Friday, October 7, 2016


I promised myself that I will not blog about politics.  I do not think there is any remaining opinion, suggestion, assumption, foregone conclusion that has not been talked or written about.  There is no point in going there.

Every morning even before you start your day it feels like taking a heavy dosage of a downer by simply opening the papers and reading the front page.  I end up needing an anti-depressant to go with my coffee.  Even social media reeks of the stench and deafens the senses with the noise of politics, politics, politics.  You begin to wonder whether elected officials are there for endless investigations for the sake of legislation so that they devote more time interrogating, grandstanding and performing in front of the cameras to convince people that they are worth the taxpayers' monthly contributions. You also wonder whether they still have time to make laws rather than making sure that they get media coverage and leverage.

It is as if the career of lawmakers nowadays are founded on sound bites they can feed local and international media.  Not content with the kind of live tv coverage they get from mainstream television ... or all those flash reports that interrupt the highlights of Minute to Win It ... that they still have to mount these press conferences where they can exhibit their powers of elocution or some flavorful impersonation of our favorite Maalaala Mo Kaya monologues.


After a while it gets a bit too much.  Amidst all these brouhaha, you still spend more than two hours in traffic just to get to work.  You get to hear the rabid (I cannot emphasize that enough --- rabid) pronouncements of your friends about the state of the country after the first hundred days of the new dispensation.  You are constantly bombarded by all this negativity--- because nowadays if you do not belong to this camp, then you must belong to the other camp.  There is no such thing as dancing in the objective middle. No, you cannot be neither here nor there.

You either love the president and all of what he represents --- or you are a Yellowtard, wanting to bring back the glory days when Kris Aquino still had a tv show, believing that her family is the deserving equivalent of the Kennedys of the Philippines.  You cannot criticize Duterte without being branded as part of the Yellow Army: you cannot appreciate PNoy and his administration without being castigated as a Dutertard.

In all honesty, this has really reached the level of the sick and sickening.

I am not even going to talk about the President and his idiosyncrasies.  I will not even venture into the repercussions of his earthshaking statements which rock the world and becomes delicious fodder for media because ... everybody has an opinion about that. I am constantly shocked, sometimes frightened and often confused but I will leave my better judgment to tell me not to make pronouncements about things I do not completely understand. 

Instead, I look at what is happening to the country and the people ... and how we have become a nation so divided.  We are divided by our partisan loyalties as if this were a battle between them versus us.  It is all about SILA against TAYO.  People keep shouting at each other, hurling hasty even ruthless accusations against each other without taking time to think as to what went wrong before ... what has happened to bring us all to this here and now.

I tell myself (as I remind my students) that the timeline of history is designed by cause and effect.  Everything that is happening now is an effect of what has transpired before. People blame the sixteen million people who voted for Duterte, nudging them into taking the blame for his somewhat devil-may-care pronouncements that pass for foreign policy and international relations.  People accuse those who placed the Feisty Mayor from Davao of stupidity for putting him there --- but wait!  The bigger question is WHY?  

Why is a man like Duterte the kind of man sixteen million people would want as president?  What has happened to the country ... and the faith of the people to find a need for an astig who insists that he never wanted to be president but was brought by fate to the highest office in the land?  Why did the Filipinos entrust the next six years to a man who seems to be the exact anti-thesis of every politician who came before him --- in looks, in packaging, even in his way of speaking?

It is too simplistic of us to blame everything on this man. Remember that he would not be there if there were no overwhelming reasons for sixteen million people to want someone like him to be the Father of the Nation.  

Let us not oversimplify equations. This is not about the leader alone --- it is about understanding the people and knowing what they want and how despite all he has done for the past three months that the SWS Surveys show that he still has the high approval of the majority. It is about the bases of their choice and what were the past failures to want and approve of this kind of administration.

No, let us not play the blame game again.  That is really, really lame and evasive.  Rather, let us filter out the noise and start asking why things are as they are --- and what were the series of events and circumstances in the past to bring us here.  History is useless unless there is a sincere effort to analyze rather than to go make a privilege speech and criticize.  

Unless we really shut up a bit and start thinking instead of whining, complaining and grandstanding, then this will yet become another exercise in futility.  And what is really, really sad is that there seems to be truth in the observation that the Filipinos' greatest enemy is not a foreign conqueror or manipulator or abuser of his manpower and resources. It is his fellow Filipinos who cannot sit down, talk calmly and intelligently and plot out a true and lasting national vision for the future of his country.

That is why I prefer to do my work in the sanctuary of my classroom.

I still believe that the better future that awaits this country is in the next generations of Filipinos who shall choose to stay in this country and forfeit all the dreams of finding a better tomorrow as a naturalized citizen of a foreign land. It is by educating our kids to study what is happening and see our shortcoming that they can understand what a mess we have made during our time.

Maybe we will still be around when these kids become far better leaders than all of us and prove to us that we learned from our mistakes and became stronger and wiser from all that we have gone through.

Only then can this nation with all its seven thousand islands truly be one.  

Saturday, October 1, 2016


One does not watch a Lav Diaz film: one chooses to experience him.  Rather, to be part of an audience gathered to see a piece by Lavrente Diaz is to immerse in his film universe and not merely be a passive participant seeking for a narrative you can summarize in three very neat sentences.

Come to think of it, the cinema of Lav Diaz is seemingly and perhaps determinedly anti-narrative.  What he gives his audience is a series of black-and-white brushstrokes, beautifully conceived and designed images of a camera as an observer, immobile yet providing richness in the texture of details.  Oh, those long lingering static shots that can be uncomfortable and disturbing for those so trained with the quick-cuts, go-see-this sort of Bonamine inducing editing.  Instead his viewer is soaked, hopefully absorbed into the grandeur of his vision.

That is why Lav Diaz movies never work on small screens: he is a filmmaker as artist --- because you need the overwhelming larger than life image to bring you into his universe and not the minuscule interpretation.  The eeriness of his black-and-white images brings about a mystifying surrealism even to the most mundane whether they are details of trash strewn on the courtyard of Quiapo Church or the largeness of both sky and land in the pier of Mindoro.  He challenges you to sit there and be part of his world according to his terms: that means eight hours of Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis or God knows how many hours of Ebolusiyon.  Diaz, as a filmmaker, does not compromise: you either take him or avoid him.

Like Brilliante Mendoza, the other maverick Filipino director of international renown, you need to acquire or develop a certain mindset to appreciate the rules they are creating as well as the laws of cinema they are deliberately violating to reinterpret the art form all on their own.


Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left) is one of Lav Diaz' more audience-friendly films.  It runs close to four hours, about the same length of time as his other work, Norte. But what makes Humayo most celebrated is the fact that it is the Filipino film that has won the highest honor in one of the most respected international film festivals.  By bagging the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival, Diaz has duplicated what seemed like an impossible dream for Filipino filmmakers. In the same year, he won the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Filmfest for Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis  (Lullaby for the Sorrowful Mysteries) then outdoing himself with this Venice piece.

(And what a year this has been.  Brilliante Mendoza's Ma Rosa also catapulted the Filipino actor into a rightful place in the constellation of artists to be feted in a most revered film festival. Whereas Mendoza's victory as Best Director for Kinatay (Butchered) was a benchmark in Filipino film history, Jacklyn Jose's win as Best Actress in the Cannes International Film Festival was unprecedented.)

Finally Humayo has opened in Manila only after the international audiences saw this much-awaited piece weeks ahead. Yes, this may not be the kind of entertainment that those weaned into thinking that going to movies is to be titillated or tickled pink by the antics of young love teams, the urgency to see such pieces goes beyond being sophisticated or esoteric.  Yes, there will be those who will be intimidated by the fact that this is nearly four hours of black-and-white cinema screening --- or that there is no 1980's theme song to hook the viewer into a hummable moment.

Humayo is disturbingly quiet as it is haunting.  It is in the very heart of the loneliness of the characters portrayed that there is such silence ... and even eeriness.  Devoid of music (except for some unaccompanied sing-along moment between two lead actors), watching the film is like going into a vacuum --- where only the black and white photography (shot by Lav Diaz himself) becomes the center of the unfolding of what seems to be a story.

But it is not really a story: it is about Horacia (Charo Santos), a third grade teacher wrongly accused of murder and released from prison after thirty years.  Unquestionably, the entire three hours plus-plus of Humayo is about Horacia --- and her return to the outside world as she tries to reassemble all the shattered pieces of her life as well as plot her revenge against the man who framed her for murder (Michael de Mesa). Indeed, Humayo centers on the onscreen return of Charo Santos.  After years of absence from performing on the big screen, Santos mounts the comeback to end all comebacks.

Bluntly put, if you are going to return to acting in front of a camera to show what stuff you are made of despite years of absence, then it better be mind-boggling.  When ABS-CBN's M'am Charo returned, it was not even for a locally released production directed by any of the seasoned and celebrated directors of their movie arm (which she also heads, by the way). It had to be Lav Diaz --- and the invitation to Venice was the icing on the cake.

It was not only Horacia who returned but also Charo. The vulnerability of the character, enhanced by her love for writing and telling stories to her prison inmates and their children --- then later on to the derelicts of the streets of Calapan who she befriended --- added an aching charm to the portrayal.  That familiar voice heard every week in the drama anthology she hosts achieves a totally different dimension when we hear the stories she creates in her mind to encapsulate the pain and anguish of Horacia. It is these stories that Horacia writes that summarizes all the contradictory emotions in her being as she becomes the personification of a victim of injustice.

The kindness of heart of Horacia was what made her a magnet to all the marginal characters she encountered in her journey for revenge. The denizens of the night, the scumbags of the day --- all of them gravitate around Horacia as she shows them unimaginable (and nowadays, incredible) kindness that touches their heart.  There was the homeless and mentally deranged Mameng (Jean Judith Javier) who lived in the church premises, the hunchback balut vendor appropriately called Kuba (Nonie Buencamino) and the Hollanda (John Lloyd Cruz), an epileptic transvestite who stalked the side streets of the city consciously inviting death to come and get him so as to validate whatever is left of his useless life.,

All the characters are recipients of Horacia's kindness of heart --- while at the same time witnessing her darkest side.  Underneath the soft spoken and gentle woman willing to share, help and teach lurks a violent, revenge-seeking monster whose brazenness and strength came from thirty years of enduring and surviving her undeserved incarceration.  Santos' memorable performance was so enhanced and given much greater depth and brilliance because of the equally outstanding rendition of their roles of Javier, Buencamino and Cruz.

But perhaps one of the most exceptional moments of this film is that scene where Rodrigo Trinidad (Michael de Mesa), the man who destroyed the life of Horacia, attempts to look for a deeper meaning to God in a quiet and somewhat casual conversation with a priest.  The scene is short, static and calm but revealed a much greater understanding of villain seeking an explanation for his weaknesses --- counterpointing Horacia's fear of her own weaknesses overpowering reason.  De Mesa did not need too many scenes or too much dialogue to prove what caliber of an actor an original Eigenmann can show the audiences.

Ang Babaeng Humayo is a cause of celebration.  It may not be the kind of movie to please everyone but then it never made any claims of being just a movie. In the end, true to form, you leave the cinema disturbed and with so many questions. This is what distinguishes Humayo from what else is showing today in moviehouses. You go home thinking not only about what you have seen but about the moral dilemmas embodied by the characters and the greatness of the Filipino artist --- as director and as actors --- in the international arena.

That is why being intimidated by a Lav Diaz movie is not only a manifestation of cowardice: it is a loss of gaining a unique and beautifully Filipino experience.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


There are many good reasons to be happy ... despite what you read in the front pages of your newspapers or whatever news feed you get from Twitter.  

Despite what seems to be such a determinedly turbulent year finding Filipinos so willingly (and somewhat masochistically ) divided, Philippine Cinema scores points in proving that there can still be some good to come out of this country.  Over and above all the noise and chaos of politics, politicians and politicking ... and the cackling and crackling of all forms of journalism, Philippine cinema soars quietly proving once and for all that indeed we are a land of great art and artists.

Now if only the government can see and realize that.  But again that is another dilemma all together.  After reckoning with long hours of Metro Manila traffic ... or trying to bang your head against a wall trying to figure out why Filipinos are so determined to remain so fragmented, mercilessly divided by partisan opinions --- there are those among us who allow the greatness in their mind and spirit transcend the living hell of our politics.

Lav Diaz' victory at the recent Venice Film Festival will not improve the traffic situation. Such triumphs will not prevent Chinese aggression in the Scarborough Shoal ... nor would this placate the cacophony in the debates between the Yellowtards and Dutertards.  But here is one shining instance when a Filipino proved himself brilliant in the international arena, besting nations who have regarded cinema with almost sacramental value  and 
throwing forward a Third World artist and his uncompromising craft to be cited as best of the best.  

"Ang Babaeng Humayo" (The Woman Who Left) may not provide any immediate solution to the rampant drug problem plaguing the nation as exposed by this present administration. It will not shut up senators, put a pause to grandstanding personalities in politics --- or even press the mute button on internet trolls.  But the triumph of this film is significant.  It is very, very important to the Filipino.

It asserts the same importance as Jacklyn Jose winning the Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year for Brilliante Mendoza's Ma Rosa.  It confirms the earlier success of Lav Diaz for winning the Silver Bear at the Berlinale last February for Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis (Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mysteries) in challenging the audience to an eight hour film showing that had the chairman of the jury, Meryl Streep, claim that the film rearranged the molecules of her mind.

These success prove that the Filipino artist is a force to reckon with --- that they are important in the much larger scheme of things, over and above the irritating pettiness of local or even national politics.  In a country so divided and pained by the arrogance in opinions and the reign of vested interests and greed for power and money, filmmakers like Diaz and Mendoza are showing the world that we are made of far better stuff. 

True. The films of Diaz and Mendoza are not for everybody.  Well, yes again ... it will require a certain herculean effort to sit through eight hours of black-and-white retelling of history to fully grasp the ouvre of Lav Diaz.  And yes again, the handheld camera of Mendoza --- snaking through streets and dark alleys --- are so alien to the Filipino moviegoer who to this day is enthralled by the kind of films that made Rock Hudson and Doris Day household names in world entertainment.

If not for that niche market of film enthusiasts and students --- those who religiously seek for the little nooks and crannies where specialized works are shown --- then Diaz and Mendoza are just names recognized but whose works are not seen much less appreciated. That is the saddest irony of it all: it is the Europeans who celebrate the genius of these two filmmakers but they have yet to find their own larger audience from the country whose soul they capture in their films.

Yes, yes: it is all about education.  Call it even sophistication.  As the everyday moviegoer would say, "I will not pay the price of a movie ticket to be challenged to think. I just want to be entertained."  There is validity in that too. And this is not a phenomenon that exists only in this country.  Count all the superhero movies and their various permutations, reincarnations and franchise to realize that movies as thrill rides and social anesthesia are very much the norm of the day.  People would rather flock to see Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow rather than to see his portrayal of a denizen of the underworld in Black Mass.  The worldwide audience would prefer spending their money on Suicide Squad rather than a thought provoking controversial film like Spotlight.  

There is nothing wrong with that either.  Movies as entertainment is good because this provides happiness --- and much needed escape to so many.  But films are equally important too.  To give the likes of Mendoza and Diaz ... as well as upstarts like Eduardo Roy, Jr. or Derrick Cabrido or Lawrence Fajardo or Jun Lana and a whole lot of young Filipino filmmakers a chance to be seen by their countrymen should not be an exercise in futility ... but a national necessity.  This is all about acknowledging that there are Filipino cinematic artists who have captured the national soul which we tend to take so much for granted.

Call it wishful thinking but one hopes that there will come a time that a Lav Diaz or Brilliante Mendoza movie can capture even thirty percent of the people who will flock to watch an Aldub movie or the latest cinematic adventures of Kathniel and Jadine.  Contrary to some shallow belief, cinema is not snobbish. It is not elitist.  It is not prejudiced to those with alleged taste or a false sense of superiority in education.  What is needed is to give people the chance to learn to appreciate these works ... so that we, as a nation of movie lovers ... can also have the opportunity to be enthralled by films.

In the meantime, Filipinos have a very good reason to celebrate.  

If Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal opened the doors, Diaz and Mendoza broke the ceiling.  From hereon in, there is the distance between earth and heaven for the young Filipino filmmakers to conquer. That is more than good reason to celebrate being who we are as the people of a great nation.

Saturday, September 10, 2016


Let me make it clear from the start.

I did not join the first wave of Filipino audiences who were all too excited to rush to the nearest cinema where the Korean blockbuster TRAIN TO BUSAN was showing.  It was not an urgent need, a mind-boggling feverish imperative that I see the movie not like Suicide Squad (which ended being such a bummer anyway) or SUPERMAN VERSUS BATMAN (which was an even bigger bummer).

It was not that nadala na ako since FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS (although not exactly great and will not be used in the discussion of existentialism in cinema) was still quite a joy to watch even if some of my hypercritical friends believe it is a stupid and naive movie with nothing going for it except for the actors, especially Meryll Streep.  Eh, yon na nga, ano? There are other intelligent movies that have nothing going for it but the intelligence so let me enjoy my guilty pleasures of loving Meryl.

No, there was no guilty pleasure at all in TRAIN TO BUSAN because I hate zombie movies.

There. I have said it. I hate zombie movies.

Yeah, long ago in a galaxy far, far away there were movies like THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and THE EVIL DEAD which I found cheesy and shocking rather than scary.  

Maybe because I have a high standard for scary because I did not think THE EXORCIST was scary either. Just disgusting and shocking with a lot of green vomit and Linda Blair's head turning completely around like that of an abused doll.  Or all these so-called horror movies that are actually masters of editing and sound effects --- or special effects where in you are grossed out of your mind more than being scared out of your pants. Include the entire FRIDAY THE 13TH, HALLOWEEN, and SAW series.

In short, I will not go out of the house,  dress up and pay more than two hundred pesos so that I can be sick in the stomach and convince myself that I was entertained while being grossed out.

Honestly, I do not understand this millennial preoccupation for the supernatural --- specifically centering on vampires and zombies.

I was not enthralled by that whole TWILIGHT series maybe because throughout the franchise the leading lady looked like she was suffering from menstrual cramps: I don't know maybe that's just me.  Then there was Edward Cullen's acid-bleached Joker-like skin that looked like he overdosed on mainline glutathione to turn into a snow-white albino. Against this was Taylor Lautner's pug-nosed overgrown canine that was more of a study of being buffed than turning lupine.  I watched the first two of the film franchise and waited for the HBO screenings for the rest.  

Then there are the zombies.  

Who would not remember (and cherish) one of the first great music videos that featured Michael Jackson as a zombie?  O sige. That was charming despite the make-up of rotting bodies dancing in unison in what eventually turned out to be iconic choreography steps imitated, repeated and celebrated by dance tribes on TV.  Then there was the hip and funny ZOMBIELAND that you never take too seriously and best appreciated as tongue in cheek ... before Brad Pitt starred in WORLD WAR Z.  

And while all these movies are providing alternative entertainment to the conflagration of superhero projects, there was THE WALKING DEAD showing on TV and steadily holding onto its ratings.  As a matter of fact, that zombie TV show has already acquired a cult following as it has kept its loyal audience season after season. This was followed by other TV shows that featured zombies .... and, honestly, it has reached a point of "boresville."  

(I also remember a time in Filipino movies when there were so many zombies, some of which were included in the more popular Luciano B. Carlos movies ... and the really funny Jade Castro work ZOMBADINGS.  Remember that?)

I am not quite sure though if THE WALKING DEAD has the same audience share as ANG PROBINSIYANO but there is that market of Netflix and internet-addicted viewers who will swear their loyalty and can win any Trivial Pursuit questions regarding any of the characters and events in that show.  But as for me, uhm, stilk not interested.

I cannot understand the poetic justice in people eating people.  It is like a really warped interpretation of the Streisand song about people needing people as being the luckiest.  And I am not a fan of rotting skin prosthetic magic that is best appreciated during Halloween.  If this is still an extension of the millennial fascination for dystopia, apocalyptic scenarios and immortality, then I am not in that market.

So that is why I found it all so odd that:

(a) A Korean subtitled movie about a train ride to Busan with zombies in the next coach should warrant so much attention.
(b) An Asian movie with no big star recognizable --- not even in the K-Pop Universe for that matter should draw in the audience and
(c) A movie that took off with a modest start at the box office should pick up strength even until its second weekend.

Even if my nephews were cajoling me to watch it with them on the first weekend run, I dilly-dallied and eventually gave in to my sloth mode by having a marathon screening of the second season of the Netflix TV series PENNY DREADFUL which is pretty gross at certain points as well.  

But the momentum of TRAIN TO BUSAN never ceased.  

Everyone was talking and raving about it --- with some saying that THE WALKING DEAD could learn a lesson or two from it --- so I decided to finally watch it by myself.  Yes, by myself.

When I posted my plans in my Twitter account, somebody sent me an alarming private message that went, "Please don't watch it alone."  Now that bothered me, triggering the fear that the movie is so engaging that at a certain point the person seated next to me will discard his bucket of popcorn and go for my neck.  Then again I imagine that this sort of message could have only come from a diehard fan who has not been fully debriefed after his experience with zombies who now opt for living human flesh rather than kimchi.

And so I watched.  And at the end of more than one hundred minutes of Korean entertainment, I finally understood what the brouhaha was all about.

Ah, OK, I said to myself.  The unabated success of this Korean thrill ride can be attributed to so many factors which Filipino producers can learn from in order to finally evolve from this seeming terminal preoccupation for rom-coms, love teams and more-of-the-same.  

TRAIN TO BUSAN literally has everything you can imagine in a commercial movie.  

Not only does this movie prove (as another friend pointed out) that telecommunication system in Korea is close to invincible ( kasi even as entire cities are being infected by flesh-chomping, gurgling and indecently salivating zombies, their cell phones are still working! Wala pang dead spots, ha?) but even their train systems work with utmost precision.  Maybe our local phone companies and the operators of our railways can also pick up a lesson or two from this movie. 

In this country, you do not need zombies to screw up the trains or the phones --- it has become part of everyday life. But then enough of that.

If there is anything Filipino producers should learn about this movie, then take it from the same people who gave you Sandara Park as an international star and fed you K-Pop and Korean telenovelas as part of your daily TV menu.  So here goes:

(1) It is all about the story.  No, that stands corrected. Put all the ingredients in there to create a narrative stew more delicious than bulgogi.  You may be dealing with a story about the living dead, but it is still the living heroes who the audience must latch onto. And if you are having problems about your demographics ... then put all the stories in there to cater to the entire spectrum of your projected audience. It is like bachoy meets bulgogi.

(2) It is all about the characters. The focus is about this really busy dysfunctional father blessed with a precocious daughter who has a talent for meeting all the right people at all the wrong times and whimpering in between.  With cold and confused Dad delivering cute and vulnerable daughter to her mother in Busan --- also add the subplot of an equally emotionally fragile grandmother who they left behind and eventually turned nightwalker only after she professed how much she loved everybody on the planet earth on the phone.

If that is not enough, also throw in beautiful and frail pregnant woman with a bear of a husband.  Mommy-to-be (in her most vulnerable state) can only bring out the hero in this boor of a giant who can beat the rotting flesh out of any zombie by mere power of his biceps.  And if this love story is not enough, throw in some kids who look like they stepped out of a Korean telenovela, garbed in their varsity uniforms with a single cheerleader girl who becomes the object of young love affection of an awkward geek who bumbles and stumbles in trying to express his admiration for Miss Pep Squad.  But wait ... there is more.

Why don't we throw in two old women who are perhaps the weakest and most helpless ... as well as the head of the train attendants who is such a gullible bozo and the train conductor who is out there to save everybody by making sure the train got to Busan.

With a coterie of characters such as these, you have covered literally all of the market ... including the audiences watching in the next two cinemas beside the one where TRAIN TO BUSAN is showing.

(3) It is about the villain.  Come to think of it, the villains are not the zombies because they were mere victims of infection, brought about by the carelessness (and greed) of some biochemical company where Daddy-of-whimpering-child works as a wheeler-dealer. The really bad guy is this rich businessman who buys his way through everything and does not even have the decency (humility not considered) to stop foisting his influence and wealth.  But then again, as another fan of the movie said, ang ganda-ganda kasi may redeeming value pati yung villain. Maiiyak ka kasi in the end you will say, "Ah, kaya naman pala ..." and gain almost universal wisdom about knowing the source of his evil.

Oh, yeah --- in the end, the villain redeemed himself not by being a hero but by verbalizing that he ain't that bad really.  He was just scared and wanted to go home. Ah, OK. Nakakaiyak rin naman pala ... which also leads to another great lesson.

(4) It is all about the heart. Grabe this movie talaga, ha? You are clutching your heart because of the non-stop suspense of all these zombies doing very zombie things --- but you also hold onto your chest because of all the heart-tugging moments, those stories as each of the characters from Daddy and daughter, Bear and Soon-to-be-Mommy ... and even those frisky kids who are so cute and kilig worthy trying to survive yet another zombie apocalypse.  

The important thing here is something we Filipinos know right from our living rooms.  It is about engaging your audiences with stories --- regardless of how sappy, how corny, how overdone and overcooked --- to be able to hold into their interest. 

This is the stuff that all the telenovelas fed to us --- with some of the best ones from our Asian neighbors --- like Korea.  In other words, the very nerve of this movie is something already familiar with Filipinos because we are exposed and perhaps also infected by the Korean sensibility in entertainment.  We also have become zombies to this kind of pagpapasaya.

And finally ...

(5) It is about giving the audience their money's worth.  Susmaryosep! I told myself. Walang katapusan ang pelikulang ito! Layers and layers and layers of events are thrown right the audience as the zombies and the humans try to outrun and outwit each other only to be confronted by enough twists and turns to make a movie out of a Rubik's cube. Just when you thought they have finally put out the landing gear, the movie goes up again for another series of suspenseful events until practically everyone is annihilated.

But then that is what you call sulit na sulit as far as the two hundred pesos or more you paid for your movie ticket. It is only three minutes before the closing credits that you get to breathe freely and realize that finally the movie has ended --- only after another minute or so of suspense.

You are only sure that the movie has ended because the little girl is singing. But when you have reached that point, you are also so numbed by what you've gone through that you cannot even react to the cheesiness of the conclusion.  You are marinated as well as drained by determined and relentless entertaining. You just wish that beyond that tunnel lies Busan.

So what can Filipino producers learn from this? Oh, a lot.  Maybe the next time they do a horror movie, they should not rely on the marvels of computer generated images or the same-same sort of plot.  Maybe they should realize that the marquee value of big stars' names may create branding --- but even that is not enough to sustain a movie if the material sucks or has been seen before, done to death and merely repackaged to look new. Maybe producers can learn that if Korea can now create a big box office hit in mainstream cinema outside their shores, maybe we could do so as well ... and you really do not need big stars from here to impress the audiences out there.

A heartbreaking horror movie about Korean zombies has generated so much interest and money out here.  Filipino producers should really consider making a manananggal love story with so much kilig and pain perhaps with a beautiful montage of the visceral monster carrying the man she loves while singing I Believe I Can Fly or maybe Two Less Lonely People in the World for that utmost Pinoy commercial stuff.

Now that is really so much possibilities of life from a movie about the living dead.
Di ba?

Saturday, August 27, 2016


I have made a resolution even way before that circus of a national elections last May.  

I will not talk about politics.  I refuse to discuss political issues (not that I have no opinion nor am I unaware of what is happening).  I am not going to take all these friends and strangers who have become diehard zealots of partisan causes seriously.  Otherwise I might as well talk to God and confess that I have trimmed down my Christmas list by a substantial 70% even before December.  And, more important, I cannot stomach the thought that I people I know (or assumed) to be reasonable and intelligent have become online banshees or textbook nincompoops.

So I shall assume the stand often said and repeated but really hard to practice: "Less talk, less mistakes."  Realizing the near impossibility of keeping my mouth shut (attested by a weeklong bout with pharyngitis that made me sound like Kim Carnes singing Bette Davis Eyes), I have learned to bite my lower lips or clenched fist, look away and count one to one hundred whenever I am compelled to express my opinion.

I have also come to the following conclusions and resolutions which I shall lovingly share with anyone out there who is also so sick and tired of blindsided political discussions all branded under the title Neo-Nationalists.

These conclusions, resolutions, observations and ruminations were never meant to be Bible truth, mind you.  They serve as reasons why I have decided to shut up every time I have a compulsion to throw in my ten cents worth ... or better yet, execute a very graceful flying kick aimed right at the mouth of somebody who is fanatically yelping like a mad Pomeranian to show the world how much wiser he or she is about determining the fate of this nation.

(1) It is useless to argue with someone who has decided to hate any individual or party in a political landscape.  If someone out there has decided that Yellow is not the color of liver ailment but the shade of his soul ... or that the vigilant mayor from Davao City can do no wrong, then leave him be.  You do not engage someone like that into a verbal battle --- even on the level of argumentative volleyball. You cannot win? Why? Because he will never admit defeat.  He can either slap your face silly with volumes of statistics about how his choice of loyalty is the only sane choice ... or he can wear you down with pedantic discussions ranging from the sacrifices of Ninoy ... all the way to the success of the Queen of All Media.  Or he can talk about how great Davao City has become ... cleansed of criminal elements because of the iron fists of the Clint Eastwood Mayor or how he is the only hope for this country that has developed a new national sport called Riding in Tandem.

O siya, siya.  Whenever you come across an AFP (not Armed Forces of the Philippines but Alagad ng Fanatikong Pilipino), you have three options.  A) You simply shut up and sing your favorite song quietly in your mind thereby allowing peace to rule the planet. B) You challenge said Verbal Warrior into a Joust to the Finish that shall certainly have no end except in civility and possibly friendship or C) You walk away armed with an excuse like having something better to do --- which, on accounts, is really better to do.

Moral Lesson of the Story: If you cannot talk reason with someone, then chances are it is easier to have a conversation with a mouth frothing rabid dog than to use the laws of logic on a fanatic. Absolutely useless. Aksaya lang ng panahon.

When somebody decides to hate some body, then rest assured nothing that the object of hatred has done, is doing or capable of doing will earn credit in the eyes of a fanatic. There will always be something wrong and it is bound to be fatal, even apocalyptic. 

There is no such thing as being fair or just for a diehard--- except the total annihilation of the political antagonist who now comes close to the description if not the very identity of the Anti-Christ.

Why? It is no longer the matter of principle that he is fighting for that will make him stand firm to the very end, refusing to budge or listen to arguments. It is simply his or her ego --- the whole pride bit that refuses to bend --- so much so that he mistakes his arrogance (and even megalomania) to being nationalistic.

For how can somebody truly believe in the beauty of democracy when his reply to an argument or analysis to an issue is an insulting tweet or a creatively malicious shoutout on Facebook? Grow up. Such a waste of your alleged college education.

(2) Everyone has an opinion: it is not a matter of being right or wrong but it is his right to have that opinion.  So leave it be.  An opinion is an opinion. It is a stand. Having no opinion is also a stand. It could be ignorant bliss or simply a refusal to indulge.  There are those who will insist that having no opinion is really, really bad because that is being negligent if not flippant, uncaring, apathetic to the condition of the nation.

Ah talaga? Oh, really now?

For those diehard Neo-Nationalist who must sputter every rant and rave in the internet or any opportunity to stand on a soapbox and announce to the world what they think or feel ... let it be so. That is your right.  

Hindi ba it is often said that democracy is the beautifully blended chorus of opinions and observations that produce the melody of freedom. Ang gandaaaa!  But there is also that great risk that the sound of dissenting opinions, the thunder of argumentation and discussion can produce cacophony especially when everybody has forgotten the whole point of achieving harmony.

Recently Meryl Streep portrayed the world-renowned (for all the wrong reasons) soprano Florence Jenkins Foster.  Her singing reminds me of the tsunami of discussions, the mudslinging and the name-calling that debases intelligent argumentation ... but still accepted as a norm for exchange of ideas.

So I told myself: spare me.  I am not going to torture myself listening to all these opinions since two people talking at each other is so completely different from the same two persons talking with one another.

Nothing intelligent can come out of two people suffering from verbal diarrhea  without listening to each other --- but even that is their right in a democratic space.  

Kaya bahala na kayo sa buhay nyo, Dudes. It is your right to talk your heads off until your teeth fall out.  And when you are truly ready for the showdown, paki-text na lang.  We will provide you with two Pokemons of equal strength and power so that you can truly test how great you are in the next virtual gym.

(3) You do not take things personally when it comes to politics.  After all, it is politics ... and just that: politics.  How many relationships have been ruined by diverse or opposing political views? Oh, quite a number, I can assure you --- a very big number.

I will be the first to admit that I have lost ton loads of respect (even fondness) for certain people not because of their political positioning (which, as I said, is their right, their choice, their democratic privilege) but by the way they flaunt their opinions, shove their choices down your throat and make you feel like you are a notch beneath cretin if you do not agree with their preferences.

Please take note: no group --- partisan, political, religious or whatever has complete exclusive rights to correctness and righteousness.  Everybody is entitled to his idea of what is good but there is such a thing as common good --- and that is what we all aspire for.  So if you cannot see any other point of view aside from yours and insist that you are the only one on that sparkling path of correctness, I greatly suggest that you go see a doctor immediately. Yours is not nobility of spirit but merely the manifestations of a very bad childhood.

Uh, OK. I admire people's varied convictions but the fact that you do not give space for others to think in a manner diametrically opposite to the way that you do does not mean you are better, right?  Definitely not smarter. Just more bigoted.

To bring the discussion to the level of the personal and to question the intelligence and sanity of anybody who is not in agreement with your choices do not really speak very well of you ... as well as your ilk.  Somehow this sort of mob rule thinking discredits not only the fan turned fanatic --- but whoever or whatever it is that they want to promote or idolize.

The moment discussions reach the level of the personal, then something is wrong.

I have always felt that we can agree to disagree and still keep our friendship ... more so our civility.  We can argue until the sun rises on our behinds but still stay focused on the subject matter or the issue and never diminish the level of discussion to our relationship as two intelligent human beings who have decided to disagree. In other words, any intelligent discussion requires humility or even that oh-so-difficult discernment in admitting when one is wrong and the other party is right. I also heard it is called maturity.

That is why since around March this year (when the election issues reached their greatest heights) that I have decided to unfollow more than a handful of my Facebook friends.

I have unfriended more than a dozen and blocked a very chosen few.  Why? Because their mindless, fanatic chattering (whether congruent to what I believe in .. or in direct contradiction to my choices) is not the sort of thing I would like to find posted on my wall. 

I did not join social media --- nor took active part in it --- to test the limits of my patience. Or see friends make fools of themselves with Mother Statements or lure endless bashing from available schools of thought. 

Friendship or a cordial relationship is far more important than a discussion involving politics ... well, not unless the other party is a paid troll.  This leads me to the next point.

(4) It is not about who speaks the loudest but who makes sense.

There is a theory that when something is repeated over and over again --- it becomes real.  It may not be the truth but in the minds of many, it is real.

Keep saying the same thing relentlessly and people will believe ... then accept, regardless of how far-fetched and out of sync this may be from reality.

That is why in the crowded space of social media people literally shove and step on each other to get the mileage and space and patronage necessary to have clout.  Nowadays it is not enough that you are there but your presence in all available platforms --- mainstream, alternative, new media --- these have all become necessities in order to assert not only presence but more so significance.

Some people have made a career promoting and/or destroying people, products and issues in the internet because that is a natural part of the evolution of information technology.

That is why there are professional trolls.  

An article from a leading Philippine daily points out to this recent phenomenon ( and this very well explains the movements of opinions and shapers in creating the greatest sphere of influence.  It is no longer a matter of what you want to say ... but how you say it and who speaks the loudest. Through this pandemonium of sound bytes and wannabe personalities that you can decipher some semblance of sense --- some glimpse of truth --- muddled by all the drumbeating and the desire to be noticed in order to be first heard.

All these lead me to the final conclusion.

(5) You don't have to join the dance club just to be able to dance.

That is why I choose to avoid political discussions.  Again when asked why I have five good reasons: (a) Nakakasawa   (b) Nakakapagod  (c) Nakakairita   (d) Nakakabobo and lastly (e) Nakakagulo.  

Yes, we all have our opinions. We all have our prejudices as well. That's inevitable. Not good but inevitable. Because we are human ... and we have our imperfections which make us human.

But social media has changed all this together with mainstream media: biases, pre-conceived notions and the perpetuation of misguided opinions have made the search for truth all the more difficult with its various interpretations and misrepresentations.

What is important is to think --- and it is possible to think quietly.  What is even more important is to have a stand --- and do something about it --- not merely talk, make shoutouts ... even blogs --- but to work on what you believe in.

Yes, it is #nopolitics for me as I intend to lead a peaceful, meaningful and constructive life --- not one warranting public attention (or opinion) for all the wrong reasons. After all, I can be a good, responsible, thinking and working citizen without messing my feet in cesspool of politics. I must simply choose to be aware of the issue --- think --- and work on what I do best to make even a dent in bringing a better tomorrow.

I do not need to run for public office or bang my drums too loudly just to be noticed. Or heard. I just have to do what I am supposed to do ... and that is to work. Work hard at what I do best and make sure that there is a better future for our kids and their kids.  It is all right to discuss politics but that is not the be all and end all of calling yourself as a flag-waving, country-loving Pinoy.  It is by fulfilling your role in society that you gain value of whatever magnitude or significance.

That is being a useful citizen of the Republic.


When Mommy's Little Man and Daddy's Baby Girl grow up to be ... well, just a boy on the eve of becoming a man or a girl learning to be a woman, that whole equation about the parent-child relationship seems to change drastically.

A friend of mine (incidentally single because of chosen alternative lifestyle) once said that children are adorable for seven minutes and when they are below the age of one and a half.  

I did not quite understand (nor believe in) him until he started enumerating all the changes that happen when the little darling starts to grow up to become that incorrigible brat.  

"Kids are best when they are babies because they are helpless.  They look at you and flash their oh-so-cute smiles, the blabber nonsense and even spill their spit on you. But you can forgive all that because they are angels who fell from the heavens straight to your arms. You can talk to them in jibberish and they will turn on their charms ... then pee on you, shit on you and even barf their barf on you and still think it is all so damn cute."

I looked at my friend with a very polite smile and decided that his cynicism and bitterness should be the best reasons why he will live miserably for the rest of his life.  How can anyone not love babies? There must be some terrible childhood experience somewhere in that personal history to warrant such contempt.

"Well, that's because you're not a parent," he said.  The moment that infant learns how to walk ... the first thing he will do is to walk away from you. He will only walk back when he needs something. 

And I told my friend that he reeks of venom.

I told him that his was the kind of attitude that is punished by God with a very long life alone.   Then he said something that really made a lot of sense: "Children are never meant to remain helpless all their lives.  The moment a parent maims his kid by keeping him or her dependent on them, then he is not a good parent. He is just another selfish s.o.b. who considers his child as a possession ... or worse, an investment."

I really could not argue with him regarding that.  As much as it hurts to admit, there was a grain of truth in those statements.

I tacitly agreed.  As I have written before, children are meant to grow strong on their own ... and even stronger through the lessons learned by their mistakes.  Miscalculations, wrong decisions and even disastrous missteps are necessary in the process of development for there is not one human being who was built to be immune to vulnerabilities more so the harvest of a lifetime of errors. 

As much as they would want to do so, parents cannot insulate their children from pain. As much as they would hate to admit it as well --- pain is necessary to give character and strength.  A life shielded from battles and an ignorance about pain leave the child weakest, useless and incapable of having a life of his own.

Parents can only do so much to guide, teach and explain to their children all these twists and turns in life.  Parents hold their children's hands and warn about the demons that lurk in the great unknown. But they cannot and can never guarantee the future of their kids even if they left them an inheritance tantamount to the entire GNP of some insignificant country between the continents.

Being a provider is not enough.  Being a vigilante protecting your child from all the ills of the world --- real or imagined --- is mission impossible.  There is no way any parent can totally control a child and claim that this is done out of love: that is very much like the maternal instinct of the Witch in raising Rapunzel high up in her tower. One day the child will and can escape: when they do so, they will leave greater pain.

The greatest and perhaps the most noble responsibility of a parent --- is the willingness and the acceptance to let go of their children.

Moreover parents can only guard their children to a certain extent.

"Tell me. Who knew you better? Your friends or your parents?" my friend reminded me. "We are different people to different people as well.  The child they think they know is not exactly the person that others see ... feel and experience."

Again so true.  And perhaps to a certain degree my friend is correct.  Sometimes our parents are absolutely clueless about who we truly are and what we are going through in those most difficult formative years. Some parents never cease to see their children as innocents, as kids who know nothing ... and children often pretend that they are so just to keep their parents either happy or at arm's length.

That is why my friend said that the moment the child can learn to walk away ... he can therefore he will.  A child will never be happy entrapped by his parents even under whatever synonym there might be for the word love.  "Kids want to be free.  You either teach them to fly ... or you chain them and they will still fly away, maimed with weak wings. Parents must open the doors for their children to know that they are free."

The moment they demand to grow up ... the moment they cease to accept that what you say is an absolute law, then there is a completely different way of dealing with your offspring.  

Gone are the days when you can hold your child by the collar and say, "I don't give a damn about what you think or what you feel because it is still my house and therefore my rules. I am your parent, I feed you ... I answer all your needs, so you follow me."  There are so many fallacies in that argument, so many wrong assumptions that being a parent gives you the blanket authority to demand anything from your child.

After all, a child did not choose to be born. 

You were making whoopee which was why some egg was fertilized by the fastest swimmer.  In reality, they do not owe their lives to you because you gave it to them not with their consent but because of your needs --- whether social or biological.  And in everything that you ask them to do ... it is best that they know why they are being made to do so, the reason behind the restrictions ... and the parameters of their freedom.

There is a substantial difference between discipline and totalitarianism. Education and brainwashing are two different organisms all together.

A child best learns when he knows why he is being made to behave in a certain manner, believe in particular ideologies or even accept certain things his parents request him to embrace.  He cannot do things without rationale or at least a chance at an explanation. If ever he does so, he will do it only when the parent is looking or when it is convenient but it will never be a part of his system.

"But that's the way I was raised by my parents," someone would argue.   Yes, that is true.  There is a tendency to repeat the same pattern of parenting despite how the children reacted to the way they were raised.  That is because that is the only way they know how to raise their own kids. Either that or they have such vehement (if not violent reactions) to the kind of environment they grew up in so much so that with great resolve they refuse to be like their parents.

"When I become a parent, I will be better because I will NOT become my father or my mother." 

Take statements like that at face value because for some reason or another --- blame it on genetics or simply the naturalist's insistence --- heredity and environment mean everything. No amount of resolve or even trauma can veer you away from becoming where you came from.  In one's later years, whether one is single or has chosen a partner in life, the self-discovery is consistent: we all end up being like our parents.  

We may have been irritated or completely vexed by the way they behaved and certain habits they owned but somewhere along the journey we still end up to be like them.

That is why I need some clarification about the way some parents perpetually blame themselves for everything that happens to their children.

I hear woes and wails of friends narrating their personal tragedies because their children have become disappointments.

There is that father who feels wrecked because his son chose to be a musician "in a rock band" and defied his wishes to take up a career that could (more or less) guarantee a secure future.  Although it has been what?  Four or five years already?  His son's career has not exactly challenged the luster of Bamboo Manalac or Rico Blanco.  As a matter of fact, even he gets a headache each time he hears his son indulge in the music that he wants to play.

Then there is that mother who endlessly bemoaned the fate of her son: she blames it entirely on that slut who actually maneuvered her son's destiny by seducing him and then eventually getting pregnant thereby ruining his future.

"He could have been a successful lawyer but look at what happened?"  Although through her insistence the boy never married the girl he fertilized, there was still the responsibility of becoming a father (because she did not want people to think that her boy reneged on his obligations to be a family man).  It did not matter that her son already had a notoriety of having great difficulty of keeping his zipper closed whenever a member of the opposite sex catches his fancy.  It did not matter that, on all accounts, her son could never be a lawyer because his mental capacity did not seem to permit that.

Parents have built-in illusions about their children: they are sometimes the last to confront that painful reality that there are times only they could see their children the way that they do.

And there is that terrible resignation of parents whispering (with matching tears): "I do not know my child any more."

To play fair maybe I should ask any parent who mumbles this with the hope of earning national sympathy, "Did you ever know your kid?"

That's why I marvel at parents who do not act as parents but as authoritative friends.

That is why I find it sick or sickening when parents shamelessly and determinedly BLAME themselves for every misfortune or misbehavior their kids exhibit in a lifetime.  Reality check is in order here: children are their own people.  Parents should not imbibe a megalomaniac credit that every bad and good deed accomplished by the child should be credited (or discredited) to Mama and Papa.

There will always be kids with the best of upbringing who will still grow up to be major assholes ... in the same manner that there will be children who will go through the eye of the needle, suffer unimaginable tests and maybe ... just may be have contemptible parents but who will turn out to be such great and wonderful specimens of the human race.  Although genes do play a major role, it is still about how you handle the raw materials that turns them into duds or masterpieces.

It is all about the parent being there and being a friend above everything else that matters. It is a joy to savor the success of your child --- but then it is a fallacy to believe that their failure can be solely attributed to their parents' mismanagement or miscalculation.  Not everything about the kid has the parent to blame.

Children have their own minds.  Although they came from the womb of their mothers, they are still individuals who will make their own decisions regardless of influence or even terrorizing of authorities.

Believe it or not, destiny plays the cards ... and the decisions made by the kids as individuals  are all their own.  Or even perhaps they can refer to the memories (now lessons) provided by the parents to teach the child how to maneuver himself in a world that has turned completely gray.

There will always be a part of each parent in the lives of the children.  But despite how much a parent wants his child to be happy and complete, it is still the son or the daughter who will define his or her happiness --- and often, the parents have got nothing to do with it.  There is no decent and responsible parents who wishes nothing less but the best for their children --- but is the child again who determines what is best for him because it is after all ... his life and his journey that he must remain a captain.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


There are advantages as well as disadvantages in being childless.

The disadvantages are quite obvious. 

I can almost hear the voice of a very concerned tita whining, "But who is going to continue the family name?"  Or worse: "Sayang naman your genes."  

I almost feel that it is through the unused power of my reproduction that the lineage of the Baratheons and the Lannisters are at stake. Somehow you feel that your failure to produce an heir apparent to carry the torch has somewhat contributed to the eventual extinction of the human race. Or a deterioration of its quality.  

Let us leave that to the homo sapiens with a predilection for ceaseless multiplication of their species. They will easily make up for my ... incompetence or lack of cooperation.

But there are definite advantages to not contributing to the world's growing overpopulation --- especially in these parts.  

Aside from the fact that you need not worry about sleepless nights adjusting to your baby's feeding needs or changing diapers or that you do not have to work yourself to death to insure that you have a good college plan for your offspring, being childless seems to offer much less stress and worry about the volatile nature of the future.

You don't need to stay up late at night waiting for your post-pubescent child to come home from a night out with his barkada.  You do not have to monitor your cell phone to know the whereabouts of your daughter because she is late by ten minutes from her appointed curfew.  You do not have to worry about who she/he is chatting/interacting with in the internet. You do not have to sniffing around if he/she is secretly smoking filter (or worse filter-less) cigarettes in the privacy of bathrooms or taking gulps of hard drinks when your back is turned or under the pretense that his/her drink of choice is pineapple juice.

Worse, you do not have to work even extra harder to be able to afford his/her cellphone expenses, the upgrading of his/her laptop for school ... or even the rising prices of his/her favorite brand of clothes in the nearest mall.  Truth is that you don't want your kid to look kawawa in the company of his/her peers, right? 

What makes the child-less life even more interesting is the objectivity you can practice while observing or even reacting to the colorful lives of your peers-turned-parents.  

For indeed, if there is some great mystery that changes men and women the moment they succeed in creating their own little bundle of joy, then let that be so.  

The history of mankind seems to affirm this great sense of self-fulfillment the moment man plus woman equals child.  But together with this great miracle of life comes another turnaround when suddenly their own existence and even character are changed forever.

That is why for those either determinedly or unfortunately child-less (like me), the shifts in personality that happen to the progenitors of mankind are somewhat completely alien. It takes a little bit of time and a lot of understanding to see why your friends suddenly turn into completely different people the moment they become Mamas and Papas. 

"Oh, you will never understand  what we are going through because you are not a parent," they would say.  "All the pain I went through suddenly disappeared the moment I held my baby." Well, yes ... I have heard that too. "Suddenly my life has a new meaning when I had my kid." You mean that didn't happen when you got married or met the other responsible party for the assembly of your anak?

"It was not my partner but my child who completed me." Ah, talaga?  

Once I asked a number of my friends this trick question: "Assuming you were in a situation and you can only save one person ... who would it be? Your partner or your child?" The unanimous choice was the child, of course.  And the presumably soon-to-be-dead-partner accepted his/her fate with happy resignation.

"You will never understand that because ..." OK. Oo na. oo na!

I get the picture.  Since I am not a parent who has to cut short of my sleep to prepare the milk formula of my infant --- or worse, breastfeed the screaming kid in the crib, I will never understand the value of parental sacrifice even way after the child is born. 

I have seen too many of my friends literally lose weight, grow panda bear rings around their eyes and age about ten years in a span of three months when their first born enter their lives.

You only hope that in the future these kids will treasure all the sacrifice that their parents had to go through ( and continue to experience ) just to be able to give them not only their needs but also their wants.  And more often than not, as they grow older, children's wants exceed more than their needs.  Parents, in turn, are pressured to comply with all these growing requirements if they care to be considered decent providers.

For there are three kinds of parents:  those who take their duties far too seriously, those who casually and guiltlessly entrust their responsibilities to others --- and those who should have been spayed, their ovaries and testicles cauterized or turned into eunuchs because they have absolutely no right to reproduce.

Those who take their parenthood much too seriously usually ended up nervous wrecks with children who are even more warped basket cases.  They call themselves disciplinarians whereas the truth of the matter is that they are obsessed.  Either that or they are so afraid that their kids will pay for all the karma due them because of their not-so-ideal past.

Oh, I do have friends who will stop at nothing but shove the photos of their kids to my face endlessly cooing, gushing or even lubricating at the mere thought that the Universe has gifted them with the World's Most Adorable Children.  

Naturalmente, babies are cute.  They are even cuter when you do not have to take care of them.  They make goo-goo eyes,  flash toothless smiles so much so that you want to squeeze them like your favorite stuffed toy overflowing with the toxins of charm.  However, the moment they start screaming or walking around toppling things, touching dirty objects then popping their fingers into their mouths, the cuteness immediately disappears --- and you throw them back to the arms of their parents.

There are certain parents who literally so proud of their kids and who have made them the very center of their existence.  They shamelessly dominate every conversation about the latest high in the cute index achieved achieved by Junior.  They talk about their little bugger as if all the other kids in the world look like oompa loompas. 

As a polite and civilized friend, I (and the rest of us who were taught good manners and right conduct --- even when put through a stress test) would listen with rehearsed smiles and the occasional bobbing of the head in agreement ("Uh-huh", "Awwww ...." or the pretentious "Wow naman!") as if we were actually enjoying a parade of photographs kept and treasured in cell phones, photo albums --- and God forbid, AV presentations showing the evolution of their from middle class larvae to young adult with an IPhone 6.

I mean just how long can you endure a video on a smart phone showing a some kid reciting O Captain, My Captain like he were running for councilor or doing the Moonwalk on an ice cube impersonating a very dead Michael Jackson?  

Or just how many more monologues can your ears tolerate listening to a proud Mommy talk about how absolute brilliant her son has become not to mention how he so closely resembles Enrique Gil. Or have you chanced upon that Daddy who makes yabang about how his daughter will eventually become the next Filipina Miss Universe.  Truth be told, said young man does not/cannot/ will never resemble aforementioned matinee in any manner whatsoever (not unless one is under the influence of highly prohibited hallucinatory drugs) or that the so-called future international beauty queen can only achieve the stature of Ms. Wurtzbach not even through the science of Vicky Belo but via the miracle of reincarnation.

But that is a parental privilege.  Mommies and Daddies will see what they want to see even if the whole world sees something (or somebody) completely different ... which is the truth.

Oh, have you also met the parents who decide to take the lives of their children in their own hands?

Let it be known that there is a major difference between being "hands-on" as a parent from handcuffing your children.

How I just hate listening to parents proudly announcing how they are monitoring if not controlling their children's lives.  "He is going to be a doctor like his father and his siblings ... there is no argument about that."  Or "He wants to take up culinary arts but I told him to take up nursing." 

I agree that parents want the best for their kids ... but, hey listen: their lives still belong to them ... and they are not, I repeat, THEY ARE NOT YOUR PERSONAL PROPERTIES.

"Will you give your kid a break?" I would tell some concerned mother who is so afraid that her son will be seduced by some nymphomaniac colegiala who has been stalking her child with text messages and phone calls.  "Ang lalandi talaga ng mga babaeng yan," she complained. I could not remind her that she never finished college because she got pregnant at the age of sixteen. Karma, baby, karma. 

"Treat your kid like an adult and don't insult him by babying to the point of retardation." Chances are you will hear the familiar reply, "You are only saying that because you are not a parent. You don't know how it is to ..." blah-blah-blah. How is it best to tell a parent that a kid needs to make mistakes.  Success is good but failure is a better teacher. And (as I am going to discuss in the second part of my thesis on other children) no parent can completely and fully know what their kids are going through.

Go ahead. Be the Tiger Mom or the Tyrant Dad who literally controls his child by thinking that knowing everything the kid does is a sign of good parenting.

I cringed when a mother told me that she checks on her son's text messages when the kid is in the bathroom or when he leaves his cellphone within her reach.  

I wanted to kick the face of another mother who says that she goes through her son's belongings when he is not home and makes sure he knows the phone numbers of all his friends so that she can always find a way of knowing where is in at any given time of day or night. 

I simply sighed with exasperation when a father told me that he will not let his daughter go out on a date even with a group until she has graduated from college.  Oh, he must also know the guy personally before he can go out with the poor little girl.

Go ahead: embarrass your kids. Tamper with their growth by exercising your dictatorial rights as parents. Spawn your reincarnations of Norman Bates.

Then there are those parents who reproduce --- and then pass on the responsibility to the household helps or the nannies or the relatives who have the time, patience and resources to raise the kids for them. And why? Because they can afford to do so.

It is different when a parent or parents are compelled to entrust their children to others out of an imperative.  Such is the case of OFWs who painfully separate themselves from their families because they need to find work to provide a better life for their loved ones.

But it is a completely different scenario when parents convinces himself/herself that he/she does not  really  have the time or the patience to go through the rigors of raising a kid.  They lead far too exciting independent lives that being a parent is simply not a priority.  Yes, you can have your career ... or maybe you just have better thing to do than to run after your baby's poo-poo.  Maybe it is better to spend your entire mornings doing Pilates or playing golf or even playing Bingo in the neighborhood corner store than watching over your kid making a mess out of everything he touches.

Eh, bakit pa kayo nagkaanak? You could have acquired a teacup chihuahua or even a toy poodle to serve the same purpose as having someone/something to gush at pag may time.  

Look, if you do not have the time ... or the patience to raise a kid, then don't. 

And just because you can afford to hire a midwife, a nanny and a platoon of scrub-wearing minions who will be the surrogate parents 24/7, do not expect to win the Ulirang Magulang Award of any year.  Chances are your kid will love his/her yaya more than you and deservingly so.

It is not surprising, like the stuff of so many soap operas, that the nanny ends up knowing more about the child and his life more than his biological parents.  

One amusing anecdote is this really rich friends of mine who took such a great delight in announcing that they will have decided to have a child ... as if it were part of a well-designed plan to fit into the template of ideal suburban living for members of Generation X.  

After their baby was conceived, the child was immediately photographed  and videoed to the max : the kid was the toast of so many baby showers and the likes, with so many social media pictures of this one nice happy family of beautiful people who perfectly belonged to the corridors of Bonifacio High Street.  But then, minus the teary-eyed admiration of the public, the same child was left under the care of the ever faithful yaya who was, of course, paid to do the dirty work so as not to soil Mommy's Ralph Lauren dresses or provide obstruction to her Zumba classes.

The baby was diminished more to an accessory --- as part of the beautiful tableau of The Perfect Life.  He, together with their Audi, their BMW and their complete set of Rimowa luggage were considered more as a possession that goes with the trappings of a lifestyle.

Well, indeed ... lo and behold, one day my sosyal friend was in panic because she realized after some time that her baby --- now two and a half years of age --- was talking with very strange accent.  

Although they only talked to their kid in BGC English, both Mommy and Daddy were appalled by the way their son was enunciating words.  I mean ... how dumb could they get not knowing that the kid was talking in exactly the same way the yaya uses English?  But the highlight of that entire dramatic event was when Mommy entered the service area to find her son talking relatively fluent Cebuano with the kitchen staff!

"My God!  How did he learn to Bisaya?"

I would have wanted to reply, "My God, where were you when your child was growing up?" Most likely she was in her Group Exercise class ... or doing charity work like raising funds to buy Christmas toys for orphans.  Yeah, right ...O Great Paragon of Motherhood.

Then there is the third ... if not the worst kind: those who have an addiction for copulation and in the process try to outrace an entire breed of rabbits in multiplying.

Oh, boy ... They are all over ... all over the streets with their sad and somewhat stupid stories that end up with one of the worst punch lines ever, "Aksidente. Nakabuo na naman, eh."  I will not go into the imperative of birth control ... nor do I want this to even be a religious issue.   You can copulate as much as you want ... as long as you know the consequences as well as the rewards.  Regardless of whether you are perfumed or part of the Great Unbathed, you can be fertilized if you are of that age.

By the way, for the record: children are not accidents.  They are brought to life because two people decide to do whoopee and there was this really aggressive fastest swimming spermatozoa that infiltrated the quiet sanctuary of a bored ovum.  That is that.  It makes a world of difference when you are indulging in a moment of temporary pleasure from bringing a child to the world just because a man and a woman were both horny and/or bored.

Considering how those living below poverty level are most prone in multiplying their kind, I greatly suggest that together with the War on Drugs that the government should provide at least one TV set for every home so as to diminish sex as pampalipas-oras. Perhaps this is a birth control method that will not violate the holy sensitivities of the representatives of God. A good telenovela all the way to Bandila or Saksi can be a more than sufficient substitute for a roll on the sahig.

There is absolutely no excuse to endlessly bring children to the world when you cannot provide them even with the basic necessities of a decent life.  

I will not even reason to excuses or explanations as to why there are all these children, half-naked and dirty, scattered in the streets with no sense of protection and definitely no guarantee for a better future than their parents.  The people who brought these children to the world are not only irresponsible: they live in their blissful ignorance and would blame the rest of the world for their human condition, making us all feel that it is OUR responsibility to take care of them.  If a child cannot be provided with proper nutrition and more so --- education --- then the parents should be blamed for bringing them into this cruel world just because they are reckless with their kalibugan.

OK, I need my tranquilizers now. The mere thought of such sense of false entitlement revolts me because it is not the idiotic parents but the kids who will carry the burden of the greater consequence and the even more bleak prospects of the future.

There are times when I feel I have lost all the chances that go hand in hand with the happiness of parenthood ... but confronting all the challenges and responsibilities that accompany such a position, maybe I should be thankful ... and glad. As I keep telling those who care to listen: There is no greater pleasure than making babies ... but there is no bigger challenge and responsibility than raising a child.

It is a delicate balancing act ...and just because one is a healthy and gungho heterosexual ready with his or her deadly weapons that he/she can just go out there and add to the human population.  There is accountability needed. And dignity in being a parent.  Without those, then tie up your ovaries and cut off your testicles.  Do not bring misery to the world by punishing a child with a life that he does not deserve.

There is no such thing as perfect parents but there are so many examples of really, really awful ones.  And that is a fact.