Saturday, August 29, 2009

Letters to Prez Glow (#3) TRAPIK IN BAG-YO! CEE-TEY...

Dear Mrs. President Gloria...

You cost me an extra 25 minutes of road time today. When I’m in Manila, an additional half an hour on the road is nothing. But it is quite surprising when I am at Baguio City attending to my matters on this wide of the highway.
It normally only takes me 10 minutes to get to work.

But today was apparently extra special. After practically crawling part of my way to the store, I was told by some lady sari-sari store shopkeeper that “andyan ata si GMA (your initials, my dear)... may hinarangan na daan, kaya trapik...” i felt so bad for you, because she had a scowl on her face when she said your name.

It almost seemed like she said other names and words like “demonita,” “satanas,” or simply “kupal.” She scowled, Madame President. I almost wanted to hit her for you. And i will tell her that i hit her for you, and i will pay her good money to hit you back in return.

I was going to do it for you, remember?

Anyways, i am writing to you now because i am sad. Sad for you.

After the throngs of people pouring their hearts out for the late, great President Cory Aquino during the time of her wake, i was saddened to see that there were no people on the streets waiting for you. Of course, there were probably a few who thought of hiding behind some bushes with shotguns in hand just waiting for you, but that’s another story.

Maybe i’ve seen too much TV or too many movies, or too much international news on channels like BBC or CNN, where they show throngs of people lined up in the streets to greet they leaders, or in some poorer countries, to ask for help and some attention. I’ve probably seen too much of those, and have been falsely convinced that those are actually true.

See, the only people i saw on the streets this morning were people gallantly hoofing their way to work, simply because their “beloved” president’s security detail had a few major roads blocked for security.

No throngs of people waiting to greet or simply to pay respects to you, our dear president. Nada. No one. Well, expect probably those people in city hall, where you were going. They HAVE to anyways...

No throngs of people lined up to ask the president to see their plight and possibly ask for some help and attention... No. They’re probably afraid of getting hurt by your security force, MADAME PRESIDENT. Besides, they probably already feel that they cannot get an iota of sympathy from a president who can live like a queen, when her subjects are feasting on shit like UFC Sarsarap.

The welcome streamer hung almost forlornly at the entrance of the Baguio City Hall, since no one was excited enough to see you to hang out by the door. Except maybe the smokers.
But welcome to Baguio City, Prez Glow... I hope you take helicopter going home... under thick, heavy fog.

Nagmamahal at nagpapaalam...

Nalumbay sa Daan

Friday, August 21, 2009

Double Review: The Time Traveler’s Wife ('Time' for a Divorce...)

It all started with a nice premise written on the back of the paperback my friend Odi Rufino showed me not too long ago...

Something about time-travelling man flashes girl, then meets girl, and keeps meeting girl until she’s barely legal enough to boff. Then they boff. Naturally, they don’t live happily ever after. Sort of...

* * * * *

"...['time traveller] isn’t unenjoyable. As long as you take everything at face value..."

The Book

Author Audrey Niffenegger (try saying those three words fast ten times...) has admitted somewhere online that the premise of “The Time Traveller’s Wife” started with a few paradoxical key scenes that i’m guessing she probably thought were cute. Then i’m guessing she figured out a way to string them together into a somewhat hodgepodge excuse for a novel.
And it shows.

I would be first in line to admit that Niffenegger has a gift for assembling very interesting/amusing little character encounters. Get two supposedly attractive sex-starved characters, throw in a slight sci-fi twist, and a sprinkling of déjà vu, and voila... steamy, and sometimes curiously intelligent little vignettes from an otherwise convoluted storyline.

But the thing about the “Time Traveller’s Wife” is that it isn’t unenjoyable. As long as you take everything at face value, allow yourself to get swept up in the emotional vignettes and assume that Einstein is out there somewhere trying to cover the plot holes as a personal favour to you.

Honestly not “must-reading,” but not a total waste of time.

* * * * *

The Movie

Oooooooooookay... the first thing i must get off my chest is that it was a mistake to go see the movie the very day after i finish the book.

With the book still fresh in my head, it was hard for me to just take the movie for what it was without comparing it to the book as most book-readers are wont to do. And while the movie tried to be as faithful to the book as possible, it had to shoehorn a few explanations into the script just to try and enlighten the audience on how mixed up the story really was. That made for more than a few hokey scenes, and some unrealistic dialogue.

The casting of Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams as Henry and Clare was pretty spot-on, the same goes with the character of Charisse in the person of Jane McLean, but Ron Livingston as Gomez sort of missed the mark for me.

Like the book, a few scenes were nicely executed, but ultimately felt like a mere video synopsis of the book. And a lot of the emotion in the book was either forced or was totally absent altogether.

An honest effort, but in my personal opinion, a failure.

* * * * *

Everyone who picks up a novel will always say that the book is/was better. Partly because a book is almost always written with the knowledge that whoever has the brains and fortitude to actually a whole effing book without pictures has got to be smart enough to understand multi-layered plot-points, characterizations, and obligatory sub-plots.

And of course, people who’ve reduced their social lives to whatever’s available online need people to know that they put their hermit time to good use by boasting that the “book is better.” Just to spite your non-book-reading ass and tell you indirectly that “i am smarter than you, because i read a thick book without pictures...”

But yes, the book was more satisfying. And yes, i AM smarter than you...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Letters to Prez Glow (#2) FLYING THE FIENDLY SKIES

Dear Prez-Glow...

Happy weekend to you po, Prez... do you any plans for tonight? Any million-Peso Saturday night parties you might be planning on throwing? In case you do, and you need more guests, please let me know. Out next door neighbour in Quezon City is a taco shell factory, and they have thousands of cockroaches who can keep you company.

You and them aren’t too different po, ma’am. Like you, they can survive anything, and still manage to multiply. I’m sure you guys can find a lot of things to chat about po.
But that’s not the real reason i write to you now.

I am writing to apologize for my previous letter, where I was shooting at you about those made-for-tv-news-dinners you had in the States. Seriously... to quote a little piece of shit with a mole on her face that i saw on TV around four years ago: “I... AM... SORRY...”

I am so fucking sorry, because the couple of million pesos you spent for your meals is fucking peanuts compared to the 1.6 billion peso over-expense you incurred with your foreign trips. A couple of million bucks is NOTHING. NOTHING, I tell you...

And even better, you got a lot of that from the National Contingency Fund. I’m sure that your foreign trips are a form of national emergency that needs a billion bucks worth of taxpayers’ money. I’m sure that your foreign trips are more important than putting up health centers in various depressed provinces, or subsidizing agriculture or various other industries, or some honest-to-goodness housing projects that don’t make houses big enough for a Doberman.
I’m sure you went abroad to build goodwill (to cover up all the shit you’re doing back home), and to woo investors into the country (so that you will have more cows to milk). It’s all for the good of the economy (especially your family’s private economy).

I therefore conclude that whoever came up with the initial P1.1 billion travel budget for you was an absolute idiot. And no, I will defend you tooth and nail if anyone says that you are a bigger idiot for approving that budget since it is painfully obvious that it wasn’t nearly enough.
I will defend you po. I will defend you like I do the cockroaches in our next door factory neighbour.

I will defend you, because I personally want you to have put aside enough money FROM THE GOVERNMENT, AND GOVERNMENT-RELATED SCAMS to have as many trips abroad as you want, that you may consider not coming back again. Ever.

And maybe you will love leaving the country so much that you will finally, really, truthfully, step down on 2010. I hear the weather in Africa is pretty warm. Please visit THAT place more often, since you will need to get used to the heat that you will eventually suffer in hell.

Again po, to quote the short, slimy character with the nasal voice AND A MOLE TO THE LEFT OF THE NOSE: “I... AM... SORRY...”

Nagmamahal at nagpapaalam...

Death by Adobo

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Letters to Prez Glow (#1) WHAT'S FOR DINNER?

Dear Prez-Glow...

How ya doin’ lately?

I assume that by this time, you’ve already managed to shit out the lobster and caviar you guys gorged upon in New York and Washington. I hope you had a bad bellyache, and i hope shitting all that out was painful.

As you know by now, your countrymen are up in arms after hearing about your lavishly extravagant dinners. We really should shut up about those things. After all, you may only seem human to a few, but you do have to eat, right? All this fuss really isn’t necessary, right? I mean, a congressman paid for one of those dinners, right? Not the government, right?

But wait... where did the congressman get the money? I’m sure he didn’t get it from the pork barrels, right? I mean, he wouldn’t dream of doing that, right? He must have other businesses that enabled him to afford blowing A MILLION PESOS ON ONE SINGLE DINNER, right? He will be audited for his expenses as congressman, right?

So it wasn’t you. You really shouldn’t get the blame.

I’m sure $500 for a bottle of wine is perfectly normal. After all, you are the PRESIDENT OF A COUNTRY WITH TERRIBLY POOR PEOPLE, and all the helpless citizens DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO COMPLAIN about you needing to eat... caviar.

I feel so sorry for you... NOT.

But see here... for the past couple or so years, you have been having a terrible PR nightmare. NOBODY LIKES YOU, UNLESS THEY ARE BENEFITTING FROM YOU IN VERY CORRUPT WAYS. And with many people suffering from an awful quality of living all over the country, how did you expect them to react after finding out about you blowing all that money on dinner alone?
Maybe you’re too busy to see the people who are passing the days and filling their sad bellies with rice topped off by salt, or those deceiving themselves that they are having a good meal with shitty stuff like UFC Sarsarap, which costs a mere five pesos per sachet. And yes, you are after all in the States WITH 65 PEOPLE IN YOUR ENTOURAGE. So all that money for dinner is justified, right? And yes, one MUST have lobster, caviar and $500per bottle wine. One cannot survive on a simple pork chop and coke. Or even a little barbequed spare rib... Lobster is a definite must. Yes, indeed.

Oh, and caviar. One must not forget the caviar. Definitely an indispensible part of a presidential diet.

But please remember that YOU ARE THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES. A country of poor people. Many of whom are hungry and cannot afford proper healthcare. At the very least, you must be more discreet about what you do. YOU ARE THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES. THE PRESIDENT. An ELECTED president (supposedly). So whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you fucking wear, whatever you fucking spend, is everybody’s business.

You want privacy? Then just step down. Get out of Malacañang and stop beautifying the economy reports with some accounting magic, and look closer at your people.

At least I can rest easy knowing that if a dozen minimum wage workers don’t spend a single centavo, and put together the money they’ve earned for the entire year, they can finally afford the meals you spent for in the States.

Why must you bother with all the hard work in desperately trying to extend your term? Don’t you want to blow a million bucks for dinner in private?

Think about it.

I must end this first letter right now, because I must go enjoy my simple lunch of tofu, adobo, and sautéed string beans, while imagining how the tofu will miraculously transform into a lobster. Thank you.

Nagmamahal at nagpapaalam...

Death by Adobo

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Bored Prince

We saw “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” Whoopee... there wasn’t much else to see anyways, and the screening time of “Public Enemies” was oddly late. So “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” it was...

I also had this little light bulb in my head for a spoof movie called “Horny Pot-Heads and the Half-Sized President”...

First thing I need to get off my chest is that while I am not a true Harry and Hogwarts fan, I have always admired the level of imagination that author J.K. Rowling has put into the series. I have never read any of the books, and though I have never found myself queuing on “Potter” movies’ first few nights, I have always felt compelled to at least know the on-goings of the tales.
Somehow, I believe Harry Potter is this generation’s Luke Skywalker, and has become indelible in popular culture regardless of the supposed over-exposure. Could be a source of creative ideas for ads in the near future...

So, on to the movie we went...

"...I believe Harry Potter is this generation’s Luke Skywalker, and has become indelible in popular culture regardless of the supposed over-exposure..."

Somewhere through the third movie, my amusement at the floating candles, concept of high-speed quiddich games, animated photographs on print and other visual nuances of the Potter-verse thinned out and vanished. And being someone who never treated previous Potter movies like biology class frogs that I had to dissect for absolutely no reason at all than being a sado-masochistic geek, I found “Half Blood Prince” to be quite weighted upon by the series’ history.
Funnily enough, the one biggest event of note in “Half-Blood Prince” was a major character’s death. And it wasn’t even done in a mega-neck-pain-inducing wand duel or all-out slug-fest. No, this was done in a quiet, confrontational “oh-look-he’s-dead-now” kind of way...

"...[Snape is] probably Rowling's favorite character, second only to Harry himself..."

By and large, one will also start to notice that with the exception of Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson (who is getting hotter by the minute), all these Brit kids are growing up rather unattractively.

Sufficient googling will render many spoilers as to the relevance of the enjoyable Alan Rickman’s Severius Snape. Besides, it was too freaking obvious from the start that Snape was not just your typical “bad guy.” He's probably Rowling's favorite character, second only to Harry himself...

Given that “Half-Blood Prince” is the penultimate chapter in the “Potter” saga, I suppose it was no surprise that the whole movie felt more like a set up for the finale rather than an actual story on its own merit. I’m sure fans loved it though...

As for me and the wife... we dutifully ate the pop corn, tried hard to not fall asleep at the movie, then dutifully went straight home to find a sleeping Margaret...

Yawn yawn yawn... ‘catch you later...