Showing posts with label Writer's Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Writer's Life. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Learning To Accept Realities and Laugh A Little More

Two months since I found out about the cancer in my body, I try to enforce a change in my lifestyle.
Nothing swiftly radical: just a change of pace, actually a slow-down in the work place, less crowds,  more quiet time, more veggies in each meal, fruits each day, Zumba even right after the once-a-week chemo treatment, and the hardest part, learning to avoid stress and trying to sleep before midnight.

A  few well-meaning friends are warmer now, sending me prayers, fruits, and positive vibes.
Some close family members call and show up more often.
My own staff  struggle to work better, to avoid causing me undue stress.
Acquaintances at my Clients' workplaces are sympathetic when they learn of my condition or 
take notice of the headband I wear to cover my baldness. 
Neighbours, even strangers I meet on the road and in the clinics and a few public places look kindly.

I feel blessed for the tireless support of my Beloved who has even become more affectionate since the cancer set in.  She patiently accompanies me in the weekly blood works and the 6-hour chemo session each week, and on top of these, has to go through what could be an ordeal of listening to  a litany of my reads, discoveries, and complaints as I cope with the mild side effects of the ongoing treatment.

The handful of well-trained nurses and caring staff under Surgeon-Onco Dr. Romeo Diaz of the Springfield Breast Care Center in SMX are like family now.  Friends and colleagues from long ago suddenly make their presence felt and friends of friends reach out with words of Faith and courage. 

I thank God for all the support, as I go through the changes in my lifestyle, and in the way I feel about the reality of a Stage 3B cancer in my body,  and the "85% recurrence rate as Stage 4" 
(a new reality that I have to put on a watch forever starting on the third month after what I am hoping will just have to be a partial mastectomy.)   

But there is One Reality I realise will never change.

I refer to them as an Odd Couple, not to mean oddness for strange, but odd for being different and totally separate from the support system described above. Before any of this life-changing experience happened,  I had felt they never really accepted me despite my many efforts to reach out in both subtle and open ways.

I struggle not to get hurt each time I am in the same place with the Odd Couple, a situation that couldn't be avoided.   For the longest time, I had been hoping to cultivate at least a  friendship,  and I had thought my new situation with a fatal disease could become an opening.

I hoped that perhaps they can become compassionate out of pity for someone who has cancer, or be gentler out of plain courtesy to an almost-elderly,  or just  kinder to someone who will live "no more than five years".

I was wrong in thinking that things between us would change once they learn of my condition.

Every day, I pray for The Miracle of Healing. Heal my body of the disease, and Heal my Soul of the hurt. This is the cross I carry each day, the One Reality  I have to learn to accept so I can laugh inside a little more.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Filmmaking With A Mission

The feelings lay buried, unspoken, for many days. I couldn't bring myself to talk about it, not even to my Beloved who contained her uproar while I turned the bedroom into a research den. Nor to the staff who had labored long office hours to put the numbers together, edit-compile reels and print and bind six hard copies of the 100-page Proposal to beat the nationwide deadline.

I refuse to even think about it now. But, it happened again.

Last month, the sponsoring film arm of a major TV Network had called, advising me that the full-length screenplay I submitted had been shortlisted by the Nominating Committee. Because of this, a Sequence Treatment (equivalent to a chapter outline/plot breakdown) was needed for final jury purposes. That same night, I jumped on the keyboard and finished the Treatment within one seating of just a couple of hours. It was easier to deduce that from an already completed screenplay replete with dialogue.

As I pressed the SEND button on the email, the visual design of the film became even clearer to me: the rustic locations in land and sea, the docu-style camera mood and high-contrast tone of lighting, the pockets of action and dramatic pacing, the rhythm of suspense and romance, the mystery of the past era entwined in a paranormal experience of today. I was certain it was going to find its way to the silver screen.

Inspired by true stories, the film proposal entitled LUTANG (meaning, Afloat) is about the contemptuous killings of journalists who are on a crusade exposing the massive corruption in government that has allowed illegal mining and illegal logging by big business and multinational companies. In my country, and in the remotest of our virgin islands, there are over a hundred of these unsolved cases, and the film intends to be an important voice in unraveling the hidden mysteries.

To land a slot among the final 10 winning screenplays didn't only mean recognition for me as a bonafide screenwriter, who would then be capable of getting commissioned to write for local film houses. In addition to the long-term rewards, winning one coveted seat will earn me the prize money: a million pesos seed fund for actual production shoot!

A number of my colleagues had been as confident as myself. Having worked in television for many years, and on this film script for many months, I felt secure it had all the ingredients of a good screenplay worthy to be co-funded and produced by a huge cable channel here that has likened itself to HBO Originals.

I had tossed the script to my peers in the TV/film industry, and they have gone beyond praise, even suggesting character actors in the major roles, and offering locations and post-production facilities for editing and musical scoring --- certain as I was that this was going to be made.

Worse, as industry professionals, we all thought my credentials as an active practitioner and a few calls to network executives would have enough clout to influence the jury.

I was, we were wrong. The screenplay LUTANG (Afloat) failed to capture a slot in the final ten to be endowed with a production seed fund of one million pesos each.

Minutes after receiving the lethal email, I called the competition secretariat hoping to find some clues for my own learning as to why the screenplay was rejected, or who composed the jury, or did it rate even just as a runner-up in the final tally. Was my screenplay too heavy, were they looking for something more entertaining than enlightening? Did they prefer small personal stories rather than something that might spur some controversy of national interest and inspire some action from the youth? Did they want a simpler movie made for TV, and not a full-length picture that will help save the Palawan islands, or the Sierra Madre mountain ranges and the aboriginal tribes being driven away from their ancestral lands in order that foreign investments can pluck and yank the minerals underneath?

The program manager on the other line was deft in saying they couldn't divulge any more information than the list of winners contained in the email. She went on to say Thank You for participating and the standard line 'hope to see you next year'.

As I hanged up, all my hopes for the film shut down. I went over the script a few more times that day, and every day there after. And in each time, I felt I had done it its best: there was nothing more I could have done better character-wise, content-wise, story-wise.

A journalist friend of mine who has a huge interest on the subject of murdered journalists and broadcasters, once told me that TV professionals such as myself must refrain from entering open scriptwriting competitions for the sheer fact that like any other writing contest, works are judged subjectively by a jury that might be inept to the purposes of 'filmmaking with a mission' and can not therefore be measured on their entire merits.

Now in hindsight, I feel I should have listened to him.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Of Fertile Memories

Down with the flu on her third day in bed, Grandma muttered, “Alright, hija, you may have my antique chest drawer. It just needs a little varnish, not paint, and it will stand out among all your scrappy furniture. Take care of it… it has a huge sentimental value for me, I used to write letters to your Grandpa on its writing table whenever he was out in the seas...”

It was because of that writing tablet tucked away under its tabletop that I had been specially attracted to that antique chest piece. It was made out of the narra hardwood tree, the Philippines ’national tree, and is endemic only to Southeast Asia.

The chest had a couple of drawers, a smaller one on the upper portion, and a second larger one near the bottom. Grandma had been using the small drawer as her medicine closet. The open tabletop serve as her personal altar where the Holy Family is enshrined. Grandma would light a candle every time she prayed the daily novena, or her prayers to the Saints. (St. Jude on Thursdays, St. Francis on Tuesdays, The Immaculate Mother on Wednesdays, the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Fridays…)

Its dark reddish-deep brown color had been stained with liquefied wax and tainted with the age of time. But it was a welcome addition to my white and wood motif.

Not only was I excited to move into a new bedroom being assigned to me, a privilege upon reaching puberty, but I was enthused with having my own writing table. My very own, my very first. (No more writing homework at the dining table with the rest of the brood).

In my mind, adorning it with an antique-style writing lampshade was taking shape. I dashed out of my Grandma’s sickbed, eager to move her stuff away from the hand-me-down furniture I had really liked and had been curious about for most of my childhood life.

The writing tablet hadn’t been used in years. In one quick stroke, I swung it to upright position, freeing it from a cradle of cobwebbed memories underneath. I pulled a chair, found its level a perfect match, pulled the chair closer, grabbed a pen and paper, took a writing stance over the tablet, then I felt it. There and then, I knew I wanted to write.

Next, I emptied the upper smaller drawer, and wiped the interior clean with damp cloth. Then, I tried pulling out the lower bigger drawer. But either it was too heavy for my thin hands, or it was locked. Or both. The keyhole tarnished with rust, and there was no sign of any handle nor knob to aid me get a grip of the drawer.

Knowing for certain Grandma wouldn’t have the key to that lock, I whacked the keyhole with a screw driver, then turned the furniture upside down and used the force of my legs to push the drawer out.

Voila! Hardbound books came bursting out of the drawer. Classics, novels, world atlas volumes, biographies, self-help books that were heavily marked, soiled and worn-out appear to have escaped the ravages of time. The stench of an old world was breathing new life into my newly founded personal library, I thought.

Quickly, I gathered the books one on top of the other, organizing in my mind which of them would make it to the topmost shelf, and which would make it to my first Reading List in my now personal library.

As I stood up, with both arms in full grasp of the books, I lost my balance, and fell on the bed. Over a dozen books were strewn across the pillows by the headboard.

But there was one that hit the floor. About a couple of inches in thickness, in regular bond paper size. Red Plain Cover. Hardbound. Untitled.

I picked it up, flipped it over, looking for its title. It intrigued me to realize it had none. I leafed through the pages, yellowish and empty.

I brought myself to the beginning of the Red Book, and opened to the first pages.

It was handwritten. A list of birthdays. My father’s birthday appeared first with his name beside it. And then mine.

My grandparents’ names were on it too, and my aunts' as well.

On the second page was a journal entry dated 1962. The handwriting seemed convent-bred, the long bold strokes were ladylike, the writing tone raw and urgent. Its last lines read:

Here is a man who could accept me for what I am, and regardless of my past… Now is my chance to be happy once again, the promise of a new future in a faraway land, he offers but without my first-born…. I cannot find it in my heart to abandon my child to the care of Mamang…God help me in this my dilemma…

The words belonged to my mother. And the ‘child’ the poor child was 4 years old.

I closed the Red Book. I closed the bedroom door. I drew the curtains, also to a close.

The chapter of my Childhood must have ended that night too.

For days, I spoke to no one. And in the quiet of my sanctuary, I began to understand the ways of the world.

Rain splatters against the window and later finds its course down the drain. But the water never sinks to the bottom of the earth. It nourishes the soil to make fertile memories dissipate across the land.

By morning, the rain hadn’t stopped and the far horizon flushed a pale rainbow across the sky. I wake up to the song of the birds and the call of my dogs.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Immortality of The Word

Whenever something out of my control bothers me, I seek refuge in solitude.

A trip to the bay or a countryside lake if possible within the space of restricted time takes me away from the familiar. The distance alone and the feel of Infinity outstretched across the horizon sets me free from the demands of decisions and intentions, thus enabling me to change direction and coast into some inner seabed.

But in instances when the storm brews abruptly and there is no time to hoist the sail, I find myself anchored by my ledge of books. After all, what better place is there to find gratifying diversion, useful company and reformative recreation than in the well-meaning pages written by quiet minds that save the world from falling apart?

I drift by the Classics, or venture into the flurry of first-time Novelists. I sail with the breeze of Biographies and I soar high with the Poets' voices.

Whether Chapter pieces that stand alone, or page-turning Short Stories, I marvel at the magic charm of the Word, and the Minds that weave them together, bringing me places I can never know about and teaching me something I never thought I might want to know.

"It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it." This is how ANAIS NIN puts it. And this is how immortal I find it.

(And so it is with all my heart this holiday season that I salute and thank all you writers out there for healing the World.)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Morning Coffee or Tea

Until recently, I'd start my day with coffee and newspaper. In fact, a national broadsheet well-respected and highly opinionated. A source of valuable information for business and trade, something I need to keep my nose in to benefit the corporate job. I'd lay out the paper on my right side of the table, scan over some 40 odd pages of national scandals in Congress & elsewhere, terror in Afghanistan, in the home front Mindanao & in the streets, and then I leaf through various sections plastered with glaring ads of overly promoted but useless consumable brands.

To the left side of the broadsheet sits a personalized mug of either Brazilian or homegrown coffee freshly brewed. I suspect its steamy aroma filters through the garden window and makes the African lovebirds sing.

It was a morning ritual, taken within my first waking hour. Whether there had been a full six hours of quality sleep or only a rough couple of hours coming from a TV editing session, coffee and newspaper became my first grind for the day.

A daily procedure to 'construct' myself, not my real self, just the part that has to go to work to get things done and finish the job without scaring the stockholders.

One has to deconstruct before it can construct, right? To deconstruct, I set aside my personal pursuits & preferences. In their stead, tasks listings and to-dos take priority. While I savor the coffee, my thoughts organize the boring details of what to do in an office crisis, who to call for inanimate decisions and how not to disrupt the power struggle.

Calm but perked-up, organized but melancholy, I am metamorphosed into the dependable workingman, an important person everyone in the hierarchy needs.

Like a caterpillar into a butterfly.
But without the wings.

And when a part is missing like something is broken, it couldn't last.
The missing part has to be rebuilt where it first belonged.

The change must happen. Soon.

And so it was at the Season's End of a TV show that a New Beginning was cracked open.

This morning, I had Irish coffee and English poetry. In the days to come, more tea and books, instead of coffee and newspapers.

I wonder about you, writers out there? How do you spend your mornings?

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Season's End.

A children’s TV show that strives on the delicate balance of ‘edu-tainment’, one that airs weekly on mainstream weekend TV here in my country, an easy favorite among kids from toddlers to pre-teeners, is playing its final episode tomorrow, November 6, 2010.

Not a finale episode to bring to the fore a new season, or a re-formatted program, or a new set of characters. But it is THE Season’s End, one last episode with the teary-eyed star cast of 8-to 10-year olds saying goodbye to its loyal audience.

The production and post-prod staff bid each other farewell in an afterparty on the last day of taping. Many of them cried for losing a show that started out some five years ago with another title, then evolved into a faster-paced narrative, and then re-formatted years later to incorporate 3D environments and character animation.

The child stars and their parents hated the almighty Network for its abrupt and callous decision. But of course the network execs were quick to say that such business direction had been based on serious studies conducted by the research, marketing and programming departments which had been uneasy over the show’s single-digit ratings these last 5 weeks.

Many crew members, all those small heroes below the lighting gaffers --- the minimum wage-earners who carry camera equipment from one location to the next and risk their lives in halting traffic or cabling wires so the taping can go smoothly and who make the coffee and run errands for the Executive Producer, Associate Producer, Supervising Producer, Line Producer, Segment Producer and all kinds of other producer geniuses --- lost a steady income and beyond that, the comfort zone of a weekly work environment.

But as the Network Chief says: this is television in action, we gotta move on, we have to stay on top of competition, we have to constantly break our own ratings records, blah-blah… Anyway, he says, there will be new shows for the child stars, the staff and crew.

Meanwhile, my company, which creates the animation and 3D environments for the show, is perhaps suffering the most. It won’t be part of whatever new show the network has lined-up. As a result, a major source of income has just been lost.
In our workspace, both our senior & junior visual artists are sulking over the demise of the show. My partners are now worried, and are prompting me to find a replacement to finance our company overhead.

Everyone is critically affected with this season’s end. But, this is one ending I really LIKE.

It had happened before. The painful process of losing a show teaches one how to live a life in television.

Once upon a recent past, I had raised hell and cried for nights when the powers-that-be robbed me of a top-rating teen drama soap that aired daily on primetime television. Sixteen seasons to my credit, I had created, founded and directed that show which handled serious themes of young love, teen angst, familial conflicts and campus riots. It was top-ranking on the audience rating charts and on the commercial spots. They wanted it so badly for themselves --- the triumph of a successful series, the prestige, the monies --- so much that they had to deviously take it away from me and claimed it to be their own.

Back in the 90’s, when I was a beginning TV director, I introduced the concepts of electronic sets and digital imagery for a visually-driven quiz show for high school students. At stake were millions of pesos in college scholarships and the honor to be qualified in a standard-bearing national quiz show. It rated double-digit on a weekend timeslot, but was unpopular with the advertisers. After 6 years of telecast, the Network axed it. I defended and fought hard to keep it on the air. Backed with the signatures of 400 schools and universities nationwide, I begged the Network to allow us to run for the 7th consecutive year. After all, our show grand champions who got their million-peso scholarships were studying to be doctors and physicists and lawyers. I thought I could appeal to their compassionate hearts using the Network’s tagline In The Service of The Nation. But long before I understood the dichotomy of broadcast dynamics, I realized that that tagline did a good job for brand hype and network image-building but meant nothing more than lip service .

In the more recent years, I had done one or two seasons of various other TV shows, in four other TV networks. There was a culinary travelogue, a couple of dance exercise shows, and a sports show. TV shows would always come to an end with either of these reasons: the show poorly rated, or the producer had run out of money, or the advertisers fell short for lack of hype and star value, or in remote cases, the network grabbed the idea to claim and re-format it into their own.

And that’s the back story to why I have come to abhor all season-enders on television.

But NOT this children’s show’s Season’s End.

This time around, I am relieved to find an excuse to leave my partners, and the Company.

My hands had been full. Despite a life devoid of children of my own to care for, I’ve been loaded with (or actually, they have damped on me) more demands and expectations to make this Company grow, to nurture its CG & animation artists, to hunt and close production deals and post-prod contracts.

That could have all been just fine, if only my partners looked after some of the other needs too, and perhaps a little of mine as well.

The daily grind of studio operations and a working life that compromises Creativity to Costs had left me barely any time to look after my own wishes, my own desires, my own dreams.

A hundred boring details to make other people’s interests work, to meet network goals, to grow their businesses, to turn their dreams into realities as though they were my own, had consumed me.

In each time I felt exhausted, I would tell myself it’s fine, for a life well-lived at the end of the day saves my soul from feeling wasted.

But like many other things in a working life, everything that really matters to me took a backseat.

I used to say when the dream film comes, I’ll take my options. And each day, I lived for that.

But today at this Season’s End, I decide to take My Turn.
My Time.

Counting 45 days up to the end of the year to wind up online projects and put the corporate set-up to a close, I am done here. With corporate chains unleashed, I will return to the back door to open new horizons for a free-lance life.

By then, and soon, I can watch more sunsets, walk the dogs and write.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Somber Day in August

The incoming week was bound to be busy: a contract-signing for a car show, a couple of bids needing creative treatments, an ocular out of town for a forthcoming shoot.
So after the Saturday pictorials for a dance concert, I allowed the remainder of the weekend to take a quiet respite. With the Sunday sunset spilling through the bedroom window, I nestled comfortably on the net touching base with my FB friends. By the time the moonlight pierced through the window sills, I was still catching up with an online writing community. I hadn't spent time with myself in a while, so I was engrossed until a PC icon called attention to an incoming email.

The news broke out in layers. First were the lines saying praise and thanking me for the proposed film project I had sent. Then the assurances that nothing was lacking with my submissions, that this must not be taken negatively. Just that the proposal was not selected nor approved for funding.

The almighty Producer had just declined my dream film: a historical epic that would cross over to the present. It was my only hope to get my dream film off the ground. My only chance to regain recognition from industry peers who smirk at the idea of a difficult multi-layered film. My only contribution to helping awaken my country's youth to rise up for change and good governance.

I stood still. For a moment, an hour, I don't recall how long, for I tried hard not to cry.

Midnight came. What was I thinking? That some well-meaning foreign producer would care about bringing life to a historical period piece that no one in its own country would dare pick up? Despite many years of rejection, I kept my hopes up.

But somewhere there I knew I had to curtail my expectations. I had thought to myself what else could I be doing outside my working life if my dream film doesn't see the light. Maybe, I'll learn to write a book. Or produce another less demanding but crusading TV show. Or perhaps try a less ambitious film story.

Something substantive, not just anything. To look forward to and build my life on.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Nation Beleaguered

Today June 30, 2010 the 15th President of my country took his Oath amid a hopeful crowd at the National GrandStand. Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III, former senator of the Republic of the Philippines, rose to popularity on the strength of his parents’ legacy.

He is the only son of Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino, an opposition stalwart who had been assassinated in 1983 by lone gunman Rogelio Galman, suspected to have been hired by the so-called tyrant Ferdinand Marcos, and/or his CIA cohorts.

Noynoy’s mother the former President Corazon ‘Cory’ Aquino captured Filipino hearts when she led the country to a civil disobedience that evolved into a People Power Revolution eventually toppling, by no violent means, the 20-year Marcos rule.

After three more presidents since the 1986 EDSA Revolution, my country today is in a condition nowhere better than it had been some 25 years ago. A culture of Corruption had widened the gap between the hardworking Filipinos and the ever-rising oligarchies and political dynasties.

The very skilled among us, professionals included, trek to foreign lands for greener pastures, while our Local Governments here sell Chocolate Hills minerals, Boracay island parcels, rich virgin timber and of late, entire islands and islets in Palawan to foreign principals. All in the name of foreign investments, MNCs are lured to locate in my country tax-free and duty-exempt.

Our Legislative Houses are divided by the intramurals of a multi-party system and alternately, by indecisions leaning on next-of-kin favors. Those in power, their friends and allies, and friends of the allies are above the law to the extent that small drug and gambling operators are raided and captured, but NEVER their lords.

Our Government’s only profit centers ---- its Internal Revenue and Customs Bureau--- are two agencies brimming with notoriety and dishonesty. Because of this, big and small businesses, legitimate or otherwise, are stirred to cheat on their declarations, or bribe their way out of value-added taxes. And rather than feed on the corrupt Government officers’ avarice, businesses work their way around the legalities and simply pass the tax burden to the poor citizenry. What’s more unfortunate is that Legislation seems to be backing up this whole system. None of the previous Administrations is able to enforce the rightful intentions of the law.

Our Military secretly sells government arms and ammunitions to our Muslim brothers in Mindanao. A couple of recent insurgencies led by now Senator Antonio ‘Sonny’ Trillanes IV called attention to this but that was all. Political dynasties and wealthy scions of trade and industry in Mindanao continue to be protected, inspite of the recent mass murders of journalists and an opposing political clan.

Our country, once the top rice exporter of Asia-Pacific, no longer produces enough rice for its 90 million people; it has to import its own staple from the same neighbors it used to supply to in just the recent past.

Unable to produce anything on its own, the Philippines imports everything it needs, from branded cars and industrial machineries to rich countries’ surplus garments and excess junk.

More and more Filipinos live, work in and migrate to foreign lands. Our women marry Japs, Arab princes and aging GIs, sometimes for the green card, often for the greener pastures.

More and more young people from the countryside move to Metro Manila to become slaves of the spa trade, or cheap entertainment hubs --- after all there’s not much promise in the underdeveloped agricultural industry that remains technologically backward.

Many of those who have had the opportunity for education in the provincial capitals and cities, jobless Nurses included, have now joined the ranks of call agents in the so-called sunshine industry.

Inherently rich in natural resources of land and sea, and blessed with a talent pool of God-fearing, fun-loving, gentle-smiling people, the Philippines of the 80’s was positioned to be Asia’s next tiger economy.

It didn’t happen. Not then, not now.

In the hands of the new president today rests our renewed sense of Hope. His battlecry (Walang Mahirap Kung Walang Corrupt”) to eradicate corruption and alleviate poverty is both courageous and compelling.

We urge those around him to coalesce for the Common Good Cause, and guide him to distinguish from the personal agendas and the business motivations of the family oligarchies who supported his campaign.

We urge the stars led by his sister and celebrity talk show queen Kris Aquino to help install a culture of Good Governance and work together the way any constellation of genuine stars do.

This is the only route for his presidency to succeed. The only way for his parents’ Legacy to live on. And perhaps the only path for my Philippines to shine once again.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Baby Magic

The unexpected drizzle on a humid summer evening must have buffed up its magic on me. Feeling stressed out on the job and running low on self-esteem after a series of rejections, I fought back by circling the mood. Gone out to meet up with a younger uncle fresh from the USA, who I hadn’t seen in decades.

Minutes later, and for the first time ever, I held my seven-month old cousin, frail and fair, the youngest in our small clan of half-brothers and half-sisters. Carlos Rodrigo or C-Rod is the namesake of my Uncle Carlos and Grandpa Rodrigo. A Sea Captain who once lived the sailor’s life, Grandpa had “a girl in every port”.

C-Rod's tiny hands traced the wrinkles around my eyes while I recollected my faintest memories about my Grandpa. Next, he dangled his head to look up at the restaurant’s decorative lamps hanging ornately from the ceiling. Lost in my own thoughts while enjoying the moment, I had to be reminded by my Beloved to watch the small of his back, as he playfully hang loose in my arms.

Fifty years apart we are, I'd probably be at my weakest when he enters varsity.

Worlds apart we will be. I'd be stuck to my pen when he tinkers with the nextgen ipad.

His life just as yet beginning. But so is mine, on a second wave.

Miracles do come in small packages. That very moment with a baby boy in my arms was enough to turn my mood around. No longer did I feel inadequate about missing some other opportunities.

No longer did I mind being depended on.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Countdown to the First & Only Film About Andres Bonifacio

Seventeen days to go. I vow to finish the first draft of the screenplay for ANDRES BONIFACIO.

In the aftermath of losing a daily television show over two years ago, I seriously started looking at what to write about for my first feature film. It had been a long dream coming, to write and direct a body of work for the big screen. After assisting film & TV directors, writing endless scripts and developing concepts and shows, and then spending another four years for a daily soap opera, I feel I have never been more ready for film than now.

It took longer than I expected to arrive at a subject matter I felt deeply for. My mind hovered over some family drama pieces, then I started putting together some form of adaptation from novels and pieces that inspired me. I even collaborated with a couple more writers to explore other possibilities. But none of what I wrote took shape, nothing of what I started writing could get finished. There was a huge block.

Writing ANDRES BONIFACIO was different. It flowed out of my heart. I was intrigued with the controversies, the double-edged betrayals, the parallelism of our Past with the Present. Some issues I have never explored before in my working life in television.

The film will cover the last thirteen days of his life, told in flashbacks unfolding one layer at a time. It will pay tribute to the forgotten heroes of an era gone by, as it attempts to inspire the next generation ANDRES BONIFACIO. It will challenge historians to write about what truly happened then, at the same time, make us understand why Pilipinos are unable to grow as a nation despite the abundance of talent and natural resources.

And like ANDRES BONIFACIO, I too am a victim of betrayal, I too clamor for a national leadership devoid of corruption and greed.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Life On A Cusp

Ocean waves crumble, crawl and cede

repeating its cycle in restless motion.

My pen strokes fumble, mumble, tremble

rotating its themes in timeless cycles.

A first film in the writing,

A picture book in the making,

Long cherished dreams are no closer than before

as the routine of a working life

and the daunting tasks of providing for others

take first precedence over feeding my own.

Why Andres Bonifacio, Take 2

Reminiscent of my shooting days in the 90's when I had first started, and long before my television experience, today's shoot at an urban poor community in Angono brought back to life an awakening I've had in my heart latent these many years.

My country hadn't changed much: the poverty uncontrollably rising amid the constant lack of opportunities for quality education, and hence, a decent livelihood.

Small miracles from the volunteer teachers and community workers may uplift individual spirits
& young minds, but these will never be sufficient to effect real change and spearhead a growth from a backward mentality. Only a national leadership can bring these ideals forth.

I hope to live strong enough and long enough to find the next gen Andres Bonifacio.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Why Andres Bonifacio

The movie on my mind has been on incubation for quite a while now. Not that I lack the willpower to bring it to fruition, but its epic scope and the magnitude of the multi-faceted controversy it might bring about paces its creation.

Partly historical, partly social, the film hopes to be an inspiring legacy to my bewildered Philippines, forever caught in the evil contraptions of the big "C" Corruption and the deafening indifference of a people towards misdeeds of the powerful few.

The film will probably gain for me some degree of acceptance in an industry where popularity, rather than hard work and talent, thrives. But beyond that, the film will strive to invoke substantive insights on the last days of the life of a forgotten hero. How he had been betrayed, how he started a Revolution that led to my country's independence, how he was killed by rival factions hungry for power....and how all that seems to be a repetition of what's going on today.

The story has to be told. What he stood for, what he really died for... The film is about a true Pilipino, my national hero: Andres Bonifacio.

On the first day of another new month, I wrote this to a blogger whose site I stumbled upon today: Anything for Material: This Writer's Life...

You're saving my life, Julie :) Learning to write and accepting my imperfections have been the most daunting parts of my creative endeavors. At times, I feel inadequate, but reading through your blog pages stabilizes me now in affirming that writing is indeed a treacherous journey... that it takes more than Time to build... and that I'm not alone in the writer's struggle. Thank you for sharing from the heart, Julie.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Opening Segment for a Film on Andres Bonifacio


Behind a stack of handwoven fans made of indigenous materials, a young Andres Bonifacio, aged 9, circa 1860’s, at his poor family’s home, diligently studying…. DISSOLVES to Andres Bonifacio in his early 30’s writing for the Kalayaan.

Spread across his table is Jose Rizal’s El Filibusterismo.

CAM pans on his bookshelf. Andres Bonifacio's library includes the following: "Lives of the Presidents of the United States"; "History of the French Revolution" (two volumes); "Ruins of Palmyra," "La Solidaridad" (three volumes); "Noli Me Tangere"; "El Filibusterismo"; "International Law"; "Civil Code"; "Penal Code"; "Religion within the Reach of All"; "The Bible" (five volumes); "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo; and "The Wandering Jew" by Eugene Sue. Plus law books owned by Emilio Jacinto who was a law student, and medical books owned by Pio Valenzuela and novels by Alexandre Dumas the father and Alexandre Dumas the son.

Rack focus to reveal: Emilio Jacinto writing for the Kalayaan (Freedom).

Secret gatherings in secluded walkways, 3 to 5 Pilipinos laborers (manggagawa), holding copies of the Kalayaan.

In wooded areas, 6 or more Pilipino farmers (magsasaka at mga taga-bukid).

Silhouette shadows of Andres Bonifacio & Emilio Jacinto discussing and laying out strategies over a map for the content and distribution of Kalayaan.

Troadio Bonifacio and Francisco Castillo with Camilo Iban from Kapis (now Capiz) winning the loteria and buying the printing press.

In dark rooms or basements, copies of the Kalayaan are divided in batches for delivery. Dated January 1, 1896. (2 issues only, 1,000 copies & 2,000 copies)

The Supremo and his brothers Ciriaco and Procopio purchasing revolvers, bolos and the other weapons like bamboo spears…

The wealthy Messrs. Francisco and Valeriano del Castillo handing over supplies, seal & articles.

Emilio Jacinto, Aguedo del Rosario, and Alejandro Cipriano, and Marciano Santiago from Polo, Bulakan, working in the printing office, rushing the printing of the Kalayaan and the Kartilla, the rules of the Society and the aims of the Katipunan.

Katipunero Macario Sakay and other leaders study the distribution plan.

(Cast names to appear with Names of the Pilipino Heroes and Katipuneros...)

Chasing An Ultimate Dream

Almost as soon as I had found my voice in video and TV directing over ten years ago,
my Dream to write and direct a full-length feature film had surfaced.
Everything I have been doing since then whether for television or the live stage,
seems to be just a preparation ... no matter that the Dream remains distant, elusive in fact...

Will I die with it? As I have lived for it?
Why is it that important to me?
A sense of achievement? Or perhaps over-achievement?
A perennial need to communicate a message? Or, impart a value?
A soulful desire to leave behind a legacy?

Or, simply just to be able to live in my dream?

I seem to have looked everywhere and done everything for its cause...
(save for licking the hotshot producers' asses!)

But the Dream while appearing far and away from happening soon,
looms larger and closer than ever before.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Somewhere in the Palawan Isles

My carefree breathing felt heavier than the gentle breeze rustling amid the glistening leaves. Only the faint sound of a cricket probably calling out to its mate disturbed the silence of the moonlit evening, as the Palawan waters shimmered against the pitch black stillness of the horizon calm.

An occasional gush of the eastern winds whistled soothingly into the depth of the moment, no longer afraid as I was briefly of the solitude. The serene atmosphere smelled of burnt fern, reminiscent of the comforting cool of Baguio and temperate Tagaytay and yet, not quite the same as their feverish calling for company.

A single leaf would find itself cradled to the ground by every singular motion of a wind's whiff.
And over the distant shores, balls of light emit a subtle radiance that reminded me of life beyond this beautiful landscape of red earth.

The stars invisible as they are from this virgin island laden amid a gently sloping mountain range look down upon me, as I await the hour of my birth. I find respite in this personal space to be re-aligned with the cosmic energies, to be rejuvenated once more for a new stretch of life.

Another leaf, dried and lifeless had fallen with the suden gush of the gregarious wind. This time the eminent sound of its whistling lingering longer than the last time, and evoking an echo at its tail that wasn't there when I first noticed it.

I go back to an annual tradition of geting inside myself, taking stock of where I am and which way I am bringing myself to go next. Only now I have both more and less choices.

More perhaps because of the immense opportunities that go with lifelong experiences, and yet less because of the passage of time inevitably lost in the learning and coping with living a human life.