God bless all the places that were in Hurricane Sandy’s path, including the beautiful spots found by or near the Hudson River. The view from the river gives a tourist a different perspective of NYC: the scale, colors, cultures, urban planning, restoration, architectural contrasts. It’d be a shame if Sandy destroyed all these.
Horror cinema is a monster. Mistreated, misunderstood and subjected to vicious critical attacks, somehow it keeps lumbering forward, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. For some, horror films are little better than pornography, focused purely on evoking a reaction – be it terror, disquiet or disgust – with little thought for ‘higher’ aspirations. For others, they’re just a bit of fun: a chance to shriek and snigger at someone’s second-hand nightmare.
But look again, and the story of horror is also the story of innovation and non-conformity in cinema, a place where dangerous ideas can be expressed, radical techniques can be explored, and filmmakers outside the mainstream can still make a big cultural splash. If cinema itself has an unconscious, a dark little corner from which new ideas emerge, blinking and malformed, it must be horror.
Here are my fave horror films. Most of them should make the cut for ‘the all-time best movies’ list, regardless of genre:
- Rosemary’s Baby (1968). Memorable for Mia Farrow’s pixie cut and the most frightening bunch of old people to appear on film.
- Alien (1979). Also the best blurb: “In space, no one can hear you scream.”
- Birds (1963). The film that heightened my fear of winged creatures and monkey bars. I love Hitchcock’s precise camera work here; the absence of logic, resolution, and lengthy dialogues. Great locale, too. Bodega Bay in Northern California must be a nice place to visit.
- Psycho (1960). The film that’s been dissected and extoled for just about everything (direction, casting, photography, the shower scene, music, design, the mother-son love story, etc.). For me, it’s groundbreaking for its pioneering use of drag as a scary prop.
- The Shining (1980). There’s hardly any gore. The terror is all in your head. Shelley Duvall is brilliantly ugly when she screams. The clickety-clack of Jack Nicholson’s typewriter is so terrifying that you’d thank Silicon Valley for inventing the soft keyboard.
- The Exorcist (1973). In high school, the Salesian priests forbade us from watching this movie. It took two decades before I had the guts to see it. I must have lost 250 calories after watching it.
- Shake Rattle & Roll 2 “Aswang” (1990). I never imagined myself rooting for Manilyn Reynes. When the townsfolk started their ritual for the virgin sacrifice, it felt so real. Proves that all the computer wizardry can’t replace a great narrative and directorial technique.
My friend and co-worker Noel’s studio in Legaspi Village, Makati is all of 50 square meters. ‘Small’ is relative here. His place is big and brimming with creativity.
He started with a design inspiration – photographs of his ancestors from the 1920s. His architect Leah Sanchez (who also helped me with my place) pinned dozens of photographs and letters to the glass dividers. They frame the whole place very cleverly and make for great conversation pieces. Several photos and letters once belonged to Noel’s ancestor, war heroine and pioneering food technologist Maria Orosa (a major street in Ermita was named after her).
The vintage-with-a-twist concept extends to a chandelier of old bottles of Choco Vim, every kid’s favorite drink/baon from the late 60s and early 70s.
Trompe l’oeil frames of old family portraits.
A coffee table with 80s political memorabilia.
The functioning table is made from repurposed drawers.
Noel likes collecting tailless amphibians; so I gave him a pair.
Even his rugs are vintage. He got them from an auction.
Check out the piña table runners he converted into curtains. A costly exercise but it achieved the probinsiya effect that he wanted.
More quirky stuff:
Even his bath is maximalist. I love the mirror and the Charlie Co art on the right.
Even his tiny porch is filled with beautiful things.
He’d have to get the studio next door to fit all his books.
Manila offers endless options for a great dining experience. Right in my neighborhood, I don’t have to walk far to sample sumptuous Cebuano, French, Ilonggo, Persian, Ilocano, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Mexican and Japanese cuisine. There’s just one thing missing: really good, melts-in-your-mouth tonkatsu. It’s not the healthiest thing in the world, but it’s an occasional indulgence. For years, I had been searching for the perfect tonkatsu. Nada – from Quezon City, Little Tokyo, Kamagong to the posh restos in hotels.
The search ended in Osaka. The locals pointed us to Tonkatsu Ganko, a tonkatsuya or an all-tonkatsu place. Ganko’s tonkatsu had the combination I had been looking for: the right amount of fattiness of the pork sirloin, the tenderness of the fillet and the crunchiness of the crumbed coating. The sauce is also just as important. At Ganko, you make it yourself by pounding the sesame seeds, and mixing it with soy and thick Japanese Worcestershire to the level of sweetness and spiciness you desire.
I wonder how Ganko could do it so well. I think the ingredients are key to a great tonkatsu. The sirloin must have been aged from a pig raised without stress. Plus, proper preparation – the right oil, temperature and timing for the crisp coating.
Ganko’s version is further enhance by the fresh and crunch shredded cabbage, and the artful presentation/inter-play of brown, white and green.
I was told someone’s trying to bring in Dean & DeLuca, the high-end gourmet shop. Who needs another deli? Manila needs Ganko!
The weekend trip to Anilao was so enervating that I resolved to do more local travel. I also realized that I made more trips abroad this year than in my country. I did Cebu before that but it was all for work. Should I be crucified then for spending more of what I saved abroad than for local tourism?
As a general rule, should one explore his own country first than experiencing other cultures?
We’ve often heard people say that we ought to learn more about our being Filipino first by exploring the Philippines. Yeah, that’s partly true. But I’ve also gained more understanding about our roots through interaction with other cultures. In a social setting, I like observing how a Filipino behaves versus a foreigner, and all the nuances and deficiencies from either party. I like the self-discovery – leaving all my fears, beliefs and complacencies back home, and seeing things about myself in a different light.
How about the issue on economics? One must support his country more than foreign tourism industries? I pay my taxes diligently. I do my part even if that I don’t get much in return. Since I’m not remiss of my patriotic taxpaying duty, I must treat myself to wherever I want to go.
I also think I can do my country good my traveling abroad and fostering goodwill. I am a Filipino. I am civilized. I don’t live on a tree. I am educated. (I remember an old couple from the Midwest asking me if we had universities in the Philippines!)
Nonetheless, I must travel more, domestically in the coming year. Besides, I’d have fewer vacation credits next year. That’s the only reason, at walang philosophical context.
If I had more time, I’d like to visit these places:
In the last few years, we’ve seen a growing interest in Digital Communications amongst marketeers and admen. I was one of those anxious ones, having spent all of my professional years doing traditional advertising (TV, print, radio and outdoor). Traditional still sells, and still accounts for the largest share of the marketing budget. Yet, online is growing rapidly, at the expense of print and TV. It’s a totally different playing field that I don’t have expertise in, I thought. But I realized that change was inevitable, that it was still communications but with a whole new set of rules. Besides, I had to continue to make a living.
So, the learning curve began, and I’m still raring to learn more. I’m fortunate to be working with very young people from our Digital group. They used to work on the sidelines, always taking a backseat to mainstream media experts. Now, they’re more energized than before, usually on the forefront of strategic discussions, actively guiding us elders through the digital age.
The first step in the digital learning process is to get connected. The quickest way to being carbon-dated as an advertising dinosaur is to shun the Net altogether. One must log on, have friends on Facebook, Tweet, youtube, and scour through everything that the target audience subscribes to – including the shallow and the silly. And this I’ve learned on my own, since the time I’ve been plugged.
I see negative people.
There will always be trolls, lurkers, or however you call people who leave offensive and inflammatory comments or posts. Sometimes, they just love disrupting discussions in forums. They all want to elicit the same reaction from like-minded “friends”. So what motivates these people to behave so negatively?
For most, it comes down to low self-esteem. They turn to social networking thinking it’s a safe haven for genuine empathy and interaction. They crave attention. They egg on people to “like” or agree to their rant, and then convince themselves that the validation they generate proves they’re ok with themselves. But at a deeper level, they know they’re still helpless. All the bitter projecting will not make them feel better about themselves.
So how do you deal with trolls? Kill them with kindness? Do you ignore them like you would a child who’s throwing tantrums? I don’t think it’s that easy. They operate in a different environment, one you can’t control. You’re not their parent after all.
If only they could just log off, face their problems in the real world, and speak with real friends (not with people who live oceans away and who were last seen in grade school). That’s a good time to be off the Internet.
Anilao in Batangas never appealed to me before because I wasn’t a diver. But when my friend Rocky suggested that we celebrate our birthdays in her beach home in Anilao, I immediately agreed even if I didn’t care about one of the Philippines’ most famous marine sanctuaries. I thought it was a chance to get unplugged, eat and drink a lot with dear friends, with no blinking electronic devices to mind.
Rocky and husband Gerry have built such a lovely weekend home.
We stayed in Lilom Resort found at the foot of their home. The time I spent there was the quietest and most relaxing I’ve ever had. The place is most charming, with appointments that are just right – tasteful, comfortable, not overdone.
Nimfa the cook must be the most talented in the whole of Anilao! There was not one dish that we didn’t like. We had comfort food like Inihaw na liempo, Vegetable Kare Kare, Longganisa from Alaminos, Breaded Fried Chicken, Adobo with Eggs, Inihaw na Bangus and local dried fish that looked like danggit (and better-tasting than danggit, too). And Mojitos, the perfect sunset cocktail. I also liked the rice. The Batangas rice variety is better than what most Manila restos serve.
If you want a quick weekend getaway, check out Lilom. I also suggest that you go with enough people to fill up their handful of rooms so you could have the resort all to yourselves.
The resort provides Wi-Fi. But I didn’t bother. It’s more refreshing not to anxiously refresh your FB page when you’re in Lilom. Real joy happens when nothing much happens.
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Lilom’s FB page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lilom-Resort-Anilao/322619627804357
It’s Pinoy craftsmanship at its finest. Check out the Manila F.A.M.E. exhibit at SMX in Mall of Asia. I only have pics of the fashion section. No pictures were allowed for the wonderful furniture stuff. Here’s a link: http://www.philstar.com/nation/article.aspx?publicationsubcategoryid=200&articleid=861170
Please support our local designers. And you don’t have to buy in bulk for the pieces that you like from this set. It’s open to the public until today, October 20th.
Guilty as charged: I’m one of them Asians who like taking pictures of their food. A new website is up documenting Asians who document their meals. But I only keep pics of food that I love. I leave out the steaming hot jasmine rice, or a cocktail drink that looks like a chemistry project. Here are some pics from byte-fuls of culinary indulgence – my non-Pampangan favorite stuff.
It’s always a challenge for someone in marketing or advertising to explain to his parents what he actually does. Every time I visit my mom, she’d ask, What TV commercials have you directed lately? I’m not a director, but I don’t bother clarifying that I don’t shoot commercials. I work with a team, distill client’s marketing objectives, study market forces and competitive scenarios, strategize, brainstorm creative ideas, validate these through consumer research, outsource the production requirements, assess the creative product against client’s objectives, identify the consumer touchpoints where the idea would be best heard or seen by the targets, track its effectivity, etcetera, etcetera. I’d lose them at ‘marketing objectives’. At times I would think, if the job description weren’t as comprehensible as dental work or balancing spreadsheets, my work couldn’t be so significant in the scheme of things.
So I seek validation by visiting Apple Stores.
From Rockwell to Manhattan, you’d witness the triumph of marketing, and the resulting awesome display of consumerism. Possessions make people happy, and usually make them queue for hours. They want to attach themselves to an emotion that marketeers have lovingly conjured.
Oh, some would say it’s unhappiness that’s the driver of consumerism. The fascination with an new iPhone, for example, wears off quickly, and it won’t be long before an Apple fan pines for a newer iPhone. Consumerism is seen as evil then. Destructive. Mindless. Superficial.
I say to those crusading against consumerism, expend your energies on other advocacies. We’re living in a digital age, and finding the right tools to get us properly connected are now as important as a set of braces. And before too much materialism gets to you, spend quality time with your family, and share stories about the work that you do that also enables you to afford to buy the newer iPhone.