Art is like beauty, they say is in the eyes of the beholder. But when it comes to recognizing rightful artists and the contribution that they made in the cultural enrichment of the Philippines by way of the National Artist Award, a lot of sentiments, emotions and individual concerns raises up.

Legitimate artists, especially past honorees, of course would want to safeguard the meaning of the honor bestowed upon them by making sure future National Artists would be the ones who rightfully deserve the honor.

Carlo J. Caparas’ and his supporters’ contention is, many Filipinos have benefited from his works, although Carlo was in no other way the one who drew his own comic stories, he just wrote and created iconic Pinoy fictional characters like Panday and Totoy Bato and by virtue of his film directing career, some dude with a penchant for bureaucratic slip up happened to nominate him for the prestigious honor.

Now the question is? does popular culture equates to art? does art goes hand in hand with the numbers of people who have seen (visual art), read (literature) and heard (songwriters) etc etc.

If that contention is accurate then by no means Dolphy should be a shoo-in for next years batch of National Artist award winners.

Given Carlo J. Caparas’ and Cecil Alvarez’s close ties with Malacanang will give any sane minded person to harbor thoughts that it is indeed a way of political payback from Malacanang to these two individuals.

Another question is, do we leave the decisions from the few selected artists who have proven to be worthy and has contributed a lot in our culture?

The prevailing sentiment is we leave it to the latter, but the fault there sometimes is they only tend to name or nominate those who only belongs in their circle. Other deserving artist not included in their circle can be left out as well.

Carlo Caparas and his supporters are contending the importance of the “Majority rule”, he even said that at the time Manila’s population was still pegged at 10 million, about 4 million of whom lined up and saw his movie “The Myrna Diones Story”.

So do we go by the numbers? or the exclusivity of a close knit circle that sometimes exclude other deserving artists?

I guess, both sides is at fault here, while Carlo Caparas can shout hell about the numbers of people who have read Panday, Totoy Bato, watched his films, teleserye and all, STILL, those reasons alone are not enough to prove his true contributions in our country’s art and culture, one still has to study and make arguments about what Panday really stands for.

And the few elite artists, who tends to nominate only THOSE included in their circle should realize that they cannot forever rule the decision making in the naming of National Artists, they should right about now start considering even those belonging outside their clique.

Carlo J. Caparas may be the wrong guy to represent that outsider, but as I write this, he is closely knocking and breaking the barriers and that may prove bad or good whichever you look at it.

Clearly, there is something wrong with the “Majority Rule” as Caparas and his supporters are contending and also something’s amiss at the exclusivity of a governing body that tends only to name fellow “elite” artists to join their own ranks.

Somewhere in the middle might be a good start, a clean, non-politics influenced and discrimination-less nomination process should be started as soon as next year to avoid any debates for future National Artist Awards recipient.

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It’s like in the middle of a battle when the smoke billowed up in the sky and on the ground, lays the dead heroes and the only ones left standing are a few survivors destined to follow the path left by those who perished in the battle.

Cory’s death, meanwhile is a culmination of a long journey towards the search for a better leader of this country. Sadly Ninoy was never able to play the part as he was tragically stopped on the tarmac one August day in 1983.

For while Cory’s leadership was more honest, there are shortcomings brought upon by other factors, outsiders wanting in, endless coup plots, Mt. Pinatubo eruption, the ever unstable Asian economy and those who took advantage of her kindness.

Noynoy obviously lacks the charisma and magnetism of his late father and the magic of Cory, yet as a son of these two modern day father and mother of our country, It is expected that Noynoy should live up to what both Ninoy and Cory envisioned a rightful leader of the Philippines should be able to pull and deliver.

With the lacking of sureball choices among the obvious “Presidentiables” in the coming 2010 Presidential elections, Cory’s death has made it clear that another man should take a major role in aspiring for the top post in this country.

2010 might be too soon for Noynoy, but at least he should be in a position wherein he’s just a reach away from finally, fulfilling what Ninoy and Cory always dreamed and all we ever wish about, which is the Philippines getting the right leader or President it deserves.

Will this feeling of anger at our present leaders and the itch and passion to make sudden changes backed up by this sudden burst of patriotism can survive and gather momentum and snowball into the coming 2010 elections still remains to be seen, Noynoy shouldn’t just let it all out to fate, he should very well step out of his parent’s gigantic shadow and prove once and for all that INDEED, greatness runs in the blood of his family.

AND with that, The Philippines will benefit, thus saving us from having another wrong President for the next 6 years.

R.I.P. Corazon Aquino

August 1, 2009

I was saddened, really. More sad than any other “celebrity” deaths that occurred this year, for Cory Aquino isn’t the ordinary “celebrity”, she was the mother of a nation at a time when we’re searching for a new leader to take us out of dictatorship, she was the widow of a slain hero who offered his life so we can all wake up from the realms of dictatorship.

cory-aquino-headshot

Cory Aquino, thanks for being the rallying figure that eventually paved the way for the realization of probably one of our proudest moment as a nation, the “1986 People Power”.

Cory Aquino – you deserve to be with Ninoy now, I respect what you’ve done, knowing you gave it your best shot to uplift the lives of Filipinos around the country….its just some Gringo has to screw it up…but that’s another matter.

Rest in Peace Tita Cory….

Since it was Sunday today, I decided to arrange my books by authors (paperback) and (hardcover) as wells as graphic novels on one shelf.

I’ve been too haggard coming home from work the past months that i’ve rarely find time to read my books (my backlog ones), last week I specifically told myself that i NEED to get back reading. I NEED to set a time for myself and my books, as well as buying new ones that i like (just yesterday I bought Stephen King’s “Nightmares & Dreamscapes” – which I am now reading).

I am proud of my book collection, most of my salary as a single man are spent on buying books and occasional travel out of town, other than that, I don’t see any other things i spend money for. Which is wise considering I earn just enough to live, breathe and appreciate life in a different manner.

Anyway, here’s how my bookshelf or what I’d like to call as my personal library looks like, most people are proud of their garage (car collection), closet (signature clothes collection), CD racks, basement (collection of dead people haha) but for me, I’m proud of my bookshelf.

These books always gives me company, and safe to say without it, I’m sure I would have gone crazy a long time ago.

The Jack Kerouacs, the Hunter S Thompsons, The Kurt Vonneguts…

And some Kinky stuffs…(books by Kinky Friedman)

The graphic novels section…

Tom Robbins…

Naked Lunch by William Burroughs on the far end..
I took this photograph last November 2008. It’s in Caleruega Church in Batangas near Tagaytay.

It reminds me of the scene in the movie “Platoon”, Willem Dafoe’s character raising his hands up, classic scene alright.

The church on the background gives an eerie feeling, the black and white effect projects a wartime mood, sort of World War II era, the ruins, of Manila or in the European theater of War, Churches were always was the last buildings to go. After all the bombings from air raids, Allied forces were greeted by churches with the crosses still intact.

The weather was fine that day, but the clouds again expresses a mood about everything cloudy, cloudy thoughts or not, this image was like a mirror image of what i’ve been going through that time.

The blurred hand, I can’t remember if i set up the aperture big so it’ll get that blurry effect, still I prefer the finished image, the blurred hands might show that not eveything is spoon fed, the arms or hands that feeds us might not be visible 100%, we might lose it totally, invisible to the human eye but still, it’s there no matter what.

Hand from above, from something more powerful not explained by science nor given exact definitions by any religion. The hand that sort of covers the cross from something powerful enough to destroy it from something sinister.

Or on one hand, one might look at it as a threat to the cross and in the process of destroying it with one swoop, whatever i choose to believe the first message, which is it protects itself from doubt therefore strengthening faith and resolve of man.

I love taking photographs, mostly I take a lot of thrash while a few remains worthy of looking at, but this image never wanes in giving me something to reflect upon.

I am not a religious person, but it somehow reminds me of the importance of safeguarding whatever was left in what we believe, “the hand” that dealt us our fate and destiny is no other than our very own hand.

It’s how you look at the image, whether that hand serves as a protection to anything we believe in or a threat that needs to be crushed BEFORE it destroys, everything we’ve learned, understand, concepts that help shaped our present self.

Damage to Property!

Jack the dog like any normal Labrador likes to get their teeth at something. I buy him those toy bones that costs like 200 bucks and he’d play with it for a few minutes, afterward I’d wonder where the hell it went. Inside Jack the dog’s tummy, I read though that too much of those hurts a dog so I don’t buy him those too often.

So Jack the dog, in between meals will set his eyes on slippers, shoes, sandals that accidentally left within his reach. A carpenter doing work on my brother’s house lost his slippers, it was too late when we saw Jack biting it off to pieces. Fortunately he aint wearing expensive Havaianas, just the ordinary slippers from the nearby market.

The other day Jack the dog bit off something from under my brother’s car, I don’t know what its for, hopefully something not important and can do without.

This afternoon he scratched / bit the paint on the garage wall.

So, I bought him to the Dog Justice Hall, and the canine judge ordered him to be sent to confinement for a week, with suspended privileges like no dog visitors allowed, no phone calls, no playing with other dogs, no playing around the house and looking for things to break and chew, only minimal walk outside for daily exercise and pooh-poooh and weeh-weeh time.

That’s the only time he’ll get out of his cell this week, if random destroying of property continues after, the canine judge (Judge Flipper) will recommend that Jack attend Dog obedience therapy which im sure Jack the dog dreads the thought of attending.

Imagine being surrounded by other dogs, a pit bull who has a penchant for eating other dogs alive, a shitzu who thinks she’s a spoiled princess, a German shepherd who acts like an askal, sharing their experiences. Jack the dog will hate all that.

Hope Jack understands that, he’d have to go slow on chewing stuffs, I know being a Labrador means being hungry all the time. I’m really hoping that he’d be responsible for his actions and learn from it.

How important for some of us to be able to read the “On The Road” novel in its original draft, the legendary scroll typewritten in thick tracing paper (a continuous, one hundred twenty-foot scroll of tracing paper sheets that Jack cut to size) without any paragraph break or whatsoever, taped together by Jack Kerouac to form a figurative road in its entirety, the result of Jack’s “spontaneous prose” fueled by one long arduous burst of creativity spanning 3 weeks in April of 1951.

The legendary first draft of “On The Road” – “rougher, wilder and racier than the 1957 edition”. The original scroll wherein the real characters were named; Carlo Marx is Allen Ginsberg, Dean Moriarty is Neil Cassady and of course Sal Paradise being Jack Kerouac.

What’s special about this “original scroll” edition was the accompanying introductions written by people who have long studied Jack Kerouac as a writer and who have done detailed research about the story behind the creation of “On the Road”. Here, we will read letters written by Kerouac to friends, narrating his visions for a novel that will highlight and point the road, but at times struggling to gather ideas for a novel he yearned to be told. From dead ends in terms of plots, to his own struggles with finding his own style of writing, readers will rejoice as we were taken to a time both prior and during the time when Kerouac eventually found the groove that “sustained (that) burst of creative energy” that produced one of literature’s influential novel of all time.

( from the web )
Jack Kerouac with the scroll
(from the web: the original On the Road scroll at display in a museum.)

It’s a journey really to the time of Kerouac’s personal experience traveling across America and Mexico from 1947-1949, through his passion of writing a novel that will tell it as it is, in his own way of writing which he fondly called as “sketches” in the form of his killer prose and relentless approach and reckless brand of storytelling at times put him nowhere but still, early on, the promise of Kerouac as a writer has already been established and envied by his peers.

Kerouac’s good friend and fellow writer John Clellon Holmes once wrote:

“He wrote long, intricate Melvillian sentences,…I would have given anything I owned to have written such tidal prose, and yet he threw it out, and began again and failed again, and grew moody and perplexed”

Yes, Kerouac grew moody and perplexed at times, but his commitment to writing and driven with his passionate search of ways to help fuel the creativity he knows is inside of him made him what he is today and fulfilled his wish to write a novel that pointed out the road and continue with what he started in his first published novel “The Town and the City” where one of the character states his love of “the sharp pungent smell of exhaust fumes on the highway, and the heat of the highway itself cooling under the stars” Kerouac brought his characters in “On the Road” further into the long highway and unto the experience of their life in search for something, they might never found but has enriched their soul like no one has ever had before.

And yes, I had the copy in my hands right now, I’ve read through the very informative introductions and will soon indulge my soul to the wonderful prose and the story of “On the Road” as Jack Kerouac originally wrote it.

My edited ‘on the road’ copy

Jack the Dog’s US Passport

February 25, 2009

My dog Jack is now a US Passport holder, that means he can now travel to the United States. Unlike me, forever will be denied US Visa by those scheming US Consuls who thinks every Filipinos will just turn TNT, well not all, just about 95% I guess haha.

Here’s Jack’s passport. No, he never stole anybody’s identity haha. I think this will go through US Immigration without any problem at all.

I chose this pic from among these other pictures of him.

This one was rejected because Jack is not looking at the camera and he’s chewing on my brief.

This one too, because he’s in semi-side view, a big no-no for passport pics.

I guess my dog is all set up for globe trotting. I wish he’ll take me on his world travels.

Train Dozzing

February 2, 2009

Every morning I find myself barreled between pack of bodies during rush hour inside the LRT. Sometimes I get lucky and find myself a seat, resting comfortably while others stare down on me, mostly women and elderly, protruding me a plea as if waiting for me to make an act of kindness and offer my seat to them.

Most of the time i pretend to sleep and sometimes i do fell asleep. But based on my experience, whether i doze off in trains or busses or jeepneys, chances are i always woke up just in time for my destination. Some do overslept and you should see their reactions upon waking up, looking out the window and realizing they’re way past their destination, they’ll scamper off in a hurry, still off balanced, still trying to get use to the gravity of the waking world.

People sleep in different positions, inside the jeepney most of the time people sleeps, with one hand on the hand rail, to support their head while it rest on their biceps, you’d see their heads falling off sometimes when they lose their grip thus bringing a comical sight.

Some sleeps with their mouth wide open, unmindful of the bumps and grind of the asphalt road, inside the train or the LRT people sleep even when they’re standing. It seems to me that this method of sleeping entails for you to be half awake and half asleep.

Half of your mind thinks you’re sleeping while the rest of your body thinks it should hold on as to not make you roll over the train floor. I’m a master of that and seems like others too:

Just like this dude on this photo:

And just like sleeping on a comfy bed with smooth white silk sheets, he’s got more than one sleeping positions:

While others sleeps under the guise of thinking about a solution to a problem:

Some just cannot help it but sleep while standing, hoping some kind soul will offer them their seat, but what for, they’re already deeply entombed in the confines of the world of Sandman.

This girl on the next photo was probably wishing, she’d be better off in the women’s section of the train. No gentlemen on this part of the train Miss.

Ooops, who’s this one?

I guess that’s me!

I’m glad that I’ve known you, even for such a short time, even though we never had the chance to hang out outside of work. I’ve heard you sing a lot because I used to sit beside you at the office, but I wasn’t able to watch any of your gigs. Lots of things i now regret, like our planned hanging out at your bar with Mohini. Things like that, that would have made us closer than just being mere workmates.

(taken during our Christmas Party Dec, 08 )
I really thought you’re going to be around for a long time, If only I knew that things such as death can happen to everyone, that soon. But it’s all in the past. Nevertheless I will have great memories of you, from the short time we’ve spent at work to reading your blogs which mirrored your beautiful life.

Anabel, you’re really a friend of everybody. I’ve a witness to that at the hospital and at the many benefit gigs that was organized for you.

Sorry for being pikon the last time you teased me. That was December 29, a few days before your aneurysm.

Thanks for everything.