Friday, December 28

Does anyone know how I can cross all my fingers? I need all the good karma I can possibly earn. Cross, uncross, cross. Cross, cross, cross.
Why am I not surprised that in the span of a few hours after I made my intentions known, after confirming the arrangements and all, I get a call informing me of the The Show's move to another timeslot and thus requires emergency meetings, re-editings and other unnecessary worries at this time of the year? Blast it.

My only consolation is that I am pretty excited about a forthcoming project with some masters of ennui. I can't spill the bile yet, we have yet to sit on it and chew. So that will keep me busy, and oh, it'll be exactly a week until judgment day. So tune in for the good news in a week or so.
My brother and I spent the better part of an hour trying to put together a CD rack I got for Christmas. Now I'm very bad with stuff that requires construction, but I love jigsaw puzzles. The thing is, jigsaw puzzles are obvious: if it doesn't fit and doesn't look quite right, then that piece doesn't go there. CD racks are another thing: I need an instruction manual, or at least good directions. There was no
manual, just smudged illustrations outside the box.

Four hands are better than two, hey. Which reminds me, I need to repossess all the CDs I lent out if I am to at least fill part of the rack. I'm missing videos mostly: Not One Less, The Full Monty, Billy Elliot, Time and Tide, among others. I don't want to lose any of them, because I acquired every single one of them legally -- down with the pirates! I keep tabs now of who I lent which book/CD/magazine to. I already have more than my share of books lent out and never ever returned to me, so I will have to be strict. If you're reading this, and you know who you are, it's time to give them back.
I am getting restless. If the previous plans had pushed through, I should be in Baguio by now, experiencing what turns out to be one of our coldest Christmases in recent years. But I'm still here, marooned in Manila, mainly because my supposed companions don't have their parents' permissions to go out of town, or their lack of funds. Excuses, excuses. I can understand the apprehension to spend, as we are facing a solid economic fallback. "My mommy wouldn't let me go" is something I find difficult to swallow. Yes, we live in a dangerous place, there are terrorists everywhere. Staying at home isn't exactly a safe alternative, so cut out the crap.

My friends have been talking about all this independence shit: moving out, getting a house on our own, travelling, alone. This is about being your own girl. The plan is to accomplish all these in a couple of years' time. But given the way things are, I cannot see any of this taking shape outside of the drawing board if they can't even start with one six-hour bus trip up north.

This doesn't mean though that my mother doesn't give a flying fig about me and my safety. In the past year or so that I've been traipsing all around the archipelago chasing criminals and the occasional evil spirit, I think she has slowly accustomed to herself that I have to venture out there on my own. I cannot stop her from worrying, because there is cause to worry. She would page me and call my headwriter's house just to check if I really spent the night there because we came back too late from a research trip. But I think I can pretty much take care of myself, and not do stupid things -- as I'm not about to stick my neck out too far.

On that note, I hope Vey would finish editing whatever it is she has to do so we can all hop on the bus. I want to go to Sagada. Badly.

Monday, December 24

Make way for the banana girl:

Can you imagine taho without sago?

I thought my friendly neighborhood magtataho just forgot to put them in. But he knows I like sago in my taho. He's given me my bean curd since I was little. But apparently, sago has been banned. Banned. I want to know whose brilliant idea it is to ban those little chewy stuff. The Department of Health must be the culprit, a move following the flu attacks in several schools a few months back, and I understand that borax -- the substance which makes sago a compact little ball -- even in small doses is dangerous for your well-being. So it is. But they can't; they can't possibly banish sago forever. Paano na ang gulaman at sago? Do I have to resolve to making my own taho and underground sago? This is an abomination! My taho feels kulang and naked. They must find how to make sago without borax. They have to. The collective cultural gustatory memory of Pinoy kids is at stake.
If I were a Tori Amos song, I would be Raspberry Swirl from "From the Choirgirl Hotel":

I am not your senorita
I am not from your tribe
in the garden I did no crime
I am not your senorita
I am not from your tribe
if you want inside her
boy you better make her raspberry swirl
things are getting desperate
when all the boys can't be men
everybody knows I'm her friend
everybody knows I'm her man
I'm not your senorita
I don't aim so high
in my heart I do no crime
if you want inside her
boy you better make her raspberry swirl

I know how to charm people and I have a loveable personality. It doesn't quite sound like me. I thought I'd be the carrier single from Strange Little Girls. Hm.
This came after the fact:

A package with protruding wires was found Sunday in one of the buildings in the Greenhills shopping center in the municipality of San Juan, triggering a bomb scare in the busy shopping district. San Juan police said the box was found at the entrance of the Shoppesville building's second floor around 3:30 p.m.

I rarely ever go to Greenhills, and I'd get lost in there if you leave me alone. Sure the bomb turned out to be a hoax, and it didn't happen when my friend Jonnah and I were there Saturday -- blissfully unaware as we went around trying to accomplish something for the party. Blast those damn hoaxers! Blast you!
Instead of going for a mad rush of last minute purchases at the mall, I dragged my friends over to the National Museum of the Filipino People at the old Finance Building in Luneta. I used to detest grade school field trips to museums. All the teachers did was haul and herd us to one diorama after another, and never stopped to explain to us what all those jars were doing there, and why we couldn't pause and just look at the paintings, for chrissakes. I wanted to see more than dead animals which don't look too happy with the way the taxidermist stuffed them, or more dioramas than necessary. I wanted something that you can interact with, and a place where you can at least breathe and not die of an asthma attack.

The new museum first opened a couple of years ago, in time for the centennial celebrations. To deal with the limited budget the government allocates for them, each of the galleries are sponsored by corporations. There are about three galleries dedicated to the San Diego ship wreck, the diving site at Pandanan reef in Palawan. Of course there are more jars than you can possibly see, but what's interesting are the other things found in shipwrecks. On display there are remnants of meals eaten seven hundred years ago: chicken bones and hazelnuts and the weird looking four breasted jar where they put the condiments and stuff. And I also love the cannons. It makes war a more tangible thing. Ten pounds of steel and stone get hurled at opposing ships. If you get hit on the head, I pity you. And yeah, I also like the ornate sword and the heavy metal breastplates.

(I know this sounds like I'm trivializing stuff, but war really is much simpler if you know who your enemies are, when they are right in front of you and the reality of the ten pound steel ball travelling the trajectory from their boat to your head, or the samurai splitting your skull open is much easier to comprehend than planes crashing against very tall buildings.)

You can also know what the bulol looks like when it's not sitting down, via the tribes of the Philippines section. The burial jars kind of creeped me out though -- the faces were like alien beings and one of them had snarling teeth. Sort of reminds me of that halimaw-in-a-jar movie from when I was little. Halimaw sa Banga scared me so much I wouldn't dare sit next to the huge tapayan in my grandmother's house. Closets are less scarier, believe me.

More fun can be had at the music and languages section. You can try playing air guitar or air kulintang and still make music. Or learn how to say "Magandang umaga/Good morning." in Tausug. Aliw! If there aren't too many people around, you can probably goof around as much as you wish. But this was two years ago or so: The museum people don't hound you from room to room. But then when you finally get out, they'll give you huge grins since they can see everything from their security camera.

It's just a shame that not too many people actually go out and visit the museum though, except for the afore mentioned kids on a field trip and tourists. People would rather go out and breathe the same recycled air inside the shoebox confines of the mall. It's bad enough that people would rather die than pick up a good book to read, and then complain that we're dumbing down. We were mostly the only ones this Sunday at the museum though, if you count out the busload of Korean tourists who burst into the San Diego gallery a second after I said I wanted to be a museum volunteer guide. Instant practice! And it probably won't be too long until you see a picture of me, my friends, a group of Korean guys crowding around a huge cannon floating around in the web. ;p

Btw, the Pamana shop at the ground floor also has lots of interesting items for sale aside from the usual trinkets. Got a pair of really cute brush bears which somebody'll get this Christmas. I really had such a good time there. You people should try to go and check it out. The National Museum of the Filipino People is located along Padre Burgos Street in Luneta, Manila. They're open Tuesdays through Sundays, 9am-5pm. You pay a hundred bucks on weekdays, a discount if you have your student ID. But Sundays are for free. So go! It's in the old Finance building, the huge white one across the skating rink.

Friday, December 14

Only one more production shoot for the year, and they keep postphoning it. Darn. So in the meanwhile, I have turned delinquent and spend obscene lengths of time hibernating in bed to make up for lost sleep. As though I'll ever get it back. But I really have to -- sleep, I mean, or else I'll be a grumpy companion, drink fatal doses of caffeine to keep me awake and headbanging on the company Christmas party. It cheers me though that I'm not as worse off as Wynona Ryder, who got arrested for shoplifting and, er, drug possession. She also hasn't slept much either. Yikes.

Saturday, December 8

I am a queen:

I am 65% British, just like
Sir Elton John
Roots in the UK, the rest of your hair is in the US.

Take the brit quiz. Which reminds me, in freshman high, our English teacher required us to have British accents. I miss that fag.
Do androids dream of lesbian sheep? One of the questions in Blade Runner’s Voight-Kampf test had Rachel asking Deckard if he was trying to identify her as gay or human. Anyhow, researchers have discovered sheep with low libido and homosexual rams -- but aren’t sure about the existence of gay ewes.

The gay rams are easier to spot: they have no trouble with expressing sexuality via mounting. Their problem is that no ram wants to play bottom. Lesbian sheep, meanwhile, are apparently wrestling with the “wallflower phenomenon.”
"It's very difficult to look at the possibility of lesbian sheep," Perkins explained, "because if you are a female sheep, what you do to solicit sex is stand still. You don't mount. So, it's very rare that a female sheep would mount another female sheep.”

“Maybe there is a female sheep out there really wanting another female," Perkins speculated, "but there's just no way for us to know it."
Imagine a party where everyone is just standing around waiting for somebody else to ask them to dance. But nobody has the guts to ask anyone. So they all stand around, preen into their mirrors and smoke grass. And yeah, they’re all vegetarian.

Via boing boing.

Friday, December 7

If I were a work of art, I would be Piet Mondrian's Composition A.

I am rigidly organised and regimented, although my cold and unapproachable exterior hides a clever way of thinking and a rebellious and innovative nature. A lot of people don't understand me, but I can still affect them on an emotional level.

In other words, I am a mean square bitch. Which work of art would you be? Take the The Art Test.

Thursday, December 6

Top 12 things Yoda uttereth while making love. You Jedi Master you.
I was held hostage and now I am safe back home in front of my computer. Somehow, the concept of being trapped in a hotel room, doing 12 hour stretches of work, with supervision is still alien to me. Bring back my pajamas, now.

Monday, December 3

I am also waiting for Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums, a film about former child prodigies. Although I sincerely doubt it will ever reach Manila theaters unless it gets nominated and/or wins an Oscar. Anderson is not related at all to Poul Thomas, boyfriend of uhm, Fiona Apple and director of Magnolia which starred Tom Cruise, who is starring in the upcoming Cameron Crowe movie. Vanilla Sky is adapted from Alejandro Amenabar's Abre Los Ojos. I have more faith in the original film, because although Crowe is a capable enough director, he doesn't seem to know how to end his movies. On the other hand, Amenabar also directed Penelope Cruz in the original Spanish version, and has also directed Cruise's former spouse Nicole Kidman in The Others. And if all that six-degrees line of reasoning still fails: Tom Cruise really looks purty in the poster.
I've already seen a poster for Sa tree lex, the true story of a Thai male volleyball team that competes in the national championships in 1996 with a team consisting mostly of gays, transvestites and transsexuals. The US title is Iron Ladies (2000), and whoever is the distributor for this film found a new way to create publicity for the movie:

The poster still features the bodies of the original Thai cast, but the heads have been replaced with those of the Pinoy actors who dubbed the dialogue into what I'll presume to be Filipino. The actors include those typically associated with gay roles: Eric Quizon, Wowie de Guzman, Jeffrey Quizon, John Lapus. Aiza Seguerra will provide the voice of the team’s coach. I cannot find a copy online of the altered poster, but you can find the original right here.
Has anyone out there seen the new Visa commercial with Zhang Ziyi? Kind of Crouching Tigeresque, and it's really kickass.

Sunday, December 2

My capacity to eat meat, particularly pork, has been on the wane for a while. Going all-veggie can be difficult, and I’ll definitely miss my meat. You can only eat so many ketsup-slathered burgers in your life, and when you think about it, everything just tastes like chicken anyway -- or another culture’s best friend is another culture’s lunch.
My attempt to spend Bonifacio Day away from a mall did not succeed. It started fine though, and with lots of happy food: I dragged my girl posse all the way to Diliman for lunch at the fabulous Likha-Diwa sa Gulod. Then we went to the mythical lagoon, where all sorts of, uhm, fossils are said to turn up in the morning cleanups. It was quite crowded though, and most of them were high school kids practicing some really mean dance steps. So we repaired to Odd Manila and just tinkered about. They even have CDs and vinyls now, a café, and even found some cat chimes for a friend.

In the late afternoon though, it seemed like rain. We had some errands though, which we could have bought outside the shoebox confines of a mall. The prospect of zipping around the city in a cab, in the traffic-infested streets was too much. So the mall. I’ve never seen so many goddamned people in my life. I swear, we could all lead less stressful lives if we just spent some time outdoors for a change. But then again, I think I’m allergic to crowds.
Everything is an act, a performance, albeit the masks are carefully chosen. The existence of this blog is a proof of that. But sometimes, even I am amazed at my own gullibility. Of course, it could have been worse. I realize I will always be anxious, so my tag of the moment will have to be: All lies lead to the truth.
Beatle George Harrison died of cancer barely a week before John Lennon's 21st death anniversary.
Have you ever heard of the game Six Degrees of Separation? Now imagine the game in reverse with a sexual twist and try to work out how many people have you really slept with:
If you have slept with, say, 10 people, and they have each slept with 10 people, that means that you are less than two degrees of separation away from 100 people, four degrees away from 10,000 men, and six degrees away from a whopping 1,000,000 sexual partners.
So unless you have been a virgin and plan to be for the rest of your life, you will always be part of somebody else's six degrees. After safe comes safer, but no one way is ever the safest. Just a thought to be considered in our virus filled world.
Everyone seemed to be willing the clock to hurtle past midnight so we could embarrass her by singing off-key, loudly at the already crowded Tapika Cafe in Katipunan. Part of our amusement was trying to spot Jasper (from the cell phone ad) from the horde of teenagers parading past us. After the singing, most of the group started fidgeting, and nodding off. Maybe it had to do with being there early or lack of sleep or we're just plainly getting old. We were all raring to do our Cinderella acts, but it really had been a fun night.

Oh, I doubt if she'd be reading this, but: Happy birthday, G------, who still refuses to tell me the other letters of her name.

Saturday, December 1

In the observance of World AIDS Day 2001, join all the other bloggers, Link and Think: help spread information about the disease, its treatment, those we have lost and those who survive. Because AIDS is not over and because you can make a difference.

Friday, November 30

I'm already late for the picnic thing, I'm doing the live update thing for new viruses, and I'm running water for my bath and checking my closet for clothes I can actually wear. Ah yes, the joys of multi-tasking.

Thursday, November 29

Fried the brilliant moron asks whether teachers should be held accountable for the subsequent dim-wittedness of their students:
“I think it is the responsibility of teachers, and other educators, to evaluate students based on intelligence and competency rather than on regurgitation of textbook mumbo-jumbo. Scientists have taught monkeys, and dolphins, to remember things like sounds, shapes, and words. I think humans, even young ones, should be held to a standard a tad higher.”
True, there is a lot to be said for this country’s state of education as well. It’s not so much as a dumbing down, but perhaps a tendency to be more lax, to allow witticisms and the ability to bluff pass as I sign of intelligence. We only need to look at the kind of game show contestants crowding our television sets. You can be sure that each of those contestants had been in school at one point in their lives, and most of them with college degrees. But given questions that require, in the very least, knowledge of trivia and common sense, they all seem to be newly lobotomized.

It can be argued that game shows flourish for fun and the possibility of earning a quick buck, and I don’t think such questions as “discuss and differentiate the quantity theory of insanity as culled from the text of Will Self and Hedda Gabbler” would figure in prime time television. We may complain and wrinkle our noses at all the game shows, the extra sudsy soap operas, dubbed or otherwise, and proclaim all of these as unspeakably jologs. It is. They are made that way because the target market is specifically and undeniably masa.

Jologs is not an invention or a byword but a demographic: It is the product of research, the countless studies and focus group discussions involving that specific audience. No matter how baduy we may think those shows are, as long as a large number of people watch them with zest, and discuss the plot points on the jeepney or in the MRT, their existence will be assured. The advertisers will continue to sell their products to us in between the gaps, just when you’re on the edge of your seat waiting to see who gets voted out, slapped or raised from the dead.

Elsewhere in jologs land: Mark plays with his Jolina dolls and provides us a backstage view of a formerly leather clad Kris Aquino.
200 inmates were evacuated from a fire that broke out in the maximum security zone of the National Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa. The cause of the blaze is unknown, although it is suspected that an illegal wiring set up by one of the inmates could have caused it. The affected building holds those serving life terms or those awaiting execution. Police Superintendent Tesoro dismissed reports of the being part of an escape plan: "We did a headcount and all of them are accounted for."

Haven’t these guys ever watched a prison movie?
The UP Film Center held a three day Nida Blanca Retrospective which started Monday, 26 November. The featured films showcases Nida Blanca's best performances in over five decades of acting: Nonoy Catindig's Walang Sisihan (1962), a Nida-Nestor comedy; Miguelito, Ang Batang Rebelde (1985), Eddie Garcia's Magdusa Ka (1986), Maryo J. Delos Reyes's Saan Darating ang Umaga (1983).

I caught this evening's screening of Sana Pag-ibig Na (1998), directed by Jeffrey Jeturian from a script by Armando Lao. Sana Pag-ibig Na examines the emotional turbulence that rocks a university professor's family when his infidelity is discovered after his death. Whose loyalty should you choose? Who is the better woman -- your mother or your father's mistress? The professor's wife, their son, and the mistress shift allegiances and learn to live with the harsh situation thrust upon them.

Given that the situation is staple melodrama, the actors turn out very fine and understated performances. Nida Blanca's wronged wife is pitiful, angry, mean and then finally at peace with herself. Gerald Madrid manages to convey the confusion and anger he initially felt at his father's betrayal, and then later the guilt for having befriended his father's other woman. And Angel Aquino is surprisingly non-hysterical in a role that could have ended up in complete shout- and slapfests.

Sana Pag-ibig Na was produced on a shoestring budget as part of the pito-pito movie trend from the late 90s. Although critically acclaimed, the movie never really found its audience. It is therefore a bit sad that the theater was only half full, which could be expected since the university has only a handful of classes on Wednesdays.

Wednesday, November 28

Dubya is watching you: A Durham Tech freshman gets a rap from the Secret Service for alleged "anti-American" paraphernalia in her room. What? Dubya-as-hangman posters aren't allowed in dorm rooms anymore? Via Boing boing.
I was in the Music Museum last night for New Voice Company’s re-staging of The Vagina Monologues when a friend informed me that the Republic of Malate got burned. Both the Music Museum and Roma are owned by singer Kuh Ledesma. In 1992, the Music Museum burned down. It's as though Ms. Ledesma's business motto is burn down the house instead of break a leg.

Monday, November 26

"Ideolohiya! Ideolohiya! Nakakain ba ang ideolohiya?"

I think I had that for breakfast somewhere and spit it out. But I'm not too sure. Let's not discuss this so early in the morning.

Sunday, November 25

Dropped by the blog's guestbook. It's good to know that people out there are actually reading this. Aside from the stalker, of course. If you have any violent reactions, you can leave me a message on the guestbook or send me email. If it still doesn't work, you can resort to mental telepathy.
Hell, I'm all for justice, freedom, and liberty for all. That's what democracy is all about, and I'd rather have all the weird stuff that happens in this country than live in fear of getting dragged out of my house and never be seen ever again. But I'm not going to set myself on fire.
Heard on this afternoon's Twisted on Sunday: The government of East Timor invited U2 to perform at their Independence Day celebrations next May. Whoa. Hm. I wonder if we can have Michael Stipe and the rest of REM for Labor Day or something?
I haven't read Harry Potter, I haven't seen Harry Potter, and I have no plans of fighting for seats inside a crowded theater just to ride the wave. I know that a lot of kids and adults find the books riveting, and that's good. But the mania is just overwhelming: Look at the merchandising. All we need is a toilet line -- they can call it Potter Potties.
I was dangerously close to the edge of boredom this afternoon. My first option was to hop on the next bus to Baguio and crash on the production shoot. It wasn't my episode, nor had I anything to do with the work at hand. But my headwriter was there. Some of the other writers were there. And to top it all, I could save on busfare because the service van was empty, and they were leaving around 9pm. I started scrounging around my room for clothes to last me until Tuesday. So I let them know I was coming, until another writer told me that both of us had to be back by Monday morning because of a meeting. Argh! No sense travelling for twelve hours for a half a day stint. I really just wanted to get out of the house. This is becoming a habit. The buses are just there, waiting. But I found other distractions. It'll do for the moment.
I glanced at some of the older blog entries and discovered to my dismay that I still have lapses in the use of prepositions. It bothers me because things like when to use on/at/in should be a breeze, especially for an alleged English major. There is nothing more annoying than bad grammar. I like words to flow with ease from whoever is speaking/writing. Most of the time, you go with the first thing that comes into your head. Then later on you will realize that there's been a slip, a lapse in tense, aspect or an awkward preposition, you want to slam your head against the wall. How could you have missed that?

It occured to me that perhaps I should take up French again. A foreign language allows you to see things from a different perspective. You will have to assume another frame of mind where a particular language and culture makes sense. Abandon all thought in English, and then it makes sense why "au fond de la salle" is "at the back of the room." Of course. An action continuing, yet to be completed requires a form of verb different from that action that's been long over.

But this presents a handicap: We live in a country with so many tongues that does not in a way resemble French or any of the Romance languages. It would be more pragmatic to take up Cebuano or Ilocano and actually understand what's being said around you. But I've long found out that I can never go beyond saying Para and Magkano ito in any of the regional languages. It's always the wrong curling of the vowels, the hard stump of consonants and nasal intonations. I tried to listen to the flow of the words, and attune myself to the rhythm of speech and syntax, and failed miserably in that pursuit. It makes me feel like a stranger, in my own land, with all the conversation going around me and I couldn't understand why everyone was laughing. There is no other choice but to watch the unfolding of arms, the occasional nod, the knotted brows, or the wide smiles.

This is the downside of being raised in Manila all my life, with no province to go to on summer vacations, of not being let out of the house to play tumbang preso with the neighborhood kids, and learning how to speak Tagalog in preschool. Somewhere here is an anomaly. While I can process both speech and thought in both English and Filipino, the end product is something of a hodgepodge. The thought conceives itself in one language and then comes out as speech in a fractured, two-pronged, broken eludition of words. The flaw manifests itself in the writing: while conversation can sustain the imperfection, seeing the lapse standing out from a page renders the imperfection real and subject to scrutiny. You seek to amend it, and take refuge in the idea that perhaps, the third language will solve the problem. But at the back of your mind, you are resigned to your fate that you will forever be burdened by the confusion of tongues.

Saturday, November 24

It's the fourth week that Pahina goes on replay. Why can't they show a season in its entirety without interruption?
I was having breakfast when I saw the ad: Barbie's Cradle was going to be on the late show tonight. Since then I've been asking people what time it's supposed to go on, but nobody seemed to know. I was already nodding off when I heard the starting riffs of a guitar, like it was something right out of Moonpools and Caterpillars. A couple more, including one from the Handog anthology. It was called Sunday, I think. After the break was a cover of the Deep song by their drummer. I was totally awake by the time they did Money For Food, and I wanted to jump up and down, if only my mom weren't sleeping already. It always sounds different in every performance. I like my music live. Shiny Red Balloon turned out to be their closing song. I was hoping for an interview, but no, nothing. No details about the new album, or gigs, or whatever. They just came in to sing. I don't sound like a fan, do I? But then again, I wouldn't stay up if I weren't.

Friday, November 23

Recently got a slew of email of the Let's Celebrate Thanksgiving Day variety. A girl I know insists that we take pause in consideration of this "special day." Now this would have been fine if I were American, or living in the States or in any of the temperate zones. As it is, I don't consider it a special day that requires religious or national celebration. Thanksgiving is an American holiday of the WASP kind. As far as I know, I'm no White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. I'm descended from a line of working class Pinoys, no hypens included. None of them ever came close to the Mayflower. We don't share the same cultural symbolisms with Americans. It's like snow. No matter how many times you watch Home Alone or Holiday on Ice Castles, or dream of a White Christmas, you can't and won't ever appreciate the codified reaction of someone who has actually experienced snow. We can watch the movie, sing the song, but there is no shared cultural memory, no experience of snow. We live in a tropical country with no snow and no raspberries.* We don't really eat turkey. Therefore it makes no sense for me to partake of turkey and cranberry sauce.

The natural rebuttal to this would be to trot out the old globalisation bit. We all live in one giant global village blah blah. But what does that mean? If you try to be a citizen of the world, disregarding all cultural, social and economic boundaries, what's left is a hodgepodge of people who don't know exactly who they are. In a time when everyone's being pushed to be a cultural sponge, it becomes necessary to retain a distinct national identity. Know their holidays, their language, their pop culture references, their excesses. But I draw the line at celebrating Thanksgiving. To do so would be to bow to cultural imperialism. Or as a guy friend pointed out: We're brown; and they ain't our forefathers. What I really want to say is: Why would I want to take part in a celebration that has no meaning for me? So they can sell me Hallmark cards?

[The snow explanation came from poet-critic Isagani Cruz in one of his columns somewhere. The "no snow and no raspberries" bit is from Butch Dalisay's Killing Time In A Warm Place.]

Thursday, November 22

My headwriter sent me my own spam 19 times. If not for the preproduction meeting later this afternoon, I'd think that the draft I submitted must be that bad.
Philip Medel Jr owns up to the murder of Nida Blanca. More things have turned up, and the bizarre quotient is swiftly escalating. Theories included a casino mafia, an old grudge, insurance policies, a bizarre love triangle. Glenn Chua of Fridae reports a new twist to the story. So is this leading to a forceful coming out or what?

Wednesday, November 21

Entrailsreader is online. I'm not sure if blogging is the next step to posterity, given that servers go down and might eat up your blog. Will it outlast paper and publishers? It doesn't matter. As long as the word is made flesh. Watch out for more tekstong bopis.
Just finished with the white slavery project. Barnone, this is one of the most draining scripts I did. The case itself isn’t that emotionally draining – I have learned to detach and desensitize myself from other people’s pains. What is more difficult is trying to write something substantial when you have to proceed from research which is perhaps the classroom equivalent of borrowed notes. For news and documentaries, it is extremely important to experience the event itself, to be in on the hunt. Watching the news on cable or reviewing another team’s electronically gathered data don’t count. News can survive with soundbytes. But docu-realism takes hours of interviews to achieve a certain kind of veracity to it. You need depth and a sense of narrative. Otherwise, it’s like cutting class for the entire term and then cram on notes which you barely understand. You have a lot of questions to ask, but since you weren’t there, you will have to go with what you have and hope that you don’t flunk.
I've started reading Hubert Selby Jr's fabulous novel Requiem for a Dream the other day. I found it in a Booksale bin, and never let go. Darren Arenofsky's film of the same title was based on this one, with the screenplay also written by Selby. I have nothing but praises for this one, and Ellen Burstyn should have won that Oscar. But we all know who took it home. Feh. Anyway, I haven't seen Pi yet, his first film, but on the basis of Requiem, I'm almost totally sure that it was just as paranoid and disturbing.
Some friends and I were discussing the Star Wars Phantom Edit the other night. Editors and audiences can now stage their own re-imaginings of films via the digital technology and the internet. There are lots of complaints about Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, and JarJar Binks is not the least of them. The Phantom Editor got rid of some annoying JarJar sequences, and even managed to make him seem wise via re-supplied dialogue. I have a sneaking suspicion that Episode 2 might be an even bigger fiasco. Attack of the Clones? It sounds like a B-movie, but I want to see it anyway. I haven't seen the trailer yet, but Mike says that theaters showing Monsters, Inc. would also show the Episode 2 teaser. Count me in on that. On my way home, I get off a block from my usual stop and I nearly ran into a lifesize replica of JarJar Binks standing outside a barbershop. I'm not kidding.

Tuesday, November 20

Yesterday's discovery: Glorietta is just php12.00, 30 minutes away from my house via commute on a really good day. That's good news for me, as I'm starting work on a new show that will most probably meet in Makati most of the time. I have yet to take note of my stops though, and as most people know, I'm horrible with street names, but can find my way around by smelling the air. I have feline qualities. Heh.

Saturday, November 17

With the conviction of Mary Wolstonecraft, I say this verily unto you:
She's alive! Argh!!!
That's all you need to know.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines erotomania as "A delusional, romantic preoccupation with a stranger, often a public figure." Unless I am suffering from a reverse delusional paranoid disorder, I am wont to believe that somebody is suffering from de Clerambault's syndrome. I am not a public figure, heck, I'm not even a semi-celebrity. Please go stalk someone else.
Salon considers 2001 a great year for movies. Crowding the list are neo-noirs, supernatural gothics, dream explorations of the psyche, love stories. Films that mix and bend time and space, films which blur reality and fantasy. The art film resurgence is kicking Hollywood's ass and it feels good. I have no qualms with letting loose my inner elitist tendencies.

Of the films in the list, I've only managed to see Wong Kar Wai's In the Mood for Love. It's a well made, well shot exploration of repressed urges in 1960s Hongkong. There are no flashy experimental quick cuts, no MTV craziness. But it breathes melancholy and lush visuals, and it might just be the best film I've seen this year. Also on the list is Memento, which I have not seen. From the reviews it sounds like Harold Pinter with amnesia.

What troubles me though is that It's nearly the end of the year, and I expect top ten lists of everything soon enough. I'm looking at my list right now and it seems that if things don't change, mine won't even reach ten. My list is a mixture of festival viewings and carryovers from last year's lineup. Requiem for a dream is still way up there in terms of mind blowing sadness and woe. Time and Tide with its frenetic visuals and violence seems like a Tarantino-Wong Kar Wai coproduction, and Booba threatens to be the most interesting Pinoy film seen this year. There were interesting experiments, like Radyo and Sa Huling Paghihintay which tried to use arthouse style visuals, editing and atmosphere, but they somehow forgot that for all of those to be useful, they must have a story. Narrative content still wins over style. Style is nothing without story, no matter what the cigarette ads tell you. I've seen nearly a hundred movies so far -- arthouse, festival circuit, commercial blends, everything -- and to echo Pauline Kael -- Why are movies so bad?

Friday, November 16

A gerbil is clawing at my brain. It's been there the whole day, gnawing, clawing, squeaking. It refuses to let me sleep, or read and do something productive that will contribute to the betterment of humanity. I cannot even work on my freaking draft and another deadline is just around the corner. I've run out of paracetamols and aspirins. There must be something out there to rid me of this headache. Please pass me the jackhammer so I can rid myself of a head. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 13

Hot damn! I left the server still on while I had dinner. Now there is hell to pay. And how. Argh!
I have no discipline when it comes to writing. I cannot get up in the morning and have ten pages of fiction done by noon, unlike Lolo Ray Bradbury, or even Stephen King. Whenever I write, it is a slow process of gruelling disembowelment. I sit down and force myself to focus, and achieve a particular state of mind that will allow words to follow a coherent fashion. It helps a lot if I have a deadline, an end date for which I will stop everything else in my life and do nothing but write. The cramming makes me feel as though I am a mere poseur, someone just claiming to be a writer and failing to get the discipline. But believe me, even cramming for the deadline is a lot of hard work. You can ask Tom Stoppard:
I half commit myself to some distant future date. I often talk to someone about it and suggest that in six months it will be done, so I set up a kind of deadline. But most of the intervening period disappears in a kind of anxious state of walking about. You cannot start until you know what you want to do, and you do not know what you want to do until you start. That is Catch-22. Panic breaks that circle. Finally a certain force in the accumulated material begins to form a pattern.
When I grow up, I wanna be like Tom, or at least, David Mamet.
An American Airlines commercial flight bound for the Dominican Republic crashed in a residential area in Queens, NYC two minutes after take off. The plane separated into at least four pieces, spreading fire in the nearby buildings.

The crash was ruled out to be a purely technical accident, but of course, when the news got here the speculation was all about terrorists. I was on location shooting when it happened, and the first thing I did when I got home was turn on my pc and log on to the news sites. Then my bloody server was down, Blogger was down. What the freak is happening?

Monday, November 12

One bleak day in the mid-90s, I stumbled upon Adrian Mole, self-proclaimed teenage intellectual and Poet of the Midlands, among the stacks of the local Booksale and started laughing. All by myself. Of course people started giving me that weird look, and they probably thought I just escaped from the loony bin, but I couldn't help it. Adrian Mole's angst was more or less my own, except for the glue on the nose bit. Sue Townsend resurrects my favorite diarist via her column at The Guardian. Say hello to Adrian Mole, Aged 34, with his new debacles in Diary of a Provincial Man.

Saturday, November 10

I didn't even know this got posted.
Amnon, the sometime psychologically disturbed Fisher brother in Love Inventory debunks Nietzche: "What doesn't kill me only makes me stronger has been disproved. Every tragedy that people endure is a blow to the soul." Never more true than in the world today.

If you have time, head for the Shangri-la Plaza mall and catch the Israeli film festival. Btw, the guy who plays Amnon is a cross between Edward Norton and David Duchovny. Yum. Gorgeous guy, good movies, free admission. It's a good bargain.

Friday, November 9

The Gulf War is a blur in my memory. At eleven, news of scud missiles and massive evacuations of OFWs from Kuwait came in the form of rap songs by Lady Diane and a fascination with the Book of Revelations. I was in a Catholic school then, and praying for world peace was a big deal, but Desert Storm was an adult preoccupation along with the rising price of crude oil and economic recession. At eleven, you watch with morbid fascination at vague predictions by Nostradamus. Saddam Hussein was the anti-christ.

Director Eytan Fox's Song of the Siren is supposed to be a movie about love in the time of scud missiles. Tel Aviv in 1991 was about gas masks and rushing into bomb shelters sealed with plastic sheets and masking tape. They had advisories on how to decontaminate yourself from possible biological attacks. Talk show hosts were discussing the necessity of intimacy in a time of terror.

It sounded so eerily familiar. Does talcum powder work against anthrax? Can you still get away with big hair and big hips and not get stoned by girls with eating disorders? Is Talila a woman of the 90s who crossed over orange couches, fuzzy robes, buckets of popcorn and morphed in Bridget Jones? Ten years ago I would have dissed Talila and the whole wailing over singlehood thing. As with Ms. Jones, she seemed to be concerned only about getting attached, even if she was a rich and succesful ad girl. She had complete All-by-myself moments and appeased herself with buying a new couch. "At least even if I am alone I would be comfortable." If it weren't a sharp, funny movie, I would have said that this is an authentic nineties nightmare flashback. Maybe I *should* get myself a new couch.

Thursday, November 8

This is from the BBC profile of the Philippines:
The Philippines consists of more than 7,000 islands, but the bulk of the population lives on just 11 of them. The terrain is mostly mountainous and subject to earthquakes and eruptions from around 20 active volcanoes.

Two presidents of the Philippines have been forced from office by "people power" in the space of 15 years.
Talk about population density. 81 million Pinoys squeezed into 11 major islands. I suggest that we find creative uses for the other small, unoccupied islands. We can put deposed dictators and cronies in them, and surround that with sharks. Although I'm sure even the sharks would barf out their putrid flesh.
In true chismis fashion, I first heard about the murders via the UP Diliman chatroom. One of the chatters said that actress Nida Blanca was found stabbed inside her car that morning. True enough, there it was in the Inquirer's late breaking news. It was all over the newspapers, the radio, the tv news every hour. In the afternoon, while I sat in a theatre fully packed with students lounging in the aisles, the trailer for a forthcoming Joyce Jimenez movie was shown, and murmurs spread like bees around me: Nida Blanca is dead, and in a gruesome, truly horrifying way. My sympathy to all her friends and family.
It's a barrage of things: servers were down, the weather sucks, the power supply trips and falls over and over again. I live in an absurd universe.

Tuesday, November 6

The New York Times's A.O. Scott finds out why The Simpsons refuses to "jump the shark:"
Measuring the creative entropy that afflicts TV series has become a popular form of do-it-yourself cultural analysis. Recently, the phrase ''jumping the shark'' has entered the lexicon, referring to that point in its run when a series, having exhausted its premise, resorts to desperate novelty to keep itself alive. At the Web site that popularized the concept -- named after a late episode of ''Happy Days'' in which the aging Fonzie undertakes a death-defying water-skiing stunt -- the various ways in which a show can go bad are cataloged by example: ''New Kid in Town,'' ''Special Guest Star,'' ''Singing,'' ''Birth,'' ''Death.'' The part of the site dedicated to shows that never jumped the shark is headed by a picture of the Simpson family squeezed together on their indestructible living-room couch.
The freshness of the Springfield universe has a lot to do with the freedom that animation provides. The Simpsons can go everywhere and go through anything, but Bart will always be ten years old with no impending puberty. And then there is the writing. Each Simpsons episode is nine months in the making -- from conceptualization, first drafts, voicing, animation and lots of rewriting. ''A good 'Simpsons' script is when you change 75 percent and everyone goes, 'Good script,' '' says Matt Selman, who joined the staff, at the age of 25, in 1997. ''A bad script is when you change 85 percent and everybody goes, 'Bad script.' '' The show is also insulated from the outside force of impending doom that is network intervention. Matt Groening says it best: "Maybe the authorities do not have your best interests at heart."

Springfield has it going. In the regular TV world, you better get that script done in 3 days or there will be no show. You do the best that you can, and there's still no excuse for all the trash that's currently showing. Ours is a situation wherein the shark is not even jumping, nor can you jump it. The shark is dying.

Monday, November 5

I really shouldn't be surprised anymore that a whole island in my country would suddenly plunge into darkness. Two years ago, I was stuck in a very crowded car in the middle of a huge traffic jam in the middle of Tondo. A very annoying girl kept going "Oh my god! This is a coup d'etat! Martial Law is upon us again! Oh my god!" I wanted to kill her. Last year I was in the middle of nowhere in pouring rain with the camera crew when we learned about the Luzon-wide blackout. We thought it had something to do with the then forthcoming impeachment trials. The first time it happened, they told us it was the jellyfish. Next it was some tree falling on a wire. And now they tell us it's the freaking dikya again? Why do them freaking dikya choose to migrate to our power source? Is this an evil conspiracy? Couldn't they have thought of another reason? Attack of the killer dikya was so last season. Only in the Philippines, guys and girls.
I wasn't able to attend my own commencement ceremony. In fact, I wouldn't even know I had already graduated if I hadn't dropped by the college secretary this afternoon to pass a substitution form. All this time I've been going around worrying about the MRR. Heck, I even filed for residency for 3 consecutive terms, and nobody even bothered to tell me I'm done with college! Done! Finis! Tapos!

The Fates dumped closure right on my lap when I least expected it. I am still shell shocked.

Sunday, November 4

I AM 40% GEEK.

I probably work in computers, or a history
deptartment at a college. I never really
fit in with the "normal" crowd. But I have
friends, and this is a good thing.

But then again, the test leans more on the techie sort of geekiness. I'm more from the old school of geek: the kind who read a lot of Edith Hamilton as a kid and considered mythology more lively than the soap opera currently showing on television, the kind who watched, read and nearly memorized everything Woody Allen, who charts a table of all the movies she's seen this year, and would be more than willing to hang out with the teacher.

Take the GEEK Test at! I am a geek, hear me roar. And btw, I don't sport a beard nor do I wear glasses. Hehe.

Are Pinoys really a mental colony?

If we open our heads what will we find? Gilda Cordero Fernando bets that there will be "a quarter pounder hamburger, a beauty contest, a Hallmark card, an apple pie, a ticket to Disneyland, a surgically lifted nose, an English-speaking yaya." The Pinoy believes that the Western life is more superior than ours, and thus buys a first world lifestyle with a third world economy.

The pursuit of everything Western has brought us to every country on the map, and with the distinction of being the best atsay in the world. Sometimes we don't seem to mind, as long as it gets us our dollars, the chocolates and sneakers, never mind that those same sneakers etc are products of sweatshops of likewise indentured races like our own. Of course we are going to go down in debt, like the old mythical island of Lemuria, an ancient civilization that drowned in the ocean of its own abuse of power and spirituality.

Friday, November 2

Julia Roberts lay down with the dogs. Take a look for yourself. Via ftrain.
Hey, thanks chinita! That's all I can say for now. More if I can gather my wits from the splatter spots in my room. Hmmm...

Thursday, November 1

My friend Joy called just to tell me she's in Baguio for a vacation. While she's raiding the ukay-ukay, I'm stuck in front of my PC furiously working out a script so we can have an episode for airing 2 Tuesdays from now. Blast it. Joy really deserves a vacation. She's been working too hard, and I've been just lounging about doing nothing much. But still. I have nothing to complain about, do I ?

Tuesday, October 30

I was running on semiautomaticpilot yesterday. I was late for an hour and a half for my lunch with Nathan, and I had to appease him with some Chocolate Kiss dessert. But as always, I enjoyed hanging out with him. He has discovered that being poster boy doesn't make everything easy. We had so many ideas before, how we could change a lot things. He could teach kids, show them how to be a real iskolar ng bayan. I could write for television and try to get rid of such formulaic, trashy copycats. Then came disillusionment. Or perhaps reality. So next semester he'll be teaching at the Ateneo -- land of the young and coño. As for me, the new season of the new and improved Kasangga will begin. I just hope that there will be enough stories of courage, survival and heroism to keep us going. Each to his own happiness, I guess.

There was still a lot of time left before my interview with a gutsy kidnapping victim. I wanted to ready for that. I knew that if I got at least twenty minutes of sleep I could be up and about and not ask stupid questions. So I thought I'd go to the mall and sit inside a theatre and sleep and watch my workshop buddy Sig's acting debut. Sig is a huge guy with a shaved head and two curly patches of hair that looked like horns. He makes a good scary goon and is very useful when walking in dark crowded places. Sig adores Erik Matti but he still got killed midway through Dos Ekis.

I realized that one couldn't sleep inside a theatre, not when there's gorgeous scoring provided by Lourd de Veyra of Radioactive Sago, and there are soft blinking neon lights and Rica Peralejo is shimmying her butt out in front of you. But the real attraction of Dos Ekis is not Rica Peralejo, Raven Villanueva or the four silicones between them. It is Benito, played by Mark Anthony Fernandez with enough naivete and hopefulness, sincerity and a belief that everything can be all right. Benito lives at the flipside of a dilapidated theatre's screen. Robin Padilla movies are continually shown, flipside, and he knows all the words to it. When Rica's Charisse says that guys like Benito aren't real, they only exist in movies, she is only half right. Benito is real. He earnestly purchases a gold watch and offers it to Charisse, because he adores her. He willingly goes to the Master Goon himself to settle the score in her behalf. He knows he's going to get blown, but tells her he will go and do it, and when he comes out of it alive, he will meet her at the docks so they can build a new life. He wills himself to survive. Bloodied and weak, he even purchases her a bouquet and trudges back to the pier. There is no Rica in sight. When he collapses spread eagled amid the container vans, despair is written all over him. He wants the happy ending, he wants to get the girl, but he's there dying alone. It makes you want to die with him.

There is this last moment in the end while Charisse is being taken away, and we can hear the police officer talking with his wife on the phone, and we see Raven's Libay waking up at the police station, hopeful but knowing that everything is lost, and Benito is dying. That was wonderful if not for the fact that Rica comes off as a blank. In Sa Huling Paghihintay, the Bernard Palanca character walked away with the movie. The characters she is given to play are supposed to be mysterious and strong and are imbued with a sense of fate, but even if her life depended on it, and not just a movie, Rica Peralejo cannot act. And so the burden and strength of the Rica movies lie on the men: that despite of it, in spite it, Benito et al realize that she has affected their lives to the point of disillusionment, and death.

Monday, October 29

Still on that strange little girl thread, a friend of mine pointed out that I tend to intimidate people. Guys and girls. Without even trying. I am quiet when I'm with a new group of people, but if I get comfortable with them, I am bound to talk. Granted, my favorite topic of conversation is myself. *cough* And in the end of the day, it really doesn't matter what I do, what schools I attended and other such nonsense. It took me most of my life to get comfortable with who I am, what I can do, the things I like and enjoy. I think that's what we are all aiming for. I am going to spend my whole life with myself. Might as well get comfy.
I think I really like strange little girls. It takes one to like one, I guess. When pointed out that I am *strange* I balk at the idea. Just sometimes. It rather warms me that I am not part of herd. Now if I can only find the whole album.
It looks like a very nice bright sunshiny day outside. The room is all lit up--and without the benefit of electricity. I'm meeting up with my friend Nathan for lunch. Plus I also have an interview for an upcoming episode tonight. Finally, a project to make me feel useful again. Cue background music: Hoku's Perfect day. I don't normally go for *that* sort of music. But yes, this seems like a very nice day. So far. Don't you dare rain.

Sunday, October 28

I'm not really a dog person myself, but this is ridiculous:
In San Francisco, a 120lb. dog named Hera might just be sentenced to death for mauling a woman last January. The other dog responsible for the alleged attack, Bane, has already been put to death. The dog's owners and their representative argued that the declaration that the dogs were "vicious and dangerous" was absolutely false and maintained that the dogs have generally been well behaved pets.

Saturday, October 27

Well, it turns out I can be googled after all. But you will have to plough through so much info before coming up with the blog. Anyhow, I must do something about that. Soon the world will know all about kantogirl. *evil evil grin*
I don't think I'll be visiting any chat channels for the meanwhile. It tends to be a bit tedious, especially if you really don't have much in common with them. Things will be fine for a while, and then inevitably, that question will come up. I think I'd rather play the trivia game.

Friday, October 26

I cannot be googled. I am not listed in the directory. Why is that so?
The only bright spot in it was when Abi and I were exchanging Barbie's Cradle lyrics as responses to text messages. I was there because it's dark and I'm lonely. And she was having a good time having dinner with a cute guy and was hoping for better things: Don't stop now. The hour has just began. Don't stop now, the smiles are new.

Which reminds me, Barbie's Cradle also did the theme to Sa Dako Pa Roon, which is the only thing going for that show, imho.

Thursday, October 25

On a fine day, hanging out at Likha-Diwa for dinner and talk and dessert is all I can ask for. It would have cheered me up, especially after seeing a pinoy cinematic treasure in awful condition. Then there wasn't a single Ikot jeep in sight. A trio of foreigner dudes I had nodding acquiantance with walked by. Had I known they were also going there, I would have volunteered to walk with them. Half an hour later, I get a seat by the veranda. But when one has too much happy food and not a soul to share it with, it turns into indigestion. All I could do was squeeze myself in a cab and hope for a quiet ride home. But the cabbie wanted some conversation going. I usually don't mind.
cabbie: Hey miss, you live a long way away from Diliman. It should be hell if you commute everyday.
Please don't talk to me when I'm *queasy.* I know it sounds antipatica. But please. Just please.
Went to the post office before lunch today and found a high concentration of traffic and uniformed police officers. Apparently, there are protesters again in the gas depot area. Since I live in a potential danger zone, since the gas depots are but a cigarette's throw away, I consider news of disturbances very seriously.

Or to paraphrase Ate Guy: My town is not a pig. I don't want to wake up and find Pandacan burned down and well-done.

Saturday, October 20

King of Pain is playing on the radio.

Hmm, Sting. Yum.
I am tempted to think that there might have been spirits lurking around in that old, dark, dilapidated house near BigSkyMind. Norjee and I missed this morning's first creative meeting for the show. We are both down with the flu, or at least, something that makes your head feel woozy, and your bones feel like your diet consists of instant noodles. What else to blame? The weather? Nah. Spirits must have accompanied us home. I knew it, we shouldn't have discussed ghost stories.
Okay, so I had finally figured out how to use the mIRC program, and all the channels that I know I found in Faye's article. It seems disconcerting that those are all the channels that I know, which immediately limits the areas I could visit. I wish I had more resources aside from people from my school and something I picked up in a webmagazine. Oh well, I can always plead the ignorance of youth. Though in the age of the internet and speedy information, there is no excuse.
Why is it that Ronnie Lazaro almost always corners the roles for doomed, desperate men of the underworld? Greaseman, torero, beggar, ordinary guy on the worst of situations. I'm beginning to think that if there's a short film being done somewhere in Manila, Ronnie Lazaro just has to be in it. Not that I'm complaining, but it's just too much. The way he groans, utters his words, shuffling down the street with that walk. And in this morning's theater rehearsal of an episode of Pahina, he plays Mang Serapio. The episode reeks of Filipino class in high school. It wasn't one of my favorite classes, until our kickasss teacher Miss Ramos threw her weight around.

So, unlike other episodes, where the writers at least link the literary piece with the lives of the high school kids of Bukal, they make no excuse: they have to discuss the piece for today's episode. The kids come for rehearsals of a school play--that's it. So unlike the journey of last week's Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Juan, where the guys go on a journey to Manila looking for the poet Pete Lacaba. Now that was fun.
A bleak, gray cats and dogs morning. I especially hate it when it rains and at any moment a leak threatens to spill pools on my lap. I don't want to think of repairs right now. I don't want to part with an appendage yet, but with this weather, it looks like I will have to. Soon. It pains me just thinking about it.

Thursday, October 18

People assume that because I write for television, it automatically means that I hobnob with movie stars. That only happens when I actually get required attendance on the set, for standby if revision is suddenly required on a script. Which rarely happens as well, unless they're running undertime or overtime. In which case, the director or script person calls me on my mobile phone to consult this or that change they're going to make.

Making tambay on the set is as boring as playing kickball in hell. There's nothing to do but wait around for the next shoot while the utililty guys set up. Or hang around in the OB van and watch the monitors. Hanging around with the artistas do not appeal to me on a general rule. I'm neither starstruck nor dedma, though there was this one time I was struck with fear and quivered in my pants. It was 4am and the next set up was taking too darned long. I was about to fall asleep but I didn't dare, not with "You're nothing but a second rate trying hard copycat" prowling inside the room with me, patrician nostrils flaring and high cheekbones ready to slash you to bits. "I've been wallowing in fake blood for over an hour! I can't take this anymore!" No, it wasn't the time to take a nap. I imagined getting splashed with wine, or fake blood. No, I just didn't dare sleep.

I just do not get affected by movie stars, period. I think I'm even allergic to them. The close proximity to one, upon recognition, makes me want to evacuate the place, in order not to share the same air? I don't know about you people, but you can only stand so much of AgaJoyceDiether and whoever in the space of several seconds. They're not exceptional and while everyone is reduced to near-fainting spells (Oh, Aga, he's sooo cute!), I'm like So Freaking What?

And the conversations consisted of buzzings and too much alcohol induced laughter. I must get out of there. Unlike some parties where even if there are several semi-famous or famous people, but they are people you know, care about, and can have a conversation with, last night's party can only be described with one word: showbiz.

Which probably explains the plotting to get away, with or without a getaway vehicle and the designated driver.

It was past midnight when we finally hit the road, and we didn't want to bump into someone from work, or anyone else we knew, so we definitely had to get away from the Timog-Morato area. Every coffee place we went to was closed. We ended up in BigSky, which isn't bad. We had the whole couch upstairs to ourselves, and there's coffee and drinks and fabulous pita bread and onions. And perhaps because we were in a street famous for hauntings, and two of us were working on a show related with the paranormal, the conversation shifted to that.

When it was time to get back to the car we realized we parked in front of a house that seemed more than alive while it sat in the dark. "No, I'm not getting in the car first. It's on side, it's dark." And the car stereo had recently been stolen so there's no music to dispel the bad vibes, if any were lurking in the air. There was no choice but to bolt out of there, and run at top speed, with our voices far too loud for early morning conversation.

Sunday, October 14

Floating world.

I'm starting to feel like everything is a little bit pointless. I've seen 9 of the 11 films in the Cine Europa already, and lining up to watch has become like some form of chore. They are reasons for going out of the house, because I am bored and have nothing else to do. I sink on my seat and stare at the screen, but I'm not really there.

Gio, whom I have not seen in a while, noticed it yesterday. "You seem uneasy." Every few minutes, I'd check my mobile phone for messages. I've been told that one of my episodes will be replayed on Tuesday. People have called up, asking for a copy of the script to use in the re-editing.

I am annoyed that they will expect me to provide it right then and there, and especially after so many things lost in the breakdown and all, I am not not particularly overjoyed to see if the frigging script has survived the virus attack. I unearth boxes to look for a hard copy, then I remembered that I have already given the editor two copies, different versions.

It was written around the time of the impeachment trials, and the primetime tv block took backstage to the news, so we had to make one-hour long scripts. Then came Edsa Dos and it was back to regular programming, so we re-edited things, diluted it, really, to make things last 90 minutes. Rewritten, re-edited, re-programmed. And now it's going to be replayed and they want to edit it some more to fit the one-hour blocktime. This has got to be the most violated episode ever. Had Aristotle been around, he'd definitely say that this is most unrecognizable: Everything has been lost in the translation.

Wonderland's tagline: Everyone is looking for something.

When I get up in the morning, I cannot exactly say that I am truly awake. My eyes are open, but it's like seeing the world through fog-covered spectacles. Things are vague, shrouded in mist. Nothing is really solid. I can extend my hand and it just might go through what I am about to touch. Vapor. Like ghosts and spirits. Hollow.

When people ask me what I'm doing these days, I cannot even muster a proper answer. I am not even sure if I should include myself in the unemployed statistics. Even if our headwriter says that there is still a show, it doesn't feel real because I'm not doing any work. I haven't written anything in months.

I cannot call this having a vacation. It doesn't feel like I'm on holiday. I think I would rather be busy and still find time to do things than have all the time in the world and not be able to do anything. I've given myself all the push in the world and I still cannot come up with anything. I cannot even find the words. It wasn't always like this.

Friday, October 12

Butchgirl and I each have the exact same pair of sneakers. We were going around the mall yesterday and constantly eyed them shoes.
"Nice shoes you have there."
"Mighty cool sneakers. You have excellent taste."
I understand that these are difficult, unsecure times, but must they really segregate the lines into boys and girls? Sure they must check our bags for homemade bombs and ticking clocks and all, and there may be perverts out there who enjoy being frisked, but I do not find the separate lines a big help. More than anything, it makes me feel like I'm back in kindergarten.

And these ushers really ought to know what it is they're actually screening inside the theater? Or at least know that there is a huge difference between an R-18 movie and something rated PG-13. And know your schedule: They were handing out leaflets saying that Night Shapes from Germany wouldn't be shown, playing instead would be Leak. Leak was orginally slated for 8pm. The film from Italy won't be shown, instead is an unlisted film about elevators. So is the 8pm film changing, considering that the schedule for the day has been sacked. "Please read the schedule," she harps, and hands me a flyer. Your schedule is as good as trash! You are showing films not even included originally! I already went through the schedule that's not valid anymore, daggummit!

Grrr. I detest them ushers. Nice little girls in black and heels and little lipstick bags. Feh.
I do not take it as a complement that the ushers for the Cine Europa constantly ask me or one of my friends to show them our IDs. They seem to think that girls in comfy outfits and sneakers and backpacks automatically means under 18. I don't think it is stated anywhere that once you hit 18, girls should and would wear a. makeup, b. heeled shoes, c. yuppie skirts and blouses, d. carry bags so little as to contain one measly tube of lipstick. In the first place, we have no business wearing yuppie outfits. I can go to work wearing whatever--take that yuppie scum! And watching a movie doesn't really require so much fuss dressing up.

Yesterday, my friend Astrid was wearing a jacket with bunny ears, but said ears weren't on her head. They just thought, Hey this girl looks about twelve. We must protect her from the grown-up message of this movie. Well screw them. Don't they think that we've seen worse things than the situation in the film, ie, being trapped in an elevator?

Later, we checked the MTRCB ratings post (courtesy of Tita Marra, Kuya Nick, and uhm, Mr. Cervantes) and discovered that the elevator film is rated PG-13, for the "depiction of power, dominance and materialism." Ah, yes. Evil materialists.

Thursday, October 11

Yesterday's lineup at the Cine Europa all had something to do with cars and motion.

The girls from Bye Bye Blue Bird return to their hometown wearing outfits fit for color-obssessed goth fans. Between them are the orange hair, the purple eyeshadow and lipstick, the platform boots and the Polaroid they constantly aimed at anything that moved or anyone they loathed. The objects of their amateur photography are various members of their estranged families. And we can all have a guess why they are not welcome in the wonderful Lego world of Faroe Island. The people of Faroe Island live in rolling hills and cute, simple houses made of Lego. If you put cows on those hills, they would be more pastoral than New Zealand.

Real Faroese never leave the island--they are never tempted to try out what lies out there. But that's precisely what drove the girls out of the cow and fish village. The other side of the fence held modelling careers and interesting guys that somehow never felt perfect enough, so here they are, trying to make peace with family who shun because they are either products of original sin, and want nothing to do with sinners. But they are Faroese, and they just had to take them back in, or forgive them for their original sins which they had no hand in anyhow, and let the girls go back into the world that they just had to conquer.

En route to achieving this Oprah moment, the girls had with them with sailor guy, Runi, who also had things to settle on his own. Each time they stopped at a village hall, he leaves the girls and comes back with a welcoming blackeye or bloodied lip. He too, has an issue to resolve: he used to own his boat and fish his heart out, but one drunken night, he sells the rights to his boat and he becomes somewhat of a slave. Nobody wants to have anything to do with a loser, so his wife runs away with his kid, and every boat owner on the island turns his away. They don't want a sailor who gets his pants pulled out from him while stone drunk. But Runi earnestly wants to sail out, but each foray into asking gets him beaten to a pulp. In the end, he is in a hospital, in a cast, eyeing what's left of his world from his window view of the island.

While Runi gets beat up, the girls launch into musical moments. They chance upon a fellow goth woman singing in a bar, and they dance. Runi stops his car on a cliff and they march up and down, arms pumping in the air, like a couple of stooges without the wig and the coveralls.

When they dance, all problems seem to dissolve: no abandonment issues, no progeny cursing them to hell, no handsome guy to alternately run away and run into bed with. It's just them girls, from the start of the movie where they held hands in a cab and till the end of their tearful tearful parting.

After all, Faroe Island is in the heart. Or something is rotten in the state of Denmark, or whatever.

Tuesday, October 9

Obviously, Doctor, you've never been a thirteen-year-old girl.

I just finished reading Jeffrey Eugenides's The Virgin Suicides. I am not thirteen anymore, nor do I remember slashing my wrists and dragging chests down the stairs to use as a kick-stool, but I can understand the rage and unpronounceable pain of being a teenage girl. Up to until a year ago I remember cherishing how bad it felt, how everything just sucked. An older friend and mentor told me that I was in love with pain, that I had a full awareness of how pain could be a struggle. It sounded nice, coming from him, but after a while the pain dulls you and then suddenly, you just don't feel anything anymore. These days, everything around me just reverberates with air, thin hollow air that neither stiffles nor chokes you. As if pain decided to pack her things up and left, taking everything with her.

Sunday, October 7

My lips threaten to have lives of their own, but it's not quite pretty nor approximately within smacking distance of Angelina Jolie. And it's not the best time for me to wear something yellow or green either. So it's for the best that I'm staying home for the weekend. I suspect that it was the plate of clams at our headwriter's party last night, since it has shellfish and tomato sauce. It's been awhile since I've been this shade of red. Or it could be the drink with sprite and cherries in it. Blast it, I've been taken in by the cherries. And all this after I had tediously avoided the tequila that's been abundant all evening.
Okay, so the show won the Star Award for Best Documentary Drama in Television. Our headwriter Jun Lana thanked us all, writers and segment producers, production staff and all. I wish I can say hurray for all that it's worth. So from my corner on the couch, red spots and anti-histamine doses and all, Hurray for all of us.

Wednesday, October 3

I bumped into some friends at the mall and wanted to play some billiards and we ended up in this place along Shaw Blvd. The girls made a mad dash for the convenience store, ostensibly to get some cigs. But what they really really wanted was to break their bills for five peso coins. There is a videoke machine at the bar where you can sing a song for five bucks, sort of like a dukebox. They spent practically the whole night bugging me to go sing or whatever, so I perused the selection book.

There between Let's get loud and Lick it was Libyan On A Jet Plane. Now I've seen people who really weren't meant for spelling bees and that can be sometimes hilarious. I've had my fill of "pull the string to stuff" and "costumer's parking" etc. I thought it was a John Denver song, or in the worst, something by LeAnn Rimes, but as the words popped on the screen, it definitely was not folk: "I hope my mobile phone doesn't blow up your face" might sound like Weird Al, but I couldn't be too sure. Whoever came up with that must be either fast or really prophetic.
After four months of setting up, bartering and mailing, I finally received a postcard from via nervousness. I know the postal service is really slow, but an entire season is just too much to stand and wait around for. I'd been considering ignoring everyone else on my exchange list, but keight's postcard really cheered me up.

Saturday, September 29

Finally got to see Barbie's Cradle
perform live last night. For the longest
time I've been trying to catch them,
but forces combine in such a way to
prevent me from doing so: Deadlines,
revolutions in little countries, my
tendency to confuse the time-space
continuum (Oh no, jeeze no, you
mean Friday was yesterday?). When
Abi said they were performing in
Cainta, of all places, we dropped
everything and went.

The website said 10pm, but another
band wasplaying Lisa Loeb covers.
I don't mind covers, but the girl
vocalist's idea of stage presence
was doing Anggun hand movements passed
down via the Madonna route, and she
was trying so darned hard to be sexy
and it just wasn't working. Heck,
everyone could see she wasn't
comfortable with what she was doing.
When the girl announced that they're
doing their last song, the crowd cheered
and roared. Barbie's coming onstage, yey!

Three words: Wow. Wow. Wow.
I conveniently forgot that rush hour
on the MRT could be hell on earth. In
the first place, I usually do not take
the MRT, traverse Edsa, and mix with
the throng coming from Makati. I had
spent the afternoon in Megamall, downing
caffein in the effort to be conscious
enough at the screening of Himala at
the UP Film Center. It was something
I didn't want to miss because:

a. Ate Guy was haunting me--I woke up
in somebody else's house and she
was there, blabbing in a talk show
and promoting a concert;
b. I had never seen it, and I had
no idea that that was going
to happen in the end;
c. Himala is one of the films to be
auctioned by the CCP and might be
bought by some Japanese guy and it
won't be shown for a long, long time.

So, at past 6pm, the crowd waiting
at the Shaw Blvd station was 6 people
deep, and I had less than an hour to
meet some friends at thatother huge
mall in North Avenue.

It was not a time for walking under
the moon, or long sleeved hooded
shirts. It was a tank top and running
shoes moment, with techno on the
background. I was drenched in sweat
and out of breath, and darn, we were
still late.

Wednesday, September 26

It took the techie girl all weekend to rid my pc
of the dreaded microbus virus. Damn bug took my
word files along with it: my scripts, my stories,
my writing projects, archived emails that I
dearly, dearly loved and tried to save but all
in vain.

Dear hacker, wherever you are, I hope you are
happy. Walk my way and so I can wipe that grin
off yer face.

Wednesday, September 19

"You are who you are."

I've heard this line spoken twice in the span
of a few days. First at the Brash Young Cinema
screening last Thursday for But I'm A Cheerleader,
then a couple of days later while I explained the
extricacies of vampire life and mythology from
Anne Rice's movie.

Cheerleader was a satire aimed at the
straight camps. A really straight and
somewhat bland cheerleader is suspected
of being lesbian because she:

a. has a poster of Melissa Etheridge

b. does not enjoy kissing her schlop
of a boyfriend

c. she has a poster of a buff girl in her locker.

Then they concluded she has to find her
"True Directions." I don't know if the audience
laughed because it was funny, or it was so true
it hurts that we just had to laugh.

And while trying to convert a straight girl thought
to be homo back to straightness, poor girl found
latent tendencies: She fell in love with a girl at
camp. See what societal conditioning can bring?

Monday, September 17

Dropped by the set of a movie about four
holy men with very human qualities this
afternoon. They were lighting up a whole
stretch of street somewhere in Panay Avenue
for a procession scene, and it was taking
quite a while so the directors and some of
my soon-to-be former co-workers and I
ended up discussing the events leading to
the pending dissolution of our partnerships.
The face of primetime television is changing.
It wouldn't recognize itself if it stared
at the reflection in the mirror.
In my high school batch's egroups exchange,
one of the guys points about our apparent lack
of sensitivity. Vic says:

[I] just read your messages and
ganun pa rin lahat: Same
characters, maturity in certain aspects.
But if the idea of this group is for some
of you to show off and for some of us
to be ashamed of ourselves, the objective
of re-acquaintance will not work.

He is of course correct. High school was a
hell's quest for popularity, and the majority
of us weren't the movers and shakers, and
were made to feel pathetic for not wearing
the right brand of clothes, the hip hairstyle
of the moment, for not having the agility or
the clever one-liner to throw back. It was
like passing through one giant cookie
cutter where you all looked the same,
thought the same, with the occasional
rebel who was willing to answer back to
the teachers and yell "To hell with everybody!"

When you think about it, one cannot almost
comprehend the rationale for holding reunions
except to further perpetuate the cult of
popularity. Reunion is hell for those who
were once popular and the once prodigies who
never amounted to anything more than what
was expected of them. With nothing but old
gloss to draw from, memory comes in handy.
This is where the proliferations of
"remember whens" begin. Past glories are
dug and dressed up with nostalgia, to liven
up the nothingness that permeates our
mundane, daily lives.

And those who have risen up the social ladder,
those whose cuteness factors had escalated
compared to the diminishing hairline of the former
crush ng bayan, now is the time for revenge.

Friday, September 14

There's a little black spot in the sun today.
It's the same old thing as yesterday

Or rather, in the past two weeks since we flew
back in from Mindanao, I could best be
described as catatonic, in a mild form of
coma. Days and nights blended together
in spiralling spots in the ceiling, or spent
staring at the computer screen, on books
that never get beyond the next page. There
were errands that I forced myself to do:
stand up, get dressed, put food in mouth,
swallow. Get out of house, stick out hand
for public transport, walk, stand in line,
pay the phone bill. Go into mall, have the
bloody out of town pictures developed.
Call people, meet friends for talk, coffee,
the sharing of ennui and further
disappointments. Click on computer,
download music, play. I now have 3
different versions of the same song.

And I have stood here before under the
pouring rain. With the world turning
circles running 'round my brain.

You always remember where you are when
something commensurate to a war attack
happens: I was at a dinner meeting, and we
had our own bomb in our hands. On the tv set,
the plane crashes into the WTC towers.
I wanted to convince myself that this was a
movie, but it wasn't. On the next table, the
waiters were all screaming cheerful birthday
greetings. The world was coming to an end
and they were celebrating. I found it difficult
to breathe, and it wasn't just because my
worlds--in the plural form, blew up, in terrorist
simultaneous fashion.

I guess I'm always hoping that you'll end
this reign, but it's my destiny to be
the queen of pain.

Saturday, September 8

Think of Judy Ann Santos in the dark, horizontal.
The muscles in her arms strain against the
gravity of push and pull, and she sweats
profusely, her breath coming in very audible
gasps of air.

It had all the charge of an erotic movie.
Judy Ann = sex is disorienting. It veers
away from our usual concept of Judy Ann as
virginal orphan, the girl everyone seems
to take a potshot at, the eternal api-apihan
in soap operas. But this was the first scene
of Bakit Di Totohanin, and it pumps more
electricity than the conjured up scenes of romance:
Judy Ann and Piolo romping by the beach,
hugging and kissing in wet clothes. Those
were kilig, and aimed at the fans, something
to scream and swoon for.

Then there was the spectacle of Judy Ann and Piolo
training together in the gym, in spartan amounts of
clothing, all sweat and brawn, with a considerable
amount of restraint as they breathed deeply
and inhaled each other's essence. Around the
same time the audience realizes what was going
on, if they actually realize it at all, the
characters sense it themselves, and the gaze
is broken. There is more power in those few
seconds of eye contact than the whole film
put together. Judy Ann was suddenly an object
of desire, and we had to look away because
we've never considered it before.

Then the next thing you hear, Judy Ann is
starring in the next Darna movie. That is
going to be one turbulent ride.
The poet is dead. We were taught this in
literary criticism classes. And yet
Jose Corazon de Jesus, in his crown of
laurel leaves and two-toned leather shoes,
confronts Iñigo in this morning's Pahina.
"Umiibig ka," he tells the kid.

The object of affection happens to be his
teacher Paz Manalang (Latorena/Gloria?).
He bonks her on the head with a basketball,
follows her home and steals a blouse from
her backyard. She is impossibly beautiful,
breathtaking--especially when captured in
director Noel Añonuevo's soft lighting,
slow motion, the graceful sway of her hand
as she sweeps a stray strand of hair away
from her face. Iñigo has no other recourse
but to fall in love even as he is alternately
becomes suspected of being an Akyat Bahay
or a drug addict.

When she tells him that he stands no chance,
because she is his teacher dammit, the boy
is close to tears, but manages to stand firm,
his woe clenched in tight fists. He blames the poet:
"Kailan man hindi ko inibig ang maging
." But poets are dreamers and thrive
in the unconsolable tragedies of being
alive. Love will come soon enough, bonking
you in the back of the head with a basketball.

Friday, September 7

What I wanted to do while in Mindanao was
to take pictures:

A man standing on the curb of a busy street,
the sunset and a mosque somewhere behind him;
a shiny red umbrella left open and alone on
a spot of very green grass; a child's plastic
toy shovel, stuck on a destroyed sand castle
on the beach.

All these the news camera guy described as
"very National Geographic." Or as I want
to call them, rejects from photography

My first full day out on research, it poured.
We were in Polomolok, in South Cotabato--
land of Norberto Manero, brain eater;
resting ground for MILFs, MNLFs, NPAs and
all other manners of acronyms whose meanings
I don't fully understand. All around us were
mountains, and huge open fields of cogon,
coconuts, empty plains. And though it was
raining, my shirt stuck to my skin drenched
with sweat. We encountered a middle-aged lady
whose idea of assistance was to have 30 pages
of public domain documents sorted and xeroxed,
each page stamped and signed with her slow,
slow hands. It took her 3 hours. A battle ax
felt lodged on my forehead.

The following days I left my camera in the hotel.

We did a story on a group of streetchildren,
dubbed in those parts as the tun-og, or morning
dew. These kids as young as 8 or 9 roamed the
streets at night, hanging by the beach, peddling
their bodies for small change, a cup of coffee,
a hot meal, a quick fix of hardware shop rugby.
On idle moments, they comforted each other in
abandoned boat sheds by the creek, and in the
process giving each other STDs. All these at
age 9, and unphotographable.

The tun-og belong to different gangs with names
like Utol Sama Ka Hanggang sa Sementeryo--
Brother, Accompany Me to Our Grave--
and Spice Girls Unite.
We asked them to show us where they hung out.
We were lead to the very end of a dike's walkway.
Going there was a balance between not falling
and not breathing. On the edge of the walkway
were rows and rows of human waste drying out under
the sun. The villagers must have had nowhere
else to run and pulled down their pants and
pushed. Each time the breeze blew in from the
creek, I felt a churning down in the pit of my
stomach. Half a mile. Under the scorching sun.
Half a mile the relentless stink of human decay.
These are unphotographable.

In my last day, I had a whole role of film left.
I took pictures inside our hotel rooms, on the
shore going to the pretty "island garden city"
of something, and everyone posed merrily under
colorful, breeze-thrown strips of cloth, at the
airport while we waited to be transported back
to our paltry boring mundane lives. These were
quite easy to take: point, click, shoot. We
shopped for bolts of cloth and purses and stinky
spiky fruits that can't be found anywhere
back in our city. We planned to come back, because
we hadn't really seen much of the place. We
could do something for those kids.

Yeah, I said. We must come back, I haven't
taken any National Geographicpictures yet.
Everything was unphotographable.