Saturday, December 31, 2011

Coincidence? Nah. 2011 was good for me.

On New Year's Eve, I went to the grocery to buy a few things. And guess what -- my bill added up to PhP 1,111.11! No bull. The year 2011 was a very good one for me and considering my birthday was sort of unique as it was on 11/11/11. The lady next to me in line offered to buy the receipt. I thought about it for a moment then said, "Sure. Is PhP10,000 okay?" I must have overstated its value. She didn't get it. Hahaha. But I did keep the receipt. As far I know the winning lotto number wasn't anywhere near this.

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 was memorable for me

Going to Kuwait and Dubai * Seeing the Azkals grow into a phenomenon * Watching Liverpool in Malaysia * Teaching in Ateneo de Manila University for a second straight year * Getting to do television work on AKTV * Doing a regular podcast with some great friends * Patched up a bunch of broken relationships * Ditching my comic books for trade paperback and hardcover collections * Fabio Moon & Gabriel Ba's Daytripper * Watching Marvel finally do a Captain America film justice * Katy Perry * The Walking Dead Season One * Pearl Jam 20 * Denden Lazaro * Ateneo Blue Eagles' four-peat * The Big Bang Theory * X-Men First Class * Broken Social Scene in Singapore * iPad 2 * Steve Jobs * Top Chef * Mark Waid on Daredevil * The Los Angeles Galaxy go to Manila * 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Loving Pearl Jam's 20

There are a couple of albums that I play at least once a month: The Boxer Rebellion's Union, Counting Crow's August and Everything After, Zwan's Mary Star of the Sea, and Pearl Jam's Rearview Mirror. Although I came of age with the punk and new wave scene of the 1980s, I have always preferred the 90's alternative music explosion. I was a huge Nirvana, Helmet, and Oasis fan then. I liked Pearl Jam but not in the way I do since the turn of the century. I sort of outgrew Nirvana (I still listen to Nevermind occasionally) and listening to the lyrics of Eddie Vedder really grew on me. When I first heard of Cameron Crowe doing "20" I was excited. Music has played a prominent role with his films and this one was the opposite because the music came first before the film. I picked up both the DVD and CD and spent hours listening and watching both. The songs remain as powerful as ever. Will grab the hardcover coffee table book in a few days. That will complete the experience. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cool minds. My Intro to Journ class in Ateneo.

Last year was a learning experience for me in teaching. That sounds funny, right?

I always said that as much as my students will learn from me so will I learn from them. And I learned a whole lot in managing and teaching a class of students.

This year, classes are better structured that are designed to make them even more fun. I instituted a Quick Write Challenge (ala Top Chef’s Quickfire Challenge) where we get to see the students’ spontaneous creativity and writing skills. We’ve done three so far and think they’ve loved everyone of them. We still have our group work that is designed to make them work with other people and to make new friends. And in our fourth session together, I’d say that it is a smashing success.

Today’s lesson was on “Broadcast Journalism” and with my limited experience, I needed help from former GMA-7 (and Atenean) James Velasquez and TV5 reporter and TV host Chiqui Roa Puno (whose brother is one of my best friends in Ateneo). It was a fantastic class.

For their Quick Write Challenge, they had to pretend that they were reporting a massive flood ala what hit Manila during Typhoon Ondoy. The playacting was simply awesome!

I think my students are seeing that there are things that they can do. Take for example, Kirk Long. Like Emman Monfort before him, he can write. And write them really well, I say. Every week, I’d have to see he impresses me. And there are others too.

I’ve had bad experiences with professors and I always wondered why I had to go through them. They never encouraged me and instead made me fear them and not want to learn. There’s another way of looking at it and its being bold and proving one’s self. The thing is everyone has a different character make up. I the me of today was in school, being more confident, I’d do a whole lot better.

I can honestly say that I am looking forward to class in order to teach and to learn from my students. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Drawing my dog.

Just doodling. Miss drawing and painting. Something I did extensively as a kid. My skills at that have atrophied and I'm trying to take a new stab at it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tuesday sunset. Ateneo de Manila University.

Sunset Tuesday November 1, 2011. I snapped the pic just as my youngest son and I wrapped up our walk around the Ateneo de Manila campus. I have always been one to sit back and enjoy the sunset. Walking always provides a time for introspection and reflection. Or I make use of the time to seek inspiration for what I need to write or create. Today was time well spent.

Monday, October 31, 2011

In my own write

In my own write
by rick olivares

I bumped into one of my best friends from Ateneo the other day at the mall and he introduced me to his family. He then said to me, “I see you everywhere.”

I smiled and simply said “thanks” then “see you ‘round.”

Everywhere. And ‘round.

To be perfectly honest, I never knew where I was going. I never knew what I wanted to do. I just did whatever it took for the moment. I always felt like a square peg in a round hole. In short, I was drifting.

When I give advice to my students or young folk who ask for it, nowadays, I tell them to do what they want to do and not what people want them to be.

How I wish when I knew that and stuck to that when I was younger.

It’s funny how people know me as a I writer when I don’t think I ever was. Lost in all the newspaper and magazine articles are those pieces of artwork I lovingly painted as a child. I went to art school every summer (because I was mostly not allowed to play football). I wanted to do animation or comic books that’s what I wanted as a kid. But when I got to Grade 6, I put up a band in class and me and my classmates began to write songs. So I guess that was the beginning of writing. If I was into songwriting then poetry wasn’t far away. I still have one of my notebooks that contain most of what I wrote back then. Including love letters to girls that I courted. When I read them nowadays I cringe and flagellate myself. What kind of douche bag writes such cheesy stuff?

When I was out of the football team, I wanted to join the photography club but we couldn’t afford a second camera for me to use. Instead I joined the school newspaper. But I wrote sparingly hoping to take photos because those guys were able to get on to the court during UAAP games.

Then my first job after school was in an ad agency and I was asked, “What can I do?” “I can draw,” I said. No opening replied the HR Manager. “But I can write,” I offered desperate for a job.

I got in. But I still never thought that I was a copywriter. I still had illusions of playing in a band. It was hard though because although I had a chip on my shoulder, I did not in my belief have the requisite angst to become a rock star. I didn’t smoke, do drugs, or party like an animal. I was an ordinary bloke without any extraordinary talent.

Even then when I was in advertising, I did a few cameo appearances for television commercials (PLDT is the most prominent one or two) and a number of radio commercials as a talent. One of the coolest things ever is seeing the commercial you wrote, art directed, or appeared in shown on television or in movie theaters. Of course, it was embarrassing because my siblings never let me hear the end of it. They loved to tease me about them.

When I moved abroad, I worked in an entirely different field. The only writing I did were in the form of letters that I wrote to my family and friends about my adventures. While working in a private school in Brooklyn, I was also asked if I could do the newsletters for parents. But that’s it I swear.

Outside work, I’d go all over the city, out of state and just about anywhere. On the days I kept to myself, I stayed in my hangout near the Angels of the Waters where I wrote short stories, poetry, and my diary.

When I came home and worked for Solar Sports, my old college classmate Ralph Roy, who was VP for Operations for the cable network, asked Jude Turcuato who hired me, “Isn’t Rick a writer?” They needed a marketing manager. But I did have a marketing background as well. And later, while doing occasional work with on air creative’s, I wrote a number of plugs as well as several television specials (that I also got to produce and direct as well).

I could never understand that. No matter how hard I tried to stay away from writing, I was always doing it in one form or another. Even while working as a copy writer, my boss asked me to do extra work with the public relations department. So maybe they saw something that I was good at but never had the brains to embrace it.

Someone in twitter asked where do I get the energy and drive to do what I do with nary time off?

I have no idea. I guess it’s doing what you need to do, that’s all. When I decided not to go corporate, I knew I had to hustle just to earn and it has pretty much worked out. My mother used to say that there wasn’t any money to be made in writing. And I agree with her. However, if you write pretty good enough, then it does.

I’m just not crazy about working seven days a week. I feel the pressure of having to deliver. Not just deliver but make to ensure that it is well-written. The tough thing about that is I am a lousy editor. I sleep late and get up early. Take for instance being in Roxas City for the 16th University Games. At night when others were going out to Baybay and wherever, I was at the hotel writing. I guess I’m a slave to it. But I shouldn’t really complain because it has opened doors, paid the bills, and allowed me to experience things and meet folks most people would normally not get to meet.

Are those the perks? Certainly not.  

I’d say that getting the opportunity to teach is one. That’s one dream scratched off the bucket list and I don’t mind doing again. It’s seeing others influenced by the writing to do some of their own. It’s opening minds and hearts to sports, teams, and people. And if it helps the people I write about then it’s all good.

So now people consider me a writer (while some traditional media people derisively peg me as a blogger – ah, what the hell do they know anyways). And maybe I am. My dream now is to write for the New York Times, for National Geographic, to do reports on television, to write that X-Men comic book that I dreamt of as a kid, to cover the World Cup, and there’s more.

Now is it wrong to wish that I’d get rich along the way?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Where are you going?

At the rotonda in Panay trying to figure out where I am going -- back to the US, staying here, looking for work in Singapore, or heading back to Roxas City to watch the football competition. Seriously, I wish I had time to explore and go out. This was my first time to cover the University Games and I realized that you can only pick the sports you like and get some help in reporting about them. Now I know.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

At the Santa Monica Parish in Panay, Capiz

Am in Roxas City, Capiz for the 16th University Games. Since I arrived here last Monday, I have been pretty much taking shots at the poor facilities in the sports venues and the general lack of cleanliness of the city. Luckily for us, we went out of town yesterday, Wednesday, for some women's volleyball games. The trike ride was about 25-30 minutes long (PhP80-90 bucks) to Panay, the capital of Capiz. The moment the trike got out of the city I was so happy. All those paved roads, trees, rice paddies, and mountains sure does soothe one's soul. When I arrived at the Panay Civic Center, the first thing I noticed was the 16th Century church Santa Monica Parish. At the risk of the11-11pages serving as a travelogue for old churches, let me say that as a history buff, these churches tell a story. It has survived typhoons, Moro raids, and World War II, yet it still stands.  

I went up all the way to the belfry that's so high up that my legs hurt. Well, I am fat and overweight so this does not help my knees. Given the history tour, the bell was built using old coins and had to be hoisted up by several pulleys that took days to set up to its present position. The tours up the belfry are now guided as students have vandalized the church (what a-holes). Plus, it's got a great view of the surrounding areas. If it weren't for the bat dung, it would be a great place to do some thinking, prayer, and meditation. The Museum tour (just give a small donation) is also an awesome sight seeing all those ancient tabernacles and relics. Just loved this place!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My dog's all ready to go to the beach!

My doug, Lougee, wearing her Puerto Galera shirt. She's a Beach Dog! My dog is really one of my best friends. Even on days when the world is a bad place, she'll put a smile on my face. When I'm out of town or out of the country, I always make it a point to call home to check on her and make sure that she's fed and has her water bowl changed periodically. She sleeps in my room and she even has her own bed. Talk about being spoiled. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Those punk rock shops in Recto Avenue, Manila.

I love checking out the shops in Recto and Quiapo in Manila. It's something I have done since my school days finding bargains here and there. I also love checking those punk rock shops in Cartimar with all those shirts and second hand CDs (they've got a lot of bootleg and underground stuff as well). I didn't wear too many of these shirts back in the day. In fact, the one shirt I preferred to wear had British two-tone band The Specials in the front (the one with the dancing man in shades). I find it interesting to see how this subculture has not changed since its nascent days in the late 1970s. I guess once a punk, always a punk.

There are a lot of used and new CDs shops along Recto Avenue and Quaipo Boulevard. You'll find a lot of stuff that never even makes it to the regular music stores. Some are pilfered stocks from local music companies (it's got a "promotional use only" tag on it). There are also a lot of metal and alternative stuff as well. Make sure that when you buy, you don't just agree to the price. Haggle. Haggle. Haggle.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Yes' Fly from Here is good stuff but restrained by misses on the production side

Got Yes' 20th studio album FLY FROM HERE from Amazon the other day and I totally love it. You can hear the influence of Asia on the album which sounds rather funny since keyboardist Geoff Downes and guitarist Steve Howe play for both bands. I can totally listen to the album from beginning to end (perhaps save for "Fly from here Part V Bumpy Ride") but I think that producer Trevor Horn could have added a little more punch and power to the production. For example in Part 1 of "Fly from here" when new singer Benoit David (who does a swell job of replacing Jon Anderson) sings "lingering... lingering..." there's a magnificent opportunity for Howe's guitar to do more but instead it flickers in and out. The band sounds restrained but you can appreciate the solid musicianship. "Fly from Here" is a five-part song that clocks in just under 25 minutes  but you can listen to them separately and still enjoy them. "Into the Storm" was a perfect way to end the album. It's a good album. Not great because of what I feel are production misses. Nevertheless, I am just glad to see Yes back in harness.

I wonder what this album would have sounded like had someone like David Bottrill produce it.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

You think they've got five bucks frapuccinos?

Snapped this last Friday, August 26 at the ground floor of Saint Francis Square. Wonder if they have frapuccinos as well. But not a bad name, huh?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Going around Kuwait City

At least from what I know, whenever the men's football national team travels to another country, they usually visit the Philippine Embassy for a courtesy call. So it was not different in Kuwait. It also gave us a chance to see how our officials help our countrymen abroad and the programs they have in place. It was also great meeting other people. The gulf coast country by the way is really beautiful and fully modern (in spite of the darn heat). 

Aside from embassies, another staple of country life is checking out the local mall/s. In this case we went to The Avenues Mall and the Marina Mall in Kuwait City. This is the former and check out how spacious it is. They seem to have everything save for two stores -- a big and stocked book specialty store and a music/DVD shoppe. Those are the two shops I always look for when I go abroad. The funny thing is at Kuwait International Airport, they have a shop there that still sells cassette tapes! For real.

These Kuwaitis were asking me about Philippine football and they predicted a blowout. Of course I disagreed (little did I know...).

The Shake Shack. You can see how this is real popular along with ice cream retailers because of the heat. But Kuwait is so Western in appearance. Wanted to buy a shake but the lines were really long in the two shacks I went to.

Look who's endorsing KFC? And what does that slim can of soda say (if ya know).

Saturday, July 23, 2011

At the Movenpick Hotel in Kuwait City

Staying at the Movenpick Hotel in Bida'a, Salmiya District of Kuwait City. It's a five-star Swiss hotel (and there are two of the sort here in Kuwait). It's a gorgeous hotel with fantastic service. That's me posing outside and just below the sign. There's wifi everywhere in the hotel, dudes.

The back of the hotel that faces the beachfront of the Arabian Sea. I really wonder how people can hang outside in the heat. But I guess it works for some.

Me by the beach and walking about at 6am during my third day at the hotel. Love the sunrise!

There's an area for beach volleyball just outside the dining area. Somehow seeing the chair with "Lifeguard" stenciled on it reminds me of Baywatch. Was waiting for Pamela Sue Anderson to come running from the water in a bright red swimsuit. What I got were a bunch of them -- of the local kind but no less vivacious!

Thought that shooting pics this early in the day will give me some unusual light colors to play around with. I was just using a digital camera and the result wasn't so bad.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Kuala Lumpur trip July 2011

In Malaysia for the Liverpool Asia Tour 2011. Malaysia is full modern and a beautiful country. Just feels so good to be traveling again. Kinda miss it. And of course when you're here, how can you not go to the Petronas Towers?

From where I am staying in Jalan Imbi, I can spot the Petronas Towers. It's not actually a close walk. It's about at least 30 minutes of walking. I could take the monorail but not at this point. Walking's the order of the day.

Dinner during my first night here at KL with good friend Ariel Vanguardia was at Nasi Ayam Hainan Chef Meng. Chicken rice with veggies and siomai. After dinner, met up with other Pinoy Liverpool fans (Leo, Mika and Mich) and Coach Ariel and I accompanied them for street dining at Alor Street.

 Milk Tea after the Liverpool event at the Pavilion. We all went to the Petronas Towers  and Suria Mall afterwards.

What an incredible and humorous name for a store. This is at Suria KLCC mall. I just had to ham it up.

Petronas Towers at night and after a downpour with some thunder. Just like the Empire State Building in New York and the Hong Kong Symphony of Lights, it's just beautiful.

Friday, July 1, 2011

At Sofitel Manila

On duty as Media Officer for the Sri Lanka-Philippines World Cup Qualifying Match on July 3, 2011 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. It's a lot of work but it's fun. Except when you have media people who do things last minute. One of the perks is staying in a cool hotel -- the Sofitel Manila. And this one here is my room. And I got the whole place to myself! It's nice, spacious, and really comfortable. And it's got a huge television too. Only I don't watch too much of it myself. I spend a lot of my time writing.

I've got a nice view of the Manila Film Center from my room and balcony. I know it's a spooky place but is it still? Once took part of a film shoot with the MFC as the venue. It was a cameo role with a very short speaking part. Honestly, thinking about it makes me cringe. Hahaha!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Typhoon Falcon the day after (here in Industrial Valley, Marikina)

I took these pictures at 11am this Saturday morning. Look at all that stuff that caught on to the rails. In this picture, you can see how strong the current is. I spoke to one Navy frogman and he said the best way to swim in this kind of water is to go forward along with the flow while trying to go in the direction you want. To swim against the tide is futile.

There were a couple of television crews in the area -- ABC5 and ABS CBN. As of 3pm today they were still on site for any changes in the weather. As of 10pm last night the waters had overflowed into the nearby areas but not as alarming as it way during Typhoon Ondoy. But the roads were caked in mud.

One of the landmarks of Marikina Riverbanks are these statues of carabaos heading to the water. No need now. The water went to them. And you can see the trash all over them. Click to enlarge the pics.

Some of the nearby factories put up sandbags and stuff to try and keep the waters out. During Ondoy, the water was as high as the gate. The water was brown and black in some places. Pretty frightening.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Typhoon Falcon and its effects on the Marikina River

Since the rains began falling I've been rather uneasy. It brought back all the unpleasant memories of Typhoon Ondoy. When I got home today, I went to the Marikina River which is nearby to take a look at the water levels. As of 6pm, it has spilled over onto the road. If it goes up by two more feet according to local authorities, they'll sound the siren for evacuation of the low-lying residential areas. The frightening part is that it's almost nighttime and the rains have not let up.

Those cluster of buildings is at the Eastwood area. You can see that the higher floors are obscured by clouds. Kind of frightening. I thought I'd see military units or emergency services stationed in the area already. As of 6pm Friday night. Nada.

Because of the flooding, it has left vehicles not much road to pass through lest they be swept into the raging river. I stood next to the river and there's this frightening gurgling sound as it its sucking in everything in sight. 

In the Industrial Valley Barangay Hall, they've got this one raft to rescue people. I wonder how this can navigate the strong current without even an engine to propel it forward. It is considered critical level when the water reaches 17 feet. Right now it's at 15 feet.

The riverbanks have been lined with people watching out for more danger signs. I stayed beside the riverbanks myself and the water lapped at my feet. Got that eerie feeling. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I need you so much closer (and other songs)

I was chatting with good friend Pat Ozaeta today who saw my status on YM playing Death Cab for Cutie songs from Transatlanticism.  He asked if I was playing “Tiny Vessels” and on cue a few seconds later, the song came on (my iTunes is playing it in album order).

I only became a big fan of the band when that album, their fourth, came out. I recall it being heavily promoted in Virgin Records in Times Square where I worked at that time. One day, I played it while working the DJ booth and I along with a few others fell in love with the music. A few came up to ask what album was that and I showed them the cover. The scurried away to buy the disc.

One time I saw them play at Coney Island and since the album was brand new, most people had not memorized the lyrics. The place was packed with people yet I have never seen a crowd so quiet except between songs when we all applauded. It was like everyone was digesting the lyrics and soaking in Ben Gibbard’s voice. Now Coney Island is next to the Atlantic Ocean and the synchronicity was not lost on me. Never more so when they sang the song “Transatlanticism.” We were in like trance-like mode as the waves crashed on the Brooklyn shore.

When Gibbard sang the lines, “So c’moooonnn. C’mooonn.” We all joined in creating a powerful moment. It was like a communion with the band. And that hour watching, listening, and singing along to Death Cab for Cutie remains a powerful and memorable memory.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

St. Anne's Parish (Molo Church)

St. Anne's Parish or Molo Church in Molo, Iloilo. On my way to Barotac Nuevo a long time ago, I passed by the Church but was only able to visit in just today. The church was constructed in 1831 with a couple of painters commissioned to paint the murals inside. I understand too, that this is the only "gothic" church outside Manila (I'm thinking the San Sebastian church) aside from being a feminine one. The statues inside are all female saints -- St. Marta, St. Margaret, and St. Cecilia are just a few ones I noted.

According to the plaque outside, the church was partially damaged during World War II during the liberation of the Philippines. I asked one of the caretakers and he said it was one of the belfries that was hit hard because Japanese soldiers used it as a machine gun and sniper's nest. It was blown away by American bazookas.

Love the wooden doors. The stone outside that forms the facade is said to be corral stone (whatever that is). But when I first saw it I wondered if it was imported from elsewhere.

Above is one of those murals I spoke of earlier. It's really beautiful and I am no architect and I certainly wonder how they painted that up there. Amazing. Sometimes, I wish there was this virtual library that you can peek and watch events of the yesteryear. As much as I'd love to see  a lot of events from the Crusades, to WWII, Custer's Last Stand, Magellan's Death, and even the assassination of JFK, it's simple and little things like watching a church mural being finished.

My trip to the different churches here in Iloilo is a communion between me and my faith. It has been a difficult time for me and He just keeps me going. I feel blessed to cover a fantastic football event in the PFF Suzuki Under-23 National Cup and the sidetrips are all the more enriching.