Thursday, February 20, 2014

Project 52 2014 (7/52): Closing Time

.:Project 52 2014 (7/52): Closing Time:.

Closing time, open all the doors and let you out into the world...

A few years ago, Tomato Kick opened its doors to standup comedy. I had a small part in helping it get started, indeed, but it was really GB Labrador who was the one who really made that scene grow, with Lui's blessings. It was amazing, really: I couldn't have felt more happy that there was a place for comedians to hone their craft and get better as performers. There's a reason why GB is one of the most respected comedians around, and his undeniable passion for the craft is arguably that reason.

We built this city on laughs. We made it happen, because nothing but good things can come out from a collection of people who just want to entertain.

                                                  from Comedy Manila    
As you can see, we are legion.

It was amazing. We managed to make something of ourselves through all of that, as time went on and on. Standup comedy in the Philippines grew and grew, presenting itself as more than an adequate alternative to the Vice Gandas of the industry, albeit nowhere nearly as popular. And that was fine. That wasn't a problem. We just wanted to do our own thing, and for better or worse, Tomato Kick was a witness to a whole lot of that.

That night in particular, I went with a classic set punctuated by a few new flourishes I've been working on for weeks. I wanted to cap things off on a high note, though, so I went ahead and did my psychokinesis routine, because that's always a crowd-pleaser.

Little did I know I was going to do more than just entertain that night, when I got this from the fine lady who stepped up onstage with me...

Dala daw ako ng foods.

Closing time, turn off all the lights on every boy and every girl...

It was funny, really. I may have missed that fateful night when some comics got arrested for whatever reason last year or so. I may have also missed that night where a fight pretty much broke out in the bar. But I always knew that I was surrounded by a crazy bunch, and boy, did I appreciate them for that. It was crazy, but you can't go wrong hanging around people who look at the absurdity of life and laugh in the face of it for a living. These were people you simply cannot ever forget about.

I had countless experiences and memories in Tomato Kick, from their awesome nachos to their incomparable Alfredo Marinara, but overall, the thing that made TK Katipunan rock for me was that it was a bastion for comedy at a point where we felt that we were completely irrelevant and even invisible. I realize that comedy has been cyclical and that we have had pioneers long before already ply their trade here, but it's hard to deny that as more performers came along, the audience grew along with it.

It's a small world, and it's serious business. Egos. Feuds. Battle scars. These things definitely are a part of the comedy world, but I've learned to accept them as a matter of course and realize that they are part of the craft, no matter how uncomfortable they can sometimes get. In the end, though, when the comedians come together to deliver the goods, then egos be damned, that's what they end up doing, and Tomato Kick was one of the biggest reasons that remains possible to this very day.

Clearly, that's the reason, because it sure isn't our excellent photography.

Three years of memory really do come by quickly when you're having fun. Wednesday night was definitely a wonderful culmination of everything we comics have done, from Comedy Cartel to Comedy Manila to Comedy Mayhem to all the independent open mic guys who went and plied their trade because being a comedian is more important than having to worry about who's aligned with what.

Closing time, you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here...

I definitely loved Tomato Kick. It didn't matter what the case was, I made it a point to be there as often as I could, whether to perform or even just to watch and support other comics. I've probably spent over half a hundred hours onstage and gotten my beak wet in comedy far longer than anywhere else, and let's face it: my first ever 20-minute set happened in Tomato Kick, and I never even thought I was capable of that before I tried it. I can't help but reiterate my thanks to GB for that: he gave me that opportunity, and I ran with it.

Yeah, he's taller than me.

It's kind of weird thinking that next week, TK will no longer be around, but the people who were part of it, from the comics to Lui to even Jerome, our favorite server, will always have an unbreakable bond forged by the fires of standup comedy. For better or worse, there's no escaping the legacy of TK.

So thank you, Tomato Kick. Thanks for the memories, and thanks for being an amazing part of Philippine standup comedy. Some say this is the end of an era, with you closing down, and with us comics needing to find a new stronghold for our craft, but I simply say that this is far from the end. There is a lot more to come, and what you have instilled in all of us will shine on through wherever we go next.

Closing time, every new beginning comes 
from some other beginning's end...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

So It Was A Great Episode Last Night...

.:The Telegram, The Tips, The Temerity:.

Sheer beauty.

Last night was probably one of my favorite Rowdy Empire episodes in a while, because everything about last night was just special.

It was a great episode cutting it close to February 14, and given my personal disdain for the date, it was pretty good that the whole show was an exercise in having varied topics that didn't have to deal with the day as much as other people would have pushed it.

There was, of course, an interesting conversation about satire, and how So What's News?, my favorite Pinoy fake news website, seemed to be doing satire and inflicting a lot of hatred and anger on the internet, which I pointed out was entirely depended on people who misread the satire and don't understand what it's really about.

But then, I also pointed out that saying the BIR might want to look into Michael Martinez after his skating bid in Sochi is cutting it as a little too plausible to be easily recognized as satire.

From there, we even went with an 8List about how to have a Cheapskate February 14, which I mostly wrote to poke fun at the day, really. Where else do you find tips about riding a bus with a DVD player during rush hour in EDSA to catch a cheap movie for the price of bus tickets, after all?

But the piece d' resistance of last night was absolutely the part where some students from UP Med dropped by and handed Chiqui flowers and even sang for her, as someone sent her a singing telegram by secret. We still have no idea who the guy was.

It was really interesting to see Chiqui all blushing and giddy that night, and believe you me, it couldn't have happened to a more deserving gal.

That's stylin'.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Project 52 2014 (6/52): Gone Too Soon

.:Project 52 2014 (6/52): Gone Too Soon:.

Like a comet, blazing 'cross the evening sky...

I don't need to blame the Mercury retrograde on this one, but just as 2009 was a pretty horrible year when it came to the sheer amount of tragedies that struck us, 2014, on its first two months alone, has definitely come with its own brand of bad news.

A few weeks ago, one of the pioneer vloggers of the Philippines and Globe's social media manager, Coy Caballes, lost to a protracted battle against cancer.

He was a good friend, and certainly someone I always enjoyed speaking to. Insightful, trailblazing, and revolutionary, Coy, at his age, was doing things way before they were cool. He was a man ahead of his time, ahead of his curve.

And I know I've written about him earlier on already, but it bears repeating: Coy was a great person, and he will be missed.

Like a rainbow, fading in the twinkling of an eye...

Last Friday, a bus carrying mostly activists and artists fell down a ravine in Mountain Province. Among the 14 casualties was a man named Tado Jimenez.

I've know Tado since I got involved with Campus 99.5 way back in 2008. In the six years I've known him, he was nothing but a kind and generous soul: always playful, always witty, and always someone who was way smarter than his chosen character would have you believe. When I met his kids, and how amazingly eloquent they were, I realized that this was a man who really strived to be a good parent. 

I remember about five years ago, when he asked me to perform an impromptu magic show for someone. He wasn't even there. He just wanted to spread some cheer to someone at random, and needless to say, I was happy to oblige him. When Limitado was launched in '70s Bistro, I was there, too.

The last thing Tado tweeted before his unfortunate accident was a joke at his expense while he was on the road. Who knew?

Like the loss of sunlight, on a cloudy afternoon...

Last Sunday, an old friend, gamer and cosplay photographer Vic Palileo, succumbed to a stroke. In his Facebook, he was actually inviting people to a shoot, and was looking forward to the weekend.

I've known Vic for longer than I could think of. Back when I still played L5R, which I did very briefly, he was one of the people I would speak to about it most often. Out of everyone, he was the one I most likely saw most often and most recently, as I ran into him earlier this year in Neutral Grounds. With all the things I've done in cosplay hosting, it was a safe bet I would see him there, too.

But not anymore.

Shiny and sparkly, and splendidly bright...

I still haven't honestly even worked my way past processing Coy's passing, but this hat trick has certainly done a number on me. Three people I considered friends, passing in rapid succession, as if not even giving you a chance to catch your breath.

I said it before, and I'll say it again: we're too young to be writing eulogies about each other, guys. I don't want to think about the next tragedy to befall us, but with them coming so close to each other, one can't help but be filled with sad, dreary thoughts, and your only consolation is, whatever the case may be, they no longer have to bear the cares of this world. They are, unequivocably in a better place than where we are today.

But we will still miss them all, because while they were here, they made this place we call our world just that much better by being here.

Here one day, gone one night...

I had so many pictures taken with Coy over the years, but I have never been good at archiving that stuff, and I've only ever started tagging photos just a year or two ago. I've probably had pictures taken with Tado, but none for my own benefit. I probably had a picture with Vic during the Hobby Haven days, but Facebook wasn't even a thing yet, at the time. In fact, when it came to Vic, most of the time, he was behind the camera, taking a picture of me and some cosplayer. There was that one time, though, where I was the one who took a picture on his behalf.

So true, the memories aren't as neatly packaged as I would want them to be. But they still exist, even if the pictures aren't there for the world to see. Well, it's not for their benefit that I write this, but for three of my friends who are no longer here.

Like the sunset, dying with the rising of the moon...

In life, we your friends have thanked you, appreciated you, and recognized what amazing people you were.

Thus, it's only fitting that in your death, we commemorate all of those things, as we should. 

We'll see you around, Coy. Thanks for the memories, Tado. You will always be remembered, Vic. But though we may realize that you are now in a better place, you can't blame us if we feel, that you were...

Gone too soon...

From this world. But not in our hearts and minds.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Project 52 2014 (5/52): R-e-s-p-e-c-t

.:Project 52 2014 (5/52): R-e-s-p-e-c-t:.


Real talk: I don't hesitate to call myself a feminist, even if I realize that I have my lapses here and there. To me, it's simple: there is still a lot of disparity between genders, and feminism strives for equality not only in ways that will diminish my current position of privilege as a cisgendered Filipino male in the Philippines, but also enhance it, by hopefully destroying restrictive gender roles and expectations that do more harm than good to everyone.

So it's with a lot of consternation that I find myself surrounded by people who completely missed the point of this piece about the Vhong-Deniece situation. Anyone who bothers actually reading the article would realize that this alarming trend of misogyny has always existed, but its reach has expanded with the rise of the internet and mass media before it. Anyone who bothers actually reading the article would also understand that if they don't feel in any way guilty of bashing Deniece Cornejo based on her gender, then the article simply isn't talking about them.

Apparently, that was simply me overestimating the ability of the average reader to know better than to hijack a discussion that isn't even about them at all. Until they start calling feminists both "feminazis" and "brain-damaged," which sort of betrays that they're actually just butthurt at being called out on their bull.

I'm so not affected, I will spend an entire blog entry saying why I'm not.


Everything surrounding the Vhong-Deniece case is a crying shame. I don't like it, I don't like that it dominates so much of the news, but if there's one thing important that came up because of it, it would clearly be the ridiculous double standards we seem to have for men and women. 

Let's face it: take away the rape accusation and the beatdown, and what you have here is a man who cheated on his girlfriend to have some sexy times with another woman. Yet when the battle lines are drawn, who gets called out for being promiscuous? Not Vhong Navarro, nuh-uh: it's Deniece who gets the brunt of all that. And let's say we put back in the whole beatdown into the picture, what do we see? Deniece gets all the gendered sexual slurs, but Cedric Lee gets next to none. Surely I'm not the only one noticing a pattern here, and it's alarming, to say the least.

Not to say that this is a double standard that is unique to the Philippines, but given the state of affairs in this country, you can be sure that people simply don't pay nearly as much attention to the issue because for the most part, Filipinos have yet to outgrow the notion that feminists are bra-burning closet lesbian man-haters. Our only exposure to feminists in mass media have been demonstrations by Gabriela, bereft of helpful context, as well as a bunch of straw feminists portrayed for laughs.

                                                          by Hark! A Vagrant!
Feminism does not work that way.


Sometimes, I really wonder why I bother going through comments sections of articles when I know the comments will just give me a headache. People don't understand what the problem is. They don't see what the problem is. They think that it should be a standard course of action to applaud a man with many conquests and to castigate a woman who does the same. Do one, or do the other: don't switch the standards around when the genders do.

It's hard to explain, really: what else should we be looking out for to fix in equality other than the obvious economic gap? Why is the RH Law issue a clear sign that gender equality is nowhere near as good as we assume it to be in this country? Well, these are questions few people will ever ask in their lives, much less when they have more pressing concerns.

The arguments against feminism have been so predictable and so rote that you can practically make a bingo card out of them already.

That wasn't even a joke.


Perhaps it's a case of obliviousness on the part of people in general, but it's tiresome. As we are inundated nonstop by the media firestorm surrounding the Vhong-Deniece issue, misogyny keeps on rearing its ugly head as we hear from people who clearly don't understand the point and think that feminists are complaining that a female is being castigated. Oh, if only that were the case. The thing is, the female is being castigated because she's a female. Furthermore, because she's female, we see it fit to sexualize our disdain for her.

Think back to all the hated female figures in Philippine society in recent times: we've poked fun at GMA for having breast implants. We've made sure to remind people that we think Nancy Binay is pretty much the epitome of unf*ckable, because she's ridiculously black. Kris Aquino is a slut.

Now, let's think back to the hated male figures in Philippine society in recent times: we poked fun at Erap for being an idiot. We've determined that Jejomar Binay is pretty much the epitome of "epal," not to mention ridiculously black. Noynoy Aquino is retarded.

Obviously, making fun of someone's complexion or apparent mental capabilities is pretty low as is, but Nancy Binay and Miriam get those, too, anyways. With that in mind, is it just me, or is there an alarming disparity here?

Am I glad I'm still too young to know how to read.


Everything boils down to this, really: nobody's saying women are untouchable. Nobody's saying we have no right to criticize women. Yet why does it seem like we always need to throw in a sexual barb somewhere to really "hit hard" when we wouldn't even consider doing the same thing to a man? 

Obviously, I'm not trying to say that we should throw even more sexual slurs all around, but isn't it a bit strange that most, if not all the sexual slurs we utilize are aimed specifically at women? Does this pattern not seem very alarming, at the very least? Again, Deniece and Cedrid are currently being flogged by the opinionated public. Yet why do we hear the sexual slurs only for Deniece, but not Cedric, or even Vhong, who was the other participant in the sex acts involving Deniece, to begin with?

Duct taaaaaaaape!


Could it be that this is all because people simply misunderstand what it is feminism is trying to do? That perhaps, people think that feminism is some kind of agenda meant to turn the patriarchy on its head and make a matriarchy out of it? But that's ludicrous. The whole aim of feminism is to fight for equality: to destroy oppressive systemic impositions that harm not just women, but men as well. Of course, that's how it goes if you go with what is mainstream and not the ridiculous extreme, but detractors of feminism seem to only care about the batsh!t insane types - all the while proving that by their sheer numbers, the batsh!t insane anti-feminists are the norm.

Think about that guy who bashed feminism and said he didn't hate women, contrary to what feminists were claiming. How long did it take before he started calling them "feminazis?" Oh, right. It didn't take very long, of course. That's really par for the course, apparently.

There's also this unironic use of a functional oxymoron, by the by.


There really isn't anything else I want to say about the Vhong-Deniece issue. And while I honestly couldn't care less if nobody ever talked about it again, I really feel that it is high time to at least float the idea of feminism in Philippine society not just from the great women who have become the voice for that movement all these years, but from those who profess to be allies as well. We can't all be allies just sitting around passively and hoping that people would get a clue. We can't all hope that these people wake up to the irony of fighting for "freedom of speech" to be as offensively misogynistic as they want, and then silencing people who don't like what they have to say in the same breath.

I don't need a cookie. I don't need praise, or even a pat in the back. All I need is to stand up and be counted. I am Kel Fabie, and I am a Filipino feminist.