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Archive for December, 2009

A year-end post… sort of

A line from a campaign jingle of presidential hopeful Manny Villar — one of among the slew being shoved down everyone’s throat every frigging day and night on television — goes like this: “Tutulungan niya tayo para magka-trabaho“…

That’s a pretty tall order if you ask me, promising employment for everyone. Then again, every candidate promise you the moon and the stars during elections.

I just wonder, though, how this big-spender plan on doing it, what with the country’s economy going south (read: downward) partly due to the worldwide recession, as well as the lack of foreign investments due largely to corruption (we’re still at the top of the most corrupt list, aren’t we?) and bureaucratic red tape.

Oh I know… he’ll probably make them all work for his real estate company, building houses for the rich.

Geez, the year is fast slipping into oblivion and here I am still ranting away like there’s no tomorrow.

Then again, this wouldn’t be MY blog if I wasn’t whining or complaining about something, right?

Anyway, I couldn’t think of anything else to write on this last day of 2009, and even if I did it wouldn’t be worth reading.

While the year had been kinder to me, professionally, it was also the most stressful since moving to this dump six years ago. I guess half a dozen year’s worth of mental torture has finally taken its toll on my brain.

Worse, were the weeks leading to Christmas and New Year’s day when vendors from all over set up camp in and around our place, virtually turning it into one big f**king marketplace.

And the noise, oh yes… the Goddamn noise coming from those cursed loudspeakers that continue to torment us day in…

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… and day out…

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… which makes sleeping a near-impossible task.

The city hall, for all its power and authority, are helpless in keeping these sewer rats out of the streets. And the cops? Well, they remind me of those three monkeys that “see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil”… for a price that is.

Oh and did I mention the mountain of garbage left behind by those a-holes along C.M. Recto?

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Man, you practically had to walk on them just to pass through… ugh!

So, you still think I had a merry X’mas and expect a happy new year?

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Together in Electric Dreams

I can’t believe 25 years has passed since “Electric Dreams” hit the theaters. To those of you who can still recall that far back, you may remember this film for its soundtrack, most notably its theme song, and the MTV-like quality of the movie.

Like the mega-hit “Flashdance” that was released a year earlier, it was among the first in its generation to adapt and take advantage of the growing music video phenomenon on television. It was also the first foray into the glitzy world of film producing by a then up-and-coming multi-billionaire, Richard Branson, through his production company Virgin Films.

Yup, he’s the same thrill-junkie/adventurer/business mogul recently knighted by the queen.

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A love story set amidst the dawning of the computer revolution in the 80s, it tells of an unlikely love triangle between Miles, a young architect; a beautiful cellist named Madeline; and a home computer named Edgar, that was “magically” brought to life after being doused with champagne.

Sappy, and at times… cheesy, as most movies of its kind go, the film doesn’t hide the fact that it is first and foremost a purely commercial film targeting the MTV generation. But while the ‘technology-gone-amuck’ theme had been overused long before the film ever saw light (read: not original), the movie does get brownie points for its heart, as well as introducing moviegoers to the impish but lovable Edgar.

Truth is, it is one of those “small” films that came out during the eighties that I actually loved. I’ve seen this perhaps six or seven times through the years and I consider it as one of those rare gem of a movie (yeah that’s right, you heard me, I call it a gem!) from a rather forgettable decade that is worth revisiting every now and then, not so much for its quality, but for its music.

I may not be a fan of Boy George and Culture Club but that was definitely one heck of a love song. In the movie though, it was Edgar who wrote the song, upon the request of Miles, who was planning to give it to Madeline (played by the delectable but yet unknown, Virginia Madsen) while claiming it as his own.

The most memorable scene in the movie — at least for me that is — was the musical “duel” between Edgar and Madeline, who at the time was unaware that her jamming partner is all wires, circuit board and memory chips.

Gotta hand it to Giorgio Moroder, the film’s musical arranger, for combining the classic with the contemporary. I mean, who would ever thought that a synthesizer would ever give justice to Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Minuet”?

Bach would have been so proud…

Oh and before I forget, belated Merry Christmas everyone!

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Tuesday blabbering…

Three more days and Hollywood will have to take a back seat for a while as movie houses in Metro Manila will once again be obliged to show Filipino only films… much to the consternation of many, including yours truly.

Purportedly to show the “best” of Philippine cinema, it’s something that has become sort of a movie-going tradition for Pinoys since the inception of the Metro Manila Film Festival.

Too bad, I was really planning to see “Avatar” (in 3D, if that’s available) this weekend, but unless I want to fry my brains out and suffer the indignity of going through some epileptic seizure, I had better stay away from the theaters until the coast is clear.

Tradition is good. Heck, it’s healthy even. But if it means watching a rehash of tried and tested ad nauseum formulas then, forget it…. I’d rather have my nails pulled out with a rusty pair of pliers than pay good money to sit through one agonizingly bad movie after another.

Take this lameduck senator’s upcoming movie for example, whose trailer I first saw two weeks ago while watching “2012” (yeah, I could be lame that way too). Frankly, never have I seen a movie borrowing so heavily from other films such as “The Lord of the Rings” and “Eragon“. Creepy characters from the netherworld and flying dragons? Come on… you call this original??

If the abovementioned movie and other recycled trash masquerading as quality films are the best that local cinema can offer, then, I’m afraid we’ll be seeing the end of Philippine cinema sooner than expected.

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Another weekend ranting…

Two articles in the Philippine Daily Inquirer that caught my attention recently convinced me that the Marcoses — far from being down and out for the count — are indeed back… and this time, for good.

Noynoy, Jinggoy, and now Bongbong. Why in God’s name does every presidential son think that they will make good presidents? It’s not like they had a great track record as lawmakers, and the only thing that have carried them this far in their lackluster political careers are their last names.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. trumpets presidential ambition

Agence France-Presse
First Posted 14:08:00 12/16/2009

MANILA, Philippines — The son of late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos announced Wednesday he was aiming to become president of the Southeast Asian nation and insisted his family had nothing to be ashamed of.

The 52-year-old namesake of his father said he had never viewed his name as a curse, but rather “an extreme advantage” that would propel him up the national stage.

“I would like to take this political career that I have embarked upon as far as it can go. The ultimate position is to be president,” Marcos Jr. told a foreign correspondents’ forum in a deep baritone voice similar to his father’s.

Read the entire PDI article here.

A mere twenty three years after getting booted out of their palace by the river, the late dictator’s heir apparent is now poised to reclaim the glory that was once theirs.

For those of us who lived through those years under the heels of a dictator, however, the thought of another Marcos — and a namesake at that — sitting in Malacanang would be unthinkable… blasphemous even.

Marcos apologists will claim that Bongbong is not his father’s son, and most certainly didn’t take after his infamous mother. Maybe, but wasn’t he (as well as the other Marcos children) a beneficiary of his parent’s  conjugal rule over the country for 20 years? So what makes him think he will be any different from his father?

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And here’s another reason NOT to vote for Manny Villar:

Hero’s burial for dictator eyed if Villar wins

By Philip Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 12:58:00 12/16/2009

MANILA, Philippines — Ilocos Representative Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., said he hopes Senator Manny Villar will allow the burial of his father and namesake in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery) if Villar wins the presidency.

“It’s a right,” Marcos said at the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines forum in Makati on Wednesday morning.

He said his father was a former president and a World War II veteran who deserves to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Yeah right, if he’s a hero, then I’m Bill Gates…

I knew it! I knew it! We should have lined the Marcoses and the Estradas up against the palace wall during EDSA 1 & 2, and shot them, instead of letting them live to fight another day.

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I blew my top again, yesterday morning, as I was driving to work. And the reason? Well, you guessed it… Traffic.

With no uniformed cops in sight and nobody giving way, the intersection beside the Tutuban mall where I pass through everyday  had become one tangled mess of jeepneys, delivery trucks, cars, scooters and pedicabs, all trying to jostle their way out of the chaos.

A man, probably one of those “deputized” by the absentee police (Manila’s Finest, they call them) for traffic duty, seemed more interested in letting the jeepneys have their way than maintaining order.

After simmering for half an hour inside my car, everything finally boiled over. Enough is enough, I thought. I stepped out of my car and started yelling out a barrage of (very audible) unprintables at the pedicab and jeepney drivers.

My ire though, was directed primarily at the pedicab drivers who at that moment, were still trying to force their way into the middle of the mayhem in spite of the already insane situation.

I’m not sure if that show of outburst had any effect on those numbnuts, but voila! A hole was suddenly made available and I was able to pass through, as did the rest of the cars behind me.

Okay, I know the scourge of every motorist is but normal in this part of Manila, and as a long-time resident I should have gotten used to it, right? Wrong! Things DO get worse at times, more so at this time of the year when the whole of Divisoria plays host to an army of illegal street hawkers who takeover entire streets, motorists be damned.

It’s enough to test even the patience of Job (remember him from the bible?).

I am really, really disappointed with Mayor Lim. I voted for him, unfortunately, and had high hopes that the mess ex-mayor Lito Atienza left behind would finally be sorted out.

Well, he did… but only some of them. Traffic and vendor problem remain in these parts, and had gotten from bad to worse under his watch.

What we got instead was a mayor who would rather play groupie with ex-president Estrada — leaving behind the responsibility of running the city to an inept and clueless vice-mayor.

Another source of disappointment for me — one that I believe, added to the problem — are the network television and their reporters. Their on-site reporting and features, about the bargains and cheap buys in this place, made them sound more like paid spokespersons rather than reporters.

I hate Christmas…

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My city of yesteryears

Around two weeks ago my friend forwarded via e-mail some images of Manila — the city in which I was born and raised (and will probably die in as well) — during its heyday in the 1960’s.

It would be difficult for any Filipino born in the eighties — and even those a decade earlier —  to imagine Manila without the monstrous traffic and permeating filth that has become synonymous with the city. But yes kids, there was indeed a time when the city was actually comparable, if not better, than many cities in and around Asia.

Manila, then, was a cosmopolitan city whose wide, clean avenues and imposing structures were the envy of many of its Southeast Asian neighbors still grappling with poverty after the second world war.

Yes, traffic was already a part of urban living then, but it wasn’t as chaotic as it is now.

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Not that many people had cars in those days and most would take public transport going to and from school or work.

And people actually walked on the sidewalks!

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Long before Makati became the fashionista’s haven, Escolta, with its rows of glitzy shops was the IT place to shop, window shop, see and be seen…

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… and the people were well dressed. No shorts, sleeveless shirts and definitely no slippers.

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And the jeepneys… oh yes, the ubiquitous jeepneys were there, although simpler and not ridiculously stretched out and garishly decorated as they are now.

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The streets were clean, well paved and well maintained…

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… and people (at least, most of them) obeyed traffic rules.

This was Roxas Boulevard (then known as Dewey Blvd), two decades before the frenzied reclamation works began…

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… and long before ex-mayor Lito Atienza turned it into a nightclub strip.

Manila had wide open spaces then, dotted with plenty of greenery.

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Even the majestic Pasig waterway was free from the muck disgorged by the city’s ever expanding population.

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It is an era now long gone…

The Manila this generation know and live in is a noisy, congested, squatter-ridden metropolis where homeless children sift through uncollected garbage and roam the streets like feral cats; where smoke-belching jeepneys and buses turn every pockmarked stretch of road into a no-man’s-land; and where the ever-present street vendors have given an entirely new meaning to the word, sidewalk.

As a baby boomer and child of the psychedelic sixties, I was fortunate enough to have seen and experienced what was then a clean and (very) livable city.

Unfortunately, corruption, neglect and unchecked population growth all contributed to the slow and gradual demise of a city, once touted to be one of the most beautiful, to the mess that it is today.

Sad to think how the Filipinos had managed to turn their country’s premier showcase into Asia’s mental case.

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Once more… with feeling.

I know I’ve posted a tribute to Carole King in this blog more than two years ago, but hey… one good round deserves another, right?

Here are two more reasons why she is considered by many, most notably from her peers, as one of America’s greatest living songwriters in the last century… and two more reasons as well, why I love the woman to death.

When there’s a dark storm on your horizon
And you think you can’t get through it
Just put your hand in my hand
And I’ll show you how to do it

When your future looks uncertain
You can count on me to be there
And when your heart and soul are hurtin’
Just look and you’ll see me there

Just follow where I lead
I’ll give you what you need
A love that’s always true
And someone who believes in you

It’s time to come alive
Your moment has arrived
I’ll bring out the best in you
We can have it all
No, we will never fall
Looking down from our celestial view

So when you’re searching for that rainbow
I will help you find it
And when a mountain stands before you
I will help you climb it

Just follow where I lead
I’ll give you what you need
And I’ll tell you something else
You’ll start believing in yourself
It’s an easy thing to do
When you have someone who believes in you

Someone who believes
Someone who believes
I’m someone who believes
You’ve got someone who believes in you

Oh yes, Aussie band Air Supply may have popularized this song in the eighties (remember? big hairs and padded shoulders?) but it is still a Carole King original, with, of course, a little help from ex-hubby Gerry Goffin. I don’t know about some of you, but I’m more partial to her take on the song over that over-the-top version of Russel Hitchcock.

And lastly, who can ever forget that beautiful little ditty during the final cast credits of the movie, “You Got Mail”, which was sung by King herself and was co-written with another Carol… Carol Bayer-Sager that is, who’s also a Songwriter Hall of Famer.

Funny how I feel more myself with you
Than anybody else that I ever knew
I hear it in your voice, see it in your face
You’ve become the memory I can’t erase

You could have been anyone at all
A stranger falling out of blue
I’m so glad it was you

It wasn’t in the plan not that I could see
Suddenly a miracle came to me
Safe within your arms I can say what’s true
Nothing in the world I would keep from you

You could have been anyone at all
An old friend calling out of blue
I’m so glad it was you

Words can hurt you if you let them
People say them and forget them
Words can promise words can lie
But your words make me feel like I can fly

You could have been anyone at all
And let that catches me when I fall
I’m so glad it was you

Hope y’all enjoyed the songs and do have a great weekend everyone…

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Success brings with it many things, along with fame and the adulation one receives there’s the money, cars, houses, not to mention, the women.

Then there is of course the inevitable outcome of one’s rise to the very top… the ENTOURAGE, or what we all like to call, the alalays — a necessity every celebrity in these islands can’t seem to do without.

And if the size of an entourage is the yardstick by which one measures success, then I guess Manny Pacquiao beats them all by a mile.

I couldn’t help but chuckle (and at the same time, cringe) while reading this New York Times article about the Pambansang Kamao and his bevy of alalays the other night…

Behind the Fighter Manny Pacquiao, the Fight for His Favor

By GREG BISHOP
Published: November 12, 2009

LOS ANGELES — The condominium looks like a fraternity house, not the resting place for boxing royalty. Stained carpets cover the floor. Dartboards hang from the wall. Bowls of food, half-eaten leftovers, line the kitchen.

Manny Pacquiao, one of the best boxers in the world, sleeps here. But he does not sleep alone.

Pacquiao, who faces Miguel Cotto in a welterweight title fight Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, does not do anything alone.

His entourage — swollen, dysfunctional and, in his mind, necessary — makes sure of that. On a recent visit, while Pacquiao slept upstairs, one member did the laundry. Another surfed the Internet. Yet another sprawled on the couch, his booming snores interrupting another otherwise peaceful morning for Team Pacquiao.

“They’re all competing to be golden boy for the day,” said Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer. “Clean his pool. Take his shoes off. They will do anything for Manny Pacquiao.”

Roach paused, unable to suppress his laughter.

Read the rest of the article here.

Perhaps Roach was right, these die-hard Pacquiao freaks will do anything for their beloved master, err… hero. Why, I bet if Manny so much as ask any one of his alalays to wipe his ass after taking a dump, he’d gladly do it in a heartbeat.

Ahh… the sweet smell of success.

Note: A big hat tip to my best friend for providing the NY Times article link on his Facebook account.

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