Sakai Diary: Young skinpounders seek global stage

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SAKAI CITY, Japan — We heard it the moment we entered the building—a faraway rumbling like distant thunder. The sound—a rhythmic badum badum badum—grew louder as we walked through the snaking corridors of the Mihara Bunka Kaikan, a nondescript theater in the heart of this city in the Osaka prefecture. There was something urgent about the beat, like it was enjoining us to hurry on toward it.

So we did.

By the time we reached the source of the sound, some members of the Japanese drum ensemble Wadaiko Miyako were already deep into practice, furiously pounding away on taikos (drums) of various sizes, creating a seismic sonic assault so powerful and massive it shook us —visiting journalists from ASEAN countries—out of our Saturday morning lethargy.

“We don’t usually practice on Saturdays,” Gaku Yano, the group’s 61-year-old mentor, told the foreign guests through an interpreter. “We practice on Wednesdays and Sundays, but today you are our special audience.”

That group was also rehearsing for Sunday, when they were scheduled to headline the Sakai ASEAN Week Cultural Festival, a morning-to-afternoon show outside the Hotel Agora Regency Sakai that showcased cultural song and dance performances from participating ASEAN countries, including the Philippines.

But the 10 young members of the Wadaiko Miyako—including one who, at the time of the interview, was visibly pregnant—were looking beyond Sakai and Sunday.

“It would be an honor to perform overseas someday,” said the group’s 29-year-old leader Haze Shote, taking a break from the rehearsal to chat with the foreign visitors. Although the group is primarily based in Sakai, they have stirred enough buzz to land them out-of-the-city gigs.

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Holy Week reflections (sort of)

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Done with my Holy Wednesday shift, which means it’s the end of the workweek for me and many others. Although I still have to clock in my nine hours on Good Friday (because we at the news business have no real breaks, yo), it will be from home, so no biggie. I picture myself on our balcony, the netbook in front of me, perhaps a tall glass of orange juice beside it, fucking around the Internet more than working. Unless something big happened, of course. God forbid the president chokes on a fish bone that day and be rushed to the ICU.

On Maundy Thursday, however, I chill. TV, books, bike rides. Except for quality time with my girls, all are existential pleasures. So the question: How to attain such near-bliss — if not total bliss — on a spiritual level? The Adam Yauch tribute in Rolling Stone, which I had the pleasure of reading yesterday over lunch, seems to hint it’s by taking the Buddhist path (many Kerouac books also say the same thing). Henry Miller in The Air-Conditioned Nightmare suggests it’s by abandoning the city (and all the things it stands for) to the simplicity and beauty of the countryside. I see their point, and I believe them; I just don’t have the balls for such life-altering adventures for now.

For the meantime, I listen to Lux’s “Northern Lights” and daydream about the ocean.

Sunset photo here.

Friday madness

Banchetto in Cubao: Outdoor sex party for foodies.

Here’s how awesome my Friday was:

  • Heavy traffic along Katipunan Ave. and in Cubao area on my way to work,
  • ATM card got blocked because I entered the wrong PIN thrice,
  • Long line at the MRT-Cubao station because of shortage of magnetic tickets,
  • MRT not selling stored value tickets because of said shortage of magnetic tickets,
  • None of my friends were available for some late-night drinks (the bastards!),
  • All the bars in Cubao were full and I couldn’t find a place to sit, drink, and celebrate the death of another work week,
  • People, people everywhere, all shapes and sizes and smell,
  • Long line of passengers at the FX terminal even at 10 p.m.
  • Big fat dude who sat beside me inside the FX thought I was his Uratex bed or something,
  • Heavy traffic along Katipunan Ave. and in Cubao area on my way home, and
  • Got soaked in the rain in Antipolo

The reasons: it was Payday Friday, the whole Philippines was having a three-day sale, traffic enforcers disappeared as soon as the sun went down, the entire Katipunan stretch became a car park for rich freaks getting wasted in the bars there, and the fact that this country is just so fucking overpopulated!

There. Glad to get that out of my system…

Ocean reunion

So how’s being a bum so far? Sad, of course, as I am not used to feeling worthless. The feeling is strongest during the day when I’m alone at home. If not for the so-called Coronovela on TV and music and “A Feast for Crows,” I’d surely go bonkers (or more bonkers than I already am). But at least the urge to smoke is not there, unlike in the past three weeks when I was puffing more than half a pack a day. A TB survivor like me should not be smoking.

(For the record, I have two pending job applications, and both seem promising, I can feel it in my guts. Hopefully my phone will ring with good news before the month ends.)

Today I sold a story to Catholic news site UCANews.com. That made my day. I thank my former editor, Mr. Joe Torres, for the opportunity to be a journalist again.

Meanwhile, a picture of me and the ocean, taken last May 12, a day before Mothers’ Day, in Calatagan, Batangas.

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