Sunday, September 13, 2009

I always say that churchgoers would have to endure long versions of the "Gloria" or "Luwalhati/Papuri sa Diyos" during Sunday Masses if not for Nicolas Matias Sengson, the musical genius behind the shortest musical arrangement of Papuri. Fr. Nick, who turns 56 today, describes himself as "just a simple SVD."

Let me just share to you a brief, light moment with Fr. Nick as I was chatting with him online:

therealmakoy: Happy birthday, Father! May you continue to be salt and light of the world.
Fr. Nick: Thanks a lot for the best wishes and greetings. Hope good health will mark me till the end.
therealmakoy: Will pray for that...
Fr. Nick: OK. Thanks. O simba ka na... (As if Fr. Nick needed my prayer intention for him right away! hehehe!)

It seems that Fr. Nick wants everything fast, except for one thing---food. Towards the end of our conversation, I told him that I'll just have lunch. He said in reply, "...Sana lang hindi fastfood ang meal mo. Bon apetit!"

Fr. Nick, writing his latest compositions, and his clavinova
(Photo grabbed from Fr. Nick's facebook profile)

Friday, June 12, 2009

I had a casual chat with Raya Martin some weeks ago on facebook. I kept on telling him about how I miss "Olaf" and he asked me why. Later, I realized that it was the last memory I could recall of being with him.

Olaf is short for The Reality of Olaf--a short film based on the poem i sing of Olaf glad and big by e.e. cummings. I wish I kept a copy of the video to upload here. But at the time, it was not as popular to record videos and upload them on the internet as it is now. Nevertheless, to provide you with imagery, here is the poem:
i sing of Olaf glad and big 
whose warmest heart recoiled at war:
a conscientious object-or

his wellbelov'd colonel(trig
westpointer most succinctly bred)
took erring Olaf soon in hand;
but--though an host of overjoyed

noncoms(first knocking on the head
him)do through icy waters roll
that helplessness which others stroke
with brushes recently employed
anent this muddy toiletbowl,
while kindred intellects evoke
allegiance per blunt instruments--
Olaf(being to all intents
a corpse and wanting any rag
upon what God unto him gave)
responds,without getting annoyed

"I will not kiss your fucking flag"

straightway the silver bird looked grave
(departing hurriedly to shave)

but--though all kinds of officers
(a yearning nation's blueeyed pride)
their passive prey did kick and curse
until for wear their clarion
voices and boots were much the worse,
and egged the firstclassprivates on
his rectum wickedly to tease
by means of skilfully applied
bayonets roasted hot with heat--

Olaf(upon what were once knees)
does almost ceaselessly repeat
"there is some shit I will not eat"

our president,being of which
assertions duly notified
threw the yellowsonofabitch
into a dungeon,where he died

Christ(of His mercy infinite)
i pray to see;and Olaf,too

preponderatingly because
unless statistics lie he was
more brave than me:more blond than you.
In 2001, TRO was done as a class project for our English finals and was filmed under Raya's direction using my old Sony handycam in black-and-white. The film had no live sound. It was like a silent film. And with plenty of scenes repeatedly shown throughout the film, our audience--classmates and other students--at the time found it strange and boring. Maraming nagwalk-out pero meron din namang naiwan. But I really didn't care much about those who left as long as the more patient and intelligent ones were there to stay until the film was through.

Eight years later, "Oh well!" would be the only comment I would hear from Raya regarding the walk-out scene. The young filmmaker just recently made a record in Philippine cinema history when two of his films (Independencia and Manila) made it as official entries to the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, with the former being "the first Filipino film to be selected to the festival's Un Certain Regard section." (Ruben Nepales, PDI, 04/24/09)
I was supposed to celebrate Independence Day today by attending Independencia's premier. But urgent things-to-do came to ambush me. Oh well! Happy Independence Day!

For Independencia's official trailer, copy and paste this link to the search bar:
Photo grabbed from Independencia profile on facebook

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mga eksena sa mahigit na isang buwang pag-layout ng kopi-teybol-book

From top to bottom: Timely and timeless layouts, The Production Room at Divine Word Seminary Tagaytay, The Real Makoy scanning the first sample pages, The Production Team: layout artist Tristan Ferrera and editor Fr.Antolin Uy, SVD, Ph.D.

The SVD Philippines Centennial coffee-table book is now in the hands of Logos Publications for critic and revisions.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

7 Last Words on ABS-CBN

For the past eight years, the SVD Mission Communications Foundation, Inc. has been airing the "7 Last Words on TV." The program aims at bringing to life the greatest sacrifice Jesus endured for us.

Every year, the MCFI invites preachers, sharers, family-sponsors, celebrity-singers and choirs to participate in the event. For this year, the following preachers, sharers, and music performers will share their life stories and talents to make the observance of Lent a meaningful one:

Preachers: (in order)
Fr. Glenn Paul Gomez, SVD
Fr. Aris Martin, SVD
Fr. Jerome Marquez, SVD
Fr. Titus Mananzan, SVD
Fr. Raul Caga, SVD
Fr. Arlo Bernardo Yap, SVD
Fr. John O'Mahony, SVD

Sharers: (in order)
Bro. Tony Rivera
Bro. Myke Perfecto
Sis. Ilsa Reyes
Bro. Emer Rojas
Bro. Bingle Apoli
Bro. Raymond Domingo
Sis. Evangeline Pascual

With OJ Mariano, Nyoy Volante, Geneva Cruz, The Philippine Sandalphon Singers (UP Concert Chorus Alumni), The San Antonio Abad Chorale and violinists Jamer Yapchulay and his sister Jamelie.

Watch the "7 Last Words" on Good Friday, April 10, 12-3 PM, at the Shrine of the Divine Word (Christ the King Mission Seminary Compound, 101 E. Rodriguez, Sr. Blvd., Quezon City), with live telecast on ABS-CBN. The "7 Last Words" is brought to you by the Mission Communications Foundation, Inc. together with the SVD Secretariat for Social Communication and the Shrine of the Divine Word.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

This morning I gave the Final exam in my class in Philosophy of Man. It was also the final meeting of the class, well, at least for my lone lay student who is not my student in my other subject, Metaphysics (I teach to college students who are seminarians and nuns by the way).

I sometimes pity this student of mine for being the only lay in a class of religious men and women. But I admire him not only for being one of my bright students but also for his ability to relate with the whole class. Perhaps it is because he is also an active member of a Catholic charismatic community.

When I got home, I received an e-mail message from him. And because we will not anymore have the chance to meet each other in class, he sent me a message of thanks. Here it is, unedited:
Actually I learned a lot from our classes. I may not be able to express it fully in words, but the impact it created in me will help shape the way I view the world.

I think what I learned is beyond the academic. It is more of how I should see life in the way it should be seen. Even if I was not able to actually put much on paper this morning, the lessons will still stick with me.

Thank you for making it possible for us to learn more about life. I really see the point that there is more to life than what most people just see. And this affirms what was taught to us in the community, that happiness and meaning will only find its way if we allow ourselves to decide to do something about it, since no one can create that happiness and meaning for us, except us.

I do hope that you will continue to teach. Thanks for inspiring us! God bless!
In reply, I said:
You inspire me as well. Thanks for the appreciation. I learned a lot from my students as well. Pag wala kayo, walang silbi ang teacher. I find in you, my students, the meaning of being a teacher. I will never forget this first class I handled as a teacher. Perhaps the best reward is the fulfillment of the saying I learned when I was a college-seminarian in CKMS---Non scholae sed vitae discimus "We learn not for school but for life." (Shaks, teary-eyed na'ko. Seriously.) And I felt a sense of fulfillment when I read your message. This is a fitting point of reflection today, March 19, when I celebrate my 4th anniversary of graduating from college.
To Jerome James Cabrera, my sincerest gratitude!

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Walking Trip to Rizal's Manila

Last January I took my Rizal class on a trip to downtown Manila. Dubbed as "Rizal's Manila," our walking trip included esquinitas (alleys) and calles (streets), esteros (creeks) and rivers, districts, houses, churches, buildings, monuments and other structures already existing in the Spanish times or mentioned by Jose Rizal either in his literary works or in his diaries.

The trip began with a morning ferry ride through the Pasig river from Guadalupe to Escolta. References to the Pasig river abound in Rizal's works. In Chapter 1 of Noli me tangere, Rizal describes the Pasig river in his time:
...called by some the creek of Binondo, which, like all rivers of Manila at that time, combined the functions of public bath, sewer, laundry, fishery, waterway, and, should the Chinese water-pedlar find it convenient, even a source of drinking water. For a stretch of almost a kilometer this vital artery, with its bustling traffic and bewildering activity, hardly counted with one wooden bridge, and this one was under repair at one end for six months, and closed to traffic at the other end for the rest of the year. Indeed, in the hot season, carriage horses had been known to avail themselves of the situation and to jump into the water at this point...
And on his first trip outside Calamba, Rizal wrote in his diary:
I cannot describe the joys of cruising through the Pasig which years later would be the witness to my grief. This time I looked at each town we passed from the river: Cainta, Taytay, Antipolo, Manila, Sta. Ana. The last place was where we were going to visit my sister Saturnina or Neneng, who was a boarding student at La Concordia.
The river has since been, up to now, a public bath, sewer (very much evident), laundry, waterway, and a source of drinking water. Only that today, the river has been classified as dead. And Rizal would have been the witness to the river's grief. Although there's hesitation in describing it now as a fishery, I was happy to see that fish are back again.

The excitement of cruising through the Pasig river comes not only from the convenient and affordable ferry ride but also from the fact that riders will get to see views which are not a common sight.

We got off at Escolta ferry station and walked through Escolta street. During the Spanish and American occupation of the Philippines, Escolta was known as the commercial district of Manila. Its street was paved using cobblestones from Hongkong. At that time, Escolta was the only place in Manila where European luxury shops like Botica Boie, Beck's, La Estrella del Norte, Squires & Bingham, Erlanger & Galinger, and Oceanic could be found. Several magnificent European-style structures stood along the grandiose street, whose name originated from the mid-19th century when Spanish Captain-Generals paraded the street with heavy escorts and people shouted "Escorts!" Today, although Escolta is not anymore as grand as it was before, it remains a bustling commercial area (and a favorite shooting location for films and TV ads at that!), where traces of its old glory still stands.

At the far end of Escolta street lies Sta. Cruz church, built by the Jesuits in 1608 for the Chinese immigrants in Manila who converted to the Catholic faith. The church is also believed to be the site where Rizal's mother, Teodora Alonso, was baptized. But there's been a conspiracy behind the loss of her baptismal records in the church's archives.

Infront of the church, one finds the Carriedo fountain and the Arch of Goodwill which welcomes everyone to Ongpin street, the most popular street in Binondo.

Binondo is well-known as the local Chinatown and it prides itself as a very expensive real estate because it is said to be a lucky place, like the Greenhills area in San Juan. Thus, the Chinese and Chinoys (Chinese-Filipinos) are very attached to the place.

Ongpin street is an open shopping mall which sells anything from lucky charms to incense sticks and from Chinese tabloids and dailies to exotic foods and round fruits along its sidewalks.

Few people would care to know about the person after whom Ongpin street was named. Certainly, Ongpin is not in any way related to Ped Xing. After all, Ped Xing is not a person! Roman Ongpin was a businessman who owned a hardware store called "El 82" ("el ochenta y dos"). He contributed financially to the Philippine Revolution and was thus imprisoned by the Spaniards in 1896. Today, near the side entrance of the Binondo church, Ongpin's monument stands, holding an envelope. If you look at it closely, you will notice that the envelope in Ongpin's hand was pried open. Vandals hoped they could find some treasure in it.

A few steps from the plaza infront of Binondo church is Juan Luna street, formerly named Anloague street. We can remember from our highschool Rizal that Jose Rizal begins his Noli me tangere with a lavish party in Don Santiago (a.k.a. Kapitan Tiago) de los Santos' home in Calle Anloague. Ambeth Ocampo, in one of his articles, writes that "both house and street are gone" but one "can still find the site, based on other details in the novel" because although old buildings are now replaced with new ones, the general layout of a city (its rivers, creeks, alleys, streets, and highways) never changes. Ocampo, thus, continues:
Ibarra was staying in a hotel called the Fonda Francesca de Lala Ary, which used to be on 37 Calle de la Barraca. There are 19th century engravings showing the hotel. On its site now stands Allied Bank. Ibarra had a room overlooking the river (actually the "estero," or creek), and from his window he could hear the sound of Kapitan Tiago's party... From his room with a view, he could see Kapitan Tiago's house. The building across Allied Bank in Plaza del Conde (formerly Barraca) is the State Investment Building.
Armed with Ocampo's descriptive essays, our class had so much difficulty locating the present buildings where the old ones stood because, as Ocampo warns, "looking for the Manila of Rizal or the 19th century can be quite a challenge because of so many renamed streets." It only became easier for us when we found the old and abandoned building of State Investment.

Above: On the head of this building's rounded corner are the etched words "State Investment House" - the site where the actual house of Kapitan Tiago once stood. It's not hard to believe this because several plots which Rizal used in his works were based on factual, real, and historical events, places, and people. Now, we all know that Kapitan Tiago was a fictional character. The real owner of the house was Balvino Mauricio who later sold it to Telesforo Chuidan. Our class braved the foul smell of the nearby estero de Binondo as we loitered at the foot of this building and savored the moments when we came to the point of realizing that history is not dead but living, not abstract but very concrete, not static but dynamic.

Of course, what's a Rizal pilgrimage without a trip to Intramuros, Fort Santiago, and the Rizal Shrine?

And, needless to say, a visit to Rizal Park!

The whole-day trip, admittedly, gave us tired, aching feet and legs. But more important is the learning experience we could never have if learning about Rizal and history in general were confined to books and classrooms.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Of Substance & Style

My blog just had a makeover. Of course, you won't notice it unless you're my regular visitor. Unfortunately I can't show you the "Before-After" images for comparison, like the ones you see on facial and house interior makeovers.

This happens to be the first blog overhaul I did since the birth of this blog. I haven't really paid much attention to its lay-out until now. Being an artist, I knew that I should treat my readers to a feast for their eyes. The lay-out of any publication matters to me. It explains why the basis of my choice of any reading material, say a newspaper, is not only its substance or depth but also its style or the manner it's presented.

Glad that today I had the luxury of time (and electricity) to scrupulously edit the details of my blog's lay-out: from the color of the background to the style and colors of the font. I deleted unnecessary materials and added some interesting elements like Slideshow, Blog List, and Title Description. The new lay-out is simple and uncluttered, allowing the readers to focus on the essentials.

It is said that the only constant thing in this world is change. I beg to disagree. Things do change but something still remains the same. A person may change in many ways as she grows, but her personhood remains the same from birth to death. Similarly, a blog such as this may undergo editions but, essentially, it will always be The Real Makoy.