I have a theory.

I believe every person in the Philippines has seen an episode of Maalaala Mo Kaya. That’s why every one of us, #lakingMMK!

Hehe, so maybe I exaggerate. Siguro one out of every two people of the population with a television set? 😉

Anyways, Merry Christmas, MMK!!!  Every single episode I direct since that first story in 2011 (Make-up starring Carl John Barrameda, Carl John Barrameda, Maliksi Morales and Maliksi Morales) always make me feel honored to be trusted with the responsibility of bringing to life the stories of our letter senders.

But aside from these generous everyday people brave enough to write “Dear Charo..,” the true gems of this almost 24-year old show are the staff and crew and actors who continue to uphold the legacy that makes MMK the popular archive of the contemporary Filipino life.

For the rare chance of being made a part of that, and for the wonderful company of my colleagues who not only grew up with but also grew old in the show (#tandangMMK), THANK YOUUUU!!! (Ang babait ninyo!)

You make me grateful and proud that I am also #lakingMMK 😀

IMG_6041Photo by @annguimbangunan (MMK Hatid-Sundo 2014 December 17)

My super belated post. Not sure if this really is the Top TEN films that made a mark on me, but without thinking too long, this is the ten that came up. When posting the “Top 10 movies that stuck with you” was all the rage, I didn’t have to think long for my Top 3. It was immediately decided. Got too busy to busy to post mine and only got reminded again now that Jurassic World’s trailer is out (wow!).

1) My Best Friend’s Wedding
2) Aladdin
3) Jurassic Park
4) The Usual Suspects
5) Cutting Edge
6) The End of the Affair
7) Aswang
8) The History Boys
9) Shake, Rattle & Roll II
10) Dancer in the Dark

It’s obvious that most of these films came out when I was a kid or in High School – so they really stuck with me, obviously.

One notable movie also stuck with me, but for the wrong reasons. My best friend in grade school, Amado and I snuck out of Zobel during school hours to go to ATC (Alabang Twin Cinema pa, I think). It was an “unofficial” cut cause it was actually Fair week in Zobel, so we didn’t really have classes that day, but I still felt like such a rebel riding the jeep out of AAV to watch a movie during school hours cause it was my first time to leave school premises alone.

We had extra money, so we decided to watch a movie. We saw “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” which I enjoyed immensely. But it was more memorable cause halfway through the movie, a grown up man sat two seats away to my left and started pleasuring himself… TO RICK MORANIS LOOKING FOR HIS SHRUNKEN KIDS, WTF?!? I was too scared to acknowledge him or tell Amado about it, so I tried my best to ignore him and focused on Rick Moranis’ extreme close ups until the stranger probably got so offended no on was paying him attention and eventually left.

Round up (with spoilers!):
1) My Best Friend’s Wedding – I’m a Julia Roberts fan… still am. Notting Hill is a close 11. Best romcom anti-heroine ever. Possibly her most charming film… I will always stop to watch this movie through when I catch it on TV.

My Best Friend's Wedding - The moment passes you by

 

2) I memorized the Aladdin soundtrack weeks before the movie even came out. It was the same for Beauty and The Beast. But I didn’t fantasize being Beast, or Belle, or Gaston, like I did with Aladdin. It worth noting that among the slew of Disney hits, this was the one that featured a male HUMAN lead (so no, it still trumps Lion King). Kaya siguro it resonated a lot with me. I still feel slightly pasaway when I watch Aladdin. Sarap remembering how I dreamed that I, too, was a diamond in the rough. (Big bonus watching Lea Salonga perform it on television in the Oscars)

Aladdin

 

3) Jurassic Park defines the Cinema Experience for me. Watching it was MAGIC, and how wonderful it was. I was in AWE of the dinosaurs. I was totally with the characters jumping from my seat, getting scared witless, and in total relief when they finally got on that chopper in the end (and intrigued what it could mean when I saw those pterodactyls flying alongside). I saw it four (or five times ata) in the cinema. I was in High School then, so you know that meant much (gastos!). I bought the cassette tape soundtrack even and until now, I still have the main theme memorized – tanana-na-na… tanana-na-na… (which is the same strains used in the Jurassic World trailer, in case you didn’t know). It wasn’t ET or Jaws or Indiana Jones that made me a fan of Spielberg. It was this movie.

Jurassic Park

4) Keyser Soze! I saw The Usual Suspects either with Search In or LSYC friends back in High School… but I certainly remember it was the second to the last or the LFS in ATC. This movie stands out as the one that first made me aware of brilliant Plot Twists as a potent narrative device. How great twists can be when done right. This is also the first time that an actor made a mark on me for his performance so much that I took note of his name – Kevin Spacey, who was unknown to me until then.

The Usual Suspects

 

5) I believe Cutting Edge is the first movie that I saw on my own. I didn’t know anything about it when I decided to buy a ticket to its screening. I was waiting for my Tita to pick me up and had more than two hours to spare, so I watched. I was drawn to it cause of Moira Kelly’s profile on the poster (gorgeously staring at DB Sweeney on the right of the poster). I may have been in Grade 6. And wow, how I fell in love (though I doubt I knew how that truly felt back then). I believe it was the first time I felt kilig, and kilig from a movie. Ang cute ni Moira Kelly! She came to my consciousness ahead of Winona Ryder and always believed Winona looked like her, and not the other way around. That scene when she decided she will do the pamchenko routine in the end – during the routine itself!!! – because she’s learned to trust DB’s character na – classic! Toe pick!

Cutting Edge

The End of the Affair6) The End of the Affair was… wow, bigat, heart-wrenching. It was a profound experience watching this back when I was in college. Betrayal story times two. And how brilliant is it to turn an affair on its head by making the lover act like the possessive partner, and to have God as the third party? One of my most favourite films of all time. And again, that movie that made me take note of an actor and her performance. This time, the great Julianne Moore. Remember that scene when she was on her knees, praying after the bomb dropped, and SOON AS she whispered her desperate bargain to God, Ralph Fiennes calls out from behind her. The camera tracks to the right and reveals Ralph, alive. GOOSEBUMPS! every. f*cking. time.

 

7) AswangI loved horror and fantasy Pinoy films when I was a kid. Aswang had the best ensemble you can ever gather in a Pinoy horror film – Janice de Belen, Manilyn Reynes, Aiza Seguerra, Berting Labra, Joey Marquez, Mary Walter, and of course, Lilia Cuntapay. Because of this film, I fantasized about aswang adventures when visiting new places (here, it was a town called Talisay). How the movie started with a straight up murder-massacre but eventually evolve into a small town horror story is genius – complete with Tiktiks, Shape Shifters, Manananggal… as well as tips on how to prevent an aswang from getting back to her house before sunrise. Obviously, the only effective way to kill it, duh! The Peque-Lore(-Don Escudero) team at their very best!

 

The History Boys8) The History Boys perfectly illustrates the straightforward emotional complexity that theatre manages to capture despite the constraints it suffers compared to film. Which is possibly why the emotions are intensely magnified when it was effectively translated to film (and successful effectiveness is not always assured). I’ve always believed film to be the more comfortable medium for such stories. While most of my contemporaries would cite “Dead Poets Society” (which I also loved) as their definitive teenage coming of age story, I was always more partial to The History Boys. There was a subtle element of darkness to to the story and the character relationships seemed more dangerously real. Take note na rin that this coming of age film came out when I was in my mid-twenties na. Late bloomer ako, hehe…

 

9) Shake, Rattle & Roll II is a feast. The best trilogy in Pinoy Cinema, I think. The mix of the stories are perfect, as well as its casting (again with Janice de Belen and Manilyn Reynes, but this time with Carmina Villaroel, Eric Quizon, Joey Marquez, Vangie Labalan, Ana Roces, Richard Gomez and Rez Cortez). I have so much more to say about how I love it, but this trailer is just so perfect I’d let it do the talking. (Don’t you just love it when trailers that show all the best bits, but the movie’s so great that you don’t mind anymore?)

 

Dancer in the Dark10) When I first saw Dancer in the Dark, it was heartbreaking. I thought it would be hard to watch it again. I’ve only seen it less than 5 times even though I have the DVD. But I remember much of it vividly. The first time I got so impressed by Lars Von Trier. One of the films that proved to me how truly powerful films can be, and the vast potential it has in telling stories. Again, what I said about performances. This time, Bjork! Who’d’ve thunk? I’m thinking about watching it again now, and already my heart is breaking remembering Bjork’s performance and that tragic ending.

 

How lucky am I to be working in this industry I belong to? For the precious opportunity to make the same mark on other people with the films or episodes I write or direct 🙂

A friend of mine posted a link to this amusing cartoon from Oatmeal.com, with a message relating it to the passage of the Cybercrime Law. When my friend mentioned that the Cybercrime Law “does not serve the interest of the people, but serves to protect the interest of the big companies who own copyrights to artists’ works,” it somehow felt wrong to me. He said that the Cybercrime Law was not “protecting the artist’s intellectual property by being ‘anti-piracy.’” I was against the Cybercrime Act’s passage too, but something about his statement felt incongruous with my sentiments, so I clicked on the link to see the website.

The cartoon basically says big music publishers’ (like EMI) control and share of the revenues from sales have greatly diminished over the years, relinquishing more of it over to the musicians. It proceeds to say that we should push for a more direct interaction between the consumers and the musicians, where every cent we spend buying music goes to the artist. I agreed, specially on the last point, but it also pushed me to distill my stand on the Cybercrime Law.

Because of the current online landscape, I thought, aren’t musicians already capacitated to make the self-preserving choice to make their music directly accessible (allowing them to dictate their own terms for remuneration, keeping for themselves the entire “retail” price)? Di ba parang, was it Radiohead who tried this? This is a real question by the way. An impression of how it is now, as opposed to an informed insight into the workings of the music industry.

My point being, piracy happens because the musicians sign off the rights to the music publishers, giving the publishers the rights which they invoke against unpaid sharing/downloads. Simply put, if they didn’t sign off these rights, there wouldn’t be ‘piracy’ to begin with. Part of what they sign up for when they sell the rights to their music is the benefit of advertising and promotion, which is what forces them to this (often) oppressive setup. Much as I agree that getting 23¢ out of an 18$ retail price in exchange for publicity & promotion seems grossly unfair, it doesn’t follow that piracy in itself is justified.

I guess what I’m ultimately driving at is… I don’t see this Oatmeal editorial as anti-piracy exactly. And I while I also am against the passing of the current draft of the Cybercrime Law, I don’t believe that its protection of copyright infringement is among its biggest flaws.

Sadly kase, music, in these terms, is not all art but also commerce. It shouldn’t stop us from lobbying for increased royalties for the true artists, but we should be careful not to become unwitting accomplices of copyright infringement. The setup alluded to by the cartoon should rightly draw attention to the unjust capitalist bullying that happens between big Music Publishers and hard-working artists. Or in parallel cases, between Film Distributors and actors/writers/producers. (Oddly enough, this is coming from someone who doesn’t own the copyright to his scripts!)

I welcome what torrents and filesharing have done in making music and films easily accessible, but I’m not going to say that getting them for free was something I had a right to.

Ako personally, in the case of my self-produced short films, I made them without any intention of making money out of them, so I make them available on my website. If someone made it available through torrents, I wouldn’t mind it being shared by everyone, so more people can watch it. Kaya nga I didn’t go shopping for producers, offering its copyright in exchange for funding. I made it without any intention of getting back the money that I spent shooting and editing and shopping for the food that acted as compensation for those who worked pro-bono (or in some instances, the hugely discounted talent fees I paid my actors). So yes, please, go on and share it all you want – for free, too!

But when friends find out that I wrote or directed a certain movie for a film company and ask if I can give them a torrent, it’s not entirely flattering. Kase a part of me wants them to pay for the movie as they watch it in the cinema or buy the DVD, cause sad to say, while I also consider it my art, it is also how I make a living. In a way, especially for those who are not fans of Pinoy films, what they seem to say is, “You’re my friend so I’ll watch your film, but I don’t appreciate your work enough to pay for it” – unlike how they might, say, brave the long lines at the cinemas on the first day of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

In a way kase, patronage of music and films, and other forms of entertainment and art, is in huge part measured by sales, and my currency as a commercial scriptwriter or director is partly based on the public patronage of my work. This is how I’m able to demand a reasonable compensation for my art.

So again, while I am against the current draft of the Cybercrime Law, I hope the protection it gives against copyright infringement survives. Strike down the parts that constitute double convictions resulting from the distinction between libel and online libel; the violation on equal protection rights of those considered as Information and Communication Technolgy (ICT) users; the relaxation of the Constitutional requirements for surveillance thus violating rights to privacy of communication; and most importantly, the “takedown provision” that empower the DOJ to be the one-stop shop on all online matters, minus the requirement of a fair trial or conviction. But that of copyright infringement, let’s be careful about that.

It really all boils down to… sana next time, support me by watching my films in the movie house ;)

#reviseCybercrimeLaw

#pleasewatchmyfilmsintheCinemas

On this week’s Flashback Fridays is a photo from Won’t Last A Day Without You‘s mascot scene.

Ah yes… the mascot scene.

This was part of the montage where, after Andrew threatens to report George to the KBP, George is forced to help Andrew get back with Melissa. The purpose of which is to provide the com part of the Rom-Com, and narratively, to drive home the point of how Andrew, despite his charms, is blatantly clueless about what it is like to romance a woman. His girlfriend, no less!

The moment I read this sequence on the script revision, I was really disappointed. If I were being completely honest, I just felt that this kind of scene was tired and cliché. That we were going to make a character don a costume was not all bad, per se. In the same way that a leading lady hopping on to the male consort, piggy back style, is not all bad. That, or a character running after his love interest as he or she leaves aboard a departing bus.

Such a scene, like “the mascot scene”, is most certainly not bad in itself. In fact, they’re usually really effective in delivering the comedy and romance that audiences not only expect, but crave for in the genre.

What made it bad, and what disappointed me about it is how, when taken in the context of the past films made by Star Cinema, it just came off as, like I said, tired. Old. Rehashed. Thus, clichéd. In the same way that those Korean scenes are tired and clichéd.

The first time I remember seeing “the mascot scene” was in Direk Joyce Bernal’s Til There Was You, when Judy Ann’s character put on a costume for a children’s party. Part of the many odd jobs she took on to make ends meet. It was certainly hilarious, and surprising, and even poignant! Well done, surely.

The next time I saw it, it was a little closer to home. In the penultimate sequence of Direk Cathy Garcia’s You Are the One, Sam Milby’s Will Derby drove through the Manila traffic in a desperate attempt to stop Toni Gonzaga’s Sally Malasmas. Simultaneously, he wondered how to get her to forgive him after he practically pushed her away. He drove by a lechon stall (rotisserie) and a bulb lit up. As the film closed, we saw Will dresse in a pink (like the one below) pig (although below’s is a bear) costume, asking Sally to forgive him, and hoping to convince her by virtue of his “pagpapakababoy” right then.

A third time I remember seeing “the mascot scene” was in Direk Ruel Bayani’s Paano Na Kaya? Yet again, a little bit close to WLADWY as it also starred Gerald Anderson. Thankfully, it wasn’t him who was wearing the costume, but the lovely Kim Chiu.

So yeah, I was well aware of how many times Star Cinema has resorted to this. Making it worse is the fact that it was used in one of my films (though I wash my hands off it. I didn’t write the mascot scene in You Are The One, and wouldn’t have allowed it printed on any paper if I had a say in it), and that it was used in another film where one of my lead stars was a part of.

It was disappointing because this was precisely why critics tended to feel like mainstream cinema is lazy and a sell out, and times like that, I shared that sentiment. I, too, agreed that there must have been another way to make the audiences feel kilig, without resorting to the same old recycled sequences. As a writer, I’ve always challenged myself that way. It’s hard enough to churn out love stories or romantic comedies with a fresh perspective or a new message to impart. We don’t help our case when we do it with the same, familiar gestures. As writers & filmmakers, we have to take it upon ourselves to innovate the genre.

Unfortunately, being the new director that I was, I was sort of bullied into shooting the scene anyway. I guess I didn’t have the confidence to demand a rewrite (and not when we were already behind schedule) when all of the bosses have unanimously agreed that this “mascot scene” was necessary and perfect the way it was. It just proves how challenging and frustrating it is to work in mainstream cinema sometimes.

In the end, I did my best to keep the scene without making it look and feel tired. Thankfully, there was enough in the written script to use so the scene remained relevant and not merely functional. I tried to make myself like the scene, tried to enjoy it myself, so the audiences would also find appreciation for the scene’s reinvention or re-imagining. Whether through the blocking, the element of surprise, the farcical mounting and its awkward resolution, I blindly hoped for success.

Truth be told, this turned out to be one of the most fun scenes we shot. Sarah was really game in putting on the costume. Lots of credit to her because that damn thing really smelled! We were laughing all day while we were doing that sequence. The awkwardness of making prim and conservative Sa walk around with this ginormous, heavy costume created a light atmosphere. She couldn’t help her giggles as she kept getting off balance. It was so infectious that even Ge couldn’t help but goof around while she was in it. In fact, the final cut of this scene that made it to the movie, where Sarah almost fell over as Gerald rushed and dragged her towards the ladder was as real as it could ever be.

In the end, I think we did succeed. The levity of the moment seeped through and I’ve had many people tell me it’s one of their most remembered and enjoyed scene in the movie.

So anyways, below is a BTS photo of us shooting my mascot scene. Sa was already wearing the Carebear costume while I gave her & Ge final instructions before taking the shot.

If anything, at least I got to do my own version of this “classic” Pinoy rom-com eksena… “the Mascot Scene” :)

#philminginthePhilippines blog two days ago. I’ve tweeted it already when a friend pointed out that it’d be better sounding if it were “Flashback Fridays”. I can’t believe I missed that one! Yeah, of course it’s better alliterative that way!

So it’s now “Flashback Fridays”. Since I’ve always liked taking tons of pictures of everything I do (I probably got that from my mom who still does it, to this day), I decided to reminisce on past productions I worked on by tweeting behind-the-scenes photos, stills or even videos.

My maiden Flashback Friday photo comes from my first ever publicity photo shoot as a director on my biggest project to date, Won’t Last A Day Without You. Here’s the dish about this picture.

T’was about a month or so before our playdate. We were rushing the remaining sequences in the radio booth, our main location. To get their job done with little interruption, promo went to our location at the Semicon building along Marcos Highway to shoot the publicity photos for use in the poster and other PR purposes. I previously saw the promo’s peg for the poster and found it cute.

I didn’t think there would be any issue about it until I heard my staff and some people from promo talking about their anxiety about possible objections coming from Mommy D, Sa’s mom. I found out that in the past, Mommy D had been reputed to be super conservative. Since this photo required Ge to pose like he was stealing a kiss from Sa, a hair line away from touching skin, they all expected Mommy D to automatically disallow it.

Surprisingly, they got that shot without any objection. The promo people emerged from the shoot with wide smiles saying even they were surprised that Ge’s face came as close as it did to Sa’s. It’s the photo that eventually made it to the poster. I’m quite happy as it was distinctive and original, at least as far as I know (kudos to Sir Roxy, Mico & the entire team!). And even though Mommy D took me to one side at one point to confide and sumbong her displeasure over the photo shoot sched being sprung on them on short notice, preventing them time from getting a preferred stylist, make up artist and better costumes, in the end, it was a very good day.

Even for me, who was never that comfortable having my picture taken while other people watched. I had fun, despite the awkwardness, nervousness and humiliatingly frigid expressions. Who could blame me when I’s beside this effortlessly charming lass and towering hunk!?! No disrespect to my colleagues, but I really felt like a PA beside Sarah & Gerald, ika nga 🙂 The photographer and promo people teased me for giving them the same smile and pose in all the pictures, while Sa & Ge, being the veterans that they were, managed to have fun and play around. The chemistry was palpable even then. The chemistry was always there. It was nice to see them just be at ease and fool around with each other, like real genuine friends. I found it in me to enjoy it eventually. Their energy and ebullience was infectious. Prior to me joining them, the two even managed to ‘interview’ me for the Sasa & Gege show.

Enjoy our first ever #FlashbackFriday photo. One of WLADWY photos that never made it out – Ge fooling around, at Sa’s & my expense!

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Working in film and television here in the Philippines, or perhaps in the particular network and film company I belong to, it is not uncommon to hear about people talk about the most important thing one needs to get by. Some would say it’s hard work. I’ve heard others say it’s pakisama (good personal relations). Some even say it’s all ‘chika‘ (the appearance of good personal relations). I’ve come to realize that for me, that thing is respect.

I take it further to conclude that it is ‘respect’ you need as currency to succeed and survive with your wits about you. The best way for you to secure the space and opportunity to express your creativity is to be respectful every time, and in every way. Respect is where all all virtues spring, in my mind.

If you respect your own artistry, you strive for excellence, to be the best in the role you play. You are critical not only of your colleagues but most importantly, of yourself. You improve, you innovate.

If you respect the craft, you are diligent and prepared. You look back at the history of this industry, learn from it, and seek to elevate its standards.

If you respect your co-workers, you are efficient, punctual and professional. You collaborate with your colleagues. You show humility when they know better, embrace their criticisms, and take their suggestions even at the expense of your ego. You acknowledge their earnestness and good work.

If you respect your employers, you are generous and accommodating of their insights. You make productive use of your time at work and align your creativity with their vision. You embrace their criticisms and dig through it so it helps you and your work get better.

And if after you are given all possible excuses to dispense with it you still manage to hang on to that respect, then that’s when you earn integrity.

It was only very recently that I came to fully realize how paramount this virtue is for me.

Last Sunday, after a very long day in production that started with a pull out at 3AM the day before, we were down to our last sequence for the day. The sun had begun cresting. The lighting and art department had started setting up the next location. My AD and I were already blocking the scene. One of the actors was already on stand by, ridding himself of sleep since his last sequence was taken at 3PM the day before.

Then, my executive producer and our associate producer came to me saying that one of our lead actors was nowhere to be found. He wasn’t picking up his phone either. After various attempts, which included our AP making calls to both the actor’s manager and father (!), they finally got in touch with him and found out that he was already halfway back to Manila. We were on location in a province.

To be honest, I was sort of relieved that we got to pack up a bit earlier. I was bummed that we were going to drop one sequence (I hate it when we don’t get all the work done), but I was exhausted, and an early reprieve was certainly welcome.

What I really felt bad about at the time was making the other actor wait 15 hours for nothing. Because I was afraid he would feel like we didn’t respect him enough simply because he wasn’t as big an actor as the other one – he who had gone missing. The actor knew it wasn’t the production’s fault, but I took responsibility for that. Worse, I found out that this other actor (the one who waited) had a flight to Cebu that he had to cancel because we had scheduled his remaining sequence last. There was nothing else left to do but apologize for the inconvenience and promise that we’ll make it up by trying our best to finish early the next shooting day.

It was only in hindsight that I felt the full impact of that situation. I’m proud to say I always roll with the punches and manage quite well under the worst circumstances. I realized how disrespectful it was to the entire team – the actors, staff and crew. And it was then that I felt really offended.

The second shooting day came. The producers talked to AWOL actor and he went out of his way to speak to me. He apologized and said that he knew it was completely inexcusable and that it was totally wrong of him to have gone without anybody’s leave. I really wasn’t bothered much by it anymore cause there was just so much work to be done and it was simply my nature to focus on the job at hand.

Furthermore, I never really liked creating or nurturing tension on the set. If I allowed myself to wallow in the disappointment and elected to act aloof and distant from my actor, it would’ve only gotten in the way of our communication, consequently affecting both our work. How was I to effectively relay to him my vision and elicit the perfomance I wanted if I was more preoccupied with making him feel guilty or remorseful for what he had done? Not that he didn’t deserve it. In fact, he needed to know and feel how offended I was. But in a film set, it is imperative that you work as a team, be united in vision. Otherwise, the entire process breaks down and you end up producing a material with confused core.

When asked for the reason why he did what he did, AWOL actor told the other staff that it was because he felt sick and couldn’t carry on any further. I was told he did express that to them during production. He even asked his driver to inquire how many sequences were left before that last sequence for the day that included him (we were down to our last three). Then he apparently left to get some breakfast. He told told some other drivers, I think, but fell short of actually telling any one of the staff that he was leaving for good.

That second day went by smoothly and with very few hiccups to speak of. The atmosphere was fun despite being a very emotional episode. I was very happy with all of my actors’ performances, most especially AWOL actors’. We even managed to wrap by 5.40AM when we had aimed for 6AM, and with a lengthy rain delay at that.

Yesterday, a day after wrapping production, I called the actor’s manager to express my disappointment. For the record, that actor did apologize to me, and I have forgiven him. I actually enjoyed working with him and was impressed by his talent and over-all attitude while on the set. He’s a very jolly and amiable person and I really wouldn’t mind working with him again. Whether it was him making up for his transgression, I never knew for sure, but the producers attest to his talent, good reputation, and work ethic – at least prior to that turn of events during the first day.

But I still had to express how deeply offended I was because of what he did. Precisely because this actor wasn’t known to be anything like that. In fact, he was liked by the people in the show. That only lead me to conjure all sorts of reasons why he’d do that in my set. I took it personally. I told the manager, I don’t know if it was because he didn’t know me, or because I was younger than his previous directors that he thought he could get away with it with me.

Whatever it was, I just hope he realizes the consequence of those actions. Not so much for what I thought – I can get over that and I’d like to think that I’m professional enough to work with him again if I had to, without using this as reason for making things difficult for him the next time. I think I’ve proven that during the second day.

Even more important, I hope he realizes the impression he creates on other people. All it takes is one simple, seemingly negligible act of disrespect like this to unravel all those years of hard work and good reputation. I was telling the manager about how even the much senior actors who had been released and was making their way home already that day heard about what happened. Even they were asking the staff if they managed to get hold of AWOL actor. I’ve never been treated that way by any of my actors, and I’ve worked with veteran senior actors as well as younger superstars. None of them ever used my youth as excuse to undermine my authority.

Honestly, it’s not easy to show respect in a stressful and hectic job like ours. That’s why I made an effort to relay all this. Because it hit me that it’s most painful when after all that you do to try and be respectful of others, you still end up getting disrespected like that. There are a million personal stories I can recount about disrespect in our line of work, which is why I feel I have to be most conscious about my own conduct. I must never let the mien of my co-workers and the state of affairs in this industry be an excuse. That’s why like I said, I’ve chosen to move past that and forgive that actor. I chose to not allow this one instance to define his character.

That’s how I’ve come to realize that aside from respect, I must strive for compassion – which is surely much harder to exercise than the former. I am sure time will inevitably come when I will lose control and offend someone in this industry, as this actor had done to me. When that happens, I can only hope that my colleagues will choose to look back and have faith on all my good days when I treated them with the kind of respect we all deserve.

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I spent about three crucial, unforgettable life-changing years in London as a result of my decision to take up my Masters there back in 2008. There’s never a day I don’t remember how fun it was, never a day I don’t wonder how my friends are doing.

Even now, I still find myself wondering whether I should just pack up and return there and make good use of my work visa to relive my adventures as a Pinoy student in London. Of course, with the goal of replacing ‘student’ with ‘professional filmmaker’.

I don’t regret being here in Manila. I just can’t help these thoughts whenever there’s a lull at work — times like this. Back in London, there was literally no lull. Life there was much faster, busier, and in many ways, harder. Especially when you’re a foreign student like I was. With everything there being so expensive and… well, foreign… I had to dispense with many of the comforts I am used to here back home. From big things like living in a home that did not require my paying rent, to simple things like having my own car or driver or not having to worry about making up my own bed. Routinary things like commuting, doing the laundry, and having sandwiches for lunch to save on the expense and not because you’re on a strict diet, suddenly get replete with profundity. Yet it’s precisely because of all that that London has grown that close to my heart.

But more than the City itself, the weather, the people, the accent, the lifestyle, the culture, and the thrill of living in a historic but modern capital like London, it is the experience of actually making films there that I miss the most. That, and the friends I made while at LFS.

My Term 4 Unit in the set that George built, Mike lit and I shot.
The entire staff and crew on Wrap Day. I was camera operator that term.
A couple of hours after the previous photo. Somewhere in China Town. Or Soho. The alcohol made me forget.

I’m waxing nostalgic cause I stumbled upon this video while browsing through my alma mater’s website.
This was shot back in December 2012. I didn’t know they’d put it up already. It was a day or two before our graduation ceremony. Some of the alumni were invited back to the school to record testimonials of their experiences while studying at the London Film School. It reminded me of what a blast it was to be a student in London. Wait. Make that, a student making films in London. I really doubt it could get any more fun than that. I recount my reasons for saying so in the clip below:

I remember writing in the Kwentong Peyups article I contributed to the University of the Philippines’ centennial celebration how I was conscious of representing the Philippines while I was at LFS. It was what pushed me to be at my best.

Oddly, even though I am now back to being a Pinoy filmmaker in the Philippines, one among so many others, I feel like I still carry with me a lot of what I said in that video. Even if I’m no longer a foreigner in the UK, the reversion to being back home revived some of the experiences and emotions I felt while I was in London. That awkward feeling of being an outsider at the beginning. The drive to earn my peers’ respect and earn my place through merit and hard work. Though I’m back to all things familiar, I’m reminded all the more of the values I learned while at LFS. Values of discipline, humility and openness. Perhaps because being a screenwriter making his way to directing mirrored the struggles of an Asian student in a big, western city.

My time in London reminds me of the precious opportunity I was given to represent my country. To build the image of a Pinoy filmmaker in London. Now that I’m back, I’m given an opportunity to represent LFS in Manila.

DIRECTOR
Starring Vina Morales, Gina Pareño, Boots Anson-Roa, Mark Gil
ABS-CBN – Maalaala Mo Kaya / HD / approx. 60 mins / Television Anthology Episode
25 February 2012

When I came back in 2010 to semi-permanently re-settle in Manila after a couple of years in London, I set up a new blog to chronicle the progress of my graduation film, Tuksó.

It had two main purposes. I wanted to start the habit of writing about my my profession, and I wanted to build material for my graduation journal – the final requirement for my MA in Filmmaking.

That went quite well for a while. Despite the rigors of writing, directing and producing a 35mm all at the same time, for the first time, I managed to write some insightful posts (to my mind at least).

I only looped in a handful of friends to the existence of the blog. Mostly my friends from school and some others in the Philippines who cared to know how my project was doing. Come journal time, it served me well and became the salvation of my crammed final paper which I wrote in the span of two days amid partying in London. When I got my final evaluation a month after, it was confirmed that I was to graduate with Distinction.

Now, I’m back in the Philippines for good. I have been for a year now in fact but it seems like I’m only embracing it now.

My 2011 was all devoted to reestablishing myself in the local film and television landscape. My last engagement was back in 2008, when my A Very Special Love screenplay was produced for the big screen. After that, I had a minor exposure in the 21st Gawad CCP (Independent Film & Video Festival) when my short documentary, The Filipino Student’s Guide on How To Be Invisible in London, won the 3rd Prize.

Other than that, it was all about sending resumés and getting the attention of my former bosses in Star Cinema.

It worked out for me. I got my first ever project for the ABS-CBN News Channel – a two-part documentary called The Business of Energy that looked at successful sustainable practices in different sectors of the society. I also got a ‘script doctoring’ stint for Star Cinema, resulting in my latest screenplay credit, My Cactus Heart.

 

 

Most importantly, these efforts yielded my directing break.

I was given the opportunity to direct an episode for MMK, or Maalaala Mo Kaya, the longest-running drama anthology in Asia for the biggest television company, my home network, ABS-CBN. It was my first time to direct a drama for television, a chance made even more special by the fact that it was for this titan of a show which I’ve been a fan of since I was a kid. Despite the jitters you’d expect from this gargantuan break, that episode entitled Make-Up, about twin brothers who had a falling out because one was gay, topped the weekend ratings that week and led to an even bigger break.

After the Creative Head and Managing Director of Star Cinema watched that MMK episode, I was called in for a meeting. At the time, they’ve already approached me for the renewal of my writing contract. They also wanted my real return to writing via the third of the Laida-Miggy film franchise that I had started in ’08. We had started meeting on it, in fact. A huge project indeed.

But that meeting turned out to be for an even bigger project, personally at least.

In that meeting with Inang, she offered my first feature film directing project.

It was a mere nine days since my MMK episode’s airing (amid preparations for another MMK episode that eventually featured Direk Laurice Guillen and was entitled Tumba-Tumba). It was a Monday. The following days, I frantically attended preprod meetings to finalize the script. On Friday of that same week, I met my lead actress for the first time for her look test.

Six days after, it was a meeting with both my leads-to-be for the story conference.

And finally, two weeks after my meeting with Inang on August 8, with only two script drafts, we broke production.

Three quick short months after, amid hordes of fans and audience’s screams, I was walking down the red carpet beside Sarah Geronimo & Gerald Anderson for the premiere of Won’t Last A Day Without You.


The next day, the film opened in over 120 cinemas over the Philippines, earning PhP20 million on its first day.

***

That summed up my 2011 – certainly a year of many, many, many firsts. And as my dearest friends know, I’m one of the most sentimental people ever. And for someone as self-indulgent and emotional as me, firsts are most important. Tangentially, it contributes to the drive to make myself better, and to reinvent. I’m sure to make milestones out of molehills, and it excites me to no end to embark on another year of filmmaking, if only to see what new firsts will be coming my way.

In light of that, I wanted to make a commitment to remember and be grateful for these anticipated milestones I expect to come my way, if I may be bold and presumptuous. I wanted to relaunch my blog to be a… well, a log of all my experiences working in the film industry. I want it to chiefly be a record of all my feats and failures, a repository of my thoughts and sentiments on what it is like to work in this field I’ve chosen.

As I’m about to embark on another film project, and because I just recently signed up for a screenwriting workshop, and because I’m also working on another episode in MMK (for which I’m about to sign up as one of its regular directors), it feels like the best time to make this renewed commitment to blogging. It may be a little late to be posting an opening blog two months after the year’s commencement, but I wanted to make sure that it mattered when I did.

What finally pushed me, I think, is this new-found confidence and feeling of finally finding rooting in this industry. It took a while before I got here, but I’m here now.

So do watch out for more posts in this space as I try to make it an online journal of what it is like to be a filmmaker in the Philippines.

Here’s to the year that I expect 2012 will become.

Cheers!

This week, I shot my second MMK episode to air within one month. A great opportunity that rarely comes from the show for someone who hasn’t even officially signed on for them yet. I say that not with arrogance but with the humility and gratitude for being so privileged.

When we first met for this, it wasn’t even scheduled for airing yet at the time. A couple of creative meetings after (I should remember to blog about the MMK process), we got all set up for the shoot. I was preoccupied with a scriptwriting workshop (which I must again remember to write about!) that I hadn’t notice I haven’t received any confirmation of details regarding the upcoming shoot. The day before the originally scheduled first shooting day, a Wednesday morning, we had another ocular trip. It was only then that I was told we can’t finish the preps on time and that we’ll have to postpone it for Saturday or the following Monday. Because my workshop was going to end that Saturday, I told them Monday was better for me. They agreed to work around my schedule, but with a surprise reminder that we will be airing the following Saturday. Three days after our second day.

That week has come. We just wrapped our second day of shooting at 6 this morning, Thursday. I’m scheduled to edit the episode later tonight. We’re so rushed that our teaser, which aired last Saturday, didn’t have any clip from the actual episode (I haven’t seen it until now). To help speed up the process, I asked production to send me the pre-edit of our first day materials.

It’s the most pressure I’ve ever felt while shooting for MMK. Even more than I felt while shooting my first ever episode (“Make-Up“). I think this is borne out of the little amount of time we had for preparation, and I’ve always believed that half of a film (or episode) is done before the actual production.

Among the challenges included not having seen the main location, where in we were to tape ten sequences. I had to think of my shots on the set. And because it was our last location, I was really exhausted by then, physically and mentally.

One problem that I never encountered in my past TV shoots which became a source of a lot of stress was getting so much behind schedule that I lost daylight for one of the key locations. It was that main location, the main character’s house. And as I mentioned, because it was our last, it left me no more room to make it up.

As a consequence, many of the scenes that were exterior had to be relocated inside. Some that had to be exterior, I had to cheat and shoot night for day. We didn’t have enough equipment to pull off a successful cheat. We tried, but we could only do so much because the location was in the countryside where the surrounding view consisted mostly of open space.

My opening sequence was also sacrificed. It was intended to establish not only the characters’ space but also the underlying milieu that bore impact on the main character’s journey. Because of delays, I lost all opportunity to get a wide shot of it, whether night or day.

I struggled to maintain continuity in the main location and the succeeding sequences that had been shot in other locations during the day.

I can’t say that we successfully solved our problems during production. At least not against my usual standards. But we certainly did our best and I’m still hoping it comes together well. I’d hate to fail in giving justice to such a wonderful story, and such wonderful performances from my actors!

It just goes to show how demanding television is as a medium, what with its demand to air materials. It’s not really over yet, nor is it time to think the worst is past. I haven’t seen all of the materials yet, but I’m feeling really good about it despite all those challenges. Makes me look forward to see how well we rose to the challenge – and hopefully, I learn enough from this to get better in dealing with the same problems in the future.

Do watch out for MMK on ABS-CBN. Airing this Saturday, February 25, 1930PM!

Last Tuesday, I flooded my friends’ twitter- and news-feeds with unfiltered reactions on the unfolding impeachment trial. It began with me on the fence, my mind saying there should be a conviction, but in my gut, the feeling of uncertainty if it would be the fair outcome for all.

When Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s turn at the podium came, I tweeted:

Sen Miriam goes academic and technical again. Not always welcome, but certainly enlightening and necessary at this point.

The following day, my friend Rey posted this reply to my tweet:

but in hindsight, hindi na’ko bilib. even if it was practically a done deal by the time enrile read his decision, sa kanya ko talaga inangkla kung tama ba’yung impeachment court o hindi.

I answered:

None of the things Sen Miriam elaborated invalidated or contradicted JPE’s naman. In fact, if I remember correctly, the Sen Pres’s summary was rooted in if not merely echoing the proclamations of Sens Miriam & Joker. Only Sen Miriam expressed it academically in such colourful language, and stuck to a prudent adherence that resulted in her vote to acquit. And twas much too verbose in the latter part cause she lost the necessary focus in the end. Still, if you dig through her’s & Arroyo’s speeches (as well as the exceptions in Sens Enrile & Pia… even Villar!) you’d mine nuggets of legal wisdom exposing the political nature of the the majority decision. It also highlighted, I thought, the weaknesses of the young & non-lawyers in the Senate acting as Judges. Kaya the road to being a judge is long & hard – kase it requires wisdom… And fairness!

I love JPE’s sobriety and ability to mix political and legal tenets in justifying his decision to convict – but even his speech makes an obvious acknowledgment that his decision was partly if not mostly based on merits not proven by the prosecution within the impeachment. Good for us that we rid ourselves of a ethically suspect CJ, but I wonder about the politicalising of what ought to be a sacrosanct recourse that is the impeachment. I thought we still were much too liberal in our observance. Conveniently so for our president and all of GMA’s enemies. That PNoy used the entire government to purge the Judiciary of his enemies was not disproved. This only proved it true & made it successful nga, if anything. So what now of equality of the three branches of the government? It’s almost back to Edsa Dos.

Rey replied:

it’s remarkable how jpe, while not invalidating miriam’s points, arrived at the opposite conclusion. miriam may have been a victim of her own brilliant legal mind and experience to acknowledge what is obvious to a “plain, legally untrained, but reasonable mind” (osmena). i thought she was going there when she expounded on what it means that the impeachment court is also “quasi-political.” pati ako na-enlighten sa term niya. “quasi-political” allowed for liberallity, not her exacting “very high standards” honed from years as an rtc judge and soon-to-be international criminal court judge (which she unnecessarily emphasized over and over again.)

that the constitution calls for the senate to be the impeachment court, and not a different body of learned lawyers, means we should not only tolerate non-lawyers sitting as senator judges, but actually celebrate it. that it is good that a lito lapid, a mere high school graduate’s simplest understanding of the proceedings is given equal weight to that of jpe (who never harped that in his 40-year career as criminal & corporate lawyer has not lost a single case).

for all its supposed liberality, i don’t think it went as far as becoming a mock trial with a fixed outcome, as some camps accuse. questionable evidence and testimony were called out. that pnoy used the entire government was not proved, either. in the first place, an impeachment trial is a function of our government, and it will have to arise when one or two branches of government feels the need to question a co-equal branch. the fact that this was done through the process is a healthy sign, incomparable to the padlocking of the legislative and judicial buildings when marcos declared martial law. equality does not mean idle tolerance of another’s incompetence. that the judiciary and the senate did not let malacanang have its way without giving cj a fighting chance is a good sign.

the whole proceedings disgusted me with how lawyers could wield technicalities to justify a wrong, but in the end, i gained a newfound respect for them and the beauty of the law. especially its function in a democratic set-up, where the welfare of the people takes precedence, and it is their will that makes the powerful but intangible dimension in an impeachment proceeding. it is not as much about “the ruin of a life” (defensor-santiago) as much as it is about the official’s burden to prove to his people his fitness to hold a public post.

The funny thing is despite the amusement I find in Sen. Miriam’s demeanor and hysterics, I don’t actually think it’s becoming of a Senator-Justice, in the same way that it is disappointing for the Prosecution to be lazy and subpar, in the same way it is unthinkable for the defense to be calling a witness hostile to their case and have no control of the defendant’s testimony which became his own undoing. But after the dust has settled, Sen. Miriam’s points remain valid. I am unconvinced the liberality taken in the other Sen-Judges’ contradicting decision is enough to overturn her arguments. I said:

Ako naman, I try to always remember that impeachment is THE most extreme recourse, thus the requirement for MOST exacting standards. I call for the exact opposite nga. PRUDENCE and DILIGENCE in favor of LIBERALITY.

Because it is already enshrined in the nature of an impeachment that Senators and Congressmen, who are not necessarily trained legally, are able to act as judges, then we must be most careful and critical of the judicial proceedings. As it rests, the judgment will be INHERENTLY POLITICAL – because the judges are not trained in the judiciary. They will be required to interpret laws and hear legal arguments when their function is to make them. And not all of them even have the competency to do that, let alone act as a judge. That alone sufficiently covers the quasi-political nature of the Impeachment proceeding. That’s why it has been mentioned by Miriam or Enrile I think that they must aspire to conduct it like a criminal proceeding akin to a court of law. Because we should at the very least make it as judicious as possible in conducting the proceedings.

I agree that it should be celebrated that a politician like Lapid can be made equal to a brilliant legal mind like Enrile. Kaya nga what would then justify this as an exercise in democracy, and not a day at the circus, is the EXACTING conduct of the proceedings – so that even a simple man like Lapid can be made to grasp the results of the proceedings without partiality.

Even now, I am frustrated that the prosecution was not able to definitively assail the claim of good faith by the defense. I felt that that’s what was necessary in deciding once and for all when the declaration of SALN, or failure thereof, constitutes culpability as defined by the articles of impeachment. Like you, I needed the CJ to prove his fitness to hold his position. Beyond all doubt. And this was the chance, I thought. But none of it was conclusive – and the legal questions remained unanswered, except upon the liberal interpretation of the senator judges. And this is to be the basis of future Impeachment proceedings? Therein lies the danger. It should’ve been based on judicial principles.

Yes, I too didn’t believe that he acted in good faith. But this is not a mere domestic argument where uncanny instinct, like Sen Lacson’s, is all that you rely on. You must prove it to beyond all doubt, regardless of how obvious it seems. Why? Because this is a Chief Justice we are trying to impeach. Someone who, as much as a corrupt president had a hand in his appointment, was also subjected to strict scrutiny by various commissions and agencies of the government before he was arrived at the topmost position of the Judiciary, and brings with him years of experience and qualification. Let’s flip the case of Delsa Flores. If you can be this liberal in the interpretation of the law in application to a case against a Chief Justice, then what more for an ordinary person? That’s the dangerous implication I fear for our judiciary.

Ako rin naman, I also wouldn’t go as far as saying it was a MOCK trial, but I still feel that many of the judges’ decision were not credible, sound or competent. Which could be mean to read, again, that it was mostly political. I’m not privy to the goings on behind the Senates’ closed doors to make a comfortable conclusive judgement on that, but that I will not be able to admonish those who would interpret it as such.

I disagree that PNoy’s use of the government machinery to push for this impeachment was not proved. I think that’s precisely what the Sen-Judges meant, especially Enrile, when they harshly called out the hastily prepared impeachment at the Congress, and the inefficient prosecution, as well as the drop of the other articles of impeachment. Because it is known that the Palace pushed for it. In fact, the palace itself had admitted at some point that it had prepared this impeachment.

Maybe it was not comparable to the situations during Martial Law, but it is leads dangerously to the path of disproportionate power distribution that reflects the situation back in Marcos’ regime. When it was the executive who was able to impress and act on its desires despite the haste and subversion of the necessary processes.

Between the errors in interpreting the Impeachment as quasi-political versus quasi-judicial, I would always choose to err on the latter. Someone said it yesterday, and it does ring true. The end does not justify the means, sabi nga paulit ulit (though the senators sometimes use it erroneously to justify some of their uninformed conclusions). People like me wouldn’t be discomfited by the decision if all the players in this impeachment proceeding, from the filing to the litigation to the judgement, all acted with diligence and prudence. Naturally, the burden is higher for the prosecution – it is to be expected! In saying all this, it’s not the technicalities that I defend, but the pressure on the prosecution to do its job in proving the guilt of the CJ – and not in the court of public opinion, but in the Impeachment. Because it was not impossible to do so! They simply needed to exercise, again, prudence and diligence. Because it is precisely the abuse of power, of the system, and of the consenting bystanders we are preventing above all. It is not justice when it is done at the expense of anyone – even a criminal.

Rey concluded by saying:

heto na lang… all your concerns were practically raised by jpe. they did not escape his scrutinizing legal mind. and weighing everything, he still found it PRUDENT to convict.

because the chief justice’s very words (arguments and justifications) were found unacceptable. and enrile, choosing between upholding “quasi-judicial” standards and “forming sound social policy,” thought it best to overlook IMPORTANT lacks from the side of the prosecution (let’s not forget he pointed out mistakes from the defense – perhaps borne out of the confidence that the persecution weren’t really performing up to par), so he may focus on the forest rather than the trees.

I agree that we must not get lost in the details in our search for truth and pursuit of justice. That’s why I’m able to accept the Senate’s decision for the most part. Because they echoed my sentiment against abuses of power.

So I tried to leave it at that even if I didn’t agree with my friend that JPE’s choice was between upholding judicial standards and forming social policy. In this particular case, it is careless to interpret that the former is diametric to the other. In fact, one might even argue that it is so parallel to each other that to compromise judicial standards is to institute an unsound social policy – a society at the whimsical mercy of politics and personalities. Rule of law, from which judicial standards spring, seek to maintain social order and equality.

I also didn’t agree that JPE’s decision to convict was an act of prudence. Quite the opposite. It was political – though I acknowledge it seemed borne out of wisdom, careful academic scrutiny, and good intention. (What did they say about the road to hell again?)

But a couple of days after, I still felt ill at ease about the results of the impeachment. I kept wondering, isn’t it precisely the folly of seeing the trees for the forest when we choose to justify a flawed judgement. Again, I am reminded: the end does not justify the means. Good intentions paving roads don’t always lead you to St. Peter’s doorstep.

So today, I tweeted:

Still haunted by the possible bill of attainder implication of the recent impeachment. I hope history’ll be kind & prove our politics wiser.

My friend Lea asked what I meant. In crafting my answer, it helped me articulate and put a shape to this nagging feeling. In my admittedly insufficiently informed understanding of the law, I feebly explained:

Bill of attainder? If I remember correctly, it’s like when Congress then Senate passes a law that makes a crime out of something that was previously legal. Meaning, in this case, the articles of impeachment does not explicitly define an erroneous declaration of the SALN as an Impeachable offense. Especially when the law provides as remedy for it a mere “correction” – begging the question, how come we are now impeaching a CJ because of an error? Our Senator-Judges in majority have decided to make a fresh interpretation that when you’re a CJ, a mere correction is not enough. You must be IMPEACHED, whereas that was not what the Constitution, or any law, explicitly said before.

The dangerous implication is that, in theory, an ‘innocent’ person was suddenly convicted for an act that NO ONE could’ve known was a CRIME after all because previously, nothing in the law said that it was a crime, much less, an impeachable offense – the gravest category of sin for a public official.

The ‘innocent’ adjective there is arguable – because we don’t really know for sure if the CJ was innocent. And therein lies my biggest discomfort about the outcome. In my own lay interpretation of the proceedings, the evidence, the news features and articles, I actually do think it’s incredulous for him to have amassed US$2.4. And when he didn’t declare it, to me, it did make him suspect of corruption or some wrong doing.

But that’s exactly what the impeachment proceeding and the Prosecution must have ascertained or clarified for me. Did that money came from wrong-doing? The answer would then put a context to Corona’s admission of the undeclared dollar account. Meaning, they should’ve tried finding out the reasons and motivation for hiding such huge dollar accounts. Whether he hid it because that wealth was acquired through an abuse of his power as a public official (BAD FAITH), or whether he simply chose not to declare it because he had the right not to declare it under the FCDU Law (GOOD FAITH). Like what I said in my previous tweets / posts, my frustration is that Corona’s claim of GOOD FAITH was not conclusively or definitively assailed. I agree that it sounds like a “palusot” – but they did not prove it to be truly palusot.

If they proved that Corona acted in bad faith because the source of that money was illegal – then yes! I agree WITHOUT ANY DOUBT that his choice to interpret the FDCU law in his favour, which he uses to justify the concealment of dollar accounts, was in fact a willful act of omission that sought to hide his corruption or abuse of power. That would then elevate this omission to something tantamount to an IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE.

Kase, even me, I’m thinking, if I were public official now, and I had dollar accounts, and I had the right not to declare it, I would CONSIDER not declaring them. Not because I’ve been engaged in illegal activities, but mostly because I’d cling on to what little privacy I am legally allowed to hang on to considering that a career in public office already requires us to divest ourselves of most if not all of that privacy. And we all have a right to privacy. And I would want to keep private some of the affairs that do not impact on my function or life as a public officer because that knowledge of my private affairs can be used both a) to achieve transparency that would ensure my credibility & trustworthiness, and b) as ammunition for political enemies who wish to do me wrong. Because it is a fact that in politics, you gain enemies even if you do nothing wrong. Heroes and villains are interchangeable roles. It is but the nature of politics.

If marijuana was legal, so far as it is used for medical purposes… Then someone who had the prescription for marijuana took hits not because he or she was in pain, but in celebration of another friend’s finding out that his cancer has gone to remission, who himself had a marijuana prescription. Absent, then, of the medical precondition allowing for legal use of the organic drug, will these people be deemed guilty of a crime? Because they used it socially, for fun, instead of for the alleviation of pain? Guilty, even if they have been accorded the right to procure and use it? Guilty, and deserving of the punishment in its maximum?

Of course, that’s a very elementary way of putting it, nowhere close to mirroring the complex history and implications of an impeachment. But I use that analogy only to emphasize how such judicial principle could apply to a civilian. For if this is to be done to an honorable Chief Justice, how could it apply to a mere Delsa Flores (the clerk of court who was impeached). People have been making mention of Ms Flores without due reflection if her fate was service of justice. Perhaps, as what may have happened with CJ Corona, she too was inequitably punished?

Kase what happened just now is that, in effect, what they’re saying is, because Corona admitted to hiding it, that makes him guilty of an IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE. I think they are forgetting that a run-of-the-mill offense and an impeachable offense are two separate things, so far separated as to be on opposite sides of the Pacific. Because an impeachment would not only remove you from your current public office, but bar you from holding another one. In Corona’s case, the impeachment doesn’t only stain his reputation and record as a public servant, it has a damning effect of discrediting his life work in its entirety.

Sure, if proven to have made an omission, then correct it, punish him EQUITABLY for that omission, then make sure that NO public official can make the same omission or CLAIM to have merely been neglectful in the inaccurate declaration of their SALNs.

How to do that last bit?

I wonder if, perhaps, much as it would mean keeping the CJ in his position as head of the Supreme Court because of this ‘omission,’ the Impeachment should’ve resulted in an acquittal because that is what was JUST for CJ. And then, it could’ve proceeded to a) an amendment of that Constitutional provision (a complicated process as it requires a ConCon of course), b) an amendment of the relevant laws like the SALN law, or c) new legislation that explicitly states that henceforth, all public officials must NOW declare ALL their assets, including their foreign currency accounts, despite the FCDU law.

This is what Senators Joker, Bongbong & Miriam were saying, I think, in so many words. I wonder more in more if they were the wiser.

JPE eloquently defended upholding the spirit of the law. I am most certainly all for that, but I feel that upholding the spirit of the law applies both in protecting the aggrieved and the accused. That we can dispense of the proof requirement in an impeachment proceeding because it is quasi-political does not mean we should, in my opinion. I’m afraid that when judges decided to convict on a case where they admit to the prosecution’s failure to convict beyond doubt, with evidence whose procurement is possibly extra-legal and authenticity unproved, they in effect tipped the balance of power in favour of a ruling majority. In this case, in favour of the Executive that controls the Legislative branch because of partisan politics. What would then prevent them from persecuting other perceived enemies who may simply be on the wrong side of the fence but may be innocent of the charges being hurled against them? I’m afraid that’s what the bill of attainder gives way to. It’s the kind of lopsided balance of power that gave way to a dictatorship in the past.

To me, when the judges allowed that, it raised doubts about their discernment & probity. In this case against Corona, I did not think it was impossible to lodge a confident impeachment complaint and present a credible, determinative case. To convict based on a deficient case is to, as they say, “open the floodgates” to other problems impacting on our democracy which the Judges also needed to look out for. If only the court was composed of more JPE’s, Miriams, Jokers, Lady Cayetanos and less of the other ones, then perhaps it would’ve been a healthier, more comprehensive debate that resulted in a more credible decision.

Since I am not a lawyer, there must be a million and one ways my view on the matter has been skewed by my peculiar biases and inadequate study of the issues. Mine is a civilian, possibly short-sighted expression of thoughts I can’t help saying because I remain bothered by it. On this, I want nothing more than for someone to help me understand that all my fears are for naught. This being another impeachment, it resurrects many unresolved issues from Edsa Dos. Much as I remain proud of having supported the protests in 2002, in hindsight, after it divided the nation and extra-constitutionally installed a new leader who amassed so much power that she was able to corrupt the elections in such massive scale, I don’t think I’d be as tolerant about any relaxation on the rule of law.

Below is a copy of the Cinema Evaluation Board’s comments when it granted our film “Grade B,” which entitles movie companies a 65% rebate on the amusement tax levied on their productions.

Film Development Council of the Philippines
CINEMA EVALUATION BOARD
Summation of CEB members’ comments on
“WON’T LAST A DAY WITHOUT YOU”
Grade: B
ABS-CBN Film Productions, Inc. / Viva Communications, Inc.

WON’T LAST A DAY WITHOUT YOU is yet another light and fluffy youth romance film starring Sarah Geronimo for the Star-Viva partnership. It garners a ‘B’ nevertheless despite “the very thin storyline” because newbie Director Raz Dela Torre successfully and deftly delivers an interesting, entertaining and charming film.

Dela Torre’s direction is “competent and adequately confident for a new director; he has good pacing and he has respectful treatment of the individual capabilities of his cast.” “Despite the simple, almost simplistic material, the Director is able to pull it off.” The movie is “very well done; the comedy flows freely and nicely.”

“The story, while formulaic, has that cheery, youthful appeal and the characters are realistic enough.” The family of the pa-forma father Pablo (perfectly played by the engaging Joey de Leon), abandoned by his wife, is such a refreshing change from the picture-perfect families other scriptwriters might be tempted to create. Pablo’s “rocker” persona and his ability to bond with his three daughters are notable.

Screenplay is “good, with creative and resourceful handling of essentially soap opera material.” The characters of George, Pablo and DJ Ram are endearing and very believable.

Editing is “brisk and emphatic without being annoyingly so.” The film has “good pacing, but some scenes seem to be telegraphed” while other scenes could have been shorter. The cinematography and production design are good and “glossy as usual.” The musical score is “very intrusive in a lot of parts.” The music, “though effective, calls attention to itself.” The sound is “very competently done and properly disciplined, though the dubbing in some parts could have been more accurate.”

“The principal cast is very good; they are true to the characters they are playing.” While some Board members wrote that there is “strong chemistry” between the two leads, it is Sarah Geronimo who gets the praises from the Board.

Here are the comments about her: “Sarah is cute and convincing.” “Sarah continues to impress with her fresh, bubbly performance; she fits her character to a ‘T.’ “ “Sarah is an effective actor; you can see the emotions clearly on her face — sans dialogue — whether she is anxious, joyful, thrilled, tormented, anticipating or in pain.” In this film, “Sarah is as cooky as Goldie Hawn and as winsome as Meg Ryan. As an actress and comedienne, she has improved a 110%!”

However, having said all that, the reviewers thought that Sarah can leave behind her usual cute and perky characters. She might be typecast in this role forever. She’s been there and done that so many times before. But since this is a formula that has won for her and her producers a number of box office hits in the past, perhaps her studios are reluctant to break the mold and make her tackle meatier roles. “Sarah is good, but she should be given more challenging roles.” “Sarah is effortless and delightful as DJ Heidi/ George but there is the danger that she may outgrow these roles soon.”

Then, there is great support from John Lapus and Joey de Leon. “John Lapus is very effective and his quiet moments show his sensitive feel for the role.” “John is restrained here and is different from his previous films.” Meanwhile, “Joey de Leon is a joy to watch.” “Joey is perfect for the role.”  “Sarah, Joey and John keep the movie afloat.”

Finally, the following are more comments about the film:
“It is a kilig film, so the main actors try to be cute.”
“The film is juvenile but fun.”
“The film is a light hearted romance best when not shown in February because it is
less self-conscious.”
“It’s so light, I’m floating…it shows an unpretentious depiction of people falling in
love.”
“The direction is surprisingly impressive, considering the director is practically
unknown.”
“There is the novel use of behind-the scenes radio drama segueing into a reality show
in real time.”
“The plot is hackneyed…what could have been a commentary on reality radio turns
into a run-of-the-mill comedy.”
“Excellent climax that highlight the power of radio!”
“Film’s ending and the play-up of the Pinoy’s amusing penchant as usiseros are much
appreciated.”

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