Call Me Maybe

If over 41 million YouTube views, dozens of covers, several parodies and numerous lip-syncing are not enough to convince you that “Call Me Maybe”  video is now a hit sensation, then I don’t know what proof would do.

And this is crazy
Topping the radio charts is this song by Carly Rae Jepsen who is actually a singer from Vancouver, Canada. Thanks to social media, this pop song became a teen anthem with versions from known Hollywood celebrities, athletes, schoolgirls and YouTube sensations.

But here’s my number
 
Aside from the easy-to-follow beat mixed with pleasant synthesizers, the lines of the song are plain and socially relevant. It shows how easy it is for everyone today to give away a phone number. A simple ‘call’ can make a difference. (Now, there’s another hit song entitled “Pay Phone” right? Another is entitled “Telephone”)

Call Me Maybe
I would’ve persuaded my colleagues to shoot a video but pretty soon, another song would kick this out of the charts. By that time, call me maybe?

Click here: It’s More Fun In The Philippines version of Call Me Maybe
 

Broadway Ala-Telenovela

A timeless love story is finally told in Manila through Atlantis Productions’ local version of the Broadway musical Aida. The Egyptian-inspired play with music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice certainly pleased the Filipino’s craving for a good love story – the telenovela-type – where a hunky influential war captain engaged with the Pharaoh’s beautiful daughter accidentally falls in love with a slave girl, who turned out to be a princess herself. And the love triangle continued to get more complicated as the whole ensemble got involved.

Manila’s own version was quite exciting because of the fresh cast. Aside from Atlantis favorite Rachel Alejandro (as Amneris) and her singer-dad Hajji (as Zoser), the lead role was given to Sabado Boys’ beatbox king Myke Salomon (as Radames). Also, this was a good ‘welcome back’ for London-based theatre actress Ima Castro (as Aida). The cast was truly pleasing to hear, with lines clearly spoken and songs flawlessly sang. For the role of Mereb, TV actor Josh Santana pulled it off although his spoken English accent has a local (Pinoy) touch compared to the rest. In some acts, one can never miss the traces of Filipino humor that made the audience giggle several times during the play. Rachel, through her excellent delivery of lines, gave pizzazz to this dramatic love story. Her antics prevented the audience from crying over very emotional scenes.

Production design was creatively executed despite the small stage area of RCBC’s Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium. Here are some crazy observations courtesy of my imagination: (1) the sick Pharaoh appeared to be Professor X roaming around seated on wheelchair-type wooden throne pushed by servants; (2) Amneris’ wedding dress was quite modern, and when the veil was donned, it looked like a cake; and (3) good work on emphasizing the “Eye of Horus” symbol which was consistent throughout the 2 ½-hour play.

As Aida entered its final week, its success can be justified by the room full of theatre-goers amid the rainy weather.  It’s quite addictive that the songs “Every Story Is A Love Story” and “Not Me” still lingers in my mind. I’ll give 9 out of 10 stars for this third Atlantis production I watched. And there’s no other way to cap a Saturday RCBC matinee except to pig-out with a buddy in Ayala Triangle. Thumbs up for Bonchon and Banapple!

Photos credits:
Twitpic @AidaofManila

There’s a place for West Side in Manila

Manila’s version of West Side Story was fantastic. I witnessed the final show of this production at the Meralco Theater last October 13 and I felt lucky because West End’s Joanna Ampil was the one playing Maria for the night. This production by Stages made “my date with mom” a remarkable experience.

Awesome Audie
I believe Audie Gemora has a reason why he revived West Side Story, and whatever his reason was, I’m sure it was good. And the result was astonishing. Last year, Gemora pulled off a version of High School Musical on stage and it was impressive. This time, he and Mechu Lauchengco-Yulo, were able to restore the glory of a 50-year-old Broadway musical. The whole production ended up looking very well-planned.

Not so bad at all
Christian Bautista may not be the perfect Tony but at least, he was able to sustain his voice quality until the end of the run. Bautista’s inability to dance was not a problem because his voice became his edge. As a pop singer, Bautista deserves a round of applause. On stage, Bautista is not that good but he blended well. I love the part when he sang “Maria” and everyone was in awe (including the foreigners beside me) when Bautista was able to sustain the last note for several seconds.

Joanna Ampil, on the other hand, deserves a bouquet of flowers and a standing ovation. She is now one of the reasons why I am proud to be a Filipino. Her powerful voice was stunning. Her role as a Puerto Rican was very convincing, plus, she never slipped a change in her accent throughout the presentation. Bravo!

The moves of the dancers were very graceful and the choreography was simple but clean, thanks to James Laforteza. For the supporting characters, Gian Carlo Magdangal (Riff) stood out among the rest.

Good mix
The voice qualities of some characters were not that far from what is expected of a singer. Felix Rivera may not be able to transfer his “Avenue Q” know-how to all the characters but he was notably a good vocal coach. The music (with Gerard Salonga as Musical Director) was comparable to the original production.

Overall, I give a score of 7 ½ out of 10 for this local musical. Truly, there’s a place for West Side Story in Manila! Here’s a very memorable line from the song “Somewhere” – “There’s a place for us, a time and place for us. Hold my hand and we’re halfway there; hold my hand and I’ll take you there… somehow, someday, somewhere.”

Someone to be proud of

Seven of us in the office today huddled on one computer monitor to watch the YouTube video of Charice Pempengco. Like Madonna Decena and Charlie Green (Filipinos who were featured in Britain’s Got Talent), Pempengco is the newest international sensation after she was featured in Ellen, The Paul O’Grady Show and Oprah. One very good thing is that she is a Filipino and she is someone I am very proud of.

When Pempengco was first featured in the local news, I wasn’t really amazed by her talent. It is a fact that almost every Filipino can sing nicely. If you would go to videoke bars in the metro, you’ll see dozens of superstar wannabees who actually have good singing qualities. In one outing I have attended, a whole night wasn’t enough to accommodate all of us who wants a hand on the karaoke microphone. As a previous member of a college choir and presently a church singer, I can attest to the reality that there are a lot of promising singers here in the Philippines waiting for a big break just like those who are now in the limelight.

I do not know if my memory serves me right but I remember one singer (is it lea Salonga?) commenting that children should sing according to their age. Pempengco is singing ‘diva’ songs at an early age and this is, obviously, not fit for her although she can reach the high notes with such power and maturity. Well, I am not aware if this may affect her voice when she grows up but Pempengco really has the guts and talent combined and mixed with luck, she is really one source of pride for Filipinos around the globe.

Another person I am proud of is Ara Muna, a fellow Kapampangan who penetrated the national market. I found it weird, funny, but at the same time I was pleased that a Kapampangan song was in the airwaves when I was in Pangasinan as well as my latest visit in Manila. Good work!

Loving American Idol

Now down to six, American Idol finalists never really caught my attention – not until today when they sung my favorite songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals. Seventeen-year-old David Archuleta remains my top bet after I heard him sing ‘Think of Me’ from the Phantom of the Opera. David Cook’s voice went well with ‘Music of the Night’ also from the Phantom. Carly Simon’s ‘Jesus Christ Super Star’ sounded usual at first although it can be recalled that these lines were originally sung by a male character (Judas) so it sounded really unique afterwards.

Among the six finalists, I was surprised Brooke White never learned her lesson. She was so tense and repeated the first lines of the song ‘You Must Love Me’ from Evita. She reached this far yet she didn’t conquer her fears. Syesha Mercado’s song from Starlight Express was really catchy. Too bad no one sung a song from ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ (I was waiting for that).

Now that AI has once again stirred my musical interest by featuring songs from the stage, I will tune in until one shall be named the next American Idol. By the way, I was disappointed on GMA 7’s Pinoy Idol. I’ll blog about this soon.

Wow

While writing this entry, the volume of my music player is pumped while playing Kylie Minogue’s new single entitled Wow. For several years, I have always admired Kylie, her music and reinvention. Some call it a guilty pleasure – Kylie that is. I was able to catch the video of Wow while scanning through some channels one Friday morning. The rhythm is very fit for the summer season. When I first heard it, I was thumping my fingers over my lap. The video, on the other hand, was another signature video by Kylie. The dash of neon fluorescent lights with disco colors complemented her sexy moves. Launched formally during the beginning of this year, Wow already made it to the top twenty of the charts. The song makes me groove and the video is very enticing.

Corporate Summer
Mastering the art of corporate summer requires a lot of adjustments. After graduation, I was employed by a local corporation as an Integrated Communications Assistant. At first I had no idea what it was, aside from the fact that the HR department told me that it involves a lot of writing (which I certainly love doing). I took the job and here I am being paid for editing the company newsletter, making ad copies, grammar-checking brochures and making business cards for the 30+ companies of a known conglomerate here in Central Luzon. I find my office mates very interesting. Most of them boys, they are all very creative in their own crafts. Instead of spending my summer wearing board shorts, I am obliged to be in corporate attire – long sleeves and slacks. Well, although I find it amusing at times, I honestly enjoy it here in our office. Good thing I am not experiencing the scourging heat of the sun out in the open, but instead, I am enjoying the freezing air-conditioning system in our office.

Choir Boy
I found a group of people very similar to the group I left in Manila. These people love to sing and consider their colleague as family. I’m glad I am now one of them – a member of the Metropolitan Cathedral Choir of the Archdiocese of San Fernando. Aside from having a motivating drive when it comes to attending Sunday services, I found a new set of friends here in my hometown.

Summer for me has been very exhausting not because of the excursions and heat, but because of the new things I’m now serious about – work and church. Well, the tedious pre-employment was really tiring as well. For a week I had to visit several offices for my NBI Clearance, Community Tax Cetificate, etc. During those times cursed and hated government services for their low quality service and apathy. Well, all is done and I’m now employed. I just realized that with my new singing commitment plus my Monday to Saturday job, I have no more break. Good thing I still manage to get enough sleep and unwind at home. This is far better than college days and all I can say is… WOW!

Puppets Tell All

Life in Avenue Q portrays the real world.

I almost missed watching the Tony Award-winning musical Avenue Q staged at the Carlos P. Romulo Theatre in Makati because of heavy traffic. Although my friend and I arrived about thirty minutes after the call time, we managed to catch up. Before the play, I was so irritated because of the Manila traffic I experienced and I thought of renouncing my citizenship right then and there. But during the musical, my mindset changed and I decided that I should remain a Filipino. I was astonished on how Felix Rivera, Rachel Alejandro and other Filipino members of the cast (including Aiza Siguerra) performed. I was carried away by their acts plus their voices were superb. I cried and laughed several times during the whole production. Manila’s version of Avenue Q is one big thing to be proud of.

The play is about Princeton, who moved into Avenue Q, mainly to find his purpose in life. Other characters, namely, Kate Monster, Gary, Christmas Eve, Nicky, and Rod were also living in the same community and their lives were portrayed as well. The actors/actresses held puppets similar to those in Sesame Street and the approach was in the same manner. The difference is that instead of counting numbers, spelling words or reciting the alphabet, issues on sex, racism, homosexuality, marriage, money, decision-making, and (most of all) love, were tackled. It became much like a ‘therapy’ for me. I was able to see myself in the situations where the characters were in.

All the songs were full of meaning, direct to the point and lively (much like in Sesame Street.) The voice quality of Felix (as Princeton and Nicky) and Rachel (as Kate and Lucy) were powerful and versatile. Both of them were able to change their tone whenever needed because of their dual roles. This is the so-called ‘repeat’ performance produced by Atlantis so the production was unquestionably lovable and was comparable to that in Broadway (as Boy Abunda mentioned during his interview with the main characters last December 22 on ANC’s Private Conversations).

I learned a lot of things in life because of this musical. The play made me realize that there is a ‘fine line between love and a waste of time,’ ‘fantasies come true,’ and interestingly, a new word – ‘Schadenfreude’ – meaning, happiness in the misfortune of others (I bought a green promotional t-shirt with that German word on it). If I were given the chance, I would watch Avenue Q ten more times. Thanks to Youtube.com, I can hear the songs over and over whenever I crave for laughter, reality and love.

I know someday, I’ll find my purpose in life. Avenue Q took me one step closer.

Psalm 84 and beyond

When I started writing news for our college publication, I was assigned by my editor to follow every move of the UST College of Science Glee Club (CSGC). Now, I can’t believe that I am now part of the singing group I constantly covered during their college gigs, university-wide stints, and even in when the President calls them (see related blog entitled “Some Culture”). It was last July 2, 2007 when I saw my name posted as one of the applicants who passed the first and second screenings for the new breed of singers for the CSGC. Psalm 84 (How Lovely Is Your Dwelling Place) was the song I chose as my audition piece. And during the final test – the so-called ‘Judgement Day’ – I passed. Thanks to the one month training and to the support of my friends, I was able to prove to myself that I can really sing. Plus, those videoke nights were quite helpful as well!

The first three months of my singing experience as a ‘gleepol’ (as we CSGC members call ourselves) has been very memorable for me *pardon my mushiness*. Aside from the usual invocation and national anthems in school, I, together with two colleagues, were invited to sing in a wedding. Although I was shaky and nervous, I was happy to have sung for the first time in front of a wedding banquet in Laguna. (Alas, an alternative to hosting!) Next exciting performance for me was during one of the La Naval masses in Santo Domingo Church Quezon City. Singing for a mass offered to the miraculous Our Lady of the Holy Rosary was a very inspirational moment.

Because of CSGC, my name became part of the ‘Most Wanted’ list of the SOCC (Student Organizations Coordinating Council) and OSA (Office for Student Affairs). It’s a complicated story but I guess it’s the price to pay for bringing out the truth. My article (which I wrote six months before I became a gleepol) was noticed by the said UST offices because I relayed the ruckus that happened to last year’s Intercollegiate Song Festival (ICSF) in Momentum Vol. 45 No. 1. It may be a small matter for some journalists who face bigger libel cases and related stuff, but facing the said issue has been one of my most trying times as a campus journalist. Well, I already talked to the SOCC president and I have no intention of destroying the Council. Long story cut short – problem was solved and I was able to get my Certificate of Good Moral Character (which I thought wouldn’t be released because of all the brouhaha over the published article).

Soon, I will be experiencing ICSF myself and I can’t wait to see the difference. This time, I will be the one to be covered. I never thought that singing would be part of my last year as a college student. Psalm 84 has led me to this new and melodious world of chorale life. Almost every night I have to vocalize, practice and sing. I am serious and I will make this ‘first and last’ gleepol gig of mine very fruitful. Besides, this is something beyond karaoke.

Some Culture

What is the true taste of music? Delicious.

This week, music has occupied my ears, and generally my emotions, as I have been exposed to three musical events: one in Malacanang Palace where I listened to the beautiful renditions of our college glee club, then in Blue Onion and Basement (Eastwood) where my eardrums almost popped out because of the loud music, and another one in the UST Singers “Classico” concert – all of these have exposed me to today’s culture.

My first day of semester started not in school but in the President’s palace. I was assigned by our college journal to cover an event where our college glee club will sing local Filipino songs including the national anthem. With pride, I listened as their voices capture the real essence of what they are singing. Truly, the UST College of Science Glee Club is worth the President’s call. Four days after, I met with my high school classmates and we had a night out at Eastwood City and danced ’til early morning. My ears became numb and I thought I’ll undergo an eardrum operation because of deafness – thanks to the loud R&B, dance and techno music in those smoky bars. When me and my pals came home, we all smelled like cigarette ashtrays. Eeeew!

I attened a casual concert of the world-renowned UST Singers at the Museum of Arts and Sciences yesterday. It was inspiring. They sang classic songs from all over the world and even offered an encore of “Broadway” songs, all in a capella. Tickets to this concert were limited and guests were sophisticated (The way I see it). It was for people who appreciate the “Classic” and “classy” kind of music quite more melodic to the ears. Broadcaster Julie Yap-Daza was also there.

Music always played a major role in our culture. Classical, acoustic, rock, pop, R&B, and other genres define your taste. As much as possible, we must accomodate all of these in order to become flexible and be able to relate with all classes of people.

Spur of Songs, Stress and Sin

There is no concrete reason why there is a thing called ‘last song syndrome’ or LSS wherein you can’t help but sing the lines of the latest song you heard over and over again for the whole day and lasts even for an entire week. It’s sporadic. It’s even contagious. Beware.

But it’s just the price I pay, destiny is calling me,
open up my eager eyes, because I’m Mr. Brightside.
– Mr. Brightside by The Killers

Perhaps the most fascinating things I have ever done this week were: memorize how protozoans look like, learn how to make a Dichotomous key, and survive the heat of the Chemistry Lab. New professors, new ways of teaching, and new jobs to accomplish – these has taken over my life for this whole week. I always tell myself to get used to it (the stress). I must always look at the cooler part of hardwork and determination, and be Mr. Brightside.

We’re just ordinary people, we don’t know which way to go
because we’re ordinary people, maybe we should take it slow.
– Ordinary People by John Legend

Fast-paced college life has taken almost 24 hours of my every day breathing. Not to mention 7pm night meetings with my org (…enjoying it) and of course, the non-stop reproduction of assignments and research, all in full bloom! I understand that I should have gotten used to this stressful days, it’s just that I feel so bad about being tired and tortured (who wouldn’t be if you have to use the library staircase several times to go to the fifth level, then to the second, then down, up, down, wheeeew!) I’m human. I get tired. I’m just one of the ordinary people. That’s why I slowed down for a while.

Say the magic words and everything is fine again baby.
And you just touch me like I love and loving you feels new again…Oh yeah.
– Magic Words by Coco Lee

Is it “I love you?” Definitely not. For me, the magic words are “It’s time to take a break”… and have a KitKat (corny!) I was successful in looking for ‘fast breaks.’ After going through some reading assignments, I turned on the TV and watched the replay of the NBA Finals… congratualations SAN ANTONIO SPURS (81-74). After which I tuned in to my favorite soap, The O.C. And for the third time this month (it’s a good thing I’m not yet vomitting) nothing stopped me from watching my favorite French film ‘Merci Docteur Rey’ (oh, the laughs!)

É o fim do caminho
no rosto desgosto
– Aguas de Marco by Antonio Carlos Jobim

Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin reached the end of his road. I watched this special called “Original Sin – Pari, Propeta at Pilipino” and I was mesmerized by his life, his accomplishments and his great impact on the lives of the Filipinos. This man of God is a good source of inspiration for the people, specially those in the vocation of priesthood (I almost ended up there…)

Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the wrong words seem to ryhme
– Collide by Howie Day

Thanks to my classmate (Moony) for encouraging me to join our college’s official publication. I will give it a shot, forget about my ego and accept whatever happens after the screening. Also, I am happy for my Senior High School adviser (Mrs. Lei Ibay) – congrats for the baby boy. As for me? Well, I have to face another week full of surprises, mostly in school. How I wish my thick books will sympathize with me.