In our fast-paced society, with technology and skyscrapers in mind, everything tends to become urbanized. Little do we realize that amidst the changes, our need for food remains constant and most of our food sources are still the same, livestock and produce. Though some things have changed minimally and some have not, the bigger question is with urbanization, where can we still get our food? Does it truly come with a price?

It seems we have been preparing for these changes all along. With economic development and industrialization inevitably happening, urban farming has been gaining popularity, addressing urban environmental management issues we currently face.

Danny Agliam is a game changer in Philippine agriculture. He was the champion on TOFARM, Search for Outstanding Farmers of the Philippines, for the Urban Farming category in 2014. He has been introducing Benguet to urban farming and the idea that limited space is not a hindrance in harvesting your own organic produce. Murphy Report had a chance to talk to him about his very own rooftop garden, urban farming, going organic, and aquaponics.
 


 

Kuwentuhan niyo naman po kami tungkol sa inyong trabaho.

May-ari po ako ng rooftop garden dito sa tabi ng City Market ng Baguio City. Ako po ay kawani ng Department of Agriculture in Cordillera. Naisipan kong gumawa ng ganito kasi gusto ko pong ipamahagi ang anumang natutunan ko sa pagtatrabaho ko sa gobyerno at mga trainings ko sa abroad. Gusto ko po ipamahagi sa mga may bahay dito na walang pagtaniman at hindi naniniwala na pwedeng magtanim sa kahit anong klaseng pataniman, kahit maliit lang na lupa pwede po dito sa Baguio City.

Paano po nagsimula ang inyong rooftop garden o ang paggamit ninyo sa konsepto ng urban farming?

Ang una po naming nailagay dito sa rooftop namin ay mga manok. Manok na makakaain at maiuulam. Kaso hindi namin pinatagal `yun kasi kapag bumabagyo, kawawa ang mga manok. Namamatay at hindi na makakain. So naisip naming gumawa ng greenhouse upang makapagtanim ng iba’t-iba klaseng gulay, upang makakain kami ng sariwa, masustansya at safe na gulay.

Kelan niyo po ito sinimulan?

`Yung greenhouse na ito, pinatayo namin sa kalagitnaan ng 2010.

Gaano po kalaki ang inyong rooftop garden?

6×8 meters lang.

Bakit niyo po naisipan na dito sa Benguet manatili at dito na rin gumawa ng rooftop garden?

Unang-una, ako po ay taga Tabuk City sa Kalinga. Nagaral ako dito sa Baguio pero dati pong farmer kami sa bayan. Noong una, hindi ko alam na mapapasok ako sa agrikultura. Napili ko din na dito na sa Baguio magtanim kasi dito na ko nakapangasawa at dito na kami namalagi. Tapos dahil nga madaming nagsasabi na hindi na safe ang pagkain, naisip na namin itong rooftop na pagtaniman upang meron kaming malinis at sari-saring pagkain para sa aming pamilya. Bukod pa diyan, alam naman natin na ang Benguet ay vegetable area.

 

Hindi madali kasi kailangan i-timing mo ang tamang panahon sa pagtatanim. Hindi po puwede na basta nandito ka lang, magtanim ka lang. Dapat mag crop rotation kami para hindi pare-parehas ang tinatanim namin. Hindi monocropping. Para sa minerals at vitamins ng lupa at yung mga insekto, kung meron man, hindi mabubuhay. Ganun po ang sistema dito.

Ano pong mga halaman ang nasa inyong garden or farm?

Ang aming tinatanim dito ay `yung mga tinatawag nating “highlands”. Ang highlands ay mga salads, mga lettuce, mustasa, strawberries, and assorted herbs. Meron din namang lowland vegetables na medyo mainit ang kailangang temperatura gaya ng sitaw, ampalaya, halo-halo po ang nandito sa amin.

Ano po ang naging karanasan at pasubok ninyo sa pagtatayo nito?

Naging mahirap po ang aking karanasan noon dahil I had to spend 3 years to perfect things on my rooftop garden. At mula noon, maraming dumadayo, maraming pumupunta dito na natuturuan ko. I have been sharing everything to them at madami din kaming natutunan.

Kamusta naman po ang pagtatanim at pagpapalaki ng mga halaman?

Hindi madali kasi kailangan i-timing mo ang tamang panahon sa pagtatanim. Hindi po puwede na basta nandito ka lang, magtanim ka lang. Dapat mag crop rotation kami para hindi pare-parehas ang tinatanim namin. Hindi monocropping. Para sa minerals at vitamins ng lupa at yung mga insekto, kung meron man, hindi mabubuhay. Ganun po ang sistema dito.

Nasabi niyo po na dati na mga manok ang inaalagan ninyo dito. Ngayon po, bukod sa pananim, meron pa po ba kayong ibang inaalagaan dito?

Nagpatayo ako ng mini fish pond at saka itong aquaponics. Para madagdagan itong nasa greenhouse namin  na pwedeng magalaga, integrated dito sa loob ng greenhouse at makikita ng mga tao namin. At sa aking pananaliksik tungkol dito, lumaban kami ulit ng agricultural innovator, at doon nabigyan kami ng special citation sa aming ginagawa sa agrikultura. Hanggang ngayon  dumadami pa ang naniniwala na kahit walang lupang malaki ay pwedeng magtanim ng gulay para sa pamilya.

Ano po yung mga isda na nandito at ano po ang pakinabang ng mga halaman sa kanila?

`Yan `yung red tilapia. `Yung dumi niya, iaakyat doon, at siya ang magdidilig sa mga halaman. Idedeliver ng water ang dumi ng isda. It will serve na ito ang fertilizer niya. Tapos ang madedrain ay ibabalik sa may fish pond `yun din ang gagawa sa pagkain ng mga isda. 

Kayo po ay miyembro ng La Trinidad Organic Practitioners (LaTOP). Ano po ang kahalagahan nito? 

We have to prove ourselves in organic gardening. Kasi po madami kaming nakikitang yung gumagamit ng sobrang pestisidyo na ikakasira ng kalusugan ng tao. Kaya kami po ay sertipikado na organic farmers.

 

Ano po ba ang kailangan para sa mga nagnanais na tahakin ang Urban Farming at gustong gumawa ng katulad ng inyong rooftop garden?

Pagmamahal lang ang kailangan diyan kasi kung ang intensyon mo lang ay masabi lang na may tanim ka at papabayaan mo na, hindi `yan puwede. Ang pag-urban gardening ko, paggising ko ng umaga, dito na ko magkakape, tinitingnan ko ang mga tanim ko. May music para pampaganda rin. Tapos paguwi ko ng hapon, didiretso lang din ako dito. Kung halimbawa wala ako dito, natutunan na ng mga anak at asawa ko na sila na rin magalaga sa pananim namin. `Yung passion mo talaga na pagtatanim, dagdagaan mo ng pagmamahal.  marker

CREDITS

Text- Dane Raymundo

Photography – M Espeña

 



 

Jackie Vizcocho opened Vizco’s Restaurant and Cake Shop in 2004 with just a one-page menu. Her first customers were mostly family and friends who supported her venture. She remembers how, on the early years of the business, her father always occupied a table, having coffee or inviting his friends to have meals with him, hoping for the restaurant to gain more popularity. Fast forward to 2017, Vizco’s now has a smorgasbord of dishes and pastries that will no longer fit one page. It has become a one-stop restaurant for all your daily cravings! From rice meals, pasta, salads, pizza to desserts, they have it! The restaurant’s popularity has soared to new heights, becoming a household name in Benguet.

Having been born and raised in Baguio, Jackie strongly advocated to include the local produce in their menu. True enough, in whatever you order, you are guaranteed to have the freshest vegetables and fruits in them.

Vizco’s Restaurant and Cake Shop is a dream gastronomic destination. No one goes to Baguio without knowing Vizco’s or having a taste of their signature, luscious (to die for) Strawberry Shortcake. We can only hope that they bring it to Manila (and other parts of the country) soon!marker

CREDITS

Interview- Jenette Vizcocho and Dane Raymundo

Video- M Espeña & Cris Legaspi

 



 

Jefferson Laruan, both farmer and preacher, owns an organic farm at Puguis, La Trinidad. He has said that either profession serves to add to the other, and from such harmony thrives his aptly named Lily of the Valley, where kale, swiss chard, strawberries, broccoli, snap peas and the like grow unadulterated, and pigs, rabbits, and chickens grow free from supplements and hormones.  His aim is to provide Benguet and beyond affordable and healthy organic produce, as well as educate fellow-farmers to practice responsible and eco-friendly farming.  Within Lily of the Valley is their homestay, a cafe, as well as a small spot for camping, where visitors can detox, hold private group activities, take tours, or help along with the harvest.

When asked why name his farm Lily of the Valley, Mr. Laruan only says because of its topography and its reference to the bible. In the Song of Solomon, the lily of the valley is often mentioned, perhaps because of its ability to grow and bear fruit in all conditions, perhaps because of its purity, perhaps because of its ability to heal, and given all these qualities, perhaps also its humility.marker

CREDITS

Interview- Jenette Vizcocho and Dane Raymundo

Video- M Espeña & Cris Legaspi

 



 

Ben-Hur Villanueva is a sculptor who is not native to Baguio but has made his studio and home there. He says something about the place that drew him there, and continues to nourish the passion he has for his life’s work.  His most recognized sculptures can be viewed at Bonifacioo Global City, Caleruega, and Baguio City, but his workshop Arko ni Apo can best showcase the evolution of his sensibilities, from small intricate pieces, to paintings, to life-sized statues of dancers.   His work is drawn exactly toward that, stills from life that seem graceful and fluid even though they are hewn from brass, metal, or wood. An artist, teacher, culture-buff, and family-man, he is disciplined in all he does, working slowly and methodically, adding bit by bit, hoping to serve people by remaining true to himself.marker

CREDITS

Interview- Jenette Vizcocho and Dane Raymundo

Video- M Espeña & Cris Legaspi

 



 

Whether you travel up north for the climate, the festivals, the pine trees, the local eats tucked away in small corners, the art scene, the fruits and vegetables, or because a soap opera has made parts of it famous, Baguio and Benguet’s capital La Trinidad have something in store for you. A shifting balance between the new and the old, the same cities that encourage hikes up their untouched valleys and mountains, will also showcase houses painted into a mural; or preserve  structures from the early 1900s, but tear down and sprout up buildings in the blink of an eye; where people still carry on with traditional dress and dances, but also come equipped with smart phones and the latest gadgets.  Baguio will always change at your every return, but it still serves up your reliable favorites like Burnham Lake and Mines View, strawberry and ube jam, the Cathedral and Session Road, retaining its nostalgia and familiarity as you explore and take in the new.marker

CREDITS

Interview- Jenette Vizcocho and Dane Raymundo

Video- M Espeña & Cris Legaspi

Flirt is a party game that presents enough hugot and humor for a memorable time. The player succeeds by “courting” other players for their hearts. The first one to capture three hearts of the same pattern wins.

Each player must wield Court Cards to win the battle of love. Court Cards showcase humorous pick-up lines and comebacks, which could either spark or burn the feelings. Flirting in this game is a funny risk with a competitive gameplay.

“[The game is] irreverent, fun, and teasing.” Ms. Ria Lu, the creator of the Flirt, said in an interview. “It pokes fun at how we do relationships, and it’s a game that requires you to commit to saying the lines for it to turn out funny.”
 

Flirt Cards for Murphy Report

Aside from its humorous approach to flirting, another unique feature of the game is its Character Cards. Each player starts the game as a character whose relationship skills are limited based on how rich, intelligent, or charming they are. As the game progresses, the player may acquire power up cards. When they level up, they can boost their capacity to deliver more daring lines.

“The idea really just popped up one day,” Ms. Ria Lu said. “I wanted to put people in situations that didn’t feel very safe, but funny.”

The game has a way with relating to real life hugot as well. To avoid losing, players must never give all of their hearts away, but to have fun, some hearts must surrender in the name of love.

“Heartbreak always has an effect on future relationships. And so guarding one’s heart is always necessary.” Ms. Ria Lu said. “[But ] it’s also not good to go the extreme and not give in to anyone at all too. In the game, if you don’t yield, the game will not progress.”
 

Flirt Cards for Murphy Report

The game has a way with relating to real life hugot as well. To avoid losing, players must never give all of their hearts away, but to have fun, some hearts must surrender in the name of love.

The game proves to be entertaining when players commit to saying the lines with impact. They could mutter it in a deadpan manner. They could declare it in a dramatic way. Flirt offers the chance to “win” a heart without fear of falling flat.

Perhaps winning hearts in real life is the same way. “Just like in the game, just say it.” Ms. Ria Lu  said, “Sometimes people play it safe all the time that they don’t say anything.”               

The game is ideal for anyone wanting to have a little fun with friends, although it may still not be the best guide for real-life relationship goals. As Ms. Ria Lu admitted, all the pick-up lines are still too cheesy to use, and are best said for humor than for collecting actual hearts.

 

Flirt is just one of the games created by Ms. Ria Lu and her company, Komikasi Games and Entertainment. The company is a Philippine-based creative business that has sold other best-selling card games and apps, while supporting the comic and literary scene in the country. Creating Flirt was an effort made with help from friends who inspired the witty and comical lines. Flirt can be purchased from National Bookstore, PowerBooks, and Fully Booked. It can also be purchased online at www.flirt.komikasi.com. marker

CREDITS

Text- Nicole Gusto

Photography – M Espeña

Issa Rodriguez is only 22 and has just launched her EP.  To celebrate the end of her bar tour, we caught up with her at Backyard Kitchen and Brew at The Grove Rockwell.  Issa is seemingly quiet and reserved while waiting for her set, off to one corner, her face barely discernible through long hair and black frames.  But onstage, she surprises with the depth, variation, and complexity of her vocal range, her capacity to draw the audience in with and through her stories, and the different themes and genres she is capable of pulling off.  She relates that her songs are borne from real life experience, and she is brave enough to recount this to her listeners, how one is about battling depression, or about the struggles of the heart.  She says that as a performer, she feels the need to bare herself and become vulnerable, because everyone in the audience is a friend, and if she can inspire or even help one through music, she has done her job.   A huge fan of Ebe Dancel, Up Dharma Down, Jason Mraz, Allen Stone, and Tori Kelly, she has taken their influence and turned them into her own.  And as her EP title suggests, she is only just begun.

 

How did your journey into making music begin?

I used to write poems back in grade school but my songwriting started in Grade 4 when our adviser asked us to perform a song for an outreach program. I couldn’t find a song that would fit the message that I wanted to send so I made my own.

What were the challenges that came up into making and releasing your EP?

It was definitely hard to filter the songs that would fit the EP. Since it’s my first release, I wanted to include the songs that would introduce me as a musician and as a songwriter. It was also hard to fix the schedules of all recordings, shoots and the meetings since I’m also a graduating student at MINT College. And of course, all the doubts and insecurities held me back for a while but then I realized​ that if I keep pushing it back, I’ll never be able to release anything because in reality, I’ll never be ready.

 

Describe your audience.

Once in our music marketing class, our professor, Sir Mony Romana, asked me what my followers are like. I told him that I noticed how they’re more of listeners- they focus on the music, the lyrics and the message of the songs. I remember Sir Mony’s response: “maybe your followers are just like you.”

 

What do you love about what you do?

Songwriting is an escape and an outlet for me. Whenever I go through something, I pour out my emotions into the songs I write. Performing these songs is like baring yourself to strangers. I love how I can be so vulnerable in front of people I don’t know and I love knowing that I can find comfort in the presence of unfamiliar faces. I love inspiring people and it’s a different kind of joy whenever I hear people singing my songs with me.

 

What song is the most memorable to you and why?

They all hold a special place in my heart. I don’t really have favorites, but I guess in terms of how the song makes me feel, I’d say Stuck is the most memorable because it’s the most personal song in the EP- it’s about my depression and how I fight to get through it. I still have those moments and this song has been my anthem because of how I used contradicting statements like ‘despite the uncertainty, I’m certain’- this just shows that everything is temporary- pain is not an exception.

 

 

Issa Rodriguez for Murphy Report

I love how I can be so vulnerable in front of people I don’t know and I love knowing that I can find comfort in the presence of unfamiliar faces.

Describe your writing and musical process.

I usually start with the concept and storyline of the song. I want to make sure that the message I want to relay is clear, then I work on the lyrics along with the melody. Then I revise as much as I can until I feel like the song is ready.

 

Who are your influences and if you could choose any artist to collaborate with- living or dead, who would it be?

I’m a big fan of Sir Ebe Dancel, Up Dharma Down, Yosha, and Sir Jungee’s songwriting. If I could collaborate with them… Asskfjfhldla. Kinikilig na ako just thinking about it. Haha!

 

Describe yourself in three words.

Genuine. Passionate. Awkward?

 

Where do you see your music going in the next 5 years?

In 5 years, I’d still be writing songs and performing. Hopefully, I could reach more people with my songs in the next 5 years. I would want to release an all-original full-length album someday as well.

 

Would you describe your music as Hugot music?

I think all music is hugot music. My songs are honest and genuine, so yeah, I would consider it as “hugot music.”

 

What is “hugot” for you?

Anything that’s genuine and heartfelt is “hugot” for me. As long as a work of art comes from an experience or an emotion that’s real– whether it’s happiness, anger, heartbreak or longing, then it is hugot.marker

CREDITS

Interview & Text – Jenette Vizcocho
Photography – Cris Legaspi

food is love. Love is food. These two words go together too well, but real-life couple and business partners, Erik Galvez and Joelle Yuvienco, brought the two even closer, literally and figuratively. Say hello to BeefX, a home to good burgers and witty foogot (Food Hugot).

BeefX was formerly known as “Big B Burgers”. The name change is timely as it signifies a rebirth, more appropriately highlighting the core of what Erik and Joelle are sharing with us, burgers with patties made from 50% beef and 50% of another ingredient (the X).  This means being given the freedom to choose among 5 different patties: beef X spam, beef X longganisa, beef X bacon, beef X sisig, and beef X sausage and 3 different buns: regular, waffle and pizza, to sate your daily gastronomic cravings. When asked about the new name, Erik proved why BeefX is the ultimate foogot restaurant, “Hindi na kami `yung big boyfriend pero kami naman ang ex na babalik-balikan.”

It all began when Erik and Joelle were still studying in the University of the Philippines-Diliman (UP-Diliman). A year after they became a couple in 2012, they found themselves courageously jumping into selling food, delivering food to different tambayans and manning their own food stall within the university, juggling their business in between classes. What was initially done lightly to finance their dates, “Para meron kaming pang-date”, Joelle humorously shared, became something serious. They decided to venture into putting up their own restaurant, but not without knowing what specific food to sell. At that time, the hype was on cupcakes and pastries, but none of them knew how to bake, so they thought of selling something they knew better, and these were burgers. One of the challenges they faced was how to stand out in the food industry. Joelle’s mom suggested that they try mixing beef with bacon. Adhering to her advice, they realized what they were looking for. They finally found their niche. From there, they established their menu, adding other patties into it, making it BEEFed up. Erik made his own special sauce that adds flavor to their burgers, an ingredient that also sets them apart from other burger joints. After things were put into place, they opened their first branch in Maginhawa in 2014, stressing that they couldn’t be more thankful to their friends because they were their first supporters, not letting them down each time Joelle calls them and says, “Guys, try ninyo niluto ni Erik”. Eventually their family and friends also established linkages for them and the business grew.

 

BeefX for Murphy Report

BeefX was formerly known as “Big B Burgers”. The name change is timely as it signifies a rebirth, more appropriately highlighting the core of what Erik and Joelle are sharing with us, burgers with patties made from 50% beef and 50% of another ingredient (the X).  This means being given the freedom to choose among 5 different patties: beef X spam, beef X longganisa, beef X bacon, beef X sisig, and beef X sausage.

Something impossible to miss out on BeefX is their foogot. It is so eye-catching and attention grabbing that even the hugot movie of Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla, “Can’t Help Falling In Love”, shown last April, 2017, noticed it and included the restaurant as one of the movie’s locations.  Foogot is a combination of food and hugot. It’s that playful use of words and tagos sa puso lines you associate with food, all connecting them to hardships and real-life experiences. “We really didn’t want to brand ourselves as a foogot burger place, but then eventually the customers were the ones who called us that, maybe because of the signs and how the staff interacted with them, the “burger of promises”, and we owned it in some ways.”, explained Joelle. The history of their foogot dates back to when they were just starting. While managing their university stall, they found themselves injecting them every so often. Before they knew how hard it was to eat in the stalls, so they would give their customers gloves and say, “O, because we glove you, guys”. It was eventually carried over to their first branch, mostly because people had a lot of questions and they wanted to explain it through funny and witty signs, so that while they wait for their burgers, they can read them. The idea of having unique signages paid off as people started talking about them, and posting their foogot signages on social media. A simple note on self-service can be tied with deeper emotions by saying, “Dahil minsan kailangan mo pagsilbihan ang sarili muna: Self-service” or informing the customer that they can give tips for the waiters can be done by putting a jar with a “Tip, tip, hooray!” sign. Joelle believes that the whole hugot culture is strong because people identify with emotions, and they were just at the right time to ride on it.

 

Even their menus have foogot, based from what Erik and Joelle came up with while playfully throwing lines at each other or by rephrasing some lines from their friends. They have a bestseller called “Poutine ng ina” which can be in a regular size “mo” or upgraded to “more”, “Poutine ng ina mo” or “Poutine ng ina more”. Basically, it is poutine, french fries with cheese and gravy, but did you see what they did there? They also have a “PG meal” for those looking for more affordable meals, coined from the Filipino PG (patay gutom) term when you can eat anything and everything on a budget. They also have the “Awesomesauce” which are names of condiments used as puns in songs, “I’d ketchup grenade for you” or “Mustard been love, but it’s over now”. They also play with their own name such as using the “X” for some of their features “XXXtra Cheese” means additional cheese while “Burger staX” is additional patties. Even a choice in drinks gives certain hugot. Drinks can be chosen from the “pink potion with feelings”, “blue potion with emotion” and “mangga gayuma” (mango flavor). Each drink is served with a “performance”, and by “performance”, we’ll let you find this one out for yourselves.

Being business partners and a real-life couple is probably one of the ultimate, as millennials put it, #relationshipgoals, but Erik and Joelle seem to agree that mixing business with an intimate relationship is not one of the best ideas. Though there’s a tinge of discouragement, they explained that it is something they won’t advice for new couples to venture into right away, or maybe not at all. They cited their own experiences as an example. Early into the business, they would have some disagreements as they had different perspectives on the business side. Joelle had a “slowly but surely” attitude while Erik believed in “high-risk, high reward”. But the differences surely brought out something positive. They both shared how they have learned to compromise. Basically, the essence of relationships, may it be about love or business. Though compromise in the business aspect meant bending and giving in based on calculated risks, Joelle still described its effects on their relationship as “Pampatibay. We had to overcome a lot. We had to separate boyfriend-girlfriend from work, and understand each other.”

Interestingly, some of their inspiration came from “drunken thoughts” or those thoughts you have either while you’re inebriated or when you just got back to being sober.  Their waffle burger used to be called “Waffle Hangovurger” because of Erik’s idea, “Ano bang masarap kainin pagkatapos uminom at masakit ang ulo mo?”
 

When asked about challenges, Joelle and Erik smiled, as if to say there have been a lot, but what’s important was how they overcame them. They honestly shared that they have learned many life lessons, some were easily learned and some, unfortunately, were not.  “I’m happy with what we did, but I hope we could’ve minimized our learning experiences”, Joelle explained. “But it’s also good to make mistakes. It hurts, but how else will you learn and how else will it stick to you? Fail hard and rise fast,” she added.marker

CREDITS

Text- Dane Raymundo

Photography – M Espeña

Ina Abuan started off like any other big fan of Sugarfree, but when she was invited to co-author a musical based on their songs, she jumped at the chance.  The end product is Sa Wakas, proving so popular that it had another run earlier this year.

Ina is a Literature professor.  Her writing genre is actually poetry.  She used to write in English, but for a long while, wrote poetry in Filipino. With no background in theater save for some scene and dialogue writing from a Drama class during her MA years, she was surprised at just how many people and how big of a collaboration staging a musical entailed.  The biggest obstacle she faced during the process of writing was the fear of expectations, especially from the writers who knew of her previous work.  Over the course of several months, Ina and her co-writer Andrei Pamintuan would meet up after work and would hammer out the lines and scenarios, editing as they moved along.
 

Inna Abuan for Murphy Report

The albums Sa Wakas and Dramachine were burned into her brain to the point where she did not even need to listen to them closely to identify which songs and which lines would work for what scene.  It was a fun excuse, however, to dredge up the songs that revived old memories.

 
Choosing the songs, for her, was the easiest part.  This was what she refers to as her college soundtrack.  The process, she described, was like going through the songs describing her teenage self.  The albums Sa Wakas and Dramachine were burned into her brain to the point where she did not even need to listen to them closely to identify which songs and which lines would work for what scene.  It was a fun excuse, however, to dredge up the songs that revived old memories.  Ebe Dancel, Sugarfree’s then-lead singer, would sit in during rehearsals whenever he could.  The opportunity to work alongside the man who penned the lyrics she lived through made her work that much more nerve-wracking and exciting.  She remembers how she used to go to their gigs, how she never got the nerve up to have a conversation with him, the first time they finally spoke to each other years after as  collaborators during the production process, the times she would sneak stolen shots of him using her phone camera, when they became Facebook friends.  She recalls how in one scene, they were supposed to cut to a video of him participating in a Skype chat to the song Dear Kuya. He bowed out, and suggested including new material instead, writing Bawat Daan specifically for the play.

Sa Wakas showcases the lives of Topper and Gabbi and Lexi, and the dissolution of a long-term relationship.  The musical became such a hit, and she assumes it is because viewers, whether Sugarfree fans or not,  were curious as to how the songs lent their weight in the unfolding of the story.   This is not just any old love triangle where one serves as the irredeemable third party.  It was staged where events are non-linear, beginning at the ending, a break-up, the hows and whys gradually unfolding.  Ina was at every showing of the musical during its first run in 2013.  She described the feeling of watching the staged production as similar to having a love letter she had written to her favorite band invite everyone else touched by their music to resonate with it.  The excitement and pride was there, but the fear was always there, too.  She questioned, does the story provide more than just entertainment? Does it move people?  Does it cause them to process and think about it long after the curtains close?

Ina recalls instances where after the show, she would be at a nearby cafe and overhear groups of people unknowingly discuss and examine the play and the nuances of human relationships within the writer’s earshot.  She knows it’s hard to avoid having people think it is art imitating life, how they assume Ina is A, so-and-so is B, and therefore whatshisname is definitely C.  She knows the situation may seem so familiar that viewers who know her personally cannot help but read into the text, and she allows their interpretations and misinterpretations as all valid, but she also maintains that by turning a story of life into art, the whole situation is elevated.

 

Inna Abuan for Murphy Report

She knows the situation may seem so familiar that viewers who know her personally cannot help but read into the text, and she allows their interpretations and misinterpretations as all valid, but she also maintains that by turning a story of life into art, the whole situation is elevated.

The excitement and frenzy that was Sa Wakas when it first opened in 2013 is something Ina can easily call to mind .  Four years later, she is faced with the realization that the musical and its ways of being staged can move on apart from her, even reviving and reinventing itself without her.  She muses she is okay with how her work- an organism alive and separate from her- can change and grow and be interpreted in many different ways.  She accepts that art is like that, after all.  She is now, however, wary of the business side of writing and producing for theater.  When asked if she thinks she would ever co-create another musical or play, she is open to doing so, depending on what project it is and how it fits with her sensibilities.  Once upon an almost, it could even have been a play based on the music of the Eraserheads.  But that’s another story.

Ina is still teaching, and she’s on her way to earning her PhD.   She hopes to write a collection of poetry, unsure if it will be in Filipino or English, but hopeful that whatever she comes up with, it is reflective of her new outlook in art and life. She still believes that drama and complexity can be put up on stage, but after years of studying, writing, teaching, living in and for the arts, she has decided she wants to go through life as though it is a poem, meaningful and alive, but now approached with care and restraint.marker

CREDITS

Text- Jenette Vizcocho

Photography – M Espeña

We Filipinos are very good with humor.  We all have a dad, an uncle, a friend, if we’re very lucky, ourselves to thank for all the cringe-inducing corny jokes that come our way.  Humor is present in every facet of our lives, in conversations with friends, during inuman sessions, and as a breather during heavier situations such as personal drama, breakups, death and destruction, calamities, the ever turbulent political conditions.  With the birth of the digital age, all of the sudden we Pinoys had access to the whole world.  It is no happy accident that Filipinos spend the most time online, it seems Memes, hashtags, and every social media site has been created for our brand of entertainment.  Enter Linya-Linya.

Now when you interview Ali and Panch and you have known them for a while, if you yourself have a penchant for humor, the atmosphere is impossible to be anything but light.  You find yourself throwing your hat into the ring in the running for Linya-Linya’s Top Punformer.  I groan as I write this.  But then I have to admit that what they have done with their business is no small feat.  With over 200,000 followers on Facebook and 40,000+ on Instagram, their staying power is kept alive with each like, with the click of the Share button, and with every hashtag they have made popular.

Ali and Panch have known each other since college.  Ali is the funny guy who always gets into trouble, Panch is the more reserved artist. They cannot stress enough that I should include how handsome they are, so much so it is almost painful to stare for too long.  Looking at their success now you would never think that they once doubted their talents, but what is great about these two men is that they looked at their insecurities in the face and decided it was funny enough to share with the country.  It was 2012 and they were feeling the burnout of their day jobs.  Ali had the habit of saving his jokes on his phone, once in a while Panch would render it on paper and it started circulating online, at first amongst friends, inevitably becoming viral.  What started off as puns formed a massive pun club.  Soon Yabang Pinoy, a youth group that aims to promote Pinoy Pride, took notice and offered to produce a few shirts for Linya-Linya to sell in their bazaars, and they have grown bigger and bigger since.  Yuppies, mothers, millennials, couples, boss and employee alike can be seen walking around with the words DAMNDAMIN, or “Pahingi ng Pahinga” emblazoned on their chests.

The actual evolution of their brainchild speaks of the Filipino need to extend a story, of our love for wordplay and their nuances in meaning and humor.  Initially called Linya – Mga Guhit at Sabi Sabi, it naturally evolved to Linya-Linya through word of mouth and feedback from those who enjoyed their jokes.  People would come up to them and say, “Good job sa mga linya linya niyo!”  In a reflection of just how quick their wit is, Ali explains Linya-Linya could also mean the differences in their professional lives with himself as writer and Panch as illustrator, or can even be taken literally to read between the lines: one-liners drawn over the lines of a ruled notebook.

 

Linya Linya for Murphy Report

Looking at their success now you would never think that they once doubted their talents, but what is great about these two men is that they looked at their insecurities in the face and decided it was funny enough to share with the country. 

 
They didn’t think that what they did as a means to relieve the stress from their serious jobs would one day actually become the job they would take seriously.  Ali thinks it’s because the lines they come up with are set in Filipino experiences: relationships, family, current events, movies, chismis, everyday stories and interactions.  He points out that we Filipinos love hugot because we are very emotional people.  We find humorous ways to cope with what we feel, and because we do that, we create a ripple effect of positive vibes.  And aren’t we just that?  Our country’s slogan is “More Fun In The Philippines”.  We are the same people who regularly survive typhoons and are then photographed swimming, jetskiing, and somersaulting into the huge flood pools left in the storm’s wake.  We address the government and politics by sharing memes or brandishing placards that both critique and ridicule the issues we protest.  Yes, we Pinoys are very good with humor.

 

 

Where Linya-Linya took it a step further is by actually building an online culture around it.  In 2015, they were joined by Jim Bacarro and Gab Perez, whom they admit complemented their creative side with their business acumen.  They have since opened up physical stores all around Manila, and recently in Naga.  They have shot videos showcasing their merchandise, and it has gained the same popularity, their one-liners taken to the three-dimensional space, yet still retaining the intended humor and freshness.  Ali mentions the word kapit, suggesting it’s what comes after hugot.  They have done just that, they have tickled our funny bones and have held our interest by making us part of the pop culture conversation.  Sure they’re selling products, their shirts have grown into mugs, notebooks, tote bags, postcards, and stickers, but we buy them because we can relate to their message.

They look back at their first Facebook post when they decided to begin Linya-Linya back in 2012, and they shake their head at the simplicity and complexity of what they shared: line drawings of a set of stairs, at the foot of the steps the words “Magsimulang magsimula”. marker

CREDITS

Interview & Text – Jenette Vizcocho
Photography – Cris Legaspi

For over a decade, Ebe Dancel was known as part of Sugarfree.  The past six years saw him venturing on a solo career, and in that amount of time, he has built a strong following, some fans of his previous band, some drawn to his new releases.  The voice and decidedly more restrained lyrics, however, are still unmistakably his.  He can often be seen doing the bar route, with some larger performances such as fairs and concerts peppering the more intimate gatherings.  Attending one of his gigs at Conspiracy Bar is like going to a friend’s birthday party, the grounds are overcrowded with people standing or sitting shoulder-to-shoulder.  The atmosphere is tinged with familiarity, everyone seeming to know everyone else.  There is a silence as each song is played, where everyone sings along, but no one voice overpowers that of Ebe’s.  There will be sporadic bursts of laughter and conversation, but just like the songs that serve as background music to the movies his work perfectly complements, they simply add character to his music.  In this interview, Ebe talks about his career and where he wants his music to take him next, with all roads always leading to love.

 

What stories inspire your songwriting?

Sometime I hear a word I really like and the idea is stuck in my head for a few days. Love and compassion always inspire me to write. Most of my songs are autobiographical. In my 40 years in this crazy planet, I’ve experienced love, loss, pain, and hope. I try to document everything, so that someday when I have kids, I can explain myself through music. I also enjoy observing more than talking. There are stories unfolding around you every day. All you have to do is shut up and just listen. Sometimes, the most interesting stories are the ones you stumble upon accidentally and you just happen to be there to witness everything.

 

 

Ebe Dancel for Murphy Report

Love and compassion always inspire me to write. Most of my songs are autobiographical. In my 40 years in this crazy planet, I’ve experienced love, loss, pain, and hope. I try to document everything, so that someday when I have kids, I can explain myself through music. I also enjoy observing more than talking. There are stories unfolding around you every day.

 
How does it feel to see your songs staged in Sa Wakas? 

When I saw it, I kept saying, “did I really write all of these songs?” I’m just a guy who was happy to write songs in my bedroom. For them to come this far still amazes me. Also, people asking me for tickets, I do not, I repeat, I DO NOT own the show. I simply said yes to them borrowing my songs.

I believe the greatest compliment a musician can ever receive is when people take your songs and make them their own. To the people behind Sa Wakas, thank you for making your versions better than mine.

Watching the musical (I haven’t seen it in its entirety because there are always gigs and my management has to drag me to the show in the middle of the play) also brought me back to the good old days. I had so much fun writing all those songs and playing them in front of my countrymen. It’s nice to be reminded of my history. I’d be nowhere near where I am now without Sugarfree and all those fans who cheered us on through the years.

 

Your songs are very relatable. Why do you think they have stood the test of time?

I guess it’s because I’m just an ordinary guy with ordinary life experiences. I don’t write so people can relate to my songs. I do it because I want to capture a moment and put it into words and music. It’s really like talking to myself, which I do so often that people think I’m crazy. And maybe people go through the same experiences and say, “ay oo dinaanan ko din yan. Shet ka, Ebe.” As to why they stand the test of time, I have no answer to that. I am truly grateful, though. 20 years from now, I don’t care if people forget my name, my face. What matters is that they keep the songs close to their hearts.

 

Among the songs you have made, which one is most memorable to you and why?

There are a few.  Hangover, where I try to explain the connection between love and addiction. I believe falling in love is easy. Staying on course is the challenging part. I think that in order for the fire to keep burning, there must always be a sense of urgency, an imaginary drug you need to take to stay on track. If you can’t love passionately on a daily basis, then why love at all?

Bawat Daan, because I honestly thought I was done making hits. Yet it has found its way into the hearts of a lot of Pinoys. It also speaks of my journey, that no matter how many times I try to quit music, God always leads me back to music. It is my only path, I know that now.

Lakambini, an ode to Andres Bonifacio’s love for his wife Oryang.  It is a promise of love in this lifetime and the next. It is a sense of hope that when darkness overcomes us, there is nothing to fear because we are each other’s light.

 

Ebe Dancel for Murphy Report

I think I’m more careful now when I choose the words and message I try to convey. I’m a lot older, and my perspective of the world has changed. I try to write songs about hope and compassion. I think the world needs a lot of it right now, given the political landscape we find ourselves in, and I’m not just talking about the Philippines.

How has your own music changed through the years?

I think I’m more careful now when I choose the words and message I try to convey. I’m a lot older, and my perspective of the world has changed. I try to write songs about hope and compassion. I think the world needs a lot of it right now, given the political landscape we find ourselves in, and I’m not just talking about the Philippines.

 

We are writing an issue on “Humor and Hugot”. Why do you think hugot has become a big thing here in the Philippines?

First of all, I wish people would stop using the word hugot. It’s such a beautiful word and I feel that sometimes, it has been reduced to an expression, a punchline. That being said, Pinoys are suckers for love. It’s a good thing. We like celebrating the idea of love, also another good thing.

 

Would you describe your songs as hugot? How do you define hugot?

My songs are my own. They are photographs in words and music. I’d rather not box them into rock or pop or hugot (which isn’t a genre, by the way). Now, hugot is the act of digging deep, right? “Bat ganyan ka magsalita? San mo hinugot yan?” But people who know me well will tell you that I write the way I speak during normal conversations.

 

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Probinsyanong Musikerong Pilipino.marker

CREDITS

Text- Jenette Vizcocho

Photography – M Espeña

They say humor is the new sexy. Well, we might have just met one of the sexiest men on earth! Not only does he have an excellent sense of humor, but Rex Navarrete has turned it into a career for over 3 decades.

Unknown to many, Rex was a counselor before becoming a full-time stand-up comic, but he values his learnings from his first profession, as it taught him necessary lessons in life and in stand-up comedy: listening, and how great comedy comes from a really uncomfortable, dark place.

Early into his career of sharing laughter, he has always been distinct, showing his ethnicity and embracing his Filipino roots right from the start. He was one of the very few comics who proudly says he is Pinoy, his material is definitely Pinoy, and that he will never stop being a Pinoy.

Murphy Report had a rare opportunity to talk to this amazing stand-up comic on one of his visits to the country. Dressed in simple clothes and definitely on time, making his voice animated occasionally and inserting witty remarks here and there, he talks about what makes him funny, his identity as a stand-up comic and the road to becoming skilled at it. He has remarkable honesty on how he describes life and the reality of it. He also shares with us the evolution of stand-up comedy in the Philippines and the irony of a profession where you interact with a crowd, but have to spend a lot of alone time.

After over 30 years of making people laugh, 4 CDs, 3 DVDs, and hundreds of shows, there’s no stopping this stand-up comic in spreading happiness, and teaching the younger generations that funny is sexy and witty, too.

My first question is, sir, why are you so funny?

I’m not that funny!

Yes you are!

I’m funny enough. I think I’m funny to a specific kind of people. Either you find your audience or your audience finds you.

Since we’re already discussing about the type of audience. Has it always been your style to be geared more towards the Filipino audience?

I write from what I know. And that’s how Pinoys think. Who we are as a people and where we are all over the world, how people perceive us, and how we perceive ourselves, that’s always been my base ground audience. The people that I write for are me, us. I mean, if you want to write for everyone else, well, that for me cuts in half what I’m doing. And I don’t want to. I really don’t need to.

Have you performed to other audiences aside from the Filipinos?

Oh, yeah. Hundreds of times.

What was their reception like?

Not bad. You know what? You go in there going, “Okay. At least there are some Pinoys here who brought their friends and hopefully, their friends have open minds about the material and the performance. And usually it works out!

Can you say that Pinoy humor is universal? What makes us stand-out?

You can’t always be universal. There’s some Pinoy humor specifically for a Pinoy ear. Forget even trying to translate it for everyone because you just want to keep it to yourself. Why show it? That’s just for us!

 

Rex Navarette for Murphy Report

You know, people say, “I have to make sure my material reaches a wide demographic of people. I want to see the numbers.” What? What is wrong with you? Then you’re not an artist. You’re a sellout.

What are “real Rex moments”?

Just all that. Everything the material is based on. Like what I’ve said, just us being part of the Filipino family, having a Filipino family. You know how hard it is, especially for immigrants. We tap the immigrant experience, how it is to be overseas, and amongst the sea of minorities. Even the minorities don’t know what you are, you know? If you’re Chinese, or if you’re Vietnamese. “Getting warmer, getting warmer.” Thai? “No, you’re cold again”. So yeah, you know it’s always having to explain who you are and I’m tired of it. I really am, so that’s why I always fall back on us as the main audience because it’s a shorthand. You get it. You get what I’m talking about. And there’s enough of us to get it. I’m not in this for numbers. Like trying to make everybody happy. I’m not there yet. And if the material reaches out to other non-Pinoys, then good. That’s a sign that the world is changing. Humor’s maturing. Maybe the material is going a different and newer direction. Since the beginning, those Rex moments have always been about me just being me. Me being Pinoy. Every day, when I go to sleep and wake up, I’m still a Filipino.

Have you always wanted to be a stand-up comedian?

No. I’ve always wanted to be a filmmaker or a storyteller. And I got my wish! Doing stand-up is storytelling, but I don’t have a camera crew with me. I don’t have set designers. I have people’s imaginations. And I think that’s a lot more immediate and more intense depending on who you are asking.

Stand-up comedy is a very difficult type of comedy.

It is the hardest. And it’s one of the hardest art forms because even if you are a trained actor for 30 years, I dare you to do stand-up. I dare you!

There’s so much wit and humor.

Exactly! It’s either you got it or you don’t. You can not teach yourself to be a stand-up comic. I mean, you can learn the skills. You can learn the techniques but in real time, doing it in real time? That has to be a big part of your show. It’s tough to teach it. You’re chosen to do it, and you have to answer the call. I mean, I’m not a trained actor or a classical writer. This is something I had to learn along the way from other peers and mentors. And then finding my own style. Something that’s inherently me. No one else can steal from me and if you do, everyone’s gonna know.

Because that’s you!

It’s me! I write for me!

Your style is very distinct.

Yeah.

Did you imagine that this is something that you will be doing for most of your life?

No, no. It was a scary choice because I was always in public health right after I graduated in College.

Is this Public Health as a career?

As a career. I was doing it right while I was in college. I was working with Asian-American and mostly Pinoy immigrant kids, high risk kids in the inner city. And then from there I went into gang intervention so working with, you know, gangsters? And then after that I became a drug educator for the school district in San Francisco and a drug counsellor for almost 7 years. I was in recovery working with addicts, alcoholics and families. Boy, was that heavy! That was heavy during the day, and at night I do comedy. On weekends, I fly and do comedy. And then in 2002, I had one of two choices to make. It’s either stay as a drug counsellor or do stand-up full-time. You guys made me choose comedy, full-time!

We never knew you were a drug addict counsellor.

Yeah, I don’t put that in my Bio.

Why is that?

It’s out of respect for my patients and people in recovery. Why put that in your showbiz bio?

That’s true, but what’s something that you learned from that experience?

To listen. Really listen and hear people. You know, the deep down insights. And that’s what you need to write, a really great comedy because it has to come from a really uncomfortable, dark place. Most good routines come from that. You can write about light-hearted stuff and that’s fine. I do that all the time. But the really dark stuff, like “Maritess”, when I wrote that short piece in the late 90s, and then it became animated, had a second life to it. It really meant something to a lot of people. Yeah, it’s goofy on the outside with the super friends but on the inside, it’s a story about our kababayans who have to leave their families behind in the Philippines so that they can support them. We’re not gonna be OFWs forever. Well, I hope not. Change is here I hope. We can bring people back. They can stay in the Philippines and make a living with dignity. So I took it to that extreme, but people know where that story comes from, a very uncomfortable place. But sometimes you have to dig deeper and when it surfaces, you gotta make it digestible for people to enjoy. It still has, at the end of the night, to be funny. It has to make people laugh, otherwise, it’s not stand-up. It just becomes spoken words or poetry, but that’s something else. I don’t make people laugh. They make themselves laugh. It’s your choice. If you wanna laugh then that’s good and that’s good for me, too, because see? We connected.

Can you tell us about memorable experiences or shows?

You know, every experience is the one I like. The new experiences because I’m always on the road and I get to meet new people in different situations. How am I gonna do my comedy? I don’t know where people are at. Some shows still make me anxious.

But if you’re performing in the Philippines, do you still feel nervous?

Yeah, because you guys are smart! You guys are educated. You guys have more education than me and my buddies back home! No, really, you’re very sophisticated now. You’re learning from my generation’s mistakes. Like how the world runs, but faster than us! Technology and information-wise. You guys got it. I can’t fool you, guys.

You were talking about stand-up comedy as something difficult, but what have been the challenges?

I guess the greatest challenge for any stand-up comic is the material. Writing and where you’ll find inspiration. What is it gonna be this time? Are you mature enough as a writer to see all angles? So you leave it to those who can do it. For me, my angle has always been the Pinoy perspective. And I’m always up for the challenge.

What made you really decide that you wanted to do stand-up comedy?

Made me? I don’t know. I like the idea but it was frightening to get into showbiz and depend on showbiz to support you. It’s always good to have a day job, but did your day job fulfill you? But then my day job did really fulfill me. That was tough! I had one great job and another great job! It was with the help of my patients, “You know, man, you go follow your dreams now. You keep telling us to follow our dreams.” Yeah, it’s my turn. You can thank them, too.

Are there any regrets?

No. I don’t know. Maybe showing up to a gig late or missing a flight. Those are the only regrets.

Nothing serious?

No, because at the end of it, it’s like “Wow, look at what you get to do. I have friends with multiple degrees, but they’re miserable.” Again, perspective. I’m a working artist. I get the opportunity to travel the world, do what I do, build a growing audience and provide a decent life for my family, and I’m not miserable. I’m tired, but I’m not miserable. It’s been a good thing to be this far and still have that passion and drive, and it’s also nice to also see the young comics starting out. You’re terrified, but in time, it never changes. So don’t worry about being terrified. You’re going to be terrified all the time because there are so many phases to it. It gets harder. Your training will kick in. It’s just you and how you build your career, the direction you’re going, that’s the challenge. It doesn’t get easier because you’re setting yourself some bigger targets. And the competition is harder, because when I started there were only, maybe, 5 of us? 5 Pinoy comics and that was it.

Since this is coming out on our Humor and Hugot issue, can you define what humor is for you?

Oh, it’s a lot of things! I think Humor has always been a gift of survival. It’s a tactic. I think, it was early humans’ way of coping with the dangers of the world. You know? The letdowns. You’ve got to find a way to re-center. Re-center. Get the tribe back in calibration. Even when you are on your own. You got to find the world. Re-center. Finding something to laugh at or laugh with, that’s important. If you don’t have fun or you don’t know how to laugh at yourself or laugh at the situation, then that is bad news for you. You see, that’s why I love stand-up. It’s the ability to take something bad in the world, talk about it so it’s not so bad anymore. Now, we’re satirizing. That’s why we need humor. We need stand-up comedy. We need comedy because it takes that nasty stuff. It takes the boogey man and turns him into a con. For the con that he is. But that’s a dangerous thing to do. That’s why it’s nice to see what’s happening here in Manila. Like, Finally!

Are you saying it’s evolving?

Oh, yeah. I feel like their mentor. They recognize me as the guy who showed them the way. I didn’t teach them anything. I just showed them what I do. We always had to set a good example with the younger comics here, and let them find their own thing. And I get to work with them now! Manila has its own thing. And everyone I talked to are very impressed. Pinoy sensibility and our ability to see trouble and make fun with that trouble, have fun with that trouble! It’s great! No really, that’s why for a long time satire was kind of banned here. So now things have changed. You’ve got a new breed of Philippine comics who are doing what I do. It’s just a tradition, a life shown to them, not my creation because I just jumped on with tradition and some of the greatest comics in the States. And I’ve shared with them my influences, but they have their own. It’s nice that everyone gets their own influences and their own voice.

Talking about influences, who do you look up to in terms of style of comedy?

You know George Lopez is really important because he is the first guy as dark as me who wasn’t black.

You appeared in his show, right?

Yeah. I was on the road with him even before he got famous. I could see his shows and he was always “the Mexican guy”. I mean, he never stopped being Mexican. Even his material, there’s always some deep Mexican or Spanish words and he never stopped to translate, “Oh my god, I feel left out! He’s not translating!” “Yeah, because it’s not for you hija!” He gave me a little more courage. Like yeah, you can stand your ground. You don’t have to appease everybody, just be Pinoy! Unapologizing.

It’s so nice to hear that perspective.

Yeah. You know, people say “I have to make sure my material reaches a wide demographic of people. I want to see the numbers.” What? What is wrong with you? Then you’re not an artist. You’re a sellout. You’re a marketer. Ugh. Stop. Get out of my stage! You’re spoiling the art! A lot of people need to know that this is an art. This is a craft. This is not just something we do. You think it’s that easy? You do it! It’s like shark-petting. “That’s cool!”. “You do it!” “No, no”. “It’s so easy. Look, put my hand in his mouth.” No, it’s hard. There are seasoned great comics like Chris Rock and Louis C.K. My favorite ones are all dead. Like Richard Pryor, George Carlin, and Mark Twain, who was the very first American stand-up comic known for writing anti-establishment tales and he was one of those anti-imperialist who stood up for the Filipinos. And he toured the world doing stand-up, just on the stage. No microphones because they weren’t invented yet, but people will just listen to this man tell humorous stories about the world they live in. So he is the stand-up origin. We said our minds because he said his mind. And being Pinoy, we have a whole tradition of speaking our minds, whether you like it or not. That’s important, too. For everyone who thinks it’s this easy, it’s not. It really is a dedication. There’s wealth that comes with it. There’s poverty that comes with it. But as long as we’re still doing it. We’re better off than some people we know. They got their own personal drivers and everything. They’re fine, but they’re miserable. I get a whole room with people to laugh their guts out and some people can’t even smile. Eww. That’s sad, right?

True. What are your other plans? Do you have any other dreams aside from what you’re doing now?

Just keep going, moving forward. Just keep doing it. Nightmare is when you’re going backwards. I don’t know. People try to tell me my fortune and I’m like “No. Get away from me. I do not want to know. Gives you too much credit.” I’m superstitious like that. I don’t want to know. You’ll ruin everything that I’ve not planned for. Now, I’m just gonna plan for everything you’ve said, and if that doesn’t happen, I’m gonna come and kill you.” (laughs). Just keep on doing it. Stay alive. Keep having fun.

Rex Navarette for Murphy Report

Just keep going, moving forward. Just keep doing it. Nightmare is when you’re going backwards. I don’t know. People try to tell me my fortune and I’m like “No. Get away from me. I do not want to know. Gives you too much credit.” I’m superstitious like that. I don’t want to know. You’ll ruin everything that I’ve not planned for.

What was the biggest crowd you have performed to?

When I did those showcases with other stand-up comics like Fluffy, we’ll do shows like 17,000 to 20,000 people. That’s crazy! Because you’re waiting for the speakers to hit the people at the back, and there’s a delay of like .75 seconds. Like “Hey… hey”. Oh, the timing is off. The people in the first half are laughing already, and then the ones behind are just finally hearing it. Oh, man.

So you have to wait for their reactions?

You have to hold it backwards! Wait! But small room like 200-300 people, oh, that’s awesome! Then you’ll hear every whisper, in real time.

You’ve been sharing so much wisdom in the answers that you’re giving, but what advice can you give those aspiring stand-up comedians?

No matter how big your entourage, it’s one of the loneliest art forms. It is. If I was one of those guys, I’ll be coming in here with 4 other people, an hour late. It’s one of those art forms where you gotta spend a lot of alone time and be comfortable with that alone time because some day you’ll be in front of a crowd of 15 to 20,000 people and you still gotta have a one-on-one conversation with them. It’s just you and them. It’s a conversation. But if you can’t be with yourself most of the time, listen to where you’re coming from, your material will never be as good as what you want it to be.

 

Check-out Rex’s upcoming shows! Visit his website at http://www.rexnavarrete.com/



 

Admit it. However you try to resist it, you still often find yourself uncontrollably lip-syncing to one of their songs, complete with passionate hand movements. On the first beat, your senses awaken and your mouth immediately opens as if having a mind of its own, compelling the music to come to life with your most vocal cord-shattering rendition of their songs. You cringe in your seat as you try to reach the high notes while releasing all the emotions of pain, sorrow, devastation and anger inside you.  As the song ends, the chaos slowly subsides and on the last notes, the only existing feeling is relief. Relief that it’s over, that smug look that signals you are ready to move on. It’s done.
 

 
These are lines from one of Aegis’ hit songs, “Basang-basa sa Ulan”, a masterpiece written by the musical genius, Celso Abenoja, who wrote most of their songs. We are most certain that while you read it, you ended up singing it. Indeed, there is just something very compelling with the melody and the lyric is on point. The pain emanated from this song is so powerful, that anyone who hears it, can feel the emotions and relate it with their own experiences.

Aegis’ members came from different bands, brought together by AG Talent Development Management, to form a Pinoy band that will reintroduce and redefine OPM Rock music. “Pinoy“ band apparently turned out to be apt as their genuine Filipino talent came from all over the Philippines with their members coming from Misamis Occidental, Manila, Pampanga, Southern Leyte, and Cagayan De Oro. Though they started with the name AG’s Sound Trippers band, they were later renamed to “Aegis”, rooted from Greek Mythology which means “shield” or “protection”, a more appropriate name as the band’s goal is to protect their listeners from feeling lonely in this emotional rollercoaster ride called “love”. Their members, Juliet Sunot, Mercy Sunot-Borjal, and Kris Sunot on vocals, Stella Maries Galindo-Pabico on keyboards, Vilma Goloviogo on drums, Rowena Pinpin-Adriano on bass guitar, and Rey Abenoja on lead guitar, are the masters of the hugot songs that accompany us as we mend.

 

Aegis for Murphy Report

Though they started with the name AG’s Sound Trippers band, they were later renamed to “Aegis”, rooted from Greek Mythology which means “shield” or “protection”.

A chat with Aegis made me realize their humility and the reason they connect with their audience. They described their band as “mga simpleng tao”, and surprisingly, the more I talked to them, the more I saw that stardom has not prevented them from being that.  They talked about their musical influences and how their families serve as their inspiration, inserting humor every now and then. They candidly shared the collaboration they had with the Philharmonic Orchestra, and how it was a dream that almost did not come true, as the difficulty posed by having two extremely different genres made them rethink if it was even possible to do. It was one of the biggest challenges and performances of their career, but the level of musicality and artistry in both parties prevailed, making it one very successful event.

And of course, what is talking with the hugot gurus without asking them about love? They are hopeful, and they believe in how we should all “Live, love and laugh”. Their love advice for the broken-hearted? “Unahin mo ang sarili mo para maibigay mo din ang love sa ibang tao. Do not give up. Kasi may darating din na ibang tao na para sa `yo na tunay na magmamahal sa `yo.”

Having a chance to watch one of their late-night gigs is an entirely different story. This is when I realized that there is a real reason beyond the hype. Music and singing are just as natural to them as breathing.  After the show, I understood why they have that kind of staying power, leaving me wishing that I can belt out even half of the notes that they can.

 

Their songs are more than just songs, as each one reflects love and life. They might be known more for being masa, but that is just a dysphemism to something that truly means being relatable, genuine, and soulful. The undeniable fact that people are drawn to their music is that we have all been in that hugot moment at one time, and their songs are the perfect walling-while-in-the-shower music. Believe it when someone says, “no one can elude the hypnotic powers of Aegis’ songs”. It is true. A piece of unsolicited advice, please stop evading it. Give in and just embrace the fact that this Pinoy rock band has invaded the music scene and they’re here to stay.marker

CREDITS

Interview- Jenette Vizcocho and Dane Raymundo

Video- M Espeña & Cris Legaspi

xxIamEdiTNotexx

ISSUE 04

Hugot and Humor


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an emotion is highlighted by its subjectivity, brought about by our interpretation of situations. It is something that we feel, whether out of volition or not, a speculation that merits further discussions, and will always vary from one person to the other.

In life we are given choices, a choice between practicing spiritual benevolence or senseless violence after a heated argument, a choice between entering a relationship or putting it on hold, that choice between finding diversion by focusing harder on our work or just sulking in our rooms after experiencing a heart break. These choices are part of our responses elicited from different types of emotions. Now thinking about it, we realize the magnitude of how our emotion affects us and the importance of what it is in our lives; important regardless of how vague it may seem. Emotion, just like most of the millennials’ relationship status, is complicated. Oftentimes it can be irrational but it can never be judged. Through it, we try to fathom the unfathomable, comprehend the incomprehensible and explain the unexplainable, but in hindsight we know we will never truly succeed.

Above the emotions that we feel are 2 strong elements, Hugot and Humor. Ironically, they seem to be at different ends, but coincidentally, both affects how we feel.

Hugot is colloquially used to depict emotions, usually that of sadness. This happens when we relate sentimental events and melodramatic lines with our own lives, drawing out emotions from deep within.  Though highly associated with the subculture emo, hugot which literally means “draw out” or “pull-out”,  helps us draw out strength from our inner being,  strength we barely knew existed. Humor, on the other hand, evokes happiness and elicits laughter. Often, it is used to get over the pain caused by the disappointments in our lives.   It may also be a diversion or a way to see life in a better perspective.

Hugot and Humor, when joined together, create a powerful tool for people to cope and make things lighter in life.

For this issue, we venture into the different realms of hugot and humor. We get to know people who have mastered the skill of making people feel and get in touch with their emotions through different expressions such as writing, stand-up comedy, music, games, food, art, and dance. We talked to writer and playwright, Ina Abuan. She shared with us her writing style and her inspiration for the musical play, “Sa Wakas. And who wouldn’t know the tagos sa puso, heart wrenching birit hugot songs of one of the most popular Filipino rock bands, Aegis? We also got a chance to know more about the music of Ebe Dancel, and the stories behind Sugarfree’s songs. We learn more about singer Issa Rodriguez, and how her soothing voice heals broken hearts. It was such a surreal experience to talk to stand-up comic, Rex Navarrete and get to know his craft on a deeper level. Indeed, we seldom realize the depth of stand-up comedy and the hugot component for the humor. We also got to know more about “Flirt” cards creator, Ria Lu, as she explained to us the hugot behind the game.  We also visited LinyaLinya , where we chose the witty, humorous hugot one-liner that hit the spot perfectly. They say one of the best ways to drown the pain is by eating, and we visited one of the best places to do just that, Beefx, an extraordinary burger place known for their foogot, food hugot. And when all else fails, “Travel!”  is what we say! Join us as we visit Benguet, a place where you can seek refuge when things have not been going your way or you simply just want to get away.  There, we learned some life lessons from extraordinary artist, Ben-hur Villanueva, Vizco’s proprietor, Jackie Vizcocho, Lily of the Valley owner, Jefferson Laruan and award-winning rooftop farmer, Danny Agliam.

In this world where people seemed to have been detached with their emotions, it is quite a welcome change to be more open to it and embrace what we truly feel.  And in our quest to explain our emotions, regardless of how unexplainable it may seem, we try to explore it more through hugot and humor.marker

BY DANE RAYMUNDO