Soulful Wednesday

I went to Alphonse Bistro in Julia Vargas early last month to treat myself to a night of soul music. I’ve been craving for acid jazz and soul for months that’s why when Telay told me that they’ll be playing, I gave it a go. They played two sets of pure awesome, leaving my ears satisfied. I managed to take a video of three songs and you’ll see them at the end of this post.


In my years of watching the gigs of my friends, I learned two things: not all venues are well-lit so this means I have to use a flash or deal with the blur and noise caused by the high ISO and low shutter speed. I always choose the latter because I’ve never been a fan of depending on the camera flash. The second thing that I learned is that if you want to have a seat with a nice view (two to three tables away from the stage), you have to be early. This worried me that night because I was running late. Good thing Alphonse Bistro is spacious plus it has comfy seats. I loved the white couch near the stage. See and hear your musician friends up close, why not, right? They were already playing when I arrived so after waving them hello and putting my things down, I started to take pictures. It was my first time to watch them perform as a group and I wanted to document everything.

Telay Robles on vocals and her husband, Benjo, on drums.
Telay Robles on vocals and her husband, Benjo, on drums.

I think the vocalist, Telay, will kill me for saying this but I really feel like Chaka Khan is trapped inside her body. Or a gospel singer. She belts out high notes and hits them without effort and with a smile on her face. She gives justice to the songs of India Arie, Jill Scott, and Eryka Badu which is something I’m very thankful for. When you live in a country far from people you want to hear live, you’re always thankful for musician friends who sing their songs perfectly. The first time I heard Telay sing was in 2006 when she and her husband, Benjo, went on stage to jam with K24/7 during one of their gigs. The song? No Diggity by Blackstreet and no, she didn’t ask the boys to do the rap part for her because she did it herself and she nailed it. I’ve been a fan of hers ever since.

RJ Manese on bass, Telay Robles on vocals, Benjo Robles on drums, and John Apura on guitar.

Wonderful by India Arie, Ain’t Giving Up by D’Sound, No Diggity by Blackstreet, and Sweet Thing by Mary J. Blige were some of the songs that they played last night. They ended their last set with a song from Jessie J (Domino) which was a pleasant surprise. It was a nice way to end Wednesday and welcome Thursday. I went home with an sd card filled with memories of that night.

As promised, here are the videos. Enjoy!

Crystal Beach Resort Presents: Music by the Beach

One of the things that I enjoy doing whenever I’m at the beach is taking pictures of sunsets. When I learned from my good friend RJ that we’ll be going to Crystal Beach with the Julianne Trio (Julianne + Benjo + RJ) for their performance last March 23, I made sure that my camera’s batteries were fully charged.  It was a little cloudy. Luckily, I managed to take these photos:

Just like a star across my sky….
I’m loving angels instead…

The four of us sat by the beach while watching the sky change its hues. We exchanged sentences and phrases in between shutter clicks, all wanting to capture the magnificent view before us while making sure that everyone was enjoying the moment. It was nice to listen to them talk about their “most recommended” phone apps,  music, and Julianne’s upcoming album, “Ashes to Beauty”.  I like how musicians are chill and steady, yet they surprise you once they play their instruments. That afternoon was definitely one for the books.

Grateful. Really grateful. (c) Benjo Robles

That night, at Crystal Beach Resort gathered under the stars and listened to music by no other than the country’s soulchild, Julianne. She sang some of her originals “Tulak ng Bibig”, “Healing”, and “7000 Miles to Grow”. She also sang covers of the songs “Ain’t no Sunshine” by Bill Withers and “Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae.

Julianne Tarroja
Julianne Tarroja
The Julianne Trio
The Julianne Trio

Some of my surfer/wahine friends dropped by to watch the gig too!

With Dindi.
With Dindi.
Kuya Bry, Kuya Ping, and Benjo.
Liwa Crew. :)
Liwa Crew. 🙂

Mark and Abby Ramos (owners of Crystal Beach Resort) were there too. They’re both very nice and accommodating. It was nice to finally meet Abby- I’ve been a fan of hers since I started collecting Candy Mag. 😉

The night ended well. My ears were filled with soulful music and my heart was really happy. To those who weren’t able to attend, I uploaded some videos for you. Enjoy! 🙂

Julianne Tarroja – Tulak ng Bibig from Aliya Agbon on Vimeo.

Julianne – Ain’t No Sunshine from Aliya Agbon on Vimeo.

Julianne – Put Your Records On from Aliya Agbon on Vimeo.

Julianne Tarroja – Healing from Aliya Agbon on Vimeo.

Love On The Street

I’m reposting this from my old blog. I really hope to see this man someday. Hopefully when that time comes I can finally give him a copy of his photo.

I have always been fond of old couples who stay in love with each other through the years. Growing up, I’ve witnessed my grandfather’s undying love for my grandmother. His love for her is printed in everything that he does. One time, he flew all the way to Vigan just to make sure that she gets home safe. When it comes to her (and to family), he gives no excuses. He drops everything and makes sure he’s there. My grandfather is one of the very few men I adore deeply.

When we were on our way to Davao after Blueprinting Mindanao 2030: Youth at Work (more about this in the posts to come), I saw an old man carrying a kickass guitar. I’m sure you’ll agree with me once you scroll down and look at the photo. I was amazed by this man’s creativity and intense passion for music. It broke my heart that at his old age, he had to move from one store to another to play music and hopefully get some money. He wasn’t asking for much. I discovered this when I saw his face light up upon seeing the twenty peso bill I was about to give him.

When I asked him if I can take his picture, he immediately called his wife, held her hands tight, and smiled for me. This is one instance where you don’t need to hear an i love you to know that the couple is madly in love with each other. The non-verbals are enough to give their love justice.

I remember him asking me for a copy of his picture. He was even willing to pay me. If only I had time, I would’ve printed his photo. Sadly, due to time constraints, all I left him was a promise that I’ll give him his photo if we see each other again in the future. I wish this old man well. I hope I’ll still see him when I go back to Tagum.