She’s Dating the Gangster. Tagalog movie review.

“Pagmamahal at hindi takot ang nagbibigay buhay.”

Galit si Kenneth (Daniel Padilla) sa ama niyang si Kenji (Richard Gomez) dahil akala niya hindi siya minahal nito, at naging malungkot ang buhay ng kanyang yumaong ina. Pero nagkukumahog siya ngayong papunta sa Legaspi at umaasang nakaligtas ito sa isang airplane crash. Kasama niya si Kelay (Kathryn Bernardo) na gusto ring dalhin si Kenji sa kanyang tiyahing si Athena (Dawn Zulueta) na malapit nang mamamatay. Habang nagbibiyahe ay ikinuwento ni Kelay kay Kenneth ang dakilang pag-ibig ni Kenji at Athena. Noong high school pa sila, pinilit ni Kenji (Daniel Padilla) si Athena (Kathryn Bernardo) na magkunwaring kasintahan nito upang pagselosin ang ex-girlfriend niyang si Athena Abigail (Sofia Andres). Hindi nila inakalang sa pagkukunwaring ito magsisimula ang isang tunay na pag-ibig. Subalit ano nga ba ang tunay na pag-ibig?

Check CBCP CINEMA rating here

Ang She’s Dating the Gangster ay halaw sa isang online nobelang isinulat ni Bianca B. Bernardino na inilathala sa Wattpad. Mahirap isapelikula ang isang nobela dahil madalas ay hindi maisalarawan ito. Sa #SDTG, napakaraming pagbabago ang ginawa ni Carmi Raymundo: mga katangian ng mga tauhan, balangkas ng kuwento, pati ang panahon, etc., at ang katapusan. Para itong pinaghalong Romeo and Juliet at The Fault in Our Stars pero hindi isang karaniwang romantic comedy ang She’s Dating the Gangster. Karaniwang sinasabi kapag naisapelikula ang isang nobela na mas mainam ang libro kaysa sa pelikula. Taliwas ang nangyari sa pelikulang ito. Naging makulay at katuwa-tuwa ang paglipat sa dekada 90 ng kwento, pati na rin ang pagsasalarawan nito at mga kasuotan. Kahit na halatang naka-wig si Bernardo ay magaling niyang naisakatuparan ang kanyang papel bilang Athena. Akma din at bagay kay Padilla ang pagiging gangster – na sa pelikula, maging sa nobela, ay nangangahulugang: “irritating, loud, and he’s not sweet! He’s weird, he smokes, he drinks, he goes clubbing on a weekday, and he fights and bullies a lot… He is very moody and a bit blunt.” Makatotohanan nilang naipamalas ang mundo ng mga kabataan sa panahong iyon, pati na ang mga problemang kinaharap nila. Dahil sa mahusay na pamamatnubay ni Cathy Garcia-Molina, nabalanse niya ang mga eksenang nakakatawa at nakakakilig sa mga eksenang ma-drama. May mga eksenang medyo pilit at masasabing imposibleng mangyari, pero dahil mahusay gumanap ang mga actor ay pwede na itong palampasin. Ipinakita din sa pelikula ang marilag na bulkang Mayon, isa sa Seven Wonders of Nature, at ang kagandahan ng karatig-pook. Nakatulong din ang angkop na musika ng dekada 90.

Natural ang pagrerebelde ng kabataan, pero sa kaso ni Kenji nadagdagan ito dahil sa kawalan ng pagmamahal ng mga magulang. Uhaw sa pagmamahal, handa siyang gawin ang lahat magkabalikan lang sila ni Abigail, kahit na pilitin si Athena na magkunwaring kasintahan niya. Naipakita ng direktor ang “adolescent angst” at ang paglalim ng pagiging magkaibigan at pagmamahalan ni Kenji at Athena na hindi kinasangkapan ang sex. Sa pelikula, pinatunayan din ni Athena ang katapangan hindi lang sa kanyang pamamuhay ng normal sa kabila ng malalang karamdaman, kundi ang magparaya para sa buhay ng iba. Isang anggulo ng pagmamahal ang malakas na isinisigaw ng pelikula – walang pag-ibig na walang sakripisyo. At ang pinaka-malaking sakripisyo ay ang kalimutan ang sarili para sa minamahal. Pero hindi kailangang mabuhay sa takot. Sapagkat sabi nga ni Athena: “Pagmamahal at hindi takot ang nagbibigay-buhay.” Naalala ko tuloy ang isang awitin ni Barry Manilow na nagsasabing: “Letting go is just another way to say I’ll always love you so.” Kay gandang makita sa pinilakang tabing na magagawa ng kabataan ang magmahal nang dakila at tapat, magparaya at magmalasakit, magpatawad at magpakatatag.

Sabi ng isang kabataang nakausap ko, “Parang hindi naman makatotohanan yung magpaparaya sila. Wala nang gumagawa ng ganun ngayon eh. Kapag in-love ka, siyempre gusto mo ikaw ang masaya, hindi ba?” Siguro, dahil bihirang makita ang pag-ibig na walang pag-iimbot sa telebisyon at pelikula, akala ng marami ay hindi totoo at imposible ito. Umabot na sa P130 M sa box office ang pelikula sa unang linggo pa lang. Hindi kaya pagpapatunay ito na maliban sa katanyagan ng mga nagsiganap, pinahahalagahan ng manonood ang panunumbalik ng genuine values sa pelikulang Pilipino?

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Noah – A movie review

“He speaks to you. You have to trust that he speaks in a way that you can understand.”

If you are expecting a peaceful, colourful, biblical story of your childhood, do not go see Noah, the 2014 movie.
Noah (Russell Crowe) is a good family man who is disturbed by dreams about the destruction of the world. He seeks his grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) who tells him that the Creator has chosen him for a special task. “He speaks to you. You have to trust that he speaks in a way that you can understand.” What he understood was man has become so wicked that the Creator wants to annihilate humanity and he has to save the innocent. He builds an ark, with his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly), his three sons Ham (Logan Lerman), Shem (Douglas Booth), Japheth (Leo McHugh Carroll), and adopted daughter Ila (Emma Watson). As the ark they are building nears its completion, with the help of the Watchers, heavenly beings doomed to the earth because of their disobedience, various animal species enter the ark. Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone) arrives with his followers demanding they be allowed on board. The rains come in torrents, and the flood waters rise with the animals and Noah’s family safe in the ark, but the drama does not end.

Check out CBCP CINEMA rating here

Noah is a biblical epic, but it is a dark, brooding opus typical of Darren Aronofsky (see Black Swan, etc.). Aronofsky combines good biblical research, masterful storytelling and effective CGIs: the miraculous forest, the animals coming in droves to the ark, the terrifying but majestic waters of the Flood! Cinematography is at times visually stunning. The actors do not disappoint either. Russell Crowe inhabits Noah’s skin and exhibits his versatility as a tender father, a driven hero, a villain fighting his own demons, and trying to fulfil his mission as he understood it. Jennifer Connelly complements Crowe with her presence and heart. Anthony Hopkins still manages to deliver a believable Methuselah. Emma Watson and the young actors adequately portray their roles. Aronofsky takes a story we all know and presents it in a language 21st century men and women can grasp. He has been accused of taking so much liberty with the Bible account. His critics forget that the story of the flood was passed on from one generation to another orally before it was ever written with all the embellishments at each retelling.

Aronofsky’s latest work is a Noah story for adults because it challenges you to think. The recurring flashback montage of creation confronts the viewer with the wickedness of humans. And this wickedness, this sin, is shown as the cause of all the sufferings in the world, personified by Tubal-cain and his army. Noah comes face to face with this evil reflected in his own heart. And yet he has been given the sacred trust to care for the earth and to serve the justice of the Creator. So focused was he on obeying this mission that he is willing to sacrifice not only himself but everything, including the love and lives of his family. Although God is never mentioned in the film (he is called Creator), he is present and involved in the lives of his people: he guides, provides for and saves them. Despairing of what he thought was a failed mission, Noah discovers the Creator as a God not only of justice but of mercy and second chances, of forgiveness and new beginnings.

The overtly environmentalist message is another criticism. But what is wrong about the reminder to “take only what we need”? Can we not see the rape of nature currently happening in this day and age? Are the extreme violence in the fight scenes and intense emotional confrontations in the movie alien to our reality? Or is it because we do not want to listen? We so bombard our ears, our eyes, our minds, our hearts with what we want that we cannot perceive the new life offered to us: peace, freedom, joy? Maybe, this is the flood story that we need to hear.

Would that Ila’s words to Noah resonate in the hearts of all: “He chose you for a reason. The choice was put in your hands for a reason.”

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Want to know the secret of getting the right man for you?

stjoseph

An image of St.Joseph at the reception of Don Bosco retreat house in Batulao.

As a teenager, I had the usual angst and fears, thrills and insecurities. There were crushes and suitors, and a lot of confusion. Not to mention ambitions, dreams and desires. I didn’t know what I really wanted to be or do with my life.

A very wise lady told me:

You want to know
the secret of ‘getting’
the best husband?
Pray to St. Joseph,
and ask him
to give you the man
who is truly
the right one for you.

It wasn’t really difficult taking her advise since we belonged to the parish of San Jose de Trozo (is that St Joseph of the Log in English?). We sang in the parish choir every Sunday, or at least once a week. Also, walking to school everyday, we would pass by the church to greet Jesus. Secretly, I started whispering to St. Joseph: “Give me the best husband, OK?”

Did it work?

You bet! He not only gave me a good husband. He gave me the Best. Ever!

Thank you, St. Joseph for being a constant companion in my youth, and for showing me what true love is – JESUS!

Happy Feast of St Joseph, everyone!

Have you received any graces through St. Joseph’s intercession? I’d love to hear them!

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Starting Over Again. A movie review.

Napanood mo na ba ang Starting Over Again? Heto po ang aking masasabi tungkol sa box-office hit na hanggang ngayon ay pinipilahan pa rin:

Ang Starting Over Again ay kwento ng bawat isa na nagmahal, nangarap, nagsikap, natakot, nagkamali, nasaktan, umasa, nagpatawad, nagbago, at muling nagmahal. Ipinapakita nito na kailangan ang pagpupunyagi upang maabot ang iyong mga pangarap at kadalasan hindi lang sakripisyo ang katapat nito.  Minsan itinatanong natin, “Magpapakatanga ba ako sa pag-ibig? Gagawin ko ba ang lahat, kahit isakripisyo ko ang sarili at prinsipyo, para sa mahal ko?”

Full review

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Choices, classes and the Snowpiercer. A movie review.

Global warming has reached its peak and the earth’s days are numbered. In July 2014 nations opt for a drastic solution: to use CW7, a chemical substance once sprayed into the atmosphere will halt global warming. The temperature falls but the consequences are disastrous. A real ice age exterminates all the inhabitants of the earth, burying the world in a tomb of ice and snow. It is now 2031 and the only surviving remnant of humanity is represented by the passengers of the Snowpiercer, a high-speed train that has been running around the world for 17 years, powered by a revolutionary and unstoppable energy that provides perpetual motion. The train is a microcosm of human society and is divided into classes. The poor are relegated by force in the last carriages, malnourished and abandoned, while the rich stay in the front cars, and live in luxury and comfort. To keep this balance is extremely delicate and unrest is brewing from the tail end. The movement is led by Gilliam (John Hurt), a former Wilford engineer, and his young right hand, Curtis (Chris Evans). Helping them are Tanya (Octavia Butler), whose son was forcibly taken away to the front car, Edgar (Jamie Bell), Curtis’ best friend, and Namgoong Minsun (Song Kang-ho) security expert who designed the locks on the train. Curtis plans to storm his way to the front car where the elusive Wilford (Ed Harris), inventor and holder of the power train, resides.

Full review

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Pedro Calungsod, a movie review

Pedro_Calungsod_Pedro Calungsod: Batang Martir is a biographical picture of the second Filipino saint who is put to death for his faith. Pedro Calungsod (Rocco Nacino), a young catechist, leaves his Visayan native soil to join Spanish Jesuit priest Fr. Diego de San Vitores (Christian Vasquez) for a mission to the Marianas Islands (Guam) in 1668. Trained as a catechist, Pedro assists Fr. Diego de San Vitores in baptizing the Chamorros, preaching the Good News of salvation amid doubts, paganism and disbelief. Together with other catechists and priests, the missionaries face the challenges and dangers of life in the missions, particularly the antagonism of the natives. Undaunted by setbacks and the death of their companions, Pedro and Fr. Diego continue their missionary work throughout the islands. In the end, both of them give up their lives for the sake of the Gospel.

Check out full review at CBCP CINEMA.

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When was the last time you told someone about Jesus?

jeep

Jeepneys are the most popular means of public transportation in the Philippines. They are known for their crowded seating and flamboyant decorations, which have become a ubiquitous symbol of Philippine culture and art. (cf. Wikipedia)

How often do you ask yourself the above question?

Do you, ever?

I must admit that even though this is supposed to be my job description, I somehow miss to make it as a daily intentioned and concrete choice.

This morning, I left the convent after Mass for a meeting, my mind focused on the agenda. I took a jeepney and sat beside a 5-year-old girl who was with her grandmother. We chatted and I asked if she’s been to Mass. She looked at me. Her face a question mark.

Hmm… How do I tell her what the Mass is? OK. “Do you know Jesus?” I asked.

The same look.

Oh dear! What shall I say?

I looked at her and her eyes seemed to say, “Tell me more, please!”

So I told her about Jesus and how he loves her. That he is God. That he lives in her and in everything. And that she can speak to him and he will listen. And that it is his birthday on Christmas, that is why we celebrate it. This made her smile, and I saw a front tooth missing.

I had to get off the jeep and take another one to my destination. I hugged the little girl goodbye and said a silent prayer that she’ll get to know Jesus more.

As I got on the second jeepney, a family greeted me and immediately started conversation. While we waited for other passengers I learned that the 9-year-old girl is the daughter of the couple and that the two boys are her cousins. They are on their way to a shopping mall because it’s her birthday. They’ll go to Mass later in the day.

The jeepney starts to move and the kids tell me their names. They all want to be chefs but have never tried boiling water or cooking anything. It’s amazing how friendly and how at ease they were telling their stories. We passed by their school and the 7-year-old boy says he can read.

“Have you read the Bible,” I asked? I remembered the Bible for Kids app I downloaded recently and showed it to them. Eagerly they read In the Beginning, aloud and in unison, with me coaching as they stumbled upon unfamiliar words, while we passed through the streets of Makati.

“This is really nice,” the boy said, thoroughly pleased with his reading. I encouraged them to read the Bible and to know more about God. Then I had to alight from the jeepney and proceed to our meeting place.

I had a fruitful and inspiring meeting, thanks Ms D, and also for the treat.

It is only now while I ponder about this day that I remembered what happened this morning and realized how replete with opportunities is daily life to witness to Jesus. He can use people who are preoccupied with other things (like me) to say a few words about him and share his Word even on a jeepney. It just shows he is the One in charge. Imagine what he can do if we were fully conscious and attentive to his will! Who knows what will happen to those kids? Let’s say a prayer for them, shall we?

St Francis is often quoted telling his friars, “Preach the Gospel everywhere and when necessary use words.”

Have you ever experienced witnessing to Jesus without you fully realizing what was happening?

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