Short Fuse

It isn’t that I don’t feel disappointed or mad or whatever – it is that I choose not to show it. Most of the time.

Other times, though, I just want to, for lack of a better term, let it rip.

I was not always like this – I used to always choose the calm, shielded exterior over me hulking out, even if I had every right to throw vases and get into shouting matches. I believed that my choice was the high road, and people would appreciate my restraint.

But then college came, and my world was opened to the thought of protest. It was a matter of common sense – if you do not show how you feel, how will anybody know? I protested pretty vocally on the big issues – funding, school politics, social issues. It came to a point where if you didn’t know where I stood, it was either I wasn’t sure myself or you were sleeping under a rock.

The small issues, however, were a different problem entirely. I suck it up a lot – I have learned to live with most of life’s inconveniences armed with a smile and an “oh well.” I learned to work around my problems. Then one day I realized I didn’t have to budge all the time. I didn’t have to get steamrolled into a position I never wanted to be in. Hell, I didn’t have to live with the short stick, damn it.

Urrrrgh.

Ulan

(Got this prompt from Sedric. Just some very needed literary catharsis.)

Gusto kong magpaulan.

Gusto kong bumigay ang langit

At lunurin ako sa kanyang nararamdaman.

Sa isang bagsak na halos wala ka nang makita

Isang kumot na nagbubura –

Doon ako lalabas, mapag-isa

At mawawala, mag-isa.

Doon ako tatakbo at sasayaw,

Sa gitna ng Roxas Boulevard

Habang ang mga alon ay bumabagsak

Ilang metro lang ang layo sa akin.

Kakanta ako at aarte,

Sa harap ng CCP –

Ibibigay ko ang pinakamagandang pagganap ko

Sa nagkakawayang puno at naghuhumiyaw na langit.

At sa Quirino Grandstand

Isisigaw ko na mahal kita,

Hanggang mawala ang aking boses,

Hanggang wala na akong masabi.

At kapag tumigil na ang ulan,

Maglalakad ako pauwi, mag-isa.

At babalik ako sa aking kinalulugaran, mapag-isa.

At kapag may nagtanong:

“Anong ginawa mo?”

Ako’y sasagot:

“Nagpaulan.”

Yun lamang.

Yun lang.

Too Much or Too Little?

As of late, I haven’t been exactly stellar in anything – academics, extra-curricular activities, family, friends, life. At the risk of sounding like a total ass, I must say that I sort of was pretty good at most of these categories (well, I think) a while back, and being this resoundingly bad across the board indicates something, well, wrong.

So what is it: am I doing too much or too little? Am I overexerting myself or not exerting myself at all? Am I under pressure? Am I slacking off?

I have no clue whatsoever. And being lost really kind of sucks.

Scenes from the 33rd Manila International Book Fair

Okay, random confession time: I have a tendency to sniff.

And when I say “sniff”, I mean “look up from whatever the hell I’m doing, scrunch my nose up, and sniff in short, audible bursts until my crazy antics allow me to discern the general direction of the smell in question’s origin.”

Yes, I’m a dog.

Well, a bibliophilic dog. As we went inside the SMX Convention Center for the 33rd Manila International Book Fair, this conversation took place:

Me: <sniff maneuver>

The Mom: <what are you doing look>

Me: Smell that?

The Mom: Smell what?

Me: It’s the smell of books.

And I said that last bit like Beethoven was playing on the speakers.

Anyway, after a few minutes of shuffling about, we got in this enormous hall with quite a lot of people, milling about looking at what seemed like a hundred thousand books. Publishers and bookstores had their own little booths (or big booths, really, depending on your status as a publisher/bookstore – National Book Store practically transplanted one of its shops onto the convention floor), and a million signs were screaming SALE in our faces (there was one publishing house that actually did scream SALE in our faces, in the form of two dudes, two microphones, and a speaker).

Honestly, I went in there looking for a deal. As you probably know, medical school is expensive as hell, and that is partially because medical books cost quite a pretty penny. I was looking for a discount on some books I would need in my future endeavors, and, well, I came up short.

Not that I didn’t find great deals, but I guess I grew out of the habit of buying things I probably would never need. A lot of books were slashed to 10% of their original prices, but as I looked them over, I never could see myself reading any of them. Others promised four medical books at the incredibly low price of 100 pesos, but as I examined the copyright, the tomes were published around a decade-and-a-half ago – I might seriously harm somebody if I didn’t crosscheck with a more current source, and that was more trouble than it was worth.

After two hours of walking and examining and exercising good judgment, I was about to sigh and be sad that I was about to leave the whole thing empty-handed. Of course, as it is A Law of the Universe, it is when you almost give up that you find the thing you are looking for.

Hallelujah to your 20% off on all books, Fully Booked. Hallelujah.

From the Fully Booked store/booth. And that, dear friends, is just a crumb of the ten-tier cake that was going on.

And so I brought the whole Song of Ice and Fire (at a reduced price) into my life.

And, for a while at least, I shall stop writing for a bit, and start reading.

Fin.

‘The Mistress’: Movie Review

Misleading, but surprisingly interesting.

I never thought that I would be writing about Philippine cinema here. Hell, I never even thought I would be writing about Philippine cinema of my own accord EVER – years of having to analyze movies for class has left me scarred (I thought permanently) by recycled plots and cringe-worthy dialogue.

And yet, here we are.

Here’s the thing – I did not even want to watch this. I heard about it from friends who saw the trailer on television, and didn’t bother to ask what it was about. All I knew was just that the leads of this new flick also did another little movie quite some time back called One More Chance.

And by “little” I mean either “popular favorite” or “quoted daily.”

Thus, I spent the better part of two weeks thinking it was going to be the classic Pinoy fare of soapy romance, secrets, noble idiocy, and a gun somewhere.

I know, I know – I was being unfair. Even the aforementioned One More Chance had more substance than its immortal one-liner, and I can think of other movies, such as For the First Time (starring KC Concepcion and Richard Gutierrez, back in 2008), that surprised me as well.

But you really can’t put all the blame on me. I mean, come on – The Mistress? I thought it was going to be a rehash of the parade of movies tackling the same theme within recent years. And those movies, sadly, I cannot even remember. Sorry.

(Here’s your friendly neighborhood SPOILER WARNING.)

Anyway, the mistress in, well, The Mistress, is Sari Alfonso (Bea Alonzo), a wardrobe mistress (the female equivalent of master cutter in a tailoring shop, and yes, I see what they did there) who catches the attention of JD Torres (John Lloyd Cruz), an architect. Of course, the married man Sari is carrying on with just so happens to be JD’s father – well, at least in name, as apparently the whole Torres family is chock full of infidelity. Hijinks ensue.

It’s not a perfect movie – I mean, there are some song choices that probably should not have been featured so prominently (okay, ONE song choice. Seriously, though – Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol? I appreciate the effort, and the lyrics actually kind of mirror the situation, but that song has been fully claimed and run to the ground by Grey’s Anatomy around six years ago. It was distracting.), some camera angles that probably need to be reevaluated, some transitions that probably could have been cleaned up a bit better. Some character beats could have been even more grounded by their fundamental motivations, and some scenes were not entirely necessary. But, I must admit – The Mistress surprised me, and that is probably one of the best compliments I can give a movie.

There is this scene where JD lets Sari take his measurements for a suit, and another where Sari practically forces herself on JD. It’s a great testament to both actors (I think Bea Alonzo wins by a hair here, though) how painfully layered their performances are. JD being attracted-angry-confused-hurt-frustrated in the first scene, and Sari being every kind of hurt there can be in the other – it is amazing to watch.

We have gone a long way in terms of setting up a scene as well. The one where JD gets his suit measurements comes right after a string of scenes that have him as perfect – seeing him suddenly simmering with all the emotions I enumerated gets you to sit up and ask yourself, “what did I miss?” After a few more confusing sequences, the film relents, and then flashbacks to the shouting match JD had with his father, where Sari is revealed to be his dad’s mistress. On Sari’s end, the string of scenes relating to her Thursdays – her going into the house, cooking, cleaning up, dressing in pearls – makes the inevitable meeting with JD’s father even more uncomfortable to watch.  The placement of scenes makes everything carry that much more weight, and bring with it a ton more thrill.

I could say quite a bit more, but I must confess that it is not the characters, the plot, or the directorial work that got me sold on this movie. It was the score.

I’ll talk about this particular quirk of mine more when I get the chance, but, needless to say, if a piece of background music catches my attention, it is most likely to be very, very good. I have rarely encountered the use of music to highlight mood in Philippine film before – generally speaking, we use music as space fillers (just so a scene isn’t too quiet or serious) or mood markers (a sad song for the sad bits, and oh-no music for the oh-no moments). Here, a little piano and percussion ditty ebbs and flows through the scenes, not signaling mood but accompanying it. I am not kidding when I say that I stayed five more minutes in the theater to hear more of the melody in the credits.

If The Mistress is the herald for the future for Philippine mainstream film, well then sign me up and get me on board. There are good things coming.

(I think it goes without saying, but just in case: these are opinions. All I want is to agree or agree to disagree. Also, I am not kidding about that score. Does anybody have ideas on how to obtain it? Thanks!)

Yes Woman

(This post was longer. That’s all I have to say.)

I say yes too often.

It’s heartbreaking.

Damn it.

I used to think of saying yes as an opportunity taken, an adventure waiting to happen. “Why not?” I said to the world, and I was so sure Jim-Carrey-as-God was smiling down on me, and taking pictures while running.

Now, it’s like I’m digging this fantastically effin’ large hole, and I just go and dig a little deeper with a smile while signing yet another contract allowing the dirt I just dug up to fall right on top of my effin’ head.

Seriously.