Writing to Reach You

I’m not going to pretend that this post is not about my second poem being posted in litratula.com because it is.

First off, I’m very happy that Ms. P. is my partner in crime for this piece. It’s a great new way for us to collaborate on art. Two forms, no less! And in… tandem. (See what I did there?) I’m very grateful to her for giving me (and our young writers) opportunities to share our work and to hone our writing further.

Taning is actually a song. I just restructured it to look less like a song. I already have a rough recording of it, but I’m not going to share it just yet. I plan to redo the vocal tracks and tweak the mix come June.

I don’t really write poems often. I write songs. Yes, yes, I know you can argue semantics here, but you know what I mean. I honestly think I have a knack for it, though you’ll ultimately be the judge of that when I finish and release the songs. But despite that, and despite the fact that some of them coming from very dark places, I am proud of my songs because what endures isn’t the subjectivity of valuing or the causalities; it’s the words, the music, and the craft.

I am especially proud and fond of the songs I write in Filipino. That’s because I had to learn on my own how to do it without sounding inauthentic or like it’s a direct translation from English. Make no mistake, I am very fluent in Filipino. But the language of my th0ughts is not Filipino, it’s English. And apparently, the language of your thoughts is the default language of your songs, despite being perfectly fluent in another language.

I spent a year learning how to write songs in Filipino. My first attempts really sounded like they were parades of English words in Filipino costumes. So, what I did was I listened to a lot of Eraserheads, Teeth, Parokya ni Edgar, Mongols (Ely’s post E-Heads band before Pupil), Sandwich, and Rivermaya (Rico Blanco wasn’t an actor back then). I listened for what made the language of the lyrics sound natural. Some songs used a more formal Filipino, while some were more casual, sometimes even in Tag-lish, but they all worked. Not one of them a Filipino-themed masquerade of English words. I could never put my finger on it though, so I just kept writing and revising until I came up with songs that sounded natural. Even now, I won’t be able to specifically point out to you what makes a song in Filipino sound natural, but I’d like to believe I have achieved an intuitive understanding of it.

But why go through all that trouble? Why even write in Filipino when it was much easier to write in English?

I’m proud to be Filipino. But that wasn’t why I pushed myself to learn to write songs in Filipino. In college, I took a course in contemporary Filipino literature. The class read short stories and poems by Filipino authors. And if my memory serves me right, none of the pieces we read were in Filipino. English was the main, if not the sole, medium. I no longer remember the pieces we read, nor how we analyzed and critiqued the works. But what I will never forget in that class was when our professor told us about the importance of writing in the vernacular. I am not completely certain if what he meant accurately matches how I understood what he said, but it stayed with me.

When you write, who you write for is just as important as what you write about. You have to make sure that your work reaches your audience in every aspect. And if my audience is the Filipino people, then it follows that I write in the vernacular. Because writing exclusively or mostly in any other language, even English, will alienate me from my audience. I’ll probably be reaching 10% at best, which, statistically, is a dismal failure. That’s why I took the time to learn how to write songs in Filipino; the Filipino is who I’m writing to reach.


Today’s Thermometer Readings

$%&#><@ Hot

It is hot in the Philippines. It is hot in Metro Manila. Deadly, brain-drying, sweaty, sticky, psycho-killer, oppressive hot. The kind of heat that sculpts mirages on car roofs during traffic jams instead of just painting them. The kind that can give you a splitting headache if you fleet in and out of air-conditioning. The heat that dissipates the effects of a shower even before you’re completely dressed. The kind of heat that takes the joy out of eating almost to the point of forgetting its necessity. This heat and I, definitely not friends.


Today’s menu was all about flavor. And by flavor I mean oil.

Breakfast consisted of fried rice, fried egg, and half a fried foot-long hotdog. Glistening.

Lunch was so much better and so much deadlier. KFC hot and crispy chicken and rice. Now, to not make it totally unhealthy, I ordered some coleslaw. I actually ended up eating another serving donated by Ms. P. But then again, any health value that the coleslaw could have had was probably completely negated by the fact that I got donations of chicken skin from most everybody who ordered. That was desert.

Afternoon mirienda consisted of one of my favorite street foods, isaw. For those who are not familiar, isaw is pretty much the collective term for barbecued parts of pigs and chickens that aren’t everyday fare. The most popular choices are:

  1. Isaw – chicken intestine
  2. Bilog – pork intestine (it’s called bilog because it’s cut into short O-shaped pieces)
  3. Tenga – pork ear
  4. Helmet – chicken head and neck
  5. Betamax – blocks of boiled blood (it resembles Betamax home video)
  6. Adidas – chicken feet (three stripes)

My wife and I met at a street corner near our place and went to our favorite isaw stand. We had our staples, bilog for me and tenga for her. Though it is grilled, recall that intestines have a lining of fatty tissue. Yum.

Dinner was just preservatives and oil a.k.a instant pancit canton. I did not feel hungry enough to eat real food, so I settled for that to get me through the night without getting hungry.

I actually love everything I ate today (not so much the breakfast). It’s comfort food, but any bliss I get out of it always has this accompanying image of excess oil flowing along with my blood and sticking to the walls of my blood vessels. But it’s a short slideshow; 3 seconds tops.


Rune and I have found a new father-daughter bonding activity: watching Foo Fighters videos. Nothing makes me happier than quality time spent on quality education.

It started with the video of Rope. I was pleasantly surprised that the song caught her fancy. Rope is pretty heavy and doesn’t have much pop appeal. But now, she sings the chorus with most of the words correct.

Last night, we watched Learn to Fly. She liked it because Mr. S (Jack Black) was in the video. Earlier this evening, we watched Learn to Fly again, then Big Me and Monkey Wrench. The last one was actually her choice. She asked me what other songs the Foo Fighters had. When she heard Monkey Wrench, she exclaimed, “That one! I like that!” It’s most probably because monkey is a familiar word to her, but she liked it fine. I also enjoyed our viewing because I had forgotten that Monkey Wrench has a pretty cool video.

That and air-conditioning.

Let Me Get Some Action From The Brass Section

Little Boy Blue, come toot your own horn

Just this once please, hold judgment or scorn

Because what I thought were just nothings I write

Have now become featured in somebody’s site

So people please see it and say what you think

I’d be more than happy to provide you the link

Baby steps, baby steps, a wise girl once said

But please do report if the supplied link is dead

Positivity is Spelled S-K-A

The week long break is coming to a close, and I’ll have to fall back into the world of work real soon. There’s things to look forward to, to be sure. But it’s just hard not to dread Monday. To help myself make my disposition even just a tad bit more sunshinier despite things being more than half-a-hotdog-sandwich short of being totally peachy-keen, I will feature ska. Well, punk-ska to be more exact. No Doubt undoubtedly comes to mind automatically. But because they already do, I’ll feature other punk-ska artists whose songs never fail to make me groove to their syncopated beats.

1. Take On Me by Reel Big Fish

Reel Big Fish is a punk-ska (ska-punk, don’t really matter) band from California, USA. This is their rendition of the ’80s hit, Take On Me, by the Norwegian band Aha. The video’s theme, and some featured clips, come from the 1998 movie Baseketball, starring the guys who created South Park. Take On Me is part of the movie’s soundtrack and the band even make an appearance in the movie, as themselves, playing songs during a baseketball game.

2. The Impression That I Get by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are a ska band from Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Formed in 1985, they are said to be the pioneers of fusing ska and punk music. This is the first single from their 1997 album Let’s Face It. I love this song not only because it’s wicked upbeat, but also because the words are worth the listen. I even used it for my Ethics class.

3. Come On Aileen by Save Ferris

Save Ferris, a reference to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, was a ska band formed during the ’90s in Orange County, California, USA. This song is a cover of the 1982 hit by British-pop group, Dexys Midnight Runners. Save Ferris released it as a single from their 1997 major label debut album, It Means Everything. In this video, the vocalist, Monique Powell, reminds me of several celebrities. Gillian Anderson for one; who played Special Agent Dana Scully in the X-Files. There are also a couple of local actresses who come to mind. But before I forget, isn’t that bassist just sooooo cute? A pioneer of animal bonnets too! Lulz!

RPG Quest Log: Holy Week Day 5

“I am not a geek, I am a level 10 paladin.”

Quest: Take Care the Gift

Status: Active

I was not able to complete my quest because I realized after taking out the strings that I had discarded my Rusty Pliers when we left the previous village. I could not get a new pair because today was a town holiday and all the shops were closed. I cleaned the guitar and tried to fix the crack on its side. The damage is minor, but I found upon closer inspection that it is beyond my skill to repair. I must remember to take it to a luthier when I have the coin. ‘Tis a worthy instrument from a worthy companion after all.

I will need to go out tomorrow and buy Wire Cutters to finish my quest. I should be able to find those at the item shop that sells all manner of things from the Land of the Rising Sun at 85 coins each.

Side Quest: The Case of the Straps of the Case

Status: Completed

In returning the guitar to its case, I noticed once more the straps that were not attached properly. But this time, I saw that what I first thought to be a case of missing strap components was actually a case of the complete components in the wrong configuration. I immediately set out to rectify the situation. The first strap was no problem at all, but the second one proved to be a challenge. Equipping the Swiss Knife +3 that my father gave me when I was a lad helped me finish the job.

The strap of the electric guitar case is an entirely different matter. I will have to see tomorrow if Mr. Quickie can fix it.


1 x Leather Guitar Case +2 (condition: very good)

Quest: Dealing with Dust

Status: Paused

I have decided to wait until the end of May to resume this quest. I know more dust will collect inside and around my Pentium Dual Core of Computing +2.5 GHz, but I cannot find the time to take care of it with all the other quests I have to complete.

Quest: The Burning

Status: Completed

Before I started backing up my files, I looked through my CD Case  of Data Holding. I finally threw away the driver installation discs of my previous desktop, a Pentium +4. I also threw away installers of now-obsolete software. I even discovered some treasure I had no idea was there! Curiously enough, I found some CDs of music that are clearly not mine (’80s love songs, dance tracks, hip hop, and r&b). I did not discard them as it is better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. But they are not mine.

I reorganized my CDs and DVDs before proceeding to burn backups of our pictures and the recently-amassed addendum to my multi-gigabyte mp3 collection. I purposely did not backup the last 3 gigabytes as I undoubtedly will find another gigabyte of mp3s soon to fill an entire DVD-R. After burning and a quick meal, I took out my Ebon External Hard Drive of Data Saving +320 and backed up all the data in my desktop. It was not a difficult quest, but backing up 149 gigabytes takes quite some time to finish.


1 x CD containing the wave files of the Inhaler home recordings

1 x Audio CD of the Inhaler studio recording of Sandal E

4 x Blank CD-Rs

1 x The Complete Battle Angel Alita Manga Scans

1 x Adobe CS2 Installer

Quest: The Vision of Kali

Status: Active

I was not able to take further steps in completing my quest until dusk. I was able to draw over the black outline of Kali’s drawing with a darker shade of the blue I used as her skin color. Progress is slow as my currently equipped items for this quest are just freeware versions of TwistedBrush and Photoplus SE and a mouse. I perceive it may be months before I complete the drawing if there is no change in the current state of affairs. I despair not for time is on my side. Finishing this quest only becomes crucial after Tandem finishes recording all 12 songs for the album. But were I to equip that CS2 I found and manage to get my hands on a Bamboo +5, I believe I would have no problem with Kali’s drawing.

Quest: The Old Lady’s Request

Status: Completed

(June 2007 - April 2011)

Of Heists and Men (In Sombreros): When Intros Get Out of Hand

This was supposed to be the intro for the updates on yesterday’s to-do list. But it took on a life of its own and became this. Well, it could still be the intro if you read it before the next post.

This morning, I woke up from a dream. It was a movie. No, I wasn’t an actor shooting a movie in the dream. The events just looked and felt like it was a movie. But what really decided it was the fact that Samuel L. Jackson was there. Sam Jackson is bad ass. Hell, even in my dream he was bad ass.

Apparently, we pulled a heist together with some people. The heist wasn’t part of my dream. It wasn’t even mentioned. I just knew we had pulled one. The events in my dream took place after the heist. I was with a woman. I don’t remember her face, but I think she was a redhead. She may have looked like Bridget Fonda in Assassin, and why I remember Sam Jackson over a hot babe troubles me a little. Anyway, we had handguns. Glocks, I think. We were in a building that had office cubicles. It was deserted and seemed a bit messed up. We were looking for good old Sam because he had the money.

I looked out the window, between the blinds,  just in time to see bad ass Sam Jackson in his bad ass black leather jacket take off on his  big bad ass bike with his bad ass girl. He gave me that trademark bad ass grin of his that says, “I got ya good, bleep bleep bleep bleep!” before speeding away. I didn’t hear him say it, but he gave us a clue where our cut of the money was. Yeah, he didn’t run away with it. The next thing I know, the woman and I were outside the building where Sam Jackson took off on his bike. The lot was covered with gravel and it was bare except for a ticket booth. Yes, a ticket booth.

The tickets being sold were for some kind of theme park tour. Some people were lined up, we walked over to it. There was something posted on the side of the ticket booth that told my companion and I where Sam had stashed the money. I don’t remember buying tickets, but we went on the tour. And it just so happened that the theme park was right next to the building. The theme park tour showed sets from movies that were shot in Mexico. There were hombres in sombreros manning the place. We walked over to the set where Sam Jackson stashed the cash. It was just a hole in the ground with some guns and bags around it. The tour guide was squatting on the ground, holding one of the bags, saying his spiel. I was thinking of how we would get the money without being noticed when the tour guide stood up and looked my way; it was Robert Rodriguez. Then I woke up. All 10 kilograms of Gray was crawling on my head.

Chores, Shmores, and So Much More

It’s already the Thursday of my week-long break. I know, I know, it’s a lot better than what other working stiffs get. That’s one of the things I love about my day job: the breaks. But I diverge. It’s already Thursday. Just three more days and I’ll be back to the daily grind. Of course, there are a good number of things I’d rather not get back to just yet. But there are also a good number of things that I won’t mind getting back to. So, all in all, it’s pretty even.

Thursday’s almost coming to a close and what have I got to show for the almost-four days of break?

  1. Definitely spent more time with the kiddies.
  2. Went out to dinner with the old lady. We had Cajun cooking. It was pretty good, though they could make the servings bigger. The seafood jambalaya hardly made a dent in my gut. I had half the mind to go on a dim sum binge afterward.
  3. Finally blogged about Inhaler. It turned out to be a trilogy; and that’s the short version. But I’m pretty happy with it. Got to insert some Inhaler and Tandem graphics too! Woohoo!
  4. Got to play my electric guitar (after a loooong time) with the amp I brought home. Amp is okay with the volume set at 1 to 2. It kind of sucks that I can’t crank it up to 3, much less 10, to see what it can do loud. Damn those neighbors and their traditional sensibilities! I scoff at you! Scoff, scoff, scoff! From playing around with it, I can say the gain is pretty okay, but the reverb is meh. But I can’t complain, not with the price tag it came with. What price tag? Thanks, IC and former owner!
  5. I finally finished the work I  have been meaning to finish since January! Talk about delay. It’s a writing gig for a publishing company (Before you get all excited, it’s writing Math projects. Oh yeah! Who’s the man? Self high five!). Now, I don’t want to count my chickens before the eggs hatch, but I’m pretty excited about finishing that. Can you say new guitar amp for recording? Why yes you can! How about that! Good on you, luvlite! I’m all Brit about it because I leaning towards a Laney amp over the Peavey that I originally intended to buy. But, like I said, stop counting the chickens, guv’nuh!

Now, what have I not been able to do?

Lady in waiting... to be colored properly.

  1. I was supposed to really work on the album cover for Tandem. I did a pretty decent amount of work. I was able to complete the line drawings over the sketch. I was able correct some mistakes in the sketch and got to draw a Gibson SG and a Fender Jazz Bass pretty accurately. Just not too sure about some of the proportions though, but what the hey. I also filled in the initial colors. Now, that sounded like a lot of work, didn’t it? It actually was, but I had intended to do so much more. Part of me is actually a little discouraged now about coloring the thing. It’s not my strongest area (colorblind, hello?), and I’m almost certain that I won’t be able to pull off the vision in my head. But we’ll see what tomorrow brings, and the two days after it.
  2. I’m supposed to backup my files on DVD and external hard drive. I only got to buy the DVDs and a case for them.
  3. I’m supposed to fix the crack on the guitar Ms. P gave me and change the strings. I got as far as buying the strings.
  4. I’m supposed to clean my desktop. I cleaned the keyboard and mouse, but will probably put the rest off till June.
  5. And one other thing wifey has been bugging me about. The horror! The horror!

That’s about it. I’ll keep you posted (literally) on what I accomplish tomorrow.

Memories of My First Breath (Keepsakes and What Comes After)

Cynical Forces, Gusto Pa, Stargaze, Mahalin

2nd Moon, , Snapshots 1×1, Beautiful Dream, Moon Rocket*

Sandal E, Obstructed View, Bitwin at Lihim, Never Ending Now

Out of those twelve that Inhaler completed, we were only able to record half; five home recordings and one studio recording. I’d really love to finish recording all twelve properly (read: future sound plans).

*This is the Gonz’s song. It’s wicked cool. Trust me.

For the five we recorded at home (the Gonz’s home, not mine), we used the Gonz’s laptop with older versions of Cakewalk and Sound Forge for recording, Leafdrums for the drum tracks, a Creative Extigy external sound card, and the Gonz’s Tascam 4-Track as our preamp. Byugi98 served as our sound engineer. They are far from pro quality, but good first recording attempts nonetheless.

Cynical Forces

This is the first song Inhaler completed. Uptempo, short, sweet, but still loud enough. This recording’s pretty clean, and the mixing turned out quite well too.


This is one of the first songs I wrote. My friend JusTech was the one who came up with the melody for this one. It wasn’t what I imagined it would be, but I like how it turned out. The drums in this recording probably need a redo, so does my singing. LOLz.

2nd Moon

This song came from a poem I wrote. I don’t know if I still have a copy of it. I’m also not sure if the song title came from the first Keepres of the Maser graphic novel by Frezzato, which I read in Heavy Metal magazine. This was #1 fan’s favorite (at least for some time), but this recording just doesn’t show why. When we played this live, it was very loud and heavy. I’d really love to record this song again, especially because I couldn’t get the damn opening right.

Beautiful Dream

This is probably the penultimate Inhaler love song. Lolz. I like this recording. It came out clean and balanced, my singing turned out okay, and the lead had just enough dirt in it to dispel total sap. And once more, credit to JusTech for refining the riff on this one.

Snapshots 1×1

Up until a month ago, I had totally forgotten that we were able to make a home recording of this one. This is from the first batch of respectable songs I wrote in Filipino. This is a lot like Cynical forces in the sense that it’s uptempo and short, with the right amount of loud.

Sandal E

Also from the first batch of good-enough Filipino songs I wrote, this is the only song we were able to record in a studio. We chose this as our first (and only) track for studio recording because it had a enough pop appeal and still rocked. Though in hindsight, I would probably choose Cynical Forces or Snapshots 1×1 over it.

We were able to save up some money and recorded this at DBR Studios in Teacher’s Village, Quezon City. The owner, Billy Reyes (guitarist of Kiko Machine), engineered the recording, the mixing, and the mastering of the track. It took us several days to complete it. We could have probably done a better job with more takes, but we ran out of funds. Lolz yet again.

Hmmm… I think we should really get around to recording the whole dozen properly. (Could you say I’m pretty hell bent?)

After Inhaler broke up, I stopped making music. I even pretty much stopped listening to music. But in 2009, I got to watch the TV airing of the second installment of the Eraserheads’ reunion concert. Those guys have been my heroes ever since their first album came out. And even after they broke up, even if they just got together for one last jam, they’re still the heroes of old. Watching that concert finally made me get over Inhaler’s dissolution. I figured out that there’s no point in not making music. I figured out that there’s more than one way to get my music out there. That’s when Tandem was born.

Just like Dave Grohl, I’ll keep trying to sing. Just like Kurt Cobain, I’ll keep it simple. And just like the students in my classes, I’ll keep learning. That’s what Tandem’s going to be.

Memories of My First Breath (Dreams and Endings)

Neo Jam at Xtudio (2006)

Some dreams came true in the three-or-so years that Inhaler was active. For one, we got to play at the UP fair; every college band’s dream… even post-college bands. If I recall correctly, it was past three in the morning, but there was still a sizable crowd watching the bands. That was pretty cool. We got a significant volume of applause, from strangers to boot!

We also got to front for big local bands. We were in the lineup of front acts for a gig of Urbandub in Freedom Bar in Quezon City (2005, I think). But our biggest break as an upstart band was our very first gig. By some stroke of luck (luck = Byugi98’s brother was in the UP organization that was sponsoring the event), we got the slot to be THE front act of Sandwich and Sugarfree in the UP leg of Sugarfree’s Dramachine campus tour. That was late September of 2004. I’ll never forget how stoked we were about it. And who wouldn’t be? First gig, and already playing with the big boys! But looking back, I find it a bit ironic really… and somewhat a wasted opportunity. I mean, we played that gig okay, but I still wonder to this day how much better it would have been if we got that gig a year later. We’d have had a better set list, and we’d have played better too. But despite it being a year too early, I’d have to say that it is still a gig to remember.

And so it ends.

The band broke up in 2007. Byugi98 quit, and the rest just decided to not go on. I still believe it was just a case of us forgetting why we started the band in the first place: because it was fun. It’s not about going for a record deal or becoming a virtuoso in the instrument you play. I mean, those are good things, but you can still make good music without those. I guess we just got caught up in the details and technicalities and lost sight of the core reason for being. I think our last gig was in Purple Haze. I’m not sure. But what I remember for sure was that the good feeling after playing a set was absent. We were just tired, and some even pissed. And that was that.

I really felt bad about Inhaler’s dissolution. I love making music, and the twelve songs that we collaborated on shows that we can really make it happen. It felt even worse because we were long-time friends. Heck, I have been friends with Byugi98 since freshman year (read: 1994)! And it never sits well with me if there’s unresolved issues between friends.

After the break up, Nil and I were okay. We stayed in touch, seeing each other in Itlugan gatherings. He was the only member of Inhaler that I had contact with after the band broke up. I just didn’t want to see Byugi98 or the Gonz, and maybe they felt the same. What ever that feeling was.

But on my daughter’s second birthday a few months after, Byugi98 showed up at my door unannounced. I knew it was a something good because he showed up while the sun was still up (he’s nocturnal)! And good it was. Itlugan friendship trumped over the disagreement between band mates. He apologized, I said no worries, and things went back to normal. Two minutes, no drama. He even attended Rune’s birthday party that weekend. My friends, being my friends, had a lot of fun at the expense of Byugi98 and I. Ah, friends.

I lost all contact with the Gonz for years. Not a word. It was only in 2010 that we saw each other again. As chance would have it, our kids went to the same preschool. The first time we saw each other again, all was good. We were all smiles, and it was just like old times. The Gonz and I hung out almost daily during the school year. We’d even hang out at their place sometimes while waiting for the kids to get dismissed. (Maybe now is a good time to point out that I met the Gonz through Mrs. Gonz, who is a good friend of mine from college.) They even drive Rune and I and/or my wife home after school. And our house is not even on the way to theirs. We even went out for dim-sum all-you-can-eat a couple of times.

Now that school’s out, the Gonz and I don’t see each other often. My family still sees his family from time to time, when we order stuff from them (they sell all organic stuff). We’re both looking forward to the rest of 2011 because the Foo Fighters have a lot of stuff coming out. Nil is getting married soon. My wife and I have pledged to take care of the bridal bouquet (wifey is good at flowers). So I know we’ll see him soon enough. And Byugi98? We haven’t heard from him in years. We have no idea where he is or what he’s up to. But that’s normal Byugi98. No doubt he’ll show up at my door again one day, unannounced. He has always had a bedroom in my dream house after all. He’s got to check if it’s been built some time.

Memories of My First Breath (Beginnings and Graces)

Breathe in, rock out.

In May of 2004, my friends and I formed the band Inhaler. We got the name from the asthma medicine. We couldn’t come up with a band name for days, so we just went with what was on the table, literally. I can’t recall whose it was, but Inhaler we became, with the Gonz on lead guitar, Byugi98 on bass, Nil on drums, and myself on rhythm guitar and vocals.

(edit: I was reprimanded by wifey for forgetting the inhaler on the table was hers and for getting the year wrong)

Now, I don’t really sing, much less sing well. But I guess the chore of singing fell on my shoulders (or windpipe) because we were going to play stuff I had written. As early as then, we were dead set that we’d take the hard road of original music and not be a cover band.

Our sound in the first few jamming sessions was all over the place. But to me, it was great to hear the songs I had written come to life. I mean, Arrogant I already thought they were pretty good. But to hear them played with all the instruments, with effects, and with improvements in the arrangement and instrumentation that I never would have thought of, that was truly great.

Short respite from making music. (L to R: Joey Tandem, the Gonz, Byugi98, Nil)

For three years, Inhaler would practice twice weekly for two hours at a time. We were able to complete a dozen songs and played gigs in different clubs across the metro at least twice a month. The club gigs started with the guidance and opportunities given to us by Sir Noel Viola and the awesome dudes of Purple Haze Bar. Sir Dax and Sir Bito gave us our first club gig at Purple Haze, which was then located in Marikina City. They (with JP and Jeff) literally gave Inhaler a home, including us in their monthly lineup.  Purple Haze moved to Tomas Morato in Quezon City a year later, continuing to give us a venue for our music. The bar closed on March 8, 2008, on its fifth anniversary. I wish Inhaler was there to play, or even just to say thank yous one last time. But the band had broken up by then and, I didn’t know about the closing till much later.

Around 2006, we got more opportunities through Mr. Bobby G’s Neo Jam series of gigs for underground bands. Our first gig with Bobby was at the opening of a new commercial building in Quezon City. That gig was surreal. We played our set well and the crowd liked our music, which was great. But we were totally shocked when a group of teenagers met us backstage and had us sign their jackets and shirts! Who’dathunk? They’re probably grown up now and know that the guys who signed their clothes weren’t big and never became big. But it doesn’t matter, it’s all good. You don’t get that everyday.

And let’s not forget the undying support of friends (Itlugan and Pisay ’94, most notably). Friends who showed up time and again to watch us play. It didn’t matter where we played, at least a handful would be there. Our friends even had their personal favorites among our songs, and there was even a running joke on who was #1 fan and who was #2. Some of my friends from high school who came to our gigs eventually formed Sajama (Lodvig Vancouver, Miggy Pop, JV, Janstiff, and Bridge). Sajama also became regulars at the Haze, playing on the same nights as Inhaler quite a few times. Truly, no man is an island, and a band is not so different.

In all the gigs that we played, we never made any money (just free drinks and food). In fact, we had to spend money to go to the venues, and we lost a lot of sleep (remember that we had jobs to keep during the day). But we kept practicing, we kept showing up and playing, because getting up on stage and playing a set was an exhilarating experience every time (maybe except for that UP College of Fine Arts gig and the Sisig Festival, those just totally blew). Plus we got to listen to a lot of good indie rock! Sandbox, Oremus, Sajama, to name a few.

Saguijo (2005)

On a side note, I feel bad for not having photos of most of our gigs. I also have just one video. It’s of the Saguijo gig in 2005, and the audio is not good. Digital cameras weren’t as good and as cheap back then, and my paycheck was much smaller too. Ho hum. But some is better than none, so I’m still grateful.