Sunday, July 31, 2011


Too much negativity to end the month with. How to dispel it? I think music is the best way.

Can I tell you a story through song? Here's a one-take of Stephen Schwartz's "Meadowlark" from The Baker's Wife, with a good number of timing errors and progressively degenerating as it goes. Just let them go and enjoy the tale, will you?

[Image via FCIT]

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Think Quarterly

I could say "+1" to Google's magazine, Think Quarterly. But what I really want to say is "like".

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cinemalaya 2011: Niño

I was only able to catch one Cinemalaya film during the CCP/Greenbelt run: Loy Arcenas' Niño, from the New Breed feature film category. I came in with different biases. Seeing the trailer, I was afraid I wouldn't like it. But I heard second-hand that it was good and I had met the director previously, so that made me feel more confident that my time and P150 would not go to waste.

The subject matter is one I would shy away from: family drama revolving around a generation attached to an old house and their children who don't want to keep it. That will be as much as I will say about the story. But what the film lacks in mainstream appeal it makes up for in skillful execution.

For a first feature, Nino has none of the pitfalls of first-timers. It is not indulgent, nor has it overlooked any particular technical aspect.

Instead of focusing on the house, which I expected Arcenas to do (he is a theater designer after all), the focus was on the inhabitants and their relationships. The characterizations and dialogue are exceptional, as each character is fleshed out. Credit goes to Rody Vera's excellent screenplay. The family's secrets are slowly revealed and the details all have purpose.

There is music, as the matriarch is a former opera singer (Fides Cuyugan-Asensio, in a role I cannot imagine giving to anyone else), but very little scoring. The subtitles are actually very helpful for the songs.

Cuyugan-Asensio and Arthur Acuña (who plays her son) have an occasional theatricality about them. But Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino and Raquel Villavicencio, themselves theater actresses, show none of this. Child actor Jhiz Deocareza, even when dressed up as the Sto. Nino, appears very believable, a boy wonder in a different sense.

Except for the sometimes unsteady camera, which makes you feel like an intruder in the house, there are no rough edges. However there are two things that bothered me that I would not blame on the filmmaker: the digital projection at Greenbelt resulted in a shower of pixels and the sound recording came out uneven a few times.

Having seen Niño, I am still not fond of the topic. But this is the kind of work that Cinemalaya is precisely for: a well-made Filipino film that tells a story that may otherwise never get told.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Podcast Pick: BBC's The Infinite Monkey Cage

It should come as no surprise that I listen to science podcasts (see previous Podcast Picks). I am that nerdy. But I subscribed to The Infinite Monkey Cage not because of science but because of Brian Cox, who is a physicist crush of mine, next to Brian Greene. That doesn't make TIMC a boring walk in the science park. It is good comedy, aside from being good for your brain. (I am convinced that I am a little smarter than before I heard it, yet I become more aware of how little I know.) The show is fast-paced, with knowledgeable guests and a geeky live audience. It makes painful errands (say, a trip to the wax technician) more bearable.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pura Taman Ayun

Pura Taman Ayun is a royal temple in Bali. For some reason, it seems farther than it appears on the map.

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Nusa Dua

Nusa Dua is the high-end enclave of Bali, hence many security checkpoints. There you'll find the biggest hotel complexes. The beach isn't that great, but you won't have plenty of crowds in your way.

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Bali Collection is a sprawling commercial center.



Ayodhya, formerly the Bali Hilton, is one of the largest resorts in Nusa Dua. We enjoyed a light snack and watched as a bird that appeared to be wearing a dotted scarf around it neck walked quickly near our area. Cute.