Tuesday, May 23, 2006


One of the things I really appreciated this year was the reemergence of the local rock scene.

For the past five years, there seemed to be little to match the half-decade brilliance of groups like The Eraserheads, Color it Red, Tropical Depression, The Youth, and Hungry Young Poets (HYP). Less-renowned groups such as Pu3ska, Fatal Posporos, and Tungaw were simply less known, but no less lovely to listen to.

At the start of the millennium, truly impressive and original acts were few or far from the limelight. Other than the now ubiquitous Parokya ni Edgar, only the HYP’s Barbie Almalbis, Sandwhich, and Radioactive Sago Project come to my mind.

The ascendance of acoustic solo artists such as Paolo Santos and Jimmy Bondoc was a bit of a low point for me. While I can appreciate the hard work they put into their craft, dead-on covers of John Meyer and Daniel Beddingfield just don’t do it for me. I can’t see how covers could match such works as This Guy’s In Love With You Pare or Gusto Ko Ng Baboy.

Then, starting a couple of years ago, things started to swing back. M.Y.M.P.’s acoustic Bob Marley cover also came with a slick and catchy Torpe. Kitchie Nadal, whatever one may think of her currently astronomical popularity, only got there because she dazzled viewers on stage and listeners on air with her raw and evocative music.

Right now, the airplay of local rock music getting right up there. Getting home tired from work is well complemented by the Itchyworms’ plaintive “Gusto ko magpakalasing…”. Getting up the next day is made easier by Up Dharma Down’s non-committal “Sige na lang kaya…”. And there are others.

I certainly hope this continues. Our music is as good as any, and it deserves our support as much as we deserve its beauty and spirit.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


When I went back home last December, my dad told me of a fire that gutted some squatter shanties under the highway bridge on the way to my home. The blaze was intense enough that there was a possibility that the damaged section might have to be torn down and replaced. Signs were put up prohibiting trucks with over four wheels to cross, to minimize the load on the damaged structure.

The ideas of that bridge being unavailable to the thousands of vehicles that cross it everyday and my having to pass through alternative routes simply staggered me. I remember what my life was like without that bridge, over 12 years ago. A temporary future of having to live without it and with half to a full hour of travel time added to my day was not something I relished. I certainly had no appreciation of the squatters, whose homes were the source of the damage to the bridge.

Over the next few months, I settled into a weekly routine of gassing up my car at a Shell station on my way home, a few minutes before getting to the bridge. Aside from gas, every now and then I buy a couple of sampaguita wreaths from a fellow who hawks them there at the station.

Now it’s May, and I noticed that the sign disallowing heavy vehicles from crossing the bridge has been removed. I took it to mean that the repair work had been done and, thankfully, the bridge didn’t need to be closed.

Once again, I dropped by the Shell station to fill up prior to going home. As I got another pair of sampaguita wreaths, the guy thanked me and told me that whenever he gets to sell all his wreaths, he gets to buy stuff. I replied that that was great. He went on to say that last Sunday, he managed to get a blanket. He added that he used to live under the bridge and implied that he lost everything in the fire. He smiled once more in thanks as he walked off.