A Really Good Movie with a Rather Boring Title: a review of Pride.

Seriously, a title like “Pride” isn’t the most engaging thing one can call a movie. It isn’t enough to hint at how heartwarming and inspiring the story of a group of gay activists who decided to help a small mining town.

It’s 1985 in the UK. Immediately after a Pride March that surprisingly had fewer police presence, a group of gay activists realized where the police were putting their attention in: a recently started protest of British miners. These activists decided to raise money to help protesting miners as show of solidarity. Just like the miners, gay people have experienced oppression from the government. The idea was not met with enthusiasm at first, but after several attempts, the activists were able to get in touch with a small Welsh mining village where many residents joined the protests.

The touching thing about Pride is how it effectively showed how the struggles of one underprivileged group is not that different compared to another. The people of the village had mixed reactions to a group of gay people approaching them for help; back then, gay people very rarely identify themselves in rural areas because doing so result in heavy discrimination.

Not unexpectedly, most villagers had strong opposition, at first. But because of persistence and some initial straight allies, the relationship between the gay activists and the village, and eventually the miners, warmed up.

Pride (2014) movie poster

Pride essentially was a dramatization of one of the early victories of LGBTQ activism in the UK. It happened when two seemingly separate groups realized their common struggle and committed to support each other. The climax of the movie was a very heartwarming show of that commitment: I got some goosebumps when I saw it.

But within this larger plot of worker and gay rights, Pride also wove little stories of each character. Just as important as the ideals that these people fought for are the humanity and individuality of each person: their individual struggles.

The popular narrative within gay activism these days is that of love and the equal dignity of LGBTQ love. Pride distances itself from this narrative; several characters are shown with romantic partners but no conflict was introduced because of those relationships. The movie instead highlighted fellowship, brotherhood and sisterhood, camaraderie, and chosen families. That gay people are also part of the common human experience.

Reimagined History: A review of Heneral Luna.

At the beginning of Heneral Luna was a reminder that the movie is a work of fiction based on historical events. That certain truths about history are better understood by mixing fact and imagination. It was a curious disclaimer that made me a little uncomfortable. Was Heneral Luna more interested in recreating history, or was it commenting on what we’ve been told as history?

Heneral Luna dwelt on the life of General Antonio Luna, particularly during the beginning of the Philippine-American war, immediately after Spain sold the Philippines to the United States. Early on, the movie did not hesitate on its depiction of American imperialism. But even more than the Americans, the movie has very little good to say of many of the Filipino leaders from that era, such as the Caviteños.

Especially the Caviteños.

A quick scan on the biography of Antonio Luna can help one determine the liberties the movie took in presenting his life. The movie carefully avoided cramming the entirety of his biography beyond the war against the Americans. The general’s backstory was presented through a magnificent flashback that looked as if it was a long one-take shot.

The flashback was probably the best part of the movie; to be fair, it wasn’t at all lacking of good parts. Another standout sequence was an extended argument between General Luna and General Mascardo: the clever editing allowed a seamless flow of dialogue despite the two being in different locations and communicating via telegram and messengers.

The movie did not avoid depicting the general’s many flaws: his famous temper, his arrogance, his lack of skill in political maneuvering.

If there was something to complain about the movie, it was, ironically, the battle scenes. For a movie set during a war, the scenes in the trenches were quite underwhelming. The movie was a careful balance of drama and comedy, and the combination worked well, for the most part. But it felt like there was too much comedy during those battle scenes, taking away the gravity of war.

It didn’t help how General Luna would appear bullet-proof during these scenes, standing openly without protection while everyone else is huddled and hiding themselves from bullets. And yet the general was not hit, despite several of his men getting fired; one very gorily so. Even in history books, Luna was one of the most badass of the Philippine heroes. But his movie version cranked it up further.

Another intriguing detail the movie added but was content in leaving it as a joke were the inclusion of women soldiers. Outside the sequence where those brave women appeared, the rest of the Philippine military were decidely all-male. It was quite frustrating how that opportunity to depict the bravery of Filipinas was diminished to a mere gag.

Heneral Luna movie

These minor complaints aside, Heneral Luna is still worth watching, especially now when complacency and armchair activism are fashionable among Filipinos. The movie argues that what lost the war was people’s inability to see beyond their self-interests. It’s a lesson that is just as relevant now as it did a century ago.

“Heneral Luna” was written by E.A. Rocha, Henry Hunt Francia, and Jerrold Tarog. Starring John Arcilla, Mon Confiado, Arron Villaflor, Joem Bascon, Archie Alemania, Epi Quizon, and Nonie Buencamino. Directed by Jerrold Tarog.

Sometimes, we should also judge a book by its cover.

This should be an interesting lecture. Too bad it coincides with my weekly Nihongo class.

Never Say 'Never Judge a Book by Its Cover'

Filipinas Heritage Library presents The Printed Word

Never Say “Never Judge a Book by Its Cover”
a lecture and exhibition by Dr. May Jurilla

14 March 2015 | 3:00PM | Ayala Museum 2F

On the history of the book cover, its function, its art and impact. Of special interest to publishers, graphic designers, authors, readers, and anyone who has ever cared for the look of the book.

P300 regular rate | P150 discounted (students, teachers, librarians, senior citizens, and members)

Contact:
759-8288 loc 45 or 36
asklibrarian@filipinaslibrary.org.ph

Philippine history as told by #RP612fic.

One of my favorite Twitter memes happens every year during the Philippine Independence Day.

#RP612fic (Republic of the Philippines June 12 fiction) was the brainchild of Paolo Chikiamco in 2009. During Independence Day, Twitter users post single-tweet stories of alternate histories of the Philippines.

Coming up with a good story in less than 140 characters (the hashtag should be included in the tweet) is quite challenging, but a lot of Twitter users rise up to the challenge admirably. You see tweets referencing famous (and not-so-famous) historical events, reimagining historical figures interacting with modern technology, and even re-imagining Filipino literary works (like the Rizal novels, Florante at Laura, or Ibong Adarna). A lot of the tweets are pop cultural mash-ups, but some remain true to the speculative fiction roots of the meme (like this beautifully illustrated story from Gerry Alanguilan).

This is the second year I’ve joined #RP612fic. Since it’s often difficult searching through the Twitter archives, I’m posting the tweets I posted this year:

  • “Yes, it was me who did it,” admitted the tearful senator on national television. “I hereby render my resignation.” #RP612Fic *
    1:03 AM 12 Jun 2014

* I should’ve used “tender”, not “render”; but I rarely bother editing my tweets.

  • 2054: Filipino netizens celebrate “Matuwid” PNoy, the inspiring leader who tamed Philippine politics and restored public trust. #RP612fic
    5:45 AM – 12 Jun 2014
  • Archaeologists puzzled over the fossil skeleton recovered from a Benguet mine. It appeared human-like, except for the horse skull. #RP612fic
    2:27 PM – 12 Jun 2014
  • After a momentous Vatican decision, the Philippines remained the only nation that outlawed divorce. #RP612fic
    2:35 PM – 12 Jun 2014
  • During his oath-taking speech, former actor Pio Pascua came out as the first gay president in Asia. #RP612fic
    2:38 PM – 12 Jun 2014
  • After heated discussions and (a some moments of physical violence), Congress was still divided on the National App Bill. #RP612fic
    2:50 PM – 12 Jun 2014
  • Experimental psychic beacons gathered Leftists in Santolan, to be gassed by the military. It was known as the 1986 EDSA Massacre. #RP612fic
    3:31 PM – 12 Jun 2014
  • The long-abandoned pit in Ortigas is deathly quiet. Except for an occasional hiss, like from a giant snake. #RP612fic pic.twitter.com/AZGkXGtSUg **
    6:00 PM – 12 Jun 2014

** This had the most favorites and retweets from my #RP612fic posts (among them Paolo Chikiamco — I’m still a little giddy from it). Probably because of the reference I made to an Ortigas urban legend that was very popular during the 1990s. The idea of using this construction site has been in my mind for some time now; it was fortunate that I passed by the area yesterday and I was able to take a photo to accompany my story.

  • The giant kaiju is destroying Manila.

    “Mary, help us,” whispers the General as he activates the Monolith. #RP612fic pic.twitter.com/CTtiqsfLRB
    6:22 PM – 12 Jun 2014

  • Rumors were confirmed! It was revealed that VPres Enrile, grandson of the former Senator, was actually JP Enrile in a cloned body. #RP612fic
    8:38 PM – 12 Jun 2014
  • https://twitter.com/crazyangelblue/status/477067460441804800

  • Little Pepe was grounded after his mom found out that her favorite pair of Manolo Blahnik was thrown in the Pasig River. #RP612fic
    9:10 PM – 12 Jun 2014
  • https://twitter.com/crazyangelblue/status/477075363856928768

  • “My phone was stolen,” explained Emilio Jacinto when his intimate videos with Andres Bonifacio became the latest public scandal. #RP612fic ***
    9:31 PM – 12 Jun 2014
  • https://twitter.com/crazyangelblue/status/477080787591102465

*** Because I think they are among the cutest slash-pair from the Philippine revolution.

As much fun as it is writing tweet-length fiction, what’s even better is reading through the various submissions: laughing at the historical jokes, being satisfied at noticing the references, and admiring the creativity of many Filipinos on Twitter.

Thank you, Paolo Chikiamco, for coming up with #RP612fic. It’s a great way to celebrate Independence Day, whether you believe in Philippine independence or not.

In the Philippines, professional fortune-telling is a criminal act.

Today I received a message from Sulit.com.ph about an ad I recently posted that they removed:

Upon further evaluation by our team along with our legal advisers we were able to confirm that the ad/services provided are not in accordance with the Philippine Law Art. 318. Other deceits and it is due to this that we are obligated to comply by taking down the said advertisements.

The ad (which Sulit did not bother to identify) was advertising tarot reading services for events, parties and social gatherings emphasizing tarot reading as entertainment.

The Hanged Man from the 'Gringonneur' or 'Charles VI' Tarot

I looked up the Revised Penal Code article mentioned in their response. Below is the text of Article 318:

Revised Penal Code Article 318 – Other deceits

The penalty of arresto mayor and a fine of not less than the amount of the damage caused and not more than twice such amount shall be imposed upon any person who shall defraud or damage another by any other deceit not mentioned in the preceding articles of this chapter.

Any person who, for profit or gain, shall interpret dreams, make forecasts, tell fortunes, or take advantage of the credulity of the public in any other similar manner, shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos.

I’m not a lawyer, but isn’t Sulit.com.ph’s interpretation of the law too harsh?

Sulit seems to assume that someone who advertises for paid fortune telling services automatically intends to defraud someone. Sulit seems to consider professional fortune tellers and people who engage in similar professions will always maliciously take advantage of the credulity of the public.

Act No. 3815 or the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines was enacted on December 8, 1930. It defines and penalizes acts that are considered criminal in the country. The Code remains in effect until today.

The archaic-sounding term arresto mayor is a penalty of imprisonment from one month and one day to six months.

Unless there are other laws that negate Article 318, this means that all activities similar to fortune telling and dream interpretations for profit are considered criminal acts in the Philippines.

I will give Sulit.com.ph the benefit of the doubt and consider this as their means of protecting themselves from possible legal prosecution, especially the way laws are used in this country. However, this also makes me question whether I still want to use the services of Sulit for other, non-tarot-related advertisement listings.