Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Move Over Marimar, Here Comes Fatima: Why Falcones’s Monolith of a Book is better Than Your Average Soap Opera

I will never ever forget the day I finished reading Ildefonso Falcones’s novel “The Hand of Fatima”. I was literally in tears. I know it’s kind of sissy and stupid, but I just can’t help it! It was really moving. Reading it made me realize that such experience is like watching a Spanish soap-opera, only better. 

So what makes the reading experience better than watching the usual Spanish or Korean telenovela?

1.      The leading lady is not a crummy stupid gal who dances on the beach with a talking dog, but a woman with a strong fighting spirit. She’s not just a girl. She’s a complete woman.
2.      Historical references of the Muslim revolt against the Spanish crown in the 16th century are interesting. Not the usual dry and dense historical boredom I experienced when I read Umberto Eco’s “Il Cimitero di Praga”. I wanted to die when I came to page 110. Anyway, it is guaranteed that you’ll be smarter by the end of the story, unlike telenovelas which leaves you, not only breathless but also brainless.
3.      The characters are “real” people with ideals, noble dreams, and ambitions. In a world dominated by “reality” shows, conditioned by the suggestive powers of the lens, people have the tendency to exaggerate their own idiocy, totally exterminating the remaining intelligence of humanity. Hernando and Fatima, despite the dramatic tones of their personalities, remind readers of what we used to be before the commercialized pop-modern trend Big Brother came into existence.
4.      It possesses the melodramatic elements of a soap opera, and even better. You can feel the intense emotions, the drama of each character, the power of the author which allows you to delve into the very souls of each protagonist in the story. You feel the heaviness of despair when Hernando and Fatima have to deal as they fight for their love and for their faith.  
5.      It deals with real religious issues. It’s not the usual rags to riches story of individuals but the story of two religions, of people who experience the same thing in real life- the search for peace between two religions, the brotherhood of two different peoples.
6.      The love-making! My goodness, it really embarrasses me whenever I speak of it this way but the love-making scenes are simply evocative and passionate (but of course not in a pornographic way). You don’t get that in telenovela. Hah! And no, THIS IS NOT AN EROTICA.
7.      It’s a perfect book to read if you’re travelling in Spain, especially in Grenada. The story will seem very alive to you.
8.      Though it has the elements of a soap opera, the novel is not always predictable, especially in the ending.
9.      What’s appealing about the novel is the moral lesson that one can learn from it. It would appeal so much to people like us who are still trying to keep our faith alive in a country that aims to put us down, to stand tall and stand strong in the face of the repressive eye of a hypocritical society.
10.  Those 900 pages seem heavy but I can assure you that you’ll breeze through it. The story is so beautiful you don’t want to stop. 

19 Reasons Why the Philippine Chief Justice Should Stay Out of This Arroyo Case

just saw an article published in Philippine Daily Inquirer’s website inquirer.net citing Sen. Franklin Drilon (LP) appealing for Chief Justice Renato Corono to inhibit himself from deliberations on the cases involving that Megalomaniac Hobbit.

According to the senator’s statement, in 19 cases in which the former president was involved, Corona voted in favour of Arroyo

The following are the ones published by Inquirer, and probably the most controversial ones:

1. Concurred in the Dec. 7, 2010, ruling declaring President Aquino’s order creating the Truth Commission unconstitutional.

2. Concurred in the Oct. 10, 2010, decision stopping the Aquino administration from revoking the appointment of Arroyo’s alleged midnight appointees

3. Concurred in the April 7, 2010, ruling denying the petition of then Senator Aquino and upholding Republic Act No. 9716 creating the first and second districts of Camarines Sur

4. Concurred in the decision reversing its previous decision ordering the Sandiganbayan to proceed with the trial of former Leyte Gov. Benjamin “Kokoy” Romualdez, whose son is a known Arroyo ally

5. Concurred in the Feb. 11, 2009, decision upholding the validity of the PH-US Visiting Forces Agreement and ordering the transfer of US serviceman and rape convict Daniel Smith to a Philippine detention facility

6. Dissented in the Oct. 14, 2008, decision declaring the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain entered into by Arroyo’s peace negotiators with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as “contrary to law and the Constitution".

7. Concurred in the July 16, 2008, decision declaring that communications in the PH-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement signed by Arroyo and then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Sept. 9, 2006, were covered by executive privilege and not subject to public disclosure

8. Concurred with the March 25, 2009, decision stating that then Social Security System Chair Romulo Neri was not liable for contempt for not appearing in the Senate hearings on the NBN-ZTE deal because his testimony was covered by executive privilege

9. Dissented in the Feb. 15, 2008, decision declaring that the tapped conversations between Arroyo and Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano was not prohibited from broadcast

10. Dissented in the May 3, 2006, decision declaring Arroyo’s Presidential Proclamation No. 1017, which put the country under a state of national emergency in March 2006, as “partly constitutional, partly unconstitutional."

Are these not enough? Ikaw? Ano sa tinging mo?


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Love, Life, Lost in Perdition in Norwegian Wood

Norwegian Wood is a literary hit written by one of the greatest Japanese writers of our time, Haruki Murakami. His characters are enigmatic and beautiful. The story dives deep into your soul. You feel it inside you, that beautiful cosmological emptiness. You suddenly feel the thirst for eternity, eternal existence and its beauty, and the story makes you feel that it's beyond this life.

And most of all, the bonding of friends that is, that was, that will be lost somewhere in the cold eye of memory, but will be remembered lovingly, tenderly as you listen to Beatles play Norwegian Wood.

And now, the literary sensation is translated to the silver screen. Thanks to a friend of mine, I recently found out about this.

The movie, Norwegian Wood, was directed by Anh Hung Tran starring Rinko Kikuchi, Ken'ichi Matsuyama, Kiko Mizuhara, Kengo Kora and Tetsuji Tamayama.

Honestly, I really don't know who they are but what the heck! It's a movie based on Murakami's novel! 

I'm not sure if it is as good as the book. Reminds me of how they tried to make Banana Yoshimoto's book Kitchen into a movie. It was.... a tragedy and an utter insult to all the people of the Bananamania in Italy. Nobody liked the movie.

But anyway, I'm still gonna watch it and try to get my hands on a copy of that movie!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cook n' Kill, Cooking with Gaga

This is so far the most hilarious TV cooking lesson I've ever seen. What makes it more interesting and comical is Gaga's in it! 

I was searching for some cooking tutorials in YouTube when I happen to see this one. Gaga's unique style of savagely preparing a delicious and delightful Italian dish, pollo alla milanese.

Her dishes are simply.... to die for.... that is, if you remember how she made her sandwiches in her "Telephone" music video.

So here's the video. Enjoy and happy cooking! HAHAHAHA!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The AZ Book Challenge 2012

I have finally finished doing the list of the books I'm gonna read for the whole year of 2012. I read in the blog Bookmarked! about the this AZ Book Challenge. It's about reading books written by authors with names beginning from each letter of the alphabet. 

Hopefully I'll be able to read them all before the end of the year.

So here's my list...

A-   Auster, Paul- Oracle Night
B-    Bautista, Lualhati- Desaparesidos
C-    Cornwell, Patricia- Post Mortem
D-   Dennis, Patrick- Auntie Mame
E-    Eugenides, Jeffrey- The Middlesex
F-    Follett, Ken- The Pillars of the Earth
G-   Grisham, John- The Last Juror
H-   Hagedorn, Jessica- Dream Jungle
I-     Isherwood, Christopher- A Single Man
J-     Jin, Ha- In the Pond
K-   Kelman, Stephen- Pigeon English
L-    Lewis, C.S.- The Screwtape Letters
M- Murakami, Haruki- South of the Border, West of the Sun
N-   Nin, Anais- Henry and June
O-   Okakura, Kakuzo- The Book of Tea
P-    Patchett, Ann- Bel Canto
Q-   Quinn, Jay- The Beloved Son
R-   Roy, Arundhati- The God of Small Things
S-    Simoni, Marcello- Il Mercante dei Libri Maledetti
T-   Tolkien, J.R.R.- The Hobbit
U-   Updike, John- The Centaur
V-   Vonnegut, Kurt- The Cat’s Cradle
W- Waugh, Evelyn- The Brideshead Revisited
X-   Xiaolong, Qiu- Death of a Red Heroine
Y-   Yates, Alexander- Moondogs
Z-    Zola, Emile- The Belly of Paris

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

How to Attract Girls: Secrets of Edward Cullen Revealed

Tired of doing the old tricks of luring girls into your lair? Fed up with the myths of wooing beautiful maidens that never really work?

Here’s a chance for you to change your life. The secrets of heart-throb-zombie-lover-boy Robert Pattinson a.k.a. Edward Cullen is finally revealed and is shared by none other than his certified Twilight-fan and sentinel, my own cousin, Cookie.

Here are the tips she shared-

Original version (Italian)-

  1. Ricoprire interamente il corpo di anti-rughe. Ha più di 80 anni e un viso tiratissimo.
  2. Mangiare solo cibo liquido.
  3. Usare cipria, fondotinta, rossetto, e soprattutto… glitters!
  4. Per ultimo ma non meno importante- uscire con ragazze giovanissime, almeno 70 anni più giovane!


  1. Cover the whole body with anti-aging cream. He is more than 80 years old and a really super stiff (stretched?) skin.
  2. Eat (Drink?) only liquefied food. (Preferably human blood)
  3. Use face powder, foundation, lipstick, and most importantly GLITTERS!!!!
  4. Last but not the least, date super young girls, at least 70 years younger.

It's the End of the World and REM Knows It...

It was a sad day when REM called it a day as a band last September. Yes, I’m writing about an event that happened LAST SEPTEMBER!!!! Sorry but I am living in another parallel dimension. I just got the news two days ago!

And this is just one of the many signs and wonders that are coming out in the media- the age of the 90’s kids is about to come to an end. For us, it’s the end of the world.

Although I’m not a hardcore groupie/fan/worshipper of the band, some of their songs influenced me so much; they actually got stuck in my heart. They’re like the lost prophets who paved the way for alternative rock music to enter the mainstream, enter our heads, and then our hearts, and then ruin me and my generation for good, ripping our souls apart, predicting the end of it all, and releasing our souls in the age of freedom and non-conformism. Thus, my generation was formed. Very 90’s eh. That’s probably why most people who spent their teenage years in the 90’s are so stuck to that period, they’re so laid back, so pragmatist, and so jologs.

And yes I’m rambling again. Still can’t believe that something like R.E.M. would come to an end.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

Losing My Religion

In the early 90’s I had problems dealing with my own faith. To fall in love would mean death and to lose my religion because of love would mean death as well. I found myself in the edge of curse and blessing. Until now, it’s the same old theme.

And whenever I look upon you or remember you, I do feel like losing my religion. I get crazy. I try to rebel but lose the courage to do so. I try to destroy everything but I never actually had to guts to carry it out.

The chorus keeps echoing in the depths of my soul.

Are you my saving grace or the vortex that leads to the bottomless pit?

Was that just a dream?

Everybody Hurts

I’ve had my share of indulging myself with the most depressing songs of the decade. You know how some depressed, confused, suicidal teenagers are. I was one of them. I was a sucker for sad songs. If emo was a fad in those days, I think I would’ve become one. Yuuuuch! Hahahaha! Looking back, it seems absurd. Stupid! But I still liked the song because it brings out so much humanity in you. It’s a powerful song that says, “Yes, this song is soooo beautiful and true. Life is sickening. Kill yourself kid.” At the end of the song, you find yourself lying in the bed soaked in a crimson pool of blood coming from your wrists while holding a razor with a saint-like smile spread on your face.

The power of the song. And that’s why it’s so amazingly beautiful.

It’s the end of the world as we know it

The world’s gone mad and crazy, fast-paced and mindlessly consuming all things, knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. It’s effed-up. You go to work. Even in that small space, the world gets to you. You get dizzy. You’re so fed up with all the unnerving taks, the mob labour, the lies TV tells you, the false hopes your company offers you, your responsibilities.

And the end of the world comes. You feel actually fine about it. It’s time you had some time alone for yourself. And that very moment, you’ve stopped becoming the exploited slave, the socially-sodomized fool, the humanoid beast. At that very moment, at the end of the world, you cease becoming somebody in their eyes and finally become the human being you’ve always wanted to be. And it is the end of the world. It’s so fine.

Leaving New York

And finally the song that tells so much how I feel right now. It’s easy to leave than to be left behind.

I will leave you one day. You’ll never notice it. But then, have you even considered my existence? Never mind. It doesn’t really matter. It’s embarrassing and stupid. But I’d rather leave than be left behind.

Now that R.E.M. has left, I feel lost and bewildered. It won’t be easy for us to go forward but at least we have their songs to help us walk through the valley and the shadow of the deathly music of auto-tuned-glitter-ass-girls and Justin-Bieber menace.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

The world makes one step forward towards its end now that R.E.M. is gone. It’s hard to accept it, but the age of my generation is about to call it a day. But you simply cannot erase in the cold eye of memory the three decades of unforgettable hits and music that this band left in mankind’s history.

R.E.M. forever….

Friday, November 04, 2011

The Girl and the Photo of a Thousand Stories

There’s nothing typical about Loren Balmores, especially when she picks up a camera and take pictures of people and places, and capture meaningful moments in time. Loren, 23, is a student at the University of Florence, finishing her degree in Modern Languages, one of the few young Filipinos who are pursuing courses and degrees in Italian universities.

Though she’s not considering a career in the field of photography, her passion for visual art is unwavering and intense. She taught herself about the basics and the techniques of photography and digital art and has been producing art works in good taste.

Last October 9, 2011, Loren showed what she’s really made of as she bagged the Third Prize at the 1st Photo Kultura Contest, a photography competition launched by Ugnayan ng Komunitang Pilipino, a Filipino association headed by Mr. Juancho Aquino. The theme of the contest was “The Life and Struggles of OFW’s”. The event was also attended by the Consul of the Philippine Honorary Consulate in Tuscany Hon. Fabio Fanfani, and the new Philippine ambassador to Italy, H.E.  Virgilio J. Reyes, Jr. and his wife, Mrs. Maria Felisa L. Reyes, and various community leaders from different sectors of the Filipino community of Florence. Among the special guests was J. Orosa Paraiso, a neurologist and visual artist from the United States, who also exhibited his collection of photographs, entitled “Bhutan: Beyond the Glass Window”.

Loren’s entries are about the struggles and life principles of Filipinos living in a foreign land. The principles of diligence, faith, love, and sacrifice- these are the driving forces that push them to achieve hopes of a better life for their families. Her winning entry is entitled “The Struggle of Prejudice”. The photograph features her father standing in the forefront with his head held upright, showing his defiance against prejudice and mediocrity, while the other people stood behind him in the dim background with their heads bowed down.

Her entry is not just a simple picture but a tribute to her parents who made great sacrifices for her. In an interview, she recounted the story of how her parents, Jun Balmores and Lita Balmores, both professionals in Libya, migrated to Italy in search of greener pastures, hoping that they would be able to offer a better future for their daughter. In Italy they had to give up their profession, confront discrimination, and stand against social prejudice with dignity and integrity, with their new found faith in Jesus Christ.

With one photo she told the story not only that of her parents, but also those of thousands of other Filipino families, of men and women who crossed the borders and left their comfort zone for in search of a better future.

For so many years, the Philippine government and other national institutions have praised OFW’s by calling them the new heroes of the country. They are in fact one of the most important financial components which keeps the country’s economy afloat. The fact is the relentless Filipino diaspora and the government’s indifference (or perhaps, encouragement) to such phenomenon is damaging the cultural identity of the country, exposing a people to harassment and harsh treatment, and, above all, it’s also ripping apart families, causing so much problems and heartaches.

And it’s the very reason why Loren participated in the event. She believes that photography is not just for art and cultural appreciation but an important tool not for the community and also for the Church and its mission in spreading God’s message of hope and love.

She and her family are active members of the ADI-MEF Florence Church. Loren is involved in various ministries together with her boyfriend Jobert Galanza, a fellow church worker and leader of the ADI-MEF Young Adults Group. Most importantly, she’s also a member of the teaching force of the ADI-MEF Bible School in Florence. She’s also a volunteer in non-government organizations such as ARCI and UNICOOP, organizations that are working for the emancipation of immigrants and foreign communities in Tuscany.   

Indeed, there’s nothing average about her. Beneath the clothes and image of what seems to be the average Filipina girl, there’s a woman of impressive intelligence, great and courageous spirit, and a heart full of charity and faith in God. She is not the ideal modern day girl, but a genuine woman of God.