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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Matsing Joke 001

Isang araw, naglalakad si Dida sa Central Park sa New York. Isang jogger ang pumansin sa kanya. "Gee, your hair smells terrific". Sumagot si Dida, "Sorry, it's Rejoice".

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Hand-Carry Bag Will Soon Welcome M&M’s

When I was mailing another order of Hemp Lip Butter from Body Shop in the Post Office, I saw the ads again about the M&M's chocolate dispenser. I asked around and here are the how-to’s that I have to accomplish: buy four 250g M&M’s (or Malteesers), present the wrappers in the Post Office (yeah, they also sell concert tickets there) and pay the toy for only €2.50.

It’s worth it. And it’s free. Almost. Not bad for a World Cup 2006 souvenir.

For the coming days, I will put it beside the alarm clock. I want to see it first thing in the morning. I need to be reminded that work is also fun and that I have to finish a kilogram of milk chocolates that melt in my mouth and not in the dispenser.


The four plasma TV screens all went black. In unison, the football fanatics in Utrecht Centraal protested. I allowed 10 seconds to materialize, waiting for the screens to resurrect. I was sure then that the Netherlands and Ivory Coast’s so-called Game of Death would resume shortly. But I did not wait for that. It was 15 minutes past seven in the evening. Beatrix must be killing time, anticipating for my arrival.

“Jesus Christ Superstar”, the Dutch run, is currently having a leg at the Beatrix Theater (which is connected through a walk way from the train station). I was informed that the musical is close to sold-out on a weekend. So I tested my luck last Friday.

After asking the takilyera the usual pa-cute questions (price range, seats, etc.) and securing seat availability, I saved the best for last. “How about discounted tickets?” I solicited. I was expecting for those returned tickets which, again, based on luck, were sold 50% less when you come 30 minutes before the curtain call (well, I have two or three similar instances in my entire theater addiction). With a smile, the takilyera said “Please wait, let me call my colleague.” In a jiffy, I was already considering renting some DVD’s at Big Choice. “OK, you can get the best slot for just €19.50”.

The next thing I knew, I was already browsing the theater’s souvenir shop. I bought a copy of the program but I skipped the pages with pictures from the musical (it’s a mantra, I want to enjoy every performance without expectations). Then it hit me. The actress who will play Mary Magdalene is Caselyn Francisco no less! A patchwork of her shows during my glory days suddenly flashed back: Pen-pen de Serapen and That’s Entertainment. This is gonna be one hell of a ride, I thought.

Well, JCS always fascinates me: the overture (just listen to the first 20 seconds and you’re already transported to 70’s rock a la Wolfgang), the message (it should be noted again and again that Judas is part of the whole plan) and the glaring reminder that Jesus became human (the Dutch version is sandwiched by Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene doing a choreographed sign language, a fitting metaphor of the Bible’s “…and the Word was made flesh”).

After the musical, I hurried to the theater’s Artist’s Entrance and waited for Casey (yes, she’s Casey Francisco now). There were four other lobbyists in the area. Three of them looked like a family (the mom has a camera). Another two joined us. When Casey, who, by the way, pulled it off with aplomb as Mary Magdalene with a more dominant singing voice and style, finally showed up, she was approached by the family and gave her a handful of pictures (taken from a formal event, I sneaked in). When it was my turn, I asked for her signature and I uttered “Nagta-Tagalog ka pa ba?”. Then she blurted out, the Caselyn Francisco kikay way, “Aaaaaaaaaaaaay, Filipino!” And she left together with two other cast members. My hint is that she was about to catch a train.

That completed my Friday. I couldn’t wait to turn on my celfone and share the good news to all my artsy fartsy friends (Pia Leano is on top of the list because every time we reminisce “our” days, she always makes it a point to mention Caselyn Francisco – it’s true, once a That’s kid, always a That’s kid). But what the heck? Iba-blog ko na lang!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Love Redux

Monday. Emotionally exhausted from a day’s work, I turned on the TV and voila! “Notting Hill”!

If asked what is my favorite Julia Roberts movie, if there is one, this must be it. She plays a superstar in the film which doesn’t require her to try acting much. Hugh Grant is as English as a tea. But maybe it’s not just the pair that fires up the giddiness in me. It could be the OST as well. I love Brit pop. It’s so melodious. No wonder they don’t have much rap artists in the UK. Rap is sometimes, hmm, not a music (get back to me once an American Idol finalist has done a rap song as a contest piece).

Anyway, the film is one of those romantic movies that preach about love having no formula. It talks about love as a non-thinking entity, something that cannot be calculated. As another film “Kinsey” best puts it, sex is quantifiable and love is not.

Well, for the second serving of the film, I still adore it. Now I start to notice how frivolously the script was written, from the common Briton characters down to the crispy lines like “surreal but nice”, “funky God!”, “no, thank you, I’m fruitarian” and “it’s not Jane Austen, it’s not Henry James but it’s gripping”.

It’s so good that some local filmmakers even copy the concept: the female character on a wheelchair (“Kahit Isang Saglit”, I forgot the name of the actress who played it), the tight shot of two lovers admiring a scenery (“Don’t Give Up on Us”, Juday and Piolo looking at the Banawe Rice Terraces) and even the plot (“Kailangan Ko’y Ikaw”).

I don’t usually watch a film twice but now I’m attuned. I simply love “Notting Hill”. Maybe I should get a DVD copy. Or maybe I should revisit the time when Hubes, Josh and I struggled looking for the bookshop (Travel and Books, Co.) in Notting Hill’s Portobello in London. What we found was an antique shop. We were informed that the stall was constructed only for the film. It was a busy street, very tiangge. It’s funny to note that every female fish-seller in the area claimed that she is Julia Roberts. For the prettiest one among the lot, I replied with “…and I’m Hugh Grant”. That didn’t work. Damn bloody hell!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Dutch Sunday

My Sunday always starts at 10am, the latest. It’s automatic. Like a zombie, I go to the living room (roughly 10 steps from my bed) and turn on the TV. It’s “Eigen Huis En Tuin” day! It’s a Dutch-produced (and Dutch-spoken) show about home make-over. The three hosts (two guys and a pregnant yuppy) are assigned with their own cup of tea: one guy is assigned to gardening, the other guy is all interior and the girl, anything in between plus shop owner interviews. It’s fun.

After the show, it’s time to head out to the shower room. I have one hour and a half to pamper my self (shaving, nailcutting, etc.) before going to mass. The English mass here in Utrecht is held only once every Sunday. But that’s not the only reason not to catch the mass. The choir boasts of a pretty Latina choirmaster. A petite lady who’s a delight to sing along with when she gracefully conducts us (yes, she’s not all the time facing the choir, she sometimes confronts the audience and, with a smile, encourages everybody to sing). The only thing I observe in a mass here is that it’s very democratic. Meaning, you’re free when to rise, to sit or to kneel. It’s free-flowing, depending on your agility. I just follow what Leah is doing.

There are two itinerary options after mass: 1. get the bike and go home or 2. get the bike and look for a nice restaurant. Based on stats, it’s more Option Number 1. Last time we did Option Number 2 was when Leah had stories to share from their Cyprus outing. My favorite Option Number 2 was with Leah and Faye where we ended up eating some poppertjes at Viktor. It’s a plate of small pancakes cooked as the way you cook pancakes but in a cuter and smaller molds. It’s heavenly. If I have to enumerate some Dutch food, it must be poppertjes and Heineken.

At home, normally 2pm-ish, I just transform into my favorite me: a couch potato. Either with some American show reruns or with CNN (yeah, I am starting to like news!). The rest of the day is spent with another attempt at adobo and later, pressing a week-load of office garbs.

Boring enough? Not really especially during World Cup season where everybody is in orange (I even tried singing Coldplay’s “Yellow”, replacing all the key words with “orange”). Boring is, hmm, when you think of Mondays.

Peter Jackson vs. Peter Jackson

Last Saturday, I finally caught Peter Jackson’s first commercial and Cannes-invited film called “Bad Taste”. It’s one violent film about a town invaded by aliens and “The Boyz” must save the day. A really thin plot, yes, but you can feel, even touch, Peter Jackson’s passion on movie-making. He did almost everything from making all the “FX” down to acting (as both the villanous alien and as one of the heroes, complete with a fight scene!).

Filmmaking, I guess, starts from the talent, the “it”. I am reminded on how Chito Roño enjoyed doing masks for some DUP plays before directing his first feature “Private Show”. Or Akira Kurosawa adding some black ink to the rain-making machine to get a better cinematography for a B&W film. Peter Jackson has that gift. It has something to do with his childhood which I envy (his parents gave him a video camera as a gift for his 14th birthday).

I think,our indie filmmakers (including the one who did the Pinoy film that I saw in the Rotterdam Filmfest where almost 75% of the crowd walked out) should learn something from Peter Jackson. Otherwise (meaning the gift is not there but the urge to express is floating), get a copy of Steven Soderbergh’s “Bubble”. It suggests what a Guerilla film should look like: structured and not masturbatory.

Summary: do you want to be a filmmaker? Check out Peter Jackson’s “Bad Taste” or Steven Soderbergh’s “Bubble”.

Friday, June 09, 2006

On Death and Birth

Minutes ago, a college friend of mine who’s currently working in Canada shared a not so pleasant story. Here’s how it went:

John_H (6/9/2006 4:35:20 PM): Hi manny. Kamusta?
Manny (6/9/2006 4:35:56 PM): ayos lang
Manny (6/9/2006 4:35:57 PM): ikaw?
John_H (6/9/2006 4:36:09 PM): May kwento ako sayo.
Manny (6/9/2006 4:36:23 PM): sige
Manny (6/9/2006 4:36:25 PM): game
John_H (6/9/2006 4:36:58 PM): Alam mo last tuesday i saw a man dito sa bldg namin na tumalon, akala ko human dummy na pinaglalaruan ng mga bata, mano pa naman sinubaybayan ko hanggang bumagsak sa floor
Manny (6/9/2006 4:37:15 PM): tapos?
Manny (6/9/2006 4:37:18 PM): suicide pala?
John_H (6/9/2006 4:38:39 PM): I just realize later na parang tingin ko may nag flip sa kanya pataas pero dko nakita na may ibang tao syang kasama, pero as in nakita ko sa ere na nag flip sya palayo at pumaitaas paa nya as in layo ng binagsakan nya
Manny (6/9/2006 4:38:53 PM): kakatakot naman
John_H (6/9/2006 4:39:30 PM): Nakakatokot pa, alam mo bumagsak sya sa parking lot na may paint na number na 66 and 65 sa gitna nila as in 666-5
John_H (6/9/2006 4:39:47 PM): tapos that day is june 6 2006

John_H (6/9/2006 4:40:47 PM): Akala ko nga e tapos na yun, till now d mawala sa isip ko mga nakita ko

I can’t remember how we ended our conversation. Perhaps, we talked about Pinoy Big Brother.

On the other hand, there’s this thing in the PDI – Entertainment section last Wednesday (yes, I am jologs therefore I am showbiz) that I can’t scrape out of my head. When Lea Salonga was asked about motherhood, she replied with,

“My expectations of motherhood? My approach to everything is very practical and pragmatic. This was no exception. I didn’t see motherhood as an experience that would complete me as a woman. I considered myself complete already. I wasn’t going to put pressure on Nicole to be the completion of me. That wouldn’t be fair to her. I want to set an example for her, that a woman should already be complete in herself before raising a family.”

I’m 29. Wife-less, child-less. ‘Nuff said.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Ode to Hemp

Saan ka naman makakakita ng alas-9 na ng gabi, maliwanag pa ang araw? Sa katunayan, natatanaw mo pa sa kalayuan ang buwan na akala mo ay inumaga pero ang totoo, sisikat pa lamang ito. Kahit hindi ito minsanang mangyari, alam mong ito’y hindi pangkaraniwan.

Pero hindi mo masisisi ang panahon sa iyong kalagayan. Ganoon talaga. Minsan, may mga bagay na likas na sumusulpot kahit hindi mo inaasahan. Kailan ka ba huling tinawagan ng iyong kaibigan at naglabas ng sama ng loob? O hindi kaya’y tumawag siya dahil kailangang kailangan ka niya sa oras na hindi ninyo parehong inaasahan? Pero wala kayong magawa. Hadlang ang pagkakalayo.

Ang naiwan sa iyo ay ang pagsulyap mula sa nakapinid na bintana at muling pansinin ang kakaibang pagsasama ng isang bubot na buwan at isang paligid na nasisikatan pa ng araw. Pero sinubukan mong gumawa pa ng paraan. Hindi mo lang basta sinulyapan ang buwan sa kalayuan. Inisip mong sa likod nito’y meron ding nagmamasid na isang kaibigan. Kung hindi man kayo parehong ganap na masaya o parehong ganap na malungkot dahil ang isa ay masaya at ang isa ay malungkot, nagkasundo kayo sa isang bagay: ang ibigin ang buwan sa kakisigan at misyeryo nito. Ito ba’y isang pagtitiwala na ang lahat ay matutugunan ng buwan?

Bahagya kang napabuntong-hininga at hinayaang pumalaot ang hanging nanggaling sa iyo. Ito ay banayad na dumampi sa apat na sulok na iyong kuwarto. Ipinikit mo ang iyong mga mata. Inisip mong ikaw ang hiningang lumabas sa iyong katawan. Nagliwaliw ka sa katotohanang ikaw ay madaling nadadala ng hangin. Tila wala kang iniisip. Tila wala kang pinapasan. Sa sandaling ito, naalala mo kung anong mundo meron ka. At sa mundong ito ikaw ay nagbigay-pugay at nagpasalamat.

Alam mong kahit sumapit ang dilim, mananatili kang walang bigat. Mananatili kang nakalutang….

Andrew E. Saves the Day!

Saturday, midnight.

Wow, designer’s block. This is unexpected. I’m reading some work-related stuff when it hit me. I can’t comprehend everything. All I wanna do is sleep. Then out of the blue, Andrew E.’s “Pink Palaka” just hops in…
Sa silong ni Kaka may taong nakadapa
Kaya pala nakadapa naninilip ng palaka
Palakang may buhok ngipin ay nakalubog
Ang kulay nito'y itim hindi naman sunog
After keeping my eyes closed while listening to the song and absorbing the music, I realized that Andrew E. is right. Dreams start at the bottom (“silong”). You have to make an effort (“nakadapa”) to achieve something (“naninilip ng palaka”). But achievements come in different shapes and sizes (“may buhok”, “ngipin ay nakalubog”, “itim” at “hindi sunog”). It could be a smile of a baby, a platinum award, zero QA point, an Oscar for Best Picture, a P5,000-worth Nike shoes, trip to Barcelona, a perfect chicken adobo, a Jollibee birthday party treat or even a beautiful housewife.

An acumen just sinks in: no work means no dreams and achievements. I can see clearly now.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Isang Weekend, Anim na Babae

You, fool! Of course, I am referring to six women (actresses to be exact) who garnered an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading or Supporting Role. Excuses are welcome, amigo.

SUNRISE (1927 Best Actress, Janet Gaynor) From the DVD cover, it says it’s one and the only film who got a special award namely “Most Unique and Artistic Film”. Janet Gaynor, by the way, is also the first Oscar Best Actress. I will try to remember those things so that when Kris Aquino finally asks me that as a multi-million question in Game KNB’s jackpot round, I know what to answer without even going to the Tarantarium. Well, the silent movie is great. I always thought that early American films have a flat storyline. “Sunrise” breaks that by sharing a symbolic story of a married life in the province. It awkwardly starts with the husband trying to drown his wife for another woman who’s from the city. The murder is interrupted by the church bells (faith?) and what follows is a series of a love metamorphosis (the courting, the “kilig”, simulating a wedding by witnessing somebody else’s and surviving tragedy).

GRAPES OF WRATH (1940 Best Supporting Actress, Jane Darwell) This is one of those old films which tackles social injustices in the US (land-grabbers, police abuse, etc.), a vehicle to showcase yet another legendary talent like Henry Fonda. It’s about a family (mothered by Jane Darwell) who is forced to leave their land because it has been bought by a “company”. It’s some kind of a road film, showing how the family looks for a job and a place to stay. Initially, they plan to go to California to be a fruit picker but ended up with nothing but social abuses. Henry Fonda, in the end, decided to be an NPA.

COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER (1980 Best Actress, Sissy Spacek) A film bio of Loretta Lyn, the first lady of counrty music, as played by Sissy Spacek. From a simple girl, Loretta married Doo (played by Tommy Lee Jones) and eventually became a country music superstar right after Patsy Cline (Loretta’s friend and confidant) died from a plane crash. Lessons I learned from this film: yeah, we have to run our life but we should not be run over by it.

MOONSTRUCK (1987 Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, Cher and Olympia Dukakis) Hmm, they always say that Julia Roberts is considered the “worst best actress” to win an Oscar. I think, there's a stiff competition between her and Cher. But wait, I adore the film. Very stagey. It’s about how some people can be affected by a full moon, where things become clearer and love comes in the way just in the right time.

BULLETS OVER BROADWAY (1994 Best Supporting Actress, Dianne Wiest) A perfect 10 for me. I don’t know that Woody Allen (the same writer-director who married Mia Farrow, adopted an Asian girl, divorced the wife and married the Asian girl) has made something orgasmic like this one. But yeah, the vulnerability of a relationship is still discussed but there’s more. It’s also about being an artist and the realization that some peole do not really have a gift. Dianne Wiest plays an aging stage diva. She’s good up to the last scene. I prefer her with this film over another Woody Allen film (“Hannah and her Sisters”) from which she won her first Oscar. Equally outstanding is Jennifer Tilly who plays an annoying dumb actress and a Mafia mistress. Now I can see where Renee Zellwegger is getting her acting style from.

Edrikinetix: How I Manage to Believe that Friendship Still Exists in the Workplace

E – Energy. As in the absence of it. Ang Frederick Pagaduan na kilala ko ay walang lakas sa mga bagay-bagay na walang engganyo para sa kanya (he sometimes attends mass because he’s fascinated with the songs sung by the choir). Well, except for “K”. He will just remain seated and do other things like working, smoking, chatting and grinning (“smiling” is too angelic). Let me have a U-turn. Energetic din si Edrik kapag alam n’yang agrabyado ang mga kaibigan n’ya. He won’t offer his life but I can assure you that he will try at least. He has his way of comforting you by saying evil things to the other party (na “nagmamaganda”), something to my delight, of course. Pwede ring “E” for “Energia”. As in Edrik’s first post-hybernation project for SPL (Edrik, Xen and I share the same SPL anniversary: April 1). But that’s corny.

DDeadma. Again, this is related to “E”. But wait, he could be “deadma” but the next thing you know, he’s sharing all your bloopers to his bes’s (bestfriends). Hindi mo s’ya mayayabangan dahil baka mas mayabang pa s’ya sa ‘yo. Edrik is the best Humility 101 professor. At paki-rebyu rin pala ang ‘yong English. He’s biased to Mapuans. Hahaha. To rephrase everything: if you’ve made a grammatical error, he’s just “deadma” especially if you’re nice.

RRaket. Sa dami ng raket ni Edrik, siguro 10% lang ang nasasagap ko (or worse, it could be less). But I prefer it that way. I don’t wanna know the rest. I might not have the belly to digest everything. This, of course, is segued by the grinning during work or the early “eskapo” after office hours. Don’t be surprised if you invite him out (especially those events which are not “the best things in life”) and he will reply with something like “titingnan ko”. One time, inindyan n’ya ang panonood ng “Kailangan Kita” with Arissa (that’s between the time when we already purchased the ticket and the start of the screening) and when Onin and I got him into watching Steven Soderbergh’s “Full Frontal”, we lost him in the middle of the film.

I – Intelligence. Sige na nga, he’s one of the most intelligent persons I know. He mentioned one time that his IQ is above average (he took one of those online tests) and I believe that. When we were contractors at SPL, Arissa and I call him “Henyo” and that makes him blush big time. I don’t know how he does it but it gives us a perception that his face is turning red.

K‘yun na! Here’s a tip: is he’s sad and you’re privileged to observe that, talk about “K” and everything will be all right. You know those black muscle shirts that Simon Cowell always wears on “American Idol”? Edrik has lots of it and he’s wearing one every Friday. I coined a fitting term for that fashion statement: motel shirts (though some people close to Edrik suspect that there’s no difference between a weekend and a weekday, baka nga raw mas discounted kapag hindi Biyernes). But wait, I have to defend him. The good thing about Edrik is that he’s not all “daldal”. He’s not a walking machismo. He’s not the type who starts shallow conversations like “dude, may nakita akong chick, kasabay ko sa bus…”. Edrik is someone I know to be a master of that field (as Vistan is to guns and Topeng is to jokes and a little of “K”) without him saying that he is. Sometimes I just know.

To sum it up, Edrik is not Edrik without “K”. It will just be Edri (probably with a mom named “Edna” and a dad named “Ricardo”).

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Dream with a Z

It’s past midnight. I just had a banana (something from Dole – Costa Rica, I checked the label when I grabbed it from Albert Heijn) and a piece of Sky Flakes (courtesy of Toko Asian Store).

I just got back from watching a film entitled “American Dreamz”. It wasn’t really a nice bicycle ride though I caught my self singing “Inside Your Heaven” while pedalling along Oude Gracht (one helluva Greenbelt 3-like street situated just beside the city’s inner canal). It was only in the middle of my journey back to my apartment when I realized that I haven’t turned on the bike light. This is required here. One time, Leah, an officemate and the Manila delegations’ great declaimer, was stopped by a group of police officers to warn her that she hasn’t set on her light. “Set”, meaning there’s no switch somewhere in the bike. There’s this thing in the front area that you have to push on to let it touch the wheel. So as you cycle, the light is fueled, announcing to the officers that you respect Dutchability.

Now I’m confused. When I got out of the cinema, I was having an impression that I partly like the film. Now the euphoria has vanished a bit. But for sure, I did not appreaciate the film because it has Mandy Moore and the subplot between her and Hugh Grant’s character is, hmmm, too glossy and misleading.

“American Dreamz” is from the director of “American Pie” and “About a Boy” (Paul Weitz). You won’t be surprised that the cast (a great one at that) is comprised of, from “American Pie”, Chris Klein, the Asian guy in the party with Sherminator, Steve Stifler’s mom who ended up in bed with Finch, etc. plus of course, Hugh Grant from “About a Boy”. But that’s not all: it also boasts of other Oscar hopefuls like Shohreh Aghdashloo (a Best Supporting Actress nominee from “House of Sand and Fog” and was recently seen in “X-Men 3” as one of the “cure” scientists), Willem Dafoe, Marcia Gay Harden (a winner from “Pollock”, Best Supporting Actress) and Dennis Quiad (I am not sure if he has been at all nominated in an acting category). You won’t regret it if you forget Mandy Moore.

Here’s the thing. The film is a satire, a genre that really fascinates me. It is supposed to poke fun at the hit TV show “American Idol” and all other things American. Hugh Grant is Simon Cowell who opens the film with a divorce scene. Mandy Moore is Carrie Underwood-ish. To complete the lot, the US President, played by Dennis Quaid, with that George W. Bush aura, is going to be the guest judge. Just a backtrack. Prior to the TV appearance, the President seems to be needing a break after winning the election for the second term. He doesn’t want to meet the press and was forced to skip reading the newspapers. He is being “directed” by his political adviser played by Willem Dafoe who thought of having the President’s appearance at “American Dreamz” as a sweet comeback.

What makes the film a riot is that it has another character, a Mid-Eastern contestant named Omar. He was an Afghan-Iranian Border Training Camp kick-out (who was eventually evicted to the Orange County) and was puppeted to get into the “American Dreamz” final two, meet the President and explode. Omar has a gay cousin (I forgot the name but surely he provides the film’s most LOL moment for me along with that Bo Bice spoof named “Bobby” singing a too clisheish rock song) who helped him transform into a somewhat competitive contestant. Omar’s finale song was “My Way” which led me to consider that there’s at least one Pinoy in the storyboard think tank.

I won’t be sharing with you guys that the twist has Chris Klein (Mandy Moore’s character’s loser ex-boyfriend) blow off with Hugh Grant in front of national television. I promise, I won’t.
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