I *won’t* see you on #GoodFriday…

That gosh darn gummint overreach impinging on religious freedoms, I tell you…

Crucifixion site on lockdown to block penitents

Ruben Enaje, 59, a house and billboard painter, regularly took on the role of Jesus Christ in “Via Crucis” (Way of the Cross), the play staged on the streets of Cutud.

But local officials have asked Enaje and other penitents to drop the crucifixion rites after President Duterte ordered a stop to the gathering of people in big numbers to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Enaje said he would just carry a 37-kilogram wooden cross from his house to the hill on Good Friday.

This would’ve been Ruben’s 34th time doing this. So hey, if he can adjust to social distancing, YOU can adjust to social distancing.

Happy Good Friday anyway…

People are people so why should it be…

Before anyone goes all “Stereotypes!” on me, let me say that yeah, it is a little different when a group points out things about its own members than when an outsider does it. And yes, it can still be problematic in those instances (though I’m not saying anything below is or isn’t). And I’m not implying any joke stealing in either direction.

I’m just saying here’s another example of how people can be more alike than different that works on multiple levels that one can examine at their leisure.

Isn’t This How Imelda Got Started?

I had a wardrobe malfunction at Boskone. I’d worn down my faithful 2+ year old pair of Doc Martens flat, and I’d discovered they’d finally split on both feet. And boy was I pissed about it. Not so much because of the shoes, but because I’d decided against my better judgement that I didn’t need to lug two pairs of shoes with me for a two day trip, and that lace-up Docs (which had become part of my de facto convention “uniform”) was the way to go to a con in Boston in February.

The day after I got back, I went to my local shoe store for another pair of Docs and a second pair of something. And then I saw these…

I knew nothing about Blundstone boots or their history. They looked nice and so I tried on a pair of #500s (the ones in the middle). They were amazingly comfortable, and so I walked out of the store actually wearing them. I did buy the Docs and broke them in over a couple of days. But I kept going back to the “Blunnies,” as they’re called. And when I realized that I’d worn them exclusively for at least 5 out of the next 8 days, the only logical solution was to go back for a second pair.

My choices were between the black #063 (the top shoe) and the rustic brown #585 (on the bottom). I tried them both and they were just as comfortable at the #500s. And of course, having “mark” written all over my face, I get offered a discount for buying both “today only,” a deal which I would “never find anywhere else” (and with cursory research on the interwebs, I kinda believe it). So I did.

The #063s are still in the box for now, as my “dress” shoes, which of course means I’m tempted to get a nice, comfy pair of #587s.

At this point you’re asking yourself if I’ve now resorted to shoe reviews on my blog. No, the point of this screed is to take a moment to stop myself and ask, “What the fuck are you doing, man?”

I mean, never mind the exorbitant costs of buying four pairs in a week. Yes, this is sort of a positive — I don’t foresee actually needing a pair of shoes for at least the next five years. But getting #587s when I have a new pair of Docs? See, at this point I have to reckon with the horrible realization that this must be pretty much how Imelda Marcos got started. And lest you think her legendary shoe obsession was merely just a symptom of government corruption run amok, let me assure you that my mother’s collection, which filled up closets no larger than any you’d find in a 3 bedroom house in suburban Cleveland, was no slouch. It must be a predisposition in the genetic makeup of my peoples. And now I’ve become its latest victim.

Also, have I finally reached the age where I’m just done with laces?

I think I need to find a group, or something. That’s within walking distance. Because, fuck, these Blundstones are comfortable…

For Belgium, the Philippines, and a Better Job…

Time for my Good Friday ritual… showcasing the land of my ancestors!

Ruben Enaje has done this for the 30th year in a row now. This was the guy who lamented a bit having to do this last year (his 29th) for lack of a successor. But now, he’s doing this for Belgium. And, because he’s Filipino (and you know how we are), he has other reasons…

Enaje, a sign painter, says he also prayed for peaceful Philippine presidential elections this year and a better job.

Mabuhay ng Pilipinas, muh’fuckers!

(via)

Quickie Review: HENERAL LUNA (2015)

I don’t know enough about the history to have a good picture of what the real Antonio Luna was like. I do know that the Luna depicted in the film is every hard-ass Filipino I’ve ever known from the generation before mine. Jovial one minute, borderline abusive the next, before going right back to jovial. I suppose in a lot of ways, HENERAL LUNA is more about the Filipino mindset in general, with the way it portrays the good, bad, and ugly of just about every Filipino peccadillo I’ve ever known. Take “the ties that bind” for instance, and all the ways that loyalty to family, the barangay, the province interfered with things like nation-building. “It’s easier for the earth to meet the sky,” Luna says in the film, “than for two Filipinos to agree on anything!”

Really though, it’s pretty even-handed and definitely far from self-hating, from the way we romanticize memories of home and hearth, to the way a loving mother starts a conversation with her grown son with a smack to the mouth, to the universal Filipino response to someone with a competing interest, no matter how compelling: “Who do you think you are?”

The dramatis personae is huge and the film did its best to keep the characters straight, and to highlight and summarize historical events with small text blocks, almost like a graphic novel. But I think its still struggled with its scope. Still, HENERAL LUNA’S strength is in its depiction of the people. You may not like everyone in the film, but it’s very possible to feel sympathy for all of them. Well, except for maybe Emilio Aguinaldo — but then, that’s always been the case with ol’ Magdalo.

World Fantasy Convention 2015; Borgesian Philippines; What I’m Reading

WORLD FANTASY CONVENTION 2015. Took a hop northeast from Ithaca to Saratoga Springs last weekend, despite the Piss Poor Harassment Policy kerfuffle. Managed to not only keep my running streak of being on WFC programming (3 for 3), but I actually appeared on two panels: “Real World Nomenclature, Taboos, and Cultural Meaning” (There’s a pretty good summary here.) and “Bibliofantasies.” Or, as I call it, “Bibliofantasies 2: Electric Bugaloo” since I was also on a panel of the same name at WFC 2012. After all, how the fuck else I could I sit on a panel with Michael Dirda, John Clute, Robert Eldridge, Paul Di Filippo, and Gary Wolfe? The socializing, always the best part of any con, was more targeted now that I’ve been at enough of these things not to fanboy over everybody in the room, and to instead spend the time with people – old and new friends – that I want to spend time with. Okay fine, I finally got to meet Jeffrey Ford and squee about what a big fan I am. Happy?

Not a hoax. Not a dream sequence.

BORGESIAN PHILIPPINES. Missed a talk by Gina Apostol, author of the upcoming novel William McKinley’s World on the Philippine-American War. In it, she makes the disturbing observation about how hard it was to find first-person Filipino voices in records of the period, and where she did find it “…occurring mainly in captured documents within military records, the Filipino voice being a text within a text, mediated, annotated, and translated by her enemy.” There’s a bittersweet Romantic tragedy about how this mediated story of the Philippines casts it as a place that’s as fantastic as Borges’ Tlön. This is relevant to a project in progress….

WHAT I’M READING. My personally inscribed copy of Mary Rickert’s collection You Have Never Been Here, worth the cover price for the single previously unpublished story “The Shipbuilder.” Pieces of The Best American Travel Writing 2015 edited by Andrew McCarthy, for another project in progress, Laszlo Bock’s Work Rules!, and when I can, Felicia Day’s You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost). Yes, that’s an awful lot of nonfiction, I know. What’s your point?

Currently Reading, Backyard Fracking, and Filipino Rondalla

CURRENTLY READING: All of my reading lately has been on the non-fiction tip. The last fiction I’ve read was a slog of a collection that I haven’t finished yet. (It has some incredible craftsmanship, but damn if most of the stories just don’t do it for me.) Anyway, what HAVE I been reading? I’ve made it into the Dark Horse years of AMERICAN SPLENDOR. I’m about halfway through NOTHIN’ BUT BLUE SKIES: THE HEYDAY, HARD TIMES, AND HOPES OF AMERICA’S INDUSTRIAL HEARTLAND by Eric McClelland which I discovered while perusing BELT MAGAZINE’s website. And lest you think I’m just now jumping on the whole “Rust Belt Chic” bandwagon, I’ll just say that I grew up during most of the stuff in Chapter 4 of BLUE SKIES (i.e. the Cleveland chapter). It’s been enlightening nonetheless to look at the historical context of my early life.  And, I just picked up BIOPUNK: SOLVING BIOTECH’S BIGGEST PROBLEMS IN KITCHENS AND GARAGES the other day at a bookstore discount table for $4, because there just has to be a story in here somewhere.

BACKYARD FRACKING: Something I forgot to mention when I wrote up having seen the short documentary BACKYARD at FLEFF. During the Q&A with the filmmaker, someone asked if she attempted to get any comments from the fracking industry. She says she did, and that it was rather easy to. She was granted tours through various rigs — sans her camera crew — and interviewed workers who apparently only had the same pro-fracking talking points. She reported being unable to find anyone with a unique pro-fracking story, which she attributes to the industry’s powerful propaganda machine. Power that was corroborated by an audience member with an account of the presence of energy companies in the independent film business and festival circuit. Know thy enemy and co-opt. Basic, really.

FILIPINO RONDALLA: Of course they’d have a Filipino Rondalla group at the Ivy League for which I work. To paraphrase the motto, “Any person, any extracurricular activity,” apparently. It brought back some childhood memories of my first visit to the Philippines when I was about four. I remember a candle dance and a tinikling demo, just like what I saw at the group’s concert last Saturday. That said, I have to acknowledge that this student display of Filipino culture–the culture of my parents–isn’t the culture of everyone in the Philippines. I fear for the non-Filipino audience members who may have left feeling armed with a proper overview of “Filipino culture”, and then trying to share this knowledge with, say, someone from the Visayas or Mindanao. They may not be received well.  After all, Filipinos have stabbed people for far less….

Next time, I’ll probably talk about the lung pox I’m fighting.

It’s a Good Good Friday!

Mabuhay ng Pilipinas, motherfuckers! It’s that of year again for my personal Good Friday observance.  First, the obligatory theme song. Listen as you read on. [ETA: forgot the bloody video.]

This year gives us not one, but TWO stories from my motherland.  First, a sad note…

Good Friday: Philippines Bans Tourists from Participating in ‘Realistic’ Crucifixion, Says it’s not ‘Circus’

Earlier, the only requirement to participate in the annual crucifixion rites in Philippines was that the person needed to be a Catholic. However, this year only local Filipinos can participate.
Harvey Quiwa, chairperson of the committee in charge of the 2015 Holy Week rites, announced the ban stating that this year all efforts will be made to ensure that the Lenten rites do “not become a circus.”
Well, that really fucks up my plans.

Then again, my plans haven’t been fucked up like our good friend Ruben’s…

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines—Still without a successor, signboard maker Ruben Enaje has been obliged to extend his real-life crucifixion act for another year, making the Good Friday reenactment in Barangay San Pedro Cutud in this Pampanga capital on April 3 his 29th year so far

Enaje said he was hoping that the council finds an appropriate replacement for him soon because his aging body can not bear further pain.

Enaje really wants out, though…

“The spots on my hands and feet that are pierced yearly get healed in six months but the pain on my right shoulder where I carry a big wooden cross persists year round,” he said.

We all have our crosses to bear, but damn.

Quickie Review: ILO ILO (2013)

A screening of this Canne Caméra d’Or-winning film was hosted by the dayjob and I went, having prepared myself to go all Hooper from Chasing Amy during the Skype Q&A with Singaporean director Anthony Chen. But this film about a Hong Kong family who takes on a Filipina maid during the Asian financial meltdown of 1997 thankfully wasn’t rage inducing.

During the Q&A, the director mentioned having been taken to task for not providing any critique of the OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) system. I was just happy that we didn’t get either of the two “typical” OFW horror stories–Filipinas being physically or sexually victimized, or victimizing the families they work for, stealing money, abusing children and elders, etc. Hell, I half-expected Teresa (the maid) to have some anting-anting which makes her some Asian Mary Poppins who teaches young Jiale about, I dunno, love and family or somesuch. 

(She probably would have if this was some Hollywood film.)

Anyway, I’m fine that the film wasn’t about the plight of OFWs for two reasons. One, I think Chen gives a pretty even-handed representation of the part most people play in that whole system, in a way which jives with the memories I’ve had as a child observing Filipinas who were brought over to the United States to help with the families of other Filipinos. And two, that kind of message would’ve taken away from the film’s focus on the compelling study of how four very different people cope against forces outside their control.

5 out of 5.

“I will see you on Good Friday…”

As some of you know, my Good Friday tradition is listening to the song “Good Friday” by the Black Crowes while looking up who got crucified in the Philippines this year

SAN FERNANDO, PAMPANGA (Updated) — Devotees in San Pedro Cutud village here had themselves nailed to a wooden cross to re-enact the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as thousands of local and foreign spectators watch the bloody annual rites to mark Good Friday in Asia’s largest Roman Catholic nation.

The money quote comes from Lasse Spang Olsen, a 48-year-old filmmaker from Denmark who joined in on the fun…

After being helped down from the cross, [Olsen] said of his experience: “Fantastic, you should try it.”