Hugo–A Heartwarming Tribute to the Glorious Past of Cinema

5 03 2012

The film Hugo transported me 15some years back–back in my very first Film Art class in college with heart-jolting snapshots of the Lumiere brothers’ Workers Leaving a Factory and Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (A Train Arrives in the Station), Edwin Porter’s The Great Train Robbery, D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance,  Douglas Fairbanks’ The Thief of Bagdad, German filmmaker Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and of course, Fairlyland and A Trip to the Moon by French filmmaker and illusionist, George Melies–one of the central characters in the movie–among many others that I cannot name but vaguely recognize.

Melies, one of the trailblazers in movie special effects, was portrayed by Ben Kingsley.  No one could’ve played the role better.  The film unrolls the story of how one boy’s tenacity to fix an automaton, a tangible reminder of his father’s presence, paved the way for the rightful recognition of one forgotten filmmaker’s contributions to the world of entertainment and dreams.

I had no idea what Hugo was all about except that it’s about a boy who lived in the walls of a rail station. An ex-girlfriend reintroduced me to my love of cinema when we’d watch movies online together. One of her annual traditions is to watch Oscar-nominated films. Hugo was this year’s runaway with quite a number of nominations and awards. I skipped it at first because I had the impression that it was just another Polar Express not that it wasn’t a good movie.

Needless to say, I loved it. It swerved me into one of the greatest Martin Scorsese’s films of all time. Not one of his trademark storylines or styles but obviously one created and crafted for the love of cinema.  It slightly resembles Tim Burton’s treatments, one that Johnny Depp must have seen, which is why he co-produced it.  It pays homage to the glorious but humble beginnings of the industry, one that could get buried in oblivion if none is done. There are undertones of a plea to preserve and a warning that all could indeed be lost.  Truly, Scorsese has outdone himself with this.  His passion for moviemaking is not only very clear in Hugo, it laced every frame of the film.

Written by John Logan basing on the book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick,  this poignant yet pragmatic movie is a must-watch for film lovers and passive viewers alike.  It subtly gives everyone a sneak peek of the golden path of cinema and encourages us to be more appreciative of the lunar milestones that the industry has achieved through the years. Hugo could very well go down in history as one of the greatest films ever made.

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Yet Another Shoutout for Inequality

26 02 2012

So apparently, women in the US would have gotten their blanket protection against violence if not for the introduction of the LGBT and immigration clauses?

Let me just get this right… does this mean women are protected so long as they’re not gay, and have the right papers to prove their citizenship.  Nice.

Wow…

 





Pacman Pounds the Hitman

3 05 2009

The Hitman hit the canvas as Manny Pacquiao showed the world anew who the king of the ring really is. Man! It was one of the best fights I’ve ever seen. Gave new meaning to the phrase sweet and short.

I was a bit worried because I saw Ricky Hatton’s previous fights and let’s face it, Floyd Mayweather Sr.’s taunts can sometimes get under one’s skin. He has never been known for his modesty, sarcoidosis notwithstanding. And Hatton has been one solid bloke with a shining and shimmering boxing record.

But our Manny is no underdog. He has an outstanding record and he has hurt some of the best boxers in the land. When Manny came in wearing a smile, I was somehow appeased. He looked relaxed while Hatton looked so intense, sporting a glare reminiscent of the now familiar Jayke Joson’s look found in almost every Pacman photo op. I wondered if he was being smug about something.

Then it all began. When Hatton fell down after missing a left hook and getting a smashing right from Manny, I was excited but not too confident because it wasn’t the best of punches from the Filipino pride. But when he fell down the second time in the same round, I was a bit relaxed.

The second round came in a blur and what followed was yet another air-punching moment as Manny drove a left hook and Hatton on his butt and on his back eventually. It was awesome! I love the shot. I love the timing. The force was magnificent! But it cut the fight too soon. Darn! I wanted more! But it was great all the same. And I understood what Manny was so smug about. He handled it soooo well.

Manny kicked the Brit’s butt and the butts of all his fans, some of whom were waving the Philippine flag upside down in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. I am pretty sure they’ve a newfound respect for Manny Pacquaio now. Hatton’s fans still sang Hatton’s anthem even when Referee Joe Cortez proclaimed Floyd Mayweather Jr as the winner in the fight that used to be the only one where the Hitman lost. But when Pacquiao won earlier, they looked dumbfounded. Didn’t expect it, did you? And not that fast, huh?

I was just disgusted with Martin Nievera’s singing of the National Anthem. It was out of tune, out of sync and outta here. The National Historical Institute have yet another sermon to give. They should talk to both Nievera and Ney Dimaculangan (6 Cyclemind vocalist—the band’s the main Tanduay endorser, and Tanduay was the main sponsor of the Donaire fight that’s why). I mean, I don’t like it that our song is so rigid with rules and all that, unlike the freewheeling but more heartfelt Star Spangled Banner but it is our song and there is a specific way of how it should be sung.

I wonder if Ricky Hatton will do another Fatton after this fight.

Manny Pacquiao must be reeling. I know I am. He has once again done the Pinoys all over the world proud. Oh, and I hope the vultures who left Batasan for photo ops with the guy will now get back to work.

Way to go, Pacman! Next stop—Valero or Mayweather Jr.

Filipino, Filipino, Filipino ang lahi ko!





Bon Voyage, Kiko Part Deux

11 03 2009

Earlier today, Francis “Kiko” Magalona’s remains were cremated.  He is getting recognition here and there—now that he’s gone.  Too late, huh?  I’ve always followed the man’s life in awe.  I’ve been reading his blog and I’ve been telling my mom about his brilliantly designed shirts and about how cute his kids are, especially Arkin who has played young Dingdong Dantes in Dyesebel and Ang Babaeng Hinugot sa Aking Tadyang, and how amazing it is that people don’t even know that their first two kids are not biologically his but Pia’s alone because Kiko never treated them differently and how nationalistic and patriotic he has been.   And now, he’s gone.  Now, people are also reading his blog.  People are now wearing his shirt.  People now know that he has eight kids. He is also getting awards for his nationalism and love of country.  Más vale tarde que nunca.

In these cold summer nights, I offer you these three songs:

Three Stars And A Sun
Three stars and a sun, in one sky, so high,
I live and die and die will I for my
Motherland this is the land of my birth,
No purse is worth the price of this earth
Can we rise, can we all, hell no!,
Or should we all just take the fall?
Bless the man if his heart and his land are one
…3 stars & a sun!
3 stars & a sun! I’m ready to defend the 3 stars & a sun!
Omission to a mission, transport for the brain,
Packed w/ stacks of tracks built for a train,
I eat lead, but I never let it be said,
“He said, she said,” it makes me see red
‘Cuz I don’t take bullshit & I’m ‘a pack it and push it,
And hit you w/ the full clip
Switch to mode lock-‘n’-load in the land of Juan
…the 3 stars & a sun!
3 stars & a sun! I’m ready to defend the 3 stars & a sun!
Bahay kubo kahit munti, may pula,
Bughaw, dilaw, atsaka puti
There is a need to sow the seed,
Toil the soil and plod until your hands bleed
‘Cuz this land is sacred,
Many a battle have been fought with hatred
Don’t tell me that you understand,
It’s been 4 hundred years of tears
For the brown man,
Still and all the fight has just begun
…3 stars & a sun!
3 stars & a sun! I’m ready to defend the 3 stars & a sun!








Kaleidoscope World
So many faces, so many races
Different voices, different choices
Some are mad, while others laugh
Some live alone with no better half
Others grieve while others curse
And others mourn behind a big black hearse
Some are pure and some half-bred
Some are sober and some are wasted
Some are rich because of fate and
Some are poor with no food on their plate
Some stand out while others blend
Some are fat and stout while some are thin
Some are friends and some are foes
Some have some while some have most
Every color and every hue
Is represented by me and you
Take a slide in the slope
Take a look in the kaleidoscope
Spinnin’ round, make it twirl
In this kaleidoscope world
Some are great and some are few
Others lie while some tell the truth
Some say poems and some do sing
Others sing through their guitar strings
Some know it all while some act dumb
Let the bassline strum to the bang of the drum
Some can swim while some will sink
And some will find their minds and think
Others walk while others run
You can’t talk peace and have a gun
Some are hurt and start to cry
Don’t ask me how don’t ask me why
Some are friends and some are foes
Some have some while some have most
Every color and every hue
Is represented by me and you
Take a slide in the slope
Take a look in the kaleidoscope
Spinnin’ round, make it twirl
In this kaleidoscope world


Cold Summer Nights
I keep on blaming my self
I should have eaten my pride
how can i convince you
its just a matter of time

many times i’ve hurt you
with my foolish ways oh girl
now i know i have to pay the price

is there a way for u to turn around,
turn around and come back baby
ohh baby cant u see

CHORUS:
its been cold summer nights since we drifted apart
cold summer nights since you walked out that door
cold summer nights here on my own
coz i miss you baby, i need you here

RAP:
cold summer nights girl, i really miss you
you rocked my world
i wanna touch you and kiss you
its my fault
i never called you at home
i’m on the phone, wishing you could call
i’m all alone
is there a way for you to turn around and
come back to me
i hope you understand
that i’m your man and together we can
kiss and make up
‘coz you know i cant stand

Repeat Chorus





To Birit or Not to Birit

3 03 2009

This is long overdue but I never found the inspiration to finish my entry until now. I had been listening to Regine Velasquez’s Low Key album (I love it!) when I remembered about the draft that has been sitting in my blog for months.

I was never a huge Regine fan but I went to one of her concerts in the UP Theater in the late 90s.  It was sponsored by one of the orgs in the university and one of my dormmates who was a member of that org urged me to buy a ticket and watch it with them.  And boy, was I glad I did.  Not only can Regine hit those unbelievably high notes, she can really be very engaging.  She’s funny and she’s warm.  So while I still cringe every time I hear the last line of her I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing version, I still admire her big time.

During those times, Regine had the monopoly of the belting arena, with her vein-bursting songs and by hitting those sky-high notes in the local scene.  Watching her do it live leaves one’s mouth gaping and fly-hungry.  Yes, Dulce was already there.  So were Ivy Violan, Dessa, and all those ‘biriters’.   But Regine was different at that time.  She owned the stage and she carved her own niche in the music industry from that time on.  She was the star.  She was the queen.

Through the years, Regine has somehow matured.  While she still goes for those skyscraping notes, blame it on the arrangers, she has now slowly mastered the more melodic and easier-to-the-ears kind of music.  Her music now is cool and minty.  Low Key, the album, is amazing, for lack of better nomenclature.  Me likey!  On her TV performances, she still taps those high notes with her pipes but it’s not as eardrum shattering as it used to be.

Dulce, on the other hand, seemingly busts her vocal chords but not really.  I mean, way back in the late 80s and all through the early 90s, in singing competitions, almost always, Ako ang Nagwagi is a part of the repertoire. When Dulce sings, everybody listens, mouth agape and all.  I heard her sing a few months ago and boy, she can really SING!  There’s something special with the way she sings.  She definitely has a very wide vocal range because when she goes baritone, she really goes baritone!

Then came Lani Misalucha, Bituin Escalante, Sheryn Regis, etc.  These days, we have Charice Pempengco, Sarah Geronimo, Kyla, Rachel Ann Go, and all those singers who make a living by testing the malleability and the elasticity of their jugular veins.  Even young kids who try out for those songfests stretch those vocal chords to their limits.  People think that a good singer is measured by the pitch of his/her voice.  Singers who don’t do a Jennifer Hudson do not get that much applause these days.  Which is sad because they too sing really well.

Come to think of it, this is the same for music industries all across the globe.

I mean, I am in awe of those who can really belt out a difficult song and all but I respect those who can hit all those notes well, low as they may be, as well.  Perhaps, it’s best if we can appreciate all genres and kinds of music.  I mean, I have an eclectic taste.  I like the soothing variety, as well as the upbeat ones, even those that are headbang inducing and those that seem to signal the awakening of the dead.  It’s a pity that aspiring singers these days gear towards a single direction.  And it’s not exactly voice box-friendly.  It ain’t called belting for nothing, after all.





Jumping to Conclusions

8 01 2009

I wonder why people jump to conclusions far too quickly.  I first read about the melee at a golf course in Antipolo that the Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform Nasser Pangandaman figured in from a tabloid.  Yep, I read the tabloids because I like my news unsanitized.  There’s something about this kind of journalism that pumps my blood.  But that’s another story.

So, I read, well, more of scanned, the story.  I wasn’t particularly interested in people fighting in some fancy place when there are lots of more interesting stories to read about, like Hayden Kho’s  homemade porn story for one–err–well, yeah, and a lot more.  Indeed the news about a DAR bigwig’s son who happens to be a mayor of a town in Mindanao accused of mauling someone in a clubhouse was a tad too distracting–not the kind of distraction that one would most likely appreciate on a holiday where everything is splashed with a frenzy of eating, catching up and lazing away.

Where was I? Oh, the messy golf fight.  And I thought they only do those messy ones in clubs not entirely related to golf.  Oh well.  So, I scanned the story.  And I figured, yeah, the Pangandamans did it.  Why?  They’re powerful.  They had bodyguards.  They had guns.  They did it.  They’re Muslims after all.

Then I see Mr. Delfin dela Paz sporting a seemingly rehearsed agonized look on TV every newsflash or two.  I cringe.  There’s something about this guy and with what he has been saying that simply don’t add up.

Then I see another glimpse of Sec. Pangandaman and his son.  Glimpse.  Because they didn’t really stay that long in front of the cameras.  Something about them made me want to know the three sides of the story: that of the Dela Pazes, that of the Pangandamans, and the truth.

So I read Bambee dela Paz’s heartwrenching blog entry.

The mayor of Masiu City, Lanao del Sur talks with my dad. Things get heated up. Voices were raised. But never, in my wildest dreams, did I ever imagine that someone would pull out a punch.  Apparently not [sic]. He attacks my father. His flightmates, maybe 2 or 3 of them, rush to his aid and beat up my father. My 56-year-old father. My younger brother and I could not just watch. We rushed to break the fight. My younger brother pleads to the mayor to please stop it. To not hurt my dad. To just stop. His words still ring through my head…”Sorry na po, sorry na po…tama na…tama na po…” With his hands in front of his chest in a praying position. PLEADING. The mayor socks him in the face. My brother defended himself. My dad is still on the ground getting clobbered. My brother is the same way. I try to stop the fight, but all I can do is stop one person. There were 4 or 5 of them attacking now.

Pretty telenovelaisc huh.  It sounds very persuasive.  So true.  So real.

There’s something about too much drama that puts me off, really.

Now, the other side of the story. As the writer of the blog entry said,

I am posting the incident that happened at the south course of Valley Golf and Country Club that fateful day of December 26, 2008 between the families of Pangandaman and dela Paz. But this is not Delfin’s and his children’s side; I am retelling the details of the incident here on behalf of the Pangandamans.

Not a first-hand account.  Not really reliable but it provided a significant piece of the puzzle.

And now the so-called recap from the so-called independent investigators of the case.

Look, I’m guilty of jumping into conclusions because the Pangandamans are moneyed, in power and Muslims.  I have always been quick to object when people tend to generalize Muslims as evil, bad and ill-mannered.  I come from a place where they live peacefully as traders.  In grade school, I was friends with kids who taught me languages that amused my parents at home.  We may have drifted apart because we lost contact through the years but I have none in my memory lane that can support the idea that they are not good people.  I have learned to respect those who are different from I am. But whether we admit it or not, we have been marred by society’s prejudice.  And so every now and then, I unconsciously succumb to the same prejudiced thinking. I don’t want to justify it but we are not entirely blameworthy.  The exploits of the Abu Sayyaf, the September 11 bombings in the US and all others are not really helping, are they?  But trust me, it’s not something that I am proud of and every time I can, I try to work on it because deep inside me I know that they do not have the monopoly of being bad.

Having said that, I believe we have just judged the Pangandamans right away because of that.  I’m sure no one would admit so.  I would.  I’m sure in one of those unguarded moments, most of us have either uttered or thought of something about them being guilty because they are Muslims.  Because Muslims can be really fierce–as if non-Muslims don’t get ferocious and reckless in the heat of the moment as well.

I’m not saying that they are not guilty.  But knowing that they have guns, small ones and big ones, and the fact that they practically outnumbered the dela Pazes, I can only surmise that the restraint that they summoned at that time is way beyond commendable.  I mean, let’s face it.  If they wanted to hurt the dela Pazes, they could have done more damage than what has been reported.  And if they wanted to hurt the dela Pazes, why did Hussein, Nasser Pangandaman Sr.’s other son suffer serious injuries as well? They were obviously with their so-called goons.  So why didn’t they let them do the dirty work?  I was moved at the fact that he got involved in the scuffle when the older dela Paz poked his brother with an umbrella.

Come to think of it, the 14-year-old dela Paz hit Hussein with a driver.  If it were in defense, it wouldn’t have fractured the latter’s hand.  And this Bambee girl who has become an overnight sensation because of her tearjerker of a blog entry, didn’t she figure in the fight as well?  Yeah, she defended her dad but how come they never asked the people around them for help?  Or just pull her dad out with all her might?  Or shield him with her own body?  Come on, the normal first move for someone’s companion who has been allegedly mauled is to try to stop the fight, scream or even go between the assailant and the loved one.  Something simply does not add up.  And her story, albeit really poignant the first time you read it, has far too many holes in it.

I am annoyed at how the ages of the older dela Paz and his son are seemingly used to portray them as the underdog.  A 14-year old kid with a good swing is not entirely incapable of doing any damage.  We’ve heard of 8 year olds and 11 year olds who go on shooting frenzy and kill many of their friends in school in cold blood.  I have 8 nephews and nieces.  I know what kids younger than 14 can do.  My mom’s 71.  She still kicks my ass in a lot of things.  My dad, at 74, in his paralyzed condition can still make me feel bad about a million and one things.  And 5-10 years ago, he was still a “terror” in some ways.

But really, what did the golf course’s security people and management do?  I’m sure they didn’t expect such a ruckus to ensue but hey, in this day and age, anything can happen, like wives in their housedresses who storm in with knives from the other side of the fence, for instance.

It’s so easy to say that the Pangandamans have the moral ascendancy because they are public figures.  The same way we look disapprovingly at celebrities who do not smile at their fans after a long day of film shoot, or get annoyed at paparazzi.  The same way we look disapprovingly at clergymen who show some weaker human sides.  Just because they have certain labels and positions in public does not mean they have lost their humanity.  Of course hurting other people is bad, whether one is a public figure or not.  All I’m saying is, nobody’s perfect and as much as we want everybody to be close to perfection, there are certain reactions and stimuli that we simply can’t control all the time.

I want to know the truth.  I may lean towards the Pangandamans now but I still want to know what really happened.  And when the dust clears, I want to see the right thing done.

Yeah, I got hooked on this sappy melodrama as well.  And no, it doesn’t really affect me directly.  However, the idea that every now and then I jump into conclusions because of my own biases or whatnots bothers me a whole lot.  It tells me of the kind of influence my surroundings has on me.  And looking at it from a different angle, it really doesn’t look too nice.





Instant Noodles

26 03 2008

by SIGFREID BARROS-SANCHEZ
(Published in the November 2000 issue of The Engineering Logscript,  the official student publication of the UP College of Engineering)

ibinenta ka sa halagang limang piso
sabay inilubog sa marami-raming kumukulong tubig
tatlong minuto kang pakukuluan
at kapag luto na, hahanguin
saka ilalagay ang mga pampalabok
na hitik na hitik sa mga kemikal
na balang araw ay papatay sa kanila
kung may pera pa, lalagyan ka ng isang itlog
at ilang mga gulay na napulot
sa maputik na kalsada ng Divisoria

ihahain ka sa apat na anak
at aasang mapapatalino mo at mapapalusog sila
accepted ka kasi ng DOH
at may sangkap-Pinoy, sabi ng pakete
hihigupin nila ang mainit mong sabaw
na wala nang lasa sa dami ng tubig
nanamnamin nila ang hibla mo
baka nga naman may naligaw
na totoong chicken o beef
matutulog sila at magkukunwaring busog
bukas, iisipin muli kung saan kukunin
ang ipambibili sa iyo
ano’ng timpla? ano’ng rekado?
anong brand ng instant noodles?

Nissin’s, Maggi, o Lucky Me?

ibinenta tayo sa dayuhan sa halagang mamiso
na naglulubog sa ekonomiya sa kumukulong mantika
minu-minuto kapag pinakukuluan
sa suweldong hilaw at madaling hanginin
bibilugin tayo ng mga pangakong mapalabok
habang sa trabaho’y niluluto sa init at kemikal
na balang-araw ay papatay sa atin
pinararami natin ang kanilang pera at pinalalaki ang itlog
at kapag gulay na ang mga katawan
itatapon tayo sa maputik na kalsada ng Divisoria

pagkatapos, ano ang ihahain sa apat na anak?
paano tatalino at lulusog sa kitang di sapat?
i-a-accept tayo ng DOH
na may sakit-Pinoy, sabi ng x-ray
nahigop na ang baga natin,
halos wala nang natitira at tinutubig
malapit nang namnamin ng uod
ang hibla ng buhay ng bawat isa
at gawing pagkain
ng mga chicken at beef
di tayo makatulog, ni magkunwaring busog
bukas, iisipin muli kung may kukunan pa ba
ng perang ipambibili
ano’ng ipantitimpla? ano’ng irerekado?
kahit na anong brand ng instant noodles.

lucky me nga ba?

When I get the time, I’ll try to write the English translations per line, not that I think that it’s a good idea.  I fear I might not do justice to it.  

Seymour Barros-Sanchez, Meyor to most, is an advocacy filmmaker.  His brother, Sig, is another esteemed filmmaker.  They come from a family of writers and well, wizards too, I’m pretty sure. These guys make me speak in a hushed tone.  What can I say, I’m a fan! I’ll probably make a fool of myself if I’m in their presence so it’s good that I’m not.  LOL.  See?  I’m talking gibberish here!

Meyor said this poem was published in The Engineering Logscript, the UP College of Engineering’s official student publication which he headed for two years. No one kept a copy of that issue and most UP Eng’g majors couldn’t seem to come up with a regular issue of their Logscript since they’re more concerned in dealing with dynamics of rigid bodies so he decided to retype the poem in full for archiving.  I think it’s a good idea.  It’s going to be a “collectors’ item” so I didn’t want to pass up on the chance of being able to post it here. 

Thanks, Meyor for letting me do so.