Monday, July 21, 2008

Coming and Going


I’m back. To where?

It presupposes a situs of sorts: a physical home, an emotional nest, a place of security. I always think that I’m back after unpacking my travel bag, distributing the little pasalubongs to family, pasting the metro and museum tickets in my journal, organizing the pictures, finding a place for the new mementos from the place visited (which has come down recently—as a result of the plummeting peso—to refrigerator magnets and self-sent postcards), sending e-mail notes to hosts and new friends in between bursts of attentiveness within periods of jet lag. From experience, I’m never back until my clothes have come back from the laundry and I’ve checked the scales and definitely know I’ve gained weight.

I’m back to the good news that the Virgin Labfest was an astounding success with records broken at the box office and thespian heights scaled by the number of de-virginized plays. Not surprisingly, the gay-themed play set were sold out first. I’m still laughing out loud from Rogelio Braga’s play with a kilometric title about an NGO gay worker and a straight muslim in a habal-habal. I wish they’d reprise that set double billed with Floy Quintos’ Kalungkutan ng Mga Reyna, his homage to the Queen of The Good, The True and The Beautiful. Many have also been asking for additional performance dates for Debbie Tan’s Ms. Too Bright. Characteristically, Layeta Bucoy’s Las Mentiras de Gloria elicited gasps of shock. But, really, we enjoyed her affront to bourgeois sensibility. I've also been closely following Alan Lopez's works at the VLF. He's been consistently submitting plays that are experimental; almost anarchic. I'm looking forward to the day when his plays are paired with a director who will clarify the text instead of befuddling it more.

I know I’m back because of the work pile. And I’m procrastinating. Instead of working on back log and reports of the conference I attended, I’ve skidded to Cinemalaya to jostle for tickets to one of the best batches of the alternative cinema festival. I’ve wormed my way to the new Batman movie franchise, too. But just to be different, I refuse to comment on Heath Ledger’s “dark” acting. Instead, I’ve been raving about Julian Duque’s endearing performance as a boy ash-tray to his father’s sadistic hate in Boses. I am amazed how this Ellen Marfil film (written by Rody Vera and Froi Medina) managed to incorporate an advocacy with melodrama elements and high brow classical music. I’ve also been raving about Paul Morales’ Concerto. It tackles the indefatigable spirit of a family surviving the Davao hinterlands during the dark days of the Kempetai with memories of music to sustain them. Ms. Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino is, as usual, effortless grace. One of my other favorites is Ned Trespeces’ My Fake American Accent, a hilarious, almost satirical poke at the call center culture made human and accessible by the deceptively subtle direction. If you’re used to the technical polish of the other big budget indie films, My Fake…, will appear crude. But it’s this improvisational, done-in-my-backyard-with friends quality that makes this movie relevantly unpretentious and engaging. Watch out for the scene with the holdaper. I was pensively amused with Chris Martinez's 100. It was sleek and a tad product placement oriented. But Eugene Domingo is freshly comic as Lapid's chicharon. And Mylene Dizon is so cinematically alluring--so much so that I couldn't believe she, as the character, had cancer. The awards are out. And so are the catty remarks. Ha!

And finally, I know that I’m completely back, not only because I’m rushing to another meeting while outlining a report in my head, but because, more importantly, I’ve been hugged, kissed and cuddled in the right places for the past two straight nights. Groggy-eyed, but satisfied. I can truly say, I’ve, uhm, come and am back.

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