Tuesday, February 28

The Greatest Love of All feat. Whitney vs. Ka Andy

Earlier, Prof. Edru Abraham urged people to share their thoughts through music. So in the hours between three and six, there were speeches, there were poems, there were songs about the greatest love of all--and it's definitely not by Whitney Houston.

Prof. Abraham reminded us that whoever is in power will want to use the arts to legitimize their agenda, and not a few people fell for that tactic before. This is why Teo T. Antonio insists that poetry still matters: "May makatang sa mata'y may muta; May makata na may tabak ang dila."

Prof. Abraham then read out Mrs. Carmen Diokno's statement which discourages us from "choosing the lesser evil" as it leads to further suffering: "Out of 80 million Filipinos, Mrs. Arroyo is not the best we can produce. She does not even come close to the best. But Mrs. Arroyo’s display of arrogance is not what disturbs us, though I must admit it is irksome. It is, rather, the implicit assertion that we deserve her kind of leadership — for our people do not — and that there is no alternative to her, when there are."

In order to avoid falling into this trap, we must be able to discern what was actually meant by what was not said. The subtleties we ignore or fail to notice will eventually trap us in.

Carol Bello of the Pinikpikan got the crowd to chant with her and share their prayers for the nation.

National Artist Virgilio S. Almario urged people to use their texting powers for a good cause.

Finally, fellow DECL instructor and UP Press Deputy Butch Guerrero also suggests that in case you cannot be physically present in gatherings (for reasons of safety and otherwise), you may still express your solidarity by using the information highway. If for some reason you don't fancy staging a retro revolution, then maybe you can engage in a virtual one.

Monday, February 27

Rules of (Dis)Engagement

Somewhere in the metropolis, in an unnamed building, along a dark hallway sometime after lunch, we ran into three goddesses, who warned us about protesting. Here's their advice:

1. Yes, the University of the Philippines is a free zone. Armed and uniformed police and military cannot come in and arrest you. However, if you publicly announce or call for the downfall of the government, they can haul you off for sedition. Counter measure: Call them panget, call them whatever name you want, but don't say "Ibagsak si *toot*!"

2. Yes, the University of the Philippines is a free zone. Pero bawal ang prayer rally sa UP Diliman, sabi ng Chancellor. Bawal daw kasi ang any form of rally sa bansa lalo na't state of emergency. Kaya kahit sina Cory Aquino, di puwedeng mag-gather para mag-rosary at mag-pray over. Counter measure: Call it a "teach-in," call it a "congress" and it sounds so much more impressive than a rally.

3. Yes, the University of the Philippines is a free zone. Black is fashionable and it's the default color of protesters--para di kita ang blood stains, among other things. But it's too too obvious. Counter measure: Wear pink. It's girly and incongruous. Nobody would ever think you're anti-anything. Gentle subversions are the way to go.

Retro Revolution

Just came from the presscon lead by Prof. Randy David at the Palma Hall steps in UP Diliman. There were probably a hundred people or more gathered at the steps, most of them students wearing black. He says that we must condemn Proclamation 1017 and make a stand as an academic institution. Because if we fail to do anything against it, we lose the essence of what it really means to be a university.

Panelists included former VP for Academic Affairs Maris Diokno, Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera, Rolando Simbulan. Meanwhile, former UP President Nemenzo said that he has no memory of the First Quarter Storm because he was in prison then. Mostly everyone gave their own recollection of the First Quarter Storm and the Diliman Commune. Of how the youth were involved, and the Philippine Collegian and the Diliman Review were the only uncensored and/or unbiased periodicals of the time.

For people who only view Martial Law, FQS and the Diliman Commune as events they read about in history books, or for those who can barely remember EDSA 1, we are living in providential times. While there are some people who claim to be T.I.R.E.D.,and there are some who see protests as the chance to dress up in black and wear cowboy hats, I think that this is a chance to prove that we can step back and look at the big picture, to go beyond our everyday concerns of getting our errands and homework done, and to stop yapping that our country is doomed and there's nothing we can do about it.

The educators and academics present in the presscon today suggested activities that were totally reminiscent of their times--let us hold teach-ins, another Diliman Commune, let's use rock music to protest against 1017. Copies of the Proclamation were distributed and then torn as a sign of protest--the way that Bonifacio and the Katipuneros tore their cedulas in 1896. Yes, it seems sototally retro.

There are camps who cry that EDSA was a unique event which can never be duplicated again, and I have to agree. I'm not saying that we replicate it, because the times were different then and we probably need to think of an entirely new way to deal with the situation. How we deal with it now: we fwd and txt brigade announcements and warnings, we blog about it. Someone once said that the revolution will not be televised, and I don't think it will be waged and won by blogging and texting either, but it's a start.

More retro/past-fwd ways of how to deal and protest Proclamation 1017:

Read the University of the Philippines' statement regarding 1017. Print it out and then do whatever you want with it. Somebody suggested that we all flush it down the toilet.

College of Law, Malcolm Hall. 3pm. There will be a forum that will try to determine and discuss the legalities of Proclamation 1017.

Quezon Hall, 3pm. Prof. Edru Abraham announced that his Kontra-Gappi will hold a concert in front of the Oblation. There was an open call to anyone and everyone who wants to express their discontent via song and rock music. Bring your own minus one and http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifmagic sing.

AS Steps, 28 February, Tuesday. Whether or not there will be classes tomorrow, everyone is invited to broaden education by taking it out of the classroom and into the streets. Free your critical faculties, free the text from the double-spaced tyranny of Times New Roman font 12. Join the teach in at the AS Steps, 9am tomorrow. This is open to the public.

Saturday, February 25

Post 24/02/06: The Superfacial Reports

Yesterday, I had a plan. After class, I would do my errands, like:

1. Find myself plain, solid-colored bedsheets so I can feel more like a grownup. I also thought of painting my electric blue and pink walls into something like beige or white, but that would be too much trouble so I settled on the bedsheets (and pillows, with new pillow cases, and a comforter too).

2. Since the shops in Mega did not have the long-ish pinstriped shorts I wanted in my size--the medium was kind of snug na, pakshyet--I thought of doing my shopping in Makati. Baka mas curvy friendly sila. Got to plan the summer wardrobe while I still have time.

3. The pinstripe shorts would go very well with plain white sneakers. Para kumpleto ang outfit. And maybe check out that Edsa 20/20 exhibit na na-feature sa Unang Hirit.

4. Pero my real objective was this: I had to get myself a facial. I haven't had a facial since late August, when The Show took over my life. Bluekessa claimed that ever since The Show, I had dark circles down to my jaws and it's only recently that I began to show some color. Konti na lang, I'd be the perfect example for The Seven Signs of Early Aging, so I decided to take action.

I wasn't able to do any of those things because when I woke up Friday morning, a rebellion was in the works. A coup plot has been thwarted. Classes were suspended. Sometime mid-morning, all dressed up but nowhere to go, Guerrero and I were texting each other. Should we go to EDSA?

The UP contigent was there. The Shrine is near Mega. I could still get my facial if we go there. But, no wait. GMA declared a national emergency. If we go to Edsa, we might get arrested because of this Proclamation 1017 thing. People thought it was really Martial Law, but she's not calling it such but we all know what it is anyway. Ano daw? They arrested Randy David. Should we still go?

Because if I get a facial then I can't go because raw skin can't be exposed to the sun and other harsher elements. I live near The Palace, all the exits around town are barricaded. Guerrero suggested I should buy mongo and candles and pancit canton. I go get groceries. Lots of people in the mall. They didn't look worried. So maybe we should still go. Where is Edsa again? Tamadita texts we really shouldn't, because it looked too dangerous. They even put a warrant out for former UP President Nemenzo. Maybe I really should be worried. Cops have already raided The Tribune office. I live near the depot. What if they bomb it?

If they do, then that J-pop thing won't push through anymore. If so, then there's no point in getting that facial.

Friday, February 24

Regarding Henry, Scott and Ernest, Feat. Jack and Ennis

The scholar Michael Wood investigates the mysterious testicles of Henry James. Several generations of writers have speculated on whether the lack of relations with girls was a sign that the author of Portrait of a Lady is actually a lady a-hiding in a closet. This curiosity made writers like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald include this literary rumor in their works.

Wood then points out that this curiosity on the part of the authors Hemingway and Fitzgerald may have been a reflection that they were gay lovers. Wood cites the end of chapter 2 of The Great Gatsby which somehow suggests that Nick Carraway had a thing for Mr. McKee.

Everyone's talking of cowboys so much I might resort to riding camels. Nyar. But before I self-impose a gag order on talking about cowboys and camels, here is the really hilarious Brokeback shopping list from the summer of '62.

Freaky McDonald's Commercials

Tim Harrod of Stay Free! Magazine takes a look at the really freaky universe of McDonald’s commercials. Links to videos of the original ads also feature a pre-lobotomy Evil Grimace.

We live in a really perverse world where happiness is measured by the prices of Big Macs and the availability of Coca-Cola, the world's second most recognizable word. Look at how we turned out. Part of me thinks that this is so because we still have not solved the age old question of "So what is Grimace really made of?" No wonder everyone is going bonkers.

Thursday, February 23

The Sign

I should have considered this as a hint of things to come:

The Sign
Originally uploaded by xkg.

But no. I insisted on getting out of bed and out of the house. And so--

(1) Got nearly pelted by tomatoes. Post-it to self: Should check handouts before distributing them to see if all the pages are there.

(2) I learned that you can't count on student politicians to know their battle signs anymore. So you traded in your Chuck Taylors for Nine Wests and you're pretending to be an activist? That wasn't a very good move. Also, if you can't do Six Degrees of Neruda to Madonna, you will not receive a vote from anyone in this class.

(3) Maybe it's time to own it: I am no novelist. Even if I can connect Neruda to Madonna in three.

Sunday, February 19

Thursday at the Fair

Accidentally found myself at the fair last Thursday. I was going straight home after class, but my classmates went so I tagged along. I didn’t even know which bands were playing until Guerrero and I were at the gates. After I saw Kitchie Nadal’s name in the lineup, I jokingly said that my mission that night was to heckle her if ever she played her Eraserheads cover. Little did I know that heckling was going to be the order of the night.

There still weren’t that many people at 8pm, but Kjwan gathered a bigger crowd near the stage. After a few songs, another band started setting up onstage. While doing mic tests, this guy displayed an amazing familiarity with cuss words and basically started shooting down UP. “All the poor people out there have nothing to eat, but here we are, enjoying ourselves at the fair.” Some other guy sat there onstage, ate his meal from a Kenny Rogers box. Badmouth Guy then started hurling food at the crowd. The crowd booed back at them.

We don’t know whether they were booted out or his diatribe was already done and they got off the stage. A buzz started among the people at the fair: Who the hell was that guy and why was he ruining our night?

The hosts, a couple of cutesy sorority girls, went back on the stage and did the weirdest thing: they apologized for the band, that they didn’t know the guys would do such a thing, etc. I don’t know which was worse: the shock of being insulted by some guy from the school down the road or for the organizers to make such a big fuss over it. Some people tried to find a trace of humor in the bashing, others argued that there shouldn’t even be a slight confusion about what happened—it was just plain bad manners.

Most of the bands who went onstage after The Brockas, whose website bills it as 'unquestionably the best and most important band in rock history', appealed to the crowd’s sense of tribe loyalty. Kiko Machine worked the crowd with their Unibersidad chant and Sugarfree did a few stanzas of UP Naming Mahal.

By the time Kitchie Nadal finally played after two thousand years of setting up—it must have been equipment trouble since she sang a few octaves higher than the rest—the crowd had sort of forgotten about the incident. They pressed forward, but they were just quietly standing and listening. At one point she even asked the crowd to get in the groove of things—they were too much in a daze. Even when she finally sang about not being a maniac like the others, I didn’t even want to heckle anymore. Cel and I just walked back to our spot on the grass, sat back and shrugged.

Then Gwen showed up and we joined the crowd when Barbie Almalbis belted out this cover of “High,” then “Just a Smile.” In fairness, the girl knew how to work the crowd. People regained their enthusiasm: they started bobbing their heads to the music, waving their hands, singing along. She announced that her first solo album was coming out in a couple of weeks. When she played her last song, the crowd was reluctant to let her go.

Something always happens at the fair. When Tamadita attended the fair in our freshman year, somebody got stabbed and the attacker ran right in front of them. This year, a boy got ran over by a really huge vehicle and died.

As for me, my last clear memory of a UP fair was some years back, when a rather hefty girl was finding it difficult to climb up one of those PowerUp walls. She was rather determined, but then Radioactive Sago came on with “Ayoko ng Baboy.” The crowd spotted the hefty girl on the wall, with her confusion of ropes, and alternately cheered and jeered her. The band thought it was for them and sang with even more enthusiasm. I remember thinking that at that very moment, I was so glad I wasn’t that girl on the wall.

Monday, February 6

Paolo Matalo

paolo matalo // page 01
Originally uploaded by nut mustard.

Here are some frames from the forthcoming comic book version of "Paolo Matalo," a story included in the collection "Apartment sa Dapitan" by the very controversial Mykel Andrada.

Sunday, February 5

Eleanor Rigby

Eleanor Rigby Coupland

I’ve always found Douglas Coupland’s works as somewhat antiseptic. Generation X was a “tale for an accelerated culture” and everyone was searching for meaning in their McJobs, nobody really cared for personal hygiene and wore clothes for days on end--oh wait, that was Keannu Reeves in his grunge phase. In Life After God, people went for really long drives and then why they did that was sort of lost on me after. They read like proofs to a theorem: mainly, that life was meaningless and we live in an absurd universe; but well, is it bad to hope for a little meaning even for a few precious seconds?

Reading Eleanor Rigby right after Bergdorf Blondes is like jumping into a cold shower after a long hot soak in the tub. Right on the verge of falling asleep, Coupland wakes you up. But not in the way that Chuck Palahniuk wakes you up with a punch in the gut. Liz Dunn could have been Bridget Jones. She’s thirty-seven when we first meet her, overweight, works a dead end job, with a really bland condo. She’s “never been married, righthanded and [her] hair is deep red and willfully curly.” When we first meet her, she’s out there in the parking lot of a video store, with stacks of Bambi, Terms of Endearment, How Green Was My Valley in her arms. She’s going to get her wisdom teeth extracted and she doesn’t have anyone to even drive her to the dentist’s. Then she sees the Hale-Bopp comet. Right in the middle of her marathon, she gets a phone call: a young man was admitted into the hospital and her name and number was inscribed in the medical alert bracelet. Had Helen Fielding written this book, that young man would have been the love of her life and would change her forever. In a skewed way he was and he did, but in a completely unexpected way.

Eleanor Rigby is the first Coupland book that actually makes you want to care for the protagonist. She’s confessed that she’s been lonely all her life, in the way that solitude can make you want bash your head against the walls of your really clean and bland condo. You really want her to be happy and there’s a vague suggestion that maybe she would be. In Coupland’s world, the universe gifts you with your own special meteorite, and then later it’ll get you arrested in an airport. So you can never really be too sure your meteorite is nothing but a ticking bomb. With Coupland, you can never be too sure.

Many thanks for Bluekessa for lending me the book.

Brazilians and Bergdorf Blondes

The bright blue green cover of Bergdorf Blondes entices the reader to plunge into the world of Park Avenue princesses, where a Brazilian is considered the mark of sophistication (and "going to Rio" is something girls should live for), and flying in a private jet for a weekend jaunt in the French Riviera is the way to go. But the protagonist of this novel is not a blonde herself. She has to work to support her addiction to Chloe jeans. But ‘careers,’ as far as princesses go, are but amusing distractions while you go about trying to get engaged to men with their own brown signs and jealous wives.

It has all the symptoms of chicklit. But all told, Bergdorf Blondes is a very fast, very light read—I finished it in one night. I’m not sure though if I’ll dive into that corner of the bookshelf often. I’m not inclined to read the Shopaholic books, and I really cannot be bothered to join the waiting lists for Birkin bags, nor am I likely to spend 60k for an LV purse. I’m likely to pick up the habit of exfoliating twice a week or reading the product packages to see whether ‘alcohol denat’ is high up in the ingredients list, but that’s it for me.

Saturday, February 4

Grownup Girls and Teen TV

Nerve's Kara Jesella delves into the odd phenomenon of grown women who watch teen tv. In a survey from Business Week, it was revealed that shows such as The OC, Smallville and Laguna Beach, while being marketed to the thirteen-to-thirty-four bracket, maintains an average viewer age of thirty-seven. What the magazine article did not say, and which the writer inferred mostly from anecdotal evidence, was that this "age-inappropriate audience is mostly female, urban, smart, creative, professional."

Here is an entire generation of females who obssess about adolescence. Jessela explains that it's partly because partly because "they saw their high school selves in the awkward, sensitive, precocious Molly Ringwalds and Claire Danes and Mary Stuart Mastersons." These are young women who knew early on that they're going to do fab as adults, girls who couldn't wait to escape the "tyranny of proms and pimples."
Are we masochists, intent on punishing ourselves for our present successes? Were our own adolescent emotions so complex that it's comforting to see them simplified, soap-opera-style? Do we all have some deep primal longing to be skinny and pretty and have all of the boys like us?
And yet when they're finally out there, in the real world, they tune in and watch young actresses the equivalent of the popular girls in their own high schools. One explanation that the author offers is that these young women have absorbed a camp aesthetic from their gay friends, who probably weren't really out in high school, and watching teen shows allows the castaways, the losers, the nerdy girls and effem boys to reimagine life with themselves in all the best roles.

But I'm more inclined to think that the phenomenon of grown girls stocking up on the complete Buffy DVDs, quoting John Hughes and crushing on Seth Cohen has less to do with the "nostalgia of reliving the good old days." It's more of a delayed reaction, of finally dealing with the trauma of young adulthood when it's now just a mirage, something irretrievable and can only be relived on Thursday nights and DVDs on slow weekends.

Now please excuse me while I tune in to my weekend fix of The OC.

Thursday, February 2

What to do with all that junk if you're not Fergie

The lyrics to the Black Eyed Peas' "My Humps" may sound inane, but the song is seriously one of the more infectious earworms from last year.

So to get it out of your head, Lucas Cox gives us alternative answers to that Black Eyed Peas query about what to do with all that junk, all that junk inside that trunk.

Wednesday, February 1

Vengeance is not ours

Does this sound familiar to you:

"Alms, alms, spare me a piece of bread. Spare me your mercy! I am a child, so young, so thin, so ragged."

I don't know about you, but when I was in grade school declamation contests were all the rage. (Singing contests were in, too. Boys and girls regularly unleashed their inner divas--just try Whitney Houston's "One Moment in Time," why don't you?) Whitman's "O Captain, My Captain!" and Henley's "Invictus" ("I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul") were popular choices. Girls would be prevailed upon to do their version of Sisa from Noli Me Tangere. (Basilio! Crispin!)

But the weirdest piece to ever hit the Philippine declamation scene was something that spoke of the horrors of the Japanese Occupation in the Philippines. I was eleven when I was forced to perform this piece myself. It's only now that it became evident that it was meant for a boy, "Oscar." The possibilities are mind-boggling. So all along, this was about a male ana? Gasp! But maybe back then they changed the persona into whatever convenient configuration they needed at the moment.

High school was a different matter. In freshman year, our speech and language teacher decided that we should all acquire a British accent. We rolled and/or dropped our R's upon request and asked each other how we wanted our tea. He was also our music teacher and we had to sing "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" back to back with "I Can't Cry Hard Enough." We were in a state university and a bunch of us were there precisely because we were refugees from Catholic schools. You can imagine that this caused a great confusion among us. I think we are all still traumatized. Maybe even more so if our teacher had his way about teaching us how to speak German, but I digress.

A while back, my aunt asked me to look for a declamation piece for my cousin, and I couldn't think of anything but this. So why not perpetuate this piece, no? Just because "to forgive is divine, but vengeance is sweeter." Hehe. It would be interesting to watch an entire generation of kids crawl all over the stage in an attempt to give this piece "justice."

So if you want to relive your childhood, get the full text here.