Redemption & The Metro Manila Film Fetish


I woke up one mid-morning to find online, several scathing reviews of the ongoing Metro Manila Film Fest. 

Each December, the movie industry unleashes its sordid cinematic formula on the public under the rubric of entertainment for the masses, its dubious efforts vindicated only by blockbuster box office bottom lines. This lucrative, annual fête celebrates a form of mind numbing media entertainment; a parade of fantastical creative underachievements obscenely overrated. 

The Metro Manila Film Festival: a parade of fantastical creative underachievements obscenely overrated.

So it was with a sense of solidarity that I read on as the online community expressed their critical displeasure at the star-studded showcase of non-talent, as well as its shameful waste of real talent onscreen. Justly do the doyens of Philippine cinema suffer such ridicule; their mockery is so richly deserved.


It is an ugly idea that many of the festival’s filmmakers are such willing prisoners of box office profit margins, that we often find their creative faculties shriveled beyond hope of redemption. Any attempt at artistic integrity may lie well beyond the compass of many of the MMFF filmmakers’ critically diminished cinematic sensibilities. That is to say, they probably couldn’t have made an intelligent film if they wanted to. More to the point: if they could have they should have by now.

The movie community must find it the greatest consolation that cinematic substance is no prerequisite for profit. If it were, what would become of the industry?

Movies for the masses fill seats with asses.

You may have to lower your expectations. Sadly, most of these people won’t make good movies simply because they can’t.


Conventional wisdom dictates that the masa brings in more sales. It is, therefore, expedient for producers, directors and screenwriters to create mediocre entertainment for an audience incapable of comprehending much else. This reasoning is the equivalent of intellectual vomit, and makes media not only guilty of pandering to a mindless market, but indicts it of helping create that very audience to begin with.

Utter servility to the industry leads inevitably to the betrayal of the craft.

Are blockbuster profits and critical acclaim so mutually exclusive that a filmmaker can’t create a story that is both profitable and worthy of its audience? Whether it be local, foreign, commercial, indie, gay, art, comedy, drama or suspense; the category is of no real consequence. A film is good by virtue of its merits, not its genre.

Jaded moviemakers are quick to use the lazy, hackneyed excuse that their asinine melodramas, plagiarised fantasy stories and regurgitated horror flicks are meant to be purely entertaining. To this one must concede, but only on the precondition that such entertainment is as close to pure drivel as critical thinking is willing to allow.


It is heartening to observe the increasing number of individuals who push back, calling out the rampant foolishness and rank stupidity of the sort we see so often in our culture. It gives one the hope that there may yet be an emerging order of visionaries in Philippine cinema; those who aspire to a higher standard of integrity with such stoic determination that neither the ravages of time nor subsequent advances in technology will ever diminish the power, or the relevance, of the stories they create.

Artistry. Skill. Vision. For these reasons films are worth watching. Now, as then.



Language, Learning, Identity and Privilege: Satire? Really? All This Hate for Nothing?

Most of “Language, Learning, Identity and Privilege’s” scathing indictments are aimed squarely at the person of its author. The literary piece can be, and without vitriol, reasonably considered on its own merit. Indeed, the article acquired its dubious designation as satire only in the teeth of rising opposition to its perceived pomposity. Even so, the essay unambiguously expresses its point that English is a superior language of instruction in education; and that Filipino is a language of the lower classes.

This is the thought it states clearly, with no need for interpretation.

Granted the writer humbly self-deprecates with reference to Rizal's "malansang isda", he nevertheless abnegates that very point in the subsequent paragraph.

Even if the essay were written anonymously, it would still be apparent (and it is strongly suggested in the writing) that the author is certainly not a member of the peasantry. Granted the writer humbly self-deprecates with reference to Rizal’s “malansang isda”, he nevertheless abnegates that very point in the subsequent paragraph. The piece praises Filipino as the Language of Identity, and within the same sentence, relegates Filipino to the streets as the language of the uneducated.

For a moment, allow me to be biased and opinionated in the belief that mastery of any language is a poor measure of intelligence, creativity, or love of country. The same applies to religion as an accurate measure of morality; or print in a national broadsheet as a reliable measure of substance.

Playing the satire card gives the writer an all too easy “out”. Why deny the essay the force of its convictions? If the article was meant to be satirical, the writing on its own, gives little indication of any deliberate or even subtle irony. To classify “Language, Learning, Identity and Privilege” as satire would be an awkward attempt to palliate the trenchant, bigoted view of language that it expresses; regardless of the essayist’s learning or identity or privilege.



*for your perusal, the article to which the above essay refers may be visited at:

Seven Days in Sunny June

SONIC PLATONIC Jamiroquai’s grooves make you wish you could sway like Jay Kay. The chances of this actually happening are close to nil, of course, but we can at least sing along to the song’s lyrics as they give style & panache to an otherwise cloying subject:

“Seven days in sunny June

Were long enough to bloom

The flowers on the summer dress you wore in spring

The way we laughed as one

And then you dropped the bomb

That I’ve know you too long for us to have a thing.”

Baby, Unrequited Love never sounded this good.

Baguio Trail Run

I found myself in Camp John Hay last July 2010 and decided I would run the trails there. So I set out alone before sunrise and was greeted by the early morning fog, the crisp, fresh air and the steep, root strewn network of endlessly twisting singletrack. In no time flat, I was lost. And in my abject despair, did what any person lost in a forest (before breakfast) would do: I took a picture of myself in the name of social media.

And So It Goes

SECRET MUSIC There are songs far from heavy playlist rotation, reserved for that rare moment when the mind is unhurried and still. Its lyrics are as uncluttered and clear as they are deep and profound; its lingering notes haunt you with ghosts of silent longing. Few songs I know can embody the fragile, perfect balance between words and music as this.

Vivaldi Guitar Concierto in D

SESAME STREET imprinted this song on my memory when I was little. It would be more than 20 years before I even put a name to the anonymous piece. A 300 year old adagio, set to the lingering visuals of a dewed flower in the most unassuming of places, had a powerful, poignant impact on me. It is awesome that a seemingly random thought, planted in our heads in infancy, wields so much influence on our future histories.

Symphonicities: King of Pain

I first heard this song in grade 6, got blown away by its graphic lyrics, and decided I would be a fan. The piece has been to done to death over the years and just when you think it impossible to eke out a new arrangement, along comes this joyful reinvention. Couldn’t help swearing in amazement as each measure revealed itself in philharmonic perfection.

Goosebumps on my goosebumps.

All This Time

A favorite song is a personal anthem; its lyrics become your mantra; its essence becomes your philosophy; its melody has the power to uplift your waning spirit; its arrangement can blanket you from all anxious cares; and its bridge can steel your trembling resolve.

This is my favorite song.

Kiss On My List

SONG NUMBERS This song was released by Hall & Oates 31 years ago in 1980. At the time Rob Thomas was 8; Daryl Hall, 34. The single stayed at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for 3 weeks. Despite their 26 year age gap, these 2 artists prove that good music is no respecter of generation, status or statistics. It’s now 2011, Thomas is 39; Hall, 65. And this 5min 45sec performance guarantees satisfaction 100%.