Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Into the West

Funny how things work out. I have been dreading living on my own again after five years of total dependence on my parents (God bless them!). But I guess it has already become second nature to me that, every time I touch ground on Manila all the instincts of survival kick in. Today is my first day of review (unofficially because it is "my" time, not the structured-to-boredom lectures from the review centers), and it has turned out quite well.

For some reason, everything is falling into place. I needed a study table, a fan and a lamp -- and everything was provided me. I thought I would grow bored reading pages after pages of legalese, and behold!, there's a relatively strong wi-fi signal inside my room. I am thankful for that. At least, I can surf the net and visit Facebook once in a while without staying in an expensive coffee house nearby (well, actually two rides away). I have also been thinking how I will be spending the nights to follow, and two invitations came: a birthday celebration of my best friend on wednesday (sorry, no april fool's joke) and two tickets for Spelling Bee the musical on Saturday night. Talk about blessings.

And the nights, oh what a terrible idea of spending them all alone without caffeine to calm me. But as luck would have it, sure enough, before my father left for Bicol tonight he bought me an electric kettle and with it, of course, are sachets of 3-in-1 coffee that will help me while the time away. I am hoping that this streak of good luck and blessings will continue until the fourth Sunday of that great arbiter -- the Bar Exams.

And while I am not uber-religious (though I am quite spiritual), I find this series of fortunate events being the handiwork of Bro, of Kuya Jess. And I am quite thankful for that. Oh well, back to Civil Procedure. The kettle is starting to boil.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Top Ten Something

It has been a while since I have posted something worthy for a leisure reading, something which is not too serious as would involve the discussion of life, death and all the metaphysical shits in between. So, as an ode perhaps to Chico and Delamar's Top 10 something everyday, I am here posting a Top 10 of my somethings.

Necessarily, this list has no common theme that threads one entry to the next. They are just random thoughts that came to my mind, keeping only one thing in perspective: they are something I fancy as of the moment. Well, perhaps there's the organic thought that binds the list together. Hehe.

Top Ten Something

10. I have always been a big fan of magical realism.

That is perhaps why I was so hooked with the Harry Potter series (aside from the fact that it is well-written and the myth surrounding Harry's story is so whole, so full that it is a universe in itself). But recently, I have encountered shows in C/S, yes that channel regarding crimes and suspense,which I am now following (not so religiously I'm afraid, but nonetheless I watch when I get the chance). The Dresden Files is one, though I only seldom get to watch it. The other one is Moonlight, about a daywalker who seems to have a fascination with earning back his mortality. While this is not an altogether new conflict, still the treatment of the same is quite well done (I cannot say extraordinary because the show itself is not that extraordinary), or perhaps I am just fascinated with beautiful people, and vampires seem to have that goth beauty that seems irresistible. Hehe.

On that note, I am quite interested in reading the Twilight trilogy (about daywalkers as well). Though, I am quite apprehensive of patronizing it for two reasons: first, one of my critic friends told me not to read them since they suck, I mean that the three installments were not well-written. Perhaps, only the fantasy holds the story together. But since I do not base my opinion on others', I will have to read them myself. Second, the book was written by a Mormon. Yes, you read that right. A mormon. Through their tithe system, buying a book means that you contribute 10% of its proceeds to the Mormon Church -- a staunch supporter of Prop 8, which limits the California Constitution to marriages between male and female only. I have always believed in equal rights to equal people. So, while I decided to read Twilight I will only do so by borrowing a copy from a friend. Hehe. Or better yet, by just downloading an ebook at torrent sites. Hehe.

9. Chico and Delamar's Top 10 Podcast.

Listening to Top 10 discussions of Chico and Delamar is so fucking hilarious and entertaining. It's one of those things that make my day, in fact, start my day. I admit that I was hooked to their discussion just recently. But who would not? They have the best diction on the airwaves (unlike those poseur radio jockeys who cannot even seem to use S-V agreement properly), and their wit is just so infectious. In fact, I even put on my shout out "Chico, why are you manhandling your grapes?!" Haha.

But before you believe your dirty little mind, let me tell you that Chico was in fact referring to grapes -- the fruit. Though, when he was talking about mandhandled grapes, it was during the discussion on the topic "Signs that you are or you are not a conservative." So perhaps, there was really double meaning on that. Haha. But I do have to agree with him that texture is quite addictive. Chico said (this is a paraphrase) that "it's different when you touch the grapes with your fingers and when you put the whole bunch in your mouth. The tongue has different sensors, after all." Well, yeah! Haha. Isn't he right.

Well, that's just one of his quips. Their topic ranges from sexist quotes to things you've said in anger, and even nasty habits and how one will complete the sentence "ano, gust mong anuhin ko ang ano mo?" Haha. 'Nuff said.

Just listen to them at their podcast site by clicking on Chico & Delamar or by just clicking on play on the right tab. Enjoy!

(Today is 29 November 2008. Tomorrow we will proceed to Number 8 in the countdown.)

So, I am back. And we go on with the countdown while listening to the song "Good Morning, Baltimore" sang by Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray. Or at least, that's what I am hearing right now since the movie currently showing on HBO is, well, what else but Hairspray. On that note, my Number 8 is --

8. Musicals and rainy days.

I was never really a big fan of musicals before. Although I have to concede that I really like Disney films, and well they are kinda like musicals too. So perhaps, I was really quite in like with musicals even when I was a kid. Haha.

But this fascination became a full-blown obsession when I went to Ateneo Loyola where I was exposed to theater, and, after a while, musical theater. My roommates also were members of Blue Repertory so I got hooked with the songs they were singing when they were rehearsing for auditions and, what else, rehearsals. My first encounter was Once In an Island. Soon, I was singing for the roles of Agwe and Papa Ge (not with Blue Repertory - since I was also then an editor of Heights, which will perhaps require another blog entry altogether - but only when my roommates were rehearsing for their roles).

Soon, I also had my dream roles just in case I get cast in a musical. My dream role is Judas Iscariot, yes, of Jesus Christ Superstar and Roger in Rent. Though my favorite musical perhaps is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Rent. I am not really well-versed with all the musicals in the planet, but hell when I encounter one I make sure I learn the songs of that new musical.

Fan fact: did you know that the song This is the Moment is actually the song sang by Dr. Jekyll before he drinks the potion in Jekyll & Hyde?

If I was not in law school (or in my alternative universe, advertising), I would probably be in theater while writing poetry. That's how I saw my life before, but the lack of money has made me prioritize things and give up some things (except poetry). But if I ever get the chance to juggle all of them I would. Wow! And to think I also want to go to Broadway and perform in Rent. Haha. I can already imagine myself singing Seasons of Love, One Song Glory and La Vie Boheme!

In fact, some of the most fun memories I had when I was still living in Serrano Dormitory was during rainy days and typhoon seasons when it was very much acceptable to belt out the songs we know because the torrential downpour drowns the sound and confines the singing (even at very loud voices) just to our dorm and therefore would not distract the neighbors. Hehe. Of course, it was best to practice the songs (especially Bui Doi of Miss Saigon) by the balcony while the rain rages on. I can only imagine our landlady downstairs feeling so helpless with the raucous we were doing then because of too much songs being sung inside the dorm (mind you, they were not limited solely to musicals but also to gospel songs and RnB). Hehe.

7. Films, not movies -- films!

The first time I queued for the films of French Spring in Manila/French Film Festival was in 2003 and the fee then was zilch, the films were shown for free at Shangri-La Mall. I had no work then yet (I was a fresh grad and I just came from a two-week writing workshop in Baguio City sponsored by the UP Institute of Creative Writing), so I had to pinch my coins so tightly since I was already then living on my savings. But I loved watching the films.

It was in June 2003, during French Spring, that I encountered Catherine Deneuve and I fell in love with her. Her performance in
8 Femmes (8 Women) and Est-Ouest (East-West) was just so spectacular! I cannot forget, for my life, her sing-and-dance performance in 8 Femmes. Wow! And that scene in Est-Ouest as they were approaching the embassy was just so riveting everybody in the movie house were holding their breaths and at the end of the scene everybody, collectively, sighed in relief then exploded in this ear-splitting applause! God. The French really know how to make their films.

But the most memorable film in that French Film Festival was the movie Une Affaire de Gout (A Matter of Taste) and which, to date, is my favorite film. The film was character-driven and it was as if the audience is Nicolas
himself, the wine taster, who was befriended by Frederic Delamonte, a wealthy middle-aged businessman. While some critics dismiss the film as simply entertaining and the ending somewhat unacceptable, I had to differ.

Perhaps the critics were simply looking at the wrong direction, but the subtlety by which the director moved the storyline and the dynamics between Nicolas and Monseuer Delamonte was so mesmerizing that the denouement of the film was in fact
necessary and, very well enough, welcomed. I cannot think of any other ending for that film; that scene showing an irresistible temptation was so indispensable in order to show that, even if we do not like to do so, the only way out is another sin. That perhaps is the thing that captivated me.

On that note, I have to add that while I am a big fan of French films, I am also quite interested in the way the Japanese make theirs and the brilliance of Latin-American filmmakers like Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu. The films Amores Perros (Love's a Bitch) and Y Tu Mama Tambien (And Your Mother, Too) were my first encounter (well, I guess, first and second encounters) with foreign art films. After watching them I was hooked.

Before, I end this entry I have to say that my favorite actors are not from Hollywood but from Mexico and France. The first one is Gael Garcia Bernal (Amores Perros, Y Tu Mama Tambien, El Crimen del Padre Amaro, Dot the i, Babel) who is an overly underrated actor who has been recognized almost everywhere except Hollywood. But what the heck, it is Hollywood's loss anyway. The other one is that ice maiden I have mentioned above, Catherine Deneuve, who is known everywhere because of the aloof and enigmatic personality she has glacially portrayed in such classic films as Polanski's Repulsion and Luis Buñuel's Belle de Jour, and which I have to say she managed to show (with a little bit of fiery eyes) in her portrayal in Est-Ouest.

So there, that's my number 7 -- foreign films which are so magically well done they stuck on you.

(We will of course proceed to Number 6 and, perhaps, 5 tomorrow. Today is November 30, 2008. Bonifacio Day and my friend and co-intern Vins Padilla's birthday. So, happy birthday Vinina!)

I guess it has taken me a little while before going back to this entry. Nonetheless I am back, so we continue with Number 6 of this top ten whatever, thus:

6. British Comedies, great TV series and really hilarious talk shows

Necessarily, if I have favorite films and film actors, the boob tube and everything shown in it are not too far behind. So, I am now introducing to you my favorite comedy shows, which are, well, British comedies. Just that.

While I love F.R.I.E.N.D.S and Will and Grace, British comedies like Coupling and According to Bex are just way different from these US shows. While the group of Ross and Rachel and the gay quad antics are entertaining, and sometimes heartwarming, the no-nonsense to hell-nonsense take of British comedies on certain topics raise the bar to a new level. Surely, hilarious becomes insufficient to describe the wit of British comedies -- after all, aside from the brilliant and smart script, physical comedy when added to the picture (and British actors are more than experts on this, especially Jessica Stevenson as Bex in, well, According to Bex) blow everything away. Simply, British comedies are brilliant.

In fact, there were instances (actually I think on weekends when Coupling and According to Bex were shown back-to-back on Star World), when my roommates in the Makati apartment where I stayed before were so pissed by my raucous laughter that they would shout at me to stop laughing, but wit that invades the heart cannot be stoppered and laughter just explodes. Haha.

While British comedies score when compared to their American counterpart, the latter nonetheless proves that when it comes to TV drama series, they are the expert. There are two shows I highly recommend right now and which I will defend to the very end (hehe): Brothers & Sisters and Dexter.

In my Friendster account, I wrote a review of Brothers & Sisters pilot episode:

"One of the more compelling, well-written series on TV today. Have watched only the first three episodes of the first season and already obsessed with it - got hooked after the brilliantly-written pilot episode. Aside from a powerhouse cast which provides moving scenes one after another, the writers of the show continue to outdo themselves with witty lines in every scene of every episode. Great show."

Dexter on the other hand is another matter altogether. Forget all those other crime shows, this is the to-die for series to watch and follow (its third season is now on the works). Dexter is a forensic investigator specializing in blood splatter analysis. But this fascination for blood and blood spatters do not end with his work; for he has a more exciting job at night -- he hunts for serial killers who manage to escape from the clutches of the law. And that is where adventure begins.

But what really made me stay with Dexter is the writers' effort (and if I may say so, quite successfully) to delve into the psyche of Dexter and how he interacts with the world, despite the obviously dysfunctional setup he is in. This is what is extraordinary with this show, the humanity that appears to leak, like blood, out of Dexter which tends to create a characterization so original it stick to you.

And of course, I cannot say enough regarding Chelsea Lately; a very hilarious late-night show hosted by witty, intelligent and beautiful Chelsea Handler. Her wit makes her so adept in handling, pun intended, current events. And the spin that her comedian guests do to stories and news is so greatly amusing, entertaining and enlightening it is as if you are watching Confucius as a comic (though perhaps I am exaggerating this.)

So there, that is my number 6. And I am so effing tired, I have to retire. See you soon as we proceed with the last half of this countdown.

Wow! It took me quite a long time before coming back to this post. It is already December 7, and I am officially fascinated with Google Earth. But that is not my top 5. I only downloaded the Google Earth program because I was trying to find out if there is a typhoon approaching this calamity-frequented land. I am not sure though if it is a cause for rejoicing, but there is only a low pressure area somewhere in the Pacific, and whether or not it will become a full-blown typhoon or stay mild-mannered remains to be seen.

Anyway, my top 5 (and quite appropriately so in this time of cold and wet weather), is

[Entry number 5 deleted. I will soon come back to this. Perhaps before the holiday break. See you then.]

5. Well I guess the number had to come after the holiday break. In fact, after valentine's day. But that is neither here nor there. Nonetheless, my number five are books -- be they novels, poetry or literary criticisms.

I am a big fan of the written word, and I have devoted my life to enjoying reading them and contributing to their perpetuation be it through writing my own literature or doing critique of others'.

The first novel that captivated me was La Casa del Espiritus (The House of the Spirits) by Isabel Allende. Until now I still remember how the story opened - with letters. Wow! And the flowing green hair of the sister who was considered a mermaid. I could not rest my mind on any other imagery when I recall that novel. The words woven by Allende were like silk on tongue.

(I am sorry. I have to take a break here. My head is spinning and I need to sleep.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

No, I Am Not a Pescatarian

Merriam-Webster's has added, yet again, about 100 hundred words in the dictionary -- from the clearly preposterous-sounding to those which should have been included a long time ago.

Pescatarian refers to a vegetarian whose diet includes fish.

Thus, definitely, I am not a pescatarian. I prefer meat; pork to be exact. On the other hand, I can also be possibly called a netroot, or one whose grassroots advocacy - human rights for me actually - is made known through the internet. But I definitely am not a wing nut -- or one who advocates extreme measures or changes.

But this is not the reason why I began this blog entry (and to be sure a spontaneous one). The reason is that unlike any other manifestation of human intelligence (humint in spy-speak but which of course means something else altogether), language evolves and perhaps will never die. With it, language becomes more dynamic, more alive.

The dynamism of language can be seen in every culture, nation or state. Poetry and novel are perhaps (my literature professors would probably kill me for saying this) archetypes of language. In all forms and lengths, poems and stories can be found in all the corners of this earth. This is what keeps me drawn to language and to all the fruits of man's fascination of and playing with it.

I am including here one of my favorite poems, in fact my favorite of Rainer Maria Rilke, entitled:


Spanish Dancer

As on all its sides a kitchen-match darts white
flickering tongues before it bursts into flame:
with the audience around her, quickened, hot,
her dance begins to flicker in the dark room.

And all at once it is completely fire.

One upward glance and she ignites her hair
and, whirling faster and faster, fans her dress
into passionate flames, till it becomes a furnace
from which, like startled rattlesnakes, the long
naked arms uncoil, aroused and clicking.

And then: as if the fire were too tight
around her body, she takes and flings it out
haughtily, with an imperious gesture,
and watches: it lies raging on the floor,
still blazing up, and the flames refuse to die -
Till, moving with total confidence and a sweet
exultant smile, she looks up finally
and stamps it out with powerful small feet.


Translated by Stephen Mitchell, Spanish Dancer embodies what poetry in motion is really like. With every word and enjambment, I can see clearly how the flamenco dancer flicker and flit from a dart of white tongue flame to a furnace that consumes not only her dress, but the attention of the audience; consumes them so much that the visual is the Spanish dancer and nothing, and no one, else. Everything around her is dark, despite the luminescence of the rattlesnake uncoiling; the fire of the dancer spreading like an uncoiling snake.

The visual impact is simply stunning, and I can't help but clap with the dancer and to stamp with her as she stamps the last ember of the dance with her powerful small feet.

This is language at its best.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Permanent Disability

Author's Note: Since, I have not yet finished a new entry for this blog, I am reposting this article which was published on Page A11 of the May 18, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

My mother is soft-spoken, but she stands her ground on issues that most people shy away from. Just recently, our “barangay” [village] captain asked her to sign up for the campaign launched by the supporters of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Realizing that it was the signature campaign, which the Arroyo administration unashamedly calls the people’s initiative, my mother declined, saying she was against it.

This morning, while we were enjoying the cool morning breeze, my aunt’s house help, “Ate” [Elder Sister] Mile, mentioned that my cousin had asked her to sign a piece of paper. My cousin, a barangay official, told her it was the minutes of the recent barangay assembly. Ate Mile signed a yellow piece of paper and another white sheet.

My mother, who is the barangay treasurer, told her the yellow paper was indeed the minutes of the barangay assembly, but the other one was for the signature campaign. When told that it called for Charter change and the possible extension of Arroyo’s term, Ate Mile protested in our native tongue: “I did not know that! I wasn’t told it was for that purpose. We will be going backward, if she does not step down.”

That’s the “people’s initiative” for you. Whatever the Arroyo administration officials say, the only ones they manage to convince are themselves. But that is not surprising. For two years now, the squatter in Malacañang has been convincing herself that she is the legitimate President.

I guess it is not difficult for her to convince herself that she is indeed the President. After all, the candidate I voted for is dead and the duly elected president is also dead. She has Garcillano, Gonzalez and Defensor to defend her, and they are such brilliant, logical and truthful people!

When I wrote in my blog what I thought about the current political situation, my dentist wrote back to ask why I was so angry with Arroyo. She was surprised, because I had taken part in Edsa People Power II.

I replied that I was not fighting for Arroyo then, but I was there, like many others, to protest against President Joseph Estrada’s conduct. I never questioned Arroyo’s constitutional right to succeed to the presidency; I had to respect what the Constitution mandated, even though I never liked her. Now, what I am questioning is her legitimacy, and her behavior and that of Jose Pidal and Jose Pidal Jr.

And she has the temerity to push for the revision of the Constitution!

She started by creating a commission, which was not even permitted by the Constitution. Moreover, on the day we were supposed to attend the assembly sponsored by the commission, I received a call from a classmate who told me that attendance was by invitation. We had to represent a sector of the community to be admitted to the convention center in the capitol where the assembly was being held. Well, that’s consultation for you.

Now here comes Speaker Jose de Venecia announcing that by July this year, we would already have a parliamentary government. No surprise there. Even before I was qualified to vote, I already knew that the Speaker had dreams that were bigger than Dumbo’s. They are such big dreams that even a Commission on Elections (Comelec) official was surprised by them. The official pointed out that it would take some time to verify the signatures, and the Comelec would need almost P3 billion to do it and then conduct a plebiscite.

Someone ought to tell our people that the money they paid for the expanded value-added tax will be used to satisfy the whims of those who want to change the Constitution in order to fulfill their dreams of: (1) having a graceful exit; (2) extending their stay in power; (3) at last, becoming the head of the government; or (4) all of the above.

But I am not really worried, for several reasons. The first is that the Senate, or at least the more sensible members of that chamber, will not let Arroyo and the House of Representatives bully them into changing the Constitution. The senators are more knowledgeable about the Constitution, while most congressmen seem to be uninformed or misinformed (or pretending to be either, which is idiotic) about the provisions of the Constitution.

The second reason is that the Supreme Court, the vanguard of the Constitution, is still there. And I pray that it will continue to perform its noble task of defending the Constitution. I have faith in the Supreme Court even though most of its members have been appointed by Arroyo. And that faith has been strengthened by their decisions on Executive Order 464 and Presidential Proclamation 1017.

But my best reason for believing Charter change will not happen soon is that the people are very well aware of the current political situation. The surveys show that a big percentage of Filipinos do not only want Arroyo to resign but also want the Constitution to stay as it is. In fact, a classmate told me that his boss, an elected government official and a known Arroyo supporter, is against the revision of the Constitution. Of course, I cannot verify that, but if it’s true, kudos to him.

As to some Filipinos living abroad who say that Arroyo is the best person to lead the country, I would believe it only if they said that after living here for a few months. The Filipino is intelligent, and there is no doubt about that. Only the administration says that Filipinos are more concerned about what they have on their tables. Such demeaning utterances could come only from officials who do not value the people’s opinion.

Only administration officials say that the people still want Arroyo to lead the country, that she was put there by God, that she is the best person to lead the country and that the only solution to all the problems of the country is the revision of the Constitution. But these statements are little more than the incoherent babbling of persons who are prone to self-deception, like someone who continues to believe in the legitimacy of her presidency.

Does that constitute permanent disability? And that is one legitimate ground for removing her from office.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ripping Off Lobo

Yes, the obvious reference to that current top-rating series on Philippine television right now. Or at least, what some fans actually assert when confronted with the question of whether the Piolo Pascual-Angel Locsin love team actually works. But that is not the focus of this entry.

Perhaps the oft-used word in the literary circle, and the critics that abound hounding those who can write (though most critics are also writers) is the word rip-off. That is something quite common with juvenile writers (read: Those who just discovered their passion for writing, prose or poetry. I do not really fancy calling them young writers since some writers actually started late in their life.), and writers for television.

Rip-offs are those works which literally rip off parts of many stories and piece them together - revising in the process the names, settings and sometimes situations but nonetheless retaining the organic idea of that which was ripped off - to form a cohesive material, which at first glance appears to be original.

The recent episodes of Lobo -- allegedly patterned after the film Blood and Chocolate (Olivier Martinez, Hugh Dancy, Agnes Bruckner) and that Korean soap Forbidden Love -- struck me as very similar to something I have read before. The familiarity was at first very subtle, until the recent episodes last week.

The observant ones who watch Lobo and who, at the same time, have read that great novel series of J.K. Rowling -- yes, the Harry Potter series -- would clearly see that the recent developments of Lobo is a rip-off from the later installments: specifically, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows.

Obviously, I cannot hide anymore that I am one of the biggest fans of the Harry Potter series - the books, not the films though I loved Alfonso Cuaron's adaptation of the Prisoner of Azkaban.

But I digress.

First, the evaluation.

In the world where No. 12 Grimmauld Place exists, the people are divided between the Muggles (non-magic folks) and the witches and wizards. However, the magical folks are further divided into the purebloods, the half-bloods (sired by a Muggle and a magical person) and the Muggleborns (sired by Muggles, but have magical powers; also called Mudbloods, an insult). In the magical world, there are also Squibbs (those born of magical lineage but have no powers, as in nada, zilch, kaput).

This is the first subtle difference. In the world where Luna and the Waya exist, the people are divided between the ordinary people and the lobo (werewolf). The lobo is also divided into the puti (white) and the itim (black). The whites are the purebloods, the blacks are the tainted ones (half-blood, Muggleborns/Mudbloods) who became werewolves when they were either bitten and contaminated by a werewolf, or a white one who tasted blood and therefore became tainted.

Now, the recent development in Lobo made me realize that the dynamics now in the said series is like that between the Order of the Phoenix of Albus Dumbledore (in my mind, Lady Elle of Lobo) and the Death Eaters of Voldemort (Anton).

(If you have not yet finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, stop now! Possible spoilers ahead!)

Here's how.

After Anton was able to take possession of the Batong Remus (by the way, the protagonist werewolf in the Harry Potter series was named Remus Lupin), he suddenly had this incredible desire to become the most powerful werewolf. Still a subtle rip-off.

However, when he used a mark to identify himself, he called it Marka ng Kamatayan (the Death Mark that Voldemort magically tattoos on the arms of his followers, the Death Eaters), I could not help but snigger. The temerity of the writers of Lobo is so laughable; they did not even change the name of the mark but merely translated it to Filipino.

Nonetheless, let us continue. Like Voldemort, Anton's main goal is to rule the world with the werewolves as the superior species with him to lead all of them. This is the same insane aspiration of Voldemort: to be the most powerful wizard who will rule the wizards and witches and to enslave the Muggles.

It does not stop there.

Anton's plan was discovered by Ylvana (played by Timmy Cruz), a very idealistic and powerful white werewolf who believes that the whites are more superior and powerful than the blacks. She confronted Anton, who is a black werewolf, a half-blood just like Voldemort. However, when Anton completely reveals his plan and the power he possesses because of the Remus stone, Ylvana was seduced by the power and the idea of werewolf domination.

This is reminiscent of Bellatrix Lestrange, a pureblood witch in the Harry Potter world, who believed that the purebloods are more superior than the half-bloods and the Muggleborns. She was also seduced by the power of Voldemort and his seemingly unparalleled power. When she vowed her allegiance to Voldemort she was marked with the Death Mark on her arms (Just like the Marka ng Kamatayan on Ylvana's arm).

Here is another rip-off.

The character development of Gabby (played by Shaina Magdayao) is the same as that of Severus Snape. Yes, the friend of Lily Evans Potter who also fell for her; though the same was unrequited because Lily fell in love with James Potter. Lily and Severus lived in the same neighborhood and were best friends during their years in Hogwarts. In Lobo, the love triangle involves Lyka (the Huling Bantay; probably the boy-who-lived in the Harry Potter world), Noah and Gabby (who were friends in the special task force against the werewolves called Luna). Gabby (Severus) fell for Noah (Lily). However, Noah (Lily) loves Lyka (James).

Now, when Gabby discovers the conspiracy between Anton and Ylvana, Anton did not kill Gabby. Instead Anton promised Gabby that he will give her Noah so long as they help each other. The same promise Voldemort gave Severus - that Lily would be his.

Here's another one.

Trixie (Dimples Romana) is now the new Tagabantay (which I see as patterned from the character of Sibyl Trelawney, the often-touted fraud of a seer; though she managed to give two important predictions that forever intertwined the life of Harry Potter and the villain Voldemort). The importance of Trixie is now apparent since both camps are after her, though they do not know yet that the new seer is her. She may be the key for either the triumph/downfall of the Waya or the defeat/reign of Anton.

That is as far as I can piece together how Lobo's recent development is a rip-off of the later installments of the Harry Potter series.

Now to test my theory, I interpose these predictions patterned on how Harry Potter's story was concluded by J.K. Rowling.

(I tell you now, there will be more spoilers here!)

First: Gabby's apparent treachery will be discovered by Lyka, but at the end will show her true allegiance to the Wayas and her love for Noah. She will be killed by Anton. But before her death, she will tell Lyka the secret of how to defeat Anton. Just like Severus Snape.

Second: Ylvana will be killed by Nessa (Agot Isidro), the mother of Lyka. They will square off in a separate scene during the final battle. This is important since Nessa is a former Waya who turned black when she bit Anton and Ylvana is a pure Waya. The dynamics of this fight can only be anticipated as that eventful duel between Molly Weasley (Blood traitor/Muggle-lover) and Bellatrix Lestrange (Pureblood).

Third: In the final battle, Noah/Lyka (though I believe it would be Lyka) will give Anton the ultimate chance to turn good. That is by purging himself of the powers of the Remus stone which can only be achieved by a tremendous regret and repentance.

Fourth: If before the television series ends, Anton puts a part of his soul into the Remus stone (the Horcruxes in the Harry Potter series), then Noah/Lyka would have to damage it first before she can kill Anton. However, if Anton does make the Remus stone as a Horcrux, only one will destroy the stone (perhaps Lyka since she has powers unlike Noah, and the stone is more powerful than the ordinary Anton) while the other will square off with Anton.

Fifth: In the end, Anton will use his power to kill his ultimate opponent, but it will backfire. (If it is Lyka, because she now has the Remus stone for her use. If it is Noah, because he is immune from the powers of the werewolves). Thus, like Voldemort, Anton will be killed by his own power.

I do not presume that all of this will happen in the series. But if my evaluation of the series is right and the writers move to finish the series the same way as J.K. Rowling ended her novels, then these (or at least some of these) will surely happen.

Today is 24 June 2008. In two weeks, the series will end. Let us meet again then. Hehe.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A speck in the eye

Author's Note: I have written this piece more than a year ago, after our trip to Legaspi. When I shut down this blog almost two months ago, this post was also deleted. So I am reposting this for the leisure reading of the reader, if interest snares him.

After two years, I finally wrote a new work in Filipino. (For the past two years I have tried, and is still trying, my hands on a foreign language to at least broaden my horizon and literary experience. As of yet, none have been published in that medium and genre, but Nikko and, if I am not mistaken, Ma’am Beni have already seen some of them). What drove me to write this piece (I mean, that new Filipino work, not this essay – though both the former and the latter have the same inspiration) was the trip that I took with my friends to Legaspi last Saturday.

For almost a year now, I have been working as an invigilator (read: proctor) for IELTS (that’s the International English Language Testing System) exams in Naga and Legaspi aside from my day job as a slave – er, paralegal, I mean. I get enough for a day’s invigilation to augment my daily expenses and sometimes my fees in law school. Thus, when I received a call from IDP Australia (yes, a little bit of plugging would do a little bit to help my part-time employer), that I would be invigilating in Legaspi, I grabbed the opportunity.

Thus, last Saturday I woke up at an ungodly hour of three in the morning to prepare to go to work. Legaspi is two hours away from Naga where I go to school, and Naga is about twenty minutes from our hometown. So I really had to wake up early to be able to get to the testing center before seven in the morning, the call time for the invigilators.

Thus, the morning after our hellish Negotiable Instruments exam, I peeled my still groggy self from bed, took a bloody cold bath to wake me up and ate two slices of toast with peanut butter and drank coffee. At four in the morning, I was already on a jeepney to Naga.

When I got to the rendezvous, one of my friends was already there. Ida was eating pan de sal and drinking soda and was wearing the shirt I was also wearing (a special issue IDP shirt). She thanked me that I gave her a ring after I woke up as she was able to prepare and sneak out of their house (ergo, her father, owner of one of the largest feed mills in the province, does not know that his daughter went to Legaspi). When I looked for an open lavatory, I saw Bing and Elmer waiting at the nearby Jollibee store (closed obviously, otherwise we would have met there): one who will also invigilate but was not wearing her IDP shirt, and the other sending us off.

At about thirty minutes past five, I called Kris, our friend who was supposed to be bringing his car for our trip, but he did not answer. After nine attempts, I was finally able to get him to answer. It turned out that he had a few drinks (well, a bucket, I guess) the night before during their Commerce night (he is an undergrad professor of the university and had taken negotiable instruments law ahead of us) and was not able to wake up early. He told me that he would just prepare for a while and will be arriving in a few minutes.

The sun was already peeking from the horizon when Harlene, who was also coming for the trip, sent me a message telling me that she was already waiting at their subdivision gate with May, another of our friend who would also be joining us. After a few minutes, Kris arrived.

We boarded the car and said goodbye to Elmer - he still had to finish his last day of practicum at the PLEB (People's Law Enforcement Board). On the way to the subdivision to fetch Har and May, I called up Flaj, who was also coming. She told me that she was already on her way out of the subdivision (a different one from Har’s).

We were able to fetch Har and May, who were also wearing their IDP shirt, and then Flaj, who was also wearing hers. Now, that’s seven of us in the car (Ida, Bing, Kris, Har, May, Flaj and I); one not yet wearing her shirt. If you are wondering, we were on board a car, not a van. So the adventure began.

What was supposed to be a two-hour ride became an hour and twenty minutes. With Kris’s experience (probably from drag racing), the places from point A to point B literally became a blur to us. Good thing speeding tickets are a foreign concept here in the province. Good thing that the girls were very close to god.

We were able to get to the testing center, a seminar hall in Pepperland Hotel (yes, another plug) in no time. No glitches before the exam happened except the usual registration problems when bitches and assholes try to talk their way in the testing center. Some would raise their voices to us as if we were poor slaves at their beckon; not knowing that we are actually law students earning our keeps to send ourselves to school and keep ends meet (All of us pay our tuition fees although our parents can still afford to send us to school).

I was manning the entrance and some of the examinees were really quite rude; getting pissed because I kept checking their IDs whenever they go out and come in again. There was even this man who rudely asked me: “Where did we buy the bottles of water?” I would have told him: “Sorry, sir. We did not buy bottles of water.” Instead, I pointed him to the buffet bar and told him politely: “You can buy a bottle of water there, Sir.” I rest my case.

No, they were not all nurses. Some of them were teachers, some engineers, and some were even butchers. Yes, you read right, butchers. Of course, they need to speak and understand English before they can butcher pigs, cows and other cattle in New Zealand. After all, baboy and baka are not animals in New Zealand, pigs and cows are.

Having had not enough sleep (one actually was not able to sleep the night before having drank beer and mocha madness at the same time), we were fighting dozing off during the exam. What kept us alert were some of the examinees who were doing a little bit of racket during the exam: one who kept looking past his shoulders and another who seemed to be not writing at all during the listening exam; another who asked whether he should skip a line to start a new paragraph, to whom I said: it’s your prerogative sir; then another who wrote her name in script after hearing clearly that names should be written in bold letters; there was also this one who underlined all his name, when instructed to underline only the family name; another who actually asked me if articles are included in the word count for the writing exam. With all these idiosyncrasies, I wondered whether they actually knew that they were just wasting ten thousand bucks on this exam.

When the exam was already nearing its end, I was approached by the exam administrator and told me that I need to talk to one of the examinees who brought two different IDs. When told that he should photocopy his passport and bring it back during his speaking exam, he started scolding me in Filipino (they are required to speak English at all times during the exam like us). When he was already raising his voice, I politely snapped at him (well, in a rather restraint manner anyway): “Sir, if you do not bring a photocopy of your passport. Your exam will not be processed.” Case closed.

By the end of the exam, we were already very exhausted and sleepy to eat our fettucine properly. But for some apparent reason, we still managed to finish eating. We were given our wages and we boarded the car. This was already past noon, dear reader, and the car was a microwave oven.

We decided to pass by the Cagsawa ruins, which, rumors had it, were ruined again and was actually buried beneath the mudslides during the playtime of Supertyphoon Reming. Rumors had it that instead of the usual three levels of the bell tower, only the top was left, all else were buried deep. We were already preparing for the worst since we actually passed the town where the Cagsawa ruins were when we were speeding to get to the testing center that morning. There were these houses where only the roof can be seen, foundations were the only ones left standing. When we passed by a river by the highway, the banks were already extended to the edge of the highway. The winds and rushing water have cleaved the original bank and widened the river bed to thrice its size, eating away the houses between the highway and the river. As we passed the highway that morning, we saw a fence left standing from the typhoon, behind it a twenty-foot fall to the leveled river bed.

Thus we had to brace ourselves for the worst. After all, the tragedy happened in our very own backyard, to our fellow Bicolanos.

A little bit of footnote: a few years ago, when I visited Cagsawa, we passed by rice fields and houses before we got to the historic ruins. There, houses lined the narrow road, and one can glimpse rice fields teeming with green stalks as far as the eye can see. When we got to the junction going to the ruins, we could already see people working their asses off. Quarrying.

Yes, quarrying. There was black volcanic sand all over the place - covering every skeleton of trees, houses, and some walls. Kris tried maneuvering the car to the Cagsawa ruins, but about twenty meters from the junction, a small river was rushing through the sand. The car, with its clearance low, would not be able to make it. Kris parked the car beside a house filled with the volcanic sand – yes, filled with volcanic sand, from floor to ceiling, too dense they were not falling off the open windows. Thus we took the long walk to the ruins, under the scorching afternoon sun.

The sand was thrice our height, or perhaps more. They were literally walls lining the narrow road. For the first thirty meters there were just sand and leave-less trees; and then a small creek, brown with mud; and then a meter or two of patched sand; then a slightly bigger river. We where crossing the bamboo bridge, when I stopped and looked around. Behind me was the majestic Mayon, still very majestic still very perfect. In front of me were the houses beside the widened river. Black sand was all over the place. No houses remained, no blade of grass was left standing. Desolate. Simply desolate.

By the curve approaching the ruins, I could see the old asphalt road clearly; no sand was covering it unlike the path I passed. By the curve, near the stall selling mythic figurines made from the volcanic sand, I could already see the bell tower peeking from the trees. It was not buried beneath the mudslide/sand-slide as some people told me in earnest and dismay. We reached the gate of the ruins, and I saw that the bell tower still stood on its ruined glory. Seeing that a ten-peso entrance fee was required, Kris and I waited for the girls before coming in.

We were hesitant to shell out the meager ten pesos, and had our pictures taken outside the gate of the ruins. But Bing volunteered to pay the seventy pesos so we could get in. Nice penny-pinching people that we were, we grabbed the generosity. To us, the legal maxim No person shall be compelled to accept the generosity of another do not hold sway.

As we were walking, looking for a shade, there was this one boy who was following me. At first I thought he was egging me to buy pictures from him (the kids by the ruins sell pictures of the volcano (erupting, spewing clouds, drooling red hot lava) the mudslide, piles of houses, and the pristine, cloudless picturesque view of the volcano). But when I listened, I realized he was actually reciting (not reading from anything) non-stop the history of the ruins – when eight nuns were buried during the eruption in the 18th century, when the biggest eruption happened and the number of casualties, and why the Cagsawa ruins became such. It was simply amazing.

When we got behind the bell tower, we could clearly see Mayon in its glory; tufts of clouds playing by its mouth. And by its foot, no rice fields again. Black sand all over again. Not even the mud bridges that border each rice field can be seen.

I remember that, when I was a child, I sent a friend a postcard of the Mayon. It showed a clear day, sunny and golden. There were farmers in the background stooping low to plant the palay. There were trees that could be seen by the edge where the rice fields end and the volcano begins. The sky was blue, and everything else was bright. This was not what we saw.

Everything was gray. The clouds playing with Mayon’s lips were silvery gray. The sky itself was gray. Mayon itself was gray with just a little trace of moss-like greens. Everything was gray beneath the scorching sun. That postcard would be priceless.

And, a few meters away, two big bamboo crosses, already brown from time, stood. The history boy pointed at it and told us they mark as reminder for the still unrecovered bodies. There may be a few still unceremoniously buried there by the typhoon – or perhaps hundreds more. But we can only guess and dread.

We had our pictures taken by the bell tower, tired but still smiling, hiding the specks of black sand caught in our eyes.

Cagsawa Ruins
10 March 2007

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Seed Planted

Welcome to this revived blog, previously known as the "Memories of Water," which I shut down after my friend's lament that the uber-political essays (at least to her) were something she would not dare read.

Yet, the revival of this blog was prompted not by an insane desire or perhaps that rekindled fire to blog and write but because, here we are, it is a requirement in our English class.

Yes, English class.

I am currently a fourth year law student who needs to complete the required eighteen (18) units of English in order to be eligible to finish law (actually, if I am not mistaken, a requirement to enroll in law--but that is neither here nor there). This is the last three units I have to complete. (For some reason, we were only required to finish twelve units of English in Ateneo Loyola, with the next three I took when I was in second year law).

Be that as it may, I am taking this requirement as an opportunity to rekindle my passion for writing - hopefully creative and literary - which was sidelined when I joined the law office where legal technicalities were required more than those flowery words so dearly used by the former Chief Justice Panganiban in his ponencias.

So sit back, relax and enjoy as you join me in this new journey of light and delight.