Saturday, April 30, 2005

Never Again

We all have our own favorite movies that we wouldn't mind seeing over and over again. I, for one, don't think I'll ever get tired of "Dead Poets Society." Then again, there are some movies that are exactly the opposite: we see them once and we think "Well there goes two hours of my life completely wasted." Either that or we just don't see the relevance of subjecting ourselves to two more hours of the same old drivel. Like they say, once is enough, twice is (most definitely) WAY too much. Here are 5 movies that I don't think will show up in my DVD collection (legit or pirated) any time soon (or maybe they will, but good luck if they ever find their way inside the DVD player).


The only way anybody's ever going to get me to see this movie again is if they pay me P10,000 (ok, I can probably go as low as P5,000, but that's it). So it won a few Oscars and is the highest-grossing movie ever in the history of moving pictures. Big deal. It also has one of the cheesiest lines ever in the history of, well, moving pictures. Hearing Leo scream out "I'm the king of the world! Woohoo!" once is pure torture (*shudder*). I'm not going to be put through that kind of agony ever again. Don't get me wrong: Leo is a fine actor; Kate as well. And "Titanic" overall…not such a bad piece of filmmaking, when you think about it. (The fact that it won over "LA Confidential" that year though…sacrilege, almost). But the writing…what can I say that hasn't already been said? Well I'll say it anyway. The writing sucked big time. A sappy rich girl-poor boy love story set in one of the most infamous maritime disasters in history? "I'd like you to paint me wearing this…wearing only this…" (*cringe*) Who the hell says that? Then again, I'd like to see James Cameron's next directorial project. Just to see if he can write anything as bad, or even worse, than this.


We all know summer is usually the season for big-budget blockbusters with lots of car-chases and exploding airplanes and all that shit. Most of us also know that the bigger the budget of most of these movies, the smaller the actual quality of the writing gets. (See above). But this movie absolutely takes top prize as one of the worst summer movies, ever. Wild horses with unlimited iced tea and popcorn couldn't drag me back to see this movie again. It's bad enough they injected a thoroughly ludicrous love story in one of the most pivotal moments of World War Two, but they really screwed up with their history in many parts of the movie. Don't believe me? Is it really so much to ask that they use at least the same amount of all that money to get their history right instead of spending it all on the explosions and special effects and the actors' hefty paychecks? Come on. But, for those who actually enjoy the "intricacies" of wooden acting, at least they get a double dose from Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett. Jerry Bruckheimer really ought to stick with producing for TV (CSI and The Amazing Race)


I didn't know much about this movie when my friend and I saw it in the theater. If I had known it was as bad as I belatedly realized, of course I wouldn't have seen it in the first place. Which just goes to show that sometimes, it pays to find out a few things about the movie before deciding to pay good money to see it. For those who haven't seen this, I envy you. You should thank your lucky stars you did whatever it is that kept you away from this humongous piece of garbage. This is a movie about (surprise!) a really creepy old house, nay, a MANOR. Of course, a brand new family moves in and starts experiencing really weird stuff in and around it. Is it a ghost? Or is it just the psychotic ex-con who used to live in the house and decided to wreak havoc on the new inhabitants whom he feels is invading his property? Oh! It's the latter. Big frickin' deal. Sharon Stone and Dennis Quaid must've hit rock-bottom when they signed on for this. Oh well. At least we can look forward to Sharon in Basic Instinct 2…


The producers were probably thinking: "Heck, everybody's getting a major facelift for the new millennium. Why not the old Count?" Why not? Because there are some things that just shouldn't be messed with, that's why! Whoever the hell thought up the idea of equating Dracula with the biblical character Judas Iscariot must've been out of his skull. In the movie, Dracula is actually a blood-sucking version of Judas, who betrayed Jesus Christ for, you got it, 30 pieces of silver…Get it? The brains of this godforsaken mess theorizes that this is the reason why Dracula is afraid of silver bullets…because it frickin reminds him of how he betrayed Jesus! Some people might think that's...brilliant. I think it just plain sucks. Just talking about it makes me want to slam my head against a brick wall.


Mutant lizard terrorizes New York City. There aren't enough words to describe what a godawful waste it was to transport that hulking reptile from Japan to cater to American audiences. Blech.

There're a lot more crappy movies I wasted my time and 120 pesos on. Maybe I'll think about some of them and add to this list. Maybe not.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Happy Place 2

The last time I was in Boracay, three nights and four days didn't seem nearly enough to take everything in (translation: bitin). This time around, we were staying for only three days, so I wanted every moment I was there to count, every minute devoted to absolute rest and relaxation.

To any beach lover, the feel of fine sand beneath one's bare feet is unlike any other in the world. It evokes feelings of serenity and familiarity, of detachment from anything even remotely stress-inducing, even of a promise of better times ahead. (I make it sound too dramatic, but really, that's how it is for me). So a good portion of the whole time I was there, I spent sitting on one of the beach chairs, feet on the sand and either chatting with my friends or listening to my music and just simply staring out into the endless ocean. A couple of times I actually fell asleep right there on the beach.

It being the middle of the summer season, the heat was, at times, unbearable, so I had the good sense to lather on the sunscreen and stay in the shade (you all should, too, especially between the hours of 10 and 2). The first day, as soon as my friends got there, we immediately headed out to our favorite spot on the entire stretch of the front beach, which was right in front of Lea's bar in Station 1. (We got to know Magnum the bartender, who gave us good deals on the drinks, during our last trip. Unfortunately, he wasn't there this time). We stayed there till well past sundown. We would've lounged around longer had we not felt the first pangs of hunger. Ryan thought we should check out the Mexican place we saw along the way, but as soon as we sat down, took a peak at the menu and realized we didn't want to pay P300 to P400 for a burrito (which we weren't even sure was good), we all stood back up, left in a huff and ate at Gesthof's (the German sausage place) instead. I doubt the management of the Mexican place was very happy about our "walk-out," especially after they scrambled to provide chairs for all 12 of us.

After dinner, I excused myself from the group and met up with a correspondent of ours on the island. He was kind enough to invite me for drinks as soon as he found out I was there on vacation. I was hesitant to let him pay for the drinks at first, but you know how persuasive we Pinoys can get, particularly non-city folk. Pretty soon, I was downing two garapons of the famous Jam Jar (that's in addition to the three or four Lights I already had back at Lea's bar), and munching on their exquisite pizzas. But fatigue finally caught up with me, and before 1am I was back in our room and out like a light while all of my friends partied at Pier One till (almost) sun-up.

Breakfast the next day was right in front of the hotel we stayed in. I'm sure I've eaten tastier tapsilogs in my life, but eating it by the beach - can't get any better than that. The rest of the day was spent swimming, having shakes at Jonah's (you gotta have shakes at Jonah's) and eating calamansi muffins at Real Coffee, snoozing and more swimming. (I spent a good hour just sitting on a beach chair and listening to a friend's recommendation, Amos Lee). Later in the afternoon, we indulged in more strenuous physical activities, for a change. First was football. Ryan brought his pigskin with him and we threw that around under the sun for about half an hour. Then the kite. Yep, nothing brings out the inner kid in you better than a bit of kite-flying. Unfortunately, the wind was uncooperative; the longest we had that thing airborne was about thirty seconds. Oh well. Better luck next time.

Sunsets in Boracay…truly spectacular. And I have the photos to prove it.

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Boracay sunset

We were all on our own for dinner. Ryan, Tina and I had pasta at Ai Pazzi. (The owner talked me out of having the chicken curry, so I had the spaghetti pesto instead). Afterwards we all met up at the beachfront side of Cocomangas. Over shots of Illusion shaker, I had an interesting chat with one of Tina's friends, whom I just met the day before. It's pretty cool sometimes, to find out things about yourself when an almost complete stranger point them out to you.

The next day I picked up a box of calamansi muffins from Real Coffee that I wanted to take home to my officemates as pasalubong. Like all good things, the end had to come sooner or later, and this time, it felt like it was much, much sooner. (Like I said, 2 nights and three days just isn't enough time to lose yourself in Boracay). We left the island at a little past noon and headed out to Roxas City, where our flight was the next day. After being there twice before, it was good to see all the familiar faces again. That night, our hosts treated us to a sumptuous native chicken dinner at a local "inasal" place. Once again I got kidded around a lot for this "quirk" I have about eating, but overall, it was good fun. We were all up extra early the next day for the flight back home. In the plane, the flight attendants had a hard time convincing the passengers to join in a game of oh-so-fun "Tongue Twister." (I wondered why, considering their ultra-snazzy Cebu Pacific pouch bags was up for grabs).

And just like that, my Boracay vacation was over. Looking at the sticker on the wall in my room, I had to smile. It says: "Boracay, I shall return." Well I guess I did. And again...I will.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Happy Place

Despite everything that’s been written and said about it, people still keep asking what the big deal is about Boracay. It’s not like there aren’t other beaches in the country blessed with pure, powder-soft and sun-kissed white sand; I’m told there are lots more of those around the archipelago, many of them yet to be discovered and exploited by commercial developers. But ask anyone who’s been there and they’ll tell you the same thing: there’s just something special about that place. No one can quite put a finger on it, but you’ll know it when you’re there to see it for yourself, and feel it even more so when you have to leave. For me, as simplistic as it sounds, Boracay is and always will be that little spot on the map where I found my happy place.

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Happy place

The original plan was for me to join my friends in Roxas City, Capiz on Saturday to attend the wedding of a good friend’s sister, then head on out to Boracay early the next day. But work stuff kept me in Manila, so I had no choice but to follow everyone else down there Sunday morning. My flight to Kalibo, Aklan left at 8:30 in the morning, but at 12 midnight the previous evening, I was still in the office waiting for my (extended) shift to end. I hadn’t even packed yet. When I finally got home at past 1 am, I had just enough time to throw some clothes inside my big travel bag and some other stuff in a smaller backpack and catch a couple of hours of sleep. Subconsciously, I must’ve been pretty excited because I got to the airport well before the requisite 2 hours before take-off. (I say “subconsciously” because at the time, I wasn’t even feeling anything but exhaustion and sleep-deprivation). At the pre-departure area, with more than an hour and a half before boarding, I read a book (Peter Mayle’s “Chasing Cezanne”), listened to music (Gavin DeGraw’s “Chariot” album and a few live tracks) and indulged in a bit of people-watching to kill time. Judging by their summer get-up and what appeared to be sunny dispositions, almost half of the people there were “bakasyonistas” like me out to catch some rays. A good number of them were also headed to Boracay; I could tell because there was a flight for Caticlan leaving every 30 minutes or so.

The flight was pretty much uneventful, except for the annoying inflight game. Cebu Pacific ought to really consider scrapping their attempt to entertain its passengers during the flight. (I for one can do without a game of “Bring Me” or “Tongue Twister” at an altitude of 40,000 feet).Less than an hour later, we landed in Kalibo. Right outside the airport, vans waited to take passengers to Caticlan port. I got on one and spent the next hour and a half traveling through the Aklan countryside. But as beautiful as Aklan is, one can only take so much of green rice fields, rolling hills and tall coconut trees, so, once again, I turned to music to while the time away. I listened to my personal CD mix, which includes songs by Moonpools and Caterpillars (“Soon”), Blessid Union of Souls (“I Believe”), Mike Francis (“Let Me In” and “Friends”), EBTG (I Didn’t Know I was Looking For Love) and a few others.

Arriving in Caticlan port at around 11am, I felt the first stirrings of guilt about my penchant for late-night snacks and aversion to any form of exercise; contestants for a bikini contest milling around the port made sure of that. I’m not fat or anything (at least, people keep telling me I’m not, even though I have a sneaking feeling I may be a bit over my ideal weight). A quick boat trip across the calm waters and I was on the island of Boracay. But instead of being dropped off at the front beach, we were brought to a central port on the other side of the island; apparently a new scheme the local folks were trying out. I initially didn’t have any problems with that, except the tricycles had to fill up with passengers before taking them anywhere. I had to wait for about 20 minutes before a couple of old ladies and a guy carrying 2 sacks of rice finally got in the trike with me.

After all that, I finally reached my destination. I was surprised at how much change there was since the last time I was there. Of course, all the familiar places were there: D’Mall, Hey! Jude, Summer Place. But there were a lot of new places, too. I decided there would be plenty of time to explore all that later. After getting the key to our place and leaving my bags in our room, I went back out and took my first deep breath of Boracay air right on the beach. It was gonna be a good trip. be continued (obviously)

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Farewell my Pope

I was a senior in high school back in 1995 during the celebrations for World Youth Day. Our school played host to some of the delegates from other countries who flew to our country to attend the biennial religious event. I remember catching a glimpse of Pope John Paul the Second as the motorcade passed through a street near our school. He was inside the Pope-mobile, of course, waving to the crowd outside as he passed them, or rather, us. I gazed at him for no more than a split second, I think, before the throngs of people around me started to shriek and howl and wave back at him with their hands, towels and little flags, effectively obstructing my view of perhaps one of the Holiest men alive. That pretty much sums up my encounter with my namesake, the Pope.

Fast forward ten years.

JP2 was dead when I woke up Sunday afternoon. Being in the news business, I had followed the news of his health troubles and imminent death since day one with minimal interest. The end was near but it really hadn't sunk in yet, maybe because I was more concerned with job details like providing the writers with the latest medical bulletin from the Vatican or arranging a live phone report with our stringer from Rome or dispatching a news team to a vigil being held in one of the churches here in Manila. So when I turned the TV on and read on BBC the words "Pope John Paul II has died," it still came pretty much as a shock to me. For a full half hour after waking up, I switched back and forth between BBC and CNN, trying to take it all in. Images of St. Peter's Square filled with people, all wanting to express their grief at a man they hardly knew but profess to have had a major impact in their lives; world leaders offering words of sympathy and tribute to a man they said will be "sorely missed;" ordinary people around the world reacting to the news, some in shock and disbelief, others in quiet acceptance; and, finally, of the man himself, wrapped in crimson and white vestments, lying peacefully with his bishop's staff by his side. It wasn't CSI or the Amazing Race, but I was captivated. I couldn't take my eyes off the screen.

And then, without warning, tears started to form in my eyes. Before I knew it, they were falling on my cheeks faster than I could wipe them off with my hands. I just had to feel silly after I pictured myself there sitting alone in front of the TV, crying. But then CNN would show a lone tear-stricken face on TV clutching a rosary and then the crying would start all over again. I don't generally consider myself an overly emotional person, so how is it possible that I was crying over the death of someone I've never even met and who lived on the other side of the world?

And then I came to a realization. Here was a man who for the past 26 years was the spiritual leader of over one billion Catholics all over the world. He visited over 100 countries in an attempt to bring himself closer to his flock. (I can't forget his words when he was asked why he wanted to visit the tiny country of Azerbaijan, who had a total Catholic population of just over 120: "Because it's there"). He played a crucial role in the downfall of communism in his home country of Poland, and eventually, the whole of Europe. He was the only Pope strong enough (and humble enough) to apologize to the Jewish people for not doing enough to stop the Holocaust during World War Two; to those who were tortured and killed during the Spanish Inquisition; and various other groups whom the Catholic Church has wronged during the course of its 2,000-year history. And above all, he was a man who endeared himself to the youth. He never wavered in his belief and respect for the power of young people. And in turn, the youth of the world loved him for it. Including this one.

JP2 and I may have had our differences on various issues, but perhaps the reason I shed tears of sorrow on his death is because I feel like I've lost a member of my own family. I've never been a staunch defender of many of the Church's policies; nowadays, I don't even consider myself a practicing Catholic, but his passing means a great deal to me simply because I believe the world has lost a great leader and an even greater person. Maybe I cried for all the rest of the people in the world who loved him more than I do; I was merely sympathizing with them, crying over their loss. Maybe I wept because he was the only Pope I ever knew, and despite not really knowing who he was and what he did in his lifetime, I am going to miss him.

Whatever the reason, I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried at the death of Pope John Paul the Second. On the contrary, I'm even a little proud of it, mainly because at the very least I've proven, even to myself, that I'm not the cold, uncaring, person I've imagined myself to be. That I can show emotion, even for someone not directly involved in my life, yet someone who has had a profound impact on the rest of humanity.

John Paul's gone, and this Paul John bids him farewell. May he rest in peace.