Thursday, September 29, 2011

Emanating From My Stream Of Consciousness

.:Emanating From My Stream Of Consciousness:.

Wrote this a couple of days ago, but decided to still post it, anyways.

Normally, I try being creative about my blog entries because while I’m mostly an autobiographical blogger, I’ve been consciously avoiding the lazy trap of making an online diary out of my blog, full stop. Given the medium, I liked having assorted pictures, bits and pieces of humor, and a host of other features to at least keep strangers interested in reading about the life of someone they don’t even know, much less give a damn about.

Unfortunately, today’s weather isn’t inspiring me to do something like that in any way, let alone the fact that I’m writing this while I’m offline, all the same.

It’s raining cats and dogs right outside, and it doesn’t seem like the weather’s gonna let up anytime soon. It’s almost the way it was two years ago, when the insane weather conditions of Ondoy just really struck this nation unawares.

Was pretty stoked last Friday that we actually tied Waado for first place in Geekfight. I totally killed the Magic: The Gathering round, even if I did happen to forget about Innistrad, which could have single-handedly decided our victory by then. Still, tying for first place isn’t exactly a bad thing, and we did really well there.

I’ve been up to a lot of stuff the past few days, really. I had two shows last Saturday night, including one that serves as my annual show, but due to the nature of it, had to be a little more… subdued than I normally would be when it came to talking about the event. It just seemed tacky to blast everything about it after the fact.

I’ve also been contemplating making a leap in my life: something I haven’t considered doing before, but seems to be the right thing for me to do at this point. I just hope that I’m doing the right thing, because I’m still very confused where all of this is going, to be honest. I think the lengthy discussion we had recently made me feel the desire to take a risk, but also made me recognize that it is quite a risk. Funny how that works. Well, maybe not funny, actually.

Yesterday, ended up watching “Horrible Bosses”. It was funny, but I didn’t see the need to review the film, so I think I’ll pass.

I think I burned some bridges recently, which, I suppose, is for the better. I really don’t need people in my life who antagonize me over F. Sionil Jose and his Ric Flair-y rants about Filipino shallowness, as if shallowness directly accounts for the quagmire this nation is in today. That the working class often find themselves taking to the streets at this point, fighting for their rights, should already be sign enough that people do have the willpower, and even the brain power to rise above pettiness, but clearly, the system that is so entrenched and ingrained in this nation goes far and beyond the depths or the shallowness of the people. Being deep or shallow is one thing. Being prosperous or impoverished is another, and they may very well be mutually exclusive, considering how America is relatively prosperous, yet capable of the kind of shallowness we accuse ourselves of.

I think the fact that there’s neither hide nor hair of the people in question at this point only goes to show me what I need to know. Apparently, a flippant statement about a person is enough grounds to have my trust in a longtime “friend” betrayed. Yeah, that’s beautiful. Remind me not to trust people like that ever again, because it’s just a monumental waste of time.

Considering that I’m turning a year older in a couple of days (today by now, actually...), I have to admit that I feel very ambivalent about everything going on in my life right now. I’m frustrated at so many facets of my life at this point, and the bright spots feel so temporary. I feel as if any good things happening in my life at present aren’t going to last, while the bad things are going to far overstay their welcome. It is what it is. I’m rambling in this post. It’s an incoherent hodgepodge of ideas from my stream of consciousness. Yet it’s the one thing keeping me sane at this point, ironically.

I think that the way my heart has taken a beating has affected my psyche so relentlessly that I can’t help but feel jaded now. I try being optimistic, I try ignoring the sinking feeling I have in my gut, but it’s omnipresent, and it refuses to leave me alone.

Celebrated the Disenchanted Kingdom’s 2nd anniversary by joining them on air. It was pretty awesome, even if we did drop some bombshells on each other that night. It’s all good, though.

So really. Wake me up when September ends. Deep down, a huge part of me still believes I don’t deserve to be happy, and that subconsciously ruins everything good in my life. It’s way past the time to blame anyone else but myself for this.

Then again, looking at all the people wishing me well, I can’t help but feel that the people who supposedly claimed to have cared are also the people conspicuously not saying a word to me today. So much for being “there for you as long as you need me.” It’s definitely been nothing but lip service so far, and I really should stop being surprised.

Every year, on my birthday, I wish for peace of mind.

Every year, I find myself denied of it.

Thanks, everyone, but I’d be lying if I said I was happy about how this all panned out.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Thrilla 4 Matela Thank-You List

.:The Thrilla 4 Matela Thank-You List:.

It was done on such short notice, but as the saying goes, if there's a will, there's a way. Thrilla 4 Matela was a smashing success, and we are more than happy to have had a chance to show our love and support for our dearest AJ and his family in our own little way.

I recognize that the cause for this occasion, while undoubtedly worthy, is also a solemn one. Regardless, we believe that this simple celebration was a heartfelt commemoration in song, laughs, and gasps, of the lifes and times of AJ Matela.

Under normal circumstances, I'd be writing about this show much in the same way I've written about similar cause-oriented events I've organized in the past. However, given the nature of the event, I can't do a recap post the same way I would have done in years past. I believe it would be enough to just thank people individually in this post, and piecing together the event that way.

So that being said, let me thank the following people:

Aileen Apolo-de Jesus, for helping us secure the venue.

Geiser Maclang, for lending us the projector, although we didn't use it during the program.

Poyt, for organizing the events page and helping in publicizing the event.

Joyce and LA, for manning the ticket booth, and LA for actually making the tickets himself (And coming back from limbo! Where have you been, dude?).

Ali, Jordan, and the other people from PinoyTuner and Dig Radio, for their generosity in allowing us to use Shift Bar for this worthy cause.

Vin Dancel, for not only performing his awesome music, but even covering the Sugarfree classic "Burnout", which we also thank Ebe Dancel for.

Nino Avenido, Carlos Castana, Julianne, and Evee Simon, for being amazing musicians who really gave music straight from the heart. It was a very great experience for everyone who was there.

Ade Magnaye and the rest of Lose Your Beer Belly, for bringing your awesome music to the table, and Ade, especially for giving very sound advice behind the scenes as we were trying to produce this show.

Stanley Chi, for sharing some laughs with his unique brand of humor.

Micamyx, for the film showing of "12th of June" which was chock full of awesome blogger cameos.

Mike Unson, for capping off the night in an awesome night. When he started doing those relationship jokes, me and an old friend couldn't help but look and laugh at ourselves because Mike was just dead on. It was hilarious and insanely awkward at the same time, which just showed why Mike Unson is one of the best standup comics in this country, bar none.

Definitely, we can't forget the Itchyworms: Jugs, Jazz, Kel, and Chino, for performing that night. It was pretty surreal catching them perform together, let alone an acoustic set, as I asked only Jazz to do a set for this night. Next thing I knew, the whole band was there. I can't thank Kerwin and Julie enough for their kindness.

To the bloggers and friends who went or even just extended their best intentions for this event, even anonymously donating over the course of the night, thank you so much. This goes a long way to help.

Lastly, and most importantly, thank you, AJ. This show came together as our way of showing our gratitude to you for having been an indelible part of our lives. Thanks for the memories, thanks for the friendship, and thanks for simply having been a human being who lived a life well lived. This one's for you, AJ!

Project 52 (39/52): Unwell - Matchbox Twenty

.:Project 52 (39/52): Unwell - Matchbox Twenty:.

Really. I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell...

With all the crazy hurly-burly going on in my life right now, I think this song really hits the spot. I find myself going from day to day, just going through the motions and doing everything it takes to forget that I'm still walking wounded. September couldn't end soon enough. Really, it can't.

Matchbox Twenty is one of my favorite bands of all time. Yeah, I know, a lot of people hate them, but I am a proud fan. This song, along with Sugarfree's "Mariposa" provided two of my personal anthems in 2004-2005, and, needless to say, I really, really like the message of "Unwell", because it just speaks out to everyone who has ever had a bad year or so, and is woefully self-aware of this fact. The kind of pain one has to go through to be fully cognizant of being unwell is unquestionably great, but the optimism of believing that this isn't necessarily the be-all and end-all would be awesome, too.

Matchbox Twenty has had a lot of hits over the years, from "Push" to "Bent" and to a host of other songs, but in my opinion, this is the best one out of their discography, hands down. I just find it very interesting that what I initially thought to be a complete hardcore rock group turned out to be a pretty bleeding-heart one instead - and I'm not even complaining about that, which makes it doubly surprising to me.

In any case, this is one of my favorite songs of all time. Matchbox Twenty has been pretty awesome, and while I know it's tempting to have a Westlife song here because they're having a concert in Manila tomorrow, maybe I should save that for next week. for now, let's just say that this song goes out to everyone who's having a bad time right now. Don't worry: you're not crazy, you're just a little unwell. And you too can get through this.

Like I keep saying every single year: wake me up when September ends. Although, yeah, there's no need to feature Green Day this time, since it's practically tradition by now for me to sing that song...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Just Another Magic Monday: Three Magicians (Who Were Secretly Badasses)

.:Just Another Magic Monday: The Three Magicians (Who Were Secretly Badasses):.

So while I was reading up on some magicians the past week, I was asking myself how tough it must be to be a magician: technical skill, charisma, performing style, these are just some of the ingredients that make a magician great.

But see, all things considered, I don't really think anyone considered being "badass" as one category for being a great magician, and they'd be right. It's a criteria that doesn't really fit, anyways.

Until today.

After having looked at the magicians then and now, seeing what feats they have accomplished that could count as "badass," I pretty much have a list of the three magicians who absolutely fit this description. It's one thing to do a magic trick, it's another thing to just not give a f**k and still bringing your A-game even when life and limb is at risk.

No, Criss Angel and David Blaine don't fall under "badass" to me at all. Not even Blaine's record-breaking performance impresses me, because he required a lot of medical preparation to do his schtick, whereas these three magicians just ended up being badass by default.

I'd have included Seigfried and Roy here had it not been the fact that their career abruptly ended after the tiger-mauling incident. Sure, surviving that takes toughness, but it's not nearly badass enough.

These three magicians will make you look at the things they do, and make you realize that for all the "fakeness" of magic, they're pretty unbelievable when s**t gets real.

3. Jonathan Pendragon

Nicolas Cage apparently has a long-lost brother.
A lot of us know and love the Pendragons because they are the masters of the male and female duo act. Sure, they have some insane legal troubles here and there, but we love how good this tandem is when they perform their illusions with amazing grace, speed, and choreography. They're practically world-famous for their insanely quick rendition of the Metamorphosis illusion.

It's really quick. Those shots are all animated GIF's.

Yeah, sure, choreography, leotards, illusions. Nothing too badass about that, right? Sure, until you realize that the speeds the Pendragons have achieved in doing the Metamorphosis switch required years of practice. This could only mean one thing: concussions galore.

That explains why he dresses like that!

Without revealing the method, anytime the switch was done during the illusion, there was always the risk of ramming heads along the way. In fact, in the video where the Pendragons teach how the secret is done, they outright mention that Jonathan has been knocked unconscious during a show in the past, and this wasn't the first or the last time that quite an injury has happened.

But yeah, a little concussion here and there isn't what makes Jonathan Pendragon a complete badass: it's the fact that he had a near-fatal accident in 2006 that involved him falling on an arrow, piercing arteries, his stomach, his liver, and even his heart. Now, any other human being would've died right on the spot, but he pretty much ignored mortality for a while, and instead survived the accident and resumed performing a few weeks after the accident. I don't think mortality and Jonathan have gotten back to speaking terms ever since.

Yeah, I think that qualifies as badass right there.

In fact, it's criminally badass! Oooohhh.

2. Harry Houdini

On second thought, nothing looks "secret" about this...

Houdini is often one of the first magicians the average person would recognize, along with David Blaine, David Copperfield, and Harry Potter. Nonetheless, Houdini, as an escapologist by profession, had badass hardwired into his DNA by default. There was no question that his escape acts were, in all honesty, dangerous and life-threatening, and having demonstrated the ability to ignore pain, hold his breath underwater long enough to previously hold a world record, and to suspend himself upside-down for extended periods of time during his straitjacket escapes, Houdini's repertoire by default already qualifies him as badass as can be.

But see, it's not just the inherent risks involved in Houdini's act that set him apart from other performers, but more so, it's his methods that make him just not give a f**k.

Where most of us would use lockpicks to escape from handcuffs and the like, Houdini was famous for dislocating his wrists and shoulders then popping them back into place once he liberates himself from the cuffs or the straitjacket in question.

Pictured: entertainment!

If you've ever had the displeasure of having a joint dislocated, then having it fixed, then you would know how painful those two moments are, and ideally, how much nicer it would be if you could keep those two moments away from each other. Houdini, on the other hand, saw his joints as mere tools that he could dislocate and pop back at a moment's notice, with little regard for how much that whole process actually hurts.

For a small man like Houdini, he was larger than life because he looked at pain in the face and laughed at it maniacally, and unlike Jonathan Pendragon, he did it on purpose.

1. Jasper Maskelyne

He is vanishing the ink on his picture right now. With magic.

Jasper Maskelyne isn't badass because of misadventures he may have experienced while doing magic ala Pendragon. Neither was he badass because of the inherent risks of his illusions or methodologies ala Houdini.

Jasper Maskelyne was a badass simply because he used magic to wage war. A British stage magician, Maskelyne spent the second world war aiding British intelligence and operating in subterfuge by using his skills in magic. Because clearly, a man who dresses like a sorcerer, gesticulates wildly, and makes things appear and disappear from thin air would totally not call any attention to himself whatsoever.

This might shock you, but one of these men is actually a magician. 
Hint: it's not the long-haired douchebag in the center, but you knew that already.

Just a list of his feats on his wikipedia entry alone already details a litany of badassitude: he used his skills in magic for camouflage. He created decoys, including one of a German warship. Whether through subterfuge, deception, or outright chutzpah, Jasper Maskelyne managed to play a significant role in the war with his so-called "Magic Gang," helping keep the Axis powers on their toes because what they see isn't what they get.

And on the side, he entertains the troops, too. How's that for multi-tasking?

True, there have been some people who have challenged Maskelyne's role in the war and the significance of his contributions to the intelligence and counter-intelligence efforts of Britain during World War II, but first of all, if Jasper had the balls to make up all these stories, even write a book or two about his efforts during the war, then that's pretty badass enough in and by itself. Couple this with the fact that while they contest the significance of his role, nobody contests that he actually had a role during the war, and you get the vibe that yes, there is truth to Maskelyne's story, and we all feel like underachievers in the face of a splendid magician and wartime hero who lived to tell the tale.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Profiling The Patriotic Filipino®

.:The Parallels Between A Patriotic Filipino® And An IWC Smark:.

For about a couple of years, I've been writing as an over-the-top character that I obviously patterned after Stephen Colbert. It was much easier to write articles when it was still PGMA's term, because it takes a special kind of idiot to think that any of my articles at the time were seriously singing her praises.

It boggles the mind how this graph was taken seriously.

All the while, I kept making reference to the Patriotic Filipino®, a concept I obviously coined from the more accomplished satirist, Chip Tsao. Often, I've been asked by those who read my attempts at satire exactly what it means to be a Patriotic Filipino, and I haven't really put much thought into that until recently.

One thing I realized is that at its core, the Patriotic Filipino mindset is mired in hypocrisy, but not just any kind of hypocrisy: a self-loathing kind of hypocrisy. The Patriotic Filipino will decry any slight against Filipino pride, but when they're the ones doing the bashing, they quickly place themselves above these pitfalls of the common Filipino. It's both intellectual elitism and boorishness coming together, both blind patriotism and colonial mentality joining forces. Broken down simply, it means we're all prone to it at some point or another, whether it's because we want to migrate from this home we call a hellhole, or because we remember we're Filipino only when Manny Pacquiao has a fight.

Now, I've been a longtime follower of pro wrestling on the internet, and it made me realize that there are a lot of stark similarities between the Patriotic Filipino and the internet smark, especially when it comes to the self-loathing nature of both. While the Patriotic Filipino resents being Filipino to the point of lashing out violently against anyone who reminds them about this, the internet smark resents pro wrestling so much, yet keeps on watching it every single week, anyways.

For the internet smark, John Cena represents everything wrong about pro wrestling today. Here was a man who got into body building, then ended up doing pro wrestling. He's popular with the kids and the women of the WWE Universe, but is booed mercilessly by most of the adult males. He came through the OVW farm league of the company, didn't start out in a whole bunch of indie feds before going to the big leagues, and has held the championship belt for a significant amount of time during his tenure. He rarely loses cleanly, even during handicap matches. He has his infamous five moves of doom, limited abilities, squeaky-clean persona, and panders to the fans. He's a company man, and the internet smark hates John Cena for that.

Shallow. Man, why is the WWE marketing to kids? That would never work!!!
Compare that to a man who hailed from Stu Hart's infamous Dungeon wrestling school. A man who knew from the get-go that wrestling was the career he wanted to be in. A man who has wrestled in Canada, Mexico, Japan, ECW, WCW, before finally heading to the WWE. A man whose crisp execution and technical skill made every internet smark wet themselves in delight. His gimmick was that he needed no gimmick, and he got over solely by his in-ring skill, finally earning the WWE title after 19 long years in the business. It's absolutely unquestionable that a man like that would be every internet smark's darling, right?

Unfortunately, that man was Chris Benoit.

Deep! That hand sign has a hidden meaning, you know...

Chris Benoit was so accomplished a wrestler that internet smarks who worshiped the ground he walked on made excuses for him and tried to look the other way after what he did. People were quick to dismiss his actions whether as the fault of multiple concussions he had suffered throughout his career, or outright insane conspiracy theories involving some massive coverup, or the more benign approach of separating the man outside the ring from the man in the ring.

In every single instance, they tried to soften the blow of Benoit's actions, which, I suppose, is being mighty charitable to the man, but come on! The way they try to divorce this ugly mess from the rest of Benoit's life just so they could continue heaping praise on him is hypocritical in the face of how they have been integrating everything they hated about John Cena just so they could insult every single aspect of his being.

How many of us IWC people even know John Cena personally? Yet so many of us claim he's a douchebag, so many of us profess to know what kind of a monster he is, some of us even associate our own homophobic failings against him all because we think he's not God's gift to pro wrestling. It's a sickening double-standard brought about by blind hate, and how cool it seems to be to boo the popular guy just so you could go against the grain.

I'm pretty certain other aspects of the world fare similarly, if Justin Bieber's rabid hater base is to be believed. Nonetheless, considering the similarities between Patriotic Filipinos and the IWC, it behooves us to learn the lesson from their folly, to be honest. Especially notable would be how the IWC gravitates towards remembering the Attitude era with so much fondness, yet having also been there during the Attitude era, these were the exact same people who wanted The Rock and Steve Austin to go away, yet are now clamoring that they come back. The Patriotic Filipinos did the exact same thing when they begged and pleaded in 2004 for FPJ to lose to GMA in the elections, and the minute they got their exact wish, they begged and pleaded for GMA to go away. They also prayed for Noynoy to run when his mother died, and now that he's our president, they're praying for Noynoy to go away.

We never are content with the status quo, are we? Well, that's not necessarily a bad thing, especially if it means we remain aware that there is always room for improvement.

One can hope that the Patriotic Filipinos, who wish to love this nation but for any of a myriad factors has a really funny, sometimes unfortunate way of showing it, would figure out for themselves that self-loathing gets us nowhere. Self-criticism, when approached in a constructive manner, would yield us so much more good, and the IWC would be so much better if people recognized this more. The less we complain about how low-brow Jersey Shore is and it has no room guesting in our wrestling programs, the sooner we would realize that pro wrestling isn't exactly the opera, either.

In any case, enough about the IWC at this point. Ultimately, while we have no control how we may feel about the depth or shallowness of the Filipino, or how we feel about people who malign us as a people, whether he be a foreigner or a countryman, what we do have control over is how we publicly react to it. We could trade barbs with them, but if we do not stifle dialogue along the way and prove to everyone why the Filipino people is still worth having faith in, no matter what our pitfalls may be, then yes, there will be less satirical Patriotic Filipinos running around this nation.

That, that is something to aspire for in our own ways: we do this nation proud both as individuals and as a collective.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Shot Through The Heart, And You're To Blame: You Give Blogs A Bad Name

.:Whoah, Like A Loaded Gun!:.

You can call it shamelessness. Or kapal ng mukha. Or a weird sense of entitlement. You can even call them Patay-Gutom Bloggers, or the Blogger's Quolorum. You can react to them in disgust and shake your heads at how they sleep at night, doing what they do.

"No freebies?!? How dare youuuuuuu!!!"

Ultimately, this is a monster we created for ourselves.

Now, maybe some of you feel you played no part in this disturbing trend in the blogosphere. If you honestly felt that, then fine, I won't argue with you. But if, on the other hand, you feel the slightest tinge of guilt over having somehow enabled the worst of the blogosphere to be the way they are today, then this post is you. Don't worry. I'll be nice about it. I'm one of those guilty people who let it happen, too, after all.

When I read Animetric's article yesterday, I shook my head and reacted like I normally do to news about smug, entitled bloggers: what else is new, right? It's a free country, and we could only resort to gossiping about them or maybe hinting at their identities, because clearly, they bristle and bring out the pitchforks when we call them out on their behavior.

But see, I was blogging since 2002, and I was there when the first ever iBlog happened. I was also there during the event that started it all: Blog Parteeh '07. Since then, events became more and more commonplace for bloggers, and in the early days, we proudly showed off the swag we got, or the freebies that came with going to the event.

As more events went by, we even started finding the courage to tell off the people who mistreated us. Our blogs became a battleground where we showed these nefarious people the errors of their ways. Whether it was Malu Fernandez or Jayce Perlas, bloggers stuck by each other, and it seemed like nobody could stop the juggernaut that was the community.

And then, at the height of our pompousness and our self-importance, Bambi Dela Paz happened.

At this point, some of us took notice that maybe, just mayyyybe, we were a little too drunk with power, and we were shooting first, asking questions later. I know I did.

The problem was, because we have gone over the line ourselves, it felt wrong of us, perhaps even hypocritical, if we would call out other people who went over the line themselves. People in glass houses and throwing the first stone and all that jazz, right? So when slowly but surely, people invaded the blogosphere and they behaved in a way that felt questionable, we didn't want to sound like killjoys and tell them to stop being "too greedy" about freebies, or "too atat" to attend events, or "too impulsive" to do proper research before using their blog to personally malign someone.

Obviously, it's hard to posit yourself as an authority of sorts. I mean, by what measure do we say someone is "too" greedy? Or "too atat"? Where do we even draw the line? Was this just a generation gap between the old and the new guard of bloggers, and so we should just limit ourselves to smiling at each other during events but never calling each other out when something seems to be out of line? Do we want to sound classist about this? Or maybe clique-ish? Are we setting a dangerous precedent by taking newbie bloggers to task for things we may have been blindly guilty of in the past?

Our greatest fear.

In not lifting a finger to stop them, we created this monster we now have to deal with. Because we were too cowed when they gave us empty threats and non sequiturs each time we tried to call them out, our apparent silence was taken by these people as tacit approval that there's nothing wrong with what they do.

In keeping our mouths shut and not establishing a standard, the people we'd least expect to ever be an authority on ethical behavior attempted to set the standard themselves while all of us could only look aghast at what we thought was some sick April Fool's joke or something. And because few bothered to challenge them, they grew bolder and bolder, wrapping themselves in the cloak of self-importance, rendering themselves immune to any criticism.

In not doing a thing about these abuses happening right under our noses, we now share the shame of the other bloggers who actively committed these egregious displays of shamelessness. Now, we have extortionists, scam artists, even outright thieves who would do anything to get a gift pack.

It's all about the al-f**kin-mighty gift pack.

But don't get me wrong, I'm not washing my hands of this travesty: I'm every bit as guilty of inaction as anyone who feels guilty about this happens to be. Perhaps not because I did something wrong, but because I just smiled and let it happen. Kitty Genovese would've probably hated my guts.

I'm certainly not saying we should establish a standard by which people should conduct themselves. Good luck ever establishing one. However, what I wish we could do is that we could find a way to discuss these issues more openly rather than in hushed whispers with snide snickers thrown in the way of the Patay-Gutom Bloggers of our community. Clearly, the more we ignore them, the more brazen they have gotten. And if they truly feel that their actions are justified, then surely they can drop their defensive attitudes and discuss this in the open without pointless threats that they clearly have no power to carry out?

But really, that's just me thinking out loud. While I do love blogging and I've been doing it for as long as I remember, sometimes, I can't help but look in the mirror first thing in the morning, point to my reflection and say: you give blogs a bad name. Not because of what you have done, but because of what you have not done.

True, nobody's obliged to do anything. True, it's nigh-impossible for anyone to take such a duty upon themselves without someone protesting it as an act of self-righteousness. True, we aren't the worst the blogosphere has to offer.

But sometimes, you just have to wonder if we could have avoided all of this if Blog Parteeh '07 never happened. Or if we told Mike Abundo to sit down the third time he was going to ask a question in iBlog 1 just so he could plug his blog. Or if we named names during the whole PGB brouhaha in '09 when we were merely content talking behind their backs, making us hardly better than them, anyways.

And after wondering about the things we could've done back in the day, you then ask yourself what you, as an individual blogger who actually gives a damn where things are headed, should actually do. RIGHT NOW.

The preceding post is the opinion of the author and does not reflect the opinion of his employers whatsoever.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Project 52 (38/52): 99 Problems - Jay-Z

.:Project 52 (38/52): 99 Problems - Jay-Z:.

... but the b!764 ain't one.

Jay-Z is one of the most successful musical artists of all time, and this song is one of my favorites from him. It's one of the times I allow myself to let go of all political correctness, and just sing a song that tells it like it is. Jay-Z's lyrics are brilliant in this song, and his unmistakable flow really stands out in this track.

I don't really have much else to say about this song this week, but overall, this song is really a good one for those times where you just don't wanna give a f###.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

On Planks And Weddings: My POV On Best Of Anime 2011

.:Best Of Anime 2011 Recap!:.

The magnetic stage proved to be metal man's undoing.

Hosting Best Of Anime 2011 was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had, and I don't even know where to begin to tell you about how much fun I had.

Well, I guess I could begin by mentioning that I probably won't be giving a full-blown recap of who the winners were and all of that stuff, since my memory isn't that great. If you wanted to find out about that stuff, you can go here instead. I'm sure Roch would cover that part better than I would, to say the least.

In any case, I had a ton of fun hosting the event, and considering how my co-host was an absolute dream to work with, we really managed to pull off quite a coup. For two days straight, the audience was hot and firmly behind every single band, cosplayer, and performer onstage, which, admittedly, is one of the most difficult things to do in an event where people only generally care about the cosplay segment and nothing more.

On day 1, the muse of the Best of Anime, Sam, was featured, and that was pretty interesting. Some of the highlights that day included Dennis Isidoro rocking like mad to the tune of "Jiban", and the Gibson sisters dominating three of the non-cosplay contests.

During the cosplay proper, I was wholeheartedly rooting for the girl who cosplayed as the Panzer from Zoids. The detail and the movement she put into the whole bit really wowed me. Of course, Umali came in his War Machine costume, complete with pulsating guns and cannons, which I quipped made for a lucky girlfriend for War Machine. The audience agreed.

Sagashimono disproved the notion that nobody cares what happens in a con after the cosplay, because their fans were positively rabid! I was overjoyed for Sagashimono as they just ruled the stage on Day 1.

Towards the end of the event, I had my first attempt at planking onstage, which I was totally doing ironically. One of my friends dared me, so I just went ahead and pulled it off. I'm still not a fan of planking, and I'm not going to start doing it at every gig I perform at. Besides, it's gonna be illegal soon. Welcome to the Philippines.

Special mention as well to MC, the girl we had on Day 2, who announced to everyone what a Gashapon was. She was our official Gashapon endorser for the whole day, and the last auction we had on Day 2, which led to people bidding like crazy for an overcoat, really caused quite a stir. The bidding war that sent the overcoat to 2,000 bucks was simply a sight to behold.

But really, day 2, to me, was marked by an amusing turn of events, where three attempts were made to get me to the Ani-Marriage Booth.

The first time, I managed to evade capture until the priest cuffed my co-host, Marybeth, instead.

The second time was hilarious, because initially, one of the security people was shooing the priest away. Then, he changed his mind, held me in place, and they did manage to cuff me to my co-host. Of course, what most people forget is that I'm serious when I say I'm an escapologist. I asked for a hairpin from Marybeth, then proceeded to lockpick my way out of the cuffs within a minute. We even went onstage just to taunt the Marriage Booth guys about it.

The third time, there was no escape...

You can just see how vehemently I was protesting this.

So I managed to end up cuffed to one of my best friends, Jazminne. It was hilarious even if she did try to hammerlock me a couple of times. We both had fun, though, and it was a pretty enjoyable as far as non-binding marriages go.

With this ring, you will become myyyy preciousssss...

Shortly afterwards, our "marriage certificate" was drawn up, the handcuffs were released, and I casually pointed out that I still had a hairpin in my pocket. I guess it just slipped my mind to lockpick my way out of getting "married" to Jazminne. LOL.

They didn't even spell her name right, making it doubly non-binding.

At the end of the two days, I felt exceptionally happy, having hosted non-stop for the duration of the event, and having made some great new friends, as well as touching base with some old ones as well. It was a great time for me, and as early as now, they want me and Marybeth to host for them in 2012. Well, why not?

In any case, thanks to Primetrade Asia for the opportunity to host this event. I was truly honored. More thanks to Chanty, who was with me for an after-party for two after the event as we had dinner to mark the successful occasion.

All in a day's work.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Just Another Magic Monday: Stick To Your Strengths

.:Just Another Magic Monday: Stick To Your Strengths:.

This past weekend, I had an epic hosting gig that I'd write more about, but I was only supposed to do half the weekend initially. At the last minute, I ended up doing the whole thing, because I had to beg off a particular booking that from the get-go, I figured was just too good to be true.

It was a show I was going to do for a debut, except the organizer insisted that I do a levitation illusion involving the debutante. I quietly suggested other magicians who were actually illusionists, but he was persistent and wouldn't take "no" for an answer. I had no idea why, but he really wanted me to be the performer for that debut, and I managed to strike a compromise with him that would allow me to pull off what he wanted.

A contemporary of mine, JB Dela Cruz, also a skilled illusionist, offered to help me out with doing an illusion that fit their requirements, and we were all set to pull it off. We knew what we wanted to do and had everything lined up, but I never heard from the client again.

Looking back, I'm glad the show didn't push through, but I was more glad that I approached JB Dela Cruz to collaborate with him rather than allow myself to be in over my head if that show came to pass.

Most magicians have their specialties, and assuming they're worth hiring, they do these particular things very well. It takes a rare breed of magician to be capable of doing everything, but there are some luminaries in our industry like Lou Hilario who come pretty close.

As a performer, I've done several things over the years, and I've found what works for me and stuck to it. I'm known for comedy mentalism, with a touch of magic and escapology. Considering that my signature acts are metal bending, the Shanghai Shackles, and Lady and the Rope, I'm really the last person you would expect to do live animal acts, or full-scale illusions. That's actually the very reason why I don't do illusions anymore, since it clashes with my onstage persona, and worse, makes me look bush-league, because whatever illusion I have, any magician with deeper pockets would have a better version of. This gap in material doesn't exist when it's all about scripting, improvisation, and performance, which is more the purview of a comedy mentalist than a stage illusionist.

As such, while I probably can't saw a woman in half, I'm pretty confident I can hypnotize a theater with 500 people in it. It's the fact that I know where my strengths lie that I can market myself in a way that assures my client they are getting their money's worth. That I can handle myself well whether in a street or stage setting only proves that versatility comes with the performer's skillset more than it comes with his arsenal of magic items.

It's the best advice I can give an aspiring magician who wishes to make a pro career, honestly: choose your battles wisely, and don't get in over your head. I know it's tempting to take a gig that would pay you well for an hour's work, but if you can't deliver, that one-time windfall of cash would hurt you more in the long run because you can be sure it won't be happening again anytime soon.

Knowing what I know now, I'm just glad I found my niche sooner than later. The first show I ever had will forever remind me exactly how difficult it is to turn pro when you don't know what you are doing. I had a lucky break then, but if I ignored the signs from that first show, I know I would very well have never improved as a performer, which is really what every magician worth their salt should aspire for, right?

As a magician in the Philippines, what with the stiff competition all around us, the least you could do to rise beyond the rank and file contemporaries you have is to love your craft enough to stick to your strengths when everyone's watching, and to work on your weaknesses when nobody is.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Patriotic Filipino's Response To The Blood Traitor, National Artist F. Sionil Jose... Or Is It?

.:A Patriotic Filipino's Response To The Blood Traitor, National Artist F. Sionil Jose... Or Is It?:.

Nation, as a Patriotic Filipino®, fewer things would make yours truly's blood boil than a racist who mindlessly bashes our nation's dignity, and it amuses yours truly to no end when the Schadenfreude erupts and they are treated to as much racism as they have just dished out, because that's how we Patriotic Filipinos roll.

If there are two things we Patriotic Filipinos hate, it would be racism, and the Chinese. Our hopes to finally rightfully lay claim to the Spratly Islands were rekindled anew just this week when Ms. Philippines beat Ms. China in the Ms. Universe pageant. If more territorial disputes were settled this way, we'd be a much powerful nation, albeit Venezuela would become the biggest superpower in the world.

Still, as terrible as racism is, blood traitors are just the worst. As in the absolute worst. Is it not bad enough, dear nation, that other races malign the Filipino spirit? Why must we chip in ourselves to this cesspool of uselessness?

That is why there is such an uproar over F. Sionil Jose recently, in light of the statements he has made, calling us, and by extension, himself, shallow. "The nerve of this person to criticize us," you say. Who does this guy think he is? Some National Artist? Oh, wait.

What you need to realize is that F. Sionil Jose is himself a Patriotic Filipino. That makes all the difference in the world and renders him immune from disagreement. Why? Why ask why? After all, when one sees the ills of the Filipino nation yet is himself acting all above it, then he must be one of us, all the same.

It also helps that he made sure to criticize Mideo Cruz's pathetic excuse for art, because the CBCP certainly appreciated the unlikely assist. Truly, he is an indisputable authority on what is and isn't art, and what is deep or what is shallow. If you wish to challenge his unquestionable authority, feel free to place your National Artist citation on the table before engaging the man.

Somewhere, Carlo J. Caparas is grumbling out loud.

When faced with the almighty depth of a National Artist, all of us fall short and are mired in shallowness. What we think is deep is nothing compared to the depth of a National Artist's thinking: an honor that distinguishes him from the hoi poloi of shallowness that is the other Filipinos, bestowed upon him by, well, the other Filipinos. When he compared the tepid reaction of Filipinos to a Japanese cultural dance to the wild reception the Filipino tinikling dance got, surely, fans of the WWE were reminded of the huge difference between those shallow spot monkeys who do nothing but flips...

Shallow. Bet this guy won't ever win any championships.

... and the refined performers who are known for their deep, involving, technical maneuvers.

Deep! Bet this guy is main eventing everywhere by now.

Indeed, the tepid reaction this Japanese folk dance got is the kind of reaction that no real fan of culture would ever give, even if it's probably the first time they ever saw something. Surely, the first time Elvis Presley hit the stage on his first ever gig in some run-down bar, every Tom, Dick, and Harry fell to their feet to worship his greatness because everyone recognizes talent in an instant. Indeed, having a folk dance that we have owned and cultivated since pre-colonial times pales in comparison to appreciating a folk dance of another nation that we have obviously only ever seen for the first time.

This is the shallowness of popular culture, as it were, nation, and it afflicts us Filipinos and only us (Non-Patriotic) Filipinos. Clearly, we have a monopoly on this shallowness, because as the previous example has shown us, Japan is obviously immune to these criticisms. The sublime genius of the Japanese has led to such cultural watersheds like Evangelion, Hachiko, Grave Of The Fireflies, and La Blue Girl, after all.


Meanwhile, our concept of entertainment is utterly shallow, because how dare we compare the shallowness that is Kris Aquino to the depth that is Ryan Seacrest? Indeed, being deep or being shallow is an ever-fixed state of mind and affairs, and not at all a particular moment in one's complex humanity. The shallow moments you indulge in define you as shallow altogether, even if you work nine hours a day to put food on the plate for a family of four. That's just how it is.

Surely, the Japanese who read manga in the trains while groping schoolgirls at the same time (Multi-tasking is a sign of depth.) are far deeper than the Filipinos who don't even have elbow room to do any reading whatsoever. Surely, the Koreans glued to their iPhones, finding out the latest news about Jun Ji-Hyun and whoever she's dating, are getting deeper and deeper by the minute.


Turn to America, and we find nothing but top-notch TV programming. While Filipino television is nothing but a morass of love triangles involving the Amboy cutie, the rich mestiza girlfriend, and the maid, America is churning out instant classics.


Surely, this isn't just a case of rose-tinted glasses, or a sorrily mistaken assumption that the grass is greener on the other side, and that everyone else is deeper than the average, non-Patriotic Filipino. Certainly, we aren't taking the best-case examples of other nations, then comparing it to the worst-case examples from our own nation, are we?

Are we?

Nation, there is no denying the shallowness that permeates every fiber of this country. It's the very kind of shallowness that stems from our very language, and the only reason anybody disagreed with James Soriano was because he has yet to win a Palanca.

Indeed, we are a shallow people because of consumerism and crass commercialism, every inch of it engulfing the Filipino psyche. Surely, Hollywood, Bollywood, Shinjuku, Milan, and any of these other far-off places in no way whatsoever perpetuate this kind of mindset for their own respective nations. To disagree with the unfortunate implications of F. Sionil Jose's article is taboo, simply because he's F. Sionil Jose, dammit. He gets a pass.

Just like this guy. Also, deep.

Nation, there is no question about our shallowness and the depths we go through just to revel in that shallowness. There is absolutely no disagreement that there is a need for depth. While some people believe that depth is not only relative but aspirational and universal, we shake our heads and say that depth, or rather, a lack of it, is endemic to Filipinos alone, as has been handily singled out in F. Sionil's article. Naysayers may disagree, but clearly, this dissent comes from a lack of perspective and depth. Also, a lack of Palanca Awards to their names.

For you to be an authority on what is deep, you yourself need to be unquestionably deep. Just like F. Sionil Jose. Obviously, a handful of Palanca's and a National Artist distinction has earned him the gravitas to be unquestionably deep.

Heaven forbid we consider  F. Sionil's contribution of his "literature" to a commercial clothing brand, the very same kind of commercialism he rails against in his essay, to be anything other than lending depth to this brand. Just the touch of class that Freeway needed, of course! It's not selling out at all, no no no. It's not at all a quiet albeit begrudging acceptance that commercialism, like proneness to criticism, encompasses everyone, no exceptions whatsoever. Not in a million, billion years.

But really: is there a way out of this bubbling muck of shallowness the Filipino finds himself in? Do you wish to hear from the Master how to do it? Do you wish to know the truth? Well, you can't handle the truth!

Nation, we live in a world with depth, and these depths need to be guarded by men with pens. Who's gonna do it? You? You, without a single Palanca to your name? F. Sionil Jose has a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom.

You weep for the shallowness of this nation and curse the Patriotic Filipinos who incessantly point this out. You have that luxury. You have that luxury of not knowing what we know: that this condescension, while annoying, saves lives. and F. Sionil Jose's existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.

You can't handle the truth, because deep down in places you don't talk about in parties, you want that depth. You need that depth. We use words like Palanca, National Artist, and hindsight. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent in comfort that affords us that privilege to have depth and know it for what it is. You use these words as a punchline.

F. Sionil Jose has neither the time nor the inclination to explain himself to an ungrateful nation that rises and sleeps under the blanket of depth that he provides, and then questions the manner in which he provides it. He would rather that you just said "thank you," and went on your way. Otherwise, we suggest you pick up a pen and earn yourself some Palanca's. Either way, we don't give a damn what you think you're entitled to.

His depth is the depth of a Yao Ming. Our shallowness is the shallowness of a Verne Troyer.

It's great to know that the very vanguards of this nation, we, the Patriotic Filipinos®, are also the very first to throw this nation under the bus at the drop of a bamboo pole. Because that's how we roll.

Marcelle Fabie (Pronounced "Fa-bee-yay".), who blogs on, is a man who embodies the two greatest characteristics of a Patriotic Filipino®: he is patriotic, and he is Filipino. As an upstanding individual of strong moral fibre, he puts the "grit" in "journalistic inteGRITy." Hard-hitting, fearless (except when it comes to Rick Astley), and unbelievably opinionated, he stands for truthiness, justice, and the Filipino way. He has a Pulitzer, a Nobel, an Oscar, a Grammy, and five other weirdly-named pet dogs.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Project 52 (37/52) : Another Used To Be - Joe

.:Project 52 (37/52): Another Used To Be - Joe:.

No music video for this song? I call shenanigans.

When I was still working for WAVE 891, among my fondest memories of that experience so long ago was the playlist we had. It was a tour de force of R& tracks that were not nearly as well-known as the ones that break into the mainstream like crazy, but memorable enough to stick if you heard it once or twice. Joe's "Another Used To Be" was one of those songs.

This song really does spell out how someone who has been broken in the past looks at relationships afterwards: there's this kind of optimism that love is in the air, but at the same time, there's some telltale fear of finding someone, and then after everything, they just become "another used to be."

Honestly, when you find yourself being very close friends with the people you love, and then you find yourself estranged after the love has gone, you can't help but feel very apprehensive about getting involved with someone again. I remember a story from St. John Bosco back in the day, about how he tried his best not to be so attached to a person because it would always hurt him when they inevitably parted, much like when he made a pact with Louis Commolo that resulted in Louis coming back from beyond the grave just to hold his end of the bargain.

Joe's song speaks of this kind of pain and agony. "Another Used To Be" is a song that communicates that unspoken fear, that perhaps, the status quo is better than changing it, because in the event of failure, the status quo could never, ever be restored.

It's interesting, really.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Highs

.:Reconnection And Reignition:.

Recently got back in touch with Chanty, an old friend of mine, and she was actually with me last Friday when I opened for Mr. Mike Unson last Friday in Capone's, along with JB Dela Cruz and Trapeze. It was a pretty awesome night as I was hitting my stride with standup comedy, finding that now that after finally having gotten the hang of properly sequencing my jokes, I can experiment with the delivery to see which lines get better or worse reactions.

It's like you photoshopped three separate shoots together.

I must say that a kind of confidence was instilled in me ever since Mike took me under his wing. It was good to know that someone wouldn't hesitate to let me have it if he felt I wasn't performing well enough, or give me props if he felt I was. It's been awesome, and when I did a second straight set last Saturday in Conspiracy, I managed to throw out new material without having that usual moment where I falter because I wasn't sure where I was going with it.

One of the things I learned from Mike was when you're onstage, you need to own it. Sure, you are a nice guy in real life, but if you're going to do blue material, then own it. Sure, you're not homophobic in real life, but if that's your material, then own it. If you can't, then obviously, don't do the material. Write something you can and will own onstage, no matter how absurd or ludicrous or offensive. After that, work your way up to better and better material, better and better delivery, and never rest on your laurels. Keep on keeping on.

Which, apparently, also applies to my Geekfighting.

After a mild miscommunication between me and Chanty, she ended up joining me in last night's Geekfight in Last Home, which is an awesome Geekfighting venue with rather terrible service (Three hours to serve fried chicken? Really?!?). There were, all in all, six teams that night, and we were just pleased as punch that the whole thing was running as smoothly as can be, and initially, during the first round, we were joking to some of our adopted members that it shouldn't shock them how badly we were doing because we were, after all, the "Worst Group Ever."

But then, when we Joker-ed the second round, we just went on a tear that shocked even us.

By the end of the night, we came in second, although there was a notable gap between the first and second placers, so we didn't have any excuses that night. It was stunning for WGE, since none of us came into that Geekfight prepared. We all went in cold, yet there we were, giving people a run for their money, and even squeaking past Broken Social Skills, who placed third. If there were a prize for an effort like that, Ms. Philippines placing higher than Ms. China in the Ms. Universe package a while ago would mean we owned the Spratlys now.

Awesome, awesome night, and can't wait for the next Geekfight!

Fight for the right to be mediocre!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Just Another Magic Monday: Michael Ammar Live In Manila!!!

.:Just Another Magic Monday: Michael Ammar Live In Manila!!!:.

They don't call it "The Michael Ammar Experience" for nothing.

Last Sunday night, Manila played host to the legen... wait for it... dary magician, one of the students of the Professor, Dai Vernon, none other than Michael Ammar. It all came together on such short notice, but lo and behold, the fine people from the Philippine magic community, including Chubster, George Ma Mon Luk, and so forth really worked hard to make this event succeed.

The event happened at Pepeton's Grill, which had awesome barbecue, to say the least. I went there not knowing what to expect, and half-assuming we'd be eating inside a restaurant or outdoors in a very informal setting, which I'm certainly would've been strange.

Of course, when I discovered there was pretty much a function room for the lecture, my expectations went back to normal, albeit I definitely figured there was going to be a shortage of space given how many people wanted a chance to meet Michael Ammar.

That night, we were treated to an amazing time, and the Philippine magic community showed Mr. Ammar all the love in the world as he delivered a world-class lecture worth every single penny everyone paid for that night.

I've always liked Mr. Ammar because he was a true student of the craft. His very simple and old-school approach, punctuated by his very infectious humor, never fails to remind people that magicians don't always need to reinvent the wheel to become luminaries in this industry. While many would say Ammar gives us a back-to-basics approach, very few would ever say that Ammar's skill level is anywhere near "basic." He is exceptionally skilled, and with his simple but funny story, he lets that skill shine through without having to rely on hype or gimmickry to carry him through. It's this old-school sensibility that many people overlook when trying to be contemporary magicians. Too many people pattern themselves after the Blaine's and the Angel's of this world without even first figuring out if the old-school approach would fit them more. Michael Ammar proves effortlessly that old-school isn't out of time or out of style: it's just out of this world!

That night, we learned a lot of subtle nuances from him, but overall, just like the last time Shoot Ogawa came here, what I appreciated most was the chance to see a performer at work, showing us the difference between doing tricks and performing magic. I think that all things considered, every single magician in that room that night got more than their money's worth from that experience alone, even if they never bother to do a single routine from the lecture for the rest of their lives.

So yes, thank you very much, Mr. Ammar! You were phenomenal, and picking your brain was, without a doubt, one of the most wonderful opportunities we Filipino magicians have ever had the honor of being gifted with.

Damn. Shadows. Didn't "The Omen" say something about that?

Friday, September 09, 2011

Too Fabulous For This World: AJ Matela (1982-2011)

.:Too Fabulous For This World: AJ Matela (1982-2011):.

Today, the world lost a beautiful soul.

AJ was always larger than life to me. I remember that the first time I met him was during the 2007 Top 10 Emerging Influential Bloggers Night. I was hoping to embed a video from Coy of that event, but unfortunately, AJ wasn't in it.

I will always remember that time because after I did a mind-reading act for him, one of the first things AJ told me was that he used to work with mentalists as well, so he knew how I do what I do. And he wasn't kidding. The man could've been a genuine Mind Master if he ever decided he wanted to do it. He was, on first impression, the kind of man who had everything he needed to get any woman he desired.

Thanks to Juned for this picture.

Then, I found out which blog he actually owned.

Here was a guy who looked like a complete heartthrob, then the very next moment, I found out that he helmed the site Bakla Ako, May Reklamo? AJ, in two words, broke stereotypes. Like a boss.

I even chuckled when, in a subsequent conversation, he mentioned that he had several gorgeous girlfriends before he came out, easily destroying the self-esteem of all the straight men who were within earshot when he said it. Because they knew it was true: AJ's appeal crossed gender lines like nobody's business. He was just awesome like that.

He was feisty and he stood strong for his beliefs. His blog entries were rife with the passion he had for the things he believed in. Whether it was advocating gay rights, or taking misbehaving bloggers to task, or just reading a certain restaurant the riot act for their rude treatment of bloggers, he wrote with conviction and he stood by everything he would say.

Did I also mention how much I loved Bloggers Da Who? That site was just amazing, and what the community needed at the time. Heck, I think the community needs it to this very day. Like, now na.

As time went by, it seemed funny to me how I came to appreciate AJ, because here was someone who proudly announced that he was gay and outright dared anyone to tell him they had a problem with that, yet the first thing I would always remember about AJ wasn't the fact that he was gay, but how great a person he really was. I guess that's what makes writing this very difficult right now: knowing that this great person is no longer with us.

In 2008, he was one of the four hosts of the Philippine Blog Awards, along with myself, Tiffy, and Kring. I had fond memories of how full of life AJ was that night. If anything, I still can't believe I'm writing a eulogy for him to this very moment. That night in 2008 made anyone who knew him and saw him that night feel that he was immortal and would live on forever.

Pictured: Quadruple Fabulousness. And, oh,
left of Quadruple Fabulousness, Kring, Tiffy, and myself.

Some of us knew that AJ was ill for a long while already, but he mostly kept it to himself. Maybe he didn't want us to worry too much. Maybe he didn't want people to feel sorry for him. Only when Migs wrote about it did the severity of the situation come to light. It still didn't sink in. AJ always prided himself in being self-made, self-sufficient, and ultimately, selfless. That's why he never really let on to us just how ill he was, and we saw nothing but an indefatigable faith and unwavering optimism in the few Plurks he still managed to make. His strength of character really shone through, and I'm still dumbstruck that he isn't here with us today, nor would we be greeting him a very happy birthday tomorrow. AJ was just such a vivacious person that you couldn't help but think he would live forever.

But yes, AJ will live on forever, in the hearts of each and every one of us. For the nearly 29 years he has spent upon this planet, he has left his mark on so many of us. And as his friends, we mourn his passing, but choose to stay strong, to keep calm, and to carry on, through his very example.

It's fitting that in the life of Mr. "Bakla Ako, May Reklamo?", the only reklamo we have is that he was gone too soon. Far, far too soon.

Thank you, AJ. When we're lost, we can look, and in our hearts, we will find you. Time. After. Time.

If you wish to help AJ's family in their time of need and grief, 1000 Volunteers For AJ is the best hub to extend that aid, and all necessary details will be there.

Other blogposts by friends who will all miss AJ:

Poyt Salazar - Adieu, AJ!
Juned Sonido - My Friend, AJ Matela
Marck Rimorim - Somewhere Over The Rainbow.
Mica Rodriguez - In Loving Memory Of AJ Matela
Gail Dela Cruz-Villanueva - For AJ

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Like Always, Wake Me Up When September Ends

.:Totally Not Looking Forward To This Month:.

Yeah, I don't think I need to say much else beyond that, really. Hate this month, hate having to put up pretenses that everything's fine and dandy, hate having to deal with someone reminding me I'm still not okay while she is because she totally jumped the first person who gave her the time of day.

I don't really have much of a point on this day. I know, these kinds of rambling, nothing-in-particular posts have shown up more often lately, but I can't help it. I feel like there's something missing in my life, and nothing I've been doing has been able to fill it. At all.

Then again, maybe if I tried something like this, I'd have 2,000 things to fill that missing thing in my life. LOL.

This man wins at life. Sorta Not-Safe-For-Work and Not-Safe-For-Self-Esteem.

I hope I can break free from this rut soon.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Project 52 (36/52): Antukin - Rico Blanco

.:Project 52 (36/52): Antukin - Rico Blanco:.

If there's a will, there's a way.

It has been a while since this song came out, and I must say, it is definitely one of the truest songs I have ever heard. But what brought this reminiscence about Rico Blanco's instant classic, you ask?

Here's an obvious hint.

So yes, I met e man last Friday in Capone's, while performing onstage with Mike Unson. Needless to say, it was an awesome time, and seeing how we're doing a show in Capone's every Friday night and on this Saturday, we will be performing in Conspiracy, so you totally should drop in on us, but anyways.

This song is one of my favorite songs of all time because it really underscores a basic truth in life and love: if you don't want it, you find excuses. If you want it, you find ways. Ultimately, it's the realization of that fact that allows a person to understand how life works, especially when it comes to relationships. We overanalyze every little thing thanks to the mind games men and women play on each other, but ultimately, it boils down to whether or not both of you really want it.

This is admittedly a short analysis of a really great song, but it's hard to type out a full entry on my iPad. Despite that, I do believe that this song really just hits the spot, especially when I need to remind myself that while I can want something with all my heart, if she doesn't want it herself, then clearly, it isn't going to work out.

If there's one line that stood out from the Titanic that neither Jack nor Rose said, it must be the line "I make my own luck." The Phantom uttered these words, obviously, and it was so true, and ultimately, because everyone has that capacity, if someone really likes you, any faux pas would get glossed over, but if someone doesn't, well, then it's pretty obvious that they will take any excuse to drop you like a hot potato.

With Rico Blanco working on a new album soon, I can't wait for the next classic from him, definitely.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Just Another Magic Monday: Suddenly, Hecklers

.:Just Another Magic Monday: Suddenly, Hecklers:.

And not even the good kind!

So let me tell you about last Friday's show in Capone's, featuring yours truly, Arianne dela Cruz, JB dela Cruz, Penguin, and Mike Unson...

A friend of mine from MTG was there, along with some of his officemates (I presume). They were having a good time, and because I told them we were having a free show in the bar in a bit, they stayed on to catch it. Things were going mostly fine until near the end of Arianne's set, when one of the people from that group asked her to play "Price Tag", but nothing too big a deal.

Then, during JB's set, one of the people from the group decided to become a full-on heckler, and started exposing JB's magic and ruining the fun for everyone else. JB managed to maintain his composure all throughout, but it was clear that this heckler was ruining the mood of the night.

Things came to a head when it was Mike's turn, as the heckler went and tried to turn Mike's set into a two-man act, where she says something ridiculous, and Mike puts her in her place. Repeatedly. This went on until at some point, this heckler actually got flashed in the face with a strong flashlight, then proceeded to go up onstage to accost Mike, who managed to keep his composure despite the clearly agitating situation.

Suddenly, there were hecklers.

Me? I got off easy, because during my set, the heckler was outside, grabbing a smoke. I managed to get through my set thoroughly unmolested, and only when Mike flashed the light at the heckler's face and she didn't even so much as flinch did we realize that this heckler was probably more drunk than Aquaman swimming in an ocean made of Tequila.

Anyways, the moral of this story is that no matter how good you are, it only takes a little too much alcohol for a member of your audience to turn against you. The onus is therefore on you to figure out a way to put that heckler in their place while keeping the rest of the audience on your side. For the most part, Mike pulled that off, even winning an applause break when his putdown really just deflated the heckler enough for her to want to accost him onstage.

To Tim Tayag's credit, he also had an excellent comeback for when a heckler asked him if he was gay. Here's the video for proof.

Performers of all kinds, whether magicians or otherwise, need to be prepared for hecklers. Yeah, they ruin the fun, but there are always ways and means to mitigate the damage they can do to your show, and it's up to you to figure out which one works for you and in which situations.

Effective responses to hecklers range from: ignoring them, putting them in their place, breaking their arm (Ask Richard Osterlind about that.), humiliating them, or straight-up stopping the show to drive home the point you mean business.

After everything has been said and done, always remember: you hold the microphone, not them. You have the power. You have the pipe bomb, as CM Punk would put it. If you remember that little fact, you'd find yourself at a point where nothing a heckler can do could possibly faze you.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Clearly, Alyssa Bereznak Had Vigilance...

.:... So Jon Finkel Never Tapped Her:.

A couple of days ago, I discovered an article that hit rather close to home, and despite having read the original version where Mr. Finkel was heavily implied but never named, I cringed at the disparaging nature of the article, and how it was clearly written with the intention to get a laugh at the expense of Jon.

See, it isn't really the fact that I play Magic: The Gathering as well that struck a nerve with me while reading this. Neither was it the fact that Jon Finkel was, for all intents and purposes, dumped by a girl for being too much of a dweeb. It was the mean-spirited aftermath of the whole thing that just sent a chill down my spine.

True, Alyssa is a person with issues. Then again, who isn't? While I dislike the misogyny that springs out from people who took Ms. Bereznak to task for what she did to Jon, I'd rather focus on the very predatory things she did to Jon instead and work from there.

While I'm not a world champion like Mr. Finkel, I certainly know how it feels like to have someone try to make a laughing stock out of you just because they can. Whether it be some very unflattering blog post about you that may or may not mention you by name (Obviously, Finkel wasn't lucky enough to get the latter treatment.), wasn't it enough already that you went out, it didn't work out, you take your respective mental notes, and you move on? I'm pretty sure there was no need to embellish the story when the more sensible course of action is to just, well, let sleeping dogs lie.

I've also had the displeasure of having someone supposedly special to me make it very clear that she thought my being a magician was kid's stuff and terribly immature. I especially found this amusing coming from someone who, at the time, didn't even have a job, while I was supporting myself, paying the rent, and putting myself through my Masters with my "kid's stuff." She was embarrassed of me and would avoid introducing me to her friends if she could help it, and yet, again, none of her friends were really making a living at the time. When someone's working and making a very good living entertaining kids, and another someone is still, for all intents and purposes, a dependent, and living off of an allowance, who's really being a kid, again?

And, oh, I still have a couple of shows this weekend, and what I would make in two hours of work, she would make in two months. Not too shabby for some "kid's stuff," huh?

But see, it isn't all about the money. That's nice and all, but it's not like my whole being is defined by the fact that I'm a magician or a mentalist. More importantly, beyond the money, it's about the fact that I enjoy what I do, and I certainly am not hurting anyone while I do it, nor, particularly in this case, did it ever steal away any time from my social life at the time. Considering that most of my shows were for corporate entities rather than children, I don't even see the whole "kid's stuff" part, for that matter.

Yes, I'm being bitter. But I'd like to think I'm making a point here.

Jon Finkel just won $3 million or so dollars from a world tournament for poker a year or so ago. The man is loaded, he is a managing partner in a hedge fund, he looks fit, and given his classy responses online, he's also witty, modest, and kind. Sure, maybe being a "dweeb" as it were can really be a dealbreaker for someone, and hey, it's not like Alyssa was obliged to really hook up with Jon after a couple of dates (Especially not after one that involved watching a play about a serial killer.). It's just that there was no need to be mean-spirited about it after the fact. You went out, it didn't work out, let bygones be bygones, and let sleeping dogs lie.

But noooooo. Some people just really can't do that, so to make themselves feel better, or to maybe just get some more hits on their little blog, they'll take their shots at you. Or make it a point to embarrass you in front of their friends. Or, I dunno, borrow money from you and then whine about someone else who owes them money while they haven't paid you in two years. Y'know, the normal stuff.

I guess I saw a little too much of myself in Jon Finkel's plight, although I wouldn't mind winning $3 million myself. That the feelings of contempt I feel right now are bubbling up like crazy despite my relative anonymity, only tells me about the kind of temperance and perspective Jon has in being able to respond to the outright slander against him in a very dignified and classy manner.

I guess the take-away here is not that Alyssa should totally have gotten with Jon. Clearly, they weren't going to work out, and it was good that they figured it out two dates in. While Alyssa thinks it's human nature to be shallow and judgmental, I think what really sets the decent human beings apart from the douchebags is their ability to express these shallow judgments as a matter of fact rather than as an opportunity to humiliate someone.

It's this kind of honesty not only to others but to one's self as well that is sorely missing in this world today. In all honesty, I've been feeling like crud the past few months, especially in the face of broken promises and blatant lies, but what keeps me going and what keeps me optimistic is the belief that no matter what my shortcomings are, I'm not afraid to own up to them and to make amends for them where fitting.

As I approach my birthday this month, I always end up being pensive, because every single year, all I really want is peace of mind and a chance to bury the hatchet. Every year, I try, and every year, it doesn't happen. If I could have just half the kind of temperance Jon Finkel has demonstrated these past few days, then I'd be pretty sure this would be a far better birthday than the last couple of years has been.

And it's a bit of a tangent, but speaking of being honest to one's self, earlier on Twitter, I made a rather scathing comment when I said: Matt Hardy claims to want to make the world a better place. If he actually killed himself like he threatened to, he would've accomplished that goal.

If you're looking for context, check out this article. Long story short, everyone thought he left a suicide note, people actually called 911, and then it turns out it was just him having a "Genesis" for himself. Never mind what his fans felt: it's all about him and his latest cry for attention.

My uncharacteristic meanness to him aside, I do believe it's time he came to terms with the fact that he needs help. Working people over suicide was not, in any way cool. It wasn't even a case of him contemplating it, and then having cold feet at the last moment: it was just him trying to get a rise from the internet yet again, and while people did fall for it hook, line, and sinker, was it really worth the price?

If he does end up killing himself next time, I honestly wouldn't even bat an eyelash anymore. He has just gotten to that point already with so many of his fans, and the worst part is, he just thinks we hate him or something. We don't. We just wish he'd get his act together before it's too late and we all exchange I told you so's.

The Alyssa's and the Matt's of this world are going to be all around us, preying on us and our general outlook and willingness to assume the best in people. Ultimately, it's also up to us to remind ourselves that these people aren't representative of us, nor should we allow them to be, because people like Alyssa Bereznak and Matt Hardy exist to remind us that we can do better even if on paper, they were given much more than we were. It isn't a case of saying "someone has it worse." It's a case of someone making it worse. For themselves. It's a trait we can identify in them, and if we can identify it in us, then we would be best served to get it out of our system.

Or maybe I'm just being bitter right now. Be that as it may, does it really invalidate my point?

Film Review: Zombadings - Patayin Sa Shokot Si Remington

.:m.globe In The House!:.

Was at an interesting launch for Globe last night, as I was given the opportunity to be acquainted with Globe's new *free* service to give people a taste of how it is to go online on their mobile through the one-stop portal, m.globe.

Pretty nifty, really. Aside from the fact that you can check some of the basic features for your Twitter and Facebook, you can even readily check your balance from there, and it's a very simple program that almost any online-ready mobile phone would be capable of running.

Just text M.GLOBE to 2910 or visit on your mobile phone to try it out. This is a very good tool, and quite honestly, seeing as more people have cellular phones than computers, the easier it becomes to go online with your phone, the more exciting mobile internet can get.

.:Film Review: Zombadings:.

Yes, we had a gay old time, all right.

Zombadings: Patayin Sa Shokot Si Remington
George Romero would be proud.


I really didn't know what to expect from Zombadings despite the fact that I've been anticipating it for quite a while already. It seemed like a hilarious romp into the zombie genre for Filipino films, and seeing as how Roderick Paulate and Eugene Domingo were both part of the cast, it seemed pretty hard for the film to go wrong. I was right.

For a film that plays the stereotypical gay trope for laughs, Zombadings managed to exceed expectations by giving a very positive and even uplifting message for homosexuality, pushing the idea of homophobia as something deplorable and worthy of criticism, in fact making a complete villain out of the most homophobic character in the film, aside from the lead himself, Remington.

As a child, Remington poked fun at gays solely because they're gay. He keeps doing this, and at some point, he insults a homosexual who decides to curse him to turn gay. Fifteen years hence, and as he tries to live a normal life, and even finds himself attracted to the girl next-door, he mysteriously gets attacked several times, each time becoming more and more stereotypically gay. First, he dresses in very tight clothes, then he starts speaking in fluent Swardspeak. Then, he finds himself falling for his best friend, who actually attempts to reciprocate his attraction.

All throughout this, a serial killer is on the loose in the small town, murdering homosexuals. This mystery isn't much of a mystery, though, as the identity of the killer is revealed pretty early on. Nonetheless, knowing that Remington's own godfather is the serial killer, and knowing that Remington is now gay, things are going to come to a head. He has a weapon that kills his targets, called the Gaydar. It works by detecting homosexuals, then promptly frying them.

Interestingly enough, the Zombadings showed up only at the final act of the film, when, in a last-ditch effort to revive his master, the manservant of the homosexual who cursed Remington performed a ritual that turned all of the victims of the serial killer into zombies.

The only way for the curse on Remington to be broken would be for a straight man to take Remington's place and turn gay. Remington's father makes this sacrifice for him. All's well that ends well, for the most part.

When the film ended, I was stunned at how sensitive the film was to gay issues. Just when it felt awkward that turning gay was a plot point and set as a bad thing, the film manages to put this sticky issue into perspective by mentioning the fact that regardless of anything else, this is not who Remington truly is, and as such, if he decided to let the curse become permanent, he would only be denying himself.

It's not so much that being gay is a bad thing: it's that being gay would be allowing himself to become someone he is not, and that is truly a tragedy, which his father accepted on his behalf, making it a true, genuine sacrifice. The way the storyline played itself out just astounded me, honestly: it imparted a very positive message about homosexuality, and underscored what it means to be true to your own self.

For a comedy film that was meant to play on stereotypical tropes, Zombadings is a very deep and introspective look into the state of being for the homosexual. That the small town is almost wholly accepting of homosexuality, albeit with the immature perception that it's because gays are funny and beauticians, was enhanced by the diversity of the gay characters in the film, even if they were being stereotypes.

After the film, I ended up running into Ms. Giselle Sanchez, and Mr. Roderick Paulate. To say that this was an awesome moment would be an understatement.

Now, to photoshop Rick Astley into this picture in place of Ms. Giselle... I keed, I keed.

I loved this film. It managed to express a very positive message about homosexuality in a light-hearted and matter-of-factly manner. Considering how easy it is for well-meaning efforts in progressive filmmaking to end up being too heavy-handed or outright backfiring, this film managed to not only paint gays in a positive light, but also managed to dispel the notion that if being gay is okay, then everyone would be gay. Being true to yourself means you are every bit a valid person whether you are straight or gay.

For that and more, it's hard not to think that this film is the best Filipino film I've seen this year, even better than “Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank.”

Fun Evaluation: A+ (The comedy was strong in this one.)
Criticval Evaluation: A+ (Tight scripting allowed the film to get its message across without accidentally marginalizing itself, or becoming too preachy.)