Cardiac Geographies

23 11 2007

So, yes, Wednesday.

After hours of tedious work in the library, the afternoon managed to be awesome, in the masochistic kinda sense, when I went to Quiapo for a necessary shopping experience in one of its unassuming yet wonderfully cheap stores. The rain made the day gloomy and the traffic congested, and the puddles in Hidalgo flooded my shoes with dirty water when I tiptoed the wrong way, but it was all worth it for the resulting rewards of the loot. Later, I met up with Trina, who was on one of her last legs of field work along the esteros of Sampaloc, and we decided to walk to Binondo for dining purposes (given the notorious reputation of Quiapo fastfood), and wandered about semi-aimlessly long enough such that we actually completed a mini-tour of Manila north of the Pasig (a Quiapo-Sta Cruz-San Nicolas-Binondo route). With wrinkly feet and tired leg muscles, we eventually found the resto near the estero, thanks in part to our long-delayed decision of hiring a pedicab. Also, we were awed (and shocked) at the pedicab driver’s incredible navigation abilities on the traffic-ridden streets. Apart from his pedaling and braking skills, we also marveled at how he managed to make the pedicab pass in between the bumper of one car and the tail of another one without a single scratch.

At around 8, we left for QC via the train line which ends/begins in Divisoria, with fishy-smelling shirts, completing an eventful 4-hour journey across the heart (or aorta, to be more precise) of Manila.


Midnight Push-Ups

15 11 2007

It’s 2 AM and it’s raining and I’ve just completed a marathon 5-hour research writing spree, a new habit for the last five nights now. Two months of procrastination due to the lack of a groove have finally caught up with me. Groove is overcompensating.

Must, Cinema

10 11 2007

If you’re in the mood for (love and) a movie this weekend, catch Tony Leung and Tang Wei in Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution. This 2007 Venice Film Fest winner, however, requires a lot of patience as its spy-drama plot (set in Japanese-occupied China in the 40s) takes time to unfold. The long ‘caution’ parts eventually give way to some intense and semi-graphic ‘lust’ scenes. The screening of Lust, Caution here without cuts (Lee has refused to remove the acrobatic sex scenes for a less restricting rating) bodes well for an enlightened censorship. In a country where watching a graphic act of taking a life is seen as less objectionable than a graphic act of creating one, this should be a step forward. Film Rating: 8.5/10

Another must-see is Superbad which, along with Knocked Up, is the best American comedy of the year (a good year for Apatow and friends). What sets both features apart from other similarly filthy-mouthed films is the magnitude of investment the writers place on its characters. On the surface, Superbad is just about two guys trying to score but bubbling underneath are plenty of bottled feelings and words left unsaid. Also, McLovin is kinda awesome. Both Films: 8.5/10

Meanwhile, Moolaade is the final film of the father of African cinema, Ousmane Sembene. Women in a small village with marvelous mud mosques in Burkina Faso finally resist patriarchy and the barbaric practice of genital mutilation. Quite entertaining for a serious topic plus some wonderfully vibrant colors. Film Rating: 9.5/10

Finally, stay away from Rendition. Wasted talents (Streep, Gyllenhaal, Witherspoon) acting for the same old interlocking-contrivances formula (think Babel and Crash). Film Rating: 6/10


8 11 2007

Although Kokey looks like a big lump of shit, it will be sad to see him, his mother Kakay, his father Kokoy and the rest of his pinyoka (and the chipeka!) go after tomorrow’s finale. Can’t wait to see those ‘tears’ stream down his face again (yay to low-tech special effects!).


5 11 2007

Just arrived from a sleepless 11-hour bus ride (where an infant, held by a woman seated behind me, accidentally slid under my seat!) but I am not at all tired. A week back at home was refreshing, although nothing much to report except maybe for the fateful coincidence of getting to read Under the Volcano (Malcolm Lowry’s novel set on the slopes of Popocatepetl during Day of the Dead, Mexico’s All Souls Day feast) at a birthday party on the foot of Mayon Volcano on All Souls Day. Besides Mexico, in the last three months I have also been to Surinam and England (through Waugh), Colombia (Marquez), Turkey (Pamuk), Russia (Koestler) and Sierra Leone (Greene).

A few hours from now, the 12th season of a favorite show will be premiering with 11 new teams (including a pink-wearing Goth couple from Kentucky, a married lesbian couple [!] who are ministers [!!] and the first grandfather-grandson team) embarking on a racearoundtheworld for a million bucks. Added new destinations this season are Ireland, Taiwan, Croatia, Lithuania and possibly Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso? I can anticipate the fun of hearing teams mispronounce Ouagadougou.