For now

The Journey by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.

The days are getting unbelievably longer. I wait and I wait for someone to answer the phone, hoping for a response that will assure me my project is getting on the right track. So far, it hasn’t. Secretaries have been unbearable, directors not paying attention to our letters, and big time photo companies lack the budget. I don’t want to give up because I’m a fighter, but at one point, I do realize that I need more people fighting with me.

Everyone’s got their careers on track–law school, med school, licensure exams, and internships. My ID number didn’t allow me to have an OJT and in the middle of college, I know my course wasn’t for me. But where else does it lead me? I’ve got two jobs, one that is yet to start and the other not yet paying. I applied for a freelance writing one, and I am desperately hoping to get it, because the online exams made me realize how much I MISS forming a decent article, stringing the words together. I have dreams, dreams that are on hold because either I lack the connections or because the recession holds me back. What direction will I take? Where do I really want to go? Will the world really fight with me? Am I strong enough to hold out on my own?

This entry isn’t meant to make any sense, I’m sorry. I just need to get a lot of questions out of my head–questions that I’m trying to answer. I know some of these questions are best answered if I get out there and LIVE, but I don’t have the money to do so. Back then I would have said, why does money kill, anger, and frustrate people? Well, look at me now. I don’t have the old family money to get me through another school or to travel and discover myself.

Is it my fickle nature holding back, or the complete refusal to acknowledge what needs to be done? I have responsibilities waiting for me to act on them, and I need to understand these take time. I guess what really makes me think I’m at a stand still is the fact the now hasn’t been much. But I should not waste my time worrying,and simply hope. For self-fulfilling prophecies do happen.

God, complete word vomit. I will delete this entry in a few days.

Not very palatable

Most people consider the standard for a good film one that would be instantly recommended to many to watch. Such a criteria, however, can only be applied to commercially well-made films, which have ensure they get a larger return of investment. Hence, why independent films will never find commercial success. At a younger age, I would have wished for the indie industry to rise and reach a bigger audience. But when you grow older, experience more sadness, betrayal, and frustrations, you turn to entertainment for some sense of escapism or something that will give hope of a happy ending. Having been a Wong Kar Wai fan since high school, I can compare what his not-so-happy-together (yes, pun intended) films meant to me as a teenager who only had movies to make her sad–to me, now or 2 years ago, when life material is what made me feel awful for certain long periods of time. You grow older, get frustrated w/life, and then understand why independent films only reach a certain audience. At one point, you stop looking for reality–because that’s all you have to face everyday.

Brillante Mendoza’s Serbis (Service) is DEFINITELY what most people don’t face or seek on a daily basis. The movie runs through a day in the life of the Pineda family, who lives in and through their run-down movie house in Angeles. Their movie house shows sexy double-feature films, and is also a meeting place for gay prostitutes to give their services. The story revolves around all members living there: matriarch Nanay Flor, who is battling a bigamy case against her husband, her daugher Nayda who is a nursing graduate managing the theatre, and her son-in-law Lando who takes care of the restaurant on its ground floor. Also living with them is Nayda and Lando’s son, Nanay Flor’s adopted daughter Jewel, and nephews Alan and Ronald, who work as the billboard painter and projectionist respectively. Surrounding their daily conflicts include the theatre not making enough money, Alan’s unwanted pregnancy with his girlfriend, Nayda’s unusual attraction to Ronald, and Nayda’s son desensitized to the gay prostitutes services given in the theatre.

The almost abandoned theatre is the first character one notices. As the camera follows Nayda calling the rest of the family in their separate, far apart rooms, the unhygienic clutter, unkept wall paint, ‘bawal mag(insert verb here)’ signs , and street noise makes the viewer feel, hear, and smell the “Family” theatre (yes, that’s its name). Despite the unfamiliarity of such an environment, the people who live there have made it home, bearing with the inconveniences and simply fixing what they can to go on living. Unfortunately, their other troubles which transcend physical repair are either ignored or given up on. The movie simply shows, and never tells, leaving the theatre and the shady happenings to tell each family member’s story.

With every pun intended, Serbis is a brilliant piece of art in all aspects. Despite the gross details of the theatre and the people in it, he manages to film them into pieces of art. But in the movie’s case, it is not aesthetic art but rather art that aims to highlight the attitudes which cripple our Filipino society.

If you’re looking for something different to watch, then go and find yourself a copy of Serbis. But most scenes are not for the light hearted or extremely conservative. Although you don’t walk out feeling awesome about life, it definitely makes you wonder if there’s any hope left for the Filipino. The answer, is still up to you.

death and morality

I’ve had 14 years worth of a Catholic education. I’ve lived 21 years of assurance, doubt, going to mass, missing mass, saying prayers too often, saying them too late, and not saying them at all. By normal standards I am not the best Catholic you could come across. But the past years have taught me one important thing about faith and morality—that being a good person is doing the simplest thing.

You see in our country, people are always complaining about the simplest matters. The simplest matters are never done right. You call a company on the phone and the receptionist is not informative at all. You go to a government hospital and they leave you alone to be sick until the doctor shows up. You ask a simple question very politely to a sales lady/information person/guard—and too often, you’ll get a snappy reply.

On a bigger scale, headlines emphasize how certain officials insist on bypassing standard procedures and denying accusation of corruption. Any excuse can be used to avoid investigation or punishment—health problems, house arrest instead of actual jail time, and executive orders. It may be easier said than done, but accounting for your wrong doings instead of avoiding them places more things in perspective and order.

Being too idealistic about transparency and accountancy is not realistic though. These people have already acquired the money and the power. They can get away with sending themselves off to a distant land or even killing their accusers just to move on with their decadent lifestyles. Being selfish and wrongly ambitious may taint your reputation to the thinking Filipino—but those thinking Filipinos are middle class working men, activists, and idealistic youth. What can they do to harm the powerful?

The recent approval of HR 1109 only emphasizes the obvious disregard and selfishness of such powerful officials. I watched the news today, hoping to get an update on it. The media did the right thing though, focusing on more pressing issues, such as the perpetual pathetic state of public education. By highlighting our ever present problems, it shows how unnecessary HR 1109 is. It is not the time to amend our constitution. I understand and see that there are laws which must be changed to fit the generation’s needs (take a look at the laws for women, hello!). But there is an upcoming election, thousands to employ, millions to feed, and millions to educate. The ambush of a constituent assembly does not reassure the rest of the nation of a secure future.

It is rushing into a life changing, long term act without considering the consequences. Considering the consequences of approving HR 1109 was taught in any Christian Living/Ethics/Religion grade school—think about others. Love your neighbour. In high school, we read Rizal and saw how even 2 centuries ago, we still have the same problems. The problems are deep but the solution is simple: Do the right thing. We know what the right thing to do is. Yet money and power makes people believe they can be above the mere mortals of doing what is just. But don’t we all face death, regardless of how much money or power we have yielded? Don’t we die too, despite killing others’ lives or futures for the sake of money or power?