16 February, 2011

The Barefoot Baklesa's Latest Lessons Late for the New Year Part One

Then I defy thee stars...

Do pardon the rather strong words at the very beginning of this post. My hands are quick to tap on the keyboards tonight. I realize I have yet to post anything on my blog this year other than the very first entry on the Visconti film “Death in Venice”.

Preparations for the Lunar New Year has kept the Barefoot Baklesa busy, give or take the research I have been doing for my book and the struggle to finish my screenplay. It's not that I'm spreading myself too thin, it's just I count myself lucky enough to be able to do the things I do, and that I still have the privilege of being professionally busy.

I welcomed the New Year as I always have, just watching the revelry from our terrace, as we aren't really fond of firecrackers. I held my water bells -a stick with a few dozen goat horns and beads dangling from it, which technically was a rattle- and made some noise to fulfill the usual obligatory noise that drives the ill will away for the coming year. As a person who has much respect for ritual, New Year's is not when I wear ritual quite well.

2010 just whizzed by so fast that I felt so exhausted come October; which was a month that was defined by one deadline after another. When I got back from a short trip to the United States, everything felt like it was a train at full speed, and everything that had to be done felt like a brick wall you might ram into. There was the premiere of “The Princess and the Red Carp” for Theater Down South, followed by Sondheim's “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” -both with unique production design requirements that pushed the boundaries of my creativity. Add to that our first ever haunted walkthrough at SM Megamall which forced me to sleep in the mall for the love of zombies and grave grabbers. Perhaps, by the time I helped curate and design Ian Felix Alquiros' 4UReyesONLY, I was beginning to decompress from all that.

If not for anything else, 2010 was an epiphany for me. It's as if a veil was lifted off my visage and I saw things a little differently. Touche!

Allow me to share with you “The Barefoot Baklesa's Latest Lessons Late for the New Year Part One” [a mouthful, isn't it?]

First: Blood maybe thicker than water, but if you can't drink it, then spit it out.

I put my foot down a few months ago when I decided enough is enough when it came to certain blood relations that have been harmful to my peace of mind. I guess in any family, there are those who have so much bitterness in their minds and hearts that they tend to pass on this bitterness to others which by some measure eats away at the fragile bonds that hold those of the same blood.

Last July, I have been threatened with kidnapping by my own kin. Add to that, the same old crap coming from the same dirty mouths that need to be washed with detergent and muriatic acid only strengthened my resolve to consider these bearers of ill will as “dead to me”. I am seven relatives less, and I feel free of all the bad vibes they keep spreading around; and I could never be happier.

Nowhere does it say that when you turn the other cheek, you should allow them to keep hitting you, ten times over.

I may write about the Saints, but I have no intention of being one. I think martyrdom is best left in the 17th Century. After all, looking at their lives, there is no suffering in Tartarus that compares to being reminded that they were disinherited because of me -without me lifting a finger. They committed fraud using my name, thus they must suffer for it. Every waking moment of every day they think about the money they failed to inherit, they will also think of me -hopefully laughing at their misery.

Second: Love begets Love

Unlike some people, I don't eat kidnap threats for breakfast and I never respond lightly to threats; therefore I asked a few friends for a little help. I was surprised at the outpouring of support I got from some friends and their parents. Some went as far as pulling some strings at the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police. To which one of my better friends uttered, “Let's see him try.”

If you treat people right, even the simplest gestures will resonate through time. I guess I did right by these friends who came with pitchforks, knives, and torches. When I told these people who are “dead to me” that I get served at “better tables”, I was also thankful that even without these walking zombies, I know I'll be okay. But an aunt of mine was quick to quip by saying, “I don't think they understood what you meant by being served at better tables. They may think you're talking about the food they cook.” To which I respond, “There is no accounting for lack of intelligence, best we keep them guessing. Hahahaha!!!”

Okay, you may think I'm being too mean here, and I'm edging on dirty laundry, but If you've been through what I have been through with these zombies, you won't blame me baring my claws a little. What I experienced with them is not love, there is no deplorable word to describe my disgust.

Thank God I'm not related to them anymore.

Third: Thank Goodness my Mother Taught Me to be GRATEFUL

I remember former uncle who is “dead to me” telling one of our cousins, “Inggit lang sila kasi mayaman kami.” [translated, “They're just envious of us because we're rich”] I could not help but laugh at his pretensions albeit delusions. Where's this money he's been talking about? Even his own granddaughter goes, “You know my grandfather, all he talks about is money -money we never see.” I had to resist the temptation of telling her, “Well, the last I checked, I got your family disinherited.” -but I said to myself, save it for another day, when you can rub it in with much grit.

I have said this ten times over, “Those who have it, never have to say they have it.” If I may be so blunt in the vernacular Tagala, “Ang tunay na may pera, hindi kailangan ipamukha sa mga tao na may pera sila.” I hate to shatter your pretensions, old man...but then again, there is nothing else of him to shatter for he is a pitiful and laughable example of a failed attempt at a decent human being. Oh trust me, I'm still being gentle.

I was taught to work for what I want. I was taught to know the difference between the practical and the indulgent. I was taught the value of self achievement. And at the end of it, I was taught to be grateful, even if I made it or not. If you are never grateful for the tiniest thing, I don't think the Big Boss Above will shower you with bigger things.

Even if I don't ask for it, the Big Boss Above just drops it on my lap. I'm so lucky, it seems unfair to the rest of the world. That is why every day, I never fail to be thankful that I wake up looking forward to whatever the day may bring.

I look back at the pitiful and laughable example of a failed attempt at a decent human being, and say to myself, “I know what I won't be when I'm older.”

Fourth: Speaking of Pretensions... and Patron Saints

I had an exciting few days some time last December. I was engaged on an online debate with some pretentious individual... Oh, there were two of them... Pretentious individuals then. And as much as I enjoyed putting them in their place, a little part of me knew that once I have shattered their pretensions, I run the risk of being attacked by the ignoramuses that crowd them. I won't bore you with the details but for purposes of trivia:

The original Patron Saint of the Philippine Archipelago and the city of Manila is Santa Potenciana or Saint Pudentiana, a virgin, martyred during the early days of the Christian Church. Her feast coincided with Miguel Lopez de Legazpi's formal capture of Manila on the 19th of May 1571. Her status was relegated to secondary patron of the city of Manila when a later victory against invaders was celebrated on the feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, which thereafter became the principal patron of the city. Saint Rose of Lima may be the current principal patron of the Philippines, but that was due to her assignment as Patron of the Americas and the New World -our country is considered part of the New World conquest- which is nothing more than a political move in the early 20th century for we were still a colony of the United States.

So, the next time you may want to wax your trivia skills, you can use this... Hehehehe

Fifth: Condemn the sin, not the sinner? I don't think so...

Say a woman, even though separated, is still married to another man and they have two children from that marriage, what if this same woman gets pregnant with another man's child? And even though she is living with this new man, she makes no effort to dissolve her marriage nor does she make her use of this new man's money discreet using their lovechild as the lure to keep the new man under her control. I think that technically makes her a Conniving Adulteress?

If you are a witness to this, would you not loathe the Conniving Adulteress? I'm not encouraging stoning to death here but would you say you disapprove of her methods yet you should let her be? Are you just going to stand there and watch? There are things I can forgive, who knows how desperate some people can be, but I have my limits.

In the words of a dear friend of mine, "How bitchy can you get???" Well, if need be, I'll take a page out of the Bitch Bible and wax poetics, rhetorics, and down right nastiness off of it. Hahahaha!!!

That is it for now, just wait for the next part -if I have the time...

thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

Love Stories Are Also Made Like This: 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 Kaouru, 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 Kaouru 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 Kaouru feels of not being able to live a normal life.

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

However, on that evening, Kaouru'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 Kaouru. The montage at Yokohama features the song Skyline, reflecting Kaouru's longing to soar into the unknown world.

By the sea, on their way back, Fujishiro Kouji asks Amane Kaouru 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 Kaouru could never go out into the sun, because she could die.

Kaouru 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 Kaouru to be able to share her songs to more people. And in that crossing by the train tracks, where they first met, Kaouru 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 Kaouru 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 Kaouru 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 Kaouru not to give up singing while hiding his own tears...

Kaouru 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.

Kaouru 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 induced dermatological condition myself, i know how people often never realize how lucky they are, to be able to go out into the world carefree. Kaouru 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 Kaouru 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.

before we end this post, here's a video of song Goodbye Days as sung by YUI in the movie

thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

14 February, 2011

Happy Valentines, Baby Tiger!

"Once upon a time, I wanted to know what love was. Love is there if you want it to be. You just have to see that it's wrapped in beauty and hidden away between the seconds of your life. If you don't stop for a minute, you just might miss it."

~quoted from the movie CASHBACK

Happy Valentines Day to my Baby Tiger! Thank you for being there... Mwah!!!

thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

02 February, 2011

Miracles Happen...

February 2nd is the Traditional Feast celebrated in the Roman Catholic realm as Candlemass -or the feast of the Blessing of the Candles, coinciding with the Feast of the Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria [Our Lady of the candles]. If you have read my post from last year , then you will know why this day is of great significance to the Barefoot Baklesa.

I always tell people that I have inexplicable luck; lucky to the point that it seems unfair to the rest of the world. On one hand, that is being cognizant of that fact; the other is my eternal gratitude for such a good life. Having been healed of my rare skin condition by Our Lady of Candelaria, I wish all of you who are burdened with pain and physical ailments the same grace of healing I have been given, and the miracle I have been allowed to be living proof of.

Lastly, I would like to thank Our Lady for my Baby Tiger. There are people in this earth that never ever get to experience what true love is. I am happy that one moment I have with you is enough to last me ten lifetimes.