Wednesday, July 1, 2015

My Fujifilm experience

Last month, I parted ways with my Nikon D90 which I purchased in 2011. I was a Nikon user since I started photography 6 years ago.

My first DSLR camera was a second-hand Nikon D40 bought from Mark, a bird and wildlife photographer. Since then I got hooked into the hobby until becoming a semi-professional a few years back, getting some commissioned projects which paid off my initial investments.

Last year I made a conscious effort to go mirrorless when I bought a brand new Canon EOSM which came with an adaptor where I can attach Canon EF lenses. I just found the smaller bodies of mirrorless cameras light and very convenient to bring.

Last May, after countless exhortations from street photographer Karlo Flores I purchased a pre-owned Fuji XE-1 from RJ Monsod, a fellow hobbyist I met thru our photography group MCOM. I bought a Nikon and Canon adaptors so that I could still use my Nikon and Canon prime lenses which I retained.

Fuji XE-1with a 16 megapixel
X-Trans CMOS Sensor

I had been using Fujifilm XE-1 for about two months now, what I noticed is the image quality particularly the colors and the sharpness. I love how the colors are rendered by the camera and perhaps is one of Fuji's selling points. The sharpness can be attributed to the absence of an anti-aliasing filter because of its X-Trans processor, also one of the primary reasons why I was intrigued by the Fuji camera.

As for the drawbacks, I miss the user-friendly Nikon controls. The faster focusing speed, the longer battery life of the DSLR. Despite the drawbacks, the image quality, sharpness and colors of the Fuji XE-1 is enough reason to shift.

Fujinon 27 mm 2.8

Fujinon 27 mm 2.8
Fujinon 56 mm 1.2
Fujinon 35 mm 1.4

with a Canon 50 mm 1.8 lens. The Canon lens delivers bright and vibrant colors to the photo.

using a Nikkor 35 mm 1.8 lens, Nikkor lens brings contrast and sharpness great for streetscapes.

Monday, June 29, 2015

MCOM photoshoot at the White House

The "White House" (not the US President's residence) is an old house located at a small hill overlooking the JP Laurel, Buhangin Junction. It was built during the American period and originally served as the plantation dwelling of Abaca grower Robert Ker.

Shoot at the mansion's veranda

It has since been converted into a fine dining restaurant specializing in French, Japanese and American fusion cuisine. One of the few remaining heritage structures in Davao City it has become a favored spot for photoshoots particularly engagement sessions or pre-nuptials.

Last month I asked permission from chef Cathy Binag who runs the resto if we could have our shoot at the white house. Our photography group Maniniyot Community has been looking forward for another group photoshoot together with our new members.

Things fell into place, Ms. Cathy acceded to our request plus she gamely sponsored snacks consisting of arroz caldo and bibingka, the dishes will soon be offered at her soon-to-open resto named FCF (Filipino Comfort Food).

Fujifilm Philippines led by Mr. Joel Bagas who handles Mindanao accounts supported the event by providing us with Fuji gears to use for the event. He bought in XT-1, XE-2 and XA-2 cameras together with 56 mm, 10-24 mm, 18-55 mm lenses where the group could try out while shooting. Fuji Instax evangelist April San Pedro also joined the shoot.

Joemar using the XT-1, their top of the line camera body (16.3 MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS II Sensor)

Designer Xioti Chiu of Famo Xiete Atelier lent us some dresses to be worn by our models Dewanie and Yuko. Our Hair and Make Up Artist was Ron Iyo who did the HMUA for a group photoshoot done late last year.

Yuko Imaizumi 
Dewanie Kim Sala

It was a morning of fun and learning. The photographers aside from learning techniques in portraitures from RJ Monsod were also able to try the Fuji cameras. RJ is a former MCOM member and a passionate client of Fuji. His Streetraits, a series of street portraitures using Fuji X series cameras and lens was the inspiration for the shoot.

Joel, April and Bianca trying out the XA-2

photo from Migs Lisbona
the group

Using Fuji

I am currently using a Fuji XE-1 camera, having sold my Nikon D90 a month ago. The shoot gave me the opportunity to try out the much vaunted 56 mm 1.2 lens. Got to try a few shots, it's a superb lens, sharpness is great, auto-focusing was fast. A perfect lens for portraits.

XE-1 56 mm 1.2

MCOM would like to thank Ms. Cathy Binag of White House Fusion Cuisine and Filipino Comfort Food, Bianca Binag, the chefs and staff of the White House Fusion Cuisine,  the team from Fujifilm Philippines Mr. Joel Bagas and April San Pedro, Xioti Chiu of Famo Xiete Atelier and HMUA Ron Iyo

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Third Republic part 2

Wrote this short story in 2005 during the height of the Hello Garci Scandal. A fictionalized account of a coup d' etat gone wrong. It was published in Dagmay, a weekly literary page in Sunstar Davao.

“The last President”

The General ducked low to avoid the rotors of the Huey. He walked briskly to the Palace towards the Heroes hall. The once immaculate mansion has resembled into a chaotic City hall. Accompanied by Special Forces units of the Philippine Defense Forces, the General rudely interrupted the heated discussions of the National Democratic Council.

“It is already 8 p.m. and they are still bickering. The General said to himself. As he entered the debate stopped into a hush.  The hall froze as they saw the General in full-battle gear, together with his special forces who appeared more equipped than the junta soldiers stationed at the palace. The General then took to the podium, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have lost Visayas and… Mindanao.” the General thundered, his eyes piercing towards the Junta’s Mindanao delegates.

Cloaked with full dictatorial powers the General first act was to allocate about thirty billion pesos to buy surplus Russian military hardware to replenish and beefed up the junta’s armed forces. The General had still dreamt of conquering Mindanao.


“I’ve never expected this to happen. We thought we’d end up as heroes… but now the situation’s becoming worse” The Junta major told the Mayor as they stood on an empty departure lounge of the Davao International Airport. The major was in command of a battalion of Junta soldiers controlling the Davao airport.

“The air force of the junta is crippled, don’t expect any more C-130s, you are already isolated, pretty soon your supplies here will run out. But its not too late, you can walk out of here safely, I assure you.” The Mayor spoke to the officer; he had high respect for the Junta officer, whom he had known as an idealistic, well-disciplined army major before the turmoil.

“There are no enemies, only lost brothers,” the Mayor has told his AFRM units as he restrained them from attacking the Junta positions at the airport.

Inside the luxurious suite of a high-rise hotel in Davao City, the President of the Mindanao Republic met with the emissary from the Visayas Republic.

“I would like to thank your government for foiling the Junta’s attack.” The Mindanao Republic is entirely grateful to the Government of the Visayan Republic.” The Mindanao President said to the Visayan emissary.

“We had a common enemy; we want to avoid further bloodshed.” The emissary replied while curiously looking at the Mindanao passport issued to him.

“After this war is over, I am inviting the President of Visayas to come over here for a State Visit. We should institute full diplomatic relations with you immediately.” The President said.

“But Mr. President is this for real? Are you really going all the way?” the emissary queried.  “What is for real?” the President replied.

 “This Republic of yours, are you going to pursue it?” the emissary said in reply.

“Yes, of course, this is our dream; our long-cherished dream of an independent Mindanao, the time has presented an opportunity for us to pursue our destiny. Why are you asking the question?” The President asked, a bit puzzled by the emissary’s query.

The United States will be moving in soon to restore the government. The 7th fleet is coming. It will not be long, when these Junta bastards will be ousted.”

When the old Government will come back, Mindanao shall be no longer part of it. The President emphatically told his guest. “What will happen to the Visayan Republic?”

“The situation now called for it, it is a way to frustrate the Junta, to declare separate republics to prevent them from consolidating power but we don’t intend to remain an independent country forever, it’s too complicated, we are just waiting for things to normalize. It won’t be long,” said the emissary.

 The emissary’s words sounded a foreboding omen to the Mindanao President.

The fighter pilot viewed the distant hazy polluted skies of Manila, it was  0730 hours about 10 minutes since he was scrambled from Villamor, he was ordered to meet the intruders coming from the skies, the intruders were US F/A-18 fighters taking off from a carrier battle group off South China Sea. And he had to engage them with his aging F-5A fighter.

The pilot and his jet was no match for those superior warplanes, he was sure he has already been locked in their advanced radars. A minute passed, the F-5A banked to the left and headed towards Clark Field to land. The pilot didn’t want to die fighting an unequal war.  

Three hours after the junta lost the battle of the skies, the regime of the Democratic Nationalist Movement was a foregone conclusion.

In a posh resort off Samal Island the group which now are the high-ranking officials of the Mindanao Republic had met to discuss the future of the new nation. United States Marines have landed in Manila without encountering any resistance as the General have disappeared and gone into hiding leaving a crumbled Junta. A caretaker council has been formed to prepare for the eventual return of the exiled leaders.

The group had received feelers from the exiled government about its eventual return. Although many were happy that the crisis ended, others had been worried about the future of the Mindanao Republic, many wanted to keep the flames of independence, while others wanted its dissolution and a return to the old Filipino Republic.

The group had decided to take the matters into voting, the fate of the republic will be known by the weight of their votes, The Samal caucus was an impassioned gathering that dwelt unto the night then lasted to the following morning.

And soon, out of the fifteen members of the Group, fourteen had cast their votes, seven favored independence while an equal number favored re-integration. The last one still to cast his vote was the Mayor.

“His vote will determine the future of Mindanao” the President said, anxiously waiting for the Mayor to announce his stand. “What will your vote be?” asked the Secretary of Public Works.

“This is your chance, to chart our own destiny…to correct injustice, to correct apathy that we have long suffered.” words bellowed from the President that sounded more like a plea to earn his vote.

“Yes, Mr. President I believed that we as Mindanaoans have suffered so much injustice and neglect from the past. I believed that this is the time to decide on our own destiny.” The Mayor said.

“The vote that you will cast will decide the path that we will take.” The President said.

 “I’ve always believed that I am a Filipino as much as I am a Mindanaoan and in our darkest hours we saw how much we can destroy ourselves, but it also shows how much we can achieve if we remain united.  This crisis was never meant to break us apart into separate Republics but made us to realize that we can stand up on our own and navigate our fate as an equal part of this Filipino nation and with this I vote for re-integration to the Republic of the Philippines.” This mayor said as he cast his vote.

Finally the fate of the Republic was decided. Its end was sealed in a single vote. The defeat of the Mindanao Republic was accepted by the Mindanao President together with those who voted for independence.

“My brothers and sisters, we have chosen the outcome of our Mindanao nation, with a very heavy heart I accept the votes as our collective decision, this I believe is the essence of democracy, the foundation of every freedom-loving nation. In my younger days, I would have marched off to war to fight for the principles that I have voted for today, But I am an old man now, and Mindanao has suffered for too long from the many wars we have fought…. I thank you for making me the first President of the Mindanao Republic, but please allow the request of this old man, that he will not be its last leader”

The President had resigned from his post followed by half of the pro-independence cabinet. By the following day after the fateful voting the group had chosen and persuaded the Mayor to be the last President of the Mindanao Republic.


The Third Republic

Wrote this short story in 2005 during the height of the Hello Garci scandal. A fictionalized account of a coup d' etat that transformed a nation. It was published in Dagmay, a weekly literary page in Sunstar Davao.

The Coup (Part I)

June 23, 2005

It was 4 a.m., the Mayor was awakened by the musical ring tone from his Nokia mobile phone, the call was very urgent. Half an hour later his Toyota pick-up sped towards an address in an upscale subdivision in Buhangin where the Group was waiting for him to relay the shocking news.  

The Junta has taken over MalacaƱang Palace in a daring lightning assault. The President in a twist of luck decided to spend that fateful night in Subic Freeport after a meeting with some high-level Japanese investors when the attack happened. The Head of State has been whisked away to Singapore by some of her loyal followers.

The takeover came at around 12 midnight when three companies of renegade elite Army units sneaked in for a river borne assault; simultaneously armored vehicles rushed towards the gates and smashed the light resistance coming from the surprised Presidential Guards.

“Around 2 p.m. the 20-vehicle convoy entered the fallen palace bearing the members of the Junta. In a flash, they have ousted the President. The Junta had just established the ruling council which will govern the country. The President is now in Singapore and has condemned the Junta; they had formed a government-in-exile.” said a member of the group who detailed the events that happened to the Mayor.

“Hindi to pu-pwede” the Mayor uttered hurling a hail of expletives at the news. “The time is now” said an elderly member of the group. “We must hurry.” And the group settled into the house for the rest of the dawn.

By 8 a.m. the City was jolted by the breaking news. Television screens flash the images of the Junta announcing the peaceful take-over of the national government urging the rest of the former Government and the people to recognize and respect the new leadership. By 9 am, the image of the President beamed live from Singapore invoked constitutional authority asked the nation not to recognize the Junta and ordered units of the armed forces to crush the intruders.

By the morning the Junta had dissolved the Congress, replaced the entire Supreme Court and declared a martial law all over the country. The nation’s economic, political and social institutions had grounded to a standstill.

3 p.m. across Rizal Park the Mayor and the Group had gathered at the plaza and was joined by an Army contingent half an hour later. A motley group mostly curious onlookers and confused citizens had crowded in the square in the middle of Davao City.  Across Quezon Park in front of the City Hall the tri-colors of the Philippine flag was lowered. A flag emblazoned by an unusual eight-pointed star was hoisted.

“Today is a day of our independence.” Today we declare a new democratic nation, where equality, liberty and justice will reign. Today we declare the birth of the Republic of Mindanao.” after the speaker articulated the declaration of independence, a choir sang in a capella the national anthem amidst the cheers and gunfire coming from the civilian and military crowd. Similar brief Independence ceremonies were also held in ten major Cities and towns across the island.

Inside the sophisticated Camp Aguinaldo war room, news of the declaration of  Mindanao independence had just filtered in.  The General tersely received the news. Outside the Campgrounds, infantry and armor of the new Philippine Defense Forces were being readied to crush another breakaway Region; the Ilocos Republic.  Within a few minutes the forces had moved out.

A counter-attack by the loyalist forces of the erstwhile Philippine Republic was brutally crushed.  The General was a brilliant military tactician. The Defense Forces in military precision were fanning out across Luzon to smash whatever resistance before any organized defenses can be set-up.  

But the General was uneasy about the Mindanao Republic; the Loyalist Navy commander had dragged nearly the entire Philippine Fleet towards Singapore. The delay in transporting the troops needed to crush the Mindanao secessionists would take away the initiative of shock and awe that did well in crushing the breakaway ‘Republics’ and remnants of the old Republic in the island of Luzon.   

In Davao City, the Group since dawn had not lulled back to catch some sleep nor take some breather, in this critical period their adrenaline was running high, the Group was composed of a proportionate collection of prominent Christian, Moslem and Lumad personalities. Punishing marathon meetings were conducted to enact their plan of action; foremost priority was the organization of the new government. 

The Group immediately agreed of an emergency government with the Mayor as its President. But the Mayor strongly declined the post and offered it instead to a prominent Moslem member who accepted the provisional post. The Moslem in turn appointed and prevailed upon the Mayor to accept the post of Defense Secretary.

The Group decided that the creation of a new Army responsible for the defense of the Republic would be their top priority. They had been alerted to the fact that the Junta had commandeered inter-island RORO (Roll-off and Roll-on) Vessels and its Air Force were busy fitting up some C-130 transports and refurbished F-5A fighter jets for an all-out assault on the breakaway Mindanao Republic. 

At around 5 p.m. the Armed Forces of the Republic of Mindanao (AFRM) was born.

His first job as the Defense Minister, the Mayor was tasked to organize the Armed Forces of the Republic of Mindanao or (AFRM). Under him were the allegiances of four Army brigades. The rest of the units of the erstwhile Armed Forces of the Philippines had taken refuge in General Santos City and Zamboanga City where they maintained defensive positions. The Junta’s forces in Mindanao meanwhile had controlled the airports in Davao City and in Cagayan de Oro.

The Mayor ordered emissaries sent to the AFP units in General Santos and Zamboanga in the hope of converting them to their side or winning their support. Emissaries were also sent to New People Army (NPAs), the MILF and the MNLF. By the next morning the emissaries had wrangled a truce between the AFP and the AFMR, a commitment of about 6,000 men from the MNLF and the MILF and an assurance from the NPAs in securing the vulnerable western flank of Davao City; the Capital of the new Republic.

It had been two days after the take-over; the Junta had established the Democratic Nationalist Council as the ruling government. Meanwhile a People’s Revolutionary Constitution had superseded the 1987 Constitution.  

The General had witnessed how the Junta tried to restore normalcy to a nation struck in its worst crisis since World War II.  He saw the Junta’s never-ending dialogue with the Businessmen, the Church, the politicians, the academe etc. trying to assure them of their plans and visions for the country is the same as their aspirations and ideals but the General could only flinch as if the Junta’s efforts were one big joke.

“How can we dream of a better future for our Country if Mindanao is not with us?” the General opined irritated with suggestions from some members of the Junta who suggested in securing and strengthening the Junta’s grip of power first before attempting to retake Mindanao. “We must take Mindanao at all cost and at the soonest time possible”. The General said to himself, as he reached for his mobile phone.

“It will take a week before we can adequately set up our defenses, however we can opt for a strategy of guerilla warfare, with this plan we can frustrate their attack.” said the Chief-of-staff of the Mindanaoan Armed Forces.

“No! We must stop them the moment they land on our shores. Ayaw ko na nang patagalin itong giyera, let us not prolong the agony of the people.” said the Mayor.

Then an aide rushed to the Mayor and handed to him his cell phone. It was a call from the General.

 “You are the only sensible person I know there, I am asking you to stop this foolishness, please accept the authority of the Democratic Nationalist Council, as the new Government of the Filipino Nation. Come on Mayor, let’s talk things over, mapag-usapan natin ito.” said the General trying to act like a patient man.

“General, Mindanao has ceased to become a part of the Filipino nation the moment your Junta took power; there is nothing to talk about.” The Mayor replied.

“Very well then, you have sealed your fate.” The General said.

 “Yes, I am prepared for whatever outcome; we are ready to shed every drop of our blood the moment your forces will come here. Mindanao will be waiting for you General.” The Mayor replied.

The Colonel sat quietly inside the C-130 along with 120 of his men. The Hercules was flying over to Cebu for a short pit stop.  The Junta’s six F-5A and two AS-211 jet fighters are being refueled at the Mactan Air Base.   Along with the jet fighters there will be four C-130’s each laden with more than a hundred elite Special Units all of them en route to Mindanao.   Five RoRo vessels laden with three thousand soldiers with armor and artillery are now underway to the Island.

The Colonel was well immersed with the invasion strategy; with his Special Forces in the four C-130s he will land in Junta-controlled airports in Lumbia and in Davao City, there his forces will disrupt the defenders and divert them from the real objective of stopping the amphibious assault.

The Colonel got out of the plane and walked across the tarmac towards an officer and a platoon of soldiers. Exchanging pleasantries, the Colonel asked about the situation in Cebu in which the officer responded by poking his 9mm pistol at the Colonel’s head.

“Upon orders of the Government of the Republic of Visayas, I take you and your men as prisoners-of-war.” The officer declared to the Colonel as a soldier disarms him. By this time military 6x6 trucks and Hummer vehicles laden with troops sped towards the tarmac and began to surround the transports and the warplanes of the Junta.

“Republic of what?” asked the startled Colonel as he was herded to a waiting Hummer.

The General was furious; the attack on Mindanao was foiled by the appearance of a breakaway Visayan Republic who in turn had captured his top field commander aside from the hundreds of the Junta’s elite soldiers and its fleet of C-130 transports and warplanes. He had to turn back the rest of the invasion forces because of the recent misfortune.

“The time is now.” The General said. He was in his camouflaged uniform with his Glock pistol tucked in his holster. He looked at his watch; it was 2330 hours.  The General received reports of disagreements and infighting over power-sharing arrangements among the members of the Junta.  He was gravely disappointed at the way things are running. He had made his decision; it was time to take charge of this Country, what was written by force will be rewritten by force. Minutes later the drones of helicopters could be heard. They were night-flying-capable Hueys and MG-520 gunships.  Within minutes the General was aboard the chopper en route to MalacaƱang.

(to be continued)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The cross the line

By RG Alama

“I’ve just been through that stage, 5 months and counting. 6 months and that’s permanency” Joy scribbled in her blue tickler, writing her journal discreetly away from the prying eyes of her co-employees.

“Oh eto Joy.”  Sheila handed to her another set of tightly packed peso bills that were taken from the day’s transactions, and which would be recorded in the balance sheet. The money bundle reflected the flurry of the earlier banking hours.  

Joy took hold of the bundle consisting of different denominations, placed it on her counter and immediately began tallying the deposited cash and placing the figures on an appropriate ledger; amidst the occasional chitchat and small banter Joy doggedly homed in on her work.

4 p.m. glancing across the glass counter Joy could see the long pile of vehicular traffic in front of the bank. Trucks and cargo vans of different sizes had made their last supply run before calling it a day; unloading and loading merchandise along the rows of mercantile establishments in the middle of Chinatown. The swirl of dust and dirt had added to an increasing riotous clutter.

In the comforts of her office, away from the heat and grime, Joy is in the midst of harmonizing the day’s transactions unperturbed by her boisterous officemates. As if she was purposely trying to transform herself into a heavy-duty industrial workhorse.

Hoy Joy you might just become our bank manager someday” Sheila kidded her younger co-employee noticing her quiet industriousness.

Dili daw uy” Joy reacted with a faint smile.”

Kain tayo ng inihaw na saging, ma’m Joy “ Maila called out, the scent of grilled banana topped by melted margarine and sprinkled sugar permeating across the office.

“Sige lang, thanks” Joy answered, foregoing a daily afternoon ritual.

Ah sus, nabuang na dyud ka sa imung gugma, dili na makakaon unya sige’g hilak” Sheila said as she gently tapped the young lady’s frail shoulders.

Joy could feel the comforting tap of her ate Sheila; she had done that several times before, shortly after the break-up. She remembered how her Ate would dutifully remind her how it will come to pass. And if she asked when, her Ate would just say, “sa iyo na iyan kung gaano katagal.”

Inside the counter, all Joy could see was the figures of numerals printed and etched in the denominations and currency in the ledgers. Each amount measured by its corresponding value written in numbers.

“Could these numbers give value to the love I have given? Could it measure the hurt inside?” Deeper than the figures, her mind had betrayed her machine-like efficiency, memories of a not-so distant past intruding like a restless phantom.

“Nung nakita kita sa party na-realize ko. di ko talaga  kaya na mawala ka.” His words resonated like the gentle tinkle of a Chinese chime. He said it to her shortly after their tumultuous break-up. He wanted to reconcile for the umpteenth time, but these were the first and the last words she had wanted to hear.

“It’s all over asshole” was all she said, the strongly worded expletive had completely shocked her and had also taken him aback.  From that day she had redefined the line between him and herself.

It was June the 22nd; she remembered it as the day of infamy, when she had to start paying the price of her certainty.

This is DJ Johnny, welcome to the On the Spot, an hour of great music, where we will put the spotlight on your favorite artists.  Our artist for this hour is no other than Mr. Pure Energy himself Mr. Gary Valenciano

 Joy could hear the soft blare of the radio being played, the cleaning crew had arrived and so has the night-shift guards. A late afternoon routine was to switch on the office’s stereo component.

Brrrrrggg. The vibrating alert of her 6600 jolted her than the long-winded DJ talking on the radio who seemed to talk endlessly about Gary V.

It was Suzette, inviting her for an afterwork cup of coffee and a light sandwich meal at Figaro’s. Suzette was Joy’s trusted confidant. When everything dismissed her as the most stupidest-person-to-fall-in love-in-this-face-of-the-earth, Suzette’s ever-reliable shoulders were still there for her. When pain was unbearable she along with Leng and Mark were her much-needed anesthetic.

“Ayaw ko mang saktan ang kanyang damdamin, Ngunit kailangan malaman… Puso'y kumakaba, Sana'y matapos na di' makapag-umpisa… Ngunit kahit nais ko man pilitin 'Di na kayang ibigin… Paano ipadarama sa 'yo sinta na puso'y ari na ng iba wohh-wohh- wohh-wohh-wohhhh”

The lyrics slowly seeped into Joy’s ears, dissecting every word of that old Gary V. hit as if it was trying to command her to remember.

“Wala nay uban station ‘nong? She asked one of the cleaning crew.

“Unsa may gusto nimo’g istasyon ma’m?” asked one of the familiar faces.

“Ah kanang guwapo ug sounds gud.” She replied, making an effort to smile at the cleaning crew.

The man responded by pressing the component’s auto-program button.

“Constantly, you're on my mind, thinking about you all the time, I can't sleep no matter what I do, I just keep on thinking 'bout you” The crystalline voice of Juris Fernandez wafted through the air.

Arrgggh buwiset! That MYMP song, Joy remembered how he loved that song and would make an effort to sing it to her. I’m in no mood to drift into memory lane, what next? Nina’s version? She said to herself.

Within a few minutes Joy had punched her time card to the bank’s Bundy clock, it was 7:30 p.m. with the rest of the bank officers having left the building, and it was time to leave.

Darkness had enveloped Monteverde street, the bustle gone, the streetscape drastically altered into a transforming ghost town. The last of the traffic enforcers had left, except for a few passing cars and an occasional taxicab.  The street was a pale shadow of its daytime buzz.

Joy saw herself standing at the street all alone. Suzette would be meeting her at Figaro’s; she would have a sip of latte and nibble some Chicken Focaccia to stave off a slight pang of hunger. Or she would invite Suzette for a bite at Pizza hut.

“Wait lang talaga baby, I’ll just finish my beer.” She remembered one night when she waited for him.  The nerve! It was 7 pm and she! All alone in a near-desolate City street, had to grudgingly take a cab in a long ride home to Buhangin. Hours later another one of their fights would have began.

“Ano ka man uy! Ako lang mag-isa sa kalsada na iyun ba!” She raged at him.

“Hindi mo ako hinantay, papunta naman ako!” he answered pleading his case.

They would reconcile later, and Joy would be back in love, admiring her man, laughing at him especially in his funny jigs at the Liquid dance floor. And such was the usual case.

I have gone to heaven and I went to hell with him, how many times more? Perhaps I do not know.

“Joy just think about it, it doesn’t seem good. You have to draw the line,” Suzette said to her during one particular evening at Karl’s. “You can’t be this way forever; it’s becoming stupid and you know that.”

Suzette was right. Joy had felt it, but the biggest price was letting go. She knew she had loved him, no questions asked.

For everytime Joy would draw her line, it was quickly overwhelmed. As if she would start all over again, Re-loving, re-hoping and re-dreaming as if things would be better. An attribute her friend Mark would often compare to the blind obedience of a pet poodle.

“Dili na ma na gugma, mura na kag iro ana!” Mark would admonish her everytime she would seek solace after one of their many skirmishes.

Joy would reminisce how many times she had to seek comfort and fortitude, trying to search for answers only to come back with more questions.

Ate Shei, is it right to give him another chance?” Joy would ask Sheila .

And Sheila would then fish out a crisp one-thousand peso bill out from the bundle, to illustrate her point.

“You know what Joy, hindi ako ma-surprise pag na-imprenta ang mukha mo sa perang ito 

Joy felt that her ate Sheila’s patience was wearing thin; she was being compared to the images of heroic martyrs printed on the bill. And this is no complement. The difference was that they were heroes who became martyrs, suffering then dying for a gallant cause, while she was…

Pero nasa sa iyo yan, I’m just saying from my perspective, you just have to learn, I cannot teach you how to disengage from him, ikaw lang ang may sagot niyan, be prepared to fight for what you believed, but also be ready to give up when you know that it is hopeless.” Sheila said.

Joy remembered the words well, one day in the midst of her depression she had looked into the mirror in her room.  In the mirrored reflection stood herself looking like every inch an angel, an angel fresh from the chaos of apocalypse, battle-scarred and weary.

She remembered the day when she said it was all over. When she finally strode behind a solid demarcation line, no more turning back. But the days were marked with sadness and pain, often finding herself quietly weeping in pained agony.

Joy had prayed that someday it will come to pass. “Have faith. God hears the desires of our hearts, He knows exactly what we want yet He would only grant us what’s best for us because God alone knows what is right for us.”  She remembers putting it in her journal.

All alone along Monteverde Street, Joy had decided to take on foot and walk to nearby Sales Street turning towards Chimes and to Figaro Cafe. She felt hungry, suddenly craving for a hearty meal of burgers and pizzas. “It has been a long while, perhaps upon reaching Figaro I would just tell Suzette to momentarily forego her diet and join me in one big food trip.” Joy said to herself.

The sodium-lit street is virtually empty; Joy took in brisk evenly strides the steps towards Sales street about a hundred meters away. Behind the glare of the streetlights she could see the sparkle of distant stars.

“The expanse between our hearts is as distant as of the farthest stars,” her heart whispered as she gazed upon the starlit sky. A fact slowly entrenched in permanence.


Monday, December 15, 2014

The path of the broken-hearted is a road of endless possibilities

I peered through the capacity crowd at the Gaisano Mall Cinema. Seconds later I would be mouthing my short speech. I am the festival director of a film festival which I joined 10 years ago because of a broken-heart.

Yes, I was in a relationship a decade ago, but it wasn't a regular relationship. it was what I call a guerrilla romance. I was the third wheel, the girl had a boyfriend but perhaps blinded by "love" I gave in to our secret arrangement.  Until the time came when I wanted a definite status, asked the girl to choose me or him... she chose him.

In the process of broken-heartedness I wandered the streets of this peaceful city, in my mind the only thought was to forget the girl in any way possible. A friend advised to take up a meaningful activity, a new hobby perhaps.

Then I saw the poster posted along the electric post which advertised the Guerrilla Filmmaking workshops... a crash course on Guerrilla filmmaking, I was intrigued. I was wanting to join video and film production courses, only Davao City had no activities such as this.

The day after I went to the Alchemy of Vision and Light office at Anda Street and signed up for the workshop, paying immediately the P5,000 registration fee. This would be the first step in forgetting her.

We had weekend workshops and by the end of it, we had to produce a 30-minute movie. The production of the movie entitled ironically "Happy Ending" was mostly a nightmare, killer schedules shoots which lasted till dawn, bickering teammates, lack of resources characterized our shoot.

Fortunately we were able to finish the film, screened it in cinemas and won awards (Best Film) and the best of it all, I was able to forget the girl. Perhaps the problems of the production hastened the moving on process or perhaps obliterated the emotions and feelings bottled up inside.

I came to be impressed by the vision of the organizers Dax and Drei and by the next year, I hopped on board the organizing team, the Guerrilla Film Festival was renamed into the Mindanao Film Festival.

By 2012 I came in as Festival Director, there was unprecedented growth more films, more audience, by 2014 we established international linkages with Malaysia and Brunei for the East Asean Film Festival, I also was appointed as curator of the NCCA's Cinemarehiyon.

Funny how things turned  out, How after every rejection comes a new opportunity. What if she chose me, perhaps I would be trapped in the bliss of love, which is not bad per se but I would have ignored the compelling need to take a new endeavor. Perhaps it was God's way of leading me to a calling to serve in the field of  culture and the arts (but I wish it would be less painful to the heart Lol)

The experience gave me an important lesson that failures are actually doors which opens to another opportunity. Yes there will be heartbreaks and failures but there will always be another door.

Friday, December 5, 2014

My opening speech at the 10th Mindanao Film Festival

Maayong Gabii sa kaninyong tanan

Good evening.

I would like to acknowledge our honored guests, Councilor Antoinette Principe of the 3rd District of Davao,- Councilor Petite is the cousin of our featured filmmaker for the evening Adjani Arumpac; Councilor Al Ryan Alejandre of the 2nd District of Davao City-during the 1st Mindanao Film Festival in 2005, Councilor Alejandre was part of the cast of one film and also we have Wolfgang Doerner Program Manager of Forumzfd. thank you sir for supporting our young filmmakers.

Through these 10 years, the Mindanao Film Festival has its share of admirers, fans, supporters and also… critics.

The critics like to point out that the film festival has not improved, has been the same. The output qualitywise didn’t amount to be a significant improvement.

The critics maybe right, while screening some of the films I personally feel that some of our films needed improvement, the script, acting, cinematography, audio etc.

During our meetings I asked the foundation what is the direction of the festival, will we put stricter criteria or put these films into a more rigid curatorial process, that only the best would be shown or featured.

But the answer is…

Why wait for passion to refine into an exclusive craft.

Why not inspire others to try making films. By providing a film festival where they can show their stories carried in the medium of digital films. Where they can invite their families, friends or loved ones to watch.

To break the walls of this once exclusive enclave of cinema more accessible, no longer the domain of big studio people form Hollywood or mainstream Filipino movie companies or critically-acclaimed indie filmmakers.

That an ordinary Juan from a barrio in Nabunturan or from the streets of Agdao can make a film about their unique experiences, stories from their family, tales of their community. And show it on the silver screen.

There are many Juans and Marias in our midst, each with a rich imaginarium of stories to tell. . . And this is the goal of the Mindanao Film Festival as a venue for these films and their filmmakers.

Our theme is “Celebrating Regional Imaginations.” We honor the these creative minds has been fuelling our filmmaking movement into one of the active among all other regions in the country.

So this is our direction- For the Mindanao Film Festival to be a platform for up-and-coming Mindanaoan filmmakers to show their films. In the hopes that they will be inspired to follow their dreams. Later on as their passion dictates they will improve into fine craftsmen of their chosen art.

Maraming salamat po. Long live Mindanao regional cinema.