#EDSA30 – What did we get?

I was hoping that by now we have learned to divorce the narrative of the EDSA Revolution from the cult of the Aquinos. But I was wrong. Challenging certain personalities’ “saintly attributes” apparently equates to being pro-Marcos, or that we must only subscribe to a specific groupthink or get criticized by attacking the “Spirit of EDSA” – as if the concept of democracy itself is monopolized by a few personalities in history.
Ironic, because that kind of logic is the same propaganda that Marcosian rule brought to the Philippines for several decades: it’s either we subscribe to a single political narrative or get shunned. And while the days of being killed out of your own political convictions isn’t so widespread as before, it begs me to think if the kind of political conditions we have now is any better – that we are ostracized by dominating discourses if we do not toe the line of what ruling classes want us to believe. Maybe this is the “dictatorship in democracy” that Slavoj Zizek talked about with reference to dominating liberal ideologies.
It’s difficult for us “who weren’t there” to appreciate EDSA, simply because that what we’ve been taught for 30 years looks more like a dogmatic mass than actual history. Let’s just forget the fact that Cory’s administration suffered human rights abuses comparable to that of the Marcos administration. Let’s ignore the prevailing oligarchic rule that took over after EDSA to continue the oppressive systems we experience today. Let’s be thankful this, let’s be thankful that ad infinitum.
Yes, I’m thankful that we have greater political freedoms than what we had 30 years ago. But that doesn’t mean we’re no longer allowed to hear the truths of EDSA that, many of which challenge the dominating narrative that is forced upon us every 25th of February. Because the real spirit of EDSA – and that of inclusive democracy – is having the freedom to challenge these dominating discourses. It’s self-contradictory to say that the story of EDSA “is not over” then suddenly impose limits to this story.
That being said, if we want to celebrate the real story of EDSA, here’s where we can start. Let’s go beyond saying never again to Martial Law. Never again to the ghosts of Marcosian rule that try to inch inside our current politics. Never again to a rule of an oligarchy or political dynasties. Never again to poverty. Never again to the political abuses committed by all past administrations, including those that came after Marcos.
When we allow these kinds of narratives to take place in our conversations every time we celebrate EDSA, maybe our current generation would start appreciating what transpired 30 years ago.
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Expectations (A Short Story)

“It’s been raining for a while” said my brother. He continued, “if this rain continues for another hour we’d be flooded here in this funeral home.”

I assured him, saying “Don’t worry about it Caleb. The rain’s already weakening right now. No floods to worry about eh?”

The gloom and doom is not just with the weather truth be told, but everything that I’ve been experiencing for the past couple of years. A few bright spots here and there, but just generally pessimistic.

I look back to all of those years, and now I’m in my dad’s wake. Seeing his casket surges all the short memories I’ve had with him.

“Aidan” called my brother “Your uncle’s calling”

I walked to my uncle, “My deepest condolences” he told me.

Frankly, this day doesn’t bother me as much as I’ve expected. For years I was preparing myself for this day to come, that one day my family will receive a letter from the military telling us about the bad news of my father’s unfortunate demise.

It happened last week.

I was busy at work, doing favors for certain “friends from high places” when my mom called me.

“Aidan, please come home. Dad is dead.”

“I will, I’m sorry to hear that.”

I rushed to the nearest train station, and arrived at my home an hour later. In the living room I saw my brother Caleb, comforting my mom as she laid her head in his shoulder. It was obvious that she was forcing herself not to grieve, but her tears wouldn’t hold back. Our neighbors and close family friends were there as well. One by one they gave their sympathies to us.

“Mary” said one of our neighbors to my mom “I’m sorry to hear about your loss.”

Different lines, same meaning – our neighbors and friends feeling sympathy for us. I never really understood that practice to be honest. I just mostly observed them as I was there in the corner of the living room while I sipped my beer. I know that most of them never really felt their “deepest sympathies”, it was just a way to comfort us. But why is it we humans would go to the extent of lying just to comfort someone else’s grief?

Is it because we really care? I don’t know, emotions were never really my cup of tea.

That dreaded day kept replaying in my mind as I stared at the window in the funeral home. The strong pour of the rain only encouraged my active pessimistic thoughts, it bugged me as much as my questions of not really being there for my dad – or my dad not really being there for much of my life.

My dad, Elias, loved his military career. So much so that for practically half of my life he would be at military tours rather than my family’s most important moments. It was duty over family for him. I know that he loved us, but the country will always come first for him.

It was thanks to this practice that I inherited the same ethic from my dad. I still care for my family, sure. But that image of a close family being together for whatever happens, that’s not my life. A shame really, I was never really a family man – and unfortunately I’ll never be one.

This sort of regret comes to me, to which I try to distract my thoughts thinking about work. Observing my relatives and everyone else paying their respects to my dad is something to behold. It oddly calms me, that I’m just a few steps away as I see them converse and chat about my dad’s life, escapades and so on.

Suddenly, my phone rings.

Finally, a distraction from my emotional turmoils.

“Sir, what is it?”

“Aidan” my boss calls “How are you? I hope everything is alright.”

“Everything is fine sir. I’ll get over it, I’ll be back to work in 4 days.”

“I hope to see you again as soon as possible. I know how hard it is to lose a loved one. But we’ll need you focused. If you need more time to mourn just tell me.”

“I’ll be fine sir. In 4 days I can handle it.”

“Alright, take care.”

“Take care sir.”

Just as I ended my call, Caleb walks by to check me up.

“Bro, that was your boss I assume? Mourn with us, you shouldn’t stress yourself with your work. Don’t be too hard on yourself.”

“Caleb, you don’t need to sympathize with me. You know very well how I feel about these things. I don’t want to sound harsh, but I’d rather be working than being stuck in this den of depression.”

“You never really changed brother, what’s bothering you? Is it your work?”

“Yeah, work. I just can’t get it off my thoughts.”

“You can tell me, you know.”

“No need, you wouldn’t understand.”

My brother nods, and he goes back to entertain our guests. Maybe I am a bit harsh, but I’d rather not pretend that I’m a family man myself. My family respects this. I do wish to change, but it’s too late now. That opportunity has long been gone.

Besides, my work is a much more important point in my life right now.

In a year from now, the elections are about to start. My work involves dealing with issues that may damage the reputation of one of our country’s congressmen. I am practically his public relations hitman. I make him look good, so that he can focus on important shit while I handle the dirty ones.

The fact that there’s only 360 days left before the general elections means more mudslinging, shallow discourse, and libelous statements. It’s gonna be hell, but I’d rather face that hell than become wallowed in my personal problems.

That job of mine was offered to me a year ago. Back then I was already working for 3 years in a think tank where I dealt with various projects concerning politics and the like. My old boss knew my current boss, and so that’s pretty much how I got the job.

At that time, my current boss needed someone to help him make his boss’ local project look good. I was already getting bored with my old job, so I took the chance. Problem was, this project we were dealing with involved mining. Worst of all, the area concerned affected indigenous lands. To make that project look good is like making shit smell like high end perfume; it was almost impossible.

Luckily – for me I guess – that area was also infested with rebels fighting the government over issues of poverty. So the way my boss and I dealt with the project’s image was two-fold. One, we made it look like the “job package” that would provide opportunities for nearby residents. Two, we spreaded malicious rumors claiming that the indigenous people against the mining project were also working with the rebels. Thankfully, the rebels themselves were not seen kindly by many of the residents nearby.

Our job was successful, the media bought our bullshit and the boss of my boss got it passed in congress. The government did the rest of the work dealing with the rebels and indigenous people. From there, the rest was history.

Is my job dirty? Yes, unprincipled even. But hey, when you can’t even call your boss by their name when talking to them in public, you know very well it’d be damn dirty. If only my dad knew what I’ve been doing right now, he’d understand. I know that as a soldier, he had to get his hands dirty from time to time too.

I’m not a soldier like my dad, I’m a hitman. A loyal hitman to be exact, one that only answers to my boss and to his boss.

Funny how I just thought about work right now. But as I muse about work I noticed that our relatives and close friends have already left. How long was I buried in my own thoughts? Was it really that long?

No matter, it’s already 15 minutes before 11 pm. As I face away from the clock, I walk to the very first row to which I’d sit and stare at my dad’s casket. My family is asleep, and I’m all alone. From here, this is how I’m going to mourn. This solitude is what I’ve needed for a long time.

But I’m not just going to mourn for my dad’s demise, I’m going to mourn for myself – all my regrets, my fears, my insecurities and the rest of the turmoils that has gotten me fucked up.

All those past years of memories start to surge into my mind.

But as I was about to get lost again in my thoughts, footsteps interrupt my ritual. I look back as I see Caleb, staring at me as his eyes show how worried he is about me.

“You should go to sleep brother.”

“Not now, I’m in mourning.”

“Then let me mourn with you.”

He walks towards me and sits by my side. I couldn’t take it anymore, these frustrations and turbulence of emotions just suddenly spill out forcing me to break down into tears. I’ve been so strong for all these years, but no longer at least for this night. I lay by my brother’s shoulder. He comforts me, with the most solemn of words he could muster.

“Caleb” I say to him “I don’t understand why my life had to be this way. This family, my work, everything. I don’t know what to do. I’m just fucked up.”

“I don’t know what else to say brother. All I want you to know is that mom and I are just here. Dad may not have been with us for most of our life, but I know he loves you as much as mom and I do. We’ll always be here, even if you constantly try to avoid us – do know that we’ll always be here.”

“These words mean nothing. They’re merely empty, I know it. I know they’re all lies, all of it just to comfort us from not accepting the bitter truths we hold.”

“Then at least accept this lie, for it will be better than the troubled truths you forcibly hold on to yourself.”

“I cannot, I’ll never accept this lie. We’re not a close family, all because dad never cared for us. He picked his duty over us, so let me do the same.”

Our conversation was cut short as my phone rang.

I wiped my tears with my hands before I answered the call. It was from my boss. I tried to calm myself for a few seconds to prepare myself  in answering the call. I wouldn’t want to sound so rough talking to my boss thanks to my cries.

“Aidan, I’m sorry if I had to call you this late. But it’s an emergency. We have reports that our bill is about to be scrapped within congress in the following days. If you could give us some suggestions about this, that’ll be fine. But I know that you’re in mourning so….”

“It’s fine sir, I’ll meet you tomorrow. Let’s discuss about it.”

“I thought you needed 4 days to rest?”

“I assume this is an emergency sir? My emotions will have to take a back seat I’m afraid. Don’t worry, I can handle myself.”

“Alright Aidan, take care of yourself. See you tomorrow.”

As I end my call, I stood up so as to leave the room and rest for my work tomorrow. But as I was about to leave, my brother walks towards me and puts his hand on my shoulder as a gesture of comfort.

“If dad were alive, I’m sure he’d apologize to us… to you as well.”

I turn to face my brother and said “I know, but it’s too late now is it? He’s already dead. Good night Caleb.”

“Just one more thing. Are you going to leave us again brother?”

“I’m afraid so.”

 

 

Rethinking Mar Roxas

If there is any takeaway from Mar Roxas and Duterte’s slapserye, it only shows that Mar Roxas is the bigger loser of the duel. Indeed, Duterte’s unique charisma has his followers defending him to death. From his daring of Mar Roxas to release his Wharton records to inadvertently cursing the Pope. One makes you think that simply playing Duterte’s game of being tough ass will not work in Mar’s favor.

In fact, Mar Roxas public relations (PR) strategy in totality isn’t really getting him the popularity he needs to win the election. How many times does he have to be a traffic enforcer to relate with the poor? Or he could probably do fist bumps with school children, and bring out this sort of pa-cool vibe with the youth. Maybe he could rely on KatNiel to get the youth vote. But in any case he tries to relate with the masa, the people still don’t buy it.

Mr. Palengke no longer applies

And that’s the problem with Mar Roxas’ campaign strategy. The Liberal Party and his PR team must understand that the voting masa today aren’t as easy to convince compared to before. With communication technologies becoming more accessible to the poor, utilizing the same PR strategy from 10 years back doesn’t work anymore. The masa may enjoy their slapstick teleseryes from time to time, but nonetheless they hold a much higher standard when deciding who to vote for.

Ultimately, what the masa wants is someone who can promise them a decent standard of living without worrying about their children being stuck in the cycle of poverty. This is why they’re willing to vote for someone like Vice President Binay, even if he has allegations of corruption. Just look at how Binay’s PR has emphasized free health care, free education, and other social services in the tune of Only Binay.

We from the middle and upper class will find Binay’s PR as a joke or even unconvincing. And yes, we from the bourgeoisie will easily assume that the masa are so shallow to fall for such promises. But if you’re someone who comes from the lower echelons of society, you’ll see this differently. After all, when you’re constantly hungry and feel as if the system is being unfair towards you, Binay’s promises seems to be the masa’s guaranteed future. They’ll settle with him because the way they see it: “even if he is corrupt, at least he will feed us”.

For Mar Roxas, the masa can only ask how Tuwid Na Daan could feed the poor.

Frankly, Mar Roxas’s gimmicks such as pretending to be a traffic enforcer will not tell the masa how you plan to feed them. It only makes him look even worse.

Who is the real Mar?

So we know that Mar Roxas’ current PR isn’t working, so what can we do about it? For starters, the Liberal Party must go back from scratch and reassess who really is Mar Roxas. Before we look at his experience, we must first look at his character. He’s no masa boy, but everyone – even from the poor – love someone who is likeable as a person.

So what makes Mar Roxas likeable? Is he a good husband? Is he intelligent? He’s obviously rich, but can the Liberal Party machinery show that even a rich man can serve the poor?

When you’re able to emphasize his good traits, it’s time to look at his experience. What did he do in his stint as congressman, DTI Secretary, and heck even as DILG secretary? Of course, the biggest question is how did his policies in his previous positions helped the poor? If it’s true that Mar Roxas authored the cheaper medicines act, his PR could easily relate this achievement by emphasizing how he made medicines more accessible for the common masa. It’s these kinds of things that his commercials should brag, instead of being pa-cool with celebrities.

Dealing with controversies

Moreover, he must answer the hard questions that continue to pound him, particularly his perceived failure to revitalize the MRT and his achilles heel during Yolanda.

I’ve noticed that whenever Mar Roxas talks about his debacle with the MRT, he tends to be too technical. Good for those well informed about trains, but terrible to most who do not understand his jargons. His PR team must find a way to make the technicalities more understandable. If he can do this, the people may just buy it so long as they find it reasonable.

For Yolanda’s case, he must find a way that proves he did more than enough to prevent the catastrophe that took place – and he must package this message in a way that doesn’t sound like he’s blaming someone else. Because people are tired of the blame game when it comes to Yolanda, they want accountability at the forefront of the said issue.

Maybe he could emphasize the fact that Yolanda was the strongest typhoon on record, and therefore he could only do so much as DILG Secretary to prevent the catastrophe. But of course that’s not enough, we know that accountability is what people want. If he needs to apologize for it, even if he believes that he has no need to do so, then so be it. He could apologize, then explain how becoming president will make it easier for him to compensate the victims of the tragedy. He’ll certainly get bruises by doing so, but at least it would lessen his image as an uncaring and heartless person.

The long journey to Malacanang

There is still a long way before the May elections, giving him ample time to prove that he deserves the presidency. It’s surprising that with all the machinery and finances that Mar Roxas has, this has still failed to capture the hearts and minds of the public. Binay and Duterte seem to be the more popular choice. But if Mar wishes to beat them at the popularity game, he must realize that his gimmicks will not win him the presidency.

Tuwid Na Daan will be an insufficient message to get him the votes in 2016. It only worked in 2010 because they were going against a very unpopular and said to be corrupt administration. But people today are looking for stability and a guaranteed future, which for them is just as important – and maybe even more so – as an honest government. Mar Roxas needs to look for another message that will get people’s trust back to him.

But to do so, he must humble himself by recognizing his weaknesses. Only then can he become a formidable presidential candidate. Only then, could we may see a Roxas Administration in 2016.

Nosce te ipsum

Students of the social sciences are first taught to face hard truths. We were bred to assess social reality and see if it conforms with our ideology so that if dissonance arises, we may adjust our own views in order to harmonize with the external world.

Such critical perspectives are also necessary in assessing our own personality, character, and behavior. We do it all the time, but not always consciously. This constant self-scrutiny leads to that feeling of a dreaded perception of inauthenticity within ourselves. What used to be common practice seems so wrong, stretching not just our thoughts but our very values to its limitations. For this internal conflict did not root from an instance of sudden realization, but rather as a result of day-to-day activities that led to your individual awakening. Ultimately by accepting this change, you come to accept a new idol of yourself subsequently embracing it with delight. If not delight, a sense of relief.

Those years of being who you were is now a strange person to you. But you come to accept those terms. You are now a different person with some values left behind while others newly embraced to make you accept this new authenticity. We usually take this for granted, this constant endeavor exploring our very own being. What better way to mock it so by transforming it into clichéd statement that seems so shallow as “people change.” But nothing can come farther from the truth, for it is this very change that argues for the beauty of our own identity.

BF Bonanza! (Part 1)

Surprise, surprise mofos. It looks like we’ll be blogging about food, travel and all those bourgeois stuff that you get to see often in Facebook or Instagram. Admittedly, food blogging isn’t my forte per se. I don’t have that same ability to sensitively distinguish different tastes as compared to the more prominent bloggers in the field. You might also be worried that I may be overbloating my blog. But you have to remember that regardless of the technicalities of the topics I write sometimes, I still consider this as my personal blog. Hence, I pretty much write whatever I feel like and you can’t really do anything about it.

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Okay, maybe you can do something about it if you guys stop reading my blog. I need the attention okay?

But I digress. What I noticed when it comes to going out and eating tasty food is – that besides the food of course – the experience that people enjoy when going out to eat is worth mentioning as well. Food bloggers tend to just concentrate on the food itself, but not necessarily with the experience associated with it. Hence why I also included travel ´in combination with the food section of this blog, since splurging on food and traveling to God know’s where tend to be interconnected in today’s globalized world.  Well anyway, that’s what this section of the blog is about. So, let’s get started on the meat of the issue (pun not intended).


BF Homes has been known to be the Maginhawa of the South. Just in case you guys are foreigners or have been living under a rock, Maginhawa is this famous strip of road up north in Quezon City that has a lot of great restaurants and cafes. There are already a lot of food blogs dedicated to that place, so I’m not really planning on going there.

BF Homes also holds a special place in my heart since it houses my elementary school, Southville International School and Colleges. That doesn’t mean I’m a rich kid though for enrolling in such a prestigious school, it just means that I have very generous Ninongs and Ninangs. So yeah, you can say my first food blog brings up a lot of memories for me.

But yeah, you guys are probably wondering why I wasted 300+ words without seeing the food yet.

(Just chill, it’s coming. I told you, we’re not just concentrating on the food itself.)

So I was waiting for Steffi to accompany me to BF Homes, cause it’s been a long time since I’ve been there and I don’t want to be lost and alone. I’d like to thank her a lot for accompanying me, it made the food blogging experience more worth while. She has a blog by the way, you can follow her at moonlightscreams.wordpress.com.

But yeah, the first place I tried while waiting for Steffi was none other than Dakasi. Technically speaking, Dakasi is still in BF Homes, it just so happens to be inside a huge SM mall so it still counts! I tried Dakasi’s Bubble Milk Tea. A bit too sweet on the side, but it had this creamy texture to make it up. I found their regular size pretty big for me as well. So for 90 pesos, I guess it’s worth its own price. Better than overpriced Starbucks Frappe I’d say the least.

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Pretty much Dakasi SM BF’s interior. Just took a pic of it cause I like tall buildings.

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It was all over in Philippine news recently that two people got poisoned for drinking milk tea. Hopefully that doesn’t happen to me.

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I actually find Dakasi’s cover for their milk tea to be adorable, but only because I didn’t die of milk tea poisoning and that I like tall buildings.

But obviously, I didn’t come to BF Homes just to visit one of Dakasi Philippines’ branches. So out of all the restaurants and cafes that I had to pick (cause there were literally a multitude to pick, and I had a limited budget), I decided to pick one cafe and one restaurant.

As Steffi and I got to see each other, we first headed to this cafe she recommended me. It’s called Magnum Opus. It’s kinda difficult to look for in BF Homes if you’re not familiar with the place, since the area is pretty small and discreet.

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Like this discreet, just above the dental clinic that’s gonna rip your teeth out for drinking too much sugary drinks.

Don’t let the exterior fool you. The inside of the cafe is pretty cozy, with the interior complementing its small size.

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Just like your average cafe, except with better looking people.

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Paintings, curtains to aesthetically cover the bathroom entrance, and a service of love!

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Just looking at the stuff in the counter. Look at all those sticky notes, and don’t forget to give a tip or two in the jar.

The drinks cost around 100 pesos to 250 pesos depending on the type of coffee, frappe, iced latte or any other sugary drink you want to order. I was told by Steffi that the cafe also sells coffee worth 1000 pesos. Yes, a coffee more expensive than your overpriced Starbucks! Wasn’t able to try it cause I was too proletariat to pay for the price of over expensive coffee, so I just settled with the cafe’s Belgian Heartbreak instead.

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Settled with Magnum Opus’ Belgian Heartbreak out of Steffi’s recommendation, and not because my heart was broken by the price tag of that 1000 pesos coffee mentioned earlier.

Yes, it’s cute enough that the cafe topped off the drink with the heart in the center, but how does it taste like? Well, I kinda found out why they called it the Belgian Heartbreak. And not because I was bitter about my non-existent love life. You could taste the Belgian dark chocolate just from the first sip, mixed with the cream on top. The dark chocolate in the drink isn’t really that strong though, it’s just in the right amount that you get to enjoy the drink without the extreme bitterness associated with your first heartbreak.

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Hey look! A roof deck.

Yup, to accommodate for its small space, Magnum Opus has a roof deck beside it. It’s a great place to enjoy your drink and chat with someone at the same time. Much more in sunny but slightly windy days in the Summer to which Steffi and I were lucky to experience while we were in the roof deck. You could also check out the neighborhood from the roof deck, but you won’t really get to see much since there are a couple of slightly taller buildings nearby blocking your view.

Overall, I enjoyed my stay in Magnum Opus. They have decent service, the cafe was cozy, and the roof deck is a chill place to stay whenever the weather’s great. It’s definitely the go-to-place for those who wish to just have a great conversation with someone. Steffi and I got admired talking to each other for around 2 hours in the cafe’s roof deck, with our discussion ranging from great times abroad to bitter-sweet memories that resembled the very Belgian Heartbreak that I was drinking. I’d say my overall experience with Magnum Opus was an 8/10.


Next up, Steffi and I visit a Korean restaurant in BF Homes named Jang Ga Rae. BF Homes is also known to be an unofficial Korean Town, so why not try out authentic Korean food? But that will be featured in part 2 of the blog.

Interstellar – When Science Speaks To Humanity

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The movie Gravity was said to have established the standard when it comes to movies depicting fairly accurate scientific laws and theories. But ever since the release of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, it seems that Gravity does not hold this recognition any longer – not because its depiction of science wasn’t in the same level of accuracy than Interstellar, but rather that Interstellar depicted a mind blowing and beautiful visualization of theoretical physics that seemed more enticing than “flying space objects”.

Of course, such comparative analysis may seem shallow as it sounds like I’m only tackling the visual effects – but it is not easy to simplify theoretical physics in such a way that the movie utilizes it as several plot devices spread over to transform its narrative. Indeed, to “laymanize” theoretical physics alone is an amazing feat in itself. But what Interstellar did was to go beyond the said challenge, using scientific concepts as a device in telling a great story!

The movie begins upon the premise of Earth’s impending doom. Mankind is challenged by the notion that sooner or later, it must find a new home somewhere in the stars. While seemingly sounding like another “doomsday movie”, Interstellar refreshes the theme by asking difficult moral choices both implied and explicit throughout the decisions and dialogues of its several characters. The machiavellians clash with the liberals within the film, of which Interstellar drums up the dramatization just enough to get its audience hooked while leaving out the cheesiness. This movie is definitely for the “thinking layman”. For every morally grey question posed by the film, it entices us to ask ourselves if the survival of humanity is worth the actions we decide. It’s through this constant self-assessment to which Interstellar hooks its audience until the end of the film.

As mentioned, science as a utility plays a deep role within the story. Interstellar is able to simplify the complex mumbo-jumbo of theoretical physics mostly through dialogues among the characters. While this serves as a challenge for the film to keep its audience interested, such tactics worked for Interstellar. This is because the movie never bothered to separate morality from science itself. Instead, the movie’s narrative presented it in a single package, to which these ideas sometime clash – and at other times play in unison. In fact, the narrative presents its characters as being challenged and flabbergasted by this question.

“Does it necessitate to sacrifice our humanity to save humanity?”

Once you watch the entire movie, you will probably understand this question even more. And that’s what makes Interstellar so compelling. The fair accuracy of its science is great, but the movie’s continuous focus on morality – and the hard truths that come with it – is what gives this movie the potential to become an Oscar-winner. The manner to which the scenes are presented are done so in harmony of the movie’s general themes. The characters are relatable in a way, but not necessarily through their characteristics; but more so through their struggles. These struggles were presented and directed in a visually tense form, compounding the already great narrative of the movie.

There have been some minor issues that I faced with the film, such as in some of the scenes where I could barely understand Matthew McConaughey’s accent. But such “nitpickish” problems did not stray me away from the movie. There’s so much more for me to say about the film, but I’d rather that you watch it yourself.

Of course, there have been those who may have been confused with some of the science depicted in the film – and it’s alright if you got a bit confused with those scenes mentioned. Youtube and 9gag have several charts and videos to help you untie those confusions. Yet, I’d personally say that the experience of watching Interstellar is even greater if you at least understand some of the basics of general relativity and quantum mechanics. It makes the movie experience so much better.

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Don’t worry, you don’t need to read on the hard maths of general relativity. Wikipedia is there to the rescue!

Overall, I’d give the movie a 9/10. Fairly accurate science, great story, and more exciting than Gravity in my point of view. And, of course, theoretical physics is sexy!

Semper tuus ero

Always, I am there ’til the night.
I will love you and love you so.
I’ll turn the day into your dream,
And I’ll be in your dream as you close your eyes.

Always, I will fight for your sake.
I don’t know how I will do so,
But I will always find a way.
And I promise to never break promises.

Always, I will be with you.
In mornings, I’ll wake your senses.
In evenings, I’ll serenade them.
And the precious little time I have will be yours.

Always, you are mine.
I’ll stand up no matter the fall.
I know I’m not perfect for you,
But I’d rather lose our fights than lose you.

Always, I hurt you.
I try the best I could, I swear.
Please don’t scream into the sunset,
Nor throw those gifts and trinkets I gave you.

Always, we just fight.
It will always remain the same.
You changed, and so did I my dear.
Yet I still pretend that what we have remains the same.

Always, I say “stay”.
I don’t know if I still love you,
But I don’t know a life without you.
So please don’t leave, even if you want to.

Always, I give up.
Gone are now the efforts I gave.
The sparks that we had, has now vanished.
So why am I still with you, and why are you still with me?

Always, I remember.
The days we met in November.
Dear, If only I knew better,
Maybe I could still whisper these lovely words to your ear, “semper tuus ero”.

And always, I am yours – but only a memory that I remember still vividly.

That Thing Called Tadhana – Where Bitter People Go To Watch

That Thing Called Tadhana is not a romantic film, nor a film that defends the sanctity of romance – such perspectives in reference to the opinion that regardless of tribulations, a relationship must last forever. This is because the film’s premise bases itself on the very simple fact that “forever” does not exist. It is an hobbesian presentation of an unsweetened and harsh truth that as life itself is brutish, so must romance be decided on this very similar basis.

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Baguio? Sagada? Nope, probably in your room. Alone. Asking yourself why you’re terribly single.

Indeed, the beginning of the movie alone already dictates the flow and entirety of the film. It begins with Mace (played by Angelica Panganiban) coming home from Rome right after her huge breakup with her ex-boyfriend of 8 or so years. Her current circumstances lead her to meeting Anthony (played by JM de Guzman) as the two go on a journey in decoding Mace’s very insecurities and frustrations from her past romantic relationship. It definitely sounds like your average (non) romantic flick, but That Thing Called Tadhana relies strongly on execution to deliver its message to the audience. Personally, I didn’t really feel any sort of romantic chemistry between the two protagonists. But that’s exactly the point that the movie is trying to portray its characters. Mace and Anthony were never meant to have chemistry, to which the story frankly strays away from the cliched “strangers turned lovers” storyline. Such tropes aren’t fitting for the film’s plot.

There are times though that I could barely hear the dialogue between Mace and Anthony. While such deliverance of dialogues are indeed realistic – going against your average “I must shout to state my opinion in a overtly dramatic way” cliche of Filipino romance – it seems that the sound director forgot to make their character’s discussions comfortably audible where you don’t need to raise sound volumes to full levels. But audibility problems in the film were more of a nuisance rather than a major errata. I also didn’t like how JM De Guzman would always have his mouth slightly open while staring at something or at blank space. Actually, you should be noticing by now that I’m nitpicking, but only because the film was well executed. Acting was decent and believable. Visuals were cutely drawn and well done in enriching the movie’s story. It had a simple plot, which is girl needs to move on with some guy’s help. A 5th grader can conceive of such a storyline, but to execute it requires a mix of patience and talent.

Director and Writer (Antoinette Jadaone) seems to have both skill traits. After all, she was also involved in the equally successful romantic Filipino film, English Only, Please. The difference, of course, between the two films is very evident. Jadaone’s previous work – English Only, Please – seeks to refresh Filipino romantic films within the confines of mainstream criteria. In contrast, That Thing Called Tadhana worked with the presumption that it would only cater to viewers of independent films. Little did we expect that the movie would garner mainstream status.

And I’d gladly emphasize that it is the very indie nature of That Thing Called Tadhana that made it alluring to the public. After all, niches in the local movie industry are slowly evolving. The age of ultra-cliched romantic movies have come to pass. They’re stale, boring – and no amount of star power could save this cliched trend from utter irrelevancy. Instead, they are monopolized among groups of teen romance die hard fans. But not everyone are die hard fans of love teams. With social media driving trends on romance to be more personal, more accurate, That Thing Called Tadhana was simply the right film in the right moment to capture this hunger for such demand.

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Yeah, not everyone is a fan of Mr. “We got it all for you!”. Neseye ne eng lehet, right?

And with the movie capturing a huge box office of P120 million, this may only set the precedence for more similarly constructed films to be shown to the mainstream public. Of course, cliched romantic films will still exist – but will move to more limited roles with a much more defined audience. But if you’re interested in seeing a grittier and personal take on romance – or the lack of it – then That Thing Called Tadhana is the perfect medicine for such desires. It does not pander to romantic dialogues, nor star power tandems – but at least it’s honest. It’s this very honesty that made it a successful and well executed movie in the first place.

Review Score: 8/10

Senator Cayetano: Defender of the Nation

In the midst of tribulations, a beacon of hope shines for the Philippines: Senator Cayetano, defender of the nation! Young and wise. One who cannot be deceived by falsifications and lies.

Our nation is at peril. Malaysia is at our doorstep, ready to steal our very lands and resources. Only one man can protect our sovereignty – Senator Cayetano! For he knows the lies and deceit of our traitorous peace panel. After all, he sponsored this so-called Bangsamoro Basic Law. Isn’t it great that in the midst of political crisis, he revoked such sponsorship? Surely our people understand. It’s simply politics.

Terrorists and rebellions grow in strength. Of course, the good Senator does not wish for war. But we must die for peace. Our soldiers who have seen war itself should understand this, and he’s sure that those who will be affected by such conflict will understand too. This sacrifice, after all, is for our democracy. For one nation, with one culture under one flag! The Filipino race.

The honorable Senator is also a great diplomat. Because the greatest tool for diplomacy is no diplomacy at all. He knows that to understand the enemy is to believe their lies.Therefore, there is no use in understanding our enemy.

No wonder our peace panel needs to be replaced, they’re too soft and forgiving. They have drank the lies of the MILF. Can they not understand the beliefs of the great Senator when it comes to the the art of negotiations?

If Senator Cayetano had his way with the peace process, it would be a zero-sum game. We can rectify the Moro’s claims of historical injustice if we assert that they lay down their arms and accept their Filipino identity. Otherwise, we pulverize them to kingdom come.

That’s diplomacy, the Senator Cayetano way. It’s simple as that. Such is common when viewing the action-riddled movies that he has watched over the years.

But the challenges of the great Senator become ever so heavier. He has gained critics for his blunt views. He does not mind, however, as they’re all political opportunists or paid hacks of the Malaysian government. It is great to see that his many supporters share the same view.

The Moro question has a simple answer for Senator Cayetano. Either they surrender to the government’s will or be expelled by whatever means necessary. It’s that simple for Senator Cayetano, and it’s quite astonishing why so many treat this decades-old conflict as some sort of complex situation.

Can they not see the simplicity and genius of Senator Cayetano’s proposals? Our current president does not understand, the peace panel does not understand, and neither does Robin Padilla.

So damn the views of Robin Padilla and his fellow Muslims! He’s only against the Senator because of politics. If Muslims had their way, our democracy would have never existed. Just look at our neighbors – Malaysia and Indonesia!

But just imagine if we had Senator Cayetano at the helm of our military. Just imagine, for once, that we have Senator Cayetano as our brave Commander-in-Chief. I’m sure that he will keep his word, that we must be ready to die for our democracy. Of course, we the people should be the first in line. It would be terrible if the great Cayetano is at the very forefront of conflict, when instead he should be leading – at the very comfort of the capital where he’ll be busy creating strategies based on his war movies.

Yet such imaginations are not realized, for now at least. But that’s okay, because without Senator Cayetano we would continue to be blind. If it wasn’t for Senator Cayetano, we wouldn’t know that the MILF were terrorists all along – and that we were actually negotiating with terrorists when it should not be so!

But critics argue that the MILF terrorists were actually “helpful”. Without them and the ad hoc joint action group, they say that it would be difficult for our military to defeat the other terrorist groups like Abu Sayaff.

Senator Cayetano, rightly so, sees through this deception. They’re all the same, for he is an expert with his extensive knowledge on terrorist issues. MILF, Abu Sayaff, BIFF, BFF of the MILF – they’re all the same brand of terrorism just with the different flavors or shades. Just like a hydra, we establish a ceasefire with one group – two more pop out. Whatever agreement or joint action group we have, it becomes useless. Why can’t these deluded peace advocates see the lies?

Ah, but once you agree with the insightful knowledge of Senator Cayetano – you will understand why we can’t pass this so-called Bangsamoro Basic Law. There’s no point in negotiating with the MILF. No matter how many UN-sanctioned agreements they sign, no matter if the international community continues to support this so-called peace process, we cannot trust them .

We can only trust in the hope of one man, and that is Senator Cayetano – Defender of the Nation. Protector of the Filipino Race, and maybe, our next Commander-in-Chief.

Wine

No circumstance would leave,
For a time our stories weave.
Indeed it was you,
To which my life I’d view.

A constant, you were mine.
For the length of time our relationship became like wine.
The longer it was,
The greater we’d surpass.

And this wine we cherished,
Of its joys we’d ravish.
Together we reaped,
But truth can’t be unzipped.

Realizations came,
Our wine would never be the same.
For wine it was not,
But disillusions it brought.

Forbidden, yet we drank,
And our future together now blank.
Farther we drifted,
In a space, neglected.

This wine, I regret.
This wine, I regret.
Not once, twice, three times,
But eternity, I’d carry these crimes.