Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Metal hairspray and things your way

    It seems fitting that at this juncture (goodbe 2007, hello 2008) I find my musical tastes bending towards the old and the new. In my own weird way.

    First off: Hear N' Aid - Stars. Youtube the darn thing. I have the vid below, if you're too lazy to check it out.

    If you're not a fan of 80's heavy metal (or heavy metal in general) you won't appreciate this video. This is THE video. Dokken, Blue Oyster Cult, Queensrÿche, Yngwie, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, I'm running out of space, et cetera, et cetera. All the greats were there. It seems like a dream, witnessing a spectacle of the era's most formidable metal bands, massive hair and all, banding together for a worthy cause. Band Aid and USA For Africa might have been more popular, and would have ultimately earned more money (it IS a popularity contest, with stuff like this), I find this video to be ultimately more groundbreaking. Getting all these people together, with idiosyncrasies and mood swings more unstable than most high-strung celebrity performers, is nothing short of a miracle. My favorite parts are the ones with Halford (Judas Priest), Tate (Queensrÿche), Gillis (Night Ranger) and Lynch (Dokken). Halford and Tate's voices soar above everyone else's, and you can't help but feel the power their screams evoke (true to their style). Gillis' solo is absolutely amazing, and of course Lynch's was nothing short of the classic shredding he's known for. True greats, all of them.

    On the other side of the fence, I'm also listening to really, really new stuff. What's the twist? They're all from Jamendo, a music site where indie acts allow people to download their album, offer reviews, and even give reviews. All for free. If you like the band, you can give a donation to them, and Jamendo will make sure it gets to them. It's an amazing site, and I actually feel bad for not having discovered it sooner. The amount of talent in the indie scene can never be underestimated. Even Metallica went underground before they became famous (to their detriment). I'm not abandoning the sea that is mainstream, but I'm certainly keeping an eye out in these Jamendo waters for some pure unadulterated talent.

Links and video:


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Zero tolerance versus common sense

    As I was browsing through my newsfeeds (yes, I'm an information hog), I read this story in Consumerist.com regarding an old man sneaking out a $3 steak and returning afterwards to pay for it. The manager calls the police on him, and the store plans to press charges on the guy for shoplifting.

    What the hell.

    Yes, it's wrong. Based on most of the comments plastered beneath the story, that's the general sentiment of the public. However, I disgress. The guy was already able to sneak the steak out, probably cook it (well, literally, considering the report indicates that his house burned down) and go back to pay for it. He says he didn't have the money then. Someone argues that he should've just gone back to his house, grabbed the money, then went back to the store to buy the meat. Well, I guess store credit doesn't do much anymore does it. He should've probably just arranged something with the personnel in the shop (though considering the way they were acting, I highly doubt he'd get the help he needed for his situation), but this arrest still smacks of stupidity.

    While I'm not going to argue the intelligence of taking anything from the store (yes, I know it's shoplifting) I'm still impressed the guy came back. Couldn't the store leave it at that? This isn't a simple open and shut case; the fact that the guy came back to pay for the steak is a show of the guy's honesty. Of course, in today's society, that counts for zilch. Zero tolerance, that's what the store was harping about. Zero tolerance? For what? The guy stole a $3 steak. One can argue that big issues start from small ones, but the man was rectifying the situation already! So what is a person supposed to do next time? Just shoplift it outright?

    Someone who'll argue to me the obvious fact that he shoplifted, ergo he was wrong, needs to take his common sense medication. I may sound vehement, but it just irritates me that some people have apparently let their interpretations of the law grind their common sense into fine dust. There are matters that we can resolve without resorting to arrests and trials. He had the honor to come back and pay for it. I'm fine with that. The law was made to police the people who were doing wrong alone, not the ones who did wrong and are trying to make up for it. And trying to contemplate about what would happen if it escalates is non sequitur. What if he steals another one? Or another one? What's important is what he did NOW. If he paid for it now, chances are IF he did it again, he would have probably DONE THE EXACT SAME THING. Big surprise to most, I'm sure. Some people are too jaded about the world to realize that people like this exist. Not every other person on this earth is out to screw you, kid. One of the comments summed it up: "Zero tolerance equals zero common sense."

    Phew. Just wanted to get that off my chest. Pardon the regresion of my vocabulary to common expletives (when in Rome, do what the Romans do, I should say). Anyway. Bye.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The dichotomy that is experience and reason

    Having woken up at one in the afternoon, I must say my brain cells feel thoroughly recharged after pushing them to work until six in the morning. Ah, the joys of vacation.

    I was supposed to write on a topic, but now i'm replacing it with something I find more interesting at the moment. I wrote something before sleeping a while ago, mostly to try to at least capture a few of my sentiments on the topic before I sleep. Why? See, I have a problem with ideas. Once I get them into my head, they branch out and blossom into new avenues faster than vines or Wikipedia sessions. However, once I do something else (in this instance, sleep), the idea instantly retreats back into its hovel in the backyard that is my subconsciousness. I know it's there; I just forgot the password to get it back. And there's no security question to save my derriere. To quote my seven hour ago self, I remember my topics, but somehow the lucidity and acuteness of my sentence structures and inadvertent aphorisms get waylaid enroute to the blogging fingertip neurons into the subconscious junkyard.

    The problem with experience and flashback is that they're a tandem that you can never put together in one sitting, yet they're also a tandem that you must apply to get the most out of your life. Well, at least to me that is. Experience is the sight, the feel, the taste, the smell, the sounds, the emotions that encompass a moment, swirling into one tasteful concoction more potent than a bucket of espresso shots. Flashback, on the other hand, is the crash and burn hangover that follows every drinking spree; while I've never experienced one myself, I'm guessing it involves denial, realization, and comedy. Which draws us to an age-old debate: is the flashback the product of experience or vice versa? Well, not much of an argument there, since anyone will counter with the fact that without an experience, there's nothing to flash back about. However, what is an experience that you don't look back upon? It's ignored, buried deep in the recesses of your brain. Useless. It's a two-way street with U-turns at both ends, I guess. You can never have one without the other; experiences give you the moments, flashbacks give you the capacity to turn experiences into moments. Confusing, eh?

    So what I'm saying basically is, to use a Wikipedia method to explain it, is that the experiences are the entries, and the flashbacks are the fleshing-out text (citation needed). Each experience is filed in your memory cabinet, ready to be pulled by yourself to be reevaluated with all the harshness of an accountant on a Toffee Nut Frapuccino Venti with two Espresso shots and Vanilla syrup. Yes, the Starbucks references. I got my mom and dad (well, supposedly.. I ended up giving it to my brother) planners as their Christmas presents. It might not be the smartest thing to give, financially, but it made them happy and I wouldn't look back with regret. Although some of my entries, on the other hand, I look back with much chagrin (especially my last two, with one sounding didactic and the other sounding fanboy-ish). But that's the deal with experiences; the only time you can change them would be when they're still in your head. I'm rambling now, huh.

    Ohwell, best to get back to the real world. The asphalt jungle beckons. 'Till next time.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Pinoy rock

    I just saw the Red Horse Beer ad.


    Though I doubt anyone but a few would appreciate it. But I was surprised to find that "Pinoy Rock" is an actual entry in Wikipedia. Bravo Filipino community. You do care. I could almost cry.

    Some people would find it weird that I, a barely legal (spare me the innuendos, please) college kid would find something like this interesting. But really. Pepe Smith, Basti and Ely (who still rocks despite being a Class A prima donna, A being A-hole) in a single commercial. THEY SHOULD MAKE AN ALBUM. COME ON. These guys are like, the counterparts of the Beatles, the Who, the Rolling Stones, and all those classic rock acts here in the Philippines. I'm not exagerrating. The only reason people don't know that is because these Pinoy rockers are merely a footnote to Pinoy "rock", which is everything from them to manufactured mass-oriented pop rock bands (I'm not naming Hale, Cueshe, Spongecola.. oops). No worries, I'm not saying they suck as a whole. They have some good moments. But they're just like the bubblegum rock that's popular elsewhere. They're not... well, rock. Where are the riffs, the hooks, the melodies, the lyrics that may actually mean something. No emo stuff. Maybe it's just me.

    The States has a very glorified history of rock, with Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Metallica, Iron Maiden, et cetera, et cetera. I just wish we had something like that here too. I may not be a musician, but I am a musician fan.

    I am fervently wishing that Red Horse commissions these guys to make an album. Even just a compilation. I'll definitely buy it. I mean buy it buy it, not just download it. Nothing like grabbing a piece of history for posterity, right? Though I doubt that will happen. With commercialization, that's just not possible. * Sigh *

    I will end this post with a link to the advertisement and the Wikipedia article. Enjoy.




A Christmas post

    Some thoughts on the Yuletide season before the end of the day.

    Is Christmas a bad thing? Well, of course not. But looking at society's reaction to the season leaves a bad taste in my mouth. A highly commercialized holiday, with one of its most prominent marketing figures (heyyy Santa Claus) overshadowing the birthday boy Himself. Lest one forgets, it's CHRISTmas. I mean, really.

    But of course, with all the flak Christianity's been receiving, especially from the atheists and agnostics, I shouldn't be surprised with the decentralization of Christmas from Jesus Christ to more, uhm, "acceptable" models. Sometimes though, I just find it lousy that people argue for the removal of religion from different areas of society because it's a "global village" and we should "respect the beliefs of other communities" and that "Christianity is nothing but a massive brainwashing movement designed to dumb us down to the monkeys we evolved from." Christmas is a Catholic holiday. Don't celebrate it if you don't at least understand the meaning behind it. You don't have to go all Catholic-ey to understand the essence of gift-giving, or the other values associated with Christmas. :/

    The hypocrisy of that statement might stem from the fact that most Christians don't even recognize this. Or even if they do, it's all face value. Like the family who hired a caterer for their Christmas party but said that Christmas "isn't about the food or the new clothes," (I quote Kevin on this, I didn't see the actual news report). But I disgress. It's times like this that one should affirm the values that he or she learned and put them into practice. Sacrifice isn't hard on its own; it's just this lazy laid-back society that does nothing but whine that makes it hard.

    Blah, blah, blah. I'm rambling, and no one probably cares about that. The atheists/agnostics would probably say go to hell (wait, no, they can't because they don't believe in it.. hehe) and the hypocrites will say how dare you say such a thing, et cetera, et cetera. Anyways. If taking Christmas as a Catholic holiday, just take it as a Christian holiday then. With that in mind, keep Christ as the focus. Jesus Christ, whether you believe He is the Son of God or not, makes a pretty good model (WAY better than Santa Claus, kids).

    On a different note, let's talk about Christmas as a season of giving. Hey, this was the first Christmas I've ever had where I actually made a list, checked it twice and went out to shop in Greenhills and Glorietta (what, it doesn't rhyme?? Such a travesty! :o). In short, this was the first Christmas wherein I was actually giving away something. Of course, I ended up bankrupt, but seeing (or hearing, kinda hard to see people opening the gifts when you're cities away) the people you gave gifts to accepting them and saying thanks just makes you feel good inside, doesn't it? It may sound self-serving, but all truly selfless acts are two-way anyways (this reminds me of that Friends episode). The priest in the Christmas mass I attended put it so succinctly, "God Himself went bankrupt on the day of Christmas, giving away His only Son to man to be the instrument of their salvation." What a cool way to put it. Just puts everything in perspective.

    Anyway, enough rambling. I'm already thinking of something else that's not Christmas-related, and I don't want this to turn into an entry full of ramblings. So there. :P

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Notes on the components of Philippine pre-colonial poetry

Notes and anecdotes on the components of Philippine pre-colonial poetry, mostly taken from my Filipino 14 class under Mr. Popa.

    There are three main components inherent in Philippine pre-colonial poetry. First and foremost is the talinghaga or metaphor. The employment of the talinghaga is the unifying system of the literary piece, uplifting it above normal conversation so that people would take notice. The talinghaga is an art in itself that showcases the literary prowess of the pre-colonial Filipinos, allowing them to describe certain facets of life in a metaphorical manner. An example is as follows:

Original:Translation (English):
Umulan man sa bundoc,Let it rain in the mountains,
houag sa dacong laot,but not in the nearby sea,
aba si casampaloc,my friend
nanao nang dico loobwho left without my consent
ualang bauong cumot.did not bring a blanket.

The term casampaloc is derived from the sampaloc (tamarind), whose fruit looks similar to the pea, with the seeds inside the elongated fruit. From it, the listener can discern the closeness that the speaker and the person he is referring to shares. The sorrow expressed in the poem is profound and deeply felt by the addition of the last line. The speaker is worried that the person left without a blanket to shield himself against the rain. Taking in the poem as a whole, one sees the poem as a metaphor for the sudden death of a person.

    The other two components are tugma (rhyme) and sukat (meter). The incorporation of these into pre-colonial poetry stems from the evolution of literature from language. The tugma and sukat use the musicality of language to further achieve the objective of the poem.

    The development of language during the Philippine pre-colonial period, an integral factor in the development of that era's literature, was rooted in the sounds and music of nature. The community's undeniable link with nature can be seen in the onomatopeic words formed that describe natural phenomena, such as the kaluskos ng dahon, aliw-iw ng batis, tikatik ng ulan, tiririt ng pipit, pagaspas ng bagwis, dagundong ng kulog, and the ali-it ng kawayan. The movements of nature were named by the people, both as a testament to their affinity with the natural forces but also as an easier method of communicating amongst themselves. The use of these words allowed them to articulate themselves better and easily describe situations in a vivid manner so as to leave no ambiguity as to their meaning. This property of language allows the sharing of experiences within the community. In this sense, language becomes a repository of the progress of the community through history, as defined by Rolando Tinio.

    The first pre-colonial poems were done with the oral tradition in mind. The use of tugma and sukat was handy in inviting people to listen to the poem, elevating it above common everyday language to defamiliarize the listener from the experience. At the same time, the use of these two components allows the poem to be retained in the memory, which is very important in a community where writing is a rare, if not totally non-existent art. Tugma and sukat were also used to mirror the cycle of the seasons and other things in the environment, such as umaga/hapon/gabi (morning/afternoon/night), paglaho/pagbilog ng buwan (waning/waxing of the moon), pagkati/pagtaog (low/high tide), tag-araw/tag-ulan (dry/wet season), pagpunla/pag-ani (sowing/harvest) and pagsilang/kamatayan (birth/death). Tugma and sukat allow the poem to not only provide a visual description but an experience that appeals to all the senses, with emphasis on sounds.

Notes on the Manobo

Notes and anecdotes on the Manobo or Manuvu, mostly taken from my Filipino 14 class under Mr. Popa.

    The Manobo or Manuvu are a Philippine ethnic group that reside in the provinces of Cotabato, Bukidnon and Davao which comprise Central Mindanao. The word Manobo means tao or human in their native tongue. They live near the shores of rivers, in valleys, hills and mountains.

    The literary traditions of the Manobo remain intact and relatively unchanged throughout the years. During gatherings, the awit (song) or epiko (epic) is used to entertain the townsfolk while also paying homage to the tribe's ancestors and gods. The opening awit or tula (poem) is called the Tabhayanon, which contains the goals and wishes of the singer that he wishes to express. The listeners reply with the ondaon, a sigaw (shout) that signals their agreement and acknowledgement of the importance of the singer's request. The awit or tula is related with such fervor and exhiliration so as to excite the emotions of the listeners, providing them with a cinematic story that raptures them all throughout the session.