Sunday, July 22, 2012

Batman, Carnage, and Some Other Culture-y Stuff

... It's hard to measure how epic The Dark Knight Rises really is. The opening sequence set some thousands of feet in the air is deliciously fast-paced and suavely crafted, yet has the IQ of a delinquent. That, however, is saved by the stock market and football stadium/ blowing up the tunnels scenes. 

... Gotham as New York City in a parallel universe is spot-on, especially with the Occupy Wall Street references. Social commentary reminiscent to and possibly as audacious as Hugo's Les Miserables courses through TDKR's veins. Is the film showing us what can very possibly happen if one just 'gives the city back to the people'? 

... Anne Hathaway's Catwoman is... gorgeous. Christian Bale is simply normal, yet again. This Batman film has an extremely bland and unintelligible villain. Tom Hardy is barely of use here. Seriously, the climactic one-on-one is a fist fight between Bane and Batman? I think Christopher Nolan watched a bit too much sensationalized boxing somewhere in the process of making the film. 

... The nuclear bomb ending is oh so unoriginal - we've seen that before, in Angels and Demons. But the Marion Cotillard villain twist and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Robin are beautifully played out. So, can Nolan ever top his Inception? Where does TDKR place against its predecessor? Is there any villain out there that can actually be better than Ledger's Joker?

The set of Atlantis Productions' God of Carnage, July 13-22 at the RCBC Theater, Makati City. The woman kneeling is Lea Salonga in the role of Veronica. Photo from - Philippines.

... "(Atlantis Productions') God of Carnage is smashing, devilish fun." -Gibbs Cadiz, The Philippine Daily Inquirer. Anyone out there who disagrees is a phony. I don't know what else to say, except that this is the best quartet in theater I've ever seen. To the people who missed this one, poor you.            

... There were children in this afternoon's performance. Parents, please be more responsible. Maybe some of you thought this was a musical starring Lea Salonga as another doomed heroine? I feel for the kids; they must have felt so violated and confused. Imagine having your generation generalized as savages.

... Dear Menchu Lauchengo-Yulo, you are the best thing in this play. The vomit scene was just priceless. And it's so nice to see Salonga not sing for once, and nail the part. And I believe we have to see more of Art Acuna on the Manila stage. And Adrian Pang should definitely work more often in the Philippines. Maybe they can do Follies sometime with Menchu and Lea and Adrian and Audie Gemora... just a thought. 

... Three Sundays ago, I had my very first taste of the Virgin Labfest, this annual play festival at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. I caught Set E: Virgin Labfest 7 Revisited - essentially the three best plays from last year. It's probably the most hilarious, mind-tickling theater experience I've had. Cris Pasturan in Kawala, Ana Abad Santos and Frances Makil Ignacio in An Evening at the Opera, and the closeted quartet of Kafatiran - I bow to you. And I sincerely hope Abad Santos would reprise her Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire.

... Move over, Tobey Maguire - Andrew Garfield's Spiderman is so much more complex and carefully studied.

... Awkward, the MTV series about sexually active high school sophomores who look like college seniors, made my Saturday one of the funniest I've ever had. "What's up with the long faces? It's like a Sarah Jessica Parker convention in here."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Conquering the UP Medics' Poetry Tilt

So... I won both first and second prizes in this year's UP Medics' Poetry-Writing Contest, with the theme "Code Blue: Verses of Survival." Very thankful. The competition was open to all students of the UP College of Medicine and had two categories (English and Filipino) with separate sets of winners for each. There was no limit as to the number of poems one could submit, so I sent in four. As the saying goes, "winning once is great, but winning twice is greater." (I just made that up, yes.)

*    *    *    *    * 

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, in Verse


When you said I was dying,
I thought you were talking of liberation
from lust. I thought you were talking
of permanent escape from one-night stands,
musty motel rooms, rubber condoms; I thought
‘dying’ was my new lease on life.

When you said ‘dying’ as a vague certainty,
like blank canvass and oil brushes, or blank stares
and oiled bodies, I was thinking of thought;
I was thinking of possibilities – those which can be,
which can only be – in mundane semantics.  

For what else could you have said; what meaning
could have hidden behind the vagrancy
of your sentence? That I was dying
must not have been among them.


I would like to do a million things.
Slaughter sheep. Break some boy’s bones.
Drown ducklings. Cripple kittens.
Shoot an arrow straight at the nurse’s neck.
Strangle the doctor with his stethoscope.
I would like to do these things and a million more.


When you said I was dying,
I thought of giving away the garden.
The orchids on the trellis, ceramic pots,
pliant bamboo straight from Sichuan.
I thought of giving away the dog.
the kitchen. the marble counters.
The parquet floor and Roman tapestries.

When you said I was dying,
I was ready to hand death over
in exchange for something smaller,
less grandiose – say, a new lease on life.


I would like to bury myself beneath bags
of sand. Fill my guts with gravel, grind my flesh.
I would like to swallow the sea, and be swallowed.
I would like to burn, to bask in the false glory
of flames in a pyre. To play with fire, to turn
to ashes. I would like to sleep, and wake up
one with the embers.


When you said I was dying,
and you said a million other things,

I picked up my suitcase, my somber delusions,
and a dandelion, dead, fallen on my feet;

I strapped on my sandals, steadied my staff
to part the swirling sea of sickness and sanity;

When you said I was dying,
I headed for the door, out to the garden,

and there, on the bushes, the first blossoms
of morning – my new lease on life.

*    *    *    *    *

A Journey by Train
I would like to step on a train that will take me to places
teeming with people from the tip of a painter’s brush.

Such as sidewalk cafés swirling with strangers’ sweat
and stench, and cinnamon and cheese and coffee cups.

Such as boulevards by the bay and their emptiness
come evening, carefully cradling a city’s craggy coastline.

Such as galleries guarding a million murals, statues of naked men,
and sculptures scavenged from the sundried soil of Spain.

I would like to sit by the windows and see the countryside
fade to a blurry smudge, like pastel colours tainted with tears.

Meadows shall melt to muddles of green and yellow,
and sunflowers will be specks of sawdust in the air.

Trees will turn to wooden tinsels lined up in rows,
or toy soldiers, browned from battle, with wreaths on their heads.

I would like to let the tracks carry my carriage ‘cross stone bridges,
into verdant valleys carved from the bosom of mountains.

I would like to feel the shaking of steel beneath my rested feet,
as if I were in some bustling town, ‘stead of rustic country.

As if office buildings were made of stone and fertile soil,
and restaurants sat beside streams, and disco bars beside pasture.

Come sunset, the sky would burn a brazen, blinding orange,
and clouds would calmly drift like shiftless sheep in the field.

Come nightfall, the rain would gently wash grit and grime
off the silent, tired ground – gruff like the listless labourer.

I would like to capture more photographs in the camera
of my mind, but then the train would slowly come to a halt.

There in the heart of the woods, or the stone pavement of a station,
I would get off, bringing only my limbs, some pieces of luggage,

and the dreamy vividness of the journey. And soon wake up,
midnight, back on the coldness of my hospital bed.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Happy 85th Birthday, Oh Kind Sir!

I know this is a week late, but Pharma, and not procrastination, is to blame.

I find it hilarious, as do many others - in fact, virtually everyone who knows - that at your age, you still find the energy to wake up at 4-ish in the morning and jog around the subdivision before the crack of dawn. People my age can't even wake up early enough to get to class on time.

I think you have the most powerful knuckles your side of the age spectrum. Though you may hardly notice it, we cousins always exert a certain amount of control over your hand as we draw it to our foreheads for the requisite mano. You once quasi-punched me, do you know that? And that ring on your finger almost broke through my skin.

You walk like mad. You can actually "out-walk" almost all the girls in class. And you can "out-speak" those people as well, no doubt. Heck, you can "out-speak" everyone in the family (maybe except your eldest daughter, whose speech we've always compared to a buzzing bee). 

People say you're one of the kindest persons they've ever known, as if kindness were something that develops over time. I suppose they've met thousands of people in their lives to be able to say that.

I don't know - I've always thought you're innately kind, loving, everything superlatively good. But maybe that's just a grandson being biased.    

Happy 85th birthday to the best maternal grandfather in the world!


Saturday, July 14, 2012

My Head Is Sort of Messy

So... I'm sick. I just produced my first yellow-green phlegm. Ugh. As it slowly slithered down the sink, I touched it. Felt like... oyster. Soft, moist, gooey. Just kidding. I didn't really touch it. But oh, the temptation was strong, it was.

It's mid-July. I get sick every year around this time. It's like my body had it scheduled when I was just a toddler. Or maybe it's the crazy cough-and-cold epidemic plaguing our noble lecture hall. 

I suppose it is kind of requisite for us medical students to fall ill every now and then. That way, we become more and more acquainted with the sick body. I've always liked crocodiles. I think we ought to have a crocodile sanctuary here in Manila. Like a really famous sanctuary that would pull the tourists in. They're starting international flights from Iloilo Airport by October. Cough. Sniff. I feel so random. Ugh.

We have our first pharmacology exam on Monday. I better get started.

 Highest score ever in Temple Run. What a loosah.