Saturday, October 30, 2004

Love's Many Faces

I want to share with you these three love songs that describe different facets of love. These are some of my favorites which are included in Barbara Streisand’s album, “A Love Like Ours”, the one she made when she finally found someone that made her dance in the streets of Manhattan. If you want a private performance from moi, call me. (Naks!)


When I fall you’re my place to land
I lose my touch you’re my hand
The one I hold on to.
If you run out of reasons to try
I’ll love enough for both you and I
I’d be the one you can run to.

*I’d rather go to any pain life puts us through
Than to spend one day without you by my side.

**If you ever leave me, won’t you take me with you
If you’re ever lonely, I wanna be lonely too.
My hope’s inside you, no matter where you may go.
My love’s inside you even more than you know.

In a world of anger and lies, I find peace in your eyes
A flame in the darkness
Ooh and through all space and time
Till every star refuses to shine, you know where my heart is.

Repeat * and **

And I can’t remember life without you
the way it used to be
Feels like a million years away
My hope is till the angels singTell me every little thing
Promise me forever from this day.

Repeat **


It’s a funny thing, I look at you
I get a thrill I never knew
Isn’t it a pity we never met before.

Here we are at last, it’s like a dream
The two us a perfect team.
Isn’t it a pity we never met before.

Imagine all the years we wasted
Me with the neighbors, you at silly labors
What joys untasted, my nights were sour
Spent with schopenhauer.

Let’s forget the past let’s both agree
That I’m for you and you’re for me.
Isn’t it a pity?

Imagine all the lonely years we’ve wasted
Fishing for salmon losing at backgammon
What joys are untasted
Me at the Prado, you in Colorado.

Happiest of boys, I’m sure to be
If only you would say to me
Isn’t it a pity we’ve never met before.

What an awful pity, we never, ever met before…


I look at you and there it is
The ultimate in where it is
And realize how rare it is
Just finding your love.

You try so many arms when you are lonely
To find the one and only
One day you turn and he’s there.

Amazing how serene it is
The shade of evergreen it is
Exactly what we need it is
I know it would be

*When love like ours arrive
We guard it with our lives
Whatever goes astray
One rainy day comes around
A love like ours will keep us safe and sound.

Hmm… (Repeat *)

A Shrine of Wishful Thinking

I took a battery of psychological exams last Thursday at Ortigas. After a grueling 3 hours, I traversed the road most traveled and went on to my journey to Cubao. As I reached the other side where the EDSA shrine was where I was to wait for a ride, I saw this father and son tandem looking down on something at the foot of the shrine. A keen observer of mankind as I am (translation: Chismoso extraordinaire), I went over to see what they were gawking at. Like a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a huge slate said:

Millions of indignant vigilant
And black-clad Filipinos started
A vigil for moral renewal in public governance
On January 17, 2001
Singing together, praying together
Chanting protest slogans together and
Charting together a new course
For the history of peaceful political change
On this holy ground,
At high noon on the 20th of January 2001,
The eve of the feast of Sto. Nino
Was sworn in as the
14th President of the Republic of the Philippines
Under the shadow of Mary, Our Lady of EDSA
In the presence of millions of peace-loving Filipinos
All generations to come
Shall call this historical event as the
Whose love of God and Country
Made the historical event come about

Then the son asked his Father after reading, “Ano ibig sabihin nyan, pa?” The father answered, “Wag mo na intindihin yan. Nandun ako with my officemates. Wala rin namang kwenta.” He then gives his son a strong tug and pulls him away and walks towards Robinson’s.

Shocked. Not by the father’s apathy and lack of appreciation of whatever the message on the slate wished to invoke. But by the fact that I too, may be guilty of such apathy. Two people revolutions have passed and it was the first time I stepped foot on the shrine, let alone read the slate that so proudly heralds the triumphant Filipino spirit—for the second time. Don’t get me wrong. I rode the bandwagon of peace- and truth-loving Filipinos with the fashion statements like the black ribbons on the wrists and engaged in arguments about the “nays had it” with my colleagues and a group of bisexual men on EB at Starbucks Festival mall and the whole hype over the telenovela more popularly known as The Impeachment Trial. I even got as far as Magallanes on that day where, as the slate says, “Millions of indignant, vigilant and black-clad Filipinos started a vigil for moral renewal in public governance,” myself clad in black…and ready to chant and all that revolution jazz. But now I feel like I wanted to go there before because I wanted to be part of history and not being able to be there brought me that feeling of regret just like my inability to be part of the Lovapalooza. It got me thinking if the urge to participate was PURELY about the noble duty of “peace-loving Filipinos” to demand for a “moral renewal in public governance” or if it was about being fashionable and cool. Question already moot? I don’t think so. How many people today gripe like the apathetic father over the then-noble-but-now-nonsensical-and-useless event called the 2nd PEOPLE POWER REVOLUTION? Cruel and arrogant as it is to surmise that the “peace-loving Filipinos” who fervently wish for “moral renewal in public governance” have been so self-involved nowadays, efforts seem to end with organizing record-breaking crowds and fail to transcend the overwhelming brouhaha over the historic convergence of passion for change in order to translate it into proactive efforts to sustain the need to make changes. Coming from a person who was not even there, I feel like I need to apologize for the pessimism and undermining the efforts of the “millions of Filipinos” to whom the “hallowed spot is gratefully dedicated to.” But coming from the father who was there and telling his son how it is “walang kwenta”, and being witness to fellow Filipinos who pass by the “hallowed spot” as if it is just another pattern on the pavement, I ask you: Can you blame me?

I’m deliberately ending this for it to be a personal opinion stemming from an observation to prevent it from being preachy and for it to provoke more opinions.

Our Capacity to Love and Hate


I was referred to as an angel three times for the past two days by three people whose lives I touched. Human Being 1 said that my warmth and kindness washed away his pain. Human Being 2 said I gave her the courage to conquer her fears and insecurities by finally deciding to refuse to being treated like a doormat by her husband. Human Being 3 said that I inspired him to be a better person by going back to what makes him burn with passion: writing. This is my essence of being and Being—a warm, kind-hearted person whose mission is to touch people’s lives. Thank you, my Lord, for giving me more opportunities to give love…


When one has an overflowing capacity to love, one also has to recognize that s/he has a huge capacity to hate. And I could say that this is true for me. I firmly believe that I am a good person by universal standards. But my being an Aquarian ensures me of a place in hell. Yes, the dark side of Aquarians is the need to exact revenge over people who have wronged us. Basically due to the fact that we seldom find fault and for us to be disadvantaged, especially when we have done nothing wrong, that person is definitely a spawn of Satan. The anti-Christ.

Nevertheless, I am a forgiving person. As much as I have this capacity to hate, I have a greater capacity to love. But forgiveness is earned and not bestowed for the former connotes an acceptance of the concept of accountability. Without this, forgiveness will never be deserved.

My own version of the karmic theory: Good things happen to good people. Bad things happen to bad people. The worst things happen to people who do bad things to good people.

From Start to Penis

Men are sooooo misunderstood. Maybe its because of the sins of our forefathers have plagued the men of generations next to them. We are being accused of being sexist, chauvinistic swine who have nothing in their minds but to undermine the exceptional power of women and concocting ways to achieve sexual gratification. The world is so unfair in making such sweeping generalizations that men are so clueless. Special mention given to women’s groups who feel like they are still suffering from discrimination by existing in what the character, Vera Donovan from the movie Dolores Claiborne said, “We live in a depressingly masculine world.” Partly, I do not blame them because undeniably there are still occurrences of such but my sistahs, ease up with the overwhelming references to ALL men. And to my brothas who are solely driven by their penis, down boys! Special mention to the following:


God, I’m so disappointed with the makers of this show. When I first heard of that show, I said “Finally! A show that would serve as an avenue for people to appreciate the inner workings of the minds of men.” All throughout the pilot episode, I was drafting a complaint letter to Studio 23 for the crass jokes especially how RJ Ledesma acts like a salivating wild dog in Ivan Pavlov’s lab when presented with women clad in a skimpy swimsuit. Damn those people! They have the power to change minds and they screw it up. You bad puppies! Tsk!


“Penis Talks” was made with the ultimate aim of creating an answer to the much celebrated “The Vagina Monologues”. A friend who watched it told me that it didn’t live up to his expectation since it did not really capture the intention of putting men in a brighter light. He even said that the penises in the play talked about anal penetration. What the hell was that???

“COCKY CONVERSATIONS” – A Chance for Redemption

This is an idea that I have conceptualized two years ago that’s why I was initially frustrated when I heard about “Penis Talks” because I thought it took away the novelty of my idea. Good thing it sucked (sexual pun intended). So, you have to wait for this event which is going to happen soon: it is called COCKY CONVERSATIONS. It is going to be the largest focus group discussion participated in by men of all walks of life, converging with the ultimate objective of speaking their minds out about sex, frustrations about boyfriendhood and fatherhood, and the claustrophobic pressure placed on the shoulders of men. This is going to be historical and I want all of you to spread the word. As part of the initial phase, I am talking to small groups of men, compiling data on the way to the event. So, if you know of men who want to join “Cocky Conversations”, feel free to refer them to me. The event’s will be participated in by men from the business sector, entertainment industry, schools, and the community. It’s gonna rain men, from start to penis!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

I am Miguel Hernandez

October 18, 2004, Monday, 7:30 a.m., RCBC Tower, Carlos P. Romulo Theater-a date, a time, and a place that shall remain etched in my memory for the rest of my natural and next life.

I saw Recoged esta voz, the multilingual poetry anthology of Miguel Hernandez’s selected poems. I bought the book and had it signed by all those who performed (Initially, people gave me disdained looks which say “How middle-class of him!” but apparently, when I was having discussions with the readers including Jesucristo Riquelma, Juan Jose Galvan, and Joey Ayala and being included in their group picture, the “upper class” people started to have their books signed. Hah! Ayan, mga mapagkunwari kasi ang mga ugok. At least, I got to hobnob with the Spanish envoy and the performers, with matching picture pa. O, mga gago!) It was my first time to watch-wait, let me rephrase that. It was my first time to experience a poetry reading. And I was given more than what I expected: it was translated in English, Tagalog, Chabacano, Ilocano, Cebuano, Kapampangan, and Ilonggo. It does not stop there. Joey Ayala performed some of the poems as written by Hernandez where he laid a soulful arrangement capturing Hernandez’s unfathomable love for his wife, his child, and his country with absolute emotional astuteness. I cried three times during the show. Maybe because I was in an emotional turmoil that day…..

I came in the theater bothered by disappointment. As the performers read Hernandez’s poems of hope, fury, love, joy, sorrow, pessimism, and optimism, I felt like he was speaking to me-and it washed away all my pain. Miguel is my new friend, my hero, and my angel. The show took me to Miguel’s humble beginnings of internal assimilation, his existential journey towards transcending self-centered motives, his undying love for his external environment, and his return to what is truly important to and for him: his love for his wife, his love for his child, and his omnipotent love for love. His emotional battles with reconciling his being a soltero and his need to express love and eroticism moved me to an introspective state. And as Joey Ayala performed the last poem, I was pleased with myself. I have traveled the path Miguel has taken. I have come full circle with my own battles and triumphs and I return to what is important: myself and love.

He arrived with three wounds:

With three wounds he comes:

With three wounds, I am:

I came in the theater, burdened with disappointment. I came out of the theater with a strong and empowered spirit, and with a new sense of my worth and capacity to love.

I am Jerome Daclison. I am Miguel Hernandez.

“We will once again give a toast for all that is lost and will be found: chains, joy, and the hidden affection that leads us to search for ourselves in all the earth.” -- Miguel Hernandez

Sunday, October 24, 2004


  • Paella with perfectly cooked rice, and the combined flavor of mussels, squid, shrimp, clams, chicken chunks, green peas, and the aroma of garlic, onions, red bell peppers, and chorizo.
  • Crispy churros dipped in Spanish chocolate
  • Flamenco dancers-I meant, music. (Was disappointed with the dancers).
  • Exhibition of some of the best amateur artwork
  • Sexy Latin music
  • Wild dancing
  • Sweet, tangy Sangria
  • Night ending with fireworks accompanied by a moving musical score
That is Verbena. Need I say more? It was a perfect night.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Sociopathy [also] Comes in Small Packages

Children are like cherubs from heaven’s gates (cue angry buzzer). Not! On my way to the christening of Mabek’s son (she’s one of my best college friends), I encountered three children who were obviously spawns of the guardians of hell.

SUPERS: First Incident - Oct. 17, Sunday, 6:16 a.m.FADE IN

Child number 1, who we shall refer to as Damien (from the OMEN series), was boisterously singing a medley of Otso-otso, Pamela Wan, Bulaklak, and Spaghetti Pababa all throughout my agonizing journey from Pacita to Magallanes-and Damien knows the concept of a LOOP. Damn! All I wished at the moment was for Harry Potter to wave his magic wand and make Damien vanish.

SUPERS: Second Incident - 7:28 a.m.FADE IN

Damien 2 was a smart kid for his age. He was proudly reading out loud all signages and billboards that he could possibly see while rocking back and forth bumping on my left shoulder. I’m happy for his parents for producing a gifted child. However, I was mentally drafting a 4-page complaint letter to the makers of PROMIL all the way to Cubao station.

SUPERS: Third Incident - 9:24 a.m.FADE IN

Damien 3 appeared to be a kid who wins “Best in Good Manners and Right Conduct” consistently in day care. I smiled at the mom and even gave her praise for her cute and adorable son wearing a red cap, a denim jumper/overall, and a yellow-and-red striped shirt. As I paid my fare, the driver asked me, “Saan bababa?”. I answered “Sa bayan po ng San Mateo. Pakibaba na lang po ako sa may JOLLIBEE.” To my horror, the angelic child seemed to have been possessed by a demon and screamed out loud and tugged at his mom’s hair, shouting, “MAMA, PUNTA TAYO NG JOLLIBEE. JOLLIBEE, JOLLIBEE, JOLLIBEE (chants more “JOLLIBEES” than I could ever stomach).” Damien 3’s mom said, “NO!” Damien 3 threw a fit by screaming, hitting his mom, and trying to tear his clothes apart. Poor mom decided to shove a huge chunk of chocolate cake from Goldilocks which they had with them (Maybe as a birthday gift--so middle-class. But that’s another blog.). As I watched Damien 3 devouring the chocolate cake of the masses, I had a vision: he’s the Chuckie doll from the movie “CHILD’S PLAY”. Kaya pala ganun ang suot nya.

SUPERS: San Mateo Church - 10:31 a.m.FADE IN

When I got to Jollibee-San Mateo, I thanked the Lord for terminating my anguish brought about by a serving of three hell boys. As I walked towards the church, I asked myself, “Why do I seem to have lost patience over children?” Before I could come up with a profound, witty, and positive analysis, I stepped in the church-it was filled with running kids and screaming babies……

(Cue haunting score from “Psycho”, ZOOM IN to over-the-top terrified reaction, let’s out a blood-curdling scream)

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Deconstructing Desperation

The thing about being under the influence of alcohol is that we become uninhibited. In some situations, this can be a good or bad thing. But for some reason, last night’s date with alcohol was different. My friend and I have reached 80% of our maximum threshold and we were talking about relationships—him being in one and me with a lack thereof. Drunken conversation sort of bordered on intoxicated jokes and banter but when the word “desperate” came out to describe my voracious dating, it threw me off and even under the influence, I still managed (for a moment) to evaluate the validity of the usage of the Adjective….. after (semi-)consciously responding with an on-cue half-laugh of course. As I took my 20-minute long walk home, the alcohol starts to kick in but it gave me plenty of time to ponder on the question: “Am I desperate?” It brought back memories of some of my dates who gave me the “let’s be friends” line and later were candid enough to let the Adjective politely slip out. Somewhere in the middle of puking my guts out, being chased by that same psycho-dog Benjie, and almost being run over by a dilapidated tricycle, I saw a window of clarity that pushed me to organize my thoughts about the question at hand. (Yes, it is a talent which I constantly place under SPECIAL SKILLS in my resume: Ability to be scientific even under the influence of cognition-altering substances)

DESPERATE adj, 1. Reckless or violent because of despair 2. Undertaken as a last resort 3. Nearly hopeless; critical; grave; a desperate illness 3. Marked by, arising from, or showing despair; the desperate look of hunger 4. In an unbearable situation because of need or anxiety; desperate for recognition 5. Extreme because of fear, danger, or suffering; in desperate need.

Etymologically (such a big word for someone who’s “tipsy”—tipsy daw oh!), the usage of the word to describe me was not precise. I have never been reckless or violent of despair, never felt hopeless, never viewed my non-existent lovelife as critical or grave to the point of it being an unbearable situation. Why does wanting something badly enough be viewed as an act of desperation? I call it being motivated and aggressive with a dash of stubbornness because when I want something, I make sure I give a thousand percent to achieve it before I raise the white flag. That way, I don’t go down that “what-might-have-been” road sulking and singing “Saan Ako Nagkamali”. However, by standards of a handful of judgmental and high-riding bastards and bitches, my voracious dating gives the impression of being desperate because I come across as, and I quote them ex-dates/now-"friends", “needy, clinging, obsessive, disarming, and stalker-like.” Well, I say that it’s about looking at an investment if it has potentials or none at all. Imagine yourself putting in your money in a boutique to open at Rockwell plant which will sell authentic clothes circa 1984—padded shirts and jackets in primary and secondary colors and acid-washed baston jeans. (cue gasps of disgust from audience) My point exactly. But if I will be required to put up a large sum of money that would give me a return of investment in a reasonable period of time plus profits, the next thing I look for is my potential investment partner. Is s/he willing to invest too? What can s/he offer and bring to the table? (cue camera 2, pan shot on obligatory, sincere, and insincere nodding of audience) My point exactly.

Never desperate, just motivated…..

Okay it’s now time to sing. And a-one, and a-two, and a-three: “You say poteyto, I say po-ta-to. You say tomeyto, I say to-ma-to. Poteyto, po-ta-to, tomeyto, to-ma-to. Let’s call the whole thing off…..”

Friday, October 15, 2004

Blame It On Charles Darwin

I read this article posted on Friendster about Globe’s promotion of the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy show. The writer basically said that it was gay-bashing and gender insensitive. Then there’s this article about a group of Christians enraged on the impending relocation of Moslems in their area. And if I’m going to mention issues concerning “isms” that aim to exclude, will have to kick me out for overloading their system. People who give their views about equality and condoning these acts of “isms” should be commended—or should they be, myself included?

As an advocate of justice for all, I am really fascinated with people who propagated the idea of “excluding” people because of race, religion, and personal preferences. The Ku Klux Klan, Adolf Hitler, Al Qaeda, Jews, African-Americans and Christians have experienced first hand exclusivity, as implementers or as recipients of such. But these are tragic pieces of history where we can say that a milieu hungry for and in the process of change fuels the need for and resistance to change. But let us fast-forward to current times. People say that the human race has come a long way from its barbaric, medieval, pre-industrialization, conservative views and undertakings. Have we come a long way? The sins of our fathers have seeped through an insatiable generation who constantly pushes the envelope as far as it could. History plus current times equals chaos. People shout justice and equality but we are all guilty of exclusivity and segregationist acts. I feel that it is our need for categorization and labels—an offshoot of the “convenience” modern technology offers to us. Categorization facilitates ease. But in the end, there are too many categories that are one and the same. Example: in filing, accounting files are categorized in sub-files labeled vouchers, invoices, receipts, etc. It is easier, yes. When translated in the context of sociological concepts, it is somehow aligned because it is “easier” but to the detriment of equality. Come to think of it, the influx of “movements” advocating equality are promoting exclusivity. Women having a special caboose at the LRT station (with a sign “PARA SA MGA BABAENG PASAHERO LAMANG” which reminded me of the “COLORED” signs in African-American history), gays and lesbians having their “own” sub-culture, homosexuality having a sub-classification of its own (i.e. COMMONLY SEEN TAGLINES IN GAY DATING WEBSITES/GROUPS: gay and bi men welcome but no effems. Hunky, straight-looking gay and bi males, no effems and chubs allowed), religions factions demanding for their own rights but refuse to recognize other denominations’ rights, rich-poor division, African-Americans feeling discriminated because of the absence of a black person in a corporation, Halle Berry being accused of a racist when she thanked all the black actresses who were nominated in the Oscars but never won because they were “black”. These are a result of categorizations. I wish we could just have one “file” that says PEOPLE and just remove sub-files like MEN, WOMEN, GAY, STRAIGHT, MOSLEMS, CHRISTIANS. The question is: can it be done? I guess equality will remain elusive for it is an absolute concept. The mere fact that the core of our existence as human beings is that we are unique from each other—man as his own microcosm—equality is no longer elusive but unobtainable with this premise. My suggestion is we need to learn to live in a state of co-existence and co-habitation in the midst of an undeniable and infallible diversity. To find that middle ground where we can all stand as people who are different from each other but recognize the fact that we are human beings who breathe the same air and live in the same world—too much to ask but a more realistic and doable challenge.

In the meantime, just for kicks, let’s blame Charles Darwin for this brouhaha over injustice and discrimination for coming up with theory of classification and natural selection. Modern day (pseudo-) intellectuals picked up where he left off and all hell broke lose.

SPANISH BREAD - A Serving of 5 Spanish Films

EL JUEGO DELA SILLA (Musical Chairs)

The film is about Victor who returns to his hometown for a day to visit his family as a break from his work in America. He is treated with a homecoming celebration from his family with food, traditional trips down memory lane, and quirky family rituals. Ana Katz, the director, successfully moved the audience to tears and laughter with her presentation of this funny and dysfunctional family. The film delivers some of the finest, subdued performances from the actors, especially the matriarch who I can only lovingly refer to as a domestic diva. With Katz's clever use of exposition (particularly the use of the musical chairs), the characters grow into us and we fall in love with them, hate them, and fall in love with them all over again and we get to understand why Victor, at the end of the movie, comes to realize that the family that he fled from years ago is the same family that makes him want to return to.

LA PRIMERA NOCHE (The First Night)

The film is about Paulina and Tonio who escapes their war-torn village in one of the remote provinces of Colombia. They decide to go to Bogota to re-build their lives shattered by a civil war. The structure of the film is very interesting. The story was told in a fashion of a beginning-of-a-beginning-of-a-beginning—Luis Restrepo opened the film with the beginning of re-building their life, interspersed with the beginnings of Paulina and Tonio’s relationship, and although the film ended, it is marked with a more tragic beginning of shattered hopes. Restrepo’s focus on Paulina and Tonio’s first night in Bogota was a venue to explore the characters’ inner conflicts and motives which we understand more and compels us to empathize with them with the accurate use of intercuts of each of the character’s pasts, essential in defining the characters' need to start their life anew. The performances of the two leads deserve the highest recognition possible. They were able to show the contrast of inner strength and weak facades (and vice-versa) through impeccable reaction shots choreographed by Restrepo. With all the elements of good film-making in place, by the end of the film, as an audience, it makes us question (and pray) if there still exists that seemingly elusive flicker of light at the end of the tunnel for Tonio and Paulina.


I was able to watch the Spanish film “Smoking Room” primarily because I am a heavy smoker and the idea of gathering signatures requesting for a smoking room in the office in the fight for one’s right to smoke was very fascinating and wanted me to write petition letters to lawmakers. I came in with the interest of how the story will unfold. To my surprise, the movie was more than about the smoking room. It explored how corporations are devoid of compassion to their employees, oblivious of the fact that they are still human beings. The film was a reminder of David Mamet’s, “Glengary, GlenRoss”. It tackles the reality that employees are not just one of the many machine parts which comprises this larger machinery called the corporation. They are people who have personal problems and that no matter how companies slave-drive these people to perform their functions as employees, personal problems will always catch up and eventually affect their performance. Wallowits and Gual decided to give each character their own spotlight time with monologues to express their difficulties and miseries as people and how they cope with these problems, tightly shot with hand-held extreme close ups. They succeeded in exhibiting the workplace as a microcosm and that the need for a smoking room was a representation of the working class’s attempt to maintain the reality that they are human beings and not merely cogs that need to turn to push the corporate machinery forward in achieving its goals. However, the danger of ensemble films is the potential crashing of audience interest since there are many characters that they have to follow and if the writing does not provide a common ground that links the characters even they are embarking on totally different journeys, the pace of the film is doomed. In the case of this film, the smoking room seemed to have been underutilized as the main plot point, making the film fragmented and the audience is left watching five different characters with five different stories and struggles.

LA CAJA 507 (Box 507)

The film is about Modesto, an ordinary bank manager, who’s life was changed in the opening of the movie by the accidental death of his daughter in a forest fire and years later was given another twist when his bank was robbed and he wakes up locked in the vault. While trapped in the vault, he discovers a document contained in Box 507 that brought questions about his daughter’s death seven years ago.

Enrique Urbizu exhibits tight direction of a film that chose to follow a very risky structure that could pull the audience’s interest in two separate ways which will bear catastrophic effects when ineffectively executed. The lives of the characters cross paths at the beginning of the film, went their own ways to achieve their own goals connected to the circumstances surrounding the death of the girl, and once again meet in the end which makes the ending explode with sweet revenge. Urbizu’s balance of implied and explicit violence was masterfully executed making scenes more visceral and provide the audience an opportunity to wince in pain. The actors should be commended for delivering very controlled yet powerful performances in the film. Antonio Resines makes the audience want to organize themselves and give him a helping hand with his endearing, dick-swinging approach as he moves to higher places in unearthing the truth about his daughter’s death and demanding justice. Overall, the film is something that you will either love or hate because of its non-traditional story-telling approach.


The film created the mystery it needed to generate ala “The Usual Suspects” where we are waiting for the answer to the question: “Who is Kaiser Sose?” In “En La Ciudad..”, however, it is the mystery of “Rancel” that the main character is drawn to unravel. Set against the backdrop of a family facing the death of their ailing father, the premise (not to mention the handsome lead) was able to elicit interest from the audience to tag along for his search for the truth about his ailing father’s rantings of conspiracy and “Rancel”. However, Antonio Hernandez’s choice of style in directing the movie distracts us from the story line. He overdid camera work with trying to be stylish with his unnecessary zoom ins and MTV-like shots instead of helping specific scenes convey a sense of eeriness, melancholy, frustration, and/or tension. As for the story, I felt that the story picked up in the last third of the movie which delivers a semi-sweet ending. Another problem of the film lies in the looseness of the script and underdeveloped characters subsequently creating a ripple effect reaching the performances of the actors--with the exception of Ana Hernandez who need not deliver the lines to gallavant the strength and cold-heartedness of the matriarch character.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Three Films, Three Reviews

WATERBOYS (Japanese)

The film is about a group of 5 boys from Tadano High School who initially joined the swimming team—along with other boys—because of their beautiful new coach. When the coach pitched the idea of putting together a synchronized swimming team, only the 5 boys were left with the interest to join the team. The eager coach entered them in the festival but took a leave of absence when she found out that she was eight months pregnant. This left the 5 boys, led by Suzuki, in panic and confusion. Thus began their struggle to come up with a routine.

The novelty of the premise of the film was enough to draw appeal and expectations of heightened levels of fun. However, as the film moved along, it dragged and relied heavily on comedy resulting from funny-slapstick scenes instead of funny-sweet moments. The problem originated from poor characterization and absence of a central theme which resulted to unclear and weak motives of the characters and mediocre performance from the actors. The 5 boys went through the movie with the aim of performing in the festival and chose to solicit from stores and drag queens for financing and seek the help of a dolphin instructor for synchronized swimming moves to attain this goal. But the most important thing that was unclear in the film was “why” do the characters want to perform in the festival. This lack of strong motives from the characters affected the pace of the story and ultimately failed to generate empathy from and sustain the interest of the audience. Shinobu Yaguchi, writer-director, could have played on gender issues anchored to the struggles of adolescence considering that synchronized swimming is a sport participated in by women and the milieu is an all-boys school. The opening sequence would have effectively set the stage for this should plot development went in that direction.

Overall, if the intention of the director is just to entertain and elicit laughter, it succeeded with Yaguchi’s anime-inspired intercut tight shots in slow motion of the boys’ initial trials to execute certain moves, the presence of the gay character who we initially thought as infatuated with Suzuki but later we find out that his feelings were for Sato (who’s the best character in the movie), them being featured on the news, the scientific approach of the nerdy character in perfecting the execution of formations, and of course the highlight of the movie—the performance in the festival (special mention to the extreme long shot of the big circle-to-five small circles transition). But if Yaguchi intended for the film to be inspirational and make the audience route for the characters, the film is a failure in this aspect since it undermined the potential impact of the ending, making the film simply “just about the boys’ performance in the festival” and not about how the characters achieved personal change because of it.

HUSH (Japanese)

The film is about Katsuhiro, a closet homosexual who incidentally crosses paths with Naoya, an openly gay man, both of whom develop a relationship and ended up living together. When Asako, a woman with a history of promiscuity and abortions, enters their lives and proposes for Katsuhiro to give her a child, Katsuhiro and Naoya’s relationship is tested to the core.

Ryosuke Hashiguchi did an excellent job in mounting this well-written story with good characterization and plot development which produced fine performances from the actors. The film was about needs and wants. Hashiguchi fleshed this out with gritty dialogue and gradual exposition. The dynamics of how the main and secondary characters explore each of their own set of true and perceived needs and wants pushes the story forward, revealing internal conflicts along the way, hindering each other from achieving what they want, but ultimately helping them discover for themselves what they really need. With regard to scene presentation, Hashiguchi should be commended on the treatment of Katsuhiro and Naoya’s relationship. It gave the audience a front seat to what happens behind closed doors in a same-sex relationship—that it is not all about sex; that just like any other relationship, there are arguments, the potentials of sleeping outside the kulambo, swooning over your loved one, wooing them to forgive you, and the profound silences. The film delivers the most memorable scenes where credit is given to the efficient use of the element of exposition: the cuddling scene of Katsuhiro and Naoya after their argument was very endearing, the scene where Naoya introduced Asako to his gay friend and Asako was the only woman in the gay bar, the goodbye scene of Asako where she delivered a controlled, heart-wrenching monologue, the long, purposeful sequence of Katsuhiro seeking spiritual guidance, and the stationary full shot of the confrontation scene. The movie sometimes goes melodramatic with some “soap opera” scenes but it becomes an integral part of the story that we as an audience let it slide, especially the ending where I felt was too much like the film, “Junior” to me and we are not sure if Katsuhiro has attained peace of mind by the end of the movie. But given the organic growth of the story, we laugh with the characters in the end for we know that they are going to be all right. Even when the movie ended, the characters and their struggles and semi-triumphs still resonate in our minds and compel us to look into ourselves, our own set of needs and wants, and what we have done to achieve it.

FENG SHUI (Philippines)

I understand why the film was appealing with the presence of universal elements like the middle class housewife trying to build a family in a newly-bought house in a partially developed subdivision. The premise of the movie was scary enough since it talks about a very familiar Chinese artifact, the bagua, which a number of homes now have and it plays on the Filipinos fascination and belief in superstition. The movie opened with what seems to be a shot from inside the bagua looking out into the world which was very effective in establishing an eeriness that the movie aimed to generate. Cut to the bus scene, where the man leaves a bagua, which the main character takes home with her. This reinforced the opening by creating mystery. Then it all went downhill from there. The film failed in building a manic crescendo because the script lacked the escalation it needed There was poor characterization and the film relied heavily on “spelling things out” instead of characters revealing a part of themselves and the story through their actions and reactions to circumstances. The mystery and eeriness which Chito Rono created in the opening sequence disintegrated because of the characters’ overwhelming knowledge of Chinese literature where the audience is always given a lecture (I always felt that anytime in the movie a powerpoint slide will pop up to give the audience bulleted information). Also, the fact that everything is spelled out instead of gradually revealed, the audience resulted to waiting for the bulaga moments. The weakness of the script was the under-utilization of the main character to be the focal point of the story where the audience can empathize and be with her for the ride. The writer seemed to have forgotten about the unraveling of the mystery of the bagua which could have encouraged the audience to take interest in the main character’s dilemma. Instead, it focused on creating scenes that would “wittily” correlate the order of death to the year you are born in relation to the Chinese calendar. Hence, the original owner of the bagua died from being run over by a Phil. Rabbit bus because he is born on the Year of the Rabbit. How did I know that? The main character, and even the Ilonah Jean character, is very proficient and knowledgeable enough to throw us information just like pulling a rabbit (pun intended) out of the hat. If Rono’s intention was to disturb the audience with the Chinese calendar references, then he miserably failed because the audience were either laughing or are shouting in disgust because they are insulted, particularly on the Lotlot character’s death scene. But Rono should be given recognition for the technical aspects of the film, specifically the usage of extremely tight close ups and the bird’s eye view shot. Although, there are some scenes which could have been shot five seconds longer to put the audience on the edge of their seat.

I think one of the failures of the movie was Rono’s intention to break away from the conventional dark horror movie, hence the use of bright colors in the house and shooting in extremely bright light. The attempt to be different by juxtaposing color and evil was brave but it failed because it is impossible to execute due to the weak script and extremely bad performances from the actors (except for Joonee Gamboa and Nonie Buencamino who make memorable short appearances in the film). Ultimately, the movie failed because it was reduced to being an ordinary haunted house film and got sidetracked from the original, more fear-inducing, and interest-grabbing premise of solving of the mystery of the bagua. As for whether the ending was good or not, it depends on who watched the film. For me, it did not make me shriek in horror since it has been done before and it did not matter anymore since the logical flow of the script has been so distorted at this point, rendering the ending more of “for shock value only” and less of relevance. (Oh…and as a final note, the product placement of the Chunkee Corned Beef was done in bad taste)

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Baygon can be an unhappy single person's best friend....

I rummaged through my “Dear God” journal and I found this particular entry which made me feel proud of myself with the new job, hopes of a brighter and more stable career, a more active social life, and being back on the saddle again.


April 11, 2004
1:55 a.m.

Dear God,

Hi! For a long time, I haven’t had anyone to talk to about what I’m feeling these past few days. I mean REALLY talk about it. I’m afraid I’m depressed. No judgments! You’re the only one I can talk to without fear of being judged. Yup! I’m officially sinking into a Bridget Jones state. I would like to be honest now. It’s very hard to be 30, single, living with my mom, and a guy who has an almost-36” waistline. There. I said it. My idea of going out and having fun is having friends over with our usual love affair with alcohol (more of one-night stands) due to financial constraints and the fact that I can’t bear the guilt for spending money on gimmicks. My most intimate moments are with the TV. Cable has become my friend and foe. She makes me cry, feel better, and reflect. Wow! I must be really hitting rock bottom if I keep on with my relationship with her (I’ll kill myself if I reach the point that I would fuck my TV. Oh wait…I think I already have the been-there-done-that T-shirt after watching “Nagi-init” on Cinema One. *tearfully looks at the unopened Baygon bottle on the shelf*) Wait…what’s that I hear? Oh, it’s the loser alarm. Tsk! I can’t go out coz I’m burdened with guilt of leaving mother alone. It’s almost a given in my fuckin’ equation that I have to stay home since I don’t have a social life. Well, at least I have an e-social life. Friendster, MySpace, and FilipinoFriendFinder are there for potential friends and dates. But I can’t even snag a date. Seeing Jane date in the Hallmark movie “See Jane Date” made me want to strangle Jane. I hate Jane. She’s going out on dates. I can’t seem to ask someone out because I’m fat. Oh, dear! I’m losing my confidence and self-esteem. My job’s great but I feel I’m running into a dead end. My boss is a true scorpion in every sense of the word. I know she’s not gonna do anything to help my career. I hate this paranoia and low self-esteem. I’m a shrink for crying out loud! But I know you’re giving me signs. What to do???


Okay. Done playing the self-deprecating old person role. Time to re-focus. (It feels weird motivating myself.) I’ve put myself down pretty hard. In honor of Jesus’ resurrection, I acknowledge the fact that I have to regain my self-confidence. All the problems I’ve mentioned are a result of the Thirty-ish Angst. You’ve always taught me that with your grace, coupled with my ability to turn my life around, I’m gonna conquer these problems. You know I want to constantly better myself—so let’s get down with the “get down”:

PROBLEM 1: Low confidence brought about by 36-inch waistline

GOAL/ S:DIET! I did it before, I can do it again. WORK OUT!

PROBLEM 2: Social life (lack thereof)

GOAL/S: Talk to mom and Gilda about time out for myself. Look at budget.

PROBLEM 3: Career dead end

GOAL/S: Communicate with the boss. Scout for other positions. Explore [again] plans to put up own NGO. Ask for study and fellowship grants.

PROBLEM 4: No love life

GOAL/S: Beef up socializing. Don’t end up being alone! It’s either get married or swing the other way and be gay. (hehehe)

Well, well. I have my work cut out for me. But I want to reclaim myself. I lost it somewhere along the way and with your help, lead me to my own resurrection. I love you, my Lord.




FUNNY how things worked out for me. The journey continues……

Movie in My Mind

I love movies—the usage of “love” is an understatement, mind you. I mean if movies were people, I would’ve fucked them. (There you go! My first blog and it’s Larry Flynt-slash-ChiChi La Rue by the end of the second sentence with the profanity.) Movies, like books, just provide me with the proverbial “escape” which is a good thing. It’s voyeuristic to a certain extent because you get to peep in the lives of characters “created” by writers—note the quotes because I’m sure these writers surely lurk in the bushes with their laptops, eavesdropping like vultures on people’s conversations and typing every word these poor people say…VERBATIM. (Oh, wait. That’s me…*guiltily bites finger*) Attending the Eiga Sai 2004 opened my doors to Asian films. Last Saturday, I was a film fest virgin. On Sunday, I was officially a film fest slut who wants more…

Last Sunday, however, I had to leave TWILIGHT SAMURAI due to the inconsiderate “requests” of my boss. After accomplishing her Hitler-esque demands, I decided to buy coffee at Figaro and sit outside by the umbrellas and smoke while waiting for the next movie, HUSH. Very Paris—sitting at a café, cigarette at hand, savoring life, and watching a different kind of “movie”. Kids playing luksong tinik and having a great time. Teenagers struggling to be badminton players using 60-peso rackets and a plastic shuttlecock. Four men playing park volleyball who seem to have forgotten that they were in a park and not the beach when one of the guys executed a killer spike and hit the wannabee, pseudo-Paris Hilton girl seated with her equally clueless friends at the table next to mine. It was like a Jess Abrera “Pinoy Nga” cartoon in motion. What caught my attention though was a man and a woman cuddling under a tree on a makeshift picnic blanket made from rice sacks sewn together. I decided to switch to writer mode, lit another cigarette, and like Carrie Bradshaw—sans laptop, sans sexy curls, sans female reproductive system—I let the silent movie play before me. From where I’m sitting, they seem to be celebrating 8 years of their marriage. Why not think, “Damn, they’re celebrating 8 years of cheating on their spouses”? I’m a Charlotte York—(takes on a bitchy-sistah-from-Brooklyn stance) so sue me. From how they nuzzle each other’s noses and how their eyes light up with each exchange of what seem to be sweet nothings, this silent movie is definitely one of romantic proportions. (cue instrumental score: From Funny Girl, “People”. This is gonna tip the Gay-dar waaaaaaayyyy far. Hahaha!) The way the man’s forefinger traces the contours of his wife’s nose. How the woman playfully tries to bite her husband’s forefinger like a willing prey who wants to take the bait. The way they seem to not let each other finish each other’s sentences by giving the other a kiss and end the endearing repartee of verbal and unspoken affection with a tight hug. All I can do is marvel at the majesty of love in action—and for some reason, I was happy for two people whom I don’t even know. Although, I have to say that there is this undeniable pang of jealousy and envy of what they have. Eventhough I didn't notice that I almost got burned by my now almost extinguished nicotine source, I know that this silent movie will play in my mind for as long as it could, bringing me hope that someday, I too would have my own silent movie that would make people hope for a happy ending of their own. (cue sound effect: record scratch) Oh, crap! All I know is that, my movie is still in the making. And in the context of the silent movie that I just watched, I definitely need to cast my love interest REAL QUICK…production cost is blowing waaaaayyy out of proportion. What can I say? This is what I get for wanting a fuckin’ romantic movie. I should’ve taken the advice of my friend and just settled for a hot, sweaty porn flick—low production cost and maximum satisfaction. (Just borrow a digicam, meet up with someone, fuck each other’s brains out while holding the camera, boom! Movie.)

Now, given the emotional and financial economics of making your own romantic movie, it made me think: Should we still aim for something like “An Affair to Remember” or just settle with its counterpart, Ron Jeremy’s or Sean Cody’s Production (depending on which way you swing) of “A Fuck To Remember”?