Cynic

My long absence from my blog allowed me time to reflect about the entire idea of cynicism, and why people in this part of the world are so adept at cloaking their mistrust of their fellows by feigning happiness and careless abandon. Now I have a clearer understanding why the guy seated next to me on a train straddles his backpack in front of him, choosing to look ridiculous than having his possession snatched from him by me or that guy with a suspect stare standing right in front of him, clutching the bacteria-strewn stainless bar.

My optimism about anything and everything that this city stands for has been totally demolished, confronting me with a cold reality of my insignificance and of everyone else’s who lives in this place. I want to spray sharp invectives at the first, second, third, and so on person I meet every time I leave my room darkened by the shadow of gloom of the building beside it.

It used to be easier to steer myself away from this cynicism before, but as I age, I found it more and more difficult to keep myself unconsumed by it, unscathed by it.

I’m back to writing now.

But I am not the same man.

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Finally canceling my Friendster account

It was a spur of the moment decision, a split-second resolve to finally sever old ties. It was less painful this way. Disallowing hesitations and options to have second thoughts made the entire exercise akin to the clinical, impersonal approach of axing ruptured appendix or bulldozing gall stones, numbing and anesthetic.

Like all vestigial organs that will have to go, wholesale or in a rapid succession, Friendster has gone past its serviceability therefore it’s damned.

I now have one fewer online presence that will incriminate me in the inevitable day of reckoning. Thoughts of eradicating my Facebook account is looming.

Hologram(?) and how this new technology will redefine news coverage… . But wait.

This is something we all come to expect, but still, listening to the bickering between the people of GMA7 and ABS-CBN regarding their respective number one station’s supposed use of new technology in upping the ante of their news coverages during the elections is, to use a friend’s great-sounding adjective, juvenile. But what is even more irritating is the fact that both stations brandished about how they utilized ‘holographic images’ which each repeatedly made it appear as if the anchor in the studio seemed having a face to face interaction with the reporter in a remote situation.

Baloney. Nothing near a real hologram was achieved, only both stations’ multi-dimensional ego was clearly apparent.

Although I am not wont to lift sources from the net of apocryphal origin, this one from wikipedia.net will clearly give us an idea why both GMA7 and ABS-CBN we’re wishing upon a star whenever they mention about their use of their state-of-the-art hologram technology:

Holograph is a technique that allows the light scattered from an object to be recorded and later reconstructed so that it appears as if the object is in the same position relative to the recording medium as it was when recorded. The image changes as the position and orientation of the viewing system changes in exactly the same way as if the object were still present, thus making the recorded image (hologram) appear three dimensional.

http://howstuffworks.com

The technique of holography can also be used to optically store, retrieve, and process information. While holography is commonly used to display static 3-D pictures, it is not yet possible to generate arbitrary scenes by a holographic volumetric display.

Judging from their efforts, the operative word should have been ‘hologram effect’ since both did not really use holography in the real sense of the word. What each made use of is the ever-reliable chroma key, a technology which is not new at all.

To those who are not familiar with this method, chroma key composting is a technique for making a composite of two images or frames together in which a color (or a small color range) from one image is removed (or made transparent), revealing another image behind it.

This method is commonly used for broadcasts of weather forecast wherein the presenter appears to be standing in front of a large map, but in the studio it is actually a large blue or green background. The meteorologist stands in front of a bluescreen, and then different weather maps are added on those parts in the image where the color is blue. If the meteorologist himself wears blue clothes, his clothes will become replaced with the background video. This also works for greenscreens, since blue and green are considered the colors least like skin tone.

There is nothing entirely new regarding this ‘new’ technology, save the use of more sophisticated software that made the images crisper and appeared like fortune was spent to make them look like what we saw on our television during the unprecedentedly quick election.

If the medium is the message, according to McLuhan, then this medium looks ‘cool’. And the novelty will send both stations scurrying to use this in almost any of its news and current affairs programs, from the important interviews with the country’s leaders to mundane interviews with starlets. But this same novelty will wear people out.

When not properly executed, the image of the reporter appears like an apparition of a yet to-be-identified spirit. And the resulting ‘hologram’ we see on our screen is unabashedly cheap-looking or, worse, ugly.

By the way, who would like seeing their field reporters’ lower body projected on screen? Unless of course these reporters have great asses. But then again this is not possible as a chroma wall allows only the showing of two dimensions. Showing of great asses all for the sake of exhibition in a news coverage still has not seeped through our collective opinion as to how a news coverage is to be properly done.

At least not yet. But who knows what infamy or blessing, malfeasance or change for the betterment, this hologram ‘effect’ will bring.

Why is everyone so obsessed with anything ‘Big’?

One can glean a lot of insights from random conversations heard from people unwary that they are subjects of one’s unscientific, though still valid, observations. It was one of those regular ‘umpukan’ (from ‘umpok’ a Tagalog word that roughly translates to bunch) that the personnel of the college do every morning after they have logged in their names in that sad-looking Bundy clock.

They drink coffee, eat boiled corn, or if any of them is thoughtful enough, they have pandesal. And with these simple foods they nibble just before the actual, heavier breakfast, they share events from the previous days and nights. Topics can range from their criticism of the indecisiveness of their bosses in the college, television program, the next loan they will apply for, the problem student who just broke a condenser that costs their month’s salary, or, in a very hush tone, theirs or their bosses’ sex life (or the lack thereof).

“Ti sin-o run ang ‘Big Four’?” (Who now will comprise the ‘Big Four’) Asked one of them who works for the College secretary.

“Aw, bati ko takun ‘Big Five’ run tana,” (Aw, I heard it’s going to be the ‘Big Five’ this time) said the laboratory technician in the Chem Department.

“Amu ja gani ang ‘Big Balita’ katong ‘Big Night’,” (And that’s the ‘Big News’ on the ‘Big Night’) added the administrative aide of the Soc Sci Division.

“Baw, may ara pa, sigurado takun, nga ‘Big Pasabog’ si Big Brother kar-un sa gab-I,” (I think, and I’m quite sure of it, that Big Brother will have a ‘Big Announcement’) quipped my favorite administrative aide in the Dean’s office.

“Basta para kanakun, si Melissa run tana ang ‘Big Winner’.” (As for me, Melissa is going to be the ‘Big Winner’) The discussion will end here either because they feel they are already over-extending their before-work break or they do not anymore agree as to who will be the ‘Big Winner’.

The preponderance of the word ‘Big’ peppered in almost all conceivable English and Tagalog words can get in one’s nerves after being exposed to it too much. There’s Big Brother, Big Utol, Big Day, Big Night, Big Task, Big Day, the Next Big Thing. Big Whatever.

Has our obsession for anything big slowly diffused to encroach language leaving it literally desecrated? When we misuse and overuse a word, we advertently render it dead, stretching it beyond the limit of its elasticity will cause breakage.

Any of these can take the place of the overexploited ‘Big’:

a whale of a, ample, awash, bulky, bull, burly, capacious, chock-full, colossal, commodious, considerable, copious, enormous, extensive, fat, full, gigantic, heavyweight, hefty, huge, hulking, humongous, immense, jumbo, mammoth, massive, mondo, monster, oversize, sizable, stuffed, substantial, super colossal, thundering, tremendous, vast, voluminous, walloping, whopper, whopping.

Why do they have to say ‘Big’ all the time?

Now, I am irritated Big Time.

Finally, the barbarity ends

The most watched barbarity will finally close curtain on Friday. Calling it a barbarity is exaggerated, you say, for something as trailblazing and reeking with morals a teleserye as May Bukas Pa. One doesn’t call a multi-awarded program barbaric. It’s inappropriate, if not untrue.

May Bukas Pa is a story that has run too long, too long in fact that I am aching and itching to see its last day of showing. Thank God it’s this Friday. Obviously, the teleserye can extend to ad infinitum; its life dependent on the imagination of its über-original writers. If ABS-CBN wills it, it can even introduce new talents by having them play a role, say, a drug addict, a serial killer, a necromancer, a prostitute, who will then be changed by the wonder boy Santino into a repenting loser asking forgiveness from Bro, complete with a climactic cry that would rival a paid crying lady in the funeral of Manila’s richest Chinese businessman. This is a guaranteed way to raise them to stardom in no time.

http://abs-cbn.com

But this barbarity did not start as horrendous as it now when the boy and the fathers in the seminary are about to say their adieu. The teleserye hinted a lot of promise when it began showing nearly two years ago, but whatever happened to that promise, no one knows. It could be that the people did not seem to notice because they were too scared to be the objects of ire of the omniscient Bro, that no one wanted to take the chance of being sent and thrown head first in the eternal lake of fire, or that the people are toying with the hope of being saved from the impending coming of the Messiah. I am only hypothesizing. This fear and the promise of redemption firmly grounded May Bukas Pa in the minds of the unthinking public, allowing it to last that long, a feat uncommon nowadays when the longest run of a good program is less than six months.

But the show is not entirely lacking of any salvaging character. When viewed using a specific perspective, it’s noir-ish, only that lighting for TV will definitely not allow this treatment. The story, especially now that it’s about to end, is reminiscent of Ishmael Bernal’s Himala starring Nora Aunor. But ABS-CBN, of course, won’t do something not very bright as to experiment with this style all the way.

http://arthurofthechildjesus.wordpress.com/

So what will be done as has been done before is to have something akin to a high school reunion where all participants wear white as they cry their hearts out for the body of a dead boy, an innocent victim of blind faith of the people of Bagong Pag-asa. A background funeral song will be played while the faces of the stars whose lives Santino touched are given several seconds of extreme close-up shots.

The newscast on TV Patrol World the following night will be about the mourning of the entire nation over the death of May Bukas Pa lead star, Santino, and some talks about future teleseryes lined up for him.

Now, isn’t that barbaric?

The barbarity will finally close curtain on Friday. Calling it a barbarity is exaggerated, you say, for something as trailblazing and reeking with morals a teleserye as May Bukas Pa. One doesn’t call a multi-awarded program barbaric. It’s inappropriate if not untrue.

May Bukas Pa is a story that has run too long, too long in fact that I am aching and itching to see its last day of showing. Thank God it’s this Friday. Obviously, the teleserye can extend to ad infinitum, its life dependent on the imagination of its über-original writers. If ABS-CBN wills it, it can even introduce new talents by having them play a role, say, a drug addict, a serial killer, a necromancer, a prostitute, who will then be changed by the wonder boy Santino into a repenting loser asking forgiveness from Bro, complete with a climactic cry that would rival a paid crying lady in the funeral of Manila’s richest Chinese businessman. This is a guaranteed way to raise them to stardom in no time.

http://abs-cbn.com

The teleserye showed a lot of promise when it started nearly two years ago, but whatever happened to that promise, no one knows. It could be the people did not seem to notice because they were too scared to be the object of ire of the omniscient Bro, or that no one wanted to take the chance of being sent and thrown head first in the eternal lake of fire.

Rants before I go:

Living in the humid tropics gives everyone a hard time breathing. And mildews, they’re all over. I already opened all my windows to let air in and replace the stale night air trapped in my room, but it seems that opening them is futile. The air is still reeking with deadly spores from unknown species of fungi yet to be discovered by Science. But the worse part is that they all decided to make my room their giant petri dish.

Marlene Aguilar, notwithstanding her being a good mother to her son, should be incinerated head first with her tentacles-of-Ursula do be fed initially to the makeshift hell (as with the looks of it, the do will take longer to melt than the rest of her body).

I’ve been regularly seeing her on primetime TV newscast, and I beg to be delivered from her. With all understatement, her mouth is unstoppable. She kissed like a seahorse last night, blabbered like a koala, cried like a sea turtle, and neighed like, well, a horse (my apologies go to those members of the animal kingdom mentioned).

Oh, and she sang like a mutant armadillo.

Every time she spews a word, she becomes  a grand spectacle of herself, relishing her much-awaited-but-long-overdue debut with all her diva-esque acts she has kept in her stacks all these times.  She says something pitiful like this, then concocts another equally pathetic story, and then caps her statement with something laughable using that cute accent.

When will they finally gag her using the trimmings from her hideous do?

I’ve seriously considered writing ABS-CBN to ax Kung Tayo’y Magkakalayo when I completed watching one episode of a Kris Aquino-starrer teleserye last night. She can’t act, unconvincing, and sounded forced. Another wrong casting decision. No need to write the network, maybe, because it dawned on me that after an episode, I’ve had enough of it, and I will simply shut my eyes whenever it is shown in the carinderia where I have my dinner. Seriously, it is a badly made, badly cast, bad program.

Or can’t ABS-CBN consider moving it to the 4 am slot just before Umagang Kay Ganda?


The first thing I did when I woke up this morning was to watch a VHS ripped copy of Deep Throat, a 1972 American pornographic film written and directed by Gerard Damiano, starring Linda Lovelace. Why can’t today’s porn producers make something as interesting as this one? Yes, yes, yes, I am well too aware that the nature of a porn does not allow it to experiment with well-established, more developed, and less corporeal storylines. But we can have something more original than say a MILF wanting to be f*cked by a barely 18, an old man raping a barely 18, or a barely 18 doing herself, can’t we?

I do not want to conclude this post with anything nice to to say except to wish everyone a great weekend.

On the lack of sense of the ridiculous and the absurd of artista searches in the Philipines

Starstruck 5

Our sense of the ridiculous and the absurd keeps us from embarrassing ourselves. These, along with the presence of conscience and the ability to make use of language to facilitate communication, differentiate us from other members of the animal kingdom and other organisms. Something that elevates us a few notches above lichens, sea cucumbers, house cats, penguins, Portuguese man o’ war, and baboons*.

I seemed to have suffered from short-term lock jaw (thank god the show lasted for only an hour) after watching in television the Mindanao leg of the artista search Starstruck of GMA7 held in the big cities of Cagayan de Oro and Davao. My jaw literally dropped. The shame these people have to undergo or to subject themselves to just to get the attention of the judges and the pathetic crowd was perplexing, dumbfounding, and need I say, bewildering.

The show is a potpourri of the hopefuls, the frustrated, the untalented, or simply the lunatics There was this guy in a coiffured metallic colored mane who spoke in the most heavily Visayan accented Tagalog I’ve heard but whose level of confidence is as stiff and as towering as his gelled hair do. I wondered what happened to him.

Most of these young people who auditioned for the show have a common narrative. Poverty. A woman forced by her parents to marry a 40-year old American, a poor transsexual from Misamis, a poor teenager whose both parents have to leave the country to work and send money back home. These stories, although real, have been repeatedly exploited by shows like Starstruck for ratings and profit. The truths in these stories sound hypocritical (I do not say that they are hypocritical). People will eventually cease to believe and start to mock these stories.

These shows patterned after the already dull, neuron deadening, and numbing American originals, are made even more absurd and ridiculous by the local color. This is after the addition of the all Filipino drama of poverty, family discord, personal search to prove one’s worth in this vast universe, and the supernatural enough to inspire Gabriel Garcia Marquez to write something that will rival his novels already written in the tradition of magic realism.

Somebody will cry foul after reading this article, and his argument, I believe, will run in the line of respecting man’s right to determine his fate and his inalienable right to pursue his happiness. But this is exactly the reason why I wrote this, to preserve our humanity, to keep that line that separates us from ticks, pubic crabs, sea gulls, and airborne microscopic organism intact. Please, let’s hold on to our sense of the absurd and the ridiculous.

*My apologies to those creatures mentioned.