Push Button to Eject President

27 10 2007



Fanny and Alexander and Kaye and Chito and noodles and winter

25 10 2007

After a futile Tuesday trip to the tip of Mabini, Batangas (where after a 6-km walk and a 12-hour, 700-peso, 1000-tired-muscles-worthy travel, I learned that the person I had to meet was not at home!), I decided to make Wednesday wonderful by seeing a big-screen screening at Cine Europa of my best-loved (snobbery aside) Ingmar Bergman film:

Released during the best year of the 80s (go 1982!), Fanny and Alexander was Bergman’s penultimate film and a summary of the themes of his older works (family, religion, fate, death, childhood). I wore a faint smile during all of the film’s first hour as I marveled at the breathtaking beauty of every single frame (the colors, composition, costumes, design and the general ornateness are unmatched by any other film I’ve seen). The cinema was packed but it was sad to see some people leave near the end of the film (to line up for the next free film perhaps).

After the film, we had ramen for dinner at a nearby resto and as I finished up her bowl of noodles, Trina began recounting her Eastern European adventures (entry delays at Slovakia and faking illness in Hungary to avoid the possibility of deportation) and her still subconsciously present fascination with Francois, a former boy-French (BF for short, I suppose), and then for some reason we had dessert at Dunkin Donuts and then we saw Kaye Abad (!) with BF Chito at the lobby and I was starstruck again and it took me a full minute to recover, and then eventually I seconded Trina’s suggestion of entering a ridiculously expensive store where they sell ridiculous, thick, winter clothes because, you know, rich Filipinos wear cold-climate clothes in the Philippines during winter, but we realized that the selection was not as diverse as the other store in Trinoma and so we went there by train and she made me try on several thick winter coats (for the Korea trip, which will be ridiculously expensive outfit-wise, even though it will be only for a week) and it was fun because some coats made me look like Stalin and Baron von Trapp and gangsters (only with shorter legs), and then Trina suggested other necessary items (thick-soled shoes, mufflers, and many many layers) and it was embarrassing to imagine that I once thought a simple jacket would do for below freezing temperatures, and then we went to SM North to look for shirts and barongs and I tried them on up until the department store played its usual closing theme and its employee thanksgiving prayer and then we waited for a UP jeepney but none arrived and so we rode a Philcoa FX instead, and so it was here I am.

Manila, Mania

15 10 2007


In a recent Lonely Planet publication, the staff/authors/readers recently picked Manila as the 69th ‘best’ city in the world (the usual suspects, Paris, New York, Tokyo, Sydney and London topped the 200-city list). Maybe because of my strong sense of attachment to Quezon City (City of the Stars!), I have always thought of Manila (the actual city) as an alien, unknown, hostile territory. Earlier, I went to Quiapo to canvass for a good DSLR and apparently Sunday was the wrong day to visit as it was a church day, tiangge day and holi-day (most of the photography shops were closed). I drifted past the church and walked across the plaza to Hidalgo and Carriedo streets, and then across the underpass onto the other side, and although the area was dirty and smelly and peoply and wet (in the wet-market sense), it felt so mysteriously attractive and colorful and alive (especially when compared to bland districts such as most of EDSA, Quezon Ave and the expressways). Then again, I may be romanticizing unfamiliarity and seeing what isn’t there.


Aside from making action figures out of empty bottles of baby powder, and delineating boundaries of African countries in our backyard with a stick (Sudan will be just about here if the Central African Republic is over there), a most unique childhood hobby used to be my excessive devotion to weekly radio countdowns. Perhaps to satisfy the demands of the order-loving left hemisphere of my brain, I would sit beside the radio every Sunday with pen and notebook ready, and list down the ‘most popular’ songs in Legazpi City, arranged from the 40th to the 1st (Strangers Again was the very first no. 1, and the song still holds a special place in my heart and in my left brain). Imagine my horror when, in late 1995, Typhoon Rosing struck and took away our roofs as well as our city’s power for a month, and I was plunged into a state of mini-depression after being deprived of countdowns for several weeks. Years later, cable TV came, and I shifted my listing skills to MTV (Asia, US and Europe) and Billboard countdowns. People used to propose that I shift to BS Statistics and they once suggested that a career in jueteng would suit me perfectly. Eventually, I entered the university and learned about the possibilities of the world wide web, and, with the help of Excel, I attempted grander schemes such as coming up with weekly world singles charts (compiled from several countdowns from different parts of the world, except Africa) and weekly aggregated Metro Manila FM radio charts, both of which were products of semi-complex, time-consuming computations. Alas, after 8 years of inexplicable countdown madness, in 2003 I made my last ever music chart. Still, today I would hear a song and remember the artist, the year of its release, and the region in the world where it was most popular. Nowadays I just busy myself with film ratings.

Zaido (or Zaid’oh, Zaidorks, Zaidomg)

12 10 2007

The good thing about television is that if a horrible show is playing, there is always the sensible option of switching channels. But now I find myself watching a program which is silly, witless, poorly-acted (the actors look anemic, maybe it’s the zero gravity or probably the discomfort of wearing crotch-hugging Pulis Pangkalawakan suits) and which features mediocre action choreography, subpar costumes and uninspired production design, and still I sit here doing nothing. The dull writing is occasionally interrupted by funny lines such as this one delivered by Dennis Trillo: “Kailangan ko ng receiver na nakakapag-transmit ng microwaves.” Oy. Take that, Japanese TV!

Thomas, Lav and the rock chick from hell

8 10 2007

The wisdom of the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ also applies to book shoppers who happen to come across such lovely temptations as this and this. Most recently, I fell into this trap and relented to Against the Day (also available in a Vintage paperback edition with an even better cover), Thomas Pynchon‘s first novel in nine years, which, given his extensive hiatus, is understandably 1100 pages long. Like all of Pynchon’s historical, postmodern works, it is expansive, scientific, paranoid and populated with dozens of eccentric characters (in this case, balloonists, anarchists, scientists, and someone almost drowning in mayonnaise). It will probably be long, challenging and dotted with parts where you have no idea what is going on. A feast for the Pynchonians (masochistic nerds!).

Speaking of long and challenging, Filipino auteur Lav Diaz recently won Venice Film Festival’s Special Horizons Award for his 9-hour epic, Kagadanan sa Banwaan ning mga Encanto (Death in the Land of the Encantos). Combining drama and documentary, the black-and-white film was shot in a typhoon-devastated village in Bicol called Padang, whose three sitios were completely buried by volcanic debris caused by the torrential downpours of Reming (which, with maximum winds of 320 kph, was the strongest typhoon to ever hit the country). When I was a kid, I used to be fascinated by this village, not only because it was the 70th of the 70 barangays of my city, but also because of its lush-green, mini rice terraces which sloped gently from the foot of Mayon to the sea. Lav Diaz’s two previous films, the 10-hour Ebolusyon ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino (filmed within a decade!) and the 9-hour Heremias (Book 1!), were similarly shot in Bicol.

And finally here’s a strange, raw woman who, 14 years ago, was singing lines like “Lick my legs, I’m on fire/Lick my legs of desire” and “Good Lord I’m big/I’m heading on man-size“. Her latest release, White Chalk, is out.

Cardo in Congress

4 10 2007

Congress people are considering taking the show Desperate Housewives off the air, not only in the Philippines but also in Asia!

Chu Cardo in Congress: Siguro kelangan talagang mag-apologize ni Teri Thatcher.

Filipinos around the world: Chu Cardo! Ang diary! Nasaan ang diary?

In other news, I’m betting the second season of Heroes will severely disappoint. The first two episodes work, but only to a certain extent.

Also, recently picked up from the shelf Arthur Koestler’s Death in the Afternoon, which according to the Modern Library, is the 20th century’s 8th best novel in English (questionable inclusion since, although Koestler was a Hungarian-born Brit, this book set in the Soviet Union was originally written in German). Two hundred eleven pages from now, I will be accomplishing my trivial two-year-old goal of reading all entries in the list’s top 10 (all of them deserve their spots in that elite list by the way except for maybe Sons and Lovers).

And then soon, very soon:

Knock, Crack

3 10 2007

Best knock knock joke from a movie:

Girl: Knock knock

Boy: Who’s there?

Girl: The interrupting cow

Boy: The interrup-

Girl: Mooooo!

Taken from Half Nelson, a 2006 indie hit which features the incredible talents of Ryan Gosling, who plays a crack-addicted, inner-city middle school teacher trying to make a difference among his students while struggling to keep himself clean. Half Nelson can actually be called an inspirational movie, minus the expected cheese and with plenty of cocaine-sniffing.