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Bohemian refugees in the Metro underground


Bored ka na ba at walang makausap? If you dig electronica, surreal paintings, acid-jazz hip-hop, trip-hop, counter-culture fashion, old school punk, neo-flamenco, spoken-word, improvisational dance, contemporary ballet and Brazilian batucada, then you might be feeling lonely. Places for Bohemian gigs are hard to find these days. What’s an aspiring green card holder of Bohemia to do?

A few months ago Sanctum Unmasct, the Bohemian Embassy of Manila, closed down. Many of us regulars became refugees. I think I’ll find myself hanging out at SaGuijo more often.

SaGuijo is at, where else, Guijo St. in San Antonio Village, Makati. The cozy house turned tricked-out art space witnessed Revolver Productions (of The Manila Times columnist Cris Ramos) get its cherries popped with its first gig last October 21. The hundred-buck entrance included a free mug of daft beer. Sweet. The night was orgasmic.

Pedicab, an 80’s style pop-punk rock band, blew the roof away with hooks galore. A record deal is in the works. I can’t wait.

Live electronica followed suit, courtesy of Wolfmann. Never thought a drum machine could be soulful; Wolfmann proved me wrong. Their sound is wicked. I ended up buying their CD.

Sun Valley Crew entered the scene with streetcore acid-jazz hip-hop. The rappers put soul and spunk into rhymes with a Hammond organ player and a soul sister belting the blues. Their act was tight. I never was a homie, but this rocker’s sure to buy SVC’s next album. SVC is up there with other jazz innovators Third World Project with Meagan Aguilar and Radioactive Sago Project.

Punk resplendent is all I can say about Ciudad. The kick-ass rockers laid the sound thick and fast. “Say goodbye to your hearing grandpa,” was all I could say to myself as I savored the death-defying decibels.

But there’s more to SaGuijo than just bands. Upstairs is the Theo Gallery and I Love You fashion boutique. The ladies of I Love You (I just love saying that), Corrine and Sharon, sell some funky gear. Many of their merchandise can also be found at the U.F.O. gallery.

What makes a Bohemian suite

More than just a performance venue, a gallery space or a merchandise boutique, a bona fide embassy of Bohemia is a place to lounge, drink and conspire on the next counter culture attack. This perhaps is the most important criterion; it’s a place where making friends with complete strangers is but natural. Common tastes, like minds, cozy atmosphere and cheap drinks make artists and culture vultures come together. If you’re lucky, you wake up with your newfound friend the next morning.

Every Bohemian hangout also has its prerequisite resident sage/artist/sensei. The famed columnist Conrado de Quiros drinks his beer nightly at 70’s Bistro. The great actor Rony Lazaro is ever present at Penguin Cafe. Punk survivor and columnist Hank Palenzuela mans the bar at BigSkyMind. Spoken-word divas Aslie Aslanan and Triccia David were Sanctum’s owners and oracles. Conspiracy is owned by Filipino music legends Gary Granada, Joey Ayala and Cookie Chua Cynthia Green Papaya has no less than visual artist Norberto Roldan and contemporary dancer Donna Miranda.

There are few places that shelter counter culture in the city. Most are tucked away in obscure streets, with gigs known only through word-of-mouth and e-mail groups; if you don’t know, then you never will. That is, unless you read the Culture Vulture, homie.

If you want to get some soul food, you have to look for it.

UFO is at 85 Araullo Street, Addition Hills. 70’s Bistro is in Anonas Avenue, Quezon City. Penguin Café is in Adriatico Circle, Malate. Big Sky Mind is in Broadway Street near the corner of E. Rodriguez Avenue in New Manila. Green Papaya Art Projects is in Maginhawa Street, Teacher’s Village, Diliman. Sanctum will soon rise again with a new name and a new location. Now get lost.

Rome Jorge can be found at www.hanepdesigns.com and can be reached at hanepdesigns @yahoo.com.

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Today’s Front Page February 29, 2020

Today’s Front Page February 29, 2020