Wednesday, October 17, 2012

'Café Comforts'

It’s out! My poem “Café Comforts” is part of Issue 15 (Autumn 2012) of Diverse Voices Quarterly, an American literary e-zine. The entire issue (which includes my somewhat self-indulgent author’s bio–sorry, am not yet used to capsule-writing about myself) can be downloaded for free through the link below.

*    *    *    *    *

The swirling of steam as it spirals to the ceiling
like a ballerina twirling in numberless pirouettes
gives life to the cup growing cold
in your bare rugged hands.

You whisper in the simmer,
through alternating sips and silence,
the stories pervading the cursory pathways
crafted on your skin.

In this meager setup,
you regale, I remember; you imply, I imagine;
and our cities of sorrow, callow shores, sunsets,
country sides, stars, communal settings –
rise with the smoke to the overhead chandelier.

Over the prancing and brazen glancing
of customers and cats on the sidewalk,
you become the idea and I,
your mural of childhood caricatures –
bursting with color beneath layers of dust.

But once more, the door opens to welcome
the newest buyer, and your eyes betray
a hunger for hours of solitude, for song
and symphonies and speech,
and so you slither back to your cheap comforts
and coffee.

*    *    *    *    *

Sembreak is finally here! I can feel it in the water, I can feel it in the air (channeling Galadriel here). Also, the other day, I finally received word from the editors of Philippine Speculative Fiction 8. End of story. But hey, that’s an email from the Alfars (which can mean nothing to someone else). As they say, you win some, you lose some–but you never stop writing.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Nine, The Seagull, and Other Matters

i. The Journey

1. Last Friday, friends and I watched Atlantis Productions' staging of Kopit and Yeston's Nine (which closed yesterday) at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City. How I got to the theater is already an epic in itself. In the spirit of good vibes, I shall not disclose my amazing journey here. In psychology, they call it repression. Sad to say, I missed the first one-and-a-half lines of the musical. And that Friday traffic will forever be a curse of Manila.

ii. The Musical

2. Probably the most elaborate set design the Romulo Auditorium will ever have. David Gallo is indisputably a master of his craft. Jay Aranda's lights only made it all the more impossible not to fall in love with the technicals of the show.

3. The singing was impeccable. "Lalalalalala..." is still stuck in my mind. The inconsistency in the accents of the cast, that was disturbing. Why weren't they able to settle on just one?

4. Cherie Gil as Liliane. Carla Guevara-Laforteza as Carla. These two gorgeous women inhabiting their roles with so much passion and dedication won't be leaving my memory anytime soon (or ever).

5. Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, you are the definition of clarity. Can you do no wrong onstage? And a shout-out to Reg Claravall as the best gondolier in town.  

6. Eula Valdes was a stunning demi-goddess as Claudia - she could have been goddess, were it not for the imperfect top notes in Unusual Way

7. What to make, then, of a Nine whose weakest link is ultimately its Guido Contini? The role is one of the toughest in the gamut of musical theater leads, no doubt. But it still pains me to say that Jett Pangan's Guido was nowhere near his best (which was seen and should be seen again in Next to Normal - a heartbreaking turn as Dan Goodman). Where was genuine desperation? Where was internal destruction? In the end, the singing was soaring, the character, a caricature. (Bobby in Company, that's what Mr. Pangan ought to do next. Theater gods, hear this prayer.)

8. Did I enjoy Nine? Yes, though watching with friends probably had much to do with that.   

UP Med 2016 at Nine.

iii. The Stage Door

9. The only time I've "stagedoored" was during Cats with Lea Salonga. But Reg is a friend of one of us, so there. Never knew this could be so much fun, ambushing the actors.

10. Menchu, on whether she'll finally do Gypsy next year: "I want to!!!" (Grabs my shoulders and shakes me.)

11. Cherie Gil, on the possibility of ever doing Doubt again: "I don't know if that's possible, but I'd like to do another role. I'm doing The Graudate next year."

12. Ima Castro (Sarraghina), upon finding out we're from UP Med: "UP Med?! My gosh, UP Med!"

13. Jay Glorioso (Guido's mother) is the gentlest person ever.

iv. The Aftermath

14. We went to Mercato. Rafael Rosell was there. I intentionally passed by him, just so I can claim to have passed by him. Marina is still the 2nd best Filipino television soap for me (after Tayong Dalawa). This is not a discussion on local television soaps, so leave out the criticism.

v. The Next Day

15. Went to UP Diliman for the final English performance of Dulaang UP's The Seagull (by Anton Chekhov). Now where did I read (online) that the Guerrero Theater is in Palma Hall Annex? And to the woman in PhAn who compassionately told me to take an ikot to get to the theater, did you even hear which theater I was asking about?

16. There are so many things that could have gone right with this take on The Seagull. Focus was something the production could have given more work on.

17. Ana Abad Santos as Irina stole the entire show. They should have renamed this The Seagull, or the Ana Abad Santos show, featuring Jeremy Domingo. Mr. Domingo played Trigorin. Leo Rialp (Dorn), Stella Canete Balucas (Polina), Jaime Yambao (Shamraev), and Jacques Borlaza (Sorin) round out the list of six performers who actually delivered and gave justice to their roles. This is all the praise I have for the entire company of actors.

18. I just have to get this out of my system: The actor who played Konstantin was a warbling mess.

vi. The Publication

19. I'm finally getting published! "Cafe Comforts" will appear in the Fall issue of Diverse Voices Quarterly, an American online literary magazine. As the High School Musical tune goes, "It's the start of something new..."

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Notes on "The Mistress"

1. Finally got to see The Mistress, the it girl of local screens for the past three-and-a-half weeks – of course, word-of-mouth is ever the irresistible tool to get the hoi polloi to fill the cinemas to the brim and exit a couple of hours later bursting with satisfaction. 

2. (Above), plus a good old love team that nobody seems to tire of. But more on that later. In short, and in true Pinoy fashion, we simply had to find out what all the fuss was about. Who hasn’t curiously looked at the goings-on of a vehicular accident, anyway?

3. According to one of my friends, “Filipino cinema has finally matured with this film.” I’d have burst out in protestation were it not for my then lack of counter-evidence. Well now I can say to her with utmost confidence and Ebertian certainty, “Maturity my face.” 

4. It's amazing Sari (Bea Alonzo) isn't the least bit freaked out/ scandalized by the maniacal English-spurting stalker inhabiting the  body of JD (John Lloyd Cruz) in the National Book Store opening sequence.

5. The ubiquity of English language dialogue is sort of disturbing. One Tree Hill also had drama, sex, bitching, and infidelity.

6. My favorite character is Anita Linda as Alzheimer's-stricken granny, but then, the filmmakers intended for hers to be our favorite character. Old person plus mental disorders plus good-guy/girl disposition should never fail to win the audiences over. 

7. It's even more amazing, however, how the filmmakers equate a scar on the forehead signifying previous traumatic head injury as primary cause for the Alzheimer's.   

8. Hilda Koronel is love - has always been, ever since she taught me the word "pucha" in Crying Ladies (2003).

9. What's with Filipino films these days and taglines?!

10. "I live to disappoint you, father!" Now I'm no fan of Star Wars, but what's up with that?!

11. The last thirty minutes could have been cut out, and the result would have been a more superior film. I mean, cold patriarch gets an MI to cause a father-son reconciliation? Come on now.

The requisite morning-at-the-beach scene. Photo from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.