Saturday, May 29

The Greatest Show on Earth. Not.

The Greatest Show on Earth. Not.

I've been trying to avoid watching Troy, since everyone's watching it, and since people are saying you won't get an iota of Homer right if you just watch this and skip the Greeks.

However, there is one motivation to watch: To see Brad Pitt, the biggest special effect this side of Hollywood after The Matrix, jump up and down wearing his tiny loincloth.

But there are already plans to watch Shrek 2 this afternoon, but not until I've finished my yey-summer's-over-yey film stack which consists of Singles (by Cameron Crowe, NOT the Mac Alejandre version), Runaway Bride and Days of Heaven. I just realized that 2 of 3 movies has Richard Gere in it, and I don't know why. I just picked out all the movies marked with the 5-day-rental sticker.
Profile of a high speed motorboat**

Was just following links and found this feature on Chin Chin Gutierrez, who sells dreams. A friend told me that the show is being screened in Malaysia, of all places. So somewhere in KL, people are either being amused, bemused or abused by Helga Lamermoor.

**At least, according to the translated version. In the original article it says "profile of a star." But you know how the essence is always lost in translation.

Friday, May 28

Mean Girls

Saving the Mean Girls

A couple of days ago, a friend asked me if I knew what the title of that movie in which Lindsay Lohan plays a lawyer. I had no idea. Teen girls started to become generic--they all looked like Melissa Joan Hart to me. Until I read this review of Mean Girls, and I've been reading many very good reviews of it that I really want to watch that movie.

At lunch with the geeks, we were talking about Saved!--this teen movie set in a Christian high school with Mandy Moore and Macaulay Culkin in it, and we wanted to watch it. The reviews seem promising (not to mention hilarious) But I think that's going to be a long shot since people here are a bit touchy about religion. Years back, we wanted to have a screening of Dogma, but it wasn't approved because of irreverence or whatever. We ended up showing The Blair Witch Project. Which reminds me: I still have a poster of that movie rolled up and crouching in a corner of my room with other posters. I've always meant to frame and hang it, but never got around to doing it.

Anyway, to celebrate this momentous occasion of the rediscovery of severe Catholic repression, let me give you this:


Geeks' Day Out

Geeks Day Out

Last Tuesday, Dennis swung by my dungeon around lunch time to cheer me up and free me from the deadly task of checking papers. (I had spent the weekend doing the deed and it literally made me sick.) He also lent me his copy of Last Order sa Penguin, which I borrowed when we were young and only got to me now that we’re old.

Anyway, we decided to drag Tita Arlyn with us, who came from the dentist who resurrected her gums, and Astrid, who was babysitting and could only drop by for coffee in the evening. By the time we left Munch, my formerly khaki-and-yellow clothes had become chocolate-, sauce-, and god-knows-what-else-stained. To paraphrase a former blockmate, I was back to kindergarten.

We trekked to Booksale and then to Aeon where Dennis blew his fortune by buying obnoxiously expensive books. I got my Dave Eggers, and we had to pull Tita Arlyn away from the Ray Bradbury collection. Then we headed to National and I got together notebooks and other school stuff for my friend’s backpack drive. After that we all headed back to my dungeon so I could check papers and they could cover their new books.

Just how geeky is that? We have this classmate Faye, that other boldstar from Wendell’s poetry class, who claimed we and all of our friends are geeks and we just don’t realize it. Tita Arlyn vehemently denied it: “We’re not geeks—we’re cool!”

Now if only she could she us now, red handed and clutching plastic cover sheets and our precious precious books.

Okay, if you want to read about the rest of our geeky day, you may browse through Dennis’ version.

Thursday, May 27

The 15-year rule of movie history

The 15-year rule of movie history

In an article in the NYTimes, A.O. Scott parlays the notion of American film critic F.X. Feeney: that a decade and a half after a nation undergoes radical social and political transformation, its cinema will experience a burst of creativity. Cases in point: the French Nouvelle Vague and their brash new way of upping le cinema du papa, the Italian NeoRealism of Antonioni, Fellini with their missing bicycles and traveling circus themes, the angry young men of the British new wave—all of it cresting in the 60s, chronicling the gritty life of post-WWII Europe with every inch of film stock they could get their hands on.

The theory doesn’t only apply to Europe, it also moves Eastward. This year’s Cannes is well represented with films from Asia (, or at least paying tribute to Asia (in the case of Tarantino). Even Latin America is having this flourishing of movies. And it’s not just the Mexicans upping the energy level, the entire continent seems to be catching up. What’s sad is that while there are a bunch of movies from HongKong, Thailand, North Korea and China, which more or less proves the 15-year theory, there’s hardly anything we can show for ourselves. I’m starting to have serious movie envy with Thailand and Korea, even if they started with copycat The Sixth Sense type movies (stooping as low as the I’m so lonely acacia tree for all we care), but guess what they’re being watched all over. Sure, Babae sa Breakwater is in the playlist, but Ghost in the Shell 2 made it to the competition, so what does that mean?

Yes, we had that entire pito-pito buzz happening a few years back, with directors coming up with interesting plots and executing it quite well given the shoestring budget. As I’ve said before, our cinema seems to be propelled by libog, but I’ll be waiting for the day our cinematic feasts of talong, itlog, kangkong, buko pandan and whatever else is there in the agribold bandwagon conquer multiplexes everywhere.

Sunday, May 23

French Spring 2004

Spring's Here

So according to the Embassy website, the 9th Annual French Film Festival would be from June 4-13. I saw the poster over at Greenbelt 3, so I don't know whether it'll still be free, or they'll be charging Ayala Cinema rates. Now I don't mind paying for my movies, but if it's going to be exorbitant (and being a public school teacher won't exactly help), I'm in deep trouble. I miss the Shang, back when it was the film festival hang out, and movies were free. I don't know when they'll finish renovating their theaters. They have their new cinema seats on display for the longest time now, but still no word when they'll reopen. So now we're marooned to Makati, film festival center by default.

The line up is already out, with a smattering of recent French films, Filipino-French coproductions, and a tribute to Mario O'Hara's Babae Sa Breakwater, which is part of this year's Director's Fortnight in Cannes. Also part of the program is Mariami Tanangco's short film Binyag, which was screened during last year's CineManila, won the Ishmael Bernal Awardee for Young Cinema, and was also an Official Selection of the International Short Film Festival in Clermont-Ferrand France. Mariami was a classmate several times over in my handful of film classes, when I still had film school delusions back in my undergrad years. (The delusion resurfaces now and then, but this girl really stuck to the dream and now here she goes.) You can view the schedule here.

I'm also looking forward to Fete de la Musique, which will be held in Eastwood. I suppose they want a bigger crowd to enjoy the music, but I kinda like El Pueblo already. Such a contained space and all the people just jumping up and down. I'm already seeing an Oktoberfest '03 like scenario here: There will be long snaking lines going to the venue, going as far back as Megamall.

French Spring's like a ritual for me and my friends for as long as I can remember. There was no MRT then, but right after classes we'd hop on a bus to the Shang and gouge our eyes out watching movies. Things are different now, but I'm still hoping that I would be able to find the time to actually go out and watch the movies and listen to the music.

Saturday, May 22

Commuter Pipe Dreams

Commuter Pipe Dreams

Scene from a dream 1: Sorry it's a bit blurry. Just got it from a website. Scene from a dream 2: More evidence of not being people friendly. Shoo, go away! says the ticktock man. Scene from a dream 3: Ghosts in the machine. Boo!

Yesterday marked the end of my perfect-na-sana commuter dream: I had to stand up in the train taking me to Katipunan Avenue.

It wasn’t so bad. The trip took all of twenty minutes, and that’s because the line took an eternity to cross the very short Pureza to V. Mapa route, for what reason, I don’t know. It might have something to do with the bad weather and electricity lines, but this I know—by next week, I’ll really be standing on that train that now faintly smells of palengke.

It wasn’t like that before. At the start of summer classes, I heard the distinct roar of the train overhead, announcing that the LRT Line 2 had started its operations. So instead of traversing Sampaloc to get to España, a route which I took nearly everyday going into the end of the second sem, I opted to detour and have a little adventure into the unknown. I had myself delivered to the doorstop of the next train station.

The yellow line* stations are weird. First off, there are no kilometric counters at the ticket stations. In fact there are no ticket sellers—just vendo machines which require you to have the exact change for your fare, otherwise you will have to scrounge around for coins from strangers, or get the stored value tickets, which I always do. Saves you the trouble of lining up everytime. (Meanwhile, I currently tote around 2 SVTs so I'm waiting for the 3 lines, 1 ticket scheme to take place**.)Then you go up the stairs to the waiting area and you find out that there are no benches to sit on, and worse, there are no bathrooms! 3 strikes right there. I suspect that whoever designed these stations aren’t people-persons.

Inspite of those offenses, what I like is this, they have little marquees which announce how far off the train is from the station you’re in. “Santolan 10:30” means that the train just left and you will have to stand on your feet ten and a half minutes more. What I hate about this is that it takes nearly 11 minutes for the next train. What gives? The average MRT train wait is around 6 minutes in between. Again, whoever thought of this brilliant idea must want the commuters to stand around and admire the view. Which isn’t really much unless you’re curious about that flying saucer tower hovering over my old school (it’s just a tower with a UFO shaped thingie on top, duh) and the old, rusty metal tower from some old kalburo factory. Sta. Mesa isn’t really the best place for great views so better stare at your poor feet. What’s even more odd is that the security guards will point their shrilly whistles at you if you attempt to sit on/lean on their blasted iron railings. And oh, there's a notice saying that picture taking and shooting videos aren't allowed. As if. They should have just said we don’t like you, get off our trains.

Then the train comes and it’s one long purple caterpillar. The design’s actually nice and very ethnic looking. Inside it was very, very cold and no people! You could have an entire cab to yourself. The following week I had to share the cab with 2 other people, the next I had a bench to myself, then share it grudgingly, and before I knew it, there were actually people who obstruct my view of trees in New Manila! Argh!

I suppose I should be happy that people are actually riding in a mass transport system, but I just miss my quiet time. And that new car feel has been slowly obliterated and replaced by this faint palengke smell. I haven’t been to a wet market in a very long time but I still know that scent—vaguely muddy the way only fish aisles can be on any plain day. Oh sure those people never talk to you, they all just stare straight ahead or between their shoes, but I sure miss being the only person in that train. I can’t call it my train anymore.

The only good thing left is arriving at the Katipunan station, the only one that’s underground and somehow eeriely cavernous. The doors open and you walk ahead of everyone else so you could be first on the escalator. I don’t like crossing the streets now that pink barbwires are everywhere, so I walk to the other side, enjoying the few minutes where you are nowhere in time, no day, no night, just shadows. Then you stick in your magnetic card, pass the turnstiles, and get that whiff of warm air as you step up the escalators again, the glare of sun and concrete greeting you as the stairs deliver you to that jungle of vehicles crowding on the curb, spraying you with pollution, bless their souls, you are in a pedestrian world again.

*The train tickets say "yellow line" but the government claims it to be the "purple line" because of the train's design, I suppose. I call it yellow because the ticket is yellow, and the MRT's is blue. So there.

**But I'm still deliberating whether that's really convenient. The Flash Pass sells for Php250 on "Fridays to Sundays prior to the Monday which it takes effect." And you can only use it for a week. I'm afraid that's really very limiting. I don't use up the SVT 100 in a week. What more Php250. LRTA guys if you're reading this, please rethink that Flash Pass thing. Thank you.

Friday, May 21

Buhay Boldstar Lite

Buhay Boldstar Lite

Last weekend’s Sunday Inquirer Magazine featured the boldstar path to and from stardom.

On the cover was Asia Agcaoili—yes, the one with an incredibly boldstar name if ever there was one. Asia is all guts and (sana may) glory(ious) in her taco-wielding debut in Patricia Javier’s Bare Naked video. If all the other would-be bold stars do the full frontal in their solo ventures, Asia took it all off for but half a second, and in somebody else’s solo video at that. Oh well, got to get noticed. (And if I may add, that bit was the most interesting part in the video. All the others—Patricia in her feeling peeling yema mode, Patricia in her psychedelic loca mode, Patricia in her threesome with Asia and guy in tuod mode—were spectacularly boring. Buti na lang we got the video for 35 bucks in Quiapo.)

We first noticed Asia when she appeared in ABC5’s (and Ideal Mind’s) Single several seasons ago. Back then she looked like she could be a UP student, major in clothing tech, and good thing that the irony of it now is not lost on her. Writer Eric Caruncho also noted that there aren’t really a lot of boldstars coming from the State U, with only Giselle Sanchez and Michelle Aldana cheering from the rafters, so Asia should be a welcome, uh, addition? Anyway, it was also around that Single stint that she decided to go out and get a boob job. If that isn’t courage, what is? At least we know that no manager pushed her out there and get undressed. She’s doing it all by her lonesome, whatever her reasons may be.

If Asia’s papunta pa lang, Sarsi Emmanuelle is nakabalik na at babalik pa lang ulit sa pagbo-boldstar. The Brown Emmanuelle controlled the country’s collective obrero libog in the 80s together with the other softdrink beauties Pepsi Paloma and Coca Nicolas under the tutelage of the late Dr. Rey dela Cruz. But as like all stories of the rags-to-riches-to-rags mode, her mortal flaw was that she didn’t know how to handle her so-called fame. She fell in love and made the wrong decisions, and before you know it, she was in Cavite selling tickets in a perya.

Now she’s been dusted off that Altar of Forgotten Boldstars and reinstituted in a two-bit role in a soap opera. She’s feeling a bit rusty when she shouldn’t be, and she’s hoping to do a few movies down the line.

I tend to blur all these ‘rediscovered’ boldstar stories because they all seem the same: They were poor, daughters of unwed mothers with foreigners who left them, then they were forced to do the trade so they could lift their families out of poverty (“iahon sa paghihirap,” so to speak), they get minimal fame as a boldstar-du-jour, they fall in love, make mistakes, and find themselves stuck back in the same old rut where they came from. It’s like there’s only one Grand Narrative of the Boldstar, and there’s no escaping that.

Wednesday, May 19

The Baklaan Hour

Yesterday was also the last hurrah of department work (for the time being, at least). Me and a couple other groupies were the groupies for the summer lecture series. Mostly, I tried looking like a normal person yesterday with my Buddha blouse and pretended that I knew a lot about CL as we moved the program along. Neil Garcia delivered a lecture on (Jose Garcia) Villa, (Severino) Montano, (Tony of Cubao) Perez and how they exhibited all that Postcoloniality blah in their supposedly gay works. In his short story collection A Footnote To Youth, there's an "autobiographical" story of a young Villa (who would have been the fairy godfather of Phil Lit in English if he owned up to it) in love with a couple of white guys. Now I vaguely remember this story because it's been so long since I've read the dilapidated Villa in the Filipiana section, so it necessitates checking it out again to verify.

But the most interesting tidbit came from Neil's little anecdote about meeting Nick Joaquin in one of those last dinners after his essay "outing" Villa came out. He was seated beside Nick Joaquin and the man supposedly told Neil, quietly: "You destroyed a great man." Neil upped and left. That's it.

Now back to the lecture, which prefer to call it the baklaan hour. Binabakla na pati reaction. I.e., from Judy "I'm a hybrid, just look at my name" Ick going: "Yung hybridity chuva na yan kasi..." How bonggacious, di ba?

The lecture went overtime by an hour and a half. We had to wait for everyone to get up and leave before I could wolf down the siomeow and coke. Learned a lot from the lecture, but I was just glad to have it done and over with. So that probably was how waiters feel when there are still customers at such a late hour in the restaurant. You want to shoo them away. I really was just hungry.

Eheads for Sale

Eheads for Sale

This is a postcript to my previous post.

So after reading about the Eheads Anthology from Cynthia's blog, I literally ran out to the nearest music and grabbed a copy just before they closed. If you buy the album, you get a free copy of Pillbox, which is "entertainment for many," if many means the Heads fans.

Anyway, I think that was the fastest decision I ever made about buying an album. I usually take days and weeks agonizing whether or not I'll actually buy or just download the tracks that I like. But no, this time I was like, "Hey it's the Heads, go!"

So I've been listening to the cd for like 2 days now, and I have "Sembreak" playing over and over in my head. Of course it helps that the summer term's nearly over and I want to charge right out and go "Whoopeee!!!" in the rain, except that I can't exactly do that or off to the doctors I go again.

The funny thing was, even during the train ride to Glorietta with Astrid on our way to the Son of a Beancurd booklaunch, the Heads were haunting me. But it's a nice kind of haunting. Makes me feel like I'm ten years younger. Feh.

Monday, May 17

Eheads Anthology

Beatles Eheads Anthology

Just how lsd is this cover?

The Band of my youth, the Eheads, just released a 33-track, 2-cd compilation of their works. I remember that on the first day the Cutterpillow album was released, a whole bunch of us LHS high school kids packed ourselves in a Tamaraw FX and went to The University to pass our UPCAT forms.

In other blogs, Bananaducky tells of hearing "Don't Speak" for the first time, and Tragic Kingdom first came out in her senior year. And I was a measly freshman who knew nothing better.

What a double whammy! Two signs of old age in a single blogging day.

Meanwhile, Cynthia gets bombarded with comments that she's the girl in her own designs. Was surprised to see my Frannie Wei comment in there, back when I did my 50 books blog for angas.

Sunday, May 16

Screenwriter Café Culture

Janelle Brown talks about screenwriter café culture in this New York Times article. Screenwriters are the oddly homeless architects of Hollywood. Their scripts are the foundations of movies, and yet they can’t afford to pay rent on a shoebox office. And since writing is a solitary job which requires long hours of sitting in a quiet place, and yet too much quietness can drive you, as one writer says, “stir crazy.” You want to be alone, and yet not that alone. So you go to a café, a diner, a restaurant with many electric sockets where you can plug your laptop and pound away—without people peeking over your shoulder. That’s just one rule of this café writing culture: don’t peek at another writer’s work. Then you shouldn’t also unplug their laptops, talk on your mobile about movie deals, don’t ask them what they’re working on—that sort of thing.

There’s this bit about how diners and coffee shops in Los Angeles are over run with out of work screenwriters. The person who serves coffee, the dishwasher—everyone has a screenplay stashed in somewhere, everyone wants to be a screenwriter. It’s gotten so that one café owner blurts that in L.A., “you can’t throw a rock without hitting a screenwriter.”

The entire episode reminds me of this quirky Will Self short story, “The History of the English Novel,” where two people traverse London restaurants and they are assaulted by waiters who aren’t really waiters. They’re all novelists and writers who work on a meantime job before they cinch that 6-figure advance and publish the “Great English Novel.” If the Writers Guild of America registered 50,000 scripts in the last year alone, just how many people are there laboring in their off hours, pounding away until they produce the next great film classic? And how many people are there in the Philippines who dream of writing that will actually be published or produced?

A whole lot of scripts (and books, probably) are written in this kind of space. I don’t know if the same set up will work in Manila, where the screenwriter caucus will most probably fall in the Tomas Morato-Timog Avenue area. Where I come from, not all writers are equipped with laptops, and the majority still prefers to slave it out in their own dungeons at home. But here and there, we see smatterings of people gathering around laptop screens; the occasional book reader curled up in a corner. The coffee shop is still for lounging around and meeting friends. Not surprising at all for a country that doesn’t really read, do watch some movies, but would prefer the spectacles offered by Hollywood, and brewed by waiter-slash-writers in coffeeshops all over L.A.

Read the NYTimes article here. Registration required

The busiest script guy in 2003

The busiest script guy in 2003

I was browsing this media journal which contains a list of all the Filipino films made in 2003. It was a dismal year in terms of production: the country only made 80 films; down from 94 in 2002 and 103 in 2001. It was the lowest in several decades, considering that the national average never went down 120 films a year, even during the most critical times in our history and economy.

Of those 80 that made it to the cinemas, a huge chunk were sex themed movies with a few attempts at romantic comedies thrown in. The biggest box office showing was from a comedy, Ang Tanging Ina, which now claims to be the highest grossing Pinoy film ever, bringing down the record set by Anak in 2000. There weren’t too many action movies, and the studios still dominated the game. Viva Films (and its alter egos, er, coproductions) logged in the most number of products in a year at 13, followed by Star Cinema with 8, and with Regal Films and Elñino Films with 6 apiece. Not included in the tally were all the adult-themed (read: soft porn) VCDs that came out last year. If so, we might have had a higher showing, what with the Viva Hot Babes series and those tease flicks masquerading as exercise videos.

Anyway, as I gave the list a rundown, it’s all the usual suspects. But I noticed that one guy’s name frequently came up in the list. Whoever this Dennis Evangelista guy is, he must have had a very prolific year writing. His filmography for 2003, accompanied with the release dates:

Balat-Sibuyas (starring the late Halina Perez, Feb 5)
Punla (Apr 23)
Bigay Hilig (June 4)
Tumitibok…Kumikirot (June 25)
Motel (Aug 6)
Kiskisan (Oct 1)
Pilya (Oct 8)
Sex Scandal (Nov 19)
Ako, Siya o Ikaw? (Nov26)
With a grand total of 9 movies (though I suspect it might me more than that, since there are a number of bold flicks with no credited writers), he bested Roy Iglesias, Raquel Villavicencio and Jose Javier Reyes for most number of projects made. Yes, his movies are headlined with starlets that are really sidebar material, and are most probably shown in second rate theaters, but this man owns roughly 10% of the GNP of Pinoy movies for the past year. Wether we like it or not, this guy is shaping our country’s collective libog. He is influencing our pedestrian viewers’ minds with his sex themed movies which are usually set in an agricultural milieu.

I want to meet him.

The special mention award goes to Portiah (emphasis on the ahh!) Alviz-Miguerza, writer-director (ehem, ehem auteur) of Silang Mga Rampadora, a hilarious bit about “a promo girl for alcoholic drinks who has what it takes to invade the fashion runways but the top model she idolizes makes things hard for her.” In other words, it’s a re-appropriated Sharon Cuneta-Cherie Gil movie with low rent starlets thinking they can do high fashion. It features Odette Khan and a bunch of other people we don’t know.

Friday, May 14

Jersey Girl

Go and watch Jersey Girl. The credits say that it's been 10 years of View Askew, and it's been a very good decade for Kevin Smith. I think this is his best movie since Chasing Amy in terms of plot and characterization. Ben Affleck, you should let go of that all American hero schmuck act of yours. I've always liked you when you were smaller than an asteroid.

Monday, May 10

Get me out of bed

At the unholy hour of seven in the morning, when you've barely started your REM cycle, when you've had trouble sleeping again. Then your mother comes cheerfully knocking at your door, trying to get you out of bed so you can vote.

You trudge on, and discover that the precinct in the validation papers and the real one where you're listed is different. And there's really no voter's ID to speak of. You get your ballot and sit stoically in that chair, all the people around you buzzing, a squalid mass, the squalid masa outside your window.

You list your choices. There are more blanks than there are answers. You write "none" in each of them. You drop it in the box.

The best part of the entire ordeal is when your mother gets you nilagang Japanese corn and coke on your way home to sleep.

Quick election updates: View the AMA unofficial quickcount and see Poe leading by a wee bit; and get a rundown of election news over at
The Poet as Clothes Salesman

Spencer Reece is a Brooks Brothers salesperson whose book of poetry will soon be published. He's been joining contests and trying out pieces for publication for like a decade before this break came. Prior to that, he considered Divinity school, but went home to the family farm to assist his doctor father in editing medical newsletters. He got turned away by the family because of his homosexuality, and then suffered depression and a stint at the hospital. He was down and out until he befriended a nurse by quoting Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art" to her: "The art of losing isn't hard to master;/so many things seem filled with the intent/to be lost that their loss is no disaster."

He stayed with the nurse and her husband until he got the sales job at Brooks Brothers and then moved on to a new life in Florida, and then the book option. He just went home one night and found Louise Gluck's message in his answering machine.

Here's an excerpt from "The Clerk's Tale," which Gluck describes as "half cocktail party, half passion play."

A few late customers gawk in at us.

We say nothing. Our silence will not be breached.

The lights go off, one by one — the dressing room lights, the mirror lights.

Then it is very late. How late? Eleven?

We move to the gate. It goes up.

The gate's grating checkers our cheeks.

This is the Mall of America.

Sunday, May 9

The death of television surprise endings

And why there's really none of that in Pinoy TV nowadays. The only news that had me laughing is learning about the long delayed Rufa Mae Quinto kuwelanobela is finally coming out, but they're calling it Marinara, an obvious response to the mermaid in the other channel. If they actually banked on this mermaid (formerly an original, not a) spinoff, then at least that would have been refreshing. I wonder though, if they would have a character named Gindara. Oh well.

Stayed up late Friday night so I could catch the PCIJ documentary on the imaging of the Philippine presidents. Papogi traces how the people who occupied the presidency knew how the image is as important as the deed. As with any mirage, the image (like news broadcasts and information) can be manipulated and used to your advantage. Starting with Quezon onwards, the documentary focused on how marketing an image spelled success for a variety of Philippine presidents. Quezon was the Tisoy guy who was good with oratory. Ramon Magsaysay was not really poor, but he knew how to convert his tall, obrero look into votes, transforming himself into The Guy. He knew how to use catchy tunes; "Mambo Magsaysay" turned the mambo into the otso-otso of his time. Diosdado was and would always be the "poor boy from Lubao;" and he would give way to The Strongman from Ilocos. Ferdinand Marcos didn't just employ an existing archetype--he molded his own ideal and pushed it. He faked medals of war valor, he had bravado, he had a beautiful wife. He must have also possessed strong powers of persuasion. He promised his people that "in 20 years, they would have a President." Together with Imelda Romualdez, he fashioned a conjugal dictatorship that also crippled the country in the 20 years they were on top. What a huge return on investment that was, at least for them. After him, it was role reversals. After strong guys who did crunches in public, we had a suffering mother and martyr. I have vague recollections of EDSA, and the only Tita Cory I remembered was the yellow-garbed, bespectacled one who waved on television. It's still the same Tita Cory in the post-Edsa 2 era, the one who hugged Kris on national tv following her admissions to wife battery, gun toting and venereal disease, and still Tita Cory was there to comfort and shield her youngest daughter away from the awful kleigh lights. What I didn't bank on was seeing her young and hopeful, with that same radiance that Kris Aquino has.

It has been said over and over again that the Pinoys are fixated on personalities, on how people looked, and would make decisions based on that. That's what will get you elected--surface gloss.
Neal Pollack on the inherent erotic appeal of superheroine transformations. He traces his fetish to watching Lynda Carter’s Diana Prince spin around from dopey, geeky girl with glasses to the almighty Amazon Wonder Woman, who must have single handedly raised thousands of pubescent boys out of their latent sexualities in the late 70s and early 80s.

He also touches on other superheroines and a small note on Pinoy mythology and Darna, She-Ra and SailorMoon, whose transformation sequence is nearly pedophilic in quality. I mean come on, long legged girls in short skirts and then nakedness in space. While the guys oggled this, all the girls wanted to know was if Usagi would end up with Mamoru. I stopped watching when I realized I couldn’t distinguish the difference between Sailormoon R and S.
Goddess of the Cling Wrap

Summer class is dangerous for your health.

Really. I don’t get it why people volunteer to be roasted everyday just so they can get what? 3 or 6 units of additional credit, inching them closer to getting that university e(h?)ducation.

You’re supposed to be in school so you can learn. Let’s say that at the end of five weeks you can dig out the dirt in lit, and present a coherent minipaper on the carabao as the national animal. But can you really do that?

As for me, is that possible when you get rashes from chalk dust and blisters just for standing and talking your tonsils out for an entire afternoon and your audience is busily staring at the imaginary ants trudging their way across their photocopied readings.

I don’t know if it’s just the heat and the frustrating echo of my own voice, but I’m really starting to hate dermatologists. First off, I sit in their offices for like ten minutes. They look at me, prescribe medicine and oh, they charge exorbitant consultation fees. When I walk out, I’m armed with the knowledge that my genes have gifted me with faulty chromosomes resulting to atopic skin.

And now I’m at least a thousand pesos poorer.

The first dermatologist I’ve been to prescribed me with creams and ointments which did nothing but turned my rash into one angry red giant. Thoughts of my bone cavities getting eaten and a lifetime in a wheelchair sent me running to my next one, who took one look and said “Salt solution, every night.” It calmed me when the morning after I finally saw new skin growing and closing up the wound. But this new doctor is also more expensive, and has a bigger arsenal of medication ready for me to purchase at your friendly neighborhood pharmacy. Kaching!

I hate the ring of cash registers in pharmacies.

After every visit, I become more and more paranoid. Everything is suspect. My chromosomes are programmed to respond to the most mundane of things: the dust, the heat, the chalk, the airconditioning, the clothes that I wear, the soap that I use, the food I eat. Be careful you could be allergic to the freaking air that you breathe. But don’t be too stressed, lest you want another flare up. Before bed and upon waking up, I’m subject to washes and soaks, a battery of ointments and creams and pills and cling wrap. Yes, cling wrap. Not too long ago, I joked with some friends that so I could join them on a swimming trip, I’d just wrap my rash in plastic and proclaim it to be the newest fad to hit the beaches this summer. I’ll be just like Linda Carter. Oh yes, what trendy fashionista foresight! Look at me now, wearing dermatologist prescribed kink, feeling like Linda Blair prior to her prison movie phase. Now I know how those mummies in Egypt must feel.

I was ranting about this to a friend who was in town for a wedding. We concluded that (1) I’m not summer school material; (2) I’m allergic to the Philippines. So he was convincing me that maybe I should move to Bangkok and terrorize some Thais into submission. Just when I’m this close to being convinced, he started ranting about how at lunch, he rushes to the cafeteria and all but tears his jacket and tie off because the temp is a raging 42 degrees. Manila is somewhere between 28-36 and I’m abloom with blisters. Take me to Thailand and I’ll be one walking angry rash bitch.

What kind of fate would consign me to a tropical country and then gift me with progeny with bad skin? Maybe I should move to Alaska, or be one with the Inuits. Or maybe I’m not really meant to be in this world and I should start applying for a visa to Asteroid B-162. Maybe there I can proclaim myself Goddess of the Cling Wrap.

And that my friends, is the reason why you don’t see a lot of kantogirl this season. I swear, I’m this close to becoming Bubble Girl.