Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cartoon mutts

Animation is going to the dogs. Literally, at least. If you want your animation serious, here's Waltz with Bashir. Comic, Bolt. Enjoy.

Not animated, but if you can be TK's best friend, I'd be willing to be the Grim Reaper's dog.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

real stories

subsisting on peanuts and piaya
is a happy man's idea
of a diet

i have a ball of clay
and no idea
what to do with it
so tell me
what would you make?

a dream about a friend
a murder
and wiretapping

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Película 7th Spanish Film Festival

Since 2002, the Instituto Cervantes in Manila has been organizing PELIKULA, the annual Spanish and Latin American Film Festival. The Seventh Edition will be celebrated from October 1 to 12, 2008, in the cinemas of the Greenbelt theatre complex in Makati City, one of the most popular and prominent screening venues in the Philippines. The Festival, which has screened 21 films the last year, has become the most important and most celebrated Spanish-language film festival in Southeast Asia.

I'm told tickets cost P65.

Calendario de proyecciones de las películas del Festival

Friday, September 26, 2008

Arts and crafts

If it bothers you that this blog is becoming a creative calendar of sorts, fear not. I do not aim to be dotcom, but there must be someone out there who could use the info.

bayANInanding: the motherland and harvest of Maestro Amorsolo opens tonight at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, BSP Complex. The exhibit runs until January 13, 2009 (closed Sundays and holidays).

PABLO Artists Fair and Forum, September 27 at Cubao Expo, Araneta Center

Forum starts at 1pm (pre-registration required)
Guest speakers: Pilipinas Street Plan, WeeWillDoodle, Team Manila, Caliph8 & Manuel Ocampo

Artists Fair from 6pm to 12mn
Music by DJ Arbiewon, Diego<>, Eggboy & Caliph8

23rd Negros Trade Fair, September 30 to October 5, 2008 at Rockwell Tent, Makati. Schedule here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Game Tiu

There must be something wrong with me. It's been four years since I left Ateneo and I still have never watched a UAAP men's senior basketball game live (or any UAAP game for that matter). And it was only today on his final game that I completely appreciated Chris Tiu. Why was I never a fangirl? I could not live with his perfection.

Sixteen points today. We owe you, number 17.

To be completely objective, the game was skewed to the Ateneo side. Maierhofer could not have saved La Salle, but the Green Archers won't take this lightly.


Looking at Ateneo's phenomenal performance in Season 71, would any Blue Eagle not fly proud?

For your mp3 collection, part 19

Azoora:"Restless"-will make you so

Brad Sucks:"You're Not Going Anywhere"
-mean man

The Foxholes:"No piensas más (3fasic remix)"-addictive beats

HardStroke:"Intro"-not what you expect

Le Loup:"We are gods! We are wolves!"-hypnotic claps

Le Mépris:"hikkikomori"-sadness I love

Les Haricots Libres:"Ça Tombera Pas Plus Bas"-most amusing vegetable

Little Jackie:"The World Should Revolve Around Me"-fun diva

The LK:"Stop Being Perfect"-pop ambivalence

Reno Project:"Urban"

Trundicho:"The Night Before"-plectrum playa

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Trip log

There are two work trips that I'm itching to blog about, but it's best to wait until after publication. Blogging is not good practice for self-control.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I was glad...

To see him back on his feet (and painting) just weeks after surgery. It boggles the mind how one can recover so quickly at 75.

Monday, September 22, 2008

What do you do?

After I was introduced as a writer, I was asked: "Why did you become a writer? Maganda ka naman." I was dumbfounded. Do I have to conform to type? Are all female teachers old maids? Are all radio jocks unattractive? See why I don't like labels? I would rather surprise people I've just met as well as people who've known me a long time. The best compliment I ever received came from a high school teacher who had no idea that what he said meant a lot to me. "Ano'ng di mo kayang gawin?" he remarked when he saw me painting a simple sign for the class booth for the school fair. The task needed no skill, no artistic talent. He could have been sarcastic, but I was dumbfounded then. Now I have a ready answer to that question. What can I not do? Sports.

I didn't choose to be a writer. It just happened. I did want to be a writer when I was in grade school, but after an unpleasant experience with the school paper, I abandoned that hope for theater all the way through college. Writing simply proved more practical than either performing or production work. That's also why there are millions of writers. I want to teach, research, paint, and do so many other things that it's impossible to do them all--at least not at the same time. I'll try anyway. Save me. Is this NYT article trying to tell me something?
For most of us, the options aren’t teaching or writing all day in a barn but teaching or working at the Dairy Queen. It’s not just a question of success or even genius, but temperament and discipline. Young writers think all they need is time, but give them that time and watch them implode. After all, there’s something basically insane about sitting at a desk and talking to yourself all day, and there’s a reason that writers are second only to medical students in instances of hypochondria. In isolation, our minds turn on us pretty quickly.
True, I was paranoid about catching mumps on my out-of-my assignment last week (which you didn't even notice, thanks to scheduled posts). Time to put together that syllabus?

Sunday, September 21, 2008


The other weekend, I saw a sign that said "CARPINTERO, TUBERO, PINTOR, MASON OR WHATEVER, CALL [NAME] [NUMBER]" That was serious, so I almost thought that this wall (above) also was! But no...
beware of owner, not of dog

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The crabby cabbie strikes back

Nachtrit (Nightrun/Roadkill, NL 2006), I overheard from an old lady, is good. I probably should not have believed her. The film, like Fame Chimica, is gray in tone and coarse as far as subject matter is concerned. There is no romanticizing of the business of driving taxis here. It's a man's world where violence is a necessary weapon, bald wrestlers are the scare tactics deployed, and angry people are driven to seek trouble. It takes quite some time before the protagonist's struggle becomes more than a personal cause. He takes it upon himself to be the sacrificial lamb, the betrayer and betrayed. A hero with something worth rebelling against or a stubborn cabby walking into an avoidable trap? You decide. I probably would not have thought these squabbles worth sitting through, but with a classy ending like that, maybe it's alright.

The Old World, as this year's Cine Europa tells us, is not all touristy prettiness. Migration and racism are the subject of much debate, as are many unliveable places and unjust situations. Europe knows it cannot escape "honest" representations. However, in the Third World setting, these films lose some of their power. We have problems, too.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Un film français, dansk filmen, und ein deutsch film

Les chansons d'amour (Love Songs)
is not the musical I expected it to be. Sure, it's a sun-free urban Paris that looked very familiar: migrant neighborhood with postered walls. Here, everyone with a cellphone is either jealous or lonely. Divided into three parts, namely, a threesome, a death and an unsatisfying ending, the poems set to music are interesting diversions, but not enough to deserve the title.

Remember, remember... My favorite French pseudo-musical is still 8 Femmes. Ludivine Sagnier (in white coat, above) was also in that movie, but barely recognizable.

Efter Brylluppet (After the Wedding) is one of the best films out of Denmark in years. Shot in a documentary style, it's like spying on a domestic drama. It drew me in, not because I just missed Copenhagen and hearing Danish, not because Mads Mikkelsen (above right) was a Bond villain, and definitely not because the actor playing Jørgen reminded me of Al Gore. It has that believability that many films don't have and don't want to have, and yet it really gets its point across. The child actor playing Pramod should be proud of his work. Bang & Olufsen, did you sponsor this?

Remember, remember...Like the Oscar-winning Danish film Babette's Feast, the symbolisms are in-your-face.

Hände weg von Mississippi (Hands off Mississippi) about a horse and a girl who spends her summer vacation in the country is something of an oddity. It tries a bit too hard to be slapstick-funny and comes off as intentionally more American prairie than German. But the golden colors and pretty shots are taken from a child's perspective and have a Norman Rockwell glow. We all need a nutty grandma and anti-globalization senior citizens, don't we?

Remember, remember... I mistakenly thought that the lead here was the same as the lead in Die Blindgänger (Blindflyers). Now that is a great German film about young people.

images from outnow.ch

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Two Italian films, two cafes

The first screenings I caught at this year's Cine Europa are back-to-back Italian films, I Cento Passi (100 Steps) and Fame Chimica (Chemical Hunger or The Munchies).

Fame Chimica is about immigration, unemployment and drugs, and yet these issues get the light treatment. Curious, too, that for a film about rough areas, this one has little about it that's edgy. With the exception of the tough guy with a nose ring who closes and ends the film with a rap, the soundtrack is not hood, not ghetto, not street enough for y'all.

The film shows the complexities of principles and morality, and at the same time says a thing or two about friendship. The generation gap in the conversation of father and son was simply classic. Except for the three leads who don't seem to fit their bland, concrete neighborhood--the Italy you never imagined--the cast seemed plucked straight from the tenements.

I Cento Passi, based on a true story, highlights Mafia and Communist tensions in Sicily. The poster can be misleading, as the film is not so much about the protagonist's childhood as his adult life in the 60s and 70s. Technology is vital to the plot: commercial flight and radio are integral to the biography of the impassioned idealist, Peppino. I found this generally well-acted. The lead looks very similar to the real person he portrays. And it doesn't hurt that he sometimes resembles Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr.


In between screenings, I needed a breather, so I went to Secret Recipe.

At P100 for brownies and P120/P140/P160 for cakes, the desserts, as well as the meals, are considerably more expensive here than in Malaysia. But that's not going to stop anyone, is it? I asked for their bestsellers and ended up with marble cheesecake, which has the right sweetness and a nutty crust that complements the smooth, plain filling. (Alright, Secret Recipe isn't exactly a cafe, but I needed a snappy title.)

Passing by Edsa Shangri-La Hotel, I saw that all the commercial spaces on the ground floor are now occupied by Fully Booked. Their Cafe seems to be a much better alternative to the cramped and crowded Starbucks at Shangri-La Mall. Let's meet soon!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Flying on 9/11

Who wants to fly on September 11? Not me. I used to move flight dates just to avoid it. But since my flight to Bacolod was booked for me by one of the editors, I just had to do it this time around.

I remember where I was on that day in 2001. (Don't we all?) I was at the reading for a new play. The Fil-Am playwright got a message and was distraught. He asked if there was a TV at the department. There was. And we watched the images of WTC play over and over. Surreal.

September 11, 2008. My parents took me to Terminal 3 early in the morning. Before we parted, my father handed me an image the size of a large thumb: the Sacred Heart. His mother had given it to him when he was to leave for Zamboanga. She thought he might not return.

I kissed my parents goodbye and told them I love them, the equivalent of last rites in case of the worst. Inside the terminal, nuns of various orders seemed to be numerous. Strange comfort. Half of my siopao fell to the floor--not a good omen. But it was a good flight. We arrived at New Bacolod-Silay Airport earlier than scheduled.

Flying on September 11? No problem.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dinner at O Kitchen

For my brother's belated birthday dinner, my dad brought us to O Kitchen beside the Padre Pio chapel along E. Rodriguez Avenue in Libis. The first thing that strikes you about the place is how brightly lit it is. They serve lutong bahay in minimalist interiors. Everything is simple but not scrimped on, from the utensils to the decor. Their placemat made me think of Piadina's, only subdued. It was nearly empty on Sunday night; there was only one other occupied table and they were also celebrating someone's birthday (it's September after all).

We had grape shake, which was fresh and cool. Rice is shaped into amusing pyramids. We had kare-kare (runny), dulong (tiny shrimp in a tiny plate), grilled pork (good) and deep-fried catfish (really crispy) with a little buro (fermented shrimp and rice-almost cheese!). The food matches expectations. The servings, however, are not so big. For the same price, the four of us could eat at Jatujak and leave nearly bursting. Or you could feed seven at Mann Hann.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Postcard from Katipunan

Walking alone around the campus still means so much.

Gazing at MVP (the building, not the man) all lighted up made me acknowledge that the torch has been passed. Seeing Blue Rep rehearse a musical made me smile. Passing by the chapel, I felt like going in to say hi. It was locked; Mang Manny was cleaning up.

Westward, the sky had the most amazing palette, reminding me that yes, this is all yours but not yours alone. And then I understood.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Still playing

When it comes to online gaming, I have one personal rule: no playing before 6pm.

Is somebody noting the outfits?

Laughing, coughing or hiding our faces in shame? It's called mother and daughter bonding. Yes, they are our avatars. For some reason, ma's hair comes out grey instead of light brown with pink highlights. How age appropriate!

"Wow, mama's so pro-environment she's killing off trees," remarked my brother as my mom attacked Vile Root outside Dragon City. Hahaha!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Are you Type B? + scratching photos

I don't remember who recommended the Korean movie My Boyfriend is Type B to me (please raise your hand, dear). Such a lovely-looking couple. But why am I totally unmoved?

Photojojo encourages you to scratch your photos!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Podcast picks + Cineuropa 11

Addicting additions to my playlist:

John Crace's Digested Read, one of the podcasts of Books from the Guardian is hilarious from start to finish. Could the humor come from the quality of his voice? I wonder.

Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing helps in ways Strunk & White can't. As language evolves, so should our writing.

A Year in Europe with Scott and Sheryl who quit their jobs to spend a very long vacation in the continent. Envious, I dream of taking a busabout trip.

Speaking of Europe, it's that time of the year again! Cine Europa 11 at the Shang Cineplex has five screenings a day starting at 12 noon from September 12 to 21.

Schedules here. Tara, nood tayo!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

4th Annual Sculpture Review

co-presented by Gallery Nine and Gallery Big
Art Center, SM Megamall
until September 17, 2008

The functionality of sculpture makes me think like a designer. Does it work? In the end, I look at how the piece/s speak to me. That's how I ended up with these five picks:
1. Danny Rayos de Sol's Hapunan, a Last Supper of lighted ostrich eggs set on a wood base
2. Daniel dela Cruz' three women: Kapritso, Kariktan and Kariwasaan
3. Michael Cacnio's Cross Road, ladder climber in brass
4. Ral Arogante's mixed media Kubo Clocks series
5. Joe Datuin's Olympic Dance of the Rings series

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The quick white pasta jumped over the lazy cook

A very easy mushroom sauce that was supposed to be carbonara (but I insisted on a shortcut).

Cook a few tablespoonfuls each of grated cheese (generic processed cheese will do) and bacon-flavored cream cheese in some butter. Add sliced button mushrooms and canned cream of mushroom soup. Stir until pleasantly blended. Done!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Hello, Betty!

I didn't watch Yo soy Betty, la fea or Ugly Betty, but ABS-CBN premieres I Betty La Fea tonight, if anyone's interested. This brings me to my point: I am her.
Eleven years ago (and this is not my worst photo)

Last week (and this is not my best photo)

Of course, I no longer had glasses and braces when I started to work for magazines, but I picked up a lot from people in publishing--little things like posture, walking properly and dressing up, all of which are helpful.

Thanks to my opthalmologist, orthodontist, hairdresser, and all the stylists and makeup artists I've ever worked with who showed me that there's hope for all of us. Hahaha!

Did I just miss my dermatologist? I have not seen her in ages and I know she will give me a good sermon when I become desperate enough to see her.

If you can't be beautiful, be Bettyful!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Casting Othello, Othello, Otelo and Otelo

Watching different productions of the same play compels you to compare. I admit this is one of my reasons in watching the Tanghalang Ateneo staging, aside from the chance to listen to the Filipino translation and to gauge how local actors fare against those in London. I saw Othello at Shakespeare's Globe and at the Donmar Warehouse last year and then twice at the Rizal Mini Theater this year--more Othello than one needs to see in a lifetime, but fair enough since I didn't finish the 1995 film version and O, the updated movie version. But instead of rating the performances of the actors playing the same role and each aspect of every production, I'd rather follow the threads of Gibbs Cadiz and Exie Abola. Let's talk about casting alone, based on physical appearance alone. Bagay ba?

Of course, looks do not the whole package make, but I can go on and on if I don't set parameters.

Although casting is always crucial, actors are often cast against type, to mixed results. In a play where race plays an important part, how do you deal with an all-Filipino cast? In London, the Othellos were black and the Biancas clearly of mixed ancestry; the rest of the cast were white, but Desdemona was particularly fair. Here, the distinction is not pronounced. The title character is in blackface, but not markedly darker than the other cast members. Was more makeup (or glutathione for Desdemona) needed? In general, you can look the part regardless of skin color, except when color is integral to the role.

Physically Eamonn Walker (Globe, above) is the quintessential Othello with his imposing frame. However, his booming voice was not used to the fullest. Perhaps he was accustomed to film and TV, not to the stage. Chiwetel Ejiofor (Donmar), though smaller, had better command of speech and modulation, plus curly hair that made him look North African. Nonie Buencamino and Teroy Guzman are made to look older, which works to their benefit.

Zoe Tapper and Eamonn Walker (above left), Chiwetel Ejiofor and Kelly Reilly (above right), Nonie Buencamino and Irma Adlawan-Marasigan (below left), Buencamino fully made up with Missy Maramara (below right)

Teroy Guzman

Missy Maramara (whom I saw twice) and Irma Adlawan-Marasigan are fantastic actresses, but they are not the typical blithe Desdemonas. The perfect Desdemona would glow onstage and possesses an angelic voice--a cross between Kelly Reilly's looks and Zoe Tapper's talent for Shakespeare. Pardon the colonial mentality, but it would have been perfect to have a light-skinned young actress because the kape't gatas May-December Christian-Moor pairing would have all the marks of a romance a father would oppose.

McGregor and McInnerney

Rody and Ron

TA's Iagos, Rody Vera and Ron Capinding, defied their soft features. The balding Tim McInnerney (Globe) had a winning villain smile. But Ewan McGregor (Donmar) appeared incapable of evil despite the beard and mustasche. Or maybe I was just too distracted...

Biancas and Cassios at the Globe, at the Donmar and at the RMT

Neil Ryan Sese (2nd row, left) is somewhere in between the Nick Barber's (top left) and Randy Villarama's (2nd row, right) looks and Tom Hiddleston's (top right) acting chops.

The TA performances, I was pleased to tell director Ricky Abad, are world-class. (I don't completely agree with Gibbs Cadiz and Walter Ang, but do take a look at their reviews.) The local production may not have the budgets or the star wattage of the London productions here (though this cast is dominated by respected professional actors, with students in smaller roles), but it is a good production. With that reassuring thought, I was satisfied.

Globe and Donmar photos by Johan Persson, TA photos by Reamur David