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”

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!)

A kickass night with Death Cab for Cutie

I like Death Cab for Cutie. I really do. Ben Gibbard’s songs pack a wallop and lead to exclamations of “T*ngina THIS!!!” from listeners. That said, 1) I was only introduced to them five years ago, 2) their discography is not imprinted on my brain, and 3) while I love them, they are not my absolute favorite band of all time (but they are in the Top 5). However, I do appreciate great music and a great show and WOW Death Cab’s Manila concert gave those in spades.

Some random stuff first: the NBC Tent was the perfect venue for them in terms of capacity. There were only two sections – VIP and Gold – so even if you bought the less expensive Gold ticket, you still had a pretty good view of the stage. Also, while Death Cab is an amazing band, (unfortunately) I don’t think they would have been able to fill a larger venue (e.g. Araneta). Because of the small venue and the (relatively) fewer people, the concert felt like a larger club gig sans the alcohol.

Aids' birthday gift from me. He cried during the concert.

I don’t know how else to describe the concert except to say that it was an awesome show that was Worth Every Centavo of my hard-earned money and the pain in my feet. Goodness. The last time I danced and yelled this much during a concert was the Eraserheads reunion three years ago.

Ben Gibbard himself. Hey, he cut his hair!

Continue reading “A kickass night with Death Cab for Cutie”

Review: “Mamma Mia!” live in Manila!

First off, I’d like to thank Cebu Pacific Air for the tickets. I won two Balcony tickets via their Twitter contest some weeks ago. To my Twitter followers, I apologize for flooding your feed for 15 minutes in an attempt to win said tickets. I wouldn’t have been able to go otherwise.

Aids and I got to watch the opening night of “Mamma Mia!” in CCP last January 24. It was so much fun! Have I mentioned how much I love musicals? Because I do. I really, really do πŸ˜€ I’d already seen the movie with Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried but as with all movie musicals that started from the stage, it’s much better in its original format.

I loved the cast! I could feel their energy even way in the back. For the record, balcony seats in the CCP Main Theater aren’t that bad. Yes you’re high up but you can still see the actors’ faces and expressions. Their dancing was just superb. No better tribute to ABBA than a kickass dance number.

We noticed a little something about the singing though. Taken individually, the actors’ voices sounded a bit thin compared to our local singers. It was especially noticeable during “Dancing Queen” and “Chiquitita”. However, they sound absolutely amazing as an ensemble. Their voices blend well and nobody’s trying to outdo anybody. Contrast this with our local singers, who try to out-belt each other at every opportunity. Perhaps there’s something to be learned there.

My favorite part was the encore, where the entire cast goes all-out in the singing, shimmying, and spandex. The variety show numbers for “Mamma Mia!”, “Dancing Queen”, and “Waterloo” got the entire audience on their feet and singing and dancing along. These last three songs completed my night πŸ˜€

Details for Mamma Mia’s Manila run over here.