One Saturday night at a photography club gathering, I showed people in the group a book of photographs I took myself, of a young, female-fronted band I decided to follow on some gigs. I was just starting to take photography seriously, and was frustrated I can’t be as good as I want to be. Tapping into live band photography was something that seemed worthwhile that time, more than a decade ago. A veteran photojournalist I looked up to asked if I was in love with the girl in the band, the vocalist. Of course, I said no. It was the truth, but it was a question I may have been too quick to answer, a word of denial to ignore this fog of confusion of why I was even asked that, and that didn’t even merit attention.

It was apparent that no subject on a live stage has attracted me as much as women. No maestros of their instruments can match. There are little voices that tell me how, hey, there are other members of the band, and that this pursuit is somewhat suspect when seen objectively, but before there’d be anyone to satisfy with the images I get to produce, there was me, and my insecure self.

Could this explain why you don’t really reach out to the bands?

No. I’ve always had in mind that reaching out would be a compromise, and my selfish tendencies shot down.

Oh, but the rock photographers of the olden days didn’t do this! They would follow the band like photojournalists!

I know this, but I was a stubborn case.


I did reach out on social media. It was a gesture on public display, but that time, it felt appropriate. This entire endeavor was for me, and my pictures, and acknowledgment wasn’t expected in return.

Because you don’t want to be disappointed!

I didn’t want to be disappointed.


A(nother) muse, an unsuspecting trigger who started all this, greeted me one weekend night in Quezon City -and not timeline-distant from when I made that photobook- after their live set. I was alone as usual, occupying a table to rest from shooting. The details of the interaction are gone from memory now, and all I remember was this gorgeous being I have not met knew who I was, and that I am, for that moment, a pathetic excuse of someone who should stop being a spectator to it all and be a willing participant, someone who can be more.

A different world

A good chunk of time was spent breathing and existing and peeling tattooed skin since the last time I was in this space. I don’t feel too different, but the air around me does. What surrounds me, and most that I used to care for, is now settled on a cloud of cold disinterest.

There was a crisis of self that had somehow been tamed by how I live now. The apartment building I’m now in is a remnant of – I suppose- late 80s suburban development, full of retirees, and not much parking space for fancy locally made electric cars. The compact high-rise abode I had previously cannot compare, not with elevators, shelter for my scooter, and a new metro station mere steps away. I can hear bird songs most mornings now. The smell of lunchtime fish frying reminds me that its a temporary arrangement for me here, but my neighbor’s live here, the old ones would likely die here, and that rarely seen ceremony with burning paper structures I may witness one day again.

Of course, sometimes I leave. The habit of staying at hotels downtown was justified before, since concerts finish late, and taxi fare can get expensive. I can’t make that excuse now, and I do forget those weekends easily, booked often on a whim, on a fleeting desire for relief. The sun I catch on my face on the metro ride home the morning after each stay is very satisfying, it feels like a light pat on the cheek from a familiar hand.

Yes, I’ve been to concerts since live venues opened up again around May last year, but the music I’ve heard and seen performed on stage has lost so much potency, I can see myself stopping completely. It doesn’t help that I’ve always gone myself, and the handful of people I’ve met in the local scene has stayed as just beautiful, welcoming smiles when I do see them, and nothing much more.

This bleak streak stops here. Going back to not eating lunch here at work.

Yanakoto Sotto Mute in Bangkok, Day 2


A bowl of breakfast cereal was still had at the hostel after a noodle breakfast at the market. I convinced myself it will hit a spot in the gut of satisfaction, and it did. That day, a Sunday, fans will have lunch with the ladies of Yanamyu. There’s not much else on the itinerary. Maybe parlor games? Maybe a Q&A?

It was another long walk to reach the metro. The metro itself was not a far cry from the super-tech ones in China, but a mere fever dream for a place like Manila. I got to the restaurant with no incident, oh but just that one wrong turn that was easily remedied.

Six small tables, and just the right amount of air conditioning. It didn’t take too long for most of the participants to fill the place. Thai, Japanese, one white face, and two other Asians who bothered to book a plane trip to see idols -the best idols!- me and Den, from Malaysia, with whom I needed to bunch with since we don’t do Thai nor Nihonggo.

Continue reading Yanakoto Sotto Mute in Bangkok, Day 2

Yanakoto Sotto Mute in Bangkok, Day 1

Bangkok looked like a better Manila, a Manila that could be. It didn’t take too long for this to sink in last Saturday morning, navigating the streets, in the muggy heat, sharply contrasting with the sub 10 degree weather in Shanghai, where I was at just the night before.


I was here for a concert for Japanese idol rock group Yanakoto Sotto Mute. I’ve started following them a few years ago, when I was more than eager to discover more acts in the ‘alternative idol’ space. They’ve eventually taken the position of being the best out there for me. When an overseas concert in Thailand was announced, I was in. When Japanese idol groups do this, there’s bound to be a smaller, a more intimate crowd setting. Plus, there was no visa caveat in it for me.

Continue reading Yanakoto Sotto Mute in Bangkok, Day 1

PassCode in Taipei (2018)

PassCode played in Taipei again last October, and I did not hesitate to make the trip again that time. I didn’t have to apply for a visa now, due to some new tourist policy in Taiwan for Filipinos. All I had to do next was ask Yennung, the local fan contact I’ve made from the last time I went, to help me get a ticket. In a few short days after the tour announcement, I had photo proof sent to me of my concert entry stub. 

For 2018, PassCode has released new music, and it was even better, harder, than their last release. Their recent music videos were great, and the management has kept a good balance in getting Yuna -my favorite, she who screams for the group- highlighted in some songs. It also looked like they were appearing in more TV shows in Japan. All this has me thinking this loudol (loud idol) outfit will be set for more good things soon.

Continue reading PassCode in Taipei (2018)