Pasinaya Festival 2015 (A one-day stint at the museum)

A day after Valentine’s Day, the Cultural Center of the Philippines held the Pasinaya 2015, considered the biggest multi-arts festival in the country, and probably the most fun, too. Pasinaya is CCP’s open-house festival showcasing performances in music, theater, dance, visual arts, film and literature. With thousands of artists participating and approximately 50,000 audience, it does speak volumes of the richness of the culture and arts of the Filipinos.

A few weeks ago, I was invited by CCP to volunteer for the event, and I could not think of a reason to say no even if the pre-event orientation and meetings were done on weekdays, which clashes big time with my sleep schedule since I work nights. At 4:30 a.m. on February 15, I boarded a cab to CCP since our call time was at 5. I got there just in the nick of time and joined a crowd of volunteers clad in white shirts and mostly jeans. Just like me, they seemed slightly anxious about the day’s event. I haven’t had coffee and was drowsy, clutching my notebook in the shadowy corridor at the second floor. Our group was mostly students who were either interning or simply volunteering with CCP, with the rest like me, yuppies with too much time on their hands. I think.

At around 6, Ms. Fatima Gahol, CCP’s volunteer coordinator, gave out our shirts and IDs and instructed us to follow our designated coordinators. From being a Jeepney tour coordinator, I was reassigned to man the booth at the National Art Gallery (National Museum), which would start 9-ish. Garbed in a jersey-esque yellow Pasinaya shirt and with the matching festival ID so the crowd could easily identify us as Pasinaya know-it-alls (even if in reality, I wouldn’t be able to accurately direct you to nor identify the Little Theater and the Dream Theater), I was left to wonder where the shuttle that was supposed to take me to the National Museum is and the even bigger question: what to do with the 3 hours before my task. Good thing there was Kara, a friendly grad student I met during the orientation, who also had the same dilemma: where the shuttle terminal is and what to do before her deployment at the NCCA. We asked around, from guards to ushers to co-volunteers but they were also clueless and kept pointing us to different places. We gave up and had coffee instead at the nearby Krispy Kreme. We waited at the cafe, Kara with her assigned readings, me with my little notebook of random lists. When the pre-show crowd started to gather at Pedro Bucaneg (Yes, I know where Bucaneg is), we sauntered off to join them and tried again to look for the shuttle but to no avail. Kara and I strolled around, mingling with the early morning joggers and took pictures instead. My not-so-dependable smartphone with faulty white balance had these photos that look like the CCP circa 70s.


The pre-show started unceremoniously with dance performances by a high school dance troupe in Bulacan, followed by another dance number but this time from various groups from Marikina. And because they’re from Marikina, naturally, they had to have the giant pair of shoes. Too bad I didn’t take pictures of them. After Marikina came the ASEAN delegates, or so I heard. This time, Kara and I wandered again looking for our shuttle. We were pointed to the parade paticipants preparing for the start of the festival and to my relief, my
coordinator was there, Ms. Minda. She invited me and Kara to join the parade, right there in front to hold the Pasinaya tarp. What an honor, except my face really couldn’t be seen because I’m too short for the height we were keeping the tarp at. At one point, I also stumbled because I barely could see anything in front of me. Who would have thought a tarp-carrying task would be so tough and utterly risky. Behind us were firetrucks, (No kidding!) carrying the performers of the resident companies of the CCP like Ballet Philippines, Philippine Madrigal Singers, Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group, Tanghalang Pilipino and many others, complete with a lovely marching band. It was an awe-inspiring moment for me, no wonder I was tripping on flat ground.

After the parade, we boarded the shuttle and off to our assignments. Kara went to NCCA while I went to the National Museum with Ms. Minda and Jen, another volunteer. Ms. Minda and Jen headed to the Old Senate Session Hall, (which by the way is one of my favorite places inside the National Museum, second only to the gallery that houses the Spoliarium, because, duh, Spoliarium), to coordinate the Pasinaya performances of the Thomasian Bassoon Ensemble, CEU Singers Manila and the Mapua Cardinal Singers. Meanwhile, I had a table at the entrance of the museum stacked with Pasinaya brochures and CCP summer calendar. Also, I had the yellow Pasinaya wristbands selling for PHP 50, which serves as the onetime fee to watch the performances of the festival as well as the tour of the participating museums: the National Museum where I was deployed, Casa Manila, NCCA Gallery, Bahay Tsinoy, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, 1335 Mabini Gallery, De La Salle College of St. Benilde’s Museum of Contemporary Arts and Design, Museo Marino and Museo Pambata. Not bad for PHP 50, right? Actually, the festival prides on Pay what you can, Watch all you want. Meaning, it’s okay if you don’t want to or can’t afford the PHP 50, you can still enjoy the festival. Because arts. Yay!

The entrance of the National Museum

The entrance of the National Museum

So I spent the whole morning talking to museum guests about Pasinaya and was assisted by two legitimate Musuem ladies, (they actually work at the museum). I got to talk to a lot of tourists, which was kind of exciting and intimidating at first but also really fun, especially if you like talking to tall people. After lunch, Ms. Minda invited me to watch the CEU Singers Manila. It was a 15-minute rendition of original Kundimans, and it was just beautiful. Kind of romantic. What can I say, I am impartial to the venue and the songs. As I was languidly basking in the moment of almost bliss, I was also manning one of the entrances, making sure the left door remains closed so as not to interrupt the performance, then a few moments after, started discreetly counting the audience in attendance. Every performance’s audience had to be counted. Part of the job.

This is the Old Senate Session Hall. If you squint, you can see on the right, part of the concert audience

This is the Old Senate Session Hall. If you squint, you can see on the right, part of the concert audience

After the dreamy performance by the ladies and gents in blue, I headed back to my desk job, but this time, the audience had thinned out since it was siesta time. From time to time, the Pasinaya free shuttle comes in, and a horde of museum pilgrims would barge through the heavy glass doors. Some would approach me either looking for the bathroom or inquiring about the concert schedule. I have never been more friendly in my life. Not once did I ever snark, not even on my haggard-looking reflection on the slightly creepy museum bathroom. I think that was a side effect of working in a museum. Being around beautiful things, you run out of things to snark on. Not even the noisy Korean kids who were impatiently waiting for their guide and loitering the lobby, nor the hipster-ish European guy who probably thought I was selling a sketchy tour or the rowdy teens who would rudely get brochures without so much as a hi. Well, hello to you, too. Sure, you can have the brochures because, you know, we really care about your art education, hence, we are also concerned that your heavily printed shirt clashes strongly with your floral skater skirt. And don’t let me start on that eyeshadow, missy. Nope, did not snark on them. Not until now, anyway.

The view from my desk

The view from my desk

Before I knew it, the clock struck four. It was a wrap. Ms. Minda, Jen and I gathered our stuff and waited for the shuttle to take us back to CCP. I got separated with them and got into a shuttle with the Mapua singers. When I got back to CCP, it was drizzling but there was a crowd left, probably waiting for the People’s Gala, the closing ceremony. I headed to the volunteers’ headquarters to sign out for the day. As I was heading out of CCP, opting to skip the dinner at the MKP Hall, I realized how long the day had been and how tired I was. It was 5-ish and the sky was dark. I had to walk to Vito Cruz LRT station because I couldn’t figure out where the CCP-Vito Cruz orange shuttles were. But it was the good kind of tired, knowing you’ve been productive and had been part of something beautiful. Cheesy, I know. But true.

So thank you, CCP, for inviting me to be a part of Pasinaya 2015. I’m definitely looking forward to more festivals.

Photo taken by Kara de Guzman

Photo taken by Kara de Guzman

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss



Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.
It’s opener there
in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t
Because, sometimes, you won’t.
I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.
You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.
You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.
And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…
…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.
With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!
Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.
Except when they don’t.
Because, sometimes, they won’t.
I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.
All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.
And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.
But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.
On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.
You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

*Sometimes this cheers me up.

Other times, this makes me weep. And right now, I think it kinda does.

That Thing Called Tadhana



My friends and I braved second row seats just to watch That Thing Called Tadhana, which means that for most of the time, we were craning our necks to watch the full screen. At around 2 p.m., most seats have already been sold for the 5:40 show, which obviously wouldn’t have been the case had Glorietta assigned one cinema solely for Tadhana. This was surprising for us since the movie has been getting rave reviews and a Grade A from critics. But lo and behold, it only has three screenings and had to share screen with a foreign film, a quite ironic reminder of the status of the local cinema.

The opening title with its quirky dialogue and animated story will ease you towards what the movie is about, a toungue-in-cheek and an all-too familiar story about moving on from a heartbreak. One can easily dismiss it as a stereotypical rom-com with good-looking characters in a narrative woven so as to ensure a happy albeit cheesy ending. When I watched the trailer, it was one of my fears that the movie would be a formulaic melodrama punctuated by Angelica Panganiban’s funny one-liners and JM de Guzman’s adorable smile. And it was that PLUS so much more. It was an honest depiction of the grief of losing a lover, the enormous weight of the memories and the bond that keeps it hard to move on, the pain of betrayal, the stupidity of holding on, the insecurity that eats you up after the rejection and the fear of being alone and of never finding love ever again.

Mace, played by Angelica Panganiban, was the heroine who got jilted by her boyfriend of eight years. Sounds familiar, right? She left Manila to be with her boyfriend who has been working in Italy, only to find out he had been seeing another woman, a colleague. His infamous parting words were, “Di na kita, mahal. Makakaalis ka na.” He’s quite a catch, isn’t he? As Mace would further illustrate, he ended their eight-year relationship with seven words. Let the math sink in. Then carefully consider this, had he made it an eight-word rejection, maybe, just maybe, it would have been more acceptable? Easier to digest? As they say, there’s safety in numbers. How about if he respectfully said,”Di na PO kita, mahal. Makakaalis ka na?” Or tried a sharper one, “Di na nga kasi kita mahal. Ang kulit mo.” But maybe what he really wanted to say was, “Iba na kasi mahal ko. Ganun talaga minsan, magigising ka na lang, iba na mahal mo.”

An irritating part of moving on is replaying the last moments, overthinking what has been said, looking for the loopholes in the past and rationalizing the ending. Mace grappled with the separation because she couldn’t figure out what she did wrong. Most of us get this wrong too often. She didn’t do anything wrong. The guy found someone else. Still familiar, right?

So Mace goes home, meets a cute harmless-looking Pinoy on her flight with a knight in the shining armor flare to remind us that this is a rom-com because in a movie you just don’t simply meet a guy. Something has to happen like he rescues you from the zombies or he is the heir apparent of the hacienda your family works for. Anthony, played by JM de Guzman, is a yuppie who throws around the word “burgis”(bourgeois) ever so casually, which would have endeared his character to me since burgis happens to be my go-to insult for practically everything wrong with the middle class (side eye #JusticeForDLSZ) except he is burgis himself. He has a car, has just vacationed in Italy, has a seemingly high-paying job and has the luxury to be insecure with his talent. Okay, now that wasn’t really burgis. Haha.

So then in the movie, we follow these two as they go on a road trip to Baguio and Sagada, which Anthony thinks is a favorite of the burgis to go soul searching. The film doesn’t disappoint Baguio City’s Tourism Office with its showcase of the popular tourist spots like The BenCab Museum, Cafe by the Ruins, Session Road and even the strawberry taho. Then we go further north because as Anthony has told Mace, there is a place there, which can help you ease your burden, a beautiful place on top of the clouds, literally. Here we see Mace break down and beg to let go of her heartache while Anthony tries his damnedest to look sympathetic without taking away screen focus from Mace. That almost endeared him to me except I couldn’t forgive him for not borrowing or renting a tent and letting Mace spend the night before without protection from the cold. I dare you to sleep under the stars in Sagada and not wake up with a bad case of colds. I mean, just before they slept that night, they were at an indoor cafe and she was shivering from the cold. Now explain how she survived the night. Also, Anthony didn’t even bother picking up their mat and blanket in a hurry to get to the perfect spot. Try explaining that to mountaineers and foresters.

So then we follow the duo, more mellow now that they have seemed to have accepted their path and more intent to move on. By this time I couldn’t really help imagining how much they stink since they haven’t taken a shower. So I was very excited for hygiene’s sake when they got back to Manila. Finally, they’ll get to lather. But life’s fucked up. Mace has an unexpected guest waiting for her at the gate of her house. Oops, spoiler alert. Sorry. On the other hand, Anthony goes home in a dark typically unsafe-looking cab (hello, white cab with a cheesy name) deep in thought before breaking into a hopeful smile, easily my favorite scene (but second only to the one where Mace recounted how her boyfriend likes her to put ketchup on his hotdog because i’m mature like that}.

One of my guilts about the story is that I could not feel sorry for Mace despite what she went through and even when she threatens to flood the audience with her never-ending supply of tears. I couldn’t share her pain and I wasn’t sure if it was because I only hear her talking about the breakup and then cry some more and that there were no tangible or more visual representations. Or did I miss them? Or maybe I wasn’t meant to. Maybe sharing the pain wasn’t the point. Maybe rooting for her to pull through it all was. Because just like your friend who got dumped by a douche, you walk with her as she tries to survive her agony even if it means listening to countless retelling of ex memories or singing cheesy videoke songs.

I’m not sure if I am alone in this but I also couldn’t bring myself to believe that Mace and Anthony will end up together. I am strongly hoping though that they both fully let go of their past and meet someone new in their lives. That’s why I like Anthony’s cab ride at the end, it was like a peek at his future. But this is a rom-com, and as the epilogue suggests, it’s a happy ending for them. And we need happy endings. No one can disagree with that.

So ladies and gentlemen, watch That Thing Called Tadhana if you are a fan of Antoinette Jadaone’s quirky, relatable writing; if you appreciate Angelica Panganiban’s comedic timing and you think JM de Guzman is adorable; if you want a traditional rom-com for approximately half the cost of a bus ride from Manila to Baguio; if you like a movie that can really make you laugh, and that includes inside jokes about John Lloyd Cruz and Derek Ramsey, if you’re into that, I mean; if you believe in destiny (tadhana), and also if you think it’s pure BS; if you have been crazy and stupidly in love and maybe have lost it, too. Because sometimes a funny movie about how stupid love can be is a good reminder that you may be lonely but definitely not alone. Mace will literally tell you that.

To suck the marrow out of life



Whenever I watch a film, I expect to be moved, to laugh and cry with the characters, to fall in love, to be enraged. To be someone else. I haven’t been to the cinema for some time now. The last time I went, it was Toni Gonzaga and Piolo Pascual’s Starting Over Again. Toni’s antics were hilarious. Piolo Pascual was his usual almost sinfully looking self. I didn’t enjoy it. I dozed off in some parts. That movie seemed unreasonably lengthy. One of its tragedies was that the writer couldn’t make me fall in love with Iza Calzado. I was torn between rooting for her and silently hoping she’d meet someone else, someone who would be fully into her, someone who wouldn’t sleep with an ex. She deserved better. I deserved a better movie.

I have just watched Dead Poets Society on my laptop. I’ve been a Robin Williams fan ever since Mrs. Doubtfire. Mr. Williams could certainly play anyone and own the character. He makes it easy for us to empathize with him, to wish he was our English teacher. This film has the characters you could easily identify in real life: the strict and authoritative teachers/boss/parents, the rebellious rich kid, the snitch, the pretty girl with the jerk, the lovestruck boy after the pretty girl, the quiet smart guy and the aspiring actor whose parents want him to be a doctor.

It was exhilarating when Todd told a story in front of the class, his first time to address an audience and to yawp. I also felt like ripping something when the class ripped Dr. Pritchard’s essay. I wanted to claw Cameron’s eyes after he snitched about the DPS and Mr. Keating.

I was guilty yet hopeful when I realized I’m practically Mr. Keating’s realist colleague and disheartened to be reminded that as you grow older, you meet a lot of Mr. Nolans and Mr. Perrys. But that it’s also heartwarming that I have my Todds and Nuwandas and Pitts and Meeks.

I was floored when Neil took his life. I wept for a youth that will never blossom, for a talent nipped in the bud and for freedom in death. I felt no shame in weeping. For a while, I was Todd puking in the snow. I lost a friend in Neil. His death reminds me of life’s cruelties: like a super typhoon killing thousands, like corrupt politicians who just won’t die, like a president who had to be cajoled in paying respects to fallen soldiers, like being a prejudged minority living in a war zone, in constant fear of the rebels and the government.

The last scene when Mr. Keating bid the class goodbye while the DPSs were standing on their desks took on a different meaning now that Mr. Williams is dead. Thank you for the voices, the humor and for sharing to the world your immense talent. May you have found peace.

Thank you also to my teachers who have guided me and have been a source of inspiration for without them I would have sat through, wide awake, a lame movie like Starting Over Again and missed out on precious naps.

Oh captain, my captain! Life sucks but may we always be reminded to take a different perspective. The view is different on top of your desk.