A big post of apology

09 Jul 2014

To anybody who sees or reads (or encounters) this blog:

First of all, I would only like to say that I apologise for not having posted anything here, not even of the least value, in this blog for a long period of time.

This isn’t meant to indicate that this blog is closing, there are no plans for that. It’s just that I cannot make the excuse that other bloggers have the right to make which is “busy lives.” On the other hand, weeks that should’ve been spent writing – blogposts, short stories, articles – as well as similarly important things to do for summer like job employment have been spent instead in countless times visiting FB and Twitter, reading and accumulating much stuff both interesting and not; the only important literary activity I’ve done this hot season are poems designed for open mics in literary events.

I actually have a lineup of blogposts here, it’s just that I haven’t done much with them. So I can only hope that God and time will still be available for me to help do those blogspots, articles, and short stories. To God be the Glory!

Sincerely,

Idrian

 

 


“Nada,” pero meron pa: isang pagsusuri sa pelikula ni Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti

12 Sep 2013

Mula sa/Courtesy of fandor.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sa ilalim man ng diktadurya o demokrasya, masasabing ang karanasan ng tao sa modernong panahon ay kasing-kulay ng itim-at-puti o gris na pelikula. Araw-araw tayo’y naglalagay ng mga selyo sa mga sobre na parang mga makina o robot. Tanging libangan natin pagkatapos ng nakakaantok at nakayayamot na gawain ay panoorin ang nakasisigla’t walang-lamang payo ng sikat na psikologo sa telebisyon, o hintayin ang koreo na mag-aalis sa atin mula sa ating walang-buhay na eksistensiya. Sa ganitong klaseng buhay, maaaring tayo’y sumuko sa itim-at-puti na buhay o pilitin natin, sa abot ng ating makakaya, na bigyan ito hindi lang ng kulay kundi pati na rin ingay at ganda. Tulungan at palakasin ang loob ng mga nanghihina, sa pamamagitan ng ating mga salita. Bigyang himig, luha o guhit ng krayola ang mga gris na pader. Mga usok, pagsabog, kaartehan at mga eksenang wala sa lugar na pumuputol sa palagiang maayos at nakayayamot na daloy ng kwento. Ang pangangailangan ng paggawa ng kabutihan at kagalakan sa isang daigdig na hindi mabuti o may galak – ng pagbabago sa isang walang-kilos na mundo – ang pangunahing tema ng pelikulang Nada (“Wala”) ng Kubanong direktor na si Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti, na parehong makikita sa mga tauhan, kuwento at istilo ng pelikula.

 

Isang karaniwang empleyada sa isang opisinang postal sa Habana si Carla Perez. Ang tanging trabaho niya bawat araw ay magtatak ng selyo sa mga sulat na ipapadala sa kanilang mga destinasyon. Tanging libangan niya mula sa nakayayamot na trabahong ito ang psikologong nagbibigay ng magandang payo sa telebisyon – o telebisyon sa kalahatan – at paghihintay sa bisa na magdadala sa kanya sa Estados Unidos. Isang aksidenteng pagtatak ng kape sa isang sulat ang magbabago sa buhay niya. Nang matuklasan niyang sulat ito ng pamamaalam sa isang propesor ng dati niyang estudyante at karelasyon – na sa tingin ni Carla’y hindi maganda o positibo – dinesisyon niya na gumawa ng pekeng bersyon ng sulat, gayahin ang istilo ng pagsusulat ng orihinal, mas positibo ang tono kaysa sa orihinal, at ito ang ipadala sa tatanggap. Sa ‘di-boluntaryong tulong ng kartero at katrabahong si Cesar, sinubukan ni Carla na gawing mas mabuti ang buhay ng mga tao sa lungsod sa pamamagitan ng kanyang mga pekeng sulat. Ginawa niya ito sa kabila ng ilang mga balakid, kasama na ang tiranang tagapangasiwa ng opisinang postal, isang kapitbahay na walang pinag-uusapan kundi ang kanyang buhay, isang ‘di-inasahang bunga ng kanyang gawain sa sikat na psikologo, at ang patuloy na paghihintay para sa bisa.

Makikita sa dalawang pangunahing tauhan ang tema ng pagbabago. Sa kanilang dalawa, si Cesar ang nagsisilbing koneksyon ng mga manonood sa pelikula. Sa kanyang kawalang-interes at gusto na sumali sa raket ni Carla, kinakatawan ni Cesar ang karaniwang tao sa modernong lipunan, na mas iintindihin ang sariling mga gawain kaysa lumahok sa pagbabago sa kanilang kinagagalawan. Isa pang patunay sa ginagampanan niyang papel ang madalas niyang pakikinig sa “player” niya sa mga una niyang eksena, komportable sa sarili niyang daigdig, komportableng walang nababatid sa paligid niya; maaaring isama rin dito ang kanyang reaksyong sinikal sa naging bunga ng pekeng sulat sa psikologo. Sa kabilang dako, kinakatawan ni Carla ang pangarap ng karaniwang tao na makagawa ng pagbabago sa paligid niya. Makikita ito sa simula pa ng pelikula sa pamamagitan ng kanyang itsura – sa ayos ng kanyang buhok at pananamit – na ibang-iba sa karamihan ng tao doon. Patunay rin sa kanyang mapagbagong pagkatao ang hindi niya pagtanggap sa kanyang sitwasyon at kagustuhang umalis sa kanyang lugar, kumpara sa iba na sa karamiha’y tanggap ang kanilang kinalalagyan sa buhay. Buong lakas niya’y binigay niya sa gawain ng pamemeke ng sulat nang pinasok niya ito. Makikita ito sa eksaktong pagkopya niya sa istilo ng pagsusulat at kung anong uri ng “pagtutuwid” ang ginawa niya sa mga sulat. Dagdag pa sa katunayan ng kanyang pagiging mapagbago ang pagkakatwa ng kanyang mga kilos. Isang magandang halimbawa ang pagtawa niya sa insidente ng “feedback” ng mikropono sa pagtitipon ng mga empleyado ng koreo, nang tapos na ang iba sa pagtawa. Sa huli, mismong “pagbabago” ang nagbago sa mga tauhan. Naimpluwensiya ni Carla si Cesar na gumawa ng kanyang sariling pagbabago sa pamamagitan ng kanyang pagsisikap sa pagsusulat. Ang pagdating sa wakas ng kanyang bisa ay nagdulot kay Carla na tuluyang lisanin ang Habana at wakasan ang kanyang panahon ng pamemeke ng sulat. Sa mismong katangian ng dalawang tauhan at ang tugon nila sa kanilang mga aksyon at mga aksyon sa kanila, makikita ang kahalagahan ng tema ng pagbabago sa pelikula.

Deretso ang kwento pagdating sa pagtalakay sa tema. Layon ng dalawang bida na magbigay kulay at buhay sa kanilang lungsod sa pamamagitan ng mga pekeng sulat, at nandiyan ang mga pwersa ng reaksyon para pigilin ang pagtagumpay ng mga bida at panatilihin ang kasalukuyang ayos ng mga bagay. Nangunguna sa kanila ang tiranang si Cucha Cervera, ang bagong tagapangasiwa ng opisinang postal na pinagtratrabahuan nina Carla at Cesar. Mukhang walang ibang hangad si Cucha kundi ipamukha sa bawat empleyado sa opisina kung sino ang boss at ipataw ang kanyang mga gusto doon. Sina Carla at Cesar, mga alagad ng pagbabago sa opisina, ay mga panganib sa kanyang plano na panatilihin ang kaayusan ng opisina, o kung tutuusi’y lalong paghihigpit ng kaayusang iyon. Isa pang kinatawan ng mga naghahari sa kasalukuyang sistema, na dapat ipunto dito, ay ang mga ‘di-makitang kapangyarihan sa likod ng hindi-agarang pagproseso ng bisang papasok kay Carla. Kung kinakatawan nina Cucha Cervera at ng mga nasa likod ng bisa ang mga pinuno ng kasalukuyang kaayusan, kinakatawan naman ng ibang mga kontrabida, sa kanilang sariling paraan, ang mga biktima nito. Matatawag na kontrabida ang kanang-kamay ni Cucha na may ‘di-karaniwang problema, dahil aktibo siyang tumutulong sa mga balak ng boss niya, at ang madaldal na kapitbahay ni Carla, dahil ang pagpapakita niya ay laging nangangahulugan ng sakit sa ulo, o tulog, para sa bidang babae. Sila’y mga biktima ng sistema sapagkat wala silang tiyak na ginagawa para malutas ang kanilang mga problema na maaaring bigay ng sistema: mukhang tanggap ng kanang-kamay ang kanyang kondisyon, samantalang hanggang daldal lang ang ginagawa ng kapitbahay bilang lunas sa kanyang mga problema. Ang kwento ng Nada ay ang laban sa pagitan ng mga pwersa ng may-buhay na pagbabago at mga pwersa ng patay na sistema.

Bukod sa mga tauhan at kwento, makikita ang pagdidiin sa tema ng pagbabago sa istilo ng pelikula. Hindi nababagay ang Nada para sa manonood na gusto ang mga pelikula niya’y klaro at normal ang daloy at itsura. Pinalalamutian ng mga makukulay na guhit ng kidlat at pagsabog ang itim-at-puti na pelikula. Hindi “normal” sa karaniwang kahulugan ang pagganap sa ilan sa mga tauhan, tulad ng naunang tagapangasiwa na “esplosibo” ang pamamahala sa opisina at ang nakakalokang babaeng bantay ng opisina niya. Ang pagpapakita ng panloob na monologo ni Carla ay ipinapakita sa paraang nakagigitla at nakakagising sa manonood. Pinapakita ang iba’t ibang mga uri ng pelikula, tulad ng drama at komedya, katabi sa bawat isa sa paraang mahihirapan ang manonood na tingnan sila sa lohikong pamamaraan. Isang kuwadro sa uring pelikulang-tahimik ang nag-uulit sa sinabi ng isang tauhan, isang kasangkapang pangatog sa manonood mula sa kanyang pasibang panonood. Ang hindi maayos at regular na istilo ng pelikula, kasama ang mga eksenang pumuputol sa normal na pagtakbo ng kwento, ay sadyang dinisenyo para ipaalala sa mga manonood sa “tunay na oras” ang tema ng pagbabago.

Sa mga tauhan, kwento at ayos ng pelikula, hinahatid ng Nada ang mensahe ng pangangailangan na makagawa ng magandang pagbabago sa lipas na paligid. Hindi ito kailangang maging malaki o rebolusyonaryo; kahit mga simpleng gawa tulad ng pagbibigay-ngiti sa kapwa tao ay naglulunsad ng mga malalaking saluysoy sa lawa. Sa kanilang sariling at maling paraan, pinapakita ng mga bida ng Nada ang kahalagahan ng diwang mapagbago sa araw-araw sa mundong ating kinagagalawan.

 


Musings of A Canadian Nationalist (or, a Prose Poem Attempt)

01 Jul 2013

They say the Canadian nationalist is dead. Or extinct. Or irrelevant. Or plain unnecessary. They say he or she is no longer needed in this globalised age, that at best the Canadian nationalist advocates for what’s impossible, at worst an enemy of diversity. The Canadian nationalist may have been relevant for the sixties and seventies, when this country was just trying to find (again) itself, but no longer so today. Hey, maybe the goals of the Canadian nationalist have been achieved. This country is now distinct from the United States in numerous ways, like in healthcare, importance of military, the “French fact,” our reputation for tolerance and open-mindedness.

Or maybe not.

Well, take a look at it. Most of what we think as “Canadian identity” came from a party that was historically until recently, pro-US. And human rights, individual liberty, all those things? They don’t make this country different from the US. And now, the current Conservatives are implementing emphasis on the military, less government and deregulation – things no different from the Republican party. Some say this country is “America-lite.”

If that’s the case, then why Canada? Why the need for this country to exist? Why not just join Uncle Sam’s embrace? Healthcare? Well, that was a recent phenomenon – not much accepted in the days before Mr. T. Douglas established it (or maybe I’m wrong, but that was piecemeal!). Parliamentary democracy? The monarchy? We don’t think much of them as special, anyway, except on events where they are celebrated. How about Quebec? Its fate different than Louisiana’s? Remember, Quebecois desire to separate is strong.

Why Canada?

I think the Canadian nationalist is still relevant in this day and age. Regardless, arguably, of the ideological leaning – “old” Tories who still see this country as based on the ideas and principles of Sir John A., or those coming from the New Left whose nationalism is of course, more left-leaning. And even those patriots from the Liberal party and other groups.

What matters most here is that, if this country is ever to be truly relevant in this day and age where globalisation has made everything minor and irrelevant that which is not in-tune with it, if Canada is ever to truly assert itself on the crowded stage, the Canadian nationalist, the first defender of this country, its front-line defence, is still important and necessary.


About this dominion

12 Apr 2013

Courtesy of shutterstock.com

The last Other Press article I have for this season deals with Canadian identity, what it was in the past, and what it may be in the future. Hope this furthers discussion about Canadian nationalism in such a globalising age as this.


Three stories

22 Feb 2013

Here’s another exception to the Other Press cross-post you’d probably see for this season. The following are three short stories first narrated at open mic events, all in New Westminster. Anyone wanting a different form of entertainment from the one you see on the big monitor on your living room or bedroom, or elsewhere in the World Wide Web, can click on the links and enjoy.

The Clubhouse

A Night in the City

The Email Message


A poem about Canada

03 Dec 2012

The following poem was first performed at the Book Launch & Open Mic event at Renaissance Bookstore, New Westminster, 2 Dec 2012:

Beyond Snow and Maple Leaves

There before me

The snow country stood.

Lifeless, thin branches supported by

Equally thin, hollow trunks.

The leaves of maple lying on the ground.

What to think, what to feel?

What to see beyond all these?

Is there more to this land than snow and maple leaves?

 

Are we all guys and gals who

Skim before the rink like swans with metal feet

Bearing long downward pikes

Prepared to hit the rubber cookie back and forth

Like some preordained play

Armoured we are with padding and helmet?

 

Are we brothers

Donning toques and thick jackets

Sitting in a log cabin

Atop some sofa

Talking to a camera

On how buffoons and self-deprecators we are, eh?

Laughing at ourselves and not taking us too seriously

To the point where self-respect disappears gravely?

 

Are we more than just moose, beavers, geese?

Are we more than the mountains, wheat fields

And lakes that surround us?

Are we more than a certain brand of beer,

Are we just those polite guys up the border

The ones the union of the south tends to forget frequently?

 

Can we be more than stereotypes?

Can we be more than just multiculturalism

And globalism?

Can we be more than acommodating

And towards cooperating?

Towards cooperation and the common good?

Towards the welfare of all and the history of all?

To a land that does not forget the past

But cherishes it and learns from it?

A place where it’s not just your culture

But the culture of this land.

This place where we just find ourselves to be.

In awe of it than taming it?

 

I rest, before the snow.

The leaves strewn beside me and above me.

The blank-gray sky stares before me

Asking me what I to do

What I believe in.

What kind of dominion or puissance I believe in.

I said, yes I believe in.

Believe in what is the good of all and the past of all.

On what values we cherish,

More than just Parliament and Charter.

A land of nature, place and time

A land where the good of all is the good of you.


Remembrance…

13 Nov 2012

The following is a poem I first performed at Renaissance Bookstore‘s Book Launch and Open Mic this past Remembrance Day. The stanzas in normal font are meant to be spoken in a Western accent and the italicized ones in a Filipino accent, with the underlined ones without accents:

Two Wars

Fires fly over the air

As we in tin hats huddle behind the rocks

Clutching our rifles, the guarantors of our lives

Waiting for the chance to break out and charge on.

We came from a distance,

From our homes and fields and loves

Here on this dusty and stony land

To fight and defeat the fascist foe,

Challenger of freedom and all we held dear –

You hold dear –

Thousands of us fell on this place we are not rooted into and will fall.

Soon we will make our homes in the stony, forsaken ground.

You may shed tears for us

Lay flowers on our graves.

But know and remember this, those who are to come:

No good cause is ever too great to spend one’s life without.

When the sky turns dark

As long as the sun has not fully gone out

Never waste your time in cowardly inaction

Rather pick up your rifle and tin hat

And with fear and trembling, charge.

 

It may be night

But this is no time to waste it.

Twice quick we march

On this muddy and stony road

Without shoes, without anything against the cold air.

The rifles we have just mere antique

Against the modern, murderous machinery

Of the bowl-legged ones.

But what else can be done?

Are we to leave our loves to they who lack mercy?

Who, for the sake of the Sun, butcher

Even the most hapless baby?

Oh, we may be a tattered and corroded lot

But we refuse to see more of our blood shed.

For freedom and life no fear we will allow

In the name of courage and independence

This awful menace we will quench.

 

The bugle calls

The drums ring noisily

The ranks file in.

Every soul in this whole line accounted for.

Flames burn like masses of furious smoke

As we stride forth armed.

Why are we, simple folk who tend to farms and forests, here

Parading to our eventual deaths, you query.

We are here to defend our way of life.

Peace and order, the things we cherish

Threatened from the other side by the columns of chaos

By the forces of rebellion and unrest.

Not the fall of the world we permit,

Neither the liberty of man’s passions we consent.

To run forth and seek to halt havoc is

A privilege worth paying for.

 

The forest our fort

The grass our shield.

Revolvers primed as the phalanx walks on the dark road.

We do not hesitate once the chance arrives.

Bandits and brigands they might call us –

You might call us –

But never for all time will we doubt that

Providence is on our side.

Too long has the whip scorched our backs.

Too much our labour sent to the ones above us.

Our women violated, our men chained and beaten

The orphans left to be used by crafty minds and devious hearts.

No longer will our servitude continue

No more will the upper ones gain from our suffering.

With our bolos and revolvers in hand

Nothing but fortitude and hope as our strength

We roar and assail like wounded eagles.

The light of a brighter future

If not for us, for our children

From a distance greets us

As the dawn, our dawn, rises.

 

For order.

For freedom.

Against Nazis.

Against the Japanese.

Through the years and ages

For what we believe as true

Against armies that seem too great for mere humans to defeat

We soldiered on, we fought on.

With sweat but not giving up

With bravery but not without tears.

Hoisting high our tattered red flags

Conscious of our peoples’ fate on our shoulders

With ragged faces and fatigued knees

We only simply fight.


Distress

24 Oct 2012

Distress covers me like a blanket

A blanket I cannot escape from.

It wraps and wraps itself around me

Showering me with her embrace

So suffocating and comforting at the same time.

Where is the peace,

The reality of things to come.

I’ll wait for better things to arrive,

As soon as thy comfort arrives.


The Window of Truth

02 Feb 2012

So I sat

The window faces me

As both the gold warming light of the sun

And the equalizing, levelling cloud of gray

Compete for my attention.

I said nothing.

Well the truth is, there is something I want

To say.

Why do I not say it?

Someone who wants to festoon up still

The picture of the solitary quiet man

Of strength and point-less wandering

Not wanting to appear feminine

Or something he dares not mention

To anyone. Or perhaps even himself

I remain still in the chair

It’s now the shining sun that is on display

It and nothing else.

I made it that way

The window shows sun

Outside really are those clouds.

It may be covered up

But it is still there

Not wanting to remain hidden and unknown

Its time to make known arriving…