Ely Buendia blogs: Trouble in paradise

Wayward rockets. Boiling territorial tension.

World wars have been fought over far less explosive situations.

There certainly was some kind of pall hanging over everyone as we—that is, Pupil with an entourage of four—made our way through the spiffy new Caticlan airport (mirrors everywhere) and the labyrinthine ferry terminal and docks, and finally languid (in some parts anyway), lovely Boracay.

It was a Friday and all everyone could talk about other than the next three days’ itinerary was the impending North Korean fireworks display. Admittedly, it was fun discussing doomsday scenarios. As long as you were isolated anyway.

On the day of the launch, one of our friends had to take Xanax on her flight back to Manila. When the North Korean rocket failed, the running joke in the band was that the thousands of Koreans who were now swarming Boracay fell with the debris. Technicalities like the fact that they were actually South Koreans were dispensed with.

The (DJ) Diegos (also of Sandwich and Pedicab)


Sharing the bill with Pupil was dynamite DJ duo The Diegos, whom I know personally as well as professionally. Diego Castillo and Diego Mapa are similar not just in name. Both play in very successful bands and both share an almost obsessive love for vinyl, that relic of the twentieth century that somehow never really disappeared in the first place.

In fact, most audiophiles agree that vinyl records are still the best way to listen to music. I myself have a humble collection of LP’s and 45’s, and with the price I got for them, you’d think it was an illegal drug.

During the Eighties, when “mobiles” were essential to any party, boxes and boxes of vinyl records had to be transported. These days, no DJ in his right mind would even consider transporting his prized record collection to an island.

Trippy techno and alt rock

So, armed with the more truly mobile CDs, the Diegos capped the Friday night with a well balanced set: trippy techno with a helping of alternative rock for the true believers.

The Diegos, Castillo (left, also of Sandwich) and Mapa (also of Pedicab). Contributed photo from Ely Buendia.I spent some time with them on the podium, taking pictures and horsing around. I asked Diego (the bearded one) how they divided DJ duties and he told me that usually they alternated but it was flexible.

Yes, I realized since they were side by side it would be easy. Still, there was surely some weird Wonder Twins thing going on between them, because he said that most of the time they didn’t need to talk. Impressive stuff.

Let cooler heads prevail

The event over and at Diego Castillo’s instigation, we retreated to semi-secluded Station 1. At a bar called Exit, I realized it was where most of the people we knew from Manila went to hang out if they needed to get away from the maddening crowd.

The most popular topic of the evening was the Scarborough Shoal incident and how the Philippines might fare in an all-out war with China. The consensus was: not very well.

But our little archipelago has always been an underdog, and in the international arena, we can at least expect sympathy to go our way. In the meantime, it would do us good to have cooler heads prevail in this burning climate.

Ely Buendia has written for The Manila Bulletin and Esquire. He is the frontman of the rock band Pupil and co-author of "Against the Light: A Pupil Tour Diary," available now. His blog appears regularly on Yahoo! OMG!

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