That Thing Called Tadhana

Source: spot.ph

Source: spot.ph

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.

Humpty Dumpty and the King

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the King’s horses, And all the King’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again!

Image source: npengage.com

Image source: npengage.com

The King himself went to see Humpty to try to fix him. The King saw Humpty broken with his parts scattered all over the ground. It looked tragic but not totally hopeless for Humpty was still alive. So then the King started talking to Humpty and slowly coaxed him to pick up the pieces and fix himself back. He even offered to help and then started picking up some broken parts. Humpty politely declined and begged the King to stop what he was doing. He tried to explain to the King:

“I know I can pick up the pieces and fix myself. I won’t be good as new. There will be missing pieces. There will be some parts that will be beyond repair, but I would still be able to function, then, maybe do new things. Maybe make a new life. A different life perhaps. Make new accomplishments or make new mistakes. Doesn’t really matter. I can walk a different path. The possibilities are endless.

I know it’s not the end for me. Not yet anyway. No, this isn’t the end. But for now, let me stay here. Let me lie here with the ruins. Let me not worry about the days being empty, because the day I pick up the pieces and put myself together is the day I start to stand up again. And when I do that, I would have to walk and leave this place. I would need to move on and keep walking, never look back and live life again. And today, I’m just not ready to do that.”

Image source: exchange.smarttech.com

Image source: exchange.smarttech.com

Note:
I’ve read this “Humpty and the King” story a long time ago. The original story was much, much shorter, about two to four sentences. I tried researching online but couldn’t find it, then somehow got inspired to rewrite it from what I could remember from it.

A Vicious Cycle

The cycle is hard to break. The shame in that admission consumes you.
The memories weigh heavy on your soul. What did you do to deserve this?
The tears don’t come no more. Instead, a dark shadow haunts your gaze.
You are young but weary, your bones creaking to the weight of your solitude.
The darkness will soon have to give way for the sunrise. But how can you appreciate the burst of colors if you keep your gaze down.
Time has long deserted you. The days are all the same.
They come and they go and you are stuck in a place where the past, the present and the future is a haunting ballad on a loop.
Time is a box of matte black and white photographs that remind you of a happier time and a dull ache that never goes away.
Someday, somehow, you have got to stop giving him the power to hurt you.

 

 

 

A Non-lover’s Love Letter

You’ve always been quiet. Sometimes I wonder what’s going on in that head of yours but most of the time I’m just content with the reassurance of your hands holding mine. You always tease me that maybe I talk too much to compensate for your silence. I would pretend to take offense so you’d kiss me as a way of apology.

I love waking up on Sunday mornings with the scent of your skin and the comfort of your arms around me. I’d gaze outside the window and wonder how many people out there are as lucky as I am to be with the man I love.

Infinity is when the wind plays with my hair as we cruise on deserted roads on your bike as the stars keep score on us. And as I close my eyes, I throw a wish that I could hold you like that forever.

We never had arguments but we had bitter fights that would leave me cold and desolate. Your defeaning silence used to tear me apart. We would go on days hurting each other, caring for our pride before we would succumb to a reconciliation.

When I stare at your eyes, I’m reminded of why I love you. And it’s not because you make fluffy pancakes or that you fix my computer because I keep doing the same stupid thing on it, or that you do not go out on Fridays because I always have to work Friday nights, or that you don’t get mad even if I don’t watch those movies you like so much; it’s because I like myself better when I’m with you. At times, you could make me the happiest person on earth. Other times, you could hurt me like no one else could. But always, I feel like I’m a better version of me when I’m with you. I don’t tell you this because sometimes I feel the shame in admitting that.

I have vague recollections of why we broke up. Did we grow apart? Did you get tired of my immaturity? Did I have enough of your silence? But I remember that day we finally said goodbye. You hugged me and wished me a good life. And I had to hold back my tears and pretended to be brave and wished you happiness.

I didn’t hear from you for so long. I did move on and tried to see other people. And so many things have happened since then. You became a distant memory of a first love that haunts me on lazy Sunday afternoons.

And now you’re back and we’re talking again and it’s like the old times. I talk to you about work and writing again and how Sheldon cracks me up. And you’re still quiet but you smile while you listen to my stories. And I couldn’t tell you how much I missed your smile. When you said you would want us to have dinner at our favorite place because you haven’t been there for a while, I had to remind you I still couldn’t go out on Fridays. I thought my heart would explode when you said it was okay because you still don’t go out on Fridays. I could only manage a weak smile but I wanted to hug you so hard that time and tell you how much I have missed you.

I am so happy that you’re back that it scares me to think of you leaving again. And so I’m writing you this because I want to tell you that I’ve watched those movies you downloaded for me (I still don’t like them though), and that I’ve tried so many recipes to make the pancakes the way you make them and that I miss you holding my hand while we wait for the train.

And so before I go to sleep. I pray that in the morning, I’d wake up next to you, bathed in the scent of your skin, finding bliss in your arms around me.

Photo courtesy of weheartit.com

Photo courtesy of weheartit.com

Witching Hours

Once there was a witch who lived in the outskirts of town. The townspeople were wary of her although she has not bothered anybody. She was an orphan who has learned to slay her own dragons.

One day as she was roaming the forest, she came upon a man who has fallen off his horse. He was badly hurt. Unbeknownst to her, he was a prince from a nearby kingdom. She brought him home and nursed him back to health. While the prince was staying at her home, he fell in love with the witch. He confessed to her and asked her to marry him. She said yes for she has fallen for him, too. The prince bade her goodbye with a promise to return for their wedding.

When the prince got back to the castle, everyone was overjoyed, especially the king. He asked everyone to work on the prince’s wedding. The prince told him that he is going to marry the witch, and the king said it was preposterous. They were royalty and should not marry commoners, especially, outcasts. The prince tried to reason out but the king insisted since the princess is from a kingdom much bigger than theirs; hence, a very auspicious union.

The prince, weak as he was, was convinced it was the right thing to do to marry the princess. The wedding was festive and well-attended. When the witch found out about it, she wept hard and cursed her fate. She grieved the loss of his love and tried to forget about the man who betrayed him.

Meanwhile, the prince couldn’t live with the guilt of breaking his promise to his beloved. And no matter how beautiful and kind his princess is, he could never learn to love her. On warm nights when the stars glow bright and the trees whisper the secrets of the past, he could her the laughter of the witch and he swore he could smell the scent of her hair. The prince had a recurring nightmare of riding his horse on the forest and running after a woman in a billowing red skirt. But before he could catch her, he gets thrown off the horse.

His sleepless nights started to take a toll on his health and he got ill. Upon hearing about this, the witch went to the castle and volunteered to care for him. Realizing that she was the woman his son fell in love with, the king rejected her offer and sent her away. The prince died shortly thereafter.

The witch mourned the prince’s death and after a considerable amount of time, moved on and lived a full life. She slayed her own dragons and did not wait for princes or knights on a white horse. There were nights though when the moon is bright and the stars flood the skies and if you listen closely to the rustling of the leaves, you can hear the prince asking forgiveness from the witch and telling her that she was his true princess.

Photo courtesy of bailiandi.blogspot.com

Photo courtesy of bailiandi.blogspot.com

Rainy Mornings

Photo source: wallpapers-xs.blogspot.com

Photo source: wallpapers-xs.blogspot.com

I used to find comfort in your silence just like when darkness shields me from the glare of reality. It can’t be blue skies every day. Sometimes the day is gray and the heavens cry but we both love the rain — the sound of it, the smell and how it brings childhood memories of pink dresses and ribbons and ice cream, and how you said that the sound of rain drops make for a good soundtrack.

I used to pray that the universe bring us together. Now I realize how selfish I was. I don’t see you often now but sometimes you show up in my dreams, some hazy visions of the past. You used to tell me that I don’t have to hide the pain behind my smile and that my eyes never lie. Well, then I’m just glad you can’t see me now. I am happy that you found happiness. I tell myself that every day until I feel like I can start believing my own lie.

And on rainy mornings, I stay in bed and look out the window and wonder if you still look up at the sky and ask why she’s crying.

Haircuts And Supposed New Beginnings

I have been meaning to have my hair cut. I miss having short hair. I was planning to have it before Chinese New Year but only last Saturday was I able to drag my ass to the salon.

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Now most people usually associate haircuts with changes. There are those who get haircut to celebrate a milestone in life. Some get haircuts after a breakup. Most people do it on or before new year. For some, they do it out of sheer boredom. And I happen to know people who does it religiously.

I usually get two to three haircuts a year. They range from a trim to a new style to a really short cut. I also had a three-year stint of curly hair. I have loved it. The only problem with having curly hair (if your natural hair is straight) is to decide when to stop having your hair curled. A tough decision to make, mind you.

So anyway, I’m loving my new hair. It makes me a look a bit more mature — fine, older! But I like it. This cut doesn’t really signify a big change in me but it’s more of a reminder for me to do more of what I want to do. My haircut is a renewal of my oft pushed back promise to live more and be less invisible. Big words, huh? That’s what a new haircut does to me.