6/12/2019
"Ang hirap mong mahalin"

Well, it's Independence Day, which means my social media feeds are filled with somewhat tokenistic "happy Independence Day!" posts, complete with some rumination on whether we are truly independent. You know, like this one.

And I know my feeds are not necessarily your feeds, what with the way our Internet overlords have deployed algorithms so we only see only the things we supposedly agree with, the better to sell us stuff we really ultimately don't need like, say, online courses for self-awareness and that zen bullshit. But that's what I'm seeing, and so that's where I'll be coming from. My friends, whatever that means these days, ruminating on whether we are truly independent.

The last time my feeds seemed united on an existential concern of national importance - and, again, this is just my feed, not yours - was around the time the winners of the last elections were announced. Now, while I'd like to think what I see represents opinions from different sides of the issue - which explains why I still see posts from my cousin who hinges his entire self-worth on whatever Rodrigo Duterte says he does - our Internet overlords have somehow decided that I'd be more interested in seeing posts from the so-called "dilawan", those who are critical of the current administration and would much rather have people of the same persuasion win.

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6/06/2019
Incompatibilities

It might not surprise you to learn that I have the radio on almost constantly, considering what I've done for the past seven years, but maybe it will surprise you to learn that I have it on when I sleep. The station varies - it can be the usual pop-rock stuff I tune in to, or maybe I'm in the mood for French pop, or classical, or talk from New Zealand - but, most of the time, I find myself drifting to sleep with something in the background that's not just the humming of the electric fan.

I'll say I do this because it keeps thoughts out. It hasn't always worked, but for the most part it keeps thoughts out, the kind of thoughts that tend to enter your head when you're at your most idle, perhaps when you're trying to fall asleep. That sounds sad, especially to all of you well-adjusted people, but it is what it is. But then the more traditional purpose of having the radio in the background - having some sort of company - kicks in during the day as well, especially when I'm working at home and the music library just doesn't cut it.

This, I learn, is a potential sticking point with Shalla.

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5/30/2019
The sign-off

A few years back, when we were sorting out the email signatures for all addresses in the organization, we added one of those usual notices you tend to at the very end: "If you received this email in error, please notify us immediately by sending an email or by calling."

It wasn't my idea, I'll be the first to admit. It wouldn't have occurred to me to put something like this. It's not the sort of thing I'd really read in corporate emails, but then, you know it's everywhere. But then, you don't really need notices for that sort of thing, ideally. When you get an email that's clearly not for you - which happens to me often, especially since my dad and I are in the same industry, and sort of share the same name, too - you let the sender know they sent it to the wrong person, and then you send it to the intended recipient.

But then, not everybody does that. Some people can be assholes. I guess that's why you have those notices at the end, from short lines about etiquette to paragraphs on confidentiality. This email should never get out of this thread. Okay, it doesn't say that exactly, but you get my drift.

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5/28/2019
The preoccupation

For some reason, I love the saxophone. I can't play it; I will never play it in my lifetime, perhaps; nonetheless, I love the way it sounds on songs. And maybe it's because I also grew up on Kenny G. in almost constant weekend rotation, but then, that's smooth jazz, and for better or worse, that conjures lazy mornings. I'm talking about the saxophone on arguably heavy songs.

One of the last songs I wrote about on earthings! - the music blog I ran for seven years and three weeks, the music blog that's been closed for six weeks and counting - is Sam Fender's "Hypersonic Missiles". I heard it up close on one of my afternoon walks and, well, boom went the saxophone solo. It cleaned up your last bit of doubt about whether the British newcomer can brush off the "how dare he try to be Springsteen?" questions. Here he did some bit of social commentary, which is one thing, but he also builds up the song into a euphoric, dizzying mess, and the saxophone put a period on it. He may be no Springsteen - that is difficult - but he can do it.

Inevitably, though, I wrote about the saxophone solo, the thing that drove the song to, er, hypersonic speeds. I remember that stupid grin on my face when I realized that's what's going to happen. I love the saxophone. More of, I love the sound of the saxophone on arguably heavy songs.

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5/13/2019
And you claim to believe in democracy?

First of all, I get you. It is disappointing how this all turned out. Sure, painfully partial results, and knowing the Philippine electoral process, there will be protests filed and waits lengthened. But it is disappointing how the things you thought would materialize didn't. Nope, the majority, at least according to these painfully partial results, did not vote for common sense. Nope, they did not see things your way. The spoils still go to the incompetent, at best, and the outright bad, at worst.

Yes, I understand how these results will threaten your future, your chances of having a good go at life in this country. That's how I feel, too. The looming threat of a rubber-stamp Upper House to complement an already rubber-stamp Lower House is not fun. Analysts may say that senators tend to be "presidents in waiting" and therefore will still show a streak of independence, but in the end it's still a numbers game, and whether for idealistic or pragmatic reasons, the administration will get the votes it demands and it will get its agenda across, for better or worse.

To me, it means both more robust infrastructure and the potential of losing my sovereignty; it means both some degree of certainty of what to expect and the inability to complain about it when things go tits up. As a writer, you can imagine my anger when I learned both my parents support someone who's intent on clamping down freedom of the press. To you - to all of us - it means knowing our politicians will just enrich themselves at our expense. I mean, at this point you don't need to wait for a scandal to erupt. At least one senator put in jail for corruption - albeit selectively, as some might put it - is in the Magic 12, thanks to a song and dance.

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