Music

Linkin Park: True Artists and Risk-Takers


Meteora, I thought that album was the last to represent the true talent, potential and passion of Linkin Park. The lyrics were personal, the music in your face and it was when they tried new methods, instruments and sounds without alienating what they built with Hybrid Theory. I thought Minutes to Midnight was the wrong move, and perhaps could’ve been avoided by going the direction of What I’ve Done instead of at least a third of the songs angering the fans, who accused them of selling out to a softer sound.

They never rebounded after that. A Thousand Suns deviated even more from their established sound, even when you take into account Minutes to Midnight. This was a concept album, more of an experiment, each song an eclectic mix of genres, from the obscure to the unthinkable for the Hybrid Theory/Meteora diehards. Living Things took some elements of those two albums but was more of a combination of all four previous ones, ending up with a futuristic-sounding record that honestly did sound like the modernized equivalent or at least a natural evolution from the two fan-favorites.

Then the epiphany came. The Hunting Party landed with a thud for many. Sales decreased, the singles weren’t popular, and there was a clear population that had a negative response to this attempt at making a Hybrid Theory prequel (one that played with the music that influenced that album). I tried to forget about it, and stopped listening to Guilty All the Same, Until It’s Gone and Final Masquerade. But somewhere along the path where Linkin Park switched to self-management, their albums were uploaded in complete form on their YouTube channel. The Hunting Party was too unique an album for an aging band to pass off another chance at redemption.

I gave it a try. And something mind-boggling happened: it grew on me. The songs I hated, I started appreciating from the perspective that this was the closest we might ever get to a true Meteora successor, and that this risky move to go back to a raw, stripped sound might have been possible only by their choice to self-manage.

I saw the poetic lyrics from the perspective of their backward recording process where they fill in the lyrics only after the song’s been made. It was only natural for them to be poetic, evolving into relevant topics like war and not teenage angst anymore. They’ve graduated from brooding rockstars to fathers that just happen to be artists that have no choice but to reinvent themselves to stay satisfied.

Going back to other underappreciated albums like Living Things, I noticed this trend that started in Meteora where a song or two provides contrast or a unique sound opposite the rest. Nobody’s Listening had these flutes (I guess) and also a hint of what’s to come with Fort Minor. Numb had a poppier sound that retained the NU metal feel that everyone loved. The Messenger was shocking in the way it was just an acoustic guitar and Chester’s moving voice giving you goosebumps. Roads Untravelled is another standout, a song I’ve never heard any other Linkin Park song be similar to.

Yet, none of these individual qualities can make a full album unique on its own. And that’s where the subject of being underrated artists comes in. It all started with Minutes to Midnight, where the softer songs were actually good, even great if they didn’t have the name Linkin Park attached to them. This Rap-Metal/NU Metal band can actually do alternative and soft music quite good (remember their top 10 hit, What I’ve Done?).

“But those aren’t even unique genres!” I know my high school self would’ve told me that. But few bands have the guts to do a 180 on half the successor to a career-defining album and have the talent to make hits out of it. You’d also think the new sound would be the new template for A Thousand Suns, but here’s when they threw everything away after a predecessor with a perfect, modern sound to riff on, just like The Hunting Party.

If you doubt Linkin Park’s artistry after the “emo” lyrics of yesteryear, I highly suggest you listen to A Thousand Suns. It’s free on YouTube along with their other albums. I remember one critic saying they might’ve invented a new genre with it. A concept album further deviating from the sound everyone wants them to adopt, I appreciate them doing that and following their gut.

You might have noticed by now that since Meteora every album they’ve churned out has had a different sound, even doing a 180 twice. And you know what? It’s not just the product of recording music where they seem underrated as artists, but in recent news Mike and Brad revealed they also did a 180 on their creative process, away from the backward one they’re used to.

I know, I just switched from being a hater of The Hunting Party to a diehard Linkin Park fan again, but sometimes it only takes an open mind and acceptance of the reality that bands are made of people too, and people change. It’s safe to expect every single one of them who follow their artistic desires to change at one point or the other, no matter how much money they want to earn from fans that want one, and only one sound. I hope you give Linkin Park another chance too, especially now that the next album is being worked on. It’s free and complete and contains some special content too, all on YouTube.

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Philippine Politics

If You Know Anyone Who Benefited During Martial Law


If you voted for Bongbong Marcos because Martial Law was like living a good life that you’ve missed since then, do remember that it was a specific sector of Philippine society. Yes, good things were done, but I urge you to remember that that is just half the picture and that you vote for your country and not your own pleasure or sector. 

But I guess it doesn’t matter if you’re alright with living the good life at the price of numerous deaths of innocents and the poor starving to death and having no choice but to commit crimes as well as billions of the money you and everyone else gave for the betterment of the Philippines being stolen and used to spoil the ruling family.

Some people are like that, but for the rest of us who care about our country and the lives of those less blessed than us this issue is significant. Even if it was overblown in textbooks and documentaries, the evidence proves these things. It speaks on so many levels when you dampen the stories but still end up having one of the worst times in Philippine history on your hands.

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Current Events, Philippine Politics

Duterte Debate: Why Aren’t Enough People in the Middle?


The country is split it seems, when it comes to Duterte and his demeanor and extrajudicial killings. Supporters love his authenticity and practicality. Criminals are evil and they deserve to be erased from our country no matter how many innocent lives are destroyed. Sometimes one has to experience great pain to reap the benefits of life, they say.

Those who oppose condemn the unjust killings of the accused. Human rights is the hot topic. Every person, no matter how evil, has rights that no one can take away. And his antics on TV? Those are words that don’t belong to a president’s mouth, and it might just be too risky to lash out at everyone that displeases you, especially when they can affect relationships with entire countries and organizations.

But why don’t more people inhabit the middle of the debate? Those who condemn him seem oblivious to his relatively productive performance since taking office. The corrupt are being exposed, rebels are now more than ever more hopeful of achieving peace with our military, and bills are being passed in a volume not seen since the twilight of Noynoy Aquino’s term. Missteps have come to be an expectation with Duterte, but at the very least he makes sure he is doing something in every opportunity.

His supporters, meanwhile, seem to have pledged an allegiance to him, fiercely defending him and leapfrogging universal and biblical truths while at it. They treat him as if he is family, or like he’s done tremendous things to their lives when in fact he’s just starting. The church doesn’t teach anyone to kill out of hatred, justice or vengeance. Even in the bible, God says not to kill, and even Jesus himself saved bigger sinners than what the police are killing now. You say the Bible is thousands of years old? Can you imagine significant literature like Noli me Tangere, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings ever being out of fashion in the next century? The Bible is timeless, and you will understand more if you read it and realize most of it applies to multiple important situations in life.

Why do you have to disregard logic and truths when defending him? Nothing will ever take away his legacy as one of the best Filipino politicians, nothing will take away the progress he’s already done. Do you mean dropping a bomb on a hospital just because there are terrorists hiding there is right? Because that’s what’s happening when innocents, including teenagers raised by drug addicts, marijuana users devoid of any chances of hurting anybody and the mentally ill are also killed when they panic or just want to spare their children from losing a parent. If you voted for him, you have to be willing to be one of those innocents. Because it only takes one small miscalculation for you to be one of them. Sometimes you have to feel pain, right?

Just confess that it is wrong, and that the president and all those involved must face their punishments after this term. It only takes one innocent mistakenly killed to make you a criminal. And when it reaches the hundreds? I think that’s worth a lifetime in prison. Snowden did the wrong thing in my opinion when he broke his oath and escaped to Russia. When someone breaks an oath to the government and escapes punishment, imagine the ramifications when others, even recruited by enemies, follow. The reward should’ve been everyone knowing the truth, and in this case, the cleansing of the nation.

But even then, the sloppiness of Duterte’s process shows. Starting from or putting equal focus on the bottom of the pyramid results in a massive increase in deaths. It’s easy to think there’ll be few deaths if the focus was on top. That way you slowly kill the head of the snake and all the people that have potential to change the Philippines are saved. Why this is better? It only takes one miracle in the thousands saved, just one, to make a big impact in our society. Just one. And the others? Lock them away. You never know when you need or can produce talented teachers, hackers, entrepreneurs, athletes, programmers, preachers, even motivational speakers. Stop closing your mind because life isn’t as simple as saving the nation by killing everyone labeled as a criminal. There is this thing called potential and there is no way to predict it right now. So lock them away, wait for it to show if you need to, but I can easily imagine most of them already have skills or dreams to achieve.

…And please stop complaining how you want to kill those who commit major crimes. Remember all those who defended the killings because they want fair punishment? Remember all the decades you’ve lived and all the wrongly accused. There is no clear benefit that one has over the other method. Don’t you want to spare him and let him rot and suffer in prison? And I mean the huge majority who won’t be spoiled like in NBP. It’s better because of what I mentioned about potential. We are a country stuck in a dire position. We need all the help we can get and not even more hatred and revenge. Stop and think of the ramifications for all those around you and the millions living in poverty.

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Philippine Politics

Things I Forgot to Say This Past Election

We seem to be in the midst of a post-election hangover. That means I’m lucky enough to fill in the gaps left by my previous articles.

No, Aquino isn’t an unsung hero per se:

Of course he’s not. But being underrated surely is. I previously said his missteps were overblown by the public (many were on a local scale or under other people at best) and that his achievements weren’t given proper recognition. Would you rather live in a present where the outgoing president stole a ton more money and we still remain in the dark about the underbelly of Philippine politics? Aquino started a chain reaction, and while he was miles away from a perfect president, he contributed his own share to our country.

It’s unrealistic to say Bongbong wouldn’t have done a thing for our country:

Same goes for any other candidate, even his father during Martial Law. Even then there were sectors of society that benefited. But it’s all about the overall picture. If he won he would’ve been the favorite to be the next president. The election is a critical part of our future. Risking it all just for a likeable personality or ideal is like putting our future on a spinning wheel and crying when we lose. People were holding him up on a pedestal, envisioning him as the next Ferdinand Marcos. Would you want noninclusive economic benefits like Aquino? Or lots of dead innocents who die because of sounding their opinions? What about billions in stolen money that would’ve gone into scholarship grants, feeding programs, employment opportunities and new classrooms?

Duterte made for a hugely effective mayor, and a surefire bet for change in our country:

And that goes with what I said above. Change for the sake of change is like voting for Trump because he’s brutally honest and the antidote to traditional politics. Ideals alone aren’t enough to ensure a country’s future. Of those extrajudicial killings, how many are innocents? There’s a reason there’s a process criminals go through before being imprisoned. It’s not foolproof, but a better solution than sudden killings still. How can a president that lets his temper run amok lead an entire country? There’d be chaos, or kneejerk decisions at the very least. How about us, the victims? No one was ever going to take incarceration away, and no one complained of incarceration not being enough as much before Duterte said, “Kill them all.” Imperfect as it is just like with extrajudicial killings, justice will continue to be served, maybe even for a lifetime.

Those hundreds or thousands due to die without proper investigation, many are bound to be mentally ill. Those people don’t know the truth about what they’re doing. They try to stop when it’s impossible to do. Even if they don’t, it’s the sickness that drives them. And many too won’t be close to hurting anyone. It’s murder for many, and the majority of us love that kind of thing. The majority that believed in Jesus that taught of forgiveness, patience, tolerance and understanding.

It’s about tolerance where futures can be built. It’s about saving those that look guilty but are actually victims like us. Life is too unpredictable to end a means for a better future. Better save every sliver of hope, every potential teacher, entrepreneur, programmer and inspirational speaker because honestly, our country is in a dire situation. Until we invent a means to eliminate all hope of a person contributing to society, then that’s the perfect time to discuss killing criminals.

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Music, Short Stories

The Story I Started with “Iris” Ends in Different Worlds, Now on Wattpad!


Click here to read the full story!

Mundo, guardian angel of the Philippine capital struggles to guide his own 8 children away from crime. Manila, a city where two worlds, the rich and the poor live alongside each other, is the backdrop as Mundo bears witness to the lives of Iñigo and Belle, a budding artist and a lost soul. Drugs, rock music, fast cars…this is a whole new world compared to Los Angeles. And even more are hiding behind their lips.

“People all over the arena floor started panicking, one by one as they bump into both of them. A police officer gets a hold of Belle, before Iñigo notices and pulls her as they run to his car. “A GTR?!” Belle panted, in disbelief. “Get in!” Outside the window, Belle peeks her head at all the ensuing chaos, unable to shield her laughter at the craziness of this particular night.”

“Next, a nearly-closed jewelry store sat on a lonely street. “Wait here…” Iñigo planned to surprise her until he noticed her shadow following him, “First impressions of you don’t last very long, do they?” They chuckle as the store owner closes up shop, signalling to each other when the lights turn off. Belle wasn’t able to contain her giggle, prompting Iñigo to give up trying to find the keys before they run for their lives.”

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Short Stories

What I Didn’t Tell Him, a Love Story Set After Iris is Now on Wattpad!

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Click here to read the entire story!

It took some time before he left my side, reflecting on the past that he never had. Even guardian angels have doubts. But I let Jiro wander off and get lost in LA to enjoy his furlough. There has to be a lot on his mind. That’s why I left the other half of my story for another time. He wouldn’t have died, he would’ve lived a normal life in a cramped apartment with the love of his life. And he’d be happy as well.

Samples:

“Two twenty-somethings lay on the couch of a small Los Angeles apartment. It was a bit cramped, with boxes stacked on top of one another and belongings scattered about. But two people could fit in easily once they’ve settled in. At least the view of the city allowed for ample time to reflect. Jiro stretched whatever inch of him he could. He had a short-haired, slim-bodied girlfriend, but when she falls into a nap, she does it for hours. Still, not for a second did he stare at the reddening sun, or the streets bustling with tiny toy-looking cars and people in the distance.

His eyes were firmly on the girl sleeping on his chest as the TV played in front of them. Jiro’s lips curled into a smile, there was some drool on the corner of her mouth. If she was awake he’d tease her until they play with each other again like kids. It’s been ten years since he was cured of cancer. His mom never visited him, but he’s way past that stage. He’s happy living in a tiny apartment in the middle of LA and living a normal life for the first time. Some things never change, like his mom, or the chaos in the city. But they will soon.”

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Movies, Music, Short Stories

The Cover and Much Better Intro for My New Short Story on Wattpad

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Click here for the full story!

My first short story in 6 years comes in the form of Iris, inspired by the song from Goo Goo Dolls. An unnamed guardian angel watches atop an unseen tower in Los Angeles, peeking into and influencing the lives of its inhabitants through telescopes and a small toy globe. He comes to a realization that LA is a lost cause and pins his legacy on a dying 13-year old named Jiro, knowing that doing so will condemn him into spending the rest of his days as a mere mortal.

Some samples:

“You see, as I peek through each telescope I see, feel and hear what everyone is too, each and every one. Jiro somehow talks to God as though He’s in front of him, and when he tells you, “I’ll always be here” to the one who should be doing it, I don’t know what the hell you’re doing with the time on your hands when you’re all-powerful. I sit back on my reclining seat and fiddle with the tiny globe on my hands. I get furious at all the wrong times. I try to calm myself down. I can’t be angry if I’m the one dangling the carrots in front of every single person in LA. Especially when the most important one dies in a year.”

“A few days have passed. I hold the tiny globe on my hands before peeking at the telescope. It’s English class, but Mr. Caulfield is his usual free-spirited self and goes for another group activity to make plays. Jiro feels his stomach hurt even more as he drinks some water. His mouth is dry and body numb. He stands up along with his group in front. Iris was with them. I spin my globe a bit. Iris is looking down, but she knows Jiro just took a peek at her eyes. They were beautiful, and innocent, maybe even more than his. And they both had white skin like fairies but hers was immaculate. I spin the globe faster, and as they finish, Iris rushes to her seat, but her breath was cut short just the same as Jiro when she passed. I smirk. “…You felt that.”

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