

On a whim, I decided to order a 13 note Spacedrum handpan online. It's much pricier than my Bali Steel handpans. But since I didn't win the Batch 3 lottery for a Pantheon Steel Halo, I figured Spacedrum was the way to go.

I've been a little frustrated at the fact that both my Bali Steel handpans combined didn't cover all notes in a chromatic scale.  So if I wanted to play a song that I like, most of the time I couldn't. I'd be missing some notes that won't allow me to at least play the root notes of the chords of a song.  Most handpans have 8-9 notes with a central ding (like my Bali Steel handpans). Each handpan has a different key and scale.  This particular Spacedrum handpan I ordered covers a full chromatic scale from C4 to C5. So it has all the notes I would need.

Below are pictures of the Spacedrum I ordered.  (Pictures were taken from the Spacedrum maker's website.)  I included videos from others who already have this particular handpan.

The site says they have a 6-8 month wait list. But at least I know I will get the handpan for sure. I can't wait to get my hands on it. You will be mine. Oh yezzzz, you will be mine.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Handpan Composition Reaches Russia

I was just looking through analytics data of one of my handpan videos.  And I was surprised to find out that someone embedded my video on a Russian handpan site.  Apparently, some guy who re-sells Bali Steel handpans used my video as an example of what those particular handpans sound like.  Below are the URLs and screenshots of one of the pages where my video was used.

I don't claim to be a skilled handpan player.  I am also not a popular handpan player on the net (as shown by the minuscule view count of the video).  But I suppose having some random person use my video to sell Bali Steel handpans in Russia is a compliment nonetheless.  There are tons of Bali Steel handpan videos on YouTube.  And for this guy to find his way to my video seems close to impossible.  You also have to wonder how available the Russian handpan Spb is over in Russia if acquiring a Bali Steel handpan is a viable option.

If you're curious about the actual video in question, here is the video below.  I wrote the composition a few weeks after my physical medicine doctor graduated me from physical therapy of my right hand (Radial Nerve Palsy for 4+ months).  So the video below signifies my return to music.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Valentine's Day at the Keg

In the past, I normally celebrate my birthday for consecutive days or even every weekend of February.  But this year was different.  My birthday came and went the day before Valentine's Day.  I was just coming out of a long recovery from my Radial Nerve Palsy injury on my right hand.  So for months, I've been physically deprived of gigging with my bands.  And I've been generally avoiding going out to drink as well.

February 13 has been globally dubbed as as "Desperation Day".  But my perspective has been limited to getting back my right hand's functionality. I wasn't really celebrating my birthday much, nor was I worried that I didn't have a date on Valentine's.

I joined my bandmates Gigo and JR at the Keg to enjoy their acoustic solo sets on Valentine's Day.  I was equally excited to watch the sultry Ansyl Yap perform.  Unfortunately, she fell ill on the day and wasn't able to make it.  I normally play percs for Gigo's solo acoustic sets.  But my right hand didn't have the endurance for a full set with Gigo at the time.  I will make it up to him soon now that my hand is nearly full recovered.  Below is a video of one of the cover songs he played that night.

Akin Ka Na Lang (Cover)

Gigo and Rodney, who manage the entertainment of the Keg, were gracious enough to allow me to play some of my original handpan compositions.  There are a lot of firsts for me with this particular gig.

First time gigging in 3-4 months.
First time gigging with my handpans.
First time gigging solo.

The culmination of all those firsts made me rather nervous for my handpan set.  I took a hefty swig from my Jack Coke glass right before I set up my handpans.  Below are videos of my entire handpan set.  Very short set because that's about all my right hand could handle at the time.

And Then There Were Two

Battlerstar Thoughts

David Kuckhermann Cover

I made mistakes here and there while playing.  But it was all part of the experience.  I appreciated the support that people gave me during my set.  I haven't been nervous about playing anything in front of people for a very long time.  And this time, I didn't have a full band to play with.  It was just all me.  My sister, Jo, and my bandmate JR, were the most supportive that night.  You'll notice them cheering and shouting in the background of the videos above.

After my handpan set, JR joked that he couldn't possibly perform right after my set.  I knew he was just kidding.  But I appreciate the gesture of praising my set in that manner.  Below is a video of one of the songs that JR covered that night.

Turn Your Lights Down Low (Cover)

My birthday/Valentine's celebration was not glitzy compared to years past.  But somehow I had a smile on my face by the end of the night at the Keg.  I was amongst family and friends who knew what I've been going through the past months.  They were just happy to see me finally return to music, with my handpans at that.

So cheers to coming out after a long hand injury recovery as the first handpan player in this Philippines.  At least I can definitively say that now.  I sincerely hope people who were there that night liked my handpan set.  Whether or not I perform solo with my handpans again is yet to be determined.  We shall see in the weeks and months ahead.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mouse on the Keys Live in Manila

A friend of mine introduced me to this particular band's music about a year ago.  He highlighted that it's a 3-piece Japanese band that's purely instrumental.  When I first heard the band's music on YouTube, I was blown away at how these guys were considering there was no guitarist or bassist.  The two keyboardist and drummer ensemble was more than enough to fill their musical soundscape and come up with a niche tone uniquely their own.  So you can imagine my surprise when I first found out that "Mouse on the Keys" was slated to perform in Manila by December 12, 2012 at B-Side, Makati.

I was supposed to go with my good friend Mari.  But he bailed a few days prior to the gig.  So I asked my friend Joseph to join me instead.  I just wanted a friend to come with me.  Oddly, I feel weird venturing off alone these days.  Bringing Joseph along proved to be fruitful to say the least.

That awesome gig night, I was oggling some of the Mouse on the Keys CDs and tour shirts that a friend of the band brought along with him from Japan to sell.  But the guy was still setting up and calculating what the equivalent Philippine peso prices for all the items should be.  So I didn't get to buy anything prior to the band's set.

Below are videos of some of Mouse of the Keys' songs that night.  These videos don't really top being there in person.  Listening and feeling this band's music is really something else.


The band is normally a three-piece band.  But for that gig, they brought along a saxophonist to jam along with them.  It gave the band's music a more melodic feel.

Saigo no Bansan

This song above is actually my favorite Mouse on the Keys song ever since I first heard their music on YouTube.  It was such an eargasmic treat to finally hear the song live.

A Sad Little Town

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sting "Back to Bass" Tour Live in Manila

It's been quite a while since I last blogged.  I've been dealing with radial nerve palsy (wrist drop) on my right hand.  So music these past 2 to 3 months hasn't been as primary of a source of happiness for me.  I'm slowly recovering but I'm not out of the woods yet with my condition.  But I'll get into my ordeal in a separate blog post.

Even though I haven't been gigging with my 3 bands. I still manage to enjoy music once in a while. One of those musical highlights is watching Sting's concert back in December 19, 2012. A lot of people I know have been excitedly waiting for this concert for months. It's been eons since Sting last came to Manila to perform. So you can imagine the kind of collective clamor people had for this concert.

There was some hoopla weeks prior to the concert about would-be activists who pleaded directly to Sting's management regarding SM Mall of Asia Arena as the concert venue. Their cries of protest got through to Sting resulting in an immediate cancellation of the concert. I was seriously wallowing in my own personal uproar when I first heard of the cancellation. Frankly speaking, whether Sting had his concert in a SM establishment or not, that doesn't prevent SM from doing further activities that will hurt the environment. The plea should really be directed to the government that allowed SM to engage in tree cutting activities rather than musicians utilizing a concert venue.  That cancellation turned into a change of venue days after. Smart Araneta Coliseum is an adequate concert venue.  But the sheer hassle of the ticket exchange was what nabbed me.  Luckily my SunDownMuse bandmate, Briggs, was kind enough to get our tickets exchanged to equivalent seats in the new venue.  So after briefly disappointing thousands of people, what was the end result of all that hoopla; absolutely nothing.  I admire the motivations behind the plea.  They are rightly placed as a fellow tree-hugger.  But that really wasn't the right method to effectively make a change for the environment.

A few weeks passed, and all the hoopla earlier on didn't really matter.  I was excited for the concert given the lack of personally performing at gigs.  Surprisingly, the opening act was Aiza Segeurra; the child star turned acoustic musician.  I'm not taking anything away from Aiza's musical talent.  However, this was the very opportunity to show Sting and crew how talented Filipinos are in music.  It came off as a disappointment to me that she mostly played covers.  But in the end, it didn't matter.  Regardless of what I thought about her performance, she can brag for the rest of her life that she opened for Sting.  No one can really take that away from her.  Lucky girl.

After Aiza played her set, Sting and his band came on stage.  The crowd instantly stood up from their seats and cheered loudly.  Below are some videos I took from that night.

Englishman in New York

This is one of many Sting songs that I love.  But this particular song is one of the songs that my band J.O.E. (JR Oca Experience) loves covering.  We play it in almost every gig.

Seven Days

Seven Days was one of the songs where Sting's drummer Vinnie really showed his stuff.  I'm sure all musicians who were watching agree with me on this one.

Fields of Gold