Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Viewer’s Take: Short Review of “Dalawang Ama” and “Sekend” Presentations

The junior communications students from the school where I work came up with two projects for their theater and film classes.* These two turned out to be good presentations although there were some points in which improvements could be made. A personal question just cropped up in my mind: why put this in Back Trails? First off, the first part concerns a creation of our national hero while the second concerns a theme of socio-cultural and historical (albeit contemporary) interests.

* "Dalawang Ama" poster
Dalawang Ama
“Dalawang Ama” is a play that dwells on the “what if” theme. The story revolves around the day (or night as the play has portrayed it) Doña Pia of the famed Noli Me Tangere gave birth to her daughter Maria Clara. The play attempts to answer the question: what if we could be able to see this part not explicitly written in the Noli? The central character in the play, Padre Damaso, is caught between his role as a religious adviser to the de los Santos family and the (secret) fact that he is the father of the yet unborn child. Kapitan Tiyago also appeared in the play. Seemingly thrown into an existential dilemma, he grappled for clarifications for Pia’s clamors for forgiveness about the child when in the fact, they have wanted to have a child of their own for so long. Padre Damaso’s all too obvious concern and anxiety about Pia’s labor is offset by the comical lines of the family’s yaya (a family relative based on the play) who had almost forced poor Padre Damaso into confessing the “truth.”
The short play is beautiful in the sense that it gave us a glimpse into a gray area of the Noli, a part in the novel which Jose Rizal chose not to detail.

* "Sekend" poster

The short film “Sekend” draws inspiration from an energy drink commercial showing a boy chasing a paper containing the outline of the size of his foot. The plot is basically a shared dream between two brothers who both wanted to win a pair of shoes from a local race. Earlier in the film, it was shown that they had to share a pair of shoes to go to school. As the film progressed, the situation of the brothers’ family was shown – how they had to fix the lone pair of shoes they are using and how they attempted to help their mother by collecting junk so that they can buy their food.
The older brother draws inspiration from his younger sibling as he went to participate in the race. His motivation seemed to have exceeded his goals that he eventually won the first prize instead of the second prize in which the new pair of shoes was at stake. The film ends with the two brothers crying, the older one clutching his new bicycle while eyeing the new pair of shoes.
The film was touching to a certain extent for it sends out a message that not all the best things in life are the ones that people seek. Sometimes, even the next best thing proves to be only thing that one desires. In the closing part, a data snippet was shown about poverty where children are mostly involved.

* The presentations were shown as part of the ARt-RIBA FESTIVAL held at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Calamba on March 16-18, 2011. | “Dalawang Ama”: written by Mr. Jose Victor Z. Torres, directed by Mr. Bart Andrew S. Mendoza | “Sekend”: produced by the third-year AB COMM students of Colegio de San Juan de Letran Calamba | written and directed by Mr. Bart Andrew S. Mendoza.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The City Government's Effort to Save the Alberto House in Biñan, Laguna

* view of the Alberto House sala; photo taken by Arnaldo Arnaiz of With One's Past blog; it is probable that the stairs on the lower left potion of the photograph is no longer there

I have been monitoring the discussions being made by an online friend Kuya Arnaldo in his blog With One's Past (The Alberto house in Biñan, Update on the Alberto House of Binan, The Fight for the Alberto House of Binan, The Alberto’s and Binan) regarding the Alberto House found in the city proper of Biñan, Laguna. This house was once the home of Jose Rizal's mother, Doña Teodora Alonso. The issue has always been the supposedly sale of the 200-year-old house to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. This could have meant the transfer of the house to a heritage resort in Bagac, Bataan. I was personally anxious in thinking that I would not be able to see the house. We once visited the city of Biñan but I only had a passing glance to this ancestral house.

As I skimmed through the pages of today's issue of Philippine Daily Inquirer ("In Biñan, money matters in fight to keep house of Rizal mom" PDI Vol. 26, No. 107, Friday March 25, 2011), I found a good news bit about the fate of the Alberto House. The city government of Biñan is willing to shell out 20 million pesos for the purchase and eventual maintenance of the house. But then there are a number of issues to be dealt with first: the negotiations with Gerardo Alberto, the current owner of the house, the expropriation processes, among other. There is little to save from it says the reports but we must hope for the best. The success of the government taking over the ownership and/or maintenance of the house would be a good add-on to the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Jose Rizal this year.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Celebrating the 150th Birth Anniversary of Jose Rizal

* the template for the Rizal@150 Streamer; downloadable at the NHCP website

The activities are already line up for the celebration of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal. Campaigns materials are already disseminated and used such as the ubiquitous pins. The calendar of activities for the year-long celebration can be read and downloaded at the website of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (formerly National Historical Institute).

Monday, March 21, 2011

World Poetry Day

Poetry has a thousand faces and always springs from the depths of the culture of peoples.
Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

I have just chanced upon the news that today is World Poetry Day. I wish I could write a poem before the day ends. You can read the full text of the message of the UNESCO Director General here.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Remembering General Paciano Rizal

The birthday of General Paciano Rizal may have passed by without the pomp usually accorded to the celebration of the birthday of his brother Jose Rizal, but this I think what fits most for General Paciano. And that is simplicity. For even while still living, he has always chosen to act behind the main stage (as in the case of helping the young Jose Rizal fulfill his academic endeavors aboard by financing his stay there).

It was in this context of simplicity that a program in commemoration of the general was held in his lakeside home in Los Baños-Bayan, Laguna last March 9. This was organized by the Arts Research and Training Institute in Southern Tagalog, Inc. (or ARTIST, Inc.). Entitled Sa Bahay ng Heneral: Pagpupugay kay Heneral Paciano Rizal”, this two-part activity consisted of a workshop for kids in the afternoon. The evening, which was made cozy by the simple set-up and the cold March winds blowing from Laguna de Bay, was spent on theater musical performances.

The three presentations I was able to watch were: 1) “Mahika ni Yaya, a second look into the infamous yaya of Jose Rizal; 2) “Ang Heneral”, a short life story presentation of Paciano Rizal; and 3) “Pepe’s Wall”, a play re-imagining the last days of Rizal set in the era of computer games especially DOTA. There was a last presentation but we were not able to watch it as we had to leave already.

Between these presentations were musical performances of Kalantog (and a group called CLAP although I do not recall them). Ma’am Ricamela Palis was one of the performers who is also from the school where I am currently working. Mr. Edward Perez was the emcee, a known theater director in the Laguna area.

Overall, the program was good especially knowing that some of the descendants of Paciano Rizal were there.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My First History Research Paper

I have loved written words (or typewritten/computerized ones) since I was in the fourth grade. And I think this passion moved me to write my own, however naively. Science papers, poetry, essays. Even just the thought of writing any one of them fires me up. Drafts? I love drafts. Especially if those drafts find their way into printed and published forms.

And such is the story of my first history research paper, the core motivation of which was to learn more about a particular period in our city’s history. The published material is a reward in itself. It fuels me to do more, to dig more about our city’s past.

But beyond the personal gratification, my inspirations must not be forgotten. Two individuals witnessed my labor for this one, and for that I am grateful for seeing through my desire to work on this history-related paper. This work is for them.

The joy of the moment is here but we must move on: back to research work!

(See the paper at E-Journals.ph here entitled Familia Guerilla: Ang Pamilya Eseo at mga Pagbabagong Panlipunan sa Lunsod ng San Pablo, Laguna Noong Ikalawang Digmaang Pandaigidig.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Revisiting the Town of Candelaria, Quezon

* some of the houses we saw in our Candelaria revisit

I am still wondering why I did not find those huge houses we visited the first night that we came to Candelaria. Well, they might have been demolished or my spatial memory might not have been in its perfect form when we returned to look at the houses of Candelaria.

* entrance arc of the Tayabas Western Academy, founded 1926

* a monument/marker for President Manuel Quezon who planted the narra tree seen in the background

* the façade of the Candelaria town hall

The revisit, despite the searing heat of the noon, gave us a treat. Some of the houses we saw where recently constructed, that is during the last five or six decades. No more of those Spanish time houses, excepting perhaps the big house along the main highway (which I really want to acquire). I can still sense a rural feel intermixed with the buzzing of the town proper.

* a (now rusting) gun on top of a monument, erected during the 30th anniversary of the Bataan Day on April 9, 1973

* another monument, most likely connected to the commemoration of those who died during World War II; the words read: “Sana’y manatili ang kapayapaan sa daigdig” or “May peace prevail on earth”

* a typical monument in remembrance of the Filipino guerillas during World War II

* a Rizal monument fronting the Candelaria town hall

In the end, we still failed to find the Del Valle Tower which, according to the information I obtained, was made during the Spanish times. I’m looking forward in seeing and taking a picture of it. A third revisit will be good.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Revisiting Candelaria’s St. Peter the Baptist Church

* a semi-side-view of the façade of St. Peter the Baptist Church; the general features resemble those of the church found in Ibaan, Batangas

Christmas vacation is long gone and the summer break looks back at us, enticing us to enjoy the coming months of sultry days and lots of opportunities to enjoy ourselves (read: beaches, beaches, and beaches). But the Christmas break did not just pass by without us enjoying it. The province of Quezon has been our target of exploration during the cold December days. And it was only fitting to revisit the town of Candelaria, the town which sparked my passion for Spanish period houses (see my musing about those houses here).

I have earlier visited St. Peter the Baptist Church after a short visit to San Juan, Batangas (see the entry here) but I was not able to fully see the interior as a mass was being held at that time. The inside is unsurprisingly modern for the façade is already a recent construction too.

Two key places that I took note of was the Baptistery (I remember entering into an argument whether the proper word was baptistery or baptistry) and the outer patio found just adjacent to the church hall.

* the baptistery inside the St. Peter the Baptist Church

* a depiction of Jesus with two of his disciples found on an outer patio in St. Peter the Baptist Church

At the foot of the baptistery is a date inscription: April 15, 1960. Although it was not cleared whether it was the date when it was constructed, it seemed to me that it is the obvious thing to assume. A marker on the wall is more informative. The said baptistery was blessed by The Most Rev. Emilio Z. Marquez D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Lucena on January 31, 2009. It might be important to note also that the parish priest at that time was Msgr. Carlos Pedro A. Herrera, E.V.

The patio I was alluding to (which to me was more of a court) contains a small area for a sculpture depicting Jesus and two of his disciples as they catch fishes. There is also a small bookshop on the other side. The place made an impression to me because it was the place where an Emralino met his death, former Candelaria Mayor David Emralino. I have just gone through my saved files about him and a news article said that he was gunned down near the guard house found as one enter the said patio.

* a photograph of Bishop Alfredo Ma. Obviar found within the patio of the church

Finally, let me share here some information about a revered church servant in Quezon which I got from inside the church. His name was Bishop Alfredo Ma. Obviar (1889-1978). He was a clergy from Lipa and became eventually the first bishop of the Diocese of Lucena (where the St. Peter the Baptist Church is also a part). He was also the founder of the Missionary Catechist of St. Therese.

During my first revisit to Candelaria, I was quite puzzled not to see those big houses that I saw when we first went there. I was still not able to track them again but I did see some huge houses in the area just behind the church. That would be the topic of my next entry.