31 December, 2008

"Cold Red Wine is a Crime" or The Barefoot Baklesa's 2008 Year in Review

This being The Barefoot Baklesa's 2008 Year in Review or "Cold Red Wine is a Crime" [due to a cold glass of red wine in my hand now...]

Before I begin, allow me to invoke the divinities of the Theater.

Dionysus, ancient greek god of the theatre, wine, and revelry...
Saints Genesius and Vitus, roman catholic martyrs and patron saints of the theater...
Idianale, ancient filipino goddess arts, crafts, love, and good deeds...
As we look back at the year that has been, bless the year that is to be.
Set ablaze the spark of inspiration,
Fuel the creativity and passion of your artists that we may look forward to another year on the boards.
We carry with us this Hope, so be it.

What a year this has been...
In that expanse, For the most part, I have experienced the fulfillment one's soul receives in living the dream. But on the other hand, it was not without those moments that need much to be desired.

In one year [counting the good and the bad], I have survived opening two children's musicals on the same weekend with some unwanted consequences, I have made more trips to Divisoria than ever, I associated myself -with much regret- with some artists of questionable talent [if you could call it that], I survived performing a Shakespeare show with the worst fever and cough combined, I have taken more crap than I should from some vampires, I have met some fierce and true friends, I have been chastised for attempting to do my job well one time,I have survived the "niki de los reyes-torres carroza challenge", I have seen some people's true colors, I have been called one of the worst designers at some diss-list, I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime and I turned it down because I felt I had to stay, I have been the subject of internet slander and character assassination, I have rediscovered Love in a movie, and I have begun writing scripts again... Amidst all of this, it seems strange that I still said, "Life couldn't get any better" in one of my other social networking sites.

However, some things that have transpired, been said, and done have already left their mark. And truth be told, I am spent... And for that, I have considered to put my theater career [ whatever is left of that dead horse ] on hold indefinitely, after I fulfill certain obligations I have already signed for this 2009. It's not as if that's a big loss the way I am at present, right? For no one is indispensable in this industry, they say. Someone else, in a minute, can take anyone's place and can do better. So the quest now, is to be able to develop skills to do better.

For next year, I want to rediscover those things that I have put aside for some time now, I want to get treatment for the few things the skin doctors still have to figure out, I want to do something that actually makes a difference in more people's lives, and I want to be found...

"It's New Year's Eve,
And hopes are high.
Dance one year in,
Kiss one goodbye.
Another chance,
Another start,
So many dreams to tease the heart...
We don't need a crowded ballroom,
Everything we want is here.
If you're with me,
Next year will be,
The perfect year."
~Sunset Bouleveard

26 December, 2008

The Barefoot Baklesa's Top 10 Christmas Memories

Here we go... A day after the 25th, decompressing from the rush... I've drafted this a while ago but never got to posting it.

10. The C.O.D. Animated Christmas Displays
~ Back when I was a child, my mother would always take me to the Cubao shopping district in Quezon City where the
C.O.D. department store was. During the Holidays, the department store would create these animated Christmas themed displays [something like that "it's a small world" ride at disney] that had its own take on the Christmas Story. They would often portray Filipino Christmas traditions like the misa de gallo, children caroling door to door, the making ang lighting of parols -and all of these would somehow happen at the same time or coincide with the Christmas Story to which Christ's Nativity is the finale. I remember being in awe of these crude robotics as a child. In the late 90s, C.O.D. put up its last display; the store it seemed had seen better times. I'm glad the mall at Greenhills purchased the old displays and re-fitted them just recently for another generation of kids to enjoy.

9. The Scent of Ham
~In the days leading towards Christmas, my mother would purchase these hams from Excellente, a ham specialty shop near Quiapo Church in Manila. She would have entire ham legs shipped to Antique and i remember the smell of it. Passing by Excellente recently, i tried to see if I could get acquainted with that old scent, but the crowds of people for the holiday rush deemed it futile.

8. The Parols on display at Central Market
~I haven't been there in years, but when I first went there, I was no more than seven or eight years old. In the dry goods section of the market, which was adjacent to the street, the sellers would hang rows of parols -in all sizes, shapes, and colours- by the hundreds. [ Parol: adapted from the Tagalog word 'parola' which means lighthouse. a Parol is a star-shaped lantern, either 5 or 8 pointed, used as decoration for the christmas season in the philippines. The Parol is said to symbolize the star that led the magi to the newborn messiah. ]

7. The Ayala Avenue Christmas Displays
~ I don't know if it's just me, but don't you guys feel like the Ayala Avenue christmas decorations look so depressing? Those 'kugels' mounted on the light posts look awful...Who uses bronze slash brown with that blue? What happened to the days when Ayala Avenue used to be the grandest and brightest lit this time of year? The displays at bangkok and tokyo could run circles around this one. Oh well...

6. Roast Chicken and Rosemary Leaves
~ There's something to be said about the memory associated with the smells of food. Aside from the usual jamon, quezo de bola, and bibingka [rice cakes], the rosemary roasted chicken that we cook religiously on noche buena [except for that one year we had a pig's head...] is one of the familiar smells I would always expect at our kitchen on christmas eve.

5. The Many Trips to Divisoria
~ You haven't experienced Christmas in the Philippines until you have gone to shop at divisoria towards the Christmas rush. It's just insane... talk about the wave of people, the pushing, the noise... It's often beyond description.

4. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
~ I spent a fair amount of my childhood playing with He-Man action figures. Back then, one action figure from the standard series would cost 49.99 pesos while a new release would be no more than a hundred pesos. There was a particular christmas when my mom got me four action figures:
Man-At-Arms, Mosquitor, that one with the elephant's head that squirts water, and another one of those villains i can't recall. I think I pretty much admitted to my age with this memory.

3. Nativity Sets at C.O.D.
~ I began collecting nativity sets since i was a kid...I even made some from clay.Whatever happened to the really good nativity sets where there was more than one shepherd and not limited to seven pieces? C.O.D had the best collection of nativity sets. They used to display like 20 of them in one table averaging 16 characters a set in their many sizes. That's when my penchant for nativity sets began, i think. I have 28 of them at present.

2. The Lights at Ateneo Bel Field
~ At Christmas time, they would light up the old acacia trees that surround Bel Field with these tivoli lights wired as drop lights on the tree branches. One year, they put up blue and white parols with the tivoli lights, and I would look forward to coming out of the Rizal Study Foyer after one of our Tanghalang Ateneo shows or Xavier Hall and seeing this enchanting sight. I would spend some time just admiring it or walking under the lights just before I get home. And when there was a meteor shower, they encouraged everyone to watch it at Bel Field...people brought their guitars, sang, smoked, ate, hung-out, told stories...Oh, that was some christmas memory.

1. Mount Carmel Church in New Manila
~ When I was about six or seven years old, we used to live near the area of Mount Carmel Church, thus I grew up listening to these English Priests with their pristine accents every sunday. I remember coming out of the Christmas Morning mass, while holding on to my mother's hand as we were walking across the courtyard, a boy approached us and he was begging for some money. As a kid, my mother would place a twenty peso bill in my left pocket, and a white handkerchief and a rosary on my right every time we went to mass. And that particular Christmas, instead of a twenty, i had a couple of crisp five peso bills in my pocket, and we were walking quite a few steps with that boy in front of us -palms out- and i never knew what came over me but i suddenly took out the folds of five peso bills and gave it all to him. Later, when we got home, my mother told me that every Christmas, the Christ Child would always come and visit as a beggar child. Fast forward to the 25th of december 2006, we had this party for some kids around our neighborhood. I had 47 ticket stubs for the 47 kids we invited. But I packed 48 goodie bags instead, just to be safe. After the snacks and games, i had them fall in line to take a goodie bag and pick a raffle number to coincide with the prizes. And then a cute but rather untidy child shows up at the line, he didn't have a stub, but i did have the 48th goodie bag and he was able to take home a prize as well. And when it was all over, my mother asked me if i remember seeing that child come in or out of the gate. I had no idea... and then i remembered that boy at mount carmel church once again. So, if you do encounter such a child, it wouldn't hurt to be a little charitable.

That's pretty much it. Tis the 2nd day of Christmas...no true love sending anything yet. Hahahaha!

20 December, 2008

On My Father's Death [two hours before his funeral]

Last Thursday, my father, Raymundo Dayrit Torres, was found dead due to massive heart failure in his sleep.

For the longest time, people have been asking me where my father is or why he isn't really featured in this show where I play me. And for the longest time, I have been telling people that he is already dead. I have been quoted saying, "Well, officially, he's dead." or "Kung ako nga, pinabayaan kong namatay si Ray nang di ko kinakausap."

It's quite complicated to expound on really...

Not long ago, i blogged about it in one of those pass-it-on blogs [that require you to be honest], that I have told people that he has been dead although he was still alive [and even then, it was already in the past tense -as if anticipating it eitherway]. I think it started after the first time he had a stroke... And, as much as I love Ñora Pina, his mother [my paternal grandmother], let me just say that whatever affinity I had towards the other Torreses have long since disintegrated the day I told them that the only way I could forgive them is that if they go down on their knees and ask for it... And even if they did that, it would still require some thought.

I'm writing about this to finally put that part of my life behind me. For one, I haven't spoken with Ray at all since the death of Don Isidro [his father] in 1997; and now that he's passed on, I think I have prepared myself for this moment by having convinced myself that he has been dead for the longest time. Some way for one to ask the universe for something, huh?

In all fairness to him, I'd rather that he did not suffer any further in this life. I'm not that heartless after all, or at least I try to convince myself...

In a few hours, he'll be six feet under... And i keep on hearing that quote that says "Life gives us many opportunities to start over" but I don't think Ray made any effort at all to start over. Paolo once told me, that if you fall down at 7 then get up at 8 [wisdom from someone younger than me...hahaha! ]. You see, in my late teen years, all I saw was this brilliant man who refused to get up at level 8 and just gave up. I won't be that...

So Ray, wherever you are now, I hope you're happy... Don't worry about me, i have endured thus far. I do ask you to forgive me for not trying though, I think I get that from you.

16 December, 2008

Dingdong Dantes: 3rd Sexiest Man?

I used to go to school with this guy, not so long ago... If you've studied at that jesuit university along katipunan, you know how that sea of blue and white treat actors who take the teeny-bopper and the local primetime tv route. Antoinette Taus once walked those hallowed halls with people going, "Gosh, how baduy..." amongst other things. And I've heard about the urban legends of Kris Aquino using the back stairs of Gonzaga and Berchmans to be fetched by her car to avoid the "tantiyawan" that some blue eagles are capable of. Now, back to Dingdong, I just don't find him as sexy as the others do. When he started posing in his undies, I wasn't sure what to make of it. I know that he has a great body, but there are guys I would rather much prefer clothed... That's me being such a prude...

So, now that he's the 3rd Sexiest Man according to E! Television, what does that mean, really?

I'm a bit sleepy, i had better get some rest..i'm driftin in and out of consciousnes...

15 December, 2008

[Part 2 of 2] Into the Unexplained: VISAYAN WHITE MAGIC

Into the Unknown: Visayan White Magic [part 2 of 2]

As the news of lola inday's death settled upon us, and my abuela just got back from the doctor, her nanny rushes back from the local healer with a look of fear in her eyes...

According to her, when she got to the "surano" [local healer/witch doctor], the "surano" caught her by surprise. After taking the piece of clothing from the nanny, the healer then began scrying and recalling what happened to my grandmother that day while getting the ginger ready. She began mentioning details about the house, the renovations, the time of the accident, and what my abuela did. Now, the "surano" was not privy to this information, and the nanny never mentioned anything about these to her.

My abuela's nanny was shaking when she got back. She held in her hand a holy water bottle, and the piece of clothing with the ginger. She said, "May imaw ako." [Someone or something is with me]
-apparently the healer could not make it, but already gave her instructions what to do and sent an energy or entity to accompany her.

She asked to halt all activity in the house. And we did...
She took a bowl of water and asked for a candle, and the dried palm fronds blessed during palm sunday called "palaspas".

She went to where the old well used to be [which is now the new kitchen's island] and placed the bowl of water in the middle. She poured some holy water into it [ with hands shaking ], tore a few pieces of the "palaspas" and added them. After that, she took the candle, let the wax drip on the water four times and let it rest. She then proceeded to swirl the bowl counter clockwise.

She looked for that piece of wax that stayed in place, and that meant the direction pointing east, which it did. While the other wax pieces settled to the other cardinal directions.

She scooped up the wax piece that pointed east with a piece of the "palaspas" and threw it to the eastern end of the house, and did the same to the 3 remaining points of the compass that the wax drippings pointed to.

And suddenly, as if something had left my abuela's nanny, and she was her usual self again.

Look, I'm a child of the 20th century, and I understand the concept of a placebo. But I also did a stint with the occult and the spirit world not so long ago. And i do believe that there are things you just don't mess with. I do have childhood memories of having spilled some liquid or accidentally breaking a softdrink bottle at the old kitchen in the morning, and by the afternoon, would be suffering from a fever inexplicably. According to my mother, we have "other residents" in the house. The back part of the house was apparently split between two factions: the left, occupied by the friendly ones and the right, the mischievous ones. My abuela would always credit my late afternoon fevers to these unseen creatures. And after having the water well sealed up and digging at the back of the property for new foundations, they made their mischief upon my abuela when no one was looking. Perhaps to tell us that we have encroached upon their unseen world without permission. And some ritual was required to appease them.

After that, there was this uplifting energy in the house, and we proceeded with our day. And come lunchtime, as we were enjoying our meal, a group of devotees of Saint Vincent Ferrer going door to door doing a ritual called a "Pa-Lapak" literally meaning "to be stepped on"; came to our door singing and bearing with them a small broken down statue of Saint Vincent Ferrer. The "Pa-Lapak" is a ritual that dates back to pre-Hispanic times using the "tawo-tawo" or the idol. The foot of the "tawo-tawo" is placed over the head of an individual and is moved around the body in constant contact. A few conquistadores later, the idol is replaced by a catholic icon. The entire household was required to undergo this.

But what I would consider a freakish coincidence here is that the night before, after we had prayers, a relative of ours asked me if I could help out in acquiring a processional image of Saint Vincent Ferrer for their community chapel. A favor that I have agreed to instantly.

If that's not a sign from up there, then i don't know what else to make of it. And it's not the first time I've been led places before by some rather unusual circumstances and signs.

By 6:00 in the evening, i had to get ready for the "Pa-àso" or "Tuob". It was supposed to seal the house from further ill [Too bad I can't secure my home from the evil that is Erna, a second cousin's wife. Hahahahaha!] and to stop wandering souls from asking people to join them in the other world.

When the coals were burning at the right temperature, they were placed on this makeshift thuriber. A mix of "camangyan" [local brown resin incense], "alanghiran" leaves [no scientific name i can recall], wax drippings from a "Perdon" [a blessed candle from a shrine of our Lady of Candelaria], sliced ginger, and a piece of paper signed by the owner of the home which was folded and sealed with the names of the saints were placed to burn over the coals; and soon white smoke was dancing from the mouth of the thuriber.

By the primary entrance, an invocation is required for the protection of the home, the invocation is not standard. The one I was taught begins with calling forth the archangels and the heavenly hosts from their realms, the saints, the blessed mother, and the saviour himself. However, there are incantations I know, that are more pig-latin than anything else. And as a policy, if I don't understand it, i won't chant it out. I wouldn't know what I would be calling to my aid [then again, we must also fear the living]. When all of that was over, i had to sit down and think for a while. Pretty much how this posting began.

A lot of people would say, "Wala namang mawawala kung maniwala ka di ba?"
[ What have you got to lose?] -and that's very Pinoy. But there are those that would accuse you of being too superstitious and would like to drag you into the 21st century. And you can't blame them for not believing, it's just the way they are.

I think that I was born and educated at the crossroads of logic and superstion. And it's not that bad a place, come to think of it. I have this openness about the world with a thirst that is unquenchable. Some other people's delusions are much worse, i tell you.

And the unknown remains unknown, and i think it would prefer it that way.

"Things fix themselves..."
-Sondheim's The Frogs

14 December, 2008

the end of my MULAN journey

i'm a little sentimental today...
the 14th of December marks the end of my MULAN journey. This play was produced by Repertory Philippines Children's Theatre and ran from August 9th to December 14th,2008 at Onstage in Greenbelt One.

It was almost a year ago in November when i began meetings with theater veteran Joy Virata to be considered as a production designer for the musical. I really loved the Disney movie and I wanted to put my own spin into the design for live performance. After seven months in the design process,4 maquettes [scale models], sketch after sketch, meeting after meeting,deciding whether i should use peonies or cherry blossoms, trips to divisoria for costume materials shopping,trips to the warehouse during set construction, and hundreds of yards of fabrics later, here I am blogging about the end.

It was a journey that I took with the resolve that it would somehow put my name on the map as a production designer [not that I have not done anything before, but I was banking on a bit of a career boost every now and then]... i really don't know how that is going...you have critics and you have yourself to contend with...and you are meaner to yourself.

time to start another journey

for more photos of Repertory Philippines' MULAN, check out www.thenikitorres.multiply.com

13 December, 2008

Into the Unexplained: Visayan White Magic [part 1 of 2]

I'm blogging about this on my phone, i can't seem to find any other way to relax or decompress...

To those of you, unfamiliar with the term "Visayan", this refers to a region in the Philippine archipelago called the Visayas Islands. Some people say that the Visayans have integrated their animistic pagan beliefs with their christian ones, which evolved for the past 400 years and made for a unique blend of folk christianity matched with lore and superstition. I'm of Visayan ancestry, and am currently here on vacation.

And I just finished a rather taxing ritual called the "pa-àso" or "pa-usok", which is like the incense burning rituals of the catholic church, with a quasi-christian-animistic twist. Talk about blessed candle wax, ginger, alanghiran, camangyan [a kind of incense], and saliva on burning coals, calling out the names of the archangels and the saints.

You ask me why?

Last Saturday, my 91 year old grandmother had an accident; she slipped while watching the work on the renovations to our new kitchen. The series of events that led to the accident were not that uncommon, by my standards. In fact, 3 of us were attending to her and were watching her in turns as she slept the afternoon away. When we thought she was secure, I endorsed her to my aunt who was a mere 5 metres away because I would go out for a bit to buy cake for my abuela [grandmother]. My aunt then decided to take out some trash out back while my cousin Irene also went in to check on her, still sleeping...

In less than two minutes of settling the trash out back, my aunt heard my abuela calling for her by the old kitchen table. "Kay...kay [ read as 'kai' , a visayan word used to refer to the female person in the immediate area], Dali bala, bistahi nabukulan ko!" roughly translated,
"Please come quickly, i hit my head and it's swollen."

Apparently, at that brief moment when she was left alone, my abuela got up from her bed, and went to where the new kitchen was, where the renovations were being made. It was near her room downstairs, adjacent to the old comedor. She was watching the workmen install tiles; and when she turned around, she slipped and hit the back of her head. But she was able to get up on her own, and sit by the table to call for my aunt. [ For a woman of 91, with a weak body, my abuela's spirit and will has allowed to her move at 'the speed of light' sometimes. One time, we were upstairs at the ancestral house busy with her 90th birthday preparations, we were shocked to find her behind us -able to brave the steep steps of the old stairs- saying, "I've never been up here for quite some time now."]

By the time i got back from the bakery about 5 or so minutes later, panic had ensued over the entire household. There was an ice bag over my abuela's head, my uncle in his wheelchair was pacing -make that rolling- back and forth, the other tennants at the commercial space were already gathered at the comedor and making emergency calls to my cousin at the hospital.

We took her to the hospital and had a full body x-ray and found nothing. The doctor then discharged her on the merit that her other physical symptoms do not manifest any head injury related damage. But to be sure, we crossed the mountainous range to Ilo-Ilo and had her undergo a CAT SCAN at Saint Paul's Hospital. And by some miracle, the CAT SCAN results show no neurological damage whatsoever, and the doctors cleared her.

However, three days after being discharged, my abuela's blood pressure would always shoot up whenever the sun would set. Last night, we had to sleep by her side to make sure she was okay. But there was still some cause for some alarm.

I remember having to quell the dog from outside her bedroom window from howling a few times last night. And my cousin Benja saw this insect, that by superstitious standards, was an omen of sorts.

To be safe, we covered our bases, we sent her to her doctor while we also had her nanny visit a local healer to have her clothes undergo a 'pa-luy-a'.

A "Pa-luy-a" is a ritual that a sick person undergoes. It varies from healer to healer. A piece of ginger, known locally as 'luya' or 'luy-a' is taken to a healer with the last piece of clothing the sick person wore. The healer then whispers an 'oraccion' or an incantation to the piece of ginger and cuts it in half, he then chews one of the halves, and wraps the other one with the piece of clothing and sends it back to be worn. With other healers, mastication is optional and the ginger remains whole.

Midway through both of these, we were informed that our Lola Inday passed away... We loved her dearly, and she would visit my abuela twice a week and would keep her company. She was admitted to the hospital the same day as my abuela, but stayed there when we were discharged. Displeased as I am with some of her offspring, my heart goes to her wherever she is...

And that was only the morning
[to be continued next blog: more rituals with fire, water, and palaspas, a 'palapak' with san vicente ferrer, and the other uses of salt ]

12 December, 2008

Set and Costume Designs by Niki de los ReyesTorres: Theater Down South's RAPUNZEL

my profoundest thanks to jammi for taking such wonderful photos of two of our performances...

and to the TDS family for helping me build and assemble the sets and properties for this production, to you, my heartfelt gratitude multiplies ten times over.

Set and Costume Designs by Niki de los Reyes-Torres, PATDAT for
Theater Down South's RAPUNZEL
Direction: Michael Williams
Choreography: Deanna Aquino
Lighting Design: Martin Esteva

10 December, 2008

Costume Design by Niki de los Reyes-Torres: Jewel Mische as Milcu Enchantress

Costume Design by Niki de los Reyes-Torres
Photography by Mark Nicdao
Maquillage by Xeng Zulueta

photo released courtesy of Mr. Victor Cusi of Milcu

[if you're going to take this image from this site, give due credit as listed above; thanks]

more at www.thenikitorres.multiply.com

Production Design by Niki de los Reyes-Torres for Owee Salva, Phantom of the Opera Concept Shoot

Christine of Phantom of the Opera

Circa Nov 2007.

Model: the ageless Marivic Juan
Makeup: Bambi dela Cruz
Production Design: Niki de los Reyes-Torres
Assistance/Moral Support: Paulo Navarra

more at


Costume Designs by Niki de los Reyes-Torres: Repertory Philippines' MULAN

Costume Designs by Niki de los Reyes-Torres, PATDAT
for Repertory Philippines' MULAN

photo credits: Mr. Jojit Lorenzo, actor/photographer
check out his site at www.jojitlorenzo.multiply.com

I learned something about you last night...

CONSUELO... Is anyone familiar with this concept? I think it's very Pinoy. And I did not realize how much it had governed my day yesterday...

To those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, CONSUELO [which I consider an essential component of the Filipino Values system] is often associated with the words "consideration",
"consolation", "comfort", and also "charity"...

In the kinaray-a context, the word that comes to mind is "pasuna-id" which translates to 'an act of consideration'

The question put forth, for example, If you were witness to an inappropriate behaviour of one individual against someone you know, what would you consider as an act of "pa-consuelo" for the latter even if it's not your quarrel?

Maybe I put stock in people's actions during their unguarded best... For why shouldn't I?

I was raised to be calculated with my actions. So, this is me being calculated -because you asked me to.

Observe my every move from now on...

05 December, 2008

hey, this is for you [you know who you are...]

dear friend,
in my heart of hearts [cold and frozen as it is for some], i feel your pain... as we have learned the hard way, when people really see nothing meaningful in their lives, they tend to send "ill-will" by the way of those whose lives they can never have or those they can never hold a hair to. the ammunition they use, is the lowest of the low -and says much about who and what they are.

if you're feeling torn on the platform, there's always the next train... I guess we'll have to wait for that to come around the railroad bend.

no one should get left behind... and if they do that, then too bad for them. i reckon they don't deserve your love or, to the least, that tear you're trying to stop at the corner of your eye.

and when the darkness seems unending, it doesn't hurt to pay the electric bills!!!!


basta, you know what I mean...
sending you my love...


04 December, 2008

Sinverguenza!!! I almost forgot... HAppy Birthday, Mario Maurer!!!

i'd like to thank the divine force up there for giving us Mario Maurer on the 4th of december 1988... yes, i have it bad...i know...whaaahhhh!!!!

26 November, 2008

What I Could Fit Into Ten [or the latest ten things in my head]

I haven't done one of my TEN THINGS blogs in a while, so here we go...

10.) TRUE STORY: [saw this on an interview on cable tv]
There was a boy named Ryan, he was the fourth child to a very happy mother whose life was devoted to her children. When Ryan was around 10 years old, his mother got pregnant again. They learned that it was a boy and named the new baby Michael, even before he was born. And every morning thereafter, Ryan would excitedly as his mother, "Is Michael here yet?"
He could not wait to have a baby brother.

But three months before Michael was born, Ryan accidentally drowned in the family pool and died.

Ten years later, when Michael was about the same age as Ryan, he then asked his mother, "Mom, can we talk about heaven?"

To which his mother responded, "Sure, what do you want to know?"

"I think those who love us are really up there," he said.

"Really?" the mother asked with much surprise and curiousity.

And Michael said, "I saw him, Mom. He was running so fast and there was a bump, then a splash of water. I tried to hold his hand. I tried to save him."
then Michael said in almost a whisper "And then this light came and he said I LOVE YOU, MICHAEL. And he was gone."

All those years, they never actually told Michael how his brother Ryan died.

9. ) I saw this movie called "The Kite Runner" a while ago. I remember watching a feature on the BBC News Channel about this film. I found it quite touching and depressing at the same time. Of course it had this premise about "everyone has the chance to be good again" but i can't bring myself to rave about it.

8.) Is it just me or does it NOT feel like it's the "-ber" months already? I mean it's already November, but I haven't felt any "Brrrrrr" in the humid air at all... Then again, I'm in Panay island...

7.) I'm praying to God that the blown glass apothecary dome i saw in Rustan's is still there when I return.

6.) ULTRAMAN MAX!!! Sorry, I just had to do that... I don't have the HERO channel on my cable back in Santa Rosa, just Animax. When I stay at my abuela's house, I literally just stay in the house. Ergo, the television keeps me occupied; and I've been watchin Ultraman Max lately. Formulaic as each episode has been since its previous incarnations, the latest one is just amusing. Even the monsters are getting on my good side.

5.) Looking around at how much Filipinos love celebrating Christmas, don't you ever wonder how they decorated say Christmas 1890, before the advent of tinsel, tivoli lights, and capiz parols? I wonder how they made it look a lot like Christmas...

4.) Sharing this quote from THE LOVE OF SIAM

"If we can love someone so much, how will we be able to handle it the one day when we are separated? And, if being separated is a part of life, and you know about separation well. Is it possible Tong,that we can love someone and never be afraid of losing them? At the same time, i was also wondering. Is it possible, that we can live our entire life without loving anyone at all? That is my loneliness."

~ Di ba naman? Di ba? Di ba? Di ba? Di ba? Di ba?

3. What is it with the rain effects in Filipino movies? Predictably, it pours when lovers kiss, run after each other, or when the movie is just about to end. But they don't get it right; the way it pours, the way it looks, the way it just is... Oh well...

2.) Nothing beats vintage episodes of SHAIDER...the nostalgia it evokes...

1.) The latest season/episodes of "Kyo Kara Maoh" [God(?) Save Our King] rocks!!! I love it!!! All the while, I thought they ended with episode 78, but here we are with episode 90+

17 November, 2008

Natumbok mo, Oscar Wilde! Natumbok mo!!!

i'd like to share something i came upon just a while ago...Oscar Wilde could not have put it more succinctly than this:

"My attitude toward all this is that a true artist who believes in his art and his mission must necessarily be altogether insensible to praise or blame. If he is not a mere sham, he cannot be disturbed by any caricature or exaggeration. He has the truth on his side. And the opinion of the whole world should be of no consequence to him."

~Oscar Wilde

What do you think? Didn't he get it right a century or so ago?

16 November, 2008



It's nearly 2:00am here at the ancestral house in San Jose, Antique. I went downstairs a while ago, i was staring at the 8ft. Christmas Tree I gifted my abuela last year. We spent most of the morning today doing assembly, fixing up the branches, and wiping the greens individually with a damp cloth [ which is not an easy feat by "mindless chores" standards ]; and predictably -with the provincial pace- the winds of procrastination blew my way, and i put off placing the lights on the tree.

Trust me, when you spend your whole life making a spectacle of your christmas displays, you pretty much have a grasp of your methods of execution ergo you needn't have to rush a tree.

Seeing that huge mass of faux foliage standing there, waiting for the possibilities of baubles and ornaments that would hang upon the spindles of its branches, by some unexplainable drift of nostalgic sentimentality while organizing the ornaments on the table, made me look back at the days when i first entered the Rizal Mini Theater [more commonly known as the RMT] during the production weeks of Tanghalang Ateneo's 2002 production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Come to think of it, my mind does wander into that realm quite a lot lately.

Around that age, most of the training in the performing arts i've received were acting based. And honestly, around that time, I never cared much for production design other than wearing costumes.

To those who have seen the RMT, it's really more of an audio-visual room than a theater. The sightlines alone are a challenge, there are no fixed proscenium frames to define the space, and no stage floor installed [ at least that's how i remember it during my time ]. To every production designer that has ever worked in that space, it was one tedious christmas tree to prepare for decorating...

That year, Badong Bernal just came back from a tour around Southeast Asia and it greatly influenced his designs. The RMT was transformed into the romantic realm of Illyria. Where, upon a white floor in the center, one sees a multi-pointed stylized star painted gold; and a multi-faceted house in the Menangkabau architectural silhouette embellished with ornate carvings which will be finished in goldleaf, stands alone secretly held by a pivot, making it turn and change shape before the audience's eyes.

And if you think about it, it does allude to Orsino's line in the play that goes, "O pag-ibig kay liksi ng iyong pintig na papalit-palit ng hugis ayon sa iyong layon at nais." [That is, if I remember that line correctly. But i'm sure you get the point. Oh yeah, i forgot to mention we used Rolando Tinio's Filipino translation of the play.] This performance space is then framed by a false proscenium, the lines of which, serve as a counterpoint to the somewhat outward burst of the look represented in the central setpiece.

And i was just filled with such awe on how magical a transformation the space took on. At that point, everything changed for me.

I started helping out with making the jewelry pieces that were part of the costume designs for the Pan-Southeast Asiatic motiff used by Sir Badong. It was the first time I was introduced to goldleaf transfer foil; a material i use ubiquitously and as much as i can when i get the chance [ those of you who have worked with me before know this well ]. I even remember that rainy 7:00am when my friend Ara Fernando arrived with this box of jewelry pieces made of illustration board, blue foam, and a stiffener called 'pelon'; and we spent the day doing nothing but goldleaf for later in the evening was the first costume fitting for the show.

That evening, Sir Badong arrived to check the costumes. That was the first time I met him; and it was about two years before he became a National Artist. And behind him, years of unparalleled achievements in his craft. Admittedly, I was starstruck, for I saw his designs for Lapu-Lapu years before and I remember how mesmerized a high school junior I was. In the midst of helping out with the costume parade, I had a chance to ask Sir Badong what I would call now as a 'ubiquitously stupid question to ask'.

I asked, "Sir, how did you come up with this design?"

He responded with what I would call Lesson Number One [ not as verbatim as it was for me but imagine it with a small dose of that brand of Sir Badong 'taray'... ]:
"Hijo, you can pretty much come up with any design for Shakespeare. His plays are beautiful material to experiment with. I simply took what I thought would work [refers to the design template] for this play and ran with it."

The way he said that so casually could not compare to the sophisticated pieces that were worn by the actors who were walking about. A genius always makes it look easy for him, as the case always applies.

I was not yet scheduled to attend his production design class that semester, however since that particular class that term was just before my Aesthetics class which he also taught, i started coming in early to sit-in his production design classes.

Wait! If you've gotten this far, i know what you must be saying in your head... And my response would be, "I know, right!"

We shall continue this next blog...

10 October, 2008

...the gods have spoken, ergo laugh na lang ako

"...the gods have spoken. I bring a promise, a holy vow. A world that casts you out, forgives you. And those who blame you, sing your praises now."

~How Shall I See You Through My Tears?
from the musical 'The Gospel of Colonus'

Lately, i have been drafting blogs with the attempt to be more profound and less 'acerbic' -as a friend of mine thus defined my random ramblings about life...but i found that exercise rather futile because you are either profound or you are not. So, why should one such as i make an attempt when i know i already am!?! And we're 'acerbic' once again...hahahaha!!! [and if you didn't get that, well...i really don't want to go there.]

But allow me then, to speak of truly noble men, of fierce friends, and those who "aren't necessarily the brightest bulb in the christmas tree."

First, of truly noble men. I am thankful of the respect of those whom i have considered as fathers and mentors and their concern for me in the years past until now. Some of whom, still hold their then 'once wide-eyed idealistic student' with enough regard to protect him from ill-will.
For at a time when silence is golden against the noise of a monkey clattering cymbals, a whisper drowns out the noise bearing truths that endure. And remarkable it is, that there is more than one whisper...

Second, of fierce friends. Learn then, dear reader, the value of true friendship. Without them saying it, they do utter for you this blessing: "May God stand between you and harm, in all the empty places where you must walk." -and if you find them, be assured that they will keep that candle burning by the window. For in your existence, you learn that some friends don't make it into your future for a reason. And those that you get to keep, are worth the laughter and the unavoidable tears. Enough said...

And of course, "that which isn't necessarily the brightest bulb in the christmas tree" or if you prefer the idiom "not the sharpest tool in the shed"
~well, look at it this way, they can be replaced. Their own inadequacies will send them into obscurity. As the other term applies, they will be their own undoing. Laugh na lang ako...


03 October, 2008

my dose of ten for the week...

in the past two weeks, i have been quite sick
[no, not in the head, we already know that's a given...hahahahaha!!!] and no amount of medication was helping me get better. Thus, i was unable to update my blogs lately.

A lot has been said and written as of late, that fourteen days do seem quite long gone. Cyberspace does, by the amount of ones and zeroes, oversaturate itself to the point of collapsing and building itself all over; a cycle that goes on and on by the second. But why am i getting there? I do get distracted a lot lately...must be the medication. Hahahaha!

Semptember just went by so fast. The 'ber' months being upon us, during the my last trip to divisoria, tabora street was all lined with twinkling lights and christmas ornaments on sale while my mind was still making plans for halloween.

I'm beginning to think that i may have put my trust in the wrong people; and stood by the ill-willed too quickly. Thus,by serious lack of judgement, may have said things impulsively without foresight, myself also deceived and victimized, and caught in the midst of what one might call "kasalaulaan" [forgive the tagalog, but it's a welcome break and i couldn't find the words.] But that mistake, as my breeding has taught me, i will have to live with.

And exercising the better part of valour also means taking all the ill things said about your person, see if there's some truth to what they said, accept them and improve upon them. And in the end, it will make you a better person.
[but my artistic judgement i do not intend to compromise; i know when something is horrible...]

Our Great Uncle Juan Orendain said this to my abuelo, Benjamin de los Reyes, once:
"What is disgraceful, is to be left to the dust after you fall."
Snaps for lolo juan!!! snap-snap-snap!

My processional image of Santa Salome will have her feast day soon...i still haven't dealt with her feast day robes, and her new jewelry!!! Whahhhh!!!

I am grateful I survived performing last september 3Oth as Oberon in TDS' 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'...given the fever, heart palpitations, aching joints, sore throat, and coughing [that miraculously happened offstage] the show went on...horrible actor that i am...[insert reaction here, wink! wink! ]

A must share text quote from Peque Gallaga,

"Sometimes the fluffy bunny of incredulity zooms round the bend so rapidly that the greyhound of language is left, agog, in the starting cage."
~ David Mitchell

Relate, anyone?

Laughter is indeed the best medicine... send my love to the leprechauns!!! my gooseneck, Aria...thanks for introducing me to LEGALLY BLONDE the musical. Im still singing it in my head!

I actually fell asleep ten minutes into the Biden and Palin U.S. Vice-Presidential debate...then again, what do i care, right? Im in the philippines for cryin' out loud!

Happy Birthday to my inaanak Neil Cedric!!! You're one year old na...hahaha!!!

26 September, 2008

divisoria, quiapo, and the right amount of gratitude...

i was at quiapo church yesterday [actually, i haven't been there as much as i used to this past month with rapunzel and all...] after doing my usual walk around plaza miranda, i came into the church just in time to catch the angelus. And it was raining outside; has been since i was in divisoria earlier that afternoon.

Sitting there, i realized what i havent done in a while; and that was to be grateful. Funny, because as i passed by the side gallery where the image of the nuestra señora de la paz y buen viaje was, i remembered that not long ago, i was at that same spot with an earphone stuck at my ear, i suddenly heard "Mama Will Provide" playing on the mp3 player... and i laughed at myself. Indeed she has!!!

A little later, i went out to take my chances with hailing a cab -insane thought during rush hour on a rainy evening- but i wanted to get home early...and the rain got worse! But i didn't care much as i do love the rain and as everyone was rushin for shelter, i was the only one on the street...AND A CAB STOPS IN FRONT OF ME! well, thank you mama mary!

So as i write this, indulge me to be grateful for this. My dear friend Sandro Lopa sent me this:
"I doubt that, Niki. Flattery and kidding aside, if there is anything undeniable about you, it is your talent and your ability to create. I know things get hard, and inspiration is very hard to come by, but that doesn't change the fact that you have the ability to be great! If you need time to think, that's fine, but don't go around thinking that you aren't good enough. Because that, my dear, is a whole lot of crock. Ok?"

Thanks, sandro...that message was like a month ago or so, i haven't been able to thank you for it.

24 September, 2008

memories of the TOWER!!!

this blog is dedicated to that ubiquitous, long, and hard member of our Rapunzel set, the TOWER [ikaw ha, what were you thinking about?]

-for being a stage engineering nightmare, taking me 3 days of hit-and-miss with the 'secret climbing mechanism'. Charing![charing, hmmmm, that's sooo last century...]

-for keeping the 6 pieces of the plyboard floor down [by its own weight], miraculously held together by heavy duty staples and without being hammered to the floor...and to think the theory behind pivots is that the floor should be fixed

-for forcing the actors to give the 'most death defying performance' of their lives...with concealed stairs that if missed by an inch would guarantee a trip to Asian...

-for reminding us to not shove something that big without lubrication, thus introducing us to WD4O...hehehe

-for reminding us that you shouldn't enter a moving door as the tower is revolving...

-for giving me 'many-mini-heart-attacks' hoping that rapunzel lets down the right 'secret weapon hair'

-for the storytellers who always forget they shouldn't turn it all the way around but only 18O!!! Grrr...

-and what about sir mike climbing the tower during egress, and I MISSED IT!!!

Oi, Rapunzel and TDS peeps, any more to add?

dance, oh gods, dance!!!

"If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst into the sky like the splendour of the mighty one, I am become death, the shatterer of worlds."
~the Mahabharata (pronounced without the 'a' at the end)

This passage was made infamous when the guy who invented the atom bomb saw the very first blinding explosion and uttered these very words... I wonder if at that moment, he realized what that blinding light would cost, how it would turn the tables of the second world war, and what it would give way to?

I think it's too early in the day to be quite profound...yet it's the first thing that came to mind...

On other sabaw matters, here's an old one:

Question: what did snow white sing when she came out of the photo developing store?
Answer: someday my PRINTS will come...

23 September, 2008

sampu, pulo, diez, dïs...[the latest version]

Been havin some interesting dreams lately, started keeping track of them when i do wake up -making a list- and boy have i been processing some weird ones...

And here's a bit of it: in this dream i'm about six or seven years old again, staring at the old mirror of my mom's antique dresser -which we already got rid of- and behind me, reflected are shadows whose shapes i can't seem to make out...and it didn't scare me one bit.

Another a few hours later: i know i'm somewhere fancy for i was dressed up, everything is lit in orange and lavender...i know i'm dancing, with someone, i know i'm being held quite tightly -and that's about it.

It's day four, and i'm still sick. This diarrhea feels like that time when i had too much oysters in ilo-ilo last december. Having been in bed two days now, I'm gona miss this mattress, the day of replacement looms...thanks, forty winks!

I'd better get my halloween display started...my tikbalang sculpture awaits to take form. I think i'm gonna need someone who looks like one to model...sylveth, you know someone?

"Never speak ill of society, Algernon. Only those who can't get into it do that."
~lady bracknell, 'the importance of being earnest' (bato-bato sa langit...hahahaha!)

I miss the bibingka soufflé at C2!!! It's been months...oh me, oh my...

I haven't seen my newly commissioned Saint Joseph and Reina de las Flores rebultos since their first painting phase...i do hope i can take them home soon.

Another campus shooting in finland takes the lives of nine people, and the shooter following suit. Notice that it only happens to caucasians? My heart and prayers go to them. As i have insisted for years, never give toy guns to kids...

Hoy, blue eagles! Huwag kayo mag-uuwi ng kahihiyan! The Gesú and Bellarmine field is due for one hell of party and you better not disappoint. Hahahaha!

20 September, 2008

'a tale told by a fool, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing' [and that's not me]

my better judgement as a jesuit educated theater artist kind of held me back from reacting to the Philstage slash Tililing Fiasco; that is by no simple terms a Pandora's Box of sorts in this little circle of theater practitioners and lovers alike. however, i am compelled to speak but a few truths as i was taught not to offend people with style but rather offend them with substance.

there is such a thing as integrity in writing. you may be at a loss with grammar and sentence construction but if you do have a grasp of what you are saying, you will be understood by any simpleton or any intellectual for that matter. the first taking it as authoritative or truthful while the latter forgiving you for your handicap. yet the tragedy of the simpleton is that he can often take some things as truth and the intellectual need not be bothered.

plead me your rights to free speech and i shall remind you of your responsibiltiy to your writing. [this is for you, mister tililing] having read your review, i could not make heads or tails of it. a beloved mentor of mine who saw it fit to point out its lack of worth saying thus, "what a horribly written review! with one eye on wikipedia and another on his crotch. don't waste your time with this..." -i need not drop the name for i am sure of the sick pleasure some people have when it comes to doing so.

for one, sit down before you hang yourself. if indeed you are knowledgeable of the craft, you make your comparisons as that of a tangled chain; the links of which though deceptively connected never really is. i won't wax on what shakespeare and the greeks have to do with children's theater for i see no point in it. to use knowledge in borrowed gloss to prove a point -obviously irrelevant- yet coming out incoherent is a mark of ignorance.

and in your review you ask: “Isn’t that theater is a shared artistry? How come we did not experience it?” -at first, i tried to get over the fact that the question in itself is flawed. but let me explain what theater people are guilty of: and that is, watching another's production and looking for the mistakes and whatever bad thing is there to critique and laugh at. my displeasure ensues with reading this diss-list of the worst theater productions of the year in which you show such delight in collating, making assumptions on one musical theater you are yet to see, of for that matter your blindness to all the valid points you obviously have read as a reaction to what has transpired [but i fear, you never understood]

notice that no one picked a direct fight with you? because there is a bigger picture here, and i think most of those who have read the blogs left and right fail to realize that. what does scare me is that we fight an "educated fight" -i could not say enlightened for that is a state of being that in my years i'm not yet entitled to being-

going through the proper channels, consulting certain colleagues in the industry, making sure that our point was valid was the path we took. we got over the fact that we are "might be the victims here" or that we run the risk of losing future audiences at the expense of this review.

but as we have learned, taking the high road is not enough, some people fight the -pardon the word- "palengkera fight" which in plain terms goes, "bakit ka defensive? uy, guilty..."

and so i must go through these, and i quote you:

-tell me, how many so-called Philstage Jurors have come to some other production dragging what the FOH people in my day call "pets" without philstage IDs and were given free tickets? as is the case, if this happened to us in our little corner of the south, how much more the accessible productions in the metro? and reading the context to the tickets once again, did that not have a valid point?

"In fairness, ilan sa mga kasali sa musical na WEST SIDE STORY na aking kakilala ay hindi pa nag-iimbita. Ano kaya ang nakapaloob dito sa produksiyong ito? Ito kaya ang tanghaling WORST THEATER PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR? naku...aabangan ko na..."
-now, tell me, who in this particular situation looked cheap?

-we know that, but nonetheless every production has fiscal obligations to the many aspects of a production and obligations to the company. an empty seat at value is much better than an occupied seat which we will earn none from -and in this case...oh, i had better stop myself here...hay que barbaridad...

-please don't insult my intelligence...we did not require you to watch, not to be jury to our work. if you begrudge us for your commute, then please send me your bank account and i will gladly reimburse your cost. and perhaps we may treat you to lunch -how many teaspoons of arsenic do you want in your stew?

-why sir, question you our goodwill? if what i have seen thus far from you is any indication of your education and the education you share, then i pity those students you claimed to have touched for they may have been touched in the inappropriate places and their exposure to the theater gone awry.

-oh good god, typical of the "palengkera fight" to assert that which is less of thy personage and to begrudge those who are born into a different life...on the other hand, Matapobre, where did you get that? that is beside the point, this is not an argument of social class here...typical...kasalanan ba namin ang nakagisnan naming buhay?

i shall spare the readers the rest...

what is also tragic here is that people who pick "palengkera fights", no matter how you fight back with reason and substance will only be affected if you fight them in their own style...too bad...

18 September, 2008

"hindi ito ang ikabubuhay mo; ito ang ikaliligaya ng kaluluwa mo!"

that's what i said... [if you're being a bit daft today, i meant the quote as this blog's title]

I spent most of the past day in thought. Well, what's new? One of the perks of being me, i do over-think things [the cause of many-an-insane episodes of the imaginary tv series 'niki as we know him'] over and over again -redundant, is that you?

I must say, after like 16 hours or so of work the day before, and getting home at 2:00am; I was dead tired.

But beyond the physical and mental exhaustion I felt, it was the apparent distaste I had with the situation I was witness to that wore down my spirit.

All my life, i have not known a world outside the theatre. A beloved friend of mine, sandro lopa, once said something like, "a part of you dies once the show finally ends." -and there are some shows you do that make you die a little inside because deep inside there's so much at stake.

That's why, when I look at the Theater Down South family and see the many things we have to work our way around, to make do, and sacrifice so that our obligation to the craft is not compromised; i'm grateful ten times over.

But on the other hand, there are those who are doing a disservice to the craft by distancing themselves from the bigger picture of getting a show to curtain rather than giving up a few comforts for the sake of it.

And boy did it happen before my eyes...

Now, most of you know how vicious i can get so this blog won't be any different.

I don't know what school of theatre some people are coming from but if you're more concerned about pay rather than improving on your performance 3 days into first curtain, then you shouldn't be on stage.

When you sit there, whispering and complaining rather than helping find ways to help solve the current problem and be part of a team, then there's no room here for you.

If you're here because you want to be a star -yet obviously you lack some skills- then you had better collapse into a black hole.

And if it's not good enough, why should we risk opening the house to let people in? That would be a waste of their time.

It's one thing to risk it blindly with your whole heart in it and take falling down with the humility it entails. It is another to do something complacently thinking you're good enough and you might get away with it. [clearly some people are just gluttons for self humiliation...hahaha!]

I really don't know how to end this blog...i had said what i wanted to, so i should leave it...and im already sleepy...

15 September, 2008

before i go...mario maurer, what have you done to me!?! whaaaaaaaaaah!!!!!

hahahahaha...i knew it!!! it would only take days before you consume my sanity...buti na lang, cute ka!!!
[insert image of niki contemplating on going to thailand...with an indescribable grin on his face]

manang, hindi ka ba naman sobrang dikit sa kanya, ha?

well, at least manang pinky's having a great time...mang-inggit ba?

13 September, 2008

one interesting saturday...without leaving home

how does one fuel one's mind? how does one take something primordial and end up with something inspired? how does one -ah, forget it! I know the formula of questions works well in threes but i don't have a third one.

today, i didn't feel like doing anything else but be counter-productive...so, i took out my dvd of 'the slipper and the rose' [another musical version of the cinderella tale] starring richard chamberlain as the prince and gemma craven as cinderella. When the movie was done, i took out my dvds of two versions of 'the importance of being earnest', the older version had Dame Edith Evans playing lady Bracknell while the other had Dame Judi Dench. I went through the scenes that i found most hilarious just for the heck of it. And i took out other titles like 'farinelli', 'a man for all seasons', 'medea', 'opera vox' and 'mad love' to go through the scenes that i really loved. I had what one would call an audio-visual overload of an afternoon.

And then i found my copy of 'el puente de san luis rey' [the bridge of san luis rey] which i decided to watch in its entirety. Watching it again, i found a new appreciation for it. And i quote:

"Now he discovered that secret from which one never quite recovers. That even in the most perfect love, one person loves less profoundly than the other. There may never be two people that love one another equally well."


By the time the movie was over, it was late into the evening. I needed that audio-visual overload...stimulated the creative juices enough that i took out a notebook and scribbled down whatever came to mind... like 20 or so whatevers. Hahaha!!!

12 September, 2008

connecting the dots in the sky [part one]

you guys can relate to this, right? when you know what you're looking for exactly and remember where you placed it last but can't find it? welk, that's one for Saint Anthony to find...

so, there i was, trying to get this blog started when i had to stop because the very centerpiece of it was nowhere to be found. Not long ago, i took out a ringbound script and placed it on my desk. back then, i think, i was being sentimental.

Earlier tonight, looking for it, i nearly gutted-out my room with the mess i made. And when i gave up, i found it under my bed. Grrrr!!!

This ringbound script with an emerald green card stock cover was the first movie script i ever wrote.

It nearly didn't see the light of the photocopier when i tripped, fell, and had my laptop bag swing 180 degrees to literally crash in front of me a meter or so away.

Luckily, bleeding knees and all, i was able to power-up my old IBM thinkpad at the cafeteria. I guess it was by some guardian angel's whisper that i shoved a diskette and saved it there and then [hahaha! those flashdisks weren't that popular yet at the time]. Good thing i did, for when i got home and tried to power-up my thinkpad like 6 hours later, it wouldn't go past this prompt that said system error or something. Oh my frickin' crock of schist, right!?!

But luckily, that micro-floppy disk was the last thread of life the script clung to. And what's left it now is that ringbound set of papers and some memories.

And here's what i want to share:

Sebastian: "When I was a kid, I tried to create pictures out of the stars by drawing imaginary lines and connecting them. But as I got older, it became a lost cause for I learned that the stars are constantly together. Constellations and star systems, they were called. They were already pictures in the sky and we can't rearrange them. They say our lives are written in the stars. At the exact time of our birth, the stars create a pattern that makes up your entire life. A constant reminder that things are meant to be, destined to be... What I would give to rearrange my stars."

[from 'Leave Your Sky']

Only two people have read this script entirely...only two copies exist...but one, i think, has forgotten...and the other copy may have already been bookworm chow. Oh well...

And i don't write like that anymore...funny how things change.

11 September, 2008

random ramblings on a rainy day

I have a very clear memory of watching the rain from the window of the ancestral house [add to that, 8 year old me, pushing a capiz window too far, it fell off...hahaha!]

Have you ever felt like someone or something was watching you in this state of sleep when you're consciousness tells you to wake up but your eyes wont open no matter how you try?

Sleeping through a rainy day... Kind of feels like high school all over again, when you've just learned classes are cancelled.

The History Channel in my cable is back! Oh, how i missed you...i'm getting tired with discovery and nat geo...and boy did the three channels over-saturate the airwaves with stuff all about china in the weeks leading up to and during the beijing olympics.

Yesterday, i had a dream that it was already holy thursday, and my processional image of Mary of Bethany went into procession looking all shabby and her carroza unrecognizabe. The rebulto resides at the ancestral house in panay, when my cousin checked up on her, apparently she's been a bit neglected due to dust and dirt; and she needs a new wig and robe change...wheeewww, i thought it was termites!

Whatever happened to my He-Man action figures? I remember having like 30 of them...

The unwatched dvd pile, the newly purchased unread books, the long bought unread books, my writing drafts gathering dust, the comic book experiment, and that list of things to do/achieve for the year a fourth of the way unchecked; pretty much sums up the past 8 months for me.

I can't seem to figure out the title of this mid-80s sitcom where a witch with magic powers comes to live with a typical american family. Kind of like 'the nanny' but she has magic powers -this was where 'okay ka fairy ko' was copied from.

I want a penguin for a pet!

The songs i keep on singing lately, first "Wish for you on falling star, wonderin where you are. Do i ever cross your mind in the warm sunshine..."
And "starting now i'm travelling fast, on this journey to the past..."

Speaking of which, I just saw 'Anastasia' again after a long time, and i just realized why i love the way they animated the movie. In the scene where bernadette peters sings 'Paris Holds the Key to Your Heart', was done in the pointilism style of George Seurat. [can you draw the coincidence from there? Ten pieces of silver if you can...]

As a dear friend once told me, when you look at a picture again, it's never the same picture anymore...i think that applies to the impressionists...

Oh well...

09 September, 2008

those who don't get it, don't really matter [the vampire blog]

this being the fourth attempt to post this blog, i reckon it had better post or else there will be blood...i haven't don the blog thin in quite a while, so this is going to be quite a long one. i was watching the film "Peaceful Warrior" a few nights ago, and a character named Socrates said something about 'trash' -and i take it, that 'trash' is that stuff that clogs up our minds and distracts us from our dreams, from working on our goals, and from moving on with our lives.

but 'trash' does not just come into existence in our noggins and just bounce around in there; the VAMPIRES conjure them into existence. Now, taking a page from the musical "Title of Show" -a VAMPIRE is any person or thought that stands between you and your creative self expression; and they can assume many seductive forms.


-this sub-species of vampire is the most common of them all. their primary purpose in their sorry existence is to shoot you and your efforts down even when you know you have done your best work. this comes from their own inadequacies and personal insecurities of not being able to produce work that even remotely resembles yours. their first reaction to talent is hostility because deep down inside, they know that when Idianale will picks a team, they won't be in it.

not more than a few weeks ago, a vampire uttered thus, "I don't think you have a grasp of fabric." -brothers and sisters, this very vampire was the one who copied off the set design of a sondheim musical from the broadway staging and passed it off as an original and added Big Ben right smack in the middle of it -and claimed it to be "more English"- failing to realize that the famous clock tower was not yet finished during the time the musical was set in. now, don't you think that is rather -oh, the word escapes me- ah there it is: dumb?

i mean, i have had more than my usual share of these things from other people as well. Like people telling me what sword i should have designed when i know very well which dynasty and what sword to use?

or when the aesthetics of the color templates from the time of classical drama dictates that your lead must never wear black during the first appearance not unless you are going for stereotypes -for even an Elphaba first wears grey and Lucifer was once bathed in white light. but nooooo...somehow, a black outfit makes its way into my lead's wardrobe and it's said to be for the first appearance! and so, on-follow-spot-and-follow-the-lead-that-disappears-in-the- black-backdrop-while-running-from-stage-left-to-exit-at-stage-right...ahay, dios mio!

and of course we must not forget those insufferable posers that clim to know what they're talking about but if you read their laocquacious pretense, you would come to realize that they have one eye on wikipedia and another on their crotch as they write their so called views on what a theater production should be. armchair experts like joey tililing have really nothing intelligent to say but they do wax their words for the sake of "kabaklaan".


-this second sub-species of vampire is a remnant of the Dominican-led Inquisition...and the painful part of this equation is that they are often the ones who are close to you or people you look up to. these conservative-one-track-mind-vampires will discourage you from thinking out-of-the-box, from taking risks, or from growing into your potential. i tell you, when they see a rose, they will nip it in the bud! [i think i have used up my idioms at this point...or was that figurative language? moving on...]

they go like:
"maybe it's not meant for you"
"you're going to present THAT!?!"
"what makes you think you can make it?"
"i don't think you should take law"

there's always one in everywhere you go; like the embittered academician who has been left behind, or the envious aunt who has a drug addict for a son the same age as you, or the nouveau riche [oh yes, another blog that mentions the nouveau riche] b*tch with the "mabaho family name...hahahaha!!!

-ironic, i used the term air freshener but i never alluded to it in the last few paragraphs...oh well...


-the third sub-species of vampire is quite the cunning one. their game is deception and there are daggers in their smiles. they can make you look like villains and them, the victims. they know how to cling to power and know how to keep a "hood over the heads" of those who are in power. and when the shit hits the fan, they know how to cover their asses.

the maya carriedos of this world can go as far as calling you and say, "when they ask, you tell them it's your fault, ha...para hindi na humaba ang usapan [at mabuko ako]"

-beware these two-faced vampires for without you knowing, they may have just pulled the rug from under your feet like someone we shall hide under the name Rio Kerras, whom we once took in to be part of the project but come the work break on good friday, he alreadywormed his way into the minds of the producers and managed to take us out of the job and put himself in prime position.


-this final sub-species of vampire is the most dangerous of all. for you yourself create it; consciously or unconsciously.

when you begin to doubt your own abilities, when you begin to lose the fire of creativity, when you think you're undeserving, this vampire takes shape and the dark night of the soul begins...

"who do you think you're kidding?"
"you've been very mediocre, lately..."
"your best years are way behind you."
"you'll never make a living out of that."
"you'll never be able to live your dream..."

you listen to these taunts in their many variations because you know the voice of reason agrees with the vampire...



this blog is dedicated to the Van Helsings who have come to my aid...

and to my beloved friend, Alan, whom the vampires have come to visit...

27 July, 2008

the barefoot baklesa's Top Ten Blahs [001]

10. I never realized how 'broth for brains' [utak sabaw in the vernacular] i was until i went out of the way into the other end of the metropolis only to get distracted and forget why i went there in the first place.

9. Oh yeah, Sidney the perfume boy is really gone...been passin by the ubiquitous mall in makati these past few days and i guess it's for real

8. I bought a few more books...a few more books unto the pile that i'm supposed to be reading...and boy is that pile growing.

7. I find it unusual how some people really get engrossed by someone's new nose-job. I guess the surgeon is really that good.

6. Mamma Mia IS THE BEST!!! The entire cinematic experience was such a trip; it's either i was too ecstatic, or i was singin to the songs, or was emotionally taken by meryl streep's rendition of "the winner takes it all".

5. After what seemed like an eternity, i went out on a date last sunday...and with someone my age. Pao was such great company, and the braces added to the appeal... Actually, i was a bit tired so i dozed of every now and then watchin 'the dark knight'

4. Damn these pea-brained posers!!! Your uppance will come...

3. I don't understand why people take their own lives...the 'dark night of the soul' dramatics don't appeal to me anymore. Bitter slice of reality, though...tito arnel, may you find your way into the light in a better afterlife where salvation is still an open door.

2. You know how much of a great friend you have when even at a family tragedy, she thinks of you and reminds you not to be a gay suicide statistic. Maraming Salamat, princess of middle earth!

1. Theater Down South is now a year old!!! Happy Anniversary to Us!!!

...that's it for now

03 July, 2008

"Sidney the Perfume Boy"

on the way home today, i decided to pass by that ubiquitous mall in makati to buy myself an umbrella, again...it's my 4th umbrella since the start of the rainy season. really now, i don't know what it is with me and losing umbrellas. i think it began when i lost that fine wooden handle one my uncle got for me in london; and since then i have been losing one after the other since 2001!

but that's not really why i'm blogging...

On my way down, i decided to pass by the perfume area of the department store to see if Sidney, one of the perfume boys, was there.

I think it was around march earlier this year when i met Sidney: I was lugging around a newly bought toolbox and some tools when i decided to pass by their section [ i know, i have it bad, right? i actually remember the details! whahaha! ].

Sidney was fair, he had these eyes that gazed at you like 'he's so happy to see you'...and these lips that were just about right. Oh man...

Since then, i would pass by there every chance i got. And i was shamefully flirtatious [ argh! confessions... ] -can you blame me?

The last i saw Sidney the Perfume Boy was about three weeks ago. I just came from the foreign exchange counter and when i took a turn, there he was with those eyes...and just as i was walking towards that area, my phone rang and i had to take the call.

I couldn't make heads or tails of it, but i never did reach Sidney's display case that day...

The other day i passed by, anticipating those eyes, and he wasn't there. And just this evening, still no sign of him...

And the song 'taylor the latte boy' was playing in my head as i walked past...

Oh well, that's just the way it is...

18 June, 2008

...and the longest hair in the world

once upon a time never got this fun before...

this august, theater down south presents


a new musical from the creators of the hit tv series F-R-I-E-N-D-S
running at the insular life auditorium in alabang starting August 2008

check out www.theaterdownsouth.com for details

11 June, 2008

i must be doing something right...

It's june...i don't really know when the jewel mische print ad will be out exactly. But i was told it was this june, and along the guadalupe area. My first tarpaulin along edsa...who knew, right?

And so i roll along...

But lately, i feel as if i've been procastinating the days away...and i hate it.

Days when you don't want to open your eyes...

Days when you don't want to get out of bed...

Days when you drown in your thoughts...

Staring at the ceiling...

Staring across the room...

Staring at that sketch pad that should have been full of lines now...

Oh, so is life these days.

07 June, 2008

ah memories...a little less than a year ago [like weeks less] i began working on the maquette of Theater Down South's premiere production of William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream"

I can't believe how much my life has changed since then -nothing too monumental- but more like i never saw myself in the 'here and now' that defines this constant state of 'being a bit lost'...hahahahaha!!!

I'm about to make the maquette for Theater Down South's latest production for this year... So hello x-acto knife, card stock, boards, and glue...

Oh yeah, i need a muse...what do you call a 'guy muse'?

06 June, 2008

the receptionist

my friend pamu introduced me to "the receptionist" and a few seconds in, i couldn't stop laughing at his videos...oh to have the time to make videos like this...

30 May, 2008

martin cabrera's "CONDO" [and the hour and a half that i'll never get back]

during my one of my usual trips to quiapo to exercise my patronage of the underground economy of pirated dvds, my supplier handed me a few titles with my copy of 'ang lihim ni antonio' -which should be the contents of this particular post, but if you know me, i wouldn't pass off an opportunity to criticize something if it didn't equate to being such a waste of time. And that waste of time, is martin cabrera's CONDO.

With the advent of digital cinema and the accessibility of it to young filmakers, one cannot help to look at the situation as a tragedy for the art that is cinema as there are bound to be a few horrible self-indulgent outputs such as CONDO.

To spare you some 90 minutes which you'll never be able to get back, indulge my summary. CONDO is some failed attempt at intelligent cinematic storytelling about a security guard who eventually 'finds himself' in the midst of the usual grind of daily work in a condominium that is as expected, full of familiar yet distant characters identified by the door numbers they occupy. Actually, this well-worded summary is undeserved by such a lousy movie so here's what it deserves: "it's a pointless story of a security guard who realizes that he needs an opthalmologist and eyeglasses."

There, i have just spared you some wasted minutes...[insert evil laugh here]

I will, for my respect of his talent applaud Arnold Reyes for doing what he can with whatever crappy script he was handed. His interpretation of the character was consistent and of note. Coco Martin has shown some improvement, but what can he do with a bag of barf, right?

In the end, it tries to be something that it's not layered over by all that cinematic pretense and i'm glad that i only got myself a pirated copy. That's the only blow i could deal these amateurs for wasting my time.

Oh yeah, i forgot to mention, i actually know these people...and they are paving the way for the tragic future of philippine cinema...a sign of bad things to come.