Friday, April 30, 2004

There's a big sale at SM Megamall that started today and traffic was predictably doubly horrible during rush hour. I think that's the point why my dad wanted us to leave two hours early to watch a movie. Or maybe it was all just a fluke accident. We arrived with less than an hour to go (that's how bad the traffic was) and ate dinner first before watching The Whole Ten Yards which sucked so much it felt like watching paint dry. The movie was totally devoid of humor inspite of the presence of them good comedy actors and of course, the hilarious first movie. I won't go into details just trust me on this one. When we came out, the whole place was still alive well past its supposed closing time. We checked out a couple of shops before moving downstairs to have coffee. After finishing the coffee and cinnamon rolls we went inside one last store and bought some goodies before going home. I'm thinking about going back again tomorrow to see the range of discounts available for the books and DVDs.
Here are more pictures from our onsite visit to Marikina City and Cainta. We went there to attend to some business matters.

You can click the pictures see them up close.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

My mom requested my brother and me to drive her to Makati City to pick up a check from a bank so I took the opportunity to take some pictures while we're at it. People in yellow shirts were all over the place in preparation for Presidential candidate Eddie Villanueva's rally that afternoon. That would have been a very good subject for the camera too but we couldn't stay long enough to attend it. Afterwards we had our lunch at Oodys in Greenbelt 3.

Here's a fun thing, try to keep your eyes over that anahaw leaf above while you're scrolling up and down in quick succession. WoOoOoOh! Pretty neat, eh?

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Ahahaha! Hahahaha... ha.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.
I saw this link to a site while reading through the forum of an online message board: Could you guard this post? It's a Korean flash animation but there's an english translation available.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

The last time I browsed through the selections of that wonderful (but awfully expensive) bookstore called Fully Booked, I was intrigued but somewhat indifferent. The books available were all that any dedicated bookworm could ever ask for but the prices were too steep. It was a different story last Thursday when I dropped by for a quick look before going to our high school batch meeting. There were so many new titles it was all I could do to keep myself from slobbering over the covers and the pages. And the good thing about was that almost half of them fell under the P1,000.00 boundary. I promised I would be back once I have the money to buy them. So I did and went through the titles one by one. I held on to four or five books lest some other customer buy them. But due to financial constraints I had to let the others go and settle for these two fine specimens.

I felt like the old farmer in the "A Million Cats" story who being childless decides with his wife to get a cat but each cat he saw on his journey turned out to be better than the last and he picked up every single one of them until he got acquired a million cats by the time he got home. I've been buying Christian themed books and there are still a lot of them I haven't read. Each one's better than the last and I couldn't resist buying some more whenever I see one that talks about a subject I really, really like. While some people spend their dough on clothes, gadgets, or gimmicks, I spend mine on books. I'll get through all these someday. There'll be some really interesting stories to tell when I do.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

We just came back from a friend of my brother's house in Makati. Reynard is a former officemate of my brother in Philippine News back in San Francisco so I sorta know the guy too. We exchanged short conversations via email. He would pay a compliment on some of the comic strips I submit or we would talk about various anime available out there. He arrived here in the country last October but we lost contact after his office account was deleted. We caught up with news about our own activities, projects, and other stuff. He also showed us his extensive collection of anime DVDs and those he downloaded off the net. He has the biggest collection of Japanese cartoons I've ever seen. He even has these titles on CD I've never even heard of. Owing to the lack of time, we just watched a couple of previews while he told me what they were all about and showed us the special editions he and his wife bought in the conventions they attended. He told me I could invite some friends over to watch them if I wanted to. I borrowed his collection of Season 2 of the Ranma 1/2 TV series for a start. I'm thinking about reviving the anime filmfests again we had last year. Maybe I will soon enough. I'll think about it.
I had a great time meeting with some of the guys last night. First off during the early evening was dinner with some of the Administrators and fellow Moderators from PEx. We haven't seen each other in quite a while so the dinner/meeting with them's definitely a welcome change from my usual night out. After eating some announcements were made that concerns the site among others. After which I said my goodbyes and transferred venues to Starbucks in Shangri-la Mall for the Artists' Den meeting. Lico has been sitting in there alone for the past hour or so with no one to talk to. Good thing Az arrived on time to keep him company (I arrived some five minutes later). Good thing Az's band gig has been cancelled in lieu of their summer outing to the beaches of Zambales. While we were catching up on our discussions about personal activities, Mark arrived and was soon followed by Lyndon. Mark just bought himself a new sketchpad and was teaching himself to draw. We promptly "baptized" it with our sketches in the first few pages. It was already half past midnight when we parted ways. We usually stay on longer than that but some of them have to catch an early ride going to their vacation spots.

Friday, April 23, 2004

My friend and I had a long discussion over the phone sometime ago regarding some problems that spilled into the early morning. In the course of that discussion she asked me how I was doing holding up on my end. I said I'm doing okay except for the routine where I always get the short end of the stick in the dealings I thought was really big. That's when things turned around a 180°. Instead of me sitting on the chair with a notepad and pen on hand listening to her problems while she's there lying on the couch hugging a pillow, she had me switch places with her and had me sitting on the floor hugging a pillow and being on the defensive.

Well it's not that bad once you get the hang of it. People usually get on the defensive when they're being counseled and they get to hear stuff they'd normally drown out with strains of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" or "I Can't Hear You! La-la-la-la-la-la!" sung at the top of their lungs. At first I was in denial. It wasn't my fault I trusted them to be betrayed in the end. But my friend said that I should have at least seen a pattern forming after the nth time. She told me maybe God was trying to correct my attitude and unless I did He'd resign me to repeat the same pattern over and over until I get it. I agreed with that observation and I just kept quiet, listening to her thoughts and opinions. That is until she said that "promises ARE made to be broken." I couldn't believe my ears. Did she really say that? She explained that that's how the world operates and I should just go with the flow. While I do agree that it's a popular notion in society, I begged to differ on the matter that I should resign myself to it. That line promises are made to be broken is one of the most harebrained statement I've ever heard. Promises are not made to be broken no matter what people say and I will not resign myself to accepting that. Especially if these came from those I treat as family. They should know better than to break their promises. They know they should after all they've been exposed to a higher standard! She told me that man cannot be like God who can keep promises no matter how many He makes. I told her then they shouldn't make promises they don't intend to keep. What happened to trustworthiness? What happened to informing the other in advance that they couldn't keep what they promised. Technology has made it possible for us not to keep in communication. We don't have any excuse to break promises, if at all we shouldn't make promises in the first place. Our tendency to break them has become so common, the very word itself has lost all meaning. In the end I lowered my expectations and forgave those who broke their promises. While I still somewhat disagree with her observation on this matter, I told her I'll curb my temper and season my expectations with the same grace that has been given to me. We are, after all, still subject to failings.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

We finished tonight's meeting with my high school batchmates a lot earlier than the usual since there were only three of us in attendance. On the way home, I just realized that this year exactly marks the year when I graduated from high school. This year marks the exact date that I spent half of my life in Don Bosco Makati. Wow. This is profound stuff. Whoa. Cool.
My dad's going with my brother to help him apply for a driver's license earlier today and since my sister applied for a leave from her office to be able to tag along with them, my dad excused me from work and asked me to go along with them and make it a day out. So that's what we did, we made our way to the LTO and waited while my brother asked for the requirements for a replacement for his old license. Then it's off to the other LTO office to get some clearance. By then it was nearly lunch time and my sister was badgering our dad to go with us to Greenhills (she reasons that he needs to be there with us to pay for our lunch). Haha.

We ate at my favorite pizzeria, Yellow Cab, where being undecisive isn't as bad as it should be. That's because one can have a large pizza with four of their best toppings divided accordingly! HA! (thinking about makes me slobber all over again). After that hefty lunch we went inside Virra Mall and straight to the lair of the Video Pirates (beware their varied selection and benign smiles) where my sister exchanged some DVDs she recently bought from them and also updated her collection with more titles. The temptation to buy can be a bit too much so before I could succumb to their beguiling tricks I went out to check out the other stores. I saw my brother at the far end checking out the wares of another kind of pirate—the geeky ones selling mp3s and installers. Aiyah!

Before leaving Greenhills, we bought some worthwhile desserts from the now famous, Ice Monster (prounounced as "AYZ MONZTAH!" by the parched ones). Then through the tiangge (bargain stalls) to look for a belt. My brother must have left his in the soon-to-come balikbayan boxes, so there we were weaving in and out of the crowded maze-like pathways looking for that one leather belt. We found it some good minutes later. Since it was still early, we thought it would be a good idea to swing by the house and bring our mom with us to The Fort and check out the diners, the cafés, restaurants, and bars that make it such a hip and happening place. So we did and we first passed by the new Victory Christian Fellowship building right beside the International School (that VCF building's where one of my cousins hold office as one of the Pastors) before looking for the place where the reknowned Go Nuts Donut hold court. People have been raving about for the longest time and it's time to see for ourselves if those donuts live up to the hype. We lined up for around twenty minutes before we got to the counter and we waited for another fifteen before we got the donuts. The verdict? The good thing about it is its large size and not-too-sweet flavor but other than that, well, personally I don't see anything about it that deserves the rave reviews. Maybe I was expecting too much. Or what if there's nothing to expect? It's just one large donut. That's it. In the end let me just say that there's always a sucker like me born every minute. Psyche!

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Summer's barely started and already it’s getting to be quite unbearable. I originally thought of copying the melting face part from the climax of the movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark" where the Nazis opened the Ark of the Covenant. But some people might lose their breakfast and get riled up over that, so I just went with this one. Of course, now that I think about it, Bloom County had no qualms of showing the effects of "acid snow" to hilarious results. Hmmm… Naaaah!

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.
Today's the day we've all been waiting for. Today my younger brother, who's been out of the country for so many years now, came home. He was supposed to fly in very early in the morning and we got there at the airport fifteen minutes after the scheduled airplane touchdown. We waited along the others in the waiting area provided, straining our necks and eyes at every person coming out the doors far from where we were. What I don't like about all this waiting is the fact that people forget the simplest of courtesies like saying "excuse me" whenever they try to go upfront. Of course they're all excited and all but it does get very annoying.

Things started picking up when my brother came out after a good round of waiting. We were all so happy to see him, especially my mom who missed him the most (we're also thankful to God for preserving him unharmed throughout his ordeal ). Then we had our breakfast buffet at the Peninsula Manila (a rare treat reserved for extremely special occasions). After some hours of eating and catching up we went around Greenbelt 3 to show my brother all the improvements that have been made in that area. Then we went to the Power Plant Mall in Rockwell Center (when he was here the area was not yet developed as it is what we see today). We went through all the floors, going in and out of the open shops at that hour of the morning. Before going home to rest we brought my sister to her office in Manila. We haven't yet had our lunch as of this writing and the others are now watching TV and/or surfing the internet.

* * *

Click the strip to enlarge it.

I'm in awe of Frank Cho's uncanny ability to mimic other cartoonists' work like this particular strip from Liberty Meadows where he incorporates Berke Breathed's style into his own strip and even dares to feature Bloom County character Michael Binkley.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

'We Built This City' ranks as the worst record ever

Starship's 1985 anthem, the runaway No. 1 stinker, "seems to inspire the most virulent feelings of outrage," editor Craig Marks says. "It purports to be anti-commercial but reeks of '80s corporate-rock commercialism. It's a real reflection of what practically killed rock music in the '80s."

Also sealing the song's fate were Starship's steep fall from grace as the admired Jefferson Airplane and "the sheer dumbness of the lyrics," Marks says.

Oh my.

Monday, April 19, 2004

I finished the strip late tonight having started late in the afternoon. I'm going the route cartoonist Bill Watterson took with his experimentations with panels in cramped space. I also did something different tonight, something I never did for the longest time: I stayed stayed home. It was already almost 9 p.m. when I submitted the strip and since almost every place in the Metro closes at the time I decided to stay put and cook dinner for myself. Then I watched "Speed" on the Wowow Channel on cable and parts of "Queen of the Damned" (Aaliyah's last film which unfortunately "pffft!" out instead of "KA-BLAM!!!"). Then there's that episode in the O.W.S. where Oprah gave away stuff like iPod and HP photo printers, among others, to all the audience on her show. Maybe one day I could bring my mom to watch that show live.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

I'm sorry they only got "Engelbert Humperdinck Yodeling ABBA Hits" available.

The movie, 50 First Dates is that other great movie I kept putting off from watching till I got enough of The Passion of the Christ. It's a pretty good movie considering its formulaic slant. It's also a reunion of sorts for the original tandem that made The Wedding Singer work, except for a few changes involving actors for the lead character's sidekick and his cross-dressing co-worker, Alexa (Lusia Strus), who has fallen in lust with the lead character. It tells the story of a smooth playah, Henry Roth (Adam Sandler), who romances a string of attractive women with deceptive words and occupations, until he meets a sweet, simple and innocent young woman named Lucy Whitmore (Drew Barrymore) in a diner. Henry's main occupation is a marine life veterinarian for the Sea Life Park in Hawaii and was on his way to the Antarctic to study the Walruses when his boat conked out on him leading him to meet the person who would change his life forever.

When Henry asks Lucy out, Sue (Amy Hill), knowing his reputation with women warns him from seeing her again. She's a good friend of Lucy's mother and she's looking out for her charge who happens to suffer from a unique case of amnesia. She explains to Henry that Lucy met a car accident with her father almost a year before causing her to bump her head and permanently damage one part of her brain that processes new information. So everything she remembers from the past leads only to the day of that fateful accident and everything she sees, does, and knows henceforth gets erased from her memory the day after. So what Henry does basically is to introduce himself and court her everyday, changing his playboy attitude into that of genuine care and concern. At first her father, Marlin (Blake Clark) and brother, Doug (Sean Astin) won't have none of it and kept an eagle's eye on Henry. It is his insistence that finally cleared the way with Lucy's family, allowing him to gain their trust. Henry's best friend and confidante, Ula (Rob Schneider) helps him along the way, offerng moral support and what-not since he can only live out his dating fantasies through his friend's love life. Together they create video documentaries explaining things and events Lucy have missed out ever since the accident ending with his profession to help her overcome her problem and a promise to love her forever. Though it is painful on both Henry and Lucy's family to do this everyday, they stand with her as she reels from the shocking revelation. That is until one day Lucy decides to break up with her persistent loverboy thinking she's holding him back from fulfilling his dreams and having a normal life. As expected, those concerned were able to hurdle impossible obstacles enough to end the movie on a happy note for everyone.

It's also worth mentioning that the soundtrack's really good and, like the aforementioned movie, it features popular songs from the 1980s remade by new artists (like The Cars' "Drive" was remade by Ziggy Marley, Roxy Music's "Slave To Love" remade by Elan Atias, The Cure's "Love Song" was remade by 311, etc.). I don't know about the other 80s music fans but I'm sort of indifferent with the remade songs. Well, except for Seal's remake of the Echo and the Bunnymen original "Lips Like Sugar," those others haven't sunk in enough for me to like it. It also features one Adam Sandler original song called "Forgetful Lucy " but it's also not as memorable his previous "Grow Old With You." Also, of interest is the presence of some same featured bands and songs in both soundtracks like: The Police songs "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" and "Every Breath You Take"; Psychedelic Furs songs "Love My Way" and "Ghost In You"; and two versions of the Thompson Twins' "Hold Me Now." Also, the previous movie's soundtrack featured one remake and full originals and the soundtrack for this movie features one original and full remakes. But despite the many parallels I still like this movie (and the soundtrack) enough to buy a DVD copy for my video library, I just hope that Mr. Sandler doesn't repeat it in his future projects.

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

Saturday, April 17, 2004

I finally bought a copy of Brooklyn Dreams compilation that J.M. Dematteis and Glenn Barr classic graphic novel about our half-Jew, half-Italian protagonist, Vincent Carl Santini's growing pains in, well, Brooklyn. I already have the first two editions, bought in a small comic bookstore some eight years ago, and none of the next two installments.

I've already scanned the second half of the book, the parts I haven't seen yet and it looks promising. It's such a pity that nobody really takes an interest in this title. Lodged between its better known neighbors like the JLA or Sandman and Superman: The Ultimate Guide books it hasn't got a prayer, it seems. Still, this is a fascinating read and hopefully the writing, lay-outs, and art styles will be of great use for some projects I'm working on right now. Take a gander on these sample words from the comic:
This is the story of what happened to me during my Senior year in high school. Now, everything I'm about to tell you is true, I swear it. But the problem is—I don't really believe that there's any such thing as a "True Story." Perception is limited. Memory is faulty. I think the moment the words come out our mouths, we create something wholly different from the truth we're trying to communicate. A shadow-show of reality. A waking dream, if you will.

Which presents me with a little bit of a problem.

I read a book once ... very strange ... about a man and woman vampires...who meet and fall in love—so one night, the man-vampire tells the woman-vampire his life story... All the pains, all the struggles, all the joys. Then it's the woman's turn. "There's little I actually remember." She tells him; "So I'll weave you lies more accurate than truth."

I remember another book. This old man... He claims to be well over a hundred... Is looking back at his life... Recounting his adventures—and as the story goes along it becomes pretty clear that he's fudging a little bit. Maybe a lot. The old man knows it. The readers know it. So at one point the old man comes at the issue head-on: "Call this memoir fact, fairy tale, or whatever else may give you comfort," he says; "But know that there are moments that remain true under any classification..."

"Moments that remain true under any classification." That's the stuff I'm interested in. So... Here's the deal—you sit back, relax, give me a small chunk of your time—and I'll weave you some lies about my life. Who knows with a little luck—they just might turn out to be true.

It's witty, it's humorous, it's tragic. It has the elements of comedy, drama, philosophy, religion, and life in general. Of course, this book is very much recommended for mature readers only not only because of the deep insights, but also because of the presence of some objectionable words, situations, and art.

Friday, April 16, 2004

I have to admit at first I was biased against the live movie version of the movie, Peter Pan. I first read about it sometime last year way before the controversy broke out. I mean I grew up with the Walt Disney version and doing a live movie version of something well-loved just ruins the whole experience. Well, guess what? I now think that Walt Disney's version bites the dust of this newer, spiffier version. Not even Spielberg's Hook can hold a candle to this new kid on the block.

I've heard it said that this movie's much closer than the other versions combined and one cannot know for certain unless one reads the entire book for himself. J.M. Barrie's wonderful story opens thus:
All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, "Oh, why can't you remain like this for ever!" This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.

The original words of the book comes off as exceedingly charming as it reflects the prim and proper behavior that British folks have (especially those living in the early 1900s) and so unlike the other movies based on Peter Pan that comes off with an American flavor, Director P.J. Hogan (My Best Friend's Wedding)'s version goes back to preserve its England roots.

The story starts out with the contrast of the free-spirited and carefree fun of childhood versus the somber, seriousness of the adults. Wendy Darling (Rachel Hurd-Wood) is shown playing make-believe with her younger brothers John (Harry Newell) and Michael (Freddie Popplewell), regalling them with a story of her own, Cinderella fighting the pirates of the high seas. Soon after she's being presented before her Aunt Millicent (Lynn Redgrave)> who adviced that she be sent away to a boarding school to teach her grown up things and to be a proper lady. Her parents Mr. John Darling (Jason Isaacs) and Mrs. Mary Darling (Olivia Williams) were aghast at the idea at first, after all their daughter was just barely thirteen. Her brothers also feared of the fates that await them (after all the suffocating dictates of Victorian Society is no fun for kids at all). But after a series of unfortunate incidents, her indignant father threatened to turn their nurse-dog Nana (Rebel) over to the dog pound and Wendy to the tutelage of Aunt Millicent starting the day after.

Although the morrow held grim news for the little ones, that same night held the promise of an adventure they'll never forget. Soon after the three children have gone to bed, Peter Pan (Jeremy Sumpter) snuck in looking for his lost shadow. Coming in along with Tinkerbell (Ludivine Sagnier) his mischievous fairy friend, they only managed to get themselves into a bind waking Wendy in the process. After a brief introduction Peter had a brilliant proposition to bring Wendy with him back to Neverland. He's leading a pack of Lost Boys and they sorely need a mother-figure that would tell them lots of stories, look after them, and tuck them to their beds at night. Peter also agreed to her request to let her brothers tag along (lured with the promise of seeing mermaids, indians, and pirates). As it turns out, the magical place called Neverland turns out to be one big island playground where one big adventure happens after another. This was how author Barrie describes the place in his book:
...for the Neverland is always more or less an island, with astonishing splashes of colour here and there, and coral reefs and rakish-looking craft in the offing, and savages and lonely lairs, and gnomes who are mostly tailors, and caves through which a river runs, and princes with six elder brothers, and a hut fast going to decay, and one very small old lady with a hooked nose. It would be an easy map if that were all, but there is also first day at school, religion, fathers, the round pond, needle-work, murders, hangings, verbs that take the dative, chocolate pudding day, getting into braces, say ninety-nine, three-pence for pulling out your tooth yourself, and so on, and either these are part of the island or they are another map showing through, and it is all rather confusing, especially as nothing will stand still.

Of all delectable islands the Neverland is the suggest and most compact, not large and sprawly, you know, with tedious distances between one adventure and another, but nicely crammed. When you play at it by day with the chairs and table-cloth, it is not in the least alarming, but in the two minutes before you go to sleep it becomes very real. That is why there are night-lights.

The fantasy land resurrects with the return of its owner enabling his enemies, the pirates led by Captain Jas Hook (Jason Isaacs) and his able right-hand man, Smee (Richard Briers), to plan an attack using Peter's guests as his "chips." In the course of the battle, Wendy's attraction to Peter begins to grow and she certainly doesn't waste any time in letting him know about it. Surprised by this sudden forwardness by someone he only considered to be a friend, he reacts, "Why do you have to spoil everything? We have fun, don't we? I taught you to fly and to fight. What more could there be?" Wendy could only hold on a glimmer of hope that Peter also feels the same way before her heart was finally dashed to a million pieces later. Peter was and will always be the kid who'll never feel what it means to be a grown up.

The story's replete with symbolisms and subtle messages by the author wishing to hold on to the vivacity of lost youth. Like the actor playing both Mr. Darling and Capt. Hook, was this intended by the Director/Screenplay Writer to show the children (especially John and Michael)'s present fear of their father and the chance they would grow up to be as grouchy and stiff? Remember Mrs. Darling's explanation to her children that their couldn't be all that bad, "There are many different kinds of bravery. There's the bravery of thinking of others before one's self. Now, your father has never brandished a sword nor... nor fired a pistol, thank heavens. But he has made many sacrifices for his family, and put away many dreams." Intrigued, Michael asked, "Where did he put them?" "He put them in a drawer. And sometimes, late at night, we take them out and admire them. But it gets harder and harder to close the drawer... and he does. And that is why he is brave," answered their mother. It is this fear of putting away one's dreams when they grow up that makes some choose not to. What's the deal with Peter's constant forgetfulness? Is it a short span attention common to kids? And does Captain Hook's ever present fear (aside from the crocodile) of never, ever recapturing his youth drive his anger against Peter? Unwilling to face the fact that he's already "Old... Alone... Done for"? This fear, it seems, is personified by the large crocodile and sound of the ticking clock it swallowed (also note the presence of clocks everywhere in Neverland). Did the Captain find out, too late, that he could have chosen not to grow up if he wanted too? Despite his crew's tough facade, their ability to weather the toughest storms, inside they too looked for the affections of a mother (Mr. Barrie wished for the same all his life). But though, each and every boy could wish they could remain the same age as Peter Pan and play forever, a willingness to be trapped in such a situation could only result in tragic results. "I think it is your biggest pretend," countered Wendy. She almost wished for the same, but knowing in her heart of hearts, it wasn't meant to be. If old people face the sad possibility of being forgotten, so does those who persist in staying behind. Their father's breaking the wall of formality in the end signifies the departure from the past where embracing one's childhood past holds the key to being the adult kids could look forward to becoming.

* Click the link to read J.M. Barrie's classic, The Adventures of Peter Pan, in its entirety.
** Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.
Last night's meeting with my high school friends in Rockwell Center was funner than the usual. Aside from the usual and expected five people, we saw two more batchmates we haven't seen or heard from in more than a decade! The first one, Jason happened to be there with his family after watching a movie in the nearby Powerplant Mall. We didn't notice him at first until our batch president, Robin, saw him walking by and thought he looked familiar. We exchanged calling cards and updated on each other's occupations and lives before excusing himself for a while to buy some snacks for his kids. After continuing on with the topic on hand, Robin nudged me on the arm and told me to look at the group next table behind ours. I glanced a bit and that's when he asked me if I thought that one of them could be one of our long lost batchmates, Peter. I said it could be but I didn't dare to take a chance and call out his name. Robin asked the others if they thought it was one of our batchmates. They weren't too sure (we haven't seen the guy since second year high school) and they wouldn't also dare to call out his name for fear of embarrassing themselves.

We transferred seats soon after and confirmed his identity when we asked his friends when he went to the restroom. You could imagine his shock when we reintroduced ourselves to him. It's been like, what? Eighteen long years since we last saw each other and he had a lot of stories to share with us he practically left his group to join us in our table. We had a jolly good time reminiscing about the old days. We also talked about our other classmates, especially my good friend Jorge. And like the other times we got together, we don't get tired of hearing the same old stories and boisterous laughter brought on by the renewing of bonds filled the air. The others left one after the other till there were only the five of us left and since it was already late, we decided to call it a night and split. The others still decided to check out the party in the other part of the grounds while me and another friend went straight home.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Today's Foxtrot strip made my day. Totally!

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I had the most fun doing this strip. The idea was borne a couple of weeks prior to its creation, tweaking a script here and there and playing with the layout. Seeing that I myself am getting tired of the usual four panels, I expanded the joke to fit six panels and voila! The box word balloon and "YOW!" reaction were done as a tribute to Berke Breathed's Bloom County whose drawing style and humor inspired me to embark on a career as a comic strip artist. *sob!*

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Would you believe me if I told you I watched The Passion of the Christ again tonight? Strange as it may sound but I have had experiences in watching personal favorites on the big screen more than twice. Like Back to the Future 2 and Titanic which I watched a lot more than usual (trust me, don't ask).

I didn't cry as much when I did the last viewings but I still cringed at the crucifixion scenes. The squishy sounds and the crunching sounds were still a little too much for me. I also tried to catch as many nuances inserted in the scenes as possible and trying to recall where in the Bible the scenes and dialogues were lifted from. Like the line "Hail to the Wormy King!" or when he was called "King of Worms," although not exactly found in the New Testament, was taken from a much older reference. I'd like to watch this again on the big screen later. Hopefully.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Do the words opine, perspicacity, bloviating, and pithy sound familiar to you? If they are then you're a Bill O'Reilly fan like me! Watching the FOX Report and the O'Reilly Factor has become a breakfast staple with the family (right after my TV-controlling sister leaves for work). I like Bill O'Reilly's no "bloviating" stance with his interviewees and issues be it the media elite, coverage of the Iraqi War, culture wars, answering Mel Gibson's critics, etc. He's also got witty comebacks for his critics which makes me snicker and laugh. This guy's one of a kind! Although of course I can understand it if allowing for his opinions make for the most unpopular decisions one could ever make, but it's really hard not to disagree with him. I'm sure he'd be a great talkshow host but as it is he's better off blowing down excuses and seeming stupidity of those with the mind of lemmings.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

As you can see I'm still in the maroon of health

I sometimes think how great it would be to be a kid again and enjoy the holidays the way kids nowadays are being pampered left and right. Today they're being feted with chocolate eggs, egg hunts, and bunny rabbits complete with breakfast buffet. Maybe it's the way parents live out their fantasies of being kids again so they pamper their kids with these. I had a bunny rabbit once when I was a kid. Two of them in fact, gray and orange. I was told they had kids but I can't remember that. That was the first and last time I had rabbits. When I started earning my own money I bought a pair of hamsters, two sets of guinea pigs, and two sets of mice. Not together of course. I actually did some experiments with the mice. Breeding experiments actually. Starting with a set of one male and two females I was able to breed them till they reached a population of 50 in one tank. The other tank contained a combination of pinto and gray mice and I was able to raise their number to also around 50 or maybe more. Having a mouse farm in my room's pretty fun. It's not smelly or anything since I'm able to clean both tanks regularly but it was pretty unusual. I had to give them away eventually when I started working. Later I heard their population was whittled away to practically zero owing to the lack of proper care.

Anyway, I treated myself to lunch at Tokyo-tokyo in Shangri-la to celebrate this holiday. That's where I took the picture happily musing the fact that maybe I am a mestizo since I normally turn dark brown sometime after being sunburned. Maybe a little bit more sunburn and I would be as red as the ice tea I was drinking. I'm now finishing the "West Side" strip I'll be submitting tomorrow. The lay-out's different from the usual four panels I do, something to look out for. Happy Easter everybody!

Saturday, April 10, 2004

We were woken up around six today (probably a little earlier than that) for our trip to Pagsanjan, Laguna. It's this historic town around two hours drive down south famous for its spectacular waterfall and the rapids one has to go through before seeing it among others. My mom had arranged a package tour with my older brother's churchmate, Alex. The guy specializes with these things and he has come up with a special package that includes a van with a driver, going up to the falls, lunch in his specially made floating gazebo, afternoon snacks, and driving us back up. If we were a little early in leaving he would have included a special tour of the country's National Hero, Jose Rizal's house in Calamba and a little side trip to nearby San Pablo City to watch a dog show. Hmmm... Not bad.

We arrived some two and half hours later since everyone in Manila was scrambling to the resorts dotting Laguna to salvage whatever precious time was left in the holiday. When we got there we entered this somewhat old house at the back of which was the river where the floating gazebo was situated. Ours was just one of the resorts dotting the riverbanks including one put up by a Korean for Koreans (which composed the bulk of tourists at the time). We were served some suman (sweet sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves like a mummy) and fresh yellow mangoes. These large mangoes were so perfectly yellow it was almost golden and the taste was perfectly balanced between tart and sweet making my mouth water just by looking at them.

One part of the floating gazebo where we stayed.

After some twenty minutes our bankeros arrived and the four of us were split into two boats, me and my sister in one and my dad and mom in the other. The one mistake that I made was to let my sister sit in front of me and because of a recent visit to the dermatologist, who advised her against harmful exposure to the sun, she brought this umbrella that kept blocking all the views on the way to the waterfall that would have made some great shots. But it wasn't a total loss, we changed seats halfway through our destination and the view was still as spectacular as ever making one realize that God spared no details in making everything so impressive even in isolated places where man rarely sets foot in. The trees growing on the side of the cliffs, the small plants carperting the ground and the fauna was just as I remembered them when I last went there as a kid. There were these unusual black dragonflies flying low over the waters of the river. They had black wings with luminous blue or gold parts in the center. I tried to take some pictures of these insects whenever they landed somewhere near our banca but they were skittish to every small movement making it impossible to do so. I haven't seen these in any other parts of the provinces we've been and it seems exclusive to this area alone.

Mom and dad enjoying the banca ride.

Hehehe... an irregular Vincent Van Gogh

Lifting and pushing the boats through the rocks

The bankeros went very hard at work whenever we passed by small passages between boulders and rocks and the presence metal bars wedged in between some of them, acting like steps whenever the way became steeper than usual, helped share the load unlike before. After one rest stop where we treated them to some sodas we finally arrived at the world famous Pagsanjan Falls.

Korean and Japanese tourists going to and from the falls

Spectacular view on the way back

I was the only one in our group to approach the falls. I wanted to for the longest time and quite an experience that was. Since I didn't bring a change of clothes with me, I took off my shirt, put the water jacket back on and just left my pants to get wet. Who cares? Right? I brought my digital camera with me and took shots of the approach, behind the falls and on the way back. Though I was alone in going towards the falls, we picked up a group of local tourists on the way back from behind it (apparently you could stay behind and swim around for a while behind the falls). The boatmen even stopped the raft underneath the rushing waters, the experience of which was like spending some time underneath a really hard rainstorm.

Approaching one of the few rest stops beside the river

Mmmm-mmm... Now that's what I call well done!

We went back right to the gazebo after that raft ride. We were told to hurry up to be able to avoid the traffic of tourists that could amount to two hours travel time if it got real bad. It was nearly lunch time and we couldn't wait to get out of the sun. Except for the straw hats which were provided for us (God bless their kind hearts!) we haven't got a prayer against the prickly sun which was turning all the exposed parts of our bodies reddish pink. Some thirty minutes later we finally arrived back at the gazebo where a hearty lunch of native cuisine was being served. There were a number of scrumptious grilled pla-pla (medium sized fresh water fish with a wide flat body), delectable grilled egglants, mildly sweet savory bagoong alamang (sauteed shrimp paste) topped with green sili, palatable kare-kare, choice chicken and pork barbecue, all the steaming rice we can eat, mouthwatering mussel soup, more of those exquisite mangoes, and succulent coconuts served in its own shell. Then we rested for about two hours before being served with tall refreshing glasses of halo-halo. After savoring our after dessert-dessert and taking in the view of the peaceful surroundings, we took our leave, thanked our servers profusely and started our way back home. By then the traffic wasn't as bad as it did when we traveled in the morning and we got home just in time before the sun set.

Friday, April 09, 2004

While most citizens of Metro Manila are out in the provinces visiting relatives, churches, listening or participating in the pasyon, witnessing the annual senakulo, or swimming in the beaches, we opted to stay home and watch DVDs. Earlier in the afternoon, me and my mom went to watch my dad participate in the local church parish's celebration of Good Friday. Being a Catholic Lay Minister, he and seven others were called upon to expound on the celebrated "Seven Last Words of Jesus." There were quite a few people inside the church building, listening to the preaching. Some of the other ministers peppered their talks with political messages, exhorting the people to vote wisely and junk candidates who sought to further their own agendas. I think it's all well and good to do that but hearing political reminders over and over again was getting a bit tiring. We left the scene after my dad's part, my mom dropped me off at the nearest Mini-Stop before going home. I haven't eaten anything and I was really craving for a Fatdog and some iced tea, after which I went home and ate my lunch.

Then I finally got to install the CD writer, cleaned up my memory disk and transferred half of the Photoshop files, mp3s, and documents into the blank CDs that I bought some days prior. When I finally finished with the files, I plopped down the den and watched one of my favorite movies, "While You Were Sleeping." Sandra Bullock was really in her element when she did that movie, she's charming and beautiful which really makes you wanna go up to her at the time and just sweep her off her feet. Then my sister followed that up with "Sixteen Candles" which I haven't yet watched in full. She's into teen movies like this one, Clueless, Bring It On, The Breakfast Club, etc. so I told her to look out for that other Molly Ringwald movie, "Pretty in Pink" which she's sure to like. I'll be going to bed soon since we're up for another out of town trip again tomorrow and we'll be leaving a lot earlier than we did yesterday.

* Speaking of fiestas this April, this German tourist site has the skinny on everyone of them, including those I haven't heard of before.
This being a Good Friday when Christians all over the world traditionally observe the sacrifice of Jesus some 2000 years ago I thought it would be a good idea to post some links providing a backgrounder regarding the travesty of justice over Jesus' trial, the severity of His execution, and undeniable facts surrounding His resurrection, as opposed to what other people think. Happy reading everyone!

Websites discussing the illegalities and technicalities of the court procedures that condemned Jesus to death:
Famous Trials: The Trial of Jesus (30 C.E.)
Jurist Legal Intelligence: The Trial of Jesus
Table Comparison for the Chronological Events of the Last 12 Hours of Jesus' Life
The Trial Of Jesus
The Theological Implications of the Trial of Jesus - Part 1 and Part 2
"The Trial Of Jesus" From A Judge's Point Of View
The Trial Of Jesus Christ: Facts, Events & Analyses
What Really Happened At The Trial Of Jesus?

Websites putting forth expert analysis and evidences to show just how painful the ancient mode execution by crucifixion was:
An in-depth description of the crucifixion from the viewpoint of a medical expert...
Christ's death on the Cross--serious, real, painful
Crucifixion: A Wikipedia Entry
Crucifixion In Antiquity: the evidence
History Channel: The Crucifixion
How did crucifixion kill?
How Jesus Really Died
Jewish Remains Give Clues on Crucifixion
Jesus' crucifixion was one of many carried out for state reasons
Lesson 1: Roman Practice
Medical Aspects of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ
Psalm 22: The View from the Cross

Websites discussing the evidences why the Resurrection was real and should not be ignored:
A Lawyer Examines The Swoon Theory
Does the Bible provide extraordinary evidence for Jesus' Resurrection?
Hoax? Myth? Or Reality? The Evidence For Jesus' Historical Resurrection
The No Tomb Theory - We Have a Tomb

Thursday, April 08, 2004

We woke up early morning today to go on an out-of-town trip since it's Maundy Thursday and, as such, there are only a few shops open today. We went to Latian Kay Parang Resort, an obscure place perfectly tucked away in the middle of nowhere in Bocaue, Bulacan. What we initially thought to be a resort as wonderfully developed as Island Cove down south in Cavite turned out to be not so. We had a lot of trouble finding it at first, what with their inky-dinky signs that were hard to follow, plus the place was totally decrepit. The place had potential but it was a sorry sight.

There were some people with kids enjoying the pool, walking and running around which was nice. After going around for a bit we settled inside this large "hut" with two floors (it's like a separate dining place right beside the Bocaue river). Here are some of the pictures I took of the mangrove growing on the river banks:

It was peaceful and except for my younger sister who kept complaining about the mosquitoes, we settled in quite nicely. There were some fishes swimming around but they weren't biting the bait we were dangling from the fishing rods the resort provided for us so I just watched some boats pass by and tried to read my book. After a while we had a hearty lunch and a very short rest period before heading home thinking we were better off playing with the dog and watching our newly bought DVDs.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

I must apologize for the discrepancy in the printed version and this final final version of the strip. I thought showing them houses in the background would be a good thing but then it was all in the mind. You have to admit those boganvillas in the background does a much better job in showing the kind of summer we have here in the country. I took a picture of my neighbor's garden early in the morning for that one.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.
After a lot of background research and reading through three comparison reviews I finally bought me own top o' the line external CD-R : The ASUS CRW-5232AS-U (52X/32X/52X CD-ReWriter)! It slices! It dices! It copies! It stands! It dances! It prances! It sings! It writes! It's white! Now if I could only figure out why the PC's not recognizing the presence of a new hardware...
I got to watch The Passion of the Christ for the third time last night and I was still blubbering like a baby all throughout the movie. I think I cried more unabashedly this time than the last two viewings. Az was watching it for the first time and it was seeing him all curled up in his seat even before the movie started. To prep him up for it before we entered, I told him to forget the technical stuff and the critiques he may have heard prior and just see it through the eyes of a witness to a very real situation. I guess it worked, afterwards he kept saying he got a mild headache from watching the violent scenes.

Afterwards we went out to the McDonald's beside the mall for a bite to eat and it was a great surprise seeing Lyndon enjoying a cup of coffee at the second floor. He didn't see us at first so I sneaked towards him and asked if I could take the vacant seats beside him. I wanted to see his reaction to complete strangers sharing his personal space (no biggie). Turns out he was already on his way home and it turned out to be a really good thing we all turned up at the place at the right time. We had a lot of talks about the movie, ideas for a new strip, and then some. Afterwards we transferred to Serg's Café to continue our spirited discussions eventually going home at around 1 a.m.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

I haven't yet met my friend Jorge's older brother, Joseph when this saw print in GLITTER Magazine during the mid-90s. I only based his likeness on the televised press conference back when he was holding the highest position in then President Ramos' "Presidential Commission on Youth Affairs". Also, the San Francisco trip was based on my memories about our first trip there in the latter part of the 80s.

Monday, April 05, 2004

I'm here...

"Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command," was one of the last instructions Christ gave His disciples during the course of their Passover meal and the movie The Passion of the Christ goes to great lengths to show us how great that love was. Far from the anti-Semitic messages critics were raging against even before watching it, Director Mel Gibson's movie doesn't point an accusing finger on any race for the horrible death of the Messiah (in fact it was Mr. Gibson's hand that held the nail and hammer to show that he too shared in the guilt and contributed as much to the Divine sacrifice). There were some minor additions to the story that were not found in the Gospel accounts designed to highlight the suffering but so far it does not pose any problems to the story. These scenes fall under the category of "what-could-have-beens" and one of the problems critics have been using to destroy Mr. Gibson's credibility. Personally I don't have anything against these changes or additions like the appearance of Satan in the garden of Gethsemane instead of an angel giving comfort to Jesus, or the appearance of a Jewish mother offering a clean cloth to wipe off Jesus' blood and sweat (she was unnamed in the movie so let's leave it at that), or the more-than-the-usual-involvement of Pilate's wife with this particular case, or Jesus being thrown off the bridge, or Judas being taunted by demons driving him to commit suicide, or Simon of Cyrene's hysterics when he was pushed to carry the cross, etc. These were harmless devices used to show us the flesh and blood side of characters from an otherwise ordinary narrative some two-thousand years ago. I also found it amusing and ironic how the media could suddenly cry foul and rally against what they deem to be gratuitous violence in the movie. Following on the heels of a movie that spilled more blood "for entertainment value" than this film the media subjected the whole production to a trial by opinion even before it was even finished, fueling an uncalled for panic from Jewish groups who feared a backlash from rabid "Christians" who'll start another blame game for murdering the Founder of our faith. Fortunately, all the hullabaloo from the secular sector of society merely served as bell toll to the people to line up and watch the movie. What was intended for evil turned out to be for good, throwing back the turd critics have been lobbing back at their faces. Here are some backgrounders to the characters highlighted in the film:

Jesus (Jim Caviezel), the central figure of the story is a sympathetic character but he also comes off as a strong individual despite his being betrayed, beaten with chains, choked with ropes, thrown off a bridge, falsely accused, humiliated, punched, spat upon, scourged, crowned with thorns, forced to carry almost a ton of wood, kicked, thrown rocks at, crucified, bones pulled out of their sockets, mercilessly mocked, and experienced hell with the separation of the Father from him as he took on all imaginable sins past, present, and future. He neither protested nor cried out in defense during all the torture he'd undergone. His silence and calculated response to his accusers showed him to be in control of the situation contrary to how it appears to most people. "My heart is ready Father… my heart is ready," went His short prayer right before the torture started. Actually He was all ready the moment He finished His prayer in the garden prior to his arrest and the appearance of the Holy Spirit prior to His interrogation by Pilate gave Him the grace to peacefully undergo the trials ahead by, he still braced himself from a greater temptation to lash out at his torturers or to call out an ever ready cavalry at his disposal. It's also interesting to note that though movie audiences were already cringing at the result of the beatings and torture Jesus had undergone by the time he was crucified, Mr. Gibson admits to toning down the recreated violence in the movie compared to what really happened to Christ who was so disfigured that he looked anything but human by the time He was crucified. Also despite what the others think that Jesus was crucified nude on the cross (patterned after Scorsese's Gnostic movie "The Last Temptation of Christ"), the movie was more faithful to the Gospel in showing that he was left with a loincloth on.

There were lots of things that Mary (Maia Morgenstern) did that I cannot understand at first, like wiping the blood off the floor after the scourging or even watching the whole proceedings from the arrest down to His death. But then again there are extreme situations that would call a loving mother not to abandon her child no matter what. Then as a disciple she had to summon as much courage and faith to try and understand that this was the summation of Jesus' mission here on earth. Her being a mother was affectively shown in the flashbacks interspersed in between scenes ("escape doors" Mr. Gibson calls them) from lovingly critiquing her son's work to helping Jesus up both when he was a child and as an adult when he seemed to have hurt himself when he fell. At the second instance it was her son who comforted her by directing her gaze to the future. She tried to keep her composure throughout the whole ordeal in understanding the fulfillment of the prophecy given to her, there were still those times when her mothering side couldn't help but reach out to her son and try to share in his pain. As she looked towards the audience towards the end of the film as she cradled the dead body of her son, her intent gaze seemed to say "This is what your sin has cost my son…" sparing no one from the collective guilt. Mary Magdalene (Monica Bellucci) and John (Hristo Jivkov) are two very faithful friends of Jesus who also stood by Him and His mother offering their watchful presence as a witness to his sacrifice. Mary Magdalene being the adulterous woman Jesus saved from the mob sometime earlier, showed her gratitude by being a loyal follower and faithful disciple of His, caring for his needs together with a small band of women from Galilee. When Jesus was sent to the High Priest's house she alone from the small group of followers found the courage to approach a couple of Roman guards and inform them about the cowardice of those involved by arresting a so-called fugitive under the cover of darkness. During the time when women's opinions didn't matter even in the court of law, her courage to verbalize and expose the loser mentality of local authorities speaks volumes about her. Although John escaped for fear of his life from Gethsemane he quickly made up for it by informing those closest to his Master about his arrest. He's the disciple closest to Jesus and even though he had the privilege of enjoying such close proximity to the Messiah it still did not spell any clear answer for him as to why his closest friend chose to go through such horrific treatment from his captors. In spite of everything he still stood quietly observing at the sidelines and giving comfort in whatever way he can to his two female companions. He was also the second Apostle next to Peter to investigate the empty tomb during that first Easter Sunday.

Another very loyal friend and faithful disciple of Jesus is Peter (Francesco De Vito) who tried very hard to defend his Master from being arrested. True there were two weapon carriers among his disciples at the time but it was only Peter who brought it out, trying to buy enough time for his Master to run away with the other disciples in the dark. He only stopped fighting at the insistence of Jesus to drop his sword. At the time he also couldn't believe how Jesus could still find the opportunity to heal one of His enemies when clearly they were out to arrest and kill Him. The character of Peter is an interesting one (he's my favorite among all the Apostles), along with James and John, he was part of Jesus' inner circle and privy to more miracles and wonders than their companions. He's also brash and quick to the draw often eating his pride and habitually finding himself trying to pull his foot out of his mouth. But he's also the risk taker of them all. Where other disciples would shrink off he would race to the forefront never mind what the others think him. Of course, it wasn't Jesus alone who took notice of this character but so did Satan who Jesus revealed earlier had asked special permission to subject his faith to the test, but was assured that he would prevail and after which to look after the others. When he saw that Jesus allowed himself to be arrested, he followed Him to Caiaphas' house and probably waited for an opportunity to spring him from His enemies' hands. In this instance three times his loyalty was put to the test and three times he also failed. Teary eyed and shocked by the beatings and punches inflicted on his Master, he kept his eyes on Jesus but at the same time denied from knowing or keeping His company. When Jesus' and Peter's eyes locked, the full realization that he reneged on his promise earlier that he would never leave Jesus' side even to prison and death hit him no amount of comfort could lift him up from the deep hole of remorse that he has dug himself into. Contrary to popular opinion, the character of Judas (Luca Lionello) in this movie was quite sympathetic. Although the reasons for his decision to betray Jesus was not shown, his regret over his actions made people wish that he shouldn't have done what he did when he took his own life. The reason for his betrayal was a simple one, initially he was happy with the arrival of the Messiah but he like the other Jews he had a different expectation for the kind of Messiah they were waiting for. They were expecting the kind of Savior that would lead a revolt against the oppressive Roman Empire and establish the old glory of the Israelites. But when that failed to materialize, his disappointment drove out all respect he had for Jesus and sold him out to his enemies to do with as they wish. He didn't take into account the innocence of the man he was betraying until it was too late. Like Peter, he too was remorseful over his actions and wished he could have undone everything, but unlike Peter, he was lost forever when he hung himself outside the city. Things could have turned out differently if he waited, but then again he was already fated to die outside the grace of God.

The High Priest, Caiaphas (Mattia Sbragia) and the other elders of the Jewish faith were already afforded with lots of opportunities to cease and desist with their mockery. First of these was when half their number, including Nicodemus (Olek Mincer), raised their voices against the great injustice, he and his cohorts silenced their opponents by throwing them out of the place if they hadn't already walked out of the place. Other opportunities came when they watched the pitiful figure of Jesus being scourged, when they watched him tired and groaning under the weight of the cross at Golgotha, and when he looked into the questioning eyes of a grieving mother. Each time he chose to harden his heart and look away. Since the start he was already determined to get rid of this popular figure who was threatening their status quo over the Jews. Never mind if they violated their office as priests in the process of doing so. Though he was last shown crying at the destruction of the Holy of Holies part of their temple, the Bible shows him unrepentant as ever when he and his coterie of elders asked Pilate for additional guards at the tomb just in case the Apostles get the funny idea of stealing Jesus' corpse and some weeks later when he tried to silence Peter and the other Apostles from proclaiming the Gospel of the resurrected Jesus at Pentecost before a crowd of thousands (you can also read an interesting tidbit regarding the discovery of his ossuary). Roman Governor Pontius Pilate (Hristo Naumov Shopov) was not too pleased with the fact that that he was assigned to look over the backward province of Galilee. History has shown him to be a royal jerk right from the moment he arrived till the day he was asked to execute a Jew claiming kingship and Godship. He couldn't be more interested in a case like this but the way the High Priests and their followers riled over this quiet man the thought that there must be something more to him than meets the eye. But compared to the Pharisees, the Sanhedrin, and King Herod, Jesus was more considerate with His answers to him. Though those answers didn't help much in understanding what the problem the High Priests were fussing about it made him question his grasp of the truth and rethink everything he knows to be true. When he asked his wife Claudia (Claudia Gerini) if she recognized the truth if someone spoke to her about it, her reply was insightful, "If you will not hear the truth, no one can tell you." That line is also a warning to those who are merely curious and are not out to seek the truth for themselves like Pilate did.

The Roman Centurion Abenader (Fabio Sartor) is also considerate and somewhat sympathetic fellow in contrast to most of those under his command and what not. Or maybe, what I construed to be sympathy on his part was just plain practicality? Just the same he has been remiss with his job twice that could cost an ordinary human being his life (good thing their prisoner wasn't an ordinary man). Maybe, like Pilate, he's also sick and tired of his surroundings and its people but he had a job to do with no questions asked. Still, after all the years of experience in the battlefield, there was something about this man that tugged at his heart. That something he only realized after the events following Jesus' death on the cross. The actions of the Temple guards sent by the Pharisees and the Sanhedrins were unusually cruel. I'm not sure if there were records of them treating their prisoners like so but the Bible mentions in passing the treatment their men did to Jesus. The Roman soldiers shown being drunk and all while doing their job shows a lot about themselves. First of all, why would their commanding officer allow them to drink on the job? And why was Abenader allowing it? Far from being an excuse for them to perform their job (which, I must say, they thoroughly enjoyed), it shows a downward spiral for the condition of this provincial outpost. The Governor was not being followed and in fact was openly mocked by Caiaphas (to the surprise of Abenader who looked to Pilate for his reaction), the ruling religious leaders where still king despite the presence of the Roman authorities. What's also inferred was the fact that these two peoples obviously hated each other's guts. They only found a common ground just this one time. There's also an interesting trivia about the line "Hail the King of Worms!" and "Hail! Wormy King!" being not exactly mouthed by the Roman Soldiers in the Praetorium. Mel Gibson upped the insults by including a description of the suffering Messiah from the Psalms.

And if the soldiers and Temple guards were unusual with their cruelty, so were most of the crowd gathered during His trial and in and around Pilate's house, these I call Crowd no. 1. This set of crowd were mostly composed of the servants, staff, and followers of the Pharisees and Sanhedrins (who by the way also united this one time because of a problem). The leaders or those who incited the crowd were shown being paid an unseen amount of money to provide false testimonies and lots and lots of "yes men." Some of the others who later joined them were probably influenced by rumors scattered by that initial group, perverting their facts disappointing some of those who gathered around some five days ago when Jesus first entered Jerusalem. While Crowd No. 2, including a couple of sympathetic soldiers like Cassius (Giovanni Capalbo) and Malchus (Roberto Bestazzoni), whose ear was severed and restored at the beginning of the movie, composed both of those who believed that Jesus was a Holy man, the promised Messiah, and/or commiserating bystanders who were taken aback by the sight of a half-dead bloody figure carrying his own instrument of death to Golgotha. These were the crowd Jesus' enemies were avoiding when they planned their arrest very early in the morning. And last, but not least, Simon of Cyrene (Jarreth J. Merz) who was initially disgusted with the idea of being implicated with the procession of the condemned. He didn't know what the heck was going on and he was there to celebrate the Passover along with other visiting Jews. There wasn't anything the first time his and Jesus' eyes met (people usually turned away ashamed from His gaze), the second time around he had enough of the mockery and beating some of his fellow Jews and Roman soldiers were giving the condemned man. He couldn't stomach the fact that here was some quiet defenseless guy already exhausted and bloodied on his way to being crucified and there were these people laughing, shouting, whipping and kicking him on the groin? During the third stop when Jesus fell exhausted to the ground unable to go on, he whispered words of encouragement to egg Him on: "Almost there... We're almost near the place... almost done." This last part struck me the most. I'm sure Simon didn't know who he was helping at the time but it was prophetic. In part it was like saying, "Hang on with me here, you're almost done with your mission. Just a few more steps." Then with their arrival at the place and when their eyes met for the last time, something struck Simon in his heart and he left weeping bitterly. It's also interesting to note that his sons, Alexander and Rufus were mentioned by Mark in his Gospel because they eventually became prominent members of the early Church.

In conclusion I must confess I was both surprised and heartened with the reactions to the film. Some were disappointed with the small bits of situations not found in the Bible, some where thankful it changed their lives, some where brought back to God, some rationalized away the violence, and some where apathetic to it. But one thing's sure, with the timely release of this film there's no day like today to start reconsidering what the message of this film did with regards to your faith.

* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.
** This great Italian website has lots of pictures from the set, costumes, cast and crew of this movie.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Here are only four of the myriad designs of palaspas available outside parishes today, Palm Sunday.

I only regret I wasn't able to avail the other designs because of time constraints and the question of proximity of the palaspas sellers. The ones shown above are the most popular and common variety of those available almost everywhere (some of the great testaments to the creativity of the Filipino). There were other palm fronds the Roman Catholic faithful where lugging about but I have no idea where they bought it.

These are the vendors selling them fronds outside the local parish church. They sell these things for ten pesos a pop. Not bad a deal actually.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Big day today with countless kids and anime geeks but I must confess I wasn't really excited about it as the others were. In the first place I'm Animax Channel deprived so I have the right to be a sort of a scrooge here, and second, ever since anime became such a really big thing with folks around here the novelty behind the idea started slipping away. It's not that big a deal for me anymore unlike before. Still my curiosity got the better of me so I agreed to meet the others in Glorietta Mall where the said event was being held the whole day. I got there around 4 p.m. and joined the others outside Starbucks waiting for the outcome of the cosplay contest.

After a while though Az, me, and Lyndon took off and joined the fray downstairs with the other kids (Haha!). After surveying the crowd we tried our chance at the entrance to the convention itself. It was cordoned off and judging by the size of the horde inside the gatekeepers were very picky with the number of people they were allowing to enter at the time. We squeezed ourselves near the front and luckily enough we were able to get in. With the exception of Lyndon, who gave up waiting after a while and parked himself in a nearby café. Here are some pictures from the con:


The crowd was altready starting to thin out by this time.

Seven Shots of Wisdom performing with all git out

Careful... careful...

It's the attitude. Aight?

That's us with the birthday-bot, Astroboy.

That's right, robot celebrate their brithdays too and this was no ordinary bot. This particular individual started the anime craze in Japan in the 1960's. I'm not sure though why he has eyelashes (Guffaw!). What I really enjoyed earlier today was the performance of 7 shots. They were really bad and they were kickin! Fil-Ams are really fascinating to watch whenever they perform on stage. I should have gotten their autograph or something after their performance. I also enjoyed the fact that I had a lot of freebies like pendant pens, Animax posters, a balloon, and some others. Az and me met up with Lyndon again after the con and we all went home tired but happy.

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