Have yourself a merry little Christmas

One of my guilty pleasures is listening to Christmas songs. A specific one is the song “Have yourself a merry little Christmas”, on repeat, in so many versions.

Before Spotify, I had six different versions of that same song in my playlist, although I can’t remember exactly which ones anymore. I had them on repeat so many times.

This time with Spotify, I created a playlist with almost 50 different versions from different artists, and no two are the same. Each one, albeit the same song, will have a different feel to it. It is a different experience each time.

I do have a few favourites, by:

Kenny G

Michael Buble

Frank Sinatra

Kermit the Frog

The Pretenders

James Taylor

The Carpenters

Feel free to listen to the playlist I have created on Spotify here.

Merry Christmas!

My long-delayed reaction to Adele’s “Hello”

I have to be honest, Adele’s new song and music video “Hello” never really got me until lately. For the past few weeks since it was released, I’ve been wondering why so many people are feeling so much about that song. And for someone who’s heart and mind is so often affected by music and lyrics, her song somehow evaded me, until now.

I see, hear, and feel it now. The sorrow, regret, and longing of that song. Perhaps sometimes we deliberately shut off parts of our system to shield ourselves from pain, even if that pain is from so long ago. Maybe the song was blocked from my system somehow, and it took some time to finally make sense.

Hello, it’s me, I was wondering
If after all these years you’d like to meet to go over everything
They say that time’s supposed to heal, yeah
But I ain’t done much healing

Heck, it’s a line that isn’t so strange to me. But then again, perhaps that’s the only part of the song that makes sense to me. I cannot connect to the rest of the song anymore, because it’s a song of someone who regrets letting go of someone they loved. And if anything, maybe someone else should be singing that song…

Regret is one thing I hate. That’s why I live my life such a way that I will never look back and regret doing or not doing something. So far, I only have one regret in my life that I wish I could undo.

Music is fuel to my soul

Music is fuel to my soul.

Music used to play eternally in my bedroom whenever I am at home, and my sister can attest to this. I savored music during my long commutes to work and home back when I had to go through the hells of C5 or EDSA. I find myself engulfed in music even at work – to the point that some days I obsess on specific songs and have them on loop for the entire day.

Perhaps I’ve gone on too long without feeding my soul. When I moved, there were too many things to be worried about – finding a job, settling down, making sure that I had the basic things that I needed. I worried about running out of money, about eating too much and exercising too little, about watching too much TV. I was so afraid of standing out, of not being able to fit in. Too much on my mind. I didn’t want to bother the other folks at the flat with my music. I was afraid to put on my headphones while commuting since I was still getting used to how the roads worked here (and the way the vehicles go about the opposite way takes some time to get used to). My spotify also did not want to work for a few weeks (I had to update my location in the app just to make it work). The only music fix I would get was in my brother’s car through his spotify, but of course he also had his own music flavour.

I’m rediscovering my music now. Plugged into my headphones at this very moment that I am writing this. I’ve also plugged in during my gym time. I’m also slowly easing back the music in while working. A little bit of music on the speakers at home when the rest are away. I’m starting to get my fix again.

Music is fuel to my soul, and I’m starting to feel a little more alive again.

p.s. Music currently on loop is “Indak” by Up Dharma Down – http://endlessvideo.com/watch?v=tb2uJtlZzbk

The Breakup Playlist – a movie review

The-Breakup-Playlist-Love-and-music-is-in-the-airOut of my innocent boredom, I decided to watch “The Breakup Playlist” at the cinema today. Okay I’ll be honest instead. I really wanted to watch “The Breakup Playlist” so I watched it at the cinema today. So how did I find it?

First of all, I left the cinema with a looping last song syndrome (LSS) in my head until now — “Paano ba ang magmahal?”. Also, I really had an urge to write about it. If anything, I guess that makes the movie effective — there is recall and retention.

Ok, brutal honesty now. The good and the bad:

  •  A number of the product placements are a little bit annoying. They opened story points and introduced characters that were largely unnecessary. What was that big bank transfer to Gino for? What is the relevance of those kids in Trixie’s new house to the story, and how were they related to her? The only product placement I liked, if ever it was really a placement, was that of San Miguel Beer… it belonged appropriately to the scenes that it was included in.
  • I liked the way they structured the movie, where the flow is not chronological. It’s reminiscent of how “100 Days of Summer” was structured, jumping between different points of the story. Was it effective for this particular movie? In a way, yes. They started the whole movie with the most critical part of the characters’ love story. For the rest of the movie, the viewer is left waiting for the reasons how and why they reached that critical part.
  • The actors played the characters well. I believe Sarah Geronimo has greatly improved in her acting, and Piolo Pascual has greatly improved in his singing. Haha. You know what I mean. But my favorite of all is Jett Pangan. I don’t know, I just liked him there.
  • The basis of the story they used for the movie is good and something a lot can very much relate to. However, I think it was a little bit half-baked. The character development and key transitions could have been better. Why did Trixie go back to him in the end just like nothing happened? What was Trixie doing at present time? Why did it take three years for them to have another chance at a reconciliation? What happened to Trixie’s dad and how did it affect her? So many other questions opened by the movie that were never answered.
  • What happened in the three years that they were apart? That was a big black hole for me. I think the movie “One More Chance” did a better job at showing what happened during the gap.
  • Perhaps the “theme” of the movie was very obvious from start to end… it was music, and it was the song “Paano ba ang magmahal?” How many times was that song sung in the movie? I’m not complaining though, it’s a good key element, and it gave me an LSS that will probably last for at least a week. I also like their selection of songs, and their arrangement and performances. TBH, I’m listening to their playlist on Spotify now, and now on the third loop, I think (helps with the writing of this article actually).

Okay, the bloody part done. Here are the key scenes I’ll remember from the movie:

  • “With a smile” song (originally by Eraserheads). This will always be a memorable personal song, and I love how the song fit in to the right parts and corners of the movie. I’m brought back to those sad (or even depressing) moment of my life when a friend comes around with a guitar to sing that to me.
  • Those memorable lines that started with “can you just do me a favor and [get out of my life]?” It has just enough drama. I can pretty much imagine the line being used in real life (fortunately it has never been used by either side in my past relationships). I did envy that confrontation though. It was much better than having someone just disappear without saying anything aside from a text message… (place #hugot here)
  • Three years is actually short if you talk about love and breakups. Sometimes the moving on and the forgetting takes more time than the actual relationship.
  • Falling in love because of music? Agree, it happens.

One thing that the movie made me feel is it made me miss my music. Yes, I was (or am?) a musician. Back in high school I used to jam with some friends. I played the guitar. I also know how to play the piano and have started learning how to play the violin at one point. I love singing (although I can’t really judge if I am any good at it). Playing in a band was a high school dream. Some high school friends did pursue that road. However, it was the university degree and the professional life that I went for. No regrets though. But it would be nice to find a chance to jam again in the future, I hope I still have the music.

The verdict for the movie? It’s worth watching, but not a “must watch”. It’s entertaining, a little bit heart wrenching, a little bit sappy at times, and of course it stars Piolo Pascual. Worth the trip to the cinema if traffic and flooding are not a problem.

Of Weddings and Wedding Singers

My dream wedding singer is Basil Valdez. If you know his songs and you know how beautiful his voice is, you’ll understand where I’m coming from. And when I once met his manager through a friend, I knew this wasn’t impossible. But then again, if ever I end up marrying someone who does not understand Tagalog / Filipino, his songs may end up too foreign.

I also once wished to have The Bloomfields as my wedding band. That was once when I was still with my then-boyfriend (now ex-) and we regularly watched Bloomfields’ gigs. They had nice and sweet songs too. But perhaps they’re no longer a good option for me, eh? 

Then there is my good friend Michael (who I fondly call “Bear”). He’s my mega-talented friend (and this is still an understatement). Way back in college I already asked him to sing at my wedding, and he agreed. I will eventually hold him to that promise. I’ve seen him and his girlfriend perform at our friends’ weddings, and they simply sound heavenly. 

I’ve thought of wedding songs too. I’ve previously had some friends ask for advice on what songs would be good to use at their weddings. Sometimes they do take my advice and the songs turn out nice. I do take care, of course, to never give away a few specific songs I dream to use for my own. 

My own wedding is still not in the horizon though. I have yet to find my groom-to-be, but no rush. So I’ll just decide on the details when it finally comes around. 

I had great opportunity last night to sing at a friend’s wedding reception, my first time ever. Since the bride and groom are non-traditional and planned to have mostly alternative music in their lineup, I opted to choose a song that fit somehow. I originally planned to sing “Lovesong” by the Cure / Adele, and was already practicing it. However, I was drawn so much to “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran, tried it out, and singing it felt great. The bride and groom agreed to the change, and I started to practice the new song. I think I pulled it off somehow, although I did forget a line. Hehe. Oh well. What is important is they enjoyed it. 

Congrats to Erick and Jona, and thanks so much for allowing me to be part of your wedding! 

The Phantom of the Opera (is there, inside your mind)

Have you heard? The Phantom of the Opera is finally coming to Manila!

Oh yes I am pretty excited, but will not be able to watch it myself anymore. Finances got in the way. But I have been very lucky to watch it five years ago when they staged it in the Esplanade Theatres in Singapore, by the British production (oh yes, I got to watch it before everyone else in Manila did!). Incidentally it was just a few weeks after the most recent Phantom of the Opera movie was shown in cinemas. I was able to watch the movie prior to the stage production. I may say the movie was wonderfully made… but the stage production was way beyond the beauty on screen.

I will not do spoilers here. You may think there can’t be anymore spoilers because everyone knows the story from the movie. But I may say, they were able to do some amazing things on stage that were way beyond my imagination, a lot of effects that were better on stage than on screen.

If you’re Manila-based and a lover of music, arts, theatre, and the like, and you have not watched this yet elsewhere, you should not miss this. It’s running from August 26 to September 30 at the CCP Main Theatre. (Tickets?)

Now that they’re bringing the good stuff to Manila lately, I’m hoping that they will bring in (or bring back) the following sometime soon:

  • Avenue Q – I’ve heard the Filipino cast is doing a run in Singapore! This is truly a must-watch, especially for my generation
  • Miss Saigon – I was able to watch this way back in high school, with Lea Salonga still playing. Would be good to bring this back, even with someone other than Lea Salonga. I loooooove Gigi’s role by the way, it’s my dream role if ever I get to be part of a production.
  • Wicked – This is the one I watched most recently, just last April in Singapore, and it was really worth it.
  • Next to Normal – I have not been able to watch it yet, and I’ve heard a lot of good feedback about it. I’m hoping to catch it the next time it shows. Bringing tons of tissue as advised.

I’d love to see a lot more other broadway productions and stage plays. Most of the good ones I was able to watch in Singapore these past few years (Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, and Lion King). Would be nice to have more of them here in Manila. It would also be great to be able to experience watching abroad on my future trips. 🙂

I have the music sense of an old soul

I drive everyday to and from work, and it takes me between 1 to 2 hours each trip, depending on the traffic. All those times, I have my music to keep me company.

Music plays such a big role in my life, more than just a way to pass time. There is something about music that can outwardly sing the song of my soul most times. There is something about music that is very therapeutic.

Most people my age may think me strange, though, if they hear the music I listen to. I have the music sense of an old soul. It’s as if my musical soul is twice my age. I listen to some really old songs, standards, contemporary jazz, classical, instrumental, samba and bossa, among others. I like a wide range of music, which include some current music and pop. I like a number of British bands and artists. Old OPM music are nice too.

I’m lucky to have some good local radio stations that play my type of music. Crossover 105.1, Radio High 105.9, and W-Rock 96.3 are some favorites (all FM radio in Manila, Philippines). I get to discover a lot of the British artists from my sister who also likes looking for good, non-pop music. You can also check out my music player and find out my vast collection.

There have been a number of international artists and bands who came and had concerts here, but I don’t usually spend to watch the current popular ones. The concerts I have watched include Rick Astley, Manhattan Transfer, Basia, and Don McLean. I did want to watch Kylie Minogue too, but I wasn’t able to.

Here’s a taste of one of my favorite songs, just so you have an idea how music plays in my heart. 🙂

Wicker Park Ending

The most memorable movie scene for me is the ending sequence of Wicker Park. Have you seen it? Have you ever watched it?

[Spoiler alert, proceed with caution] In summary, Wicker Park was a semi-tragic love story about a man, Matthew, separated from his love, Lisa, when she suddenly disappears without a word. After two years, he sees and tries to follow a girl who he thinks is Lisa, but ends up finding with another girl by the same name. Unknowingly, it was the second Lisa (or rather, pretending to have her name) that was the reason why Matthew never found out what happened to the real Lisa two years ago. It was a complicated love triangle.

Straight to the last scene. I love the last scene. After two years that they haven’t seen each other, and Matthew believes that he has somehow seen her again in the area and believes that she is around. The second “Lisa” still tried her best to prevent them from finding each other. Finally, Matthew and the real Lisa find each other at the airport, and time stops for them while the rest of the world goes on around them. It was the most tender and heartfelt movie moment I have ever seen. Add to that the perfect soundtrack – The Scientist, by Coldplay. I can never do justice to the scene with my mere words, so better if you go find it out for yourselves.


It sucks to be me

What should have been the shortest work week for this year has been the longest for us so far. Had to work half-day on a holiday last Tuesday. Had to drive for two hours going to work, spent ten hours of running around (and rolling and crawling around) NBC tent, worked three hours overtime in the office, and spent another 1.5 hours driving home yesterday. Spent more than 12 hours at NBC tent today for the same event. And we still have another workday tomorrow.

Amidst all this stress, there is one album I listen to that would just instantly cheer me up and give me a better perspective of the situation. Avenue Q soundtrack.

A friend gave me a copy of the soundtrack even before I was able to watch the play myself. Avenue Q is a puppet play that is a parody of the Sesame Street series, with very similar characters and songs as lively. The biggest difference is that Avenue Q tackles a lot of the issues of 20-ish and 30-ish people. I could list a number of quarter life issues they have dealt with, but that might go on and on and never end. Luckily, I was able to watch the play when they had their run here in Manila, with the Filipino cast. Really gave me an appreciation of the stage in life that I am in right now. And yet, I would never tire of listening to their soundtrack when I am feeling down and need a little pepping up.

Intrigued? Can’t share the actual album here, but you can just search for it. Here are some of the titles of songs in the album, so that you will have an idea of the wild and crazy things that they were singing about:

  • It sucks to be me
  • If you were gay
  • Purpose
  • Everyone’s a little bit racist
  • The internet is for porn (my favorite!)
  • You can be as loud as the hell you want
  • There’s a fine, fine line
  • There is life outside your apartment
  • The more you ruv someone (that’s not a typo)
  • Schadenfreude
  • I wish I could go back to college
  • For now (the best song to listen to if you need a better perspective)

I highly recommend you to listen to the album if you haven’t heard it yet. Seriously, if you think you’re having a quarter life crisis, listen to this album. You may not find the solutions to your problems, but at least this will cheer you up a little bit.

I would appreciate feedback if you like / hate / adore / despise or feel anything strongly (or even weakly) about the Avenue Q album. Just drop a comment or send me an email. Thanks lots!