June 16, 2012

Big bad books

WHEN my siblings and I were growing up in the ’70s to ’80s, we were surrounded by books.

We had all kinds at home—from encyclopedias like the 20-volume The Book of Knowledge and 10-volume Popular Science—to reference books like Renato Constantino’s A Past Revisited and The Continuing Past (big help during my high school and college Philippine history classes), and novels that ranged from the intelligently written and spiritually moving like Herman Hesse’s Siddharta, to the popular “trashy” erotica penned by Harold Robbins (my mother’s books, for sure, hahaha).

I’m glad that I grew up in such an environment with a love for learning and the written word. I would remember waking up every morning, and seeing my father already seated on his favorite chair in the living room turning the pages of the morning paper. I would later “copy” him as soon as I was tall enough to make it to the sofa without help from my yaya, and read the newspaper as well. (In hindsight, I suppose this was my own beginnings as a journalist.)

I think it was Papa’s fervent desire to make us, his children, literate geniuses (the latter, a failure on my end; for the record, Big Sister is the genius in the family). So he bought books and subscribed to Time, Reader’s Digest and Life magazines. He also bought us a slew of Complete Bestsellers—popular novels published as magazines, containing illustrations (e.g., Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale and John Le Carre’s The Looking Glass War.)

While studying at St. Theresa’s, I just loved spending my free time in the library. Aside from the fact that it was the only air-conditioned room in the premises other than the audio-visual room, there were even more books to be read!

My literary diet as a teenager consisted of the Nancy Drew series, a stream of metaphysical and philosophical dissertations that came in 10 volumes, science fiction (the Dune series by Frank Herbert), and I’m pretty sure I was the only one who read The Pentagon Papers and All the President’s Men then.

Of course, what young female adolescent in the ’70s and ’80s didn’t have her share of romantic novels from the Mills and Boons and Barbara Cartland collection (my Lola Pepay’s influence), and the Silhouette/Harlequin Romances, where all the female leads where virgins before being deflowered by their knights in shining armor? It’s no wonder I have such a screwed-up sense of love and romance, and am currently unattached. I’m still waiting for my muscular hero with his hair long as Fabio to take me away, riding on a white charger, into the sunset! LOL!

Now, among my parents’ stash of course, were the so-called big bad books—risqué or erotic adult novels that were on book shelves far up high in their bedroom, and away from the prying eyes of young, impressionable children like myself.

My first big bad book was Harold Robbins’ Stiletto, which I sneakily read page by page while standing on a stool, in my parents’ bedroom, while they were out. Every time I would hear someone passing outside their door, I would hastily put it back on its space on the bookshelf, my heart racing fast in fear of being caught with the “illicit” item in my hands. It was actually a quick read and the steamy sex scenes awed me—of course they are tame by today’s standards. But what attracted me more was the suspense that surrounded the killing of various witnesses who were supposed to testify before the mob. And I mean, of the Mafiosi kind.

The other “big bad books” I ended up sneaking off with were Vladimir Nabokov’s classic novel of seduction and, well, pedophilia, Lolita; and D.H. Lawerence’s swoon-worthy example of illicit romances among the married, Lady Chatterley’s Lover. I even wrapped the cover of the latter in gift-wrapping paper so I could read it in school without being hauled off to the principal’s office. (Of course, by the ’80s Lady Chatterley’s Lover was no longer considered obscene, but still, I was afraid the nuns wouldn’t understand if they caught me reading it, thus the fake cover. I was also sparing them the agony of blaming themselves for their failure of influencing me to read “better” literature, like, uhm, Shakespeare’s classics?)

Toward my 20s, I graduated to the works of Erica Jong, Arthur Miller, Anaïs Nin, etc. And in my young 30s, I collected anthologies of erotica whenever I traveled abroad. (Sorry to say this but National Book Store was never the local torchbearer for the genre.)

With this background in mind, can you blame me if I am shocked that the apparent erotic novel of choice among bored young housewives and twentysomethings these days is something called 50 Shades of Grey? I admit I haven’t read it, but the reviews I’ve perused so far are enough to make me wince.

So when B., my 25-year-old friend who introduced me to the hilarious Confessions of a Shopaholic (to be fair, it was entertaining), tweeted she too had “jumped on the bandwagon” and bought 50 Shades, I almost died. For those who still don’t what the fuss is about, 50 Shades of Grey started out as a re-worked fan fiction based on the Twilight series, but with S&M scenes. (There are two sequels: 50 Shades Darker and 50 Shades Freed.)

Incidentally, due to the alleged pornographic nature of the first novel, some public libraries banned it from their bookshelves. But a public outcry has reinstated it in libraries. Most readers of the novel, I gather, are thirtysomething housewives, thus earning it the title “Mommy Porn.”

Many respectable literature reviewers have panned the e-book and the eventual paperback written by E.L. James, because of its “clunky prose” and being “treacly cliché” (watch Charlize Theron and her co-stars from Snow White and the Huntsman read from the book here).

Jong, author of the controversial Fear of Flying, and one of my favorite feminist novelists, says of 50 Shades: “The problem...is that it is just bad writing. That and the fact the heroine is subservient, allowing her body to be abused in order to ‘get her man.’ Is this what we’ve come to?”

Indeed. On the other hand, I suppose I was hoping that my young friend’s first foray into the erotic/bondage genre would be something reputable, like Pauline Reage’s The Story of O. But holy cow! what do I know, right? 50 Shades did make the New York Times best-sellers list. (Again for those who don’t know, “holy cow” is the favorite expression of the novel’s protagonist, Anastasia, when she sees a naked man or has sex. She also says, “holy crap” and “holy shit”. Lovely.)
From “50 Shades of Grey”: “He's going to kiss me there! I know it! And part of me is glorying in anticipation." Another one: “Inside me! I gasp, and all the muscles deep in my belly clench. My inner goddess is doing the dance of the seven veils.” (Hahahahaha! Sorry, I couldn’t help laughing while typing those idiotic lines.)

Compare those lines to “The Story of O”: “O felt her mouth was beautiful, since her lover condescended to thrust himself into it, since he deigned to discharge in it. She received it as a god is received, she heard him cry out, heard the others laugh, and when she received it she fell, her face against the floor.” See what I mean?

But as my friend and reading guru Fabia counseled me when I was complaining about my nephew’s obsession with Anne Rice’s vampires, “At least he’s reading.” (Not that there’s anything wrong with Anne Rice—I just wish he read more Catcher in the Rye, Catch-22, Lord of the Flies, you know?)

I know I should be pleased that B. may have finally outgrown her chicklit Shopaholic phase. I suppose 50 Shades can be compared to Jacqueline Susanne’s Valley of the Dolls in terms of the kind of popularity the latter also reaped, and the dismissives it also garnered from literary reviewers.

And I guess every generation needs their trashy novels or guilty pleasures. We just have to cross our fingers that that kind of trash doesn’t become the standard reading fare for the “Y” and “Z” generation. Holy crap.

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror...unless it gets bumped off by an ad. :-) This piece was originally published on June 8, 2012. Still photo of the film "The Story of O" from www.listal.com)

June 15, 2012

Mandarin Oriental Mla revenues up; undergoes $20M facelift

(Prior to the just announced $20-million upgrade, the former Captain's Bar adjacent to the lobby was renovated last year, with its surrounding walls knocked down. It is now called the MO Lounge. Photo from thedude.com)

THE Mandarin Oriental Manila posted improved revenues in 2011, on increased guests and higher average room rates.

A unit of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group based in Hong Kong, Mandarin Oriental Manila’s revenue per available room increased by 18 percent to $80 in 2011, from $68 in 2010, according to the group’s annual report to shareholders. Average occupancy rose to 72 percent, from 71 percent in 2010, while average room rate was $112, up 17 percent in 2011, from $96 the previous year.

The 35-year-old property is finally undergoing its much-awaited grand renovation, which was announced as early as 2009.

Hotel general manager Mark S. Bradford told the BusinessMirror, the renovation would cost “about $20 million (P870 million)…and would take about 18 to 20 months to complete.”

The renovation will prioritize guest rooms, and will also cover the ballroom, function rooms, and the facade, he said. There are 442 rooms and suites as well as seven restaurants and bars, and a spa.

Director of Communications Charisse Chuidian said the renovation “has started on the upper floors,” undergoing waterproofing and the like, and ensuring the most minimal intrusion to the stay of its hotel guests.

She described the renovated rooms as designed in a “contemporary look featuring a stylish interplay of warm earth tones and the use of Philippine hand-woven fabrics and images, for a sense of place.”

(MOH Manila general manager Mark S. Bradford. Photo from The GM's Blog.)

In the club rooms, there will be a bed with a 13-inch mattress “offering orthopedic comfort to assure guests of a good nights’ sleep, while a backlit wall-to-wall wood headboard brings a warm luminescence to the room. Bedside lamps are designed with a separate reading light for greater ease, and a 32-inch plasma TV offers the utmost in entertainment and relaxation.”

In tandem with the room renovation, the security system will employ cutting-edge technology “with a strengthened perimeter walling and checkpoints around the property.”

The hotel will also be purchasing a new fleet of 30 limousines “to ensure the transfer of guests in safety and comfort within Metro Manila and the airport complement the new guest experience.”

Bradford acknowledged that the renovation would probably disrupt some client traffic but said, “We’re prepared to see a decrease [in guests].” He stressed that upon completion, the renovation would result in a better guest experience.

Rather than “dragging it [the renovation] out in stages, however, I’d rather have the pain in one go, so to speak, and be done with it quickly,” he stressed.

The Mandarin Oriental, Manila is one of the first luxury five-star hotels in the Makati central business district. It had undergone some makeovers in the past under the helm of its former general manager Helmut Gaisberger, such as in the design of its black granite zen exterior at the main entrance.

The interiors of some restaurants such as the Tivoli Grill, for instance, were also refurbished, while food and beverage outlets like the Paseo Uno (formerly The Brasserie) and Martini’s bar were added.

Under Bradford, who took over from Gaisberger in September 2009, the Tivoli Grill underwent further freshening up with a warmer more welcoming palette, while the former Captain’s Bar – now called MO Lounge – adjacent to the lobby, was recently opened up, its walls knocked down to give guests easier access to the area.

The MOH Group’s parent firm, the Mandarin Oriental International Ltd. (MOIL), is listed on the London Stock Exchange, with secondary listings in Bermuda and Singapore. The latter is a subsidiary of the Hong Kong-based Jardine Matheson Group, one of the largest diversified conglomerates in Asia with interests in engineering and construction, transport services, insurance brokering, property investment and development, retailing, restaurants, luxury hotels, motor vehicles and related activities, financial services, heavy equipment, mining and agribusiness.

(Evening at the hotel poolside. Photo from thedude.com.)

In 2011, MOIL’s “underlying profit attributable to shareholders,” or net income, rose 33 percent to $59 million from $44.4 million in 2010, according to the parent firm’s report to its investors. This includes $16 million in branding fees from The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, London.

The growth was much lower though than the 255-percent jump in the group’s profit in 2010, as company revenues were affected by the “reduced occupancy in Tokyo following the earthquake and tsunami, and pre-opening costs in Paris.” Its first property in Paris was opened in June 2011.

In a press statement on March 2012, MOIL chairman Simon Keswick, recognized that “current economic challenges in Europe and the United States may impact some of the Group’s markets in 2012.” But the company was looking forward to the recovery in Tokyo “and full year of trading in Paris. Over the longer term, Mandarin Oriental will benefit from the strength of its brand, the limited new supply of luxury hotels in its key markets and the phased opening of hotels in its portfolio.”

The company currently operates 27 hotels and has a further 15 under development, “all of which will be operated under long-term management contracts that require no capital investment by the Group. In addition, the Group operates, or has under development, 13 Residences at Mandarin Oriental which are connected to its properties.”

The company’s next planned hotel opening is in Guangzhou in the second half of 2012, followed by Taipei, Milan, and Shanghai in 2013.

(This is the unabridged version of the piece I wrote for the BusinessMirror on June 4, 2012.)

June 08, 2012

Things to do now that the impeachment trial’s over

WE followed, perhaps even suffered, the tragic-comic silliness of the 44 days that saw the impeachment trial of the soon-to-be-ex-Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Unless I had to rush stories or was out on a press coverage or errands, I was at home glued to the TV just like everyone else. There I was watching and listening, sometimes my blood pressure rising at some ridiculous remark by some halfwit pretend lawyer, or amused as my favorite senator went berserk, floored by the idiocies she and her colleagues were forced to pay attention to.

There were some days of boredom too, when the testimonies got too technical and uber-lengthy. But I must admit, it made great TV.

But now that the trial is over, what ever are we going to do with our afternoons?!

Well, here are a few activities I put forth, your honors, that can replace the now concluded, often hypertensive Coronovela.

Start saving US dollars. If you want to be well-off like the Chief Justice by the time you reach retirement age, this is one of the best ways to spend your afternoons. What you should do is hang around the foreign exchange center in SM Malls, or your friendly neighborhood bank (you have to know the staff so they don’t toss you out for loitering on the premises), and wait for the balikbayan who want to exchange their dollars into pesos.

Offer them market rates—for this purpose, your smartphone must be well-equipped like a Bloomberg terminal so you can monitor the current trades at the Philippine Dealing System. Since the balikbayan will want a higher rate of exchange versus what SM or the bank will be offering, they will naturally sell their greenbacks to you. (These currency centers often buy dollars at 50 centavos to even a peso-and-a-half lower than the prevailing Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reference rate.)

Open a foreign currency deposit account, and—ka-ching!—deposit your newly bought dollars. In due time, you will also be able to amass $2.5 million through wise money market investing like the Chief Justice! Talk to a private banker to help you carry out a sound forex investment plan. (Note: Hopefully, you are not a government employee, because you now know what can happen if you have a dollar savings account which you don’t disclose in your Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth. If you are, then open a dollar deposit account abroad, preferably in the Caribbean!)

Enter law school. We all know who were the real winners in the Corona impeachment trial—it was the lawyers! With lawyers charging at an hourly rate, there is no doubt the rest of us are probably in the wrong business. It’s never too late to enroll in law school and learn to argue the intricacies of Constitutional Law. Imagine how fun it would be if you ever get to practice that with Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago! Gulp! Patay tayo jan!

But who knows, you just might become a congressman or a senator one day, and be influential in crafting vital legislation in the land—like, for example, the propagation of carabaos! Or like just what happened—you might be called to vote on some measure of national and historical importance! Or, heavens, you may even become the Chief Justice! Just be sure when that happens, you are amiable and friendly with your fellow associates, so they would think twice about testifying against you, in case you ever find yourself being impeached.

Learn to Photoshop. Remember all those funny and entertaining posters and memes that popped up on the Internet during the impeachment trial? Many of these were accomplished by tweaking existing photos and just putting one’s own witty take.

Get one of your proficient friends to teach you the basics of Adobe Photoshop, and the rest of the tricks you can learn on your own. (That’s what those free afternoons are for—practice, practice, practice!) Who knows, your own meme may just become the next cyber wonder hit! Just like this:

Return peace to the family, befriend your feuding relatives. Yup, you read it right—spend time with relatives you never liked, or maybe were friendly with you in your childhood, but who have since become cold and distant. Try to get into their good graces again, especially if they have more than enough money to know what to do. (Pay special attention to those relatives who have lots of foreign currency deposits and properties.)

Be dependable especially in their old age. Who knows, your rich relative may actually start appreciating the little things you do for them and leave you the bulk of their wealth. And when his/her own family ends up squabbling over funds and properties, you, being the favorite relative, will still be able to run away with most of the loot. What a small sacrifice to just being always available for them, huh?

Be a heckler. One of the most productive afternoon past times is to go on Twitter, and start ridiculing everything you see or hear. Of course, heckling is an art in itself. It’s not just about calling some government official, panget! when you watch her mouth off government policy on TV sans makeup. You have to have some wit, a commanding grasp of English (or Filipino!), and a wide vocabulary to send your points across. E.g., “She’s pretty...as a pustule!” See the difference?

The most pleasurable, of course, is when you engage in “debates” with your followers or those you follow, especially if it is about a topic of national or historical significance—like why President Aquino should declare June 11, a Monday, a holiday as well! Or, who really owns that Ferrari parked along Salcedo Street. You may soon become a Twitter darling, because you entertain the tweeps with your ridiculous-funny musings! (By the way, follow me on Twitter: @Pulitika2010. I’m no Twitter darling, but I’m a doll just the same. Haha!)

Eat well, exercise properly and get your highlights done the correct way. I cannot help but super-underscore these activities, because who knows when your family will become involved in a scandalous affair that merits national media attention? Always be prepared to look your smashing best, so when those news cameras start rolling, the TV audience will automatically fall in love with you and will decide you and your family are innocent of those unjust accusations.

Exercise every afternoon so you will slim down to a sexy size 6, and go to a reputable salon like Toni&Guy Essensuals to get a really fabulous head job to match your lithe figure. Remember, just because you’ve lived in the US for a while, and you now speak with an American twang, it doesn’t mean you’re really a Caucasian. You’re still Pinoy so super-blond highlights will not always go well with your kayumanggi complexion, honey.

Get rid of your domestic help and do your own housework.
Your bank book and nest egg will appreciate you for it. Why spend P3,500 every month—the minimum pay for househelp these days—when you can do a better job of cleaning your house, washing and ironing your clothes, and cooking for your family eh? Besides, remember how Inday broke your favorite Lladro figurine? Que barbaridad!

Tossing the domestic help and doing your household chores every afternoon will help save you tons of money, and pretty soon, you will become a millionaire! If you manage to not switch on the air conditioners as well, despite the sweltering heat of summer, aba! You might just even become a billionaire!

As for me, I’ll probably go back to watching movies—it was a favorite pasttime which I had to put off because of the impeachment trial. Hmmm...I wonder what’s on today? MIB3? Good grief, them again? Born to Love You? Ick. Every Breath You Take? Yowza! Piranha in 3D?! What the…?!

Waaaah! I want my Coronovelaaaaaah!

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. This piece was originally published on June 1, 2012. Photo of Lito Lapid by Jhett Boroma via Facebook.)

June 03, 2012

Foreign carriers rejoice as House moves to remove airline taxes

MANILA, Philippines - Foreign carriers with connections to Manila welcomed the recent approval on third and final reading of House Bill No. 6022, which seeks to remove burdensome taxes that have been hampering the airlines’ profitability in the country.

In a press statement, Board of Airline Representatives (BAR) First Vice Chairman Steven Crowdey said: “This is indeed positive and exciting news to the international airline community that has been monitoring the progress in legislation. We thank the Aquino administration for supporting the approval of the bill in the Lower House.”

Pushed primarily by Iloilo City Rep. Jerry Treñas, HB 6022 entitled “Rationalizing the Taxes on International Air Carriers operating in the Philippines” aims to amend Sections 28 (A) (3) (a) , 108 (B) (6) and 118 of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, as amended.

The proposed legislation would remove the three-percent common carriers tax and the 2.5 percent tax on gross Philippine billings imposed on foreign carriers, based on reciprocity.BAR has long been pushing for the elimination of these taxes which its members say is the major reason behind the slow development in international air connectivity of the Philippines. (For the rest, pls. click InterAksyon.com. My piece was originally published on May 30, 2012.)

June 02, 2012

Little evil monsters

“THE difference between rebels and nonconformists is that nonconformists don’t take action, [they just get] pissed off when things don’t go their way.”—Lady Gaga, May 22, 2012

I AM writing this piece still quite high from watching the concert of Lady Gaga.

Yes, I am a sinner. And my soul will probably burn in hell.

I am a follower of Beelzebub and will now commit murder, fornication, and all sorts of diabolic mayhem in his name.

But “I don’t give a f%#k!” to quote Gaga. See, that’s another thing I learned from her; I now cuss like a fishmonger’s wife. Such a bad, bad influence, this Gaga.

I am now an evil little monster. (Or considering my weight, an evil big monster!)

Lady Gaga arrives at a Makati hotel

Seriously, I have always been enthralled with Gaga’s music.

Sure, I am not exactly her ideal demographic, but I’ve always loved dance music. So from Gaga’s earliest tunes released in 2008 in her debut album The Fame, and watching her music videos, I became a certified fan. And I knew she was a great talent everyone should watch out for. (Her succeeding albums -The Fame Monster and Born this Way – have become smash hits as well.)

Yes, she reminds people in my age group of Madonna. And Gaga herself has acknowledged the earlier pop diva’s influence on her and her music. Although I must underscore that Madonna’s voice, when she was just starting out, wasn’t as powerful until she was further along in her career, after she had cut a few more albums. In contrast, Gaga’s vocal skills already set her apart from many young singers/musicians her age; she can hit those high notes without even breaking a sweat. And, man, can she dance in those friggin’ high heels! Ach!

(I just hope though that Gaga doesn't turn into an old bitter b**ch by the time she's Madonna's age right now, and a younger, more talented, and popular singer has "copied" her. I used to adore Madonna and still have her on my iTunes playlist, but seriously, what songs do we really love except those she put out in the '80s, at the height of her career?)

Now how could I and thousands of other Filipinos not like Gaga? We identify with her immediately: the daughter of middle-class, two-income parents who raised her Catholic, she studied in a private Catholic school. She has a lot of fabulous gay friends and rebels against perhaps all established norms that constrain our individuality.

Many Filipinos try to be true to themselves, despite the still-restrictive cultural traditions we have. So I think this is why Gaga appeals to us. Her outlandish costumes, semicontroversial lyrics and total, “I don’t give a sh%@” demeanor are what many of us hope for ourselves but our fear of being ostracized by the people we love and respect keeps us from reaching. So we lead loud and outcast lives through her music.

In fact, during the concert on Tuesday (May 22), this was exactly what happened. Even as Gaga performed quite brilliantly onstage, many people in the audience were still stuck to their seats, or merely stood in the mosh pit, capturing Gaga on video via their smartphones or tablet PCs.

I stood up and shimmied as soon as Gaga sang and played her second number, yet the people around me were seated, just singing, or screaming. But, but, but...no dancing?! Gaaak! This made me a tad heartbroken.

But that’s us, Pinoys. We are very reserved even in the face of so much fun and hilarity. We still like cloaking ourselves with some amount of respect or dignity, for fear of being laughed at by the people around us. And yet we shed all inhibitions once we start ridiculing or poking fun at the foibles of others. Reading my Twitter timeline for the afternoon of Chief Justice Renato Corona’s so-called pang-Famas performance on national TV more or less confirmed as much. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

(From WhenInManila.com. For more photos of Gaga's May 21 concert, click here.

Going back to Gaga and the controversy she engendered in Pasay City (where is that cool cat Peewee Trinidad when you need him?), I’m glad her concerts were allowed to push through.

Music can’t all be about lollipops and roses (here’s a nod to Jack Jones), or the Divine (hello, Fatima Soriano). Sometimes it is about flying in the face of accepted ways of life, traditions, and belief systems.

Perhaps, Pasay City Mayor Antonio Calixto and the ex-Manila Mayor Lito Atienza (whose floral shirts I find even more offensive than Gaga’s tight butt) should remember how Elvis Presley’s gyrations onstage in the late ’50s and ’60s were once condemned as “obscene.” Also too, Jerry Lee Lewis could very well be regarded as a pedophile considering that his wife Myla was only 13 at the the time he shacked up with her.

And what about the jazz and bebop stylings of many African-American musicians in the ’40s and ’50s? This kind of music was considered evil as well by a lot of American Bible-thumping believers and noisy prejudiced politicians?

Think about it: rock ‘n’ roll and jazz would never have developed and thrived had many of these so-called controversial musicians and artists been banned, or not given any airplay or stage time. (Jerry Lee Lewis did get blacklisted, but his music career was revived in the mid-’60s by the Europeans who loved him.)

Gaga’s music may not appeal to all, and her lyrics may be misunderstood, but that is no reason to ban her. (Or, as some idiot-plagiarizing-foreign-composers disguised as an “OPM artist” suggested, to change her lyrics.)

As what I argued in the case of the Kulo exhibit at the Cultural Center of the Philippines last year (see “Life and Art”, Something Like Life, August 19, 2011), artists have the right to freely express their thoughts, hopes, wishes, and dreams. No one puts a gun to your head to go see their artwork or, in the case of Gaga, listen to her music or watch her concert.

(Elvis Presley's wild pelvis gyrations were once considered obscene by Bible-thumpers. Photo from www.crazy-frankenstein.com)

I must admit there were some portions of her concert which may be considered, ahem, "adult", so parents really should accompany their kids if they're between the ages of 13 and 17, if the latter are watching her concerts. (This should be strictly enforced not only in concerts of this nature, but also in movie theaters showing PG-rated films as well.)

But what is clear is we can’t be stuck in the old notions of what “music” is. I love Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Barbra Streisand and all these “traditional” singers whose songs are such classics, but continue to be popular today. But Lady Gaga is Lady Gaga. She creates music. And she is as much an artist as those older singers. (Btw, one of Gaga's most ardent fans is Liza "with an Z" Minelli! And Tony Bennett even sings with her on his latest album, "Duets II". )

Music is dynamic and ever-changing with the tastes of people and the times. It is there to entertain and perhaps even inspire. For those reasons alone, we should accept it in all of its forms—Rebecca Black bad, or Gaga good.

* * * *

AN announcement: Foodies masquerading as business executives should be pleased to know that the mucho-exclusive Tower Club is offering a one-month trial on dining memberships for the months of June and July. To know more, call the Concierge Services at 885-7085 local 2021, or visit www.towerclub.com.ph.

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. This piece is an extended version of what was originally published on May 25, 2012.)