Monday, February 26, 2007

Three of a Kind


Now Director Martin Scorsese’s long march to Oscar glory is finally over. I was rooting for him to finally get the nod this year. I even wrote about it in my blog, B.M.S. when I reviewed his movie The Departed last January 31, 2006. You could read it here

He finally ended his Academy Awards drought with the film, the action- packed The Departed, a fitting tribute to the man who specializes in violent but notable films such as Goodfellas, Mean Streets, Raging Bull and Taxi Driver among many others and certified classics in their own right.

I caught the Academy Awards on TV late and missed some of the “minor” awards but I was glued on the boob tube for the rest of the evening and enjoyed the show quite well.

I cheered for Jennifer Hudson who bagged the Best Actress in a Supporting Role trophy for her portrayal of Effie White in the movie, Dreamgirls where her version of the song "And I am telling you I’m not going" was a showstopper and made the movie her own despite the presence of stars like Beyonce, Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy.

I hailed Helen Mirren’s victory when she was named Best Actress for portraying Elizabeth of Windsor in the much- heralded movie, The Queen and applauded Forest Whitaker when he won as Best Actor for his role as the Ugandan despot Idi Amin in the film, The Last King of Scotland.

But the night belonged to Martin Scorsese and I have an inkling before the Best Director Award was announced that this time he will bring home the bacon when the three giants of the film industry, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas were on hand to present the golden trophy to the eventual winner.



And yes, Signore Scorsese deserved this overdue recognition from the Academy more than anyone else and although it was really a long time coming but as the usual cliche goes, "it is better late than never."



FOOD FOR THOUGHT

I am always a big fan of the bounties of the sea and squid is one of my favorites whether it is cooked broiled, fried (calamari style) or the specialty of Ma Diay, my grandmother whose name now escapes me where she cooks the squids swimming in their own inks but let me just tell you that it was really good !

Anyway I came across these pictures of Giant Squids in the National Geographic wherein one was caught by Japanese Scientists near the islands of Chichi Jima.
Read the story
here

For those of you who are not familiar with history, Chichi Jima is the island near Iwo Jima where Flyboy Lieutenant Junior Grade George H. Bush was shot down and rescued off its waters during World War II.

We could only imagine what if one of this giant creatures have snatched the future American President and dragged him deep into the waters during that time, would history be different from what we have experienced and experiencing right now as a result of his and his son’s world policies?



Anyway, you can check the book Fly Boys by James Bradley of the Flag of Our Fathers fame regarding the true accounts and courage of the downed pilots during the last world war and their ordeal at the hands of their captors in Chichi Jima. It is a good book especially for history buffs and WWII enthusiasts.

Recently, another giant squid was caught in Antarctica (read it here) and now scientists are saying that they can now study and unravel some of the facts and myths behind this elusive and strange giant creatures (read: Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) that lurk in the deep recesses of the ocean.

The big question in many people’s minds is whether these giants are fit for human consumption if ever they will find their way into somebody’s plate in the future.

Calamari, anyone?


MEN VERSUS THE VOLCANO

In Indonesia where engineers are trying to drop 375 concrete balls weighing 400- 450 kilograms each into the crater of a volcano to slow down by 50- 70 percent its mudflow which has submerged villages and forced some 15,000 people to flee.

Whoever thought about this concrete balls to work against the force of mother nature should be hanged by his “balls.”

It is a waste of time, effort and money if you ask me. The best thing to do is evacuate the people into safer places and let nature take its course.

But you got to take your hat off to these so- called experts and the government officials who approved this ballsy solution, for it takes a lot of balls to implement these plans and faces at the same time ridicule of the whole world if their plans would go way off the ball park.



Read about the Indonesia Mud Volcano-
here

Friday, February 23, 2007

1986 People Power Recollections






“Where were you in ‘86 EDSA Revolution?”

This caught my eye while on a jeepney cruising along the Quezon Bridge near Quiapo a long, long time ago. It was written on a wall of an old dilapidated building along the Pasig river. The handwriting was crude using a black paint, who put it there and for whatever reason we will never really know.

But it was a good question come to think of it for this year's 21st Anniversary of the People Power Revolution, an event that changed not only the history of the Filipino nation and its people but also proved to the world that change could be achieved peacefully. The people in the communist world soon followed thereafter as they emulated and learned the lessons of our unique form of ending a tyrannical regime without bloodshed.

Thus, we Filipinos could lay a claim that we had a hand in the collapse of the Soviet Union and the communist bloc in the late 80s to the early 90s and in the process changed the lives of millions of people all over the world. But while other nations have progressed since, our country remains in a quagmire of our own making but that is another story that would merit a deeper analysis and another post in the future. Suffice it to say that for now, we will not stray away from the topic.

Back to the question, I was neither at home in Tiwi, Albay nor protesting in EDSA at that time. I was in the Visayas, Barotac Nuevo in Iloilo to be exact during the National Secondary Schools Press Conference (NSSPC) held in that rustic but charming town and if I remembered it correctly, some 30-plus kilometers away from the City of Iloilo.

I was in third year high school in 1986 when I was chosen as one of the representatives of the Bicol Region (by virtue of me landing in 5th place in the News Writing Category in the Regional Secondary Schools Press Conference (RSSPC) held at the Camarines Sur National High School in Naga City of the same year) to the NSSPC where lady luck smiled on me in Barotac Nuevo for I placed 9th (only the top 10 were announced and awarded certificates onstage) out of 150- plus contestants nationwide and was the highest placed Bicolano in the News Writing Category.


My recollections of the events that led to the 1986 People Power Revolution began on the day when Benigno “Ninoy” S. Aquino was murdered on the hot tarmac of the then Manila International Airport on August 21, 1983.

My grandfather, who was the head of the Bicol Saro in our town, that was the leading opposition party in the Bicol Region during the dark years of the Marcos dictatorship, was keenly awaiting on radio the news of the opposition senator’s arrival and what he heard from sketchy reports was Ninoy was shot dead by an assassin despite the presence of the Avsecom personnel in the heavily guarded airport.

I remember my Lolo in shock and could only muttered in a barely audible voice that, “this is the beginning of the end for Marcos. He is finished and sooner or later he will be deposed by the people.”

It never occurred to me then that his words would prove providential years later but then I am not surprised now for my grandfather was a serious student and practitioner of politics having been elected vice- mayor and then mayor of Tiwi, Albay in his younger days but of a different kind, back when politics is really “for the people, by the people and of the people”; where the elected leaders did not enrich themselves while in office as opposed to the battle cry of our present crop of shameless politicians as told to me by a descendant of Filosofong Tasyo years ago -- ”poor the people, buy the people and off the people.”

So, when the dictator called a snap presidential election and the Cory- Doy bandwagon rolled into Bicolandia, I was there with Old Grandpa. I saw up close and personal the two opposition candidates at the house of then Asssemblyman and later Senator Victor S. Ziga when they held their Miting de Avance in Tabaco, Albay and became a certified member of the Yellow Army by playing the recordings of protest songs (Freddie Aguilar’s Bayan Ko) in all the anti- Marcos rallies in our town as well as leading my friends in putting up campaign posters in all the available spaces and places that we could find and most of our forays were done in nightime.

I remember listening on the radio with Lolo of course, the fiery interpellation and filibustering of the loquacious Assemblyman from Mindanao, Homobono Adaza during the canvassing of the election returns in the Batasan Pambansa as then Speaker Nicanor Yniguez of Leyte and other Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) stalwarts railroaded the process and proclaimed Marcos as the winner of the snap polls contrary to the beliefs of the people and the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) count which showed the opposition as the runaway winner.

While the daily protests against the dictator and the boycott of all the crony companies were in full- circle, the Bicol delegation to the annual secondary schools press conference was on its way to Iloilo. We were billeted at the classrooms of Saint Paul School in Barotac Nuevo and during the parade of delegates the next day I could see the local people’s faces light up whenever they saw the Bicol Banner and exclaimed, “Bicol, panalo sainyo si Cory at Doy!” and enthusiastically flashed the Laban sign as we passed by.

After the News writing contest, my mom and I decided to go shopping in SM- Iloilo and there in the sidewalks, on the frontpages of the Inquirer and
Malaya newspapers were the pictures of Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Lieutenant General Fidel V. Ramos barricading themselves in the military camps along Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue (EDSA) as they announced their withdrawal of support from their erstwhile leader.

We could tell the tension in the air as even the local leaders, policemen, parish priests and the Ilonggos were monitoring the events unfolding in Manila on radio in every nook and cranny of the city.

Even the delegates and speakers could not remain apolitical as news updates continued to pour in with the majority cheering for the reformists. Only the delegates from Region I (Ilocos) were rooting for the status quo.

When the late Joe Quirino who was then the speaker for Feature Writing made a remark about the yellow garland that he was wearing and showed his true colors in his lecture, the entire auditorium cheered him with the exception of the Region I delegates for obvious reasons.

When news came that there were more than a million people in EDSA and that Channel 4 has been taken by the reformist soldiers from the loyalist soldiers, the audience applauded while the Ilocanos just kept mum in their seats.

When the church bells finally tolled on the night the Marcoses left Malacanang, the entire auditorium went wild as the delegates from Regions II to XII and NCR whooped it up while the delegates from the Ilocos region just kept quiet.

Despite the celebration of the moment, many were still apprehensive about the news regarding the dictator's plight; their alleged flight from Malacanang since reports were sketchy and it was the then Ministry of Education Culture and Sports Minister Jaime C. Laya himself, who confirmed to the delegates the real situation regarding the country’s leadership when he declared in his opening speech--

“This will be my first and last speech to you as your Minister of Education, Culture and Sports” or words to that effect.

Surprisingly, his pronouncement was greeted with silence but not for long as the place was rocked by a thunderous explosion of joy and happiness.

Amid the wild celebration, I saw the Ilocos delegation quietly shedding tears for their beloved Apo.





Let us not desecrate the memory of the original People Power Revolution and the heroes who shed their lives so that the Filipino people could be free again.

Let us preserve and honor their sacrifices by becoming good and responsible citizens.


Quo vadis, Gringo, Butz, et al?


Looking back...





Note: Where have all the 1986 People Power Revolution heroes gone?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Please Forgive Meme


Gibbs Cadiz a.k.a. Gibo tagged me to do this...

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Turn to page 123.
3. Mark the fifth sentence. Pick up the next three sentences and post. (In other words, post sentence nos. 6-8 on page 123.)
4. Acknowledge the book and the author.
5. Tag 3 people in turn.

If a man and a woman danced with their arms around each other, people assumed that they were having an improper relationship and started to spread the word. Reactionary newspapers wrote groundless articles that gave social dancing a bad name, and so most people had made up their minds that it was unwholesome. We’d just have to resign ourselves to hearing that sort of talk.

- from NAOMI by Junichiro Tanizaki


Actually this is my second copy of this book. My first one, I got from one of those National Book Store year- round sales, bought for 35 pesos about 10 years ago in Recto. Among my finds then were books by Mishima, Oe, Amos Oz, Kundera and Marquez. The second one I got for free in the book exchange in the local library here.

I remember while reading this book for the second time the advice a Filipina writer- editor of an on-line Literary Publication that features literary works by Filipinos in the Diaspora gave me during our correspondence years ago.

She once told me that if ever I should write stories I should refrain from delving into the views of the fairer sex or simply put, me writing stories with a central female character is a no-no.

Her point was what do I know about how women think or feel?

I deferred to her at that time out of respect and as was my custom of not engaging in debates with my volunteer “mentor” of the old school and just let 'em pass without much ado but believe you me based on my experience alone, I can say that I know a lot about how the mind of a woman works than what the members of the Order of the Daughters of Eve would give me credit to and I ‘m sure I am not the only one who can lay a claim on this. Ha-ha.

On a related topic, a friend of mine once lamented that the reason the readership audience of Filipino short stories, poetry and other literary works never reach the mainstream because some people especially in the academe have their own so-called "pre-conceived notions," "inherent bias" and “sets of standards” for them to consider some works to be worthy of their time and that if you’re not a product of these and that workshops usually run by these “elite circle of award- winning writers” and members of the “literary mafia” in the Philippines you're not qualified to be in their inner circle.

On the surface, some of these accusations have basis no matter how small they are and we can say that some of these “authorities” are really averse to the idea of emerging writers succeeding in the field that are not products of their workshops nor enrolled in their “reputable“ schools, colleges and universities. That’s why, my friend added that if you read the works of some Filipino writers that they support you will find their writings boring and as my friend observed, “pare- pareho lang ang style at dating mula noon hanggang ngayon.”

On a deeper note, I still think that a well- written story with or without help from these "authorities" will eventually find its way to the mainstream and succeed based on its own merit.

I believe that writing is a passion and an exercise of the human soul to freely express itself without being judged. Instead of criticizing or fault- finding, I usually approach everything reading- wise from the author’s point of view and appreciate his work and vision for its originality no matter what style or medium he uses. And if you really look into some of the most successful writers of our time, they did not even have formal “writing” education, workshop trainings nor PhD’s and other fancy letters attached to their hallowed names.


Anyway, the late Japanese author Junichiro Tanizaki's Naomi is a compelling read and you'll be amazed by the power of his pen for his works deals mostly about women as his central characters and coming from a male- dominated society that is Japan, it is really a wonder how he was able to do it with a lot of color and depth in his characters without really trying.

But great writers have great minds and you never really can fathom the things that lurks in the deepest recesses of their brains.

And so the “meme” tagging continues…

1. Mirror, mirror on the wall, what kind of book will this geek produce?

  • >Salamin
  • you’re on.
    2. Let’s see what’s inside your mind about this meme thing,
  • SNLGUY?
  • 3. Someone’s in the kitchen, what’s cooking
  • fruityoaty
  • ?


    NOTE: Blog Update:

    Let's get ready to stumble (The Charles Barkley vs. Dick Bavetta Race)
    in
  • Mach & Me
  • Wednesday, February 14, 2007

    L-O-V-E



    Valentine’s Day, the day for lovers, for people in love and for those in search of that elusive L-O-V-E, has its origin from Christian and ancient Roman traditions. Actually, there were a lot of claims and counter-claims by the so-called experts, scholars and historians on the purported origin of this celebration and tradition.

    Nevertheless, it has been celebrated all over the world as the day of hearts and will continue to be so as long as there are romantics and young-at-hearts in our midst.

    However, in this materialistic world of ours, where for some people, love is measured by the size of the bling-blings, the number of red roses or dark chocolates, or the high price of the gift bought from that high-end store --

    Valentine's Day has become one of the biggest commercial successes in business the world has ever seen, and a lot of people in the business industry have literally been laughing their hearts out all the way to the bank.

    Still, to most people, today is a red-letter day, crass commercialism notwithstanding.

    I am sharing with you some of the “old- fashioned” love letters that I have gathered from my little red box in my computer archives, back when the human heart was uncorrupted and the human soul had to express itself in the only way that we can say, separating us from the rest of the animal kingdom, through the power of the pen and spoken word---

    I have read Ambeth Ocampo’s piece on some of the love letters that our National Hero, Jose P. Rizal received from his paramours.
    You can read the rest of the article
  • here



  • Here is one from Suzanne, a Flemish lady who was obviously filled with longing for the brilliant brown man.

    “…I hope your courts are open and I shall not have to wait a long time for your decision. Don’t delay too long writing us because I wear out the soles of my shoes running to the mailbox to see if there is a letter from you.”

    and

    “There will never be any home in which you are so much loved as that in Brussels, so, you, little bad boy, hurry up and come back. Tell us a little about the kind of house in which you are lodged and how are the people there.”

    Hmmm, I guess our hero was not only a prolific man of letters but a certified “babe-magnet“ too, proving once again that most pinoys were naturally born “chick boys.” Ha-ha.


    I wake filled with thoughts of you. Your portrait and the intoxicating evening which we spent yesterday have left my senses in turmoil. Sweet, incomparable Josephine, what a strange effect you have on my heart! Are you angry? Do I see you looking sad? Are you worried?... My soul aches with sorrow, and there can be no rest for you lover; but is there still more in store for me when, yielding to the profound feelings which overwhelm me, I draw from your lips, from your heart a love which consumes me with fire? Ah! it was last night that I fully realized how false an image of you your portrait gives!

    You are leaving at noon; I shall see you in three hours.

    Until then, mio dolce amor, a thousand kisses; but give me none in return, for they set my blood on fire.


    That was a fiery one written by an equally fiery Napoleon to his wife. No wonder the Little Corporal almost succeeded in turning Europe and the rest of the world upside down.


    Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s immortal Sonnets from the Portuguese revealed the deep and sensitive soul of the writer. Here is another example of her sensitivity and passionate love in a short but heartfelt letter to the love of her life, Robert Browning-

    And now listen to me in turn. You have touched me more profoundly than I thought even you could have touched me - my heart was full when you came here today. Henceforward I am yours for everything....



    This letter by Mark Twain to his beloved Olivia Langdon showed that the American Humorist and Satirist had a serious side deep within...

    Out of the depths of my happy heart wells a great tide of love and prayer for this priceless treasure that is confided to my life-long keeping.

    You cannot see its intangible waves as they flow towards you, darling, but in these lines you will hear, as it were, the distant beating of the surf.



    Dylan Thomas’ letter to Caitlin showed the Welsh poet’s longing for her as he traveled North America without her by his side.

    Have you forgotten me? I am the man you used to say you loved. I used to sleep in your arms - do you remember? But you never write. You are perhaps mindless of me. I am not of you. I love you.


    Parting is such a sweet sorrow, as Tsarina Alexandra’s letter to Tsar Nicholas II showed the emotional turmoil one has to face every time a loved one has to travel far from home.

    Off you go again alone and its with a very heavy heart I part from you. No more kisses and tender caresses for ever so long -- I want to bury myself in you, hold you tight in my arms, make you feel the intense love of mine.

    You are my very life Sweetheart, and every separation gives such endless heartache...


    And this one’s for the lonely ones written by yours truly years ago, for the artist who failed to paint his subject as his vision was obscured by the haze of his own creation.

    I cannot paint you, my love.
    Your calm eyes clashed with the storm in your heart.
    Thoughts wrapped alone in the cold, followed the scene
    I created; the essence is lost as memories came crashing into
    the walls of brown earth and hot kisses going up in smoke.

    The colors are smeared, the canvas remained blank and my eyes burnt.


    And here’s another one also written years ago, once featured in Dalityapi on-line poetry site; my homage to Innocence…

    Her dreams of lonely tales
    would touch the
    weary creeping
    foolish complexity
    of the human heart



    Ah love, so powerful that it can make even the mightiest fall, and always a rollercoaster ride. Here’s one from the Bard himself,

    They do not love that do not show their love. The course of true love never did run smooth. Love is a familiar. Love is a devil. There is no evil angel but Love.


    So, have you ever really been in love?

    I have.

    Thursday, February 08, 2007

    Ghost Riding

    Ever heard of Ghost Riding the Whip or Ghost Riding or simply Ghostin‘?

    This is an on- going craze sweeping the United States for some thrill- seeking people , most of them teenagers whose idea of fun hovers on the wild and dangerous side.

    Ghost Riding originated in the Bay Area in California popularized there by the Hyphy culture (a style of music and dance associated with the Hip Hop Culture) and is actually when a person puts the car in neutral or allows it to idle and then the driver and oftentimes his or her passengers exit the vehicle while it is still running and dance to the beat of loud rap music beside it, in front, on the hood or up on the roof.

    Some people call it dumb and moronic, some say it’s plain stupidity, I call it as a typical form of teen rebelliousness, a wrong outlet for self- expression and a crazy notion of having fun.

    This F-U-N thing have already claimed two lives and more will be expected if these fad will continue which I know it will come hell or high water considering the adrenaline rush a young person gets doing such crazy stuffs all in the spirit of f-u-n.

    I’ve done crazy things too in my life as a teenager which I can say is much more dangerous than what these youngsters nowadays are doing and emerged unscathed. I guess me and my friends were just plain lucky back then.

    Even the so- called persons in authority whether they admit it or not and who are now trying to stop this craze are also guilty of doing some crazy and outrageous things when they were “young once.”

    What’s then the fuzz all about?

    Maybe it’s the generation gap, the new world order or simply put, the signs of the times and you can easily tell that they’re always a changin’ since way, way back at the beginning of civilization to the psychedelic years right up to the present where exhibitionist celebrities rules, Britney Spears be damned with or without underwear.

    The media on their part and for the sake of their so- called quote, unquote concern for the welfare of the general public have already caught in into the Ghost Riding wave and is now sensationalizing the issue and helping fan the flames that more and more people are now getting aware of this phenomenon and in the process a lot of youngsters are now trying to do the most outrageous and absurd tricks from state to state.

    I say, this kind of stuff that youngsters do will have its run for a certain period of time no matter what some people think and do.

    I say, these things as in all the other fads in the past will all come to pass once the novelty dies down and the adrenaline rush cools off.

    Anyway, here are some of the clips which I got from YouTube about the crazy but dangerous; hilarious but stupid things that some of these kids are so into right now.

    Do I hear Bam Margera, Napoleon Dynamite and their minions laughing in the background?

    Boo!










    Note: Read my latest entry on--

    Lea Salonga: Filipina Artist and Performer Par Excellence in
    Unchanged Melodies

    The Good Shepherd: A Review in
    B.M.S.

    Sunday, February 04, 2007

    Winter Musings



    After a relatively mild December and a milder January, mother nature had turned this side of the world into a winter wonderland even for just a day or two with just a couple of inches of snow in my place in Southeast Michigan compared to what the northern part of the state where at least 8- 10 inches deep of soft and white snow have marked the landscape.

    But this is not Colorado, that skier’s paradise were the cold and the snow were at its best for a real winter blast. This is Michigan where the weather could turn nasty at any time of the day.

    The dreaded Michigan weather is now rearing its ugly head; there is very little snow but the wind chill is deadly hovering at minus 3 to minus 12 degrees centigrade where the cold wind would caress you and make you feel the thousand needles pricking your skin, boring deep down inside your body and gnawing into your bones.

    That’s how cold Michigan is, nowadays. People would rather stay inside the comforts of their homes and warm themselves in the fireplace than venture outside and brave the big chill.

    But not me, I love being outside and feel the chill; I love that numbing feel on my skin. I love that kind of feeling that it is hard to explain when you‘re out, out there by yourself in the quiet--


    I am at peace with myself when I am alone in the cold; I am at peace when I am standing in the open air, watching the birds frolic from branch to branch of the frosted maple trees; I am at peace with myself admiring the hanging icicles on the eaves; I am at peace with myself treading my own path in the snow; I am at peace with myself in the dead of winter…

    It’s what you call communing with nature and appreciating the beauty of it all.

    And like Thoreau and Emerson, I will never get tired of it.

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