The Final Piece!!!

Finally! After more than 2 years, the Tandem album project is complete! I just finished the last track, and it feels good! It’s more than a little behind schedule, but I think it’s for the better.

This is for my lovely wife, who has been, still is, and, without a doubt, will always be there for me! I love you very much!

As usual, the lyrics are below, and the title is the link to the song. Enjoy!

Tunay na Umaga

Sa tuwing tayo ay nasasaktan nagtatanong

bakit lagi na lang tayong ganito

hindi na nagbago

Kahit na kay dami ng pagsubok

na dumating sa ‘ting buhay

naging matatag ang ating pag-ibig

Kay tagal na nating magkasama

sa kabila ng agos ng luha

Sa tuwing kita’y makikitang masaya

tila nagigising sa liwanag ng umaga

Kahit na ano pa ang sabihin ng iba

para saki’y wala nang mas mahalaga

sa ating pag-ibig

Kay tagal na nating magkasama

sa kabila ng agos ng luha

Sa tuwing kita’y nakikitang masaya

ako’y nagigising sa liwanag ng

tunay na umaga

INHALER: Breathing New Life After Five Years

After five long years, the members of Inhaler (which you can read about here, here, and here) found themselves in a rehearsal studio playing their music once more!

Yours truly reading his cheat sheet. That’s still my first guitar, a Frankenstein Telecaster copy that is in sore need of new lightning.

Byugi98 with his Fernando bass guitar (forgot the model).

The other day was Inhaler’s first jam session in 5 years. We held it at the rehearsal studio of JB Music Audio Solutions in Araneta Center, Cubao. It was the first step of the long journey we planned last year; to record all our songs. It was funny because we could hardly remember some of our parts. Heck, there were songs that some of us couldn’t remember at all! But after a few tries and short discussions, we pretty much were able to play all our songs, albeit roughly. It also helped that we had some home-recorded songs to practice with. We jammed for about an hour-and-a-half. It was supposed to be 2 hours, but some of us come from far-away places like Alabang. Despite that, it was a very productive first jam.

Nil pounding away on the drums!!!

The Gonz and the Maity-Maitz!

JusTech with his Squier Telecaster.

It was also a great time as friends because we hardly saw each other. The studio was full. Aside from the 5 of us in the band, Yugi’s girlfriend was there, the whole Gonz family was there, and so were F and Che-Hmph-Rawr, rounding out the total to 11 people! We probably hold the record for most people in the rehearsal studio! After the jam, we spent some more time talking about life, gear, music, and our next steps at the nearby Wendy’s branch (because I was craving for their fries and ice tea).

The Gonz playing his Fender Telecaster (You see a pattern here?), with Byugi98 and part of the studio mob in the background.

We’ve decided that we’ll be meeting regularly every Saturday for jam sessions until we polish all the songs. After that we’ll start the recording process. It really feels great to be in a band again, especially a band you started with your friends and you play original material. It’s going to be a long and exciting journey! Long live Pinoy rock!

Thanks to F for the photographs!

Note to self: Bring Rune to next week’s jam.

Almost Done!!!

Yes! I’ve just finished one of the two remaining tracks! This is track #7 of the album. When I was mixing this two days ago, there was something off about it that I couldn’t put my finger on. Finally this morning, I pushed the tempo up by 10 bpm. And what do you know? That was the thing! It was a tad bit too slow. So, here it is. The title is the link, and the lyrics are below!

Log Two Log Who

Bakit tuloy-tuloy ka pang  nahuhulog

‘Di ba’t matagal ka nang  tumama sa lupa

Bakit hanggang ngayon ika’y natutulog

‘Di ba’t kanina pa nariyan ang umaga

Gising gising

Dapat mo nang pigilan ang iyong pagbagsak

Gising gising

Hanggang kailan alipin ng pagkasindak

Bakit ang agos ay pilit nilalabanan

Matagal mo nang alam kung saan ka dadalhin

Bakit buhangin ay pilit kinakapitan

Itatangay lang iyan ng ihip ng hangin

Gising gising

Naliligaw sa landas na tinatahak

Gising gising

Hanggang kailan alipin ng pagkasindak

Whoa yeah

Bakit tuloy-tuloy ka pang nahuhulog

Nananaginip ng gising (Nananaginip ng gising)

Bakit hanggang ngayon ika’y natutulog

Mga pangarap na ligaw (Ligaw sa hangin)

Bakit ba tuloy-tuloy tuloy-tuloy tuloy-tuloy

(Bakit ba tuloy-tuloy-tuloy)

Matagal mo nang alam

Gising gising

Dapat mo nang pigilan ang iyong pagbagsak

Gising gising

Masasagip ka ba ng bali-baling pakpak

Gising gising

Gising gising

Gising gising

Kailan mo imumulat ang iyong mga mata

Pressing Pause to Play

I am on the second day of the second half of my family’s vacation in Bacolod. It’s really good to be on break, but it’s even better when you’re on break somewhere else. It’s not like we’re staying in some posh hotel or resort. We’re staying in my mother-in-law’s house, practically where the missus grew up, but it’s still a refreshing change to the routines of our little apartment. We did spend a night at a resort in the city though. It was a reunion of sorts for the missus and her friends from high school, kids and spouses in tow. Needless to say that the kids had a blast playing in the pool (Why people always say the thing that they claim is needless to say, I will never understand. Just like when people say “With all due respect…”). It was also the first time in ages that I stayed up till sun up. The activity? Playing pusoy with the husbands of the missus’ friends. After about 6 hours of playing, I won 15 pesos, which is like winning 3 games. Unfortunately, I felt the adverse effects foregoing sleep when I got a splitting headache after dinner the next day, which was aggravated by the bumpy cab ride home. And that story ends with me pretty much puking my guts out when we got to the house. So not worth the 15 pesos I won. Energetic youth, why hast thou forsaken me?

The only downside of this vacation, aside from missing our scheduled flight, paying extra (like twice over) to board the afternoon flight, spending 7 hours in the airport, and the headache episode, is that it takes time away from making music. I still have to record 2 tracks to make the 10 for the album. I left for Bacolod with track #7 half-finished. However, I think I’ll be able to record vocals when we get back and finsh track #10 and at least play a couple of jam sessions with Inhaler (my former band) before leaving for that conference in Exeter.

While I’m away from recording, I guess now is the best time to celebrate small musical accomplishments. I haven’t posted any update on the album since I posted the album cover and the video for track #1. Since then, I’ve finished videos for the first 5 tracks, and I am now working on recording the 2 remaining tracks, and the videos for the 3 other tracks that have been recorded. The videos for tacks #1 to #5 are below. I’ll post the videos for tracks #6 to #10 as soon as they’re done.

Track #1

Track #2

Track #3

Track #4

Track #5

What I Will Do Instead

As another work year comes to an end,  I suppose it’s human nature to assess things and assign value to them in some fashion. That’s what I caught myself doing yesterday afternoon while preparing dinner. How do I consider this past year? Four-and-a-half stars? One star? But it isn’t that easy. I’m not rating a product, a book, or a movie; I’m attempting to rate life.

There is actually just one fundamental difference between products that people usually rate and life, but this difference makes… well… all the difference. In a product, book, or movie, you can strip it down and really decide which bits are good or good enough to keep, and which bits are crap and should be tossed out. You can then proceed to giving an overall rating for said product. You can even go as far as specifying what to replace those crappy bits with so that the whole thing will become much better.

But you can’t do that with life. If you take out a crappy bit in life, whether it’s an event or a condition, you have no assurance that the rest of it will be the same. In fact, we pretty much have the guarantee that it will be different; just varying degrees of different. The network of relations between the various pieces that make up life is something that is currently beyond human comprehension, and may forever be so. However, we have enough empirical proof to conclude that even the slightest difference in conditions or in the chronology of events can have a huge impact on subsequent events.

With that said, we have no way of knowing if the crappy bits in life are any less essential because they may very well be components in the development of the good bits. And if they are, would we then be able to say they are indeed bad bits that we could have done without? If we can’t call them bad bits because they may be essential, are all the bits then good? And if so, is every life a good one then? But why the hell does it hurt so bad sometimes? As you can see, because of that one uncertainty, our logic turns on itself and ultimately collapses. We cannot come up with a final rating for life as we would for a toaster.

Because an overall rating for life is an attempt at futility, here is what I will do instead. I will celebrate the good bits because they brought happiness to me and/or those around me. I celebrate…

  • my family; the missus and the kiddies who make everything better
  • finally getting our own place (even if it’s a 3-year wait)
  • being home room teacher for the first time
  • teaching Mathematics… again
  • teaching Humanities for the first time
  • making a significant impact on the lives/learning of even just some students
  • being band teacher and getting to teach kids how to rock
  • actually seeing these students rock… and rock beyond expectation
  • teaching and learning from awesome students
  • hanging out with awesome students
  • working and collaborating with awesome colleagues
  • awesome colleagues who are awesome friends
  • getting to go to Sagada (with students) for the second time
  • getting to go to China (with students) for the first time
  • being appreciated for my hard work
  • finally getting an electric guitar budget (Yay, tax refund!)
  • and finally getting to share my music on Youtube (search for the joeytandem channel)

As for the shitty parts, I will gut and bleed them for all they are worth.

  • friends who are going away
  • the hectic deadlines
  • getting an NBI clearance
  • being cooped up in a plane for hours
  • stupid, stupid fires that scare my daughter
  • the mistakes I made
  • the difficult people
  • the indifferent people
  • the insensitive people
  • the insincere people
  • the spineless people
  • the selfish people
  • the thoughtless people
  • the people who sold out their integrity for image
  • the incapable people
  • the passive-aggressive people
  • the stupid decisions
  • the tragedies
  • the losses
  • the frustration
  • the disappointment
  • and all the fucking bile

I will make every one of them pay out in currencies of experience, wisdom, and fortitude. I will take all that for my own and discard the remaining husk made of regret, anger, and despair. Even though it was not a very good year, I am not walking away empty-handed.

And did I mention I already have some songs in the works for all that shit up there?

Pretty Productive Almost-Week-Long Break (Part 2)

With the help of the missus, I was also able to finalize the Tandem album art. She helped me pick out a solid background color (I am colorblind, remember?) and a nice font for the title and track list. We actually went back to the original sketch of the album art for the title layout. Which is quite amusing because the sketch has been posted right above my desktop ever since I started working on the thing, but I never paid much attention to it after I had the line drawing on the computer.

If I'm not mistaken, this is the sixth version of this cover.

The track list art wasn’t changed from my original idea. I just changed the background color and the font to go with the cover.

The track list images are just all the layers that make up the image on the cover.

The other thing I was able to accomplish for Tandem over the break is that the album art you see above… is the one I used in the video I uploaded to Youtube!

It took me a couple of hours to finish the video because it took some time to figure out what I could and could not do with the (free version of the ) video editor I used and which options and settings work for me. But making my next videos shouldn’t be a problem now that I’ve figured those things out.”

Yep, the channel is finally up.  After almost two years. I still need to record two more tracks, but that shouldn’t be a problem. The channel and track 1 being up actually give me a pretty definite deadline for the remaining tracks. Which, for me, is a good thing so the album doesn’t get delayed any further.

Well, that’s pretty much my six-day break. Which actually means I wasn’t able to grade any of the papers I took home. Hopefully this morning I will get started on those…

Pretty Productive Almost-Week-Long Break (Part 1)

Well, over the six-day break, I’ve been able to finish a lot of stuff for Tandem. It’s actually a wee bit greater than it would seem because I was pretty much a full-time parent over the break because the missus didn’t get much of one. Don’t get me wrong, it was great to spend whole days with the kids. (Well, fine. It was great, most of the time.) With the full time parenting and my share of household chores, I didn’t think I would get any Tandem work done. But I did! Yay, me!

First, I was able to finish my 8th track for the album. As per this blog’s tradition, the lyrics are below and the song title is a link to the song.

This song’s basically built from bits and pieces of Bob’s (old) blog, which were really bits and pieces of a book she read. It didn’t turn out exactly how I initially imagined it to be, but I kind of like how it mutated into a drive-and-delay-heavy, feedback-y ballad.


I met a soul as old as mine

In a body that is trapped in time

But wise enough to know that some things can’t be helped

And everyday she’d grow a little

But her heart is still caught in the middle

Of things she couldn’t understand

‘Cause sometimes the fantasy’s too much to take

Knowing some things are never meant to change

She stands across the hands of time

A fate that never is so kind

Counting the countless seconds in between

But never holds that rarest chance

Where the hands meet in their eternal dance

To show a glimpse of the always that lies within

‘Cause sometimes the fantasy’s too much to take

Knowing some things are never meant to change

It’s so hard to be lost in dreams while you’re awake

But it’s what you need sometimes to make it through the day

She gazes into the dying light

Tears well up in the corners of her eyes

But as she drifts away into the endless night

She knows that everything will be all right

‘Cause sometimes the fantasy’s too much to take

Knowing some things are never meant to change

It’s so hard to be lost in dreams while you’re awake

But it’s what you need sometimes

Yeah, it’s what you need sometimes

It’s what you need sometimes

370 Days Later

It has been a year and 5 days since this blog was born. It has also been a year and 5 days since the floor above ours was razed, and we had to find a new place. It’s been so long since I’ve posted anything, I’ve almost forgotten how to go about this. But maybe that’s how things are, seasons. I just hope I remember enough, so I can post some more things because so many things have happened since my last post… when was it?

Well, first off, I guess it should be mentioned that the family’s doing well. Father-Mother-Daughter-Son family, not a bada-bing-bada-boom family. Just saying.

We’re still staying in the same place we moved into last year. And more importantly, no fire. We originally planned to move out in a few months, but it’s looking like the missus and I aren’t up to the hassle of another move. We’ll probably just get some things fixed up to make the place better and stay here until it’s time to move into our own place. It’s real this time. Barring any major disasters like the Earth’s core stopping, or a giant meteor crashing to the Earth, or a zombie apocalypse, or an alien invasion… Yeah, if nothing like those things happen, we should be home sweet home in a bit over 2 years. Yay!

I am currently on a four-day weekend thanks to the term break at school, but I’m also swamped with reading and checking papers because it’s report card season soon. 178 papers. Count them. That’s not including another 35 journals that I have to check when I get back on Wednesday. Sometimes, I really wonder why I do this to myself. I also wonder why I’m writing this entry instead of checking more papers. But let’s not talk about that during my break.

Sadly, another thing that happened (or not) since my last post was the new electric guitar has been put on hold indefinitely. Though unfortunate, I don’t really mind because the resources are going toward more important things. But looking back, it was quite a feat of willpower and maturity to let awesome guitar deals go just like that. A second-hand, grey Fernandes Jaguar copy from the’90s in very good condition? Ouch. A brand new Epiphone SG for half the price? Double ouch.

Despite that setback, music is still looking pretty good this year. First, there’s word that the Foo Fighters (yes, the Foo Fighters) will have a Philippine leg in their world tour this year! Not like it’s confeeermed, but I’m keeping my finger’s crossed.

Next, though I am still stuck on the last 3 tracks (7, 8 and 10), the Tandem album is definitely going to push through by May, at the latest. I’ve also finished the ‘album cover’ and ‘back cover with track list’. It finally came to me what I wanted it to look like. Yes, I’ve been taken quite a few breaks from checking.

The album cover.

The back cover.

Another thing I’m excited about, and another reason why the Tandem album has to be done by May, is Inhaler reuniting in June! We’re going to record all our 12 songs and come out with an album! A post-break-up debut album, to be exact. We plan to release it on the web just like the Tandem album. We’re also inviting our friend JusTech on board to play guitar. It’s actually going to be amusing how the recording will turn out because all three of us guitarists will be using Telecasters. I’m also actually sure less than a handful of people actually found that amusing.

I hung out with Byugi, our bassist, yesterday and talked about our recording schedule. He suggested we should jam a couple of times to get ourselves back in the groove. I think that’s an awesome idea! I really miss playing live with a band. But it will also mean I need to record guitar and vocal tracks for the songs and send them out, so the rest of the band can prepare. It’s going to be a lot of work, and will probably need some funding to record the drum tracks, but I’m really looking forward to it.

Well, it’s dinner time. I’m going to have to eat and get back to work. Hopefully, it won’t take another several months before my next post. But no promises…

After a Long Pause

It’s been more than a month since I worked on my recording. After my workshop, I was pretty much bombarded with work-related stuff. I started working on my 7th track in September, but it has been hard finding long-enough blocks of time to finish it. All I want to do at home is unwind, and these last two weeks even had me working on the weekends. And let’s not forget that I started playing Puzzle Pirates again… But finally, this three-day weekend afforded me enough time to finish it.

This has got to be the most depressing song I have ever written. If you read the lyrics, it’s totally negative and at no point does the song redeem itself. I wrote this after reading Neil Gaiman’s Death: The High Cost of Living, which is why there is a reference to a refrigerator bearing down one’s chest. However, I’m happy with it because it’s ironically upbeat and it’s my first song with a fadeout.

As usual, the lyrics are below and the title is a link to the song.

Down to Earth

I want to take that final step to freedom

I want to take control and flip the switch

I want to feel the rush of wind run between my fingers

I want my mind to jump out of my skin

Don’t want a refrigerator bearing down my chest

Be on your best behavior, honey

Don’t you make a mess

But soon enough this wreckage will be cleared

When the wailing of the sirens falls deaf upon my ears

And I’m falling down to earth

I’m falling down

Time to cut that safety line

And jump right off the edge

I’m gonna make them bastards cry

Yeah, this is my revenge

When I burn all the bridges that I’ve built

My eyes will be wide open without a trace of guilt

And I’m falling down to earth

I’m falling down

And I’m falling down to earth

I’m falling down


When I take that final step from here

The questions and their answers will no longer mean a thing

‘Cause I’m falling down to earth

I’m falling down

Yes I’m falling down to earth

I’m falling

I’m falling

I’m falling

The Marshmallows Called Fernandes

I don’t particularly like the marshmallow test. It’s not because I fail the test. I can delay gratification when necessary. What I don’t like about it is that the closer you are to success, the more excruciatingly painful the waiting gets. It’s probably a little difficult to see the ‘excruciating’ aspect of the pain of waiting if you think about a marshmallow and the twenty-minute wait. However, the real world hardly deals in marshmallows, and it is rarely a matter of just twenty minutes. Add my ADHD to that mix and it can really become frustrating.

My marshmallows at the moment are electric guitars. The missus and I plan our family’s expenses, both regular ones and big, long-term ones. We don’t just plan for what we need and living expenses, we also plan for what we want. Electric guitars and recording equipment are part of that plan. My long term plan is to own seven electric guitars and one bass guitar. Here is my wishlist.

The Jaguar. My favorite Fender guitar.

The Telecaster. My favorite Fender guitar before I saw the Jaguar.

The Stratocaster. Probably the most-cloned guitar.

The Jazz Bass. The only bass guitar I want.

The SG. My favorite Gibson guitar.

The Flying V. Screaming with attitude.

The Les Paul. The first electric guitar I used to play my own songs. The one I used was a copy, of course.

The semi-hollow archtop. Classy. Full stop.

The guitars above are arranged according to manufacturer, with the first four being Fender models and the next four Gibson models. The Jaguar and the SG are my two favorites among the seven electric guitars. But I’m not picky when it comes to brands. I never wished for my guitars to be Fenders and Gibsons. I don’t even require them to be Squiers and Epiphones. I’m good with good copies.

Of those eight, I only own one at the moment. It’s my first electric guitar, a black Telecaster copy that I bought six years ago. I need to bring it to a luthier to get it reconditioned. I’ll probably have it repainted white with black binding. The repairs and repainting will probably cost like I bought the guitar all over again, but it will be worth it. I love the sound of that guitar.

Now that you have a good idea of what my marshmallows look like, let’s look at the actual test that I’m undergoing right now.

I’m scheduled to buy a guitar in December. I’ve had my eye on an SX SG copy that I saw in JB Music last year. Waiting for December wasn’t so hard because it was a current model and JB would periodically restock the item.

SG copy is good enough for me.

Then I was sent to Kuala Lumpur for a workshop. When the workshop was done, I asked the front desk of the hotel if there were any guitars available. They gave me directions to a music store that was a couple of blocks from the hotel. That was where I saw a Squier Jagmaster that was all black. When I got back from the workshop, I did some research and found out that the Jagmaster was locally available at Yupangco Music. It was even a bit cheaper than the price tag I saw in Malaysia. Again, the waiting was bearable because it was a current model and the store would have it in stock.

Jaguar+Jazz Master=Jagmaster. They could have been a tad bit more creative.

Enter boredom. I was idly surfing the net one evening and had the idea of searching for guitars at After a few pages, I came across a Fernandes ‘The Function’ Stratocaster copy for sale. That’s when the marshmallow test began.

Blue, black, and gold for the win!

It's more than just The Function. It's als the form.

I had the money to buy it, but it wasn’t December. We also seriously did not have space for another guitar at home. It was difficult not to think about it because I knew the guitar could disappear any time. But things became a bit easier when we had to use the money for Gray’s birthday bash last weekend. But I still think about The Function every now and then. I haven’t looked at again. I don’t really want to know if it’s still there or if it has been sold. I try not to think about it.

A couple of days ago, I was on the train ride home. As the train approached the station, I spotted a streamer in one of the low-rise buildings that had a drawing of a Gorilla with a Les Paul. Curious, I read the words beside the drawing.




I instantly knew what it meant. I wasn’t in any hurry, so I went to the store to check it out. The first floor wasn’t impressive. They had a handful of amps (Marshall, Roland, and Yamaha), an Ibanez GRX, a couple of no-name Strat copies, a drum kit, a trumpet, and a few keyboards that I didn’t even bother inspecting.

But then I saw the stairs. The stairs that led to the mezzanine. The mezzanine that held the walls and walls of guitars. It was awesome. Not even the new JB branch had that many guitars on display. There must have been a hundred or more. I didn’t know most of the brands, but they looked like good enough copies. They’ll probably need some careful testing, of course.

I also saw a few Fenders (which were above my price range), a few more Ibanez, a handful of Grecos, and several Fernandes. And then I saw a guitar that spoke to me, a Fernandes Jaguar copy.

The Fernandes JG. It speaks to me.

It was a little pricey, but it almost looked new. Initially, I thought the JG would replace The Function as my marshmallow. But no. Now it’s two marshmallows. And this test is just twisted. Instead of seeing one marshmallow, I see two. Instead of twenty minutes, it’s two months. And instead of being assured more if I wait, the chances of getting the marshmallows grow slimmer as I wait. It’s insane!!!

But all I can do is wait.

It really isn’t that bad, actually. It’s mostly me being an impatient brat about it.

But I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Please do too.