Friday, September 28, 2007


I first met my student JT (Justine Tan) when she was a little girl of about 9 or 10. She used to carpool to and from school with my cousins Chaya and Danya, and they had invited her to one of our Go clan lunches. She was this sassy-looking little kid with glasses who had no qualms about going up to my mom and brazenly asking if we had ordered Peking duck that day. :p I never imagined that several years down the road, our paths would cross again, she a high school junior, and me teaching her section's English class.

At first I was a bit alarmed, thinking I'd have to deal with an older version of the saucy kid I remembered, but it took only a week or 2 before I was telling my mom that Justine had changed completely, and was one of the most courteous, well-adjusted and intelligent students in my class. I continued to sing her praises throughout the year. When I found out the following year that JT was transferring to the British School Manila (BSM) on an HSBC
scholarship, I felt sad knowing ICA would be losing such a wonderful student, and her class would be losing a beloved friend, but at the same time I was happy for JT because of the many opportunities BSM could offer, including improving her chances of getting accepted by a university abroad.

Predictably, JT did well at BSM, serving as editor-in-chief of their school paper and graduating as one of the top 2 IB (International Baccalaureate) scorers in her batch. Now she's attending the University of Toronto, and true to form, she is thoughtful enough to keep in touch with her old English teacher via YM. This morning she told me that she had been featured in an issue of HSBC's Corporate Responsibility Magazine, and she sent me a scanned copy of the article. I read it with a sense of parental pride and vicarious happiness, knowing one of my kids has achieved so much, and not only because she accomplished everything on her own merits, but also because JT is the kind of person who deserves all this recognition and success. I wish her all the best during her college years in Toronto, and for all her other endeavors beyond. :)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Senate scum

During yesterday's Senate hearing on the NBN/ZTE controversy, everyone's favorite legislative crackpot Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago audaciously stated, "China invented civilization in the East, but as well it invented corruption for all of human civilization. Kaya mahilig itong mga Intsik na ito magkumbida sa golf, magkumbida sa dinner, magbigay ng free ticket to China."

To think, this racist bitch is the chair of our Senate foreign relations committee. Not only did she heartily spit out a racial slur (calling a Chinese person "Intsik" is pretty much tantamount to calling a black person "nigger"), not only did she brashly pin the blame on Asia's most powerful nation for "inventing" corruption, she also slung mud at all Chinese who are known for their gallantry and generosity. What, just because we take business associates out to dinner, that automatically makes us corrupt?!? Just because we know how to treat the people we deal with well, that means we're underhanded and crooked?!? Don't the Ayalas or Lopezes wine and dine their important clients, or
doesn't MVP or Donald Trump play golf with their investors?? Pardon my French, but screw you, Senator.

Then there's Senator Dick Gordon and his disgustingly patronizing and downright rude attitude towards Blue Ribbon Committee chair Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.
The Blue Babble's illustrious alumnus impertinently mocked and dissed Cayetano in front of everyone at the Senate hearing, calling him inexperienced and stopping short of accusing him of being a TV mileage whore. Gordon was totally out of line and acted like (pardon my French once more) an asshole. It was conduct unbecoming of a senator, an Atenean, and an educated, civilized individual. I find spiteful gratification in knowing he will miss today's Ateneo-LaSalle game because he'll be stuck in today's ongoing hearing. Next time he opens his big fat mouth to talk crap to Cayetano, I hope the chair throws his frickin' gavel at him.

That we have such disrespectful slimebuckets in our Senate gives us little hope that they'll be able to sort out this whole NBN/ZTE mess, which involves a whole bunch of other sleazebags running our country (especially the midget with the mole). What a shameful, sorry state this government is in, and what a sad, sordid circus this Senate inquiry is going to be.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

See Clive drive

In 2001 and 2002, BMW came out with a series of short online films collectively called "The Hire", starring the hot, hot, HOT Clive Owen as a driver who goes on missions that vary from the dangerous (transporting people for the FBI and the UN) to the glamorous (chauffeuring rock stars) to the ludicrous (drag racing with Satan). Directed by first-rate filmmakers like Ang Lee, Wong Kar-Wai, and Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu, the shorts feature performances and cameos by celebrities like Forest Whitaker, Gary Oldman, and Madonna.

After watching the films, I only have 2 things to say: 1) this was a bloody brilliant marketing campaign by BMW, and 2) the people who cast Daniel Craig as James Bond are IDIOTS.

Here are my 3 favorites:

Chosen, directed by Ang Lee, with a cute inside joke towards the end

The Follow, directed by the masterful Wong Kar-Wai and featuring Forest Whitaker, Mickey Rourke, and Adriana Lima (watch out for a silent-but-oh-so-sexy scene that is vintage WKW)

Beat the Devil, directed by Tony Scott and featuring the fabulous Gary Oldman, the late James Brown, and a hilarious cameo by Marilyn Manson

If you want to check out the other shorts, click on the links:
  • Ambush, directed by John Frankenheimer
  • Star, directed by Guy Ritchie, and featuring his wife Madonna, who gamely pokes fun at her own superstar status
  • Powder Keg, directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu, and featuring Stellan Skarsgård
  • Hostage, directed by John Woo
  • Ticker, directed by Joe Carnahan, and featuring Don Cheadle, F. Murray Abraham, Ray Liotta, and Dennis Haysbert (involves a terrific helicopter-car chase sequence that would make 007 and his Aston Martin turn green with envy)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bookworm's progress report #4

I am currently reading what AP-Annex would call a "nosebleed" book, Stephen Greenblatt's Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare. This excellently executed biography of the bard is so insightful that I feel like I'm getting to know Will Shakespeare on an intimate level; at the same time it's so entertaining that I feel like I'm reading the life story of a fictional character instead of one of the greatest literary geniuses who ever lived.

Greenblatt's Shakespeare bio is the 2nd to the last book on my New York Times reading list, and once I'm done I only have Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore left, which I plan to bring with me on our upcoming trip to New York in October. In the meantime, here's my take on 2 titles I've already finished reading:

American Pastoral
, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, paints a refreshingly, brutally honest portrait of the so-called American Dream and those living under its delusion. Narrator Nathan Zuckerman (who also appeared in the other Philip Roth book I've read, The Human Stain) tells the tale of his childhood hero Seymour "Swede" Levov: star athlete, model soldier, dutiful son, loving husband (to a former beauty queen), and doting father. The Swede's idyllic life quickly unravels when his teenage daughter Merry commits an act too gruesome for her iconic father to accept or comprehend. Set against the tumultuous 60s and 70s, the story doubles as a revealing look at a turbulent time in American history, while showing the slow, sad self-destruction of a man betrayed by the Dream he thought he was living. A more enjoyable read than The Human Stain and clearly superior in form and content, American Pastoral convinced me that Roth deserves his recognition as one of the greatest authors of contemporary American literature.

As a fan of both Shakespeare and alternative fiction writer Gregory Maguire, I found John Updike's Gertrude and Claudius absolutely brilliant. Updike's novel is a prequel of sorts to the tale made famous by Shakespeare's tragedy, and centers on the relationship between Hamlet's mother and uncle. Normally portrayed as the villains to Hamlet's hero, Gertrude and Claudius are given new depth and humanity by Updike, and their affair is depicted as passionate, tender, and true. I admire how Updike managed to make the characters his own, and build such a beautiful, imaginative yet uncontrived story around them. I loved reading every page, every word of this book, far more than I did reading Hamlet (no disrespect meant to old Will), and despite the dreary Toward the End of Time,
Gertrude and Claudius has made me a fan of Updike.

P.S. If you haven't read Hamlet or at least watched one of the many film adaptations of it, you cannot fully appreciate the genius of Updike's book, so I suggest you do as I did and go through Hamlet before taking on Gertrude and Claudius. Afterwards, you will never regard Hamlet-- the character or the play-- the same way again.

Monday, September 24, 2007


I always feel funny whenever Ateneo beats UST, but yesterday's victory was even more bittersweet for me as I watched Pido Jarencio break down after the game. My favorite UAAP coach cried unabashedly and would later apologize to the UST community for letting them down. Sports writer Rick Olivares writes in his blog Bleachers' Brew: "Kasalanan ko," [Jarencio] bemoaned. ""Ako nagturo sa mga bata nung sistema. Malungkot ako kasi na-disappoint yung Thomasian community. Pero proud ako sa mga bata ko."" The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports Pido as saying, "Masakit (It hurts). Lahat ng nangyari kasalanan ko, hindi kasalanan ng mga bata (It's all my fault, it's not the boys' fault). I wasn't able to prepare my players to be tough. I wasn't able to prepare them in the final stretch." The Philippine Star quotes him: "It's embarrassing to the Thomasian community, to our supporters, the management, the clergy and the alumni. I don't even know if I'd be back to coach next year."

Joe Lipa isn't fit to lick this man's shoes.

I sincerely hope UST, whose supporters obviously all adore Pido, retains him as their head coach. The man has done great things for the team and for the school, and while he takes full responsibility for losing the knockout match against Ateneo, he deserves more credit than blame for getting UST as far as they got this season. The raw emotion he displayed yesterday was a clear manifestation of how much passion he had poured into coaching the Tigers. Last night,
Uncle Timmy Chong, my dad's good friend and UST team manager, forwarded to Pa a text message from Pido personally apologizing for the loss. Uncle Timmy then texted, "'Yan ang coach na may puso." Amen.

Don't go, Pido. UST and the UAAP won't be the same without you.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bakit masarap maging Atenista?

  • It’s not easy to pass the ACET. Even if you’re 6’5” and have a mean hook shot.
  • Our campus is gorgeous.
  • When we say “hell week”, we mean “HELL week”… and we always survive.
  • Thanks to countless Philo oral exams and papers, we can BS our way out of anything.
  • We know the gratification that comes with getting an A from a Jesuit teacher. Or even just a B.
  • Meron.
  • Our patron saint’s leg was broken by a cannonball, but it didn’t break his spirit.
  • We get to yell “Win or lose, it’s the school we choose!” every time we sing our school song.
  • Even our least respectable course is still a hell of a lot better than “Sports Management”.
  • La Salle jokes are really, really funny.
  • When people ask what school you’re from and you answer “Ateneo”, they get a look on their faces that says “wow”.
  • Magis.
  • We sit through tediously long and unbearably hot graduation ceremonies with smiles on our sweaty faces.
  • Our diplomas are impressively ginormous, and printed in Latin.
  • The Placement Office helps us land good jobs after graduation.
  • The Alumni Office sends us letters for our birthdays, Easter, and Christmas every year.
  • Our good teachers stay, and many are still around up to now.
  • No matter how many years have passed since graduation, Loyola Heights feels like home.
  • We always give everything ONE BIG FIGHT.
  • It’s not that we’re better than everyone else. It’s just that we couldn’t imagine being anything else other than Atenean.

(inspired by an emotional text exchange with my friend Yang, one of the most passionate Ateneans I know)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Explain it to me like I'm a 2-year-old...

...Where is the honor in joining a brotherhood that engages in shady, dangerous activities?

...Where is the honor in stripping another human being of their dignity?

...Where is the honor in beating someone to death?

...Where is the honor in rushing a severely injured person to the hospital, then just leaving him there like a delivered sack of meat?

...Where is the honor in dying at the hands of someone you called brother?

...Where is the honor in not stepping forward and taking responsibility for killing another person?

And while we're at it...

...Where is the honor in hitting someone on the head from behind, unprovoked?

...Where is the honor in cheering that cheap shot?

...Where is the honor in paying tribute to the teammate who threw the sucker punch?

...Where is the honor in standing by your team, right AND wrong?

Sorry, but I don't get it.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

They don't make movies like this anymore

There's a special quality to classic Hollywood movies that I find captivating, a certain je nais se quoi that pulls me in irresistibly. Perhaps it's the old school charm of the studio sets, or the vintage look of the cinematography, or the theatrical feel of the musical scores, or the smart, proper dialogues (by "proper" I mean to say the actors spoke proper English, not the slangy, jargony Americanese that passes for English now). Or perhaps it's simply the classy, genteel glamour of the movie stars back then, marquee names like Humphrey Bogart, Lana Turner, Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Gregory Peck, and Grace Kelly.

Two such names that evoke everything glamorous and golden about old Hollywood are Peter O'Toole and Audrey Hepburn, who star together in the cute romantic comedy called How to Steal a Million (yes, Peter O'Toole in a rom com!). Hepburn in all her lovely luminosity plays the doting daughter of an art forger, and O'Toole, strappingly youthful and vibrantly blue-eyed, plays a disarmingly dashing thief who agrees to help her steal a fake sculpture that could incriminate her father. The chemistry between the 2 is delightful, the kind one rarely sees onscreen anymore, and it's helped along by wonderfully witty lines and improbably hilarious scenarios. As a fashion and beauty icon, Hepburn doesn't disappoint, donning oversized sunglasses decades before Paris Hilton and her ilk, and looking gorgeous in everything from an ordinary hot pink robe to a ridiculously high, space-agey bowler hat. But even dressed as a museum cleaning lady, Hepburn manages to look gorgeous, and one marvels at how someone so refined and delicate-looking takes on physical comedy with such ease. Then again, I never thought Lawrence of Arabia could actually make me laugh with well-delivered, smart-alecky retorts.

Although Roman Holiday remains my favorite Hepburn film (Gregory Peck rocks my world), I really enjoyed How to Steal a Million. It's funny, entertaining, and it has everything I love about old Hollywood movies... even if I'm not sure what it is exactly that I love about them.

P.S. Thanks again to Shirl for lending me the DVD, and to Kato, who actually owns it. :p

Friday, September 14, 2007

From bedridden to backlogged

True to feeble form, I got sick AGAIN for the nth time this year, succumbing to a high fever this past Tuesday. I only made a full recovery yesterday, and so I'm back in the office today. Due to the unfortunate timing of my illness, which came on the heels of the Ateneo-La Salle game last Sunday, my mom the-doctor-without-a-medical-degree pinned the blame on overexcitement. She conveniently overlooked the fact that I had spent the previous Saturday literally sweating it out at an outdoor wedding reception in Bulacan, which she had made me attend. Thankfully, my dad remembered this and pointed it out to her. Afterwards he slipped me an antibiotic without my mom knowing (she's very anti-antibiotics), and within a few hours of popping the pill my fever broke. Who says mother always knows best, eh?

The pros of getting sick were: I got time off from work, I finished reading John Updike's Gertrude and Claudius, and I got to watch the UST-FEU and UE-DLSU games live on TV. The cons: I have a huge pile of reports on my desk begging to be checked, and I'm really behind on my blogging. I have so many things I want to write about:
the Audrey Hepburn-Peter O' Toole movie How to Steal a Million (loved it!), Gertrude and Claudius (loved it!), my favorite Green Archer Bryan Ilad getting thrown out of the UE-DLSU game for throwing a sucker punch (loved it!), Erap getting convicted for plunder (ambivalent about this one), the brewing ZTE scandal (I like anything that could land Abalos in trouble), and UP fratman Cris Mendez's death from hazing (thanks to Ria Ang for suggesting that I write about it).

I don't know if I'll still be able to blog about all of those, especially since current events become stale topics when no longer... well, current. For now I'm just glad to be out of bed and back on my feet, and looking forward to a weekend of celebrating Auntie Nene's birthday and watching the UAAP Cheering Competition (no more overexcitement, Ma, I promise :p).

Monday, September 10, 2007

Indulge me

To anyone who's a fellow fan of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, or is curious about the upcoming movie adaptation of The Golden Compass (the first book of the trilogy), please help me determine my Daemon. I have 12 days until it settles in its final form. Much obliged. :)

P.S. Yes, I realize how laughable "modest" and "humble" are. That's precisely why I need help finding the true form of my Daemon. :p

P.P.S. Thanks John, for sending me the link to this!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Tribute to a tenor

I do not like opera. I fail to appreciate the grandiose style of the music, the incomprehensible lyrics in foreign languages, and the hoity-toity, "cultured" airs its fans put on. However, I cannot deny the awesome talent of opera singers, who can belt out notes that most pop/rock performers can only dream of reaching. Of course I am unfamiliar with even the most popular names in the opera scene, but I cannot not know a legend like Luciano Pavarotti. Indeed, the man was so renowned that even our masahista recognized him on sight when she saw TV news footage on the tenor's passing. In a country like the Philippines where opera is practically non-existent and the masses care more for nonsensical novelty songs used as game show themes, that's saying something.

Watching the news coverage of Pavarotti's death, I was struck by the universal appeal of a man whose career was built on an art with such a small, select fan base. The King of High Cs, as he was hailed, was arguably the best opera tenor of our time, but more than his prodigious talent, he had a personality that went beyond the high-brow music he sang so well. He had an aura of joviality and warmth that made him accessible and unintimidating. Despite being criticized for condescending to perform with pop acts like Sting, Bono and even the Spice Girls (!!), the man accepted gigs at charity events and concerts that allowed him to reach a wider audience. And that audience responded in kind, as Pavarotti proved that the foie gras of opera can be palatable to the man on the street when served as a burger with all the fixings.

Now that he has lost his battle with pancreatic cancer, Pavarotti leaves a gaping void in the world of opera. The golden voice that touched and awed millions across the globe-- opera fans and non-fans alike-- is now silenced, and undoubtedly, those of us who knew of Pavarotti will never forget him. More than the music, it's the man we will all miss.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Dear Frankie: love letters straight from the heart

Last night Hanks and I watched Dear Frankie, a simple, sweet movie about a deaf 9-year-old boy whose mother has him believing that his father has been away at sea for years. The kid faithfully writes letters to his "da", and receives replies secretly penned by his mom. She manages to keep up this well-meaning deception until her son discovers that the ship his father is supposed to be on will be docking at their town's port. The mom is then forced to hire a stranger to pretend to be the dad for a day, but the ruse leads to some unexpected twists.

There's really nothing extraordinary about the movie, except for the wonderfully sincere, sensitive performances from the all-Scottish cast, including Emily Mortimer, who plays the mother, and young Jack McElhone, who plays the boy Frankie. But the highlight of this film for me is the oh-so-sexy Gerard Butler, who capably fills the short but significant role of the fake father... not to mention fills a leather jacket to sheer perfection! As the mysterious, gruff but gentle stranger, Gerry oozes quiet masculine strength and gives off pheromonal hints of both danger and vulnerability. He also shows how subtle can be sensual in one of the best scenes of movie, where he and Emily Mortimer just stare at each other in complete silence for a solid 10 seconds (what I wouldn't give to have him stare at me like that for hours! :p).

That Gerard Butler is so damn fiiiiine may come as a mere bonus to most, but to me, Dear Frankie is worth seeing if only for the pleasure of laying eyes on him. If hot Scots don't float your boat though, go see the movie anyway--
it's touching but not treacly, charming but not cute, and if it doesn't tug at your heart strings then I'm the last queen of Scotland.

P.S. Thanks to Shirley for lending us the DVD (which actually belongs to her friend Kato). Shirl now agrees with me that Gerard Butler is hot, hot stuff. Hehe.

Monday, September 03, 2007

New York state of mind

Two years ago, I accompanied my dad to attend the Arrow Global Conference in New York. It's supposed to be an annual event for all international licensees of Arrow, but for some reason the principal company didn't organize one last year. This year I get to go with my dad again, and the conference is going to be on October 11 and 12, at the W New York Hotel, where we will be staying as well (I believe the Fab 5's loft on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is in the same hotel). I'm looking forward to returning to New York because our last trip went well, considering our limited time and resources, and my usually finicky father was pleased with all the restaurants I took him to, as well as the Broadway musical we chose to watch (The Lion King).

Now I'm starting to plan our itinerary for the October trip, which will be just as short and hectic as before, allowing us little free time to explore the city and do stuff one can only do in NYC. After a preliminary search online, I discovered that Maroon 5 is playing at Madison Square Garden on the night of Oct.10, and Kevin Kline and Jennifer Garner will be in the Broadway production of Cyrano de Bergerac, which previews on the night of Oct.12. Both fall neatly within our schedule, and on evenings we'll be free, but my dad doesn't know who the hell Maroon 5 is (I'm not that big of a fan either), and I don't know if we'll still be able to get tix to the very first preview of a Hollywood-celeb-starring Broadway play at the last minute. Won't hurt to try though, so our first stop upon arriving in NY will be the Richard Rodgers Theater's box office. If we can't get tix, then we'll try to snag partially limited-view seats (cheaper by half!) for Wicked, which I have been dying to see for years.

Restaurants I'm thinking of trying include Sfoglia and Carmine's (both Italian places), Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House, and Brooklyn Diner USA. I'm also considering going back to Serendipity 3 for their Frrrozen Hot Chocolate, or to try their foot-long hotdog or 1 of their famous sundaes (I'm getting fatter just thinking about it). On the shopping side of things, I have my heart set on (and wallet prepared for) buying a new Coach bag, and I have a couple of books on my Shelfari wish list that I realistically won't be able to find in any bookstore here in Manila. Plus I'd like to pick up some Gap (Product) Red graphic tees for my sibs and myself.

The trickiest thing I'm trying to work out is how to squeeze in a rendezvous or 2 with friends who are based in states near New York: Tangsoc in New Jersery, Ria in Delaware, and Jo (friend/former student) in Pennsylvania. Looking at the jam-packed itinerary I've mapped out, dinner on the 10th and breakfast on the 13th are most feasible, but those times would be inconvenient for my friends, who still need to drive or commute from wherever they are (and no Ria, I don't think I can ditch my dad to go clubbing :p).

I'm sure I'll manage to iron out all the details and logistics as October draws nearer. In the meantime, I'm continuing to scour the Net for restaurant reviews, printable street maps, and other information that would help make our next visit to the Big Apple as enjoyable as the last.