Rotten, But Still Sweet: A Slices of Life Martial Law Special

Would this have been possible?

I probably wouldn’t have had a computer and a keyboard, but a typewriter and paper. It would be what it was– a much simpler time devoid of technology.

Would I be this willing to speak? To mention names and grievances so freely? I don’t really know if my opinion would have mattered back then, but was it the sole concept of having an opinion against the government that served as basis for the atrocities that happened?

These were just some of the thoughts that were running through my mind (and are still doing so), as I read through articles that commemorated the proclamation of Martial Law. I admit that it isn’t a date in our history that sticks to me as well as June 12, and so I have social media to thank for reminding me about this pivotal point in our history (forgive me for this!!!).

The commemoration of the proclamation of Martial Law feels extremely timely, especially in the wake of a supposed Binay- Marcos tandem come 2016. When asked whether he would apologize for his father’s mistakes during Martial Law, this was Bongbong’s response:

“Will I say sorry for the thousands and thousands of kilometers [of roads] that were built? Will I say sorry for the agricultural policy that brought us to self-sufficiency in rice? Will I say sorry for the power generation? Will I say sorry for the highest literacy rate in Asia? What am I to say sorry about?””

One wonders whether he was simply ignorant of the things that happened, or he simply refused to acknowledge them. We can only hope that this won’t be a ‘like father, like son’ instance.

Beyond the economic progress and educational reform was the price of free speech, of media. Individuals that had years to go and a life ahead of them were traumatized and oftentimes killed all because they weren’t afraid to speak their minds.

This is definitely a stark contrast to the life led by the youth today– us.

The advent of technology and the freedom of speaking out have made the concept of opinions and thoughts seem almost useless. We hide behind pseudonyms and IP addresses and the comfort of knowing that we’ll never get caught.

This results in opinions for opinion’s sake. (I have been guilty of this numerous times– this blog is a testament to that).

I’m not saying it’s wrong to exercise this freedom, but there are times when speaking your mind should be done with a certain positive aim in mind: one that leads to action. Why should we limit ourselves to being the nameless sect of ‘netizens’ that bash politicians when the things we talk about on social media platforms can be discussions that encourage us to make the move?

Instead of hating on Binay for his skin color (which is underhanded even for someone like Binay), why not make the move to register and actually vote come 2016? In the mean time, why not make it a point to educate people on candidates, their policies and their past? Educate people to make the right choice.Propose solutions for everyday issues like traffic and BEEP cards instead of being complainers. Write rationally, post politely.

Better yet, use social mediums to instigate positive change.

The youth needs to know about these stories– about the atrocities, the deaths and the trauma that probably still lingers today. Perhaps it is awareness of what these activists, writers etc. went through that will truly open the eyes of those who still seem to not see the bigger picture.

Here’s to hoping that once awareness kicks in, appreciation for the freedom to speak out will follow, and along with this: the responsible use of extensive mediums like social media.

Today is not a happy day. #NeverAgain

Postscript: Jerrold Tarog’s got an extensive trilogy of period films to work on, so I’m calling on the future Brilliante Mendozas of this country– make a film about Martial Law. I’ve heard of the movie Dekada 70 (Vilma Santos, Luis Manzano..?) but haven’t seen works about it since. Consider it, please!!!!


Hope for the Future: A Review of “Heneral Luna”

Although Philippine cinema is still  littered  with its share of questionable films (“Etiquette for Mistresses”????, “Ex with Benefits”????), Jerrold Tayog proves that there’s much hope for the future of Philippine film.

Enter Heneral Luna.

This film is no atypical biopic– one at begins at one’s early years, or opts for a less conventional flashback ending, as most do. Instead, it begins somewhere in the middle, right in the heat of the action. The plot mixes historical reality with tinges of fictionalized events, and thus proves to be a challenge to recount without unintentional ‘spoilage’.

One thing I do advise is a quick look through of the events that follow the intrusion of the Americans into the Filipino-Spanish brouhaha (sometime around 1899, to be exact), in order to get a feel of where the story is at.

John Arcilla is impeccable in the titular role–breathing dynamic personality into the character of Antonio Luna. He plays brusque to an almost brilliant degree. Yet he comes off a little one dimensional in some scenes that require Luna’s signature ‘temper’ to shine through.

Comedians Leo Martinez and Archie Alemania unintentionally inject humor into the film (perhaps because of their prominence as comedians), but do so in such a way that they prove not to overwhelm the film’s more serious bits. They also prove themselves capable actors that are able to transcend their comedic roots without much difficulty.

Mon Confiado plays Luna’s stoic polar opposite Emilio Aguinaldo, brought to brilliant life with both hair and understated flair. The film paints Aguinaldo in an odd light, one that makes him seem like the real pushover in his own government (could anyone offer me insight with regard to how this was a stark contrast to his portrayal in El Presidente?) . At the end of the day (hair jokes aside), Aguinaldo is the puppet master of the revolution, and he, in turn, is played around with by the Americans.

Epi Quizon may seem underutilized in his role as the sublime paralytic Apolinario Mabini, but shows us in his acting that he may know more than he’s letting on.

The film lacks a strong female presence, but does the Filipina woman true justice in its portrayals. Mylene Dizon’s Isabel is no obedient lover, but a woman brave enough to face her ‘lover’ Luna in negotiations. Luna’s mother is a warm presence in his life, proving to be one of the few people who can calm him down.

Needless to say, the production value of the film is impressive. From picturesque shots of soldiers walking the fields to the incredible aerial shot of Luna in contemplation, the movie was clearly made with a meticulous eye. The dialogue is in conversational Filipino (or perhaps, Tagalog to be politically correct?) and is sprinkled with tinges of Spanish and even French. The best parts of the film are Luna’s moments of unbridled brashness– most of which are probably understood (and appreciated) only by Pinoys.

[I’m reserving a separate post in order to jot down my interpretations of scenes in the film that very much parallel our current political situation.]

Heneral Luna brings to impressive life characters that only used to live in our textbooks– imbuing them with a certain level of humanity that makes them reachable to the modern day Filipino. This is not a film that’s here simply to make you brush up on your Hekasi– it’s here to teach a lesson, one that seems extremely timely in our contemporary age.

Just. Say. It: More than a Cake, Less than A Slice Edition

There should be a quest out there to make the world of opinions a more responsible place. But the real question is: in a world of more than seven billion people, is that ever going to become reality?

1. Pabebe All Over: A Pre Election Edition 

‘May Bagong Umagang Darating’… really now?

As if Philippine politics hasn’t been hopeless enough, pre-campaign commercials are beginning to populate television (including a not-needed return to ‘Nakaligo ka na ba sa dagat ng basura’ part 2), and we’re supposed to be okay with this. Most people would encourage rage or disgust, or the need to post our grievances on social media. There was a point in my blogging life that I did that as well– until I grew up.

Presenting: the four point election action plan (by: ME!)

  • Educate. Research on the people positioning themselves on the election playing field. Learn to dig deep, and to go beyond news features that tend to focus on the superficial. Somewhere out there is an article from five years ago that might just change your impressions about someone for the worse.
  • Encourage. Discourse is one thing to encourage, another is action. Talk to people about the elections, and about the issues that matter to them. Frame conversations in the context of what these people have done to make the issues that matter heard. Dig beyond one time quotations and look into the past.
  • Express. It always helps to be heard, but ‘expression’ is something we sometimes take for granted. Provide facts to support your arguments– live the debater lifestyle.
  • Enact. Defined as ‘acting out a role’ (specifically onstage). When framed in the context of the elections, this involves going beyond the internet in order to take concrete action. Register to vote, and go out to actually vote on election day. Informed opinions are the only opinions that matter.

2. BEEP BEEP BEEP: An Update

One of my previous slices pieces offered a brief rant about the delay in the test implementation of BEEP cards in LRT 2 stations. Much to my relief, they actually managed to pull the test period off!

For the first few weeks, I have to admit I was thoroughly impressed with the process. The DOTC machines looked shiny and new, there were kind and accommodating attendants who made the effort to teach people the new system… my only gripe would have to do with how the turnstiles for BEEP cards were placed not in the main entrances (where the escalators were), but in the back [commuting is hard enough, but having to deal with stairs? BLOODY HELL].

Yet, it comes as no surprise to me that the issues would emerge. From undetectable cards to the sudden system failure of machines that clearly worked, the DOTC still has a long way to go before this system can be fully implemented.

Let’s hope that they’re able to pull things off, for the benefit of all of us.

3. INC: Why? 

I have not done sufficient research about the background of this story (and, I apologize because it is technically irrelevant as of today’s news day), so I will not offer an extensive argument with regard to the ‘church and state’ aspect of this issue.

Instead, I will say what I do know, and what I have seen– a clear assertion of power. One that benefited no one, and was merely meant to be a statement that was only said because of power. It’s sad to think that people like that have amassed so much influence that they’ve even managed to keep the most infamously opinionated politicians quiet (I’m looking at you, Binay).

Postscript: A Katipunan Commuter Story 

One of the main reasons I decided to put up something tonight (despite my busy schedule) was to express my thoughts on something that I believe needs to be talked about. 

As if it wasn’t hard enough to nab a trike during the weekday mornings along 7-11 (formerly Ministop), things are about to get so much harder with the announcement of the closure of Esteban Abada (correct me if I’m wrong, please) because of the need for infrastructure repairs.

I’m writing this now to look for people that can help me establish context.

  1. Why did they decide to not allow trikes along Katipunan Avenue anymore?
  2. What is the context behind the need for these repairs?
  3. Any idea how long this will take, and how it will affect trike accessibility along that area?

Let me end by painting these pictures:

Imagine you have a 7:30 am class. You get up early, prep early, and ride a train by 6:45. By the time you get to Abada you’ve got some time left over (it’s about 7:05 am, and you’re okay). But then, you stand in line, and then you wait, and you wait, and before long… it’s 7:30. And guess what? You’re late.

Imagine you’re a trike driver. You want to make the most of your days so you make sure to get as much passengers as you can (safely) in one trike. But then traffic strikes, gas prices go up, and it becomes so much harder to navigate along Katipunan. It doesn’t help that you have to picky about passengers as well. What’s a guy to do?