nephithyrion

fantasy. world. perfect.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Hana-san

That was how a young Japanese soldier called my late grandmother during their WWII occupation of Davao. Hana means "flower," and because my grandma was around ten years old that time, the soldier probably meant that she was in her flowering age. Her real name was Beatriz.

Lola Beatriz with Mamerto
Lola Beatriz (girl) with Mamerto (left)
and Mama Tibay (bride)
My lola, whose father was Chinese, was raised by her grandparents. When she was still very young, her father, a tailor, took her elder brother back to China (remember that the Chinese prefer sons). I guess they never heard from them again. Then her mother, Manuela, married another man and had other kids.

Lola used to help man a sari-sari store her grandparents owned in Panacan. That was where she met the friendly Japanese soldier, who along with other soldiers assigned around the area, were frequent customers. She said he often brought her sweet manju, something she really liked. She also learned Japanese words and songs during that time, one of which she would gladly sing when we requested. Then one day the Japanese soldiers were sent away and she never saw her friend again.

Lola also liked talking about a grandpa who was very fond of her. She calls him Mamerto Osorio (I think he is her great grandpa. This bit got me confused when I asked about her ancestors because the last names didn't match.) He liked bringing her when he walked about town. Then she would talk about dulce (she meant candies). There were always candies aplenty in her pockets.

Lola BeatrizAlthough she descended from some of the oldest families in Davao, she grew up poor. In fact she only had elementary education. Nevertheless, she became a cook and a seamstress.

With seven children you would think a woman of her stature would find it hard to be successful, but she sent them all to college. Not only that, she even had the grace to accept into her home some relatives and friends who needed a place to stay. Though they were living in one of the poorest areas in the city, her neighbors considered her rich, thrifty, and enterprising (must be the Chinese blood in her).

Eventually she and my grandfather (who also didn't finish school) were able to save money and buy a property in Buhangin. Just thinking about all they have gone through makes me proud.

I had tough and strong grandparents. Both my grandfathers I consider warriors: one was a soldier feared even by his superiors; the other was the quietest, most intense man I have ever met. But lola Beatriz outlasted them all. Happy birthday Lola! May you be in the arms of our Lord forever!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Crochet Crown

Late post. Crochet crown for baby Sophie's first birthday.

Crochet crown for babies

Crochet crown for babies

Based on this pattern by SashaPattern.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

K-pop? Nah. B1A4? Yes, please.

I have never been on the k-pop bandwagon. Although I have some favorite Korean songs, most of them were from movie or drama soundtracks, e.g. Goong, The Classic, Sungkyunkwan Scandal. Through the years, I've only had two favorite singers, Kim Jeong-hoon and Lee Hong-ki, and never bothered to look for more.

One of the reasons may be because these k-pop groups are more of the louder autotuned hip hop or techno types, which are not really my genres. I'm also not a fan of celebrities who look and feel rehearsed. You could say that these are my impressions of k-pop and their idols in general.

Enter B1A4

B1A4
B1A4 from left: Gongchan, Sandeul, Jinyoung, Baro, Shinwoo

Last month I watched Love in the Moonlight and got interested in one of the supporting actors. Usually when I watch a film, I check out the cast, and from the ones I liked, check some of their other works. This actor's name is Jinyoung, and he's a singer, a member of a group called B1A4. Because I wanted to hear how he sounded, went straight to YouTube, and voila!

Well, I was not really impressed. His voice was fine and unique, but a little high pitched, not exactly my taste. Then I checked out his group. The first one I saw was a dance practice video. I didn't know these existed in the k-pop world. These should have been available in the 80s and 90s so we didn't have to see just segments of the dance steps in music videos, but I digress.

First video I saw was called Lonely:



These were some of my thoughts while watching: these kids are crazy; nice song; love the choreography; that tall guy is the best dancer (his name, Shinwoo); what a nice-looking bunch!

Then I showed the video to my sister. After the song ended, she stayed on, although she was supposed to be doing laundry. So we picked another dance practice, this time Solo Day. The song quality was consistently good. It was something you can sing along and dance to. The dance steps looked so fun that I promised myself I would try to copy when nobody's around. It was nothing like the usual techno/hip hop k-pop music I hear, but something that was actually k-"pop".

When the dance ended there were more behind-the-scenes clips of the boys playing around. Then suddenly one of them belted out a song in what was an undeniably glorious voice that my sister and I exclaimed at the same time (see video clip below). Even in that short song, we could tell he was special. Wow!



To make the long story short, I became an instant B1A4 fan (or bana – I just can't with these bizarre k-pop terms). It's been a week and I cannot stop listening to their albums on spotify and watching videos about them. I was fortunate enough to have the house to myself one day. Two hours and two drenched shirts were spent trying to follow dance moves without much success. I had the worst pamaol (muscle aches) for the next two days.

Here are some things I learned about this group: 1) their leader Jinyoung (that actor I talked about) has been their main composer and producer since 2014; 2) Sandeul, the main vocalist, is a singing contest king; He is also currently considered by kpopvocalanalysis.net (2016 ranking) as the third best k-pop vocalist (read their very detailed vocal analysis of Sandeul); 3) WM, their agency, gives them freedom to do their own thing.

And here are some things I love about them:

Melody. Like I've always said from previous blog posts, for me melody is the first important thing in a song… and B1A4 makes good melodies. Their albums are really easy to listen to that non-k-pop fans might be able to appreciate. They do, however, have some electronic songs on their albums, but are calmer and more melodic than the usual. Then again the keyword is melody. Their strength lies in catchy tunes c/o the charismatic leader, and in ballads---because Sandeul!

Versatility. Aside from the cheerfully wholesome dance pop, pop/rock, and ballads, their songs have hints of other genres including acoustic, hip hop (c/o Baro, in-house rapper and beatboxer, and Shinwoo who also tries his hand at composing), reggae, funk/jazz and soft rnb/soul.

B1A4 crazy gif
"Dili na sila maniguwang (They will never grow old)," said my father.
Personalities. I don't know how other groups are, but B1A4 is a riot when they are together. They remind me of my favorite Taiwanese group, 5566, in that they never run out of things to laugh about. They make even the most ordinary things fun. E.g. when trying to decide who cooks tomorrows breakfast, play a game, losers cook. While trying to practice pitching a tent, make it a game, last to finish pays for food. At bedtime, after the lights are turned off, start a game, turn lights back on to finish the game, lights off, start another game…?

B1A4 fun gif
Playing with the chairs before the show.
Although always playful, the boys are definitely very down-to-earth and natural, not trying to act cool or sexy. Professionally and personally, especially when they talk about life in general, they are very mature. They take work seriously and always think of ways to improve. They love their fans, respect their elders and each other. It's amazing how the other four look up to their leader, and how everyone looks after each other. They're like real brothers, which is enviable for a friendship.

Talent. Sandeul's voice. Jinyoung's composition. Baro's rap and beatboxing. Shinwoo's dance moves (Although after several viewings, I now find Sandeul to be almost as good and effortless as Shinwoo. While Shinwoo is more freestyle and grace, Sandeul is all about precision and poise. Gongchan, the youngest, is a close third.) Gongchan is said to be good at math! Lol I don't know what else to say except that Gongchan has his moments. Given more time and training, he could still develop his already beautiful soft tone and vibrato. Every one of them also pursue acting.

Below is a video of Sandeul in a duet singing contest:



Looks. Have you seen them? Probably the most good-looking k-pop idol group. And before I forget, they make beautiful music videos. (link to Youtube playlist of their MVs)

Alright I've finally written it all down. I felt the need to so I can move on with my life, ha! And my sister is getting tired of hearing Korean songs. But, they're just too adorable and highly underrated… so spread the love because they truly deserve more recognition.

I'm pretty late in the fandom, so I wish for them several more years of great music and good time together. I still want them to improve as singer-songwriters and mature as artists. Honestly, they should write an acapella song. That would be interesting.

Here's a spotify playlist of my favorites:

Bow.