Category Archives: random musings

THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A D’ESPAIRSRAY LIVE REPORT

Everything was ready. All that’s left for me to do was to get on that plane. But the airport was the farthest I could go. Even if the live that I was supposed to attend was finished already, it still hasn’t sunk in. I wasn’t seeing D’espairsRay live after all.

JULY 28
I arrived early at the airport. My flight was at 5AM but I was already on the way an hour past midnight. Yes, I was that excited. As I reached the check-in counter, my head was already in Tokyo. My daydreaming was interrupted by the staffer’s unexpected question, “Ma’am, what happened to your passport?” I was using the same passport since 2010 and this was the first time I was asked this question. Confused, I ask what she meant. The staffer explained that my passport looked detached and then “glued together”. She again asked “Did you do anything to your passport?” I told her “No! Of course not.” She consulted with her supervisor. She went back and said “I’m sorry Ma’am, we cannot check you in. Your passport is tampered.” My knees felt instantly weak but calmly I told her, “Miss, there must be a mistake. I just used that same passport upon my arrival yesterday from Singapore. I even have here my ticket from that flight.” She then asked me again “Did you really not do anything to your passport?” Again, I told her that no, I did not do anything with my passport. And so she want back to consult with her peers. When she faced me again she  said with a tone of finality “Sorry Ma’am. There’s really something wrong with your passport. If we let you through, we will be given a memo. We cannot check you in on this flight.” I left the counter in a daze.

To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing wrong with my passport. This year alone, I’ve used the very same passport to get in and out of 5 countries, including Japan just this March. Prior to my supposed MNL – NRT flight, the same passport got me through CGK – SNG last July 23 and then through SNG – CLK last July 26. How could it be that suddenly my passport is invalid?

I sought out airport security. They told me only immigration can deny me passage but they, the security personnel, cannot interfere. I went back to the airline staff and asked if there’s anyone I can speak with. Two staffers approached, one of which was a supervisor it seemed. Again I was questioned if I did something with my passport. I vehemently told them that I didn’t mess with my own passport and that I have no reason to do so. So they asked me if there ever was a time wherein my passport was not with me. I told them I can only think of two recent instances: when I submitted my passport at Indonesian immigration for my re-entry permit last April and when I left it at the Japanese Embassy in Jakarta for the processing of my Japan visa only a week ago. The supervisor then said it could be that somehow, someone managed to detached my passport pages from the cover and then tried to cover up the damage by just glueing them back together.

I examined my passport and it did seem that something was amiss. But by this time, I don’t know what to think anymore. I haven’t slept yet since the day before and my stress level was quadrupling every minute. The supervisor further explained that they don’t want to let me through because if Japan immigration sensed also that there’s something wrong with my passport, I would be deported. DEPORTED. Hearing that word literally brought me chills. I told the supervisor that if only for my peace of mind could we compare my passport with another person’s. She complied. Faced with two passports with my own looking very different, I knew then that there’s nothing else I could do.

I wanted to cry so badly but wouldn’t. There’s no reason for me to look and feel more pathetic that I really was already. After all that questioning, I just wanted to hear a comforting voice. I tried calling my family then the friend I was supposed to meet in Japan. I called them numerous times. No answer. It’s 4AM. Everyone else had the right to blissfully sleep. I called a friend based in Canada. Static. All I had was my inner voice telling me to keep it together.

It was a long journey back home from the airport. Four hours after my ordeal, I was finally able to cry.

I felt sick but I had a lot to do. I needed to cancel and rebook what I can. Most importantly, I need to apply for a new passport so I can get back to my job in Jakarta.

By nightfall, I developed a fever.

JULY 29
I was supposed to welcome back D’espairsRay but instead I was stuck on my sick bed nursing a fever, a head-splitting ache and a hollowness inside.

It was tough balancing between wanting to hear updates about what’s going on and shunning everything about the live once and for all.

I was also still confused regarding what happened to my passport. Numerous questions kept running through my head. Who would do such a thing? Was there malice involved? Like seriously, WHAT THE FUCK? Will I able to secure a passport in time for my return to Jakarta?

My only comfort was that I was with my whole family. They’ve been very supportive. But then again, they don’t get the whole picture. Still, because of them I can smile.

Within me, inner voice kept chanting to keep it together.

NOW
I find joy in the knowledge that the live went well. Hizumi is still not on top form but from what I heard, he was able to perform competently.

There was no announcement of another live but still I was so, so happy that D’espairsRay was able to stage a comeback even if only for just one night and via a 4-song set.

But at the same time, each mention of the live brings a sharper pang through my heart. It is torture and it probably would be for quite a while.

Listening to D’espairsRay had and will always be an emotional experience for me. After their so-called disbandment, there was the tinge of longing and regret – regret that I didn’t take the chance to see them live before. Then there was also the hope that they’ll get back together eventually and I will be there to witness it.

Now, I have more emotions to wrestle with: bitterness, sadness and shit tons more of what-ifs and could-have-beens. But just as D’espairsRay has taught me that it’s never in vain to keep on hoping, I look forward to learning more about believing in second chances.

This first attempt at reaching out to them didn’t turn out the way I pictured it to be. But maybe, just maybe…next time I’ll get my turn to cheer for them in person.

…though I go on I won’t forget; the miracle of a reunion with you.

reflecting my unravelling thoughts, the sky cried…

forbear…

I wanted to be together with you forever…

– SQUALL (lyrics: Hizumi; music: Karyu / English translation: iro)

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Dear D’espairsRay

Three years ago, you made me write this:

It’s again past 3am. D’espairsRay made me ditch the Sandman one more time. But then again, this could also be the very last. The last time I’m losing sleep for them, the last time I’m writing a post about them. To paraphrase Neruda, though this be the last pain that they made me suffer and these the last verses that I write for them. And yet, just as it was said in the very same poem: my soul is not satisfied that it had lost them.

Every fiber in me refuses to acknowledge that this is the end. I vow then to remember this day…

I have never forgotten that day, guys. NEVER. But this is one thing I wasn’t able to uphold: that you will never make me cry again. Guess what, I’ve been crying for almost 2 hours now. And yes, here  I am writing another post about you.

You are coming back. You are really coming back.

Silly me have thought that as I’ve imagined this moment a number of times, I would have been ready when the time comes. Still you caught me off guard. Bravo guys, bravo.

I am still not 100% sure whether I’ll be there to welcome you personally. But I’ll be trying my damn hardest to be there.

And no more promises of not crying. If you happen to see one girl crying her eyes out at the live, chances are that it is me. Then again, there would definitely be a lot of crying on July. Not just me.

Welcome back, D’espairsRay. You are worth every teardrop.

blessed be

I really thought 2013 would be hard to top up but as it turns out, it is only the opening salvo.

Already 2014 is shaping up to be a badass year, even so much better than the previous.

In a few days, I would see L’Arc~en~Ciel live again. In their own turf Tokyo, Japan. Yes. I am finally going to Japan and I will see my favorite band perform in one of the grandest stadiums in the world. Twice.

(Perhaps even VAMPS? Please HYDE let me win that invite to #VAMPSLIVEINTOKYO!)

Fast forward to June and I will then see Alice Nine in Singapore. I even get to take a picture with them. 6 shots! I’m so giddy with excitement.

And the year is barely out if its first quarter.

THANK YOU THEE.

As always, watch out for my live reports!!!

NO MUSIC NO REASON

Music has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. High school was a breeze because of top40 hits. Then as I got older, my taste became, shall I say it, more refined. I survived all-nighters in college with my eyes on the computer and Rage Against the Machine blaring on my ear. In my college thesis, I almost included Radiohead, Nirvana and Silverchair on the acknowledgement page as they helped me get thru tons of research and re-writes.

And then I discovered jrock and as they say, my life has never been the same.

It all began with a mixtape.

My younger brother brought home a compilation of anime theme songs given to him by a classmate. I’m  a big fan of anime so he lent it to me. To be honest, I’ve never bothered with the theme songs before as I’m guilty of skipping the opening credits. But lo and behold, amidst the confetti of jpop fluff I discovered gems. That mixtape introduced me to the music of Siam Shade, Asian Kung-fu Generation, and of course, to the 1 of only 2 bands I would ever admit of being a fangirl,  L’Arc~en~Ciel (in case you’re wondering, D’espairsRay is the other one but we’ll get to that later).

L'Arc~en~Ciel
Have Laruku, will follow

I owe it to that mixtape for introducing me to jrock. But what really immersed me hook, line, down to the damning sinker is the online forum Ongaku Society. Becoming a novice fan of jrock when one is tens of thousands kilometers away from Japan is tough, especially when my friends give me a blank stare every time I gush about a new song I discovered. Just imagine then my joy upon finding out that there is a site dedicated to Filipino fans of Japanese music. In the presence of peers, my fascination for jrock became a full-blown commitment.

Sadly, Ongaku Society is no more. The site was down for the longest time only to resurface without its most vital component: the forums. My memories though of the time spent lurking on the site remain intact to this day. For the longest time, Ongaku Society has become my one and only resource for jrock. It sated my appetite for all things L’Arc~en~Ciel and introduced me to the likes of Alice Nine, the GazettE and most importantly, D’espairsRay. I remember that visits to the Alice Nine and the GazettE threads were always a source of pure amusement to me. The said threads were always updated with the latest pictures and adorned with comments like “<insert band member’s name here> – sama!!!” I also owe it to those threads for expanding my vocabulary to include “ikemen” and “smexy”. Good times indeed.

I never stood a chance. Jrock-related stuff is actually part of my budget now. I made my first purchase in 2007: HYDE’s first and last album as a solo artist: Roetngen and Faith. I bought it off Amazon US as the American version of both albums were much cheaper. Then I learned about the wonders of Oricon and so I opted to buy my stuff on YesAsia and later on, CDJapan.

my first jrock loot
topmost was the actual box that encased my first jrock cds

There’s only one thing left really, and I’m fervently anticipating the day I get to complete the full jrock experience: to watch at least one of my favorite bands live. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I find it quite ironic that despite the Philippines and Japan being on the same continent, performances by Japanese acts are close to nil in my country. And for some reason, every time these bands embark on the a “world” tour, Asian countries are left out. Nevertheless, I’ll have my chance soon and I’ll be sure to faithfully document it here on SOLILOQUY.

So that’s just about it, my history as a jrock fan. If you have wandered into this site and have read up to this point, chances are we share the same affliction. The question now is, how did yours started?

(note: post title is courtesy of girugamesh from the album NOW)

NUlogy: Farewell to the home of nu (new) rock

good-bye NU

I interrupt our jrock revelry to bid good-bye to the radio station that has helped mold my musical preference.

As I begin typing this, NU107 is 30 minutes away from playing its swan song. The home of new rock, the ONLY radio station in the Philippines to feature an all-rock music programming is finally shutting its doors after 23 glorious years.

Speculations are rife that the station will soon resurface with a new format, a new sound that will cater to more mainstream fare, in other words, pop music.

This is indeed a lamentable moment. And the weight of matter feels heavier as I listen to each radio jock whose voices had accompanied me through numerous up and downs say their final words.

The folks at peyups.com summed it right: it’s the end of the world as we know it. FM radio will never be the same again.

In saying that though, I can’t help but feel a little guilty. And maybe a bit hypocritical.

To be honest, I have not tuned in to NU in a long, long time. Or to be more precise, I have not listened to the radio in a long, long time. It’s not that I have sworn off music for good. On the contrary, music has become an even more vital part of my existence with the passing of the time. What has changed though is that whenever I feel the need to block out the world, I reach for, not the radio but for my mp3 player.

Gone were the days when I had to wait for Remote Control Weekend just so I can be assured that my favorite song will be playing. Now, if I’m in the mood for some Stone Temple Pilots or Pearl Jam, all I have to do is tap a few keys.

That experience is clearly lost on today’s young music fan, who in the age of iTunes, Bit Torrent, and iPods, is more likely to be doing their homework with an IM app in a window, while listening to mp3′s of their favorite band, and viewing the band’s Facebook page in a browser, all at the same time. With all this going on, who has the time to listen to the radio? – Jim Ayson of The Ayson Chronicles

My sentiments exactly. So while NU107’s decision to re-format came as a big shock, it is not entirely a surprise. Noble as their cause may be, a radio station is still bound by the rules of economics. As mentioned by broadcaster Mike Pedero: “Radio is a business and if for several years, you just keep on losing and pumping in money without returns, until when are you willing to do it?”

NU107, for a time, was the embodiment of the anti-popular. It wasn’t just another radio station playing alternative songs. NU107 was THE alternative. But by being exactly that, it has limited its listeners to all but a chosen few. So now in order to stay afloat, major changes has to be done.

Reality just sucks like that.

Still, it was a good run. Heck, it was a marvelous run. You didn’t let us down, NU. Rather, it was the other way around. So here I am remorseful and at the same time, thankful.

Thank you for bannering Pinoy rock. Thank you for Stairway to 7. Thank you for Against the Flow. Thank you for the In the Raw. Thank you for Remote Control Weekend. Thank you for the Rock Awards. But most importantly, thank you for rocking it out like no other motherfucker could.

on jrock/kpop

When jrock-dedicated website Tainted Reality announced that they will be hosting a kpop radio show, the response had been fiery. While there are some who are ok with the idea, many, particularly the fans of each musical “type”, were against ‘”mixing the 2 fandoms” (check out the animated discussion here). I myself is ambivalent towards the whole thing. I approach it with the same wariness I had when Animax (a cable channel in Asia that features anime and shows about Japanese pop culture) began broadcasting Korean dramas. It just seem strange. Then again, it is really nothing to be surprised of. The Korean wave is smashing shorelines and this, this is barely the crest of it.

credits to abetterday in omonatheydidnt (LiveJournal) 

First, a little lesson in history. This so called Korean wave or Hallyu began during the late 90s and it refers to the phenomenal increase in popularity of South Korean culture not just in Asia but stretching as far into the United States, the Middle East and some parts in Europe. Today, Hallyu is a billion dollar industry that has boosted South Korea’s income from film and television exports, merchandise and even tourism. Triggering the wave was the huge success abroad of Korean soap operas. A most often cited example is the massive following of Winter Sonata starring Choi Ji-woo and Bae Yong-jun. The show was said to set record TV ratings in Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Philippines. Though the interest has on Korean soap opera has yet to wane, Hallyu seems to fortify its influence now via another medium.

Cue in the sounds of kpop.

Whilst housewives fawn over their Yonsamas and Byonsamas, their teen-age daughters (and perhaps even sons) are gawking at the likes of Se7en, Super Junior and SHINee. In the Philippines, the adoration for these Korean boybands and their female counterparts is reaching fever-pitch, it’s practically insane. Tune in to any local radio station and chances are you’ll hear a kpop song blaring. Check out MYX (the Philippines’ answer to MTV) and an hour will not pass without one or two kpop music videos playing. Records bars plaster Wonder Girls and 2NE1 posters on their walls alongside Lady Gaga and the cast of Glee. They are even invading the live scene. Just a few weeks ago, Rain and UKiss had fans trooping over to the largest concert outdoor venue in Manila. Super Junior earlier conquered the largest concert indoor venue. I repeat, IT IS INSANE.

Japanese pop culture also has it share of fans in the Philippines but it was never this omnipresent. Jpop/rock appreciation, while not necessarily underground, remain clustered among a chosen few. Sadly, our numbers or perhaps our presence, is not enough to warrant an actual visit from our favorite Japanese acts. (I still find it ironic that I have more chances of seeing say, D’espairsrRay of L’Arc~en~Ciel live if I move into another continent even though the Philippines and Japan are just neighbors.)

Anyway, back to the “mixing of the 2 fandoms” brouhaha. Personally, I find it strange because jrock and kpop are two very different musical styles. The only thing they have in common, in my opinion, is that looks play a very pivotal role. But looking at it from a purely musical standpoint, the 2 is akin to apples and oranges. Yes, it is possible to like both but it is just mildly amusing how fans of dark, gothic, and hardcore sounding jrock (via its most prominent form visual kei) could also exhibit the same level of adoration for the bubbly, well synchronized (with matching choreography to boot) sound of kpop. It’s like a Marilyn Manson fan professing love to the Backstreet Boys – quite possible but a bit strange nonetheless. And isn’t it more peculiar that it’s jrock that is being pitted against kpop and not jpop?

In conclusion, I would like to stress that in my opinion there is absolutely nothing wrong with kpop crossing paths with jrock. Liking both is ok and being loyal to one is just as fine. To each its own. And if fans would remain steadfast in their chosen type of music, then there is no need to fear kpop eating into jrock. Most importantly, as an Asian myself this increasing interest on both jrock and kpop is really commendable. Hopefully, it will also pave the way for other Asian music acts to penetrate the international market. Afterall, isn’t music supposed to be universal?