Benjamin longing for home
Where Benjamin Alves plans to visit once it’s safe to travel
Benjamin longing for home
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - September 15, 2020 - 12:00am

A sound mind in a sound body.

That’s what everybody is trying to achieve during this pandemic...when everybody is grappling with cabin fever. Benjamin Alves is not an exception. Since the lockdown was imposed in March, he has been living alone, caught unprepared and unable to join his family in Guam.

“I’ve been making sure that my mind is as healthy as my body,” he told Funfare.

What keeps him busy is writing (poems, etc.). Perhaps not many people know that Benjamin, an AB English Literature summa cum laude, graduated from the University of Guam. A plantito, he enjoys watching his little plants grow (that’s the first thing he checks as soon as he wakes up). He’s also into the floral arrangement business. (Order through SMS/Viber/Whatsapp: +63917-1080528.)

“I get in touch with my family regularly,” said Benjamin, “more so now.” (During this interview three weeks ago, Benjamin mentioned that Guam had gone back to lockdown.) “But my family is doing well, though. My mom is a health worker so she’s most vulnerable. It’s worrisome because she goes to the clinic every day. She’s been very careful and in high spirits.”

Aside from shoots, what Benjamin has put on hold are investments...and travel. When restrictions are lifted, the first thing that Benjamin wants to do is go to the beach.

“I miss the beach. I’ve been watching travel vlogs and I also want to visit Sapporo in Japan and go to Europe. All in time.”

For sure, first in his itinerary is home sweet home and to revisit the old familiar places such as (those we have visited):

Reading, writing and taking it easy while locked down alone. Benjamin would rather show a sample of his flower arrangement business than his whole face. Order via SMS/Viber/Whatsapp +63917-1080528.

• Senator Angel Leon Guerrero Santos (Latte Park) Memorial Park, also known as Latte Stone Park that offers a glimpse into ancient Chamorro culture which used seven to eight lattes as foundation for homes and other buildings.

• Fort Nuestra Señora de la Soledad (or Fort Soledad), the last of four Spanish fortifications built in the village of Umatac, located at the top of a steep bluff. Did Ferdinand Magellan really first make a stop in Guam before proceeding east to the Philippines 1,200 miles away?

• The Baptist Church in the Inarajan Village (the church facade reminded us of the one in Cagsawa, Albay, which was destroyed by the Mayon Volcano eruption years ago). Inarajan Village is rich in cultural flair, home to the Gef Pa’go Chamorro Cultural Village which is a favorite visitor spot.

• The Mabini Historical Marker. Read the marker: On this site (Asan Point) lived Apolinario Mabini, immortalized in Philippine history as the Sublime Paralytic, the Brain of the Philippine Revolution, and the secretary of Foreign Affairs of the First Philippine Republic under Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo together with 51 other Philippine heroes among them Generals Artemio Ricarte, Pio del Pilar, Mariano Llanera, Col. Maximo Hizon, Pablo Ocampo, Leon Flores, Pancracio Paltin and Maximo Tolentino.

• The Pedro Calungsod Monument, showing the future Filipino saint on the beach being subdued by a villager chieftain who resented the 17-year-old shielding the leader of a religious mission.

• The Two Lovers Point, located at the top of a cliff overlooking the sea into which, according to legend, leaped two lovers who tied their hair (men were said to have worn their hair long) together because their families disapproved of their romance, very Romeo and Juliet! Visiting lovers usually leave heart-shaped key chains on the fence the way they do at a bridge in Paris, with locks whose keys are thrown into the river.

LA Santos plays young soldier in Mamasapano

Anytime now, cameras will start rolling for Mamasapano (formerly 26 Hours: Escape from Mamasapano), the initial venture of Borracho Film Production, a company put up by celebrity lawyer Ferdy Topacio during a drinking session (that’s why it is so called). One of those recently signed up was singer LA Santos (photo) who will play a young soldier.

Dubbed by fans as “The Singing Idol,” 19-year-old LA has been making waves since he launched his professional career in 2016.

Born Lnard Antonio Brioso-Santos, LA knew that he wanted to make music at an early age and worked to perfect his craft.

In addition to fine-tuning his singing, he also learned how to play the guitar and piano and pursued a degree in music production at De La Salle University-College of St. Benilde.

Just like Bruno Mars, Michael Jackson and even Bamboo who he cites as among his influences, LA also developed slick dance moves. Being a varsity basketball player during his high school years, the very limber young man didn’t take long to become an exciting all-around performer.

Not surprisingly, LA has also been invited to perform alongside Jukebox Queens Imelda Papin, Claire de la Fuente and Eva Eugenio as well as foreign hitmakers like Patti Austin, the Stylistics and Air Supply. With his soulful vocals and breathtaking moves, LA easily connected with audiences and has cultivated a steady, loyal following.

As a singer-songwriter who has been writing his own songs since he was 16, LA has also been quite prolific. From 2017 to the present, he has released a full-length album and numerous singles and not even the ongoing pandemic can slow him down.

His latest single, Hibang is an engaging, bouncy number that will also remind fans of his previous big hit, Tinamaan. LA said the song, written by Enos Perez and produced by veteran record producer Romel “Sancho” Sanchez alongside Vonne Vallon, is basically an invitation to dance.

As evidenced by the increasing popularity of the popular short video social networking platform, TikTok, dancing has become a very popular pastime for millions of homebodies as a result of COVID-19. A song like Hibang can only magnify the frenzy.

“It’s kinda like the feeling of dancing in the club and feeling like you have your own world,” LA further elaborated.

LA also considers Hibang unique in the sense that it has a nice retro vibe with a mix of R&B. Considering that the ongoing pandemic is not likely to be resolved anytime soon, LA says the song should also resonate strongly with anyone who has to deal with the resulting lockdowns.

“In my case, I really miss just chillin’ and hanging out with friends. So yes, I think Hibang can also help remember and fondly reminisce about the good times. It’s that kind of song,” he further pointed out.

Released by 7K Sounds, Hibang is now available on all digital streaming platforms. To coincide with the song’s release, a music video will be released that will also launch the Hibang Dance Challenge contest.

7K Sounds is a promising new record label with sought after TV director Alco Guerrero and seasoned musician Romel “Sancho” Sanchez at the helm. Expect more exciting and cutting-edge new releases from this label in the days to come.

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

BENJAMIN ALVES
Philstar
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