Friday, December 31, 2010

Is Anyone in the Mainstream?


... I could have simply sung "La Vie Boheme" last night and I might have rocked it. Of course I'm being outrageous - you don't do that song solo and without the matching choreography. Perhaps I could have enlisted the help of the half-drunken party people of Smallville? Anyway, tonight is Maureen's performance down at the lot, so this is going to be one cool New Year's Eve.

... I watched "Closer" again for the second time last Wednesday. I'm now totally sure I have this thing for films with heavy dramatic moments. Natalie Portman and Clive Owen did amazing performances there, and everybody rocked the language. The film's now in my top ten list (of what specifically, I cannot answer yet).

... Dearly beloved, we gather here to say our goodbyes. And I still hate cats, even with Eli's slightly successful attempts to make me love them yesterday.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Moments in the Woods

Now there's that relative we all can't escape from, that annoying whining bundle of undesirable matter perpetually stuck in bratty pre-adolescence. Every family has such a relative or two. This is the social structure as we know it.

P.S. The sty was unusually noisy today, and the sounds echoed immaturity.

This might just make it to the cover of our yearbook.

I want to make a thank-you list, since everyone who writes seems capable of conjuring one up at the end of every year. But aspiring writers, fret not: Know that the ability to put gratitude into words and the talent to write are not, in any major sense, related. So you may thank me in the future if you prove me wrong. 

Now 2010 has been another colorful year for me. There were moments of inspiration and moments of covert madness. There were moments spent by the lakeside on a beautiful Sunday, and there were moments spent traversing the dark of the woods. There were moments when the air smelled of mountains and leaves and grass, and there were moments when the air was hardly breathable. So here goes.

Thank you for the gift of theater. Thank you for the gift of film and music. Thank you for the gift of beautiful masses. Thank you for the gift of scholarship. Thank you for the gift of aviation and technology. Thank you for the gift of food. Thank you for the gift of friendship and company. Thank you for the gift of art and culture. Thank you for the gift of fresh air and scenic seas and distant mountains. Thank you for the gift of hope and determination and courage. Thank you for the gift of writing and speaking and acting. Thank you for the gift of thought. Thank you for the gift of love and sincerity. And thank you for the gift of family and life. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

No Room at the Holiday Inn

Christmas lights at the plaza, municipality of Pototan, Iloilo. December 2009

... Today is Christmas Day. We celebrate it as the birth of Jesus Christ, but no one really knows when that actually happened. If you count using the Gregorian calendar, the Immaculate Conception took place on December 8 and Jesus's birth comes almost a year and a month later. Isn't that biologically weird? Enlightenment on the biology aspect of the matter is most welcome.

... When I think of Christmas, I find no better way to describe it than by alluding to Rent. There's nothing like friendship, love, and the mantra of No Day But Today to remind us of the true holiday spirit. P.S. Aren't Christmas lights a bit ironic for a world that's supposedly doing its best to conserve energy and preserve the environment?

... It's fun how, in the middle of a conversation, I'd spit out a line or two from a musical and people would give me furrowed brows and blank faces in return. It's like someone would say, "Damn it, the power's out again," and I'd go, "We need some light. First of all, we need some light."

... I'm sick. Well, I was sick. I'm better now. I think I am.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sunrise, Sunset

 P.S. I do not own this picture.

... I discovered while watching Sondheim: The Birthday Concert that when Patti LuPone sings, her mouth transforms into a trapezium. It's all part of the way she opens her mouth and enunciates her words. Listening to her sing, you'd think she's grown weary of the task.

... American Beauty is a masterpiece. I think it's one of those films that should be made required viewing for college students - high school, even, if almost inexistent codes of morality would allow it. The whole cast hit all the right spots with their characterizations, and whoever thought of that suggestive dialogue by Spacey in his final garage scene is a genius.

... Seen at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, December 20th, afternoon: Cathay Pacific 777-200, Singapore Airlines 777-200ER, Korean Air 777-300, Asiana A330-300, China Southern A320-200, Japan Airlines 767-300ER, Emirates 777-300, Qatar Airways 777-300, Etihad (unknown), Saudi Arabian Airlines (747-300/400?), FedEx A310-200F, Thai Airways A330-300.

... It's film awards season! Alice in Wonderland for Golden Globe Best Picture Comedy or Musical?! What the eff. I should've watched The Social Network during the semestral break when I had the chance.

... Gibbs Cadiz released his theater roundup in the wee hours of Sunday/Monday, and here are two points that I strongly feel about: Miguel Faustmann should have been nominated for Best Actor in a Play for Equus, while Phoena Baranda's turn in the same production was too annoying to have merited a nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play.  There are still other matters, of course, but anyway, opinions vary. I'll be releasing my roundups at the end of the school year, which will serve as my 'season divider': one for 2009-2010 and another for 2010-2011.

... Jenn's debut was awesome. The host, the venue, the photo booth, Madi's dance moves, and all the processes that defined that night. 

... An interesting piece of ruckus graced Lea Salonga's space in Twitter the past few days. I must say, those people really have nothing better to do. Why did they even bother following Lea in the first place?! 

... Here in Iloilo, there's clean, cool air. The sunrises and sunsets are just beautiful, and there are coconut trees taller than a three-story house all over the suburbs.

... currently reading Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

On Inventions

The following is a reaction paper written for Science, Technology, and Society (STS) - a 3-unit, 3-hour, once-a-week subject we're currently required to take. Our teacher made us guess which 100 inventions composed Tom Philbin's list. Who our teacher is, you need not know; what the 100 inventions are, you may buy the book by Tom Philbin, whom you may hunt down in Google.

Anyone who attempts to list down humankind’s greatest inventions and narrow the roster down to a hundred never succeeds in echoing the unified sentiment of the other six billion members of his species. An invention or two – or ninety-nine – will always be left out, much to the dismay and disapproval of the person who ever gets hold of such a list. Therefore, the easiest way to not attract the ire of the many is to include the magic words: ‘personal’, ‘my’, ‘private’, as in “My Private Personal List of the World’s Greatest Inventions.” Of course, this is assuming that everyone understands the virtue of respecting one another’s opinions, which is not the case at all – but this is a totally different story in itself. Here, then, are my top three inventions.

At the top of my list is no other than the airplane. The reason for my naming it the greatest goes way beyond the fact that I correctly named it as one of Tom Philbin’s one hundred during last week’s meeting, or that I’m secretly a huge fan of the Wright Brothers (which I don’t think I am).

It’s foremost because of this peculiar love for the big metal birds of the sky, a fanaticism of some sort that runs deep down the boys of my family. It’s because I grew up to the daily roaring of engines and the sight of these huge flying machines, almost an arm’s reach in my mind’s eye as they soar past our house in the provincial suburbs. It’s because my childhood bookworm spent half his time engrossed in books and pictures of airports and commercial airliners, to the point that his teenage incarnation now has a mental pantheon of all things modern aviation. And with the current state that I’m in, it’s because airplanes have become an indelible part of my life, the carriage that can take me in an hour from home to college and back.

But the reasons go beyond my personal life, too. Because of airplanes, continents have become much closer, people brought to one another more easily, and time spent less and less whiling away on the road to wherever. The internet may be able to let us talk to loved ones ‘face-to-face’ from halfway across the globe, but the airplane can bring them right to our faces, clothes and arms and all. I’m aware, though, that pitchfork-bearing environmentalists may come chasing after me anytime now.


The second on my list is the camera. There is no point asking me as to what specific type – digital, SLR, etc.; to me, they are all the same image-capturing devices whatever the size of the lens. And the reason all of them made it to this list as a technological generic is defined by their primary function: to capture moments in time.

Imagine what it would be like today if all we could ever do to bring back the past is dig into history books that are all words, or talk endlessly about it and let the mind summon the images on its own. Not a single historical account or recollection of what’s done would ever be accurate anymore, and the only thing that we can do to bring past experiences back is to willfully wish in vain. There would only be the ‘now’ that is so fleeting, and the ‘what has been’ which we can never fully grasp again.

Writers and artists have long talked about preserving the past; historians have always insisted on reopening it; present-day techies are always into transforming it. Thanks to the camera, and as the University course Archeology 2 would have it, the past is never a distant land.


Finally, the third in my top three is something that has, for the past five years, served as a sort of lifeline for me: the eyeglasses. One may argue that the more correct term for this would be the lens, but I’m currently not exactly a big fan of contacts, so there. Anyway, let’s say that 96 million of the world’s population is either near- or far-sighted, or have astigmatism. Without eyeglasses, are these 96 million to just spend the rest of their lives bumping on walls or walking with the aid of squinting or another person? Or take President Ninoy Aquino III, for example: How is he to read a top-secret document without the precious eyeglasses? Truly, the eyeglasses transcend personal use; they have become integral to the internal functioning system of humankind.


The rest of my list is as follows:

4. wrist watch

5. shoes

6. the World Wide Web

7. paper

8. flashlight

9. toothbrush

10. calendar

To repeat what I’ve pointed out earlier, lists such as this are all largely or entirely composed of personal preferences. On Philbin’s list, I have only one thing to point out: He included a lot of the specifics and mostly technological stuff, which have undoubtedly made life easier. But how is a microwave oven any better without the plate, or a spoon and fork, or that thing that’s used to get freshly heated stuff out of the microwave itself? In the process of going through his list, it feels as if Philbin somehow forgot to include the basics – clothes, for instance. Maybe shirts and pants are not specific nor technological enough to qualify?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Old Man

Manila City Hall in the absence of heavy traffic.

It usually takes me around fifteen minutes to get home from school. But last Monday, it was four times the duration spent in the jeepney. The traffic at sundown that day actually made the news. Here in Manila, like the decrepit sewage system that forms an underground city in itself, the roads are just as easy to clog with cars. It only takes a little fall of rain before the streets are filled with enough water to reflect the sky or the gloom. With it, all commuter life comes to a halt and the ruckus begins; the honking eventually becomes a collective tidal wave of sound massive enough to last for several hours and reach the heartlands of neighboring provinces. I'm exaggerating, of course, but you get the picture.

My previous record of 45 minutes, caused by a similar incident two months ago, just as easily fell apart, sat upon by an extra quarter of an hour. And as any loyal follower of this blog would now be able to deduce, I'm not here to talk about the traffic. (I think I already have... haven't I?)

In the world of jeepney-riding, 'full' and 'over-capacity' are virtually unheard of. My side of the vehicle was already stuffed by enough people that movement was already restricted. Out of the blue, with droplets of rain gently falling outside amidst a faint sunset, this old man climbed aboard and squeezed himself between me and the guy to my left. Exclamation point. Insert expletives.

One of the mortal sins that I recognize in riding a jeepney is squeezing oneself inside a vehicle that is already full. (Though I am guilty of this once.) I hate it/ abhor it/ detest it/ consider it an abomination to create for onself an imaginary space for seating where there is none! If he weren't only old and I, bound by culture, and if I hadn't been that weakened by the weather and the preexisting spatial arrangement, I might have had the balls to tell him off. But again, this paragraph contains incomplete information as to what really bothered me about the man.

One, he was emaciated. Seriously, gravely, seemingly dangerously emaciated. I could actually trace his jaw. His forearm was thinner than mine (no, his was centimeters thinner), and the muscles that hung onto it looked as if they haven't been fed for decades. The orbit of his skull seemed to me the winner in a competition as to which bone seemed the most obvious to the naked eye and least covered by skin. With what little hair he had, his cap made equally no effort to cover his balding head.    

Beyond the physical, he had a stench clinging onto him. I am describing him, thus, 'undesirable' adjectives cannot be avoided. If you think you would be offended by the end of this post, it's best to leave now. As I was saying, he smelled - and it wasn't the usual musk that a sweaty guy would emit. It was terrible, I tell you, and even the most accustomed noses of the 21st century would have noticed something eerie.

His clothes were also really wet. But that's not the bad part; it was that he did not make any effort at all to keep the wetness from crossing over towards the people beside him. I did not expect him to do so, of course, since I would not have expected anyone else to have done so given the situation. I myself would not have been able to do so. I realize at this point that I have been straying from the point. 

Anyway, he slept throughout his ride, or he seemed to be making an effort to fall asleep, and every time he'd go whoopy away from consciousness, he would fall over me like I'm some wall. That was the worst part of the ride for me. None of us would want a random stranger to fall asleep in the jeepney and make us their air bag. That's plain rudeness.    

He woke up after the third 'fall', and we were already at the Manila City Hall area. Then, he calmly asked the guy to his left where the jeepney was headed to. "Divisoria," the man said. Divisoria, the ever famous retail kingdom in Manila. He calmly stood up and got off - he had boarded the wrong vehicle, after all. He left without paying (because that's somehow what one's supposed to do after having been on the wrong jeepney for nearly half an hour). 

He just left. I got home after an hour, bothered. Was the man dying of some disease, was he plain penniless and starving, or is there a more mystical explanation to this?

Today, we remember the birthday of Andres Bonifacio - the Filipino revolutionary who was, to my kindergarten self, one of those Ninja turtles. I may be right.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sacrilege

Three idle weeks. I surmised this afternoon I better kill the silence already, else netizens who would chance upon this artistic haven find nothing of interest. But who's to say 'interesting' comes at the price of silence's death? Words have come and go, yet that which captures the reader's attention forever remains elusively unspecific. 

* * * * *

Exactly a week ago, I found myself traversing the capital by means of mass transit a.k.a. the LRT. The plan was supposed to go something like this: Go to Greenbelt ahead of time, get tickets for Harry Potter, wait for the ladies, watch and have dinner together. Problem was, tickets for all of that night's showings were virtually sold out. In the layman's term, I went train-hopping for nothing.

The experience is what matters now, of course. It's something I place in between priceless and unnecessarily necessary. Until then, I'd never been on the EDSA line by myself, though I pride myself in being an expert of the Taft Avenue line.

There is a moment during rush hour that every Filipino must experience at least twice in their lives: once, to get the first taste, and second, to look forward to tasting it again. As the train approaches, a cloud of anticipation shrouds the entire station, the breathlessness audible throughout the hall. The doors open, and it all happens so quickly, one would think Mufasa died an easy death. One need only stand near the doors of the train with the rest of the eager crowd on all sides, and go with the flow. The choice of not entering instantly turns to dust. You are pushed inside like a wave pushes the tiny floating things toward the shore. Then, you find yourself whizzing past the setting sun.

What rush hour looks like.

The sweat, musk, and breaths are to die for. To not brush sticky arm against sticky arm, damp shirt against damp shirt, would be an abomination in the world of LRT travel.

* * * * *

Despite the fact that I watched it on its opening weekend, the seventh installment of the Harry Potter film franchise has yet to lick my opinionated knife. All thanks to three things: that Robinsons Manila's old cinemas are simply terrible; that we entered the cinema late; and that the screen projection made me dizzy. Ergo, a second broomstick ride is in order.

* * * * *

What we are going to do in this year's TRP - Tao Rin Pala, where students of the UP College of Medicine try to prove for one night that they still possess some semblance of normality - is sacrilege. At least, I see the sacrilege. I don't blame them though, whoever them refers to; the theater is not for everyone. You either love the stage or live the rest of your life pretending to love it, and the former are a rarity.

Cats is currently one of my top five musicals (but this deserves an entirely different post), and I'm sad to say that I'm taking part in the desecration of the fearless felines. I am sorry.

This is way out of Imed's league, anyway.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dripping with the Aftertaste

It's not the last day that hits the hardest. It's the day before that, when the thought of that last day starts to form in the mind, conjuring wispy shadows of the shoulds and musts which would have to take shape in the next expected cycle of light and dark. 

I've been struggling with all this since last night. Past midnight already, and I found myself staring at the ceiling, trying my best (and failing in the process) to empty my mind of all that should remain in the future. Now, here I am, stuck in the same albeit slightly graver predicament, grasping in hand what is hopefully a more concrete version of the things that should come. 

If it's any consolation for pragmatism, I never mean to drag this palette of mixed emotions back to my canvass every single time. It's the colors that come looking for me, or less pretentiously, I who get drawn to the colors, like a sailor who unwittingly follows the deathly call of the siren. Only, in time, the colors wash off, and I'm again this mundane, black-and-white figure as nature intended, neither wrecked nor slain by the mythical temptress. 

Maybe it's that unspoken need to escape the humdrum of earthly banality that's at work. Or, more likely (and therefore, less melodramatically), it's the fact that one never really knows what the final day will be like until it comes. More so with the day of departure. I'm probably waxing melancholic at the moment, but departures always need some preparation, and part of the preparation is anticipating and overcoming the eventual melancholy. 

In many ways, nostalgic may even be a better description of the state I'm currently in. Looking back, the past three weeks have been one fantastic train ride across town, a road trip encompassing multitudes of friendships and endless troves of memories once more unearthed. Faces again converged in front of mine, betraying years of experiences and deep-seated relationships. The ride was as scenic and colorful as I had envisioned it to be almost a month ago. 

I need to sleep. Perhaps this is the only way to finally douse the fires of fresh memories seemingly burning to no end within me. It's high time as well I attempt to reverse my body clock, though this would definitely be a futile one, an aimless effort to return to a lifestyle that now seems so distant. Dreaming may well be the solution, unreal as it is.

P.S. The Rule of Four is indeed a magnificent read. It's the kind of novel that sucks the reader in, drawing him to the lives of its fully developed characters, leading him to somehow doubt in the end the fiction in the very hearts of the people he'd supposedly just brushed arms with. I am, as one has seen, dripping with the aftertaste that the book leaves the reader.

Princeton University's Ivy Club, where the climax of The Rule of Four is set.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Body Clock

So I went nature tripping again this afternoon.

I was scanning pictures from the Beijing trip I had with a couple of high school people way back in first year as a prize for our winning a national "All About China" contest. When we went there, it was already midway through the beginning of the winter season; snow fell only during the first night, but the wind and air were cruel. Being the supposedly naive and clueless thirteen year old that I slightly refuse to believe I was, I was not allowed to bring the then-brand new digital camera. Ergo, I went to see the Great Wall with a traditional manual camera - and in a vicious turn of events, I somehow managed to delete all pictures in the roll of film that I'd brought to the Wall. I've somehow forgotten how it happened (there was a button I believe).

 The author at the Great Wall of China, Jan 6, 2006.

Anyway, the power (unsurprisingly) went out after the 8th photo. And as any rational person who'd been living in Manila for five months would do during a blackout in the provinces, I decided to get in touch with nature. But it's not like this was the first time I'd done it this semestral break. The power basically goes out for two short periods almost everyday here.  

So I first took the garden trail, and Troy was again happily keeping me company. He walked me all the way from the backyard to the front lawn, and stayed with me as I took in all the green Manila will never have to offer. Fluffy the Bitch was doing her weird stuff again - brushing herself against a bush or the leaves of a plant. It's just... eerie... like she's doing some sort of ritualistic love dance with the plant.

After the garden trail, I went to the rooftop. A slight commotion ensued, as Elphaba was blocking the stairs with her humongous, stinking brown body while licking a dead pig's femur. She had to be taken care of, meaning lured to the backyard, through ways our household helpers have mastered time and again. Just like Elphaba the Witch, I was free to head to the rooftop and do my own Defying Gravity (the dog doesn't have a broom, of course).

The first thing I noticed upon entering the rooftop was a peculiar brownish dot on the wall. It was an insect, I realized at first glance, but the body was simply a freak of nature. A closer inspection revealed something as nature had all along intended: a jumping spider clutching a dead thing with bee stripes. It was so beautiful, I nearly cried. The sun, though, prevented that.

The author at the Summer Palace, January 6, 2006.
 
* * * * *

The one thing I'd been so determined to do when break was still in the near-future was to fix my body clock. The first semester of year level 2 is evil, so they say, and it will twist your sleeping patterns in ways you can hardly imagine. Twelve becomes ten and ten becomes... well, still ten.

At this very hour, however, I grievously announce to the world that I have failed. Instead, I have done even worse damage to my body. Ever since I got here, I've been sleeping somewhere between twelve to one. Which is why I need to sleep now.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween

It's actually the first of November already, but what I did was to type a little something for this post and click 'publish', just so this would be my final entry for October. Halloween has been not at all eventful, save for finishing my Glee marathon this afternoon. We were supposed to go to my grandma's place for trick or treat with the cousins, but the circumstances changed. A class reunion had been scheduled for me earlier tonight, and my sister had an awful fight with her stomach (I could hear their desperate attempts to pull out each other's hair, all the while flooding the living room with invectives of all shapes and sizes). The closest I can now get to those Hollywood-spawned spooky sensations is by singing Jonathan Larson's melancholic lyrics: How did we get here? How the hell? It's from the musical Rent, kiddo. You know, the song Halloween? Act II? Never mind.

Original cast of 9works Theatrical's 2010 Manila production of Rent. Photo from Spot.PH.

* * * *

Maybe - though to say this would be to assume that you follow this blog as faithfully as you believe in your God - you remember the vow I made a couple of weeks ago? To post an entry everyday, with a song or two per entry? I think I may bury myself in the ground now, like how the samurais do harakiri when faced with shame or defeat.         

* * * *

So I made the cut. General Weighted Average for the 1st semester is 1.667. A college scholar nonetheless, but that's the lowest I've had in my three semesters plus a summer at the University. I do hope - and I certainly hope that hopes do come true - that that will be as low as I'll be able to make of my academics throughout college. (Just playing the nerdy geeky stereotypical Intarmed student here.) 

And yes, Organic Chemistry was as disgusting, degrading, and demeaning as everybody says it is.

* * * *

Two weeks ago, I attended the opening night of Atlantis Productions' A Little Night Music, directed by Bobby Garcia at the Carlos Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza. The outcome of my watching the musical can be stated in a single sentence as this: I still think Into the Woods is Sondheim's finest job, but Night Music now comes a close second.

What a masterful creation this Atlantis show was.

The stars of Atlantis Productions' A Little Night Music from left to right: Dawn Zulueta (Desiree), Nonie Buencamino (Fredrik), Cris Villonco (Anne), Felix Rivera (Henrik). 
Photo from The Philippine Star.

The biggest stars of the night for me were: Felix Rivera as Henrik (his Later was fantastically rueful and confused); Cris Villongco as the naive trophy bride Anne; Jake Macapagal as the domineering Count Magnus with a lisp; and Dawn Zulueta, who was a revelation as the faded actress Desiree. I will never - ever - look at Send in the Clowns the same way again (I do wish I can lay my hands on a recording of Dawn's bitterness-infused version).

Best musical numbers of the night were: Every Day a Little Death, that duet by Countess Charlotte (played by Jenny Jamora) and Anne that little by little makes the theater seem as fragile as the song; A Weekend in the Country, that perfectly executed Act One ender; and Send in the Clowns (I'd be damned if I didn't include this one). Honorable mention: You Must Meet My Wife, The Sun Won't Set, It Would Have Been Wonderful

Interior of the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City.

The year must end with The Wedding Singer, Xanadu (the rerun), and possibly, Little Women. Well, at least the year should hopefully end with them.

* * * *

Two weeks have passed. The semestral break's been one jolly ride - and I hope it continues to be so in its last nine days. Much of the break's been spent in the presence of high school classmates and batchmates - in the constant presence of some them, if I may say so. We've been working on our yearbook, which is taking forever to finish. This, then, must be the time when the world will finally see a forever that has an end, and may that end come faster than expected.

Tonight's reunion was a disaster. There were only nine of us, I was the only guy, and more than half  of those in attendance were yearbook people. We had dinner at Afrique's, dessert at Nothing But Desserts, and ice cream at Fiorgellato, interwoven with repetitive walks down Smallville.

Carbicide at Nothing but Desserts.

One last point: Iloilo City is a really small city. It really is.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lost Sheep

We are like abandoned sheep, left by the shepherd to wander the vast, empty field. The task, it seems, is for us to collect overnight all the tiny stones that would become pages of the holy book in its completion. The obstacle, however, is a moonless sky, betraying no ray of light, and consequently, not the slightest wish of good fortune from the heavens.

Grappling your way through a yearbook that’s almost a year late is a bore.

* * * *

This week, I entered in my personal pantheon of actors a former Desiree Armfeldt of the London stage and the man behind the film that gave Penelope Cruz her first Oscar.

In Annie Hall, Woody Allen plays the neurotic lover boy opposite Diane Keaton’s archetypal complicated woman, and when one matches a neurotic lover boy with the archetypal complicated woman, the result is hardly the 90-minute, 21st-century romantic comedy Hollywood devotees have grown accustomed to. Instead, you get the messy, fragile love affair of two unlikely people, the result of which includes a torrent of unexpected, psychoanalytical declarations of love from one, and not much brainy retort from the other.

Allen’s directorial touch becomes not the least bit unnoticeable within the first twenty minutes of the film, if only to use his more recent albeit similar work Vicky Cristina Barcelona as a companion movie. Perhaps, I’d be correct to some degree in saying that instability – be it in the narrative, the characters, or the characters’ affairs – is the mark of a finely crafted job by the American filmmaker (and playwright, and jazz clarinetist). Truly, the viewing of Annie Hall requires a brain that’s both wide awake and ready for some intellectual dramatic comedy (with more emphasis on 'dramatic' by a fraction).

However, while it was Keaton and her arachnophobic lady friend who were poised at the receiving end of many an awards night, the brightest star of the film, for me, is Allen’s seemingly brain-damaged comedian. In a highly nuanced performance that well dissected the depths of an imaginary person, the actor-director does a job with few parallels to this time. Alvy Singer, the fictional comedian, joins the ranks of Heath Ledger’s The Joker and Adrien Brody’s pianist in my personal list of topnotch onscreen acting, though of course Singer’s already had his spot reserved long before I knew how to operate a VHS player.

Unfortunately (?), it would be biased for me to say that Allen was robbed of the Oscar by Richard Dreyfuss in The Goodbye Girl, who won the award by also playing, according to Wikipedia, a neurotic.

* * * *

Notes on a Scandal is now my second most favorite dramatic film, next to John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt. Judi Dench redefines creepy as a spinster with unspoken lesbian intentions in life, preying upon the lonely and confused novice teacher played by Cate Blanchett. The part where Dench tries to convince Blanchett to accompany her to the vet for her cat’s euthanasia was a haunting display of desperation from the former. And Blanchett confronting and assaulting Dench over the secret diary, and subsequently blowing up amid a throng of media men made for a harrowing culminating scene. Of course, why there was the need for all that confrontation is for the viewer to find out. You’ll end up not feeling scandalized at all – or maybe more than scandalized.  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Two Days, Two Books

The typhoon that ravaged much of Luzon these past days has brought me some well-meaning benefits. Academic productivity is unquestionably on hold; thus, I awaken my inner bibliophile, as I have long intended but miserably failed to do so.

I find the bespectacled creature dusting away in some abandoned corner next to a pile of high school textbooks, and pull him out into the light like those Chilean miners (sans the darkness and despicable environment). As much as he struggles against my hold and the brightness, he loses the battle, and I casually throw him into the tub. The water swallows him up; for seconds, he seems to have drowned. But he doesn’t, or this entry would obviously end without a respectable climax. Like the Loch Ness monster, he rises out of the bubbles with sheer formidability that everything around me – the soap, the floor tiles, the toothbrush – melts in shame. Unfortunately, in that thousand-page litany of all molten things, I am included.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

In a few, slightly narcissistic ways, I feel like Crisostomo Ibarra of that novel by Rizal with the English translation, “Touch Me Not.” I come home to find out that my people are being robbed of their meager provincial earnings. The neighborhood tiangge is closing shop for good in a week’s time, while the men of the gasoline station are forced to head back to their mountainous abode by the end of the month – all because of this abhorrence that is invisibly taking place.

What I mean to say is: Not a day goes by that the power does not go out for at least an hour. Is this how Panay Electric Company defines ‘service’ in their undoubtedly dated dictionary?  I suppose the complete intricacies of the monopoly of a city’s power source are beyond my current understanding, but this is not a game. We are paying citizens, and we demand to be paid back. (The power goes out, yet again.)

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Life is about exceeding the unsurpassable. Every moment that one does that, one becomes entitled to a piece of fulfillment that society stores in a giant granary in the heavens. Thanks to Typhoon Juan, I deserve two pieces.

By now, you would have realized two things. One, that I have gone slightly overboard in inflecting my usual mundane prose with more ‘profundity’ than necessary; and two, that the previous paragraph makes the least sense among all that precedes this.

But really, life is about smashing the records – or dreaming of smashing them with a diamond-encrusted trophy, at least. And in the span of 48 hours, I smashed one of mine with a badminton racket – twice. Tuesday was spent with Orosa-Nakpil, Malate; today was a date with Salamanca.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Orosa-Nakpil, Malate concerns the escapades of a medical student in the gay community of Malate,  Manila, and his subsequent discovery of true love. A brilliant boy graduates valedictorian from high school amidst a slew of other honors, enters the UP College of Medicine’s Intarmed program, and begins his turbulent journey through the homosexual subculture. This, of course, is more than a terrible synopsis. But I imagine, as the author is himself a member of Batch 2010 of said prestigious program, that more than once was reality reflected or faintly twisted in the story.  

Honestly though, the writing failed me. I don’t blame the author: He’s no professional writer with rigid professional training. Or maybe I'm just not into his style of writing. But there came a point somewhere in the middle when I felt as though I was simply turning the pages, passing over each letter in anticipation of the end of this chore that was the flipping of pages. However, the twist – or twists, as they are so many – saved the book for me. A very impressive plot, I must say.

A passing thought: As an Intarmed student myself, I found it hard to ignore the crisscrossing highways of fact, fiction, and the in-between throughout the novel. I found myself asking, “How could he (the central character) possibly have the luxury of time to have a more-than-bustling nightlife amidst the hurricane that is the first semester of the second year?” Maybe he was memorizing all those reaction mechanisms for Organic Chemistry while barhopping.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

I bought Salamanca almost a year ago for the sheer reason that it won the Palanca Grand Prize for the Novel, as the front cover announces to the entire world. I must say, after the span of eleven hours that I devoured the book, Dean Francis Alfar has gained a fan.

The story is as simple as it is complex and metaphysically mind-boggling. The technique here, once the ‘magic’ begins in the first chapter, is to suspend disbelief and just ride along. One would find that the novel is indeed a very magical read, a creation of salamanca itself, if only to borrow from the almost indistinguishable line separating reality from imagination throughout the book. Indeed, Alfar’s prose overflows with beauty; his imagery is just stunningly vivid.  

Monday, October 18, 2010

Broken Vow

To scroll down this page would be to witness my utter failure in keeping my promise of a daily, bustling blogging life. How haunting that I should be humming Broken Vow at so early a time; how vexing is the reality that I have again made a fool of myself in the online society.

There, I just needed to blurt out some ‘profoundly constructed English sentences’.

Now I believe an explanation is overdue: The laptop that I am using cannot be connected to the wireless network here at home. Thus, I cannot freely access this blog to post hourly updates about me. Also, for the past 45 hours (otherwise known as the start of my provincial sembreak), I have been reduced to living the lifestyle of a pig.

Well not exactly a pig, but you get the point: Sleep, eat, walk around, eat, sleep. This, of course, is an exaggerated, semi-fictional version of things, but rest assured, I am nowhere near accomplishing my planned state of productivity for this vacation. 

I went to my grandparents' place this afternoon. Cousins and I watched that Discovery Channel show where the guy tries to survive the jungle. He killed a monitor lizard and a mangrove snake, and that just about made my day.

Friday, October 15, 2010

It's Official.

The semestral break officially began today. But I was already off since yesterday afternoon. After the Physics Lab exam, we had a celebratory lunch at the Chocolate Spoon. Then, I spent the rest of the afternoon idling around. The night was even idler than I’d expected. I watched Date Night with Tina Fey and Steve Carell. The story was pretty good for that level of filmmaking, if we’re talking on the same plane. The comedy was there all throughout; however, at more times than ten, it failed to deliver. Yet, overall, it came off as generally pleasing to the mind.

But now that it’s officially break, I shall revive this blog to the highest degree. I promise to post an entry everyday, and all of them shall include a song or two. I don’t know how I’d do it, as the very idea is still in formation. But we shall know by tomorrow, when I’ve landed in another, more peaceful world.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Goodbye, Chem31.

Let me start this post with a prayer. Dear God, thank you a million times over. For making my exemption from the OrgChem finals a reality. Thank you. There, amen.

Tonight has been the biggest surprise in the many recent nights that I've had. I had planned it all out earlier: Sleep, wake up in the morning, head for UP, check the results, have a haircut. But I opened my Facebook account, and behold, people were already shouting OrgChem exemption-related praises to the highest heavens. My heart, for the nth time in the past two days, jumped like mad. I entered Facebook Chat, found Jenn Gargar online as well, and asked her: May Chem na ba? (Is there Chem already?) - the results, I mean. She replied, yes. Then, she added in a split second: Exempted ka. (You're exempted.) It was enough to make me smile my widest in days, and shed a few tears - my first few in who-knows-how-long. And just like that, the five-month academic burden that was OrgChem fell off my back, shattered to pieces, and dissolved to nothingness.  

The period from Saturday evening to Monday evening (which is to say, three hours ago) was marked by spurts of imagination that resulted to my heart speeding up and my system panicking for no apparent physical reason. I would imagine what it would be like standing in front of the Department of Physical Sciences and Mathematics announcement board, seeing the exemption list. I would imagine my name being there - and me, jumping with joy. I would imagine going home to my Facebook account and cursing OrgChem for all eternity, bidding it a cold goodbye in the process. And I would imagine throwing my Chem module to the ground and crushing it with my feet, and even getting a pair of scissors to give the module a nice haircut. 

After all that, however, my mind would take a downturn. I would imagine my name not being on the list. I would imagine thinking what a fool I've been these past few days to actually think I'd somehow be exempted from the finals. I would imagine going home to a Chem module waiting to be opened again, and notes waiting for another read. And I would imagine myself waiting for Friday, and sitting another three-hour exam when Friday comes.

Then, my mind would say: Hey, no point worrying. If you're meant to take the finals, then you're going to have to take it. So chill, man. And chill I would. Until the next mental stimulus arrives, and the cycle repeats once again.

Not anymore. Because as Ellie de Castro would say it, "Being uncool has never been this fun." Or in Isabella Supnet's words, "Yes. I love being a loser." (Preface: As established last Saturday, "losers" are the ones who will be exempted from the finals.) So I say this with pride: I am one heck of a loser.

Anyway, let's call it a night. I'm, in part, thankful that all I've managed to do for the past 42 hours was finish Season 5 of Weeds in a day and watch Y Tu Mama Tambien. Of the former, I had this realization: The show is basically a look into the workings of what we 'normal people' would label 'the bad side'. In a way, the show is a question of morality itself. And of Alfonso Cuaron's pre-HP Azkaban film... well, I've never seen anything like it before. Nor have I seen so much, uh... well, let's just say it's bloody brilliant in a different way.

So for now, good night. God is great. Spread the love.

P.S. My OrgChem module is still intact. Any takers?

P.S.P. This post is so a collage of idea spurts, whatever this means. I'll talk for real - and in a more organized fashion - when Sembreak comes. Physics for now.

Friday, October 8, 2010

One Day More

As I write this, the final departmental exams for Physics Lec and OrgChem are less than 24 hours away. I am pretty much aware that I've left this blog barren for the rest of August, ever since I wrote my Cats review below. I am also aware that I did not write anything for September, even though it was a pretty eventful month for me: 2016 winning LadyMed, Xanadu, the Joanna Ampil concert, to name a few. As I found myself in the middle of last month struggling to find the time and the drive to write a post, I decided against it. So there, another month left out of the archives. This entry is only a filler; think of this as a sort of prelude to the resurrection of my blogging life next week. In the meantime, for the greater glory of Physics and OrgChem...

...One more day before the storm! At the barricades of freedom!...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fearless, Faithful Felines in Manila

"Cats," winner of seven Tony Awards in 1983, currently holds the position of third longest-running musical on Broadway and fourth longest of all time. The Asia-Pacific touring production presented by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions and the Really Useful Group runs from Jul. 23-Aug. 24 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo, and this writer saw the Aug. 10 and 14 8PM shows.


Invitation

The moment I saw the ad, my eyes were instantly drawn to the middle. It was the moonlight itself from the show’s biggest song made manifest in the form of letters.

"With Lea Salonga as Grizabella."

For someone too young to have caught "Miss Saigon," and too unfortunate to have missed "Cinderella," those five words were more than just an invitation. They were an order that spared no room for second thoughts: Watch "Cats," or wait for who-knows-how-long to see Kim-slash-Eponine-slash-Fantine grace local stages again.

That's probably what almost everyone else who bought a ticket to the currently running (until Aug. 22) Manila incarnation of the Tony Award-winning musical had in mind. A national treasure starring in a show that has conquered musical theater for almost thirty years: It was reason enough even for the most clueless and genuinely uninterested to head to the nearest Ticketworld outlet.

Beyond Lea and ‘Jellicles’

But after seeing the show, one realizes either of two things: That paying a few thousand pesos for a little more than ten minutes of Lea stage time is not worth it; or that, from the very first note of the overture, "Cats" is more than just Lea. Pity the person who has the former epiphany.

The plot, grabbing hold of which is certainly "no difficult matter," as the lyric goes, in the age of Wikipedia: A motley crew of felines gather in a humongous, perfectly scaled junkyard to celebrate the annual "Jellicle Ball." As the night progresses, each of the more ‘interesting’ cats tell its story, while everyone waits for the "Jellicle choice" to be made by the tribe leader. Throughout the night, a banished tribe member in a tattered fur coat makes several creepy appearances and sings "Memory" near the end to the audience’s delight. 

This musical is clearly about an entire tribe; the songs are about its individual members. If you come only for Lea, then you’re better off waiting for her next concert.

Now what on earth does "Jellicle" mean? And "Memory"--isn't that a Barbra Streisand song?  

Journey to the junkyard

I've been pretty much ready to tackle "Cats" as early as last Christmas, the soundtrack topping my music player's "Most Played" list. The 1998 version, I've seen several times. 

The moment I entered the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (or the CCP Main Theater, in simpler terms), my gaze immediately fixed on the stage. Truly, there's no judging the set design of "Cats" until one has seen it live; the film, bootlegs and pictures don't do it justice. Suddenly, one acquires an increased appreciation for the sewers, the distinctive car trunk, the gigantic tire and even the musical’s famous yellow moon on the background. The reflective stage floor, with the face of a tiger, furthers the air of mystery pervading the theater.

The lights dim. The overture begins. More mention of ‘Jellicles’ follow, as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s wildly colored, ‘fearless, faithful felines’ enter and exit the stage from every possible orifice. A sewer and a car trunk cease to be just part of the cityscape. And the cats tell their stories, one by one, in song and dance.

Crème de la crème

It's true: International productions such as this "Cats" have it better. The sea of talent out there is just so vast, so it's only natural to expect the finest performances from what one can assume are the crème de la crème of theater in the region.

John O’Hara is an extremely flirtatious and over-confident Rum Tum Tugger (that last "about" at the end of his signature song just soars), though the acting can be a bit much in some parts. Michael John Hurney effortlessly transforms into three very different characters--Gus, Bustopher Jones and Growltiger--during the course of the show. Lisa-Marie Parker, whether as the operatic Griddlebone or  mellow-voiced Jellylorum, is a vocal delight. John Ellis and Shaun Rennie--both powerful tenors--summon Old Deuteronomy and Munkustrap, respectively, to thunderous life. Monique Chanel Pitsikas as Bombalurina and Stephanie Morrison as Demeter turn "Macavity" into one sexy, jazzy number. And Adrian Ricks as Mr. Mistoffelees has given dance a new meaning on the Manila stage.

Personally, the best musical moments are the opening "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats," "The Jellicle Ball," "Gus, the Theater Cat," "Skimbleshanks" and "The Ad-dressing of Cats." 

‘Sorry, what was that again?’

There is, unfortunately, a catch. If you think the accents of J.K. Rowling’s teenage wizards are already hard enough to navigate onscreen, wait till the cast of this "Cats" sings for you.

Whether the songs came across as intelligible English or not may not have been a problem in tour countries such as South Korea and China. But it's different in Manila, where American imperialism continues to exert its heavy influence.

I think most will agree with me that comprehensibility is the foremost problem of this production. Nearly all of the cast, after all, are Australians.

For someone used to hearing English the stateside way, the song numbers can prove quite challenging. And sadly, even for someone who can, at the very least, sing along to most of the original cast recording, "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer" and "The Naming of the Cats" simply sounded alien. A friend of mine remarked that the only song where she did not have to strain her ears to understand the lyrics was "Memory."

All the theater’s a stage

But there's so much more to this production than just its Down-Under twang: A train manually assembled onstage; cats and mice in a grand tap number; enchanting terpsichorean displays in succession; the lighting design; and in "Moments of Happiness," a verse translated in Tagalog by Pete Lacaba and sung (in an amusing accent) by Alyse Jai Davies as Silabub.  

Best of all, there is the audience interaction throughout the show. The cats make their entrance during the overture via the public doorways. Rum Tum Tugger gets off the stage midway through his song to dance with the orchestra section. Jellylorum encourages everyone to clap for Gus during his number. And during intermission, the cats actually mingle with the audience, stay in character, have their pictures taken and their ‘fur’ stroked.

Grizabella's glamour

Among all cats, one towers above the rest here in Manila. "With Lea Salonga as Grizabella," the ads would say.

Indeed, much can be said of the year's most talked-about casting decision in local musical theater. First of all, Lea juts out from the entire cast simply because hers is the most understandable English for Filipino audiences. There's nary an unintelligible syllable when she sings.

I personally have no problem with Lea sounding too youthful for the part, as many have claimed. She plays the character as someone left behind by time, and not entirely a disheveled old hag with that raspy vocal quality (like Elaine Paige's or Betty Buckley's).

The only fear I had coming to the show was whether she could nail her eleven o'clock number, given her less-than-enthralling rendition of "Memory" during the production launch late last year. Having seen her twice in the role, I can tell you that she belts a formidable "Memory," that climactic verse--"Touch me/it’s so easy to leave me/all alone with the memory/of my days in the sun"--quite the enthralling highlight. And the way she lets the subsequent line--"If you touch me/you’ll understand what happiness is"--linger in the end is entrancing. 

There's your youthful-sounding Grizabella. 

Andrew’s finest

People may say "Cats," like Grizabella, is stuck in the past, in the glorious 80s. So you either love it or abhor it. You either love it or abhor it. The uninitiated audience member may end up wondering: Where the freaking hell is the story? Skeptics are bound to question the definition of plot as a mere string of musical vignettes. Haters will simply find the show pointless.

Me? I think it's the best of ALW’s creations. The eclectic score is its strongest suit. The two nights I spent watching this production were as near the Heaviside Layer as I could conceivably get.

After the Aug. 10 8PM show at Artists' Entrance, CCP Main Theater.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Postscript:

Five days after I got the autograph of and a picture with theater’s first ever Kim, I found myself in the company of two other original "Miss Saigon" cast members.

Last Sunday, the KAISA Heritage Center held a film showing of "Tsinoy – Kaisa Ka!," a musical revue about Chinese-Filipinos staged in 2007, directed by Nestor Torre. Among the guests were Isay Alvarez and Robert Sena. Talking with the original Gigi van Tranh, even for just a while, sure made my day.

Monday, August 9, 2010

And I Am Telling You (I'm Not Going)

The reign of the cat skeleton and musculature has ended. So instead of typing down all the mistakes that I made in the exams earlier – and I don’t wish to know just how many they are – I’ve decided to post the results of a game I played. And the name of the game is (cue ABBA music) Put-your-songs-in-shuffle-mode-and-answer-these-questions. It’s been around for a long time already, I know. I just found it in some random person’s Multiply account and thought it’s cool.

The rule, as mentioned a few lines back, is to put your music player in shuffle mode and click ‘next’ or whatever button it is for every question. The answers, of course, will be in the form of a song title, no matter how silly they may sound. Ready, set, shuffle!

Oh, being a big Broadway baby, most of the songs from my player come from one musical or another, so forgive the possible unfamiliarity. Also, no reflectory blahblah follows each song (I’m too lazy to write them). Search for the lyrics if you don’t know the song; answers are pretty much open for interpretation (since a lot of them hardly make any sense).

1. If someone says, “Is this okay?” you say?

“Disturbia” by Rihanna.

2. What would best describe your personality?

“Written in the Stars” from Aida.

3. What do you like in a guy/girl?

“February Song” by Josh Groban.

4. How do you feel today?

“Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely” by the Backstreet Boys.

5. What is your life’s purpose?

“Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now” from Hairspray.

6. What is your motto?

“Without You” by Mariah Carey, sung by Clay Aiken.

7. What do your friends think of you?

“No Good Deed” from Wicked.

8. What do you think of your parents?

“Think of Me” from The Phantom of the Opera.

9. What do you think about very often?

“Serious” from Legally Blonde the Musical.

10. What do you think of your best friend?

“Letterbomb” by Green Day, sung by the cast of American Idiot the Musical.

11. What do you think of the person you like?

“Flying Home” from Songs for a New World.

12. What is your life story?

“Tonight” from West Side Story.

13. What do you want to be when you grow up?

“Heaven” by Bryan Adams, sung by John Barrowman.

14. What do you think when you see the person you like?

“Taylor, the Latte Boy” by Kristin Chenoweth.

15. What do your parents think of you?

“A Hundred Million Miracles” from Flower Drum Song.

16. What will you dance to at your wedding?

“Touch My Hand” by David Archuleta.

17. What will they play at your funeral?

“Popular” from Wicked.

18. What is your favorite hobby/interest?

“Michael Jackson Medley” by Sam Tsui.

19. What is your biggest fear?

“The Tracks of My Tears” by MoTown, sung by Adam Lambert.

20. What is your biggest secret?

“Mad World” by Tears for Fears, sung by Adam Lambert.

21. What song will be the title when you repost this?

“And I Am Telling You (I’m Not Going)” from Dreamgirls.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Multifidus Spinae

The focus right now is the cat. The muscles... and the bones. After all that, even the forearm with all its curvatures will never seem the same again. Just today, I’ve started noticing the leg of every person in shorts – how the gastrocnemius would join the foot at its calcaneus insertion, a distinctive stem-like structure at the ankle. When origin, insertion, and action have been written down on the exam paper, I move on from cadavers to alive-and-kicking fearless felines singing and dancing onstage. Oh yes, Cats on August 10 8PM – my first time inside CCP, and more importantly, my first to see Lea perform in a theatrical production.

Ah, Chemistry… and Nelson’s questionable answer key. I’d like to say more about the exam, but even blog-walls have eyes.

My voice is temporarily gone. I can’t sing. I can’t even speak properly. Truly, the life of an animated voice-box is a complicated one.

Thank you to Madi for a wonderful Pampanga weekend. The Family Guy episode (NAAFP!), delayed bus ride, gigantic late dinner, videoke, OJ’s gameface, the bed, the pre-sleep talk, the sardine sleep, brunch, lounging around, MJ, and Mulbert. By the way, Iloilo’s just an hour away by plane.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Road to Equus

Exactly a week ago, I bought one prime seat--three rows away from the stage--to the final matinee performance of Repertory Philippines’ revival of "Equus"--that Tony Award-winning play by Peter Shaffer about a young man’s psychotic adoration for horses, recently made more popular (and controversial) by Harry Potter himself. This was going to be my very first "straight play."

That show was yesterday. And the whole ordeal of getting to the venue reminded me of that Chinese adage my brother used for his high school valedictory speech: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. In my case, though, it seemed more like "a single step begins a thousand-mile journey."

It started pouring around noon--and didn’t stop ‘til evening. The stupid part was that I decided to wait it out and leave at around 2:15. No luck getting a cab along Juan Luna St. I even walked as far up as the plaza, to no avail. Walked back home, but the guards in our building didn't have the numbers of taxi operators. Walked back to Juan Luna again. Since desperate times call for desperate measures, I boarded a random jeepney. It was already 2:45.

Manila was flooded to the shank, apparently. In what I consider to be a stroke of destiny, I actually boarded the wrong jeepney--the ones that pass along Orosa, Kalaw and Del Pilar. By that time, I was already thinking of just getting off at Robinsons and watching "Inception" instead. But the farther we traveled, the more empty taxis I saw, and that was how I decided to get off at UN-Del Pilar and head for Bayview Park Hotel. 

I was right. At around 3:03, I easily hailed a cab at the corner of Bayview. He agreed to drive me all the way to Greenbelt, but for a higher fee, since we’d be passing through flood-submerged roads. Between missing the show and shelling out a little more, I’d choose the latter anytime. There was heavy traffic again along Osmeña Highway (apparently, SLEX Manila-Makati is not spared the floodwaters), so we had to go ‘round EDSA and Magallanes.

The ending: I missed the first ten minutes of the show.

About the production: Miguel Faustmann totally brought the poor psychiatrist Dysart to life and hit all the right spots in his monologues. Marco Manalac's Alan Strang actually impressed me, his lanky frame wrapped in palpable pain. The slutty girl, however, was a bit annoying (maybe it was the accent).

Again, this was only my first "straight" play, so there's really no way for me to say how good or bad it was. I did have a great time, though, but then again, don't we all have a great time at the destination after thousand-mile journeys?

Friday, July 16, 2010

I should be studying for the OrgChem exam tomorrow, but instead came up with this.

Net connection is finally back. After three freaking days. I’d like to describe those days with more, shall we say, deplorable adjectives, but I’d be too lazy to clean up the stains they’d leave behind.

I’m issuing a Fatwah here. For the ignorant-when-it-comes-to-Islamic-terminology, a fatwah is an official announcement by an imam, proclaiming the Muslim community’s stand on a certain issue. It’s something like a statement, like GMA with her ‘I am Sorry’ televised speech. Only that she had the first three words and the entire country had a billion more afterwards to condemn her.

But we should move on now. The woman’s no longer in the Palace. New administration, people. New guy in the house. Semi-bald guy in the house. I wonder if they’re going to paint the Palace yellow.

Anyway, going back to fatwah. So you may as hell be wondering why I’m going Islamic all of a sudden. And you guessed it right: It’s one of the few darn items that I missed in the History exam last Mundee. Sir Esguerra’s hint went like this: There was this fatwah after the 9/11 attacks. So I answered demon. As in the supposed face of Satan in those pictures of the smoke billowing from the WTC. Maybe in a past life, I was an imam. I really believe I was an imam.

By the way, thank you to the iffing storm that jumped out from behind last Tuesday. Really nice trick you pulled on me back there. You waited for me to board the jeepney, then peed on Manila on my way home, and finally vomitted a skyful of rain at me as I got off the jeepney. Really wonderful experience walking on swollen Dasmarinas street, by the way. The water was just lovely.

Thanks to the blackout too. I really appreciate it. Go to storm-hell.

P.S. Imed 2016 is raising funds for this year’s LadyMed like wolves on the hunt, and I like the fun. Oh yeah.

P.S. ‘Eclipse’ is waaaaay better than ‘Twilight’ and ‘New Moon’. It’s got some cool fight/chase scenes… but still crappy. The whole saga is.

The Second Jarby Anniversary

Happy 2nd birthday, The World According to Jarby! Sorry the greeting’s late by a day. Blame the net connection.


It’s All About the Free Sundae – when Jarby celebrates a fake birthday at Gumbo’s in order to have their free sundae and satisfy a craving.

The Referent Theory of Talking – when Jarby applies what he’s learned in Philosophy I and tries to explain some people's principles on conversation.

Diliman – when Jarby has a day of firsts, the highlights being his first ride on the LRT and his first walking tour of UP Diliman, when he accompanies three other classmates to visit their high school classmates.

Walt Disney films in the UP curriculum – when Jarby puts a crazy idea (and they are countless in his mind) to writing: Disney films as part of the University’s curriculum with exams about the films – UP style; this, being a result of his mapping out the family tree of Simba out of boredom.


Walt Disney films in the UP curriculum II – when Jarby transforms a beloved Disney film into an exam, as a continuation of his imaginary curriculum.

That Blasted Bird – when Jarby gets attacked by what he suspects to be a mutated sparrow while walking along Padre Faura street – or maybe he was just imagining things?

The Queen – when Jarby writes a descriptive essay as a requirement for Lady G’s class, about a cat that is in real life, Lady G herself.


Dreams and Pastures – when Jarby writes about how the Filipino youth can help build a globally competent nation, an essay that won him 2nd place in the Palanca Awards Kabataan Essay English category that year.

ananlyzing a patch of dreamy pasture – when Jarby does just that: analyze a patch of grass.

Wrapping Up – when Jarby summarizes almost an entire month’s worth of travails, including a trip to Clark, a meet-up with an old friend, and sharing a bed with Dengue.


how i finished my term paper body – when Jarby gives credit to Typhoon Ondoy for giving him time to finish his research paper for Lady G ahead of the deadline.

remembering tagaytay… but it’s not dead – when Jarby bulletizes Intarmed 2016’s History 5 field trip in Tagaytay and its neighbors.

Gorilla – when Jarby remembers a particularly brainless incident involving him, an ape, and a black butterfly.

Cruising in Midtown – when Jarby takes a leak at a restroom in Robinsons Midtown, only to discover that wild things happen there.


Just something – when Jarby discovers something about someone somewhere and gets the shock of his life.


Christmas Day – when Jarby creates a collage of thoughts for the holiday.


The Definition of Instinct – when Jarby writes down his thoughts on the riot that has been going on in Intarmed 2016’s Social Science I class under Vitz.

Waking Life – when Jarby publishes a writing assignment on a film they watched in Philosophy I under Tius.

Addicted – when Jarby writes about a former drug addict who dropped by for a talk during an NSTP class the previous semester.

The Blind Side – when Jarby patronizes two films that he watched on his own and mesmerized him, sort of.


V-Day – when Jarby rants about the one film that somehow defined Valentine’s Day for the year.

A Song About Painting – when Jarby waxes poetic on the case of the ‘doctors to the barrios’ and wins a prize in the process.


Postcard from Hellmonth – when Jarby emits a postful of thoughts amidst the hustle and bustle of the heaviest and final month of Intarmed Year Level I life.

Your Island – when Jarby is inspired by Kevin Jer David’s story about the deaf frog in the hole.

I’d Like to See Your Face – when Jarby expresses his rage over his most disastrous exam in any Math subject in UP.

You’re a Little Bit Racist – and I’m a Little Bit, too – when Jarby finds love in Avenue Q.

To Zurich, with Love – when Jarby brings out the poet in him for a trip to Switzerland.


She made my day. – when Jarby meets a check-in counter attendant bursting with corporate sunshine at NAIA 2.

Four Poems – when Jarby publishes four pieces of poetry that had previously been published in high school.

Something – when Jarby fills up space while making something else.


June – when Jarby welcomes himself back to the blogosphere.

Retrospection – when Jarby does just that: retrospection.

Children of Change – when Jarby publishes his failed entry to this year’s Palanca Awards. No Peninsula this September 1, then.

Our Piece of Earth – when Jarby, as a high school senior, pretends to be an eighty-something survivor of the Second World War.

Flies and Freedom – when Jarby laments the sad case of journalists in this guilt-ridden country.

Movie Mania – when Jarby laments the horror of trash that is SATC 2 and explores the cases of recently seen movies.

Fish – when Jarby shares with the entire animal park-hating Filipino community his thoughts on Manila Ocean Park: That the place is cooler than they think. Went there with the Madi, the Clam, the Wowie, and the Theia.


A Little Fall of Rain – when Jarby finally accepts the fact that the rainy season has arrived – and that slippers are never good for school.

religious at ten forty-four – when Jarby drops a line while studying for the Histo exam where he surprisingly scored 94% or a 1.3.