Friday, July 31, 2009

Death of the National Artists Awards?

I wasn't going to blog about this, as the blogs I follow (Jessica, Gibbs and CANVAS) have already mentioned it, but I got this forwarded text message:
Frm National Artist Virgilio Almario: Saddened to inform you of the Death of the National Artists Awards. Date and time for the Necrological Service to be announced. Pagdadalamhati sa Kamatayan ng Gawad Pambansang Alagad ng Sining. Pls forward to all concerned.
Perhaps not all of us are concerned, but surely we have opinions on this.


My big lil sis D (younger in age but ahead by Ateneo batch) asked me to give a talk to her Freshman English classes. In return, I got treated to lunch. Four cheese pizza and Charlie Chan pasta? Why not?

*exchange deal

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sunday morning in Noveleta

The salt fields are wet this season

Trixie and her sleeping mistress

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A rarity in these times

In this day and age, a snail mail thank you card with a handwritten personal message (inside, of course) is nothing short of classy.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Spent a bit of time at the Asia-Europe New Media Art Symposium. I hope collaborations will come out of this event.

Panel at Green Papaya, July 22
(L to R): Peter Tomaz Dobrila, Jerneja Rebernak, Emma Ota, Tad Ermitaño, Tengal

Slovenians deep in thought

Angelo Vermeulen at CSB-SDA, July 24

Iron Egg at Mogwai, July 25

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cinemanila 5inco: Dinig Sana Kita

I've always wanted to learn sign language because of my deaf friends. When Bobby said he wanted to see Mike Sandejas' Dinig Sana Kita (If I Knew What You Said), I wanted to see it too. The trailer looked promising. Can a film about a deaf dancer and a rocker chick live up to the hype (and there are lots of it)? It depends on who you ask. Students love it while some older viewers find it not serious enough for consideration as best film in the independent film festival. I guess I'm somewhere in between.

A somewhat contrived meeting at the police station is the beginning of this unlikely but sweet story, which has a lot of heart. The do-gooder orphan with concerned teachers and deaf friends meets the troublemaker with dysfunctional parents and pa-cool bandmates. Add a camp in Baguio (amazing school architecture) and some alcohol and you have a somewhat awkward but cute narrative which uses music to its full advantage.

Zoe Sandejas looks perfect as Niña, the rich kid who looks like she stepped out of an Asianovela. Her being the director's daughter is a non-issue to me. The only thing that bothered me is that she was not convincingly bratty to me (or is my bitchiness standard too high?). Romalito Mallari, who is both deaf and hoping to find his father in real life, is loveable as Kiko. One little detail did not sit too well with me: he dressed a little too nicely. Scrap that. I still want to give him a hug.

Dramatic highlight: Mr. Mendoza (Robert Seña) and Kiko's emotional exchange in sign language. Wow. I want to see that again. Comic highlight: the band dancing with Kiko. I'd like to see that again, too.

It seems the film addresses underage drinking rather weakly. (Did she just exchange San Mig Light for C2?) But the appearance of Niña's (and also my) favorite band, Sugarfree is a plus, though it feels like a shortcut for a neat resolution. I suppose I'm unfairly comparing it with Mangatyanan, where every little thing made sense in the end.

Overall, Dinig Sana Kita reminds us what we all know: music is powerful, whether you can hear it or not. And yes, despite its imperfections, I should say it was worth it to come to a 10am screening at CCP.

A bumper crop of indies. My one true regret this week is not seeing them all. I had lined up for an hour to get a ticket for that evening's screening of the comedy Last Supper No. 3, which is on everyone's lips at Cinemalaya, only to be told that it was sold out. "Next year," said the ticket lady. I'll be back, for sure.

(Note: I spoke to Philbert Dy after I wrote and scheduled this post and he said something similar about Mangatyanan and Dinig Sana Kita. Finally, a critic who share my views!)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cinemanila 5inco: Mangatyanan

I had seen the trailer of Mangatyanan some time ago, but it didn't leave much of an impression on me. (Don't let the poster sway you, either.) I'm glad I gave the film a chance.

The second film in Jerrold Tarog's CAMERA trilogy, Mangatyanan (The Blood Trail) revolves around Laya, a photographer with a secret. An assignment brings her to the Labwanan tribe, who are set to perform the Mangatyanan ritual. But the tribe is not what she expects it to be and Laya's unease with the situation turns out to be rooted in her past. No spoilers here, but you'll find those elsewhere.

At first, I thought that Che Ramos as Laya was underacting. Perhaps that is because her style clashed with that of Irma Adlawan ("Si Fe!" remarked an audience member, who had obviously seen her in another Cinemalaya entry, Ang Panggagahasa Kay Fe/The Rapture of Fe), who plays her mother. And that's not just because mother and daughter don't see eye-to-eye. It seemed to be a difference in technique. In the end, Ramos showed what her character is really made of, which is what really mattered most.

The story is good. If I overanalayze some of the devices, it would appear that some of them are overused. However, flashback magic worked on me. When I learned about Laya's background, I wanted to empathize with her and help her exorcise her lone demon: her father (played by Pen Medina). Neil Ryan Sese as Eric does little more than smile his way through the film, but I must admit that that works for me, too. The most entertaining character has to be Mailes Kanapi as the Queen. Karakter talaga.

It's a good thing that the trilogy is not all about Laya (though I would like to know what will happen to her and Eric) because then I would not be able to rest without seeing the first movie. I have yet to see film number one, Confessional, which is about a videographer. I wonder what the third one will be about. (Video camera, still camera... How many kinds are there anyway?)

Congratulations to the cast and crew of the film for a job well done. They did justice to the material. My P100 was well spent.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Art afternoon

After Manilart 09, it was time for lemon squares, food for the gods and ensaymada at Mary Grace Serendra. The standee on our table was appropriate (though I find that last sentence a bit odd).

Also passed by Echo Store for organic salted eggs and shaving oil. K's love for the place rubbed off on me.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Where there's smoke...

There's a firing. Passed by during the start of the sixth anagama firing. It was also a very sad day, as my pottery teacher told me that I'm one in his last batch of students.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Let's fill Makiling with potters

A busy Saturday afternoon spent getting our hands dirty with clay. I did slabs this time, while the others had coiling for their first lesson.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A different way back

Passing through Quezon National Park on the way back to Manila from Bicol. Our windshield was dirty, but the view was still spectacular. Note the dashboard menagerie.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Everything pili

Align Centre
Although pili nuts are grown elsewhere, they are associated with Naga City. The nuts are soft relative to other nuts and can be eaten raw.

RPM and J Emmanuel are the largest brands. Both offer a wide variety of products.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ateneo de Naga

Atenista nga!

Being an Atenean, I appreciated seeing our sister school. This is the high school campus outside the city center.


primary colors

Is the design on these four columns supposed to look like computer chips? Hmmm.

The old college campus is downtown.

not the Ateneo you expect

Ateneo Church of Christ the King - reminds me a bit of the Il Gesu in Rome

pili nut design elements!

We had snacks at Coko Cafe at Chito Madrigal Building. I'd say it's the nicest cafe I've seen on an Ateneo campus.

define proper attire...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Plaza Quince Martires

The plaza honors the 15 Bicolano martyrs executed at Luneta in 1897. Their bodies were never found.

Close by is Starview Hotel. Doesn't it remind you of Dubai's Burj Al-Arab?

Around the corner was this billboard. How true?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Panicuason Hot Springs

Now this is my favorite place in Naga. Panicuason is a barangay at the foot of Mt. Isarog, a dormant volcano. It is 20 minutes from the city center. The drive to the natural springs is stunning in itself.

For a P200 entrance fee, you can go swimming in the hot and cold springs surrounded by cliffs covered with ferns. When I say cold, I mean very cold and when I say hot, I mean varying degrees of temperature, depending on the pool the water is diverted to.

You'll see the bubbles coming out of the holes in the ground. Onsen!