REVIEW: Heavy Metal in Bagdhad: Metal lives

I got hooked to metal music back in high school. I never knew what it was called back then, what genre it belonged. But when I heard Iron Maiden, and later Metallica, I was instantly a fan.

Few people played metal music live when I was growing up. In the 80s, radio was dominated by disco and some local music–which I don’t dig that much. However, there was this local band called Revelation. They sported long hairs. They donned flannel shirts. And they wore tight and torn jeans. Of course, they came with their leather boots–western-style.

Watching this documentary brought me back to those days when I first heard a double-bass drum that went: bridididididididididi. The time signatures were insane. Then loud guitars complemented this “noise” as it escalated into the atmosphere of searing speeds. The cadence of the palm-muted rhythm guitar and the thumping bass provided the canvass. Then out came a guttural scream. That was your metal band. To this, you start banging your head. Banging your head required up and down motion, as if you’re nodding fast. And it has to go with the beat of the drum and the bass guitar. Pam-pam-pam-pam-pam-pam. Headbang.

Metal music, or rock music, transcends culture, race, age, and time. Heavy Metal in Bagdhad is that. Amid a backdrop of civil war, guys in their 20s played in a metal band called Acrassicauda at the risk of getting killed. Influenced by bootleg music from the western world, they saw metal as an escape from reality, a short reprieve from the death and destruction that is happening around them. Ironically, they also love Iron Maiden, which often plays on death and destruction, and the apocalypse as metaphors to their music.

These guys are just like any other 20 something kid who fell in love with metal music. The loud guitar, the searing drums, and the “in your face” lyrics told their stories of frustration, anger, hate. However, in this documentary, all these were directed at the world they lived in. In the end, they wanted freedom. And if metal was the only way they can have it.

As the documentary ended, the filmmakers noted that most of us are “spoiled.” Spoiled because we complain a lot, and yet these guys who had nothing but their music, still try to thrive amid despair. To them, music kept them sane. Music gave them hope. Music gave them a voice to express every Iraqi’s cry for help. It was a sad story, and I hope these guys are still out there, alive.

Feeling nostalgic about Pinoy music

I recently wrote an entry on Soundtrip, aptly titled “What is Pinoy Music?


I WAS “lost” last weekend in the piles of books in a local bookstore. I was hunting for a book that was recommended to me earlier by a literary friend. But fate brought me to the “entertainment section” of this bookstore. There I found two remaining copies of “Punks, Poets, Poseurs: Reportage on Pinoy Rock & Roll” by Eric Caruncho.

I checked the price. It said, “50 pesos.” Are you kidding, I told myself. This book is a steal! So I grabbed one copy (now I’m thinking I should have also grabbed the last copy, heh), and went straight to the cashier.

This is an “old” book which I read back in 1996 when it was launched. I must admit I had little knowledge of the Pinoy rock scene in the 1970s leading to the late 1980s, which was about the same time when Baguio’s The Blank became the hottest rock band in the country.

(UPDATE) Nation held hostage

It was a tense day yesterday for more than 20 children and their tutors. For 10 hours, children and their teachers were held hostage inside a bus parked near the Manila City Hall. The children were freed later. While I was covering the happenings at the Commission on Elections (Comelec), everyone was distracted by this hostage crisis. The man behind it, civil engineer Armando “Jun” Ducat, said he did it to call attention to corruption in government. He has been known to pull such “stunts” in the past, but this grabbed the nation’s and the world’s attention for hours. Ducat is also owner of a daycare center in Tondo, Manila.

Here’s a video clip taken by our reporter Tetch Torres early that day. You can also listen to audio clips of Ducat’s demand here and here.

Mighty Dacs calls yesterday’s hostage drama just plain madness. She writes:

Damn, we were LIVE on CNN today. And all because some day-care center guy decided to hostage his own wards to fight for education for the poor.


Even though he had food and air conditioning for the pre-school kids, he did have with him hand grenades and a gun.

And who acted as negotiators? Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Mr. Chavit “Whistleblower” Singson. Tsss. Showbuzz.

As I was watching the live coverage on GMA7 around the time the hostage-takers promised to release the children, here comes some school (I can’t remember which one, so I’d rather not say) to the rescue, promising that if the hostage-kids were freed then they’d take care of their elementary and high school education.

Hellooo?!!! Eh di lahat nalang tayo mang-hostage ng mga toddler para puro scholarship yung mga kabataan ngayon pagdating nila sa grade school at highschool. D-uh!!!

Another video clip on YouTube from NBN:

Pinoy enters Spielberg reality show for filmmakers

Here’s some good news:

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino cinematographer Paolo Dy is now closer to making it in Hollywood.

Dy is now among the aspiring filmmakers featured on “On The Lot,” a competition produced by Mark Burnett and Steven Spielberg that offers a $1-million development deal with DreamWorks.

Dy’s suspense short film QWERTY is now featured on the website, which aims to discover 16 unknown filmmakers whose films will be aired on Fox News Channel.

Read the full story here. This story was first posted on Yugatech’s blog. Now the same story is all over blogosphere. Talk about viral marketing 😉

Saigon on a motorbike (reloaded)

Finally, the travel story I wrote about Saigon has come out. You can read it on’s Roadtrip.

HO CHI MINH CITY–It was hard to miss the swarm of motorbikes on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, also popularly known as Saigon. The Vietnamese love motorbikes. Young and old, men and women dressed casually or formally, young couples, friends, neighbors — every person you can imagine was riding motorbikes. It was an amazing sight.

Motorbikes came from all directions. Crossing the street required guts — lots of it. The motorbikes seemed extensions of their feet. They moved around streets like pedestrians in a sidewalk. They followed an invisible line. They never bumped into each other despite the absence of traffic lights. It was, as one foreign journalist described, an “organized chaos.” But I watched them with delight.

On my way from the airport to the Claravelle hotel in Saigon (which happens to be right beside the Opera House), I saw two guys side by side talking (note: not on the same bike) while negotiating the streets of Saigon. I saw another man in his 30s talking with someone on his mobile phone not minding the risk of slamming into approaching motorbikes from the other direction. My eyes followed him. I was afraid he might hit another motorbike. In Saigon, bikes outnumbered cars. There were taxis in the city. But motorbikes were everywhere.

There are some four to six million motorbikes in this city alone, thanks to the cheap imports from China. But this is Saigon, a place featured many times in movies and in books like “The Quiet American” by Graham Greene.