Sunday, October 31, 2010


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!...