Hun 17, 2002

First Day Blues

How was the first day of school?

I had my own episode of first day blues. My professor and I have radically opposing world-views. He has a nice sense of humor though and I guess that will help me survive the course. I hope all seven of us get through the class.

I repaired to the Vanguard gym to relieve the stress that I was anticipating. I learned that I would have only one hour to myself there, in between the sessions of the Karate Club and Aikido Club. And that hour was high noon.

Good luck to all the students! Despite everything, we'll have to make the most of the year. Good luck to Teacher Nikki on her first day to teach in her new school. Tough luck kiddos, she's not nervous anymore but very much excited!

As I expected, three hours of class will dump me with a whole week's worth of work. The Asian experience is thoroughly exciting but I have a lot of catching up to do in terms of economics and political science. More of the net time would have to be devoted to study. Well, that was my excuse for installing the modem anyway. I told them that half a year ago and I only get to prove it now.

There's this one thing I dug up. Did you know that out of the Philippines' 7,100 islands, only around 1,000 are inhabited?

High tide or low tide?

Hun 12, 2002

Araw ng Kalayaan

Isang makahulugang Araw ng Kalayaan sa lahat ng Pinoy! Maraming debate tungkol sa karapat-dapat na petsa para dakilain ang kasarinlan ng bansa. At sa ilalim nuon nananlaytay ang mga paninindigan tungkol sa kasarinlan at kalayaan mismo. Saan nga ba nagmula ito? Regalo lang ba ito ng mga Kano pagkatapos ng pagpapaubaya ng mga Kastila?

Nararamdaman ba ito sa lahat ng antas ng lipunan? Totoo ba ito para sa lahat ng kasarian, lahi, at relihiyon? Para sa lahat ng edad at propesyon? Para sa lahat ng nagtatanong at nanapantaha? Mayroon ba sa ating hindi alipin?

Gaano ito kakongkreto? Pwede ba itong bawiin ng mga nagbigay, kung ibinigay man? Pwede ba itong nakawin ng ibang tao, bansa, ng mga diktador, mga nanunungkulang magnanakaw, mga pwersa ng merkado, mga ispekulador, o mga abusadong amo sa ibang bansa?

Maaari ba natin itong ibigay o itakwil? Kapalit halimbawa ng pasaporte, ng kaisipang hollywood, ng pagtakas sa buhay sa kolonyang penal, o kapalit ng isa pang almusal? Kapalit ng edukasyon ng mga bata kaya? Para sila na lang ang lumaya?

Okey lang sa akin ang kalayaan. Iba talaga ang maging sarili at magkaroon ng kasarinlan na titingalain, isang pagiging sarili na hindi babastusin ninuman, maging ng mga nagmamay-ari nito. Maganda ito, matayog, at karapat-dapat na ipagbunyi.

Sana nga lang mayroon tayo nito.

"I will try to tell you a short story. Once when I was a little boy in that village where I was born, I dreamed that we could remake this world into a paradise. In such a world, there would be no darkness, no ignorance, no brutality to man by another man. In such a world there would be no inhumanity, no indignity, no poverty. In such a world there would be no deception, no ugliness, no terror. In such a world there would be mutual assistance, mutual cooperation, mutual love (and mutual existence between Christians and Muslims). This is the dream which has sustained me down the terrible years, and it is with me still; only it is more lucid now, more terrifying in its vastness. I would like to give you a glimpse of this dream some day."

Carlos Bulosan

Hun 3, 2002

Outside the Bedroom

Seen anything good lately?

Well I have. The day after the dinner with team angas and the drinking session with Jol, I met Monica at the MRT station to see her off to Cavite.

She wanted to treat me to a movie first though. After I blushed a couple of times, we decided on "Death to Smoochy". It's off the playlist, so I chose "In the Bedroom" instead.

The film was a very meticulous adaptation of Andre Dubus' "Killings". The details count. Metaphor, poetry, and music play integral parts in the whole effort. But these elements are always used in context and never seem contrived. It is very interesting, for example, how Todd Field and his crew managed to get away with using lines from Longfellow's "My Lost Youth":

There are things of which I may not speak;
There are dreams that cannot die;
There are thoughts that make the strong heart weak,
And bring a pallor into the cheek,
And a mist before the eye.
And the words of that fatal song
Come over me like a chill:
"A boy's will is the wind's will
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

In high drama such as this, one would expect something like this to come into play in a eulogy, maybe during a rainy black umbrella burial. But we hear it in a poker game. And the effect is intensely somber. And you'll never guess where the title comes from. I won't spoil it for you but it's not in the bedroom. Or at least, not entirely.

I forgot how much I missed Monica and I would share insights and interpretations of the movies we watched during the college days. That is, until we fell into such a conversation over Hen Lin's siomai. She remarked on the impressive use of fade-to-black and the thrifty use of background music. I noted how that is entirely in keeping with Ruth's statement of how grief feels like the "rests" in music where the silences are so loud.

The musicality of the entire piece is explained there. Ruth (Sissy Spacek) is a choir teacher and so her metaphors are appropriate. The pieces rehearsed by her choir form the musical cemterpiece of the film. Her character was supposed to be, at times, the tense homemaker, the prying mother, the vacuous mourner, the scalding wife, and the silently determined justice-seeker. She plays it all so naturally. So seamlessly that she, in effect, becomes the eye to her husband's storm.

Marisa Tomei looked perfectly harassed. Still, her effortless grace especially as Natalie, single mother and youthful lover, lends credibility to the affections she draws from Frank (Nick Stahl). Tom Wilkinson does a great job being benign and sensitive as Matt Fowler. It is particularly important for the ending. He must make up for the focus that the character originally had in the book ("Killings" was written entirely in the point-of-view of Doc Fowler).

I hope I get to see this film again. I want to see the imagery of Field's frames again and how it works with the rest of the film. I understand how it can seem dreary and boring to some people but I feel the pace was justified. It's probably a no-no to see this movie after a long day. It's a good suggestion for any film to avoid jumping in somewhere in the middle, but with "In the Bedroom", it's a necessity.

Seen anything good lately?