May pupuntahan akong stag party ngayong gabi, tapos ang text sa akin ng kaibigan ko, sa Matrix room daw sa Victoria Court sa Pasig. Nung makuha ko yung message, naisip ko, ahh, alam naman siguro ng taxi driver kung saan yun. Tapos naalala ko (kasi may nagkwento sa 'kin, hehehe) na dalawa nga pala yung Victoria Court sa Pasig. Muntik tuloy akong madulas at tanungin yung babaeng nasa kabilang table, si Eileen, kung alam ba niya kung aling Victoria Court ang merong Matrix room.
A few minutes ago, there was a FrancisM tribute on SOP, and the best part was the Girl Be Mine number with Ogie Alcasid singing with Raymund Marasigan. Rayms totally nailed the rap-rock part (Is this the one that I'm supposed to be afraid of, is this the one I'm supposed to be ashamed of) before the chorus.
It's my favorite FrancisM song, and I couldn't find any good video online, so let me just post this:
The other night, because of the rains, I ended up staying overnight at my folks' place, and my mom and I ended up watching Ramona Diaz's documentary Imelda, which was my birthday present to her. It was a weird, brilliant movie, mostly because of the unfettered access to the subject. Imelda was a ball of tacky extravagance, profound lack of self-awareness, healthy delusion, and appalling vanity, with a glimpse of true evil thrown in for good measure. It was equally funny and chilling in parts.
I gave my mom the movie because she had always been curious about it, and it was the type of thing my grandfather would enjoy, and it was the type of thing my mom and I always enjoyed watching together. During the movie, she was telling me about how the period Marcos declared Martial Law turned out to be her saddest birthday ever (she would have been thirteen at the time), because my grandfather said that it was no time for celebration, and so there was no party. Then she related how, during Martial Law, Tatay would wake up early to buy the then-illegal Malaya newspaper and make his daughters read them every morning so they'd know what went on.
While Imelda was fascinating, I always had been more curious about Ferdinand Marcos. Just before I started into high school, I think it was during vacation at an aunt's house in Iloilo, I stumbled upon an old book about Marcos' early years, prior to his presidency. It was quite a shock to read about Marcos' brilliance, having grown up in a household where the man was (rightfully) villified.
Calling Marcos a brilliant young man didn't do him justice. When he was in law school, he and his father and uncles were accused of murdering a political rival. While in jail, he finished his degree (cum laude, at that) and studied for the bar exams. He posted bail to take the bar and topped it, but wasn't allowed to take the oath because of the pending trial. Although they were convicted, Marcos wrote their appeal while in jail, and he represented himself before the Supreme Court, where they were acquitted.
Marcos also fought in the War, and the book detailed his heroic exploits. I would later find out (from Tatay) that his medals were fake; the book, it turns out, was written specifically for his presidential campaign (much like how it works with American politicians to this day). But there was no doubt that he still fought during the War.
After WWII, his political career soared as a darling politician, an articulate, intelligent young man (think Chiz Escudero, only better). And then he married Imelda, became president, and we all know what happened next.
All the greatest evils of our society started or were exacerbated during the Marcos regime: cronyism, corruption, the gap between the rich and the poor, the Communist threat, the national debt, the diaspora, anti-intellectualism, the abuse of military power, a culture of human rights violation, exploitation of the masses, media intimidation and manipulation, Kris Aquino's entire career, etc. And yet, once upon a time, he was the best and the brightest the country has ever seen, the representation of all our hopes, the embodiment of all our dreams, as brave as Bonifacio and as brilliant as Rizal.
He was, for all intents and purposes, Darth Vader.
Now who wouldn't want to watch a movie about that?
Anyway, this piece over at Salon about his death sheds some light about his death, mourning his suicide as a tragedy but not romanticizing it. It relates, in some painful detail, his battles with depression and his Sisyphean struggle to live a normal life.
I never feel comfortable writing about this topic, but the other day, I realized that while I had written about so many other girls in these pages, I never really wrote about my mom. She's turning 49 today (though she doesn't look it).
She had me when she was 22. By the time I turned 2, she and my dad had broken up, and she was raising me as a single mom. She didn't really figure in my earliest memories; I rarely saw her because she worked, first, the two jobs, then an office job in Makati that required long hours. When I got a little older, we found a little more time together when she'd take me to the office, usually when she had the cash so she could treat me to dinner out afterwards. I remember she once even took me to the Peninsula coffee shop, and I loved it. It was a big thrill for me, but now that I think about it, I bet it was a big thrill for her as well. Those are some of my fondest memories.
I don't remember the context now, but there was a moment back then when she sat me down, and she told me that even though we only had each other, that we were going to make it. I don't know if she was emotional when she said it, like if she had been having a long day, or if she said that matter-of-factly, but the moment stuck with, even though time has been kind enough that she probably doesn't remember that anymore.
Things turned out to be much less dour for both of us. A few years later, she and my stepdad had kids (my two brothers and a sister), and while we've had our share of problems, there haven't really been too much drama. I moved out on my own a couple of years ago, but I still call and visit her regularly (although probably not as often as she'd like). Over the past few months, because I've had the luxury of time, I was even able to treat her and my sister to movies and dinner. I'd like to do more often; hopefully my schedule (and my wallet) permits.
My absolute favorite thing about the Eraserheads reunion weren't the songs, although they were brilliant; like a lot of people, I felt that they gave us more than we could ask of them at the time, and wasn't that electric Alapaap opener worth the price of admission already?
But the best thing about the reunion is that the guys are okay. Not health-wise (although we all got the good news that Ely's on his way to recovery), but that the guys are okay with each other. It's no secret that the members, particularly Ely and Raymund, have had a gap. In fact, when Ely had his first heart attack, Raymund was the only Head who didn't send his regards to the old comrade. It's a divide that affected not just the band, but the fans and the rest of the local music scene.
Prior to the group's first rehearsal, Raymund expressed some apprehension about the awkwardness that would surely be present during the session. He did say that he'd approach the preparation for the reunion concert in a professional manner and give it everything he could, but there was no indication that the gap would be bridged.
The rehearsals went well enough after the initial awkwardness, according to accounts by Raymund and Marcus, but again, it could be the guys just doing their job. Then when the situation with the tobacco company was about to boil over, Raymund sent another email where he expressed some frustration about the situation, a frustration that was shared by the rest of the band. He went on to describe the band as a "four-headed hydra" that had awakened, and it struck me as the first indication that there was a chance that we were going to witness the Eraserheads, instead of four guys from different bands who just came together for a gig that paid them a wild amount of cash.
A few hours before the concert, Raymund again posted a message about the preparations, and again, it was encouraging because he cheerfully mentioned visitors during the soundcheck, which included "friends from Pupil." He also wrote about his busy schedule the past few days, which included a visit to the wake of Ely's mom. Then in a post after the concert, he gave everyone an update on Ely's condition and later mentioned that he did visit Ely. He also promised another Eraserheads reunion show as soon as possible.
A couple of days ago, Pupil manager Dr. Day Cabuhat finally posted photos from the soundcheck and backstage before the big concert. And it's the best set of photos from the concert you'll ever see. It wasn't just Ely, Marcus, Buddy, and Raymund. It was the Eraserheads. And they were in UP Centennial hoodies, too!
Yesterday, there was a thank-you message posted on the Circus mailing list from Dr. Day, and she thanked Raymund, Buddy, and Marcus for "being there every step of the way." She added, "It is a reunion in more ways than one can ever imagine."
I know that the Heads won't ever be best of friends, and it's the most natural thing in the world for four guys who met in college, to grow up, to grow older, to grow apart. But it's not so much to ask that they be okay with each other, that they exchange hellos when they run into each other at gigs, that all the animosity is gone. Like the song goes: "At kung sakaling mapadaan, baka ikaw ay aking tawagan, dahil minsan tayo ay naging tunay na magkaibigan."
And that would be enough.
It's provident timing, but tomorrow evening, a week after the Eraserheads, we'll be having a reunion of our own. It's my 10-year high school reunion, and like the Heads, a lot of us have grown up, grown older, and grown apart. Still, it'd be good to see everyone.
I wrote about Russell Brand a few weeks ago, and now he's blowing up as he's hosting the Video Music Awards this weekend.
I was able to watch Brand on Forgetting Sarah Marshall this weekend, and his character, British rocker Aldous Snow, was the funniest thing about the movie. He throws his lines in the most casual, offhand way that made it so funny:
"Excuse me, I lost a shoe, like this one. It's like this one's fellow." (Holds up a shoe.) "It's the exact opposite in fact of that. Not an evil version, but just, you know..."
It also helps that he was the type of guy who thinks that a see-through shirt and leather pants are appropriate clothes for a luau.
The girls are great too. Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars forever!) plays the title character while gorgeous Mila Kunis, who really ought to be a bigger star, plays the main romantic interest. What a choice.
Anyway, the movie was part of the last bunch of DVDs I got from Quiapo the other day. I was in the mood for stupid comedies, so aside from Sarah Marshall, I also got Walk Hard, The Promotion, You Don't Mess with the Zohan, Semi-Pro, and the new Harold and Kumar movie. I also got The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Michel Gondry's Be Kind Rewind. I also came away with a DVD that had a collection of Robin Padilla films and another with FPJ films. I was going to get Ace Vergel and Jeric Raval collections, but I figured that I should save those for the next trip.
I didn't become a fan of Spaced, the sitcom that turned Simon Pegg (and cohorts Nick Frost and Edgar Wright) into stars, until halfway through the show's first series. The first few episodes were a little hard to get into, the pop culture references were obscure, and the best jokes elicited chuckles instead of out-loud laughs. But the show soon found its groove, and by the time the second series premiered, I was laughing about as hard as I did during the best parts of Hot Fuzz.
It's a weird show. The best way to describe its humor is that it's similar to The Simpsons, except it's done in real life. The pop culture jokes come fast and furious, with brilliant references to stuff like The Matrix, Pulp Fiction, and Say Anything.
The strength of the series lies with the director Edgar Wright, who also helmed the Peg movies Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Everything works because of the visual flourish that Wright provides. It's curious because it would be impossible to pull this off in American television; directors rarely handle American television shows from start to finish. Fortunately, British TV shows only have limited episodes (Spaced totalled 13), which allowed Wright to shoot the whole show all the way through.
I was actually able to finish some books over the past month, but I haven't had the chance to write about them (not that anyone would care, but still). I read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's short story collection No One Writes to the Colonel, Andrew Sean Greer's acclaimed novel The Confessions of Max Tivoli, and Michael Chabon's detective thriller The Yiddish Policemen's Union.
No One Writes to the Colonel picks up from where One Hundred Years of Solitude, in Marquez's Macondo and nearby towns. It's interesting to read Gabo in shorter form; the loneliness and the pathos of his characters remain, but the playfulness and the humor of his prose becomes rarer with the limited words. The result is sadder and darker, but also more poignant and heart-rending. The stories vary in length, and they all feel like drafts, or rather, drippings, little puddles of literary genius from a cup filled to the brim.
Andrew Sean Greer's book opens with the line, We are each the love of someone's life, and it is, essentially, a love story. That's perhaps the most conventional part, as the title character has an affliction that wouldn't be out of place in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's universe: he is born looking like a septugenarian and he grows younger as he ages. Set in San Francisco at the turn of the 20th century, the novel revolves around Max Tivoli trying to win the affections of the love of his life, and because of his unique condition, he gets to do it three times over the course of his lifetime.
Greer's prose is lyrical and poetic, and he writes beautifully about what would have otherwise been a low-brow science fiction concept. But the tone and the mood of the novel is dark and humorless, and the ending feels a bit like a cop-out, but what a well-crafted novel. While reading the book, I was reminded of Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife, another love story with a sci-fi concept. That novel isn't nearly as lyrical, but as love stories go, The Time Traveler's Wife really delivers the goods.
Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union also begins with a unique concept; it's set in an alternate universe where the state of Israel collapsed soon after its inception, and instead the Sitka district in Alaska became home to European Jews after the war (the Frozen Chosen). The hero is the typical star of pulp novels, a hard-boiled detective battling alcoholism, reeling from divorce, mourning the death of a sister, and living in a run-down hotel in the seedy part of town. The whodunit starts after the death of a mysterious guest in the hotel, and Detective Meyer Landsman's investigation uncovers a trail of conspiracy, corruption, and murder. Between the rich, sweeping plot and Chabon's gift for brilliant prose, the novel approaches the depths of Chabon's Pulitzer-prize winner The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.
And to add to all that, the novel was also replete with Filipino characters and Filipino culture; Chabon figured (and rightly so) that even a fictional Jewish territory in Alaska would become home to Filipino immigrants. It starts quite early in the novel, with characters talking about buying lumpia from a nearby diner called the Pearl of Manila. Later in the novel, Detective Landsman pays a visit to his informer Benito Taganes, the proprietor of the famous bicho-bicho shop Mabuhay Donuts, which is open all night abuzz with deep fryers and a boom box that wails Diomedes Maturan kundimans.
Chabon is known for his meticulous research for his work, but in the notes after the book, there were no sources cited that would give a clue where he got all those Filipino references in the novel, references that flowed so effortlessly and naturally. It's probable that Chabon has Filipino friends that would serve as his source for all of these, given that he lives in Berkeley. But his characterization of the Filipino shop owner reminds me a bit of the title character from Butch Dalisay's short story Oldtimer, which was about a Filipino immigrant who ran a diner in New York. It's a long shot, but how cool would it be that Michael Chabon not only took inspiration from Raymond Chandler and Philip K. Dick, but from Butch Dalisay as well?
Next up on my reading list are Michael Cunningham's The Hours (I never saw the movie), Anne Tyler's The Amateur Marriage, and PL Wombwell's A Battler's Laissez-Faire, which I don't know about but was a gift from my friend Kage from last Christmas (so it should be good). My last trip to Booksale a few weeks ago also yielded Andrew Sean Greer's short story collection How It Was For Me and Take the Cannoli, a collection of essays from Sarah Vowell (I'm a fan of hers from her appearances on Conan).