Bloc Party Live in Manila: the concert experience everything else will be measured against

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Last March 22 finally saw Bloc Party playing a concert in Manila: the culmination of years of wishing, hoping, and crazy dreaming of even going abroad just to see them play. I was introduced to this band back in 2007 (they’d already come out with “Silent Alarm” and “A Weekend in the City”) and they’ve been a favorite of mine ever since. Considering that “Banquet” is the only song of theirs I’ve heard on mainstream radio, I didn’t hold out much hope that they’d ever come here and play. You can only imagine the happy dance that went on once it was confirmed that they’d be playing here. I planned my March days off by late December to make sure I’d be able to watch it.

The concert was supposed to start at 8pm, with the gates opening at 6:30. Adrian wanted to be there by 5pm and I’d join him by 6. I hitched with Danes and her sister going to World Trade Center but despite our best efforts, we ended up getting there by 7pm due to traffic and someone who arrived late. Adrian also got there by 7:15 because of last-minute work issues. It turned out okay though because there were very few people already inside the venue. It was shocking, really. Adrian’s bandmate Dax had saved us a spot near the barricade up front. Our spot: the barricade, the first line of people, then us. WOW.

Up Dharma Down opened the show at around 8:20pm – almost on time! They played five songs off their latest album “Capacities”, an album I need to listen to more often. Yikes. After their set came another 45 minutes to an hour of waiting (and enduring hurting feet) for Bloc Party to finally play. The good news? THEY WERE WORTH THE WAIT.

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Words to describe the show: Frenetic. Loud. Breathtaking. Exhausting. Moshpit-starting. Sweat-inducing. My god, what a GLORIOUS CONCERT. Continue reading “Bloc Party Live in Manila: the concert experience everything else will be measured against”

My long absence and Christmas Eve on the island

My long absence from this blog is due to my graduate thesis. It’s all my thesis’ fault! I took 2.5 months off work so that I could work on it full-time in Manila. Unfortunately, those 2.5 months were not enough as my adviser had me do more analysis work to get the results we wanted. Even more unfortunately, I really had to go back to work this December (before Christmas!) because I work for a resort and Christmas-New Year’s is our busiest time of the year. Good luck if I can finish my thesis now.

Anyway, here are some photos from our little island celebration. These photos are the result of weeks to months of prep work, including turning our conference room into Santa’s workshop. This post is all about the finished product. I’ll post the behind-the-scenes photos afterwards 🙂

The belen (Nativity scene) made by the guides. Simple but effective.
The belen (Nativity scene) made by the guides. Simple but effective.

Meet Manila’s launch: a tertulia under the stars

Despite the power outage and the slight drizzle, Meet Manila’s launch party entitled “A Tertulia Night” held last May 23 in Adarna Food and Culture Restaurant was a success and definitely something that I was glad to attend.

What is Meet Manila? From their website:

It is a non-profit informational site whose core focus is to promote Philippine tourism through social media, encouraging the creativity of the Filipinos in sharing Filipino culture and Philippine tourism expressed through blogs, photos, tweets, and Facebook posts.

Meet Manila aims to cultivate online community participation and interaction through shared content, in promotion of Philippine tourism. Serving as a response to the surge of travel interest by social media users, the portal will provide a centralized portal featuring the best of Philippine travel through aggregated user reviews. In effect, this will propagate a culture of thoughtful and responsible tourism that encourages pure appreciation of the Philippines’ authenticity in culture and natural resources.

“A Tertulia Night” served to officially launch Meet Manila and to introduce their Heroes for #ThoughtfulTourism.

I arrived slightly late due to wanting to finish my latest book review before leaving the house. When I got to Adarna, I found out that there was no power because of a blown transformer just outside the restaurant. Dinner would be by candlelight instead. The blackout wasn’t so bad once I spotted Tita Susan Arcega (who was there as Lito Perez’ publicist) and she invited me to sit at their table. Within the 15 minutes, I’d gotten acquainted with Eric from Boracay Mandarin, Nix and Nikki from Save Philippine Seas, and food blogger Apple.

The event kicked off with dinner by Chef Giney Villar of Adarna Food and Culture, a restaurant specializing in Filipino cuisine. We were treated to caldereta, adobo, and chicken relyeno. I couldn’t see how pretty the food looked because of the dim light but it sure was delicious.

Ivan Henares during his talk

Once our bellies were full and we’d made new friends with out table-mates, a bugtungan (riddle game) emceed by Vince of Mellow 94.7 and Ysobel of Meet Manila served to break the remaining ice. Tita Susan answered one and was recruited to read another. Unfortunately, I’ve never been good with riddle games so I just watched and cheered from the sidelines.

After the bugtungan came the short introduction to Meet Manila and the featured speaker, Ivan Henares. He spoke on preserving heritage houses. I had to move closer to the staging area to hear him but I didn’t mind. He focused on the troubles facing historical houses around the country – neglect, vandalism, and demolition – and what we can do to preserve them. After all, people come from all over to visit Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral and Thailand’s temples. Aside from preserving our cultural heritage, our historical houses could become another draw for both domestic and international tourists. Case study for success: Vigan.

After Mr. Henares were the talks from the Heroes for #ThoughtfulTourism. They are:

  • Carlos Celdran of Walk This Way
  • Chairell Winston Almendras of Batang Yagit
  • Loren Legarda of Luntiang Pilipinas
  • Melissa and Francesa Villa-Mateo of Project Pearls
  • Jay Jaboneta of Yellow Boats Foundation
  • Antonio Ingles of Aral Pinoy
  • Anna Oposa of Save Philippine Seas
  • Niccolo Cosme of Project Headshot Philippines
  • Elizabeth Angsioco of Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines
  • Jayvee Fernandez for Diving in the Philippines
  • Lynn Pinugu of Mano Amiga Pilipinas
  • Froilan Grate of Mother Earth Foundation
  • Imee Marcos of Ilocos Norte
  • Lito Perez for Filipino Heritage and Fashion
Lito Perez while talking about his work with heritage houses

While they all deserved their moment in the spotlight for their contributions to Thoughtful Tourism, my own personal biases towards environmental efforts and because I’ve stayed in Villa Tortuga, one of the places that Lito Perez has restored, led me to pay just a little more attention to Anna Oposa, Lito Perez, and Jayvee Fernandez.  I appreciated hearing their thoughts on how the online community and social media could be used to promote advocacies and build connections. Unfortunately, Carlo Celdran arrived much later because he got stuck in traffic.

The night ended with the awarding of the Empowered Travelers: travelers selected by Meet Manila and the sponsors to become ambassadors for Thoughtful Tourism. Congratulations to the three folks who were awarded that night!

(My nice surprise a few days later: I was chosen to be an Empowered Traveler too, along with Manyel! Apparently, they wanted to call all the Empowered Travelers to the front but with the power outage, they couldn’t round us all up in the dark. Haha. Thank you Meet Manila for this opportunity!)

Movies and music

The tickets

Aids and I were lucky enough to snag tickets to the opening night of Rakenrol in the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo in CCP last July 23. In fairness, Rakenrol merited a showing in the Main Theater 😀

Official description:

Odie and his best friend Irene are two outsiders who find a second home in the Philippine underground music scene. The two decide to form a band and put together an unlikely crew that consists of the school bully, an ex-punk-turned-barista, and a former-childstar-turned-band-manager. The film follows their misadventures as they face satanic S&M bands, samurai swindlers, narcissistic rockstars, the pretentious Philippine art community, and the freakiest music video auteur ever. Co-written by Diego Castillo, the guitarist of one of the Philippines’ biggest rock bands SANDWICH, and directed by multi-awarded music video director Quark Henares, “Rakenrol” is a heartfelt ode to the underground scene both filmmakers spent their formative years in. Continue reading “Movies and music”

How I turned into a (Monopoly) millionaire

(This blog entry was previously titled “Monopoly, Movies, and Music” but I decided to chop up the long entry into two shorter ones.)

This past Saturday was practically perfect: a fun afternoon playing card games with geeky friends and a comics run, followed by an entertaining movie and a loud concert.

My friend Nick invited a bunch of us to go to the Monopoly Deal tournament organized by MaDaMi Events and Creative Services and co-sponsored by Bo’s Coffee scheduled for July 23 in Robinsons Galleria. He, Beej, Jay-R, Mark, and Carlo went to Megamall leg last July 16 and had a blast. I already knew how the game worked courtesy of the deck my sister got for her birthday so I didn’t hesitate in accepting the invite.

Backgrounder on the game: You know how Monopoly works, right? To streamline the boardgame into a card game, the new objective is to complete three property sets (the properties with the same colors). The standard properties and their colors are still in effect (i.e. dark blue Boardwalk and Park Place are one property set, the four Railroads are another set, etc.) and you collect rent by playing a Rent card. There are special Action cards unique to this version of Monopoly that will make your life more difficult: i.e. Deal Breaker lets you steal a complete set from another player, Sly Deal lets you steal a property from another player, while Forced Deal lets you swap properties with another player. The full instructions are found here.

The tournament area. Hurrah for coffee! (Pay for your own coffee though 😛 In fairness, I liked their non-dairy Caramelo Froccino Primo.)
The prizes. A new Monopoly set! *drools* And lots of new card games and Bo's Coffee gift certificates too 😀

Continue reading “How I turned into a (Monopoly) millionaire”

Today during Toy Con 2011

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In fairness, I look pretty badass as Carol Ferris 😛

Much thanks to Jon for the jacket and helmet! 😀

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So much for secret identities 😛