Monthly Archives: August, 2016

August in Tokyo

Grabbed the opportunity to catch some of the films shown during EIGA SAI 2016/ Japanese Film Festival from August 17 to 20, 2016 at the UP Film Institute. I saw five out of the eleven films shown:

1. THE GREAT PASSAGE, about a geeky, awkward, introvert salesman who accepted a job in the dictionary department– a job that no young guns are interested in applying to– in the nick of time when he was about to be kicked out from the sales department. He was about to face the most challenging task of creating the most unique dictionary to be called The Great Passage that took more than a decade to finish. Note: This film changed the way I look at dictionaries: high respect for the people behind its creation. I never really thought about how dictionaries are made until I saw this film.

2. KEN AND KAZU, about two friends who were drug pushers, a story that is so timely in our country today. On the surface, it’s a story about the cause and effect of getting involved in one illegal activity to another. But if you dig deeper, this film also highlights the relationship between two friends, Ken and Kazu, the loyalty they have for each other until the very end.  Kazu already regarded himself as worthless because of a childhood trauma afflicted to him by his lunatic mother which he wasn’t able to recover from. But Ken proved to him that he’s wrong when their lives were put in a life or death situation.

3. THE LITTLE HOUSE and  4. PALE MOON, both tell the story of two women who lived in different periods of time, who secretly pursued happiness disregarding the laws and morals set by society.

These four films are unforgettable but my favorite would have to be, 5. AUGUST IN TOKYO, a story about two people, Natsuki and Natsuo, who do not know each other but living parallel lives, experiencing about the same time one misfortune to another, experiencing one heartache to another, and tragedies that seem to never end. But a brand new hope will touch their hearts when the two finally meet.

“August in Tokyo” made me cry in buckets. In fact almost all the people in the audience cheered for this movie because it made us cry in pain and smile before the story ends.

A trailer of “August in Tokyo.”


Thanks, grief.

Thanks, grief.

Thanks for making depression look like the buzzing little bully it always was. Depression is the tallest kid in the 4th grade, dinging rubber bands off the back of your head and feeling safe on the playground, knowing that no teacher is coming to help you.

But grief? Grief is Jason Statham holding that 4th grade bully’s head in a toilet and then fucking the teacher you’ve got a crush on in front of the class. Grief makes depression cower behind you and apologize for being such a dick.

If you spend 102 days completely focused on ONE thing you can achieve miracles. Make a film, write a novel, get MMA ripped, kick heroin, learn a language, travel around the world. Fall in love with someone. Get ’em to love you back.

But 102 days at the mercy of grief and loss feels like 102 years and you have shit to show for it. You will not be physically healthier. You will not feel “wiser.” You will not have “closure.” You will not have “perspective” or “resilience” or “a new sense of self.” You WILL have solid knowledge of fear, exhaustion and a new appreciation for the randomness and horror of the universe. And you’ll also realize that 102 days is nothing but a warm-up for things to come.


You will have been shown new levels of humanity and grace and intelligence by your family and friends. They will show up for you, physically and emotionally, in ways which make you take careful note, and say to yourself, “Make sure to try to do that for someone else someday.” Complete strangers will send you genuinely touching messages on Facebook and Twitter, or will somehow figure out your address to send you letters which you’ll keep and re-read ’cause you can’t believe how helpful they are. And, if you’re a parent? You’ll wish you were your kid’s age, because the way they embrace despair and joy are at a purer level that you’re going to have to reconnect with, to reach backwards through years of calcified cynicism and ironic detachment.

Lose your cool, and you’re saved.

Michelle McNamara got yanked off the planet and out of life 102 days ago. She left behind an amazing unfinished book, about a horrific series of murders that everyone — including the retired homicide detectives she worked with — was sure she’d solve. The Golden State Killer. She gave him that name, in an article for Los Angeles Magazine. She was going to figure out the real name behind it.

She left Alice, her 7 year-old daughter. But not before putting the best parts of her into Alice, like beautiful music burned onto a CD and sent out into the void on a spaceship.

And she left me. 102 days into this.

I was face-down and frozen for weeks. It’s 102 days later and I can confidently say I have reached a point where I’m crawling. Which, objectively, is an improvement. Maybe 102 days later I’ll be walking.

Any spare energy I’ve managed to summon since April 21st I’ve put toward finishing Michelle’s book. With a lot of help from some very amazing people. It will come out. I will let you know. It’s all her. We’re just taking what’s there and letting it tell us how to shape it. It’s amazing.

And I’m going to start telling jokes again soon. And writing. And acting in stuff and making things I like and working with friends on projects and do all the stuff I was always so privileged to get to do before the air caught fire around me and the sun died. It’s all I knew how to do before I met Michelle. I don’t know what else I’m supposed to do now without her.

And not because, “It’s what Michelle would have wanted me to do.” For me to even presume to know what Michelle would have wanted me to do is the height of arrogance on my part. That was one of the many reasons I so looked forward to growing old with her. Because she was always surprising me. Because I never knew what she’d think or what direction she’d go.

Okay, I’ll start being funny again soon. What other choice do I have? Reality is in a death spiral and we seem to be living in a cackling, looming nightmare-swamp. We’re all being dragged into a shadow-realm of doom by hateful lunatics who are determined to send our planet careening into oblivion.

Hey, there’s that smile I was missing!

~Patton Oswalt

Bilang Pilipino

Ang puno’t dulo ng krimen ay hindi drugs. Ito ay kahirapan, kawalan ng oportunidad sa trabaho, mga elected official at negosyante na corrupt, isama na natin yung dalawa sa 7 deadly sins: kasakiman at katamaran. Kasi quick money nga naman magbenta ng drugs.

Hangga’t maraming taong walang trabaho, hangga’t maraming corrupt, hindi mawawala ang krimen. Hindi drugs ang puno’t dulo ng krimen. It’s one of the effects of poverty.

Naalala ko tuloy yung quote na “Money is the root of all evil” which of course we all know is not true. Ngayon under the new administration the mantra is “(Illegal) drug is the root of all evil.”

I support you, President Duterte, with your aim to get rid of criminality. But killing alleged drug pushers and addicts still doesn’t make the world a better place kung marami pa ring mahihirap na patuloy pa rin kakapit sa patalim para mapunan kumakalam nilang tyan.

Magandang trabaho at edukasyon ang pagpuksa sa krimen. Hindi pagpatay sa mga pobreng Pilipino.

The Five Pillars of the Philippine Criminal Justice System (and my opinion about this picture entitled “The Curious Case of Human Rights Advocates”)


1. Law Enforcement Pillar

Composing of Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, National Police Commission, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines

2. Prosecution Pillar

Composing of the Department of Justice, Office of the Ombudsman, and the Public Attorney’s Office

3. Courts Pillar

Composing of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Court of Tax Appeals, and Sandiganbayan

4. Corrections Pillar

Composing of Bureau of Corrections, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Parole and Probation Administration, Board of Pardons and Parole

5. Community Pillar

Composing of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Commission on Human Rights, and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples


YOU. Citizens of the Philippines. Not just the Filipinos here but also abroad.

“The administration of the Criminal Justice System is not the exclusive responsibility of the police, prosecutors, judges, and corrections personnel. Without the active participation of the members of the community, the processes of the Criminal Justice System cannot work. The police rely on the citizens to report crimes and to assist them in the conduct of investigations. The prosecution and the judges depend upon citizens as witnesses in the prosecution of the offender. The corrections pillar also needs their support in their respective community-based corrections programs.” (J.R. Zuno, Community Involvement in the Prosecution of Crime)

Natutunan ko lang ang mga ito dahil sa mga human rights seminar and training that I attended and researching through Google.

Kaya nang nakita ko itong larawan na pinamagatang “The Curious Case of Human Rights Advocates” nakaramdam ako ng pagkabagabag. Siguro dahil may kaalaman na ako tungkol sa five pillars of criminal justice system.

Human rights advocates are not just the Commission on Human Rights or the NGOs. They do have a mandate or an aim to promote and protect the rights of every human being (yes, that includes the criminals), they’re there to help implement what is just and fair, to implement the law, to remind us always that we have institutions, organizations to run to in times of need. But at the end of the day, ALL OF US got responsibility in maintaining the law and order in our community. NOT JUST THEM. I can even remember one line of a song from High School Musical to emphasize this more: “WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.” I can also remember an Albert Einstein quote: “The world is a dangerous place to live. Not because of the people who are evil but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

We’re all in this together.

There’s another accusation that human rights advocates are protecting the rights of criminals instead of the victims? The offenders are victims too of their own wrongdoing.

Everyone has his/her own goodness. Walang tao na sa harapan at talikuran ay mabait. Ang kriminal sa kasuluk-sulukan ng buto nyan mabait yan. “In each human being, there is a soul and a beast. Sometimes in one person, there is more than one beast,” wika daw ni Victor Hugo. And because of hardships or circumstances a man is sometimes forced to commit something really bad or a crime. Kaya may alternative sa criminal justice na puro kulong lang sa taong na-convict ang alam na gawin. Ito yung restorative justice. Restorative justice is reaching out to the soul in each of us, the goal is healing, because ALL OF US can be an offender or human rights violator. You never know.

Paano nga pala yung mga nang rape at pumatay? Natutunan ko sa mga pinagdaanan kong human rights seminars and trainings lalo na noong baguhan pa ako (at hanggang ngayon tingin ko pa rin sa sarili ko ay baguhan dahil alam kong marami pa akong gusto pang matutunan) na kung guilty talaga dapat lang syang ipakulong at dapat syang magkaroon ng rehabilitasyon para magbago o bumalik sa dating katinuan para magkaroon uli ng silbi sa lipunan at matuto uli na mangarap at mabuhay nang puno ng pag-asa. At yung mga recalcitrant, yung mga ayaw na talaga magbago, ito yung mga dapat na ikulong.

Pero dahil sa kalagayan ng criminal justice system natin tingnan mo pa lang ang mga selda ay punong-puno ng mga bilanggo (ang tawag po namin sa kanila ay Persons Deprived of Liberty, not criminals), nagsisiksikan o congested (which is actually a violation of human rights), hindi ito nangyayari. At ang mahirap pa, kung naging matino ang taong nabilanggo at nakalaya, may kakaharapin syang mas matindi pang pagsubok: yung stigma o ang hindi pagtanggap ng komunidad sa isang ex-convict.



What I’ve been feeling these past several days…


Misconceptions about justice and imprisonment

Several days ago I saw this picture of an overcrowded jail that became viral in social media (saw this in a newspaper as well). One netizen said it is again a bad publicity for the Philippines. I say it’s not bad publicity, IT’S THE TRUTH. The picture of inmates sleeping on top of one another in a congested cell totally captured how rotten our criminal justice system is.

Seeing this reminded me of this forum that our office organized almost three years ago, “Human Rights and Restorative Justice,” which became my most favorite topic of all the topics that I’ve listened to, of all the topics or fora I’ve documented.

We invited Mr. Manuel Co, administrator of Parole and Probation Administration; Atty. Roy P. Valenzuela, legal service chief of Bureau of Jail Management and Penology; Dr. Rey Taniajura, chairman of National Prison Ministry; and Mr. Bernardo Itucal Jr., a former detainee, as resource persons. They all gladly accepted our invitation (almost free of charge). Mr. Manuel Co, I remember, was early for his speaking engagement with us and I was just glad I came to the venue early before he arrived.

And from my 54-page report of proceedings of the said forum, I will summarize them here as “Misconceptions about Justice and Imprisonment” and they are as follows:

Myth #1: When a person has offended the community or another person, justice is served when that person is punished by sending him to jail.

The Truth: Justice doesn’t just end by sending somebody to prison. Justice should end in peace. It should end in the restoration of people to the best conditions that they were before the conflict happened. Relationship has to be restored. And we need to be aware that not all accused who goes to prison are guilty of the crime.

Myth #2: Imprisonment can transform a criminal into a morally upright person.

The Truth: More often than not, because of the harsh and oppressive environment inside the jail, not to mention the slowness in our criminal justice system, criminals turned into something worse. Unless there is real rehabilitation and reform, positive change will never take place.

Myth #3: Imprisonment is the remedy to all crimes.

The Truth: We have to bear in mind that there are innocent people who were sent to jail and have become victims of the ugly system waiting for their trial for quite a long number of years. And we have to remember that not all crimes should be subjected to jail time. It should be selective. This is where restorative justice comes in.

According to Mr. Itucal, a former detainee (accused as a rebel and wrongly charged of a double murder and was given a double life sentence), this is what happens inside a prison:

a. Rehabilitation doesn’t exist. Overpopulation of inmates, torture and violence, illness, and deaths are its normal occurrences. Innocent inmates are oftentimes being forced to admit to the crime.

b. Inmates join gangs as a coping mechanism to the harshness and cruelty that surrounds them. Officials of a gang is composed of the commander (the highest position), the mayor, the sparrow, the tirador etc.

c. No one set of rules inside jails. If during daytime it is the jail personnel that controls and oversees the inmates, when the clock strikes 6pm where every gate is padlocked or closed for security, it is now the rules of the gangs that take over. This is where horrifying occurrences take place.

d. Rape and maltreatment of fellow inmates occur inside jails. Some inmates that are incarcerated for 30 years, for example, and have received no visitors become predators of new inmates, particularly the good-looking ones. And these new inmates are oftentimes treated as women.

e. Once imprisoned, the stigma or the label that you are a criminal (whether you commit it or not) will be automatically imprinted upon you. Guilty as charged.


Photo courtesy of The Telegraph News UK

Feeling is mutual

Senior employee on junior employees:  Wala akong nakikita sa kanila na papalit sa atin. Mga hilaw pa.

Junior employee on senior employees: Wala akong nakikita sa kanila na kakahangaan ko. Marami pang kailangang i-improve sa kanila.

Catapult by Counting Crows

This is my all-time favorite Counting Crows song from their second album, Recovering the Satellites (1996).  Happy birthday, Adam Duritz, who turned 52 yesterday.

Singlehood doesn’t mean we’re desperate and hungry for love

One day I reconnected with a guy who was my classmate from college and who is now married and who was so happy to find me in Facebook after he saw my comment to a post of a common friend of ours. I was happy reconnecting with him so we had a long chat in Facebook.  Then he asked for my number. I reluctantly gave it to him.

The following night, this guy made a wrong move when he texted me:  “Hi how’s your day?”

Awkward, instantly that’s what I felt. I wasn’t happy, it felt something was wrong in there. I felt like a guy receiving a sweet greeting from another guy.

I’ll cut the long story short, what happened was I told him exactly what I felt. I was frank because I was feeling uncomfortable. Because we were communicating through text messages, he turned defensive.  He said sorry that I got offended. He said he was just making friends with me because for a long time he looked for me in Facebook. He said I’ve changed. I said seventeen years after graduating from college it could really change a person. He said I’ve changed, and for whatever reason I have, he said  I was no longer the person that he had known back in college.  I didn’t reply anymore. What a girl to do? I unfriended him from my Facebook.  I really think I should have blocked him instead but that’s too late for me to do. Then I told what happened to our common friend from college, also a guy. This common friend initially laughed. He said isn’t it obvious that the other guy had interest in me which explain those mushy posts and hashtags like #theonethatgotaway.

But for God’s sake, he’s married!!! And even if he’s single, he’s not my type.

The key message here is that:  If you’re married, to greet a single lady with “Hi how’s your day?” under the pretense of “making friends” just felt so wrong. Personally, I wasn’t flattered. I felt insulted. I lose respect to that person.  When I consulted my younger brother about this, he said once I start replying with “I’m fine, how about you?” could trigger the start of cheating in marriage on the part of the guy. And I’d rather be free and not part of that silly game. I’d rather play with my dogs, they’re more fun and sincere.

I’m single. I’m taking my time. Always a hopeless romantic, I do wonder about falling in love again for the third time.  And as a single in my 30s, I do wonder about marriage.  I’m in my 30s and single, but that doesn’t mean I am desperate and hungry for love (I think the teenagers and the twentysomethings are more susceptible to this which admittedly something that I’ve experienced when I was younger particularly before I had boyfriends.) I have dogs, friends, family, work, household duties, hobbies, and God that remind me that, indeed, life has so much to offer. That there is so much to be thankful for. Sometimes, I wish that I was born a male so that no man would stare at me or something (and I wanna poke their eyes). I get that feeling sometimes.  And there are times that I think I’d rather be single for the rest of my life. Unless a right guy for me comes along (and the feeling is mutual).