1 Simple doesn't work for simple people. They need a little bit of styling, a little upping the glamour ante. If you make a peasant wear a peasant blouse, it ceases to be a peasant blouse--it's a uniform.
2 She's looked better.
3 Some people are so used to thinking cheap headline: Pinoy makes good abroad! Makes nation proud! Saves Philippine Cinema! Whatever. Brillante Mendoza won Best Director at Cannes. Congratulations to him. He should be proud. And maybe we should be happy for him. But his trophy doesn't begin to solve the problems of local films. It doesn't have anything to do with my pride as a Filipino. I'm already proud to be a Filipino, I don't know about you. I don't need constant reminding. If I don't like Charice, I don't like her. If I don't like Arnel, I don't like him. Pure and simple. Being a Filipino has nothing to do with it. We haven't seen Kinatay and people want us to rejoice for it. And these people rejoicing for the entire Pinoy citizenry, will they still feel the same way when they finally get to see it? Will they even pay to see it?
4 It's a good thing Kim Chiu knows how to do body contortions.
5 People still believe the cliches: if you're the accused, you should wear a white shirt. And if you, and your mom, give an exclusive interview from your home, you have to make sure your backdrop includes a saint. Because nga you're already living a prayerful life.
6 While my heart broke a little when she said, "Ang kapal ng mukha mo, nakakatingin ka pa sa'kin ng ganyan," it doesn't change the fact that she was the K word. And I don't mean kikay.
7 We must stop dragging Victoria Beckham's name to refer to the new dos of local stars. Layo 'no!
8 Phillip Salvador should have stopped at skinhead. He already won points for ditching the Fanny Serrano bangs.
8 After catching a rerun of the original Kim Sam Soon, I know now why Koreanovela works, and why it doesn't quite work when we produce the entire thing. Their actors are Koreans.
9 The stylist Liz Uy has a sense of humor. She had Kris Aquino wear a feathered headpiece on SNN.
10 But you have to love Kris. We here at TheSwankStyle have an idea who John Lloyd is seeing. And this afternoon while watching The Buzz on mute, Kris seems to have the same idea, too. And she wasn't afraid to show it.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
There's no point reading the exhibit writeup at the Magnet website, at least for this one. The point is: the artworks at the show Shoebox Dioramas were inspired by the small cuts of spaces at the Magnet Gallery in the Columns Building in Makati. "'Yung main idea ay magproduce ng maliliit na works na bagay doon sa maliit nilang space," says Mariano Ching who organized the group show. "Unang concept miniature handmade works tapos nag-evolve na mula doon. Medyo loose lang ang pagkakaorganize namin. Craft, handmade, multiples or readymades ang kinalabasan ng mga works. Parang mas contemporary use ng craft siguro, mas fun at play-based kinalabasan ng karamihan sa works." The photograph above is his wife's contribution to the sequel: Shoebox Dioramas II which will have new works, additional artists that include Lyra Garcellano and Lena Cobangbang, and this time the small space is West Gallery at West Avenue. So prepare to inch your way in Thursday, June 4, when the exhibit officially opens. Doesn't matter what size you are; they made sure the art is very small.
We all have secrets. But what forces us to reveal our true identities is a mystery in itself. Joel Ruiz attempts to shed light on the matter of unraveling closeted skeletons thru his first full-length film Baby Angelo, one of the eight movies in competition last year at the Cinemalaya at CCP. When an aborted fetus is found in the dumpster of a rundown apartment complex, an investigation on the lives of the tenants ensue. The story is inspired by a true event that happened in the office building of Arkeo Films, the production company that Ruiz co-owns. This is his second time to compete in the yearly independent filmmakers’ festival; his debut effort Mansyon won Best Short Film in 2005.
Who are your influences in cinema?
Robert Altman for seeing connections between people and his ability to show us the entire lives of characters with just a few shots and lines of dialogue. Mike de Leon because he's fearless and is the right kind of strange. John Sayles, Ang Lee and Jim Jarmusch, because they're offbeat. My friends in Arkeo because I listen to everything they say.
What has making films taught you that watching their films did not prepare you for?
The chaotic, migraine-causing machine that is low-budget, independent filmmaking in this country. Everything has to be done in a hurry, with very little time for preparation, and no money to pay for it. It really pushes you to the limits of your resourcefulness, your adapting skills, your mind.
Ruiz with his star Katherine Luna
Of the stories you've cooked up in your head, why Baby Angelo as first full-length feature?
The story of Baby Angelo developed first, mainly because Cinemalaya had its deadlines. Also because Baby Angelo was born out of an actual event, a dead baby was found in our building.
Your film is made up of character studies of the residents of an apartment building. Can we find you in any one of them?
You'll find degrees of me in all of my characters, from the crazy old man to the lazy drunk slob. But mostly in the lead character of Bong—played excellently by Jojit Lorenzo—a man who never really grew up and who tries his best under his circumstances.
Tell us about a real life neighbor with whom you have been unusually struck by.
I blocked them all out from memory.
What's the biggest misconception about independent filmmaking in the Philippines?
That it's only for the artsy-fartsy types and that it doesn't speak to the people. Many of the indies challenge the way you think movies are, and Pinoy audiences are ready. No one's watching local movies anymore! Sure, many of the films are difficult, but you'll find they're way more original and real than what the movie factories are regurgitating over and over. Another misconception is that somehow independent films aren't "real" movies. It annoys me no end that in mainstream filmmkaking, we are treated as if we're a fluke or as a lesser form of cinema. Some award-giving bodies even have separate categories for "digital" films. We make real movies. And like it or not, there's an upheaval in local cinema coming and it will start with the independents.
A friend who's seen the rough cut said Baby Angelo is weird.
I like that it's weird. Who cares about normal? When you watch the movie, on the onset it feels like a familiar type of film but it takes a left turn and becomes something else. It's definitely not for everyone but I hope that people who dig it won't soon forget it. I like my movies just a little off-center, enough to throw you off, all the better to make you think and feel.
What's the next story in your mind?
We're in the development process of my next full-length film called Akyat-Baba, Paikot-Ikot and I've found a foreign co-producer for it. It's an old-fashioned love story. Except it's not that old-fashioned. And again, it's a little weird. Just a little.
Baby Angelo is the featured film for the month of June at Indie Sine. All-day screenings from June 3-9. Special screenings at 1 PM everyday for the whole month.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Photograph by Mark Vivas
Mark Salvatus's works has a lot to do with the city, employing art to create an urbanscape that is both aesthetically pleasing and feasible, and aimed at infusing the metropolis with a vibrant visual energy that go beyond Bayani Fernando's cheap puns (cheaper than this post's title, we mean: a street sign that says Lee Kuan Yew for Likuan U) and pink metal trimmings. Every third summer, however, Mark goes back to his hometown Lucban to help put together the family's Pahiyas decor which, he says, is a big influence on his more citified pursuits.
When I was 5 or 6, we lived in a small house at the center of Lucban. I helped during the preparation: simple decorations lang with kiping, some vegetables. It’s like the whole town was transformed into a wonderland--very colorful, very festive--like the Hansel and Gretel story where you can eat the houses. It’s a family thing, a communal gathering where everyone was involved. The route of the Pahiyas changes yearly so our area only gets to do the decoration every three years.
My lolo Ramon Salvatus was a local historian, poet, teacher and a former Municipal Secretary of Lucban (in the 70’s). I heard a lot of his stories about the San Isidro Festival. He also coined the term “Pahiyas” which means to decorate, and jewel (hiyas) refers to the rice grains and other produce.
Before the Spanish came to Lukban, the locals were already offering their produce and crafts as a sign of gratitude for a good harvest to the gods like the sky, water, trees etc. When the Spaniards came, they saw this ritual. They introduced San Isidro Labrador to the locals as the patron saint of farmers and told them to offer their harvests in honor of him.
The ritual of offering harvests evolved as a local Catholic celebration, wherein Lucbanins bring rice, vegetables, fruits etc to the church so the priest could bless them. The church got so jampacked with people and offerings, the parish priest decided that instead of the people bringing the produce to the church, he will go to their houses and bless the offerings there. So the locals displayed their best produce outside their homes.
Usually the family decides what to do. Everyone is involved. It’s like a big production. From studies, then production then to the presentation---the Pahiyas day itself. The materials used are local products/produce of Lucban, reflecting the livelihood of each house: longganisa, hats, bakya. Its possible to use other materials as long as its not synthetic or plastic. Some use bread, cotton candy, pansit habhab etc.
Usually the preparation takes about a week to 3 weeks. Meron ding mga simple lang, but the point is that they still participate in the celebration, kahit na simpleng bamboo with kiping okay na. But this last Pahiyas, I'm kind of disappointed with a lot of banners of politicians. Mukha nila ang naka-pahiyas--mukhang kamatis at talong.
The Pahiyas is some kind of a big installation art or public art. It is also some kind of collaborative art--a relational art- wherein people are part of the process of making it. My works now are process-oriented, involving the public and the environment. Like the Pahiyas, its about collaboration and public space. The communal aspect of my practice has a big impact on the tradition I grew up with. I always go back to Lucban if I have time to look for inspirations. The tradition makes us very creative. The lambanog doesn't hurt, too.
Pilipinas Street Plan, of which Mark is co-founder, has a show tonight at Pablo Gallery in Cubao X called Strip Stick and Drip. For Mark Salvatus' urban projects, visit marksalvatus.blogspot.com and pilipinastreetplan.blogspot.com.
Neo-Urban Plan is now accepting contributions that are related to matters on Philippine urbanity and the visual culture within the urban space - it may be photos, text, essay, drawings, experiences etc. email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
"The scene where Faye Dunaway hires Jack Nicholson," Tesa Celdran tells me, recounting her favorite smoking scene in cinema. "She lights one from a gold case when she already has one going, and stutters." The Dunaway scene is from Chinatown, the Tesa scene takes place at the footbridge at Silverlens. Tesa is wearing some fluid green dress and a major amount of bangles on her right arm. She is holding a glass of wine, but no cigarette. "I already quit," she says. Tesa isn't smoking but you almost see glamorous whirls of smoke from the invisible stick you imagine she holds in her hand.
I was thinking of quitting myself, that's why I thought of asking around for people's favorite smoking scenes, the ones that make you light up. To spark nostalgia, I guess. Smoking in cinema is perhaps the exception to that argument the anti-censorship people always bring up when The Establishment bans a scene from this or that. "Not because the bida massacred innocent people in this film or that, the audiences will be inspired to do the same." Hazardous to your health but when photographed well becomes too glamorous not to watch. Also depends on who is holding the cigarette. The words in between puffs. The context to which it is being held. But I blabber.
Anyway, let's talk about the scenes. Besides it's kind of chic now (to talk about it, not to smoke), what with the Coco Chanel movie coming up, and posters with her smoking have already been banned in some places. For Carlo Tadiar, it's Jessica Lange in Frances. "It wasn't so much a scene as a gesture. She would repeatedly pick the tobacco flakes that stuck to her tongue from her unflitered cigarette. It was simultaneously dirty, sensuous, self-gratifying, and somehow elegant all at the same time." For Lourd de Veyra, it is all of Jean Paul Belmondo in Breathless. For Mario Cornejo, it's Chris Walken and Dennis Hopper in True Romance. It starts when Hopper asks for a cigarette. It is THE SCENE of True Romance. "If it's just ANY scene (that makes me light up)," Lizza Guerrero-Nakpil tells me, "any scene with Daniel Craig, Zachary Quinto, Jason Statam, and my newest find, Rupert Penry-Jones!" If that's how she looks at the question, then that's Brando in A Streetcar Named Desirefor me. But back to topic.
Devi Madrid spells out a scene from The Lover: "Si girl asks for money from lover, and si lover gives her a backhanded smack (si girl falls on her back sa bed)...tapos, si guy (who is in khaki three piece sharp suit, slicked back hair, okay?) fishes out his wallet, throws wad of bills towards girl. then...si guy (haba, malapit na sa smoke section), sits on chiar na nakadekuwatro, fishes out a ciggy, flicks his metal lighter sharply, lights up, inhales deep...and EXHALES!"
A lot more scenes come up from different people: Audrey Hepburn burning a woman's hair from her long cigarette stick in the party scene of Breakfast at Tiffany's, the weight of an abusive history in each drag of Jennifer Jason Leigh's cigarette in Dolores Claiborne. Uma in Pulp Fiction. Russel Crowe in L.A. Confidential. For the movie critic Noel Vera, its Gloria Romero in Dalagang Ilocana (1954): "arguably has the tastiest tobacco-puffing scene in all of Philippine cinema (a rich patron, smacking his lips, declares that the cigars rolled by Gloria Romero are so well packed the smoke clears his lungs)."
Maybe the art director Ricky Villabona needed a drag when he sent this response, about one of the most famous smoking scenes in modern cinema: Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. But then Ricky doesn't smoke. "But this is a case of the chicken or the egg for me. Do I remember the smoking or do I remember her flashing her pussy? I remember both. Why are both images etched in my mind? One cannot do without the other. The scene wanted to say that Catherine was a bad bad girl, but just lighting up during an interrogation was not enough to say that she was a bad bad girl. So, uncross the legs and show the bush! Then again, couldn't she just have flashed her pussy and done away with the cig? No. That would have been crass and too "direct," if you know what I mean. Having her smoke while flashing it made it cool. Smoking was as important as the exposure of her pussy. She had to look cool about it. I'm actually rambling trying to explain something the director probably did not belabor in his mind. He was most probably ruled by his gut and told her to smoke and expose her pussy because it just looked and felt perfect."
Us Gen-Xers, we only had one idea of perfect: "See, Lainy, this is all we need: a couple smokes, a cup of coffee, good conversation. You, me and five bucks." Ethan Hawke, Reality Bites. And back when we were still falling in love with dirty, angsty young things, we only have one answer.
Leiny (Winona Ryder): "You got it."
Disclaimer: This post does not intend to promote smoking.
Why go into fashion design now?
I've been interested in fashion long before all my other interest came (theater, make up, interior design, education). In the early 80's my sister took a course in SLIMS so I was exposed to her plates and the magazine Manila Women's Wear. Since then I've been sketching and designing for friends. When I got to theater, the interest moved to costume design. When I got to advertising, the interest expressed itself in styling for shoots. Finally, I became a stylist for shoots, fashion shows, and editorials.While watching one of the shows in the last fashion week, I just decided to do it.
How does the process begin for you? Inspiration first before fabric? Fabric before silhouette?
It always starts with an inspiration, usually a piece of garment in my closet. Something I really like and want to wear over and over again. Ergo, the menswear influences in my collection. Then I go to Divisoria to buy fabrics that I really like, it's always the things that strike me. I bought as many and as much fabric for two months. Then I create the overall idea of the collection, sketch like mad then go back to Divisoria for more fabrics. Once the sketches are final, I go to Fanbi to complete the fabric requirements. Then the pattern development starts. What I did was go to the ukay-ukay and bought clothes with construction that interest me, I take them apart and draw the parts I needed. By tweaking the parts and combining them I finalize the pattern. They're mostly simple shapes since I'm not good at this yet. I then turn them over to my pattern maker so he can finalize them and grade them to size. After that it's sampling and tweaking. I wish I could do more sampling to perfect things but I only have one mananahi.
Tell us about this debut collection.
I call this collection 'the editor' collection. Actually more like a magpie collection. I took four things from my closet: a tuxedo, a pair of jeans, a t- shirt, and my sweat pants. Then I took two things I bought in my recent travels: a pair of zoave pants from Marrakech, a yukata from Japan. The last shape is a pencil skirt with pronounced hips--I got from the idea from the cactus in the Majorel Gardens. Actually I also got the blue color from the walls of the house in the garden. With these seven shapes I made my collection.
Are you planning to do more shows in the future?
I hope the response is positive so I can do this on a larger scale. I'm doing ready to wear so I'll be producing the pieces in limited numbers for an end of August selling (this is a holiday collection by the way). I have no plans of opening a store yet, kasi mahal masyado. I will sell on line and in my place in Morato.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is one of the things that truly excite me. I am a consumer, a really voracious shopper but not of trends but of classic pieces. I love the way fashion makes and remakes itself, constantly trying to make itself relevant and desirable. Clothing telegraphs in an instant certain assumptions about the wearer, sort of like subliminal calling card. I think that's powerful stuff.
What is your favorite piece of clothing?
I'm torn between khaki pants (I own a bazillion of them) and a nice fitted tux (which i always wear separately and dressed down).
Marlon Rivera is the president of Publicis Manila, creative director of Folded and Hung, a writer, a stylist and a lot more. His collection opened the Philippine Fashion Week 2009 last night at the SMX in Pasay. Photos of the collection here.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
On the eve of Lino Brocka's 10th death anniversary, a tribute that reimagines his film Jaguar for the contemporary times premiered at the 29th Cannes Film Festival. Directed by Adolfo Alix Jr., it is part of a twinbill called Manila, the other half being Raya Martin's reworking of Ishmael Bernal's City After Dark. So after the glamour of the red carpet, what did the reviews say? Did the homage really live up to the late director's international film circuit reputation? Read the reviews here and here.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Alessandra de Rossi and Piolo Pascual pay homage to Brocka's Jaguar in the twinbill Manila.
CANNES, FRANCE -- The scheduled screening was not until 8:15pm but as early as 6:30, the Philippine delegation representing Manila has gathered near the Grand Theatre Lumiere to prepare for the “marches rouges." Directors Adolfo Alix, Jr. and Raya Martin, together with producer Arleen Cuevas and producer-actor Piolo Pascual were positioned on a corner to wait for their turn as crowds gathered by the entrance to witness celebrities like Michelle Yeoh, David Kross (of The Reader) and director Ang Lee make their way to the gala screening of Pedro Almodovar’s Los Abrazos Rotos (Broken Embraces) which was due to premiere the same night.
A few minutes later, Alix and co. were instructed to walk to the center of the red carpet. Behind Adolf, Raya, Arleen, and Piolo are the film’s production designer Digo Ricio, assistant director Armi Cacanindin, and Independencia actor Sid Lucero, together with Film Development Council of the Philippines’ Digna Santiago and Manet Dayrit. Cameras flashed as our fellow countrymen walked up the stairs. At the entrance door, they were warmly welcomed by the executive directors of the 2009 Cannes International Film Festival.
Cocktails were served in a special room overlooking the setting sun at the French Riviera, while we watched the live feed announcing the arrival of Almodovar with his star, Penelope Cruz.
Inside the theatre at Salle Bunuel, the audience applauded the entrance of the creative team behind Manila. After a brief introduction, the special screening promptly started at 8.15pm. The film was met with loud applause as the closing credits flashed on the screen.
Senedy Que is the writer and director of Dose which will be shown at the Galleria IndieSine from July 1 to 7.
Photograph by Tatong Recheta Torres
Nothing in Costantino Zicarelli’s shy, unaffected demeanor would tell you he used to devour a plate of spaghetti with a masking taped mouth during his days as a performance artist. Nothing would hint at the dark, creepy subjects the guy tends to favor in his, uhm, less controversial work. In his last show, for example, held at Art Informal in Connecticut Street, the work most people huddle around in was his installation called “Like Rats, It Returns to Its True Form,” a glass encased image of a couple hundred plastic rats swarming on what looks like an abandoned old building. It was the only installation in a show composed mostly of paintings and framed postcard drawings, and it took the longest to finish. But true to form, the 25-year old artist only remembers that it was a pain in the ass to mount because of the scale, and that he had to run around Manila looking for materials.
"Like Rats, It Returns to Its Form"
Of course the work looks to be more complex than that, howelse to explain the presence of a five-foot long philosophical text in size 12 font by the entrance? The rest of the works continue the subject of death and destruction: postcard size watercolors of distinguished-looking dead men framed in wood and encased in glass, much like those one sees in musty academe hallways; a seemingly innocent portrait of birds by a lake (they are stuffed birds, Art Informal’s Tina Herrera, uhm, informs us); a huge fire scene which seem to almost singlehandedly heat up the airconditioned gallery (it’s that or the inebriated souls going around); and the unsettling coolness of a Hitler portrait with a British flag.
"The Great Dictator"
Most of the images are based on photographs. But while in the past he employed his father’s collection of images taken in Italy (where Cos lived for awhile), he explored the idea of the “still life” this time. “I find that most pictures that I take have subjects that have something really eerie but beautiful in it's own way. Because I mostly deal with destruction, death, personal experience and how most objects have another purpose in life. Like the painting of the taxidermies birds. I took this shot in a museum in Sydney. It was fascinating how this birds look so alive but they where all stuffed and dead to be forever inside a glass case.”
"For The Love That We Admire"
Cos seemed like a fish out of water the entire night of the show, pressed to talk to collectors in his blue gingham shirt, welcoming friends, holding a bottle of San Miguel Pale perhaps to calm his hands, when all he wanted to do really was to talk to his girl in New York, the photographer Wawi Navarrozza who was there, virtually, at the opening—on the computer monitor, via Skype, watching her boyfriend’s party.
All images from the show "The Mind is a Terrible Thing To Taste" held last April at Art Informal, Connecticut Street, Greenhills.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Of all the decades to be trapped in, I told my friend after visiting an architect's house whose interiors were designed by his wife, why choose to be trapped in the '90s? Admit it, we were all victimized by all that wellness hoopla. We all wanted to go to spas and our Ivy Almarios thought we also might want to live in them. Hence, our rooms had to smell of eucalyptus wafting from a ceramic burner. Hence, these remnants from our Oriental meets minimalist meets spa obsession which, sadly, still lurks in our wenge console tables these days. You know you're still living in the '90s when you have...
Of course we are as toxic as we've ever been after all that spa and spa-like experience but don't we all love the '90s?
Next week, the early 2000s, when magazines told us to put shells just beside where we shit.
Friday, May 1, 2009
With One Letter Altered
Kamukha mo si Paraluman nung tayo ay data pa.
With One Letter Missing
Kamukha mo si Paraluman nung tayo ay bata, a.
With One Word Altered
Kamukha mo si Paraluman nung tao ay bata pa.
Uy, alam mo ba, dati daw, kamukha niya si... Paraluman?
Oo, medyo kamukha nga niya si Paraluman noon.
Sparrows in flight
A7 - C/G - G
Oh my God, dude! Kamukha mo noon si Paraluman! DaFuuuuuck!
Kamukha daw niya dati si Paraluman. Daw.
Sobrang sobrang soooobrang kamukha mo dati si Paraluman! As in! Ibang klase! Putsa, puwede na nga kayong ipagpalit sa isa’t isa, e! Talaga! May nagsabi sa’kin dati, tapos ayokong maniwala hangga’t sa Ginoogle ko ‘yung litrato ni Paraluman tapos tinapat ko sa litrato mo nung bata pa tayo tapos... hayup! Kamukhang-kamukha mo talaga! Dapat makita mo minsan!
Adam David didn't write these variations on the first line of "Huling El Bimbo" for the actress who died of cardiac arrest last Monday April 27. We first heard David read them at Mag:net Katipunan's Happy Mondays in 2007. For the complete variations, and more, well, wasak stuff, visit Adam David at wasaaak.blogspot.com.