its always sunny in philadelphia

I don't watch that TV show on FX - although I've heard its funny. The title alone is funny because its almost never sunny in Philadelphia. Don't get me wrong, aside from the escalating murder rate and crumbling school system. the city is great (especially if you got money). But there is that pervading toughguy mentality. And in the sports world, Philly ans are notoriously tough. The national media often portrays them as the worst - citing the same examples: cheering Michael Irvin's career ending injury as he laid on the turf, throwing batteries at JD Drew and throwing snowballs while booing Santa Claus.

Aside from those events, their reputation is overblown. While they can be overzealous, they are no more tougher than fans in NY or Boston. I think its more of an East Coast mentality. Philly fans will simply explain it as passion. They are also starving for a championship that has eluded them since the glorious '83 Sixers. To make matters worse, all 4 major sports teams have made the finals only to lose. The Eagles have been the biggest teaser of recent years. Heightening expectations with 4 NFC championship appearances and one Super Bowl loss. This has only intesified the craze and negativity of the Philly fan. This is the one quality I noticed upon arriving in the city years ago. The fans may expect a lot from their teams, but they ultimately expect to be let down. They are prepared for bitter disappointment and are chomping at the bit to unleash their wrath.

But this Sunday gave Philly fans to celebrate for the moment. For once, the Phillies were on the winning side of a historic comeback - erasing a 7 game deficit off the collapsing Mets with 17 games left in the season. I've never heard of a celebration rally for a division championship - but it will be near City Hall on Monday. So for now, everyone will have a bounce in their step, Phillies apparel will litter the streets and everyone in work will be happier. It will be sunny in Philadelphia - at least until Wednesday's playoff opener.


A buddy of mine put me on this DVD called "Scratch". This is a definitive documentary on the hiphop DJ. Loved the interviews with old school legends Afrika Bambaataa and Grand Wizard Theodore. Their stories take you back to the raw essence, expressing that their motivation lied within their love of the art form and a sense of ownership of their creations. Their innovations controlled the party and the music. Things changed when rap moved from its origins in the Bronx and its downtown evolution to the record company. This pushed the emcee to the forefront. While some DJs maintained their relevance during the mainstreaming of rap, others sought to create their lane, evolving into battle DJs and turntablists. As the DJ became phased out of commercial rap, dj competitions, battle tournaments and mixtapes became the driving force behind the artform. It was interesting that many of the DJs cited Herbie Hancock's Rockit (with DXT on the turntables) as their introduction to turntablism. Its a truly compelling history which also examines their techniques and vinyl cratedigging. Its a shame that many DJs today rely on their laptops. The last hiphop concert that I attended had a DJ as an opening act. He spent the majority of the time peering into his laptop and half-heartedly scratching along to a premixed track. Pretty lame and not entertaining at all.

Filipinos were well represented as the film explored the Bay area and Daly City. Great interviews with Babu of Dilated Peoples and the legendary DJ Q-bert. At one point, Babu talks about how Filipino Americans didn't have too many role models. No athletes or actors. Just our parents and Q-bert.

friday music

Justice | D.A.N.C.E

Lupe Fiasco feat. Verbal & Sarah Green | Can You Let Me Know

Kanye West | The Good Life | One More Chance


This reminds me of how our copywriter always chuckles when we put placeholder text our catalog designs such as "Headline for ____ product".


Ever find comfort in the strangest things? My morning schedule has me out the door at the same time every day. During my 30 minute commute I always pass this old red toyota celica on the opposite side of the street near the same intersection. Every morning. In the beginning it made me chuckle. Now its so familiar that its just comforting. 2 strangers with punctual routines crossing paths at the same time and location each morning. Yeah, its been that kind of week - clawing your way to Friday - but I know I'm not the only one in the struggle.

M.I.A. | Paper Planes

Me'shell Ndegeocello | Evolution

Jill Scott | Come See Me

J. Dilla feat. Talib Kweli & Q-tip | Lightworks


We sampled the "Modern Japanese Cuisine" at Haru on 3rd and Chestnut. The bi-level interior has a nice contemporary lounge feel - dimly lit (again dim enough to make my in-laws suspicious about what culinary flaws are being hidden in the dark) with a sushi bar in the back and a fully stocked bar in the middle. We were seated by the windows with a nice view of all the self-important Old City people walking up and down 3rd street.

1st course was decent. We started off with their Vegetable Spring Rolls served with pickled plum sauce. Very tasty and light - the best dish of the night. Next was the Kiss of Fire Roll - a very spicy combination of white tuna, salmon, jalapeno peppers and wasabi tobiko wrapped around crunchy spicy tuna and more jalapenos. The over-the-top flavors were executed well and probably appeals most to American palates. My wife thought the spicyness was too overpowering and that the fish should traditionally be the main flavor. She is definitely a tough critic on Japanese food but I defer to her as a resource of authenticity. I will say that she is very thoughtful about her critique - I often find myself searching her eyes for hints as she deliberates between bites.

The true test for a Japanese restaurant lies within its sushi bar. A chef cannot hide any shortcomings or flaws when executing sushi and sashimi. This is where Haru fell short in our opinion. The overall taste was a little too fishy and the freshness and quality were adequate but not top notch. My wife graded it a C+ and was disappointed at the abscence of Tobiko. She asserted that any sushi offering at a decent restaurant should have an Tobiko (egg) sushi. We both walked out thinking that Haru is Americanized Japanese food with a touch of class. In other words - great for white people that don't know any better.

speed painting

I don't know the artist at the controls of this program (Systemax Paint Tool Sai), but its pretty impressive!

ny-t festival

When we arrived at Central Park for the New York-Tokyo music festival, we were initially disappointed by the underwhelming crowd. The energy was running low even with DJ Red Alert spinning some classic old school joints. DJing aint the same anymore when the dude is checking his playlist on the laptop rather than flipping vinyl.

The eclectic crowd made for interesting people-watching. Lots of backpackers and hiphoppers draped in Bape, ultra-fashionable Japanese and Asians as well as some artsy American folk. Our fashion star of the day was this crazy 80's styled Japanese dude in waist-length dreads rocking striped leggings, fluorescents green hightops and carrying a retro boombox. I was especially drawn to a trio of elderly white people. I suspected that they were professors of Asian studies at one of the universities. They were greeted respectfully by some young people including one white boy who spoke fluent Japanese.

The energy of the whole festival finally picked up when The Teriyaki Boyz hit the stage. Their special guest - to the roaring approval of Bapesters in the crowd - was Bape general Nigo, who DJ'd the whole performance. I know he's gotta be in his mid 30's but he looked like a little boy in chain ropes of platinum. I expected a watered down caricature of American hiphop, but they were actually more entertaining than the usual live rap act. And you can argue that their essence is more respectful of the artform. Their playful showmanship, fashion and musical vibe reminded me of the mid 80's Beastie Boyz. They were fluent in English and slanguistics. I was very impressed how smoothly they switched from Japanese to English in mid rhyme with dexterity. They definitely rocked the crowd and we were really wowed to see the two gray haired female professors waving their hands in the air like they don't care.

Here's their video hamming it up with Kanye and Nigo spoofing YouTube

old stomping grounds

Yesterday I took a field trip with a couple coworkers to check out the student interactive show at my old art school. It had been years since I set foot on campus and not much had changed. It felt like a time machine had transported me back in time. Raver pants may have been replaced by punkrock nuthuggers but overall slacker chic was still in effect. Scraggly art students lazily littered the lawn in the same locations sketching earnestly in their books. Painters slouched and smoked outside the studios. Freshmen lugged plus-sized portfolios bursting at its zippers with newsprint and sketchpads. And you can always pick out the design students from the rest. They walk faster in sleeker clothes carrying a more driven demeanor.

When I was in school, professors reminisced about handmade comps and reminded us that we had it easy with our slick computers. I was compelled to tell students at the show about how the advancement of multimedia software has made things easier for them. Automated code handling and designing with little concern of bandwidth was a pipe dream back in the day. But I didn't want to sound like an old fart. The kids are talented. Some of the entries were clunky and choppy but we came away with one Monty Python flash trailer that wowed us.

I chatted with a couple of old professors. One told me that she still shows my logos to students in her corporate id class. She encouraged me to keep in touch and I gave her my card knowing that I'll be expecting more alumni fund raising requests in the mail.

classic ads

More classic tv commercials from the Philippines.
San Miguel spot from 1974.

This one is so 80's!

San Miguel's Sabado Nights ad from '95


C+P is a live design battle featuring creative types pounding out work on their Macs in front of thousands of people. All work must be from scratch and completed in 15 minutes!

party like a coinstar

In my latest clutter-busting effort, I gathered all the loose change in the house and headed to a nearby Coinstar. I don't use change efficiently when buying things and I hate carrying loads of coins in my pockets. As a result, our drawers turned into overflowing treasure chests of chump change.

My first coinstar experience was amazing. Yeah I know I have no life. Unloading 30 pounds of coins was truly cathartic. I sifted the filter tray like a goldminer as the machine munched on my coins. Sounded much like a slot machine converting a jackpot. I laughed with pride when the coinstar closed its opening and the display screen incredulously told me "My you have a lot of coins! Please wait while we catch up with counting..." The screen also displays the breakdown of coin denominations. I grabbed the rejected coinage - bally casino coins, D&B tokens, subway tokens, yen and other unidentified currency - and reminisced of past travels like a sentimental dope.

I was there for what seemed like an eternity. I shook off any embarrassment as onlookers were wowed by my hoard of coins. I had to take a brief intermission and cashed out to let an old man jump in with his measly gatorade bottle full of change. Then I jumped back in and finished off my loot. It took about 30 minutes and I came away with $300. The cashier's eyes almost popped out when I redeemed my slip. I wasn't expecting that much cash and I immediately parlayed it into a nice dinner out. At the restaurant we toasted Coinstar and chowed down. Yes, we are easily amused.

native tongues

Since leaving my parents house, I've bounced around the urbanized areas of philly up until my current dwelling in the white suburbia of jersey. Throughout this journey - I've never really submerged myself in a filipino community. The one exception was in college, when I joined the Temple University Filipino American Council (TUPAC). (Funny side note on that acronym: When I first transferred to Temple, a sophmore girl asked me if I heard of TUPAC, I replied, "Yeah, he got shot right?") The club was more of an excuse to hook up and party rather than a cultural bonding. I'll never forget the subject of the first meeting I attended: examples of the corniest pick up lines.

In South Jersey, pinoys are spread out and there's no Jersey City type of enclave. There is a filipino dominated church in Old City Philly but I'm not a dedicated churchgoer. Back in college, a friend brought me to her usual Sunday mass which was followed by a nice luncheon and some cultural performances. Enjoyable... until a group of titos and titas started auditioning me as a possible boyfriend for their daughters.

At work, I keep up with a couple pinoys in other departments. One girl is half pinay and half german. She grew up in the boonies of Pennsylvania and admitted that I'm probably the third filipino that she's ever met in her life. But she's well versed in filipino cuisine. Then there the half pinoy/half black kid that grew up near Trenton. We could talk about filipino food for hours and the love for his grandmother's cooking is unparalleled. He's never been to the Philippines and he's dying to visit. The three of us made a special excursion to a local filipino restaurant in NE philly called Manila Bay. Our conversations are often consumed by food or sorting out hazy memories of our childhood. In this sense, our connections with filipino culture aren't necessarily defined by us but rather by relation to our parents and families. I'd love to chop it up with them more if our schedule didn't conflict so much.

I suppose there's a cultural disconnect on some level but then again I didn't grow up in Jersey City or Stockton. Actually when I attend family reunions nowadays, there's almost a culture shock in being in a room full of filipinos. I have to readjust to their humor, remember forgotten customs or words. Even my stomach has to remember how to deal with certain food ingredients. But it doesn't take long to get reacquainted.

The other day at the gym, I was focused in on my workout when I heard utterances of tagalog behind me. My head jerked around involuntarily to see two girls conversing and stairmastering. They were young - must be 1st generation because 2nd gens are rarely taught to speak so fluently. Couldn't really catch the conversation. Growing up hearing my parents conversations, I usually picked up 70% of it through common words and filling in the blanks. I'm horribly out of practice. On the rare occurence that I come across it in public, I almost stop in my tracks. I'm almost compelled to follow the filipino family around Target to finish off the conversation. Their native toungue is a reminder of a childhood long ago.

shop talk / air max 1 & court forces

I paid a visit to the Kicks store in Cherry Hill to cash in on a birthday gift certificate from one of my fellow sneakerhead buddies. Their collection is small but peppered with some gems. Plus the salespeople are fairly mindful of their job - unlike other "urban" stores where saleskids have to ignore you to maintain the legitimacy of their street cred. Being enthusiatically attentive aint cool. So I end up yelling out my size and waving the desired sneakers like a traffic cop in a Manhattan rush hour blackout before they nod and disappear in the back room for half an hour.

I'm debating if that attitude is worse than the needy hyper-intrusive salesperson. Stop watching me. And stop stalking me. Why won't you believe me when I say "Thanks, I'm just looking?!?!" The worst examples of this scenario occur during gift shopping for my wife. There is always a little uneasiness about walking into a female clothing store by myself and dealing with the swarm of pushy saleswomen smelling the blood of a sucka. My indecisive shopping personality (my wife calls it my lost puppy mode) doesn't help matters. Fending off their full-store press of fake conversations and faker flirtations is exhausting. A couple years ago at Victoria's Secret, I found myself in the exact same situation as Will Smith at the lingerie store in Enemy of the State. Am I supposed to be comfortable when the salesgirl offers her body for comparison sizing for my wife's gift? I'm not really supposed to look this chick up and down to make a decision right? You'd think I'd swear myself to online shopping after that...

Back to the kicks. I bought a pair of Air Max 1 Premiums with perforated grey nubuck accented with black leather. A nice toned down colorway for autumn with enough LCD green accents to create some interest.

My in-laws in Japan were generous enough to send a classy pair of metallic gold accented Court Forces. I'm very appreciative of their efforts to add to my collection - which they have declared as celebrity status! Plus they sent a package of fall goodies from Uniqlo. My wife and I completed this day of consumption with a mini-shopping spree that added a bounce to our step. Damn we can be shallow sometimes...but at least we got a lot of stuff on sale.

the good life

His crybaby outbursts are embarrassingly idiotic but the album is decent and this video is fun.

jet li x san miguel

with a cameo by Manny Pacquiao!


The lost art of bboying. Right now, the art form is more respected outside of the U.S. where a varied cultural interpretation has kept it fresh. 16 crews reppin' 14 countries in the R-16 - Seoul's 2nd annual international breakdancing championship.

born day

Why am I blogging on my bday? Well I actually went to work today and now I'm pretending to work. Birthdays aint quite the same when you don't want to keep track of your age. Not that I was ever into big celebrations...but its quite the non-event for me. Especially since I've had to share the day with 9-11 commemorations.

This morning I received some complementary greetings around the workplace. Then I ran into a former friend from my old department. She reminded me that her husband still doesn't want her to talk to me. Ouch. But I move on because I had nothing to do with their ongoing mess.

My real birthday treat was last weekend's return to Alma De Cuba. We had a nice spread featuring tuna, salmon & fluke ceviche; scallops over lobster risotto with plantains; duck respado with rice and vanilla rum tres leches. Yummy. A perfect birthday. No need for a crazy party. No need to get drunk with questionable friends. Just a relaxing dinner with my wife at a nice restaurant. Hmmm...I must be getting old

minority report

I am the only person of color in my office. But I'm not the token minority in my office. In other words, I pull my weight as expected. But since its a fairly liberal environment, white people will tiptoe around me at times (aside from our interoffice bball games where I've been nicknamed the "Filipino Monsoon" for raining buckets with the basketball.) Any subject involving race or ethnicity is handled in front of me with ultra respectful sensitivity. I suspect this isn't the case in my absence. I don't know whether to appreciate their efforts to be PC or to be annoyed by their overcompensation. Either way, I manage to be likeable. I have not alienated myself as the angry person of color (at least I don't think so).

Perceptions are funny though - especially initial reactions. When I arrived at my new post, I was introduced as a talented designer but perceived as the young urban hiphop kid. First off, I may have a youngish appearance and I'm the youngest in my department, but I'm clearly not a kid. I have to remind them that yes, I do remember things from the 80's. And one coworker nearly spit out his drink when I mentioned that I've been married for 7 years. He replied, "Wait, how old are you?!?!" I should've told him I was in a cult and married at age 14.

Secondly, I seemingly shocked them when I told them I live in the quiet burbs in south jersey instead of the murderous streets of killadelphia. Huh, the kid lives amongst us? One lady, who happens to be the whitest lady I ever met said, "What?! I thought you lived in Philly. You're like all urban." I thought about telling her that I was on furlough but she'd probably believe it. So I simply replied, "Yes, yes, I did live there for years but now I'm in jersey".

And then there's music. We like to promote a creative environment so often music is blasted in the office. A lot of my coworkers were former rock n' rollers. So they rock out. Which is cool. There's a couple guys closer to my age that dabble in hiphop. Of course, since they're white suburbanites, they put on the most hardcore shit and blast it out. Call me soft, but when I've play music in the office, I select the most unoffensive songs - there are women in our area to be respected. But not these guys. Once a month, they'll blast WuTang, MOP, Biggie, Ghostface with the "n" word and ho's and bitches and profanity all up in the air. One time I had to speak to a marketing rep at her desk about a job. And she cheerfully tiptoed a feigned approval, "This must be your music. (background music: slaughter / electrical tape around your daughter) You put this on right? (cocksucker, g's up...p*ssy when i want, rolex on the arm, you'll die slow but calm) I don't know who it is, but I like it!" I reply... "umm.. its Biggie (hoping that porno sex track from "Ready to Die" doesn't come on)...umm I didn't put it on...but I yeah...I like it."

Then one day, some guy noticed 5 years later that kids like to wear baseball caps with the brims straight and the sticker left on it. "Why do they do this?" Of course, eyes fell on me for an explanation. On another day, they were debating slang and concluded that I could explain the definition of "flossin'" and the meaning of brushing dirt off your shoulder. I'm considering buying them that Urban Dictionary book that I saw at B&N, so that they can speak "my language".

Ultimately their good, if not awkward intentions are humorous and harmless in my eyes. Reminds me of college, when me and my korean roomate each put a towel over our heads and steamed our faces over a boiling pot of water (ok, that sounds weird but it feels good). Our white roomate walked in and asked what we were doing. Korean guy replied bluntly, "Its part of our religion." White guy exclaims, "Oh that is soooo interesting. I had no idea that it was part of your religion!" Of course he didn't ask what religion we belonged to and walked away enlightened. Probably proudly told all his friends that chinese people steam their faces to pay homage to hindu cow gods.

Notorious B.I.G. | Who Shot Ya?

NFL 07

Ok, I know it already started on Thursday...but let the NFL season begin! I'm not participating in any fantasy leagues or season pools (though I fondly remember winning the season long office pool a few years ago) but here are my predictions:

Playoff teams:
AFC: New England 13-3, Baltimore 10-6, Indianapolis 12-4, San Diego 12-4
Wildcards: Cincinnati 9-7, Denver 9-7

NFC: Philadelphia 10-6, Chicago 11-5, New Orleans 9-7, Seattle 9-7
Wildcards: Dallas 10-6, SF 8-8

AFC championship: NE over SD
NFC championship: Chi over Phi

SuperBowl: NE over Chicago

We can laugh at these at the end of the season.

ray fenwick

I'm diggin' the personality of Ray Fenwick's artwork - great hand done quality and typographic energy!

onitsuka tiger x tokidoki

Onitsuka Tiger announced an upcoming collabo with tokidoki. Should be a fun collection if its anything like tokidoki's work with LeSportsac and New Era.

U.S. Open

I used to attend the U.S. Open tennis tournament yearly as a kid. My uncle would provide us with tickets (courtesy of his company) and take us up to Flushing Meadows for a full day of matches that often lasted late into the night. Then we would celebrate my birthday back at his house before returning to Maryland for the new school year. The event always signaled the arrival of autumn. The most memorable year: Super Saturday in '90 featuring Agassi beating Becker, an unknown Sampras beating McEnroe in the semifinals and Graf beating Sabatini in the Women's Final. The whole charm of the open is the environment in Queens - the airplanes flying overhead and the raucous night crowds.

Novak Djokovic has had a great year of tennis including a meteoric rise to #3 world ranking. I don't think he'll beat Federer at the U.S. Open, but I'll be rooting for him. His comedic personality is refreshing for the game.

Great impressions of other tennis players:

Meeting Antonio "Desperado" Banderas:


Summers are never complete without at least one crab feast. Growing up in Maryland means the only crabs worth eating are jumbo sized with Chesapeake Bay seasoning. Being Filipino means we eat them with rice and wash them down with cans of coke. The whole ritual is second nature. Spread out the newspaper to cover the table, serve out the rice, set up bowls of vinegar for dipping the crab meat, water bowls for rinsing bay seasoned fingers and grocery bags on the floor for all the empty shells. Last weekend, my parents grabbed 2 dozen crabs from Gibby's and we all sat down for hours.

Another crab eating tradition: my dad's story of the Englishman. A British friend of a friend visited our house long ago and requested to sample Maryland's famous crabs. But his prim sensibilities were horrified when my parents brought in a tray of crabs and began cracking open and eating them by hand, "Oh, no no no... I can't eat them like that! I was expecting some sort of crabcake." My dad laughs heartily with a sense of pride knowing that our down n' dirty ways are not everyone's (especially that Englishman) cup of tea. Now that my wife has mastered the techniques of opening a crab, my father has moved on to showing her how filipinos eat rice with their hand. I personally start ignoring the rice once I get to my 8th or 9th crab. The only problem with our method of eating is that you never know when you're full ... until its too late.

Its been nearly a week, and my wife and I have finally finished all the leftover crabmeat! I'm done till next summer!

get your wiki on...

... at WikiPilipinas.

By the way, we had another nice outing at Cendrillon. Had some nice Kare Kare (oxtail) with eggplant, stringbeans and assorted veggies in peanut butter sauce with bagoong (shrimp paste) on the side. Again the highlight of the evening was the halohalo topped off with ube ice cream. Nothing attracts more attention than a huge halo halo. One middle aged filipina was pointing out and explaining the dessert to her caucasian friend. She greeted me warmly and reminded me to slush it around with my spoon. Thanks tita!

jeff soto / scion tour

Imaginative work from cali-based artist Jeff Soto. He's one of the many artists featured on Scion's Installation 4 Art Tour titled "Its a Beautiful World" Scion is not just a cool automaker (love my resilient little car) but they give a lot of support to the music and art scene. I applaud their marketing efforts in producing DJ/music events, gallery tours and auto shows with open invites to all Scion owners. Not to mention some nice music compilations.

Scion mix sampler 1

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