Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Towing the Rhumb Line: my being a fan of Ra Ra Riot

As a serious music enthusiast, I oft go out and buy and watch indie bands. There are a lot of really good indie outifts there but it’s also a hit and miss proposition. Some albums I buy end up in the garbage bin or used CD shops elsewhere.

With Ra Ra Riot, I struck gold. I picked out their debut album The Rhumb Line on a whim and instantly fell in love with their music.

Interesting bit about New York’s Ra Ra Riot, they are now signed to Barsuk Records which became famous because of Death Cab for Cutie. The two bands share the gift of melody but that’s where the similarity ends. What adds to the lush sound is the string section of Rebecca Zeller (violin) and Alexandra Lawn (cello). They are far more than a hip addition. The strings can be every bit intense as guitar solo. Think Boyd Tinsley on what he does for the Dave Matthews Band. 

Behind the music, there’s a hidden pain and intensity after losing drummer and vocalist John Pike who mysteriously drowned after a show in Rhode Islands. The song “Dying is fine” a staple of their live shows became all the more poignant after Pike’s death. In the band’s second album, The Orchard, the band still pays tribute to their former bandmate with the song “Massachusetts” where Pike hailed from.

If you like the music of Broken Social Scene and Death Cab for Cutie then you’ll love Syracuse's Ra Ra Riot.


I prefer to buy CDs to this day to add to my huge collection of over 3,000 discs. I don't purchase fake or pirated CDs. I don't download illegally. I support the music industry not music pirates who are lazy thieving bums.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sunrise in Dumaguete

I once saw a feature on Dumaguete on Living Asia and I remember telling myself, "Cool! I gotta go there sometime." I remember watching the joggers along the promenade and the awesome sunrise and sunset and I resolved to experience it for myself. When I did arrive, some of the locals were telling me how couples would propose and breakup along the boulevard. And if I wanted to take pictures, I had to go there during sunrise and sunset. I did go there quite a few times. I spoke to an American who made Dumaguete his home and to a girl who sat there painting. Those are stories that I will tell another day. So I did stare out to the sea and snapped some pics myself. Here they are.

An acquaintance of mine once moved to Boracay to live and work there. He grew his hair long and sort of lived a Bohemian life. And one time, I visited him there. While talking outside the restaurant where he worked, I asked him what made him decide to stay there. He paused for a brief moment and said, "It's stress free, man. If I need a break, I just step outside and look at the girls and the sea. You've got the sunrise and the sunset... I say these are the perks."

Dumaguete obviously isn't Boracay but they have so many things in common. And these pics and what they represent are just one of the perks.

Eat outs during my stay in Dumaguete.

When I first mentioned that I was headed for Dumaguete, you won't believe the number of emails and tweets I got about suggestions on where to go and eat. Cool isn't it? Since I was here for work not sightseeing it was a little harder to really go out. I did try my best and eschewed the darned fastfood joints (I'd barf and die if I ate in them again). I ate at Sans Rival, Atong Kamalig, Don Atilano, Ka Waway, Gabby's Bistro, and Hayahay. Not much but it's a good thing there are other places to look forward to in my next trip!

At Ka Waway with the PFF Suzuki U23 National Cup guys after a long day. I smelled of the sun and after eating here, smelled of smoke! Taking a shower and a scrub was never so good and welcome.

At Gabby's Bistro with Ina and Johnna. Gabby's is like Chili's or Friday's. We had some pasta and ice cream. Yes, I know the Bistro part sounds weird. In the pic below, I'm at Sans Rival. I love their sylvannas. It's just right -- not too creamy and not too rich!

The picture below was taken at Don Atilano. Am with Coach Diding Cabalida, Roroy PiƱero, and Red Avelino (with some dude I don't know). I preferred the crepes to over the main meals. I thought we'd be having steaks and all but nooooooooo!!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Promenade @ Rizal Ave in Dumaguete City

The promenade along Rizal Avenue in Dumaguete City is a really nice place to kick back and relax. Unless you don't like the taste of the salty air. I don't really mind and this is an excellent place to unwind. The thoroughfare is lined with restaurants and watering holes. Coach Butod tells me that they've nicknamed this the "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" because many a couples break up if not formalize their relationship here.  Friday and Saturday nights are really swinging over here so we should see Friday night.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Dumaguete First-Timer Part 2

We had brunch at Sans Rival, the local cake shop that was first put up by the mother of the current Dumaguete City mayor. She passed away some seven years ago, but her children continue to operate the shop (there's also one in the Robinson's Dumaguete Mall). Our first meeting here in Dumaguete was at the Robinson's branch of Sans Rival and on Day 2, here we are having brunch once more only in the main shoppe. By the time we left around 1030am, the place was packed with people. I wonder what lunch is like here.

The choices for me were narrowed down to two -- a simple salad or three pieces of sylvannas (my favorite). The extreme sugar rush won out. The sylvannas aren't bad. Not as rich as what they sell in Red Ribbon so I prefer this more. When I was younger, my aunt would buy us a box of sylvannas in Dau before they'd head over to Manila. As I recall it, it once cost Php25 that was an expensive price back then. Now a single piece at Red Ribbon is about 20 bucks! 

The Dumaguete First-timer Part 1

When I was asked to be the media officer for the PFF Suzuki U-23 National Cup, I was excited. For one, it's good to be in that capacity where you have great access to teams and athletes that makes it easier  to write about the sport. That means, I don't have worry about other media people not living up to their promises about sending me material when I couldn't go. If that's a dig against the others then so be it. That's their problem. The second reason why I was excited about it was the opportunity to travel. It's only in recent years that I began to see the Philippines at great length. And considering that I have never been to Dumaguete that was all the more enticing. The only thing I knew about the city in Negros Oriental was Silliman University, the University Games being held there, and the belfry. I have always talked and written about my love for history. I just love reading about it and seeing all those historical sites and landmarks. And there's also something about going to old churches. Dumaguete has that in St. Catherine's Church. Before I leave for Manila, I will attend Mass here for sure.

This is a trike that we sometimes take to around the city. I kinda like it since it's spacious and it no problem squeezing my big old self inside. Just don't let the drivers fool you. They can spot a tourist a mile away and jack up the fare.  So it's always safe to ask people you know for the proper fare and directions. I made a mistake and got charged P48 bucks from Robinson's to Maria Luisa Inn. According to some locals, we got robbed.

The reason for my trip here is football and next to Iloilo, this sure is a great place for it. This photo was taken at the Mariano Perdices Field at the Negros Sports Complex. Everyday, some 400-500 kids gather here to play the beautiful game. According to Negros Oriental Football Association President Dick Emperado, there is no shortage of players here. The glaring need is for coaches. At least that's a good problem, right?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Pick up lines, Liam Gallagher, and goodbyes

Pick up lines, Liam Gallagher, and goodbyes
by rick olivares

There’s this dude in Times Square in New York who walks about with sign that says “1001 pick up lines for a dollar”.

One time, I was watching this Brazilian model have a street artist do a sketch of her when the dude said to the girl, “Girl, you’re so beautiful you must be a tourist attraction here in New York.” The girl flicked her hair back and laughed.

“That’s a good one,” she said handing over five bucks.

“Oh oh!” squealed the dude in delight. “I got four more good ones for you and if you like it, we can have dinner at Tavern on the Green.”

He was smooth. Real smooth. I for one have never been like that.

During soirees back in high school, while a few of the “chick boys” stayed with the girls, I on the other hand, joined a few others in watching the food table lest the food go away.

Now that I am older, I’m not as shy as I used to be but it still isn’t easy for me. What I do know is that I use my iPod as an icebreaker. Think about it: “What’s on your iPod?” What a great pick up line  idea, huh?

And I never thought that I’d thank Liam Gallagher for helping me meet a girl. This isn’t a love story. It hardly qualifies as one, you know. It’s boy meets girl. And boy says goodbye to girl. That’s all.

You see I was killing time at Starbucks in Wheelock Place along Orchard Road before meeting up with some Singaporean friends at Kinokuniya in Ngee An City. I thought I might as well check my email and do a little writing. I got two and a half hours to kill after all.

I had a comfy couch to myself where I was sipping some tea (I had stopped drinking coffee) and I slipped in the CD of Gallagher’s new band Beady Eye that rose from the ashes of Oasis. I had my headphones on and was minding my business when she sat down on the chair opposite me (it’s a big couch with plenty of room). She had this paperback novel she had with her but that’s all I noticed because I was transfixed by her… beauty.

“God Almighty!” I whispered to myself. She resembled French actress Sophie Marceau. Only she was prettier.

She smiled. I smiled. Then I said nothing and went back to work. At least I tried to. She said something yet amidst the noise of old time rock ‘n’ roll and Gallagher’s Lennonesque wail, I heard her voice.

“I beg your pardon,” I asked.

She smiled through perfect teeth and her eyes glittering in the electric sun. “Is the album a good one?”

“It’s the first time I’m listening to it,” I replied. It was the truth. I bought the disc about an hour ago at HMV. “But it does sound different from Oasis. It is a pleasant surprise though. I think it’s good that they don’t sound like Oasis, if you know what I mean. My favorite is Noel Gallagher and I guess Liam found his voice.”

“Oh, I must be talking too much.” Now I was thinking out aloud.

“That’s okay.” She giggled.

Then I kept my mouth shut and put back my headphones. She in the meantime picked up her book and began reading.

A few minutes later our eyes met again. She smiled and said something.

“I’m sorry for bothering you,” she apologized.

“No problem,” I said trying to remain cool. It’s not everyday that a pretty white girl talks to you.

Chrysta was her name. She’s from Amsterdam and was going around Southeast Asia with her boyfriend (my heart sank). Singapore was their first stop and from there they were going to Indonesia then Malaysia. Hong Kong was their final destination before heading back to Holland.

She wore a gray short-sleeved blouse with Guns ‘n Roses in front, khaki shorts and slippers. Chrysta wore shoulder-length brown hair that scattered lazily in front of her beautiful brown eyes. She giggled again. Maybe she knew I was – what’s the term – profiling her.

We chatted. About Liam Gallagher, Oasis, and Beady Eye. She shared a headphone with me and we listened to “The Roller” one of the better tracks on the album. She closed her eyes and let the music take her. I couldn’t hear the music anymore. I was transfixed with her.

End of song. So we chatted more about traveling in Asia, what to do in Singapore and the probability of going to the Philippines. And the book by Meg Cabot that she was reading.

A while ago, I was praying time would move faster. Apparently, 6:30pm couldn’t come quickly enough. Now, I was hoping that I had more time. Jeez Louise, we had been talking for over an hour now. And I was hoping her boyfriend would never come. He was in Borders which was next door looking for books and stuff.

A few minutes later, the guy arrived. He sat down in the chair next to me and opened his laptop. Chrysta and the guy began speaking in Dutch and my heart sank even further. She then nodded towards the Beady Eye disc and the guy (I don’t remember his name nor do I care to). “So how’s the album? Are you liking it now?” she asked.

“Well, it’s better than I expected,” I said. And well, it was the truth.
Chrysta didn’t talk much now that her BF was back. I guess he didn’t feel comfortable about it and I surmised that he was telling her to transfer to another table as he nodded towards the back.

I quickly began packing my stuff. “It’s okay.” (No, it wasn’t.)

“You can stay here. I have to go.” (I wish he left and I didn’t have to go.)

“Oh, do you have to?” her smile was gone.

“Yeah, I have to meet up with some friends. I don’t want to be late.”

She pouted and her BF was aghast.

“So pick up Beady Eye,” I said by way of parting. “Don’t download it. I think we owe it to the artist to buy the disc. Besides it’s a pretty good album.”

I gathered up the rest of my gear and collected the tea tumbler to throw into the trash bin.

On my way out, I glanced at Chrysta. She smiled. Not the dazzling one she flashed when we first met. I smiled back then went out into the Singapore night.

I played Oasis’ “Roll With It” on my iPod.

“You gotta roll with it, you gotta take your time, you gotta say what you say and don’t let anybody get in your way…”