November 8, 2016

How Quickly We Forget

History, as most dictionaries would put it, it is the study of the past. It is a collection of facts that is studied so that we may learn from the mistakes and be able to forge a better future and not go back to the dark past.

"The study of History is the beginning of wisdom." - Jean Bodin (1530 - 1596), French economist

I believe that studying the past is the stepping stone of understanding ourselves as human beings. The tremendous effort scientists have put into knowing our origin as humans and the earth we live in is a testament of its importance, or else why would they even have interest in it in the first place?

Historians sum the history of the culture in the Philippines as '300 years in the convent and 50 years in Hollywood.' - Now that would be one way of saying it, but as a people we are more than that. History shows that we have historical evidence of different Kingdoms led by Datu and Rajah as early as 900AD. The Spanish did not come to the Philippines until 1521, and did not conquer Manila until 1571. We already had our system of Government even before the Spanish came, but we had several governments controlling their own Kingdom, we were not a Nation.

Today we call our country The Philippines, and our citizens Filipino. But are we a nation?

Photo Credit: Official Gazette of the Philippines

The Marcos Burial

November 8, 2016 - The Supreme Court of the Philippines allowed the Burial of Former President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani (Rough Translation: Cemetery/Grave of the Heroes)

He is known in our history as the Dictator of the Philippines who reigned for 21 years, his long record of corruption and atrocities suffered by the Filipinos from 1965-1986 led the past generation to take the streets and throw him out of the country. 

Well that is the history we've all known, and also that's how the world would put it. But just today, with the decision made by the Supreme Court, the country is put in a historical dilemma, not to mention that a lot rejoiced of the decision, these however are the loyalist who shouts 'Marcos Pa Rin!' 

The Supreme Court defended that they had made the decision based on 5 main reasons. I now lifted the following text in RED from CNN Philippines (Link of Article:

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — It's decided: Former President Ferdinand Marcos can be buried at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani (LNMB), the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.
Voting 9-5, Supreme Court spokesperson Ted Te said the high court dismissed all the petitions challenging the proposed burial of the former strongman Marcos at the Heroes' Cemetery.
He said the Supreme Court dismissed the petitions based on five main reasons:
  1. There was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of President Rodrigo Duterte in ordering the burial of Marcos at LNMB because it was done in the exercise of his mandate. There is also no law that prohibits the burial of Marcos' remains at the LNMB
  2. President Duterte has the power to reserve for public use and for specific public purposes, any of the lands under public domain.
  3. Marcos' remains, under regulations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, can be interred at LNMB because he was a former president, commander-in-chief, soldier, medal of valor awardee, and legislator.
  4. The Supreme Court disagreed Marcos was "dishonorably discharged," saying the disqualification only pertains to the military
  5. Marcos cannot be disqualified from burial at LNMB because he was not convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude.
So who were the judges who voted against and for the burial of Ferdinand Marcos?

Photo Credit: CNN Philippines
Based on the decision of the Supreme Court, Marcos passed all 'legal obstacles'. This was the moment when I realized how faulty the justice system is, or at least in making this decision. I thought that if technicalities is all that is to be decided, he's qualified. But it failed to decide whether it was ethical to let him be buried with 'Heroes'. 

The Supreme Court failed to judge the person by his overall morality. Morality, I believe is the foundation of humanity, it is the universal truth and applies to all nations. The Supreme Court lost their credibility and spat directly on the face of Lady Justice.

"When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness" - Alexis de Tocqueville

Think of this: Adolf Hitler - The head of the Nazi Regime, also a military man. He mobilized the killing of 6 million Jews, he invaded countries. Now if the Supreme Court of the Philippines would decide if he has the right to be buried among the sacred resting grounds of heroes basing only in the legal technicalities of the constitution (That he is a head of state, and a military personnel), I'm sure he is qualified. But what about the murder of 6 million Jews? What about the victims of his crimes? Is it moral to call Adolf Hitler a hero? Even Germany does not think so.

What are we as a nation if our Justice System is not rooted in Morality? 

With this decision, does this discredit all his crimes? Does it mean that the history we knew is flawed and distorted? Is this the moral decision?

Was Martial Law and the 1986 People Power Revolution a figment of our imagination?
I have to ask my parents and my grandmother if these events really happened, because I am caught in a historical dilemma. History presents me data that prove that Marcos was indeed a plunderer, a dictator, and a human rights violator. But the Supreme Court decision qualifies him to be buried where heroes are laid to rest. Heroes. Again, Heroes.

I haven't heard or read anything about a criminal being hailed as a Hero. By allowing a criminal to be buried among heroes, doesn't that present a dilemma? Especially for the place where it says "Here lay heroes", it does not say "Here lay heroes, and a dictator."

Allowing a former President who is not worthy of emulation promotes impunity to history.

"Salvaged Memories" Mural by Randalf Dilla
This presents a grave threat to our identity nation because the decision attempts to erase a part of our history that defined us. This is almost erasing the fact that we were colonized by Spain for 300 years, that General Douglas MacArthur never returned to the Philippines, that the Atom Bomb was never dropped.

So is the Supreme Court decision telling us that these following photos never happened?

'To be ignorant of the past is to remain a child'. - paraphrase from an observation by Cicero

'The supreme purpose of history is a better world'. - Herbert Hoover

Why is history it important to building a nation?

Because history helps us understand change and how we came to be today. It is our footprint to the world, our history is inescapable, and if one understands his national history, it gives him an identity, to which for us, we call ourselves Filipino.

History is a sheer reminder of the wrong decisions of the past that haunt us today. A perfect example is Ferdinand Marcos stealing billions and billions of our country's wealth through kickbacks and projects. Yes, he did build a lot of infrastructure that the country uses until today, but isn't that the rightful job of the President? To lead us into prosperity. But what he did was build his fortune. And today the Supreme Court, who Marcos closed when he declared Martial Law, approves his burial.

Filipinos lack the understanding of the importance of history
A lot of Filipinos are lost because they do not know their past. Why did we call ourselves "Filipino". They often dismiss history as a mere past that does not affect their present. Filipinos are very shallow when it comes to identity and that is why they have forgotten the crimes Ferdinand Marcos has done his country (But is it still "his" country if he betrayed the trust given to him?)

And what of this Pinoy Pride? Pride is shallow, and a nuisance. Honor, Filipinos should strive for honor, because honor is pure and true.

We are in a continuous loop of political dilemma
Corruption is imbibed so deep in Filipino culture that everything we do is based on which benefits only the individual and not the common good.

"My loyalty to my party ends where my loyalty to my country begins." - Manuel L. Quezon

Filipinos are loyal not to the flag but to the politician
It's not about Yellow, it's not about Red, hell it's not about orange! It's about the 3 stars and the mighty Sun! Filipinos have a wrong sense of Nationalism, we should always swear allegiance to the flag, not to the president, not to the senator, not to the barangay official who gives you pancit every now and then. 

Our democracy hangs in danger because we have failed our duties as citizens to study our past, we have failed to check corruption, we have let crocodiles infest the congress, we have left the fighting to the poor. Our country is again in danger of losing its identity as a nation because we are scared to answer the call to uphold freedom and democracy. 

Where are the Rizals, the Bonifacios, the Lunas in you? Where is the love for your country? When will we understand that these foul creatures are running our miserable lives? It should be us running them out of our sick and poor country because they are the reason for our struggles. What we do now, this generation, how we respond to this, will put us in history if we are honorable, or forgettable. It's our time now.

Answer the call.

"The lack of a sense of history is the damnation of the modern world." - Robert Penn Warren

November 5, 2016

The Burias Islands

This past summer a friend from Canada came back after 3 years and so this one calls for a celebration. Not wanting to spend all his 3 weeks in Manila, we quickly put up a plan for a getaway, but since millenials love to travel, all the popular tourist destinations were filled. And for our group who are in quarter-life crisis, we wanted a quiet space in the archipelago for a few days.

Just above the mainland of Masbate lie the Burias group of islands, relatively unknown to the traveling majority. And without hesitation, we booked it.

The Port in Naga City
Going to Burias Island requires a lot of patience, and for me who hates long drives, I tried to bargain on taking the plane instead, but of course, because this is a democratic country, I lost. And so the long 10-hour drive began. There's really a backstory why I don't like to travel that long, because that would mean my life will be in constant danger with how fast my friends drive ( I kid you not) and I love my life, peace to my friends.

We were quite surprise that there was a traffic jam in parts of Quezon province, at midnight. But after that the road was all ours for the taking, much to the pleasure of my friends, because they can put the pedal to the metal. I was so much on guard for my life that I didn't sleep the whole travel, especially when we used the dreaded "Bituka ng Manok" road - A horrifying zigzag with steep climbs which hugged the shape of the mountainside. My heart pounded with each turn, and I was probably palpitating from all the Sting energy drink I was drinking the whole night.

As expected, when we got to the port of Naga at around 5:45AM, I lunged out of the car and threw up. What a welcoming sight for the locals there. But fast as my friends drive, they are really quite safe drivers, except for a few close calls (HAHA)

Roof deck riding
We went on for a 2-hour boat ride going to the island, and it's always beautiful to take the early ride to the island because it's not yet that hot and we got to enjoy the roof deck ride, which they said was not allowed, but no one stopped us, and the seats inside were quite strange because it had no floor, you were at the mercy of the engine's roar which made it really uncomfortable. Remember, always choose the roof deck when going to Burias island.

Arriving at Burias Island
When we arrived at the port of Burias Island, the first thing you have to do is go to the tourist office and register your names, this is very important so that if your trip goes swinging south and you become lost at sea, they know that you're missing. It's a nuisance to to register, but come on, it's only 5 minutes, and a minimal fee.

I was surprised that the port was actually big, but what is surprising that there was only one place to stay in the island for tourist, it was only about 5-7 rooms. Correct me if I'm mistaken but it's the only one I saw throughout my stay there. We only booked for 1 night here and so we were quite in a hurry to head out to sea.

After making negotiations with the boat, we quickly headed out to the open sea, and we were not prepared for what we experienced, nor we were warned - We kind of battled our way to the islands. Big swells of waves constantly hit our boat, and because I was the fat ass in the group and my weight took great effect on the boat's performance, I have to move from one side to another, wherever the boat captain told me to sit. I swear all of us had this eye contact at each other, acknowledging the fact that the boat may capsize any moment.

But after one hour of battling the waves, what lay in front of us was paradise.

Island 1

Forgive me for this, but I forgot all the names of the 3 islands we went to. I know, what a bummer, but if ever you'll go to Burias, use my photo to show to the boatman as reference to where you want to go.

Island 1 was complete paradise, it had a rocky sand beach at one side, big rock formations where you can see thousands of years of water levels. And on the other side was pure white sand that is so nice to look at. What's best was we were literally the only people in the island!

Beautiful Rock Formations

Small hut at Island 1
We stayed for an hour there just relaxing, it was very pleasant there. Then we were off to island number 2, that is where we started noticing problems with our boatmen.

Island 2
When we arrived at island number 2, which had a more grassy feature, it was already lunch time. But because we were in a hurry, we forgot to pack our lunch and we had to resort to chips and bread - this is where things took an ugly turn.

My friend noticed that our bread was opened already and almost halved, also, the cigarettes we brought started missing. No conversation was needed, all we did was converse using our eyes and we talked about it when we swam at the beach, the boatmen were stealing our food.

Not wanting to be frustrated and not wanting to pick up a fight, we let it go. We just thought that they must have overextended their welcome of us offering to share our food. It really didn't matter to us if they ate most of it, but they stole it, behind our backs, I honestly didn't care if they ate all of it as long as they did it in front of us.

I hope the people of Burias would be more careful in handling their tourists, because if these things happen, their tourism will never improve.

Island 3
Island 3 is where we did our cliff jumping. It was my first time and yes, I did it, but my friends think I'm a coward for not jumping in the 10 feet platform, I only did the 6ft platform. But I didn't want to go to the 10 feet because honestly, I didn't want to be the reason for a tsunami.

After the island hopping, we took a rest at our room, talking about how and why they stole our stuff and how it will affect their tourism business if it's frequently happening with other tourists too.

Food in Burias is not that good, best if you stay to eating what your stomach recognizes.

And of course, like real men, we capped off the night doing one thing, no it's not alcohol and women. It's counter-strike! We played until the power outage stopped us, which led us to drinking a bit, yes, just a bit, we know that our bodies aren't getting any younger and we drank just enough to make us sleepy and off we went to bed.

Until next time, cheers!

November 1, 2016

Reel Feels

Movies fill the void that's missing in our lives, sometimes it makes us realize that all the questions we have in life lie within ourselves, but only if we reach deeper. And most of the time (at least for me) watching a movie is really helpful.

So here are my top 10 "reel feels", don't worry I won't spoil anything, I'll just describe some things about the movie and why I chose it.

10. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

I know this is a new movie but I wasn't aware that the book was published years ago, I've heard about it a few times before but I didn't care for it much until I watched the movie, and it wasn't because of the book but it was because of the actress Eva Green (I have a crush on her)

I love how the peculiar were kept safe by Miss Peregrine. My favorite is of course Jake (or Jacob in the book, if I'm not mistaken) because he sees what I see. This movie gives you a sense of identity.

I loved the movie so much that I actually bought the book right after because friends told me the book is better, and I do believe that, I haven't read it yet, but I know that books are always better than the movies because it doesn't skip anything.

9. Begin Again (2014)

Begin Again makes it in the list because it captures how I view music as one of the requirements of having a beautiful soul. I'm an old soul, I love the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Tears For Fears, and a lot more old bands out there and I love how their lyrics feed the soul, and this movie captures it perfectly.

It also makes the list because of a certain gadget in the movie, you'll get what it is, I actually bought one and I haven't used it yet, because I don't have anyone to share it with yet, maybe one of these days? A little stroll around Intramuros, yes?

8. Lars and The Real Girl (2007)

Ryan Gosling's talent to dedicate himself to be the character instead of being the actor is amazing. I didn't even notice that it was Ryan Gosling acting out during the whole movie (I mean I know it's Ryan Gosling, but I don't see him in the movie, I see his character)

There's a likeness to the character and me, in a slight way - the way that I am very uncomfortable with talking to people and social gatherings. If you've spent time with me outside or planned a night out, you'd notice I like keeping it small, 5 people is already a crowd for me (or have I just gone anti-social the past few years?) So go watch this movie and I hope you love it.

7. The Thin Red Line (1998)

The Thin Red Line is better than Saving Private Ryan - Yes I said that, yes I said that people, go and crucify me. The Thin Red Line is the lesser known war movie of 1998, overshadowed by Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, and why is that? Of course, Tom Hanks, who wouldn't spend money on Tom Hanks in 1998.

I only knew about this movie when I was in college, researching about World War 2 stories (It's my hobby, reading about WW2) and I googled for "Best War Movies" and The Thin Red Line was there.

If Saving Private Ryan is the action-packed war movie everybody had expected, Thin Red Line is the anti-thesis of war movies - Slow, sensitive, poetic. And I think it's where Terrence Malick outguns the 'ol Steven Spielberg. Malick captured how war can damage the human soul and why war must be avoided at all cost. You'll also be surprised with the cast in this one, and it's 3 hours long so please pop those kernel or better buy a lot of Potato Corner fries (I recommend wasabi flavor)

6. Ang Nawawala (2012)

You might be thinking "What?! A Filipino film made it to your list? An Indie? What a Hipster!" Woah, woah, woah, first of all, I was hip before hipster was a thing. Second, yes, a Filipino indie film made it to my list. Why? Because this is "Reel Feels" mofo, you better recognize that.

But why this? I discovered this from a friend who suggested this to me, that friend of mine hates Filipino movies, and for him to suggest this to me with great enthusiasm made me really wonder. I got a chance to watch it when it was shown in Cinematheque Manila, I think it was only in April or May when I saw this.

The movie also made me discover Pinoy indie musicians like Hannah + Gabi, and Ang Bandang Shirley. Go watch this, now! DVD costs around Php 1,200 though, so, let's share a copy?

5. No Strings Attached (2011)

Why this? Because Natalie Portman is fucking perfect here, her smile is fucking perfect I actually cursed on my blog, twice. Because I'm as sweet as Ashton Kutcher. Yeah I know, not good looking as him but hey, if you close your eyes, I'm still sweet.

Now ok, jokes aside, I love this movie because it gives me that "kilig" factor. Because it's just so relevant about people starting out for fun and then falling in love, getting things complicated and then the fall out and then the rebirth of love.

Honestly, I can't explain it in words, just watch this. XoXo

4. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

Yep, that's not a typo, it is titled the Pursuit of Happyness. It's been 10 years since this movie was released and it's such a big hit so I don't really expect a lot of people who won't know this movie. But in case you don't, this is a true-to-life story of a man being broke and just wields his incredible will power to get through hardship. I cried, not shed tears, I cried and I'm not ashamed of that. For such a beautiful story like this, who wouldn't let a few manly tears flow?

3. Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

I don't think I need to explain why this. I mean, why not? We all have our wallflower sides, but only a few see and feel things, and for the few who do, I already love you, from the bottom of my heart, because if you see and feel the things I do, we should hang out.

2. Love, Rosie (2014)

What can I say? I fell in love with Lily Collins ever since. The unconditional love in this movie is just amazing. I can't explain it, the love here is raw and just beautiful. I love it, I love it, I love it. So watch it, watch it, watch it! I still don't have the book so anyone out there want to give me one? Thanks in advance!

1. Swiss Army Man (2016)

Swiss Army Man is an Indie film that was supposed to show here in the Philippines but somehow it got pushed off by a big-budgeted movie and I hate the cinemas for doing that. I had to scour the net for this.

Daniel Radcliffe plays a dead person here and all I can say about his performance is that he 'killed' it. Get it? He killed it (HA HA HA)

This is a comedy-drama-adventure-almost musical-soul-searching movie. This is about accepting yourself for being who you are and you don't need to hide it, you don't need to hide being weird because at the end of the day it's your life and you need to express it, and express it now. People know me as the devil-may-care guy who doesn't mind being embarrassed for some shit he's done.

Yeah, I don't really mind about not having to care what people think, I do what I do as long I'm happy and I don't step on anyone's happiness. That's just me, and maybe that's why that when I watched this film, it was a personal confirmation that I am sure of myself, that I am no longer looking for my identity because what I am for the past years, the "bumpy" in me is no longer an alter ego, it was the real me, my personal experiences made the "bumpy" I am now, and I'm not ashamed of that.

And if only I can force everyone to watch this, everyone will find their identity. And I want you to watch this, watch it alone, with headphones and listen to all the conversations because it's all important or else you'll be lost in the movie. Watch this so that you don't have to hide your weirdness, we just have to show them.

---End of List---