This post was originally written on August 25, 2012. However, it was not published as intended due to ongoing issues at the time. This entry has been published in its original form (with some minor revisions for accuracy) to celebrate the fist anniversary of the first-ever Smashing Pumpkins concert held at the SMART Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines. Enjoy, cheers!

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Much has happened since my last entry that I am waiting to peel off on. Sadly, the severe writing block that has hampered my usual output of opinionated and oddly passionate prose has continued to plague me and I have struggled to get back on track to revive my dormant writing bug. But me being me, I have no plans to stay down forever.

The rainy season is in full swing, and although the sun has been more visible than usual, this was not the case just two weeks ago. Despite Typhoon Haikui missing the country entirely making landfall in eastern China, it intensified the seasonal East Asian (southwest) monsoon which brought heavily-laden rain clouds to much of Metro Manila, Central and Southern Luzon. Rain began falling nearly non-stop from August 6-8, which caused severe flooding in the affected areas and brought back traumatic memories of Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy) record-breaking deluge over the same regions three years earlier. Life in much of the country’s largest metropolitan area slowed to a crawl as water began to drown property and lives. The rains had gotten so bad that the national and local government units cancelled classes in most schools and work for government and private businesses.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of the business process outsourcing (BPO) or call-center industry having clients and customers from other regions of the world, these companies requested for an exemption to allow daily operations to continue as normal. The government then countered that they would grant the exceptions, only if the safety of their employees could be guaranteed and that they be given just compensation for their effort to report to work under the said circumstances.

Although I was working for one of these companies, by a fortunate stroke of luck I had filed leave on one of the days the deluge peaked followed by my usual two days of rest. So while I had the fortune of being stuck in the safety of home, many others ended up camping out at the office unable to head home. Worse still for others, their own homes became a trap with the rising floodwater surrounding them. So each day, I found myself glued to the television and Internet for updates on the ongoing disaster, while keeping in touch with some of my closest contacts on their respective situations. While nine casualties were confirmed, it was a far cry from the 464 left dead in Ondoy’s wake and thankfully, no one I knew was among the victims.

So how was it I was able to sit out the worst of the storm in the safety of my home? This actually began several weeks before, when The Smashing Pumpkins announced their first-ever live performance in the Philippines, to be held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on August 7. Although I had known of the Smashing Pumpkins since their rise to stardom in the 1990s, I only started seriously following their music once I had my iPod (Vesper) and got the chance to listen to their greatest hits. After missing chances to watch bands such as Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, and Vertical Horizon among others perform here live, I made up my mind not to miss seeing and hearing this great band in the flesh.

So about two weeks earlier, I managed to get my ticket and filed my leave to be able to attend the said event. While we were several people who planned to attend the event, unforeseen circumstances eventually whittled the group down to me and my teammate Morris.

And then, the rains came threatening to force a cancellation of the concert. After receiving reports about the severity of the weather, the band’s lead vocalist Billy Corgan announced on Twitter that the concert would be moved to the following day, August 8, to allow weather conditions to improve and give more fans a chance to attend. My first reaction was that of approval and relief, as it was a huge gesture for the band to have to adjust their schedule for those who planned to attend.

Morris and I met up at the Araneta Coliseum, where we quickly proceeded to find our seats. As misfortune would have it, I forgot to bring enough cash to buy band shirts and the standing policy was that we could not leave the venue and come back later. On the bright side, my teammate tipped me off about the venue being much more lenient with bringing in cameras, so I borrowed my sister’s high-quality digital camera for the event. I also ended up meeting one of my former officemates and one of my current bosses at the venue, which was a testament to the continued popularity of the band.

Despite the inclement weather that left many areas of Metro Manila flooded, the band known as The Smashing Pumpkins put on a spectacular show in their first live appearance in the Philippines. Yes, the high has not yet fully worn off.

When the concert began, people went wild seeing the Smashing Pumpkins live for the first time and gazed in awe at the ball-shaped projection screen showing images related to the songs. The band started off by running through the entire Oceania album, which was their latest release under their massive Teargarden by Kaleidyscope project. While many fans were appreciative of the sound of the new album and gave applause after each song, a greater number expressed their interest in hearing their earlier hits as shown by chanting “More! More!” during the brief intermission. Those present would not be disappointed, as classics such as “Tonight, Tonight”, “1979”, “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”, “Luna”, “X.Y.U.” and many more. All in all, they performed a total of 29 songs, far longer than any setlist in their earlier stops. And toward the end of the concert, fans even had the chance to get the drumsticks and guitar picks used at the concert. All throughout the event, Billy Corgan and the band continually thanked those who made it to the event and promised a return in the future for those who weren’t able to make it (an apparent reference to the large number of tickets sold despite the somewhat lower-than-expected turnout, which in turn was caused by the heavy rains).

The following day, the band shared their gratitude on Twitter for the strong turnout despite the inclement weather, again expressing their intent to hold another concert here in the future. And as of this post, the high I experienced hearing and seeing one of my favorite alternative rock bands perform has not yet fully subsided and I consider the event a highlight of the year.

The floods have mostly subsided in the affected areas, but we are only headed towards the peak of the rainy season with two tropical cyclones slamming into northern Luzon since the concert. And while the recovery (and much of normal life) continues, the Smashing Pumpkins’ own turbulent history and continued success are reminders of the ups and downs that remain constants in our lives like the storms that ravage the country annually. But as with Ondoy three years ago, it is with typical Filipino humor and tenacity that we weather it and become stronger afterward.

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My elder sister Mitzi has always had a soft spot for animals. So much so, in fact, that she has switched to a pesco-vegetarian diet in support of animal rights. In short, she gave up eating all meat in her diet except for seafood such as fish and shellfish. And as I mentioned before, we rescued a Chihuahua and a turtle from their difficult situations.

Right before the torrential rains, my elder sister Mitzi started to take a more proactive stance towards helping animals when she rescued a native dog named Chessie who had been the victim of a hit-and-run near our home. She was brought to PAWS (Philippine Animal Welfare Society) and assessed to have serious leg injuries. Rather than putting the dog “to sleep”, she decided to care for Chessie until she was well enough to undergo an operation on her leg. As of this writing, we are awaiting further word on Chessie’s condition after her recent operation.

Since then, we have provided foster care for another dog (Matty, a Labrador-native mix) and several cats (Muning and her daughter Andy, as well as another kitten named Kitteh) and we are currently offering them for adoption. If you are interested in adopting any of these wonderful animals or would like to know more about them, please send me a message on my Facebook account or post a comment here.