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IT was all rock music in the Marikina Sports Complex last Saturday as the annual rock fest and tournament Red Horse Muziklaban celebrated its 10th year anniversary. The event is also the biggest so far as it played host to over a dozen of the country's best rock bands. Budding rock bands also competed for a million pesos in cash prize and a chance to become the next product endorser for Red Horse. Ten finalists from different parts of the country smashed their way to prove who among them will become the up and coming "rakista". This year’s winner is the band EVEN from Baguio City. They will get one million pesos and a recording contract. Muziklaban 2008 also presented for the first time the world's most popular death metal and thrash metal band, Sepultura from Brazil. Growling and churning out face-melting riffs, shreds and bass for two hours amid a flood of screaming fans, Sepultura gave local Filipinos a taste of Brazilian metal amid a threatening downpour that night. Being the last band to play, Sepultura never disappointed their fans as they sang over a dozen songs. Among those songs they played included "Warriors of Death," "Troops of Doom," "Ostia," "Territory," among others. The new Sepultura is composed of Derrick Green (vocals), Andreas Kisser (lead guitar), Paulo Jr (bass) and Jean Dolabella (drums). Green who hails from Cleveland, Ohio was the one who requested to remove the huge mosquito net protecting the bands from rowdy fans. "Now I can see you better. Are you still with us?!" and fans screamed even louder. The ear-popping screams, the chainsaw-like shreds, and the loud, thumping bass drums can be heard from over a kilometer away from the stage. Even those who were not able to get in were screaming. It'll be a huge challenge for the organizers of Muziklaban to make an even grander Muziklaban 2009. Who's next? Metallica?
By Jude Thaddeus Bautista Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--"The Malaysians were scared of whoever would win in the Philippine finals,” Kjwan lead singer Marc Abaya told screaming fans recently at Capone’s Bar in Makati, where the celebration for the band’s triumph at the Asean Ikon grand finals was in full swing. “To be honest with you,” Abaya went on, “any one of the Ikon finalist bands here could’ve kicked ass and won in Kuala Lumpur. Our country is home to the best musicians in the world!” Kjwan had gone through a tense moment against Kala and True Faith at the Philippine finals. Guest judge Jose Mari Chan had considered True Faith as “more melodious than the other bands.” But Carlos Sison, former True Faith guitarist who now plays with Francis Magalona, described Kjwan’s music, thus: “If you listen closely, it has a strong funk influence. What people don’t realize is that this music is representative of how rock is currently evolving. They’ve been around for four years and they really deserve it. I’m proud of Kjwan.” Asean Ikon is a contest for professional singers and bands whose talents deserve wider exposure in the Southeast Asian Region. Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines fielded contestants, who were required to perform original songs written for, or by, them. Vina Morales won in the singers category while Kjwan was adjudged the best in the bands division. Both took home $25, 000 in cash prizes. Cool funk metal The Malaysian band OAG was a heavy favorite while the Indonesian group Tahta had its own set of fans in Malaysia. But it was Kjwan’s cool brand of funk metal and distinct appeal that clinched the title. What made the grand finals different from all qualifying rounds was that the winner would be determined solely by a panel of judges. (In the elimination rounds, a certain percentage was allotted for text voting.) Each country was represented by one judge: Mac Chew (Malaysia), Hedi Koes Enday (Indonesia) and Eugene Villaluz (Philippines), plus Iskandar Mizra Ismael (Singapore). On finals night, Kjwan, whose members all wore black silk suits, performed “Invitation,” a track from its second album “Two Step Marv.” Vina Morales’ first song was “Pangako Sa ’Yo.” Her heartfelt rendition conveyed an emotion that broke the language barrier. In a cell phone interview, Vina’s male Indonesian competitor, Judika, said, “I didn’t know what the words meant but I felt it was about love. Vina has a beautiful face and an incredible voice. I really want to collaborate with her soon.” Yet Vina had one more ace up her sleeve -- her own dance tune, “Feels So Nice.” She pulled off one impossible dance move after another. Her G-Force dancer lifted her off the ground and then spun her around with her arms raised as if she was flying. And then the other partner handed her the mic just in time for her to belt out high notes, without her voice faltering. At that point, the Malay crowd had given her a standing ovation. Goose bumps Kjwan drummer J-hoon Balbuena said, “The whole crowd got goose bumps when they found themselves singing along to “Pangako Sa ‘Yo.” Abaya added, “Vina won their hearts. She was amazing.” Balbuena added, “I think the judges proved they weren’t biased by thinking of the kind of music that’s reflective of Asia. They judged regardless of genre and race. OAG is a great band whose songwriters had a peculiar sense of humor. But we’re also quite different. Hopefully, we’ve reached a wider audience.” Ikon Philippines Artists Management Director Twinky Lagdameo described the friendships and camaraderie that developed between the performers from each country. Sincere, professional “Everybody was so supportive and professional. You could see that they were all sincere. Some of them want to collaborate with each other. And there’s so much great music out there that we don’t know about,” Lagdameo said. Kjwan bassist Kelley Mangahas echoed Twinky’s sentiments. “We are humbled by the experience. OAG’s members are really nice guys. They’re very respectful. We’ve even made friends with them.” Lagdameo explained that the goal of Ikon was achieved. She said, “As people and as artists, all the talents were in top form. The winning part is good for the Philippines. My choices and musical instincts were validated by other people in the region. We proved that with the right opportunity we really can make it.” Fans who missed the grand finals, the Philippine finals and the semis may log on to Pulse.ph.
By Pocholo Concepcion Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Vina Morales arrives in full makeup, hair neatly in place and casually dressed in a white shirt that gives her an aura of calm. She was in a state of panic a few hours back. Heavy rains had made the creek beside her rented house in San Juan overflow, flooding the basement and damaging her DVD player, CD collection and other things. “You should have seen me,” Vina gushes. “Di ko malaman ang gagawin, ang bilis ng akyat ng tubig. Akalain mo, binubuhat ko yung malaking TV. Naisip ko tuloy, sobra-sobra na yatang blessing ‘to, bumabaha!” (I didn't know what do with the flood. I carried the big TV set. I thought, The blessings seem to be excessive to the point of flooding.) The blessing she’s referring to is her triumph in the Asean Ikon music competition held recently in Kuala Lumpur. The contest pitted Vina against the best singers from Indonesia and Malaysia, for a shot at fame in the whole region. Malaysian producer For the feat, Vina was rewarded with $25,000 and a crack at recording albums and doing live performances in Asean member countries. She can’t hide the joy in her heart. She breaks the news that a Malaysian producer has expressed interest to sign her to a record deal, along with Kjwan, the other Ikon big winner (band division). “We’ll be recording soon,” Vina says, “maybe after I finish an eight-city concert tour in the US.” Music is a passion that’s made Vina look younger than her 31 years. She was only eight when talent scouts from Viva Records spotted her in a singing contest in Cebu (which she won). Vic Del Rosario quickly signed her up. His wife Mina Aragon took an active part in grooming the talented tyke for the major league. Sharon Magdayao was renamed Vina Morales, adapted from Mina’s own daughter, Vina Vanessa. “That contest in Cebu was my first time ever to compete. Ikon was only my second and probably the last time,” Vina reveals. “I guess I can’t take the pressure.” Stage presence What was her winning edge in Ikon? “Stage presence, I think,” Vina surmises. “It also probably helped that I sang in a very clear manner. I thank Eugene Villaluz for that because he told me, ‘Kailangan buo ang boses mo, may power, huwag mo ilalayo ang mike para clear ang tunog.’ (Your voice should be full, with power. Keep the mike close so the sound is clear.) Plus of course my dancing. We were given two numbers to show off our skills. I chose a ballad (Pangako Sa ‘Yo) and a fast one (‘Feels So Nice’). Nobody else did that, I mean sing and dance, complete with dancers and difficult choreography.” Why “Pangako sa ‘Yo” (A Promise to You)? “I consulted my manager (Joji Dingcong) and musical director (Butch Miraflor) for that. It’s a very touching song that I have been identified with. And people in Malaysia have seen the TV soap where the song was adapted as soundtrack. True enough, the audience liked it very much.” Big break Vina is still visibly high from her victory. “I hope to do a major concert in Malaysia, maybe a Southeast Asian tour with the other Ikon contestants. The thought excites me. There’s a good chance it will push through. This is a very big break for me. Ayokong pakawalan ’to (I don’t want to let this go).” On the other hand, Vina expresses some frustration over the status of her recording career in the Philippines. Perhaps she’s not given the opportunity to sing the right kind of songs? She points out, “Actually, nagawa ko na lahat (I’ve done everything) -- OPM, English, pop, R&B, etc. I’ve recorded nine albums and the early ones went platinum and gold. But it’s hard to sell a lot of albums now, with so many singers and bands offering many choices. Plus, there is piracy to contend with. It’s all very sad.” Given a free rein, what kind of album would she like to record? “Maybe I’ll do five ballads and five fast numbers. I need a producer to guide me. Pop and R&B are still the sounds that I like. Also a little house, you know, dance remix material.” Just like Madonna? “I like her style, but Beyonce is my favorite. Her voice has power and she’s a gifted dancer. I also admire Christina Aguilera and J Lo, but they don’t have the complete package that Beyonce has.” Complete package Complete package is what Vina thinks will come in handy when she starts trotting her act in other Asean venues. “That’s what the judges in Ikon were looking for in the contest,” Vina says. “At first my manager and I were worried about the risks, like, what if I lost? That could mean losing face here, I mean I’ve invested so many years building a career in the Philippines, tapos matatalo lang ako (only to lose). That’s why I don’t like joining contests anymore. But then again, though we took a chance, I went in prepared.” Being prepared is a disposition she swears by. She has invested her show biz earnings in a family corporation which has interests in 30 branches of Ystilo Salon, 10 of which are owned, while the rest are franchises. Business-wise, she looks up to Sharon Cuneta, Vilma Santos and Maricel Soriano. “Magagaling sila humawak ng pera. (They know how to handle money.). ” As for romance, Vina is not in a relationship just now, having broken off with her Chinese businessman boyfriend Cedric Lee over a year ago. But she hints that “nandiyan pa rin naman siya. Kaya lang maraming hindrance e, ang hirap talaga pag show biz ka, walang privacy. (He's around, but there are snags. It’s really difficult to be in showbiz -- no privacy.)” Then again, Vina would rather take things in stride and dream of other things. “I want to have my own show. I want to act in another film.” She catches herself: “Naglambing daw ako sa ABS-CBN.”
CONGRATULATIONS to 17-year-old Jordin Sparks, who has made history as the youngest "American Idol" winner. Here's an excerpt from the San Francisco Chronicle story:
Jordin Sparks grew up on "American Idol," watching the show since she was 12 years old and telling her mother it was what she wanted to do.
"Now I'm actually doing it," the 17-year-old told reporters backstage after winning the competition in Wednesday's season finale. The announcement that the Arizona teenager bested Blake Lewis, 25, the beat-boxer from Washington state, came at the end of a two-hour extravaganza at the Kodak Theatre.
WILL they be the next big thing in the Philippine music scene? These aspiring pop stars sure hope so. Here's an excerpt from the Showbiz & Style article:
Maricris Garcia, a lounge chanteuse, points out: “I want people to realize that singing prowess is not measured by the high notes you can hit. It’s still about voice quality and having a distinct style.”Joyce Tañaña, a choir member since elementary, explains: “PPS has already produced a belter in Jonalyn Viray. I want to show everyone that it’s possible for a female singer to impress an audience even if she doesn’t resort to belting. All she has to do is sing from the heart.”