“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.

 


The spring continues…

11 Jun 2013

Courtesy of The Telegraph

There is no need to include links here to describe the mainstream agreement on the so-called “Arab Spring”. Almost ever commentator agrees that it has become a failure. Rather than bringing the promised brighter future of “freedom, justice and dignity,” it has only led to increased, unnecessary chaos that was never present under the previous authoritarian rulers, the rise of Islamist parties and social, ethnic and religious divisions in the affected countries. There are the descriptions of those heady events as an insidious plot by Western powers and the Gulf states (mostly Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which is the base for Al-Jazeera which broadcasted the events to the wider world and is seen by many as a tool by the country to exercise its foreign policy around the region, even “causing” the Arab Spring) to overthrow its enemies on that region (I’m not sure if you can apply that argument as a cause for the overthrows of the relatively pro-Western, conservative rulers of Tunisia and Egypt), or that those countries weren’t prepared for revolution and democracy. It’s as if all of those events, those sacrifices were for nothing, that it was better under the previous rulers where there was at least a presence of order, security and stability (the same argument used by the overthrown or yet-to-be overthrown rulers), never mind the political fossilisation, corruption and state oppression.

Such arguments and descriptions about those events are wrong.

Those arguments are mistaken on two aspects, and it is also in these two aspects that it can be proven that the Arab Uprisings have not been a failure, but are continuing.

First, it has been taken for granted by commentators that these uprisings ended, or end, with the overthrow of the regime.Such a claim is mistaken on the belief that the simple overthrow of the dictator and his cohorts is enough to call it a revolution and automatically bring change. That would be equal to describing the French Revolution as the simple overthrow and beheading of Louis XVI, or the overthrow of the Tsar and the Provisional Government as the Russian Revolution. True, many if not most of the protesters thought the overthrow of their masters was sufficient to bring change, but anyone taking the long-term view of things knows that revolutions don’t end with the simple overthrow of the previous regime. As the French and Russian Revolutions themselves tell us, they also include the long-term, excruciating and unstable implementation of those ideals that propelled and fueled the revolution. The riots, armed confrontations, and political conflicts that are happening in the aftermath of those downfalls, or in the middle of civil wars, are in fact the continuation and extension of the revolutions.

The uprisings didn’t end with the overthrow or continuing efforts to overthrow the Ben Alis and Mubaraks of the Middle East and North Africa, but continue with the efforts of civil groups, political parties, ethnic and religious minorities – virtually everybody involved in these events – to effect change not just in the governments of their countries but also in the economic, social and cultural spheres. This isn’t just about electing presidents and representatives, but also about addressing economic disparities and sociocultural marginalisation. The manifestation of previously unnoticed divisions in these countries is indeed a stressful and dangerous but also necessary manifestation, akin to describing the causes of the disease before giving the cure.

It’s also true that each group with a stake in these events is trying to direct the events in their favour. While such actions can be selfish and stray from the original ideals of the uprisings, every group involved – including those we wish weren’t involved – is important and therefore their views must be taken into account in the goal of a better society as the product of the uprisings.

Second, about the so-called Islamist rise.If not outright sabotage of the revolution, the rise of Islamist politics in the aftermath of the overthrows is often described as due to the strong grassroots connections and lower-class affiliations of these groups. This would mean that the original revolutionaries who launched the uprisings in the name of “freedom, dignity, justice” were young, middle-class people disconnected from the poor majority who are the key factor in the political fate of these uprisings. The minority civil revolutionaries will be marginalised while the majority Islamist elements will benefit. In short, the revolutionaries unwittingly orchestrated the Islamist rise to power. They should have built a solid grassroots foundation for their ideals before launching their uprising.

These arguments only help in marginalising the original principles of the revolutions, as if they don’t matter. As for the civil revolutionary disconnect with the masses, what about the evidence of the youth majority in these countries? And even if many of these youth are Brotherhood members, it could only mean that reformist ideals are possible in the MB, with the dominant conservative elements preventing such reformism.

What is important here is the maintenance and pursuit of the ideals that launched the revolutions. While the Islamists benefit from their grassroots connections, the role of the civil revolutionaries in launching the uprising must not, and would never, be forgotten. They also benefit from their youth, newness and dynamism. Such abilities can be assets in the ongoing campaign of pursuit of freedom and dignity.

The struggle to attain a better tomorrow for the countries affected by the Arab Uprisings continues. The recent protests in Turkey only emphasize that this is also a much wider struggle. To dampen the necessity of this struggle under the banners of realism and cause-effect only helps in increasing cynicism and blunting any desire for change in situations where they are needed. Rather than despair, continued support for the Arab Uprisings, in the pursuit of their original ideals, must be continued.


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.


A new – and interesting – link to this blog

17 Apr 2012

Most of us know the historical event that is the 1917 Russian Revolution. Due to losses to the Central Powers in the Great War and economic & social turmoil at home, the Tsar Nicholas II abdicated his throne and replaced by a Provisional Government later to be led by Alexander Kerensky. The government’s decision to continue the war coupled by continued domestic conflict and ineffective policymaking led to its eclipse and replacement by the Bolshevik party under Lenin. Then followed five years of brutal civil war where millions of lives perished and lands wasted. Under the command of Baron Peter Wrangel, the remaining White armies fled from the Crimea before the victorious Red Army for exile. In Yugoslavia, he established the Russian All-Military Union (ROVS by its Russian initials), dedicated to maintain White ideals and pursue continued struggle against the USSR. Though its political and military importance had declined since, its status as the sole remaining organisation of the White movement and its chief standard bearer is important still, all the more so since the events of December last year.

I have included as a link here “IZ PUT”, which can be found on the right side of this blog. It is the blog of Igor Ivanov, current president of the ROVS. It contains articles by him about the history of the White movement, decommunization, the current political situation in Russia, among other related topics. I do hope, as Mr Ivanov surely hopes, that this might enlighten those in the West about the recent history of Russia, its tragedies, and its present condition.


About the upcoming protest of February 4

03 Feb 2012

Today is Saturday the fourth of February in the uber-cold wilderness, both urban and rural, of Russia. Today the anti-Putin, anti-Systemic opposition movement, of various hues and orientations, is going to mount a rerun of 10 and 24 December. Today they are going to again show, to the ruling regime and its agents inside and the world outside, that they still have the numbers and “juice” to maintain their unity and make all the more known their demands, which include the ouster of the head of the Central Election Commission and launching new parliamentary and presidential elections. Some political forces will hold protests separate from the main one, while pro-Putin forces are also going to organise their rally in parallel to the anti-Putin rally.

My thoughts on this. One thing that surprises me is the response from one of the main opposition figures in the country, the leader of an organisation that has launched numerous anti-government actions since Yeltsin’s era in contrast to the response from similar radical groups. It may be due to Mr Limonov’s quite extensive experience in anti-government ranks or that it’s just part of his nature, moulded since his young days in Kharkiv and influenced all the more by his involvement in punk during his NY exile. Or maybe there is truth to what he said, that any protest arranged with the government is destined to be a failure – and worthless. Yet not to join simply because it’s something negotiated with the “state”-labeled enemy would only prevent oneself from making one’s advocacy heard, from the opportunity to take advantage of the situation to forward one’s goal. The necessity to make the need for change, massive change in Russia all the more obvious is all the more imperative.

The protests may have started by the time this is posted. What can only be said here is that the need to make the desire for renewal and change in Russia known – after such a long time of apathy and non-participation – is very good news, and such a short time, a short opportunity that may never come again and can be squelched by the Putin regime any period must be taken advantage of in the most ultimate manner possible.