Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Lovely Month of July

Pretty bad last two days. We're in Internal Medicine now, and I received this patient who almost bled to death. End-stage kidney failure, and she developed uremia, a condition in which all the vile nitrogenous waste in your blood can't be excreted by your kidneys (because they're too damaged to function), so your body essentially goes nuts--one manifestation of which is developing ulcers that can and will bleed terribly. Woman's in the ICU now (we really thought she wouldn't last the night, which came as quite a heavenly surprise that I woke up the following morning without a text message declaring her demise). Don't get me wrong, though: I love Internal Medicine. It's one of my three choices for residency (along with psychiatry and ophthalmology). There, now you know.

REAL-TIME UPDATE: We just coded/CPR-ed a patient. He died.

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Internship really is the best year. July for our block was a vacation, a time when I'd catch myself thinking, Hey, your mind ain't thinkin' nothin'. Just... zen. 

It started with us decorating our big-assed friend Justin's car.

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We went to Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo City, and the best thing about it is that it's right along the path of NAIA's departures and arrivals. I saw Eva Air's A330, for one.

This is Pia, being a pabebe.

Pinto is pretty big, and we realized you need an entire day to really appreciate everything (we only allotted three hours, and then we were hypoglycemic and were racing to Capitolyo and landed in Poco Deli). 

So much of Pinto seems inspired by Santorini, the most hackneyed place in Greece. 

My favorite exhibits:

"Quiapo Ibabaw," oil on canvas by Emmanuel Garibay, 1993.  

"Prusisyon," acrylic on canvas by Neil Manalo, 2011.

A taxidermy of something.

"The Hollow Man," wire and resin by Alab Pagarigan, 2013.

Pia completing Daniel dela Cruz's "Pilgrimage."

Church in a slanted world.

UST overrun by rats.

Carmela playing Joan of Arc/Disney's Esmeralda. 

I recreated a scene from John Logan's "Red"--the painter Mark Rothko, with his back to the audience, in front of a bloody red canvas. Unfortunately, few people got the reference when I posted this in Facebook. I was embarrassed on their behalf.

We had our graduation photo shoot. Can you believe it's been almost seven years?

The House of Yu in Café Chosun, Adriatico cor. Pedro Gil St., Malate, Manila.

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Carmela and I went to Avilon Zoo on a Thursday. (The psychiatrists had their convention, so the out-patient clinics got cancelled for that day.) Apart from us, there were only two other visitors in that 7.5-hectare slice of paradise, where sagely hornbills and hungry arapaimas greeted you at the entrance.


African leopard.

A fat, extremely cuddly black bear.

This sun bear was so smart, it managed to get itself on that ledge but couldn't figure out how to get down.

Blackbuck antelopes.


Two pairs of mating tortoises. I have a video--complete with sound effects!--that has the potential to go viral.

A huge-ass Burmese python.

A huge-ass king cobra.

Monocled spitting cobra.


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Then there was this Sunday when I went to the book sale of one Jason Moss, son of the eminent copywriter Arnold Moss. 15 titles for P300! After that, I went to the PETA Theater Center for the January-June deliberations of the Gawad Buhay! Awards. Yes, am now a member of the jury starting this year. So far, a terrific year for straight plays, and a lousy one for musicals.

Sister Vibered this photo of mother during her birthday.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

PDI Review: 'No Filter: Let's Talk About Me' by The Sandbox Collective

My review of "No Filter" is in today's Inquirer--here. To all the conyo kids out there, this is your show! Get off your ass and go see it! Book a couple of tickets and text a friend, "Hey, I'm watching No Filter, wanna come with?" It's not your usual house party chismisan, swear, and if you have a car, then it'll be so not hassle. Bro.

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Navel-gazing made eloquent and fascinating

(L-R): Mikael Daez, Saab Magalona-Bacarro, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, Cai Cortez, Khalil Kaimo.

"A play by millennials for millennials about millennials" is how The Sandbox Collective's latest production, "No Filter: Let's Talk About Me," fancies itself--a two-hour, 19-monologue original work.

The tagline is nothing if not fitting: This is such a self-absorbed piece of theater--and that's an excellent thing. So deep is its fascination with its subjects and its devotion to exploring every inch of their skins that the result drips with earnest sincerity.

Dishonesty is this show's idea of hell, and well-meaning self-deprecation its choice of banter.

But if the tagline sounds smugly all-encompassing, then the invisible sub-clause, the unspoken definition of "millennials," should be pointed out: In this show at least, it's limited to the subset of Metro Manila youth with (more than) enough money to spare for a night at the theater and perhaps a nice late dinner afterwards.


"No Filter" pokes fun at hangovers and the "Titas" of Manila, assumes the viewer's familiarity with Instagram and Tinder, and believes the struggle with free-cable internet back in the Paleolithic late '90s to have been a universal one.

What is spoken here is the language of the privileged--not exactly the exclusive-school born-and-raised, but those who, at one point in their young lives, might have had to make extremely difficult choices on matters such as travel, android phones, and heaven bless them, the perfect outfit.

If you identify with these people, then yes, this is the show for you. The "feels," as kids these days are wont to say, run aplenty, and so do the laughs and maybe even tears.

As for the rest of the common folk, fret not. It isn't everyday--heck, every year--that an original English-language Filipino work blazes our way with this eloquence and self-assurance.

What comprises half the appeal of "No Filter" is its script: a potpourri of "First World problems" taking the form of persuasive, vividly written confessions. (And take note, titos and titas, the phrase "First World problems" isn't meant to be taken literally.)

"When the thing you love most becomes your work, it becomes the hanging noose that might just kill you," goes one line, and you immediately wish every English-spouting private-school graduate could actually write like this.

"Love Me Tinder" humorously ascribes a disproportionate amount of intellectual discernment to the frivolity of the online dating/friendship-forming/soul-mate-searching app. "Moving Out" convinces us that moving to New York to fake one's death is the right thing to do.

Ideal companion

If not always powerful, these monologues simply ooze with passion. And they find an ideal companion in director Toff de Venecia's unembellished staging and the performances he has extracted from his cast, half of which are making their stage debuts.

The challenge for them, one realizes, is not "to act," to alter voice, movement and expression and assume a vastly different identity, but to "tweak" their personalities just a little, to ensure that they aren't just playing themselves, or their siblings, or their neighbors, but the writer--someone with probably the same privileged background as theirs, whose world intersects with theirs through countless similarities, but whose back story can be miles different.

It is a challenge that this cast, more often than not, handles with surprising ease and confidence.

And so we have fashion blogger Saab Magalona-Bacarro making quite the cogent, heartfelt case for the writer who faked her death in the Bronx; or Jasmine Curtis-Smith effortlessly shifting between contrasting emotions in "The Interview," about a writer who must deal with her own anxiety in front of her potential employer; or Cai Cortez charismatically saying that, yes, plus-sized women get to be choosy on Tinder, too.

That this production is already wrapping up its six-performance run this weekend only makes you wish that these women would consider going back onstage soon. (A limited extension is set for Aug. 7, 8PM; and Aug. 8, 7PM. --Ed.)

The big achievement of "No Filter," a show dedicated to the generation that purportedly loves to talk about itself, is to make self-absorption an appealing attribute. And if the characters talk in such a fascinatingly articulate manner, listening to them rant about their issues--ranging from the downright vapid ("When did dating become such a mindf*ck?") to the subliminally vital ("We're only trying to make do with the ruined world we inherited")--turns out to be far from a chore.

This review is by a millennial who "took one for the team." See the show to understand what that means.

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Contact numbers: 5856909 or 0917-8996680, or visit Sandbox's Facebook page.