Posted in 2020, Life

This open letter is for you.

You, who think that no matter what you do, it’s never enough. You seem to carry all of the world’s burden that it’s hard to breathe sometimes. You think you can do everything, but you can’t.

It’s okay that you can’t.

You blame yourself when things go wrong, and you shrug off praises because you feel you don’t deserve them. You keep fighting every day because you believe you are strong.

But you are also very, very tired.

Yes, you are strong, but I know that you also need a break. You need to hit the pause button because you can’t always be fighting for something. It is okay to not do anything except breathe. I know you need to rest — to spend time with yourself.

To be kind to yourself.

This is for you who cries at night because it’s the only time you are really free. When the rest of the world is sleeping, you secretly admit the things you’ve been hiding — that you feel hopeless, helpless and restless. Sad, alone and defeated. Thank you for embracing your vulnerabilities. That is not easy to do.

Please know that you are seen and you are loved.

Yes, you are not perfect, but you are valuable. Everything you do matters. You matter.

Don’t rush into things. Don’t be bothered by everyone else’s timelines. You have time. Good things always take time. Whatever you’re feeling, when you’re having a rough day, week, month or year, know that nothing is ever permanent. No feeling is ever final.

Accept that you can be weak and afraid, and need help, too. No one is judging you because everyone is fighting a silent battle. And no one can do it alone.

You, my dear, are never alone.

Please know and remember that we are all doing the best that we can. And that is always enough.

Posted in Freedom, Musings, Philippines

Hope over fear

With all that’s been happening in this country lately, it’s important to keep our mental health in check. In as much as I’d love to keep up with the news and read about what’s going on every minute of every day, it doesn’t help when the things you see and hear can drive you insane.

I can never forgive the president for causing all this madness. Command and responsibility says he takes all the glory and the blame. He has the power and privilege to make a difference in this country. To do better. To make us better. To inspire and unite us.

But no, he chose to divide us. 

By now, everyone knows he is the biggest bully. And like any bully, he has his own posse who kisses the path he walks on and follows him blindly. That’s why governance in this country has become a farce. Everything is spiraling out of control. Foolish and irrational statements from supposed “intelligent” leaders have taken over public discourse. Everything is twisted and framed in disarray. Meanwhile, there’s coronavirus that remains and slowly eats this population away.

Unfortunately, we are stuck with him. He who lets his ego and toxic masculinity reign over everyone’s right to be respected and valued. He who refuses to listen to the people, and dismisses their ideas as noise. He who hides behind “fake news” when being held accountable, and sees critics as terrorists. He acts like he’s Godfather, playing around with his “are you with me or against me?” rhetoric, while his polity continues to breed hate and animosity. He spits at democracy at every turn, and stifles the very freedom that many people fought and died for.

What’s worse is, all of these are met with applause and admiration. What have we become? Why do we act like sheep being led to the slaughter?

It all seems hopeless, but I choose not to give up. All great things are preceded by chaos. We may seem to be at rock bottom right now, but there’s always hope. Good will triumph over evil. Truth and justice will prevail. These aren’t just happy-ending stories that only happen in the movies. History is never kind to tyrants, and as long as we have voices who speak truth to power, I know in the end we will be on the right side of it.

Posted in Life, Long shot, Musings

A P A R T

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It’s been years

Or god knows how long

of laughter being shared

of love being made

of tears being shed

Yet parting

It comes in haste

Furious, impatient and prompt

 

It breaks everything in sight

Discarding moments, today,

for memories

 

How do I teach my heart

to be okay

With losing people this way?

Is it acceptance I seek?

Like how day turns into night

Water to wine

Nine to five

How do I stop the pain of knowing

that things will never be the same?

I don’t want to fix

what isn’t broken

But time doesn’t care

 

Don’t say my paradise is your hell

Don’t say your relief is my torment.

We have found each other,

And mooned over

Bright lights

together

So, why must it end?

Why must we falter?

Posted in Media

#IStandWithABSCBN

It’s harrowing to see this admin and its cohorts’ relentless attempts to shut down ABS-CBN based on obviously politically motivated, unfounded reasons. But we see it as it is — an attack against press freedom and democracy.

Yesterday, it was Rappler. Today, it’s ABS-CBN. Tomorrow, it’ll be everyone else who gets in their way.

This needs reiteration, now more than ever: A free press is our weapon against abuse of power. It’s the last refuge to force accountability on government. These days, it’s so easy to throw “bias” and “fake news” accusations against mainstream media because the government merely doesn’t agree with fearless, honest reportage. But remember, in a free society, when the press is criticized for negativity, it means it dares to question the policies of those in power. In local parlance, “may hugot ‘yan.”

Especially in this climate, when deceiving the public, canonizing dictators and plunderers, disregarding human rights, and eliminating critics become the norm.
Despite this nightmare of a regime we can’t seem to wake up from, I see a silver lining when all media, regardless of network or rating wars, unite for freedom of the press. It brings out the best in journalism, and more importantly, the humanity in all of us.

Posted in Pop Culture

Sluggish end, big takeaways

Big Little Lies Season 2’s ending feels a bit rushed and there’s less fireworks than expected — only because the first 3 episodes were its strongest. There’s exceptional acting from such a stellar cast, but the story meandered in the last few episodes, and left many of the arcs stale and deficient.

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Credits: HBO

Even though the Streep-Kidman faceoff is already a welcome treat (also, Witherspoon-Streep, equally delicious), I would’ve personally loved to see more on-the-spotlight Laura Dern. Maybe I’m biased because Renata’s my favorite. That scene of her lashing out at her husband inside the car after learning he had dalliances with their nanny (by the way, “stress management?” Clever!), and shoving a handful of tissue paper down his throat because she didn’t care what he’s going to say, was so viscerally satisfying! A livid Renata is always the best Renata.

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Credit: @CarrieCourogen

I also wanted to see more Otter Bay as an integral character but I think this season is mostly circumscribed in the main battles nestled in houses, cars, hospitals and courtrooms. I think I was missing the little wins from the little school scenes.

But I am thankful for the discourse surrounding Big Little Lies’ bold story line. It showed how wealth and privilege do not save you from losing everything. It also depicted how people wrongly regard victims and make excuses for perpetrators when they talk about rape. The Monterrey Five embodied how women unfairly bear the brunt of social pressures, especially when men in their lives are at fault. It detailed how women navigate intricate cobwebs in their lives, while being expected to be perfect at it.

The show brings to fore the necessary conversations about domestic violence, both spousal and parental, and its gruesome, life-shattering effects on victims and their families. The ending may have fallen short of TV greatness expectations, but my confidence in the importance of telling the Monterrey Five story for this generation of TV viewers just grew stronger.

Renata, ever powerfully enraged but commiserative where it matters, said in Season 1 the best line to represent the show’s zeitgeist — transcendent even in Season 2. “You never let a bully win. Do you hear me? You have to speak up, Amabella. You have to be a big girl and use your voice in this world. That’s why they call me a bulldog because I had to learn how to fight back with a bully.”

Posted in Life

Never meet your heroes

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A dear friend of mine recently showed me Lorraine Badoy’s Facebook post and lamented about how she still admires her writing despite Badoy being a strong Duterte supporter. I laughed, because it’s fair and true. The open letter was personal. It was poignant, articulate and relatable. It was a good letter. And like my friend, I can’t help but separate the artist from the person to fully appreciate her “art.”

Disillusionment comes in different stages of our lives. At one point, we all created and lived in a bubble — a make-believe world where everything is sunshine, rainbows and chocolates with sprinkles on top. We have our fantasy dinner parties and our Top Favorite lists. We weave tales about their fame and glory, and speak about them with only songs of praises.

Then in moments of truths, whether directly or indirectly, it becomes obvious that disillusionment happens in perpetuity.

The earliest memory of my first “D” encounter was as a child watching Batibot. I used to watch that TV show religiously until one day, on a random trip to the TV studio, I saw it was all an illusion. My little Batibot bubble suddenly burst into a few dozen cameras, green screens, and people holding puppets. It was, essentially, my first heartbreak.

When I was 10, I used to love going to church because of a priest who’s known to give out really good homilies. They were truly inspiring, the kind that makes you want to be a good person. Until one night, I saw him on TV, getting dragged by policemen because he allegedly raped a woman and got her pregnant.

Despite these early setbacks, I never really stopped admiring people. Humanity is a beautiful thing. Gifts of intelligence, talent, confidence and tenacity to achieve their dreams make you believe in greatness, and that in some way, it can happen to you if you only work hard enough. So time and again, I’ve put some people in gold-rimmed pedestals because for me, they deserve to be looked up to. They are the athletes, authors, actors, politicians, musicians, teachers, neighbors and friends I’ve come to know and love.  Unsurprisingly, this type of pedestal will just as easily come crashing down as you’ve built them. The greatest tragedy among the magnificent after all is that they’re humans.

I remember when I used to like reading Norman Mailer before I found out he’s a sexist, chauvinist pig. I used to worship a nationally acclaimed writer before I found out he was accused of plagiarism, and he sexually assaults women. I used to love the auteur that is Woody Allen, before discovering that the creepy undertones and Lolita-esque plots were not far from his sick debaucheries in real life.

Johnny Depp’s marital abuse allegations broke my heart. Hugh Jackman partying with Ivanka Trump seems more unforgivable than all of the Van Helsing movies combined. Lea Salonga’s public allegiance to the Marcos family was agonizing. Knowing all these is like waking up from a trance and then finding out I’m in a fucking nightmare.

What sparks disillusionment? I think ultimately, it’s our hardcore beliefs. I know it sounds sappy, but if you stand for something, you won’t fall for anything.

So now that I’m older, I tread the path of esteem and veneration lightly. It’s nice to admire greatness, for you should never underestimate the influence of the human spirit. I just tend to embrace more the obviously flawed but gifted (instead of the other way around) so there are no nasty surprises.

They say never meet your heroes. I’d like to be more proactive and instead start where I can control. Sylvia Plath (the most disillusioned author I know) once advised that we should “create the right kind of dream — the sober, adult kind of magic.” I think that’s a fair bargain. We can’t expect people to be perfect but at least we don’t get easily deceived, and then brokenhearted.

In our lifetime, we will probably get attracted to as many wrong people as possible, and will be deaf, mute, blind and heavily intoxicated in the process. It is fatal attraction. But we will fall out of love. The good that comes out of it is we get used to our truths, and learn to live with them as we go.

 

 

Posted in Pop Culture

Up in the air

Let me start this journey with one of my favorite movie scenes from Up In the Air, starring George Clooney, Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga. There’s just something about hard-hitting conversations in the movies that will forever change everything you’ve always believed in when you were younger (i.e., when you didn’t know better).

So, how do you feel about the underwhelming moments of your life?

Natalie: When I was 16, I thought by 23, I’d be married. Maybe have a kid. Corner office by day, entertaining at night.  I was supposed to be driving a Grand Cherokee by now.

Alex: Life can underwhelm you that way.

Natalie: I mean, where did you think you’d be by um…

Alex: It doesn’t work that way.

Ryan: At a certain point, you stop with the deadlines.

Natalie: It can be a little counterproductive. I don’t want to say anything that’s anti-feminist. I really appreciate everything that your generation did for me.

Alex: It was our pleasure.

Ryan: Well done.

Natalie:
But sometimes it feels like, no matter how much success I have, it’s not gonna matter until I find the right guy.

Alex:
You really thought this guy was the one?

Natalie:
I could have made it work.He um… He really fit the bill. You know? The bill? White collar, college grad. Loves dogs, likes funny movies. Six-foot-one, brown hair, kind eyes, works in finance but is outdoorsy…you know, on the weekends. I always imagined he’d have a single syllable name like Matt or John…or Dave. In a perfect world, he drives a 4Runner, and and the only thing he love more than me is his Golden Lab. And a nice smile. What about you?

Alex:
Let me think. You know, honestly, by the time you’re 34, all the physical requirements just go out the window. Like you secretly pray that he’ll be taller than you. Not an asshole would be nice. Just someone who enjoys my company, comes from a good family. You don’t think about that when you’re younger. I don’t know…someone who wants kids. Likes kids. Wants kids. Healthy enough to play with his kids. Please let him earn more money than I do. You might not understand that now, but believe me, you will one day. Otherwise that’s a recipe for disaster. And hopefully some hair on his head. But I mean even that’s not a deal breaker these days. A nice smile. Yeah, a nice smile. Nice smile just might do it.

Natalie: Wow, that was depressing. I should just date women.

Alex: Tried it. We’re no picnic ourselves.

Natalie: I don’t mind being married to my career. And I don’t expect it to hold me in bed as I fall asleep. I just don’t want to settle.

Alex: You’re young. Right now you see settling as some sort of a failure. It is…by definition. Yeah, but by the time someone is right for you, it won’t feel like settling. And the only person left to judge you will be the 23-year-old girl with a target on your back.

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