Here comes history, Mr. Obama!

Now that the air is acrid with the stench from Bush's pisspot at the White House that leaks all the way to Wall Street, being here in America may be wrong timing for any migrant dreamer out to raise the stakes for better opportunities.

But it's also a thrill of a time to be in the midst of history in the making, hovering in the wings of change. (This, in a nutshell, is what
my opinion column says in today's issue of Sun.Star Cebu.)

Economic uncertainty, notwithstanding, it's great to witness America bracing to redeem itself from its excesses and the ignorance of its arrogance and prove what greatness it is capable of.

With hope and in honor of the next President of the United States of America, I echo what will resound a few days from now: "Yes, We Can!"

Here's a music video from the Black Eyed Peas and a host of celebrities supporting the candidacy of Barack Obama.


Priming up the Pinoy pen

If there's one thing we Pinoys can suck sweetly off the imperial toes of our American heritage, it’s how we’ve come to colonize the English language. Really, we've appropriated it in our tongues like second skin. Go listen to the chorus of Call Center agents, and agree.

Imagine the taste of sewer between gnashed teeth, therefore, when I eagerly got hold of The Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry (edited by J.D. McClatchy) more than a decade ago. Ethnocentric subjectivity be damned, but not only me believes the best of our wordsmiths can hold water with the world’s best.

What a wet blanket (a hanky is not enough) for my face hot with dismay to discover that the seemingly ample anthology featured poets from Vietnam, among others, but none from the Philippines!
Over the years, I guess many of our kabayan can only gaze green-eyed in envy at other Asian writers, particulary the Indians, whose inkwells have swept the shore of world literature with the sheer tidal wave of genius: Salman Rushdie, Rohinton Mistry, Vikram Seth, Anita Desai and her daughter Kiran, Arundhati Roy, Jhumpa Lahiri, etc. Oysters in their open palms, all that
Bookers and Pulitzers. So much so that I sometimes wish to shake hands even with a beggar in the streets of Mumbai.

A few weeks ago, another Indian made a splash as 33-year-old
Aravind Adiga’s debut novel The White Tiger clawed out the competition in this year's Man Booker Prize, which honors the best fiction written in English by an author from the UK, Ireland or the Commonwealth. Now, two Indians are again among the five candidates culled from a long list of 21 semi-finalists for the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize.

But, whoopee, two Filipinos also made it to the top five. Alfred Yuson's Music Child and Miguel Syjuco's Ilustrado (the Grand Prize for the Novel at this year's Palanca Awards) will slug it out with the works of Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi (India), Kavery Nambisan (India), and Yu Hua (China).

In last year's inaugural of Man Asian Literary Prize, the new Olympics for Asian literature in English, Jose Dalisay had the honor of hoisting the flag of Philippine writing with his entry Soledad’s Sister, but eventually bowed to Chinese writer Jiang Rong for his novel Wolf Totem. This time around, hope bobs up twice for the announcement of the winner next month.

Fingers crossed for Yuson and Syjuco, and all hands as well for Carlos Bulosan, Jose Garcia Villa, Nick Joaquin, Bienvinido Santos, NVM Gonzalez, F. Sionil Jose, Eric Gamalinda, Ninotchka Rosca, Jessica Hagedorn, Luisa Igloria, Rick Barot, Nick Carbo, etc. for rippling up the Filipino imagination around the globe. Mabuhi ang Pinoy!


Cinematic cornucopia of Asia-Pacific

Asian films, arguably the most dynamic in world cinema in terms of thematic variety and aesthetic daredeviltry, take the spotlight as CNN International picks the 10 all-time best films from Asia Pacific.

No less thrilling is the inclusion of the Filipino classic Himala directed by the late National Artist Ishmael Bernal, written by Ricardo Lee, and starring Nora Aunor.

Though local award-giving bodies in 1982 sidetracked Aunor's iconic turn for the Best Actress award in favor of her arch-rival Vilma Santos (who scored a grand slam for another Bernal movie, Relasyon), critics have been nearly unanimous in hindsight about an oversight. Aunor's portrayal as the faith healer Elsa has been considered as "transcendent... the greatest performance of all-time" in Philippine cinema. (Joel David, founding director of the University of the Philippines Film Institute, in his book The National Pastime: Contemporary Cinema)

I was in first year high school when I saw this film, and it sort of initiated me into a lifelong love affair with cinema. What a thrill, therefore, to see it still making ripples all over the world after more than two decades since it was shown.

Here's the report: "CNN's shortlist of ten films was drawn up by critics, industry insiders, stars (including Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai) and—most importantly—CNN viewers.

On 11 November 2008, at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, CNN viewers will honor one Asia Pacific film as the best of all time. The Asia Pacific Screen Awards, which celebrate the finest filmmaking in the region, will be held on Australia's Gold Coast at a glittering, star-studded ceremony. Now, you can help your favorite win the award by voting in our poll. You can decide who will win the award. Voting closes on Friday, 31 October."

In chronological order, here's CNN's cut of Asia Pacific's top 10:

* Seven Samurai
Akira Kurosawa, 1954, Japan

* Pather Panchali
Satyajit Ray, 1955, India

* Gallipoli
Peter Weir, 1981, Australia

* Himala
Ishmael Bernal, 1982, Philippines

* Chungking Express
Wong Kar-wai, 1994, China

* Gabbeh
Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 1996, Iran

* Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Ang Lee, 2000, China

* Spirited Away
Hayao Miyazaki, 2001, Japan

* Infernal Affairs
A. Wai-Keung, A.Siu-Fai, 2002, Hongkong/China

* Oldboy
Chan-wook Park, 2003, South Korea

So far, I have seen at least seven of CNN's top 10. But if it were up to me to honor the top 10 Asian films, here are my personal choices as ranked:

1) Pather Panchali, Aparajito, Apu Sansar (The Apu Trilogy) by Satyajit Ray, India

2) Ikiru (To Live) by Akira Kurosawa, Japan

3) Himala (Miracle) by Ishmael Bernal, Philippines

4) Tokyo Monogatari (Tokyo Story) by Yasujiro Ozu, Japan

5) Bom Yeoreum Gaeul Gyeoul Geurigo Bom (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring) by Kim Ki-duk, Korea

6) Suna No Onna (Woman in the Dunes) by Hiroshi Teshigahara, Japan

7) Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (Three Years Without God) by Mario O’ Hara, Philippines

8) Narayama Bushiko (The Ballad of Narayama) by Shohie Inamura, Japan

9) Hangul (Oldboy) by Chan-wook Park, Korea

10) Ying Xiong (Hero) by Zhang Yimou, China


Ato ni, bay!

More than once in a blue moon, a Cebuano book, particularly a collection of Bisdak poems, comes like comet. Panagsa ra gyod kaayo. And how it blazes over the benighted state of Cebuano publishing!

Indeed, the launching of my friend Adonis Durado's debut book, Dili Tanang Matagak Mahagbong, tomorrow calls for celebration. The event, which also features a visual arts exhibit by my friends Radel Paredes and Josua Cabrera, is a homecoming of sorts for Donz who's now based in Bangkok, Thailand as a graphic designer.

The book is long overdue, and should be a beacon of inspiration both for old and young writers in Cebu who, againts the current, continue "to endure burning to give light" to Cebuano literature.

Tagay, bay!

Really, the rich are not like you and me.

Talk about attitude, and this man has got gazillions of it. Warren Buffet, the world's richest man in the list of Forbes magazine, thinks the current nerve-wracking state of world economy is his oyster.

Putting his money where his mouth is, and while others investors are hanging their tongues between their legs, Buffet shows he got oodles of balls as well as he reportedly buys US stocks despite the down-the-drain state of American economy.

Hear what the honcho of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. conglomerate wrote in the New York Times: "The financial world is a mess, both in the United States and abroad. Its problems, moreover, have been leaking into the general economy, and the leaks are now turning into a gusher...In the near term, unemployment will rise, business activity will falter and headlines will continue to be scary."

But Buffet, whose fortune is as famous as his frugality, personifies what Atilla the Hun and Pollyana would have spawned if their paths had crossed. Cold-blooded optimism, that's what Buffet exudes with his ruthless maxim: "Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful."

Words like boulders over your head, huh? If that's too outsize for your pocket, here's a thought of the day in the latest issue of Forbes magazine, a quote from a certain Christopher Morley: "Big shots are only little shots who keep shooting."


Que Sierra, Sierra!

Into each life, a mountain must rise. That may help explain the reason why, out of the blue, I suddenly turn green. With an ID as evidence of ecological advocacy somewhere in my trash-filled wallet, no kidding.

And so it's enough to raise your eyebrow, too, when I counted myself in as a member of an organization that wear its green heart on sleeves rolled for moving no less than mountains. Like trying to change a bit of the world. Ho-hum, you'd say.

But hand to my heart, I swear my membership in
Sierra Club, cited as "America's Most Effective Enviromental Organization," is something I intend to go beyond merely a passing fancy. Don't look down on me now, but--who knows--this closet mountaineer might yet soon go beyond relishing long solitary walks and would finally have the chance to kick myself into joining a trek up, up, and away into the wilds?

It doesn't hurt either to receive the official Sierra Club 1892 Rucksack, similar to the ones used during the time of John Muir by the club's supporters during their exploration hikes over a hundred years ago.

Neither would it bruise what little remains of my scab-studded conscience to lift even a fingernail for something larger than one's self. Environmental issues, stuffs like that. Plus, I get also get the chance to do my share of sticking my thumb down at the face of Dubya Bush whose policies the Sierra Club and I share in loathing. So there goes the rub.

For whatever it's worth, here's some words by Muir: "This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls."

And then I begin, again...

So here comes another season for shedding off old skin into this cyberspace coil. This cycle of blogging. This one more leap into yet another corner of the Web. Here, this turning of new leaf and this letting go from the virtual nest of old branches, smack into my favorite time of year.

Ah, Autumn! When trees have colors to tell about changes in its free-fall down to death --and never mind the portents of gray in the forthcoming winter--until the flourishes of rebirth at Springtime. Soon, pretty soon.

Pastilan baya! Stop this somnambulist, please, from sleepwriting what could have been a welcome greeting. You know, this is just to say, "Hello!"