reaping the cost of solitude

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

How Pinoy Teleseryes Are Underestimating The Power of Music

I must say one of my biggest frustrations in teleseryes, in primetime or otherwise, is the way they completely underestimate the power of music. The producers only think of music as "branding" - you could even make a case that it's a blatant attempt to brainwash its audience by repeatedly playing the same track over and over until such time whenever people hear the song it immediately registers in their preconditioned minds: "oh, it's TIMY time." Even the title of the series is the title of the song! It's the complete opposite of art. It's advertising.

Personally, I think its an insult to use music in such a sleazy way, and such a waste of the potential music could play in the overall quality of a TV series. In OTWOL for example, it pains me to hear "say you'll never gooooo" for the umpteenth time when a more effective song could have been easily selected for the scene. And I know the producers, including the actors themselves, could have easily suggested the perfect song for a specific scene... but it never happens.

That said, I have to bring up Forevermore. While it suffers the same problems with OTWOL with regards to its soundtrack, I have to commend it for particularly using music to great effect in one pivotal scene in its finale episode, using "Sana'y Muli" by Pepe Herrera:

Obviously it would be costly to acquire permission to use a song like "Sparks" by Coldplay in a scene where the hero longs for his love, but why import when we have home-grown talent? Indie music is particularly effective for rom-coms and the indie music scene in the Philippines is a gold mine! Assuming the artists aren't uptight about using their own songs on a primetime TV show (which by the way is a direct side effect of the way these teleseryes have been reducing music to mere commercial clips for the show), the music supervisor could easily pitch and tap songs from Pinoy artists like Johnoy Danao, Clara Benin, or Reese Lansangan among others to add several layers and vivid colors to a scene - and most importantly only play them ONCE. The possibilities are endless. Not only will they be improving the overall quality of the series, but it would also give deserving Pinoy musicians much needed exposure.

Let me end this post with a song from Johnoy Danao:


Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Rise of Maine Mendoza

Kalye Squad
One could argue the best thing that's ever happened to local TV happened not too long ago - October 2015 to be exact. Twitter was alit, records broken, and in its wake the world was left wondering: What the hell is Aldub? Now that the fanfare has slightly subsided, and now that we've seen the lengths Eat Bulaga and its famed Kalyeserye segment are willing to traverse to guarantee Aldub's longevity, I, a forever closet fanatic, am finally out (hence this post). Surprise, surprise, I am an Aldub fan - which explains... nothing. Or a lot?

To the (presumably very few) uninitiated: Alden Richards + Yaya Dub = AlDub. It's basically what most Filipinos refer to as a 'love team', a pairing of two local celebrities preferably (and eternally) male and female, ordained by one of only two networks in heavy monopoly of broadcast television in the Philippines with the sole purpose of melting the gullible hearts of the average Filipino; because we are admittedly a bunch of idealistic love-addicted hopeless romantics. The thing about Aldub is, while they are by all means a network-backed 'love team', in its heyday none of it seemed manufactured. Sure, it needed the guiding hand and gentle coaxing of Eat Bulaga's producers and hosts, but in hindsight it was essentially a glorious accident borne out of spontaneity. Yaya Dub's very existence can attest to that.

Here she is. Forgot to take her meds again.

Entry to EB

A love team was pretty much far from the minds of Eat Bulaga's producers when they started doing casting calls for a new segment in their program. The bill: a comedian who had an affinity for Dubsmash. Enter Maine Mendoza, a 20 year old fresh graduate with zero experience in showbiz that had a knack for lip syncing as well as contorting her face in front of the camera; who also enjoyed a bit of success on Youtube, Facebook, and other social media outlets. Her persona screamed: I am no Anne Curtis and most certainly not love team material. I am however something you can laugh at. Want to see my teeth? For awhile, she was just that, doing what she did best, apron and all. But that would change in just a matter of days.

#AlDub Day 1: Yaya DUB meets Alden #KiligPaMore
Si Yaya DUB na-distract kay Bae Alden! ;) #KiligPaMore #PabebeWavePaMore
Posted by Eat Bulaga on Thursday, July 16, 2015

Alden and the Pabebe Wave

Upon discovering Maine had a crush on Alden, the show's producers immediately capitalized by scheming an 'ambush' on Maine: Alden sits in the audience with a camera pointed at him and once Yaya was preoccupied doing one of her dubsmashes, Alden's video feed is skillfully propped up on the opposite screen. She glances to the monitor and finds her crush watching her - rather amusingly. The rest is history. Maine desperately tries to revert back to Yaya Dub mode, but it's too late. The trap has been sprung and it's too much for her to handle.

As a testament to her natural ability to think on her feet, she eventually recovers from Alden's laser stares by sending shy-girl flirtatious ogling back his way - as well as launching several Pabebe Waves in the process, much to the delight of the hosts and live audience. Aldub's status as a love team has now been minted 'official'. The two continue to share a flirty, hey-I-just-met-you-semi-awkward back and forth amidst the constant teasing, and the audience gobbles it all up.

The show's producers were quite happy with the result of their little experiment. They would continue to do the bit on each episode; always with Alden in the studio and Yaya in whichever barangay she and JoWaPao were situated at. Interest in the show continued to grow with much of its appeal revolving around the unscripted nature of their exchanges, the subsequent kilig, and the insatiable hope that one day these two would finally meet in person.

Yaya Dub faints

Yaya Dub faints.
While the show was steadily gaining new fans each day, it wasn't quite at the level of fame it enjoys today. Tamang Panahon was certainly at the pinnacle, but if there's a single episode that could be credited for laying the groundwork for the show's eventual launch to the stratosphere, it was the YaKie Wedding where Yaya Dub faints (apparently from exhaustion). Like a lot of people, I only ever started hearing about 'Aldub' from the buzz this specific episode generated. The word of mouth went: This one character, Yaya Dub, was so excited to see her long-time crush for the first time that she fainted from the excitement. While this info was erroneous, I was intrigued regardless. Who exactly is this Yaya Dub?

The episode brought in a considerable, viral-like amount of new viewers; mostly out of curiosity. Coupled with Maine's Instagram post from the hospital - shrugging the whole incident aside in her usual clownish humor with all traces of worry and melodrama swept under the rug - she caught many people by surprise. Many expected a politically correct P.S.A. but were instead treated to a laugh. The brunt of curious onlookers who wanted to take a peek seemingly became Yaya Dub fans overnight, further adding to the already strong Aldub Nation fandom headcount. She was anything but a traditional Filipina celebrity, and people seemed to love it.

Funny to think the Aldub phenomenon found its stride out of people's morbid curiosity of seeing someone faint on live TV rather than in the show's actual merits. It all worked out well for the show in the end since they managed to keep those figures up by continuing to deliver the goods it was already known for. The show would eventually reach several milestones and landmark episodes during its continued rise: The First Meeting, The First Date, The Date at the Mansion, and then there was Tamang Panahon...

Yaya Dub vs Maine Mendoza

As interest in her grew, many people began wondering who the person behind Yaya Dub was. A self-proclaimed introvert, Maine Mendoza doesn't really see much of herself in the character she plays. She claims she and Yaya share the same humor but only when she's with family and friends. She mostly keeps to herself behind the scenes according to JoWaPao and the Kalyeserye crew; and only transforms into the loud and animated Yaya when the cameras start rolling. She loves to write. She keeps a blog and is surprisingly open and honest about her private life. She also claims to have incredibly low self-esteem, which is hard to believe coming from someone who plays probably the most flamboyant character on TV in recent memory.

Despite her many insecurities, she manages to suck it up and deliver the Yaya Dub goods on a daily basis. Being an introvert myself, I could barely stand in front of a crowd and pretend to care without feeling sick to my stomach. Which leads me to wonder if she only has a mild case of introversion, or maybe she just has balls bigger than mine. That's essentially the irony that is Maine Mendoza, a Jekyll-Hyde of sorts in Philippine media, and it adds to her mystic.

The clown. (photo from her Instagram)
Besides her already proven comic skills, a huge part of what I think really captivated audiences is the fact that she is an underdog. She wasn't bred to become a celebrity. She doesn't look the part - even preferring to have ugly photos taken of herself. She's also quite straightforward in interviews, shying away from lip service and preferring to answer with as much honesty as possible. Lastly, she doesn't take herself too seriously. She does her best to downplay her popularity and continues to live a normal life among family and friends. While she resides in an industry filled with fictitious and fake people, she rises above the muck because she reminds us too much of ourselves: real, unfiltered, sometimes brave, oftentimes fearful, confused, and full of love. She is basically us. That's why she is loved by many.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

My Smile (Maine Mendoza Speaks)

My only real worry now that time has passed and the skyline of any major Philippine city is littered with Aldub billboards is the smile I now see; one inviting both those familiar of my face and those clueless. I have a stabbing fear that these smiles are slowly becoming cosmetic for the purpose of selling a product. But I suppose the subject of money isn't really as ugly as I once thought it was. The truth is, we all need it - and I'll be damned if I don't get paid for the lack of sleep this has brought me since I met him. The day to day real work I'm okay with, but navigating the shit-storm fame produces is on an entirely different level of expertise I'm not qualified for. Fan wars, Twitter wars, Love Team wars, Network wars - I wish I could just majestically wave my hand in front of all the superficial nonsense and all will be well. But no, it's not that easy. Something inside me has to shut these out. I could probably do this several ways, but I've yet to see if I could sustain this new habit without any side effect. I do wish I get to keep my smile. It's one of the few things I hold most dear. I'm starting to worry because I already feel it slipping away.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

I Am Jealousy

I am jealousy. People usually avoid me, but you'd be surprised how much I get summoned to do my work.

Take Sammy for instance. She's particularly jealous of this other girl, Dolly. Sammy just found out that Dolly plays a mean flute. Sure, Sammy can play the flute, but you should see Dolly, man. She's a monster.

Now look at Sammy - cleaning the dust bunnies off her prized flute. She stored it in her top cabinet for god-knows-how-long. You'd think she would place it somewhere accessible - like her desk or something. Huh. Now she's playing her go-to song, the one she can complete from start to finish. She's only played it for the millionth time. Look at the hunger in those eyes. Haha. I love it. In a week's time, she will probably learn a couple more songs. Believe me - I've seen it happen too many times. You're welcome, Sammy.

I deal with people like Sammy everyday. They shun and deny me whenever I get talked about in social gatherings, and it hurts my feelings. Nevertheless, I need not do much really. For I know all these fallible minds will eagerly and irritably wave a bittersweet invitation for me later, tomorrow, if not someday. I can wait and I serve all.


Listening to
"Anarchy OK" - Cog

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

The First Time Assassin

The traffic is terrible. Sweat trickles down his forehead as the morning sun defiantly continues to beat down on his face - yet inside him: an anxiety so incapacitating, and a rage boiling relentlessly. It seems there's no end to this long morning unless he just goes through with it.

This is it. If I wait any longer, this opportunity will pass.

Trembling, Hans nervously pulls the window down, aims his pistol at the windshield of the black SUV behind him, and pulls the trigger. A wave of gunshots erupts. Shards of glass fly through the air as each successive bullet punches holes through the windshield. It takes a couple more before it shatters. Satisfied but a bit unsure, he stops and waits. The calm that follows is deafening. The surrounding cars lay still for a moment, unable to react, before inching away from the SUV, slowly, one by one.

Hans reluctantly disembarks from his maroon car, pistol still in hand. He cautiously goes over to the SUV to check his handiwork. His target, a man in his forties, is terrified at the sight of him approaching, and to Hans' surprise, the man remains unscathed save for a few scratches. Confused and visibly shaken, Hans finds a bloodied woman in the driver's seat next to the man, lying motionless.


Friday, January 01, 2016

Cat Dies Alone on New Year's Eve

The Dead Cat (encircled)
This has been quite an eventful new year's eve. There I was - December 31, 2015 at around 11:45 PM enjoying myself as fireworks begin to light up the night skies, slowly intensifying as the last minutes of 2015 dwindle down to zero. I did my share of producing irresponsible amounts of noise accompanied by clouds of dense suffocating smoke with my 4 sets of lebentador (only donated, by the way). At a distance, I see a neighbor light up the skies with a 10-minute display of fancy fireworks - the likes could rival the ones they have in SM or Ayala - which probably cost him/her around half a million pesos (ugh, some people got money to burn). It's deeply humiliating to be standing in awe of the fancy display of lights while holding cheap, unsafe, and ultimately earth-bound firecrackers. I initially had second thoughts about whether or not I should bother lighting them, but I did and its puniness amused me.

But this post is not about cheap-vs-expensive firecrackers or the new year's eve revelry. This is about a cat. A dead one. Right about the time I lit the last set of firecrackers, I noticed something by the gutter right outside the house. There he was (or a she? I wasn't sure) lying lifeless by the drainage. At first I thought it was a simple case of roadkill - someone had run the poor thing over and left it for dead. But I did not see blood nor guts splattered anywhere. Then I thought this must be some elaborate prank by drunk neighbors visiting houses and throwing carcasses of dead animals by their gates for a laugh. It's the new year after all, and some people think normal rules of etiquette don't apply during these few hours of mayhem. But nope, not the case either.

I tried poking the thing with my slipper - no movement. Tried again, just to be sure (I had no plans of starting the year with rabies). Still no movement. I poked its tail with my fingers... and again... now twiddling it. Still no movement. I tried looking at its face. Its eyes were wide open with a bit of glimmer in them, and the carcass looked fresh - no odor, no ants nor anything feasting upon it. I was now sure this poor thing died only moments earlier, and I had to move it before it starts emanating an ungodly stink. I wasn't excited to get my hands on a fairly large dead and decomposing mammal right before the obligatory new year's eve meal, but I had no choice. I squeamishly grabbed and lifted the thing by its tail (by the way, it was surprisingly heavy; and its limbs were already stiff), hauled it across the road to a nearby cliff and threw it down below. Minutes later, I washed my hands and ate hotdog on a bun - with tomato ketchup.

It's now around 20 hours since our paths crossed (me and the dead cat, that is) and I still can't stop thinking about what caused its death. My best guess is it was probably poisoned from rummaging through our neighbor's trash - which was several yards away from the crime scene. Or maybe it was bitten by a poisonous snake (which is even worse). The CCTV footage was no help - it only showed the cat's last moments before death. The cat definitely came from the neighbor's heap of trash- it hastily ran from it and right to our front gate (9:31 PM). It then began its dance of death - squirming, crawling. Very spastic at first but gradually slowing down to a halt. It took 12 minutes before it finally succumbed.

The video footage can be seen below:

To the cat: 

I am deeply sorry you had to perish so close to the new year (December 31, 2015 at 9:43 PM) and I can't help but notice you were alone when you did. I hope you are running freely in cat heaven by now, rummaging through heavenly trash with your friends without any danger of being bitten by those darned poisonous snakes. I'm sorry that you had to endure ten minutes of agony. Honestly, if I found you spazzing out, I would've been too much of a chicken to do anything anyway. But I hope you find comfort that in an ideal world - where I'm unafraid of untamed rabid animals - I would've euthanized you by uh... I don't know. Strangling you? (There weren't any shovels nearby.)

I know it's useless to cry over spilled milk. Perhaps you just had to go out the way you did. I hope I wasn't too brash and insensitive by just throwing your carcass down the cliff like that (I was panicking). I hope your fall was softened by the thick bushes below. And finally, I hope your decomposing body provided much needed sustenance to the various insects and critters that inhabit the vicinity close to your grave - thereby completing the circle of life.

Rest in peace, cat.

Your frightened friend,