Tag Archives: manila

Life thoughts: My year in a nutshell

I just want to use this post to thank God for all the things that he has done and taught me this year also as I look forward for the coming new year. I’m gonna try to attempt to do a monthly looking back starting

-started the year with a very great project with a jazz pianist
-I had dengue that month til February
-was also mentally and spiritually preparing for the launch of our church album for February

-was still recovering from dengue
-dengue left me with Vertigo which was so dreadful for me. The 2 sundays after i got home from the hospital was very unforgettable because i passed out those 2 sundays after morning rehearsals for church.
-a big blessing would be the launch of the album which i produced. Everyone loved it and the Music during the launch was the best or church music ministry has done so far

March to April were the most painful months i have had this year. I rejected from having a scholarship that would allow me to have my graduate studies in composition in Germany. I was given full assurance that i would have it so i actually never planned for anything else when i started the year. It was indeed painful but God has other plans that i did not know during that point. I felt like my whole world shattered in front of me since almost everyone was expecting that i leave at the middle of the year (or at least that’s how i felt).

-my April will much be the same as my March until the last week.
-was hired to a piano studio to teach voice and piano.
-during the last week of that month, i received an email and a text message asking if i would like to work in de la Salle- College of st. Benilde which is a very prominent school, and in UP college of music extension program. Both of these are my dream work places aside from Febias College of Bible where i was teaching since last year.

i got all those jobs. My self esteem was boosted again.

-shuffling 4 jobs and a couple of projects at the side ain’t easy. But it certainly is a blessing.
-my friends start teasing me of getting married with my girlfriend because of all the work i have

-was surprised to receive an email inviting me to perform in Malaysia.

-probably the busiest month of my year.
-international silent film festival
-and a couple more events that needed some new works. This month i pushed myself to the limit and wrote 1 piece of new music a week.

-my birthday month
-spill over of work from August

-went to Malaysia for the sound bridge music festival
-after the last concert, went straight home for ara’s special project with my piece also to be performed. That weekend was one for the books. No sleep, but had 2 works premiered on just one weekend.
-ara graduated with honors. Super proud of her.

-started with maybe my biggest project ever. I had to do arrangements for a theatre production on December. That’s 16 songs in 3 weeks.

-i joined a jingle writing contest for the Philippine dental association, and surprisingly won the thing with a jingle i did in just 6 hours (all arrangement and recording and mixing and all)
-blessed to have a lot of work which made it a very merry Christmas for me. Hehe

Next year, great things are already lined up for me. I am excited, yet anxious of those things that i have no assurance of. But looking back this year, i think i dont have any reason to be afraid of the coming year. He has it all planned out already 🙂

Merry Christmas and a blessed and exciting new year to you!


Aguyoy: Manila Composers Lab 2012


The MANILA COMPOSERS LAB, with the friendly support of the ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung, in cooperation with the University of the Philippines College of Music, Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, and Goethe-Institut presents Manila Composers Lab 2012: Aguyoy(Gentle Wind), a series of composition workshops to be participated by young composers from Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and Philippines and concerts featuring composer Bernd Asmus and trio Chambre d’Ecoute from Germany.

Concert I: Tacet: Tribute to John Cage’s 100th Year
July 17 2012, Tuesday
UP College of Music Abelardo Hall Auditorium
Pre-concert talk at 5:30 pm
Open house 6:45 pm
Concert starts 7:00 pm


Nicolaus A. Huber *1939
Clash music (1988) for pair of cymbals
Demijour (1985/86) for oboe, cello and piano

Bernd Asmus *1959
KNELL (1988) for piano

Heinz Holliger *1939
Studie über Mehrklänge (1971) for oboe solo

Jonas Baes *1961
Aguyoy (2006) for any combination of seven instruments

Adriana Hölszky *1953
Nouns to Nouns II (1983) for cello solo

Robin Hoffmann *1970
Birkhahnstudie (2005) for Birkhahnlocker

György Kurtág *1926
Signs, Games and Messages for cello solo
Hommage Ă  John Cage (Faltering words)
Jelek II op. 5b
In Memoriam Ferenc Wilheim
Souvenir de Balatonboglár
Im Volkston

Mark Barden *1980
Chamber (2006/07) for three (untrained amplified voices)

Concert II
July 20, 2012, Friday
UP College of Music Mini Hall
Open house 6:45 pm
Concert starts 7:00 pm


Nadir Vassena *1970
Amras-Turm Fragment (1996/97) for oboe and cello

Dominic Quejada *1978
Sprache: Study 1 (2012) for oboe, cello and piano
Composition commissioned by the Manila Composers Lab funded by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation

Feliz Anne Macahis *1987
Bellatrix (2012) for oboe, cello and piano
Composition commissioned by the Manila Composers Lab funded by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation

Alexander John Villanueva *1989
ikatlong silakbo (third heartbeat) (2012) for oboe, cello and piano
Composition commissioned by the Manila Composers Lab funded by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation

Juliane Klein *1966
Aus der Wand die Rinne 1, 3, 5 (1996-1999) for cello, oboe and piano
-simultaneous performance-

Concert III: Young Composers’ Night
July 27, 2012, Friday
UP College of Music Abelardo Hall Auditorium
Open house 6:45 pm
Concert starts 7:00 pm

This culminating concert will feature sketches for piano, cello, oboe, and other instruments done by the workshop participants throughout the workshop period.


For additional information on the concerts, you can contact Ms. Ara Janelle Foronda at +6393 271 80634 + or Mr. Alexander John L. Villanueva at +63932 449 0426.


Food blog: Divisoria and Binondo

Divisoria, Manila’s ultimate flea market and Binondo, Manila’s chinatown for today’s road trip. My dad just decided after lunch that we go. So then I thought, some of the best food I’ve tasted are here. So here goes the Blackberry sticking out to take pictures in the middle of a chaotic crowd finding their way to their whereabouts. It’s only here that I see streets filled not by cars but by people, squeezed further in by bangketa vendors selling some of the cheapest stuff you can’t even find within your budget in the best and biggest malls around Manila. So here goes:

First for the food trip is a very delicious Korean bottled drink that me and my dad bought in a stall in a ‘mall’ called 999 mall. It tastes like grape juice that’s not purple, and it has aloe vera bits that you can liken to buko bits. 50php for a bottle.

On the road, while finding our way through the chaotic crowd, we came across a food shop that sells fried siopao. Yes! FRIED! The problem is, this is not usually the shop where we really get our fried siopao. So, not really the best I’ve eaten. 16php for one. (I’ll have the real deal later)

So we got what we went for outside Divisoria mall (which are the cheapest. Yes, the stores outside sell the cheapest stuff, but of course, at your own risk!), we even saw a couple literally trying to kill each other (not a really good sight!). In the foodcourt of 999 mall, 3F level, I tried this small pastry shop’s Macapuno Pie and Chicken Pot Pie. Really good!!! It’s Simple Bread by Chef Andrew. The Macapuno pie is not that sweet. It has the softness that you would get when you eat an egg pie with Macapuno on top that is so good! The Chicken pot pie is also the same. It is really soft. It has corn and carrots and some cream which adds to its softness. Crispy outside and soft and creamy inside. 22php each.

After Divisoria, we opted to pass by Ongpin where we get our favorite snacks when we go to this side of Manila. Near the corner of Tomas Mapua and Ongpin is an age-old store that you wouldn’t recognize just by looking at the signs (they just pasted the store’s name below a sign the reads ‘Fujifilm’. Resourceful!). They sell the perfectly tasting sugar cane juice and the best-tasting fried siopao. Yes! 2 different fried siopaos in a day. But, I tell you, this is way way better. It has a meatball with chives and subtle onions inside. The meat tastes good, lightly salted. And because it is freshly cooked, the steam just goes up after the first bite. Even though it is a store of discrete measures, people know what this store is all about even though there are no tables to accomodate diners. I tell you, the best tasting fried siopao in town! 15php for the sioapo and 12php for a glass of sugarcane juice.

The day’s not done. For dinner, we head to a vegan resto that I discovered online.

the Korean drink that tastes like grape juice with aloe vera bits 50php

the Korean drink that tastes like grape juice with aloe vera bits 50php

the first fried siopao store where we were at

the first fried siopao store where we were at

where they 'fry' the siopao 16php

where they ‘fry’ the siopao 16php

macapuno pie 22php

macapuno pie 22php

chicken pot pie 22php

chicken pot pie 22php

best fried siopao! Ongpin cor. Tomas Mapua

best fried siopao! Ongpin cor. Tomas Mapua

sugar cane juice 12php

sugar cane juice 12php

best fried siopao 15php

best fried siopao 15php

Alexander John ‘AJ’ Villanueva
posted from my Blackberry

some of my music

For all who are reading this, I want you to know that I am a musician by heart. I am studying composition in the Philippines. I and my family have high dreams for myself. Music is my first and forever love.

Food just comes second. I search for the best restaurants and food stalls here in Manila, and I tell you what I think about it. It’s fun after all! Like any Asian country, Manila is a food Mecca–a place where food is part of tradition, rituals, and everyday life. I will blog things about that, don’t worry!

But for the mean time, I give you some of my music that I chose to love.

This is me conducting!