Ray Fisher (Cyborg): My father called it a change engine. It was found by the British during World War I. They studied it but they couldn’t even date it, it was so old. It was shelved ‘til the night Superman died. Then she lit up like Christmas. They brought it to Star Labs where my father recognized it as a perpetual energy matrix.
Ezra Miller (Flash): That sounds cool. I thought it was like a nuclear bomb. Cyborg: A mother box destroys as it creates. It’s a cycle of life a million times faster. My father thought it was the key to unlimited energy. New formulas cellular regeneration but its too volatile to control. Ben Affleck (Batman): He used it on you.
Cyborg: I was in an accident. I should’ve died. My father thought he could use the mother box to rebuild the broken parts of me with a few cybernetic adjustments. Instead he built a living machine, maybe stronger than its host. Batman: Too much, too much life. Jason Momoa (Aquaman): What’s on your worried mind? Batman: Coordination basic cellular integrity. The human being can only absorb so much. The mother box was designed to reshape a planet. Aquaman: So?
Batman: What if you were stronger than a planet?
JUSTICE LEAGUE puts together the strongest team possible, at least in the DC Universe: Superman (Henry Cavill), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Batman (Ben Affleck), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Flash (Ezra Miller).
LizQuen for New Close Up Ever Fresh TVC
Any superhero mega blockbuster movie in my mind is not only as good as the team up but the villain has to be just as compelling and awe-inspiring. The antihero here is the very reason why they’re coming together. That’s why even on the MARVEL side of things they’re already hyping up the enemy in Thanos.
DC Film Legacy
I’ve written this before in previous reviews BATMAN VS SUPERMAN, there’s greater pressure on DC because they have the added burden of pleasing the critics and award giving bodies as well as having to make a gazillion dollars to be called a ‘success’. MARVEL for the most part just has to make money.
Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger have either been nominated or won an Oscar for the Joker role. Christian Bale, Michael Keaton have both made their mark as Batman not to forget their directors Chris Nolan and Tim Burton. And even before those Christopher Reeve & producer Alexander Salkind have also reaped critical acclaim for SUPERMAN in the 1970s. Marlon Brando was Jor-El, Gene Hackman (Lex Luthor), THE GODFATHER novelist Mario Puzo co-wrote the screenplay. Their work was so memorable that a huge number of people to this day think of Christopher Reeve as THE Superman.
Stephen Curry Chooses Rexona, the World’s No.1 Deo
While JUSTICE LEAGUE may not necessarily be Oscar material, I feel it has more than lived up to the creative expectations. If you were to say ANY other film breached the half billion mark it would have been considered a huge success. But because of production costs along with global marketing and having to compare it with the competition apart from other DC AND Marvel titles specifically WONDER WOMAN, THE AVENGERS etc. it is seen as a box office disappointment.
Mother boxes Origin
So going back to the point of why I think it’s a creative success, one of the reasons is their usage of Mother boxes and Steppenwolf as the antagonist. The mother boxes help thresh out the origin of Cyborg. In cartoons Cyborg has come out in TEEN TITANS but his origin was never fully dealt with. As related in the lead dialogue above the mother boxes put an interesting twist to the human/cybernetic combination that is not a new concept.
Cyborg is a lot more than just a Six Million Dollar Man or ROBOCOP. Victor Stone’s exposure to mother boxes allows him to evolve and give him a direct connection with machines, both physical and ‘mental’. For the youth of today who are constantly online, seeing someone who can surf the web with the internet coming out of his hands is a power they can relate to.
Jadine Ding Dong Marian – PNB Serving You First For The Next 100 Years
The Steppenwolf character also ties together the history of the Amazons and the Atlanteans. There’s a greater appreciation of the origin stories of two JUSTICE LEAGUE members in Wonder Woman and Aquaman. That’s why Wonder woman was the one who best explained what the mother boxes are and Steppenwolf:
Gal Gadot (Diana Prince): They don’t contain power, they are power. Carried from planet to planet the mother boxes combine to form the ‘unity’ an apocalyptic power that not only destroys worlds but transforms them into the primordial house gate of Steppenwolf’s birth world. We should’ve died but we formed our own unity: Amazons, Atlanteans all the tribes of man fought side by side. Warriors of legend, allies from other worlds even the gods themselves all acted as one laying down their lives to drive Steppenwolf away. Some say it drove him mad the disgrace of his first retreat. Before our alliance would crumble the darkness would cover the earth. He vowed that he would return when it did. Left behind the mother boxes were too dangerous to be kept together. One was entrusted to the Amazons, one to the Atlanteans, both sealed and guarded secure strongholds. The box of man was buried in secret so that no tribe would be tempted to use its power. Such harmony out of such horror, it was truly an age of heroes.
In any movie I review I include either dialogue or a scene that would pique the interests of the readers. At the same time I don’t want to divulge too much that would ruin the experience of watching it. For the dialogue I have included in the lead and the explanation of Diana (alter ego of Wonder Woman), I feel having a better understanding of the mother boxes and Steppenwolf would definitely enhance the experience.
PAL – Gifts from the Heart: Noche Buena Surprise
Not included in the dialogue above are the scenes running while she related this story which included the Green Lantern race—‘allies from other worlds’ as described by Diana. It may be a teaser for a future member of JUSTICE LEAGUE, which is Green Lantern (most famous human alter ego) aka Hal Jordan.
Using Steppenwolf as the antagonist we get a better sense of how Aquaman came to be. And how the Amazons are not just parts of Greek lore but are defenders of humanity. The use of the mother boxes also drives home a theme of unity from both sides: the boxes have to come together to form a portal for Steppenwolf and the JUSTICE LEAGUE heroes have to gel as a team.
TANDUAY – Piliin Mo Ang Bubuo Sayo
Director Zack Snyder has story credit with Chris Terrio who wrote the screenplay with Joss Whedon. Story and dialogue aren’t the first things that come to mind with superhero movies but in this case they made it work. Terrio has already won an Oscar for ARGO. He also wrote: BATMAN VS SUPERMAN and the upcoming STAR WARS Episode IX, he’s also on board for JUSTICE LEAGUE 2. Interestingly enough Whedon co wrote both AVENGERS (2012) and AVENGERS AGE OF ULTRON (2015).
Connected to Steppenwolf is the actor in the role: Ciaran Hinds. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and his name is pronounced KEE-rin. For most fans they know him as Mance Rayder from Game of Thrones. Rayder was an exceedingly tough, legendary leader who united the Wildlings, North of the Wall. I think that’s part of the reason why there was some dissatisfaction with not seeing him and having a CGI character instead.
The problem is the need to have Steppenwolf as physically imposing or threatening to the likes of Wonder Woman and Batman. If you can imagine Jason Momoa (Aquaman) who looks like a 6’3” bodybuilder, running back, Heavyweight UFC fighter. You have to have an antagonist who puts the fear in THEM. So in this age of 3D animation, the visual compromise was acceptable. Hinds vocal performance was powerful and scary, definitely a testament to his acting abilities.
Hilarious Ellen Adarna – Tanduay prank vid
Nielsen is an unforgettable, tall almost imposing Danish beauty. She was also one of the women offered by the devil (Al Pacino) to seduce Keanu Reeves in THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE. There’s something striking in her features and blonde hair that seems to denote royalty. She was notable as the emperor’s daughter in GLADIATOR. That’s why as Queen Hippolyta, Nielsen’s performance is equally memorable. One of the scenes hinted at a Lesbian relationship. Which is understandable since they are all women who cannot leave the island of Themyscira. Hippolyta’s sister and Amazon Lieutenant Menalippe played by Dutch actress Loven Kongsli also makes an appearance here. If only for those scenes, JUSTICE LEAGUE has proven its worth.
Ray Fisher, will reprise his role in a stand-alone movie CYBORG and FLASHPOINT (with The Flash) in 2020. Fisher has a solid acting background in theater and once played Mohammad Ali in FETCH CLAY MAKE MAN. He also auditioned for STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, although the part went to John Boyega. Cyborg being included in JUSTICE LEAGUE is a great way to add a hero, the younger generation can relate to.
Ezra Miller is the youngest and geekiest of the heroes as the Flash. He looks like a younger, Asian looking version of Jimmy Fallon. Miller’s quirky, self conscious and insecure version of the Flash, is again a character millennials can identify with. His performance however is a departure from his more serious dramatic roles that have earned him critical praise in WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (2011) opposite Tilda Swinton and PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER (2012) with Emma Watson. He earned a Chopard trophy in Cannes as a homicidal son in …KEVIN. Most fans will likely remember him as Credence Barebone in FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM.
Ellen Adarna intrudes – Tanduay prank vid
Talking about awards, JUSTICE LEAGUE boasts of several Oscar winners (as actors): Jeremy Irons (Alfred), JK Simmons (Commissioner Gordon). Ben Affleck has two, as producer in ARGO (2012) and as screenwriter in GOOD WILL HUNTING (1997). The one weakness, however in the performances for this movie should be Affleck’s. We understand that the voice of the Batman with the mask is distorted. But he made the decision to make himself sound tougher when he’s not wearing the suit/mask. The result is closer to a bad impression of Clint Eastwood in DIRTY HARRY.
Once you can get over that, you can enjoy the rest of the movie especially with the gorgeous and strong Gal Gadot more than making up for it. Ever since WONDER WOMAN Gadot has raised the bar high for women in action films. JUSTICE LEAGUE not only continues that but allows her to ‘fight’ together with other members that makes the scenes even more complex and exciting at the same time.
In my opinion, casting Jason Momoa as Aquaman was Zack Snyder’s best decision. Aquaman isn’t necessarily the action laden, tough, superhero that attracts legions of fans –unlike Batman, Superman or even Wonder Woman. HBO’s ENTOURAGE in one of their episodes made a joke of it as Vince Chase (Adrien Grenier) was hesitant to take the role in a blockbuster film.
Enter Jason Momoa who instantly makes Aquaman, for lack of a technical term: bad ass, or bad ‘mother@#$%*!’. Momoa’s most famous role also in GAME OF THRONES is Khal Drogo. Fierce doesn’t begin to describe that role as the undefeated leader of the Dothraki. Novelist and creator George RR Martin based the Dothraki as an amalgam of real nomadic horsemen in history: the Huns, Mongols and the Apache. Unlike Affleck, Jason doesn’t have to change his voice or speech, he just looks, sounds naturally tough and intimidating. Before his breakthrough role he also played CONAN THE BARBARIAN in the 2012 remake. His look and identity is exactly what the Aquaman role needed to be taken into kick ass level and he did it.
Momoa’s Haka for Mark Hunt
There’s a video on YouTube of Jason performing the Haka a Maori war dance for Mark ‘The Super Samoan’ Hunt. Jason is friends with Hunt who is a UFC heavyweight fighter, living in Sydney, Australia. Momoa was there to shoot AQUAMAN the movie set for release in 2018. In an interview with BBC he revealed that it was director Zack Snyder’s idea to use his Polynesian heritage and covering him with tattoos for his role of Aquaman.
If you’re a fan…
The critics have not been kind, but if you’re a comic book fan who wants fast action, if you’re cartoon series fan, a Game of Thrones fan, a Millennial or just a kid in a grown up body (like me), you’re going to love JUSTICE LEAGUE.
Snyder pays homage to some of the same heroes I have apart from the DC ones. In one early montage, there’s a newspaper front page with David Bowie, Superman and Prince. Recently passed Bowie and Prince certainly seem otherworldly because of their unprecedented talent as musicians and larger than life personas. All the 12 year old in me can say is: Thank you Zack. You showed that you don’t need to wear a cape to be a hero. But it can be really fun to watch people who do.
For the first time in the Philippines audiences will be able to watch a cinematic treat from Panama. There have been quite a number of international fests here even the WORLD PREMIERES film festival (instigated by former FDCP Chair Briccio Santos), which featured titles from as far as Russia, Turkey, Mongolia and so on. Panama, however, is one of those countries that have yet to debut a movie for Filipinos.
Through the very first CINE LATINO Film Festival, Pinoy cineastes will be able to watch movies from this region of the world for free from December 6 to 10, 2017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Rila Plaza Mall in Mandaluyong City. Shang Cineplex has established itself as the home of many international fests having just concluded the Argentinian Film Fest and Danish Fest. There is also the upcoming Hungarian film fest from December 1-2, 2017.
CINE LATINO will have a mix of drama, comedy, romance and many more. The festival is set to show films from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Venezuela that are truly unforgettable.
In a recent presscon Chilean Amb Jose Miguel Capdevila made note of the reasons why storytellers from Latin America have captivated the world, “Latin America has been quite prolific, first with literature. If we remember the 70s, the so-called Latin American boom. We have authors such as Jose Donoso, Pablo Neruda and so on. There was a very important point of culture that came from Latin America and was very successful. Nowadays from 90s onwards cinema kind of took the post. Our countries started producing wonderful films. And the quality of films were of such level that if you take a look at the international festivals all over the world you’ll see that the one of the top three are Latin American films proposed for awards. That speaks for itself in terms of the quality of films we are producing.”
Chilean Amb. Jose Miguel Capdevila also emphasized the importance of cinema in bridging cultures, “I would say in the past 10 years we have advanced very much. The concrete and living proof is that our films have been awarded in the most important festivals all over the world. Needless to say that was one of the ideas in organizing this festival. Because we were fully aware and conscious we would like to share with you something very good about Latin America such as cinema. Cinema as literature cinema is a way of language and expression. Essentially what is expressed is ourselves, the way we are, the way we feel. Once you watch these films and books you get an impression of who we are. The more we know each other the better the ties will be. In that token this festival plays an important role in making us closer, the Philippines and Latin American countries. That is the worthwhile effect of this common activity.”
Argentinian ambassador Roberto Bosch proposed the CINE LATINO Film fest to the other Latin American countries who have embassies here namely: Brazil– Amb Rodrigo do Amaral Souza, Chile – Amb Jose Miguel Capdevila, Colombia – Amb Victor Hugo Echeverri, Mexico – Amb Gerardo Lozano Arredondo, Panama – Amb Rolando Anibal Guevara Alvarado and Venezuela – Capaya Rodriguez Gonzalez. The Spanish language is a point of emphasis in the shared history of the region and the Philippines.
Panamanian Ambassador Rolando Anibal Guevara Alvarado talked about how their government has started to assist their filmmakers, “Panama has a film industry but is in the initial stages. Now we have more opportunities for filmmakers, actors in the worldwide audience. For us it’s significant to bring a movie here. The title is CHANCE, which is a hilarious comedy. It’s basically about 2 housekeepers who work for an aristocratic family. For a certain time they were mistreated in one trip of the family to Florida, the yayas have a plan of their own. They take care of the mansion in their absence. In doing so they discover intimate secrets of the family. The message is all dirty clothes have to be washed in house. It’s going to be a hilarious comedy for Filipinos.”
OFWs, Ship Registry
Panama has strong economic ties with the Philippines, “You have Filipinos around the world. We have also in Panama Filipinos working as caregivers, nurses. Last year we deployed a lot of Filipinos, 1,000 experts who worked on mining because Panama is starting the mining process.”
Ship registry according to Alvarado is still the focus, “But the main reason we have an embassy here is because of shipping. Panama is the number one ship registry (for the Panamanian flag) and Filipinos are the largest and best seafarers in the world. That’s our connection. That’s basically the main purpose. We had our national Day just two weeks ago. We were celebrating the hundred years of the ship registry. We are very well known for that. We have a whole state policy behind that. Just to give you an idea of how close our ties are, we receive a total of 150 applications per day for ship registry. We have a very good synergy between governments in that particular area. We have signed Memorandum of agreements on high level official visits.”
Connected to the ship registry is another film they would like to screen by next year, “We’re also trying to bring Historias De Canal HISTORY OF THE PANAMA CANAL this is a feature film we’re going to screen in the near future most probably in the first quarter of 2018. I would also like to invite the shipping community. We are a country of mariners by nature.”
Boxing legend Roberto Duran actually makes a cameo appearance in this current film EL CHANCE screened in CINE LATINO Dec 8- 6pm and Dec 10- 1pm (Shang Cineplex). Alvarado revealed a new role for the world renowned ‘Hands Of Stone’, “Roberto Duran is appointed now as Special Envoy for Sports. He’s an icon of Panama has given a lot of glory for our country. He was recently inducted in the Boxing Hall of Fame. He’s now doing a nice job of promoting sports to young people. By the way we are very fond of Manny Pacquiao. There are quite a few people who follow the fights of Manny Pacquiao.”
History with Spain and U.S.
Ambassador Alvarado also enumerated the historical similarities between the Philippines and his country, “In the case of Panama and several countries in Latin America we came from hundreds of years of Spanish rule. Panama has a twin connection with the Philippines. Apart from being a Spanish colony we also have the influence of the U.S. Americans. You have the military bases as well as us. They controlled us for 40 years until the canal was turned over to Panama. So the U.S. has influenced us, making a big impact on the economy, lifestyle. So we have that special thing. We are very Catholic basically we are in the same equator, just on the opposite side of the world. We have the same weather, fruits and products. And we have a lot of connections between our two countries.”
CINE LATINO schedule
|Time||December 6 • Wed||Running Time|
|1:00 – 2:35||Patas arriba (Venezuela)||1.35|
|3:30 – 4:45||Sofía y el terco (COLOMBIA)||1.15|
|7:30 – 9:35||El hijo de la Novia SON OF THE BRIDE (Argentina)
opening night film
|December 7 • Thu|
|1:00 – 2:55||Dois filhos de Francisco (Brasil)||1.55|
|3:30 – 4:50||Shortfilms (México)||1.20|
|5:30 – 7:10||Hermano (Venezuela)||1.40|
|8:00 – 10:10||Cidade de Deus (Brasil)||2.10|
|December 8 • Fri|
|1:00 – 2:50||El comienzo del tiempo (MEXICO)||1.50|
|3:30 – 5:20||Subterra (CHILE)||1.50|
|6:00 – 7:30||El chance (PANAMÁ)||1.30|
|8:00 – 10:05||El hijo de la novia SON OF THE BRIDE (ARGENTINA)||2.05|
|December 9 • Sat|
|1:00 – 2:30||Esperando la carroza (Argentina)||1.30|
|3:00 – 4:55||Dois filhos de Francisco (BRASIL)||1.55|
|5:30 – 7:20||El comienzo del tiempo (MEXICO)||1.50|
|8:00 – 9:15||Sofía y el terco (COLOMBIA)||1.15|
|December 10 • Sun|
|1:00 – 2:30||El chance (PANAMÁ)||1.30|
|3:00 – 5:10||Cidade de Deus (Brasil)||2.10|
|6:00 – 7:35||Patas arriba (Venezuela)||1.35|
|8:00 – 9:50||Subterra (CHILE)||1.50|
Written and photographed
By Jude Bautista
John Proctor (JV Ibesate): Anong kasalanan? Bakit yan si Parris? Bakit yan si Abigail di niyo pag hinalaan ha? Porke’t sila nagsampa ng kaso sila banal? Alam ko na nangyayari sa bayan na ito. Venganza! Pag hihigante! Hindi naman tayo ganito tayo dati ha? Pero ngayon pag hihigante na! Venganza nga ito. At hindi ko hahayaan maging biktima ng venganza ang asawa ko! Elizabeth Proctor (Doray Dayao): John sasama na lang ako sa ka nila. Proctor: Hinde! Ezekiel Cheever (Erick Sindol): John hindi pwedeng hindi mo sakin siya ibigay. Trabaho lang ito. Sumusuonod lamang ako sa utos. Proctor: Ano? Ikaw wala kang gagawin? Rev John Hale (Joshua Tayco): Paniwalaan natin ang hustisya ng korte! Proctor: Hoy! Ponsyo Pilato! Kahit ang Diyos di papayag sa pag huhugas kamay mo!
There was a palpable fear and discomfort inside the Tanghalang Huseng Batute, (Studio Theater) of the Cultural Center of the Philippines during the performance of ANG PAG-UUSIG (A translation of Arthur Miller’s THE CRUCIBLE) by Tanghalang Pilipino. The show is a must watch for all Filipinos and runs until October 22, 2017.
Although it was set in the 1690s, it was like looking into the lives and homes of modern day Filipinos who have been suspected as drug pushers or those who lost loved ones in Tokhang or the War On Drugs. The official number of lives lost is at least 3,400 (as of June 2017) but anyone who watches the news each day knows the real number is much higher. Pres. Duterte said recently, “Pumatay tayo (Let’s kill) another 32 everyday, maybe we can reduce what ails this country,” From Philstar.com: 20 killed in Manila overnight after bloody Bulacan raid
The definition of crucible is a severe test, which refers to the trials in Salem and the era which put to death innocent people mostly women wrongly accused of witchcraft. Filipino, like most Asian languages, is high context, with one word having several meanings. Pag-uusig is not a direct translation of crucible, according to google translate its prosecution. In an interview with director Dennis Marasigan (a screenwriter himself) he preferred the translation as persecution, which fits the story even better. It was Marasigan’s idea to use Pag-Uusig as the title, not taking anything away from the masterful translation of Jerry Respeto, whose work is quoted above.
Storied playwright Arthur Miller best explains his own work through COLLECTED ESSAYS published by Penguin books in 2016. Portions of the essay were quoted in the program of PAG-UUSIG along with valuable insights from the creative team. The official program (priced at P150) is an essential resource and companion to appreciate the play. More importantly it grants us a better understanding of what’s happening in our country today.
Miller writes about THE CRUCIBLE, “Is it a political play? It is I think, but in a particular sense. It is very often done in Latin America just before a dictatorship is about to take over—as a warning and just after one has been overthrown, as a reminder…Its underlying reference is political paranoia whichever side makes use of that source of power.”
Two weeks into the run of PAG-UUSIG (October 13) President Duterte threatened his ‘enemies’ by having them all arrested and establishing a revolutionary government, “Sige mag-demonstrate kayo, bring it to a point na talagang tatagilid ang gobyerno. Alam ng military isa sa mga active na mag-destabilize is the communist. Do you think police and military will sympathize with you? I was elected by the people. If I sense the country is about to go overboard, I will declare a revolutionary government. Hindi ko kayo tinatakot pero hulihin ko kayong lahat, and I will declare a full-scale war against the NPA (New People’s Army),”. From ABS CBN News: Duterte Threatens to Set Up Revolutionary Government.
In the same article he identifies plotters believing that the Central Intelligence Agency is in a conspiracy with the Communist Party of the Philippines / New People’s Army to overthrow his regime. This is ignoring the fact that the CPP/NPA has an anti-U.S. Imperialism dogma throughout its more than 50 year existence.
Duterte also believes that reputable news website Rappler.com is controlled by the CIA without offering any basis. Founder Maria Ressa is a well-respected media figure having worked as CNN’s lead investigative journalist in Asia for two and a half decades and was head of ABS CBN News and Current Affairs. She has won an Overseas Press Club Award for Best Documentary and countless others.
The Paranoid Becomes A Leader
Milller continues, “Paranoia has a power and it rises not basically from ravings about plots and hidden conspiracies but from the grain of recognizable fact around which the fantasies are woven. The paranoid feels endangered by some person or group mysteriously controlling his actions despite his will. His violence therefore is always defensive, trained against oppressor who means to kill him before he can kill them.” For Filipinos this helps explain the oft-repeated excuse in the loss of life in police operations. The term is nanlaban, which means fought back therefore a justification for the police to use force thereby killing the suspect.
Miller also offers an explanation how the paranoid becomes a leader, “His job therefore is to unmask and disarm, to find the seemingly innocent traces of the pervading malevolence and he comes to recognize hostility even in the way a person holds his hands or turns his head. His only hope is power, power to neutralize the dangers around him. Naturally since those dangers can be anywhere his power must also be total in order to work. And of course it is true that to one degree or another we are, in fact hostile to each other, and when we are accused of holding that hostility, we do indeed hate the accusation and the accuser. So that the paranoid creates the reality which proves him right. And this is why the paranoid, who in normal times might merely end in an institution can rise to the leadership of a society which is really insecure and at a loss of spiritual debility.”
McCarthyism and Impeachments
Miller wrote THE CRUCIBLE in 1953, the heyday of McCarthyism. It was an era that was also marked by paranoia and persecution of ‘accused’ communists. He described the parallelisms between the two, “Three hundred years apart both prosecutions were alleging membership in a secret disloyal group. Should the accused confess his honesty could be proved only the same way – by naming former confederates nothing less. Thus the informer became the very proof of the plot and the investigation’s necessity. Finally, in both eras, since the enemy was first and foremost an idea, the normal evidentiary proof of disloyal actions was either deemphasized, left in limbo or not required at all. And indeed actions finally became completely irrelevant. In the end the charge itself, suspicion itself all but became the evidence of disloyalty”
Days before President Duterte made his threat of arresting his ‘enemies’ via a revolutionary government, Commission on Elections Chairman Andy Bautista was impeached in congress October 11. This is only the latest among other impeachment complaints against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales. Both women are outspoken critics of Duterte’s War On Drugs and have impeccable reputations in the judiciary.
While there have been impeachment trials from previous administrations, only under Duterte has there been impeachment complaints against 3 separate officials. The complaints all come within his first year and a half in office. One of them against the Ombudsman, which ironically is defined as “charged with representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints of maladministration or a violation of rights. The ombudsman is usually appointed by the government or by parliament, but with a significant degree of independence.”
Former COMELEC Chair Sixto Brillantes described Bautista’s impeachment, “(It’s) a total farce. I am fully aware that the process of impeachment is both political and legal. It is totally, absolutely and purely political because all legal aspects were brushed aside.’ Citing one reason, he said the House committee on justice had determined that the complaint itself was accompanied by a “deficient, defective, flawed and infirmed verification.” From philstar.com: Comelec Chief’s Impeachment a Farce Says Predecessor
The article continues, “Some congressmen who attended the caucus and who did not want to be named told journalists that there was a “marching order from the Palace” to impeach Bautista. Duterte denied this on Friday, saying he does not meddle with his allies in Congress, some of whom are also claiming that he has given them the go-signal to impeach Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.”
Miller’s words ring ever true, ‘Indeed actions finally became completely irrelevant. In the end the charge itself, suspicion itself all but became the evidence of disloyalty.’
Eggsy (Taron Egerton) was excited to get out of the Kingsman tailoring shop and have a quiet dinner with his young, loving girlfriend. Two steps from the Kingsman vehicle disguised as a black London cab, a familiar face confronts him. Charlie (Edward Holcroft) holds a gun to his neck and forces him into the car. Eggsy appears to give in, just as the car door opens he flips Charlie into the backseat and tries to electrocute him with a hidden Taser. Charlie responds, “That’s not going to work on me anymore.” Charlie’s right sleeve burns and reveals a robot arm and punches Eggsy who gets out of the way. Eggsy screams at the driver to “Just drive!” Just then Prince’s ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ starts blaring out the speakers as they try to kill each other, the car runs a hundred miles per hour through London’s busy streets.
As they struggle in the back seat, Eggsy sees another car speeding beside them. The back door swings open as Eggsy hangs on. Before an oncoming car hits the door, Eggsy leaps out of the way and he lands on the door skimming on the street like a spinning surfboard. The attacker’s car following them tries to run over him. Just before he gets run over, he grabs the trunk handle, opens it and gets in. He hits Charlie through the cushion and starts the fight all over again.
Kingsman The Golden Circle has it all: cars being driven underwater, ordinary looking eyeglasses that allow video conferencing, robot dogs that tear people apart to electric lassos and bullet proof umbrellas, hands down the best action movie of the year. The first film established it as James Bond to the nth power with a little bit of Austin Powers mixed in. Golden Circle tops all that and much more.
Combining high tech action and dry British comedy had the expected result: a hit earning $192.2million worldwide after the first week of opening. In the U.S. it has already out grossed the first film. But what was even more remarkable is how it dealt with something that was perfectly relevant to Filipinos. The message seems targeted or specifically tailor made for the Philippine situation.
Nowhere in the film does it even mention the phrase or acronym EJK or extra judicial killings because it goes way further than that. The film breaks the fallacy of two very clear generalizations that have been the norm in our country: 1. All drug users are criminals 2. All criminals deserve to die.
Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons were the two comic book creators originally called The Secret Service. But both Writer/ Director Matthew Vaughn and screenwriter Jane Goldman should be praised and congratulated for making the story and dialogue for The Golden Circle beyond an action blockbuster. They injected something pertinent most especially with the current situation in our country.
Before anyone can say spoiler alert, in this section of dialogue no character is revealed to have died nor the result of their plans. It does reveal the mindset and intentions of the U.S. President convincingly played by Bruce Greenwood. The scene is after nemesis and Drug Lord of the World Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) has poisoned millions of people in America and the world with an additive in her drugs that ensures a painful death. She also offers an antidote if the President will end his War on Drugs and legitimize her business.
President (Bruce Greenwood): What I’m proposing is we appear to agree to her demands to prevent global panic. And then let the junky scum go down in flames! Hehehe Yeah! Let this Poppy cancer go down with them. No drug users, no drug trade! Win-win situation here. Chief of Staff Fox (Emily Watson): But sir we’re not talking about a handful of hostages here. We could be looking at the deaths of hundreds of millions worldwide. President: Hundreds of millions of criminals a burden to society! Am I right McCoy? General McCoy (Mark Arnold): Absolutely sir.
Chief of Staff Fox: What about people who were just experimenting or self-medicating? Functioning professionals? Kids? President: Don’t give me that crap Fox! The fact is this presidency has just won the war on drugs! General McCoy: Congratulations sir! President: Thank you! And that deserves a toast! Chief of Staff Fox: This is totally unethical sir. President: Fox shut up! McCoy declare martial law we need to maintain control. Commandeer stadiums, schools, civic centers order a press black out. Put the military on standby…
Champ (Jeff Bridges): Whether they committed a crime those people are human beings. Great God, right now Tequila is in deep freeze because of this. Whiskey (Pedro Pascal): We can’t make it personal sir. Champ: Personal? Agent we can’t stand by and let folks like him die. These people, we’re they’re only hope…
Although the President was not the direct cause of the ‘deaths’ of drug users, it is crystal clear that he is more than happy to let them die, even when he had the chance to prevent it. According to the morality, logic and common sense of the film because of this he was still criminally liable. It’s the universal consensus in laws of man – Constitutions across the world, laws of God – in different religions from thousands of years is the sacredness of human life.
If this is common sense and is a universal consensus how is it in our country that all drug addicts are considered criminals? And how is it that all criminals therefore are deserving of summary executions? How is any of that acceptable? How was it made as a viable solution to our country’s ills?
If the U.S. President in this film can be held accountable for letting people die what more if a President is the actual cause of these people’s deaths? It may not be in the millions but it’s already in the thousands here in the Philippines. Then that President is without a doubt criminally liable.
The War On Drugs is not the only political statement of the film. There are many but one of the most traditional is the use of the U.S. flag. The symbolism of inserting it in cinema is even older than Hollywood. In my Documentary Film class (many, many years ago in DLSU) was taught by Dr Doy Delmundo. He is one of the esteemed screenwriters and filmmakers in the Philippines. He showed us one of the earliest films ever produced here during the Fil-Am War of 1898.
U.S. soldiers were marching, carrying Old Glory. He talked about the positioning, front row and center. As it got closer to the camera the stars and stripes filled almost the top half of the frame. That simple composition impresses upon the viewer the dominance of America or as an emerging superpower from a silent-era documentary film.
More than a hundred years later, the theme and technique still live on albeit with more special effects. In one scene from KINGSMAN the good guys pull a ripcord releasing a parachute. Emblazoned on the whole fabric the unmistakable Stars and Stripes. The U.S. flag almost explodes on to the whole silver screen as air hits the chute expanding it. The message here is slightly changed, with America being the world’s savior.
Think and Ask Questions
Whether it’s the War on Drugs or American role in the geopolitical landscape, no one has to subscribe to any and all of the ‘political statements’ or ‘propaganda’ intentionally or unintentionally made in KINGSMAN THE GOLDEN CIRCLE. What it should do to us as viewers is make us think and ask questions. Why do we believe the things we do? What is my stand on this or that issue and why? And if a movie is able to make me think this way and ask questions while at the same time entertain using incredible action scenes with Prince and Elton John blaring in the background, then so much the better.
Guardians 1 Ending
GUARDIANS Awesome Mixtape
There’s been a recent trend in blockbusters of using music from the 60s, 70s and 80s. Yes it has been done countless times before. But the recent success of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (the first one) has even more action and sci-fi flicks turning to the older hits that millennials are completely ignorant of. GUARDIANS was nominated for a Grammy, AMA & Billboard for their soundtrack while winning Best Music Supervision for Films Budgeted Over 25 Million Dollars (Dave Jordan) from Guild of Music Supervisors Awards and HMMA Best Soundtrack Album.
GUARDIANS last scene even included an old tape deck, on a space ship for that matter playing AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrel, before that scene MOONAGE DAYDREAM from David Bowie and even the Jackson’s ABC during the credits. STAR TREK BEYOND followed with Beastie Boys SABOTAGE for its climactic scene.
Crazy Elton John
KINGSMAN THE GOLDEN CIRCLE took it a step further when they actually cast one of the biggest songwriters from 70s and onward: Sir Elton John as himself. His scenes are the craziest you’ll ever see him. He plays to nearly all of his past real life tabloid exploits and emotional meltdowns dropping f-bomb after f-bomb. His fans and most people won’t be surprised at his ease in comedy. What is a revelation is his adeptness in the fight sequences. Youth of today will get a great intro to his work: DANIEL, SATURDAY NIGHT’S ALRIGHT FOR FIGHTING and Trump’s favorite ROCKET MAN.
He wasn’t the only 70s icon honored too. Mark Strong who plays the gadget man Merlin had a very touching rendition of TAKE ME HOME COUNTRY ROADS by John Denver.
Official KGC trailer
Kingsman The Secret Service represented everything that’s quintessentially British from dapper suits to scotch whisky. The Golden Circle adds their American cousins in Jeff Bridges (Champ), Channing Tatum (Tequila) and Halle Berry (Ginger Ale).
Pedro Pascal is unrecognizable as cowboy/agent Whiskey. Fans know him as the Mediterranean, Middle Ages Prince Oberyn in an unknown TV series called Game of Thrones. Here he has an electric lasso. Pascal was able to transform himself looking and sounding like a young Burt Reynolds with a southern accent. Pascal was born in Chile but grew up in Orange County, California and San Antonio, Texas.
The Golden Circle may seem like pure escapism with international locations, huge stars, super visual effects and awesome soundtrack but it also has some food for thought us Pinoys are in dire need of.
As Harry Hart (Colin Firth) imparted to Whiskey: “Manners maketh man.”
Disclaimer: the opinions, thoughts, views in this article are solely from the writer, and do not reflect those of COMELEC Chairman Andres Bautista and his family. Quotes, sources are highlighted, linked to or acknowledged when relevant. This was originally posted August 10, 2017 but has been revised, rewritten to accommodate newer information.
Written and photographed
By Jude Thaddeus Bautista
I first met COMELEC Chairman Atty. Andres Bautista when I was 14 years old through badminton. He was always just Andy to us. He wasn’t that much older (22); he was like a kuya or older brother. Andy along with his college buddy Vincent Rondaris were looking for a way to de-stress from the pressures of Law school in Ateneo. It was the late 80s, badminton wasn’t popular then. My parents, brothers and I all played together. We all enjoyed his easygoing, lighthearted personality. So much so that we’re still friends even after those years to the 90s, to this day.
That’s why when PDI (Philippine Daily Inquirer) broke the screaming headlines last August 7, 2017, Monday of his wife Patricia Paz Bautista accusing him of amassing P1 Billion in hidden wealth we were all shocked and dismayed. Tisha even accused him of emotional and verbal abuse under the acronym: VAW (violence against women). This was something none of us could believe, as I had never even heard him raise his voice against anyone or lose his temper throughout the years of knowing him.
PDI had designated a large print space on top for Tisha’s baseless accusations while Andy was given a corner at the bottom about a third of space for his side. As side note, it was indicated that he was making the official statements in the presence of his mother in law and in their residence. If Tisha really were abused, why would her own mother be more supportive of Andy? In spite of this obvious fact that would clearly disprove at least one accusation media, some Senators and congressmen have already pre judged the embattled COMELEC (Commission On Elections) Chairman.
Even PDI, a newspaper I often quote and praise for their reporting, seemed to be too eager in publishing these accusations. Andy, incidentally, used to be a columnist for their rival, the Philippine Star. PDI would make it a banner story the following day as well, publishing slightly more of Andy’s side.
Tisha’s own mother Baby Cruz-Vazquez has recently broken her silence and made a statement in support of Andy: “I’ve known Andy for many years. I know him to be an honest man, upright, God-fearing husband and father. He is a man of unquestioned integrity, the kind of man any mother would entrust her daughter to. This is why I cannot believe the accusations against him even if they are from my own daughter.”
Erudite and God fearing
Andy belongs to a very distinguished, erudite and God fearing clan. Former De La Salle University President Brother Rafael Donato was his uncle, the brother of his mother. He was very close to Brother Rafe and was very much affected by his untimely death from a swimming accident. Even when it wasn’t easy for him to do so he made the time to teach in DLSU, Ateneo and even PLM (Pamantasan Ng Lungsod Ng Maynila). He internalized his uncle’s mission of teaching and sacrificing one’s self to help educate others. This is something that Far Eastern University recognized and appreciated. That’s why they made him Dean of their College of Law.
Immediately after getting to the top 5 of the Bar exams he went to Harvard to earn his Doctorate of Laws. By the time he got back to the Philippines he was already working for U.S. based law firm White and Case. He worked in their Hong Kong branch and was instrumental in opening their office here in Manila.
Andy’s own brother Martin is a doctor and sister Susan has lived and worked in the U.S. but is now with the ABS-CBN Foundation specifically in BANTAY BATA. Knowing their brother’s frugal, stingy lifestyle, he was designated as the family treasurer. Their names are among the Luzon Development Bank passbooks that Tisha claims to be evidence of wrongdoing.
ANC Early edition interview of Martin Bautista
Successful Corporate Lawyer
He was already a very successful international corporate lawyer, way before he married her. It wouldn’t be surprising if he had earned or created some sort of wealth for himself, all perfectly legal of course. Although, this is by no means the 1 billion pesos she dreamed of.
What is more believable is that Tisha wants to include her share in all of Andy’s wealth even before the period of their marriage.
By the time they were married Andy also became the President of the Shang Properties Inc. This is the conglomerate that operates Makati Shang Rila Hotel, Edsa Shang Rila Hotel and Shang Rila Plaza Mall. So, again it is understandable if Andy has gained a certain amount of financial success. Because of his good career record and is admired, respected in legal circles President Noy noy Aquino appointed him as PCGG (Philippine Commission on Good Government) Chair and later on COMELEC Chairman.
Loyalty vs Qualifications
In hindsight, it would’ve been far more lucrative for Andy had he just stayed in the private sector. His life would’ve been easier, less troublesome. But because of his desire to serve the country and sacrifice himself the way that he learned from Bro. Rafe and his family, he chose to work for PCGG and later on COMELEC. There was this idealism that he never lost since the days I met him as law student decades before.
This is not unlike the very accomplished career of Albert Del Rosario who was Director of Metro Pacific Investments Corp and sits on the board of many top corporations and was a former Ambassador before he was appointed as Secretary of the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs). Del Rosario fought for the decision of international court in The Hague to rule in favor of the Philippines with China’s incursion in our territory.
There is this glaring gap between the appointees of President Aquino and current President Duterte who preferred to base them on support during the campaign as opposed to achievements and qualifications. Among them flamenco dancer and actress Liza Diño was appointed FDCP Film Development Council of the Philippines Chairman, whose father is a known supporter of Duterte. Then there’s Mocha Uson from the singing group Mocha Girls with the hit ‘Wag Kang Jejemon’ as Assistant Secretary in the Presidential Communications Office. Uson was also previously appointed to the MTRCB (Movie Television Review and Classification Board)
Hands Not Really Off
The issue of loyalty vs qualifications, loyalty vs independent thinking goes to the very heart of the conflict between Andy and Patricia. When PDI broke the news on Monday August 7, it was about Tisha meeting with President Duterte (July 26) and showing him the passbooks and documents supposedly as evidence of corruption. On August 1, the President met with Andy. The President has gone on to say that he was hands off on the issue between the marital spat.
Meanwhile his supporters/allies, namely DOJ secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, Senator Tito Sotto have expressed their intentions of investigating the corruption accusations on Andy from wife Tisha. The possible impeachment or forced resignation of Andy as COMELEC Chairman has lot of political implications. Since Andy has proven to be impartial, objective in his post, the president has no control over him and has a longer tenure.
There is fear from some quarters that Duterte will take advantage of the situation to wrest control of the COMELEC. Clearly Andy has been objective without partisan biases. That’s why the last election was universally praised with dozens and dozens of international observers who hailed the honest and efficient manner that it was conducted. That’s what’s at stake here now.
They’ve done it before
Previous events give credence to this fear. In 2014, Vice President Binay was leading the Presidential polls. Senator Allan Peter Cayetano then led a hearing into the investigation of corruption charges against Binay. The VP would never recover again in the polls after that. Cayetano’s motives would not have been questioned except for the fact that he became the running mate of Mayor Duterte. He was seen as ‘paving the way’ for Duterte in the presidential elections in 2016. As reward Cayetano was appointed DFA Secretary.
Democratic System of Checks and Balances
Democracy in the Philippines is very much threatened. Democracy isn’t just about individual rights, although we ALL know how much President Duterte values it. His famous quote being ‘Human rights? AMBOT!’ (Roughly translated from Visayan: Whatever). House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has already threatened ‘to strangle the Commission on Human Rights budget to the point of the agency not being able to operate and exist anymore’. This was after President Duterte wanted the CHR abolished. (from Rappler.com: Give CHR zero budget if it cannot be abolished – Alvarez)
Democracy is also about the natural checks and balances of the main branches of government: the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary. That’s why Trump and Duterte don’t understand why a Supreme Court judge ruling sometimes curtails their powers as president. Or when Trump can’t just ram through his legislative agenda in the U.S. congress and senate.
According to Britannica.com : The framers of the U.S. Constitution, who were influenced by Montesquieu and William Blackstone among others, saw checks and balances as essential for the security of liberty under the Constitution: “It is by balancing each of these powers against the other two, that the efforts in human nature toward tyranny can alone be checked and restrained, and any degree of freedom preserved in the constitution” (John Adams).
Presidents don’t have absolute power for a reason.
Human Rights Watch executive Director Kenneth Roth writes, “Unfettered majoritarianism, and the attacks on the system of checks and balances that keep governmental power constrained by rights and the rule of law, is perhaps the greatest danger today to the future of Western democracies.”
Here in the Philippines it’s already far worse.
Lower House Control
We have both the Speaker of the House Pantaleon Alvarez and majority house leader in Cong. Rodolfo Fariñas who are known and proven to be Duterte’s strongest allies.
From Rappler article Pantaleon Alvarez, Duterte’s lieutenant at the House :
‘He has the backing of the 250 members of the House supermajority, their sheer number giving Alvarez comfort that Duterte’s pet bills could be passed under his watch…His anointment as House Speaker by the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) was not a surprise. Alvarez, after all, played a crucial role in Duterte’s rise to the presidency.’
The same article states: ‘Alvarez, PDP-Laban’s secretary-general, convinced his party to have one member – Martin Diño – file his certificate of candidacy (COC) on the last day to give Duterte another shot at being president.’ This is the same Martin Diño, whose daughter Liza Diño was appointed FDCP Chair as mentioned earlier.
The connection with Martin Diño in this case is also relevant as he is the former Chairman of the VACC. The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption is the same organization that has filed impeachment cases against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno AND COMELEC Chairman Andy Bautista. (From Rappler article: VACC starts impeachment case buildup vs Chairman Bautista) They also filed the criminal case against Senator Leila De Lima, long time critic of President Duterte that led to her arrest. (From ABS CBN News: VACC insists case vs De Lima is ‘strong’)
Current VACC Chairman and founder Dante Jimenez has himself said: Ang VACC at si President Duterte iisang pusod lang ang hinuhugotan e: anti crime, anti corruption, anti-illegal drugs. My brother was killed by a drug syndicate…Matagal ko na siyang kaibigan” [Pres. Duterte and the VACC are joined at the hip for the same causes… He is a long time friend.]
This is from an interview of Dante Jimenez on UNTV’s Get it Straight.
Facts speak for themselves. While President Duterte says he is ‘hands off’ on the marital spat, his appointee in DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre has expressed intentions in investigating Andy Bautista. (Philstar: DOJ Expands Probe on COMELEC Chief)
The VACC an organization that has close ties with Duterte has already filed an impeachment case against Bautista in the lower House that happens to have a Speaker identified as a Duterte ‘Lieutenant’ in Pantaleon Alvarez, with ‘supermajority’ leader Rodolfo Fariñas.
In the upper house Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III has initiated an investigation on Bautista. “Sotto said he filed Senate Resolution 456 for the purpose of coming up with appropriate amendments to Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.” [From GMA NEWS ONLINE: Sotto: No politics in seeking Senate probe on allegations vs. Comelec chief ]
Our Judiciary has independent minds, so judges are maligned. Our president has repeatedly criticized Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. He also has an ongoing word war with Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales. They are both women with unquestionable integrity and sharp legal minds, who won’t cave in to his whims or close their eyes to the many extra judicial killings and possible cases against the policemen who have perpetrated them. The supposed arrest of Mayor Parujinog that led to his death is only the latest among high profile figures.
Now people are up in arms with the killing of Kian Lloyd De los Santos, the 17 year old who was accused as a drug runner. Seeing the reaction, the President said “Intel is intel. So, if there is no probative value, how can you use it in court and to the people? Those are just information gathered by the police and the military. It is an internal thing… Maya-maya mali iyan (it may even be wrong).” [from philstar.com Duterte: Police intel on Kian could be wrong]
Kill 1,000, I’ll Protect You
His reaction to the Kian case contradicts his famous July 2016 statement, “Do your duty, and if in the process you kill one thousand persons because you were doing your duty, I will protect you. And if they try to impeach me, I will hurry the process and we will go out of the service together” [from philstar.com: Duterte to PNP: Kill 1,000, I’ll protect you]
The inconsistencies in his statements, underline his combative stance against members of the judiciary. In his word war against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales he said, “I will not allow my men to go there to be investigated. Human Rights Commission, you address your request through me because the Armed Forces is under me and the police is under me. And for the Ombudsman to refrain from citing them in contempt for what? Because I have the authority to give the final say whether they will attend (an investigation) or not.” [from Inquirer.net : Ombudsman Morales tells Duterte: Anong Pakialam Niya?]
In summary, President Duterte’s Lieutenant (coined by Rappler) Pantaleon Alvarez is Speaker of the House, with Rodolfo Fariñas as head of a ‘supermajority’. The President has a combative stance against members of the Judiciary as enumerated above. And an organization that has admitted close ties with the President, the VACC, has filed impeachment cases against Chief Justice Sereno, COMELEC Chair Andy Bautista and previous to that a Senator in Leila De Lima who has had a long history of criticizing Duterte.
In a truly progressive, mature democracy, the more independent the branches of government (Executive, Judiciary and Legislative) are from each other, the stronger the system of checks and balances. They are there to counter as John Adams puts it ‘efforts in human nature toward tyranny.’
The COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS is one such sensitive agency of government that has to be completely independent of the pressures and powers of the president.
Even if he is impeached or if he resigns Andy Bautista will not be the biggest loser here, it is our country. He came from a more lucrative private practice to serve the people. He has taken more stress, criticism and flak than he ever would if he just stayed as a successful international corporate lawyer.
If President Duterte appoints his own COMELEC Chair it will further weaken the system of checks and balances that is supposed to be inherent to our democracy. The possible impeachment and or resignation of Atty. Andres Bautista is the latest threat to our already weakened democracy.
(not yet complete but will be updated)
Written and photographed
By Jude Bautista
The first time I met Soxie Topacio was a few years back in PETA (Philippine Educational Theater Association). He was directing HIMALA the Musical and was there for a rehearsal. Naturally he was barking directions left and right. But as soon as you start talking to him he had a ready smile was warm and accommodating. Although the only time he could spare for a brief interview was through a cigarette break. I told him I remembered his work in DUPLEX on TV and that made him smile.
When news broke last July 21, 2017 that Soxie Topacio had passed away from pneumonia and complications from lung cancer, I was genuinely shocked. I did not know that he was diagnosed with lung cancer as reported by PDI.
During PETA’s 50th Anniversary in April he was in high spirits, hosting, singing on stage, I couldn’t imagine him being sick. Although I did notice he was wearing a hat that did hide the loss of his silver hair.
But during Philstage’s GAWAD BUHAY awards in May, I did notice he was more frail. He seemed less energetic and didn’t even bother to wear a hat. That night was special because they were able to give a glowing tribute to the work of the consummate thespian, teacher, writer and director of stage, TV and film.
A lot of credit should be given to PHILSTAGE Pres. Audie Gemora and the jury for having the foresight of giving him the NATATANGING GAWAD BUHAY award (Lifetime Achievement award). PHILSTAGE is an association which counts the most prestigious theater productions, dance groups and companies among its members. The PHILSTAGE jury consists of Vlad Bunoan, Gibbs Cadiz, Glenn Mas, Elka Requinta, Jovy Zarate, Ralph Galan, Steve Villaruz, Martin Lopez, Chantal Primero, Romano Jorge, Tats Manahan, Ricky Toledo, Chito Vijandre Cora Llamas, Vincent Gregory Yu, Fred Hawson and Philip Cu-Unjieng.
PETA was then able to produce an admirable tribute for that segment of the awards show. A wonderful script written by Phil Noble encapsulated Soxie’s colorful career. Which was brought to life by Norbs Portales, a young actor of PETA whom he had mentored. Norbs channeled his inner Soxie and portrayed the famous character Nene from DUPLEX and IT’S A DEAL. Shows that were enumerated by INTERAKSYON and also his most recent TV work.
Nene or Neneng is the Filipino term for young girl, while Soxie at the time (80s) was an overweight gay man. So his TV name alone was comedy gold. Norbs used the flamboyant voice that made Soxie famous complete with replacing ‘s’ with th and z’s much like a homosexual Elmer Fudd from Looney Tunes.
We learned in such a casual, hilarious way how National Artist for film Lino Brocka was one of the people who helped Soxie break into TV and film. We learned how PETA founder Cecile Guidote-Alvarez inspired him and others to give of themselves and their art for the country.
We were laughing so hard that the message of his sacrifice and contributions went straight to our hearts. So it was really no surprise when the Ramon Magsaysay Awards considered as the Nobel Peace Prize of Asia, included among its awardees PETA- as an organization. The awardees were announced just this week, July 28. I don’t think it was a coincidence that Soxie Topacio passed away just over a week before.
God and man conspired to give Soxie a huge send off in recognition of his life and work. He would be so proud that PETA is honored in this way. He played no small part in that as member since 1969.
Included below is the tribute during the Gawad Buhay awards written by Phil Noble and co-written / performed by Norbs Portales as Nene (Soxie’s famous TV character). Immediately after the performance by Norbs he called Soxie on stage who sang ALAY NG LUMIKHA, one of the PETA anthems with playwright Rody Vera and a half dozen members.
Then also included below is Soxie’s acceptance speech where we learn from his own words his personal journey. He relates the experience of conducting (with other PETA members) acting workshops in war torn villages, victims and fighters for varying causes, even the urban poor. His speech puts everything into clear perspective. This is especially valid given Pres. Duterte’s most recent mindless, brash statement of ‘bombing Lumad schools’ as NPA sympathizers or hot bed of NPA recruitment. Soxie’s experiences in Cagayan De Oro and many other remote areas bring to light that they are themselves victims of violence.
Through his speech we find out exactly how and why PETA deserves the Ramon Magsaysay Award. Mother Soxie’s personal evolution and growth as teacher-artist is just one example of PETA’s mission.
Thank you to PHILSTAGE organizers of Gawad Buhay, Thank you Soxie Topacio, thank you and congratulations to PETA.
Read on enjoy, laugh, reflect and be inspired.
GAWAD BUHAY/PETA Tribute
Written by Phil Noble
Norbs Portales as Soxie in the role of Nene
Hoy! Saaay mooooh?
Diyan talaga ako na kilala ng buong Pilipinas. Bilang si Nene noong 80s sa DUPLEX. Oy ako lang naman ang baklang kapitbahay ni Ading Fernando, also known as Daddy Groovy. Pang Gulo! Chismosa!! Laging bisita wala akong bahaay. Ang saya.
Sa PETA talaga ako nagsimula. Fresh na fresh pa ko. Virgin na virgin. 17 years old ay ka tagal na yoon. Actually meron nagpakuha yung PETA meron daw event. Opening sa Paco park bibigyan ng award si Paul Dungol. Naku galit ako noon. Sabi ba naman ni Nonon Padilla, “Nasan na mga Putang Inang taga Araullo High School na yan?”
Aaay ayaw namin noon kami na inimbitahan kami pa yung minumura?
Pero ganoon talaga sa PETA murahan. Ayon we taped, we performed. Tapos nung nasa U.P. nako nakasalubong ko si Nonon Padilla. Eto nagmura sakin noon e.
Do you study here?
O yung minura mo dati! Ano?
If you have time and you want to audition go to the 4th floor.
Haaa? Na tense naman akooh! Na punta ako ng Fort Santiago. Na star struck ako kasi yung gaganap na artista kay Jose Rizal si Dindo Fernando! Si Josephine Bracken, si Rosemary Raj! Ha! Join akoh.
Since then I stayed. In one season ang dami kong ginawa: nag SM ako, nag Sound ako,
Nag Voice ako at nag artista ako. Lahat yan sabay sabay nakakaloka!
Ginagabi na kami, wala kaming sweldo. Humihingi lang ako ng pera sa Nanay at Tatay ko. Go!
Alam mo sunod sunod nakapag direk ako. Una ANG PIGING, 1973, at sunod sunod na. Mga memorable plays ko MAKLI-ING DULAG. Isipin niyo ha, sa opening scene pa lang sumisigaw na si Joel Lamangan, “Pumasok kayo! Pumasok kayo!”
Kaming mga audience Ha? Ha? Ha? Mga audience ka sali pala sa play!
Eto pa 1896 ang first true musical ng PETA. Pati si Ariel Rivera pina kanta ko!
MINSA’Y ISANG GAMO GAMO, first play ni Ate Guy. Pag pasok ba naman sa unang rehearsal, BOOM! Drop script na loka yung mga taga PETA di kinaya.
My friends in PETA sila talaga yung nagdala sakin sa mundo ng TV at pelikula.
Pano kamo e pag na busy sila, ENTER frame ako. Tumawag ang ABS ‘Yes hello busy po si direk Lino Brocka kayo lang po ang pwede pumalit sa kanya’. Tumawag ako kay Lino ano ito? Sabi naman ni Lino Brocka, “Oo lang ng oo tanggapin mo na.”
Sabi ko naman Ahh Ok sige. At nakapag sunod sunod na. Nakapag direk ako BABAE. Sunod sunod na sa TV kay Rosa Rosal, Tanghalan at nakapag direk na rin ako sa pelikula.
Favorite ko siyempre DED NA SI LOLO na Oscar hehehe.
Kasi I have friends who gave me opportunities. And that made me.
Alam niyo? Si Lino talaga ang dahilan kung pano ako naging Executive Director ng PETA. Pano kamo? Sabi niya, Hatiin natin ang organisasyon hindi pwedeng one man rule lang. So ako, si Gardy (Labad), si Nonon ako yung Executive Director so after 2 years tumawag ba naman sakin. Hello Soxie, busy ako ikaw na bahala sa PETA ha? Tawag ka na lang pag kelangan niyo ng pera.
Nakaka LOKA! Haaay! Haay! Hay!
Pero ma kwento ko sa inyo. Mula sa pagiging stand up comedian, sa pagiging artista at sa pagiging director sa stage, sa TV, sa pelikula alam niyo kung ano ang inspirasyon koh? Ay mga bata kami sinabi ni Cecile sa amin:
“You only live once! Yan ba ang kontribusyon mo sa bayang ito???”
TI-NA-MA-AN akooh! HENDE ko naman na Entindihan! Asan na ngayon si Mama?
Nag eskapo sa Amerika na iwan kami. Na wa kami lahat. Kelangan ko tuloy sa workshop e di workshop sa Cebu, sa Escalante, sa mga manggagawa. Naka salamuha sa lahat ng uri ng tao.
Ay doon ko lang na realize di pala pwedeng sarili lang. Hindi pwedeng ka eskwela lang, di pwedeng kapit bahay lang. DAPAT buooong bayaan?
Simula noon yon ang pinahahawakan ko sa LAHAT ng mga gawain ko.
Ang sining ko ay para sa BAYAN KO.
At yon, yon ang panata ko.
Ako si Soxie Topacio, magandang gabi na lang sa inyooh!
AT tinatawagan ang totoong Soxie Topacio si Soxie Topacio!
Soxie Topacio acceptance speech for the NATATANGING GAWAD BUHAY AWARD
Nais kong pa salamatan ang Philstage for giving me this award. Ang piliin ka ng kapwa mo Theater artist ay isang malaking karangalan para sa akin. Nais ko ring pa salamatan ang lahat naging kasapi ng PETA noon hanggang ngayon. Dahil kayo ang humubog sa aking pagkatao. Gayun din ang mga workshop participants ng PETA sa mga nagdaang maraming taon.
Bukod sa PETA nais kong pa salamatan ang mga ibang theater groups na naka trabaho ko. Tulad ng Gantimpala, U.P. Rep, Teatro Tomasino, Sining Kambayoka, U.E. Dramatic Club, Kulturang Atin Foundation at marami pang iba.
Noong sumali ako sa PETA ay 17 years old ako. That was the year 1969. Noong panahon na yon ang U.P. Campus ay punong puno ng mga kaganapan. Kabikabilang boycott, mass action, walk out. Eto ang tinaguriang First quarter storm.
At sa gitna ng lahat ng mga rally na ito ay na saan ako?
Sa loob ng sinehan.
Hindi ako naging interesado sa political events na nangyayari sa bayan. Kasi ang alam ko lang, ang iniikutan ng buhay ko ang pamilya ko. Pero nung sumali ako sa PETA nagbago ang takbo ng buhay ko.
Tuwing nagrerehearse kami o kaya may hindi na gustohan ni Cecille Guidote. Lagi niyang sasabihin. “You only live once. And for that one life what is your contribution to your country?”
Matagal kong inisip ang mga sinabi ni Cecile. It took many years for me to discover the answer to it. When Cecile left we lost a leader who knows everything. What play to put up, where to get the funds, when will be the next workshop? Mabuti na lang through the help of other PETA members we were able to revive the company.
AT mula noon na assign nako ng PETA sa iba’t ibang workshop sa probinsya. Kami ni Brenda ay nagworkshop sa Cagayan De Oro sa liblib na pook sa kabundukan. Halos lahat ng participants namin ay na matayan ng ama, kapatid at ina. Sa araw ng workshop kami nga lang ang tao.
Pero pag dumating ng dilim ang dami ng tao sa paligid. Nang tinanong ko kung saan sila galing, sabi ng organizer mga NPA sila. Ang mga anak at kapatid nila ang mga estudyante ninyo. Kaya pala ganoon ka bigat ang mga kwento nila, sa improvisation.
Sa Kalinga Apayao ang mga estyudante namin ay patuloy ipinaglalaban na hwag itayo ang Chico Dam na maglulubog sa kanilang ancestral homes.
Sa Ilo ilo na turuan kami ng mga mangingisda paano awitan ang mga isda para madali silang mahuli.
Sa Smokey Mountain di ko akalain ganoon katatapang ang mga bata. Grabe mag mura at marami pang ibang workshop. Sa workshop di man sila naging artista, pero na bigyan sila ng pamamaraan para maisawalat nila ang ka nilang mga loobin. Na isasadula nila nag kanilang mga hinaing.
Na isip ko ito ba ang kasagutan sa tanong ni Cecile? Ang tumulong ako sa mga taong na aapi? Para magka boses sila at I realized hindi lang sa workshop ko na kita ang layuning kong ito.
Kahit sa mga dulang na gawa ko ay na bigyan ko sila ng boses. Sa JOE HILL binigyan ko ng laya ng manggagawa at masabi kanilang hinaing. Sa MAKLI-ING DULAG pinakita ko ang paglalaban ng mga Kalinga. Sa MARIANG ALIW na ipakita ang sakit at sama ng loob ng mga prostitute. Sa NOLI AT FILI DEKADA 2000, pinakita namin ang walang habas na sakuna na dulot ng illegal logging. At marami pang iba.
Dito sa mga dulang ito at mga workshop na ginawa ko ay na kita ko ang aking misyon sa buhay. Isang buhay na iaaalay ko para sa bayan. Pati sa pagdarasal ko ay para sa PETA at sa mga kasama. Noon ko na realize di lang political ang misyon ko, spiritual din. Again Maraming Salamat.
Makisama ka, hindi ka star dito: Why Soxie Topacio was Mother Soxie to All by Totel De Jesus
Theater pillar Soxie Topacio, 65, passes away by Gibbs Cadiz and Totel De Jesus
SALAMAT, SOXIE | Remembering Soxie Topacio, artist and entertainer by Edwin Sallan
My Warmth, you inspire me.
Azumi (Hana Sugisaki) is the best illustrator in art class quietly working on a painting. Mean girls suddenly descended on her like birds of prey. They grabbed tubes of paint and started squeezing them on her palette. Out of desperation Azumi grabs the tray out of their hands.
Next scene her mother Futaba (Rie Miyazawa) gets a call from the principal, there’s trouble with Azumi. Futaba sees Azumi with paint all over her face and clothes. Principal says, “She claims she did it herself.” After another incident of bullying, Azumi retreats to her bed hiding under the covers. Futaba pulls the blanket, “Stand up for yourself! You have to face them.” In tears Azumi says, “ I’m inferior to everyone else. I’m not like you at all.” Futaba says in exasperation, “We’re no different you and me. Where do you think my strength comes from if not you?”
HER LOVE BOILS BATH WATER is just one of 20 titles in the 20th Eiga Sai Film Festival running in Shang Cineplex, Shangri La Plaza Mall from July 6 to 16, 2017. Tickets are at the cost effective rate of only P100 each. After the Shang Plaza Mall run screenings will continue at the U.P Film Center, CCP Little Theater and move on to Davao, Cebu, Baguio, Bacolod and Ilo-ilo until August 29, 2017. For exact schedules and updates log on to the official JFF | EIGASAI Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/eigasaiPH
HER LOVE… Writer Director Ryota Nakano was at the opening last July 6th at Shang Cineplex to grace the event and discuss details of the film with moviegoers and Pinoy filmmakers.
HER LOVE BOILS BATH WATER 湯を沸かすほどの熱い愛 has earned numerous prestigious awards: BEST PICTURE, BEST SCREENPLAY from 41st Hochi Awards, 26th Japanese Movie Critics Awards, and BEST ACTRESS (Rie Miyazawa) and BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS (Hana Sugisaki) from 40th Japan Academy Prize, to name a few.
This is one of the most touching stories of maternal love and sacrifice perfect for all ages. The strong familial bond is something that Filipino audiences can easily relate to. The rich Japanese culture, traditions are in full display especially when they go on a road trip seeing the most iconic landmarks such as Mount Fuji and eating deep sea crabs in the Northwest region.
Film star Rie Miyazawa plays Futaba Sachino who is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and has only a few months to live. Struggling to raise her teenage daughter Azumi, she decides to look for her estranged husband who abandoned them years before. In order to support the family Futaba reopens the old bathhouse in their property. Each character has his or her secret tragedy and pain. They learn that the only way to cope is to lean on each other as a family.
In the Philippines, just days before the opening of Eiga Sai, there was a news report of an infant left at the NAIA airport. The infant was found in the male restroom, but was otherwise healthy and unharmed. This is an indication of the reality that parents do abandon their children, in some cases even abuse and harm them. One can only imagine the experience of this child growing up, not knowing his birthparents. HER LOVE… allows us an intimate look into how a child who was abandoned struggles with identity and how this longing to know one’s parents is carried throughout life.
Rie Miyazawa is one of the most recognizable Japanese actresses and also the most awarded. She starred in last year’s Eiga Sai opening film PALE MOON where she played a middle-aged bank employee who has an affair with a college student. This time she is the strong-minded and independent Futaba. This is the strength of character that allows her to raise her daughter on her own even when her husband leaves her. She is very believable not because she seems emotionally invincible. In spite of her weak moments when she cries, she soldiers on and overcomes.
Rie excels in the little moments when she can’t help but be an affectionate person not just to her own family but to people in general. In one scene she pulls the chin hair of Private Investigator Takimoto (Tarō Suruga) and wipes the cheek of his adorable daughter Mayu. Her character immediately endears herself to the child.
Writer Director Nakano in an interview after the screening said, “She’s very professional. There’s a very strong persuasive element to her acting. That was the biggest thing I felt the persuasiveness, the power of her performance.” The dedication of Miyazawa is peerless. During the portions where her character takes a turn for the worse, there is a real physical transformation, “She really loses weight, and she becomes thinner. She goes into her role deeply.”
Luminary Young actors
Rising star Hana Sugisaki plays teenage daughter Azumi Sachino. Her role may be the most difficult in the film. Bullies in school bog her down and worse she also has to contend with the turmoil in her family. The way Sugisaki was able to portray the growth in her character in finding that inner strength to face these battles was excellent. The performance earned her 4 Best Supporting Actress nods (Hochi Film Awards, Japanese Academy Awards, Blue Ribbon, Japanese Critics) along with Best Newcomer (Japanese Academy Awards). Director Nakano admitted that he wanted to work with Sugisaki and had her in mind for the role.
The child actors are the unheralded thespians of the cast. Nakano admits that Japan is rich with young talent, which he discovered through auditions. Aoi Itō as 9 year old Ayuko Katase has the unenviable role of the new or younger daughter of absentee husband Kazuhiro Sachino played by Joe Odagiri. Ayuko can’t relate to her emotionally distant ‘father’ and has not seen her own mother for sometime. At such a young age she is able to act out the difficulties of trying to fit in with her ‘new’ family.
The role of Mayu at age 6, daughter of the Private Investigator Takimoto (Tarō Suruga), is un-credited in the official website. Which is unfortunate as she is one of the most adorable child actors in Asian cinema today.
Cuisine plays a huge role in this typically Japanese movie. Shabu-shabu in their household is only eaten on special occasions such as birthdays. This is the savory soup of veggies and strips of wagyu beef. They are added into the broth cooked in an open pot right on the table. Shabu shabu is also a means for Futaba to shower affection to her family and bring them together on the table. Their home is located just outside Tokyo in Ashikaga City where Shabu shabu is popular.
Futaba also brings her two daughters on a road trip to Toda Harbor in Shizuoka prefecture. This is where they see a picturesque sunset with the iconic figure of Mount Fuji looming in the horizon. This is one of the few places where they could taste deep-sea spider crabs that are easily thrice as big as the typical variety. The experience of the special meal is one of the happiest for the two kids.
Director Nakano intimated that he used some personal experiences to write the touching screenplay. He lost his father at age 6 and was raised by his mother. Some of the characters are based on real people. With this film he believes that by contemplating trials and making those who love us our family, we are able to see the true joys in our life.
JFF | EIGASAI 2017 is generously supported by Shangri-La Plaza, Shang Cineplex, UP Film Institute, Cultural Center of the Philippines, SM Supermalls, SM City Baguio, SM City Bacolod, Film Development Council of the Philippines, Japanese Association of Northern Luzon, Sa Lubong-Baguio, Cordillera Green Network, JT International (Philippines) Inc., Viva Communications Inc., Tagalized Movie Channel (TMC), Mitsubishi Corporation, Japan Airlines Co., Ltd., Akira, SumoSam and Richmonde Hotel Ortigas.