Friday, August 26, 2011

August 27 To September 2

Special Features: Why I Love Dolphy, Why The World Needs Show Business
Reprint Feature: Moammar Ghadafi – The King of Kings – Insane?
Videos: Rare Dophy-Panchito clip, Dolphy and NiƱo Muhlach in Lino Brocka’s Ang Tatay Kong Nanay, Cheche Lazaro’s The Probe Profiles, The storming of Ghadafi’s Bab al-Azizya in Tripoli, Christian Bautista’s I’m Already King
Artists of the Week: Rockstar, Roeder, Tavares

Why The World Needs Show Business

Sociologists invariably look at the show business of a particular country because it best determines the level of sophistication of its culture. Here in the Philippines, show business is a way of life for the average Filipino -- even if most of us never appear on the limelight, those who do have become part of our lives. This explains why we tend to call celebrities by their first-names even if they are complete strangers.

There are, of course, certain celebrities who have defied time by the longevity and stability of their career. Who first comes to mind but Dolphy? The one and only King of Comedy in the Philippines, he is definitely a pillar, an institution, not only in Philippine show business, but also in Philippine popular culture as a whole. Why I Love Dolphy, my new special feature (See below), pays grand tribute to this iconic living legend. The title explains it all but can never really approximate the full significance of the contributions of this simple man at heart.

Why I Love Dolphy

Dolphy and Panchito are doing a skit in the radio show Tawag Ng Tanghalan. Panchito will say a line from a Tagalog song and Dolphy will translate it in English.

First line is “Bahay kubo,” and the translation is “Nipa hut.” Panchito smiles, visibly pleased that things are going smoothly. He gives the next line, “Kahit munti,” anticipating “Even if it's small.” But Dolphy said: “National Penitentiary!” Panchito almost explodes.

“Munti,” explains Dolphy, very embarrassed (part of the script). Muntinlupa – that's where the Bilibid Prison is.”

Dolphy is a living legend, an immortal screen icon in Pinoy pop culture, the one and only King of Comedy – inimitable, irreplaceable.

We all love Dolphy – who doesn't? He fully deserves the respect and loyalty of the Filipino nation. They say that doing comedy is harder than drama – easier to make the audience cry than laugh – but Dolphy made us do both, even on a personal level; we grieve for his heartaches, and rejoice at his victories.
This is why his autobiography Dolphy: Hindi Ko Ito Narating Na Mag-Isa, as told to Bibeth Orteza and published by his son Eric's Kaizz Ventures, is a milestone  Rodolfo Vera Quizon was born on July 25, 1928. His mother, Salud Vera, was a seamstress with her own shop. His father, Melencio Quizon, was a mechanic for American battleships, a natural comic, and his number one fan.         

“He's my son, he's my son!” he would proudly declare during Dolphy's performances – so the audience would watch him instead of those on the stage.

Dolphy remembers his childhood like it was only yesterday For instance, he did not run, unlike some of his friends, when he first saw what circumcision was like. He explains that the operations were done at their house, “So where will I go?”

Dolphy was already a veteran of a series of back-breaking manual jobs when he first took the step towards show business at 16. His father introduced him to Bennie Mack, the guy in charge of musical numbers in Avenue Theater, where he started as a chorus dancer.

He can speak Chinese, and when the show needed a Chinese character for a skit, he took the plunge, like Bill Murray, created the character sketch of Golay, a good-hearted but somewhat dim-witted Chinaman, who became an instant hit.

Dolphy grew in Manila that was radically different from the one today. He was a Tondo boy with none of the negative connotations. He studied elementary at Isabelo de los Reyes and high school at Florentino Torres. His favorite subjects were History and Mathematics. “Public schools were excellent in those days,” he reminisces, “You won't be ashamed if you came from one.”

His resume of odd jobs is stunning. Dolphy had, among many other things, shined shoes and sewed buttons at a pants factory. “Oh, I was good at sewing, excuse me,” his mischievously tells Bibeth.

The Japanese occupation brought great hardships for his family. His father lost his job and had to hide. Dolphy became a breadwinner. He got a job classifying bottles, and another job carrying sacks of rice “heavier than me.” The Japanese he encountered were cruel, and like Jose Rizal, he suffered from the physical, emotional and psychological agony wrought by the racial discrimination of the foreign invaders.

There's one job he particularly remembers – he had to carry large metal basins of cooking oil up slippery ramps into ships docked at the pier. “I was crying,” he recalls, not without pain. “Magsisimula pa lang ang araw, gusto ko nang matapos agad (The day was just starting, but I already want it to end).”

With the money he earned, he would help with his family's needs. Dolphy is essentially a simple guy at heart.

Makatikim lang ako ng tinapay na may matamis na bao, sa loob ko, big time na ako (If I could have just bread with coconut jam, I think to myself, I'm already big time).”
Dolphy entered show business and made a name for himself – at the height of the vaudeville era. This is where real talent is the foremost requirement to survive the competition.

The iconic theaters of post-War Manila – Life, Avenue, Lyric, Majestic, Orient – Dolphy had graced them all with his performances, becoming in effect his training ground to becomingt he top-caliber artist he is now.
        Even in his early career, he had worked with some of the most formidable figures of Philippine theater and radio, and has established life-long friendships with them all – Teroy de Guzman, Ading Fernando, Fernando “Naning Poe Sr., Tommy Angeles, Panchito, Bayani Casimiro, Pugo, Tugo, Conde Obalde and many more.

Dolphy's friendship with Fernando Poe Jr. -- Da King of Philippine Movies – is a legend in itself. Dolphy and FPJ are also known for their private generosity, helping others without publicity nor fanfare.

It was actually because of these two titans that Joseph Estrada was inspired to establish the Movie Workers' Welfare Fund (Mowelfund) which exists – and continues to financially support industry workers – up to this day.

Another good friend is Eddie Gutierrez, who gave his own memories of Dolphy. When his wife Annabelle was giving birth to twin boys – who would eventually grow up to become Richard and Raymond – Dolphy was very excited and gave all-out support to the young couple and their babies Eddie's description is incontestable and absolutely perfect: Dolphy is “The greatest actor in Philippine cinema.”

Moammar Ghadafi – The King of Kings – Insane?

Ghadafi has been overthrown but still in hiding as of writing. The rebel forces led by Mahmoud Jibril of the National Transitional Council had stormed Ghadafi’s fortified stronghold of Bab al-Azizya fortress August 23, 2011. More than 400 people have been killed and mor than 2,000 wounded in the three days of fighting in Tripola but freedom is in the air in Libya. This story originally appeared Sept. 29, 2009 in AllVoices

United Nations – This is a tale of two maiden speeches at the General Assembly. If the leader of the United States “re-engaged the United Nations,” then the leader of Libya disengaged from reality. Moammar Ghadafi, with a mind-bending intro as the “Leader of the Revolution, the President of the African Union, the King of Kings in Africa,” took the podium and made even Ahmadinejad sound normal.

The Great Ghadafi Extravaganza ran for 90 minutes, just a wee past his allotted 15, and “took about 17 minutes to get to the main point of his speech, which was a demand for an African seat on the Security Council,” says the New York Times.
But that’s pedestrian. His other ideas are a lot more colorful:
  • Move the U.N. headquarters to Libya
  • Establish an autonomous emirate for the Taliban
  • Swine flue is a lab-cooked WMD
  • Re-open the assassination cases of JFK and Martin Luther King
  • Israel and the Palestinian territories should merge as a single state – “Isratine”

Huggybear’s LSS

What’s on my mind is Christian Bautista’s I’m Already King, theme from his Indonesian movie My Special Symphony

Artists of the Week

OPM English: Rockstar

OPM Tagalog: Roeder

International: Tavares

Huggybear’s Favorite Tavares Songs

Hardcore Poetry

Penny For Your Thoughts

Somebody Warm Like Me

Huggybear’s Favorite Roeder (Tagalog) Song

Sana Naman

Huggybear’s Favorite Rockstar (English) Song

Parting Time

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Our 2Rivers August 20 To 26 Issue

Special Reprint Feature: Imaginary Interview with Ninoy Aquino
Essays: Why I Won’t Mind If Jessica Zafra Rules The World, Huggybear’s Latest Published Short Story
Videos: Ninoy Aquino’ Plan for Mindanao, Sting & The Police’s King of Pain and Wrapped Around Your Finger, Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman in Doubt. Jollibee ‘Hong Kong’ and ‘I Love You Sabado’ TV commercials. Al Pacino in The Devil's Advocate, Lino Brocka’s Macho Dancer
Artists of the Week: Janet Basco. Archie D, Mike & The Mechanics

Imaginary Interview With Ninoy Aquino

This story originally appeared March 30, 2009 in AllVoices

Manila – Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., the greatest Filipino of the 20th century, talks to 2Rivers about the state of Philippine politics today and why democracy is still the best hope for the future. The questions are fiction but the answers are his direct quotes. from Ninoy: Ideals & Ideologies, 1932 – 1983 (The Benigno S. Aquino Foundation Jr. Foundation Inc., © 1993). Excerpts:

Q. Senator Aquino, there are those who say that what the Philippines need is a strong leader, like Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore or Mahathir of Malaysia. In this context, is democracy still relevant?

A. The struggle in the Philippines today is between those who have been mesmerized by the efficiency of authoritarianism and those who still hold that democracy, with all its flaws and inefficiency, is man’s best hope for betterment and progress. Man’s sense of justice makes democracy possible, man’s injustice makes it necessary.

Q. But don’t you think there is too much conflicting views in a democratic setting?

A. I agree that we must have public order and national discipline if the country is to move forward, [but] The philosophy of democracy rests not on the belief in the natural goodness of man, but in his educability, not in the inevitability of social progress but in the potentialities of nature and intelligence. The essence of democratic faith is that through the continuing process of political education, men can be sufficiently reasonable to discover, with evidence and give-and-take of free discussion, a better way of solving problems.

Q. Senator, how would you characterize a democratic society?

A. A free society reconciles liberty and equality, rejects liberal freedom without equality and total equality without freedom. Its essence is the absence of special privilege. Its guarantee is an equal opportunity for self-fulfillment for every citizen. It is dynamic, not static, open to change, be it gradual or rapid, for no on does possess the last word, and the world of men and nature is in constant flux.

Q. President Gloria Arroyo’s public trust ratings are even lower than those of Joseph Estrada during Edsa 2. Every year for half a decade, the opposition files for her impeachment, her allies would override it, and reports about Congressional bribery would leak to the media. But the idea is ‘Majority Rules.’ Would you call this democratic?

A. I believe democracy is not just majority rule, but informed majority rule, and due respect for the rights of the minorities. It means while the preference of the majority must prevail, there should be full opportunity for all points of view to find expression. It means toleration for opposition opinion. Where you find suppression of minority opinion, there is no real democracy.

Q. Another annual phenomena in the Philippines are talks of coup de ‘etat. Would you condone a military take-over to force a change of leadership?

A. Why should I advocate a violent overthrow of our government? I am one of the lucky few who never lost an election – from mayor, to vice-governor, to governor, to Senator. Why should I want to destroy a form of government that has served me well? In fact, in 1972, I was within a stone’s throw away from the highest office within the gift of our people – the Presidency.

Q. Since 2001, the Arroyo administration has been trying to shift into a unicameral parliamentary form of government with a new constitution because of the ‘gridlock” brought about by the political opposition, specifically, the Senate. Should we place limitations on the opposition?

A. An opposition party is indispensable in a democracy. The opposition should act the critic of the party in power, developing, defining and presenting the policy alternatives which are necessary for a true choice in public decision-making. It must therefore be guaranteed not only protection but existence, and must be allowed to speak freely and unafraid.

Q. Politicians are always dismissed as “grandstanding” whenever they speak out regarding a major issue, such as the accusations that Ms. Arroyo rigged the 2004 elections and that First Gentleman Mike Arroyo took bribes from ZTE Corp. of China for the national broadband network project. In these cases, what should the responsibility of the opposition be?

A. To speak and denounce rampant injustices. Justice can only be realized only when those who have not been victimized become as outraged as those who have been. [The opposition’s] role is to fight for the people. Whether they will show gratitude or not, immediately, later or never, should not enter our calculations. That is our fate: to fight for what is right.

Q. But some politicians over-react from time to time, to the level of name-calling and gutter language. For example, the feud between Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile. There’s also a word war between Sen. Manuel Villar and Sen. Panfilo Lacson. Sen. Bong Revilla took the floor and personally attacked a doctor who was involved in a video scandal, calling him names like “maniac” and “pervert.” Sen. Jamby Madrigal cursed Gilbert Remulla, the spokesman for the Nacionalista Party and former Cavite congressman, on national radio. Where do you draw the line?

A. We believe we are the people of God endowed with reason – which lifts us from the brute – from which we derive our standards of morality, justice and rational method of ascertaining our duty to our fellowmen and community. [But] In the end we get the government we deserve. No social or political organization can be better than the quality of the men and women who compose it.

Q. There are criticisms about how the media sensationalize issues to boost their ratings. Are those criticisms valid?

A. A free media is indispensable if a democracy is to function efficiently, if it is to be real. The people, who are sovereign, must be adequately informed all the time. These I hold sacred: the inherent dignity and worth of every human being, freedom of thought and speech and press, his liberty to choose – without fear or pressure – the public official of his choice, and the principles handed down to us by our forebears.

Q. There are rumors floating around that the 2010 elections will be sabotaged to enable Ms. Arroyo to legally stay beyond her term. There are also reports that her Congressional allies are still covertly orchestrating a Constitutional Assembly – without the Senate – to write a new Charter.

A. So, we find ourselves again in a time of trials – kind that demands of each of us an unstinting, heroic response. Beyond the greed, the pride, the insolence and the pretensions of those who rule us through force and fear and fraud, there is a living Almighty God who knows the dark mysteries of evil in the hearts of men. I know His justice, truth and righteousness will reign and endure forever. History offer cold comfort to those who think they can do as they please and let the people go hang.

Q. Last question, Senator. Do you believe that the Filipino is worth dying for?

A. I have asked myself many times: Is the Fillipino worth suffering, even dying for? Is he not a coward who would readily yield to any colonizer, be he foreign or homegrown? Is a Filipino more comfortable under an authoritarian leader because he does not want to be burdened with the freedom of choice? Is he unprepared, or worse, ill-suited, for presidential or parliamentary democracy? I have carefully weighed the virtues and the faults of the Filipino, and I have come to the conclusion that he is worth dying

Here’s Ninoy Aquino’s speech in Dallas with his plan for the economic resurgence of Mindanao

Why I Won’t Mind If Jessica Zafra Rules The World

The spark of greatness burns inside the heart of every artist. This is the story of writers – and their creations that gave them immortality. This special story, written in January 2010, is a celebration of the rich literary heritage of the Philippines

I am writing this in our semi-empty office cafeteria. It’s the end of my shift at my call center job. There’s something about folks who eat lunch when everybody else is having breakfast.


A Sting song is playing on my mind while watching Doubt in the canteen TV. I’m trying to decide what full-movie YouTube videos I shall embed next on my blog 2Rivers while I’m reading Palanca Award winner Jessica Zafra’s Manananggal Terrorizes Manila & Other Stories from Anvil. It’s called multi-tasking.
I find creepy but I’m tickled pink that there’s a book of fiction that mirrors my own. Almost all of my short stories feature their own soundtrack, like in Friend of Mine, where the lead character, Gerald, has a secret crush on his childhood friend, Kim. They were having lunch on the cafeteria with the radio playing Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin.
In the Zafra story Scylla and Charybdis, three boys on a Toyota were on their way to Baguio with Wrapped Around Your Finger all the way.

Abbo, Eric and Paco are childhood friends. Paco has a secret crush on his Eric’s sister, Francesca. Paco’s best friend is Abbo, who married Francesca.

My passion is writing and my works have seen print but I don’t eat them. I don’t eat newspapers. A Zafra character does, and it seems to run in the family. The narrator with no name in Word Eaters was told to eat a page off the daily paper to make her smart. She has a fascinating family: her grandmother Pilar, a.k.a. Larry, works for a living saying Latin novenas for the dead, while her great-aunt Apollonia cavorts with a ghost.
I find their town very intriguing. Places fascinate me. In one of my vampire stories, Flash, inspired by Lino Brocka and Crash, is set in Manila. My first published fiction, They Call Him Legion, took place in an old cathedral – with no less than the Devil himself inside making Al Pacino monologues.

But the Zafra town in Albay is even more terrifying. This is the village where all the boys enter the priesthood, and all the girls become prostitutes.
My favorite line in this book opens Romeo, et al: “No one was surprised when Rick became an actor – he’s always been a ham.”
I have yet to write a story with an actor as the lead character, but I have one with a Jollibee service crew. A Moment of Silence is the tragic love story of Wally and Jo, who lived as a folk house waitress and died as an OFW – murdered in the Middle East.
It also mirrors the love story of Rick and Amanda. He has that one-in-a-million acting gift that he’s like a chameleon who transforms himself into the character he is playing. He fell for Amanda when they played lovers in a repertory play. His world almost tore apart when, as the curtain falls, he stayed in character – as himself.
My favorite story in the Zafra book has a cemetery scene like in my story Jeremiah Agustin, which was inspired by William Goldman, who probably got the idea from Arthur Miller ad infinitum. But Kind of Brown has its own kind of magic:
As a child, Freddy was always being beaten up by his father. He grew up secretly hating him. The story opens at his father’s funeral, and ends as Freddy visit the grave alone.
“I came to say goodbye … I’ve wanted you dead for so long … Now that you’re dead I don’t know how I should feel … But I forgive you … because I can’t go on hating you for the rest of my life … Goodbye, Father … ”
Then he got into his car and went home.


Huggybear’s Latest Published Short Story

They say that truth is stranger than fiction. I agree, but I would also add that some of the most beautiful stories ever told happened in real life. My new original fiction story, Baywalk, which appeared in the August 7 and 14 issue of the Sunday Times magazine of The Manila Times, is a coming-of-age tale about a boy and his tragic rite of passage from innocence to acceptance of the mysterious forces that guide the destinies of men. As human beings, we all respond to the emotional cadences of our collective music, as this story also deals with the unbearable pain of losing a loved one, showing that courage often shows itself in the little things we do in our day-to-day existence

Here’s the first three paragraphs

February 28. A friend of mine said I look like Geoff Eigenmann. I fully agreed. I’m a call center agent. I love my work, but I don’t do it for love. My career is important, but it is not my whole world. Perhaps that explains why, the last time I got laid last week, I was with an accountant.

March 1. Hi, I’m Johnny Gibbs and I’ve worked in Jollibee and a gay bar. That’s what I told the class in our first day at the call center. Everybody goes up front and introduce, tell something interesting, about themselves. The ham actor in me wants audience impact, but really, we’re only being graded for English proficiency. “I’ve worked in Jollibee and a gay bar,” I said, and they were, like, titillated or something. “I earned a lot of tips, “ I added, then paused for effect, “as a waiter,” then the gratifying laughter erupted.
          Someone asked me, of course someone would, if I was also a macho dancer. I replied that I asked the star dancer, who looked like Lawrence David, who’s like a big brother to me, to teach me. “You’re too young,” he told me. That was a summer job, I explained to the class. I went back to school, and after the semester, I came back and asked him again to teach me. By then he was already the floor manager. “Sorry,” he said. “You’re too old.” Everybody was laughing. I’m happy the joke sold, and I’m equally happy that they actually believed it was just a joke

Artists of the Week

OPM English: Janet Basco

OPM Tagalog: Archie D

International: Mike & The Mechanics