Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Jesus is the reason for the Season.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Noche Buena is just a few days from now and the ham war has began:

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Is nothing sacred anymore? How many remakes by Hollywood can actually stand up to the originals and proudly say that they were just as amazing and as brilliant? Very few. I am not fond of remakes. Methinks this is scraping the bottom of the creativity barrel, so I had second thoughts about watching the 2008 version of a 1950s classic (and Golden Globe winner for Best Film), The Day The Earth Stood Still.

In fact, I only discovered that Keanu Reeves was playing the role of Klaatu when I was lining up to buy a ticket. Suddenly, the bad taste left in the mouth by the disaster called
Johnny Mnemonic (ugh, too university days!) came back like some ghost of bad movies past.

On the hindsight, the new version is visually appealing - effects and all. Honestly, I think dying by having a billion shards of metal insects fly through you is just too weird (that's it? Nothing - apocalyptical?). I like the idea of having orbs collecting several species of Earth life. There is none of this in the original, of course. What the original lacked in effects however, it made up with its brilliance.

I loved how the original Klaatu immersed himself in the human experience - renting a room and actually spending time with a family, befriending a boy, watching movies and eating ice cream. All throughout the new film, bits and pieces of the original kept creeping in every scene I got too distracted. I am really sorry I watched the new version. I shouldn't have in the same way that I skipped
Wicker Park because deep in my heart I know it will never hold up against the lovely L'Appartement (1966). I mean, with Monica Belluci and all, how can the original go wrong? Right, I am biased. I lurve Belluci.

Anyhow, if you have the chance to find a copy of the 1951 version, please watch it. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


In celebration of the University’s second Sesquicentennial theme, Deepening Spirituality, the Ateneo community is warmly invited to TAKE AND RECEIVE: THE FIRST FESTIVAL OF ATENEO MUSIC

Sunday, 7 December 2008, 6:30PM
Church of the Gesù


Ateneo Boys Choir (Daisy Marasigan, Conductor)
Ateneo Chamber Singers (Jonathan Velasco, Conductor)
Ateneo College Glee Club (Ma. Lourdes Hermo, Conductor)
Ateneo High School Glee Club (Jose Emmanuel Aquino, Conductor)
Dulaang Sibol (Dr. Onofre Pagsanghan, Managing Director)
Jesuit Music Ministry (Fr. JBoy Gonzales, SJ, Director): Blue Symphony, Bukas
Palad, Himig Heswita & Musica Chiesa


the premiere "Take and Receive” medley arrangement of RYAN CAYABYAB

Take and Receive: The First Festival of Ateneo Music
Ateneo choirs to stage free thanksgiving concert for the community

On Sunday, 7 December 2008, 6:30PM, Ateneo’s singing groups will treat the community to an evening of sacred, liturgical, and inspirational music through the concert, Take and Receive: The First Festival of Ateneo Music, at the Church of the Gesù, Ateneo Loyola Heights campus.

The concert gathers Ateneo’s home grown and award-winning groups, the Ateneo Boys Choir, Ateneo High School Glee Club, Dulaang Sibol, Ateneo College Glee Club, and Ateneo Chamber Singers. They will perform with the Jesuit Music Ministry artists, Blue Symphony, Bukas Palad, Himig Heswita and Musica Chiesa.

Distinguished Filipino musician and composer Ryan Cayabyab’s medley arrangement of the different “Take and Receive” compositions by the Filipino Jesuits will be one of the highlights of the concert.

Fans and supporters of these Ateneo singing groups can expect to be regaled by the songs that have made these groups both distinct and popular,resonating Ateneo’s fine musical legacy and the unique spirituality that inspires its music.

Dulaang Sibol is the Ateneo High School theater club founded and directed by Onofre Pagsanghan. Bukas Palad, meanwhile, was co-founded by Fr. Manoling Francisco,SJ 20 years ago. The Ateneo College Glee Club, the oldest university chorale in the country and winner in the 2006 Miltenberg (Germany) Choral Competition and Ateneo Chamber Singers, winner in the 2006 Tolosa (Spain) Choral Contest,will showcase their world-class talent in polyphony and classical music.

Another highlight of the concert is a tribute by the Jesuit Music Ministry artists to Fr. Eddie Hontiveros, SJ, or “Fr. Honti,” the acknowledged Father of Philippine Liturgical Music, who passed away in January 2008. The Mass hymns that Fr. Honti composed in the 1970s, after the Second Vatican Council called for inculturation of the liturgy, continue to be sung in every parish to this day, an enduring testament to the intimacy of his music with the heart of the Filipino and the message of Jesus Christ.

Take and Receive: The First Festival of Ateneo Music marks the Ateneo’s 149th anniversary, the year of “Deepening Spirituality,” the second theme of a three-year
countdown to Ateneo’s 150th anniversary, or sesquicentennial. Ateneo de Manila
University will celebrate its sesquicentennial on December 10, 2009 with the theme “Building the Nation."

Mimi D. Agbay
Project Coordinator - Ateneo Sesquicentennial
Phone No.: +632 426.6001 loc. 4083
Mobile No.: +63 917.8933379

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I have just most recently discovered Günter Grass. The Tin Drum is his first book, printed in 1959. Only last week, I found a flaky copy in a book fair in UP Diliman - for only P100! A 1963 edition. Be still, my beating heart.

Friday, November 21, 2008


How have you guys been? I haven't written anything of import lately, save perhaps for a short story I'm working on. Yes, I'm writing again! (Thank goodness.) Although a rather sad event jumpstarted this writing spree, it still matters to me that I'm doing it because the art of the short story had been very elusive for the longest time. At least to me. I am not one of those gifted with the skill to tell a story (which makes me a very bad liar) and most of the stories I have are all percolating in my mind. I must write them all down very soon before they turn stale. It does help that I'm surrounded by writers lately. I hope their talents rub off on me. :-)

So, how's life with you? I hope all is well. My new life here at the Farm is neither routine nor that exciting. It's a mix of really, really slow versus really, really stressful days. Yeah, too extreme for comfort. Oh, here's a photo of the freshly mowed avenue fronting the office. Don't you just lurve the smell of newly cut grass?

Oh, where will it end? Will it ever?

Up here, we have a love-hate relationship with the weather. In summer, we pray for rain. During rainy season when most of the weddings happen, we pray for sun. Tsk, tsk. The heavens must be so confused by now.

By late December or early January, spraying of the over 100 mango trees will commence. Flowers will start coming out by February and fruits form by March. Do visit us in April when we harvest!

The coconut trees are infested by some kind of bug which eats the leaves in a rather straight pattern. This is akin to obsessive-compulsive behaviour, methinks. WOW, O-C ang bug na ito!

When there's nothing else, there's always the wild kangkong. This grows all over the marsh area. Perfect when steamed and served with ginisang bagoong. Relish now, worry about the gouty arthritis later.

I rarely arrive at work two hours before the time but look at the benefits of doing so. A sun beam here...

a carpet of light here...

and a lovely shadowy number on the front door. *sigh*

Oh yes, even on my memorandum board. :-)
When I get tired of being in the office, all I need to do is open the door and see this...
and this...
and this. :-)
Meanwhile, thanks to friends who've taken the time to drop by, enjoy the WiFi and coffee and the 1G-worth of music I've collected for the soon-to-open coffee shop called Cafe Monogamy. That's Macel of Residencia Boracay with my dog, Turnip. The fat guy in green carrying him is a complete stranger. No idea what's he's doing in this photo or in my office. Shoo! Go away!

Currently Playing: Someone Else's Story (from CHESS); Photos taken with JOY LUCK, a Kodak Z650 Easy Share

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Because I've been so out of touch with the world, I just found out that Miriam Makeba passed away recently. She was 76. Two of her songs, African Sunset and Pata Pata, are part of my Manager's Choice album which I always play at work. Rest in peace, Mama Afrika! You are finally coming home.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Interesting insight by Ms. Jessica Z on the film SERBIS here screened during the recently concluded Dekada Cinemanila.

This, however, won't make me change what I've already written after I saw it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Yes, I know that's a lame title for a blog entry but forgive me as I'm still reeling from my whirlwind weekend schedule. I currently have colds and a mild cough. Anyhow, I rested pretty much all Monday but decided to go out yesterday, Tuesday, after sending off BC at the airport and caught the last remaining films of the 10th Cinemanila here at Gateway. Funny how this mall is so close to where I now live yet I was still not able to attend the screenings early on. Part of the reason, of course, is Cinemanila's well-known inefficiency when it comes to organizing. They opened on October 16th with no schedule to hand out to attendees and since I do not have the luxury of visiting Gatway Mall on a daily basis, I just gave up on them. Last night, on my way up, I espied a former SPi co-worker who I know volunteers for Cinemanila and we had a long chat on the films being shown, the funding the government gave them (or the lack of it) and the scheduling. As per his suggestion, here are the three films I was able to catch in this year's harvest of films (the rest I will just have to find in St. Francis Square *wink*).

The Love of Siam (2008; Thailand) A coming-of-age film about unrequited love and survival on a daily basis. I know it's got that commercial appeal (why, I was just expecting Sharon Cuneta to bounce onto the set any time) but at 150 minutes it's painfully long - too long, in fact - and was milked for all its emotional worth. The best performance here is by Sunee, the mother played by Sinjai Plengpanich who's won Best Actress four times in Thailand for this role. Her son in the film, Mario Maurer as Tong, also gave a restrained yet natural performance and thus won for him the Best Actor award in the Southeast Asian category of the 10th Cinemanila Film Festival. Not bad for a greenhorn actor. He will surely give our biatch-ey actors a run for their money. Overall, the film is heart-felt but can be tiring after a while because it tries hard to please everybody, not to mention the repetitive issues that can't seem to find some sort of resolution. Directed by Chookiat Sakveerakul.

The Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly (2007; Indonesia) is about the experience of being a Chinese in Indonesia. The film, however, doesn't delve much into this topic. Instead, it gave us several almost-silly short footages of scenes that don't seem to add or contribute to the story. I swear I felt catatonia starting to slip in but I held my ground because I need to know if there is some sense to all this at the end (there was none). Filmed by an Indonesian Chinese by the name of Edwin, I think The Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly is one of the most boring films I've ever seen. A complete nonsense. Dousing myself with gasoline and striking a match would have been a more pleasurable optpion.

It's supposed to be some kind of a rogue film vis-a-vis the crass commercialism plaguing the Indonesian film scene but seriously, much of the material is wasted on long, slow shots that are all pointless. Ediwn should learn filmmaking from our local indie directors. Direk Tikoy Aguiluz, if you are reading this, kindly send me my ticket refund.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007; France) The former editor of the French ELLE awoke from a coma three weeks after suffering a stroke. Removed from all that is aesthetic, will he find a reason to live? Based on a true story, the film begins on a brilliant note and ends in a soaring manner. The thing with good films is that they tell a cohesive story (Edwin, are you listening?) and no amount of visuals can make up for a really good script (you know, the kind where people actually do say something). Anyhow, the film's visuals are stunning (with an almost lomo-like palette) and the lines witty and intelligent.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is based on the memoir of the same title by Jean-Dominique Bauby. The film depicts Bauby's life after suffering a massive stroke at the age of 42 which left him with a rare condition known as the "locked-in syndrome". The condition paralyzed him with the exception of his eyelids (more so of the left) so he communicated by blinking. The film was directed by painter and interior decorator Julian Schnabeland (Before Night Falls) and stars Mathieu Amalric (Antoinette, Munich, Quantum of Solace) as Bauby. It was originally to be produced by Universal Pictures and to star Johnny Depp but both withdrew from the project. The project eventually won for Schnabeland the Best Director plume at the 60th Cannes.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Thanks so much for making my day extra special. My constant birthday wish is this: that I may be placed in a position where I can be of help to a lot of people. Amen.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I'm currently nursing a headache. Got home at 2AM. I have weddings all Saturdays of this month. Why am I complaining?

here's a glimpse of what's been happening at my events. :-) I hope you all are well and in high spirits.

Friday, October 03, 2008


Photos are from Sasha's first roll of Fuji Superia 400. The rest were overexposed or shot in very low light (how idiotique). Well, so much for a greenhorn. I have every intention of getting better pictures in the future.

After complaining to friends, V.L. texted back, "Ok na yan. Sa photojournalism profession, before the advent of digital, we used to say, you only get the best shot on the 36th frame. :-)" Hmmmm...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

You did not show up on the day
we were to meet again.
I waited in the rain
near an old, abandoned building
at the corner of Roxas Boulevard and T.M. Kalaw
hoping the rather charming setting would remind you
of Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love.

In the end, you realized you weren’t in the mood

And I, not really in love.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Here's a short list of the books I got from the recent Manila International Book Fair at the Mall of Asia's SMX.

FROM BOOKMARK: The Filipino Bookstore

The Romulo Reader (P50)
Coconut Cookery of Bicol by Honesto General (P100)
The Philippine Cookbook (2nd Edition) by Virginia Roces de Guzman & Nina Daza Puyat (P250)
Cuaresma (P250)
Dreamweavers (P250)


Songs of Ourselves: Writings by Filipino Women in English (P80)
Letters by Bienvenido Santos (P80)
Ang Hayop na Ito! ni Rio Alma (P20)
A Filipino Werewolf in Quzon City by Tony Perez, Edited by Jessica Zafra (P50)
Cubao-Kalaw Kalaw-Cubao by Tony Perez (P225)
Cubao Midnight Express by Tony Perez (P160)
In The Name of Democracy: Selected Speeches of Corazon C. Aquino (P125)
Spiritual Register by T.M. Kalaw (P200)
Tikim: Essays on Philippine Food & Culture by Doreen Fernandez (P395)

What I didn't buy but I should have given that I blog about historical places a lot:

ENDANGERED: Notes on the 1st International Filipino-Spanish Conference on Architecture (P400) from the Instituto Cervantes.

Thanks to Vivian Limpin for the photo. Ang cute ng baboy. Go figure. :-)

Monday, September 15, 2008


Dear friends,

This week, I will be teaching public school teachers how to appreciate the National Museum, thanks to you all. I thank you for all your kind words and letting others know about my tours. I attach my schedules for the rest of September, October and now November. There have been some dates removed for October so please use this schedule as the latest to send to your friends. Starting September 27, our Amorsolo retrospective will be showing and you will have a wonderful experience seeing the best of this National Artist's work in the National
Museum. I have included too a tour of the new Jaime Laya and Family gallery of contemporary paintings hanging at the National Gallery of Art. So, more to enjoy and maybe repeat your visit!

Many thanks again for joining my tour and for helping our public school teachers.

John L. Silva

Thursday, September 11, 2008


The 29th Manila International Book Fair celebrates the power of literature to cross boundaries of time, place and culture, Through books, through language, we can live in a world without borders. In five extraordinary days, we present you with a series of events that expand your horizons, and enrich your ideas, each one carefully crafted and programmed.

Our celebration of books and all that it contains is one of the longest-running in Asia. It is also one of the most accessible and affordable, Through the years, we have welcomed millions of Filipinos to the Manila International Book Fair, which is for everyone of all ages, of all tastes and means and dreams. This year, we are happy to announce that the Book Fair becomes ever more international opening up to other cultures while continuing to champion the best of what Philippine publishing has to offer.

The world comes to Manila this September for the sharing of stories and the meeting of minds.

SMX Convention Center, Seashell Drive, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City
September 12 - 16, 2008 10:00 A.M - 8:00 P.M., Daily

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Fruit pickers under the Mango Tree (1937)

2008 will see the coming together of the works of Fernando Amorsolo, the Philippines' first National Artist (c. 1975). Below are the schedule of events:

The Ayala Museum exhibition ‘Amorsolo’s Maidens Concealed and Revealed’ will be from Oct. 23 to March 8, 2009. It "will survey Amorsolo’s rendering of women as a means of following his career, and will draw attention to his maidens from the American period and his studies of nudes from the post-war years as a tribute to his brilliance. "

The GSIS Museum's ‘Rituals and Amorsolo’, from Oct. 2 to Dec. 20, “underlines how rituals reflect values, beliefs, and shared knowledge, how it brings about interactions among people, places and objects, how it expresses the core of social identity of communities, how it fortifies social structures and institutions, and perpetuates social values. Portrayals include baptisms, praying the Angelus, a family’s walk to Sunday mass.”

The Lopez Memorial Museum’s ‘Tell Tale: The Artist as Storyteller, Amorsolo as Co-Author’, from Sept. 24 to April 4, 2009, is illustrative of Amorsolo’s generation of artists, of how Amorsolo became subject to the workings of image-making industries central to the crafting of fictions — about what it was to be a citizen, to be learned/civilized, to be devout, to be Filipino in the transitional junctures of Spanish-American rule. Beyond looking at illustrations as potboilers, the exhibit hopes to look at how artists such as Amorsolo may have brought other layers of meaning upon texts primarily intended as didactic instruments.”

The Metropolitan Museum’s ‘Philippine Staple: The Land, the Harvest, the Maestro’ will display a harvest field of rice-related pieces and outstanding landscapes.”

At the National Museum’s ‘Master Copy’ from Sept. 25 to Jan. 15, 2009, the drawings transfigure into portraits that imagine the national self and the imperialist other, the Filipino and the American, a President like Manuel Roxas or a Gov. Gen. like Francis Burton Harrison, an elegant American lady or a nameless Katipunan revolutionary immortalized in oil after their stint in sketches.”

The Jorge B. Vargas Museum’s ‘Amorsolo: His Contemporaries and Pictures of the War, Capturing Anxieties’, from Sept. 23 to Nov. 16, will feature the works of Amorsolo and his contemporaries spanning the Second World War (1941-1945) until the immediate postwar years (1946-1947), family and official portraits commissioned by Vargas, and genre paintings. Works by peers — Manansala, Saguil, Miranda and Castañeda — will also be showcased.

The Yuchengco Museum’s ‘Mukang Tsinoy’ will be from Oct. 1 to Jan. 17, 2009. They will exhibit paintings commissioned by Tsinoy families.

Do not miss this once-in-a-lifetime art event.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Wala lang. Just wishing all the best to a very good friend, Nouel, on his new assignment at the Westin Beijing.


I hate looking at my friends' Friendster profiles. They all look happy. Wait, let me rephrase that. They all look happily married. So, there!

Family life is scary. It scares me because I've never experienced one in a normal setting. You know the drift - both parents are there; you've got siblings you want to strangle, the works. Haaay...

I think I just want a kid, that's all. What do I name them? (them?! So more than one? Hahaha!) If it's a girl, maybe Laetitia. A boy would be named Coco. Coco Gozum. Laetitia Gozum. Maganda ba pakinggan yun?

Then we'd go on trips on weekends just like a normal family would.

*wakes up all of a sudden, sweating and breathing heavily*

Monday, September 08, 2008


Lani Misalucha is one artist whose album is always looked forward to. She has come a long way indeed from being an obscure back-up singer to a diva on the Vegas strip. Unlike other local singers, she has thankfully given up the tired birit act and has become known for mature performances. She should know, having been based in Nevada for several years now, that vocal calisthenics aren’t the norm in the US music scene. Maturity - this is what we are to expect from her latest offering, Reminisce.

It can be said that this album will have to find its audience – most probably the mid-to-late 30ish crowd who tune in to radio stations at the dead of night to listen to sad, love songs (yeah, guilty as charged!). Then again, beautiful songs will always find an appreciative ear in anyone who professes to love music, which is good to know because this will ensure this album’s commercial success.

Someone That I Used to Love is appropriately melancholy with a hint of vindictiveness (this is just perfect for those who are nursing a broken heart). A complete opposite is We Could Have it All which was truly an inspired and soulful rendition. Skyline Pigeon has been rearranged to sound contemporary yet retained its soaring spirit (it was originally written as a hymn, after all) - a fresh take on a now-karaoke favorite that was popularized by Sir Elton John from his album, Empty Sky, released in Britain in 1969. Lani’s version is smooth and effortless. The same can be said of I Loved You All the Way. Bridges, originally by Dianne Reeves, is yet another late-night radio classic many listeners would be familiar with. It happily ends in a smooth finish like a really good cup of macchiatto.

Love of My Life, sadly, didn’t have the longing that was so evident in the Queen original. It was as if Lani just went through it perfunctorily. Freddie Mercury was a very passionate artist. He would pour his soul and energy into his songs hence any cover, even if they’re just that, should at the very least approximate the power and the passion that their original singers imbued the songs with. Dust in the Wind could use a little pumping up, although Lani’s version definitely has more oomph than Sarah Brightman’s take on this classic. Healing, popularized by Deniece Williams, remains to be haunting and moving. I really, really love this song. This is one song that IMHO should never be forgotten and relegated to the dust bin. It’s a song of self redemption and God knows how much we need that in this age of grace and somewhat frequent human disgrace.

There was nothing special about Get Here. It sounds like any other rendition. The same can be said of the Where Is the Love / Feel Like Making Love medley. Tin Man is a nice, groovy version compared to a somewhat serious original by America. The new arrangement gave it a bossa nova feel, a welcome change for a new generation of listeners.

I am happy that this album ended on a Donna Summer original, Whispering Waves. The upbeat version is a welcome treat for fans of Ms. Summer and a fitting end to a more or less wonderful new album.

I have no idea, however, why Daniel Tan’s Iisa Pa Lamang was included in this work as a bonus track. Probably because not one Filipino song appears in the repertoire. I am, I’m afraid, not a big fan of this particular song. It reminds of me of bad Alma Moreno films. Overall, Reminisce is a nice album to have and to hold and to keep playing over and over during windy and languid Sundays. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Is it any help that I am reading this book currently? I mean, for the 4th time? Anyway, I am reading the one translated by Princess Alexandra Kropotkin with a foreword by Leo Tolstoy's own daughter, the Countess Tolstaya. I'm doing it three chapters per day and it seems like I'm reading it for the first time. It may sound absurd, but I hardly recall having read certain parts of it (I must have read a different translation the last time). Or could it be that I may have ... fastforwarded? Egad!


I am beginning to find my day offs tiresome instead of restful. I do not know why or what's wrong. I slip and out of sleep, thoughts run through my head as I lie in semidarkness. The wind hardly moves my curtains (which are thick and not exactly sun-friendly). I am like a mole during Mondays and Tuesdays. I forage through my near-empty fridge looking for something decent to eat. I find a half-empty bottle of cucumber pickles and as I bite into one, childhood memories rush into my head like a flood. And it's not making things better. I down Royal, iced tea, water and milk like they are all water. And it's not helping me. I want to unpack my stuff, throw many things away and tie them in black plastic bags. So far, only my mind is willing. Aaargggh. What's bothering me exactly?

This entry says it was made on Wednesday, but the truth is it is 3AM (Thursday) and I'm still in the office. The event has no plans of packing up. I actually dread the thought of going home.