Tuesday, December 25, 2012


An obnoxious and an uninvited IN-LAW dropped by the house this Christmas afternoon unannounced with half-a-dozen or so individuals in tow. How I consider this person as such won't be discussed here for that would take another blog or two entirely. My relatives were surprised how she got wind of our gathering and how she was able to get hold of our new address, but being "in the zone" because of THE SEASON, welcomed and accorded to her common courtesy extending the same to her entourage, no matter how much of a distraction and an inconvenience she brought along with her on their sudden appearance.

Adding insult to injury, the phone rang and I was the unlucky one who picked the phone up. After I recited my standard phone greeting I got a woman on the other end who brusquely asked me who I am. I calmly said, "I beg your pardon, but you are the calling party and it's only polite that I be the first to ask who is calling." She firmly said that she got two (2) missed calls on her Cell Phone which registered our home number so she was prompted to return the call. This she said with neither apology nor a semblance of civility.

Keeping my cool, I politely pointed out to the caller that she should have stated her purpose when returning a call to an unknown phone number then identified herself or vice versa. Beating her to the punch before she can issue a rebuttal, I immediately asked the caller again to whom am I speaking with. She gave me her name almost in a shouting manner followed by a blunt "At sino ka ba? (And who are you?). Still keeping cool and not knowing who she was, I repeated the caller's name out loud for anyone in the room to hear. The obnoxious in-law said that it's her sister on the line and that the call was hers. She stood from where she sat and half ran towards me, she then yanked the phone from my hand without even waiting for me to hand the device over to her nor even giving any hint of a thank you as she turned her back on me and proceeded to attend to her call. For a few seconds, I swear you could've heard a pin drop as it bounces end from end due to the abrupt silence that ensued. My relatives present know full well that I openly loathe the woman even to her face for her uncalled for animosity towards me and against the family. Some of them covertly feel the way I do, some even worse than loathing and the remainder doesn't give a hoot about her at all. All of them though, at that instant, was anticipating for me to blow my top and to give her a full military style dressing-down right then and there. Thinking of Christmas and what the season stands for and much to my relatives relief, I disappointed them all when I decided to glide out of the room without uttering a single word nor a hint of agitation. In my head though I was thinking and screaming, HOW UTTERLY UTTERLY RUDE! -- FIRST: Crashing a party with entourage in tow. SECOND: Using the phone and dialing a DDD number
without permission and THIRD: Getting one of the hosts to pick up a call from an equally obnoxious sister sounding ala The Queen of Sheba having a bad PMS day. Apples doesn't fall far from the tree nor from each other indeed.

Thankfully, she and her entourage left early. You might say it's the Christmas season. One should forgive and forget in honor of Him the real reason for the season and in accordance with civil tradition. My fellow pedestrians believe me when I say that with her, I tried, and I am trying still. But when I am on the verge of letting go, she has this uncanny ability and rough timing of circumventing and trying my limits, that of which causes me to end up belaying the decision to grant her full and unconditional redress. Some people just have the knack of creeping into your nerves no matter how much you try to purge ill-will from your system. Anyone care to agree or disagree?

REMINDERS TO SELF: 1. INSTALL an Access Code to prevent free access to NDD and DDD outgoing phone calls. 2. POLITELY ask a rude caller to dial again or call at a later time and to entertain the call only until such time the caller realizes to keep his/her phone etiquette in check. 3. ALWAYS keep in mind that PATIENCE is a virtue. 4. TAKE THE HIGH ROAD and add a sprinkle of UNDERSTANDING when facing any untoward situation. 5. Add to this list that may induce personal positivity as the need and/or situation arises. 

What an awkward treat this was for me to close our Christmas Day Celebrations. I just hope that I would be able to keep myself in the zone and won't be THE FIREWORK if she gets wind of ANOTHER get together we planned after she and her party left come NEW YEAR, January 1, 2013.

NR - 12252012

Friday, December 21, 2012


The Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) is a weeklong exhibition of locally produced Filipino films in cinemas that runs starting December 25 up to December 31 every year. Some films, usually the award winners or the blockbuster hits extending theater runs for another week or more. Worth mentioning is that it has always been claimed that “quality” Filipino movies are showcased within this festival season. In my personal opinion though, it has been a hit and miss in both quality and story content. Some going the way of being common and too commercialized like run of the mill regularly shown movies that it borders, to one who is an avid movie lover, to question the criteria’s for a film to merit being selected for exhibition. Much has been said, seen and written about the festival as well as some controversies that transpired in past, from the selection process to the awards night, but that is not the subject of our story.

This year, the MMFF added a pleasant addition to its history that not only caught my interest but was surprised that almost nothing was written or talked about it. This year, the MMFF 2012 is showcasing  “The New Wave Filmfest.” It is a festival of five (5) independently produced films or more commonly known in the industry as INDIE to be exhibited a week before the main film festival run. I gathered that the five (5) films were chosen among 300 entries. Sources also say that the MMFF is giving indies a “face lift” maybe to alleviate this sector of alternative Philippine cinema from the stigma of being labeled as low quality, also maybe to rid it of the mostly negative connotation and reputation that past indie films have built for itself in the local scene. Whatever the real aims are, I give this years’ MMFF organizers three claps and a snap for this move.

One particular entry that caught my fancy is GAYAK, a family oriented drama pegged by Ronaldo M. Bertubin (DGPI). He also directed well received indie films: Love Birds, Kurap, Last Viewing, to name a few. GAYAK centers on the story of the relationships between four main characters namely: Alan Paule as Felix, his son played by Sef Cadayona as John Christian, Evelyn Vargas who played Adela (older sister of Felix) and her son Drake played by Richard Bradley. The story kicks off with the “Pagsa-San Juan” a religious tradition or “pamamanata” in the town of Bibiclat, Nueva Ecija wherein participants don dried banana leaves and/or grass, cover their exposed skin in mud and walk the town asking for alms of candles and prayers that are to be offered, including their own, at the plaza of the town church.

The tight relationship between father and son is established well on in the first few minutes of the film. Felix, a widower, is somewhat protective of his only son John Christian and is deemed by his only cousin Drake a “lampa” or clumsy and too sickly for not going out of their house too much while they were growing up. This, as a matter of course, is one of the plot twists revealed later on in the film.

Another aspect of the film is the tight bond between Felix and Adela, the latter being the doting elder sister who has taken care of her younger brother since they were younger, going as much as getting extra work from nearby provinces for Felix who is a small town tailor by trade and staying days on end to assist him until the completion of the work.

One layer not so unique though is the relationship between cousins John Christian and Drake. Being the only sons of sibling Felix and Adela, the bond between the two cousins might have been tighter in real life than what has been portrayed on screen. The story also has its share of a slight “tissue” moment presented in the highlight scene reminiscent of a Japanese film I’ve seen titled “Departures.” You may consider yourself stone-hearted if you’re not even slightly moved by that solitary scene alone.

Without giving too much of the story, here are some yes and no’s. Yes, John Christian is later revealed to be gay. No, this is not the real reason of his being “lampa.” Contrary to common local macho belief, being gay does not make one automatically physically clumsy. Yes, his cousin Drake was the one who initiated the baptism of fire, ergo, my statement in saying the situation is not so unique, and I daresay even between female first cousins. And yes folks, it does happen to some, let us not be prudes and say that it does not. Anyway…

Let me just issue a fair warning to those with prurient interests who would only want to see this film based solely on how graphic the scene was presented between the two good looking male cousins. It will not raise your body temperature, neither will it make you squirm uncomfortably in your seat nor make those with lower sensitivity thresholds close or cover their eyes as the scene is being played out. You might counter by saying “but this is supposed to be an indie film.” Yes it is indeed an indie film but this is NOT THAT TYPE of an indie film. Kudos to Direk Roni Bertubin for the effective guidance of his actors Sef Cadayona and Richard Bradley in showcasing this baptism in a very tasteful manner. It showed innocence and want without employing gimmickry bordering to fantasy, unnecessary vulgarity and of being obtuse as exemplified by other exploitative, run of the mill, gender targeted indie films. WELL DONE! To add, and in jest, I was waiting for the proverbial flower to fall in that deflowering scene reminiscent of mid-1950’s to 1960’s Filipino films. In this instance, for those who have had a similar experience, the curling of toes and the closing of a bathroom door is sufficient enough for them to reminisce. Kudos also goes to the MMFF organizers for living up to its promise of a NEW WAVE of Indie. I am personally looking forward to more of the same or even better next year.

The story’s thirty-two (32) year timeline from 1980 to the present is fast paced and the viewer has to be attentive of everything that transpires on screen as each section of the film is unraveled layer by layer. The nominal use of background sound and music was effective in eliminating unnecessary distractions and in catching the viewer’s attention to the story as it unfolds in present time, interspersed with time jumps which were later on unveiled via flashbacks towards the end of the movie. As for the technical aspects of the film, some scenes might need to be shortened, others expounded to give it more punch and effect. Considering how slow rural life can be, it would have been more effectual to have showcased the time differences physically like in a scene where Adela gave Felix a Classic 6120 Nokia Cell Phone which I place the story to have taken place in the present year. Let me just state for the record that I am not nitpicking and I also have to make mention that not everyone will notice these slight nuances in films, like I’ve noticed in GAYAK that John Christian is ambidextrous. How’s that for attention to detail? Overall, presentation is clean, balanced and well executed. For those tired of seeing the usual imported and too commercialized local movie fare, I personally rate this one a “GO SEE.” The theme song titled “Sa Pagdating Mo” was composed and arranged by Robert Delgado with lyrics by Roni Bertubin was brilliantly interpreted by Gerald Santos.
From Left: Jun Flavier Pablo (Executive Producer), Richard Bradley
and Director Ronaldo M. Bertubin (DGPI)
From Left: NR, Richard Bradley, Jun Flavier Pablo (Executive Producer)
and Tanny Perez (Production Designer)
The MMFF New Wave Filmfest will run from December 18 to 22 at the Glorietta 4 Cinemas in Makati City. Other films featured are Ad Ignoranciam which delves on political injustice, Grave Robbers is an Action-Adventure, Paglaya sa Tanikala which touches on religion, and In Nomine Matri which is a drama about a Flamenco dancer.

As of this writing, it has been announced that the MMFF New Wave Filmfest will have two (2) extra days run until December 24, 2012. Judging from the full house reception of the showcased films, notably GAYAK, it shows promise that this is a welcomed and refreshing addition to the MMFF indeed. Hopefully, next year, the organizers of the MMFF will continue with this new addition and extend the New Wave Filmfest to more theaters in and around the Metro before the main MMFF entries are shown in the theaters.

NR - 12212012