Tuesday, February 22, 2005


"Hello, and welcome to the mental health hotline"

If you are obsessive-compulsive, press 1 repeatedly.

If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2 for you.

If you have multiple personalities, press 3, 4, 5, and 6.

If you are paranoid, we know who you are and what you want.Stay on the line so we can trace your call.

If you are delusional, press 7 and your call will be transferred to the mother ship.

If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a small voice will tell you which number to press.

If you are a manic-depressive, it does not matter which number youpress; no one will answer.

If you have amnesia, press 8 and state your name, address,telephone number, and date of birth, social security number, and your mother's maiden name.

If you have bi-polar disorder, please leave a message after the beep, before the beep, or after the beep. Please wait for the beep.

If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9.

If you have low self-esteem, please hang up. All of our operators are too busy to talk to you.

If you are menopausal, hang up, turn on the fan, lie down and cry.You will not be crazy forever.

If you are blonde, please do not press any buttons; you will just mess it up.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


You Are 28 Years Old


Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

I've always known that I'd be 28 forever. Hah!

Monday, February 14, 2005


You're Atticus Finch.  A person of learning and wisdom, you always expect the same decency from people that you yourself possess.  When people disappoint you, you still cling to the ideal
You're Atticus Finch. A person of learning and
wisdom, you always expect the same decency from
people that you yourself possess. When people
disappoint you, you still cling to the ideals
you believe in so firmly, trying to spread
compassion and reason to those around you.
It's a losing battle, though, and sometimes you
get depressed -- not that you'd ever show it.
People look up to you, and you feel an
obligation to put on a brave front for them.

What Character from Literature Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Sunday, February 13, 2005


I got out of work as early as possible to avoid the EDSA traffic so I can make it in time for Russell Watson's Autograph Signing at The Podium.

At any rate, I got there on time (I'm really starting to develop this habit of being early! Nice, nice!). I decided to peruse the CDs being sold at the booth. Ooops, no REPRISE in Manila yet? I wonder why. Steve Alfafara, while on an official trip to Sydney, got me the Australian Edition of Reprise, with a white cover that's perfect for autographs.

I wasn't allowed to cross the cordon because "You didn't buy your CDs here, sir!". What a shocker. Manila is SO very commercial-minded. I could've have slapped her with the concert tickets and the Reprise album but hey, I had a nice day today so I won't let this tiny matter destroy my mood. Come to think of it, most of those who came here were buying a Watson album for the first time while I got my first 2-3 years ago! Kainis!

Eventually, the cordon was removed because only about 50 people came to have their CDs signed. I was embarrased for the organizers, and pity Watson.

At 6:45, Sir William Hayward walked in with his wife. At 7 sharp, THE VOICE was escorted into the venue by his burly bodyguard and some fierce-looking Pinoy bouncers.

Very orderly affair. I made some small chat with him as I gave my CDs one by one (that buys time, trust me) while making a remark that he must be tired ("Yes, I stayed in the hotel room all day and watched TV!") and wished he would perform Nella Fantasia next time he comes back ("You must have been the hundredth guy to ask me that. I really look forward to performing it when I return!"). I bumped into my friend, writer and filmaker Vince, earlier and he offered to take my photo with Watson. Great!

Watson leaves today for Manchester (what?! No Asian tour?). 'Till next time!

Now, the waiting begins for Josh Groban. Make that a date in June 2005.

Friday, February 11, 2005


News reports say that Russell Watson chose his Manila repertoire himself (or he had a direct hand in choosing the songs). At any rate, i'd rather that he sang this very beautiful song than croak his way out of BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER which he admitted he hasn't performed in 4 years since he came out with his first album THE VOICE ("Whew, I'm so glad to have gone through that one!", he admitted to his audience after he labored through the Simon & Garfunkel song). He said someone requested it backstage. The idiot should have been informed that Watson isn't into so much pop songs. He has mentioned this many times after his throat operation. He recorded that song only because the producers needed to penetrate several market categories like Josh Groban did when he came up with his "classical pop" style.

Anyways, dearest friends, NELLA FANTASIA.

Music: Ennio Morricone for the 1986 film THE MISSION
Italian lyrics: Ferraù

Nella fantasia io vedo un mondo giusto,
Li tutti vivono in pace e in onestà.
Io sogno d'anime che sono sempre libere,
Come le nuvole che volano,
Pien' d'umanità in fondo all'anima.

Nella fantasia io vedo un mondo chiaro,
Li anche la notte è meno oscura.
Io sogno d'anime che sono sempre libere,
Come le nuvole che volano.

Nella fantasia esiste un vento caldo,
Che soffia sulle città, come amico.
Io sogno d'anime che sono sempre libere,
Come le nuvole che volano,
Pien' d'umanità in fondo all'anima.

Too bad I couldn't append a wav.file or mpeg here. I'm not so good with html language but I'd ask Dr. Greenleaf to help me with that when i go home to Cagayan de Oro next week.

Credit is due Sarah Brightman who repeatedly wrote Morricone to allow her to transform the haunting music of Nella Fantasia into a song. She got her wish, and performed it in 1999 in her concert EDEN.

Here's the English Translation:
In my fantasy
In my fantasy I see a fair world,
Where everyone lives in peace and honesty.
I dream of a place to live that is always free,
Like a cloud that floats,
Full of humanity in the depths of the soul.

In my fantasy I see a bright world
Where each night there is less darkness.
I dream of spirits that are always free,
Like the cloud that floats.

In my fantasy exists a warm wind,
That breathes into the city, like a friend.
I dream of souls that are always free,
Like the cloud that floats,
Full of humanity in the depths of the soul.

May Nella Fantasia become a reality one day. By the way, don't forget to find a copy of the film. You'd never look at things the same way again. Terrific performances by Jeremy Irons and Robert de Niro.


Russell Watson on the cover of his first album THE VOICE

And so it came to pass. The long wait was finally over last night when we settled in our seats at the Plenary Hall of the Philippine International Convention Center and waited for THE VOICE.

We were extremely early, like 2 hours early (I anticipated that there'd be traffic along Alabang-Zapote Road but we had a very smooth drive!), so we decided to visit some structures in the CCP Complex like the Film Center muna to kill time. After that, raining as it was, we decided to hole up in the quaint Figaro shop beside the CCP Main Building where Steve regaled Mom and I about his experiences with the Asian Tourism Forum and the faux pas the Philippine delegation committed in Penang during the 1997 ATF.

Finally, at 7.10PM, we decided to proceed to the PICC. It was extremely difficult to drive up the main entrance because a major renovation was ongoing, and there already were a lot of people and vehicles.

It was very heartwarming to see all the seats being filled up. Truly, Manila has become very accomodating to classical artists (the opposite of which applies to local theatre productions but this is will be discussed in another blog). The trend that has taken everyone by surprise started when the Araneta Coliseum - a 33,000-seating capacity covered dome in Cubao - was filled to the rafters for the Andrea Bocelli Manila Visit. Although there were hardly any write-ups regarding Sarah Brightman's concert at the Ultra (which is weird. No talk even about the amazing props and set?!), it's good to see the 3000-seater Plenary Hall to be full of people.

As usual, the high and mighty of the land, all familiar faces in the Philippine Tatler (a major sponsor of this event) that you can actually yawn at the mere sight of them (they're everywhere!) decided that the 8PM show should be reset to 8:45 so they can slowly glide into the Hall while taking photos of their friends like they've never seen each other for years, and make the de rigeur small-talk-beso-beso routine. Somehow, 30 minutes into this farce, the high and mighty couldn't seem to settle into their seats like everybody else.

MM-F, for example, changed her seat 4 times in 15 minutes. MC-Z, who was seated beside her, made a fuss about seating arrangements for everyone they know. Alam mo na, dapat tabi tabi sila. For people who also came in free courtesy of SMART Infinity (like us), it was shocking that there should be demands for better seats. In fact, we had to admit our location - Level 3, G Row - was an excellent vantage point. There was no need to strain your neck up or sideways just to see the stage. It was right infront of us at eye level. One advice to them malilikot/makukulit na society women: you could just have your seats planned way ahead of any event so you don't have to make a scene. Very un-photo-worthy, really. And unbecoming (to use JGC's words). High society should act like people are watching them because people ARE watching them.

Now, on to happier thoughts.

Finally, the PICC bell signaled the start of the show. Lights were dimmed leaving a lot of stupid people in the dark ramps and halls, unable to find their seats.

With Sir William Hayward as conductor, the orchestra started with Aaron Copland's FANFARE FOR THE COMMON MAN. This has been desccribed as "what may be Copland's most recognizable work. The simplicity of the opening idea, and the spare grandeur of the harmonized statement that follows suggest the ideal of the worth and dignity of the common person." Perfect choice for this fundraiser concert.

And finally, Russell Watson! At talaga naman, in his characteristic style of fun, he opened the night with the powerful GRANADA (pun intended!). This was followed by the Neapolitan canzone SANTA LUCIA (written in 1848 in honor of a Sicilian girl, Lucia, who was martyred by decapitation in the year 314), followed by Schubert's AVE MARIA (traditionally used during burial processions in provinces in the Philippines). Here, Watson sounded like he was struggling. Is it the 20-hour flight from Manchester or has he not really fully recovered from his throat surgery? I can't tell.

This, unfortunately, pales in comparison with the power of Ima Castro's voice - former Kim in the Manchester run of Miss Saigon, and Asia Song Festival Winner. However, this being a concert of classical music, Ms Castro went over-the-top by belting (labas ngala-ngala, as the colloquial goes). Watson finally got a taste of the Pinoy belter with Ima's screaming (pardon the exaggeration) paired with Watson's faltering voice which totally wrecked the well-loved THE PRAYER into pieces (it was so well-loved because Celine sang it with so much heart). Castro, nonetheless, was very well applauded after her solo performance of I BELIEVE I CAN FLY. Thank goodness for the big screens, you can really watch her reach into her high notes with so much intensity that she practically was on fire, her hair going every which way. What a funny sight but yes, Filipinos will always want to get a dose of their usual belting. Sigh.

It took a joke to finally make Watson warm up to the crowd. He was so detached during the first act, and by the time he came back after LES TOREADORS of Carmen was played, he was already in his element - making funny gestures and telling the crowd about how the few people who welcomed him during his arrival were being "extremely nice" ergo the Philippines must be full of extremely nice people. Applause all over. We love these kind of stories about ourselves!

Other songs include PANIS ANGELICUS (with the Master Chorale accompanying him), the popular O SOLE MIO, and VOLARE during which the crowd sang the chorus with him. What fun! He also performed CARUSO, LOVELIEST NIGHT OF THE YEAR and NESSUM DORMA during the encore period. He was called back on stage five times because he hasn't performed the songs he was known for - NELLA FANTASIA (One can hear Margie Moran's voice yelling, "Nella! Nella!"), the theme from The Enterprise, THAT'S AMORE, LA DONNA E MOBILE and crowd favorite TORNA A SURRIENTO. The latter was the last song he did before he finally said goodbye. I guess you can say that he was disappointed that Filipinos aren't so enthusiastic but then again, it really is difficult to make Filipinos do standing ovations. We like to cheer, stomp our feet, and clap like there's no tomorrow but stand up? Nah, good luck!

The stars of the night actually are the San Miguel Philharmonic Orchestra and the San Miguel Master Chorale. The latter has the most mature voice quality i've ever heard for a Filipino Choir (I've heard the Madrigal Singers during Jaime Cardinal Sin's birthday concert last year but the acoustics at the Manila Cathedral was terrible). The moment i heard the first notes sung by the Chorale, it reminded me immediately of the songs from old movies - divine and magnificent. Even Watson couldn't help but show his appreciation. He is, after all, performing at the home of the world's best performers - Manila.

I had the chance to get two of Ryan Cayabyab's CD's which were being sold at the San Miguel booth. At Php 280 per, it was definitely a steal considering the selection of Filipino classic songs included. To top it off, the songs were rendered by the same San Miguel Orchestra and Master Chorale! Whoah!

Call me crazy but I'm actually going to The Podium tonight - rain or no rain - to have my 3 CDs signed. As I said before, I'm a fan - period.

I wonder if he'd sign the bootleg copy of his New Zealand Concert? Abangan!
By the way, many many many thanks to Steve Alfafara, Travel Editor of ZEE Quarterly Cebu, for the tickets!

Monday, February 07, 2005


Ah, Mondays! I really hate waking up on Mondays. There seems to be this interminable battle to get out of bed, with the bed pulling me back in at every opportunity it gets. Consequently, i have been worried that my air bed is leaking air. Sometimes, when i wake up at dawn (which usually pisses me off), i always feel the need to put on the pump again and return the bed to that comfortable firmness that i've always liked. Sigh. Even in sleeping, life's complications get in my way!!!


Had early lunch today. My neck muscles hurt like hell. I don't quite recall any instances yesterday where i strained them or something. I did have guests over: Steve, who rummaged through my DVDs like a kid out of school; and Ken, who simply needed someone to listen to his ramblings about his recent failed relationship. I was sad that i couldn't watch SIDEWAYS on DVD because the goddamn thing stopped playing after 10 minutes. Bad copy, bad quality. At 75 pesos, why am i complaining? Tsk!


Had fun reading Ray Arvin Rimorin's blogspot today (www.rayarvin.blogspot.com). He always brings laughter to what possibly could have been an awful rain now-sunny later day.

Thanks are in order, by the way to Grace Pamparo for welcoming me home this early. I really hope to see you guys again! Three years is really, really a long time.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


Over and above freshly-cut grass, burnt sugar and photocopier ink, here are four of my favorite scents:

Clinique's HAPPY


No. 4711 from the House of Mülhens. This is the cologne I grew up using.

Eau de Cologne (French for "water of Cologne") is an original formulation of an alcoholic and watery suspension or distillation of the oils of bergamot, lemon, orange and orange blossom, with the addition of lavender oil and rosemary oil.

Eau de Cologne is said to have been invented by Giovanni Paolo de Feminis towards the end of the 17th century. On October 8th,
1792, the Cologne merchant Wilhelm Mülhens received as a wedding present an old parchment with the recipe for "aqua mirabilis" (miracle water). He recognised the value of this gift and started to manufacture this Eau de
Cologne (water from Cologne). However, Gianmaria Farina is also said to have acquired the recipe, and he started manufacturing an "Eau admirable" in 1714.

The use of the actual name "Eau de Cologne" is documented only from 1742. In 1810, Napoleon I decreed that it was only allowed to be sold as a perfume, not as a medicine. It was during the French occupation of Cologne that the brand name "4711" was coined. In order to tax the inhabitants more efficiently, all the houses in Cologne were numbered consecutively, and the house of the Mülhens family was house no. 4711. After seven generations of Mülhens managers, the firm was sold in 1994 to the Wella concern. It is one of the few kinds of perfume to be widely worn by men.

A new variant, FAHRENHEIT SUMMER, from the House of Dior

Saturday, February 05, 2005


Radioactive Bibingka?

Every so often, I complain to colleagues and friends about my dissatisfaction with many things around me. No, life has been okay so far. It's the corned beef that isn't. (Wait, pass that by me again?!).

I had breakfast today after sending off Mom at the aeroport for a 5-day emergency trip to Cebu to meet officials of the Department of Education (they deserve spanking so badly) and God forgive me but the corned beef was the worst ever! Watery, potato-ey bits of meat. Totally bland and uninteresting. Times like this, I always wonder: whatever happened to the good old stuff?

1.) Carne Norte
There was a time when Libby's was really good. This Brazilian corned beef used to be a rarity in those days when people only had radios, and rice was sold by the ganta. These days, it feels like eating something people already chewed and canned to be exported. I miss whole slabs of corned beef meat we used to get when Mom comes home from Bukidnon. It was always fun to sit down with other cousins to "himay" (I don't know the English equivalent) the meat by its fiber. This always turns out to be a better (if not the real) version of carte norte: aromatic, real good meat, and definitely no need for potatos (which aborbs the flavor of the whole thing by the way, making it bland). These days, canned corned beef just takes out the fun in breakfasts.

2.) Pan de Sal
Another Filipino delight gone un-delighful. The corner bakeshop has not only turned this popular breakfast fare into minute versions of the original, they've made them crusty and drier too! Whatever happened to the soft, doughy bread of our childhood?!

3.) Bibingka
Trust me, if you ever come across those two old women who sell bibingka beside the Baclaran Church, make haste to stay as far away from them as possible. Their bibingkas are totally abominable you'd think bibingka was just created yesterday and you're eating it for the first time! Whatever happened to the galapong-rich delights topped with salted eggs?

4.) To be continued. Back to work. :-)