why i'm reactivating sonic manila research now

i am reactivating sonic manila research after i have unboxed the last of my moving boxes.

this is the long of it...
rewind: sonic manila research is an acoustic ecology research project i piloted in late 2014. it was intended to gather sound samples from areas in the city that have representative sonic characters. sonic character is a coined phrase that refers to sounds that represent the usual acoustic condition of a space. it is like taking a photograph of a place to show how it usually looks like. it is a project i conceived after ikotoki para, and while working on composite: environment in performance and project bakawan’s listeningterminals. as part of the artmaking process, these three required me (a curator) to try to understand sonic character of particular areas in the university of the philippines diliman campus. i started discussing possible partnership for this project with college of music, school for urban and regional planning, and the college of engineering-digital signal processing laboratory, but had to put things on hold because of some changes in my university employment.

the other rewind: in 2014 my non-tenured contract (which i held since 2007) with the university of the philippines center for ethnomusicology as collections manager and archivist expired. in its place was a 6mos contract as consultant but still without tenure-secured appointment in sight. so, i’ve decided to move to hong kong to change course, to strengthen my art by learning new things and rediscover others. i did the big school (aka phd). by august 2015 i was living and studying in faraway tuen mun, new territories, hong kong. a year after, august 2016, i was diagnosed with cancer. i had to move back to manila. change course again. while doing treatment, i was invited to teach at the university of the philippines college of fine arts on a tenure-track (i love these guys! especially my department chair, who despite my medical condition thought hiring me is a good idea.). i accepted it. after 18mos of progressive treatment (aka mutation series), i got the green light to return to hong kong to continue school; with the condition of returning to manila every month for continuation of my medical protocols. i was granted too a study-leave by the university until december 31, 2019; with the condition of returning service the semester after i graduate. i returned to the big school in january 2018. finished and passed my phd requirements in october 2019. maximising my leave privileges, i spent november and december traveling to korea, singapore, banaue (philippines), japan, hong kong again, bataan (philippines), tagaytay (philippines), singapore again. on the first day of second semester in january 2020, i finally flew back to manila, my default home.

closer to now: manila 2020 had a frantic start. too many things were happening all at the same time, which means back to the normal grind, normal pre-phd and pre-cancer. towards the second week of february i started getting ill again. troubling post-mutation days. i was compelled to cancel most of my projects and reduce my interaction with other people, especially crowds. so i was, to some degree, already social distancing and periodically on quarantine at least a month before the rest of manila.

now on lockdown: march 15, 2020 manila started the enhanced community quarantine, which was scheduled to end on april 14, then extended to april 30, then another extension to may 15 (as of this writing). as i mentioned on the other blog, this gave me "a surplus of something which i have had very little for most of my adult life: free time." and i've been spending most of this free time unbalikbayanboxing--unboxing my moving boxes and digital data carriers. i’m now in the last bit of inventorying, cataloguing and shelving my stuff. more importantly though, this unboxing inspired me (instead of changing yet course again) to pick up where I left-off in 2015, informed by 5years-rollercoaster ride of a life.

this is the short of it...
why this project in time of covid?