#LYSB and the Power of Metaphors

This article contains spoilers. I originally wrote this for the Silip Sine section in the UPLB Perspective Tomo  44, Issue 1. Check it out here.

Films in the mainstream world are one of the epitomes of popular culture. Taking the extra effort to step into analyzing the world of mainstream may show us a tad more sense and values that these films portray; it is a looking-glass on who the Filipino persona is.  Most of the time, such obra are taken for granted. And sometimes, we just have to take off our elitist goggles for once and appreciate the things unappreciated by the intellectual.

___________________________________________________________________________

“Walang imposible,” the film asserted. To its extent, LYSB reiterated our day-to-day millennial fantasies. More than its surface idea of the road trip adjoined a love story, LYSB is more than what its poster and trailer says about itself. It is, in a nutshell, a gem in the mainstream battlefield which had long consisted of profuse affair plots and the retelling of the privileges of the petty bourgeois man.

lysb-banner.jpg
Photo from ABS-CBN Star Cinema

The film, Love You to the Stars and Back, is a local romantic-comedy film which tells the story of Mika (portrayed by Julia Baretto) and Caloy (Joshua Garcia). The movie peered into the life of Mika as the runaway girl from home who sought to reach the peak of Mount Milagros where, she had earnestly believed, the aliens will take her away from Earth.

On another hand, Caloy, the Batangueño locale who was on his way to make amends and rekindle a relationship with his estranged father, happened to cross paths with the driving runaway who let him carpool along the province. Caloy also casually told Mika that he had leukemia thus he did not have much time to live long.

 

The metaphor of Mount Milagros

Preceding the movie’s timeline was the death of Mika’s mother whom she loved dearly. Evidently, she cannot accept the early death of her mother and instead pursued the peak of Mount Milagros which her mother told her that the aliens will take her away. Without a plan after the aliens’ hostage, Mika firmly held on to the idea of being with her mom after the aliens’ capture.

As the story progressed with tragedies clouded by his casual jokes, Caloy decided to also depart to the mountain after the tragedy of the rejection of his father. He rode along again with Mika, and said that he too, was prepared to go to the peak of the mountain.

Mount Milagros served as the end-all to Mika’s problems. While on the road, she learned the value of time and the thought of being adrift from home as the healing solutions: forgiveness. She learned to forgive her stepmother and father even before reaching the peak. And to note, it was not a development of Mika because of the company of the affectionate Caloy, it was her self-actualization. The film showed that an individual is as strong as herself such as Mika, who need not depend upon another person’s intimacy to develop, heal, and move on. It was neither time nor romance, she simply needed to get away and think things through, despite the rashness.

Mount Milagros is a metaphor to suicide. An assisted one at that – which they insistently believed the aliens as a euphemistic recipe to say that Mika, and Caloy, wanted to end it all – to end their lives.

As farfetched as it may sound, I asked myself if Mount Milagros really was the metaphor for suicide. After much debate, I realized that the characters were millennials, and the generation has been more than capable of feeling it all. And most especially, having an abundance of empathy.

 

The fruition of Mika

Mika was always the hopeful character. She decided on the night before their hike to the peak, that maybe they could do it tomorrow instead – she was not ready at all to reach the peak of Mount Milagros.

Caloy was passive, hopeless, and reckless; he thought that he had nothing to lose as himself, and only thought for the welfare of his family. Mika, being the once-reckless millennial, came into being after watching Caloy suffer the consequences of leukemia. At the brink of Caloy’s blood-spitting and vomiting on the last morning of their lives (aka the trip to the peak), she decided to call Caloy’s family while the young man heavily insisted to just let him die instead of his family worrying about him and selling all that they had, just to get him a bone marrow transplant in Manila; a 50 percent chance to survive and live a normal life.

Caloy had decided otherwise; he was not ready to take a risk for his family’s loss. But Mika did what she had thought she ought to.

Mika and Caloy are not lovers; they are empathic human beings capable of such a connected sensations. I could understand how much Mika knew the feeling of loss even at the moment of the trip; Caloy had cancer, and she knew the risk of getting involved with someone she knew she will lose too in the end just like her mother. She thought well that she should not invest too much on her newfound time bomb. Mika had mommy issues and Caloy had daddy issues. They felt the pain deeply cut.

As much as both have suffered because of family, they were never the indifferent kind. They were the millennials who taught us, their fellow millennials, that turning back is an option, and sometimes we just have to feel what another feels to think things through.

 

 

Adulting: a petty b. issue

Mika was devastated; for the actions she took may have saved a life, but adulting was such a bigger transition, and a painful one at that. Such actions that Mika had to, even at the cost of another millennial’s disproval, is an adulting issue. How capable and how rash one can be at the brink of extreme emotions, could we have easily decided, like Caloy, to just let ourselves be taken by aliens, an understatement to suicide? We often would ask ourselves, how this generation of the youth has come to be so bold; living their life to the fullest and YOLO-ing all day and night, unminding of the limitations our forefathers had to in their generation.

If democracy and freedom in this timeline gave us an option to be such a kind of millennial, then we must remember that our privileges should always be in check. One must remember that more than roadtrips, there are fellow millennials, if we call the age group as such, who do not experience such freedom and carelessness that cash could muster to afford.

These millenials cannot be found on traveling trips, mountain hiking, eloping episodes, or runaway cars. These millennials are in the heavily urbanized slums, fighting for their right to their shelter, instead of one who finds the time to look for a refuge away from her two-floor built house. These millennials are the sons and daughters of the farmers; who most likely in their age, did not pursue a college degree but pursued the call of the land where they were tied to and to their generations to come. These millennials are not shredding money from their parents; because they work that hard-earned money themselves for their parents in routinely, underpaid factories where they are treated as slaves twelve hours a day.

And if that was an underlying idea of a movie, a good laugh and entertainment would not hurt, but as Mika and Caloy with an abundance of empathy a generation they had, many hope that these empathy reach those who cannot afford to even watch a film. Come a day when millenials do not mean anymore the petty bourgeois to the elite young adult who had to lose oneself out of the many privileges they already had.

Advertisements

Bar Boys, 100 Tula Para Kay Stella, & Patay Na Si Hesus: A PPP Roundup Movie Review

Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino had just concluded last 22nd of April, and I’ve gotten the privilege to watch three of the festival’s films across cinemas during my spare time during the week. Here I present a quick review of those I’ve watched (most of which I’d try not to spoil the major parts, as much as I could).

Ratings are in five out of five’s. I set a totem – criteria I value most when reviewing something. Out of five, I will give either 0, 0.5, or a 1 point in each of these elements in my totem: character, story, cinematography, clout, and dialogue/human interest.

I operationalize clout as the ‘something’ that the film really wanted to intend me as a viewer and the call to action. Basically, clout answers whether the movie stated its objective clearly or not. This also defines if the film had a sharp edge.

And I operationalize dialogue/human interest as the merits of the story in its artful and written manner as a masterpiece. How it related, how it spoke, and why it needed to do such relating and speaking to the viewer.

Bar Boys

14955968_558071874382485_794136487151293124_n
Bar Boys (Photo from the film’s FB page)

The film is about the friendship of four young guys, Erik, Josh, Chris, and Torran, who face the struggles of law school.

Bar Boys takes on a light narrative of tackling what it takes to be in law school; moreover, of the characters’ ups and downs and a huge but deep sense of having no two characters alike seen over an idealistic, non-egoist friendship of male young adults.

When it comes to the four protagonists, each of their persona was well crafted to the barest minimum; the formula of a complete equilibrium. Erik as the less fortunate and poor student trying and thriving to survive a privileged man’s arena; Josh as the friend who failed law school but tried to keep up and still keep ties with the other three as he explores a different line of work; Chris being the rich, happy-go-lucky, and almost flawless character who got most great grades, and only had to struggle for romance and his father’s over-the-top pressures of insisting him to study abroad instead; and Torran the middle-class, cool frat boy, and masks to be really the flawless one in this character set – Torran also maintains the average and ideal male machismo. Each of them had flaws; some not enough, some too much – but in the end, those slope amounts are the real man’s reality.

The protagonists were beautifully likable. They’re not perfect, but they complement. What they shared was an ideal friendship – facing conflicts and fighting each other but still concluding with manly embraces at the end of the day. The characters’ identities were unique & relatable – even their socio-economic classes told the world that finances can’t stop one from pursuing his dreams of being a lawyer at the end of the day.

The story was light and beautifully predictable; it was a movie I had watched when I reaffirmed that cliche is not really always bad as long as it truly mirrors what life and situations we face. The movie engaged several issues such as hazing in fraternities and the significance of the law’s preciseness in saving thousands of workers’ lives. But in general, it talked about pursuing our own dreams, how the movie paralleled smoothly with law as our goal, whatever it is, in life. I can easily give this show a perfect 5 because it really deserves to be watched especially by the young Filipino adult, but I was looking for something else – flaws that might have broken its dreamlike decadence.

In technicalities,  cinematography was clean and simple; what I liked best was great transitions along with rare cinematic techniques which are seldom seen applied in popular movies nowadays. It was wonderfully crafted by eye and by ear. The movie did not have to struggle for it trying to be indie-looking despite its star-studded cast set. It stood its ground.

Despite its idealistic retelling of law school life, I tried to look for a bit of boldness as they were lawyers. I saw how that opportunity was taken away, but I came to realize that maybe it wasn’t what the movie really wanted to talk about. Everything just seemed safe; no politics, a few advocacies, and tried to keep it light in comedy and drama. I laughed, smiled, and frowned throughout – I guess it was more than a story, it was the tale of the bar boys. Bar Boys was more than a coming-of-age drama of four young males; it talked about the larger dreams we want in life and the sacrifices that come along with it.

Character – 1
Story – 1
Cinematography – 1
Clout – 0.5
Dialogue/Human Interest – 1

🎬 Rating: 4.5/5 🎬


100 Tula Para Kay Stella

maxresdefault.jpg
(Photo screencap from film’s YouTube trailer)

The film is about Fidel and Stella, two college students who are almost star-crossed lovers if only by their internal disbelief and boldness to pursue the romance in their perfect friendship. 100 Tula Para Kay Stella is an attempt to indie-fy the romantic comedy genre. The film follows the life of Fidel as he falls in love with band-frenzied vocalist Stella who talked large about her passions and pursuing it at the stake of her schooling.

Fidel, the protagonist poet who aspired to write a hundred poems as a confession of his love to Stella, is nearly flawless. If not for his speech defect and mommy issues, everything jived in well for the good-looking, well-built, and intelligent college INFP dude. As a matter of fact, he outgrew his flaws eventually after cultivating his singing talent (which cancels out the stuttering) and finding a mother figure through one of his professors.

On the other hand, Stella, the dream-infused relatable character, strives to pursue a career in her band and music, in exchange of academic delinquency. She struggles with using people (and boyfriends) in her life as tools and stepping stones. She is the exact opposite of what Fidel has had. Yet, the formula goes: almost perfect guy loves the indefinitely flawed rock star. Aside from Fidel and Stella, other characters were numerous, and in as much as they were a handful, they were also significant over the two lover-friends at certain, most of the time, plot points.

The story is simple: Stella is a kind but stubborn girl; Fidel falls for her kindness and adoration of Stella’s time-to-time encouragements to Fidel – that he shouldn’t care whether he stutters or not. Fidel falls for this. The film is lengthy, extending to Fidel transferring to a university in Manila, still taking Psychology for some reason. He would finish his poems after a long while, and finding tragedy when he finishes college and returns home.

Cinematography was not anything out of the ordinary. The indie styles of long shots are utilized and good medium close-ups were worth mentioning, which really put a good focus on facial expressions. Colors are nice and fit perfectly the chronological time frame of the film.

Sadly, the film’s overalls do not give justice to the title. The film told more than the poetry; Fidel wrote giveaway A-B-A-B rhyme-structured poems; he did not write poetry as was suggested by her Literature professor – that it should be something that inspires him.

He finds a lot of time to write a hundred poems which shifted between English and Filipino with only a stanza for each piece. Surely, a hundred poems just for Stella, his inspiration and love of his life? I thought about Fidel’s parents and friends and singing club, what didn’t inspire him other than her? I had yet to question the protagonist’s love-blindness and underestimation of what poetry’s capacities are.

The film is an impairment of the idea of writing poetry as something that is only a courtship tool and nothing else; this is where the movie got a bad message hay-wired yet again. The film could have put poetry in a better light; not just the mere idea of rhyming and words about love and everything about it.

Another thing to point out is that they are fluent in Kapampangan but they never used it. The use of the language is only used on one instance during an exchange of Fidel and his professor. It is an opportunity wasted again. Kampampangan poetry, the local’s culture, the Pampanga-Manila difference, ..etc, ; I could list more.

Overall, the film is a good laugh and smile. Although frustration it may be of wasted opportunities, the romance and heartbreaks catered to the popular at ways more than the realities of life.

Character – 0.5
Story – 0.5
Cinematography – 0.5
Clout – 0
Dialogue/Human Interest – 1

🎬 Rating: 2.5/5 🎬


Patay Na Si Hesus

patay-na-si-hesus-01.jpg
Patay Na Si Hesus (Photo grabbed from Pelikula Mania)

Patay Na Si Hesus is the pure fine gold of Filipino dark comedy.

The film tells the story of Iyay, the single mother of three who has come to know that his estranged husband Hesus has died. Hence, the title. She forces her three children to go with her to their father’s funeral – the whole film comprising of their road trip from Cebu to Dumaguete.

The three children are already adults – around their early to late 20s. Hubert is the eldest child among the three; he has down-syndrome, is flat-out lovable, loves to dance, and just loves everyone in the family. The middle child is Jude (for Judith Marie); she is a trans man and travels alongside her girlfriend’s daughter during the first half of the film. The youngest child is Jay; he is not the brightest bunso in the family and still didn’t have a job throughout. The three are in perfect imbalance if not for Iyay, their mother, treating their adult immaturity to a halt in the most bizzare and comical ways possible. Also, another character in the film is their adorable dog named Hudas.

The Cebu to Dumaguete trip from their mini-van to roro to mini-van again was simple; the script was just wonderfully muted to make way for jokes. Who knew that a story, a road trip, so simple could be the most appealing? It was a linear trip, but the stops and circumstances they had to face were just legendarily crazy.

No amount of reviewing can attest to how much the movie rains down every bit of dialogue and scene with a punchline. The whole film is a long, long comedy bar in a road trip. Even in perfect Cebuano, the film relates and delivers perfectly even to us Tagalog viewers. Every bout and spout would erupt the whole cinema in laughter; oftentimes with a tough love treatment of Iyay cursing her children because of their frantic ways.

Cinematography-wise, it is in perfect beauty and style. Bird’s eye shots of their minivan traversing Cebu roads unfamiliar to our eyes; close-ups competently vivid even inside the caravan; transitions perfectly in sync with punchlines of the jokes – it was perfect nonetheless and an eye-candy road trip beauty.

The film is an original in the Philippine new age of cinema. Comedies have lately been full of queer punchlines and insensitive slapstick; all which catered to mainstream and popular cultural insensitivity to many. But Patay Na Si Hesus is dark, and despite this darkness, its comedic refreshments are limited to punchlines without insult and affect to culture, race, or any tradition. It is a contemporary humor of day-to-day jokes and unexpected laughter throughout the world. This film told every attempt-comedies that not all films have to discriminate anything just so to be funny.

Problems the characters had to face were tragic; but the film did not trivialize those emotions, but instead, it utilized and showed how the characters managed to get through those conflicts that the normal human faces. A road trip. A dog. Or even losing people along the way. Problems, they may be. It was clear. The film wanted us to laugh and realize on our own.

I was reminded how the sporadic randomness and laughs the film brought is not really far from reality. As far as it may seem and as haphazard the punchlines and the circumstances may be, it is still not impossible in our daily stupidities as being humans.

Patay Na Si Hesus told everyone how family is basically our human roots and ties. Whatever they may be, blood-related or not, family is where we would cling and return to in some day and in some weird manners. We cannot escape family. And a perfect one is sometimes non-existent. But an imperfect and incompetent family – that’s one the film told me that it’s not that bad after all.

The characters erred, as most of us do, and will do in time. And the laughter reminded us that in the end, close ties and a smile in our faces would end all those problems we have to face.

Character – 1
Story – 1
Cinematography – 1
Clout – 1
Dialogue/Human Interest – 1

🎬 Rating: 5/5 🎬

A Mix-up Games Review Roundup: FFXV, Until Dawn, & Overwatch

These are the games that I have finished over the 1st quarter of 2017 on the PS4, along with a short review on the overall impact of the games.

Final Fantasy XV

CyvFAc4WgAA1EeO.jpg

Enroute to wed his fiancée Luna on a road trip with his best friends, Prince Noctis is advised by news reports that his homeland has been invaded and taken over under the false pretense of a peace treaty – and that he, his loved one and his father King Regis, have been slain at the hands of the enemy.

To gather the strength needed to uncover the truth and reclaim his homeland, Noctis and his loyal companions must overcome a series of challenges in a spectacular open world – that is filled with larger-than-life creatures, amazing wonders, diverse cultures and treacherous foes.

(FFXV website)

Final Fantasy XV  is a masterpiece, let me say that. Square Enix, the game’s publisher, has gone ways from the traditional FF setting. A taste of reality is engraved along this 50-hour (at least) open world game. I have personally never been attached to a game for as long as I remember. Usually, Final Fantasy games tackle issues on the person, may it be personhood (FFVII, FFIX), romance (FFVIII), father-son issues (FFX), sisterhood (FFXIII trilogy), etc. Well, this time, the fifteenth installment in the franchise had a specific focus – friendship. Sounds cheesy? But seriously, it did its part well.

Great battle system. Stunning graphics. Open world system. Perfect character development, except Luna. Need I say more? Most of those things, you can look up online. What really caught my heart was the photographs taken by Prompto, one of the four BFFs, which you skim through after a long day of exploring, that put that human side to the story and made it real. Despite the technology, the magic, the gods, the fantasy of it all. FFXV was human, to say.

What hindered me from giving this a perfect 5, was that the potential that it had cut short. FFXV had elements that sufficed the perfection, but it was imbalanced. The game was not consistent, as it had provided everything but not enough of a one or two. Additionally, there are occasional lags (worth mentioning the very long loading time) with the 30 fps video output that just sometimes messes up the open world beauty.

By far, this was the only game that had put me in tears. Emotional. This is a game that when I remember – the story, the soundtrack, and the times that I had played it on that lazy Christmas vacation? It just evokes the feeling of sadness and sentimentality all over.

If you’re looking for a feel-good game, a hack-and-slash, or a lazy-couch cinematic, it’s not for you. Final Fantasy XV, I assure you, had a narrative and a storytelling that feels more real than when you look at it wholly.

🎮 Rating: 4/5 🎮


Until Dawn

633495.jpg

Set in Western Canada, Until Dawn centers around a group of eight teenagers who decide to vacation for a night in a cabin on the fictional Blackwood Mountain, exactly one year after the disappearance of two girls, the twin sisters of a member of their group. Shortly after arriving, the gang find themselves under attack by a psychopath, and must attempt to survive until sunrise. Throughout the adventure, players alternate between all eight characters, making critical decisions as the story advances which drastically affects the game’s outcome, leading to hundreds of different scenarios.

(Videogamer.com)

This is the La La Land to all the horrors of horror. Until Dawn is a choice-based game, that just casually lets you kill your character (one of many) just because you chose not to jump hurriedly to climb the cliff. The infamous Butterfly Effect kind of game that had long evoked video games choice-type vogue since the dawn of Telltale Games.

The visuals are good, but the roughness of frame drops are unpleasant. But it was visually palatable, overall, and of the games I’ve played that had real person-character-human features. The gameplay is simple; it’s like  playing Uncharted without 90% of the controls, and no running.

Welp, don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the game during the first 3/4 of it. But when the plot drastically loses my interest over to the end of the game, it felt longer and longer and tiresome, hence, the story dragged. It’s one of those games that failed to sustain its beauty, one that you just wanted it to end, because it seemed or it looked better if it had ended there.

Still, the game was enjoyable and worth remembering despite its story flaws.

🎮 Rating: 3/5 🎮


Overwatch

overwatch.jpg

Overwatch is set sixty years into the future of a fictionalized Earth, thirty years after the resolution of the “Omnic Crisis”. Prior the Omnic Crisis, humanity had been in a golden age of prosperity and technology development. Humans developed robots with artificial intelligence called “Omnics”, which were produced worldwide in automated “omnium” facilities and put to use to achieve economic equality. The Omnic Crisis began when the omniums started producing a series of lethal, hostile robots, which turned against humankind. The United Nations quickly formed Overwatch, an international task force to combat the omnic threat and restore order.

Several allegations of wrongdoing and failures were leveled at Overwatch, leading to a public outcry against the organization and in-fighting between its members, prompting the UN to investigate the situation. During this, an explosion destroyed Overwatch’s headquarters in Switzerland, purportedly killing Morrison and Reyes among others. The UN passed the Petras Act, which dismantled Overwatch and forbade any Overwatch-type activity.

Overwatch is set some years after the Petras Act; without Overwatch, corporations have started to take over, fighting and terrorism have broken out in parts of the globe, and there are signs of a second Omnic Crisis occurring in Russia. Former members of Overwatch decide to reform Overwatch despite the Petras Act, recruiting old friends and gaining new allies in their fight.

(PlayOverwatch)

Basically above, this is the whole plot of Overwatch because the game does not have a campaign, story mode, single-player, etc. It’s pure multiplayer. Overwatch is a hero-based shooter, much like Team Fortress 2, but with Dota and League of Legends characters spin-offs.

Overwatch is just something that I did not regret buying. It’s one of those games that I imagined better if I had chosen to play it on PC instead, but playing it on big screen undeniably puts down those regrets.

The fact that there are updates ongoing from time to time, seasonal ranked games, new heroes once every half a year; this is worth it. Visuals are perfect need I say more, nonetheless for what it is trying to achieve. Gameplay is perfectly balanced. People are non-toxic and non-cancerous (most of the time). Although not all people would want to play a multiplayer FPS. I know a lot who are just not fan of some. I have been playing purely (as FPS) Call of Duty multiplayer before Overwatch but, this game happened.

Overwatch had the story to rely through its YouTube channel. Blizzard posts updates from time to time to track changes in the game.

Overwatch exists when you are bored from a dragging game. It would be a default, a game which does not end after 50 hours of open-world fun. I found myself craving to play Overwatch in the middle of the week at school, wishing that it was the weekend already.

You like feel-good games? Or are you afraid your console/PC is going stale because you still don’t have budget for the next great single-player game? Then Overwatch got your back, fam. It got mine.

🎮 Rating: 5/5 🎮

Parañaque: Vacations at home

With my remaining, and only, two-week vacation, I decided to pay tribute to the place I’ve ever been since birth: Parañaque City.

uTMRv0pAVvsSA
85 photos. A timelapse just from my window.

I snuck around downtown route which I’ve been to nearly everyday back in high school. I took a video on that trip and uploaded it on Youtube.

I shot these using an SJCAM4000.

Watch it here:

Yes, these high skies will always be home.

A Los Baños Daydream

A Los Baños Daydream

For more than three years studying in the University, I have come not to lose sight of the beauty that is LB, as we locals prefer to call it.
LB has always served as a second home to me, an escape from Manila’s ruthless traffic and building blockades.

There is this one place that I can say, in the last course of my academic life, that truly, the beauty was worth staying, even for more than four years. Look up, I always tell myself, for there will be no skyscrapers horizons but clear blue skies and lush green canopies.

 

20160401_163048
Snow falls in Freedom Park annually on March. Tis cotton though.

Times come when I just go to the Freedom Park and bask at its width. Watch kids, watch sports, watch cotton fall.

20160428_180922
SUNSET. View overlooking from the Main Library perimeters.

Around twice a week, we stay on the Main Library’s perimeter around 5 pm; part of it being the sight space of this large changing sea above us.

20160504_180136
AFTER CLASS. Just outside the College of DevCom.

And of course, I didn’t mind, it was dismissal.

20160405_110201
FIELDWORK. At the foot of Mt. Makiling going to Peak 2.

Oh. Have I forgot to mention that my lab classes required field work, weekly, where we go to these places with just a ride or hike or trek away?

Ah, LB. I’ll never lose my eyes on you.

Manila Train Rides

1.jpg
Separate occasions at Magallanes station (left) and Ortigas station (right).

What better relaxation there is than taking train rides, despite the bad rush proxemics, during weekends.

Waiting for a train and facing empty rails — there is just that lingering peace found elsewhere in that populated space.