Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday, May 24, 2013

My Favorite Robert Redford Movie

May 25-31 Edition 

Temple of Gold 
Bienvenido Santos 
Robert Redford

One of my all time favorite novels is Temple of Gold by William Goldman. I identified with the adolescent angst of the narrator, Raymond, a.k.a. Euripides, and his best friend Zack. I read it when I was 17 and living in Santa Rosa, Laguna. I remember reading Goldman's other books Brothers and Magic when I was 16 and living in Morong, Rizal. I'm now in Cebu, starting to learn screenwriting. Goldman also wrote the screenplay of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid with Robert Redford and Paul Newman. "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head," the Oscar-winning theme, is Huggybear's Favorite Song From BJ Thomas 

Bienvenido Santos, one of my favorite Filipino writers, wrote two of my favorite short stories. I was still a kid when I first read his story "A Scent of Apples" from the Philippine Prose and Poetry series. It belonged to my dad who died when I was too young too remember. "When I was in Kalamazoo..." I included the hero of another of his story, "Courage," about a stoic teacher suffering from a deadly disease, in "My Most Unforgettable Literary Characters." That was one of my earliest articles, published in 2005 in Philippine Panorama. The title is inspired by the Reader's Digest section My Most Unforgettable Character. The other stars in my article include Atticus in To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee and the little traveling boy from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I'm a great fan of Robert Redford. I have a poem, "The Vampire Who (Thought He) Looked Like Robert Redford." It appeared in Philippine Graphic in 2005, chosen for publication by the late great literary editor Adrian Cristobal. It's a nod to Robert and a tribute to Bienvenido Santos, the title inspired by one of his novels, The Man Who (Thought He) Looked Like Robert Taylor

Robert Redford is the star of two of my favorite movies of all time. The first is Havana. Directed by Sydney Pollack, it shows the best performances of Lena Olin, Alan Arkin, Tomas Milan and the late Raul Julia. I feel a deep empathy with his character Jack Weil, a traveler and a risk-taking non-conformist who has mastered the art of letting go. I streamed the full movie here on 2Rivers in 2010 but the original uploader had some copyright issues

My favorite scene in Havana is when Jack explains the scar on his arm, which he rubs for good luck. There's a diamond sewn inside. "The idea is, no matter what happens, no what matter what they do to you, you still have that one chance. You still have that diamond."

The other is Sneakers, directed by Phil Alden Robinsons who also did Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner. I'm out of my head in admiration for the screenplay and the perfect chemistry of the cast: Sidney Poitier, Mary McDonell, Dan Akroyd, David Strathairn, Ben Kingsley, James Earl Jones and the late River Phoenix. I can watch it over and over again

Jonathan Aquino's Journal

May 23, 2013 
10:14 p.m., Thursday 
Lahug City, Cebu 

My story on David Ogilvy is part of the latest (May) issue of the Cebu-based City Career Guide magazine. On the cover is model Navigail Bleinagel, and my photo and profile are also featured. This is the first time I'm going to frame an article of mine because I love the layout. My Ogilvy story also appeared last month in Philippine Panorama. It was originally published in 2009 in The Philippine Star. I just finished writing stories on Bienvenido Santos and Robert Redford though I'm supposed to be finishing my latest screenplay 

I'm facing some personal issues at the moment. As a way of marking a life event without going inelegantly too public, I tweeted on Facebook the other day: "I won't complain. But I pray for the strength to overcome it. This too shall pass. I will survive."

Earlier, I posted some lines from "Never Surrender" as a reflection of how I feel about what I'm going through. Naturally, there's a link to Huggybear's Favorite Song From Corey Hart

An hour or so ago, I finished writing my revised profile for 2Rivers which I'll post this coming Saturday. Here it is:

I'm Jonathan Aquino, a.k.a. Huggybear. I'm a freelance writer from the Philippines. My poetry, fiction and wide-ranging articles have appeared in major publications. My Saturday night blog 2Rivers is a celebration of music, movies, literature and self-expression. I learned writing from Winston Churchill and Charles Lindbergh, and editing from DeWitt Wallace, founder of Reader's Digest. My favorite novel is Shibumi by Trevanian. The books that changed my life are Carlos Castañeda's Journey To Ixtlan, Wayne Dyer's Your Erroneous Zones, Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Tony Robbins' Unlimited Power, Rhonda Byrne's The Secret, Shirley MacLaine's Out On A Limb and Dancing In The Light, Jose Silva's Silva Mind Control Method For Getting Help From Your Other Side and Jane Roberts' The Further Education of Oversoul Seven. I'm a traveler and a seeker on a quest for deeper spiritual knowledge. I love tuna and watermelon. I also love dogs and horses but I don't eat them. I believe in freedom and simplicity. My life philosophy is summed up in Ralph Waldo Emerson's Self-Reliance: "To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is genius..."

Huggybear's Favorite Song From BJ Thomas

Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head 
[Theme From "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid"]


Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Journey with Shirley MacLaine

May 18-24 Edition

This story originally appeared in Philippine Panorama, January 2013

I have a friend whose mom is in her 70s but loves reading and her favorite actress is Shirley MacLaine; I have given her a lot of books and some (original) DVD. So it's inevitable that I would come across Out On A Limb. I believe this is not a coincidence.

The best thing about Out On A Limb is Shirley MacLaine's honesty. Anybody can write an memoir, but to open your heart about opening up your mind, that takes a lot of courage -- and a great leap of faith. I'm exhilarated at the many things in this book that resonates in my life. 

I have always felt there was more to me than what I knew, that my existence is part of a plan I cannot possibly understand yet I know to be good. Somehow, deep in my heart, I feel that, when bad things happen to good people, it's not a punishment from a vengeful deity; and my most painful experiences did, after all is said and done, made me a better man. 

My favorite character is David, a fellow poet, artist and traveler; everything he ever said I instinctively know to be true. I feel he's a kindred spirit, a soul brother like Johnny Depp, in touch with the fundamental truths of why we are here. David is "a sweet, gentle person, with chiseled cheekbones and a kind of soft, sad smile," describes Shirley. They met in art gallery in the Village in New York, the home of bohemians and wandering artists, like the unforgettable characters of my favorite Hollywood movie, Rent

David is a gypsy soul, "very much at home anywhere because he was an observer of life." His roads have taken him everywhere, from India to Peru to the Himalayas. "He painted and wrote along the way," says Shirley. "It didn't cost him much because he worked his way around the world doing all sorts of odd jobs." I can relate to that, having lived in lots of different places; I often thought about why people leave: perhaps they found a compelling reason to -- or maybe they simply ran out of reasons to stay. 

I believe that everything happens for a reason, and every reason has a purpose. There are no accidents in life, he tells her as they take a walk in the beach. Shirley is enlightened enough to realize that "It's hard to know something really deep is missing inside yourself when you feel successful and busy and responsible and creative." 

One day after yoga class, David takes Shirley to Bodhi Tree, on Melrose Place near La Cienega, where they have a lot of books about spiritual and metaphysical stuff.  "As we walked in," Shirley remembers, "I smelled sandalwood incense filtering through the rooms of the cluttered bookstore." Here is where she learned about Edgar Cayce, Jane Roberts, the great mystics like Emerson, Thoreau, and a lot more. David ignited the most important quest of a woman who has traveled around the world -- the journey within. 

At this point comes one of my favorite lines of all time: "For me, real intelligence is open-mindedness," says David. "If you're looking for something, why not give it a shot?" 

Fate moves in mysterious ways. Things happen, and someday, if you're lucky, you'll be able to connect the dots, and find something that wasn't there before -- even if it's been there all along. "Looking back," recalls Shirley, "I can say that making that simple, lazy-afternoon decision to visit an unusual bookstore was one of the most important decisions of my life." 

David and Shirley would talk about the purpose of being alive. "It was fascinating to me that I had even felt comfortable asking him such a question," marvels Shirley, as David wipes peace juice from his chin and brushes the sand from his sticky fingers. "It was a question I wouldn't even ask Einstein had I known him well enough to sit on the beach slurping peaches." In my own little ways, I'm trying to correct my karmic balance by doing good things, and the sense of fulfillment from the act of something right is a reward in itself. "If we understood our own individual purpose and meaning in relation to God," continues David, then we’ll know “there was no need to be greedy or competitive or afraid and violent." 

It all comes down to us -- to you, and to me. "It's easier," says David, "if you first learn who YOU are” because “We are the products of all the lives we have led."

When Shirley seeks refuge from the world, she goes to the Ashram, a spiritually-oriented health camp in the Calabasas mountains, with a breaktaking view of the Pacific Ocean. "Fickle lady of fame," Anne Marie Bennstrom, the founder, calls her, going straight to the core: "You're not really sure you want it, are you?" Still, "Cat," as Shirley calls her, is overjoyed about the fickle lady's new path: "It's so satisfying to be drawn to the spirit, isn't it?" 

She tells about a highly evolved entity named Ambres, whose instrument is Sturé Johanssen, a simple carpenter in Stockholm. Within that week, Shirley is on the phone with her boyfriend Gerry, a British politician, trying to work out their relationship. We need to talk, she says, ready to hop to the next plane to London, and was stunned when he tells her that he's going to an economic meeting -- in Stockholm.

Shirley is in profound contemplation after meeting Ambres. "I was aware that I was beginning to feel some preordained plan, unfolding according to my own awareness and willingness to accept what I was ready for."

The insights blew my mind. Shirley's stories gave me strength that, as far as my spiritual journey goes, I'm on the right track -- and that I'm not, never was and never will be, alone in this infinite universe.


Jonathan Aquino's Journal 

I'm on a bench in Fuente Osmeña Circle as I write this, nuzzling a gray-black stray cat who had climbed into my lap then on to my shoulders. He seemed hungry for what even food cannot give: affection. I just came out of the public library, been there since lunch time. I spent the morning working out in the gym then following up on my status for a job I'm applying for. I read a lot of books on a great variety of subjects, but almost all of them touching on the same fundamental principles that resonate with my life.

The books about communicating with angels and channeling spirit guides gave me deeper insights about the nature of my Higher Self. I have decided last night, while reading Shirley MacLaine's Dancing In The Light in my rented room in Lahug City, that connecting with my Higher Self is now my over-riding priority in my quest to achieve ultimate spiritual enlightenment and karmic freedom in my present lifetime. 

I am also in the midst of studying another aspect of reality that matters a lot to me: astral projection. I read the volume about it from an encyclopedia of paranormal phenomena. It also contains chapters on reincarnation, the ideas fitting perfectly with what I believe in and also the last two books I read before the library closed: about near-death experiences and past life regression. 

I've always had an interest in the occult even when I was a kid, and as the twilight now slowly descends upon everything I physically see, I'm glad and grateful that I still retain that open-mindedness and sense of wonder. I'm still the boy that I was, a traveler and a seeker of deeper truth, and in that sense, I will remain forever young

~May 6, 2013
5:11 p.m., Monday
Cebu City

Friday, May 17, 2013

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Celebration of Filipino Movies

May 11-17 Edition 

This story originally appeared  April 14, 2013 in Philippine Panorama

It is film scholar Isagani Cruz who virtually taught me to appreciate Filipino movies on deeper levels. I came across one of his works in the 90s: an out-of-print compilation of his film reviews in the '70s. I became more sensitive about the implications of a single scene, the nuances of a particular camera shot. 

The kaleidoscope of movie imagery is still with me. Even when I first learned to read and eventually wrote fiction as a teenager, I would see movies on my mind. I'm the director and "all the world's a stage." 

One of my short novels, Jukebox, has a scene in a dimly-lit third-floor motel room in Avenida, Manila; then the LRT train rumbles across the grilled windows. That "shot" is inspired by Gumapang Ka Sa Lusak by Lino Brocka; I wrote it so visually that my "cast" includes Coco Martin, Julia Montes and Anita Linda
My story for the 2012 Palanca Awards is the scene-obsessive coming-of-age tale of a young boy set in Ragay, Camarines Sur. I wrote Fisherboy: Imaginarily Directed By Ishmael Bernal when Dolphy was still alive. He "played" one of the central characters together with Jake Vargas, Robert Arevalo and Eddie Garcia

I write visually even when I did radio scripts for DzRH when I was still in Manila last year (I'm now based in Cebu), when Salvador Royales became my mentor and I found that legendary screen villain Luz Fernandez is really nice in person. One of my scripts, about a female healer deified by the people of a small village, is a tribute to Bernal's Himala, but with a twist: the healer, Leonora, came alive again. Another script, about a hostage-taker, is inspired by Brocka's Bayan Ko: Kapit Sa Patalim. The twist: the hostage's commitment-phobic boyfriend broke through the police barriers to say that he had finally decided to marry her, proposing here and there amidst the snipers.

I love Filipino movies; all the films of Cinemalaya and Cinema One Originals are on my blog 2Rivers. So I find it sad when I heard the loss of three of the greatest filmmakers in Philippine cinema in less than a year. 

But their achievements will remain forever.

"Most Deserving." 

Marilou Diaz-Abaya was born on March 30, 1955 in Quezon City. She directed her first movie, Tanikala (Chains) in 1980. Her last film was Ikaw Ang Pag-Ibig in 2011, a tribute to Our Lady of Peñafrancia. The masterpiece was Jose Rizal in 1998, the life of the country's national hero and the one of the greatest figures in history. Her movies are marked with social issues like political tyranny and violence against women

Watch "Rizal" THE FULL MOVIE

The movies she made "has won acclaim both in the Philippines and abroad for its high level of artistic achievement," goes the citation from the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes in 2001. "It is an ideal manifestation of the artistic culture of Asia, and so is most deserving of the Arts and Culture Prize." 

Cesar Montano, the star of Rizal and their other landmark team-ups Muro Ami (Reef Hunters) in 1999 

and Bagong Buwan (New Moon) in 2001, 

was with her when she died of breast cancer on October 8, 2012 at Saint Luke's Global. She was 57. He sang to her Don McLean's Vincent, a tribute to Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh

"I cried so hard, I had a hard time finishing," he recalls in an interview. "It was painful to see her go." 

"Just, Compassionate, Humble." 

Mario O'Hara was born on April 20, 1946 in Zamboanga City with Spanish-Irish-American lineage. His first movie as a director, the 1976 war epic Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (Three Years Without God), is one of the greatest Filipino films ever made. 

Watch "Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos" THE FULL MOVIE

A story about O'Hara won't be complete without his other solid triumph: the 1984 Bulaklak Sa City Jail, based on the novel by Lualhati Bautista and starring Nora Aunor

Watch "Bulaklak Ng City Jail" THE FULL MOVIE

Coming full circle, the last movie he directed is another historical drama: the Cinemalaya 2010 indie Ang Paglilitis Ni Andres Bonifacio (The Trial of Andres Bonifacio), set in the revolution that gave birth to the country

A writer, filmmaker and actor, he had an outstanding record in three film careers, each one able to stand on its own. In his 1971 debut in Lino Brocka's Tubog Sa Ginto (Goldplated), his character Diego has the "easy arrogance," says film critic Noel Vera, and the "physical charisma of a young Brando." 

Most unforgettable is his screen-dominating leper character, Berto, in Brocka's 1974 classic Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang (You Were Weighed and Found Wanting)

Mario O'Hara wrote two of the greatest Filipino films of all time: Tinimbang and another Brocka classic, the 1976 Insiang 

Watch "Insiang" THE FULL MOVIE

With his play Stageshow set to open that October, he died June 26, 2012 of leukemia at the San Juan De Dios in Pasay. He was 66, an icon of film, TV and theater. 

He "was, above all, just, compassionate, humble and accepting of others," says theater titan Floy Quintos. "Of all the actor-directors I have worked with, he was the one with the least ego."

"The Messiah." 

Celso Advento Castillo was born in 1943. His 1977 masterpiece Burlesk Queen launched Vilma Santos as a serious actress but the groundbreaking film was so controversial it rocked the nation. People were forcing him to return his Metro Filmfest awards for Best Director and Best Picture. Students rallied for him: "Hindi na po bale, direk, kayo naman po ang Messiah eh (It's okay, you're the Messiah anyway)!" 

Watch "Burlesk Queen" THE FULL MOVIE

Castillo's creative genius galvanized the industry with the 1971 black-and-white Nympha with Rizza; the 1974 Ang Pinamagandang Hayop Sa Balat Ng Lupa (The Most Beautiful Animal In The Face of The Earth) with 1969 Miss Universe Gloria Diaz; 

and the "Softdrinks Beauties" movies Virgin People and Snake Sisters.

He defied genres: doing horror with the 1974 Patayin Sa Sindak Si Barbara (Kill Barbara With Fear) with Susan Roces;

and action with the 1976 Asedillo, one of the best films of the late great Fernando Poe Jr.  

He was also an actor, playing the formidable town mayor in Pepe Diokno's 2009 indie Engkwentro, loosely based on the Davao Death Squad. 

"The Kid" died of cardiac arrest Nov. 26, 2012, in his home in Siniloan, Laguna. He was working on his book Celso Ad. Castillo: An Autobiography and His Craft, his wife Ophelia said in a radio interview. 

"He wanted it to have a happy ending." 

Lino Brocka 

Ishmael Bernal Golden

Jonathan Aquino's Journal 

May 5, 2013 
7:29 p.m., Sunday 
Lahug City, Cebu 

Someone asked me for advice on how to be a writer. "Learning to love yourself," I said, "is the greatest love of all." We laughed. "Because," I continued, just when he thought it was facetious and irrelevant, "you have to dive deep inside yourself to be in touch with who you really are. An artist speaks only of truth; that's where his power lies, that's where his strength comes from. Only after finding your true self can you triumphantly express your true voice."

Burlesk Queen (Full Movie)

Vilma Santos

A Film By Celso Ad Castillo 


Bulaklak Sa City Jail (Full Movie)

Nora Aunor

A Film By Mario O'Hara 


Saturday, May 04, 2013

The Huggybear Inexplicably Eclectic Video Marathon

2Rivers May 4-10

Craig David, Gary Valenciano, Billy Crawford, Francis Magalona, Jay-R, Gab Valenciano, Sam Concepcion, The Manoeuvres, Streetboys, Universal Motion Dancers, Boys Will Be Boys, Philippine All Stars, Jabbawockeez, The Crew, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Jeremy Jordan, Take 5, Gene Kelly, Ricky Martin, Robi Rosa, Justin Timberlake, New Kids On The Block, Backstreet Boys, Callie Swagg, Maria Vidal, Dirty Dancing, Fame, Flashdance, Footloose, Sing, Step Up 1, 2 and 3; Jet Li, Bruce Lee, Steven Seagal, Jean Claude Van Damme, Philip Rhee, Karate Kid, No Retreat No Surrender, American Anthem, Aquaman, Duran Duran, Intoy Syokoy Ng Kalye Marino, Daniel Day-Lewis, Huggybear Short Films Episode 10 and more

Craig David "Insomnia" 

Gary V and Billy Crawford

Billy Crawford "Tracking"

Gary V "Sa Yahweh Ang Sayaw" In Gary Move! Concert

Gary V "Hataw Na" UAAP

Gary V "Betty's In Bed"
On "Big Ike's Happening"

Gab Valenciano with the Maneuvers

Gary V and Francis Magalona In Gary V: Major Impact Concert

Gary V and Jay-R "Look In Her Eyes"

Sam Concepcion

The Manoeuvres


Universal Motion Dancers

Streetboys and Universal Motion Dancers

Boys Will Be Boys "Mahalaga Ka Sa Akin"

Philippine All Stars


The Crew

Michael Jackson "Billy Jean" Motown 25th

Michael Jackson "Thriller"

Michael Jackson "Beat It"

Michael Jackson "Man In The Mirror"
From "Moonwalker"

Janet Jackson "Rhythm Nation"

Hi-Five "She's Playing Hard To Get"

Jeremy Jordan "The Right Kind Of Love"

Ricky Martin "María"

Robi Rosa in "Salsa"

Justin Timberlake "Rock Your Body"

New Kids On The Block "Cover Girl"

Backstreet Boys "Everybody"

Maria Vidal "Body Rock"

Cali Swag District "Teach Me How To Dougie"

Step Up

Step Up 2

Step Up 3



Mickey Thomas "Sing"

Patrick Swayze in "Dirty Dancing"
"Time of My Life"


Gene Kelly in "Singin' In The Rain'"

The Karate Kid

No Retreat No Surrender

Once Upon A Time In China

Lethal Weapon 4

Hard to Kill


Best Bruce Lee

Jackie Chan 

Best of the Best 

Best of the Best 2

Best of the Best 3

Martial Arts 

American Anthem

Olivia Newton-John "Let's Get Physical"


The Amazing Spiderman


I Am Number Four

Duran Duran "The Reflex"

Intoy Syokoy Ng Kalye Marino

Daniel Day-Lewis "Arsenio Hall Show"

Huggybear's Short Films Episode 10: Lahug City EcoTech Mountain Park