Cynthia Alexander

News came last month that singer/songwriter Cynthia Alexander is leaving the Philippines for good. She’ll be heading for Seattle, Washington where I know she’ll be doing great.

There’s a few arguments going around on how Filipinos don’t appreciate our own talent and will wait for others to appreciate them before we recognize the artist. Contrasts between Cynthia Alexander and Jessica Sanchez of American Idol fame has been made as well. Jessica Sanchez is an excellent singer in her own right, but comparing her to Cynthia Alexander’s situation is a bit off.

I’ve been a fan of Cynthia for more than a decade now. I discovered her from NU 107 when her first single from the second album was out, titled U & I. With deep lyrics and a great melody, I had to buy her album, fast. After which I got to memorize all her songs from that album called Rippingyarns. Me and my brothers were lucky to find her first album, Insomnia and Other Lullabyes after years of being out. There was a time in college that I got to see her live at least once every month while me and my brothers trekked all the way to Quezon City just to catch her at Conspiracy. Good times indeed. I already moved to Singapore when she started playing at 19 East, nearer our house, but was lucky enough to get a copy of her album, Walk  Down the Road, from my brothers.

Cynthia has a special place in my musical heart because she is just magnificent. The way she structures her songs, to her deep lyrics and her evolving melodies, her music is just pure art.

People are asking why she’s not famous in the Philippines and why not more people appreciate her songs considering she has won multiple awards in the Philippines and overseas. My personal take is the Philippine market is just not mature for her music. I’m lucky enough to have been exposed to several genres and develop my own taste of music. My aunt, who lived in the states for a while, always blasts 80s music and this gave me my own musical identity. Cynthia’s lyrics are deep, some people don’t get the melody, some just can’t appreciate it and more importantly, people just don’t get as exposed to it as others.

Philippine local music stations has been slammed before for not playing as many local tunes as to songs from the US. I always hear R&B, hip hop and club songs, but not as much Original Pinoy Music (OPM). After the death of NU107, one of Philippines only rock station, knowing more local tunes became much harder. I always thought that music is a great equalizer as anybody can appreciate music but then again, local stations has control on whose music they play and unfortunately most of it is not from the Philippines but from the US. I highly doubt it that we don’t have good bands as I hear them all the time. I guess to be appreciated by the masses, it’s takes more than just talent.  (darn luck :P)

Cynthia Alexander has three studio albums and one live album. You can check out her music at http://www.myspace.com/cynthialexander

If you want some vids, here are a couple of my favorite ones I found on youtube.

I took the picture above during one of her rare gigs here. Such a fitting image for her departure. I know she’ll make it big in the US and I’m happy for those Seattlelites who’ll be catching her gigs soon.

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Startup Weekend Cebu 2012

I was lucky to have been part of Startup Weekend Cebu that happened over the weekend. Held last May 11, 2012 at University of the Philippines Cebu, me and a few of my team mates came down to explore the startup scene in Cebu. I also helped out the organizers to get some some mentors and a judge for the event.

I’m no stranger to Startup Weekends and I’ve been part of a couple here in Singapore. One thing that I always look forward to is the pitches during the first night. Pitches give me a quick idea of what are the problems that people care about and think of and it’s something worth solving or spending time on.

During SW:Cebu over 40 pitches were given which lasted for over an hour. I love the diversity of crowd pitching. From professionals to students, people from different industries and nationalities. The mixture felt great and more experiences will be shared all throughout the event.

Over 40 participants lined up to pitch

I find that the pitch reflects the problems that the participants face. One thing that I observed was how the expats were trying to solve “first world problems” while most of the locals were pitching solutions for entertainment, solving simple problems, staying in touch with their families and such. Coming from the Philippines, I felt a big difference between the pitches. A couple of pitches that really stood out was one about how he can get the best deals for importing luxury cars to the Philippines and another one about how he can rearrange his DVD collections efficiently. These type of problems just strike me as “non problems” and it was quite interesting to see it being pitched in Cebu. Those type of pitches would’ve had a different reaction elsewhere, but in the Philippines where most of the people can’t afford cars, the pitch would be falling into deaf ears. I guess that’s where knowing your market well comes into play.

As the teams form up, the ideas got polished and everybody starts piling up.I wasn’t able to talk to all of them but I noticed that most of them has a great sense of design. Most of the teams were really prepared and some went there to get mentoring and feedback for their ideas.

Teams formed up and ready

One of the teams I talked to was Codetoki. I love the passion of the founder and how she wants to solve the issue of lack of industry knowledge in fresh IT graduates. Her idea was to provide a platform for students to reach out to IT professionals and bridge the gap between school and the industry. She hopes that students and industry professionals will help each other and increase the competent talent pool of IT professionals in the Philippines.

Can’t help myself take a photo with Swan Hat guy

I also talked to AppsXL. I was really impressed with their design capabilities and it showed through their presentation and product. AppsXL is creating a platform for mobile developers to easily create applications using native code through several ready made templates. A number of apps on the Appstore follow a standard template, so if you are a developer and want to create a quick app for one of your clients, you can just purchase a template from AppsXL, skin the app and you’re ready to go. I can imagine AppsXL being similar to wordpress theme makers like woothemes but for a more niche market. Although their final presentation wasn’t solid, I think there’s a market for the idea. I wasn’t really convinced on how they priced their templates, $100 for a template, as I think it was quite low. Hope to see more from AppsXL as demand for mobile applications is rising.

One of my own personal goals aside from knowing more about the tech scene in Cebu was meeting the community. I have to thank Tina Ampers and Ian Tusil for inviting us and making us feel welcome.

Tina is the founder of techtalks.ph, a technology meetup at Cebu. It’s a great way to meet the tech community in Cebu. Aside from her, I met some awesome guys from PhilDev, DevCon, MorphLabs, Kickstart Ventures by Globe, IdeaSpace by Smart, Microsoft, Google, a few local blogger communities and a lot more to mention.

I was excited to see all the support that everyone put in and I hope the teams that formed will continue building on their projects. From experience, some of the teams in Startup Weekend fizzle out but I hope the winning teams will continue on their projects and ship the products out for the market to try.

The winning teams at the end of the weekend were teams that focused on real problems. The first place winner was team WaitKnowMore. They are trying to solve the problem of waiting in line for common services like paying bills or waiting in line for the doctor. Their system will allow an establishment to inform a customer when it’s their turn in line while allowing advertisers to publicize deals for the customers waiting in line. There are existing systems like this out there, but I haven’t really seen or tried it personally. It’ll be great to see this properly implemented and give relief to waiting customers all over.

Keep yourself updated with the Startup Weekend Cebu team and their follow up events via their site at http://cebu.startupweekend.org/. If you are interested to support technology events in the Philippines, either in Cebu or Manila, feel free to ping me and I’ll try to connect you to the right persons.

P.S. Make sure you stop by Cebu’s natural wonders. We stopped by Matayupan falls and the view was breath taking. You always see waterfalls on TV, but being there in person feeling the breeze of the water in your face is just refreshing. Cebu has a lot more to offer so make sure you explore the wonderful island.


Help Typhoon Victims in Philippines

UPDATE: For my friends in Singapore. You can easily donate by going to your UOB or DBS internet banking portals. Go to “Pay Bills” and look for “RED CROSS – PHILIPPINES TROPICAL STORM”. Any amount would help a lot.

UPDATE: Philippine Red Cross now has an official PayPal account you can donate to. Visit http://redcross.org.ph/ to help out.

If you haven’t been watching the news lately, my lovely country just got hit by a major typhoon.

And the reason you can’t see my country is because that huge ass typhoon is right above it 😦

I know I have a few readers all over the world and it’ll be great if you can help everybody back at home by donating any amount. $2 to you might be nothing, but even something as small as that can help a lot. I’m not good at convincing people but hopefully these videos can make you pass some of your change to people who need it the most.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bCW7IkICKA

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHxA0007Hh0

The loss of life and property is just devastating and any help would be greatly appreciated.

There are many ways to help and this might be the easiest one if you’re not in the Philippines

If you have any questions or inquiries on what happened and how you can help, just leave a comment or talk to me at the contact page.

Update: You can also donate via PayPal here: http://www.txtpower.org/2009/09/philippines-help-typhoon-victims-in-luzon-philippines/

Update 2: More options for you to donate via PayPal here: http://www.philippineaid.com/

~Eugene