Category Archives: arts and culture

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 »

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 »

Wednesday ∗ 06 Apr 2016

Tungkol sa kultural na paggawa

Walang pagkilos na kultural na hindi nababalot ng kontradiksyon. Kontradiksyon ang eleksyon at ang pagsampa ng kahit na sinong artista sa entablado ng sortie. Kontradiksyon ang pagsusulat bilang hanapbuhay para sa pulitiko. Kontradiksyon ang pagsusulat ng opinion column para sa diyaryong pagaari ng big business o oligarkiya. (AKO)

Tuesday ∗ 15 Mar 2016

#womensmonth2016: censoring our words, our bodies

the trailer of the movie “Ang Taba Ko Kasi,” a trailer that has been online since February 1, a good month and half ago, has been deemed by the Movie Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) as unfit for public exhibition. lead actress Cai Cortez posted the MTRCB decision on her instagram, obviously and understandably exasperated by the decision.

Sunday ∗ 13 Mar 2016

#womensmonth2016: those darn shoes

while elsewhere in the world the discussions for women’s day and women’s month 2016 have been on the level of celebrity women’s bodies and slutshaming, role models and raising our young girls, in the Philippines we have a government that cannot even pretend to know what women need, much less what we want.

Wednesday ∗ 17 Feb 2016

Pacquiao self-destructs

we knew it was coming yes? i mean Manny Pacquiao was always coddled and forgiven, he could do no wrong. this is what we tend to do for anyone we declare hero. because in a nation in dire need of some good vibes, some wins in the midst of too many losses, we make heroes out of, and i paraphrase Pia Wurtzbach here: basketball stars, beauty queens, and boxers.

Thursday ∗ 28 Jan 2016

Ai Weiwei, beyond Western claims

Though it was apt to kick-off a year with the promise of writing more about art, and hopefully more about art outside of this country (haha!), with the first Ai Weiwei exhibit in China, something that I happened upon when I was there in September, and rebelling against the very fixed and strict schedule set for the media group I was with. So I got in a cab and asked in my Chinese-English (which is really just English with a… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 25 Jan 2016

Blaspheming against the bul-ol

There is no looking at Ronald Ventura’s work without having in the back of my head that $1.1M dollar record-breaking sale at the 2011 Sotheby’s auction. In 2012 it seems he’s also had a good run at art auctions such as the Christie’s auction in Hong Kong last last year, which shouldn’t be a surprise really. Between the interest in Southeast Asian art and 2011’s record-breaking sale, it would seem strange if Ventura were not to ride that wave. It… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 04 Jan 2016

15 from 2015: kultura

I wasn’t very good at doing arts and culture in the country the past year. But here’s a list of the strange, the good, the surprising in culture for 2015, not at all a best or worst list because … see the first sentence. First a critical aside: having worked as dramaturg for Kleptomaniacs and a bit with Tanghalang Pilipino in 2014 meant keeping the theater reviews to a minimum in 2015. I needed that time to let go of the little inside stories that I know,… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 06 Oct 2015

Poe and Pinoy cinema #Eleksyon2016

On election season, it is clear when we’re hearing nothing but pa-cute and pa-media mileage, not just because we must be critical of everything we hear, but because usually it is in these instances that candidates slip up, revealing precisely how little they know of the subjects they speak of, and how they presume — they imagine! — that we will believe anything at all that they say.

Sunday ∗ 20 Sep 2015

letter from China 1

A trip to China at this point in time can only be embroiled in questions about the crisis that is the West Philippine Sea dispute. But also it is about everything that we know of China from third world Philippines, where global news means Western media, talking about China and Asia using a gaze that is far from objective, and always necessarily – and maybe inevitably – about protecting the interests of the world-power-that-be, i.e., America. There is nothing like… Continue reading »

Thursday ∗ 27 Aug 2015

Women. Freedom. Rakenrol.*

Tres Marias made up of Bayang Barrios, Cookie Chua and Lolita Carbon will be having a concert at the Music Museum on September 4, Friday. I have no idea what it’s going to be like, but having seen these women on stage, and reading this piece from 2012, tells me it’s going to be quite a show. Click here for tickets! It would’ve been a random night over at 70’s Bistro, though it was so wrong to even imagine that to be… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 22 Jun 2015

Don’t make pakialam my hashtag!*

“This is why Kris Aquino’s tirade against an Instagram follower was utterly surprising; I also can’t believe how media tended to side with her on this one. <…> This is the same woman who has spent much of her TV career “making pakialam” people’s lives via intrusive questions in talk shows. The same woman who “makes pakialam” people’s lives for a living, as she endorses every product imaginable and tells the public: this product is what YOU need in your… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 16 Jun 2015

the F question #mystealthyfreedom

Probably the one thing I am most thankful for having gone to UP Diliman for an undergraduate degree in Comparative Literature in the latter half of the 90s, were the set of literature teachers and minds available to me, the ones who were well-grounded in nation and how and where theories are limited in capturing where we are, what we think, where to go from here. 

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