Friday, September 18, 2015

The Angst of Watching Heneral Luna

As the credits began rolling on the movie Heneral Luna, moviegoers started clapping their hands. A well-made film, Heneral Luna rightfully deserved applause. But I didn’t feel like joining in. I felt more like crying. I felt like mourning. That was what the film did to me.

The film focused (at least for me) on a flawed but brave and brilliant leader who loved his country more than his own life and on his countrymen who only saw him as an enemy, a hindrance, a rival and maybe even a spoiled child that needed to be appeased temporarily. 

What made it hard for his countrymen to see him in a positive light? As a man who could win the war and save the country? Or maybe I ask the wrong questions. Maybe the question should be, what was more important to Heneral Luna’s colleagues and countrymen? Was it really about fighting for independence and freedom? Or were there “more important” concepts—or realities—than that for them? Is it preservation of the status quo, protection of personal wealth, fulfillment of ambition, or a lack of self-belief that one’s own countrymen can run the country?

From the reviews I’ve read, it is obvious that Heneral Luna’s creators did not need a lot of courage of come up with this movie---for there are no stones cast on them, no self-righteous indignation displayed by viewers or critics alike. In fact, the film has received overwhelming praise and support.

Its widespread support (obviously not from theater owners though), if I may hazard a guess, could be because we are honest enough to admit that the film is right about the ugly side of our nature as Filipinos. But that is the very reason I am sad. Why this easy acceptance? Why the lack of discomfort or unease? Are we resigned to the fact that this ugly nature will always get the better of us and in the macro-level, our history? Can it not spur us into self-introspection and later, personal uncomfortable realizations that may help us to think deeply, and then lead us to DO somethingfor the love of country?

The fact that this film is in danger of being pulled out to give way to foreign and mainstream films feels like we are witnessing Heneral Luna’s murder all over again—by his own countrymen.

No amount of Aldub distraction could get this movie out of my mind! Then again, I guess the angst I got from watching Heneral Luna shouldn’t be dealt with denial or distraction.

I hope that I will be able to do something daily, whether small or big, that will prove Heneral Luna was right to love the motherland.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Country I Love

I once blogged about my experiences riding the jeepney. It was supposed to be a fun, light-hearted post about what a daily commuter usually has to “suffer” in the jeepney. Surprisingly, it sparked a word war between two visitors who frequently comment on my blog posts!

When one writes about the Philippines—no matter how apolitical the post may be—it will strangely, somehow become controversial. Nothing seems to be a safe topic if it is about the Philippine culture, lifestyle or society. I haven’t blogged about Pinoy food yet but it had been a topic of conversation one time and somehow, still led to a gripe session about how we don’t know how to market our food abroad when it definitely can compete with other countries’ cuisine! Oh well...can talking about the weather be safe?

You know what they say about the thin line between love and hate? I guess that basically sums up how many of us feel about this country: I love the fact that it has such breath-taking sceneries.I love the hopefulness of the Filipino which may make them sad and even heartbroken about tragedies but seldom bitter. I love how easily people flash a smile even to strangers and how a laugh can just bubble up at any moment—and not just amongst children! I love the Filipino ingenuity and creativity. I love the musicality and artistry.

But for every single thing I love, there are things I don’t love. The corruption that seems to have stained the very fabric of our government and society. The desperate poverty that is so in-your-face and yet the privileged do not seem to see. The big companies, international or Filipino-owned, who cunningly find creative ways of squeezing every single centavo from us. The undisciplined way we conduct ourselves-whether in driving, crossing the streets, throwing trash or handling money.

I could go on—but I don’t want to be sad on the eve of the Philippine Independence Day. So what should I do? Concentrate on the good things and shut my eyes on the bad? Face the harsh realities and drag myself around like a victim?

I guess I should find the balance. I can pick up my trash. I can tell people of the beautiful sites they can visit. I can refuse to pay “under the table” even if it would speed up the process. I can buy products made by small Philippine-owned enterprises. I can pray. I can stick it out and insist on loving the country where God has placed me since birth.

Dear Philippines, I do love you. Despite the warts.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Home Is.

Right when I deplane and step into the arrival area of Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, I feel like I have come home. Right when I step out of the Victory Liner bus and onto the Baguio terminal, I feel like I’m home. Right when I get pass the immigration of Singapore’s Changi Airport or when I step out of the Batangas-Calapan ferry and onto the Calapan pier, that exact same feeling descends on me. Obviously, I feel that same way when I enter my little house in Quezon City or when I pull my luggage off the carousel at Davao’s Bangoy International Airport.

That coming home feeling has become so familiar to me, like an old trusted friend. I guess for someone who’s hard put to answer that million-dollar question—“where are you from?” --this should be of some comfort. For to consider a place home assumes a feeling of welcome.

Home also spells tradition and interestingly enough, I find myself sticking to certain “traditions” when I am in these familiar places: in Baguio—I am obligated to go to the Central Market and check out the fresh produce and buy freshly ground blend of Italian Espresso/Benguet/Batangas/Arabic fine ground coffee. In Thailand- I have to go for foot massage and get groceries at Big C and practice my meagre Thai with whomever is patient enough to listen. In Singapore, I have to meet with good friends scattered around the nation state and go for my regular walk along the Esplanade. In Calapan, I have to go to market and get my favourite dried fish, Bia and also lounge on the rattan hammock of the place I always stay when I am there

And yet with the comfort of the familiar, there is also a sense of detachment. I know that I cannot get myself so settled because once I arrive, the clock starts ticking and time inches me nearer to departure.

Home brings with it feelings of welcome and familiarity but never of permanence. Home as with most everything in life for me, has a transient ring to it.

Yet there is no sadness in acknowledging the reality of transience, for I know that every day I live, I inch closer to a place where transience is graciously replaced by the word forever.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

I'm In Love with This Old Gizzer

I have heard his name before in passing and saw his books when I browse in bookstores but could not be bothered--another self help book, I'd always mutter under my breathe as I sweep my eyes haughtily over the pile of How To books. Not for me, I would say.

Then I went on a Leadership seminar where Jack Welch was one of the resource speakers (unfortunately not in person, just on video). My first thought was gosh, he's so so old! I had to navigate through the gravel that is his Bostonian accent but once I did, boy, was I bowled over.

His straight, no-nonsense ways was a breathe of fresh air. He is tough; a pretty decent man who may come off as cruel if you go by some of his comments, but he is a generous soul who cares for people and how they may grow and be empowered even as he cares for his company's mission and values.

Enjoy and reflect: (Beware, its an hour long, but please take the time.)

It's just sad that a lot of what he says is so true--even in communities of faith. The point, I think, of his message here is neatly summarized in Jesus's words: The Truth Shall Set You Free. (John 8:32)


I love words. Be it written or spoken. I love the way it soothes, tickles, excites, empowers, heals and enlightens. I love how they are never inanimate—the reader or hearer who receives the word brings it to a certain degree of life as he takes it in. Even boredom is a sign of life!

I cannot imagine a world without words. Without words, how can I be transported all the way to exotic lands I would never have stepped foot on had I not read about them? Without words, how can my heartstrings be tugged by stories of friendship, of pain, of love? Without words how can I release my thoughts and emotions to the outside world? Without words, how can I describe to you who I am, how I am and where I want to be? Without words, how can I imbibe more wisdom that can bring me to a better place and become a better person?

Yet in sad irony, words can also simply be words. Not inanimate--as it still somehow finds itself given life in one’s mind. Yet it can be inactive and unproductive. Words can be deceptive—the beauty of prose can distract you from its hollow reality. Words can be powerless and fruitless—serving only to massage the spirit and cuddle the will (well, at least I am smarter, holier and more important after hearing/reading all those words, etc.)—making a cozy nest that tempts one to shift into a more comfortable position and stay that way for as long as possible.

Today I heard a lot of words. A plethora of beautiful and exciting words: Purpose, Meaning, Celebration, Engagement, Courage, Rewards, Audacity, Greatness, Lead, Dream, Hope, Passion.

Today, I felt myself wrapped up in a lovely cocoon of emotions spun by those words: warmth, inspiration, hopefulness, excitement and joy. Oh if only I can just stay in here and enjoy its warm, secure comfort.

Happily, I have been reminded that words are made even more beautiful, more awesome, more glorious when life is breathed into them.

‘And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the father full of grace and truth.’ John 1:14

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

In Praise of Food

Not many words bring as much comfort as the word food. It comes a close second to the word family (and I suspect an overlap). And might even trump the word home—especially in this semi-rootless society where most everyone is stumped when asked where they’re from!

For one, food takes one back to fond memories of childhood--remember that memorable scene in the movie Ratatouille when food critic Anton Ego first came to the Gusteau's restaurant? One forkful of the simple, unassuming ratatouille and the hardened Ego was instantly transported to tranquil childhood days when home-cooked food was equivalent to being wrapped in his mother’s soft loving arms.

In different ways—some more dramatic and some less than Ego’s experience—food has that comforting effect on us. I can still taste the full-bodied Cantonese pork rib soup my mom used to whip up in the kitchen and remember how she accidentally got as kids drunk when she spiked the soup with whiskey (the taste wasn’t strong enough, she said) and was too impatient to let the alcohol evaporate first before serving. To date, that is still the best soup I have ever tasted. Hic!

Adjectives like scrumptious, crispy, succulent, luscious and delectable are enough to make one’s eyes glaze over and one’s mouth water—and food is not even mentioned with these adjectives! That’s how elemental food is in our psyche and thus how powerful.

On the downside, the absence of comfort also reveals itself glaringly in food—how many a mighty Fear Factor champion, having jumped tall buildings and wrestled with crocs, shrink into nerveless cowards in the face of the almighty balut? How many a courageous missionary, having left home and hearth to live for Christ in a foreign land find their determination in shambles in the face of eerily strange tastes that seem too insidiously corrupt their palates?

Food is also a neutral witness that somehow finds a way of insinuating itself into the ebb and flow of life and relationships. Even as it reveals one’s cowardice and tests one’s limits. It has also seen friendships formed, romances kindled—or rekindled, and families reunited. It has seen wounded spirits soothed, broken hearts healed (read: chocolates) and happiness deepened into joy.

Even when you hate the food your good friend adores (read: durian), you accept the difference and embrace the uniqueness and diversity of life that food symbolizes in reckless joyful abandon.

More than putting a man on the moon, I think food is the greatest of man’s invention and the one of best representations of the grace of God—you know, that awesome Guy who whipped up manna in the desert and turned water into wine?


PS. Yes, my dear Blogmates, I am back-and hopefully with more consistency! :) I realized I missed blogging. Will make my visits soon! xx

Friday, January 08, 2010

New Day

Do you realize that we've just about wrapped up our first decade of the millennium? How does thinking from that perspective sound? I look back and cringed at some of the hairy bits of the past 10 years and wonder how I survived them. I also look back and smile at some of the good ol' days that the last 10 years have created.

So what's next for me? Will my past define my future? Will I be able to break free from the hairy bits and be released to create new "good ol' days?"

Hope this little video below will encourage you as you face a new day, today.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hang On by Smash Mouth


Things are getting weird, things are getting tough,
Nothings making sense but you keep on looking up
They tell you to be true, you're trying everyday
To keep it on the real still you got to find a way
To make your mamma happy, to make your papa proud
You'll wanna turn it up and all you hear is tone it down

So gather round I'm here to say
You'll never make everybody's day
But while you're around you might as well, catch the tiger by it's tail

And hang on hang on hang on
Everybody just get on get on get on
Get started and go on go on go on
Everybody just hold on

Sometimes I wanna cry, and throw the towel in
They try to beat me down but i take it on the chin
and everywhere i go the people all the same
and they just wanna know that everything will be ok
when things are getting rough you'll turn it back around
you gotta turn it up when they tell you tone it down.

And hang on hang on hang on
Everybody just get on get on get on
Get started and go on go on go on
Everybody just hold on
Just hang on