On Reflection

I haven’t been writing for a long time. They say that one should write, only when creativity or inspiration comes. It might not be true for me. I’m always inspired by people & places everywhere. Almost everything excites me. Almost everything seems to be so full of beauty. However, still, I am not writing as much as I expect myself to be. I’m afraid that I’m losing touch with myself that’s why I am not able to write anything that may make some sense. Perhaps I’ve been focusing my all externally, too much, that there’s not much room or time to think deeply by myself. I wonder why I can’t reflect properly anymore, even when I’m alone and there’s no distraction. It seems that I always try to distract myself so that I don’t have to think about a lot of things. I’m always afraid that if I do, I might overthink it, and destroy myself in the process. Overthinking has always been a nasty experience for me. It triggers a lot of insecurities in me. Smiling and laughing becomes harder when all insecurities start to surface. I hate it when this happens, because it’s uncomfortable when I’m aware that I might be sharing negative feelings to the people around me because of the nasty emotions that I’m feeling. By avoiding overthinking, I’m forgetting to reflect on things. And so, days become so meaningless and empty.

I’m writing now because I have a lot of free time today, and I don’t want to waste it by engaging in vicarious activities again. Also, our discussion in EDFD 120 under Prof. Diaz made me think about these things. I’ve been thinking about these since Wednesday, which is our first day in EDFD 120. I have to translate these thoughts into writing because I don’t want this to be just another idea that would just float around my head. It would slip away, soon, for certain.

In our discussion, we talked about how one becomes wiser not because of experiences, but how much he reflects on these experiences. Every experience should leave a mark, a lesson, and a promise to not make the same mistakes again. Most essentially, thinking about these takeaways would help us to be better people who makes better decisions. That would show that we’ve really learned from the experiences that we’ve gone through, and that those experiences are actually powerful, and meaningful.

And so after that meaningful EDFD 120 discussion, I told myself that I have to reflect about many things again. Busy days just come and go, and I’m afraid that I’ve only learned a few from these experiences, because I rarely really allow myself to reflect, and think about things. My mindset in the last months is to always look forward, and not look back. The past is in the past, and so I should just move on, and not think about the past too much. This mindset, to be honest, actually works for me. I’m happy in most days except for days that I didn’t get enough sleep the night before. This mindset helped me to have a more optimistic outlook. But, the downside is that I’ve become too happy that even when adversities come, I force myself to be happy and accept things, even when the right thing to do is think about what I can do to overcome those adversities.

With these, I promise myself to make time to reflect again, especially during these times when days go so fast, and there are so much things going on— so many work to do to, faces and names to remember, relationships to keep, people to take care of, and dreams to achieve. I want to be in touch with myself again.

I’m very happy that I’ve finished this piece, in one sitting. Prof. Diaz said that so many millenials get so distracted quickly. I’m very guilty of this! I’m surprised that I managed to avoid many temptations and distractions.

Anyway, if you’re reading this part and you’ve been following my blog for quite some time, I apologize if you’ve spotted grammar mistakes (there’s lots of them) in this post, and my past posts. I never edit my writings before I post them. I just read the pieces that I’ve posted in the past, and I cringed at the many grammar mistakes. I’m too excited to type, and my thoughts just keep flowing, and I don’t want them to go. A lot of mistakes happen because of that. 😂

I also apologize if many things that you’ve read from this blog don’t make sense. I’m not good at making my point across to people, most of the time.

Finally, I know that there’s only a very few of you who is reading my blog, but I thank you anyway! It means so much to me, that someone actually listens(reads) to my whims and drama. I don’t usually go to people to talk about these things. I might be, but only some aspects of it. I’m afraid that I may come across as too intense. Thinking about it, I might actually be too intense to some people. I may look carefree to some, but I’m actually not. Being a true introvert, I like observing things and taking everything in, often intensely, but most people don’t notice it, and that’s a relief. I also don’t like the spotlight to be on me, because I’m innately shy and I don’t think there’s anything I can do about it. Am I deviating from the what I’m talking about? I don’t even know. My thoughts and hands are on fire.

By the way, I’ve been receiving many messages from people who wanted to cite my research on OPM that I posted. I’m glad that you’ve found that helpful, and thank you for your intentions to cite. I feel like a legit researcher, even when I’m not.

I have to stop. I have been writing for more than an hour straight, believe it or not. If you’ve reached this point, thank you so much for reading! Keep shining. 🙂

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Who am I?

Whenever I look at the mirror, a body made up of flesh and eyes stares right back at me. Is this what I really am? Am I really merely a flesh that is placed randomly on the universe for no particular reason at all? If I am just flesh, then what makes me so different from animals? I might argue: I have a consciousness. Feelings. Thoughts. A sense of the past and the future. A soul. Animals can’t possibly have these things in their system. But, am I sure? Am I sure that they don’t have these things, even tiny bits of what we have?

Because scientific experimentations have limits, we tend to assume the rest until we discover new ways to solve particular problems. If the case is to make assumptions, are we just assuming that only us humans, have the aforementioned things to justify the significance of our existence? But to think about it, should having consciousness, feelings, thoughts, a sense of the past and the future, and a soul, among others, make me justifiably significant? And also, what is the indication of being? Should being significant, consequently make me, me?

On reality

Morpheus says, “How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”

When we talk about real, we usually talk about the present physical world — the world that our senses can reach. But often, this very exclusive and limited notion on reality is problematic, because we tend to dismiss worlds beyond the physical realm as not real, and merely imaginary. For instance, we consider dreams, thoughts, feelings and emotions as mere fragments of imagination and products of cognition. We often think that just because these are only happening inside our heads, it is therefore not real. But to think about it, are we even sure that this present, physical world is the reality? If so, what makes us so sure? What are the conditions necessary to make something real? What does it mean to be real?

Going back to Morpheus’ question, how do we really define real? Linguistically, real refers to something that is a) actually existing or happening and b) not imaginary. If we refer to these two meanings, should we consider dreams as real? If we refer to definition a, should we agree that dreams as real? They are existing, and happening, but only inside our heads. Our senses cannot reach those, because dreams are things beyond the physical realm. The only problematic term in definition a is actually. Actual refers to things that are real and not merely possible or imagined. If this is the case, then what does it mean to actually exist? If we refer to the definition b, we can easily dismiss dreams as unreal. After all, dreams are only happening inside our heads. They are imaginary. But, what makes something imaginary? Are we sure that this present, physical reality, real? What if it is only imaginary, and our minds are only making things up?

In another scene, Spoon boy tells Neo, “Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.” Then Neo asks, “What truth?” Spoon boy answers that there is no spoon, that it is not the spoon the bends, “it is only yourself.” This scene might be suggesting that we might just be constructing our own version of reality, and that the truth is that we are just making ourselves believe that some things are real and some things are not, to delineate our understanding of the world better. Furthermore, this scene might even be suggesting that we are so far away from the truth, and we often cannot see it, because our senses tend to deceive us, and our conception of reality, is in fact, distorted. This is also suggesting that our senses are unreliable and they do not hold the complete truth, and that often the truth is beyond what our senses can reach. Most essentially, this suggests that the truth is within us, on how we perceive reality. 

Another quotation from Morpheus ties well with these. He asks, “Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you are unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?” We cannot, because even if the dream world and the real world seemed to be completely contrasting concepts, in reality, they are so closely related that we might just as well be using the concepts interchangeably. 

ii. tumutulak daw ako

pero hindi.
ayun siya
nakahiga at naliligo sa sariling dugo
ang kaawa-awa kong katawan
kanina’y payosi-yosi lang ako
at pumepetiks
sabi na nga ba’t
may masamang mangyayari
kanino ba ‘ko may atraso?
kay Marcelo,
na asawa ng kinakasama ko na si Carina?
kay Aling Lina,
na dalawang taon ko nang tinataguan
dahil ‘di ko mabaya-bayaran
ang dyes mil kong utang?
kay Angelo,
na kaibigan ko ngunit dahil sa
isang tampuhan sa inuman ay
di ko sinasadyang mabigwasan?
atraso lang naman ang nakikita kong dahilan
dahil Diyos ko,
kailanman ay ‘di ako nagtulak,
di ako nag-adik,
di ako nanggahasa o nanghalay man lang ng babae
at lalong lalo na’ng
‘di ako pumatay
“Pusher ako. ‘Wag tularan”
Ayan ang nakasulat sa kwadradong karton
na nakapatong sa aking walang buhay na katawan.
Marcelo, Aling Lina, Angelo, Carina…?
Sino pa ba?
Sila kaya?

Isa ako sa kanila
Na sinasaksak at pinaputukan ng paulit-ulit
hanggang mawalan ng hininga
Isa ako sa kanila
Silang walang malay na inagawan ng buhay
dahil sa purong muhi at personal na bersyon ng hustisya
Ito ba ang kabayaran sa ideyal na pagbabago?
Isa ako sa kanila
Gusto mo bang sumama?

The Status of Original Pilipino Music (OPM) in the 21st Century Youth Subculture

I wrote this paper for our Soc Sci 1 and Eng 10 classes. I ended up enjoying writing this.

I. Introduction

Music and society have always been intimately related. Music holds a strong, essential, and definitive role in reflecting and shaping the culture of every society, every country. It unifies groups of people and moves them to common action and helps them express common emotions. Some songs become anthems for particular generations, as Eraserhead’s Ligaya became for many in the 1990’s. In times of national crisis, songs seem especially appropriate, such as ASIN’s “Masdan Mo ang
Kapaligiran” or Francis M.’s “Tayo’y mga Pinoy”. Music expresses widely-shared values, experiences and emotions, that helps define a group’s identity and solidarity. It also serves as a forum for public debate about manners, morals, politics,
policies, and social change. Musicians and their audiences are social actors. While they reflect the world around them, they also interpret and change it. Some are most valuable for telling us what concerned people, how they saw issues, and how they
expressed their hopes, ideals, anger, and frustrations. It facilitates communication which goes beyond words, enables meanings to be shared, and promotes the development and maintenance of individual, group, cultural, and national identities.
Through Original Pilipino Music (OPM), the diversity, uniqueness, and richness of the Filipino culture, as well as the distinctive values and sentiments of the Filipino people are clearly expressed, exposed, and reflected at its most honest and rawest form.

Much of OPM have been influenced by the colonial legacies of Spain, Western rock n’ roll, hip-hop music and pop music from the United States, the Austronesian population and Indo-Malayan Gamelan music. It is a mixture of European, American and Indigenous sounds.

OPM originally referred only to Philippine pop songs and ballads, which appealed very much to the Philippine mass, right after the collapse of its predecessor, the Manila Sound, in the 1970’s. OPM is referred to now as any music composed and performed by a Filipino artist. It became hugely popular with the peak of the Metro Manila Music Festival or Metropop in 1972.

Artists such as Ryan Cayabyab, ASIN, Rico J. Puno, Joey Albert, Pilita Corrales, Basil Valdez, Claire dela Fuente, Rey Valera, Imelda Papin and Freddie Aguilar dominated the 70’s OPM scene, delineating the decade’s music with their powerful tunes and melodies, and lyrics with recurring themes of social, political, and familial struggles and of the pains and gains of hopeless romantic affairs.

In the midst of 1980s and 1990s, OPM was even more lifted by solo artists like Regine Velasquez, Sharon Cuneta, Jose Marie Chan, and Vina Morales who built their music career with their sweeping voices on ballads about unconditional love and heartbreak.

Also in the 90s, bands like the APO Hiking Society, Eraserheads,and Rivermaya found haven and developed a fan group following with their appealing and generally widely-accepted lyricism and their experimental, sometimes upbeat, sometimes melancholic, stadium rock tunes.

Meanwhile, band s like Side A, Introvoys, The Teeth, Yano and True Faith glorifies the maudlin, sentimental facet of OPM pop and reflects the Filipino people’s fondness to romanticism.

From its kickoff, OPM has been centered in Manila, where the city’s dominant, core languages are mostly Tagalog and English. Ilokano, Visayan, Bikolano, and Kapmpangan and other ethnolinguistic groups have not been recognized as OPM despite their palpable music production in their respective native languages. Multiculturalism advocates, and federalists often associate this discrepancy to the Tagalog-centric cultural hegemony of Manila.

The Visayan, who created a subgenre of Philippine Rock they hailed as Bisrock, have the biggest collection of modern music in their native language, with great collaboration and contribution from Visayan bands Phylum and Missing Philemon.
Regardless of the growing uproar for non-Tagalog, and non-English music, the apparent greater representation of other Philippine languages, the local Philippine Industry, which is centered in Manila, is unforthcoming in venturing investments
to other locations. Some of their major reasons include the language barrier, small market size, and socio-cultural emphasis away from regionalism in the Philippines.

In the present decade, artists and bands such as Yeng Constantino, Gloc-9, Hale, Up Dharma Down, Parokya ni Edgar and Callalily are still boldly persistent in creating experimental songs that explores a myriad of subgenres. Gradually, through the years, OPM has evolved, and has been experimented with myriad of genre-styles by many fleeting Filipino artists who each left their marks in the OPM history.

Filipinos had palpably supported OPM since the prelude of the Metropop culture. However, noticeably, after decades of the proliferation of music from prominent Filipino artists who made distinctive marks in the Filipino music scene, the
Philippines’ music industry gradually seemed to merely settle with the production of auto-tune, second-rate songs and revivals or covers of both foreign and English songs from the past.

Youth Subculture and Musical Preferences

Some consumers in the music industry are coming from the youth subculture. They are one of the essential demographics targeted by record producers, because they already have the capability to buy individual records or album, either through
online or physical means. The youth subculture also has the powerful capacity to expound a fan group following, being the primary users of social media platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Therefore, this subculture is very
effective in disseminating music.

The youth subculture is a youth-based subculture with distinct styles, behaviors, and interests. Socioeconomic class, gender, conformity, morality, and ethnicity can be important in relation to youth subcultures. Youth subcultures have a certain
devotion attached for clothing, music, and other visible affections by members of the subculture, because these mark them a nuance of identity and distinction.

Music is the preeminent fountainhead of liberation in the youth subculture, and most music is easily accessible now through the evolution of the internet and mainstream media. However, is the Philippine media doing its role in promoting Philippine
music to the Philippine youth subculture?

OPM and the Philippine Media

The 21st Century has indeed been tough for Philippine Music Industry. From the record high estimated P2.7 billion in industry CD sales in 1999, physical sales went down to P699 million in 2010 according to data provided by the Philippine Association
of the Recording Industry (PARI).

Production of albums today is clearly difficult considering the steep competition from online music sites like Spotify and iTunes. Physical albums are competing against the invisible and invincible. Artists, especially, endure the negative repercussions of these paradigm-shifting innovations.

Because of piracy, the music industry lost an estimate of more than a billion last year. Artists are not properly compensated for their work, and the industry loses profit which may lead to the closure of more record companies. According to PARI, 8 of
the 43 affiliated with the PARI, closed shops in 2001 because of the rampant operations of piracy in the Philippines.

Another challenging issue for the Philippine Music Industry is the lack of commercialization of music by the Philippine media (TV, radio, newspaper, etc.). Mainstream media dictates taste and excellent dissemination, however, most music
companies in the mainstream media choose to produce mostly remakes of old tunes, perhaps, believing that it is the fastest way of reaching a wider audience, assuming that the listeners only consume the familiar and comfortable.

In line with this, the researcher decided to conduct a survey participated by the youth subculture, which may show the current status of OPM in the 21st Century Philippine youth subculture.

II. Description of the Sample

30 students from universities and a high school in Quezon City and Manila City participated in this research survey. 24 students are from University of the Philippines, Diliman (UPD); 3 students are from Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP); 1 is from National Teachers’ College (NTC); 1 is from St. Paul’s University, Quezon City (SPUQC); 1 is from Quirino High School (QHS). 60% of the respondents are female and 40% are male. The respondents’ average age is 17 years old.

III. Summary of Resultssummary
IV. Discussion of Results and Conclusion

From the data gathered, it can be suggested that more teenagers can hear less OPM and more foreign music (English, K-Pop, J- Pop, etc.) from our local FM or AM radio stations. This shows that local radio stations today do not play enough OPM or
Philippine music.

The data also shows that most teenagers don’t listen more to OPM artists neither in Spotify nor YouTube. There’s a great probability that the respondents listen more to foreign artists.

The frequency of teenagers who buy albums or individual records either online or through physical music stores is considerably low. The low frequency may mean ambiguously: a) the respondents or participants may not also buy albums or
individual records by foreign artists either. They are likely listening through streaming platforms like Spotify or through YouTube or they are apt to participate in file sharing/torrent downloading/online piracy, or b) they are more apt to buying
foreign individual records or albums.

Moreover, most respondents conceive that the Philippine media is not effectively glorifying OPM. This shows that teenagers are not satisfied with the efforts of the Philippine media in showcasing OPM.

When inquired if OPM nowadays appeal very much to them, most of the respondents responded with a “no”. This may mean that foreign music appeal more to them than OPM or this might also mean that today’s music (foreign or OPM) in general, do not
appeal to them at all.

In the concluding question, when asked if they like today’s OPM, the answer is generally “no”. Most teenagers or members of the Philippine youth subculture surveyed generally are not in favor of today’s mainstream OPM.

V. Personal Evaluation

I chose to carry out this survey after reading an article online titled, “The life and death of OPM” written by Philippine Star’s cultural critic, Don Jaucian. In the article, he criticizes the status of today’s OPM, claiming that OPM’s death can be gleaned when “yesteryear’s hits” are “sung to death by variety show singers,” while newer acts “struggle to get their original material released.” Consequently, this article resulted into heated discussions in various social media, and blogging platforms. On one hand, many bloggers and critics disagree, including Carlo Casas, saying that, “I’ve been a part of the music scene since 2002, among my friends from the industry, none of them think OPM is close to being dead.” He added, “You have the Internet. You all have what all of your heroes of your teen angst years didn’t: The world at your fingertips. Share your music on social media. You have things like Soundcloud, Facebook and Twitter.” Critic Rain Contreras also added, “You don’t go to enough gigs of bands you don’t know. I’ve been witness to three decades worth of Pinoy music.” On the other hand, bloggers like Leloy Claudio agreed with Jaucian and contradicted the argument of Casas, saying that, “Take the argument to its logical conclusion: if you don’t make it, poor padawan, it’s nobody’s fault but yours. Don’t criticize “the man” for making it tough on poor musicians. Rock was never about complaining anyway. Stay happy. Surf the net. And if you lack support, it’s because you didn’t tweet enough. Try saying the same thing to novelists, painters, and other artists who don’t receive enough support in the Philippines. It’s in this way that Casas and Jaucian’s other critics conjure away the power of media conglomerates and distribution networks, while patronizing younger artists. It’s not like social media isn’t awash with music from young musicians who put out their work for free, or promos for gigs where you pay P150 for entrance, a beer, and five bands. The Casas musicological theorem of “internet + hard work = magic bullet to success” is fiction.”

This debate really piqued my curiosity, because I want to know if OPM’s indeed, “dead.” I found the opportunity to get immediate answers through this research survey project.

Although my personal answers to the questions I made would be mostly ‘No”, I was still hoping and even expecting that the respondents’ answers would be mostly “Yes”, because I assumed that perhaps most young people today still find OPM appealing.

Summarizing the survey was a slightly depressing task, after discovering that most young people I surveyed do not find OPM appealing and favorable over foreign music. On one hand, the young people I surveyed do not necessarily represent the whole youth subculture. It was just a small facet of it.

Is OPM, therefore, dead? It is not. Just like Casas said, there are still many rising music groups, bands, and solo artists out there, waiting to be unveiled and to be given the opportunity to showcase their talents.

One of the questions in the survey is “Do you think the Philippine media is effectively glorifying OPM?” I included this question because I want to find validation with my perception of the Philippine mainstream media, because, like the majority of the respondents’ answers, I don’t also think that the Philippine media is effectively glorifying OPM. I might not agree with Jaucian’s blunt statement “OPM is dead,” but I agree with him that “yesteryear’s hits” are “sung to death by variety show singers,” while newer acts “struggle to get their original material released.” The mainstream media is a very powerful tool to disseminate culture. Whatever the mainstream media produces, many people would unquestionably jump and ride along with it. The sad truth is that, most producers in the Philippines nowadays are afraid to take risk. Most of them would offer labels to famous actors, not musicians, because they think that popular handsome actors would sell more. Unbeknownst to them, this is actually affecting the music culture. They should mainstream the obscure but talented artists. Another structural factor that affects the arts is government investment. In 1950s France, a disdain for American film and a desire to promote cultural production outside Paris led the government to invest in directors like Godard and Truffaut who would constitute the French New Wave. (This was a common pattern in the social democratic milieu of postwar Europe.) In 1970s Philippines, the Marcos dictatorship also poured money into the arts. Imelda Marcos spent a lot of money on pop festivals. The government now, should do the same, not just in music, but also in all arts in the Philippines, because these are in great need of a strong foundation. They are scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Music and arts in general are very important facets of a country, because it reflects a lot about the Filipino people and the Filipino culture. I want to hear a foreigner hear a Filipino song, and then exclaim, “Hey, I love that! That’s a Filipino song!” instead of “Hey, I love that, that sounds Western!”

The industry may now be too far away from its glory days like in the 60’s or 90’s, but it is not dead. It just needs the unified support of the Filipino people.