Thursday, September 30, 2004

I'm aiming higher this time for the next gadget purchase, like something along the lines of a laptop. And not just any laptop, mind you. I'm setting my sights on getting a sleek black laptop with a gazillion gigabytes of harddrive memory, a huge monitor, wireless network interface card so I could update my blog outside the house (like say, while sipping a Starbucks Grande sized hot chocolate in Greenbelt 3), with a CD/VCD/DVD burner/player combo , long lasting battery, the works!!! With that kind of mobile technology at my disposal I could take digital pictures and upload them on the net real time! That way I could also write stories while waiting (I prefer the cleanliness of the PC rather than the messy pen and paper) and play ambient mp3 tunes while doing so. Yup! I'm putting this down as one of my goals for next year. Maybe come Christmas I'd be able to afford the top o' the line model. Hehehe... Wow!

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

This was borne out of an idea for a joke I said to my younger sister some weeks back. No, she doesn't have a crush on any of the queer guys but she did have a big crush on Duran Duran's pretty boy Nick Rhodes when she was still a wee kid. Girls having a crush on effeminate-looking guys is one thing that's not too far fetched (Taiwanese boyband invasion anyone?) but having a big crush on an openly effeminate guy is something I get quite a kick out of.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Mmmm... fish!

A friend from college invited me to watch Open Water after scoring a free access to the advanced screening. Having read about the account and watched the interview of indie director Chris Kentis in the Today Show earlier this year, I pretty much had an idea what to expect from the movie. To say that this movie is something comparable to Steven Spielberg's Jaws movie is something that's really off the mark. Like the last movie I've watched, this film was inspired by a true story of two divers who were accidentally left behind during their diving vacation at the Great Barrier Reef in 1998 (see story below). A lot of people are put off by the idea of watching a couple squabble in the middle of the sea for one and a half hours and I would be too but if that would be all I could expect from this movie. The squabbling is only a minor point in the whole film and it's only a natural reaction if you were left in a deep hole with somebody else. After all, left to your own devices you would want to have a scapegoat to put all the blame on. But halfway through the movie, I thought this wasn't as accurate as it was portrayed. If you were stranded in the middle of the wilderness like the top of a snowy mountain, a desert island, a forest, or in this case, in the middle of the ocean wouldn't you begin to ponder your existence? Wouldn't you begin to look back at the things you could have done and shouldn't have done and finally, won't your mind automatically turn towards God (or His existence if you're an atheist or if he cares about your situation, if you're an agnostic)? This last part was also sorely lacking in the movie Cast Away. There they were stuck in a situation they were helpless to do something about and while they did go over the four other stages of grief, they conveniently skipped over the bargaining stage. I mean, what were they thinking?! This is somewhat UNlikely and UNthinkable given the fact that they were about to face the great beyond and their Creator and they never even once thought of calling out to God to extend their lives by sending somebody to rescue them in exchange for say a changed life? Right?

Given a small budget of $130,000 the director and producer managed to come up with a fairly good movie. It has the markings of another indie movie that also made it big without the jumpy screenshots that made me want to hurl inside the theater. From what I can remember during the Today Show interview there were only four people shooting on location in the sea (two actors, director, and camera man). In the footage they've shown, the camera man was safely contained inside a shark cage to get the requisite underwater shots with the real sharks. There were some slow scenes in parts of the movie and there were truly terrifying moments where all we could hear are the sobs and screams of the lead actress and not much else. These were almost the same elements that made other scary movies truly terrifying. It was a good movie and you should catch it while it's still showing, but it's okay just in case you weren't able to. Skip it from your DVD watchables list as there's not too many scenes in the movie to justify this exercise.

Lost at sea: Tom and Eileen Lonergan

I read about the true story of the husband and wife who were accidentally left behind in a scuba diving expedition sometimes late last year and read about the extensive account of the event only after the movie. What happened was a result of pure neglect and unbelievable oversight on the part of those involved. The said event happened fairly recently, January 25, 1998 in Australia. Tom and Eileen Lonergan were on a three month holiday after spending a total of three years in the island country of Tuvalu and Fiji as part of the Peace Corps. The side trip to Australia was one of the countries they want to vacation to before they head back home to America.

They boarded a 26-passenger boat, the Outer Edge in Port Douglas near Queensland that were to take them to the ribbon reefs, some 40 miles offshore. There were various accounts of what had happened but inavariably the boat's skipper, Geoffrey Nairn, had mixed up the number of tourists and adjusted the head count to a complete count. Nairn only noticed the couple's personal belongings in the Outer Edge's lost-property bin two days later. Alarmed by the situation he checked with the hotel if the couple had returned. With no trace of their room being occupied the last couple of days, a five-day search began with no results. Several months later a fisherman 100 miles north of the site found a dive slate which records their thoughts as dawn broke that morning. In a wobbly scrawl faded by months in the water, Tom Lonergan had written:
"[Mo]nday Jan 26; 1998 08am. To anyone [who] can help us: We have been abandoned on A[gin]court Reef by MV Outer Edge 25 Jan 98 3pm. Please help us [come] to rescue us before we die. Help!!!"
Along with other clues that surfaced like Eileen's wetsuit, inflatable dive jackets marked with Tom and Eileen's names, along with their tanks - still buoyed up by a few remnants of air - and one of Eileen's fins, various speculations began to surface but with two things certain: shark attack was out of the question and the probability of dehydration was a big factor in their eventual demise. The news about this a tragic accident spread far and wide spelling disaster for the Queensland dive industry. Geoffrey Nairn was tried for manslaughter in November 1999, and was acquitted; his company, Outer Edge Dive, did not fair as fortunately as it was fined after pleading guilty for negligence. It was closed down shortly.

Eileen's father, John Hains, says he doesn't hold any grudge against Nairn or the Outer Edge's crew in a recent interview. "I don't have any hard feelings against anybody, because it was an accident," he says. His only disappointment is that among all the equipment washed up on the shores of north Queensland, there was never a trace of his daughter's body. "It leaves a big hole in you to lose your kid, that's part of your life. I wish they had found them, so we had something. I suppose we have the Great Barrier Reef. They're part of that." (as reported by CDNN)

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

I met with my friends Agong, Clarissa, and Jo at Cinnabon earlier today to talk about a big project. What I initially thought to be a short meeting stretched over to almost seven hours because of we had a lot of catching up to do with regards to some personal matters. All throughout that time my mind was wandering back to the house where I left two starving dogs waiting for their dinner. If they were the type to receive daily wages for watching the house while we're gone I guess they would have gone out to eat. After the meeting I almost ran back home and greeted warmly with barks, running around and some jumping. Guess they clean forgot about the long hours by then.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Body language is key

This is part of the thumbnails I did for next week's comic strip. I normally do one at the time but with the deluge of ideas I think it would be a good thing to submit two this week. For this particular feature I did some research regarding "gay-speak." The reason for this is that having these characters speak according to who they are will not only create certain credibility but also present something funny in the absence of a punchline or a weak one. I'm also making Joan's character speak colegiala taglish which was spoken to a great degree by the debutantes and young hoity-toity set during the 80s. Reviving it in the strip would be a lot of fun.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

It was a busy, busy day today. Been a long time since I planned a full day all for myself which is good since I was able to pace everything resulting in an exhausting but fulfilled day. I went to my high school alma mater right after the Sunday service in Galleria planning to take some pictures I would use as a background to Wednesday's West Side strip. I wish it could always be like this but I'm still grateful the jokes and creativity keeps on flowing. I was supposed to go yesterday but a couple of things got in the way. I wish having the elements of the strip down pat, from the dialogue and location to deciding what the characters would be doing at the time to how the view would look like inside the panels comes naturally. But going back to my high school, I've been thinking about some reasons why I'm so attached to it even after all these years and I came up with three. First, I spent half of my life in that school and whatever experiences, whether good or bad, embarrassing or extremely good, I had in there made me who I am today; second, it was there that I've met one of the wackiest, most loyal, most enduring batchmates I have ever seen in my entire life. What surprises me the most about all this is that they will prove your first impressions wrong given a decade or so. Those who I thought had the easiest time in school (by way of academic subjects and such) doesn't seem to give our batch a second look after graduating while those who didn't care about the school or our batchmates are now part of those who try to ensure that we keep in constant contact with each other in keeping the friendship alive (including with those they bullied before). The third reason would be because of the religious background I got in that school. But no, I'm not religious. But the religious order of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) made sure that as long as we were in that school church would be part of our daily lives. So we had First Friday Masses, song practices, morning prayers during assembly, prayers before and after break time, prayers before starting an academic subject, class sponsored midweek masses, SDB brothers and priests joining us in our games during recess and lunch, and opening one chapel during these same times in case somebody wants to pray. Of course there's a certain percentage of the student population that resents these interruptions but it did wonders for me. Then again, I wasn't part of any of the stereotyped groups in school back then. I wasn't part of the bullies, I wasn't part of the nerds, I wasn't part of the pranksters, I wasn't part of the sporty, I wasn't part of those C.A.T. officers in training, or anything else. Most of the time I defied convention by going with one group that is composed of the respected and ignored. Some other times I would be just by myself and blended in the background. Some of these times I would either stay in the Library, sit in the sidelines watching people play basketball, or sit in the open chapel staring at the statues. It's inside these chapels that I see the only tangible form of fine artwork in the entire school. Remind me to tell you someday how I got started in art through the religious system.

After taking the needed pictures in school, I next went to Fully Booked in Powerplant Mall. I didn't get to browse that much the last time I went there so I thought I'd pass by and read a couple more books for a few hours. Population inside the bookstore was almost equally divided in half between adults and kids which is a really good thing. Kids need to start early in their reading and the way this bookstore and Powerbooks are doing their part in providing a carpeted area conducive to reading is something that's praise-worthy and should be emulated by others. I started for home around 5 pm to feed the dogs and to turn the garage light on. I also stopped by to rest up a bit before going out again to watch a movie. Well I did and I walked out of it halfway through. The movie in question is Exorcist: The Beginning. It wasn't because I thought the movie sucked to high heavens (although I wouldn't completely disagree with that view) but rather because of the unnerving sense that the movie's delving into a subject they don't completely understand. I've been through reading about the occult and almost experimented with powers I don't understand many years before I found God and I do know what it's like to be creeped out. I regretted my decision to watch that movie thinking that I could have watched that Kate Hudson starrer instead. I'll do watch it eventually and since I thought it's too early to go back home I went around the record stores (saw some 12" 80s new wave vinyl, some of it rare) and bought an oldie Filipino Christmas album. Playing songs from this album's become quite a tradition so it was all well and good that I was able to get my hands on one.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Nap time after a heavy lunch

I did this quick sketch in De La Salle with the other guys while sitting around waiting for nothing in particular. It was one of those "I'm in the right mood to draw something real good" which rarely happens and it was a good thing I had my sketch pad and pencils with me. I planned to ink this when the same mood strikes but after looking at this over a period of time I decided not to. I like the roughness of raw pencil sketches so I'll just leave it as it is. I did, however, color it in Photoshop partly because I want to practice my pen and tablet sk33lz and partly because I want to practice coloring figures using gradiating tones.

Friday, September 24, 2004

My parents and younger sister are now on their to Russia to pay my diplomat brother a visit. My brother, who's currently stationed at the Philippine Embassy in Moscow could only afford to give out two visa applications to our parents and he managed to give my sister an entry by listing her under his employ. They'll be staying there for a whole month. Though the thought of staying in a huge continent near the North Pole does have its appeal (being landlocked to other European countries doesn't hurt too) I put off the thought of being envious of the opportunity from my mind. But if given the opportunity to fly there, the first thing I would do is to tour famous gravesites like the Lenin Mausoleum in the middle of the Red Square, St. Petersburg where a whole gaggle of Russian royalty are buried including the place where Peter the Great's son, Alexis is buried. This last one is the most interesting of all, because according to the Travel Channel's account Alexis was ordered buried by his father under the church stairs after his execution so that people will step over his grave (thus humiliating him) forever. That's why I like going to countries rich in history like Prague, Austria, Vienna, Florence, Rome, and others. Although, if you were to ask me what country I'd want to visit right now I'd say it would be a toss between Ireland and Japan.

In the Emerald Isle I'd like to have the opportunity to see, touch, smell and generally experience the Irish countryside, talk to people and learn the accent. I'd like to sip a bit of Guinness to satisfy my curiosity about its taste. I'd like to know what battered, deep-fried Mars chocolate bar tastes like (I think this one's in Scotland but it's still available throughout the whole British Empire), what it feels like to go back-packing, hiking and hitching a ride at the back of horse-drawn carriages and visiting taverns, to stand before medieval castles and learn about their rich culture and history. As for Japan, I like the craziness of it. People dress up the way they want to without anyone bothering them about it. I like to get ahold of obscure anime and manga and not feel like I'm following a trend, I want to eat shelves of sushi, sashimi, tempura, and gallons of miso soup. I want to take a dip in the hot springs of Aso and see the macaque monkeys of Oshima Island doing the same. I want to watch their festivals and experience the joys of having a picnic under the blooming cherry trees. Those would be really perfect.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

One of the funny and quirky facts about teenage high school people is that they get a lot of crushes. This after all is the time when hormones start knocking and banging the doors to our noggins and romantic love (or at least the concept of it) is such a wonderful novelty. I like the way how Anne reacts and h ow she's reduced to a squealing giggling school girl who can't help but tell one of her best friends about her latest discovery. Who she has a crush one will be revealed in next week's installment (Sorry if the previous post caused a bit of confusion).

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Front and back cover

I got myself an original Nonoy Marcelo book from the Greenhills tiangge earlier this afternoon. The book is a collection of his earlier strips from the year 1965 and his imminent style is still in its infancy. At the time he's yet not known by his nickname but rather his full name (Severino) and signs his works with plain "Marcelo". Though there are splotches on the cover of the book the inside pages are still in good condition with neither a tear nor any missing page. Introduction was done by the late Don Alejandro Roces, National Artist of the Philippines for literature and acknowledged to be the best Filipino author of comic short stories. This series was the first comic strip Nonoy Marcelo did before moving on to "Tisoy" and eventually "Ikabod" where he found great renown. Truly this book is a priceless collector's item.
And I got it for only 100.00 Php or less than $2.00!!! Nyahahahar!!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Stayed home after half a day's walk through the malls accompanying my mom for some last minute shopping for their trip to Moscow on Friday. Strangely though although we only went through two malls I'm more exhausted now than going through the buying binge by myself. Case in point in the difference guys shop from the girls is that guys waltz into the malls, go directly to the store they've already planned to go to, grab the item, and head to the cashier all under five minutes tops. Then if there are still some time left they'd go window shopping for gadgets that would tickle their fancy. While girls would plan to buy one item but the minute they go inside the mall or store they would be distracted by other items on the way (long deliberate comparative shopping) that by the time they buy whatever it is they want to buy a couple of hours had already passed. This explains why girls shouldn't drag guys around whenever they go shopping. But this doesn't mean that don't love my mom. I love her very much, I just wished she made her mind half the time so we could have done more and avoided needless walking in such a small space. We didn't push through with the plan to watch a movie, opting instead to watch one of the DVDs we have at home.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Dean Alfar, Kestrel Studio's big boss and co-editor of the graphic novels Siglo: Freedom and the upcoming Siglo: Passion, has posted a couple of preview pages of the upcoming second Siglo graphic novel along with some flattering reviews of artworks that I did along with Jeremy Arambulo's and Gerry Alanguilan's. Thought it would be fun to post a comparison of the featured pages with the thumbnails:

I don't know if the notes could be read without a magnifying glass but the differences between the original idea and the final lay-out is already apparent.

I adjusted the spaces right around their heads for the dialogue and word balloons. You can read the story when the book comes out some months from now. I took pictures inside my late grandmother's house in Malolos, Bulacan and used it for the background. My uncle's living there now and hopefully we'll still get to keep it. After all my brothers, sister, and various cousins still have a lot of childhood memories clinging inside it.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

We had a full day of shopping in Greenhills. On the way there I thought of the article I read in a newspaper a week ago how we're turning out to be a tiangge culture right after Bangkok and Hong Kong. Already there's a new tiangge near SM Megamall with a more permanent location now being built to rival that of Greenhills. I'm not sure if the former's going to do things the way the latter does, which is to have a short break in which to shuffle the merchants and bring in some new merchandise thereby raising the appeal of the whole place further by constantly offering new stuff to novelty hungry consumers. But this time we're not in it for the sheer enjoyment of looking for new things but rather to pick up some new items that my parents and sister are bringing with them to Moscow on Friday. We bought some new barongs for my brother (who's working there), they tired to look for jackets, and unheard of Asian movies on DVDs. Speaking of these DVDs there's this one nook where they sell these said movies including film classics from the 1930's and 40's! You'll not only see Hollywood movies starring Shirley Temple, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Audrey Hepburn, etc. but also middle eastern and asian movies from the same decades! And they're selling it for the price of a song! I picked an old movie titled You Can't Take It with You (1938) which I can still remember watching on TV back in the 80s. At the time I didn't what the title was but I could still remember the scenes and the actors and I thoroughly enjoyed it I vowed to myself I would be getting myself a personal copy (I didn't get to tape it on betamax at the time) so this kinda even things out. My sister also got herself a new phone after looking through different stores before going to SM Megamall to drop me and my mom off for lunch before going to her appointment. After eating I scanned through the graphic novels and Bibles at Powerbooks before joining my mom at the Surplus Shop to look for some winter jackets she would be bringing with her (the prices of which were waaaaay below the price of them new branded jackets in Greenhills). Then we looked for the toy my sister asked us to buy as a gift for her friend's sister's baby whose baptism was happening at the time. The bad thing about it was most of the items listed on the registry (I didn't know you could register for gifts at this big toy store) were out of stock so I was forced to stand for long periods while the store attendants looked for the items falling within the prescribed budget I chose (anything below P300 or $6 will be fine). By this time me and my mom were so exhausted we looked forward to going home. I'm not sure if we're stll going to see a movie later but it would still be okay if we won't. Anyway I feel I already filled up my gimik quota for the day.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

I never really liked the Baby Blues strip. For me it's just one of those strips I pass over just to see what the "competition" has come up with for the day. But all that has changed when I spent some time reading the newest collection down at Fully Booked in Powerplant Mall earlier today. Turns out to be one hilarious title with the character parents trying to survive the day without any hitch (if possible). My favorite character has got to be Zoe, the loud, obnoxious first born daughter of the Darryl and Wanda McPherson. She bullies her little brother, Hammie, around and demands her way with her parents. She calls herself with a very long title, that I now forget, that firmly establishes the truth about her position in the MacPherson household.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Click to enlarge

The Order Of The Stick was introduced to me by my friend, Lyndon, some months ago and I've never stopped reading their hilarious adventure from that moment on. You can read the latest strip and browse through the archives here.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

We arrived from the seminar held by reknowned author John C. Maxwell at the PICC earlier. It was a whole day affair which started a some time past 8 in the morning and ended around 5:30 p.m. We went there real early to avoid the rush hour traffic and thankfully there wasn't any traffic but we were held up along with thousands of other folks at the registration area. We spent some thirty minutes there before a supervisor mercifully announced that we didn't need the ID to get inside the venue, we just need to present our ticket to be able to get in (I was beginning to pity the people behind the counters who were being shouted at and being the receiving end of some rude remarks). After getting into the conference hall there were some difficulty finding our seats due to the fact that the ushers were still somewhat unfamiliar with the assigned seat sections. Good thing the head manager of the organizers apologized profusely right before introducing Dr. Maxwell (we all melted and said "aaaawwww!!!") and starting the seminar on the right foot.

Dr. Maxwell is a natural speaker and he engaged the audience right from the start by introducing himself and asking that we do the same. This sounds too simplified and I wish you could have been there to get the whole effect. It's more of the personal approach to the discussion peppered with entertaining anecdotes and just the right amount of humor that kept us listening to him. On his part he was taken aback by the fact that everyone was taking notes and this was a wonderful surprise to him. My brother explained to me later that most of the audience in the U.S. doesn't jot down notes which is more of a problem because we all know that those ideas that we don't write down are forgotten quite quickly. Here are some I pictures I took before the camera's battery conked out on me:

"My name is John. I'm your friend."

He spoke in a sure and deliberate manner you can't help but listen.

Here he was recounting the

Even nuns lapped up his words

I think he was ennumerating his second or third point here

He based his talking points on his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and though he aimed to discuss all 21 laws he only managed to discuss only so much. After lunch we were regalled by Robert Seña with a song titled "Our Father/I Believe" that he performed so well and with a voice so powerful that Dr. Maxwell couldn't help but be awe-inspired by what he heard. He requested another song and he also called onto the stage Robert's wife and manager, Isay Alvarez. He had no idea who he was talking to at first but when Dr. Maxwell heard that the wifey also sang (they were part of the original cast of Miss Saigon) he said that he wouldn't mind hearing them sing together and pushing his talk time later. I forgot the title of the song they did but Dr. Maxwell was so impressed that he personally invited them to his office in Atlanta, Georgia to perform for his office staff. After that last performance and before he continued with the seminar he told them to give their contact numbers and email address so they could get in touch with each other (you could read more about the Mr. and Mrs. Seña here). He also told us a surprise not long after with the announcement that he was going to record one of his audio study sessions in that seminar which will be distributed to all Maximum Impact members throughout the United States. This was the first time he recorded one of his sessions out of the U.S. and it was really a privilege to be part of it. He enjoyed his time so much here speaking before a convention hal full of Filipinos that he stated in his recording that he hopes that he'll be able to come back soon. The seminar finished around 6:00 pm and he apologized long before that he wouldn't be able to finish all 21 laws and with our "permission" he finished around fourteen. Some thirty minutes before he left the stage to sign books he concluded the seminar and announced that people were free to leave as they wish and as he was about to give his testimony about his faith and he wouldn't want to force those others who have things to attend to or those offended by such things to squirm in their seats. He recounted the moment he received Jesus into his heart and how much of an impact it made in his life. There were still a lot of people who stayed and soon after that he made us bow our head and close our eyes as not to embarrass those whose hearts were touched to receive Christ. He asked them to raise their hands as an act of surrender and then led them into a prayer of repentance. I don't know how many received Christ into their lives that day but it seems that many did. After that Dr. Maxwell signed books and didn't stop till everyone was happy which was about an hour later. Me, my brother, and mom stopped by KFC on the way home discussing everything that transpired with excitement and glee.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I never really made it clear that after moving out of his brother's house, Ben Ibarra and his brood of three kids moved into a condominium-apartment in Makati City. The idea came to me after reading about these various featured apartment rooms that are considered permanent abodes of couples and families alike. Besides it's becoming more practical to own condo-apartments rather than real estate properties, with the security and comfortable amenities available to tenants who could afford to stay in those places.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

The last time Director Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks came together for a project, they came up with the highly entertaining but poignant flick. Seems to me they liked what came out of their collaboration and came out with another beaut of a film called The Terminal. The story revolves around Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) a visitor who just planed in from a tiny Eastern European state called Krakozhia. Un fortunately while he was still in the air on the way to the U.S., a group of rebel soldiers had risen up in arms and overthrew the present government, killing the president and cabinet members in the process of doing so. Thus being with a country of origin in turmoil his visa and passport was sequestered by the Homeland Security people and barred him from ever leaving the airport. Instead of breaking his spirit during his almost ten months' stay inside the airport with surly New Yorkers, what happened was quite the opposite. His natural resilience, patience, hard work, and good nature transformed many of those working inside the airport showing them, by example, the importance of these virtues. I'm not sure if Mr. Spielberg intended to show the stark contrast between white Americans and naturalized citizens is that the latter seemed more eager to engage a lonely immigrant into conversation rather than the former who never gave Mr. Navorski the time of day (no offense meant to white Americans). Two characters in the persons of airline stewardess Amelia Warren (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and airport boss Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci) afforded him the best and worst experience in his entire stay in JFK airport. Barring the important friendships that he made with the airport staff, he got a lot more out of his dealings with these two people who made his temporary, though long, stay in America more than he ever expected.

Mr. Nasseri, the real life Mr. Navorski

The movie was based on a true story of Merhan Karimi Nasseri, a half-Iranian, half-British who's been staying at the Charles de Gaulle airport France since 1988. He was left homeless after a series of incidents that made him a persona non grata in every station that he went. He was booted out of Iran without a passport after a brief return from England for protesting against the shah. Then he went to Europe, where he transferred from one country after another seeking political asylum. in several countries. In 1981, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Belgium finally gave him the refugee credentials he sought but it was stolen along with his passport and briefcase in a Paris train station. He tried to fly to London but was denied entry by immigration officers and sent back to France. Since he didn't have any papers with him, Nasseri could not prove who he was. And since he didn't have his refugee credentials he couldn't offer proof of his refugee status he thereby barred from entering France. Without any official documents on his person the authorities were at a loss where to deport him so they moved him into the holding area for travelers without papers, the Zone d'attente. He's still staying at the airport up until now. You could read the accounts of this strange story that inspired Director Steven Spielberg to do this film in wikipedia.org, Entertainment News and geektimes.com.

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

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

This is an old work that was published in GLITTER Magazine sometime in the late 90s. This started after the Magazine editor liked what he saw the four-part Moses trivia I did in anticipation of the movie, The Prince of Egypt. These were patterned after Mr. Robert Ripley's work and I did a lot of these before I dropped out of circulation some years later.

Monday, September 13, 2004

I finally got to bring my digicam and I was able to take pictures from the third and last day of the Philippine Invasion Conference which was yesterday. This conference is something I always look forward to in September and there's always a race in registering early and getting some good seats on the courtside of the arena. These shots were taken after the service and people were already gearing themselves up for a lot of lively singing and dancing in His honor (aka PARTY TIME!):

Everyone's waiting for this part when gobs and gobs of balloons would fall.

Then the confetti came falling too in the middle of the lively singing.

They were supposed to wap the balloons around but they didn't.

Everyone was really getting into the music and singing songs of praise.

It all looked and felt like the biggest party I ever attended.

They couldn't get enough of the One they're singing praise to.

Things were starting to wind down even if we didn't want it to end.

I think we overstayed for more than 45-minutes since the crowd refused to budge from their seats and shouted for more songs. It's almost the same feeling you get after watching every Gary V. concert, you just can't get enough of it. Everybody likes a big bang to every successful gatherings and this was only made us look forward to next year's festivities.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Three Days of Darkness Plaguedome
Coming soon (to a sunny day near you.)

EXODUS 10:21 And the LORD said to Moses, "Extend your hand toward heaven so that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness that could be felt." So Moses extended his hand toward heaven, and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. No one could see another person, and no one could rise from his place for three days.

It's here to help us come to terms with the possiblity of the Apocalypse putting us all in the darkness TOGETHER! The world survived without light before, but YOU never have! This 40mm diameter, glass dome gives you not only three days without light, but a whole lifetime in the dark, thanks to the richest of black india inks made on earth.

Our underground manufacturing plant and reinforced bunker is capable of only so much. Plans are made for the production of the second model of Plaguedomes, expected sooner than you think. The truth is, no one sits up at night wondering when the great darkness will come, especially us, because we know just as well as you, it will simply pass us over. Return to our site now and then and see if we have more models available.
This was too ridiculous to pass up. I got the link from Mark of the strange and wonderful, Exclamation Mark.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

I just came back from the VCF Philippine Invasion Conference at the Philsports Arena. These conferences happen annually (with the bigger Asian Invasion Conference happening every four years) are one of the best things to happen in the church. What happens with these conferences are a mixture of exuberant praise and worship sessions coupled with mind blowing messages and reminders from both the visiting and local Apostolic team plus some jaw dropping performances and pageantry courtesy of the wonderful people of Talents inC. It was a bit of a shame I didn't get to bring the camera again tonight to record this great event which looked and felt like one big party. People were dancing, laughing, and generally having a good time. What I thought was my loss of seeing the pageantry last night was totally false since the pageantry was held during the second night of the three day conference. I did bring my phone though and took some snap shots of the Parade of Nations.

Friday, September 10, 2004

I missed the first day of the conference but I guess it's ok. I wanted to watch the pageantry I think happens during the first day of the three-day conference. I started discussing the first topic of the booklet One 2 One with Agong at Robinson's Galleria Mall right after dinner. We finished after about an hour and we passed by Starbucks in Shangri-la to see if the Artists' Den guys were having their meeting, but since they weren't we went out separate ways and went home. I'm blocking my schedule tomorrow so I could attend the conference and not miss any of them preachings.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Is it movie marathon week? It must be because The Notebook is the third movie I've watched with the family this week and such a wonderful movie it is. Rare is the film where expectations are met after being built up to great heights by a random movie trailer and two movie reviews. Might I also give notice that I'm also quite picky with tearjerker movies so giving high marks to this movie is quite a mean feat, so there.

Story starts at a stately riverside mansion that functions as a home for the elderly, in comes Duke (James Garner), an spritely elderly gentleman asking permission to spend time with an elderly woman (Gena Rowlands) to read her a story. It's immediately apparent that they have been doing this for quite some time now but owing to the woman's delibitating loss of memory to Alzheimer's Disease, Duke patiently rereads the story to her everyday. That story is about the love story of two young lovers, Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams), set in the early 1940s when they first met each other in a town carnival. It was a case of love at first sight for seventeen year old Noah and immediately set to woo Allie in rather unorthodox ways. Finding love was the farthest thing from Allie's mind since she and her parents were only vacationing there for the summer but love found her and it stuck real fast. He got through her defenses after only one date with his happy-go-lucky attitude but mostly through sheer persistence. They would spend summer days and nights learning how to drive, swimming at the 'ol swimming hole, dancing at small gatherings, getting to know Noah's dad, Frank (Sam Shepard), spending time at the beach, and just talking. Way before the summer ended, the two young souls have bonded indeed. One night Noah showed Allie his dream, a decripit 200 year old riverside plantation mansion that Noah wants to purchase and restore to its former glory. But coming from opposite sides of the social strata things soon started to unravel. Allie's socialite mother thinks she's had enough and demanded that the entire family cut off their summer vacation short and go back to New York. This devastates Allie but she had no choice but to oblige. World War II soon erupts and though Noah was among those drafted to fight the war overseas he never forgot Allie and has started writing his raison d'être one letter a day. The problem was, these letters were intercepted by Allie's mom, making her believe that Noah had moved on with his life.

Then one time in one of her volunteer work in the hospital, a gravely wounded soldier named Lon Hammond (James Marsden) introduced himself to her and asked for a date once he gets better. Allie was charmed with Lon's forwardness and half-heartedly said yes. After the war, he re-introduced himself to her and she was floored with what she saw: a decorated soldier who not only was handsome, but was also rich, charming, and kind-hearted; She forgot about Noah from that moment on. Meanwhile, Noah also arrives from the war and comes home to a big surprise, his father had sold off their property for his son to be able to start rebuilding the plantation mansion he has set his heart on. Noah's father died not long after and somewhat bitter with the nasty turn of events, he poured all his time and energy on remodelling the mansion all by himself. He managed to do a very good job out of it that news spread far and wide about its reputation. A gaggle of rich folks arrived each offering a huge sum of money to buy the house from his hands. But he wouldn't sell the house and turned each and every buyer off with the sight of his shotgun. News of the house eventually reached the papers who decided to cover it and release a news item of it the same paper that Lon and Allie's engagement was announced. When she decided to visit Noah one last time to get some answers before closing this chapter of her life, she never thought that it would rekindle old feelings leading to the continuation of the best and worst days of her life.

Like I said earlier all expectations were met even after it sent soaring up by different reviews that I've read. Of course it's not without its usual share of critics and naysayers, but who cares right? These criticisms usually center around the acting abilities of some of the lead actors and a little of the secondary characters. Said portrayals of range from wooden acting to stereotypical appearances butpersonally I don't see any of these. Ms. McAdams and Mr. Gosling turned in some very good performances as the lead characters, they managed to convey the right amount of innocence and restrained naughtiness befitting their characters' teenage years during the first half of the movie. Photography of lush scenes showing the beauty of Southern America from picturesque towns to the scenic swamp full of wild ducks was visually stunning. I laud Director Nick Cassavetes handling of the adaptation of Nicholas Spark's novel. The ending came as a big surprise for those of us who haven't read the book. Of course, it may be obvious to some halfway through the movie but then again I'm one of those people who patiently wait for the big ending to be revealed thereby preserving the surprise and base my opinions how that big surprise was handled. In this case I'd say that Director Cassavetes handled it well thereby earning it a place in my video library of great movies.

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

This appeared in yesterday's PvP Online site and I was laughing at all those references to popular 80s icons that Brent Sienna is making. And while I was also laughing at 16-year old Francis Ottoman's naivette I suddenly realized, are we that old?

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

I reworked this dialogue for the 4th time today and I'm glad to say I got it right this time. This is the longest storyline I've done so far. This will spill over till after Thanksgiving Day.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

I'm just adding salt for effect

Two movies in two days! My mom and younger sis wanted to watch 13 Going On 30 and who am I to resist watching this fun movie on the big screen? Right? It's fun to watch the Alias girl doing comedy for a change and kudos to her and Director Gary Winick for this. The film is about Jenna Rink (Jennifer Garner), a young girl entering the turbulent thirteenth year in the year 1987. As far as normal teenagers go the sense of wanting to belong to the most popular group in school became her obsession. She started getting embarrassed with the actions of her parents, she was embarrassed to be seen with her guy best friend, Matty (Mark Ruffalo). Things came to a head on her thirteenth birthday, she thought she failed to impress the most popular clique and jock on campus and blamed her best friend for it. Locking herself inside the closet she wished she was 30 years old (the age she thinks women achieve the ultimate in coolness) and that's exactly what happened. Specks of wishing dust fell off the doll house Matt gave her and magically transported her to this year where thanks to the magic dust, wishes do come true with gobs of bonus thrown in to boot. Not only is she the managing editor of her favorite fashion magazine, Poise, but she's also the lucky girlfriend of the most famous American hockey player.

She retains her 13 year old self inside her 30 year old body and since nothing makes sense she runs to the only source of security she has, her old best friend Matt. Matt is now a freelance photographer who's doing okay with the occasional assignments he gets and he's also still smarting from the betrayal he got from his best friend when they were thirteen. So it comes as something of a big shock to see Jenna knocking on his door spouting confusion and disbelief that she jumped through seventeen years without ever recalling everything that happened. The polite guy that he is, he reluctantly gave her a tour back through memory lane of those things she did to break the friendship in exchange for popularity. Meanwhile back at her job at the magazine, her best friend and assistant editor Lucy (Judy Greer) and supervisor, Richard (Andy Serkis) are in over their heads in figuring out how to increase their sales and remain two steps ahead of their competitor, Sparkle. Being an innocent teenager herself (at least on the inside) she came up with spontaneous ideas that had them recalling the fun things they had when they were teenagers. Richard absolutely adored her and considered her golden until another problem cropped up. The owners of the magazine company were threatening to cancel the title unless they do a total overhaul of the magazine's image and they needed to see those ideas in a couple of weeks. During this time Lucy and Jenna had a falling out in their friendship (Lucy was the leader of the popular clique during their school days before Jenna dethroned her) while Jenna and Matty's friendship were rekindled and levels of intimacy were starting to creep in to that friendship. They teamed up to execute an idea Jenna had for the magazine (which Richard and the rest of the staff preferred as opposed to Lucy's edgy "fashion suicide" proposal) and it seems that everything's going up and nothing could possibly go wrong. As the last moment the old Jenna's sins caught up with her causing everything she built up to come crashing down. That's when she realized that wanting to grow up too fast isn't all it's hyped up to be.

Overall the movie was fun and Jennifer Garner was really easy on the eyes and I'm glad she didn't have any problems doing comedy. She did well in portraying the right amount of innocence and adorability in a way that doesn't detract anything from her character. She and Mark Ruffalo had a chemistry going on between them that made the friendship between their characters quite believable. She's still no Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, or Meg Ryan in these types of roles but I think she wouldn't have any problem fitting in in case she decides to tackle more romantic comedies right after her next film. My only gripe against this film is the wrongness of the 80s music played in the film. This was in the year 1987 and the music like The Bangles' "Walk Like An Egyptian", U2's "With Or Without You", Kylie Minogue's "Locomotion", Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up", and Debbie Gibson's "Only In My Dreams", etc. should have been in the soundtrack instead of Michael Jackson's "Thriller", Go-go's "Head Over Heels", Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl", Soft Cell's "Tainted Love", or even Pat Benatar's "Love Is A Battlefield." By 1987's standards these songs were so passé people would not be caught singing or confessing their love for these songs in public without the fear of being labeled a loser or a nerd. People might say I'm making a huge deal out of nothing but what happened to credibility? You don't cram all the songs from one decade into one year and not think that there's something very wrong with it. Everything's too random and the movie failed to reflect the decade in contrast to the present. Soundtrack wise, The Wedding Singer this ain't. The movie does make a good point of wanting to go back to the time of innocence (as was "The Village") but romanticizing the past is an exercise in futility. We can't keep holding on to the past because we're not satisfied with the present and the future is a scary place. It's everything we all wish, to be able to go back and correct the wrong that we did. But if we keep this wish while looking back to the past we wouldn't be making much progress and in effect we are running away from our responsibility to do something about it while it is still today. Still, I'm glad that everything worked out for Jenna when she realized that before she got her second wish.

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

This town ain't big enough for the two of us

I barely caught the showing of the documentary Supersize Me on the big screen and I'm glad that I did catch it. Movie started out like one big comedy feature, Writer/Director Morgan Spurlock had to prove that eating fastfood was the leading cause of obesity in the United States and to prove that he made a daring experiment not to eat anything for one whole month except those coming from McDonald's. Before diving headlong into that experiment he had himself checked up by a Gastro doctor, a cardiologist, and a general practioner who all gave him a clean bill of health. His vegetarian girlfriend also reluctantly gave him a go-signal to whatever it is he has to do. So while the whole film shows him gorging on Mcgoodies morning, afternoon, and evening he went around different states interviewing normal people about their eating habits, school and health officials about the food they're allowing to be served to kids in school, a Big Mac afficionado from Texas, the head honcho of the Grocers' group, and others. He also gave updates regarding the teenagers who are suing McDonald's for their obesity problems and the lifestyle "Super Size" meals in McDonald's contribute to the problem.

While the movie started out with a somewhat ridiculous premise the progress of the film doesn't seem like something one should laugh about. As one fact is unloaded after the other, eating at fastfood chains doesn't seem to be that appetizing anymore. At the start of the movie Mr. Spurlock started out with 185 lbs. and ended up at 210 lbs at the end of 30 days. The success of "Super Size" meals at McDonald's spurred other food chains to follow suit resulting in a meal that's meant for one person to be able to actually feed four persons. The films also bemoans the typical American's passing up the opportunity to exercise and even walk. School officials also start the kids early on with this unhealthy lifestyle by doing away with Physical Education and packing their lunches with carbs and lots and lots of sugar. I applaud Mr. Spurlock's work to hold up a mirror to America and show them what it is exactly they're doing. Also I don't exactly see those people who are suing the fastfood chains eye to eye, while the big corproration has its faults for keeping the list of calories and sugar from the public eye (as opposed to the governing body's ruling order to post it where everybody can see it), what happened to personal responsibility? McDonald's present only one choice out of the many and if the parents of those kids or those who are greedy enough to sue a big company for their slice of the pie then anybody can figure out that their intentions all along, unlike Mr. Spurlock, was anything but noble.

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

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

I haven't updated my deviantART account for the longest time. I'm not sure what I'm gonna upload as I'm still cooking something up for the strips and besides being an international piazza for artists I just think it's a shame to put up something that not everybody understands. The current storyline for strips loses much of its humor if I translate it to english. Think I'd best search for the old artworks to keep the all important traffic flowing though.

Monday, September 06, 2004

The sculptor's particular attention to details could be seen in the close-up of the boy's face.

I've always been a big fan of Bea Zobel's column All4Art in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. She always writes about and highlights the local crafts and art jaded urbanites like us gloss over. She's been in different provinces talking about banig (woven mats) and barongs in Taal, wooden scultures in Laguna, and lot others. In today's column she shares about the treasure trove of Filipiniana she and her group of friends found in the Museo Nacional de Antrologia in Madrid, Spain. It turns out that these collections the museum houses were part of the collections sent to Spain in 1887 for a Philippine exposition (the one Jose Rizal and others riled about for making the foreigners think the scantily clothed tribal folks exhibited represent the level of Filipino civilization). One of the collections that Ms. Zobel pointed out as her favorite is a unique sculpture by Ciriaco Gaudinez y Javier titled "El Arraigo de Costumbres" which she writes about in length:
The work that intrigued me the most was a piece titled "El Arraigo de Costumbres" by Ciriaco Gaudinez y Javier (1848-1910). It shows a young boy carrying an open coffin with the body of a little girl inside. It is such a heartbreaking sculpture. The face of the boy is covered with tears, and one can really feel his pain as he brings his tiny burden to her grave. One wonders what the relationship between the bearer and the deceased is. The girl's dress is quite elaborate, contrasting with the simplicity of the wooden coffin and the plain clothes of the boy.

Is the boy her brother? But why is he so much more simply attired? Of course, the girl could have been arrayed in her best outfit in preparation-for burial. Could the boy be a faithful servant who had come to love the young daughter of the family that he worked for?

Whatever it is, there is no ambiguity about the anguished expression on the young boy's face. I was captivated by the talent of the carver.

Talent is clearly evident in all the items in the museum. In fact, one cannot but be proud at what one encounters. And one cannot but feel sad that so much is no longer available or even forgotten.
This brought out another interest for me to research about the local costumes during the late 1800s (which was majorly influenced by European trends) for one of my planned works. It also inspired me to search for the creepy 1800s custom of taking recently deceased family members' post mortem pictures for posterity, but that's another story. You could check out other fascinating collections at their online site.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Me and my brother went to the Cultural Center of the Philippines earlier this afternoon to attend a briefing for thirty hopefuls wanting to have their ideas interpreted into feature length films. These thirty hopefuls consisted of a mix of some professional scriptwriters, directors, production people and along with some first timers and freelancing writers from different backgrounds. Me and my brother were actually representing The Filament member Harold Bayang who submitted his film treatment about a prominent Filipino writer who tried his luck in the U.S. I wouldn't even know about the competition's existence if he didn't tell us about the good news. Panelists who reviewed the lot consists of award winning film Directors Peque Gallaga and Laurice Guillen, film critic and sometime Director Nestor Torre, Unitel Productions Producer Tony Gloria and University of the Philippines professor Bienvenido Lumbrera whose prominence instantly brought awe and star struck stares from the audience (including me). Prof. Lumbrera wanted to know the people behind the successful entries and called each one in front and introduce themselves, the title of their work and the story behind their inspiration. I know what it feels like to be called on the spot to talk in front of total strangers but do they have to squirm and giggle so much and punctuate their stories with "wala lang" (roughly translated as: "I just felt like doing it")? Each finalist is set to submit a written working script of his or her work along with the alloted budget, apparently PLDT mogul will be financing the winning entry of the contest and made into a feature length film (which is not like the usual local indie film which is only around 30 minutes or so). Then there's a five minute private meeting each with the council to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of each entry and what could be done about it. I chickened out from this private meeting each and every semi-finalist were to have with them. I felt I wouldn't have contributed much from the discussion in case they ask about the company and the film. Looking back I shouldn't have backed out of meeting them and should have gone in with my brother. After his turn my brother told me that they only made some comments about the film and their thoughts about it which is very unlike a thesis deliberation where they grill the weakest link to a burnt crisp. We'll be reporting the proceedings back to Harold the rest of the Filament guys tomorrow.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

I can't get enough of the Mango Crêpe they're serving at French Baker. At a price that's just right (67.00 Php or $1.20) I just couldn't get enough of the stuff. The next time I'll forgo with dinner and order three of those yummeh dessoits. Submitted the comics earlier last night because of the Labor Day weekend on Monday in the U.S. I'm not sure if the punchline worked or not but I'm glad I had something prepared at the side.

Friday, September 03, 2004

I've always wanted to try hanging out at the new Starbucks at the 4th floor of SM Megamall ever since it opened. The reason for this is simple enough: it doesn't have any of those noisy crowds forever hogging the chairs. No, what it does have are quiet patrons reading and talking amongst themselves with conversations barely registering on the decibel meter. Good thing I brought a book and a sketchpad and had already settled down to let the ideas flow from my head and onto the paper when a friend sent me text message that our much delayed meeting's all set to go. The oft cancelled meeting was all about his being mentored about Christianity having been recently born again. It's been a long time since I last took up the booklet One 2 One and discussed it with somebody. The Starbucks upstairs was a good place to start the warm up discussions and answer whatever questions he might be harboring. I didn't formally start the discussions from the booklet yet, that's what we'll be doing next week. I'll be coming back again to this place some days from now to think up of some ideas for the comic strips and hopefully, materials for the book collection.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Guess what my brother gave me for my birthday? Hehehe. I found it under my big pillow while I was getting ready for bed last night. There's one hitch though, I can't hook it up to my PC until I get the whole operating system rebooted which will happen in ummm...

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

A continuation of last week's silly storyline. My brother told me it's too early to discuss Thanksgiving Day in the strip but then again I already did mention Christmas. It's been raining pretty hard these past days. Good bed weather if you ask me. I finally went out to the mall to watch people pass by and think about nothing in particular. I was looking for The Idiot's Guide to Creating a Graphic Novel as suggested by Gerry but there was none available although I did see a coffeetable book about Chinese-Filipinos. I passed by the new Starbucks at the 4th floor on my way home. I'll hang out there one of these days. Och. That's me rambling again.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

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