Don’t hack it till you’ve seen it: MMFF 2012

Some of its movies are better than its logo

Some of its movies are better than its logo

Movies watched: Shake, Rattle, and Roll: The Invasion, Thy Womb, and Sisterakas.

There are many things wrong with the Philippine movie industry, but it’s not fair to dismiss ANY and ALL Pinoy films as exceptionally awful. I am personally not a big fan of the concept of the Metro Manila Filmfest but I appreciate the attempt. Let’s just hope that the reforms currently explored by small and big film companies alike make way so we won’t need an MMFF to get Pinoys to watch their own.

The lesson learned with MMFF 2012: sometimes, there’s a good reason why ticket sales soar with some titles, but don’t with others. Big studios may smudge the numbers for the press, but audience lines don’t lie. It’s not always artistically founded but it represents a need that moviemakers may want to consider when taking on their next project.

Reviews after the cut.

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12 for 2012

Marbles 2013 from Church Simplified

I’ve been going to Church Simplified for a year and a half now, and rekindled my faith as a Christian. Each end of the year, they send the congregation off with a glass filled with marbles – 52, one for each week of the year. The idea is that as each week passes, a marble is taken out of the glass to signify the week that we never get back.

So how were my marbles in 2012?

2011-2012 was a matter of self-preservation. Last year, especially, was the case of the terrible twos where things I never thought would fall apart, did.

But the miracle of 2012 was how love came in from the most unlikely places: through art that I thought I’d never be a part of, re-igniting friendships, places I never thought I’d visit again, and having someone stick by me through thick or thin.

Here’s my 12 for 2012:

1) A new love who shared the best and worst times with me.

2) A new job with fantastic people and exciting prospects.

3) Travel! Up mountains, down mountains, and even to far-off beaches.

4) Old-new friends in unlikely places.

5) Pitch Perfect.

6) Battalia Royale.

7) The tears and triumphs of a first web-docu.

8) Moving to a new city.

9) BB Cream, which led to a whole new morning grooming routine.

10) Being a guest at my first wedding – of an officemate.

11) New friends.

12) A new way to pray: by calling on God to have me fulfill His plans for me. That is life-changing.

I make no promises for 2013. I just open myself to all its possibilities, all its lessons, misadventures, laughter, and tears.

Happy 2012 everyone. Good vibes and prosperity to everyone.

We need a little Christmas: Mia’s Christmas Playlist

I live in the country with the longest Christmas season, and that gets damn tiring. I’m a humbug (I’d rather that term than ‘Scrooge’, indulge my frivolous wordplay) as soon as mid-October when the most bizarre Christmas mash-ups start blaring on public speakers.

I like the spirit of Christmas: ever since Mom died, and my sister and I have been distant, it’s deeply touching when almost everyone, no matter how short a time you’ve known them, opens their doors to you. I like the tradition of gathering. I want to do the same when time and space finally allows me to. For now, I humbly give offerings of feeling witty cards and sweets. It’s the very least I could do, though I wish that I could do more.

There are also the carols. Some carols, even at my crankiest anti-Christmas moods, gets me singing and smiling. It sometimes sees me through hellish traffic and terribly cramped MRT rides during the season.


1) We Need a Little Christmas – New Directions (Glee)

2) Last Christmas – New Directions (Glee)

3) Santa Can You Hear Me – Britney Spears

4) What Christmas Means To Me – Hanson

5) Snow Miser/Heat Miser from ‘The Year Without Santa Class’

6) Ateneo Chamber Singers Christmas performances

Youtube and tracks after the cut.

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Brainfarts from twenty-something ascending

TwentySomething by Kerrigan and Lowdermilk

  • The so-so wages and could-be-better apartment is something every young working person should go through. This is a sentiment realized by most cultures where the 18 and up pack up and leave, but not so in family-centered Philippines. I feel that the current generation is the first of its kind to try it out on their own, even before getting married and having a family.
  • While a majority of Filipinos leave for better pay and conditions abroad, there are a handful of young Filipinos who have better reasons for leaving – to really try it out on their own. As told by a friend over dinner, “It’s too comfortable to stay in Manila. I just end up staying with my family.”
  • Forgiveness is really an act of the divine. It takes conditioning. It’s not meant to come naturally, it’s not meant to be instant. It’s not always meant to be understood either. You should forgive eventually, or come to terms. But it’s all up to you.
  • You will not use a lot of things taught to you in school. But the necessity of traditional schooling is in how it teaches you to work within establishments. Same goes for standardized testing – it’s not about right or wrong, it’s how you can answer it a certain way, so you can eventually go on your own way. After all, “You need to learn the rules before you can break them.”
  • You are never too old for robots.

More when I feel like it.

Rage, the Filipino, and Battalia Royale

Disclaimer: I am a Sipat Lawin Ensemble Player and oversaw Press Relations of Battalia Royale. The views below are my own, and do not reflect that of Sipat Lawin Ensemble, Battalia Royale, and its affiliates. Feel free to discuss, debate, or even disagree with my commentary. Let the material live through discourse.

When I watch the crowds cheer on the performance at Battalia Royale, pump their fists to the air when they decide to play to endgame, or roar their approval in deciding to kill Timothy during quarter time; I wonder if this is what lies beneath Filipnos being so-called the “happiest people on earth.”

I have friends in psychology who confided in feeling that the phrase has become nothing more than PR. The underprivileged smile because it’s all they have. It’s free. But it’s a shallow grave for the real grief of the day-to-day. The cliches still ring true: rich get richer, poor get poorer. The system is quaking. People are angry at change that isn’t happening fast enough.

Or it could be because I’m in Battalia, that the every day violence is all the more emphasized.

But this was the local news as Battalia Royale unfolded:

It’s not unusual for teachers in public schools to throw chalk or even chalkboard erasers at sleepy or delinquent students. If you’re not so lucky, it might be the desk. Then you hear of students actually getting beat up by teachers, during class.

A Dad turns a gun on his son’s classmate, when the classmate accuses the son of bullying him.

Meanwhile, in Cebu, an 11 year old girl finally kills her Dad after years of seeing him beat up her Mom.

“Why stage this when we’re surrounded by violence every day?!” Exclaims a colleague, upon seeing the show.

One man even made a statement on walking out when the audience voted for the remaining 13 or so students to kill each other at halftime, “Theater is a rehearsal for life.” he declares.

The first comment, after being shared on the BR page, a fan of the show accuses him of being an overly-righteous git.

Picture taken from Battalia Royale on Facebook.
Rough (and very bad translation):
Caption, top: “I walked out of Battalia Royale because I felt that was expected of me from the show…”
In Photo: “I walked out of Battalia Royale 3 because…”

On the flipside, one fan of Battalia Royale said the show helped him process his rage after having survived a kidnapping in Mindanao. Another viewer, a preschool teacher (one of many) said it was “refreshing” after spending days of repressing the aggravation of dealing with kids every day.

A few more who have raised a ruckus during the show, who cheered at every death, would think about the show a day after and feel guilty about the choices they’ve made.

Many, many more have decided to give other theatrical shows a try. They liked the reminder of thinking and feeling, when they’ve taught themselves to carry on and just do their job.

These are the things that aren’t picked up in the media, and only briefly mentioned in one BR article. It’s a sign that at least, for now, the rage is tempered.

I know and hail Battalia Royale as a sacred space for rage. But I wonder, as the headlines ring even more alarms, if it’s indicative of a tipping point for Filipinos. We’ve smiled long enough. We’ve lived with the worst long enough.

Has our countdown to endgame begun? And how much time do we have?

Recommended reading:

Otaku Champloo: Battalia Royale Beyond Battle Royale

Writings belong of David Finnigan: Being in Manila, presenting Symposium Royale

Battalia Royale Interactive