Archive for the ‘More Thoughts & Musings’ Category


Miracles Still Do Happen_The Case of Mary Jane Veloso

April 29, 2015

Today, the country is rejoicing. Mary Jane Veloso, our countrywoman, one of the nine individuals convicted for drug related activities and sentenced to death by firing squad was spared from death yesterday. Indonesian President Joko Widodo gave her life temporary reprieve. The best thing that happened in favor of Mary Jane was the surrender of Veloso’s illegal recruiter. There is no warrant of arrest yet for her but she voluntarily went to the police station to seek protection and custody. She has been getting warnings and death threats according to her. Mary Jane will most probably be used as state witness to uncover or pinpoint the real culprits.

The story goes that she went to Malaysia because of an offer for employment by her recruiter cum godsister. But when she reached there, she was told that work would instead be in Indonesia. A luggage was handed to her to carry to Indonesia not knowing that more than two kgs of heroin were hidden in the luggage. It is owned by a Nigerian who was introduced to her by the recruiter. Trustful of the godsister, she agreed to carry it with her. She was caught, That was in 2010. Later, she was sentenced to death, and was scheduled to be executed between 5 pm and midnight yesterday along with eight others from Australia, Indonesia, Brazil and Nigeria.

But many believe that she is innocent; a victim of international drug syndicate, and that she was not given fair trial because of lack of good interpreters and lawyers. Since Saturday when the Indonesian authorities informed the Philippine government of the schedule of her execution, mass actions by migrant workers and sympathizers mounted, collective prayers of citizens, legal and political means were exhausted. Even Manny Pacquiao, who is fighting Floyd Mayweather come Sunday, Manila time, pleaded via a video message to the Indonesian President to give clemency to Mary Jane. It was Mary Jane’s sister who earlier asked Manny to help plead to Widodo seeing the support of the Indonesian people to Pacquiao in his fight against Mayweather.

But I think whatever people say, President Benigno Aquino III did a great job this time. I do not like him. I did not vote for him. I dislike his tendency to blame others, and his tactlessness when he blamed Mary Jane for being non-cooperative in the early stage of her case, saying that upon his return from Malaysia, and just hours before the scheduled execution time. But at least, I do acknowledge that he did something to save Mary Jane. Concerns and actions like this one may help save his dwindling popularity. How I wish he had shown the same concern in the Mamasapano incident where 44 SAF police were unjustly killed! But the President has to be consistent, from this time onwards. There are over 80 cases worldwide of Filipinos who are jailed for one reason or the other. The government’s quick moves and concerns for OFWs are crucial and essential to avoid similar scenarios as Mary Jane’s.

Click below to read the report of JEWEL TOPSFIELD


(SMS) Super[b] Messages S’akin /S’atin

April 17, 2015

I receive a lot of beautiful text messages that are inspiring, encouraging, and enriching. I note down anything that I find worth reading again and again. Although I know that some are available in the market in book form, receiving individual text messages specifically addressed to us at the right moment may lift our spirit up, lighten our mood, make us smile or laugh, be wary or cautioned, etc. A good one helps in changing our moods, makes a gloomy day brighter and above all makes us feel good just at the thought of being remembered.

Time is gold. For someone to think of us even for just a moment, find the time to send or forward their thoughtful messages to us is something we should be thankful for. For in just a click, Sent Messages S‘atin can make distance—between the receiver and the sender—distant no more!

Though I am not a religious person, I like inspirational text messages—those which tell of God and our relationship with Him.

Scam Messages S‘atin — I particulary abhor!


Kids Three 21_Final Final

April 26, 2014

Finally! I got the list of some “clips” to be deleted from Kids… It took three months before the list was given to me. Been wanting to clear my hard disk of raw footage from the project. Nevertheless, I still have to wait for the re-edition to be approved. And that means waiting for another month since Yeye is out of the country.

This year I will most probably turn my focus back to my brother’s collection of writings for publication… the fifth and last volume of his writings in case. It will be for the collection I call the MGA ANI NI GANI Series. If and when published, my “obligation” will be over; my promise accomplished. Sana nga! Sana!


THY WOMB_Cinematic; How About EL PRESIDENTE?

December 30, 2012

Brilliante Mendoza’s Thy Womb’s timeframe is short; Mark Meilly’s El Presidente is long. Literally, the former is shorter in duration; the latter, nearly double its length. The former is an indie film with a budget obviously minuscule compared with the latter which reportedly spent P130 Million to produce. Perhaps because it is a period picture that entailed a lot of costumes, and needed many actors as it covers different phases in our country’s history  –from the latter part of the Spanish period c. 1896-97 [excluding the childhood flashback of young Emilio Aguinaldo] up to time he died in 1964. It is a star-studded film while Thy Womb has but a few actors who so powerfully and naturally acted, you’d feel they were just plucked out from the actual Badjao  community in Tawi-tawi.

Asiong Salonga [DC Version] Director Tikoy Aguiluz, my associate editor Yuka and I were together at Resorts World to watch One More Try hours before the MMFF Award’s Night was to be held . The 10 pm show tickets were sold out however so we just chatted during and after dinner. We first talked about how Tikoy is credited in El Presidente which he hasn’t yet seen. The film actually started with Tikoy’s shot of Aguinaldo writing in his study room. Tikoy is acknowledged as Second-Unit Director which is not proper. Let’s be clear about this. Tikoy was the film’s original director. How can he be possibly acknowledged as such when Meilly was nowhere and was “inexistent” or not in the picture at all when Tikoy shot Nora Aunor’s sequences last July in between post-production of Asiong Salonga 2011? Tikoy was the Director of those film sequences sans Meilly, so why should he be credited as the second-unit director??? Moreover, I asked Tikoy if he shot the meeting of Aguinaldo and Marcela Agoncillo sequence [first appearance of Nora Aunor]. Tikoy replied “No!” She looked so funny in it and she doesn’t reflect the grace of a Marcela Agoncillo. That’s a hilarious scene as it appeared to me. Mukhang ewan si Nora dun, wala akong masabi! Filler na filler ang dating.

Anyway, we ended up talking about Ang Sugo, the 2014 Centennial Anniversary film about Felix Manalo, the founder of Iglesia ni Cristo which Tikoy will shoot  in 2013.

Of the two MMFF entries that I watched, I consider Thy Womb as cinematic gem; El Presidente is a fancy jewel or a raw gem which should have been polished better. Nanghinayang ako sa El Presidente for the following reasons, all subjective of course:

1)      CINEMATOGRAPHY. As I’ve previously posted, I wanted to see the difference between Tikoy and Meilly’s “style. Cinematography is one film element that can give lead to it. As Carlo Mendoza, Asiong and El Presidente’s cameraman himself told me, it is actually what the director wants NOT HIS that shows on the film. It’s the Director’s call in other words. By saying so, I expected concrete differences in Carlo’s work from two different directors. And yes! their style and preferences actually showed. Tikoy’s Nora sequences were said to have been graded to go or balance with Meilly’s because of clear differences.

Tikoy in all his film has always controlled the look, composition and lighting of his film. He is not afraid to demand extreme close-ups and wanted chiaroscuro lighting; the more contrast in light and shadows the better. On the contrary, El Presidente scenes are largely well-lighted, giving it the TV movie quality and look common in our TV network productions. Whether in wide forest shots or on actor’s midshots, you’d feel the presence of lights and reflectors. Dramatic lighting where mostly needed wasn’t maximized to give the proper mood. Nowhere akong napa-WOW [except perhaps in Cecille de Mille wideshot of the fight between the Americans and the Revolutionaries, but not on how the fights were edited predictably with effects]; also the wideshot of the forest when the revolutionaries were evacuating Cavite. Unlike in Thy Womb where handheld shots and close ups, beautifully framed composition, available lighting were used to give the documentary feel, the reality and naturalness of the environment, El Presidente coverages and scene compositions are generally ordinary. In the former, the lighting helps a lot in giving character and texture to the film. The Tejeros Convention sequence for ex. could have been better dramatized if the lighting mood was proper, with Angry Men as a peg perhaps, so that the build up of tension parallels with the rising anger of Bonifacio character as played by Cesar Montano. So does the part when Aguinaldo joined the Katipunan. Dramatic lighting was absent in one of the most important event in Aguinaldo’s life. Cinematography in El Presidente is uneven. In some, there are even loud video noises. Inserting unnecessary photos also contributed to photographic inconsistencies making the segment like an AVP. Choosing Thy Womb for Best Cinematography is right judgment. [MMFF Winner for Best Cinematography: Odyssey Flores, Thy Womb]

2)      STORY / SCREENPLAY – content is epic in proportion, fine! But by putting so much, El Presidente loses a lot more. It gave more emphasis on events, on action scenes to show perhaps the production costs and producer’s expenses. It failed to dramatize more the conflicts of the man, his person, his dilemma, his psyche so that we could have ride with his feelings deeper – his difficulties as catalyst of Philippine revolutionary forces. The highlight of his life is Philippines independence; that’ s what he lived and fought for in the first place, it was his and the country’s turning point. But the build-up is seemingly lacking, it felt like it was just an ordinary sequence in the film when it appeared. The nationalism fervor could have been more sparked, more built up as we see them fight that led to the triumphant waving of our flag, and hearing the national anthem in 1898. Aguinaldo lived during such time when atrocities were committed by Americans, when spies were aplenty. There were lots of room to work on surprise and suspense to make the story more gripping and interesting. If you are not aware of it, there are many secret doors to exit or enter Aguinaldo’s house which could have been utilized to add drama and show the dangerous life our heroes had to go through. After the Spanish period, there’s sense of urgency to finish the film, it is like shuffling of cards fast to bring Nora Aunor onscreen, and who disappeared just as fast, to finish off the movie. Thy Womb’s story is actually a simple love story — what a woman could do for a man she loves so much and wanted to be happy. El Presidente is also a love story, and a more complex one — what a man did for his Mother Country. With the latter’s story complexity, more could have been done to make it better. It had all the chance to be the best but unfortunately meeting MMFF deadline is the culprit. I don’t want to react about the historical accuracies or inaccuracies since they already claimed  that it is either only 95% accurate, or “fiction based on a historical character.” I’ve seen some of the changes but there’s no point talking about them out of respect for the filmmaker’s “creative freedom.” I just wonder how they affect descendants of heroes focused on.  [MMFF Winner for Best Story, Henry Burgos for Thy Womb; Best Screenplay, One More Try]

3)      ACTING – No variations in the acting or performance, even the looks of Jeorge Estregan from the time he pledges as Katipunan member to the time he declares Philippine independence. He is obviously acting; Aguinaldo’s soul or just his aura was not in him except in the few shots taken in his house in Kawit, or when he was already old and rarely some in between when he has no dialogues.  Happily, walang timba nang luha sa puntod [tulad sa Asiong] nang nakaluhod pagkamatay ni Candido Tirona. O dahil wideshot ang kuha? Yun nga lang bakit hinimatay pa? But then there’s a shot while he was in the cabin, wailing…dun kaya??? Ewan ba! Tikoy would prefer silent, and mellowed acting there, I am sure. And I would love to edit out  unnecessary melodramatic acting too. Favorite stances from Asiong surfaced as follows: the way he pointed at the picture of Queen Christina to Baron Geisler, the way he stopped [forgot the character] when two of his men were about to fight and of course, using two guns a la traditional cowboy  [a la Asiong, more so a la FPJ] while fighting when we know that guns were scarce during those days; and just a gun was commonly used. Oh well, “creative license”?

Moreover, I have witnessed that using comedians in serious roles wasn’t effective. As Baldomero Aguinaldo, or Lolo/grandfather of former Prime Minister Cesar Virata, Bayani Agbayani’s first appearance alone elicited laughs, though he wasn’t making a joke. So does, Epy Quizon. In one sequence where Gerald Ejercito as Crispulo Aguinaldo died, his expression with matching slow motion made those seated beside me to laugh and exclaim: Ano ito comedy? [MMFF Winner for Best Actor, Dingdong Dantes; Best Actress: Nora Aunor, Thy Womb]

4)      EDITING – It was refreshing…a sigh of relief for me NOT TO SEE the Fade In/Out to Black that they used to destroy Asiong Salonga. Either narendahan ng director or natauhan sa senseless and stupid use of those devices. Nevertheless, the slow / fast motion and freeze effects in fight sequences were used again, but this time too overly done that they became predictable. They were fine to a certain extent but they should have been sparingly used to maximize the effect and heighten the drama. Another funny cut [just to shorten the already long film perhaps] is when Gregorio del Pilar was shot. He fell down from his horse. Shot on top-angle, hands presumably of the Americans enter frame and shown in the act of destroying his rayadillo or undressing him. That was the impression the shot gave. The problem is: the scene faded out at that point that it gave the impression Del Pilar would be raped. Many in the audience laughed, including me…the historical fact is Del Pilar was divested of his personal belongings. But that’s it, the shot was cut too short it gave another meaning and “malicious” impression to the audience. For every cut that you do, there is a reason…[MMFF Winner for Best Editing,Vito Cahilig, One More Try]

5)      PRODUCTION DESIGN – Costumes, art design in general are good, clearly the art department researched but in many scenes, even at the height of fighting, the general’s uniforms are SOOOOOOOO clean and white, SOOOOOOOOO new that my feeling was that they have just come from the tailor or from the laundryhouse. Niluma man lang sana bago suutin. In fact, among the first trailers the producer came up with and released, it was as if they were advertising Tide bar and soap: “Ano ang mas malinis, mas maputi?” The settings are good; location is the same place where some of the Asiong’s scenes were shot. Moustache in some sequences were not properly glued,  they look they’d fall anytime; or they were just too big for the character’s face, they looked so funny. It has not the naturalness in costumes, and settings of Thy Womb, complementing with the natural acting of the main players that contributed to overall design giving the film its right to win the award. [MMFF Winner for Best Production Design, Thy Womb]

6)      MAKE UP – I don’t know why they won when the first appearance of the “old woman” had been very disconcerting because of bad makeup, so much so that I wished they used a real, old woman there. The same with the actors who were so tidily made up…with faces looking unblemished. Probably, quantity of casts to put the make up on mattered, or in their criteria. [MMFF Winner for Best Make Up, El Presidente]

7)      DIRECTION – My guess was right, it was Best Direction for Brillante Mendoza. Afterall, he succeeded in really making his cast, especially Nora Aunor get into the character and soul of a barren midwife, who worked hard in looking for someone who could fulfill the wish of her husband to have a child. The choice of image sizes, extreme close ups, and handheld movements make the viewers part of their world or become the characters themselves. The use of silence and wide shots when needed; the concentration on the character’s soul; which in Jeorge Estregan as Emilio Aguinaldo, Meilly failed to achieve. There is distance between the audience and the character. You do not get “into” the character.  There is no emphathy. At times, Estregan’s dialogue delivery are so reminiscent of Asiong Salonga, astig ba? There is something missing in Aguinaldo’s character the way he was portrayed. The director has a big hand on this. And with the use of cursive scripts to caption or introduce the scene, the film turned out to be like reading a history book. Kulang na lang ng turning a page or page peel transition.El Presidente is like Baler, only better because of the important subject it tackled. [MMFF Winner for Best Picture, One More Try but Best Direction for Brillante Mendoza; Best Second Picture, El Presidente]

I watched the first screening of Thy Womb at SM MOA with less than 15 people in there last December 26; El Presidente in its second screening with nearly fully packed seats. Kulelat pareho sa takilya ngayon but worth seeing especially Thy Womb which despite winning the major awards, some theaters have pulled the film out because of poor revenues. But I hope many more could watch it, if only to know the culture of our Badjao community… really appreciate La Aunor, and get a surprising treat from Mendoza. For a change!!! Unfortunately, if last year it was grand slam for El Presidente producers who also produced Asiong Salonga, it was probably grand sla_ for them this year for not winning the major awards they were targeting and for sure expecting deep in their hearts. But I still laud them for producing it…as I’ve said, realizing an epic and a dream film is in itself is a big FEAT. Defeating the other purposes for which the film were made is another matter. There are other award-giving bodies, aesthetic values of jurors vary, as well as their criteria. Hope is there for those who didn’t make it this time.

Lastly, I do not know whose bright idea it was to put the Memoirs of Aguinaldo at the the end of the film. By doing so, they have limited or suggested a biased and one-sided version of his life… Di nila naisip yun?


El Presidente_Fiction Film Based on a Historical Figure??

December 26, 2012

By describing Metro Manila Film Festival 2012 entry El Presidente, centered on the First President of the Philippines Emilio Famy Aguinaldo as “fiction film based on a historical figure,” [Click to read Philip Cu-Injieng’s Aguinaldo and his story], by no less than its director Mark Meilly, isn’t there the possibility of exaggerating, NOT treating, even distorting historical facts to serve whatever purpose the filmmaker or the producer want the audience to see, perhaps believe? By saying so, shouldn’t this sever its description as a historical drama film and simply call it a  period movie?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines FICTION [originating from Middle English ficcioun, from Middle French fiction, from Latin fiction-, fictio act of fashioning, fiction, from fingere to shape, fashion, feign] as, 1: something invented by the imagination or feigned; specifically : an invented story; 2: an assumption of a possibility as a fact irrespective of the question of its truth <a legal fiction>; and 3: the action of feigning or of creating with the imagination. [Source:]

If a film is fiction therefore, or as Merriam-Webster defines it, as an “invented story” — though based on an actual historical figure’s life, and a controversial one at that — is it still ethical to use the real name of the actual person and call the film that person’s bio-pic?

Treating something historical — in narrative, documentary or docu-drama form, the creative artist’s way is surely the domain of the filmmaker. But when declared as FICTION, creative freedom or creative license comes in with his personal, or the producer’s prerogatives, “likes and demands” possibly put in. He/they can give reason for any change in the real story, and who’d question that but primarily the descendants of the historical subject who may get offended, or elated depending on their family’s depiction; or the historian’s who are after facts based on evidences. But which is easy to counter by stressing to those who’d question  the truth that it is NOT a DOCU. In other words, those who would demand for truth can be countered by simply stressing on such distinction. Anyone who’d question the truthfulness of events highlighted, the film treatment, and how the director sees the character saves him from criticisms and further questions that may come from those who’d stick to reality. I shouldn’t bother as a viewer to question anything given the fact that the film is fictionalized. Because it is not a documentary film afterall… Why then, should the producer brag about the presence of historians as consultants in their set if the freedom to “invent story,” has been exercised?

Clearly, this sort of a “waiver” is the film’s redeemer as far as content is concerned. Very wise indeed! They can exaggerate or downplay characters, and manipulate truth to suit any particular purpose. Aguinaldo or Bonifacio can be a BIG giant of a hero or otherwise; any character for that matter may be trivialized, even eclipsed depending on what the artist’s imagination has “feigned” or “created.” Everything depends on where he wants to lead the audience or what’s the desired action they want from them. The principle of marketing and advertising to sell a product applies.

Packaging, reinventing and marketing Jeorge Estregan as a REEL hero, like former president Erap Estrada in the past, is very useful for recall purposes when the former aims for a higher government post in the future. This is the bottomline. A pattern is forming…


Thy Womb and El Presidente_2012 MMFF Entries That I’ll Watch

December 25, 2012

I intend to watch Thy Womb by Cannes Film Awardee for Best Director Brillante Mendoza and El Presidente by Mark Meilly. The first one because I loved Mendoza’s “Lola”, and I want to watch a Nora Aunor film. [I walked out though on his film “Kinatay” because of bad projection]. Next, I’ll watch El Presidente where Nora Aunor was directed by Tikoy Aguiluz for the first time. I want to see the difference between the handling of actors of Meilly and Tikoy, and how they see through the lens. What do I mean here? The composition , lens choices, and blocking of characters. I know Tikoy’s films well enough having edited almost all of them. Especially so because I met Carlo Mendoza, both film’s cinematographer last November during the last CineManila International Film Festival. We watched a Thai film together and he told me that differences were there in Tikoy’s and Meilly’s works. He even said that what the directors wanted, not what he wanted came out. Their preferences are clearly perceived; it was the color grader in fact who first saw the difference when the footage from two directors had to be graded.

The last film by Meilly that I saw was Baler which didn’t really struck me. I liked Crying Ladies better. Tikoy managed to get old Aguinaldo’s aura from Estregan’s performance, I wonder how he’d be as young Aguinaldo who was 27 years old when he became President under Meilly’s helm? [Asiong Salonga died at the same age – 27 or 28]. It must have been very, very challenging for Meilly to “exorcise” Asiong out of Estregan’s “system.” It is because I saw remnants of Asiong’s action in Jeorge Estregan’s El Presidente trailer; he was firing using two guns – “a la Fernando Poe;” the same action he added in Asiong’s for those who have already forgotten it. Understandably, it must have been one of his dream actions to be a “hero,” and who wouldn’t want to be, especially if it is your film production? Both roles were played by Estregan who is much older than the two. Kaya challenging din kay Gov..

Baler and El Presidente are of course incomparable. The latter would and should have more action and drama, Aguinaldo’s life being action-packed. I also hope that Bayani Agbayani transcends his image as a comedian. Playing as Baldomero Aguinaldo, Lolo of Ex-Prime Minister Cesar Virata must have been a real challenge for him. I hope he doesn’t make the audience laugh; otherwise, it’s EPM Virata who’d first to cry!

Anyway, Emilio Aguinaldo’s life is quite familiar to me having worked with my Cavite historian brother Isagani R. Medina who made extensive researches on Aguinaldo and Cavite’s local history. I was in fact, his main assistant: field photographer and researcher, proofreader, book layout artist, encoder, etc. The 1996 Centennial Edition of his 824-page book, Ilang Talata tungkol sa Paghihimasik (Revolucion) nang 1896-97 was the last book he edited, annotated and published. We worked on the book for two years. I shot hundreds of photographs for that particular book. Some of my memorable experiences in the book’s preparation was the actual handling of “Acta de Naic” or the Naik Agreement document from the collection of Jose P. Santos and Atty. Jorge de los Santos. I remember that my brother took a lot of time as he painstakingly tried to identify the signatories. I also personally touched to photograph the transcript of records of Dr. Pio Valenzuela at the UST Archives. I had goose bumps when I touched the transcript on thick parchment paper. I never imagined in my life that I would one day be able to hold them. Anyway, I have learned that Emmanuel “Manny” Calairo is on board as its Supervising historian, that’s great! I am quite happy about it. Knowing him personally from his undergrad days, being my brother’s student, and a follower of his ideas, historical writing style and methodology which can be gleaned from the first books he wrote and published, i.e., the book on Kawit, there is less to worry about the historical facts that would be put in the film. Manny is also an alumni of Metro-Manila College in Novaliches founded by my brother-in-law Dr. Mamerto Miranda, Jr. and later run by our eldest sister, Dr. Ligaya M. Miranda.

But our experience with Asiong Salonga last year where the producer’s so-called film ownership license made them bypass the intellectual property rights of a director, doing as such what they wanted on that basis and belief, completely disregarding the director, and what is surfacing as artistic license to change fact is what I am worrying about. Nevertheless, I respect the artistic license of a creative artist, to what extent it will be used when treating not only a historical but a controversial character is something we have yet to see. It is a crucial matter though. But I hope compromises were made and decisions done with Meilly’s rights respected. That’s important!

With the coming centennial birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio next year, El Presidente will enhance better Bonifacio’s actual role in the Revolution. If facts are presented the way they should be, Aguinaldo will be better understood by the Filipinos especially the youth, that is, if they would accept facts based on evidences, and if they were not done in exaggeration. Like in my brother’s article, “Aginaldo para kay Aguinaldo,” I expect them to highlight – Aguinaldo as Father of the Philippine Flag, the National Anthem and therefore, Father of Philippine Freedom.

I have browsed on El Presidente’s original script which Tikoy asked me to read; and Meilly’s as well sometime last August. Both end with bullets of events. But it is my hope that that’s just on paper as I have great hope for the film’s potentials because of the story and its milieu. It is not surprising that the film is said to be two-and-forty minutes long; if needs be, it can be longer. For as long as they give way to Gov’s dramatic, but not melodramatic action. Let his action speak loud not the edit or useless visual effects. If an edit distracts, that only means there is a problem, guys! But that will only happen pag nakialam na naman ang mga producer. Pabayaan nyo ang direktor, pwede ba?

Nevertheless, I congratulate Gov Jeorge Estregan for finally producing and realizing his dream film…That in itself is a FEAT! Now, we’ll see where feat and defeat comes in if at all… On Apl  de Ap take — I don’t think it succeeded. It’s off the film’s beat! Hindi bagay. For the youth they say. What works on one, may not work on the other, the Asiong formula didn’t seem to work this time. Even the music theme of Asiong, La Paloma by Ely Buendia, caught on like wild fire or viral once uploaded. In fact, you may, or may not believe it, but up to now, searches on Asiong Salonga still daily land on this blogsite.


Weekly Writing Challenge: Shift Your Perspective / Self or the Masses?

December 5, 2012

She loved Domenikos Theotocopoulus or El Greco, Robert Delaunay, Willem De Kooning, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Pablo Picasso. Some influenced her painting style in her early attempts to paint…


Above are some of her works that were spared from the fire that burned down their house in 1998; they luckily happened to be in her sibling’s residences.


Portrait Sketch of Mother before she Died in 1999

But for whatever reason only God knows, she was led to the less trodden path — of documenting in film, materials and subjects untouched for years, either because of lack of interest in them, or her subjects are marginalized. She stopped painting altogether as the passion for advocacy film making grows.

TIga and Alyana

[L] A historical docu film on the socio-cultural life of the island inhabitants before World War II; the last island held on by the Americans before surrendering to the Japanese in 1942. It concludes with an anti-war sentiment; [R] The first local feature-length digital film on autism in the Philippines that advocates for inclusion and mainstreaming of persons with autism.

“Any regrets for the detour?” I asked myself.
And so many times in between asked God: “What do You really want me to do?”

And I always end up with a smile you know.

Ptg in Nova As I come to think that paintings are appreciated only by the few who happened to collect or own your work; at the most by the owner’s visitors who drop by at their house. I have witnessed the BIG difference. Documentary films reach out to hundreds, at times to thousands of people in one screening day because of digital technology. Comparatively, I never saw anyone shed a tear looking at my paintings; they get puzzled in fact. They ask a lot of questions. They find it difficult to see what I saw. Racking their brain, in a way training them to see beyond mere forms I think is quite challenging for them. Often than not though, communication fails. And when that happens, there is no give and take between me and the viewer, between you and me. It becomes a one-on-one activity. It serves only the Self. The viewer does not matter. You cease to exist. It is simply art as self-expression; it is self-serving.

But I saw lots whose hearts were touched by the truth my film for example on autism presents. As such, docu film making has since then become my most fulfilling activity in life. When we hop around towns and cities to spread autism and deafness awareness to our citizens who still believe in cultural myths that outcast persons with disability in our society, and the outcome is clearly paradigm shifting of attitude towards them by some, not necessarily all the viewers, there is the sense of triumph not only for myself but for my subjects. Sharing what I have learned is a two-way process with rippling effect at times. I learned from my subjects; others have learned from what I have learned.

SO and Rizal

Docus that advocate for the respect and recognition of Deaf Filipinos’ Linguistic Human Rights and the right to choose the language that would give them their cultural identity.

There’s that unexplainable joy of being able to attain my goal, in easily getting my message across to the target viewer. The experience is quite rewarding. In both modes – painting and docu film making – I have something to say. But in the latter, many people benefit. From Self to Society, that’s quite a leap. No regrets whatsoever!

Pitz & Fort

Drawing practice last week

Nevertheless, whatever I do now, there is still that remote dream of again dabbling oil colors on canvas. I therefore struggle to get back to basic drawing –a skill that needs to be practiced if at all confidence to paint has to be regained.


Life was Much Simpler when APPLE & BLACKBERRY were just Fruits

November 21, 2012

My Indian bandhu brother Dharam Gulati keeps on forwarding me inspirational messages, here’s the latest from him. Summation is to Enjoy Life Now – It has an Expiration Date!


The Joy of Sharing_Advocacy filmmaking

October 27, 2012

Sense of fulfillment. Joy of sharing ideas and information. Psychic rewards. They are not BUY-products. But they are what I earn and my gains whenever I manage to finish ONE advocacy film. Since it’s always a struggle for me to make a film because of lack of means and support, a TRIUMPHANT feeling automatically wraps my being when I finally get to publicly show and share it to the society, specifically meant for our people.

That is what even my best of friends cannot understand and find quite difficult to accept. Making personal films that advocate for a cause – not to entertain them but to present realities that tend to separate us from the marginalized sector that I focus my lens on. However, sharing my experiences to those who do not even know me but are spongy enough to absorb and go deeper with me as I traverse different worlds that lead to their appreciation and learning at the same time is JOY.

In the two-day seminar-workshop on visual research methods that I attended day before yesterday, I talked about my films that focus on autism and deafness in the Philippines; my historical documentary with anti-war sentiments, and showed snippets from a commissioned short film on Non-Handicapping Environment that touches on persons with disability problems because of partial or non-compliance of the Philippine Accessibility Law. With the currently raging issue on what sign language to use in the Philippines – whether Signing Exact English [SEE] that fully uses American Sign Language [ASL], or Filipino Sign Language, an ASL-influenced sign language form, Silent Odyssey, made four years ago, becomes quite relevant as it stresses on, and upholds/advocates for the use and recognition of FSL as the national sign language of Deaf Filipinos. Pounding more on the issue is the first-ever interpretation in Filipino Sign Language of five nationalistic and most popular poems of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal [1861-1896]primarily made to provide Deaf access to information.

The decision to take and pursue the film making path that advocates for the cause of sped/PWDs – subjects which some of my friends find gross – was caused by Alyana, the docu sparked by a niece with autism. They used to ask, “Why don’t you make drama films with known “stars”? Ahh! What can be more dramatic and poignant than dealing with real lives, real people? Anyway, they finally got tired and quieted down.

There are no pecuniary gains from advocacy filmmaking as I’ve earlier said. It’s just enjoying a more meaningful existence for oneself, and yes, the joy of being able to share the experiences from the long, sometimes arduous journey of having to run after people considered “Others” by narrow-minded individuals. It’s a give and take process. I learn, then share knowledge, thoughts, and feelings. It’s a point of no return.

Advocacy filmmaking, anyone?


Stray Cats

October 5, 2012

I used to see a fish vendor who had five to seven adopted stray cats. Because there are so many of them, I also witnessed how they fought over a fish for their food. Now that I have closely reviewed their fotos and studied their features, I saw scars and expressions of a difficult life in their faces. They sadly reminded me of street children in our cities and how similar their fate and conditions are. However, amidst the inevitable fight for survival, there are times when love and friendship dominate. The world is full of poignant moments such as these ones.

Ready to Fight the World!

When there is Love, there is Harmony

Notice that the cat on the right is blind.

The same cat above is now more somber. Our white cat Oliver is also a stray cat and we have adopted him for good!  He looks like this cat minus the bruises.  But instead of blue, he has yellow sclera.

Now, I do not see the fish vendor anymore neither any of the cats above.