Dunkirk, Paraluman, etc.



My boss, hip and feisty and German, told me to try visiting this tiny movie theater close to work. “It’s indie,” she said. “You’ll love it.”

Dunkirk + onomatopoeic musings

I watched Dunkirk. Not indie, no, but I only paid 3 bucks. The film’s main character, I believe, is the specter of survival — or am I reaching too far? There should be similar instances in fiction in which a non-character is the character. Ray Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains” comes to mind because its main character, the entity around which the conflict revolves, is the setting. But I could be wrong. Hmmm. Ay ambot.

El Bimbo

I admit, shamefully, that I’ve never read Adam David’s The El Bimbo Variations until a few weeks ago. It’s a collection of avant-garde poetry with Oulipo influences that feature the Eraserheads — all cool “counterculture” shitbits that I proclaim to love.

David writes different versions of Ang Huling El Bimbo’s first lines, “kamukha mo si Paraluman / n’ung tayo ay bata pa.” I suggest you read the entire thing — brief and funny and overall astig — and here’s a sneak peek if you still need more prodding:

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New comics

I just bought a copy of Kristen Radtke’s Imagine Wanting Only This and Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba’s Daytripper. I knew about Daytripper because of Ip the Vertigo Fanboy, but Radtke’s Imagine was an impulse buy. The reviews are on the negative end, unfortunately, but I hope the story is at least tolerable and not agonizingly cheesy. Ang mahal din kasi, sayang.

Pakyu, Zadie

I stumbled upon this 2-part list on The Guardian about writers’ writing advice to other writers (daming write, right?). Not a big fan of rules and tips but I tripped over this line from Zadie Smith, possibly the most harrowing words to have resonated with me this week: “Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied.”

Hayayayay buhay. #

The featured image is a photo of Paraluman taken from Blast from the Past.

Lists and Awards!

Thank you for the award, Thea!

1. What is your advice for someone who had a friendship break-up?

Surround yourself with homies who inspire you to be a better person. It’s easier to move forward when you realize that the people you’re leaving behind are not worth the stress and the drama.

Continue reading “Lists and Awards!”

Korean Indie


I initially intended this post to be a long-ish kuda on Korean Pop, a cultural phenomenon that kids with arthouse tastes and oh-so-high brow sensibilities are wont to scoff at. My bedside reading last night, pretentious as this may sound, was K-Pop — The International Rise of the Korean Music Industry, and Inkyu Kang’s investigation on the political economy of the idol industry was one of the most interesting—and interestingly Marxist—articles I have encountered recently.

But I easily get distracted. I go on a click-trip and open tabs and tabs of resources until I end up losing track of what I set out to do in the first place. I have read some of Naya Valdellon’s poetry, agreed to Sid Lowe’s detailed analysis of the Neymar transfer saga, and rolled my eyes at a Google engineer’s anti-diversity manifesto — all while trying to write an evidence-based pagmamarunong on the allure of charming boys and girls with bleached hair and poreless skin.

So screw K-Pop for now and let’s settle with a list of old indie favorites instead. I used to listen to these songs tirelessly, especially during the early half of the decade when I was at my most pa-cool. I never truly gained the cool cred though so while these songs may not be as popular, my pedestrian taste believes they still belong to the poppier side of the music spectrum.

It’s You – Neon Bunny

– Lucite Tokki

  – Donawhale

Harmonica Sounds – Yozoh

Face You – Casker

The featured image is from Donawhale’s self-titled album released in 2007 under Pastel Music, the music label that houses all of these artists except Neon Bunny.

Sa ngalan ng pangalan

Burgis na kayabangan siguro itong maituturing pero hindi ba’t ang jologs ng mga pangalang may silent “h” sa gitna? ‘Yung tipong Jhasmine o Bhea o Dhonalyn. Naku, isa pa ‘yang mga pangalang nagtatapos sa “lyn” o kaya—dios mio patawarin—lhyn.

Hindi naman ako tumatawa o nangangantyaw tuwing may nakikilala akong Jhonalyn o Gheralyn. May agarang panghuhusga lang na kumakalabit sa isip ko: siguro hindi sila mayaman.

Class-based, oo. Mukhang wala naman sa hinagap ng mga Sy at Zobel at Gokongwei na magdagdag ng silent “h” sa gitna ng pangalan. Khecelyn Zobel o Jhobert Elizalde—parang ang sarap sagutin ng, weh? 

Continue reading “Sa ngalan ng pangalan”

Review: Encantadia (2016) Pilot Episode

Let me preface this by saying that I will not contest Encantadia‘s effectiveness in entertaining its avid viewers. I understand that many people, especially local audiences, do not demand visual sophistication and narrative coherence in the movies and TV series they consume.

But when people say Encantadia’s visual effects are top-tier — please, don’t me. Filipinos have done better. Erik Matti comes to mind with Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles and even the 2005 movie Exodus: Tales from the Enchanted Kingdom. While having budget limitations is understandable, it’s time to recognize that these fake-looking dragons and tall castles in synthetically vibrant colors are just as backward as what we had in the early 90s.

It would have been better if the visual shortcomings were used in an attempt to create a campy tone. Encantadia, however, takes itself way too seriously. What’s worse is that even if we forego the cheap visual look, the series’ mythology itself stands on an even rockier foundation.

Cassiopeia guards a Brilyante that’s sought after by beings with evil intentions—who these people are, we don’t know. Why they want the Brilyante? They just do. Why are they evil? They just are. It’s like the writers are telling us: ‘wag kayong tanong nang tanong, matuwa na lang kayo!

In order to protect the Brilyante from said evildoers, Cassiopeia breaks up the jewel into four, each of them representing the classical elements earth, wind, air, and fire. The four jewels are then handed to the leaders of the four kingdoms of Adamya, Sapiro, Lireo, and Hathoria.

Why the four kingdoms? Who knew. Basta ganun.

The pilot episode is essentially an hour long exposition explaining the history of the four brilyante. It’s never made clear, however, what exactly the jewels do. They’re supposed to be powerful but even with the Brilyante ng Tubig, Adamya isn’t able to stop the Hathoria gang from barging in. Hathor king Avrak only has to say “akin na ‘yan” and boom, Imaw gives him the brilyante. And even when Avrak possesses two of four jewels and his kingdom is now the most powerful in the land, Cassiopeia easily teleports into his castle and kills his guards.

So, um, how exactly are these jewels powerful if anyone can just show up and kill your people?

It’s also annoying how Cassiopeia conveniently prophesies Avrak’s downfall. There’s no inclination that she’s clairvoyant but bam, apparently Hathoria would be defeated by a princess born on the same day Avrak dies. Later in the episode, Reyna Minea learns that she’s pregnant. A few more scenes and Minea prays to Emre who then fast-tracks the queen’s pregnancy. How convenient that Minea is about to give birth sooner than later! Deus ex machina, am I right?

Employing major tweaks in the narrative just for the story’s convenience is honestly terrible storytelling. The script even violates the sacred “show don’t tell” rule. After Adhara defeats Amihan in a battle, the former holds a gem in her hand and shouts, “Para sa paghahanda sa laban namin ni Minea!” She is not speaking to anyone at all; she just has to say the sentence aloud because the writers were too lazy to actually portray her motivations instead of reducing it to one line.

The characters are one dimensional as expected. The queen is the loving, motherly leader. The soldier generals are willing to die for their kingdoms. The evil lords are just evil for evil’s sake. Nothing fancy, just cardboard archetypes with no depth whatsoever.

Was the episode entertaining? It might be for people who only have three TV channels for options.

I, however, feel slighted for being a victim of a good build-up. I came in expecting a carefully planned mythology and a script that at least attempts to create compelling characters and deliver clever dialogs. What I got — and I say this with a deep sigh of disappointment — was an episode that is frankly a demo piece for a terribly written short fiction.

Review: Encantadia (2016) Teaser Trailer

I chanced upon this much-hyped trailer for GMA Network’s latest fantaserye Encantadia, a retelling-sequel or “re-quel” of the 2005 series that heavily borrowed themes from Philippine mythologies and foreign mythical epics, most notably that of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

The comparisons with the Tolkien epic came at a time when the LOTR trilogy was really popular, but this isn’t to say that the parallelisms were baseless. Instead of the Rings of Power, Encantadia has four brilyante or jewels that are integral in maintaining peace in the kingdom. There are also four main “races” similar to the peoples of Middle Earth and the enemy kingdom Hathoria bears an uncanny resemblance to Mordor.

But Encantadia still went on to become a commercial and critical success during its 2005 run. It was followed by a prequel and two sequels and now, in a few more weeks, we get to have another version of the original series.

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 1.35.25 AM

The teaser opens with silhouettes of the four sang’gre walking towards the camera in full battle gear. The first few frames show that these ladies are bad-ass warriors; they defy the helpless princess trope seen in typically androcentric tales that involve throne wars and royal crowns.

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On Badjao girl, free slippers, and other superficial sympathies

Original photo by Topher Quinto Burgos | Source

We see a photograph of a scene basked in gold sunlight — and right in the foreground, a girl. She wears a faded pink shirt and slung around her left shoulder is a worn grey cloth tied tightly in a knot. Her eyes are dark and her hair has tinges of brown as golden as her skin.

The picture would be shared several thousand times in social media. A few more days and the girl would star in her own photo shoot. She would be in the news and in lifestyle programs. A politician’s wife would reportedly grant her a scholarship during a show known for handing out libreng tsinelas. And of course we, the audience, would feel elated for the pretty lass.

Continue reading “On Badjao girl, free slippers, and other superficial sympathies”