Scout: 2018 October-December

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in this issue 04 portfolio KHAVN 09 music SOUND ESCAPES 14 cover story KIANA VALENCIANO 22 scene QUEENS OF THE NIGHT 24 food NIGHTCRAWLER 28 art IN PROTEST 34 profile CARELESS MUSIC 42 essay AFTER HOURS 48 music LATE NIGHT DRIVES

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W W W . S C O U T M A G . P H

group publisher bea j. ledesma editor in chief lex celera creative director nimu muallam associate editor oliver emocling graphic designer renz mart reyes editorial assistant monina chua rogin losa copy editor patricia romualdez contributing writers nielli martinez contributing artists bryan sochayseng, martin diegor contributing photographers jack alindahao, kevin cantos, aisha causing, ed enclona, david felix, shayne lopez, carlo nuñez, joseph pascual, jp talapian contributing stylists quayn pedroso, hideki ito contributing videographers samantha ong, jp talapian contributing hair & makeup artists janica balasolla, zidjian floro, charlie manapat, pam robes interns nikka arreola, kiara gabriel, philip jamilla, ela king, lily hana chan, celina medina, watson vergara

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board chairperson alexandra prieto-romualdez chief investment officer, inquirer group of companies j. ferdinand de luzuriaga deputy chief finance officer, inquirer group of companies atty. rudyard arbolado vp/group hr head raymund soberano vp & chief strategy officer imelda c. alcantara senior hr manager ma. leonisa l. gabrieles hr specialist reynalyn s. fernandez executive assistant/ editorial content planner christine joy bernadette angeles head of operations and business development lurisa ann villanueva svp & group sales head, inquirer group of companies felipe r. olarte avp for sales ma. katrina garcia-dalusong key account supervisor angelita tan-ibañez key accounts officer altheia ordiales, sarah cabalatungan, charm banzuelo account executives kyle cayabyab, ina mateo, rose carina mamonong, allysza maye marasigan, anne medina, xenia sebial, kimberly tañafranca, andie zuñiga sales support assistant rechelle nicdao

sales coordinator chloe dianne cartoneros, christine joy galura, taira rhodezza hernandez marketing and events manager jellic tapia marketing supervisor emmanuel domingo marketing assistant samantha joyce jaro, stefhnaie medina, resary elizabeth reonisto marketing graphic artist melanie chang, bianca pilar production & distribution manager jan cariquitan production assistant maricel gavino final art supervisor dennis cruz final art assistant argyl leones distribution specialist arnulfo naron senior distribution assistant angela carlos-quiambao liason associate rosito subang

ON THE COVER Photography by Joseph Pascual Styling by Quayn Pedroso Hair and makeup by Zidjian Floro Shot at Hinge Studio

@scoutmagph #kianaforscout For general inquiries, email us at

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letter from the editor "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,"

– “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg

I have always wanted to produce an issue that revolved around what happens after hours. A show I watched by happenstance, Midnight Diner, doesn’t just explore the strange occurrences and interactions that can only happen at night, but also how and why these interactions came to be. One thing we almost always ask each other during the late hours of the night is, “What are you doing?” Though the answers may be different, it almost feels like anyone resisting the natural desire to sleep during the night is trespassing. Like we’re in one big, mad, beautiful secret together. The night is a metaphor for many things. It is adventure and mystery and conflict and loneliness and vulnerability all at once. Conversations happen to be big chunks of this issue’s content, and though the stories and features are vastly different from each other, we hope that we unpack what the night represents to many of us “angelheaded hipsters.” Reading writers from the Beat Generation makes me feel that the alienation 1950s industrialized America endured is pretty much alive today due to the advent of technology. Kiana Valenciano’s story, as you will find out in her profile in this issue, sounds all too familiar to us: the struggle of self-image and constant improvement in the hyperreal, hyperconnected society we live in. Even in the internet, day and night still exist.

Lex Celera @scoutmagph

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Disturbing, surreal, yet brilliant—these are the key components to Khavn De La Cruz’s experimental cinema. His films disturb the comfortable with no remorse as he depicts the Philippines in his tales. Interview by ROGIN LOSA

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“I don’t shy away from anything. I embrace traditional filmmaking until I hear its bones break,” says local experimental filmmaker Khavn De La Cruz. His works disturb the comfortable the way Filipino commercial films comfort the disturbed. “There is no need [to see the country’s unsettling side in film], [Philippine cinema] only needs balance,” is what Khavn believes. He has been bringing that balance to our local cinema since 1994. All in all, he has created 47 features and 112 short films. Though the reception for these films may vary, the context remains faithful to his philosophy of what “wazak” entails. “Wazak” is an outdated Filipino slang word that’s the equivalent of “astig” today. But at the same time, it is also rooted in the word “ruined.” This is reflected in how Khavn depicts the Philippines or Manila in his films. The backdrop is what our country often filters out when international delegates arrive on our shores—our slums. The slums of Manila play a huge part in Khavn’s works. The Family that Eats Soil, Mondomanila, Ruined Heart, and his documentary Squatterpunk share this commonality. All of them also tackle themes that question the integrity of Filipino idealism by using non-linear narratives to tip the country’s moral compass.


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Squatterpunk. 2007.

Filipino culture is shown through the surrealist and disturbing realities of Khavn’s characters. From the grime and rotting flesh of poverty caused by a broken system to the darkest kinks of the human psyche, his lens treads where few local filmmakers dare to follow. His 2004 feature The Family That Eats Soil serves as a prime example. Khavn describes the film as “cockfighting, prostitution, midgets, skullcrushing, and plots to kill babies.” This film not only launched him to critical acclaim, but it also set the tone for his future films. The film is about a family that eats soil for every meal—a dysfunctional family eating filth and living in filth. The children are violent and filled with lust, their father is a child murderer, their mother is a drug-dealing media personality, and their grandfather is literally dead.

This disturbing and surreal tale has all the main components of a Khavn De La Cruz classic. He dejects and deconstructs the spell of poverty porn in Filipino cinema by showing the dark side of the Philippines unfiltered. What his films want are for their audiences to be strapped down with their eyes peeled to watch the jarring imagery unfold. His 2010 film Mondomanila puts this in perspective by opening with a quote from actress Claire Danes describing Manila: “[Manila]... smelled of cockroaches, with rats all over and that there is no sewerage system and the people do not have anything—no arms, no legs, no eyes.” This is exactly what Khavn shows in his films about the city.

Family That Eats Soil. 2004.

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PORTFOLIO 8 Mondomanila. 2010.

Mondomanila, Ruined Heart, and Squatterpunk continue to push this deconstruction in Philippine cinema. These two non-linear narratives and one social realist documentary have the slums of the city as their backdrop. But their stories are not begging for pity; instead, they invite people to watch closely. Mondomanila is “Glee on meth” following the anti-hero Tony de Guzman as he grits his teeth walking through slums filled with drug addicts, Yankee pedophiles, and other characters. Similar traits and struggles follow the characters of Ruined Heart. Ruined Heart or Pusong Wazak is a Yakuza’s version of Romeo and Juliet. It’s set once again in the ultraviolent streets of Manila where sex, crime, drugs, and other vices come into play. But still, it is a tale of fleeting love and tragedy between two people, a hitman and a crime boss’s girl.

Balangiga. 2018.

As for Squatterpunk, this social realist documentary is a metaphorical F.U. to the “bleak poverty” stigma. As it follows the lives of an eight-year-old Slum King and his young, rowdy posse, Khavn’s lens becomes a window to these young boys’ joy-filled childhood surrounded by the city’s filth. These films urge viewers to be uncomfortable. They are hard to stomach and hard to watch. They dwell on themes of ultraviolence, amorality, and our country’s taboos within a Third World setting. All of the stuff traditionalists here want to sweep under the rug. On the contrary, Khavn’s films aren’t meant to merely shock or provoke. They might be polarizing to viewers, but the films’ point is for us to talk about them rather than ignore them. Something that commercial films filter and gloss over.

Khavn contrasts the filtered Ruined Heart. 2014. outlook on Philippine cinema with his brand of cinema. He engages his audience in conversations that we need to have. His films’ purpose is not to smear the Philippines, but for Filipinos to realize that this is the Philippines. With seemingly unlikeable anti-heroes, Khavn rejects the one-sided idea of poverty. It is all the murk and grime of a UNICEF ad. But the characters also show us that their lives continue regardless. Messy, rowdy, polarizing, and “wazak” through and through. “The universe of cinema is big. Create your own planet,” is Khavn’s advice to young filmmakers and storytellers who try to adapt his methods of filmmaking. His “wazak” principles might not be for everyone. But what storytellers and the audience can learn from him is that nothing is a one-trick pony. There will always be multiple sides to everything: this country, our brand of cinema, and morality in general. Khavn has never seen the need for the Philippines’ grit to be seen on film. He only sees the need for balance. And he pulls off just that by keeping our eyes wide open to the horrors of the country.

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sound escapes We trace the bustling music scenes of different provinces to understand the diverse musical landscape of the country. Words by ROGIN LOSA

THERE IS SO MUCH MORE MUSIC TO BE HEARD OUTSIDE MANILA. No one is saying that we should stop supporting musicians based in this city. But we all need to recognize that “supporting local” isn’t limited to the capital’s music scene alone. The Philippine music scene runs deep and is as elaborate as its dialects. We explored four music scenes outside of Manila through oral history from Baguio’s timeless folk musicians to the pride of Davao that is budots. The current sound of the Philippines spans beyond the walls of ’Guijo and Mow’s. And Manila has always been a mere tip of the iceberg.

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Pampanga’s rising hip-hop and hardcore scene “Nothing is above the surface yet,” is what folk musician Ian Penn had to say about the music scene in his home province of Pampanga. Hailing from Mt. Arayat, Ian has been active in the Philippine music scene (he played a 30city tour around the country earlier this year) as well as in his province. We thought that he’d be the perfect person to ask about the current sound of Pampanga. But unfortunately, he did not think the same. “Maybe I’m the wrong person to ask, but my answer is I don’t see a predominant genre [in Pampanga],” he confesses. “All I know is that there’s a huge wave of artists coming from Pampanga, all sorts of beautiful characters with different styles and approach to their art. There’s electronic, there’s rap, experimental, reggae, metal, folk psychedelic. It’s a huge salad.” In Pampanga, two disparate music scenes dominate. And yet, they both represent where the future of Pampanga is headed. “We have two music-dominant cities, Angeles and San Fernando, with dissimilar music scenes,” Profett from the Pampanga-based rap group Ghoul Gang sets the scene for us. “For Angeles, where I’m from, the scene now is more about variety and diversity in sound. The genre spectrum ranges from hip-hop to shoegaze. As for the scene in the City of San Fernando, they are focused on heavier pieces like punk and hardcore bands.”


Langit, Lupa, Impyerno by GVNDVLICXXX$ (SVTVNVS)

A₱ORT by D.Vaughn of Ghoul Gang

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The barangay grooves to Davao’s budots Budots is something that Filipinos have heard in their daily routine. Whether they despise hearing it in the jeepneys or groove to it for their “taga saan ka” memes, the sound has been ingrained in our culture. And we have Barangay Camus of Davao to thank for that. Tambay, or someone who’s jobless—that’s the true definition of budots. These are the same people who invented the sound and dance to it. And it may surprise you how elaborately they developed this genre. Starting back in 2012 with the CamusBoyz, budots is a mixture of Badjao beats and techno sampling. Website VoteForSanta defines the sound as “deep bass, static sounds, occasional scratching, horns of varying pitches and tempo, DJ spiels throughout, sometimes distorted vocals, looped all over.” Tracks in this genre are often made with outdated music software. How people dance to it has the same traditional roots. Community blog DavaoEagle describes it as “patterned on [the] Badjao’s freestyle dancing.” People might dismiss budots as random and formless. But this sound is rooted in staking an identity in a modern Western society. Davaoeños have redefined a Western genre by molding it to how they hear it. Budots is cheap, it’s lo-fi as lo-fi comes, and it’s rooted in tradition. It’s a wonder how a province interpreted a Western genre and shaped it to their own liking.

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Sayaw Kalagot (Bomb Mix) by DJ Love

BongOyan Anthem by DJ Love

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Laguna’s sturdy heavy punk/ hardcore scene Intimidating, loud, and restless— that’s what Laguna hardcore is at first glance. How Laguna does punk and hardcore runs deep. It started as “tugtugang pangkalye” and found its home through the doors of local bars. Until now, it remains the beat that the province moshes to. Since laying its foundations in the ’90s, Laguna hardcore has been a solid part of the province’s subcultural identity. “I can say that Laguna is the first province to have a tight hardcore scene, lots of dedicated individuals contributed to put our place in the hardcore map,” the bassist of Laguna hardcore band Piledriver, Howell, explains. One of those dedicated individuals is gig organizer and musician Harry Tiu. He has actively organized and participated in the scene since 1994 in Pagsanjan. Harry shares his theories about why hardcore has remained the sound of the province: “Noong nagsisimula pa ang mga grupo na nag-usbungan sa bawat bayan, may mga aktibistang pang-kultura na nakatago, para sa

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akin isa sila sa punks. May rebelyon ang tula at musika. ’Yun ang esensya ng punks na kaisipan. Hindi siguro ito nanggaling sa Maynila ’tas sinalin sa Laguna. Para sa akin, malaki ang kinalaman ng pakiramdam para yakapin namin ang isang tunog at ang kaisipan nito.” From its ’90s founding fathers like New Found Heritage to groups like Piledriver keeping the scene alive, Laguna hardcore isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Its relevance will live on as the scene’s sturdy support system continues. “Nagpapatuloy at patuloy pang magpapatuloy ang eksena dahil sa nagkakasalubong na sahog ng mga musikero at ang mga sumusuporta nito,” Harry explains when asked why the scene in Laguna is still flourishing. “Nagkakasalubong ’yung mga interest [nila] kaya nagpapatuloy, nakakapagsalin ang nauna, at naaalalayan ang kasalukuyan.”


Scumbag by New Found Heritage

Laguna Hardcore by Piledriver

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The deep roots of Baguio folk (and the branches it grew) Decades of history back up the legacy of Baguio folk/ country music. From the American occupation to its huge role in producing anti-Martial Law anthems in the ’70s, its roots are deep in the city’s soil. It remains the most influential sound in the city. But Baguio’s folk roots have now branched out. “We got the [folk] music from American soldiers. Other genres in [Baguio] are popular because it’s an alternative to the mainstream,” Alain Lim of Turncoats, a lo-fi indie rock trio based in Baguio, explains. “Malaki yung folk and country music dito, lalo na noong World War II hanggang ’80s. Dinala ng American soldiers ang folk dito since they stayed here the longest, retired here, and built the city,” Turncoats bassist, Troy, shares. Alain describes the city’s current sound as “80 percent folk, country, blues, and reggae, 20 percent everything else.” The city’s scene has grown since folk music’s beginnings there. Baguio folk lives on through blues/ rock artists like Caesar Salcedo and folk musicians like Mac Castelo. But bands like the jazz/soul/hip-hop fusion Skydive Academy keep the scene fresh. “There’s a considerable amount of diversity here in Baguio. We also got musicians bringing in their electronic, rap, jazz, soul and world music flavor to the independent music scene,” Jethro Sandico of Skyline Academy says. “I believe it’s becoming a little more open-minded, barriers are being toppled, and more styles are being explored.”

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People Watcher by The Turncoats

Mga Hari ng Himpapawid (Boom Bap Remix) by Skydive Academy

Hey Hey by Cesar Salcedo

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After years of staying in the spotlight, Kiana Valenciano is finally basking in the moment. We talk to the artist about her vulnerabilities and motivations that keep her going. Photography by JOSEPH PASCUAL Styling by QUAYN PEDROSO Words by NIELLI MARTINEZ

IN CASE IT ISN’T obvious, life does not come with an instruction manual. No one tells you that you’re going to have to make some of life’s most crucial decisions before you’re even old enough to legally drink liquor, or that you’re going to invest so much of your time and emotions in people who will eventually just become strangers, or that you could be drowned by an overwhelming wave of emptiness, even at a time when everything in your life appears to be in the right place. There are all these situations that nothing and no one ever prepares us for, but we’re thrust into them anyway, and all we’re armed with is the knowledge that the only way to survive is to keep on fighting. In Kiana Valenciano’s case, nobody warned her about living a life that’s subject to unwarranted criticism and the weight of other people’s expectations. When you’re the child of a multi-hyphenated, multiawarded icon like Mr. Pure Energy himself, it can be difficult to make your own moves because people will only end up comparing them to his. “I was always more careful about how I acted in public, even if it was just laughing too loud or talking too loudly with friends, because I think [people’s] favorite line at that time was, ‘Anak ka pa naman ni Gary V,” Kiana recalls. “He’s not just like an icon, I mean, he’s so influential and inspirational, that as his kid, people expect you to be perfect. People always forget that we’re all human, and I guess it’s been a struggle for me to find my own voice when

everyone kind of has this perception of who I’m meant to be.” Determined to carve out her own path, Kiana pursued her other passion and graduated from Raffles Design Institute with a degree in Fashion Design—even chasing that dream all the way to London, where she participated in various fashion workshops for a whole summer. It was there, however, that she realized she couldn’t hide from the music much longer. “Just for fun, I recorded a song with a friend, and I thought, ‘Okay, maybe if I stop running away from this so much, maybe there’s something there for me,’” Kiana recounts. It seemed there was no point in pushing it away—not because it was what people wanted her to do, but because she knew deep down it was what she wanted, too. “When I started writing songs, I couldn’t deny it anymore. I couldn’t pretend like I wasn’t meant to be doing this, so I kind of embraced it and just went with the flow and started writing songs. And I really enjoyed it. I haven’t stopped [since].” While her love for fashion remains a pivotal part of who she is, Kiana has made the conscious decision to set it aside in order to make way for her music. “I think eventually I do want my own [clothing] label, but it’s kind of hard because right now my whole heart is in the music and I don’t want to share that attention. If I’m thriving as a singer, as a songwriter, then I don’t wanna spread myself too thin and [still] work on fashion, [because] then my music will suffer. Right now, I’m

really focused on making sure that my music is a reflection of who I am.” Citing the likes of Janet Jackson, Aaliyah, Christina Aguilera, and Usher as some of her biggest influences in music, the 25-year-old singer is, in many ways, fast becoming one of the voices of her generation. With her 2017 hit Does She Know—now a staple track in today’s party playlists, let’s be real—and the more soulful fourtrack EP “Grey” under her belt, she’s resolved to make music that is all at once authentic and unapologetic. “I know how impactful [my dad’s] music was in his time. I don’t have to be an icon [like him]—to be the biggest star out there—but I just want to leave my mark. I think I always knew that if I was gonna do music, I had to be myself because I didn’t want music to end up being something that I wanted to escape from. My music is my escape. My words are things that I can’t speak to people, and so I write it down and I sing it.” Like any other artist, Kiana allows herself to become vulnerable in order to be able to create better, more meaningful work. Off her first album, dropping early next year, there’s one song that goes “the voices tell me I’m not ready for it”—a line she claims best describes her true self. Kiana will be the first to admit she hasn’t quite figured out where she’s headed, and that no matter how smooth things may seem on the surface, she’s still a confused wanderer who encounters major obstructions along the way. Earlier this year, she took to social media to open up about struggling

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OXYGEN cap, BRYAN PERALTA dress @bryanperaltadesigns


with anxiety and depression a couple of years ago—an admission that was prompted by somebody asking about a small tattoo etched on the back of her neck. “I was with my friends, I think they were in my apartment. I took a shower, and my neck was burning, so I went out and I asked [them], 'Is there something on my neck?' And they were like, 'You have so many scratches on the back of your neck!' I was like, 'What do you mean?' So they had to take a picture, and it turns out, I was really stressed out and any time I was stressed, I was scratching, and I didn’t even realize,” she explains. I still do have like a few scars, but that’s why I have my tattoo [which says] ‘saved.’” Today, Kiana’s scars are stories—no longer bad ones, but ones she can share so people know they’re not fighting the good fight alone. So they know they don’t have to. “You know, you never really think that there’s something wrong with you, especially in this day and age when on social media, you can [relate] to a meme, and so that makes you feel like ‘Okay, everyone understands.’ But at the same time, no one understands,” Kiana explains. She speaks with a quiet sort of resilience, but her voice betrays her a little as she recalls her experiences, the little cracks letting me know that some days still feel as heavy as they did back in 2016. “I don’t know how to talk about it because I’m still going through it, and every day it’s like a constant struggle to just find a reason to fight. But then you have to remind yourself that you can’t be selfish, and even if it gets hard, so many people love you. And it helps when you [talk to] people. I’ve been at that point where I didn’t message anyone for days, and I just felt like I was stuck, glued to my bed. But the moment I opened up and started talking about it, I wouldn’t say it got easier, but to have a support system that knows what you’re going through? It helps,” she adds. Unfortunately, being a public figure—especially here in the Philippines—means that observers either feel like you owe it to them to disclose details of your personal life, or know it’s none of their business but will feel entitled to their own

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(often harsh) opinions anyway. “In my earlier days, it would really get to me, because I kind of enjoyed being semiinvisible and not having to worry about [these things]. I mean, yeah, I was Gary V’s daughter, but nobody questioned my character [and there wasn’t as much attention on me],” Kiana explains. “I got really insecure about it at one point because they would point out all the little things about me that I knew I didn’t like. I was like, ‘Oh my God, are they, like, in my head? How do they know to say these things?’ And it took a lot of me dealing with it alone in my room, just looking at myself in the mirror and [thinking] ‘You’re not ugly, though. You’re not!’ But you know, you read it enough and you start to believe it.” Kiana’s had some of the most atrocious comments thrown at her, from being called “pa-cool” in one instance, to being told “your dad should die” in another, but after all that she’s been through, she knows better than to let keyboard warriors get under her skin. “If I saw [those people] pass me down the street, they would not have anything to say to me. If given the chance, they’d probably wanna hang out. Like, not even with me but with the people I’m hanging out with. Like, what’s the point? They’re just so negative, and [what they say] says more about them than me.” Veering away from negativity, Kiana instead focuses her energy on bettering herself. Forget the fact that she’s collaborated with most of the musicians she’s ever hoped to work with, that she’s graced the pages of countless magazines, or that she has received praises for her music at the young age of six; Kiana believes her best work so far has nothing to do with her career and everything to do with her self-image. “I think my greatest achievement is that I’m learning to accept myself. It’s just happened over the past few months where I’m really learning to just accept who I am, which is why my lyrics are more vulnerable,” she shares. Whereas Kiana from five years ago was in such a rush to grow up, this Kiana—this stronger, more centered version—refuses to remain hung up on the past or to get caught up in the uncertainty of the future. She would much rather slow down, embrace the

present, and appreciate moments for what they are, no matter how fleeting they may be. “I think as millennials, and going on social media, it’s so easy to take for granted the things [we] have because [we] see all the things that [we] want or the things that other people are getting. The best thing is to just turn off your phone, read a book, put on your favorite series, you know what I mean? Just shut everything out and just be grateful,” she says. “I want to reach that point where I’m just so grateful. Because I am, but sometimes we forget. I just wanna be so grateful that no matter what comes my way, I’m able to just take the bad things as a lesson and take the good things as a little present.” Either art is imitating life or life is imitating art: in any case, Kiana Valenciano’s life now mirrors the cryptic Alice in Wonderland movie snippet she once posted on her Instagram feed. “Hmm. I wonder which way I ought to go,” the photo says, and while others might consider this scenario a dilemma, Kiana sees an opportunity to grow and make great things happen. “I don’t even know where I’m gonna be tomorrow,” she lets out with a laugh, and then I realize that that might not be such a bad thing. “I feel like I’m just getting started, and I’m really getting to know who I am as an artist and I’m having the most fun doing that. So the next five years? I can’t even begin to imagine where I’m gonna be. Hopefully I’ve made my mark by then.” There’s no way to tell where Kiana could end up half a decade from now, but I think that’s exactly what makes the future worth looking forward to. Given Kiana’s firm resolve and renewed sense of self, something tells me she’s going to be just fine. Kiana, if you see this—and I know that you will—let me put this in writing for you to revisit anytime you need a reminder: The voices are wrong. You’re as ready as you’ll ever be. After all, if you read something enough, you start to believe it, right? n

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OXYGEN button down, jacket, and shorts, MACO CUSTODIO sandals


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OXYGEN top and pants, MACO CUSTODIO sandals

“I don’t have to be an icon—to be

the biggest star out there—but

I just want to leave my mark.”

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q ue th

of s n e ni gh t e

Manila is gagging for the drama and glamour of drag as Rupaul’s Drag Race hits the mainstream. But it has always been a part of Filipino herstory. Words by ROGIN LOSA Photography by JACK ALINDAHAO

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DRAG IS AN ART form pertaining to dressing up as he wrote about how Pulong discovered the infamous the opposite sex. Today, it is seen as a performance of Victoria Studios where he had his portraits all dressed in gender with a culture of its own. This is flourishing here, exquisite baro’t saya to Japanese geisha robes. Drag exotic and burlesque performers like Walterina especially in the heart of Manila. “I remember telling myself the day I started watching Markova (aka Walter Dempster Jr.) became prominent Rupaul’s Drag Race back in 2011: This is going to be during the Japanese rule. But they were far from tolerated mainstream. And look what we have here—it’s crazy as they were tortured and raped by soldiers. “Every day, and beautiful.” Young drag queens like Prince De Castro 20 Japanese were raping us. Imagine! We could hardly from BGC's Nectar nightclub attests to our thriving walk or sit down,” Markova exclaimed in an interview with Ronald D. Klein. drag scene. “The society isn't that But drag isn’t a new accepting as it is now today yet art form here. Here, we “UNLIKE ANY OTHER they didn't lack hope in their lives,” have centuries’ worth of Prince reflects on how far drag drag herstory. FORM OF ART AND and gay culture in the Philippines J. Neil Garcia writes in had come. All of these events Male Homosexuality in the ENTERTAINMENT, DRAG IS aren’t remembered by a lot of Philippines that “gender queens today. Yet, these people crossing and transvestism EXPANDABLE TO THE NTH and these experiences comprise were cultural features” in early thriving culture they’re living Philippines. Spiritual leaders POWER, AND THAT'S WHAT the in now. like the babaylan practiced “Unlike any other form of drag. They gained “social MAKES IT UNIQUE art and entertainment, drag is and symbolic recognition as expandable to the nth power, ‘somewhat women’” during AND UNBREAKABLE.” and that's what makes it unique the early years of our nation. and unbreakable.” Everything changed when Filipino drag culture still Spaniards found this culture of ours “threatening” and “primitive” during their first persists and evolves as time goes by. Colonization tried to deprive us from exploring our nation’s years of colonial rule. In Jonathan Foe's research entitled The 1960s Gay gender identity. It resulted in our passive-aggressive Life in the Philippines, he explains that “any American tolerance for the LGBTQ+ community, and our blurred influence [in the country’s gay culture] must have definitions of bakla, drag queens, and transgender. But as our pre-colonial forebears exhibited, drag has been negative, but it is difficult to trace.” But the queen known as Crispulo “Pulong” Luna still practiced always been a part of us. As the international drag queen Rupaul Charles once said: “We were born naked and the crossdressing during the American occupation. In J. Neil’s book Performing the Self: Occasional Prose, rest is drag.” n



Our Filipino ancestors practiced gender crossing and transitioning. Spiritual leaders like the babaylan practiced drag, gaining “social and symbolic recognition as ‘somewhat women’” during the early years of our nation.


Spaniards found this culture of ours “threatening” and “primitive” during their first years of colonial rule. Investigation of this part of Filipino culture stopped in 1625.

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Crispulo “Pulong” Luna was known to be a “gender crosser” during the American occupation. Victoria Studios was where he had his portraits all dressed in female outfits—from an exquisite baro’t saya to Japanese geisha robes.


Walterina Markova (aka Walter Dempster Jr.) is a drag burlesque performer during the Japanese occupation. He is one among the many gay entertainers who were turned into comfort gays by the soldiers.


The concept of drag was brought to mainstream consciousness with films like Ang Tatay Kong Nanay Ko by comedy king Dolphy Quizon. National gay pageants like Miss Gay Philippines were established around this time as well.


Drag was known more in the mainstream as a form of comedy. Allan K and other comedians performed drag in variety shows. This gave drag a one-sided perception of being a form of comedy alone.

Present day

Clubs like Quezon City’s O Bar and Today x Future, BGC's Nectar nightclub, and Makati’s 20:20 with their Drag Disco Thursdays served as homes for drag performers and their patrons. More young people are exploring drag as an art form with the help of shows like Rupaul’s Drag Race hitting mainstream success.

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Three young professionals working behind the counter about what it takes to keep Manila’s nightlife vibrant Words by MONINA CHUA Photography by KEVIN CANTOS

IT WAS DURING my last year of college when I braved through the night as a waitress. My part-time shift started by the time pink skies seized the afternoon. This meant hurrying from my majors, which ended just before the clock hit four. Upon arriving, I swept the cigarette-filled floors, wiped the cloudy tables, and huddled with the team for any last-minute announcements. Needless to say, I was always beat but never burnt-out. Because beneath it all, I was happy. My mind has never been more alive and, as a writer, best believe it when I say this is rare. And this was just within six months of serving. Among many takeaways, I met people from the industry who are dedicating their youth to mastering the craft behind the bar. At such a young age, they are pushing the boundaries of local food and beverage as they reshape the perception to what it really is: art.

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yassie lorenzo

@yassielorenzo barista, The Curator

Yassie Lorenzo, a barista at The Curator, stumbled upon her passion for coffee four years ago. After bagging the top prize at the Philippine Coffee in Good Spirits competition, she’s headed to Brazil for the world championship in November. The same goes for David Abalayan, who is a bartender at OTO. David has spent a good five years and counting in the food and beverage industry, and after finding solace in creating thrilling and thirst-quenching drinks, the daily night shift has become his niche. David’s flow and flair behind the bar led him to become a finalist in the local portion of bartending competition World Class earlier this year. Patrick Curitana is the former head chef and mastermind of Dulo’s kitchen, whose experimental but homey approach on dishes raised the bar for drinking hubs in Poblacion. Currently part of the kitchen staff at Your Local, he continues to express his passion through gastronomical adventures.

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What’s the difference between working a night shift as opposed to a morning one? Yassie: I’m a barista at the place where I work and it also happens to be a bar at night. I’ve had the opportunity to do a bartending shift there and at another bar, too, so I’d say that the difference would have to be the customers. Often, most people who get coffee in the morning are there for routine: their daily caffeine kick, a break from work, or coffee while working or between meetings. The ones who get it late in the day are mostly just catching up with friends or family, studying, etc. At night, I noticed that cocktail guests are there mostly for social gatherings and people really take their time to relish their drink. As for consumption, coffee customers have their daily limit and cocktail guests order one after the other most of the time. Also, coffee operating hours are longer compared to cocktails. Patrick: You get to see and spend time with your family and friends

when you’re on the morning shift. David: Definitely the time schedules. When most of my friends are having fun or eating dinner, I’m still working through the night. What’s the worst misconception about your profession? What can you say to contradict this? Patrick: That the kitchen is a war zone and chefs are a-holes. It’s really about perspective. Yassie: I guess the worst misconception about my job is that making coffee is “easy,” that it’s “just making coffee.” It’s not. From the information of the bean: origin, varietal or cultivar, the process of the beans, roast profiles, the flavor notes to mastering different techniques for different brewing methods, how changing one parameter can either make or break your coffee, calibrating espresso, the water, latte art—I could go on and on. In short, it is very complicated. It takes a while to know coffee and to be thoroughly familiar with the character of it. David: Everyone thinks I’m always drunk. It’s definitely not the case

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patrick curitana @keithcuritana chef, Your Local

though. It’s still a job, I still have to be professional about it, or at least, sober enough to complete orders. What’s the best thing you’ve learned working behind the counter? David: I learned how not to show stress under pressure and I definitely became better at public speaking. Yassie: The fact that as much as we can, we should be kind to people. Every day, we get to connect to people from different walks of life. We never know what they’re going through. Not just to our guests but to our colleagues, too. Being kind goes a long way. Patrick: That I am not alone and I need to depend on others. Growing up I was used to doing things all on my own. Why did you decide to pursue this career among many others? David: I was supposed to take up a music business degree course but that didn’t work out. And since I had all the free time to spare, I took a part-time job in a small restaurant, something short-term. Eventually it led me to stay

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for five years in this industry. Patrick: Because in this industry, creating and learning doesn’t stop and that’s what keeps me going in life. Yassie: I decided to pursue this career because I wholeheartedly enjoy what I do. I fell in love with every single thing that came along with coffee, and there isn’t a single day where I was like, “Ugh, work again tomorrow!” Among your creations, which one are you most proud of? Patrick: Clam miso soup with smoked potato purée and smoked mushroom bao because guests had a really great experience when they first tried these dishes. [These dishes were created when Patrick was the head chef of Dulo.] Yassie: Siamese Dream, I’d say. It’s one of the drinks I presented during this year’s Philippine Coffee in Good Spirits Championship. I’m proud of this drink because I want more people to become aware that the flavors that pair well with coffee aren’t just limited to nuts, chocolate, vanilla, spices, bananas,

oranges, etc. It could be paired with citrus, fruity, and floral ingredients as well. Second: espresso martinis and Irish coffees also are the drinks that come into people’s minds when thinking about coffee cocktails. What do those drinks have in common? The coffee usually tastes dark and bitter and the alcohol straightforward, often harsh. Coffee cocktails could be enjoyed in a refreshing way too. David: I would have to say the drink I made for the first challenge of the World Class competition. It had brown butter-washed bourbon, milk-washed corn tea vodka, wine and coconut reduction, and balsamic lavender syrup. [laughs] Yeah, there was a lot going on in that one drink. I named it after my grandmother, Violeta. What’s next for the local F&B scene? David: A generation of bartenders finally owning their own bars. I really believe it’s about time that happens. Patrick: I am not really sure but I got really inspired and excited about what’s to come, especially after Chef Jordy Navarra presented

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david abalayan @davidabalayan bartender, OTO

"The Wild and Untamed Flavors of the Philippine Islands" in Madrid. I’m sure a lot of local chefs got inspired to do better and work harder on their craft. Yassie: In my opinion, I think we’re slowly going to practice sustainability and being more resourceful in bars, coffee shops, and restaurants. Changes could be made but we really have to put effort into it. It isn’t easy, but it’ll definitely be rewarding. What’s your biggest goal as a chef, bartender, and as a barista? Patrick: To be really good in what I do in order to inspire others and lead them to their own success. Yassie: Becoming a world champion would be insane, but I’d like to open my own coffee shop and roastery one day that doesn’t only serve great joe and grub–I want it to be a place where people feel like they belong, somewhere they’d want to go to even when they’re feeling down since it’s their happy place—where people could come together, become

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friends and eventually turn into family. Kind of like how The Curator is to me. David: I really do feel like there’s still a lot of people who don’t see drinking as a social activity and, as a bartender, I want to change that perception on alcohol. You don’t have to get drunk whenever you go drinking and you go out with friends. What’s one virtue someone with your job should have? David: Patience. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you wanna last in the industry, if you wanna be the best, you gotta be patient. Mastering things take time, so you need patience for that. Patrick: [Working in the kitchen] requires humility and open-mindedness. Yassie: Enthusiasm. A barista should always be excited or interested in learning new things about coffee, being in a café every single day as well: pulling spros, brewing joes, talking to and meeting a lot of people, being down to trying different things, too.

Any advice for aspiring chefs, bartenders, and baristas? Yassie: You have to really enjoy what you do. Constantly practice and continuously learn. Coffee crawl, become friends with baristas and other people who have a passion for coffee like you, participate in coffee events, join public cuppings, watch coffee competitions and join one eventually, too! Patrick: Grow as a person from the experience and strive for perfection and that means making people happy. That is what this is all about. David: What sets anyone apart–not just bartenders–is the ability to learn, relearn and, most of all, to unlearn. This is so important to the topic of growth and skill. n

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in protest Bloody pavements and breathless bodies masked with cardboard– these have been the streets of the Philippines under President Duterte’s two-year ongoing war on drugs. We talk to artists who use art as an entryway to revolution. Words by MONINA CHUA Photography by JP TALAPIAN Makeup by JANICA BALASOLLA

When people want to express opposition, they go on a strike or rally. Why use art? Jon: Art, photo, and film [are] just another way to express resistance. It can also be used to explain something through facts in a visual manner. Cha: Actually it’s more of using art “also” and not “instead.” When we use other ways in expressing opposition, it doesn’t mean that we find others ineffective, and even if I make films about my advocacies, I still try to be present in on-ground demonstrations like rallies. We are in a time of fast-paced technology and information-saturated daily lives. This is why we need more creative ways of getting our messages across, catching the attention of our audience, and influencing decision makers. It is the perfect time to recognize the power of film and art in raising awareness about social issues, to initiate discourse, and make people care about issues they weren’t paying attention to before. Tona: Sabi ni Ai Weiwei, “Everything is politics, everything is art.” Baka personal lang na opinion, but art can only do so much in terms of activism. Gets ko ’yung art moves in spaces where rallies cannot sometimes, pero at the end of the day hanggang exhibition space ka lang. What you do outside your art to directly contribute to the movement is just as, if not more, important.

THE BULLET, A MERE metal object, becomes the ender of dreams, of a childhood lived in innocence and mischief, and a lover’s euphoric escape. It is almost like a script, except it shouldn’t be. There is a name behind each Also, Tona, you come from a well-off family. How do you number. There is a family behind each name. There is think this affects your art and ability to relate to citizens? suffering behind each family. Tona: Privilege changes everything. It is easier to dig and A kilometer away from each crime scene, another find “obscure” new material when you have a desktop and body lies, but in a bed, sleeping soundly. The alarm an internet connection. I always keep this in mind. rings as loudly as the sirens a few hours before. We live in a time where a selected Tell us about any significant population goes through the day "WHAT YOU DO experience where your art has without a shudder, as if walls are inspired someone to do something. enough to silence the howls. OUTSIDE YOUR Jon: My collective started this For the former, the night is a threat project called PUNTO, where and the daylight isn’t any brighter. For ART TO DIRECTLY we were able to distribute the latter, the curse of desensitization cameras to a from what seems to be the gift of CONTRIBUTE TO THE point-and-shoot group of individuals part of the privilege roams the room. They #OccupyPabahay movement. MOVEMENT IS JUST become as numb as the pulse of After this project we were able to those who passed. empower the participants to voice AS, IF NOT MORE, To counter this, there are out their own personal stories and artists who dedicate their time IMPORTANT." aspirations through this project. and artistry to humanize the The mainstream media was victims of extrajudicial killings. giving a lot of negative remarks and Filmmaker Cha Roque uses the power of cinema to depict the anguish of death through black propaganda regarding the Occupy movement, yet with the help of our project we were able to counter what motion pictures. Artist Tona Lopez creates abstract mainstream media was throwing out with the personal pieces through impactful symbols and the art of truths given by the participants of our project. semiology. Photographer and filmmaker Jonathan Cha: Last year, I made an experimental documentary Olarte documents the presence of resistance through about coming out. It features me talking to 13 years of empowering images and thought-provoking shorts. footage of my daughter in an imagined conversation, While art is undeniably powerful, it remains but recreating how I would come out to her as a lesbian. It an entryway to revolution. Its strength is its very was very personal and I did not expect that it would go weakness: It is abstract. These artists recognize that, around film festivals, and that a lot of people around the and they don’t stop at art.

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world would relate to it. When it was shown in Austria and Hong Kong, a lot of LGBT parents approached me after the screening and shared how they were touched and inspired by the film. Some shared having [the] same sentiments and even going through the same experience, and some told me how the film has given them an idea of how to come out to their children. Tona: I’m not “formally trained,” I took up pre-med then multimedia arts. Yes, there was that summer in RCA [the Royal College of Art in London], but I think when labels aren’t highlighted as much it becomes easier for people to think, “Oh, I can do that too.” It was the same for me. Being very upfront with your activism through art, do you ever worry about safety? If you do so, why do you choose to continue? Tona: I do. A friend once told me, “If you stop because you’re scared, they win.” Cha: My film Hapag is a symbolic take on how the war on drugs in the Philippines affects families, and it was part of CineResbak. Though there have been no problems about screenings of Hapag here, I still worry sometimes about the implications of the film for my safety. I’m glad that as of today, filmmakers and artists in the Philippines can still express their sentiments about the government and the other issues that concern us but I fear losing that freedom of expression soon if we let the socio-political situation stay the same. Jon: I’m not really worried. Why should I be? If I die, people will find out and know why it happened. And if I do, I hope it starts an outcry and that people from all generations really start to think about what’s happening around them and start helping to contribute for the greater good. I mean who wants to live in a shitty world like this, anyway? And also if I died, at least I died fighting. Every day, there is devastating news about EJK. Was there any particular news that inspired you to devote your time and energy to fight tyranny? Tona: None in particular. May mga headline na nakaka-stress, more than usual. Pero lahat naman ’yan ay parte ng sistema.

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Cha Roque

Cha: Hapag is inspired by a news item I read about the mother of an EJK victim who doesn’t have enough money to claim her son’s body. She ended up bringing home some of her son’s blood in a plastic container so she would have something to mourn. This struck me about what the

Hapag. 2017.

Back in 2015, I was covering protests regarding the Lumad killings and APEC week for VICE, when my father asked me about what I was doing. As I told him about it, he responded about how I have roots in the Manobo-Mandaya tribe, and how he and my uncles were involved in the people's resistance movement back in the late ’70s. At that moment I was triggerdt to learn more about the peoples’ struggles, my family background and history and actually be part of the resistance movement. How do you think we can put a stop to everything that is happening right now? What is the youth’s place in this? Tona: Spread the right ideas, build alternative spaces, make public art, etc. Can we really change the system now? It seems impossible, This world is so full of contradictions

families of the victims go through. As a mother, I was also very much affected by the stories of Kian delos Santos and Kulot. I was thinking then, they could’ve been my kid. Jon: I grew up in a gated community. I went to a private school for boys [where] all my classmates and friends were rich kids that didn’t give a fuck about what was happening. They like to pray and go to church, yet they can’t give alms to the poor or their families are corrupt politicians and heads of unethical conglomerates.

Hapag. 2017.

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KADAMAY, Block Marcos, SIKAD and RESBAK in antimartial law rally. 2017.

Jonathan Olarte

pero sobrang dami pang pwedeng gawin. The least we can do is work towards it. Jon: The best thing to do to stop everything that’s happening right now is to continue organizing the masses, educate yourself and others regarding the peoples’ struggles, be active in resistance actions. Don’t stop creating, and stay angry. Cha: We need to keep reminding the youth about the dark times in our history so we can realize our faults and not do them again. It is important for the youth to take part in this “revolution” because they will soon have voting power, and they will be the ones stuck in whatever kind of country we leave to them in the future. We should recognize that we have a voice and we should use that voice, it could be through visual arts, music, or cinema, to send a message, educate people, and put an end to the culture of apathy. Since you are very vocal with your activism, have you ever been bashed by ka-DDS or anyone in particular? Jon: Several pointless times. Cha: There was a photo of me with my colleagues in DAKILA in a rally that was made into a meme before. There were a lot of shares and comments but thankfully we did not get personal attacks or threats. Tona: Yes. Almost always I get

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tagged as “dilawan,” which is funny because I criticize the Aquinos just as much. Cha and Jon, film is a powerful medium. As filmmakers, do you have reservations about what to show for the sake of cinema ethic? Jon: I’d show what I want to show. I’d also show what is appropriate and meaningful. As for ethics, I’m not a fan of censorship. As long as my work will help my subjects then it needs to be shown. Cha: All my films so far were selfproduced except for a documentary that was funded by a grant in 2013. I guess this gives me freedom in deciding what to show. But given a funder or producer, I would still be firm in not having reservations in showing what needs to be shown. I would be more concerned about proper portrayals and representations of the subjects I show in my films. Jon, you’ve worked with the music industry for a long time now, but you also have been putting out material that is politically provocative. What was your turning point? Jon: Back then I thought I was–as cringy as the word is– “woke” already. [I was] listening Joey Badass, Pro Era, The Underachievers, and Flatbush

Zombies; locally, Ankhten Brown, Rhxanders, RawMF, and similarobjects. They always had spiritual things to say in their bars. Along with the whole subculture of healing crystals and the rest of the esoteric things in that group. I was really, really into that whole thing. Until a few years ago, I realized a lot of the things that the esoteric culture tackles aren’t even in the physical realm. I mean like they are not entirely tangible. And then when I learned more about politics, I understood the physical manifestations of negative energy. At that point, people like BLKD, Calix, Den Sy Ty, Bambu, and The Blue Scholars were what I was already listening to. They had more concrete things to say regarding a lot of the problems people face in this dimension or reality we are in. Having admired these artists, personally, where do you get inspiration? Jon: As long as there are solutions for all these [political] problems, I will not run out of inspiration. My son Xoce (pronounced as Jose, it’s just spelled in Russian) and Baby Momma Kiri, are big inspirations for me, too. All the others fighting and resisting are also big inspirations.

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Tona, what do you fear the most for the country and how do we stop this from happening? Tona: For a lot of us, what we fear most is already happening. I used to think that the darkest form of tyranny was just about to be seen, but now I know that it’s here. Cha and Jon, tell us about your most rewarding experience as a filmmaker. Jon: Being a photographer and filmmaker allows me to travel and I am also able to see the effects my work has with others. Cha: When Hapag was shown under CineResbak, I was overwhelmed to see artists and filmmakers come together for the same cause and I felt really honored to be part of that. Hapag was also part of the official selection of the 14th IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival, which was held in March 2018 at New Delhi, India, and it felt really great to be part of a festival that celebrated all women filmmakers from around the world. Recently, I was awarded the Art that Matters for Film under Ignite Awards 2018 of Amnesty International Philippines. As an advocate and as an artist, there are times when I question myself and get tired of what I do. This award is a reminder why I make films,

Tona Lopez

This Bubble Is About To Burst. 2018.

why I tell stories. This served as an inspiration to keep on making films about the triumphs and struggles of people. What advice can you share with young aspiring filmmakers or photographers? Jon: Don’t stop shooting. Be patient. Study on your own. Don’t stay comfortable. Check your privilege, understand where it comes from, and use it to help others. Cha: Film, like any other art form, is very powerful in stirring emotions and shaping minds of people. We always say in DAKILA, “Art may not change the world but it can change the way we view the world.” I believe that as artists, we have the responsibility not only to entertain

but also to use our art to help those who cannot raise their voices by telling their stories. Aristotle says that art is the imitation of real life. How do you extend your activism outside of art? Tona: Yes. Artists often get pigeonholed as “political” when in fact the body of work is a snippet or reinterpretation of their reality. Lahat naman ng bagay ay political. I think it’s important to help those who are silenced. They are the ones who need to speak their truths. Recently, for KALASAG, I was tasked to teach the kids how to draw editorial cartoons and caricatures. Malaking bagay din sa activism ang pag-create ng noise. I think the online part is especially interesting given that governments are comfortably weaponizing social media. Uso na ang fake news.

“CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE, UNDERSTAND WHERE IT COMES FROM, AND USE IT TO HELP OTHERS.” Cha: I am part and currently the organizing director of DAKILA. Right now, we are conducting Heroes Hub, a fellowship for selected youth that will train them in both human rights and arts. Jon: My activism extends through being in the actual field, working with my collective and fellow activists. Slacktivism only works to a certain degree. Nothing beats actually being there and talking and learning to and from the victims of systematic oppression. n

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02/10/2018 6:34 PM


What does it take to change the landscape of the local music industry? Or rather, who? Careless Music Manila might just have what it takes. Words by LEX CELERA Photography by JP TALAPIAN Styling by HIDEKI ITO

in fighting form

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FOREVER IS THE most criminally underrated, if not the best, song in “Palm Dreams.” The lyrics are easy enough to understand. For example: You are all I want So much that I put it in a song Can we just stay home We can take turns on the PlayStation

The lyrics, written by James Reid allegedly a month into his relationship with Nadine Lustre last 2016, read like a diary entry. The entirety of “Palm Dreams” shares the same sentiments of desire, excess, and youthful energy bedded in vibrant, relaxed R&B groove. But Forever settles in that sweet spot of vulnerability that catches you off-guard. Out of all of the songs in the album, this track in particular doesn’t exactly call to the fact that the album was made by famous celebrity and one half of power couple JaDine, James Reid. It shouldered the idea that the album would be listened to by anyone who isn’t familiar with James, which makes “Palm Dreams” not your typical run-ofthe-mill artista album, which earns it some artistic merit. While a lot of albums earn acclaim simply because of the name attached, Forever and the rest of “Palm Dreams” pointed out that albums could stand on their own two feet. No other artista could have replicated James' vulnerabilities in Forever, much more the rest of the album. But “Palm Dreams” wasn’t just a contractual obligation nor was it a passion project. When one of the biggest young celebrities in the country is being given full creative control of his own music label and does what James Reid is doing, this is a prime example of what we call a flex. Careless Music Manila, spearheaded by James and Bret Jackson, have been signing potential artists across the country left and right, and have been slowly gaining interest among

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discerning music fans in the country about what they are up to. Right now, Careless are attempting to pull one of the biggest flexes for the foreseeable future, if everything goes well. James didn’t expect “Palm Dreams” to garner so much acclaim, but it sparked something in him to make a move and create his own label. What we’re seeing here is a possible game changer in the making, a force to be reckoned with that is slowly realizing its trajectory. With one foot in the dominating and controlling showbiz industry, and the other in the fringes of the music scene, Careless might just have what it takes to change the local music industry. The name Careless began as an inside joke between friends after hearing a dubstep remix of Careless Whisper. “At first it was just some adlib,” James shared. "And then, it just kind of grew." “We were in Boracay [a few years ago] and we were doing stupid stuff on the beach and one of my friends said, ‘Ang careless mo gago.’ And we just laughed about it,’” shared Bret Jackson, otherwise known as the frenetic, energetic rapper KingWAW in Careless. “And then biglang everyone in Boracay was saying it. They would see us and yell ‘Careless!’ We're like okay, what's going on?” That’s when it stuck. When James was recording “Palm Dreams,” he was asked to give a name for the label. “Careless” James and Bret met onstage as contestants in Pinoy Big Brother: Teen Clash 2010. They quickly became friends after sharing their interests in music, and both signed contracts with Viva Artists soon after. You can still see remnants of their old band WE ARE WHATEVER online–a reflection of their inspirations at the time, including Never Shout Never, whom Bret covered as well. Seven years after Pinoy Big Brother, the two are together again in a label under their creative control with one project each under their name. Joining them are: the equally talented and fellow renegade Nadine Lustre, Dubai-born model and rapper Luke Hassan a.k.a. AstroKidd, Dumaguete-based half-Ghanaian, half-Filipino Haissam "Massiah" Morton, 19-yearold Tacloban native Sofia Romualdez, and rapper-

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(this page) ON BRET: OJK vest, F&H pants (opposite page) ON ASTROKIDD: BALENCIAGA suit, F&H knit top ON MASSIAH: KC PUSING coat, F&H knit top as shoulder warmer ON CURTISMITH: OXYGEN pants ON SOFIA: F&H white hoodie, JANN BUNGCARAS joggers ON NADINE: ALEXANDER MCQUEEN shirt, VALENTINO JEANS denim jacket ON BRET: OSH KOSH B’GOSH jacket, F&H hoodie as scarf ON JAMES: GAP corduroy blazer, F&H inner shirt

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entrepreneur Mito "Curtismith" Fabie. Some of them have only been on the spotlight as early as July’s Scout General Public, and yet as early as now, their actions indicate that they are onto something, and that they are onto something big. Probably something even bigger than all of them put together. “We only work with people we like,” Jeriko Tan, COO of Careless, said while casually sipping coffee. Sharing images of Careless’ recent work trip to Macau and of his motorbike, Jeriko stressed that Careless as a group maintain a strong foundation of friendship to build on. While their debut group mixtape hasn’t reached the public’s ears as of yet, the tracks in the album reveal a polished dynamic between the labelmates. Sofia, the youngest in the group at 19, joined Careless after a chance meeting with Bret in the studio. The two would later work on a song that was never released, along with the rest of the songs from Sofia’s debut project, but the encounter would later bear fruit. “It was over a year ago. He [Bret] introduced me to James and Nadine; they heard my stuff and wanted me to get there.” Thinkin’ Of U, Sofia’s latest track, shares the same pop-R&B sensibilities and lo-fi aesthetic that Careless currently breathe in. Bret was also responsible for bringing in Massiah and Astrokidd, who add trapinfluenced inflections to the table. Before they joined Careless, the two were on different trajectories. While AstroKidd has double degrees in aircraft engineering and marketing management, Massiah just recently shifted from engineering to creative writing in Siliman University. AstroKidd garnered attention after releasing the music video for Skyfall feat. Dalla and Pzycho Sid. ‘[Before

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joining Careless,] I was underground; nobody knew me,” he shared. “I was just making music on the low.” While working on music and enjoying modeling stints, he’s also set to work on his own clothing line in the near future. Meanwhile, Massiah quietly settled in the Dumaguete underground scene working with Midnasty, one of the biggest Bisaya artists. Out of everyone in Careless, he might have one of the widest musical tastes. “YouTube is really my drug. I can watch YouTube for hours.” Curtismith joined Careless “quite organically,” as he put it. The past year, he has placed his energy on things other than music: opening a restaurant in La Union and learning more about financial matters. He put his music career to a stop after imploding on Twitter in lieu of allegations of misogyny and being a Marcos apologist, both of which he has categorically denied. Regarding the issue, he has only this to say: “It's useless to fight it. I need to just channel my energy where I would want the things that I can control, doing more good work, regardless of people noticing, and sticking to my values.“ His polarizing image notwithstanding, his lyricism and penchant for laidback beats proves an interesting addition to the posse. “IDEAL” and “Soully, Yours” were both projects that inked Curtismith’s name in the local music scene, and which contributed to the growing appeal of music that had none of the hallmarks of local formulaic pop, but had still the capability to be recognized internationally.



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When it comes to dealing with the media and the general public, no one in Careless knows more than Nadine and James. For the past few years, the two have been basking in the limelight, both together and as their own respective artists. Trust me when I say that their fans are as allconsuming and all-judging whenever their names are mentioned anywhere online. And the two are very well aware as well. When the name “Careless Music Manila” surfaced as the name behind the Nadine-directed music video for “Palm Dream”’s The Life on Dec. 15, 2017, there was some backlash on the name. “There [were] a lot of haters, bashers, and they started calling me careless,” James shared. “I thought it’s funny; it gives me no guilt because for me, careless is I don’t give a f*ck.” For James, music has always been his first passion and with helming Careless, he’s set to make his mark for himself. When he started with “Palm Dreams,” he “was just making music that he thought was cool.” But with the album’s release, the decadent, indulgent music videos, the lustful lyrical content–it changed his public image. It was like uncovering a mask. For him, that’s catharsis. We live in a country where music, cinema and television are strictly identified as entertainment. Actors sing and dance on Sunday noontime shows while singers and dancers land roles in movies and teleseryes. For the same pool of people to venture into politics wouldn’t be surprising. It’s all too normal for us. To disrupt this line of thinking, this status quo, is to be labeled improperly as “indie,” and as different. But the butchering of the word “indie” aside, different is fine.


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It’s great. It’s in this ambiguity that Careless thrive in and are able to create. Careless aren't D.I.Y. by any stretch–they are under Viva, after all–but the group represents a shift in taste when it comes to what and how people consume media. While some would conveniently dismiss James and company as a mere industry plant, as another iteration of the showbiz industry’s glacial step into what the kids are into, Careless, the label, the group, the sum of its parts could maybe give the man a middle finger by throwing the rule book out the window and potentially changing the landscape of what constitutes as OPM. I mean, JaDine is already doing that in the film industry, right? James, Nadine, Bret, Sofia, Mito, Luke, and Haissam aren’t just the members of Careless; they are joined by graphic artists, photographers, and producers–artists that know the score when it comes to what the kids are into today. People who would have had to grind for years before earning a break. The attitude to collaborate with young, deserving artists is already a move that would contribute as to why Careless have been dubbed as “pushing the culture.” Pushing the culture. A phrase in some social circles, particularly the hip-hop, skate, and indie scene know all too well. What does it mean? James’ take is a personal one: “It is not the type of culture that gets to be put on TV. I think now’s the time. The generation now is like. . .Filipinos are hella cool. They’re hella stylish and there’s so much talent but it’s just not getting out right.” For far too long, the entertainment industry in its intentionally myopic vision maintained its perpetual chokehold on its artistas while maintaining their “para sa masa” rhetoric. Maybe it does take someone who knows the system well enough, someone with the machinery and public image to take it down. But it does take more than one person to build it back up, and Careless–the name they call themselves now a misnomer–are well-equipped, and more importantly, not lacking in any foresight.

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“Palm Dreams” was one of the few albums from an artista that caught my attention last year, and their debut mixtape–tentatively dubbed “Careless Music Vol. 1”–will be a whopping 15-track project that’s technically been years in the making; a result of collaborations between numerous talented individuals working on a singular vision. After that, each artist is set to roll out their own individual project. They’re also in talks to do a tour in the United States, and in time, sign more artists. They’re not limiting themselves to the neon-lit, moody pop, trapflavored mix they currently have. Bret mentions hoping to sign some rock bands next year, some of which he has already scouted.

By the time this story gets published, Careless–all them rowdy, calculated boys and girls–would have already been celebrating the release of their debut mixtape. As “Palm Dreams” and “Island City Poems” indicated, the most promising quality from this group is their willingness to act on what they think is good, supplemented by natural talent and informed by their capacity to make their projects happen. Whatever their next moves are, they are a force to be reckoned with. They already have the eyes of both the local music circles and the bigwigs up in corporate media. I think they’re well aware of that, which is why they’re anything but careless. n


Hair and makeup by PAM ROBES Grooming by JANICA BALASOLLA

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ON NADINE: BALENCIAGA blazer, JANN BUNGCARAS pink organza coat, NIKE shoes ON JAMES: F&H inner shirt, PR()BLEM blazer, NIKE shoes

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after hours

Different perspectives of the night from the archives of five image makers

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aisha causing



ed enclona

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carlo nuĂąez

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shayne lopez

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david felix @samfelix

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In collaboration with The Flying Lugaw, we created a contemplative music playlist for late night drives Illustration by MARTIN DIEGOR Welcome to The Sound Pool: a collaborative column between the semi-anonymous founders of independent zine-style blog The Flying Lugaw and SCOUT. The Flying Lugaw has meticulously and relentlessly documented the so-called “music scene” via event coverage, album and song reviews, and thought pieces shared on social media. Together, we explore the ins and outs of the local independent scene through editorial content. In collaboration with The Flying Lugaw, we present a curated list of songs to play during the times we spend on the road when it’s late at night. This playlist includes local and international artists, and is suited for times of solitude, reflection, longing, and conversation starters.

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Real Estate – Talking Backwards Ang Bandang Shirley – Ono James Vincent McMorrow – Higher Love Death Cab for Cutie – I Will Follow You Into the Dark The Perisher – Nothing Like You and I Iron & Wine – Such Great Heights George Ezra – Budapest A Fine Frenzy – Ashes and Wine Ourselves the Elves – Uncertainly Rusty Machines – Can’t Hardly Wait Ciudad – Walking Home with Her The Geeks PH – I’m Leaving You Alone Citizen – The Night I Drove Alone Turnover – Pure Devotion Lorde – Liability Identikit – Weird Just Friends Ciudad – Friday Noon Eggboy – Lost with You Ciudad – There’s a Lonely Road to Sunday Night

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