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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I Still Know What I Did Last Two Weekends

Two weekends ago, I was at Bob's for a vain photo-op for my new passport. Ages ago, I had my first passport pic taken from the same studio. Don't ask me for a copy of it cause you might mistake me for, hmm, never mind. Anyway, I will be having my third passport soon and what a way to celebrate it by revisiting Bob's. They now charge P600+ for a dozen copies of passport photos (the travel agent will be needing five for the renewal). There's nothing fancy with the whole experience. Nothing has really changed much except for the fact that the process is now digital.

From there, I got a bilao of Pancit ng Taga-Malabon then took a cab to Titus Brandsma Media Center for a simple Christmas gathering and the usual film showing. We were only eight in the room then. I caught "Les Choristes" halfway and finished the next film, a Japanese melodrama entitled "One Litre of Tears". Had some ice cream, pancit and soda. Call it eat-and-run but at 7pm, I was already at GB3 catching "The Golden Compass".

Sunday. A Christmas Party was held inside the boarding house with none other than, my housemates! Seven party people in the cute (read: not so big, not so tiny) living room with lots of food, videoke and kris kringle. I had two bottles of SMB Light and I received a black and sleek Esprit umbrella (ella, ella, ella).

Last weekend, I got up early and took a cab to MV Doulus or more popularly known as "the floating bookshop". It was a sunny Saturday and the heat was unusually energy zapping for mid-December. I alighted at the port area's Gate 1 (just near Manila Hotel) and walked my ass off to the entrance of the ship. At 10am, I was already browsing through the books and ended up buying a diet book (!), a Bible story in manga (aptly called "The Manga Messiah"), a world map, some postcards and a cap. Right at the exit, some books were being given out for free (mostly inspirational). I was informed that this is going to be the last visit of the ship.

I was at World Bazaar at World Trade Center by lunchtime. It was a, err, a bazaar. Very Greenhills but less chaotic. The first thing that I did was get a fix of Korean pancit (sold by three Korean gals in a hypnotic Korean-English accent) and Lipton Green Tea. Stall by stall, I managed to check out the stuff they're selling: from laptray (cushion attached to a tray) to ammunition to ABS-CBN shirts and Lastikman apparel. There's a special section called "Celebrity Village" where local celebs had a chance to rent a space and sell their wares (KC Concepcion, Andrea del Rosario, Juday and a lot more). Don't worry, they're not present on that day. I left the place with only one piece of new shirt.

The rest of the afternoon was spent with getting an Avenue Q shirt at RCBC Plaza (Juday and Ryan Agoncillo just got in, I saw them), fetching my passport pics and a newly acquired John Lennon - Imagine woodmounted poster from Frame Plus (I got the poster from Odyssey) and some quicky shopping at SM Makati. In the evening, I was about to go to Ateneo to catch Glen Mas' "Death of a Memory" but the Christmas traffic hindered me from doing so. I just stayed home and, well, slept.

Nothing much last Sunday. The highlight could be the first Simbang Gabi and a hearty early breakfast with bibingka and puto bumbong. At 11pm, my roommate and I were already cruising along Burgos, looking for a bar that would treat us with a live via satellite Chelsea vs. Arsenal game. Too bad, we didn't catch any. Frustrated, we just went to Top Grill along Jupiter for a couple of beers. Hours later, bad news reached us. Chelsea lost, 1-0. Damn! Oh well, Manuel.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Movie Digest # 032

Glorietta 4, Cinema 3, December 5, 10:00pm

Yes, Ben Affleck can direct. It’s not obvious yet but rest assured that I would be watching his next film as a film director. Pero nakakaduda rin na baka sobrang maganda lang ang material. The same guy who gave us the critically acclaimed “Mystic River” authors the book (and the screenplay?) and I wasn’t disappointed. Gusto ko ‘yung multiple characters, ‘yung halos walang lead. Gusto ko ‘yung mga kamukha nito na tumatalakay sa isang maliit na komunidad na humihinga at nabubuhay nang kolektibo. Most importantly, I like films that are bold enough to post a difficult moral question addressed to the viewers, something that is worth tackling even after the end credits. .

Friends who might appreciate it: Oscar 2008 expectators.

Power Plant, Cinema 5, December 7, 10:10pm

This should be retitled to “Eastern Surprises” as the film becomes one of my favorite films for 2007. It has some elements of “The Godfather” or even “The Departed” but the delivery is not alienating. It created a world of its own without being a sell-out or too mainstream. It must be the acting ensemble where everybody deserves a nod or two. Viggo’s acting best. Pang-Oscars ang mga ginawa n’ya including the gory hand-to-hand fight inside a bathhouse without wearing anything and a commendable Russian accent. Not to disappoint too are the Hitchcock fans for some frames are very reminiscent of the Master of Suspense’s works. A must-see.

Friends who might appreciate it: those who are in for a ride.

Greenbelt 3, Cinema 1, December 8, 7:00pm

It’s one of those “not-as-good-as-the-book” films. I don’t know what exactly went wrong because the production design is OK, costume/make-up is fine, acting, etc. The film is technically above average as compared to "Narnia". Maybe the problem lies within the storytelling. “The Golden Compass”, instead of revealing truth, maligns and confuses the audience. For instance, it’s very puzzling why Lyra is very much strongwilled to do what she has to do. What is she thinking? What is her drive to overcome the series of unfortunate events that she’s been in? If you haven’t read the book, chances are, you’ll be lost with this compass.

Friends who might appreciate it: those who had read the Dark Materials Book I by Philip Pullman and was eager to watch the film before buying the next two books (“Subtle Knife” and “Amber Spyglass”).

Glorietta 1, Cinema 1, December 9, 1:55pm

If you’re a fan of Batanes (the place) and always keen to book a trip for a summer weekend-away but ended up just planning, this film is perfect for you. The images of the waves crushing through the cliff and down the rocks are mindblowing (no joke!). Another way to experience that is to visit some spots in Australia or Farewell Spit in New Zealand. The sand, the seashore, the sturdy houses built for the typhoons, plus Iza Calzado’s bucolic beauty and some helicopter shots of the blue sea are simply amazing. Never mind that it has a story. Don’t be too intimate with it, with the characters and the plot ‘cause you might end up being disapointed. Or maybe the story is good and can be easily forgiven but some execution of the scenes are too lousy. Or it could be another case of poor editing as some story highlights require further explanation. Why is Sid Lucero always appearing in the sea out of the blue? How come the “Swept Away” plot is too unbelievable? As the song goes, “too many questions but the answers are still few”.

Friends who might appreciate it: backpackers and F4 fans.

SM Mall of Asia, Cinema 1, December 16, 3:15pm

I am not sure if I like this film for I can’t say much about it. If there’s one assurance, it must be the film being a visual feast. I like the cinematography, the costumes, the lavish sets and the “eye” of the whole film. Not to mention the no nonsense presence of Cate Blanchett and Amanda Morton. In spite of all these goodness, the movie fails to make a remarkable kick. Yes it’s good but it lacks emotional participation. I wasn’t moved, I wasn’t uprooted from my seat and I didn’t cry. The film “The Queen” already risked on similar characterization but I can say that I appreciate the efforts more of this film to further womanize as well as humanize Queen Elizabeth, one of the greatest queens of England.
Friends who might appreciate it: those who are dumbstruck when Gwyneth Paltrow for “Shakespeare in Love” won over Cate Blanchett for “Elizabeth”.

Greenbelt 1, Cinema 1, December 17, 8:00pm

Poignant and personal. This docu probes the lives of a group of Filipino transvestites in Tel Aviv, Israel, seen in the eyes of a foreigner. The group is composed of caregivers, parlorista and choreographers by day and drag queens by night. Well, it has the ingredients of being a crowd-pleaser: the drama, the migration blues, discrimination and norms. What's really notable is the honesty and curiosity imbibed by the Israeli filmmaker. One segment showcases the director being transformed into a drag. Also, I don't find the docu too technical or too mechanical similar to what we normally see on local TV. At some point, it has a home-made video feel that works and complements. If you have time, go and catch this one.

Friends who might appreciate it: docu fans (in drag?).

Glorietta 4, Cinema 1, December 17, 10:30pm

If you want something clean and wholesome, this film is top of the list. At first, I had no plans to watch this film but when the Golden Globe nominees were announced recently and Amy Adams (the one who played Giselle) got a nod for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, I hurried to catch this film on its second (or third?) week. Well, one thing's for sure, "Enchanted" is not pretentious. I think its only intention is to come up with a standard Disney film and on that regard, they succeeded. Miss Adams is a great reminder that any role can be taken seriously. She's on the same league with Johnny Depp for "Pirates of the Caribbean" or even our very own Charito Solis for the "OK Ka, Fairy Ko" series.

Friends who might appreciate it: those who happen to know Mc Dreamy.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Paalam, Rene O. Villanueva

Nakakagulat ang isang posting sa isang film Yahoogroup. Pumanaw na ang manunulat na si Rene Villanueva. Heto ang nilalaman:

Our beloved writer friend Rene Villanueva has passed away last dec. 3. You can visit his wake at Sanctuarium in Araneta Corner Quezon Avenue until dec.7. He will be laid on Dec. 8 at UP Diliman (Fairies Garden). His famous works as writer include Batibot, May Isang Sundalo, Asawa, Kaaway sa Sulod, The Bomb, Watawat, "Botong" (Carlos Francisco Life Story), Tiktipaklong, Ibong Adarna and more. please pass. thanks

Doods J.
Cineaste moderator
Kamakailan lamang ay humingi pa ako ng autograph sa kanya. Mukha na s'yang mahina noon pero itinago ito ng polo n'ya na kulay green. Nakita ko s'ya sa isang pagtatanghal ng Virgin Labfest sa CCP kung saan kabilang ang kanyang obra na "Bertdey ni Guido". Tungkol ito sa isang batang kasing-kaarawan ng EDSA People Power. May nalikha akong blog tungkol dito kung hindi ako nagkakamali. Ang hindi ko lang makalimutan ay ang nag-iisang pangungusap na nasambit ko sa kanya: "Sir, I owe you my childhood."

Cinema One Originals 2007

It wasn’t as successful in terms of attendance as this year’s Cinemalaya (or even Cinemanila) but still, Cinema One Originals Film Festival has the balls to challenge the mainstream and to offer the movie buffs an alternative avenue. I hope other media companies like GMA-7 or the Ayala Group could open doors to our thriving film artists (many are still untapped unfortunately).

Last long weekend (November 30 to December 2), I went to Glorietta 4 to catch a film or two a day. Another screening was being mounted at Trinoma also on the same weekend. This year, Ayala Malls sponsored the festival while the very first one was at SM Megamall (no idea about last year’s). A film costs P130 (a bit pricier compared to Cinemalaya’s P100) and there were five “originals” to watch. Just a little background, Cinema One funded each film for a whopping P1M (Cinemalaya offers only half of it).

Below are my two cents (in chronological order that I saw them):

PRINSESA – I was reminded of a film poster for “Palindromes” about an obese girl facing a jungle but I think the two are different. This film by Lawrence Fajardo of “Kultado” fame is about OFWs told in a very subtle and not-the-usual tale of oppression and melodrama. The father who finds a contractual job abroad realizes that his daughter’s obesity is his absence impregnated. Of course, the ending is predictable. What’s not predictable is the nonexistence of a talky script. The first parts (roughly 15 minutes) are executed with less words and just images of a father trying to move on with the help of his sister, his daughter and a granny without even explaining what’s really happening. Oh, the power of images! If only mainstream directors could appreciate this advantage of executing “silent” scenes. Acting-wise, the cast delivers well including Romnick Sarmenta as the father and Hopia (I forgot her last name) as the daughter. Shamaine Centenara and Archie Adamos provide a great support.

MALING AKALA – The plot might be thin but I still appreciate this latest film from the same team that brought us the highly acclaimed “Inang Yaya”. First, the location, a fishing village somewhere in Pampanga, was transformed into a Venetian paradise, complete with the iconic “San Marco” dome and the rigger-less boats that pass to and from the fish ponds. That alone is worth the ticket. As for the cast, I am not sure if Victor Basa can deliver (Jodi Sta. Maria-Lacson is always a safe choice). He reminds me of Ariel Rivera when first made a break in “Nandito Ako” with Aga Muhlach and Lea Salonga, very raw and amateurish. The false assumption in the film allegedly is Victor’s character to be straight. These two folks met in a bus and they acted like a couple with Jodi’s parents as audience. Before the film ends, Jodi’s character caught Victor’s character making love to a fisherman. This is where the film hits a lump in the throat. There’s too much “planting” in it even from the very start and the twist doesn’t come as a surprise. Just the same, the movie boasts of beautiful cinematography and some commendable close-up shots.

TAMBOLISTA – This is my brave bet as the festival’s best picture. It’s very Pinoy, very Brocka but not very artsy. The film tackles a sad and tragic story of a teenager who is saving up money for a drumset. That’s basically the film’s main plot but it is cleverly juxtaposed with other subplots about the main protagonist’s brother with a girlfriend who undergoes an abortion, a friend in search of meaning and a pair of noisy oldies who fight about anything nonsense. The film is done in B&W and color (red) only appears when there’s a bloody scene (complemented by Khavn’s effective musical score of mostly drumbeats). I don’t understand the significance of this over the material but that’s fine. The three lead actors (Jiro Manio, Sid Lucero and Coco Martin) deliver a great and occasionally natural performance. Sid Lucero, who played a disturbed comrade, won the Best Actor award. Jiro Manio might have provided a more heartfelt characterization but Sid has made sure that he is “present” in every scene that he’s in. I can also say that this is Adolf Alix’s best work as a director (though I haven’t seen his “Donsol”).

ALTAR – There’s something unusual about a Rico Maria Ilarde film. I’ve seen his “Sa Ilalim ng Cogon” and both films have a script that makes all the speaking lines very intellectual. This might not work on some characters that do not require eloquence and sensibility but just the same, the script is fun to see coming to life. This suspense film still carries the same scare tactics popularized by blockbuster films like “Feng Shui” or “Sukob” but it has its own unique charm. It must be the urge that is seeded in every moviegoer to look what lies beneath and go beyond the extra mile in uncovering the unknown. The good thing is that it doesn’t have to explain much. It created a world that doesn’t have to be conceivable. The last scene having Zanjoe Marudo crying over his new duty as a “guard” while looking at his loved one (Dimples Romana) through a small attic window is memorable.

CONFESSIONAL – This is the festival’s Best Picture. I prefer not to contest that for the film is very enjoyable and finely crafted. Right after watching this film, I concluded that two new filmmakers are now born and will be joining the roster of our talented young bloods. Technically, I have high praises for the film. It’s fresh and clearly a total experience for film buffs. Watching the film is like listening to a hip band performing live while enjoying a bottle of beer. Never-before seen images, infectious OST, cutthroat editing, what more can a cineaste would ask for? Unfortunately, beyond all these overwhelming goodness, the film didn’t move me.

Trip to Cubao X

I recently found my new place in this world. It’s called Cubao Expo or simply put, Cubao X. As the name suggests, it’s located at the heart of Cubao, just along the bus terminal near Ali Mall and beside Pure Gold (the mall formerly known as COD).

It’s there for more than two years now. It was called Marikina Shoe Expo before (the bold sign can still be seen at the side of the building). The street where it is located is called Romulo Avenue. On top are two giant Cubao Expo signs, enticing you to get in. No entrance fees, no inspections.

The place is like a U-shaped avenida of hip stop-and-shops. There’s a hopia counter, a beer booth and the Italian resto called Bellini’s that is used in the film “One More Chance”. You can also find Heritage antique shop having a window decorated with old Pinoy film stills (I want that!). There are also some stalls called Breathing Space (or is it “room”?), Reading Place, an old school ukay-ukay shop plus other artsy-fartsy space for photography and visual arts. At the curve, there’s Mogwai Bar to enjoy a Saguijo-like atmosphere.

When I went there last Saturday (alone!), there’s an event for lomo lovers. There was a series of bands performing as if sky’s the limit. Night market stalls for Christmas shopping were also put up until midnight. I bought a pin with a Philippine flag on it, accentuated by the words “Multiply Pilipinas”. That’s for P40. I had a bottle of SMB Light (for 35 bucks) and roamed and observed the people. For a long time now, I felt at home and surprisingly at peace.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Things 007: Father Bob Conaghy's Lifelines

After the mass ended yesterday at Greenbelt (I was already out of the chapel and very much eager to visit Music One), a familiar voice was broadcasted. It came from a priest who I admire a lot when he was still a resident presider at the chapel. His name is Father Bob Conaghy or simply Father Bob. He was promoting a CD called "Lifelines: Thoughts to hang on to at the end of the rope". It was a project conceptualized with Richard Merk and it basically has some talks from Father Bob discussing miracles, love, death, humility and Jesus (with original music from Tito Fuentes). It's effective and very calming to hear especially if you're toxic and tired. The proceeds will go to some medicine for our brethren in Eastern Samar. In case you're eyeing that Kris Aquino-narrated CD, think again and try this album from Father Bob as you're helping both your self and your Bicolano kababayans. A copy costs P300.

Things 006: Bench All-Around Warmer

It's very rare that I buy stuff impulsively (except for rare films on video). Last long weekend, I visited a familiar and an old favorite shop called Bench. I was just browsing and checking if there are some good Christmas gift items there. I ended up buying a scarf-like thing that you can use for 101 purposes. The material is similar to a winter scarf but it was made to look like a girl's tube tops. You can wear it around your neck or you can pull it a little more to cover your mouth just like a mask or a bonnet. I can also bring it to the cinemas and use it in my arms (this blogger has no warm hand to hold on tight during cold season). It's very handy, trendy and cheaply priced at P199.75.

And the NU Goes to....

Thursday wasn't really that good. I was freaking out at the reception area of NU 107, talking to a lady boss over my mobile. That was lunch time and I had only an hour to claim the tickets that Gian, an officemate, had won after an online voting. It was also raining and the cab that brought me to Ortigas was caught violating a No U-Turn sign at The Fort. I was hungry and mad. Eventually, I got the tickets, said sorry and thanked the people from NU. There was a misunderstanding but that was easily forgotten and I was happy that I will be rocking the World Trade Center for the 20th NU Rock Awards on the next day.

There's nothing fancy about attending THE event. There was a queue and the security inspection was thorough. By the way, the night before, DILG declared a midnight-to-5am curfew all over the metro and the nearby provinces. Thanks to our dear Senator Trillanes. I saw a bin at the entrance containing cigarettes and lighters. Minutes later, I got in and it was cozy at first. I went directly to the "mosh pit" and tried my luck to reach the frontline.

Well, I didn't know that awards night like that also has some front acts. Marcus Highway and Gayuma performed one song each. A beer drinking contest killed roughly 10 more minutes then a big lull came. There was only Sir Francis of The Dawn Indian sitting in the middle of the stage (was he hugging his guitar the entire time?), no whatsoever. That lasted for a about half an hour. But there was no boring moment as events like that are normally filled with wisecracks.

I didn't notice when the event really began but the alleged opening number was the national anthem on guitar solo played by Sir Francis. I am not sure if that was politically correct. I was informed before that our Lupang Hinirang should always have the original areglo. Dad even joked me one time that Fred Panopio was arrested after singing his famous "Yudolehehoo!" at the end of the national anthem.

After "that" number, the awarding went on. The event followed a pattern. First, two or three celebs or band members or models introduced a band that was about to perform. Then another set will announce the winner of a certain rock award category. So it's intro-performance-award then intro-performance-award. The first award was the Drummer of the Year award (was it?) which went to the drummers of Rivermaya and Bamboo. It's nice to see that these two drummers who came from two splitting bands (now it's three with Rico Blanco as solo artist) were now making beso and all smiles. Too bad that "idol ng bayan" Joel Salvador of Chicosci didn't make it. Damn! I even recorded that segment on video. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

I can't remember the sequence of the performances now but I can say that the highlights include Raimund Marasigan of Sandwich doing the "dive" with aplomb, Miggy of Chicosci being hairpulled just like a Nazareno, Marc Abaya borrowing a Philippine flag parading and waving as if reminding us of what could have happened at the Manila Pen, Bamboo having a jam of a lifetime with Buklod singing the most fitting song for the night ("Tatsulok"), Kat of Sinosikat? after receiving the Vocalist of the Year trophy commented with "I didn't expect this" while the crowd agreed "Kami rin" and of course the ever snob and now pretty boy looking Ely Buendia doing a number as if "wala lang" as usual.

If my memory serves it right, here are the rest of the winners: Song of the Year went to Typecast's "Will You Ever Learn", Album and Album Packaging of the Year for Orange and Lemons' last project "Moonlane Gardens", Guitarist and Live Act were awarded to Bamboo, Hilera also got an award as well as Reklamo (the last two bands are eyed as the next big thing for 2008).

And that was my very first NU Rock Awards. I hope to see Gian soon to thank him personally for the experience. I also have to confess that I sold the other ticket to an scalper for a hundred bucks.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Movie Digest # 031

Glorietta 4, Cinema 4, November 28, 8:15pm

Mira Nair is back with this straight from a book adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri's "The Namesake". It's a simple story actually about migration blues and selling out our soul for a piece of acceptance. A lot of Pinoys could pretty much relate to this tale of family, identity and growing up. I can say that the film is well made but it doesn't have enough punch to make it to the Oscars (if that was the intention of the filmmaker). The acting is fine especially the one delivered by the actor who played the father. It's also a feel-good film.

Friends who might appreciate it: those who wish to see Taj Mahal (in real or in reel).

Glorietta 4, Cinema 3, November 28, 10:30pm

Now this is an action film! It's technically well made, action scenes are well choreographed, sound is superb, observer shots are well handed and the editing is very edgy. I think this is the first film that gave me an idea on what Saudi Arabia would look like. But the film is beyond that. It doesn't try much to be political like Syriana but it's not as action packed as a Bruce Willis film either. It's got the right mix, I would say. The real-time storytelling is effective as it recounts a weeklong events for four Americans who did an investigation of a massacre in Riyadh. The middle part could be a bore as it becomes a talky version of CSI. Just wait for the denouement as the film explodes like a Super Lolo. The last few scenes are a reminder to the viewers that war never ends for we are driven to "kill them all".

Friends who might appreciate it: my friends from the Middle East.

Knock on Wood

It was weird. It was my first brush with premonition. At my age, that only proves that I don't have really a third eye or something.

One Tuesday afternoon, Teds approached me at my table and handed me something from HSBC. It was an envelope that is supposed to look like a black wallet. Its content doesn't have to do with the gothic packaging for it was only an invite-a-friend kind of promo. Teds then joked with "Condolence ha!" to my surprise. I quipped with something like "Uy, hindi OK 'yan ha" then instinctively, I knocked on the wooden table three times trying to dispell the curse.

Last Thursday, I got a text message from mom informing me that there was a vehicular accident in Brgy. Mal-ay (that's outside the town proper and along the national highway in Lopez, Quezon). Mom frequents the place to visit our mini kubo there from time to time (that's how she's very much updated with the news in the area). Also in the same SMS that my mom shared that the motorcycle (motorbike) is registered under the name of my highschool friend Joseph. He's one of my closest friends way back then. The rider didn't make it. His skull was crushed that deemed his body unidentified for hours (the accident took place at past midnight).

I started calling and texting my highschool friends. Minutes later, I was informed that it wasn't Joseph who passed away but his younger brother. The motorbike was "borrowed" without my friend's permission.

Then it dawned on me. Teds, a colleague, who carried the "premonition" is very much identified a motorbike. He goes to the office through that two-wheeled vehicle complete with a black helmet and a leather jacket. Is it just me, who is now considering the power of knocking on wood, or premonition really exists? Well, the truth is out there (the "X Files" theme song must be playing by now).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Things 005: Starbucks Christmas Traditions 2007 Redemption Card

Well, it's the season once again to collect stamps for a copy of limited Starbucks 2008 Planner. This means that I will be frequenting Starbucks to get a serving of caffeine and hypertension. For this year, 24 cups of coffee (and/or tea, including my all-time favorite Tazo tea, passion fruit flavor) are required to be purchased and 12 of it must be Christmas-inspired drinks like toffee nut latte, praline mocha and peppermint coffee which I am not really a fan of. As of presstime, I still need to get 13 more stamps. I just remind my self that the best things in life are free.

Movie Digest # 029

Glorietta 4, Cinema 3, November 21, 8:20pm

Avoid this film. Feel free to walk out in the first ten minutes. Pretentious, phony, pathetic. The saving grace: the nice domes in Russia used in most of the action sequences.

Friends who might appreciate it: those who haven’t seen a film for ten years.

Glorietta 4, Cinema 1, November 24, 12:30pm

Whether I like the film or not, the answer is yes, I like the film. Here are the reasons: less Star Cinema-tic in terms of cinematography (read: glossy) and characterization, the actors are good (if only GMA-7 could produce at least one John Lloyd Cruz), the direction is well thought of but not pretentious (and far better than Jose Javier Reyes’) and most especially, the script has a lot of “relate” factor. Some scenes will make you cry not because the actors are literally crying but simply because the lines will somewhat hit that soft spot in you. It’s either you’re currently in their shoes or you’ve been there, done that. The scriptwriter(s) must have undergone and coped up the spell of love, pain, heartbreak and moving on. Move over, Mel Mendoza-del Rosario.

Friends who might appreciate it: those who had just switched to Clear Anti-Dandruff Shampoo.

How Green was my Valley (if I have One)

Last Friday was well spent with two major things: (1) staring at a wonderful text message from time to time and (2) killing the rest of the night while enjoying Repertory Philippines’ “Fiddler on the Roof” and a cup of White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks. The musical is good, actually (eventhough it ran for almost three hours). I was with three of my officemates and it was my first time to watch it (either film or stage production). During college, a boardmate lent me a copy of the OST with a Pavarotti-sounding musical actor as Tevye.

Well, “Fiddler on the Roof” pala is about a father and his struggles raising his five daughters during a tumultuous Russia. Most of the problems are lovelife-related. As expected, it wasn’t easy for the dad as he occasionally communes with God through a series of prayers highlighted by some twisted Biblical passages. The musical then is all about faith.

The show that we’ve seen was for the benefit of a Marian movement. It wasn’t surprising that most of the crowd were like members of Catholic Women’s League. Just the same, it was fun. I would always prefer buying a benefit ticket over those bought directly through Ticket World. Besides, I gained another friend in the person of Miss Malou Tuazon who captained the event. Right before leaving Greenbelt OnStage, Ma’am Malou asked me if I liked it and she hoped to see me in their future projects. Deal.

Saturday started at noon. I watched the Rito Asilo-acclaimed “One More Chance” from Star Cinema in Glorietta 4. I ended up teary-eyed in one of the scenes (aw!). Well, the film deserves my being part-time wussy. There’s one scene where John Lloyd drenched himself in the rain and shouted something like “kung magkakasakit kaya ako, kakausapin n’ya kaya ako?”

At 3pm past, I met Ruth at Music One. We had Burger King then proceeded later on to Greenhills (hence the title of this blog). I bought a Bangkok-imported t-shirt printed with “20th Century Fox” in glittery but shy silver (OK, it’s glittery silver but not that glittery, got it?) worth P250. We watched the COD-inspired display for five minutes then met Cat at Pasto. We all had pasta.

"Into the Woods” by New Voice Company ran also for three hours. It was staged at Music Museum (which explains why we’re at Greenhills Shopping Center). Well, I had no regret that I was seated in a not so butt-friendly balcony seat. The ensemble is good, the music is hummable and the local adaptation is a blast. Thanks to the cast spearheaded by the likes of Michael Williams, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Jamie Wilson, Tommy Abuel and a very promising kid wonder named Julia Abueva who played the girl in red riding hood. The only drawback of the production (if it is a valid point) is the absence of big and overwhelming sets similar to “The Little Mermaid” or “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” as staged locally by Trumpets. What we’ve seen was a couple of optimized blockings and a great musical direction (basically, musical theater at its low-budgeted best). The experience was like watching a theater production on tour.

Sunday came and came fast with a threat of an approaching typhoon. I just slept. In between waking-ups, I stared at the text message again and again.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Third Day of Night

I just realize that blogs start to get boring when you write about heartbreak, moving on and getting back at life. But come to think of it, blogs are meant to stand that and ideally designed to help us unburden the burden. Whatever the odds are, this is a statement: no more boring stuff.

I got a text message from Jesse yesterday that my beer buddies, Cueshé (no less, hahaha), will be performing at Cowboy Grill in Malate in the same evening. So I squeezed that in and gave a shot. Matagal ko na ring hindi nakikita ang banda. Besides, I have business with Jesse. He got me two signed CDs from Jed Madela and Ronnie Liang. Yeah, I am a big fan of signatures and Jesse’s a man of connections.

I left the apartment at quarter before midnight, wearing my black Rico Blanco shirt and faded black jeans. The cab ride itself was an experience as Manong Driver thanked me for waking him up through a hearty conversation. Bihira ‘yan na nakakatikim ako ng salamat para sa isang simpleng bagay (not that I’m waiting for it).

It was raining hard. May bagyo raw sa Bicol.

At midnight, I was already at Cowboy Grill’s door, waiting for Jesse. After a minute or two, he showed up and signalled me to go to Shakey’s instead. These establishments are erected on the same side facing Aristocrat and the overwhelming Rajah Sulayman edifice. At the al fresco section of the pizza parlor, Mike and Jovan greeted me while having a post-yosi session. The rest of the guys were inside the resto enjoying the company of another group (manager, few fans, etc.). After some small talk, we proceeded to the venue for the gig. By the way, we went to Cowboy Grill through the comfort room section of Shakey’s, skipping the P300-worth consumable entrance fee. There’s a not-so secret door there connecting the two restos. I realized later that they are sharing the same comfort room.

Hmm… the gig went fine. It’s like I haven’t been missing their repertoire for a long time now. I had a bottle of SMB Light and a shared plate of Calamares. I had a blast observing the drunkards (one of them requested for GNR’s “November Rain”, justifying that it’s the month of November and indeed it was raining). The band opted not to sing that but continued with the familiar covers like “Creep”, the Queen medley and more.

Bedtime at 2am. I missed staying late on a weekday and this is a good start. I can’t wait for more outtakes as Neverland always concocts something new and something difficult.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Hmm.... Day 1. Hahaha. Badminton in the evening at Pasong Tamo Extension with officemates. It's been ages since I last played so imagine the muscle pain right after the game. We called it a night just minutes ago. Then I took a cab back to my place.

Manong Driver was tuned in to Love Radio and the DJ was called something like Mr. Foo (or Fu?). By the way, this is the same station that keeps on bugging us with "Hi, Pangga!". Then Mr. Foo said something that cheered me up: "O, sa mga taxi driver, sabay-sabay n'yong tingnan at ngitian ang katabi n'yong pasahero ha. OK, 1...2...3... Tingin! Ngayon naman, mga passengers, sabay-sabay n'yong tingnan at ngitian ang inyong taxi driver. 1...2...3...!"

I stopped by at Sa Tabi along Reposo and had liempo and rice (a no-no!) and just enjoyed the cold early Christmas breeze.

And the Official Moving-On Song...

Raindrops Keep Fallin' on my Head
Burt Bacharach
Popularized by B.J. Thomas

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head
And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed
Nothin' seems to fit
Those raindrops are fallin' on my head, they keep fallin'

So I just did me some talkin' to the sun
And I said I didn't like the way he got things done
Sleepin' on the job
Those raindrops are fallin' on my head, they keep fallin'

But there's one thing I know
The blues they send to meet me won't defeat me
It won't be long till happiness steps up to greet me

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head
But that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turnin' red
Cryin's not for me
'Cause I'm never gonna stop the rain by complainin'
Because I'm free
Nothin's worryin' me


It won't be long till happiness steps up to greet me

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head
But that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turnin' red
Cryin's not for me
'Cause I'm never gonna stop the rain by complainin'
Because I'm free
Nothin's worryin' me

Movie Digest # 028

SM Mall of Asia, Cinema 5, November 15, 9:40pm

Scarlett Johansson! Period.

Friends who might appreciate it: probably those who had read the book.

SM Mall of Asia, IMAX Theater, November 18, 3:00pm

I have a lot to say about this film but those are difficult to express in words (naks!). But let me try: pride is a killer but can be cheated and corrected, women like Angelina Jolie are monsters, and children complete parents and vice versa. Go ahead, call and reserve a seat at SM Mall of Asia’s IMAX Theater and exeperience the difference.

Friends who might appreciate it: those who appreciated “300”.

Mercury Retrograde

Beware! Astrology calls it “Mercury Retrograde” and this will last for 77 days (one article mentions that it will end on January 30 next year). Here’s a dose from

A planet is described as retrograde when it appears to be moving backwards through the zodiac. According to modern science, this traditional concept arises in the illusory planetary motion created by the orbital rotation of the earth, with relation to other planets in our solar system. Planets are never actually retrograde or stationary, they just seem that way, due to this cosmic shadow-play.

And more:

In general, Mercury rules thinking and perception, processing and disseminating information and all means of communication, commerce, education and transportation. By extension, Mercury rules people who work in these areas, especially people who work with their minds or their wits: writers and orators, commentators and critics, gossips and spin doctors, teachers, travellers, tricksters and thieves.

Mercury retrograde gives rise to personal misunderstandings; flawed, disrupted, or delayed communications, negotiations and trade; glitches and breakdowns with phones, computers, cars, buses, and trains. And all of these problems usually arise because some crucial piece of information, or component, has gone astray, or awry.

It is therefore not wise to make important decisions while Mercury is retrograde, since it is very likely that these decisions will be clouded by misinformation, poor communication and careless thinking. Mercury is all about mental clarity and the power of the mind, so when Mercury is retrograde, these intellectual characteristics tend to be less acute than usual, as the critical faculties are dimmed. Make sure you pay attention to the small print!

I’ve checked how my weekend fared, validating if all these chaos already hit me. Well, last Friday, I was about to meet a friend who has my copy of Jessica Hagedorn’s “Dogeaters”. My book (and my friend) was nowhere to be found and I received no text whatsoever. I hurried to RCBC Plaza to catch the book signing and poured my heart out to poor Miss Hagedorn. She put something on the newly purchased book (a whopping P699 for a copy of “Dream Jungle”) that salvaged the day. With her signature, she asked my friend for being late with three “?’s”. I quipped with “That’s the coolest signature I’ve got”. She confirmed smilingly. “I know.”

Then came Saturday. One major blow came in the morning: a brink of separation (yes, I am/was connected and nobody noticed it, bwahahaha). I survived the morning with hope and denial. I caught Tanghalang Pilipino’s “Insiang” at 3pm and it was good. Really. I like the set, the acting, and the adaptation. Brocka should have seen this production. On my way back to my place, depression knocked me big time. I was really in denial. I wasn’t that strong. Then at 8pm, my friends and I watched the local staging of Hagedorn’s “Dogeaters”. It was fun for many reasons: I got Lea Salonga’s signature segued by an attempt to small talk right before the play began, the production is one of Pinoy theater’s shining moments, P400-worth balcony seat was worth it and I was at my best when I approached Miss Hagedorn for another signature. The day was punctuated with a cold, rainy evening with me burping with SMB Light.

Sunday was the worst (and hopefully the peak). After catching “Beowulf” at IMAX, which was a total experience on its own, and a poetic sunset at the bay, a misunderstanding ensued. Maybe it was I trying to cope. Or maybe not. Or it must be the sunset and the sadness it brings to any observer. Behind the darkened horizon, an epiphany just unfolded. Yes, I will be free. Thanks to Mercury.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Movie Digest # 027

Glorietta 4, Cinema 4, November 8, 7:20pm

Sorry but I don’t think the film deserves an A rating from the Cinema Evaluation Board. Sayang pa naman ‘yung materyal, pwedeng ibenta sa ibang bansa. Siguradong maa-amaze ang ilan sa kabaong na pinaparentahan. It has the feel of “Kubrador” or “Foster Child” but the problem lies in the dialogue and direction, which is very pretentious for me. Hindi nakuha ang pagiging natural para mapaniwala ako sa grit na gustong ipakita ng pelikula. At hindi lang ‘yan. Ang script ay halos isambulat na lahat ng gustong ikwento. Kinakailangang magsalita ang mga karakter para magkwento. Piling pili rin ang mga artista na karamihan ay may karanasan sa teatro. Hindi rin ito nakontrol sa direction. Masyadong nag-effort sa aktingan ang ensemble na muli ay nakadagdag para magmukhang peke ang pelikula. Mas underacting pa ‘yung mga itim na dagang ginamit dito. Sayang.

Friends who might appreciate it: those who want to discuss anything under the sun and prefer a cinema ambiance for a venue.

Glorietta 4, Cinema 3, November 10, 1:45pm

One thing’s for sure: it’s talky but not the Tarantino or Scorsese kind of talky. It’s too talky that some scenes could be mistaken for acts from a straight play except, of course, for the film language (and less body movements). Siguro ay nasa tradition ng “Crash” sa pagpapakita ng cause-and-effect. It could be a film for political science students or for those already in the politics. Not for me but I can say that it’s still well made. Acting is also good. Direction is not bad and pretentious. Ang drawback lang para sa akin ay ‘yung pagiging idealistic n’ung character ni Robert Redford. Parang dito naging preachy ‘yung movie.

Friends who might appreciate it: those who aren’t running for President.

Glorietta 1, Cinema 3, November 10, 4:50pm

Funny but uninventive. Few laughs and that’s it. At one scene, a goon appears showing off his “balisong”. I was reminded actually of Pinoy comedies during the 80’s.

Friends who might appreciate it: Christopher Walken fans.

Greenbelt 3, Cinema 4, November 13, 9:05pm

I almost skipped this one courtesy of a film review from PDI. But I feel like watching a film tonight and so I watched it. And good thing that I liked it. It's a film about two brothers separated by beliefs and later on reunited by it. It's also about paternal love. But this is an action film slash crime drama. In that department, it won't disappoint those who are used to watching story-oriented, action-packed films. Yes, you can still eat popcorn. It's just that the delivery is subtle, zenned up and natural. Thanks to the actors (Wahlberg, Phoenix and Duvall). At one scene, two policemen came to Duvall to deliver a bad news. Duvall then said, "Which child is it?". Some scenes are also visually stunning. It's my first time to see an exciting car chase where the POV is mostly inside the car running and crashing other cars amidst a heavy and almost blinding downpour of rain and where the sound comes overwhelmingly from the wiper as if simulating a heartbeat. Whoa!

Friends who might appreciate it: those who are tired of "Die Hard" and the likes.

Tatlong Sinehang Nagpabago sa Aking Buhay-Makasine

Ang tatlong sinehang nabanggit sa ibaba ay matagal nang nagsara ilang umaga matapos isilang ang cable TV sa aming bayan. Dalawa rito ay giniba na at pinalitan ng ibang establisimyento samantalang ang isa naman ay hinayaang mabulok.

Batang Felrose 1 and 2 ako tapos malapit pa sa Javelin ang Bldg 2 (ang aking “elementary” school). Kaya siguro ako naadik sa sine. Sarap manood n'un na merong ka-double. Kung sesewertehin ay tatluhan pa ang palabas sa presyong pangdalawahan! Malas laang kung mag-brown out dahil hindi mo alam kung kailan magkakailaw. Ya, ako ay hindi naalis sa upuan at baka merong mapalampas. Hehehe.

Felrose 1: ito 'yung malapit sa Talolong River sa may Magsaysay pero bahagi pa ito ng Brgy. Talolong. Pagpasok na pagpasok mo ay bilihan ng ticket agad sa kaliwa na kamukha ng usual na box office: nahaharangan ng bubog na meron laang maliit na butas na bilog sa may parteng gitna para magkarinigan kayo ng takilyera. Kapag hindi ka umakyat, Orchestra 'yan. Nand'yan din ang maliit na area para sa bilihan ng Marie at Coke na naka-plastic at may straw na stripe (may yellow at pink nito). Nasa area rin na 'yan ang ilang still pictures para masabik ka sa mapapanood mo. Kung suswertehen ay may teaser na rin d'yan ng mga coming soon. Pagbalik mo sa may bilihan ng ticket, nandyan naman ang hagdan papuntang Balcony. May bantay dyaan kaya ingatan mo ang ticket mo. Sa "second floor", merong CR sa kanan na may tatlo o dalawang baytang pababa. Sa kaliwa naman ay parang terasa na nakaharap sa highway. Presko 'yaang parte na 'yan at masarap tumambay kapag naghihintay magkailaw. May isa pang hagdan paakyat at 'yun na, sinehan na.

Felrose 2: ang entrance ay d'un sa may dating prutasan sa may Kalyanda (Calle Anda). Dadaan ka sa medyo mahabang pasilyo at sa dulo ay merong mataas na hagdan patungo sa Balcony. Nasa ibaba sa kaliwa ang bilihan ng ticket at minindal. Aakyat ka ng mga apat na baytang at liliko na pakaliwa ang mataas na hagdan. May maliit na lobby r'un na pwede mong tanawin ang mga bahay-bahay sa Brgy. Rizal. Isang baytang pa ay may option ka ulit: sa kaliwa ay stockroom o CR yata at sa kanan ay 'yung sinehan na mismo na nahaharangan ng itim na tela. Nanonood ako noon ng "Shake, Rattle and Roll" nang ako'y ipasundo dahil mag-aabay raw sa kasal. Yano, hindi ko na napanood 'yung "Spirit of the Glass" episode nina Joel Torre at Arlene Muhlach (pero alam kong nakaligtas si Janice sa rapist na pridyeder).

Javelin: ang natatandaan ko lang ay malaki ang lobby nito sa ibaba. May tindahan ng sitsirya sa kanan at katabi nito ang tindahan ng ticket. Ang buong dingding ng katabi ng tindahan ng ticket ay hitik na hitik sa mga movie poster ng tatlong palabas na sine. Nasa kaliwa ang entrance. Sa second floor, isang waiting area ulit at nandun na rin ang dalawang CR sa may dulo. Isa pang akyat sa may parteng kaliwa ng waiting area at sinehan na mismo. Hindi ako masyadong nakanood d'yan dahil ang tsismis ay nagsara raw 'yan dahil may nakitang malaking sawa n'ung unang panahon.

Sa pagwawakas ng 80’s sa Lopez, Quezon, umusbong na ang VHS at Betamax. Kung video rental naman ay suki ako sa Sevilla (o Oseña bago pa itong gawing Family Computer game shop). Ang mga bold ay nakatago d'un sa upuan sa sofa na naiiangat ang kutson (hehehe). Ang likod ng pinto ay hitik sa mga movie ads sa dyaryo na pina-xerox. Lahat pa orig ang mga kopya n'un. Sa kabila ng kaalwanan ng hindi paglabas ng bahay, may kakaibang engkanto pa rin ang panonood ng pelikula sa loob ng sinehan. Sa panahong ito na ako naging binatilyo.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Beyonce Experience

Yeah, I watched it live at Taguig’s open field (at the back of NBC Tent) yesterday. For free.

Here’s how I managed to grab a ticket. Wala talagang plano. I was only hoping for a free ticket from an officemate (male, nickname with three letters, tall, always sleeping at work). During lunchtime, I was informed that no extra free ticket was available. I was at Greenbelt 1 area, fetching five “Dogeaters” tix at the Prince Plaza office of Atlantis Productions. I stopped by at the Ticketworld booth inside the mall but decided to skip shedding some bucks for Beyonce.

OK. In the afternoon, I thought I was destined not to catch the concert (which was conveniently staged near our office). Until Jesse, a Cueshéan by heart (and soul? hahaha), gave away his ticket for an unknown reason. So there, at 8pm, I was still waiting for Clara (another Cueshéan), the third person, with whom I will be claiming my freebie. 8:20pm, got inside the pit just in time for the opening song “Crazy in Love”.

And here are the highlights and lowlights as far as I am, a beggar, is concerned:

1. The opening number had Beyonce singing a portion of Knarles Barkley’s “Crazy”. I liked that part;

2. Beyonce was sweating awkwardly in one number (thanks to the giant video wall);

3. My free ticket is a Patron B ticket and costs P1,000. Cheapest ticket in the market costs P600 (most expensive at P6,000?). I enjoyed my fellow jologs as we watched almost the entire show through the video wall (there’s a little girl dancing in the stage and that’s supposed to be Beyonce). At one point, in the middle of a dance act, the assigned wall in our area went blank and the crowd screamed “ooooh!” frustratingly. Then the projector started beaming back the default-digitized countdown before giving us the live feed. My crowd, as proud as we were, started shouting the countdown as well, stealing a scene from the other crowds (how come they didn’t have a countdown? hahaha);

4. No front act, I was informed;

5. I’ve seen a dozen costume changes and heard vocal acrobatics for two hours;

6. Two of my officemates watched the Dublin show and based on the pictures that they have shared with me, Manila wasn’t robbed of any theatrics (as commonly practiced in any Asian leg by an international act);

7. One of the official concert shirts has “Manila” spelled as “Manilla”. The usher made a nice attempt at selling. “Just like vanilla”, he said;

8. I’m not familiar with Beyonce’s discography but I recognized one song from “Dreamgirls”, as segued by a “Cell Block Tango” act from “Chicago”;

9. Last song was a "Happy Birthday" song. By then, I was already on my way out of The Fort. I saw a parked limo that, according to a Maximo Oliveros look-alike, brought the Sultan of Brunei to the venue. Someone even wisecracked with “Si Bella Aldama ang sakay n‘yan, gaga!”

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Si Ben Templesmith at ang Purgatoryo sa Kampo-Santo*

*(formal theme writing naman, old-school, yebah!)

Wala nang sasarap pa sa mahigit isang linggong bakasyon sa probinsya (salamat, PGMA). Mula October 27 hanggang November 3, nasa pangangalaga lang ako ng aking mga magulang. Hilata rito, hilata roon. Bagsak din ang mga movie player (VCD at DVD) kaya’t wala akong ginawa kundi kumain at magbasa ng “The Golden Compass” ni Philip Pullman (na sa December 5 na raw ipapalabas sa mga suking sinehan).

Pero ang mahabang bakasyong ito ay sumabit lang sa All Saints Day at All Souls Day. Umuwi ako para magbigay pugay sa mga namayapa (napalampas ko ito n’ung isang taon dahil sa Utrecht assignment). Walang masyadong effort. Hindi na ako pinapabili ng nanay ko ng mga sariwang bulaklak sa Dangwa. Ayos na raw kung sa palengke sa bayan na lang bumili (o di kaya ay sa mga punerarya). Mas maalwan nga namang makipagsabayan sa mga umuuwi mula Maynila kung walang dalang sangkaterbang bagahe.

Sa bahay, nagbabasa pa rin ako ng “The Golden Compass” habang inaayos ng nanay ko ang mga bulaklak. Ilang chapters pa at tapos na pala ito, handa nang ialay. Ganun din ang mga kandila. Karaniwang inihahanda ito sa gabi bago mag-Undas.

Special request ko na sa umaga kami dumalaw sa kampo-santo. Walang masyadong tao, walang masyadong magtatanong kung kelan ako mag-aasawa (hehehe). At mataas ang araw sa umaga. Mahirap nang isugal kung sa hapon pa dadalaw dahil baka umulan. Urban myth sa bayan namin na parating umuulan tuwing November 1. Kung hindi ulan ay super typhoon.

Walang pinagbago ang town cemetery. Ganun pa rin. Ang ilang daanan ay hindi pa rin sementado. Maputik ang ilang bahagi. May stall na ngayon ang Mister Donuts sa bukana. Maliban dito ay wala nang bago sa magkakadikit na tindahan ng kandila, kakanin at e-load. May ilan akong kakilalang nakasalubong pero walang masyadong huntahan. Mas abala pa ako sa paglalakad kasama ng nanay ko. Sumabog sa ere ang mga kantang luma (“Andrew Ford Medina” ni Andrew E) at bago (isang sikat na kanta ni Akon).

Walang masyadong kwento. Sa gabi ay hindi na ako lumabas. Masaya pa naman sa sementeryo namin kapag gabi. Parang night swimming sa White Beach sa Puerto Galera sa kalagitnaan ng tag-araw. Andaming tao. Maingay. Parang town fiesta. Tinapos ko na lang ang libro at nagpakaermitanyo.

Nakabalik ako sa Makati n’ung sumunod na Sabado, November 3. Ipinako ko agad ang lamesang ginawa ng tatay ko para sa ilang abubot. Bandang alas-2 ng hapon, nasa Greenbelt 3 na ako para sa pelikulang “30 Days of Night”. 5pm, Fully Booked sa High Street naman para sa book signing ni Ben Templesmith, ang graphic novelist ng “30 Days of Night”. Masaya. May ilang pumunta pero hindi parang town fiesta.

Highlight ng book signing ang isang sketch jamming kasama si Ben at ilang kartonista. Nakakaaliw ang paggamit n’ya ng black marker sa isang obra na binuhusan ng Starbucks coffee bilang background color. Umuusok pa ang kape habang nilalatag sa illustration board. Kasing init nito ang kanyang pirma sa kopya ko ng comic book.

Itinulog ko na ang mga nalalabing oras para sa araw na ‘yun.

P.S. Salamat pala kay Nerissa Picadizo para sa mga larawan.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Movie Digest # 026

Greenbelt 3, Cinema 1, October 25, 8:55pm

Not another political drama with an ensemble cast: Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Meryl Streep and Alan Arkin. Not in the league of “Traffic” or “Syriana” but “Rendition” is more engaging and popcorn crowd-friendly. Almost OK except for the ending that is very illogical. The film, by the way, is megged by the same director who gave us Oscars 2005’s Best Foreign Language Film, “Tsotsi” (South Africa).

Friends who might appreciate it: those who are brave enough to watch in any Ayala Mall cinema.

Power Plant, Cinema 4, October 26, 10:30pm

Oscar Best Picture, period.

Friends who might appreciate it: every film buff, friends and foes alike.

Greenbelt 3, Cinema 2, November 3, 2:00pm

Well, if its only intention is to scare, the film is a success. It’s both gory and scary. As compared to its original form, a grapic novel by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith (the latter just visited Manila), revisions are pretty obvious. The lead characters enjoyed the last sunset in the comic book while the film shows a marriage on the rocks. This is a plus point, I guess. The day counter in the film adds thrill though it requires an explanation why only on the last minute did the lead character choose to join the bandwagon. Also on the negative side (why do I sound like Nestor Torre, hahaha), the graphics in the novel is more “fresh”. The film didn’t capture much the remoteness that the comic book depicts.

Friends who might appreciate it: bloodsuckers!

Cine Europa 2007 Naman!

Diyeta muna (hehehe). Medyo tumapat din kasi sa long weekend at kailangang umuwi sa probinsya. Oh, well… Heto lang ang mga napanood ko:

1. Kolya (Czech Republic) – Isa yata ito sa mga sikat na entry sa filmfest. It’s both feel good and crowd-pleaser. Siguro kung napanood ko ‘to a few years ago, medyo bago pa ang concept. Pero andami nang nagawang pelikula tungkol sa isang lalakeng elderly na nag-alaga ng isang cute na cute na tsikiting. Sinahugan na lang ng konting relevance at tumalakay na rin sa kalagayan ng Czech at mga Ruso.

2. The Leap (Denmark) – May gustong ikwento ang pelikula. Tungkol ito sa “pagtalon” sa nakaraan upang bigyang solusyon ang kung anumang meron sa kasalukuyan. Isang may kaedarang lalake ang binigyan ng taning ng isang matandang doktor. Hindi makapaniwala ang lalake na malapit na s’yang mamatay dahil wala naman itong nararamdaman. At s’ya ay nagbalik tanaw. Isa sa mga ala-alang ito ay ang malikot na pagsibol kasabay ng isang kapit-bahay na babae. Nahuli sila minsan ng tatay ng babae at nagkaroon ng pagbabanta at pananakot. Sa kalaunan ay nadiskubre ng bidang lalake na ang doktor na nagbigay sa kanya ng taning at ang tatay ng kaibigan n’yang babae ay iisa.

3. FC Venus (Finland) – Very mainstream ang pelikulang ito. Hindi naman masama. Tungkol ito sa mga kababaihang nakipagpustahan sa kanilang mga nobyo o asawa para sa isang laban ng soccer o football. Ang hamon ay naganap dahil ang mga kalalakihan ay lasing na sa sports na ito at ang mga kababaihan ay namamalimos ng panahon at pagtingin. Comedy ang genre. Sex comedy to be exact.

4. Umbrellas of Cherbourg (France) – Hindi ko alam kung nagustuhan ko talaga ang pelikulang ito. Siguro for the experience, oo. Kakaiba ang musical na ito. Sung-through, walang main theme o sugarry theme song na pwedeng ihanay sa “West Side Story” at iba pa. Parang ang mga tauhan ay tila nag-uusap sa paraang may tono at malambing. Nakatulong naman kahit papaano na ang musika ay isinulat ng batikang si Michel Legrand (“Windmills of my Mind”, etc.). Mas experimental siguro ang pelikulang ito kesa mainstream. Subukang tanggalin ang musika at ang maiiwan ay isang manipis na kwento ng pagmamahalan, pag-asa at paglimot.

5. The Leopard (Italy) – Isa raw ito sa mga pelikulang kailangang mapanood bago ka mamatay. Ang unang impression ko: Peque Gallaga’s “Oro, Plata, Mata” less the brutality of war and nudity. Mahaba ang pelikula. Lumakbay ito ng tatlo at kalahating oras pero hindi ako nabato. Mala-Vic Silayan si Burt Lancaster dito (pasenya na at masyado akong pro-Pinoy ngayon). May ilang eksenang parang gusto mo nang tapusin (o i-pause, kung DVD ang format), masyadong talky para sa iba. Pero hindi ganito ang buong produkto. Sa umpisa ay marangya at mabilis ang mga pangyayari samantalang sa may dulo, bago matapos, ay bumagal na at naging payak. Meron yatang punto ang direktor dito. Ang huling imahe sa pelikula ay kamukha ng ilang eksena sa “Death in Venice” na mahusay ring idinirehe ni Luchino Visconti.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Highlights of my P1,500-worth Josh Groban Concert Experience

- P1,500 is cheap if you know that in high street, the ticket costs P3,000 (the cheapest from a price that summits at a whopping P20k!). I got the ticket from Zarah whose dad backed out on the last minute. She, by the way, got her tickets from a friend in Smart (clever!);

- The concert started at exactly 20 minutes past eight in the evening. PICC-ing was last done ages ago;

- I was wearing my office get-up (black tops with pinstripes, gray pants). My peeps observed that I was too formal (for code reviewing and internal designs?). I gladly confirmed that, yeah, I was too formal and, yes, I will be watching Josh Groban that night. I intended not to share the ticket price for them to keep on guessing that maybe I bought an expensive ticket but was too shy to admit (ha-ha!);

- Josh is as tall as the geeky-looking guy from his album covers. Manila cheered and screamed for him even before the opening song which I didn’t know the title;

- Most songs are from the latest album “Awake”. I realized that I was watching Josh Groban live when he sang “You’re Still You” and other hits;

- "The Prayer" was beautifully sung with our very own Lani Misalucha;

- Lucia Micarelli is one hot violinist. She stole my attention. Sexy dress, bare feet, a rocker attitude and a violin solo of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”. Now I’m jealous of Josh Groban;

- We were seated in the balcony’s Row A (which could be misleading since it’s at the front row located in the left most part of the hall). It’s a relief though when Josh played the piano from time to time and he had to face our side;

- T-shirts cost P800 to a grand, depending on the length of the sleeves. I got the black one with Josh Groban on it, sitting on a corner of what seems like a cheap motel bed with the word “Awake” on his feet. The list of the concert stops for this leg is printed on the back (Australia and Philippines only);

- His last song was Michael Jackson’s “She’s Out of my Life”;

- The show’s almost smooth except for a scene with a mom and her little daughter. In between staged encores, the mom in red dress put her hija on the stage’s edge and was joined by Josh out of politeness. The kiddo gave Josh a bunch of flowers but she was not smiling and was not overwhelmed at all by what was happening. It was obvious that the cute girl was forced to do this act as the mom captured the moment with a digital cam. The mom later on single-handedly took another photograph, this time only with her and Josh. This part of the show ended when a Caucasian security staff gently put the kiddo down (while the mom was perhaps checking if the photos that she took were OK);

- I spotted Julius Babao, Tintin Bersola, Joel Lamangan and Manny Valera. The other night, I read from PDI, had Rufa Mae Quinto, Erik Santos, Imelda Marcos and Cory Aquino;

- I particularly like the live version of “You Raise Me Up” though I was expecting some bagpipes and that too Irish intro (which always makes the Westlife version authentic);

- Four nights after, I am still dreaming of buying a Lucia Micarelli CD which I won’t be getting until next payday.

Isang Bukas na Liham mula sa Libingan ng mga Oso

Mahal ko,

Pasensya na kung nagte-text ko nang wala sa oras. Hindi ibig sabihin nito ay nami-miss kita at namamalimos ako ng pagtingin at panahon mo. Nagte-text ako at nagpaparamdam minsan dahil nalulungkot ako sa buhay at iba pang walang kinalaman sa ‘yo. Nagte-text ako dahil kailangan ko ng inspirasyon sa pamamagitan ng reply mong text. Kailangan ko ng salvation mula sa ‘yo.

Ikaw ang napili kong i-text dahil may kakaibang bigat ang mga text mo. Pinapalutang ako nito papalaot nang malayo sa mga problema. Sa pampang ay masisilayan ko ang kapanatagan. Ikaw lang ang may kakayahang lumikha n’yan. At bawiin. Meron din ang iba pero ang isang titik ng text mo ay katumbas ng ‘sanlibong titik ng text mula sa kanila. Iba ka dahil mahal kita.

Pero pinili mong hindi mag-reply. Karapatan (at karangyaan) mo namang hindi mag-reply. Baka wala ka sa mood o pinaparusahan mo lang ako dahil nag-aanyong kakulitan ang aking panaghoy. Pasensya na kung ginawa kong mawala ka sa mood. Pasensya na kung nagmukha akong makulit at hindi halatang nangangailangan ng pampang.

Namatay ako kamakailan lamang. Pero ‘wag mong sisihin ang sarili mo. Wala ka namang kasalanan dito. Hindi ko na nakuha pang pahabain ang pag-asa kong makakatanggap pa ng reply mula sa ‘yo. Hanggang d’un lang ang kinaya ng power nito. Ang puntod na ito ay walang halong paghuhusga. Ganun talaga ang buhay. At kamatayan. Lahat ay may sariling buhay at sariling kamatayan. Walang sinulid na nagdudugtong sa bawat isa kahit na lahat tayo ay nanabik na maiangkla sa ibang isla.

Ang liham na ito ay liham-pasasalamat. Salamat sa pagiging ikaw. Salamat sa buhay at kamatayan. Salamat sa iniambag mo sa kaakuhan ko. Ang kaluluwa ko, kung meron man kaming mga oso, ay patuloy na magbabantay sa ‘yo sa ayaw mo’t hindi. Salamat sa tapang na sa kabila ng kamatayan ay nakukuha ko pa ring magbantay sa ‘yo.

Paalam at text you later, alligator.

Oso Camacho

A Pretentious Take on Pelicula 2007

One of the things that I love being here in the metro is watching film festivals sponsored by some foreign cultural centers like Instituo Cervantes, Japan Foundation, Alliance Francaise and Goethe Institut for a minimal fare if not for free. I haven’t been to a weeklong German Film Fest here yet but I had my share of adventures with Eiga Sai (at one point, they were screening films at PCI/Equitable’s basement auditorium), French Film Fest (even before Ayala Center has THX cinemas, there was Louie’s THX Cinema in Milelong Building) and Spanish Film Fest (always conveniently screened here in Makati).

As for the latter, below are some peliculas that I have seen at Greenbelt 3 (film fest schedule was from October 1 to 14) for P65 each:

1. Los Ultimos de Filipinas/The Last from the Philippines – A good way for me to start the festival, a sumptuous appetizer for what was about to come. The film was done in 1945 and in B&W. There’s something good about this war film. It tackles the struggles of the last Spaniard troop in the country specifically in a town called Baler. That time, they were already mutinied by Filipino townsfolk and were trapped inside a chapel. This happened roughly six months after the implementation of a treaty that all the troops from Spain should be pulled out from the Philippines and the Spaniards were clueless and doubtful. “Los Ultimos de Filipinas” deals with paranoia, hypocrisy, lost love and patriotism.

2. Ciudad en Celo/City in Heat – Don’t be misled by its title. It isn’t an R18-rated film comparable to “Sex and Lucia” or “Y Tu Mama Tambien”. The film undertakes a couple of characters intertwined by a tragic death of a friend. For sure, you’ve seen at least French film of the same genre: non-climactic, talky and reflective. The film ends with an event that reunites the characters, sideswept by love, betrayal, moving on and enjoying life as it is.

3. Salvador – This one’s based on true events. Salvador is our version perhaps of Lean Alejandro, a student activitist who was gunned down during the Martial Law era. Salvador, on the other hand, was killed during the 70’s through a “garote” (their “silya elektrika”), the same machine that killed our Gomburza. The film documents his struggles partly with the underground movement, his fight for the rights and his face-off with death. Salvador became an icon, as he was the last person to be executed for a political crime (he accidentally shot a policeman during a bust for an underground movement).

4. El Proximo Oriente/The Near East – Very fast-paced and too mainstream, a pleaser for Filipino moviegoers who are not yet immersed to European cinema. The film tells a not-so-new story of two brothers and their beautiful Asian neighbor. The superior one, a family man, got the woman pregnant but the inferior one was the one who married her. The cultural and personality clashes are presented in a funny and lighthearted way.

5. El Aura/The Aura – If I remember it right, this film is not really a Spanish film but an Argentinian film in Spanish language. Among the lot, this film is surprisingly good for a heist/crime film. It tells a story of the protagonist who accidentally shot an old man in the forest while deer hunting and eventually took on the shoes left by the departed. What follows is a story similar to a Coen Brothers plot with less humor and speaking lines. This is a fete for the filmmaker as I, its audience, tried to decypher the lead character’s psyche. “Aura”, by the way, is medical term connected to epilepsy. It is described as “a distinctive feeling or some other warning sign when a seizure is coming” (

6. Secret Life of Words – This film won this year’s Audience Choice Award and the screening that I attended was just an encore. It tells a story of an Eastern European woman with impaired hearing who is forced to take a leave from work. The place is probably in England or Ireland. During vacation, she out of the blue volunteered to nurse a patient whose body was severely burned in an accident. The place was an oilrig in the middle of the sea. It was so remote that even the female lead character has to be transported through a helicopter. Given the location and an astonishing cinematography, I was instantly shipped to a port of melancholy (very effective indeed). The film is in English language and starring a big name fish Tim Robbins as one of the main characters (no wonder it got the audience’s nod). He played the patient who has his own ghosts to haunt. The two lead characters eventually tranced into a passage of healing and recovery. A risk that they took and had won over. In some awkward scenes, a narrator with a voice like a child reads somebody else’s thoughts (probably the woman’s). As the film ends, the voice bades farewell as she realizes that the woman has already a fulfilled life of her own.

SIDE TRIP: I didn’t win in the raffle where the prize is a three-in-one package of a night’s stay at Hotel Sofitel, dinner at Alba’s and a language course at Instituto. Better luck next year, amigo.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Movie Digest # 025

Glorietta 4, Cinema 2, September 25, 8:30pm

Campy! I am very biased when it comes to campy films and I got what I expected from this one. Of course, you have to leave your logic at home. Just bring in some style and a loud laugh. Swell fun.

Friends who might appreciate it: those who have watched some early Lito Lapid films.

Glorietta 4, Cinema 7, October 4, 8:00pm

Very book-ish but I love this film. It’s well made, actually, too well made that it might get some nods at the Oscars. It’s one of those films that tackle the intricate world of a female psyche. The screenplay is co-written by Michael Cunningham, the guy behind the highly successful and critically acclaimed “The Hours”. So expect something like a multi-layered characterization and storytelling.

Friends who might appreciate it: evening and morning persons alike.

Glorietta 4, Cinema 4, October 4, 10:30pm

If not for the film being predictable, “December Boys” is OK. For sure, I’ve seen something like that before. The finale scene, wherein two boys are about to drown and are later on apparitioned by an image of Virgin Mary, reminds me of a Jericho Rosales scene in “Tanging Yaman”. Feel good but predictable.

Friends who might appreciate it: Harry Potter (the movie) fans.

Greenbelt 3, Cinema 2, October 12, 4:15pm

It's very rare that a film adaptation surpasses the achievements realized from a book. "Stardust", I can say, is one of them. But I have nothing against the fantasy novel authored by THE Neil Gaiman (my signed paperback copy of "American Gods" is a cherished possession). It's just that the book isn't that eventfully cinematic. Let me confess: when I was reading the book, I was imagining scenes as big as the ones that I've seen from the film. It would be better if you read the book first then watch the film and not the other way around. "Stardust", the film, is very entertaining, a perfect popcorn film to cap the weekend.

Friends who might appreciate it: starstruck (not the show) mortals.

Glorietta 4, Cinema 6, October 13, 3:10pm

In a nutshell, I love this film. It's a nice and brave attempt for the filmmakers to try a Pinoy black comedy made specially for the mainstream market. You can still smell slapstick comedy but that's easily forgiven. Not perfect yet for its genre but it's almost there. I like the idea on how film documents friendship as it transcends time, life and death. The four lead characters definitely deliver but kudos should be given to its director, Wenn Deramas, who did an unpretentious take on dark humor. At Pinoy na Pinoy ang pagkakagawa. All the ingredients are there: melodrama, oppression, family issues and more.

Friends who might appreciate it: Kapamilyas with puso.

11th Hour
Glorietta 4, Cinema 5, October 13, 8:30pm

Another important documentary about the environment that is a must-see. Forget that it's narrated and produced by Leo Di Caprio but think of how we can help help ourselves. Kung meron mang drawback 'yung film, ito na siguro 'yung nag-uumapaw na kaalaman na nais ibahagi n'ung pelikula. It takes a broad and academic mind to absorb everything. Pang-Discovery Channel ang ilang treatment but it's worth watching just the same.

Friends who might appreciate it: those who have seen "An Inconvenient Truth".

Friday, September 28, 2007

Things 005: Manny Pacquiao Nike Shirt

Just in time for the Pacquiao - Barrera rematch on October 7 (which I will be watching live through a via satellite programming at Powerplant Cinemas), Nike Philippines launched a shirt with a print inspired by Manny Pacquiao's contribution as Pinoy sportsman. I've read an article from PDI explaining back-of-the-shirt's emblem but I'm too lazy to surf now. I scored the shirt (red and white colors only, intending to remind us with "sa pula, sa puti" thing?) for P895. It's a good buy though. I'll be wearing it during the fight. Go, go, tukayo! Let Barrera eat dust!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Weekend in One Paragraph

Evening of Friday was spent with office lunchmates watching Fall Out Boy concert at the Araneta Coliseum. The experience was far from falling out, no pun intended, except for the long queue courtesy of a thorough bag inspection. We only caught front act band Chicosci's last song and the most important yell of the segment, "Give your hands to Joel!". Hot calamansi juice and some sizzling pica-pica followed after at Grilla in Libis. 1am bedtime, 5:15am wake-up call. Saturday morning and most of the afternoon were bestowed building homes at Habitat for Humanity in Taguig. Tiring. But fulfilling. It was my first time to do something like that. Power nap came after and woke up at 6pm just in time for an event at Titus Brandsma along Rosario Drive. There was a jubilee celebration for the Carmelites. Poetry, food and music from Noel Cabangon. Hearing "Kanlungan" live for the first time was indeed a big deal. Late night was exhausted buying Robbie Williams' last two albums ("Rudebox" and "Intensive Care") at Greenbelt 3's Music One. I slept dreaming to get a copy of Rob's first two albums ("Life Thru a Lens" and "The Ego Has Landed"). Sunday morning started at noon mass followed by a Reposo walk to remember along with paintings on the wall. It was fun. Late lunch at Yellow Cab in the People Support building in Ayala corner Buendia. It was raining hard for 30 good minutes. 3pm, Avenue Q redux. The rest of the afternoon was coughed up buying a Bella Flores shirt for my landlady (a clever birthday gift) and Jessica Hagedorn's "Dogeaters" (soon to be staged by Atlantis Productions). Rested for roughly three hours. At 11pm, my roommate and I were at Blush Bar in Burgos trying to catch the Man U vs Chelsea game. It was comforting that we didn't catch the via satallite match because Chelsea lost, 2-0. There was a problem with the signal, informed by the girl in two-piece leading the pack of a dozen other GROs gyrating in an Akon song. Midnight and an SMB Light, a perfect concoction for a nice week ahead.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Flu Weekend and Beyond

This blog could be entitled "How to Bring a Roommate in your Hometown" but no, the flu and slight fever are too overwhelming not to pass for a subject.

All right. That weekend started with a morning breakfast at Goldilocks in the corner of Taft Avenue and Buendia. Hurriedly we were off to Lucena through Jac Liner.

At 11am-ish, we were already at SM Lucena. There was a mall-wide sale and it was a bit crowded. When we went to supermarket's baggage counter (the other counter's at the department store), we were asked by the staff where are we heading. It was odd but I understand what the guy was hitting at. We were carrying two big bags with retiring CDs and some clothes that are garage sale-ready. I lied by saying that we're getting something from the supermarket. The next 30 minutes were spent shopping for a pair of walkings shorts, some VCDs (Gaiman's "Mirrormask", Solito's "Tuli" and Topel Lee's debut film "Dilim") and a box of Red Ribbon goodies for my folks. What followed was a long waiting game with the FX that would bring us to Lopez. It was hot and energy zapping.

But I guess Saturday wasn't that bad because we met and got to know a BS Bio student from SLPC (in Lucban, Quezon) named Thessa. She's cute and smart and just fun to talk with. We came from the same highschool but the age gap is like "gaaaaaaaaaaaaaap". We ended the conversation upon entering the Quezon National Park. That's the time that I had to wear my tourist guide hat to my roommate. Zigzag is definitely the highlight of any road trip in Quezon when you're taking the National Highway.

The rest of the weekend was spent with hearty food, lambingan moment with my folks, testing my DVD player (too bad that it stopped creating stereo sound and had to be brought to a repair center), attending the mass in English (this one is new in our parish), taking pictures of my highschool and reaching the part of the campus called "hill" where a statue of Manuel Luis Quezon is kept.

Only on our way back to Manila that I started coughing heavily. No good. Along SLEX, there was a minor mishap with a drunk guy asking for his bus ticket (which he accidentally lost). He demanded the bus to stop and this irked the rest of the passengers. This was punctuated by an untimely military check-up. Maybe it was just me but it's annoying to see a bunch of men in uniform inspecting your bags as if you're hiding a deadly weapon or something. Experiences like that are deadly enough, thanks to Erap for being guilty on plunder.

Oh well, Joel (of Chicosci, of course). Monday came and it was the most painful working day I ever had in years (misery loves exaggeration, hehehe). I was coughing hard and my words were difficult to debug due to colds. My way back to the apartment was a struggle. Sometimes being high with alcohol and having fever are synonimous to each other.

Tuesday morning came. I was feeling OK but my mind was protesting. Right there and then, I decided to take my very first SL for the year. Rest, rest, rest. At past noon, I was A-OK. I was already sweating and I felt ready to get my ass back to work. My roommate who wished me well asked me if I wanted to visit the Books for Less branch in Salcedo where Gaiman's "Neverwhere" was waiting for us to be brought home. I said yes.

On our way back to the apartment, a Quiapo-bound bus passed by. Three hours later, Gaiman's "Neverwhere" was already joined by a bootleg DVD copy of "Sicko", "The Lives of Others", "Sweeney Todd", "Duck Soup" and "Deathproof" (plus Robbie Williams 9-in-1 concert DVD and "Goal 2" on my roommate's stash).

Wednesday, I was already back to work. Healing is indeed relative. SL, overrated.

Movie Digest # 024

Glorietta 1, Cinema 1, September 12, 8:30pm

I am not sure if I love this film. Very “Kubrador” when it comes to delivery. It could have been different if I haven’t seen that other film written by Jover. But then, this film is still well made. The script alone is worthy of a cinema ticket. It is just that it’s very “Kubrador”.

Friends who might appreciate it: those who adore the Cannes Film Festival.

Glorietta 4, Cinema 3, September 14, 11:10pm

One good film! I love films that reside in the borderline between being artsy or mainstream and “The Brave One” is definitely one of them. Acting is good. It is so good that I was reminded of our very own Nora Aunor. Don’t get me wrong. Jodie Foster is not Nora Aunor. The thing is, if ever ate Guy is tapped to interpret the role, her approach could be similar to the one done by Miss Foster. Script is simple and not as substantial as other moviegoers might be expecting but it has some kicks. I enjoyed this one.

Friends who might appreciate it: same peeps who want to “kill bill”.
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