a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past. something done or presented in order to evoke feelings of nostalgia ORIGIN late 18th cent. (in the sense ‘acute homesickness’): modern Latin (translating German Heimweh ‘homewickness’), from Greek nostos ‘return home’ + algos ‘pain’.
STACHE an online magazine for and by the creative youth
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JARED CARL MILLAN EDITOR IN CHIEF
CINDY HERNANDEZ ASSOCIATE EDITOR
NINA PINEDA ASSISTANT EDITOR
NESSA SANTOS TRAVEL EDITOR
ECKS ABITONA FASHION EDITOR
ELLIE CENTENO MUSIC EDITOR
MAINE MANALANSAN MARKETING DIRECTOR
COCO MACEREN MARKETING ASSOCIATE
M A R Y N Y R I E N E S I LV E S T R E WEB DEVELOPER
Mica Agregado, Mika Bacani, James Bernabe, Alyssa de Asis, Tzaddi Esguerra, Ches Gatpayat, Daniela Go, Patricia Mapili, Jessan Miramon, Vince Puerto, Marella Ricketts WRITERS
Alfonso Bassig, Gian Franco Bernardino, Karla Bernardo, Tonie Moreno
Christienne Berona, Mayee Gonzales, Ian Guevarra, Jash Manuel, Mariah Reodica
CONTENTS DECEMBER 2013
C OV E R S T OR Y “The Sound of his Music” WRITTEN BY JARED CARL MILLAN
PHOTOGR APHED BY JASH M A NUEL
T HE NOSTA LGI A ISSU E
OPI N IONS
City Under Siege BY GIAN FR ANCO BERNARDINO
Us Children BY JARED CARL MILLAN
Immobilized BY BE A AUSTUDILLO
T R AV E L
Sonder BY I E VA J A N K
Peace and Laundry BY JESSICA SA NTI AGO
Smoke Me a Kipper, I’ ll be Back for Breakfast BY NESSA SANTOS
Beloved, Part Two BY KRISTINA PETROSIUTE
On Sicily BY MONICA FORSS
FA SH ION
On Longing BY JASH MANUEL
Their Fearful Symmetry BY CHRISTIENNE BERONA
The Return of the 90s Fashion BY ECKS ABITONA
The Death of the Supermodel BY ECKS ABITONA
Kicks that Stick BY GIAN FR ANCO BERNARDINO
CONTENTS DECEMBER 2013
C OV E R S T OR Y “The Sound and the Fury of Raymond Ang” W RITTEN BY MARIAH R EODICA
PHOTOGR APHED BY JASH M A NUEL
T HE NOSTA LGI A ISSU E
C U LT U R E
Carnival Teacups BY K EV IN BAUTISTA
Nostalgia BY HANNAH GORDON
Periodic Dramatic BY CINDY HER NA NDEZ
Nana BY BE L L E M A PA
Clinking in Clandestine BY GIAN FR ANCO BERNARDINO
Rewind Forward BY RYA N PA L E R MO - G R E E N E
The N Word BY K ARLA BERNARDO
Questions BY W INA PUA NGCO
Follow the Leader BY MARIAH R EODICA
That’s so 1975 BY JARED CARL MILLAN
Tasting America BY ELLIE CENTENO
CONTENTS DECEMBER 2013
C OV E R S T OR Y “Her Sense and Sensibility” W R ITTEN BY NINA PINEDA PHOTOGR APHED BY JASH M A NUEL
T HE NOSTA LGI A ISSU E
Spazzkid BY MARIAH R EODICA
An Hour with R yan Cayabyab BY ALFONSO BASSIG
Nostalgia: A Discourse BY TONIE MORENO
JP Cuison BY NESSA SANTOS
The Polaroid Project BY NESSA SANTOS
Camp Symmetry BY NESSA SANTOS
MKTO Live in Manila BY NINA PINEDA
Last Dinosaurs in Manila B Y A N T ON S A LVA D OR
CONTRIBUTORS DECEMBER 2013 - JANUARY 2014
Belle Mapa is a Creative Writing major who constantly questions the purpose of genres. One day, the sharpness of her eyeliner wings will parallel that of her mind and tongue.
Hannah is a nineteen-year-old who’s afraid to be twenty. She hopes to someday write a book that will probably only sell two copies (both to her mother).
Ieva Jasinskaite is 20 years old. She is Lithuanian but is now living in the United Kingdom, and is studying Philosophy and Film. She has a special place in her heart for street photography.
Ever since his first concert Ken GrandPierre knew that concerts were where he wanted to be. Ken has shot concerts a throughout New York and the United States, as well as working with countless acts from various corners of the world.
Jessica F. Santiago, a U.P. journalism graduate, studied in the States on scholarship from January to May 2012. She currently edits synopses for various shows in a Philippine television network.
Marlee Banta is a 19 year old artist focusing on film photography. She is currently residing in Portland, OR, attending Portland State University. Still a Flickr user, you can find more of her photography at http://www.flickr. com/photos/marlee_is_awake/
Danielle is a first year fine arts student in UPD and is into alternative comics, illustrations and prints. She selfpublished her first comic compilation “dirty laundry and other stories” last November 2013.
I’m a 21 y.o. person. I’ve got frail health and get tired easily, allergic to both nature and the city (pollen & dust mites) which partly explains why I spend most of my time in a vacuum sealed home. BreatWhing in recycled air.
Alyssa Nilsen is a Norwegian photographer and music journalist. Shooting concert photos and portraits of bands and artists, she combines her passion for music and visual art in a perfect mix.
C O O N T R I BU TO R S
Olivier Lestoquoit has an innate interest in music and photography and has combined these two by shooting live bands. He now works in the field of communication, web and audiovisual projects but currenty focuses on concert photography.
Wina Puanco writes small fiction and runs MoarBooks, a small press. For more of her writing visit thechlorineatomgirl.wordpress. com and/or facebook.com/ MoarBooksOnline
These days, Bea thrives best hermitstyle. She once organized a Department of Tourism-sponsored arts and music festival dedicated to local culture and travel. She has suffered from Bitchy Resting Face syndrome since childhood.
Kuna Zero is a fictional character in nature. He seeks to find meaning in his life, that which was created by another, through the art of writing. He is here.
Alekxandra Toyhacao owes her enduring patience to three younger siblings whom she loves. Geeks over art, theater, culture, Doctor Who, and anything British. She will write for you! Tweet @mayoralekx
Berlin Mitchell has been bleeding ink since she was a small little thing. She lives humbly but with no lack of adventure. Her soul scours the forests searching for secrets.
Isa Grassi is a 22 year old artist. Born in Brazil and raised in Italy, Isa moved to San Francisco at the age of 19. She’s currently an Illustration major at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
With so much drama in his part of QC, it’s kinda hard being Jethro D-O Double G, but he - somehow, some way, keep coming up with funky ass shit like every single day.Jethro Jamon is terrible at writing rap music.
Natasha Ringor is an illustrator with a fascination for the old and romantic. She loves reading 70s shoujo manga which is often reflected in her own work.
Faith once had a mustache phase when her hormones went out of whack. A literal mustache, yes.
Nick Corke is tall, handsome, and looking for love. The right person should be willing to watch sci-fi shows with him, listen to him talk about graphic design, and should find his silly butt dance endearing. No stalkers please.
At the age of four, Kevin has memorized the capitals of the world. He has also memorized dictionary entries, starting with “ache”. (Back then, aardvark wasn’t in the children’s dictionary.)
C O O N T R I BU TO R S
NEW YEAR, O L D L E AV E S Editor’s Letter December 2013 -January 2014 For the longest time I wanted to make a “Nostalgia Issue” for Stache, but the right opportunity never came up until two months ago, when the entire team realized that the magazine is turning three. So what better way to celebrate the anniversary than to look back on the past and simply reminisce. One of the many reasons why we decided to go with “Nostalgia” was because 2013 has been a particularly blessed year for the team. First we won the Globe Tatt Awards, which was amazing. Second we got to interview The National for our annual music issue, and because they are one of my favorite bands ever, it was easily one of the highlights of my year. Third, just as always, we got the chance to interact with a lot of artists all over the world, further strengthening our drive to cultivate the creative minds of the youth. And we hope we are able to do this online endeavor for much longer because we
believe in the youth. This issue we tackle a lot of things from the past, from the 1900s (our associate editor Cindy Hernandez wrote about the appeal of period dramas) to the 1960s (three of our illustrators gave their own takes on the iconic 60s advertisement posters), to the 1990s (our fashion editor Ecks Abitona talked about the death of the elusive supermodel). And we have three artists who excel in their particular fields as our cover persons. There is Felix Zenger, the world famous beatboxer; Raymond Ang, one of the best young writers in the country today; and Celina de Guzman, whose artworks are breathtakingly stunning. So-at the risk of being cliche-sit back, relax, and take a trip down memory lane with us. Have a happy holiday and a happier 2014. Cheers! o
JARED CARL MILLAN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
C O O N T R I BU TO R S
OPINIONS EDITED BY JARED CARL MILLAN
ON TYPHOON HAIYAN A political piece on the most powerful typhoon to ever make land fall, and its aftermath. BY GIAN FR ANCO BERNARDINO
ON CHILDOOD A personal piece about childhood and growing up and why we will always children. BY JARED CARL MILLAN
ON MODERN TECHNOLOGY A lifestyle piece about mobiles phones and the instantaneous life in the age of the Internet. BY BEA ASTUDILLO
A CIT Y U NDE R SI EGE
A piece on Yolanda, the tragedies that swept the nation, and the far-reaching reverberations. WORDS BY GIAN FR ANCO BERNARDINO ILLUSTR ATION BY A LYSSA DE A SIS
Days have passed as they try to survive on what bits and pieces they can, the flow of rations and victuals trickling down as opposed to the flood of help they expected and needed. What were once the basic necessities available to everyone are now luxuries that are hoarded and kept by their supposed principals. Each day was no longer just another day but a battle for survival, grounds that once held the laughter of children were now filled with tears, what used to be a place of learning was replaced with the remnants of what used to be a thriving city.
A child walks hand in hand with an older lady. No, it’s not
his mother, it’s his teacher who has been caring for the child since the disaster that was Typhoon Yolanda.
It’s been days and they have been surviving off relief goods
that have barely made it to their location. Food and water is scarce and everyday is a fight for survival in a place that they once called their second home. They tread the hallways of the ravaged school-that-oncewas that could have easily been mistaken for a battle ground.
“Ma’m, may patay po kayo sa classroom.” A teacher aide whis-
pers to the teacher. Her momentary charge overhears and makes a break for it.
“Nanay at tatay ko po yun!” he shouts after finding their bod-
ies within the wreckage. These kinds of
Don’t worry”; to the despondent “Kuya,
heart-wrenching atrocities are those that
patay na si nanay at tatay”. To the tales
can only be discovered in the waging of
that carried all over social media, those
war, or in an environmental calamity.
individuals full of thanks for the help
Just another of the atrocities that
they received, and the scathing words of
happened, of childhoods stolen and fami-
those who held nothing but scorn for the
agencies involved. Yet through it all when
words have been said and forgotten what
This is one of the many tragedies
that have seemed to have spread like a
truly matters are the deeds that we do.
plague and blanketed the land of Visayas.
And there are many more that have been
farther than deaths and displacements.
told and untold.
To those that have survived, the future
Like the story of the survivor’s letters,
still looks uncertain as millions have been
that have been passed through news
teams, to their families around the world,
homes have been destroyed, and micro-
which give a great summary of the events
economies have collapsed. Schools, busi-
nesses, hospitals, have all been destroyed,
place in Tacloban. Some letters are hope-
leaving millions of citizens to survive
ful: “We are okay. Do not worry about
off the relief goods being transported to
us.”, some hopeless. “Kuya, patay na si
nanay at tatay.” and yet what matters is
what we do
just that. After battling for their survival
after all the dust has settled.
our countrymen are now faced with the
Some stories held promise with
seemingly insurmountable task of re-
some letters saying that “We’re okay.
building what was lost. As millions upon
Yet the suffering extends much
And in the end it is more than
millions of goods, properties, and livelihoods were devastated by the storm. The structures of what was once a great city were now ghosts of what they once were. A once independent people that thrived on the fruit of their own labor is now forced to rely on the mercy of others, mercy that seems forthcoming or is it? Will their indomitable spirit withstand the challenges that they are now facing.
It will take billions of dollars to restore the damage that has
been done to the city, but no amount of money will give back to us what was lost. And even though the Filipino faces tragedy everyday in the face of poverty, and corruption, the spirit itself is incorruptible.
The situation at Tacloban doesnâ€™t get any easier to witness
regardless of relief operations or not. There are many kind souls and genuine good samaritans out there, but there are at the same time, vultures that are ever present. Relief goods being sold in stores, government officials self-rpomoting on them, repackaging and distributing goods in varying degrees based on political relations, whether they voted for the mayor or not.
315 kph were recorded at the highest windspeeds for typhoon
yolanda. To paint a better picture, thatâ€™s tornado speeds at hurricane scale. Imagine a tornado that stretched out over an entire region.
Thatâ€™s basically the story of Twister on a much larger level,
combined with torrential rain that swept away anything the wind left behind. Ultimately, the typhoon reportedly took 10,000 lives and dealt over $2 billion dollars in damages.
The local and international response to the calamity has been
subject to much scrutiny and whether the relief operations have been adequate is still in question. However, we can be sure of one thing: That we still need to continually send in efforts for the survivors of the typhoon.
Even though the Filipino faces tragedy everyday in the face of poverty and corruption, the spirit itself is incorruptible.
Overseas the relief effort has been overwhelming. Internation-
ally, funds of up to FUNDS have been raised by governments, NGO’s, and individual efforts. Now despite the fact that the needed amount of monetary funding for a complete restoration of Tacloban reaches $2 Bbillion, we have slowly been climbing towards that goal. Donations at the moment have reached a staggering P 3.8 billion. This is a very good sign of progress toward achieving that goal. Given the circumstances, and the hurdles that have been impeding our progress such as government corruption, logistical difficulties, and the sheer weight of the undertaking that is ahead of us, we are still making progress towards the restoration of Tacloban and its neighboring cities.
But not all is lost. Amidst the wreckage, the spirit of the Fili-
pino people remained intact. It did not succumb to the travesties that swept houses to our feet. That flooded structures that towered over us.
The winds may blown away our rooves, but no rain could wash
away the courage, the vitality, and will of the Filipino. With what little the citizens of Tacloban had, with all the destruction that amassed through the streets, a single parol lit up a tree made out junk, and other shiny things stood like a pillar that said to the people “There is hope, a Christmas goes on.” And this was just the beginning. While there is still so much yet to be done, we are making progress. o
US CHIL DR E N
One way or another, we will always be the children we once were, and it’s not particularly a bad thing. WORDS BY JAR ED CARL MILLAN PHO TO G R A PH BY PAT R IC K BR E I T E N B AC H
ough love is the only love I know. I say that not because it makes a good opening sentence to a personal piece, which it
does, but it has about it enough factual weight. I have had on all objective accounts a happy childhood. I had food on my plate and clothes on my body and a roof above my head and although things could have been better, it was a good home situation. But it is the way with which my parents—particularly my mother—brought me up that shaped me most as a person.
Whenever we did something bad or were particularly un-
ruly, particularly lazy we received a spanking with a leather belt. On the off chance that we happen to talk back to either of our parents during an argument, my sister and brother and I knew a painfully crisp slap or two on either cheek will be coming our way. In school I never had a grade on my report card lower than a B (even at a young age I knew that consequences befall me if ever that had happened), but when my sister got a C on Mathematics she wasn’t allowed to watch the television for a month—even during weekends. We weren’t allowed the playstation during weekdays, and whenever my brother and I wanted to use it we needed first to read a chapter or two from a book, after which we had to then sum up what we had learned and recite it before our mother or our father,
and even then access to the games console weren’t guaranteed.
There are no perfect parents, perfect families; there are a lot of
things that, on hindsight, my parents could have handled differently, could have handled better. My mother, for example, had wanted to enroll me when I was eleven or twelve or maybe even thirteen into a Taekwondo class because I wasn’t “manly enough.” I do not remember what had happened then, and why that plan didn’t push through, but she ended up sending me instead to a summer camp our then church held every year. My mother, for example, would get so angry at us every time we would get sick as though it was our fault for having a fever that to this day I am afflicted with a debilitating fear of getting sick. But my parents were never unreasonable people. They always told us at the outset of every spanking, every slap why it was needed to be done. They loved us and they wanted us to be good, disciplined people. Even as a child I understood that thesis, and I don’t doubt that my sister and my brother do as well.
I suspect that is the reason why I have so little tolerance for
bullshit, why I rarely, if ever, accept excuses. I was brought up in the ethic that I if there’s a will, there’s a way, the rest is simply incompetence. I may at times come across as cold and standoffish, but my mother had been cold and standoffish and I guess one way or the other we become our parents.
One’s formative years is crucial to a person’s life not only be-
cause it is during this period wherein we learn all the things we need in order to cope with life’s machinations, but it is when the mind is at its most pliable. The things we learn early are the things that will forevermore stick with us. I grew up in a Christian household, and although I do not anymore believe in the absurdity of organized religions, my sensibilities have always been rooted in the moral lessons I learned in Sunday school. When our maid told me when I was six to give an old homeless woman money by way of respect (“everyone deserves respect,”
One’s formative years is crucial to a person’s life because it is when the mind is at its most pliable. she said, “and that’s the only way we can show her respect.”), I didn’t know that this would be something I would still be doing when I am twenty two, the error in her premise notwithstanding.
How many of us still eat around the bruised part of a fruit?
How many of us still believe that there is a moral lesson in every story, that the good will always triumph evil simply because those were the narrative in all the stories we were told as children?
I have always been a firm believer in good manners and right
conduct, in knowing how to place one’s silverware after eating, in the importance of talking to one’s elders with courtesy and respect. Those were the lessons of my childhood, along with the importance of the book and the virtues of memorizing the multiplication table. I never got around to memorizing it because I despise mathematics; I had trained my mind not to excel in any and all mathematical endeavors because I so disliked it as a child it had stuck with me since. In brief we will always be the children we once were; for better or for worse the foundations of our very being, from the very turns of our minds to the simple act of holding a door for someone, has always been with us.
Of course people change, attitudes change, perspective change.
But I suppose if we have been raised right, if we have had a good upbringing in the first place, there would be no reason to root for the bad guys, nor would there be any reason not to believe that people reap what people sow. In the meantime, I would still not recommend eating that dark patch in an otherwise healthy-looking apple. After all, I hear it can make you sick. o
I M MOBI L I Z E D
Some of us can recall life before mobile phones, but for many reasons find it difficult to return to it. Do we have to? WORDS BY BEA ASTUDILLO ILLUSTR ATION BY TZADDI ESGUERR A
n 2002, at ten years old, I got my first mobile phone. At the time, I didn’t realize that a monumental shift in my life had begun to take
place in the form of a chunky grey Nokia 3210. Given by my parents and shared with my older sister, my first phone was intended to be a tool for easily contacting our parents whenever we were out of the house. As I was of the age when I started going out more often without a chaperone, getting a cellphone made sense, and I can imagine the relief that such technology must have afforded my overprotective parents. I recall having other purposes for that first cellphone, particularly playing hours of Snake and Space Impact, sending graphic greetings via text to my friends, and, to my sister’s dismay, striking up conversations with some of her own friends whom I looked up to.
Eleven years and at least six cellphones later, there are too many
changes with regard to my relationship with mobile phones and my overall circumstances in life than what I’ve been conscious of until now. It can be argued that mobile phones have simplified many tasks in life besides communication, and also increased users’ opportunities to engage in more activities. But it doesn’t take much pause for one to question whether the latter effect somehow negates the former.
Today, the most popular mobile phones are endlessly useful (giv-
ing rise to the name “smartphone”) and ubiquitous. Gone are the days
The constant and varied means to communicate to a wider audience has resulted in a redundant content and gratuitous behavior. of simple calls, SMS, and MMS; today’s
stinctive. Relying on the phone to create
phones allow for a much broader variety
and store all kinds of data, including pho-
of ways to communicate with the differ-
tos, notes, lists, voice recordings, and vid-
ent people we encounter: calls for parents,
eos makes it a more essential device than
texting and chat applications for friends,
most. Googling something or referring to
social media for peers and more general
apps made for specific purposes such as
social groups, email for work and aca-
converting quantities, finding directions
demic contacts—though of course, each
to a physical location, or even consulting
person’s preferred means of communicat-
an electronic person who does things for
ing are as varied as the many functions
you on your phone and responds to any-
of a cellphone. When equipped with an
thing you say is the automatic means to
Internet connection, mobile phones are
solving quandaries big and small.
powerful tools for accessing information
at one’s convenience. It has been called
bile phone are as vast and diverse as its us-
“the generation’s Swiss-army knife”—a
ers, but for the current generation, these
handy tool that makes users feel secure
can be simplified to four points of rel-
because of the connectivity and knowl-
evance: Convenience, which enables the
edge it affords.
making and execution of plans through
For many of us, mobile phones
just a few clicks on a keypad; recreation,
are also intensely habit-forming. If I am
the means to always staying occupied;
any indicator of the cellphone usage hab-
synchronicity, the capacity for real-time
its of my generation, then going to bed
updating; and reach, which pertains to
with the phone within arm’s reach (if not
the scope of one’s audience.
directly beside the pillow) is not uncom-
mon. Checking Instagram, FB, Twit-
ily land on the downside of using a mo-
ter, and Tumblr feeds during downtime
bile phone. Plans can be cancelled with
throughout the day—even when more
as much convenience as they were made,
pressing matters need attention—is in-
as the potentially shameful or guilt-
The uses and benefits of the mo-
But these four benefits can eas-
inducing need to interact with someone
nication did not reach its current degree
face-to-face or even hearing his or her
of ubiquity and expediency. My attempts
voice is eliminated. The accessibility of
to mentally reconstruct the past usually
cellphone-based distractions like games
leave me with more questions than con-
and apps (some of which we perceive as
clusions. Because I came of age and ex-
necessary), along with the means to talk
perienced my adolescent, formative rela-
to people who are not physically present
tionships with a cellphone in my hand, it’s
makes it easier for one to disengage from
hard for me to grasp how people with dif-
the here and now. The constant and var-
ferent mobile phone circumstances lived
ied means to communicate to a wide au-
and interacted. What was trying to build
dience has resulted in redundant content
and maintain friendships like for them?
and gratuitous behavior, spawning de-
How did they start and end love affairs?
bate on proper mobile phone and social
Did people not give up as easily on each
media etiquette. Scholars and the media
other back then, when hearing from oth-
are continuously looking into the nega-
ers entailed patience to wait for landline
tive (and positive) implications of mobile
phone calls or turning on their computer
phone usage not just on physical, mental,
to check for messages sent via the Inter-
and emotional health but also on social
net? Did relationships work out better de-
interactions, political activity, and shifts
spite less communication conveniences,
in art and culture—but those are better
because people weren’t so exposed to the
tackled in other publications.
risk of overthinking electronic words and
symbols like emoticons?
Taking all of these into consider-
ation, it’s easy to think that the most im-
portant question to be asked is whether
es more if switching plans weren’t so easy?
mobile phones are a blessing or a curse to
Would we have healthier self-esteem if
our generation. But if you’ve pondered on
details of other people’s lives, curated to
that as I have—in the midst of the daily
give the most favorable impression, were
barrage of information and compulsive
not so frequently fed to us? Would we
cellphone-related personal habits that are
need less attention and affirmation than
always a challenge to manage—then you
the social media on our phones allow us
may have arrived at the answer, which is
that mobile phones are both.
There are few times when I try
much of the momentous and irreversible
to imagine how life would be if commu-
changes in my life I can attribute to grow-
Would people keep their promis-
In trying to find out just how
ing up with constantly progressing
should we allow our mobile phones
communication technology, or simply
to affect. To what extent and in what
to the fact of life of puberty and the
contexts do we rely on these phones to
colossal act of maturing, I approached
shape our everyday activities, personal
my parents and other members who
interactions, thoughts, and internal
have spent majority of their lives in a
states? And are they really helping us
world where mobile phones were not
live the lives we want?
staple property for their thoughts.
They all agree that, perhaps, owning
made my life immeasurably both easi-
a cellphone indeed makes life a little
er and more problematic. I cannot and
more complicated. My father, who is
will not try to figure out which weighs
55 and was in his 30s when he owned
more, but I do know for sure that us-
his first mobile phone (a huge black
ing a mobile phone has made my life
thing even bulkier than our current
so far more interesting, which is why
cordless landline device at home),
any desire to go back to my cellphone-
summed it up nicely when he said that
free life—or at least to the time when
new conveniences give way to new
all I used it for was to text, call, and
challenges. It’s simply how the world
play games—is fleeting. I do relish
“unplugging” from my phone once in
The ubiquity of mobile phones plac-
a while, and sometimes entertain ro-
es us in a unique circumstance filled
manticized visions of playing board
with paradoxes that members of the
games with friends or learning how
pre-cellphone generation did not have
to skateboard and sending out nice,
to contend with. While being able to
handwritten notes for birthdays and
communicate anytime, anywhere is of
special occasions instead of texting
utmost importance, the value of face-
and surfing the net on my phone, but
to-face interactions has also risen. As
at the end of the day, I know that the
the means to make and maintain con-
presence of distractions on my mobile
tact have increased in number and us-
phone doesn’t take away my chances
ability, so are there new and different
to do these. Though I’ve been con-
ways in which we can screw up our
ditioned to spend a larger chunk of
my time on my phone than if I didn’t
In deciding the impact that mobile
have one, in the end, I own the device,
phones have on our lives, perhaps
not the other way around. If I really
one question that we should ask our-
wanted to pause and go back to that
selves—not just once, but time and
uncomplicated time, I’ll just turn my
again—is how much of our lives
cellphone off and see what happens. o
Owning a mobile phone has
IL LU S T R AT I O N BY J E N NI F E R M U IR
T R AV E L
T R AV E L EDITED BY NESSA SANTOS
SONDER Iceland: a photo essay about strangers and the fleeting but permanent mark they leave in a photographerâ€™s life. BY I E VA J A SI N SK A I T E
PEACE AND LAUNDY An essay about the culture shock of being in a foreign land. BY JESSICA SA NTI AGO
M O N G O L R A L LY 2 0 1 1 Tales from a participant who has survived the challenge. BY NESSA SANTOS
BELOVED PART T WO A tribute. BY KRISTINA PETROSIUTE
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S ONDE R The realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. WOR D S & PHO TO G R A PH S BY I E VA J A SI N SK A I T E
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hese pictures were taken in Reykjavík
last summer. I was wandering around
often so what I do then, is I take pictures
the streets of this beautiful city think-
of random people I pass and get a glimpse
ing, listening to music, and observing the
into their lives. I breathe in, focus and
people. There are a few weeks in Iceland
press a shutter-release button, then I
during the summertime when it does not
breathe out. As soon as they pass by, I feel
get dark. That was the time I happened
safe. I have images of them in my camera,
to be travelling there. For a person who
no one can take it away from me. I know
likes photography it is like getting some
that I might never see them again.
extra hours when you are able take pic-
tures without using a flash, which is equal
raphy. When I take a picture, I am just
to a Christmas gift.
an extra in their life and they are just an
extra in mine.
I once read about a word ‘sonder’
in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.
This realisation strikes me very
That is why I love street photog-
Sometimes I feel a need to find
That is why I love street photography. When I take a picture, I am just an extra in their life and they are just an extra in mine. ‘Sonder’ is a sudden realisation that each
those people and show them their pic-
random passerby is living a life as vivid
tures, sometimes I do that but that is not
and complex as your own—populated
why I like taking pictures of the stran-
with their own ambitions, friends, rou-
gers. Taking pictures of random people
tines, worries and inherited craziness—an
is a way to look around, get away, forget
epic story that continues invisibly around
about myself, and briefly dive into the
you like an anthill sprawling deep under-
lives I imagine them living and melt in-
ground, with elaborate passageways to
side a little bit. Nothing fancy, nothing
thousands of other lives that you’ll never
too special, just some reflections of real-
know existed, in which you might appear
ity, which is so fragile and temporary. I
only once, as an extra sipping coffee in
pass them by, they cross the street, get
the background, as a blur of traffic pass-
into a bus, enter a restaurant, start talking
ing on the highway, as a lighted window
to their friends, and I just carry on living
my life having a few glances of theirs. o
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This is a piece about how doing the laundry as an exchange student in America saved someoneâ€™s sanity from the perils of culture shock. WOR DS BY J E S SIC A S A N T I AG O, PHO TO G R A PH S BY G E ORG WA L L N E R
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he walls were mint green; the floors, white— like the lights brightening the room to recompense for the winter’s stealing the sun. It
was spring at the University of Missouri, Columbia, but not just yet. The laundry room at Mizzou’s Defoe-Graham Residence Hall would have passed for a hospital if it were not for the two stray socks lying by the door and the sheets of fabric softener, white and wasted, near the dryers attached to the wall on the room’s left-most corner.
The students were out living the January weekend before the
next four months of 2012’s spring semester gained enough momentum to catch up with them. No one else was doing the laundry, and it was quiet enough to hear the doogbarumdadoog of one of the twelve washing machines lined neatly in threes across the room. In the language of the laundry room, doogbarumdadoog meant “this thing’s taken; go find another.” High-pitched beeps meant “feed this beast five quarters,” while a washing machine banging against the wall meant “you’re laundry’s almost done.” Then, there was the best sound of all: the soap water sloshing about inside the machine. This meant “come and rest now.”
For the two to three hours it shook in its place, one of those ma-
chines was yours, and its splashing soap water comforted you. It didn’t ask what country you were from or why, for the nth time, you “spoke English so well.” It didn’t ask if you had made any new friends yet. No. It took your clothes in, washed it and gave you space.
In this sanctuary there was no need to explain how it was like
to live in the Philippines, how maybe there was more to it than what people saw on TV, or how, for the love of god, you lived in the city and nowhere near a beach. There was no need to pretend to be happy when most of the time you were pushing yourself to get through the day while fighting off thoughts about how people from home were getting on with their lives without you, or—even sadder—thoughts about what you were doing wrong to have spent most of January eating alone. No.
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Everyone washes clothes, and inside the laundry room you were
just like everyone else—if there was anyone inside in the first place. You weren’t Filipino, British, Brazilian, Australian, Irish or American: You were just a kid, far away from home, trying to do the laundry. And you could do so without saying a word.
Maybe silence was that room’s great equalizer. Denizens of the
laundry room had an unspoken rule not to speak or, if you must speak at all, to speak sparingly. Only small talk was allowed: “Hey, how are you?” To which someone would reply “I’m good.” This was Mizzou’s version of the Philippines’ “kamusta ka na” tango—just as short and awkward in English as it is in Tagalog.
As the semester progressed, “hi” and “hello” would be sprin-
kled with brief stories of monster midterms, sleepless nights and welldeserved trips to a bar on downtown CoMo come Friday night (if you were of age or could pass for it). No longer than five minutes. On other days someone would comment about an ownerless bra on the floor or a missing shirt. But that was it. After the students fed their sweaters and jeans to any available machine, they would leave. Leave you alone to listen to their clothes getting cleaned. It was predictable. It was routine. It was therapy.
Outside, everyone had something to say or something to
scream. There was more telling than showing, and often all at once. Everywhere were young adults indulging in their four-year serving of freedom. Mood music played from their laptops, their cars, and inside the stores they frequented. They travelled in loud, laughing, backpacklugging, club-recruiting, petition-signing packs. And you? You were the lonely visitor, always on your toes, learning to use your words and making sure you picked the right ones to explain exactly what it was you wanted from these spirited locals. A corner of your lip was cracked because the wind was so cold and the burger at Plaza 900 was just too big
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to bite in the winter. The back of your tropical hands ached and were dry and red. Every day you were tired, but you were too far away from home to rest. And you were alone for the first time in your life to figure things out for yourself.
As it was late in January, spring 2012. Your roommate was out
all weekend, and you had spent the entire day before in bed with a bout of homesickness, eating from a giant jar of trail mix flavored with twelve hours’ worth of your tears. Getting dressed and doing the laundry was a way to stop crying.
Inside Defoe-Graham’s laundry room, the white fluorescent
lights and heater replaced the warmth of the tropical sun you had left behind with excitement and anticipation. Tide and Downy were the familiar scents of home, of the t-shirts you had never had to wash yourself until now. Ah, and the washing machines. The washing machines were your friends, the ones who never asked you to explain, but simply took you in, stripped you of your layers and comforted you.
“Shhhh,” they said as they soaked your sweaters and long johns,
“come and rest.”
The room’s silence embraced you as your eyes glazed over with
a layer of disconnection. Zoned out, you watched the water rinse last week’s stains out of this week’s laundry, rubbing it clean until it was ready for re-wearing—a fresh start for the rest of the week and the months to come. Maybe if you couldn’t get the hang of “being in America,” you could at least get the rules of the laundry room down pat. Those rules were much simpler. And in the craziness that was this newfound independence mixed with stale pizza and red Solo cups, simpler was better. o
SMOK E M E A K IPPE R , I ’ L L BE B AC K FOR BR E A K FA S T
Nick Corke recounts the great adventure that is 2011 Mongol Rally. STORY BY NESSA SA NTOS & PHOTOGR APHS COURTESY OF NICK CORK E
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hat is our existence’s paramount purpose if not to see and experience life? To be a living, breathing specimen of experiences and
wisdom that can only be attained by subjecting oneself to the world’s splendor and the risks that inevitably come along with it?
There’s a plethora of people out there who spend their lives sit-
ting around, weaving out intricate dreams about the biggest trip they will ever make – ever-planning, caught in an eternal trance that will take them away from their menial, mundane life. Yet, a diminutive percentage of the quintessential 20-somethings have their “trunks always sticking out from under the bed,” as Jack Kerouac puts it, for they continually wait for an opportunity to visit yet another foreign land, discover other cultures and let madness reign until they experience something that’s one for the books. They go out there to embark on a grand adventure, dropping their innocuous daily schedule in exchange of days of uncertainty, wild escapades and sometimes even danger.
This was exactly what Nick Corke and four other friends did by
joining the 2011 Mongol Rally. Albeit a snap decision made over some drinks in the pub, he says the opportunity goaded him to leave his job and see extraordinary places he thought he would never have the chance to see. It was also for charity, a fact that made it even more enticing. They dubbed themselves with the tagline Smoke Me A Kipper, I’ll Be Back for Breakfast, based on an English TV show from the 90s that suggests something in the lines of, “Don’t worry about me, I’ll be back soon.” In Nick’s words, just put the kettle on and they’ll be back for tea.
Obviously, though exhilarating and nerve-wracking, it was a
gamble. The catch? “You, your mates, a crap car and 10000 miles of the unknown.” In their case – an ambulance had to be driven across Europe
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to Mongolia in six weeks, encountering
tagged along with them and ended up at
one adverse situation after another, put-
some beach chalets next to the coast. We
ting up with people in a cramped space in
woke up in the morning thinking that
an extended period of time, and getting
was the weirdest night.”
to witness the world’s natural exquisite-
ness. The 2011 Mongol Rally participant
ing to Turkmenistan and trying to get
paints us a picture of the highlights, the
to the Door to Hell as they call it – it’s
low downs, and arbitrary memories from
this big hole on the ground that appar-
ently they tried to mine for the gas in the
“Traveling through Turkey, we
1960s. The plan actually fell through,
entered the country, and went to see Is-
the ground collapsed [leaving a huge cra-
tanbul which was great. On our way
ter, so they just decided to incinerate it].
out along the north coast, we were late
What they thought they’d do is just leave
camping for the night so we parked up
it till it burns out, but until now it’s still
in this area – we tented up on the side of
burning. We tried to drive there, however
the road, or what we thought was a nice,
lots of locals were advising against this
safe place. After about an hour of settling
and asking us to pay a hundred bucks
down, the police turned up and we were
each. We thought that was ridiculous
arrested. They took us down to the police
and resolved to head there ourselves. We
station where I have to use Google Trans-
then tried to drive a 3-ton ambulance to
late to explain to them why were traveling
it – subsequently we realized when we got
across the country in a vehicle that looked
to the top of the hill that we were stuck
like an ambulance and camping illegally.
in sand and we spent the next couple of
In order to let us go, they told us to take
hours trying to get out. In the end, we
the sign off the ambulance just in case.
gave up, paid the guy the money, went to
Afterwards we were driving along going,
see the thing, came back and had to work
“Well, what the hell, what the fuck are
out how to get out of the situation. Co-
we going to do now?” Later on we saw
incidentally, a big - about ten or twenty-
some fellow rally drivers and one of them
ton - six wheeler, came past that helped
said that they know someone in the area
us try using towropes but they all broke.
and asked us where we are heading. We
With luck being on our side there were
“Another memorable time is go-
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some people who has metal towropes but
drove off – just like that. In the end we
they had to go get them which took them
left and I think my friend was basically
about half an hour. I spent the whole time
melting on his seat because we were all so
sat in the truck, stopping the guy from
leaving because he had to go somewhere.
We managed to make him stay in the end
Mongolia’s National Health Service upon
and eventually towed us out which was
their arrival in the country – after all the
quite incredible. It was amazing to see
sporadic challenges and amusing circum-
that thing, amazing to be able to get out
stances they’ve found themselves in along
of the sand, and I think it was really for-
They donated the ambulance to
Nick also expounded on how the
“Third one was going to Uz-
trip transformed his life. “It made me see
bekistan and seeing all the mosques
the world in a new way. The preconcep-
there, which are made of bright blue
tions people take comfort in about other
tiles. They’re very beautiful, and they’re
places is quite shocking sometimes – this
some of the oldest mosques in the world.
was something I never thought of before
There’s also another occasion in Uzbeki-
the trip. It also made me realize that the
stan when we stopped for directions to
world is a choice and if you want to go
find some food. My friend went off but
somewhere else, then just do it. I would
never came back. Another one of the guys
also say on that part of seeing and expe-
did the same and never came back as well.
riencing new cultures is just as important
After a while, this drunken Uzbekistan
as sitting at a desk and learning your pro-
guy came up to us inviting us to come
fession. It definitely gave me a more ma-
with him. Finally we all gave up, went
ture outlook on my career and life.”
over to see what’s going on and we all sat
around drinking bowls of vodka. And I
qualms about going on such an important
mean, BOWLS of vodka, and having
trip is having no safety net to fall back
watermelon chasers. We all sat around
onto. However beguiling the idea is, it
drinking and being friends and suddenly
still means having to cope with the big
the people were saying that they had to
black abyss of the unknown, which we are
go. They got into their big trucks and
naturally indisposed to. It is the penchant
Perhaps one of the ultimate
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“It also made me realize that the world is a choice and if you want to go somewhere else, then just do it.” for what is safe and familiar that makes us hold on to meaningless jobs, the fear of this strange, atrocious world that hinders us from living through the kindness of strangers, the nefarious habit of justifying why at the moment, we can only Google bizarre places like Romania or Madagascar or share Facebook posts about the “25 Most Interesting Places in the World.”
We are born in abundance of things we didn’t choose
for ourselves – family, social status, birth country (hence visa restrictions), so on and so forth. We may not be able to do anything with most of what we are given with – nevertheless the temerity of choosing what one wants over the thousand little voices that say otherwise takes a lot of courage and truly, an unrelenting fervor for the travelling life. True, as trite as it may be, things like these are always easier said than done; still, it’s a comfort that there are lots of opportunities like the Mongol Rally to make that spur-of-themoment resolution to experience the world out there. There will always be a plane, or a bus, or a boat waiting for us to take.
When the adventure ended, Nick headed down through
China, met up with a friend in Hanoi, and got motorbikes where they traversed the menacing roads of Vietnam and Cambodia for two months. He now lives in Singapore to continue his career as a graphic designer – a palpable proof that travelling won’t hold us back from going back to where we left off, or to go to the other end of the spectrum, starting anew. o
BE L OV E D part T W O One womanâ€™s tribute to her homeland and husband. PHOTOGR APHS BY KRISTINA PETROSIUTE
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ON S IC ILY A photo essay about a woman’s wrong first impressions of a city. WORDS & PHOTOGR APHS BY MONICA FORSS
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fter having lived in Northern Italy for several years, I wanted to see a different part of the country that I love and it was then
that I decided to explore Sicily.
Sicily for me was a mysterious place that I did not know
much about except one that might best associate with the island: the Mafia and the associated events that occurred during the 1980s.
I was well-prepared prior to my first visit in Palermo and I
did everything I was told to do, such as do not wear any jewellery and hide all my cameras.
My first impression of the city was not positive; I thought
it was an ugly chaotic city with heavy traffic and lots of garbage, and I was well aware of the undercurrents, of men hanging in dark lanes giving glances.
Several visits later, I acquired a different impression of the
city and its people. Never have I felt that I was in danger (aside from a ten year old threatening to “take care of me” or his father would ), but rather I felt curiosity from the city’s residents to get to know me, alongside their incredible warmth and friendliness.
I have learned to love Sicily and its rich culture, history
and interesting food that I can’t get enough of. o
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FASHION EDITED BY ECKS ABITONA
ON LONGING A photo essay. BY JASH MANUEL
RETURN OF THE 90s The glorious days of the 90s make a come back through fashion. BY ECKS ABITONA
K I C K S T H AT S T I C K These are the shoes that stood the test of time. BY GIAN FR ANCO BERNARDINO
D E AT H O F T H E S U P E R M O D E L We study the elusive lives of the supermodel. BY ECKS ABITONA
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ON L ONGING PHOTOGR APHED BY JASH M A NUEL ASSISTED BY GIAN FR ANCO BERNARDINO MODELED BY JASMINE UMALI
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K ICK S T H AT S T ICK
A look at the different shoes that have managed to stick through generations, and why they deserve to be called “classics.” WORDS BY GIAN FR ANCO BERNARDINO ILLUSTR ATIONS BY JAR ED CARL MILLAN
very man’s closet should contain various basics that work into different outfits. Shoes are no exception. So, what shoes better embody
these characteristics than the classics?
These kicks have stood the test of time and made their way
into our everyday lives because of their resilience, versatility, durability, and comfortability. These shoes are staples in modern fashion not just because they have survived fashion movements through the decades, but also because have helped make leaps and bounds in progressing streetwear. From Doc’s to Keds, these shoes just don’t get old, and for good reason.
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CHUCK TAY LORS
These shoes have kept our feet comfy and straightforward from the days they were used as basketball shoes to modern times where they can be used for everything from school days, to hip suit and tie match-ups.
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Their cousin, The Jack Purcell offers a more sophisticated alternative while still remaining versatile and relatable. You can match these shoes with nearly anything and yes even a suit and tie. (Sometimes.)
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When I was a kid I always thought that loafers were somehow shoes made out of bread. They may as well be, however because of how comfortable they are. These shoes are not just for your dad as you can wear them for many different occasions from casual to semi-formal with a nice sport coat. This timeless shoe is versatile as it is comfortable.
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Doc Martens had its heyday way back in the punk rock generation of the 70â€™s but is again resurfacing today with the indie culture. Not only are they durable and eye-catching, but theyâ€™re also hella stylish. These shoes are best paired with jeans or slacks.
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A DIDA S G A ZELLES
Gazelles are just about as classic adidas as you can get. From around the time of b-boys to Jay-Z, these bad boys come in many different colors and everyone can find a pair that suits their style perfectly. These shoes are a staple and make for a very classic yet still outstanding look.
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Topsiders are making a comeback nowadays as we can see in nearly every mall in Metro Manila. According to my dad however, he and my grandfather used to own a pair themselves. They donâ€™t get old because you can use them as everyday shoes while still maintaining a well-groomed, classy look.
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Vans are as comfy to wear as they are to ride in. Originally intended for the skateboarding community, these shoes have evolved to be a staple in modern day streetwear. Many have followed the skate-shoe trend but vans will always be the original.
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Keds, originally released in 1916, were initially inclined towards womenâ€™s fashion and were worn with oversized tees and leggings. Now, a hundred years in the future they offer a preppy, hip look for both men and women due to their synergy with the latest fashions.These kicks can be paired with anything from jeans to corduroy and will surely liven up any wardrobe. o
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Some pieces will always come back around; itâ€™s time to dig deep in your wardrobe because the 90s are back. STORY BY ECKS ABITONA I L LUS T R AT ION S BY M I K A B AC A N I & PAT R IC I A M A PI L I
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y definition, plaid brings to mind images of a nineties punk, edgy individuals who arenâ€™t shy about making powerful statements. For a while now, plaid has made a
welcomed return. With its reoccurrence, crop tops also made a comeback. From all cuts of shirts there is, crop tops are not available in all colors and patterns. These trends definitely come a long way from its Spice Girls days.
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ifferent versions of grunge have risen over time. The movement had more than to offer than distorted electric guitars but also an effortless style so prevalent even after so long.
Lately, a subtle version found a new voice with big fashion houses with its ripped moto-
jacket, construction boots and washed-out jeans and ultimately became the ultimate street style look.
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enims reigned almost every 90s movie there is and now all elements of denim are being worn and paraded in its glory. Denim bags, denim belts and what have youâ€Ś This trend is fast defining
the casual, edgy look for its versatility and the options are endless but still keeping a clean and simple look.
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s we marvel at the ankle grazing or just-below-the-knee or buckled up, we realize this is a footwear that is both practical and with flair. Made popular by the 1995 flick Empire
Records, this past trend has been modernized for women and men to be worn at different everyday affairs with different body structures.
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t was the fantasy film Craft (1996) made platform wedges one of the most sought out footwear in the 90s. Little did we know that it would come back stronger than before and be reinvented season after season. From wedges to sandals, from leather to hologram, this
comeback shoe is the most desired pair by teens and adults because of comfort, durability and versatility. o
IL LU S T R AT I O N BY K E V IN R O Q U E
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T HE IR fear f ul S Y MME T R Y PHOTOGR APHED BY CHRISTIENNE BERONA STYLED BY ECKS ABITONA ASSISTED BY TONIE MORENO
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T H E DE AT H of t he SU PE R MODE L
They had graduated from “clothes hangers” to a full-fledged phenomenon of beauty, charisma and flair. They are The Supermodels and they live on. STORY BY ECKS ABITONA ILLUSTR ATIONS BY JAR ED CARL MILLAN
hat appeared to be a go nowhere career during the early 20th century, modeling soon became one of the most beneficial jobs there
is. From being no better than faces on dull advertisements to being household names, models soon grew into an influential phenomenon. When the demand for a model’s endorsement or appearance and the longevity of the model’s association with fashion houses and reach a whole different level of being just there to being everywhere, it is safe to say that they metamorphosed into a supermodel. According to Claudia Schiffer, “In order to become a supermodel, one must be on all the covers all over the world at the same time so that people can recognize the girls.” Among well-known supermodels, the most prominent trio was called the “Trinity” comprising of Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington. They were superstars in their own right and certainly a force to be reckoned with. Building their own names throughout their careers, they eventually became the go-to girls for big fashion houses or designers and every fashion magazine.
The 1980s was the height of the “supermodel” marvel. It be-
came evidently cemented into pop culture declaring these are the wom-
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They were sensational and the embodiment of classic, timeless beauty. en of various ethnicities who were making excessive sums of money. Substituting film stars as symbols of luxury and wealth and even topping the Forbes’ list of powerful people, models began to embrace this Hollywood-style charm. It was evident that the power had shifted in the fashion realm: from living, breathing full-bodied mannequins strutting down the runway of fashion week, they were now brands and sometimes even more famous than the designers themselves. Soon enough, they came to be brand ambassadors, turning their profession into a million dollar enterprise. By and by, they became superstars—appearing on talk shows, movie franchises and being involved with actors.
Adding to the original trinity, three more models make the fi-
nal cut of what is known as the Big Six: the unanimously accepted list of the top supermodels. Besides Campbell, Evangelista and Turlington, there is Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford and Kate Moss. These are the women who had remarkable earning power. In 1995, Schiffer earned $12 million dollars, a sum that is on the same range as a big Hollywood star. Michael Kors once said of Crawford, “Cindy changed the perception of the ‘sexy American girl’ from classic blue-eyed blonde to a more sultry brunette with brains, charm and professionalism to spare.” Crawford charmed the mass appeal of her charismatic, uplifting beauty.
When the prosperous advertising industry realized the value
of supermodels, they were lead to great scope of jobs thus mounting their market value. In due course, the designers were unhappy of the
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supermodels’ growing salaries and decided to put an end to the fad. After a while, fashion shows highlighted a completely different cast of young faces set to attract the imminent generation of new consumers. When Vogue, the world’s most renowned and bought fashion magazine, stopped featuring models, a paradigm shift began. Anna Wintour created a millennium hit and tide to drive the attention away from supermodels to actresses and other artists, one main reason being the change in fashion trends—the drift from glamour and into grunge and minimalism and the growing appreciation of street style. Another is that the flamboyant models who were once an essential part of the runway drabbed down clothing of the late 90’s. Designers then decided that they wanted their clothing to be star of the show rather than the models wearing it.
Currently, the industry has welcomed many models that cap-
tured the attention of the media and thousands of consumers but everyone is united with the fact that no one speaks about models with astonishment as they have before. This could simply be the generation of models who flutter in and out of the industry before we can classify with them, making them almost superfluous. Nothing will come close to the time Campbell became the first black model to ever grace the cover of French vogue and the Pepsi commercials of Schiffer and Crawford. They were sensational and the embodiment of classic, timeless beauty.
One of the largest parts of the success of the supermodels of the
80s and 90s was not that they were beautiful but that average women admired their style and desired to look like them, which many believe is achievable and not damaging. Although the great era of the supermodels have elapsed, the impact it had on the careers of many models, as well as the industry, will not soon be forgotten. They are irreplaceable. o
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MUSIC EDITED BY ELLIE CENTENO
MUSIC THROUGHOUT TIME An infographic. BY MARIAH R EODICA
RY A N C AY A B Y A B The legendary musician talks to us about creativity and music. BY ALFONSO BASSIG
NIC HARCOURT An interview with the legendary disc jockey. BY ELLIE CENTENO
THE 1975 A profile. BY JARED CARL MILLAN
Reflektor BY MAYEE GONZALES
ans, critics, and music publications went bananas upon hearing Arcade Fire’s plan of releasing a fourth studio album following their 2010 mul-
ti-awarded record The Suburbs. News broke in December 2012 and from there, teasers in the form of erratic Twitter replies, billboard campaigns, and Spotify music clips intensely built the itch for the band’s next record entitled Reflektor.
And at 9pm, on the 9th of September, Reflektor was released to
much delight of listeners worldwide. Rejoice for a new Arcade Fire record was out to be heard, and for others, criticized! Much to the frustration of Arcade Fire detractors everywhere, Reflektor, in its purest sense, does not disappoint.
An hour and 15 minutes long, with 13 songs in a double album,
Reflektor is like listening to a live Arcade Fire show; one with a smooth start, climactic middle, and an exhausting yet rewarding end. The record opens with its title track that easily directs its listeners to the carnival-esque sound the Canada-based band has welcomed. Danceable percussions, lyrics in French, and the serene blending of vocals from husband and wife Win Butler and Regine Chassagne will make you want to hear more.
Reflektor successfully takes you high then knits you further into
a puzzling engagement. “We Exist,” “Flashbulb Eyes,” and “Normal Per-
son” are easy favorites from the record’s first installation most especially if one is reminiscent of Arcade Fire’s distinct guitar riffs and playful bass lines -- three tracks that relatively kicks-in nostalgia particularly for those who have been long-time Arcade Fire listeners. On the other hand, “Here Comes the Night Time” and “You Already Know” invites one to the festival, we’re-here-to-celebrate sound the band has brought while “Joan of Arc” closes the first half of the record in a high and low of tempos. In this time of listening, one can’t help but compare the experience to a breathtaking concert; the part when one starts to thirst and in the same time, build a longing for more sweat and music.
And so the curtains close and gradually open again. Reflektor’s
second fitting begins with “Here Comes the Night Time II” an after party from its elder sibling. Orchestral arrangements start to highlight the album thus bringing out the band’s excellence when it comes to blending raw rock music and classical symphonies. “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)” takes us slow, influencing a crowd of thousands to take-out their lighters (or in this modern-age, smart phones) and wave such illuminations in the air. Electronic effects come after as it is heard in “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)” and “Porno” telling everyone to take the dance floor which is bound to be tiring and entertaining altogether. “Afterlife,” a personal favorite, is a summary of the band’s current take on their music – spot on, elegant, but not meant for everyone. “Can we work it out? We scream and shout ‘til we work it out” the chorus heeds, emotional and clinging to the harmonies of the track. The show is almost over and the encore is soon to begin, slowly we transition to the tremendous 11-minute track, “Supersymmetry” that consists of an ambient five-minute comedown, unexpected but definitely high of regard.
Reflektor may not be Funeral or The Suburbs. It may not even
win a Grammy, but it sure can stand on its own. Reflections, lights, and a certain affection for Greek mythology may weird Arcade Fire listeners out but for an enigma like this record, Reflektor is an album one can critique based on personal liking. It’s one hell of a show that shifts its audience to its grandest moments to a plethora of heartbreaking expressions. It’s an unexpected menace and even if Arcade Fire didn’t need to take the risk, they did it anyway. o
Government Plates BY JETHRO JA MON
almost expected no music to come out as soon as I pressed play on Government Plates. Over the last couple of years, Death Grips have found
multiple ways to piss everyone off: Whether it’s leaking their major-label funded album on the internet or just not showing up for their own show. Then, with little to no fanfare, they show up with Government Plates to remind you that these guys make music. And to show for it, the album is an assault on your eardrums, a blitzkrieg of riffs and hooks.
The opener, You might think he loves you for your money but I
know what he really loves you for it’s your brand new leopard skin pillbox hat kicks of with the sound of shattering glass and a siren to pull you into the Death Grips party. MC Ride once again yells a barrage of unintelligible lines one after the other, sounding as paranoid and psychotic as ever. Zach Hill drums like a ridiculous madman as Flatlander pushes the song’s groove with his thick, harsh synths.
Government Plates still has a lot of the basic dynamics of the band
that drew fans in droves, but this time, they shift their focus on the production. There are songs here that find MC Ride taking a step back and allowing Hill and Flatlander to try different rhythms and textures. Some of these are interesting explorations of Death Grips’ sound, while some come off as half-finished ideas. This is Violence Now (Dont get me wrong) and
Feels like a wheel make the most out of a more upbeat, almost EDM-like treatment. Meanwhile, songs like the title track and Im overflow just meander and never really get interesting.
On the previously released Birds, Death Grips surprise everyone
by sounding the most restrained they’ve ever been. Flatlander lays down a buzzing synthesizer then proceeds to breaks down with a quiet, humming guitar. “Fuck you,” MC Ride declares, unaffected and nonchalant. It’s the stinging venom we’re used to from these guys, but they deliver it without resorting to Zach Hill’s typical high-BPM drumming or MC Ride’s shrieking vocals.
Death Grips continue to be the forward-thinking group that they
are by trying out new things, but they do so here over the course of single songs. On the excellent Anne Bonny, MC Ride continues to churn his reliably catchy hooks but it alternates between Flatlander’s animated digital glitch and Hill’s scattered, skipping percussion. The succeeding track Two Heavens continues that trend of exploring two sounds as a backdrop for their hooks. Ride quietly introduces the song, “Single strike cadence slip, once I’ll make you my bitch” then Zach Hill drops the bomb and pounds away as if every drum was his enemy. It’s tremendous.
All the songs clock in below the four-minute mark except the
aforementioned Birds and the ambitious and appropriately named closer Whatever I want (Fuck who’s watching). The track, like previous ones on the album, continues to map new territory for the band. However, this track is a sprawling mess of sounds. There’s one interesting moment here that recurs, where the song transforms as MC Ride echoes away and a steady ambient beat takes over. Unfortunately, the band never really turns it into a cohesive unit. The song’s a mess, but it’s a fascinating one.
Overall, Government Plates is a work of transition. It contains
your typically brilliant Death Grips who retain the trio’s organized assault while searching for new sounds to bring the same onslaught onto you. The album contains plenty of excellent songs – whether it’s through the same techniques or through their experimentation – but some tracks on here feel like rough drafts of what lies ahead for Death Grips. The album once again contains a clusterfuck of sounds and while not all of it works, it’s fascinating to see what they’ve pulled off. Nonetheless, Death Grips they couldn’t care less about what you think they should sound, but because of that, fans still go along for the ride. o
FOL LOW T H E L E A DE R
From tape decks to GarageBand with Mikey Amistoso and Aly Cabral. WORDS BY M ARIAH R EODICA, PHOTOGR APHED BY AKIR A MEDINA
hen it comes to music, it’s easy to fall into the trap of nostalgia, where some people still insist that the music of the past is either better or outdated, and
people say “things aren’t what they used to be.” It’s not supposed to be about that. After all, music throughout the years has its fair share of ups and downs at any point in time, and there are always talented artists coming up. Genres and technology will vary and change, but at the root of it all are people who love music.
What’s particularly interesting is the differences between the perspectives
of someone with a lot of experience in the music scene and someone who is just starting out. What’s a better way than to call two of them up to talk over coffee? I called two people up, and we had coffee at the Liquidpost Studio. Mikey Amistoso, is best known as the vocalist and bassist of the indie rock band Ciudad, which is known for upbeat pop songs and catchy harmonies. From the humble beginnings of Ciudad 19 years ago, he has had a long and successful professional career in music. Ciudad released Follow the Leader last year, and just celebrated the 10th an-
niversary of their album, Is that Ciudad?
Mitch, and Justin would tune in on Sat-
Yes Son, It’s Me. On the other hand, Aly
urday night, excited to hear their songs
Cabral is a singer-songwriter an alumni
broadcasted to the rest of Metro Manila.
of the national Elements Songwriting
Camp, and fronts Ourselves the Elves,
we have the internet, the only way for us
who just debuted an EP entitled It’ll Be
to get out there is at our gigs,” Aly said.
Alright. Her band, Ourselves the Elves,
Like a lot of independent bands gaining
recently made it to the top eight of the
popularity nowadays, Aly took to the in-
Wanderband, which is a battle-of-the-
ternet to post her songs on websites like
bands competition for a slot in the annual
Facebook, Bandcamp, and Soundcloud.
Wanderland music festival.
After a gig, she’d check the Facebook
When Ciudad started out in the
page and discover more and more people
mid 90’s, they didn’t have the internet to
liking the Ourselves the Elves fanpage.
distribute their music, or GarageBand.
There was the opportunity for instant
A young Mikey Amistoso experimented
with harmonies, doing multi-tracking on
a tape deck, and distributing the tape to
radio, but how would we know if people
his friends. Aly, on the other hand, re-
would like it? We didn’t.” Mikey said,
corded demos on a laptop and posted her
“We just had faith that people would lis-
songs on Soundcloud, where people could
ten to it.”
hear her songs with a simple click.
“We were lucky at the time be-
through high school and college, their
cause my classmate and best friend in
brand of light, catchy music was a far
high school was Quark Henares, whose
cry from what was popular at the time:
father owns NU107,” Mikey recounted,
Showbands, heavy metal, and blues. The
“He heard our stuff, and Quark—This
music culture was different, too. There
fourteen-year old,-- said ‘Hey, I like your
were hardly any gigs for bands like Ciu-
stuff! Can I be your manager?’ And I
dad, and in many instances, they had to
thought, he’s my best friend? What could
play alongside well-established bands like
he do?” Quark took their songs to Myrene
Wolfgang, Parokya ni Edgar, and Grey-
Academia’s show, Not Radio, and Fran-
houndz, who attracted crowds notorious
cis Reyes’s In the Raw, and gave Ciudad
for their heckling and throwing water
air time. Mikey and his bandmates, Jeff,
bottles onstage. It was an intimidating
“It’s interesting because even if
“We had our songs played on the
In the 90’s, when Ciudad went
“The good thing about the States is that when someone goes to a bar, they’re there to listen to the band.” scene for the teenage Ciudad, who took
trying my best not to cry towards the
their books to Club Dredd and study
middle,” Aly said. Her friends in the
while waiting for their time slot.
camp cheered her on under the influence
“There was this time we were told
of alcohol, and the stage was open to oth-
we were going to have an acoustic gig, so
er campers willing to jam along. Some-
we brought acoustic guitars, but Razor-
one went onstage and played the violin
back didn’t give a fuck. They brought
along with Aly, and so did a drummer, to
their electrics and rocked out.” Mikey
her surprise. “When I turned around, it
said. “When it was our turn to play, we
was Joey Ayala playing the drums.”
thought Ano ang gagawin natin?” Ciu-
dad was asked to play a Christmas song
throughout a career in music, like bring-
as well, and when they started, they were
ing musicians to places. Ciudad took
booed by the crowd. They played one of
to the streets of Brooklyn, New York in
their songs named “Korina Torina” where
2009 to play a handful of shows along
Quark sings “Korina! Torina!” repeat-
with Plus/Minus, another band of Fili-
edly, and were surprised to see the crowd
pinos based in the US. They paid for
singing along. “Then I realized they were
the whole trip out of their own pockets,
singing ‘Uwi na, uwi na,” Mikey said
and booked gigs by e-mailing venues in
with a laugh.
Brooklyn. They also got a slot in a music
Aly wasn’t immune to perfor-
festival called CMJ, which is similar to
mance anxiety, either. Alongside early
SXSW in Texas, where bands play across
Ourselves the Elves gigs, she did solo
venues in a city.
gigs to get used to playing in front of a
crowd. At an open mic night of Elements
is that when someone goes to a bar, they’re
National Songwriting camp, which is a
there to listen to the band,” said Mikey.
gathering of singer-songwriters selected
He described the bars there, which are
through nationwide auditions, Aly had to
more like ballrooms where people really
go onstage to perform.
stand to watch the bands. The bars are
often outside, unlike some venues here
“I played a song and ended up
Time yields a lot of surprises
“The good thing about the States
S TA C H E 1 4 4
where there are people dining on tables while the band plays.
“Have you heard about Glasslands in Brooklyn?” responded Aly, “It’s just a
space that isn’t even a bar. People go there to listen to bands, not for the alcohol. I wish there were a space like that here.”
Mikey agreed, saying “There should be a place like that here. It doesn’t
have to be like NBC tent, even a room the size of this studio would do.” Aside from being performers, they’re clearly listeners and lovers of music through and through.
From the 90’s to today, whether it’s through the radio or the internet, or
from Manila to Brooklyn, the common thread that runs through all of this is a love for music. The talent of songwriting, the drive to perform, and passion of being a musician is something that isn’t limited to a genre, place, or era alone.
“When we started out, we never expected we’d be playing for ten years,
or even getting to celebrate our 19th anniversary,” Mikey said, “We never even expected to play out of the country.”
In turn, Aly replied, “A year ago, our goals were to play at places we go to
gigs to, and release an EP and have a lot of people hear it. We get surprised every time one of those small dreams come true, and we aim for higher things. Maybe we could release a full album soon and go on tour.” It’s a statement young Ciudad would say.
When it comes to music, things come full circle. Kids who grew up watch-
ing bands become the adults who play onstage, who inspire a new generation of youth, so it goes. As Aly Cabral and Mikey Amistoso show, it’s good to look forward to something, because there’s always something to look forward to. o
Find out more about the music Ciudad and Ourselves the Elves through the following sites: http://ciudad.bandcamp.com http://ourselvestheelves.bandcamp.com
S TA C H E 1 4 5
TA S T I NG A M E R IC A
Stache talks to NIC HAR COURT about America, television and the music industry. INTERV IEW BY ELLIE CENTENO PHOTOS COURTESY OF NIC HARCOURT
ubbed as ‘the most influential DJ in America’ and ‘the ultimate tastemaker in the music industry’, I found myself getting acquainted
with Nic Harcourt after watching a few episodes of short-lived MTV series I Just Want My Pants Back and being left at awe with how perfect the soundtrack was. I did some digging around and found Harcourt to be the show’s music supervisor. In this issue STACHE sits down with Nic to talk about the current state of music and everything else.
FIRST OF A LL, HI NIC! HOW AR E YOU?
I’m good, a little tired this morning, I’m actually doing my
morning radio show right now. DID YOUR ENTHUSIASM FOR MUSIC COME TO YOU NATUR A LLY, OR DID SOMEONE BECOME INSTRUMENTA L TO YOUR INTRODUCTION TO MUSIC? W HAT KIND OF MUSIC W ER E YOU INTO W HEN YOU W ER E YOUNGER? DID IT CHA NGE OV ER THE Y EARS?
When I was a little kid probably 4 or 5, The Beatles burst onto
the scene. It was pretty much all over for me right there. The excitement around me from my parents was palpable. Of course as i got older I discovered my own music. Glam was the first thing that got me. T.
Rex, Slade, Bowie, Elton. Sweet. I loved the music, but the image as well, the gender bending of guys in high heels, satin and make up. I mean I was about 13 when that scene broke. I was hitting puberty and it just opened my eyes. Later on I got into rock and bands like Sabbath, Zeppelin, Deep Purple and then in my early 20’s punk came along and when I heard the Clash everything changed again. HOW OFTEN DO YOU GO TO LIV E SHOWS THEN A ND NOW? A N Y PARTICUL AR ARTISTS/BA NDS YOU OFTEN SEE LIV E?
I have an excuse for not going to see as much live music these days, first of
all I’m up early and secondly I’m getting older and to be honest with you being in music clubs isn’t as much fun as it used to be. Having said that I do go see shows of artists I like and sometimes check out new bands. I also manage an artist, Kita Klane, and so I’m at most of her shows. W HAT FOR YOU IS CONSIDER ED GOOD MUSIC?
I don’t think I’m a judge of good or bad music. I just know what I do and
don’t like. I’m not big on most of the stuff on the charts as it’s pretty much all manufactured to the nth degree. I do like hooky songs, I just don’t like overproduced music, will all the originality squeezed out. IN THIS DAY A ND AGE, W HAT KIND OF MUSIC DO YOU HOPE PEOPLE WOULD LISTEN MOR E OF (A ND LESS)?
Music is so packaged these days to fit lifestyle, I’m not sure people are really
getting as much from it as they did in the past. I’d like to hear more music with positive messages. YOU AR E OFTEN DUBBED AS ‘ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIA L DJS IN A MERICA’ A ND ‘THE ULTIM ATE TASTEM AK ER IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY.’ AT W HICH POINT IN YOUR CAR EER DO YOU THINK PEOPLE STARTED CA LLING YOU THAT? A ND W HAT IS IT LIK E BEING CA LLED AS SUCH?
I moved to Los Angeles in the spring of 1998 to host “Morning Becomes
Eclectic” a daily freeform radio show on KCRW. The audience of that show was/ is very influential in the entertainment business, and I found that within a year or so a lot of the music that I was championing was being picked up and used in advertising, movies and TV shows and as a result artists were breaking nationally. I’m guessing around 2000 was when people started using that term. I know that
the work I’ve done has influenced a lot of people and I’m proud of that, I’m not particularly comfortable with the word tastemaker though. YOU W ER E FROM GR EAT BRITAIN, BUT YOU LIV E IN THE US. W HAT DO YOU THINK AR E THE SIGNIFICA NT DIFFER ENCES BET W EEN HOW THE ENGLISH A ND THE A MERICA NS CONSUME A ND R ECEIV E MUSIC? HOW DIFFER ENT AR E THEY IN TER MS OF THEIR MUSIC SCENES?
The UK and US scenes have constantly influenced each other. I think the
biggest difference in how music is heard though is that the Brits have national radio stations that can break an artist pretty quickly if the get behind it as opposed to the US where the sheer size of the country dictates otherwise and the radio market is divided into multiple formats. OF A LL THE ARTISTS YOU’V E ‘DISCOV ER ED,’ W HO A MONG THEM AR E YOUR FAVORITES, A ND HOW DID YOU STUMBLE UPON THEM? HOW DO YOU FILTER THE GOOD ONES FROM THE NOT-SO-GOOD ONES?
I think Damien Rice’s debut album “0” is one of the best records I’ve ever
heard. I like artists who have something to say, stories to tell. He’s one of those guys. TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU STARTED IN R ADIO. AR E THER E A N Y EX PERIENCES YOU THINK W ER E MONUMENTA L/LIFE-CHA NGING W HICH MAK E YOU R EFLECT A ND THINK TO YOURSELF, “MA N, THIS IS W HY I DO THIS. I LIV E FOR THINGS LIK E THIS”?
I think the best moments in life are when you connect with people. Profe-
sionally speaking interviewing people like Ravi Shankar, Neil Young, Bowie, Willie Nelson. Macartney, these are the moments, when you pinch yourself. I’V E A LWAYS BEEN A FA N OF THE MT V SERIES “I JUST WA NT MY PA NTS BACK” A ND ITS SOUNDTR ACK. TELL US ABOUT YOUR EX PERIENCE AS A MUSICA L SUPERV ISOR AT MT V? A ND W HAT W ER E, IN YOUR OPINION, THE BEST PROJECTS THAT YOU WORK ED ON?
I’ve done a number of TV shows and movies thru the years and worked
over at MTV for a year as music supervisor in residence. It was interesting 12 months being inside a huge corporation like that and seeing how art and commerce collide. I think ultimately we put good music in “Pants”. I did a show for ABC about ten years ago called “Life As We Know It”, that was a great experience. The best jobs in that world are the ones where the people who hire you trust you to do the job.
THROUGHOUT THE COURSE OF YOUR CAR EER, W HO A MONG THE PEOPLE YOU’V E MET ON THE JOB AR E YOUR FAVORITES, PEOPLE YOU’V E HAD THE MOST PLEASUR E WORKING W ITH?
At KCRW I worked with a great producer Ariana Morgenstern and music
publicist Debbie Adler. We were a team, we did great work together. ON A DIFFER ENT, COMPLETELY UNR EL ATED NOTE, W HAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FR EE TIME?
Worry. W HAT AR E YOUR THOUGHTS ON MUSIC BECOMING MOR E A ND MOR E DIGITA LIZED? A ND SPEAKING OF DIGITA L DISTRIBUTION, W HAT IS YOUR STA ND ON PIR ACY?
The cat’s been out of the bag for quite sometime. Music is now pretty much
free, you don’t even have to steal it, artists are giving it away. I would however say that if an artist has made recordings that are for sale, then you should buy those recordings and not steal them. YOU HOSTED MOR NING BECOMES ECLECTIC FOR MOR E OR LESS TEN Y EARS. W HAT AR E THE THINGS YOU MISS A ND DON’T MISS ABOUT IT?
I don’t think I miss it. I had ten fantastic years hosting that show and with
the help of people who worked with me, we built the show and the station into an internationally recognized brand. We innovated many things that public radio had never done. We helped a lot of artists in their careers. I’m proud of the legacy. CA N YOU GIV E OUR R EADERS A SHORT LIST OF ARTISTS TO WATCH OUT FOR IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS? A N Y MUSICA L ACTS YOU’V E R ECENTLY DISCOV ER ED?
I’m always loathe to answer that question because there’s just so much out
there and it’s so hard for anything to break through. So I’m only going to give you one. Check out Lissie.
W HAT ELSE IS IN STOR E FOR YOU, PERSONA LLY A ND PROFESSIONA LLY, IN THE IMMEDIATE FUTUR E?
As I mentioned earlier I’m managing a phenomenally talented artist called
Kita Klane. It’s my job to bring her music to as many people as I can. I’ve also been working on the concept of an in-depth interview TV show for a couple of years now, there are some key things in place, but as with most things someone else will have to say Yes for it to get on the air. I have ten year old twin children as well who I unfortunately don’t to see them as much as I or they would like, I have to work on that. o
A N HOU R wit h RYA N C AYA BYA B
Alfonso Bassig sits down with Mr. C to talk musical roots, the state of todayâ€™s industry, and the identity of the next R yan Cayabyab. WORDS BY A LFONSO BASSIG, PHOTOGR APHS BY M AY EE GONZ A LES SPE C I A L T H A N K S TO PAU L A A L C A SI D
he Stache team arrives at the Ryan Cayabyab music school early enough to observe its wooden flooring, mirrored walls, and the grand piano on one corner.
It’s not exactly that big of a room which makes it a more conducive, intimate teaching space. The man of the hour arrives, and we become students ourselves—all ears for the veteran composer that paved the way for the development of Filipino music, Ryan Cipriano Cayabyab. MUSICAL ROOTS
I begin by asking him about how, when, and where did he fall in love with music. Ryan Cayabyab answers with a rather forward: “I did not,” we all laugh, and I know I’m certainly in for a good conversation. “I think it was a given,” he continues. He paints us a picture of his childhood living in a temporary house beside Area 1 in the UP Diliman campus, and goes on about its sawali walls and crawl spaces. He then apologizes for going off topic, and we tell him that it’s fine; that house after all provided the environment essential to Ryan Cayabyab’s formation to be the legend he is today.
Since the Cayabyabs’ home was big enough for their family, his parents
opened their home to accommodate students from UP’s Faculty of Music (where Cayabyab’s mother was an instructor.) While these ten lady boarders practiced singing and playing instruments on a daily basis, his mother, an opera singer, would often take the young “Cip” to her rehearsals so as not all four children are left at home.
“I didn’t fall in love with music; it’s naturally, I think, inside of me because
of my mom... and then outside [it was] nurtured because I could not escape it.”
Being pinned to this particularly musical household sunk its teeth on the
young Ryan Cayabyab, teaching him the fundamentals without having to undergo formal lessons. However, this milieu wasn’t constant throughout his childhood— Ryan’s mother passed away when he was six, the lady boarders started leaving, and his family moved out of the campus to a smaller house built by Ryan’s father. One thing the family brought with them upon transferring was a box full of the former
boarders’ piano pieces. He would play these on his mother’s worn-out piano, and Ryan started to learn on his own. “Looking back, I think I was playing it very crudely,” he admits. His finesse may have come in a later age, but once he did, Ryan became a formidable force in the industry. With countless local and international awards in his belt, you can say that his solo lessons have gone a long way. MOTHER’S W ISH
Take it as an attitude we adopted from colonists, most Filipino families are obsessed with the idea of inheritance—parents usually raise their children to become younger versions of themselves: to choose the same paths as them, and continue the legacies they’ve left behind. But this wasn’t the case for Ryan’s mother. Before she passed away, she told her husband to not allow the kids to take up music as a profession. She, being an opera singer and an instructor, saw the everyday hardships
of a musician’s life and never wanted it to become something her children would someday go through.
“Sa lahat ng careers, totoo ‘yun—mahirap [talaga,]” Ryan says, implying
how it really is hard to be financially stable these days—not only with music, but with other professions, too. “[But] if you don’t prepare yourself or if you don’t have the passion for it... then something is lost.”
Call it disobedience done in good faith; Ryan never knew that he was go-
ing to make a career out of music. He just loved what he was doing, and anything monetary came second to that. COLLEGE Y E A RS A ND THE L AUR ELS
In his college years, Ryan initially took up a BS Business Administration program in UP but still did music on the side. He became an accompanist for the DBP Chorale Ensemble, a member of the ROTC band, and an apprentice for the Madrigal Singers—a stint that led him to get acquainted with a certain Cocoy Laurel, a matinee idol and the star of “Best of Broadway” responsible for Ryan Cayabyab’s first gigs in the bigger leagues.
On rehearsal days, Ryan would always go to the theatre in CCP (Cultural
Center of the Philippines) extra early so he could the play grand piano alone. “Every
so often, lalapit ‘yang si Cocoy and makiki-jam.” From here, a friendship was built and Cocoy soon hired Ryan to play for him during concerts, TV shows, and other guestings.
“Meron palang bayad ‘yun, hindi ko alam!” Ryan says, telling us how sur-
prised he was back then when Cocoy’s mother gave him his first pay. You can see how innocent the young Ryan Cayabyab was, unconscious of how much his skill was actually worth. “Ganun lang ang tingin ko sa music—masaya; hindi siya trabaho.”
Then one day, Cocoy’s father, then-senator Salvador Laurel called Ryan to
his office and asked him why in the world was he taking up Accounting. “Sabi niya sa’kin: ‘Hindi ka bagay diyan. You are a very talented musician.’” Ryan recounts their conversation which came to him as one of earliest pep talks that persuaded him to actually pursue music despite his mother’s wish.
“We all have our talents. We all have a place in this world,” Salvador Laurel
told Ryan. “You can help yourself and your community if you are very good at what you’re doing.”
Clearly, the Laurels saw the potential Ryan had at such a young age and
thought that this talent should not go unnourished. The senator and his wife offered him a scholarship in his choice of school to study music, Ryan accepted, and that education further propelled him to musical mastery.
a daily basis. But much as Filipinos overseas tend to long for native Pinoy deli-
THE STATE OF THE INDUSTRY
cacies, they will use OPM as “nostalgia “O Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika,” one of
music” to reminisce about old times and
Ryan Cayabyab’s greatest hits, celebrates
somehow feel closer to their homeland.
the beauty of Filipino music. But that
was written during a different era; I want
nga at sabihin nating kaya na nila umus-
to know if the song’s message applies for
next ones that came. Being part of the
crossover generation that witnessed the
taken its steps to the top, but we can’t
transition of the country’s music from
stop midway. Ryan Cayabyab has a clear
then and now, I ask Ryan what he has to
vision for OPM, and he is all for its pro-
say about the state of today’s industry.
There is no dispute with how for-
“Hindi tayo pwedeng magpahi-
He believes OPM has definitely
“It’s not dead. It was never dead,”
eign music is taking over our nation’s mu-
Ryan answers when asked about that con-
sical taste one Miley Cyrus song at a time,
troversial Philippine Star article from last
but Ryan tells us there is actually a greater
year. There is always something stirring
acceptance of OPM today compared to
in the local music scene, he says, it’s just
his high school years. People used to see
that at given times, some foreign act—
OPM as *bakya, but then later realized
Ryan lays out PSY’s Gangnam Style as an
that they’re only insulting themselves.
example—would occasionally be pushed
Ryan says it doesn’t matter anymore if
to the frontlines too much that it upstag-
most Filipinos’ preferences lean toward
es our local talents.
Western music, what’s important is that
we’re aware with what is happening in
should learn to go beyond what is there.”
our local music scene.
Ryan admits that some Filipino produc-
“Filipino music, in general, is really dis-
ers would see these new viral trends as
tinct. [It’s just that] we take it for grant-
rubrics to be imitated whereas it should
be one that would challenge them to be
“[Our] fault, if I may say so, is we
Ryan relates OPM to staple
more experimental than ever. If we force
food—something whose significance is
ourselves to be second-rate copies of PSY,
eventually masked because it is there on
then we’re going to lose the race. He men-
tions that same goes with the success of
magaling na manlilikha o mang-aawit
Cinemalaya and how the film industry
‘e,” he says. “’Yan ay nagagawa lamang
has recently leaned towards the produc-
sa walang humpay at walang tigil na
tion of indie films—contrasting the
pag-awit at paghasa ng pag-awit.” A firm
country’s typical Enteng Kabisote-like
believer that a musician’s longevity is di-
blockbuster hits: “You create your own
rectly proportional to his time immersed
industry. It’s the perfect time to do that.”
in the field, Ryan tells us that although reality television would pump up a superstar or two once in a while, it is more of-
ON REALITY TELEVISION
In the widely acclaimed Voice of the Philippines that had just concluded this year, comedian and The Draybers lead vocalist Mitoy Yonting reigned as champion with his [sky high range] and theatrics, continuing the barrage of seemingly endless singing contests Filipinos worldwide get to watch in the small screen. Being a resident judge beside fellow legends Pilita Corrales and the late Francis Magalona in the only season of Philippine Idol (2006,) Ryan Cayabyab definitely has something to say about the growing trend of reality shows acting as a conveyor belt in the production of pop stars: “It’s just television. It’s entertainment. Period.” Speaking from a standpoint of a musician who’s gone through the rigors to get himself “out there,” he denies the notion that this said road to stardom is actually one that will take you where you want to be.
“Alam namin kung ano talaga
‘yung daan [kung] papaano ka magiging
ten that it spews out men who rest on his laurels—procuring overnight sensations and one-hit wonders.
However, most of these shows’
viewers don’t really care about how the artists do after they get the gold; they just want more. So for the sake of these winners and for those aspiring to be a face in reality television’s hall of fame, I ask Ryan what they should do in order to preserve what they’ve achieved. Ryan says he would, but can’t tell reality TV stars to start all over again and tread the more traditional route: “Wala ka nang magagawa; nandoon ka na.” There are several factors of longevity in the business, and managers who understand these, he says, can keep you from burning out. But nevertheless, it remains to be a tough direction to pursue. “Wala namang madali ‘e,” he says, and then points out how individuals tighten their grasp on what they love doing once they start putting their hearts
“Filipino music, in general, is really distinct. It’s just that we take it for granted.” long time enhanced Ryan’s ear to become
onto it. “Pero habang ikaw, as an individ-
more sensitive to theories, often thinking:
ual, nakikita mo ‘yung hirap, lalo mong
“Ay, may katunog”—hindering him to
naa-appreciate ‘yung iyong pinaghira-
write smoothly. He mentions the likes of
Gerard Salonga, Homer Flores, and Mel
Villena who are A+ arrangers, but are not ON
POW ER FUL WOR KS
Before composing and writing the awardwinning “Great Original Pilipino Music by Ryan Cayabyab” in the early 2000’s, Ryan was solely a musical arranger. And while there is money in arranging, it meant having to stay under the shadows of songs, receiving minimal recognition from the general audience as opposed to singers and songwriters.
prominent in the songwriting field.
“Sabi ko: ‘ay, gusto kong makilala
rin ako’ [laughs]” Ryan says, so he pushed himself to write and soon produced timeless hits like “Limang Dipang Tao” and Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka”. There were major speed bumps, though. Apparently, working as a musical director for a
Ryan not only pursued a course
that gained him critical acclaim, but also one that made him more multidimensional as an artist.
He may not be entirely new to
it, but knowing how Ryan Cayabyab isn’t naturally a songwriter intrigues me as to how much Ryan thinks he has progressed lyrically. I ask him about his most powerful compositions. “They’re not songs ‘e... [They] are religious works [performed with an orchestra,]” he cites the Te Deum and Misa as examples. They—full-blown ensemble
sound-wise, and at the same time they are considered powerful as it uplifts the spirit. (Note: Ryan Cayabyab was recently honored with the prized Pro Ecclesia
“OPM is not dead. It was never dead.” et Pontifice Award by Pope Francis and the Vatican for contributing greatly to the
Some may say professionals will continue
production of religious-themed works.)
to dominate the music scene, eclipsing
As for pop songs, Ryan considers
the capabilities of new upcoming acts.
“O, Bayan Ko” to be his most powerful.
But as a then-amateur who won the 1st
Formerly a protest song from 1998, it is
Metropop Festival Grand Prize in 1978
usually performed during cultural pres-
(he was 24,) Ryan has faith in the indus-
entations : O bayan ko / Kailangan ka
try’s youth. That’s why he is still here,
mamumulat? / Ang totoo’y nakikita na,
running the Music School and holding
pumipikit ka pa.
songwriting workshops—to provide tools
From liturgical to nationalism-
and education for aspiring musicians to
evoking works, you can see how evidently
come up with fresher material and pro-
the Filipino spirit emanates from Ryan
gress at a faster pace.
Cayabyab’s musicality. Oriented with
values that elevated his craft to some-
will be that person,” he humbly answers.
thing eclectic, he is a crucial gear in the
Ryan believes that there will be more that
clockwork of modern OPM. But there
will develop their talents, and they will
will eventually come a time wherein that
be better than anyone from his genera-
gear falls off to be replaced by another,
tion. To be looking for another Mr. C is
causing the system to change course. In
not the goal here, but to produce young
Ryan’s words: “Si Madonna lang siguro
blood who are capable of going beyond
ang hindi nalalaos.” I am not in any way
the heights this prodigy have already con-
trying to conjure up some tacky reality
quered, opening doors for the prosperity
show concept, but who is the next Ryan
of fellow Pinoy musicians, and keeping
the Philippines’ musical vein alive. o
THE NEXT RYAN CAYABYAB
“There’s none! Kasi the next one
G E T T I NG T O K NOW S PA Z Z K I D
An interview with Mark Redito. INTERV IEW BY M ARIAH R EODICA, PHOTOS BY JOE CA LIXTO
ark Redito is the man behind Spazzkid, who creates dreamy electro pop that’s an eclectic mix of influences ranging from Japanese pop
to jazz, all in his own bedroom. He moved from Manila to Los Angeles five years ago, and has amassed a following in both cities. Recently, he shared the stage with Sandwich at a gig that followed a screening of Quark Henares’ film, Rakenrol. One of our Stache writers, Mariah Reodica, interviews him here:
W HEN DID YOU START M AKING ELECTRONIC MUSIC? W HEN DID YOU START SPA ZZKID AS A PROJECT?
I started recording myself and my band then which didn’t re-
ally work out around 2004/2005. Most of the songs I made for myself were released under the moniker “Cocolulu” which was then changed to “Spazzkid” a year after. The name stuck and I’ve been releasing and performing music under Spazzkid ever since. HOW DID YOU NA ME YOUR OW N ACT?
I was obsessed with this hardcore punk band called “Spazz”
and started using “Spazzkid” on all my social media channels and chat rooms. When it was time for me to change “Cocolulu,” I chose “Spazzkid” for its convenience. As you can see, I never really gave the names of my music projects much consideration. JAPA NESE CULTUR E IS A BIG PART OF YOUR A ESTHETICS, A ND YOU’R E HEAV ILY INFLUENCED BY JAPA NESE POP A ND MAINSTR EA M CULTUR E. HOW DID THIS INFLUENCE COME ABOUT?
Absolutely! I just love it! Also, I grew up with it, I remember
watching a lot of Super Sentai as a kid (i.e., Shaider, Bioman, etc). I also liked a lot of old school anime (Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Studio Ghibli Films, etc). I’ve also always been into Japanese indie/pop and shibuya-kei music: Cornelius, Pizzicato 5, and Yasutaka Nakata have always been a big influence on my own music. HOW WAS YOUR A LBUM ART DESIGNED?
For the Desire album cover, I collaborated with Purr Tapes’
Krystal Perez. She helped me design the cover and packaging. The beautiful lady on the cover is Mang, a talented photographer and model based in Shanghai. The overall look and feel of the album artwork is a nod to my love of Japanese aesthetics. W HEN DID YOU START PL AY ING MUSIC? A N Y MEMOR ABLE THINGS THAT HAPPENED DURING YOUR EAR LY GIGS?
I grew up playing in all sorts of bands, so music has always
been there. I however started getting serious with the Spazzkid project around 2006. I started playing shows around Metro Manila that time. One unforgettable and embarrassing experience was in one of my early shows at Saguijo when I accidentally tripped on the power strip and it instantly turned off my computer (I was using a desktop computer at the time – haha, yes I’m serious). I had to reboot the whole system in awkward silence. I just wanted to melt into the stage right there. The crowd was very encouraging and cool about it though. W HAT DID THE FIRST SONG YOU EV ER MADE AS SPA ZZKID SOUND LIK E?
Lo-fi electro pop. The arrangements and patterns were really simple and straightforward. I still retain some simplicity in my current productions but during that time I was in the middle of trying to learn and experiment with all the software synths and sequencers I had. I also used a
very cheap mic to record my vocals (I still do). I also recorded in a noisy room so you can hear everything: my clock ticking and the neighbor’s dog barking. It was very rough around the edges but I was having a ton of fun (and I still do!). HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE FEATUR ED ON PITCHFORK?
It was always been a dream of mine to be featured in a big pub-
lication like Pitchfork and now that it happened I feel very humbled and encouraged. I’m really happy that people are digging my music :) WOULD YOU SAY THAT THE INTER NET WAS A BIG PART OF YOUR MUSICA L CAR EER?
Absolutely. I’ve met so many people who like the same things as I
do. It made connecting and having relationships with like-minded people so much easier. Also, the internet makes distribution of music very efficient. People consume music digitally much more these days and it makes a lot of sense to connect to friends and fans via the internet. Virtual music venues such as SPF420 has helped bring my music to more people and made me connect to a larger internet music scene. IN LINE W ITH THAT, DO YOU PL A N TO CONTINUE MAKING PHYSICA L R ELEASES?
Absolutely. I grew up with cassettes and CDs, so having a physical
and tangible connection to music is always something that is very important to me. Based on my previous releases, the demand for physical media (i.e., tapes, CDs) is still very high. I am considering pressing “Desire” on vinyl if I can come up with enough money to do it. W HO W ER E A MONG YOUR INFLUENCES EAR LY ON W HEN YOU STARTED TO MAK E MUSIC? W ER E THER E A N Y SPECIFIC A LBUMS OR SONGS THAT CHA NGED THE WAY YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC?
I listened to a lot of Joy Electric, Dntel, Postal Service and Yellow
Magic Orchestra when I was starting out. I’d say a lot of these artists really influenced my sound and my songwriting. The Beatles “White Album” made me realize that one can be experimental while still staying within the
bounds of what people call “pop.” HOW DID YOU SHOOT THE V IDEO OF 40 W INKS? OR W HAT DO YOU LIK E ABOUT IT?
I met Czar Campos on the internet through mutual contacts. We
are mutual fans of each other’s work and we always talked about collaborating. We finally had our chance when he told me that he was going to Tokyo to shoot some scenes for his film. He asked me if I’d be interested in having a music video shot over there. Of course I said yes. We both decided that ‘40 Winks’ would be the perfect soundtrack to the visual images that Czar had in his head. I then went to my social networks and asked friends and supporters who they would be interested in being featured in the MV. Somebody recommended i talk to Licaxxx (aka Rika Hirota). She’s a DJ, Producer and model based out in Tokyo. I shot her an email to see if she’d be interested and fortunately she replied yes. Production took about 3 months and in the end, we were very happy how it turned out. It was just perfect. I am forever grateful for having the chance to collaborate with Rika and Czar. o
http://spazzkid.com Download his newest album, “Desire” here: http://spazzkid.bandcamp.com/ album/desire Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/spazzkid (Singles/Remixes) Bandcamp: http://spazzkid.bandcamp.com (EPs/Albums) Upcoming shows: http://bit.ly/15hVyC9 Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/spazzkidx Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spazzkid/17973249495 Twitter: @spazzkid Press: http://spazzkid.com/love
T H A T ’ S s o 19 7 5
What is it about this four-piece outfit from Manchester that’s got everyone buzzing, and why is their music the finest form of nostalgia? STORY BY JARED CARL MILLAN PH O T O G R A PH S B Y O L I V E R L E S T O QU O I T, A LY S S A N I L S E N // M U S I K K N Y H E T E R , & K E N G R A N D PIERR E, MATTHEW W ILLIA MSON; POLAROIDS BY ISA GR ASSI
he 1975 has had a mental year. Their full-length record charted at number one. They were nominated in Radio 1’s Teen Awards. They
have been on tour almost nonstop since December 2012, and they are already booked for the first half of 2014. Already they have supported The Rolling Stones, and this month their record received Gold Certification. They are by far one of the best breakthrough acts of 2013.
The thing is, though, they have been around for a while now,
and in fact you may or may not have already heard of them. They came by the name TALKHOUSE, and The Slowdown, and Drive Like I Do, and BIGSLEEP, and it is difficult at this point to distinguish one from the other, but when they reintroduced themselves finally after a few years of absence as The 1975—named after a note vocalist Matthew Healy once found in a borrowed book—the aesthetic distinction was obvious.
Stylistic refinement wasn’t the only thing that happened. Un-
like before, meandering through Manchester’s music scene with little purpose, they began actively getting their music out there by way of EPs. First was Facedown released in August 2012 which saw the band’s first UK airplay on national radio with “The City.” Then came Sex in November, Music for Cars in March 2013, and IV in May of the same year. The goal with their releasing all that EPs was simply to introduce their brand of music to the public, and to make them listen a sort of preview of what their full-length record would sound like. When it did come out in September, their self-titled LP, many people were surprised at the rate with which the band’s success skyrocketed. They were played on the radio, and booked on shows, and written about in magazines and online publications.
What is it about this four-piece outfit from Manchester that’s
got everyone buzzing? Surely it isn’t the the LP’s rave reviews. After all, how many acts have received greater praises from critiques only to come and go without achieving half of what this bad already has? And it surely isn’t Matthew Healy’s songwriting, for however brilliant and raw
PHO T O G R A PH B Y A LY S S A N I L S E N // M U S I K K N Y H E T E R
PHO T O G R A PH B Y A LY S S A N I L S E N // M U S I K K N Y H E T E R
It all lies then on the kind of music they make and the kind of people to which they cater it. and genius they are at times, his lyrics could never hold a candle against that of Alex Turner nor Matt Berninger.
It all lies then on the kind of music they make and the kind of
people to which they cater it. The 1975 is Matthew Healy on vocals, Adam Hann on guitars, Ross Macdonald on bass, and George Daniel on drums. (The quartet had met almost over ten years ago, when they were thirteen at school, at the music department. They had lived two miles from each other and in fact, in the past ten years, they have seen at least one of each other every day. They have never left each other’s sides since.) But it is Matthew Healy’s autocracy that runs the band; to understand the The 1975 is to understand his sensibilities. There is a certain arrogance about him, a certain bravado, a certain audacity you sometimes see in stars already on the top and has been there for a while. There is something bombastic and unabashedly selfimportant in the way with which he carries himself, and in the words with which he talks about his band and its music.
“We’re a band that defines a certain generation at a certain
time,” he said in an interview with The Observer’s Tom Lamont. “Nobody my age consumes media in a linear, straightforward way; it’s like a human eye, light coming in from everywhere. You can expect a 17-yearold girl to be listening to Kendrick Lamar and to Carole King. I think we’re the first band to really embrace the fact there aren’t many rules left.”
He his not huge on the whole tribalist perspective with which
music in general is perceived. The music press did not at first understand their music; they are neither a pop nor a dance band, and neither
Their sound is experimental, and goes from glitchy R&B to big 80s powerpop to mid 90s soul, with atmospheric synth electronica. are they are a straight up rock nor an indie band. Their sound is experimental, and goes from glitchy R&B to big 80s powerpop to mid 90’s soul, with atmospheric synth electronica; and it has split a lot of people right down the middle because they don’t know in which particular mold they would fit. Coming from Manchester, it is somewhat expected of them to sound like the city’s musical heroes, but they didn’t grow up on The Smiths or Joy Division or Oasis or The Stone Roses; they grew up listening to black american music—to Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye and Wilson Pickett.
The 80s sensibilities have always been one of the band’s biggest
influences, and it goes beyond the infectious beats and bouncy music and into how music in general was consumed during the period.
“Pop music at that time wasn’t so over-encumbered with cyni-
cism and self-awareness and irony,” he once said. “If you look at records like ‘So,’ there are smash pop hits on that, but it’s also a really forwardthinking piece of work—how ambitious it was was kind of cool. So when that ends and grunge comes in, everything loses its innocence a little bit.”
They wanted the album to sound like as though John Hughes
has directed a movie about their lives; they wanted to make an album that summed up how they felt during their formative years. And they did.
The quintessential 80s film centers around the themes of youth
and of youthful naiveté, of innocence but not ignorance, and all of these are reflected in their lyrics and in their sound. Filled with ditties about angst and lust and stories about the genuine confusion of life as a young adult, Matthew Healy’s lyrics are introspective—a diary of sorts. It is all
PHOTOGR APHS BY OLIV ER LESTOQUOIT
PHOTOGR APHS BY K EN GR AND-PIERR E
The quintessential 80s film centers around the themes of youth and of youthful naiveté, of innocence but not ignorance, and all of these are reflected in their lyrics and in their sound. about figuring himself out through his lyrics. It’s been something he’s really proud of in the album.
“I’m always talking about me, really,” he said of the lyrics’
meaning. The song “Is There Someone Who Can Watch You?” is actually a song about him and his kid brother. His family fell apart just as the band took off. Healy’s parents (actors Denise Welch and Tim Healy) got divorced. “December of last year I went on tour and they sold that house. I went home for two days to move out of my house, and I wrote and recorded Is There Somebody Who Can Watch Me?, the last song on the album, about that moment. So I left and I’ve not really been home since.” The album then is one long ode to Healy’s life, and in a way it reads and sounds like it. From “Sex,” which talks about his obsession with femininity and chasing sex; to “Settle Down,” written about his obsession with Michael jackson; to “Chocolate,” a song about drug use; Healy is always talking about himself and his experiences.
In an interview with Michael Hann of The Guiardian, Healy
confessed that he had once been a junkie, a drug junkie. “I wasn’t a heroin addict—I never lost it to heroin—but I was a coke addict bigtime. I was 18, I dabbled in everything. I wanted to be Jack Kerouac. I thought I was as decadent as all of that.” And I suspect, in “Intro/Set3,” a song off their EP Sex, when he sings, “In the mornings I was getting high with you/‘cause everybody’s pushing/well, I thought I’d see you around but you’re dead now,” he is talking about himself—or at least a person he once were.
Matthew Healy is intelligent and eloquent and good-looking
“I wasn’t a heroin addict—I never lost it to heroin—but I was a coke addict big-time.” and he knows it. That may come across as arrogance, that unapologetic toughness in one’s beliefs, but that is only archetypal of people who is self-aware, of people who have lived to see the casualties and dust themselves off, of people who have learned. Beyond Matthew Healy’s tart and honest and angst-ridden take on the young lives of twentysomethings, past the songs’ catchy hooks and dance riffs and synth accents, the best aspect of their music lies in the way with which they set up their music as an autobiographical homage to the persons they once were but no longer are, the way with which they tackle nostalgia—as a token of days past, but not something to hold over one’s self nor glorify. It is in the stories that Matthew Healy tells.
They don’t lionize it. They don’t underplay it. They just show
it how it is, which is a representation of the past and one’s sensibilities during that period. No more, no less. And that, I think, is the best way to look at it.
The 1975 is a soundtrack to the lives they have thus far lived.
Some of the songs in it have been with them almost as long as they have been together. With this record all they want is for “people to connect to it in the same way that we do.” Not everyone can view the past in the same fly-on-the-wall manner that this band do, but I suppose that’s the reason why they’re here to do it for us. o
C OV E R S TO RY
THE SOUND OF HIS MUSIC What does a world famous beatboxer do? He travels the world, and performs at music festivals, and does commercials for Microsoft and Olympus and Armani, and from time to time records an album. At least this has been what itâ€™s like for Felix Zenger. We sat down with this Finnish beatboxer to talk childhood, music, and the story so far. STORY BY JARED CARL MILLAN PHOTOGR APHED BY JASH M A NUEL
n the 13th of June 2007 a video was uploaded on YouTube of a young man performing—to the untrained mind—a series of sounds mimicking those pro-
duced by percussion, and a few others besides, all through his mouth. Using one’s voice to recreate these sounds is commonly known as beatboxing.
It isn’t an uncommon an art form. It has been around since the 80s, the
term “beatboxing” having been derived from the mimicry of the first generation drum machines called beatboxes. But there is something more in this video that transcends the mere mimicry of the percussion, and based on the thirty six million views it has amassed, I am not alone in hearing it.
The young man in the video is Felix Zenger and he was twenty-one-years-
old when that video was filmed. He is twenty-seven-years-old now and he has since become one of the most famous beatboxers in the world. There is something about the way with which he does it that is unlike any other beatboxers out there. Like any other creative endeavors, beatboxing requires a certain skill in order to be performed well—but in that particular video, there was something else at play, which skill alone cannot create: its musicality. I meet Felix Zenger in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. The skies are still overcast, and it drizzles from time to time, but it is a humid Sunday morning and we find ourselves at the lobby of his hotel. He has a workshop at 12 noon today, and a show at 9 in the evening.
Manila is the last leg of his southeast asian tour—the longest he’s ever
done. For almost six weeks he has been touring nonstop, starting with a show in Jakarta, then Phuket, Singapore, back to Jakarta, then to Bali, and then here. Tomorrow morning at ten he has to catch a flight back home, back to Finland. If he ever wants to sleep today, he’ll sleep for maybe three, four hours because the workshop at 12.
For a few years now this has been what regular days look like for Felix. But
perhaps that comes with the territory. With over fifty five thousand “likes” on Fa-
cebook and countless performances with
he needed to take a year off. He simply
some of beatboxing’s most notable names
didn’t have time. Eventually they asked
and a self-released full-length album un-
if he wanted to change his main subject,
der his belt, he is easily one of the most
which was piano, to beatboxing. So he
formidable names in beatbox culture.
did. “I’ve been studying and doing music
He doesn’t see it that way, though;
as my hobby my whole life, and beatbox-
I had asked him if considers himself fa-
ing isn’t that much different learning mu-
sic theory and history.”
“Not really, no.” he says.
“How come?” I reply, puzzled.
years ago, and he got into it through a
He thinks about this for a beat.
sports program. The sport in question is
“I guess I am somehow famous but I’m
Footbag, an organic ball sport using only
not super famous in any other country,”
one’s body and its movements to gain
he backtracks somewhat. “Having fans
points, not unlike gymnastics. “I went to
worldwide...it’s nice, it makes the world
the European championships in Copen-
feel very small.”
hagen, and this friend of mine who plays
footbag was beatboxer—that was how I
The way with which he looks at
Felix started beatboxing ten
fame is quintessential to those who did
was introduced to it for the first time.”
not anticipate it, did not dream of it, and
in a way Felix didn’t. His father plays the
pion, having traveled to the European
guitar and is a music school headmaster,
championships and winning the finnish
and his brother plays the saxophone, and
championships four times. This is be-
his sister the violin as well as the piano,
tween 2003 through 2006. He doesn’t
so growing up in a musical family it was
compete anymore, and if anything does
only logical for him to pursue the more
it as nothing more than a hobby these
routine path in the musical arts, and he
days—his beatboxing having taken foot-
did. At least for a while. Felix is a classi-
bag’s spot in Felix’s list of priorities.
cally trained pianist from Helsinki Pop &
a few months back, though,” he tells me.
“I graduated two years ago,” he
“So I decided to attend the world cham-
says. “The school lasted for four years. I
pionships in Montreal. I got one gold
got in the school with piano, but I gradu-
medal, so I’m still doing okay,” he laughs.
ated with beatboxing.” After two years he
got so busy with beatboxing and perform-
boxing that is very similar to footbag—
ing at shows and doing it more or less as
using mainly your own body without any
professionally that he told the school that
accessories or utilities. It is in a way really
Felix was also a footbag cham-
“I had a beatbox tour in Canada
There is something about beat-
C OV E R S TO RY
“I’ve been studying and doing music as my hobby my whole life, and beatboxing isn’t that much different learning music theory and history.” natural to produce music and sounds and
him began on an embarrassing note by
rhythms from your mouth and body. And
committing the faux pas of bringing him
this aspect of beatboxing really appealed
a cappuccino. He’s a vegan.
“I’ve been into raw foods for four,
At first, because he was raised
five years.” He does not drink and does
playing the piano, his father didn’t really
not smoke and does genuinely enjoy duri-
understand the whole beatboxing thing
an. He also has, back in Finland, a garden
and hoped he would play more piano
in which he grows his own vegetables.
and beatbox less. “But when I started get-
ting gigs and started working with well-
known jazz musicians, [he] realized how
cool beatboxing was. They always sup-
into kales. And also dark greens,” he tells
ported me [since].”
me. “[Gardening] is fun. There are a lot
When he is not beatboxing or
of weeds growing in the garden that peo-
playing footbag, Felix busies himself with
ple would throw away, but I take them
an altogether different thing, but some-
from my neighbors, take them home, and
thing which isn’t completely unrelated to
either the former or the latter.
He has a chocolate factory.
proaches his career as a beatboxer follows
It’s a year old company he owns
a very organic pattern. It isn’t in any way
with two of his friends, and he is actually
planned. He doesn’t even want to take it
looking forward to go back to England,
in any particular direction. Instead of go-
once the southeast asian tour is over, and
ing against the tide, he lets it take him to
come visit the factory. “We have three
the next direction, wherever it may lead
people working there,” he says. “We pro-
duce raw, organic chocolate.”
That seems to be a recurring
bum “Won’t Say a Thing.” It has been
theme with Felix, his affinity for all
something he was thinking about doing
things organic. In fact my interview with
for a long time. One day he just decided
I ask him what he has in his gar“Kale. Mostly kale. I’m really
Even the way with which he ap-
Take for example his debut al-
His father didn’t really understand the whole beatboxing thing and hoped he would play more piano and beatbox less. to do it, not knowing there would be consequences.
The recording process was as difficult as it was long, because
recording and beatboxing are two entirely different things. And it is a new thing. It is usually only done live. So he had to figure out the best way to do it. The album is more like an experiment to see how beatboxing should be used in a studio, translated into a record, and it has also been something Felix wanted to learn how to do.
“I was [actually] offered major label deals, but I decided that I
wanted wait it out with my own label and keep it small because I’m not ready for a big release,” he tells me. “I’m working on my second album now and I think it’ll be faster and less painful.”
There wasn’t even at any point in his career where he found
himself thinking, ‘this is it, this is what I want to do this for the rest of my life,’ none of that at all.
“They often ask, what’s my goal, what am I aiming for,” Felix
tells me. But he doesn’t see it that way, doesn’t see beatboxing as a career which comes with a bucketlist of things to accomplish. “I’m already doing what I love to do,” he goes on to explain. “Of course it’s nice to set up small goals, and it’s nice to evolve and have bigger shows, more fans, but I don’t need to get rich. I basically do what I want to already.” And if, at some point, he doesn’t feel like he wants to do beatbox anymore, he’ll just make chocolate full time. “I have no idea how long I can do this. Maybe if beatboxing gets bigger and have more demand, maybe
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I’ll start teaching more.”
So how do you teach beatboxing to people who don’t know any-
thing about it?
“It’s just like teaching any other instrument,” he explains. “The
way I approach it is very similar to teaching other instruments, like the drums, but using my mouth instead to make sounds.” Beatboxing is interesting because compared to other kinds of music there are still a lot of untouched ground, a lot of techniques to explore, and so far only the surface has been scratched. “Many people, when they start learning, they have this look—because using your voice is very personal. So they’re really shy about it.” But when he started beatboxing, Felix wasn’t shy at all. “I was super excited to beatbox all the time and just learn.”
Beatboxing for music and beatboxing for technique are two re-
lated but altogether different grounds. The latter can exist without the former, but not the other way around. Because Felix is a classically trained musician, he learned first how to make music. The beatboxing came later, and that has helped him as a musician.
“Especially for composing and how I figure out melodies—I do it
all with the keyboard. My beatboxing affect my piano playing, especially with how I rhythmically play piano. I think it’s good to play an instrument with melodies. It’s good to study a little bit of drums, or if you play the drums it’s good to have a melody instrument.”
Felix thinks that most people don’t beatbox for music. They beat-
box for tricks. “It’s more like skateboarding or breakdancing for them. They’re making tricks with their mouth and they’re into doing crazy sounds really fast,” he laments. “They’re not really interested in making music. I want to make music that people will also want to listen to.”
“Of course it’s nice to evolve and have bigger shows, more fans, but I don’t need to get rich. I do what I want to already.” The next time I see Felix is at Today x Future. And even his playing here happened more or less by chance; Manila wasn’t a part of his southeast asian tour, originally. “It’s a fun story,” he tells me of how he got hooked up with Today x Future. “So the whole tour wrapped up already, but then I thought that I don’t have a show in the Philippines. So I asked on my Facebook page if any of my fans have any suggestions for collaborations, or venues I could play at, and then this one girl sent me a link to [Today x Future]. I had already looked up all the flights to the Philippines, so I emailed them and asked if they would want to take me for a little show, and I’ll just cover the expenses personally. [But] they booked me instead. The whole tour was managed by my agent and my agency, but this one I came up with myself. But it feels like it’s the right place to play at.”
And it is.
This evening, Today x Future is filled to bursting and the
sound is reverberating outside and it is hot and humid. Some people are already drunk, and are having a great time. I have been for a few years now familiar with Felix and what he does, so of course I know how
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good a beatboxer he is. But there is something about the microphone or the noise or perhaps the track with which he is beatboxing that dulls the quality of the sound which comes from him.
I know this because earlier, after the interview’s been wrapped
up and before we set up for the shoot’s meager layouts, I asked him to sample his beatboxing, which he duly gives me. In the not so loud yet not so quiet lobby of his hotel, without the aid of a microphone or any other musical implement, the sound of his music came out sharp and loud and crisp and I did not question in my mind, as he was beatboxing before me, how a lot of people all over the world got into beatboxing by watching that video of a young man performing—to the untrained mind—a series of sounds mimicking those produced by percussion and a few others besides. I was witnessing myself the awe and wonder they must have felt.
Remember that this is a performer who has had a prolific, roll-
ercoaster few years, a performer who hasn’t yet gotten a good night’s sleep because he had been traveling and had too early a call time to an interview with me today. His immediate future doesn’t seem like it is going to let up, though. More days not unlike this one await. He has to work a lot in the studio for his next record, but he is already looking forward to going back home. For the past year he has stayed only two months in Finland, and he already misses his family in Turku. In fact he just got a new apartment, but he hasn’t had time to set it up. o
C U LT U R E
C U LT U R E EDITED BY CINDY HERNANDEZ
C A R N I VA L T E A C U P S Short story. BY JASH MANUEL
NANA An essay. BY BE L L E M A PA
P E R I O D I C D R A M AT I C We tackle the appeal of the period dramas. BY CINDY HER NA NDEZ
CLINKING IN CLANDESTINE The speakeasies in Metro Manila BY GIAN FR ANCO BERNARDINO
Frankenstein BY MARIAH R EODICA
or all of Frankenstein’s ubiquity in pop culture, from numerous film adaptations and parodies to unimaginative Halloween costumes everywhere, there aren’t a lot of people who have read the
novel itself outside of a classroom. The novel was recommended to me by a friend who’s taking up Comparative Literature, whose taste was something I trusted. Though I wasn’t too keen about it at first, I downloaded it from Project Gutenberg and read it on an iPod, and I was hooked. Despite reading it on a small screen, I was drawn into a sprawling Gothic epic that spans over ages and continents.
Because the novel was written in the 19th century, at first, it seems like an unwieldy wall of
old-fashioned prose. But it’s not as hard to read as you think it is, once you get used to it. It may be centuries old, but the emotional and moral threads that run through it are still echoed in contemporary literature today, like isolation, an uneasiness with technology, and an existentialist struggle.
Remarkably enough, it’s among the first known examples of science fiction because it fol-
lows the general plot of a person trying to make an advancement in science, and dealing with the consequences of it, whether it be for better or for worse. And on top of that, Mary Shelley wrote it when she was in her early 20’s. It goes to show that age can’t stop anyone from writing an enduring classic. o
The Portrait of Dorian Gray BY CINDY HER NA NDEZ
t’s been roughly one hundred and twenty-three years since the magazine publication of Oscar Wilde’s only novel, The Portrait of Dorian Gray. Since its inception, Wilde’s only novel made
an impact upon society, especially during the late 19th Century. Literary critics were inflamed at the thought of an amoral novel that criticized English society, and revered art over all; or as Wilde would put it “Art for art’s sake.”
The novel begins in Basil Hallward’s studio, where he and his friend, Lord Henry Wotton,
are discussing Basil’s current painting. The painting features a beautiful youth who goes by the name Dorian Gray. It he is characterized by Basil’s description of him, which is interesting because nothing apart from Dorian’s beauty is known by the painter and Lord Henry. Once we come in contact with Dorian, we know he is a beautifully naïve boy, who instantly grows fond of Lord Henry’s charming aphorisms, which Dorian takes for truth that should be adhered to. Dorian is enamored by Lord Henry’s words concerning art, hedonism, and youth. The more Lord Henry speaks, the more Dorian’s lust for never-ending youth increases, to the point that when he sees his portrait, he wishes old age would take over the picture instead of taking over his breathing, living body.
What literary critics of the nineteenth century claimed to be an amoral work of art, is ironi-
cally the opposite of their claims. Had they read the piece, rather than attack it due to Wilde’s infamous reputation, they would have known that this so-called amoral piece, is wittily disguised as a treatise against a hedonistic lifestyle. Sure, you have to read between the lines, but really, had Wilde wanted everyone to frolic about without caring about the consequences, then why did he portray the older Dorian as an ugly, sad, and pathetic human being? o
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R E W I N D F ORWA R D
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self. One writer will tell you what heâ€™ d tell his. WOR DS BY RYA N PA L E R MO - G R E E N E , PHO TO G R A PH BY B A SH E E R TOM E
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You were a very lost kid growing up. You didn’t have a father
and your mother abandoned you for greener pastures. You didn’t understand why you didn’t have a dad, or a mom, or a family like Sandra in preschool, or Jeremy in third grade. You didn’t understand it then; you didn’t understand most things then. But then again, no one expected you to, most especially your Nan, who loved you and nurtured you and rocked you to sleep that night you saw a manananggal on local television.
You were lashing out, but not the kind Earl was exhibiting for
the first half of elementary school. It was a silent thing. You kept to yourself while you hated everyone in private, made yourself inconspicuous as you wished everyone dead—or worse, taken by alien life form. The only solace you had amongst the tumult of your unideal formative years were the second-hand comics your Ninong Paolo gave you every once in a while, and the Star Wars action figures your Ninang Jennie brought you for your sixth birthday.
I can still remember to this day the confusion you felt when
one day your mother whose face you saw only in tattered and yellowing photographs came back in Binondo to come get you. She said she was taking you someplace better. Because you were eleven going on twelve and didn’t know any better, you were more than happy to leave your unhappy home. Some years later you will regret having traveled to all these United States because however pretty the roads were, however gorgeous and beautiful the people were, it wasn’t home.
You never really understood how significant this change was
until that moment you stepped out of LAX: You had three layers of clothes on, but when the chilly December wind grazed across your skin that evening, a shiver ran down your spine. Literally. Figuratively. Even
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to your twelve year old mind you knew things wouldn’t ever be the same.
Once again, you were lost. (But I suppose you can never get lost
when you already are.) Suddenly you found yourself in a country whose language you did not speak, and in a home with not only with a mother, but with a father and a baby sister.
Your mother had found someone when she was working here as
nurse, and that someone was a retired navy SEAL. He was a good man, is a good man, the man who taught you how to ride a bicycle when you were thirteen and eat Japanese food when your favorite Filipino restaurant downtown unexpectedly closed down. He never once raised a hand on you. He never shouted at you or said bad things about you. He didn’t mind that his skin doesn’t match yours, or that you did not look anything like him. He loved you like his own child, and it didn’t take long before you did, too. In fact, you loved him so much you had decided when you were sixteen to take his last name.
I wouldn’t so much say that you were a problem child, at least
not in the public eye. But you were an angry one, that’s for sure. Although there were days when you couldn’t stand to look at your mother, you had a happy family, and it should have been enough to make everything else in your life happy, too, right? But you will learn, for the most part the hard way, that taking control of your life required a more active approach.
I am writing you this letter because I still believe in the ad-
vancement of science, and that there will come a time when you will travel back in time to change things; I am writing this letter in the hope that when you read this, you will be aware of the landmines I had stepped on, of the hurts I could have avoided, and of the lessons I could have learned if I had simply known how to listen.
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The first lesson I would want you to learn is this: never trust
anyone but yourself. People are fickle. People will let you down. And however way they try to cover it up, at the end of the day people have only their own best interest at heart. The second lesson is this: find one person whom you can trust. At the risk of sounding ironic, you need one person you can confide in, share secrets with, one person whom you are sure will always have your back no matter what. I’d like to believe that such people don’t exits, but I managed to find one, and I hope that in your timeline you will find him too—he will be the best: he will call you out on your bullshit, and bring you Tylenol for your migraines, and take you out to laser tag the weekend Courtney breaks up with you, and come pick you up when your tires give out.
The third lesson, don’t ever do things for their “story.” You will
have sacrificed literally blood and tears and sweat for something that would most probably be, upon closer inspection, stupid. You will get hurt for a story you wouldn’t want to tell anyone even yourself. Fourth lesson: go easy on yourself. Cut yourself some slack. There are things that are not meant to work out, and there’s nothing you could have done to change it.
Fifth, make mistakes. And lots of it. You learn only by mak-
ing big, massive, glorious mistakes. Otherwise you will have learned nothing. Sixth, don’t make mistakes. Know the price of things. Bravery could only get you so far.
Seventh, study harder. In my timeline there is an official study
that says C-Students rule the world. I am at most a B-Student, so I get the best of both worlds, but study for the love of learning—not because you want to get into a university for its prestige, or please your parents. All the comics that you have read growing up already fueled your love for science. I suggest you try to read books when you get the chance to.
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Histories have been my greatest passion, but I am the laziest reader. You might want to rectify that. Eight, stop thinking that the world is out to get you; the world is out to get everyone. Life is unfair. The rich get richer, the poor poorer. That is how the world turns. Don’t take things personally. Suck it up. Put your adult pants on.
Ninth, accept the love that is given you. You often think that
you don’t deserve any of it, but you do. Love is the only thing in this cruel world that you should not distrust.
Last but not the least, live. Take a moment to watch the sun set.
Eat the last red velvet cupcake your mother and baby sister love to bake in batches. When Ms. Danvers announces that Logan Shelton has won first place in the painting competition and you the third place, even though his mediocre imitation of Pollock is undeniably horrendous, shake his hand without malice and promise to do better next time. Tell your mother you love her.
When you do find that time machine, I wish you the best of
luck with it, and I hope that you find what you are looking for. In the meantime I’ll be here waiting for that time machine, but only because I want to disassemble it and figure out how it works. I’m pretty okay with how I have lived my life in this timeline. Sure I’d like to change a few things up, avoid some really awkward blunders and experiences, but I have come to enjoy the look of those particular scars, even the physical ones. Paradoxes aside, I just hope that I get to one day meet you and find a much better man staring back at me. Love, Ryan o
Breakfast at Tiffany’s BY TONIE MORENO
lively classic from 1961 with Audrey Hepburn
in front of Tiffany’s. The scene’s irony of her hold-
at her dainty, elegant best, Breakfast At Tif-
ing a Danish on one hand and a coffee on the
fany’s magical touch of a seemingly love-friendly
other, eating breakfast, while wearing a black
world has not diminished after five decades be-
dress and staring inside Tiffany’s makes its mark
cause of its blithe romance. The shallow fairytale
on whoever watches it.
charm of its simple, palpable and implausible plot
was enhanced by Audrey Hepburn’s career-defin-
of New York who spends her evening with older
men that give her $50 just for going to the pow-
Based on Truman Capote’s novella,
der room. She lives in an unfurnished apartment
Breakfast At Tiffany’s follows Paul Varjark played
where she constantly hosts parties and tends to
by George Peppard as he moves into New York
an orange tabby cat she refuses to name. In the
City and befriends the enigmatic Holly Golightly.
book, Holly Golightly was late-teen marijuana
The movie begins with the movie’s most iconic
user and a prostitute. This is in contrast to the
scene---Holly drinking out of a cardboard cup,
31 year old Hepburn’s portrayal of Holly, age dif-
still in her evening gown, as she longingly stands
ference included. She disarmed Holly’s innocence
Holly Golightly is a socialite in the heart
in a tamer way with her smoother and less coarse
Givenchy and Tiffany’s, Hepburn looks as glam-
portrayal, the drug use removed, but holding the
orous in a jeans and shirt combo when she sang
spirit of the character with her injection of gentle
Moon River as she does in a party dress. Her frag-
ile beauty and effortless style set fashion trends
Paul is a writer who saw success with
for decades to come---from her little black dress,
his first published work but now suffers from a
Givenchy numbers and Manhattan sunglasses,
writer’s block. His apartment is situated above
Breakfast At Tiffany’s produced icons of Ameri-
his older and married mistress that pays off all
can fashion. The “Little Black Dress” by Givenchy,
his bills and provides him with all his needs. Paul
worn by Holly during the opening scene is cited
befriends Holly as they are both young, beautiful
as one of the most iconic items of clothing and,
and essentially of the same kind. Even more so
probably, the most famous little black dress of all
when they discover that they are both ‘real pho-
nies’ living off of others’ wallets with their affec-
tion. He is fascinated by Holly and her mysterious
not overpower all---Mickey Rooney’s caricatured
lifestyle, specifically her profession and later on,
attempt to act a Japanese character is appalling,
Holly herself. The movie’s main hurdle is the two
to say the least. Breakfast At Tiffany’s is almost,
characters’ choice to trade luxury for happiness.
but not quite, ruined by his highly stereotyped
This is their choice to leave their chance for a step
performance of Mr. Yunioshi, Holly’s neighbor,
closer to Tiffany’s and take a shot at love in each
prosthetic buck teeth and all. Even though it was
normal then for white actors to play characters
As a film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is far
of other races, the scenes involving Mr. Yunioshi
from perfect. There are offbeats and wrong turns
provide intense discomfort until today. Perhaps
all throughout, like Peppard’s pale performance
this flaw is something that can be blamed in the
in comparison to Hepburn’s and the film’s in-
whole Hollywood industry at the time since the
consistent pace but nothing that will make you
director, Blake Edwards, and Rooney himself re-
consider it horrible. With endearing Hollywood-
leased statements on how much they are regretful
cliché bits accentuated by the dialogue and the
of the decision to not recast for an actor of Japa-
score, together with Hepburn’s performance at its
heart, it is a film that you can lose yourself into on
a lazy Saturday night.
fairytale of two damaged goods finding love. Al-
The plot, like its source, offers meander-
though it is not a traditional romance, Hepburn’s
ing narrative that covers the protagonists daily
portrayal and its impeccable award-winning
adventures---with incredible charisma, Hepburn
score, perfect in its mood and ambience, more
especially, which greatly makes up for George Ax-
than makes up for it. Despite its predictable be-
elrod’s uneventful screenplay.
havior, that of a typical romantic comedy, Break-
fast At Tiffany’s has established itself as a movie
Hepburn is the glue that holds the movie
together. She is irresistible. And despite all the
But it seems that Hepburn’s appeal can-
Breakfast At Tiffany’s is an irresistible
that rightfully takes its place as a classic. o
Frances Ha BY MARIAH R EODICA
o him, no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black-and-white, and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin,” said
Woody Allen in the iconic opening sequence of Manhattan (1979). If Manhattan is Woody Allen’s great love letter to New York, then Frances Ha is a letter after an amiable break-up with the purest of good intentions, signed by Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig. The 27-year old protagonist Frances, played by Gerwig, lives in a small apartment in New York which she shares with her best friend, Sophie. Despite the overwhelming bustle of New York, their time with each other is idyllic. They read each other books, busk in Central Park, and have conversations during cigarette breaks, but it came to an end when Sophie decided to move in with her boyfriend. Frances was left to look for a new apartment, and struggles to stay em-
ployed as a choreographer in the dance company she works at, too.
Instead of wryly quipping about all these unexpected changes in her life,
she takes it in stride, and moves forward—And it’s not with blind, unreal optimism either. Greta Gerwig strikes the balance between the two with her earnest acting. She’s clumsy and awkward, and endearingly so, yet when she steps onstage to dance, she’s moves with effortless grace. While it may seem like an irony, those two facets of her never feel contradictory; Rather, with Greta Gerwig’s performance, it feels like a woman coming to deal with realities of life, and still continuing to head in new directions even if she’s uncertain of her direction.
Gerwig and Baumbach’s love for films, especially those of the French New
Wave, shines through. The characters go about their lives to the tunes of French New Wave films. Frances herself even travels to Paris, as she tries to make sense of where she wants to go in life. She runs through the streets to the tune of This Modern Love by David Bowie like she were in Mauvais Sang (1968), and even shares moments with Sophie to the tune of music lifted from Truffaut films. The film is gorgeously shot in black and white which exudes a sense of nostalgia, but it’s still a very much in the present. On one of Frances’ dates, Adam Driver browses holds his iPod over the table and browses through his the pictures he saved on his phone as a form of small talk instead of making eye contact and dealing with the awkward silences that are part of getting to know someone new. All in all, the film feels like a dance: Waltzing from place to place, to new apartments, new relationships, and even to Paris. It’s a journey in its own right, but as frustrating Frances’ circumstances may seem, it never feels like she’s heading towards a dead end. It’s a
The great romances in life are the subject of many films, but Frances Ha is a
film about something that’s chronicled less yet is just as important: The great friendships that one makes, which are, in their own way, a certain romance as well. o
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This is an essay at its core: a trial, an endeavor, a gallery of images. This is an exploration of properties lost and a presence long since unfelt. WOR DS BY BE L L E M A PA
ome children get to know their grandparents by having conversations with them. Other children get to know their grandparents by listening to conversa-
tions about them. Some children grow up with what their grandparents tell them before bedtime or over dinner. Other children reach the point when such stories can never be told again. Some children find out who their grandparents really are through narratives interlaced with anecdotes and undercover emotions. Other children cease knowing their grandparents, at least beyond their own memories.
Some children can vividly recollect the times they spent with their de-
parted grandmothers or grandfathers. I, unlike these children, have few firsthand memories of my late “Nana” in my possession. . They said that she “had hair that was three feet long,” that she “never had a visible scar on her body, not one,” that she “used to be a model,” that she “would wait by the pier to greet foreign dignitaries fresh from a long sea-journey,” that she “was walking grace wherever she went,” that she “was vibrant as the flowers printed on her dresses,” that she “loved butterflies,” that she “was glamorous,” that she had “a lot of admirers.” I remember the invitation to her seventy-fifth birthday (and fifth death anniversary). It was a photo of her in her youth—her skin was white and unblemished, her long hair was braided and kept behind a bandana, her traditional baro’t saya was not unexpectedly of a floral pattern. Her script read out a dedication: Always, Belen.
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They said that she “was a classic Filipina beauty.”
. BELEN RAYMUNDO OCAMPO 19 JANUARY 1933 – 31 JANUARY 2003
Golden letters mark her vault in the crypts.
Nothing else. No Rest in Peace. No Bible passage. No In Loving Memory.
No Here lies…
The engraved gold-plated bolts sealing her urn inside the vault are always
polished. Her place is the one closest to the floor.
On special occasions the family driver drops by with fresh white orchids.
Every other week, the crypt keeper replaces the wilted flowers with white ones, always.
An iron ring holds up the cylindrical flower vase. A bracelet made out of
glittery plastic butterfly-shaped beads has hung around it for years.
Scotch tape marks show where other greeting or farewell cards once were.
In faded pencil on moldy card paper, childhood chicken scrawl reads Happy birthday Nana! and We miss you very much.
The gray marble of the crypt area gives off a vibe like it’s always cold there.
Nearby, a stack of Monoblock chairs is free for visitors’ use. . The letter A was lucky for Nana, I suppose. Fortune and life came to those she christened with that letter. Her travel agency, Atlas. Her children: Ambeth, the only boy; Aleth, the third child and second daughter; Annabelle, the youngest. Then my grandparents had a “fifth child”. Anihan: my first home away from the city—the property Nana and my grandfather devoted most of their lives to. .
In the shameless Comic Sans font, a brochure written by my grandfather
Welcome to Anihan Botanical Gardens!
Located at Barangay Bulacnin, in idyllic Lipa City,
at an elevation of 1000 feet above sea level Anihan enjoys the cool and balmy air of the countryside. Exotic plants that thrive only in high elevation areas are always in bloom. Ornamental plants with colorful foliage have brighter hues and tones as compared to those in lowland gardens.
Welcome then, to these thirty-three specialty gardens
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that took a retired engineer and his charming wife, Belen Ocampo, almost ten years of patience and perseverance in collecting and sourcing some of the most exotic and rare plants from various countries.
Tourist buses may park along the fronting hi-way while
private cars may park inside along the entrance road under the canopy of mango trees with endemic orchid species festooned on the main branches. .
The woman had stopped running around the hospital yet still she shrieked
obscenities at the nurses gathered by the doors lining the hallway. Moments passed and it was clear that she was shrieking towards nobody in particular. The doctors caught up to her, sat her down on a wheelchair, contemplated using sedatives. The bundle she clutched to her chest neither moved, nor made a sound, nor could it be pried away from her—and anyway there wasn’t anything in the midst of those cotton blankets. She hadn’t seen the child since it entered the operation room. It was a long walk from that wing of the hospital to the waiting area outside the operation room, and in the cold fluorescent light they saw—past her perfectly kept hairdo, past her jewelry, past her floral printed sundress—she was all hysterics and spasms, sobbing, trembling, screaming.
Three syllables overpowered the footfalls they left behind as they wheeled
Maribel, Maribel, Maribel…
After the incident, she never mentioned her first child, the only one of her
offspring exempt from a name that began with the letter A. The child would be the aunt none of her grandchildren would ever meet and the sister none of her other children would grow up with. Three months was all the time she spent with the child before the failed operation. That’s all anyone ever knew of Maria Belen. . They said “her childhood ended when she reached the age of nine.” They said “the strictness by which she brought up her own children was a result of her experience during the Japanese-American war.” They said “her mother passed away of tuberculosis. They said she “was left to singlehandedly parent her other siblings.” They said “her father remarried a wicked stepmother.” I only remember the household run by my grandmother during regular Sunday lunches, New Year’s Eve dinners, Christmas Day gatherings, and rare sleepovers. They said she “never spoiled her kids.” She
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said to them once, “You should be grateful you have someone to raise you.” . The playground in Lipa was always well shaded by a canopy of leaves; it reeked of mud and fruit that had fallen and rotten.
There was only one way to get up and two to get down from the ant-infest-
ed tree house—the steel ladder shaped like a beanstalk, and the rusty fire pole.
There were two slides—the one built into a fat old elephant down whose
trunk you slid, and the other more risky one built into a tall giraffe’s neck.
There was a maze that opened at the mouth of an enormous shark, the
inside of which could suffocate anyone inside with the smell of animal droppings and the almost-invisible spider webs when you got near a dead end.
There was a tiny carousel with steel bars in the place of bejeweled horses,
with wheels that were never oiled enough to move.
There were monkey bars beside the closed-off mound of soil under which
rabbits grew and multiplied.
There were swarms of red ants near the rabbit pen.
In the morning, Nana would stroll through her two-hectare plant collec-
tion. One of her stops would be the herbal garden at the front of the house. From there, if we were already up and about, she could hear my cousins and me playing in the park she and my grandfather had built for us. I don’t remember her ever setting foot in the playground. . They said she “wanted to be cremated and put inside a vault nearest the ground so she could have elaborate flower arrangements adorning her resting place.” I thought she just enjoyed the earth and its bounteousness. They said “there was no way she could have such florid ornamentations if she were placed in a higher spot on the crypt walls.” . Belen’s first death anniversary was a large gathering in the Anihan property. A large parachute shielded the gazebo at the back of the farmhouse from the heat of the noontime sun.
Round tables accommodated her large clan—relatives, former colleagues,
friends from her society of plant collectors. The buffet tables were shortly wiped out.
Her immediate family along with the guests who remained in the hopes of
maybe a late merienda gathered around the receiving area at the front of the house.
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They passed around stapled envelopes.
A signal was made. They opened the envelopes and released the butterflies
they didn’t know they were holding. The flurry of white winged insects lingered awhile with shouts of joy and awe and remembrance.
There was a little procession from the gazebo to a small garden. There they
gathered around a mound of rock and soil from which mussaenda grew. They watched the widower take in his fist ashes from an urn. They shielded their eyes from the sun to better see his methodical scattering of his wife’s remains around the mound.
They waited as the priest sprinkled Holy Water, consecrating the touched
earth. They paid their respects and then went their own separate ways back to the city. . They said “her favorite flowers were always white”—particularly orchids. I figured she enjoyed seeing things clean and pure. They said “white flowers were more likely to have a fragrance over colorful ones and that their strong scent was to compensate for plainness.” . Our nine-hectare property was the best place to see pink elephants grow in such great numbers. My grandmother had around a thousand of them. They thrived in cool temperatures. They preferred to stay away from direct sunlight. They were more lilac than pink, really. . The bride-to-be was eight years her groom’s junior. Upon her head, a three-meter long veil weighed down heavily. It was a delicate thing, flown in from Madrid, made of lace and intricate beadwork. With every step, her veil twinkled—a benediction on her wedding day. She walked down the aisle in all glamor and grace, holding to her chest a bouquet of white Cattleya flowers. The cathedral was overrun with white orchid flower arrangements. She was married on the 13th of April in the year 1958—just three days before her husband’s birthday. They were married for a good forty-five years. . The Phalaenopsis schilleriana, otherwise known as the pink elephant, is a species endemic to the Philippines. Often, they are mistaken for tiger orchids. Other times, they’re confused with their species’ genus, the moth orchid. They grow best on hanging or elevated pots. Their stems point downward, and their petals look like
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beads on a pendant. From an angle, the flowers do look like the absurdity after which they are named. Pink elephants are in full bloom around mid-April every year. . They said “her good friend and fellow flora collector, Elenita Binay, had given her an exotic bird as a gift.” They said it was “a fairly large bird that had a long golden tail and bright red feathers.” They said “they woke up one morning to find the bird missing from its enclosed space.” I’d like to think the bird flew away to a place more fitting for its beauty than a mere cage. They said “someone must’ve stolen it in the night.” . After she died, Nana appeared in one of my mother’s dreams. Nana was sitting down on her bed with all the jewelry she owned wrapped in thin paper and laid out beside her. My mother cataloged the jewelry she left behind—the pearls, the sapphire earrings, the emerald pendants. Only one item was missing: a jewelry set encrusted with rubies. When my mother asked where the rubies had gone, Nana couldn’t look her in the eye despite all the while saying she had no idea. . They said she and my grandfather “traveled to different countries for their botanical research.” They said “they smuggled some plants into the country.” I tried imagining a younger Nana meticulously packing seedlings into boxes to be shipped back to Manila. They never said which plants were runaways no matter how many times we’d stroll past them. . Anihan had famous gardens from various countries replicated and collected around what used to be a golf course.
A concrete dragon’s yellow tail stretched out around a Chinese porcelain
stool and table set. Pebbles were regularly raked around fifteen larger irregularly shaped stones to resemble a temple my grandfather visited in Kyoto.
A shrine lacking incense mimicked a garden of Balinese origin.
There was a Polynesian garden, a Thai garden, and an African garden. I no longer remember how these—and the others I’ve failed to enumerate—looked like. . They said my grandfather “used to own a small plane with five passenger seats—the perfect size to fit exactly everyone in his conjugal family.” They said “Nana hated
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it.” They said “she’d mutter indecencies every time the plane would jerk in the air.” I vaguely remember her on a trip to Boracay, tensed up in her little seat on the jet plane that could only accommodate sixteen people, excluding the pilots. They said “they sold the 5-seater plane because the upkeep was an inconvenience and a bad investment.” . Nana died before her gardens of the world collection was finished. Part of the field was left unfinished. A patch of ground that had been dug up failed to turn into the koi fishpond my grandfather wanted. An area never visited and never built upon eventually became off limits. Venomous snakes nested in the impassable area. . A new hybrid orchid species was successfully bred inside Anihan. My grandfather had it named after Nana. I don’t remember what it looked like. I don’t remember what it was exactly called. I don’t know if any more of that flower lives up to this day. . People talk about the dead as an attempt to bring them back to life. The power to immortalize someone comes from parted lips. The very words that escape them solidify into the bodies they’ve buried or burned. The person in their memories is within earshot. And then like the dead they’ve commemorated, they dread to lay the topic to rest. The space will feel emptier. The line between life and death will thicken. The words will hang at the tip of one’s tongue. The lover, the friend, the kin they commemorate will be reduced to a mere breath or whisper. Nobody directly admits they wish the dead were still alive. But when they do, they write it down. They write it down to later on search for missing details—things they didn’t know lay in between lines and spaces. o
I MISS YOU
IL LU S T R AT I O N BY N ATA S H A R IN G O R
T H E W I N DOW I L LUSION WORDS BY KUNA ZERO PHOTO BY EMILIA K ESKINEN
I see through the window,
Construction soon followed;
Houses, but not.
I do not remember it.
I know the truth,
A family came, the third pig,
My memories interfere.
To live in the red-brick house.
They tell me ‘home’,
Childhood home, that is,
A view from a friend’s room,
I only met one,
Overlooking the expanse of life.
And we never spoke again.
I grew up,
We grew up,
In a vast city,
As strangers and neighbours.
But not of stone or concrete,
Perhaps I know some names;
A city of trees.
Perhaps they know some.
Maybe I was on a trip,
When I left,
Across my known world,
Strangers they were still,
To an unfamiliar view,
Despite all my nervous yearning,
New stone in old woods.
And our close proximity.
When I was young,
Return now to the window,
There stood a bush by my house.
Where I see red-bricks in the now.
It possessed secrets,
No longer an illusion,
The secrets of time.
But a reference to the past. o
Then one day, Demolition came and tore it down. An old playground, Reduced to rubble.
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H AT I NG K A PAT I D
Isang sanaysay. MGA SA LITA NI A LEK X A NDR A TOY H ACO
sang taon at dalawang buwan ang agwat ng kapanganakan namin ng aking nakababatang kapatid na si Kerren. Di malayong isang taon pa
lamang ako, walang kamalay-malay, tinuruan na ako ng aking nanay na matutong magbigay sa mas bata. Ganoon daw kasi iyon. Kailangang mas maging mabuti at mapagpasensya ang matanda. Wala namang sapat na kadahilanan na ibinigay ang aking mga magulang kung bakit kailangang magbigay ang ate, kaya hanggang ngayon iniisip ko pa rin kung bakit nga ba. Gayunpaman, nakalakihan ko na ang sabi ng aking nanay. Kaya naman, sa halos lahat ng bagay, kailangan parating pinagbibigyan ko ang aking nakababatang kapatid. Kahit pa sa simpleng bagay tulad ng isang baso ng Coke.
Isang beses kasi noong aking kabataan ay nagdala ang aking
Tita (kapatid na babae ng aking ina) ng isang bote ng Coke. Bakas pa sa aking isipan ang halos abot-langit kong kasiyahan noon. Sa wakas, sa unang pagkakataon sa aking buhay, makatitikim na rin ako ng matamis, malamig, at masarap na Coke.
Habang bitbit ang aming mga basong plastic, dali-dali kam-
ing tumakbo ni Kerren sa silid-kainan, Pagdating namin sa hapag ay inunang bigyan ng aking Tita ang mga matatanda, ang kanyang mga kapatid. Isa-isa kong inantay na mapuno ang bawat basong nailapag sa tabi ng bote ng Coke. Lilima rin ata iyon. Kay tagal para sa isang musmos at nagtitimping bata! Sa wakas, lumipas rin ang mga sandali at
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baso na namin ng aking kapatid ang nasa unahan ng pila.
Unang sinalinan ang aking baso. Kay higpit lamang ng pagpigil
ko sa aking kinikilig na tiyan. Salamat! Salamat! Ayan na ang coke!, ibinigkas ng nagliliwanag kong mga mata ang mga salitang di masambit ng nanahimik na bibig. Nang matapos ang pagsasalin, hindi ko kaagad kinuha ang aking baso sapagkat inantay ko ring malagyan iyong sa aking kapatid – para naman hindi nahahalatang naaatat at nagmamadali. Alas, isang malaking pagkakamali! Dahil noong pagkatapos na pagkatapos masalinan ang kanyang baso, labis niyang itinabi ito sa akin at tiningnan ang guhit ng dami ng Coke sa aking sariling nasalinan.
“Bakit mas marami kay ate?” tanong niya sa boses na halong
may pagmamakaawa at inis.
Tinignan ko rin. Nakararami nga iyong akin – ng dadalawang
At walang pasabi ay kinuha niya ang aking baso, isinalinan ang
kanya ng ilang higop na nararapat sana ay sa akin, ibinaba at sinabing, “Ayan, mas marami na iyong akin,” nang may ngiting halatang nanlalamang.
Huh! lamang ang nasambit ko sa sarili. Masyadong mabilis ang
mga pangyayari at wala na akong nagawa kundi mapatungo na lamang.
“Hayaan mo na, Alekx,” mahinhing bulong ng aking nanay
sa aking tenga, mga kamay nakakapit sa aking mga nanginginig na balikat. “Hating-kapatid.”
Hindi ko alam kung paano, pero sa murang edad na apat ay
natutunan ko nang hindi patas ang mundo. o
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QU E S T IONS WOR DS BY W INA PUA NGCO PHOTOGR A PH BY OSA MU K A NEKO
You on the telephone telling me what you ate for dinner. Me painting my nails, holding the phone between my ear and my shoulder. You—a voice through the transpacific wire; hi to the fish in the sea, hi to the men off of the coast of Nagasaki, hi to the strangers who live on the border between Tokyo and Yokohama, hi to the city I’ve never seen. Me flopped on the bed and smelling the smells of dinner slipping in through the open door. You, asking what I’m doing. Me saying I need to do something. You saying just a few more minutes. Me, reminding you of overseas charges. Me hanging up; blame it on the distance or the ocean or the rain. You in Japan, looking for keychains to bring me. You, on a plane. You with a soda in hand and bags under your eyes. You, looking for somewhere they gift wrap. Me watching TV in the living room. You looking for a bow that’s purple enough. Me chatting with friends. You, wondering if I’ll reply. Me not knowing when you’ll be back. You in a red shirt. You don’t have to. You want to, though— Me, crossing and re-crossing my legs. Us taking the bus. Us eating nuts. People outside sweeping the shore. Other
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drivers cursing in cars. You worrying about the floods. You asking about the next few days. Me shrugging as I miss my stop. Me not worrying about things like this. Us losing track of time— Me, tapping my fingers on whatever surface I can find. You on the flight delayed. You, kissing my wrists. Me looking for other things. You saying pick one. Me saying enough is enough. Me crossing the line. Me in command. Me on the bus. Me in demand. Me in your car. You living alone. You on the bus. W HAT
Your history: A man and a woman meet at a party. She’s sitting on the couch, drinking a beer. He isn’t from around here. He’s swirling shallow brandy in a glass. He sits beside her. Someone’s handing out treats. He introduces himself. She gives him her name. How does he know the host? A friend of a friend. He clears his throat. She crosses her legs. Hi.
An introduction: So what do you do? I run a business. You’re in the business of—? Credit and loans in third-world economies. We’re trying to see how big-time, long-term borrowing will fare with the labor force in the
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southeast. It’s going well, so far. Sure. You can get pretty much anything on credit these days. Just about. You know, something that’s always confused me is the difference between loans and insurance. I mean you pay for both slowly and you get tricked by both into paying for more while feeling like you’re paying for less—no offense—so why call it two different things? Because they’re different—none taken, by the way. Loans offer you something tangible—a TV, a house and lot, a new Honda—whereas insurance: come on, how does one buy a limb? More so a limb you may or may not need in the future. Sure. I mean it’s only life right? Sorry, what do you do? Nevermind, it’s boring. Come on. I’m a doctor.
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A phone call:
She twirls the cord around her index finger twice
and then hangs up again.
The strip turns pink.
In 1996: my milk tooth wouldn’t fall out. It sat in my mouth, dangling from gum flesh, determined to hang on even if a new tooth was already trying to replace it. My dad taught me how to tie it to the door knob and one, two, three—! In 1998: you hit a home run with your fist, knocking your baseball batforearm into your friend’s face. In 2000, we thought the world would end.
I went to church a lot.
Your mom married her boyfriend.
In 2006, on prom night—
I was crying in purple tulle, sobbing to a pop song.
You were in the boy’s bathroom, nursing an erection as stub
born as a bastard son.
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Outside, people were dancing.
In 2009 you said hi. I said hi. You said your name. I said my name.
Along the highway. In a car. Someplace new. By the ocean. On a bus. Manila, Makati, Quezon City. On a train. In his kitchen. In the library. On her way. At a party. Along EDSA. Down south. Out of his way, out of place. Up on the rooftop. Somewhere in the city. In the trap. On the second floor. Over the ocean. Tokyo, Chiba, Yokohama. On a plane. In her room. On his bed. Out of sight. Out of mind. WHY
Because insurance insures nothing—at least borrowed things are yours for a while or at least for as long as you’re still alive. Because every apology is a question. Because it’s harder to laugh these days. Because my milk tooth wouldn’t fall out; because you could’ve hit the words right out of my mouth for me but you didn’t want to feel guilt like that again. Because turns out dislocation may just as well be destruction, it would seem: I don’t know where you are—over the ocean, under the ground—because it never hurts to try—except when it does—but it any case you learn to do it yourself because we are in the business of being assholes because we are experts on the anatomy of loss and if you can’t go wrong what do you have to lose? HOW
With all the visceral affections of your mother’s old Honda. o
C A R N I VA L T E A C U P S STORY BY K EV IN BAUTISTA PHOTOGR APH BY BASHEER TOME
he two of us were trying hard figuring out the conversations the couple were having inside a bookstore. Instinct tells us they are a couple working undercov-
er as performance artists, or sales agents. Maybe, I said, they are selling aquariums. For thirty minutes the couple was going in and out of restaurants and shops asking people around, people who didn’t have much to say.
All of a sudden, the couple burst into laughing.
“There isn’t much about silent films,” she said, and disabled the mute op-
tion of the TV.
There were commercials about a night cream, a whitening lotion, and a
breaking news about a house on fire at Project 4.
I was about to close my eyes when I heard about the fire. The people
of the community surmised that the caretaker of the house, an old man in his eighties, started the fire. The baranggay captain said nothing about the caretaker’s habit of lighting candles before sleeping, or where his relatives are; the captain instead thought of the reclusive nature of the caretaker as something unusual, even eccentric.
In an interview, I heard a kid say that he has never seen the man since he
was born. Even the townsfolk who have lived there for decades didn’t know anything about the man but his walking stick. “He just likes his house for himself,” a woman said.
From the background, I imagine a group of men were carrying buckets
of water in a hurry. The field reporter said that the two-hectare house has been abandoned for sixteen years, and the caretaker was the only one who dared to live in it.
There was the weather forecast. “Some scattered rainshowers and thun-
derstorms,” the weatherwoman said as her hands made broad sweeps on the screens behind her. I clutched the comforter, tucked it under my arms, and closed my eyes. I tried hearing the disembodied voices from the television.
“I wonder,” she said, “how you would look like without the facial hair.”
Her voice issued from the other side of the bed, facing the bedside table and the blinds.
“Oh, I don’t know,” I said, feeling my chin, my neck. “It hasn’t even
grown to a stubble.”
“I just think it’s neat, you know.”
I first sat on the edge of the bed and on my way to the kitchen I heard the
TV commercials again, this time about a fabric softener and a hotline for pizza
The fridge had little to offer. Most of the juice cartons were beyond their
expiration dates, so I resorted to milk. I poured it on two mugs and microwaved it. The two mugs rotated in silence, and the thought of my grandmother repulsed me from looking into the microwave. During a brief stay in Guam, a year before she was hospitalized, she used to forbid me from doing it.
“It emits radiation,” she would say in a slur characteristic of old age.
Then she would pat my arms and in a meditative walk from the kitchen to the porch, she would bring with her a cup of tea and newspaper. Outside, bicycles of different colors would clutter the beach and the sands would glint in the hard, afternoon light.
Those were the days when I didn’t know what radiation meant, or what it
did in Chernobyl, or how the word “cataract” defined the mist in her eyes.
I heard the steady stream of water from the pipes leading to the bath-
room, and within the intervals of opening and closing the shower I heard her humming. Before turning the lights off I thought of taking the trash to the chute. I found some slippers, walked to the corridor, found the chute three rooms away.
A deliveryman was waiting at my doorstep. I told the guy he was prob-
ably knocking at the wrong room. I watched him check the delivery slip. He shrugged and said, “Probably a prank, but thanks anyway.” From the kitchen I rushed to set the mugs and leftover crackers at the bedside table.
“What’s up with the news,” she said when I snatched the remote control
from the bedside table. She turned to the bedside lamp and helped herself with a warm mug of milk.
I was standing while flicking the channels. The news was that the fire
hadn’t spread to the neighboring houses. The residents were thankful that their houses were spared. The mayor made a statement that if not for the fire brigade, the entire community would have been razed.
Just as I have nicked myself while shaving, I tried rinsing the wound with
water but it didn’t stop. I stood on the toilet, naked, and from the tiny bathroom window was a view of the city and the burning house. It looked like a little bonfire sitting in the middle of the city. I was staring at it when she started knocking on the door. o
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NOSTA LGI A WORDS BY HANNAH GORDON PHOTOGR APH BY JASH M A NUEL
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miss a lot in life.
your stupid pick up lines. I miss your
I miss the simplicity of child-
I miss your cheesy jokes. I miss
hood. The feeling of hot chocolate
drunk texts late at night that made me
running down my throat after playing in
feel special because you sent them to
the snow for hours. I miss waking up to
me. I miss the way you said my name. It
pancakes. I miss recess and cooties and
doesn’t sound the same anymore.
show-and-tell. I miss the clarity of it.
never have. I miss the memories we
I miss warm sheets at bedtime
But mostly, I miss what I’ll
and the ghost stories we weren’t sup-
would have made. The inside jokes we
posed to tell. I miss sleepless nights
would have laughed at. I miss the times I
because of those ghost stories.
would’ve seen your face walking through
the door. I miss a world where I don’t
I miss wholeness. I miss feeling
as though everything was still possible,
miss you because I don’t have to. I miss
not a distant memory ever out of reach,
hugging you. I miss teasing you. I miss
ever around the bend. I miss thinking I
you. I miss you. I miss you.
could be president someday. I miss hav-
ing faith in presidents.
had never met you. It would have felt
I miss everything.
like some integral piece of myself was
I miss your laugh. I miss your
missing. But I also miss the time that I
smile. I miss your stupid hair that was
didn’t know you. Where I didn’t know
always messy. I miss how you didn’t even
what it was like to miss you. Does that
care. I miss how you laughed because I
make me a crazy person?
I miss your God-awful music
I think I’d miss you even if I
Sometimes I wonder if you miss
me. I wonder if you’re watching me miss-
taste. I miss the parties where you’d try
ing you and shaking your head. I wonder
to deejay and people would groan very
if you’re sitting right next to me, telling
audibly but never stop you. I miss the
me to stop writing this, and stop missing
sounds of joy everyone made when you
you—but you miss me, too.
walked into the room. I miss vying for
your attention, because everyone loved
you. Everyone still loves you.
Do they let you miss people in
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PE R IODIC DR A M AT IC
There is something about period dramas that manages to grab peopleâ€™s attentions as well as hearts. Cindy Hernandez ponders on the appeal of these inherently nostalgic shows. STORY BY CINDY HER NA NDEZ , PHOTOGR A PH BY H A ROLD EGEBERG
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n recent years, the trend to take us back to previous decades, some of which we studied in world history class or have read
about in books, has taken television over. I think of film titles first, when period dramas are being discussed, as the list is vast: Almost Famous, The Piano, The King’s Speech, In Darkness, etc. Fortunately, we no longer have to take the transient experience films give us, as we can sit back in our couches, turn on the tube, and delve into past decades we previously preferred to experience in two-hour installments.
Television executives probably thought audiences were
ready to embark on lengthier journeys to other realms, and it seems to have paid off. Current popular period dramas airing on TV cover the pre-World War I (Downton Abbey) era and the recent closing of the Cold War/the fight for civil liberties (Mad Men)— the shows being covered in this piece fall within those decades, including an eighties era cult classic (Freaks and Geeks) that only ran for twelve episodes.
Sit back, as we’re going to find what it is about these pe-
riod dramas that attract audiences. For one thing, everyone gets a bit nostalgic, sometimes even for decades ahead of when we were born—I sometimes wish I had been born forty years before my birth, just so that I could experience The Doors firsthand, but
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Nostalgia can be a deceitful sickness for the majority of usâ€”trying to relive past moments of glory to the point that one can forget to live in the present and embrace it. thatâ€™s just me.
Nostalgia can be a deceitful sickness for the majority of usâ€”
trying to relive past moments of glory to the point that one can forget to live in the present and embrace it. The good thing about primetime dramas aired on television is that we can yearn for nostalgia that will be over in an hour, will come back the following week, and will be resolved, eventually. Shows like Downton Abbey, Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men, and Freaks and Geeks allows us to fall into worlds we know some facts about, but whose air we never breathed. In part, this yearning to escape from our technology-driven lives is what brings us back to watching an upper class British family deal with daily life, gangsters and bootleggers easing the pain of monotonous days through booze and crime, and seeing how effortless it is for these ad men to down booze at nine in the morning.
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D O W N T ON A B B E Y Set in Great Britain, just following the sinking of the Titanic, this British soap opera has garnered quite the following. The show is titled after the manor in which the protagonists of the drama, the Crawley family and their servants, live. The show has been running for four seasons, the same time Boardwalk Empire has been on the air.
From forums I’ve read about DA, one can deduce that al-
though it is an exported program, most viewers enamored by it come from the U.S. Many viewers have confessed how addicting the show can be, to the point of spending up to six hours behind their computer screens to catch up to the newest season. They go as far as to argue with British dissenters, telling them they have no idea what they’re talking about—it is common knowledge that these British “dissenters” have grown up watching similar dramas previously produced by the BBC. The Brits call the show “average” and prefer the likes of U.S. cable shows like Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men.
What we can garner from these comments is clearly that
the novel aesthete of the show is possibly the biggest attraction for its current foreign viewers. Viewers are so enamored by this show that despite it airing on the Public Broadcasting Service channel in the U.S., it is referenced in current sitcoms and on every site that focuses on making top reasons why everyone should watch it.
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B O A R D WA L K E MP IR E As aforementioned, Boardwalk Empire has been running four seasons; the latest season was concluded a few weeks ago. This drama takes place in Atlantic City, New Jersey during the Prohibition era. History plays a large role in this show; the plot stays true to historical happenings of the 1920’s, while also fictionalizing the lives of real gangsters, politicians, and participants that made it easier for the masses to acquire alcoholic drinks amongst other things.
What seems to be the first thing that attracts fans to the
show, happened three years ago, when the pilot was directed by Martin Scorcese, but what seems to retain the viewers goes beyond that first episode. Viewers appreciate the accuracy behind the production design, the script, and the modifications of the real Nucky’s life (played by Steve Buscemi), as well as his friends’ and enemies’.
The show follows real gangsters and bootleggers; you can
find yourself immersed in the lives of Al Capone (AKA Scarface), Charles “Lucky” Luciano (the father of organized crime and protector of the biggest bootleggers during prohibition), and Enoch Thompson (based on Enoch Johnson, who was a corrupt Atlantic City official), amongst others.
One of the biggest reasons as to why viewers keep com-
ing back to Boardwalk is the writers’ beautiful blending of history and fiction. The writers’ storytelling, their depth in developing the characters, along with the action scenes between entities whose moral code is ambiguous, and the portrayal of the actors, is enough to keep viewers on edge, ready to come back for more.
Other viewers gush over the aesthete of that time. Imagine
being transported through the tube back to the ‘20s when King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington were the prominent figures of Jazz.
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M A D ME N In case you’re not interested in experiencing the television version of the tension people lived during the thirties and forties, there’s the drama that tries to keep up with the sixties through the lives of the executives at Sterling Cooper & Partners. Mad Men has been on the air for six seasons, showing us the taxing lives housewives, ad men, and anyone who enters their world went through to get us to where our current U.S. society stands.
The show, like Boardwalk Empire, follows the lives of fic-
tional characters and oftentimes includes historical happenings. Not long ago, Jon Hamm’s Don Draper, went to a concert trying to get the Rolling Stones to be part of a commercial his agency was trying to get—most recently, they displayed the riots happening on the East Coast when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Unlike Boardwalk, none of the characters dramatized are based on specific real people. The drama shows us with what simplicity it was back then to live an amoral life in a world where facades were very important. It allow us to see how fortunate we are that segregation no longer is supported by law, and how the sixties’ wave of feminism has called for an equality between the sexes (although still failed and in need of improvements), and how much we still need to push for improvements in our society.
At times, it is quite easy to sit back and enjoy Mad Men
and take it for what it mainly is: the depiction of what an amoral life could be, nothing but adultery, drugs, office drama, lies, and a never-ending amount of alcohol. Part of its charm, and really, any drama out there including all of the ones mentioned before, is that “amoral.” There is something about how these characters represent a deplorable and flawed person, which we can’t resist. Audiences keep coming back to this show.
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F R E A K S A ND GE E K S This show takes place about twenty years
which is something we can all relate to.
after Mad Men, and unlike the adver-
Fans of the show entrust the show’s great-
tising drama, it didn’t get past its first
ness to its real depiction of high school
season. Although only a dozen episodes
life. I remember my high school years,
aired over a decade ago, the show has gar-
and those stereotypes embodied by the
nered a cult following, even more so now
cast, although not completely true, were
that the William McKinley High School
part of being a teenager. It is no wonder
alumni have moved on to prominent roles
that even now, when we’ve graduated
in film and television. The show followed
high school, gone to college, married or
brother and sister, Sam and Lindsay Weir,
grown up, still find ourselves compelled
during the 1980-1981 school year. What
to watch this.
made Freaks and Geeks such a bittersweet
show was how effortless it made relating
Geeks unlike any “other teenage TV
to the characters, and how unfortunate it
shows.” Claiming that what makes them
was that its life was cut short.
re-watch episodes is due to the “reality of
From first experience, I can say
the themes and plots.” Amongst the most
that I found out about Freaks and Geeks
prevalent reasons sometimes comes down
after it aired and it was out on DVD.
to the show’s characters portraying peo-
Many people can relate to how devastat-
ple we knew in high school, or people we
ing it was later on to learn that this 80s-
thought we wanted to be at such a vulner-
placed drama—or comedy—has only
able time in our formative years.
eighteen episodes to its name. Although
its ratings didn’t do so well during its
ing actual viewers of such shows is that
short run, when NBC failed to air the re-
they admire great, intelligent writing
maining episodes, fans.
embodied by actors who have mastered
The show introduces us to Lind-
their craft in worlds that we would other-
say, who is torn between being a mathlete
wise be unable to experience for lengthier
and a geek—we see her make multiple
mistakes and continuous selfish deeds,
Fans have dubbed Freaks and
What I have learned from read-
CL I N K I NG I N CL A NDE S T I N E
A look at the finest bars in Manila and why theyâ€™re kept in secret, and the history behind them. STORY BY GI A N FR A NCO BER NA R DINO, PHO TO G R A PH BY I A N GU E VA R R A
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wo years ago, the first speakeasy opened in Manila. Located in the heart of Makati somewhere along Salcedo road in Legazpi village was a bar called “The
Blind Pig”. The bar was something of an altar. Lined up on it’s shelves were worldclass spirits used to make the finest drinks. The bartender stood proud, a master of his craft, serving cocktails created in an artisan fashion, conjuring concoctions that would leave you and your taste buds buzzing from just a drink or two.
I stepped into Blind Pig a year and a half ago without expectation, because
I had no idea what I was getting into. It was my first time at a proper cocktail bar. So, when I got out of my car at the location which had no sign, just a door and marker on the wall with braille embossed on it, I knew I was in for something different.
“What, do we just stand here?”
I asked my aunt as we waited by the door without even knocking. She
points to the small camera on the top frame of the door.
“They know we’re here. Be patient.”
The door opened without anyone on the other end, and my aunt and I
stepped into a small and dark greeting room. Inside, you could barely make out anything because of the lack of light. There was only the faint, yellow light that crept through black curtains which I assumed was the rest of the bar. A lady in black emerged from inside the curtains. At that point I was thinking it was more like a horror-house than a bar. She smiled warmly and asked for our reservations. We gave her our information promptly and she held back the curtains to reveal a warm, dimly lit interior that had 10 tables max. We sat at the bar, and observed while waiting to be served. He greeted us with a smile and asks what we’re having. I looked at my aunt.
“We’ll do some classics.” She said.
“Alright, what are you in the mood for?”
Then we got started.
He carefully pours in a shot of gin. It’s a 60 ml pour. That’s around twice
the Manila standard for alcohol servings, followed by one part sweet vermouth, and one part Campari. I asked him what he is making. “A Negroni. A classic. This was invented around 1910 in Florence, Italy.” I sip on the drink and immediately a slew
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of different complex flavors floods my palate. It’s bold, rich, smooth, and strong without having an aftertaste. I’ve never had a drink like this before.
It was an entire night of drinks just like these, but all crafted completely
different, and in a million different fashions. Every procedure was specifically used for a certain drink. It was a science. Some methods didn’t go well with others, some did. It was chemistry, what can go with what and why. It was physics, the method of mixing, shaking, the temperatures all had to be perfect. It was math, two parts rye bourbon, one part Benedictine, I was all parts befuddled and you can never get your pours wrong. By the end of it, I was wobbly and things moved much slower than they used to. It was a calmer world. In high school, I suppose this was the part that I’d pass out, but I didn’t. For some reason even the hit of the alcohol was different- I liked it.
At my very first taste I realized by comparison how rancid the drinks we
had grown up around were- And we didn’t know any better because we had no point of reference for a refined drink. We thought spirits like Grey Goose and Blue Label was high-end. We had drinks like The Slippery Nipple or Long Islands. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with these drinks and everyone is entitled to their opinions, but these drinks simply take no artistry to create. We were a generation of shots and gimmicky drinks. Things that required no palate to drink- and quite often the lack of one would have been preferable. I think to myself “I can’t imagine what it must have been like in the 10’s-20’s” A time and place when the creation of these kinds of drinks were commonplace.
That’s the whole theme of places like this- a throwback to the golden days
of alcohol appreciation, when the bartender was as venerated as the chef, when drinks required just as much skill and precision to make as a beef wellington.
This was not how it was for me growing up. Most of my generation only
knew the “Dark Ages of Alcohol” (As it’s sometimes called.) Getting plastered off of B52’s, flaming shots, cheap beer, and gin and tonics. People drank to get wasted, not to appreciate the quality of a mixed drink. It’s not their fault, however. We didn’t know that alcohol could be appreciated in that way, we thought that that’s
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what it was for, getting buzzy and doing crazy things. We thought it a supplement to a night of enjoyment, instead of it’s centerpiece.
Little did we know in the quiet hours of the evenings, in nooks and cranny’s
we didn’t care to look, people flocked in secret to savor a nectarine that we didn’t even know existed. Sure, it was much more expensive but there was a reason that they are much more expensive. It’s just like paying for a fine dinner in a refined cuisine. Every drink is unique and every ingredient an entirely new direction. This is what gives the whole experience such diversity. With each drink came flavors and elements that burst forth with every ingredient that was added into the mix; and the potential ingredients were infinite. It was a barrage of different tastes to spoil the senses with every drink. The ways to make these are endless, and anyone could find a flavor that they’d like. Sweet, sour, bitter, smoky, dry, it was all there- It’s just a matter of finding how you like your drinks.
I understood then at least one reason why they kept these places a secret,
they didn’t want people like us in their bars. We didn’t get it. We didn’t understand the quality of a fine bourbon, and the artistry that takes place within a drink’s creation. We just wanted to get drunk out of our minds. We didn’t know how to respect the art of crafting mixed drinks. And to quote a friend: “To us, at that age, they were just a means to an end, and that the quickest route from point A to B was what we took, it didn’t matter if we enjoyed the ride.” (We often hated it.)
It was a binary contrast. A new world had, in one drink, simply unfolded
before my eyes. I wanted to know more about the practice of cocktails. The fine liqueur, the tasty ingredients, the precision, the art that is making a cocktail. Most importantly, I wanted to know why it took so long for this culture to re-emerge in the modern world and the reasons for the speakeasies elusive nature. o
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T H E N WOR D
Why nostalgia is a bad driver down memory lane when it has narcissism on the passenger seat. STORY BY K ARLA BERNARDO ILLUSTR ATIONS BY TZ A DDI ESGUER R A & DA NIEL A GO
ostalgia is a funny thing. When you’re with your high school friends, having dinner for the first time in ages, remembering your apple cut seems more
cute than humiliating. When your mom brings out five photo albums showcasing Christmases and birthdays from ten years ago, seeing your horrified face beside Jollibee is priceless. But when you’re alone in your room on a Thursday night, and your iTunes plays a trick on you by playing Ben Folds Five, that song which reminds you of hands once held, nostalgia is no longer a friend. In fact, it becomes a foe that shakes up every system of your being, waking up all parts of you, giving you all shades of sadness and wistfulness and despair. Before long, you’re reaching for your phone and typing some sad lyric, coupled with an angry footnote regret-
ting the just threshed out feeling.
So much for #ThrowbackThursday, huh.
Nostalgia is a funny thing. When we look back on our past, so much of our
emotions are amplified by nostalgia goggles. Sad moments become more painful, funny moments become more hilarious; and consequently, our part in each of them becomes bigger and bigger with each recall. It seems as if the more distant we are to the memory, the more nostalgia robs us of its clarity. In many ways, nostalgia
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Nostalgia is becoming more and more a social experience than it is a personal one. involves a level of self-deception that blurs out the little things – or sometimes, even the big things – in order to make a perfect picture. A picture that’s worth telling about, posting on some site, and earning some likes.
Nostalgia is probably an entirely different creature for us and for those of
the older generations. To my grandmother, for instance, it probably meant sitting beside me on the couch, my legs on her lap and her hands on my knees. She would tell the story of how their class would be segregated by sex during her college days in Manila, or how she had to resist going to the movies to watch “An Affair to Remember” because it involved a scandalous relationship. Nostalgia meant telling the story using only her words to paint the picture; nostalgia meant closing her eyes for a second to relive the moment. It was basking yourself in the comfort of a distant memory, and keeping yourself in that bubble for a little while. But then, like a bubble blown into the air, it pops, and all that’s left is a funny anecdote, and the satisfaction of having shared it.
A professor of mine once told us that man has the nature to tell stories be-
cause it is in telling them that we make sense of them. At its core, storytelling is not for the audience, but for our self. Every time we look back on something from our past and recreate it using our gestures, our phrases, our words, we are in the process of putting together the pieces that will make that moment a piece of a coherent whole. A stroll down memory lane is not so much a performance as it is a prayer – it is a quiet reflection on what used to be and what was left of it. The fulfillment can be found in the self that made sense of the past.
But these days, nostalgia is becoming more and more a social experience
than it is a personal one. Every other day or so, I’d find a friend’s baby photo as a profile picture. Or I’d suddenly see a group picture from a very unfortunate time in the unfashionable, awkward, adolescent past, with the #tbt hashtag. We revel
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in the fact that we are putting together a
could very well be tomorrow’s throw-
piece of past selves for show: “Hey, look at
back, we forget to live in the moment as
me! This was me!” With each hashtag is
we should, and instead focus on how this
the anticipation for a like, a comment, or
would make us look good x years from
a share. It’s like stopping your car in front
now. We are so completely preoccupied
of people and asking them if they want to
with how the future will look at us, that
take a ride with you down memory lane.
we lose sight of how the present should
Which is fine and dandy, and
completely alright – nothing wrong with
inviting everyone along for the stroll. But
with a sense of entitlement: because of the
the thing with putting our wistful long-
rose-colored glasses (or rather, Instagram
ing for the past out there for everyone
filters) we so conspicuously place on our
to see on social media is that it instead
selective past, we tend to think ourselves
makes us more preoccupied with how we
having “earned” some sort of right into
are perceived by others. We worry about
the present. We think we are cooler for
what photos are cute, what memories are
having grown up at this decade, we shake
hilarious. Whereas nostalgia is supposed
our heads in disbelief towards younger
to be spontaneous, it now becomes a cal-
people who we think are belonging to
culated, manipulated ploy, created merely
a culture so beneath ours. We wear the
to garner attention. Insight? Not always.
past like a proud badge across our chest:
There’s nothing wrong with
this was what it was like then, kids. Too
looking into only the good things in our
bad today sucks. But we don’t really grasp
past, and celebrating them. But memories
how today is worse than yesterday beyond
are unreliable narrators – they don’t al-
the surface. We only say so because it feels
ways give us the whole picture, let alone
like it and everyone else says it. We say
the truth. For the sake of show or spec-
it because as a sweeping statement, 90s
tacle, we tend to segregate our memory:
Kidz R Cool sounds a legitimate enough
only those that are good enough to be
argument. And looks cute enough to be
posted on Facebook are worth remember-
on a statement tee.
Today’s “nostalgia” also comes
Nostalgia is no longer a single,
And as a consequence of that, we
beautiful moment of looking back and
now take our steps in the present more
relishing a memory. It has become a com-
cautiously. So conscious of how this now
modity. And it’s concerned with putting
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ourselves at the center of everything in
trip with other people. But we shouldn’t
the past in order to make it relevant. Sure,
have to dig our past if only to make peo-
it’s still a trip down memory lane – but
ple notice. We look at our past because
it doesn’t count for much if it doesn’t in-
there is something that we want to make
volve Me being more liked for it by every-
sense of, or even just remember. But it can
and should not be changed – it cannot be
Nostalgia is a funny thing. It
distorted by filters or hashtags. Nostalgia
brings us to the past – and it’s always nice
shouldn’t be crafted. It’s spontaneous, and
to remember your idyllic summer days or
personal, and natural. It’s a curious little
that awkward, hormonal teenager phase.
thing: it can creep up from behind you in
But it shouldn’t distort our understand-
the strangest of ways in the most ungodly
ing of the world: this world. The now, the
of hours. But it doesn’t have to be for an
present. The past should always be placed
audience. And it doesn’t have to be just
in a context. We share something from
about you. Relish in the past because you
yesteryear because it was meaningful –
need it, not because the trends say so. Nos-
it belonged to a time that once was, but
talgia is a funny thing, but it doesn’t need
is no longer. True, it is nice to share this
an entire audience laughing. o
UN T I T L E D BY BERLIN MITCHELL
Write nostalgia ,
I’d love to
See you try.
Through us all.
Bleed and Bodies die So nostalgia May just Follow suit. Yet there I stand, Glimmering Spider webs Over my eyes, Following a Bright moon. Nonexistent Fairies whisper In my ear As I read Current after Undercurrent. Dew mixes With blood And I wonder
S TA C H E 2 7 0
HOP S C O T C H BY M A IL A N FA LCU L A N
What is it again about closures?
The finality of doors
I had to be sewn together shut and clean.
sucking their breaths as they fit their jambs,
We sat and had some Scotch
of loose sheets of skin stitched firmly
at a bar at the end of a crosswalk.
I held my breath and waited for your
of a dense syllable free-falling from your
“No,” you said. It was a thud of pebble on a numbered piece of
“No.” I have never seen lines so drawn
well. Reminds me of childhood afternoons
Somewhere, a door slammed shut.
full of hopscotch
What is it again about closures?
with neighborhood kids my mom dis-
I am relieved. You and I,
we scratched out shapes around us. We won’t have to discuss if
I am relieved. I do not have to guess if
a step is within or out of the lines.
I should reach out for your hand when
And for the first time, we thought alike.
we cross the street. The crosswalk is painted white in this city. The lines are all drawn well. My mom hated it when I get scars on my legs. But one afternoon, I went home with a jagged slit on my calf from skipping around chalk
S TA C H E 2 7 1
F R A GME N TA R Y BY KERV IN CALABIAS
Our silences running like a Coppola film
uttering only what matters or what can outlast silence;
The sight of you holding unto a borrowed Murakami book, leaning towards the west of the sun, reading as the bus
A walk on an endless street of pine trees,
you breathing in everything this city has to offer;
Spoken word, spoken verse all poetry like songs spoken intact in our memory;
Train rides from end to end, the cityâ€™s way of reaching out;
Cinematic cues and real life in your Floating boats on dark parks as I digress
from every thought of you rowing for The invitation to stay but only for a mo-
ment; The passage of a last conversation, The bar you came to love and half empty
apologies saying their goodbyes greeting
things that can never change;
The future I never planned;
Downing three books, drunk on someone elseâ€™s life until one wakes up sober
Questions of what songs to listen to and
and ready to write;
questions never meant to be asked; I never meant to love you; An Up Dharma Down song on repeat And I will never forget things I never
drowned repetitive arguments;
meant. I will stay sober and other lies; City with too many streets only to find ourselves in intersections;
S TA C H E 2 7 2
S UND AY S BY MARY MAE LUNA
Sundays are old photographs with rusts of its former frames housing it over the yearsâ€” in a box, under the bed, or in the attic. We preserve time and space on pieces of paper in the hopes of remembering what once were fragments of memories forgotten.
S TA C H E 2 7 3
T H E SOU ND A N R AY MON
One of todayâ€™s most formidable young us about his journey from the high sch Stone Italia; and gives his take on you magnetism of STORY BY M ARIAH R EODICA, PH
STYLED BY EC
D T H E F U RY OF ND A NG
g writers in the Philippine print tells hool news paper to Rogue and Rolling uth culture, Marian Rivera, and the f journalism. OTOGR APHED BY JASH M A NUEL,
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ow do you write a profile on someone who writes profiles for a living, someone who has interviewed some of the country’s most famous celebrities and contro-
versial public figures? You do it how he does it. Raymond Ang tells me that in order to write a good profile you should focus not only on a subject’s particular image, and that as much as possible you should show your readers all they have to know about him or her—whether or not they would find it biased. All the details count. So here are some particulars: Raymond Ang is twenty-five-years-old, and he is a writer, and he is not very fond of interviews.
“Honestly, I’m not very comfortable with that,” he says. “I’d rather do the
interview than be interviewed. Yuck, feeling artista!”
For someone who is used to being the one throwing the questions, Ray-
mond Ang settles into his new role with ease, which makes me wonder why he isn’t so keen on being interviewed.
This Sunday afternoon, I am sitting across him in a coffee shop in a qui-
eter part of Shangri-La, and he answers our questions with a candor and charisma one often sees in the most seasoned interviewees. Or perhaps he has gone through enough interviews to know the right answers to give, the right disposition with which to give them.
Or maybe, like cigarettes and coffee and Hemingway’s Vermouth Panache,
it’s simply a writer thing—his not being used being the subject.
As it happens, Raymond Ang’s being a writer was something he did not
anticipate; before he was a writer, he didn’t really see himself as someone good at any particular thing. He took up painting and the violin and he even ended up on LSGH’s swim team. Then one day in the seventh grade, his teacher entered him in a writing competition. But Raymond didn’t know how to write. She insisted. He won. “She told me, ‘from now on you’re a writer,’” he recounts, laughing.
Like most writers, good writers, before any of his works began to be pub-
lished, he was first a reader.
“I remember in late grade school, I’d sneak into the library in the adult
section because they had the racier stuff like Switch Bitch,” he recalls. “I’d say, “Wow, may ‘bitch’ in the title! But Roald Dahl was my big thing.” Roald Dahl was
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a crucial writer, serving as the bridge be-
stuff more because I feel more disci-
tween young adult novels and the rest of
plined,” he says. “Now, [I] just want to
meet the deadline and pass it. You wish
you had more time but you don’t.”
His gravitation to literary pur-
suits also shows in his taste of music and
films. Among his favorite films are The
was a cover line on the December 2011
Apartment (1960) and Holiday (1938),
issue of Rolling Stone Italia, which re-
and he has seen all of Alfred Hitchcock’s
published it as one of the best articles in
films. He listened to Fiona Apple and
the past 10 years. It was a retrospective of
Death Cab for Cutie, who are known for
the production of Francis Ford Coppola’s
their pensive, introspective lyrics.
sprawling war epic, Apocalypse Now,
which was shot in the Philippines.
In college he studied in Ateneo
His piece Gods and Monsters
de Manila University, where he was the
editor-in-chief of its official newspaper,
ment for someone fresh out of college,
the Guidon, and tried his hand at fiction
especially considering that a lot of more
for classes when he had a class under Krip
established writers at Rogue at the time
Yuson Yuson. He was also involved with
turned it down. “I thought, how the fuck
the Loyola Film Circle and the Ateneo
am I going to do this? It was so big, and
there were so many interviews.”
Raymond is far from that sev-
It was a daunting first assign-
It took him two months of inter-
enth grader who was entered into a writ-
viewing former crew members and other
ing competition unaware, having written
people onset to carve a narrative out of
for some of the country’s best publica-
research. His extensive piece chronicled
tions since then, but he isn’t immune to
the aftermath of the production of Fran-
the sting of hindsight.
cis Ford Coppola’s sprawling war epic,
“I still cringe every time I read
Apocalypse Now, which went over budg-
[my articles]!” He laughs. But I suppose
et by over $24 million dollars and had
everyone, writer or not, is afflicted some-
a grueling shoot that was meant to last
times by that curious brand of embarrass-
three months but was stretched to a year-
ment of being confronted by something
and-a-half, was heavily dependent on the
which comes from the past.
cooperation of Filipinos—from the mili-
tary to the people living in the vicinity.
“I actually like some of my old
C OV E R S TO RY
The film had an accompanying docu-
the narrative. He searches for the context
mentary named Hearts of Darkness: A
in which his subjects would flourish the
Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, but its narrative
best. When he sets up an interview and
isn’t of the people who lived in the actual
they offer to talk to him in their office,
setting that was committed to celluloid.
he’ll set the interview somewhere unu-
Filipinos even became a scapegoat for the
technical and logistical difficulties that
the crew encountered. However, after the
Wilson, instead of typically sitting down
last camera has been packed and the stars
with her in the make-up room or a cof-
safely ensconced on a plane home, what
fee shop, he offered to be her personal as-
was left was a lot of interesting stories
sistant for a day—following her around
which needed to be told.
as she went about her errands, fixing her
apartment, shopping—having ended wit-
“More than anything, it matters
When he interviewed Georgina
to me more that it was in Rolling Stone,”
nessing her at her most candid.
Raymond says of the piece. “The first
magazine I bought was Rolling Stone at
have given me, the freedom to do that.”
Booksale when I was twelve. So when I
write a profile, to get into that space, I
good interviewee: First, they have to have
read Rolling Stone. Iba ang way they do
history. Age doesn’t matter; there has to
profiles. It’s fair.” This ethos is what he
have been a history, or an interior life.
stands by when it comes to writing, and it
Second, there has to be somewhere in
has gotten him far.
that history a rise and fall. Those make
When writing about people, he
for an interesting story because, to him,
makes it a point to do something that is
that’s when someone’s learned something.
off the beaten track. If there were some-
one he knows would make a good inter-
interviews, it takes him a while to think
view, he’d insist on taking it. In his niche
about it. Certain top celebrities today, he
in the Philippine writing industry, there
feels, wouldn’t make an interesting inter-
are certain liberties he can take in writing
view. He wouldn’t be too keen, for exam-
ple, on interviewing Beyonce Knowles.
“Can you imagine how boring that’d be?”
He acknowledges that writing is
a privileged act wherein he can control
“That’s what Rogue and Star For him, this is what makes a
When I ask him about his dream
He’d rather interview Miley Cyrus.
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It was a daunting first assignment for someone fresh out of college, especially considering that a lot of more established writers at Rogue at the time turned it down.
Take for example Marian Rivera. She is the quintessential heroine in the
stories Raymond writes. “I loved that she was incredibly blunt,” he says of the outspoken Kapuso star. “The point she was making was that people give her so much flak because she doesn’t know how to speak English well, but that it’s so unnationalistic to think that way because we’re Filipinos. So for Filipinos to say you’re not smart because you speak in Filipino, there’s something undemocratic about that.”
As the editor of a weekly newspaper section and a contributing features
editor to Rogue, being busy doesn’t really give him the privilege of agonizing over his writing or taking his time with it, let alone waiting around for inspiration to overcome writers’ block.
“Hard work beats talent,” he says. He doesn’t wait around for writer’s block
to go away, or for inspiration to waltz in. “I think you have to tie the muse down and chain her.”
The strength of his writing lies in their clarity and fairness. There are writ-
ers who are able to write exquisite, verbose prose, but his strength has always been getting what he wants to say across. That’s not to say that his writing lacks a certain creative artistry; he finds beauty in simplicity.
“If you can’t do lengthy prose, then don’t do it. Change the structure, play
with it. Study it.” It’s a principle that stands strong in journalism, where conciseness is a priority considering the limitations imposed by the medium of print.
The printed word is his platform, where he can showcase the best of what
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the Philippines has to offer. Enter the
that appropriates something foreign and
Young Star section. As the its editor, his
makes it Filipino, which he approves of.
goal is to push youth culture, as exempli-
“The art of editing or making a maga-
fied by their tag line, “Youth plus their
zine is making a choice and sticking with
passions minus the bull.” It’s more than
it, and really standing by your decision,”
the make-up tips or one-line jokes that
he says firmly. This is why he believes in
other youth publications offer.
the compelling power of the medium of
“It’s more inspiring as a kid to
print, even though he concedes that it’s
see someone who’s not particularly good-
deemed old school. There’s also a certain
looking or pedigreed, but have their own
satisfaction in seeing something in print
merit, achieving things.” He’d rather
as opposed to a screen. The sentimental-
feature high school kids who have won
ity suits him well anyway.
Palanca awards or who have had their
photos in National Geographic.
Hollywood movies with happy endings. I
want good to win at the end. I guess that’s
He keeps his ear on youth culture
“I’m a romantic,” he says, “I watch
because there’s the sense of discovery and
the confidence of youth. To him, even if
the young people seem like the underdog
either. “I’m only twenty-five, but I’ve al-
against the odds of the adults who rule
ways wanted to be thirty.” To him, it’s the
the world, there’s a confidence in them
age where a person has learned a lot and
that drives young people to do things.
knows what they really want. They’ve
“It can become arrogance, but sometimes
gone through their highs and lows, but
you need that.”
still have time to do something.
As an editor, aside from forward-
He isn’t afraid of growing old,
“Sting was old when he became
ing youth culture, he also wants to push
a rock star. Clint Eastwood didn’t start
people to support their local culture,
directing until he was forty. J.K. Rowling
and artists whom he believes are doing
didn’t write until she was thirty, too,” he
something genuine and honest. Take
explains,” I don’t mind getting old as long
Proudrace, for example, which is a brand
as I can still go back to who I was when I
C OV E R S TO RY
I think you have to tie the muse down and chain her. was nineteen.”
After all is said and done, past the awards and the titles, at the root of his
achievements is the love of storytelling, and sharing it to others. Throughout the duration of the interview, which was over an hour long, Raymond showed an enthusiasm for his craft and his creed: A dedication to writing, having faith in youth culture, and being passionate about what he does. That kind of drive is something he shares in common with a lot of young people that he writes about. “I can write fiction. I can write journalism. But I can’t write about myself,” he says with a laugh. That’s where we step in. Part of the beauty of journalism is that on a personal level, there’s a lot that someone can learn from an interview. We both agree that after interviewing someone who has come a long way, they impart a sense of confidence to you that inspires you to go out there into the world and do something. It’s the kind of empowerment that the youth needs to go forward.
“I feel like I have the best job because I learn a lot. I feel like I should be
paying people for interviews. I’d love to say ‘Thank you for that inspiring talk,’” he said. We feel the same. o
C U LT U R E
ART EDITED BY JARED CARL MILLAN
M A R L E E B A N TA A photographer shares the influence of nostalgia in her works. BY TONIE MORENO
JP CUISON The popular OPM concert poster maker talks to stache about his art. BY ECKS ABITONA
ISA GRASSI The person behind the Polaroid Project. BY TONIE MORENO
NOS TA LGI A : a DISCOU R SE
Photographer Marlee Banta reflects on her past, and how it influences her photographs. STORY BY TONIE MORENO
t is customary for legends to start from humble beginnings. At age 12, Marlee Banta picked up a flip-phone and started using its camera to shoot images that
made her feel happy. 7 years later, Marlee takes up film photography with a much wider audience and the same effortless objective: 19-year-old Marlee Banta evokes a feeling of nostalgia and wistfulness, opening a doorway into lovely, beautiful dreams and melancholic forgotten memories.
Marlee Banta began to pursue photography when the people around her
started to be affected by the images on her flip-phone. Before she knew it, the flipphone was replaced with her mother’s point and shoot and eventually a manual film camera.
Her photographs remind us of how we can ache and feel for the past of not
only ourselves but others, just like how it reminds Marlee how happy she was at the time. “I don’t remember being this steadily happy as I am telling you right now. I can only assume from photographs and stories that this is the case.”
For Marlee, photography helps people see magic in the mundane. “I want
to take pictures of the beautiful things that go on in my life every day, from a drive to the coast with friends to a peaceful morning yawn. I want to create images that, while realistic and minimally edited, are still close to magical. I want to remind myself and others that magical things happen every day.”
Extreme happiness and extreme sadness were things that constantly trou-
bled Marlee; discovery of life’s societal corruption through first-hand disappointments took a toll on her. “I distinctly remember the first time I ever felt sad.... I wasn’t entirely satisfied. I had no reason to be unhappy though, I just was…
Photography remained with me though. It was always there to remind me of the beautiful things.”
When asked what her creative process is like, Marlee says that she picks up
her camera, points it towards something beautiful and clicks. “Sometimes though, I have a precious thought that I want to set free and document. Other times, I will go out and seek beauty or make something less beautiful seem much,much more. It is my way of grasping, understanding and transforming reality.”
In line with this month’s theme, we asked Marlee what she misses most
about her childhood:
“I remember so many happy and simple joys,” she recalls. “I miss life being
more about living and appreciating those little things as opposed to about work and a ticking clock.”
The photos Marlee sent to us resonated with her on a personal note---
“Some of the photos I chose were …because of the memory they are attached to; a more literal translation of nostalgia. Others…because they represent times of reflection into the past or cause me to think and ponder time itself. Either way, all the photos I chose represent, to me, a sadness and happiness in regards to life and everything along the way.”
To love everything she has inside of her and to never compromise herself
for anything: this is what 19-year-old Marlee Banta would like to tell her younger self. “Most of all though, I’d want her to let herself be free because look at how many ways we can all live our lives. There are so many and I would want her to know that then.
In the end, Marlee Banta is just a teenage girl who likes to say “yes” to ad-
venture and dance away sadness, all in between capturing things that reminds her how beautiful the world is. o Send Marlee some love at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can check out more of her photography at http://www.flickr.com/photos/marlee_is_awake
T H E p o l a r o i d PROJ E C T
The Polaroid Project captures a piece of the musician, permanently embedded into film. WOR DS BY TONIE MOR ENO, PHOTOGR A PHS BY ISA GR ASSI
he Polaroid Project is the brainchild of Isa Grassi, a 22-year-old artist from San Francisco. Her photos encapsulate the essence of a mu-
sician, all within the plastic and paper of a Polaroid. The Polaroid Project aims to capture that tiny quirk that exposes a bit of the musician, regardless if they look flawless or a complete wreck. It allows them to be themselves, resulting in photographs that are subjective yet suggestive. The Polaroid Project features London Grammar, The 1975, Tom Odell, Sohn, Shy Girls and a plethora of other artists. T E L L U S A B OU T T H E P OL A ROI D PROJ E C T.
It’s something I had wanted to do for a while, but never got to establish until recently. The time wasn’t right. I needed to strip everything down to the bone, focus on myself and grow as an artist as well as a person in order to get to where I am now, and give this project the attention and development needed.
I wanted to inaugurate the project with London Grammar,
which I did, but at the time I didn’t have my own camera so one of my friends was kind enough to let me borrow hers. However, the day of the show it ended up eating my whole roll of film leaving me with a malfunctioning camera and no film. And that’s when I got my current camera as a gift from this other friend of mine, right before the show. And have been taking it with me to every show since. But I mean, all this is something I was already doing, minus the polar-
oids. Venues are my second home and I always try to exchange a few words with the artist. It’s an exchange of appreciation between individuals, equally important for both the listener and the performer.
I chose polaroids because they are physical and a one-of-a-kind
type of photography. We live in a digital world where pictures are a lot easier to take and reproduce, which makes the piece feel less valuable at times. But what actually got me hooked was the developing process. When you take a picture, the light that bounces off of the subject gets burnt into the film that then pops out of the camera. I like to think of it as a fragment of the person you are portraying, getting permanently captured into the film. So you could almost say you end up with a piece of their soul, transforming the picture into something more than just a picture. W H AT WA S YOU R G OA L W I T H T H E P OL A ROI D PROJ E C T A N D W H Y DID YOU START?
As an illustrator, I’m used to depicting both reality and fiction in relation to me and to what I know and have seen for myself. It’s all an extension of my perception, and I think I just grew tired of making everything about me – I wanted to expand my art and my experience to other fields.
I’m not doing this project for any other reason apart from my
love for music and the respect I bear towards the people behind it. Even though it isn’t about me, it’s still a projection of the expression of my
entity through other individuals. It’s a form of documentation. I’m still documenting my life, I just happen to be doing it through polaroids. Polaroids of amazing figures, but mostly amazing people. People that way too often we forget are just like us.
But mainly, I just want people to fall in love with these indi-
viduals, with their entity, and not because they are popular amongst our society. I want people to look past the pretty faces and stylized looks, and appreciate them for what they are and not necessarily who they are. What’s in store for the future and where do you want to take it?
Definitely more polaroids! This is something I’ll keep doing
for the rest of my life. I’ll keep attending concerts and festivals and hopefully one day I’ll get to photograph the greats. Because why not? Why stop, and be content and not aim for more and better?
I definitely want to extend The Polaroid Project to videos as
well in the near feature. Capture little snippets of these individuals and maybe turn it into a short or a movie, sort of like Vivienne Dick’s Guerillere Talks. Or maybe none of these but it is definitely something I want to explore. o
Check out The Polaroid Project at http://www.thepolaroidproject.co/
JP CU ISON
The local indie sceneâ€™s gig poster hero reveals details about his childhood aspirations and the inspiration behind his aesthetics STORY BY NESSA SANTOS
ailing from the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts and now working as an Associate Creative Director in Advertising company, JP Cui-
son is an all-around-artist who can juggle advertising, designing, illustrating, toycollecting, and his musical and film endeavors, among many others. We are not oblivious to the fact that his prolific career in gig poster making has already made a superior impression on the local indie music and art scene that he already branched out on designing album covers and shoes and having his own exhibit, Gigzilla. HOW DID YOU R C A R E ER A S A GIG POST ER A RT IST COM E A BOU T, A N D IS IT W H AT YOU’ V E A LWAYS A SPIR ED TO BE?
Gusto ko talagang maging musician after kong grumaduate sa UP. To cut
the long story short, hindi natupad yung “rock star dream” and napunta ako sa field ng Advertising. Masaya naman sa Advertising pero ang reality is hindi mo magagawa talaga yung gusto mo dahil maraming “artistic restrictions.” I got frustrated with my work so on the side, naghanap ako ng something kung saan yung direction ko ang masusunod hanggang sa nadiscover ko ang gig poster making. I asked my friend sa Revolver Production na nagpapa-gig na gagawa ako ng poster ng gig niya, kahit free. Kailangan ko lang ng pahinga. Tapos yun, the rest is history. YOU R WOR K S SOM EHOW R E MI N D M E OF 80 -90S CI N E M A BIL LBOA R DS A N D COMIC S FUSED W IT H GR E AT R EFER ENCE S TO POP CU LT U R E , A N D IT AC T UA L LY M A K E S M E QU IT E NOSTA LGIC . W HO W ER E/A R E YOU R M A I N I N FLU ENCE S, A N D W H ER E DO YOU GET YOU R I NSPIR AT ION?
My influences are Jack Kirby, Frank Kozik, Ed Roth and Andy Warhol.
Pero yes, kadalasan yung mga inspirations ko ay from 80s comics, cartoons and toys. Lumaki ako reading Funny Komiks. Gustong gusto yung comics doon na Combatron by Berlin Manalaysay. Ngayon, I enjoy watching The Regular Show sa
Cartoon Network. Dati trip ko Adventure Time pero maraming occult references, kaya tinigil ko na. However, I do think my aesthetics reflect my personality. T EL L US A BOU T YOU R FAVOR IT E WOR K(S) A S OF Y ET.
My favorite work so far is yung movie poster na ginawa ko for Blue Busta-
mante. Ang saya lang niya kasi hindi ko ginawa kung ano yung expected sa akin. Medyo nilihis ko siya pero nagustuhan pa rin siya ng mga tao. M AY W E TA K E A PE EK I N TO YOU R CR E AT I V E PROCE SS? HOW T H E H EL L DO YOU COM E U P W IT H A L L T H E SE SICK POST ER S?
I pray to God for guidance and idea, lalo na kapag na-stuck ako. Pero usually,
I start with the concert poster title/band name as my jumping board. Kailangan kasi ma-capture ko yung theme nung concert sa visuals ko. For the posters minsan I use brush pen, minsan tech pen, minsan ballpen, depende kung anong trip ko. Depende rin kung gaano katagal bago ako makatapos ng poster, minsan isang araw, minsan isang linggo. Nakakatulong din to read books and watch Family Guy, Simpsons, Futurama and American Dad. W H AT IS T H E BE ST T HI NG A BOU T BEI NG A GIG POST ER A RT IST? A SIDE FROM T H AT, DO YOU H AV E A N A LT ER EGO T H AT DOE S SOM ET HI NG EL SE BE SIDE S M A K E A RT?
Free entrance sa gigs. Aside from my gig posters, gumagawa rin ako ng adver-
tisements. My day job kasi is an Associate Creative Director sa isang ad agency. Yung pagiging poster artist wala sa pangarap ko, pero kung gagawa ako ng poster ng band, pangarap ko makagawa for MGMT, Paul McCartney, Blur, and Tame Impala. o
BR E A K I NG t he T R A DI T ION
Before there were Photoshop and InDesign and Illustrator art were made by hand, literally. We pay homage to old but not dead practice by interpreting one subject two ways-digital and traditional. I L LUS T R AT ION S BY M I K A B AC A N I, PAT R IC I A M A PI L , JA M E S BE R N A BE , J E S S A N M I R A MON, A LYSSA DE A SIS, MIC A AGR EG A DO
ILLUSTR ATION BY JAMES BERNABE & JESSAN MIR AMON
ILLUSTR ATION BY A LYSSA DE A SIS & MIC A AGR EGA DO
I L LUS T R AT ION BY PAT R IC I A M A PI L I & M I K A B AC A N I
HER SENSE and SENSIBILIT Y
There is something about Celina de Guzman’s art that is at once dainty and bold, delicat and harsh. We try to find out if an art is indeed a reflection of an artist’s sensibilities.
STORY BY NINA PINEDA
PHOTOGR APHED BY JASH MANUEL
SPECIA L THA NKS TO CH A R M A INE PINEDA
ome things are not meant to happen. But for sixteen-year-old Celina de Guzman, not passing any entrance exams in college may have
just pointed the direction with which the rest of her life is to follow.
I meet her on a rainy Tuesday afternoon. She is cute and shy
and reserved and she reminds me of a china doll—delicate and dainty, and this appearance of self-containment, I would later learn, is reflected in her works.
Celina is dressed more or less modestly today, in a patterned
dress in grey and brown sandals, totally unlike the misconceptions we have of how “artists” dress up. At first glance, you wouldn’t think that such talent and skill could come from such a quiet, soft-spoken girl.
She has been featured in Juxtapoz, an art magazine based in
San Francisco, California; Status Magazine, a youth culture magazine; and in Heima, a home & lifestyle store.
I ask her how she got started in the arts.
“It just started when I was younger, like during kinder, I knew
I wanted to draw,” she tells me. “I was helping my classmates with their homeworks then, and you know, it just stuck, from grade school to high school.” She then proceeds to tell me about the fact that she considered for a brief period taking culinary instead when she had failed to pass any entrance exams. “I was thinking it’s either I take the fine arts exam—the talent test, as they referred to it —or I enter culinary. I passed the talent test so there, that’s when I became serious with that.”
Celina lets out a nervous
to say that I find myself included. Her
laugh when I ask her to share a defini-
works are predominantly grim, and
tive moment in her childhood that in-
are balanced out by splashes of bright,
fluenced her sensibilities and defined
pastel colors which lends a false ap-
her as an artist, or even just as a per-
pearance of being cute and delicate.
They are reminiscent of Yoshitomo “Oh gosh, I don’t know,” she
Nara’s works, only darker and with
admits, her hand covering her mouth
more stray lines. “It feels nice being
ever so slightly. “I don’t want to think
able to release tension in thin lines
this influenced my art, but I’m a mid-
and loose strokes, everything being so
dle child. My parents noticed my sis-
freehand,” she tells me of her affinity
ter more, my ate, or the bunso, so you
for that particular style.
know, the revolving theme of my art-
works is like love and the lack of it,
lustrate is that I make sure I balance
or neglect.” And with a playful wave
off emotions by creating something
of her hand, she adds, “Maybe I’m be-
dark and adding soft colors like pas-
ing maarte or something about it, but
tels. Like if the subject is someone in
that’s pretty much it.”
pain or someone is sad, I try to incor-
Talent runs in the family, too.
porate bright colors.” And it works.
Her sister having exposed her to art at
Not many people can pull off it off
a young age. “We both draw,” she tells
stunningly, and in a way, this juxtapo-
me, “but she’s more design though—
sition of contrasting themes and mak-
user interfaces and apps.”
ing it work so effortlessly is what sepa-
With that in mind, I ask her
rates Celina from other artists. People
how her parents felt towards her art,
say there is no such thing as ‘original-
because there’s a predilection which is
ity’ nowadays; everything has been
so inherent of parents, especially be-
done before. But Celina manages to
cause of their being from a different
create art that is unlike any other. Her
generation, for being prejudiced about
works are not unlike a breath of fresh
art and artistic endeavors in general.
air. One could only wonder how she
developed such a strong and unique
She pauses for short while and
“The thing I do whenever I il-
shrugs. “Yeah, but at first, they want-
ed me to take up nursing,” she shares.
“But lately, they’ve been seeing that
looking for my style,” she says. “I was
I’m doing good and people appreciate
introduced to an artist. He’s from the
renaissance period, but his artworks
are a bit dark. His name is Egon
And by people, I would like
“During college, I was sort of
C OV E R S TO RY
Schiele, and I found his artworks
check off. “When I was in second year
really interesting—how he created
college, I wanted to create vinyl toys,”
anatomy, how he warped it, and how
she shares to me with an excited grin.
everything still looked so together and
“That was the time I was dependent
perfect. I figured I could sort of like,
on Adobe Illustrator so I was just vec-
attribute my style to his.”
toring these cute things that looked
A quick Google images search
like vinyl toys. I was telling people,
of the Schiele artist brings in thou-
‘oh guys, I’m gonna have a vinyl toy
sands of results, and true enough, you
emporium in the future, and I’m go-
can see just how his style influenced
ing to sell these and these are going
Celina’s, from the distorted lines to
to be so cool.’ ” At this point, her grin
the twisted, Tim Burton vibe. It’s al-
had grown bigger. It seems like she’s
most hard to believe Schiele lived dur-
still keen to the idea of turning her art
ing the renaissance period; his works
into something 3D. “I just don’t want
could be likened to the contemporary
to limit my art and do paper.”
pieces you’d find in high fashion edi-
torials in todays glossies.
someone’s growth, whether or not as
She took up Fine Arts in the
a person or an artist or something
University of the Philippines - Dili-
else. Ten years ago Celina’s art was
man. “Art school,” she stays, “I think
like “a horrible version of Tim Bur-
for me it was helpful in a sense that I
ton.” Her style now, however, had de-
was introduced to artists like the mas-
veloped from a Tim Burton anime to
ters, and it disciplined me in produc-
something else entirely, and she did it
ing artwork like meeting deadlines.
simply by drawing, and drawing end-
That’s pretty much it.”
lessly. “It just happened,” she says. But
that’s in the past. Where does she see
But did it help her develop or
It is always interesting to see
find her own style? “Not really,” she
herself 5 years into the future?
admits. “Don’t rely on art school to be
a great artist. You have to do it your-
though the idea of the immediate fu-
self. You have to push yourself. You
ture was something so far away—and
have to read more. That’s one thing I
in a way, it is. “I honestly don’t know.
regret in college—not taking advan-
Like, right now, I’ve hit a grey area. I
tage of the library. Expose yourself to
think, hopefully in 5 years, 10 years,
other artists, not just the contempo-
I’m going to start doing oil or maybe
rary, but the masters, the classics.”
stray away from digital stuff.”
She shares a certain item on
her bucket list that she has yet to
“5 years,” she echoes, as
This piques my interest. In
the age of Facebook and Internet and
C OV E R S TO RY
C OV E R S TO RY
“If you want to create art, then go create art“ wireless connectivity, it is easy to lose track of the more traditional way of doing things, making things. So I ask her which she prefers more, “traditional or digital art?”
“Oh, that’s hard,” she gushes. “When I illustrate, I do it in pen-
cil, then I color it in Photoshop. I tried painting and I’m still finding it difficult, especially with combining colors, ‘cause if you mess it up, you have to do it again, unlike in Photoshop.”
Celina also gives me an in-depth look at her creative process.
“I used to be so anal with that,” she explains with a laugh. “I’d stay in our living area and prepare myself coffee and have a bunch of cups I wouldn’t drink just to set the mood. I’d turn on some music—sometimes I have moods where I just listen to angsty, dreamy stuff. I usually work at night when everyone is asleep. I have an aquarium and I just stare at my goldfish.”
And how does she know when she’s finished with her work? “It
depends if I’m happy with it or not. I don’t really do sketches; I don’t do drafts. Whatever I start on paper, that’s it.” And personally, I find that it takes a lot of courage to do that. A lot of artists take as long as a few weeks—even months—poring over their drafts, perfecting every stroke or shade, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. But for someone as reserved as Celina to go through her works headfirst, like a soldier at the front of the line, it’s something worth applauding. It takes a certain kind of intelligence and skill to be able to translate your thoughts and ideas into an actual image on the first try, of which she is capable of doing so almost perfectly.
C OV E R S TO RY
“I just don’t force it,” she says. were jaw-droppingly stunning. Just
“I just sit down and go about my day. looking at them, and at her pieces in I’d rather wait how many months for general, evoke a certain feeling. The something brilliant to come than just adorably creepy and grim vibe it gives forcing an illustration and cry and off draws you in not unlike how sihate it. Or I have an image in my head rens lure fishermen to their deaths. that I’ve already constructed, like a They say that an art is the representhought basically, so I just take it out tation of the artist’s sensibilities, the artist’s core. I ask her if she agrees to
and put it on paper.”
How long does it usually take this.
her to finish a piece? “Maybe,” she
“I’m emotional,” she admits.
trails off for a moment, “If I’m really “I just don’t express myself much. into the piece, ten hours total. I usu- My artworks represent certain events ally cut it into days.”
in my life, like an episode of my life any
specific translated into an image. But you
works of hers that she considers a fa- know, I allow other people to have vorite? It takes her a while to answer, their own interpretations, but basiher eyes wandering, as if she were in cally, yeah, negative stuff. I noticed deep thought. “The thing with me is,” that I always perform better when she finally starts, “after illustrating I’m sad.” something, I fall in love with that il-
Pain truly does drive the artist.
lustration. Then after a few hours, I
And as for her message to the
just start hating it. But I like my fish creative youth? “If you want to create set. It’s called ‘Wish Fish.’ I drew four art, then go create art.” But rememdifferent types of goldfish with arrows ber: “Don’t steal other people’s style. through their bodies. I don’t know, I You can produce your own aesthetic just like how simple yet intricate they not just by visuals; maybe if you listen turned out to be.”
to something, you can get a melody
And intricate it is. The de- of a song or a rhythm and translate it
tails—from the lines to the textures— into lines.” o
EVENTS EDITED BY NINA PINEDA
CAMP SYMMETRY BY NESSA SANTOS
MKTO LIVE IN MANILA BY NINA PINEDA
LAST DINOSAURS BY TONIE MORENO
Singapore was swept away with yet another multi-genre concert that answered every hipster’s prayers. WORDS BY NESSA SANTOS PHOTOS COURTESY OF SY MMETRY ENTERTAINMENT
ix up a sweltering hot Saturday afternoon, every indie lover’s dream-of-a-lineup, picnic mats and Ping-Pong tables and what do
you get? That’s a no-brainer; a kick-ass festival, of course!
Although a newbie in the scene, the camp-themed fête revealed
that they aimed to provide an eclectic array of bands to showcase their passion and talent to all the campers while ensuring they have the best experience out. The 21-year-old genius behind the massive event, Timothy Kek, alongside co-founder Jean Hui, conceived Symmetry Entertainment with the concert-goer in mind, from the pricing of tickets to the type of bands brought in.
Last Dinosaurs and San Cisco unquestionably made us sing
and dance like we were batshit crazy, although Wild Nothing was a bit of a letdown. William Fitzsimmons’ humor was as massive as his beard, but hearing his crisp, yet tender voice almost lulled me into a siesta (it’s not a bad thing if you know his music.) Ra Ra Riot caused playful mayhem amongst the crowd with their ebullient energy – yes, I’m not ashamed to admit that I sang my lungs out to Beta Love, and I won’t divulge any details about what I sounded like. Best Coast couldn’t have wished for better fans when Bethany was serenaded with a birthday song by the festivalgoers.
Mew made time stand still. I know every single soul standing
in front of that stage was enthralled by the brilliance of their music, and more so by how vividly they sounded live. Probably everyone in the crowd had tears in their eyes all throughout, but that didn’t hinder them from asking for more, to which the band obliged.
Although I was there sitting at the hilly part of the venue few
hundred meters away from them, I realized that they are, in fact, aptly
named – for when Explosions in the Sky started playing, I became tremendously aware of the whole place being filled with greatness of their music, as if the garden was my personal heaven and the band was playing for my own pleasure.
You know how at times you keep listening to music that it
somehow loses its luster as it becomes engraved in your bones, like blood flowing in your veins? Music festivals bestow upon us a private platform that reminds us the power of good music. For a festival junkie like me, the last few hours of the event was a transcendental experience, when all I can think of were the late nights I spent listening to these bands, and all is hushed outside. In those times music was enough – enough to captivate me, to consume me, to stir something inside of me – as if it’s something tangible that I can hold in my hands.
Camp Symmetry undeniably did an exceptional job for a fes-
tival first-timer; albeit the muddy ground certainly ruined hundreds of shoe wear, we’d love to go back next year for more bouncy castles and hopefully an even better lineup. We heard that Washed Out, Foals and Arctic Monkeys are amongst their wish list, so who knows? o
MKTO LIV E in M A NIL A
Stache sits down with America’s coolest hip-hop and R&B duo. WORDS BY NESSA SANTOS PHOTOS COURTESY OF SY MMETRY ENTERTAINMENT
n the 14th of December, I met the lovely duo behind MKTO -Malcolm Kelly and Tony Oller. Not only were they the most down-
to-earth people I have ever met, but they were also incredibly amazing and talented live. A lot of musicians nowadays rely on the post-processing of their vocals and whatnot to make them sound good, but for MKTO -- what you see and hear is what you get.
I was lucky enough to get the chance to sit down with them
and talk, and it was quite an experience to be able to pick their brains. I always find myself curious as to why people choose to make music and how they want to impact the world (or at least the listener’s world), so I asked them exactly that. The most successful people, I’ve found, don’t do it for themselves, but rather -- for others. For MKTO, it’s about reaching out.
“One thing we always say is that ‘I’m not gonna sit here and say
I wanna change the world’ ‘cause I think that’s too much of a big thing to do. But I will say with music, like what you said, is something that’s so powerful, like you can relate to somebody on so many levels,” Tony answered my question thoughtfully. “And at the end of the day, that’s an outlook we have on it, too, and all we can do is deal with whatever problems we have that we all go through as a generation, and create music to help people get through that stuff. But our message at the end of the day is that it’s okay to be yourself. Yourself is beautiful. There’s no need to get materialistic or there’s no need to be anything but yourself. Whatever you wanna do, regardless of this person saying ‘that’s impossible,’ or this person saying ‘that’s impossible’ - if you wanna go to the moon, go to the moon.”
“Find a way to get there and go,” Malcolm added with a grin.
And just like that, those two boys became one of my ultimate favorite people on Earth.
When asked about what MKTO means - aside from the fact that it’s their
initials - they told us that it stood for the ‘Misfit Kids and Total Outcasts.’
Tony spoke animatedly about it, saying, “We weren’t about, ‘oh, this is in
so I should wear this.’ It’s just about following your dreams, following your heart, so, Misfit Kids and Total Outcasts is about, y’know, if you’re an outcast, then be an outcast! There’s nothing wrong with that! It’s okay to be yourself - that’s our whole message every time. It’s something we want to relate to people with.”
We even got to talk about how they dealt with all the unavoidable nega-
tivity people enjoy spreading -- from coaches that doubled as bullies, and Spanish teachers that enjoy trash-talking students in their spare time. When asked if their song ‘Thank You’ was their response to all the bullying they went through, Tony said, “Thank You in itself is a sarcastic way of going about a situation but being positive at the same time, and I think that gets under people’s skin more than going ‘oh, screw you, whatever blah blah blah.’ If someone’s going to take the time to do all that stuff, even comment--”
“That means you’re doing something right,” Malcolm finished off for
They covered Icona Pop’s ‘I Love It’ and Lorde’s ‘Royals’ during their live
show, with their on twist on it, of course. Everyone was on their feet dancing and singing along. My personal favorite performance of theirs was when they sang ‘God Only Knows’ (their third single), though. The last song they performed, if I’m not mistaken, was Classic - their most famous single. o
L A S T DI NOSAU R S in MANILA PHO T O G R A PH S B Y A N T ON S A LVA D OR
M I X TA P E
E A S Y T R AV E L COMPIL ED BY FA ITH C A MILL E FAJA R DO PHOTOGR APH BY BASHEER TOME
’m very forgetful. These are songs I like to play whenever I feel like whatever’s happening in the present is going to be worth remembering in the future. Anticipatory
nostalgia, if you will. Download the mixtape at http://www.stachemagazine.com/nostalgia.zip
GENTLY A l c o h ol i c Fa i t h Mi s si on
SK Y HOLDS THE SUN The Bees
LAST NIGHT Ni k k i a n d t h e D o v e
10 MILE STER EO (COUGH SYRUP R EMIX) B e a c h Ho u s e
MR. TAMBOUR INE MAN The Byrds
LOVES WHO UNCOVER (CRYSTAL CASTLES R EMIX) T h e Li t t l e O n e s
08. 03. CHINESE Li l y A l l e n
LALIBELA C a r ib o u
13. 1995 T h e R a d i o D e pt .
09. 04. GOODBYE Best Coast
AGOR APHOBIA Deerhunter
14. IN DR EAMS Dreams
10. 05. SUNBUR N B e a t C on n e c t i on
<3 Mo t h e r
15. GOODBYE FOR EVER E v e n in g s
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