Life is Motion

Monday, July 31, 2006

So sick.


So sick.

I'm sick of the world crying out for the innocent civilian lives that Israel allegedly targets while Hezbollah is left relatively sweet smelling. Sure Hezbollah started this war, and sure Hezbollah uses civilians as cover, but since they didn't personally shoot the Lebanese civilians themselves, big bad Israel is to blame for every civilian casualty because they have bigger and smarter missiles.

Something is certainly wrong with this picture. Hezbollah brought war to Lebanon's doorstep, but Israel is held responsible for all Lebanese civilian deaths this war has wrought? I wonder if the world has fogotten about the kidnapped and murdered Israeli soldiers, and the people in Northern Israel being attacked by Hezbollah rockets. I guess now its Israel's misfortune that they protect and are capable of defending their civilians to the teeth and therefore experienced less casualties compared to Lebanon? Is the world waiting for hundreds of Israelis to be bombed and killed before they understand that Hezbollah will sacrifice Lebanese women, children and the elderly to win at all cost?

Bleeding hearts living in the comforts of their free world homes are exactly what Hezbollah wants and needs. To get more sympathy from them could mean more civilians will be sacrificed by Hezbollah.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The PR war in the Middle East

The tone of my future entries may probably change a bit because I can no longer stay silent about the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. I support Israel. I always have. There, it has been said. I finally decided to write about the conflict because of an interview that I can only classify as harrasmment by CNN anchor person Shihab Rattansi to an IDF spokesman a few hours ago. Rattansi was unprofessional, emotional, and his tone was antagonistic to the IDF spokesman. Did Rattansi have illusions of grandeur thinking he was Larry King and he had his own talkshow where he had free reign to dish out personal opinons? Wake up Rattansi, you are an anchorman! You deliver news and not color your reporting with your oh-so-important personal thoughts and feelings. If I wanted emotional, I'd wait for my period so I can start PMSing!

In this recent conflict, Israel has been (as usual) losing the international public relations war. With ridiculously transparent anti-Israel reporting, BBC is redundant to watch unless you want to be spoonfed on why you should hate Israel. But that is nothing new, Israel has always been vilified and see as the bully, the former David who has now become a Goliath, and allegedly behaves as one. The recent conflict has the American government standing by Israel, and the EU and the UN (suprise!) on the other.

What are Israel andHezbollah fighting for?

Hezbollah wants Israel, a soverign country, to be exterminated, erased from the Middle East map.
Israel wants Hezbollah, and not the soverign state of Lebanon, defanged and completely disarmed to stop them from kidnapping Israeli soldiers and firing missiles to Northern Israel.

The big question:

Who started the recent Middle East crisis?

I think there is little doubt that Hezbollah, backed by Syria and Iran, was the aggressor, not the mighty Israel. If it were the other way around, and Lebanon was the military and economic power whose land was crossed and whose soldiers were killed and kidnapped by a known terrorist organization in Israel, I doubt a powerful Lebanon will just negotiate with the terrorists that have already done the same thing even prior to this July 2006 kidnap and killing. What, Israel is just going to negotiate with Hezbollah everytime Hezbolla decides to kidnap Israeli soldiers or launch katyusha missiles to Nahariya? WHy don't Israel just put a sign on their soldiers that reads ---> "2 (soldiers) for the price of 1(Hamas or Hezbolla prisoner) to make it things even more convenient for these rogue organizations?"

Israel has not occupied SOuthern Lebanon since 2000, yet Hezbollah still claims that it is exists because it is defending Lebanon from Israeli occupation. How can you fight an invading army that is not there? You draw them in, that's what you do. You create a situation where they are forced to enter SOuthern Lebanon so that you can cry "Invader! And we, Hezbollah will protect you helpless Lebanese civillians from these Israeli invaders!"

So how exactly will Hezbollah defend the Lebanese civilians? They do so by hiding in their homes, launching missiles from their kitchens, blending with the civilians so that even if they are identified, their proximity to the civilians will inevitably make the civilians human shields and create a bigger collateral damage on civilians, which is precisely what Hezbollah wants the world to see. The UN humanitarian chief, Jan Egeland, has already accused Hezbollah of "cowardly blending" among Lebanese civilians and causing the deaths of hundreds during two weeks of cross-border violence with Israel. But I bet you didn't catch that on BBC or CNN.

When I see the images of civilian casualties in SOuthern Lebanon, Beirut, and Tyre, I know that there are same images in Northern Israel, but you will not see much of that in BBC (aka Beirut Broadcasting COmpany). Israel's mantra is to be strong, and never again be seen as helpless and weak after the slaughter of the holocaust. That is probably why instead of seeing a wailing bloodied Israeli woman in the news, you will see ambulances and volunteers rushing to the scene, and whisking away victims of missile attacks to the nearest hospital. Instead of young men rushing to the streets with guns and crying for Holy War against the enemy, wanting to be martyrs for the cause of jihad, you will see young Israeli soldiers silently leaving for battle, but not forgetting to leave a message to their mothers if the camera pans to them. None of them wants to die so that they will be rewarded by God for fighting the enemy of Judaism; they fight so that Israel can live.

Whatever is said about Israel, they did not instigate the conflict, nor do they use women and children as human shields then invite CNN cameras so the world can see what big bad Israel has done to innocent people. Hezbollah may be heroes for the economically deprived Shi'ite Muslims, but I wonder what the rest of Lebanon's population composed of Sunnis, Christians, and Druze think of the Hezbollah?

The truth is, Lebanese civilian's blood is in Hezbollah's hands, not Israel.

A song to the brave

source: reuters

To the brave, valiant and loyal sons and daughters of Israel:

lyrics: U2

And love is not the easy thing
The only baggage you can bring...
And love is not the easy thing...
The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can't leave behind

And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it's a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong

Walk on, walk on
What you got they can’t steal it
No they can’t even feel it
Walk on, walk on...
Stay safe tonight

You're packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been
A place that has to be believed to be seen
You could have flown away
A singing bird in an open cage
Who will only fly, only fly for freedom

Walk on, walk on
What you've got they can't deny it
Can’t sell it, can’t buy it
Walk on, walk on
Stay safe tonight

And I know it aches
And your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on

Home... hard to know what it is if you’ve never had one
Home... I can’t say where it is but I know I'm going home
That's where the hurt is

I know it aches
How your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on

Leave it behind
You've got to leave it behind
All that you fashion
All that you make
All that you build
All that you break
All that you measure
All that you steal
All this you can leave behind
All that you reason
All that you sense
All that you speak
All you dress up
All that you scheme...

be safe.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Friends and lovers

It was just over a year ago when I was with my friends Katya and her very nice and very intelligent man Sergey in Novosibirsk. It was autumn when we all got together in Akademgorodok to enjoy a favorite Russian past time--nature tripping. The Russians do love their forests and lakes and they love camping and visiting their dachas over the weekends or during summer.
Even though I'm a true blue beach girl, I learned to appreciate the beauty of Siberian forests, mountains, and lakes.

My girl Katya and Sergey are still together, still having a great time. I'm happy for both of you, especially Katya who was afraid she'd only attract jerks. You found a keeper this time Katya!

The dacha lifestyle, making "shashlyk" or BBQ.

When in Russia, wear fur!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

French connection

Pretending to be good students. Classemates from Alliance, Gian (fab hairstyle), Isabel (Fab brainiac), Robin (your body is fab enough girl!), Ruthie (Fab...), and fab me.

Salut !
Je suis philippine et j'habite à Manille. Je suis étudiant "Alliance Francaise du Manille".

Ok, the truth is, after 2 months of studying basic French, I still suck at the language. I need more practice. The teenagers in class are just killing us "older" people. They're like sponges, and one particular girl vacationing from Germany is just Frenching all over the place. Isabel is just damn good.

Gian loves Ruthie!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Who art thou Filipina?

Asians are generally believed to be conservative compared to their western counterparts. When I say Asians, I include the entire continent from east, west and south. It doesn't matter if you are Indian, Malay, Japanese, or Filipino, if you're Asian, you're generally more conservative and traditional than the Americans or Europeans and Aussies.

In Japan, different occassions may call for different types of speaking, the informal and formal way. This is the same in Korea. In the Philippines, we are also conscious of showing respect especially to elders so we add the "respectful" words "po" and "opo" when we address someone who is significantly older. Like the Koreans and Japanese, older men and women are given titles as signs of respect. Sex, specially pre-marital sex, is still a risque subject and not something that can be brought up casually with older people, definitely not among relatives, and never with parents.

But even amongst Asians, there are still cultures that are more conservative and traditional than others. My Japanese friends who interned in Asian Development Bank got used to the casual meetings that Filipinos practice where introductions are done by giving people's first names. When he had to make introductions with other Japanese, he had to program his brain to revert it back to formal speech because he got used to the Pinoy's relax and casual manner.

After 300 years in the convent and 50 years in Hollywood, the Filipino national identity can be easily described as confuse. Three centuries under Spanish rule and half a century of Americans will play on anybody's self-esteem, much more a country's sense of identity. So, we are probably not as conservative or as sure of our identity as Koreans, Chinese, Thais, or Japanese.

There is this myth about Filipina women where we are supposed to be living up to the image: "dalagang Filipina" a title implying many underlying facts and fiction. I assume this depiction of a Filipina was the ideal for good Catholic girls.

Dalagang Filipina fact:
1.) Majority of Filipina women still see themselves marrying one day. (I'm not even sure if they want to, but it's expected by society)
2.) Casual sex and even premarital sex are still generally frowned upon or openly dissaproved.

Dalagang Filipina fiction
1.) We only "give" our virginities to our future husband.
2.) We have to be courted for a long period, inclusive of family approval, before we allow ourselves to get into a relationship.
3.) We dont think and talk about sex often.
4.) Our men treat us like fragile flowers (bullshit! I'm a girl, but there are no gender demarcations in my home, and I do what my dad (mostly) demands from me. My female colleagues work full-time and still has to keep the house, kids, and husband happy.)
5.) We all want children someday or atleast think they're all adorable.

Of course, I am a born and bred a city girl and I cannot speak for the more conservative and traditional women from the countryside or "province" as Filipinos identify people not reared in highly urbanized areas. BUT even for those from the province, item #4 is applicable. Women from the countryside are sturdy and strong and they keep home, hearth and family together even under difficult conditions.

Often, Filipina women are brought up and taught to be "mahinhin" and "pino" or pure and delicate. These are the virtues that Filipino society accepts and men supposedly want. I find this utter bullshit at this day and age.

As a 3rd world country working to catch up to its Asian neighbors with emerging economies, women have no time to act pure and delicate. Women need to work alongside the men to augment the family income and send their 5.1 children to school.
Womanizing, two-faced sleazeballs are often forgiven and sometimes expected in the "macho" culture of the Philippines. This is another reason why we can't do the fluffy act because Filipinas need to be strong to either crush their macho husband's two-timing balls or steadfastly hold the family together for the sake of their 5.1 children while her husband's pecker wonders about and sleeps in another woman's bed. Whereas an American woman would divorce her husband's ass and demand half of his assets for cheating on her, Filipinas still often look the other way. Frankly, I choose kicking him out, but what does a urbanized single girl know about bringing up a family right? Am I too liberated or selfish to nurture a family? This much I know, my hypothetical children will lose their respect for their mother for playing the martyr and still hate their greaseball of a father when they find out. So, what's the use of maintaining a happy family act in that kind of situation?
Oh of course, we're Catholics (but that's another story).

No, it's not true, we aren't as mahinhin or pino as before(like 40 years ago). We can't afford to be, and maybe many of us DONT WANT TO BE.

So with that introduction, I give you the controversial clip of Korean actor Lee Dong wook's visit to a local tv show when he was here in Manila over the weekend. Most of his fans are up in arms because they feel that the show misrepresented the true essense of a Filipina who is sweet, pure, and refined. Uh huh, is our president in anyway "pure and refined?"

Controversial clip #1

Frankly, I think that its universal for pretty girls who always got used to men falling for them to try their charms on a man they find attractive. What does that have to do with being a "dalagang Filipina"?There are different styles and ways, but women ALWAYS want to be noticed by attractive men--that's why species survive. The women in the show obviously think they're pretty and fun enough not to embarrass their guest and even make him laugh while keeping his fans charged with envious excitment.

So maybe Korean women or Indian or Taiwanese women would not be as bold when they want to be noticed by an attractive guy. SO what? Just because we are more expressive and less shy than some Asian girls, it doesn't make us cheap. I'm reacting to the hostilities of fans who are so afraid of ruining an image, as opposed to accepting reality.

e.g. comments from youtube:

ruinu (2 days ago)
shit!(sorry 4 d bad comment) those girlz are such flirts, im so embarassed 4 them, how janelle & mariel were acting in front of dong wook was...1 word "yuck!"...d both of them were definitely flirting w/ LDW....

dorjilee (1 day ago)
lee dong wook is sooo cute!!!ang landi talga nila mariel and janel!!! hindi cute ung mga pinaggagawa nila. (mariel and janel are such flirts. What they did wasn't cute at all)it's really so embarassing!!!yucks!!!we all know naman na koreans are conservative (...and then they even asked that luningning to dance like that!) tapos pinasayaw pa nila ng ganun c luningning!!!duh... pangbeerhouse ung sayaw nya, hindi pang noontime show!!!! (her dancing belongs in a beerhouse and not a noontime show)

Geostars (1 day ago)
Really stupid and embarassingly bad. The only thing that would improve it is if the squirming "hosts" got naked and sucked him off.

LDWaddict (1 day ago)
i hate mariel very much..napaka landi..feeling maganda.. lalo na si luningning, napaka pangit naman.. sana mamatay na silang dalawa, mga malandi.buti nalang si janel dadil hindi masyadong ma ladi...(i hate mariel very much, she is such a skank and she thinks she's so beautiful. That Luningning is so ugly, I hope they both die, skanks! Atleast Janel wasn't as bad)

If most Filipinas are really delicate and sweet, then I wouldn't think that bashing the tv hostesses is hypocritical. But come on, Filipinos are crafty and creative in circumveting procedures to get ahead, that applies to both men and women(just look at queues in this country--there aren't any because people just cut in line), so with this behavior, how do could we still propagate this belief of being sweet, shy, and refined? Another thing, the general masses idolize a tv hostess borne of wealth and power (our equivalent to America's Kennedys) who managed to drag her family's name down the mud with numerous affairs with married men and a media announcement of contracting STD from a married lover--she certainly does not fit the bill of a dalagang Filipina. But Filipinos love her irreverence.

Dalagang Filipina?


GMA speaks to the nation

President Glorian Macapagal Arroyo delivers her 2006 "State of the Nation Address"(SONA) today.

Do you believe her?

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Middle East Crisis

I admit that I have always been fascinated with the Israel story. I've read a good number of books and watched more news and shows about the Middle East situation than any of my contemporaries or people I know who do not work in embassies, and even I am sometimes perplexed where my interest is coming from.

Because of the volatility and sensitivity of the issue, I did not want to make any hard comments or write about the ongoing Middle east crisis. Unfortunately, I have decided to break that promise just this once because of the statement made by Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah during an Al-Jazeerah interview:

"Only "indirect negotiation" will bring about the return of the two kidnapped soldiers, Nasrallah said.
"Even if the whole world comes down, they will not be able to return the two Israeli soldiers unless we have an indirect negotiation," he said.
After the soldiers' abduction, Hezbollah demanded Israel open negotiations on a prisoner exchange. Israel rejected the demand, saying it would encourage more kidnappings."

Does Hezbollah plan on regularly kidnapping Israeli soldiers inside Israeli territory until the Israeli government agrees to their demands of prisoner trade? Do they actually believe that they can blackmail a soverign government (although one they do not recognize) like Israel and the government will simply give in to their demands when they are viewed as terrorists?
Even if Israel did agree to a trade, their action will serve as precedent for future kidnappings where enemies of their government and people will take the example of Hezbollah and start abducting Israelis in wholesale to blackmail their government.

I know this may sound naive given the delicate history and relations of Israel and Palestine and Israel's Arab neighbors, but kidnap for trade of prisoners should never, in theory atleast, come to pass in any part of the world, in any circumstance.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Who's your country's Paris Hilton?

At first she was just an anomaly. A spoiled daughter of a rich and well-known American family who wanted to become famous. She didn't finish highschool, loves to contribute to the world economy by spending her family's money, parties like a rocker, and has amazingly thick skin--thick enough to withstand any cold weather--evidence of her propensity for skanky clothes at any time of the year. Oh, and up until today, she has no known talent of the conventinal kind.

She's Paris Hilton, and she managed to build the Paris Inc. brand without needing to starve, work day jobs, or audition (skanking, stripping, and shagging are skills to get you in showbiz, but you need more than those to become a star). She doesn't need to know how to act, to sing, to dance, to write music, to design...she just needs to show up infront of the media and act outrageous.

And people lap it up because she's an heiress and a Hilton first before she's the cheap Barbie doll caricature that she has painted herself.

Many people who were brought up with a sense of entitlement are often compelled to act outrageous, thinking they can get away with anything (Hello Brandon Davis). And so America has gifted the world with another strange anomaly; when the powerful economic sector of teens and prepubescent girls(not to mention some gays) started to aspire to become Paris when they grow up, America has produced a pop icon only America has the capacity to create.

Yes, although Paris' best acting scene in her debut movie was the scene when she was finally butchered, her album may be heavy on accompaniment and thin on vocals, she may often flash her nips and sometimes scare us with her crotch exposure, she may be the biggest client of smugglers of rare species of animals, and she gets paid bazillion amount of dollars for showing up and waving to her public in "charity" events, Paris Hilton is still raking the bucks and the media milleage for doing what she loves to do--being the center of attention through whatever means possible.

Pinoy version

Her name is Heart Evangelista and she was thus named because she was born on February 14, the day of hearts for the sentimental pinoys (aaawwww). She also comes from a wealthy family that owns a chain of restuarants all over the country.
She's got a pretty face for sure, a face considered elite or sosyal in local term and, combined with her wealthy background, a rarity in local showbiz circle. Sure there are a lot of pretty mestiza faces in showbiz, but few look classy and fewer (if at all) actually belong to "polite society" like ms. Valentine's family over there.
Like Paris, Heart has made a career in marketing her brand identity. She's got no known talent to speak of, but her strenght is that her cutesy and sweet image can sell products from shampoo to ink refillers.

What's the big deal right? Filipino actors (atleast the new generation) are not exactly brimming with talent that can compete internatioanlly-- heck, not even regionally-- so what's the deal with Heart?

Well she's probably the biggest earner in terms of endorsements as well as being one of the least talented and braindead celebrities out there (which is saying A LOT).

Let me count the ways:

Well, she's worked as a VJ in a local music channel even though she doesn't know how to ad lib or even speak straight english. For a girl who hawks her image of being "manor born," the prerequisite of fluency in English has been lost to her. She cannot complete a thought or a sentence entirely in English or Tagalog. I remember the shameful episode of seeing her interview "The Black eyed Peas" and there would be consistent dead air once the guests have answered her prepared questions since spontenous follow-up questions from Heart would be long time coming.
She's calls herself an actress, but she might as well stand infront of class and read from a poem based on her line delivery. Damn, she always plays the preeny/needy girl you wanna smack in the head to see if gray matter actually comes out from her ears.
She can't sing, but she can bat her lashes; she can't host because her brain doesn't work fast enough for live television, but she was a regular host for a Sunday noontime show where teenagers can legally flaunt their wares without the parents being slapped with child labor.

Like Paris, I consider Heart a venomous influence to young girls. In a 3rd world country where instant celebrity means instant solution to poverty, a rich, pretty, but talentless and silly girl has become an icon of young girls. She has the hypocritical gal to become the endorser of college when at 21, she has not even pursued higher education. Where girls should be encouraged to go pursue an education, she likes to talk about her priviliged background, being brought up as "gastadora" (shopaholic).
Her lightweight talent is completely opposite to her passion in protecting her sweet image. Her handlers know that image alone brings her the millions, and without it, she has no skills to sustain her as backup. So inspite of years and years of being an "actress," her roles are basically the same--the sweet girl that any man wants to bring home to mom (gotta sustain the fantasy for her product consumers). As an actress, her biggest role this year is the damsel in distress of a local superhero who gets his power from a sword, a cut-rate reprisal of a classic Filipino fantasy film.

Inspite of the elite trappings, watch 3 minutes of her interview and it's easy to see that her reality is local showbiz where dreams are fleeting, fantasy makes money, and talents are few. One of her "Paris-like" comments was that she loves her new boyfriend because he's "pinoy na pinoy" and because of him, she is improving her Tagalog. She can't speak the local language even though she was born and raised here, though when she opens her mouth, she can't speak fluent english as well. Does that mean she has permanent verbal diarrhea?

Of course, who cares if you don't make sense and you don't have a real acting career when preening is much more lucrative? What difference does it make if you can't act even though you've been in showbusiness since your pre-teens ,when an acting award is not going to buy you the latest Louis Vuitton bag? Heart certainly has made her choice.

So, who's your country's Paris Hilton?


It's a no brainer why I'm crushing on this man big time (even if he's vertically challenged)

"Talent survives and remains while beauty is diluted."
-Gael Bernal Garcia-

How can you not love him? He has both in equal amount and a large dose of intelligence as well, and he utilizes all of them! You either love him or hate him for being such a tamale caliente.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Hot child in the city

So, my second date with my city took me farther from home. SM Mall of Asia is about 15km from my house, while Pasig City, where I met a longtime friend, is about 22km from my house. Why am I so conscious about the distance? Well, I live in the suburbs and driving to different parts of the city during weekends can sometimes feel like a chore because you're already happily snug in your quiet little corner away from the noise and traffic and then you have to brave the Manila obstacle course again.

Anyway, enough of whining about driving, lets get back to my date.

I met my friend for lunch in Podium Department store. It's a snazzy high end department store where people who just want to sit down over coffee and have a conversation can actually find a quiet enough place to stay. That's a rare commodity here in the city.

My friend has become a scrawny tall thing after a year of not seeing each other. She told me she's busy as ever and she's in the process of expanding her preschool business and would soon be opening some franchise branches in the country. It's no wonder why the girl looks like she's about to keel over. We caught up on our personal lives and she announced that she is now the proud aunt of a niece from her younger sister, and a nephew from her financial whiz younger brother.
"Everyone's getting hitched or getting pregnant," I observed.
"I know, so did you meet any hot man in Russia?" she asked excitedly.
"Whatabout Europe?"
"I saw a cute guy while riding the metro in Vienna," I replied.
"And I asked him what train I should take for this place I wanted to go."
"And...?" my friend didn't sound so excited by this time.
"And I smiled and he smiled, and he had the longest lashes in the world."
She grimaced. "In short, nothing happened." She rolled her eyes and attacked her turkey sandwich with renewed vigor.

We proceeded to talk about subjects we were more knowledgable about--career and travel--so we could ignore the current state of our romantic life.

A few hours later her younger sister called and asked to meet us. She had her 4 month baby with her. I'm not a baby person and I don't really know how to coo, but since the baby was my friend's niece, I decided to go along to meet the parents. The baby is a fat little piglet, and I say that with fondness.

After I left the family, I went in search for the vcd that has been elusive to me for the past weeks. I've been running around looking for a copy of Gael Garcia Bernal's movei, Amores Perros.

It was his debut film, a gritty, bloody, beautiful spectacle that brought him into Mexico's elite celebrity circle when he was just 21 years old. I failed to find a copy, but I won't give up and I'll try to bug people around for one.

After a futile search, I decided to check some accessories that my friends in the U.S. are telling me to bring and to sell to them and their friends. The prices here are pretty cheap, and these bracelets with semi-precious stones would be so much more expensive if you buy them in the U.S. I decided to model some accessories so that my friends can give their approval and opinions while I'm still here. What style is hot?

Leave your comments, I definitely want to read them.

After I left Podium, I drove back to the mall near my home to meet up with my cousin for drinks in the only wine bar in Alabang Town Center. ATC is pretty and reminds my American cousins of California with its laid back, open air charm and architecture. Even the people dress so California, wearing mostly tank tops, shorts, short skirts, and havianas for girls, while the guys wear whatever they want.

I finally ended my date with my city at 2am Sunday morning. It was an exhausting weekend, and Sunday was my sister's birthday.

So, did my back-to-back dates endear my city to me? Did I appreciate Manila more? Well, not really; we're like an old married couple trying to revive a flagging relationship but just can't get a break from our baggage. Well, atleast I had a good time trying--regardless of the result.

A date with a typhoon and Superman

I don't know what you folks did over the weekend, but I had back to back dates with my city. I was chatting with my friend Gian a few days ago and we were talking about mobility in our respectives cities. He said he loves New York because you don't need a car to lose yourself in the city and to discover new digs. On the other hand, Manila is soooo spread out, you really need a car if you want to go somewhere interesting.

Manila is a nightmare for commuters, whether it's the rainy season, or during the summer. Public transportation seesaws between erratic to chaotic, and when you do have a car, driving defensively is a rule of thumb if you want yours and your car's shelf life to last a long time because almost everyone is driving like they are always late for something.

So I decided to watch "Superman Returns" for the second time in the 3D I-Max theater in SM Mall of Asia. It's suppose to be the 3rd largest mall in the world, next to Golden Resources Mall in China and West Edmonton Mall in Canada. Personally, I don't really care about the size and breadth of the mall, since I'm an outdoorsy person, but this mall was built on 19.5 hectares of reclaimed land in the Manila Bay area, where the the waters opening to the South China sea is just at the backyard of the mall. It reminds me of a more "down-to-earth" version of Hong Kong's Harbour City Mall.
We were having really stormy weather last week and the view of Manila Bay from SM Mall of Asia was a sight to behold. The sky was dark, the wind was gusty, and the waves from the bay was smashing against the sea walls--it was just fantastic and scary at the same time.

Superman flies to Manila

It confounds me why the U.S. audience is not embracing Superman Returns with as much passion as --well-- everyone expected, the movie is an amazing box office hit here in the Philippines. I have a theory on SR's appeal to the Filipinos: Remember there was a scene where you'd hear from the news on TV the different countries where Superman already "visited" because he was desperately needed there? Well, Manila was first to be mentioned. I think Filipinos live out their fantasies of a superhero saving them from the super corrupt government and political system that are super endemic in this country.

Just my super theory.

Then again, maybe Filipinas just want a superhunk to fly-in wearing a supertight body suit, and the men are just around to make sure the women don't throw themselves from a bridge to be saved by Superman.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Images of Baclaran (none are taken by me, all pics were googled)

I'm leaving the country in August. My friends are supportive and encouraging. None of them have any concrete plans of leaving, but they do have this abstract dream of staking out to the unknown "someday." I don't think I want to go into the never-ending debate about the country's brain drain because this post will just become long-winding and boring as hell.

So, anyway, I was talking to my friend who is married to a Texan. She's fixing the necessary documents so that she can leave for America before November and finally be with her husband. She's excited and yet afraid to leave the Philippines because 1.) she's never been to America 2.) she doesn't know anyone in Texas 3.) she has to adjust to a whole new culture. I told her I have relatives in Austin, and when I'm in the States, I'll visit her in Austin and we can drive to Mexico! Hehehehe. We won't tell her husband that we'll be on the lookout for a Gael Garcia Bernal look-a-like (or Gael himself if we're lucky!).

Her Texan visited her last April and she took him to a famous area in Manila called Baclaran. Frankly, I don't know much about Baclaran aside from the fact that my mom and my aunts love to go there to buy cheap wholesale products of every kind, and that Filipinos love to go to Baclaran Church-- the church is so popular, every actor, politician, yuppie and vendor has boasted about going to the church. My parents probably took me to Baclaran church when I was little during one of our annual Holyweek pilgrimages, but I don't really remember.

Anyway, the place is always crowded with people and you have to be extra alert so you don't become a victim of pickpockets, thus I was suprised my friend would bring her Texan to Baclaran. Can her husband take the heat? (literally and metaphorically)

Actually, her hubby did a pretty good job. He not only enjoyed going around Baclaran, but he also gained a few fans with the vendors loitering around the Church because they were fascinated with his blue eyes. He commented that Baclaran reminded him of Mexico. The church, the vendor stalls lining around the church plaza, the brown skinned people, the occasional beggars, the busy dry market--they all gave a Mexican vibe to the place. Small wonder since Mexico was a Spanish colony as well.

Maybe I should visit Baclaran before I leave. I haven't been to the old Manila area where there are still traces of Spanish architecture left. This way, when I arrive in Texas and manage to kidnap my friend from her husband to take her to Mexico, we'll both look in wonder how close to home a place looks like, even being so far away.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Forza Italia!


Italy will always remain a special place in my life because it became a home base of sort after I left Russia. I stayed in Florence (Firenze) Italy as soon as I left Russia.
I rooted for Zinadine Zidane and France, but I still feel happy for the Italians.


the view outside the kitchen window of my sister's apartment

Morning stroll in Firenze

apartments in Firenze

took pics of the "wealthy" part of the city...the other half lives by the hills

...and this is why I really love Italy!

On top of the Duomo, looking down at Firenze.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Joga Bonito

One will wonder why a country that has been colonized by Spain for 300 years behaves more American on the outside, although quite Latin on the inside. The Philippines was under Spain as long as Brazil was under Portugal, and yet, we do not speak Spanish and we did not learn to love joga bonito, or the "beautiful game" = futbol.

I only watched the World Cup because I am a fan of Ronaldo and Ronaldinho. They are heroes of Brazilians and anyone who even has a tiny appreciation for futbol. Through the weeks, I have learned to love the spirit of the game and how it brings people from different cultures and backgrounds together. I think Futbol brings out love and peace amongst nations more than any other sport in the world.

The Philippines is ailing and needs a hero. The closest we have are our athletes because the politicians and the highest office in the land are stricken with endemic corruption, one of the worst in this continent. But looking at how our lone sports hero Manny Pacquiao is shaping up, I see another traditional politician in the making and I am grossed out. So I thank Brasil first and teams of Joga Bonito second for making me see that real heroism is the spirit and beauty that the games bring to a global community, and not just the magnetic personality of a few men.

Thank You FIFA World Cup 2006
Muito Obrigado
Merci beaucoup
Arigato gozaimashita
dank U wel kiitos
Mille Grazie
Kamsa hamaida
Muchas gracias
Tack så mycket

Saturday, July 08, 2006

So it means I like being naked?

Why We Travel: A Love Affair with the World
by Pico Iyer

Like falling in love, travel throws us into a state of delight, uncertainty and self-discovery. Like lovers, travelers both give and receive. Travelers, like lovers, go naked into the world.

We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again-to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Latin connection

It finally happened.

I am beginning to feel the slow but steady decline of my interest in Bi and anything Korean.

This situation is actually a complication I had anticipated a long time ago. It is not a straight-forward lost of interest--It's a cultural issue more than anything.

I always felt that being Filipino meant a whole gamut of national and cultural identity confusion or maybe even, a vacuum. Who am I, and what does it mean to be a Filipino? Unlike our Asian neighbors, the Filipinos have a weak sense of national identity. Our history is young, and most of what they teach us in school date back at the beginning of the Spanish period, in the early 1500s to the late 1800s. After that, it's more colonial history after colonial history. Yeah, most of us look Malay with mixes from different colonial periods, but we don't have much in common with our Malay neighbors.
The country's predominant religion is not shared with any of our Asian brothers who are either mostly Muslim or Buddhist. Filipinos easily forget and forgive foreign and domestic oppressors like the Marcos family, and thus, have no inclination to learn from past mistakes. We have remained stagnant in the face of our Asian neighbor's development.

So what does this have to do with Bi?

Well, basically, it is difficult for me to understand and emphathize with Bi because our commonality is merely superficial. Yes, we're Asians, we're young, and we've traveled, yet, his culture and background is so different from mine. Filipinos are fond of talking with foreigners, while Koreans keep to themselves. Koreans live for work, while unfortunately, Filipinos live too much to relax. Koreans value face and honor so much, and would sacrifice so not to bring shame to the family. Filipinos may be friendly people, but at the end of the day, the country is poor and many people have learned to live without shame to be able to survive(and those in the government survive because they have no shame).
I see the good and bad side of both cultures, and I respect what each of us have. It also means that I have to accept that Bi and I, our cultural background and national history make it difficult for me to emphatize with him and like him over someone whom I can find more connection with.

Because of the complicated post-colonial history and Spanish influence, I have come to really understand the issues of Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal. Filipinos are Asian Latinos, be that good or bad, superficial or accurate. When Gael talks about life and politics in Mexico, I understand him more than when Bi speaks the same old script of doing his best to please everyone, and not wanting to speak about normal guy stuff like parties and girls and beer. I'm sorry, but it's creepy when you don't see a young man wanting to talk about parties and chicks once in a while for fear of displeasing his public--that is just whack. Gael is more relax, more lupine, more fluid, and he still produces damn fine work that propelled him to international stardom without needing to go Hollywood.

Interview for the movie:Y Tu mama Tambien
I have to say, that scene where you are both masturbating on the diving board looked pretty real . . .
Bernal: That's a nice compliment, in a way.
Luna: Everything in the movie was acting.

Have you ever been in a threesome off-screen together?
Luna: I've been, but not with him. With another friend.
Bernal: When I was in a threesome, it was with two other girls.

One of the things I really enjoyed about the film were the narrator's observations and the director's tendency to drift off on tangents — it had a paternal quality, a sense of conscience. Did you think the film's political messages were appropriate?
Luna: Yes. The movie shows reality. We want the viewers to draw their own conclusions from the reality that we show. It's not a film forcing you to think in any way.
Bernal: I think the messages are very important, because this isn't just a teen movie. Besides, I don't think you can get away with making a film in Mexico without including political messages.

Diego, do you usually flap your arms when you get a blowjob?
Luna: That blowjob was different. It was a professional one.

Do you think you'll be getting more now?
Bernal: We don't think, we know. (laughs)
Luna: Yes. We've been receiving a lot more. That is why I love this movie. I don't care about the awards or the premiere or anything. I just care about the blowjobs.

That was one of Gael's "funny" interviews, something Bi would probably never say or do because he is Korean and his conservative fan base--asians.

I kindda feel bad for Bi, actually. It would be difficult for him to explore his music and his acting because I have a feeling his choices are now based on what majority of his fans expect from him, and not what he wants to do for himself. It's sad, because he's only 24 and his hands seem to be tied.

I am not comparing Bi with Gael to shortchange Bi. I am defining my feelings for two personalities based on different factors taking root from my cultural, social, and traditional background.

So there you go. By accepting Gael, I've accepted the part of me that I kept trying to smother in hopes of feeling a certain oneness with my Asian neighbors, which in truth, isn't as strong as the land bridges that connected this continent thousands of years ago.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Single gals in the city

My sister just informed me that her former roommate in Italy, a bubbly Korean girl named Jin, has arrived in Korea after a 5 year absence. I bet she's got some major adjusting to do after staying in Europe for the past 5 years. While Europe is socially and culturally liberated, Korea is very traditional and conservative. After coming back from Russia and Europe last November, I had a difficult time adjusting to a lot of common Filipino practices (e.g. traffic and non-queueing).

It seems the gals who rocked Venezia are all back in Asia (for now). I spent the Oct. 31-Nov. 1 holidays last year with my sister and Jin in Venezia. We had a fabulous time:

1.) We arrived at Stazione F.S. Venezia S. Lucia with Sakura, a Japanese friend. Her Venetian boyfriend was there to pick her up and she volunteered him to take us to our hotel. Venezia is a maze, and according to Sakura, her boyfriend is a whiz with directions. Well, turns out, her boyfriend is also a dunce, and as soon as he told us that "your hotel is just nearby, we can walk," he proceeded to walk off, expecting us to just follow him like lambs while we carried/dragged our suitcases with us. Did I mention that Asians are tiny compared to white people? Oh, did I tell you that Venezia is made up of dozens and dozens of bridges? We had to carry and drag our suitcases over those concrete stairs while the stupid Pinochio walked steadily infront carrying his girlfriend's tiny purse. I'm all for equal rights, but man and woman are not built equal, and nature designed that the men have the muscles, which this Pinochio used to carry Sakura's chihuahua-sized bag.

2.) Well, although Pinochio was an asshole, our hotel was cute and compact and located in a obscure little corner in the city. Best of all, the bathroom was modern! Sure, Venezia is hundreds of years old and is steadily sinking, but our bathroom was definitely 21st century.

3.) Food was fantastic! The only problem was, although we were 3 small-medium built girls, we all ate like truckers. So we ordered everything from pizza, to pasta, to risotto, and lots of red wine.

4.) We visited the usual places that people have probably read or googled thousands of times already, like the:
a. Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale): creepy and haunting and powerful after all these years. This palace served as the senate house, administrative center, hall of justice, public archive and prison up until the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797.

b. Grand Canal: We didn't ride the gondola because the Japanese tourists booked every single one. I'm kidding, but it was outrageously expensive, and we had no cute guys with us anyway, so we gave it a miss. Venice's main water thoroughfare, lined with great Renaissance palaces, is a colorful and busy spectacle of gondolas and vaporetti.
c. Saint Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco), Blending the architectural styles of East and West, Venice's magnificent basilica was consecrated in 832 AD as an ecclesiastical building to house the remains of St. Mark.

d. Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square): I have to admit, we still engaged in our favorite activity while visiting Piazza San Marco--we had mouth-watering gelato. Anyway, this is the most photographed and famous plaza in Europe, St. Mark's is in the heart of the city, surrounded by chic sidewalk cafes and boutiques

5.) We did the paparazzi thing: We pretended to be Hollywood starlets and took paparazzi photos of each other.

6.) We lost our hotel room: Yeah, we decided to stay another night, Unfortunately, our room was already booked for the following night. Our train for Florence already left when we decided to stay in Venezia, so we had no choice but to stay. It turned out, there was no hotel in the entire city that was not fully booked. We had no place to stay.
We decided to take the train to the closest town, Venezia-Mestre at the mainland, and try our luck there. We literally ran around town at 9pm to look for a free room. It was cold, we were starving, and we had to race against the other tourists who were desperate for a room. Fortune finally smiled on us and I got lucky and found one. Just seconds after I booked the room, a couple more people came in and asked for a room-- I got the last free room and there was nothing left for them.
Yes it was a close call, or else we would have slept at the train station!

7.) The clincher: The tourist information officer went berserk: She started yelling and throwing brochures inside the tourist counter because she was impatient of answering inquiries from the tourists.
Yup, she was tired of doing her job and went amok infront of dozens of people.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Muito quente, Senor Garcia

Continuing on with the Latin beat of my recent musings....

Senor Gael Garcia Bernal ups the heat in Mexico, or whatever country he's in at the moment.

Sure I loved him in Amores Perros, Motorcycle Diaries, and Y tu mama tambien, and in El Crimen del Padre Amaro, but I also like him because he's lyrical. I can't think of another word to describe him, but he might come up with a better one. '

London has a very special colour,' he rhapsodises in his furry, fluent, Spanish-accented English, 'looking at it objectively. But through the interpretation I have of it, I hold it very close. Obviously the different mnemonics like smell or atmosphere - the swampiness of being in the Tube in the summer - bring back for me feelings of a place where I spent perhaps most of my post-inflicted adolescence.'

This is how Gael García Bernal talks, even at this pre-caffeinated hour of the morning. Intensely, with a dreamy flourish, with enthusiasm. His speech doesn't follow the rules of grammar, or of interview convention. I had to look up 'mnemonics'; I'm still not sure what a 'post-inflicted adolescence' is; when a word escapes him, he looks for the Latin root or says the Spanish word with an English accent (a 'flood' becomes an 'inundation').

His English is fantastic, but his thoughts sometimes go too fast for his mouth and his words fall over each other.Yet even when he doesn't make sense, you get his meaning. If an English-speaking actor came out with such pronouncements, he would be dismissed as pretentious and confused. (Hello, Keanu.) But with García Bernal, you fall for his soulfulness. And not just because he's hot'n'handsome, but possibly because of his lupine smile, dancing, brown-green eyes and thoroughly winning persona. And certainly because of the work he has done, and the career choices he has made. ---Talk of the Town, The Telegraph, London. April, 2005.