31 January, 2009

the barefoot baklesa shares, [#002]

"You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair."

~ Chinese Proverb

If you think about it, this is one for those of you who like to wallow in your own misery... Then again, that's also been a guilty pleasure of mine: to wallow. Hahahaha!!!

the barefoot baklesa's view from here [part one]: ACTING LESSONS FROM ROLANDO AND ELLA by Ricardo G. Abad

i shall begin a series of posts which i shall call "the view from here". i'm going to get a bit philosophical here for a bit in trying to explain it. not long ago, in my first philosophy class, i was introduced to michel foccault's theory of "the gaze" -in this, he used the panopticon for his philosophical analogy. the panopticon is actually composed of two components, a circular complex where all the jail cells are facing the very center to which a tower is placed where atop it, the guard stands sentinel. but as one can see, the very gaze of the guard is limited to whatever part of the cells in this round complex he choses the face and the rest is out of this "gaze".

being a new company, we are not bound by the limit of one particular "gaze" to which those that have come before us have decided to stand and face [while some seemed to have succeeded and some are miserably stuck and failing]. every so often we must chose to turn and look around the panopticon; thus is our view from here.

Rapunzel for one, had but one window in that tower and saw the world in a way that was distant and unreachable. indeed her gaze was limited and the world beyond her window would be one blow of reality once she had to face it.

and so, TDS, from it's tower {insular life?] looks out -particularly our company of actors- and this article by one of my mentors Dr. Ricardo Abad from my Ateneo and Tanghalang Ateneo days is the first of many ways of looking out there...read on, and you'll see where i'm looking at.

the niki de los reyes-torres


Ricardo G. Abad

Rolando S. Tinio and his spouse Ella Luansing were the pivotal figures of Teatro Pilipino, a theater company at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and later the Metropolitan Theater from 1975 to 1994. Both had directed almost all of the company’s productions, usually western classics in Filipino translation, and set standards for performance that theater artists in the country still hold in high esteem.

I joined the company in 1981, and learned acting from both Rolando and Ella in the years that followed. I acquired these lessons during summer workshops, but most of them came informally: during rehearsals and shows, or during conversations in the Cultural Center "buffeteria," in tea houses, or in car rides on the way home.

Rolando and Ella taught by word and example. They made their points with passion and authority. Always they had a sense of mission, a quest to leave something worthwhile for Philippine theater. And they conveyed these lessons that left me and my fellow actors – Angie Ferro, Ray Ventura, Pen Medina, Dido de la Paz, Divina Cavestany, and Rey Malte Cruz, among them – yearnings to do theater for the rest of our lives.

I remember five lessons of acting I now pass on to my students and actors. These acting lessons are simple but deep. They assume not a talent, but a desire to act. They also see acting not as a pastime but as a lifelong pursuit, not a technique of personal expression but a cultivation of the inner life.

Here are the lessons, distilled over the years, presented in no particular order of importance, and listed with the awareness that these lessons overlap one another:

Actors are generous.

I once asked Rolando what he looked for when casting an actor for a play. I thought he’d say talent. He instead, said generosity. Talent, he noted, can be learned over time. What is more difficult to acquire or to see in many actors is a generosity to the art. Generosity makes actors dedicate time for theater work -- in rehearsals or private study, for example. It moves actors to reach out to the audience: it places their voices so they can be heard in the last row, colors the lines so they can be well-understood, and uses their bodies and not simply their voices to communicate ideas better. More important, generosity enables actors to reveal as much of themselves in their characters.

This revelation of self is not easy. Self-exposure can be frightening for an actor. It takes introspection and courage to peel off the masks one uses to be acceptable to society. The process of revelation also needs the support of others who will accept the actor when the masks are down. Only when these hurdles are passed can the actor show generosity on stage. And that disposition to give and share, according to the gospel of Rolando and Ella, is more important for the aspiring actor to have -- or to cultivate -- than showing displaying a talent to sing, dance, or emote. “Don’t be afraid to be real, to be yourself” as Rolando told me on the way home from rehearsal minutes before he got off the car to take a cab home.

Actors are intelligent.

Rolando observed that many were unable to enter or finish school, because they had to eke out a living as a stage actor as a replacement for schooling. But this notion of an “academic dropout” was not what Rolando really meant. To him, a dropout was an actor who lacked the kind of intelligence usually honed by formal schooling -- a person who was smart enough to portray, with authority and conviction, the wit of Molière, the angst of Chekhov, the arguments of Brecht, or the poetry of Shakespeare. Many Filipino performances, he thought, were ruled by feelings or intuition – and more prone to hysteria -- rather than by logic, reasoning, and insight.

To correct this limitation, Rolando and Ella coached actors to be thinking people. Many of the characters of Molière, Chekhov, Brecht, Shakespeare, and other great playwrights were intellectuals, members of royalty, clerics, and professionals. Even the tramps Estragon and Vladimir in Godot, or the kasama in Katuwiran, were philosophers of a sort. Brechtian characters were particularly difficult to create since Filipino actors could easily be emotional about social injustice. How quick we were to play victims of oppression! So coaching was more intense. “Show me your thoughts,” Rolando advised. “Model your character after your philosophy professor,” he once suggested to me during a rehearsal of Anouilh’s Antigone. In another instance, Ella asked me to repeat a short monologue 15 times (much to my growing irritation) until she saw a faint glimpse of my thoughts and my reactions. Whew! And I wasn’t a dropout, goodness gracious.

Actors possess a refined sensibility.

Rolando and Ella also wanted actors to acquire a refined sensibility, to have a fine sense of discrimination, the ability to distinguish between art and artifice, between the beautiful and the banal. In one workshop session, Ella assembled us to listen to Rachmaninoff. We must constantly listen to classical music, she reminded us, so that our acting would show elegance, taste, and sophistication, so we understand the period of the play; so we would use it as an aid to create characters. In a technical rehearsal of Wilde’s Earnest, Rolando and Ella asked us to listen to an energetic baroque piece and then to follow its rhythm as we speak our lines. Wilde’s comedy, he said, must move at a fast pace, and must also possess the playfulness of baroque music. “Listen!” We did. Then we spoke, initially, as if a hundred rabbits were chasing us all over the stage. Eventually, we found our pace, and I’ve been a Vivaldi fan ever since.

It’s not always high brow. One afternoon, I brought Tanghalang Ateneo actors to Rolando’s house to discuss his play, Ang Mga Kahon. We hardly talked about the play. Instead, Rolando had us watch a videotape of an international ice skating championship final. Rolando annotated as the tape rolled: admire the focus of the skaters, he pointed out, see how graceful and daring they are. We enjoyed the video, but had no idea why Rolando chose to show us a ballet on ice rather than to discuss the play. Years later, I read a book on method acting that urged actors to explore the other arts as a way of appreciating and enriching their inner life. There! That was Rolando’s point.

Actors search for the truth.

“Acting is like wearing a sweater,” Rolando reminded us. The sweater is the role that actors play, and its wearing of it is the actor’s version of the role. How that sweater will look on stage depends on the actor’s equipment – physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. No role can ever be acted in the same way; each actor unique. Each actor possesses her or his own truth. The Oedipus of actor A will be different from the Oedipus of actor B, and for actor C to assume that he can imitate A or B and do just as well playing Oedipus is operating on a lie. A plague on him for thinking so!

Rolando intones: we can’t judge someone’s acting as good or bad- only true or false. In more technical language, a truthful actor finds the justification of action from one’s inner life, while a false actor draws the action from conventional dictates – or from the audience’s likes and dislikes. The false actor “acts,” while the true actor, in the spirit of Eric Morris, as Rolando quoted, would say “No Acting Please.” Rolando illustrated further: does a person always shed tears when he is crying? Does a person always slap someone’s face when she is angry? Do persons always scream when they are mad? How would you, as a person, react in this scene? How would others you’ve seen react in this scene?

I recall one aspiring actor who volunteered to do a scene from Arbuzov’s Kawawang Marat. The scene required him to enter the room, remove his scarf, hang it on the rack, and then sit down on a chair. Easy, we thought. The actor took three steps onstage when Rolando stopped him to say that his walk did not reveal a man who was weary from work and love. “Repeat the scene,” Rolando told him. The actor did so, and for three more times before Rolando asked him to continue. The actor then removed his scarf, and started to hang it on the rack, Rolando stopped him again to say that the way he removed the scarf did not show the frustration of someone whose best friend was winning the heart of the woman he loved. The actor, frustrated but fortunately patient, undid his scarf in several ways before he sat down. Again Rolando interrupted to say that the actor’s way of sitting lacked a certain gravitas or weight. Repeat the scene, the actor was told, and so on and so forth. What took five seconds on stage took thirty minutes of workshop time.

The point: each moment on stage must express the truth of the character, and that this truth must be sought in the actor’s self. Develop the self, expand the mind and heart, and one will have a richer field to mine the truth of the character. And since the cultivation of the self takes time, acting, like rum or wine, should improve with age.

Actors act with an edge.

Rolando told us once that Ella’s acting was distinctive because it had an “edge.” “What is edge?” he asked. Several of us took turns defining the term, none of which satisfied our guru. Neither did Rolando define the term, leaving us to ponder the question on our own. Years have passed, and I’m not sure I now have the answer Rolando had in mind that evening. But I’ve watched many performances since then, paralleled them with Ella’s work, read books, listened to theater people talk about actors, and I’ve come to think that acting with an “edge” means acting on “the brink of danger” because the actor is acting “completely for the moment.” The performance does not look planned, but is taking shape from the actor’s inner life right then and there and before the audience’s very eyes. This kind of acting has “edge” because it is moving in unpredictable ways. The reading of the line, the gesture, or the bit of stage business looks fresh, spontaneous, and unique–not similar to performances previously seen – and illuminating the character in unexpected and believable ways.

It’s a rare moment to catch on stage, and a joy to be swept by this magical moment. Two of these moments came when I saw Ella Luansing in two productions of Hamlet, first as Ophelia, and years later, as Gertrude. She stunned me with an emotionally ice cold and seemingly sane Ophelia in the madness scene (no stereotyped Sisa-type screaming for her). She also won my pity when she, as Gertrude, bellowed out the line “O Hamlet, thou has cleft my heart my heart in twain!” with a desperation so real I felt she was about to have a nervous breakdown. That’s being edgy in my books, and a state of performance that can only be achieved when intelligence, sensibility, sensitivity, and truth come together in a generous moment of pure acting. Ella showed me what great acting is like, and that’s why she’s worthy of saint-like reverence in the annals of Philippine theater. She is truly, in Peter Brook’s words, a golden fish.

Rolando and Ella taught us other lessons. But all of these, including the five above, boil down to one core principle: the formation of the self in the service of the stage. That is why Rolando also said, with typical irreverence, that the best academic preparation for acting is not to take a degree in theater arts, which tends to be craft oriented, but to work for a degree in literature, or some other course, where intelligence and imagination are stretched, pulled, sharpened, and articulated. The addition of technical skills and stage experience will help, of course, as will the effort to stay fit and strong. But none of these supplements will bear much fruit if the actor suffers from a poverty of spirit, one lacking in the virtues of intelligence, sensibility, sensitivity, truth, and generosity.

It will take time to master these virtues. One must also be humble in the process of mastery. For this reason, Rolando and Ella did not believe in complimenting actors profusely after a show; or in putting their names or pictures on posters; or making them vehicles for publicity strategies. These ego trips, he felt, gave actors a false sense of accomplishment. They also fostered vanity, the bane of popular entertainment. It was enough to know, Rolando said, that one had been chosen for the next play to realize that one was doing well as an actor. Then back to work, to moments of study reflection, to the appreciation of literature and the other arts, alone, or in the company of fellow artists.

There’s something Zen in all of this. So be it. Acting, after all, entails a many moments of contemplation so that onstage, in action so to speak, actors can quickly respond to an inner voice that translates into a way of speaking and doing unique to the character they are portraying. It is the only way actors can enlighten audiences and make them believe in the characters on stage. Rolando and Ella led lives that made wondrous sense of this exchange between thought and action. We try, in our own modest ways, to do the same.

26 January, 2009

crushing on Robi Domingo [the boy I wish was living next door]

My new found friend Jamilla, a photographer, once pointed out how predictable my types have been this short time she's known me. Of course she's been privy to this mario maurer craze that has consumed the barefoot baklesa's consciousness as of late. And during a lunch I hosted over the holidays, in the midst of a conversation about our 'guy types', she says, "You like them innocent-looking, dont you?"

To which I responded with a naughty grin...

Jamilla and I share this fetish for Japanese high school boys, especially in their winter uniforms [that black one Yuri wears in Kyo Kara Maou]...

Speaking of innocent looking crushes i want to see in a Japanese high school winter uniform, pictured above is Robi Domingo. I've had the biggest celeb-crush on him since his days in the Pinoy Big Brother house. There's something about Jesuit bred and educated boys that just wins me over [as if I did not have enough of that while studying there...hahahaha!]. He's not as handsome as Mario Maurer or Brent Corrigan [who often reminds me of Zac Efron] but he has this appeal that I can't put to words. A part of me is wishing that he was living next door...oh well...

Robi graduated with top honors in high school at the Ateneo de Manila University and was among the big winners in the Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition installment last year. Just recently, he joined the roster of VJs for the Myx Music Channel after taking the top 4 in their recently concluded vj hunt.

What I would give to be the guy in the Darth Maul mask in the photo above... Whaaaahhhh!!!

25 January, 2009

the barefoot baklesa reviews: Takumi-kun: And the Spring Breeze Whispers

BL and Yaoi fans, this is for you...
There are movies that people watch when they're down that suddenly makes the day a little better. I have known a fair few that consider the movie, The Sound of Music, as one one movie to watch to drive the dark clouds away -a little too squeaky clean for your taste, huh? Then, allow me to share with you my latest discovery, that BL- YAOI movie that drives those dark clouds away for me: Takumi Sashite Haruka Zeni [ Takumi-kun Series: And the Spring Breeze Whispers ].

Takumi-kun Series: And the Spring Breeze Whispers

Based on the widely popular yaoi novel by Gotoh Shinobu, it tells the story of Hayama Takumi, a high school student from an all-boys boarding school who has what the translated subtitles call 'human phobia' -roughly an estimation of the anti-social behavior displayed by Takumi rooted to some childhood trauma. As the new schoolyear begins, Takumi gets assigned to the same living quarters as Saki Giichi -nicknamed Gii. A boy who earlier had spared Takumi from being hit by a plate of rice and beef curry by a bully.

I'm kind of new to the BL-YAOI scene so pardon me for listing down the few plot elements i find common among some of the animated and live action versions i have seen. When it comes to Gakuen [school] set stories, there's always some childhood connection that the story must unravel, a memory lost or suppressed that would surface years later, and there's the sudden profession of love which springs from Cupid knows where that leaves one wanting a moment like that to happen for real.

I forgot to mention this earlier: originally the BL-YAOI writers of Japan were female. What made the genre unique to Japanese pop-culture is that they were originally intended for a female audience from female writers.

Okay, and we're back on track...So, Gii likes Takumi -no surprise there, right? Projectile beef curry isn't something you get in the way of for just anybody. Apparently, when Takumi was still a child learning the violin, Gii was there during one of his performances and had liked him since then. Gii himself is a popular guy on campus, having grown up abroad and heir to a multi-national company, he is not without admirers. An all boys school with all boy admirers, where was that school when I was growing up? Hahahaha!!!

I mean, who wouldn't fall in love with a guy who finds a way to fly in the concert violinist you admire and have him perform at your school?

Not without its complications, Gii has to fight for Takumi's love through a wager he has to win to protect Takumi from the obsessive advances of another boy. Now, I don't know what it is with this particular type of hug, but I've seen it in quite a few asian series. You know that moment when the one you love is walking away and you hug or hold on to him from the back, asking him to stay? Takumi and Gii share a moment like this as Takumi holds on to Gii in the rain while training for a race that Gii must win[from the Korean series "Princess Hours" to "Full House" and a Japanese one called "Hana Yori Dango", the sight is all too familiar]. Then again, who wouldn't want to be held that way? To stay that way -even in the rain- cherishing that moment while it lasts because it's so fleeting? I think you get the point...

I have come to expect something from the Yaoi genre that I call the 'Epiphany' or 'A-ha! Moment' where the past unravels and the secrets are revealed [some often built-up by devices such as flashbacks etcetera]. I won't go into the details because you've got to experience that for yourself.

Don't worry, unlike most of the movies i recommend and review here, this one ends happily. Didn't I tell you earlier that it's one to take the dark clouds away?

If it's going to be a series of sequels for this one, then I can't wait for the next one...

here's more about takumi

22 January, 2009

the barefoot baklesa restaurant review: Sumo Sam at Powerplant, Rockwell

The Barefoot Baklesa’s Restaurant Rating Guide

The way I see it, I might as well create a way for me to rate the places where we go to eat. A taste for fine things, or for food in this particular case does not necessarily mean eating out at the most expensive places but rather enjoying a meal prepared in the best way possible whether it be some local eatery by the street corner, a specialty food cart, or the most fashionable eating places about town.

I have decided to use plates as a way to rate them. Yeah I know, how original, right? [ Sarcasm… hint… hint… ] First, let’s break them down… Not the plates, the categories, I mean… We will get to the broken plates later.

Impression and Ambience – the appeal of most restaurants depends on the combination of two things: the aesthetics of the venue and the atmosphere it provides. I decided to generalize these under the category of Impression and Ambiance. Yes, we have heard of a many bad Filipino movies and sitcom situations where they call an order for Ambience and that is one over-plucked chicken. Ambience is a critical mix of visuals, light, music, and thematic treatment while Impression is the initial reaction you experience upon entering a place.

Service – from the moment you walk into any establishment, there are certain expectations you have of the way you should be served. So don’t go on expecting five star service from a place that can’t provide it, right? Service in itself is basic courtesy extended to any customer, the quality and type varies over the practicality in a particular type of service an establishment sees it should provide under the operating circumstances. Service is comfort, good manners, and efficiency.

Food – of course you went there to eat, right? The way I see it, every establishment that serves whatever cuisine it chooses, must at least provide each dish with the appropriate preparation, taste, and presentation. Each place, having a particular specialty, surely by the taste of their own could distinguish themselves from the rest, by my standards, if I could at least finish it, then it is edible enough. If I want to come back for it, then it’s worth trying. And if I’m raving about it, then get off your bums and go there!

Value – simply put, is what they are asking you to pay for it worth it? Value for money is probably the most practical part of this equation.

So, each category shall be rated thus for their desirability or lack thereof:

Must be a Wedgwood Plate – I’m raving about it!

Nice Plate – Quite satisfied.

Clean Plate – Good enough?

Dirty Plate – There’s room for improvement…

Cracked Plate – Leaves much to be desired.

Broken Plate – There’s no hope for this one.

The other evening, my family had dinner at Sumo Sam’s at Powerplant Mall in Rockwell; much to my disappointment, as I had expected to dine at C2 next door. Their rice rolls leave much to be desired -for we pretty much ordered half of the types of rolls available on the menu and there was nothing with the way they were made that excited me about them. Their so called dynamite roll with the crisp salmon skin was no different from the Philadelphia, the crispy kani, nor the California roll and two others I can’t seem to recall. I was looking for certain distinct characteristics in each one but only found variations on the mayonnaise and the freshness a bit questionable. Their gyoza was not so appetizing either; because I don’t know if it was supposed to have an aftertaste or not. Their version of yakisoba was a bit ‘woodsy’ even if I enjoy mushrooms myself, the ratio of the noodles against the mushroom and the vegetables seems to be out of proportion.

And talk about efficiency, or the lack thereof, my lychee and rose drink never got to my table until forty-five minutes later. This was above the fact that the other drinks –which were the most basic like sodas and their iced teas were called to their attention or follow-up three times before they arrived.

And don’ let me get started on the fish…well, I already have, might as well…hahahaha!!! Isn’t fish and the preparation thereof what makes a Japanese meal? At least in my book it is, and no self-respecting place that serves this particular cuisine would do so much as to remove this pleasure I derive from fish. However, I thought having ordered the sea bass, the salmon, and the gindara, would have been the saving grace of this meal but then again, Sumo Sam does not fail to disappoint, right?

All three fish dishes seem to me like they were intentionally made to swim in a sea or stream of butter. I don’t know if they were serving me fish or a tin of that Queensland butter to begin with. The salmon seemed a bit overdone and tasted like butter, the gindara was too salty and tasted like butter, and what a surprise for the sea bass also tasted like butter! In all fairness to the miso soup, that particular bowl made the meal somewhat…the word escapes me…bearable?

There were fourteen of us at that dinner, mostly kids, who were happy enough with the generic teriyaki dish or the ika fry they had. But my Aunt Mirza and I were by our end of the table doing our bit of iron chef judging and watching my niece Zeejay eat chicken teriyaki with her pink Hello Kitty baby spoon and fork which made it quite an interesting evening. My mother on the other hand was content enough to mention missing the old Japanese restaurants from a decade or so ago. Knowing my mom, that’s quite a subtle hint that she was not enjoying the food either.

Ergo, the Barefoot Barefoot Baklesa gives Sumo Sam the following plates:

Impression and Ambience: Sumo Sam sure showed a Nice Plate
[At least they got this one right…]

Service: I think Sumo Sam needs to see if it has a Cracked Plate
[the servers were all over the place, they brought over three orders which were not ours, and the drinks were more than acceptably late…]

Food: Sumo Sam puts his food on a Broken Plate
[I don’t think this place could redeem itself from getting pushed out of the doyo –Sumo metaphor, if you get it…]

Value: Sumo Sam charges this much for a Broken Plate
[We paid around 9,000 plus Pesos for that meal and it did not seem worth it.]

15 January, 2009

Czech Choir sings "Ikaw" with Ateneo College Glee Club

I can't remember if it was Sharon Cuneta or Regine Velasquez who made this song popular. In my opinion, Regine Velasquez may have strained her vocal chords singing her version of the song, but it seemed to me the equivalent of a constipated performance I have seen of some washed-up theater veteran. [Boy, do I feel a surge of hate e-mail flooding through from some Regine fans coming my way... but then again,nothing that anyone who consider themselves Regine fans can say actually matter to me... ]

"Ikaw" [You] is one of the few Filipino songs that could stir my emotions if I'm being...say...nationalistic? My words betray me now, but I'm sure the point I wish to get across is not that unfathomable.

And as a believer of the formalist critique that once a work of art is finished, it stands alone by itself; and no singer who screeches can ruin it. Ergo, in the simplest attempt, and no vocal theatrics than what is expected, this video of a Czech Choir singing the song with the Ateneo College Glee Club is probably one of the best renditions so far.

Looking back, a friend of mine who grew up in the united states came back to study college in Ateneo with but a few words of Filipino in her vocabulary, made me realize how beautiful this song is...

And that's all I wrote.

11 January, 2009

the barefoot baklesa reviews Taiyo No Uta [A Song to the Sun]


[ Before reading on, if you haven't seen the movie yet and you don't intend to come upon any spoilers, then go to crunchyroll.com and watch it first. If you care to know what I think first, read on...]

I have had this copy of Taiyo No Uta [ translated as 'A Song to the Sun' also released as 'Midnight Sun' in some territories] for more than a year now, I think. I never actually got to watching it until recently when i learned that there was a mini-series patterned after it; and thanks to the underground economy, i was also able to purchase the latter.

I have never lost so much tears for a movie, I tell you. And I don't know what is it with me and these kinds of movies these days...

Taiyo No Uta is the story of Amane Kaoru, a girl who suffers from a rare genetic illness called XP or Xeroderma Pigmentosum -a condition that makes exposure to the sun's UV [ultra-violet] rays life threatening and fatal- thus preventing her to live a normal life. Sleeping during the day, she comes out at night bringing her guitar and sings the night away at a park in front of a local train station.

Once, from her window, just before the sun goes up, she chances upon a boy with his surfboard. She would watch this same boy pass by that same bus station everyday just before she goes to sleep. Under these circumstances, they never would have met. But as fate would have it, one night, as Kaoru was singing at the park, she sees the boy and runs after him.

She catches up with him at a crossing by the train tracks and ends up pushing him to the ground. Bombards him with an introduction about her which weirds the guy out. Thankfully a friend, Misaki -the only one she's got, runs after her and pulls her away. Leaving a rather confused teenage boy on the train tracks.

Before we continue, let me just say, this movie kind of takes its time, and i think it helps in the storytelling, establishing the loneliness Kaoru feels of not being able to live a normal life.

Some time later, Kaoru was sitting by the bus stop she usually watches from afar when that same boy, Fujishiro Kouji [ played by Takashi Tsukamoto ] sees her. They get acquainted, and he then promises to watch Kaoru perform at her usual spot by the park once the summer vacations have began.

However, on that evening, Kaoru's spot on the park was taken over by a rather obnoxious musician and she couldn't perform there. Kouji then takes her to Yokohama where they find a spot for her to perform. The movie features songs sung by Yui, the singer actress that plays Kaoru. The montage at Yokohama features the song 'Skyline', reflecting Kaouru's longing to soar into the unknown world.

"I want to fly well
I want to fly well
If only someone could teach me how
Don't wait too much for chances
Every morning repeats itself..."

By the sea, on their way back, Fujishiro Kouji asks Amane Kaoru to go out with him. This would have been the perfect evening for falling in love until she realizes that the sun was about to rise on her and she's still a long way from home. Fortunately, she makes it indoors in the nick of time, but now her secret is revealed. Kouji discovers why Kaoru could never go out into the sun, because she could die.

Kaoru gives up on having a relationship with Kouji because she feels he may do things out of pity or may see her as a freak. "I'd be happy if I could just live a normal life, that's all I ask."
A self-confessed simpleton, Kouji deals with the situation the way he knows how. Trading his surfboard and getting a part-time job, he works out a plan for Kaoru to be able to share her songs to more people. And in that crossing by the train tracks, where they first met, Kaoru and Kouji share their first kiss -a cute one at that.

I don't know if I read into it that much, but there's something about the use of the train tracks and the pedestrian crossing in this movie. I saw the train tracks as a symbol of movement, of life passing Kaoru by, and the inevitable future. And to share that moment with Kouji, at the place where one crosses the tracks, shows the importance of living in the moment.

But as the summer came to pass, the effects of the disease begin to progress, and Kaoru finds herself unable to play the guitar. [Sufferers of XP face the risk of the deterioration of their nervous system and may never get to live past the age of 20] Kouji encourages Kaoru not to give up on her singing while hiding his own tears...

Kaoru records her song, and Kouji finally gets to show her his surfing skills when she takes the courage to wear the protective suit her mother had made for her so she can go out during the day.

Kaoru held on as long as she could, with as much love for living as she had for the song she left behind.

I reckon most of us don't have the heart for movies like these. But suffering from a type of solar allergy myself, i know how people often never realize how lucky they are, to be able to go out into the world carefree. Kaoru may not have had the chance to live like the rest of the world, but she sure gave her life a good try even towards the end. One can sense this longing within Kaoru to leave something behind when she had passed on. The song 'Goodbye Days' communicate the long wait for life to change, to have some sort of meaning, and to be able to share it. She leaves them this song not as a matter of legacy but a reflection of a life truly lived without any regrets.

There are loves that fuel our very souls, and they bring meaning into our lives however short they may be. Though one never wishes that fate on anyone, i think Kouji was meant to experience this love. To shake him from being the humdrum teenager he saw himself to be, and find a sense of purpose in the world.

If someone asks me for a love story, I'll tell them to watch this movie. Because a love story isn't limited to storybook endings, love stories should reflect the other realities of life, bitter or painful as they are; or else, i don't think that's love at all.

09 January, 2009

Boy Meets Boy Trailer

I stumbled upon this BL [boy love -more often associated with the japanese 'yaoi' genre from the way i see it] movie from Korea called "Boy Meets Boy". i found the trailer above quite amusing and from what i can gather from the internet, it's the story of a teenage boy named Min-Soo [played by Kim Hye-Seong]meets another boy who takes his money named Suk-Yee [played by Lee Hyeon-Jin]and later meet again on a bus which soon snowballs into a teen gay romance.

Both the films stars [pictured below] do seem to come out of that bishonen or bishounen [a japanese term which means 'pretty boy'] mold. and in the case of Kim Hye-Seung, who was shot to stardom by the korean public via the "ulljang" phenomenon, his pretty face sure lends to the movie's storytelling.

lee hyeon-jin and kim hye-seong

["uljjang" -quoted from www.dramabeans.com

"The “uljjang” phenomenon is one that is fascinating, odd, borderline disturbing (or at least perplexing), uniquely Korean — and now, it appears, waning.

The word uljjang comes from a mashup of the word for “face” and a slang term for “best,” thereby meaning “best face” or simply “good-looking,” in the same way that momjjang means “well-built body.” However, the term also refers to the phenomenon of recent years where ordinary (albeit extremely good-looking) people have become bona fide celebrities simply from a photo posted online in their blogs, mini-hompages, and cafes. The photo in question would be widely circulated, and the hottie would find him- or herself vaulted into quasi internet celebrity, and then real honest-to-goodness mainstream celebrity once they’d been “discovered” and debuted as actors and entertainers." ]

I'm still looking for a copy of this movie...

08 January, 2009

The Ateneo Way... 150 years of Excellence

here's a video that brings back some memories...

you gotta admit, striving for excellence these days in a pool of mediocrity is not an easy thing though...

to all of you kindred souls from the hills of loyola, here's to further striving for excellence this new year...

ad majorem dei gloriam

03 January, 2009

Witwisit Hiranyawongkul and Mario Maurer sing Gun Lae Gun from The Love of Siam OST

This being the barefoot baklesa's first post for the year 2009, I'd like to start off with something that really made my day today...

I found this video of Mario and Witwisit [Pitch] singing Gun Lae Gun [Together] from the original soundtrack of The love of Siam. I think this was during a promotional event they did for the movie. Notice how Mario Maurer is tries to be as musical as Pitch... It's just too cute.

It's the Tenth Day of Christmas, this takes the place of a true love sending me something...

Happy New Year to you all!