Thursday, July 30, 2009

BEFORE WE WATCH KINATAY ] A damn smart suggestion from Alexis Tioseco


"Brillante Mendoza’s victory in Cannes has been received, if not lauded, by the following local institutions: the City of Mandulong (where he resides), the Province of Pampanga (where he is from), University of Santo Tomas (his Alma Mater), the Director’s Guild of the Philippine Islands (of which he is a member), and the President of the Republic (who, with great craft and in a single sentence, turned her praise of Mendoza into praise of herself, and whose recognition comes with a One Million Peso ‘thank you for bringing the country pride’ check). Mendoza has taken an appropriately cool stance to all the fanfare: “there is a lot of attention but in a week or two, everything will be back to normal”. Many in the media, however, have voiced their displeasure, wondering, as our scholar did at the beginning of the article, why Mendoza wouldn’t receive an even warmer welcome, one similar, say, to the type Pacquiao receives?

"While a marching band, a grand dinner, a parade or even a million pesos are all appealing gestures, they are effused more with the pomp of celebration than any authentic attempt at appreciation: a facile way of saying we acknowledge the recognition you have received – a sentiment giving greater premium to outsider recognition than to the work itself. A proposition for the future: perhaps a more generous way to show appreciation for the work of our artists, should we truly believe the work itself important and not just the recognition: show them.

"Just imagine: how many free screenings could be sponsored for a million pesos?"

From "Cannes But Don't Have To" by Alexis Tioseco, Free Press, July 2009.

Friday, July 24, 2009

TOO GOOD NOT TO SHARE ] How to get shot by The Sartorialist

From here by way of LDV. Click image to enlarge.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

FROM RICKY TORRE'S DESK ] A smart alternative route for The Balugang Bodyguard


In a previous post on Manila, the double-bill tribute to City After Dark and Jaguar, we wrote:

"9 After Piolo (who plays bodyguard Philip) kills Baron Geisler in an effort to protect his boss Jay Manalo, Jay and entourage take off, leaving Piolo by himself in the murder scene. Piolo runs from Remedios Circle passing by Jones Bridge to Binondo where his boss lives. Ummm, puwede namang nag-jeep na lang siya from Taft, baba siya ng Lawton, tas lakad konti, sakay siya Divisoria, madadaanan naman 'yun."

The eminent writer/editor Ricky Torre responds:
"Kung galing si Piolo sa Remedios Circle at papunta siyang Binondo, pweydi na siyang sumakay ng jeep sa Mabini, yung papuntang Sta. Cruz, kasi diritso na yan hanggang Jones Bridge. Pagnatumbukan na ng jeep yung 19th-century na rotonda doon, pweydi nang pumara si Piolo at kaharap na niya ang Chinese welcome mark papuntang Binondo."

THE ART FAIR ] Slim pickings at Manila Art 09

dexterDetail of painted-on vintage poster from Dexter Hernandez at the Pablo booth.

"Marami bang maganda?" Ben Chan asked me last Sunday afternoon(after he pointed out the 'bch' embroidery on my canary yellow shirt) at the ManilaArt fair in NBC Tent. I didn't really know what to say. "O baka naman ubos na." Well, it was a little slim pickings in this supposed to be 'groundbreaking' event that gathered Manila's top galleries (or at least those who can afford to join) in one place for a three-day show of what, I presume, are on stock at their backrooms. How did they choose the works to show? "These are the artists exclusive to Finale (which includes Keiye Miranda, Bembol Oligario and Lyra Garcellano)," Vita Sarenas whispered to me, "except for two." Once I had made the rounds, its so clear that most of it are same old, same old, from styles to color palette (pastels are a favorite!). Still, a few can make you linger for a while. Like the pieces in this post.

jon-chingPeople would ask, What did you like? The dog, I would say. And immediately they would know. By Jonathan Ching.

mlaartAt left, I loved the lace-y motif in this one, from Gallery 9. At right, I didn't exactly love this but Yeyey Cruz pointed it out to me, complete with art history references. I had no idea what she was talking about. "It has so many layers," she said, pointing out the view of nature at the bottom left. But I kinda like that there are drinks recipes with all these religious figures. Religion and alcohol. Not always the best combination.

Monday, July 20, 2009

THE TOP 12 ] Reasons why we're back

gal_entourage1And so are they for Season 6.

1 Because recent weather forced us to stay home with nothing to do. Hence, we also saw Episode 1 of Season 6 wherein for reasons unknown to man E is portrayed as The Hot One, and Vinny is relegated to side dish. There is a hot Ari vs Lloyd battle but it fizzles out in the end.

2 Because we just appeared in Garage.

3 Because we just appeared in Metro Society.

4 Because Joel Ruiz called us excellent in his blog. And me love Joel.

5 Because Manila's chicest reads us. And while we are tempted to drop names, we're too cool for that.

6 Because two more people decided to sign up and follow us. Ooh, and another one just now.

7 Because we haven't earned from this and we want to.

8 Because its Cinemalaya season. I mean wherelse will we voice out our grievances/joy from watching all those films? The trip from QC to CCP is not a joke, you understand. It's P400 if we take a cab, or jeep+2trainrides+CCPorangeshuttle then cab again to go home, or we ride with someone and pressed to talk to person-with-car.

9 Because we just nominated ourselves to the Philippine Blog Awards, and we might just win. If by chance the confirmation link finally works.

10 Because if Lolit really orchestrated that whole Hayden-Katrina-Vicky circus, we have to continue existing to prove that there is more good than evil in this world.

11 Because we've already gotten the hang of this. And, like the boys in the photo above say, a lifestyle is a terrible thing to waste.

12 Supply your personal reason here.

7 QUESTIONS ] Ina Feleo on directing, bribing dad and damn smart advice from Laurice


You just directed your parents, Laurice and Johnny, for your first short film Labing-labing. What was the first thing you required of them?

I don't remember requiring anything from them except for them to be there! Being with them everyday at home, and talking about the craft most of the time, I knew them both as individuals and as actors so it was very clear for me from the beginning that they were perfect for the role and how clearly they understood the material.

What was the worst thing about directing your folks?

Honestly, I dont think I experienced 'the worst' during our shoot. It was so easy to direct them and we were having so much fun. Hindi nila ako talaga pinahirapan. Akala ko patatagalin nila yung shoot sa kakachika or something, pero hindi! Si daddy, usually he has a cutoff (time) when he's working, but with my shoot he didn't. He almost walked out on me though! Kasi natatagalan kami sa pag set-up nung isang eksena sa hallway ng ospital. Mahirap kasi yun ilawan. Eh na-stress si daddy kasi may iba pa akong actors na pinaghintay. It was a big lesson for all of us in the staff. Malaking pasasalamat naman namin na hindi siya umalis. Binilhan ko siya ng malaking burger at fries at pagatapos nun okay na siya. At napaka ganda ng eksenang ginawa niya after the midnight snack.

People loved you in Endo, your first film for Cinemalaya. How'd you think people are going to receive you in Sanglaan?
I dont know yet. I always don't know how people are going to react. Sanglaan is very different from Endo. Iba naman yung character ko sa Sanglaan--mas paloob siguro (ang mga reaksyon). Very shy. Eh sa Endo sobrang hindi shy si Tanya. Sana magustuhan rin ng mga tao ang Ina sa Sanglaan.

Why direct?
I think time comes sometimes when you feel strongly that there's something you need to say, meron kang gustong i-share, o iparamdam. When I wrote Labing-Labing it was as simple as that. Hindi ko naman naisip na matutuloy yung pelikula, but it was so easy for me to write, parang may grasya talaga kung baga. It came at a time when my family was also really going through a tough period in our lives (nung magkasakit si daddy) but a period in our life also when love was so strong in our family. Ang sarap din na pakiramdam talaga nun. Hindi ko pa naman ikino-consider ang sarili ko na director, dahil ang dami ko pang hindi alam at hindi nagagawa. I think that directing is a dangerous profession. Your heart should always be in the right place. Kasi napaka- powerful niyang tool para sa mga manonood. Kaya ako, I'm taking my time and just learning every step of the way.

Do you have an anecdote about your strangest/weirdest experience while filming?
Nasa tondo kasi kami, Pritil, yung location ng pawnshop sa pelikula (Sanglaan). Tapos nagpapahinga ako sa may van, mga alas dose pa lang 'yun ng gabi. Biglang pumasok yung driver ko at sabi sa'kin 'Ma'm ililipat ko lang yung sasakyan kasi may lalaki sa labas na may baril. Parang kanina pa yang may hinihintay e.' True enough when I looked out my window, just a few feet away from the car was this guy nga na may baril talagang hawak at ni hindi man lang niya tinatago! E di linipat namin ang sasakyan. Mga dalawang minuto palang ang nakakalipas, nakarinig na ako ng gunshot.

Who's the better actor: mom or dad?

Pag nanonood ako sa monitor, may mga ginagawa sila na napapaisip na lang talaga ako na 'Shet. magaling nga talaga sila.' Ang layo layo ko pa sa talento nila. And I guess its really hard to tell from this film, kung sino ang mas magaling na actor, kasi they feed off each other talaga. At yung mga tingin nila! Jusko po. Ang mga tingin tumatagos. I guess what I can say is that they have individual strengths. May mga specialty sila kung baga. Si mommy I would say her strength is really subtlety. I love taking close-ups of her because she says so much with her eyes, and her breath. Hindi siya umaagaw ng eksena ever. But it's never flat. Andun ang buong pagkatao niya, pero hindi nagtatawag pansin. Si daddy naman, para sa akin ang malakas niyang puntos naman ay yung vulnerability niya. 'Yung bang kahit kunwari nag-iingay siya o nagpapatawa, pinapalusot pa rin niya yung underlying na takot at helplessness. And when he switches that on, ang lakas-lakas ng tagos sa screen. Pareho sila talagang napaka-heartfelt ng performance dito. Ang sakit sa dibdib.

What's the best advice you got from a director?
I get advice from my mother all the time who's also a director, pero other than her siguro ang susunod na natatandaan kong advice talaga ay galing kay Direk Marilou Diaz-Abaya. I dont remember the exact words (I'm forgetful talaga) but it was how when you write, or when you're directing a scene and you're choosing your shots, laging: "WHO do you LOVE, and what are the sacrifices you make for the one you love?" Sa akin nagstick talaga yun sa utak ko when I was making the film. Lalo na't Labing-Labing is a film about love. Siguro magkaakibat narin to at yung sinabi ni mommy kamakailan lang na, kapag wala kang malakas na mensaheng kailangang sabihin, that would be a good reason for you not to make a film.

Labing-labing premieres together with several other shorts from the Marilou Diaz Abaya workshops this Saturday July 25 at the Cinemalaya at CCP.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

VIEW FROM THE 4TH FLOOR ] Notes on the "Cliff's Notes" that is Manila


1 Manila is a double-bill tribute to Bernal's Manila By Night and Brocka's Jaguar. Let's get this out of the way: for a tribute, it renders itself a little unnecessary.

2 Just like KC Concepcion on Piolo Pascual's left arm that evening.

3 Just like the '20s rhinestoned headband KC was wearing.

4 And Tim Yap making an appearance at the post-screening cocktails.

5 Watching from the 4th floor balcony of the CCP Main Theater is like sitting on a rollercoaster about to go down on a slope and stops from a gazillion-feet aboveground. The place was jampacked and I was late. Social death.

6 But the film! The film! Okay, here's what we liked about it: Raya Martin's passive, tongue-in-cheek, chic attack to this whole homage to-do. The slo-mos, the '70s score, the ancient badingspeak. He has Bernal's snobbery and sophistication down pat. A little more sense of humor would do him good.

7 I like that they used the names of the original actors for the names of the characters: Piolo was Wiliam, Osang was mom Charito, the unseen drug dealer is Cherie, the benefactor is Bernarda. Didn't quite work for the Jaguar part. A bodyguard named Philip? Although Amy worked for Alessandra because, well, she looked like a young Amy.

8 Piolo played a baluga in the Jaguar part. Not just a baluga but a dumb baluga. That's a little racist. A dumb baluga with a raised collar. Now that's just wrong.

9 After Piolo kills Baron Geisler in an effort to protect his boss Jay Manalo, Jay and entourage take off, leaving Piolo by himself in the murder scene. Piolo runs from Remedios Circle passing by Jones Bridge to Binondo where his boss lives. Ummm, puwede namang nag-jeep na lang siya from Taft, baba siya ng Lawton, tas lakad konti, sakay siya Divisoria, madadaanan naman 'yun.

10 Did I already mention that for a tribute to the best directors Philippine cinema has ever produced, this one is unnecessary? Yep, just like asking Piolo Pascual to star in this movie. PP is the biggest actor in the land, and certainly one of the best. Just like Brocka and Bernal, the guy deserves better.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

UNANG KILATIS ] The early verdict on Milo Sogueco's Sanglaan

sanglaanWe told the director Milo Sogueco a couple of months back, in La Union--we were drinking vodka, he was having wine, we were facing the dark ocean--'You have to make sure it's a good film. Otherwise, how do we face you after the premiere? How will we drink?' Because that happens quite often at the Cinemalaya screenings, people know everyone and you're bound to bump into the director whose film you just saw and abhorred. What will you tell him? How do you shake his hand?

But enough about the blabber: the good news is that Sanglaan, according to the two Swanky friends who saw it, is good. We here at TheSwankStyle have yet to see it, though. A filmmaker, after the Manila screening last night, told me he saw the film in its raw stage and he liked it--and while he is kind he is not easy to please.

Eric, a scriptwriter and one-time film reviewer, after Sanglaan's first screening this afternoon texted: "Sanglaan is handsomely shot and well acted." Obviously, he has certain issues about its overall appeal but he says "It's not bad at all. And it looks and feels quite effortless." We'll save Eric's misgivings for after we see the film at the Tuesday gala. Because y'all have to see it first, and see all the films as well. What else will you do this week, hello?

Here's the synopsis: "Sanglaan looks at seemingly simple relationships and uncomplicated events happening in a very mundane institution. A religious and single-minded businesswoman with a losing proposition, afraid of old age. A timid, vulnerable girl hopelessly in love with a high school crush. A security guard whose wife has a fragile heart. A charming and mysterious seaman just passing through. And a loan shark who won’t take “no” for an answer. These are some of the characters that populate the milieu of Sanglaan, a light, funny, poignant and very Pinoy story about hope and redemption."

And here's the trailer.

Milo Sogueco directs from a screenplay he collaborated on with Audie Gonzales, Jerome Lorico and Gay Ace Domingo. Director of Photography is Alma dela Peña.

PROOF OF LIFE ] Nico Sepe is alive and well and shooting in Sri Lanka

colombo01Mahout and his elephant, a lifetime relationship.2007.

The canvas on which photographer Nico Sepe paints with light is the whole world. His recent works are vignettes of daily life in Sri Lanka where he has been based since 2007.

Sepe knows no boundaries when it comes to fulfilling his fulltime commitment to photography. He documents realities with piercing rawness as he has done since the late 70s in the Philippines.Last month, he continued this commitment in yet another photo exhibition: “Sri Lanka: Past Times in Times Present.”

anaradhapura02One of the oldest City in Sri Lanka. Site of the largest dagobas and water tanks dating back centuries ago. Its also a destination for buddhist pilgrimage.2008.

"This is really a continuation of my commitment to photography. It never stops...I’m still around, still shooting and continuing my dedication to inform thru pictures," he said.

While most of the world see Sri Lanka as nothing but a place caught in the conflict between the Tamil tigers and the government, Sepe offers what he has witnessed – that of Sri Lankans' ordinary, day-to-day struggle to survive.

Sepe’s black and white images captured the lives of people in different corners of this South Asian country including the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, the ancient city of Anaradhapura in the northwest and the southwestern city of Moratuwa.
"I’ve never seen these angles before. It's different when it comes from a person who is not a Sri Lankan," he said.

colombo03Galle Face promenade in Colombo. Famous among locals and tourist for enjoying the sea breeze of Indian Ocean.2007.

galle01The fisherfolks of Galle, doing the traditional net pulling from the shore. Catch will be later distributed to everyone.2007.

moratuwa04Pictures of Buddha for sale, decorating a typical Sri Lankan house especially on big Wesak Day celebration.2008.

This is not the end of it. Sepe is planning to hold another exhibit soon. He doesn’t know for certain where his next stop would be but for now his home is Sri Lanka where he lives with his wife and two children.

Back here in the Philippines, he has documented the lives in the underground movement during the latter years of the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines in the 1980s.

Since then Sepe has contributed significantly to documenting the social and political changes. Most assignments were commissioned by non-government organizations but his desire to photograph realities led him to fund some of the documentaries himself. Co-founder of the Center for Documentary Photography now known as the Philippine Center for Photojournalists and former senior staff of different newspapers and magazines in the Philippines, he has worked on various worthy book projects.

These include Philippines: A Journey through the Archipelago, the Philippine Navy's Tides of Change, the University of the Philippines' Sipat, the Ateneo de Manila University's Chinese-Filipino book and the coffeetable book Portraits of a Tangled Relationship.

His works have been widely recognized by fellow photographers and various global institutions. Tweety Andanar

Nico Sepe may be reached at His online galleries are at and All photographs in this story courtesy of Nico Sepe who owns the copyright.

Friday, July 17, 2009

MUSIC TO OUR EARS ] Joel Toledo's second book is destined to startle

His poetry breaks our heart, but in a way we wouldn't mind having it broken again and again. TheSwankStyle does a little Q&A with the poet Joel Toledo who is launching his second collection of poems, The Long Lost Startle (UP Press), this Monday at the Happy Mondays night at Magnet Katipunan.

When did you first recognize that you can be a poet. Or when did you tell yourself, 'Uy, this is not so bad.'
I think the idea of trying out poetry started during my national workshop years. But I was only a fellow for poetry once (fiction otherwise), so the confidence came from the comments of writer friends. Of course, the first Palanca really boosted it further.

Is there an ideal setting/time/mood for you for writing?I'm an uber-nocturnal homebody so it would have to be in the wee hours of the morning in front of the PC at home. Occasionally while I'm out with friends and we do little poetry exercises.

Meron ka bang mga rituals before/during/after writing a piece? Music? What kind?None, really. But it does feel really good when you've written something you think has potential. It's not of course the final version so my usual ritual would have to be to have the poem workshopped.

People (meaning me) say there is a very strong female voice in the way you write, the language. Do you recognize this? Where do you think this comes from?Haha. i'm not really sure. I do remember Juaniyo Arcellana saying the same thing when he wrote about his Palanca shortlist years ago and my collection was mentioned. He said to the effect that it was written by an "obviously lady poet". I guess the sincerity of tone and the prevalent nature strain in my poems are not usually associated with masculinity in poetry.

Name a favorite Filipino poem you know by heart and write down a paragraph here.Here's the final couplet from the last stanza of Carlos Angeles' Landscape II: "I touch your absence here/Remembering the speeches of your hair."

You're a teacher and host of Happy Mondays poetry night at Magnet. Anong sinasabi mo sa mga nagpapakita sayo ng tula at talaga namang hindi mo nagustuhan? I would usually workshop poems with a constructive mindset naman. If I don't like a line/image/insight I would challenge the writer to revise. Most of the people who do approach me for comments know the dictates of revision so I try to be open as well to a poem's potential.

Anong kinaibahan ng bagong libro sa una? Iba rin ba ang state of mind mo habang binubuo ang koleksyon?
Most of the poems in this book are written during my NCCA Writers Prize grant and i think they are generally less personal and more craft-driven. There are more experimentations with form and the themes are more universal. This collection are made up of poems from 2006 to 2008, so i guess i was also conscious of experimenting with the voice and the musicality in the verses' syntax.

Can you share a poem from the book?
Here's the title poem from the collection, a poem that experiments with half rhymes and a staccato beat:

The Long Lost Startle

Oh my, the familiar, the face of grandfather
the clock declaring its singular point, the hour,
the now again it is midnight, full minute of it,
fulfilled and finishing. It has never been
a matter of fact; even the initial shudder
passes, pauses permitted by the pendulum,
the slow, slow sway then ending, hands resting
again on his forehead, as in prayer. And,
finding nothing to fear, you lean back into
the silence that comes next: the lack of clock,
the rest.

We love Joel.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

UPDATED! THE MUST-SEE ] Spot the bottle at Mariano Ching's Dead Ends


"Hinimay mo ba?" photographer Raena Abella asks me after we got two of the last remaining bottles of Pale Pilsen."Hanapin mo 'yung turntable." We are at the opening night of Mariano Ching's Dead Ends and False Starts show at the SLab section of Silverlens in Pasong Tamo Extension, looking at a huge painting, a post-apocalyptic vignette, and zeroing in on the long underground tunnel where rats share cramped living space with the remains of our 21st century waste: wine bottles, TV sets, old tires, video games and, there it is!--the turntable.

It's all easily very cute, Mariano's obsessed little drawings, but not cute in the way that so many things in the art shows in past months were intentionally cute like this and this or this. I have nothing against cute, ok? I crave it.). It's a playful, dreamy, even happy, depiction of doom (decaying people spewing rainbows), of small objects and vast spaces, of emptiness and nothingness.

And this blabber is a display of my emptiness and nothingness. Sorry I'm really not good at this art talk.

But the works are impressive, really. The boys I brought, Neil, Noel and his son, artists all, were a little frugal with their impressions---either that or they were underwhelmed. My friend, who saw the pieces the day before was gushing over it. He bought one of the works. And Raena, the day after, told me she can't stop thinking of the works.

One day, hon, one day we'll be able to afford it. Hopefully before the real apocalypse comes.