Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tragedy at sea, part 4

Such tragic proportions have been media fodder for the past weeks. But the point unfortunately has been sorely missed. Passenger and cargo ship capsized in the midst of a raging storm. Wailing families and relatives. But of course company not owing up and look likes never in its history marred already by sinking ships. Survivors turn up in different shores of different provinces. We are awed by stories of resiliency and will. Styrophor turns out to be edible in times of survival. More trapped inside the capsized ship. Typhoon continued to wreak havoc to agriculture and infrastructure. More wailing.

The previous sea mishaps killed more than that of perhaps any earthquake that rocked the country in this millenia. But of course, the whole spectrum of disaster won't be complete without any mudslinging and finger-pointing. Such adeptness at these skills and never at doing our jobs right. Jeez.

Monday, June 23, 2008

We sing, we dance, we steal things in Bruges.

Been listening heavily to Jason Mraz’s new album (or at least his new songs via mp3) We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things which will pique you by the title. If it’s any indication on waywardness, Mraz’s new outing is diverse and multi-dimensional, thus I think even more mature than his previous. The explorations on jazzy, funky tunes and ballads like If It Kills Me are all worth it plus the usual entrancing melancholy of his guitar and his own brand of wordplay that has endeared his following. The lyrics are introspective and meditative and these are evident in songs like Details in the Fabric, Live High, and Love for a Child, which are my favorites. While listening to the first one (Details) I was jolted when I thought I heard James Morrison. Turns out, it was really him (he’s featured). The catchy collaboration with Colbie Callait in Lucky will undoubtedly produce another hit. A revitalized version of I’m Yours (by now excessively played on radio and downloaded) is included in the tracks, which is better than the purely acoustic one. The newer version is way cooler too. To paraphrase Randy Jackson’s comment, “it’s like being in a luau”, you’re in a hammock in a beach sipping buko juice listening to ukeleles and Hawaiian beats (which Jason actually did).

Speaking of nice (jeez, what an overused understated word in this context) getaways, I just saw playwright Martin McDonagh’s debut feature In Bruges with Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell and Ralph Fiennes. As its title would hint, it’s set in Bruges (apparently pronounced as Broozh), a well-kept medieval city in Belgium (which I didn’t know existed) constantly alluded to in the film as a dreamland or fairy-tale like. What transpires in the film is otherwise.

After we learn enough that Ken (Gleeson) and Ray (Farrell) are two assassins sent to Bruges to wait for their next assignment from their boss Harry (Fiennes) and just as we begin to wallow in the tranquility of the place, bullets are shot close-range and blood is spilled in gorrific fashion. By the time Fiennes appears in the third act, we sense that things are beginning to get nasty. In a fit of a lifetime, Fiennes smashes the phone to smithereens. Wife enters from sala, sees the scene, points to the phone: “It’s a fucking inanimate object!” Harry, in killing mode: “You’re a fucking inanimate object!” Just classic.

Gleeson by the way is Hagrid in Harry Potter. Fiennes, of course is Voldemort. Farrell’s sexual interest Chloe is Clemence Poesy who did a cameo as Fleur Delacouer in Goblet of Fire. When I mistook Ciaran Hinds as Alan Rickman, I thought it suddenly became Harry Potter in Bruges.

Bruges, despite the reputation we’re made to believe, becomes the playground where actions and decisions are weighed and consequences are faced, some to greater bloodier extent. We are offered glimpses into these introspections but the whole moral pie is as ambiguous as the fog that hovered over the city as the last scenes closed in. There’s some slight allusion to purgatory (the two con men visit an art gallery and ogle at a Boschian painting, Judgment Day). Like The Lookout in 2007 (also a debut from writer Scott Frank), In Bruges is an ode to the good ole genre of crime thriller with a twist of black comedy, always great way to welcome 2008 in film.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

To hell with grease, grime and rust.

I stayed late last night after the fellowship party thrown for the media by the newly-installed PS and former chairman of the agency I’m working for. After a long wait for PGMA, who undoubtedly never came, I accompanied a national correspondent, who happens to be the mother of one of my closest friends, to Marco Polo to finish off a story in connection to the recent release of the kidnapped reporter and her TV crew. It’s another freebie, so why not, I told myself. But since prices are usually astronomical in these kinds of alta sociedad places and being the modest person that I am, I ordered milk, which is still at a staggering 88 pesos.

No, I’m not letting you in for the scoop.

While Tita was talking to a reliable local official of the ARMM and I was waiting for the boiling milk to cool down a bit, I was talking with the driver and owner of the Starex Van that she rented.

After casual exchanges about work, I became enthused when Kuya told me that he has already traveled most parts of the world. He is a seaman and has traveled to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, US states and most of Europe including Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland. I just salivated as he dropped the names of countries he’s gone to. Currently he’s off work but told me that he could actually go back to being a seaman if he wills to. He used his savings to put up a taxi and van rental business here. I found out that the company he’s working for is actually a big international shipping company with new investments operating in Northern Mindanao.

But he says he misses his family and that it is hard when you are pamilyado because you always think of your family, especially in moments where you have to “break the ice”. The work is tough too. Contrary to some perceptions that seamen are like guards who man the ship, their job is much harder than patrolling. They actually do the “dirty” job – cleaning the ship’s gears, taking off rust, having to endure that scorching heat of the ship’s bottom.

I can do that, I said. Being a seaman is the perfect cure to wanderlust, I thought. I’ll save up and could probably take two years off to study marine transportation or maritime technology, pass the board exam, go through the icky medical checks, have the right connections, probably hook up with Kuya because I could probably work in the same ship and then dock in the same cities Kuya mentioned -- dock in London, visit the Westminster Abbey, ogle at the Big Ben, dock in Hamburg, drink German beer and gobble chocolates. To hell with grease, grime and rust.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Fung Ku Fanda

Kung Fu Panda was cute and hilarious. Its skillful use of animation and slapstick delivers a whopping kung fu punch. Simply put, the story of a big fat kung fu-obsessed panda tells us to believe in ourselves, build on our own strengths and work on what we’ve got whether it is a humongous belly or a fat ass.

I think the last time I was laughing and giggling inside a cinema that I ended up clapping and thrown off my seat was Knocked Up or Horton (yes, the elephant). The fact that Po’s popop is a noodle-magnate goose is a comic relief in itself. Jack Black can get through the industry by playing a panda alone. Po was so cute the Beijing Olympics might just be given a boost. The fat panda may well be the official mascot.

I immediately felt the impact of the movie when one of the teens in the row in front of me started doing a Bruce Lee and whacking her friend. I thought the girl was possessed because she repeated her kung fu moves long enough to piss everybody near her. I swear she was momentarily possessed by the spirit of the Dragon Warrior or the malevolent Tai Lung.

The gang of chair-kicking big time assholes attacked again and ruined part of my viewing. Good thing I wasn’t the destined Dragon Warrior or I could’ve kicked their sorry asses to China.

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