A Pointless Chicken Adobo

One worry and hesitation that I have when posting a write-up on this blog is that readers won’t get anything – a point, a learning, a realization, a wisdom – from my writing.  Non-sensical, worthless and throwaway posts already abound in social media.  Lots of it can actually be seen on Instagram and watched on YouTube (in the form of absurd senseless vlog posts).

But let me be brazen this time by posting a short ridiculous clip of my cooking a chicken adobo, the national dish of the Philippines.

I have posted in the past my first-time cooking of a pork adobo (tagged as New York Style Pork Adobo) so let me then include my experience on my first cooking the poultry version of it.

Pointless as it may seem, this Chicken Adobo clip actually garnered 52 likes and 195 views in my Instagram.  And by the way, my average Instagram likes is only 21.

It looks good right?  It tastes awesome too! Anyway, thanks for reading this nonsense of a write up and I hope you encounter in one way or another some pretty good amount of light bulb moments in the course of the day.

A Movie Whose Title I Did Know Until I Finished Watching It

Yesterday was my first time to watch a movie in which until the end of it I never knew of its title.  Prior to getting to the mall, the only thing I know about the movie which me, Nengkoy and my whole family is gonna watch is that it stars hunky actor Gerald Anderson and pretty Ms. Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach.  And that it is a romantic comedy film directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina.

You may wonder how come I did not saw the title when it was flashed at the first parts of the movie.  Yes, I did not saw or notice it.  Maybe it’s because I was too busy opening all the lids of all the huge tubs of popcorn my family brought along inside the cinema.

Only when I and my family were heading out of the cinema did I realize that I don’t know the title of the Filipino movie that we’ve just seen.

At the first half of the film, viewers will be treated with tacky plot of a story, bad acting, and cheesy dialogues.  It especially became garish, loud and shoddy when the character of Wurtzbach appeared.  There was nothing new and special about the film.  And before the movie reaches its second half, I have already accepted the fate of us viewers that we have to endure watching such a trashy and second-rate film. 

It was so disappointing that I have concluded that the director has gone worse as compared to the cool and heartwarming Filipino romantic-comedy films she has done in the past. And that the only saving glory of the film was the pleasure of seeing and appreciating the good looks of both Anderson and Wurtzbach.  I have even resolved within me that it was good that I did not even know the title of such a trashy movie.  Who would want to know anyway!

But when the film reached its second half, all these disappointments and frustrations were suddenly erased!  The story, the plot and even the acting suddenly bloomed and became so fetching.  In fact, when the second half of the film was running, I wanted to steal an Oscar trophy from the imaginary cabinets of acting awards of Meryl Streep and hand it over to Anderson!

When the twist of the story was revealed, each minute of the movie surprisingly becomes so intriguing to the point of being so engaging.  It was so fantastic, I thought myself to be so stupid for not knowing the title of the film we were watching.  I actually wanted to go out and read the movie poster but I don’t want to leave for I may miss an important scene of the movie.

The magnificent twist of the film’s story justified the reason why the first half was cheesy, shoddy and corny with an overly-filtered cinematography.  The twist in the story was so clever it seem to trigger the deep-seated schizophrenia in me!

Very few Filipino films in the past made me cry.  This one elicited a tsunami of tears from my usually dehydrated weeping ducts!  I don’t wanna reveal the twist, neither do I wanna be a spoiler.  Oh, by the way, the title of the movie is My Perfect You.

Kaaliw! Nagoyo ako nung una ang ganda pala!

And Dalawang Mrs. Reyes is Siksik, Liglig at Umaapaw

Siksik, liglig at umaapaw is an old and frequently used Filipino phrase that is often linked and associated with worldly blessings or material wealth.  These are sets of adjectives which means jam-packed, brimful and overflowing.

Siksik, liglig at umaapaw is how I would describe Jun Lana’s the movie entitled Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes (translation: The Two Mrs. Reyes), the first Filipino movie I’ve seen this year.  Prior to watching with colleagues, I knew that this is somewhat a comedy movie with gay inclinations, thus, I expected that it shall be a typical Filipino comedy movie that will be nothing but a lampoon, slapstick and mockery of Filipino gayness.  I am glad that I was wrong. 

photo obviously is not mine… got it from abs-cbn star cinema’s promo write-up

The movie is light yet full of heart.  Kids won’t enjoy it but adults will truly have fun for it tackles snippets of the wide spectrum of handling adult relationship and sexuality.  The movie is siksik, liglig at umaapaw with virtues associated to maturity like braveness on accepting and outing the inner confines of one’s true gender or from having vengeful emotions to understanding humanoid character or from being a disgraced spouse to acceptance on the falsehood of humanity.

Actually, the movie is siksik liglig at umaapaw with the intricate and imperfect nature of love.  And since love is imperfect the director was able to cleverly and effectively narrate such imperfections through humor, fun entertainment and laughter yet such narrations are siksik, liglig and umaapaw with good human values and virtues.

movie day with jb, mj and willie

Kaaliw!

Ma’Rosa: A Film about the Current Philippine State

It is supposed to be the time of the year when I would write about Cinemalaya, an annual indie-film festival here in Manila.  I would usually write about the movie entry that I enjoyed or touched me to the core.  However, I opted not to write any of the movies I saw because it seem that the quality of films featured this year seem not worth it.

Instead, let me feature the film I saw over the last weekend.  It was shown in movie houses a year ago and in the comforts of my home that I got to see Ma’Rosa, a film by the brilliant Brillante Mendoza.

MAROSA poster

unexpected! surprisingly brilliant!

Ma’Rosa is the official Philippine entry in last year’s Oscars Foreign Film category.  This movie however failed to make it to the final cut of finalists.  Nevertheless, this is the same movie that was an entry in last year’s Cannes Film Festival in which the lead actress Jacklyn Jose was adjudged as the Best Actress.

The story, the representation, the set and acting seem so real, it felt like I was actually groping into the lives of a poor Filipino family who only have few options of endure life’s challenges.  Jacklyn Jose was so outstanding now I know why she won.

After seeing the movie, I was actually not surprised why the Film Academy of the Philippines chose this movie as last year’s entry to Oscars.  It is because the elements, the texture and the narrative are all Filipino in nature in its present sorry state.  The movie effectively showed and represent how it is to be poor in the Philippines.

I was also not surprised why this movie did not make it to Oscars, maybe it is because the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences of America felt that this Brillante movie was too fictional to the point of being too exaggerated.  But let me oppose that.  I would be one of those Filipinos who was born and raised here, who would dissent at this type of notion.  Ma’Rosa is nothing but real, genuine and existent in this side of the planet.

It was a superb Filipino movie.  It may not have reached the Oscars level but Ma’Rosa is one brilliant Filipino film.  And I hope next year’s Cinemalaya entries would be as exceptional as this one.

Brilyant!

Tuos: An Exotic 2016 Cinemalaya Entry

I have always believed that a superb art no matter what medium it is should be something that emits emotion subject to the sensors’ perception.  It should be an art that is open to the subjective interpretation by the people who experiences it.

This precept is especially true of the Filipino film entitled Tuos, an official entry in the 2016 Cinemalaya Film Festival presently running at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.  The conduct of the story as well as the moods of each of the characters in the film are all subject to the interpretation by the viewers.

cultural!!!

cultural!!!

exotica!

exotica!

Directed by Derick Cabrido, I consider Tuos as one of the most exotic Filipino film from among the Filipino films that I have seen.  Though the movie has the tendency to get quite dragging, some of the rich colors of the Filipino customs and culture were shrewdly presented.

And aside from the impeccable acting of the legendary Filipino actress, Nora Aunor who plays Pina-Ilog in the movie, what particularly impressed me by Tuos were the additional layers of art that were fittingly mixed in the story.  The landscape presented in a modern visual art and the haunting old folklore of a song mixed together during the animation portion of the movie were pure brilliance.  These layers of art added up to the already rich texture of the movie.

When the movie ended and was already rolling its credits, I was left s mystified, stunned and thinking.  With my limited cerebral capacity, I tried interpreting the scenes and the narratives that were presented.  And there’s one last thing that I realized about Tuos, that it is indeed one exotic and powerful movie that only the smart and brainy human beings would be able to appreciate.

Sori na lang sa mga bobo, pang matalino lang ang pelikulang ito.

The Majesty & Magnificence of Callao Cave

20160630_182248.jpgI can’t recall if I have been to a cave.  This is until my attention, interest and curiosity was called upon by the beauty, majesty and magnificence of Callao Cave in Tuguegarao Province.  This grand and imposing natural formation is known as the site where the oldest human bone of a Filipino has been discovered.

Being inside Callao Cave can be considered a blessing.  It was such an awesome sight.  The grandiose rock formations and the dramatic effect of natural rays of the sun seeping through the holes and crevices above the chambers and domes were really breathtaking.  I never imagined that such a place actually exists!

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with mj, jb and willie playing with the rays of the sun…

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dramatic!

the rarest chapel ever!

the rarest chapel ever!

the stunning lighting effect are all natural...

the stunning lighting effect are all natural…

Me and my colleagues (MJ, JB and Willie) felt so blessed for we were fortunate enough to behold such a magnificent work of nature!  The stunning site gives you an insight that the caveman who lived inside Callao thousands of years ago must be spending some auspicious lifestyle!  His architect and interior designer was no less than Mother Nature.

My experience and beautiful impression of Callao is worth a memory that can be tucked securely in a corner of my mind which can readily be pulled out later, maybe for a poem, or a short story or a song.  And it will definitely take a lot for the succeeding caves that I will step into for me to get as impressed as that of the first cave that I have been to.  Callao was one stupendously gorgeous cave!

Hayop sa ganda ang kwebang yon!

Honing My Sixth Sense Through Beauty In A Bottle

stars of beauty in a bottle: angeline, angelica and assunta (photo grabbed from starcinema.abs-cbn.com website)

stars of beauty in a bottle: angeline, angelica and assunta (photo grabbed from starcinema.abs-cbn.com website)

Perceiving the unseen world of angels, ghosts or elements from a different plane and dimension is not my sixth sense.  It is because what I consider as my sixth sense is my sense of humor.

And this has recently been sharpened and utilized when I recently laughed so hard inside a cinema.  It is because of the Tagalog/Filipino movie Beauty In A Bottle that stars Angelica Panganiban, Assunta De Rossi and Angeline Quinto which I, Nengkoy and thirteen other members of my family watched.

Beauty In A Bottle is the type of movie that you would not mind in the end if it was good or bad.  But what matters most was the spending of considerable amount of time having a good laughing spell.

The movie flutters basically about the old principles of ‘inner beauty’ and ‘self-esteem’ hilariously being paralleled to having smooth skin, young age, desirable diction and attractive body.  I don’t remember when was the last time I laughed this hard on a Tagalog/Filipino movie.  It was a riot!  It was so funny I was having pits of persistent laughter even by simply seeing the movie’s video loop ads when we were already out of the movie theater.

But if I deeply assess what the movie waves about, maybe the reason why my sixth sense had a good workout is because I can relate.  The very same hardships that the main characters in the movie are having trouble about – the rekindling of “the young and beautiful you” – are the very same troubles that I have been irrationally minding about.  The theme is so close to my being!  I was like laughing at my own reflection!

Laugh at yourself! Hone your sixth sense! See Beauty In A Bottle!

Laping trip ang peg!

Superlative Aesthetics of Barber’s Tales

barber's tales movie poster

barber’s tales movie poster

All elements of a good movie seem to be present in the film Barber’s Tales written and directed by Jun Lana.  Everything in the movie though simple in its attack seems mesmeric.  It is so good the viewers at the end of the film could not control from clapping their hands.

It is a quiet movie yet its overall effect encompasses viewers’ expectations of a well-made film: honest-to-goodness directing and storytelling; unpredictable twists and characters; so-true-to-the-character acting performances; skillful use of the Filipino language; unobtrusive and discreet use of music that mixes naturally with the sound of the environment; and, lastly the brilliant use of old and faded colors.

I know there have been heaps of positive reviews and blog posts written about Barber’s Tales highlighting on how good the story is, how cohesive the direction and cinematography was or how impressive the actors were.  Thus with this post, let me honor one aspect of the film that seems to have been slightly neglected.  The production design.

Being a person who grew up in the era on when the story wheeled on, this element of the film truly delighted me.  Thus, for me, Chito Sumera, the production designer of the movie is one of the movie’s superstars.

The movie’s production design brought me back to my pre-school years in Pasay.  I agreed with all the 70’s period props and costumes featured in the movie.  From the prostitutes’ usage of pink plastic rolers (curler tubes) on their hair, the presence of old transistor radio inside the barbershop, the usage of hoary kulambo (mosquito net), the presence of time-consuming ginanchillo (crochet fabric) on top of the rickety-looking tocador (a dresser) and even the old magazine with Margie Moran on its cover were all genuinely amazing to see.  These well-researched props made me further feel the critical sensory-emotional values of the film.

when i was still a kid, i always thought that those batya (laundry tubs) were giant tansan (bottle caps)

when i was still a kid, i always thought that those batya (laundry tubs) were giant tansan (bottle caps)

I actually whispered to Nengkoy while the movie was running if she noticed and still recalls those reliable tin metal batya (laundry tub) which the main character and her best friend were using in one of the beautiful scenes.

These key design elements further elevated the film to be closer to what is the truth and what has existed in the past, thus, making the story so real.

The Barber’s Tales is still showing in few selected cinemas in the metro.  For its ‘true’ aesthetics, this film is definitely a must watch movie.

Hanep!

Kasal by Joselito Altarejos

kasal movie poster captured from cinemalaya 2014 website

kasal movie poster captured from cinemalaya 2014 website

My two most favorite scenes in the movie Kasal (The Commitment) directed by Joselito Altarejos are the dialogue-less squabble scene of the two main characters in the middle of a green-lush alleyway in which instead of spoken dialogues, a sweet Tagalog love/wedding song is being played and the passionate love making scene that features the two main characters along with the old-timer veteran Filipina actress Boots Anson Roa.

I loved the long-shot dialogue-less quarrel scene because even though you could not hear what the characters are articulating you can actually see and feel from afar what they are saying.  This one is a truly magical achievement for the director who was able to capture such a rare feat.  Very seldom in a Filipino-made film that I have seen this.  Usually in a Filipino movie, for a message to be conveyed it needs to be overtly spoken and for an emotion to be felt the main character should be shot close up.

The other impressive scene was the pink love-making part of the movie.  Aside from the challenging erotic calisthenic-demands for the actors, the scene was further made difficult because a film clip of the well-respected and morally-right veteran actress Boots Anson Roa is being flashed and projected directly onto their skin.  It’s like having sex with someone while your senior citizen elementary school religion teacher is closely watching.  How on earth can you attain the ecstasy and worldly bliss?  Thus, kudos to the director who was able to think and execute something as unique as this.

the young bride (photo taken from cinemalaya 2014 website)

the young bride (photo taken from cinemalaya 2014 website)

Aside from these two richly flavored scenes in the film, Kasal (wedding in English) was able to highlight various dynamics about marriage, love, commitment and family.  And what is so impressive about it is that these dynamics were navigated in an incredibly solid and cohesive manner.  The impressive story also depicts the irony of a happy wedding celebration which can actually be the reason for sadness, struggles and troubles by those involved by it.  The story and scenes were so close-to-reality viewers inside the theater were expressing their unconcealed elated reaction while the movie is running.

Though the main characters did not end up being together as an item and that the ending was rather sad, you nevertheless will feel – if you would just deeply contemplate – that the lead characters in the story will be just fine in the future.  And that is another remarkable achievement of this film.  The ending was a sad silent pause yet still pleasant.

Now I can say that I already have a favorite Altarejos film.  I had some problems with the technical aspect of the movie most especially the dubbing.  But all these were easily erased by the trueness and sincerity of the story as well as the impressive execution by that of the superb director.

Kasal (The Commitment) is a finalist and an official entry in the Director’s Showcase category of the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival 2014.

Ay howp it wins…

Hustisya by Lamangan: An Injustice to Nora

hustisya movie poster grabbed from cinemalaya website

hustisya movie poster grabbed from cinemalaya website

Joel Lamangan is a Filipino film director who has been very successful in consistently disappointing me with his works.  I have seen a couple of his movies but seeing his latest one made me conclude that it would take me a great deal of convincing to watch his future works.

Lamangan’s latest movie is entitled, Hustisya.  It stars the great Nora Aunor. This film is an entry in the on-going Cinemalaya film festival.  Unfortunately, for my taste the 2-hour film, Hustisya, is a big disappointment.  Because I was so bored in the first few minutes of the movie, I kept on looking at my watch.  And to my surprise the first disenchanting 35 minutes of the movie was nothing but seeing Aunor walking within the rundown streets of Manila.

For me, the movie’s core and story can easily be told in less than 45 minutes.  It ran for 2 hours because Lamangan inserted unnecessary footages of the sorry-looking and sordid spots of the City of Manila with the aim of putting socio-political connotations for the film.

For me, Lamangan is nothing but an inferior imitator of the genius Filipino film director Lino Brocka.  The latter’s work contains heaps of socio-political implications and undertones which would hit directly into your being.  Lamangan’s representation of socio-political issues on the other hand seem nothing but superficial.

Because of the footages inserted in the film and the secondary scenes placed in the movie (like the anti-government rally that suddenly came out from nowhere; the pickpocket scene inside a train; or, the stabbing murder scene along a dodgy street), which has nothing to do with the story has failed to touch a nerve.  His depiction of social ills and government-political inadequacies looks artificially pilit (forced).

Lamangan must thank the heavens for Aunor who agreed to be in the film.  She is the sole saving grace of this movie.  And I cannot imagine how the film would look like or what the film would have become if it was not for the great Aunor who stars in it.  Without Nora, this movie could easily be considered a non-worthy entry in this year’s highly prestigious Director’s Showcase category of Cinemalaya festival.

Jusko, epik peyl naman ‘tong si Manong.