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Let’s have a non-music, non-comedy, non-family-related post today, shall we?

Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a fascination with ancient history, specifically mummies. Whether Egyptian, Inuit, or Scandinavian bog, I’ve always found the concept of mummification fascinating, as we can see the various ways the peoples of the world try to hold on to immortality and preserve themselves for all eternity.

Most people think that the best mummies may be found in Egypt, but you’d be surprised to find that some of the best-preserved mummies may be found in China and in Greenland.

Today, I’d like to tell you a little bit about Xin Zhui, more popularly known as Lady Dai, and the Inuit baby found in an icy grave in Greenland. I learned about the former through a special that Cathy watched on National Geographic (or was it Discovery?); I learned about the latter through an old issue of National Geographic that I read when I was a child.

Pictures of the immaculately preserved Inuit baby and Lady Dai (warning: not for the squeamish) after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »


Thanks to Toni, who led me to this adorable baby who can’t stop laughing. Go ahead, watch it; it’s totally worth it.

I didn’t go to the High School Musical auditions at the Ateneo last Saturday. Nathan’s latest nanny didn’t return to us after her day off, and I decided to do the right thing and stay home with my pregnant wife and hyperactive son. We learned a few days later that she took a job at a garment’s factory, leaving her clothes and everything behind. It was a little unusual, I have to admit, and I can honestly say in my heart of hearts that she was treated well, so this latest betrayal comes as a shock to me.

At any rate, I doubt I would’ve stood a chance, especially since there was a dancing segment, and unless they didn’t require the actors playing faculty to dance – an infinitessimal possibility – I probably wouldn’t have made it anyway.

I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed. I have to admit that – hey, I’m 29 going on 30 – maybe a thriving career in music or theater is not meant to be. After all, I promised God it would be His music, and His call, and His timing, that would lead my efforts in making music. My songs are God-songs, and maybe it’s best that my music just focus on Him. If my desire is to make it big in this industry, and that’s not God’s plan, well, Lord, sa Inyo pa rin ang lahat. Salamat pa rin, Lord, dahil loves Ninyo pa rin ako, kahit ang KSP ko.

If God paves the way towards a career in theater for me, that’ll be on His terms. There’ll be other chances; if not, hey, I have a loving wife and a handsome kid who love me to bits. Another beautiful child is joining us in June – that’s what really matters.

Things are looking rather grim for 17-year-old Miguel Mendoza. The past two weeks, the youngest of the four remaining finalists of Philippine Idol has been looking forlorn and defeated. Why wouldn’t he? Poor Miguel is the current object of ridicule and scorn by irate Philippine Idol fans, furious at the resiliency of the tall, relatively good-looking teenager with the sharp eyebrows and good-natured gait. Despite Mendoza’s landing in the bottom two for the first time since the contest began, the ejection of underdog Pow Chavez left fans utterly red with anger, and forums, websites, and blogs are all abuzz with how the scrappy Mendoza has managed to survive this long.

At this point in the contest, I wouldn’t be too surprised if Miguel wants out himself. Who wouldn’t, if all one received at this stage in the game was flak for one’s inferior singing prowess? If one were surrounded by three superior singers, wouldn’t one naturally feel a sense of distress? Watching Miguel perform Can You Feel the Love Tonight was a lesson in irony: of all the remaining finalists, Mendoza received the least love from the live show audience, and it showed. It was as if Miguel could not concentrate on the song, trying, bravely, instead, to fend off all the unspoken hostility and evil wishes the audience in the Megamall theater (and televisions throughout the nation) were hurling at him.

It may have come to that point that poor Miguel, shell-shocked teen singer who may not in the same league as the others, has realized that he’s way in over his head. I wonder if Miguel foresaw what would happen if he actually did make it as far as he has right now, if he anticipated how he, a pleasant 17-year-old in the prime of his youth and with an undoubtedly bright future in any career he would so choose, by his own skills (and Mommy and Daddy’s connections notwithstanding), would be viewed with so much negativity.

Now, consider this exchange:

Ryan Agoncillo:
“Miguel for the past two weeks you’ve been scratching your head after results night kinakabahan ka lagi especially last night, it struck me when you said -I’m ready to go-. Gusto mo pa ba mag continue sa competition na ito, Miguel?”

Miguel Mendoza:
“Oo, if there are people who will still vote for me, okay lang, okay lang din hindi.”

That answer, if anything, was the answer of someone who probably looks at Philippine Idol as something to do, the latest in a variety of activities that a privileged young man can engage in, and possibly do well. However, unlike competitors Mau Marcelo and Gian Magdangal, who have attempted to build careers for themselves in this industry for the longest time, winning Philippine Idol does not seem a matter of life and death to Mendoza (nor, we can safely assume, similarly well-connected finalist Jan Nieto). Which is not to say that neither Nieto nor Mendoza deserve the title any less than Magdangal or Marcelo, but simply to say that the kind of support to which the winner of Philippine Idol is extended to ensure a long and lengthy career, seems rather wasted on someone whose reaction to having arrived this far is, “okay lang.”

On a night when Chavez’s reaction to her having reached this far is a case study in gratitude for having been accepted by a public that has largely resisted opening up to lesbian Filipina musicians, Mendoza’s answer seems apathetic and cold, a slap in the faces of all people who have voted for him. It may seem the reaction of a teenager who is not fully aware of how privileged he is to have gotten this far, in the way having ‘robbed’ similarly talented individuals who will not be able to enjoy the opportunities that come with being Philippine Idol.

Miguel Mendoza does not deserve to be hated. He’s a nice kid with a good voice. Sure, he may not be as good as the others, but that doesn’t mean he deserves to be cussed at, mocked, and insulted. What is his crime?

If anything, I’d rather offer up this piece of advice to Mendoza or his handlers, if ever they find their way into this blog, and should Miguel win the title: Miguel, you have just been given a tremendous opportunity and blessing. Don’t treat the Philippine Idol title as just another notch in your belt, or another fling to do on the side. People voted for you, and they expect you to live up to their expectations. If you do become Philippine Idol, I suggest you run with it, take it very seriously, and build for yourself a long and lasting career. It is an insult to you, to your fellow finalists, to your fans, and to the Idol franchise, for you to not put 100% into this. You got yourself into it, so live up to it, kid. You’re very, very blessed.


On a different note: at the end of the day, Mendoza’s Achilles’ heel is the constant accusation of vote-buying. Should Mendoza win and the suspicions of many are confirmed by lackluster sales of Mendoza’s debut album, I would point my finger at Francis Magalona, whose steadfast insistence in seeing Mendoza through to the Final 24, for unleashing this travesty. Last night, he defended his choice, saying, and I paraphrase, ‘talent can be trained, but looks can’t, and [Miguel has the looks]. You can sell albums.’

Isn’t the entire point of Philippine Idol to find someone who does not need training, whose natural talent is supposed to shine through? Mendoza does have talent, but by Magalona’s acknowledging he needs training, he pretty much admitted that he let someone with less talent than others through. Is the Philippines so bereft (oh, there’s Ryan C’s word!) of talented individuals that the judges let through singers who still need training??

Cathy and I were driving home one night when we started talking about videos, and we got to talking about our favorite music videos. As it turns out, my heavily pop-oriented lifestyle finds me selecting videos that simply appealed to me for its visual splendor and song style. Not surprisingly, almost all these songs come from the early 90s, so take a trip back in time when music videos toed the line between kitsch and kewl.

What are some of your favorite music videos?

Galileo by Indigo Girls. This is one of my favorite videos of all time, and if I had a choice, I’d probably have three Indigo Girls videos in my Top 5 – this one and their videos for Least Complicated and Touch Me Fall. I’ve always believed that Indigo Girls deserves a bigger place in the music pantheon, and this well-thought video, created cheekily with wit and sarcasm firmly in place, ranks highest amongst my favorite vids.

Walking On Broken Glass by Annie Lennox. I like this video because it’s so campy! As if that weren’t enough, John Malkovich makes a guest appearance as the fellow who breaks Lennox’s heart. This character shows up in a later video of Lennox’s, Little Bird. By the way, if you’re a fan of these Victorian-type videos, click here to see another splendid one from Bananarama for their cover of Long Train Running.

The Dream Is Still Alive by Wilson Phillips. Hey, a Ganns list without Wilson Phillips? You’ve got to be kidding. I like this video most of all, because it reminds me of a more innocent time, and the Flower Power heritage of Chynna Phillips and Carnie and Wendy Wilson comes to full fruition here.

Remember the Time by Michael Jackson. I remember this video was soooo hyped back in the day! It’s actually quite well-made, and the special effects here were state-of-the-art at the time. Yman has never looked more regal.

Cornflake Girl by Tori Amos. Between this and Silent All These Years, I would say Tori Amos is pure visual genius. Cornflake Girl is a visual spectacle of train of thought, a totally mesmerizing video that leaves the viewer strangely unsettled.


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