Ang Nasa Kokote ni Karen

The myth of Filipinos being “matulungin”

Hand Reaching

I was in Megamall earlier when I stopped by Chris Sports to look at their exercise bikes. After canvasing the prices, I began walking out of the store but then suddenly fell from an approximately 3-inch platform. I was on all fours wincing in pain for about a minute then stood up shakily. I have week knees and I’m prone to such accidents. This particular accident however disgusted me. There were quite a number of people in the store and not one single person offered any help nor asked if I was okay when I stood up. Even the salesperson who earlier assisted me just stood silently as I told him that they should put warning signs about the platform lest it cause more accidents. After telling him that, I left the store sorely and procedeed to do my errands.

As I was walking, I began thinking why nobody offered any help or showed even the remotest sign of concern. Are Filipinos so cold now that they only help others when it affects them personally or there’s a major disaster. I’ve heard of mugging cases when there were witnesses but they were just that, witnesses. Filipinos are known for being “matulungin,” right? Or is that just a myth? Guiltily, when I help other people, it’s usually coursed through charity work but when there are signs of danger, I freeze up and become one of those mute witnesses. Why is this? What happened to us? Is our sense of self preservation hindering us from helping our fellowmen?

When I tripped and fell in Europe, so many strangers were concerned about me. They even wanted to call an ambulance. Here I’m lucky if someone offers a hand so I can stand up. I hope I am wrong about how I see our helpfulness. I don’t want to think badly about our race but my experiences say otherwise.

Rock Supremo: Heroes are human too

I came to the Silliman Luce Auditorium with hardly any expectation except that I will be watching something about the life of Andres Bonifacio. When I exited, I had goosebumps all over and pining for a chance to watch it again.

Rock Supremo is a joint project of RockEd Philippines, Ballet Philippines, and the National Historic Commission of the Philippines. RockEd tapped local musicians to come up with songs with Ka Andres in mind, musicians such as SandwichPeryodikoEbe Dancel, and Gloc-9  among others. Since not much is known about the facts of the Supremo‘s life, the bands created songs as how they imagined Andres was when he was still alive. They presented Andres as human and not just a hero. He fell in love, was betrayed by his best friend, had moments of cowardice, etc. just someone as human as we are.

The songs the artists created were put into choreography and a cohesive stage performance by Ballet Philippines. I don’t think this has ever been attempted before in the history of Ballet Philippines. The approach to the choreography is modern. Raw even. It’s as far from classical as I’ve ever seen with the dancers changing costumes on stage, pirouettes and other moves not perfectly in synch, and there’s a big video screen as part of the backdrop. The overall effect was four-dimensional with the whole audio-visual modern approach and the presentation of the facets of Andres Bonifacio’s humanity.

It is my wish to watch Rock Supremo again, this time with the bands performing live. I regret not watching when that happened at CCP. It’s a blessing that I was to catch it in Dumaguete. I’ve grown to appreciate even more our OPM, ballet, and our heroes. Somehow, I can now relate more to Andres Bonifacio and I “know” more about his life, imagined it may be.

A captive of Captive

Gritty, in-your-face, a mirror of Philippine society. These are some of the words I associate with Brilliante Mendoza’s films. This director doesn’t mollycoddle the viewers that’s for sure. He paints reality as how he sees it – no more, no less – and hopes that by showing the ugly reality, his films would somehow serve as a vehicle for change.

Captive is no different from his other films. The 2 and a half hour film is based on the Dos Palmas kidnapping of missionaries and Filipinos by the Abu Sayyaf group more than a decade ago. Most of the events in the film really happened, about 25% were added for dramatic purposes and to help the story move but they’re mostly fictional characters and scenes. One of the fictional characters is Therese Bourgoine, played by French actress Isabelle Huppert, whose perspective it is we watch. Bourgoine is a missionary who was abducted together with her motherly companion Anita Linda, two other foreign missionaries, and tourists of Dos Palmas Resort. The story progresses with ransoms paid, captives freed, captives killed, and even a Stockholm syndrome which was surprising but actually happened between a tourist and one of the Abu Sayyaf bandits back in 2001. Brilliante Mendoza used many of his staple actors like Ronnie Lazaro, Coco Martin, Sid Lucero, etc. The acting wasn’t stellar for some however because they were overshadowed by Huppert and the more commanding Raymond Bagatsing and Ronnie Lazaro.

The film made me squirm the whole time as Brilliante captured the harsh realities of kidnap-for-ransom, religious fanaticism, terrorism, and the government’s indifference neigh shady cooperation with the kidnappers for a share of the ransom money because these facts are hard to swallow, but in the back of the Filipinos’ collective mind, they all ring true.

What amazed me about Captive is Brilliante’s research on what really transpired that ghastly 18 months and how he was able to show as much details in the 25 days he shot the film. That’s saying a lot about how talented and organized he is. My film experiences scream that such a film is impossible to shoot in 25 days but Briliante was able to do so. Not only that, he made everything seem believable. I thought the film was shot in Basilan but he admitted to us that the locations were in Batangas and Quezon.

Captive will premiere at SM Pampanga, Brilliante Mendoza’s hometown, on September 2, 2012. There will also be a Manila gala premiere in Greenbelt 3 the next day. Regular screening at SM Cinemas and Greenbelt will begin on September 5, 2012.