Poblacion, Makati, Manila 4/23/17
Poblacion, Makati, Manila 4/23/17
My buddies in the band Subculture played a Sepultura tribute show at B-Side and I tagged along, quite happy that I would finally have a chance to shoot a band with my Fujifilm X-T2. When I arrived there, I saw the bands were setting up to play in an area that had zero lighting – just the ambient lighting from the surrounding bars and the almost-full moon above. But I was there, I had the camera with me, I bit my lip and got on with it. Everything was shot with the Fujifilm XF 23mm F2.0 lens, most shots were at ISO 10,000.
Part One – Manila Taxi Drivers Suck
Saturday night I wanted to go out and find some bands to shoot with my new camera. I was talking to an American friend and he said he’d come with if we went to the Hard Rock. Since drinking would be involved, we both left our cars at home and took a Grab over to Makati.
We got to the Hard Rock waaaayyyyy too early. It was 7:30, there was practically no one else there, they told us the bands don’t start till after 9:30. We sat in the bar and had dinner and then it was 8:00 and still time to kill so we went for a walk – Cafe Havana where we had some drinks and admired the view, then Spicy Fingers, and then back to Hard Rock. It was boring cover band night, I kept hoping for something better, but by the time the band on stage decided to torture us with Toto, I said it was time to leave.
It’s been a crazy couple of weeks and I’ve been meaning to write an update but I’ve just been that busy. I was in Hong Kong for 8 days and meant to write something about that but the time has eluded me. Also the company I work for has been bought and it’s not immediately clear what that means for my future.
Anyway, last month, I was a little bit late in paying bills – sheer laziness, no other reason. I paid my monthly PLDT bill a couple of days after the due date. But here’s the thing – it was due on a Thursday, I paid it on Saturday, the payment registered on their system on Monday, and then they still cut my service on Tuesday because essentially their systems are so fucking shitmongous that they couldn’t cross-process the information on time.
BPI. Bank of the Philippine Islands. They’re the only bank I deal with here, as they’re the ones with my mortgage. They make dealing with HSBC back in Hong Kong seem like nirvana by comparison.
Go into any branch any time of day for any transaction that requires a teller and you are guaranteed to be there for an hour. Their ATM machines are filthy and prone to outages.
I’m up late tonight and want to pay bills online but I can’t because their website is down. You can get to the home page but you can’t log in.
It is 5:39 AM as I start writing this post. I’ve been up since 3 AM. There are several reasons for this.
I’ve started taking a medication called Champix, which is supposed to help one quit smoking by somehow reducing the, um, enjoyment one gets from a cigarette and from nicotine. Actually I’d started taking it in November but went off it when my mother died. I’d felt it starting to work and always intended to give it another try and started with it again last week. One of the common side effects is insomnia, which I’ve got. Another is very vivid dreams, which I’ve got. One rare side effect apparently is suicidal thoughts, which so far I don’t have.
I need distractions. I’m so horrified by the events in the U.S. during the past ten days but I don’t know what to say about them, what to add to the discussion. I need distractions.
Friends from Hong Kong (American husband, Filipino wife) have a house in Angeles. We drove up there for the weekend. The drive itself is quite okay – well it’s roughly 60 miles but takes almost 2-1/2 hours if you drive straight through. The NLEX highway has plenty of American-style rest stops – the larger ones not only have gas stations but also have 15 or 20 fast food chains. The ones on the drive south also feature outlet stores from Nike, Adidas and others, crafts shops, even a shop selling ATV’s.
Yeah. More bitching and moaning. But a lot of you seem to enjoy it!
When you are a foreign resident here, you are required to show up in person at the Bureau of Immigration every January to prove you are still alive and in the Philippines. You can fill out the relevant form for this online but you are still required to make an appearance. I get the feeling it is one of those “we make you do it because we can” things.
The main office of the BI is in Intramuros. It is just 14 miles from where I live but it takes longer to drive there than it does to fly from Manila to Hong Kong. The BI website lists an office in Makati. I tried to contact that office based upon the information available on their web site – I tried calling but the “main number” rings over to a fax machine and an email I sent to them was returned as undeliverable. This is a common factor with Philippines government web sites – unreliable, confusing and/or missing information.
January 14, 2017 – 100 bands, 5 stages for the OPM (Original Pilipino Music) Against Drugs Festival produced by Rakrakan. The 5 themed stages were Move, Indie, Groove, Mosh and Slam. (I won’t comment on the “Against Drugs” bit.)
My friends Tribo Subculture were one of the bands appearing on the Slam stage and they arranged an all-access pass for me. The festival kicked off around noon but I didn’t get there until around 10 PM or so, which gave me time to shoot some of the bands, wander around the crowd a bit, get some food, gaze at the “merch”, and of course enjoy the music that I heard.
I’m told that last year they had 24,000 people there and this year it was up to 35,000. Well, advance ticket prices were just P500 (that’s around US$10) and draft Red Horse Beer was just P50, so why wouldn’t you go if you could? The crowd was remarkably peaceful and friendly and I thought it was a great event.
I’m still working my way through the photos I shot but here are some of my favorites so far:
James Taylor was scheduled to do a concert in Manila on February 25, 2017. I wrote “was” because today his official twitter account announced the cancellation of that show. Here is his statement: