Thursday, December 27, 2007

Funeral For My Father's Friend

My father lost his best friend last week.
Mr. Arsenio Tan, my father's best friend of almost twenty years died last December 21, 2007 in Guangzhou, China. Arsenio, who saw my father through almost every stage of his life within a couple of years after my mother left was a good man. A good man who did well for himself, but did not let money measure men, much less his friends.

After all that time, I managed to build a rather loose, but comfortable friendship with said best friend's son. Hung out with him for a few minutes at the one-night-only wake with his father's ashes, which were brought back from his failed operation in China.

It's interesting how one surveys a funeral crowd and finds the air drowning in murmured chatters. All of which are underlined with a silent emptiness that echoes not in the ears, but in the eyes of those who reluctantly smile with a sympathetic pat on the arm.

And the murmurs go on with the same questions and the same old lines over and over again...

"How did he die?"
"I just saw him..."
"How old was he?"
"He's so young..."
"How's the family?"

"How did he die?"
"I just saw him..."
"How old was he?"
"He's so young..."
"How's the family?"

"How did he die?"
"I just saw him..."
"How old was he?"
"He's so young..."
"How's the family?"

and it goes on and on and on and on...

and then people lower their heads and trickle out of the chapel until one looks up again and finds only the family remaining. Tired of smiling and repeating the stories over and over and over again...

The wake will be over soon enough, and the things that families never want to talk about are finally discussed on that fateful family dinner, and then the family finally moves on.

Like we all will.

MR. ARSENIO TAN (R.I.P. December 21, 2007)
Photo by Dani Simmonds, SXC

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Marked Man

An interview with Director Mark Meily last December 2006

The last time I saw him in person was almost two decades ago. He taught me how to literally kick ass. That’s because until 1988, award-winning director Mark Meily was my Tae Kwon Do teacher.

So I walked into our meeting place a minute late and he was already there having sushi. I was almost afraid he’d order me to do knuckle push-ups for being late…

Now manning his own production outfit, Spark Short Films, Mark Meily has become one of the most sought-after commercial directors in the business. And with the still ringing critical and commercial success of his indie opus “Crying Ladies” throwing enough feathers on his cap to make him chief of at least three Indian tribes, Mark Meily likes to pace himself between movie-making and various experimental concepts in advertising such as “Sugar”, a fifteen-minute love story reminiscent of Rupert Holmes’ Piña Colada Song that featured Bianca King together with Rafael Rosel.

The Metro Manila Film Fest had just been concluded, an indie film showing series was being held at the Robinson’s Galleria, my deadline was creeping in, and this guy who represented the threshold of indie, commercial and the commercial indie was the perfect subject for a handful of cinema-related questions…

* * * * *

JLG: After the success of “Crying Ladies”, people expected a lot, then suddenly it just seemed like you dropped out of the radar? What gives?
MM: The thing is, in the ‘States, in Europe, good directors do maybe one film every three or four years. “Crying Ladies” was last 2003, [then “La Visa Loca” and] I’m now working on my third film. So for output, that’s not so bad. That’s still prolific.

JLG: Didn’t you get a lot of scripts your way?
MM: I didn’t like the scripts. They confused me more than they enlightened me. I’m not saying there weren’t any good scripts. Probably other directors were getting them. The ones being offered to me were [either] too similar to “Crying Ladies” or rip-offs of other films, and I don’t want to copy other people’s work. Or worse, repeat what I’ve [already] done.

"...while [digital film-making] has made it easy to become a film director, it has also made it much easier to become a bad film director."

JLG: So what’s Spark Short Films all about?
MM: Well, as the name says, it’s primarily a production company. But we want to conceptualize new ways of doing advertising, such as subtle product placements in short films. “Sugar” being our first offering, which was a love story to be made into 3G content.

JLG: So how was it working with Bianca King?
MM: She was great. Very professional. And this project was a bit of a departure, since apparently [during that time] she was always typecast as the bad girl. And “Sugar”was the first time [Bianca] got to play the lead as good girl or victim.

JLG: Do you view the so-called “Digital Age” in Philippine Cinema a resurgence, or is it just hyped up?
MM: There is a resurgence, yes. But a lot of these films are becoming marginalized because they have a limited audience. For example, “Maximo Oliveros” was very successful because it was made on a very low budget, and they were able to blow it up 35[mm] and show it in maybe 12 to 20 theatres. [And that] made it earn more.
Some films good as they are, couldn’t afford to have their movies blown up to 35mm print [copies]. So they have a screening in SM, then one in Galleria, then one in UP, then one somewhere else…
Even if you fill up one screening room, how much do you think that will earn?

JLG: So distribution is limited because of budget. But what about quality-wise?
MM: It’s hard to generalize. There are a lot of good independent films. Digital film-making has democratized film-making. So consequently, while [digital film-making] has made it easy to become a film director, it has also made it much easier to become a bad film director.

JLG: Do you foresee good or bad in the local film industry?
MM: Both good and bad. Good, because there are a lot of good films being produced, but at the same time, there is a mafia-like organization in the mainstream film industry that wants to maintain the “old guard”. These guys control the movie industry in terms of distribution, etc. Some are in production companies, some are in the government… sadly, and some are producers.

For instance, these guys don’t see the [Metro Manila Film Festival] as anything other than a fund-raiser, not as a way to promote the best of Philippine cinema. Simply to raise as much money as fast as they can for Mowelfund, for the CCP, for the OMB (Optical Media Board), or something… they think that’s what it is. A business. Forget about the [actual] festival. Forget about doing creative films, they hate that word ‘creative’, they also hate the word “artistic”.

JLG: Do you think the MMFF will go on?
MM: Yes, it will go on. I just attended a conference organized by the National Commission for Culture and Arts. We were discussing the state of the industry. Particularly the Metro Manila Film Festival.

This year, they had a weird criteria: 40% box office performance. All of you are judges, but then the organizer says: ‘Hey, don’t put any value or number on that criteria, because it will be the SGV accountant who will put something in that box.’ I mean, seriously, why still you still invite judges to judge something with a criterion they do not have any say on?

Nowhere on this planet in the history of film festivals all over the world will you see box office performance or commercial viability [based on its first four days] as a criteria, and for that you get the best picture award. It’s stupid. Ridiculous. Nakakhiya ang Philippines.

But the awards will never affect the box office performance of an already successful film. Whether “Titanic” won best picture or not, it would have earned whatever it earned already.

JLG: So are we better off without the MMFF?
MM: Let’s put it this way. The way it started was to showcase the best, but the way the executive committee is changing the rules thinking that they can earn more is really killing it.

Just imagine what would happen if next year there would be five versions of “Shake, Rattle & Roll”, and five more “Enteng Kabisote”s. At the end of the day, people wouldn’t watch all these ten movies. They would just watch [what they think is] the best one.

My point is: why don’t offer people a choice? The ones who don’t normally watch Filipino movies. Give those [people] a choice. If you give them those five versions of “Enteng Kabisote”, do you think they will watch? No, they won’t. if they would, they’d probably watch one, since if they’ve seen one, they’ve seen them all.

JLG: Which of the entries from the last Metro Manila Film Festival did you like most?
MM: I like… uhm, I have to like something, right? (grins…). I think the best would probably be “Kasal Kasali, Kasalo”, and for cinematography “Ligalig”.

JLG: So why do you think it seems that Filipino movies throughout the regular course of a year do not make money?
MM: It’s not just a Philippine phenomenon. It’s universal. All over Asia, in Europe, even in India, there are lesser films being produced. There are too many choices.

For example, during Holy Week, you only had a choice between “Jesus of Nazareth” and “The Ten Commandments” and they were shown only thee or four movie houses along Sta. Cruz. This was back in the 70’s and 80’s. Now, on Holy Week, I have DVD’s, in malls there are film festivals… I have over 70 channels on cable to choose from. Back then on Holy Week, the only thing on TV was “The Seven Last Words”! So even if you showed “The Ten Commandments” over and over, people would still watch it because there was nothing to do. Now, people don’t even have to go to church anymore. I can choose from “Ang Dating Daan”, “Iglesia ni Cristo” or the Catholic Church all on TV. There’s also piracy. There’s the internet. There’s YouTube… and pretty soon, they’re going to launch mobile television.

JLG: So is the industry going to die?
MM: Let me quote Mother Lily [Monteverde]. For all the people that hate her, people still listen to her, because when she makes sense, she makes a lot of sense. [She said] ‘We’re all in this business, because we’re crazy.’

And that’s it. We just love making movies, because we love movies!

JLG: How many more episodes of Mano Po do you think there will be?
MM: Probably around 4 more.

JLG: Uhm… what do you think about “Enteng Kabisote”?
MM: Didn’t see it.

JLG: I did.
MM: Sucker.

* * * * *

At some point, most directors will tell you the ultimate critic should always be the audience. While at the airport last 2004 after a film festival in India, Meily’s attention was called from behind, and he thought, “oh no, not another beggar…”.

“Turns out this was a porter. Then he said, ‘I like “Crying Ladies”.’ Not a film critic or not a film schooler, this was a porter. Cap, jacket and all.

“No,” I said. “You did not see ‘Crying Ladies’.

‘[yes], I did,’ he said. He then named all the other big movies in the festival, then said: ‘but among them I like ‘Crying Ladies’. That’s why I remember you.’

“For me, that porter’s comments exceed whatever film critics’ praises are.” - Mark Meily
(Photo elements generously provided by Mark Meily, composited rather plainly by the author. This interview/article was published in Issue 2, Volume 1 of Manifesto Magazine published by the C! Magazine Group under the editorship of Jose Mari Ugarte, circa 2006.)

Trapped into Cinematic Submission (Metro Manila Film Festival 2006)

Trapped into Cinematic Submission (MMFF 2006)
By Golangco, Jasper Greek Lao

(I am posting this out of some sense of personal history in connection to the on-going MMFF)

As of this writing, I am still eagerly awaiting Ben Stiller’s “Night at the Museum” to hit theaters on mainstream. A couple of weeks prior during the holiday break, when the wifey and I had a lot of time to kill, we scoured through the newspapers and “” for something interesting to catch on cinema. Yeah yeah… it’s the age of home entertainment, but hey, I couldn’t get fresh Tater’s popcorn at home…

I found myself staring at posters with the familiar faces of Vic Sotto, Lito Lapid, Judy Ann Santos, et. al. in even more familiar concepts. There was Lito Lapid in one of the worst Zorro rip-offs I had ever seen, Gretchen Barretto in yet another horror movie production, Vic Sotto playing himself with a different name, and of course, there was the nth installment of Mano Po and other sad creations. Don’t get me started on the one with John Prats dressed up like the X-men’s Nightcrawler.

For some reason, there was a matinee of Denzel Washington’s Déjà vu. Of course we missed it and were mulling whether or not to catch any other movie just for an excuse to gorge on barbeque flavored pop-corn and have some down time.

With my wife having a long-standing crush on “Bosing Vic” as the man is often referred to, the only thing on the multiplex that seemed to have any redeeming value was “Enteng Kabisote.” The redemption being my wife shuts up, while she stares at Mr. Sotto’s mug for an estimated 120 minutes and I can shut my brain off and pretend it was still the seventies but with better special effects. And yes, gorge on barbeque flavored pop-corn.

The special effects were more than serviceable. Heck, some effects were even half a notch better than the first “Star Wars” (episode 4, a.k.a. A New Hope for you Gen X’ers). Visually, Enteng Kabisote wasn’t an eye sore, and the fact that Kristine Hermosa is still one gorgeous babe didn’t hurt either. But at some point, I honestly felt that for a couple of hours, I was being spoken to like a 5 year old. Of course it’s a comedy, and people go to watch “Bosing Vic” not to get a good story, and I will stop now about Enteng Kabisote and move on.

I felt cornered as my wife and I were looking around the Cineplex and had to choose among some rather limited offerings courtesy of the Metro Manila Film Festival.

The films that managed to get a lot of advertising were “Mano Po 5” (can’t wait for Number 69…) and “Matakot ka sa Karma.” The rest were either hinging on variety show appearances or just throwing their lucks in the air. And while marketing movies are expensive, they are critical in helping a movie succeed. Of course that is, if there was anything good enough to market. Judy Ann Santos’ “Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo” did very well, but most likely only due to Judy Ann’s fanbase. The film “Ligalig” received good reviews, but fared very poorly. It could be said that the results were a reflection of the Filipino’s movie palate, but I think that that assumption is rather unjust. I would’ve given it a chance, but I knew absolutely nothing about it, and Heaven knows my wife knew quite a bit about “Bosing Vic.”

So isn’t it sad that the movie-going public has to be cornered to patronize their own movies? So we got tired of the whole “there’s a song and dance number in the middle” routine and the Indians haven’t. And we definitely got tired of the “ST” phase (ok, so I really haven’t… but hey…). Can’t we go back to good old fashioned film-making?

“Panday” was successful not only because it featured the “King of Philippine Cinema”, Fernando Poe, Jr., but because it was very original and by no measure derivative. A handful of daringly original films in the recent past have done well. They were produced because they were stories that had to be told, not because they had stars to build or contracts to fulfill.

My wife and I recently caught “Inang Yaya” starring Miss Maricel Soriano. The movie was well-attended, and while I felt that the story needed a legitimate climax and some genuine conflict, at least my intelligence wasn’t insulted. It wasn’t over-acted, the dialogue was not stilted, and the situations were very realistic. Okay, so the ending wasn’t satisfying, but at least it really looked like it tried. Unlike most local movies that spring out from time to time.

The local film industry has often complained about the lack of support from the public, but I think it’s mostly their fault. Just because they dish out one decent movie every now and then, they shouldn’t expect people to come in droves. People want choices. Good choices. And from that comes confidence. The movie-going Pinoy has lost confidence. And a “film festival” filled with recycled goods doesn’t do anything to help.

Some would say I’m a minority, but the average monthly box office doesn’t seem to think so. Of course there’s also the obvious culprit called the Philippine economy.

The price of an average movie ticket nowadays runs somewhere around P100-P130. The average wage earner clocks in something between P300-P350 for a day’s work. And that’s an average white collar job. So why should he or she shell out over P500 to take the family out for a piece of recycled celluloid crap?

I have been told by people tired of my whining that I am not the market. That’s a load of jack.

But let’s say we’re talking about the supposedly real audience of local cinema, which are the masses in Philippine society. Does it mean that the masses do not deserve to be entertained with something creative and original? Something that will be worth something even after they’ve walked out of the theater? Something that will not make them regret shelling out their hard-earned P500 (and no, that doesn’t even include pop-corn).

People love movies. They always will. But they will love good movies. So I implore the local film-makers to start making more of them, promote them right, and to paraphrase Kevin Costner: “if you shoot it, they will come.”

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Eulogy for a Classic House along Quezon Avenue

There is absolutely no point to this blog entry. i just finally had the camera while passing by this house, which is now in full view since the property has apparently been sold and the trees have been downed and the house is now in full view (at least until they completely take it down...)

We are losing more and more of these beautiful structures every day...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Unfortunate Events (#2659)

One of the cats pissed on my laptop.
my shiny brand new 17" hewlett packard with the altec lansing speakers laptop.
pissed on the lcd inverter and now my beloved machine is blind like a bat.
i have it attached to an old monitor while i pray for deliverance in the form of a new inverter that i will have to wait until after christmas to order, because the hp offices are closed.
i have a good bet on which cat it is.
it's the one that has hated me for a while now.
and i will keep kicking his ass until i get my new inverter.
it's almost funny somehow.
i mean, imagine the conversation:
"Hey, what's wrong with your new laptop?"
"Uhm, LCD ain't working."
"It's new, right? Take it to HP for a warranty check... oh, wait... why'd you rip the face plate off??!? That voids the warranty!"
"Can't get no warranty. It was bought in the States without the warranty on the price I bought it for."
"Yeah, but they still cover those things. The machine's new."
"Uhm... feline error."
"Excuse me?"
"Uhm... catpissedonthething..."
"I said... Cat. Pissed. On. The. Thing..."
"Right. Kidding..."
"No kidding..."

And then there's the part where I burst into tears...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Heaven Help the Philippines

We are waiting to head off to our annual Christmas party, and traffic is bad. People are hesitant to hit the road...
In my boredom, I googled "gloria corrupt," and i found this:

'Nuff said.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas and the Dying of Mother Earth

Mother Earth dies a lot more on Christmas time...

Don't believe me? Just try and imagine how much paper we waste this time of year. Imagine all that fucking paper wrapped around that gift, ripped out by the gifts' recipients in a matter of seconds to add to the great dumpster that Mother Earth has become... don't get me started on the felled trees...
Let's take it one step further, people...
Christmas time encourages a waste of money. A lot of money is thrown around without care in the form of unwanted gifts.

Gift-giving is actually more of masturbation than trying to make people happy. More often than not, people give gifts because they do not wish to disappoint, and to feel better about themselves. I going general here, not specific.

Corporations spend gazillions on corporate gifts each year. more than half of which are crap. They usually just pick out the ones that fit their budget and are probably the least embarrassing among their options.

i must admit. i'm sometimes one of them. okay, most of the time. But hey, i'm in advertising.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Gin Blossoms: Major Lodge Victory (CD Review)

The Gin Blossoms are Back… with all their baggage.

After over a decade, one of my favorite bands, the Gin Blossoms are back with “Major Lodge Victory”, a decidedly mid-tempo collection that really sounds like a Gin Blossoms album. It sounds too much like “Congratulations…I’m Sorry”, and tries too hard to sound like “New Miserable Experience”.

While the album is more than listenable, it doesn’t break any new ground. While the first single “Learning the Hard Way” is filled with their usual goods: catchy melodies with a lot of hooks and a brand of grunge harmony that has them tagged as a scruffier version of Wilson Philips, it somehow sounds like a bunch of great musicians just doing their jobs.
Not necessarily labored, but somehow short of the drunken melancholy and desperation that is their trademark.

“Come On Hard” follows and vainly attempts to bring back that old edge they lost along with former leader Doug Hopkins. “Someday Soon” to me, is “As Long As It Matters” played sideways. Everything else just fades out inoffensively into the background.

While the disc is anything but a waste of money, I hope they break out the gin, get stoned, get depressed, and write better songs for their next effort.

Oh, and someone tell Robin Wilson he’s starting to sound really nasal.

Track List:
1. Learning The Hard Way
2. Come On Hard
3. Someday Soon
4. Heart Shaped Locket
5. The End Of The World
6. Long Time Gone
7. Super Girl
8. Let's Play Two
9. Curious Thing
10. Jet Black Sunrise
11. Fool For The Taking
12. California Sun
log on to: for a free stream of the tracks on Major Lodge Victory...

The Canine Mafia in our House, Part 1 (The Epileptic Cat)

Meet Chiqui. He's a yellow cat. He's epileptic. He has seizures, shits and pisses while he does. Seems to be in a ton of pain, but eats like there's no tomorrow. In his case, you're never sure about tomorrow anyway.

Meet Jennifer. She's a toy poodle. She's really cute and knows how to use it. But both literally and figuratively, she's a bitch. Jennifer's the reason Chiqui is an epileptic.

See, Chiqui was a nice healthy cat who just slinked into the house one quiet weekend. He was absolutely inoffensive. Looked healthy and clean, and he looked like he felt right at home.

And then Jennifer saw him.

Jennifer (in the photo) knows that she's one of the most adorable things on the goddamned planet, and that we love her to pieces. This is probably why she is what she is. But long ago, she was just playful. very playful.

So playful she practically turned that poor little kitten into her own personal soccer ball. We thought it was okay. Until one day not too long after, Chiqui started to have seizures. The vets and we are thinking that his brain got royally rocked and thus, led to his epilepsy.

(to be continued...)

quotable #1

"We usually gather new friends to help us do new things in our lives, but we keep and treasure the old ones to hold us back from doing new STUPID things."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

the wager...

yesterday i got into a wager.
a wager i put upon myself after mike's comments about how unwittingly insulting i can be. (who's mike? he's one of the few people i really trust in that now-quiet zoo i call an office...).
i wagered that i can resist making an insult to anyone who works there. should i make an insult of any sort, i am fated to buy pizza for the crowd.
it was sad how many noted that me without my insults seemed so... UN-ME.
i suppose i got into it to try and see if there really was some other relatively interesting manifestation of me apart from the guy who spat out sarcastic comments and (occasionally) funny insults at those around him. yesterday, i was mostly quiet...
today, i found another facet i can exploit and still have some fun with my life... i found that i had fun exploiting my own conceit.
damn, i'm good.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Delayed Book Review: It's a Bird"

The Delayed Book Review (# 1, 11/03/07)

Seagle’s “It’s A Bird” Soars

Writer: Steven Seagle

I just finished a graphic novel I just bought out of some odd sense of pity on a rather poorly performing branch of the undisputedly largest bookstore chain in the country. (Sometime soon I may get to talk about that. But for now, I’ll talk about my new book.)

I gave myself a budget of a thousand bucks for something new to read. Something that I felt wouldn’t feel like work soon enough through a chapter or two. An obvious choice was a graphic novel, which my wife quite plainly (and in a rather pedestrian manner) refers to as simply a “slightly thicker comic book”. Potato, potahto… Oh look, I found a graphic novel that is supposedly Superman related, but doesn’t have him on the cover. And if the reviews on the back cover were to be believed, this book wasn’t going to be made of your regular pulp. So off I was to the cash registers…

With my wife pregnant into her first trimester and either craving for food or dozing off, I found myself a nice little “dozing off” moment where I kick my shoes off and stretch myself out on the couch to engage myself in my new “slightly thicker comic book”. She was off dreaming, and I had time to read.

One of the first things I noticed was the rather rushed and haphazardly painted art. Rather sloppily done watercolors by some guy I’m not talking about on this piece. But hey, I read the reviews on the back cover and I told myself that this ought to be good. All things considered though, the art was serviceable and from time to time, seemed just right for the job, and fit the story.

I’ve seen Steven Seagle’s name on some other piece of printed matter which escapes me. And with the phone lines down right now, I don’t have any internet connection with which to cheat and pretend that I am a well-researched writer. So I will sit here and simply admit to having seen the author’s name somewhere and hoping that perhaps I remember where before I finish this.

I imagine that Mr. Seagle was offered a chance to write something for Superman and found his brains in an initial snag. He resorts to a rather common literary device wherein the writer writes about a writer who is writing what he is supposedly writing. If that doesn’t make sense, look it up. Like I said, I currently don’t have an internet connection and cannot pretend to be a learned literary person who can identify the different figures of speech. Big deal.

But lo and behold, Seagle doesn’t turn this thing into a farce. But instead points out everything he finds absolutely ludicrous about Superman, and juxtaposes all of them with a rare hereditary disease, along with the rest of the humble qualities of humanity. The result is probably the very first “Superman” book in a long while that I actually enjoyed and I didn’t feel insulted my feeble intelligence. Sorry, purists… the Justice League doesn’t count. I don’t care what the writers say. Superman may be the center of a lot of those stories, but it was everyone else that made it interesting. Superman vs. Batman? Batman, hands down. Ever since I was four years old. I guess that even as a kid, I always believed that getting things the hard way was the only way to get them for them to be worth it to me. Batman may have had his gazillions, but I’m sure it wasn’t easy standing up to light-wielding inter-galactic policemen, amazon princesses, or smart-asses who can circle the globe before you finish taking a piss.

It’s amazing how Seagle makes the simple fact of being healthy and walking about a super power in itself, and that humanity as itself at its best is anything but feeble. Seagle also uses the prospect of Huntington’s disease as a great springboard to release a lot of angst against the prospect of having to deal with a character, who for all intents and purposes cannot realistically have a problem. At least not in the way that we define problems.

I’ve blabbered quite lengthily to many people who cared to listen (at first, anyways… they tired sooner than I’d hoped.) that Superman didn’t deserve his own book. Superman was for me a character that flew by in the background carrying a car wreck and its passengers to safety, or rushing some old lady to the grocery store, or even saving a cat or something… Superman was designed to be god-like. Any writer worth his salt (like Seagle) knows that the whole kryptonite thingie is way too manufactured. I echo Seagle’s assumption that Kryptonite was a last-ditch attempt at making Supes interesting somehow by making him vulnerable something. Anything. Not working, if you asked me. So back to “god-like”… Who wants to read about the weaknesses of Clark Kent? All of which involves dorkiness and little more. If you want to make the prospect of Clark Kent and his attempts at humanity interesting, then I suggest you try to find yourself a copy of Larry Niven’s essay “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex”.

Check out the family Bible, dear reader. God is everywhere, He makes or breaks the characters and usually finishes up the stories rather conveniently with just a lightning bolt or something, but God is seldom the lead character. And I reckon the same should be for Superman. But that could be just me. I am a devout Catholic and absolutely God-fearing, but while I believe in God and know I piss Him off from time to time and am always aware that I shouldn’t, I don’t want to read about Him too much. I’d much rather read about the ark, the snake, or that unlimited supply of fish from Jesus Christ.

Seagle nonetheless finishes off the book with a rightfully subtle resolution, where a family comes together to face their undeniable humanity and the weaknesses that come with it. All the while, reminding us all that life may have hitches, but all in all, life in itself is a gift not to be wasted mulling and skulking about over our limits, mentally or physically.

(Woe is me. The book was first published last 2004. Somebody help me name that rock I’ve been hiding under…)

10:40pm 11/03/07

statcounter... wow, this is new...

as of now, i am officially a tech idiot...

somehow i've always fancied myself as a techie of sorts. even to the extent of having accepted product review jobs (for free) just to level up my co-called techie mojos...

and while surfing around, i found a blog that has something called statcounter... "oh look...," i thought. "now i can find out how much of a loser i am by finding out that no one else in the hot dang world logs on to my so-called blog..."

consequently however, this same technology also apparently tracks me and where i may or may not cyber-stalk...

uhm... more on that later...

Friday, December 07, 2007

baby somersaults

the wife and i went to the OB-Gyne today... we were hoping for the usual ultrasound thingie with the thermal print and all... but we were told that the only thing required for the moment was a doppler audio thingie instead...

today's objective was to try and check for some baby heartbeats. but that doppler machine thingie that seems to work like some amplified stethoscope kept getting static from the baby's supposed restlessness...

i kind of imagined that he/she (the baby) was giving us the finger, while screaming out that we won't get him... (or her)....

i came out happy that the wife was happy, but felt like i still wanted my little thermal print... nonetheless, we're heading back in a couple of weeks for that...

hope to see him (or her)...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Maverick Maverick Maverick... what am I to do with you?

Maverick will live. That much is an undeniable truth. Maverick will stay alive in whatever form as long as I want it to.

The question now is: do I still want it in this form?

I find myself being weighed upon by some sense of responsibility to a handful of people still in the house who seriously need the jobs for their survival, and through it all I am crushed by the empty echoes of laughter that was in these walls that grow ever colder.

Maverick will live. But Maverick will always be me. Telling myself that Maverick has outgrown me and will thrive in my absence is a cruel joke that even I do not find funny.

Well, here I am. I’m not going anywhere. But it’s time for some serious rehab…

Sunday, December 02, 2007

almost there...

i personally find it just a tad pathetic that from time to time i will fill in a blog entry just to document my development on the workings of this thing...

ironically enough, while i question the current legitimacy and ultimate effectivity of a web-log or "blog" due to its oversaturation on the web, i find myself drawn to it. somehow, with blogs and other forms of free self-expression, the world seems a slightly more introspective place. a tad quieter. it's like there's not really much of a need to scream when you've shouted out online...

but before i get myself to more shouting, i find myself studying quite intently on how to be found online. for a blog that can't be found and read by anyone, will be like sending out messages in bottles that will ultimately sink to the bottom of the ocean...

let's see if this post actually floats out somehow...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

i want to pay my taxes...

I want to pay my taxes,

...because I want to be a responsible citizen.
...because I want to help subsidize housing projects for the poor, who sleep on the streets.
...because I believe there are honest and hard-working government people who are underpaid.
...because I know that the government needs to fund public hospitals
...because there are public schools out there that need books, chairs, tables and sometimes even roofs.
...because this country is poor and everybody should chip in.
...because as a business owner i am obligated to.
...because I don't really have a choice.
...because it is something that has been done since time immemorial.

i don't want to pay my taxes:
...because the government people are not responsible with our country's money. tax money is being used to subsidize the mansions of corrupt government officials, who usually have more than one house, more than one woman, which ergo requires more than one house, and so on...
...because the number of corrupt government people who misuse the money far outnumber the good apples who work in the government for a pittance.
...because I see very few public hospitals that actually look like they can treat patients and are being properly funded.
...because our government officials send their children to the best and most expensive schools, sometimes even abroad, talk a lot of about the public education programs that never happen, and they are probably using our tax money.
...because this country is poor, while our government people get richer by the day. what's wrong with this picture?!?
...because less than half of what i pay the Bureau of Internal Revenue actually gets into the government's coffers. the rest probably went to the two-toned Rolex the tax officials were wearing when i met them.
...because I am a dreamer, but do not have a choice anyways.
...because of so many reasons, i may have to make a new post.

Monday, February 26, 2007

where'd all the money go?

the above question is rhetorical. i am supposedly asking about the gazillions of pesos the Philippine government put in funding for equipment that will supposedly automate the election process here in these parts last 2004.

reality check, folks. it's 2007. the money is only mentioned in hushed tones with shaking heads.


that money could've done a lot of things for the countrysides. that money could've built 100 health clinics, or hand over a year's worth of minimum wage to over ten million people.

but no, it's all for naught. no one is even sure if all the hardware bought back then can still be accounted for. not that it'll be of any use since they're all obsolete by now.

okay, so something went wrong and it couldn't be applied. and that's it?!? no one is currently being held accountable. but someone has to pay.

the government complains about low revenues, but that's probably low because of how they waste money left, right, front and center. we will pay taxes with hard-earned money, where we will spend 15 minutes just to earn a few more hundred pesos on any given day. and they lose 1.3 billion pesos just like that. heaven only knows how much the kickbacks were.

the government loses a lot of money because they have way too many idiots in there. and no, i didn't vote for them. i don't vote. not since renato de villa and oscar orbos ran their ticket and gave us the last truly honorable options. i mean, why vote when all you have to choose from are idiots, pretenders and people too smart to take the government seriously? okay, there are still a few good eggs in there. but they are painfully outnumbered.

elections are but a couple of months away and the vaudeville is in high gear. grab some popcorn, sit back and enjoy the show. that's all it's good for anyway.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

the police and chemistry

i am a Sting fan. pretentious and pompous ass that he may be, i am a fan. i am a fan of intelligent, eloquent songwriting and elaborately experimental instrumentation. so yes, i am a fan of the Gordon Sumner, a.k.a. Sting.

but let me tell you something interesting. Sting, in all his supposed greatness and sense of purpose has never reached the charts' top spot. he has never had a billboard number one song alone. the first and last time a number one song was billed with the name "Sting" was the group effort "All for Love", with Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart way back in 1993. The biggest chart climber he has had is probably "All This Time" from his grim and atmospheric "Soul Cages" album from 1991 dedicated to his late father. "All This Time" hit number one (as some might argue), but only on the Modern Rock charts. not exactly the cross-format charts that truly merit the greatness he has always been worthy of.

Sting represents for me a classic example of a band leader who does everything that matters on paper: he wrote the biggest songs, he is the official "voice" of the band as their main vocalist, the outspoken of the three, and is quite obviously the most charmismatic of them all. So why did he not hit the heights of his band considering his more than pivotal roles in it? couldn't he have just picked up from where he left off? Keep writing good songs (which he did), keep singing (which he did), keep being outspoken (which he still is), and... everything else... So why DIDN'T he hit the heights of his Police days?

the answer is CHEMISTRY. sometimes, even if one has all the ingredients one supposedly needs, one would still need that melding of energy that brings the best ideas to life. sort of like that jolt of electricity one needs to restart a brain.

the band split up due to ego disputes. particularly between the erstwhile leader steward copeland, who formed the band in the first place, and of course, sting, arguably the most powerful creative force and personality within the band, who eventual emerged as the leader as far as the public was concerned.

thing is, the chemistry and creative balance accorded by the rest of band helped bring Sting's ideas to a level he couldn't do alone. he had all the so-called"raw material", but the band gave him the kitchen that cooked everything to perfection. This applies to every other endeavor in almost any industry.

in hindsight, having had the business partners i did way back, i was able to engage in a lot of other things creatively speaking, while other tasks were handled and led by partners who gave more time and energy to them. And yes, we did well. Well enough for me to think that i didn't need them. i was wrong.

i didn't need them to survive, that much i can say is true. but to fly to the heights that we did back then, i needed them then. and if only ego allowed, i needed them still.

but much time has passed. and unlike Sting, there are no Grammy Awards and no passionate fans clammoring for our reunion. the egos remain, too.

and i suppose i need my ego more.

making a job not feel like a job...

The answer to the above title is very easy: find something you like doing, and try to see if you can turn it into a nice living.

But how does that translate to the people around you?
last Friday, I had a photoshoot at the studio of Raymund Isaac. The man needs no introduction, and to do so would not only be an insult to him, but would do him a grave injustice.

He is known by many for his stock in trade, which is fashion and celebrity photography. but while his photos really do speak for themslves. the experience of working with the generous creative genius that is raymund isaac is a reward on its own. i will site this man as an example, as this is an entry not to particularly gush about raymund, but to discuss what his work attitude stands for.

Let's start with the fees. okay, so he ain't cheap. nowadays, with the advent of digital photography, wannabes are all over the place (yours truly sometimes included). now what separates the men from the boys or course are a lot of technical stuff, from lighting, to focus, to timing, angles, and a bunch of other stuff that i don't even want to begin pretending i have an idea about... but i digress... so Raymund ain't cheap. you can and will easily find another so-called photography who probably even has better equipment that Raymund, who will probably charge you a quarter of Raymund charges. but there are trade-offs. a lot of them.

Firstly, i consider among my job descriptions art direction. particularly photography art direction since i will end up taking the photos in and adapting them into all sorts of things from ads, to point of sale materials, to posters and stuff. so being there during a shoot and giving my 5 cents worth from time to time really does help in making my job easier in the long run. now working with just any photographer will probably turn in technically decent images, but with almost no creative energy in it. there is an x-factor that will be noticeable. so you pay for raymund's time, but more than that, you pay for his energy that really comes across. it's even there when you look at the photos a couple of years after.
and during the actual shoot, the flexibility of his process, the concern he has for the ultimate results, and for the client's needs almost makes you think he's underpaid. he even brought down articles of clothing from his very own wardrobe (no closets for this man) to help find better outfits for the models. all with no pretense, no ego, and even with just the right sprinkling of humor.

So you have agreed on what the shoot lay-outs will be, but this guy will always do you one better and improvise as he goes along. oftentimes resulting in even better shots.
point of the matter is that he embodied customer service and creative professionalism. honestly, the first talent was ready and raring to go by one o'clock, although the actual shoot started at around 2:30pm. raymund apparently had meetings with the staff that he had to attend (it was Friday, after all). that was the only "bad" part of the whole thing. but over all, the results were spectacular, the clients were happy, and the day ended very well. i felt that i did a lot of work, but raymund didn't make it feel like a job.

How do YOU serve your customers?