The Return of eLf ideas

ideas of an eLven being in Canada

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Latest Additions to My Book Collection

...1. The Great Indie Discography by M.C. Strong (Canongate Books, 2003) – I bought this "bible" last year, for C$47.95; a bit expensive but it's worth my money. This book provides the histories and discographies of many artists and bands classified under Alternative Rock / Indie Rock—from The Stooges, Captain Beefheart, and Velvet Underground to The Cure, Depeche Mode, Echo & the Bunnymen, to The Lemonheads, Ned's Atomic Dustbin, and Blur. Also, this book continues to be a big help in downloading essential MP3s.

2. The Great Rock Discography by M.C. Strong (North Atlantic Books, 2002) – Originally priced at C$44.95 but which I got for only C$9.99! Great deal, wasn't it? This discography book covers a far wider range of Rock artists, and it's a great companion to the one above.

3. Pocket Kama Sutra by Anna Hooper (Dorling Kindersley, 2004) – a new guide to the ancient arts of lovemaking

"The warm glow that follows lovemaking is all too easily dissipated if you simply go to sleep, or do anything that is either physically or intellectually demanding. Most lovers want to sustain the feeling of harmony; some like simply to lie quietly in each other's arms."

4. 4 000 Things You Should Know by John Farndon (Miles Kelly Publishing, 2003) – I've always been a big enthusiast of trivia and general knowledge

' still remember the names of the three ossicle bones of the ear? What about the two moons of Mars? Who was the second man to set shoes on Earth's moon?

"The world's biggest fish is the whale shark, which can grow to well over a length of 12 meters. Unlike most sharks, it feeds mainly on plankton and is completely harmless."

5. The Portable Jung, edited by Joseph Campbell (Penguin USA, 1976) – Fresh from reading Jung by Anthony Storr and Freud and Jung: Years of Friendship, Years of Loss by Linda L. Donn, I decided finally to buy this definitive book, which contains Carl Gustav Jung's biography and a lavish introduction to his key writings on analytical psychology and the adaptation and interpretation of mythology and anthropology.

6. 1 000 Poems from the Manyōshū (The Complete Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkokai Translation) (Dover Publications, 2005) – the best companion to my Poems of the Masters: China's Classic Anthology of T'ang and Sung Dynasty Verse

Manyōshū is the oldest existing, and most highly revered, collection of Japanese poetry, compiled sometime in the Nara period, which covered the years from about AD 710 to 794.

"Slight not these flowers!
Each single petal contains
A hundred words of mine."

So, that means I need to allot more time on my readings, lest I'd soon be buried under my growing book collection, many of which I am yet to read.

At the moment, I am reading simultaneously the following books:

1. Self-Reliance and Other Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson (Dover Publications, 1993) – I'm nearly finished with this one.

2. Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer by Ann Rule (Free Press, 2004) – ' finally reached the half part.

3. A History of Language by Steven Roger Fischer (Reaktion Books, Ltd., 2003) – I'm reading this one slowly, taking down notes.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Vol. 1: Raise Your Glass and Cry until You're Done

Feeling creative yet again, I made a compilation of my favorite songs for my personal listening pleasure, entitled a dozen & a haLf favorites. Each volume in this series contains 18 tracks.

The bands comprising Volume 1 were some of the artists into whose "New Wave–sounding" music I immersed myself in the '90s, the era dominated by the Grunge of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Stone Temple Pilots among many others.

Volume 1: Raise Your Glass and Cry until You're Done

Blake Babies - "Disappear"
Blake Babies - "Until I Almost Died"
Buffalo Tom - "Dry Land"
Buffalo Tom - "Torch Singer"
Dillon Fence - "Daylight"
Dillon Fence - "Hey, Mockingbird"
Dinosaur Jr. - "I Don't Think So"
Dinosaur Jr. - "Yeah Right"
Kitchens of Distinction - "Drive That Fast"
Kitchens of Distinction - "Smiling"
Lemonheads, the - "Allison's Starting to Happen"
Lemonheads, the - "Confetti"
Posies, the - "Flavor of the Month"
Posies, the - "Solar Sister"
Rentals, the - "Friends of P"
Rentals, the - "The Love I'm Searching For"
Sloan - "500 Up"
Sloan - "I Am the Cancer"


You may download the compilation (MP3s packed in a RAR file) here.


Disclaimer: My intention is to give you a taste test of some of my favorite bands. If you happened to like their music, support them by purchasing original copies of their albums.
Support Wikipedia—one of, if not the most reliable reference on the Internet today.

Kamusta ka na r'yan?

...Photo taken in 2003, I with my nephew Alfonso Louis Gerard "Algae" (my sister Karen's son)

Karen and Algae, with Arianne Kyle (my sister Kim's daughter), 2004

aLfie: "O, kamusta na'ng mga bata?"
Karen: "Mabuti naman. Makukulit pa rin."
Algae: "Mima, pakausap kay Tito aLfie."
Karen: "O, kausapin ka raw ni Algae."
Algae: "Kamusta ka na r'yan sa Canada, Tito aLfie?"
aLfie: "Okey naman ako rito, pero palagi ko kayong hanap-hanap."
Algae: "Hamo, Tito aLfie, malapit ka na namang umuwi e."


Kamusta is a Filipino greeting which, in English, translates to "How are you?" It is a corruption of the Spanish "Como esta?," which has the same meaning.

Naku! Lagot ka

Photo taken in 2003, I with my best friend Ramil and my nephew Aki (Ramil's eldest)
My sister Lovelle and her husband, Ramil, with their children, my nephews Anwell Joaquin "Aki" and Kali Lorenzo (2004)
Aki and Kali, 2005

Aki: "Naku, Kali, lagot ka kay Mommy. Pinunit mo 'yang litrato."
Kali: "Di ko naman sinasadya e."

Lovelle: "Okey lang 'yan, Aki. Hindi naman sinasadya ng kapatid mo e."


The Filipino interjection naku is a contraction of the phrase "ina ko" [my mother]. It is often used to express surprise, delight, or worry. In English, its nearest counterpart would be "oh my!"

Hanyo, magkikita-kita rin tayong muli

Photo taken in August 2003, I with my nephews Anthony Kevin and Aki and niece, Arianne Kyle
My third sister, Kim, and Kevin, her son (2004)
.Arianne, Kim's eldest (2004)

Kevin: "Mommy, gusto ko ng bagong laruan." [Mom, I want a new toy.]
Kim: "Hamo, bibili tayo sa s'weldo ko." [Don't worry, we'll buy one on my payday.]


Arianne with little brother, Kevin: "Mommy, antagal na nating hindi nanonood ng sine, ah." [Mom, it's been a while since we watched a movie.]
Kim, addressing Arianne and Kevin: "Hanyo, sa Sabado manonood tayo ng sine sa Glorietta." [Don't worry, on Saturday we'll watch a movie at Glorietta.]


Hamo is a contraction of the phrase "hayaan mo"; while hanyo, of "hayaan n'yo." Hamo and hanyo have long become legitimate Filipino imperative verbs used to express assurance. In English, both contractions may translate to "Don't worry" or "Don't mind."


Mga mahal kong pamangkin,

Kamusta na kayong lahat d'yan sa Pilipinas? Palagi ko kayong hinahanap-hanap. Sana'y hanap-hanap n'yo rin ako. Hanyo, sandali na lang; isang taon at kalahati na lang at muli na tayong magkikita-kita. Naku, siguradong babaha ng luha sa Ninoy Aquino International Airport—luha ng kagalakan, luha ng pasasalamat.


Tito aLfie

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

"Sensation is the function by which a person realizes that a thing exists

Sensation tells the person that something is: It does not tell her what it is and it does not tell her other things about that something; it only tells her that something is."

I woke up this morning, again remembering vividly a portion of the dream I had.

I seldom have a "dreamless" sleep or nap (I wrote "dreamless" because I surmise that a person automatically dreams as soon as her consciousness deactivates. To have a dreamless sleep, I think, does not mean that the person did not have any dream, but it only meant either that her conscious "forgot" or failed to copy what her unconscious dreamed about or that the dream was too usual or contained symbols that are too insignificant for her to remember).

Perhaps the reason I seldom forget my dreams is because I developed the habit of trying to decrypt even the most trivial and insignificant of symbols that I observe and gather not only from my dreams but also from reality itself.

This morning I woke up with a portion of the dream I had, again, still vivid in my mind:

I suddenly found myself atop a gigantic tree—a tree so enormous that I couldn't see the ground below. I was wandering alone on its enormous branches that were as broad as roads. Despite my solitariness and the darkness that soon began to engulf my surroundings, I did not feel any pang of fear or of hesitance to find my way off that tree. In fact, the rustling of the proportionately large leafs somehow soothed my being.

I went on walking for what seemed hours, until I saw a gape on a particularly larger branch of the tree. I did not hesitate to enter it, curious of whatever I might find there. I slowly realized that the path I was trekking was downwards the trunk of the tree. The parts on which I was walking had also started to get narrower and narrower. Darkness, too, became blacker and blacker. I was in that moment when fear began to seep into my senses. No matter how hard I tried, I could not suppress the fear that was permeating my mind.

Then, right before the darkness turned into blackness, I saw a pinpoint of light at the farthest end of where I was. (I am amazed until now to realize how, even in dreams, a flicker no matter how obscure or unknown could banish an overpowering fear in the heart.)

However, exhaustion had finally gripped my entire body. I suddenly coudn't move my limbs. I knew I was already a few hours away from that flicker when I heard strange noises. Becoming louder and louder and sounding nearer and nearer, the noise, I finally found out, was actually a great number of vicious-looking cats.

I could no longer remember what I was thinking during that particular scene—if I thought of running back out of the gape where I came from or if I contemplated on facing that band of horrifying felines—because even before the cats had begun to attack me, I was awakened by the ringing of the telephone.

The time was 10:30 a.m.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

"Intuition is concerned with time

The intuitive person is able to 'see round corners,' to have hunches about things, and is more interested in the possibilities of things than in their present existence."

Expressing my sentiment with regard to my blog-writing style (or even writing e-mail or text messages, for that matter):

Perhaps most people who knew me or, at least, think they know me through my writings could sense how obsessive-compulsive I am, in the sense that I attack every topic or situation—be this trivial or controversial or scholastic—with mighty conviction. Thank you. Yes, I am. And, yes, I do.

Even back when I was still in the Philippines, I never succumbed to the so-called cellphone text language. How I abhorred "telegraphic" messages. For instance, TNX. C U L8R, K? DNT 4GET 2 BRNG D BUK. No matter how limited the cellphone's LCD space and urgent the need for the reply, I still persisted in observing spelling and grammar, for through this I believed I was expressing literary courtesy—courtesy to the language, that is.

Did you ever wonder what enabled Shakespeare to write his chefs-d'oeuvre with seemingly flawless beauty and elegance? More than his talent and skills, his passion for writing and respect for the language, I believe, were the chief enzymes of his prolificacy.

I am known to write lengthy letters and send or reply with "kilometric" e-mails. This is not because I try to flaunt and impress but because I want to preserve and express the beauty and sacredness that I discovered in language. So many languages had long become extinct. So many others are nearing extinction. Do you like this to happen to your parent tongue, or to English or any other widely used language for that matter? Would you let yourself become a maggot of its decay?

I always observe at least simple grammar in all areas possible, because I don't want the regressive evolution of language to corrupt my literary soul.

Strong, the dark side of language neglect is; but the Yoda in me, I believe, is formidable as ever.

I don't want to be declared someday as a cheap catalyst to a language's deterioration and eventual decomposition.

I have my flaws. That's inevitable. And who does not have? But in the same intense sentiment that I continue to uphold literary beauty and elegance; and there is no other best way to achieve this but to write and to write and to write with unfaltering passion and literary conviction.

Monday, October 24, 2005

"Thinking is the function by which one tells what a thing is

It gives a name to the thing. It adds a concept, because thinking is perception and judgment."

Chancing upon a blog entry by Ian Rosales Casocot criticizing Imelda Marcos's implying that she has been instrumental in the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, prompted me to write my own short critique.

Here's an excerpt from Casocot's satirical blog entry entitled "St. Imelda of Cold War":

"This is classic Jessica Zafra humor," writes Casocot; "this time, on the beautiful delusions of our Imelda Marcos:

"'All this talk of the Imelda reminded me that I still have my friend's copy of the Imelda's latest literary opus, a metaphysical discourse called "Circles of Life." While leafing through this handsome volume—the pages are guilt, I mean gilt-edged—I came upon a revelation most wondrous. Here it is, in the Imelda's own words:

"'But the most significant and most exacting for me was the honor of having brought the image of Our Lady of Fatima to be consecrated with the Liturgical Service in Moscow at the height of the Cold War. That was 1985, October, the month of the Holy Rosary, and as I left the Church together with a large retinue of Catholic bishops from the Philippines, a spray of snowfall descended on our (delegation), when (an) old woman sidled close and whispered: 'Madam, for the blessings you have brought to Russia by opening our church to honor the Virgin Mother, much will be exacted from your life!'

"Those anonymous words were prophetic. In a few months, we were forced into exile, and shortly thereafter, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics began to dissolve and the freedom of religion was restored along with other fundamental liberties... It symbolized the sacrifices expected of my own life, the life of my husband, the lives of my children, my country and my people.'" (p. 91)

Imelda, in the above, reminds me of a particular passage from the book Jung, which I finished reading a few days ago...

on p. 32 of Jung, the author, Anthony Storr, wrote:
"Just as schizophrenics are attempting to create a world system which enable them 'to assimilate unknown psychic phenomena and so adapt themselves to their own world' so the myths of primitive people were devices enabling them better to adapt themselves to their world.

"As an example of what Jung meant, one might quote from his visit to the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico. These people believe (or, as Jung might have put it 'live by myth' that) the sun is their father. Moreover, they also affirm that, by practicing the rites of their religion, they assist the sun to perform his daily journey across the sky. By punctiliously performing these rites, they are thus benefiting the whole world.

"If a myth can give life dignity, meaning, and purpose, it is serving an important positive function, even if it is not objectively true.

"However, unlike the myths of such 'primitive' people that work for them positively by enabling them better to adapt to the world, the delusions of the schizophrenics are myths as well but of a kind which does not work."

NOW, I wonder what personality type Imelda Marcos was projecting: a primitive person living by her own myth to enable herself better to adapt to the real world or a schizophrenic forever stuck on her delusions of grandeur and martyrdom?

Friday, October 21, 2005

"Feeling is concerned with questions of value

Feeling tells one, for instance, whether a thing is acceptable or agreeable or not. It tells one what a thing is worth to her."

"It is only much later when we realize what we had then, how we were then, what mattered to us then, who we were, what we lost, what we hoped for, what we gave up. When we look back, we do so through the lens of selected memories; and when we do, we trigger a flood of nostalgia—associations leading to other associations: images into words, words into songs, songs into the trembling memory of a touch, that kiss, that promise, that time."—Dean Francis Alfar

What about you? Whenever you look back, what do you remember?

Here's an excerpt of an e-mail I received a few days ago:

Friday, October 21, 2005

Hi Guys:
Warm Bodies 3: Nostalgia Galore is now out!
Thank you very much for a memorable (and should I say, star-studded) Warm Bodies 3. See you all in WB4!

Oscar, on behalf of Jonathan and Noreen

Warm Bodies is a series of essays collected from everywhere in the growing Filipino blogging community, selected and then compiled to represent a particular theme. Already the third in the series, Nostalgia Galore tackles mostly the '80s—a decade fraught with personal meaning to people like me who, in that era, were either little tots only starting to explore their neighborhood or pubescent rascals or rebels overwhelmed to realize that the same neighborhood was, after all, just a small box inside a much, much bigger world.

I am one of the lucky 15 bloggers whose submitted entries comprise the current volume of Warm Bodies.

art by Oliver Pulumbarit, 2005

I am posting below my contribution to the Nostalgia Galore as well as excerpts from the other essays. My gratitude goes especially to Oscar Alvarez Jr., Noreen Capili, and Jonathan Catalla—the triumvirate of editors behind this bold and brilliant undertaking. Thank you also to Oliver Pulumbarit for choosing my music icon Robert Smith to represent me and my article on the cover of the anthology. But most of all, I thank Charlotte Belialba for believing in me--lest she didn't forward to me the e-mail invitation to join Warm Bodies, I wouldn't have had the chance to submit an entry in the first place.

My life has always been musical
by aLfie vera mella

My whole life I consider not only a fantasy-fiction novel—which has its own maps, worlds, characters and creatures, history, languages and cultures—but more so an epic movie—which runs on a backdrop of diverse landscapes and has a soundtrack of its own.

Since childhood, my life has already been musical; I can still remember sonically the artists that constantly played on the phonograph in my family's first home (The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Carpenters, The Cascades, The Hollies, The Monkees, The Zombies, Johnny Mathis, and Matt Monro to name a few)—I still listen to them to this day, with fondness and with yearning to return to the particular moment each song automatically conjures. Sometimes all I need to do is close my eyes and take a deep breath, and the melody begins to play in my mind, recollecting bittersweet memories that keep the child in me alive and forever curious about the world.

For me, listening to music is plucking golden leafs from the lush tree of my childhood, picking fruits that have long been ripe.

In the '70s through the '80s, we owned a restaurant, Atin-Atin on F.B. Harrison Street in Pasay City, at which we had a jukebox—that wonderful sound machine that transformed many a tot's night into magical moments. I remember the days when I would insert one coin after another into the machine, press the combination of letters and numbers, and listen in bliss as the songs played one by one ("Honesty" by Billy Joel and "Knife" by Rockwell were the most unforgettable).

These were perhaps the main reason music has always been a part of me. My life has always been musical—from my childhood through my youth to where I am now and who I have become.

Songs will always remind me of various emotions and memories—the sadness and solitariness on many days, my lullabies on many sleepless nights; the joy and innocence of childhood and youth, a source of inspiration; the fears and uncertainties amidst high hopes and expectations.

However, New Wave is the genre of music I love the most—which I discovered during my pubescent years in the early '80s. I will be grateful forever for The Cure, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, The Lotus Eaters, New Order, Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Smiths, Spandau Ballet, Tears for Fears, The Wild Swans, and the endless roster of New Wave artists whose songs have made and continue to make my life melodically documentable. They comprise the soundtrack of my life. Their songs shall grace my wedding day. They will be the music that shalt one day be played on my wake and funeral march.

And, in case I haven't told you this yet: My father said he got my name from a song; yes, from that Burt Bacharach song—the song which, I believe, perfectly describes the path I've long chosen to take; a song I would like to believe had been composed just for me.

When you walk let your heart lead the way
And you'll find love any day, Alfie


Here are excerpts from the other essays.

from "Old Makati" by Chrissy Icamina:
"I once threw a fit when I was dragged to Kimpura on my birthday, which was then at the current location of Essenses. Why did small ol' me hit the roof? Well, I daresay that anyone below ten years old would rather celebrate his or her birthday at a McDonald's or Jollibee instead of at some spruce Japanese resto——"

from "My (Inner) Sharonian" by Clarissa Estuar:
"Marriage does something to men. It changes them. Those who remain constant only do so in the areas that are regrettable, like a guy who's married to one of my friends who despairs because he doesn't know how to replace 'that rubber thingie [the filler float] that stops the water inside the toilet's water closet——'"

from "Signs of Dread after a Certain Age" by Ian Rosales Casocot:
"I think the fear of becoming old basically springs from the fear of not having accomplished anything by a certain age. We want to die remembered, immortalized. We want to die having done something worthwhile for the world. Each passing year of not realizing the most basic of our dreams adds to that apprehension——"

from "Dragonfly Days" by Janella Cacdac:
"In those summer days, there were plenty of dragonfiles. In blue, green, red, brown, gold, they glittered in the sun. Armed with makeshift nets of plastic bags attached to barbecue sticks, we would catch them as they whizzed past us. Then we'd happily watch them buzz furiously inside the plastic bags until the sport tired us and we decided to let them free——"

from "Hindi Na 'ko Iiyak" by Joan Pauline Talubo:
"Naaalala ko pa ang eksena sa airport. Kumawala ka mula sa pagkakayakap ko, hinawakan mo ang mukha ko, pinahid ng panyo ang mga luha at tumingin ka sa aking mga mata.

"'Ipangako mo sa akin na ito na ang huling beses na iiyak ka dahil sa akin, ha?'"

from "Episode: Driving Me Daisy" by Joel Macaventa:
"I would only bow my head but, deep inside, I'd berate myself for failing to be a perfect son. I would always try not to cry in front of them——"

from "Shaider Champorado" by John Bert Rodriguez:
"The sight of evaporated milk on the surface of champorado excites me. It reminds me of the sky when Shaider enters time space warp and defeats the enemy——"

from "I keep rememberin' when..." by Maren:
"I knew that when we walked out my front door and I turned the key to lock it, Donnie would be the guy to grab my wrist and pull me to the side of our garden and just kiss me——"

from "The Memory of Trees" by Mavic Ricasata:
"When I was 10, I had a crush with a boy named Noel Ramos, and we rode the school bus together to go home. I remember flaming fire trees in Sangley Point and the bright yellow school bus, and "One Day in Your Life" was playing on the radio——"

from "Anamnesis" by Roni Baticulon:
"Kung nagkataong psychiatric patient ako, kawawa yung kukuha ng anamnesis sa akin. Andami-dami kong maikuk'wento; puro naman walang kwenta. Parang wala tuloy akong ginawa noong bata ako kundi magkulong sa bahay at manood ng telebisyon——"

from "Why Don't You Just Take My Wallet" by Ruby Grace de Vera:
"I was feeling nostalgic so I picked out the very first Nancy Drew I ever read, The Mysterious Mannequin. I was bowled over by that book (Remember, I was ten and CSI hasn't been invented yet). A carpet that has clues! Imagine that. And it was 20% off!"

from "Old Shoes Still Fit" by Ceola:
"Highschool wasn't a particularly enjoyable experience. The convent school I went to was one of the best in the country, but, to me, it was a toffee-nosed, antiquated, extremely despotic institution run by wimpled wardens——"

from "Fifteen" by Noreen Capili:
"Fifteen years after the night you offered your hanky and told me to wipe my tears, here I am... I lost count of how many times I cried for you. You saw me cry for the first time. What you didn't see were the buckets of tears I shed over you after that night. What you didn't know (and still don't know) was that, fifteen years after the incident, I am still thinking about you——"

from "What about the '90s?" by Sky:
"If the '70s was chrome, and the '80s was neon, black was appropriate for the '90s Philippines, when—with its long spells of blackouts—rechargeable lamps, generators, and hand fans sold like hotcakes——"

What about you, what do you remember?


Read here the entirety of Warm Bodies 3: Nostalgia Galore. Or, might as well, download it from there. It's an e-book, by the way; and it's for free.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

My Favorite "New Wave" Albums—Old and New

Since the past few days, my musical mood has returned home. I've been listening heavily again to my most favorite genre of music. More so, I listen to select bands on a per-album basis.

I attribute this return to my "default genre" to the recent upsurgence of some of my all-time favorite bands like Depeche Mode and Echo & the Bunnymen. Furthermore, I also noticed that influential Alternative-music magazines, like Uncut and NME, have been revisiting Britpop—the torchbearer of New Wave music in the '90s. Significantly also, contemporary bands which carry a "New Wave" sound are the current holders of the reins of Rock music—bands like Bloc Party, Death Cab for Cutie, Franz Ferdinand, Interpol, and The Killers.

Here are the albums to which I'm currently listening:

Care - Diamonds and Emeralds (1997)
1. Diamonds and Emeralds
2. Evening in the Ray
3. Chandeliers
4. Flaming Sword
5. Cymophane
6. Love Crowns and Crucifies
7. Temper Temper
8. White Cloud
9. Caretaking
10. My Boyish Days
11. Sad Day for England
12. Soldiers and Sailors
13. Whatever Possessed You
14. Such Is Life
15. What Kind of World
16. Nature Prayed Upon
17. Flaming Sword [12'' version]
18. Misericorde
19. Besides 1 and 2

The Wild Swans - Bringing Home the Ashes (1988)
1. Young Manhood
2. Bible Dreams
3. Bitterness
4. Archangels
5. Northern England
6. Whirlpool Heart
7. Bringing Home the Ashes
8. Mythical Beast
9. Now and Forever
10. Worst Year of My Life

The Wild Swans - Space Flower (1990)
1. Melting Blue Delicious
2. Butterfly Girl
3. Tangerine Temple
4. Immaculate
5. Space Flower
6. Chocolate Bubblegum
7. I'm a Lighthouse
8. Magic Hotel
9. Vanilla Melange
10. Sea of Tranquility

The Lotus Eaters - No Sense of Sin (1984)
1. German Girl
2. Love Still Flows
3. Can You Keep a Secret?
4. Out on Your Own
5. Put Your Touch on Love
6. Set Me Apart
7. You Fill Me with Need
8. The First Picture of You
9. Alone of All Her Sex
10. It Hurts
11. You Dont Need Someone New
12. Two Virgins Tender
13. My Happy Dream
14. The Evidence
15. Endless
16. Soul in Sparks
17. Church at Llanbadrig
18. The Lotus Eaters
19. Out On Your Own [12'' version]

The Lotus Eaters - silentspace (2001)
1. Bodywave
2. Feel It
3. Stay Free
4. Can Your Kisses Fly?
5. Lost in Flow
6. Sara
7. Face of the Century
8. Minimal Emotion
9. Stereovision
10. Come Together
11. State of Mind

a-ha - Hunting High and Low (1985)
1. Take on Me
2. Train of Thought
3. Hunting High and Low
4. The Blue Sky
5. Living a Boy's Adventure Tale
6. The Sun Always Shines on T.V.
7. And You Tell Me
8. Love Is Reason
9. I Dream Myself Alive
10. Here I Stand and Face the Rain

Ned's Atomic Dustbin - God Fodder (1991)
1. Kill Your Television
2. Less than Useful
3. Selfish
4. Grey Cell Green
5. Cut Up
6. Throwing Things
7. Capital Letters
8. Happy
9. Your Complex
10. Nothing Like
11. Until You Find Out
12. You
13. What Gives My Son?

Ned's Atomic Dustbin - Are You Normal? (1992)
1. Suave and Suffocated
2. Walking through Syrup
3. Legoland
4. Swallowing Air
5. Who Goes First?
6. Tantrum
7. Not Sleeping Around
8. You Don't Want to Do That
9. A Leg End in His Own Boots
10. Two and Two Made Five
11. Fracture
12. Spring
13. Intact

The Killers - Hot Fuss (2004)
1. Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
2. Mr. Brightside
3. Smile like You Mean It
4. Somebody Told Me
5. All These Things that I've Done
6. Andy, You're a Star
7. On Top
8. Change Your Mind
9. Believe Me, Natalie
10. Midnight Show
11. Everything Will Be Alright

Echo & the Bunnymen - Siberia (2005)
1. Stormy Weather
2. All Because of You Days
3. Parthenon Drive
4. In the Margins
5. Of a Life
6. Make Us Blind
7. Everything Kills You
8. Siberia
9. Sideways Eight
10. Scissors in the Sand
11. What If We Are?

The Tears - Here Come The Tears (2005)
1. Refugees
2. Autograph
3. Co-Star
4. Imperfection
5. Ghost of You
6. Two Creatures
7. Lovers
8. Fallen Idol
9. Brave New Century
10. Beautiful Pain
11. Asylum
12. Apollo 13
13. Love as Strong as Death

Depeche Mode - Playing with the Angels (2005)
1. A Pain that I’m Used To
2. John the Revelator
3. Suffer Well
4. The Sinner in Me
5. Precious
6. Macrovision
7. I Want It All
8. Nothing’s Impossible
9. Introspectre
10. Damaged People
11. Lilian
12. The Darkest Star

Nightmare of You - Nightmare of You (2005)
1. The Days Go By Oh So Slow
2. Dear Scene, I Wish I Were Deaf
3. Thumbelina
4. My Name Is Trouble
5. Why Am I Always Right?
6. I Want to Be Buried in Your Backyard
7. Ode to Serotonin
8. Marry Me
9. In the Bathroom Is Where I Want You
10. The Studded Cinctures
11. Heaven Runs on Oil

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Science + Music = Cool

October 16, 2005

After lunch, Tito Gerry and family dropped off Grandfather and me at Kildonan Place, a shopping mall far bigger and which has more stores than Garden City Shopping Centre. I was glad that there was a Coles bookstore. After walking Grandfather around—who bought an orange cap for himself—I had him wait for me on the bench at front of Coles while I checked out the books on sale.

Due to monetary constraint, I contented myself with A Brief History of Science by Thomas Crump (2001, Constable & Robinson Ltd.), which was originally priced at C$27 but which I got for only C$6. The book is an account of scientific breakthroughs which show how the curious nature of humankind has continually pushed forward the frontiers of science and, as a consequence, human civilization. It also puts into light the fact that many scientific discoveries were results not of calculated experiments but of serendipity.

Passing by the magazines section, I suddenly remembered a recent issue of Uncut music magazine which features Britpop music. Fortunately, a few copies were still available. While at it, I decided to buy also a copy of Under the Radar, which features the same topic, and a copy of the latest issue of NME, which has The Killers on its cover plus a free audio CD of songs by The Arcade Fire, The Editors, and Kaiser Chiefs among others.

Before dozing off at around 1 a.m., I was able to finish reading Under the Radar from cover to cover. Interestingly I stumbled upon something worth quoting, which I wasn't expecting to read in a music magazine and which made me nod and smile in consideration.

According to Alex Kapranos, lead vocalist and guitarist of Franz Ferdinand:
"People write diaries not because they want to keep secrets. They write diaries because they [either intentionally or subconsciously] want their diaries to be discovered. They want to be remembered."

'Jung' by Anthony Storr (Chapter One)


Photo taken on October 9, 2005, Sunday, at Sir William Stephenson Public Library on Keewatin Ave., Winnipeg, Manitoba

After three consecutive nights before sleeptime, I finished Jung by Anthony Storr (1973, Fontana), which, along with Freud and Jung: Years of Friendship, Years of Loss by Linda Donn (1988, Charles Scribner's Sons), I borrowed a week ago at Sir William Stephenson Public Library courtesy of Aunt Ethel, who has a borrower's card.

Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist, regarded as the founder of Analytical Psychology. The Austrian Sigmund Freud, on the other hand, was the founder of Psychoanalysis.

The book discusses the ideas of Jung in contrast with those of Freud. The two had collaborated and established a six-year friendship—an alliance which, unfortunately, ended up bitterly primarily because of the striking differences in their beliefs and principles on which the psychology of each was founded.

As always, I took down notes as if I was writing a book report. The excerpts below were the passages that etched a deep impression on my own psyche, either validating or re-analyzing my own psychological principles and philosophical beliefs.

Chapter One
The Personal Background

1. It is impossible to separate ideas from the personality of the person to whom they occurred.

2. Freudian psychology is a paternally-based psychology, with a good deal of emphasis upon conscience, duty, and fear of punishment. Jungian analytical psychology, on the other hand, is far more rooted in the maternal aspect of the psyche.

3. Religious problems—that is, doubts about faith—were the chief preoccupation of some of the most able minds of the nineteenth century.

4. Freud: "Dreams bring to light material which cannot have originated either from the dreamer's adult life or from his forgotten childhood. We are obliged to regard this as a part of the 'archaic heritage' which a child brings with him into the world, before any experience of his own, influenced by the experiences of his ancestors. We find the counterpart of this phylogenetic material in the earliest human legends and in surviving customs."

5. Freud attributed supreme value to the orgastic release of sex, whereas Jung found supreme value in the unifying experiences of religion.

6. Jung tended to interpret even sexuality as symbolic, postulating that sex represented an irrational union of opposites—a symbol of wholeness.

7. All of us are apt to be overenthusiastic about those whom we feel to be rejected unfairly, and on whose behalf we take up the cudgels.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Thirty-fourth of a Dozen Verses

(September 2005) .

March 1973, my mother, her father (Yes, that's Grandfather), and little I, aboard a ship on our way to Davao Oriental

March 1973, I, my father, and Roger, one of our land's caretakers, mounted on a carabao, in our land in Mati, Davao Oriental, Philippines

Another series of short poems following a pattern of my own invention: three eight-syllable lines (8-8-8) with the rhyme pattern a, b, awhich I'm calling, for the meantime, "waluwaluwaló."

Paggunita sa Nakalipas (Unang Yugto, 1970s)

Sa ’min ako ang panganay
At nag-iisang lalaki—
Ipinanganak sa Pasay.

Narating ko na ang Davao,
Nuong 1973—
Alaala’y parang ampaw.

Nakasakay sa kalabaw—
(Naaalala ko pa ’yun)
Ako, si Daddy, at ikaw.

Ako ay palaging tayâ
Sa tumbang preso’t taguán.
Minsan kasi’y nadadayà.

Ang mahal kong bisikleta,
Isang araw, ay nanakaw.
Nagmukha akong kawawa.

Musmos pa lamang ako ay
Mahilig na ’ko sa kiamoy.
Lasa’y nakapaglalaway.

Ang lungkot ng araw na ’yon—
Pag-uwi ko’y walang Champ na
Kumagat sa aking pantalon.

Nakalabas s’ya ng bahay,
Nasagasaan daw ng trak,
At dagli-dagling namatay.

Ang alaga kong kuneho,
Nabagsakan ng tukador.
Tuloy, ito ay nadedò.

Papunta kami ng Aklan,
Sakay ng malaking barko—
Gunita ko pa kung kaylan.

Ako’y lubusang namangha
Sa dami ng kan’lang aklat,
Isa-isa kong binása.

Sumakay ng motorsiklo—
Ako at ang aking amá,
Namasyal sa sementeryo.

Monday, October 17, 2005

"For in that sleep of death,

what dreams may come."—William Shakespeare, Hamlet

I woke up this morning exhausted and light-headed, gasping and sweating. I think, more than a minute had passed before I even realized that I was already awake.

I suddenly remembered the dream I had:

I was marooned on an island full of flowers and trees. I was naked. Fortunately, the weather was warm. I felt hungry so I went looking for food. I initially thought of catching a fowl—barbecue in mind—but I realized that I had no lighter nor matches and that I didn't know how to make fire out of two pieces of rock. Therefore, I decided to look for trees which bore some fruits.

Alas! The island was lush with trees yet no single fruit I could find. My restlessness brought me to the heart of the forest, where I stumbled upon a giant tree that sparkled literally. Surveying the branches, I saw bunches and bunches of different-colored fruits. My stomach began to grumble; my mouth started to salivate. My hunger grew more intense.

I realized that there was only one way to get to those fruits—that was, to climb the tree. However, the trunk of the tree had suddenly become taller than I thought. Besides, the sparkling things on its barks, I realized, were pieces of broken glass. So, there was no way for me to climb the tall tree to get to where the fruits were without getting myself hurt.

I couldn't do anything but cry like a newborn baby, there at the foot of the tree; and this went on for hours until I ran out of tears.

My hunger was killing me.

I sat there and stared at the luscious fruits, wishing that they fell on me. They didn't. I felt dizzy and light-headed, perhaps because of the hunger that was continuously revolting inside me.

And then—as if trapped between the states of fantasy and reality—I began to curse the tree and everything around me. After what seemed eternity, I regressed into infancy! I wanted to speak my mind, but my lips couldn't utter any word. The words in my mind were outracing one another towards my mouth, but my sudden inability to speak had naturally blocked them. I felt like a mad, mad man trapped inside the naked body of a helpless infant.

I shut my eyes and clenched my teeth, until visions of birds began to brighten in my head.

Until, I wished that I became a bird so I could fly and reach the top of the giant tree where the elusive fruits were.

I wished as hard as a child would.

To my amazement, I felt that something weird was happening. Something was growing on my back!

I was growing wings!

Yes, a pair of little bird wings started to grow on my back.

And, as if the the wings had a mind of their own, they started to flap. I began to fly...slowly, until I realized I was gradually reaching the top of the tree.

I was about to extend my arms to grab a bunch of those luscious, different-colored fruits when, suddenly, my wings ceased to flap. No matter how hard I tried to control them, they just wouldn't move. I was out of breath. I was perspiring all over. I felt like my whole body had lost its remaining energy.

When I looked down, only then did I realize that I was so high up in the air; that falling from there back to the ground wherefrom I came would spell death or, at least, broken head and bones.

Fall I did! In a seeming slow motion. I swear, I felt I had seen my last seconds before death. I felt like my head was bursting because of panic and fear.

I was shouting, not for help but because of anger. I was cursing the tree. I was cursing the wings. I was cursing everything around me. I was cursing myself for my sudden disability.

The scene was very lucid, very vivid.

Seconds before my face smashed on the stony ground, I got awakened.

I was exhausted and light-headed, gasping and sweating. I could almost taste Death.

The vision of that tree was still vivid and lucid in my mind, as well as the stony ground on which I would have smashed my head.

I wanted to cry, but I couldn't. I simply ran out of tears.

Are dreams really an expression of repressed emotions?

Friday, October 14, 2005

"Alimango" by Half Life Half Death

"Guys, I saw you on TV a few days ago," Jett Pangan said.
"I really liked your song 'Alimango'; it has The Smiths flavor in it. And your vocalist—a la Robert Smith!"

Alimango" was our first proper radio single, which we recorded in late 1994 at JR Recording Studios in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines; and re-recorded to be included in our one-and-only solo album, Pymyth Prahn, released in the following year under Viva Records' Neo label. It is the song that enabled my '80s-formed band Half Life Half Death to resurge and gain relative commercial popularity in the '90s.

"Alimango" started as a poem.

A satirical essay about Filipino attitudes, entitled "Presenting the Philippine National Animals," which I wrote in 1992 for an issue of Rock and Rhythm music magazine, was what inspired me into writing a poem about crab mentality.

One late night in 1993, I was aboard an aircon bus on my way home from a night-out with friends. (As always, I had with me a pen and a small notebook.) And, it was on that particular moment when I wrote the following verses:

Muntik ko na sanang matupad
Ang aking mga pinapangarap
Kung hindi nga lang sa inggit na hubad

Ng mga taong naninira ng hinaharap

As soon as I arrived home, I immediately beefed up and revised what I had written, until I finished a new poem, entitled "At Nanipit ang mga Alimango."
The original members of Half Life Half Death (Joel Reyes, I, Jonathan Mejino, Rain Paggao, and Edmund Villafuerte) in 1988, on a sleepover at the house of our eventual rhythm guitarist, Pet; after a gig somewhere in Alabang, Metro Manila

Months passed. Then, while on a regular sleepover at the house of my friend Pet, who was also the rhythm guitarist of our band, I and he decided to compose a new song. I always had with me the notebook which contained some of my newly written poems. Sifting through the journal's pages, Pet saw the crab-mentality poem. "Let's work on this," he said, strumming his pink guitar.

After an hour or so, we had a new song to show to the rest of the band on our next practice.

Pet and I worked around the song's chorus, which we felt was catchy and intriguing at the same time.

'mo! Ugaling alimango
'taka! Ugaling talangka
'daska! Para kang remora

I surmise that Pet and I were subconsciously transposing our view towards swear words on the song's chorus. Both he and I grew up in a similar household, in which swear words were not commonplace; thus, instead of putting in the lyric Putang ina mo, Puta ka, and Hudas ka, we opted for the shortened words...'mo!, 'taka!, and 'daska!

Half Life Half Death and Alamid, in a back-to-back gig in August 2003 at Mayric's in Sampaloc, Manila, Metro Manila

The Philippine Alternative-music scene was flourishing in the mid-'90s. Many music enthusiasts attribute this to the commercial success of Eraserheads, the band which opened the commercial door for the local Alternative Rock music of the era. Entered the door were other important bands the likes of After Image, Alamid, Color It Red, River Maya, Rizal Underground, Sugar Hiccup, and The Youth. A Metro Manila–based FM radio station, the now-defunct DWLA 105.9, also played a major role in this Alternative-music upsurgence. It helped many unsigned bands like us to gain much needed exposure by way of giving their independently recorded songs regular airplay.

Alamid's vocalist, Gary Ignacio, and I, during my last days in the Philippines, in August 2003

With the prospect of having the chance to be played on LA 105, my bandmates and I began arranging the song Pet and I composed. In early 1994, with our own money, we finally entered Greenhills Sound Studio in San Juan, Metro Manila, and recorded "Alimango." We submitted a copy to LA 105. After only several days, the station aired it to our surprise and delight. I can still vividly remember how I almost cried in joy when—while at home one afternoon and our portable karaoke machine was perpetually tuned in on LA 105—DJ Doctor, after a long pause, suddenly said: "And now, let's all listen to a brand new song called 'Alimango' from a band named Half Life Half Death."

In a matter of weeks, "Alimango" was climbing up LA 105's Top 10 charts. A few weeks more, Ed Formoso (of Lokal Brown) summoned us to the station to discuss our inclusion in a compilation album that he was conceptualizing at the time. This anthology came to be known as A Dozen Alternatives (1994, Iba Music / Viva Records), our first taste of contracted commercial exposure. And, for this compilation album that we composed and recorded the song "Kapit-Tukô," the back story of which I will be featuring on a separate blog entry.

. .
Download an MP3 copy of "Alimango" here.
June 2, 1994, Half Life Half Death's first TV appearance, promoting the single "Alimango" on Channel 9's Chibugan Na
lyric: aLfie vera mella
music: de Jesus, mella, Aznar, Paggao, Ballesteros

Ayaw ko na sanang umasa pa nu'ng araw na 'yon
Pero dapat ko nga yatang gawin ang bagay na 'yon
Kung ikaw kaya ang nasa 'king kalagayan
Ano kaya ang iisipin mo?
'mo! Ugaling alimango (2x)
Muntik na nga akong pumalpak
Palakpak ka pa nang palakpak
Imbes na tayo ay magtulungang dalawa
Bakit ba naghihilahang pababa?
'taka! Ugaling talangka (2x)
Kung minsan talaga'y kawawa ka naman
Lalo na kapag ikaw ang iniwan
Ang sabi mo ay kaibigan ko kayo
Pero bakit n'yo ako tinitira sa likod?
'daska! Para kang remora
'go! Hunyango!
Muntik ko na
Sanang matupad ang aking mga pangarap
Kung hindi dahil sa inggit mong sumira
Sa 'king hinaharap
Pero okey lang, h'wag kang mag-alala
Sasapit din ang araw na ibibigay ko sa 'yo
Ang lahat-lahat, pati na rin ang aking kamalasan
Basag! Ugaling alimasag
Wasak! Utak-bayawak
Wala, wala! Ugaling buwaya
Winasak mo! O' utak-alimango
'mo! Ugaling alimango (4x)
Alimango sa dagat
Malaki at masarap
Mahirap mahuli
Sapagkat naninipit..."
Song credits
vocals / sound effects: aLfie vera mella
lead guitars / keyboards / backing vocals: Rainald "Rain" Paggao
rhythm guitars / backing vocals: Ruperto "Pet" de Jesus
bass / backing vocals: Ramil Aznar
drums / percussion: Robert "Bimbo" Ballesteros
female's voice: Karen Mariano (of The Wailing Pixies)
child's voice: Niña Rica V. Mella

"Aligue": Nursery-rhyme version of "Alimango"
During the conceptualization of Pymyth Prahn, I suggested to the band that we make a nursery-rhyme version of "Alimango." I derived this concept from a song by The Clash, entitled "Career Opportunities," which has an alternate version sung by children. To my delight, my bandmates found my concept appealing. Thus, born the nursery-rhyme version of "Alimango," which I aptly titled "Aligue."

For the vocal tracks of "Aligue," we contemplated on employing the services of some of the street children frequenting the vicinity of the recording studio; but, because we didn't have enough time—considering the sessions that we would have to allot on teaching those kids the lyric and the melody of the song—the idea was dropped. We settled, instead, on having my ten-year-old sister record the vocal part using several tracks.

We had a great time recording Pymyth Prahn, but it was during the sessions for "Aligue" when we had the most fun. We didn't employ any electric instrument. Pet and Rain used acoustic guitars. Ramil rendered the basslines with an acoustic guitar as well. Bimbo would have used a miniature toy drum kit, but we couldn't find one. Additional instruments that we used included a toy keyboard and a small four-string plastic toy guitar.
Download an MP3 copy of "Aligue" here.

ayoko nang tumawa pa nu'ng araw na 'yon
pero dapat ko nga yatang gawin ang bagay na 'yan
kung ikaw kaya ang nasa kalagayan ko
ano kaya ang gagawin mo?

muntik na nga akong madapa
bakit ba tawa ka pa nang tawa?
ang sabi mo ay kaibigan ko kayo
pero palagi n'yo naman akong tinutukso

'kong! balagoong-sipsip-talong (2x)
'yupka! kamukha ka ni Chewbacca
'go! bisugo
lintik ka ba?

sana'y matupad mga munting pangarap ko
kaya lang baka masira ng inggit mo
pero okey lang 'yan, h'wag kang mag-alala
darating din ang araw na ibibigay ko sa 'yo
mga laruan ko, pati na rin ang aking kamalasan

basag! ugaling alimasag
wasak! utak-bayawak
'daska! mukha kang palaka
winasak mo! O' utak-alimango
'taka! mukha kang tipaklong
kurikong! nangangamoy-bagoong
pagong! para kang kamagong
aligue—taba ng alimango
Song credits
Niña Rica V. Mella - vocals
aLfie vera mella - sound effects / additional voice
Rainald "Rain" Paggao - acoustic guitars
Ruperto "Pet" de Jesus - acoustic guitars / additional voice
Ramil Aznar - acoustic guitars
Robert "Bimbo" Ballesteros - drums / percussion
Francis Reyes (of The Dawn) - plastic toy guitar
Mr. Jim Sarthou (the sound engineer) - toy keyboard

We recorded a new version of "Alimango" for our debut album. The main difference of this from the "LA 105 version" is that it has a mandolin-sounding keyboard melody and more guitar layers. The coda of "Alimango," by the way, is a cover of a traditional Filipino nursery rhyme.

The Female Vocals in "Alimango"
In the first-recorded version of "Alimango," the one that LA 105 first played, the lady who rendered the female vocal bit part was Acel Gutierrez, a friend of the band. However, in the re-recording of the song for our proper solo album, Pymyth Prahn, I had to decide on asking luminaries or minor players in the Philippine Alternative music scene instead rather than simply ordinary friends of the band. My first choice for singing the bit part "Muntik ko na!" was Cookie of Color It Red. However, when I approached Melody Go of the Philippine Alternative Rock band Sugar Hiccup about the possibility of her recording the female vocal part in our song "We Are the Saints," Melody told me that Sugar Hiccup's then manager Ann Angala said that this might pose a label conflict because HLHD was from Viva Records and Sugar Hiccup BMG Records. So, pressed for time, I didn't pursue my plan of inviting Cookie for fear of getting the same rejection and Viva was already reminding us of the deadline/timeline for the album's projected release date.

I eventually settled on inviting another close friend of the band, Karen Mariano, who was the vocalist of a minor Philippine all-female Alternative Rock band named The Wailing Pixies. Karen happily reprised Acel's part, "Muntik ko na," as well as singing a bit more backup vocals for the song and eventually rendered also the female vocal part for "We Are the Saints"; but that's another story.

The Idea behind Bit Female Vocal Parts in HLHD's Songs
To those who have become familiar with the penchant of HLHD to include bit female vocal parts in its songs, the seed of this idea came from me and Rain (HLHD lead guitarist and chief co-songwriter). We derived this idea from many of the songs of the US Alternative Rock band The Lemonheads, many of whose songs featured bit female vocal parts, usually rendered by Juliana Hatfield of The Blake Babies and The Juliana Hatfield Three and eventually a solo artist--a close friend of The Lemonheads vocalist Evan Dando. This bit-female-vocal-part style is very apparent in The Lemonheads' fifth album, It's a Shame about Ray (1992), which contained the songs "Rudderless," "Bit Part," "It's a Shame about Ray"; and sixth album Come On, Feel the Lemonheads (1993), particularly in the songs "Into Your Arms," "It's about time," "Down about It," "Dawn Can't Decide," and "I'll Do It Anyway."

In 1995, Half Life Half Death with several showbiz personalities (Jao Mapa, Victor Neri, Sharon Galvez, Roselle Nava, and Gio Alvarez), after a live performance of "High School (Life)" on Channel 2's A.S.A.P.

The Philippine FM radio stations that regularly played our song "Alimango" during those heydays included RX 93.1, DM 95.5, LSFM 97.1, and NU 107.5. Also, we were able to promote the album on several TV shows such as Channel 2's A.S.A.P., Channel 7's GMA Supershow, SST, and That's Entertainment, Channel 9's Chibugan Na, and Channel 13's Eye to Eye of "Ate Luds" Inday Badiday.

Album credits
Pymyth Prahn, 1995, Viva Records / Neo label
Executive Producer: Jett Pangan
Record Producers: Half Life Half Death and Francis Reyes, with Jim Sarthou
Sound Engineer: Jim Sarthou
Recorded in late 1994 at JR Studios in Makati City, Metro Manila
Read more about Half Life Half Death here.