Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Remembering the People We Love to Hate


 Charlie Avila, who HAS NOT forgotten what the Marcoses did, reminds us, in his CHRONOLOGY OF THE MARCOS PLUNDER, that in…

September 1976, the Marcoses bought their first property in the
U.S. - a condo in the exclusive Olympic Towers on
Fifth Avenue
in New York . Five months later they would also buy the three adjoining apartments, paying a total of $4,000,000.00 for the four and using Antonio Floirendo's company, The Aventures Limited in Hong Kong, as front for these purchases.
October 13, 1977. Today, after addressing the UN General Assembly, Imelda celebrated by going shopping and spending $384,000 including $50,000 for a platinum bracelet with rubies; $50,000 for a diamond bracelet; and $58,000 for a pin set with diamonds.

The day before, Vilma Bautista, one of her private secretaries, paid $18,500 for a gold pendant with diamonds and emeralds; $9,450 for a gold ring with diamonds and emeralds; and $4,800 for a gold and diamond necklace.
October 27, 1977
The Marcoses donated $1.5 million to
Tufts University in Boston, endowing a professorial chair in East Asian and Pacific Studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. The students and professors discovered this and forced the school to reject the donation. To save face, the Marcoses were allowed to finance several seminars and lectures.
November 2, 1977. Still at her shopping spree, Imelda paid $450,000 for a gold necklace and bracelet with emeralds, rubies, and diamonds; $300,000 for a gold ring with emeralds and diamonds; and $300,000 for a gold pendant with diamonds, rubies, and thirty-nine emeralds.

July 1978. After a trip to
Russia, Imelda arrived in New York and immediately warmed up for a shopping spree. She started with paying $193,320 for antiques, including $12,000 for a Ming Period side table; $24,000 for a pair of Georgian mahogany Gainsborough armchairs; $6,240 for a Sheraton double-sided writing desk; $11,600 for a George II wood side table with marble top - all in the name of the Philippine consulate to dodge New York sales tax.

That was merely for starters.

A week later she spent $2,181,000.00 in one day! This included $1,150,000 for a platinum and emerald bracelet with diamonds from Bulgari; $330,000 for a necklace with a ruby, diamonds, and emeralds; $300,000 for a ring with heart-shaped emeralds; $78,000 for 18-carat gold ear clips with diamonds; $300,000 for a pendant with canary diamonds, rubies and emeralds on a gold chain.

After New York, she dropped by Hong Kong where a Cartier representative admitted it was this Filipina, Imelda, who had put together the world's largest collection of gems - in 1978.

May 1979 The Marcos couple celebrated their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary in a party that cost $5,000,000.00 There was a silver carriage drawn by eight white horses.
November 23, 1978 A house was purchased at
4 Capshire Drive
in Cherry Hill , New Jersey (actually near to Philadelphia where Bongbong was taking courses at that time) for use by servants and Bongbong's security detachment. The Marcoses did not neglect their annual real estate purchase. During this year and next year, 1979, they purchased two properties - one at 3850 Princeton Pike, Princeton - a 13-acre estate for use by daughter Imee as she attended Princeton

In these critical times when efforts are being made to re-write history and sanitizing the record of martial law and the Marcoses, let us cure ourselves of this "despicable amnesia" and get back our sense of righteous indignation!

The other was a house at
19 Pendleton Drive
in Cherry Hill for use of Bongbong and under the name of Tristan Beplat,
erstwhile head of the American Chamber of Commerce in the
Philippines .

1979 in two days in New York this month, Imelda spent $280,000 for a necklace wet with emeralds and diamonds; $18,500 for a yellow gold evening bag with one round cut diamond; $8,975.20 for 20-carat gold ear clips with
twenty-four baguette diamonds; $8,438.10 for 18-carat gold ear clips with fifty-two tapered baguette diamonds; and $12,056.50 for 20 carat gold ear clips with diamonds.

June 1980. For $1,577,000.00 in New York Imelda buys
Webster Hotel on
West 45th Street
. She rewards Gen. Romeo Gatan as a limited partner. Gatan arrested Ninoy at the beginning of Martial Law.

The insurgents' ranks grew by twenty percent a year. . Meritorious officers in the armed forces experienced low moral due to Marcos' penchant for promoting friends over more deserving officers.
February 16, 1986. In Fe's records of monies paid out during Marcos' last campaign, one unusually large item was authorized by "FL" (First Lady) and paid to Assemblyman Arturo Pacificador on this day. A few days later, two carloads
of men drove into
San Jose , the provincial capital of Antique.

Evelio Javier, head of Aquino's campaign, was watching the votes being counted when the men opened fire and killed Evelio after he was still able to run through town but finally got cornered in a public toilet where he was gunned down in front of shocked townspeople. Pacificador was later convicted of the murder.
February 25, 1986. Marcos fled the Philippines leaving behind a foreign debt of $27 billion and a bureaucracy gone mad. "Cash advances" for the elections from the national treasury amounted to Php 3.12 billion ($150 million). The Central
Bank printed millions of peso bills, many with the same serial number. Sixty million pesos in newly printed bills were found in a vehicle owned by Imelda's brother Bejo in the Port Area of Manila, and another Php 100 million aboard the MV Legaspi also owned by Bejo Romualdez.

How massive and humongous a loot Marcos took can be deduced from the known losses he left behind. The known losses he left at the Central Bank included $1.2 billion in missing reserves and $6 billion in the Special Accounts.

Imelda charged off most of her spending sprees to the PNB or Philippine National Bank which creatively wrote off her debts as "unresponded transfers".

Ver also used PNB funds to finance his "intelligence" operations.

The known losses at the PNB amounted to Php72.1 billion.

At the DBP, the losses Marcos left behind totaled Php85 billion;

at the Philguarantee, it was Php 6.2 billion ;

and at the NIDC or National Investment and Development Corporation (
NDC) - the losses amounted to Php 2.8 billion.

These losses were primarily due to cronyism - giving loans to cronies that had little or no collateral, whose corporations were undercapitalized, whose loan proceeds were not used for the avowed purpose, and where the practice of corporate layering was common, i.e. using two or more companies with the same incorporators and officers, whereby one company which gives the loan owns the company which obtains the loan, or similar arrangements.

The cronies enjoyed their closeness to Marcos. With him they formed a Grand Coalition. They participated in the exercise of dictatorship. But Marcos owned them. The wealth of the cronies belonged to him. Because of the free rides taken by Imelda, Marcos and the cronies, the Philippine Airlines was in debt by $13.8 billion.

The conservative Grand Total for losses Marcos left behind (and therefore the kind of loot he grabbed and hid) amounted to $17.1 billion. The Central Bank, the PNB, and other financial institutions badly need an audit. The special review (not regular audit because there seems not to have been any - there are no records anyway) did not uncover Imelda's spending - her name never appeared - and Ver's intelligence fund. The review gave no hint of theft or missing money, only "downward adjustments" and "proposed adjustments" to "deficiencies" and "shortages of money".
February 26, 1986. A few hours after the Marcos party landed in Honolulu, their luggage arrived - 300 crates on board a C-141 cargo jet. It took twenty-five customs officers five hours to tag the bags and identify the contents. The process was videotaped because of all the money and jewelry found inside.

There were 278 crates of jewelry and art worth an estimated US$5 million. Twenty-two crates contained more than Php27.7 million in newly minted currency, mostly hundred-peso denominations worth approximately US $1,270,000. 00 (It was illegal at that time for anyone to depart the Philippines carrying more than Php500 in cash.)

There were other certificates of deposit from Philippine banks worth about US$1 million, five handguns, 154 videotapes, seventeen cassette tapes, and 2,068 pages of documents - all of which were impounded by Customs.

The Marcos party was allowed to keep only US$300,000.00 in gold and $150,000.00 in bearer bonds that they brought in with their personal luggage because they declared them and broke no
US customs laws.

There were 24 one-kilo gold bars fitted into 2 0$17,000 hand-tooled Gucci briefcase with a solid gold buckle and a plaque on it that read, "To Ferdinand Marcos, from Imelda, on the Occasion of our 24th Wedding Anniversary."

February 1986. When Marcos departed the
Philippines, the losses in the three Central Bank accounts surpassed Php 122 billion (more than $6 billion). The big bulk of losses was attributed to the RIR account mainly due to two items: forward cover and swap contracts. 

Forward cover referred to foreign exchange provided by the CB at a fixed exchange rate to importers of essential commodities. Swap contracts referred to CB's receiving foreign exchange from banks in exchange for pesos at the prevailing rate with a promise to deliver the foreign exchange back to them at an agreed future date. There was no mention of losses due to CB transactions in gold or foreign exchange.
February 28, 1986. On this day, Jim Burke, security expert from the US Embassy, was tapping on the wooden paneling in Imelda's abandoned Malacanang bedroom when he heard a hollow sound. It was the walk-in vault. Inside were thirty-five suitcases secured with locks and tape. 

They contained a treasure trove of documents about Swiss bank accounts, New York real estate, foundations in Vaduz , and some notepaper on which Marcos had practiced his William Saunders signature. They also contained jewelry valued at some US$10.5 million.
March 16, 1986. Did Marcos steal any gold from the CB? The CB always refused to comment. Why?

Today, the LA Times reported that 6.325 metric tons of gold was unaccounted for in the Central Bank. Between 1978, the year Marcos ordered all gold producers to sell only to the CB, and end 1984, the Bureau of Mines reported that
124,234 pounds of gold were refined. But the CB reported receiving only 110,319 pounds during this same period.
That left a difference of
13,915 pounds (6.325 metric tons).

March 1986. Jokingly referring to themselves as the Office of National Revenge, a vigilante team led by Charlie Avila and Linggoy Alcuaz received a tip in the morning that Marcos' daughter Imee had kept a private office in the suburb of Mandaluyong at 82 Edsa. They obtained a search warrant, then rushed to
Camp Crame to pick up some soldiers. 

After devising a plan, they boarded four cars and drove to the premises, arriving around . The soldiers scaled a fence and sealed off the area. Avila , Alcuaz, and their men moved in and found documents in cardboard boxes, desks, and filing cabinets. Gunfire could be heard outside but it didn't deter the search.

The documents revealed the names of offshore companies and overseas investments of Marcos and his cronies - a late link in the paper trail that had been started abroad by the teams of
Avila, Steve Psinakis, Sonny Alvarez, Raul Daza, Boni Gillego, and Raul Manglapus.
March 09, 1986. A Greek-American, Demetrios Roumeliotes, was stopped at the Manila International Airport before he could leave with eight large envelopes stuffed with jewelry that he admitted belonged to Imelda - valued at US$4.7 million.
March 15, 1986. Ernie Maceda, Minister of Natural Resources, revealed today that some 7 to 14 tons of Philippine gold are sold to the Binondo Central Bank annually and then smuggled to Sabah , Malaysia - this gold being part of some 20 tons produced by 200,000 panners all over the country. Maceda's query was whether part of the gold they produced was siphoned to the "invisible gold hoard of Ms. Imelda R. Marcos."

"We deliver to the Central Bank," the miners said. "If it happened (the siphoning), it happened in the Central Bank."

Is it true that Marcos propagated the Yamashita myth to hide the fact that he looted the Central Bank, that its gold bars were melted down and recast in odd-size bars to make them look old (how does gold look old, anyway?). Marcos claimed that he "received the surrender of Gen. Yamashita" after a battle with his guerrilla outfit. 

History has recorded that Yamashita surrendered to Lt. Co. Aubrey Smith Kenworthy and that there was no battle. Yamashita's peaceful surrender had been arranged at least two weeks before the event.

In one entry in Marcos' diary he noted, "I often wonder what I will be remembered for in history. Scholar? Military hero…?" In a supreme irony, he did achieve what he so vainly sought - lasting fame - but not in the way he envisioned:

The largest human rights case in history - 10,000 victims.

Guinness Book of Records - the world's greatest thief.

The largest monetary award in history - $22 billion..
September 30, 1986. Questioned by Philippine and US lawyers about his hidden wealth, Marcos took the Fifth Amendment 197 times. Imelda followed suit - 200 times.

December 1989. An American jury found the Marcos estate liable for $15 million in the killing of anti-Marcos activists Gene Viernes and Silme Domingo. Manglapus, Psinakis, Gillego and other erstwhile exile oppositionists testified at the trial.
November 04, 1991. Today, a Sunday, the circus came to town. The Swiss Federal Tribunal had ruled the year before that the Philippine government must comply with the European Convention of Human Rights, especially due process. There had to be a lawsuit filed within one year. Thus, the solicitor general's office filed all sorts of cases against Imelda and the government had to allow her to return to answer the charges.

"I come home penniless," she tearfully said on arrival. She then repaired to her suite at the Philippine Plaza Hotel which cost $2,000 a day and rented sixty rooms for her entourage - American lawyers, American security guards and American PR firms.

December 1991. The Central Bank had accumulated losses of Php324 billion in the Special Accounts.
November 30, 1992. The Central Bank losses were Php561 billion and climbing. Cuisia asked that the CB be restructured. Sen. Romulo asked to see the 1983 audit of the international reserves. He couldn't get a copy. It was "restricted" .
January 05, 1993. Imelda didn't show up for the scheduled signing of a new PCGG agreement. She kept vacillating on the terms and conditions - demanding she be allowed to travel abroad for thirty-three days to confer with bank officials in Switzerland, Austria, Hong Kong and Morocco to work out the transfer of the frozen funds.

Actually she was hoping a guy she had authorized, J.T.Calderon, would be able to move the funds just as the order was lifted, before the government had a chance to transfer them to
Manila . When the government discovered the authority, all negotiations with Imelda were halted and her requests for travel suspended.
August 10, 1993. Georges Philippe, a Swiss lawyer of Imelda, wrote today a confidential letter to the Marcoses' old Swiss lawyer, Bruno de Preux, who handled almost all of the Marcos family's hidden accounts in Switzerland . Philippe requested de Preux for the status of:

A $750 million account with United Mizrahi Bank in
Zurich ;

Various currency and gold deposits at the Union Bank of Switzerland , at Kloten airport and at Credit Suisse; 

A $356 million account (now in escrow and worth almost $600 million) which was being claimed by the PCGG.

In 1994, the human rights jury awarded the victims $1.2 billion in exemplary damages, then $766.4 million in compensatory damages a year after that, for a total of $1.964 billion. Two days after, another $7.3 million was awarded to twenty-one Filipinos in a separate lawsuit.

In 1995, the US Supreme Court upheld the $1.2 billion judgment.
March 29, 1995. The Swiss Parliament passed a law (an amendment to a previous act) that removed the need for a final judgment of criminal conviction of the accused (such as the Marcoses) in the case of criminally acquired assets which
could now therefore be returned to claimants (such as the Philippine government) by Swiss court order.

1996. In part because of the torture of Roger Roxas, $22 billion was awarded to his Golden Budha Corporation.
December 10, 1997. The Swiss Supreme Court promulgated a landmark decision that took into account the March 1995 Swiss Parliament act and the fact that new criminal cases had been filed against Imelda Marcos.

The court held that there was no need for any criminal proceeding; that a civil or administrative proceeding would suffice, and the Marcos Swiss deposits which had been "criminally acquired" can be returned to the
Philippines in deference to the final judgment of the Philippine court as to the ownership of these deposits.

The Swiss court also announced that the interest and reputation of
Switzerland was at stake if it would become a haven for money launderers laundering money obtained by crime. Therefore, in the case of the Marcos deposits, because "the illegal source of the assets in this case cannot be doubted" the Swiss court ordered that the money be returned to the Philippines to be held in escrow account in the PNB to await the judgment of the Sandiganbayan in the forfeiture case.

By the way, in
January 17, 1975, a secret decree not made public until after the Edsa insurrection was signed by Marcos stating that in the event he became incapacitated or died, power would be turned over to Imelda.

June 7, 1975, in his own handwriting, Marcos amended the January 17th decree and clarified imelda's role as chairperson of committee with presidential powers.

In February 1979, Imelda was named chairman of the cabinet committee, composed of all ministries, to launch the BLISS (Bagong Lipunan Sites and Services) program, an ambitious attempt to centralize control of all economic and social development. She assumed responsibility for the "11 needs of Man" codified in her ministry's multi-year Human Settlements Plan,1978-2000.

By 1986, the number of Filipinos living below the poverty line doubled from 18 million in 1965 to 35 million. And the ecological balance of the country had degraded from 75 % to 27% forest cover remaining - with 39 million acres of forest falling victim to rampant logging. This was BLISS.

She was also the head of the Metro Manila Commission, which by year-end 1985 had managed to accumulate debts of Php 1.99 billion (which included $100 million in foreign loans) in its ten years of existence. Imelda had accomplished nothing and left the people embittered and even more disillusioned.

In September 1992 Marcos was found guilty of violating the human rights of 10,000 victims. The ruling occurred just after a judge found Imee Marcos-Manotoc guilty of the torture and murder of Archimedes Trajano, a 21 year old engineering student at Mapua who had the temerity to ask Imee after a speech she gave whether the Kabataang Barangay (a national youth group) "must be headed by the president's daughter?"

Bongbong is now a Senator, Imelda is back in Congress.  The MARCOSES are back in full force thanks to our "despicable amnesia" as aptly described by the eminent writer, F. Sionil Jose.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bye Bye Sea Breaks All Language Barriers (or The Tale of How a Cynical Critic Became a Hardcore Stalking Groupie)

Bye Bye Sea is an indie rock band in South Korea that became popular for making the intro music of the famous television series Playful Kiss. They are sometimes part of the cast in some scenes.

The band was being featured by the Festival organizers.

I was quite sceptical. How in the world would people enjoy a concert by a Korean band? Unless you know Korean, you won’t be able to have a great time at the concert.

But I was curious and I wanted to see. A friend of mine said he wanted to see them. I told him that the songs are in Korean. He said that the melody is enough to get you addicted.

Again, I had my doubts. I always say that it’s stupid and ridiculous how some Filipinos rave about Korean songs when they can’t even understand a word in the lyrics.

Those fans of Korean boy-bands with semi-gay-guy-trapped-in-super-skinny-lesbian-bodies-or-I-think-it’s-the-other-way-around members! They made me barf.

I read some of the reviews about the band and watched some of their videos and I thought they were quite good. So I told my friends about them and I asked them if they would be interested to join me in this excruciating pleasure of going to the Bye Bye Sea Concert. The teenage ones asked me, “Are they cute?”. I refrained myself with all my might from blasting poetic diatribes and going ballistic over idiotic questions.

This is a proof that my generation (circa 1980-1989) is the last generation with common sense. If there are any other intelligent life forms after our generation, they are pure exceptions. “Are they cute?”, what the hell is that supposed to mean?! You judge them not by their talent but by their appearance?! It was useless shouting or cursing at people like that because empty halls and shallow walls have more substance than these people. I’d rather talk to the walls.

So, my friend and I went to the concert… without superficial teenagers (I’m sorry girls, but I just had to say this. Just avoid making comments like that and think first before opening your mouths…if that’s not much of a trouble for you… thinking, that is.)

Just like in any other concerts, there’s an opening act. The band was good but the singer seemed to be chanting something incomprehensive. They wasted 15 minutes of our precious time. I was already at the point of shouting “Refund!” when five guys in the most quirky clothing and hairdos went up the stage. It was them, the mythical four plus the brother of the bassist.

Yes, this is the opening act. Look good. Play bad.

Obviously, I can’t remember the titles of the song. I don’t even know how to write the titles because they’re written in Korean! Hahaha!

At first, I thought they were good. The melody was good despite the fact that I can’t understand anything. But at the third song until the end, they were rocking the whole place! I felt the hall shaking and the stage at verge of breaking down.

Their performance was pure energy and pure talent. I loved every moment of it. Forget what I said about people singing incomprehensible Korean songs! This is great stuff! I’m particularly impressed by the vocalist Namu and their drummer Junhyuk and the bassist’s brother who was playing the lead guitar (I forgot his name and he is not an official member of the band). But as a whole, they played in perfect unison and were very impressive.

I was surprised and even ashamed to see myself among the crowd shouting and dancing at every beat! I was like, “What’s happening to me? This is so NOT ME! The unbecoming of me! Argh! I’m ruined! Hell yeah! Rock on!”

After the performance we decided to stay for a bit to take pictures of the guys. I thought that’ll be easy because they’re not that famous here. I was already a fan by that time.

I bought their CD and I wanted to get their autograph. Hell yeah, getting an autograph like a real groupie! Hehehe…..

It turned out that getting their autograph was a very hard, near impossible mission. They already had a groupie overnight. I had to push my way through among salivating girls, desperate gays, and some guys who wanted to take a picture with the band.

I even heard this conversation:

Girl 1: Excuse me but that’s my CD.

Girl 2: No, it’s mine. I passed this to the singer myself.

Girl 1: I assure you that it’s mine. I left a mark right over there on the cover of the CD.

Girl 2: I don’t see any other name here except mine. (raising her left eyebrow)

Uh-oh, cat fight!

In the end I had my CD autographed without having to deal with other wild fans.

After witnessing their performance, I was quite disappointed when I listened to the songs of their album City Complex. Maybe it’s just the blissful performance that I’m looking for.

I’m just happy to know that there’s really something substantial and good outside the confines of fluffy pink and blue Korean pop girl-bands and boy-bands.

South Korea can really offer the best to the world- Hyundai, Samsung, Korean Cinema, kimchi,  and of course, Bye Bye Sea.

The Winners of the 9th Florence Korea Film Fest

The Festival features not only thriller movies but also other films of different genres (which I wasn’t able to watch because of my working schedules and my near-bankrupt wallet).


Third Place- BRAND NEW LIFE by Ounie Lecomte

Much appreciated by the jury for the close-ups and simplicity of the shoot and the story. Less is more.

Second Place- Castaway on the Moon by Lee Hae-Jun

For the originality and the excellent comedy

First Place- She Came From by Kim Seong-ho

For its particular narration and impeccable use of photography and image


Third Place- Petty Romance

Second Place- 71 Into the Fire

First Place- Castaway on the Moon


Castaway on the Moon

I took a break from watching a series of thriller movies during the festival and went to see the comedy Castaway on the Moon, directed by Lee Hae-jun, starring Jung Jae-Young and Jung Ryeo-won.

The story is about a loser (debt-ridden-heart-broken-near-sacked loser to be even more specific) who tried to kill himself by jumping off a bridge. Luckily (or unluckily) he was stranded in an island in the middle of Seoul. With no one to rescue him or any way to get back to the city, he accepted his fate and tried to create a home and a living in the small island.

Not faraway, a reclusive girl, who locked herself in her own room for almost three years, saw him while she was taking pictures of the moon. From then on, she started observing him as if he were an alien.

Since he was castaway from the world, Kim Seung-Keun evolved from an urban guy to a self-sufficient human being- he learned to hunt, catch fish, and even create a small garden of vegetables.

On the other hand, cloistered Kim Jung-Yeon mustered all her courage to overcome her agoraphobia and try to establish contact with the ‘alien’.

The movie wants to prove that no man can be an island and at the same time, in whatever circumstance you find yourself, it is really up to your attitude and mind to put things together and enrich your life.

We can’t live in a cocoon of delusions and lies. We can runaway from problems and the real world but we would just find ourselves in an island or locked up in our room.

In some ways I could identify myself with Kim Seung-keun (for being such a loser) and with Kim Jung-yeon (for being a recluse). These characters just tell you that do not despair. You may be an idiot but you can’t be a total loser all your life. Get out, breathe the fresh air and fight to live your life!

It’s a very original movie, ironic, truly entertaining, funny. A must-see!

10 Things To Do and Not To Do Before, During, and After Watching ‘I Saw the Devil’

This is not the sequel to any exorcist movie. It’s another thriller featured in the 9th Florence Korea Film Fest and the closing movie of the festival.

Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik) is a dangerous psychopath who kills for pleasure. He has committed infernal serial murders in diabolic ways that one cannot even imagine and his victims range from young women to even children. The police have chased him for a long time, but were unable to catch him. One day, Joo-yeon, daughter of a retired police chief becomes his prey and is found dead in a horrific state. Her fiance Soo-Hyun (Lee Byung-hun), a top secret agent, decides to track down the murderer himself. He promises himself that he will do everything in his power to take bloody vengeance against the killer, even if it means that he must become a monster himself to get this monstrous and inhumane killer.

I love the movie because I love serial killers  Korean movies. That and the gore and blood and the details in its awesome glory! Bwahaahahaha! Uhm, where was I? Oh, yes, 10 random things to do and not do before, during, and after watching Kim Ji-woon’s “I Saw the Devil”.

1.      Make sure that your blood pressure and anything related to your heart is ok. I barely survived the suspense and gore of the story.
2.      Girls, bring tissue in case you salivate at the sight of Lee Byung-hun. But if you’re just there to look at him like any other mentally-challenged good-for-nothing groupie, and if you’re not there to appreciate the film as a whole, then don’t come to the theatre. Just stay in your room and stare at his poster before I grab you and cut you into small cubes.
3.      Boys, don’t go overboard with your bromance for Lee Byung-hun. Gaydars may go wild and categorize you as closeted cases. Try to enjoy the action and combat scenes.
4.      Make sure that you’ve already had dinner. The gruesome details and scenes will definitely make you loose your appetite. At the same time, if you’re trying to lose weight, such scenes will make you go to the toilet and barf.
5.      Make sure that your bladder is empty while watching the movie. It’s so good that when I felt that I needed to pee I wished that I had never got a bladder!
6.      Do not bring talkative or shrieking girls with you. She will annoy everybody if she keeps asking the name of the killer. Everybody wants to concentrate. She will die as soon as the movie ends.
7.      The seats in the first five front rows are perfect for good viewing pleasure.
8.      Encourage drama-lovers to come to see the movie. It’s not all about the killings and blood. The particular thing about this film is the intense emotions it transmits to the viewers.
9.      When the film ends, remind yourself that it is just a film. Everything’s ok. Nobody’s out there waiting to drag you inside a school van. It’s just a film. I know that it can be freaky real. I know that it is so great that it can be true. But it’s just a movie. Calm down.
10.  After getting out of the theatre, DO NOT FREAK OUT. It is better to bring your friends with you and bring your own vehicle. Ignore what I said in number 9. There could be some psychopath out there.

Advisory: Please visit a psychiatrist after seeing the film. The movie is so great (like I always say) it can ruin your mind (I’ve been saying this for the nth time because it is true!).

Mother: The Real Mater Dolorosa

The movie starts with actress Kim Hye-Ja, one of South Korea’s finest veteran actresses, dancing as if in a trance. Funny, sad, and tragic scene. It knocks on your head. You ask why? What happened?

Soon you find her in a shop as an old good-natured widow selling medicinal herbs and practising acupuncture illegally in their small town.

She has a son. Do-joon. Quiet, stupid, and mentally disabled. She lives for her beloved son. She has nothing but a small house, an honest low-paying job and small trade, but most of all, she has her son.

One day, a school girl was found dead on a rooftop of an abandoned house. Do-joon was arrested and accused for the murder.

To see the only love of her life being taken away was enough to drive her mad and hysterical.

Helpless and pitiful in front of the law and justice, she tried to hire an expensive lawyer and persuade friends in the police force that her son is innocent and incapable of doing such crime. Nobody was there to help her.

She was poor. She had nothing but she had to do something.

Her tenacity and love for her son pushed her to do her own investigation.

The clues she gathered led her to an old man who was working in an old junkyard. She visited him, pretending to be a social worker offering free acupuncture therapy.

The old man welcomed her and narrated how he saw Do-joon the night when the girl was murdered and gestured something that was usually done by Do-joon when he’s frustrated. At the drop of that hint, the mother was horrified.

Did he really do it? Did my son kill the girl? What am I supposed to do?

She grabs a wrench, killed the old man, the only possible witness to the crime, and burned down the junkyard.

Later on, the police went to her and reported that they have caught the alleged killer. Do-joon was released from prison.

The film ends with the mother dancing again. This time she was on a bus for a vacation. She administers acupuncture to herself by puncturing a needle on a certain part of her leg.

She stood up and danced again. Void. Oblivious. Mad.

This is the film which received Un Certain Regard at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, another masterpiece by Korean cinema master Bong Joon-ho.

It’s poignant and tragic, spine-tingling, humorous and sad, all at the same time. A movie that everybody must see- especially hysterical mothers.

Wide Awake

Why should you take care of your body? Because you don’t want to experience anaesthesia awareness. After watching the movie Wide Awake by director Lee Gyu-Man, I swore by the dead bodies of my enemies that I will always take care of my health from now on!

The story is about a boy who was traumatized after experiencing anaesthesia awareness during a heart surgery. After the operation, he told his parents that he was aware of everything during the surgery- the conversation of the doctors and the nurses and the excruciating pain while they were opening up his body.

Twenty five years later, the doctors and nurses who operated on him begin to die under mysterious circumstances. Dr. Ryu Jae-woo, a surgeon married to Hee-jin, believes that the boy he remembers from his childhood is responsible for the deaths. The leading suspects are Lee Myeong-suk, who has been stalking Dr. Ryu, and the seemingly unhinged Uk-hwan. Hypnosis specialist Oh Chi-hoon also seems to know something about these deaths

For those of you who don’t know, anaesthesia awareness is a status that occurs when a patient is not given enough anaesthesia to knock down all his senses. Thus he becomes aware of everything during operation. It has different levels of “awareness” but the most traumatic is when the patient experiences full awareness and he actually feel the pain when he is being opened up and his insides are being pulled away.

The movie was based on a true story that happened in South Korea. There are other cases such as this in the US where patients who had this experience were traumatized and needed psychiatric assistance. In some cases, traumatized patients experience nightmares and hallucinations and depression, which eventually lead to suicide.

The story was pretty interesting and the plot is extraordinary because this is simply not one of those typical psycho-thrillers.

You’ll appreciate it very much and it will, as always with Korean thrillers, leave you troubled. Because it can also happen to you. This thriller is so real and time relevant it’ll scare you to the point of not going to any surgeon or doctor, ever.