Tuesday, November 10, 2009


The problem with baldness is men always think they are too young for it.

Most people have the perception that men do not care how they look. That we can go to work with scraggly hair, stubborn stubbles and minute pieces of last night's dinner plastered to our face akin to a murder victim's cadaver displayed until the police's body trace.

Well, mostly we don't.

The masculine gene in us allow us to nonchalantly display a basketball-size gout as pure animal sexiness. Or the more couragious of us would even defy good hygiene and go to office without taking a bath for days. Just because.

A lion can not be tamed.

And yet mention a slight hint of bald patch, we go on panic mode. Our miserable life would pass right before our very eyes.

The very gene that allows us to let go of any amount of shame because as men we feel we can get away with anything is the very gene that causes us to wince at the mere mention of an expanding forehead.

Thus the very desperate attempt to hide it.

There is the carpet look where some of us would grow hair longer on one side and sweep it to the other side to cover a shiny middle. Put ample amount of gel to cement the architectural masterpiece. Nice idea, but fuck the superior being who invented wind.

Then there is the more common wig. The funny thing about wigs is that the men who wear them does not seem to have an idea about historical continuity--or deny it. How then can you slap a thick patch of straight hair on your noggin when you have been curly all your life? What do you want the rest of us say about this?

Uhm, there is a horse tail on top of your head, where's the rest of its body?

Ah, creative things we do to hide a shiny spot. If we can only grow grass on top, the only question coming out of our mouth would then be: How many times a day?

The problem with baldness is we always associate it with growing old or worse growing less appealing. Having it would mean we are on the decline side of the success curve.

Lately though there had been gradual change of perception. If there is one thing I am grateful for, I am glad the hair waited long enough to witness great celebrities strutting their bald plate before wilting.

I am glad that Michael Jordan came before me. He was at his athletic best when he sported the bare dome look. This Bruce Willis dude also grew sexier as the hair go thinner. Even the wig model of his generation Sean Connery who sported a patch while playing James Bond has embraced his true self.

Imagine if I would have lived in the time of the great Bembol Roco?

So as I slowly face my inevitable shiny destiny I am forced to make an important decision and so I have: No mirrors around the house!
Shine on shine just does not make it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Labsong Writer

There are great questions out there that are better left hanging much like the chicken and the egg debate. Like who tops Kris Aquino as the most irritating TV personality? Or to a person who is at the proverbial crossroads of his sexual path, to be or not to be? Or better yet to a struggling singer trying to impress the bitchy judge who himself is a poor imitation of Simon Cowell, to birit or not to birit?

But some questions, we can answer more easily. In fact, to some more passionately.

In this regard, the question I drown myself into more frequently is who is today's best Filipino songwriter?

First there is Ely Buendia who was the main songwriter of arguably the most influential band that ever came out of Filipino radio. He spawned the seminal hits Alapaap, Ang Huling El Bimbo and Magasin. He is the master of narrative songwriting, wrapping you with the stories of friendship, love and yes, of that lady who looked like Paraluman. Sadly, the band caved in under its own grand ambition. But he is still pushing the envelope with his new band Pupil.

Second, there is Rico Blanco who was the main songwriter of the consistently critically acclaimed rivermaya. The band in itself evolved with a few members gone and replaced but Blanco was clearly the sole driving force of the band. He concocted the hits Himala, You'll be safe here and Kisapmata. He has since left the band to pursue his own music. Now a solo artist, he is still able to feel the pulse of the masses with hits like Your Universe and Antukin, 2009's NU Song of the Year.

Last is the guy who used to be the face of rivermaya. Bamboo was never known as a songwriter in his Maya days but with his own band, ehem, Bamboo, he surprised most of us with his anthemic Noypi and Hallelujah. Scourging through their albums though, one could sense that the band is equally comfortable with soft jazz/reggae numbers. Plus, his looks mesmerized a thousand of collegialas thus helping push the band's albums to record sales. Personally, I feel there is much more to be desired in his songwriting. But that is a matter of personal opinion that is disagreed to by the number of fans who are passionate about the band's music.

Pinoy rock today has never been parched with talented composers. Among the most notable are Ebe Dancel of Sugarfree, Gabe Alipe of urbandub and Barbie Almalbis. Of course there is the oft-overlooked but absolutely sublime Cynthia Alexander. Each has his or her own strength from which to draw from, creating tales about love and life delivered in the blistering sound of the almighty amplified guitar. (Or in the wistful strums of the acoustic guitar.) Altogether wrapping us in bittersweet ecstacy. Ah, such is the story of the eternal romantic Juan.

Altogether, Pinoy rock has never been in a better place. A slew of new bands and artists crop up on TV and radio every now and then hoping to catch the ever fleeting attention of Juan. Thus these same artists try to top each other with better materials much like Bob Dylan did to the Beatles and the Beatles to Bob Dyland and the Beach Boys.

The uphill fight against piracy notwithstanding, Juan comes out the ultimate winner as he becomes richly immersed in different takes and perspective on the greatest subject of all: Kris Aquino este, love.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Heavy Metal Heart

Two people meet. Bonded by a common passion. Defies the odds and went boldly for it. For better or for worse.

In true rock and roll fashion the band Anvil went for their dream of rocking a million faces, but unfortunately for them, destiny looked the opposite way.

The band went touring with Metallica, Anthrax, Bon Jovi and the likes in the '80s. Considered as one of the pioneers of glam metal, the band unfortunately went south after that. With 15 minutes of fame expired, the band dragged on to its last two original members and childhood friends, Lips and Robb now in their 50s.

The documentary "Anvil," narrates a surprising story full of heart and tender moments despite the protagonists' love of the devil's music. It tells about going broke for a dream, false promises, great expectations, broken hearts, and ultimately, redemption.

During the course of the story, you will be charmed by the eternal optimism of the band's lead singer, Lips and the steady presence of his best friend-drummer, Robb. It shows the other story of the entertainment industry. For every Metallica, there will be a thousand Anvils.

As their story progresses, you become wrapped up in their quest for redemption because you know inside there is a little Anvil inside each of us. We all hope for a dream come true. Because in this story, even devil worshippers need a little redemption.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Technology has changed the past few years that one could not imagine even ten years back the gadgets we have now could even exist. And in turn our lives have been changed drastically.

Cellphones with cameras/videos. I-pods. Laptops. Bluetooth. To name a few. And of course, the 20th century version of the wheel, the internet. The greatest single invention recent history has produced.

Because of it, globalization, where as before was an abstract concept of the world coming together through commerce and communication, has become a virtual yet tangible reality.

I could go praising on and on about this invention but I should just stick close to what matters more to me. Music.

When I was "younger" listening and "getting close" to the bands I love would mean going to music stores and go "sonic shopping." A more complete experience to window shopping. I would be there for hours listening to the music blasted from the speakers and at the same time browsing through (no, make it "breathing information" as if hanging on to dear life) the album in-lays. For me, everytime I do that the time just stops. Even until now, I couldn't resist the lure of the record shop. I will find myself staying there for hours. Friends and wife be damned.

At that time, you only submit yourself to what is available. Of course you can not really expect a small record shop in a small city to have everything. From the latest to the back catalogues and most especially from bands even the local DJs are not aware of.

But now, because of internet, my laptop has become my virtual record store. And I am constantly in nirvana. Fuck, even my wife thinks I should sleep with my laptop.

Even in my laziest days I can not stop romancing my laptop. How can you when you can now download songs from records that you have only dream of having when you were just a skinny little kid who does not even know what a bank account is for when money just barely grazes through your hand-me-down wallet?

Just like that, through a few fiddles in the keyboard, songs pop out. And it is for free! Wohooo!

Right now I am into "If I were a carpenter," a tribute album to (tada!) The Carpenters by bands and artists who were as unknown then as they are now. But it is such a visceral and orgasmic experience hearing the all-too familiar and depressing (almost suicidal) sound of the tragic duo through the unique voices of these bands. Try it but please don't kill yourself.

Without the internet, these songs would have been just peripheral experience. Just a faint soundtrack to the younger years. Of course there are moral and criminal issues to downloading songs to profit from it. But I am not. And many are complaining about information overload in the age of internet. But I am a news buff myself. So who's complaining?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Love Letter

You were swimming in and out of my mind. I have not realized that it has been close to a year since I saw you. We moved on with our lives yes, but I never really forgot you.

You are now a blurry afterthought but you keep creeping in like a one-night stand hoping for a wedding ring.

Ah, Singapore.

Your greenery is what attracted me the most, like a pair of china eyes. The quiet buzz of your city epitomizes the quiet harmony that your multicultural society nestles. No traffic and more importantly, no loudmouths whose ego seem directly proportional to the size of their cars--and indirectly proportional to the size of their grey matter. We got plenty of that here in Dubai.

You move about with grace and dignity. Your clean streets and corners are akin to a woman who is immaculately perfumed. To resist you is futile.

Your jewels--ah, yes your jewels. Sentosa island must be the diamond necklace. Quite lavish. No wonder all flock to see it. But for me it is the naughty Lorong that seduces. It shows your other side. You know perfect beauty is nice to view from afar but it is the little imperfections that are confidently carried is what attracts me more. It is the personality, dear not the image.

For now I must bid adieu. The city that I am married to is calling. In the event that one year must pass again before I find time to write you, I deeply apologize. It is me not you. But be content with the fact that in these fast times, for one fleeting moment I did find time to write you. I do remember you. Like one gentle yet fleeting affair.

Head Turner

(written the night before the Heads' historic reunion in August 2008)

Now it can be told. The Eraserheads are re-uniting!

Forget the most influential band in Philippine history. They are the most influential in my life.

Some say that you can measure a band's influence when you can remember where you were when you first heard their signature songs. It would be an understatement to say that this band's songs punctuated my teenage years.
When I first heard "Alapaap," I was in my friend's room as we attempted to do our own recording of our own songs. Needless to say I was blown away. No band before them attempted such ambitious song in every way-- is it about freedom or drugs?

Their albums were a staple Christmas gift by all my friends as the band released an album every December. Millions of memories intertwine with every song and every album. Girls. Heartbreak. Jamming. School escapades. Snippets of daily life.

And through the years, the band also went through their struggles being together. Success went to their heads (pardon the pun) and each one believed they can do better, bigger outside the band.

They were dead wrong.

None of the members' other bands and their incarnations come close to touching the speckles of dirt the Eraserheads stood on. The Eraserheads were shit playing live, yes. But as songwriters they were peerless. The songs they concocted simply tugged the strings of the Filipino everyman. They were storytellers par excellence.

This event was deemed impossible due to the fallout of the members of the band. When you get to be as big as Jesus (to borrow from John Lennon as he described his Beatles), egos are bound to clash. At a whopping P2 Mil each to play for one night, apparently money is a great ego massager. Fuck, if I had 50 gazillion dollars, I'd pay them to play in the most important events in my life. From birthday to wedding anniversary to my wake and burial.

So yeah, the guys suck it up to play one night. And images start sliding down memory lane for the few who remember.

And yeah, I remember.
This is after all the band who defined my teenage thru tweenage years. The band who inspired me to take a stab at poetry. Songwriting. Strum a guitar. Wear a converse all-star. Strut jeans until it fades--the older looking the better. Sport a moptop. Re-discover the Beatles. Wax philosophical about lines like "field trip sa may pagawaan ng lapis, mabagal at walang kahulugan." Attempted code-breaking (try reading through Bogchi Hokbu and you'll know what I mean).

So for one fleeting night, these guys will be back in one building, playing the soundtrack of my life. And I will be here watching--light years away.

Monday, June 22, 2009


why the name?

nothing much really except for the reason that i want this blog to be about music. not just any music, but music that matters. music that matters to me, at least. so why submarine, retorts the smug YOU while arching the brow in an impossibly incalculable angle.

well, most of the music i like are not out there. most of them are not FM-playable. not because it is pornographic or something. simply to put, it is not popular. or pop.

i would not categorize my type of music as subversive, either. nor preachy. the only revolution i believe in is in oneself. so there.

this would encapsulate what other things i may put in here like movie and record reviews, random musings and the like. i would be selfish in my attempt to capture snippets of everyday life.

my music is mine. it may be not of everybody's taste. i don't exist to please anyway. it may be out of most people's horizon. thus hidden.

thus submarine.