4:05 PM |
The Carlo J. Caparas Story: Massacre at the National Artists Awards (God, Save Us All!)
When I first heard that Carlo J. Caparas -- the king of massacre movies and creator of the popular komiks series "Ang Panday" (and creator lang ha? he never even drew a single frame of it, this according to komiks walking encyclopedia Gerry Alanguilan) -- has just been proclaimed National Artist for Visual Arts and Film by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, I thought it was one of those jokes passed around cellphone to cellphone by some guy bored by the rainy days.
But let's have the obra speak for itself, so they say. So let's consider naman these cinematic gems... The Cory Quirino Kidnap: NBI Files (2003), Wilson Sorronda: Leader Kuratong Baleleng's Solid Group (1995), The Lilian Velez Story: Till Death Do Us Part (1995), The Anabelle Huggins Story - Ruben Ablaza Tragedy (Mea Culpa) (1995), The Marita Gonzaga Rape-Slay: In God We Trust! (1995), Victim No. 1: Delia Maga (Jesus, Pray for Us!) (1995), The Maggie dela Riva Story (God ... Why Me?) (1994), Lipa Arandia Massacre (Lord Deliver Us from Evil/God Save the Babies!) (1994), The Untold Story: Vizconde Massacre 2 - God Have Mercy on Us (1994), The Vizconde Massacre Story (God Help Us!) (1993), The Cecilia Masagca Story: Antipolo Massacre (Jesus Save Us!) (1993), Humanda Ka Mayor!: Bahala na ang Diyos (1993), The Myrna Diones Story (Lord, Have Mercy!) (1993), Ayaw Matulog ng Gabi (1990), Ang Mahiwagang Daigdig ni Elias Paniki (1989), and Celestina Sanchez a.k.a. Bubbles (1988).
He deserves the National Artist title. He is very, very religious.
And then I got amused by the idea. This was sheer brilliance! It totally democratizes the prestigious (and elitist!) National Artist Award! It opens up a vista of possibilities! And I am giddy with all of it. Imagine, Annabelle Rama may be a shoo-in for National Artist for Film Acting! Delicious. Let's open up a new category (and they always do) and put in Film Criticism. Inday Badiday, post-humously! Or if you don't want dead people, Cristy Fermin!
What about Arnel Salgado or Xerex Xaviera as National Artists for Literature! Or Marc Logan for Broadcast Arts! Lito Camo for Music! Joel Lamangan for Film! The Sex Bomb Dancers for Dance! And I want my local sastre to be given her due and get Fashion Design!
7:48 PM |
Hurrah to the Five Filipinos in the Man Asian 2009 Longlist!
The Administrative Committee for the 2009 Man Asian Literary Prize has today announced the longlist of works for this prize:
Gopilal Acharya, With a Stone in My Heart Omair Ahmad, Jimmy the Terrorist Siddharth Chowdhury, Day Scholar Kishwar Desai, Witness the Night Samuel Ferrer, The Last Gods of Indochine Eric Gamalinda, The Descartes Highlands Ram Govardhan, Rough with the Smooth Kanishka Gupta, History of Hate Kameroon Rasheed Ismeer, Memoirs of a Terrorist Ratika Kapur, Overwinter Mariam Karim, The Bereavement of Agnes Desmoulins Sriram Karri, The Autobiography of a Mad Nation Nitasha Kaul, Residue R. Zamora Linmark, Leche Mario I. Miclat, Secrets of the Eighteen Mansions Clarissa V. Militante, Different Countries Varuna Mohite, Omigod Dipika Mukherjee, Thunder Demons Hena Pillai, Blackland Roan Ching-Yueh, Lin Xiu-Tzi and Her Family Edgar Calabia Samar, Eight Muses of the Fall K. Srilata, Table for Four Su Tong, The Redemption Boat Oyungerel Tsedevdamba, Shadow of the Red Star
This longlist of 24 unpublished works of Asian fiction in English will be reviewed and evaluated by the 2009 Man Asian Literary Prize judges, who will announce a shortlist of works in October 2009. The winner will be announced on Monday, 16 November at an awards ceremony in Hong Kong.
The judging panel for the 2009 Man Asian Literary Prize comprises Indian writer Pankaj Mishra, Irish novelist Colm Toibin (Chair), and Chinese American author Gish Jen.
The 2009 Man Asian Literary Prize longlist was chosen from among 150 submissions received from all over Asia.
The largest single group of submissions was from India, followed by the Philippines and Hong Kong. Entries came from as far afield as Bhutan, Mongolia and Myanmar as well as from China, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The Prize received submissions from well-established as well as first-time authors, and these included translated works as well as works originally in English. Most submissions were made by authors themselves, with a handful coming from literary agents or translators.
David Parker, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Man Asian Literary Prize said: "We are delighted to see so many exciting entries from all over Asia. Now in its third year the Prize has established itself as a window onto the extraordinary wealth of creative talent in this part of the world."
Man Group plc is the sponsor of the Man Asian Literary Prize and the annual Man Hong Kong International Literary Festival. Additional information is available on the website.
A funny thing happened while we -- Jay, Mark, and I -- were drinking vodka calamansi slush in a cafe off Timog in Quezon City late last Monday night. A video pirate/hawker happened by. "Sir, bili kayo. May bagong titles," he said. Soused on vodka and without thinking, I called out, "Meron ka bang kopya ng Lihim ni Antonio?"
"Ay sayang," I said.
We all went back to drinking and talking, laughing about the whole thing.
Minutes later, the pirate came back -- a copy of Ang Lihim ni Antonio in his hand.
We laughed again, and then I told the guy, "Lagot ka!" And pointing to Jay, I said, "Sya ang direktor nito!"
In the best of times and in the worst of times, I return to Christian music to remind me that the finality of all things is in God. (This will come as a surprise perhaps to quite a few who think they know me, and have labeled me -- what was that? -- an "unhappy lost sheep.")
Music such as this is perfect during meditative afternoons, especially weekends, when things slow to a crawl, and the quiet makes you turn inward, towards everything that lay in silent bursting in your heart.
Like King Saul of the Old Testament, I know that the perfect cure for the vexed soul is time spent immersed in song and careful, whispered prayers. He had the young David play the harp for him, and from the Bible we read: "Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him" (1 Samuel 16:23).
My own personal David is Sandi Patti, she of the golden voice and a sometime tattered life that belies much of what I find hypocritical in fundamentalism. (That calls for a totally separate post -- but let it be said that this is part of my many reasons why I don't go to church anymore. It is not because I have stopped being Christian. Far from it. It is simply because when you come to realize that you're in a pen with wolves dressed as sheep, you'd rather really pursue God in beautiful solitude.)
When the vexing days descend, it is through Sandi Patti's music that I find entrance to divine comfort. She has sang so many Christian standards, it is impossible to find one that describes everything about her music.
But I've always loved "The Stage is Bare" from The Finest Moments, and I finally realized that it may be because it captures, so perfectly, the way I live my faith. She sings:
The stage is bare, The crowds are gone, The love we shared still lingers on. We sang and played, and we laughed and cried, And in our tumbling way we tried To say what only hearts can know. And all too soon we had to go. But now, here in this darkened room, Just empty seats, There’s just me and you.
It was so easy to call you Lord When a thousand voices sang your praise. But there’s no one to hear me now, So hear me now, be near me now.
The stage is bare, The crowds are gone. Lord, now's the time I need Your song To give me joy and certainty When no one else is watching me. I need you more than words can say, Tomorrow’s such a daily day. And I so need to feel you then, Holding my hand, Please hold me then.
I need you, Lord.
I like that. I like that honesty. I like how it burns into me the beauty of talking to God in solitude. Because it is so easy to proclaim God in the full limelight -- in church worship, in prayer rallies and Bible study sessions, in text messages, in Facebook, in blogs, in whatever platform -- to convince everybody else of the righteousness we hold ourselves in. And I see that a lot, especially from people who only use His name to cover up festering lies, who find strange comfort in public holiness.
Ultimately it is in solitude -- with only you and your God -- that one can recognize the truthfulness of your bond with the divine.
Red Room Productions’ first full-length feature Handumanan (Remembrance), a film about three people who seem to have lost hope of their worlds until their fateful encounter in a resort in Negros Oriental, will compete for the prestigious Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) award as part of the fifth Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival (Cinemalaya Cinco) at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The film, directed by Seymour Barros Sanchez, will have its world premiere at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theatre) on July 22, Wednesday, 9 p.m.
Starring Asian Television Awards Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress Chin Chin Gutierrez, Gawad Urian Best Actor Jason Abalos, and introducing Japanese-Brazilian model Akihiro Sato, the film was shot in Negros Oriental, Zambales, Cavite, and Metro Manila.
Gutierrez is Sol Biglete, a romance novelist who hides under the pseudonym Soledad Miranda. She quits her job and goes back home to Dumaguete after repeatedly shunning the demands of her publisher, played by Dido dela Paz, to write erotic pocketbooks. Abalos is Lean Tan, a government auditor who dreams of becoming an accomplished writer, but has finished a course in accountancy instead upon the wish of his mother, played by Gina Lumauig. Sato, who is acting in his very first film after gracing the catwalk of countless fashion shows and appearing in several commercials, is Carlos Silva, a model who is searching for his roots.
After Sol leaves her job for Dumaguete through the help of her colleague and friend (Lexter Tarriela), she finds out about blogging from her niece (Naddie May Orillana) and makes use of this new tool to continue writing. Carlos, who finds his face on the cover of one of Sol’s pocketbooks, searches for her on the Internet and gets hooked with her writing, expressing his wish to meet her personally in the process. Meanwhile, Lean is assigned to audit in Dumaguete but his reclusive attitude leads him to Sol, whose romance novels play an unusual role in his life.
Directed by Sanchez from a 500,000-peso grant provided by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the film is also made possible through the major backing of Philippine Seven Corporation (7-Eleven), Pura Vida Beach and Dive Resort, Silliman University, On Cam Productions, Pixel Art Media Production Co., and the Katorse Writers Group, with minor support from the University of Makati Film Society, Antulang Beach Resort, Penshoppe, Hayahay Restaurant and Bar, Italia Restaurant, Café Antonio, Don Roberto’s, Shakey’s Dumaguete, Gifts Fashion, Chantilly Cake House, Waffle Time, and Boston Cafe.
The script, which was selected as one of the six finalists to the third Produire au Sud (Producing from the South) workshop during the sixth World Film Festival of Bangkok last year, was co-written by Sanchez and Richard Legaspi, batchmates at Ricky Lee’s 14th scriptwriting workshop. (The latter is set to direct his own feature Cyclone Loop for Cinema One Originals.)
Abalos appears courtesy of Star Magic/ABS-CBN Talent Center while Sato appears courtesy of Mercator Models Management. The film will then be shown at the Robinsons Galleria Indie Sine from July 29 to August 4 before touring schools nationwide and other film festivals abroad.
It will have its Dumaguete premiere in September.
[photos courtesy of seymour sanchez and jason abalos]
"I want you to get swept away. I want you to levitate. I want you to sing with rapture and dance like a dervish. Be deliriously happy. Or at least leave yourself open to be. I know it’s a cornball thing but love is passion, obsession, someone you can’t live without. If you don’t start with that, what are you going to end up with? I say fall head over heels. Find someone you can love like crazy and who’ll love you the same way back. And how do you find him? Forget your head and listen to your heart… Run the risk, if you get hurt, you’ll come back. Because, the truth is there is no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love — well, you haven’t lived a life at all. You have to try. Because if you haven’t tried, you haven’t lived… Stay open. Who knows? Lightning could strike."
-- Anthony Hopkins as Bill Parrish in Meet Joe Black
Never take up with a writer, I tell you. They notice everything, including the hole at the bottom of your argyle sock, the inconsistency in your choice of cheeseburger, and that confession you made one drunken dawn in 2006. They will stay awake at three in the morning, and insist on walking down stretches of dark street to speak to the July rain. They are useless at parties, and will either stare blankly into space or vehemently campaign for the legalization of third-world prostitution in a conversation comparing condom elasticities. They will correct your every sentence, forget vital pieces of underwear, and will not hesitate to record your conversation on a scrap of damp McDonald’s tissue paper. They are constantly afraid the sky is falling, and are more afraid when it doesn’t. They will conveniently forget birthdays and unpaid phone bills, will hiss at the good friend who commits the sin of breathing while they pound away at what they mistakenly believe is the Great Filipino Novel, and have fits of moaning in dark corners when the voices in their heads refuse to go away. And there are voices, I tell you.
Today I will write about why I cannot write, and if that does not fill 6,500 characters – approximately 1,200 words – the impoverished state of my own personal nation will be announced very soon when Meralco cuts off my electricity. I am told I must have it easy, sitting on my couch and rambling my way into a monthly paycheck. I suspect there are many, many more difficult lines of work than spending long blocks of time rearranging words on blank white pages, but as I have no affinity for hunting mountain lions or diving into sewage, I will content myself with carefully going mad.
This is the day I choose to conduct my own personal revolution. I will not talk about politics today, because although diving into sewage is not part of my job description, I seem to be wading in muck half the time. I will not write about the President’s breasts – although I do not know if technically they can be included in her Statement of Assets and Liabilities, as I am told Asian Hospital footed the bill. I will not write about the very odd decision by a Caloocan judge, who dismissed a case on falsification of documents by a city accountant because the paperwork had “some semblance of truth.” I will not, for example, jump on Senator Francis Escudero’s statement, when asked if he is running for President, that he will not stoop down to the excuses that his colleagues have made on not declaring their candidacy. He will not, for example, claim he is waiting for an endorsement (as they say Gilbert Teodoro is) or that he is waiting to accumulate the necessary P1 billion to campaign (as Manny Villar says is necessary) or announce that he is waiting for the masses to call him to serve (as Loren Legarda now claims). No, Chiz says Chiz is different, he is simply “not going to think about running or not running,” will “simply go with the flow,” as if the decision to run a nation had the same importance as deciding whether to get Wendy’s over Jollibee. But that is not the point of this column, as you may suspect if you’ve read this far, there is no point, only writing.
Let me tell you where I am. I am sitting on a couch stolen from my mother’s living room, and am happy to report the half-smashed chocolate bar I excavated from under the grimy blue cushion. The walls are green, the curtains are white, and the linoleum floor is ripped and stained from stoves thrown in temper and what appears to be radiator fluid. There are tricycles rampaging under the window. At the corner unit, a woman is drilling through her walls with a power saw for the third time this year. My ceiling is still dripping into the bright red bucket saved from Jollibee takeout chicken strategically positioned on my bed. It’s drip and rip and bang and boom, and there’s not enough onomatopoeia in the world to imitate the racket inside my head.
Understand, there is no other occupation I will choose in the world. I’ll tell you why I write. I write because there are voices inside my head that knock at my temple and scratch at my ears, and typing pounds those words into a keyboard and out of my head. I write even if it means no more than 11 eggs in my refrigerator, two cans of tuna in my cupboard, and a fifty-peso thrift store wooden bust of a Hawaiian princess that sits staring from over my underwear drawer. I write to know what I’m thinking, or not thinking, or pretend not to be thinking, and to justify the moments of irrationality that cannot believably be attributed to PMS. I write because I am 23 in a country going mad, and if I do not write I cannot pretend I am not part of the madness. Mostly I write because arranging constellations of words on blank pages gives me an odd sort of thrill – the same thrill I get when I use a word like “constellation” – and because I do not know where to find mountain lions.
This is the entrance to my old studio apartment in the family house in Bantayan, Dumaguete City. I love this place. I have great memories living here. But we're renting this out. See the rest of the studio in my Photobucket. And if you want more information, text or call (035) 422-3236 or 09065121336. (That will be my mom answering.)
11:12 PM |
Two Poems for Fr. Rudy Romano on the 24th Year of His Disapperance
The Bells Count in Our Blood By Merlie Alunan
Every night at 8:00 we shall ring the bells for Father Romano, and we shall continue to do so until he is found. — The Redemptorist Community Dumaguete City September 1985
Every night just as we settle To coffee or a mug of cold beer, They ring the bells— A crisp quick flurry first, then Decorous as in a knell, ten counts. Into the darkness newly fallen The cadence calls for a brother lost.
At home as we try to wash off With music and a little loving The grime of markets from our souls— The day’s trading of truth for bread, Masks of honor, guises of peace— The clear sounds infusing the air Deny us the salve of forgetting.
We know for what they lost him, Why expedient tyrants required His name effaced, his bones hidden. As we bend over the heads of children Fighting sleep, not quite done with play, The bells vibrating remind us how Our fears conspires to seal his doom.
We could say to the ringers: Your bells won’t bring him back, But just supposing that it could, What would you have? A body maimed, perhaps, beyond belief— Toes and fingers gone, teeth missing, Tongue cut off, memory hacked witless.
The nights in our town Are flavored with the dread The bells salt down measured From their tall dark tower. It falls upon our raw minds wanting sleep. Shall we stop them? Though we smart We know they keep us from decay.
Shared in this keening, A rhythm beating all night long In our veins, truth is truth still Though unworded. The bells Count in our blood the heart of all We must restore. Tomorrow, we vow, Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.
Twenty Four By Anthony L. Kintanar
The street has its usual noises, The hustle and bustle, The ebb and flow Of traffic and people. No signs of the scuffle And what was taken here, No fallen motorbike. No arguments beyond the commonplace Ones between vendor and police, Driver and passenger. The bells have gone silent After twenty four years. But I remember. I remember you, Rudy, And how you tried to show That salvation lies not in the bread And submission given Before the pulpit but is shaped In lives lived in struggle and dignity Amidst tyranny And convenient resignation. I remember. And my children will remember.
Fr. Rudy Romano [was abducted and disappeared in Tisa, Labangon, Cebu City] on 11 July 1985. It has been  years now since people last saw him, but he continues to live in the memories of the people who have been a part of his life -- the example he taught and left behind is still remembered. Fr. Rudy was one of those who strongly fought against Marcos’ dictatorial regime in the Philippines. He fought it by never giving up his quest for justice and peace, and by serving the poor. He also shared conscience towards genuine freedom, especially among the Cebuanos in Central Philippines and the Warays in Eastern Visayas, where he grew up. On the website featuring the Directory of the Professed Members of the Cebu Redemptorist Province (Visayas-Mindanao, Southern Philippines), Fr. Rudy’s name is at the very bottom of the page. His status: Alive but Missing. (By Maria Lourdes Alfaro–Alorro from the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances website)
These days, I am thinking deeply about movies again.
I can’t help it.
Because after a few years of not doing so, I am once again teaching a course in film in Silliman University’s College of Mass Communication—and there’s nothing like a teacherly preparation factor to revive an old passion. (My students’ final project is to individually direct a short film, which I have told them to mount in a mini-film festival of their own making at the end of the semester. It’s a big challenge, and they are all scared by the idea—but I always tell them to invoke Luc Goddard’s famous plea, that the only way to critique or appreciate a film is to make one.)
Because I have suddenly found myself writing a new screenplay, for a movie set in Dumaguete, after years of fits and starts. (My poet friend J. Neil C. Garcia once quipped to me recently, “Literature is dead. The future’s in the movies.”)
And because only a few weeks ago, the Cinemalaya Organizing Committee invited me to sit in a panel for the Cinemalaya Film Congress scheduled later this month where I am to talk about “Indie Filmmaking in Dumaguete.” (And the first question that came to my head was, “Is there any?”)
But I have always loved the movies.
Yet you can also always say, “Who doesn’t?” Quite honestly, I know there’s truth in that retort. Because film may be the truest democratic art form today: it is, after all, a painstakingly-wrought symphony of many other art forms (from performance to design to music), and finally it also tends to level all sorts of human barriers—from class to language—and everybody everywhere else in the world can subscribe to it the way the opera cannot, or a painting cannot. Everybody has their favorite movies, and movies, for the most part, become portal to our deepest fantasies. As Edward Behr once famously said, “Films are our unlived lives unfolding in front of a magic mirror.”
I have always loved the movies. Truth to tell, it was my first love. Before I even deigned to become a teacher or a writer, and before I had that first pragmatic childhood wish of ending up a medical doctor, all I really wanted to do was the movies. My best childhood memories, first in Bayawan and later on in Dumaguete, often consist of separate flights of fancies in the darkness of various movie theaters, the only thing constant being the feeling of being enraptured by the flickering, moving lights set before my eyes. I don’t exactly remember the face of the person I had my first kiss with—I think it was with a girl named Kate, who lived in the apartment next to ours in my old neighborhood along Sta. Rosa Street, and I was only six years old—but I still remember, down to the details, my first movie experience. It was Irwin Allen’s The Swarm, in 1978, and I was only three years old. I can still vividly recreate that atmosphere of terror and ecstatic joy which I felt in equal measure in the middle of a small theater, an affair called Oriente, in Bayawan, which is now only a faded shadow of its former self.
Later, still in grade school and high school, I made myself a cineaste, a self-educated one, and I voraciously read up on books on film technique, film history, and film theory. I began reading the intelligent criticism of Roger Ebert and Paulene Kael and David Bordwell when I was thirteen. I picked apart screenplays and montage techniques. I studied auteur theory. I began watching the Oscars earnestly the year when Kathy Bates won Best Actress for Misery and Jeremy Irons won Best Actor for Reversal of Fortune.
I became a mad borrower of obscure film titles—first in Betamax, and then in VHS—in an unassuming video store near the Dumaguete public market called Good Luck Store, from which I learned to carefully watch movies made by Martin Scorsese, Jim Jarmusch, Quentin Tarantino, Neil LaBute, and other directors whose films you won’t see displayed today in VideoCity. (I’m not sure the Chinese owner of Good Luck Store knew he had all those titles—most of them terribly great but also terribly uncommercial. I mean, who would rent Kevin Smith’s Clerks? Larry Clark’s Kids? Steve James’ Hoop Dreams? Terry Zwigoff’s Crumb? David O. Russell’s Spanking the Monkey? Gregg Araki’s Doom Generation? Save maybe me?)
I swallowed movies day and night. When I was finally in college, I became president of Société de Cinephiles, the only film society (now defunct) in Silliman University, and we invited the Japan Foundation to stage Eiga Sai in Dumaguete, where we introduced locals to Isao Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies. We invited the French Embassy to do a François Truffaut mini-film fest in AVT1. We screened films from Iran and Vietnam and China and HongKong before anyone in Dumaguete heard of Majid Mahidi’s Children of Heaven or Tran Anh Hung’s Scent of Green Papaya or Zhang Yimou’s Raise the Red Lantern or Wong Kar-Wai’s Chungking Express. We studied films by Lino Brocka, and Ishmael Bernal, and Mike de Leon. We dissected Hollywood film noir. We had weekly film screenings in my old apartment in Bantayan, where we watched all sorts of weird movies like James Bidgood’s Pink Narcissus and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salo. In retrospect, I think we gave the country the first ever gay and lesbian film festival, in 1995, before anyone else did. (We were always pushing the envelope. Once we had to fight a teacher who complained that Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine was pornographic. It isn’t.)
Finally, I directed my first short film—a hysterical drama titled Trahedya sa Kabila ng Liwanag—which can only be found in VHS, and hopefully rot away to mold heaven.
Sometimes, these days, I would wonder: where did I find all that time to do all of those? Chalk it up to the irrepressible energy and defiance of youth.
And then I stopped. Because life happened. But there is finally no getting away from the old enchantment of childhood. The truth of the matter is, once one becomes a cineaste, one will always remain a cineaste.
And yet one must admit, however, a scaling down of old passions: adulthood, after all, requires such sacrifices—which may be its greatest tragedy. The wanton days of hunting down obscure movie titles in even more obscure outlets and video rental stores, the sleepless nights devouring cinematic gems (and busts)—all that must wane a bit in the light of adult responsibilities. The consuming life becomes work, and cinema becomes the abandoned mistress. It is something we nevertheless revisit once in a while, on weekends and sick days. Sometimes we have gloriously rebellious days when we just want to do a staring down contest versus an avalanche of work and what-not, and we turn on the DVD for the now impossible march towards a fuller film education. (“There is that Bergman, that Altman, that Brocka, that Kurosawa I have not watched yet! That Buñuel, that Sirk, that Gosiengfiao!,” we scream, sometimes, in defiance.)
And so we return to the movies again and again despite everything, if only because it is a recognition for what once made us beings capable of fantasy and delight. In that flickering light is home, and no amount of numbing reality can ever deny that.
3:53 PM |
This Weekend in Culture and the Arts in Dumaguete : Pianist Jovianney Emmanuel Cruz in Concert
Pianist Jovianney Emmanuel Cruz headlines the second concert of the Silliman University Cultural Affairs Committee’s 47th Cultural Season in “Fortissimo: A Celebration of 40 Years of Performances.” He will perform tonight, 10 July 2009, at 8 PM at the Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium. The evening's repertoire includes F. Josef Haydn's Sonata in F Major, HOB. XVI: 23 (in memory of the composer’s bicentennial anniversary of his death), Felix Mendelssohn’s Variations Seriéuses, Op. 54 (in celebration of the composer’s bicentennial birth anniversary), Frederic Chopin’s Scherzo No. 2 in b-flat minor, Op. 31, and Anton Arensky’s Piano Trio No. 1 in d minor, Op. 32 (with violinist Jareena Inacay and cellist Antoni Josef Inacay).
Cruz is the most internationally awarded Filipino concert pianist. He was a prizewinner in the Jose Iturbi (Valencia), the Pilar Bayona (Zaragoza), the Concurs Internacional Maria Canals (Barcelona), and the Jaen International Piano Competitions in Spain, the Frinna Awerbuch International Piano Competition in New York, the Rina Sala Gallo International Piano Competition in Milan, and the International Competition for Piano and Orchestra in Sicily. He has also won First Prize in the Bergen Philharmonic Solo Competition, the Haddonfield Symphony Solo Competition, the Queens Symphony Soloists Competition, the New York State Music Teachers Association, and the Five Towns, Great Neck, and Port Washington Piano Competitions. He has performed as soloist with the Manila Symphony Orchestra, the Manhattan Philharmonia, the Queens Symphony, the Bergen Philharmonic, the Maracaibo Symphony, the Orquesta Municipal de Valencia, the Philharmonic Orchestra of the State of Oradea, the Uni-Orchester Säarbrucken, the Orquesta Sinfonica de Tenerife, the Orquesta Filharmonica de Gran Canaria, the National Symphony Orchestra of Malaysia, the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra, and numerously with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also amassed hundreds of solo recitals and chamber music collaborations, and constantly conducts master classes all over the world.
A former child prodigy, Mr. Cruz began his piano studies at the age of three with his mother, Lourdes L. Villanueva-Cruz. At age 6, he was invited to give a command performance at the Malacañang Palace and at age 10, he made his orchestral debut with the Philippine Youth Orchestra after winning First Prize in the National Music Competitions for Young Artists. The Young Artists Foundation of the Philippines granted him a scholarship for piano studies abroad, first at the Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, England, and at the Manhattan School of Music in New York where he was a pupil of the eminent piano pedagogue Solomon Mikowsky.
At the Manhattan School of Music, Mr. Cruz was a winner of both the Preparatory and College Divisions Concerto Competitions and a recipient of the Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation, the Elva Van Gelder, and the Anne-Marie McDermott Memorial Scholarships. He received his Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees in Piano Performance, and was awarded the Harold Bauer Award, the most coveted given to a pianist with the highest honors at the Manhattan School of Music.
His participation in music festivals in New York, Germany, Spain, and Malaysia, has given Mr. Cruz critical acclaim. Audiences describe his solo recitals as “sublime”, “colourful”, and “fantastic”, and his performance of Samuel Barber’s Piano Concerto was praised as “…technically impeccable”. The New Straits Times called his rendition of Mozart “…a thrilling performance of an exquisite interpretation…showed his artistry, his finesse, and his sensitivity as a pianist. He made the piano sing from the first note to the last, every nuance and every phrase beautifully executed.” Mr. Cruz also received rave reviews as the featured soloist in the Toyota Classics 2006. He was invited as a Juror in the 1st ASEAN International Chopin Piano Competition held in Kuala Lumpur and was the first Filipino to be an Adjudicator in the Hong Kong Schools of Music Festival’s fifty-eight years of existence.
As a mentor, Mr. Cruz has produced prize-winning students, while as an artistic director and concert producer, he is one of the pioneers for the renaissance of Classical Music awareness in the Philippines. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of OPUSFEST 2006: The 1st International Piano Festival Philippines, OPUSFEST 2008: The International Piano & Chamber Music Festival Philippines, the Ultimate Pianist Competition, and FILFEST --- a season of concerts held at the Insular Life Theater, the newly established cultural center in the south of Metro Manila.
In 1996, President Fidel V. Ramos conferred on Mr. Cruz The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) Award for his contribution to the Arts. The Philippine Star has labeled Mr. Cruz as “The Magnificent Cruz” while the Philippine Daily Inquirer has dubbed him “…one of the greatest pianists the country has ever produced!”
About the Violinist
Jareena Inacay received her first violin lessons at the age of 6. In 2003, she obtained her Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance as a Battig Scholar at the St. Scholastica's College of Music where she studied under Professor Arturo Molina. In 1990, 1996, and 2003, she won the National Music Competitions for Young Artists (NAMCYA) in Manila. From 2001 to 2003, Ms. Inacay was a member of the Jeunesse Musicales World Orchestra and in 2004 the German Youth Philharmonic Orchestra where she performed with eminent conductors such as Jakob Kreizberg, Roberto Paternostro, Daniel Inbal, and Adam Fischer. Ms. Inacay rececently obtained her Master of Music degree in Instrumental Pedagogy, majoring in violin under the tutelage of Professor Ulrich Groener, at the University of the Arts in Zurich, where she was a scholar of the "Freundeskreis der Musikhochschule", "Bruno-Schuler Stiftung", and the National Commission for Culture and Arts.
About the Cellist
Antoni Josef Inacay is a Bachelor of Music graduate from St. Scholastica’s College and was a constant awardee of the Sr. Baptista Battig scholarship. Starting cello lessons at the age of 10 under the PREDIS program, his cello teachers include Amador Tamayo, Wilfredo Pasamba, and Renato Lucas. Mr. Inacay joined the Asian Youth Orchestra twice in 2001 & 2002, and the Southeast Asian Youth Orchestra in 2005, where he was chosen as the principal cellist. It was also in 2005 when he won First Prize in the National Music Competition for Young Artists (NAMCYA, Violoncello Category C). He has taken masterclasses with world renowned Artists and pedagogues such as Professor Klaus Kanggiesser and Claudio Bohorquez, to name a few. Mr. Inacay is an active and versatile musician, playing music ranging from Classical to Commercial Rock. He is a regular guest in Chamber Music concerts and recitals, performing with various chamber ensembles. Currently, he is the Principal Cellist of the Manila Symphony Orchestra, and works full time with his alternative-rock band called Silent Sanctuary, where he plays an electric cello.
TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE AT P200, P400, AND P500. TICKETS AND SEASON PASSES FOR LUCE AUDITORIUM SHOWS ARE NOW AVAILABLE AT THE COLLEGE OF PERFORMING ARTS OFFICE, THE LUCE AUDITORIUM OFFICE, AND AT THE THEATER LOBBY BEFORE THE SHOW. FOR INQUIRIES AND TICKET RESERVATIONS, PLEASE CALL (035) 422-6002 LOC. 520.
Over a month ago, Imelda Marcos -- longest running first lady of the Republic of the Philippines, the butterfly-sleeved half of the conjugal dictatorship, the woman whose signature had once led Sotheby’s to cancel a two-day auction after she bought the whole collection with a $6 million check (and then attempted to buy the apartment where it was kept) -- announced to the national press that she was penniless.
“I have nothing, I have no money,” she said while wiping tears at the anti-graft court as she begged for her jewels back. She castigated the government for continuing to prosecute the graft cases against her, a full 23 years after she and her husband were driven out of power.
“Justice delayed is justice denied. What is my crime? Why is it that until now I’m still being prosecuted? Is this really how the justice system works in this country?” she asked. “I did so many projects for this country -- the Heart Center, Lung Center, Kidney Center -- and I am being punished for it.”
The former first lady is not exaggerating when she speaks of the many projects attributed to her 20-year reign. In 1975, she built 14 luxury hotels for the International Monetary Fund Conference with $500 million in government loans, at a time when only $13 million was spent on public housing. The state-of-the-art Heart Center for Asia, of which she is proud of to this day, had a total of 100 beds and cost millions even when tuberculosis and malnutrition were the leading causes of death in Metro Manila. She defended her projects by claiming they were a source of national pride, “to show the world that see, we have a pretty face."
“I just want to help this country,” she said in her recent press conference. “That’s my only goal: to help the poor. Just give me a chance -- to love. But why are they doing this to me? I’m the one who’s guilty because I loved?”
In 1985, Imelda decided that the way to remove the hundreds of squatters obscuring her beautiful Manila landscape was to create incentives for them in the countryside. On a Cavite hilltop, she had installed hundreds of toilets, on the mistaken assumption that indoor plumbing was reason enough to stay on a deserted hunk of land without jobs or homes.
On her 80th birthday, Sofitel Hotel sponsored a grand celebration for the destitute, diamond-ringed former first lady. She did not, as she did in 1979, have a planeload of sand imported from Australia (for the opening of a beach resort) or have 3,000 laborers rebuild an entire seaside village at government expense (for her daughter Irene’s wedding). She did, however, have presidential hopefuls Bayani Fernando and Dick Gordon on, along with half-a-dozen former Supreme Court justices and two dozen constituent assembly voting congressmen, all happily clapping to Madame, who “glided down a red carpet, surrounded by little girls in white dresses carrying bouquets of roses and trailed by tuxedo-wearing violin and flute players who rendered her favorite love song.”
Just recently, former Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez suggested the immediate return of the Marcos jewels to Mrs. Marcos. In 1978, a Cartier representative in Hong Kong said Imelda Marcos had the world’s largest collection of gems. It is true that no court has pronounced the Imelda jewelry ill-gotten. It is also true that in most cases, the Aquino government -- and subsequent administrations -- failed to put in force proceedings.
Most cases for the return of the Marcos wealth to the national government, including the Imelda jewels, have been dismissed. Former Senator and former Marcos Minister of Information Francisco S. Tatad claims that Imelda’s ownership of the jewels stands uncontested -- which may be the case, not because she owns them, but because we failed to acquire them when we could. Yet the possession of her jewels does not make her a “miracle of purity” as the brass plaque says under one of her many, many commissioned portraits. It makes her an 80-year-old woman who got away with some of the most reprehensible acts in world history, a woman responsible for a lost generation and whose continued vulgar display of wealth and power is a constant reminder of the weight of debt we continue to carry to this day.
When the Marcoses arrived in Hawaii in 1986, they had with them 32 boxes, crates, attaché cases, and leather Louis Vuitton and Gucci bags. According to US Customs records, there was a $58,286 tiara of pearls and diamonds; a $44,410 diamond-studded hair comb; a matched set of bracelet, earrings and brooch in sapphires, rubies and diamonds priced at $1,487,415; and an emerald and diamond pendant worth $74,825. One red russet suitcase alone held 93 pieces of jewelry, while other bags contained handguns, watches, and millions in freshly minted cash.
“You have to show them how to be a star,” she said once, when asked why she did not choose to be less extravagant for the sake of the public. “You have to show them how to be good, how to make beautiful things. You are some kind of model. This is very important, especially in a developing country. Everybody is in the gutter. Everyone’s poor. Don’t tell me we should go there and all look poor. It’s ridiculous.”
In an 80th birthday tribute, Tatad waxes eloquent over the Madame and says the media is harsh on Ms. Marcos. He claims the courts are afraid of negative media opinion, that they are limited by the idea that it is not “politically correct” to approve of the woman who calls herself “my little people’s star and slave.”
For many years, all over the world, the fall of the Marcos dictatorship was a morality play: the vicious king and the vainglorious queen, the diamond-studded stiletto heel resting on a pile of rotting bodies, the reign of terror cut short by a people rising to revolution. And yet in this pearl of the Pacific, the deserving are rarely held accountable once the curtain goes down. Murderers are awarded offices in Congress, the blessing of convicted thieves determine the future of a would-be president, and woman who had a newspaper’s distribution halted after it named her sixth most admired in the nation (Jesus Christ was No. 9) gets to announce to the national media decades later that she feels “vindicated,” and that all she wants is “to devote myself to helping the Filipino people.”
The media is not harsh. It is not harsh enough, if young children reach out to touch the skirts of the statuesque woman with a diadem of glittering stars in her hair, if Bayani Fernando can announce with pride that his goal is to create Imelda Marcos’ City of Man, if senators dance at her birthday and friends publish odes to her beauty and bravery on the front pages of national dailies.
Originally published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer as "The Woes of Ms Marcos." Reference: Imelda: Steel Butterfly of the Philippines by Katherine Ellison
Just the other day, a friend taking up her MA texted me for permission to use my Facebook status updates for her research. I gave the request an amused pause. My creative output—in blogging and in short stories—have been fodder for graduate work before, but this was completely new. And so I texted her: “Sure, no problem. But it makes me wonder: am I that much of a Facebook addict that I have actually become a case study?” She texted back a smiley, and said, “Let’s just say, the things you have to say are very interesting.” Thank you very much.
Once I told a friend, “If somebody compiles all my status updates in Facebook into a book, that already amounts to my biography.”
It’s true. I seem to have grown an affinity to broadcasting to the online world whatever momentary craziness grips me—and what is perhaps scarier is that nobody’s complaining. The one 24-hour period when I deactivated my Facebook account [there is no such thing as “delete” in Facebook] in an unsuccessful resolve to have a more engaging offline life resulted to many email and text messages from friends and acquaintances asking for my whereabouts. And begrudgingly—and (secretly) gladly—I returned to Facebook. It has become so much a part of my life, and my friends’ lives. It can become addicting, and so the trick becomes this: how to exactly balance this with the rest of your waking life.
I like status updates, whether in Facebook or Twitter. In brief messages (140-characters is the limit in Twitter), you basically answer a simple question: “What are you doing now?”
In the past 24 hours, for example, these have been my status updates: “[Ian] is always breathless after beholding beauty. It’s so fascinating—to see all that work of divinity dancing on your face :).” “[Ian] just got back from his swanky new gym with a good view of Dumaguete. Had no idea he was doing his workout with the wrong form before in the old one. Grrrr.... Oh well. Here's Date Night!” “[Ian] wishes Facebook had ‘In a Non-committed Pseudo-Relationship Because Why Ruin a Good Thing By Being Officially Hitched and Then You Start Demanding Too Much of Each Other?’ for a Relationship Status. Too wordy, perhaps?” “[Ian] just broke his perfume bottle. Now my room smells of citrusy fantasy.” “[Ian] needed that power nap. Now back to work. [Brewing coffee first.]” “[Ian] is still playing catch up with his life. And wonders when this whole thing will ever settle down.”
And the comments from friends pour in, creating a virtual community of voices, an ongoing conversation that sometimes prove more interesting than the original status message.
What are you doing now? What can be more existential than that? As a fan of Sartre, the whole confessional platform had me hooked from the get-go. Most of my friends, too, have taken to status updates to inscribe the mundane and the inspired in their lives. Often they are very witty. Even when they declare they’re bored, they can be witty. And gradually, because we see an almost real-time development of a friend’s day, a sense of familiarity, even kinship, develops. I must say I understand most of my friends and their quirks now, simply because of Facebook and Twitter status updates. In a sense, they are the Web 2.0 equivalent of introspection, albeit done with the entire world as an audience. It is not for everyone—but for those who know how to work it, it is the one Internet craze that makes us all feel connected, and human.
Sometimes though, I ask myself, What did I do before there was Facebook status updates? I scoured my computer’s hard disk drive, and found that I actually scribble short notes about my days, sometimes to just make sense of something that had recently happened, or that has impacted me deeply. I’m not sure I wrote these down to become fodder for future essays—but they are short, and in many ways they make a life. A sampling:
On Living in a Cyber Glass Cage. There are many things in life one does not blog about. Which begs the question: for whom do we blog? For ourselves? Or for the rest of the online world? This is supposed to be my journal, a very important part of myself because blogging allows me to weigh the ideas I have, or the stories I need to tell, complete with that welcome mechanism of instant feedback from my audience of two (or three)—but the public nature of blogging, I know, basically censors my tendencies to complain, to be snide about things, to be graphic about adventures nobody talks about in polite society. And yet, despite that, I still pursue this very public of exercises. And often for the strangest reasons, too. Moments, Merely once said that conventional blogging has become a blah ritual of personal angst openly displayed. Which is true: I barely blog about my happy moments; I barely even blog about my adventures, about my “exciting” offline life. I blog only when I am alone, when I am deep in thought, when I am troubled. I guess this whole thing has become my proxy for therapy, with the world as my psychiatrist. Sometimes, I think, I dot this from primal urge to live in a glass house. Maybe I like being the object of voyeurism. Maybe I am just full of myself. Maybe...
The Caregiver of Shit. I have friends who pay good money to enroll in Caregiver School. Some come from rich families. Others are professionals, and quite well-educated. One is a U.P. graduate. I know several who are known for being sosyal. I have one very good friend who makes very good money teaching other people how to be a caregiver. The one thing I have gleaned from these friends and acquaintances is this: it’s not about caring or giving at all; it’s about getting out of a certain hell-hole. (You have to be naïve to think otherwise.) Sometimes, we even sell our souls to the Devil just to be able to get out of here. This is an excerpt from a writer-friend’s blog, the URL of which I don’t think I can tell everybody. Here, my friend gets a call from someone who had just come back to the country: “We met up in a Tomas Morato cafe and there he told me all the horror stories of being a caregiver, and of not lasting the six-month trial period. ‘I cleaned shit from strangers’ butts. Old people with their poo smell and their old people smell. The Americans and Canadians won’t do it, that’s why we Filipinos do it. I’m a college graduate and there I was cleaning the asses of these people I didn’t know and who didn’t know me.’ One time my dear friend wiped some old man’s ass clean and was ready to put on adult diapers. When he came back to the ass, the old man had defecated again, kept defecating the whole day. ‘It was the first time I understood the phrase, the runs.’ He said that among their caregiving ranks in Canada were former public school teachers who got sick and tired of waiting for their delayed promotions and salary adjustments, who had their master’s degrees and were in the middle of their postgraduate studies, but gave it all up to be like himself, washing the poo of old people and then washing the smell of poo from their hands. ’But I’m still lucky,’ he said. ‘One of my kasama when I worked as a service crew wrote to me. He’s based in the United States now. To get his green card, he paid a permanent resident $5,000 to marry him. The fee’s usually $10,000, but he found a kababayan, someone from his province ... you’ll never guess who ... His grade school teacher.” We are in such deep shit.
Sleeping with the Enemy. What is despair, except a quiet secret knowledge that you can do nothing. It is a relentless, unmoving flailing against an unforeseen enemy—yourself, deep in the paralysis that embraces you. You have no idea what keeps you here, in this wretched place of such common sadness, only that you know it is there, and you have no power over it. Despair is a name we give our demons: they sleep with us, and they wake us every single morning, and they embrace us, and in their depraved arms, we sleep like a baby lulled into sweet drowning.
The Heart Above All is a Thing of Astonishing Beauty. I’m amazed by how little moments can give you perfect happiness. I’m having one right now, as I putter about my pad putting right to things messy and what-not. I think about how I am today, and cannot deny the smile on my face. God knows where it comes from. The smell of brewing coffee? The thought of great possibilities that lay before the day? I only have to look at the soft sunshine now outside, coming after a battering rain, and I know for sure that life runs exactly the same way. The trick is to know for sure that there will always be sunshine. There will always be friends. And hope. And most of all, love. I love the feeling of being anchored once more. Like I’m getting to know myself again. And I love the feeling of letting go, of knowing that everything’s gonna be all right.
In the Wee Hours. We heard the first rooster crow in the signs of the coming dawn, and so we finally decided to succumb to sleep, after hours of listening together to songs we both love. But I can’t sleep now though. There are too many things in my mind. Life, for the most part. And beautiful music. And you. You fill everything in my head. A while ago, I told you I can’t exactly remember the date I finally met you last summer. Was that three months ago? More or less? But I can’t bring myself to really care. Calendars have no meaning now in my world, and—to quote Borges—the only thing that matters is that “being with you and not being with you is the only way I have to measure time.” I do remember though that fateful day when you gave me that sweet double-take when I passed by you on that corridor -- a gesture that has led us to where we are right now. Sometimes, I think about how time flies, and how it also crawls, gently, like the passage of truest happiness. How utterly magnificent these days have been.
And that’s the way our lives now go. In short notes. And always in a hurry.
... and I can hear some teenagers replying, "What's a walkman?"
Here's a funny bit from Alejandro Martinez-Cabrera in the San Francisco Chronicle, which I just had to post in its entirety because, well, it's funny:
What better way to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Sony's iconic Walkman than to ask a teenager for some feedback on the device?
The BBC couldn't think of one, and neither can I.
I like to imagine that the experience was similar to an archaeologist rediscovering how a recently excavated artifact was employed thousands of years ago. But I'm well aware that it must have been different for 13-year-old Scott Campbell, who co-edits his own news Web site. For one, teenage impatience must have stood in the place where I fantasize scientific curiosity should have been.
"My dad had told me it was the iPod of its day," Campbell wrote. "He had told me it was big, but I hadn't realized he meant that big. It was the size of a small book."
Sure enough, people on the street noticed the antique clinging from his belt with amusement and friends on his school bus were quick to come up with some witty remark.
Campbell went on to criticize the portable cassette player's size, appearance, functionality and the "hissy backtrack and odd warbly noises."
Even when he discovered the cassette had more music on the other side (it took him three days), Campbell was still disappointed it could only hold a small fraction of what an iPod can.
"Did my dad ... really ever think this was a credible piece of technology?"
The National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the National Committee on Literary Arts (NCLA), and the Ateneo Institute of Literary Arts and Practice (AILAP) are now accepting manuscripts for the UBOD Series 2009. Twelve writers who have not released book-length titles will be given a chance to have their first book published under the UBOD New Authors Series. Four manuscripts written in four languages of each of the three major Philippine Island groups -- Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao -- will be chosen. The manuscript (of 20-40 poems or 5-10 short fiction) should be 40-60 pages in chapbook length. [The most exceptional pieces in their manuscript shall be translated into Filipino or English.] Send two copies of the manuscript to the Ateneo Institute of Literary Arts and Practice c/o the Department of Filipino, 3rd Floor Dela Costa Bldg., School of Humanities, Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City 1108. Include a CD of the manuscript and a one-page curriculum vitae with the author's name, contact number, e-mail address, and 1x1 picture. Deadline of submission will be on 15 August 2009. For inquiries, please e-mail email@example.com or call 426-6001 loc. 5320-5321.
One of our favorite local graphic novelist is now a filmmaker! Arnold Arre (The Mythology Class, Trip to Tagaytay, After Eden, Ang Mundo ni Andong Agimat, and Martial Law Babies) unveils Chapter:-One, his very first short film. He writes about it: "Been toying with the idea that isolation breeds paranoia which is what this story is about." The screening is on July 7, Tuesday night, at U-view at the basement of Fully Booked High Street. Admission is completely free. The running time is 27 minutes. The schedule of the first screening is at 8 pm, and the second screening is at 8:45 pm.
I am playing catch up with my life. Twenty-four hours in a day is never enough for me to be able to finish the things that need finishing. [This was one factor why M. and I kinda had to separate, which is sad... I never had time for him anymore.] A good friend told me over lunch yesterday, "Maybe you should try to simplify your life." It sounds like a perfectly good idea. But I am thinking, Is that even possible? What if your life is just inherently and gloriously chaotic?