Archive for August, 2011

Hypocrisy?

The final output of my Komunikasyon 2 class in UPD is a 20-page research paper on a topic of your choice. I nominated three topics and, of course, the one that got approved was my last choice–Ang Sining ng Panlilimos (The Art of Begging). The paper is supposed to be about the different means and ways of begging in Muntinlupa City. Since the paper is due in two weeks, I decided to go around to interview some of the beggars around the city. What I thought would be a simple Q&A about how much these street kids earned from knocking on windows and helping customers park their cars turned into a revelation of sorts for me.

I was talking to three boys, Darwin, 12, Reka, 11, and Joy-joy, 3. They told me about their reasons for begging, what it was like on the streets, and how much they earned from a day of begging. I asked them about their encounters with the law, and was quite shocked to learn that, according to them, the same government agency that actively campaigns against child abuse (hint: they sued Willie Revillame for child abuse after the Jan-Jan controversy) was the same one that would beat these children for begging on the streets.

According to the boys, they would be taken into DSWD custody and then given a choice–to be beaten by a metal pipe or whipped by a garden hose. Then, they would be beaten behind the thighs. If they didn’t choose, they would be beaten anyway. Is this how eleven-year old kids are supposed to be treated? The Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 explicitly prohibits corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure or a sentence for crime, yet these underground practices continue to flourish.

It doesn’t end with the DSWD though. Two more boys I talked to, Brixz, 13, and Daniel, 12, said that they would be chased by officials of Brgy. Ayala Alabang on motorcycles, who would run their feet over. Is this how our government officials compensate for their failure to provide the adequate social services for these people? Are we going to resort to violence to care for our children, the future of our nation? I mean, we don’t even do this to rapists, murderers, and terrorists! If they end up beating their children in the future, we know who to blame.

Would little children lie about this? Talk about hypocrisy!

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Review: “Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank”

I really had no idea what “Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank” was about. All I knew was that it dominated Cinemalaya, and had many good reviews. Thus, I had high expectations when I entered the theater. It started off as the “poverty porn” we love to hate. It showed the typical squatters area, and a typical scene of the single mother with seven children. I felt let down. The best indie film was just another story on poverty? Thank god I was proven wrong.

The movie is actually about three filmmakers who want to make an indie film so risque, so unique, and so fresh, that it will dominate the Oscars. The moment the scene shifted to the three of them, producer, director, and PA, sitting in a car talking about the film they were going to make, I instantly felt a connection with the film. That was going to be me, in about five years’ time–a low-budget independent filmmaker with big dreams, holding meetings in coffee shops, and ready to take on Philippine cinema by storm. I could understand the language they were speaking, technical jargon included, and it felt amazing. It felt as though somebody had shown me a crystal ball into the future.

But of course, “Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank” wasn’t just that. It was also a parody of independent cinema, and all the overused “techniques” including, but not limited to, shaky camera footage, inconsistent lighting, and muffled audio. It was relieving to see that I wasn’t alone in my disgust for the sorry camerawork filmmakers use because they’re “on a low budget”. (Ironically though, the actual film does have shaky camera work, but I’d say it was forgivable.)

Even deeper though, the film was a testament to the wide gap between rich and poor. One scene shows the filmmakers standing on a hill of garbage, looking down at all the makeshift houses as one of them shouts “Ang ganda! This is perfect!” It’s as though poverty has become a mere tourist attraction to those of us with capacity.

One can’t talk about “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank” without mentioning Eugene Domingo. She was absolutely surreal. She plays two roles in the film–herself and Mila, the lead in “Walang-Wala”, the film that the trio are working on. Both facets of her acting career–dramatic and comedic–are shown in high definition throughout the film. She’s entertainment on her own!

Perhaps the only negative point for this film was that it was too short–bitin, in Filipino. I wanted it to go on and on, to see the whole progression of the film from start to finish. But that would probably take too long. The film covers just two days in the lives of the three filmmakers, so you can really see the intricacies of the plot being molded into place.

This film is definitely a must-watch. There are many more surprises that I didn’t spoil in this review cum personal reflection about my life and my future, and they’re definitely worth the price of the movie ticket.

Biased against the Catholics?

I think that if there’s one thing that all those who oppose the closure of the ‘Kulo’ exhibit in the CCP prove, it is that they aren’t so much pro-art and pro-expression as they are anti-Catholic. It seems as though anything the CBCP does right now gets the ire of those who call themselves “liberal” or “pro-choice”. It’s probably because of their staunch opposition to the RH Bill. But my question is this: if Mideo Cruz had painted penises on other icons, would those same liberals be clamoring for “freedom of expression” too?

Let’s remove Catholicism from the picture for a moment. If Cruz’s artwork depicted Muhammad with a penis for a nose, would those same liberals argue that taking it down impedes upon the artist’s freedom of expression? I think Mideo Cruz is a coward for picking on what is arguably the “tamest” religion, since Christianity preaches that we turn the other cheek and love our enemies. If he really wanted to make a statement on polytheism, why not include Islam? Or is he scared of the violent tendencies by which Muslims vehemently protect their faith? But let’s veer away from religion. What if an LGBT icon was endowed with condoms and penises? What if it was painted on a blue eagle or a green archer? On Manny Pacquiao? On Jose Rizal? I’m willing to bet that we’d see people moving to the other side of the fence.

It seems as though we have to wait until we are personally offended before we come to realize that we can’t and shouldn’t live in a world where people throw shit at each other “in the name of art”. Because of people’s biases against the Catholics, they pounce on the closure of the exhibit, calling it “tyranny” and “religious bias”. Art is a powerful medium because it makes use of images, and images, as the cliche goes, are worth a thousand words. Art’s line should be drawn when it offends the sensibilities of sensitive sectors of society, regardless of whether they make up the majority or the minority (although extreme minorities are a different story). Governments can and should remain secular, but it should also be ethical and moral to an extent. Not that they tell us what’s right and what’s wrong, but that they establish certain boundaries as to where some rights begin and others end.

Artists are free to express whatever they want. If they want to hang photos of religious figures surrounded by prostitutes in their homes, then by all means, they can. Public locations, however, are a different story. Furthermore, government institutions such as the CCP should not endorse  religious indifference and intolerance, or any form of indifference and intolerance for that matter. Just as governments should not forward the beliefs and the ideals of any specific religion, so too should they refrain from attacking or offending religions.

We should all learn to grow up and stop waiting before we get offended before we take action. Society would be a better place if we all learned to stop the fight before anyone gets hurt. There’s never a good enough reason to paint a penis on an icon.

Never gets old.

The Internet is home to many dangers and threats–online scams, credit card phishing, viruses, and, the most emotionally distressing, flash screamers. Ah, flash screamers. The Internet has changed a great deal, but that’s probably the one thing that’s never changed. Of course, strictly speaking that’s not true. The pictures of half-dead girls have changed, the high-pitched screams have changed, and the traps to lure people into being terrified out of their wits are still there. But the deluded, sadistic pleasure of laughing your ass off when you get to prank a friend hasn’t changed a bit.

This wasn’t the first time I tried pulling the Flash Screamer, but this was definitely the most memorable one. I actually fell for the prank first, but since my volume wasn’t on too high, I was just mildly startled and I closed it… and decided to pay it forward. In a time of inclement weather, there is no better trap to get anyone to click a link than something related to the suspension of classes, and so I tweeted “I LOVE YOU CHED http://t.co/5vMgSFa” I was chatting with a friend while doing this, and he did the same thing as well, and we both ended up laughing our asses off as the hate messages (and, in his case, calls) came pouring in.

The usual cusses came in first, followed by a couple of more colorful hate tweets:

WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT. I can’t open my laptop. Too scared. AND I HAVE TO TYPE SOMETHING

You guys almost made me throw my laptop to the wall.

F U GUYS I RAN AWAY FROM MY LAPTOP AND SCREAMED LIKE SHIT

ARGH!!!!! Ako lang mag-isang gising dito. naka-headphones pa ako

ANAK KA NG HYBRID NG TIPAKLONG AT TILAPIA  NAKA-MAX HEADPHONES KO… BUWISIT KA BUWISIT KAAAA!

POTAAAAAAAAAAA buti na lang di ko nilipat agad sound lang narinig ko. pero headphones

WTF?! O____O My ear drums…. My heart… T____T

grabe kuya.  tumayo yung balahibo ko.

A couple of people also took the time out to chat with me on YM and on Facebook to express their scorn. One had her headphones on max volume and another claims that “I almost literally pissed my boxers”. My friend received phone calls from two angry friends who shouted expletives at him.

Perhaps what I didn’t expect was that I got tweets from people I didn’t know. (My theory is that they searched for CHED on Twitter and saw my tweet.)  Feeling close much?

What I did expect though was people, being their mischievous selves, paying it forward as well. Which they did. Combined, I think my friend and I got about twenty retweets altogether. Since some of my followers retweeted manually (RT @lancekatigbak…), when their followers replied, I was mentioned as well and got my share of laughs from their misfortunes. When someone gets a good laugh out of you, it’s only fair that you get a good laugh out of others too!

Edit: THIS JUST IN. My friend’s tweet was retweeted by, of all people, a Jesuit Priest. Even priests can have their mischievous side.

That was probably why I got three new followers today.

Follow me? I promise not to post any more flash screamers… for now. www.twitter.com/lancekatigbak

Logically speaking…

My deadly impulses have struck once again, and this time, I find myself with this delirious desire to begin blogging again. I finished a report on an interview with writer Butch Dalisay and I was pretty pleased with the output. I felt like a writer on commission for the Sunday Inquirer Magazine or something. For the longest time, I’d been writing for others, writing stories for children’s magazines and product articles for shoes and shirts. I guess the writer within me was just begging to be released, which is why I’m here once again.

I’m reaching the end of what would supposedly be the first quarter of my college life, and I’m enjoying it a great deal. With the exception of one subject which bores me to death and another subject which is driving me crazy because it’s in Filipino, I’ve pretty much been looking forward to making the 40-minute-if-I’m-lucky-but-1-hour-and-a-half-if-I’m-not trip from Alabang to Katipunan everyday. One of the subjects I’ve been enjoying in particular is Philo 11. That’s CRS code for Logic.

Pretty much everyone whom I asked about this class (after I had already enlisted in it of course) told me that I was crazy for choosing it. General Education (GE) subjects are supposed to pull your grades up, not drag them down, which is why I should always go for easy unos, they said. I understand their logic, which, when converted to a Logical Syllogism, would read:

GE subjects should be used to pull up your grades from difficult majors.

Pulling up your grades will require subjects where it is easy to get an uno.

Therefore, if you want to pull up your grades, you should get GE subjects where it is easy to get an uno.

Deductively speaking, the conclusion is validly derived from the premises. However, as I learned in class, the validity of the statement doesn’t equate to its cogency, that is, its truth value. Just because it makes sense doesn’t always mean it’s true. I figure that I’m in UP to learn, not to get high grades (although those are nice too). It’s not that I’m willing to get low grades, but rather that I’d rather take up subjects where the subject matter is something that I find interesting and work a bit harder than taking up the infamously easy subjects where getting an uno takes barely any effort.

Logic class has been just that. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve found it so fun that it’s almost therapeutic. Filling out truth tables has become mindless work, and converting statements to symbols has become somewhat of a challenge that I willingly take on. Since my course has no required math subjects, I’ve felt as though my brain has dulled a bit. Logic has filled in the void since a lot of the operations required are similar to the algebraic equations I actually enjoyed simplifying in high school. (nerd much?)

I don’t know how long my “noble” quest for knowledge will last, but hopefully longer than one semester. There are a number of classes offered which I find interesting that are also supposedly easy. Logically speaking, when both premises are true, there’s no way the conclusion can be false.