Thursday, August 26, 2010

The fast and the frothy: San Miguel Beer launches beer drinking contest

The liquid was golden, a stream of coldness pouring down my throat. I myself was cold. People were watching. The clock was ticking though I tried not to think about it, focusing instead on not spilling a drop. I strove to feel nothing about unabashed beer drinking and beer drinking contests.

I am leery about drinking sessions for the purpose of drinking alone, unless it is purposeful, meaning it facilitates meaningful discussion and sparks ideas, and in very good company. And beer drinking contest? An empty show of bravado, not an achievement really. But it is fun, at least in the way San Miguel Brewery (SMB) conducts it, so I found myself in my first beer drinking contest. The contest was about how fast you could down a bottle of beer and not how much, and I was comfortable with that. Plus, friends from SMB had invited, and I knew my babe Bob Jerezo, robust beer drinker, would like the event.

SMB was launching the 11th edition of the National Beer Drinking Competition (NBDC) with a version for the media people and reporters at the Cruise Bar and Restaurant at the San Miguel by the Bay, at SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City. SMB decided to invite reporters from the lifestyle section, mixing them with reporters from the sports section, for this second edition of the beer drinking contest for the media.

SMB made the night a good avenue for drinking beer with ample food, live band and good friends and acquaintances. Members of the famous San Miguel basketball team and other personalities from the Philippine Basketball Association graced the occasion.

We were grouped into more than 10 teams of five members each. It was to be a relay game: members lined up, each taking turns drinking the beer as fast as he/she could and all ending with shouting an SMB slogan. Bob and I found ourselves grouped with Glaiza Lee of The Manila Bulletin and Nickie Wang and a friend from The Manila Standard Today. We did not talk about strategy. Could there be any? No spilling was the rule. I worried and hoped I would not gag. After all, SMB was giving away P100,000 worth of cash and San Miguel items to the winners.

Last year, the team composed of Beermen Jonas Villanueva and Chris Calaguio, The Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Teddyvic Melendres and Marc Reyes, and The Philippine Star’s Abac Cordero clocked one minute and 33 seconds, winning the contest. It was a tough act to follow.

The second team in the line, we plunged ahead and I was drinking in front of three judges—PBA icons Alvin Patrimonio, Hector Calma and Peter Martin—and other people. The beer was thankfully cold, thus the bitterness was hardly discernible. Everything seemed to happen so fast but in reality, we were slow, clocking more than two minutes. Most the teams clocked less than that. My heart sank, but there was no chance for grieving. We had plentiful food and company to laugh and share stories with. And there was beer, so much going around, to foster a general sense of good feeling.

Bob got to sing a couple of songs with the band. He had something to celebrate: he had won in the best individual beer-drinking time category, a new category added to mark the entry of another decade for the contest, with 10 seconds or so. Although I wished his achievement would also include finishing a book or something like that, I was proud. I also felt a sense of achievement myself—I was brave enough to try this activity, which I never imagined I would do. To me there must be some pupose to it. For while others will do it for bragging rights or free beer, I’d do it again for the money, for experience, for writing and for love. Cliche and shameless, the last one is, I know. Actually, the first one should be. Maybe I am not that different from the others who enter beer drinking contests. But for whatever the reasons, there will always be the spirit of fun. Good, good fun, it is hoped.

The beer drinking contest’s media edition was also staged in Iloilo City on Aug. 9 and Cebu City on Aug. 10. It will be staged in Davao City on Aug. 27 and in Cagayan de Oro City on Aug. 28. After that, a version will be staged for employees of SMB nationwide. The NBDC, which draws at least 300,000 beer drinkers annually, will culminate with the consumer edition late this year. San Miguel Brewery remains the market leader in the brewing industry with 120 years of history.

Try-outs are now ongoing until Oct. 31. For more details, call 632-2337 (BEER); send SMS to 0922-6322337; or visit to www.smbtakesyouto

Me and the team. Babe is beside me.

The winning team in the second media edition of the SMB National Beer Drinking Contest

PBA legends Alvin Patrimonio, Hector Calma and Peter Martin

Bob Jerezo attempts to beat the fastest individual time record, and he won as the fastest that night and wins

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Into the Full Light of Modern Day: Tanghalang Pilipino Turns 1906 Novel Into a Rock Musical

Fernando Josef, artistic director of Tanghalang Pilipino (TP), is worried how the new production, the opener of its 24th theater season, of Cultural Center of the Philippines' (CCP) resident theater company would fare against the much-anticipated and much-talked-about Cats. The Broadway musical, mounted by an Australian company, has extended for a week or so at CCP's main theater, Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo, coinciding with the opening week of Banaag at Sikat, Isang Rock Musical (Glimmer and Ray of Light, A Rock Musical).
Even without Cats, Josef is constantly concerned how to attract people into going to see plays in the country as much as how to find resources in mounting one. Despite dreary situations, desire and ambition do not cease, and artists found ways to come out with substantial projects, such as the musical version of Banaag at Sikat, an important Tagalog novel of Lope K. Santos published in 1906.
The concept of the play was discussed as early as 2005 by Josef and literary critic and poet Bienvenido Lumbera, National Artist for literature. Lumbera began writing the libretto, planning to finish it to be mounted in time for the novel's centenary in 2006. The project proved to be challenging, and the libretto took more time to write than previously thought. Eventually, Lumbera spent about a month in Davao City to write and finished it in 2008.
The next step was to find funding to mount the musical. TP's initial funds were not sufficient for the envisioned scale of the musical. When Lumbera was named National Artist in 2007, entitling him to an annual grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) for his projects, the problem was solved. National Artist for theater and design, Salvador Bernal, came on board as production designer and gave part of his grant to the project.
Banaag at Sikat becomes a major and exciting production now with the involvement of two National Artists, opening TP's season that focuses on the works of National Artists. This is in addition to the fact that the novel, the basis, is a significant work in Philippine literature. The most important of writer Santos's works, Banaag at Sikat is one of earliest novels written in Tagalog. Featuring clashes between the rich and cruel business owners and poor laborers, and a love story between a poor socialist activist and a daughter of a rich man, the novel speaks of socialism and anarchism.
"Pinagtaganan ang awtor bilang tagahubog ng wikang Tagalog at tagapagpalaganap ng kaisipang makabayan at maka-manggagawa (The author is respected as moulder of the Tagalog language and promulgator of nationalism and labor rights.)," Lumbera said.
Though it is a work that every Filipino should know about, selling Banaag at Sikat is a problem. Lumbera admits that the younger generation are reading less and less thus they are not familiar with the novel, which is in "old" Tagalog.
"Sa kasalukuyang panahon , nagbago na ang wikang Tagalog at ang pagbabasa ay inagawan ng sine, telebisyon at kompyuter ng mga kabataan na dati noo'y libro ang pinaglilibangan. Kung tatanungin mo ang mga estudyante kung nabasa nila ang Banaag at Sikat, titignan ka na wari baga'y isa ka ng nilalang na galing sa ibang planeta at may dalang balitang hindi nila mawari (Today, the Tagalog langauge has changed, and movies, television and the computer has snatched reading of its audience of young people, who spent their time on books before. If you were to ask students if they have read Banaag at Sikat, you would be looked at as if you are a creature from another planet bearing a message they can't comprehend.)," he said.
Lumbera added: "Upang ipakilala ang nobela, naisip kong isadula ito nang kahit papaano magkaroon ng pagkaintindi sila kung bakit dapat igalang si Lope K. Santos bilang manunulat at palaisip. Ang naging problema ko sa pagsasa-entablado ng nobela ni Lope K. Santos ay ang polemikal na karakter ng Banaag at Sikat. Ang maraming bahagi ng nobela ay binubuo ng paglalahad kung 'di man pagtatalo tungkol sa mga kaisipang sosyalista. Magugunita na ang pakay ng nobela ay ipakilala sa mga manggagawa ang mga kaisipang nagtataguyod sa kapakanan ng taong lumilikha sa pamamagitan ng kanilang pagpapawis ng yamang sinasarili ng kapitalista (To make the novel known to many, I thought of making it into a play so that people may understand why they should respect Lope K. Santos as a writer and thinker. The polemical character of Banaag at Sikat became my problem during the process. Many parts of the novel consist of explanations, if not arguments, on socialist ideas. Remember that the intention of the novel is to introduce to laborers ideas that uphold the rights of workers who sweat for riches the capitalists acquire for themselves)."
For the play, Lumbera put into action the struggles and thoughts of the characters. Moreover, the production is made more attractive, especially to young people, by transforming it into a musical using indie rock music. The music is written by Lucien Letaba, who has written music for many productions including Hibik at Himagsik nina Victoria Lactaw (2002) for Dulaang UP, written Lumbera. Directing the musical fell into the hands of critically acclaimed director Jose Estrella.
The characters of Banaag at Sikat will be brought to life of a formidable cast of actors including Al Gatmaitan, Ayen Laurel, John Arcilla, Roeder Camañag, Angeli Bayani, Banaue Miclat, Clottie Lucero, Emlyn Santos, Greg De Leon, Raymond Roldan, Bong Cabrera, Martha Comia, Tara Cabaero, Franco Laurel, Jonathan Tadioan and Riki Benedicto.
"There is creative tension between the old and the new mindset linking hands and soul moving forward. A collaboration of the brilliant minds of our National Artists and the fresh young voices of Tanghalang Pilipino artists, Banaag at Sikat is truly a work where tradition and new genres are bridged through the ties of brilliant artists moving in synch," exclaimed Raul Sunico, artistic director of the CCP.

Banaag at Sikat, Isang Rock Musical shows at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater) from Aug. 18 to 22 and 25 to 29, at 8 p.m. (for performances every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and 3 p.m. (for performances every Friday, Saturday and Sunday). Special performances are available upon reservation. Ticket prices are at P600 (regular), P300 (student) and P480 (senior citizens). For inquiries, contact Tanghalang Pilipino at 832-3661 or 832-1125 locals 1620 or 1621; the CCP Box Office at 832-3704; or TicketWorld at 891-9999.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Strumming Interest: UST Holds First International Guitar Festival

The guitar is most likely the most popular musical instrument in the country, if not the whole world, attested Raul Sunico, artistic director of the country's premier artistic institution the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Its popularity he attributed to its "being portable, inexpensive, and quite easy to learn as far as basics are concerned."

"Most of us don’t know that the guitar is actually capable of more complex and interesting sounds than we are used to hearing," said the renowned pianist, who is also dean of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Conservatory of Music, the largest conservatory in the country in terms of enrolment.

In the aim of showing the world the guitar as a classical instrument and as contribution to the quadricentennial celebration of the university in 2011, the Guitar Department, the third largest department in the conservatory, in cooperation with the Foundation for the Musical Filipino, mounts the Guitarra 2010: The First University of Santo Tomas International Guitar Festival, from Aug. 23 to 27.

The five-day festival features lectures, master classes and concerts of local guitarists and guitar teachers and international guests. Master guitarist from abroad include Agustin Castilla-Avila from Spain, Ruey Yen from Taiwan and Meng Feng Su also from Taiwan.

Born in Jerez de la Frontera, Avila obtained his music degree in guitar from the Conservatorio Superior de Sevilla under the tutelage of Josefina Calero. In 1998, he became the first guitarist to be awarded a scholarship by the Fundacion La Caixa and the British Council to study for a master’s degree at the London College of Music under Carlos Bonell. He later moved to the Guildhall School of Music where he earned a postgraduate diploma and a master's degree with guitarists Robert Brightmore, David Miller and composer Matthew King. He won the Portallion Solo Guitar Prize at this school. He also did guitar studies with Isabel Siewers at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria and with Frank Koonce at Arizona State University where he served as a teaching assistant. He has taught guitar at the Conservatorio de Musica de Ceuta and at the Conservatorio de Musica de Lucena, both in southern Spain. As a guitarist, he has played as a soloist, chamber musician and as a concerto soloist with orchestras in Spain, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Finland and the United States. As a composer, he has participated numerous music festivals and written for different music groups, solos, chamber music, orchestral, theater plays, choreographies and a chamber opera.

Since 2009, Avila is the artistic advisor of the Microtonal Music Society in Austria and is currently writing a chamber opera called Don Quijote’s Dulcinea for the Passau Festspiele 2010 in Germany, among others.

Taiwanese Ruey Yen earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Arizona State University and also holds a science degree in physics from the National Cheng Kung University. He has taken master classes with Manuel Barrueco, David Russell and Roberto Aussel. Yen was the director of 2004 Taiwan International Guitar Competition and Festival and has served as the executive board member of the Taiwan Guitar Society which he co-founded in 2000. Currently teaching in Open University of Kaohsiung, he has developed a series of online musicology courses which earned him national acclaim as a musicologist. His debut album entitled Guitarra Exotica with flautist Shelly O’Donin and tenor Joel M. Rinsema is a result of his interest in world music culture.

On the other hand, Meng Feng Su, who graduated from L’Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris in 2005 under maestro Alberto Ponce with a Superior Diploma of Execution and was also accepted with honors at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris under maestro Roland Dyens, is one of the most prominent guitarists in Taiwan today. He has been awarded many prizes in Taiwan and other countries. His debut two-CD album Contatos¸ which explores a wide range of classical guitar works including 19th century guitar music as well as that of South America, was released in 2008 and became a bestseller in Taiwan and has garnered good reviews. Meng Feng Su’s repertoire ranges from solos and concertos to chamber music and works for vocalist and guitar, and covers the Renaissance era to the present.

They join Filipino guitarists Ruben Reyes, Angelito Agcaoili, Joseph Mirandilla and Manuel Cabrera II, mostly from the faculty of UST Conservatory of Music and all UST alumni.

Reyes serves as the festival director of Guitarra 2010. He has performed in many events and projects, and has written and performed music for plays of Tanghalang Ateneo. With master’s degree in music, summa cum laude, from UST, he currently teaches classical guitar and is concurrently coordinator for the Guitar Department at the UST Conservatory of Music. Also, Reyes is the music director of both the UST Guitar Ensemble and UST Guitar Quartet, and a member of the Clarion Chamber Ensemble and the Majam jazz group.

Agcaoili studied guitar under Mario Rodriguez at the UST; Jose Luis Rodrigo at the Real Conservatorio Superior de Musica in Madrid, Spain; Elliot Frank at East Carolina University; and Frank Koonce at Arizona State University. He has also participated as a performer in the workshops and master classes conducted by world-renowned guitarists such as Leo Brouwer, Jose Tomas, John Williams and David Russell. He has also garnered several prizes in guitar competitions in the country. He has taught at the University of Santo Tomas, Santa Isabel College and St. Scholastica's College, and served as a teaching assistant at East Carolina University and at Arizona State University. He currently teaches at Arcadia Music Academy in Phoenix, Arizona.

His work and research on the guitar music of the Philippines has been steadily gaining recognition. He has premiered the guitar works of Filipino composers such as Bayani de Leon, Lucrecia Kasilag, Antonio Pahang, Jose Valdez and Angel Peña.

Classical guitarist Mirandilla received his first training of the guitar and bachelor’s degree in music at UST under Ruben Reyes. In 2005, he went to Hiroshima, Japan to pursue his post-graduate studies at the Elisabeth University of Music. He won honors and awards in several international guitar competitions. He currently works as a foreign expert instructor of guitar at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music in Chengdu, China, and is an active recitalist and concert artist with performances in Japan, China and the Philippines.

Cabrera started playing the guitar at the age of 18, obtained his bachelor of music in guitar performance at UST, later studied with acclaimed Japanese guitarist Norioh Sato and received his master of music in guitar under a scholarship grant from the Elisabeth University of Music in Hiroshima, Japan. He has won major competitions in the Philippines and Japan, and has performed in numerous events. He has taught at the UST Conservatory of Music from 2000 to 2007, and recently moved to Singapore to further pursue a career in performing and teaching.

They gather together in celebration of the guitar. The Guitarra 2010 lectures are held in the morning and master classes in the afternoon at the recital halls of the UST Conservatory of Music at the fifth floor of the Albertus Magnus Building of UST on Espana Street, Manila. Lectures include "World Music and the Guitar" by Yen; "Philippine Guitar Music" by Agcaoili; "Microtonal Music for the Guitar" and "Composing for the Guitar" By Avila; and "Teaching Beginning Guitar."

In the evenings, concerts are held at the Philamlife Auditorium on United Nations Avenue, Ermita, Manila. Agcaoili and Avila perform on Aug. 24, Yen and Mirandilla on Aug. 25, and Su and Cabrera on Aug. 26. On Aug. 27, the festival culminates with simultaneous master classes by the guitarist-teachers and concert in the evening. They are joined by the UST Guitar Ensemble and the Festival Guitar Orchestra.

The UST Guitar Ensemble is one of the large ensembles with member coming from the guitar faculty, students and alumni of the conservatory. It began as the UST Guitar Quartet until it into ensemble. It was originally conceived as an avenue for guitar students to learn ensemble playing, but evolved as one of the finest concert ensembles in the country. The ensemble is unique with its use of three guitar sizes, the alto, prime and bass guitars, which are tuned a fifth higher, standard and fourth lower respectively, giving the ensemble a much wider range than a regular guitar ensemble. The alto and bass guitars were made by luthier Adolfo Timuat. The group's repertoire consists of music from the Renaissance to the present, and in different combinations from duets to trios, quartets, quintets and more.

All lectures, master classes and concerts are open to the public. For reservations and inquiries, contact the UST Conservatory of Music at 731-4022 or 406-1611 local 8246; the UST Guitar hotline at 0927-2224297; or e-mail

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Babe: Another Gallery

Wala na sang mga tinaga agod mahingadlan ko ang akon nabatyagan para sa imo kundi ari lamang ang mga pitik lamang sang akon kasingkasing.Pagapuksion ko ini agod ihalad sa imong mga palad agodto mabatyagan mo ang pagporma sang bagyo sa akon pagkatawo, pareho sang mga kalibutan nga ginabun-ag, pareho sang mga kilat nga ginadihon pa lamang, pareho sang sentro sang kalibutan kon sa diin ginagaling ang nagabaga-baga nga lao kag mga bato, pareho sang bulak nga manugbuskag, pareho sang mga bitoon nga manuglupok.