Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Some weekends, we're twiddling our thumbs looking for things to do.
And then there are anomalies--like this coming weekend which has four big events.
There's the APCC 2016 (Asia Pop Comic Con Manila) at SMX with headliners Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max, X-Men), Joe Dempsie (Game of Thrones, Skins), Claire Holt (Vampire Diaries), Millie Bobbie Brown (Stranger Things), Simone Legno (Tokidoki) and Whilce Portacio (Image Comics).
The convention--the second of its kind here, runs from August 26 to August 28, 2016.
For more information on tickets, other guests and schedules, go to their website.

There's the first ever History Con at the World Trade Center which starts Thursday August 25th and ends Sunday August 28th.
Headliners include: Giorgio A. Tsoukalos from Ancient Aliens, Brandi Passante and Jarrod Schulz from Storage Wars, Damon Runyan from Gangland Undercover, Justin Mott from Photo Face Off and Marc Nelson, KC Montero and Joey Mead from Celebrity Car Wars
The website also promises, VR demos, a History Bee competition, a cosplay competition, a treasure hunt and a rally of cars and bikes at the four day convention.
For more information, visit this website.

The 10th International Silent Film Festival also happens at the Cinema 2 of EDSA Shangri-La.
Silent films from the United States, Germany, Austria, Japan, France, Spain, Italy, the Philippines and the UK will be screened and musical accompaniment will be provided by:
Tago Jazz Collective
Oh, Flamingo
Ely Buendia
Makiling Ensemble
Brass Pas Pas Pas Pas
Ding Dong Fiel Chamber Ensemble & Miguel Angel Lobato
Felipe A. Latonio, Jr.
Basti Artadi
Up Dharma Down

The Philippine Readers and Writers Festival 2016 happens at the Raffles Makati from August 26th to the 28th. Guests include Pulitzer award winner Adam Johnson (The Orphan Master's Son, Fortune Smiles), author Anna Todd (After) and Paula Mclain (Paris Wife, Circling the Sun).
Admission is FREE. Visit their website for the complete schedule.

Deus Sex Machina 9: Like A Virgin happens at Route 196 on Friday night. Click here to see their Facebook event page.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Born to Filipino parents in Seattle in 1972, graphic designer and musician Albert Ochosa is the first artist to create a collection for the Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas’ “Artist Signature Series” of t-shirts and merchandise.

“I think by now I have far given up my aspirations to become some gothic rockstar, so graphic design is my concert venue. Every stroke, texture and color treatment makes me explore my own lyrics, beats and melody in a composition and amazingly, it is all music to me.”
                                                     --Albert Ochosa

I first met Albert Ochosa in 1999. Atom Henares and Mike Ochosa (Albert’s cousin) introduced us.  Atom got in touch with me saying there was this guy visiting from Seattle whom he was sure I’d get along with.

How about like a house on fire?

A group meet up was arranged at a now defunct bar at the Fort called Mondo. We met up again later on our own and hit Malate and the Laureano Compound along Pasong Tamo—where the vibrance of the late 90’s was to be found. We visited NU 107 where Francis “Brew” Reyes interviewed Albert about his gothic band, “The Endless Still” and they exchanged notes on the use of the ebow.  Some contraption I had previously not heard of.

Albert became my host when I visited Seattle for the first time that same year.  He took me to goth clubs, a great coffee joint called the Coffee Messiah, the graves of Bruce and Brandon Lee and the Black Sun sculpture which inspired Soundgarden to come up with the song “Black Hole Sun” (on top of the traditional sights like the Space Needle and the Pike Place Market) all in a span of three days.
He also took me to see a midnight screening of a Danish vampire film called “Angel of the Night” at a film festival. To this day we will not forget the character named Rico Mortiz.

Thanks to the magic of Facebook, we got reconnected with each other two years ago and I’m quite thrilled to find out he still making and performing music with the bands Avila of Divine Eros (Madrid) and Anguisette (Seattle), creating exciting and edgy graphic design for his clients and making his own jewelry and accessories.

The biggest news is the recent launch of the Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas’ “Artist Signature Series”—with Albert as the first designer for a line of merchandise and collector’s accessories. The designs clearly show his love of rock music, the color black, the slightly off kilter and dark. 

The designs feature a mix of media: photography, line art and raw textures (photos of dirt, trees, wood and brick are layered into the design).

Putting together the shoots was an exercise in ingenuity, getting by with no budget but with a lot of help from friends:  The Hard Rock Hotel’s retail wiz and “cool hunter” who brokered the idea for the Artist Series booked the location and got the Hard Rock Store to provide wardrobe pieces. Guitars were lent, a make up artist was sent, Albert did set design and styling.  Their model was an employee of the Hard Rock with no previous experience who became their  “Nico / Twiggy / Siouxsie Sioux for the day.”

After all these years, it’s great to see Albert shows no signs of outgrowing the subculture that celebrates being different while having a propensity for the dark and strangely fascinating. 

He recalls, “It was the punk / goth crowd that welcomed me into their circles more than the “popular” crowd, as I think we were all identified as being the outcasts or the oddballs…Even during teen years when I had girlfriends and experienced those first breakups, gothic and punk music was my therapy and solace—I didn’t need drugs to make me feel better as long as I had music. What really introduced me to their whole image and lifestyle was Depeche Mode.

Even now I think of the whole subculture as something filled with beauty, not some dark and scary place.”

With all his gravitating to the dark, mysterious and nocturnal, Albert has an affinity for the sun:  his graphic design outfit is called Rising Sun Media and the campaign for his Hard Rock Hotel apparel is called Under a Different Sun.  Perhaps this alludes to the constantly shining sun in the land of his parent’s birth or the creative power we’re born with.  In the audio clip for Under a Different Sun, a sound byte says: “the spirit to shine is inside every one of us.”

Albert spends his time shuttling between Madrid, Las Vegas, Seattle and San Francisco. I’m hoping he gets to come back soon for more Philippine sun.

“This collector’s spin is from a scan of one of my father’s records, dedicated to this man who changed my life with rock and roll my dad is a city boy from Malate who loved music with a passion and always loved to go out and enjoy Manila nightlife back in the 50’s. He has an extensive record he still listens to today.” 

Part of the proceeds from the merchandise goes to “Let the Kids Rock,” the Hard Rock’s charity involved in restoring musical instruments for public schools. Albert designed the logo for the project, which appeared on the show “Real World Las Vegas” on MTV.

Maryanne Bilham is from New Zealand and has lived and worked in Hong Kong for 10 years (over the 90’s).  She’s been to the Philippines and enjoyed the beaches of Cebu and Puerto Gallera.  She has photographed Robert Smith, the Go-gos, Sheryl Crow, Blondie, Courtney Love, Santana, Slash, Heart, Cyndi Lauper, Jeff Beck and Skinny Puppy. www.visionairestudio.com

To find out more about the campaign visit:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Everyone's Nice The First Time You Meet Them

"Oh that person is so sweet / nice / cool / OK."  Yeah yeah yeah.  They all are when you first meet them because we all put our best foot forward when we meet people.

First impressions have their place but you really don't know what anyone is like until you have known them for years and years and years.  Sometimes it takes a really long time for the chinks in the armor to show, the strange neuroses, the issues and the dirt to surface.

I am on my way to a book launch and a bar later.  I shall smile and be cute and clever, but that certainly is not me when my parking space is taken.  

The world is also generously polluted with the fake, the clueless, the conniving and the disturbed.

Because this is October and because this is the month for goths, I shall depart with this piece of goth advice:  never buy into anyone's smile.

Except Alexander Skarsgard's.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

For Cooky and For Color It Red's 5th Album

First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY COOKY CHUA!  I've known her as long as I've known Color It Red and that was well over two decades ago--I must have been in what?  First grade?  (Cough, cough, cough).

Right now, Color it Red would love to come out with a fifth album and needs the help of fans and friends.  Find out how you can help support the effort by clicking on this link.

Color it Red's Artiste Connect Site

I'll definitely be helping out.  Throughout the years, this band has ALWAYS left me with a smile on my face and this little post is for them.  

Also, if you happen to be reading this post the same day, they're playing tonight at Tiendesitas.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


The biggest temptation for me lately at the start of the day is the SNOOZE button.  It takes so much to conquer it.  So much that I press it twice before I actually get up.

Something has to change but while things haven't, it's still that inner struggle.  Between the numbing comfort of the darkness behind the eyelids and getting up, standing up, dragging one foot out of the other to face the day.

Left, right, left, right and out the door.  The daily battle.

If Johnny Depp were in the bed with me than obviously, I'd surrender.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Hug Therapy

Six weeks ago, I decided to act like Atlas and carry weight of the world on my shoulders.   I became heavy, enclosed and gray and gloomy like the weather.

I've made several attempts to soothe my soul.  I've started reading some Deepak Chopra and I tried a yoga class.  Today, after the strapped the world on my backpack and headed out to do errands, I went over to exchange packages with a friend.  The exchange was meant to take only a few minutes as I had a cab waiting.

Our items (a letter opener from her and a keychain from me) changed hands but right before I left, she gave me a HUG.  It was quite unexpected and most welcome.  She started off by saying something about knowing I've been having a tough go of it of late.

That one hug has turned my day around.  I've smiled more today, I've worried less about my problems, I've had time to think about commitments our charity group made to the Silahis ng Kalusugan kids and work out a lunch my friend Cris is sponsoring at the White Cross.

I don't know if there are any scientific studies on the hug, but now I'm beginning to think random, genuine hugs have an incredible amount of power.  Hugs are capable of conveying so many things--I miss you, it is good to see you again, thank you, I understand.  

(Of course, there are also other types of hugs that say, "Hey, I really like touching you" but that is another story)

Hugs are magical and some of them can burst out with so much magic and positivity you just want to give a few out because it can't be contained.  Hugs are easy and healing.  And it's great to be reminded of that.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Keith Richards In My Passenger Seat (A review of the LIFE Audibook)

Even without knowing Keith Richards' book, LIFE has topped the New York Times' Bestseller List or continues to rank high on the Amazon lists, the man, his craft and milieu fascinate me so much, I eagerly awaited its release date--October 26th, 2010.  I held out until Christmas last year to get myself the perfect Christmas present:  the LIFE audio book.  Narrated by one of Keith Richard's good friends, Mr. Johnny Depp and rock musician Joe Hurley. 

The audio book comes in a set of 20 discs--19 of them tell the story while one contains pdf files.  I perpetually had those discs in my car and while I had that book playing, I did not mind the traffic one bit.  During those days when I'd be driving myself and I'd be listening, it would honestly feel like Keith was in the car with me, telling me stories of his life.   Anecdote after anecdote, I never would want him to end.  I would often arrive at my destination and go, "just one more track" and stay in the car a bit longer.

As far as rock memoirs go, this one stands a head and shoulders above so much of the clutter.  A good number of them basically tell the rudimentary tale of that rise to fame, the copious drugs, adulation and women, an internal downfall of sorts followed by redemption:  quitting the drugs and possibly finding that one woman that makes you want to be a better person--yeah I've read a few.  LIFE is exceptionally intelligent, beautiful and brilliant.  Richards takes us to his childhood--an only child growing up in Dartford, to his discovery of music via his mother and grandfather, Gus who encouraged him learn how to play "Malaguena"--"If you can play Malaguena, you can play anything."

From there we go to the struggling early days with Mick and Brian, to his absolute love of the blues.  How for extended periods of time, it would be nothing but the blues playing in that apartment the group shared.  While I have never attempted to play the guitar, I nevertheless enjoyed all the stories he had about getting creating certain sounds or getting a certain riff down, about "open G tuning."  He talks about it with so much passion, it is immediately obvious how much he adores his craft, how much he adores everything that goes with the creation of music.  He tells the story of how he wrote the song "Satisfaction" and how most of the time, the simplest of set ups mixed with creative ingenuity and serendipitous magic can produce greatest of music.

Keith has stories of the road, of being a first time father to his son Marlon, of the scrapes and accidents he's been involved in, of his Bentley, "Blue Lena," of his time in Jamaica where he continues to have a home and where he met the group now known as the "Wingless Angels," his friendship with musicians like Graham Parker and John Lennon, his court cases and how New Music Express kept naming him the rock star most likely to die for a period of ten years. These are just tales off the top of my head.  

One likewise gains insight into the love-hate relationship between him and Mick Jagger.  However, through all the violent fights, squabbles, and disagreements they continue, as one writer put it, to be "brothers."  The Rolling Stones are still The Rolling Stones.

Richards has a clever and colorful way of speaking and this is put out there wonderfully by Depp and Hurley.  Richards' voice however starts and ends the book.  LIFE, the audio book, is a true gem.  I almost hated having to wrap it up.  God bless you, Keith.