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Matt's Random Thoughts

  • mattdg204

There is a caster that I seemed to be fascinated by, in terms of everything he does, and the way that he does his thing on twitch and elsewhere has me caught up.

His name is Bruce Alcomendras, but you can call him Juicy Brucey. He's an esports caster and voice over artist hailing from Cebu but currently based in Metro Manila. He was once a DJ at Monster Radio BT 105.9 down in Cebu, but then he joined the esports elite casting for Valorant Champions Tournament - Philippines. He was tapped by Acadarena to do hosting for the ConQuest Festival, in 2022 he hosted the community panels then the following year in its perhaps most controversial iteration that lead to the events downfall (and that seems deserving of a separate article) he became main stage host together with caster comerade Riku. He has hung out with the big stars of OfflineTV, namely Pokimane, Michael Reeves, LillyPichu, and Yvonnie, and he also chatted with two of the biggest vtubers out there: Bao (I hear she's a great genshin personality) and Shoto (he's a very chill guy)

I watched the recorded live videos of ConQuest to see why the event was so hyped and became very disasterous and it was there I realized that those streamers had such a gigantic following here in the Philippines. But the aspect of CQ that piqued me was the hosts of the event, JuicyBrucey and Riku.

The disaster of the ConQuest event made me want to examine the convention scene I little further. I have seen all the negative feedback about the event, the people who spent too long in line and so much money but never meeting thier idols. But where there is a cloud, there is always a silver lining, and I spoke with Dione, one of the buskers at the event and it was her that provided a moment of light and happiness to the tired out people in the lines through her music. I have also met many cosplayers who have went to ConQuest and they have shared thier experiences good and bad.

But the experience of one of the event's hosts is such a refreshing and very insightful perspective. I asked about how he felt about the ConQuest festival being retired, considering he spend many hours behind the scenes of the event and mingled with all the big name streamers at the event, and he felt very sad about the event having to go. He was an ex-radio DJ looking for a good enough hosting gig, and it was ConQuest that gave him his big break. He felt sad because he was looking forward to more such events. I felt very sad too as I do think that the event had such a great vision to be a pop culture safe haven in Manila.

I watched many of the clips of the streamers that were there and I do believe that ConQuest really did have a vision to become a celebration of all things pop culture, uniting the worlds of anime, gaming, music, cosplay, k-pop, TV and movies, anything related to pop culture. Despite all the issues that have come about in terms of ticket overselling and line mismanagement, it was such a spectacular star studded event bringing people and worlds together. And with all this in mind, I already see why Brucey feels very sad in regards to the retirement of the brand.

It is sad for him and me, but I believe that where one major event on the scale of ConQuest comes to an end, another may start its hero's journey. I had so many ideas about how a convention of that grand scale can better manage the lines and the logistics of such an event. He does agree with many of my ideas.

The more I watched JuicyBrucey stream, the more I found out about his personality and the more we found ways that we were able to connect. For instance, I found out that he does play animal crossing and the fact that he had to restart his game was something that amused me very much. I did admire his persistence in rebuilding the whole island. In less than a week he basically grinded the regenerated island by getting Blathers to study the island, it was all a very great effort that somehow entertained me.

There is something in him that I do connect with.

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  • mattdg204

Gaano ba mahalaga ang isang obra?

Isang obrang pinaghihirapan na magiging larawan ng magagandang buhay sa mundo?

Isang obra na ipinagpakita ang galing ng mga Pilipino?

Those are the questions that were dared to be asked by Nick Joaquin's masterwork "A Portrait of the Artist as a Filipino", its film adaptation, "Ang Larawan", and this showcase concert at the Metropolitan Theater which was held last May 6th, 2023.

The premise and story of this is simple: It's 1941 in Manila. The threat of war was becoming more and more prevalent as the Allies fought the Nazis and Japan prepared its moves. The glitz and glamor of vaudeville or bobadil and Hollywood movies captivated the imaginations many Filipinos. In the midst of it all is an artistic family who has kept guard what could become the greatest masterpiece of the Philippines. Isang maestro obra na pinagtiytiyagaan at matagal nang pinagtatrabhuan. Ito ay maglalarawan ng kakayahan ng mga Pilipino noong araw.

Its portrayal of the beauty and colors of life had gained the attention of some of the most discerning art connoisseurs in Europe and America. They wanted to grab hold of the masterwork from a fine Filipino craftsman, but for the creator of the work, it was a work of importance to himself and his family. He protected it as if the painting was his child. Because he believed that he had the Philippines' finest art piece. With the looming Pacific War, can he be able to make his mastery remembered, even if it meant so much to him as a person??

This showcase effortlessly took us back to the heart of pre-war Manila and the family's struggles through National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab and his majestic orchestral score. The way the score flows into every moment of this presentation takes you back to the glory of 1930s culture. The songs of this show add a layer of drama that showcases how much of a struggle the family faced especially the question of what the piece means to them. The grandeur of the music and lyrics can make you think if that piece is special to the family despite the international attention has thrown at them.

And with this being an "All-Star Concert", of course it brought together some of the brightest luminaries of film, television, music, and the stage. The stars were the glue that held this presentation together and made it a wholesome experience. Recording legend Celeste Legaspi was such a beauty in this show. It was her voice that was the highlight of the all star presentation. She sang every piece wholeheartedly as if this was her own story and it portrayed her own artistic journey while she portrayed the Filipino's never-ending quest for greatness. Kapuso beauty Bea Alonzo along with rising theater star Karylle Tatlonghari, radio DJ and actor Markki Stroem, 80s OPM star Rachel Alejandro, and stage luminaries Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo and Milkki Bradshaw-Volante were also amazing in their portrayals here, as they dress up to become the high society of the pre-war age, every costume is a picture that can speak a thousand words about the exquisite way of life in the era. They had such a way of bringing the good times and elegant tastes of the pre-war times closer to modern audiences. When all these are placed together, they all add up to an experience that is very immersive. It's as if you were invited to their grand party to wine, dine, and celebrate the wonders of the pre-war culture.

While the music and costumes of this concert were some of its biggest key points, it is only the tip of the iceberg. The show ends when the war begins, and it comes with a quite emotional and thought-provoking closing number. It is a remembrance of the artists who have gave their lives to showcase the beauty of Filipino artistry, as well as how despite how much of our beloved culture was destroyed as a result of war, the memories remain strong through the power of the arts, music, paintings, literature, and film. For me it gave off the same ring as "The Story of Tonight" from Hamilton, as it is about how the remains of the past that were preserved continue to spark the imaginations of generation after generation.

The finale number shows us that the arts, along with the dreams and aspirations of FIlipinos that it carried, will never ever be diminished. The memories that are preserved of those before us will stay fresh in our hearts in the form of paintings, music, books, and other art forms. The power of the arts will help us remember our ancestors, and it cannot be taken away from us, whether it be destroyed by Japanese bombers, corrupt governments, or a virus that became a silent killer and infected humanity. Those themes are very relevant now especially as we come out of the hardship of the COVID pandemic and how the arts served as our refuge in the midst of the lockdowns.

Ang sinig at kultura natin ay susi sa pagaalaala sa ating kasaysayan.

At kahit mawasak ang ating buhay, ang sinig ay nagiging pinagmulan ng pag-asa at mga alaala ng matamis na buhay noong araw.

Mahalaga ang mga obra bara mabigyan ang mga susunod na henerasyon ng opportunidad na makikita ang masasayang buhay noong araw at mai-preserve din ang mga bagay na masaya sa ating kasalukuyang buhay at ang mga adhikain na pinagtindigan natin para sa mga tao sa kinabukasan.

Ito ang mensahe ng All-Star Concert ng Ang Larawan.

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New family tunes for the new year!

LOS FABULOSOS – Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band

One of my favorite nominees in this category has to be the latest from LA’s leading family rockstars Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band. As always, they have such a ring to families of exquisite musical taste with a perfect blend of silliness, sense, and sensationalism. And two of my favorite tunes capture the very essence of the group: “Me Gusta” shows the groups rather chill soft rock vibes that makes it perfect for long trips or vacation vlogs and “Ridiculous”, expressing the comedic side of the group with vestiges of Weird Al and other comedic artists.

This album may be a short one but hey, it's got something for everyone!


With blues being under tapped in the field of family music, Wendy and DB put their heads together to create the ultimate family blues album inspired by the blues anthems that have driven Chicagoland for many decades.

Blending messages of love, reassurance, and community with a dash of zippy humor and a lot of good heart, it is a celebration of the genre that has brought emotion, community, hope and expression to many African-American communities in its darkest moments and introducing a new generation of families to the wonders of the blues.

Every single song here is filled with heart and reassurance, especially the title track in this album, as it sings out the values of humanity that have been important to many Americans during 2020, a time of social, political, and national reckoning and values that are important to pass on to this generation faced with tons of social changes and challenges.

One favorite of mine has to be "Women of the Blues" featuring blues powerhouse Ivy Ford, as it tells the story of all the many ladies who have become major blues superstars and shattered all the glass ceilings along the way , and another certainly has to be "Time To Shine" as it is such a sentimental and very endearing message to young listeners and it harkens back to the days when blues were king.

Every minute of this album is without a doubt, full of love and care.

THE MOVEMENT - Alphabet Rockers

The latest from music makers, activists, and changemakers Alphabet Rockers had given them their 3rd Grammy nod for Best Children's Album, and it is very easy to see why.

First of all, they had a vision: A vision to create an album that celebrates the importance of community and its role in building fair and just environments where everyone is given a chance to change the world.

Second, they really outdid themselves with this album, after having come from a period of social and political turmoil in America, they set out to send out a message of unity by reassuring us that the youth have such a powerful role in uplifting those who have been marginalized and creating a world where everything is equal and fair. And it is with that vital message that this whole album is centered around. With that mission, they wrapped it all up in an album that is spattered with uplifting, positive, and get-you-going hip-hop anthems that encourages kids and families to move, groove, and unite towards a world without borders.

All these factors have lead to what could be the biggest and best Rockers album ever, garnering them their third straight Grammy nomination, a huge step towards adding more colors to children's music giving diversity and variety to the genre.

Ready, Set, Go! - Divinity Roxx

If you've never heard of Divinity Roxx, I can tell you she had the best musical life ever, travelling the world playing to sold out stadiums as the bassist for Beyoncé, and now she is flying solo bringing good vibes to the world of children's music in her debut album, Ready, Set, Go!

Every song in this album is a delight for kids young and old to enjoy as they carry positive, reassuring, and heartfelt messages, encouraging kids to discover their individuality and the joy they can bring to the world around them. The title track is the perfect way to start your family's day, and "Be Yourself" is a dance jam that can get kids jumping to their own beats. Add to that collaborations with 123 Andres, FYUTCH, and the Alphabet Rockers, this is the ultimate feel good family album.

If you are ever tired of too much Kidz Bop, this is the perfect album for you.

Space Cadet - Justin Roberts

For decades, Justin Roberts has led the kindie rock revolution with his albums that bring exciting rocking tunes for the under 5s. And this year, he is kicking it up a notch with his latest album, "Space Cadet".

With Roberts' signature style of sensibility (and in some cases nonsensiblity), this album brings together the best of his talents all those years along with the experiences of his 3 year old son and turned them into songs that are full of great energy.

"I Have Been A Unicorn" is perhaps the standout in this album, bringing elements of fantasy, adventure, comedy, and 90s alt-rock into a son that rocks out the the beats of individuality and "Whole Lotta Love In This World", originally a lullaby for his son Eli, definitely has all the feels. In a world where things can become very cynical and can be full of people wanting to bring you down, this tune is a very heartfelt reminder of how much potential we have to see all the love that world can give and can restore your faith in humanity. This album has everything you'll ever need in a wholesome family music album.

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