Walang arte at all

28 06 2009

Congratulations to the EB Babes for accomplishing a rare threepeat at the Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Award as the country’s Most Popular Dance Group. Props too for that awesome, unrehearsed acceptance speech: “We are elated to receive this award. Thank you.” Congratulations as well to Roxanne Guinoo for winning the Luminous Skin White Star of the Night. She will be receiving a three-month supply of glutathione! If there was ever an award for awards show, this should win by a landslide.

Absolutely despised the loud, shallow, tedious assault on the ears that is Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, a film that actually caused a momentary mild headache as its credits started to roll. Good thing I caught sight moments later of the country’s second best-selling recording artist (next to the multi-talented Willie Revillame, who will always and forever be number one!) and all the pain and exhaustion went away. The young prodigy Baby James was with fellow multi-platinum-selling recording artist and mother Kris (!) as well as half-brother Josh (!!) (And father James was there too but yeah no one cares).

In less serious matters, my visa got approved painlessly on Friday, which probably means no more chance for turning back. Realized too that my separation anxiety was never that bad and was never the primary reason for the recent emotional fireworks. Pathetic how after all these months, everything has become unbelievably clear and I am suddenly ridiculously rational.


The past and the curious

23 06 2009

Cook me in your breakfast
And put me on your plate
‘Cause you know I taste great

– Devendra Banhart, At the Hop


Prequel. Mediocre, yes, but after 11 months of inactivity, I finally have another new paragraph. Looking at the short history below, I think I have perfectly legitimate reasons for temporarily abandoning this work:

Sep-Oct 2006: first few pages finished; computer crashes, all is lost
Jan-Apr 2007: reworking; first quarter is completed
Apr 2007-Jun 2008: writing break due to thesis
Jul 2008: a quarter of the second quarter is completed
Aug 2008-May 2009: writing break due to GRE review and certain barf-inducing things
Jun 2009: resumption, yeah!

Like most things thus far, this is taking forever but it’ll eventually get done.

The Past. Neuroscientists claim that smell is closely associated with memories. In my particular case, I’d like to argue that songs and places are as well. I’m sure Proust would concur.

The Curious. Apparently my exceptional planning and anticipation skills (e.g. travels organized to the tiniest detail, and getting homesick months before actually leaving) does not extend to my long-term future. I have only the vaguest idea what will happen in the next decade or so and I don’t find myself really caring much. We’ll cross the bridge when the bridge is made.

Tokyo Drift. I’ll be seeing Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda’s earlier film Wandafuru Raifu (After Life) sometime this week. I remember Nobody Knows impressing me very much. Also saw Mon Rak Transistor, Thai filmmaker Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s version of a whimsical rom-com/musical. His recent work, Ploy, may probably be my third favorite Thai film (after film god Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Syndromes and a Century and Blissfully Yours).

Kwentong Fibisco

21 06 2009

June 21, summer solstice, is the longest day of the year. I spent most of it, however, asleep in bed, recovering from a previous day’s worth of extensive wandering, which brought me from the overwhelming chaos of Divisoria and Quiapo to the overwhelming artificiality of Boni High Street. I also vaguely remember walking along Katipunan at 4am, after an hour or so of enduring the strange cacophony of loud, rowdy Koreans and some second-rate singing from third-rate comedians somewhere in UN Avenue.

I guess it’s safe to say that the old Kristian is back after half a year of illusional (and delusional) existence. About frakking time. Now the only things left to settle are departure-related. Let the 50-day countdown begin.


16 06 2009

I never…said…that I love you.

– Sam Milby, Maging Sino Ka Man

Today, we celebrate two anniversaries: Bloomsday (Joyce nerds reJoyce!) and my tenth year at UP. In 1999, I entered the university as a naive, thin teen. Still all of those now except for the teen part and perhaps just a bit more cynical and disinterested.

Saw yesterday the playful and fragrantly-titled Mababangong Bangungot (Perfumed Nightmare), a groundbreaking first film from Kidlat Tahimik, an economist with no prior background in filmmaking. I think Sonny, with all his passion for periphery power and de-Westernization, will enjoy this immensely.

Meanwhile, I am missing Indonesia (ahem ahem)!


11 06 2009

Indonesian food is incredibly diverse and usually tastes better than they look.

My favorites are bebek goreng (duck fried crispy in high temperatures) from Solo and martabak (sweet pancake-like night food) from Jakarta.

Nasi gudeg (sweet-spicy rice meal with double-boiled egg, jackfruit chunks, cowskin, chicken shreds, etc), a Yogyakarta specialty and pempek (deep fried fish and egg drowned in spicy garlic vinegar), a snack from Palembang are both equally sumptuous. Indonesian es teh (iced tea) are also addictive.

Other delicious meals include kaput tahu (a tofu dish) and timlo (boiled and scrambled eggs plus chicken liver in broth), both eaten in the unassuming sidewalk stalls of Solo.

Of course, there is also the ubiquitous nasi goreng (fried rice), satay ayam (barbecued chicken with peanut sauce), beef rendang, mie goreng (fried noodles) and many countless other dishes, including some nice cassava and coconut milk desserts. Indonesian meals won’t be complete without sambal (chili sauce) and kecap manis (sweet soy sauce). Below are photos of soto ayam (soup with chicken) and a Jogja sidewalk food place with mats and tables and boxes of delicious krupuk (deep-fried crackers).

I miss Indonesia already.


9 06 2009

Back again in Manila, the city of bright lights, giant billboards and pink bridges.

The trip to Indonesia, despite being the least adventurous, turned out to be the longest (2 weeks), least stressful and most pampered (free food, accommodation, transport, tour guide and Mercedes rides) travel abroad so far. Jakarta is a sprawling metropolis I’ll probably love in due time (right amount of chaos + jaw-dropping shopping mall interiors) but even the most patient person will probably be frustrated by the bad suburban roads and horrendous traffic jams (it can take as much as 3 hours to get to the other side of the city on the worst hours). Below: view of a Jakarta neighborhood.

The historic Central Javan capitals of Yogyakarta and Solo (Surakarta), on the other hand, are everything that Jakarta isn’t. Older, smaller, more charming, better planned and culturally richer. The majestic ancient structures of Buddhist Borobudur and Hindu Prambanan nearby are in fact older than Angkor Wat. We took the day train across the heart of Java and the lush terraced fields and quaint Javanese villages (with houses consistently painted white with red, shingled roofs) were breathtaking. Below: Borobudur and Prambanan.

We were witness too to my Indonesian cousin’s unbelievably grand wedding ceremonies, done both in the Muslim and the Batak traditions. The former was solemn and short (with 4000 guests!) while the latter was ritualistic and long (already shortened to two days from the original seven). I admire how Indonesians have been able to seamlessly merge the old and the new, the traditional and the modern. Plus they have great batik clothes, interior designing, furniture and architecture. Below: Batak wedding procession.

Indonesia is a wonderfully diverse country (Malaysia does not even compare) and there are several places I would wish to visit soon (Gunung Bromo, Bali, Lombok, Sulawesi, Sumatra, Maluku). The food is excellent (details in another post) and the language is pretty easy to learn. And the people are awesome, especially one in particular (ahem ahem). Will definitely return.

More photos here.