If there’s something laudable about the brand Red Horse Beer other than the kick in its full-flavored taste, it is the commitment to discover Filipino talents in rock music. I say commitment because the brand has successfully sustained its Muziklaban Rock Challenge for 13 years now. That’s no easy feat considering how many local talent competitions we hear about that just come and go.

One reason for the staying power of Red Horse Beer Muziklaban Rock Challenge is because it’s very relevant not only to the brand, but also to a targeted community of shared interest—lovers of all things rock music. And it stayed true to this community despite the lure of more popular genres or the excitement of a new customer engagement program. I believe Red Horse Beer is doing it right.

And it’s doing it even better this year by embracing social media to reach out to more amateur rock bands in the country. Aside from submitting entries manually through San Miguel Brewery sales offices and designated venues and through live studio auditions across the Philippines, amateur rock bands can now submit entries through the Red Horse beer website, its Facebook page, or even through Youtube. And for the formal launch of this year’s competition, Red Horse Beer did its first ever digital press conference via live streaming from Hard Rock Cafe in Makati City. I was one of the lucky ones to be invited. :)

Digital is good, but there are things best enjoyed live, like a cold Red Horse Beer

The means to reach out and discover more Pinoy talents may change and evolve with the times but making Pinoy rock the constant is the way to go for Red Horse Beer. It is showing the way for many other established brands that are still in the search for a relevant, unique, and sustainable engagement program for customers.


Deadline of submission of entries: September 15, 2011

Eliminations: October 1 to November 5, 2011

Semi-finals: November 2011

Grand Finals: January 2012

The Grand Champion will win P1M worth of prizes: P500,000 cash prize, band start-up support through music video or album production support worth P300,000, and a Red Horse Beer endorsement deal worth P200,000.

The winner in the best original Red Horse Beer song composition will also take home P500,000 cash prize.

For more details on Red Horse Beer Muziklaban Rock Challenge, visit this site.

Rakrakan na!

human drive

A fresh gait in the walk. Refreshed. But only temporarily because the drive that used to sustain the energy has now waned. Or found a new host, which is everything but a blurry, hazy horizon to them. It’s their drive that drives them now, dictating the pace and direction, only they are held hostage by it and don’t know why.  They just follow without question, without hesitation. The drive is now human and them, the abstract, intangible feeling.

As we welcome the new year, let’s take a quick look at the newsmakers and noisemakers in the Philippines for 2010. This is in no particular order.

a. Presidential Elections and Pnoy. This elections made noise not only because it’s the first automated elections in the Philippines, but also because people wanted a new president so badly. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, riding on his parents’ popularity and legacy, convinced many Filipinos that he’s the right man for the job. But it was his love life and the communication booboos of his appointees that caught more public attention than the changes he’s started to institute.

b. Manila Hostage Crisis at the Quirino Grandstand. This is, sadly, the biggest news and noise in the Philippines for 2010 and it’s not good for the Philippines. You only need to google “Manila Hostage Crisis” to see all the sites devoted to the anguish and anger over this hostage drama. I watched this live on TV and I never felt the kind of fear in my life before by just watching something on TV. Here’s part of it:  

c. SC decision on the Vizconde Massacre. The unexpected noisemaker for the last month of 2010 is the Supreme Court decision acquitting Hubert Webb and 6 others from the Vizconde Massacre case. Lauro Vizconde’s effort of seeking justice for losing his wife and daughters in a gruesome homicide was all put in vain, no thanks to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

d. Jejemons. The new branding for jologs became mainstream in 2010. This is a subculture in Manila characterized by how they change words in text messages to the point of being incomprehensible.  This pop culture group even has its own translator. Click here to try it out.

e. Venus Raj. The 4th runner up in the 2010 Ms. Universe made local noise because of her “major, major” answer in the pageant, criticized by many who thought she could do so much better in the Q&A portion. “Major, major” has become a popular part of Pinoy lingo.

f. Manny Pacquiao. Pacman, the People’s Champ, makes world history by being the first boxer to win 10 world titles in eight weight divisions. He beat Antonio Margarito, who suffered a fractured right orbital bone, to win the vacant junior middleweight belt.

Do you have any addition to the list of Philippine noisemakers and newsmakers for 2010?

There’s more to the Philippines than Boracay and dirty politics. Here are some environmental trivia to remind us of the beauty of our natural resources, and why appreciation alone is not enough to preserve them.

  • The Philippines is one of the world’s 18 “megadiversity” countries, harboring 70% of all life forms on the planet.
  • According to Haribon, we rank first in the world on the number of endangered endemic species of mammals and birds on an acre-for-acre basis.  Fifty-five of the 70 threatened bird species in the world are found only in our country.
  • Taal Volcano is the world’s smallest active volcano and Taal Lake is the only habitat of the world’s only freshwater sardine sardinella tawilis.

    Visayan Spotted Deer (photo credit: http://www.ok4me2.net)

  • Out of the 584 Philippine wildlife, 72% are threatened with extinction like the Philippine Eagle, Tamaraws of Mindoro, Visayan Spotted Deer, Visayan Warty Pig, and Dinagat Cloud Rat.  
  • The Philippine Eagle is one of the rarest eagles in the world and the Visayan Spotted Deer and Tamaraw are two of the rarest mammals in the world.
  • A tiny orange-colored rodent-like mammal not found anywhere else in the world was recently discovered in Mt. Banahaw.
  • The Tubbataha Reefs in Sulu Sea is the only marine natural park in the country and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to over 600 species of fish, 359 species of corals, 12 species of sharks, 12 species of dolphins and whales, and over 100 species of birds.
  • The world’s largest pearl was discovered by a Filipino diver in Palawan. Known as the “Pearl of Lao-Tzu,” the gem weighs 14 lbs. and measures 9.45 inches in diameter. It is believed to be 600 years old.
  • The world’s largest flower Rafflesia was also discovered at the Sibalom National park in Antique. Locally named Uruy, the flower measures 22 inches in diameter and has no stems and leaves.
  • Our coral reefs are among the richest in the world, with about 464 species of hard corals and more than 50 species of soft corals. But of the country’s 2.7 million hectares of coral reefs, less than 5% are in excellent condition today.

    Tubbataha Reef (photo credit: http://www.filipinasoul.com)


Earth Day may be over but the entire 2010 has been declared by the United Nations as the International Year of Biodiversity to raise awareness on the need to safeguard the diversity of life forms on earth essential to sustaining our living systems. If we have reasons to celebrate the biodiversity of our natural resources here, we also have reasons to do what we can, in our own little ways, to help protect it. 

Sources: http://www.denr.gov.ph/ www.tubbatahareef.org/ www.animalinfo.org/ http://www.scienceray.com

A colleague shared these spoof videos of a Hitler movie–one in favor of Manny Villar; the other for Noynoy Aquino—that made me laugh today. Well, this is what the Philippine presidential elections has come to: a big joke.

Pro-Villar spoof:

Pro-Noynoy spoof:

Question: What is an island on a lake in an island on a lake  in an island on an ocean?

Answer: Taal Volcano



Taal Volcano up close


Taal Yacht Club in Talisay, Batangas

Getting near Volcano Island

That’s how our tour guide slash bangkero described Taal Volcano as the motorized boat leaves the Taal Yacht Club in Talisay, Batangas. We reached the Volcano Island in minutes and from the boat, we saw the Tagaytay Ridge. “For a change we’re viewing Tagaytay from Taal,” I told my officemates, smiling as our other colleagues took a photo of us from another boat. “I hope this volcano doesn’t act up while we’re here or we’ll swim for our lives.” :D

the welcome party at the foot of the volcano

so near yet so far

no pets allowed in our hike

Taal Volcano, said some online sources, now seems a small volcano but it used to be one of the world’s largest, towering 18,000 feet into the sky. Small as it may seem, the hike to its crater rim wasn’t very easy, but it was enjoyable. We chose to do the walking trail instead of riding horses, which we felt would take away the fun in the experience. We were so right. The hike took about an hour and we stopped several times to either take photos or simply enjoy the view.

enjoying the view after a long hike

taking it all in

The view from the rim was breathtaking (after all that walking? why not! Haha) as much as it was calming. Not content with the the view, we decided to hike down to the crater lake and yes, we swam in its sulfuric glory. Haha. :) It was good for the skin, the tour guide said, but it was bad for the clothes. Haha! I didn’t mind it—the experience of swimming in a volcano’s crater lake made it all worth it. I just wished I could kayak my way around it, like I did in Coron, Palawan.

rushing to swim in the lake

the island on a lake in an island...

Our stomachs were our guide to stop swimming and take the hike back up to the crater rim and then down to the foot of the volcano. The boat ride back to Taal Yacht Club was like a roller coaster ride, no thanks to the nasty waves that made my officemates repent for their sins on the spot and prayed to all the saints they know :)

I got quite scared alright but I chose to enjoy the moment while it lasted: I sat near the front end of the boat, talking all the face-slapping from the waves, occasionally closing my eyes as I listened to the mad waters, as if asking for more, telling myself that no amount of exhaustion or worry or fear should take away the fun in this nature adventure.  And boy did I enjoy it.

Taal Volcano crater lake

The nurse at the pre-anesthesia room was reading the classified ads. She’s looking for a new job, maybe for an opportunity abroad, I told myself while observing her from my bed, waiting to be brought to the operating room.

“What’s your nickname?” the anesthesiologist said as she reads through my chart page by page, and interrupting my amusement for the nurse openly looking for a job while at work and with doctors and nurses around her.

“Barry, doc” I said, smiling.

“Ah from your surname,” she mused, as if to convince herself. I affirmed her with another smile.

“Okay Barry, it’s your time.”

That didn’t sound right at first, but she’s right, it was my time. I had long wanted the tonsillectomy to be over and done with. But as two nurses were carting me off to the operating room, I realized how much trust  a patient needs to have on doctors to allow them to gamble on an operation. There are risks involved; my doctor was patient enough to explain to me all the possible complications, the most extreme of which is death. That doesn’t help build up the trust, does it? :)

I recall him trying to reassure me: “I’ve done this procedure for over 20 years and none of the complications has happened to any of my patients.” I recall just replying with a nod and a smile—to reassure myself more than to acknowledge his declaration of expertise.

So there I was on Valentine’s Day, lying in my hospital bed, being carted away to the operating room, after having mustered all the courage to trust my doctors for my first major operation under general anesthesia—my break-up with my tonsils. :P

My ENT doctor welcomed me with a pat on my shoulder. Good boy, eh? Then one of the nurses played “Killing Me Softly” on the radio as I lay on the operating table and nurses were putting all the contraptions to my body.

“How apt,” I told myself, while trying to remember the sequence of events in my mind, and negating the song by singing Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” in my head. I’m serious. I was really singing it in my mind. And doing this helped me calm down until the anesthesiologist placed the oxygen mask on my face and I felt groggy and very, very sleepy.

The next thing I knew, the doctors and nurses were waking me up. “Barry, it’s over. It’s okay now. We’ll bring you to the recovery room.” Shit,I thought it was St. Peter and his angels waking me up as there was only blinding light when I tried to open my eyes. I’m dead, I thought. :)

I woke up again and saw myself in the recovery room. I saw other patients still sleeping and the nurses busily attending to each one. After over an hour in the recovery room, I was brought back to my room.  Before sunset one of the doctors checked on me, then just before leaving she said that people in the operating room found me quite amusing.

“When we woke you up and told you that you’ll be brought to the recovery room, you smiled at us,” she said.

I smiled, unable to ask: “I did?” But in my mind I continued the thought: “It must be Bon Jovi’s song, doc.” :)

Today as I write this I’m eating vanilla ice cream, still unable to speak clearly, and working from home for a week. It’s finally over and done with, my first major surgery. Now I think I’m ready to be 30. :D


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