I was at Coast Anabelle Hotel last Saturday in Burbank to witness the 80th surprise birthday party celebration of a family friend to which I affably rendered a number of songs. The highlight of the night is an impromptu jam of a classic Filipino love song “Dahil Sa Iyo” (Because Of You) upon the request of the celebrant’s daughter who also happens to be the manager of the hotel.
Not wanting to disappoint, I took out my smart phone and readily ‘googled and youtubed’ the Kundiman to see if I can perhaps fulfill her wish. During my search I was surprised to find out that there are cover versions by Julio Iglesias and The Lettermen including a short English adaptation.
After a couple of listen and trying it out on a classical guitar I brought along to figure out the best key to suit my voice, I took the stage and sang it with the celebrant’s son. It’s nothing perfect, but I was able to do something new, and that’s what counts. Besides, it is such a beautiful song that youngsters nowadays should be familiar with and be proud of.
But this blog is not about that. As the title suggests, I would like to share, in the shortest way possible my memorable first week in Los Angeles. It’s been almost a month since I arrived in LAX on October 26 with Rowena, my sister-in-law, and my one year old baby nephew Timothy. I flew with a hangover coming from a Beatles Night gig the night before where I got plastered with whiskey, neck hurting from too much head banging.
The flight was also the beginning of my hands on experience in looking after a baby. The joys and pains and everything in between. I realized how much dedication Filipino parents living in US have to put up with to personally take care of their own kids since hiring a nanny can be very expensive. I admire my brother Marvin and his wife for the immeasurable love and care they give to their two kids. It’s like almost all of their time (except for work) are completely reserved to Timothy. So from time to time I try to take turns for them to rest or do other important things inside and outside their home. I also walk my 10-year-old Nephew Nivram to school every morning and pick him up shortly after lunch since his father, a SPED teacher in LAUSD, has to go an hour earlier to his school and comes home late in the afternoon.
Being a musician and a recording artist, the opportunity to gig is everywhere. Filipino communities abound and there are some gigging places and Filipino owned restaurants in the area especially in Cerritos. The day after I arrived in LAX, still tired and jetlagged, I played my first solo gig at HIWA Fusion Bar for a pre-halloween event. It’s funny cause the last gig I did in Los Angeles in 2007 was on that same venue when it was previously known as O Bar. I didn’t bring my own guitar so I have to borrow my brother’s. A choice between a cheap steel acoustic-electric with high action and a Galvador Ibanez thinline classical acoustic-electric. I used the former at Hiwa Bar but later on shifted to the classical guitar in gigs thereafter. That night I met some old friends and schoolmates.
In my first week I was able to play four gigs. The next two were a private gig in Greenhills Mortuary & Chapel and in a residential home in Torrance beside a swimming pool. Friday and Saturday respectively, for a friend of a friend’s untimely death. The family requested that I play and sing the Death Cab For Cutie song “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” while they all sing along at the chapel to pay their respect. It was a heartrending sight.
If there’s no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I’ll follow you into the dark
My week culminated with a Sunday gig at Josephine’s Bistro & Bar, another Filipino restaurant in Cerritos. Played in between the sets of metal and alternative rock bands. I met a nice couple who invited me to sing at their engagement party on December, to which I readily said yes.
It was pretty much an eventful time for me. Aside from gigs, I also experienced real Trick or Treating with kids, walking the streets of a private subdivision in The Summit looking out for front doors with Halloween decorations (which indicates they welcome kids to knock on their doors for treats).
I also visited some shopping and grocery places like Vons, Ross, Target, and Best Buy. I got a copy of Rolling Stones collectors edition featuring John Lennon: The Ultimate Guide to His Life, Music & Legend, a new wi-fi Samsung camera so I can start taking photos of my upcoming adventures, and some clothing and a bottle of whiskey for the cold weather. Since roaming charges are totally expensive, I located a stall in Eagle Rock Plaza that sells different kinds of pre-paid (no contract) sims. I chose a Simple Mobile sim card that can be loaded monthly for $40 and it comes with unlimited text and calls including unlimited data. Not bad at all. The internet was fast and has a wide coverage and I can text to any Philippine number for free!
Well, that’s it for now. On my next posts I will write about my long weekend with a friend from Canada as we visited Huntington Beach, played a gig Downtown, and toured Capitol Records, The Getty Center and Joshua Tree National Park. :)