Three things 9 – 27 February 2012

Since I discovered Twitter, I have found not watching the Oscars live a feasible thing. As I am posting this, we are inexorably heading toward a Hugo sweep of the technical awards (except for editing), and I wonder if one of the people behind Flight of the Conchords will win for a song for a movie featuring the group who should be hosting the Oscars. (He did! Brett MacKenzie won!)

Now on to three things:

1. No pictures available, but I finally visited the Salcedo Market. This is the place where the trend of food fairs and markets catering to a high-end audience really started, in my view. Even the likes of the Fort’s Mercato Centrale, for instance, owe something to the Saturday morning organic food market and veritable smorgasbord. It was an interesting half-hour I spent roaming about the stalls, and I am thinking of returning–because I saw mushrooms one could grow at home! And the Kashmir restaurant was represented with a stall. They have amazing vegetarian samosas.

2. I had one samosa at dinner after a very interesting gig at 19 East. This was the first time I visited this place, and I agree with the claim made by a number of friends in the music scene that this has one of the best sound systems of any venue in town.

The reason for my visit there (and hence my unfortunate avoidance of the Collective Art Fair) was a gig led by two Indian musicians and their friends, which included a couple of Filipinos who were in a band that plays Irish music at Murphy’s (that band’s next gig, by the way, may be the first time I will return to Murphy’s in Makati in nearly a year). And of course, there was this band and a keyboard duo I represent. (Since I do not talk about work a lot here… [tongue sticking out]) Here’s a shot from the night itself.

Sing India and friends performing "Must Must," a qawwali song, at 19 East. Photo by Ren Aguila

What I enjoyed about it was that all concerned were lively and enthusiastic about what they were doing, and I found the vibe very refreshing. But most of all, it was a celebration of music, and that is what is keeping me sane.

3. I was at yesterday’s matinee presentation of the cantata A Fire in the Soul by Vince Groyon and Von de Guzman, thanks to someone I met last time at the opening night of the wildly successful Battalia Royale. The production, directed by Peque Gallaga and with video projection work by a “translator,” is an interesting tribute not only to the De La Salle University’s centennial (it was first performed in June 2011), but also to a somewhat obscure act of terror that took place at the Taft campus’s chapel. I first learned of this story from historian Ambeth Ocampo, and the cantata quotes almost word-for-word from the only surviving Christian Brother who wrote a pamphlet Ocampo also quoted. The incident, which took place on 12 February 1945 during the so-called Liberation of Manila, involved the murder of 41 civilians, including 16 members of the FSC, by Japanese troops in revenge for an alleged sniper attack on the nearby Nippon Club. The brothers were allowed to keep La Salle open (as the Christian Brothers Academy) during the war, a distinction not shared by my old place, mainly because some of them were nationals of Axis countries. But even that could not save them from being killed.

The desecration of the La Salle chapel is one of the reasons I still find it scandalous when, say, a Japanese politician visits the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, or an Education Ministry bureaucrat approves history books that gloss over the fact that the Imperial Army had comfort women or a track record of atrocities. But the fact that it took place amid one of the worst and most ill-advised US bombing raids in the Second World War makes me shake my head at the people who unreservedly treat America as an exemplar for anything, even politics. In short, we do have to be fair, especially if we are caught in the middle of a conflict between Great Powers. And these days, we still are.

But enough about the (geo)politics. What I also appreciated about A Fire in the Soul is that it told me, as someone who is from what I called “the other place” over at La Salle, a bit more about what the founding order stands for, and what La Salle ought to be doing. Any judgment on whether they are is not for me to make, but I am grateful to our friends in Taft for what they have done in any case. After all, some of my friends are from the other place.

(Disclaimer: To be honest, I do not take the rivalry that seriously. It has become a musical, though.)

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