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Category Archives: Cinema

PiliQUEla: the first Quezon Province Film Festival!

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It’s coming next weekend, folks! See you there!

LA FAMILIA VIAJERA

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Enchanting Lake Sebú

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Rainy days of recent weeks brought back beautiful and exciting memories of last year’s Allah Valley Familiarization Tour, particularly our journey to enchanting Lake Sebú. It took place during my “birthday week” (July 14-18, 2013), and it was my first trip to Mindanáo where I got to meet some of the most interesting people. For most part of our tour, it was either raining or drizzling, but it never spoiled our “vacation”, at least for my part.

I got lucky to have been part of that tour which was composed of well-known travel bloggers and writers as well as representatives from the Department of Tourism. Together, we traveled to many parts of Cotabato del Sur (South Cotabato) and Sultán Qudarat, or those places pertaining to the Allah Valley region. But what was perhaps the most thrilling place we visited was Lake Sebú in Cotabato del Sur.

 

Partial view of Lake Sebú from Mountain Lake Eco Resort (07/16/2013).

 

Lake Sebú is a large natural lake located in the municipality which also bears its name.* Situated in the nature-tinged province of Cotabato del Sur and within the Allah Valley region, it is recognized as one of the country’s most important watersheds as well as a major tourist attraction in Mindanáo. The lake region is beautifully surrounded by rolling hills and thickly forested mountains and is the home of the T’boli, the extremely friendly indigenous peoples of South Cotabato.

Up in the frosty mountains of Barrio Lamfugon, Lake Sebú, on our way to a T’boli community within the forest. And for my first spelunking experience (07/15/2013).

 

At the mouth of Cofnit Cave. Photo by “Tatay” Nestor Dionido. (07/15/2013)

After exploring Cofnit Cave all drenched and muddy, we were forced to spend the night with the T’boli community in the highlands of Mount Lambilâ because the trail towards the town proper got really muddy due to nonstop rains. It was chilly all through the night, but an unforgettable one nonetheless because we immersed into the T’boli culture. There were lots of singing, dancing, and even poetry! (07/15/2013)

 

Ida and master travel photographer George Tapan with our T’boli friends, right before our trip back to the lowlands. (07/16/2013)

 

A tour guide introduces us to Laang Dulay, the famed T’boli “dreamweaver” of the colorful T’nalak cloth. The delicate and intrinsic geometrical patterns of the T’nalak cloths that she wove (such as those behind her) originated from her dreams, thus the “dreamweaver” tag. (07/16/2013)

 

Sceneries around Lake Sebú on board our cruise and breakfast tour provided by Mountain Lake Eco. Resort (07/17/2013)

 

The enchanting blogger known as Pepe Alas below the breathtaking but deadly Hikong Alo waterfalls and rapids of Lake Sebú with THE George Tapan of travel photography fame and Ida. Photo by Ron Yu. (07/17/2013)

So enchanting were the sceneries, stories, and people of Lake Sebú that they inspired one of us to make a film! Writer Ida Anita del Mundo (daughter of a living film legend) was roused by our Lake Sebú sojourn to write and direct her first indie film, K’na, The Dreamweaver. It’s one of the entries to this year’s Cinemalaya which opens tomorrow night.

No wonder she seemed catatonic for most part of the tour! She was subconsciously cookin’ up something, after all! 😀

I told Ida many weeks ago that I’d tag my family along to watch the screening of her film. Unfortunately, because of my wife’s delicate pregnancy, we won’t be able to do so anymore. Lo siento, señorita. But she has already seen the stunning trailer and she has nothing but praises for it. Judging by the trailer alone, this movie is in a class of its own.  Wifey and me would be surprised if this film does not win a major award. We’re both disappointed, though, that we won’t be able to see the full movie. It was supposed to be the first indie film that we’d ever watch, believe it or not. But here’s hoping that a DVD of K’na, The Dreamweaver will come out in the near future.

But how enchanting is Lake Sebú, really? To those who won’t be able to travel there the soonest, I suggest you check out Ida’s jaw-dropping art film to find out.

 

Click on the photo to view the full schedule of shows at the CCP and Ayala Malls!

*F*I*L*I*P*I*N*O*e*S*C*R*I*B*B*L*E*S*

The Municipality of Lake Sebú was once a part of the Municipality of Surallah. It became a separate municipality on 11 November 1982. On the other hand, Surallah was founded on 19 June 1961 and was one of the 11 original municipalities of Cotabato del Sur when the latter province separated from the much larger province of Cotabato on 18 July 1966. Cool. So I share the same birthday with the province. Maybe I should move my family there permanently. And you better believe me when I say that it’s not a bad idea. 😀

Captain America is anti-American

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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.

Strange Friday

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Something strange happened this afternoon.

After lunch, me and my family watched Mel Gibson’s controversial film The Passion of the Christ on VCD. At exactly 3:00 PM, the crucifixion scene was shown.

The hour of great mercy. What a coincidence.

I am sure it was a sign. But what does it mean?

The Passion of the Christ

The Passion of the Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

¡Salamat, Dolphy!

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The Philippines has lost another icon: the one and only King of Comedy, RODOLFO “Dolphy” QUIZON y VERA (25 Jul 1928 – 10 July 2012)…

In the hearts of millions of fans, Dolphy will always be a National Artist no matter what.

Thank you for the happiness you gave to three generations of Filipinos, Dolphy. The Filipino cosmos will never ever be the same without you, and it pains us just with the thought of it. You will surely be missed.

The Bourne Legacy official trailer

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Here’s the much-awaited full-length official trailer for The Bourne Legacy that was released yesterday.

Why is FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES posting this stuff? Because this trailer (as well as the movie itself) features several scenes from Metro Manila!  But not the pretty sights that a tourist would want to see. Anyway…

The film crew had four countries on their list of shooting locations: Brazil, Indonesia, India and the Philippines; ultimately, the Philippines was chosen. Jeremy Renner arrived in the Philippines on January 6, 2012 while the rest of the cast arrived earlier. From January, 2012 until the middle of February, the film was shot in Metro Manila. The final part of the film was rumored to be shot in Palawan. —Wikipedia

Finally, the Philippines lands in a major Hollywood film. I’m sure this isn’t the first time that The Pearl of the Orient Sea will be shown in the international silver screen (to name a few, Apocalypse Now and Missing in Action III come to mind). But in an era where social media rule, this is something novel. Let us not, however, cheer yet; we still do not know how our country will be portrayed in this action spy film. Hollywood has a penchant of portraying Third World countries in a negative light.

At any rate, a promotion is still a promotion. The people behind the It’s More Fun in the Philippines tourism campaign must surely be patting each other’s backs for a job well done (if they ever had anything to do about this at all). Things are looking up.

And just imagine this: what if Edward Norton (the antagonist in this film) wasn’t fired from the billion-dollar-earning superhero flick The Avengers? There would have been two Marvel Studios actors in this movie! Hawkeye vs The Incredible Hulk in Manila! Wow!

Pagsanján — Bangkero, Lahát ay Masayá (music video)

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We often hear of celebrities, usually movie and TV actors, running for public office. And if they ever win, their acting stops there. Naturally. Their craft has no place in the higgledy-piggledy world of politics.

But Pagsanján Mayor Girlie “Maita” Ejército beats them all: she makes use of her craft that has been in the back burner for years.

Not many people today know that she used to be an actress back in the 90s. Once known as Maita Sánchez, she wasn’t as popular during that time compared to her contemporaries because she usually played minor roles, as a character actress, much like her now esteemed husband, La Laguna Governor Emilio Ramón “E.R.” Ejército (son of the late actor George Estregan and nephew of former president Joseph Estrada). She was further relegated to obscurity when she became a full-time housewife (a mother to four children), hiding under the shadows of her relatively well-known husband who, like her, played supporting roles and cameo appearances. Using various screen names from Jorge Estregan to George Estregan, Jr., Governor Ejército’s salad days in cinema wasn’t that delectable as well to moviegoers for he usually accepted roles as a notorious villain in many action films.

But it was during their later years when they achieved mainstream success albeit in a different industry. The movie villain changed his one-dimensional persona and somehow managed to make himself one of the best and efficient mayors in the entire history of Pagsanján. When his term came to an end, he ran for a higher position, winning the gubernatorial seat by a landslide in the last 2010 general election.

Governor E.R. wasn’t the only Ejército who was victorious during that election year; his wife stood tall beside him. Breaking out from obscurity, Mayora Maita (as she is fondly called nowadays) successfully snatched the mayoralty seat of the same town that her husband had administered for a full nine years (2001-2010). Aside from other duties as a public servant, she now continues various projects and programs which were started by her husband. One of these projects is the annual Bangkero Festival, a tribute to the boatmen of Pagsanján (Bumbuñgan) River.

The “Pagsanján Bangkero Festival” is held every first week of March. The Tagalog term bangkero pertains to the people whose job is to provide transportation over sea or river through a bangka (boat). Welcoming summer, every first week of March, Pagsanján, Laguna celebrates its Pagsanján Bangkero Festival and is fast becoming popular through its lined-up exciting events on both land and water such as the Palarong Bangkero, street dancing contest for students from different schools dressed in colorful costumes swaying to the upbeat music, drum and lyre band competition, choralefest cultural night, trade fair, sports events, and many more.
—From the town’s official website

Actually, the spelling should be banquero; but what the hey, my animosity against today’s mangled orthography will have no place in this blogpost at the moment. :D) Anyway, as I was saying…

And then came last year’s multi-awarded action-art flick Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story. Governor Ejército won not only the prestigious Best Actor’s Award in the recently concluded Star Awards for Movies last 14 March, he also inadvertently won an audience who is not in-the-know about the province he is governing whenever he is away from the glitter of showbiz (trivia: some scenes from Manila Kingpin were shot in Pagsanján).

Last month’s Bangkero Festival (March 27-31) was extra special — a music video entitled Bangkero, Lahát ay Masayá was launched during the five-day event. Created by prolific TV/music video director Louie Ignacio, the music video is another lasting tribute to the sturdy boatmen of Pagsanján River who bring excited tourists to a pulse-pounding ride of their lives to catch a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse of the world-famous Pagsanján Falls tucked deep in the forests of nearby Cavinti.

This medium is one-of-a-kind because, to the best of my memory, this is the only music video which serves as a town’s promotional material and at the same time the performing artist is none other than that town’s chief executive herself! And yes, Mayora Maita can sing, even hitting that coveted high note, her voice effortlessly joining the mellifluous yet upbeat tune that was composed by prolific songwriter Marizen Yaneza.

In the words of Ronald Yu (publisher/editor/photographer at In-Frame Media Works), this music video will serve as a benchmark for other municipalities and cities who might take that extra step to promote their respective turfs’ tourist attractions (I try to imagine Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim belching out a tune to promote Intramuros, and then I start to weep). Why, it’s not everyday that you’ll encounter your town/city mayor doing a catchy music video for the sake of their town’s local heritage. 😀

This is simply pure genius.

Check out the awesome video below!

Artist: Pagsanján Mayor Girlie “Maita” Ejército
Composer: Marizen Yaneza
Director: Louie Ignacio

Watch out for cameo appearances of Governor E.R. Ejército and the holy image of the town’s patroness, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.

*******

This music video is being blogged in celebration of LA LAGUNA The Festival of Life whose soft opening falls today. Come celebrate with us and enjoy La Laguna’s best!

Watch out for Mayora’s next video. It’s guaranteed to give you an idea of how María Maquiling looks like! 😉

*******

“(La) Laguna is the number one province and best place to visit, to invest in, and to live in.”
—Philippine Information Agency—

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