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.
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.
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
Because our short memory as nation is becoming legendary, and these days the manufactured noise is enough to distract us from what happened just yesterday, it seems important to review Torre de Manila, now that DMCI is going to get away with continuing its construction, as the Supreme Court has found that “The court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter; the petitioners (Knights of Rizal) have no standing to sue; and they (petitioners) stand to suffer no injury. Furthermore,… Continue reading »
Once again, Malacañang’s spokespersons had it wrong, commenting on the Madam Secretary episode before they even saw it, putting it into question for whatever it was that they were told it contained: a fictional Philippine President who’s punched in the face by the fictional US Secretary of State, for having made a sexual advance at her. That image, of a Philippine President, nose bleeding from the punch made the rounds, and of course the President’s propagandists and his spokespersons went on… Continue reading »
It came to me on the evening of February 21: why not “live” tweet the events of the EDSA People Power Revolution of 1986 as it happened? How hard could it be, I thought. I remember one year when the now defunct (but quite missed!) communications office of the previous government, which had Manolo Quezon in charge of history, actually sought to “live” tweet EDSA 1986, too. Besides, the original chronology of EDSA’s four days by Angela Stuart-Santiago is online… Continue reading »
First, an aside. I steered clear of writing about Miss Universe, any more than I already had long before the pageant even started its activities in this country. I stood and still stand squarely against holding the pageant here, especially at a time when we face the crises of poverty and need, of climate change and intermittent floods, when the dead are being collected off our streets, when the promise of change has yet to even be felt in fundamental,… Continue reading »
One of the more critical battles that any cultural institution should be waging at this point is the one against the unjust taxation of freelance cultural workers. This was one of Daang Matuwid’s most unkind tax policies, which was put into effect by former tax chief Kim Henares, for whom it didn’t matter how much a person earned, what mattered was that government could collect taxes on those earnings. I had hoped President Duterte’s men would take a look at… Continue reading »
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 »
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 »
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 »
At the onset, having a light romance / romantic-comedy as part of the Metro Manila Film Festival’s self-proclaimed “change” and “revolution” was a good thing: it tells us that they weren’t deciding against certain genres just because these are considered “pop” and “therefore shallow” — it is after all easy to presume that all love stories are about the happy endings, and one can spot the formula from a mile away. But even formula has allowed for an amount of creativity in the rom-com through the… Continue reading »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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.
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 »
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 »