Friday, December 31, 2010

FINAL Project 365 For 2010!

.:365/365: On My Hopes For Magic In 2011:.

And so, after 364 other articles about magic... what have we learned?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Tribute To Mang Bert Timbol

.:Gone, But Not Forgotten:.

Mang Bert Timbol: 14 June, 1931 - 20 November, 2010.

This year was one of the most volatile years of my life, and it's been so hard to stay positive in the face of all the adversity I've ended up dealing with in 2010. I tried constructing a list of people I wanted to be thankful for this year, the way I did in the past how many years before, but for some reason, this year just wouldn't allow that. I think the most glaring change is that some of the people I was most grateful for last year are currently people I wish I never even met. When you hit that kind of resentment, it's hard to be all thanky-thanky, but I feel that throughout the year, there was only one person I could not in good conscience not thank at the end of 2010.

I really have only one man to be grateful for this 2010: my grandfather, Norberto Timbol.

In my life, there are two men that I admire more than any other men: my grandfather, and Rick Astley. Now, while I may have attended Rick Astley’s concert with front row tickets two years ago, I would’ve certainly done the same for my grandfather if he ever had his own concert. Besides, seeing how I have no musical talent whatsoever, it should be pretty obvious that despite all my adulation for Mr. Astley, even that pales in comparison to how highly I think of my grandfather.

When I was about five years old, I was struck down with a severe case of dengue, and found myself in critical condition while laying in the hospital. It was probably only one of two times I could recall where I was truly in mortal danger, and my entire family knew it.

My grandmother would always tell me this story when I was older: that my grandfather prayed hard and offered his life in exchange for mine. He prayed that the Lord take him in my place, just so I may survive. He prayed fervently, and it seemed God heard him: indeed, I survived.

But see, the Lord was good, and He ignored the other half of my grandfather’s prayer for the next 22 years, until finally, on 20 November, 2010, my grandfather passed away due to complications with his nine-year long bout with cancer. He was 79 years old.

Lolo Nor was larger than life to everyone else around him, but to his family, he was the best and most down-to-earth husband, father, and grandfather anyone could ever know or hope for. The fond memories I had of Lolo Nor are countless, and I will never forget that his kindness and gentleness for his family inevitably shows even for the very people he works with throughout his phenomenal career, both in Unilever and in MASSCOM.

He was an institution in the industry, and only in his passing did I personally realize that this was truly the case, seeing some of the movers and shakers of the media industry present day in and day out at Lolo Nor’s wake, when a calculated PR move would have simply required a single ten-minute visit instead. When the industry mourned the loss of Lolo Nor, they truly mourned for the loss of a great man. As someone who looked at Lolo Nor with the all-too casual eyes of familiarity, it struck me that as great as I thought Lolo Nor was, the man everyone else knew as Mang Bert was even greater than I could begin to fathom.

And with that realization of how devastating the loss of this man was to so many people who have known him even just in passing, one could only imagine the sense of loss his own family felt. I realize that everything I say right now may come off as cliché, but they are every bit true and every bit applicable. The devastation and the grief that washed over us was powerful and almost paralyzing, but with the strength of will and character Lolo Nor showed us throughout his life and until his very last moments, we couldn’t but follow his example and stay strong for each other. He would have wanted nothing less.

I’m grateful I never missed out to tell my Lolo Nor how much I loved him and appreciated him for the influence he has been to me. My insatiable appetite for knowledge and wisdom, my drive and stubbornness, all these qualities were born through his encouragement of me and my dreams, always reminding me that whatever I choose to do for myself, I should aim to not give myself room to regret the choices I would take.

I guess my greatest regret was that with his passing, he would never see me march onstage to receive my Masters Degree. And though I turn my back on the academe with that realization, I won’t turn my back on the lessons my grandfather has taught me in the 27 years of my life that he spent with me. I always joke that “bata pa lang ako, apo na ako ni Lolo,” but it is less of a joke and more of a testament of his drive to be the best in whatever he put his mind and heart into. From the moment he could call me his grandson, he resolved to be the best grandfather he could ever be, and he succeeded with flying colors. For that, I cannot thank him enough.

Before he passed, he made my grandmother swear to him that she would never put him on life support, no matter what. She reluctantly complied, but knew that he was ready for this moment for years. Lolo Nor lived a full life and was not afraid for himself in facing the other side: he was a great man with great faith. He knew he would be in a better place, and we know that, too. The cliché’s always go: it’s not the year you were born or the year you passed, but the dash in between. We do not mourn for him, but for ourselves, bereft of such a great human being. Whatever you may call them, they are absolutely true. We could only have wished to have more time to spend with Lolo Nor before his life’s mission was over. We know he lived a wonderful life. In spite of all that, the grief that overwhelms us reminds us just how much he loved us and how much we love him.

He was brilliant, he was passionate, he was steadfast, and he was truly one of a kind. He proved to me that you’re never too young or too old to learn something new, and it doesn’t matter how much you think you know, it’s how much you don’t know that would keep reminding you how much you should learn to live life rather than to let it pass you by.

You know, if I could ever be half the man my Lolo Nor was, I think I’d end up pretty okay already.

Godspeed to you, Lolo Nor. We miss you, but we know that you will always remain with us in our hearts, a constant inspiration and beacon to all of us whose lives you have touched. Thank you, we love you, and you will always be in our prayers.

Project 365 (364/365): On Being The Best Magician In The Philippines

.:364/365: On Being The Best Magician In The Philippines:.

I don’t think it’s such a bad thing for any performer worth their salt to be regarded as “the best magician in the Philippines,” if such a title could possibly be given to someone and undisputed at the same time. Recognition of one’s contributions, skill, and abilities as a magician would certainly be quite a boon, but alack and alas, it’s rather difficult for anyone to ever so much as give a conclusive answer to a person who’d ask me, “Hey, Kel, who do you think is the best magician in the Philippines?”

Project 365 Smorgasbord (361-363)

.:361/365: On The Self-Degradation Of The Art Form:.

Let me tell you a story but not mention any names. I have a feeling that if the person concerned would read this, though, he would pretty much know it’s him.

Anyways, there’s a reason why I no longer try to completely erase my background as a magician, and it’s not because I still do a lot of magic routines despite always ending my shows with a bunch of mentalism stunners.

It’s mainly because in the Philippines, among the booking people, “mentalism” is turning into quite a dirty word. And I don’t like it. Not one bit.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry F'N Christmas. Whoop-De-Doo.

.:On Taxis And Humbug:.

Taxis have officially ensured that I would continue my tradition of humbug-ness and have nothing but contempt for the entirety of the Christmas season yet again.

I think this past year has shown to me the kind of lengths people would go through all in the name of greed and selfishness, and it sickens me to the core that they are doing it all in the name of having a “merry Christmas.”

Newsflash, you jack@$$: you’re not the only one celebrating the holidays.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The PBA 2010 Personal Roundup

.:The 2010 Philippine Blog Awards Retrospective:.

Movie poster moment! (Image courtesy of Ryan H)

This year was a year where blogging has gained mainstream recognition in ways we never thought possible a mere year or two ago. From the very express inclusion of bloggers in the campaign plans of most candidates to the strides bloggers have taken to effect change within this nation, 2010 was a continuation of the seeds planted in 2009 that really shone at its brightest in the aftermath of Ondoy.

Project 365 Smorgasbord (357-360)

.:357/365: On The Sleight Vs. Gimmick Debate:.

Some purists in the magic industry have been rather vocal in the past about their aversion for using gimmicks to achieve an effect when a sleight (No matter how difficult it happens to be.) could be utilized instead. Even more annoyingly, they turn their noses up at people who love their gimmicked items as if it makes these performers any less of a magician for not being able to use dexterity to achieve magic.

As one of those magicians who does love his gimmicks, I can’t help but scoff at this misguided notion, because at the end of the day, it’s all the same to the audience, and as most people who know me are quick to point out, that’s really all I care about.

The difference between using a gimmick and using paid actors is the difference between a Criss Angel magic show and one you could actually do live. As most skeptics like to point out when they demonstrate how they duplicate “psychic” abilities, if they can do it with no powers, yet charlatans insist that they do it with powers, then these charlatans are doing things the hard way for no good reason whatsoever.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Project 365 (356/365): On Longevity In The Industry

.:356/365: On Longevity In The Industry:.

We’ve seen so many magicians who have come and gone like the proverbial flash in the pan in the industry, but the ones we almost universally look up to are the Burtons, Hilarios, and Copperfields of the world, who have managed to capture the imagination of their audiences and with each passing decade, have successfully managed to reinvent themselves to stay relevant and marketable for bookers worldwide.

What does it take for a magician to last as long as these luminaries have? Is it all about being at the right place at the right time? Skill? Personability? Or do we go with the cliché, “a combination of all the right tools?” In actuality, I believe it has a lot to do with flexibility, more than anything else.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Project 365 (353/365): On Being As Good As Your Last Show

.:353/365: On Being As Good As Your Last Show:.

A jock I know told me a long time ago: you’re only as good as your last boardwork.

In a lot of things, that holds true. So let me tell you about my last show, but before that, let me tell you about my worst one...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Project 365 Smorgasbord (349-352)

.:349/365: On The Philippine Online Magic Community:.

With The Story Circle as one of the most recognizable websites about Philippine magic among the younger generations and stellar blogs like Leodini’s holding up the banner for the Philippines in the international community, the Philippines is fairly well-represented in the online magic community. There are a ton of videos on YouTube showcasing our craft, and a lot of it happens to be pretty good, to say the least.

We have a pretty solid community, and thankfully, most of our “infighting” remains just that: infighting. The international community is relatively insulated from any controversies within our little corner of the world, unless it’s something the entire Philippine community stands behind. And that’s nice, really. The rest of the world doesn’t need to know which magician is feuding with whom in the Philippines – although they’d best be informed which undesirables are deemed so by the community at large. Sure, the united front may give other people the misconception that everything is hunky-dory in the Philippine magic scene, but anyone can read between the lines, and they can get down to the nitty-gritty if and only if they want to, rather than the whole mess being in plain sight for everyone to see and pick at in their free time.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Project 365 (348/365): On Philippine TV Magic

.:348/365: On Philippine TV Magic:.

There’s a lot of magic on Philippine television lately, and in this case, I’d want to focus mainly on non-exposure features of magic, for starters.

Philippine TV has had its fair share of magic programs, whether they be full-blown TV specials, or even regular TV shows. Currently, Wow, Meganon has segments featuring Jeff Tam and Wanlu, albeit Wanlu has focused on his ventriloquism at this point.

Nonetheless, there has been a lot of television airtime featuring magic from Filipinos, and it’s a bit funny and sad that in terms of fresh ideas, the regular TV shows have a lot more of them than the TV specials, seeing how nearly every single TV special aired so far has been a spiritual ripoff of a western one, and that practically every single effect that has been performed has been done before in a western one. It’s not even just the fact that these effects have been shown before, it’s that all the pizzazz and sizzle from the previous ones were stripped away in the localized performances.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Project 365 (347/365): On Skeptics

.:347/365: On Skeptics:.

Skeptics aren’t necessarily hecklers, but you can spot them a mile away. These are the people who look at a mentalist and assume that trickery is involved. Which is pretty funny half the time when you realize that mentalists are pretty forthcoming about revealing to everyone that they utilize psychological gambits and other similar methods to achieve their results. Or they just do exactly what they claim to say, consequences be damned.

Skeptics look at magic with a certain air of disdain. While not all of them will challenge a magician onstage, you can just tell they’re rolling their eyes at a performer because the whole thing feels beneath them and an insult to their intelligence that someone could so much as pretend to have magic powers when everybody knows that simply isn’t the case.

Project 365 (346/365): On Hecklers

.:346/365: On Hecklers:.

It’s happened to the best of us. We’re out there, minding our own business, performing for a most appreciative audience. Then there’s this one guy who looks at the whole thing sternly with his arms crossed, and he couldn’t help but feel envious that the magician is the centre of attraction now and for the next, oh, five minutes or so.

He walks up to you, and tells you with so much conviction: that’s fake. That’s not real magic. You look at him, dumbstruck. He’s what? 25, maybe 27 years old, and he still believes in real magic? Is something wrong with him? Next thing you know, he tries to grab your cards when he thinks you’re doing something funny, he chalks up all those sleepless nights he spent watching the Masked Magician as he tries to reveal your secrets, and clearly, everyone else is just tolerating this guy because he’s their friend.

Thankfully, you’re not, and with people like those, do you really want to be?

Welcome to the experience of being heckled. Consider yourself unlucky if you’ve never gone through this before, because heaven help you if you get so big and successful before your first one comes along to ruin your style and to wreck your day.

Hecklers never fail to get the goat of magicians. You will find on magician’s forums endless topics devoted to how to deal with them and at times, even wish fulfilment fantasy of showing them up and putting them in their place through some brilliant means or some other. In reality, though, there is no one surefire way to deal with them.

Some hecklers are best ignored. Others are best played along with. Still others are best maimed and left a bloody pulp on the ground. The rare breed are best taken out for dinner and a movie. Regardless, a lot of attention has been showered on these hecklers, but we haven’t even come close to solving the problem yet. And while it’s a bit disastrous to have magicians getting heckled, I can safely say that comedians have it tougher when it comes to hecklers.

And you know the worst thing about it? More often than not, your first ever hecklers would be family. It’s one of the most disheartening things to encounter, but it’s so commonplace already that it’s like a rite of passage. If you could actually impress your family, then you’re on your way to something good.

Really, when it comes to hecklers, there’s only one applicable advice at all times: get better. Whether it’s your magic that needs to improve, or your spectator management skills, you just get better, and it wouldn’t matter if former president GMA herself were heckling you.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Kris Aquino's Dalaw: Unfortunate Implications And Fridge Logic

.:May Dalaw Sa Disyembre?:.

Wow. Just wow.

I don't know what Kris Aquino was thinking when she signed onto this program, but there's something about having a movie entitled "Dalaw" and a poster tinged with lots and lots of red that puts me off.

Now, imagine if this kind of mental acumen was put to good use, giving rise to a whole new bunch of films?

First, we'd have a starrer featuring how the MMDA, in all its power, has ended up having way too many people just trying to suck up to them in order to curry their favor. In short...

This couldn't possibly be taken for anything else, right?

Next, we'd have a movie about how a young lady finds true love, only to discover that things weren't as beautiful as they seem, and now she is caught in a web of lies and deceit: a prisoner in the truest sense of the word.

Absolutely no alternative meaning can be derived from this!

And of course, the piece de resistance, as it stars a young doctor who works in the boondocks as a medical missionary, giving vaccinations to poor indigents. Here, he discovers love in the most unlikely of places...

What else could we be implying, right?

With a lineup of movies like these, I think it's safe to say that the Philippine film industry will be reaching its glory days in no time at all!

Project 365 Smorgasbord (343-345)

.:343/365: On Overexposure:.

Ever felt that there’s more magic all around us than ever? What used to be a rare, at best occasional treat, has become so commonplace that, well, the magic is gone. The video above features an excellent bit of magic, but because the Coin Bite has been so used on so many shows so many times already, even a stellar performance from Cyril Takayama can’t overshadow the routine’s overexposure.

How many TV shows have featured magicians at some point? In local TV alone, you could see a ton of magicians on their talent shows, a few more in their noontime shows, and even a bunch of them in their daily talk shows. News programs have some magicians involved, TV 5 in particular has shows that either feature magicians or expose magic, and it’s hard to think of a single wee of TV programming without any magicians showing up at some point.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Double Film Review Time!

.:Film Review: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 1:.

Clearly, I can’t take my own pictures to save my life.

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 1
At last, the end is near...


Project 365 (342/365): On Feuding Magicians

.:342/365: On Feuding Magicians:.

Apparently, magic isn’t spared from feuds, intrigues, and controversies, and there have been quite a number of them over the decades. While I’m sure revealing the details behind the not-so-blatant feud between Criss Angel and David Blaine is quite a thrill for some, overall, I can’t really think of how magician feuds benefit the industry, to begin with.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

A Whole Lotto Fun

A Whole Lotto Fun
By Marcelle Fabie

Nation, there is truly nothing greater than feeling joy and happiness for the good fortune of another person. It feels as if there is a kind of bond that we manage to share with those who are so blessed: a sharing of joy and happiness that cannot but lift our spirits as we vicariously bask in the glory of those whom we congratulate and wish nothing but the best for.

We are a country that shares in the victories of our heroes, whether in the realm of sports like Manny Pacquiao and Efren Bata Reyes; or in the realm of music, like Lea Salonga and Charice Pempengco. We recognize that the victory of one of our countrymen is the victory of the nation as a whole. And even if it were a foreigner who has found themselves in the company of the Filipino people, such as Korean superstar Sandara Park or former beauty queen Dayanara Torres, the Filipino people also shares in their triumphs.

That being said, I hope whoever won the 740M pot in the last lottery draw disappears from the face of the earth for all eternity, the rotten bastich.

Was it not the eminent Archbishop Cruz who condemned this anonymous winner for all eternity by letting him know that he or she stole this money from the Filipino people? Clearly, a person who bought a ticket for twenty pesos stole 740 million pesos from all of us, no matter how illogical that sounds. After all, how dare somebody win a lottery, right? These things were supposed to be a tax on people who are bad with math, yet somehow, someone broke those odds. And for that, we have to begrudge them.

And nation, everything’s better with Tim Yap, considering how famous he made Miko Morelos by tweeting that the man actually won the lottery. Let’s not let the fact that he was merely reporting about someone winning the lottery nor the fact that for the sake of protecting a person, the names of lottery winners are withheld get in the way of Tim Yap’s insatiable desire to get a scoop despite being about as credible a journalist as 1:43 would if they came up with a documentary about quality music.

With a lynch mob out for the scalp of Miko Morelos for his (non-existent) good fortune, is it any wonder that we patriotic Filipinos cannot feel anything but utter pride in how classy we have become as a nation in the face of good fortune and triumph? After all, we merely want to spare this poor, anonymous (Possibly Korean) lottery winner from a lifetime of misery that would beset them if they took that prize money.

Statistics have been clear about how many big lottery winners have ended up being worse off financially after everything because of paranoia, exorbitant spending, and fair-weathered friends (and even wives) all teaming up to do a number on a winner who, in the end, feels more like a loser after everything. We don’t want that fate upon them, and in wishing they would share the burden of 740 million sinful Pesos with the rest of us, perhaps we could mitigate such a Herculean task.

And really, we patriotic Filipinos have nothing but the best of intentions at heart for our anonymous winner. With the destruction upon one’s life that 740 million pesos can wreak, one can only hope that they would not allow this misery to befall our unknown friend.

In the end, no matter how much money one may win, all the money in the world can never buy them class. The kind of class we patriotic Filipinos already have in buckets.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Project 365 Two-Fer (339-365): On The Next Generation

Before anything else, in case you missed our Christmas show last Friday, "My Idea Of A Perfect Christmas Show (Sayang hindi namin nakuha si Jose Mari Chan...)," you can catch snippets of it tonight on TV5, after Willing Willie, on the TV Show Wow Meganon!

Hope you guys like it, as we definitely pulled out all the stops for that show. :)

.:340/365: On The Ellusionist Culture:.

I’ve touched upon this in the past, but it’s something that bears repeating: Ellusionist has been both one the biggest boons and banes for the magic industry in the last decade, arguably next only to David Blaine (Criss Angel is a bane to the industry, period.). Through Ellusionist, we ushered in a whole new breed of magicians, with a throng of young performers who have been reared on the style crafted by the E to reach out to the next millennium’s budding magicians.

While Ellusionist did its part in spreading the love for magic for a new generation, it did so with an inordinate emphasis on only one particular aspect: street magic. By positing the classical acts of Copperfield and Hennig as “old-fashioned” and “cliché,” they ended up indirectly disrespecting the facets of magic that actually paved the way for them to make an impression on the industry and in the mainstream all at the same time.

It was a stroke of genius on their part, really: they made magic seem cool all over again, and anchored it on the misleading premise that anyone can be a magician, and magicians will always impress people, without allowing their would-be clients a chance to glance at the fine print: yes, anyone can be a magician, but only if they work at it. Yes, magicians will impress people, but only if they’re actually any good at it. While retreading age-old material just given a new and edgy twist may seem like an excellent way to milk money, it isn’t a very viable one in the long term. Ellusionist is succeeding and will continue to succeed, but mostly because of an excellent marketing team rather than any actual substance behind
the things that they do.

This isn’t to say that the E is completely bereft of substance, but it’s impossible to ignore how much more sizzle than steak can be found in almost all of their recent releases. After the initial onrush of great material, they began to rely more on their slick production values than in actually coming up with effects that really turned magic on its head.

All things considered, I like that there are more magicians than ever, but I also hate that there are more magicians than ever. To be honest, one can’t blame Ellusionist for this lack of regard for magic as an art form, but simply a matter of statistics: as more people want to learn magic, there will be more people who will want to learn it for the wrong reasons, be it for exposure, just scoring some one-night stands, or any other less than delightful motives. At the same time, couple this with the YouTube culture that we would have to discuss tomorrow, and you have a recipe for disaster.

It’s a huge burden, but the onus needs to be shared by Ellusionist to uphold magic and continue elevating it on their own turf. At the moment, they’re doing well coasting along on their success, but there’s no reason for them to not want to take it to the next level if it means that it will benefit everyone in the industry. How they could do it remains to be seen, though, because clearly, their current methods have reached an upper limit, and something drastic needs to happen to make that next transition.

.:341/365: On The YouTube Generation:.

Ever noticed how a good magic trick on YouTube would never go without having some smartass commenter divulging how the trick works? Heck, the video above? That’s proof in the pudding right there.

Welcome to the YouTube Generation of magic: a place where poor performances, exposure, and outright bootlegging of full videos are commonplace and unstoppable. If you thought torrent was dangerously hurtful to magic, YouTube is probably infinitely worse.

Ever wanted to learn how to do a magic trick? Just go to any YouTube video online, and either there’s a video out there that teaches the trick, or you could see a performer flub the trick so bad you’d know how he did it, or you could see an excellent performance filled with commenters who just have to tell you how it’s done and kill the faerie for everyone else.

While it has been an excellent platform to showcase magic, it has, in my estimate, done more harm than good to the magic industry. Really. Why would the average person want to pay money to see a good magic act when not only can they see the same performance on YouTube, they can even find out how it’s done afterwards?

And I guess that’s exactly why you would never find my full act online, for fear of eliminating any surprises I have up my sleeve as a performer. I like being able to keep people guessing what I would do next, and how free-flowing my performances can be. Having my full act on YouTube ruins that spontaneity because there are no more unexpected bits and pieces to my show, so the entire audience can potentially brace themselves against anything I can cough up, which is a crying shame, really.

The YouTube generation hasn’t really inspired a new generation of magicians. Instead, it has given an avenue for killing faeries wholesale, whether it be the likes of the Mythbusters (More on them next time.) or just your average sub-par magician botching the trick to the point of exposure. It doesn’t do a whole lot of instilling respect for the art form, and instead perpetuates the notion that anyone can do magic and that it’s nothing but trickery, and all trickery is bad. As it feeds into the cycle of denigrating the perception of magic, I feel that the gains it may have garnered for the magic industry in terms of dissemination and exposure are not enough to undo the damage it has caused upon the respect for the secrecy of the art form, as it has become so casual and widespread that it’s no longer a big deal to do exposure the way Valentino’s actions used to be such a huge issue for us.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Project 365 Smorgasbord (336-338)

Before anything else, thanks to everyone who made last night's "My Idea Of A Perfect Christmas Show (Sayang, hindi namin nakuha si Jose Mari Chan...)" a huge success, from the audience to our performers, Jay Mata, yours truly, the Comedy Cartel's Richie Fernandez and GB Labrador, and Talentadong Pinoy's second hall of famer, the world-class ventriloquist, Wanlu and his puppets.

Also much thanks to my consultant for the event, the Boss, Rannie Raymundo.

.:336/365: On Exposure:.

The topic that almost unanimously ticks the magic industry off, exposure has always been considered as the knife that plunges into the heart of the industry every single time it happens.

During the times of the Vaudevillian magicians, it was commonplace for them to steal their tricks from each other, so they ended up turning to patents and the like in order to protect their routines. Unfortunately, this meant that the workings of their routines would become matters of public record, thereby allowing any unscrupulous performer to steal a magic routine with ease, to begin with, or just killing the fairy itself, so to speak.

From magicians stealing from each other to laymen feeling slighted at not learning how these apparent miracles are done, the resentment for the secrecy of magic grew and grew, and when Valentino came along, things rose to a fevered pitch. The greatest secrets of magic became available for anyone who’d care to watch a television special.

As if that weren’t enough, the dawn of the YouTube generation brought about a general lack of respect for magic’s secrets: half of the people who do magic onscreen expose it unintentionally through poor performances or poor camera angles or snide comments they allow to get through, or intentionally make videos to expose magic, to begin with.

The general excuse for exposure has been to challenge magicians to “evolve.” The challenge is for them to come up with new ideas to revolutionize magic until someone sees it fit to unveil the secrets again, as if any one person actually had the right to go out there and strip people from their livelihood just because they feel like it or because they want to put some logs in the punch bowl.

But see, I can’t say exposure has always been bad. If anything, what is truly bad about exposure is the general disrespect that is thrown towards magicians while the exposure goes on. “These are all tricks! Don’t be fooled!” As if anyone is stupid enough to believe George Clooney was really a doctor. Or Batman. But no, these things just keep going on, and there’s little the magic community can do to stop people who just want to expose their secrets willy-nilly.

In contrast, the way Penn and Teller expose magic may get magicians up in arms, but it has certainly done its job in raising the profile of magic. More often than not, their exposure of a magic trick actually proves how difficult magic is, and how it takes skill to actually pull anything off.

And this is why I hate the term “may daya,” or in English, that the magician “cheats.” Looking at the sheer amount of skill a Rannie Raymundo has in manipulating coins to appear and disappear at will, it becomes rather disrespectful to say that what he does to achieve this is “cheating” when in reality, what he does is extremely difficult. Cheating connotes that something difficult is made easy. Magicians are very well capable of doing difficult things and making them look easy. Is that cheating? Of course not. That’s talent.

And with that, we see how exposure has become a devastating facet to the magic industry: while it does have its share of elevating the art form and entertaining people more, it also emboldens these same people to think that the art of magic isn’t an art worth respecting at all. If only for that, I tend to look at exposure with a wary eye, no matter how liberal I may be about my stand on the issue.

.:337/365: On Creating A Magician Persona:.

Whenever I watch a performer onstage, I always look out for their performing persona. Believe it or not, this oft-ignored facet of a performer’s total package can spell the difference between a successful performer and another brick on the wall. Just ask David Blaine, who was originally every bit as animated as your regular street hustler.

You see, how you project yourself onstage allows the audience to form an immediate opinion about you. This can work to your advantage or disadvantage, depending on what character you choose and how well you portray it. If anyone remembers “The Prestige,” we’ve seen performers who absolutely lived and died by their characters and refused to let anyone outside of their personal circles find out that the character is all just an act. Few people knew Chung Ling Soo, the Chinese mystic who was fatally shot while doing his bullet catch routine, wasn’t even Chinese to begin with, but a full-blooded American. Obviously, Teller can actually talk. Derren Brown plays a suave and debonair character, yet happens to be gay in real life.

When you add all of these things up, you understand that even a performer who hardly changes how he is onstage and offstage still plays a character onstage, even if it’s just an extension of one’s real personality. The character one projects determines the confidence level of the performer as well, because if the performer isn’t at home with the character, it will show. A good character can enhance the simplest of magic acts. Who would’ve thought that a simple two-card monte would become legendary in the hands of David Blaine? Yet notice how many two-bit magicians do some amazing illusions as done by Copperfield, yet get reactions of people rolling their eyes in boredom. I can assure you that if Copperfield himself did the exact same routine in front of these people, more than half of these seemingly jaded viewers wouldn’t react the same way.

We’ve seen mentalists who insist on coming off as satanic. Their very intense and occult personality intimidates audiences and puts them at a level where nobody would dare question if what they do were legitimate or otherwise. We’ve seen comedy magicians who are a laugh a minute, but know when to reel in the comedy when the magic needs to be the focus of attention. Of course, we also know some comedy magicians who don’t know how to reel it in, but the less said about Bearwin Meily, the better.

It doesn’t matter what character you portray, you need to be able to live it once you’re onstage. I think of some of the best workers in the wrestling industry, and I can’t help but feel that they’re the best because they know how to live their gimmick, no matter how ridiculous it can get. Think about it: how easy was it for Mark Calloway to get over a character of an undead zombie in the ring? The Undertaker had camp and ham written all over it, but the man behind the gimmick knew what it took to make it work. That’s the same thing a magician needs to get over as well: one needs to show that they are at home with what they are doing, unless it’s really their act to fool people into thinking they’re not.

Speaking of magic and wrestling, that reminds me of tomorrow’s topic...

.:338/365: On The Magic-Wrestling Connection:.

Aaaaaaaaaaand I have no shame. In the above video, you will find one of the most embarrassing chapters (Though one ought to be grateful it was a short one.) of the WWF/E’s storied history, where they tried to push a magician/wrestler named Phantasio. This was reportedly his first and only match on WWF TV, and with good reason: the two things simply didn’t mix too well inside the ring, although I can tell you that they probably would mix better onstage, where the magicians are.

Magic and wrestling are both, in my humble opinion, art forms. I have a deep respect for both of them, but regrettably am adept with only one of them. Maybe if I could take unbelievable amounts of pain the way those pro wrestlers do, but alas, I don’t have that kind of intestinal fortitude.

Having said that, the similarities between magic and wrestling don’t end there. Both are looked down upon as carnival fare. Both rely on suspension of disbelief from the audience in order for them to get a good reaction from their audiences. Both have their ridiculous shares of blowhard know-it-alls who challenge the performers because they think that just because it’s an act means that there’s no merit, skill, or art in what they do at all.

And really, when people think of it that way, it’s such a crying shame. Just because we know in advance who’s going to win. I always like to say that wrestling is scripted, but it isn’t fake. When someone falls off from the top of a cage onto the cold, hard, floor, there’s no amount of padding that would make that completely painless. If you don’t believe me, try jumping on your mattress on the ground floor from the top of the stairs and see if it doesn’t hurt at all.

And really, why single magic and wrestling out? Aren’t actors just more of the same? Why do they get a pass and the former two don’t? Is it because people just really have this insatiable desire to prove that they’re smart by going out of their way to reveal that magic and wrestling aren’t real? Newsflash: nobody gives a flying eff. People came to be entertained, and that’s really what you should be expecting when you go there.

So I guess it’s a bit disappointing for me that Phantasio never really got over in the WWF. I think it would’ve been cool if he churned out some more routines en route to the ring. What could he have pulled off, right? The possibilities were countless.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Giddiness Galore

.:Giddiness Galore:.


Last Tuesday, I performed with my friends from the Comedy Cartel for a comedienne’s birthday in 77 Cafe. Now, this was a blast, and our open mic the next day was more of the same, but something about Tuesday night really stood out, and I can’t help but think about it with utter giddiness.

See, I was introduced to the comedienne’s friends as Kel, and one of them, upon finding out that I was a comedy magician, asked me if I knew a Marcelle Fabie. I looked at her, blinked, and said meekly that I was Marcelle. She didn’t recognize me, and neither did I recognize her.

That was, until she started jogging my memory. First, she reminded me that I was the aunt of a friend of mine. Unfortunately, I had three friends with the same name, so I was still drawing a blank. Then, she told me she was the mom of someone I knew very well, because this girl was someone I was very smitten by the first and only time I met her.

As the rest of the night unfolded, things just went unbelievably well, and while nothing is set in stone, hey, I definitely broke into a genuine smile for once in a long time.

I’m giddy. And I deserve to be.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Project 365 (334/365): December Is Magical Essays Month

.:334/365: December Is Magical Essays Month:.

With less pictures and videos this month, the final month of this Project 365 will be ample walls of text that I hope would leave their mark on the magic community in a constructive manner. As a great fan of the art form, I certainly want to contribute to the elevation of magic whether in my country or worldwide by chiming in and throwing ideas meant to benefit the industry through the limited experience and knowledge that I have.

Perhaps I may or may not touch a controversial nerve over the course of this next month. Either way, I wholeheartedly encourage fellow performers who may stumble upon my blog to let your voices be heard. If you agree or disagree or have other ideas about magic and the issues besetting the industry today, I’d be more than happy to allow you the opportunity to let my humble blog become a soapbox for you to air out your thoughts. Heaven knows that the magic industry could do with a little more candor and a little less of silent suffering.

It has been an amazing year of doing this Project 365, even if I certainly had some days or weeks where I was clearly just coasting along. Still, when I found a particular month worthwhile to put effort in, it clearly showed, and the Mentalism, Filipino, and Escapology months were all the better for it, as well as some of the other earlier months that may have slipped my mind.

There are so many problems plaguing the magic industry today, and I wish to look at them in my own personal way and try to see where the problem stems from, and if within my capacity, suggest ways to alleviate these problems. It can only be hoped that this would result in some constructive brainstorming, and perhaps, other people in the industry would take heed and refine these ideas. If any magicians would like to share their own essays as well, just drop me an e-mail at, and I’d be more than happy to credit you and publish your thoughts on this platform.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Project 365 (333/365): And Now, A Final Word On The Supernatural...

.:333/365: And Now, A Final Word On The Supernatural...:.

I didn’t really offer much in the way beyond just describing the things I showed in the past month, and to be honest, I was hard-pressed to fill up a whole month with nothing but stuff pertaining to the paranormal. It was sort of a success, but I know there was so much ground I could’ve covered but I didn’t.

This sounds funny coming from a guy who deals with magic on a professional level, but I’m a true-blue skeptic. I don’t like believing in things I have no evidence for, which would’ve made me the prototype rational thinker if it weren’t for the fact that I’m not an atheist at all. There is a wide gap between what we know and what we don’t know, and while I like to have proof before I believe in something for the most part, I also like to have proof before I don’t believe in something, no matter how ludicrous it might come across on initial consideration.

So do I believe in any of the supernatural phenomena I have describe the past month? Well, I’m open to being happily educated that they are real. Or not-so-happily, given how grim some of these things are. Either way, I’m healthily sceptical and wouldn’t take anything at face value, and in today’s day and age, that’s actually a very sober notion, when you think about it.

One can only hope that as the years go by, and these phenomena are proven or disproven once and for all, the sense of wonder people have don’t ever disappear. Let’s face it: it’s the one thing that keeps magicians in business. The sense of wonder and failing that, the willing suspension of disbelief in a magical performance. Without any of these things, I guess magic would be doomed into obscurity as a lost art form.

This is merely a preview for my last month of Project 365: A month I devote to magical issues and my thoughts on these various issues. Hopefully, my essays and my reflections on them would do justice to the magic community at large.

Monday, November 29, 2010

An Onrush

.:Ripe With Potential:.

Chino Liao introduced me humorously as the potential headliner for last week’s open mic in Votre Bar, and that potential was abruptly ruined when four other excellent comics showed up to make sure that the show will go on well after I’m done.

Despite that, I had arguably my best pure/almost pure standup set of the year last night, as for some reason, my jokes were all resonating with the audience. I suppose it helps that a lot of them have never heard me do my stuff before and the other comics actually built me up as a headliner of sorts, so when I did my jokes, they actually regarded me as a headliner.

Overall, a fun night for standup. I was exceptionally proud of my set, as I managed to mesh old and new material together in a warm, fuzzy package of hearty laughs.

This week was more of the same, more so with a short tribute to someone very significant in my life. I’m exceptionally happy how that whole thing turned out, because open mic has been my refuge from the hurly-burly of work as of late.

.:A Mini Review Of Toki...:.

Ate twice already in Toki, and my first time out, I couldn’t help but compare it to Tokyo Tokyo. Sacrilege? Not quite, because our plucky fastfood restaurant was actually on par with my beef Tepanyaki experience from Toki, and considering the price difference, that was majorly disappointing.

Nonetheless, I think they redeemed themselves when I had some of their Gindara...

Unlike real food bloggers, it occurred to me to take a picture only *after* I was halfway done.

At about 620 pesos, there’s no question about it: the Gindara was worth the price. There’s something amazing about eating fish that tastes like pork barbecue, minus all the guilt of eating pork barbecue. Adding on some of their seafood fried rice at 190 pesos was great as well. They went pretty well together, to say the least.

So, this non-food blogger heartily recommends their Gindara, but stay away from the beef rice bowl, since their “fusion” means they use local ingredients, and at those prices, that’s highway robbery. The Gindara’s awesome, and I’d imagine their Wagyu’s great, too, but since I was on a seafood diet, (I sea food, I eat it.) I decided to go for the fish instead.

I may not be a true-blue food blogger, but I definitely like to eat, and tend to go out of my way to try nearly anything once, when it comes to food. Toki is worth a try, definitely.

I even had a nice meal with the family last night in EDSA Shang, but since my family ate the food faster than I could photos of the food, well, I think I’ll skip out doing a review of that one.

.:Yeah, BOI!:.

So – it was the launch of Battle Of Immortals, brought to you by the folks of Cubinet, and it was quite an eye-opener.

On official business for Nuffnang, I was set to cover the event and talk to the brass of the company, but I couldn’t help but take a good look at their new MMORPG, Battle Of Immortals, which they were not only launching that day, but were even having sneak peeks of through multiple NEO computers set up to run the game. The game reminded me of your regular dungeon-crawling game, but with the bells and whistles that takes it well into the next generation of gaming. As a guy who has been a big fan of Diablo II, this is one of those games that definitely grabs my attention.

Anyways, aside from the game launch itself, and since it was in Centerstage, a videoke showdown had to happen for a Nokia C3. Now, see, I wasn’t intent on joining at all, particularly because they didn’t tell us that there was going to be a videoke showdown before they called for volunteers.

And then they sang Backstreet Boys.

Alex Villafania was first with “As Long As You Love Me,” followed by another guy who did “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back).” However, the third guy didn’t know the lyrics to “Get Down,” and as I was singing along with new acquaintance and fellow Atenean Karen De Vera, they ended up asking me to take over the duties instead of singing in my seat. So I did. And I won.

Moral of the story: it pays to know your BSB. I did have to sell the phone off already, though, since I kinda prefer Android phones at this juncture, and my new LG Optimus One is just made of win. Angry Birds for free? Sign me right up! And yes, I bought it at full price. Didn’t need to fall in line for a phone well worth it at full price, since I didn’t want to compete with a thousand other people for it.

.:Ermm... Go Red Mango?:.

I like frozen yogurt, I really do. While I have no clear favourites, I tend to go to Red Mango, Qoola, and Pancake House to get my fix.

Needless to say, I was overjoyed when I discovered Red Mango has a loyalty card. After all, this would give me all the reason in the world to have fro-yo exclusively from them. I felt this way until I, well, took a good look at the Loyalty Card reward...

Ummm, yeah.

So, for a bunch of Red Mango trips, I’d end up meeting and greeting the guys from Boys Night Out. Oh, wait, scratch that. I’d get a *chance* to meet them. As if seeing them everytime I swing by 99.5RT not enough.

Well, looks like I’ll keep dropping by the other yogurt shops, then. The boys are awesome, but I don’t think I need to win a raffle to drop in and say “hi” to them...


Apparently, the MMDA has created a new office, called the Traffic and Transport Management Office, or TTMO for short. I wish this were just a silly, sophomoric joke, but they did it. And you can see their patches proudly displaying the fact when they accost you on the streets now.

As this blog is an all-ages friendly blog with the occasional PG material thrown in, I think it would be best that I don’t go into detail on the limitless material this is allowing me to come up with. LOL.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

.:My Idea Of A Perfect Christmas Show!:.

We're baaaaack!

Kel and Jay are back for their annual fundraiser show, and like always, we're pulling out all the stops as we conquer Votre Bar along with Comedy Cartel's Richie Fernandez and GB Labrador, and world-class ventriloquist and Talentadong Pinoy's second hall of famer, Wanlu and his puppets! Yet another night of laughs and gasps, as can be expected only from an ensemble cast like this!

It's happening this December 3, 8:30PM, in Votre Bar, corner ABS-CBN, right beside East of St. Louis. For the benefit of the Real Life Foundation, tickets are only 200 each, inclusive of a consumable drink.

No question about it: this is My Idea Of A Perfect Christmas Show. Now, if we could only get Jose Mari Chan to perform...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Clearing The Backblogging...

.:Laughing It Out:.

Let the good times roll!

Last Saturday was a night for the ages as Comedy Cartel and Take-Out Comedy came together to bring an amazing show that I was thankfully witness to. With sixteen comics in one night, it was more comics than you could ever hope for, and each and every one of them delivered that night.

Meeting some of the comics from Hong Kong for the first time has been very entertaining, and performing for them after their sets, doing psychokinesis for them, has left quite an impression on them, and two more forks from Votre Bar aren’t ever coming back, after everything’s been said and done. Heh.

Doing shows for a cause has always been something I’ve been a big fan of, so I’m still hoping to have one of my own before the year ends, particularly with Mr. Jay Mata, as we try to deliver yet another Kel and Jay night for the ages, albeit most likely in a smaller venue, like, say, Votre Bar as well.

Belated happy birthday to Caca and much thanks for making this awesome event possible. I’d love to say more, but it was just an exhilarating event that you had to be there to fully appreciate. It certainly didn’t hurt that I made the acquaintance of one Chrisha that night, as well...

Pictures borrowed from Anna.

.:Ehra, Ehra, Ehra, Hey, Hey, Hey...:.

Talk about perfect timing.

One of the few times I decide to go to 99.5 RT, and I discover that the Madrigal sisters were promoting their latest FHM issue.

I’m at a loss for words, really. This was an awesome episode.

.:Twitter, Wat?:.

Really? You think I’d be the kind of person who’d care about what Tim Yap has to say?


Project 365 Smorgasbord (328-332)

.:328/365: The Karnival Of Magick Compilation:.

Now I know what I want for Christmas.

I’m a huge fan of Bizarre Magick routines, albeit I must admit that I have very few of them in my repertoire. To be honest, I always wanted to do one of Andruzzi’s classics, but it turns out that the ingredients I require to pull it off are no longer in production, which is a crying shame, really.

So here I am, watching the preview video, and while I’m not entirely sold on the author as a legitimate character for Bizarre Magick, I’m sold on his actual effects. He looks a little too kind, a little too gentle for the character to truly work, but the thing is, if you could transcend that, then things are bound to be very interesting, as really, Bizarre Magick has even less practitioners than mentalism, and this market is ripe for the picking.

.:329/365: Pyrokinesis:.

Here’s a skill I’m not very comfortable with picking up, because truth be told, the days of playing with fire are long behind me.

If you’ve seen me do poi, that isn’t me playing with fire at all. If anything, it’s me treating fire with an immense amount of respect, simply because I’ve been excessively careful in preventing any untoward incidents while I do my thing, and I always take the proper safety precautions when I’m going at it.

That being said, pyrokinesis, or the ability to control fire, is a talent some performers have demonstrated in the past. It’s tough, it’s dangerous, but it’s definitely impressive. Maybe, just maybe, I could incorporate it into my repertoire at some point.

.:330/365: Bruised:.

Shades of “Stigmata,” which counts as both a bizarre and mentalist routine, albeit the whole thing about “Bruised” is that it’s more visual, but obviously less impromptu.

Have a person choose a card, and after getting hit, you manifest a bruise that indicates the chosen card. It’s a pretty simple script, but it gets a lot of mileage because it’s one of those routines that you just can’t help but be impressed by on paper.

.:331/365: The Spirit Slate:.

Imagine if your every thought could be read not by a mentalist, but by the spirits around you. Imagine that within the slates that are clean and empty, you will find that the very thoughts you have come up with materialize eerily on their erstwhile pristine surfaces.

This is the Spirit Slate effect, and it has been one that has seen a lot of performers who have taken this effect to great heights, Richard Osterlind being one of them.

.:332/365: The Haunted Handkerchief:.

With no thanks to the magician above who turned one of the best freaky magic routines into a silly little charade, the Haunted Handkerchief routine is a lot better than the video lets on. Banachek’s version of this particular effect is nothing short of phenomenal, and it’s too bad I can’t find it at the moment.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Project 365 (327/365): Mirror Magic

.:327/365: Mirror Magic:.

If there’s one thing about mirrors, it’s got to be the fact that it’s very evocative of dread when you’re staring at one in the middle of the night, armed only with a candle. Mirrors have been used a lot in stage illusions, but performing with actual mirrors rather than mirrors used to hide stuff or as part of the secret apparatus of a magic routine proves to be a whole different challenge altogether.

Some magicians like doing an illusion where they pass through a mirror, or routines involving two-way mirrors. In either case, there’s a lot of potential in doing magic with mirrors, and Cyril Takayama ably presents a very good example here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pardon The Delays...

My writing has been in total disarray this past week because something in the family happened that changed everything.

I'll explain everything all in due time, but for now, I'll do only the Project 365.

Project 365 (326/365): Ashes On Arm

.:326/365: Ashes On Arm:.

Oh, what a classic. David Blaine made this one popular, essentially doing some freaky mind reading through the power of his... arm.

Nonetheless, it’s definitely one of the freakier effects out there, and is the non-impromptu version of Stigmata, which I infinitely prefer, to be honest. This is a bit messy, and a bit too prep-intensive for my tastes, although it does have its fans.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Project 365 (325365): Realignment, And Wayne Houchin's Thread

.:325/365: Realignment, And Wayne Houchin’s Thread:.

So apparently, I double-counted Mr. Hydrick and the subsequent entry, resulting in my numbers being off by one. I hope that doesn’t happen again, though, although I’m still not 100% sure if my numbering is correct at this point. Nonetheless, I’ll take my chances.

One of the freakiest routines I’ve ever seen, Thread by Wayne Houchin involves the pulling of an ingested thread from your very eyes. It’s ghastly, it’s striking, but most of all, it’s effective and legitimate.

Truth be told, I’m very impressed by this routine even if it’s rather simple in theory. Houchin’s approach to the effect really sells the whole thing, and I’m amazed at his nerve to do something this dangerous, because hey, a thread from your eye is still a thread from your eye.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Project 365 Smorgasbord (321-323)

.:321/365: Astral Projection:.

If you can walk to another place without necessarily being even there, how do you think it would feel? How does one’s soul, tethered by the finest of threads to your corporeal self, go out and travel elsewhere, and then come back with details and memories of these travels?

Is this sane? Is this even possible? Or are we merely deluding ourselves into thinking that it can be done? And if true, is it possible to not find your way back? Well, I guess that’s one of the main reasons why I’m not so keen on doing astral projection, whether or not it’s true.

.:322/365: Spirit Of The Glass:.

Believe it or not, a lot of old-school paranormal performers do use this as part of their more intimate shows. There’s something that seems so powerful about having the ability to communicate with the dead, and to this day, it’s unclear if the Spirit of the Glass is the genuine article, or a result of mass hysteria. The fact that the glass seems to move on its own accord and every individual holding the glass swearing it wasn’t them moving it does lend that theory a lot of credence.

This practice hails back to centuries ago, and with something like a Ouija board, people come together to ask spirits questions answerable by the characters on the board. It’s a very eerie experience, and something I personally hope to never have to deal with myself.

.:323/365: Spirit Photography:.

Sometimes, it can really boggle the mind how a device like the camera can catch things that the naked eye can’t. Terrifying as it may be, photographs just capture images that tell us there are spirits out there.

Are these images believable? Or are they merely fabrications of a wild imagination. Ultimately, as this month has clearly demonstrated, Spirit Photography is but one aspect of the obsessive fascination people have for the paranormal. While I have yet to find an actual magic act that utilizes this fully, Ghost Vision is one of those mentalism acts that does allude to this phenomenon.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Randomicity On A Thursday...

.:Laughing It Out:.

Let the good times roll!

Last Saturday was a night for the ages as Comedy Cartel and Take-Out Comedy came together to bring an amazing show that I was thankfully witness to. With sixteen comics in one night, it was more comics than you could ever hope for, and each and every one of them delivered that night.

Meeting some of the comics from Hong Kong for the first time has been very entertaining, and performing for them after their sets, doing psychokinesis for them, has left quite an impression on them, and two more forks from Votre Bar aren’t ever coming back, after everything’s been said and done. Heh.

Doing shows for a cause has always been something I’ve been a big fan of, so I’m still hoping to have one of my own before the year ends, particularly with Mr. Jay Mata, as we try to deliver yet another Kel and Jay night for the ages, albeit most likely in a smaller venue, like, say, Votre Bar as well.

Belated happy birthday to Caca and much thanks for making this awesome event possible. I’d love to say more, but it was just an exhilarating event that you had to be there to fully appreciate. It certainly didn’t hurt that I made the acquaintance of one Chrisha that night, as well...

Pictures borrowed from Anna.

.:Ehra, Ehra, Ehra, Hey, Hey, Hey...:.

Talk about perfect timing.

One of the few times I decide to go to 99.5 RT, and I discover that the Madrigal sisters were promoting their latest FHM issue.

I’m at a loss for words, really. This was an awesome episode.

.:Twitter, Wat?:.

Really? You think I’d be the kind of person who’d care about what Tim Yap has to say?


Project 365 (320/365): Past Live Regression

.:320/365: Past Life Regression:.

There are some believers in reincarnation, and the ability of the human person to tap into their previous lives to draw learnings and lessons from them. Hypnosis is often used to induce the perfect conditions for this phenomenon, albeit I’m personally not a big believer in the phenomenon per se.

Despite that, there’s a lot of interest in this particular phenomenon, and a lot of mentalists have dabbled into past life regression sessions even in a performance setting, to mixed results. Needless to say, the demand for such performers is at an all-time high, as new age beliefs and practices have been associated less and less with the occult.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Film Review: Megamind

.:Film Review: Megamind:.

So, I’m “the bad”, and she’s “the pretty ugly?”

It’s a no-brainer to catch this film...


By jove, I think Dreamworks finally got it. For the first time since Shrek, they’ve come up with an adventure that wasn’t just funny and interesting, but it was downright well-crafted from beginning to end, learning better than to rely just on simple imagery and comedy to get a very strong movie with major parental bonus moments on top of it to just really seal the deal.

I liked the film enough to catch it twice on 3D, each time going with a friend. First time out, I went with Faiye, the next, I went with new friend Chrisha.

The film follows a pretty good storyline, replete with affectionate send-ups to Superman, as Megamind and Metro Man are two infants sent from their dying planets to Earth. Life deals Metro Man a very favourable hand, and it wasn’t long before he became a superhero, while Megamind’s luck has ended up building him to become a master criminal, capable of the most diabolical schemes and plots, yet always losing to Metro Man in all their great battles.

In one of these battles, Megamind finds himself completely taken by surprise when his plan actually works, and it appears that Metro Man has been once and for all vanquished. Then as if to call upon the dynamic of a villain needing a hero, he discovers that his existence needs the opposition in order to achieve some measure of validation. Without it, he feels empty inside, and only when he begins to find himself romantically involved with reporter Roxanne Ritchi, who doesn’t realize that a disguised Megamind is working closely with her, while trying to create another Metro Man to take the place of the fallen hero.

Metro Man’s replacement is Titan, who happens to be Hal, Roxanne’s cameraman. Unfortunately, his obsession with Roxanne derails him from his supposed task of defeating Megamind, and instead attemps to use his powers to win her over, and finds himself jaded and jilted when she turns him down.

Now, it’s up to Megamind, master of villainy, to actually save the day...

The plot is a great although not necessarily untreaded twist on the superhero genre. Will Ferrell plays an excellent Megamind, Tina Fey is excellent as Roxie, Brad Pitt is genius casting as Metro Man, and there’s no question that David Cross redeems himself from his Alvin and the Chipmunks antics as Minion, Megamind’s trusty sidekick. Overall, you could feel that they put a lot of stock into character development for this, while including just the right mix of kid-friendly and only-adults-can-get-it (But not necessarily off-color.) humor. Dreamworks is pretty good with parental bonus material, but at times, they can really go a little too crazy with it.

When I reflect upon what it means to be a Megamind, it becomes a true exercise in putting stock in the power of a person to choose, rather than allowing destiny to just toss him along the ride. Megamind was destined to be a great villain, or a terrible one, but a villain, nonetheless. With his free will and his metaphorically giving determinism the finger, he managed to show that it all boils down to the choices we make and to the things we aspire to become that allow us to become more than what our bio-data would proclaim us to be. He truly is more than merely the sum of his parts, and in doing so, captures the imagination of anyone who has ever had a dream. And no, I won't name-drop any philosophers to make this review sound any nerdier than it already is, or my name isn't Gabriel Marcel - err, Marcelle Fabie.

I heartily recommend this movie, although my experience of the film was enhanced by watching it with awesome friends. I suggest you do the same.

Fun Evaluation: A
Critical Evaluation: B+

Project 365 Two-Fer (318-319)

.:318/365: Blockhead:.

A favourite among fakirs and geek magicians, the nail through nose routine is as legit as can be. You just out and out do it. There’s no special nail or special hammer, or heaven forbid, a special nose that you get to use to do this.

And oh, prepare for excruciating pain if you happen to do this wrong. A world of excruciating pain.

.:319/365: Hypnosis:.

The ability to control another person with but a gesture and the tick-tocking of a watch? Sign me up! Most people have very skewed notions of how hypnosis works, always thinking that it’s a simple process of achieving total mind control, when in reality, hypnosis involves surrender on the part of the person you hypnotize. It isn’t a simple process, and the whole procedure is so easy to disrupt: a mere misplaced word or gesture, a less than clear instruction, and all of it would add up to a very unsuccessful foray into hypnosis.

Hypnosis is real, but it’s nothing like mainstream media’s portrayal of hypnosis. A trance takes a lot of effort to achieve, and a subject who plays along with the hypnotist, is, for all intents and purposes, considered a success. With all of these factors, it’s a wonder we’ve actually had some professional hypnotists over the years, because their rate of success is directly proportional to the willingness of their subject to be hypnotized. The minute their quarry is outright defiant, things get a lot trickier, and it requires a lot more work than is well within the capacities of the average hypnotist.

Using hypnosis for medical purposes has been attempted, with varying degrees of success. Hypnotherapy, for the longest time, hasn’t had very convincing results to be worth pushing as a mainstream approach to dealing with addictions such as smoking, alcohol, or drugs. No mean feat, and hypnosis, with its lofty position in the minds of the layman, continues to fascinate and inspire a multitude of responses from all walks of life.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Death Knells Of Philippine Radio

.:The Death Knells For Philippine Radio:.

In a span of three months, three different radio stations glaringly reformatted, each successive reformat conspicuously tolling the bells of the slow and agonizing death of Philippine radio. I’ve been trying to find the words to say as all of this happened right before my very eyes, but I’d be lying if I said this had the same emotional impact on me as opposed to when Campus 99.5 was unceremoniously killed over two years ago.

Then again, maybe it’s not that I’m no longer emotionally affected by these drastic changes to our airwaves, or even the obvious fact that I was, with the exception of one station out of the three, never an avid listener of any of these stations at any point in my life, regardless of what incarnation they took. It may very well be that I’m slowly becoming desensitized to the systematic demise of radio as a medium, and the only reason it still stays strong as a medium is that it’s easier to listen to a radio than to watch a television while riding a jeepney. Technology has been kicking radio’s behind for the past decade or two, and internet is being touted at this point (And no longer video.) as truly killing the radio star.

Three months. That’s all it approximately took to turn the radio industry on its head, although one must admit that the seeds were planted for a long time in two out of the three cases, so it wasn’t all that surprising when things panned out the way they did this year. Still, it doesn’t change the fact that the landscape of radio has never looked bleaker, at least to the fans of the old school who don’t mind a bit of the new school, but certainly mind an obvious dominance of only one particular radio format on the airwaves – the masa format, to be exact.

Is Philippine radio dead? Heavens, no. The radio medium is arguably stronger than ever - in terms of lifespan. These reformats ensure that the radio industry will continue to be around. However, it’s safe to say that radio as we knew it is not alive but undead, for in its place is a zombie that would continue to exist, but not quite live on. Perhaps it would achieve more monetary success, even, but for the longest time, radio didn’t have to compromise much of its integrity in order for it to become successful, and now, it almost necessarily has to.

Or maybe I’m just looking at this with rose-colored glasses. After all, isn’t payola now considered a thing of the past, thus meaning radio, as a whole, is far more reputable now than it used to be? Not really, because payola existed in a time where radio was powerful enough to command payola. Now, it just isn’t the case: why would a record label need to pay any radio station for airplay at all? Clearly, radio has fallen at the mercy of nearly everyone else, and has only print and a lack of internet penetration to thank that it’s not dead last in the media landscape.

Through the eyes of a fan of the radio medium, here are the three stories that have changed the face of Philippine radio in ways nobody could have imagined just a year ago.

From Joey 92.3 to XFM to U92 to 92.3 News FM: Hatid Sa Inyo Ng Radyo 5!

Gone, but not... who were you again?

First, the least objectionable shake-up, in my opinion; although at the same time, the most dramatic one among the three reformats.

92.3 as a frequency was, for the longest time, known as one of the least talk-oriented radio stations in the metro. With very light and easy tracks that never fail to calm people down as they listen to it in the middle of traffic, 92.3, and its most popular incarnation, Joey, certainly went against the grain of the 90’s boom towards eloquent talk radio. It was normally compared to other stations like 96.3 WRK and 94.7 WLL, and at some point, 97.9 Home Radio. All four stations had similar philosophies, while at the same time, playing enough recognizable and current songs to not completely fall into being an outright jazz or classical station.

When Joey became XFM in 2007, it was quite a departure from its old easy-listening format, as it became a haven for electronica, house, lounge, and indie music. This was far from the mainstream adult contemporary ways of most radio stations in the upper economic strata markets, and as such, had its own cult following, most of whom were thoroughly hooked enough to not notice that within a year’s time, XFM went back to its old Joey format, just emphasizing more jazz tunes than before. Overall, this stealthy change confused most casual listeners who didn’t have a clue what made 92.3 work for all those years. With the clear lack of direction and reception in a niche it wanted to dominate yet nobody in the advertising world really cared if it did, the X gave way to the U.

U92 was MTV Philippines’s answer to RX, Magic, Mellow, RT, and I guess at the time, MAX. The station, an affiliate of MTV Philippines (Which was also reputedly at its death knells as well, much thanks to Myx.), was composed of arguably the most star-studded lineup of radio personalities this side of the world. While we’ve had DJ’s who became celebrities for one reason or another, U92 hired mostly celebrities to become DJ’s, thus ending up with people like The Brewrats, Pia Magalona, and KC Montero. They also did a number on the programming of at least WAVE, JAM, and RT, since these three stations lost the following jocks when U92 hustled to snap them up: Eri Neeman, Jimmy Muna, Rye, and Mike Potenciano from Wave; Patti from Jam; and Joshua Z, Tado, Angel, and Ramon from RT. There were even rumors that Mo Twister was almost swiped by U92 if Mo didn’t have the foresight to inform Magic of the attempt to pirate him, giving them a chance to make him an offer he can’t refuse to stay on in Radio Partners’ flagship station.

With star power and veteran know-how combined in the new radio station, it seemed like only a matter of time before U92 would start giving Magic and RX a run for their money, being the top two radio stations in their target market. Alack and alas, this never came to pass, and massive overhead costs for a very star-studded on-air lineup were but the tip of the iceberg that sank U92 just exactly 364 days after it set sail.

What replaced it was clearly an angling made to wrestle for media dominance, as exerted by the new powers that be from the Kapatid network, who aggressively snapped up a lot of news personnel from both Channel 2 and 7 in an effort to establish itself as a legitimate threat to the ratings game. As TV5 already had an FM radio station in 106.7, most famous during the time it was known as KOOL 106, the station that was once known as MRS, then Joey, then XFM, then U92, became 92.3 News FM: the first AM radio format to air on the FM band.

With one of my good friends, Michelle Orosa, as one of the personalities in the new station, I actually don’t find the new format objectionable at all, nor do I think it’s a waste of a good radio station, since 92.3’s current format is something that has never been done before and has a lot of potential. Neither would I miss the U92 format, since Magic, RT, RX, and Mellow all still exist to give me more of the same. It's novel in that you have standard AM fare on the FM dial, although the overlap between this and 558 RMN News is a bit telltale, what with key personalities like Raffy Tulfo still performing their duties on that network, last time I checked.

Of course, what I do feel bad about are the people who lost their jobs when U92 folded up, since a lot of them were people I have worked with or happen to be friends with. I honestly don’t have much of an opinion about U92 when it finally kicked the bucket, but I’m sure it couldn’t have been pleasant to know that not only are you out of a job, but if you came from RT, WAVE, or JAM, you probably can’t make your way back there. Neither would you expect to find yourself in Magic or MAX, either. Especially not MAX, since it became...

From 103.5 K-Lite to Heart FM to 103 ½ Max FM to 103.5 WOW FM: Lahveeet!

It *was* the right kind of Lite. Then they found their Heart. And it was screwed up to the MAX. Oh, WOW.

If TV5 was going to experiment with a never-before tried format on the FM band, by golly, the Radio Partners (Current owners of JAM 88.3, WAVE 891, Magic 89.9, 99.5 RT, and WOW 103.5.) were going to experiment with a format they never tried before.

Prior to the current Mr.Fu-centric incarnation of 103.5, many listeners fondly remembered 103.5 as K-Lite, that amazing little radio station that can. It was cutting edge, contemporary, and innovative all at the same time. Arguably the pioneer of modern Philippine talk radio, K-Lite was the brainchild of several radio legends who came together to see a dream come true from the moment of its inception in 1995. I’m not fully aware when the Radio Partners ended up acquiring K-Lite, but I know for a fact that this radio station was, without a doubt, influential to the upper market on so many levels. Only Magic, RX, and RT would have a chance to argue this claim, in my book.

With such a powerful lineup of jocks such as Joe Schmoe and Dick Reese, with these living legends manning the booth, brilliant ideas left and right, what could have possibly gone wrong? I don’t really know, since not only was I not really a huge listener of the station, but my timelines are skewed when it comes to the rise and fall of K-Lite (Although a good friend, Ren Aguila, recently told me what he believes to be the reason, but it's quite a long story, and this post is already long enough as is.). Despite that,the beginning of the end for the frequency itself obviously came the minute they decided to do a drastic reformat that saw K-Lite rechristened as 103.5 Heart FM.

Now, I will tell you one thing about my former boss, the legen... wait for it... dary Joe D’ Mango, and it’s that this man is one of those whom I respect and admire the most in the radio industry despite never having been an avid listener of his during his heyday. His mental acumen and pulse for the radio industry was unbelievably spot-on, and with the level of success he had with WAVE and subsequently, K-Lite’s spiritual successor, JAM, it was believed that he would work his Mango Magic to make Heart FM become a format to be reckoned with.

And then he touted Heart to become the station that would give Mellow 94.7 a run for its money.

With that, you might see where this reformat may not have been the brightest idea of all time, and perhaps the only knock on sir Joe's eye (Or ear.) for the radio industry. Mellow 94.7 is many things, but it was never a target worth aspiring to. It’s a good radio station, but at no point was it the best in anything. I say this knowing two of my friends, Jaybee and Vince G, currently work there. They are great individuals, no question about it, but I doubt they would tell you that Mellow is the number one station in anything, except for catchiest jingle of all time. Because you are the minstrel, and I’m your guitar. And they don't even use that jingle anymore. =(

When the masa-ish 93.9 DWKC (We are family!) became 939 KCFM, they had RX 93.1 dead in their sights as the kind of station they wanted to overtake. That sort of explains why they pirated Chico and Delamar from RX, to begin with. When KCFM became iFM after failing to unseat RX, it was clearly gunning for 101.1 YES FM, which it still has yet to unseat, let alone unseat current powerhouse 90.7 Love Radio in the masa format. When U92 replaced XFM, it was obviously gunning for Magic and RX. It didn't succeed at that, either. Any massive reformat was meant to do one of two things: to compete with an already established powerhouse in a lucrative market or niche, or to establish a powerhouse in an untapped lucrative market or niche. Heart FM, in gunning for Mellow 94.7, was neither of these.

And so the story went that things got so bad in Heart that Sgt. Pepper, yet another legendary jock, had to be brought in to bring back a semblance of order to the flagging radio station. He came in, allegedly (EDIT: And subsequently, in the comments section, debunked by the Sarge himself.) under one condition: that he would never have to answer to, or even work with, Joe D’ Mango. Don't ask me why: I never had the Heart (Pardon the terrible pun.) to ask sir Joe about it. In that desperate bid, JAM, WAVE, and Heart lost their general manager in Joe D' Mango, who ended up leaving the radio industry ever-so-abruptly, and new station managers came in for each of them, with Sgt. Pepper filling in for the 103.5 frequency. With that, Heart FM, after a mere six months, was turned into 103 ½ MAX FM, where some notable jocks ended up at some point, including Kelly of Kellybites fame, Carl McFly, and of course, King DJ Logan.

Max FM: dancing itself to oblivion...

Over the time of MAX FM’s existence, though, it would become known as a revolving door for jocks, as most of them would go in and out of the station for one reason or another, and that sort of explains why KDL and Marf happen to both be in 99.5 well before WOW FM came along, as is Drei Ball jumping ship to 88.3 around the same time, give or take a year. It was a hotbed of competition: a talented bunch of jocks who wanted to protect their spot in a very cutthroat environment, yet almost always dead last in sales when it came to the five Radio Partner stations. Even an attempt to reformat into a more dance-oriented station failed miserably, as MAX never quite shook off the stigma of just being another “Magic clone.”

Whereas 99.5 RT, after a foray into Campus 99.5 then an aggressive retrobranding as the Rhythm of the City, still struggles with the stigma of being a "Magic clone" a bit, MAX, perhaps unwisely, appeared to wallow in the similarities. After all, when Sarge took his classic Magic ideas like Tunog Kalye to MAX, it certainly didn’t strike most listeners as a return to form, but rather (And mistakenly, I might add, since most of these ideas were originally from the Sarge, to begin with.) a blatant rip-off of 89.9.

Was it any surprise then, that it was only a matter of time before this Old Yeller would be put out of its misery back in the barn?

Dahil diyan, close na tayo!

With an attempt at breaking into the masa market dominated by Love Radio and Yes FM (Which are actually sister stations, to begin with!), the Radio Partners turned what was once the pinnacle of thought-provocative adult contemporary radio that became a Mellow clone that became yet another Magic clone into, well, a Love and Yes clone. Do I feel that a great injustice has been done to the once illustrious numbers 103.5? I’ll be honest here and say that Heart and MAX did the job long before WOW came into the scene, and WOW is only the culmination of the metaphorical spit upon K-Lite’s grave. To be fair,though, Mr. Fu, Justin Bibbo, and even Tina Ryan of Magic and RT fame are certainly not lightweights at all, and give this masa station a touch of class that it sorely needs. It’s still not on my speed tuner, though.

It remains to be seen where this new development would take them, because hey, at least, the Radio Partners didn’t go for yet another Magic clone, right? And what's one more masa station? It's not like another institution in radio would finally cave in and end up becoming yet another masa station, right? Wrong.

From NU 107 to 107.5 WIN Radio: Pinag-iisipan Pa Ba Yan?!?

In loving memory...

And now, more egregious than a Christmas concert by 1:43 in Araneta Colliseum, comes Exhibit C: the proof in the pudding. The reason why I’ve heard “Philippine radio is deeeeeaaaadddd!!!” at least five thousand times in the past seven days.

NU 107 was in a league of its own, and rightfully so. Only one other station ever came close to capturing the magic NU had during its 23 years of existence, and that was LA 105. This was also the only time in my life where I was an avid listener of NU, although I was an avid radio listener for this time, period, and NU/LA were among the radio stations I was listening to all the time back then. I couldn’t ever forget that in the same time period, I heard the multiple callers on DM 95.5 and 97.1 DWLS FM sniping at DM’s Hitman and LS’s Triggerman, respectively. But I digress.

It was during this time where I heard Parokya Ni Edgar's "Lutong Bahay", Grin Department's "Magbati Na Kayo", and a band whose name I forget, imploring you to "Drive My BM(X)", while the Eraserheads were going on "Overdrive". Switching from NU to LA was a lot of fun for me, because I really liked these particular songs, and kids today, in the age of Limewire and music not even worth downloading like Callalily, wouldn't have that very low-tech experience of waiting for your favorite song to air, and then setting your radio to record the song while it's playing, all the while praying the DJ doesn't talk too soon and lets the whole song play untarnished from start to finish.

Upon this rock, a station was built, and NU 107 was representative of the kind of cutting-edge music that led to a band renaissance in the mid-90’s that saw Rivermaya, Eraserheads, Parokya ni Edgar, Yano, Siakol, even Grin Department, as just a healthy sample of what it meant to have great music at a point nobody expected there to be any. Of course, there were some indie names that only a few hardcore fans would be able to recognize, but I’m writing for the mainstream here, so I have to drop the recognizable names when I do a roundup.

Nonetheless, the station was held in very high esteem by some of the most fanatical listeners a radio station could possible hope for. With successful events like the annual NU Rock Awards and some of the most influential OPM acts owing their fame and very existence to NU 107’s willingness to play them when no other station would dare to, the station became an institution, and, with the demise of LA 105 for reasons I never quite understood, the only genuine rock station on the airwaves. RJ and UR don’t even come close to what NU stood for, and, for all intents and purposes, are not in the same niche at all. NU became one of a kind, and though some people feel that the deadpan jocks of the radio station had all the emotion of a dead fish, you knew that there was an underlying passion in what they did. In fact, any lack of passion people may have accused them of having was easily debunked on the final week where the jocks of NU said goodbye, more so when the final hour tolled, and almost all of them said their teary goodbyes to a 23-year legacy that could only be marked as phenomenal.

NU was never the top radio station in terms of ratings, but it was the best at what it did, and what it did was to rock out with their something-that-rhymes-with-rock out. It loved the niche, and the niche it cornered loved it back, no matter how many people claimed it “sold out” or watered itself down. That one moment where Diether Ocampo called everyone at an NU event “jologs” still stands out as something that killed people’s interest as quickly as a documentary on XLR8, yet it only emboldened the listeners to uphold the true rock lifestyle, no matter how NU itself may have faltered at being the trailblazer for it at times.

NU truly had a devout fanbase that may lash out at it at times, but never in a million years would have considered turning their back on the station. Even if I haven’t been an avid listener of the radio station for years, I respected the format and the institution that it was in Philippine radio. That’s sort of why I didn’t accept the job offered of me two years ago, when they asked if I was willing to be the “image consultant” of sorts to the home of NU rock. I came from WAVE 89.1, a hip-hop station, and felt I had no business tinkering around with the image of a station that is almost the exact opposite of hip-hop. It didn’t feel right, so I declined it in favour of Campus 99.5, which was a format I was more at home with. Turns out, either choice I had in 2008 wouldn't have carried me through to 2011, since both stations are gone now, although Campus Radio Online lives on.

I guess when the news started to unfurl about NU 107 being sold and eventually reformatted, a lot of people who took the station for granted began to realize they were on the verge of losing something that was big, important, and at this point in Philippine radio – the only one of its kind. The radio station many people have simply dismissed as “selling out” or “watered down” suddenly found a bunch of closet fans, or even bandwagon fans, and naturally, some hardcore fans took exception to that. Let me tell you this much, though: if you’re a station worth bandwagoning on, you’re definitely worth something, no matter how vestigial all those efforts may have been.

That fateful night at Emerald Avenue, home to several radio stations, about five hundred or more people came together to pay their last respects to NU 107. And while I’d be the first to crack jokes about the demise of NU once and for all proving that NU (the university) doesn’t exist at all, there was something surreal about the crowd that came together that night, all singing along non-stop to every symbolic song NU played on its final night.

In my time of being involved in radio, I have never seen a sendoff for a radio station the way NU got. It was heartwarming, if not envy-inducing, considering how many other radio stations just went out with a whimper. NU went out in the proverbial blaze of glory, and what a glorious blaze it truly was. As a great song once said, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Unfortunately, the new beginning? Nothing much to write home about.

The latest incarnation of the 107.5 frequency is known as WIN FM, with the very blatant Love Radio-esque slogan, "Pinag-iisipan pa ba 'yan?" Personally, I don’t actively despise masa stations, and I believe they have a purpose in the radio landscape. Hades, I'm even a fan of Mr. Fu, Chris Tsuper, Nicole Hyala, and Papa Jack! The thing is, there’s a lot of them already running around. You have 90.7, 91.5, 93.9, 97.1, 101.1, 101.9, 102.7, and 103.5. I’m not sure about 95.5 nowadays, but that marks eight radio stations with essentially the exact same format. Now, WIN 107.5 becomes the ninth, while NU 107’s format? It has zero representation in today’s airwaves.

If RX 93.1 decided to go away tomorrow, I would be arguably the saddest person you would ever find: I love RX, I love the people there, and I don't just mean the on-air staff: from sales to traffic to management, I've known them for years, and they know that if for some reason they ever needed me on their team, I would drop most everything I'm doing in a heartbeat to help them any which way I can. Despite all that, I would know that the format lives on in Magic 89.9. Same jocks? No. Same off-air staff? No. Exactly the same playlist? No. Same format? Indubitably.

When NU 107 went off the air the final time and that national anthem played, thus displacing "Ang Huling El Bimbo" from being the station's last song ever, where do you think their loyal listeners would go to now? I'll tell you where: YouTube. Their iPod. Frostwire. Anywhere but the desolate wasteland of Philippine radio, which no longer has a home for rockers, unless they're old enough to appreciate RJ 100, or hipster enough to pretend to like UR 105.9. In fact, the only good thing that could arise from all of this is if UR decided to really fill in the void left by NU, because hey, they're LA 105's spiritual successor, and they have both the on-air staff and the musical chops to pull it off. Then again, we don't have any UR Rock Awards, do we?

That a unique radio station is killed to make way for yet another masa station is a great travesty. That a station that gave rise to some of the best rock acts of the past two generations is now gone, and a ninth radio station churning out bubblegum music and encouraging mentally challenged K-Pop wannabe acts without caring for the long-term results upon the music industry is a grievous mistake that we sadly have no power to correct. NU may have been a niche station, but it was a notable enough niche, and it dominated its niche, competition or no competition. Personally, I believe that if you have the best product in anything, it should already sell itself, but then, I’m not really privy to the sales practices of NU 107, so I couldn’t speak for their efficacy or anything of the sort.

I’ve said this a million times and I’ll say it again: I love radio. I practically grew up on the medium. I was a frequent contest winner in 93.9 due to my vaunted speed dialing skills. I loved 94.7 and 96.3 because their DJ's spoke so little, I could record songs I requested from them with impunity. I loved 97.1, 106.7, and 95.5 because they had daily countdowns. I loved 105.9 and 107.5 because they were the only station playing Grin Department. I loved 93.1 because Chico and Delamar trained me in Radio 1 and I followed their career from RX to KC then back again (I'm still a loyal Rusher to this very day.). I worked in 89.1. I almost worked for JAM and NU. I worked (For free!) for Campus 99.5. And now, I regularly guest on 99.5 RT on weeknights with the Disenchanted Kingdom. In high school, I was even on an AM radio program called "Anak... Gabay Mo," a CMMA hall of famer that was never once supported by its own radio station (You go, DWXI!) despite espousing good values and positive influence on the youth who listened to us.

That’s exactly why when I had to choose between WAVE and QTV-11 in 2006, I chose WAVE instead of embarking on a TV career, albeit most likely behind the camera. To this day, I figure I’d still have done the exact same thing.

Now you know why it took me this long to write about this. It was difficult to take a long, hard look at the history of these three radio stations then to take a conflicted glance to where they are now. One story was almost inspiring. The other was interesting. The last one was downright depressing. Even a professed non-devout listener to NU 107, such as myself, was affected to the very core by the loss of the station. I could only imagine how the real fans felt, especially when the collective faces of the NU flock were spat on by the smug face of Tim Yap, as he found himself inside the station on NU's farewell night. It wasn't bad enough that he almost ruined the night the Eraserheads came back for a concert for the ages by pretending to be a fan, yet not even knowing the words to "Toyang," but did he have to do more of the same in Emerald Avenue?

November 8 will remain to be a very dark day in Philippine radio. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, this was the day the (rock) music died. And for that, I light a candle in fond, hopeful yearning for better days for Philippine radio. Hindi na kailangan yan pag-isipan pa.

Do not go gentle into that good night...