Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rude Rant: 5 Tips for the Promdi

1.) Escalator Vanity encourages photobombers. 

Avoid taking pictures of your friends while on a mall escalator because it's annoying having to adjust myself just so that I don't accidentally photobomb your shot. Seriously, there's nothing special with this escalator and the next one won't be any better. The next time I see a person doing this, I will intentionally place myself in the shot with my best I-will-kill-you-in-your-sleep smile.

Beware the "I-will-kill-you-in-your-sleepsmile. 
Consequently, DON'T EVER take pictures when going up or down the stairs. I will push you, and I will laugh when you fall.

2.) Buses hate old ladies.

"Lampas na ho kayo. Hindi kasi kayo nagsabi."
The thousands of buses moving around Metro Manila all go to different places. Check twice before getting on any because it would be more than just a little troublesome figuring out where to get off without getting even more lost. NEWSFLASH (Even to frail old ladies): Bus drivers and conductors couldn't care any less about where you end up, and any mishaps will always be considered your fault.

Basic bus lingo translated:
  • "Maluwang pa" - Trip to jerusalem ang labanan at malapit nang matapos ang tugtog.
  • "Makakaupo" -  Asa ka pang makaupo.
  • "Usog na lang po sa likod" - Gumagawa tayo nang isang higanteng lata ng sardinas. World Record ba.
  • "Bawal magbaba dito" - Dun ka na bumaba sa kabila. Bawal din, pero dun walang pulis.

3.)  The LRT/MRT card is not rocket science.

That little hole is your friend. That's what she said.
You know what that little hole on one corner of the LRT/MRT card means? Surprise, surprise, it's to show you what orientation the card should be when you enter or exit the station. And that's assuming you don't notice the not-so-subtle arrows on the cards with the same purpose! 

Ideally, it should only take one journey on any of the train lines for you to figure out how that small piece of card works.  People on Manila trains already have no concept of patience and personal space as it is without having to deal with  people trying every possible card orientation BUT the right one.
4.) Provincial plate number? Beware the crocodiles.

If your car not only has a provincial plate number but is at the same time covered in the dirt and grime accumulated from hundreds of kilometers of travel, you are going to be a prime target for MMDA officials. If there's ever a time when you should drive perfectly then your visit to the city would be it, because one wrong move and you'll find yourself sponsoring the next snack or meal of some crafty policemen. Swerving, beating the red light, and not wearing seat belts are only a few of the usual culprits. 
NOT the answer, by the way. DON'T be like this guy.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not claiming that all policemen are corrupt. It's just that I've never seen any officer who has refused a few Ube or Yellow bills when it's time to eat. Just saying.
5.) Manila taxi drivers can be a big headache. Literally!
If you ever need to ride a cab in the big city, try your hardest to get an MGE taxi, Dollar taxi, or any of the other colored taxis. The white taxis are usually the ones who spell trouble and would try to get you to pay extra with excuses of traffic and such nonsense. Always stick to the meter, and don't let yourself be fooled by any of their ploys.
Be careful, though. Once, we paid the exact meter amount when we got off, and the taxi driver got p***ed. I got a 5-peso coin hurled at my head just because the taxi driver is an a** hat and felt entitled to more money.
NOT what I meant by colored taxi, by the way.

Does anyone else have any tips to share?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Cine Europa 2012: Oui! Si! Belissimo! Nein! (and other random European words)

One of the reasons I like going to Shang, aside from the quiet and space due to the lack of crowds other malls normally have, is that they play host to different film festivals in which, for the sad unawares, admission is free. These past two weeks, Cine Europa, which showcased films from (surprise, surprise!) different European countries, was held. Compared to film fests in the past, the crowd of attendees this year has grown much bigger. It unsettled me that most who were there had no other reason in watching aside from the fact that it’s free. It made me feel bad that the movies were playing for the wrong audience who, being used to watching visually-arresting but mindless blockbusters, might not appreciate them. But, as my sister wisely pointed out, it can also serve as an avenue to educate people that there also films of substance out there that they can enjoy.

Out of the many films on schedule, I had the chance to watch three films, which was plenty enough for me. These three were all different from their country of origin, decade where they belonged, the storyline, of course, and the general atmosphere of the movie.

The first movie I was able to see was “Lidice” from Czech Republic. Because we had decided at the last minute to watch due to its convenience of time, we lined up, utterly clueless of what we were about to see. Had I known what was coming, I would have a very different reaction altogether.

From the first few seconds of the film, it was apparent that there would be no laughing involved. What we did not expect, was that it was a Nazi movie. Lidice, as it turns out, was an actual town, which took the fall for the assassination of a high-ranking official. Frantic to find a scapegoat, an innocent letter from Lidice was purposely misinterpreted and used as evidence for the shooting. The result was a town genocide of horrendous proportions. I will no longer describe the details beyond the words death by weighing scale and gas chamber trucks. The protagonist was the only male survivor of the town because he was in prison when the whole thing happened. He had no knowledge of the incident until he, as a free man, found himself standing on a wide patch of snow where the town used to be. The story has more to it, with its sub-plots, but you get the drift. Although I should do more than tell the story and at least give a reaction to the film other than exclaiming my horror, I cannot get past the lifeless faces of the dead and the anguished cries of the mothers to see it as a movie and not as history unfolding itself.  If I have learned anything from this film, it’s that one Nazi movie is enough to watch for a lifetime and in my case, I had two (“Life is Beautiful”). So much for including “Schinder’s List” on my bucket list.

Determined not to make the same mistake of watching unknowingly, I read the synopsis of “The Rest is Silence” (Romania) before heading out. Because it was a labeled as a comedy and as one review puts it, “an intelligent crowd-pleaser”, I was all set to watch. And I was not disappointed. The film is about the making of the first full-length feature film about the war in Romania. In a time where the theatre is watched in throngs, short silent films are a big joke to the arts. And so, it was a huge feat, that a two-hour long film, ambitious as it was, was completed. It highly contrasts the two performance arts. “Hamlet” in theatre is a four-hour long show of colourful and elaborate costumes and poignant poetry uttered with the grace and eloquence that can only be perfected by years of study. Whereas, in film, it is only a ten-minute sequence of black and white images, with the actors gesturing wildly as they have to convey emotions without any audible dialogue and assisted with short intertitles instead.

Carol I: A "director"...?... So what the 
hell does this child do?
Grig:  Me, I reign, Sire!     
The film is ridden with hapless but comical situations brought to life by characters with their flamboyant personas. The chubby young director, determined to break film grounds despite the objections of his father, who happened to be a renowned comic theatre actor. The investor, albeit his reservations, upon watching his first short film cracked up the most long after the laughters have ended.  And the mysterious, beautiful lady, who after the director’s first encounter with her, which was seeing her posing with her breasts au naturale for a painting, keeps popping up in his life. But true to the movie’s promise of a tragedy-comedy, the characters took the turn for the worst, as they faced their dreadful and lonely endings. Still, the somber ending did not taint the post-movie glow I have whenever I enjoyed watching. And as to the title “The Rest is Silence”, aside from the reference to silent films, it was drawn from the last line uttered in “Hamlet” right before he died, which also pertained to the death of the movie characters.

Being second is to be the first 
of the ones who lose.  
The film I am most excited about is “Senna” (UK). It is a actually, a documentary of Ayrton Senna, a racing driver legend. He is the Manny Pacquaio of Brazil, only handsome. He has three Formula One World Championships under his belt and numerous podium finishes. In every win, he never hesitates to wave his Brazilian flag up high (literally), a testament that he is proud of his roots.
The documentary captures the very first time he raced in Europe, up to that faithful day of his untimely death. It features footages from the races, including his in-car camera, interviews, and closed-door meetings. We are given front row seats to the highs and lows of his career, which I never imagined to be ridden with so much controversy and drama. It was as if his life was made for television.  I never knew of his existence before I sat down and watched him on the screen but his death affected me so even though I am 18 years too late. I guess that’s our general reaction whenever someone still young and at the peak of his career dies.

In the first few minutes upon realizing that the film was nothing more than a documentary of some race car driver, a number of people made their way out of the theatre. Some tried to hold their ground but eventually followed suit. It was a documentary and not a biopic because despite the lack of glitz and glamour one could in add in films, it would be hard to capture the raw intensity, uproars of the spectators, and the breathless anticipation of every turn in the tracks from watching the real thing. I myself don’t really watch documentaries but this one was able to get me to hold on to my seat. It took some strategic emphasis, camera angles, and the right commentaries to make it as exciting as it can get. I don’t know if it was intentional but the bromance relationship between Senna and his doctor was a happy departure from the grim scenes presented. It got me laughing when the doctor said that “His (Senna’s) face lights up whenever he sees me.”  

I’ve written more than I intended to and I have to stop myself from gushing about Senna’s cute smile or his endearing Portuguese accent. I should just end by saying that I hope people should take advantage of the various film fests malls, like Shang, have to offer. There are plenty of others film festivals aside from this one to choose from. With so much black hole-sucking movies right in front of our faces, it’s nice to use our brains once in a while.