Last Idol, thank you – and I love you!

Last Idol is no more

Last Idol promoting their Last Album in 2022. Image from Generasia.
Last Idol promoting their Last Album in 2022. Image from Generasia.

Imagine what the COVID-19 pandemic did to billions of people worldwide – particularly Jpop groups and fans like me. 

On March 9, 2022, it was announced that Last Idol – which I first listened to during the Yuletide season of 2017 – would be disbanding on May 31 after a last concert due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the group’s activities. 

As of this writing, Last Idol, a Japanese idol group produced by Akimoto Yasushi of AKB48 and Nogizaka46 fame, is no more. And it was only last month I learned that Last Idol – which was composed of five sub-groups or sub-units: LaLuce, Good Tears, Choux Cream Rockets, Someday Somewhere, and Love Cocchi – had disbanded.

LaLuce as Last Idol for "Everything will be all right" in 2019. Image from Generasia.
LaLuce as Last Idol for “Everything will be all right” in 2019. Image from Generasia.
Good Tears as of 2019. Image from Generasia. Last Idol
Good Tears as of 2019. Image from Generasia.
Someday Somewhere as of 2018. Image from Generasia. Last Idol
Someday Somewhere as of 2018. Image from Generasia.
Love Cocchi as of 2018. Image from Generasia. Last Idol
Love Cocchi as of 2018. Image from Generasia.
Choux Cream Rockets as of 2018. Image from Generasia. Last Idol
Choux Cream Rockets as of 2018. Image from Generasia.

What have I been doing over the past few months? Demon Slayer. Spy x Family. Skilled Teaser Takagi-san. After the Rain. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. Elvis. National and local elections. Work. What else?   

What should I do now that Last Idol is no more? Cry?

Write a blog post in their honor. Write a blog post to express eternal love. Write a blog post to keep their music and memory alive. Keep listening to them on Spotify. Keep watching them on YouTube. Of course!

And above all, move forward, with gratitude for Last Idol and everlasting appreciation for their divine beauty.

Last Idol, my last best discovery of 2017

The year 2017 is one of my best years for music. It was in that year that I was introduced to Spotify by a former workmate. Since then, Spotify has become one of my two biggest sources of new music, the other being YouTube. 

The year 2017 was when I discovered a lot of new artists (and rediscovered old ones) and cool tracks, many of which have become favorites. To list some of them: 2gether (“The Hardest Part Of Breaking Up”), Chise Kanna (“After The Rain”), Cool (“All For You”), Goose house (“Hikaru Nara”) Higashi Ikebukuro 52 (“Watashi Saison), Little Glee Monster (“Hajimari no Uta,” “Shunkashuutou,” “Suki da.”), mihimaru GT (“Love Letter”), Miho Fukuhara (“Yasashii Aka”), PASSPO (“TRACKS”), Shane Filan (“This I Promise You”), Skillet (“Hero,” “Monster”), wacci (“Kirameki”), and BTS (“Spring Day”). 

Perhaps my best or rather, my most beautiful music discovery in 2017 was Last Idol. 

I came across Last Idol during the Christmas season, on the last days of the year, just days before the holiday break. Where did I find Last Idol? Where else but the internet! How? I forgot. My bad! 

I really can’t remember how and on what website I stumbled upon Last Idol. I forgot what led me to the idol group. If you could remember, I failed to publish a year-end music list article in December 2017.

"Bandwagon" Type A with LaLuce as Last Idol. Image from Generasia.
“Bandwagon” Type A with LaLuce as Last Idol. Image from Generasia.

What I could remember is the joy and excitement upon hearing the tracks “Bandwagon,” performed by the sub-unit LaLuce (promoted as Last Idol) and “Again & Again” by another sub-unit Someday Somewhere. 

Someday Somewhere in their MV "Again & Again." Screenshot from www.bilibili.com
Someday Somewhere in their MV “Again & Again.” Screenshot from http://www.bilibili.com

I will never forget the happiness I felt when reading about Last Idol on Google and various web pages and watching their live performances on YouTube. Last Idol was what mattered to me on that night. 

I will never forget that I fell in love with them at first hearing and first viewing. 

Imagine my surprise when I read that Last Idol was produced by the man who created AKB48 and Nogizaka46; and that the sub-unit Someday Somewhere was produced by Sashihara Rino of AKB48 and HKT48 fame. Still remember Sasshi? And also, the sub-unit Love Cocchi was produced by Tsunku, who is best known for producing the idol group Morning Musume

I could never forget a few things about the Last Idol family. I created my first GIFs, using the dance moves of LaLuce and Someday Somewhere. I posted these GIFs on one GIF website, where I received a lot of views and likes.Like with AKB48, SKE48, and Nogizaka46, I also was blown away by the beauty of some Last Idol members, particularly Nanami Abe (namesake of Nanami Hashimoto of Nogizaka46), Yasuda Airi, and Yoshizaki Aya (who graduated in April 2018) of LaLuce; Majima Wakana (who looks like Hollywood actress Liv Tyler) of Someday Somewhere; Ikematsu Airi of Good Tears; and Nishimura Honoka of Love Cocchi.

Last Idol after their debut

After “Bandwagon” in 2017, the Last Idol family released four singles in 2018: “Kimi no Achoo!” (spearheaded by Choux Cream Rockets), “Suki de Suki de Shouganai,” “Everything Will Be All Right,” and “Ai Shika Buki ga Nai.”

Last Idol's "Otona Survivor" regular edition. Image from Generasia.
“Otona Survivor” regular edition. Image from Generasia.
Last Idol's "Seishun Train" limited edition. Image from Generasia.
“Seishun Train” limited edition. Image from Generasia.
Last Idol's "Ai wo Shiru" web edition. Image from Generasia.
Ai wo Shiru” web edition. Image from Generasia.

In 2019, they released two singles – which, for me, are their best tracks: “Otona Survivor” and “Seishun Train,” both of which made into my 16 Best Jpop Songs I’ve Heard in 2019 blog post. 

In 2020, they released two singles: “Ai wo Shiru” and “Nanbitomo.” In 2021, the idol group released their last two singles: “Kimi wa Nan Carat?” and “Break a leg!.” The last single made it to my The Best Jpop Tracks of 2021 blog post. 

Overall, Last Idol released 11 singles throughout their short career. In April 2022, they released their first and only album, aptly titled Last Album.

Last Idol in my pandemic period

Last Idol may cease to exist but never will I forget them, especially whenever I look back to the lockdown period.

During the pandemic lockdown, I listened to and watched a lot of Last Idol. I YouTube-d their live performances. I was amazed by their choreography and dance moves for “Otona Survivor,” which they performed at a basketball game. What astounding choreography! It was due to this video below that made the song among my top 3 Last Idol tracks (though ranking way lower than “Seishun Train” in my 2019 year-end best list.

I was also amazed by their live performance of “Seishun Train.” You might want to check the video below. It’s one of the most memorable live performances I’ve ever watched – because some idol lost a shoe early into the performance.

Their coupling track “Kabe wa Tsudzuku” was one of my earliest LSS songs in the pandemic lockdown period. I came across a studio performance of the song on YouTube. Nanami Abe looked so divine, and Ikematsu Airi looked spectacular too.

Sometime in the middle of the pandemic lockdown, I came across the idol group RINGO MUSUME on YouTube. I was kind of shocked that one of the members was a former member of the sub-unit Good Tears. This idol, Orin or Ourin, joined RINGO MUSUME in 2013. She became a member of the Last Idol sub-unit Good Tears in 2017 and left the next year to rejoin Ringo Musume. She graduated in 2022.

Where to, now that Last Idol is gone?

I really had great expectations for the Last Idol family. I envisioned them to overtake AKB48 and Nogizaka46 in terms of sales and popularity in just a few years. For quite some time, they were my favorite idol group. 

Like every idol group, the Last Idol family was never safe from graduations. I felt quite sad when I read that my most favorite member in LaLuce, Yoshizaki Aya, graduated in 2018. She was the first Japanese idol I followed on Instagram. 

Then, the pandemic happened, thus limiting their opportunities. Things happened, and they disbanded two years later. 

I remember reading an article about Last Idol releasing an album titled Last Album. I thought they titled it that way because they are “Last Idol.” It was only last month when I realized what the album’s title really meant – and what their MV for “Bokutachi wa Sora wo Miru” was trying to convey.

What have I been doing during the last few months? What was I doing when the Last Idol family announced their disbandment?

Perhaps the question or the most important question is what I should do now. The first thing I should do is publish this post in an hour or two. The second is to keep on loving them until my very last breath.

I think of the Last Idol family members. I wonder what and how they are doing. I hope they get good projects or contracts from other companies or branch out in other fields. I wish them all the best.

So, to Last Idol… thank you for the music, the tracks I have loved since 2017. Thank you, LaLuce! Thank you, Good Tears! Thank you, Choux Cream Rockets! Thank you, Someday Somewhere! Thank you, Love Cocchi!

Thank you, Last Idol, and I love you!

Recommended listening:

Last Idol, “Bandwagon”

Someday Somewhere, “Again & Again”

Last Idol, “Suki de Suki de Shouganai”

Love Cocchi, “Seishun Symphony”

Last Idol, “Otona Survivor”

Last Idol, “Kireyou”

Last Idol, “Seishun Train”

Last Idol, “Ai wo Shiru”

Last Idol, “Kabe wa Tsudzuku”

Last Idol, “Break a leg! ”

Last Idol, “Bokutachi wa Sora wo Miru” 

Recommended reading:

Last Idol | Generasia

Last Idol | Japanese Music Wiki

Last Idol announces disbandment | allkpop

“LAST IDOL” announced Graduation Album “LAST ALBUM”. | SI-Doitsu

Marcos, Duterte fanatics need not send their kids to school

Image from BusinessMirror

Tomorrow, August 22, Monday, will be the first day of the school year 2022-2023 in the Philippines. From tomorrow to October 31, schools will implement any of the three options: five days of face-to-face classes, blended learning, or full distance learning. By November 2, all schools should shift to face-to-face classes.

Should Marcos loyalists and Duterte fanatics bother themselves about the opening of classes tomorrow? They should not.

Given that Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte-Carpio were elected as president and vice president, respectively, last May, there is no longer any need for the 31 million-plus voters to send their children to school.

I also tell the same to college students among the BBM-Sara voters. There is no longer any need for them to finish their studies.

For both Marcos loyalists and Dutertards, it is better to be well-mannered than to be well-educated.

Bongbong Marcos – the man voted by more than 31 million Filipinos – never finished his studies at Oxford University. Throughout the campaign, he maintained he is a graduate of Oxford and that his “special diploma” is equivalent to a degree.

The issue over Marcos’ education first emerged six years ago when his profile on a Senate website showed he obtained an Oxford degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

However, Oxford University said Marcos Jr. did not complete his degree.

“According to our records, he did not complete his degree, but was awarded a special diploma in Social Studies in 1978,” Oxford said in an e-mailed reply to questions. “The special diploma was not a full graduate diploma.”

Bongbong inherited his lying skills from his dictator and plunderer of a father (who falsified his World War II exploits) and sister (Senator Imee Marcos who falsified her educational credentials from different schools and even had the gall to claim she earned a degree from Princeton.).

If BBM supporters were okay with voting Marcos Jr., a college dropout, as president of the Philippines, then they should also be okay with their children not finishing school. BBM parents of college students should be fine with their sons and daughters dropping out and never graduating. After all, it is better to be well-mannered than to be well-educated.

For Marcos loyalists, Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok are the most truthful, most accurate, and most reliable sources of news and information. Not books, especially history books written and compiled by trusted and credible historians.

For Marcos loyalists, pro-BBM vloggers, influencers and content creators are more trustworthy, more reliable than trusted and credible journalists and historians.

So, if being well-mannered is better than being well-educated and it’s better to watch TikTok and YouTube than to read books, why send children to school?

Why send their children to school where they will need to read books, particularly history books?

Why send their children to school when TikTok and YouTube are cheaper and offer a more flexible schedule? With TikTok and YouTube, parents need not to get up early and help their children prepare for school. Instead of saving money for tuition and books, they could instead save for Internet data promos.

The money pro-Marcos parents could save from school fees, uniform, lunch, books, school supplies, and transportation would be better spent on Internet data promos. Given the current economic situation, Marcos loyalist parents should be more practical.

Above all, why should BBM-Sara supporters send their children to school, where “honesty is the best policy”?

During the 2019 midterms, then Davao City mayor Sara Duterte said that all candidates lie and honesty should never be an election issue. She even claimed that the law (probably referring to the 1987 Constitution) does not require senators to be honest.

Sara Duterte said, “What’s important is what is required by the law. What does the law say for a senator? Able to read and write, natural-born citizen. Does it say they must have good moral character? Does it say the person has to be honest? That’s why I said if honesty is the basis, all the candidates are disqualified.”

No wonder Sara Duterte is Sara without an “h” for “honesty.

No wonder Sara Duterte is the daughter of the previous president who not only messed up the country’s COVID-19 response but also condoned the corruption over overpriced medical supplies. (The Pharmally scandal involved his manservant-senator, health secretary, and economic adviser.)

No wonder Sara Duterte is the daughter of the former president who said in his last State of the Nation Address that corruption was “endemic in government” and “nobody can stop corruption unless you overturn the government completely.”

No wonder Sara Duterte does not have an “h” to her name.

It is so ironic that Sara Duterte is the current Secretary of Education. So I think, under her administration, dishonesty will be the best and only policy. Maybe teachers and students will not be required to be honest. 

With Bongbong Marcos as president and Sara Duterte as vice president and education secretary, why should BBM-Sara voters send their children to school? Why should BBM-Sara voters encourage their kids to go to college? Being well-mannered is better and more important than being well-educated, right? Why go to school to read books and learn to think when Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok will suffice? 

So, to all parents who voted for BBM and Sara Duterte, stop sending your children to school. You might as well tell your children to skip or drop out of college.

To all college students who voted BBM-Sara, what are you waiting for? Drop out of college now and PARTY!!!

21 reasons to watch the Maid in Malacañang movie

A movie made for 31 million voters

I’m so excited to watch the movie Maid in Malacañang, written and directed by Darryl Yap who is said to be a pdf file class director. The movie is based on the Marcos family’s last three days in the Malacañang Palace before they were forced to flee to Hawaii during the EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986.

Maid in Malacañang poster. Image from the Twitter of Andoy @masikap

Maid in Malacañang stars Cesar Montano as the late president Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., Cristine Reyes as Imee Marcos (who is currently serving as senator), Diego Loyzaga (Cesar’s son) as Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (who is now the president), Ella Cruz as Irene Marcos, and Ruffa Gutierrez as first lady Imelda R. Marcos, who was found guilty of seven counts of graft in 2018.

(Well, the reason I’m so excited to watch this movie is because I like Cristine Reyes and Ella Cruz. I’ll watch this movie because of them and for them. I love you, Cristine. I love you, Ella. Mua mua chup chup!)

Classified as historical fiction, historical revision, and historical distortion, Maid in Malacañang will be shown tomorrow in theaters nationwide. Well, there are 21 reasons to watch this cellar dweller of a class D film:

Maid in Malacañang
Maid in Malacañang won a number of awards at the Golden Phallus Awards 2022. Image from the Twitter of DAVAOMIGRANT @nabunturanguy
  1. Maid in Malacañang is an award-winning movie. The counter movie Katips isn’t the only one to win awards.
  2. You were one of the paid attendees at the campaign rallies of Bongbong Marcos and Sara Duterte and you enjoyed it.
  3. You belong to a cult that worships BBM’s father, president Ferdinand E. Marcos, as the second incarnation of either Jesus Christ or the Philippine national hero Jose P. Rizal. (You have to be stupid enough to worship Marcos Sr., who was a plunderer, a murderer, and a fraud.)
  4. You are a criminal, plunderer, and murderer like Marcos Sr. and his daughter (BBM’s sister) Imee Marcos.
  5. You are a criminal, tax evader, and college dropout with a fake diploma and always love to party like Bongbong Marcos.
  6. You are a fraud just like Marcos Sr., his wife Imelda, and their children BBM, and Imee.
    • Marcos Sr. is a fake war hero.
    • Imelda is a fake socialite. She had never worked a job in her life.
    • Bongbong Marcos and Imee claimed they graduated from prestigious schools but their claims were refuted by these schools. Their diplomas/degrees are fake.
    • The Marcos family got rich by graft and corruption, cronyism, nepotism, and state terrorism, so they are fake rich.
  7. You or your wife is a social climber like Imelda Romualdez Marcos.
  8. You want your children and grandchildren to become a criminal, plunderer, murderer, and a fraud.
  9. You are proud and happy being a college dropout because you have no brains at all. (Admit it that you were never fit for college.)
    • Plus, you have a fake diploma, which you had one made only at Recto, probably where Imee got hers too.
  10. You are okay with your children and grandchildren dropping out of school and just getting a fake diploma at Recto.
    • It’s better to be well-mannered than educated, right? So, why not stop sending your kids or grandchildren to school or college and just let them party like Bongbong Marcos did in his youth?
  11. You belong to a family of evil people. Probably your ancestors were evil people.
    • Probably your grandparents were collaborators (like Marcos Sr.’s father – and Bongbong’s and Imee’s grandfather) during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines.
    • Maybe your parents were among the people who oppressed ordinary Filipinos during the Marcos reign of corruption, cronyism, and state terrorism.
    • Maybe you were an evil person in your past lives and were reincarnated as a voter of Bongbong Marcos and Sara Duterte last election. Maybe you were a Nazi in one of your past lives.
  12. You are a corrupt politician or belong to a corrupt political family or political dynasty – and are proud of it.
  13. You and your family always vote for corrupt and evil politicians and political dynasties.
  14. Other than the aforementioned, you and your family also support a host of other evil people such as pedophiles, cult leaders that make money off their gullible members, and celebrities that support corrupt and evil politicians.
  15. You belong to a religious group which leader endorsed or which majority of its members supported BBM, Sara Duterte, and the Uniteam ticket.
    • If you’re a member of Iglesia ni Cristo, Members of Church of God International (Ang Dating Daan), and Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name, watch Maid in Malacañang if you don’t want to “lose” your “salvation.”
    • If you’re an evangelical or Pentecostal Protestant (born-again Christian), you can’t go against the church, so make your pastor/minister and watch the damn movie. You might even want to use your tithes and offerings to buy tickets for those who can’t afford tickets.
    • If you’re a Catholic who voted for the BBM-Sara Uniteam ticket, probably you have never been catechized or were not properly catechized. Maybe you’re too lazy too to read the lives of the saints and church leaders who stood up for social justice and fought against injustice and oppression. Maybe you’re not Catholic at all.
  16. You believe you’ll receive a Tallano gold bar after watching Maid in Malacañang. So PhP500 for attending Bongbong Marcos and Sara Duterte’s campaign sorties was never enough, huh?
  17. You and your family are slaves and not free people. Why slaves? Because:
    • You’ve voted for political families and corrupt, incompetent and evil politicians for generations.
    • You’re fine with people like Bongbong Marcos and his family stealing from taxes – taxes paid by you, your parents and grandparents – to fund their lavish lifestyles. You’re okay with them robbing you.
    • You’re okay with working yourself to death so BBM’s son Sandro Marcos could buy a sports car off your taxes. Wow! What an obedient slave! What a martyr! You should be canonized by the Marcos cult. 
  18. You flunked history. But you’re okay with it because it’s better to be well-mannered than to be intelligent, ignorant than informed.
  19. You don’t like to read books. Why read books when there is Facebook, YouTube, and even TikTok?
  20. You don’t have research and critical thinking skills. You let pro-Marcos vloggers do the thinking and research for you. It’s a waste of time to read books, to research and think, right?
  21. You’re not a fan of the Beatles. Enough said. Why don’t you YouTube about it? Marcos never, Beatles forever!

Man, I can’t hold my excitement anymore! Maid in Malacañang will bomb the box office with the power of the unity of 31 million voters, who are never bothered by inflation, price increase of fuel and basic commodities, and corruption and other socioeconomic ills and sociopolitical evils. Unity will get the 31 million voters through crisis. It’s better to be well-mannered than well-educated.

Watch Maid in Malacañang and you’ll never regret it. Peace, Tallano gold bars, PhP20 per kilo of rice, and red and green burgers for all!

Thank you, Yoshino Nanjō, for Phase 2 fripSide

fripSide heaven is a place on earth
Yoshino Nanjō and Sat posing for “Heaven is a Place on Earth”

What was I doing when fripSide is transitioning?

I should have written this post months ago, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I wasn’t able to. Now seems to be the right time to write and publish this as my mobile device is blasting fripSide tracks. 

I can’t recall what I was doing when vocalist Yoshino Nanjō announced her retirement from fripSide during the fripSide Announcement Special livestream on October 31, 2021 – except that I went through a very, very hard time. And when I read about it on the Internet in the middle of November, I still hadn’t recovered, so I was unable (or in other words, too busy wallowing in my problems) to process the news (unlike what I did with Nanami Hashimoto, Shiraishi Mai, Jurina Matsui, Minegishi Minami, Takayama Kazumi, Ikuta Erika, Sayuri Matsumura, Shiroma Miru, Miyawaki Sakura, Ozono Momoko, and Yokoyama Yui).

READ: Voice Actress Yoshino Nanjō to Leave fripSide Music Duo

Entering 2022 with renewed hope, I looked forward to listening to any new material that the Phase 2 fripSide might release. In February, the duo released their last single “leap of faith.” In the following month, they released their last album infinite synthesis 6, which contained the track “endless voyage.” The full size official music video to “endless voyage” was uploaded on YouTube just a few days before the album’s release.

Screen capture from “endless voyage.” SC from http://blog.livedoor.jp/fumichen2

“Endless voyage” with Phase 2 fripSide

“endless voyage” serves as a fitting closing song to Yoshino Nanjō’s 13-year career with fripSide. Plus, this is the swan song to Phase 2 fripSide, which performed for 13 years (13 years?!?! Wow!). 

You might want to check out the final seconds of the music video. After the song died down, a sad and contemplative look dawned on Yoshino Nanjō’s face as she looked up briefly at the ceiling (probably reflecting briefly on her career as Phase 2 fripSide for long 13 years and that it has finally come to an end).

As she began to take off her right earpiece, the session musicians behind her began to leave for the exit. She then turned around and walked to a small table near the instruments. As she took a sip of water, fripSide main man Satoshi Yaginuma (Sat) walked past behind her, following the departing session musicians. She then turned around left, looking toward the other session musicians that were on the side and the studio see-through mirror, before making her way to the exit.

I still can’t get over the final seconds of the “endless voyage” MV. Everytime I watch and contemplate on it, I feel something heavy in my chest. Does the end always have to be painful and sad? 

In April, Yoshino Nanjō performed at the fripSide Phase 2 Final Arena Tour for the last time as vocalist. The Phase 2 vocalist started performing “infinite synthesis” as the 22nd song on the concert’s setlist, only to be joined halfway through the song by the Phase 3 vocalists Mao Uesugi and Hisayo Abe, who got to perform Phase 3 fripSide’s first song “dawn of infinity.” (My God, even writing that line made me sad.)

READ: fripSide Music Unit Announces Phase 3 Vocalists

What was I doing then? Forgive me, I can’t remember. 

Less than three months after Yoshino Nanjō’s last concert with Sat as Phase 2 fripSide, I finally got the time and motivation to write this blog post. Despite still going through some more problems, I wrote – out of enduring love for Phase 2 fripSide, which is one of the beautiful pieces from my past.

Phase 2 fripside after the last 10 years

In 2015, I published the blog post fripSide and Four Years Later, sharing my story of how I found Phase 2 fripSide, thanks to AKB48, in the last quarter of 2011. The song (and MV) that got me following the pop and trance duo was “Heaven is a Place on Earth,” which is one of my most favorite tracks in life.

fripSide future gazer Satoshi Yaginuma and Yoshino Nanjō
Phase 2 fripSIde posing for “everlasting”

In the last few days of 2011, I searched for fripSide’s other tracks on YouTube: “everlasting,” “only my railgun,” “Level 5 Judgelight,” “Future Gazer,” and “flower of bravery” (a Phase 1 track, vocals performed by the first singer nao).

Somewhere in the first or second quarter of 2012, I stumbled upon Altima, Sat’s side project. Altima is a trio, with a male rapper, the female lead singer, and Sat as the instrumentalist. I recommend the following tracks: “Indefinitely-,” “I’ll believe,” “Burst The Gravity,” “ONE,” and “Fight 4 Real.” 

fripSide Decade 10th anniversary album
Sat, Yoshino Nanjō, and nao for “Decade”

Somewhere in the third and fourth quarter of 2012, I awaited the release of Decade, the album which celebrates the band’s ten years in the music industry. The titular single “Decade” was performed by both Yoshino Nanjō and nao. So excited I was for “Decade” that I even wrote an imaginary article (because I am a frustrated music journalist) titled, Imaginary Article on fripSide’s Decade. The carrier single is my LSS of 2012. 

Also sometime in 2012, Sat produced an “Anison” (anime song) girl band Spoon. The only song I ever heard from the trio was “Silverlight,” probably the only single they released. 

In 2013, I listened to “Sister’s Noise” during the summer and “eternal reality,” when I was already working for my second employer. It was a surprising find, that “eternal reality.”

fripSide black bullet Satoshi Yaginuma and Yoshino Nanjō
Banner advert for “black bullet”

In the summer of 2014, I listened to “black bullet,” around the same time I discovered Nogizaka46. And later that year, fripSide released the album infinite synthesis 2, which contains some tracks that I like: “Fermata~Akkord:fortissimo~,” “I’m Believing You,” “Secret Of My Heart,” and “Always Be With You.”

In the summer of 2015, I listened to “Luminize,” which I did not like. Later that year, fripSide released the album fripSide PC game compilation vol. 02, which contains the tracks “Precious Time,” “Fortuna On The Sixteenth Night,” and “Hesitation Snow” and another single “Two Souls – Toward The Truth.” 

In 2016, which is one of the worst and most challenging years of my life, I listened to “White Forces.” The duo released the album infinite synthesis 3, which contains the track “Dry your tears.” They also collaborated with angela on a single “Boku wa Boku de Atte.”

In the summer of 2017, Phase 2 fripSide released the single “clockwork planet.” Days before the Halloween season, they released the album crossroads, which contains the aforementioned track and the titular track. 

In 2018, they released three singles, two of which I like: “divine criminal” and “Love with You.” They released an album too, infinite synthesis 4, but I haven’t heard it until now. 

In 2019, Phase 2 fripSide only released an album infinite synthesis 5, which I haven’t heard yet too.  

In 2020, the pop-trance duo released three singles: “final phase,” “dual existence,” “and “legendary future.”

In 2021, they didn’t release anything. 

In 2022, their last year of existence, they released their last single “Leap of faith,” which, at #9, is their highest charting single at the Japanese Oricon weekly single charts since 2013’s “Sister’s Noise.” They also released their last album infinite synthesis 6, which contains “endless voyage.” After their last concert together, Phase 2 fripSide was no more. We are now in the era of Phase 3 fripSide. 

While writing that, I felt like crying. I really, really wanted to cry, but like Kanao Tsuyuri of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, I couldn’t. I was stunted. 

There’s nothing I could do but to move on in life – with a life-long love for Phase 2 fripSide, which is one the the earliest Jpop artists I listened to many years ago.

When I listened to AKB48 for the first time, I liked what I saw and listened to. When I listened to fripSide for the first time, I knew what I should listen to. 

Thank you, Yoshino Nanjō! Thank you, Phase 2 fripSide! Forever you will be in my heart!

fripSide Yoshino Nanjō
Yoshino Nanjō on the cover for “Decade”

Recommended tracks

Decade

Heaven is a Place on Earth

always be with you

White Forces

black bullet

everlasting

only my railgun

Level 5 Judgelight

Future Gazer

Sister’s Noise

eternal reality

Two Souls – Toward The Truth

White Forces

clockwork planet

divine criminal

Love with You

infinite synthesis

crossroads

Dry your tears

fermata-Akkordfortissimo-

final phase

Precious time

secret of my heart

Boku wa Boku de Atte (angela x fripSide)

Tamayo carried the Demon Slayer series

Tamayo Demon Slayer
Tamayo. Image from Amino Apps

What would become of the Demon Slayer Corps if Yoriichi Tsugikuni had killed Tamayo?

Well, the demon slayers are toast, Nezuko Kamado would remain a demon, and the Ubuyashiki family will just keep dying. Worse, Muzan Kibutsuji would live forever and make more demons, thus destroying more lives in the process. 

Lame, right? Thank goodness, the narrative didn’t go like that. 

Truth be told, the introduction of Tamayo is the game-changer in the Demon Slayer Corps’ eternal war against the progenitor of demons. Not many readers and viewers of the Demon Slayer series will know this, but this supporting character carried the series from start to finish. Indeed, the war against Muzan started with her – and she finished the war with the help of the demon slayers. She, after all, is the first to believe that Muzan could be defeated. 

Yoriichi sparing Tamayo is probably the most important moment in the series. Here is why:It proves that not all demons are obedient or subservient to Muzan Kibutsuji, the progenitor of demons. The demon girl Tamayo wanted Muzan to die – and felt great hope rising when Yoriichi slashed Muzan, albeit failing to kill him. It dawned upon her that Muzan could be defeated – and demons, like her, could be freed from his curse/control.

Upper panel, L to R: Muzan and Tamayo. Lower panel: Yoriichi Tsugikuni. Image from Kimetsu no Yaiba Wiki - Fandom
Upper panel, L to R: Muzan and Tamayo. Lower panel: Yoriichi Tsugikuni. Image from Kimetsu no Yaiba Wiki – Fandom

It demonstrates that humans have pity for demons who regret their actions. Although it wasn’t told in the manga, Tamayo could have told Yoriichi how she was deceived into becoming a demon by Muzan and that she terribly regretted her sins. Yoriichi could have realized there are demons like Tamayo who became demons due to desperation or hopelessness and that their life is a living hell. And they all wanted Muzan defeated. Given their similar losses, Yoriichi sympathized with her.

Yushiro, Tamayo, and Nezuko
L to R: Yushiro, Tamayo, and Nezuko. Image from Akihabara News

It made possible the cooperation between demons and humans/demon slayers to defeat the ultimate evil that is Muzan. Yoriichi asked Tamayo for her help in defeating Muzan, and she accepted. It proves that demons like Tamayo and the demon slayers could work together in defeating their common enemy. Both parties realized that they couldn’t defeat Muzan on their own, so they needed to work together toward a common goal. 

She made the cure for Nezuko. If Yoriichi had slain Tamayo, who would come to Tanjiro’s aid in Asakusa? Who would give Tanjiro the greatest hope that Nezuko can return to her human form? To whom could Tamayo turn to for blood samples of demons closely related to Muzan so she could produce the medicine for Nezuko? 

By sparing Tamayo, Yoriichi helped Muzan’s victims achieve justice, as well as lift the curse off the Ubuyashiki family, which had suffered too much. Yoriichi knew he was born for the purpose of defeating Muzan. We read in the manga that he failed to kill him, but he did enough damage to instill fear in Muzan. That alone was enough to convince Tamayo and the Demon Slayers that Muzan was never invincible – and justice is possible. It did take centuries, though, and generations of demon slayers and hashiras to punish Muzan for the lives he and his demons had killed, tortured, and tormented. Given that, it also gave Tamayo her chance at revenge – and atonement for her sins as a demon. 

Tamayo is the reason why the Demon Slayer Corps had a fighting chance against Muzan and his remaining Upper Moons. Tamayo worked with Shinobu Kocho to develop the poison that weakened Muzan, as well as the poison that Shinobu used to kill Douma. She made use of the blood demon art of thorns (that belonged to the person that Muzan turned into a demon in Asakusa) to restrain Muzan so she could poison him. She persuaded Yushiro to assist the Demon Slayer Corps. Without Tamayo’s persuasion, there would be no Yushiro to save Zenitsu, help Iguro Obanai and Mitsuri Kanroji, control Nakime the Biwa Demon, force Muzan outside the Infinity Castle, save Tanjiro, and share his blood demon art to the Demon Slayer Corps. And if that’s not enough, there would be no Chachamaru (whom Tamayo turned into a demon cat) to administer the antidote to the Hashiras who were poisoned by Muzan. Above all, without Tamayo, the world would have become a greater hell, with the sun-conquering, all-powerful demon Tanjiro rampaging around and killing a far greater number of people in the sunlight. Tamayo is the reason why the Demon Slayer Corps won. 

As we await the first episode of Kimetsu no Yaiba – Demon Slayer Season 3, let us always appreciate Tamayo – and all supporting characters who help impact every manga/anime series’ plot development. They are the unsung heroes.

Bongbong Marcos is no Jesus Christ

Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (image from Journal News Online)
Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (image from Journal News Online)

It is evil to compare BBM to Jesus Christ

The nerve of the supporters of Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. or BBM to compare their candidate to Jesus Christ. 

They liken BBM – the son of a former president, a plunderer who holds the Guinness World Records for the greatest robbery of a government – to Jesus because they claim BBM has been called a lot of names, has been insulted on social media, has been accused of many crimes that he never committed, and has never lashed out at his opponents. 

Marcos Jr., according to them, only stayed silent amid the jeers, sneers, and taunts from the supporters of Leni Robredo (“Kakampinks”), Isko Moreno, Manny Pacquiao, the elites or upper class in Philippine society, the Catholic Church, and many others whom they claim hate the Marcoses and downplay the economic achievements of his late father. BBM, they say, displayed a Christ-like attitude when it comes to dealing with critics. 

The supporters of BBM – and the whole Bongbong Marcos-Sara Duterte Uniteam slate – fail to comprehend the Gospels and the whole Bible. 

Assuming they are all Christians (whether Catholic, El Shaddai, mainline and evangelical and pentecostal Protestant, Iglesia ni Cristo, Members Church of God International or Ang Dating Daan, or the Kingdom of Jesus Christ – I believe they have never been properly catechized, slept during religion or religious formation class, have been absent from Sunday school, or worse, have been taught by preachers who are wolves in sheeps’ clothing. 

Bongbong Marcos bears no resemblance to Jesus Christ. 

First of all, Jesus Christ never stole from the public. The parents of Marcos Jr. – Makoy or Apo Lakay and Imelda – stole from the public coffers and accepted kickbacks from cronies. Bongbong Marcos and his family continue to live the good life from the billions worth of ill-gotten wealth stolen from the country – wealth that is hidden away in banks around the world. 

Jesus Christ lived the life of a servant. He came down from the Father in Heaven and came into the world not to be served, but to serve and give his life a ransom for many. 

Marcos Jr. and his family, starting from his late father, hold public office only to enrich themselves and their cronies. They hold public office only for fame and prestige. They hold public office only to be served. They never and will never give their lives in the service of many. Public service is never their mission, never in their blood.  

Jesus Christ was born a poor man. He was born to humble parents. Bongbong Marcos Jr. was born rich; his sons were also born rich. His parents even belong to prominent political families. His relatives were born rich, and many of them hold public office. 

Jesus Christ belonged to a royal lineage, that of King David. Bongbong Marcos’ family act as if they are royals. Fake royals, they are. 

Jesus Christ paid taxes, even if He is King and Son of God. Marcos Jr. and his family failed to pay taxes. They’re not even legitimate royals.

Jesus Christ was opposed by the religious authorities of His time. Bongbong Marcos, however, was endorsed by leaders of certain religious groups, such as the Catholic charismatic group El Shaddai and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, which belongs to Apollo Quiboloy. 

Quiboloy is wanted by the FBI for Conspiracy to Engage in Sex Trafficking by Force, Fraud and Coercion, Sex Trafficking of Children, Sex Trafficking by Force, Fraud, Coercion, and other U.S. federal law violations. As of this writing, he roams free in his so-called kingdom in Davao City, the hometown of the current president who is facing investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his war on drugs and his running-mate. 

Marcos Jr. has also received the support of many pentecostal and evangelical Protestants, both lay and leaders. As of this writing, I have yet to know whether the Iglesia ni Cristo will endorse BBM. Probably they will, given that that religious group supported his father in the 1986 snap elections. 

Jesus Christ was betrayed by his own people. The Marcoses betrayed the Filipino people by stealing from them. 

Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world. There is no way Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. would ever die for the Filipino people. Filipino history buffs will know that the Marcos fled after the snap elections in 1986 to avoid the fate that the Romanov family had suffered decades ago. 

When Jesus was crucified, most of his disciples abandoned him. The Marcoses fled to Hawaii, along with an entourage of about 90 people. 

Jesus took nothing with him when he died. He even entrusted his mother to his disciple John. The Marcoses took with them to Hawaii the following:

  • 22 crates of cash valued at $717 million
  • 300 crates of assorted jewelry with undetermined value
  • $4 million worth of unset precious gems contained in Pampers diaper boxes
  • $7.7 million worth of jewelry
  • 65 Seiko and Cartier watches
  • … and many more

No way Bongbong Marcos could be compared to Jesus Christ. The people who are dead set at voting for Him this May 9 are delusional and poorly catechized. BBM is no Jesus Christ, and to compare the college dropout with a fake degree and living on stolen wealth to Christ the King is blasphemy. 

I am blown away by the anime/manga series Demon Slayer

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. Image from IMDb

If I’m not wrong, the hype around the manga/anime series Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba started in late 2020, almost as the same time as the Netflix series Imawa no Kuni no Arisu (Alice in Borderland), which is also based on another manga series. 

At that time, I paid little to no attention to Demon Slayer because I was busy surviving the pandemic. But my cousin’s family and two workmates kept talking about it that when things got better and certain restrictions had been lifted after more than a year, I decided to give Demon Slayer a try.

I started by watching a few clips on YouTube. I then read the manga and watched the series. I also visited the Demon Slayer Wiki (https://kimetsu-no-yaiba.fandom.com) and the Reddit community. (I’m currently watching the Entertainment District Arc and looking forward to the Swordsmith Village Arc.)

Demon Slayer Akaza, Sanemi Shinazugawa, and Iguro Obanai
From L to R: Akaza, Sanemi Shinazugawa, and Iguro Obanai. Image from Game Rant

Tragic backstories make Demon Slayer worth watching

I praise Demon Slayer for its compelling storytelling and character and plot development, particularly with the background stories of certain demon slayers, as well as demons. I am really touched by the tragic backstories of: 

Zenitsu, who was abandoned by the girl he loved who ran away with another guy. He was debt-ridden until he was taken in by a former Thunder/Rumble Hashira, who later committed suicide when one of his students became a demon.

Kanao Tsuyuri, who grew up in a poor and abusive household. She was sold into slavery by her parents and was later bought – and freed by the sisters…

Kanae and Shinobu Kocho, whose parents were devoured by a demon. They were later rescued by the Stone Hashira, and they later joined the Demon Slayer Corps, with Kanae becoming the Flower Hashira and Shinobu her successor and the Insect Hashira.  

Sanemi and Genya Shinazugawa, sons of an abusive father and a loving mother. Their mother became a demon and devoured their young brothers and sister and was later killed by Sanemi, who later became the Wind Hashira.

Demon Slayer Sound Hashira Tengen Uzui
Tengen Uzui. Image from Yahoo News

Tengen Uzui, who, prior to becoming a demon slayer and eventually the Sound Hashira, trained along with his siblings to become a ninja by their father. The siblings were forced to kill each other during their training, and he survived. 

Muichiro Tokito, the Mist Hashira who lost his mother to sickness, his father to bad weather, and his twin brother to a demon. He managed to kill the demon. 

Iguro Obanai, the Serpent Hashira, who grew up in a family that worshiped a snake demon and was raised to be devoured by her. He escaped and was rescued by a former Flame Hashira.

Demon Slayer Tamayo
Tamayo. Image from Amino Apps

Tamayo, a woman who was deceived into becoming a demon by Muzan. She killed her husband and children, plus many more people after she became a demon. 

Kyogai, who, prior to becoming a demon, desired to be recognized for his talent. He gained no appreciation for his writings and killed a man who mocked his works. As the drum demon, he was obsessed with trying to prove himself as a powerful demon. 

Rui, the creator of the Spider Family of demons. Like Tamayo, he also suffered an illness and was turned into a demon by Muzan. He later killed his parents.   

Mother Spider Demon, the ‘mother’ of the Spider Family created by the ‘youngest son’ Rui, who was the strongest member of the so-called family. She was a pre-teen girl (and in human age, the youngest in the family) before she was turned into a Mother Spider Demon by Rui. She was abused for being weak, so to free herself from the abuse and ridicule of her so-called family, she allowed herself to be chopped off by Tanjiro, who killed her mercifully. 

Daughter Spider Demon, the so-called older sister of Rui. She was a lone demon girl when Rui saved her from a group of demon slayers. Just like what he did with the Mother Spider Demon, Rui changed her physical appearance to match with his so-called family, morphing her into a Daughter Spider Demon.

Demon Slayer Upper Moon Akaza
Akaza. Image from CBR

Akaza, who, like Tamayo and Rui, was turned into a demon by Muzan when he was wandering the streets after killing the people who were responsible for the murder of his fiancée and her father – the two people who cared for him and helped him leave behind his life of juvenile crime and overcome the depression of having lost his father to suicide. 

Gyutaro and Daki (Ume) Shabana, brother and sister who grew up in the lowest class of the red light district (which is the setting for the Entertainment District Arc). They are polar opposites of Tanjiro and Nezuko Kamado: The Kamado siblings walked in the light, while the Shabana siblings, due to their circumstances, walked in the dark; Tanjiro and Nezuko’s family life was destroyed by a demon, while Gyutaro and Daki’s life were destroyed by humans; Tanjiro and Nezuko grew up in a loving family, while Gyutaro was physically abused by their mother and the siblings lost her to syphilis. With no loving adults ever to care for them, they had only each other. 

Sad background stories make me cry. They help me understand the characters’ motivation for becoming a demon or demon slayer and sympathize with them. Their backstories are as sad as that of Gray Fullbuster, Erza Scarlet, Juvia Lockser, the Strauss siblings, and Wendy Marvell in Fairy Tail and of Mikasa Ackerman in Attack on Titan.

I can’t wait to watch the backstory of Akaza, which is probably the most tragic and saddest of all backstories in Demon Slayer. One can’t help but feel sorry for what he had gone through in his (human) life after hating him in Kimetsu No Yaiba: The Movie – Mugen Train for killing the Flame Hashira Kyojuro Rengoku. I can’t wait to see how the animators will bring his tragic story to color and what music they will use. That could happen in 2023 or 2024. 

There’s much to reflect on and write about Demon Slayer. I will be sharing my thoughts and reflections on the series in the coming days, so please check out my blog.

The Best Jpop Tracks of 2021

Best Jpop songs of 2021

To check the whole best of 2021 list, please visit this link >>> The Best Hits of 2021.

Thanks God, I listened to – and loved – enough J-pop tracks to create this listicle. Thanks God, I got to publish this post. I thought I was never going to publish this, due to unforeseen circumstances at work and my personal life. But here I am, and this blog post is published.

2021 is one of the years I’m proud to be a Jpop listener. A few netizens asked for recommendations about Jpop songs. I gave them a list of tracks to listen to – and I didn’t even include AKB48 and Nogizaka46. They loved the songs I recommended. They were amazed. I was happy that they were happy listening to my recommendations. I feel fulfilled as a Jpop listener. I will never cease to recommend Jpop to anyone who asks. I will never skip such an opportunity.

The posting of this listicle may be late, but it’s never too late to appreciate the Jpop tracks I had listened to in 2021. Half of the songs in this listicle are already shoo-in for my future “best” lists, so you might want to check my blog from time to time. So, the best Jpop from 2021:

39. FAKY, “Sayonara My Ex”. I first learned about FAKY way back in 2012 but I wasn’t sold over their music. Over the years, they changed line-up, and the present reincarnation includes a Filipina member. I first learned about “Sayonara My Ex” on Reddit. I think I’m now sold over. 

38. Last Idol, “Break a leg”. The beauties of Last Idol never fail to amaze me. This time, they rock to “Break a leg,” which reminds me of the early singles of the WMatsui-era SKE48. I love the concept for this video, which brings into mind the MVs of SKE48’s “Banzai Venus” and “AKB48’s “Kokoro no Placard.”

30. Nogizaka46, “Boku wa Boku wo Suki ni Naru”. The future of Nogizaka46 lies in the beauty and talent of the 3rd generation members, such as Yamashita Mizuki (the center of this MV), Kubo Shiori, and Yoda Yuki. I love these ladies very much.

29. Nogizaka46, “Dorodarake”. If you ask me, this is the best Nogizaka46 track I’ve heard this year. This track reminds me of AKB48’s “GIVE ME FIVE !” and Nogizaka’s 2016 b-side “Kyuushamen”. Kubo Shiori on vocals and Saito Asuka on drums give this track edge and beauty. 

28. back number, “Phantom Thief”. I first heard about this track on Reddit and so far, this is the best I’ve discovered from that website. I love the concept behind the music video. I’m smitten by the beauty of Yuka Suzuki, whom I followed later on Instagram. (How I wish I’m the leading guy in the MV, and if given the chance to be with her in an alternate reality, I’d learn to drive a motorcycle.)

27. King & Prince, “Kimi wo Matteru”. I forgot how and where I discovered this track, but it was around the same time I discovered back number’s “Phantom Thief.” I’m impressed that “President Miyuki Shirogane” knows how to sing and dance. Surely, “Vice President Kaguya Shinomiya” gets hearty eyes watching him. 

26. WASUTA, “Yomibitoshirazu no Love song”. Someone posted the link to the MV on the closed FB group I’m part of, along with the story about the graduation of one of the members. I’m not much into WASUTA, though I’ve heard enough of them on Spotify. But so far, this is the best track I’ve heard, and it gives off Nogizaka46 graduation song-like vibes. Well, this track is something Nogizaka46 would sing. Too bad, I didn’t give WASUTA even a little of my love. I’ll always listen to this song – with love.  

25. LiSA x Uru, “Saikai”. I found this track while browsing YouTube. This song always sends chills down my spine everytime I listen to it. 

12. LiSA, “Homura”. This is probably the most emotional and heart-stirring anime/Jpop song I’ve ever heard. Emotionally powerfully, emotionally charged! A powerful song of resolve only artists such as LiSA could perform.

8. NMB48, “Muchujin”. This is probably 48G’s best single since last year’s NGT48’s “Sherbet Pink”. For next year, I will be stanning Shibuya Nagisa, the center of the track. I look forward to her leading the group after the departure of Shiroma Miru. 

Again, to all readers who have been waiting for my listicles of the best songs of 2021, please forgive me for my late postings. And thank you very much for being with me in my journey for great music throughout 2021. See you this December 2022.

The Best Hits of 2021

The best songs of the Covid-19 pandemic era

For the Jpop list, please visit this link >>> The Best Jpop Tracks of 2021.

Better late than never! I thought I was never gonna post my year-end music listicle. Due to circumstances (personal + work) beyond my control, I was unable to post this blog on time. But here I am, and this listicle is posted. I believe this post is still fresh into the new year.

Fresh forever and memorable (some of) the songs in this listicle are in my music consciousness. Pop, rock, Jpop, Kpop, Cpop, and OPM are well represented in this listicle. A number of songs will be included in my ‘best songs of all times’ list/s in the near future. I present the best tracks of 2021:

45. Ava Max, “Kings & Queens”. One of the songs by a modern artist that I’d bother listening to on Spotify. A fighter of a track, and the MV has a great concept, which is also one of the best music videos I’ve seen this year. By the way, Ava Max looks attractive. Hmm… 

44. Red Velvet, “Dumb Dumb”. I didn’t complete the Kdrama series Descendants of the Sun in 2018, so I miss the special appearance of the female Kpop group Red Velvet on episode 16. I only knew about the group’s appearance – and the track – while browsing the Kdrama series The Beauty Inside on YouTube. This is a catchy Kpop dance track. 

43. TWICE, “I CAN’T STOP ME”. A Kpop-loving workmate played this track one Friday morning during the break. I was immediately blown away by the beauty of the group. Of course, the song is great, it somewhat gives off a mature pop vibe; and the visuals of the MV is stunning. One of the few Kpop tracks I have on my Spotify playlist. 

42. BEAST, “Shock”. Another contribution to the 2021 best list by the Kpop-loving workmate, who happens to be well-versed about classic Kpop acts. This dance-pop track exudes a classic Kpop vibe. Less fancy than today’s Kpop. 

41. BLACKPINK, “As If It’s Your Last”. I swear I heard this track only just this year. I’ve heard “Boombayah,” “How You Like That,” “Ddu-du Ddu-du,” and “Kill This Love,” but “As If It’s Your Last” is probably the best I’ve heard. This is also a contribution from my Kpop-loving workmate. 

40. Stephy Yiwen & Koay, “123 Wo ai ni“. This pop-R&B track by a Malaysian-Chinese duo came on autoplay after Silence Wang and By2’s MV for “You Dian Tian” on YouTube. Well, I like the song because I was attracted to the beauty of Stephy Yiwen, who is an influencer with a huge following on Instagram.

39. FAKY, “Sayonara My Ex”. 

38. Last Idol, “Break a leg”. 

37. Concerned Artists of the Philippines, “Magliliyab”. I first heard this track on Reddit, which has become one of my most favorite websites this year. The title means “ignite” in English. The song is a response to the Duterte administration’s “attacks against the civil, political, economic, and sovereign rights of the Filipino people” in 2018. 

36. Fahrenheit, “Love You Lots”. Taiwan is indeed home to upbeat Chinese pop. The boyband reminds me of F4 from my yesteryears. 

35. Sandi Thom, “I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair)”. This is probably one of the best tracks, if not the best track, I’ve ever heard from Spotify’s Discover Weekly. Considering that this folk pop song is a UK track (the artist is Scottish), this is the best UK track I’ve ever heard since Take That’s “Kidz,” which I first heard in 2011. The MV also has a concept similar to the English rock band The Verve’s “Bitter Sweet Symphony” MV, which I first saw in the summer of 2006. 

34. Boys Like Girls, “She’s Got A Boyfriend Now”. I first heard this song during the Valentine’s Day period. The album in which the track appears, “Love Drunk” was released in 2009, a year after my graduation from college. “She’s Got A Boyfriend Now” is something I would jam in my senior year.  

33. Bonnie Tyler, “If You Were a Woman (and I Was a Man)”. This is Cracked.com’s first-ever contribution to my music life. Indeed, I only learned about this track through a pictograph. Having learned the background story behind the composition of this pop rock classic and how it inspired a glam metal classic (“You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi), I conclude that only a great song will bring forth another great song. 

32. Joyce Chu, “I MiSS U”. This track by a pretty Malaysian-Chinese lady with ukulele also came on autoplay after Silence Wang and By2’s MV for “You Dian Tian” on YouTube. I’m sold on her talent… and her beauty.

31. Candy, “I Wanna Be With You”. This Indonesian pop track was released in 2008, probably the worst year and one of the most memorable years in my life. I had no access to the internet at that time, so I didn’t know this Indonesian pop trio existed. No wonder I like this track: pure pop candy! I also found this track on Spotify. 

30. Nogizaka46, “Boku wa Boku wo Suki ni Naru”. 

29. Nogizaka46, “Dorodarake”. 

28. back number, “Phantom Thief”. 

27. King & Prince, “Kimi wo Matteru”. 

26. WASUTA, “Yomibitoshirazu no Love song”. 

25. LiSA x Uru, “Saikai”. 

24. Samantha Mumba, “Gotta Tell You”. I first heard about Samantha Mumba by name sometime in 2002 but only got to hear her only this year on Spotify Discover Weekly. I could see her as the black Britney Spears or pop Beyonce. This track takes me back to the glorious years of pop, especially the teen pop subgenre. 

23. Samantha Mumba, “Always Come Back To Your Love”. I first heard this song at work, when one of the managers played her Spotify playlist aloud for her subordinates to hear. Fortunately, I could hear the playlist or if not, I would have never appreciated “Always Come Back To Your Love”. This track has a similar vibe to “Gotta Tell You” and is an equally edgy pop track. How come I also missed this in the early 2000s? What was I doing then? 

22. Emilia, “Kiss By Kiss”. I first heard Emilia’s “Big Big World” in 2002 but not “Kiss By Kiss”. I think I have the lyrics to the latter in one of my song magazines. I could feel a certain warmth from the song, which I first heard this year on Spotify Discover Weekly. Like many classic pop songs that come new to me, it gives off an air of nostalgia. 

21. Peter Cetera, Crystal Bernard, “I Wanna Take Forever Tonight”. On Valentine’s Day eve, some workmates played this track, alongside the classics by legends, such as Jim Brickman and James Ingram. I wasted no time adding this song to my Spotify playlist, as it’s one of the most powerful duets I’ve ever heard.

20. Lollipop, “Batte Forte”. One of my finds from Spotify’s Discover Weekly and from the yesteryears too. 

19. Weeekly, “After School”. Another contribution from my Kpop-loving colleague. The beauty of the members remind me of another Kpop girl group Momoland, which I first heard in 2017. The MV is as fun and colorful as Momoland’s MVs. 

18. Sarah Geronimo feat. Howie Dorough, “I‘ll Be There“. After listening to this track many times, I came to think that I had heard news about the collaboration between Sarah G. and the Howie of the Backstreet Boys sometime in 2008. Sarah G. must be already big-time then. But how come I didn’t hear this track on FM radio? How come people are not singing it? 

17. Bosson, “Efharisto”. Also another find from Spotify’s Discover Weekly. I first heard about Bosson in 2001 and 2002. Released in 2003, this mature pop track gives off a vibe similar to that of his 2001 track “One In A Million” but lacking the soul of “Over the Mountains”. 

16. Delta Goodrem, “I Don’t Care”. A casual browsing of former Westlife member Brian McFadden’s Wikipedia led me to Delta Goodrem. I have heard of her since 2003/4 but I never listened to her until January 2021. This track reminds me of late 1990s and early 2000s pop.

15. Dumpling Soda, “Foodie“. This song also came on autoplay after the “You Dian Tian” MV on YouTube. This is now one of my most favorite Chinese pop tracks. I like the track also because the artist is pretty. 

14. Powerwolf, “Armata Strigoi”. I discovered this track around the same time I started listening to Sabaton. I find it amazing that the German band uses “dark themes and images of Roman Catholicism, werewolves and vampires” and incorporates them into their music and performances. 

13. Michael Wong, “Tong Hua”. This song also came on autoplay after the “You Dian Tian” MV on YouTube, and is probably the best C-pop track I’ve heard since F4’s “Can’t Lose You” and “Meteor Rain” in 2003. The title of the song is “Fairy Tail” in English. The song and its accompanying MV break my heart. 

12. LiSA, “Homura”. 

11. Gregorian, “My Immortal”. While listening to some Spotify playlists (of songs from the years between 2000-2004), the band Gregorian came into my mind – and memory. FM stations in the Philippines don’t play Gregorian tracks, and I heard about them only through a few schoolmates (who happened to have diverse tastes in music) and newspapers. I think I had heard their version of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” during my high school and college years. I have lived long enough to enjoy their version of one of my most favorite rock tracks. Gratias Deo!

10. Ben&Ben x Munimuni, “Sugat”. This is the most emotionally painful and heart-wrenching OPM song I’ve ever heard since Kawago’s “Kailanman” in 2002. I could never forget the ‘crisis’ I was experiencing when I heard this song just when it was released. The indie track, which title means “wound” in English, speaks of moving forward from emotional pain and personal tragedy and encourages the listeners to start anew in life so they could attain a new beginning and freedom.  

9. Madonna, “Like a Prayer”. The Kpop-loving workmate played a YouTube playlist of classic hits, which include “Like a Prayer.” I love the use of symbolism and religious imagery in the music video, which is now one of the best MVs I’ve seen in my life. 

8. NMB48, “Muchujin”. 

7. Ebe Dancel, “Hanggang Wala Nang Bukas”. I was overwhelmed with patriotic fervor during the Independence Day period after watching the movies Heneral Luna (2015) and Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral (2018). Since 1998, I feel bad the Filipino nationalists lost the war against the Americans in between 1899 and 1902. In my opinion, they lost not due to the lack of weapons and political infighting but due to their lack of proactiveness and failure to maximize their several advantages. 

6. Powerwolf, “Army of the Night”. The MV is loaded with religious imagery, which only helps to add more power to the track. And playing power metal in church liturgy? That’s worship for me. 

5. Rouge, “Beijo Molhado“. This is the Brazilian/girl group version of the 2001 teen pop-bubblegum dance song “Strawberry Kisses” by Aussie singer Nikki Webster. Wikipedia led me to his version. 

4. Sandy & Junior, “Love Never Fails“. I came upon this classic pop song on YouTube while watching the “Strawberry Kissing” MV. This version by the Brazilian brother-sister pop duo is a cover of the original by American singer-songwriter Kathie Lee Gifford. I first heard about Sandy & Junior through one of the music magazines I own. (They’re even on one of the covers.) How come I didn’t hear this song in 2002? What was I doing then? 

3. Nikki Webster, “Strawberry Kisses“. The 2001 teen pop-bubblegum dance song track that led me to find two other tracks in this year-ender best list. I first heard about this song when one of the managers at work played her Spotify playlist of classic hits during lunch time. The chorus caught my ears, so I asked for the song. The rest is now a part of music history of my life. 

2. Sabaton, “Winged Hussars”. Historical heavy metal – that’s what I describe the tracks of the Swedish band Sabaton. Most of their tracks revolve around war history. (Make sure to read their Wikipedia page for more information.) I like the history topic surrounding “Winged Hussars” and how I wish I fought alongside the brave Polish warriors who fought to protect Vienna, Austria and the whole of Europe from Ottoman occupation. It reminds me of the victory of the Greeks over the Persians and of the Holy League over the Ottomans at Lepanto. 

1. Sabaton, “The Last Stand”. I forget where I first learned about the heroic Stand of the Swiss Guard during the 1527 Sack of Rome. But a comment led me to Sabaton’s “The Last Stand,” which immortalizes the Swiss Guards that perished while protecting the reigning pope from the disgruntled troops of the reigning Holy Roman emperor. The mutinous Habsburg soldiers, mostly Germans, decided to vent their frustrations over unpaid wages on “the heart of the Holy See”, “the home of Christianity.” So they teamed up with Spanish soldiers and Italian mercenaries to sack and loot Rome. It could have been an easy pillage and plunder, given their number (20,000 above). However, they were greeted by 5,000 militiamen and 189 Swiss Guards, all of whom put up a fight. Of the 189 Swiss Guards, around 40 or so escorted the pope to safety while the rest held their ground in the Vatican – and died doing so. It was a pyrrhic victory for the imperial marauders – and forever glory and admiration for the Swiss Guards. 

Thank you very much, dear readers, for reading and listening to the tracks that made up my 2021. Check out my blog every now and then for music posts and other topics that might interest you. May you have a wonderful and prosperous 2022.

Apollo Quiboloy, a sex trafficker?

Apollo Quiboloy  can't stop the FBI from charging him with sex trafficking.

I am right to call Apollo Quiboloy – the founder of the Davao City-based cult (or maybe criminal organization or child sex ring) the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name, Inc. – a fraudster, a scammer, a trickster, and a con man. I might also call him a pedophile and a sex trafficker.

According to reports by various media outlets, U.S. federal investigators have charged Quiboloy – Duterte’s spiritual advisor and one of his closest friends and supporters – and other church officials “in connection with a massive sex trafficking operation, alleging he coerced girls and young women to have sex with him under threats of ‘eternal damnation’” and physical and verbal abuse. 

In some other words, Apollo Quiboloy and his co-defendants are charred “with participating in a massive conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force or fraud as well as in the sex trafficking of children.”

Matthew Moon, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office, said that Apollo Quiboloy “and two top administrators were charged for orchestrating a sex trafficking operation that recruited and coerced girls as young as 12 years old.”

A total of five women were trafficked ― and that three of them were minors, said Moon. 

The federal authorities also alleged Quiboloy’s church (which is no church at all) forced young members to work long hours in the hot streets soliciting donations for a bogus charity.

“The funds were actually used to fund church operations and the very lavish lifestyles of its leaders,” Moon said.

The federal authorities said that women and girls, who ranged in age from 12 to 25, work as personal assistants (or “pastorals”) to Apollo Quiboloy. They prepared his meals, cleaned his residences, gave him massages, and were required to have sex with Quiboloy in what the pastorals called “night duty”. 

The “pastorals” was coerced into performing ‘night duty’ ― that is, sex ― with Apollo Quiboloy under the threat of physical and verbal abuse and eternal damnation and physical and verbal abuse. 

Apollo Quiboloy has multiple violations of U.S. federal laws.

I wonder how Quiboloy and his minions at the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name (which is not just a cult but also a criminal organization and sex trafficking ring) could sleep nowadays. I wonder what Quiboloy is praying about or if he is praying, now that he has added sex trafficking and child sex trafficking to his other cases, which include money laundering, bulk cash smuggling, marriage and visa fraud, and other violations of federal laws. I wonder how he is feeling, now that the federal authorities are seeking to confiscate his U.S. assets, which, the FBI said, are “ill-gotten.”

“We seek to recover typically all ill-gotten gains from the crimes committed,” FBI spokesperson for Los Angeles Laura Eimiller told the Philippine broadsheet Inquirer. 

Will bestie Duterte help him? Will Bato dela Rosa help him? Will Bong Go help him? Will the Duterte diehard supporters (DDS) help the spiritual advisor of their idol? 

One thing is for sure, God will not help Apollo Quiboloy. The angels will not even come down to help him. Jesus Christ won’t even help him. If it’s true that he’s directly involved in sex trafficking andf child sex trafficking, Quiboloy has lost his mind; he’s so lost that even Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David will not help him. 

To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t care if Quiboloy had sex with prostitutes as long as he paid them well and didn’t give them venereal diseases. But it’s another matter if he coerced people into sleeping with him and threatening them with ‘eternal damnation’ and abuse. And it’s also another matter – an evil matter – if he coerced minors into sleeping with him. (I remember having read about religious leaders who allegedly coerced the wives or girlfriends of their male followers into sleeping with them – actions that are equally abhorrent as coercing minors into sexual submission. I believe even Hitler or Mussolini will never do that. 

If the charges against Apollo Quiboloy for sex trafficking and child sex trafficking are true, that he is no different from the evil Catholic priests and nuns who abused children; Muslim fundamentalists that kidnapped, raped, and forced non-Muslims females to convert; and mainline and evangelical Protestant pastors/ministers that abused children or carried out extramarital affairs.

Apollo Quiboloy could be the appointed sex trafficker of Satan.

What Apollo Quiboloy is

Again, I say that Apollo Quiboloy of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name, Inc. (which is not a church) is a fraudster, a scammer, a trickster, and a con man. He is no appointed son of God. He cannot stop COVID-19 from mutating into different variants. He can’t stop the Taliban from retaking Afghanistan. He can’t stop the violence between Israelis and Palestinians. He can’t stop crime and socioeconomic inequality. He can’t even stop Filipino politicians from being incomptetenmmt at their jobs. 

Apollo Quiboloy claims to have power over the forces of nature but in reality, that’s bullshit. He can’t stop the extinction of certain plant and animal species. He can’t stop pest infestation. He can’t stop drought or forest fires. He can’t stop the water crisis. He can’t stop global warming. He can’t even stop the floods in Davao region. 

If his claim as the appointed son of God is true, then Apollo Quiboloy should stop COVID-19, AIDS, ebola virus disease, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, foot and mouth disease, and even mental illness. But no. He can’t. He can’t even raise the dead.

Apollo Quiboloy is a quack, a charlatan. He is a false prophet. 

Apollo Quiboloy of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name gives religion a bad name. 

Apollo Quiboloy of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name gives (Philippine) Christianity a bad rap. 

Apollo Quiboloy of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name makes a scam out of religion. 

Apollo Quiboloy is never and will never be the appointed son of God. Appointed sex trafficker of Satan, maybe.

Suggested readings:

So-Called ‘Appointed Son Of God’ Apollo Quiboloy, Leader Of Philippines-Based Megachurch Kingdom Of Jesus Christ, Indicted For Sex Trafficking

Federal Grand Jury Issues New Indictment Against Leaders of Philippines-Based Church that Alleges Sex Trafficking Scheme

Philippine church leader who threatened women with ‘eternal damnation’ charged with sex trafficking

US authorities eye seizure of Apollo Quiboloy’s assets

US announces sex trafficking charges vs Apollo Quiboloy

Quiboloy warns of ‘much worse than Omicron virus’ if his ‘persecution’ is not stopped

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