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"Did she always have something to read in front of her,
so that she wouldn't have to look at anything
else?"

(Jonathan Safran Foer)

I feel like a loser.

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Most probably because, I am one.

Sigh. I got rejected today. Well, okay. Last Monday? (A part of me is wondering, does that really matter? Well, no. Like this blog post, it doesn't. Nothing does.)

Somehow, I feel so blah and empty. I always like to believe that if I work hard, it'll happen.

But strangely (perversely?), nothing seems to be going my way these days.
 
I've always been told that things come to me too easily, and I've always said that isn't true.

But now, looking around me, and feeling all of my angst, I do have to wonder, did everything come too easily before? Is this what happens when life isn't so charmed anymore?

Does this mean I need to give up?

Oh, but I don't want to.

I don't, I don't, I can't,

no matter what.


*morosely sad mood, all I'm doing is reading and listening to Dead Hearts by Stars. ack.

I ate veggies!

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Everyone who spends at least a meal with me knows I am (sorta) the poster girl for bad eating habits. Because I don't eat vegetables.

I don't really have a concrete reason: I don't hate them, I just don't want to eat them. I think it's cause when I see veggies, I just think, 'grass'. I hope I don't offend anyone with that statement. It's why I have a lot of respect for vegans, because I simply can't imagine living my life that way.

Anyway, because I don't eat veggies, my friends have turned it into some sort of game, to try and see if they can get me to turn from my 'meatarian' ways. Some have used bribes (my dad: "If you eat this dish, I will get you cake after. Two cakes!"), deceit (Ninoy (and on occasion, Den): "What, this whole restaurant serves only vegetarian food? How could I not know that!"), others simple lies (Dheng with her vegan burger patties, and ate Ying's disguised Ilocano dishes).

One approach that no one ever takes is the direct one, with a good dose of fear. That's what Ins and Trix did, last Friday at La Maison.

See, they were in Makati for faux dates and asked me to meet them, so we ended up running around Greenbelt for dinner.

And we picked La Maison Cafe (full review-wee later, promise) where I had something called the Asian Persuasion, which had salad, which led to threats and taunts, (I guess the combined powers of two women who've known me forever do add up to a lot) and this:



It was really rather yummy, on the whole. The lettuce reminded me of the taste of green apples, so it was all good.

I wonder, does this mean if I imagine everything I ever taste as apples, will I be able to eat anything?
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"I always thought that, because I liked him so, so much,
he would like me, too.
But I guess it doesn't work that way, huh?"
(Mi-ho, MGIAG) 

*Sigh.

I wonder if other people ever feel this way, as though, through everything, there's always going to be that one person, the one who can confuse you within a blink.
I really, really just wanted to say goodbye.
It's unfair to me that you everyone else holds the key to this.
I don't like feeling like I made the mistake again.

Please, please, please.

review-wee B: Rosario

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In a continuing report of how my holidays went, K and I also watched MMFF entry Rosario last December. MMFF is sort of a personal goal of mine, because I find it sad and baffling and anger-inducing how so many people in our own country find watching Pinoy films a waste of a time. Yes, I am willing to believe that most are formulaic and all that, but to use Hollywood films as the standard for non-formulaic films kinda stings. Also, I really do believe that we can make the Golden Age of Philippine Cinema make some sort of resurgence. (Seriously, comparing the number of Filipino movies released these days to previous years reveals some saddening finds.)

Also, review-wee two!

So, Rosario. We were torn between this and Tanging Ina, but K insisted we see Rosario, because, it was losing at the box office. That's us, movie producer saviors. My main reason for watching was because I had heard it was TV5 produced, and that it was about Manny V. Pangilinan's grand-something.



The blurb for Rosario reads something along the lines of: 'the story of a liberated Filipina, fresh from New York, who comes home and faces obstacles in love'. There was something more, but this was the one that stuck to me.

We open on poverty. An elderly man (Dolphy) wades around in water, apparently in search of something, while a female voice scolds him for his foolishness, because the water will only worsen his condition. Finally achieving his goal, a few black and white photographs, he wades out, countering that he was just saving the few mementos of his mother. This is Hesus, the son of our titular Rosario, living in apparent gloom and doom. They sit in the living room, and fret about their situation. Finally, he broaches the thought of approaching his rich nephew. They hem and haw some more about the situation, till it becomes apparent that they have nothing left to lose.
The next day finds Hesus at the PLDT building to meet with Rich Nephew, who is clearly MVP. They sit down to talk, Rich Nephew lamenting never having met Rosario. Hesus starts in, introducing us...

And we lead into and meet our heroine. Rosario (Jennylyn Mercado) is rich, beautiful and accomplished. Walking around in her tight dress, she is the picture of entitlement. Also, as she is fresh from Nueva York, she smokes. Her cousin (Isabel Oli) refuses the offer of a cigarette, preferring to stew in her pure, provincial self.
The two are getting ready for Rosario's welcome dinner, where we meet the rest of our cast: the loud, doting father (Philip Salvador), the elegantly repressed mother (Eula Valdez), and our first hero (Yul Servo). Also, bonus: we get Desiree del Valle as a...some sort of lounge singer, only she's dinner entertainment for Rosario's welcome party.
As the story goes, we will meet two more men central to Rosario (Dennis Trillo and Sid Lucero), who will shape much of her life.
The rest of the film narrates Rosario's journey through forbidden love (s?), music, and poverty, all the while remaining her twenty-something year old self.

Okay, pause. 
I will just make it a point to say I don't hate the film, per se. But I didn't like it much, either. A central point of my review-wees is that I recognize that the product I am talking about is something that other people have put their heart into, and that I have no right to talk trash about it. So, my misplaced snark is something I will need to hurdle over in the future, and apologize for now. So sorry.
And, we're back.

Over all, Rosario is a beautiful film: the cinematography is just gorgeous, and the directing is amazing.
The clothes were cute, and K says that was pretty much how they dressed back then, so authenticity points. My main issue with this was how no one seemed to be aging, so it was hard to gauge what age the characters were when a particular event was happening.
I especially liked the variations in the love scenes: with the First and True Love, we get slow and sweet, caution in every action, every frame. I also liked that there was still teases of Rosario's personality: the candles, her smile, the dress, her movements. I found it an intense and moving way of showing how time stops when you're with the One, and how nothing, no one else will ever compare.
It's a stark contrast to the other love scenes we see, which are all fast, hard, easy.
I also find it telling that we don't really see much, compared with the First Love.

I also enjoyed the use of contrasts: between Rosario and her cousin, as she grew mature and she grew more like the old Rosario, in the end coming full circle with the cigarette offer, as well as the slow take-over of Rosario's life.

I'm on the fence about the music: some of it was just jarring, and I was like, dude, shut up. To me, the moments I liked the most were silent, just the actors, such as the scene with Rosario and her mother.

Another nice surprise to me was Empress Schuck: I was awed by how she mirrored her mother's piano movements, as well as the car scene. I mean, she basically had one scene, and she's the character I like best.

Sid Lucero is always a given to me, and in this, he was effortlessly natural: the timid admiration, the hope in his eyes when he turns to try to draw Rosario out just kills me. And I liked his character's intensity at the end, because he made me believe that it could happen, that it wasn't some OOC writer voodoo in there.

But.

There was just so much waste.

I honestly think we could have dived right into the past, and taken out, or at least shortened the introduction. Aside from the obvious logical holes in our storyteller (He was her son, I don't see anyone telling their children such intimate details...Filipinos aren't like that, to me. Plus, he wasn't even alive for the first half of it all, he was also absent from a few of the other scenes...), I just felt that there was no need for a narrator. And I feel it would have worked better if Rosario was telling her own story.

I found a lot of the actors wasted: Philip Salvador, Eula Valdez, Yul Servo...a lot of them were just standing around in this. See, for me, Jennylyn Mercado was okay: her performance was a bit lost at times, but she was serviceable to me. I didn't like her when she was alone, she felt flat to me. Still, she had moments of awesome in her, especially when she was with other actors: I find her most compelling when she's reacting (to someone). Her scene with her father, when she asks for college in Manila, was perfect to me: the 'Si, Papa', the overbright eyes, the desperate smile. Then her scene with her mother, where she begs for forgiveness and actually manages to cry: I felt how unsure Rosario was, how much she wanted the forgiveness, but how afraid she was of the rejection.

I found a lot of the story wasted: we never get to see the moments where Rosario falls in love, we lead right into the sensual. We also never really see them getting over the illness that befalls the family at some point, focusing instead on the other man. And there were a lot of scenes that felt disconnected, particularly the rape scene: it felt OOC of her to just be so accepting of it. I was honestly confused.

On a personal note, the way Rosario was characterized kinda offends me. I mean, aside from the annoyance I feel at the deliberate misuse of the term 'liberated' (which is a Pinoy thing ugh), I felt cheated by the way they made her out to be.
She was supposed to be a modern woman, but they take the words into the Pinoy sense of the "liberated woman" and make her loose. They take this aspect of her character, then twist it around to make it the only aspect of her character.
She is supposed to be a good student, someone who enjoyed reading and poetry, and all we get is her using poems for seduction.
She is supposed to be strong, and yet we see her cave to her husband's demands to not see her parents, even when they are dying. Worse, we see her fall victim to another man, because she apparently, just can't help it.
She is also supposed to be interested in the simple life: a family, and love. Then she suddenly turns into some sort of sex-starved floozy.

It was like there were three Rosarios in there: the quiet, simple Rosario who loved her family and her music, the strong-minded Rosario who would defy family and wealth for love, and these two were being drowned by the slutty Rosario, whose very point is that she can't help being like that.
I don't have a problem with women who are in touch with their sexuality: what offends me is when you take a character who you tote as someone master of her own, then proceed to objectify her to the end. Her life became a series of disjoint moments between the men, and it didn't add up for me.

My main annoyance was that there was no actual ending. Much with the skip over moments of building up to the love story, we only get snippets of what happened.

The end. Argh. Though it was a beautiful moment to end, with Rosario finally growing up, in a way, we also never get to find out what really happens to her after. Instead, we get photos of the real Rosario (who is totes beautiful, btw) and narration of losing her body to rental cemeteries. I mean, what now?

There was no why as to how it all became like that. Ironically, this serves as a logic turn, since it is a good way to invoke that this story is being told from the perspective of someone else, not Rosario's.

But maybe that's the point, that all stories, once shared, stop becoming yours, and start becoming ours.

*Photo courtesy of this site.

review-wee A: My Girlfriend is A Gumiho

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And, review-wee one!


I've been on an extended k-drama obsession over the break. (And, yes, as break is over, it has extended to the non-break. I do tend to get too obsessive, sometimes. Eep.)

This is something I blame on propinquity: I am too, too near sources of dramas, in officemates and areas of commute. Also, fine, I have to watch kdramas, they are so much fun! They destress me to the point of happy.

I saw a lot of dramas, and perhaps I will also squeal about them: Coffee Prince (The songs! The effortless piggybacks! The bangs-blowing!), Playful Kiss (Stalker moms! Squabbles! Secret sweetness!), You're Beautiful (Shin-woo, you break my heart. Also, pig rabbits, hairpins of Great Import, adorable star and moon metaphors, and quite possibly my most favorite second lead girl of all time, Devil Fairy Hye-mi. But mostly, how dare everyone break Shin-woo's heart!!!) and my favorite to the point of this squeeing entry: My Girlfriend is a Gumiho.

Hoi-Hoi cuteness


Gumiho is the latest Hong sisters drama, their follow-up to You're Beautiful. Just in case you are not as obsessive as me, the Hong sisters are a drama writing team responsible for some of the cutest dramas I've ever seen, such as Sassy Girl Chun-hyang, My Girl, Fantasy Couple. Most of these are comedies, with quite a bit of toilet humor than I'd admittedly like. But the cute and the sweet moments make up for a lot of the silly.

Back to Gumiho, it's the story of a mortal man, and his interactions with the gumiho (a nine-tailed fox who turns into the form of a mortal woman, I think this is Korean folklore) who he sets free from a painting. It stars Lee Seung-gi and Shin Mina. They are adorable, times a billion.

Cha Dae-woong (Lee Seung-gi) is a carefree rich boy, whose dream is to become an action star. Only, he doesn't quite believe in the working hard part of the dream, and wants to skip to the top. His family, Grandpa Cha and Aunt Min-sook, pretty much let him run free as a child, so he's been spoiled rotten. Now, Grandpa is doing his best to rein him in, even going to the extremes of sending him to jail. Still, Grandpa bails him out, with the intent of sending him to military school.

Naturally, this prompts Dae-woong into some hilarious maneuverings to get away from his family, which leads him straight to Gu Mi-ho's (Shin Mina) temple. While Dae-woong tryies to reach home, Mi-ho recognizes her chance to escape and uses him to earn her freedom.

She escapes, but injures Dae-woong in the process. Deciding he might become useful to her, she saves him by use of her fox bead. The rest of the series shows them *spoiler?* beating the odds of scheming aspiring actresses, hot emo monster hunters, crazy action sequences, mortality in both the human and the gumiho sense,  all while falling in love.

I adored Lee Seung-gi in this. When I saw Brilliant Legacy, I already found him compelling, but didn't like his character much. He was too seriously entitled and mean. I couldn't quite get over him breaking Seung-mi's heart. Her speech to him just made me ache for her. (Also because, 'Jun-se Oppa!' kept ringing in my head.)  But he was awesomesauce here, because Dae-woong was just so...squeee. I so rarely like lead guys (I tend to have incredible Second Lead Syndrome, as in Brilliant Legacy Jun-se and You're Beautiful Shin-woo) because most of them I've seen are snotty, and I rarely ever feel that they deserve the girl in the end, but Woong-ah (tee-hee) did.





I really had no idea about Shin Mina, but I found her awesomesauce as well. Her Mi-ho was just so, so, so earnest and steadfast with her love for Dae-woong and her need to become truly human. Also, girl is hot, with the smile and the dimples and the hair. (I love her moments of 'Woong-ah, Woong-ah, Woong-ah'. And the finger guns. Gah.)



I also like the rest of the cast that rounds it out: Park Dong-ju, played by actor Noh Min-woo was well, incredibly pretty at first. He grew on me in the end, because I found his back story pretty spare: it made me curious, and I wish he'd gotten more of a story.
Also, Hye-in Noona (I love Korean honorifics) was okay. I didn't hate her as much as I did other second lead girls, because she didn't go all the way crazy with getting between the couple. Plus, she likes Jeremy in the end, and finger guns him. Aww.
I also love the other friends, Byung-soo and Sun-nyeo. Mostly cause I found it cute how obviously he was in love with her, allowing her to bully him everywhere, and she couldn't see it. I mean, the guy actually confessed. Come on.




The Min-sook-Director Ban love story was also great for me. I know a lot of people might find them annoying, but I thought they were quite cute, for the most part. They were a foil to the more squee-inducing cute of the lead couple. Plus, anytime anywhere, I am quite game for Chow Yun Fat references. Hee.




The grandparents are also favorites for me: My Girl Grandpa, in here a faker of illnesses and giver of vegetable juice, was great. I loved his relationship with Dae-woong, because they were just so alike, particularly in that scene where Woong-ah asks for help convincing Mi-ho to come home.
Also, Brilliant Legacy Grandma plays the Three-Gods Grandmother, who seals Mi-ho in the painting. And I love Brilliant Legacy Grandma, so I'm pretty much sold.

I love the story: I enjoy that the heroine is assertive, and that the guy is...pretty much a weenie. I like how they make him man up, and how they establish the give-take these two get. It's not just him, not just her, it's always the two of them, working towards "becoming human".

The mix of mystical and 'normal' was pretty good. I especially liked the fox rain explanation, because it was such a novel plot device. The parallels with Little Mermaid was also nice, all the more for the veer off in the end. From Dae-woong's tearing off of the ending, to Mi-ho's belief, to their own happy ending, their jump from fairy tale to real life was shown in such precise, symbolic moments.

I also enjoyed all the teasing moments, all the cute, and all the lines (which will probably be making its way to this blog as faunxtries). But my favorite part is when they say this to each other:

Dae-woong: Mi-ho. I love you. So I won't die alone for you, and don't die for me either.
Mi-ho: Dae-woong, I love you. I won't die for you, and don't do it for me either.
Dae-woong: As the person who loves you, this is my decision. Who knows where this will go, but let's do it together. If we live, we both live. And if we die, we die together.

That moment is when I absolutely just fell in love with this show.

To me, that is the proper way to Love. It's not sacrifice, never that. When you measure love as a string of sacrifices, you reduce it to a tally, an account of What I Did for You.
But that isn't Love.
Love shouldn't be in the sacrifices that you make for the person, it's in the ways you deal with things together. True, there will always be  a certain amount of compromise: when you love a person, there are things that you give up for them. But it shouldn't be seen as a sacrifice: you don't give things up just to make that person happy: you're giving them up because you feel yourself able to be without those things, because with that person, new things take their place. With that person beside you, everything else is just everything else.

As for the ending, they sort of fumble with my last point, but I was rather satisfied with it, all in all. Possibly the sight of Jeremy eased my heart a little, but really, it's just that I adored that they didn't happy ending at the moment I thought they would. I liked the fact that I knew things would end happily, but I didn't know how they would get there.

So, if you're a big sap, a fan of pretty girls and boys doing silly things, and DIMPLES, and maybe just super stressed, I urge you to pick Gumiho for the next destress.



You may just find yourself comparing people to types of meat. :D

(Screencaps a mix of my own and courtesy of this awesome, awesome site that feeds my drama obsessions. If you want to start k-dramaing, they're a great way to go.)

review-wees

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So everyone seems to have end of the year review posts.

But, I'm lazy and think, wouldn't it be awesome if I just skipped last year (for now, who knows) and went on with this year's semi-big project?

I got the idea to have a semi-big project from my friends: one of them is toying with a webcomic, another is opening an online store, another is revamping her photo gallery blog...you get the idea.

My semi-big project is to write reviews of stuff I do.

I hesitate to call these entries reviews, because they aren't really. They're a new way to test my writing (which is technically the main reason I have this blog), to see if I can write about things that I love and don't love as much, while staying as neutral as I can.

I've been toying with the idea all last year, while I was writing stuff about some movies I saw. It just sounds fun to me, to share more than stories about what I do.

But my main worry is that I might get too critical, or be too nitpicky, because that's always been my problem. It's a worry for me, as I think that no matter how annoying one finds a book, a story, or whathaveyou, one still has to remember that another person or group of persons spend a lot of time and effort on it. So, it seems wrong to write about something, knowing that.

So, some rules while reading:

1. At the heart of it all, everything I do, I do because I'm genuinely curious about the topic/thing. So, even if I feel disappointed in it, please know that I still enjoy it.
2. These really aren't reviews, they're me and what I think.
3. While you read, you have to just remember that my personal philosophy is 'to each his/her own'. Let's just agree to disagree, kthanksbai.
4. If I sound snarky or mean, please know that this semi-project is another writing exercise for me. Much like my 2010 birthday blasts, they're a means to stretch, so please be kind if you think to comment.
5. I like feedback. Mostly cause this blog is unknown, so you can comment.

With that, all posts tagged review-wee are part of the semi-big project.
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In honor (horrors, that) of Valentine's day, there is this awfsome article that reassures all of the broken-hearted lonelies out there, nope, it ain't just you.


Is this amazing news, or what?

Sigh.

*state of mind: weirded out.
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"I have a lot of things to graduate from.
Most especially,
you."

(Rui Hanazawa, Hanadan the Finale)

hello, 2011!

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Happy New Year!!!


I was able to watch the light show at the Ayala Triangle a few days ago, with my business partner, K. Somewhere in the last five minutes, I realized I could video it, and I did! (haha.)


I can't upload directly, so here it is. Excuse the voices, K and I are like that.


It's really awesome.


Happy 2011, Everyone!


I wish you more love, more food, more blessings this year,


A.