Monday, February 27, 2012

Haute Auteur 2012 x Musique en Scene

Musique en Scene, the gig featuring the awarding of Haute Auteur 2012

Last Saturday, I was at B-Side at The Collective for the awarding of UP Cineaste's Haute Auteur 2012 with my friend Jonard, a research assistant for the Genetics laboratory of UST. Now on its third year, the festival's goal is to pay tribute to cinema's roots, proof of which is the homage to Nora Aunor and other cinematic greats in its entries. It had a week-long screening at Shangri-La Plaza Mall, with an accompanying print sale from artists like Manix Abrera, CJ de Silva, Apol Sta. Maria, Kasey Albano, Benjie Marasigan, and two artists I greatly admire: Rob Cham and Carina Santos (who recently followed me on Twitter and I still can't get over).

Camyl Besinga of the Techy Romantics

At the ceremony, the finalists' entries were screened again, with a band live-scoring the film. Honestly, my main reason for attending was to see the Techy Romantics, a local electronica band that I discovered a few months ago. They're actually the only local group that I obsess over because their sound is mad awesome. Plus vocalist Camyl Besinga's voice is incredibly hypnotic. They played around midnight, when most of the Haute Auteur attendees left, but when they started their set, B-Side started to get packed and everyone was dancing. It was easy to tell that they were the crowd favorite because they got the loudest cheers and they were the only group that were demanded an encore. They relented and performed 7 Years, a beautiful song from Touch. I was just dancing and smiling the whole time, it was insane.

The Walkie Talkies, a sister tandem

Besides Techy, I only knew Encounters of a Yeti, but I discovered great music from other bands. I particularly liked The Walkie Talkies, a sister duo that covered The Spice Girls' Stop, Regina Spektor's Us and a mash-up of Adele's Rolling In The Deep and Gnarls Barkley's Crazy. I can't find them on Facebook but the taller sister had this amazing voice that I want to listen to all night. Surprisingly, I also liked The Wilderness. Their music was a little hardcore for me, but I found myself dancing along, even though I'm not a fan (at all) of heavy, noisy, and wild rock.

Lee of Better In Bed, still adorable as ever

On top of that surprise is seeing my friend Lee perform. Apparently, his band Better In Bed is one of the performers. He was one of the more popular ones and girls kept shouting his name. I liked his last song, Galaxies, and I now have it on my iPod. Before leaving the stage, he announced with a raised eyebrow that he wasn't straight, then left. Ever so badass.

The Black Vomits

The Black Vomits were good, too. They're this rock band that had the sexiest songs. They were almost as hardcore as The Wilderness but I thought there was something sexy about the way the vocalist sang, moved, and dressed. I think it was her confidence and the way she stood, but she's aces in my book. In short, she makes me want to turn straight.

I didn't watch the rest of the bands because I left quickly after the Techy Romantics, but the other performers were Musical O, Sleepwalk Circus, Ciudad, Pocketful Of, Ivan Theory, Similar Objects, Purplechickens, and Reese and Vica.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Battalia Royale x Lugang

Battalia Royale, a loose adaptation of Koushun Takami's Battle Royale

This week, Sipat Lawin Ensemble staged a production of Battalia Royale, a loose adaptation of Koushun Takami's novel Battle Royale. The book (and the successful adaptation) is about a totalitarian Japanese state where a group of students are kidnapped and placed in an island, with the mission to kill everyone else and be the last one standing. Staged at the CCP Promenade from February 21-23, it had a very limited run of three performances. I watched its premiere show and was blown away by the complexity of it all.

The storylines in Battalia Royale

Battalia Royale is a fresh and unconventional approach to theater, involving its audience as the plot unfolds. There are over five stages, and viewers must participate as the actors move from one area to another, quickly following them to keep abreast of the story. At one point, the viewers must pick between three simultaneous scenes, each with a different background but the same premise: kill or be killed.

The final scene - though I've heard every performance has a different winner

And yes, it is bloody. In the last scene, one guy was shot and blood splattered on a Nursing student's skirt.

I was a little confused at first, because there were two groups running off in different directions, but it was only because I was late. I eventually got the hang of things and the two groups melded into one, which made it difficult to watch if you aren't quick-moving, thanks to the overwhelming turnout of the crowd. But I was impressed with the rotation of the scenes, which went like clockwork. All the ushers knew where to guide the massive crowd, and I even saw director JK Anicoche ushering a group.

The show is open to the public and is pay-what-you-can, which means that no one has an excuse to watch this great show. There will be another run this March 9-11, though I heard that tickets are already sold out as of yesterday. You may still check their Facebook page for updates in case they open more shows. This time, they're staging it in an abandoned school in Cubao.

The actors were pretty good, too, and I recognized some people I knew, mostly from Dulaang Perpetual. The other actors are from Mapua Tekno Teatro, students from NU, Youtube performer Kevin Vitug, Marco Viana, and Bodjie Pascua, who played class adviser and game master. Pascua is best remembered as a cast member of child show Batibot. My favorite was this guy who played Julius. He had a certain angst that I found believable.

Music was provided by Teresa Barrozo (Zombadings, Shake, Rattle, and Roll 13: Rain, Rain, Go Away, and Kinatay) and Radioactive Sago Project. In fact, on its last day, Lourd de Veyra came to provide live vocals.

The beautiful light fixtures

I was eager to watch the last performance on Thursday and see Lourd, but I came late again, and security was tighter. There was a line and they didn't let everyone in at the same time so Nikko and I opted to go to SM Mall of Asia for dinner instead. We ate at Lugang Cafe, the new Chinese restaurant specializing in Taiwanese cuisine. They're known for their xiao long bao, a Shanghainese dumpling dish with soup inside. I was impressed at its authenticity, having tried the dish when I went to Shanghai last summer. The interiors were opulent (which I loved) and the staff were accomodating beyond belief. The restaurant is almost perfect and I'm dying to go back and dine again. Being around the avant-garde furniture is already an experience in itself.

The gorgeous Tom Hardy, looking delicious as ever

Capped the night by watching This Means War, a funny movie starring Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, and Tom Hardy about two best friend CIA agents who like the same girl and are trying to detract each other using their vast resources. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a bad rating, but I thought it was hilarious. And Tom Hardy..... my gosh. He was delicious. Lugang Cafe can serve him on a dish.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Chimara, Becky Night Out, Art in the Park

This week has been very interesting because I experienced a lot of new things. I've always been a fan of adventure so it was like an adrenaline rush doing so many novel things. Unfortunately, I kept forgetting my camera so I wasn't able to capture any of the events. I promised myself to bring my camera always and record everything I see and experience. That way, I can also experiment on my photography, which is slowly becoming a little hobby.

The incredibly yummy tofu chips from Chimara (photo taken from here)

My week began on Thursday, when I went to Greenbelt for dinner with my friend Christian. Yes, my week began on the 16th because I spent Valentine's at home, writing. I never got a chance to celebrate Valentine's and this year was no different. My friend Christian, who works in marketing, invited me to dinner at Chimara, this neo-vegan restaurant in Greenbelt 3. I've heard of the place when model Raya Mananquil mentioned that she likes the food but it was my first time this week. I thought the Omega 3 wrap was okay, but I instantly fell in love with the tofu chips, their signature snack. It's a healthier alternative to regular chips, packed with protein, and is bursting with flavor. The minute I got home, I craved for the tofu chips in white cheddar and thought of when I could have the deliciousness of it again. Dinner with Christian went great, he's a funny guy even though he takes life very seriously.

The lovely crowd at Bed Manila

 DJ Toy Armada, arguably one of the cutest DJs in Manila (photos from here)

On Friday, I went with Nikko and Jan to the Big Becky Night Out at Bed, Malate to celebrate Becky Nights, the overnight podcast hit featuring makeup artist Jake Galvez, stylist Matt Gozun, hair expert Buern Rodriguez, and Globe Asiatique VP Divine Lee. I was really excited to go. I haven't been to the club in ages and the place holds a special place in my heart because that's where I started clubbing at 15. I'm practically a veteran in the gay club scene, and I thought it was important I bring Jan because he recently outed himself and I wanted to expose him to as many cultural events as possible, including a night at a gay club. Bed was packed and I had a fantastic time.

I was forced to join a certain game during the program, but being a guy who rarely says no, I went up to join four others. The game was to perform your sexiest dance to a Madonna song and I was mortified. I love Madonna, but the thought of being up on stage in front of hundreds of people is terrifying. I was embarrassed but what the hell, when you're up there, you just have to give it your all. So I danced like a whore. I took my cue from Madonna and ripped off my blazer and put my hand in my crotch. I lost the game but some guys I met later told me that my moves were really 'different.' I'm not quite sure what they meant but I have no regrets.

The Hot Mess with Jake Galvez and Divine Lee (photo taken from here)

Me and Jan with my favorite member of Becky Nights, Buern Rodriguez

The three of us had access to the VIP room so we spent most of the night there. I really wanted to go down and dance my ass off (mainly to continue my choreography) but Nikko and Jan insisted we stayed upstairs. We did get to hang out with Buern, who took a liking to Jan, and get tons of drinks, so I was pretty buzzed by the end of the night. Met some guys, too, who were really nice and offered to share their drinks. One of them was this teenage crossdresser named The Hot Mess (at least that's how she introduced herself to us), a lovely creature with a 23-inch waistline.

The place really looks different from the last time I went, and it looks world-class now. There are three floors, with the third floor reserved for an open-air deck. The ground-floor restrooms were awesome. Right in front of the urinals is a lit aquarium facing another pair of urinals. So while you're doing your business, you can see another guy doing his. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your level of risque), the aquarium ends at the waist area so you can't see any goodies.

Got home by 6AM. God, I miss my partying days.

The event's poster

On Saturday, I met up with Nikko, Jan, and Mitzi (one of the paper's talented writers) for Art in the Park, an annual art fair held in a Makati park to make art more accessible and affordable, capping its pieces to P30,000. Over 40 exhibitors attended, many of them prestigious galleries selling work from their best artists. Some of my favorites were: Secret Fresh, Delirium [Art + Design], Vinyl on Vinyl, and TutoK. I was of course attracted to more avant-garde works, but sadly, the pieces were still expensive even though they were less than P30,000. I did have a great time looking around and talking to some of the artists.

The Romeo Lee notebook I got from Delirium [Design + Art]. The painting is called Number 8
The jawbone ashtray, designed by Leeroy New (photo from here)

The Sacred Heart Lamp, designed by Leeroy New (photo from here)

I wrote an article about the event for that day's The Philippine Star, and I featured Delirium as one of the galleries to look out for. Their works are surreal pieces from artists like Leeroy New (who did Gaga's muscle dress for the cover of Marry The Night) and some of my personal favorites are the Sacred Heart lamp and the jawbone ashtray. I showed them my article - frankly, I'm still the look-ma-no-hands kind of writer, and they gave me a handmade notebook with a Romeo Lee painting on the cover for my effort. I was really shocked but accepted it anyway, showering them with thanks and all kinds of appreciation.

That night, I vowed to buy one important piece next year. My obsession with art is steadily growing and I'm about to hit the phase of wanting to own a piece. After that, we had dinner at 8065 Bagnet, a hole-in-the-wall joint in Estrella Street that has the best bagnet I've ever tasted. I had the kare-kare bagnet, and they don't skimp on the servings. The peanut sauce was really delicious and the prices are very competitive. Budget meals start at P110, but group dishes are around P190. Divine, divine, divine. We capped the night with dessert at Rocci's in Malugay Street, then headed straight home.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Malate Literary Folio's Convention for the Arts

Sponsored by the Student Media Office, not The Lasallian as I originally thought 

JP Cuison and some of his works (photo taken from here)

Yesterday, I went with my friends Jan and Nikko to the Malate Convention for the Arts at De La Salle University - Taft, a seminar for their frequent Malate Literary Folio. I heard it from Jan and I wanted to go because of JP Cuison, an adman and postermaker I really admire. He's behind the posters for Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank and the Meiday gigs. His aesthetics are incredibly beautiful and was impressed because he was very friendly and humble. The images above are some of his brilliant works.

Genaro Gojo Cruz, children's story writer extraordinaire

The second speaker was Genaro Gojo Cruz, a renowned children's story writer. I had no idea what he was doing there but he was such a dynamic speaker that he managed to convince me to try children's story writing. I think what got my attention was when he said that the money in writing is in children's stories, with one piece fetching roughly P35,000 plus royalties. He came prepared, too. Whenever he would cite an example for what makes a good children's book, he would whip one out. I swear he brought at least a hundred (I'm exaggerating, of course). He won two Palancas already, so he's good in my book.

The last speaker was Marc Gaba, who was supposed to talk about poetry. He ended up reciting one of his poems and going on a rhetoric with no direction - jumping from water being expensive to rewriting the Genesis. He caught everyone by surprise, though I suspected it was a performance (he subtly alluded to it). It was very strange, but I thought it was fascinating, particularly his melodic and mellifluous voice. He was such a mystery - when no one asked any question (everyone was too surprised), he simply stood up and walked away.

Random shots from the streets of Malate

The seminar lasted until 3PM, and we ended up walking around Malate and taking photos. It was a nice day out but we simply wandered around the streets because we didn't know where to go. We went to Solidaridad, F. Sionil Jose's bookshop, then to Robinson's Ermita. I was really eager to see F. Sionil Jose (who I had met several years ago at Inkblots, UST's annual journalism seminar), but he was in Makati at the time for a book signing.

The wall by the counter is filled with quirky designs and pieces

Some of the tables were customized 

The decor features doodled paper cups from customers 

The bric-a-brac are adorable

My favorite: pictures of kitties! 

The windows were huge panels, providing ample sunglight during the day and a romantic view at night

For dinner, we went to Noriter, this Korean coffee shop across DLSU. It has that homey and cozy vibe that more commercial coffee places like Starbucks and Coffee Bean are aiming for. The place is filled with the cutest objet d'art: a collection of toys, robots, statues, and doodled paper cups. Patrons can opt to get a table or a mezzanine where you can sit on the floor. It wasn't that crowded when we came in, but maybe because it was a Saturday and there weren't that many students around. We just had sandwiches but I'm definitely coming back for the drinks, which many say are really good.

Tattoos and chocolate.

This week was pretty much the usual. Spent my time at home working on my article for The Philippine Star, after not appearing for the previous Saturday's edition because of the lack of space. It felt really nice to be back, even though I was only gone for one edition.

Monocle (November 2010), Dazed & Confused (November 2009), Wallpaper (June 2010 and February 2010)

To celebrate, I went with Nikko to a magazine stand that sells back issues of Monocle and Wallpaper, two magazines you don't usually see in your ordinary bargain bookstore. I must admit I went trigger happy because I bought one copy of Monocle, two of Wallpaper, and one Dazed & Confused. The mall isn't really known for fun (the logo of some stores were still the old ones, especially Penshoppe), but I did get my latest copy of Rogue in their National Bookstore. The issue with KC Concepcion on the cover is incredibly hard to find so imagine my joy when I found heaps of it in said mall. Went to SM Mall of Asia for dinner, where we ate at Wham! Burgers, an underrated burger joint. I'm not sure, but it's always empty whenever I go.

Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander did not disappoint - her Oscar nomination was well-deserved (photo from here)

On Friday, I was in Shangri-La Plaza with Myk to watch The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I bought the book two weeks ago and fell in love with it so I invited Myk to watch it with me. He hasn't read the book but he enjoyed the movie that he also watched the first adaptation with Michael Nyqvist (of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol). The movie was gripping and for someone whose attention span is that of a five year old's, I didn't get bored even though it was almost three hours long. It was directed by David Fincher, with the soundtrack created by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross - the three people responsible for the greatness that is The Social Network. We had dinner at Bon Chon (packed as usual) and dessert at Secret Recipe. The cakes there are really divine.

Harold's Cheese Bar from Machiavelli Chocolatier. It's not too sweet but it's packed with deliciousness

While I was in the mall, I also got Harold's Cheese Bar from Machiavelli Chocolates, a local chocolatier that liberally uses local ingredients. The Harold's Cheese Bar is dark chocolate with Malagos Blue Peppato cheese (mildly-aged cow's milk cheese with whole green pepper corn) from Davao. It's really chewy and delicious without the cloying sweetness of cheap chocolate. It's going to be big, especially now that Kris Aquino made an order for PNoy's birthday.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Turning 23

The last two weeks have been very busy, busy with dinners and get-togethers to celebrate my 23rd birthday. Like previous birthdays, I divided my time between friends and family to maximize the celebration (and the budget, sigh). It can get expensive to have separate parties, but since I'm still living with the folks, I'm going to throw that grand party when I get my own place.

The poster of Mamma Mia! On any given day, there are at least seven productions around the globe

My birthday kicked off on February 3 when the folks and I watched Mamma Mia! at the CCP. I'm a big fan of musicals and ABBA so I was really excited when my mom invited me to watch. I wanted to see the musical ever since I first heard about it last year, but I couldn't afford the tickets because I knew I'd be quitting my job soon. The show was a blast and I enjoyed every minute of it. Charlotte Wakefield's voice as Sophie wasn't strong, which was a bit disappointing, but Sara Poyzer made up for it by playing Donna Sheridan, the spirited mother who doesn't know which of three men is Sophie's father. Equally fabulous are her two friends Rosie and Tanya who were just as feisty as their counterparts in the film starring Meryl Streep. Overall, the production was great and I liked it. There's a reason why over 42 million people have seen the show. It's that great.

Causing a riot at Bon Chon, ATC

The next day, I met up with my friends from the paper to have snacks at Bon Chon, ATC. We had a jolly good time reminiscing the past and basically creating a riot in the packed restaurant while getting to know some of the new members of the team. They brought me a decadent-looking chocolate cake, and Charm, one of my writers, baked me a whole box of brownies that can rival that of Conti's.

The same night, I met up with my friends for dinner at A Veneto, BF Homes. It's a pizzeria that has branches in the US (started by a Filipino) and the food is just divine. The servings are so big that the five of us couldn't finish the pizza. The prices are affordable, too: P600+ for the largest pizza and P200+ for a plate of pasta, good to share. The ambience was great. We came around 10PM so it wasn't that crowded. For drinks, we headed to Tavern at Aguirre, where we got plastered on their signature drinks. Good, too.

On my actual birthday, my family and some family friends went to ATC to have dinner at Recipes. Now, I'm starting to doubt my love for eating because I never knew how good the food here was, considering it's been in Alabang for the longest time and I've been going here since I was a child. The food was incredibly delicious and affordable. We ordered over nine viands and lots of cups of rice, and our bill totaled P2,000, considering there were nine of us in the table. I can't wait to go back and eat there again, especially the General's Chicken.

Unfortunately, I have no pictures recording my birthday. I really should start using my camera. Sigh. But it was a great birthday because everyone I loved was there!

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