Just a few minutes after I published this blog’s fifth anniversary special last July 18 (my 35th birthday, and it’s not yet too late to send me gifts), ABS-CBN Shop Talk posted my TV interview with them. I wasn’t able to blog about it immediately because me and my family were in the midst of screaming kids playing DotA and Counter-Strike in some Internet café that serves no coffee, and we were about to go home at that time. And, as usual, life got in the way again thereafter. That’s why I get to post this just now. Anyway, I’m glad that Shop Talk edited out those parts wherein I sounded like a total dork. So, if you still wish to know the answers to all of life’s unnerving questions, then watch my interview by clicking here.
Monthly Archives: July 2014
Last night aired my first TV guesting in ABS-CBN News Channel’s Shop Talk (hosted by Ría Tanjuatco-Trillo). The episode was about building a powerful brand for one’s products, business, or ideas even (as in my case, maybe). I felt I was miscast because I was the only non-entrepreneur who was there, and one of them is even a renowned marketing guru. Besides, the program itself is all about entrepreneurship, financial talk, and the like.
The last time I remember talking about money in front of a mirror, the mirror shattered into pieces, and my wallet animated itself and mockingly hurled a shard of glass right to my face.
Anyway, I was invited on account of my being a historian (don’t forget the “oh joy” part) and my death-defyingly spiritual blog FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES (now on its fifth year!). The day before the interview was taped on June 13, I was already informed of the topic. I thought the interview was going to be a breeze upon learning that five of us were to be interviewed and not just me, so I did not prepare that much. In fact, I even enjoyed my night shift on the eve of the interview instead of taking a leave. So when my big day arrived, I felt like a clueless zombie, knees jerking helplessly while trying to endure the bitter cold of ABS-CBN Studio 6.
Me and my wife weren’t able to watch the airing last night, no thanks to Typhoon Glenda and Meralco’s unholy alliance. But to be honest, I’m really not that excited to see myself on Cable TV. There’s no sourgraping here because I feel that I’ve made a complete fool out of myself talking about Lapu-Lapu and Padre Dámaso, haha. And I can still remember how Ría asked me on what advice I could give to aspiring historians; I think I responded with “one should be focused” or something. A big LOL to that. Because I should have said “one has to be as awesome as Pepe Alas”, or something to that effect (as I’ve said before, I do not have that spontaneity in me). Yeah. Excuses, excuses.
But as what many people have already experienced before me, there was that irritating feeling of regret of not having accomplished or said what should have really been accomplished or said after being given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. That episode was all about “branding”, but I feel that I wasn’t able to contribute much to that topic on how I really branded myself as an online historian.
The fact of the matter is, and after giving much thought about the episode’s topic regarding branding, I am not a historian per se (I’m sure many bigshot historians who saw last night’s episode would have ignobly snorted at me). Well, yeah, I do write about Philippine History most of the time, but I write about it not purely out of being a history buff but with the sole purpose, intention, or advocacy of bringing back to the fore our authentic national identity — La Identidad Filipina.
That, I think, is my “brand” as an online historian. Something I failed to tell Ría and her audience. Something that I regret now. But I have to thank her and her staff for inadvertently helping me figure out my brand.
I’ll be posting a video of that interview once it is already available. Until then, I’ll continue my pursuit of happiness at 35. ¡Hasta la vista!
Now that the worldwide screening of Captain America: The Winter Soldier is finally over, I deem it’s time to write about it, as I do not wish this blogpost to be tagged as a movie review of the said blockbuster film.
As a nationalist, I have long been aware of the economic harms of patronizing foreign products, particularly those from the United States of Uh-Me-Rica. But I have to apologize this early because if there’s any stateside produce that I cannot resist, it’s gotta be those from Marvel Comics, especially its current incarnation on the silver screen: Marvel Studios. I grew up with it. And that’s probably a safe excuse. 😀
Hollywood movies coming out from Marvel Studios (but only those from its senses-boggling Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise) are the only films that me and my family watch in theaters. I have to admit that I’m a Marvel Comics fanboy. I’ve been hooked to it since my elementary years. Well-known hobbyist and cosplay celebrity Glenmarc “Flash” Antonio, a childhood classmate of mine for many years, was the one who introduced me to the world of Stan Lee’s “Make Mine Marvel” universe of interestingly disturbed, troubled, and oftentimes melodramatic “superheroes and supervillains in the real world”, characters that are deliciously three-dimensional (or even four-dimensional, if you’d classify philosophic Adam Warlock and those creepy worshippers at the Universal Church of Truth that way). It was Flash who first explained to me that the ever famous Spider-Man who most kids back then knew existed only on cartoon shows was actually a Marvel Comics character, and arguably the face of the company. Flash also introduced me to the actual comics, who Stan Lee was, the concept and definition of mutants, etc. At school, all the boys were collecting Marvel Comics trading cards. It was through those cards where I got acquainted with both major and minor characters of the Marvel Comics Universe. But I took fancy on one character only: Frank Castle, better known as The Punisher. I got curious with the guy coz he’s basically an ordinary fellow with no superpowers shooting down the bad guys, and he gets the job done the old-fashioned way: blood, sweat, and teeth (literally). A little later, I bought my very first Marvel comic book: a copy of The Punisher: War Zone. Since then, my love affair with Marvel Comics, most especially with Frank Castle’s vigilante capers, never subsided, even now that I have many children.
Fast forward to today: Marvel Comics seems to be already done publishing monthly issues of its famous characters. And I’m no longer a comic book collector (but still a fan at heart). Marvel Comics has already morphed into a huge money-making machine using the silver screen as a medium, and film-making appears to be their main focus. Their concept of establishing a shared universe called the Marvel Cinematic Universe was virtually unheard of in Hollywood, and has been a huge hit not only to comic book fans but to the general movie-going public as well. I myself have been hooked to it to the point of checking out the Internet every so often just to get hold of the latest updates (Kevin Feige, if you’re reading this: please bring back Frank Castle and have him mingle with The Avengers or S.H.I.E.L.D.!).
Among all the films in the said franchise, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, stands out from the rest. The unique story telling, its game-changing plot, superb acting (the character development is a surprise additive), and the paucity of CGI usage in its breathtaking action scenes are all in sync with each other, and the awesome electronically inspired soundtrack, with its rhythm and tune almost in perfect synchrony to each reel, kinda wraps them all up altogether into one precious movie material, very fitting indeed to reap Academy Award nominations (my eyes might just pop out in pure disappointment if it does not receive even the most minor nomination). So yeah, I am not ashamed to declare that Captain America: The Winter Soldier has become one of my favorite films (The Punisher: War Zone — please move over). I’m even thinking of joining Flash in a cosplay event dressed up as The Winter Soldier who is now my second favorite Marvel character. But I have to beef up, of course. 😀
Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes place two years after the events of The Avengers. In the movie, we see Captain America/Steve Rogers (played by Chris Evans) trying to adjust himself to a contemporary world after being frozen for almost 70 years. We Marvel fans know that Cap’s from another time. He’s a World War II veteran who bloomed from springtide during The Naughty Forties, when good ‘ol Americans were dancing to Swing music. People back then were frolicking about in butterfly and banjo sleeves, man-made fibres, and tuxedoes. The ladies styled their hair in elaborate rolls and curls. And Ernest Hemingway published his most famous novel, “For Whom The Bell Tolls”. It was an era when Betty Boop and Kilroy entertained people, when movie fans were thrilled and moved by flicks such as “Rebecca” and “How Green Was My Valley“, and kids were already contented with the Slinky. Although world peace was hinged on the backs of freedom fighters, it was still a livable world filled with manners and genteel men and refined ladies. Captain America compared his era to modern times in few but succinct words: “Well, things aren’t so bad. Food’s a lot better, we used to boil everything. No polio is good. Internet, so helpful. I’ve been reading that a lot trying to catch up.” From his words, we catch a glimpse of how modest life was during his day, but without any tone of regret.
Later on, the movie brilliantly alludes to a “new” America, an America that is modern but not so beautiful from within. An America that has gone corrupt. This was better explained in a scene where we see Cap with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson) inside one of the espionage agency’s high-tech elevators:
NICK FURY: My grandfather operated one of these things for forty years. My granddad worked in a nice building, he got good tips. He’d walk home every night, roll o’ ones stuffed in his lunch bag. He’d say “Hi”, people would say hi back. Time went on, neighborhood got rougher. He’d say “Hi”, they’d say, “Keep on steppin'”. Granddad got to grippin’ that lunch bag a little tighter.
STEVE ROGERS: Did he ever get mugged?
NICK FURY: Every week some punk would say, “What’s in the bag?”
STEVE ROGERS: Well, what did he do?
NICK FURY: He’d show ’em. A bunch of crumpled ones, and a loaded 0.22 Magnum. Granddad loved people. But he didn’t trust them very much.
I imagined myself a US guy, then I watched this scene again — it hurt me a lot.
We Filipinos, having been brought up in an Americanized system of education, have this universal idea that Americans are a freedom-loving people, champions of democracy and civil rights, of equality and manifest destiny, of rightness and righteousness. Benevolence even. Without a doubt, these are just some of the values that the Founding Fathers of the United States of America would have wanted their people and their descendants ingrained in their hears and minds. Do they still display these values? Does the rest of the world still see these noble values in good ‘ol Uncle Sam? Even Captain America himself doesn’t think so anymore. In The Avengers, we heard him complain to Fury: “I wake up, they say we won. They didn’t say what we lost”. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, he visited his now nonagenarian love interest from the 1940s, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), and we now hear the tone of unhapiness that was absent from him at the start of the film:
STEVE ROGERS: For as long as I can remember I just wanted to do what was right. I guess I’m not quite sure what that is anymore. And I thought I could throw myself back in and follow orders, serve… it’s just not the same.
PEGGY CARTER: You’re always so dramatic. Look, you saved the world. We rather…mucked it up.
STEVE ROGERS: You didn’t. Knowing that you helped found S.H.I.E.L.D. is half the reason I stay.
Peggy ended the conversation on a much gloomier note: “The world has changed, and none of us can go back. All we can do is our best, and sometimes the best that we can do is to start over.”
Captain America is the embodiment of everything that is not American today: a man who proudly displays the seemingly long-lost American principles of freedom, truth, equality, and justice. From a frozen past, he brought them all back to the fore. Surprisingly, these principles have no room for his current “employer” which is S.H.I.E.L.D. And this reality was made more evident when Cap found out that the agency’s “Project Insight” was meant to “punish” algorithmically selected people before a crime even happens. So now we see traces of that unpopular US anti-terrorism here (and that, in a way, S.H.I.E.L.D. alludes to contemporary US government). Of course, by now fans are already aware that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been infiltrated and corrupted by Hydra. But near the end of the film, Captain America decided to do away with both groups instead of salvaging whatever good that might still be left.
Does this imply that there is some sort of a “Hydra” within the confines of Washington? Because I’m sure that if Captain America were not fiction, he would have surely opposed his own government’s policies (atrocities?) against Vietnam, North Korea, Venezuela, Iraq, Afghanistan, and even China.
Heck, he would have even cursed like mad if he learned what his country did (and is still doing) to ours.
A few minutes before nine in the morning, our nextdoor neighbor told me that two improvised bombs were found near the entrance to our apartment. The first one was already lit up when the “barangay tanod” arrived. Good thing it was drizzling, so the bottles got drenched. The bombs were then taken by our barangay tanods to their office.
Upon hearing this, the death threats that my family received from Eugenio Ynión, Jr. and his brother Rommel came to mind in an instant. Could it have been their men who had those bombs planted? I’m not the type who immediately draws up a careless conclusion, so I had to make sure. I immediately went to our barrio hall to investigate.
It turned out that those improvised bombs were molotov cocktails. They were actually found in front of our neighbor’s front gate, right beside our apartment entrance where I usually drop off from a trike ride.
Popularly known in our country as molotov bombs, these are homemade incendiary weapons consisting of a glass bottle filled with flammable liquid, usually gasoline or alcohol (either methanol or ethanol). The mouth of the bottle is tightly sealed with a cork or other type of airtight bung (rubber, glass, or plastic). A cloth rag is then fixed securely around the mouth. The bottle is used by first soaking the rag in a flammable liquid immediately prior to using it. Upon lighting the rag, the bottle can then be hurled towards the target. The bottle then shatters on impact, throwing away shards of glass and spilling the flammable liquid over the target which is then ignited by the burning rag. The result: street pandemonium.
The molotov cocktail was named after Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov (1890-1986), not really to honor him but to spite his name. Today, the molotov is a “favorite” weapon during violent mass protests and gang wars.
But our neighborhood is not known for gang wars. No mass protests ever occur here. Our community is an untidy neighborhood, unkempt, and noisy because of hulking vehicles sharing a very small barrio road. Truly, a terrible place for a writer. Nevertheless, our place is a peaceful community where everybody knows everyone. Nobody here has a serious dispute with anyone within or without our community. And to top it all, this molotov incident is a first, at least in our barrio.
After filing a report to our barangay hall, I was escorted by the police and some tanod folks who recovered the deadly bottles to our local police station to personally present them to Superintendent Fernando Ortega who was already waiting for us. On our way to the station, we passed by our place again to investigate further. Reaching our place, I then asked some neighbors who were there if they had any dispute with other people. They confirmed to me that virtually nobody in our vicinity had a dispute with anyone. Nobody… except me. 🙂
I really couldn’t think of anyone else who is capable of doing me and my family harm. The Ynión Brothers, especially “Kapitan” Eugenio, are the only enemies I know. And if my suspicions are correct that it was really them, did they intentionally leave those bottles just to intimidate us? Or they hired pure buffoons who failed to get the job done?
So to the morons who want me killed, a piece of advice: the next time you use a molotov cocktail, hurl it towards me and don’t just leave it exposed to the elements. It’s not a weapon to intimidate — it’s a weapon. Idiotas.
Several mornings ago, I stumbled upon the long-running TV/radio program Failón Ñgayón and heard its indefatigable host, Ted Failón, ranting about the problematic crime situation in Quezon City. He was criticizing the Philippine National Police’s initiative in encouraging the citizenry to participate in crime reporting. Failón thought it was ridiculous. Instead of spurring civilians to do some crime reporting, the PNP instead should do a massive crime prevention.
“Crime prevention, not crime reporting!”, cried Failón.
His statement made sense. You see, many decades ago, petty crimes, particularly in Manila, almost never stood a chance to thrive even in the murkiest of alleys. This is because of an effective police strategy in crime prevention. Former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim who was a renowned crime fighter himself has a term for it. It’s called “pounding the beat”. In his biography May Langit Din Ang Mahirap: The Life Story of Alfredo Siojo Lim written by the late National Artist Nick Joaquín, Mayor Lim related how this scheme worked out, and how effective it really was:
“‘In my time, if you were given a beat, you pounded that beat on foot. You had to walk every inch of it. You were given block to cover. Let us imagine a block as a grid of criss-crossing streets. You began your beat, say, at the southern part outermost street. You walked it from one end to the other where you made a U-turn into the next street, which again you walked from end to end, U-turning into the third street and so on. Now, how long it would take a patrolman to walk from the southern outermost street had already been exactly timed. Say it had been checked that your assigned block would take a full hour to walk from one end to the other. So, if you arrived at the northern outermost street in very much less than an hour, you could be accused of skipping several streets on your beat. Or if you arrive at the northern outermost street in very much more than an hour, you could be suspected of having abandoned your post for half an hour or so. And the suspicions could be verified because a supervising patrol sergeant, unseen by you, was monitoring your every step and was supposed to know every moment where exactly you were.’
“That was the old way of pounding the beat and it ensured that at any moment, day or night, you would beet a policeman on any street in Manila. But Edo Lim knows —and regrets— that there is no longer any such pounding of the beat. The patrolman now does his thing seated —at the outpost, or in a patrol car— and the walkie-talkie does his walking for him.
“‘I pounded the beat in San Nicolás for over a year.'”
Annoyingly, this strategy is no longer in use. Rarely do you see a cop monitoring your neighborhood streets on foot. You’ll find them either inside their patrol cars or in the confines of their precincts, giving many the impression that they are simply waiting for a crime to be reported to them instead of them preventing it to happen. Because the usual scenario is this: they respond only after a crime has been done, only upon receipt of a complaint or report from frightened (or, God forbid, injured) civilians.
Why oh why has this pounding the beat been discontinued? Columnist Ramón Tulfo observed that today’s policemen are too proud to even walk on foot.
“Most police noncommissioned officers, especially the new ones, think that their college diploma places them on the same level as their superiors,” Tulfo complained. “What did he go to college for if he does jobs he considers menial? That’s the mentality of the ordinary policeman, especially the new ones.”
But when you read Mayor Lim’s biography (published in 1998, it was the first Nick Joaquín book I ever bought), it will prove Tulfo wrong. Mayor Lim himself had a college education. He graduated at the Far Eastern University with a degree of Business Administration. And not just him but his contemporaries as well. And all of them rookies pounded the beat.
But there should be no more explanations. Action must be taken, period. Failón is right: crime prevention is the key. So long as we ordinary civilians do not receive the protection and security that we deserve, we will always be at the mercy of not just petty criminals but those bigger sharks in power.
No wonder me and my family received audacious death threats on Facebook from politicians Eugenio Ynión, Jr. and his brother Rommel. Because they, and people like them, are already confident that the PNP has lost its nerve a long time ago, that they can easily escape (or perhaps pay) the law anytime. The Brothers Ynión can simply pay a goon or two to gun us down in the streets, or kidnap us, or whatever. And with no patrolmen pounding the beat, how could we hapless taxpaying citizens even feel safe in our very own turf, our country, where we are supposed to feel at home more than anywhere else in the world?
Of course our only hope right now is PNP Chief Alan Purísima. Before his term ends, here’s hoping that he leaves a lasting impression, a legacy, not just for himself and for the Filipino people but for the very institution —already tarnished with an ill-disposed reputation— to which he dedicated most of his life.
The police should pound that beat once more. Besides, it’s good exercise, too.