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 ]