The Queen and her Indian Servant

Image result

Its movie trailer sparked my interest when I was inside a movie theater waiting for the showing of a juvenile film during  the weekend. This is the kind of movie I have wanted to watch since I’m now sick and tired of ones that are more on fantasy and cruel and bloody action. I was even more surprised to find out that it is based on a biography written by Shrabani Basu: Victoria And Abdul: The True Story Of The Queens’ Closest Confidant. So, it is another book on my list  I’m going to find  in my stomping ground. I wish to beat it to its movie showing in September. I’m  fairly sure that if the movie becomes a hit, the price of the book  will be diabolical. But, I’d be better off watching the film first .There are times that I throw my arms in dismay when the film turns out to be terrible after reading  the book .

Image result for victoria and abdul by shrabani basu

One of the reasons why it caught my attention is that its theme is about the real-life friendship between the Queen and her  Indian servant. I do love movies, music, and books that deal with friendship.

The story is about Abdul Karim who arrives from India to take part  in Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee. He will be surprised to win favor with the queen herself. When their friendship deepens, the queen begins to realize a lot of things about her life. Abdul will be a teacher while the Queen , his student. 

Its initial release is scheduled in the UK on September 15, 2017.

The movie is starred by Judi Dench as Queen Victoria and Ali Fazal as Abdul Karim, the queen’s servant.

As of yet, no information has been available when it is going to be shown in some Asian countries including the Philippines.

I may not be a movie snob but this is something new to me. So, I’m now looking forward to its showing!  🙂

How Ode to My Father Gained my Respect for Koreans

Image result for the ode to my father

I’ve been teaching  English to Koreans  for 8 years. So, getting along with them has given me the opportunity to understand their rich culture, custom, and history. I’ve been trying to learn how to speak,  read , and write  basic Hangul. I’ve even loved  their food ,and…allow me to cite the ones I always crave such as ssamkyupsal ( 삼겹살), ttakbeoki (떡볶이), panjeon (파전), jjajangmyeon ( 자장면) , ramen (그리고 라멘), and to name a few. Hmmm… My mouth is now watering. ..And I am even now trying to be a pale imitation of their fashion. Jeez whiz, I still haven’t  let myself be eaten by their system completely.

There is one thing that makes  Koreans  differ from us Filipinos: Their deep history that has molded their consciousness. That’s why it has been hard  for me to understand them in terms of their socio-cultural and economical policies. Koreans place too much value on familial hierarchy. Young people address the elderly with respect, patently obvious in their language- the custom  which is somehow no longer a big deal in the Philippines. Also, almost all Koreans are under pressure to conform to the standards of their educational system. Students go to academy ( 학원: Hag won)  to equip themselves with more skills. They even take part in more extra-curricular activities as another credentials once they look for lucrative jobs because hunting a job  is suicidal. Their  (close) friends can be even their frenemy in all aspects of  life should the need arise that they have to  consider their own interest. So, time is not more than gold, something I was not even used to when I started working for them. The long and the short of it, Koreans have been taught how to hit the ground running by this kind of  dog-eat-dog culture.

Right after watching the movie,  Ode to My Father, I sent a message to my beloved Korean students that I cried over it, and because of this movie, I respect their country, especially their history more. I explained further that this is a blinding revelation to me; I learned from this movie  how Koreans transformed themselves into new blood after the long period of extreme poverty during the Korean war.  It shows how the  war shaped Koreans’ philosophies in life  beyond their powers of endurance and resiliency. For instance, due to extreme poverty, they had to work hard to make their ends meet. They had to sacrifice by living away from their families while working abroad. They had to consider their families’ future no matter how life-threatening the available jobs were. They were  all determined to pull out the load weighing them down –the fighting spirit that has been observably inherent in their characters even up to this day. Perhaps, after this horrible chapter of  their history, it’s now their cultural “meme” that they should never let something like this pass again.

People must learn many moral lessons from the movie. The one that etched on my mind is that we can come up with alternative solutions to our problems. In the movie, Hwang Jung-min, the main character, found ways of how he could help alleviate his family’s miserable  life condition. I believe that  he can as well be the representation of all Koreans who did the same way. 🙂

The movie even made me break into tears as though the hem of my cloth was not enough to dampen my eyes. So, make sure that when you watch it, a hankie is not enough , but a diaper will do. It shows how the first Korean families were separated from one another after the 38th parallel, demarcating North and South Korea.  I could not stop blinking  my tears away some lachrymose scenes such as  when Hwang Jung-min  looked for his younger sister who had been missing for many years, and eventually found her on TV and when he  stayed in his room and  had an apparition talk with his father. They were heart-breaking. T_T

Would that  the movie were novelized, it would be more compelling and deeper, and I would surely wet its pages because of the emotional scenes conveyed in  beautiful sentences.

Rating: 5/ 5 stars ( It’s amazing.)

 

We have to Smash our Silent Voice

Related image

This movie intrigued me when I saw it feasted on by Japanese manga lovers’ eyes on Facebook. It turned out to be the most-awaited manga-series movie adaptation this year, which was initially released last year. Supposedly, it was to be shown in the Philippines last March , but the showing was postponed without any clear reason.

On its first showing day, it was a block-buster. When  I gave its trailer a try on You Tube, its concept stirred me: A deaf girl wants to befriend a bully boy.

The first thing that I liked about the movie is its  characters:  Shōko Nishimiya and Shōya Ishida. I could relate to Shoko, for I also have problem with my ears. Despite her handicap, she tries to be optimistic  and genial. She wants to live as ordinarily as what her classmates do. On the other hand, Shoya is a bully who has no interest in others. All he wants to do is to make fun of his classmates. He feels a certain amount of animosity toward Shoya, especially whenever she is so friendly to him. It’s a kind of yin-yang scenario.

But what gave me a significant impact is Shoya’s existential crisis. After Shoko transferred to other school in light of his persistent bullying, he became the butt of others’ bullying. He became an outcast. He lost his friends , especially the ones he usually spent time together with. Then,he would look at the people he was no longer close to with an X over their faces. In addition, he began to question himself about the real meaning of being a “friend” and life. He found his life meaningless. Or he may be bothered by the specter of his conscience after what he did to Shoko. Consequently, he attempted to take his life by jumping over a bridge, but realized that there is life he needs to attend to: his mother.

In a deeper context, the title itself is not only about Shoko’s being a hearing-impaired, unable to give voice to her personal hopes, fears, and dreams, but also about all the characters  who are inextricably intertwined with the story. All of them are interrelated to their hidden, deep-seated acrimony.  For instance, Shoya had never been apologetic about his being a bully causing his classmates to have been stuck in a past they could never let go of. Miyoko Sahara, the only student who befriended Shoko for a short time, had to confront the fact that she ran away from Shoko in fear of her classmates’ bully. Miki Kawai  whom Shoya referred to as a hypocrite for not doing anything when Shoko was being bullied, for the only thing she would love to do is to be praised for her beauty. Naoka Ueno, who secretly loves Shoya,  hates and blames Shoko for making  Shoya sad. But , in truth, she  also abhors her for  being weak , unable to protect herself. Those major characters , aside from the others, contributed to the deafening silence, to the broken past leading them to not move on in their  life. To lead a happy, normal life, all they had to do is to smash their silent voice to smithereens  by sharing  their life with one another again, shattering the illusions of fears, egotism, hopelessness . In the end, Shoya mustered up enough courage to face the people he would always look at with an X over their faces. The ending was redemption.

It’s  my first time to review an animation adaptation movie  despite that  I haven’t read its manga series yet. Personally speaking, it is not as gripping and exhilarating as the other Japanese anime I have watched such as Your Name by Makoto Shinkai and Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki. It is a bit boring since  the title itself  has major  relevance to the totality of the movie. Nevertheless, its characters and the story replete with  deeper moral values  highlight the movie. Therefore, it  is still  worth watching. 🙂

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it.)

 

 

Sa Puso ng Himala by Ricky Lee: A Book Review

ateguy

If you are a non-Pinoy movie snob , or  just a movie snob who has interest in watching international films,  I’d rather recommend you watch the  movie  than  read this book.  It is considered one of the best Filipino films of all time.  In fact, it won the Viewer’s Choice Award for the Best Film of All Time from the Asia –Pacific region in the 2008 CNN Asia Pacific Screen Awards beating out nine other films voted by thousands of film fans around the world. *

The movie may be falling out of fashion, but it is still immortal among   Filipinos, particularly among the generation of  my parents . I do not know if the young   Filipinos in this generation are familiar with this. When I was young , it was one of the common old movies shown on TV every Lenten Season here in the Philippines.

One of the unforgettable lines that marked us  and  are even parodied by comedians until now is:

 “Ipinatawag ko kayong lahat  dahil may gusto akong ikumpisal.

 Nitong mga nakaraang araw, sa loob lamang ng napakaikiing panahon, parang naranasan natin ang pinaghalong langit at impiyerno. Maraming sakit ang gumaling, maraming tao ang bumuti at nagkaroon ng pananampalataya.Pero nakakita rin tayo ng kamatayan, ng epidemya, ng pagpuputa, ng krimen at panloloko.

Kapag may masamang nangyayari’y sinisisi natin ang sumpa. Isinumpa ang Cupang. Itinaboy kasi natin ang maysakit noon. Kaya ganoon. Kapag may mabuti namang nangyayari, sinasabi nating ito’y gawa ng langit. Gawa ng Birhen. Gawa ng himala.”

( I summoned you because there is something that I want  to confess to.

These past few days, within just short period of time, we have experienced heaven and hell alike. Many sick have been healed, many people have been changed for the better and had faith. But we have also seen death , epidemic, prostitution, crime,  and hoax.

When there is something bad happens, we put the blame on curse. The Cupang was put on curse because we drove the sick man away before. On the other hand, when there is something good happens, we claim that it is created by Heaven. an act of the  Virgin, a miraculous act.)

And the last part of Elsa’s script which moved me to the bone:

“May ipagtatapat ako sa inyo.

Walang himala! Ang himala ay nasa puso ng tao! Nasa puso nating lahat’ Tayo ang gumagawa ng himala! Tayo ang gumagawa ng mga sumpa at ng mga DIyos!

Hindi totoong buntis ako dahil sa himala! Hindi totoong nagpakita sa akin ang Mahal na Birhen! Walang himala! Hindi totoong may himala! Tayo ang gumagawa ng himala! Tayo ang gumagawa ng mga sumpa at ng mga Diyos! Walang himala!”

( “There is something I  want to confess to.

There is no miracle! Miracles are in people’s hearts, in all our hearts!It is not true that  Virgin Mary appeared to me! There is  no miracle! It is not true that there is miracle! We are the one who make   miracle! We are the one who creates curses and gods! There is no miracle!”)

The woman in the book cover is the Philippines’ Super Star , Nora Aunor. She played in the movie as Elsa. This role is said to have redounded her to fame prior to her movie Minsa’y isang gamu-gamo, Once a Moth, which has another winning lines:

“My brother is not a pig! My brother is not a pig!  Hindi baboy ramo ang kapatid ko, kundi tao!tao!”

I found the movie   impressive and interesting. First, it can be understood in the context of religion and science. For instance, Elsa ( Nora Aunor ) admitted at the end of the story that she had lied all along , that there is  no miracle. She just made up the things people in the barrio thought of as the effects of heavenly providence. She disabused the mind of the people that miracle does not come from heaven.   Second, the settings, the locations,  are matched with the theme. It was taped in a desert somewhere in Ilocos Norte. It was  remote from the civilization. It was just a backward barrio located near a widely stretched sand dune, where superstitions were still observed. Therefore, the movie must illustrate that religion is   illogical, influenced by mysticism. Third, it also paints a portrait of faith-healing,capitalism, morality, and poverty.

The story was written by Ricky Lee, considered as one of the best writers in the Philippines.

The movie was   directed by Ishmael Bernal who was heralded as  National Artist of the Philippines in 2001.

The book is a compilation of the   behind-the –scene pictures- pictures of the cast and other  people  behind the movie, some trivia , how the idea of the movie was brought up. It also has the original scenes and scripts that were edited , particularly Elsa’s lines.

The things I did not know about the movie:

  1. It has been a 64 dollar question who killed Elsa? You can find out in the book that the hand holding a gun has a symbolic meaning.
  2. Some producers hung back from more than 3 million pesos budget. At that time, it was a big money.
  3. Charo Santos, the President of the TV network , ABS-CBN Corporation,  was  the executive producer of the movie . Indeed, she is one of  richest women in the Philippines.
  4. This is the first Filipino film to be nominated in the 1982 Berlin Film Festival.
  5. I confirmed  that Nora Aunor   was in the habit of  smoking when she was still a  super star. (Just saying)

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it. )

Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himala