Friday, October 29, 2010


The second part of my Scrunk article on Excerpts below.


PART TWO: Where we dissect the blemishes and barfs of the scrunk vanguard.

The crunk core kids aren’t too sure themselves about what exact message their music wants to say; but what they are sure about is that they want to party hard, drink lots of booze, get inked, and—as the BrokeNCyde song “FreaXXX” goes—“get fucking freaky now!”

Crunk core (also scrunk, crunk punk, and screamo-crunk) is the newest emergent genre to come out of middle America. It resonates strongly with global teens and tweens and spreads itself via the MySpace and Twitter virus. It combines the rollicking suburban style of dirty crunk rap and the belligerent screams of post-hardcore. More specifically, I should say it tries to.

The Boston Phoenix describes it as “a combination of minimalist Southern hip-hop, auto-tune croons, techno breakdowns, barked vocals, and party-‘til-you-puke poetics.” The way scrunk awkwardly saturates its songs with auto-tune, in particular, is so odious it can make T-Pain sound like Enya.

If you’re not familiar with it, auto-tune is a vocal effect that sounds like Cher, Lady Gaga, and a very horny robot had a vicious animal orgy inside your mouth. [Time answers the question of why pop music sounds perfect—or intentionally imperfect—hereEd.]


Tuesday, October 26, 2010


The first of a three-part article on the emerging Crunkcore genre released on local music Net channel Thanks to the EIC Aldus Santos. Here are some excerpts.


PART ONE: In which we shake hands and fists with the post-emo brethren.

Seven in the evening and the sky’s awash with PET bottles. Raining with it. I’m in the middle of Amoranto Stadium about 30 meters from the stage barricade surrounded by a couple of thousand strong metal heads, emo kids, freaks, punks, and orcs. A lot of orcs. This is Pulp Magazine’s annual Summer Slam circa 2010.

The torrential downpour of plastic has been an impromptu invention of the kids I’m sharing this sprawling arena with. We’ll call it Inter-Pit Bottle Pong. This new game comes close to being hazardous to my shaved head. And so I hold my crossed arms up to shield my head, fists curled down to the top of my spine, elbows to the sky in self-defense.

Why am I smack dab on ground zero of this heaving, malodorous mass of young flesh bent on destroying each other with a massive display of hurled objects?


When you hit your thirties you start to doubt if you can survive a violent mosh pit at a venue the size of Amoranto. I’ve never been to a Summer Slam but all reports previous pointed to an extremely hazardous environment freed from the comfy walls of a club. There are no safe corners here, bub.

Plus, Testament and Lamb of God headlining this event was just too good to pass up. A couple of things came free with the general admission ticket: a copy of the magazine, a condom (variously flavored), and a Pepsi in a PET bottle. They inflated the condoms and tossed it around the arena like a beach ball. Guess what they did with the PET bottles?

Still, the bottles didn’t hurt per se. They were empty 80% of the time. The remaining 20% were packed with arena soil, dirt, and/or contained urine. So here I am with my hands above my head cursing the idiot who armed the little buggers. When Lamb of God finally started I took my angst out on the nearest punks unfortunate enough to be in the way of my St. Vitus dance.


Monday, October 25, 2010


Just finished watching a couple of horror movies and one that struck me as astounding with its pace and build-up to its no redemption, no apologies climax is The Descent.

A barkada of hot, athletic girls go caving and get lost in a subterranean maze after a tunnel collaspses. What do they find there? No cute li'l bunnies I assure you. The great thing is, since they're mostly athletic they're no damsels in distress.   


I first encountered Clare Grant in the Masters of Horror episode titled "Valerie on the Stairs" where she played a very naked (90% of the time she's in her birthday suit) and very horny succubus/mental construct.

Turns out she just got hitched to hardest working Hollywood geek Seth Green. So how about a nude pix of Seth's wife?

Nice eh?  She's also apparently part of a gamer girl group called Team Unicorn that does great parody stuff. Like this girl on girl saber duel, for example.

Star Wars - Saber from Darth Anonymous on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Journalist Raissa Robles recounts the horrors of trying to get her senior citizen mother her rightful monthly pension. And they say Pinoys are famous for caring for the elderly? Bull crap.

Faith in our national governance? They can't even get their lousy biometrics to work.

Still, read on. The whole  post is HERE.

GSIS Killed My Mother

By Raissa Robles

Let me tell you how GSIS killed my mother.

Actually, she’s still alive.

But GSIS simply decided she was dead.

Even after I personally brought my mother, Gloria L. Espinosa, on November 5, 2009 to the GSIS office along Quezon Memorial Circle. There, she dutifully sat in front of the biometric machine and the technician tried to re-register her existence not once, not twice, not thrice, not four times, not five times, but SIX  #!*^#!! times.

Finally, the technician told my mother that maybe the skin on her fingers was just too thin for the biometric machine to read.

This did not happen only to my mother. Other elderly pensioners who used the same machine at that time also failed to register. Now I wonder, is that intentional on GSIS’ part? To have a machine that cannot register and read the fingerprints of elderly pensioners?

It was actually the second time my mother, Gloria L. Espinosa, sat in front of a GSIS biometric machine. About a year before that, she had gone to the GSIS main office in Manila. The technician there was also NOT able to get her digital fingerprint. !!!!#%$^&!!!!! But GSIS obtained her new address and keyed that into its database. That is the proof that my mother actually went to GSIS to register her existence.
Because she again could not be registered on the biometric machine that November 5, 2009, the technician just keyed in my mobile number (for contact purposes) into the machine.

Just to be sure they had a record of my mother’s personal presence, my mother painstakingly filled up a ‘VISITOR’S REQUEST FORM” to tell GSIS she was still alive. I even submitted a photo of her which I took during her October 24, 2009 birthday. When you become a pensioner, be prepared to lose your dignity. You are required by both GSIS and SSS to pose with a newspaper, much like a kidnap victim.

Let me add something for the record. Before I took my mother to GSIS, she gave me her power-of-attorney and I personally went to the GSIS Quezon Memorial office four times to nag them that she was still alive and they should recognize her existence. I went through the process and did not for once try to short-circuit it by invoking the power of the press. (What power?) I was advised to bring my mother and so I did.

Last month at 11:58:10 of September 29,2010 I got this text message from GSIS:
REMINDER: Pls RENEW ACTIVE STATUS AS PENSIONER ON UR BIRTHMONTH 2 ensure uninteruptd receipt of pension Go w/ecard 2 any GSIS Ofc If cmplyd pls disregard Ty”

I must confess, so many unprintable words rushed through my mind upon reading this.

You see, the GSIS Quezon Memorial office told me and my mother last November to have patience since the GSIS computer system was having glitches. We were told GSIS would not be able to encode my mother’s name into their database until early this year.

Ha, ha. They fooled us.

My mother’s troubles began when she went to Canada to visit my sister for several months and she was unable to appear personally in GSIS on her birth month of October.

In February 2005, GSIS simply killed her without notifying her.

Since then, my mother has not received the monthly survivorship pension as the widow of my late father. GSIS Quezon Memorial told us that on April 13, 2008, GSIS prepared a check worth P101,634.85 for my mother but GSIS CANCELLED it because she never came to get it. How could she? They never !!!!#%$^&!!!!! told her about it.

My mother’s monthly pension is quite small – only P3,504.65 – compared to then GSIS chairman Winston Garcia’s salary and benefits.

But GSIS even tried to cheat my mother my preparing a check for her worth only P101,634.85 for the uncollected pension from March 2005 to March 2008.

Read the rest of the post HERE.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead will soon be released as a TV show adaptation. And Frank Darabont is directing. This is a great thing. Rick's story and the saga of a world in the grip of a zombie apocalypse can now be told on celluloid.

I love the comics series. You should, too. It's a no-brainer.


I find it very amusing how bloggers are the ones who most often complain about the hassle of going on-line to check out stuff they'd like/need to find out more about. As a journalist who started out with just landlines, phone books, snail mail and good old legwork, I tell you it's really really nice not to have to go to an interview cold. 

I digress. This is a confusing review at best, but at least he took the time to write all his thoughts down. Thanks, bro. The original post is here

Oktubre 7, 2010, 8:34 umaga 
Excited ako ng bilhin ko ang librong ito.  Tulad ng maraming Pilipino, mahilig ako sa mga horror stories.  Kumpleto ko nga ang lahat ng libro ni Stephen King.  Mahilig din ako magbasa ng mga True Philippine Ghost Stories na libro.  Kayat masaya ako sa kuwentong katatakutang ito na sulat ng isang Pinoy. 

Nang buksan ko ang librong ito, bigla akong napaisip: Sino ba ang mga taong ito na pumupuri sa librong ito?  Dapat ba ay kilala ko sila? Well, buti na lang at nandyan si kaibigang Google.  Aba’y, mga kilalang personalidad naman pala ang mga taong ito.  Bakit hindi na lang nila nilagay kung sinu-sino sila?  Nag-research pa tuloy ako.  Pwede naman nilang ilagay:  Carljoe Javier, author of And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth.  Di ba?

Anyways, ang librong ito pala ay hindi isang nobela, kundi apat na maiiksing novellas.  4 Novellas of Horror, sabi nga sa title page.  Ito ay ang Angelorio, News of the Shaman, Faith in Poison, at Bright Midnight. Medyo magkaka-konekta ang apat na ito bagamat stand-alone stories naman sila.  Sa kabuuan, maganda ang pagkakasulat sa libro.  Hindi ito masyadong masalita tulad ng ibang mga nobelang ingles na gawa ng ibang Pilipino na para bang ipinagmamalaki ang laki ng kanilang bokabolaryo.  Makatotohanan din ang mga dialogue, hindi masakit sa tenga.  Makikita mo rin ang iba’t ibang personalities ng mga karakter sa kuwento.  Matagumpay ito bilang isang literary fiction.  As a source of entertainment, well…

Sa Angelorio, dalawang lalaki, sina Raul at Lucas, ang naghahanap ng kasagutan sa kani-kanilang mga katanungan.  Matatagpuan nila ito (o hindi matatagpuan) sa isang club na pinatatakbo ng mga nilalang ng kadiliman.  Ang Angelorio.  Nagustuhan ko ang istilo ng awtor kung saan nagpapasalit-salit ang pagsasalaysay ng mga nangyari sa dalawang lalaki.  Nakakadagdag ito ng suspense at tension.  Nagustuhan ko rin ang mga stories na nakapaloob sa kuwentong ito, ngunit para medyo misplaced sila at parang wala namang kinalaman sa kuwento.  Kahit medyo marami na ring mga kuwentong naisulat na katulad ng Angelorio, medyo naging unique naman ito dahil sa paggamit ng awtor ng mga nilalang at mga ritwal mula sa kulturang Pilipino.
Nagustuhan ko namang mabuti ang News of the Shaman. Nakakapukaw ng interest ang alternative reality na iprinisinta sa kuwentong ito.  Dito, ang mga shaman, salamangkero, at paganismo ay isang pangkaraniwang bagay lamang at normal na parte ng ating buhay.  Maganda rin ang istilo ng pagkukuwento, sa pamamagitan ng mga radio broadcasts, interviews, at mga newspaper clippings.  Medyo nabitin lang ako sa ending dahil parang naging parang si Batman ang bidang Shaman.

Hindi ko naman masyadong na-gets ang kuwentong Faith in Poison.  Siguro ay mayroong malalim at lihim na kahulugan ito ngunit sa kasamaang palad ay hindi ko ito natuklasan.  Pasensya na po dahil ako’y isang simpleng mambabasang Pinoy lamang.  Ang kuwentong ito, na masasabing karugtong ng Angelorio, ay tungkol kay Lucas at sa naging buhay niya pagkatapos ng kanyang di malilimutang karanasan sa Angelorio.  Naging isang addict siya at parang walang direksyon ang buhay.  Tulad ng Angelorio, mayroong ilang mini-stories dito na para bang walang kinalaman sa kuwento.  Parang pangpakapal lang.  Hindi mo alam kung ang mga nangyari sa kuwentong ito ay totoo o dulot lamang ng droga.  Siguro ay maiintindihan mo ang kuwentong ito kapag high ka din sa droga.

Ang huling kuwento ay ang Bright Midnight.  Tungkol ito sa buhay ng isang banda matapos magpakamatay ang kanilang gitarista.  Hindi ko talaga alam kung anong masasabi ko sa kuwentong ito.  Hindi naman ito horror story, at least, hindi yung horror na kilala natin.  Siguro ay ipinakikita sa kuwentong ito ang tunay na horror ng buhay, mga problema at hirap na kailangang harapin ng tao sa mundong ito kasama na ang pagkawala ng isang mahal sa buhay.

All in all, masasabi kong medyo misleading ang paglalagay ng subtitle na 4 Novellas of Horror (dapat siguro ay Sex, Drugs, and Alcohol na lamang ang inilagay).  Although narito ang mga bampira, manananggal, kapre at kung anu-ano pa, hindi naman sila ang sentro ng kuwento.  Para bang extra lamang sila at kung aalisin mo sila at palitan ng mga pangkaraniwang tao, walang magbabago sa istorya.  Mas ipinakita rito ang mga kadiliman na nasa puso ng tao at sa mga katatakutan na kinakaharap natin sa totoong buhay.  With 183 pages, masasabi kong masyado itong maiksi.  Hindi ko alam kung sinadya ba ito ng awtor o ito ay isang limitasyon ng mga publishers dito sa atin.

Magugustuhan ang librong ito ng mga young adults, lalo na yung mga college students.  Pwedeng-pwede nila itong gawing subject sa discussion sa klase o kaya naman ay gawing thesis.  Pwedeng-pwede itong pagdebatihan ng mga cum laude.  Ano ba ang sinisimbolo ng Angelorio?  ng kerubin? ng manananggal?  Ano ba ang ibig sabihin ng Afterword?

Kung gusto niyo namang matakot at ma-entertain, nandiyan naman ang True Philippine Ghost Stories.
Overall Rating: 2.5 Stars

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


It's not every day you get to sit down and interview a Bond Villainess (from Die Another Day). Rachel Padua Grant -- actor, model, martial artist, Fright Night presenter, Angelina Jolie's Tomb Raider body double, charitable causes diplomat and all around perky adventurer -- is one awesome half-Brit, half-Pinoy gal.

Cheers, Rachel.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Gonzo Army is honored to play at the local goth scene's annual Hallowe'en Ball. Us spook you long time.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Love the Muppets! Better living through pseudo-science with Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker. So who you gonna call?


Back in August I delivered this speech in front of a crowd of UST communication majors with the rest of the Visprint authors for promotional purposes in line with my new book News of the Shaman. This is where a student asked me the "JAWS question."*

 Thank you to the Thomasian Writers’ Guild, UST’s Faculty of Arts and Letters, The Varsitarian, Visprint Enterprises and the other awesome authors. And you guys for coming down to hear us natter on about scribbled stuff.

When I was a kid growing up in the ghetto of Novaliches the water would only flow from the tap at intervals. Usually it came on early morning and late afternoons.

So I had this daily grind of filling up several buckets of water for our family’s daily use at around 6AM. I did this before I used the water to take a bath myself and prepare for school.

Eventually this routine became my space for daily meditation. A Zen time to muse and dream and make-up stories in that state between the daze of just having woken up and still trying to get in control of your senses.

Eventually the bathroom became a place for me to think out things. Stuff. Knots. Girls.

Over the years I’ve been in worst places trying to iron out plot points (very odd, little odd, extremely odd) but filling up a bucket with water with a pail, especially if it’s a very big pail, NEVER fails to put me in a contemplative Zen mood.

Today, the water from the faucet was black. Probably from some fluke of cloud seeding up at the dam or probably some secret experimental serum designed to make me and my neighbors the first official bio-engineered mutants in the country.

I tell you, it took a lot of courage for me to take a bath today. 

*   *   *
Anyway, this black water got me to thinking about horror stories. And how important a role they’ve played in the choices I’ve made both as an individual and a fictionist. And how it all came to be in the book that Visprint has just released. I can’t tell you how many times reading and writing stories of dread, fright and terror have saved me from a self-destructive abyss.

What I CAN tell you is that we tell stories in psychic self-defense because all sensation is already memory.

Many of my colleagues say journalism is a gun. If journalism is a gun then horror is the serrated knife of fiction that can be used as surgically precise as a scalpel or as brutal as a bucher’s hack.

Horror is the only genre that’s named after an emotion. Horror is the attempt to keep us from forgetting sensation, to enshrine all that intensity in memory before the wind blows it away. It’s the fiction equivalent of a shock and awe campaign.

Nothing but a display of SHEER power. Horror is a Blitzkrieg. Horror is a Brock Lesnar. Horror is the majesty of a millennia-old octopus god that eats planets.  

Sometimes you just gotta say “fuck subtlety.”

*   *   *
In Japan they have a rite of passage for being brave. It’s called kimodameshe. It’s literally translated as “test of guts.” These tests can range from staying overnight at a haunted house or enduring a hazing of a 2x4 plank. Usually it’s the teenagers go for the haunted house. They even have theme parks especially built for it. You can even get a group discount.

Why do we Pinoys have nothing like that? I think maybe getting into your first brawl or your first unwanted pregnancy are probably the things that come close. Anyway, why DO the Japanese do it?

The experience of kimodameshe returns us to the primal experience of living in caves, curled up like bitches dreading the dark and the things that live in the dark who want to eat us. Or worse. 

It is a HUMBLING experience. It is also a THERAPEUTIC experience.

It returns us to the fact of our primal being. That behind you stands a long line of people who have experienced the very same thing and lived to tell the tale. As a corollary it sends a message to the depths of your being that if you DO survive this then you CAN certainly tackle future challenges. TOUGHER ONES

Half of the fun of horror stories is the schadenfreude of it. Schadenfreude =  pleasure at the misery of others. I mean, let’s face it, the heroes in horror stories are in really bad situations.

So you, the reader, can go say: Thank God I’m not possessed by the Devil (Exorcist)! Thank God I’m not being chased by a haunted car (Carrie)! Thank God the dead stay dead in the real world (any number of zombie films)!

If you haven’t noticed, horror is also highly educational. Where else do they teach you how to survive a zombie apocalypse? Or what kind of gear to pack for a righteous exorcism? WAIT, OR DO THEY TEACH THAT AT UST?  

Horror not only lets us resist the psychological drought that comes from having a lack of stories, it also arms us with the weapons to heal ourselves with an inoculation of terror in manageable doses.

It’s like those miraculous concoctions or snake oil that travelling medicine men use as a cure-all. I imagine this liquid thing as black and neutrally scented. Like the water that flowed out of my tap today.

For me, yes, horror is a kind of mental snake oil. It may not taste good but it sure gives you the confidence to charge the zombie horde at your doorstep with a machete. Screaming all the way.

Often, that’s all it takes to survive the horrors of the 21st century. The catastrophe of 9/11 and our drowned city. The sudden outbursts of political violence. A new President. Magunidanao.      

Sometimes. With all that. I often think it’s a miracle we’re sane at all.

 *   *   *
Which brings us to my new book. NEWS OF THE SHAMAN. Wow. Five years waiting in its Pandora’s box to be released into the wild and shake hands with you bright, young, ghoulish, Dominican-educated minds.

The biggest themes in this book I think are heartache and loss. For some characters it’s the loss of a friend and comrade that drives them to do things they can’t fully explain even to themselves.

For some it’s the heartache of discovery, and yearning for more of that mystery only glimpsed that becomes their motivation. For some it’s the loss of faith in your fellow man. For some it’s the loss of God.

At the core of each story is a return to a primal state of the human condition. And how that can either destroy or heal them.  

Again, without stories there is only psychic drought. With NEWS OF THE SHAMAN I hope those of you who pick it up find your way back to that primal state of mystery and grandeur and terror. Find your own kimodameshe. Find your own salvation in the sea of darkness.

The shaman bears good news for all of us.  

But only if you have the courage to drink the snake oil and follow him into the void.

Somewhere in there is the key to an infinite, obsidian wisdom.

Or more likely you’ll find a huge and hairy beast bent on devouring your brains and guts.

The shaman will be with us either way. Thank you.

*THE JAWS QUESTION: "Sir, when JAWS the movie came out tourism in Australia took an all time low. When is horror going to be held accountable for all the damage it's inflicted on the minds of its viewers and readers?" (or words to that effect. i kid you not)

Saturday, October 2, 2010


First chanced on the term Taqwacore in a Rolling Stone piece. Then saw Mike Muhammad Knight's book at a local bookstore. Well, now there's a documentary on them. Bands, a book, a SXSW film and a US inter-state tour. I'd say that qualifies as a bonafide movement.

Wonder if this has reached our young Manila muslims? Hmmm, that's the makings of an interesting investigation there. Makes my journalistic balls go all tingly. TAQWA = consciousness of God

Check out The Kominas' "Sharia Law in the USA" below! I am an Islamist / I am an anti-christ ftw


TAQWACORE documentary trailer

On Mike Muhammad Knight (Taqwacore author)

The Kominas (Iggy Pop would be proud, I think)