I’ve been following 98B’s FB page for a while and I’ve been eyeing their Monthly Market over at Escolta. With 98B being an independent artist-run initiative, I could only imagine the selection of items being sold (or in this case, the concessionaires they’ve allowed to sell at their Market). I was expecting nothing less than interesting, and I’m glad I wasn’t disappointed.
Generation Gap is the wittiest thing that I could come up with right now regarding these two films that I’ve watched in today’s Cinemalaya lineup. On one hand you have the story of two married UP professors in their midlives dealing with their issues in Giancarlo Abrahan’s Dagitab, and on the other you have the the story of a teenager in crisis in Gino Santos’ #Y. Both however are stories of personal struggle, albeit on the different points in one’s life. One story ends with hope, and another ends tragically (Or did it? It will make you wonder, but I’m getting ahead of myself) – [SPOILER ALERT, by the way]
On Jose Altarejos’ Kasal (Directors Showcase):
And I’m back! Been finding a reason to blog again after the office shenanigans, and this looks like the perfect opportunity to do so!
The last time I attended Komikon was way back 2012, and I missed it a bit. Primarily, I think it was that I didn’t find enough motivation to go last year as compared to this year. This year, I was set on getting interesting titles: the Abangan Anthology, Manix’s 10th Kikomachine Book, Tabi Po in its full color glory, and Eliza Victoria’s Project 17 (which is technically not a comic, but since it was on sale, I thought of including it). Hence, I think I went to Komikon just to make Visprint rich, but I digress.
Another reason was to catch Arnold Arre’s Animation Short, Milkyboy. I haven’t seen any venues where this will be shown, and once the Komikon FB page announced that they’ll be showing Andong Agimat and Milkboy, I knew I had to come this year.
To put it simply: I loved it, and I’m glad I watched this first among this year’s entries.
- The action scenes are not exactly as flashy as say, Asiong Salonga. Probably Not too artsy as OTJ. It’s not overly stated. It’s grey and gritty, but it kept me on my toes. Even though it was just a very long chase sequence at the end. It was crawling. The music probably helped.
- I haven’t watched that much Joyce Bernal films, but I think she was allowed to be creative on this one with the handheld camera shots, the CCTV-like scenes, that Manila Day-to-Night shot transition, and it was fresh seeing things like those in an MMFF entry.
- Don’t get me started on the casting. It’s like they got the characters downright pat: Mylene Dizon as the wife, the casting of the Senator’s kids, even the Madam President character and her Busangot-ness and her generals – not your typical contrabida faces, but unmistakably sinister. Bela Padilla as the spunky reporter Myra Limchauco was a surprise, and I wouldn’t dismiss her again as another token Kapuso talent. Carla Humpries as the former Kidnap Victim turned diplomat was also a nice casting choice.
- But mehn, Pen Medina was it. Very generous with the cursing, and I loved it! Ang lutong mehn. He was very colloquial and very believable, like he’s some street-hardened thug you could run into when you’re walking down an alley in Manila.
- Alchris Galura. Even though he had a small role. That is all. (HAHAHAHAHA)
- Robin Padilla probably looks too fresh to be a seasoned Cop in his 50s (?) – it is a film loosely based on Panfilo Lacson’s life – but he did well with the action scenes and his acting is okay so I guess I could live with it
- Speaking of acting, everything was subdued. No overly dramatic and dragging iyakan scenes in here. Which is the best.
- There were subplots which helpfully peppered the Main story. Without these scenes, it would’ve been just a fugitive story and it would’ve been boring if they weren’t around. Myra Limchauco’s plot rounded everything up nicely in the end.
- It would’ve looked cool if they’ve gone with the whole typography treatment – especially with the Newspaper headline clip scenes, but that’s just me nitpicking
- The opening credits looked cool, even though it’s just letters
- It really makes me wonder how much of the story is really fictional. So was there a reporter that helped Sen.Lacson when he was hiding and knew the whole story? Whatever that was?
- If there’s a phrase that sums the movie for me, it’s this. Just Right. The right amount of acting. The right amount of action (and humor, yes there were light moments). The right amount of holding back when you could’ve gone wild with the drama and the action scenes. And everything just, works.
So I arrived at The Farm around noon of Tuesday. I even remembered being greeted “Hello” by a caucasian foreign guest together with the staff once I approached the reception desk. The reception area reminded me of Japanese houses with adjoined rooms and no doors, while the interiors made me recall Manila’s Coconut Palace, only Breezier as there weren’t really doors that separate one room from another. I was immediately attended to by the reception staff, and the shuttle service that was supposed to pick me up was calling to check where I was (I hope I didn’t keep them waiting). Fresh coconut juice served to me while the map of the resort and the day’s activities were explained. Afterwards, I was escorted to one of the Sulu Terraces, which will be my room for the next 2 nights. Ms. Lally, the receptionist that I met on the way to the resort, carried my bag through the tastefully landscaped walkway.
It was awfully quiet, which prompted me to ask her if I arrived in the middle of the Resort’s off-peak season. She said that the only way one can know if there were a lot of guests is when they start to arrive in droves in the reception area. After the guests disappear into their separate villas, you wouldn’t even know if there are guests in the first place since the place was so vast. Staying there for almost 3 days, I had to agree. The only time I would run into people was when I eat Breakfast and Afternoon Snacks.
The cheapest rooms in The Farm are the Sulu Terraces, and staying in one was like having your own treehouse. The bath is located downstairs, separate from the room, and has an adjoining meditation pavilion.
The room was spacious enough for two people, and since I was alone, it was roomy enough for me. It was air-conditioned, had an electric kettle and a hair blower (which I used and abused, it’s amazing how hair dryers do wonders for your hair!), bedroom slippers, your own safe, your own drinking water supply dispensed from a beehive looking glass container (very tasteful), and most importantly, a box of herbal tea and fruit basket. Now why are were the last two things important? Because you can get by dinnertime eating only this, and you wouldn’t have to spend for dinner, that is, if you’re keen on minimizing spending. And they also give every guest their own mini bayong where you can put your valuables in and carry it like a handbag, and the guest can take it home.
This is how the room looked like during the evening. Lighting really is a factor for interiors. I felt like I was staying in a posh hotel room.
Side story: I got really scared during the first night, because I started reading American Gods and someone in the story died and I started thinking about death and realized that I was really alone in the area, and nobody will know if ever something bad happened to me. Then there was a sudden sound, like someone was knocking or croaking but I didn’t see anyone by the window. The knocking sounds were then replaced by “tu-ku”, “tu-ku”. Fuck, that was the first time I heard a tuko in my life, and it was eerie. Every night it’ll do the same knocking sound followed by the tuku sound, so I got used to it.
The view from the door. Seems like I’m only person staying in the terraces for the day.
After arriving, my first urge was to inspect everything. Didn’t really take a picture of the bath, but I was impressed how clean and complete it was. No visible grimes. The toilet had a bidet, no need for the friendly Filipino tabo. There were bath towels, hand towels, bathrobes, cotton buds, cotton balls, and organic toiletries made from coconut oil, which the resort also produces. The shower had hot and cold water, and it was running perfectly.
Each Sulu Terrace has its own Meditation Pavilion like this one. The other Sulu terraces have larger meditation pavilions, but I figured that this was given to me since I was alone anyway. I wrote journal entries here for about an hour after exploring the place. Probably due to Typhoon Maring’s remnants, it got really windy and leaves and insects and water were being blown to my face, so I had to run upstairs and continue it.
So, it happened that The Farm was having a 50% off promo at their room rates if you avail of a second night from them, and I was looking for something to fill in the vacation time which was meant for something else. Next thing I know I was on my way to Lipa in a Bus, armed with a Google map printout, fearing that I’ll get lost in uncharted territory.
But let me backtrack a bit. I’ve seen The Farm quite a lot in Deal Grocer, and I got my eyes on it ever since I started wanting a muni-muni type of vacation: One of those days wherein you shut yourself off from the daily grind, from your facebook account, from everybody in your life, and you just spend the whole day in introspection, learning how to meditate, thinking about your plans and writing reflective journal entries. For me it seemed like the perfect quiet place to do just that, save for the price. It’s anything but cheap, and it’s notorious for being so. So when the deals came along, I wanted to grab it really bad. Unfortunately I missed a good deal, but snooping a bit, I found out that they had the promo I mentioned earlier.
It set me back a significant amount. I was spending 15,000 pesos for a 3D/2N stay, with free breakfast, taxes included (I didn’t know about the tax when I booked), just for myself in a local destination. People will probably berate me for spending so much, but what the hell. I’m not privy to add anymore additional expenses though, especially for transportation. I didn’t take the offer to have myself picked-up from Robinson’s Lipa, the mall nearest the toll exit, which would’ve cost me 600 for the trip. Reading blogs about the place, I inquired about their employee shuttle and they said it was okay for me to join.
Now the challenge was making it to A.Bonifacio St. in Lipa by the time the shuttle picks up employees at 11:30 in the afternoon. I’m actually glad Lipa was charted in Google maps, and I was able to plan how I’ll be able to get there. However, there was no information on the net regarding local rides: what route did the jeeps take, where the tricycles are going to pass. Fearing that I’ll be paying 100 pesos Tricycle rides, I considered walking around Lipa to get to A.Bonifacio st. from the Bus Stop. It seemed to be a feasible 20-minute walk based on the Google Map route, I can do just that even if I was carrying something heavy.
And so I ventured on my own to Lipa. Rode JAM liner from their Buendia terminal in Taft, for 124 pesos. I printed everything I can use, 2 routes that I can possibly take, and kept on glancing at it throughout the trip. (Thus the life of people who refuse to get Smartphones). The bus let off at Robinsons Lipa and I walked from there (after gathering up courage at a local McDonalds). It’s funny how a map really differs from reality. A map can’t tell you why certain roads are one way only, that Mataas na Kahoy st. is actually Lipa’s version of Manila’s Dangwa flower market, what area is the Bayan (commercial center) for a certain place, that there’s a freaking Cathedral and it’s not shown in the map as a landmark, how far one place really is from another and that the traffic can get really bad on certain roads. Nevertheless, a map can guide you on what direction you should go on walking to, and it was comforting that I was seeing the landmarks in the map as I walked through the streets of Lipa, and knowing right then and there that I was headed for the right direction. I really liked the experience of walking and discovering where the post office was, the Antique-looking house that sold Batangas Lomi, feeling the wind and the sun’s heat and how it makes up the slower pace of life in the area.
Finally, I reached A.Bonifacio after finding a convenience store to rest a bit, and walking for 30 mins. Now A. Bonifacio was a long strip of road, and I was looking for a Canteen named Wilnim’s as instructed in the email sent to me. I reached the end of A.Bonifacio and didn’t seen anything that had Wilnim’s on it. There was a canteen at the end of the road, and I just had to ask: “Miss, meron po bang Wilnim’s canteen dito?”
“Ay, wala po akong alam na ganun.” Patay. Shit! I was about to walked away in panic, and then I got to ask the correct question: “Meron po ba kayong napapansin na dumadaan dito na shuttle ng The Farm?” “Ay meron po. Lakad lang po kayo dun lampas ng green gate, dun nag-aabang yung mga tao.”
Whew. So Glad I asked that question.
I walked a bit but I wasn’t seeing anything that looked like a terminal, so I decided to go back to the canteen and just wait there. Luckily, a girl dressed in a White Uniform passed by. The Canteen attendant pointed out: “Ayun po! Sundan niyo po yung naka-puti, nag-tratrabaho po sa The Farm yun”. I ran after the girl, and introduced myself as a customer. I think that was important since she might’ve thought of me as some weirdo from out of nowhere. She asked me to walk with her to the pick-up spot, which was the Junkshop that I passed by somewhere in the middle of the street. Apparently, I wouldn’t see any Wilma’s canteen in the street, since it was closed by the new owner. I really wouldn’t have known.
The girls name was Lally and she was working at the reception desk. We chatted for a while while waiting for the shuttle, and got to talk about where she’s from, if she’s from the area and how she’s not used to the faster pace of life in Lipa compared to Puerto Princesa city. She was really nice, and I’m really thankful that she happened to pass by during that moment, and we got to talk. I guess it made me comfortable and secure enough to think that I’m really going to get to my destination, and it’s a sign of good things to come.
One of The Farm’s Service cars passed by before the shuttle did. Ms. Lally said that we would get to the farm faster if we rode that. And that is how I end up getting to The Farm in a service pick-up. I didn’t mind the fact. I’m just glad I was able to made it to The Farm virtually on my own, without the extra charge (And Nope, that’s not Ms. Lally at the back).