Sunday, February 29, 2004

This came out in the February 1996 issue of GLITTER Magazine.
In the cathedral at Lubek, Germany, near the turn of the century was the following inscription:

'Ye call me Master, and obey me not;
Ye call me Light, and seek me not;
Ye call me Way, and walk me not;
Ye call me Wise, and follow me not;
Ye call me Fair, and love me not;
Ye call me Rich, and ask me not;
Ye call me Eternal, and seek me not;
Ye call me Gracious, and trust me not;
Ye call me Noble, and serve me not;
Ye call me Mighty, and honor me not;
Ye call me Just, and fear me not;

If I condemn you, blame me not.'

Doesn't this make you stop and think?

Saturday, February 28, 2004

I had fun last night at the Siglo launch at the Glorietta 2 in Makati. I arrived sometime around 7:30 p.m. after racking my brain thinking where it was (the Mall was renovated and built one after the other around a decade ago hence the sequence). After I found the exhibit I called my friend Jorge on his phone to describe where the exact location was. He told me to just text the directions since he was playing badminton at the time along with his dad. After that I had to settle down and calm my nerves (the fanboy in me tends to shortcircuit in the presence of other greats). I saw Jac and Jonas getting food from the buffet table. Camy was also there. Another friend of mine, Vanessa called my attention and we had a little chat and another acquaintance of mine from the PinoyExchange.com message board was there too. Turns out that she's the niece of the organizer of the whole event (small world). All this time they were all pointing me to the buffet spread but I had to resist a bit since I was planning to have dinner with my guests after the event. Then Gerry saw me and we had a little chat ourselves before he excused himself to prepare before the artists were called onstage.

After that I got myself a hardbound copy of the book and some tasty morsels from the buffet. After I finished eating I made a bee line to the Siglo artists and writers to have my copy signed. First up was Carlo Vergara, then Jason Banico, Gerry (who also introduced me to his better half, Ilyn), Dean Alfar (who's also a barkada of my brother back in high school), Andrew Drilon (youngest among the bunch), Marco Dimaano, Vin Simbulan, Nikki Alfar (Dean's wife), and finally, Elbert Or (who kindfully lent his pen earlier). I forgot to have Carlo's sister sign my copy. Argh!

After completing the signatures, I went around and viewed the artworks. These were the ones up for auction with a starting bid of P400.00. With nothing more to do I took more of those delectable bangus something (I don't know what it's called) and mosied along to look at something else when I noticed the almost empty list of bidders on the registration table. An evil plan came to mind, I made a bid and the first page of Marco's Panay became mine!

Original art and the corresponding page in the book.

I got skittish when Marj (the one in charge of the auction) informed me that they already closed the auction (which means I was safe to bid whatever amount I want) and I could also pay them sometime next week for those pieces that I want. I went around the panel boards again and again looking for another piece to bid on. I gleefully pointed out those pages by Elbert and Gerry from Chinatown and San Dig respectively. In fact I wanted to get all of them! I got all crazy and let art collector side of me take over. While all these time I was thinking of the investment, it all boiled down to preserving what could be a huge landmark in modern Filipino comics. A little while later Jorge sent me a text message apologizing that he and his wife won't be able to make it. I shrugged this off and told him that it's okay and I'll see them next time. I went home happy as a clam thinking of those original art pieces I'll be picking up next Friday.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Local politicians continue to show their flair for comedy by continually shooting themselves on the foot with inane answers. Here are some nuggets from the Philippine Daily Inquirer's article, Can Poe's foes make a movie?:
• During the KNP's sortie in Binondo, Manila, senatorial candidate Ernesto Maceda said a debate was unnecessary because the actor could be interviewed, anyway. Noting the disbelieving looks on the reporter's faces, Maceda added: "When he's free. It's a matter of timing." (considering the fact that he's always surrounded by his "hawi boys" [bodyguards] and cordon sanitaire right now, I'm not sure when that timing will come.)

• Another senatorial candidate, Amina Rasul, said a public debate would be useful only to "unknowns" like herself. "But if you are a Fernando Poe Jr. who is loved by the people ... what for?"

• FPJ's running mate, Sen. Loren Legarda, would not be distracted: "Whether the debate pushes through or not, President Macapagal-Arroyo is responsible for all the country's woes."

• But Juan Ponce Enrile outdid them all: "Fernando Poe Jr. may not be (skilled in) the art of debating, but I challenge all the (other) contenders for the presidency if they can direct a movie (as Poe has done several times)." (insert canned laughter here.)
Steering a nation is like directing a movie, Enrile explained. "You must know what you're intending to do, visualizing all the way to the end."

Sen. Tito Sotto quoted the actor as saying: "Ang paghihirap ng bayan ay hindi pinagdedebatehan (the people's suffering is not debatable)."

All this plus the fact that the upcoming elections is turning out to be a battle of the rollercoaster surveys is not helping things any. Take my advice and forget the polls and surveys, check out what these candidates have to say about the present issues to help you decide.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

'Nuff said.
If I were to ask you in person to answer the question from the top of your head "Who's the coolest person for you?" what would you say? Let's exclude celebrities and other people who make entertainment their sole occupation for a while. Coolness entails a form of hero worship. Someone who achieves something you could only dream of doing is cool. Some who reached the heights you're aspiring is considered to be cool. Someone who's gifted with an incredible talent related to your field is cool. These are what I like to call Surface-level cool. They earned their slot in upper echelons of the coolness ladder because of something they did or inherited. The down side to this is that they have to constantly maintain their status to be included in this exclusive group. After all, one's only as good as their last work. How about those who stand up for what is right and speak their mind? How about those down-to-earth people who haven't changed inspite of their new found "demi-god" status? Or those "celebrity" folks who go out of their way to do something without asking for anything in return? These are the Deep-level cool. They have no fear of maintaining anything because it's not dependent on fads or trends and for the most part, it's already second nature to them. Besides, in the eyes of those who matter the most they've already graduated to the next level called Respectability. Still I'd like to find out what exactly defines the coolness level of one person. Is there an exact science to being cool? Or am I deluding myself because after all, like beauty, coolness is in the mind of the observer.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

I'm taking a temporary break from the current storyline and giving in to the requests of friends and relatives for me to do a strip related to politics. Besides the fact that today's the anniversary of the original EDSA People Power, I thought I'd do a social commentary on the people's reaction to the coming Presidential elections. For this strip I picked an inherently unique trait common to Filipinos—our tendency to laugh in the face of problems. I might do this again when election time draws near. Maybe I'll do some caricatures too. Maybe.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

A picture speaks a thousand words but this one left me speechless.

The parents of murdered Filipino-American financial analyst Maria Pilar Cruz cry out in indescribable pain after the funeral mass in New York's Greenwich Village. I can't really describe the sense of loss I also felt inside when I saw this picture this morning. Please remember them in your prayers, that they would find solace, comfort, and healing in the loving arms of God.

Related stories: 'Pipay embodied American Dream' / Dead New York banker’s kin demand justice

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Best friends Mike de Guzman and Stan Villanueva will be among those characters who will be making a guest appearance in the upcoming installments of West Side. The reason for the disparity in the style of the dialogue was that I had to erase the handwritten ones since it was already going beyond the panel lines. This was published around September 1995 in GLITTER Magazine.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Just came home from a visit to the hospital. An old friend of mine tried to end her life over some guy. She's been through a whole lot so I can't really blame her but that didn't stop me and some visiting friends from giving her some good natured ribbing. An ex-officemate was keeping her company when I arrived. She told us about this sorry excuse for a hospital in Makati City where she was first brought. How the emergency people gave her a lot of grief so they decided to transfer to Medical City. She was in high spirits playing rave tunes on the CD player beside her bed, eating cake and laughing along with us. She already got permission to be out of the hospital tomorrow and is planning to rest for some days somewhere up north for a few days. I also invited her and her friend to eat out and talk next week.
I knew I had a dream in two and a half parts last night but it was only the second dream that I remember now. The rain had just stopped and I walked over to the window overlooking our yard to find a raging river flowing from our bodega down through the wall parellel to my room. While watching the deluge I discerned some large fishes swimming towards a large hole on the wall right down below to my right. Some of these looked like silver or white pufferfish or something. I stepped down and saw some gray sharks swimming against the flow. There were turtles too. The first thing that came to mind that these were salt water animals so why were they swimming in freshwater? I took a peek at the large hole in the wall and saw the water flowed down a large hole in the ground an arm's length from where I was. The hole looked something like those holes you see in the streets whenever they start excavating. Instinctively, I knew the water flowed directly to the ocean so I found it very kooky for these fishies to pass by our house on their way to the briny deep.

The water began to subside after a while and I saw some mudskippers left here and there. I picked them up one by one and deposited them near the hole so they could join their cousins (judging from the size, they must be giants). On my third trip to the hole I was surprised to see them changed. Perched on the mound of mud beside the water, they're now sporting a body of a frog while retaining their own heads. I don't remember what the next dream was after this.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

4:28 p.m. at Glorietta Mall, Ayala Center.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

The Artists' Den met again last night after more than a month's worth of hiatus. Though we failed get down to business due to some unforeseen circumstances, we still managed to have ourselves a good time. It's great to see the others again after a long while, exchanging e-mails just doesn't quite cut it. Not like when you're facing each other, showing each other's works, and exchanging jokes. Also, you should take a stab at this Multiple Intelligence Test. Based on the original intelligence measurement French Psychologist Alfred Binet created in the early 1900s, you have to answer 84 questions at the end of which your intelligence will be evaluated depending on the choices you made, like so:
• Linguistic: 8
• Logical-Mathematical: 4
• Spatial: 9
• Bodily-Kinesthetic: 6
• Musical: 8
• Interpersonal: 7
• Intrapersonal: 10
A Short Definition of your Highest Score
Intrapersonal - the ability to assess one's own strengths, weaknesses, talents, and interests and use them to set goals, to understand oneself to be of service to others, to form and develop concepts and theories based on an examination of oneself, and to reflect on one's inner moods, intuitions, and temperament and to use them to create or express a personal view. Possible vocations that use the intrapersonal intelligence include planner, small business owner, psychologist, artist, religious leader, and writer.
The results were impressive and quite accurate (the summary of which means I'm a quiet person who smiles on the sly ). It's like a more defined version Quizilla minus the quirky pictures.
Comics as modern day parables? Why not? The idea has been percolating in my mind when I read one review of Robert L. Short's The Gospel According to Peanuts. Though for the longest time comic strips and books have been regarded with disdain as nothing more than a childish pastime, one cannot easily dismiss its educational value and influence over people's lives. Aside from printed books using comics to teach lessons, spread information or propaganda is nothing new. Consider these in light of some local facts outlined in Comics Facts & Quotes from Asia:
"Forty percent of Filipinos read a comic every day, and only 500,000 [less than one percent] read a newspaper." (From a communications professor at the University of the Philippines)

In the Philippines, just as in other countries with pronounced language differences between regions or ethnic groups, comics form one medium of communication that can boast of reaching every population group. The comics literature over half a century has reflected the changing position, tastes, and worldview of the Filipino masses. Today, the comic is unquestionably the most influential mass medium among the semi-literate Filipinos. (From "Komiks: The Filipino national literature" by Marcelo in Asian Culture magazine, 1980)

Comics are one of the most popular print media [in the Philippines] together with newspapers which tend to be used between 1 to 15 times a month. Exposure to comics is higher among younger persons and to a lesser extent, among never-married respondents, persons with higher education, and respondents who lived in houses judged to be in good state of repair. More affluent persons tend to devote slightly more time to reading of books and comics than do the less affluent. But reading assorted kinds of comic books does not differ substantially by socioeconomic status. However, the higher the level of education, the lower the preference for comics, as the best reading materials for entertainment. (From a study on Filipino reading habits by Institute of Philippine Culture, 1980)
As a literary contraption its a most effective tool in establishing or challenging paradigms. Especially since paradigms usually move from the "bottom-up" in a grass-roots way, we should always be conscious of the power of storytelling in the minds of the masses. Like filmmakers, comic creators traipse between the best of both worlds. Imagine having at your disposal the ability to combine the explosive power of storytelling and visual arts to create a mighty weapon that can influence people's lives upon impact. For this reason comic creators, like all storytellers, should be responsible to their audience by knowing what they're writing and why. While some stories are told for the purposes of entertainment, others should be told not for its own sake but to get a message across. Such is the responsibility of the comic creator and therein lies the heart and immortality of all well loved stories.

Recommended reading: The Power of Art In Society by Deborah Dague-Barr.

Friday, February 20, 2004

These were taken last night at the Powerplant Mall at the Rockwell Center. The first one on top was shot using my phone (wonder if I already made a sale with all these endorsements ). The second one's taken using the digicam I bought using the no-flash Museum Mode. The sad fact here is that I haven't yet grasped the full capabilities of the second camera. What's more is I've been seeing these really great photography samples in deviantART like this, this, and this and I don't know where to start with the direction I want to take. But I'm hopeful that one day I'll be able to come up with a style that's all my own. Prolly a hybrid of cartoon and portrait photography like what I'm doing right now but much more defined or maybe something weirder but more beautiful. Can you imagine having yours done in this manner? That's something to look forward to. By the by, I also updated my phlog and I'd really appreciate it if you feel like leaving a comment or two.

The meeting last night with my high school batchmates went well. We settled some financial proposals for our eventual hosting of the alumni homecoming, plans for some summer outreaches, and then some. It was fun and we wrapped it up early compared to the meetings we had last year.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

I'm so exhausted these days. I haven't yet thought of what I'm going to do in the next strips. Well I do have an idea on what should be done but the question is if it's a good one. Another thing is the fact that I haven't been going out with any of my friends these past few days. My high school batchmates and me are going to have another meeting tonight at Rockwell regarding the upcoming 15th anniversary reunion at Fort Bonifacio. Still can't help but feel that these past days were particularly boring. We saw a couple of movies but they're so bad it's not even worth mentioning. I got a really nice Kenny Roger's Roasters tumbler left over from Valentine's Day when I ate my dinner there last night. Something to add to my growing tumbler collection I suppose. Have I already mentioned that I'm exhausted these days?

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

That's a Matrix-fu in panel two.

This storyline's taking much longer than I originally thought. Summer's already fast approaching and I still have to introduce four more characters into the strip. Another thing that's bothering me right now is the fact that I haven't uploaded anything new in my deviantART account. It's like I'm supposed to stretch myself further by training myself to create new pinups every week, but the ideas just won't fly. Darn artist's block.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Thought I'd give you guys a backgrounder on the new characters coming out in West Side starting with Joan and her confidante, Jessica. This was published around the start of summer 1994 in GLITTER Magazine.
Finding a woman sobbing because she has locked her keys in her car, a man assures her that he can help. She looks on amazed as he removes his trousers, rolls them into a tight ball and rubs them against the car door.

Magically it opens. "That's so clever," the woman gasps. "How did you do it?"

"Easy," replies the man. "These are my khaki trousers."

Copied from Reader's Digest's "Laughter, The Best Medicine."

Monday, February 16, 2004

I got to drive home today! This was my second attempt at driving (after last week in Antipolo) and after a lot of practice in making turns, accelerating, applying the brakes, and going over numerous humps our driver allowed me to take the main road back home. If I keep this up by the time my birthday comes around I'll be home free! A big hooray for me! In a bit of off-beat news, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo admits reading Filipino comics to correct her grammar. Chalk up another mark for better education through comics.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

"How do you intend to spread your message across?" asked Jac in between bites of her Japanese food. We were talking about my part in fulfilling the great commission as a Christian artist. Though I admit I'm not as vocal as most Christians are pictured out to be, I believe that in this day and age evangelism doesn't always have to include spoken words. How? Consider the following:
In writing. Well duh, Einstein. There are lots of ways in this category alone but so far I'm moving in only two major areas - blogs and message boards. Blogs are one of those things that I consider a God-send. Some have labeled it a form of narcissism or "attention whoring" but I beg to differ. Everyone's got a story to tell and web logs afford them the privilege of telling everyone how their day went or what went through their mind. What's important is that you show the relevance God has over the minute details of one's life without resorting to the usual cliché. Message boards are an entirely different matter since you get to discuss, debate, squash, slice, and dice your challenger's premise. This is a lot harder than it sounds whenever the issues of theology and philosophy are raised. But the good thing here is that you'll come out a stronger person than when you first entered the arena. For this reason I suggest you check out the Realm of Thought forum in PinoyExchange.com.

In art. This is a bit tricky if I have to get the message across without resorting to religious themes. Besides, nobody pays attention to religious art these days unless it's controversial. So how does one go about it? Relevance. A successful Christian cartoonist has to know who his or her audience are and how to deliver the message. It might surprise you that some widely syndicated comic strips were created by Christian cartoonists like Johnny Hart (creator of B.C. & co-creator Wizard of Id), Hank Ketcham (creator of Dennis the Menace), and Charles Schultz (creator of Peanuts) among others. The last example may or may not surprise you but it's true. Even Walt Disney, founder of the Magic Kingdom testified to the power of prayer in his life. Personally, I think it's a far greater sin for a Christian not to have a sense of humor. And the way to go about it is to do the best I can with all the available resources I have, gather enough audience and send the message (the Bible's chock-full of themes for hospitality, respect for the environment, raising a family, friendship, etc.).

In friendships. This is by far the best part of all and it's also the most precarious. Because apart from the other ways I have outlined here, friendships are open to scrutiny by those who are closest to me. What they see, know, and hear and vice-versa could either deliver the message loud and clear or obscure it even more. There has to be a balance of sensitivity to both God's leading and the friend's present condition. Though there is the pressing need to inform one has to wait for the proper way and timing if the message is to be received at all. Besides they would immediately know if one bears more importance to the delivery of the message rather than the recipient himself. It's the smallest things you do that spells the difference in the life of one friend. Leo Buscaglia explains, "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."
This is by no means a complete list but they're the major ones. The bottom line in everything I and other Christians should be doing, much more than the words that come out of our mouths is to show the relevance of Christ in our lives. How much change are we talking about? Talk is cheap and we can go on and on with our Alleluiahs and Amens but unless they see that what we do precedes what we preach, then where's the sense in talking? St. Francis of Assisi succinctly sums everything up when he admonishes us to "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words."
I've heard it said that geeks are adults who set their childhood aside for a while till the time they could afford it for themselves. Quiet and unassuming, they spent much of their time dreaming of what should be. They bury their noses in books and burned holes in their pockets buying trinkets that fueled their musings. The present crop of geeks and geekettes were born during the 1970s and came of age in the 80s and the early 90s when comic books were at its peak and novelty culture was the rage. John Byrne and Chris Claremont was taking the X-Men off the ground at breakneck speed, as was Spider-man and Daredevil with John Romita Jr. at the helm, while DC Comics had its moment with Crisis On Infinite Earths. While on the side of television, Transformers, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and G.I. Joe fought for domination as the best cartoon available. But given the fact that kids could only only afford so much from the wealth of comics, cartoon-spawned action figures, and RPG player manuals available at the time, what were they to do? It's more likely they postponed their childhood, focused more on their studies and tried to survive school (with all those bullies and terror teachers running around).

Fast forward a decade later and geeks are now running the show, dare I say, the world. Whereas before the same geeks who hid themselves in the closet for fear of ridicule are now coming out in numbers. The once derogatory term they all despised is now a badge of honor. "Where art thou beautiful people and jocks who used to ridicule us? Behold the face of tomorrow!" is something they could now gloat. Without the original geeks who worked in the realm of technology we wouldn't have our cellphones, personal computers, cyber space, simulated reality, and the rawking video games we're enjoying right now. Geeks working in the executive levels of Hollywood are the ones dictating the trend for making movies based on comic books and fantasy stories cool. Movie Directors like Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, George Lucas, and the Wachowski Brothers are some of those who commands respect in the hallowed halls of Hollywood. Not to mention crossover comic book writer/scriptwriter/Producer/Director/businessman/etc. Kevin Smith who is also powerful in his own right. Cartoon Producers and Directors like Genndy Tartakovsky, Matt Groening, Andrew Stanton, and Lee Unkrich are some of those who have successfully carved a niche among fans of animated features and comic artists Scott Kurtz, Berke Breathed, Bill Watterson, Gary Larson, Mike Krahulik & Jerry Holkins, Frank Cho, and Jeff Smith have the respect of their peers are but some of the powerful geeks working in entertainment today along with numerous model makers, animators, costume makers, special FX makers, set designers, storyboard artists, publishers, etc. The venerated old comic book geeks who preached to the masses now hold office in the lofty halls of Marvel and DC while a new generation of comic creators are creating their own armies in preparation for war. Locally, comic book geeks are beginning to command attention for churning out quality works that win awards in the once snobbish world of literature. Geeks are featured on the news for organizing conventions and awarding ceremonies they once dreamed of. After so many years of envying and looking towards the west for inspiration, like Neo, they're beginning to believe.

Yes, I do believe the Golden Age for geekdom is in the offing. But if they're to successfully raise heirs to continue their legacy they would have to pass on the true reasons for being a geek. For it is not enough to be called one nor is it easy to assume the position. Like the one ring, the unlimited power the position holds can easily sway an untrained novice to the dark side. To be a true geek one must undergo the same rigid training their predecessors has undergone to learn that true geekiness comes not from the illusion of self-grandeur. They must also learn that it has to come from a sense of innocence that gives wings to unlimited imagination, a true love for all good things that man has made. One's talents have to be offered in service of God and man or else the geekiness would corrupt the bearer, to ultimately be driven mad and destroyed by its power. Failure to raise an heir will result in the fall of the geek empire and this present generation will be on the endangered list.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Happiness is... getting a green mango shake wrapped with a red stuffed-toy monkey while eating buffet dinner with the family and having coffee afterwards.
Around a decade ago nobody ever thought of celebrating Valentine's Day as big as we do now. Coming right out of the Holiday Season the next mega-celebration Pinoys looked forward to was Lent. I think it's because being a largely Roman Catholic country we focused more on the celebrations that have religious undertones in it. But as the years passed and the administration called more and more non-working holidays, our propensity for fiesta celebrations also increased. We frantically looked for anything and everything to celebrate as an excuse to make merry (so much so we adopted foreign celebrations as we assimilated their attributes as our own). This early business people grabbed their chance to earn more so they created a money-making machine that churned out gazillion trends and events with every type of commercials and announcements customized for any and all imaginable products and services they can offer. They tailor-made every event to just focus on a particular market segment. In effect they collectively impose guilt on those unfortunate enough to be excluded. And almost every time they're targeting a spot in The Guinness Book of World Records to mark the event. You'd think that by this time we'd have also landed a spot in Ripley's Believe It Or Not for being the only country with the constant delusion to fill the book with frivolous accomplishments in a span of few months.

That's the why I'm moving on my own pace and neither am I bitter nor ecstatic about these celebrations. I don't care if I'm still single and no I'm not going to panic every time the month of hearts come around. I still manage to smile along with them but there's nothing they could ever do to make me hang my head in shame for being single. In fact I'd be the first to bat the shame back to you for pressing your commercially induced delirium on me. Anyway here's to a guilt-free Valentine's Day celebration to you all!

Friday, February 13, 2004

I have two discoveries today, one's peculiar and the other's not. The first one is the latest craze to starting in New York City, this is interactive entertainment taken to the next level—the Movieoke. At first I thought at first to be an ordinary videoke projected on the big screen turns out to be something more: live audience dubbing of your favorite movie! Guests follow the subtitled dialogue on a monitor in front of them while the others watch the projected scene on the big screen. "As long as you're not afraid to make a fool of yourself, it becomes a really communal experience," says inventor Anastasia Fite. Wonder when will this idea hit our shores?

Second discovery is the Mutts book I bought in last year's bookfair. Although I do read the strip regularly in the Philippine Daily Inquirer I never really got to appreciate the strip as much as I do now. Author and artist Patrick McDonnell effectively uses simple ink lines reminiscent of turn of the century cartoons, sparse dialogue, and three panels to bring home his message: pets are the bestest things in the world. He's also a staunch advocate of animal rights as some of the strips show. I guarantee you that next to Hobbes, you'll be hard pressed to find other endearing animals as Earl, Mooch, Shtinky Puddin, Woofie, Guard Dog, Sour Puss, Mussels Marinara, Crabby, and the others. I'm now looking forward to my next Mutts book purchase.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Things haven't been the same in the online version of Philippine News these past three weeks. Wonder what's up with them lately? Regarding this strip I drew more from my memory of the Vice Principal's office rather than the Principal's. It was cold and drab and it doesn't help at all that you're made to wait for a while imagining the the dreaded moment when he signs the student diary. Somehow we feared the visit to his office more than the priest's.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Hey! I can see your brain from here.

The annual film festival Pelikula at Lipunan premiered Tim Burton's latest movie, Big Fish last night at the SM Megamall. The movie tells the story of Will Bloom (Billy Crudup) coming home to finally try and reconcile with his dad Ed Bloom (Albert Finney) who was dying from cancer. It's been years since they last talked to each other after an argument and this was his last chance to finally get to find out the answers he's been looking for. He's accompanied by his wife Josephine (Marion Cotillard) and welcomed home by his mother Sandra (Jessica Lange).

As the story unfolds we see that Ed liked to tell tales about himself starting from the day he was born 'till the day he retired from work. And this is where the problem lies, his son never knew who the person really was behind those stories. He laments to one of his father's friends, "There were a lot of things my Dad talked about and never did, as well as a lot of things he did which he never talked about. I need to reconcile the two". The tales are take the form of flashbacks with the successful young Ed (Ewan McGregor) living in a small town doing everything he's called to or volunteered to do in a perfect way. When he came of age he dreamed of going to the big city and so he goes with the blessings of his townmates. He goes through a fantastic adventure along the way meeting an assortment of odd characters like the gentle giant who lives in a cave (Matthew McGrory), the barefoot residents of an immaculate town hidden town in the swamp, a poet with a writer's block (Steve Buscemi), a circus with a werewolf (Danny DeVito) for a ringmaster, and singing siamese twins Ping and (Jing) (Ada and Arlene Tai) among others. He also meets his would-be wife (Alison Lohman stars as the young Sandra) and though she was already engaged to someone else he goes to extreme lengths to woo her.

Are they true or not? His son Will tries to sift through the stories to try and understand his father. He is going to be a father himself in a couple of months and he feels he cannot be an effective one if he doesn't succeed in understanding who his father was. One's coming from a side that wants the truth no matter how factual or cold it is while the other reasons out that he was telling the truth in his own way. It's interesting to note that author Daniel Wallace says he was inspired to write the story in part because of his own charismatic father and the recent development of him being a dad himself and Director Tim Burton drew on his own experience in making the movie, saying that "the theme of child-parent reconciliation in 'Big Fish' fed his interest in the story, especially since it never really happened for him in real life." Ed Bloom was an inimitable storyteller and a charming man, that's how he is. He never intended to hurt anyone, most especially his son, but owing to his sanguine nature he couldn't be as close to anyone as he wanted (except maybe his wife). And though death was already there claiming him he couldn't just very well leave without his son reaching out and finding the truth for himself. In doing so Will finally found out that in the center of these stories he heard throughout his life lies the very heart of his father and his identity as his father's son.

* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

In a bit of celebrity news, Benicio Del Toro, Jeff Daniels, and John Goodman are rumored to play Moe, Larry, and Curly respectively in the Farrelly Brothers' upcoming movie The Three Stooges. In a more recent interview though, Peter Farrelly says that he prefers Russell Crowe to play the short tempered leader of the Stooges, "He is the perfect Moe. He hasn't done a big comedy so we think it would be fun to work with him." I'd still go for Benicio "Dr. Octopus" Del Toro who looks a lot like Moe. Warner Bros. is set to release the movie summer next year. Nyuk-nyuk-nyuk-nyuk!
Just a quick commentary on this country's electoral campaigns, particularly that of two leading candidates. First off is FPJ's penchance for entertainment* to get his votes. Kicking off his campaign with a big rally headed by comedians and sexy dancers. Instead of outlining his political platform and encouraging his fans with substantive reasons, they came up with flapdoodle statements like:
Dolphy: "This is the first time that we would have such a handsome president. I'm beginning to turn gay."

Vic Sotto: "Wala lang (nothing)." (that's important?) **

Joey de Leon: "If your brother is running (for elective office), wouldn't you vote for him?" (referring to Poe as a "brother" in the movie industry) **

Sen. Leticia Ramos-Shahani: "We Filipinos like to be entertained," (who saw nothing wrong in the entertainment-heavy rally)

Sen. Tito Sotto: "This is star power ... He has a very good chance of winning. The chances are excellent."

Scary isn't it? Poe even had the audacity to proclaim to a foreigner that the country's ills can be summed up in just three words: Breakfast, lunch, dinner. What the heck was that all about? The thing is if he was really sincere in solving the country's ills he should have started in his own backyard a long, long time ago way before being pushed to run for president. While on the other camp, thinking of fighting fire with fire, GMA's party resorts to using the Viva Hot Babes and the blessings of the other half of showbiz "gods" and "goddesses" to pave the way to extending her term. I can't even begin to describe what I think about this political circus all the while thinking that the fate of this country rests in one of those people's hands.
"If the events that surrounded yesterday's launch are an indication, there is little to show that the more than 40 million Filipino voters will emerge from the campaign better illuminated than they have been during the past few months, when issues were avoided like a contagious disease." - Amando Doronila, The dumb and the blind

"It's not just that movie stars are replacing "serious people," it's that seriousness in politics in general is going, if it hasn't gone at all. The standards have fallen -- no, disappeared completely." - Conrado de Quiros, The dumbing of Juan de la Cruz

"At no other time in history have we had this many celebrities running in an election—perhaps even more than any other country has had. So, does this make us Filipinos the biggest joke in political history? Or are we merely riding in the front seat of change, providing the world a sneak preview of the new order to come: the rise of the entertainment class to global political power?" - David Celdran, Media Madness

Left to our own devices for a little while and all good senses go down the drain. All this time we've been crying for relief from our problems and all we get is entertainment. All we're hearing right now is the cacophony of vested interests. "We Filipinos like to be entertained" says one "good" Senator. Entertained? Entertainment is just a passing fancy and it doesn't solve anything. If don't take ourselves seriously and vote for a presidential candidate on the basis of who has the more entertaining campaign then God save us from ourselves. We should all start repenting and actively seek Him to intervene in our decisions.

* The "Sex Bomb" dancers wearing skimpy outfits heralded Poe's entrance amid the colored lights and dry ice mist resembling "a huge television production."
** Comedian-turned-Senator Tito Sotto introduced his younger brother and former showbiz colleague to the crowd saying the pair had an important message to say.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

You're a Cappucinno.

What Kind of Coffee are You?
brought to you by Quizilla


Monday, February 09, 2004

Wonder what it would be like if comic superheroes ran a neighborhood convenience store to supplement their rent? Presenting Heroes, a hilarious flash animation inspired by Kevin Smith's cult film Clerks. Of course to really enjoy this movie you'd have to have at least some background knowledge about the said movie or any Kevin Smith film. For immature adult audiences only.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

I went to watch a movie right after the mid-morning service in Galleria and though I had my mind settled on watching one of those asian flicks I opted to watch a non-serious animated film instead. I invited Lyndon to come along too since I haven't been seeing him for such a long time (pluc the fact that he lives just a short distance away from the mall). I must admit I wasn't expecting much when I watched Brother Bear thinking it's another Pocahontas-type of movie (*blech!*) but surprisingly, it's not. Of course the parts with the humans are not as entertaining as the parts where the animals talk to each other.

The story is set during the time the Ice Age was coming to an end (wonder where the gang of Manfred, Sid, and Diego were at this time?) there we find three brothers: Sitka (voiced by D.B. Sweeney), the eldest and most sane of them all; Denahi (voiced by Jason Raize), the hot tempered second brother; and, Kenai (voiced by Joaquin Phoenix), the free-spirited, self-centered youngest brother whose negligence started a chain of events that led them to hunt and kill a bear. In the process of doing so Sitka was killed defending his brothers and Kenai (who killed the bear to avenge the death of Sitka) was himself transformed into a bear by the spirit of his dead brother to teach him a lesson about curbing his impulsiveness and self-centeredness. The only way he could and would be transformed back into a human again is for him to take a journey to the place where "the lights touch the mountains" and properly apologize for his behavior. Along the way he gets to meet a cute little cub named Koda (voiced by Jeremy Suarez) who was separated from his mother. Though Kenai didn't like him he had to "suffer" the cub's company since their destination was close to each other. Koda was hoping to join the other bears and hopefully his mother at the Salmon Run next to the magic mountain. Providing the tension in the film is the relentless chase of Denahi who thinks that the bear (Kenai) killed his brother. The two bears meet an assortment of oddballs who provide most of the laughs in the film, specifically two moose brothers: Rutt (voiced by Rick Moranis) and Tuke (voiced by Dave Thomas) and two dueling mountain rams who forgot what they were fighting about (voiced by Paul Christie and Daniel Mastrogiorgio).

It's quite sad to know that Walt Disney Co. Chairman Michael Eisner decided to unceremoniously close their animation studio in Florida since traditional cel animation hasn't been making much profit as it did years ago. For so long Walt Disney Pictures was known for quality animated films peppered with values and lessons about family, growing up, knowing oneself, and others. Recently it seems greedy executives have been rehashing old stories to try and come up with an excuse for merchandising. Brother Bear isn't one of those kinds of films. The story of brotherhood, respect, understanding, and thoughtful consideration of others belong to the second wave of the Golden Era for Walt Disney during the 90s. Back then when The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan, etc. testified to the greatness and quality that Mr. Disney sought after. I'm not ashamed to say that this is one of the few recent Disney feature where I cried. This is the second-to-the-last 2D animation film they'll be producing so if I were you I'd get my butt of that chair and catch it on the big screen before it's too late.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

One of the most controversial films is going to start its run in a couple of weeks. Actor/Director/Producer Mel Gibson endured a lot just to show this story on the big screen (imagine getting the funds for this film from your own pockets) and you can't find a crew as dedicated to this project as the one he has with him in Icon Productions.

So please, please find time to send some words of encouragement to them by filling out this form and letting them know that you appreciate all their work. Thanks!
I really, really hate it when schedules change at the last minute. Like I was invited to a friend's house to just hang out and chill but it was cancelled at the last minute because of some more important reason. The reason was totally legit and I forgive for that but the thing is I never planned anything tonight because I was expecting this thing to push through. I'm angry but I don't want to be angry at them so the problem is I'm holding all this anger inside and I don't know where to put it. Lots of things come to mind and I have to fight off all assumptions and blame passing. Durn. I got a haircut and walked over to the mall to have dinner and sort things out. Somehow taking a breather through a crowded mall seems to do the trick. Head clears out and I'm able to talk to God better surrounded by paintings and other works of art. I have to finish a lot of strips this weekend and I can't afford to do that with these excess baggage hanging from my head.

Friday, February 06, 2004

We had our PEx Mod meeting tonight at their Makati office. It's been a long time since we all gathered for a meeting (almost 6 months if my memory serves me right) but this time there were a lot of good news. We talked about the improvements, projects, and parties we will be having this year as a way of promoting the boards and bringing back the old members. And all this while we were feasting on 2 large Yellow Cab pizzas and large bottles of Coke. Afterwards we quietly concluded the meeting by drifting off to conversations about the Last Samurai, Blogs, Tolkien, and online games. I definitely have to start drawing the strips and hopefully have them scanned before I go to sleep.

We're like something out of Dead Poets Society except we're women.

Just came home from watching Mona Lisa Smile. What I thought to be a feel-good movie with lots of light moments (like "My Best Friend's Wedding") turned out to be this drama flick that tends to drag in some places.

The setting is 1953-1954 in Wellesley College, Massachusetts. Enter Katherine Ann Watson (Julia Roberts), uneasy and unsure of what she's got herself into when she applied to teach Art History in this supra-conservative part of America. The students are a bunch of snobbish know-it-alls coming from rich families and most of the faculty are so uptight in their view of life you'd think they'd burst. Prominent characters among the students are Betty Warren (Kirsten Dunst), an stuffy student paper editor who's in denial of life's imperfections; Joan Brandwyn (Julia Stiles), a grade A+ student who dreams of bucking the system and becoming more than an ordinary housewife; Giselle Levy (Maggie Gyllenhaal), the liberal rebel who lives like life's one big party; Connie Baker (Ginnifer Goodwin), the perky buxom girl who had one chance to strike at happiness and she nearly blew it.

Story revolves around Katherine who blows into their conservative little town bringing new ways of appreciating art which they couldn't get from their syllabus. She encourages them to think out of the box like the time she shows them painting slides like the impressionistic beef carcass by Chaim Soutine and asks them if they think it's art. Eventually she also applies more or less the same question to their life. Are they really happy with the decision to finish college only to settle down as ordinary housewives? Wouldn't they rather consider other new meanings for the word "happiness?" Feminists see a rallying point for gender equality, personally, I see a parallel with the Gospels (keep in mind that this is a very loose comparison): In both cases a new teacher comes to town and disrupts the status quo of the authorities by offering them a better way of life ruled by grace in contrast to the rigid law of expectation (legalism) fettered upon them. Both teachers told the story that once upon a time love, desire, and passion drove an artist to create and how over time these same ingredients that fanned the fire of creativity became a cumbersome lifeless set of rules that some people created. Life became a game of painting by numbers. Both teachers were ostracized for their subversive teachings, both were hurt by the betrayal of one of those closest to them, and they both left a group of converts that eventually changed the way of life of a great number of people. There is also a good explanation for the unusual movie title which refers to the sparkling appearance women have to make in front of other people whether they're happy or not.

This isn't one of Julia Roberts' memorable films and I wouldn't really buy a copy of this film for the library. But I wouldn't mind watching it again with someone of the opposite sex for some meaningful discussions of the differences and measure of progress that women today have made in comparison to some fifty years ago e.g. did empowerment grant them the equality they have been fighting for, or, as far as recent headliners go, further debase them?

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Everything portrayed in the strip really happened yesterday when me, Jorge, and his wife, Sheila watched a movie at Greenbelt 3. Except there was no popcorn flying everywhere since I finished it early on and, secondly, I didn't yell like that. Okay... so maybe not everything happened as portrayed. I fibbed just a teeny-tiny bit.

* I finally settled for this title which is quite explanatory. Yep! Yep!

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Déjà boo.

Panel nos. 2-3 were published last summer and it was a running joke for their eventual meet in school (you can read the whole strip for panel #3 here). I'll expand this storyline when I do the comic book version. In fact I'll expand the whole thing right from the very beginning. Right from the time their father announces their emigration to the Philippines with the 9-11 background story up to the present.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.
This has got to be the most outrageous e-mail I've gotten so far (may your email address be harvested for SPAM purposes):
From: "Estrada Luisa"
Date: Wed, 4 Feb 2004 02:13:15 +0100
Subject: In need of help.

Hello Dear,

My name is {DR. MRS. LUISA. ESTRADA,} the wife of {MR. JOSEPH ESTRADA,} the former President of Philippines.

My husband was recently impeached from office by a backed uprising of mass demonstrators and the Senate. My husband is presently in jail and facing trial on
Charges of corruption, Embezzlement, and the mysterious charge of plunders which might lead to death sentence. The present government is forcing my husband out of
Manila to avoid demonstration by his supporter.

During my husband's regime as president of Philippine, I realized some reasonable amount of money from various deals that I successfully executed. I have plans to invest this money for my children's future on anything that will be ok for then maybe industrial production. My husband is not aware of this because I wish to do it secretly for now.

Before my husband was impeached, I secretly! siphoned the sum of $42.2million USD, out of Philippines and deposited the money with a security firm that transports valuable goods and consignments through diplomatic means. I also declared that the consignment was solid gold and my foreign business partner owned it and I arranged it very well and put it in a metallic truck boxes and also made sure it has a security code that no one may be able to open it if not me that has the security code and the
Security Company believe me that it's some valuable items that I have in it. Even in the Documents it was stated that the value of it was $42.2 MILLION USD.

I am contacting you because I want you to go to the Security company and claim the money on my behalf since I have declared that the consignment belong to my foreign business partner. You shall also be required to assist me in investment in your country.

I hope to trust you and I al! so believe that you are the type that a sister in need could relay on. And I know that you will not sit on this money when you claim it, rather assist me properly, I will compensate you with 15% of the total capital after you might have claimed it for me. When I receive your positive response I will let you know where the security company is and the security pin code to claim the consignment, which is very important.

For now,all our communication should be on via e-mail (loisa_estrada@presidency.com) because my line are right now connected directly to the Philippines Telecommunication Network services. Please also send me your telephone and fax number and also a letter of assurance so that I will feel free to tell you more about this business.

Then I will open up a communication root between you and the Security Company to handle this transaction.

Hope to hear from you as soon as you get this email so that we can get started soonest.

Best Regards,


I have a lot to say about this letter but I'll be kind and end it with this: HAHA!

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

You're going to play WHO in Mel Gibson's next movie?

I watched J. Lo's movie Angel Eyes middle of this afternoon on HBO and what I initially thought to be your typical sobfest turned out to be one fine movie about finding the courage to face one's past before they can move on (can't believe I missed this on the big screen). The story starts in a tragic vehicular accident in a bridge just outside Chicago. Police officer Sharon Pogue (Jennifer Lopez) comes onto the scene and helps the victim focus while he slips between consciousness and unconsciousness. Forward a year later and a lone man named Catch (Jim Caviezel) walks through the rundown neighborhood of South-side Chicago doing one good deed or another (like turning off the headlights of a car one careless driver left on, doing the groceries of an invalid middle-aged woman, or reminding the apartment owner that she left the keys on her door, etc.). He doesn't look for gratitude and nor does he want to talk to anyone that much. All he does is to immediately walk away after doing his job.

One time he sees Sharon enjoying a break with her police buddies in a small coffee shop and he couldn't take his eyes off her. For some reason he thinks her face is familiar but he just couldn't place where. For her part, Sharon has been working hard and quite ruthless in her dealings with various criminals. This worries her friend and colleague Robby (Terrence Howard) who tries to look after her. She's also been unsuccessful in the dating circuit. Though she isn't lacking anything in her looks there were lots of things haunting her mind to make her focus on finding love at that moment. She's also estranged from her family except for a sister who she looks out for. The problem stemmed out from the fact that she and her siblings suffered a lot from their violent father, one time she took her stand and reported him the authorities. Years later her father was released from jail and but he never forgot nor ever forgave what she did.

Their lives were entwined during the second time Catch saw her in that same shop. He saved her from being shot by a disgruntled criminal after a drive-by shooting. This instance coupled with his quiet and impassive demeanor intrigued her. She tried to squeeze any information she can from her mysterious savior whenever they saw each other but he remained stolid. Sometimes during their dates familiar places would cause bits and pieces of memories to flash through his mind, as would the sight of a neighbor's kid remind him of a similarly aged kid in his past. Eventually his silence began to get to her and after a couple of clues got to research his background. That's when she understood why and she then became determined to try and help him face his past. Over at her side, she discovered her parents are renewing their marriage vows but she wasn't invited. She decides to invite herself in deference to her brother's and mother's wishes and tried to talk to her father privately during the reception. But he repelled all her attempts so she told her story downstairs in front a camera taking videos of well wishers after which she walked away from the party after that into another surprise: Catch was waiting for her outside. He had decided to let go of the past by apologizing to his son at the cemetery and giving away his toys to his neighbor's kid. This is a great stoy of finding the courage to confront our shame and letting go of the past. We may be suffering the consequences of what happened in the past. It may not be our fault and we may have stood up to what we think was right but the thing here is we cannot run far into our lives if we still insist in carrying that heavy burden that in the first place we should have left behind early on.

* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.

Monday, February 02, 2004

AWRIGHT!!! This is downright WICKED! It's like, WOW! THANKS! ... What is it?

This was the movie and my friends were supposed to watch yesterday afternoon in Greenbelt. I still got to see it last night with the family so I'm thankful for that. To start off I must admit that I'm not that big a fan of Tom Cruise so this came to me as a pleasant surprise. The story revolves around the self-narrated experiences of Captain Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise). Coming from a traumatic experience in the war against native American Indians, he functions mechanically in all his affairs. He's also constantly drunk and rude to almost all the people he talks to. He's hired to advertise for the Winchester Company by making him recall his exploits in the war (thereby deepening the wounds in his psyche even further). From there an old friend of his finds him and takes him to meet the Japanese Prime Minister Omura (Masato Harada) who offers him a new job training their army in the ways of the West. Thinking he has nothing better to do and of course in their right mind would turn down the astronomical compensation, he agrees to go with them back to Japan.

He's barely spent enough time training the fledgling Japanese army when they were ordered to confront the group of rebel warriors led by Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe) in a railroad construction site. Katsumoto is the last hold out to the original traditions of Japan. He's a former sensei (teacher) of Emperor Meiji (Shichinosuke Nakamura) and has gone out of the court ever since the spineless Emperor started letting his Prime Minister make his decisions for him, foremost of which was the opening of their country to outside influences. Far from rebelling against his former master, he believes he's doing him a great service by fighting off the invading progress of the white men. As was anticipated the Japanese army was decimated despite their superior weapons and Algren was taken captive. He was taken alive probably because Katsumoto saw a kindred soul in this foreign warrior (he watched Algren fight off around six of his men all by his lonesome).

In the course of his captivity Algren learned a lot from his captors. Whereas before he didn't care whether he lived or died in battle, how many enemies he can take with him, about the people who were with him, or life in general. Eventually he began to open up to the immediate family of Katsumoto (in whose house he was staying). One time he admitted to himself that he wasn't a church going person but he couldn't help but notice the strong spiritual connection these people put in everything they do. In one of their conversations Katsumoto asked Algren, "What does it mean to honor something?" The answer to that taught him a lot enough for him understand rather than fight off the principles of his erstwhile enemy. Eventually they began to respect each other, to fight for the protection of the other, and to fight alongside each other as equals. There were battles reminiscent of William Wallace's before the end and though they knew it was futile to fight more than a thousand men against their five hundred, the last Samurai's sacrifice hasn't been in vain.

* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Me and two friends were supposed to watch a movie earlier today in Greenbelt but an emergency situation forced them to cancel at the last minute. Left with nothing to do except to browse again at Powerbooks Live! and take more pictures at the area. The problem with the second option was that I left the camera on effectively draining the batteries dry. Left with nothing but the camera in my cellphone I still went on with my plans and got a lot of great 'uns. Take a gander at them pictures in my phlog.
Dreamed of my favorite ska band Madness last night. I know now that it was in the latter part of my sleep that this happened. In that dream I was with the band backstage where they're resting and preparing for a gig. The venue looked like a dark, delapidated bodega and most of them were lying down and just taking it easy while keyboardist Mike Barson was sitting across the room writing on a table. He was wearing the same blue suit he wore in the cover of their album and he didn't mind me looking over his shoulder while he doodled spirals and curlicues on a sheet of music paper along with large musical notes. I though it was a strange way of writing a rearrangement for the music they will be making onstage. Some of the others got up rather groggily when I seemed to have disturbed their sleep. I only regret not having to see them perform after that.

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