Thursday, December 31, 2009

and so it ends.

Ohmygod I'm dreading to do this but here I am in front of a pc in a half-filled internet cafe that's usually full and usually noisy. If the two deaf people in front of me were actually making sounds out of there words instead of sign languages, there would be some semblance of noise but so far the whirr of the aircon and the occasional shrieking of the welcome door is by far the closest thing. I've tried to stray my mind on Facebook and doing all kinds of stuff like reading Quark Henares's top 50 musical LPs of the decade, which is kind of fun and informative in a way or the usual checking of, which I give a lot of shit about, but like diarrhea I have to let this crap all out. Like fucking get rid of it fast or it would stink or I'd shit in my pants. Remember that shitty feeling or mood or whatever it is I always find myself entrenched in during these times of the year I mentioned in the previous blog? Well it's still up and it's been a while. It's been taking up a lot of time. I wish it would go away because I previously said that I like New Years because it's something new, which garnered a sarcastic remark from my friend who said that it was supposed to be "new" that's why it's called new year. Well, I don't really mean it that way you know. It's like when Jakesully and Neytiri say "I see you" but then it's more than literal sense of the phrase. Silly me, I thought the second viewing of Avatar would make me all giddy-up and prepped up like a schoolboy for the new year but alas, it's just a piece of entertainment I'd escaped to for more than a couple of hours. It was cool by the way, the other day when I watched it with my colleague in this steaming new theatre which costs more than double of the usual and it was a treat so I wouldn't really mind. There's this reclining chairs, less crappy people, which I really like, good sound, but that's just really it. No 3D whatsoever. We here have really been deprived of a lot of stuff only found and experienced in Manila. Not that I give a a lot of shit about it though. It was just fun to be in that theatre for a coupla hours. I was supposed to go to an afternoon-and-night-long party with my batchmates in college but then there was that cold feet and all. I decided I should really finish this crappy evaluation of ours in the office which should take my mind off it for a while. Not that the evaluation was some kind of big deal or something, it's crappy I say. Then people started texting on where the fuck I was and some were inquiring on the details, which finally got me thinking that I shouldn't anymore hint of some kind of a get-together next year unless they do it first. The previous night few of my classmates showed up and we had dinner and all that stuff and we had coffee and a few laughs but when a suggestion of a follow-up came, I felt like it was too tiring already. I had a little chat with one of my classmates saying how much fun they had and I thought they wouldn't really care if I wasn't there or that I didn't show up in any of the venues they went to. I made up a stomachace reason but the real problem was that I'm fucking broke. Remember I told you I find myself in utter destitution? I'm not some hotshot like them who only spend for themselves or who have amassed huge sums of money and Christmas bonuses from their hotshot careers or from working abroad. I'm just a fucking slave working my ass off. I'm cool with that by the way. In fact I miss them to bits but I wouldn't be caught dead anyway if I just walked home and deprived myself of the fun. I had a perfectly reasonable excuse anyway, it's just that I lied. Anyway, while doing the crappy evaluation I told you about, I counted three quakes that really knocked my brains out. I don't like quakes but that time I had three, in less than 15 minutes while sitting and doing my stuff on the computer. I was alone in the fucking office because my colleague left a bit early and so it was me and the guard. It was scary as hell and I could've died alone in the dark cold night should that have been a really destructive quake. I remember this 30 Rock episode where you have Tina Fey choking alone in her apartment. I couldn't imagine myself dying in the office for chrissakes and so I headed home, quickly finishing the whole thing off. In short, I still end with this shitty feeling I always refuse to label as some kind of a crisis or whatever becuase I really, really don't like that 3-word phrase they use to label to people who've reached 25. I dunno; maybe I'm Jakesully who will really find himself happy in the extremest things possible, or that only the cinema, or James Cameron's wild imagination, could've concocted. Or perhaps because I'm re-reading Salinger's classic for a couple days now. Well not really re-reading it in the complete sense because I left a few chapters and bailed out on it few years ago because I can't stand reading it as e-book. You think that's a bad idea, me reading the book on such a joyous time of the year? It's like me watching episodes of Six Feet Under last year or the year before that prior to the New Year. Someone told me not watch it on these times but then I picked up Salinger on my colleague's shelf. Maybe that hinted all the bullshitness you've just taken in from me, or the language. I hate it to throw something like this to you but like I said I needed to take my crap out. It's something like a New Year-ish thing for me to do. I've been warned not to be jaded and all and that all I need was a really good shag but jeez I can't fucking help it. What should I really be doing is be optimistic about things. Oh I am, I truly am. But then I'm some kind of a bipolar on this like cynical-optimistic or whatever. I said to one classmate of mine that I think something grand will happen to me this year, like it's a milestone or something. So see, I'm not really a major pain in the ass. Unlike Holden, I find the word grand to be just okay especially if I have to look at and expect good things. I always expect grand things; in fact you can even see that in the blog description. But I guess this time or this year, I should really work my butt off so that I can move on. Jeez, I hope I haven't cornied it up for you. I wish I could be that writer of 500 Days of Summer who's so adept at not cornying things up when you expect it to be really corny. It's just painfully true. Perhaps that's what this is all is. A painful truth I have to at least deal with. And work on. So I'm just gonna quit yakking now because my fingers hurt already from the stinking hard keys and that my time is up. Jeez, I have to actually pay fucking 20 pesos so that I can neutralize my insanity or a quick glance at depression? Jeez. At least I'm not gonna be checking into rehab soon and be injected with all this shitty medicine that supposed to psychologically balance you out like the rich slobs who actually think its cool. Adios people, I think I'm gonna watch Julie and Julia instead. And, okay, Prospero Año Nuevo.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Can I just pause and actually believe it? It's freakin' Christmas. The only indication of its coming-atcha mood only came a few days ago while waiting for a taxi that would lead me to the inevitable office Christmas party, which obviously plenty of us go laboriously through. Not even the office party would make me go giddy-up with joy and anticipation. For a moment, I thought all the taxi drivers in the world went to North Pole to offer themselves as reindeers to Santa. Or that by some random universal mechanical mishap all their automobiles went kaput. For 30 minutes or so I stood transfixed and fuming at the same time. From where usually hail taxis or ride jeeps, it's already unusual. And so it's Christmas na pala. And people suddenly troop to wherever to constitute the busy-ness of the season. But I'm still working my ass off like right now, which is actually okay anyway, rather than I endure the compulsory tasks propelled by the commercialism of the season. Lining up in counters, picking your brains on gift ideas, and just about every pronounced pleasantry the holidays would require one's self. This year, I find myself in utter destitution. Unlike last year, I haven't bought anything for my inaanaks. Guess I have to go through the TNT stage at least once in my godfather life. And boy do these children multiply every year! I am avoiding get-togethers and I find them to be such a cop-out sometimes. I haven't contributed anything to the noche buena table to which I cannot really call a noche buena because it ceased to be buena a long time ago. I haven't bought a single decent gift for myself except probably food, not that it would actually appease my usual helpless, lackadaisical mood during these supposedly joyous times. Kate Bosher said: "Isn't it funny that at Christmas something in you gets so lonely for - I don't know what exactly, but it's something that you don't mind so much not having at other times". My colleague said I'm slowly becoming a grinch. There's always a Christmas rant. Perhaps I should really count my blessings noh? Oh how I wish I could be little drummer boy and just be nonchalant about everything. Well, whatever. I can't help it. We live in such perilous miserable times. And so I end this with something from George Bernard Shaw, and hope next year I would have something that would best fit describe whatever remnants of joy this season supposedly give out: "Christmas is forced upon a reluctant and disgusted nation by the shopkeepers and the press; on its own merits it would wither and shrivel in the fiery breath of universal hatred."

That's me, feeding my finger to little drummer boy himself. Photo taken the other week at Plaza Pershing in Zamboanga City. The lights there are OA but fun. It's as if all the Christmas lights were harbored by the city government and plastered it in their city halls and parks.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Show me da Manny!

Okay, I think I have to cave in to the much-ballyhooed win (which fight isn’t anyway?) and throw my slight disdain towards his minor bullshit-ness over the window. When you’ve got fame and power at your disposal, why not bullshit around right? To rub the already clichéd term more, Manny is really something—he’s unlike any Filipino not just in strength but in the ubiquitous charm. He’s a slap in the face to Filipino bourgeoisie. To the poor, he’s an icon of triumph; a testament to that elusive luck, which we Filipinos have grabbed onto so tight we forgot to do anything else. He’s “the great hope” as TIME magazine would put it.

I can very much recall my very first participation to the communal Filipino act (by now it should be some sort of a Filipino tradition—a kind of phenomena that depletes traffic flow in the streets and diminishes crime rate to almost nil) of watching a Pacquiao fight two years ago with complete strangers. It was in a department store and there was some exhibit of which I was a part in. It was a Sunday, as usually the case, and there was a large-enough TV with the Pacquiao fight. As long as it was on, it did not take more than five minutes for the entire vicinity to be filled with excited onlookers (I sat down on the floor for convenience), as if the TV is some kind of medium channeling a modern-day deity. During the Pacquiao-Hatton fight, I watched it with a room full of my colleagues, around 30 people. So imagine the fucking noise it created when Hatton was pummeled to an unconscious state in the second round. Everyone looked as if they won the championship themselves, a beaming smile and pair of delightfully-lit eyes.

The media is overflowing with words and the TV is replete with footage of the said communal act. For really, it does move mountains and Manny can move the nation into such state which we are so quick to call as unity—we are so damned united. We feel our brothers same excitement. We feel truly proud. We feel we are living like patriotic Filipinos rooting for their hero. Dare I say that never have we felt a sense of Filipino pride so strongly than with Manny’s bouts, especially to those whose idea of the EDSA revolution is that of the history books. This sense of unity is commendable, the sense of pride inevitable. How can you not be? I am proud.

But see, while Manny’s victories we claim as ours, while we unite as a nation and feel an overwhelming sense of pride, what of after? For what? We go to our daily goings-on, be bums, be corporate and bureaucratic slaves, be pessimists, be optimists, be friends, be enemies until the next Pacquiao fight. We wait for that glimmer of hope, that façade of victory we always wanted to have a taste of—but unlike Manny we seem to have lost the willpower, alright, the “firepower” and we go back mired in empty promises of relief from misery. If Manny so reflects our country, then it would be that, this country has always struggled but success (power) has always remained to be in the hands of the few. So, after the fight, we go back to being a country in disarray, our goals and ideals in shambles, prone to crime and corruption, wallowing in poverty, with a continuing exodus of people abroad, we go back to bitching about the traffic, until the next Pacquiao fight finds us in each other’s company again.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

existentially beleaguered

They call it microblogging but for whatever purpose it may serve to other Facebook users but the ubiquitous box wherein you place your thoughts is for me the most easiest I can get to a rant, or an outlet. So thanks, Mr. Zuckerberg, whom I just read in GQ’s men of year as, what else, 2008’s “Boy Genius”. (Jon Hamm who’s terrific as Don Draper is on the cover.)

But back to the FB thought-box. So I was posting that I was kind of “existentially beleaguered”. Besieged was the first word, but mukhang OA. That mood kind of pervaded for around 2 weeks, which is actually kind of long already (sometimes a different thought would appear the next day, or even within a day as sometimes I post good quotes from books, novels, personalities and from wherever I get these pretentiously sensible crap. The thought posting is actually kind of fun, eliciting a plethora of reactions and what-have-yous from friends.

A colleague asked why was I “existentially beleaguered”. I can’t provide the answer, to my surprise, and I had been placing it for around 2 weeks. When I heard the first bout of Christmas songs wafting in the commercialized air of the yuletide, that’s when it hit me. I always get this mood, which is actually a shitty kind of mood to feel given that everybody’s all giddy-up for the season. I felt this last year, and just like the universe’s many inexplicable mysteries, I dunno why I give a shit. Or maybe I don’t really. I still like the Christmas songs though. But maybe I lost something, or what? Christmas is not for me, its for the corporate slugs and people who have fat pockets after the season because of humongous bonuses that seem to pile up their already humongous paychecks. I need to have some fun, right? I’m just fucking thinking too much probably.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The First Lines.

Yielding to a request from Heidi M, the world's great undiscovered photographer, I am finally posting the first lines of some of my favorite novels, starting with my most favorite seven, then randomly. I realized it's quite a lot, but I really liked these, for some reason or the other. The list is pretty gender-biased; the absence of a female writer except Alice Sebold. Some passages are not exactly one sentence, but I added as to what I deemed appropriate, or that which I feel would completely embody the thought of that passage, i.e. The Stand, American Gods. I encourage you to do it also. Kind of therapeutic while I compiled these in a small notebook yesterday afternoon.

“The boy with the fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way toward the lagoon.” Lord of the Flies, William Golding

ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE is scrawled in blood red lettering on the side of the Chemical Bank near the corner of Eleventh and First and is in print large enough to be seen from the backseat of the cab as it lurches forward in the traffic leaving Wall Street and just as Timothy Price notices the words a bus pulls up, the advertisement for Les Miserables on its side blocking his view, but Price who is with Pierce & Pierce and twenty-six doesn't seem to care because he tells the driver he will give him five dollars to turn up the radio, "Be My Baby" on WYNN, and the driver, black, not American, does so.” – American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis

“My suffering left me sad and gloomy.” – Life of Pi, Yann Martel

"We were fractious and overpaid." – Then We Came to the End, Joshua Ferris

“The play—for which Briony had designed the posters, programs and tickets, constructed the sales booth out of a folding screen tipped on its side, and lined the collection box in red crêpe paper—was written by her in a two-day tempest of composition, causing her to miss a breakfast and a lunch.” – Atonement, Ian McEwan

"Later than usual, one summer morning in 1984, Zoyd Wheeler drifted awake in sublight thorugh a creeping fig that hung in the window, with a squadron of blue jays stomping around the roof.” –
Vineland, Thomas Pynchon

“The final dying sounds of their dress rehearsal left the Laurel Players with nothing to do but stand there, silent and helpless, blinking out over the footlights of an empty auditorium.” – Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates ------
“In those days apartments were almost impossible to find in
Manhattan, so I had to move to Brooklyn.” – Sophie’s Choice, William Styron

"I was born twice: first as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.” – Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides

"The American handed Leamas another cup of coffee and said, “Why don’t you go back to sleep? We can ring you if he shows up.” – The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, John Le Carre

“So you’re all set for money, then?” the boy named Crow asks in his characteristic sluggish voice. – Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami

“In eighteenth-century France, there lived a man who was one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages.” – Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Patrick Suskind

Mason City. To get to there you follow Highway 58, going northeast out of the city, and it is a good highway and new. Or was new, the day we went up it.” – All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren

“My legal name is Alexander Perchov. But all of my many friends dub me as Alex, because that is a more flaccid-to-utter version of my legal name.” – Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer

“The drought had lasted now for ten million years, and the reign of the terrible lizards had long since ended.” – 2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke

““Sally.” A mutter. “Wake up now Sally.” A louder mutter. Lemme lone. He shook her harder. “Wake up. You got to wake up!” Charlie. Charlie’s voice. Calling her. For how long?” – The Stand, Stephen King

“She was so deeply imbedded in my consciousness that for the first year of school I seem to have believed that each of my teacher was my mother in disguise.” – Portnoy’s Complaint, Phillip Roth

“Charlie Croker, astride his favorite Tennessee walking horse, pulled his shoulders back to make sure he was erect in the saddle and took a deep breath… Ahh, that was the ticket…” – A Man in Full, Tom Wolfe

Vaughan died yesterday in his last car-crash. During our friendship he had rehearsed his death in many crashes, but this was his only true accident.” – Crash, JG Ballard

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” – 1984, George Orwell

“Back in the late 1970s, when I was fifteen years old, I spent every penny I then had in the bank to fly across the continent in a 747 jet to Brandon, Manitoba, deep in the Canadian prairies, to witness a total eclipse of the sun.” – Generation X, Douglas Coupland

“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.” - The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

“I went back to the Devon School not long ago, and found it looking oddly newer than when I was a student there fifteen years before.” – A Separate Peace, John Knowles

“Shadow had done three years in prison. He was big enough, and looked don’t-fuck-with-me enough, that his biggest problem was killing time.” American Gods, Neil Gaiman

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ganito kami sa Mindanao

Magulo dito. Sabi kasi ng national media, warzone daw ang Mindanao. Tanong pa ng isa sa isang presscon na nadaluhan ko: ang BJE ba ang solusyon sa “kultura ng baril” sa Mindanao? Huwat? Eh, halata namang wala siyang alam sa konteksto ng conflict sa rehiyong ito. Nakalimutan din ng The Imperial Manille na nandidito din ang Davao, Cagayan, Zamboanga, General Santos, Butuan, Surigao at iba pang mga emerging cities na promising ang mga potentials pagdating sa business and tourism. Marahil di din nito alam na kaya may nakakain pa sila sa taas eh dahil panay pa rin ang supply natin ng agricultural produce.

Siguro nga dahil they need to feed their own agenda, and Mindanao is an easy scapegoat. Sabi pa nga nung isang executive ng BPO ng minsang dumalaw sa isang conference dito sa Davao: di daw akalain ng ibang dayuhan na may BPO industry na palang natayo sa Mindanao, kala nila puro giyera, puro Abu Sayyaf.

Di nga naman tulad sa Makati, kung saan makakita ka ng mga professional at sophisticated-looking people who sashay and brandish their cigarettes outside high-rise buildings like the RCBC tower, at hindi mga baril. Talagang, what a sight of civilization and modernization it is.

Ganito raw kasi sila sa Makati. Yung lahat ng kailangan mo – edukasyon hanggang mga health benefits at welfare ng mga matatanda – ay sagot ni... Aba, kung kaya niyang gawin ‘yon eh di dapat ngang ihalal natin siya, by all means. Lalo na kung nung bata ka pa eh nagpapakain ka ng baboy habang kinukutya ka ng mga kalaro mo.

Ganito rin sana sa buong bansa… Naku, napaka-misguided at napaka-baluktot na logic. Hindi pwedeng i-replicate mo na lang ang Makati at gawin mong Makati ang buong bansa. Talagang hindi pwede yun. Hayaan nating ang Manila ay magpaka-Manila, ang Makati, magpaka-Makati. Ang bawat rehiyon sa bansa ay may kanya-kanyang strength, sa agricultura man or sa larangan ng industriya at services.

Op kors, hindi naman sasabihin ng ad na kaya dahil libre ang notbuk at Paracetamol sa Makati eh dun halos lahat ng malaking establishments –central financial district kung baga, parang Wall Street. Kahit na ba ang mga kompanyang ito ay may mga operation or yung mismong largely operating outside Metro Manila -ang iba sa liblib na parte ng Pilipinas kahit dun sa mga tinatawag naming conflict-affected areas. Mas nakakagulat kung sa laki ng revenues na pumapasok sa lungsod nila ay ‘di pa malilibre ang basic social service.

Kung gusto ng pagkakapantay-pantay, paigtingin at bigyang puwang ang local autonomy, coupled with greater transparency at accountability to its people. Sa isang banda, mukhang mahihirapan nga tayo sa huling ‘yon, dahil the katiwalian is deeply entrenched in the higher echelons of power. Pero subukan natin ang patakbuhin ng mabuti ang local autonomy. Patotohanan natin ang katagang decentralization, dahil magpasa-hanggang ngayon mukhang kakarampot lang ang natatamasa ng mga nasa kanayunan. Okay the term is too provincial, make it outside-Metro Manila. Diba, probinsya naman talaga ang tawag nila sa mga lugar outside their territory…

Let’s make local autonomy work. Decentralize. Look at the examples of Galing Pook and the untold stories of LGUs making it out on their own. Headline readers will be shocked that away from politics and crime, good things are actually happening on the ground. At siguro, tsaka natin masasabing, ganito kami sa Pilipinas, hindi lang yung Ganito kami sa Makati…

Saturday, September 26, 2009

ZaNorte travels

The trip to the west coast road in Mindanao, practically covering most of the Zamboanga del Norte region is a favorite, maybe because it was the first. Some portions of the road are whack but the paving is gathering up speed so I hope to see travel next time minus the vehicle massage. A portion of the entire stretch of the west coast road remains problematic because of lawless elements. We weren't allowed to pass through it, which is not possible anyway because of its condition. We pass through some very far-flung areas, barefoot children marvel at the sight of muddied pick-up.

A fishing are nearing Dakak resort

Shot while standing in front of Rizal's Dapitan residence

A portion of the Zamboanga Peninsula, shot along the mountainous road in Baliguian town

A small village in the town of Siocon, ZDN

Nope, the world has not tilted to a degree. The tricycles in Pagadian are skillfully built
to match its inclined terrain.

Runway of the Dipolog airport

Students brave the difficulty and danger of transportation to get back home
in this sleepy town in Zamboanga del Norte.

A shore somewhere between the towns of Liloy and Labason, ZDN

This ship sails alone while the sun sets somewhere between Liloy and Labason, ZDN.

Dried fish lines up some of the streets in Pagadian. Don't miss to bring them home.

A man sits relaxed on a furniture seemingly newly-bought on top of tricycle. Somewhere in Midsayap.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

read away

This is actually a lazy kind of post. Read it before and saw it via Adrian's blog, so I thought I would kinda do the same thing. Best novels of all time according to a poll by the Modern Library Editorial Board. I have read TIME mag's best list and skimmed through 2 versions of Peter Boxall's 1000 books you must read before you die, but then I guess this should do for now. These are really classic classics. I found some titles in super-cheap booksales before, which I expect to still find if said sale resumes. The will read are books that have been in my shelf for like a thousand years already. I remembered this incident when the editor of the college paper I used to write said that I was too reading too slow. In my hand was a copy of the first Lord of the Rings (which I never finished). I had it for a week already and I barely managed a few chapters. So many, too little time to read (especially if you consider Boxall's list). But anyway, this might interest.

  1. ULYSSES by James Joyce
  2. THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald (have read)
  4. LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov
  5. BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley
  6. THE SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner
  7. CATCH-22 by Joseph Heller
  8. DARKNESS AT NOON by Arthur Koestler (will read)
  9. SONS AND LOVERS by D.H. Lawrence (have read)
  10. THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck (will read)
  11. UNDER THE VOLCANO by Malcolm Lowry
  12. THE WAY OF ALL FLESH by Samuel Butler
  13. 1984 by George Orwell (have read)
  14. I, CLAUDIUS by Robert Graves
  15. TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf (have read)
  16. AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY by Theodore Dreiser
  17. THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER by Carson McCullers
  18. SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut (will read)
  19. INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison
  20. NATIVE SON by Richard Wright
  21. HENDERSON THE RAIN KING by Saul Bellow
  23. U.S.A. (trilogy) by John Dos Passos
  24. WINESBURG, OHIO by Sherwood Anderson
  25. A PASSAGE TO INDIA by E.M. Forster
  26. THE WINGS OF THE DOVE by Henry James
  27. THE AMBASSADORS by Henry James
  28. TENDER IS THE NIGHT by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  29. THE STUDS LONIGAN TRILOGY by James T. Farrell
  30. THE GOOD SOLDIER by Ford Madox Ford
  31. ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell
  32. THE GOLDEN BOWL by Henry James
  33. SISTER CARRIE by Theodore Dreiser
  34. A HANDFUL OF DUST by Evelyn Waugh
  35. AS I LAY DYING by William Faulkner
  36. ALL THE KING'S MEN by Robert Penn Warren (have read)
  37. THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY by Thornton Wilder
  38. HOWARDS END by E.M. Forster
  39. GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN by James Baldwin
  40. THE HEART OF THE MATTER by Graham Greene
  41. LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding (have read)
  42. DELIVERANCE by James Dickey
  43. A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME (series) by Anthony Powell
  44. POINT COUNTER POINT by Aldous Huxley
  45. THE SUN ALSO RISES by Ernest Hemingway (will read)
  46. THE SECRET AGENT by Joseph Conrad
  47. NOSTROMO by Joseph Conrad
  48. THE RAINBOW by D.H. Lawrence
  49. WOMEN IN LOVE by D.H. Lawrence
  50. TROPIC OF CANCER by Henry Miller (will read)
  51. THE NAKED AND THE DEAD by Norman Mailer
  52. PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT by Philip Roth (have read)
  53. PALE FIRE by Vladimir Nabokov
  54. LIGHT IN AUGUST by William Faulkner
  55. ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac (reading)
  56. THE MALTESE FALCON by Dashiell Hammett
  57. PARADE'S END by Ford Madox Ford
  58. THE AGE OF INNOCENCE by Edith Wharton (will read)
  59. ZULEIKA DOBSON by Max Beerbohm
  60. THE MOVIEGOER by Walker Percy
  62. FROM HERE TO ETERNITY by James Jones
  63. THE WAPSHOT CHRONICLES by John Cheever
  64. THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger (have read)
  65. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess (have read)
  66. OF HUMAN BONDAGE by W. Somerset Maugham
  67. HEART OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad
  68. MAIN STREET by Sinclair Lewis
  69. THE HOUSE OF MIRTH by Edith Wharton
  70. THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET by Lawrence Durell
  71. A HIGH WIND IN JAMAICA by Richard Hughes
  72. A HOUSE FOR MR BISWAS by V.S. Naipaul
  73. THE DAY OF THE LOCUST by Nathanael West
  74. A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway
  75. SCOOP by Evelyn Waugh
  77. FINNEGANS WAKE by James Joyce
  78. KIM by Rudyard Kipling
  79. A ROOM WITH A VIEW by E.M. Forster
  80. BRIDESHEAD REVISITED by Evelyn Waugh
  82. ANGLE OF REPOSE by Wallace Stegner
  83. A BEND IN THE RIVER by V.S. Naipaul
  84. THE DEATH OF THE HEART by Elizabeth Bowen
  85. LORD JIM by Joseph Conrad
  86. RAGTIME by E.L. Doctorow
  87. THE OLD WIVES' TALE by Arnold Bennett
  88. THE CALL OF THE WILD by Jack London
  89. LOVING by Henry Green
  90. MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN by Salman Rushdie
  91. TOBACCO ROAD by Erskine Caldwell
  92. IRONWEED by William Kennedy
  93. THE MAGUS by John Fowles
  94. WIDE SARGASSO SEA by Jean Rhys
  95. UNDER THE NET by Iris Murdoch
  96. SOPHIE'S CHOICE by William Styron (have read)
  97. THE SHELTERING SKY by Paul Bowles
  99. THE GINGER MAN by J.P. Donleavy
  100. THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS by Booth Tarkington
You should also check out the reader's list (in the same website) which has Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead and Stephen King's The Stand, both of which I have read too.

Friday, August 07, 2009


I was two years old when the EDSA revolution took place. But unfortunately, I was too young to actually take part in it; hell I don't even remember where I was that time. And so I was able to learn about it by the books, just like everybody who were born after that historic event. I resorted to texting some of my friends in Manila and my colleagues who were there if they attended the wake or witnessed the cortege to get a feel of their experience. I would've wanted to be there.

The last time I remembered shedding a tear while something historic was happening on national TV was when the late Pope John Paul II came to the Philippines. I was so young that time but I remembered this figure waving to the multitudes of people who were as equally moved as I am. Though try as I may, I wasn't really able to explain why I cried. I just did.

I cried during the necrological services but mostly due to Kris' speech. That prodigal daughter whose elitist, puerile tendencies I've felt were such shameless loathsome acts for someone whose parents were national icons not only of democracy but of simplicity. But she was true; she was sincere as she could ever be in that farewell speech. For how can you fault a grieving daughter who can't find the words to say goodbye to her mother? It hit me when she said that they're gonna be okay, but then not. For how can anyone say they are truly, completely okay when a part them has been taken away forever.

My mom died 14 years ago of breast cancer when cure and even prevention were not only rare but costly. Her birthday was August 5, the day of Cory's burial. And so I remember the loss, the pain; revived by the beautiful eulogies. Despite being so young at that time, Mama's parting words to me at her deathbed reverberates up to this moment. How can you truly say you will be okay, when you go back to the loss and still feel the same pain, the same emptiness?

Photo from Nat Garcia (AFP/Getty Images) courtesy of foreignpolicy blog.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The female horse.

Either the combination of vodka and gin or barrels of pulang kabayo would in no time unearth demons of bygone years. Fuck that female horse, eh? Guys, since when did we last saw each other? I hope this will turn out to be an extinguished episode in a telenovela that never should have been aired. Let's just drink and be wasted.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

It has got to come.

If I was gonna do a version of Sam Cooke's classic, I would have to name it A Change HAS GOT to come. Damn, it's been a long time comin'.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

trailer truck

It hasn't really occurred to me but an effective indicator of how your life is being busied up by work is by the amount of trailers that you've missed premiered online. As you know, new trailers are being churned out like crazy online, then you realize there's really a ton of movies being churned out every year. Sus! Imagine living in India and thinking they would really release 500 trailers. To sum the copious trailers I just saw in one sitting while doing overtime work on a friggin' Sunday, I can say vampires, zombies and toilet humour.

Have you seen the trailer for the new Apatow bromance? Funny as hell, you might even rekindle some punch-drunk love for Adam Sandler here and Eric Bana is hilarious in his accent. Oh and throw in some Seth Rogen please. I'm looking forward to seeing Funny People. And though I can sniff some Charlie Kaufman-ish shticks, I would want to see Paul Giamatti in Cold Souls. Other comedies looks swell too, like Couples Retreat and Ricky Gervais' The Invention of Lying.

When what seemed to be the dramatic twist in the film is revealed to me, I said, Wha? ABS has thought it first via the Kim-Gerald soap. But then I would want to see a famished Toby Maguire outside Spidey's suit, with Jake Gylenhaal and Natalie Portman in Jim Sheridan's new film, Brothers. I'm really, really, really excited of Moon, which made waves in Sundance and Tribeca. I can see hints of Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris and yeah, throw in some 2001: A Space Odyssey feel in there too. After that bland Choke, Sam Rockwell looks promising in this one.

Just saw Dead Snow this afternoon and boy was it campy. But it's fun. If my 6 and 8-year old bros were laughing at the dismemberment, then I think it's really harmless. If you like intestines for starters, then this schlocky gorefest may just be for you. Also saw Departures the other night. You know the one whose director made a funny speech at the Oscar, the one which beat the anticipated Waltz with Bashir. Simple, doesn't break new ground though but looks gorgeous enough for Academy voters. A blend of comic and melodramatic touches. What's best though is we take a glimpse in a not-so familiar Japanese tradition. It's about death but then it's about life too, as simple as that.

I forgot to talk about Earth, the BBC documentary which is a staggering and painstaking work of art and beauty. If it wasn't intentional, it could be the docu capping An Inconvenient Truth and The 11th Hour. While the two were mostly about scientific and practical approaches, Earth cuts down to the basic equation of all. You have to see it. Also saw The Hurt Locker, which I've been dying to see and which to my surprise scored one of the most highest critic ratings when I checked RT and Metacritic. What can I say but to re-echo what LA Times critic A.O. Scott said, "If it is not the best action movie this summer, I'll blow up my car!" I haven't seen Public Enemies yet, but hands down, this has got to be one of the year's best in action, or even the year's best, period. Kathryn Bigelow gives the guys a run for their war movies, take that. The camera work, editing, acting (Jeremy Renner in an unexpectedly subtle yet powerful performance) is totally swell. If you check you breathing or heartbeat and it's not pulsating like crazy, you're not human.

Friday, July 10, 2009

von trier and genital clipping

I have to admit that I haven't seen Dancer in the Dark, or Dogville, perhaps two of Lars Von Trier's famous films. Though I have The Idiots, I haven't really seen it in full, just jumping from one scene to next, most of which are graphic copulation of retards. I'm looking forward to Antichrist though. No, Brillante Mendoza's Kinatay failed to really make a hoopla over at Cannes last May, encompassed by the flesh-boring, genital-clipping, ball-crushing craziness that is Antichrist. I'd prolly jump in glee when I see it in bootleg, then people would dart fearsome stares at me when they know it's over a bootleg copy of the film. A friend of mine, who saw in Copenhagen, said that she really didn't cringe at the supposed controversial scenes. It won't be shown here, that I'm sure, or else it won't be flesh-boring, genital-clipping, ball-crushing anymore.

Got this photo via the film's site. Conjures up images from NIN's The Perfect Drug music video. Creepily good, isn't it?

Sunday, July 05, 2009


Young Michael on the cover of the recent Newsweek.
Hasn't so much devastated me, at least not having that urge to play his songs and download his videos, or worse horribly mimicking his moves and screeching falsettos. I did though, the screech, only to my colleague’s fervent request, while watching a recent spate of news via hotel cable in Pagadian. MTV has been showing his videos as well. After going back to Pagadian after a weeklong sun’s exposure courtesy of airport runways and national roads being rehabbed, we drank a couple of beers while listening to an old duo singing old songs (it’s free anyway). During the band’s break, Jacko’s old videos played incessantly. The crowd seemed to be mesmerized. I bet some of them don’t even remember where the trademark moves come from. The singing came back just in time to cut off Thriller. So we left.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Walking and looking for the famous Iloilo biscocho and other whatchamacallits when I was in Iloilo the other week, I saw a Villa Estrella in one of the streets. When a news came out of some similarly named estate claiming to be disparaged by the upcoming horror vehicle, I surmise it was that. I didn't even bother to take a picture because I would run the risk of posting it here and then I could be in some really big trouble. What I learned though is that while marauding in unchartered streets, you run the risk of stepping on poop. You're busy looking at everywhere.
I recently learned that Anne Curtis, my only favorite artista whom I'm crushing on for a long time, swoons over Bloc Party. You know... Bloc Party ba... I like the band, who happens to be, again, British, though not as ultimately, ultimately as Anne. It's another straw to my liking her more. Did I mention I got to meet her? She doesn't remember me of course. Back when she spent hapless, unfortunate days as a stereotyped talent in that other network. Gosh, this is senseless.

Saturday, June 06, 2009


If life was only lush and smooth as any Nat King Cole song. But then it isn't and so I listen, if only to assuage whatever. Oh not really. I'm just digging this album, thanks to Mark, who I know will be a great DOP someday, or is actually on the process of becoming; Mark my words. Anyhoots, listen to The King's Re:Generations to find out why I feel joyous and coked up even though I'm in a sometimes boring workplace. Listening to tracks with masterful re-mastering of Lush Life (which I compare to woozing from a binging escapade; you can even hear the sagitsit of the vinyl on the turntable, fuckin' brilliant) and Day In Day Out. Traces of Brazilian beats overflow in most of the concoctions like The Game of Love and More and More of Your Amour. At the rate it's going, Mr. Nat over here might give Frank and Michael a run, for my abused eardrums.

Monday, June 01, 2009

boobtube boohoos

What is the most schizo show on local TV today? Roughly translated, it's us two, if you get what I mean and if you watch it in the first place. Oh I do catch it sometimes, and there's no point really trying to battle it out with the rest of the household because the goddamn TV that we have is such a crap. By crap means 5 channels. I don't really know if there are a dozen of schizo shows out there on local tv but I can single out the star-studded ABS show that smacks accolade-naming right in your face if only to compensate how lame-ass the "main stars" are. One minute is like a badly drawn dramatic sketch but then you really couldn't say if it is what it depicts itself to be or maybe a fucking comedy because the joke is really on us. You thought a particular moment was great acting, like in the case of Jake, who I think does better in some scenes than Amboy Gerald who delivers his lines in spasmic gasps you think he's dying or something like a bad case of hiccups. But then who are you kidding really. It's the usual disposable junk they churn out. And of course, there's Kim Mantis whose idea of acting prowess is through crying a Ganges river of tears. But what's the point right? Who gives a damn for people who appreciate 30 Rock, because they practically have cable tv anyway, or like me who have to resort to buying bootleg. Which I think I'll have to talk about in another entry because it's really fucking hilarious I can't even begin to cite which episode.

On a sidenote, I think I just came. Shit, the day ends fantabulously at least. A friend just forwarded to me Fat Segal's full version of the Skins theme, which is already too much since I was just looking for the 26 second version of it. I'm on a unit in a friggin' net cafe because martial law has been deployed on anything related to download at the office. So I asked my friend over YM to download and email it to me. So I'm like listening to it now and having a friggin' time of my life. In Cassie's words: lovely. And she's drugged and has not eaten in three days.

I'm suppose to continue on another boobtube boo-hoo but it suddenly, wait... yes, another freak of nature, Papa P, sang the Idol song this year on ASAP. The show is kinda so-so compared to crap they put up in the other channel. Fuck, he sounds like a balloon out of helium that I can see the veins on his neck on the verge of eruption. Plus, why do they even let him sing? Even Martin wasn't any good. Proof that we should refrain from being too updated because it would just suck, and they sound like phonies singing something which they think would make them cool and hip. Again, pointless inquiry. Ladies, people, would put up with it, notwithstanding.

Should I talk about the recent AI results? Well it's not really recent but I would just like to say that I predicted Kris when he sang Ain't No Sunshine. I think that's 9 weeks before the big showdown. Like when I predicted it to be Cook when he did that awesome version of Billy Jean, that was way before the Always be my Baby craze. Again, 9 weeks before he crushed Archuleta. I dunno if that says something.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

On the sublime

We say we are speechless, breathless. Or, we suddenly coat our tongues with adjectives that never really surmount a beauty unfolding. Both are clichés really. But which cliché do we turn to, when we are dwarfed by awe, with something immaculate? Jeez, immaculate is an adjective.
"Sublime places repeat in grand terms a lesson that ordinary life typically introduces viciously: that the universe is mightier than we are, that we are frail and temporary and have no alternative but to accept limitations on our will; that we must bow to necessities greater than ourselves. " - Alain de Botton
4th photo courtesy of The Islander

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cannes 2009

Hear ye, hear ye, the official line up of Cannes 2009 is up for grabs. Loads of heavyweight shit. Pretty impressive lineup huh. Where else can you find Tarantino, Lee, Campion, Almodovar, and a familiar posse of Haneke, Loach, Noe, Lou Ye, Chan-Wook, To, Ming-liang, Coixet, Von Trier, and Alain Resnais! and Mendoza strikes yet again, whew, gosh, did I already mention the entire oeuvre? That's how promising it looks. But the unfortunate remains, I have to beg off from attending the coverage of the premiere. I know it sucks, especially if delude yourself. Ha! Anyway, the Pinoy indie scene is on a rampage. Martin and Alix also makes an appearance in Un Certain Regard and Special Screenings.

The complete line up:
  • Pedro Almodovar - Broken Embraces
  • Andrea Arnold - Fish Tank
  • Jacques Audiard - Un Prophete
  • Marco Bellocchio – Vincere
  • Jane Campion - Bright Star
  • Xavier Giannoli – A L’Origine
  • Isabel Coixet – Map of the Sounds of Tokyo
  • Michael Haneke - The White Ribbon
  • Ang Lee – Taking Woodstock
  • Ken Loach – Looking for Eric
  • Lou Ye - Spring Fever
  • Brillante Mendoza – Kinatay
  • Gaspar Noe – Enter The Void
  • Park Chan-Wook – Thirst
  • Alain Resnais – Les Herbes Folles
  • Elia Suleiman – The Time That Remains
  • Quentin Tarantino - Inglourious Basterds
  • Johnnie To – Vengeance
  • Tsai Ming-liang – Face
  • Lars Von Trier – Antichrist
The poster by the way is taken from Michaelangelo Antonioni's 1960 film L'Avventura.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Book binge.

Back to the dull daily drudgery. Wait, was that an alliteration? Does that even count? Coz I'm hounded by figures of speech for weeks now. It's like guilt. Counting the official LOA yesterday and the extended 2-day stay in Manila, I was out of the office for 10 days. If my official 1 day trip had been scheduled earlier, I could have planned for a trip to the North, which I have silently longed for the past couple of years. But then, I had spent whatever was intended for that trip on my brother’s graduation, so the longed-for trip was remotely possible unless I start an early Holy Week sojourn and self-flagellation. And so I just gallivanted the polluted, labyrinthine metropolis and tripped on the MRT courtesy of the humongous ass of Mr. Ginormico. I was stuck at home during the long break and surprised myself with an unquenchable gusto for reading. Well, not that I read less, in fact, I read everyday, even managing a single or two pages of my current reading despite exhaustion or self-imposed sluggishness. But Holy Thursday, I just grabbed the remainders of a hardbound I was reading and just read like nuts. When it becomes monotonous and I feel a certain kind of stupor that can only be attributed to hours of reading, I will start on another book, then repeat the process until I end up book-hopping with Smith (Zadie), Perrotta, Niffeneger, Yates, DeLillo, Ellis. Even at the airport, while waiting on the packed flight to Davao, avoiding the unavoidable traffic that would have mounted to unbelievable proportions, I had three hours idling away with Tom Perrotta. Surprising also that I haven’t spent the time catching up on the bootleg films I’ve amassed for the previous month, which was the more likely thing I would’ve done. Along with watching tons of films, I could live on an everyday book binge. It's one of those things that I know I can do for the rest of my life, every single day, and not regret about it, if only it is possible. Well it technically you can do that, cross off every single title in the list of 1001 books to read before you die, which I found an online version of (I just dunno if it's the same one as that voluminous version I found at NBS). If only life was book-simple and as always fascinating and adventuresome as reading. But then it isn't. And so we settle for the more interesting lives of distressed men, young and old, the enchanting women, lustful and devious, the loonies, misfits of this generation and bygone eras, even hobbits, elves and giants-as if we too have lived theirs.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Death and his friends.

I don't want a battle from beginning to end
I don't want a cycle of recycled revenge
I don't wanna follow death all of his friends.

-Coldplay, Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends, 2008

It's Easter and I'm talking about death. Christ resurrected today so I really should be talking about life or renewal, or anything like it but I'm not really capable of such. And I think I've run out of things to say about life for the moment, especially since I always equate it with suffering and perpetual struggle. Before I fell asleep last night, which was Black Saturday, this Coldplay song was the last one I heard on the mp3 player. It can be pretty vague, the meaning. But that last line may as well be fear, I dunno. Death, after all is as inescapable as life, or so the phenomenology stuff we've managed to get ourselves into in our collegiate philosophical discourses would make us believe. The first cry of the then unborn signifies the inevitability of its final breath. Death is like life's partner easily put. This month, about 5 immediate family members of my colleagues died, mostly because of some illness. Last Monday, an aunt of a friend whom I briefly met in Manila died of a chopper crash. That's too much death in a month I would say. The office ought to be blessed or exorcised with whatever demons or curse it has, again I say. Because this silly idea of a death pattern perpetrated by the Final Destination series has again to me occurred. FD was kind of influential because after seeing the first installment, morbid thoughts on ways one dies occur to me regularly. While in transit, I'll imagine a monstrous vehicular accident and bloodbath. Walking on streets, I get a feeling of worn-out sharp debris like GI sheets or metal tubes bludgeoning the unmindful passersby. And blood, blood like geysers out of decapitated limbs courtesy of The Bride. Then came the sometimes funny and insignificant ways people die at the start of every Six Feet Under episode made me feel like shit sometimes. The fascination over death turns into it being a normalcy, a kind of everyday happening, deduced into a newspaper headline or an exclusive TV report. A statistic that becomes significant over time decorated with all kinds of analyses. But how do we discount the loss, the pain, the anguish, the years? Who am I really kidding with a veneer of bravery?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Doppelgangers and lobsters

Third consecutive night of staying late at the office. Sorta big thing tomorrow, by office approximations. Last night, I logged out around 230am. At midnight, I saw our guard's doppelganger. Might be my astigmatism. Second time I saw something like it though. I told my colleague before she has one and she jumped at me. Friday night I was with 2 guy colleagues here also and out of the blue I plugged in Smashing Pumpkins and crazily mimicked Billy Corgan's voice doing Butterfly With Bullet Wings. "Despite of my rage, I'm still just a rat in a cage." Junee freaked out with the freakish precision. Then I did Gary V's Di Bale na Lang. Hay. Stress and the boundaries of insanity it pushes you to.

Anyway, I caught this short story by Woody Allen in The New Yorker in the light of the Madoff hullabaloo and its whirlwind of entanglements. The story is hilarious though, about fucked-up clients who ended up as lobsters to exact their revenge on the crazy sonofabitch by pincering his nose.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

When at a loss for words...

...give them that look on your face.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


It’s almost unlikely to hear Chris Brown or Beyonce over the vehicle radio, which was showing signs of dead air, as we inch closer to Munai in Lanao del Norte. But to think such would be succumbing to the usual backwardness and ignorance of the “central people” about Mindanao who are “too cool to care”. (May Philhealth ba kayo d’yan? Pano kayo gumigimik?)

We are “massaged” inside the vehicle by extremely rough roads. There is nothing to be seen but tall coconut trees, smoky air coming from copra burning against the morning Munai rain.

Munai is almost cloistered, so when you see bullet holes perforating the municipal hall, you can’t quite imagine that heavy gunfight last August 2008 once ruled over its relative calmness, with 23 out of its 26 barangays severely affected.

A view of Munai from the top of the municipal hall, and children.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How do you break free without breaking apart?

Apparently, they have the answer. Much as I wouldn't want to talk Oscars... Ok, whatever, let me post this fantastic photo instead of one of the most indubitable tandems, real-life at that, of 2008. Vanity Fair released this, and other actor-director tandems, weeks before ceremonies, but I'm posting it now.

Due to insistent public demand, or rather, due to a demand made publicly (hi Andy, hehe), I'm posting also the Woody-Penelope photo. What conjures up your mind?

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