Wednesday, May 28, 2008

SENTI SA CENTENNIAL



Funny how the UP Centennial makes me think not of the beehive that was Palma Hall, nor the cold white floor of the Faculty Center where my friend Ria and I used to sit, waiting for an audience with one of our professors. All my happy sappy memories are of Kalayaan dorm, that haven for freshmen plucked from every region of the country you can think of. I remember bitching about the food, and gagging at stories about the fish eating Dona Paz victims, and us eating the fish. I remember filling my dorm room walls with magazine cutouts of my males of the month (yet I don't remember who they are now). I remember Ely Buendia, pre-Eraserheads, sitting alone in the cafeteria, and teaming up with the St. Scho girls for the all-freshmen volleyball team. I remember swapping Loveswepts and Candelight romances with Shy and Rahnee, boarding Recto-bound jeepneys to get to second-hand book stalls, which would promptly fold up at the hint of a raid.I remember waking up one morning to a loud radio broadcast of a coup d' etat, which, until that day, I only read about in history books. I was on the first floor--Room 105--and the whole dorm was abuzz with coup news. Our first concern was, "May pasok kaya?" We then gathered that there were government troops storming Philcoa, a jeepride away from Kalayaan. Someone was warning us: "If you have subversive materials, tear them up or hide them!" I thought about my Loveswepts, dismissing them as non-subversive. I remember our Residence Assistant advising us to stay inside the dorm, but somehow, Rahnee and I were able to slip out to the Shopping Center at the back of Kalayaan. We were hoarding supplies--peanut cakes, sanitary napkins, Coke-in-cans. There was no telling how long we were going to be holed up in the dorm. When we got back, my daddy was there, waiting to bring me home. A group of dormers gathered around us as we got ready to leave. But the dorm admin did not allow anyone to leave unless parents themseves came to fetch them. My dad was the first one there, and I was the first to leave.I hated leaving my friends behind. Daddy explained that it would be irresponsible for him to take them without the knowledge of their parents. I waved goodbye, guilty and bothered. I was rather amused by his mode of transportation: a white cargo vehicle with the single word PRESS in big bold red letters, PRESS as in PRINTING PRESS, not Inquirer or anything. But I figured those flashing red letters did the trick. We were not bothered by anyone from any armored personnel carrier as we sped our way home.
I spent four years in UP, but that one semester in Kalayaan--my first 6 months alone in a big school--is the most vivid. After that sem, I was able to brave the endless lines of registration, my first great heartbreak, my 2.75 in Math.

Happy Centennial, UP kong mahal!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

REMOTE TVictim # 4: Cold Case, Wednesdays at 10pm, aired at C/S Channel





This blog series is my take on various TV shows that I don't watch on a regular basis. I review just one episode, and will most likely not do so based on context or series "mythology." What you are about to read is rather shortsighted, often biased, and probably loopy. Please do not be offended if I diss your all-time favorite TV show at one point, or if I adore the ones you hate.

One of the things that draws me to a TV show or movie is the soundtrack. Back in the old cassette tape days, I would splurge my saved allowance, and later, my salary, on soundtracks of the movies I liked. I still have the warbly tapes of Lethal Weapon 1 & 2, Top Gun, Vision Quest, My Girl, A League of their Own...(rummages through the the tapes in the box)...aha! Jesus Chrust, Superstar, Grease, and Big Themes from the Big Films (Superman, Star Wars, E.T....). A couple of years ago, I lovingly presented a former student and friend, Tin-Tin, with what should now be a vintage cassete tape of the Pretty in Pink soundtrack (Tin, I hope, wherever you are, you're still grooving to OMD's If You Leave).


I sat down to watch Cold Case because I was drawn to the grunge music coming off the screen, accompanying four high school students in detention (Later that night, I dug into the box of cassettes once more, this time, finding Pearl Jam's Ten and Nirvana's Never Mind. I slept at 2am).
I smelled dreary teen spirit coming, and I was curious. After all, that was what attracted me to grunge circa 1993-1996ish. I was a wee bit past my teens, but I was still--umm--finding myself--career-wise, I was a copywriter for an ad agency in '93, and raspy guitar riffs and throaty vocals were in the air. I resisted the urge to wear plaid. But I couldn't resist the music.

Back to Cold Case: Trevor Dawson, the center of the story, and the victim, comes across in flashbacks as a soulful, depressed young man, secretly going out with Dawn Hill, a preppy African-American. Two other miscreants whose names I forget are part of this conspiracy to kill dawn's stepfather for molesting her. In the end, stepdad gets to live, and Trevor is dead. the case was marked suicide for 14 years, until new evidence--half of a note that casts doubts on the suicide angle--emerges, and the cold case is hot again. It turns out that Trevor and the other guy were seriously arguing about backing out of the kill-stepdad plot--on the rooftop of the school. The other guy went all angsty, wanting to kill himself for being worthless, and Trevor tried to reason with him. On the precipice, the two struggle, and it was Trevor who plunged to his death. Involuntary manslaughter for the other guy, 14 years after the incident.


My heart goes out to Trevor, so caught up in raw, teenage feelings of loss (Kurt Cobain just died), first love, disillusionment, and minutes before his death--hope. "I just want to love somebody. I just want--life things", he says passionately to the other guy who was clearly losing it. the other four teens, and the adults they've become 14 years later, are some of the best ensemble guest actors I've seen on TV. The detectives who reopened the case, or the actors who played them, may have their names on the opening credits, but I don't even remember them now, much less the investigative process they followed to solve the mystery. I recall watching two other episodes of the show, months back, and the same formula was at work. The guest actors, particularly the murder victims whose fates rotted away in sterile boxes in some stockroom in the police department, carried the show and held it aloft.


The soundtrack, as I first pointed out, was an eerie commentary on the decade in which the events took place: the mid-90's. Smashing Pumpkins' "Today" played in the background while Trevor and Dawn were pouring their hearts out over the phone. STP's "Vasoline" blared in the scene where the two boys break into Dawn's house. Smashing Pumpkins again--"Landslide" serenaded Dawn and the other girl in detention, as they laid flowers on the spot where Trevor died. The music, the story, the characters simply melded together and left me with a lingering refrain.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

MY KIND OF BIRTHDAY







My birthday bash lasted for two days. May 11th, the actual birthday was pretty quiet, since most of my friends were mothers celebrating Mother's Day. Can't compete with that! My brother cooked me a mean carbonara dish and unbelievably juicy chicken barbecue. After lunch, I went ahead and gave myself a present: registration and first post in the twilight lexicon. For the befuddled, let me explain: The Twilight Lexicon site (www.twilightlexicon.com) is the top-rating, long-standing fansite dedicated to all things Twilight, plus its sequels, New Moon and Eclipse, and other works by Stephenie Meyer, perhaps the hottest author in the universe today (J.K. Rowling has since taken a backseat). I've been dying to register, but I admit was intimidated by the truly insightful posts by hundreds of thousands of readers. On the afternoon of my birthday, I took a deep breath, filled up the profile fields, and clicked "submit." There. I'm a member! My first post was a self-introduction (as instructed by the moderators), and I proudly announced that it was my 38th birthday. Within a few minutes, I received half-a-dozen welcomes from around the twilight universe. The number tripled within a few hours. Besides the happy birthdays, they mostly applauded me for my...er...maturity. Heck, I got messages from 13-year-olds, forty-somethings...it was unbelievable. Never before have I seen with my own eyes the connections forged by the internet.


May 12th was the real party. My co-teachers and I shared bilaos of puto and pancit, and they gifted me with a brand new Swatch watch (aww, shucks...). We didn't party all day of course, being a work day ( I had to sneak out because I had a queue of interviewees waiting for me in the office).


All in all, I'm thankful for another year. I couldn't ask for anything more. I've got family and friends who love and support me--I've always had them, actually--but now, I've got friends in cyberspace too.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

REMOTE TVictim # 3: Private Practice, aired Thursdays at 9 (?) over Studio 23




Warning: My impressions of Private Practice are largely based on guesswork and speculation, with a small, microscopic part extracted from cynical and prejudiced views against hospital dramas post-St. Elsewhere.

First impression: what is Addison, McDreamy's ex (Grey's Anatomy, you know) doing in a spin-off? Is she the lead star here? Apparently, coz in the episode I watched, her opinion even as a wellness center newbie seems to matter. Musclebound Taye Diggs and award-winning Amy Brenneman are also cast as private practitioners, but Tim Daly's and Paul Adelstein's (loved him in Prison Break!) characters interest me the most. The smoldering looks and innuendos between his character and Addison hint at things to come. Hah. What a way to say, McDreamy can go to hell, preferably with Dr. Grey.

The show may boast of a powerhouse cast, but how long can they keep up viewer interest in alternative medicine? I would imagine that this fact should remain insignificant in the face of burgeoning relationships among the doctors. Seems likely in this particular episode where two African-American infants are switched at the nursery of another hospital, and the sick infant is brought in for consultation. What follows is so predictable, I was tempted to switch channels. I stuck it out until the end, waiting for another boiling hot lookfest between Addison and Dr. Pete the herbal medicine expert. Now that didn't disappoint me.

What Private Practice lacks, in my humble, non-medical opinion, is sustainability and connectivity between doctor and patient. The doctors seem too self-absorbed to be in any way attuned to the people who seek alternative healing. The premise lends itslef to early self-destruction, especially to those of us who get our escapist adrenaline rush from the zooming gurneys of E.R. and the acerbic storylines of House. Or I could be wrong. Maybe Grey's Anatomy viewers will throw some love at the wellness center, and keep the private practice alive.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

UGLY BETTY IS A PRETTY GOOD SHOW AFTER ALL

A warm, fuzzy feeling enveloped me as I watched my second straight Ugly Betty "realizations" episode. Once again, Betty helps more than one person in dire need, but I suspect that Boss Daniel Meade (she was rehired) will always top her list of people-who-need-saving-from-themselves.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

REMOTE TVictim # 2 : Terminator, The Sarah Connor Chronicles

(This blog series is my take on various TV shows that I don't watch on a regular basis. I review just one episode, and will most likely not do so based on context or series "mythology." What you are about to read is rather shortsighted, often biased, and probably loopy. Please do not be offended if I diss your all-time favorite TV show at one point, or if I adore the ones you hate.)

My memories of the Terminator movie franchise can be summed up in this order:

Terminator - Michael Biehn rocks.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day - Linda Hamilton's arms: prosthetically-enhanced?

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines - Nick Stahl can't be Michael Biehn's offspring!!!

Because I was then so focused on the actors, I missed the mythology of the whole thing. So hit me, Ahnuld. Last Saturday, a really bad cold and lethargic limbs prevented me from going anywhere, so I lay down to watch all three films, one after the other, on Star Movies. And I went, wow. Is that what it's all about? Strangely unsatisfied, I switched channels and found the TV series version: Terminator, The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I decided to go the extra mile and see if the TV version will fill in the gaping holes left by the movie storylines.


This particular episode had Kyle Reese's brother Derek in it. With no effort, the scene I caught (I failed to tune in at the beginning), where Resistance fighters were supposedly caught and herded into a basement, and chained to the floor, tied in neatly with Kyle's story in Terminator I. Five seconds later, I got lost, as the scenes vacillate between Derek, lying injured on Sarah and John's couch, and the 2029 (?) Derek whispering bitter nothings to a guy who keeps saying, "It's my fault. I built Skynet." Cut to commercial...


It was an awfully excruciating experience to have a trilogy so fresh in my mind, so vivid in my awareness, come crashing down with a rude thud, as the characters, plot, even the effects go bouncing off in different directions. I find the actress who plays Sarah too be all wrong; I can't explain why. Thomas Dekker's John Connor looks ill at ease, like he was cast for his slight resemblance to daddy Kyle, and nothing else. And who did they replace Ahnuld with? Cameron Philips (the obvious reference to THE James Cameron is cheesy), a ballet dancing cyborg. It was all so contrived! I had more empathy with Jessica Alba in Dark Angel, though I find that series just as pretentious.


It will take some superhuman effort, but I'll have to wait until Terminator 4 slams into theatres in 2009. Christian Bale has reportedly been cast as an adult John Connor, and a yet unnamed actor will appear as Kyle, whom I miss so terribly. Maybe then I'll get my answers, and my revenge against the tv series producers that dreamt up the nightmare I just endured.

Friday, May 2, 2008

GOLDEN VOWS: Uncle Inar and Auntie Conching Rosal say "I do" again! You're invited to view pics of the wedding of the half-century...

The groom and his sister, Charito

The charming Terol sisters

Bottom (L-R): Auntie Charito, Auntie Lina
Top (L-R): Auntie Vita, Me, Kuya Al



The bride and groom: Auntie Conching & Uncle Inar


(L-R): Auntie Elvie, Auntie Vita, Kuya Al, Auntie Lina, Ate Cacay,
Auntie Charito, Ate Ging
It was a lovely, solemn affair, broken only by Ate Cecel's tearful Prayers of the Faithful, and the bride's zealous "I do." So sorry I missed the reception, but I heard everyone had a grand time there too! Congratulations to two of my idols, Uncle Inar and Auntie Conching!