Entertainment, Field Work, Geography, Music, Sociology, Travel, Urban Ethnomusicology

Friendly Tips for Urban Ethnomusicologists (Field Researchers)

Mabuhay! My apologies for not blogging lately for I have been focused on doing my undergraduate thesis on the Ethnography of Live Professional Musicians in Metro Manila. In my thesis, I have been doing immersion trips in various live music scenes in Metro Manila, such as bars, TV studios, campus concerts, and even private events. Nevertheless, I’m having fun in the process. 🙂

Without further ado, here are some of a few tips to rock (en-roll) your urban ethnomusicological research.

  1. Reserve for your slot early in the TV studio. Nowadays, ABS-CBN is offering studio tour packages in order to watch either It’s Showtime (Php 205) or ASAP (Php 250) as a studio audience, without the need to go to the ABS-CBN Audience Entrance during dawn. However, the reservation should be done around two months before your desired date. Always check the KTX (Kapamilya Tickets) website (https://ktx.abs-cbn.com/) for available slots. Tickets for ASAP get sold out easily though 😦 For special cases, a letter of request (which should state your principal purpose) may be forwarded to the producers.
  2. If you would desire to watch a concert which involves performers with wide fan bases, buy your ticket as soon as the selling period starts. During the Cosmos UP Fair, a lot of people were not able to enter the Sunken Garden for the tickets have already been sold out, hours before the show. Since I went to the UP Fair solely for my thesis, I bought the ticket once the selling period has already started. Some concerts easily sell out like pancakes, such as the recently-concluded concert of Moira dela Torre at the Kia Theater. Even bar concert tickets get sold out easily!
  3. The PUVs and TNVs are your besties! Some venues may not have enough parking space so it’s best to take either the public utility vehicles or transport network vehicles (e.g. Uber, Grab) to bring you to the venue. However, exercise extra caution when traveling late at night. Safety is still your top priority.
  4. Always bring a small notebook and a camera. Unless the venue restricts video and photo documentation of performances, it is best to do documentation of the event by yourself to be able to note more details which you weren’t able to note during documentation. Videos are  “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” field records. In case there are video and photo documentation restrictions, feel free to request for videos from the company’s archives.
  5. Think about your questions carefully before conducting an interview. It is best to observe the event first before inviting someone for an interview. Doing such process may enable you to discuss your observations with him/her in which he/she will be able to interpret your observations better, as well as to refer you to more appropriate sources.
  6. Don’t just focus on observing the performance itself. It is best to interview both casual audiences and regular audiences (more of fans) to get their opinion towards the performance, as well as audience demographics. If allowed to do so, feel free to interview some of the production staff, as well as the performers themselves. For the case of mediated musicians or showbiz personalities, focus more on their performance practice, rather than the staple showbiz talkshow topics. Ask permission from their manager, as well. (Making a separate appointment is more recommended for interviewing showbiz personalities.)
  7. Dress accordingly. Some bars would strictly enforce the “smart-casual” dress code, especially in bars located in hotels. As for weddings, it is best to ask your contact person for the event’s theme and dress code. Decent casual (top and jeans) attire is recommended in most bars (e.g. 19 East) and TV studios so as not to upstage the hosts and performers.
  8. Enjoy, but always keep a keen eye and ear on important details. This is the number one rule for field researchers in general.
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Food, Geography, Globalization, Travel

The Microcosm of Foreign Cultures in the Metro

FILIPINO-CHINESE:

The Chinatown in downtown Manila has been dubbed as the oldest Chinatown in the world, due to the long trading history between the pre-colonial Filipinos and the Chinese. During my choral tour in Xiamen two years ago, we were told by the people from the Philippine Embassy that most of the Filipino-Chinese community in the Philippines had Fujian blood since the Fujian province is the nearest area to the Philippines, Northwestern part, to be specific.

Okay, enough of historical talk. Nowadays, the Manila Chinatown is frequently visited not only during the Chinese New Year. Netizens, specifically v-loggers (YouTubers who mostly do videos in reality TV show style), would troop there to do the so-called “Binondo Food Crawl” where they explore and review every restaurant in the area. Some of the frequently visited restaurants are Wai Ying (known for budget-friendly meals), New Toho Food Center (oldest restaurant in the Philippines, since the late 1800s), Sincerity (known for its fried chicken), Ongpin Mañosa, Estero (literally located near the creek), and many more. Hopia from either Eng Bee Tin or Ho-Land is one of the delicacies available in the area. For those wanting to try cooking one of the Chinese dishes at home, Arranque market at the corner of Recto and Teodora Alonzo St. has everything in store, from Sea Cucumbers to Chinese Cabbage to even various types of mushrooms such as Shiitake and Black Mushrooms.

JAPANESE:

While Japanese restaurants are widely located across the Metro, the most authentic ones are located in Little Tokyo, a small restaurant hub located in Makati. It has likewise became the main setting for the music video of Soapdish band’s 2006 song, “Tensionado”.

While Kikufuji and Seryna remain as the most popular restaurants in the complex, the Yamazaki grocery is known for its budget-friendly meals. Seikyo (formerly Choto Stop) is known for its budget-friendly grocery items with an average price of 88 pesos per item.

KOREAN:

In the early to mid-2000s, Tagalog-dubbed Korean dramas such as “Endless Love” (starred by Choi Ji Woo 최지우), “Lovers in Paris” (starred by Kim Jung Eun 김정은 and Lee Dong Gun 이동건), “Save The Last Dance for Me” (starred by Eugene 유진), and “Jewel in the Palace” started to be broadcast on Philippine television which later topped the TV ratings. Former 2NE1 member Sandara Park 박산다라 likewise dominated the Filipino talent search, “Star Circle Quest”. However, it was only in the late 2000s when Filipinos got to have a dose of Korean culture in Koreatowns established around the metro.

I first encountered Korean expatriates back in high school at St. Scholastica’s College. I noticed that they consistently excel in Math and Science. They likewise have stellar skills in piano playing which I have likewise encountered as a student in the UP College of Music.

Going back to Metro Manila’s Koreatowns, the one in Makati, specifically in the Barangay Poblacion area near Rockwell, is the most popular since most of the Korean restaurants are located there, such as Min Sok and Dong Won. Malate, which used to be the hub for Manila’s nightlife scene, has become another microcosm of Korean culture not only because of the existence of numerous restaurants (i.e. Chosun, Korean Village, Korean Palace, Makchang) and grocery stores. Most of the Korean expatriates are also studying in the nearby schools, especially in the De La Salle University and the University of the Philippines Manila.  Don Antonio Heights in Quezon City has likewise became a partially Korean community, due to the number of Korean residents. Some of my Korean classmates from the UP College of Music live there.

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