Tuesday, June 13, 2017

bad experience



It’s mind-boggling why our country's Department of Tourism (DOT) keeps on changing its tourism tagline. We had “Wow Philippines: More Than The Usual” (good) and then “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” (the worst!) and then “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” (the best!) and then, suddenly, we now have “Experience The Philippines”.

Malaysia and Thailand have been using “Malaysia, Truly Asia” and “Amazing Thailand” for several years, respectively. The Philippines, on the other hand, is on a regular Russian roulette with its tourism identity. Seriously, experience? Karanasan? As in, experience the President? Experience his mouth? Perhaps it refers to bad experience? Perhaps this is another way of spending more taxpayer money on new but unnecessary campaigns?

And speaking of taxpayer money, it is revealed that P650-million is spent on this ad campaign. Yes, almost a billion pesos worth of our money. Let that sink in.

Even if we could let those jokes shrug away, the slogan still sounded like it came from two joyless advertising interns who had a sudden realization they had chosen the wrong profession and would rather grab the nearest Pale Pilsens than do what they were told to do. There is no verve, no spunk, no imagination. It is, in short, weak and uninspired. I mean, how can we ever maintain, or at least establish, brand consistency and familiarity if we keep changing our slogan?

It is even more hilarious that this slogan holds on to the brilliant work of the previous administration’s DOT (“It’s More Fun in the Philippines”), albeit it is now written in smaller font like an after-thought that one has to squint his eyes a little harder, as if this year’s slogan decision-makers have congregated and said, “We don’t like to be associated with that work, but it’s really good noh, so let’s just keep it in there, in teeny-weeny letters, shall we?”




And just when I thought this new tourism campaign was bad enough for its squirmy, forgettable and overly sentimental nature, it turned out that the ad was almost a frame-by-frame copy of another ad from South Africa—from the narrative down to the twist in the end. Remember the budget allocated for this campaign? Let me tell you, in case you forgot: It is P650-million. You have that whopping budget and you’d still end up copying another country’s work. Palm, meet face.

Of course, the DOT and the advertising agency behind the commercial stick to their guns, claiming that their concept is original. But with universal access to information now easier than ever, and with that massive amount of disposable income, couldn’t the agency and DOT create something more original than the kind of “original” they had in mind? Because if this is their concept of original, which is actually a copy of something else, who knows what blunder they would come up next.

Truly, these are tough times. After being subjected to Ernesto Abella’s call for “creative imagination” last year and Mocha Uson’s insistence on “symbolism” a few weeks ago, just to defend their discrepancies and interpret their inconsistencies, we are now forced to accept that plagiarism can be “original”. This makes you wonder and ask yourself: Gaguhan na lang ba talaga?

Friends and loved ones, you might as well go to other countries now.




Sunday, June 11, 2017

flower vendors



Mauro Malang, born on January 20, 1928, died yesterday, June 10, 2017. It is hard to believe. I remember back in Grade 3 or 4, how I first saw his works in the arts section of a newspaper one evening, how I was floored by them all, like something in me clicked, like something just fell into the right place. There was one artwork that stuck in my head, and today I searched for it online. It is that painting above.

As a child, I enjoyed copying works that simply attracted my short attention span (Hallmark cards, cartoons, encyclopedia illustrations, even drawings by my older siblings), but the moment I saw Malang’s paintings, or at least a photographic rendering of them, I think I said to myself, “This is different.”

There was this cockiness in his lines, this wild assuredness in this brushstrokes, this mixture of humility and simmering strength in the simplicity of his subjects’ faces. From here on, I believe his artistry is what guided my methods in visualizing idea and memory, and are, along the way, further enriched upon encountering the works of Pablo Picasso, Vicente Manansala, Jose Joya, Ang Kiukok, and several other is the abstractionist vein.

Finally, I saw a couple of Malang’s works in person, in the National Museum in Ermita, Manila several years ago, and I remember being massively emotional. Today, writing this, it happened again, but this time for an entirely different reason. .

Thursday, June 01, 2017

beyond wonders


After 75 years since its inception in comic book form, we are finally blessed with a “Wonder Woman” movie. And in a milieu that often witnesses several remakes of Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man, it is refreshing that Patty Jenkins—a female director no less—finally gets the superheroine to the silver screen and gets it right. Here is a straight-up origin story; how a young resolute Amazon in mythical island nation of Themyscira becomes Diana Prince in hideous First World War-era London and ultimately becomes the savior that the story requires (and the whole Justice League narrative in the coming years). The narrative is precise, and it is a film not beleaguered by beautiful but incoherent moments, the same moments that bog down “Man of Steel” [2013], “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” [2016], and “Suicide Squad” [2016]. Credit goes to Gal Gadot who embodies Wonder Woman’s intelligence and naiveté, royalty and athleticism so effortlessly. She is born for this role. All of these traits make for a perfect foil to Chris Pine’s spirited, believably charismatic Steve Trevor. I also think this is the first time in a long while in a superhero movie that a group of women in tight and curiously skin-baring armours never felt gratuitous and vulgar, with not a single shot lingering on cleavages and derrieres. Instead, the film focuses—quite unbelievably because it has never been portrayed that way until today—on these women’s wit, strength, and above all, compassion. The past DC films have been aggressive with their philosophy, masculinity, and pandering sulkiness, as if everyone has gone cold and dead inside. But “Wonder Woman” goes the other route. Although it is not a perfect route, especially the latter part's CGI bonanza, it reaches its goal in making a necessary and relevant hero: that one needs to have heart, even in a time of hate and deception. It is a film (not just a superhero film) that is surely remembered for its message, not its minor flaws. Simply put, this film is way “above average.” If you know what I mean. 

[ image borrowed from this site ]

Thursday, March 02, 2017

this old man



If what Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart have said were true, that James Mangold's "Logan" will be their final movie as Wolverine and Charles Xavier, then they are definitely leaving the 17-year-old franchise with a bang. And you, breathless. This latest X-Men movie is void of the other mutants we’ve come to love and make its universe colorful. Meaning, there is no shape-shifting Mystique, there is no Magneto bending a fork. In fact, there is not much obvious (and sometimes cheap-looking) CGI at work here compared to that forgettable Apocalypse outing. In this storyline though that takes place in the year 2029, we have Jackman’s Wolverine who is now extremely rugged and is becoming increasingly cynic to everyone around him, including a Professor X who seems to have aged not so very well. Both seems to be withering not only on the outside but also deep within the recesses of their being. And we have Laura, a new mutant who could be the perfect remedy for the numerous doubts and hopelessness of Wolverine. Or not? It is hard not to see this film as a reflection of our current times—the never-ending hate towards people who are different from other people, the uncertainties that meet us in every corner, the fragile thread that connects life and death. This film is brutal, angry, and in several instances, too painful to watch, that it totally upends all of our existing notions of the strong, seemingly unbreakable superhero—which is very ironic for a character with super-healing powers. And for a character that wields sinister blades from the edges of his fists, Logan is a surprise in that we only got this kind of Wolverine movie just now. Although Mangold may have succeeded in finally shedding light on the weaknesses of iconic superheroes, this one ultimately ends on a strong, high note. I am putting this up there, next to Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” [2008] and Joe Johnston’s “Captain America: The First Avenger,” as one of the best comic-book superhero movies in recent memory.

[ image borrowed from this site ]

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

under the moon


Have you experienced something so profound you are left reeling like a top until you slow down and come to a complete stillness you never knew could happen to you? It did happen to me when the last frame of Barry Jenkin’s “Moonlight” cut to black to reveal the end credits. It is difficult to describe how I feel—except that I have felt. It tells the story of Chiron in three parts—first as a silent and unwanted boy, second as a bullied teenager, and third as a man who questions the very nature of being one. What does it mean to be masculine? How he maneuvers this mystery with the people closest to him is the tension of this gorgeous film. It does not help that he has a drug addict for a mother, a stranger who later becomes his surrogate father who also turns out to be the source of his mother’s addiction, and a bestfriend who becomes more than a bestfriend in one revelatory night. This friend’s name is Kevin, and he is the tipping point to Chiron’s journey of self-examination. The film is a work of poetry—from the strong performances of the actors, the high contrast of the landscape, to the camera lingering no longer than a few seconds on a man’s stoic face and then moving on to another one in rage, and the use of water as a metaphor for rebirth, cleansing, and desire. In one scene, a man said to Chiron, “At some point, you get to decide for yourself who you want to be. You can’t let nobody make that decision for you.” There is no other film that I can recall so far that tackles the delicate tightrope of masculinity in this manner. These days the slightest hint of weakness and vulnerability is enough reason for people to leave and abandon you, and this is the reason why the existence of “Moonlight”—which is adapted from the stage play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue”—makes it a highly relevant one. It is the ugly truth that the LGBTQ community rarely acknowledges. If the power of its obvious Oscar competition, Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land,” comes from putting its sentimentality on its sleeves, “Moonlight” does it by restraining its sentimentality as much as it can until it cannot hold it much longer. The emotion is close to bursting. Although the film touches on issues such as addiction, prejudice, and sexual identity, it does not aim to provoke nor does it intend to create noise. What it does instead is to show things as they are. It shows us how to feel, and it whispers to us there is nothing wrong with that.

[ image lifted from this site ]

Friday, February 03, 2017

listen to your heart sing


It is unanimous that 2016 is the year of great movies, a fact which makes for a perfect salve to the 2016 that is awful, ugly, rude in real life. One of these great movies—at least for me—was Damien Chazelle’s colorfully saturated, highly-spirited musical “La La Land.” Starring Ryan Reynolds as a jazz pianist and Emma Stone as an aspiring actress, the film is said to be a love letter to old Hollywood musicals. But there is no need to be an aficionado of its variety of references and homages. If the sight of people suddenly bursting into song on a major highway is no problem for you, then you would probably enjoy this as much as you did with the television series “Glee” or Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge!” [2001]. All you need to do to is to dive straight into the intense sincerity of Gosling’s Sebastian and Stone’s Mia, and you’d know here lies the tension. In this time and age when superheroes and the supernatural regularly invade our movie going experience, it is impressive that “La La Land” features no villain: no hysterical wine-wielding woman, no cheating boyfriend, no scheming maniac who aims to rule over the world. Just dreams and passions, the very same things that could lift anyone to the skies in bliss. Or, as proven by many in the real world, pull each other apart. And that is the most tragic thing that could happen to anyone, whether it’s in the realm of fantasy or reality. I think this is the only film that I’ve seen in a very long while that takes a surgical, precise understanding on the pains of defining one’s priorities and the myriad of emotions that goes through the process. It is hard. “La La Land,” like many other beautiful stories, is painful to watch, but it is also stories like this that make the heart sing a memorable tune.

[ image borrowed from this site ]

Sunday, December 25, 2016

happy holidays!

It’s that familiar time of the year. Only this time, I am in very unfamiliar place. Thankfully, familiar people surround me in this season of cheers and gratitude.

Greetings from TGB

From Team Carnice in TGB and AKL to yours, along with your relatives and friends, may you have a happy, colorful, Christmas every day of the year. Being joyful and grateful for the blessings and challenges overcome are just a few of the many great gifts you can give to your loved ones all year round (and perhaps also to one’s self).

With the most beautiful birthday girl this Christmas

On top of that, I’d like to add a shout-out to my mother who is celebrating her birthday on this special holiday. Christmas is never complete without her radiating light of love and beauty from inside and out. I wish I could be witness to more of her smiles and various acts of kindness in the coming years. My love for her is as profound as the birthing of a universe.

Greetings from AKL

Once again, happy holidays! Many grand things exist in this world to (ful)fill this lifetime, and one of them is to be reminded of what’s good, honest, and precious in this world. Have a great day.

Friday, December 23, 2016

changes this christmas

I’m on Day 17 in this foreign land, with 1 day or 24 hours left before Christmas (which also happens to be my mother's birthday), and just 7 days before I welcome another year in this lifetime. It is a privilege to be here, to be in new light (the sun springs out of the shadows at five in the morning and hides back in darkness only at nine in the evening), to be thousands of kilometers away from a country that does not seem to run out of emotional upheavals, political grievances, personal (ir)responsibilities.

It is, at the same time, bittersweet to be away from my family, relatives, the usual culprits who I’ve spent many holiday seasons with in the past. Never have I been so faraway that my skin tingles at the thought of ice-cold winds in a sunny summer alone. It is like living in Baguio or Tagaytay—only taken several notches higher.

But “change” is the word that is incessantly heard all throughout this year. Like a bell that never stops tolling, it demands to be noticed. It insists to be as relevant as ever that it now verges on a kind of desire or an ideal that seems so close to our reaches but always slips out of our hands. Perhaps this time it didn’t slip, perhaps this is the change that the universe has afforded me.

It is not without hesitation though, this change of scenery. Coming here brings a baggage that is not easy to carry, both figuratively and literally. When you live in the now, there is no denying that the past is close to the present, that yesterday is just a stone’s throw away to the next day. Hence, despite the overwhelming expanse of this country, one would never know when the ugly head of the unexpected goes peeking out of a corner.

Nevertheless, the past few days have been kind, have been brimming with beautiful possibilities. Fluctuating temperatures, jet lag, and change of time zones be damned! Some people have asked me, a genuine worry in their voice, if the place is too quiet for me. I gladly respond it is what I need: Peace from all the noise of this world. From Hamilton to Matakana, from Mission Bay to Royal Oak, from Matamata to Onehunga, from Tauranga to Ngatea, from Western Springs to Rotorua, from Queen Street to Bay of Plenty, so far so good. I have the say the travels are eventful. There’s more to come, and the season’s cheers and excitement are already feeling like close to home. Christmas is here to stay, in our hearts, and I will enjoy the holidays no matter where my feet take me to.

Happy Christmas, everyone!

favorite things


This morning at Onehunga I got two of my favorite things in this world: books and cats. Big, chunky, delicious books from local writers for less than $20 and a pair of kitty bookends to prop up those books for $15. Bargain level: Expert. If I’ve known way, way earlier, I’d probably be spending the past few weeks in those hard-to-find bookshops. But all in all, it still feels like my Christmas has arrived way too early. What a day.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

find them!


In theory, David Yate’s “Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them” is a difficult material to grapple with. It is not based on an actual novel but on a fictional textbook used in a fictional school. It features weary-looking adults that we are not familiar with. And for all its heavy-lifting to connect to the Harry Potter universe, it does not feature the three main characters that have made that universe endearing in the first place. I think this is why J.K. Rowling herself, the mastermind behind said universe, is hitched to write the movie’s script. The first story that showcased Rowling’s Wizarding World was released on 1997 and the latest was in July 2016 in the form of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a stage play performed in London and soon in New York. Now, decades have passed, and two factions have grown between the sporadic updates that Rowling expertly drops here and there: those who relished the revelations and those who grow tired of over-selling the story. As a millennial who first introduced the Harry Potter books to my elementary classmates when I was eight years old, obviously, I belong to the former. After thousands of pages of histories and back stories that all started in 1997, it is nothing short of fantastic that everything seems to connect so flawlessly into one elegant narrative, one that links the brand-new story of Newt Scamander in 1920’s New York in the “Fantastic Beasts” movie to The Boy Who Lived. Its plot is simple: a wizard goes to foreign land, accidentally unleashes mayhem, solves the problem, and stumbles upon new threats along the way. Eddie Redmayne was an odd choice to play Newt, but he proved himself capable of fitting into the world of nifflers, alohomoras, and wizard politics without standing out too much. Speaking of standing out, Alison Sudol’s mind-reading Queenie and Samantha Morton’s ultra-orthodox Mary Lou Barebones were clearly the salt and pepper that spiced up this movie. They stood out in many good ways. As for that surprise in the end? Not so much. I won’t spoil it here. There seems to be missing arcs in all the characters which drags the story from becoming truly exceptional. What is Newt’s real motivation for coming to the Big Apple? Why is the magical community in this city so backward? Why does Tina look eternally teary eyed? Despite the presence of the beasts that give the movie its bright humorous spots, there’s a veneer of sadness on each scene, or an undertone of something sinister and terrible is about to happen soon. Rowling is often accused of expanding (and milking) too much the Wizarding World, but with a tale teeming with cultural paranoia, political discontent and bigotry, this feels solid and relevant. Even with the obvious plot holes and the need for more instalments, I’d be happy to dive right into the chaos. I’m a fan.

[ photo borrowed from this site ].

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

no stranger thing


When I learned that Scott Derrickson’s “Doctor Strange” was finally screening in the local cinemas, I was genuinely excited. But one evening, upon leaving the theater, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I’ve been through this before. You see, the latest Marvel Studio’s film is like Iron Man but only with magic—here is an arrogant man that went through disastrous circumstances and went through a period of recovery and then discovery and went on saving the world (and the reality of existence itself) and went on meeting an Avenger. This is not to say that Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as the titular character is unimpressive. In fact, it is the opposite. He is full of wit, full of sharp, biting British humor. But then again, it feels like I’ve been through this before too. Case in point: his performance in the much-superior “Sherlock” TV series. It is a shame because this film has rounded up such an extraordinary, talented group of actors. There is Tilda Swinton who, without surprise, manages to pull off being a bald, seemingly-Oriental sorcerer but remains only as a fortune cookie wisdom-giver to our hero (which only further confirms my belief that she is Hollywood’s Meryl Streep for surreal, out-there characters). There is Mads Mikkelsen who is born to be a villain (see “Hannibal”, “Casino Royale”) but unfortunately ends up just like many of the villains in the past Marvel films: forgettable. There is Chiwetel Ejiofor who is such a solid artist in films like “12 Years A Slave” [2013] and “Children of Men” [2006] but also ends up like Mads Mikkelsen. There is Rachel McAdams who, as always, aces her job as a tough-cookie woman in a world dominated by men, just like in her past movie and television roles, only to be relegated in this movie as the obligatory love interest of our hero (which even felt forced). There is Benedict Wong who seems to be added in the cast to quiet down the controversy of having Tilda Swinton taking over the role of an Asian character. But all in all, it was an enjoyable viewing, especially if one does not think of all these little grievances or those who couldn’t care less (just like those in the audience who didn’t laugh at moments of hilarity but laughed at the sight of a black man). And those visuals, what a treat! I will not say they are original. In fact, such bombastic imagery has been previously showcased to great effect in films like The Matrix Trilogy, “Dark City” [1998], “The Adjustment Bureau” [2011], and most obviously, Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” [2010]. I think the action sequences are what saved this film from being mediocre at best—when the laws of physics are violently wrenched and broken here and there by both friendly and unfriendly sorcerers, the Rube Goldberg, M.C. Escher-like set pieces will certainly leave everyone in awe, as in literally, you will open your mouth in amazement. Which is kind of good, I guess, because it will remind you of your popcorn getting cold in the dark.

[ photo borrowed from this site ]

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

questions to ask

Last Sunday at church, during the evening worship service, I was a bit disappointed with the pastor’s sermon that I felt my heart drop into the pits of my stomach. The pastor kept referencing to Rodrigo Duterte’s methods, especially his so-called War on Drugs, as a way to achieve peace. There are many brilliant ways and references to discuss peace, and I think he should have thought of a better analogy. As I was listening to him, I wanted to grab him and tell him, “Pastor, that’s why it’s called a war! It has never been peaceful! It always results to unnecessary pain and bloodshed!”

Of course I couldn’t do that. So I remained on my seat and dismissed the thought of not sitting through the entirety of the sermon. But then there was his slight condemnation of celebrity Agot Isidro for her famous remark on the President’s insistence to end foreign aid to the Philippines. Isidro said on her social media account, “Ayaw naming magutom. Mag-isa ka nalang… You are not a bipolar. You are a psychopath.” The pastor went on criticizing her for that because, he said, she doesn’t think carefully about the implications and severity of her words. That Agot Isidro is downright insensitive. Excuse me, pastor, but have you actually heard any of the words that came out of our President’s mouth recently and in the past? Remember that rape remark, pastor? Pu**** i** diba, pastor? Bang diba?

This pastor then added that the Philippines really do not need any help from the U.S. or any foreign nation because we have our own rich resources, and that we should show to the world how we can sustain on our own. That’s another problematic statement for another post. I couldn’t believe I was hearing this inside a church. I wanted to ask him again, “Pastor, have you heard that Duterte is actually rubbing elbows China and Russia, two examples of a foreign nation?”

I thought this was the end of it, but he continued rallying for peace, that it could only be achieved by measures as drastic and sinister as Duterte’s. It was as if he suggested that drugs are indeed the sole root of all evil in this country. But what about mis-education, what about poverty, what about the rising lies, hate, pride, and intolerance advocated by our current president, the very anti-thesis to peace? It all left me thinking: did this pastor just support the idea of extra-judicial killings? Did he just imply that those thousands of deaths are okay and justifiable?

There was a lot of contradiction in his sermon’s message that I was left confused, my head spinning in all directions. It was like witnessing firsthand a brainwashing propaganda. I know each of us in that congregation has a personal political inclination, but I personally believe this pastor should’ve kept this inclination outside the church. Because the church should teach compassion, not confusion. The church should encourage love, not hate. This pastor must have forgotten about the separation between the state and the church.

I shared this sentiment online, and as expected, a Duterte rabid supporter entered the picture to argue with me, and I quote: “Bring out the thought police! Bawal ang personal opinion ng pastors! We should jail this pastor and anyone else for that matter! In fact, I find your speaking out about your intolerance for his intolerance intolerable. You should be jailed. In fact I find my speaking out about my intolerance for your intolerance for his intolerance quite intolerable. I too should be jailed.”

Pretty long, right? I would’ve laughed so hard on this rabid Duterte supporter’s comment if it was funny and witty, but unfortunately, it was not. It was flat and all noise. Just look at those exclamation points. Like many of his kind, this Duterte supporter once again missed the point. So I told him that he missed my point, and that there is no need to bring out the thought police. Why? Because we are already imprisoned by the thought that these rising number of deaths are okay.

This is not the first time I am accused of being intolerable, but for cases and causes such as this, yes, I will gladly remain intolerable. But truly, I am saddened. Because when a religious denomination suddenly sides a political ideal, whether it is Catholic or not, I think that church limits itself to only seeing things in black and white. No grey areas. And when a church somehow implies that killing is necessary to achieve peace, I think this church is not peaceful at its core.

After the service, as I left the church that evening, I felt something heavy inside me that was painful as heartbreak. For the first time in a long while, I felt betrayed by someone, something so important to me.

Monday, October 17, 2016

remember



Last Saturday morning, October 15, at around 8AM, my mother told me that sirens wailed and bells rang all over the city in Bohol, breaking the stillness that usually welcome the weekends in the province. I wondered why. And then I realized these served as a remembrance of an event in 2013. October 15 was the day Bohol was struck by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake at around 8:12 in the morning three years ago. It was a massive heartbreaking period of loss and devastation. Fast forward to this day, Bohol and its people have not forgotten but have carried on, returning to a normalcy that is communally worked on through the years. Padayon lang.

That is why I find it so timely I’ve just recently received a snapshot of my essay titled "A (Re)Collection of Stones" in proofread print, which would soon appear in the anthology The Bohol We Love, a book edited by an award-winning, talented Boholana Ms. Marjorie Evasco, and to be published by Anvil. In a few days, this proofread copy will be sent to the printers. In here, I’ve dedicated a section of my non-fiction work to a story about the earthquake’s aftermath in Loon, one of the hardest hit towns. Seeing this photo and seeing the stunning day outside the window at the same time make my heart swell with joy. I cannot wait for the book launching on December. It’s just one of those few things to look forward to in these dire times.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

the kill list chronicles

I’ve always made a point to recount my day’s activities and musings on a journal before I go to sleep. Sometimes I’d skip an evening or two, but I would return to these missed journaling assignments and remember as much as I can how things have gone by, no matter how mundane they are. Lately, though, the blank spaces are creeping up and crowding the pages.

There are several reasons why: laziness, procrastination, too tired to even lift a pen, too many distractions and temptations, there is nothing new to say. Of course, everyone has something new to say. Filipinos are born to always have something to say, even to the point of being pointless. But living in this life right now, in the middle of a political climate that is downright suffocating, any interest to continue pushing through can easily be pronounced dead. Or killed, by default.

To make my point clear, let’s consider the latest man in highest office in our country, a man whose ego is as fragile as Chinaware (no pun intended), who also seems to be an enabler of hate and prejudice, and a champion for lack of empathy and common sense. Because of his irreverent methods on getting things done, there is no hiding the fact that the Philippines has become a bloodied den of vigilantes, injustices, and foul brazen language.

Years ago journal writing has been my refuge, my way of assessing my sanity each day. It’s like an anchor that keeps me put. But today, I do not even know where my sanity begins and where its opposite lies. All the time I track myself if I am functioning properly. Recounting my day that is preoccupied with so much hate and horror again and again can take its toll. That is why for the most part of a week I would try hard as hell to ignore the news like a former paramour who just left you without explanation but returned several years later to get your attention. You know how evil can get under your skin. There is no understating that each week leaves me sore and beat. It doesn’t also help that there is this barrage of noise from social media that could render me—or anyone, rather—emotionally and spiritually mangled.

And there is still six more years to go. I hope I could still muster the energy needed to recount what is needed to be recounted. If only it could bring back the dead.


*


My work “Poetry as a Lesson in Dwelling” is featured in The Kill List Chronicles, an online repository of the continuing protest literature in the Philippines. I’ve read to a small audience in a café an early version of this poem during the International Day of Peace last September 21. It was a celebration across the globe to commemorate the peace we have right now and the peace we want to achieve for the next generation. Coincidentally, it was also the very same day that former president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared the bloody Martial Law in the Philippines 44 years ago.

The contradictions, at least for me, were just hard to wrap around my head. 44 years have passed and yet here we are still trying to value and teach the meaning of freedom, respect, and decency. When people are supposed to keep in heart to never forget and to never repeat the history that once broke us, many backtrack instead to the primitive desire to kill without the slightest thought of implications.

This piece took me countless shots of struggling hours to get through. The poetry is personal, and the personal apparently is political. And that is hard. I always consider my works as drafts, and it has always been that way even if they are released to the open for any possible reader to stumble upon. But for this particular work I’ve had the feeling I ought to let it go, that it needs to be separated from my being. Thankfully, it found a place. I do hope we’ll find each other’s peace soon. I hope we will all learn how to dwell to get the dwelling we deserve in this country and in this world. I hope.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

the anniversary


I was about to post something on my blog, when I thought of checking out my archives. Lo and behold, I just discovered last August 26 was the 10th year anniversary of this personal blog. I mean, who would’ve thought that a simple challenge and hobby among college friends back in 2006—which became an online repository of early attempts at literature, rants and opinions, humor and melodrama, and all things sundry—will last this long? 10 years. Imagine that. In this little corner on the internet, I see how my writing has evolved, and it gives me goosebumps stumbling upon old entries. Yucks. Because of this realization, I began checking out the blogs of my college friends too. Unfortunately, all of them have tended other distractions and priorities, and most of their last posts have been published in the mid-2000s. I don’t know what to whip up for this milestone. Perhaps Top 10 of this and that? Maybe. For now, I will have to settle with sprucing it up a bit, give the banner picture a new look.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

buwan ng mga akdang pinoy: ani 39



My work “Poetry as a Lesson in Zoology” will be included in the 39th edition of ANI, the official literary journal of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. What a heartwarming way to end this month. Good news: that’s one dream finally ticked off the bucket list. Bad news: I won’t be able to attend the book launching on September 23 at the CCP Silangan Hall, 5PM, with the same event also serving as a celebration for the 47th anniversary of CPP. Sayang.

This particular edition takes on the theme “Kahayupan: The Animal Kingdom,” and it is touted to be the thickest issue of ANI yet. It has the cover art by Neil Doloricon, and the published works are written in various languages like Filipino, Ilokano, Akeanon, Bikol, Bikol-Naga, Chavacano, Kinaray-a, and English. The ninety-one writers (from across the nation and across the globe) featured in this literary journal are the following:

Jose Marte A. Abueg
Jim Pascual Agustin
Vijae O. Alquisola
Jenalyn J. Aman
Mark Angeles
Rebecca T. Añonuevo
Genevieve Mae Aquino
Mark Joseph Z. Arisgado
Mark Anthony B. Austria
Elbert O. Baeta
Gil S. Beltran
Herminio S. Beltran
April Mae M. Berza
Julius D. Bulahan
Anabelle Calleja
Ernesto Carandang
F. Jordan Carnice
Dexter Cayanes
Jose Jason L. Chancoco
Melchor F. Cichon
Jasmine Cruz
M. Protacio de Guzman
Rodrigo dela Peña, Jr.
Francis Gallano Delgado
Charlie Anne I. Espiritu
Martin G. Genodepa
Joel Jacob
Sabina Marites Lañada
Marra PL. Lanot
Ireneo Jr. Lit
Nestor L. Lucena
Francis C. Macansantos
Priscilla Supnet Macansantos
Shur C. Mangilaya
Noahlyn Maranan
Vim Nadera
Ben D. Nillo
Richard P. Nollen
Allen Lenard Ocampo
Aldrin Pentero
Padmapani L. Perez
Honesto M. Pesimo, Jr.
Allan Popa
Frank Rivera
Glen A. Sales
Louie Jon A. Sanchez
E. San Juan, Jr.
John Patrick Solano
Ariel Tabag
John Iremil Teodoro
Glenn Ford B. Tolentino
Oswald A. Valente
Hope Sabanpan Yu
Jeffrey R. Ancheta
Ma. Rita Aranda
Emmanuel T. Barrameda
Ludwig Jan Batuigas
Janet Batuigas
Lorna A. Billones
Rina Garcia Chua
Joey Chua
Efren J. Domingo
U Z. Eliserio
Susan Lara
Andrian Legaspi
Perry Mangilaya
Eilyn L. Nidea
Ian Kenneth L. Orasa
Wilhelmina Orozco
Chuckberry J. Pascual
Ma. Angelica Edralyn R. Tuazon
Raul Esquillo Asis
Ana Maria Cuevas-Oliveros
Eugene Y. Evasco
Shur C. Mangilaya
Marilyn Marquez Mercado
Jasmin Tresvalles
Adelle Villarey
Christine S. Bellen
Emerson Bengco
Joshene Bersales
Grace D. Chong
Francis Gallano Delgado
Zarah C. Gagatiga
Luis P. Gatmaitan
Ferdinand Pisigan Jarin
Christine F. Godinez Ortega
Carla M. Pacis
Rosales S. Pagnamitan
Flor Salanga
Herbel Santiago.

[ image and information borrowed from this site ]

Saturday, August 20, 2016

buwan ng mga akdang pinoy: feast and famine, stories of negros by rosario cruz lucero



To continue our celebration of Buwan ng mga Akdang Pinoy, here’s another literary work that deserves all the praises it gets and, I believe, deserves the need for this masterpiece to be required reading for both casual readers and lovers of literature. This is Rosario Cruz Lucero’s short story collection Feast and Famine: Stories of Negros. This is so far the best collection of stories by a Filipino writer that I’ve ever read, and I am not kidding. It features an array of genres: domestic realism, historical fiction, mystery, even magical realism. But the real and impressive triumph here is how all of these variations feel connected, seamless, and unassuming. It never felt jarring. It is not because of the language or the sprinkling of local Bisayan here and there, and definitely not just the setting of Negros Island where most of the stories' actions take place. I believe it is Lucero's expert handling of the characters’ psyches, the situations or how point A leads to point C and reverts back to point B, and the timeless expressions of misery and joy amidst a backdrop of culture and traditions that are so vivid and well-realized. I can’t stop gushing about this collection since the very first time I stumbled upon it in 2006. From time to time, I return to this work whenever I needed reminding how wonderfully singular and original the Filipino sensibility. For a slim book, it packs a lot of punch. And I am telling you, you better prepare for it.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

buwan ng mga akdang pinoy: hukbong sandatahan ng kahagardan! by manix abrera



I am not sure if every Filipino knows this, but August is Buwan ng Kasaysayan, and while history in this country is now muddled with lies and denial, with many people easily falling for online memes and fabrications, there are remedies to keep the truth from slipping away into obscurity. One of them is the literary arts. Through the imagination of Filipino writers, we cull the insights and the universal truth this nation desperately needs. But for a country with a writer as its national hero, it is ironic that only a few of the populace know about Filipino works of literature. Sad, but it is not the end. There's hope. That's why we have Buwan ng mga Akdang Pinoy, a celebration to bring the spotlight back to our talented, hard working artists. And I'll begin it with this...

I have been following Manix Abrera's comics in the early 2000's through the pages of Philippine Daily Inquirer. So imagine the joy I had when finally, in college, I got his very first compilation titled Mga Tagpong Mukhang Ewan At Kung Anu-ano Pang Kababalaghan. Abrera's humor is not for the faint of heart. It is direct, unapologetic, and although it sometimes border on the metaphysical, it remains sharp that it slices through you, making you ask yourself instead if it is indeed funny or painful because it hits you right on the spot. I've once worked for the student publication for three years back in college, and we juggled our tasks like mad to meet the required weekly (yes, weekly) output, so this particular edition, Hukbong Sandatahan ng Kahagardan!, is a gem because it accurately details the comedy and pains of working as a journalist. It is dark at times, yes, it is brimming with piping hot sarcasm, but it is signature Abrera to put you off for a moment but bring you back in to its uncomfortable embrace. There's a lot more to say about Manix Abrera and his works, but I suggest you guys go see them for yourselves. You'll get a good laugh. That's what we need these days, right?

#BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

buwan ng mga akdang pinoy


Yesterday I received a little surprise from the mail man. I got this book. And published in this book is my short fiction piece “The Forgiving.” I have genuinely forgotten I have written this piece. How timely it is to receive this on August, which is considered to be our country’s Buwan ng mga Akdang Pinoy. Ubod, which literally means “bamboo shoots,” is a product of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ (NCCA) goal to showcase emerging voices in Philippine literature from across the archipelago. I am surprised and humbled to be part of this collection, to be one of the few featured writers from Central Visayas, considering what I have contributed to this anthology is a product of a genre writing challenge sometime in 2011 to 2012, during the productive years of LitCritters Dumaguete. I have not written much like in those days, especially fiction, with my routines and habits these days almost bursting to the seams already. But I guess this is a sign to get back into it. I am still mastering this craft, and I hope I can contribute more and better works through the years, to do my part as a practicing writer.

With that in mind, I am thankful for the writers Shane Carreon for giving me the heads up just a few days ago that I am actually published in this book, Haidee Palapar for calling my attention about the deadline for submissions almost four years ago, Hope Sabanpan-Yu and Lolita Go for relaying me to the editor on how to get my complimentary copy, and ultimately, NCCA, Juliet Mallari, Alex Dacanay, and Victor Sugbo for including me in this anthology. And also, Edgar Samar for pushing the celebration Buwan ng mga Akdang Pinoy forward into national discourse. We need more of this.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

the magic lives on



It was in late 1997, I was eight years old, and I was searching for the comics section in the Sunday papers, when I chanced upon a picture of a boy riding a broomstick and trying to catch this small winged golden ball. It looked absurd but it got me interested; I had never seen anything like it. I didn’t even know it was a review of a children’s book, and yet I immediately asked my sister if she could get me one as a Christmas gift. She agreed. And thus, several weeks later, I received Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first book in a long long series.

I brought it to school, read it during breaks (and sometimes during classes). It was a time when everyone was free from the clutches of smartphones and the internet, so my classmates were suddenly curious about what was pulling my attention in when I was not talking to them. I told them about the book, told them about the story of an orphaned boy who turned out to be a wizard, and they were captivated. After I had finished the first book, I let my classmates borrow my newfound obsession. And then also the second book. And then the third. And then…

Thus, this was the beginning of a long-lasting relationship with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. With wands, spells, and the many forms of good and evil. And ultimately, with life, necessities, and love for literature in general. To read is to bring yourself to something new, to something magical. And to paraphrase a few words from the third book, “Anywhere is better than here.” And now, 19 years later, we are about to unfold a new chapter in the wizarding world.

This morning, after several days of following-up my pre-order at the nearest bookstore, the new story was released simultaneously worldwide, and I finally got Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in my hands. It was more special because it was released on Harry Potter’s birthday, July 31. There was a strange feeling brewing inside me. It had been a while. I was not sure if I am prepared to meet again someone, something I valued so dearly. So here I was, ecstatic to sniff the scent of a freshly unpacked book, to flip one page after another almost without end like I was eight all over again. I read the first chapter and, even at my age, it still felt right. Things do change, but the ones you love and treasure remain.

I believe this is how magic works.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

notes on a cardboard


Each day is a struggle. Which is why it worries me most that some people could say it’s a matter of choice to let things affect you. How selfish, how supremely naïve. We are humans, and we are gifted with empathy and understanding. Not being affected by what is happening to this country is almost like not living at all. This “cardboard justice” spreading like wildfire each day is just the beginning. When an accusation written on cardboards like “Addict at drug pusher ako. Wag tularan” gets stale and runs out of novelty, prepare yourselves for more of its variations… 

“Mayaman ako at magnanakaw. Wag tularan.”
“Babae ako at palaban. Wag tularan.”
“Aktibista ako at maingay. Wag tularan.”
“Bakla ako. Nakakahawa. Wag tularan.”
“Mahirap ako at walang makain. Wag tularan.”

It seems it is so easy to kill and get killed these days. No one is safe now. It is happening. And everyone has allowed this to happen. Blood is on our hands. And only time will tell you and I could be next.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

what will you become?


So this is the story. It looks like being single is a crime. That’s why we have a luxurious hotel where we can find our potential partner. The only catch: You’ll transform into an animal (of your own choosing, at least) if you can’t find one in 45 days. The pressure is on, really. It’s as if the worst and most surreal of reality television are gathered together and taken a notch higher. The Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Lobster” thankfully sustains this absurd premise until the end. It made me wish I knew his films prior to this. Collin Farrell is doing a Matthew McConaughey here; after a long absence in a major movie production, Farrell enters the first frame of the film as David with assuredness and the weight of his dilemma. You can see it on the slouch of his shoulder. He even has a beer belly to match the character’s seemingly baffled and expanding state of mind. (Also, this only me excites for his turn in David Yates’ “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” come November). And Rachel Weisz, even with the minimal dialogue, is stellar as usual. Although the story’s year is not stated and we can only assume it is happening many years from now, Weisz’s is the character on film that is closest to the thinking that we have right now in 2016, albeit heavily cynic. The film is painful to watch, too. No, it doesn’t have ghosts, screaming teenagers, and grotesque monsters in the form a giant lobster. It doesn’t have any of that trash. Instead, it is unsettling not only because of its dystopian setup but because the conditions of the story almost resemble our present-day relationships: the fleeting emotions, the blurring between love and necessity, the disconnect. In this day and age of dating and hookup apps, the need for mental health care, and now Pokémon Go, “The Lobster” provides us a glimpse of an open window which presents an un-reality that’s bound to happen soon. I guess it’s safe to say let’s start thinking now of our preferred animal transformations.

[ photo borrowed from this site ]

Friday, July 01, 2016

700 after 6 months or on the 2nd half of 2016

Today is July 1, the beginning of the second half of the year. And looking back to the first six months, I’m left wondering, have I actually done enough in the first half? Have I accomplished anything that I can be proud of? Was it all worth it?

The road to this day was not entirely smooth and easy. I believe it will never be. There will always be that patron who talks loudly than the movie in a theater, that person who cuts the line to the cashier, those people who spread lies and think they can get away with them, those socialites who mistreat their server in a restaurant, those past loves that come knocking on your door without notice, and many more. Basically, those people in your life and around you who make living hard and miserable.

Just yesterday, in the early maneuverings of this new chapter in my life, I already feel like I’ve just endured three grueling years in one go, even if it has only been the second week. But still, for my 700th post in this blog—which I have started way, way back in August 26, 2006 (that’s almost 10 years ago!)—I’d like to say, come on over, July! Bring it on! After a long while, at least I can genuinely say now that, yes, it is all worth it.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

many fears, many priorities

The crisis that is making waves in the European Union (EU) is, and should be, a cautionary tale. The majority of the United Kingdom voted to cut its ties from the EU, thus, Brexit. For anyone still trying to wrap their heads around Brexit, here is something that might help.

The bottomline is this: This is what happens when fear, greed, selfishness, and the stubborn desire for “change” without even thinking of the implications and complications take over a nation and its people. After Duterte and this European rejection, Trump winning the future US elections would probably be the proverbial final nail in the coffin. That link above should be required reading for the young and the old. This must be everyone’s priority. This, again, is a cautionary tale.

*

Many are inclined to prefer the unreal because many fear and loathe facts, the searing sting of truth. Which is why, it seems to me, many still shrug off literature in the Philippines. Which is astoundingly ironic, with its national hero being a writer. Many still mistake literature as a lie, a bottle of time-killers one resorts to when nothing tickles his fancy. It’s as if it has never been treated to inform and to heal, to uplift and to unveil. If we go this route, this lie, well then literature does fabricate, but it is a fabrication that tells a greater truth. Far greater and immense than anyone could ever imagine. But, at least, we tried. The fictionists tried. The essayists tried. The poets tried. It is all about the trying.

*

For several years I’ve been searching for the first (or early) edition, short novel version of F.H. Batacan’s “Smaller and Smaller Circles”, a work that is widely regarded as the Philippines’ first crime and detective literature. I have searched for it in Manila, in Dumaguete, in Cebu, in my home province Bohol. None. It is initially printed way, way back in 2002 with limited copies, and learning that it would be translated into a movie soon is making me want it all the more. Its themes, its political miasma, to me are a timely companion to what the Philippines is experiencing right now. In a few days’ time, Digong will officially take charge of this country. So I badly needed this book. And last Thursday, something arrived in the mail. The book! With three other books! What a wonderful surprise. I am really grateful for people who understand the workings of my priorities. Thank you, dear friend.

Monday, June 13, 2016

hate is still here

At two in the morning in Orlando, Florida, a mass shooting took place inside a gay nightclub, leaving 50 dead and 53 wounded. These numbers may continue to rise, and this makes it all the more painful to learn that all of this happened during Pride Month.

This is a reminder for everyone in the LGBTQ community that “Pride” is not just about gym-fit men gyrating almost-naked in a parade or about an Instagram picture flaunting yourself in a floral Perry Ellis shirt. Pride is about solidarity, it is about overcoming the evils of this world, it is about educating people on acceptance, tolerance, and compassion.

The LGBTQ community has faced issues and violence many times through the years, but there’s nothing more sickening and terrifying than this mass shooting in recent memory. For a lone gunman to travel two hours to a very welcoming and accepting community, to murder innocent men and women, only highlights humanity is far from overcoming hatred.

And this hatred comes in many forms. Just last April, a high school classmate of mine mocked me publicly online for my understanding of bigotry, ironically going to the extent of quoting its dictionary definition for me to be truly enlightened. (I didn’t get his point.) And last February, a former classmate in college defended himself when I pointed out his rudeness and insulting attitude towards the gay community, even telling the world and I to “fuck my priorities.” Very classy, right? Whether we admit it or not, homophobia (and xenophobia) still exists in this time and age.

Hate does not only come in the form of bullets.



Sunday, June 05, 2016

whistles, bisaya, and debauchery

Just a few days ago, here is what a Gabriela representative said about Duterte’s catcalling, casual derogatory remarks, and overall bombastic behavior: “Ganun talaga mga Bisaya.” (People from the Visayas are just like that).

For the record, friends and loved ones, not all Bisaya people speak and behave the same way as P-Gong. Don’t let this tarnish the rest of the kabisayaan. And shame on you, Gabriela. The hero you should be emulating—Gabriela Silang—must be rolling in her grave right now.

Sexual harassment is no laughing matter. More so something that you should not just shrug off or dismiss to get your next shot of tequila. Such callous response to catcalling, especially for a women’s organization, is disheartening and worthy of a thousand face-palms. I mean, seriously, when will people ever understand that sexual harassment is not only limited to a penis forcefully entering a vagina or a finger ramming into a butt-hole? Kelan pa ba?

As expected, P-Going justified that his whistling was mere appreciation of the GMA-7 reporter’s beauty—which is usually the excuse of people finishing two bottles of Tanduay Rhum in the nearest sari-sari store at two in the afternoon. Note: I am almost close to coming into conclusion that this guy is incapable of owning up to his mistakes.

But here’s the thing that most people fail to understand: if the whistling is uncalled for and the woman (or even man) feels uncomfortable, harassed, embarrassed, or unsafe, then that is sexual harassment. It’s as simple as that. And if one cannot understand or refuse to understand this explanation, then one is a contributor to sexism and a whole host of problems in this country. One legitimizes harassment or pambabastos in the guise of “appreciating beauty.” I find this really quite strange because P-Gong actually has this ordinance in Davao City that mandates catcalling is punishable. Astig, right? Breaking the law that you personally passed? What an irony.

When it also comes to being Bisaya, here’s another concern. I am neither from Manila nor from Davao (I’m a Bol-anon through and through), but I have every right to speak up and challenge such generalizations. That is why I find it really naive and primitive for some people to laugh at those who critique the president-elect and suggest to these critics to “move on” or “just chill.” Move on, you say? Remain silent while the chaos before you is gradually draining the life and future of your country?

Based on personal observation alone, those who usually do not challenge or ask the questions are those who know nothing at all. I love the Philippines. So if your sole recommendation is to simply “chill” and “move on”, then that only shows how comfortable you are living in your luxurious cocoon of indifference and ignorance. Congratulations, mate! Live your life in the next pub crawl or with that slice of cake while your whole nation crumbles!

A few mornings ago, someone on my Facebook account cries out that P-Gong’s manner is just a way of countering the debauchery of the faulty institutions and oligarchs of this country, that his critics should thank him instead because he has brought these problems to public discourse.

Right then and there, I recognize the glaring problem. These institutions may have faults (all institutions have faults, actually), but this is no excuse to have such brazen and thoughtless display of misogyny, bigotry, sexism, and the lack of common sense. Just because he has done something right on one particular matter, it doesn’t mean he has free pass on doing whatever he wants, trampling on someone’s decency and respect. You can never clean up a roomful of junk with just a paper towel in an instant.

I also beg to disagree that we are only having this discourse right now and that people have been unquestioning of these institutions. That is pretty insulting to those who are having this discourse since God knows when. The only difference right now, maybe out of a miracle or blind fanaticism, is that all of a sudden the majority of the people just keep on praising and clamoring for whatever comes out of P-Gong’s mouth.

Time and time again, I’ve always been bringing up this common problem of the Filipino mentality: We only want to see what we wanted to see, hear what we wanted to hear. Nothing short of selective.

Debauchery, you say? How about being a womanizer? A self-identified murderer? A Marcos apologist and sympathizer? An Arroyo-enabler? A historical revisionist? The moral decline and influence? There are worse things, yes, and these are a few of them. If his unrefined manner is a way countering the debauchery of those faulty institutions and faulty oligarchs, then he is just as good as the people he is challenging. Oh, and speaking of oligarchs, having mostly friends and classmates as his cabinet secretaries?

What an irony.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

wait and see

“Wait and see...”

I’ve been receiving and reading this statement online and offline whenever President-elect Rodrigo Duterte spits out something from his mouth, something that’s highly questionable and just straight-out silly.

This, perhaps, is the lamest, senseless, and laziest excuse I’ve received in a long, long while. Let me give you something to reflect on: When you see a thug who is about to stab an old lady with a knife, do you “wait and see”? When you find out your boyfriend is cheating on you, do you just “wait and see”? When you encounter a man having seizures on the floor, do you simply “wait and see”? When you chance upon a burning house in the neighborhood, do you just “wait and see”? When you discover your child with an arrow pierced through his chest, can you just “wait and see”?

You see, when problems start springing up right before you in plain sight, you can never ever just “wait and see.” Common sense dictates that you need to do something—quickly. Or else, brace yourselves for the consequences of your own decision-making. Finally, do you know how cancer spreads so fast and easily? It's ignoring the first signs of symptoms.

When being critical calls for it, warts and all, then criticism is highly needed no matter who you are. Just because a particular criticism is not good to hear, it doesn’t mean it is not supposed to be heard. This is the problem with the Filipino mentality: we only see what we only want to see.

But when it comes to the truth, being deaf and blind are the least of things we needed to be. What is worse than “wait and see”? These remarks…

“Andameng sinasabi!” 
“Feeling political analyst!” 
“Eh di ikaw na matalino!” 
“Tumakbo kang pangulo!” 
“So ikaw na magaling!” 
“Andame mong alam” 
“F*ck your priorities!” 
“Shut up!”

Just like a scene out of an abusive relationship, noh? Ironically, in the information age, these are the things people say when they have ultimately nothing else to say. There will never be a time that I would stoop to the level of these people, but honestly, nakakabobo lang talaga. Guys, these do not really contribute to the discourse on hand. It’s what you call smart-shaming. We will never learn from our mistakes if we never even try to learn. Let this positive change that we have all been wanting to truly happen. Let it begin now—especially within ourselves.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

apocalypse not


Bryan Singer returns with “X-Men: Apocalypse,” and to say the least, it is good. I watched it on premier night, and now I could finally sum up the experience with this: I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed Zack Snyder’s “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Yeah, give me the boos. The thing is, after the superb “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” this latest installment of mutant mayhem has unfortunately not sustained the momentum. We are in the 80’s, and we have Apocalypse as the main antagonist, and yet they do not feel weighty, insane and engaging enough. Hello! That’s Apocalypse we are talking about, one of the craziest foes in the Marvelverse! And yet his character falls flat and boring in this film. He even looks small next to Olivia Munn’s Psylocke (who was a perfect but another under-used choice, honestly). Oscar Isaac was a waste of talent. And on the opposite side of waste is the overexposure of Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique. It is hard to dim the limelight for an A-list actress like J-Law, especially in a big blockbuster ensemble movie, but her presence and protest rally-like speeches in the story seems forced. She makes me wish for the darker, unpredictable Mystique of Rebecca Romijn instead. What truly stand out in this film are the younger mutants. The normally bland Cyclops is played by Tye Sheridan with so much attitude. Sophie Turner of “Game of Thrones” fame is surprisingly fit for Jean Grey. Evan Peters’ Quicksilver and Kodi Smit-McPhee’s Nightcrawler provide the humor in the right places (but let’s just forget the latter’s hair please). And we finally see Storm, played by Alexandra Shipp, who showcases her powers that closely resemble their portrayal in the comics and animated series. After assessing the previous X-Men films up to the recent one, I realize what makes this “X-Men: Apocalypse” not apocalyptic enough. Its plot is almost the same as those that come before it. Here’s an egocentric baddie, here’s a united team. Familiar, right? It’s because we have seen it all before. P.S. I also expected a lot of fireworks from Lana Condor’s Jubilee, but, oh well.

[ photo borrowed from this site ]