All you need is love

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By Angelique Manalad

(Fudge Magazine Feb-March 2009 issue, p.61)

“Madaming issues.” Guitarist Ean Aguila declares with a telling laugh that only someone who survived all the bull*ts can. Drummer Zig Zabara and keyboardist Heidi confirms how pathetic the whole situation became. The two were referring to guitarist Joe Fontanilla’s schedule at the callcenter he worked at. Priorities came into question. Someone left the group, the band says without pointing out who. It got so bad they say that at one point vocalist Owel Alvero and Zig had to play a gig by themselves. That was in 2003, the band has since gotten over their “issues,” and now fully commit to making it work.

This meant getting a few more like-minded souls to the gold. Fortuitous circumstances led to vocalist Selena Salang singing tracks that required a female voice, and Jing Gaddi doing bass for the now fully armed Ang Bandang Shirley, whose name is taken from the an Eraserhead song called “Shirley.”

The making of their debut album, Themesongs, is of course not without its stories. Created in the appropriately named Love One Another studio owned by Joey Santos, (appropriate because the 11-track album is all about love), the recording process was fun and easy. Band manager Kathy Gener shares, “Sobrang masaya kasi don. Ang ganda nung atmosphere, parang ‘di professional studio pero professional sya. Pero yung vibe na parang laid back tapos they’d let you do kung ano man gusto mo. Saka malapit sya sa masasarap na kainan, mga food establishments. Sobrang malaking part yun. Kaya nag-enjoy kami.”

“Food! Importante yun.” Zig and the rest of the band said in unison. They bond over food and they take things lightly, which is a good way to handle the not so positive reaction from their work. While getting exposure with their song “Sa madaling salita” being included in the soundtrack of the indie movie Endo, the band also opened themselves up for harsh criticism. Selena explains, “May nababaduyan sa video pero okay lang naman…kasi ganon naman, you can’t please everybody. Ang pinakaimportante naman dyan yung sarili namin, sobrang saya namin. We’ll just keep on doing what we want to do.”

But along with the disapproval comes the adoration. From the appreciation they get at their live performances to album sales. Ang Bandang Shirley is being rewarded with oodles of love. Zig opens up “Sobrang nakakataba ng puso, saka yung fact na may naka-relate sa music namin e nakaka-flatter. Tapos mabenta daw yung album sa mga stores sabi ng mga tindera chinichika namen sila e. Nakakatawa rin yun kasi may sumusuporta.”

Selena adds, “We generally like each other as people. Pero feeling ko swak kasi kami like intellectually, (we have a similar) sense of humor wise. We all get along.” Though still busy with different day jobs, the band promotes their album in the market and tours all over the country in different malls and venues. Material-wise they feel that a second album is just around the corner, as they have numerous songs that are ready to be recorded. So all you Shirley fans, get ready for some loving from the band. You know you want it.

My Myx, Your Myx, Everybody Myx!

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By Angelique Manalad

(Fudge Magazine Feb-March 2009 issue p.66)

The annual event presented by Myx dubbed as Myx Mo, was a night of good music, sweat, shouts, possible brawl and everything you could ask for in a rockin’ big concert. But it’s a different world backstage. A night of bonding, catching up and that nerve-wracking feeling of performing in front of that crowd who will either love you or hate you.

More than 50 artists and bands performed for the night in SM Mall of Asia’s concert grounds, newbies and legends sharing the same stage—strictly, OPM at its best. Mr. Pure Energy Gary Valenciano, celebrating his 25th year in the business, wowed the crowd with his singing prowess and dance moves that proves that with age comes greatness.

Yeng Constantino was excited as she is invited for the first time to perform with other artists she looks up to and really live that dream. “This year natuwa ako kasi nakasama ko, kasi nagkaroon ako ng chance makasama yung mga paborito ko ring mga artists like Sandwich, si Kuya Raimund Marasigan, specifically sya sobrang idol ko kasi yun. Ang saya kasi parte ako nito. Isang gabing puno ng musika.”

As the event’s title suggested it’s everyone’s mix of music. Opening the night’s grand show is our pride Charice Pempengco who sang our national anthem with her diva voice praised by Celine Dion herself. Smiling at everyone, Cherisse finishes her song and as she made her exit in the side, triumphantly saying “Tapos na!” Then off to cater to the rest of media eager to ask her questions and take her picture. For some, it’s their first night out in such a big crowd once again, “It’s a nice feeling. I’ve been away for some time; it’s great to see the fans again and the music bands.” Rico Blanco shares. While, Ely Buendia with his band Pupil, performed in tiptop shape.

The backstage is full of buzz among artists, press people, die-hard fans who scored the SVIP passes, sponsors and of course Myx staffers. While the crowd outside is busy waiting for the next performer, the musicians are busy waiting for their turn in the constraints of their own conversations with other artists. “It’s always nice to be a part ng Myx Mo kasi para syang family reunion ng lahat ng artists. Napaka-rare, siguro mga twice or thrice a year lang magkaroon ng event na ganito na lahat ng artist sama-sama; hanging out backstage, trying to find a quiet spot kung saan pwede mag-bond, tumahimik at mag-enjoy lang.” Parokya ni Edgar’s Chito Miranda shares.

Presenting their new song, Kjwan was excited and happy to perform and be a part of the line-up for the night. “Myx Mo is different. The crowd that this thing draws is different. It’s good to play with these musicians. I mean there’s not just one kind of music, it’s all kind of music. It’s OPM at its prime. It’s always an honor to perform here.” Vocalist Marc Abaya imparts.

Wendell Ramos of Pupil and Archipelago, who also lend his skill to Spongecola for the event, is in awe with the young bands he witnessed amid the physical exhaustion of playing the drums for three bands during the occasion. “Sobrang proud ako. Ang daming magaling na musikero sa’tin talaga. Yung mga batang banda kanina, sobrang todo at ang gagaling. Hopefully, sana walang masaktan ngayon. Wala pa kong tulog, pero for the love of music kahit may sakit ako, tutugtog ako.”

With such high energy and the spirit of brotherhood among fellow musicians and music lovers, the event was declared a success. No mixed feelings about that.

Gram rock

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By Angelique Manalad

(Fudge Magazine Feb-March Issue, p.3)

Diamonds are purely made of carbon and the hardest mineral in earth. But that’s not enough for man. We simply must determine its worth by means of a price tag, and thus, the 4Cs: carat, clarity, color and cut. “Finding the best diamond for your money is a delicate balancing act among the 4Cs. For example, you may have to choose a lower Carat weight in order to find a diamond with better Clarity for the budget you’ve set. Or you may decide to trade a slightly lower Color grade in order to get a stone with a better Cut and so on,” says Tricie Mojica, general manager of Just Jewels.

Well, they would know, right? So for Valentine’s Day or any other special occasion that calls for that added sparkle, one would do well to splurge on jewelry—a sound investment in this day and age. But oh the burden of buying is one that we can never take lightly. Thankfully, Just Jewels offers the hardworking man a solution.

Pioneering the “by the gram” concept of selling jewelry here in the country. In this kind of trade, the jewelry is weighted in order to determine its price. Adapted from the famous jewelry stores in New York’s 47th Street, this customer-friendly set-up makes fine jewels practically more accessible , and giving these high-value items as a gift or token of your intention becomes a little less trauma indeed. Now the hard part begins—setting the stage to pop the question. That’s up to you, boy.

Just Jewels has branches at SM Megamall, Glorietta 4, Festival Supermall, SM Mall of Asia, SM City Manila. SM Southmall, SM City Cebu, and Ayala Cebu. Visit their website at http://www.justjewels.com.ph

bloomfields (christmas album review)

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http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2008/dec/23/yehey/life/20081223lif3.html

There’s something blooming this Christmas

‘Pasko Natin ‘To’ by the Bloomfields

By Angelique P. Manalad, Contributor

Wanting to deliver a more Filipino-flavored Christmas album, The Bloomfields offers their second album “Pasko Natin ‘To” as their gift for everyone this Yuletide season. With 10 tracks to ensure everyone a warm feeling to share the band gives it with their signature happy melodies.

Composed of Jay Jay Lozano, Louie Poco, Pepe Lozano, Lakan Hila and Rocky Collado; Bloomfields released a self-titled album in 2007. They were encouraged to do a Christmas compilation as they all love the season and really aim to continue making merry tunes for everyone.

Their album title and carrier song as well Pasko Natin ‘To is an original composition of Jay Jay Lozano which he wrote for an ex-girlfriend. Nonetheless it’s guaranteed that everyone can relate to it. Talk about spreading the cheers to everybody and longing for togetherness.

The band starts and ends the album with an a cappella of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas with remakes from The Beach Boys’ Santa’s Beard, Someday at Christmas by Stevie Wonder and Perry Como’s It’s beginning to look like Christmas. They also included their own versions of local Christmas classics like Tuloy na Tuloy ang Pasko and Apo Hiking Society’s Himig Pasko.

Although two songs which are Ikaw ang Musika and Put a Smile on your Face were not Christmas themed, they’ve added it all the same as it is still gives that fluttery happy feeling that you wouldn’t even notice it.

The band is proud to say how they’ve accomplished the album in a short period of time. They’ve enjoyed doing it and hope that everyone will enjoy it as well. Bloomfields hopes that you’d accept their treat this season for you and for your family for all those gatherings that we Filipinos surely love during Christmas.

Checkin’ out Check

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By Angelique Manalad

(unedited copy of the article from FUDGE Magazines Dec-Jan ’09 issue)

Four childhood friends, Jim Pangan (vocals), Cheiy Alanes (guitars), Roy Ordonio (guitars) and Ode Tolato (bass) decided to experiment on music on 2003, as one member left, they found their buddy Jarwin Javier (drums) to complete the missing piece and finally, they are ready, all set and ready to conquer the music scene.

They first decided to call themselves as Check Experiment as the name itself describes what the five friends were doing, mainly checking and experimenting their musical prowess. But they settled to drop the experiment and went for the more catchy and easy to remember Check.

Admittedly the band was used to playing pure funk music, but as they wanted to expand their musical horizon and cater to a larger audience, they decided to infuse alternative pop rock to their music. Like most of the bands today, they are heavily influenced by Eraserheads, Rivermaya, Incubus, The Script, Dashboard Confessional and other artists both local and foreign who sing right from their heart.

In a country where talented bands are born almost everyday, Check struggled like the rest who started in the underground arena, where unsigned bands are huddled together in their quest to be heard. They’ve experienced those grueling hours of waiting to perform but it will be just them and the other last bands as the crowd themselves, the unpaid gigs that they attend to just because they love doing it and those hours of contemplating if they will ever be able to make it big.

Lucky for Check, they scored Angee Rozul to produce their album, have Joel Ellorin as manager; same guy behind Kjwan, and have a record deal with Sony BMG. What more can a band ask for right? But it’s not all pure luck, the band worked hard to showcase and prove their worth to get all these big names and people to listen and give them a chance.

This year, Check came out with their debut and self-titled album containing 10 tracks mostly penned by Jim who said, “Gusto naming iparating sa kanila (listeners) na yung music namin hindi rin kaiba dun sa mga mahal nilang banda ngayon sa industriya. Gusto lang naming sabihin sa kanila na marami pang bagong bandang sisikat na magugustuhan nyo din tulad namin. Yun yung message nung album namin.”

As their manager puts it, a band should possess three qualities for them to survive in the industry: discipline, compromise and hard work. And so far, the group didn’t fail to check each of these traits. They see their ability to adapt to their listeners’ wants is an asset for the band, as music is a communication other than expression. Their strong friendship also makes them unbreakable when problems arise for the band and facing it like a normal barkada will do, laugh at it and then think of a way to solve it.

Right now, Check is busy with pushing their album through radio tours and performing in events like the 2008 MTV Music Summit but never fails to still have a good time and even squeeze in between that DOTA addiction and basketball games. As children they dreamed, and now they’ve made it real.

Talkin’ to the new girl of 90210

key-art-90210-cast1(unedited copy of article taken from Fudge Magazine’s Dec-Jan ’09 issue)

By Angelique Manalad

Tagged as Hollywood’s Next Big Thing after landing the lead role in 90210, the spin-off of the hit teen drama of the 90s, Shenae Grimes found herself in the middle of pressure, hype and the ever conspicuous eye of the US media.

Although not new to acting, as she already achieved minor-league fame with her starring role as Darcy on the Toronto-based teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation, there was something about playing in 90210 that makes her feel that everything is still too far-fetched to be happening to her.

As the Executive producer Gace Sachs said, “It’s going to be a contemporary version of the original, there were so many kids who were addicted to the original and are now adults. We are going to make this about the kids today. It’s going to be sexier, a bit controversial and it has a harder edge this time.

90210 also give way to the much-awaited reunion of former Beverly Hills, 90210 stars Jennie Garth and Shannen Doherty. Many devotees of the show will definitely enjoy watching them reunite as they resume their roles as Kelly Taylor and Brenda Walsh.

The story focuses on the life of the Wilson family with Shenae playing the part of Annie Wilson. The family moved to Beverly Hills in order to look after Annie’s grandmother played by Jessica Walters, forcing her to abandon her life back in Kansas and face a new school where her dad was accepted as the principal. Problems arose as they entered West Beverly High, Annie and her adopted brother Dixon meets their new classmates.

In an exclusive interview with Shenae we were able to ask her the feeling of a 19-year-old girl living in the spotlight under the sought after zipcode.

What do you enjoy most about playing Annie Wilson?

Shenae Grimes: I think my favorite part is Annie’s relationship with her family. The Wilson clan is a very tight and that’s so refreshing to see on TV. They are a family who really gets along, really leans on each other and tell each other their secrets. And that is so rare these days. I feel like teenagers get so disconnected from their mums and dads because they are too concerned with their high school lives. But the Wilson kids always retreat back to their parents at the end of the day, which is so nice to see. I love Rob Estes (Melrose Place) and Lori Loughlin (Full House), who play my parents. And Jessica Walter (Arrested Development), who plays my grandmother, is the most hilarious woman on the planet! Any scene with her is a good time.

How much is Shenae Grimes like Annie Wilson? What do you two have in common?

Annie and I are different in terms of our interests and style. But at the root of it, we are very similar. We both come from a grounded point of view so we’re not easily swayed by the materialistic world. As for high school, I did that a while ago and Annie is currently dealing with the things I overcame during that time.

You had your first taste of fame playing Darcy Edwards on Degrassi: The Next Generation. Which character do you prefer – Darcy or Annie?

I think they have a lot of similarities. The character that I played on Degrassi was also a sweet, wholesome girl who struggled with the peer pressure of high school. But the storylines in Degrassi were much more extreme. In a way, it was more challenging for an actor because the issues were so outlandish. But I think Annie is much more fun because she’s more real. She doesn’t waiver as easily to peer pressure.

What can you tell us about your other co-stars?

Lori and Rob have become quasi parents to me. They are always there whenever I need to talk about something. They are always helping me out and getting advice. They have made it a priority to watch out for me because I don’t have my family out here. I’m a young girl away from home for the first time. I lucked out so much with my cast. They are unbelievable. Dustin [Milligan] is such a comedian; I’m always admiring his wit and charm. Tristan [Wilds] is a phenomenal musician, which is something not a lot of people know. I am constantly in awe of his writing, poetry, lyrics and voice. Ryan [Matthews] is a brilliant actor and Jess [Stroup] is just so cool! She knows a million things about fashion and music and is just so in-tune with everything that’s going on in pop culture. I am constantly trying to soak up tips from her on music and bands. It was so awesome working with original cast members Jennie Garth and Shannen Doherty! I’ve worked with them for months now so they are just Jennie and Shannen to me, but it’s still weird. I have these moments when I look over and say, ‘Wow, she’s the original Brenda, and that’s Kelly Taylor!’ I was a fan of the original so it’s a big deal. They went through all of this 15 years ago, so they can tell us how to deal with it. We really all look to them for advice on how to handle everything that is coming our way. We are definitely handling it better with their help.

Did you know any of them before you met on set?

We first met each other at a Malibu mansion after we had been cast. Actually Tristan had just got the part that day, so it was crazy! You really only have each other to lean on so we bonded really quickly. Obviously we turn to our family and friends, but no one else is going through the mayhem that we are right now. There’s no time for cattiness or anything like that because we are so dependent on each other.

Who are you closest to in the cast?

Jessica Stroup is my girl. We met at the screen test before either one of us were cast and exchanged numbers. We were actually testing for the same part. I was trying for Silver and Annie so we were competing against each other, but we totally hit if off from day one! We just celebrated our birthdays together. We are new to this Hollywood thing so we spend days together on the couch just chatting about how crazy everything is. And Tristan is my on-screen brother. A hug from him calms me down. He’s the one person who can tell when I’m stressed and can take me out of whatever I’m feeling and just calm me down.

What have been the best parts about the shoot so far?

The most memorable moments are the birthday celebrations. We always do fun things. For Tristan’s birthday, Dustin decorated [Tristan’s] trailer with girly My Little Pony decorations. It was hilarious and Tristan kept them up for way too long! For AnnaLynne’s birthday, we made her a pyramid of these chicken burgers that she’s obsessed with, stuck candles in them and presented them to her like a birthday cake. Then there have been times when we’ve had to pull all-nighters and [by the end of it] we’re delusional and don’t remember our names anymore. But that’s when we just start joking around to try to keep each other awake.

Catch 90201 every Tuesday at 9pm on STAR WORLD & 10pm on CHANNEL [V].

Menaya’s new-found sound

0_30961The Worst News is definitely NOT the worst

By Angelique Manalad

(Unedited copy of article from FUDGE Magazine November 2008 issue)

The launch of their new album entitled The Worst News signaled Menaya’s resurrection back to the music scene after their three-year break, promising a new sound guarantee to astound with reverberating drumbeats, different guitar riffs and captivating vocals. Its first single Safer had occupied the no.1 spot at NU 107’s countdown, Stairway to Seven for a number of weeks.

A new line-up is introduced with Mike Bacalzo tasked to handle the guitars, Sherwyn Olivar being the bassist and Hepe Lavador striking the drums join vocalist Brian Sombero. Both Wena Velasco and Julius Masibay, their former drummer and bassist, have to go abroad for different reasons and leave the band.

The new sound

The band strongly affirms the big difference that their new album has from their first one released in 2004 which was entitled Run. “As the line-up changed, our sound was anticipated to be different. We have our individual influences and backgrounds that will result to a different music than how Menaya sounded before.” Mike explained.

“That was the first album and the time that we were just finding ourselves. I almost forgotten about it, this is how we sound now with my new bandmates. Change is inevitable in music, everyone matures.” Brian shares as the sole original member of Menaya.

The difference

We are all used to stories of bands forming out of college buddies and friends but with them it was different. “Sa’men kasi baligtad. Talagang nabuo kasi gusto tumugtog then saka lang nag-bonding at naging friends.” Hepe said. Brian met everyone from his other friends and connections and asked if they’d like to join him with be part of a band, coming from different other professions everyone agreed for the love of music.

“No one can really earn that much from music, at least here in our country, with different factors affecting the industry such as piracy and poverty… But we’re doing this because we love this. This is our passion and our hobby. This is what I advice to the youth today, kesa mag-drugs o kung ano pang bisyo, this is a better outlet for us.” Brian states.

When asked if they see their different way of becoming a band, a weak point for them, they all immediately shook their heads saying, “Hindi din naman sa tagal ng pagsasama yun, kahit yung iba naman na sobrang tagal na naghihiwalay din. It’s how you are as band and how committed you are to your music.”

The worst and the words

With the new sound comes the new criticism, as their sound evolved some as expectedly couldn’t help raising their brows even labeling them as posers at times. “Kasama na yun e. But we can really take it as a compliment, nakaka-flatter pa nga e. They are listening, they are noticing and so far we haven’t heard any negative feedbacks with the songs from the new album. As with the new sound they have to accept that this is how we are now.”

Songs from their sophomore release was written by Brian Sombero and Karen de la Cruz who admitted that it’s born out of spontaneity of different moments. “I always had the theme in mind already but couldn’t find the words right away. When I am singing on stage I sometimes became gibberish as I was still looking for the words that will fit the rhythm I was playing. Karen helped me as we recorded the performances and supplied the lyrics to fit each song.” Brian shared.

The future

The band is hoping not for the worst of course, and set their minds to continue what they’re doing which is juggling their passion for music and attending their own day-jobs as well. The music video of Safer already hit the music channels, which boasts of its impressive graphics and effects and of being shot entirely underwater.

This December, the band set their eyes on sharing the stage with Ogie Alcasid himself and Ramiel Malubay from American Idol in a show which TheUnderGround Studio aims to produce next after the band’s second album.

Menaya—though encountered a lot of changes as a band—promises to keep their supporters, old and new, a dose of the best news from now on.