ria osorio

Two Days after Divas Live in Manila 2016. Senti Mode

2016-10-20 15.03.14
(noise-cancelling headphones.. one of the best purchases of my year)

Two days after the wonderful storm that was the Divas Live in Manila concert, I'm in a sentimental mode.

Pic above was taken in Hilton Hotel in London. This was where I finished the Divas’ Opening Medley Number 1, while still recovering from Bamboo's show in Scotland the night before, and from the flight from Scotland. Opening Medley Number 2 was started in Ireland and finished in Dubai. I only did 6 arrangements for the show (3 medleys and 3 single songs), the rest we farmed out to other arrangers, but it was probably one of the hardest things I've ever done! Because I did them while touring 5 countries for 6 smashing shows with Bamboo in 18 days, sound check, shuttling from hotel to venue and back, 12+ airport stops, 4 time zones. Jet lag, packing and unpacking hectic-ness (6 hotels), and the occasional hangover (eep), while coordinating with the other arrangers, with the artists, production team, and suppliers in Manila.

It was hard to do arrangements in the mobile workstation, away from my home studio. All the while missing my husband and daughter.

(victory pose after the gig in Dubai)

Sometimes when my comrades toured whichever city or shopped while I locked myself up in the hotel room to work, I'd question why I was doing this. But after everything, I now bask in the realization that it was all worth it. Music is my sport, the training can be gruelling, and then we go all-out during the show. Rinse, recover, repeat.

2016-10-23 13.51.11
(I made some very notable exceptions, though. Do I stay in the hotel room to work, and miss bar-hopping in Ireland? No way!)

Walking in beautiful and unfamiliar streets, removed from my usual contexts, gave me a creative energy that helped me to attack the workload relentlessly, and opened up my mind. It also helped that Spicy Lemon production/touring group put us in posh hotels in lovely areas, all 6 stops.

It helped that many of the songs in Divas were girl-power anthems that got my blood running, heheh.


After the first rehearsal

Ironing out harmonies with KZ and Yeng

A few light moments with extraordinary musicians Michael Alba and Karel Honasan before the countdown began

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I realise I haven’t had the time to organise my photos from the Bamboo Tour. I’ll just save that for the next blog post.

- Ria Happy

Tribal Games


In 2009 I composed a short piece of music for a friend. I added it to my playlist, “Trip Lang,” a collection of my attempts to find the intersection between the different genres of music that I like. And as the playlist title suggests, it’s just for kicks.

Philippine traditional music plus strings, and a bit of jazz in the intro. My thanks to Bob Aves for letting me use one of the sampled gong libraries in his collection. The kulintang patterns are inspired by the only kulintang piece that I can play out of memory (and poorly), Binalig # 3, from South Cotabato. Thank you to ma’m Aga Mayo Butocan for the transcription.

Here it is! Tribal Games download

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Playdates for PI Jazzfest

To those who might be interested, here is my schedule for the Philippine International Jazz Festival.

Feb. 11 - Noel Cabangon @ Glorietta, Ayala Center, Makati. 6pm
along with Mel Villena’s A.M.P. Big Band, Johnny and Rosanna Gaerlan

Feb. 19 - Mishka Adams @ Bacolod Jazz Festival. 6pm
along with artists Sinosikat, Boy Katindig, Nancy Brew feat. Logic Band

Feb. 21 - Mishka Adams @ Jazz at Salon de Ning, The Peninsula Manila. 10pm
Mishka Adams (London)
Aya Korem, Adam Ben Amitai (Israel)
Jerianne, Shane and the Brown Union

Feb. 22 - Mishka Adams @ Cultural Nights. Greenbelt 3 Park, Ayala Center, Makati. 8pm

Feb. 25 - Mishka Adams @ ABS CBN Night. Rockwell Tent. 6pm
main attraction will be FOURPLAY with Bob James, Nathan East, Chuck Loeb, Harvey Mason
also featuring Jon Irabagon

view the full PI Jazzfest 2011 schedule here - http://www.pijazzfest.com/

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The Spaces in Between


Throughout the scoring phase of RPG Metanoia, I had bits of time scattered here and there to do other stuff (hence the title).  While waiting for directives or instructions for revisions, or hanging out at Starbucks with my arranger friends, somehow I managed to:

1. Write two new songs
2. Write 24 bars of big band for my next project
3. Log in 18-40kms of running per week.  Even joined a 21km race, which I wasn’t able to finish by the way, but that’s another story..

Sometimes, the spaces in between really matter much more than we think.

Incidentally, the song I wrote for the RPG Metanoia soundtrack album is of the same title.  You can download it (as well as the other tracks) here - http://www.starrecords.ph/album_details.asp?id=364

Watch the movie!  Screening starts Dec. 25, in theaters nationwide.

View full trailer

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Rounding the Bend



Finally taking a bit of a breather after weeks of scoring for the upcoming movie,
RPG Metanoia. Though I’ve never run a marathon (in its full 42km glory), I would think this would have been the mental equivalent of running one. Yesterday I sat through the mixing session at Roadrunner, and it just felt good to sit back a bit and let the realization sink in, that, hey I’m part of something this big and beautiful. Hope you guys can watch!

Oh, and I wrote one song for the soundtrack album too.

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Bob Aves Group @ National Museum of Singapore

October 31-November 1, 2009. Bob Aves jazz group played at the National Museum of Singapore. Details about the event here at their website.

The music is an intersection of different cultures and heritages of the Philippines. Traditional kulintang music, Spanish influences, and Western jazz idioms blend seamlessly to form a new brand of Philippine jazz.

I played for two days. The first day was for Bob’s performance-lecture at the National Museum. The second day (photos below) was at the front area of the museum. A few meters away, there was a tent where Filipino treats were sold - lechong kawali, Crispy Pata, bibingka, San Miguel beer, all the good stuff.

I regretted very much that I didn’t bring a camera with me. During the times that we weren’t playing, Tusa and I got to go around our area a bit. I enjoyed walking around the city. Singapore is so clean and organized. No need to get scared while crossing the streets. The food is good, and relatively cheap, too.

Fortunately, here are some photos from the gig by my mom’s (and now also my) friend, Edsel Tolentino.

Bob, main man, w/ octavina


Bob Aves, Jorge San Jose (drums), Simon Tan (bass)

Tusa Montes, Bob Aves, Jorge San Jose, Simon Tan, Ria Osorio

Jorge, Simon, Ria


One, two, three, and...

The Bow

Many thanks to the organizers and staff of the National Museum of Singapore for inviting the group to play.


Later that night, we were invited to dinner by Johnny Gaerlan, a Singapore-based Filipino bassist, who plays regularly at the Indo Chine, one of the swanky restaurants in Singapore. We we treated with a nice view by the riverside. I had duck soup. (Again, no photo to show for it. A camera will be at the top of my gear wishlist from now on.)

From L-R: Johnny Gaerlan, Edsel Tolentino, me, Bob Aves, Grace Nono, Jorge San Jose, Simon Tan.


Regarding Bob’s music, I see myself adopting the same spirit for my arrangements and compositions. Lately, I work a lot with larger ensembles. Using large ensembles like the big band and the orchestra, I want to be able to continue along this direction that was opened up to me by Bob Aves and Grace Nono (since I started playing with them around eight years ago), as well as mentor and friend Maestro Angel Pena. Was able to take the first baby steps towards this direction when I was commissioned to write music for the official video of the Philippine Supreme Court. With the help of Bob’s sampled gongs, and the traditional material available to me, I tried my hand in combining gongs and the orchestra (Manila Symphony Orchestra). Will post music clips here when I get my copy of the video. This is an exciting avenue to explore, as the possibilities are endless.

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Arrangement for INC Choir - Video and Notes

Last July, we had the opportunity to provide music for the Iglesia Ni Cristo’s 95th Anniversary. FILharmoniKA plus some friends and reinforcements. It was a wonderful night and I had a great time writing arrangements for the praise songs.

I’d like to feature here one of my arrangements for the 95th Anniversary. “Mga Alipin Sa Malayong Silangan” (Servants from the Far East) was composed by the National Artist, Lucio San Pedro. The Tabernacle choir already had their own arrangement of the song, and my task was to write the orchestra part to accompany the choir.

Here is a video of the song: (please wait for it to buffer first and then scroll to the 1:00 mark)’

Alipin Sa Malayong Silangan

So how do I tackle an assignment such as this? I’ve tried many methods, but here’s a simplified and generalized workflow that I use a lot:
1. First, internalize the material given. Take into account not just the melody, but the lyrics as well. What is the message? Who is the audience? In this case, the material is a song of praise to the Lord God. From internalizing the material, I can get a good overview of the outline of the arrangement already. If the line goes “Praise Him, Praise Him,” repeatedly, then that will probably be a majestic section. (Unless the client or artist specifically calls for a more intimate or tender treatment). On the other hand, the verses where the song seems to be narrating a story seem to call for more subdued devices. More on that later...

A side note on internalizing a given song: If I have been given an audio file of a song to rearrange (meaning there is already an existing arrangement) and I am required to make a completely new and original arrangement, I usually don’t like spending much time listening to the old arrangement. Instead, I play the audio file a few times, notate the melody on paper or software, and work on it from there. The reason for this is I find I’m freer to think of new environments for the song in question when I’m not too familiar with the old arrangements. But for songs that I’ve heard hundreds of times prior to rearranging them, well, that’s a story for another blog post...

2. Make a rough outline or sketch of the arrangement. Following my notes from the previous step (e.g. where I determine the peaks and valleys of the songs to be roughly located), I do a quick sketch of the arrangement. I like doing this step on a condensed score staff paper, with the melody written out in one of the staves. This way, I don’t need to flesh out everything at once. It gives me free rein to jot down contrapuntal lines that come to mind, not necessarily fully orchestrated at this point. If the song/melody is the FOREGROUND, here now the PRIMARY BACKGROUND begins to take shape. Lines or blocks of music which support and enhance the melody. The BACKGROUND usually consists of many levels. Also, the foreground and background usually shift from one instrument or instrument group to another. And instead of writing out the full orchestration, I can just specify here, “string pads” or “horn beds” or “majestic brasses”, something along those lines.

For this song, if the section called out for a majestic treatment (such as the repeated “Praise Him, Praise HIm”, or Purihin, Purihin) I’ve put in trumpets, trombones, horns, cymbals and drums.

3. After the rough sketch, I flesh out and fill in the details using notation software. Here is possibly the most tedious part of the orchestration process, but it also can be the easiest in terms of need for ideas - since I have already plotted out the whole song in a sketch. I already have the major counterpoints in place, the accompanying devices, and the only thing left now is to decide (with more detail) what instrument gets to play what. Here is where I decide how many string parts are needed for a particular section, or how I will voice them.

Here is also the stage where I still tend to consult orchestration books. Sometimes I forget about the ideal ranges of instruments, especially if I’ve not written for them for quite sometime. (Of course, the consulting part is skipped when I’m really in a hurry - and I just tend to go with the stuff I know instead of trying out new things).

Many times, stages two and three overlap. Sometimes I like to do sketches up to three sections, and then if I’m running out of ideas, I try to flesh out the sketch. And then, from that fleshing-out, I get more ideas for the remaining sections. I also use the playback function of the software here, but only to check for errors, and also to get a general overview of how the piece is coming out.

4. Lastly, I play back the arrangement on the software, and try to revise. Sometimes I need to erase certain parts, in order to lend more clarity to the arrangement, and also to make the “big” parts stand out more. For instance, if I find that one of the sections is a really busy one in terms of accompaniment, I would delete notes from the previous section in order to not overcrowd the melody. I’m still of the school of thought in music where the main melody is the main feature of the arrangement.. All else is written to enhance, clarify, and solidify the message. This does not mean that arrangements should be oversimplified. My most favorite arrangements are those that have the depth and complexity, but they feature the melody so well, that it can only be magic.

Also, check out Gerard Salonga’s arrangement of Sumilang Na, which has become one of my most favorite arrangements for the year. Been also studying the score for this one.

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My First Duathlon (Sprint Distance)

Around two weeks to the event, I decided to join the Powerade Sprint Duathlon, 3rd Leg. 7km run - 30km bike - 3.5km run. Macapagal Road, MOA area.

Aside from a few trails with friends, plus biking around the village and Ayala Alabang, I haven’t really had ample saddle time for this event. Add to this, I had a mountain bike instead of the appropriate road bike. Was really in this for the experience, and to have fun...

(Photos by Jingle Buena)

Early morning! Me, Arnold Buena and King Fernandez. Arnold is an accomplished composer/arranger.
early am pic

Another musician friend in the race! Hannah Romawac-Olives of Sessionroad.

Off we go!

(photo below courtesy of Thumbie Remigio)


Having an easy run and trying to practice my Chi-Running form

Transition to bike portion. Lagoooooooot! See, I was able to overtake a lot of people during the 1st run. But knew I was about to get smoked.... Smile pa rin!

At the bike turnaround...

This is funny! Got this photo from Thumbie Remigio’s site. Mountain biker trying to keep up with roadies! I was trying to mimic their position on the handlebars to minimize air resistance. It tired my arms out a lot. Deo P., a strong triathlete who is very helpful in the forums, once advised, “Leave the roads to the road bikes and the trails to the mountain bikes.” NOW I know why.

On a side note, I’d do this again, in spite of it all. I don’t see myself becoming a road biker anytime in the immediate future, but I’d still join duathlons occasionally for the fun and physical training. Why not? It’ll add to my fitness for the trails, and help me get fit for cross-country mountain bike racing in the future. With some more saddle time, I think I can aim for a pretty decent finish next time. (Of course I still plan to ride trails mostly)

Finishing. Haaay, salamat! Around thirty minutes shy of the 3-hour cutoff.

King, me, and Arnold at the finish line. King is really strong - he finished this event in an even heavier mountain bike than mine.

Thanks to Powerade and organizers for a successful event!


Run1: 0:41:42 (including transition 1)
Bike: 1:30:05 (including transition 2)
Run 2: 0:25:08
Total: 2:36:55

I placed 15th.... out of 16 females! Yahoo! Hehehe. But the important thing is, I finished...

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Haay September Na...

Haaay... I had originally set up this blog with the goal of writing weekly. It turned out to be harder than I thought.

It’s hard because I want to write interesting things, maybe some more orchestration or MIDI tutorials, maybe some album and band reviews, and definitely stuff I learn and experience in music, . For my hobbies such as running and biking, I want to write nice accounts of what happened, during my training and racing. Unfortunately, I don’t have the discipline for really churning out weekly content.

So now, just to not let this week pass without any new content, I’ll just post a rundown of my September so far.

Moved to a “new” space in the office (mid-August pala ito)
- once a resident of the third floor, my suite is now in the fourth, where I now have access to “my own” vocal booth. Yahoo!
- my third move ever since I started working in Carmel House Studios.

Recordings for Aiza Seguerra
- new album coming up! It’ll be a Singapore release.

here’s a video with me on piano (from the last album release)

Flow gigs
- continued playing for Flow, a musical/dance/acrobatic show in Pagcor. Full big band setup here, and my father Mel Villena is the musical director.

Learn more about Flow here

Singing Bee gigs
- am still writing for SInging Bee, the evening game show. I write music sheets for the band, for those songs that stop in the middle, and contestants have to complete the lyrics.


Arranged music for our company’s choir
- Globalink’s choir, whose album is in the works.

Attended big band clinics at Ten 02 Bar
- with the intention of honing my big band arranging skills, and of course hanging out with the cool musicians. Sometimes I played piano too.

Now arranging music for Eat Bulaga’s Bulilit Birit
- Yup, I’m doing this at the moment, and just taking a break from it.. need to submit the arrangements tomorrow afternoon.

Attended the iBike clinic
- there are some photos here

Attained my best 10k time so far
- At Ayala Eco-Dash race. And this was unintended (1hr. 3 mins. for the 10k). I think I would’ve done better if I hadn’t been biking the whole day before.

Joined my first Duathlon (sprint distance: 7k run, 30k bike, 3.5k run)
- dismal finish, but the point is, I finished! Now I know what I need to train for, for next time.

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Whew, I think that’s a lot so far! No wonder I don’t get to blog much. I think it gets even crazier when the -ber months are well underway.

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MIDI vs. Live Recording: An Orchestration Exercise

Here is an arrangement and orchestration I did around seven months ago, of Vanessa Paradis’s Divine Idylle. The original recording was arranged in a 60’s-inspired style. For this project, we made new versions of her songs for the orchestra, which were really different from the original arrangements. (to listen to the original recording of Divine Idylle, view her music video in Youtube.)

MIDI VS. LIVE arrangement

Now, here are the two “realizations” of the arrangement I did for this song:

The first one is a MIDI version. The bulk of the samples are from the Vienna Symphonic Library, with a few Kirk Hunter Strings and some East West instruments. It doesn’t have vocals yet here... Also, I posted my draft mix, in order to illustrate some stuff that could be improved on (which I will go into detail later). Listen to this one first.

Divine Idylle MIDI version ©Carmel House Studios, 2009

(Pardon the copy-protect thingy, I had to insert annoying “reminders” throughout the mp3 clips so as to discourage unauthorized use)

The second one is a live version, recorded by FILharmoniKA at Carmel House Studios. I sang a demo vocal in it, in French. (I did my best, ok?)

Divine Idylle LIVE version ©Carmel House Studios, 2009

To be able to compare the two, side by side in your own DAW or sequencer: Set the tempo to 90 BPM, create an audio track for each mp3, then start them at bar 1. Just mute or solo one track if you’re listening to the other.


Now let’s look at how the MIDI version could’ve been improved on, based what we’ve heard from the live orchestra version. (Or if there are parts of the MIDI orchestration which I prefer over my live orchestration)

1. BAR 2 onwards: MIDI version has too much reverb on the snare drum
- this was pointed out to me in one of the orchestration forums I frequent.

2. BAR 2-10: I spent a lot of hours automating the MIDI string tracks in order to have them imitate the sound envelope of a large string section’s attack and decay (on slow-moving lines), and I thought I was able to make a convincing sound, till I heard the live version. I think strings are one of the most difficult instruments to realize in MIDI! Because even when you’ve got the sound envelope right, there are a vast number of other factors to consider: String players usually don’t perform their vibratos at the same time, and at the exact same speed, and there is some sort of “sympathetic vibration” going on.. their overall sound is just massive and lush.

A technique that a mentor of mine shared with me, which helps a lot in MIDI orchestration is this: DON’T quantize your arrangements, as live players don’t play at the exact same millisecond anyway.

3. BAR 2-5: MIDI version used an English Horn.. but an English Horn was not available during the live session, so I had a Clarinet substitute for the English Horn lines. I think it worked nicely, though.

4. BAR 6: The attack of the Trumpet Ensemble on the MIDI version could’ve been less biting.. the live trumpet players were able to adjust to the mellow treatment of the strings on that particular line.

5. BAR 9, live version: Wrong note on the brasses.. whoops!

6. BAR 23: Hmm, I don’t know whose sound I prefer over the other here, the MIDI trombone ensemble, or the live one (a matter of preference in mixing). I sometimes like that “brassy” sound to the trombones in that register (which I did in the MIDI), even in a ballad setting.

7. BAR 27: I revised some string lines for the live version here because in the MIDI version, they just seemed to “drift off”.

8. BAR 36: Again, something I find difficult with MIDI strings: attaining a soft and “round” sound. Too often, the string samples are too bright or too striking. For a soft passage, one has to play the samples softer, but the softer velocity layers in samples don’t have that intensity or life which live players bring to the session. I’m sure there are workarounds here (maybe use a small cello ensemble along with the viola part?). VSL already contains some of the “darker” string samples out there, but will still need a lot of tweaking to achieve a convincing mellow sound.

9. BAR 44-45: Okay, that MIDI oboe didn’t quite pass the test for “almost sounds live”. Notice how in the live oboe recording, there are small, almost unnoticeable “breaks” in the line, which occur during the player’s key-switching. In my effort to make my MIDI oboe sound legato, I forgot that small but important detail, thus making the MIDI oboe sound really MIDI, as if a keyboard was playing the notes (which is what we really want to avoid in MIDI orchestration). I wonder if using an Oboe Legato patch could’ve solved the problem?

10. BAR 46-49 Now here’s one part where I liked the MIDI strings, because they seemed to have life in them. But the line would’ve worked better if the string reverb was brought low, even if only in this part.

11. BAR 50-51 The woodwinds in the MIDI were too “up front” and too loud to be convincing.

12. BAR 52: Another instance where I prefer the mix of my brasses in the MIDI over the live one.. I would’ve liked the trumpets to “blare” a bit, especially in that register, but they were somehow drowned out in the live version. I wanted the brasses to be up front here because they were a “response” to the woodwinds in bars 50-51. Again, this is a matter of preference rather than a textbook rule.

13. BAR 55: In the MIDI version, you could still hear the woodwind lines, but notice how they were drowned out in the live version (or to put it better, they “blended” well with the other orchestra instruments that they doubled in unison). As an arranger, I would’ve liked the woodwind lines to have been heard, but in reality, they would’ve really been smothered by the rest of the orchestra in that register, also because of the dynamic level of that part of the piece. I’d admit that this is where my weakness in mixing lies.. in MIDI, I sometimes make the mistake of highlighting a certain passage in order to make it come out, even if by “live orchestration standards,” the passage could not have floated over the rest of the orchestra. (Unless, of course, we are talking about a soloist, in which case the instrument will really have its own separate mic).

14. BAR 78: I forgot to put the crescendo mark on the brasses (which was there in my MIDI), so they just sort of drifted off in the live version. But I think the “drift off” worked better.

15. BAR 81-84: Hmm. It’s only now that I realized I forgot to put all my cymbal washes into the live version. He he! Too bad, it would’ve really added to the effect I’ve intended.

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There.. hope you liked this mini-analysis!


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Quick Change. The CompanY With Jon Santos Live

Reposting this invite. Please watch!

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Quick Change Artists!

For more than two decades, Asia’s premiere vocal group – The CompanY and irrepressible funny man – Jon Santos, have proven to be the quintessential quick change artists. As seasoned artisans of their craft, it is their chameleonic abilities to reinvent and adapt that have made them credible, dependable and effective powerhouses in the arena of the live concert stage.

On July 31 (Friday) and August 1 (Saturday) – The CompanY and Jon Santos will showcase their best showstoppers in a musical comedy revue entitled “QUICK CHANGE” to be held at Star Theater, CCP Complex. “QUICK CHANGE” is the debut production of Ambient Media Events and shall also feature upcoming artists: Reymond Sajor (Wycopa Grand Champion) and Jez Salcedo.

Tickets are available at Ticketworld (call 891-9999), Star Theater (call 512 5031), The Marco Polo Plaza Cebu ( call +63 32 253 1111). Online tickets are available at www.ticketworld.com.ph
“QUICK CHANGE” refers to the concerts’ multi genre music that explores different eras, styles and influences. The shows’ repertoire runs the gamut from big band to standards, from classical to rock, from a cappella showstoppers to Brazilian grooves, and more. “QUICK CHANGE” also refers to the concerts’ visual and theatrical elements – change of characters, change of costumes and looks, etc. Miss Ria Osorio leads the 8-piece band composed of the members of Gerard Salonga’s orchestra, FILharmoniKA. “QUICK CHANGE” is directed by a team of highly respected veterans in Philippine theater, namely: Menchu Lauchengco Yulo, Chari Arespacochaga and Manman Cangsico. Band arrangements by Beth Martin, JD Villanueva, Ria Osorio and Moy Ortiz.

“QUICK CHANGE” is brought to you by: Ambient Media Events, Marco Polo Plaza Hotel, Solar Entertainment Channels: Second Avenue, ETC, JackTV, Yellow Cab, Urban Groove, Arnel Papa Jewelry, Hat Mama, TJMaxMusiclab, Brainchild Productions, 92.3 XFM, RJ 100, 105.1 Crossover, 106.7 Dream FM.
For a truly classy, sassy and brassy evening of great music and hilarious comedy, “QUICK CHANGE” is that concert experience you’ve been waiting for all year.




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Running With The Meatball

I don’t think I’ve ever featured The Meatball in this blog. So, here he is:

Meet Meatball, “Meaty”, our 5-year-old Pitbull. Friendly around people, dangerous around other animals (especially dogs, and cute, furry creatures):

Words of the wise: A tired pitbull is a happy pitbull. I’m sure he will be snoring in his sleeping chair in a few minutes.

We went out for a light jog around the block. Nice weather for jogging - most of the stray dogs aren’t roaming around, probably because of the storm. Brought my umbrella with me to ward off other doggies who might attack. Not to protect Meaty from them, but the other way around.

Meatball is the wrestler in the household. Often he is unaware of his own strength. There was a time when he wrecked our screen door in his excitement, because my mom was calling him from inside our house. He jumped through the screen like it was just a set of heavy curtains.

We had a nice workout tonight, and we quit before Meaty got too tired. There have been times in the past when he would get too overworked, and then would just opt to lie down on the concrete, and it would be very hard to get him back on his feet. Not really built to be an endurance runner, but who knows? Maybe it will be good to train him for his first 5k run. Although a nice, furry little animal could get him doing sprints, anytime.

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Greenfield City Run - 5k

Greenfield Run pic

I pushed myself a bit this time, as I was aiming for a personal record. But no, I ran the 5k a bit slower than I did at the Airspeed Run. My official time here was 34 mins. and 47 secs, an average of 6mins and 57 seconds per kilometer. I finished 9th out of 256 females. A very big advantage of this was that I did not have to wait in a long line for my turn at the Photovendo. He he.

To narrow down the causes of my slower pace, I decided to check the Airspeed run results again. What I found out was that the women who ran both races all had a better race pace at Airspeed. So either the Greenfield track was not as flat as it seemed (maybe there were some roads that were at an incline), or maybe this particular 5k was in reality a bit longer than 5k.

This inspires me to include some inclines in my training.

Or maybe, my slower pace could be attributed to lack of sleep. Had only four hours of intermittent sleep the previous night, due to my very erratic sleep schedule during the whole week. Erratic sleep schedule is something I really have to live with, I guess. I am first and foremost a musical arranger, after all.

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The Greenfield and Airspeed races were both organized by the team of Coach Rio de la Cruz. I think I’d like to keep going to their races, because they start on time, they’re very organized, and so far my official times were accurate (well, according to my stopwatch). The official times are also released within two days. Some races take more than a week for the official times to come out.

What I liked about the Greenfield Run:
- At around km 4.20, a marching band was playing. This gave runners a boost. In my case, it helped me run my last stretch a bit faster.
- The goodie bags that were handed to finishers contained lots of goodies, including a 15% discount card for Timex watches.
- Official time could already be downloaded from the site the day after the race.
- The scenery was great (beats running in between buildings and busy roads), the greenery was soothing to my eyes.
- Fresh air
- Got a copy of The Bull Runner magazine Happy
- Photovendo

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I’ve been reading up on how to run correctly, and techniques for training. I find that there are contradicting pieces of advice everywhere. Examples of these are:

1. Correct running posture: Run tall vs. Lean forward slightly

Run tall:
- imagine a piece of thread pulling your head up, plus another one pulling your chest slightly outward
- in my experience, this one is more relaxed

Lean forward slightly:
- propels you forward more efficiently, but the advocates of running tall says this could result to overstriding.

2. Footstrike: Heel, ball, or midfoot?

- I think with this, you have to find out for yourself.

3. Correct leg action: Emphasizing “pull” where the quads lift the leg forward, vs. Emphasizing “push” where the leg pushes from the ground, propelling the body forward.

- I’ve tried both of these. “Push” in the first race, and “pull” in the second. I don’t know which is better. Maybe a combination of both?

Maybe it all boils down to what works for you.

(EDIT: April 27, 2009: After a few days of trying “run tall”, I’m convinced that it’s the better alternative, and running with the body positioned in a forward motion will tires me out easily. This was also the position I tried at the Greenfield Run.)

- - - - - - - - -

So, what’s next for me?

I’m set on joining the Southern Race ATC Fun Run, not to set a personal record this time but just to run. And run for a cause too! I’ve convinced Dex to join me in this one. Happy

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- - -

Related posts:

Running My 1st 5k Race
2009 Progress Tracker


Race List

Here’s my race list. I’ll update it no matter how dismal some results may be, he he.


October 29, 2011 Adobo Run 15k (Night run)
- course was actually 13.4km

VENUE: Aseana City
AVERAGE PACE: 6:21 min/km

Easy-moderate training day

October 23, 2011 Adidas King of the Road 2011 (21k)
VENUE: Bonifacio High Street - Buendia
TOTAL TIME: 2:15:36
AVERAGE PACE: 6:24 min/km
GPS data

- Cramps from 16km onward.. lack of sleep + too much exertion the day before (shopping, gig etc)

July 3, 2011 Yamaha Run For Heroes (21k)

VENUE: Bonifacio High Street - Buendia
TOTAL TIME: 2:08:52 (course longer by 400m)
AVERAGE PACE: 6:01min/km
(15th overall @ women’s category, 6th in age category)
GPS data

June 5, 2011 Grace to Finish 10k (Ayala Alabang Village)

- did a 4.8km run prior to race start, for a 15km long run total - training run for 21k

VENUE: Ayala Alabang Village
TOTAL TIME: 00:59:30
AVERAGE PACE: 5:57min/km

- missed the podium by 1 person

May 22, 2011 Greentennial 10km - Dex’s PR

VENUE: Mall of Asia/ Macapagal ave
AVERAGE PACE: 5:56min/km
GPS data

March 6, 2011 Unilab Run United 10km - pacer for Dex

Dex’s PR!
VENUE: Bonifacio High Street
TOTAL TIME: 01:07:14
AVERAGE PACE: 6:32 min/km
GPS data

February 27, 2011 Inquirer 25km relay
w/ Arnold, Vener, Jingle, and Ryx

VENUE: Bonifacio High Street
TOTAL TIME: circa 28mins

February 6, 2011 Condura Skyway Marathon (21k)

VENUE: Ayala, Makati - Skyway - Bonifacio High Street
TOTAL TIME: 02:15:11
AVERAGE PACE: 6:26 min/km
GPS data

- - - - - - - - - -


November 20, 2010 Unilab 21k (1st DNF)

bailed out at 16.93km, due to a foot/ankle injury, and cramps.

VENUE: The Fort - McKinley and back
TOTAL TIME: 01:55:23 (at km 16.93)
AVERAGE PACE: 6:49 min/km

October 24, 2010 Adidas King of the Road 10k

VENUE: The Fort
TOTAL TIME: 00:58:32
AVERAGE PACE: 5:48 min/km

October 17, 2010 Pink Run 15k (actually 12.56k according to my Garmin)

VENUE: McKinley Hill
TOTAL TIME: 01:18:59
AVERAGE PACE: 6:17 min/km

October 3, 2010 Step Out! Avon Run for Breast Cancer - 5k

VENUE: Mall of Asia grounds
TOTAL TIME: 00:28:51
AVERAGE PACE: 5:39 min/km

Also ran this with a friend, who had a Garmin and a good pacing strategy.

September 12, 2010 Green Mile Race, Ayala Alabang Village 10k

TOTAL TIME: around 01:08:00 (no official time)
AVERAGE PACE: 6:48 min/km

Treated this as an easy run at conversational pace (was talking with a friend throughout most of it)

August 29, 2010 Kraft Race - 5k

Podium finish, got in at 3rd place (female category)! Forgot my result for this race, I think it was around 31mins. The course was longer than 5k

June 27, 2010 Lactacyd All-Women Run Relay -10k - my best 10k so far

VENUE: McKinley Hills
TOTAL TIME: 00:57:47
AVERAGE PACE: 5:48 min/km

April 18, 2010 Powerade Sprint Duathlon 6k run - 30k bike - 3k run

VENUE: Filinvest Corporate City
SPLITS: No official time recorded
TOTAL TIME: 2:22:24

Cramps galore! Maybe the 2-hour sleep the night before had something to do with it. (came from FILharmoniKA’s concert with Richard Bamping, and dinner/drinks after)

February 7, 2010 Condura Run - 21k

VENUE: The Fort, to Skyway and back
TOTAL TIME: 2:21:17
AVERAGE PACE: 6:44 min/km

My first 21k! Would like to do it again.



September 20, 2009 Powerade Sprint Duathlon 7k run - 32k bike - 3.5k run
VENUE: Macapagal area

Run1: 0:41:42 (including transition 1)
Bike: 1:30:05 (including transition 2)
Run 2: 0:25:08
Total: 2:36:55

Cramps during the bike leg!

September 13, 2009 Ayala Eco-Dash - 10k

VENUE: The Fort
TIME: 1:03:44

training run for next week’s duathlon.

August 8, 2009: UP Run (forgot the name) - 5k
VENUE: UP Academic Oval
TIME: 27:30 (no official time)

My first race using the Chi Running techniques I’ve been practicing. The author of the book warned that run times will really be slower during the next few weeks, or maybe months.

June 7, 2009: Mizuno Infinity Run (surprise time trial) - my best 5k so far
VENUE: The Fort

May 31, 2009: Earth Run - 1st 16k
VENUE: McKinley Hlll

- This was supposed to be a “long easy run” but I decided to push myself anyway. A difficult route that had lots of uphills and downhills.

May 17, 2009: Market! Market! Power Miler Year 2 - 8k (5miles)
VENUE: Market! Market!, The Fort

- Another “long run” where I didn’t push myself much.. at last, I was able to sleep more than four hours before the race!

May 10, 2009: Botak Paa-tibayan Run - 10k
VENUE: The Fort. Passed a flyover across Edsa, going to Buendia, then back

- Planned to do a “long run” here, in keeping with my 5k program.

May 3, 2009: Southern Race - 5k
VENUE: Alabang Town Center, Ayala Alabang Village

- Just aimed for a tempo run here. There were some inclines in this run.

April 19, 2009: Greenfield City Run - 5k
VENUE: Greenfield City, Sta. Rosa
MINS. PER KM: 6:57

- I pushed myself harder in this race than the first one as I was aiming for a sub-30. I wonder why I was slower here? Maybe the ground wasn’t as level as it appeared. Or maybe it was because of lack of sleep. Also, I might need to revise my training schedule and activities. I loved this race though, nice scenery.

April 5, 2009: Airspeed Runs For a Cause - 5k
VENUE: Around Mall of Asia
MINS. PER KM: 6:29

- My first, no pressure. I just aimed to finish.. so I was happy about my time.


Running My First 5k Race

Beginning last year, some of my friends have decided to take up running as a sport. My friends from high school, Lauren and Elaine, have been avid runners since last year and have already completed half-marathons (21k). It also looked like they were having loads of fun in training and running the races. Aside from them, I have a few office mates who have also participated in fun runs this year. So I decided to sign up for the Airspeed Runs for A Cause race around Mall of Asia to try it out.

A month prior to this, I’ve already told my gym trainer that I plan to run a 5k race. So she raised the difficulty level of my treadmill routines, and always made me run even after an hour of heavy workout. Heavy workout in my case, as well as with most females who are into weight training, is lifting medium weights with lots and lots of repetitions. During the days where I did not have heavy workouts, I did some high intensity interval training on the elliptical at home, interspersing 30 seconds of full effort cycling with 1 minute easy cycling (recovery) periods. I read that this builds endurance, makes the heart stronger, and is an excellent complement to weight lifting when done during the off days. This was very manageable since the interval training periods lasted for only 20 minutes each, and gave me more energy/enthusiasm for my day.

During the race itself, I was nervous if I could finish well, and so strived to run in a pace I could maintain till the end. And then I planned to just run at a faster pace during the last kilometer or so.

Alas, I failed to study the route map well, and so I was startled when suddenly, after rounding a corner, the finish line was already before me. Only then did I run faster (when I could’ve done it earlier).

So I could say I did finish well for a first timer - my official time was 32 mins. and 27 secs. (6min and 29 secs. per km), 25th among 255 females and probably the 130th out of all the 571 runners. But as I was cooling down I couldn’t help but regret that I didn’t really run my best. Simply because I didn’t study the route map, and didn’t take note of the distance markers along the road. I would’ve noticed the markers, I guess, had I not been chatting with a fellow runner (who was doing the 10k) during the 3rd and/or 4th km. I decided to engage in friendly conversation, thinking that the finish line was still far ahead, and thinking that chatting would help me “forget” the distance.

My booboos, as well as the general good feeling of finishing, are giving me extra motivation to keep training for and running these races. So for now, my goal is just to find my best speed for the 5k.

And of course, to have fun Happy

Thanks also to my husband Dex who accompanied me to the event, even though he didn’t run. He was there as my cheering squad. He he Happy

Airspeed from Photovendo


By the way, I’ve decided to create a list to track my progress, much like Lauren’s, so I’ll be posting that after my 2nd run.

And also, I can readily say now that my decision to keep taking my fitness seriously is not motivated by a desire to be sexier or thinner (even though those are also good goals). At this point, I don’t think I’ll be losing any more weight, or getting any thinner - my body is not the really the lean type. There’s just a good feeling one gets from seeing improvements in oneself, and in one’s health. For instance, I started out with my shoulder presses at 5 pounds per arm, and 20 repetitions would already tire me out. But now I could easily handle 10 pounds per arm, and not yet tire out after 40 repetitions (alternating with other shoulder exercises, at that). I also sleep better at night, even though I get 6 hours of sleep in a day at most. Last but not the least, I can eat all the Crispy Pata I want without worrying that I’ll be bogged down by the excess fat the next day, because I’ll be burning it up.

I’m looking forward to my training for the runs. Happy Running is now a big motivation for me to be better in my workouts.

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Theme From Ipis Man

Who is Ipis Man?


http://benjvillena.multiply.com/journal/item/27 (image by Paolo Tiongson) To view all images, scroll down till the comments section.

At dahil idol ako ni Benj (hehehehe), ginawan ko siya ng theme. Based sa suggestion ng pinsan ko na si Miggy na gamitin ang Bahay Kubo sa theme. (Upon my cousin’s suggestion, I based this theme on a popular Filipino folk song, Bahay Kubo)

Download Theme from Ipis Man

©2009 Ria Osorio

P.S. Ginawa ko na rin siyang venue para ma-test ang mga bagong software na naka-install sa laptop ko - Kontakt 3, Stormdrum. Happy (I also used this as a venue to try out Kontakt 3 and Stormdrum samples converted from Kompakt)

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Gig With Bamboo at Lovapalooza

Ok, I don’t have any pictures to show for it yet (maybe I’ll just wait for people to upload videos and photos), but I had a great time playing with Bamboo at the 2009 Lovapalooza. I know I’m a full-time arranger/composer now, and I’m more into scoring, arranging for albums, writing for orchestra, than actually performing, but it’s really nice to be able to perform live once in a while. And I know that while my first love is jazz, I’m also into rock and pop. And I think I should explore.

I do miss playing jazz, and playing in a trio/quartet. Ever since I got my piano again (inherited it from my family), I’ve been playing at home a lot. Maybe it’s time to take my playing out on the road again.

Yeah, yeah, maybe’s, what if’s and wishes. “Well done” is better than “well said.” Let’s see if I’ll really do this.

I’ll leave you with a video of my last gig with Bamboo before this Lovapalooza event. It’s been two years since!

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Dinner With Rodrin and Adjeng

Finally! After not going out together for eight months, we meet again. This time, they treated us to a nice dinner at Galileo Enoteca restaurant, located in one of the non-main streets of Mandaluyong. It's a nice, cozy place. Charming ambience, great food.

Adjeng and Rodrin, our friends

Menu. I like that the place also offers individual set Italian meals - an appetizer, plate of cold cuts, salad and the main course. That makes it attractive for first-timers to sample what the place has to offer.

Dex and me. Munching on cheeses, cold cuts, and bread, with wine

Group pic. As you can see, the dining tables are surrounded with walls holding packs and bottles of Italian food and ingredients. It made the ambience homey for me, a nice place to just hang out and talk with friends. Minimal, if any, background music, which I prefer on nights like this.

Porcini Risotto. It has truffle oil. I love the taste and texture. Creamy, but not too much, and the mushrooms were perfect.

Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms. (Adjeng, where's the pic of the Chicken Breast w/ Pesto? Nakalimutan mo ba kasi nag-dive ka na agad? Hehehe joke!)

Tartufo for dessert. Dark chocolate ice cream. Yum!

Panna Cotta for dessert, too.


Yehey! Thanks again Rodrin and Adjeng, the night was lovely. Let's do this again soon, and also try out places we haven't been to.

All photos courtesy of Adjeng.

We received these from them too:

For Dex
wild at heart

For me

For me from Adjeng
pocket bible

Thanks Rodrin and Adjeng!

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Related posts:
FIlharmoniKA at the Filfest


More Lee Hom Wang clips from HKPO Concert

I mentioned in my last post that I'll be posting the other videos, specifically Descendants of the Dragon and A Simple Song. So here they are:

Descendants of the Dragon - arranged by JD Villanueva

A Simple Song - arranged by me Happy

Thanks, Clarissa! Happy

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Related posts:

Lee Hom Wang Clips from HKPO Concert
Ocean Park and HKPO Concert
Hong Kong Day One and Two
1st Day in HK - Rehearsals and Dimsum
Off to Hong Kong


It's In the Genes

Hi! I'd like to share with you guys a song from Lea Salonga's May 2008 Concert, My Life on Stage.

May 2008. I only had less than a full day to finish the music and orchestration, but this had been one of the serendipitous times when everything just seemed to fall into place. Maybe it is true, that deadlines are the best inspiration.

Direk Freddie made some awesome lyrics. One look at it even without the music, and it already sounds like a song.

A few hours before this was due for submission and rehearsal, I suddenly got sore eyes. I couldn't see the notes on the computer anymore and I had to forego rehearsals. So Gerard and the orchestra rehearsed without me. Later that day I realized that the sore eyes had been a false alarm. There was no virus. I guess my body was just reacting to the stress. Yet I don't view stress negatively as I used to. Stress is beneficial, if not downright necessary, for certain tasks. Especially in performing or creating. Just try not to be in that state everyday, I guess, so there'll be balance.

In hindsight, maybe I unconsciously willed the sore eyes into existence, so I'd have an excuse to disappear - as I was really worried about the music not turning out well. He he.

But turn out well, it did. Lea and Gerard Salonga, plus FILharmoniKa - what could go wrong?

Notice here that Lea enters without any lead-in or pitch reference. That's why I could forego putting an intro. My golly.

(Lyrics below the video. Video credits go to bubbliehappy2)

Words by Freddie Santos
Music and arrangement by Ria Osorio

It's in the genes I tell you
It's in the genes, I know
It's in the genes, they compel you
To know exactly where you want to go

It's in the genes forever
It's in the genes, no choice
It's in the genes, whatever
Whether kicking up or acting out, or tuning in your voice

Maybe who knows, there could have been other choices
If I had a different DNA
But then again though, looking at all other choices
Every single one just pointed me this way

So now I'm here as always
And what a life it's been
On center stage, not just the hallways
It goes whatever stage of life I'm in

As a little girl, an awkward teen
A singing actress in between
Someone in love, a wife and mom
How good to know where it all comes from

It's in the genes that says it
It's in the perfect page
And this whole life, God bless it
Will always find its life on center stage

On stage, my life, my life
Thank goodness for genetics!
On stage

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Related posts:

What I've Been Doing This Week
Arranging Muscles

Time For Some Nonsense

I don't take these things seriously, but I liked the results of this test, so...

You are Strength

Courage, strength, fortitude. Power not arrested in the act of judgement, but passing on to further action, sometimes obstinacy.

This is a card of courage and energy. It represents both the Lion's hot, roaring energy, and the Maiden's steadfast will. The innocent Maiden is unafraid, undaunted, and indomitable. In some cards she opens the lion's mouth, in others she shuts it. Either way, she proves that inner strength is more powerful than raw physical strength. That forces can be controlled and used to score a victory is very close to the message of the Chariot, which might be why, in some decks, it is Justice that is card 8 instead of Strength. With strength you can control not only the situation, but yourself. It is a card about anger and impulse management, about creative answers, leadership and maintaining one's personal honor. It can also stand for a steadfast friend.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Got this from my cousin Nina's site.

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Related posts:
Ten Years Ago, etc.
This is fairly accurate...


At the 2008 Jarasum Jazz Festival Korea

Photos from the Festival...

Andy Peterson Inc. from Malaysia. Their music is a mix of progressive rock and chanting (Indian origin), very energetic and great vibe. These guys were also a great hang.

Bob Aves group onstage.



Joe Lovano and John Scofield, et al, played in the same event (though in a much bigger stage). We also saw Jojo Mayer, drummer extraordinaire.



We had loads of Korean food. What I love about Korean cuisine is there are usually a lot of colorful and interesting vegetables.




I also loved the Korean Barbeque.

No time for me to finish chewing my food before posing for the shot:

We were really blessed with our guide for the whole event - Kim. He was very accommodating and made everything easier for us.

Here was the view from Tusa's room. (Plus the empty Sho Tsu bottles from the night before)

This was the view from my room. It made up for the fact that we were bunked in a motel. He he Happy


This became my favorite drink. It's a milk drink with veggies.

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Related posts:

Our Zhu Jia Jiao Tour
Zhu Jia Jiao Water Village World Music Festival
Bob Aves Group at Caylabne Resort Part 2
Bob Aves Group at Caylabne Resort in Cavite


Our Zhu Jia Jiao Tour

I mentioned in my last post that we met a Filipino fellow in Zhu Jia Jiao who offered to tour us around the town.

Ramil Cueto has been based in Shanghai for about four years. His wife Julia was born in Zhu Jia Jiao and grew up there. So when Ramil offered to tour us around the old town, we couldn't resist! We have had some difficulties in ordering food and going around the town in general. They met us at our hotel at night, and we walked to the heart of the town.

Walking to the old town. These were Ramil, Jorge and Simon, back view.

We passed by some lovely scenery.


They took us to a charming restaurant.

Julia and Ramil ordered food for us. Guess what we found out from Julia while they were ordering food? It was Ramil's birthday that day!

Jorge and Ramil


Group pic by Simon. Jorge, Ramil, Ria, Julia and Tusa

The food arrives.

Lotus plant,with sticky rice inserted into the holes. It tasted sweet and refreshing.


A local water plant (tasted a bit like turnip), with pine nuts.

Escargot. These were huge, and ground pork was stuffed inside.

Ramil went out for a while and came back with this. Tsong tsu, a sticky rice delicacy. It had pork inside, plus a sweetish sauce. Yum! It also cost only 2.5 RMB (about 15pesos)

And now, the main attraction...

Hairy crabs! They were delicious, and had lots of aligue (crab fat)
March of the crabs. March, march, march into our stomachs.

Simon and crab


Everything was so delicious.

After dinner, we walked a bit and looked at some of the shops.

Thank you Ramil and Julia for the experience, and for spending time with us.

(Photos courtesy of Simon, Tusa, and me)

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Related posts:
Zhu Jia Jiao Water Village World Music Festival
Bob Aves Group at Caylabne Resort Part 2
Bob Aves Group at Caylabne Resort in Cavite

Zhu Jia Jiao Water Village World Music Festival

Bob Aves Group @ the Zhu Jia Jiao Water Village World Music Festival

At the airport (notice all the junk food! Terminal 3 is relatively new, so there aren't many options yet)...


Simon and Tusa...


Shanghai is a 3-hour plane ride from the Philippines...

Zhu Jia Jiao is a charming old town about 2 hours away (on the road) from the main city in Shanghai.


Like a lot of many other things in China, it is a mix of the old and the new...



We went to a park...



Busy town.

This was our hotel (Zhu Ji Ge)



Post office from the great Qin Dynasty...



We tried to go about the small town by ourselves, sometimes encountering mishaps when ordering food and such. Ordering by guessing from the pictures has its disadvantages (sometimes it was too much for one person), but it was all good....

Sauteed scallops

Pork dish with vegetables underneath (kind of like Laing in Filipino)

On our first full day there, we played at the preview night of the festival, at the Wang Chang center...




Up until this time, we had trouble ordering food and knowing where to go because few people spoke English. So it was a blessing to meet a fellow Filipino at the venue who offered to take us around Zhu Jia Jiao, since his wife grew up there, and can take us to the good places. Of course we took up on the offer, and I'll reserve another blog entry for it. In the meantime, on to the other photos from the festival...

Nah Youn Sun and the French all-stars. Nah Youn Sun does a mean scat, and her voice is clear. The accordion player was fantastic. It's my first time to hear jazz solos on the accordion, I think.


Bassists co...

Bob Aves explains his octavina to a fellow guitarist...


(And it was during this time when I was carrying my laptop and wearing my thick glasses - that some people came up to me and asked if I was the band manager)


-- - - - - -

More photos from the festival...

Brochures and posters.


At the Gingko Plaza...

Some of the audience were people who lived in the old village, and some were tourists. On the whole, they were very receptive and appreciative of the performances.



Ria Osorio


Tusa Montes


Grace Nono

Bob Aves

Jorge San Jose

Simon Tan


The group with Peter Lee (far left), festival organizer

With some of the other artists.


Some of the festival volunteers from various universities...

(Photos courtesy of Tusa Montes, Grace Nono and Bob Aves, and some are from my camera)

Will be posting the photos from the tour with our newfound Filipino friend, so please stay tuned. Thanks!

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Related posts:

Zhu Jia Jiao Water Village World Music Festival
Bob Aves Group at Caylabne Resort Part 2
Bob Aves Group at Caylabne Resort in Cavite

The First Thing My Dad Ever Taught Me

Way before riding a bike, swimming and diving, and even reading notes and playing the piano, the first thing my Dad ever taught me was...





















Dad and Ria

Hehehehehe! I'm kidding, of course! But we do like San Miguel beer a lot...

I had thought to post about my dad today because it was his birthday yesterday (September 10).

My dad Mel Villena is one of the finest musicians out there, but even more than that, he is really the most wonderful father.


Dad and Rianew2

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This Week's Tasks, Plus Some Tidbits About My Dad


Changed My RSS Feed

Hi guys, if anyone is subscribed to my blog's RSS Feed, I just changed it to this. Please update your feeds. Sorry for the hassle.

I don't think I'll irk a lot of people, though, 'cause this blog gets read by only a few people ... still I keep blogging away anyway, he he Happy After all, what's a website if it isn't regularly updated?


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This Week's Tasks, Plus Some Tidbits About My Dad

1.) 37 Final Countdown plus 7 Showdown numbers for Singing Bee - due on Monday, July 21

Been writing transcriptions for Singing Bee for 2+ months now. For some reason, the load got doubled this weekend. It's probably because my dad, who is the musical director of the show, is doing other shows this month. My dad is the type to farm out his work to other arrangers when he wants to focus on certain projects, to churn out quality arrangements. He is heavily involved in the planning, writing, and of course, music, for Dolphy's show. He's the perfect choice for that show because he's a natural comedian.
(Sometimes I regret that I didn't inherit his showmanship or sense of humor, or ability to command the attention of whatever room he is in, with the least amount of effort. I'm more of my mom in personality, and many of my strengths are different from his, I think.)

My dad, Mel Villena, the Singing Bee Maestro, with the Bandble Bee. Photo taken from http://bumbleaidz.multiply.com/photos/album/34/Singing_Bee#3


2.) 1 big band arrangement for The CompanY's album - due on Wednesday, July 23

This gives me two days to write it... Hope I do it well despite the time crunch! A big band arrangement is always a dream project for me - even if I do still struggle with the medium sometimes, what with me not being a wind player - but neither was Maria Schneider, Gil Evans, Angel Pena, Michael Giacchino, and a host of other arrangers I truly admire, who write for big band. In other words, no one should use that excuse to explain shortcomings in writing for wind instruments (that he/she isn't a wind player), he he.

The CompanY is coming out with an exciting album! I'll post more details as soon as the project is well under way (I don't want to post spoilers).

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a video of The CompanY performing an arrangement of mine - A Night in Tunisia for Big Band. (I wrote for the big band while The CompanY arranged all vocal parts)

3.) 2 medleys for Dolphy's upcoming show - due on Friday, July 25

I also have two days to do these numbers. Yeeee! Good luck to me.

Pressure is good, in some ways.

My dad will be musical director of this show. Do we smell some nepotism with regard to my current gigs? He he. Well, in defense of his choice of arrangers, I do believe I've earned a bit of experience to be considered his "colleague" (a newbie in comparison to him, maybe, but a colleague nevertheless). He did wait for me to get hired by other people as an arranger, before he decided to hire me in some of his projects, and before he started referring me to his contacts. I got lots of stories and funny incidents related to being the daughter of a well-known and accomplished musical director and arranger here in the Philippines. But I will save those for other posts.

The current onslaught of arranging gigs given to me by my dad - those that aren't related to Singing Bee - may be due in part to shared tastes in music. I grew up listening to his sounds around the house. We both love big band, jazz, world music, and any kind of pop which has some quirkiness to it - mixing genres, experimenting. He is particularly good at big band, soul, show tunes, and novelty or arrangements with a lot of character. His arrangements, more often than not, show an original and highly imaginative mind. He confesses to not being the most mainstream arranger, because his music often has more quirkiness to it to be really considered mainstream, but I'd say he's in a very good niche which not many people are in, and thus the jobs still flow freely. (But of course the real reason is God's providence, behind it all... )

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This is Fairly Accurate...

Personality test, anyone?

These are my results:

My personality type: the individualistic doer

Individualistic Doer (ID)

Individualistic Doers are self-assured and very independent persons. They are quiet and realistic, very rational, extremely matter of fact persons. They strongly cultivate their individualism and enjoy applying their abilities to new tasks. But they are also very spontaneous and impulsive persons who like to follow their sudden inspirations. Individualistic Doers are good and precise observers who register everything which goes on around them. However, they are not so sensitive as regards interpersonal relations and are surprised when they occasionally rub someone up the wrong way with their direct and blunt manner. They are not particularly fond of obligations; but if you give them space, they are uncomplicated, sociable and cheerful individuals.

Individualistic Doers enjoy challenges - action and the odd kick are simply part of their life. They love tempting fate and many people of this type have risky hobbies such as skydiving or bungee jumping. This also applies to their workaday life. Individualistic Doers are in top form in critical situations; they can grasp situations, make decisions and take the necessary steps extremely quickly. Hierarchies and authorities impress them very little; if a superior is not competent, they will have little respect for him. Individualistic Doers like to take on responsibility. They have a marked sense of reality and always find the most suitable and expedient solution for a problem. They resolve conflicts openly and directly; here, they sometimes lack tact but are also very good at taking criticism themselves.

As friends, Individualistic Doers are loyal and devoted; they only have a few friendships but many of them last a lifetime. People enjoy talking to them because of their optimistic attitude to life and their ability to listen. However, they prefer to talk about mutual interests and hobbies rather than about theoretical or philosophical issues - they are not tangible enough for them. They need a lot of freedom and time to themselves in love relationships but, at the same time, they are also very tolerant towards their partners. It happens very seldom that Individualistic Doers fall head over heels in love. They are far too rational. They prefer to pick their partner on the basis of mutual interests and preferences which they want to share with that partner. Individualistic Doers are not particularly fond of effusive outbursts of emotion. They prefer to prove their love by their actions and expect the same of their partner. Whoever wishes to tie an Individualistic Doer to himself needs a lot of patience. It takes some time before this personality type is willing to get involved with another person.

Adjectives which describe your type
introverted, practical, logical, spontaneous, adventurous, resolved, independent, fearless, loyal, analytical, realistic, optimistic, interested, quiet, curious, circumspect, individualistic, action-loving, venturesome, cool, dispassionate, reserved, skilful, confident, independent, communicative, down-to-earth

These subjects could interest you
travel, nature, hiking, cars, model making, gardening, drawing/painting, astrology, spiritual matters, music, literature, writing, strategy games, politics

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Bob Aves Group at Caylabne Resort in Cavite

May 17, 2008. Bob Aves group. One of our rare beach gigs. Or should I say, one of our rare gigs, period.

Photos taken by Tusa Montes, our talented Kulintang player. That's why we have no pictures onstage. I'll just post a followup, if I am able to get performance pictures.

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That's Jorge, drummer/navigator.


Arnold Jallores, the jolliest sound engineer...


Looks like it's part of the bus! Installation art, anyone?


Tusa and me... sunny smiles in spite of the sunless weather

Einstein... err, Bob Aves Happy

My hubby/roadie/stress ball Dex, and I.


Jorge and Ning:

Nothing beats this combination: great gig, great music, good company, good food. (Well I had a lot of technical problems with my setup, but that's another story...)

Group shots! Jorge San Jose, me, Simon Tan, Bob Aves, Tusa Montes.

On the way back home, I couldn't resist...

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On Johnny Alegre Eastern Skies part1

eastern skies

Listening to the album now makes me wish I had made some detailed documentation regarding the arrangements, what Johnny/I had intended to do, and if the actual results matched his/my intentions. I know that I was the arranger and not the composer, but I could say I was very compositionally involved in the songs, because Johnny was generous in that aspect. I could liken his pieces to jazz standards in a real book – there are already solid structures (maybe AABA or AABC, or what), the melody is already laid out, and most of the harmony. But the possibilities for interpretation are endless, and as with good pieces or great songs, one can come up with so many good things out of it, that the tricky part is trimming down the possibilities so that it will still sound cohesive.

Yes, I wish I had made more detailed documentation. As of now I’m also thinking to post some of the arrangement sketches (not the actual arrangements themselves, but their planning and doodling stages), if I can find them in my haystacks of sheets.

I did record in my journal how amazed I was with the orchestra (FILharmoniKa, back then known as Global Studio Orchestra) and Gerard Salonga's conducting.

Right now, though, I hope you can visit my Works page (Arrangements section), and give some of the Eastern Skies clips a listen. I don’t own the copyrights to the songs, so it’s not wise to post the full songs themselves. Even if I posted them in non-downloadable (streaming) format, lots of software are available nowadays which can capture those streaming media as mp3’s, so I thought it best to just post 1-minute sections of the songs.

I’ll be posting more on these in the weeks to come.

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Putting Up My Own Site part 2

Another one of my motives for setting up this site is to gain feedback from other musicians or music enthusiasts out there, about a vast number of topics relating to music. Sure, I originally thought it was daunting to put out my knowledge, or lack thereof, for a wider web audience to see, but then again if I will learn something from the exercise, then it will all be worth it.

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Putting Up My Own Site

Welcome to my site! I felt the need to build this so that I can have a space to list down or display some current projects. This blog will probably be the most updated section, and if I make updates to the other sections, I'll post about those updates here as well.

I like blogging too. Been keeping a blog since 2004, and moved to Multiply in 2006. I've decided not to import my old entries into this new website, although I'd still be keeping my Multiply site so I can stay in touch with friends and relatives. If you'd like to browse through those sites, here are links to them:

My old blogger blog
Multiply site

If you'll browse through the Works section, I've posted some mp3 clips of some of my arrangements and/or compositions. Most of them are not the whole files, though.

Hope you'll come back here for updates. Cheers!


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