Checking in with Ely Buendia, Sandwich, SB19, Reese Lansangan, Typecast, and more after one year in lockdown

Checking in with Ely Buendia, Sandwich, SB19, Reese Lansangan, Typecast, and more after one year in lockdown

This is it: Season 2 of Lockdown is upon us.

While it might be fun to binge-watch a TV series about an entire civilization getting trapped indoors thanks to a deadly virus, living in it isn't exactly the best thing. Frankly, it sucks.

Over the past year, we looked for ways to keep ourselves distracted. We baked sourdough bread and pandesal, whipped up dalgona coffee, streamed concerts online, subscribed to Zoom Pro (because let's face it, we all have to work from home now), and practically vamped up our wardrobes with a section for face masks. It was an entire lifestyle change for everyone and by the looks of it, we better get used to it.

It's been a tough year for everyone, so let's see how some of our favorite Filipino artists have been doing.


BARBIE ALMALBIS

Happy one year in lockdown (eew)! How have you been these days? What have you been up to lately?

Haha! Yes, it’s been a year of just staying home, and I’ve somehow embraced the slower pace of life, trying to do at least one special thing everyday so the days don’t all feel the same. I’ve gone from learning to sew and bake, to fixing broken things around the house and re-grouting tiles.

Still doing a lot of music at home, writing and recording an album, working with my band online, doing virtual gigs, as well as jamming together with family.  

Do you still remember where your head was and how you felt when the pandemic started and lockdown happened?

At the beginning of the pandemic, apart from the initial survival concerns, and finding ways to connect with and help those around us, my other instinct was to not lose momentum.

I didn’t want to waste my days simply because I had no set schedule, so I tried to cope by being hyper-productive. I continued practicing, working on songs, and doing online gigs.

After a while, I began to ease in to the slower rhythm of life, to rest. It reminded me of life in Culasi, Roxas City where I grew up, before cable TV and the internet. There weren’t many distractions, I just had my guitar.  

Do you feel you're in a completely different headspace now compared to last year?

For sure! It’s been an extraordinarily challenging year for many of us. My husband got a severe case of COVID-19 last January, and we’ve had family and friends getting sick or losing a loved one. It’s really made me re-evaluate how I spend my time and resources, and reconsider the things I value.

It’s been a year of deepening in faith as well, as through the many uncertainties, my daily time with God and with our church community (meeting virtually), has been a big help in encouraging me through times of anxiety, and inspiring me to also find ways to reach out to others.  More than ever, God has been a source of security and hope. 

Were you able to pick up new skills or hobbies or revisit and revive old ones?

Baking was the first thing I wanted to learn, it was more of a necessary survival skill at the very first news of a lockdown because I had no idea what the food situation was going to be like.

After decades of being a night owl, I now wake up early in the morning and try to do some exercises like skateboarding, basketball, and swimming. Also, like many musicians, I had to google some newbie video production skills to do online streaming gigs. 

What are your plans and hopes and dreams for 2021?

I do pray that this will be over very soon and we can all go out safely. I miss my band, and I miss playing and listening to live music. I hope all the students survive and even thrive in Zoom school. Let’s keep working together, let’s keep praying, doing our part, and encouraging each other!


DIEGO CASTILLO

Sandwich

Happy one year in lockdown (eew)! How have you been these days?

I've been okay given the crazy circumstances over the last 365+ days.

I won't lie though, it was tough throughout the lockdown and all of last year as I'm sure is true for everyone. But my wife and I found out we were having our first child a few weeks before the full blown pandemic and not being able to have the support of family and friends, at least physically, was really hard.

Add to the fact that we had a very difficult first few trimesters and had no access to our doctors at the start, then you kinda get the idea of how scary and difficult it was. 

What have I been up to lately?

Funny you guys should ask! Hahaha, basically I've been learning the ropes of being a first time Dad to my wife Nikki and I's firstborn baby named Elvis.

I'm sure all Dads and Moms know that raising a child is a 24/7 day operation. Hahaha. So we're lucky if we do get to do anything that isn't Elvis-related. On the creative side, I'm getting a little podcast ready with Fil-Am and Stones Throw recording artist Vex Ruffin. We've done a few episodes but haven't posted any yet.

Do you still remember where your head was and how you felt when the pandemic started and lockdown happened?

I don't think I'll ever forget the feeling of anxiety, fear, and dredd when the pandemic started in earnest. I mean, as early as January I think we were all aware of COVID and what danger it could pose for us. But obviously, nobody could've seen what was about to come and therefore none of us was really prepared for what came next.

Again, the worst part for us as we were expecting a baby in the midst of this shit storm. I remember lining up two hours to get in and four hours to check out at the grocery just to buy the most basic supplies! My wife and I live alone in an apartment and with the lockdown in place, we were cut off from everyone just like everyone else.

I would like to give a shout out to our neighborhood Korean grocery who not only defied the lockdown by remaining open, but for supplying us beer as well!

Do you feel you're in a completely different headspace now compared to last year?

Headspace? Yeah, for sure. But it isn't entirely because of the pandemic and lockdown only, being a father forces you to look at things differently, headspace included. I guess I also don't sweat the little things too much as of late and I definitely value a lot more things I may have stupidly taken for granted before the pandemic.  

Were you able to pick up new skills or hobbies or revisit and revive old ones?

Hmmm.... Unfortunately, I didn't get to pick up any new hobbies but I did get to read much more, cook a lot, and learn a shitload of stuff via YouTube during the lockdown! Haha.

I also got to revisit a lot of my old LPs. As weird as it sounds, I think I became a better DJ seeing that in the early part of the lockdown I was doing vinyl sets from home via Facebook Live.

I spun a lot of records at home for my wife and I and in the process got a better understanding of how to create and approach live sets better.

What did you learn about yourself—physically, emotionally, spiritually—in the past year?

The biggest takeaways I had are oddly enough the clique ones. Which in reality are in fact very sage like and true. "No man is an Island" is one.  You quickly realize that everyone needs a support system in order to not only live, but to be happy. Hell! Chris McCandless already taught us this and his isolation was through his own volition! That is why all the messages and calls from the band, friends and family were instrumental for us.

Also that "It takes a village to raise a child", which in the beginning my wife and I didn't have because of the lockdown. As I already mentioned, it was really tough going through the birthing process away from a support system. But with that said, I did discover how much one has when you really dig deep both physically and emotionally.

But maybe the biggest was spiritually. Anyone who knows me, knows I am the last person to talk about this, but unfortunately for my wife and I, the isolation wasn't going to be the biggest hurdle we would face during the lockdown.

It wasn't giving birth in the time of COVID without your folks or friends, it wasn't even the 34-hours of labor she had to endure or even the fever the followed or the emergency C-section after our baby's umbilical cord had wrapped around both his neck and feet. No. It happened after he was born when because of some unseen circumstances, we nearly lost him. In fact we did, for a short period.

I don't want to get into the details, but it's fair to say that our little boy Elvis is a miracle baby. I know without a doubt that prayer had a lot to do with him coming back to us. He still had to go through so much and stayed 14 days at the NICU before we were finally out of the woods. But despite it all, I did feel like he was being looked after. I really can't explain it, but needless to say I'm much more spiritual these days.

How are you keeping yourself sane through all this madness?

I just remember how lucky I am to have my family with me. Also, music is omnipresent in our household and in our lives, and it never fails to play whatever part it needs to be playing for our sanity. Keeping us happy, sane, transport us to places and keeps us dancing too.

What are your plans and hopes and dreams for 2021?

I just wish that this shit storm would be over and done with already. But seriously, I hope everyone takes all the necessary precautions and maybe a bit of restraint when thinking of going out, (I'm guilty of this too) when it looks like this pandemic isn't going away without a fight.

On a personal note, I just want to see my kid grow up safe, sound and happy.

My dream would be to finally be able to play with Sandwich and The Diegos live again. There's a shitload of people I'm sure who can't wait to blow off some steam with all that pent up frustration and energy and I'm more than happy and honored to answer the call! You all take care, be strong and keep safe!


ELY BUENDIA

Happy one year in lockdown (eew)! How have you been these days? What have you been up to lately?

I’ve been busy with Offshore, making music, catching up on my reading.

Do you still remember where your head was and how you felt when the pandemic started and lockdown happened?

It was mainly disbelief that I would ever see such an event in my lifetime, but also relief that I didn’t have to be forced to go out of the house.

Do you feel you're in a completely different headspace now compared to last year?

I’m certainly more hopeful.

Were you able to pick up new skills or hobbies or revisit and revive old ones?

I think I improved my guitar playing.

What did you learn about yourself—physically, emotionally, spiritually—in the past year?

Health really is wealth.

How are you keeping yourself sane through all this madness?

Keeping myself busy.

What are your plans and hopes and dreams for 2021?

That the country learns from all this.


ENA MORI

Happy one year in lockdown (eew)! How have you been these days? What have you been up to lately?

It's challenging because I haven't seen my friends and my fans for a long time, but I am trying to find my own space and inspiration. Giving myself a chance to grow in isolation. 

Do you still remember where your head was and how you felt when the pandemic started and lockdown happened?

I remember being very anxious about everything around me. Not saying that I am not scared at all anymore, but I clearly remember getting frustrated not being able to rehearse! On the other hand, I didn't expect the pandemic to be this extreme so everything was a surprise. 

Do you feel you're in a completely different headspace now compared to last year?

Definitely. I think a time like this really forces us to look ourselves in the mirror and what we have been missing. Things that we didn't touch because it is too sensitive, things that we just didn't get the time to heal. I think I've learned so many ugly and wonderful things about myself. 

Were you able to pick up new skills or hobbies or revisit and revive old ones?

Well, I started knitting! I am no pro but it is so addicting! Focusing on a yarn rather than a screen flashing blue-lights on my eyes at all times definitely helps balance my quarantine routine. 

What did you learn about yourself—physically, emotionally, spiritually—in the past year?

I guess the ugly side that I learned about myself is that I am secretly extremely needy. I overthink a lot. I mean A LOT. I am too good at imagining horrible things than a wonderful garden. But I've realized that the only thing that delivers me from that dark path is God. I think my relationship with God during the pandemic was so complicated but it grew the most. That is something that I am proud of myself. 

How are you keeping yourself sane through all this madness?

For me, it is to remind myself to be humble and grateful constantly.

It is a challenge to do every time I wake up, but that is truly how I keep myself calm. Reaching out to people and tell them you love them can help too. Spreading love and care fills our hearts and that is so important especially when we are isolated. 

What are your plans and hopes and dreams for 2021?

It'll be awesome if I can release an album this year. I am in the process of making it, but if I can share it with people by this year, It will be truly amazing.


JERMAINE CHOA PECK

The Ransom Collective

Happy one year in lockdown (eew)! How have you been these days? What have you been up to lately?

I can't believe it's been a year already and no one knows what will happen next. Everything is still uncertain. Change is inevitable. Injustice everywhere.

Everytime I lose hope for my country, I just look around me and see how beautiful the Philippines is and how lucky we are to still somehow call this place "home". There are definitely good days and bad days but I'm just trying to look forward and find something to be grateful for everyday.

Do you still remember where your head was and how you felt when the pandemic started and lockdown happened?

When they announced that they were gonna put the Philippines on lockdown there was definitely fear and panic, especially when they said military will be involved. My initial thought was to leave Manila, go to Zambales, and just see how it goes. Packed a week's worth of clothes and ended up staying for months.

Do you feel you're in a completely different headspace now compared to last year?

I guess it's been a bit better than last year. After being isolated from everyone for a while, there's been more freedom to see, interact and explore new hobbies with some friends, which makes things lighter. Just really trying my best to keep on moving forward and adapt.

Were you able to pick up new skills or hobbies or revisit and revive old ones?

Yes definitely! My lockdown was mainly focused on sports, I guess reviving the athlete in me, a complete turn from the gig and city life. I've always been fascinated with nature and surfing—it was the perfect time to learn and focus on honing my skills. I was surrounded by right people who guided and supported me pursue this passion! I also learned how to trail bike on a motorcycle and bicycle, learned how to skate and hulahoop, became a certified lifeguard and a dog momma!

What did you learn about yourself—physically, emotionally, spiritually—in the past year?

I learn something new about myself every day, having more "alone time" forced me to look at myself inwards and evaluate my relationships.

The past year has definitely taught me how to be more tough and to stand up for myself and for the people I truly care about. Being surrounded by the nature and the ocean also taught me to be humble. It showed me how small I am compared to everything that is going on in my life and in the world.

Surfing also pushed me to keep on fighting, no matter how big the wave and no matter how bad the fall is. It taught me to just keep on trying to ride the coming waves, hoping the next one would be better. 

How are you keeping yourself sane through all this madness?

I try to find something to be grateful for everyday and hold on to that little hope. New music from friends also keep me looking forward to something! Flow and movement has also helped me a lot in expressing myself. This has been my "new normal" in a time when we're restricted from moving—paying less attention on how I look on the outside, but more of how it makes me feel on the inside.

What are your plans and hopes and dreams for 2021?

Right now I'm just really going with the flow and seeing where life takes me. I'm not exactly sure about what will happen next but I'm hopeful that everything will be better and that we can all be together and enjoy music the way we used to!


JIM BACARRO

Cheats

Happy one year in lockdown (eew)! How have you been these days? What have you been up to lately? 

I’ve just been keeping myself busy with my business, taking care of 2 boys and our podcast. It’s not hard to stay busy when you’re a parent. 

Do you still remember where your head was and how you felt when the pandemic started and lockdown happened?

Sadly, I was starting to feel like things were slowly improving. We were seeing family again; responsibly, of course. But now, we’re back to square one.

Do you feel you're in a completely different headspace now compared to last year?

There’s comfort in more knowledge about the situation but still the same paranoia overall. 

Were you able to pick up new skills or hobbies or revisit and revive old ones?

I’ve gotten into photography, relearning the guitar and music production.

What did you learn about yourself—physically, emotionally, spiritually—in the past year?

I learned to find my center when things get more chaotic. Whether that’s praying, meditation, exercise. I learned the importance of self care. 

How are you keeping yourself sane through all this madness?

I try to practice gratitude especially when times get tough. 

What are your plans and hopes and dreams for 2021?

That we can regularly see the people we love. 


Kai Honasan

Autotelic

Happy one year in lockdown (eew)! How have you been these days? What have you been up to lately?

Taking it day by day. Playing music, learning slooooowly how to ride a bike. Teaching piano to a couple of wonderful humans who make me proud and happy. Eco and I also moved in December so we’re only now gradually filling up our house. First order of business was finding a place for my photo with Juday to remind me to make good decisions. 

Do you still remember where your head was and how you felt when the pandemic started and lockdown happened?

Ironically, start of 2020 I was praying for a little break because I was feeling burned out from my schedule. On March 15, I had dinner with Reese, Gabba, and Eco and we were discussing the upcoming lockdown. We were all thinking a month tops and that was it, we’d be okay in time for summer gigs. 

I was looking forward to finally being home for a long period of time. Eventually, it was just a lot of doomscrolling on social media. I was paralyzed by fear those first 2 months, I didn’t even want to touch my piano. 

Do you feel you're in a completely different headspace now compared to last year?

Definitely. By June/July it was a conscious, daily effort to snap out of the fear for my own mental health. As dramatic as it sounds, I remember my husband having to sit me down because him skateboarding outside would give me so much anxiety. He needed to physically move for his own sanity (because gigs and sports were his life) and he had to remind me that we had to do whatever we can to keep life moving forward somehow. 

Covid also directly affected my family at the beginning of 2021. To have everything you’ve been fearing for 8-9 months fully realized was hell. When that was over, my mindset completely changed. I didn’t want my life to be a waste.

Also, I left Twitter and Facebook a couple of months into lockdown and it helped my headspace A LOT. I mostly get updated the old-fashioned way — talking to people. Even those I wasn’t close to pre-pandemic, I ask A LOT of questions to make sure I’m still aware of everything and not living in a bubble. 

Were you able to pick up new skills or hobbies or revisit and revive old ones?

This sounds strange but I started singing again. Actually singing. I’ve been quite complacent since I was on back-up duty in a band for 7+ years after being solo so I let my vocal health go and didn’t care too much about it anymore. One of my closest friends, Lara Maigue, is a voice teacher and classical singer and I talk to her almost every day. She’s very strict and puts me in check as a musician a lot so I started REALLY singing again. She got me streaming on Kumu so I don’t get rusty and I got to enjoy performing for people there for a bit.

Also, I lost 40 lbs and counting so doing all sorts of random fitness activities is a revisited hobby! My biggest hindrance to getting healthy was the temptation of unlimited alcohol and food at gigs so now that that’s been eliminated, I got to refocus on getting in shape.

What did you learn about yourself—physically, emotionally, spiritually—in the past year?

I learned that I actually had the ability to be in complete control of myself in all aspects, that I was mentally stronger than I thought I was for most of my life. It carried over physically and spiritually.

How are you keeping yourself sane through all this madness?

I think watching my husband thrive under current circumstances has been keeping me optimistic. He launched a successful shirt line, he built all these new, positive friendships, he is continuously making music. He has zero insecurities about anything, he just does things fearlessly. Him and our 3 dogs, one of which is a pandemic puppy we adopted in April 2020 who knows no other life except being beside us.

Also, friends. I have friends I’ve been talking to frequently since lockdown started and I’ve gone through a rollercoaster of emotions with them. A sense of community despite distance goes a long way. It’s been easy to lose touch this past year but it’s nice to have these relationships to anchor you. Teaching piano has helped me get out of my funk also.

Lastly, BTS for real. And the friends I’ve gotten closer to because of shared fandom.

What are your plans and hopes and dreams for 2021?

Oh gosh. It’s a little scary to hope again for myself but I do dream of vaccination for all. ASAP. 


LEANNE & NAARA

Happy one year in lockdown (eew)! How have you been these days? What have you been up to lately?

Leanne: It’s been steady. We’re so happy that more gigs and opportunities are coming in compared to last year. Lately we’ve been working on plans for this year.

Do you still remember where your head was and how you felt when the pandemic started and lockdown happened?

Naara: I felt relaxed when it started because I thought it'll only last for 2 weeks so I only brought my guitar and phone with me. But I was wrong! I felt so down because I didn't bring all of my recording stuff with me so I worked by using my phone and it was so hard.

Do you feel you're in a completely different headspace now compared to last year?

Leanne: Yes I think we’re starting to feel more hopeful now, since we’re finding new ways to share our music and to engage with our listeners. I think it also helped that we were able to move around. We’ve done a few onsite shoots wherein all safety protocols were adhered to. I guess that’s also one of the few things that helped us see the silver lining.

Were you able to pick up new skills or hobbies or revisit and revive old ones?

Naara: I was able to spend a lot of time at home and that was the longest time I've stayed there so everything was kind of new to me. But as I was in the process of adjusting, I was able to read books again and my friend had a bike built for me so I went back to biking. It feels good because I was able to exercise again.

What did you learn about yourself—physically, emotionally, spiritually—in the past year?

Leanne: I learned that I can actually commit to a healthier lifestyle. Eating better and staying active are two of the things that I’ve tried to keep up with in the past year. It’s helped me maintain focus in everything I do.

How are you keeping yourself sane through all this madness?

Naara: The first three months of lockdown was crazy! But thankfully I was with my family (thank God my 2 nieces were there. They're our fountain of joy) and I got to spend more time with them. I always get in touch with my friends and check if they're okay. We recorded our debut album, Daybreak, during lockdown and it really helped a lot with my sanity although it's sad that we won't be able to promote it face to face. Lastly, biking really helped me get sane because I was able to meet new friends that are also in the music industry.

What are your plans and hopes and dreams for 2021?

Leanne: To create more so that we can share more. To feel more and to remain optimistic despite the the fact that things don’t always go the way you plan them. Our dream is to find the key into sharing more of our music in this changing world.


PAKOY FLETCHERO

Typecast

Happy one year in lockdown (eew)! How have you been these days? What have you been up to lately?

Happy one year? Haha. All good, trying to be busy at work and sa mga side hustle ko.

Do you still remember where your head was and how you felt when the pandemic started and lockdown happened?

When the pandemic first started, I, like many others, thought it would last a couple of months. I had just arrived from an out of town gig so I hurriedly prepared all the necessities. But as the days went by, I started getting scared because of the uncertainty of our livelihood, bills piling up, and being away from my son. 

Do you feel you're in a completely different headspace now compared to last year?

Yes. I've learned to adapt to the new normal. Unlike last year where I was pretty much confused and unable to process what was happening. 

Were you able to pick up new skills or hobbies or revisit and revive old ones?

YES!! First, I learned to cook haha. I've also learned to manage my own business, Don Pakundo's Flavored Banana Chips. I always thought I couldn't do any of these things but being isolated helped with me being more creative and resourceful. 

What did you learn about yourself—physically, emotionally, spiritually—in the past year?

I've learned that you really need to take care of yourself and don't abuse yourself. I've learned to eat healthier and workout more. 

I've also learned to check up on loved ones and friends because everyone is struggling. 

How are you keeping yourself sane through all this madness?

Playing guitars doing covers, exercising, being busy sa work and business. I've also been working on a merch line coming out real soon! (Shameless plug, check out Don Pakundo's Online Store on Facebook haha).

I also work as a Manager of BioTect Bacolod, a disinfecting company, kaya ako nag move dito sa Bacolod.

What are your plans and hopes and dreams for 2021?

First, I hope everyone gets the vaccine so we can start going back to normal. We're recording new stuff for Typecast so hopefully we can tour soon. Also, trying to expand Don Pakundo's would be good too.


PAT SARABIA

Oh, Flamingo! | Apartel

Happy one year in lockdown (eew)! How have you been these days? What have you been up to lately?

I still feel the limbo-ish feeling, lately though things seem a bit more "normal" than they did last year. I get to play more music this year than last—majority of which being studio recordings, and the occassional online gig. That, plus early morning bike rides.

Do you still remember where your head was and how you felt when the pandemic started and lockdown happened?

Yeah, when Duterte announced he would send military forces out into the streets, that scared me more than the pandemic, actually. I made a "now or never" decision, and packed my bags and drove to Zambales that same night. I had no plans—I was down to just wing it from there. I just needed to get out of Manila.

Do you feel you're in a completely different headspace now compared to last year?

It all ebbs and flows and while our situation is truly a hassle because of our incompetent leaders, I can't say my headspace is any "better", maybe just more well-adjusted. Not even in a positive way, but kind of "building a tolerance to pain" kind of way. 

Were you able to pick up new skills or hobbies or revisit and revive old ones?

At the beginning of the lockdown, I was highly motivated to improve my skills at playing the drums but that fizzled out quicker than I thought it would. I tapped Carlos Castaño's shoulder cause I saw he was biking a lot with fellow musicians. Ayun, from there it kind of set me off onto a new life path where all I look forward to now is hoping to get a good bike ride in.

What did you learn about yourself—physically, emotionally, spiritually—in the past year?

That even though I'm an introvert, I learn most and am motivated the most in group settings. Studying drums alone is boring. Playing music alone is boring. Biking alone is boring. Most of my skill-honing comes from human interaction and channeling those positive experiences to learning.

I can hole myself up in a room and study drums all day, but that doesn't necessarily equate to being prepared for battle when a jam session comes along. Don't get me wrong, practicing is absolutely necesssary and I'm not saying it's a bad thing. Maybe I'm also just at a point where I don't see music as something totally "athletic" anymore. I just want to have fun with whatever skill I have and want to express, and keep it organic.

How are you keeping yourself sane through all this madness?

Biking definitely helps also because I get to meet people outside of my circle. Sometimes I feel like I'm back to being a teenager where all I do is see my friends and hang out at the park.

I'm also trying my best to share more online content of myself—something I would have been iffy about in the past 'cause I'd be too self-conscious if it were good enough or not. But those short clips have led people to reach out to me to work on various studio pandemic projects as well as other session work for fellow Pinoys across the globe, young aspiring musicians, etc.—that, plus the new Oh, Flamingo! material we have coming out and a studio drum project with Badjao de Castro (IV of Spades).

I've actually never said no to any musical project, and moreso during the pandemic, I think this is the most I've been recording in the studio ever in my life.

Oh, and adopted a puppy. Her name is Roti.

What are your plans and hopes and dreams for 2021?

On a personal level, I have no plans and I think that's been working well for me. I don't want to set the bar too high and then disappoint myself again. I just have to take things as they come. In a strange way, having nothing to look forward to has helped me enjoy the moment.


RAYMUND MARASIGAN

Sandwich | Squid 9 | Pedicab 

Happy one year in lockdown (eew)! How have you been these days? What have you been up to lately?

I’ve been trying to stay healthy and sane through biking and music.

Do you still remember where your head was and how you felt when the pandemic started and lockdown happened?

Yes, I had an intense feeling of dread, fear and helplessness.

Do you feel you're in a completely different headspace now compared to last year?

Those feelings are still present but since the announcement of the vaccines, it’s getting less and less. It’s been more hopeful in the past few months.

Were you able to pick up new skills or hobbies or revisit and revive old ones?

Yes, I’m learning how to shoot and edit videos. It has become my way of releasing new music through short stories in youtube.

I bought art supplies and made some collages when the lockdowns started. The new Squid 9 cover is one of them. 

Daren Lim and I have been talking about a podcast for years. We finally found time to do Offstage Hang.

With some guidance from my friend Mon Punzalan (Daily Grind), I’ve started a new clothing label (allryd) with my daughter Atari. Based on things I started to wear during the pandemic.

Last weekend I got recruited to play a beach gig in a new band with Badjao de CastroEco del Rio, and John Apura.

What did you learn about yourself—physically, emotionally, spiritually—in the past year?

There’s an intense negative energy brought about by the pandemic that affects us all. Everyday i try to not get consumed by it and struggle to harness it to a more positive direction. The small victories are just as stunning.

How are you keeping yourself sane through all this madness?

This might sound cliché but music, art and (safe) contact with friends, has kept me alive and got me up when I’m down in the dumps.

What are your plans and hopes and dreams for 2021?

First is to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The plans will come together afterwards.


REESE LANSANGAN

Do you still remember where your head was and how you felt when the pandemic started and lockdown happened?

Before the pandemic started, I was gearing up for the release of my 2nd album. I had a launch date and everything, but I decided to push it back, never really imagining that the pandemic would last this long.

When everything started going down, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of time I suddenly had. I felt the pressure of coming out of this alive AND productive—prolific even. As a creative, I always grappled with the idea of "not having enough time”. Now that I had it, I felt like I couldn’t move. I punished myself for a while because for the first 3 months, I had no willpower to do anything but watch Netflix or cook simple meals.

Aside from online livestreams, I wasn’t really “working”—or so I thought. I talked about my mental unrest in this vlog I made upon reaching Day 100 of lockdown. 

Do you feel you're in a completely different headspace now compared to last year?

Yeah, totally. Even though I still pine for freedom, I’ve become more accepting of this reality. I have been continuing old activities in a new light without the intense resistance and denial that I had during the start of the pandemic.

We just announced the upcoming release of #Reese2ndAlbum on May 30 and all the preps had to be carried out within this new normal. We’re just trying our best to stay safe and still create things that make us feel alive, even through such a challenging time.

I am able to count my blessings better now. I’m thankful for the smallest things—like having a full spice rack in the kitchen or receiving packages mid-day. These are things I never really noticed before because there was so much stimulus.

Were you able to pick up new skills or hobbies or revisit and revive old ones?

Aside from the 5-track EP I released last October, I’ve finished two creative writing courses and am continuing with my Nihongo studies. I’m currently studying at N4 level, just working on my skills out of my love for the Japanese culture.

I’ve learned how to cook at the start of this pandemic, too! Before March, I didn’t even know how to operate our stove! For both Christmas and New Year, my sister and I cooked and baked our entire spread. That’s a first for us!

What did you learn about yourself—physically, emotionally, spiritually—in the past year?

In October 30, I released a themed EP Playing Pretend in the Interim which had me writing songs from the perspective of different characters. Everything was recorded from home. It was a very new writing exercise for me because I’ve always just written from my own perspective and experiences. This time, I tried to reimagine myself in someone else’s shoes and tried to write honestly about my own musings in quarantine.

In the beginning, I spent some months hating myself for not coming out of this pandemic a seemingly “better” person—more adjusted, more skilled, more knowledgable, more intelligent… All those things. It took me a while to figure out that taking care of myself was valid. It’s the best use of my time, even.

I also learned that I could do things differently from what I’ve been used to. That I could find a way to adapt, even at times when there seems to be a lack. 

How are you keeping yourself sane through all this madness?

I’ve been writing “Morning Pages” daily. This is a 30 minute writing exercise of just dumping your thoughts out into a notebook. It’s a self-care practice I have been observing for around 3 years now. On particularly difficult days, it’s hard to honor your commitments to yourself but showing up for you is the most important. If you shower yourself with love and care, you’ll grow in kindness and grace. That’s what we need more of now.

I have also been connecting with my community in a deeper way, having bi-monthly Zoom Powerpoint parties on my Patreon. And of course, this pandemic has given my family lots of time to bond. We’d usually have vastly different working hours pre-pandemic, so being stuck at home gave us lots of opportunities to work on family projects together.

Lastly, just having things to focus on has been really helping. I thrive most when I have projects I’m passionate about. Last year, it was the Playing Pretend in the Interim EP.

This year, it’s #Reese2ndAlbum. Since it’s going to be a digital “event" we are rethinking everything we used to know about album releases. It’s been creatively challenging for me because we’re a small team. I’m an independent artist, and we don’t have the same resources or manpower as others do. I end up taking on a lot of heavy work on my own (usually shooting and editing), especially in this pandemic where doing things yourself is the best approach. But the freedom that being indie affords me to accurately express and reflect myself through my releases (schedule-wise, content-wise, etc)—that’s priceless.

These days, I am living for the excitement and joy that I feel when I think of finally unveiling my 2nd album to the world. It’s been such a long journey to get here, and I’m happy that I can enjoy the ride now. I am also motivated by the fact that every day is a chance to grow and be better. Especially since I get the chance to be a student again (in my Nihongo studies), I get excited every time I understand the context of Japanese shows and get to express more of my thoughts naturally through conversation.

What are your plans and hopes and dreams for 2021?

I just hope to have more time to grow with my loved ones this year. I hope to be content with where I am now, given the situation of the world. I hope to be more helpful to people around me. And of course, I hope that people will embrace the heart of #Reese2ndAlbum and find themselves in between the words.


SB19

Happy one year in lockdown (eew)! How have you been these days? What have you been up to lately?

Pablo: After a year has passed and the situation is still the same, thankfully I'm still doing okay, but I can never get used to this situation. This will never be normal for me.

Justin: Since we are in quarantine and we just released our new single, I've been trying to be active on social media lately to interact with A'tin and to promote our new song.  I'm also preparing and practicing for our future projects.

Ken: Doing Good. Making beats.

Stell: I'm doing great. Just the same me doing random, crazy stuff when I’m at home. Making myself productive. And actually this lockdown made me realize that I have a lot of things to improve on myself. I also learned new things and unlocked new skills.

Do you still remember where your head was and how you felt when the pandemic started and lockdown happened?

Stell: Before the lockdown I'm very happy because me and my group had a lot of plans and ideas. Also, that was the time when we did a lot of promotions, activities and TV appearances.

Then suddenly, COVID happened. We couldn’t go out, we had to stay in our houses with no events and projects. I know It's for everyone's safety but, sometimes I do feel sad knowing that a lot of our plans had to be cancelled. But at least I was still able to manage to keep my sanity.

Do you feel you're in a completely different headspace now compared to last year?

Pablo: This pandemic has taught me a lot. I was able to search things including myself and the things that I want to do. Definitely, I'm in a whole new headspace now.

Were you able to pick up new skills or hobbies or revisit and revive old ones?

Justin: Since I got more free time during the quarantine, I had the chance to do my old hobbies such as painting and playing computer games. Since I was an art student, I missed painting and recently I'm trying different mediums.

Ken: Yes. I just got my own simple studio set up and I’m trying to learn how to make beats.

What did you learn about yourself—physically, emotionally, spiritually—in the past year?

Pablo: I learned a lot. Since I just stayed at home with nothing else to do, I was able to contemplate about life in general. I thought about my future, the things that matter most. I was given the time to know myself more at the same time, I'm frantic about the situation, I thought about my family and I was scared. I was in doubt but things are different now.

Stell: I learned that being part of a group is very hard because everyone's personality is different. Including their moods and perspectives in life. What I learned is that we have to be open with everyone, and listen to even the smallest or whatever petty reason there is, and that you need to open up and talk about it as a group. 

How are you keeping yourself sane through all this madness?

Justin: I'm giving myself time to be alone and quiet. When I'm feeling anxious and stressed, I just listen to songs that makes me relaxed and do things that will make me focused and forget the negativity for a while, like painting and drawing.

What are your plans and hopes and dreams for 2021?

Pablo: I hope to have a public event again because I can never get used to this situation. This is not how it's supposed to be done. I want to do concerts not just here in the Phils. But also in other countries. I plan to make more songs if possible, but given the situation, it's getting bleak and bleak. Hopefully, everything gets better soon so I can realize my plan.

Justin: Personally, I'm planning to share more about myself this year. I want to do more personal vlogs and share my art soon. But generally, I hope that this year, things will get better for everyone.

Ken: I hope this pandemic will end soon. We really want to perform in front of so many people like before.

Stell: I wish we can go outside the country to perform and represent the Philippines this year. Of course not only to enjoy the travel but also I want the whole world to know about who and what SB19 is. I also want to take on some acting projects this year if I will be given a chance. Or if could do a musical theater project, that would be great.


STEVE BADIOLA

Typecast

Happy one year in lockdown (eew)! How have you been these days? What have you been up to lately?

A bit better than last year, thanks for asking. I got myself a day job working from home, my Basic Music Production Workshops, and I still produce and mix music for artists and my own.

Do you still remember where your head was and how you felt when the pandemic started and lockdown happened?

It was a stressful year for everyone. The music scene really took a blow when this thing happened and knowing I'll be forced to stop performing onstage worried me so much.

Do you feel you're in a completely different headspace now compared to last year?

I have this habit of looking at the bright side of things. Thinking of other ways on how to make things better for me mentally, financially, etc. I tend to overthink sometimes but yeah, I think I'm doing a bit better.

Were you able to pick up new skills or hobbies or revisit and revive old ones?

I caught the creative bug recently and am planning to paint again.

What did you learn about yourself—physically, emotionally, spiritually—in the past year?

What I've learned in the past year is not to take things for granted.

How are you keeping yourself sane through all this madness?

My workshop learners keep me sane. I get a sense of fulfillment knowing I'm able to help them on their creative journeys. Making music for me and for others and of course most of all, Sarah.

What are your plans and hopes and dreams for 2021?

I got quite a lot of plans for this year, personally and career-wise. From new releases to getting married.


ZILD BENITEZ

IV Of Spades

Happy one year in lockdown (eew)! How have you been these days? What have you been up to lately?

I think a lot has changed for me introspectively. I became more appreciative of the things that I took for granted before like walking outside, playing music live, or just seeing someone.

Isolation has made me know myself once again and learn my part as a human being in a society. I've been reading poetry books for a while (I've been having a hard time reading a novels at the moment, because I have a short attention span lately), learning how to ride a bike, writing short stories, binge-watching a lot of anime, and creating music.

Do you still remember where your head was and how you felt when the pandemic started and lockdown happened?

I'm starting to get a grip but my emotional stability is really a wreck for the past year. I am just happy that I am surrounded by people who always show me that life is worth seeing tomorrow.

Do you feel you're in a completely different headspace now compared to last year?

I am still worried about the pandemic and seeing that there's no such improvement, I think getting paralyzed by it still happens from time to time. I'm grateful that I'm finding my own voice in songwriting lately and it has really saved me from myself. Without writing, I don't know how I'll survive.

Were you able to pick up new skills or hobbies or revisit and revive old ones?

I've been focusing a lot of my time learning different tunings in an acoustic guitar. I used to hate acoustic guitars because I have this lame idea that it is cliché, but now I realized that there are still a lot of possibilities to explore on this instrument. Last month, it was also my first time to learn how to ride a bike without the training wheels.

What did you learn about yourself—physically, emotionally, spiritually—in the past year?

I learned that music has kept me sane for all my life. When my life as a live musician has shut off, I realized that I'm still that dork kid who locks himself in his room just to create something and fail many times. It is a privilege to do something like this in a global pandemic, and I try to fulfill my purpose as an artist by sharing music with people who need something to lean on to.

How are you keeping yourself sane through all this madness?

Anime, books, music, friends, family, and a lot of almond milk.

What are your plans and hopes and dreams for 2021?

I'm releasing my second album called Huminga, which is out on April 8. After this record, I think I'll be taking a break from creating music until the itch comes back. I will be taking more things inwards rather than putting out something creatively. I'm grateful that I was able to write songs more honestly during these tough times. I'm just excited to shave my head without anyone knowing.