Monday, April 30, 2007

generation of hunger

This generation will die of hunger. TB, lung cancer or heart-related diseases only claim the lives of people in the urban areas because we have been inhaling the same poisons over and over again, but the entire Philippine populace is dying of hunger and children succumbed to malnutrition, which eventually results to death anyway.

I’m no fucking socio-economic analyst but these cavorting pigs with Ph. Ds in Economics frolicking in their high-priced seats and titles should really stop talking about poverty, employment and improving the lives of people when all they could really think of are short-term crap like the fucking feeding program. They don’t know a shit about being hungry because they have been practically pigs all their lives.

Oh, I know what hunger means. And I know a good deal of people who are practically starving. But then what point am I really making? Nada. This is a vicious cycle and no argument is really worth the saliva. So I’m going to migrate to Japan or Canada to work as a factory worker. Screw my degree and screw my fuckin’ honors. I’ll work hard for my naturalization so this goddamn government won’t be able to siphon my hard-earned cash and make it an excuse for a GDP increase.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Film Appreciation 101

Pan's Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro's tale of the power of imagination in the midst of fascism, opened in Manila theaters today. Most prolly it will find its way to Davao after Spidey's opening next week (my colleague told me that the tickets for the April 30 premiere here is sold out).

I'm really looking forward to seeing it on the big screen. In fact, I was a bit surprised that it would finally be commercially released here. In the US, the slew of Oscar-winning indie films like The Queen, Last King of Scotland, and Pan's were widely released after they bagged their respective accolades. Though not one landing at the top spot, each got a fair share of box-office success. But that's the US.

I'm sure people who will go to see Pan's will be annoyed at the fact that they should have known the entire film was in Spanish. Letters from Iwo Jima opened yesterday in one of the theaters and people who already went and will go to see it would be similarly surprised that the entire film is in Nihonggo. When I walked out of the theater after seeing Babel, I heard the same reactions from people who were obviously annoyed at practically reading subtitles almost the entire duration of the movie.

It will come a long way before we appreciate the beauty of foreign films, especially with the viewing public who's accustomed to watching movies with stories that do not require much thinking even with the constant trips to the restroom. But I hope we get there.

I learn to watch and appreciate foreign films during college when we had an elective on film appreciation. But the most the ironic part is that our professor never screened a single foreign film. It was my own volition that I went to discover that the other professor has scheduled screenings for foreign films. It was then that I learned of Alfonso Cuaron's brilliance with I guess one of the most popular Mexican films in this generation.

In our opening screening, our professor let us watch X-Men (of all!) and he was like, "Oh look at the cinematography, class. Look at the camera angles. Look at the expressions on their faces. See how significant that is." Yeah, like we are such film experts already. Good grief. Throughout the entire semester I never saw a single foreign film -- a Francois Truffaut, a Lars von Trier, a Jean Luc Godard, a Sergei Eisenstein, an Akira Kurosawa (though I can vaguely remember watching Seven Samurais), a Bernardo Bertolucci, a Luis Buñuel. No Wong Kar-wai or Zhang Yimou. Even no Hitchcock and Kubrick. No Brocka or Bernal. While the other third class were discussing the theory of castration and feminism in cinema, our lectures were solely confined to discussing the cinematography and editing shit of this and that film that I bet even my classmates didn't fully comprehend. No cultural context or the evolution of the film medium whatsoever. The good: Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather and Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver. Or even that Richard Attenborough biopic Chaplin which starred Robert Downey Jr.

The famous Odessa steps from Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin,
which was used in Brian de Palma's The Untouchables.
We digested De Palma's film as part of our finals.

Whatever very limited knowledge I had, I got it from Saturday readings in the library. (And there were very limited books also, in fact there was just one book on world cinema I fondly remember.) I guess it was that lack that has prompted me to discover the beauty of cinema. There was this one director who said that cinema being a reflection of reality, a mirror of society is in fact even more likable than reality itself. I guess that works for me.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

snippets on a rainy day

Woke up with a head-cracking headache this morning. Colds and fever got the better of me last night. Drugged myself with Neozep, lagundi capsules and vitamin C and slobbered my chest and back with Vicks. Decided my situation will get worse if I stay in bed. The cheerleader contestant outnumbered the other two with the most number of Greek gods named in the final rounds of GKNB. Took a half-bath after. My temples throbbed as if to say that I'm such a stupid smartass. Went to work. Rain drummed the roofs the moment I sat down in my chair. It was friggin hot when I got down the jeep. I am hearing like Al Gore right now lecturing me on climate change.

Worked on the paper I should've finished the other day. Forget to fax something to Manila. 5 minutes. Put the headphones on. There's nothing like Todd Rundgren's It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference or James Morrisson's You Give Me Something with the faint drip-drip-drip of raindrops. Feel like my headache's gone now. Last gulp of tea.

Todd Rundgren | It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference
James Morrisson | You Give Me Something
Lee Ryan | When I Think Of You
Tori Amos | Sleeping with Butterflies
Damien Rice | Cannonball
Dashboard Confessional | Nightswimming
Chris Rice | When Did You Fall
Paolo Nutini | Last Request
Dishwalla | Every Little Thing
Jamie Cullum | All at Sea
Coldplay | A Rush of Blood to the Head
NeYo | Sexy Love
Mike Doughty | Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well
Robin Thicke | Lost Without U
Anna Nalick | Breathe

Monday, April 23, 2007

Everything's downhill from here.

For about a week now, my father and stepmother have morphed into owls. They have adapted night-shift jobs that require them to be awake from evening to dawn. Along with some of our neighbors, if not marauding the quiet streets and pasting on walls, they are either clumped in the nearby sari-sari store preparing election paraphernalia. With the searing heat nowadays, it makes sense that they do the plastering and literal messing of public walls with photoshopped faces of candidates when the sun is out. Practically, when everyone is asleep and no one is aware that the gang just plastered their candidate's face on someone else's. It's a dog-eat-dog world mi amigos.

It's not actually what worries me, Papa plastering faces on walls, but him ending up this way. For the past week, he hasn't accepted any painting contractual jobs. In fact, after he resigned from his laboratory work in one of the biggest cement corporations in the Philippines (now owned by a Swiss magnate) some 10 years ago, and after the stupid business venture went kaput, finding a decent job has been up to no good. In fact, life has been up to no good for him, which means life has been up to no good for me and my siblings also. Oh fuck it. I hate where this is going so I'm gonna shut up now.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Bankerohan bridge collapses.

Due to the recent slew of despairing news, I almost forgot that this incident happened about a week ago. Perhaps because I don't pass that way. But most of my colleagues who are north-bound sure feels the brunt. Calling the LGU City Engineering's Office and DPWH to expedite the rehabilitation. (Photo credit: Ang Dabawenyo)

Visually me.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Flights of logic

No amount of entertainment can ever add up to watching primetime Pinoy TV. Like me who doesn't have cable, amusement and annoyance is still rest assured. Last night while occasionally glancing at the TV (I was reading a book), which is now officially owned by my two little half brothers during primetime thanks to Super Twins and Aejan Jejurs (go figure):

1. The daily dose of political crap-o-mercials with sickening pop tunes and politicos smiling devious laughs in sheep's clothing. (Magsaysay, tara-tara-taralets. Fuck, I swear he's from some kind of hybrid alien who dropped on Earth with a big thud.)

2. Dina Bonnevie comparing the aging of Vic Sotto to THE George Clooney. Clooney is a film writer, producer, director and actor rolled into one with a witty political consciousness to beat. Vic is Enteng Kabisote. I rest my case.

3. Super Twins. I know its for kids, but couldn't Pinoy superheroes (and their writers) exhibit some sentido kumon? Naman naman!

4. Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita wished for birthday boy Erap long life and many more birthdays to come. (Update!) And Erap adamant in the new GO pol-ad saying that we should revolt against corruption in the government.

5. Pacquiao impersonating Mike Enriquez.

6. The histrionics of self-important wannabe artistas and their self-important life stories in Half-Pinoy Big Brother. (How come it's Pinoy when everybody seems to be half-something. Half-German. Half-Aussie. Half-British. Half-Alien. Half-Male. WTF??!!

7. Christian Bautista's effortless attempt at being gay. Sing: Sa Pinoy care, walang tatalo, Pinoy care, handog mo sa mundo!!!!

8. (It's not Pinoy but I'm counting it.) Oprah interviewing Janet Jackson.

Now your turn.

The Shooter

The shooting of 32 people in Virginia Tech by a young Korean man is the worst shooting incident in America's history, after a similar shooting in a state high school some years before. The news was cringe-worthy not only because of the death toll but the fact that it was prominently reported that the criminal was Asian. Jessica Zafra in her blog was right in saying that most of us prolly thought 'Please not be a Filipino...'. Funny, how we come to think of our association to such abominable acts. Are we really that damned lot?

I can't help but think of Gus Van Sant's Elephant, the 2003 Cannes Palm D' Or (?) winner, which was inspired by a high-school shooting in the States. The film raises to the fore America's long-standing battle on gun culture and troublesome state of America's youth. Gun culture is also the subject of the Oscar-winning docu by Michael Moore Bowling for Columbine.

It was repeatedly reported in the foreign news that Cho, the Korean man responsible for the Virginia Tech shooting, was troubled and exhibits violent traits. Yet, he was also described by neighbors as quiet and aloof. Despite his being Korean in birth, it's also important to note that he was partly raised in the States. However, Foreign Policy blog noted the odd coincidence that the world-record for shooting sprees was by South Korean police officer who killed 56 in an 8-hour rampage.

Friday, April 13, 2007

freaky Friday

I still get freaked out sometimes with Friday the 13th. Like today. Days before the date, I always feel like there's an impending doom or something. Or sometimes I caught myself ill-at-ease. I'm not a big fan of Jason Voorhees or the Halloween series either. My birthday is on a 31 and Mama died on a 13, Friday, same month as my birthday.

Something about numbers and their superstitious inclinations. Like last year, 06 June 2006 -- or rather the very ominous combination 6/6/06 -- a unexplicable feeling of dread enveloped me the entire day. I was on travel with some of my colleagues to Cagayan de Oro that day and while inside the van I kept receiving this spooky text messages on doomsday, disasters, anti-christ and what-have-yous.

Crossing an intersection (still in Davao), a freak accident unfold right in front of our very own eyes. It's like as if the van turned into a freezer and froze us in utter disbelief. Two motorcycles collided, the other one rode a couple; the woman was pregnant I think. When the vehicles crashed, the woman tumbled on the side but the man was thrown in the air and smashed his head on the pavement. He was wearing a helmet but blood immediately covered his face. The driver responsible fled to a nearby golf course and everybody who saw waited for almost a minute for reality to cave in and finally got their asses moving.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


TU as in Tang-ina U!

Now I have a reason not to vote for the staTUs quo that is the Team Unity. You know they have this monstrous tarp which features all the senatoriables in their slate which practically parades their attention-grabbing faces for everybody to ogle at, not to mention make fun of. Was it GMA who said that the polls are going to be machinery vs. popularity? Huh, talk about machinery. Something smells tilapia in here. 'Hello Garci?' But that's stating the obvious.

When I came home from dinner last night, this moronic tarp with the TU bets was hanged just outside our place, in the corner where I usually ride the traysikad on the way to work. We live in this run-down wooden structure in near-collapse with five other families, which is the second lot before this corner, so its very obvious from even a mere peep in the windows. In this corner I'm talking about, they attached the moronic tarp to the two adjacent camachile trees with one-meter wide in distance. Between these two trees is a wooden plank, where I like to sit and do most of my thinking or un-thinking, where I make sense of the nonsense, where I animate inanimate things. Thanks to this moronic tarp which practically made it impossible for me to do that less I look like a decapitated body or a resident lunatic, I have to wait after the stupid polls to sit on that philosophical wooden plank again.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Going back, after 15 yrs.


I was 7 years old the last time I went to Manay, Davao Oriental -- the birthplace of my mother. That was when she was still alive.

Last Thursday, at the crack of dawn, the quarter moon and the necklace of stars still hanging in the sky, I trekked the trail towards the still-dark compound of nipa huts of our relatives together with my cousins, aunts and uncles and 2 siblings. We left Davao aboard a run-down rented van at 12 midnight and arrived at a dangerous bend 5 hours later which required us to walk kilometers. The crickets were still noisy and faint lights of gas lamps from the windows of few nipa houses were still lit.

Our visit was a surprise considering that there are no cellphones or that signals won’t reach that part of the area. Kuya Dodot, my uncle who took care of us shortly when we were kids and after Mama died, was the first to meet us on his motorbike while he was on the way up. Although there was no sun and our faces weren’t visible yet, he knew it was me and immediately grabbed my tummy and hugged me as if I was the kid whom he used to carry on his back. We immediately met with Lolo Gabin and Lola Sitang, Mama’s second father and mother, whose faces I don’t even remember the slightest. After our cousin Macky called us their ‘surprise’, lolo and lola stood there speechless and lolo just hugged me and kissed me in the neck as if I was the grandson he’d left on the wharf as he sent me to some unknown place. It was weird and all, being welcomed that way. But it was authentic and an honest feeling of being loved and a sense of belongingness one cannot fully contain at the moment.

Of course we talked about a lot of stuff and we were introduced to some of the other far relatives who came also to pay a visit. It turned out that it was lola’s birthday.

When I was able to make a clear view of everything, I stood outside the newly-built shed and did a 360. The grounds were surrounded by hills and coconut trees were everywhere. There were coco shells and husks piled up on some of the place. I later learned that this is really where they get their livelihood; the common term is copras, a harvesting done every 3 months, according to Kuya Dodong.

Kuya Dodong was one of lolo and lola’s sons. He was also the one who accompanied me all the way while the entire group crossed streams and trekked the mountain trails. I couldn’t even estimate the number of kilometers we hiked but I’m sure we crossed about 5 streams which are actually one but separated only by land masses. There was this waist-deep stream with a strong current that broke our line and send one of us hurling towards the bend.

He pointed one stream which drowned lola, Mama’s original mother. It was sort of scary and all. Then we trekked some more encountering a few more relatives and stepping on cow and horse dung on the way. We climbed a steep and rocky hill and down towards a magnificent waterfall. We found another fall on the lower end as we climbed down. The smaller one is kind of a hidden fall and the place is usually infested by snakes. We were lucky we didn’t encounter one that time.

Coming on a long way back, I didn’t realize I cut myself twice on my right foot. I walked barefoot on some parts where sharp stones and sticks could have done my feet good. While we were talking along the trek, what struck me most though is not the scorching heat of the sun, but by the generosity of Kuya Dodong who has lent me his sturdy slippers, because I kept breaking mine, while his feet endured cuts itself and the heat of big sun-exposed stones, and the simple life that they have managed to get through.

We spent the next day in White Sand Beach, which pretty much explains. I drank a lot of tuba, emperador and Red Horse that day until I puked and bloated myself with ice water to relieve myself moments before we left, past midnight. We had to leave early because the 3-month old baby of my cousin was convulsing with fever.

I later learned from one of my cousins that lola didn’t show up while the rest of use were leaving because she can’t take the sight of it. The last time my cousins were there, she cried and cried. It was a fulfilling to have reconnected with them though we have to leave right away. Upon boarding the van, lolo said how happy he was to have seen us and that he might as well be contended when he died. I chuckled so as to stop him from thinking such, because I definitely would like to come back soon. Perhaps sooner.

Love and war


An old saying says that all is fair in love and war. While I have totally detested the idea of war and its toll humanity has taken in its throes, and while I believe that while it can ravage civilization, the worse of situations can bring out the best in the human spirit. And yes, war also happens tests love and its endurance.

In The English Patient, four lives are intertwined in a post WWII era in a far-flung Italian monastery/villa. There is Hana, the young and captivating nurse; Caravaggio, the thief who twice as old as Hana fell in love with her; Kip, the Indian bomb expert, and the mysterious English patient, whose identity remained anonymous almost throughout the novel.

While covered in copious bandages, the English patient retells the story of war and his adventures in the desert. But the subject of most of the stories he narrates to Hana as she painstakingly takes care of him is one of his affair with Katherine Clifton, wife to Geoffrey Clifton (the Cliftons are supposedly real members of the Geographical Society. Their disappearance in the African desert is one of the non-fictional accounts made mention in the novel.) The patient loved Katherine even until her death, when their plane crashed; he hid her in a cave.

Kip meanwhile, is a bomb expert trained by British intelligence. He worked during the war and had recounted many of his experiences during their gatherings at night in the villa. Caravaggio also had his share or war stories to tell being maimed during the atrocities. Just as she took care of the English patient, Hana also took care of the other two, but she was so enamored of the mysterious man that she felt taking care of him is her lifelong vocation.

In The English Patient, author Michael Ondaatje transports us to several places, sometimes unknowingly and abruptly. This style is important in driving one of the themes which is about identity – that it is not defined by one’s nationality. This was made apparent in the retelling of the patient’s history – his nationality remains mysterious and unknown until the last two chapters, and even with Kip – as one of the many Indians who found their identity in Britain.

There is no one narrator who dominates. We get to see each of the character’s perspective indicating the shared notion of love, pain and memory the war has brought to them.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

contemplate, meditate.

After realizing that the trip to Surigao is just not plausible, I was ready to just stay at home as usual. But then I received a call from my estranged cousins inviting us to join them for a two-day trip to Man-ay, Davao Oriental. I was Grade 1 when I went there with Mama, when she was still alive. I can vaguely remember the mountain trails with the air wafting horse dung. That was the first time I rode a horse. I can remember vast plains and a small stream where people do their chores. Now it occurs to me that there is no electricity there. We'll be travelling later.

I plan to go to church on Saturday. Also something I haven't done for nth years. I happen to catch a glimpse of the church interiors on special days. Think it's high time.

As penitensya, I'll finish 3 policy briefs so I won't be bogged down with too much work next week. Of course I'll read some and watch plenty. On schedule for weekend roster: Requiem for a Dream, Letters from Iwo Jima, Man Push Cart, Mullholland Drive and Last Tango in Paris, and Justice episodes.

Have a meaningful Holy Week everyone!

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?

Renton, Trainspotting