At boiling point

HUMMING IN My UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 24, 2016 – 12:00am

Everything is at boiling point. Election fever is now hotter than the summer heat.

The Duterte fans are back to insulting and threatening everyone at a more intense level these days. I didn’t think they could get any worse. The callous joke about the missionary rape and murder victim has aroused anger everywhere. Most everyone is angry. The Australian, US and other ambassadors from different countries have expressed their stand on the topic, saying rape is not a joke. The women’s groups have come together and have strongly condemned Duterte for promoting rape culture.

His followers on Twitter and Facebook were initially quiet on the issue, perhaps because of shame. But a few followers tried to reiterate the Duterte line that his comment was only a joke. Soon enough they started throwing insults at people who angrily disagreed with them. I guess bad habits die hard. I often shudder at the thought of what they would be like if they ever get to be in power.

Duterte is one hell of a candidate. His loose lips have created controversies from the beginning of the campaign. He has managed to, singlehandedly and without intention, upset the Catholics with his Cursing the Pope “joke,” the Mexican ambassador in a speech where he called Mexico a dangerous drug-infested place, and a whole lot of decent Filipinos who are shocked at his views and treatment of women and his cavalier proclamations about death squads, China, the NPA, and other awful topics. He shoots from the hip. His positions on issues are not well thought out. Rhetoric generating heat but no light.

Meanwhile, there is also a lot of movement in the other camps. Leni Robredo’s numbers continue to rise. She is currently at the number one position and still has not peaked. Mar’s numbers continue to be low but his supporters have stepped up the campaign on social media and have done a marvelous job spreading information on his programs and countering false, malicious memes and outright lies that are thrown at him. They’ve also made Duterte’s statement on rape go viral online. As a result, we’ve been hearing about Duterte followers switching to Mar in pretty large numbers and proclaiming it on Facebook.

Grace Poe’s numbers continue to play between top or second position. And Binay seems to have lost his momentum.

Looking back at the 2010 elections, the numbers changed dramatically in the period between the last survey and election day itself. During that period, Villar lost 17 points, most of which went to P-Noy. Loren lost 14 points to Binay, which helped him win over Mar Roxas.

It will probably play out this way again. I have not met anyone willing to make a solid prediction on who will become our next president and VP. Things are too unpredictable, barely two weeks before election day. There is still a sizable group of “undecided” being courted by candidates.

But these are what I think we should concern ourselves with:

1) We will have a new president and VP after May 9. And barring any cheating, and if the polls are certifiably peaceful and clean, we must all be ready to accept the verdict of the electorate. Even if we think it is a case of Vox Populi Vox Crazy, we must accept that, in a democracy, the majority wins. That’s just how it is.

2) We must also accept that in the end, elections are not about dividing people, although it sure feels that way. In the end, we must rally and support the new government, whoever is at its helm. We are one country. We must not regard our political adversaries in a way that leaves no room for shaking hands after the election. This is not about “ubusan ng lahi.” We still have to be one people and give our elected leaders a chance to lead us within the framework of our democracy’s laws and order.

3) Lastly, let us look at this exercise as a testament to our growing democracy. While the campaign has been intense, let us hope that we will have mostly conducted ourselves civilly, within the democratic framework, when we do exercise our right to vote. Our democracy can only be strengthened when we abide by its laws.

Elections come and go. Leaders change. Six years is not long, if we have good leaders. If we are not happy with what we get, there are legal ways to change them.

Meanwhile, is it possible to cool things down a bit?

My vote goes to….

I have been receiving too many requests from OFWs asking me whom to vote for. A lot of them do not know who the candidates are and the issues behind them. I was gonna save this for another day but since they are already voting, I will share my candidates.

Warning: There is no perfect candidate. But these are the ones I have chosen to shape our country for the next 6 years.

Here they are, and my reasons:

President: Mar Roxas.

He is the ONLY ONE not connected or tainted with corruption or supportive of Marcos in any way. ALL THE REST ARE. Pag isipan nyo. He will also continue Tuwid na Daan. I believe in what has been started. Dapat tapusin. Ngayon marami na ang nakikinabang sa 4Ps na nasimulan ni PNoy. Ito yung pantawaid pamilya program kung saan 7 million families ang umangat ng kahit papano at napapdala na nila ang mga anak nila sa schools Di na sila nagugutom.. Lahat ng Presidential Candidates ay nag-aadopt ng 4Ps ni PNoy BECAUSE IT WORKS. The difference is, kung sila ang magpapatakbo nito, di tayo sigurado kung mapupunta sa mahirap o sa bulsa nila. Kaya kay Mar ako.

Duterte will take away due process to fight crime. NO WAY SA AKIN YUN. I do not believe na dapat bigyan sya ng karapatan pumatay ng sino man na walang proseso sa korte. Ganun ang Martial Law. And the statistics show na kahit libo na ang pinatay niya, Naga and other cities are still safer than Davao. Crime is one issue among many. Wala syang plano sa economiya, at sa ibang bagay. D nya naiintidihan ang mga iba pang bagay sa pamamalakad sa govt..

And this bothers me most. He also said that he will give up our fight sa UNCLOS. He will have bilateral talks with China kahi sinabi na ng China na pagkausapin natin sila, tanggapin muna natin na KANILA ANG TERITORYO na kine-claim nila. In effect, he will not stop China from claiming more islands. It also implies that he will kick out the US forces sa atin.


Vice President: Leni Robredo.

I know her personally. Marangal na tao na ang puso ay para sa mahihirap. Nag attend ako ng isang session kung saan tinanong siya ng mga tao ng 35 questions tunkol sa mga issues ng gobierno at lipunan. Na-impres ako sobra sa mga sagot niya. Halata na napag-isipan niya na ang mga tanong kasi ang sagot niya ay direct at walang bola. No generalities. Very specific answers. Leni is my VP.

Kung kay BongBong kayo, parang nag yes na kayo sa kurapsyon. Wag na kayo umuwi. Wala mg matitirang yaman dito. Matauhan na tayo. Di pa nya binabalik ang nakaw na pera. At ginagawa nya ang lahat para d ibalik.

Sino pa? Who can you trust among the rest?

1) Kiko Pangilinan
2) Risa Hontiveros
3) Leila DeLima
4) Frank Drillon
5) TG Guingona
6) Ralph Recto
7) Serge Osmena
8) Nariman Ambolodto- I bleiev na dapat may represetative ang mga kapatid nating Muslim
9) Cresente Paez– Malawak ang experience niya sa coop movement

Mga pinagiisipan ko pa: Walden Bello, Ping Lacson, Petilla.

Vote for whoever you think will serve the country with dignity, honor and will succeed in making our country a more progressive place with Jobs, opportunity, more education, roads, infra structure para pag uwi nyo, di kayo magsisisi.

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

My 10 new pieces

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 10, 2016 – 12:00am

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 8.36.47 AM

An album that I started working on more than a year ago is finally out. Actually, that’s not quite a correct statement. It is not really “work” when you’re doing something you really like.

My new album, called “10 Pieces,” was released in the stores a few days ago. It is my third solo album. The first one is called “Ako Lang,” the second is “Laro.”

I put out an announcement on Facebook early last week and I have sent out many copies to those who wanted their albums signed.

I have done quite a number of albums with APO and produced some for other artists. But doing music where I am producer, songwriter and singer, and working directly with my arranger, is an exhilarating experience. It’s such a thrill. I am totally responsible for the outcome. This must be how God felt creating His own universe.

The first thing I do when getting things started is I sit down and write a couple of songs; and if I feel they are good enough, I commit to start recording the entire project. If the songs excite me, then it’s a go. I call an arranger and I give him my songs. He then makes studies based on pegs we have discussed. He sends them back to me already arranged, and most of the time I approve it with just a few revisions.

You must choose an arranger you can work with and whose talent you respect. Luckily, I have Ernie Baladjay who has been my arranger for quite a long time now. We have done a lot of great work together.

For “10 Pieces,” I wrote six new songs and revisited three that I recorded with APO that never became hits. Two of them I reworked and translated into Pilipino. It was exciting going back and taking a second look at old songs and remaking them with new elements added. Some songs were written 30 years ago. I gave them a makeover, which included a new arrangement and instrumentation, a new bridge, and a whole new set of lyrics. After working on them, I felt that I had given them not just a new lease on life, but a new feel and flavor. They may as well be new songs.

The biggest thrill in doing this album was collaborating with other artists. Gloc9 gave one of my songs a new aesthetic, a vibrant energy with his eloquent rhythmic rapping. The song is about Oneness, and the rap he wrote and his performance made it really special.

I invited Aiza Seguera to sing the song Pagmamahalan. I originally wrote it as a solo but as we progressed in the recording, I changed it to a duet. I must say working with Aiza is a delight. With her heavenly voice and emotional delivery, she takes any song to a much higher level.

For the song Pabandying-bandying, I invited Noel Cabangon and Boboy Garrovillo to sing vocals with me. The song is about what people our age do to have fun — Lolos doing their own “gimik,” to borrow a word from this generation. It’s always fun working with them.

I also included a song I recorded a year ago and released online about our gratitude to the world for its help after Yolanda. Eleven-year old Andee Achacoso and Chriselle Baladjay (my arranger’s daughter) did the solos. I’ve gotten a lot of positive responses to this.

Making this album was so light and easy, even if we put in a lot of work. The creative spirit makes everything a pleasure. The thrill of seeing a song you heard in your head come to life in the studio is indescribable. It is literally picking something out of thin air and, with a few magic steps, creating a living piece of work. It is gifting the world with something it has never heard before.

I am hoping people will like and sing the songs and make them the soundtrack of their everyday lives.

I went into this project with no clue about what people are buying or listening to these days. One might say I am an old-fashioned artist. I write what I like and share it. I am not market-driven. I simply create when I feel I have something to say.

As an old hand at songwriting, I still like to write about the most common theme in pop songs, which is love. But I like telling my stories from unique or unusual situations.

At my age, I no longer play it too safe. I like diversity. I like exploring other topics and putting them into songs. For this album, I wrote my own Filipino “Happy Birthday” song. I also wrote about being depressed and wanting a new life, of wanting to pick myself up when I fall. I also have a light song called Sino Kaya? that I collaborated on with six other people about the idiosyncrasies of being Filipino. It was an inspired session during the last Elements Songwriting workshop. We had a wonderful time writing it and we finished it in less than two hours. It still makes me chuckle when I hear it. It was a truly synchronistic moment. I believe in surprising and delighting my audience, as well as myself.

One thing I have learned is, whatever I come up with is the state of the art of where I am at the moment. Sometimes I am better, sometimes not, compared to my previous work. I am perfectly okay with that.

Doing the work is the most essential thing. Nothing else is as important. A creator must create and bring things to life. All the other elements come second.

It is as simple and as true as that.

Trolling the presidentiables

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 3, 2016 – 12:00am

Things are getting out of hand. There is so much hostility everywhere. I am talking about how very partisan and ugly this election has become.

It’s a free-for-all on social media. Trolls abound. They immediately respond, mostly with insults, threats and venom to any criticism (even mild ones) posted by anyone who questions their leader. The tirades are mostly nonsensical, illogical and ungrammatical — all designed to scare you.

Some people have even received death threats. I have.

But the most vicious ones do not want to argue at all. If they do, it is without any form of civility. Their aim is to silence you.


It’s time we lighten things up. Stop being combative. Drop the ubusan ng lahi mentality. After all, we ALL still have to get along after the elections.

We must realize that we shouldn’t take everything so seriously. So today, I am putting on my conspiracy theorist-anarchist-irreverent-silly cap as I write.

Today, I am trolling every candidate. There is a Filipino saying that goes, “Bato-bato sa langit. Kung may tamaan, eh buti nga.” LOL.

1. A friend who is into conspiracy theories tried to convince me that Mar and Leni are actually closet communists. He pointed out that if you put an “x” at the end of Mar and an “n” at Leni, you will get the names of two great communists.

I laughed. But I had to ask myself if I should share it considering how some stupid people out there will not get the joke and take this seriously. Furthermore, they may convince the more stupid to believe it. But then, I must have more faith in humanity, shouldn’t I?

Or should I?

2. Duterte’s followers are fiercely loyal and cling to his every word. All this talk of summary killings to deliver swift justice seems to awaken in them a rough judgmental Old Testament attitude that is so gung-ho about meting the death penalty summarily.

I think Digong’s friend and spiritual adviser Quiboloy should step into the picture and convince Digong to form his own religion so he can have some theological reason to justify his beliefs. The first book in his sacred text can be called Duterteronomy.

3. I still cannot fathom the Supreme Court’s decision declaring Grace Poe’s run for the presidency legal but I won’t argue with it. The SC has the final word. All I know is that certain political considerations shaped the decision.

This decision could be historical and unprecedented. This could make Grace Poe the envy of Hillary Clinton since Grace could very well be the first American woman president if she wins.

As for me, I am looking at 2022 when I would like Barack Obama to run for president of the Philippines. I am sure he will find our country’s political landscape interesting. I trust the SC will find some justification to “prove” his citizenship like they did for Poe. He is, after all, very popular in our country. They can also argue that his two recent trips to the Philippines showed Obama’s intention to establish residency here.

4. Binay has one final chance to shine in the next debate. He lost big time when he insisted on bringing notes (later described as documents) and delaying the last debate. He was the biggest loser.

He must now reinvent himself. How does someone with poor debating skills, and a credibility problem, shine in a debate against four other more articulate people?

To do so, he must totally stun them. He must come from left field with no notes, no documents. He must make a visual statement saying he will NOT be ignored and belittled. He must show up wearing cosplay.

Everyone would be speechless, surely! Can you imagine his fellow candidates addressing him as Mr. Vice President when he is dressed up in a bizarre animé costume? I think they would rather really avoid him. Who would like to argue with a presidentiable in cosplay? And on TV? And to the millions of people watching at home, this brilliant wardrobe makeover will be so impressive, it will be the topic of conversation until election day. People will forget all other issues. All they will remember is Binay in cosplay, a dark, brooding animé figure.

5. I miss Miriam in the debates. I miss her on the campaign trail. It is too bad she is incapacitated with cancer. Sometimes though, I try to imagine who is more unlucky: Miriam getting cancer or cancer taking on Miriam? I hope her feisty spirit will save her. There is more to life than winning an election. As for the cancer cells, maybe you should call it quits while you are ahead.

6. It is beginning to look like a lot of the millennials will be voting for Marcos. It is so ironic that young people have all the data and knowledge right at their fingertips, more than any generation in history, but they have such a short and shallow attention span. And they are easily swayed by over-simplified memes, more than plain truth. I can’t wait to see their faces when one day, they will watch their sons and daughters voting for the children of Napoles, Jinggoy, Revilla, etc.

7. No candidate has made any statement about legalizing medical marijuana. I wish one of them would. If Mar takes a supporting stance, it would still be in line with Daang Matuweed.

When you feel that you are about to cross the sanity line and need to be more objective, here’s a line from Desiderata you can repeat to yourself.

“Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, EVEN THE DULL AND THE IGNORANT; THEY TOO HAVE THEIR STORY.”

Okay. Back to Facebook and Twitter!