Monday, October 7, 2013


Our dear friend Len is right when she said in her write-up that yoga makes me and my partner Ed more flexible. Don't get your dirty minds started, she definitely did not mean anything like that, right *Poty? Well, yes, yoga definitely makes our bodies more flexible, di ba teacher Chaya? but let's go to that later.

First, let me say how wonderful it is to know that we are actually growing and has come to this point when even without our teachers, we still find ways to practice- alone at home, or in spaces together. (shout out to IBON and RedVerb studio too, for being kind to share their spaces). But yes, we didn't arrive to this point instantly, right? I guess we've been talking about practicing yoga for a long time before we started our sessions- Ed and I and some other friends. For some reasons, we just couldn't start up. Until I met Chaya in summer of this year, in one gimik night at Sarah's, a homey-cozy hangout place in Krus Na Ligas and that night, she indeed looked like a fairy granting me a wish- how magical- she is a trained yoga teacher and she wanted to do community practice. Amazing! So we started inviting friends, especially our dancer friends to start this community practice- and it's a great offer indeed- Chaya was willing to teach without fixed fee, just donations. 
Our firs mats

Yet, like in other things, the most difficult part really is getting started- it took two months pa siguro before we were able to start this group classes- in our humble abode pa, sa Fairview (not so Far-view naman). We were seven then- Me, Ed, Mai, Risa, Loy, Ega and teacher Chaya. Instantly, everybody felt great and appreciated how immediately, we felt the benefits of yoga. After that first afternoon, it took yet another two weeks if I'm not mistaken because of schedule issues until yes, IBON, like Chaya, granted our wish to have a bigger and more accessible space to practice together. Yes, the rest is history sabi nga, alam na natin yan!

Now, let me share the wonderful benefits of yoga sa amin ni Ed. 

Una, I have levoscoliosis- (the curving of spine to the left) so back and shoulder pains have always been a constant companion (like all other scoliotic persons) and sometimes it just hurts so bad. Then again, we always find ways of working through the body pains (chos.ayaw lang magpa-checkup, ayaw magpa-rehab, short, dinedema lang.) Yoga for sure, will not cure scoliosis (wala namang cure ito) but it does help a lot- i feel lesser back and shoulder pains now. and when i do feel pain, i just try to do some yoga stretching and i always feel some immediate relief. 

Thanks to IBON for providing us our space
I have quieter, more relaxed sleeping now and so does Edwin. Edwin has symptoms of sleep apnea. before our sessions, Edwin had difficulty in sleeping- he frequently snored loudly, gets choked and find it really hard to have a relaxing sleep (of course, it is also because our work forces us to stay up late) except when he doesn't do anything in the day and sleep early. Now, we both noticed how his sleeping improved a lot- he also has quieter and more relaxed sleeping now and since yoga, his snoring really lessened and he hasn't experienced choking since. Maybe we're wrong to attribute this to yoga but as of now, we only have Yoga to thank for these great things.

I also feel physically stronger now, compared to before we started. And yes, Len, it's true- i feel more flexible now. And i can see and feel the improvements in my flexibility- I can bend and fold deeper and lower and reach further now, it just feels so good each time I discover little stuffs during our practices. For Edwin, yoga also makes him more energized and vitalized. It also relieved many of his injuries as a dancer. Before yoga, he used to complain a lot about injuries in the knee and his hamstrings but these lessened since yoga. Btw, Ed can do the crow pose now. Haha!

I am happily bracing myself to discovering more benefits of yoga.

Most importantly, yoga has brought so much joy to me because it makes me get to see some of my friends more often. Now, time for me to use my strength to finish my laundry. Namaste!

Sunday, October 6, 2013


there's injustice going on in this blog.

i haven't written for ages.i just visited now. and yet, still, i can't write a whole entry. hopefully soon. i've got lots to write about actually, since last year.

movies i've been watching, books i have read, recipes i have prepared, new friends, rallies, travels, etc. and yet, i can't find enough time. i honestly miss those years when no matter where i was, i just found the time to write on this page.

good news though- i've been writing a lot offline lately. i'm sure that's a good thing. and yes, seriously doing something about these writings now.

i know, it's unjust to maintain a blog you don't even manage to visit regularly. and now, i have to go. i'll be back soon. that's a promise, my dear diary.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Twelve year-old songs of love and war: A review of Talahib People’s Music’s first album

It was in 2010, in front of an afternoon crowd at the “Concert at the Park presents Talahib People’s Music” in Luneta. Racquel de Loyola was belting out the Igorot chant “dong-dong ay, saliddumay/ saliddumay, dong-dong ay” a capella for about 30 seconds. Everyone in the audience just held their breath, including myself certainly. For who wouldn’t have? De Loyola’s voice was just divine, ethereal. And then, smoothly, the instruments sounded and we were moved into someplace else, in another world. The crowd applauded. No screaming. There was just plain, pure, unadulterated clapping of hands, overwhelmed by the energy the song evoked. It was quite magical.

For me, that was the moment when I realized the immensity of the band’s capabilities. The song played on, joined by more vocals. Halfway through, almost everyone was on their feet, dancing along with the band. The song was Bumangon ka Kaigorotan written by Noel Taylo, one of the band’s founding members. It tells about the development aggression perpetrated against the indigenous peoples of the Cordilleras and all over the country and at the same time, pushes all of us to fight against it.

Since then, I always thought, that song expresses in different levels the band’s identity- distinct musicality, substance and versatility.

Speaking of musicality and substance, Talahib proves it has plenty of those in their first album – “mga awit ng pag-ibig at digmaan,” (Songs of love and war) launched in December last year after 12 long years. And there is so much to celebrate in this 11- track compilation of mostly original songs about love and life- in the midst of a nation bludgeoned with everyday struggles. And why shouldn’t that be the case? After all, Talahib Peoples’s Music started 13 years ago to answer the call of the times — for artists to go beyond art for art’s sake. The motivation is to create and perform music for and about the people.

The long overdue album showcases the band’s range and maturity as performers. Not one single song in the album leaves anyone unmoved. Or say, not standing on his feet. Even the relatively quiet numbers unsettle the listeners – either because of the instruments, the vocals or the lyrics.
Most of the songs in the album are already popular among their avid followers, including their rendition of the ancestral-domain themedOn Potok written by an anonymous Dumagat tribesman and Tony Palis’ Babaylan, a song about women’s liberation.

Talahib’s own
The album boasts of the songs that the band has actually owned through the years. For instance, both On Potok and Babaylan grew with the listeners through the band’s interpretation. In fact, these are two of their most requested numbers whether in concerts, bar gigs or in activist gatherings. Arguably, the band’s strongest point is that they own any song they play, whether original or cover.
On the other hand, it can be said that Talahib came together in their total element here in the album, on their original numbers.

In Kabukiran, the quietness, almost solemn play of instruments throughout the song is definitely captivating, not to mention Ms. de Loyola’s flawless, pitch-perfect vocals. The song is also another demonstration of the band’s clear political stance, it tells about a farmer’s life and love for the land in the midst of feudal bondage and oppression that come with this love. Kabukiran is written by musician Lito Guarin who was also part of the band in its early years. He also wrote the infectious Bagyo that tells about a journey in the middle of the storm, metaphorically of course.

Another song that highlights the band’s distinct and versatile musicality is their anthem, Talahib. In their signature piece, the band sums up all that they are in a mesmerizing instrumentation, subtle but captivating enough to give off a recall. Here, they describe what they are: lovers of music, awakened individuals coming together with their instruments and voices to mirror the society’s realities and use music to advocate for social change.

Furthermore, in the already air-waves popular Pag-ibig ang pag-asa, written by bass guitarist Mark Estandarte, the band shows how versatile they could be, and risky at the same time. A little bit removed from the band’s usual themes, this song is an ultimate love story of one being to another; it has all the flavors of a romantic love in three minutes or so. And yet, it is undeniably Talahib – the beat, the melody, the harmony. It is arguably the most radio-friendly and, true enough, it does enjoy more FM radio time than the rest of the eleven tracks. It is also in this song that Janis Dante, the band’s lead vocalist shines the most and in fact owning the song more than she does in any of the band’s signature songs.

Worth the wait
The truth is, Mga awit ng pag-ibig at digmaan exceeds all expectations for a first album. But of course, one may say, it was 12 long years in the making. However, for those who know how hardworking the band is, for those who have witnessed them grow as musicians and individuals, it is just fair to say that it is worth the wait. In fact, the album could not have come out at a better time. And like wine that tastes better as it gets older, the same can be said about this band’s music.

On the other hand, it is not also flawless. Case in point, in the third track, the vocals were drowned by the instruments. Sadly, this track,Hiyaw is sung by Ador Villano and Ariel Sumilang who has an incredibly amazing voice. I also think that the band should have given more time in choosing or deciding whose vocals should be used in what song but that is just me.

However, I choose to look at the reasons to celebrate this first album: they obviously outnumber its flaws overwhelmingly. In fact, these flaws are almost negligible as the band has, through the years, definitely worked hard to be where they are now and become a class all of their own.
Someone told me few years ago that the world music is not easy. It is a genre that very few may understand, appreciate or follow. It’s just completely wrong. Talahib People’s Music proves that world music may well be the most accessible genre there is. Furthermore, the band does not try at all because like their genre, they are individuals from different ethnicity and/or regions fused together. Somehow, the band members personify world music.

The question now is, are we ready for another twelve years? Hopefully, it does not take that long again for the band’s next album.