Dear Maestro Ryan

Dear Maestro Ryan,

Let me begin by congratulating you for being honored with the Ramon Magsaysay Award this year. In these times when fan-driven frenzy drives what's popular and what isn't, it's easy to forget all of the things you, and your contemporaries, have done to push all of Filipino music forward, not just in the 1970s and 1980s, but even up to now. I think it's a really good reminder.

When you received your award earlier today, you expressed your sadness that "there is no Filipino music out there". Now, here, sir, I'm not sure if I agree with that.

Read more »


I was out on my afternoon walk today, my feeble attempts at keeping fit after hours spent in front of this laptop, working myself to death - so what is keeping fit for? - in the days leading up to the most prestigious event in Philippine supply chain.

I'll admit, I was taking the chance to force myself to think up of something to write about on the blog, or at least to recall the things I have thought of before. I know, it's boring, how I always write about the four-entries-per-month thing I imposed upon myself, but, well, there is this four-entries-per-month thing I imposed upon myself, and I still hope to be able to keep it, even if it results in low-quality thought bubbles like this one.

I think I realize part of the reason why these ideas don't come to me as often as they used to: I don't have a lot of alone, idle time anymore. It's partly because I don't commute to work daily these days, and when I do, I drive rather than take public transport. (It's not ideal from a financial perspective, but it's either that or I wake up at half past four. And you wonder why Manila is screwed?) Me driving means plugging in the phone and listening to live radio from elsewhere in the world - I told you Manila is screwed - and that means little time to stick to whatever thought passes through me at any given point.

Read more »

72 points

If you still have time to pay attention to what everybody else is saying, you might notice a pattern. There are things that everybody is talking about, and all at the same time. Social media means what everybody says, and thinks, somehow gains equal footing, regardless of soundness of logic or veracity of facts. Well, I say "equal footing", but really, it's still like the real world; manipulate the algorithms the right way, online and offline, and you'll have a platform, a megaphone, and a guaranteed audience.

The result, as you'd expect, is cacophony. When we collectively recognize one thing as the topic of the moment - or outrage of the moment, if you're so inclined - it can be pretty difficult to escape. You see squares of varying colors, with texts of roughly the same size - 72 points - and same weight - bold. Everybody wants to have a word in, a word that will get approval from the rest of everybody else, a word that will define them as someone who's inherently good, who cares about the world, who cares about everybody else - and perhaps cool, too.

A couple of weeks ago the outrage of the moment revolved around second chances. Who deserves it, and who doesn't? All right, so those who ordered the rape and murder of innocents doesn't. And perhaps those who plundered others' hard-earned money for their personal gain. And those people who have the gall to not agree with your beliefs and express their own, diametrically opposed ones.

Read more »

Not important

I have nobody else to talk to about what I feel.

All right, there's my girlfriend. I can talk to her about what I feel. But I care about her so much that I - this makes sense, right? - that I want to protect her from whatever I'm feeling, because it makes no sense, and it's not important, and it's not worth making a big deal out of, or so they all say. This tangle I often find myself in, I don't want her to be tangled in it, too, because when she's stuck, who else will come to our aid?

This is why it's hard for me to believe anyone else who says they'll talk to me if they need to talk. It also just doesn't make any sense. Setting aside my nebulous worldview of people saying things so they look good to others and, therefore, feel better about themselves - think of the logistics. You're not always ready to become a listening ear or a crying shoulder (again, that doesn't make sense). You might be busy with something, or you might be carrying a burden of your own. What do you do with that? Be a martyr and help someone, when nobody is really willing to help yourself?

Read more »

New bridge

Cebu, like Manila, has an inner-city airport.

Okay, not exactly, but that's down to geography. Instead of building it close to the mountains, they decided to build it on a flatter island just ten kilometers away from smack middle in the city center. Considering how heavily industrialized Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu are now, for all intents and purposes, Cebu has an inner-city airport. But, unlike Manila, there's only really one direction to go if you're leaving the airport for downtown, or at least to your hotel, unless you're staying in Mactan.

I fly to Cebu at least twice a year, and it's become a familiar routine for me now. You stay thank you to the flight crew as you step out of the plane. You either take the escalator - shouldn't we call it a "deescalator" if it goes down? - or, if you're feeling haughty, the stairs. You claim your luggage, after waiting for fifteen minutes or so. You head out of the terminal, and proceed to the taxi queue.

Read more »