Category Archives: review

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.

Monday ∗ 01 May 2017

Ressa, Mocha, Fake News

The Canada Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) News website came out with an interesting piece about the state of discourse in the Philippines given mainstream media on the one hand, and the rise of fake news as propaganda on the other. Written by Senior Correspondent Adrienne Arsenault, it had as headline a quote from Rappler’s Maria Ressa, saying that “Democracy as we know it is dead,” which first made me imagine that the article was going to talk about the urgent concerns… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 03 Apr 2017

London Biennale Manila Pollination: The Revolution Loses Steam

The idea of an art biennial in Manila is reason enough to get excited about the London Biennale’s Manila Pollination. The dominant mainstream market-oriented gallery system and the annual celebratory art fairs in Manila have generally meant a lack in critical rigour and artistic vision – two elements that art goers hope a biennale can make up for. Founder (in 1998) and co-curator of the London Biennale Filipino artist David Medalla says in the curatorial note that this biennale is… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 31 Mar 2017

The Singapore Biennale 2016: An Excess of Rhetoric

The mapping of art and nations through a biennale is a foregone conclusion when it is both premise and project, specifically in the case of the Singapore Biennale, the past two editions of which (2011 and 2013) were heavily contextualized in or concerned with the championing of Southeast Asian (SEA) art and artists – no matter the requisite works chosen from across Asia and beyond. The task, conscious or unconscious, is that of representation. One imagines this could be a… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 17 Mar 2017

‘Madam Secretary,’ politics, gender

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 »

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

The Uncritical Subjects, Or How The Empire Strikes Back

One would understand how an exhibit such as Artist And Empire, (En)Countering Colonial Legacies might crumble under the weight of its own baggage – and we’re not even talking about the uproar that surrounded the fundraising gala dinner which the National Gallery Singapore (NGS) had called “The Empire Ball 2016” with attire “black tie and empire.” That’s a trifle really, when one considers that the major exhibition that inspired that gala was conceptualized and done by Tate Britain to plot… Continue reading »

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 »

Monday ∗ 02 Jan 2017

Attempted rape as teenage dream?

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 »

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 »

Sunday ∗ 31 Jan 2016

Art Upstaged: The National Gallery Singapore opens

A media trip to Singapore for any of its arts and culture events – from the Art Biennale to the Writers’ Fest – is always welcome respite from the daily grind of writing. Usually, one is given the time to go through the smaller art galleries and the bigger museums, and one is given the opportunity to see the various cultural projects of both the government and the private sector, over and above what one is invited into the country… 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 »

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 »

Sunday ∗ 12 Apr 2015

the voice of celebrity: love and alex gonzaga, life and bianca gonzalez*

I will always spend some hard-earned cash on books proclaimed as “bestsellers” – not by the non-existent bestseller list of local books (because we compete with uh, Fifty Shades of Grey), but based on the ever reliable, absolutely credible opinion of the National Bookstore ate manning the cash register. These two books are placed among the magazines at the cashier’s counter, and with one hot pink cover, and another that’s filled with eye-catching illustrations, these books easily catch one’s eye.… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 23 Jan 2015

The end of the (art) affair*

My tendency in the past four years that I’ve been writing about and reviewing local art has been to be kind. I stopped reviewing art I didn’t like unless my editors assigned it to me; I would look at art events and could not but appreciate the effort that organizers put into it, even when it was clear to me that celebrating local art in this way is the height of superficiality. Artists earn money in these events, after all,… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 01 Dec 2014

review: on ICON the concert

RadikalChika kicked-off with a review of ICON the concert, with Rico Blanco, Gloc-9, and Yeng Constantino. :) Photos here and with the column by Martin San Diego as provided by Thea G. Pollisco.

Wednesday ∗ 26 Nov 2014

the last of kolchor for 2014

the days have been long, though filled with too many things happening, and certainly even more happening in the shadows, beyond public scrutiny: this is the Philippines after all. so first a list, because there is also quite a lot of work to do, but also there is so much to talk about, and i feel like the three people who read this blog (haha!) might be wondering where i am, why so silent. well here i am. 

Monday ∗ 13 Oct 2014

Failing the figurative, a review of Bwaya

Fiction based on real stories – and especially ones that are of recent events – can easily fall into the trap of being like a cheap TV reenactment that seeks to teach the public a lesson or two about daily living. It also has to deal with an audience that has seen the same story unfold via sensationalist media, the kind that asks a mother who has lost a daughter to a freak accident: Ano pong pakiramdam ninyo ngayon? All… Continue reading »

Wednesday ∗ 10 Sep 2014

Storytelling and Dani Girl

I tend to veer away from stories that are out to clutch your heart, and then measure success by how much you bawl while watching. Elsewhere in the world texts like these are criticized for displaying sickness and passing it off as artistic work, or using a particular claim to an ailment and then celebrating the work as “new” or innovative. And so I could but be skeptical about Dani Girl, as I came in to see it on its… Continue reading »

Thursday ∗ 04 Sep 2014

No Junk In This Trunk*

Because there is plenty here that works: from the funky music to the fantastic lyrics, dramatic situations and imagery so vivid, emotions so raw it can only be yours. I knew it when I heard “Kapit Mahal” via Billy B.’s now-defunct UR radio show, but I know it even more now: that was no fluke. Top Junk released its indie debut last year, but I count it as one of my early 2011 finds, literally: I bought it at Route… Continue reading »

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