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Monday, April 20, 2015

Caring for American White Trash in Michael Collins' The Resurrectionists

There are certain areas in America that I'm interested in, not necessarily the white, upper middle class America we Filipinos see everyday through our television sets and through movies. They have a colloquial name for these people and I'm not sure if writing it here would make it politically correct.
I am referring to American white trash, white Americans who live in the fringes of their society, growing up in really rural towns, deeply religious, into farming and live in the coldest and most forbidding areas in America.
The central character in Michael Collins' The Resurrectionists fit that description perfectly. Abused as a child, not much affection shown as a young child, he is in essence, a loser in our success-oriented society and he is trying to reconnect to the family of his past from a remote farming in Michigan. I don't know why I was drawn to the depressing atmosphere in the novel, but I kept reading it hoping to find some reason as to why some murders and mysterious fires had to happen during the young life of the central character.
In the end, one couldn't care less anymore. What's important is for the main character to snatch his life back and although it's not perfect (his lover loves another man who is in jail, his teenage son hates him and his guts, and his daughter is apathetic to him), his road trip with his family made him finally realize that he had already ran away from his sordid past, a long time ago.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Movie Review: While We're Young Is Like Holding A Mirror To My Face

When I saw writer-director Noah Baumbach's name on this big cardboard advertisement of his new movie, While We're Young, two weeks ago in Trinoma's cinemas, I was pleasantly surprised and happy as well, that finally, one of his movies will be screened commercially here in Manila!  

I've been a fan of his work and two of my favorite movies of his - The Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding - are not really your normal Hollywood studio movies since even though they're comedy-dramas - they talk about real life.

Noah is about my age so when I watched this movie, it was like he was holding a mirror to all the fortysomethings in the audience - the demographic he is writing this movie for.  I have my opinions about how it is to live in one's 40s and I really felt for this childless couple - played by Ben Stiller and the radiant Naomi Watts have to navigate all the "Why don't you have a kid yet" question and "We don't go anywhere anymore" comments which people my age grapple with.

I really enjoyed the first two -thirds of the movie as Stiller and Watts' characters meet and get to know this pair of twentysomethings played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried.  This is where all the fun and the cute observations about generational differences occur.  There is a bit of conflict in the movie but I feel it was handled awkwardly and unsatisfyingly towards the end.  

Interestingly though, Baumbach's observations and comments on today's generation may put today's twentysomethings on the defensive.

Friday, April 10, 2015

My Favorite TV Channels for 2014: AXN - Channel of the Week

An episode of Blue Bloods is my most favorite TV show this week.  This week's episode is about a vigilante who kills himself when the system fails him.

Anyhow, here are my ten favorite cable TV channels as of  October 24, 2014 -

#1 CI - 300 pts.

#2 Fox Sports - 237 pts.

#3 beTV - 203 pts.

#4 HBO - 197 pts.

#5 Diva Universal - 144 pts.

#6 Balls - 123 pts.

#7 AXN Asia - 120 pts.

#8 Nat Geo - 87 pts.

#9 TV5 - 85 pts. 

#10 Cinema One - 72 pts.

PBO - 72 pts.

ABS-CBN - 71 pts.

2nd Avenue - 65 pts.

History - 53 pts.

Jack City - 43 pts.

Animal Planet - 43 pts. 

TCM - 39 pts.

BBC World - 39 pts.

Disney Channel - 35 pts.

Fox TV - 31 pts.

GMA News TV - 30 pts.

Cartoon Network - 29 pts.

Solar News Channel - 24 pts. 

Jack TV - 24 pts.

TLC - 21 pts.

Star Sports - 20 pts.

Fox News - 13 pts.

TV5 Monde - 12 pts.

Solar Sports Channel - 10 pts.

Fox Family Movies - 9 pts.

Universal - 9 pts.

Sony Channel - 8 pts.

Discovery - 8 pts.

CNN - 7 pts.

bio - 7 pts.

MTV - 5 pts.

Nickelodeon - 4 pts.

Fox Filipino - 3 pts.

Net 25 - 1 pt.

An Episode of Blue Bloods: My Most Favorite TV Show This Week

I watched an exceptional episode of Blue Bloods tonight.  In the story, the vigilante shoots himself after finding no recourse in the justice system.

Anyway, here are my ten favorite shows for the week ending October 24, 2015 -

#1 AXN - Blue Bloods - vigilante shoots himself

#2 AXN - Amazing Race - Shetland ponies

#3 Cinema One - May Minamahal

#4 CI - Celebrity Ghost Stories - Chaka Khan

$5 Diva Universal - How Do I Look - Mom looks beautiful, changed hair color

#6 Diva Universal - Clean House - motorbike rider, real estate broker becomes broke

#7 Cartoon Network - Sarah the strong gets utopia

#8 Animal Planet - fruit bats

#9 PBO - Ang Lahat ng Ito'y Para Sa 'Yo

Slowly Getting Over My Fear of Dogs

I'm actually afraid of dogs! Kasi when I was 11 years old, our neighbor's dog jumped on my bum tapos aray, tapos ayun, starting from that incident, I keep away from dogs na! I'm really terrified of them na ayun, lumalayo talaga ako if I see them.
I have so many funny stories nga regarding my Bangkok trips kasi I always walk home to my hotel after a night out, e syempre 4am na yun and wiz na masyado tao sa daan. Bangkok has so many stray dogs, kahit sa Sukhumvit Road, which is supposed to be an upscale place!!
So if I see a dog coming towards me in this sidewalk I would immediately cross to the other side, only to see another group of dogs there! One night nga, I couldn't go inside my hotel sa back entrance kasi may mga dogs sa may entrada!! God knows how many stones and sticks I've had to arm myself just to keep a dog away from me during those crazy nights!
Anyway, now that Laura and Dylan just adore dogs, ayun, I am asking Laura's help to get over my fear of them. Slowly nawawala na but I still can't hold them without Laura giving them to me. That's my next goal, na ako mismo kukuha sa kanila from their playpen.
By the way, these are the new additions to the Fabe family!! From top to bottom is Brooke, then Katrina, our very first dog, then Cooper, the only boy! And he's so noisy and frisky! At least when I go home late, they're the first ones to welcome me when I open the door! They're so adorable!!
I really hope I can get my fear over them soon kasi I'd like a bigger dog in the future!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Tinik Sa Dibdib: My Most Favorite TV Show This Week

An old classic Pinoy movie starring my most favorite Pinoy actress, Nora Aunor, is my most favorite TV show this week.  I don't think I was able to see this movie during its release so it felt great to finally see it on TV!

As usual, everyone is great in this movie - from Dina Bonnevie to Pilar Pilapil to Chanda Romero and Philip Salvador.  Everything and everyone in this movie is just flawed yet perfect!

Here are my ten favorite TV shows for the week ending October 17, 2014 -

#1 PBO - Tinik sa Dibdib

#2 Cinema One - Thai horror movie - cemetery

#3 AXN - Amazing Race - London

#4 beTV - Desperate Housewives - nasunog ang kamay

#5 beTV - Desperate Housewives - sister's autistic

#6 beTV - Desperate Housewives - cape kinuha

#7 PBO - Kung Mahawi Man ang Ulap - Amy Austria / Hilda Koronel

#8 MTV - Nelly Furtado

#9 CI - Obsession Dark Side - woman terrorized by serial killer

#10 AXN - Jack and Jill

A Woman Reinvents Her Life in Au Revoir Liverpool

When I first bought this book, I thought it was just one of those romantic stories set in World War II. I was in for a real surprise!
Society has always been more cruel to women who philander as opposed to men - and such was the situation our protagonist, Jessica, finds herself in in 1930s Liverpool. Her mean husband throws her out of their house and takes their 2 children away from her. And worse, the man she slept with - is her mother's lover!! So her mother treats her icily after their one night stand was revealed!
Like any young mother, she almost went crazy without her kids, who were still very young, but slowly, she found her bearings with the help of her younger brother and some kind strangers.
What I love about her character is how she picked up the pieces of her shattered life. Soon, she had to leave Liverpool - since she felt like she was a pariah there - and she went to Paris. Then World War II breaks out!
Her character had to endure many challenges but what was beautiful is that she found herself, she found what her real strengths are, and really came into her own person. When before, she felt like she was just a behind the shadow of her rich and popular husband, now she really knew how to handle a household, run a business and discovered that she was really desirable after all!
While before, she used her husband as an emotional crutch - now that she was alone, she had to mature quickly and find the courage to solve the problems she was facing incessantly everyday.
The war taught her many things about loyalty, love for country, love for thy neighbor, and she really matured as a woman and as a mother.
When she returned to Liverpool after the war, she was now a totally different person than she was when she first left.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Quiapo Church: Saving the Best for Last for Visita Iglesia

We decided to save the best for last last night as we wrapped up our Visita Iglesia.  It was already past midnight when we left Mendiola and when we reached the Quiapo area, we once again found a parking slot just for us - as if a guardian angel was always guiding us to the right free spot!

Quiapo Boulevard was already closed for traffic and as we walked from Isetann to the Quiapo church, alongside us was this motley procession of people who were barefoot!  The Nazareno devotees, at least the ones from Quiapo - were here in full force!

I had only seen the Nazareno procession on TV so it was amazing to see many devotees around, considering it was already midnight, which meant it was Good Friday already!  When we entered the church, we were met by this resounding loud cheer of people waving their white towels! It was like mass hysteria in a rock concert  - it was as if Jesus Christ himself came down from the heavens and entered the Quiapo church and bask in the adulation of His believers!  

The people were standing on the pews and what made it a bit scary for me was this movement of humanity, a slow surge of people coming from the entrance of the church, moving towards the left side where the exit to Quiapo boulevard was!  For a while, I thought we would be caught in that crush of humanity, but thankfully, we were a safe distance away, near the right side of the altar.

Frankly, nothing beats the religious fervor of the Nazareno devotees.  If faith were a living organism, it was alive and well in each of these devotees who ranged from all ages - bata, matanda, lalaking barako, lalaking lampayatot, babaeng sexy, babaeng   balyena, pati na binabae - the love for Jesus has transcended all these and you cannot even distinguish those who came in cars and those who just walked all the way from their home bases to Quiapo church.  And yes, they were all barefoot!  Remember, Quiapo boulevard was closed - so all of these people walked!!

It was really like a fiesta outside and the Manila government naman was there in full force, the police, the medics and first aid - making sure everyone was safe and nobody was taking advantage of the situation to cause disturbances.

There were many people doing the Stations of the Cross so it was a matter of huddling together as the sounds of different languages - English, Tagalog and a smattering of dialects could be heard, as people read from their Way of the Cross prayer books.  

It was really fitting that we chose Quiapo to end this mini-pilgrimage that we had yesterday, because there, we felt like we were stripped of all our pretensions and vanities - and amidst the stench, the sweat, the dirt and the grime - it reminded each one of us that Jesus was born in the most humble of conditions and He died in the most harrowing of circumstances. 

In Awe at the Beautiful Interiors of the San Beda Church

Unbeknownst to us, as we were entering the church inside the San Beda campus was that it was going to close na in a few minutes!  This is my first time to enter the church and it has some of the most beautiful paintings on its interior walls of any church I know. Everything really looked freshly painted!

So amidst, again, the sea of humanity, who were praying and doing their Stations of the Cross, were the local tourists like me who were amazed by the beauty of the church's interiors, and were busy snapping pictures up there and up further there.

If only most of the churches around my area were this beautiful, it would be a great experience as it is, to worship and pray.  Kudos na rin sa San Beda brothers to have maintained such an alluring church. Even the Stations of the Cross were paintings, although we had to figure out which station we were.

When we left the church, the guards already closed the entrance yet there was still a crowd outside, doing their prayers, but were not allowed inside anymore.  We just entered the church at the nick of time.

There were thousands of people walking in Mendiola as well, most likely they came from St. Jude and the others from San Sebastian and maybe the others preparing for the procession in Quiapo. I never imagined Holy Week to be this lively.  

Sa totoo lang, with our politician-leaders betraying us and letting us down - again and again - with their all too human frailties - sa Diyos na lang talaga kakapit ang karaniwang tao!

Our Very Own San Sebastian Church - As Stunning as the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Anyone who has been inside the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris can surely say that our very own San Sebastian Church has some similarities.  Well, we don't have the famous flying buttresses of the Notre Dame, but once you get inside San Sebastian, with the very effective night lighting the priests placed there, para akong natransport sa scene ng The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Nga nga in other words!

It looked very Gothic to me and I felt I was Esmeralda mesmerized by the grandeur of the church inside.  Yun lang nga, magulo sa loob ng church because many people were coming in and out, doing their prayers and religious obligations.

I guess most of the people who were there last night go to this church every Sunday so wiz effect na sa kanila ang grandeur ng church na eto but for people like me who only visit this place once in a while (this is my 3rd visit, one was a wedding), nganga talaga!

Tamang tama lang ang timpla nila sa lighting, bringing to great effect the beautiful architecture you can see above.  Solemn ang dating although parang palengke sa baba.  People were not noisy naman but there was a lot of movement - coming in - coming out - paying their respects to the suffering of Jesus Christ.

Add to that the cacophony of Tagalog and English as people did their stations of the cross.  I was also very happy to see a lot of young Catholics doing their Holy Week obligations!  I wasn't that religious when I was young - I mean I never really went on Visita Iglesias, preferring to avoid the summer heat in the comfort of my home - enjoying the silence that the Holy Week offers.

If you saw the sea of humanity in the San Sebastian Church quadrangle last night, you'd wish that this religious fervor would translate into an urgency among Filipinos, especially our youth, to vote for leaders who really care about us, hindi lang pakitang tao.