Wednesday, November 26, 2014

America: The Philippine Love-Hate Affair

Fil-Am Friendship Park

The Philippines has always had an ambiguous relationship with the United States of America. While officially, the Philippine government is mostly friendly with the USA, there are notable times (such as the removal of US bases, requested in 1991) that the relationship has been less than cordial. The situation becomes more complicated when you check on the normal person on the street, where the reaction to Americans vary from neutral, to welcoming, to utter rejection of their presence in the country, even as tourists.

So why is it that Pinoys have a love-hate affair with the United State of America?

Read more at the Philippine Online Chronicles

Photo: “Fil-Am Friendship Park” by Roberto Verzo, c/o

Monday, November 24, 2014

When to give a child cell phone and social media rights

Instagram and Other Social Media Apps

When the youngest in our family was growing up, the Internet had just started up here in the country. I do remember having to listen to the whistling handshake of older modems as connection was established. However, what did that mean to our youngest sister? Surprisingly, when she was around twelve, we let her have access to the Internet, and I am glad to say that she is more or less well-adjusted, if not savvy about online concerns.

However, it’s important to note that before she went online, she was immersed in a family that encouraged reading (she still has her library, as do I), and that we were also very much involved in making sure that if she did watch movies, we would be there with her (for the most part). Thus, she has developed a healthy appetite for good movies… and outstandingly whacky B-movies as well.

The key, in retrospect, with how my sister was prepared for the Internet was that we had already been preparing her somehow through the way we introduced literature to her, and that also, thanks to how history turned out… there was no chance for her to be exposed to the Internet at a younger age.

Read more at the Philippine Online Chronicles

Photo: “Instagram and Other Social Media Apps” by Jason Howie, c/o

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Jason Moss: Business is business, you fat ugly b*tches (Probably NSFW)

I checked out my friend Jason Moss's exhibit, "Business is business, you fat ugly b*tches," (censorship mine) over at Secret Fresh (Ronac Center). Here are some of his works. Due to their blunt nature, do be aware that the article/photo gallery contains NSFW imagery not suitable for certain workplaces. Do be aware of this when clicking through.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The changing importance of being a virgin

The changing importance of being a virgin

Died a Virgin As a mental exercise, I tried to imagine when I first heard the term “virgin” when used to describe a person’s state of non-experience with in terms of sexual relations. To be honest, I realized that I first heard it among friends, when talking about girls they liked – in the sense that “do you think so-and-so is still a virgin? That would be so hot! I hope I’ll be the first to get her!”

At the time, it didn’t matter to our teenage minds just how wrong all of that sounded (I’ll expound more on that later). All that mattered was that we were thinking of how great it would be if the girl were a virgin.

Of course, as we grew older, the value that was given to a person being a virgin changed. Here are some interesting observations about how the “virgin value” changes, depending on who it is, and what generation you’re talking about.

Read more at the Philippine Online Chronicles

Photo: “Died a Virgin,” by Quinn Dombrowski, c/o

The Future of Music: On Albini's speech, and a few new thoughts about where music will go.

I recently read what appears to be the text of Steve Albini's keynote address in Melbourne's Face the Music conference, and here are some of my thoughts:

On the face of it, I can see where this rather lengthy piece comes from: it's about how to use the hardworking punk ethic for independent distribution within the structure of the Internet. However, what I do not see here is an actual understanding from the point of view of the small, upstart band. He may understand the Internet, but his concept of where a new band is in terms of the Internet isn't really there.

Perhaps, given his punk ethic, he is espousing a survivalist system, where the best band wins. It's not a bad idea, but in the scale of the Internet, that's practically suicidal for any starting band, unless they have the perfect combination of capital, marketing/merchandising knowledge, connections, and online savvy - aside from, of course, musical talent/determination and a damn good live performance presence. The struggle to simply get to the point where you can break even for your band's costs will probably be epic.

That's not to say that I don't believe in what he says - I really do think that most of what he said is probably where everything should go.

However, the dark side of his address is that you shouldn't quit your day job, have a second job, and then think about your music. There's no more room for just jumping into it full time without a worked-to-the-gills plan, with the money to match the planning. And even then, you won't be assured of success at all.

The hidden takeaway I can see in the article is that the Internet has created a "new source" for music: the part-time musician. These are the people who make music without thinking about making money from them. These are the people who, if they become famous or rich, will be so because they garnered a following from making home recordings of their excellent music from their bedrooms.

In fact, there is already a practical division happening in music, where there are those who garner a following from creating wonderful music from their bedroom, but do not have the experience, need or want to tour and perform live, and those who are primarily live acts who use the Internet as just another venue for people to hear their music.

If anything, the new paradigm of the music industry may force people who want to go into it to really think about how much they are willing to sacrifice for it, even if they do have a plan. That's because while the Internet allows for information to spread easily, it also means that any new music, band, or musician will have to fight against a very difficult signal-to-noise ratio, as it were.

And the world keeps on turning.

P.S. And we haven't even gotten to the prickly issue of copyright!

Article sources:
The Guardian (main source, transcript)
Billboard article (though it cites the Guardian as well)
Youtube video of the speech

Photo by Cássio Abreu (

Monday, November 17, 2014

Lest We Forget: The Philippine Goldfish Memory Extravaganza

When Yolanda hit Tacloban in November last year, some of my friends and I could not help but be somewhat skeptical in the aftermath. Yes, there were many projects and organizations that came forward to help in the rehabilitation, but one thing that stood out, for me, was the fact that many of them had big issues with actually getting help to Tacloban.

And, of course, the culprit is the government.

Or so we think.

Now, the big thing here is that rehabilitating a whole region of the country will take years – decades, in fact. All you have to do is search for how rehab projects for Hurricane Katrina are ongoing, to see the extent of reconstruction that needs to be done (taking budget, area, and damage factors into account).

To be fair, quite a few organizations and individuals are making it their life’s work for the next few years to help Tacloban and other affected areas get up on their feet again. But what is more obvious here is that a year after everything happened… everything has become so distant.

It’s the whole thing of how many Pinoys react to what is happening, and then promptly lose interest in it once the next big thing comes about. Yes, we can also blame the government for the endemic corruption, red tape, and partisan politics (ahem, the rumoured P-noy and Romualdez issues) that have marred the distribution of relief goods and the proper routing of funds.

In the end, however, it’s also about the attitude of people. Situations like this require a certain amount of commitment, and it can be even more of an insult to people if you end up leaving them in the lurch while going for the next disaster to contribute to.

Choose the battles you go into, particularly those which you know will need much more than a sudden donation. Also, it's probably a good idea to simply donate or lend a helping hand without much fanfare.

Photo: "SK-Tacloban-13" by Skott Khuu

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Run and Gun: In and out of Komikon.

I've just come back from the Komikon, and aside from my agoraphobia acting up, it was actually a pleasant experience to see old friends sitting on the other side of the table, now being the comic book creators. It has all the more sold me on the idea that it's time for me to get back to doing this.

So, aside from saying the hi's and hello's, I also bought some stuff - which I think that other people should check out, too:

1) Rick Olivares's Ang Ilog and Dante - I've known Rick for a long time, and these two works showcase different sides of Rick's (Ricky's!) writing. Ang Ilog is a fantasy set in the past, based on local mythology and folklore. The artwork is lush and very much a reminder of the old Liwayway and Atlas comic books, and, I suspect, the old DC horror titles of the 70's (no surprise, that era had a lot of Filipino artists working in DC). Dante, on the other hand, is lighter fair, though with a Vertigo-like spin. Heartily recommend that if you will buy Ang Ilog, that you buy the oversize copies, if only to enjoy the art more. Also, the comic book comes in Filipino or English.

2) Arnold Arre's Trip to Tagaytay - This is, I think, one of the most influential local single-issue comic book stories of my generation. It's a testament to the most important point of science fiction and science fantasy: that in the very center of it, there must be a story about humanity. I had to buy a new copy, since my old one got lost when I was moving from place to place.

3) Carlo Vergara's Zsazsa Zaturnnah sa Kalakhang Maynila and Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady - If you don't know ZsaZsa Zaturnnah, then you should get the original comic book mini-series/TPB, and watch the movie (sadly, I was not able to watch the musicale!). Zsazsa, for me, is the touchstone for local gay people who love comic books (this, and Carlo's other work, One Night in Purgatory). Even more important, I think that Zsazsa has become a pop icon that transcends the LGBT spectrum. As for Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady, I heartily look forward to reading it over this weekend - I trust Carlo's work.

As I wrap up this entry, what I would like to say is: If you find your tastes are different from what I've written about, find other local comic books to get into! If I had about ten thousand pesos with me, I would have gladly scooped up most of what I saw in the Komikon. Explore and find what catches your fancy (for example, I wish I had enough money left to buy a copy of Mythspace, Vol.1!).

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Waiter Rule: How we act when we don’t have to be nice

Day 331
It’s a common saying these days, with many variations on what is said, and the basic thing is: How you act towards people who you have no attachment to, or need to be nice to (like waiters), will show your real personality. While this saying immediately sounds true and good, the fact is, it has many layers to whether or not it is true.

Read more at the Philippine Online Chronicles

Photo: “Day 331” by Pascal, c/o