Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hop On Hop Off at the Lion City

In front of the Hop On Hop Off tour bus outside Tower 4 of Suntec City. Actually, we didn't need the tour bus since I know my way around very well. My son absolutely loves Singapore. Honestly, as much as I love the Lion City, I have a soft spot for Hong Kong. But Anthony is convincing me to move to Singapore. He spent the whole day at Universal Studios (second time he's been there) and he never did seem to tire of it. As for me, I was doing some work and when I wasn't, we did go around. He's bugging me to go again during next school year's sembreak. But this time, he wants to go back to the zoo (including the night safari). 

At HMV in Singapore

My favorite shoppe

With Virgin Records and Tower Records gone, what else is left for traditionalists (if you can call someone who buys CDs over vinyl discs that) like me? There’s still HMV and Borders to a way lesser extent. In Hong Kong, you have Hong Kong Records but their selection is kind of wanting. So thank God for HMV. Long may she live.

In Singapore, they have two branches – at the fourth floor of 313 Somerset (take the North-South Line or the Red Line and get off at Somerset station) and Raffles Link (get off at the Esplanade station and walk a bit).

Between the two the one at Somerset offers more variety. Take my word for that. Excellent selections on music and movies. They have several racks for CDs from Pop-Rock to Dance to Classical to Jazz to Hip Hop/R&B. Now if you want to purchase magazines, it’s best to compare prices at HMV, Kinokuniya, Borders, Harris or other stands. The difference can be a dollar or two. It really depends where you are. But for an audiophile like me, this is nirvana. I check out the new releases and new artists always going to the listening stations to sample their music. I've found out many new bands this way.

My Singapore soundtrack:
Baroness – The Red Album
The Naked & Famous – Passive Me, Aggressive You
The Boxer Rebellion – The Cold Still
VersaEmerge – Fixed at Zero
Beady Eye – Different Gear, Still Speeding

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Cold Still by the Boxer Rebellion

I discovered the Boxer Rebellion with their song "Spitting Fire" and since then I've picked up all their albums. This international indie rock band (their members are from the Australia, England, and the USA) delivered on the promise through their three albums unlike similar bands like Razorlight or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Quite quickly they jumped up into my hallowed list of all-time favorites. And I'd say that it was a tremendous bonus that they were featured quite prominently in the film Going the Distance starring Drew Barrymore and Justin Long (for some reason I got the same kick that I felt when I saw Siouxsie and the Banshees in Out of Bounds starring Anthony Michael Hall). Their new album The Cold Still was released just this month of March and when I first played it, it seemed there was a little Radiohead influence to it. But am not complaining. I just love the new album. It might start out a little slow with "No Harm" but I urge you to give it a listen using your headphones to appreciate it. I think that's important because it sets the tone for the album before other songs like "Step Out of the Car" and "Cause for Alarm" have that vintage Boxer Rebellion sound. It's a keeper.

Union (the best of the lot)
The Cold Still 

And if you like the Boxer Rebellion, check out Canadian outfit Arcade Fire.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Merlion Hotel where you can check out anytime you want.

March 29, 2011. Forgive me for that rather cheesy stab at the classic song by the Eagles. Anyways, I am back in one of my favorite places -- Singapore. It's the Singapore Biennale -- an art fest and I heard what the Merlion Park has undergone a transformation! For the period of March 13-May 15, the icon of the Lion City is turned into a hotel where people may get a close up look at the famous statue. So there I am crossing from the Esplanade. No new shows I'm going to be watching yet (that's reserved for Eyes Set to Kill in Jakarta this June or July).

Ah, there's me poking fun with the miniature Merlion right in front of the hotel. Hmm. Begging for dole outs from the looks of it. Anyways, every 15 minutes, 20 people are let inside for a unique viewing experience. It seems quicker than waiting for the riverboat cruise that seems to be poorly managed nowadays.

The idea for transforming Merlion Park into the Merlion Hotel belongs to Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi who has been making out-of-place out-of-sclae experiences with public spaces throughout the world. He's done similar "exhibits" in England and Australia if I am not mistaken. 

Below is that ice cream sandwich that I always have. Yep, am a creature of habit. Sweet Corn Ice Cream wafer.  

That's me trying to hide behind the sculpture in front of the Paragon mall along Orchard Road. Am too fat to hide. Hahaha.

Okay, chicken rice or chicken biryani? Choices. The chicken rice costs SD $6.30 while the chicken biryani fetches SD $6.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

What did I do during Earth Hour?

What I did during Earth Hour... I walked my dog around the neighborhood. I watered the plants. My son and I talked about our upcoming trip to Singapore. And we reminded some of our neighbors that it was Earth Hour. Unfortunately, we only got smiles in return. Only four houses (ours included) switched off their lights. Two neighbors even had a full blown party going on. I don't know how many times I have to write about caring for our environment. Lately, it's all been bad stuff -- earthquakes, tsunamis, and wars. Going up against nature is a fight we cannot win. Hope that resonates with you.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sulit o mura ang bogchi sa Ateneo de Manila?

I divided my class into four groups and each one was supposed to put up their own blogs and produce their own newscasts. They also did photography and weekly papers. For this group "Kahit Anong Laman" which is the name of their blog, they chose a topic on the various eats spots in Ateneo. This is the group of Iza Fajardo, Frank Golla, Julius Lagman, Vince Velasco and Adrian Yujuico. Kept laughing all throughout. Had Frank doing an M. Night Shyamalan with cameos here and there. Here's their blog

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Watching the Stone Temple Pilots made me reminisce

Watching the Stone Temple Pilots made me reminisce
by rick olivares

Went to watch the Stone Temple Pilots at the Araneta Coliseum last night and it’s been a while since I went to watch a concert. That sounds kind of odd for those who know me as a bigger musichead than a sports enthusiast.

There was a time when I’d go watch a gig or concert at least twice a week. Moreso when I lived in New York.

I was really excited about going to STP even if I do like a few of their songs for the simple reason that I’m not big a fan of theirs. Nevertheless, I am still glad I went to watch.

For someone weaned on 80’s new wave and punk rock, I totally enjoyed the 90s alternative scene more. There were fewer one hit wonders that was the hallmark of the 80s.

Watching STP and seeing Scott Weiland gyrate on stage and sings many of the band’s hit songs brought back great memories of the yesteryears. I thought of the time that grunge was starting out and how an exciting time it was. The second wave of local bands was getting underway and it was a great time to be a fan.

Moving to the United States later got me an opportunity to see many bands who I only saw on MTV and later VH1. And some of them remain a great memory.

Here’s a list of some of the best shows I’ve seen in my life:
The Cure – Curiosa Tour at Randall’s Island in New York on July 31st 2004 (this was the time they released Bloodflowers and in one show they played songs from Pornography and Disintegration that are my favorite albums). In this tour, the other bands that played were Interpol and Mogwai.

Reel Big Fish – I became a fan of this band in 1997 and seeing them at the Irving Plaza in New York was a dream. This remains one of my all time fave shows as it was once dance-a-thon from start to finish. Everyone was drenched in sweat after the nearly two hour show.

Limp Bizkit – Madison Square Garden. This was at the height of their popularity and Significant Other just ruled the world. Yep, they did it all for the nookie and I couldn’t care less because for the first time in my life I joined the mosh pit.

My Favorite at Sin-E in the Bowery. One of my all time favorite bands who I still listen to a lot even after they broke up. The Sin-E is a small club but that rainy night in Manhattan, the club throbbed and swayed with so much energy. I will never forget the mohawked female bartender. She just looked really really beautiful.

Vans Warped Tour 2002 – 2004 I went to watch this series of tours primarily for one band – Rancid. I first saw them on the cover of Spin magazine at the time of the release of And Out Come the Wolves that prompted me to check them out. I purchased the album at the Silvercord Centre in Hong Kong in 1995 (it came out a few months before Oasis’ (What’s the story) Morning Glory and I got them at the same time. I was fortunate because I got to see the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Reel Big Fish, Tsunami Bomb, NOFX, the Used, and the Dropkick Murphys. I felt out of place at first coz I am not the sort to go to the mosh pit as I stayed in the back. But it was enjoyable. I wanted a picture of with Tim Armstrong and Lars Fredericksen but it was impossible to get close.

Death Cab for Cutie – Coney Island. I’d say there were like 4,000-plus people watching them on this sunny and breezy afternoon. It was such a narrow place to watch that some fans climbed a fence to get on top of a small guardhouse. One fan ripped his hand open in the wires but that didn’t stop him from watching. This was at the time of Transatlanticism which was fairly new. When Ben Gibbard began singing the melancholic lines of that songs it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. It was like everyone was witness to a masterpiece. When I think of Gibbard singing the lines “The distance is quite simply much too far for me to row it seems farther than ever before oh no. I need you so much closer…” It was like he knew what I was feeling. Then at the end of the song when he sang “I need you so much closer” again the whole crowd chimed in. the poignant moment was not lost even as the thousands of voices joined in. It was and remains an awesome awesome moment. I have frozen that moment in my mind.

The Pixies – Coachella. Where is my mind? I have to admit after not being able to see their faces on their album sleeves (courtesy of the artsy and weird 4AD sleeve designers), it was a let down to see this band way past their prime as they had put on weight and were balding. But the moment they launched into “Debaser” they were that band I played endlessly in those college days of mine.

The Misfits – Virgin Records Times Square 2003. I am not a fan of the band. Really. When we talk about punk rock, I like Rancid, Bad Religion, X, the Dead Kennedys, Fear, Ramones, and those from the LA scene. But this was a different line up then – Jerry Only, Lee Ving (of Fear), and Marky Ramone of the late lamented Ramones. Seeing Marky in the R train from the Forest Hills station was a shock. He was carrying the bass drum with “Ramones” in front. I it was a great performance (and they played “Sheena is a punk rocker”) and I got the band’s autographs on the Project 1950 album.

Broken Social Scene – New York and Singapore. I will not forget the ads for their New York show in the Village Voice and how it trumpeted the message that if I missed the show I will not forgive myself. So I did watch. This was around the time they released You Forgot it In People. I bought the album at the gate and never even heard the CD. When they played I thought of Yo La Tengo and Modest Mouse. But they were different. That is perhaps the best album I bought in 2002. Then eight years later, I see them in Singapore for the release of Forgiveness Rock Record and it was like a happy homecoming.

Dave Matthews Band – the Concert at Central Park. I worked halfday thinking I’d get a nice place at the Great Lawn. Wrong! It was packed with lots of people already. So I had to stay a lot farther out. I was one of the 120,000 plus people that night (and it was a bitch getting home in Queens that night). I think they played like 20 songs that September night and it was just really awesome. I later saw Devo, the Strokes, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs also at the Great Lawn later on but it did not compare to this.

Versus – I saw them at the Bowery Ballroom during the time they released Hurrah. It was such an explosive performance and this was right before their near decade-long hiatus. Perhaps for many of my favorite bands this was the sweetest because they are one of the reasons why I moved to New York (the other is Marvel Comics and the Yankees and Islanders)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Images from the Xterra Philippines

Three of my colleagues walk up the road with the old Spanish lighthouse in the background. It was a hot and grimy morning. But once we got close to the sea we could feel the breeze and taste the salt in the air. There's something about lighthouses and the mystery of the sea that draws me. That's saying a lot because I am frightened of the deep.

This triathlete came out of the gates a little late. He was far from finishing in the Top 10 but the objective for many is to finish. That's the true accomplishment. The runner sets out on a lonely run.

Staring at the sea. A race marshall watches the swimmers alert for any sign of trouble.

Senator Pia Cayetano emerges from the swim leg and removes her gear on the run. I thought that she was buoyed by the cheers from the crowd that yelled: "Let's go, Sen!"

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Is it work or a vacation? At Liloan, Cebu for the first Xterra Philippines

Arrived in Cebu for the first full Xterra Philippines. Xterra is an off-road version of the triathlon. When I first covered last year's Ironman 70.3 triathlon in Camsur, I became hooked with the sport. I've been contemplating taking up biking again and hopefully by this summer I can begin again. Took Cebu Pacific inbound and thankfully I was the only one in my row so I stretched my legs across the seats. Wore the Grindavik jersey of the Azkals' Ray Jonsson. It's his club in Iceland. Worked well inside the plane and inside our cold resort room. 

Am staying at the Crimson Resport & Spa in Mactan, Cebu. It's a lovely place to stay not just because of the facilities but also because of the atmosphere which is very homey and comfortable. You're pampered here. But wait 'til you see the prices. The scenery is gorgeous. I guess this is nice living.

That's the old Spanish lighthouse in Liloan that was built way back in 1857. I really wanted to go up and take pictures around. Wish I had the equipment and the flexibility. Covering the event, I was doing a lot of note taking (and writing) as well as some photography. Such a beautiful place to shoot. Oh, by the way, the lighthouse is still in use.

Having my pic taken by the Amara pier docks. Windy day and the breeze helped beat the stifling heat. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Staring at the (Camotes) Sea

I used to love the beach. That is until my own personal encounter with a shark. You know the one with those huge jaws with jagged teeth? One time I was with some of my cousins swimming in the far deep of Calatagan, Batangas when a shark decided to bust our reverie. No one got bitten but we all got out of the water and onto the boat. We watched it circle around for a while before it decided that it wasn't going to get its hamburger meal for the day. But that freaked me out. Since then I never went back into the water. I know of course, how to swim but you'll never ever get me to go back into the deep.

So while here at Crimson Resort & Spa in Mactan, if I wasn't in the swimming pool (yes, I can swim there since I can see the floor and know that there aren't any sharks) I was walking along the docks and the pontoon bridge. The water is about ten feet deep when it's around 4:00 in the afternoon. By evening when it's high tide, it goes up another six to ten feet. Walking along the pontoon bridge made me feel a little uneasy but I didn't mind it. I do things like that once in a while to fight my fear of the water. And... I'd like to thank Olsen Racela for my San Miguel Beer jersey (#17)!

In the picture below, that's me and three of my co-workers (Pepsico and GroupM).