Category Archives: arts and culture

Tuesday ∗ 19 Sep 2017

Unity, protest, cultural work #Sept21 #Luneta

It was in early August when I was asked to be convenor of the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT), a multi-sectoral gathering of various groups and individuals who are taking a stand against the killings, the state of tyranny, and the return of dictatorship. Admittedly, I was hesitant about saying yes. I was not part of any organization, and was being invited primarily as independent writer. At this point I had already resigned my column with The Manila Times, which I realized afterwards was a… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 25 Jul 2017

Everything I needed to learn about writing, I learned through blogging

And I mean old school blogging via this blog, which first went up in 2008, a gift from my Kuya who had also pushed the mother to start blogging two years earlier. At the time there was an active blogging scene with intellectuals and pundits writing and discussing issues of the day, bouncing off each other, openly debating. Trolling was frowned upon, as was namecalling. Anonymity was put into question. I like to think of that time to have been pre-Joe… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 11 Jul 2017

The question of Bracken

The premise of Dear And Unhappy is a simple question: what of Josephine Bracken? Rizal’s wife and / or lover, depending on who you believe. Or depending on your internalized racism against the Irish woman our National Hero was enamored with — it is after all why Bracken remains marginalized in narratives about Jose Rizal’s life; it also has arguably spawned multiple texts about Bracken — the less we know about someone the more exciting our stories about her.

Saturday ∗ 08 Jul 2017

Political insidiousness, public complicity

Boses ng Masa is deceptively simple and painfully familiar, which is what’s both good and bad about it: the discussion is worth having, but you can see that ending from a mile away. It’s not that you’ve seen this before, as it is that you have lived it.

MMFF, transparency, big words

The Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) is all of six months away, and here we are already talking with such passion about what the film industry needs and what the audiences deserve, quality versus commercial, small film producers versus big production companies, new versus old, change change change. There is very little that we know so far, probably owing to what recently resigned MMFF Execom Member Roland Tolentino has said is a “confidentiality clause” on their work with MMFF. What… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 16 Jun 2017

Death of culture (3): Lizaso’s vision for stagnation

The shameless conservatism in Nick Lizaso’s press release about his plans and vision for the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), is ironic when one considers that we have a President who questions Catholicism and dogmatism time and again, and who insists on his freedom of speech – if not his freedom to offend – over and over. President Duterte unilaterally installed Lizaso as CCP head. But even the President himself would not pass the rules and regulations that Lizaso… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 12 Jun 2017

Death of culture (2): Cultish leadership for CCP

President Duterte’s installation of Nick Lizaso as head of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) is painfully ironic – if not dangerously so. On the one hand, it is clear that this President doesn’t care much about culture, so one wonders why he would appoint any of his men to these cultural leadership positions. On the other, one can see this as a statement in itself about what Duterte thinks about culture: anyone can lead it, never mind that… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 09 Jun 2017

Lizaso at CCP: Death of culture (1)

The problems of the sectors of arts and culture in this country are multifarious, and there is no doubt that any of us cultural workers who are at the bottom of the totem pole can only believe in the possibilities of change, and look forward to it, too. Many of us try and work towards that change, but if cultural work is your bread and butter – and you’re not one of the lucky ones who comes from privilege to… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 23 Jan 2017

Good news, bad news for culture

Ever since President Duterte came into power, the only time(s) we’ve ever had a sense of what he thinks of arts and culture is when he appoints people to cultural institutions. And then there are those instances when we just hear people speaking as supporters of the President. Say, Freddie Aguilar saying he had been promised a Department of Culture and in place of that, the chairmanship of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). Or that time… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 13 Jan 2017

Selling relevance, using current events

The family drama is … ahem … a Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) tradition, one that’s produced some interesting enough versions from the Tanging Ina series to Mano Po. And so it was no surprise that the purported / sold / imagined “change” via MMFF 2016 would deem it necessary to have a “family drama.” It was “Kabisera.” And while it did fulfill all the requirements for a family drama, i.e., there was a family, and there was a crisis, and the family pulled together —… Continue reading »

Thursday ∗ 05 Jan 2017

Beyond the horror

I’m a sucker for the Pinoy horror film formula: a scary setting, well-done sound design, the gulat factor. I’m the person in the cinema who will scream first, and the loudest, the person who is so ready to be scared. But of course the fear factor is only one of many aspects of the horror film, and one realizes given the effort that is put into a movie like Seklusyon (directed by Erik Matti, written by Anton C. Santamaria), that there is more to doing… Continue reading »

Thursday ∗ 29 Dec 2016

The septic tank as critique

Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2 #ForeverIsNotEnough is probably the most fun I’ve had in a local film since … well, the first Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank. It’s not that I do not find commercialized comedies funny — the ones that fall back on formula, the hilarious banter of every Vice Ganda movie character, even Sosy Problems from so many MMFFs ago. But there is a layer of intelligence that ABSST demands of itself, an ability at self-reflexivity that it demands of its audience, but… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 23 Dec 2016

Film, art in a time of change

AFTER a good seven years of doing the arts and culture beat, writing reviews, doing cultural assessments, I have surprised even myself that my interest seems to have dwindled. It’s not that nothing’s going on, as it all just seems secondary to the state of the nation, the urgencies of which cannot be overstated at this point in time. When you don’t have a government that delivers credible information, and no opposition that provides an alternative ideological viewpoint, and all… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 13 Sep 2016

Dear President Duterte,

The details are scant, but there is an agenda to be presented to you based on a National Development Meeting for the Arts Summit that happened on September 5. Sadly, if those kinds of exclusive, by-invitation only meetings continue, then this agenda cannot even begin to represent the arts and culture sectors it promises to speak for. As a private endeavor by Njel De Mesa, there’s no way to insist that he open up the summit to all cultural workers;… Continue reading »

Thursday ∗ 08 Sep 2016

Liza Diño, FDCP workers, martial law #culturalcrisis

Let me call it now. With 12 members of the staff terminated in the first week of her leadership, Liza Diño has put the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) under a version of Martial Law. And because Martial Law is about silencing critics, too, I hear that the search is on for who exactly my sources are. This, instead of Diño actually replying to these allegations — I would gladly be disproved after all. But what I’m looking at are not just 12 employees given pink slips by Diño. I’m… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 02 Sep 2016

Notes on an arts and culture agenda: a lack of representation

One of the reasons I became hopeful about having President Duterte as our country’s leader was the fact that I’ve heard him speak consistently about better treatment for workers via such measures as an end to endo, tax reform and the streamlining of government services, as well as his stance on making oligarchs and capitalists also responsible for treating workers better. I knew this would redound to the benefit of cultural workers as well.

Wednesday ∗ 31 Aug 2016

Notes on an arts and culture agenda: A situationer

The recent events in our arts and culture institutions have made me think about my relationship with these organizations, given how I stand in favor of its independence, and against all these questionable government appointments. See, the discipline I grew into in the academe was one that was critical of these institutions, looking always at the ways in which these are created to perpetuate the same forms and aesthetics that are primarily (arguably) based on the padrino system – a… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 30 Aug 2016

Notes on an arts and culture agenda: Freddie, Liza, Cecile, Nick, Irene

I take back all instances in which I said I believed in the creation of a cultural department. Because I disagree. I disagree with Freddie Aguilar, self-proclaimed, unconfirmed political appointee, who says that a culture ministry is what we need to address the needs of the cultural sector. No. Having been a cultural worker all my adult life, studying the laws that govern our cultural institutions, and now specifically in light of the unilateral decision of President Duterte to appoint… Continue reading »

Saturday ∗ 13 Aug 2016

A sense of cultural history #BriccioSantosAtTheFDCP

When they opened the Cinematheque Centre in Manila in December 2015, the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) headed by Chairperson Briccio Santos, thought it would go the way of the four other Cinematheques they’ve opened in the provinces. That is, it would slowly gain a following as the audience for film screenings gradually grows. The slow but steady climb was a well-founded expectation. In Iloilo, Davao, Baguio and Zamboanga, the Cinematheques took time to take off, the public’s… Continue reading »

Thursday ∗ 28 Jul 2016

Media madness #DuterteSONA2016

It was hilarious actually, watching media make a mess of their SONA 2016 coverage — and we’re not even talking about those “power shots” of the President’s nostrils and hands. In fact, I’m not even talking about the SONA itself — for how can media mess up that coverage when we were all stuck with video from Brillante Mendoza? I’m talking about the pre-event coverage, when our congressmen and senators arrive at the Batasang Pambansa. In the past, this was the time and… Continue reading »

Sunday ∗ 12 Jun 2016

Dreaming of a People’s TV

There were two dominant reactions to the proposal of a People’s Television in the last column. One was a belief that what was meant was Marcosian Martial Law television. The other was a yawn – it has been said before, planned before, imagined before, and nothing ever came of it. What it is not: Marcosian TV It bears repeating that nowhere in that column about a People’s TV did I assert that it should be similar to or go in… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 10 Jun 2016

Possibilities for a (real) People’s Television (finally!)

It has gotten such a negative reaction, the statement of incoming Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar, that the Rodrigo Duterte government will print its own tabloid, build a website, and do a weekly presidential TV and radio talk show. The naysayers in our midst with no sense of hope nor creativity, rebel rousers interested only in the cause of discrediting everything this new government plans to do, have laughed at the idea, not to mention raised fears… Continue reading »

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