Wednesday, March 30, 2011

On Gods With Feet Of Clay, And The Filipino Dream (Or,What I REALLY Wanted To Say About Manny And Willie.)

.:Gods With Feet Of Clay:.

The past couple of weeks has been an exercise in rationalization for a culture built upon deifying celebrity and elevating them far above and beyond the standards by which we expect of mere mortals such as ourselves.

Some of the issues seem petty when you look at it, really. A famous celebrity announces that she is leaving the very thing that has made her famous in the first place, and instead of having people wish her well, some of her fans actually feel betrayed, as if suddenly, what she wishes to do with her life no longer takes precedence over what her fans want her to do.

Couple that with the fact that she probably isn’t even leaving but probably setting up for something else, and you can see how the overreactions from certain people, practically calling her a traitor to a cause that doesn’t even seem to be a particularly earth-shattering cause to give up your hopes and dreams over in the first place, becomes rather silly. Maybe even pathetic.

The power of celebrity exists. There is no point in denying that. But just as we cannot allow them to be anything more than human by virtue of their celebrity, neither should they be anything less than human by virtue of their celebrity. They have their own lives to lead, their own choices to make, and if we truly support them or believe in them, we must realize that we have no right to demand from our celebrity to abandon their own wishes just to cater to our every whim.

And one guesses that’s exactly what is at work here: a very disheartening gap between the idol and the worshippers, a chasm that is ever-widened by how much slack we are willing to cut our personal heroes so long as they continue to entertain us and cater to our every whim. And how that gap is made even more insurmountable when the inevitable betrayal happens, our vicarious hopes and dreams shattered in the failure of our erstwhile beloved god, turning the altar we once worshipped upon into the pillar we wish to scourge them upon in the blink of an eye.

And yet, through it all, they will move on and not really give a damn about what we think, say, do, or feel. When we realize that we have lived through someone for so long that we’ve forgotten to live our own lives, what happens? What do we do with ourselves, then?

The Fists Of Fury

As I wrote in my article on Manny Pacquiao, there is no question that he is one of the greatest boxers of all time. He is, without a doubt, the best one of this decade, and he has been more than well-rewarded financially and socially on the back of his fifty-two hard-earned victories inside the boxing ring. Nobody can take that away from him.

Sports heroes tend to get a pass in a lot of things. It’s rather easy to see, and it was quite fortuitous I was reading Michael Leahy’s book while I was thinking about this. It put a lot of things into perspective for me and allowed me to step back and look at the bigger picture. In the sporting world, it doesn’t matter if you philander, gamble compulsively, get into fights, or heaven forbid, rape someone. So long as you persist in your winning ways, all is forgiven.

Is this right? Of course not. But you see, it’s understandable: what does a basketball fan care about what his idol does in his bedroom? That’s not a part of the game, and that’s irrelevant to how many points he can score in a game, or how many assists he can dish out.

What people are forgetting is that nobody was critiquing Manny Pacquiao, the boxer. They were critiquing Congressman Manny Pacquiao, the guy who was not doing his job when he really should have, by not properly casting his vote for or against the impeachment of the Ombudsman.

Being a boxing legend does not excuse him from being a lousy congressman. The ever-predictable Paclanders are too busy blaming @momblogger not only for the embarrassment caused by Pacquiao leaving Twitterlandia, but even for his choice of words. And then they had the nerve to say that he meant it in jest, so lighten up.

Lighten up? Really? Lighten up?!?

Weren’t you the same people who refused to lighten up when Alec Baldwin made an off-hand joke about Filipina mail-order brides? Weren’t you the same people who refused to lighten up when Teri Hatcher made a joke in a comedy show about Filipino med schools? Weren’t you the same people who refused to lighten up when Chip Tsao made a satirical article that was making deliberately inflammatory statements to expose the bullying tactics of mainland China? And now you’re telling people to lighten up? Really?

Look: you can’t dictate how other people should feel. If they took offense, they have every right to take offense. And as a Congressman and as someone who has been trying so hard to maintain a certain modicum of role-modelness, Manny should have known better than to make a flippant statement like that. You don’t get to dictate what should be or shouldn’t be offensive to people and then dismiss them by virtue of your own thick-skinnedness because you’d take any insult from your lord and savior Pacquiao as a validation rather than a slight.

Manny Pacquiao’s recent misadventures were not the fault of the people who called him out on Twitter. It was the fault of a man who chose to run for public office when clearly, he had more pressing priorities than the welfare of his own district.

There’s nothing wrong with being a boxing legend, but there’s something wrong with shirking on one’s responsibility and then expecting everyone to just understand. No, not everyone understands, nor are they required to. Unlike you, Mr. Pacquiao, we can’t just take a month or two off work if we feel like beating a Mexican up for $20M. Your deficiencies as a congressman are not beyond question, because how well you punch has nothing to do with how well you lead your constituency.

So to those Paclanders who can’t get this into their heads: all the people on Twitter ever did was to tell a man to do his job. The one he ran for public office for. I think it’s ridiculous that anyone could possibly obfuscate the issue just because he’s a boxing legend. If he didn’t want to do his job, he shouldn’t have applied for the job in the 2010 elections to begin with. The tone argument is beside the point, and does not erase the fact that Honorable Pacquiao is still not doing his job.

How many of us here can fully expect to be praised for not doing your job? I sure can’t.

Willieng Pawns

It was an issue I felt strongly about, albeit I recognized I was relatively powerless in comparison to the originator of the news to me, Aileen Apolo, or the one whom I passed the news onto, MomBlogger. When I saw Jan-Jan’s video, I was shocked at how callous everyone around him was. The kid was crying. He was frightened. And yet, despite all of that, Willie Revillame did not show any signs of easing up on the kid, and still made him do his schtick, which proved extremely disturbing, as the kid gyrated like “a macho dancer,” as Willie Revillame himself put it.

I have despised Willie’s shows for years already, although he isn’t the only one whose tacky and trashy programming I’ve despised. It’s ironic how much more heart a Jerry Springer ripoff like Amy Perez’s Face To Face has, compared to a show like Willing Willie, that’s supposed to be giving joy and hope to the Filipino masses. Fabucelles shares my sentiments, to say the least.

We’ve heard that line a million times before: nagpapasaya lang kami at nagbibigay ng pag-asa. But at what cost does this joy and hope come?

Ridiculously long snaking lines for hopefuls who wish to get into the TV studio for a remote shot at riches, some of them doing this routine for weeks: weeks that could have instead been spent actually looking for a productive job instead of hoping to get a crack at that money tree Willie has been bandying about?

People of all ages selling their dignity for a few thousand bucks, then once the well has run dry, they’d run right back in line to do it all over again?

A fatal stampede, resulting in the deaths of 78 people. So much for “saya at pag-asa” for 78 lives snuffed out due to poor planning and terrible logistics?

Are all of these sins placed solely upon the head of one Willie Revillame? Of course not. But he is the man fronting the show that has showcased this kind of exploitative behaviour more than any other show, not only as its main host, but as one of its top producers. He is a control freak who would lash out at a cameraman who is so much as out of place, as a perfectionist and a consummate workaholic. Nobody can take that away from the man.

In fact, let’s give credit where credit is due: he has probably given out more money through his sponsors than any three to five different local charitable institutions you can pick at random, combined, almost all of this money going to the poor, the downtrodden, and ultimately, the desperate.

Unfortunately, it’s precisely that desperation that has allowed Willie’s blinded fans to give him a pass on anything he has ever done. With each victory he scores atop his unimpeachable soapbox, Willie’s confidence has turned into outright smugness, knowing full well that he has more clout than anyone willing to call him out on the mockery he has made of the Filipino masses.

The ends do not justify the means. Otherwise, it would be okay to lie, cheat, and steal just to get money. Entertainment is never an excuse for crass behaviour and lewd sensationalism. Giving hope and helping others is never going to wash away the blood of the 78 lives snuffed all in the name of this hope and help. If you made your officemates laugh in the pantry all the time, will that save you from getting fired if you embezzled the company’s money? Can your good intentions undo the hurt you have caused with your thoughtless actions?

And yet again, people tell us to “lighten up, it’s just a TV show!” Really? Really?!? Just a TV show that has resulted in the deaths of 78 people (Let’s not play coy here: Willing Willie = Wowowee.)? Just a TV show that has made it seem like exploitation and child abuse are just normal things we should come to expect from Philippine television? Just a TV show where people sell their souls for a few thousand pesos, yet not really elevating their lives afterwards? Really? That’s it?!?

No, you douchebags! It’s not just a TV show. It’s a mirror of the kind of society we live in that is not only on the verge of tolerating the abuse of a child on national television, but even making it his fault that he got treated like that, because that’s what he wanted to do when he auditioned! Woooow!

Allow me to educate you for a moment here. When Willie said that it was Jan-Jan’s idea to dance like a macho dancer, Willie has resorted to Victim Blaming, a phenomenon where instead of placing the blame squarely on the offender, we instead point to the victim. If, for example, a woman gets raped, it’s not the rapist’s fault: it’s the woman’s fault, because she dresses too “sluttily”, or she led the rapist on. What kind of backwards thinking is that?!?

Jan-Jan is six years old. The people screening him were far older than that, and Willie’s what? Forty-something? These are people who should have known better. Instead, after seeing Jan-Jan dance the way he did, Willie asked him to do it again, and again, and again! Where’s the concern there? Or is this because it causes so much “joy” and “hope” to see a desperate kid dance like a macho dancer for a few thousand bucks? Ang saya-saya ko naman makita yan! I’m sorry, but I can’t get off of Schadenfreude from a six-year old kid.

And the parents? They’re okay with it? So Jan-Jan has lousy parents, who tolerate having a kid who can dance like a macho dancer for the entertainment of people. Does that suddenly just absolve Willie Revillame? Really? It does? Or is that less an absolution of Willie Revillame, but also an indictment of Jan-Jan’s parents, putting them in the same police line-up as Willie and the vultures backing this mockery of a show?

In all honesty, it’s sad that instead of a call for unity, we’ve had people saying those among us indignant now are hypocrites. Let’s ignore the fact that only now is social media finding the clout to get things done, compared to even just a year or two ago, when it was just next to ignored. Let’s ignore how many celebrities are now on Twitter, whereas they were nowhere to be found online just last year. Let’s ignore that this is a catalyst for action, and not just a knee-jerk reaction of hypocrisy. Let’s even ignore that there is a huge gap between fully consenting adults dancing sexily for a living and a six-year old dancing sexily for a one-time windfall.

Common sense has flown out the window. Iya Justimbaste is probably laughing now, pointing at the folly of the Filipinos who make up excuses for the imperfections of their gods like Pacquiao and Revillame.

Newsflash: they were never perfect. The sooner you accept it, the sooner you will realize that they should be held accountable for their shortcomings when it does worse than just affect themselves.

Our gods have feet of clay. It shouldn’t have been a surprise at all, and it shouldn’t be our fault that we are just pointing out the truth. The truth hurts. The sooner you can accept it, the sooner we can do something about it.

This was never about rich versus poor. Don’t let the Pacquiao’s, the Estrada’s, or the Revillame’s of the world fool you. These people are far richer than any of us so-called rich people, to begin with. It has always been a question of the willingness of the Filipino person to do the right thing and correct the wrong thing, no matter how inconvenient it might be.

Throw away everything and boil down to the essentials, and then ask yourself with all honesty: is it truly impossible to help people without resorting to sexy dancers, exploiting sob stories, and fatal stampedes? And if our answer is “no, it’s not impossible,” then why the Hades are we tolerating the status quo?

Think about it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Double Film Review

.:Film Review: Who’s That Girl?:.

Standees rule!

Who’s That Girl?
Sometimes, life is easier if you actually just explained.

Can’t believe that I went on two dates this whole week with the incomparable Jazminne Huang, but I’m glad that we went to two fairly okay movies, so that I didn’t feel like I actually wasted my time with her when we could’ve done something like bowling instead.

You’d be surprised, but this film review is relatively spoiler-free.

“Who’s That Girl” is a pretty fun and light-hearted romantic comedy featuring the ever-reliable Anne Curtis, the indisputably hilarious Eugene Domingo, and of course, the loveteam/career kiss of death leading man himself, Lucky Manzano. With other great people like John Lapus in the equation, there was no doubt that at worst, the movie was going to be worth a few laughs, and it certainly provided just that.

I guess the storyline was pretty obvious by watching the ridiculously lengthy trailer from the get-go: Bea (Anne Curtis) had a longtime crush on John (Luis Manzano), and aside from the obvious fact that it’s a reference to John Lloyd and Bea Alonzo, the creepy flashbacks to Bea’s past are hilariously overplayed. Without ever expecting to see him again, Bea blossoms into a gorgeous woman who is desired by many, and she ends up crossing paths with him when she finds an obituary announcing his death.

Except it wasn’t his death, but his father. You see, John Eduque is a jr so that means she made a fool of herself when she arrived there, causing a scene at the wake. She makes it worse by trying to make a run for it without explaining the miscue, and this sends John’s mom (Eugene Domingo) into a spiral of depression, believing that her husband cheated on her. John vows to find this woman who has destroyed his family. Hijinks ensue.

A simple premise, with a paper-thin plot, and overplayed gags you could see coming a mile away. This wasn’t a shining moment for Philippine film, but there is no question that the movie still has a lot of good things going for it, starting from the unmistakable chemistry between Anne and Luis, who played off of each other pretty well, and had enough acting talent to salvage the terrible script. This is testament to the acting talent of the two lead stars. They did well despite the material they had to work with.

This was, without a doubt, a film made for its kilig factor. It wasn’t ingenious, it wasn’t special, but it was a perfectly serviceable film, and in my opinion, a film I had less problems praising than the last Tanging Ina instalment. Overall, I liked watching the film, but if you compared it to other recent romantic comedies, Who’s That Girl isn’t anywhere near as good as them. It gets even worse if you tried to compare any other movies Eugene Domingo starred in to this one.

Fun Evaluation: B+/A-
Critical Evaluation: C+

.:Film Review: Sucker Punch:.

Role reversal!

Sucker Punch
Eye candy but not much else? Okay lang.

So last weekend, during another K-Pop con, I managed to steal away a couple of hours from Jazminne and her two friends, Jessica and Jemina (Triple J?), so we could catch Sucker Punch, which I’ve been curious about for a while already.

That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

Now, while some reviewers have given great insights that reveals how deep Sucker Punch actually is, I assumed that turning my brain off to watch the film was the best course of action, what with Jamie Chung and Vanessa Hudgens in the cast, not to mention the lead star, who normally shouldn’t even appeal to me, in the first place. I’m not so sure if that was the best course of action, since with four different things they needed to get, there were four distinct huge action scenes in the film, and each one got more and more boring as time passed. The eye candy could only get so far.

The characters were walking stereotypes, and only Baby Doll and Rocket actually felt anywhere near fleshed out, which made their choice of characters who made it to the end of the film intact rather... questionable.

The film was all about a girl who ends up in a mental asylum thanks to an abusive stepfather, who ends up getting a lobotomy. At least, that’s how the film starts, but then, the storyline shifts without any spoonfeeding into the whole thing being a theatre bit, and now, instead of asylum patients, they’ve turned into cabaret dancers or something. All well and good, except even within that, more fantasy sequences are played out in the mind of the apparent lead character, which just gets increasingly frustrating because we actually wanted to see Baby Doll dancing. She was winding up for it already, but instead, we’re treated to a CGI smorgasbord that is awesome to behold, but indisputably leaves the viewers cold afterwards.

I feel that if we had to make an in-depth analysis to show why Sucker Punch is actually a great movie, then it’s either failed at getting the point across, or we’re just guilty of giving the filmmakers too much credit. Even if you can’t quite articulate why a film is good or bad, you should at least get an overall feeling, regardless of a technical analysis, and ultimately, what matters is whether or not you actually enjoyed the film.

Given that Sucker Punch was an action-packed film that had pacing issues and very poor characterization, I have to say that while I liked the concept of the film, the execution really, really left me cold. With my companions actually audibly declaring they were bored by the time they were fighting cyborgs, I realized that the film, from the trailer alone, was misleading the potential audience about everything except the promise of lots and lots of eye candy.

The film failed because it made an implicit promise that you will enjoy this movie if you actually turned off your brain and just handwaved away any shortcomings from within. It made this promise, and yet the storyline actually demanded a lot of thought from the viewer, and expected one to be able to enjoy all the gratuitous violence and cheesecake while taking in the pseudo-philosophical ideas the movie was tossing at you. It was a bad combination and it didn’t work. It was trying to be both a mindless and deep film at the same time, and for that to happen, you needed to excel on both levels. Sucker Punch excelled at neither end of the spectrum.

Would I recommend you to spend your hard-earned money on this film in the cinema? If you’re a hot-blooded male who wants to look at hot girls kick some righteous behind, sure, go for it. But if you don’t fit that demographic, I strongly suggest you wait for the DVD, because it might be more fun to watch the film if there are some insights behind the scenes being thrown into the discussion.

Fun Evaluation: B+
Critical Evaluation: B-

Monday, March 28, 2011

Project 52 (13/52): Absolutely - Nine Days

.:Project 52 (13/52): Absolutely – Nine Days:.

This song is really catchy and captures how I feel in a nutshell. It’s about loving someone absolutely, and doing what you can to make them smile.

Considering how things have been going lately, I couldn’t be any happier. What was once just an ego-booster is slowly but surely turning into a beautiful reality. But I digress. That isn’t really what this song is about.

I really do like listening to this song, as it’s just one of those great alternative hits that you hear that just makes you smile and think for a second. The melody of the song is undoubtedly upbeat, but the lyrics do spell an underlying push and pull between the fact that yes, the girl is lovable, but there is an inner sadness to her that the singer can only hope to quell.

It’s whimsical-sounding, yes, but the song is testament to how romance should always be about making each other happy. Ultimately, that’s why this song never fails to pick up my day, and that’s why this is very likely to be my personal anthem for the rest of the week, Rebecca Black LSS-ing be damned.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Random TL;DR

.:Brain Drain:.

Amid silly Demi Lovato fans whose reading comprehension skills are suspect, I couldn’t help but feel that I need a few days to clear my mind because there’s just so much going on lately.

I’ve been pretty drained on the political climate in the country as well. While the saccharine support for P Noy is overwhelming, I’m still waiting to see exactly what he plans to do. I guess this could only mean that I need to take a hiatus from political writing for about a month, because there has been nothing interesting going on with them lately.

Anyways, it’s been a very low-key weekend for me, but I was pretty stoked about the upcoming week, even if I do believe that the upcoming weekend is going to be another exercise in setting myself up for disappointment.

Nonetheless, enough about the autobiographical stuff for now, and let’s get to the interesting topics for the day, starting with Demi Lovato’s long-ago stint in rehab that I actually reported about. After the exclusive interview I have conducted with the lady, I’m just surprised over the minor cow people are having over the fact that I dared sully the name of their idol. Yes, because I totally have the power to do that and Demi Lovato absolutely feels affected by every word I say about her.

Considering I’m not even a hater of the “Camp Rock” lead star, I don’t even understand what’s going on with these people, except maybe an obvious lack of reading comprehension.

.:All Punched Out:.

Manny Pacquiao’s stint in social media has come to an abrupt end, thanks to his inability to accept criticism from people. Indeed, it has become quite a shocking development for everyone looking on to know that a duly elected official of this great nation is acting like a petulant child.

In other news, water is wet, and night follows day. Who would’ve thunk it, eh?

.:The Race Card And The Black Plague:.

Here comes yet another racist tirade that’s (mistakenly) hurled against Asians, yet actually singles out only Japanese.

Now, I can totally understand how people got ticked off about her not-very-clever rant about the Japanese people who were calling up their families during the time that their people were suffering through one of the worst earthquakes in history, but what really got my goat was that for all of her posturing about being “not racist” at all, you just knew that the minute someone says those fateful words, something definitely racist is going to be said.

Well, I say, she shouldn’t be too surprised at the reaction she’s getting. If she felt so upset by talking Asians in the library, then maybe she could have done a little more than just be passive-aggressive towards them, right?

And really, I’m all for letting her know she goofed, but I’m rather dismayed (Albeit it’s kinda expected, to be honest.) that the responses to her have been mostly racist as well, or worse, sexist. That kinda defeats the whole purpose of things, like saying, “in God’s eyes, we are all equal, you inferior piece of crap!”

I don’t know about this lady, really, and what’s up with her and her intolerance, but y’know what? Considering how many people have been bashing Rebecca Black with so much hatred that certainly seems a tad overkill for a thirteen-year old who just discovered the joys of Autotune, I suppose this world is still an intolerant place underneath it all.

I mean sure, you don’t have to like her music. Heaven knows I don’t. But I don’t think she ruined music. At all. She didn’t come into my house and destroy all my Beatles CD’s or cut up my Itchyworms cassettes. She just made this one song that I can, if I so choose to, not bother ever listening to. Why would I actively seek out something that would aggravate me so, right?

I dunno. Even if I can be a big ball of rage at times, I still feel that there’s no reason for me to look for reasons to be furious. It can be so draining at times, and to be honest, an inconsequential UCLA college student and a kid who thinks she can sing would get a few comments from me at most, but bubbling, boiling hatred? I reserve that kind of stuff for more worthwhile pursuits, because that’s what a human being with INTEGRITY does, yo.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Project 52 (12/52): Friday - Rebecca Black

.:Project 52 (12/52): Friday – Rebecca Black:.

Originally, I had another song in mind to start my week off, but this song is just so insanely catchy that it ended up overriding my music tastes for an entire day.

This isn’t exactly the best song ever, but hey, it caught on, and it caught on pretty well. Close to 30 million views in what? Less than two weeks or so? That’s about the same amount of views the official “Never Gonna Give You Up” video has, give or take three million! Of course, the video labelled “Rickroll’d” has 48 million views, but it sure didn’t take five years for Rebecca Black to hit that many views...

I don’t really know how to feel about a song that reminds me oddly enough of Weird Al’s “Trapped In The Drive-Thru” if only for how often Rebecca Black went through shopping-list lyrics like the great scribe himself. It’s auto-tuned like crazy, but she has a decent voice, and hey, if you don’t like her music, feel free to tune out, since I (really hope) figure that the song won’t be getting any radio airtime soon.

And considering that this thing caught on just a week or so ago, I’m pretty shocked that there’s already a pretty huge meme for her already. Good on you, girl, and I’m glad you can stick to your guns no matter what the haters say. I may not like your music, but I like your grit.

I don’t even know how the song just got out there. I’ve heard much worse songs, and I’ve certainly heard much better ones, too, but for some reason, a well-produced song from a thirteen-year old girl is getting a lot more traction than almost everything else in such a short time. Normally, for something to get this memetic, it takes months or a huge celebrity to pull it off.

That being said, I’m just glad this song is playing on a Monday, so it isn’t stuck to my head as much as it ought to be on a Friday, Friday, gotta get down on a Friday.

I can’t believe I commented more on the memetic value of this song than the song itself, but hey, what can you do, right?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Project 52 (11/52): Overdrive - Eraserheads

.:Project 52 (11/52): Overdrive – The Eraserheads:.

Had my second ever stint behind the wheel last Sunday as my cousin, Nino, tried to teach me how to drive around a small area in Tierra Pura, where I had to maneuver myself around a short stretch of road, shift gears rapidly, and make sure I don’t go too fast when hitting humps. It was a pretty interesting driving course to try out, and I’m just glad I’m still alive to tell the tale. Thankfully, the lesson has made a true-blue defensive driver out of me. Maybe a bit too defensive, if anything. At one point, I even went on Congressional Road to see how fast I can go while shifting gears and not looking at the stick at all. I got up to fourth gear before the speed made me a wee bit uncomfortable.

Having said that, what better song could come to my mind than that ditty by the deified Eraserheads called “Overdrive?” One of the best songs from their best album ever, the song definitely feels like a great song to listen to while behind the wheel, and is even the proud recipient of a backmasking rumor that doesn’t sound like much when you actually bother to listen to it.

If I'm not mistaken, Overdrive was the first single off of Cutterpillow, and it set the tone for the band to gain legendary status. They were already popular since their debut, but they just kept on getting better, and personally, I don't think they ever managed to top their output in this third album, whether as a whole or even within their individual projects.

I’m a fan of the Eraserheads, but certainly not one of their biggest fans. Having said that, I definitely liked Overdrive, and last Sunday’s driving excursion conjured up pretty fond memories of that song, which I am now carrying with me for the rest of this week. Man, just listen to that song. Doesn't it just make you want to go behind the wheel and take a road trip for the rest of the day?

I have to say this much, though: that remake of Overdrive by Barbie Almalbis was terrible.

Friday, March 11, 2011

My Heart Goes Out To Japan, And Information Dissemination Re: Tsunami Warning in PH

We interrupt your regular snark to provide you with this link. I will copy and paste the pertinent numbers, but in case of more updates, I'm guessing Jonas will be more fastidious in giving you the relevant details, as I'm pretty slow with the news gathering at the moment.

In any case, here's the info as ganked from Jonas's blog:

Tsunami Alert Level 2 raised in 19 Philippine provinces after 8.9-earthquake hits Japan. The Philippine Coast Guard say that tsunami waves are expected to arrive in the country approximately at 7:08 PM tonight (Philippine Time).

You can reach the ABS-CBN Foundation tsunami hotline at the following numbers:
(+63 2) 411-0011
(+63 2) 411-0012

The Department of Foreign Affairs has established a hotline for Japan-related concerns.
(+63 2) 834-4646

Filipinos with loved ones in Japan can also call up the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) at the following number:
(+63 2) 722-1155

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Film Review: Rango

.:Film Review: Rango:.

Not the best movie poster shot ever!

Your typical hero’s journey. And I mean typical.

So Jazminne and I managed to watch yet another film together, and this time, it was one I wasn’t going to feel uncomfortable seeing with her. Rango is typical kid’s fare, if a little too typical. Despite that, the film decidedly had some child-unfriendly themes, and it was compounded with a clear-cut love letter to Westerns of old that I just couldn’t quite appreciate as much as it target audience clearly would’ve appreciated more.

Rango follows the story of, well, Rango, an earlier-unnamed pet chameleon who thinks himself a great thespian while living out his fantasy life in his terrarium. En route across the Mojave desert, he ends up in the middle of the desert, and now finds himself in the town of Dirt, who are facing a water crisis.

Finding this to be his chance to make a name for himself, he musters up his swagger to pretend to be a ruthless gunslinging lawman, which lands him the job of sheriff in the town, a thankless job as he now has to address the town’s water crisis, not to mention their mayor’s shady tactics, bank-robbing moles, and a host of other challenges.

What will happen to him once the people of Dirt find out that he’s a bald-faced liar?

The eternal hero’s journey is summarised in the following important points: (1)The Call To Adventure, (2) The Refusal Of Adventure, (3)The Crossing Of The Threshold, (4) The Road Of Trials, (5) Meeting With The Goddess, and (6) The Return. There are other steps in the journey in general, but these are the most important parts.

When you think about it, this movie fits all of these stages quite handily. This made the movie pretty rote and predictable to me, as I knew more or less what was going to happen at which point. The first act when he found himself out of his terrarium was his call to adventure, and at first, he refused this call. He ended up crossing the threshold when he realized that the town of Dirt wouldn’t know who he really was so he could do anything he wanted, really. Trial after trial then came: he had to deal with the moles, he had to deal with the hawk, and he had to deal with the mayor, among other things. After his fall from grace, he met with the “goddess” who was, in this case, a CGI version of Clint Eastwood, I believe. Then finally, he had his triumphant return.

It was so by the numbers, but it was so well-done, particularly since the voice acting for the entire film was top-notch. Johnny Depp acquits himself very well as Rango, and the rest of the cast really do justice to their roles.

This isn’t a bad film. Not by a long stretch. It’s just that... I can’t bring myself to care about it. Beyond watching the film with Jazminne and really enjoying my time with her, I could hardly care less what was going on with the movie.

And this is unfortunately why I can’t really analyze the movie the way I normally do. I wasn’t too particularly impressed, and it really, really could’ve been better.

That being said, your moment of Zen for today...


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

We Want A National Bloggers Association! Well, Who's "We?"

.:“We Want A National Bloggers Association!” Well, Who’s “We?”:.

Nation, the Philippine Blogosphere has grown by leaps and bounds to a level that I still cannot fathom to this very moment. With this growth comes great power, and with this great power comes great responsibility, as a certain deceased uncle of a certain friendly neighbourhood superhero often said. We’ve seen this power rise and fall, get used and get abused, and we’ve also seen the “us versus them” stance employed against bloggers in general by most people who are involved in journalism.

A part of us wants to look at all this cacophony, this endless sea of voices and faces, and bring some semblance of order to the chaos. Surely, there must be more to this online world than just this seemingly indistinguishable morass of ideas. There has to be a way to bring out the best in the hoi poloi and make it rise to the top. Bloggers have so much power, have so much responsibility, that indeed, we need to come together. And now, believes certain people, we have that opportunity. We have an opportunity to establish a National Blogger’s Association: a group that will uphold the best and the brightest of blogging because heaven knows that annual Emerging Influential Blog ceremonies, Philippine Blog Awards, Web Awards, Asian Blog Awards, and Pinoy Exchange forum polls aren’t enough measure. Indeed, we want an NBA in the Philippines. Quinito Henson must be shaking in his boots right now.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Tournament Report And Mini-Primer: 06 March 2011

.:Tournament Report: Vintage @ Frisco Place!:.

Ever since I bought my Mana Drains, I couldn’t help but think what Drain deck I would just love to use with them. Sure, I ran Oath for a while and had success with it, and I even ran Trygon Tezz once and had success with it, too.

But none of those decks appealed to the kid in me who used to play stupid combo-prison decks because he read about their interactions in InQuest Magazine. Whether it was Stasis + Time Elemental or Daring Apprentice + Hell’s Caretaker + Breeding Pit, or even Null Brooch + Ensnaring Bridge, I loved me some combo, and I loved me some prison.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Project 52 (10/52): Stay- Lisa Loeb

.:Project 52 (10/52): Stay – Lisa Loeb:.

I never watched the movie Reality Bites, believe it or not. Despite that, this song is still one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, and Lisa Loeb made me realize that girls who were glasses are hot. Very hot.

I don’t have much to say about the song, considering I came up with it today by putting my iTunes on random, but hey, it’s awesome. If you can hear this song and not take a liking to it, I have to question your humanity. :P

Still, when I think about this song, I can't help but feel how difficult it was back in my day to actually play the song again and again until I could finally memorize the lyrics in its entirety. It was an achievement for me when I could finally spit out the lyrics as if it were some kind of rap song, particularly when she goes, "You say, I only hear what I want to, I don't listen hard, don't pay attention to the distance that you're running..."

It's so easy to say we're done with someone, that they're out of our lives. But how much of our true selves do we deny when we don't ask them to stay?

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Sugarfree: Ito Ang Unang Araw Na Wala Ka Na...

.:Sugarfree: Ito Ang Unang Araw Na Wala Ka Na:.

The bright lights belie the gentle beckoning of the darkness.

In the middle of that cold, rainy night, a few Americans were walking around Eastwood, looking to have a great time, but not at all oblivious to the massive crowd gathered in the central plaza,even though they didn't have the foggiest idea what was going on. You see, everyone else in Eastwood were expecting to catch one of the greatest bands of the last decade, Sugarfree. This was the night that they will perform their final set before they ride off into the sunset, head held up high thanks to one of the most inspiring and amazing send-off’s a band cold ever ask for since the inevitable send-off the Eraserheads got immediately after their second reunion concert.

They looked around gingerly, and found me, drenched under the rain, singing along heartily as Sugarfree was playing one of the last few songs in their set, “Unang Araw.” It was poignant, really.

One of them turned to me and asked, “Hey, are these guys any good?”

I was a bit flabbergasted. They just revealed that they were among the few who were not in Eastwood to share in a bittersweet moment in Philippine music history. Not that I can blame them, of course. I doubt I would feel any affinity for singers in a language I can’t even begin to understand, no matter how good they really are, unless they were cute and Korean.

What was I supposed to tell them?

Was I going to tell them that Sugarfree was one of my top three favourite bands of all time? Was I going to tell them how much I loved Sugarfree from the moment they came out with “Sa Wakas,” and while a lot of other people were still focused on Parokya Ni Edgar and Rivermaya, I was already singing along non-stop to “Mariposa?” That in 2004, only that song and Matchbox Twenty’s “Unwell” became my two yearlong LSS’s?

Was I going to tell them that I have been to Route 196, saGuijo, Cubao X, Mag:Net, countless RX 93.1 parties, countless gig venues, big and small, just so I could catch a glimpse of the band and sing my heart out to their music that seemed to touch the very core of my being? About how I would find myself hopelessly trying to hit the high notes Ebe Dancel effortlessly hits when he sings, and how I, along with tens of millions of other people felt that we were the titular “Hari Ng Sablay?”

Was I going to tell them that I believe that what made Sugarfree work as a group for the past twelve years wasn’t just the fact that they wrote amazing (if melodramatic) songs, but simply the fact that their songs have transcended being merely songs, instead becoming anthems for a generation of hopeless romantics like myself? It’s a crazy feeling, really: whether it be about heartbreak or about loving someone no matter the odds, Sugarfree wrote songs about it just like everybody else, but they made you see yourself in the world of the music like few other musicians could do. It wasn’t just a talent, but a gift that I’m hard-pressed to find in majority of the local bands that came after them.

Was I going to tell them that another major band, Bamboo, also recently disbanded, and a part of me feels that there will be more of these to come, especially since JAM 88.3 still has a long way to go before becoming the new haven for good rock music the way the legendary NU 107 once was to these very same artists now bereft of a sanctuary? Was I going to point an accusing finger at the proliferation of masa stations as one of the main catalysts for the decline of quantity in quality OPM in the past decade?

Really, how would I even begin to explain to these people how I felt about this moment, as much as I wanted to communicate to a bunch of complete outsiders exactly why this is a big deal? They had to have been there to understand it. From the growing pains of Sugarfree from when people were ignoring them in favour of other bands we don’t even hear from anymore now, or to the way they kept themselves down to earth despite having been massively successful all over the country, still being every bit as approachable before and after their sets in those hole-in-a-wall bars who manage to get bands you can’t begin to imagine them affording considering how small their venue is and how affordable their food happens to be.

Would they understand how I felt when I was there in Music Museum for Sugarfree’s “Dekada” concert, where they were flanked by a full-blown orchestra, giving a unique and almost ethereal feel to their music that I still can’t quite fully put into words until this very moment? About how there was nary a dry eye in the audience as Ebe soulfully belted out “Hangover” that night, despite majority of the audience hearing that song only for the very first time ever? I couldn’t help but feel that something special happened that night, and I think about how sad it is that when Ebe joked about inviting us to their second “Dekada” concert, hindsight would tell us that his joke really was half-meant: there would only ever be one Dekada concert, because there won't be a second Dekada to speak of.

And even now, I don’t know how to feel. There were no hints of a disband coming when we saw them in Route 196 last January, where Sugarfree actually opened for Peryodiko, as most of the audience in attendance were actually Dancel family members from the United States who just wanted to see what the big deal about their family members fronting two of the most well-known bands in the Philippines was all about. The very next day,they announced that Ebe was leaving the band. As the weeks went by, it then looked like Sugarfree wasn't going to carry on and find a new lead vocalist and outright disband altogether, as well.

I didn’t know how to approach Ebe when I saw him along Serendra a couple of days after they confirmed that they were disbanding, and I wanted to ask him if maybe, just maybe, he was just moving to Bamboo (Making it Bambebe.) and Bamboo would just move to Sugarfree (Making it Sugarcane.). That would be silly, really. These Americans didn’t need to know about it.

Nor do they need to know how many Sugarfree songs I memorized from the heart, nor would they understand how big a deal it is for me to be there in Eastwood, right smack dab in the middle of the crowd, just feeling numb that I don’t know if I would ever see Ebe, Jal, and Kaka together on the same stage again. Neither did they have to know that this night, Sugarfree played every single one of their songs that I liked - except for "Hintay," which I'm assuming wasn't nearly as big a hit for them as most of their other songs.

What do you tell them, really, other than the fact that they missed half their life by being here in Eastwood without appreciating the historic moment in front of them?

“Are they any good?”

What kind of a question is that? Sir, you are completely surrounded by thousands of Filipinos standing in the middle of the rain, hanging onto every song, every note, every word that Sugarfree is playing for the very last time, and you're asking if they're any good?!? Would so many people go and risk catching the flu for anything less than one of the best of all time? I certainly hope not, Justin Bieber’s Manila concert being in an open air venue be damned.

I smiled at them and nodded. “Yup. They’re not just good. They’re great. And this is their last set ever.”

They smiled back at me and thanked me and went on their merry way, looking for someplace to get a drink or two in, blissfully ignorant about just how big that moment meant to every other person standing under the rain, in the middle of Eastwood that night.

That’s fine. It doesn’t take anything away from the fact that Sugarfree, in its twelve years of existence, has become a part of so many Filipinos. They have become the standard bearer for those of us who believe in love and heartbreak and the power both possess - an indelible part of the soundtrack of the lives and hearts they have touched. And now, they’re gone. It still hasn’t sunk in, but the realization is quite relentless...

Ito ang unang araw na wala ka na.

I don’t know what lies ahead for the band, but I will continue to support them in their endeavours. They are great people, and they are too good to just ever disappear from the OPM industry just like that. I have full confidence that when these gentlemen come back in whatever form, they will still blaze the trail that only an Ebe, Jal, Kaka, and even Mitch, could ever do.

When the last chords of Burnout played, all I could feel was that indeed, o kay tagal kong minahal ang bandang ito. And I will continue to love them for everything they've done. I wouldn't be ashamed to admit that I shed a tear for them. That night, even the heavens did.

Thank you for the music. And godspeed to you.