Friday, December 31, 2004

Here we are as in olden days, happy golden days of yore.

I hardly remember the last time I saw my childhood barkada (peer group) from Don Bosco. Well I did see them separately in different occasions but not like this when we all sat down together around one table. I dunno, we probably had our last get-together some two years ago when I treated them out to dinner to celebrate my birthday. That's me, Gary, and Reno in the picture having lunch at the Robinson's Galleria. Our friendship dates way back to the third grade (I still have the class picture to prove it) and we're all that's left out of the original seven people in our group. The others flew out of the country together with their wives the past several years. Reno's already happily married with a wonderful kid, Gary's going steady with his also wonderful girlfriend (we're just waiting for the altar date), and me, I'm still enjoying my bachelorhood, doing whatever it is that I still want to do with my free time (namely doing comics and occasionally going out with friends during weekends). I feel I'm just not ready to settle down yet. Maybe next year, I'll be able to find that special someone that's right for me. In the meantime, well... I aim to live life to the fullest and steering clear of anything stupid that I would regret later on.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Having a reunion party for my cousins on my mother's side of the family's quite refreshing, if not a tad awkward. I say it's awkward because we don't know each other that well only seeing each other around twice a year in Malolos, Bulacan. Not like before when we would spend a lot of time as kids everytime we troop to my grandmother's house every first Sunday of every month. While the grownups would spend time talking about grownup stuff, me, my brothers and our cousins would be found outside catching dragonflies and toads in the sprawling yard. There wasn't any awkward moments, of not knowing what to say to each other and trying to start a conversation everytime the usual questions about our occupations. We don't have those awkward moments with my cousins and other relatives on my dad's side of the family. There's an immediate sense of affinity as laughter and jokes are quickly exchanged. Well, that's because we get to spend more time with them as every gathering in our house or every occasion initiated by members of that side of the family numbers around a dozen each year. I love all my cousins from both sides of the family but I wish I could spend more time with those from my mom's. After all, there's a special kinship with them that the others wouldn't be able to understand much. Because, you see I got my gift of illustration from my mom's side of the family. Hopefully we'd be able to spend more time with them this year to balance things out.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Director Jose Javier Reyes' interview printed in The Philippine Daily Inquirer today echoes yesterday's post and related link/article. You can read what he has to say about this year's film festival here: 'Indies are the industry's hope, but where are they?'

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Is boycott the proper response to something one doesn't like? Case in point is the current Metro Manila Filmfest with is predictable coterie of movies. Well, aside from a few flicks with a potential to be come classics like Cesar Montano's Panaghoy sa Suba and Joel Lamangan's Aishite Imasu 1941 (a real web site would be a big help for fans of these films people). I haven't watched these two yet but from the looks of the movie trailers that they've been showing these past few weeks I don't think I'll be patronizing most of the local industry's recent output. My answer to the question is both a 'yes' and a 'no.' It's a 'yes' because I can't figure out how come an industry that's dying can still come out with inferior products that they expect people to patronize. Including big name actors in a production doesn't always mean that the flick will be good. Traditional local producers have a notorious reputation for banking on these ancient techniques rather than good storylines and production quality. And during the awards show, which is held halfway through the festival, they would dare to pat each other on the back for a job well done! Pfffft!

The answer's also a 'no' for reasons that there are also a few exceptions and we should always, always patronize these few exceptions, no matter how far and few they are in between. Secondly, people who complain about the lack of good movies without doing anything about it does nothing but compound the problem. The industry's already dying and there's no need to hammer any more nails in its coffin. What we also need to do is come up with a good film that speaks to the heart and mind of the Filipino. It doesn't need to have spectacular SFX, just some good 'ol storytelling will do (as our Asian neighbors have taught us). Because unless we do something about the whole thing, we wouldn't be left with anything at all.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp's latest project (more recent than the Chocolate Factory even) is, The Corpse Bride. Based on a 19th Century Russian-Jewish folk tale about a hapless bridegroom accidentally committing himself to a dead woman, which in turn is based on actual practices against Jewish brides when anti-semitism was widespread in eastern Europe. The story is told using stop motion animation similar to the technique he used in his previous film, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Aside from Johnny Depp, other notable actors and actresses lending their voices are Emily Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Albert Finney, Richard E. Grant, Christopher Lee, and Joanna Lumley. This is something to look forward to, probably the same time next year. If you'd like to read the original story the movie was based on, you could read it here.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

We buried my friend today, my artist friend who's sorely missed by everyone whose lives she touched. The wake was being held in Cavite City and I never knew how far that was from the metropolis until we got there. It was a closed coffin thing but her sister allowed us a peek when she couldn't: her face was a mess, I couldn't really tell that it was her. Mortuary make-up people didn't do much of a good job on her like the last few cadavers I visited. A few friends were there making a picture collage memorializing every happy moment that she spent. There were a lot of back stories, some of them pertaining to the sloppy way the police handled the case but I didn't get to catch some of them since everyone was talking in whispers and I didn't have the gall to ask her sister to repeat everything she said. The priest who officiated the funeral mass gave his final blessing to the dead and I think it gracious of him to do so, at least alleviating the family's grief one last time (because although the Catholic Church has softened its stand on granting suicides a christian burial because it's considered a serious sin, it often denies them the final blessing). We finished around late afternoon and stopped over to have dinner in Ayala Center in Makati City before finally heading home.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

I 've always maintained that my mom's side of the family has more potential for historical affiliations which is part of the reason why I love going to Malolos, Bulacan every now and then. This point was proven earlier today when the main topic of discussion veered to the recent demise of Fernando Poe, Jr. An uncle (a cousin of my mom's and prominent sculptor himself) got to talking about yet another brush with fame when he revealed to us that FPJ's mother, Elizabeth Arnold, was a classmate of his during his Fine Arts years in UP College (along with stage actress Celia Diaz-Laurel and couturier Pitoy Moreno under the tutelage of Guillermo Tolentino). That he also got to meet Fernando Poe, Sr. whenever he would come over to fetch Ms. Arnold from school. He described the senior as simple, quiet, reticent, and quite shy around people despite his superstar status in local showbusiness industry. They were also very, very rich (quickly dispelling some rumors pertaining to FPJ's inability to finish high school due to the family's financial status), having their own Olympic sized pool in their own backyard (the senior was an avid swimmer), and a family inheritance that will distributed among the rightful heirs (I'll keep this one under wraps). My uncle's stories remind me a lot about the way local historian and head of the NHI, Ambeth Ocampo, would divulge historical gossip. One of the last things he revealed to us was about the Oblation statue at the University of the Philippines sculpted by Tolentino, the model for the statue was FPJ's dad mismo. When asked for an y particular reason why, he said there wasn't any particular reason for it. Nothing earthshaking. The senior was a UP student, academically decorated, and he had the perfect physique. Okay ba?

After going home from Malolos, we dropped by my cousin's house to drop off a couple of Christmas gifts. A whole gaggle of our balikbayan cousins, nephews, and nieces were also gathered there preparing to go to another cousin's house whose birthday was today. My dad thought that we should go (this was his side of the family) but the others were either unable or unavailable due to a number of reasons. So it was just me and my dad who drove over after resting up a bit. Food was good and the company was great as we exchanged stories and jokes. After a while my niece suggested that we play the board game Cranium to pick up the pace. My cousins begged off and continued drinking their coffee and exchanging stories, so I went out with my nephews and nieces in the garage and played with them. I haven't seen most of these peeps in four years (like they were wee laddies back then and now they're rambunctious teenagers) and besides things were getting a bit too serious back inside.


Daniel has his eyes closed drawing as his teammate/cousin, Joseph guesses the answer to the clue

Joseph and Daniel watching

Josh and Timothy

I've never had as much fun playing with them as with the others as they took turns goading and distracting the other from guessing the answers. They also had these toy guns with laser sights that alternately pointed at each other playing the role of gangsters from the hood. It was all good and we all had great time making me think that I never grew up much at all. Harhar!!!
I love Christmas! The last few Christmases may have suffered from a severe case of the blahs but not this one. Especially on Christmas Eve when the whole exercise of this holiday reaches its peak:

National Artist, Napoleon Abueva's landmark sculpture and Christmas tree above the diners

That's the ledge where a small orchestra provides classical symphonies


One of the funky lamps lining the (sorta) famous Bay Walk in Manila

Me and my sis playing with the camera

The House of Santa Claus

The House with a Thousand Lights

Animated nativity scene

The office/warehouse with a hundred lights

All from the (almost) famous Policarpio Street

I didn't get much presents this year but who cares, right? As long as we all had fun. By the way I would've watched the hilarious Grinch movie last night but was too pooped to push through with it. Hehe. Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 24, 2004

One thing I learned about all this though is that one should never take anyone for granted, from close family members and relatives to best friends and mere acquaintances. Never assume that they know that you appreciate them. You may think it's mushy, ridiculous, and icky-yucky but do say and show how much they mean to you. More importantly do it while they can still hear it. Then eulogies would contain happy memories that everyone can smile and laugh with.
The Artists' Den had a follow through Christmas party last night to discuss plans for the upcoming G2 Convention next month and to exchange gifts among ourselves. Those in attendance were Syeri, Jon, Melch, Erwin, Az, Mark, RG, and me. It was nice and everybody had fun picking out who they would be exchanging gifts with, and I could have gotten away with my own gift (a ceramic coin bank in the shape of a Japanese cartoony Bull Terrier I bought in Humor Post) if Mark and RG hadn't arrived. Well, I actually picked my name twice so I could have gotten away with it again if I was really mean (insert maniacal laugh here). But I guess the one that I got (a humongous deflated stuffed orange poring toy) makes up for the whole evening. Anything that has the illusion of bulk is good, right? I'll just stuff it inside the cabinet along with the other souvenirs that I got.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

A friend of mine killed herself in a moment of weakness earlier this week. I don't know yet the details surrounding her death though from what I got it happened sometime in the early hours before dawn while everyone was asleep. She shot herself in the head "with a gun I think she found in my parents' bedroom," was her sister's private message to me. Disclosure of names aren't important since nobody in the general vicinity of my circle of friends know her except for a certain few. I honestly don't know what to make of the announcement. I guess I'm still in denial over the whole thing.

She's a good friend who thought of herself as plain looking and unlovable but contrary to what she believes she's as beautiful as day and very much loved by everyone who knew her. I remember one time when she visited me in the internet café I was managing. She had a ski cap covering her hair and after the usual round of greetings and how-do-you-do's she told me she had a surprise and asked that I not laugh at her if she showed it to me: cut her hair, styled it so it was all standing up, and dyed it blonde. I told her I loved it and I did. It had spunk and style that went with her gung-ho attitude. Although I suggest that she could have at least colored her hair blue or hot pink so it would it have a punkier attitude. She laughed, very much amused at my suggestion and kept her hat off while we discussed other matters. From what I understood from our conversations she longed to understand the whys of life but in the process of doing so had been brutally rebuffed by some of those she trusted and looked up to as she was growing up. She's opinionated but her words are a cry for help and instead of helping her cope people even cheered and gave her an award for cussing on national TV. They thought it was something to be encouraged but they didn't see the pain behind it all. I couldn't understand it then and I still couldn't understand it now coupled with an anger for the audience to have cheered her on.

I can understand it better if people died of natural causes or old age like what happened with a few friends and grandrelatives. I grieved over the death of an acquaintance when she also took her life but that burden was assuaged by the revelation that death was held off for a while, enough for her to set things right with the God she didn't formerly believed in. But I have no clear answer in this instance. Why did you have to take your life so soon? Why did you take it at all? ... There are two things constant with death and one with suicide: you're never prepared with the news of it no matter how much you think you are and there will always be questions and guilt hanging around with survivors. She would mention about ending her life during one of our talks and knowing how serious she was about it I would always address the issue and discourage her from going through with it. But we sort of lost contact for so many months and the thought of establishing contact with her never entered my mind again. Now she's gone.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

'Nuff said.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

I was feeling restless again so I went out to the mall to read my book. And since I also didn't want to splurge on food this time I ate my dinner right before I went. I already had the ideal place in mind where I'll be staying in for at least an hour, sorta quiet with just the right amount of crowd to provide me with all the white noise I needed to concentrate on my book. I ordered a chocolate shake as soon as I arrived, sat down in one of the tables near the back and dove headlong into the text. I took a break after about an hour's time, the better to chew and digest all the information I've read. Different thoughts ran through my mind stirred by questions and realizations I got from the book. I went down to the Surplus Shop, a bargain bin selling factory rejects and the frugal person's goldmine for branded clothes. I was sort of running on automatic pilot going in and out of the changing room looking for a new polo I could buy while chewing the information I retained from reading. I finally found a quirky one with red crabs printed over which I had a good laugh. I also thought of getting one with a thousand and one brown fishes but instantly saw it was a big disaster waiting to happen so back to the rack it went. Went home when the mall was nearly closing having fulfilled whatever it is I haven't set out to do but did anyway.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Wish I could come up with clear ideas for all the comic strip titles that I'm doing that I won't have to do anything else but execute it on paper and edit it later in Photoshop. I wish I could be a funny strip factory that daily churns out titles by the truckloads just like what the late Larry Alcala did without compromising the art. But more importantly even though I ask for all these things, I wish it wouldn't be all about me and that I would be able to accomplish things because I want to, not because I have to.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The last time the Artists' Den had a Christmas party was the year 1999 and all attempts thereafter to duplicate the fun we had at the time during the succeeding years unfortunately came to naught. We didn't have any idea where to hold it. Fortunately though Az remembered that our friend and fellow Denner, Camy, sent out a standing invitation for us to drop by their house whenever we can. Why not use the opportunity to hold the group's Christmas party? But her house isn't quite as accessible to many of us so we suggested and asked why not hold it in her Uncle Carlo's house in Greenhills? Who by the way is also a Trekkie and a friend to a couple of members of the group like Lyndon so it wasn't very awkward. So last night me, Wilson, Lico, Patrick, Elbert, Trish, RG, and first timers Cklaighe and Delurianne, along with the aforementioned folks above:

Me, Mark, and Wilson

Patrick and Az seems to bite their lip as they listen to the discussion

Camy, Trish, and RG watching some videos

Lico trying out a new trick he learned

Elbert and Mark

Delurianne, Cklaighe, and Trish

Dubbing "Cutie Honey" our way

Camy's mom did a bang-up job on the food which we ate with gusto. After eating, whipping out digital cameras and taking pictures of each other, we settled down to watch the Japanese comedy-action movie Cutie Honey. We had no problem with the movie although the dialogue was done in the original language with no subtitles since we supplied our own translations. More specifically Lico and Lyndon supplied the words that got us all doubled up in knots from laughing so hard. Afterwards some us ate some more of the leftover food and drank more Coke before settling down for a round of discussions that border on the philosophical (I was tempted to jump in and contribute an answer but unfortunately I haven't yet formulated a complete answer at the time) before drawing away to another topic that involves a series of events, rumors, and real answers to said rumors regarding some events next year. Or something like that. We left for home past 1 a.m. favoring taxis and buses as the fastest of transportation to our homes. Hopefully we could do this again next year with more people in attendance.

* First and last pictures were supplied by Azrael Coladilla.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Tina, Ganns, me, and Harold (at least his back) working on the cover's new look

How do you get the message across the right audience? That was the question we tackled when Ganns called us magazine contributors to his house down south (well there was a Christmas lunch but I didn't make it in time but that's ok). The brainstorming was also a lesson for those of us who are planning to put up a publication of sorts in the future. But as with all things that needed many heads to plan, sobriety was the order of the day. We can't be too excited about what we want brakes had to be applied or else some of us could could come off with strong opinions that I'm afraid might offend some artistic sensibilities without actually knowing it (can you tell I'm walking around eggshells here?). I'm not saying that I'm an expert on doing layout as I'm sure the others had great ideas on what to change or add but we felt we had to go slow and find a certain point where we could all compromise what we want to put into it. While we gathered around the computer and experimented with the fonts (both title and contents) and background color cum design, each of us watched, contributed, disagreed, cajoled the other, reacted violently, eventually reaching a sense of satisfaction with grins pasted on our mugs. We managed to start the cover on a journey from being conservative to something zingy that reflects the tastes of the next generation. It's still far from perfect though but at least we're heading there now.

* Thanks to Ricky Manzano for the picture.

Friday, December 17, 2004

One week ago today we held our Den meeting at the recently opened Gloria Jeans Coffee in Araneta Center. Comfy. Good ambience. Cool place to hang out too. The presence of live bands performing that night prevented most of the discussions we might have had in the course of being there. The band could have done away with the huge speakers owing to the smallness of the place and played their music unplugged.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

I had a lot of fun reading through the list of local gay lingo and definitions posted in PinoyExchange.com which certainly added the much needed realism to the way Jessica's character would speak. Stringing it together though posted a real challenge, because not everything I needed was posted there so I had to invent some of them words (see panel 2). I'm not sure if I got it all right though.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

When I was a kid the term Filipino Komiks referred to works of old whose artistry was very obvious and the names During the time when we were kids the we knew the names Nestor Redondo, Francisco Coching, Larry Alcala, Nonoy Marcelo, et. al. long before we even found out the names of Marvel Comics' and DC's great artists. Sad to say, a huge gap came between that time and today creating an enormous lack of appreciation among Filipino talents. Fortunately, appreciation for local comic talents is slowly gaining a foothold among the high school and college students who not only patronize homegrown indie stuff but also come up with one of their own. With this prospect in mind local comic book publishing company Mango Comics is coming up with a program to keep the prices of Filipino comics competitive while coming out with quality materials that's truly world class. They're still working out all the details and you could read more about it here. In the meantime do check out Gerry Alanguilan's awe-inspiring online Philippine Comics Art Museum.

You know how I clamor for Christians to sit up and take notice of the arts? And I'm talking about the usual low grade cheesy stuff they use to illustrate hastily drawn mini-comics or tracts. I'm talking about serious art! The kind that makes people go "ooooo-aaaaaaahh!!!" and all googly eyed with wonder and admiration. Well here it is finally, a contest open to all professional and amateur comic artists from all over the world. Sponsored by Comix35, a non-profit, nondenominational ministry which has been organized for international Christian comics training. Interested participants are invited to submit original, one shot short comics features (1, 2, 3 or 4 pages maximum) that are evangelistic in nature and/or that display some aspect of Christian discipleship. Editorial Emphasis: The message of your comic should be appealing and understandable to a non-Christian audience, without compromising the message of the Gospel. There are two cash prizes awaiting each category:
• A prize of US$ 1200.00 to a professional comics producer
• A prize of US$ 800.00 to an amateur comics producer
Plus three (3) free copies of the contest book when it is printed. Other comics producers whose submissions are chosen to appear in the book will receive one (1) free copy each. All submissions are encouraged to be sent in CD or Zip Disk (300 to 400 DPI at 100%). Original art works can be sent in but it should not be larger than 280mm wide by 432mm tall (approximately 11 inches x 17 inches) and should be mailed flat, not folded. If possible, all original artworks should be accompanied by a CD or Zip Disk with scans of the originals in high resolution (300 to 400 DPI) at 100% of the original size and a low resolution version (72 DPI) at 50%. You can read the complete contest details here and contest rules here.
Here's something I came across that made me think:
"Since we already have God's image, why can't we express Him? We may say that the man created in the image of God resembles the photograph of a person. Suppose you take a photograph of Brother John and show it to others saying that this is Brother John. In a sense, you are correct, for that is Brother John. However, the photograph is not the real Brother John; it is Brother John in a picture. Although the picture reveals the features, style, and the person of Brother John, it does not have the life of Brother John. It can show something of Brother John, but it cannot express him. The only way for the photograph to express Brother John is for it to have his life.

"Man was created in the image of God, but he was like a photograph showing something of God without having the life of God. Although man was in the image of God, he did not have the life of God. God intended that man should partake of the life indicated by the tree of life. Man failed to do it. Today, by believing in Christ, we have been brought back to share in that life. We all have received eternal life. Thus, there is no other way for us to express God in His image and to represent God with His authority except by sharing His life. This is confirmed by many verses in the Bible."
Got this from post in the PinoyExchange forum. Hmmm...

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Two headlines today: The rarer early morning edition (top) and the updated version (bottom).

Monday, December 13, 2004

We knew about it late yesterday afternoon. We don't know yet what really happened but early reports say that he suffered a stroke during a party and subsequently lapsed into a coma. Later reports say that he suffered a blood clot that blocked a vein in one part of his brain resulting in cerebral thrombosis. Everybody's worried about his condition and for the first time in many years, everyone from the administration and the opposition have been united in praying for actor and presidential aspirant Fernando Poe Jr.'s swift recovery. His friends and colleagues from showbusiness are worried sick as is those from the political world. I'm monitoring various websites for any updates regarding his condition.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

I've first read about Sonya's Garden in an co-worker's blog sometime ago (I think that was last summer) and their experience in having the best lunch there. This bed and breakfast place is located somewhere south between Tagaytay, Cavite and Lemery, Batangas actually and we spent a major part of today having lunch and exploring the sights. It was my brother's idea that we go there after he and his officemates came went over there for purposes of reviewing it in their paper. I can't think of adequate words to describe how good the food is and how creative they were in coming up with the stuff. The price is competitive in a way that other metro restaurants that offer buffet price theirs. With the exception that everything is served fresh because almost all the ingredients are grown in the owner's garden. You can eat all you can from their set menu of salad greens, fruit juices, pasta dishes, bread, dessert, and finish it all off with tea or coffee. Afterwards you could go out and explore the gardens and rooms to let (might I also mention that the restroom is something you shouldn't miss too). The place has an old world charm harking back to the late 19th century and early 20th century with its decor of found objects. Being a bed and breakfast place, one can avail an overnight stay for almost the same price as any hotel with an array of activities included in the package. If and when you and your friends or family do decide to have your lunch there then do look for the kindly old lady owner, the charming Mrs. Sonya Garcia and pay her a compliment or two for the job well done.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Mozart performing before Emperor Joseph II and his courtiers

Exposure to classical music and arthouse movies care of my big brother started me off to an early appreciation of culture that kids wouldn't normally be dabbling in. One of the early movies we watched over and over in betamax tapes was Peter Shaffer's wonderful Amadeus. It was really fun for us kids to watch Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (as superbly portrayed by Tom Hulce) run off throughout different parts of his patrons' palace (in this case the Archbishop's) laughing and flirting with a girl then be suddenly aware that the concerto that he was supposed to lead has started off without him. He would then run off and with much poise enter the concert hall and take his cue as a conductor without so much as missing a beat. Or the time he played from memory the entire minuet that was composed as a welcome to the great composer before making some improvements on it. It was all so memorable for us that we even memorized snippets of dialogue from the film that we would recite in sync with the characters. That's why I'm so ecstatic I got the Director's cut on DVD! It's a good thing I waited and didn't acquire the original version when I had the chance some months ago. As an aside this movie garnered much of the coveted Oscar Awards including Best Movie, Best Actor (F. Murray Abraham), and Best Director (Milos Forman). Please also check out this wonderful fansite for this great film.

Friday, December 10, 2004

First it was the grilled cheese sandwich put up for bidding on ebay. Said person who put it up for sale testified, "I made this sandwich 10 years ago, when I took a bite out of it, I saw a face looking up at me, It was Virgin Mary starring back at me" No kidding. Eventually bidding for the elusive toast went up until an online casino bought it for $28,000. Now the winning casino is trying to recover their investments by offering their latest promotion:

Now you can order your own miracle! Amazing! Like I can now have my very own Elvis sighting on top of my sandwich! Wow. Speaking of celebrity sightings, ET recently made a surprise appearance inside a Nutri-Grain box. It was eventually auctioned off to a handsome price of $1035. Incredible!
The mean Grinches are at it again. After an atheist, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to have prayers in school banned starting June 17, 1963, everything started to go downhill with more ludicrous pronouncements for banning Christian symbols for no apparent reason other than it being offensive. There are numerous recent examples like the 10 commandments monument that was banned off City Hall and Judiciary property, culminating with the move to have the Pledge of Allegiance and Declaration of Independence banned from schools because of the line "under God" and for acknowledging the existence of a Creator. Last year the Salvation Army was sued by the ACLU for discrimination and now they're going after the Boy Scouts for another charge of discrimination, but not before attacking popular symbols of Christmas that acknowledges, however slight, a reference to Judeo-Christian beliefs. Like, need we remind them why we're celebrating Christmas in the first place? I would have labeled them as Scrooges except that even Charles Dicken's Christmas Carol was banned from school! Other ludicrous things that are happening in parts of the U.S. include the banning of Nativity scenes but Muslim and Jewish symbols allowed, New Jersey School bans Christmas carols, Florida bans nativity scene Courthouse bans nativity scene, etc. They charge conservatives and Christian majority with bullying the minorities but with these things happening right now, it wouldn't be hard to figure out who the bullies are (what's the basis of their judgment anyway?). God cannot be mocked and to keep Him or any knowledge of Him away from people will be at our own peril. Christians and conservatives shouldn't keep quiet and let liberals get away with these small victories eroding the very foundation that U.S. government is standing on. First we should keep in mind that all moral laws had its roots in the 10 commandments of God, join every move to have prayers reinstated in school, to defend the pledge of allegiance as a basic right of you Americans, and to know your rights in putting up Judeo-Christian symbols of Christmas as stated by The Rutherford Institute's 12 Rules of Christmas. If any one of those pin heads come up to you and sue you for offending them with your rightful displays of Christian belief, it's great to know that you also have the Thomas More Law Center on your side as well. I just pray that the good Lord will cause these grinches' small hearts to grow three sizes one day.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Click to read the entire strip

There was no big deal about Kat's mistake in her blog entry but the idea led my friend Lyndon to create this comic that really should have a follow up story. Hehe.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

This is great! I'm finally getting the hang of doing sitcom humor in the strip! Hehe. Cool!

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Painful crick in my neck prevented me from having a fitful sleep last night. Instead of anticipating a couple of wonderfully weird dreams last night I had a couple of short episodes in between those short waking moments when turning on the bed means being woken up by painful stabs at the back resulting in little nightmares that has Johnny Depp starring as a serial killer. That would have been great ('ol Johnny in an other one of his weird roles that we always anticipate) except that his way of killing people involved hiding himself on the roof and throwing bricks on passersby in the middle of the day. Not very exciting. I even got "hit" a couple of times on the arm while I was trying to run away from him.

Monday, December 06, 2004

My writer friend and churchmate who created the hit Fantaserye (fantasy series) Mulawin was featured in one of yesterday's Sunday Times Magazine! The show isn't a surprise to me since she already mentioned its conceptualization last July 11 on our way to a friend's wake in Manila Memorial Park, what surprised me the most was the HUGE following among local TV viewers! I haven't watched any episode beyond the first one because of my erratic schedule but judging from the reactions from the growing number of friends who watch it and from newspaper and magazine reviews, I must say it's really phenomenal! Those who aren't familiar with the show can check out two official blogs: Mulawin Network (which has screenshots from every episode along with the corresponding captions) and Mulawin (where production scenes are explained in detail) to get a feel on what this successful show is all about.

Part of yersterday's article about my friend reads:
Competition gave birth to what is now the biggest hit on prime-time television. And Abi Lam was at the center of it all. Scriptwriters like herself were told that soap operas no longer attracted the audience.

"We were told that what prime time needs now is a 'super soap'," she explains in the vernacular. "One that will get people talking, bowl them over in a positive way. A super soap that will change the trend in Philippine television."

At that time, water creatures were making waves for GMA's rival station so Lam and her fellow GMA writers logically decided on "heavenly creatures."

"We started asking ourselves what characters would be considered 'heavenly creatures'," she continues. "But we decided against angels to avoid a show that's too preachy. And that was when Mulawin was born; a story that would soar high above on the wings of birds."

"In the case of Mulawin, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we don't show the realities of evil. We do show them but in a way that won't scare the viewers, most especially the children. But at the end of confrontations between the Mulawins and the bad guys, we show what is right and what is good." (read the whole article here)
Awright! I asked her about the release of the entire episodes on DVD and she said that it's still in the works. I can't wait for it to come out so I can finally watch the series without those annoying commercials interrupting my enjoyment.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

After watching last year's surprise box office hit from Unitel Pictures I was ready for more. This, I proclaimed, would usher in the start of a brand new age in Philippine Cinema! After more than a decade of mediocre presentations that yielded brown and green jokes in the guise of slapstick comedy, hysterical dramas, exaggerated actions movies, and sex flicks, the audience deemed it time to move on. Then came another year and the same studio came out with another offering titled, Santa Santita ("Sanctimonious"). I've been wanting to watch ever since the first day of showing but weeks came by and every chance I got to watch the move didn't push through until today. Me and my mom's expectations were soaring high from the promise of a great plot, a great director, a couple of great veteran actors (specifically Cherry Pie Picache, Johnny Delgado, and Hilda Coronel), and of course a studio that couldn't do wrong. Now I can sum up my verdict in two words: IT SUCKS!!! I can't believe the Cinema Evaluation Board gave it a grade of "A"! An "A"?! A "C" would have been more appropriate and generous too if I were to give the grade. Grrr!

The promising story revolves around Malen (Angelica Panganiban), the only child of a pious intercessor, Chayong (Hilda Koronel). Chayong is one of the group of "mandarasal" or prayer ladies who take their positions at the entrance of the Quiapo Church day after day listening to the prayers and confessions of people who have something in need while Malen is one of the scapular and rosary vendors hawking their wares in the church premises outside. Very much the opposite of her mother, Malen is a rebel who dresses seductively and dreams having a really good time away from her mother. She meets a driver cum tour guide for hire named Mike (Jericho Rosales) during one of her rounds and the two hit it off immediately. While Malen likes to live on the edge, Mike is like the devil incarnate who succeeds in seducing her to the dark side. A very worried Chayong offers up a prayer exchanging her life for her daughter's safety after the latter dallied off with her new found lover. Chayong soon dies of heart failure soon before Malen came home. With tongues wagging and clucking, the neighbors and Chayong's co-prayer ladies condemned her for causing her saintly mother's death. With no other source of income to pay the rent and put food on the table, she was forced to take over her mother's role in Quiapo Church. What started out as a pasttime turned out to be something more creepy when all the intercession prayers for difficult and impossible problems began to be answered. Soon word began to spread out causing the head priest to turn her away from the premises. She's forced to set up a prayer area where she could receive the sick and those in dire need of prayers in her backyard, a sympathetic nun (Cherry Pie Picache) and a temporarily exiled priest (Johnny Delgado) looked over her welfare. While Malen tries to make sense of everything that's been happening to her, Mike returns to her after a long absence and seduces her again. This causes a bigger discomfort as God seemed to directly intervene in all their lives using a chain of events to teach everyone involved a lesson.

Said story would have made a lot more sense if they didn't make some unnecessary scenes so overdrawn and the ending rushed. They could have edited the whole thing and explained why it happened to Malen, explain the head priest's sexist remarks and antipathy towards this exemplary relevant instance as an example of Jesus wanting to reach out to the poor, an explanation or at least a focus on the exiled priest's case that was being investigated and his new found faith (the poor man was driven to drink and smoking out of depression), and an explanation or at least a focus on what made Mike change his mind and change for the better. I must also commend Jericho Rosales for coming up with such a convincing character (he's the kind of villain you'd really love to hate while at the same time sympathizing with him for the troubles he's seen). He's quite a surprise in this movie and very far off from his usual sweety-sweety leading man roles. It's quite unfortunate that this movie that could and should have dissected the different reactions to religion and theology from the religious to the blasphemous failed to deliver what could have been a deeper look on what defines the Filipino's faith. Sayang.

How many stories can you tell from this picture?
I had two interesting dreams last night:
The first one had me existing as one of those anthromorphic bears in a bear world where a bunch of them are chained on one foot to an island that rises and falls depending on whose turn it was to hear a message (sort of like a literal captured audience thing). I dared to be different and refused to be chained like the others and somehow I knew that I was also the best swimming bear around the place. Swimming from one island to the next while the rest of those bears on the edges of the island could only watch. A preacher was preaching to the bears about salvation and while I was standing around the island that rose up, I noticed a bear in the distance was stumbling in the dark. At least it looked as if he was stumbling in the dark, or maybe he was just drunk. As he walked up towards the gate trying to feel his way, he tripped quite loudly which got the attention of most of the bears listening. A spottled black and white Great Dane came out of the gate walking on its hind legs and told off the bumbling bear for creating such a racket before pushing him in and closing the gate behind him.
The dream was cut off in the middle when my sister called me on the cellphone asking me to open the door because she was locked out of the house by mistake. I looked at the clock on my way back to bed and saw that it was 2:30 a.m. I tried to back to sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, wanting to continue the dream. It took some time (a couple of turns on the bed) before I finally got to sleep and the second dream played in my head:
The second dream had me and soome four other actors acting out a scene from a movie. I forgot who the other actors and actresses were (there three of the former and two of the latter) although I could still distinctly recall that one of them was Samuel L. Jackson. We were travelling on EDSA inside a car cramped with so many passengers, complete strangers who got stranded on the way home. We were picked up by somebody and to relieve the uncomfortable silence, the driver asked us to introduce ourselves. Not wanting to give out my real name, I said my name was "John" (an english translation of my second name). The one beside me asked me, "Only John?" I said "Jon Cash." That settled the name for the character it seems, that my reel name was John Moolah. Don't ask. I forgot why I wrote the name down on paper, but I th ink it was to clear up the confusion. I scribbled, "John 'Cash' Moolah" and handed it to the one beside me. The handwriting, it seemed wasn't that clear to him as he read it, "John 'Adams' Moolah?" I had to explain to him that it was "Cash" not "Adams". While we were talking, Samuel Jackson pulled out a knife and announced that he was highjacking the car. By that time we were passing by Pasig River and we saw a big commotion happening out there because the government has drain out the whole thing and big construction equipments were dredging the muddy bottom (mostly sandy bottom) and hauling out ancient tribal mummies. These mummies looked blackened and very withered and the thought occurred to me that these were the bodies of people who committed suicide and/or those who drowned accidently in the murky waters of the river. The highjacking was forgotten and we stopped the car a little further down the road just after passing the river. I went down to the other side and watched the big tractors drudge the whole thing. Then another thought came to mind that my reel whole name was John Wisemoolah, something like the famous Tarzan actor (don't really ask). That's when I connected the fact to my first dream (that I was a really good swimmer) to the second one. The fact that I was able to consciously think about this while thinking it was all so normal is beyond me. Then I went back to the other side near where we parked the car where an undeveloped land full of banana trees and wild grass were still growing (this was a reference to the time I was a kid before the area was developed into a restaurant cum cafe). Again seeming so natural, I immediately knew that this was the area where Revolutionary Hero, Gregorio Del Pilar, was killed in an ambush and a crude shrine was erected over his exposed bones still on the ground. Putting the matter of the dredged mummies and Del Pilar's bones was a bit too much, I crossed to the other side where the Guadaluper Commercial Center's standing and met up with the others who got into the craze of the dredged mummies that they were lugging handfuls of shopping bags full of souvenirs (the event apparently sparked a trend). I remember they were all smiles as they exchanged stories about the wonderful things that they found.
That's the last thing I remembered.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

The only pop-culture event to cap the entire year is finally over. It was way better than our last outing although the alloted time for the event was shorter. The event titled una kAME was held inside the University of the Philippines' Bahay ng Alumni Building and started around after lunch. I got there sometime past 11 a.m. and most of the Artists' Den members have already set up their stuff on the tables provided. Contestants were having their final rehearsals onstage giving us samples of things to come. Come 1 p.m. the gates of the venue opened for business and curious anime fans started pouring in. Not necessarily in our direction but still any crowd is good. Sometimes people would wander in our area and cautiously scan the indie comics spread on the tables. They're partial to "serious" drawings or anything that remotely resembles Japanese manga but not those with cartoony contents but that's okay. Business started to pick up middle of the afternoon when the sizeable crowd attracted to cosplayers came in droves. There were a couple of surprise visits from the peeps connected to the local comic community like Woofydogg (whose Filipino Comic Book site is a valuable resource) and there were others like silverskie, who I got to know from deviantART.com. As for the performers on stage, there were some good ones (like the female quartet who sang like Enya), the guest yo-yo acrobats, and this one female cosplayer who sang the english version of the Voltes V theme (that got most of us singing along with her and yelling afterwards for her to follow it up with the theme song of Mazinger Z or Daimos). Here are some of the pictures from the event:

Lico in ninja mode

Woofy and silverskie

Camy modelling the latest Beerkada shirt

Cosplayer 1

Cosplayer 2

View from the table

Denners selling their wares

Agent Smith on stage

All in all it was a very fun event, a time well spent with good friends and promoting our craft to new audiences. My only complaint is about the ear-popping performances of J-rock inspired bands. The program organizers could have at least waited till the very last part for them to come on stage. The last picture with Az and RG performing original compositions were fine though. There should have been, I think, three more members in that band but got sick or something. The first song they did sounded something like out my fave 80s new wave band, New Order, would do in a concert early in their career. Unmistakable techno-pop music and drum machine beats, guitars, and an unsure vocals barely heard over the music (die hard new wavers out there would surely know what I'm talking about). Very nice. I've asked Az about it and he told me they'll try to come out with an mp3 version of their music sometime in the future.

Friday, December 03, 2004

I usually dread having to lay out pages for the comic owing to the fact that I didn't have any idea which page goes where and I have to fix the margins every so often so that the images wouldn't go beyond the set margins of the printer. Tis wouldn't be much of a problem really if I knew how to work a Pagemaker. As it is I tried doing it Photoshop and have now settled on doing it in MS Word. Is this pathetic or what? But as long as it works, why not?

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