The 14th French Film Festival here in Manila is now on-going and here’s the screening schedule:

June 5, Friday
Home – 7:30 p.m.

June 6, Saturday
Un Secret- 12:30 p.m.
Ca Brûle – 3:00 p.m.
Jean de la Fontaine – 5:30 p.m.
Van Gogh – 8:00 p.m.

June 7, Sunday
Home – 12:30 p.m.
Marie-Jo et Ses Deux Amours – 3:00 p.m.
Flandres – 5:30 p.m.
Ma Saison Preferee – 8:00 p.m.

June 8, Monday
Van Gogh – 12:30pm
Flandres – 3:30 p.m.
Ca Brûle – 5:30 p.m.
Zim et Co – 8:00 p.m.

June 9, Tuesday
Zim et Co – 12:30pm
Marie-Jo et Ses Deux Amours – 3:00 p.m.
Flandres – 5:30 p.m.
Jean de la Fontaine – 8:00 p.m.

June 10, Wednesday
Ca Brûle – 12:30pm
Home – 3:00 p.m.
Van Gogh – 5:30 p.m.
Un Secret – 8:30 p.m.

June 11, Thursday
Dix-Sept Fois Cecile Cassard – 12:30pm
400 coups – 3:00 p.m.
L’esquive – 5:30 p.m.
La Pianiste – 8:00 p.m.

June 12, Friday
Sabongero – 3:00 p.m.
Serbis – 5:30 p.m.
Independencia – 8:00 p.m.

June 13, Saturday
Ridicule – 12:30 p.m.
Dix-Sept Fois Cecile Cassard – 3:00 p.m.
L ‘Esquive – 5:30 p.m.
Flandres – 8:00 p.m.

June 14, Sunday
Un Secret – 12:30pm
Jean de la Fontaine – 3:00 p.m.
Les Quatre Cent Coups – 5:30 p.m.
Van Gogh – 8:00 p.m.

Months ago, I was about to write a blog entry for Francis Magalona to encourage readers to support his fight against leukemia. But as I research about him, I stumbled upon his request that his battle not be made too public and his family’s privacy be respected. So I decided not to proceed then.

Until the time to write a tribute came. Francism once wrote on his blog that, “I guess if we just loved our country so much we would be willing to die for it. I would. But a dead me is a useless me. I am more useful alive…”. I beg to disagree though. I believe that any dead person who lived a life relevant to society serves as an inspiration for everyone to be just like him. And the Master Rapper is one of those.

Arguably, Francism’s musical career boom started when he popularized rap music in the Philippines through the nationalistic tune of “Mga Kababayan” in 1990. This moralist approach, a broader definition of nationalism, to Philippine society fits my generation well that time. I was in grade school then. His songs, album after album, became more mature as he ventures into other social approaches; from Ito ang Gusto Ko’s direct action to Nilamon ng Sistema’s social realism.

And then high school days came, Francism is still there. And he is one of those who never succumbed to the artificial war of hiphop and metal. I know a lot of the former teenagers of that time knows what I’m talking about. Despite being in such a situation, the Man from Manila dared to unite the music of the two factions. He set-up the Psychedelic Posse for the hip-hop kids and the Kannabiz Band (I don’t know if this was eventually the Hardware Syndrome during the mid-90’s) for the children of metal. His wife Pia’s Evil Step-Sisters, then, added the soul flavor to his music.

It is with his daring and no non-sense attitude that Francism gained the respect of Filipino musicians from Masta Plann to The Dawn, from APO Hiking Society to Joey de Leon. No wonder that, time and again, he was being invited by a lot of artists to be a guest on their albums and shows. The Eraserhead-song Superproxy is one of the most famous of these.

Even after the Eraserheads’ break-up in 2002, the Master Rapper remained true to his unifying ideals. He resisted the temptation of taking sides and continued to collaborate with each of the Philippine Fab Four individually.

And when Ely Buendia had a heart attack in 2007, he is the first celebrity to publicly raise the call of Eraserhead unity. His now-popular blog entry is supposedly the opening sentence of my blog when I learned of his leukemia and this is how it goes:

“Fast forward to right now, 9:58 am, Jan. 9, a lot of what if’s scenarios pop in my head. What if the E-heads members are back, like long-lost blood brothers? What if ‘the most significant OPM band of Pinoy Rock’ would be in one room, what would happen?… Para sa akin panahon na para mag-reunite ang E-heads. Sugod na mga kapatid…rock & roll na hanggang umaga.” 

One of the most difficult things to measure is how anyone influenced society. We really don’t know if Francism’s earlier patriotic tunes influenced the massive mobilizations against the US Bases that led to its ejection in September 1991. We really don’t know how his blog entry made the Eraserheads’ forget about their differences and give reunification a chance. Well, there are no meters nor celsius for influence measurement.

Surely though, we have someone to thank for the influential music he gave us.

Francis M is dead. Long live Francis M!

During one of my visits at the Kaisa Headquarters in time for the upcoming USC Elections in UP Diliman, Sanlakas Youth Vice Chair BJ Costales introduced three of his slatemates for an orientation to our organization.

They are BJ’s co-councilor Jose Alinea of the College of Engineering, Tourism Representative Sheena Botiwey and Science Representative Gino Leynes.

Each one of them exudes a leader’s presence at first glance and they were eventually recruited to Sanlakas Youth.  I had a couple of chit-chats with each of them hours after but Jose’s story is the most interesting for me. His story speaks alot of his character.

Jose is one of the living reasons why the tuition increase should not have been approved two years ago. He is also one of the greatest arguments in support of the assertion that the STFAP has never been effective to aid poor-but-deserving students in pursuing UP education.

This Sta. Rosa Science High School alumnus told me that both his parents are unemployed. His mother was actually problematic about his college education after he failed to qualify for Bracket C of the STFAP. So despite his family’s obvious difficult condition, UP is still requiring him to pay 600 pesos per unit.

It is a good thing though that through his intelligence and diligence, he managed to be a scholar of the Department of Science and Technology.

But I’ve never seen him as a grade-conscious student. All the support that he is getting from his officers and co-members from the Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers speaks a lot how active he is.

And as we unify Kaisa member-organizations about a disqualification case against his and some of his slatemates’ candidacy, it turned out that NCPAGSC Vice Chair Jhai Galenzoga is one of his dormmates, at the Yakal Residence Hall, and she was disheartened of the possibility of UP students being robbed of the opportunity to vote someone like Jose.

“Napakasipag na bata pa naman ni Jose,” Jhai disappointedly commented. Well, as a frequent visitor of the Kaisa HQ and as a keen observer of candidates’ behaviour, I must agree.

That same day that I managed to inform Jhai of the disqualification issue, Kaisa marched towards Quezon Hall and met with another party, Stand UP, to protest the said USEB decision.

The unity of Kaisa and Stand UP that night bore fruit as it produced enough pressure to make the USEB decide in favor of the supposedly disqualified candidates including Jose.

That night, cheers reverberated at the Kaisa HQ in celebration of that victory. And as I observe all of them, Jose is there silently smiling in his usual unassuming way.

I hope he is thinking that it is a good thing that he is now given a chance to fight for the rights of students like him; of working class origin.

I received this nice and timely parody of Levi Celerio’s Ang Pasko ay Sumapit from an electronic mail group. The unknown author said this seems to be what’s playing in Jocjoc Bolante’s mind as of the moment:

ang Pasko ko’y sumabit
ngunit `di pa rin aawit
kahit sa magdamagang hearing
dahil, diyos ko, ako’y may feeling

kung ako ay magsiwalat
may tatlong pari na dadalaw
at ang bawat isa’y
may ihahandog na dasal pang-patay

bagong taon kala’y bagong-buhay
humingi ng asylum du’n kay Uncle Sam
ako ay nagsikap upang di makita
ginawa ko para kay ma’am!

ayaw ko talagang umawit
balak ko lang ay tumahimik
kalusuga’y naiipit
kapag namatay, bagsak ko’y di sa langit

St. Luke’s pa naman may kamahalan
kaya inyong sundin `tong gintong aral
kung mabubuking kayo
sa probinsya magtago,
`wag nang mangibang-bayan!

1. The movie was graded an A by the Cinema Evaluation Board, the highest score possible.

2. Critics and filmmakers around the world (France, United States, India, China and Singapore) took turns in praising this motion picture and showcasing it as part of their own International Film Festivals.

3. High caliber character actors like Ronnie Lazaro, Joel Torre and Jojit Lorenzo accepted the roles with little exposure and dialogue given to them. Seemingly a testament to their faith in the movie’s quality.

4. Cuyonon actors were trained and hired to add authenticity to the film. All of the actors and even the major players in the crew has Cuyonon buddies to guide them as they film every scene.

5. Dante Nico Garcia is an authentic local of Cuyo Island who studied in UP and became Judy Ann Santos’s friend during her Mara Clara days. Dante grabs this rare opportunity to save the dying Cuyonon language. This is also his birthday gift to Judy Ann.

6. This movie made Judy Ann Santos transcend her soap opera image.

7. The film’s cinematography is simply superb. It is a visual candy that provides us an opportunity to know that the Philippines’ environmental beauty is beyond Boracay and Mayon.

8. Aside from the beauty of the island, Cuyonon’s rare culture was made public in the film.

9. It is seldom that a film that shows some tragedy would also be labeled by a lot of people as a feel-good movie.

10. This film is a saving grace for a dying local movie industry marred by traditional conservatism, censorship, dirty politics and commercialism.

When I saw the headline on inquirer.net about Binay’s supposed announcement, I actually thought it is another version of the joke (a racist one at that), that he is facing the challenge, purportedly inspired by Obama’s success, of being the first Philippine “black” president.

It turned out that the leader of the United Opposition is serious about his bid on being the country’s chief executive. While celebrating his birthday, his supporters, according to reports, are waving yellow banners with the slogan “Makati ngayon, Pilipinas bukas” (Makati now, the Philippines tomorrow).


Almost all of my friends already know that religious traditions, like undas, are rare in my system and everyone knows the reputation of Pampanga in culinary matters. So my Pampanga trip, I filed a vacation leave for it, became a feast for my peptic juices especially since October 31 and November 2 are my mom’s and grandma’s birthdays.

Imagine 3 days of non-stop eating. From the very first steamed talangka (crablet) served by the time we arrived on the morning of my mom’s birthday to the fresh tilapia and hito (catfish) we grilled and fried.

Viands as ordinary as lumpiang shanghai and as exotic as calderetang bibe (duck). Sweets like maja blanca and ubeng calamay aside from the usual merienda of spaghetti, pancit canton, pancit bihon and siopao. Ice cream (Coffee Crumble and Very Rocky Road) were also bought as requested by the kids. My brother-in-law also cooked some Japanese snack of vegetables and squid, the name of which sounds too awkward for me to remember. A hot bowl of Sinigang na Baboy sa Bayabas is not bad to cap those three days, right?

No wonder Ikkang sarcastically told me that I might be 30-pounds lighter by the time I got back here in Manila. My girlfriend is wishing aloud.

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