Thursday, December 28, 2006
Since I cannot incorporate it with this current blog, I'm providing this link for me to go back in time, sometime in the future. These were my jayclopsisms.
After scouring the pirated DVD-filled ground floor of the old Mantex store, these were hard choices, but definitely stood out in the end: Shortbus and The Dead Girl. (When I told the vendor to preview Shortbus, she cackled like she was being tickled in her funny bone.)
The next cluster of cards I gave to the maid of the Mrs. Gauce's, a family friend of ours and president of the high school I went to. One of her son-in-laws was my sponsor in college, Tito Henry Lopez, who was the father of one of my classmates in high school. I dunno if until now Topher still doesn't know. Her sisters though, knew and even went with the rest of the family during my graduation dinner which Tito Henry treated. And believe it or not, I met him after four years during my graduation. He remained anonymous, helping me get through college by sending allowances and subsidies for tuition excesses. I sat in awe during that dinner and I can't even speak well. Perhaps, I was just overwhelmed. We talked some more. That was one and a half year ago I last saw him. I let him know what's happening with my life through Tita Marjo, her sister in law, who I ocassionally get to talk with during the few times I went to school.
If there's one person I am totally grateful of, it would be him. I would definitely call him tomorrow, and would surely want to meet him.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
It's also a living testimony why Al Gore is so much better than b-b-b-Bush.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Last March 2005, I had my short internship with a local newspaper here, which would end my practicum for 3 agencies. It was days before my graduation that I did a story on the fire prevention month focusing on the status of city buildings that are considered fire hazards. It landed on the front page and I think what made it more interesting is the fact that one interview I had revealed that even the building of the Bureau of Fire Protection was a fire hazard. I learned a lot from doing the story. I realized that if concerned agencies don’t give a shit about the situation the city would be a potential inferno.
I watched The Queen, Brick and Elephant over the weekend. All three films at some point dealt with themes on loss and detachment, which I realized strikingly coincide with the other, more somber side of Christmas that is obviously overridden with superficiality and commercialism.
The Queen is an intimate examination of the life of the royal family during the death of Princess Diana, particularly Elizabeth II’s struggle between private mourning and the public’s outcry for a display of emotion. You cannot take your eyes off Helen Mirren, who plays the Queen and her exchanges with Michael Sheen, who’s perfectly cast as Tony Blair.
Considered to be one of big misses in awards season, Brick tells the story of Brendan Frye (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) a young adolescent who chose to shy away from society but finds himself enmeshed in a dangerous cat-and-mouse game after he finds out that the girl he only loved is dead leading him into the dark recesses of drug mafia. I actually had a hard time catching up with the ‘druggie’ language or whatever it’s called, which is like reading A Clockwork Orange.
Gus Van Sant’s Elephant has enough grounds to shake up conventional filmmaking, (After all, isn’t this what independent cinema is all about? Hehe) and indeed it went to win the most revered Palm D’Or during the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. The film is obviously inspired by the gun-shooting incident in a high school in some US state which killed a number of young adolescents. It scrutinizes America’s policy on gun safety and ownership. The film is almost boring as we watch the characters in long extended walks from behind, which gives us a feel of detachment and piles up into an unspeakable crime. It’s sad that this is actually happening, and in the misunderstood world of these kids, everybody is like a stranger watching them on a glass bowl.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
I was hoping to get a dose of silence but these people can't seem to be getting enough. Great. What a pleasurable way to welcome Christmas.
Many years back (childhood seems to be eons ago) I used to recall hanging old socks as makeshift Christmas stockings in our old house hoping to find goodies the next morning. And yes, me and my siblings would find, ocassionally, twenty-peso bills and, albeit a kid that I am, I knew that it wasn't Santa who'd put those bills but either my father or mother.
For a moment, I wanted to put a sock in our dilapidated door, a soiled one at that, and prayed fervently that I would find relief inside it the next morning I wake up.
It was my third time to go to SM last Friday and was hesitant because I knew it would take me an hour or so to get there from the usual 20-30 minutes. But no, the ride was smooth and there was no aberya along the way. Curious as I am for such a strange phenomena (it's Dec. 22 and there was little or no build-ups at all), I asked the taxi driver who I know would give a substantive observation. He said that there was no traffic because the new traffic lights were removed. It will be re-installed come January 2007. We then talked a few more of our observations on this phenomena.
Apparently, what caused the heavy traffic, aside from the obvious fact that everybody's on Christmas rush, is the city's newly installed traffic light system. The allocation for the project was indeed huge as I later learned, and if the purpose was to elevate the city's status into some big metropolitan junkie, it sure did. Traffic is after all, a success indicator of civilization.
During last Thursday's Christmas party, each of the staff received an 800-peso worth of gift certificate from NCCC Mall. I availed half of it yesterday and was welcomed by a multitude of people, the thickness could be likened to a glob of goo. The line was stagerring and there goes my vertigo again. When I came down, anxious to get home, I heard Chad (from the reality TV-show-contest Pinoy Dream Academy) and managed to get a far glimpse of him in the mall's activity center. I couldn't take anymore the loud shrieks so I eagerly rode a jeepney.
It clogged somewhere in Uyanguren and the badjaos went waving their empty plastic Coke cups at the disgruntled drivers and commuters. One badjao woman was carrying her months-old child and was incessantly knocking the glass window of a van. She waved once more the cup, gestured her hand towards her mouth and then pointing her child, which obviously meant 'para pang-kain lang ng anak ko". Indeed the influx of the badjaos during this season is quite alarming considering they seem to have grown in numbers each year. I fear that their population might reach to unmanageable proportions that the government might consider, for lack of an efficient social services policy, gassing them up into some chamber similar to that in the Holocaust.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
1 red apple, cored and chopped
1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced
1/2 cup red seedless grapes, sliced (or a 1/4 cup of raisins)
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/4 cup mayonnaise (or plain yogurt if you must)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the mayo (or yogurt) and the lemon juice. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. Mix in the apple, celery, grapes, and walnuts. Serve on a bed of fresh lettuce.
Recipe courtesy of elise.com
Yesterday I had my leave and I schedule my choreographing stint with the MGB people but it was canceled because some of the members got injured. Can you believe it? I'm teaching them the sequence of We're All in This Together from High School Musical. I have to view that scene bazillion times to memorize some of the steps. I went to the mall instead and bought ingredients for spaghetti and fruit salad, and scoured pirated DVD copies (not again) of Brick and Elephant, which is directed by Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting) and won the 2003 Cannes Film Festival top prize.
I was excited to watch Thank You For Smoking last night. The film is written and directed by Jason Reitman (son of bigwig producer Ivan Reitman). Smoking is centered in the life of Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), a PR man from the Academy of Tobacco studies, the advocacy front of America's tobacco conglomerate. He goes on a PR offensive to counter the increasing campaign of the government against smoking which of course will hurt the industry. The campaign is led by Sen. Ortolan Finnistere (William H. Macy). The senator wants to put a poison sign in every cigarette pack. You should see the silly redundancy of the slogan and how it was justified by the senator's inept staff.
Naylor is joined by the MOD (merchants of death) squad who is composed of Maria Bello, whose character is on alcohol advocacy, and David Koechner, on the gun promotion. Eventually, Naylor is screwed by journalist Heather Holloway (Katie Holmes) as he reveals some privileged information when they have sex. He is forced to attend a congressional inquiry where his moral dilemma come into play. Despite his MOD stature, he is god to his son, who is on the road to become the exact replica of his father.
Ultimately, the film sheds a soft light in the morality of choice and responsibility, and Reitman's script is unapologetically hilarious and frank without being preachy and imposing at all. The satire touches on the whole gamut of the spin culture in corporate America and a piercing commentary on the political environment. Eckhart delivers his lines like he is some James Bond of PR. His conversation with his son (Cameron Bright) on 'Why is American government the greatest government of all?' or something like that is one of my favorite scenes. Naylor refutes that the question is inherently flawed and criticized his kid's teacher for such question.
photo from: empiremovies.com
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Over the weekend, I watched Little Miss Sunshine and Little Children until the wee hours of the morning. Sunshine is the debut of filmmakers Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, with an ensemble cast composed of Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, the comebacking Alan Arkin, Paul Dano and the talented Abigail Breslin, as the honest kid in search of that elusive beauty crown. Some of the cast are up for acting nods like Breslin, Collette and Carell, who is playing a gay Proust scholar. Carell's take on the role recalls Jim Carrey's move when he ventured into films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Touted by critics as a 'gem' of a small film, Sunshine delights with its honest script and very nuanced portrayal of each of the characters. It's a road trip movie but the one in which not only an individual gets his or her shot at self-rediscovery but the entire family. There's something really striking in the scenes where they have to push their van to get it started and graciously jump in one by one.
One of the characters I really liked the most was Paul Dano who plays the brother of Breslin. During the opening scenes, we learned that Dano has taken a vow of silence in preparation of his stint with the airforce. He is reading Nietzche and writes down in a pad whenever he wants to say something. He reluctantly goes with the family on the trip to California for the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. While on the road and doing riddles, his little sister and his uncle discovered he's color-blind thus he can't pursue the airforce. He prodded to stopped the van as if he is about to vomit and then run amok. He screamed THE F WORD, thus breaking his vow of silence for nine months. This sequence for me is really one the defining and shining moments of the film.
Children, on the other hand, is an adaptation of a novel of the same title and directed for the screen by Todd Field. Kate Winslet plays Sarah Pierce who is caught in an adulterous affair with neighbor Brad played by Patrick Wilson. The character and relationships explored in the film is a smart critique of the seemingly antiseptic superficiality of suburban America.
Winslet's character is alluded to Madam Bovary, and this is made obvious during one of the scenes wherein the lady neighbors gathered for their scheduled literary discussion to discuss on what else but Madam Bovary. The acerbic glances and piercing dialogue that ensued in fact is a point of explanation of Winslet's character, her eventual transformation and the choices she has and is going to make as the movie draws to its end.
One of the interesting characters though is Ronnie McGorvey, played by Jackie Earl Haley, who's quite a revelation in this one. I never saw him before in other films, and he looks like a creep, and yes, he plays a creep in the film, at least from the neighbors' perception. He is constantly being hounded by the people around him due to his 'psycho-sexual disorder' to the point that banners were pasted along the neighborhood saying "Are Your Children Safe?", with his mugshot below. Ronnie went on to masturbate in front of his date to drive home this Freudian point. His only confidante, his mother, eventually succumbed to cardiac arrest, after a fight with their neighbor Larry, who megaphoned the neighborhood shouting "your children are not safe" in the middle of the night. Crushed by her death and the deathnote 'please be a good boy', Ronnie mutilated his penis and ran towards the playground.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
I got a pirated DVD copy of the film in a stall in one of the malls here. In stalls like these, they usually couldn't get the movie posters right, and Babel's poster was particularly disturbing. You have Brad Pitt's bod superimposed in the foreground of the real poster. Looks like he's some kind of harbinger of unity or something. But it's good to see he doesn't look like Brad Pitt in the film. Think Tom Cruise with the pepper-colored hair in Collateral only more haggard.
Just like Amorres Perros and 21 Grams, Inarittu seems to be enmeshed in the whole concept of humanity's interconnectedness and dependency that doing a horror might not be really soon for him and his writer-collaborator Guillermo Arriaga. If these partners continue to make movies like these, they could very well create an entire genre in drama. I heard of the news that the partners have parted ways after this movie.
The story is spurred by an accident which connected the lives of the characters, albeit the individual stories do not necessarily impact or make a moral argument of the other. Two Morrocan boys unintentionally shot Cate Blanchett in the neck on a travel bus and made Brad Pitt go berserk. The couple is on a soul-searching trip to save their marriage while leaving their kids to their Mexican nanny who carries them into the Mexico border because she has to attend his son's wedding. The rifle used by the two children was originally owned by a Japanese whose deaf-mute daughter hungry for love waves her 'hairy monster' in public just to get attention.
It is set in four countries: US, Morroco, Mexico and Japan. And you have unknown actors speaking in different languages as well. Fine performances from the deaf-mute Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi and Adriana Barraza.
The melancholy is all the more stressed courtesy the Moroccan landscapes and Gustavo Santaolalla's score. Watching the vast scenery and listening to the painful guitar riffs feelt like I was watching Brokeback Mountain. Click here for reviews of Babel.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
The novel's language is a mixture of nadsat (teen gangster dialect with a mix of Russian) and hints of Shakesperian prose. Burgess is a literary genius. The language is so cunning it shapes the novel and ultimately the characters. If it were not for the mini-glossary provided for the one who wrote the afterword, I'd still be figuring what tolchok, devotchka, and bazoomny means. I actually finished this book last week and I almost forgot to write about it. Next blog: written in nadsat language.
Monday, December 11, 2006
You've never understood me, just as what you always insist that I never understood you. I do. But you may never have the heart to see that. Even if you may not believe me, as I always say, I have passed that stage of blame and remorse. Though you always insist how childish, immature and irresponsible I am. I never get to see that point. I have accepted the fact that you may have to spend your lifetime with someone who nearly killed you. Even if you may not believe me, I tried my damn best to get along. There are just irreconcilable differences that you insist on reconciling.
I never take pride that I'm earning a bit more than you do. I never intended to bring myself the subject of your constant ire because of this. Even if you may never believe me, and even if it may show that I do not, I want to help this family, and I want to see us together. Please see it in your heart, that despite the many fights and misunderstanding, I have stayed and never left this family. It may never be the same but we're family, and it counts.
I'm sorry I raised my voiced when we fight. I'm sorry if I hurt you. If someday I will go away, please understand me. I'm your son, and I'm not perfect. I make mistakes, and even if you may not believe me, I continue to look up to you as a father.
I fear that I may have failed my promise. Remember when you were in your deathbed, you told me to take care of my brother and sister when you're gone? Now that we're in the midst of hopelessness, I can't even find their hands and reached out to them. Their hearts have grown cold. I cannot help them as much as I can.
But I hope you understand me. I know you understand the situation. It's not my fault Ma. You left us, and I was too young to understand why such terrible things happen to good people. I know that if you're here, you could always pull our family together. I refused to dwell on this painful past, but the thought of you makes my heart ache. Perhaps God knows better.
I just hope I can see it through. And I wish you were here.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Saturday, December 09, 2006
First, me and two of my officemates, Mitchie and Ela, went to a thai massage parlor that was offering a 50% discount as their promo. Mitchie prodded us first-timers to try it and so the 'burdened' person that I am, I decided to go along with them and have my entire body pampered.
I was getting giggly and thanked God the masseur's hand didn't go anywhere nearer the groin. I swear I could've let out a snort and that would be too embarassing. Later, the presses became painful and the masseur must've noticed the twitching in my face. But all was good, especially the arabesque-like stretch. Maybe next time I would try the jasmine oil. I thanked the masseur after the ceremonial thai bow.
Another friend of mind wanted to eat at a Korean restaurant called Kimchi. He tutors Koreans so he's kind of familiar to the food. Kimchi, by the way in Korean, is a kind of delicacy - a super-duper hot delicacy at that - made up of leafy vegetables (pechay or cabbage) drowned in gazillions of chili. He ordered the kimchi chige (kimchi soup) which was served with eight side dishes - toge (mongo sprouts), coleslaw with sesame, chili leaves, pickles, kimchi, and others I can't name. There was kim pop, a kind of rice sushi with egg, korean radish and ground beef in the middle.
As we were eating, the TV was tuned to a Korean channel. I noticed the ads were all endorsed by famous Koreans like Rain, Jerry Yan and Joo In Sung.
Before I went home, I dropped by the nearby McDonalds for some calorie overload - their new Strawberry milshake. My jaw ached because the straw was so soft and the shake was so thick. As I was sipping it inside the jeep, a grotesque creature in the other jeep was staring at me maniacly licking his lips with his tongue. It must have been a hallucination but when I glanced back seconds after, he was still doing the same thing. I immediately brushed off the thought as the jeepney speeded up.
Friday, December 08, 2006
So goes what could have been my opening statement for an impromptu speech during our high school Alumni Homecoming last Tuesday, when asked by one of the teachers. Thank God I was able to sneak out for dinner.
It was very awkward to speak in front of a large crowd considering our batch was the minority that night - 4 out of the 30 who graduated, imagine! But it was good too see former teachers and schoolmates whom I have shared the same experiences with in our small and humble school - though some of them are very fresh - just a year or two from high school graduation.
It was not really a grand night since our batch was obviously overpowered by the populous ones. Seeing my teachers was enough saving grace. And I shouldn't forget winning a hundred pesos for a squatting game. Haha.
Clint Eastwood's Flags of our Fathers is yet another take on the subject of war - particularly World War II. The battleground is Iwo Jima, Japan and the centerpiece where the story pretty much revolved was the flag-raising ceremony of the American soldiers who fought in that island. The famous photograph was taken by Associate Press photgrapher Joe Rosenthal.
Known for his achingly melodramatic pieces (Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby), Eastwood's Flags makes war a tragedy more tragic. (How can anything be more tragic than war?). The film achieves more because it presents all aspects of war - apathy and heroism, victory and loss. Flags will be complemented by Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima, which will be in Japanese. This time the war is told in the perspective of the Japanese.
Pronounced as heroes, the three of flag raisers who lived came home to their country enmeshed in a politically sticky and uncomfortable situation - none than they ever thought of. For Rene Gagnon (Jesse Bradford), his sudden rose to fame made every encounter with the media an opportune time. On the other hand, the war ruined Ira Hayes' life (Adam Beach). He cannot escape the trauma and the images of war remained vivid in his memories.
The war, as they say always break our hearts, and Eastwood dramatizes this perfectly in every solemn scene particularly in one scene where the soldiers - some listened, some hummed - to the song playing in the old radio 'I Walk Alone'. War comes at a big price - loss of lives, the uncertainty of victory, but here in the film it's much more of loss of the innocence of youth. It probes into America's exploitation of war heroes - and making a grand spectacle out of war.
The film is also visually stunning. The battle scenes are awashed in grayscale effect and blood, strikingly red, is the only other color visible in the scenes. There's pretty much gorefest here so it's not really for the weak stomach: bullets piercing through heads, shrapnels piercing through flesh, decapitation, disemboweled viscera - there's even this one scene that aptly described the horrors war wherein the body was not made visible through the screen, but the expression on Philippe's face said it all.
War is not all about victory, as the film pointed out - it's everything unspeakable and heartbreaking. As in Bradley's (Ryan Philippe) words, "So much for no man left behind".
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Band Aid | Do They It's Christmas?
Jackson 5 | Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Bing Crosby | White Christmas
Mariah Carey | All I Want For Christmas is You
Bobby Helms | Jingle Bell Rock
Nat King Cole | The Christmas Song
Brenda Lee | Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
Il Divo | Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful)
Kelly Clarkson | My Grownup Christmas List
Jamie Cullum | Let it Snow
Macy Gray | Santa Baby
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
I came across an account of this recent news on Howie Severino's blog. There's also an interesting debate on this specific entry.
Mr. Smith went to Subic
Gender relations, RP-US relations, priest-flock relations -- there's a lot to debate in this case aside from the meaning of rape.
Whatever they felt about the guilty verdict for US serviceman and now convicted rapist Daniel Smith, my female and gay colleagues all agreed, "Ang guapo!" Then they wondered about the victim Nicole (an alias), whose face has been hidden in the media. "Is she pretty?" someone asked. "No," replied one documentary researcher in the know. "But her sister is." Continue reading
Monday, December 04, 2006
The verdict is out. Lance Corporal Daniel Smith is convicted guilty and is sentenced to spend 40 years in jail. His alleged cohorts, on the other hand, with lack of evidence and strong argument to impound them, were acquitted and were immediately flown to Okinawa leaving Smith still looking clueless and dumbfounded in the probing eyes of the cameras. His mind must’ve gone blank as he was dragged to the police car up to the Makati City jail like a dog on a leash, while the ruckus around him continued.
As the verdict was announced, ‘Nicole’ shrieked in joy and embraced his mother. She sobbed and praised God for the decision. Her lawyer was even more jubilant and went shouting “Long live the Filipino women!” While on the way to church, she expressed her gratitude to the people who supported her and her cause. Rallyists stood their ground outside the court and waited for the verdict despite the rain.
So ended yesterday a landmark case in the Philippine judicial system and perhaps a win that can ignite more the struggle for women empowerment. The case may even prompt the government to probe into other related cases. News reports stated that Nicole’s case was the only case who triumphed among 3,000 others involving women sexually abused by foreign expatriates.
This may not be the end of the line though. RP-US foreign relations may well be under hand. Where Smith will be jailed is yet to be decided, considering that the young soldier’s stay is under the clause of the Visiting Forces Agreement.
For Nicole, this might not yet be the end of the fight though. Justice, she felt, was half-baked. She felt that the missing driver who was there during the rape is still crucial to the conviction of the others particularly Carpienter whom she referred to as ‘the leader’.
I went to the same school with Nicole, though I was never really quite sure if we graduated the same year. I even saw her more than a couple of times especially that she was under a department where I was a student assistant. Her brother though became a classmate of mine in Economics as I was mixed with a Management class when I was second year. I remember her going to the room one time to see her brother albeit I couldn’t remember how her voice sounded that time. I only know her by face and wasn’t really able to talk to her.
It was only after I saw her brother in the news that I ascertained it was her. I didn’t even know that they’re from Zamboanga until I learned it from the news. I can even remember that before I graduated, rumors were going around the university that the rape victim came from the same school. It turned out to be true. It must’ve been more painful for her friends, classmates and teachers who really knew her.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family, Choose a f—king big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose a three piece suit on hire purchased in a range of f—king fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the f—k you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing f—king junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, f—ked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose a future. Choose life . . . But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin’ else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?