The Return of eLf ideas

ideas of an eLven being in Canada

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I respect individuality and people's difference in preference.

November 20, 2008
I usually write long comments. Being a writer, I tend to treat all my writings as formal as possible. I chanced upon a blog entry posted on Multiply concerning Friendster's having been hacked. One who commented said that she hated Friendster.

The comment prompted me to write my own, long comment. Since that it got longer as usual, I decided to write it here as a blog posting of its own.

That's what I call eLf ideas.

For me, having my own blog site like this one is better than any of the networking sites that I already tried, such as MySpace, Friendster, and Multiply, because having my own blog site like this gives me a sense of ownership.

Friendster - I still thank the developers of this site because through this site I got to reconnect with many long-lost friends, stretching way back 20 years ago! However, I dislike the way many people there hide behind pathetic aliases and pictures. The bulletin board has also become an ad board that usually gets flooded with topics that do not interest me anyway. Also, the testimonial section has lost its real meaning--it has become an outlet of ad and video-clip flooders. Some even write their messages there, when in fact, a testimonial should be something you write about the person. (Well, I'm guilty of writing messages on the testimonial section one once in a while. Anyway, I seldom use my Friendster account anymore.)

MySpace - I long lost interest in this site because many (if not most) of the people there (especially musicians) just flood one another's site with ads and with self-promotion tactics. They obviously don't care about music; instead, they simply care about their own music. I've long abandoned my account there.

Facebook - I go there once in a while, but I feel like it is the "downtown" or the "marketplace" (or in the Philippines, the Divisoria) of networking sites because it's too crowded and almost anyone can read your postings; feels like everyone is talking all the time at the same time. ' no sense of privacy. ' too overwhelming. I just registered a few months ago, but I lost interest already.

Multiply - I love this site because I continue to enjoy the album downloads, and I do my share by uploading music as well. The features are also better organized compared with other sites. But I guess, Multiply is usually favored by music enthusiasts like me.

In view of all these, why does each site still boasts of countless users? The answer is simple. Each site, though similar in nature and purpose with the others, has its own specialized features. And this features click to those people who obviously need such features. And because each of us has different needs and interests, our preference also varies.




Respect for each other's preference.

I'm the type of person who would not say "Guns n' Roses' new album, Chinese Democracy, or The Killers' latest, Day & Age, suck!" if in case I didn't like it, because I know very well that there are countless others who love the music of these bands. Others pass off judgment too harshly and too easily without considering the taste or feelings of others. That's what we call apathy, indifference, or inconsideration.

Lastly, for the record, I like G n' R and Metal music in general. I will buy an original copy of Chinese Democracy as soon as it gets released. Axl Rose's having spent more than a decade to finish this album deserves my appreciation and patronage.

I love The Killers, so I will buy also their forthcoming album. Not only because I love The Killers' music but more so New Wave and Post-Punk are my most favorite genres of music. In fact, I bought the debut, Hot Fuss, back in 2003, during the time they were still unheard of by the mainstream. I loved their music ever since, as well as the band's image. Just one listen to the new singles "Human" and "Spaceman" got me hooked with their music once again.


I love you and I miss you very much. I hope to see all of you there next year or the year after next year.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Are we human, or are we dancer?

November 16, 2008


Yesterday, as I was organizing my MP3 collection, I realized that in my hard disk drives are already around 100,000 of songs! Whew! Have I listened to every single song? Admittedly, not yet. But I make sure that I play an entire new album as regularly as possible. And although I have the tendency to play my classic favorites every time I want to get recharged, I also try to listen to new songs and new artists. Strictly New Wave? Not anymore, as I said a long time ago. Though the genre remains my favorite, my ears have long been accustomed to listening to any genre of music. Would you believe that, depending on mood and purpose, I could be moved in a similar level of emotions by songs by The Cure, Ogie Alcasid, Yoyoy Villame, Megadeth, Mozart, Rihanna, or Chuck Mangione.

Since that I can pretty much download songs I like, do I still buy CDs? Of course.

In fact, I've completed the recent releases of The Cure--all the new singles, the EP, as well as the new album.

Last night, I chanced upon the television MTV Europe with The Killers performing their new single "Human." I was passionately moved. My favorite genre is really here to stay forever. Worthy of noting also is the fact that The Killers interpolated some lines from Echo & the Bunnymen's "Bring On the Dancing Horses" at the end of the song.

The Killers' new, third album, Day & Age, is set to be released by the end of the month. Will I buy a copy?

Of course. I'm a Killers fan, since the day in 2003 when I first heard "Mr. Brightside," a time when The Killers were still unheard of by many ordinary people.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I'm a star starstrucked all the time.

November 14, 2008
My having been the editor and a columnist of Filipino Journal, the leading Filipino-owned newspaper here in Manitoba, Canada, is very fun. Not only am I able to share my eLf ideas and showcase my writing passion to a wider readership but also do I enjoy talking with showbusiness stars in an equal level--not idol-fan circumstance, but producer/promoter-client relationship. It makes a difference, of course. Not that movie stars or music-stars look down at their fans and supporters, but of course there's this feeling on their part that such people are there just to ogle them. Unlike when you're there with them as a part of the "crew" or as also a "star" yourself, they somehow see you as their equal. You can strike a conversation with them as if you're a friend, and they tend to lower their defenses and open up their minds. Whenever stars see you as someone who's there just to get their autographs or have your pictures taken with them, they tend to feel uncomfortable and assume the so-called elusive mode.

In view of that, we really couldn't blame stars for being naturally aloof with their fans or with common people who stare at them as if they're laboratory specimens. I could imagine how it feels like being left in the middle of a big crowd of strangers whose eyes are all set on you. Flattering, one might quip. Yes, it is. Of course. But the moment such flattery comes endlessly and from people you barely know, the feeling becomes weird, as if you are being stalked or something.

Having been a member of Half Life Half Death, a band that had its share of "star moments" in the Philippine Alternative music scene in the 1980s through the 1990s, I had the privilege to mingle (and have pictures with them taken) with many showbusiness personalities. And I feel flattered myself (up to this day) that those moments with them happened not as a fan-idol encounter but as their equal.

And back to where this article started, I am glad that here in Canada, I still am able to do the same. Because being a member of the media--regardless how big or small my part is--I can still enjoy the pleasure of having my pictures taken with stars.

Starstruck am I?

November 13, 2008, with Eric Quizon, at Buffet Square Garden, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

with Ronnie Quizon

with Jeffrey Quizon

with Vandolph Quizon & his wife, Jenny Salimao-Quizon

with Boy2 Quizon

Of course, I am. I am not a hypocrite. Regardless if the star is April Boy Regino or Yoyoy Villame or Slapshock members or Eric Quizon, having my pictures taken with them is such an honor. Whatever many bitter people might have to say, I will always respect the works and contributions of such stars in the field of showbusiness--music or film or politics this business might be.
the Idol himself, Pop singer-songwriter April Boy Regino

comedian Mar Lopez of Da Big 3 Sullivans
Last night, Filipino Journal (being one of the sponsors) hosted a welcome dinner for the entourage of Dolphy & Zsa-zsa, sons Eric, Ronnie, Jeffrey, Vandolph, and grandson Boy2 Quizon, with April Boy Regino at Buffet Square Garden. The visiting stars would be staging a show at Pantages Theatre later. (I'm just having my hair done while finishing this blog entry, and we're off to the venue to watch the show. I will be going to the stage during the finale because as the editor of the newspaper, I will join the publisher, Rod Cantiveros, in awarding Dolphy a plaque of recognition for his long career in showbusiness.

What would I wear? As usual, my ultra New Wave sense of fashion will always be in my hair.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I am strolling in the starstudded corner of my memory.

In 1995, during my former band Half Life Half Death's TV heydays, when we had the privilege to promote our singles on television, I took the opportunity of having pictures of myself with stars taken. There were lots of such star-studded photographs that I had as souvenirs; unfortunately, many of these pictures got lost in the process of my family's transferring residence here and there during the '90s.

Here're some of what I was able to keep. I treasure these photographs to this day.

I and my Half Life Half Death bandmates with my sisters and Regine Velasquez (1995, Channel 9's Chibugan Na)

with Pops Fernandez (1995, Channel 9's Chibugan Na)

with Michelle van Eimeren (1995, Channel 9's Chibugan Na)

with Jao Mapa, Victor Neri, Roselle Nava, Gio Alvarez, Sharon Galvez (1995, Channel 2's A.S.A.P.)

with Jamie Rivera (1995, Channel 9's Chibugan Na)

with Dayanara Torres (1995, Channel 2's A.S.A.P.)

with Arnel Ignacio and Karla Estrada (1995, Channel 9's Chibugan Na)

Monday, November 10, 2008

In Simple Words (1st book, to be published in February 2009)

November 10, 2008

This is it! I need to get inspired, and while I'm currently heavily inspired, I have to take advantage of the literary flame once again burning deep inside me. Many years have passed since I started toying with the idea of publishing my books. However, procrastination always got in the way. But not only this, I also got caught up with work and other stuff since I finally got my life back here in Canada.

To those who didn't know what I'm talking about, here's a little backtracking...

In 2003, I left the Philippines for Canada primarily to serve as my maternal grandfather's caregiver. That period was very tough because I really took care of him day in day out for almost three years until he passed away. Only after his death when I finally regained my freedom. After such predicament was I able to look for a real job, because when he was still alive, no one could be with him all the time except me. Grandfather and I stayed with relatives, and that meant I could not live on my own accord. I had to go with the flow. I did not have a salary nor a regular allowance, so I was practically poor during that period--not only financially but also in self-confidence and in self-esteem. But that is all over now.

In July 2006, 91-year-old Grandfather passed away. And so my life began colorfully once again.

Fast forward...

I now work as nursing assistant at a hospital, Riverview Health Centre, as well as work as the editor of Filipino Journal, the leading Filipino-owned newspaper here in Manitoba where I am. I also maintain three columns in the said newspaper: "Sa Madaling Salita" (about cultures and lifestyles as well as personal observations on life in Canada), "Sa Ugoy ng Musika" (music column tackling music, songs, artists, genres, fashion, and related stuff), and "Engkanto series" (serialization of the fantasy fiction / Philippine mythology book I'm currently finishing).

Just recently I while on a contemplation about my accomplishments in Canada, I felt very grateful to my deities because my life turned for the better after all. There are still lots of catching up to do and some obstacles to hurdle, but so far so good.

However, one dream that suddenly began to bug me once again is the question of when will I really have a book of mine published. The answer is NOW! I mean I should act now and start working on the book that I decided to publish first, and this will be the book compiling all the articles I've written for my column "Sa Madaling Salita."

Also, I feel good that not only Filipinos have been reading my columns in the newspaper; many non-Filipino coworkers have also began asking for copies of the newspaper because they said that they enjoy reading my articles. Some of you might wonder how they can understand the articles; well, if you have been reading some of the articles which I have been posting here, you would have noticed that for that particular column, I write partially in Filipino and mostly in English. This was intended. Because I acknowledged the fact that English is a very widely used and understood language, and that I'm now living in an English-speaking country, that the most practical and logical thing to do is to write using English as much as possible.

So, for the book version of "Sa Madaling Salita," I decided to translate the title (as well as the title of each article) into English, and edit the articles themselves and try to make it more universal as possible, meaning, I would be translating the entire articles into English except for the introductory paragraphs.

Lastly, I've given myself a deadline for this project. I should be finished with compiling and re-editing the articles for this book next month, so that I can give the files to the publisher as soon as possible for an intended publication and printing in February of next year. I already got in touch with a self-publishing company which gave me a reasonable quote. They'd be taking care of everything, from laying out to undertaking the copyright and other important documentation.

I want to release the book commercially on February 14 of next year. Why Valentine's Day? Because that will mark the third year anniversary of my column "Sa Madaling Salita" in Filipino Journal.

My first article written for the column, "Ano ang 'I Miss You' sa Filipino?," was published in 2006, for the Valentine issue of the newspaper.

ThereForce, I have two months to finish the book. I just be needing all the moral support to keep my passion burning some more. Save your money for now; just purchase a copy of the book when it's finally available and I'd be happy.

In Simple Words
by aLfie vera mella
Date of Publication: February 2009
Tentative price: C$15

I'm accepting pre-orders now. Hehehe.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

I always have a clear sense of purpose.

November 9, 2008

Somehow the snow on the streets has melted today. The streets were not that icy and slippery anymore. Well, at least for the time being. Surely, though, snow will fall again in the coming days. No doubt about that, it's Winter time already! And what's great is that, whatever season of the year it might be, I always have a clear sense of purpose.

Work today was smooth. I was assigned at the same unit I was on yesterday--CD1, personal care home. I always enjoy being of service to the elderly. I noticed that, no matter how grumpy a resident is, I have my own special way of softening their mood. Flattering also is the fact that, despite the weakness of the short-term memories of such old people, most of them easily remember my name. Good.

Charina and I went to Polo Park to buy some grocery supplies at Safeway and at Shoppers. There were lots of people there--Filipinos and non-Filipinos. I noticed that, compared with my first years here, about 3 years ago, the malls these days are also becoming crowded, in the standards of Canada anyway. I welcome that. I enjoy strolling and shopping at the malls when there are lots of people. I feel a sense of community.

I remember my first years in Canada, I almost never went out without my camera. I guess I have to start bringing my camera once again every time we go out. Not because that I've been living here for five years now that I'm starting to lose my awe. In times I feel like that--feel like everything starts to be usual and normal again, I simply look back and it does the trick! I always try to capture in my heart the same excitement I used to have when I first saw Canada.

Anyway, the blog bug has bitten me once again! And I love it. I suddenly had the urge to write as many blog entries as I could, the way I used to do when I started this blogspot, 4 years ago.

Above is a photograph of mine taken only a month ago. This hairstyle is partly inspired by the hairdo of Information Society's vocalist, Kurt Harland (see below). In case you don't know the band, Information Society is the American band (Minneapolis, Minnesota) that sung "What's on Your Mind? (Pure Energy)."

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Sa Ugoy ng Musika feature #2: Heavy Metal Thunder!

(Classifying Rock Music into Genres)
by aLfie vera mella

[published in Filipino Journal, Nov. 5-20, 2008 issue]

“I like smoke and lightning / Heavy metal thunder / Racin' with the wind / And the feelin' that I'm under…”—Steppenwolf, “Born to Be Wild” (Steppenwolf, 1968)

Some people insist that we should not classify music into genres. They say that music is simply either good music or bad music. I don’t agree with them. That’s a shallow way to treat a very diverse form of art. It’s like saying that living things are only either plants or animals, or that animals are simply either good animals or bad animals; when in fact, animals may be classified into vertebrates and invertebrates, and then vertebrates into birds, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. As humans, who are endowed with a complex brain that can perform countless complicated functions and processes, we can do better than that. Music deserves a better treatment.

In its original sense, taxonomy referred to the classifying of living organisms. However, the term is now used in a wider sense; it now refers to “a classification of things, as well as to the principles underlying such a classification.” Thus the existence of a practice known as Music Taxonomy, or Music Genre Classification.

To an ordinary listener, any song which features distorted guitars and heavy drum poundings is simply plain old noisy Rock music. The real music enthusiast, however, cares about genres and respects all kinds of music. The label Rock music is insufficient to her, because it is generic and too broad. S/he would opt for the more specific, subgenres that include Progressive Rock, Punk Rock, New Wave, Alternative Rock, Metal, and Grunge. To her, no genre or song is better than another, regardless how simple or complex its structure is. Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” is as good a musical composition as Simple Plan’s “When I’m Gone.”

This issue gives an overview of Metal music and cites examples of its subgenres and bands and songs classified under such subgenres.

I with Slapshock vocalist Jamir Garcia, and friend Roy Gutierrez

I with Slapshock guitarist Jerry Basco, bassist Lee Nadela, and soundtech Greg Maurice; Nadela used to be the bassist of the Filipino Alternative Rock band Agaw-Agimat, while Greg Maurice the drummer of another Alternative Rock band, Hav'it, active in the '90s.

I with Slapshock drummer Chi Evora and guitarist Lean Ansing, who used to have a band named Machinegun Poetry, active especially during the Club Dredd-EDSA days

Formed in 1999, Slapshock is a Filipino Nu Metal band which has so far released 5 successful albums and is the first Filipino band to be invited to the Dubai Desert Rockfest, playing alongside Korn, Muse, and Velvet Revolver.

The Use of Demonic Imageries
“I don’t like Heavy Metal. It’s just noise. It’s the Devil’s music!”

That is a stupid and unfair thing to say about Metal music or any other type of music for that matter.

First, you cannot equate music with noise, simply because they are the exact opposites of each other. Whereas
noise is a nonharmonious group of sounds that has no recognizable pattern or structure, music is an expression of ideas and emotions in significant forms that use elements like rhythm, melody, and harmony. Therefore, any song—no matter how loud, fast, aggressive, or distorted-sounding—remains a musical composition, because it
uses musical elements and follows certain musical structures.

Second, the use of words and imageries commonly associated with evil is not a reason to dismiss the music of Metal bands as a work of the Devil. The use of demonic imageries in Music—usually for artistic, satiric, shock, and commercial effect—should not be surprising, because it is common also in other forms of art, like Literature, Painting, and Films. Persecuting music like this is like going back to the 1600s, when narrow-minded and self-righteous leaders burn books and people with radical ideas, claiming them to be works of Satan.

The Birth of Metal Music
is a genre of Rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in England and the United States. It is rooted in Blues Rock and Psychedelic Rock of the mid-’60s and in Garage Rock and Folk Rock of the early ’60s. It features a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness.

Metal music is so maligned and persecuted, and a lot of people continue to misunderstand it just because it is usually loud and intense, with lyrics and imageries commonly delving on sex, death, violence, and the occult. Although, many Metal bands also use themes of love, romantic tragedy, fantasy literature, and sociopolitical commentary.

Examples of early Metal bands (now classified more specifically as Heavy Metal or Classic Metal) are Led Zeppelin (“Stairway to Heaven”), Black Sabbath (“War Pigs”), Deep Purple ("Highway Star"), Judas Priest (“Deal with the Devil”), and Iron Maiden (“The Number of the Beast”).

Led Zeppelin

Black Sabbath

Deep Purple

As the genre evolved and gained popularity through the years, it splintered into many subgenres:

In the ’80s, Glam/Pop Metal—less abrasive and more melodic, band members often sported long teased-up hair and wore dazzling clothes: Van Halen (“Jump”), Bon Jovi (“You Give Love a Bad Name”), Guns N’ Roses (“Sweet Child o’ Mine”);

Thrash Metal—faster tempo, more-distorted guitar sounds, and darker-themed lyrics: Metallica (“Seek and Destroy”), Megadeth (“Symphony of Destruction”), Slayer (“Angel of Death”);

In the ’90s, Funk Metal—with elements of Funk and Rap: Primus (“Jerry Was a Race Car Driver”), Infectious Grooves ("Punk It Up"), and Rage Against the Machine (“Killing in the Name”);

On October 11, 2008, Slapshock performed at Philippine-Canadian Center of Manitoba, in Winnipeg, to a very supportive mostly Filipino audience. Opening for the visiting band were Winnipeg local Filipino Alternative bands FourSight, The Nadelbacks, L.A.D., and my current band Half Endangered Species. In the photographs: (1) Roy Gutierrez, Lean Ansing, aLfie vera mella, Lee Nadela, Jamir Garcia, Chi Evora; (2) Lee, Paul Magnaye (L.A.D.), Jerry Basco, aLfie, Lean Ansing; (3) Ardie Sarao and aLfie (Half Endangered Species), Jamir Garcia, Charina Corbillon, and Slapshock fans

Nu Metal—with elements of Hip-hop, Techno, and Grunge: Korn (“Counterfeit”) and Linkin Park (“In the End”);

And in the ’00s, Retro Metal—contemporary bands whose music has been described as “realistic simulation of ’70s Glam and ’80s Metal”: The Darkness (“I Believe in a Thing called Love”) and Wolfmother (“Woman”).

In every decade, there emerge young and new bands whose music and style may be classified as Metal; therefore, although associated with particular decades, this genre and any other genre for that matter is now considered a timeless form of music. Furthermore, a number of Metal bands originating from the ’70s and ’80s and many surviving members of bands long disbanded continue to make similar styles of music, either as solo artists or in collaboration with other musicians.

Final Note
Even if we can classify artists and music into genres, still we cannot confine them rigidly in a particular classification, simply because artists can always experiment and try other styles and incorporate new elements in their music, resulting in fusion or crossovers and newer subgenres of music. Therefore, music taxonomy is only an attempt to organize music. It helps music enthusiasts diversify their musical taste and refine their music-listening skills, enhancing their listening pleasure.

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I see the whiter side of the snow, but it's still mucky.

November 8, 2008


To many others, today is a weekend rest. Countless sleepyheads surely got up from bed late. Not I.

Today is the first day of my day-shift week work; meaning, I woke up early this morning, around 6:00, because I had to start my vehicle and turn on the heater about 15 minutes before driving. The temperature these days is below 0 degC because of the snow coupled with the freezing rain. Actually, when I woke up, I had the urge just to call a taxicab instead of driving. But the thought of paying C$15 for the one-way fare energized my nerves. I was driving very slow; the roads were icy and slippery. In fact, I skidded a couple of times; good that there were few vehicles on the road because it's weekend.

The day at work went by smoothly as usual. I enjoy my job at Riverview Health Centre, and that makes my work days tolerable.

Another story for an article...during the unbusy hours, I got to talk with one of the Filipina service partners, Rose Sanchez. I learned that she was a talented illustrator (charcoal, ink, and oil), but that she did not pursue the avocation. She began drawing as early as in Grade One, as influenced by her father, who himself was a painter. She said that she draws every time she's at home and not doing some chores. Drawing serves as her stress reliever. It also gives her a sense of nostalgia, because it has the power to transcend her back to her younger days. She said that she was happy also because her two children "inherited" her knack in drawing.

After work, I just went home to rest for a bit, then Ina and I went to Toys R Us to check out the items on SALE. I bought 6 new Star Wars Clone Wars action figures:
2 Ahsoka Tano
2 Clone Commander Cody
Clone Pilot Odd Ball
Super Battle Droid

and a metal slinky and a bubblegum dispenser for Gabriel, a Bratz accessory for Jannica, and a doll set for my goddaughter who was celebrating her third birthday today.

We headed to the venue, Buffet Square Garden on McPhillips. There were lots of celebrations taking place at the restaurant. We filled our stomachs to the rim. Yummy! What I love most at that resto is the sushi bar. Although, for me, nothing beats the sushi restaurants on Osborne Street and on Corydon Avenue.

The streets were still slippery, and this time wet and mucky, because the snow has melted. If winds blow over the night, the roads would surely be icy and slippery tomorrow morning.

Oh my! For sure, I'd be having again tomorrow morning the urge to call a taxicab instead of driving. But the thought of paying C$15 for the one-way fare would definitely energize my nerves. I would be driving very slow; the roads would be icy and slippery. I hope, I don't skid tomorrow; good that there would be fewer vehicles on the road because it's Sunday.

To many others, tomorrow is a weekend rest. Countless sleepyheads would surely be tucked under their warm blankets until late morning.

Not I.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

To suppress your feelings is to imprison your spirit.

November 6, 2008

Life. Unpredictable. Very surprising--enough to surprise even oneself most of the times.

I'm honest with what I feel. Of course, like everyone, I too have my own deepest secrets, but to be able to express some which are less dark helps me ease the emotional burden that I sometimes feel.

If you will observe the millions of blog sites on the Internet right now, they show the generalization that most--if not all--human beings crave to be heard and noticed and to feel belonged. I'm one of those. Simple as that. I'm not a hypocrite, to say that I write personal experiences on the Internet without the desire to be read by others. They are my messages in a bottle, thrown aimlessly at the vast ocean of anonymity.

In self-redemption, I have also a positive purpose in doing this--aside from documenting my life for my own benefit and for posterity's sake--that is, to serve as an example to others that humans are very emotional and predictably unpredictable beings.

Just keep on expressing yourself. Don't hide behind a mask of anonymity. This is cowardice.

To conceal your identity is to be ashamed of your personality.

To suppress your feelings is to imprison your spirit.

Today, the first snowdrops of Winter fell. It rained as well. As always, on me the magic of whiteness cast its spell.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The missing 'n'.

November 5, 2008

Today is third day of my week off from work at Riverview Health Centre; although I worked an extra shift last Monday and would be working tomorrow for a coworker who exchanged a workday with me. That coworker, in turn, would be working next Tuesday for me.

The weather the past three days was great--meaning, it was less colder as what many people expect, considering that Winter is around the corner. I could still wear shorts the past days, especially that I'm driving anyway. Unlike when I was still commuting, because I was more exposed to the cold winds.

When I'm home, I usually just write articles for Filipino Journal, listen to music as always, cook, clean, watch films, read books, and be with Charina and the kids. Right now, I am editing articles submitted by writers for the newspaper. I enjoy this! Making love with words is such a warm experience. I suppose any writer would agree with me.

A few days ago I just finished the article for the second feature of my new column "Sa Ugoy ng Musika," and I'm really enjoying writing for this column of mine, because as many people know I'm a big music enthusiast--music of various genres.

Speaking of my new music column in Filipino Journal, I'm sharing with all of you right now the first feature, which appeared last month.

Filipino Journal is the leading Filipino-owned newspaper in Manitoba, Canada, where I live. It's been in publication for 22 years already, and I've been writing for it for almost three years now, and I was taken in as an associate editor by the publisher last March of this year.

So, here, the article I wrote for the first feature of my music column, "Sa Ugoy ng Musika," in Filipino Journal.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

"Sa Ugoy ng Musika" feature #1: Elise Estrada: Climbing Up the Charts

aving been a passionate listener of music of various genres since the ’70s, I was able to acquire not only a diverse musical taste but also the ability to classify music according to widely accepted genres and listen to it multidimensionally.

To an ordinary listener, perhaps a song consists of only the vocals and the background music. A multidimensional listener, however, has the ability to dissect a song into the different instruments and melodies employed during the recording process. The multidimensional listener can hear not only the vocal tracks but also the bass lines, the layers of guitars, the keyboards, the beat of each drum unit, and whatever other instruments are present in the song. This is one reason ordinary listeners find listening to complex genres of music like Classical, Progressive Rock, and Metal difficult. To them, the various musical instruments playing in complement or in counterpoint with one another are a mere cacophony of sounds.

A true lover of music is someone who sets no boundaries, someone who tries to appreciate any genre. To him, a somber Folk ballad is as moving as an intense Punk Rock song. To him, no music is more hip than another. Everyone has his own favorite, but this should not stop him from trying to listen to other forms of music. Or if his ears couldn’t really comprehend the complexity and intensity of some songs, at least show respect by avoiding unfounded criticisms.

It’s been a while since I started receiving suggestions from young readers that I begin a music column. They wanted to be updated on new artists and album releases and to rediscover past musical works.

There is no better way to respond to these music lovers’ requests than to start a music column.

I am calling this column “Sa Ugoy ng Musika,” which will tackle not only albums, the songs and the artists, but more so overview of music genres. Admiring a song without crediting its artist is like appreciating the body but disregarding the soul. Listening to music without knowing about genres is swimming in the vast ocean of music.

I will feature mostly Filipinos, but I will also give space to non-Filipino artists once in a while. After all, “Music is a universal language that transcends boundaries and bonds people even thousands of miles apart.”

Elise Estrada: Climbing Up the Charts

Genre: Dance/Hip-hop/R&B
: Elise Estrada (2008, RockStar Music Corp.)
Web site

For my first feature, I am welcoming Elise Estrada: a Canadian-raised, Vancouver-based Filipino singer who is currently touring Canada to promote her self-titled debut album. The first single, “Insatiable” reached number 44 in Canadian Hot 100 (a music singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine). Followup singles include “Unlove You,” “These Three Words,” and “Crash and Burn.” She has toured with the likes of Nelly, 50 Cent, and Girlicious.

Elise also became a beauty-pageant titleholder—Miss Vancouver in 2004.

I had the chance of interviewing Elise Estrada during her CD/autograph signing held on October 20 at shopgirl boutique located at 400 Academy Road.

According to Elise—who was born in 1987 in Marikina City, Philippines, and immigrated to Canada with his family when she was four—she started singing at the age of five, with the encouragement of her supportive parents, who are music enthusiasts themselves. Acknowledging the love of many Filipinos for karaoke/videoke singing, Elise said that she began to find her singing voice by listening to and singing songs by Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, and Michael Jackson—artists she regards as major influences. She cited also Beyoncé, Regine Velasquez, and Vina Morales as artists whom she admires.

Determined and persistent, Elise pursued her passion by joining singing competitions like Pinoy Pop Superstar (2006) and Vancouver’s The Beat 94.5’s annual talent search (2007).

Like many artists before her, Elise started her career by singing other artists’ songs, but she didn’t stop there. She persevered until she found the opportunity to record her first single and finally her own album. “After I did Pinoy Pop Superstar, that’s when we [my family and I] decided to take it to the next level, so I auditioned for The Beat, the radio station based in Vancouver that produced my first single….”

Since that she has little contribution to the album in terms of songwriting, I asked if she’s planning to write songs for her next album. “It’s something I’m definitely working on,” assured Elise. “There’s a difference between writing a good song and writing a hit song, and I’m not exactly at that level yet; but…but I’m working on it.”

To other aspiring artists who dream also of making their marks in the music industry, Elise has this to say: “If it’s something that you really love to do and are passionate about, then keep doing it; and work hard, and everything will fall into place…and make sure you do it for the right reasons.”

Elise Estrada signs autographs for her fans who dropped by to see her at shopgirl boutique owned by the young Filipino-Chinese entrepreneur Cyrile Ong.

Finally, I asked Elise how she is able to infuse her Filipino heritage into her works. “I let people know that I am Filipino. I mean, I think that’s one thing. Also, even the way I talk, the way I look, I don’t try to change anything. I think being Filipino makes me different, and it’s something to be proud of.”

At 21, with hard-earned wit and talent, and with a newly released album, Elise Estrada is definitely making her mark internationally—something that others can emulate and surely be proud of.

Thanks to Cyrile Ong, the owner of shopgirl boutique, for accommodating us during my interview session with Elise Estrada and for letting me interview her as well, the result of which merits a separate article.

Monday, November 03, 2008

To the Wave of Music #1: The Lotus Eaters - 'No Sense of Sin'

November 3, 2008

As I said in my last blog entry, I started last month my third column in the newspaper Filipino Journal. I called it "Sa Ugoy ng Musika," in which I will be writing about music genres, bands, other artists, album reviews, and personal stories expressing how music has affected me.

I also mentioned that, in 2006, I started eLf ideas Multiply site, primarily to share music with fellow music enthusiasts. Many Multiplyers post albums on their sites, and many of these people write also short reviews of these albums. What sets me apart from the lot of them, I think, is my penchant to share my personal story about a particular song or album or band. This way, I am able to share with fellow music enthusiasts how music has enhanced my views in general. Like, for instance, for me, life without music is life without memories.

In view of my music column and my album postings on Multiply, I thought of posting here on eLf ideas blogspot the music/album reviews I posted on Multiply.

I am giving this series of music postings the title "To the Wave of Music."

Here's my first entry for the series. I wrote this originally on January 2008 for my Multiply site .

German Girl

Love Still Flows

Can You Keep a Secret?

Out on Your Own

Put Your Touch on Love

Too Young

Set Me Apart

You Fill Me with Need

The First Picture of You

Alone of All Her Sex

When You Look at Boys

Start of the Search

Cover sleeve of the debut album of the English band The Lotus Eaters, released in 1984; the cover features vocalist Peter Coyle and guitarist Jeremy Kelly, the primary members of the group

The first picture below was my highschool graduation picture taken in 1988. Yes, even back in those days, I was already sporting a New Wave look reminiscent of Jeremy Kelly's famous The Lotus Eaters days hairstyle. The second picture was taken two years ago, in 2006, a hairstyle inspired by Jeremy Kelly of The Lotus Eaters and Robert Smith of The Cure. More than 20 years had passed since I discovered New Wave and donned the fashion and style, yet I remain practically the same New Wave enthusiast I used to be, mellowed a bit but very passionate all the same.

For my first music posting, no album is more befitting my music taste than this one: No Sense of Sin by The Lotus Eaters, the original version released in 1984 on Arista Records.

I'm sure that many New Wave aficionados already have a copy of this album in their collection, because I believe that one is not a legitimate New Waver if s/he has not at least some songs from this album.

In 1985, the year I first immersed myself in a blossoming Alternative Rock music of the '80s which was New Wave, "German Girl" was the first song that imprinted a lasting impression on my mind. In fact, a cassette tape of this album was the first ever album that I bought with my own money from my school allowance. Secondly, guitarist Jeremy Kelly was the first musical icon whose hairstyle I imitated (second was Robert Smith and Ian McCulloch, and next was Dave Gahan). Besides, many friends and acquaintances always told me that I have a facial resemblance with Jeremy Kelly.

Then, when The Lotus Eaters went to the Philippines in 2001 for the promotion of their long-awaited followup album, I got to meet Jem personally. Actually a few years before that gig Jem and I had already been corresponding with each other through e-mail, so when he first saw me at their promo gig at MusicOne in Glorietta, he immediately recognized me. And he himself told me that he thought I looked like him when he was in his teens. I dropped by again at their promo appearance at Q in Rockwell. Jem personally gave me a backstage access to the concert proper and invited me to the after-party. In fact, Jem's girlfriend was the one who took my friend and former bandmate Carol Pobre and me from the concert venue to the club where the after-party was held. Just having the chance to see Jem and Pete in person was a dream come true. So surreal!
Jeremy Kelly and I, in 2001 at the record store MusicOne at Glorietta Shopping Center in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines; I with other Lotus Eaters fans who approached me to ask if they could have a picture taken with me

There! That's how special to my life The Lotus Eaters and their music. My highschool days and mid-'80s summer days were incomplete without them and their music, which I played almost every day.

To The Lotus Eaters, especially to Jem and Pete, thank you very much for your music.

My two most favorite songs from The Lotus Eaters are "Too Young" and "Start of the Search."

No Sense of Sin (1984, Arista); re-released in 1998 by BMG Japan with 10 bonus tracks
silentspace (2001, Vinyl Japan)

Listen to the entire album on eLf ideas Multiply.

I remain a lit'terariat.

November 3, 2008

This week is a week-off from my work at Riverview Health Centre, but I picked up an extra shift today, doing the morning shift. As soon as I got home, I ate lunch and then logged on to finish the articles for my columns in Filipino Journal. In the middle of researching and polishing the articles, a spark of inspiration to visit this blogspot of mine suddenly ignited.

Never did abandon
As I wrote in a recent entry, I have not totally abandoned this precious blogspot of mine, especially that this blogspot contains the bulk of my writings during the toughest years of my life in Canada (2003 - 2006).

I remain a lit'terariat.

Many people might think that, just because I no longer write actively on this blogspot (reduced to, at least, one entry per month) that I have long ago rested my literary pen. That is not the case. I may be currently inactive on my eLf ideas blogspot, but I never ceased to write. I simply turned to and focused my literary energy on other venues.

In February 2006, Filipino Journal--the leading Filipino newspaper here in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada--published my first article in its column "In Dis Korner," a column reserved for guest writers and contributors. After several articles, I was given my own column, "Sa Madaling Salita," in which I've been writing consistently ever since. In June 2006, in time for the celebration of Philippine Independence, I started my second column in Filipino Journal, "Engkanto Series," which serializes the Philippine Mythology / Fantasy Fiction book that I am hoping to finish. Late that year, the newspaper's publisher asked my assistance in editing portions of the newspaper, which I gladly accepted. When publisher Tita Linda Cantiveros died last March 2008, the husband, Tito Rod Cantiveros, asked me to be one of the two associate editors. I have been editing the newspaper since, while maintaining my columns. Last month, I started my third column, "Sa Ugoy ng Musika," in which I am tackling music genres, bands, songs, and album releases.

Also in 2006, I have joined the Multiply site, on which, aside from sharing some of my favorite music albums (with personal background stories) to fellow music enthusiasts, I've also been blogging there once in a while.

So, you see, my literary pen has not run out of ink after all.

In view of all these, and since that I feel at-home the most when writing on my eLf ideas blogspot, I have thought of being active here once more. I said it a number of times already, but I will try. Again.

Also, since that I feel that articles I post on this blogspot tend to have more readers compared with those I post on Multiply, I will start posting here the articles that I wrote for Filipino Journal and those that I posted on my Multiply site, in addition to my regular and usual postings.

Back again
Okay, I now have to go back to where I started today--finish my articles for the forthcoming issue of Filipino Journal.

My friend and former bandmate in Half Life Half Death 5'11'' Bb. Pilipinas '95 Carol Pobre, the female voice in our song "High School (Life)," who also became a professional ramp model and worked as a flight stewardess, and who have long been working at Shell in the Philippines, who to this day remains a hardcore Punk Rocker at heart--whew!--is one of those who keep on bugging me to reactivate this blogspot of mine.

Lorac, thank you! As Rain said, the thought that there is one person who reads what you write should be enough reason to keep you writing. A spark is a spark, enough to ignite a million inspirational goosebumps.