Capping Off the Year With Great Local Movies: An MMFF 2016 Roundup (Part 1)

Big props to my aunt, I was able to see seven out of eight MMFF movies this 2016. I actually have a few things to say about the entries for the previous year’s most anticipated film festival but first, let me share my thoughts about the MMFF restructure.

#Reelvolution: Change Has Come to MMFF

2016 has been a year of change for the Filipino people and the MMFF took part in this country-wide revolution. I know this is a big leap for the MMFF crew, and so I take my hat off to the brave people behind the curtain who broke the annual tradition of parading commercial (garbage? loljk) movies on the big screen.

MMFF: “December’s Most Awaited Family Affair?”

The only thing that I didn’t like, though, was the fact that they didn’t include a family-friendly movie on the list. Yes,  I’m one with the MMFF committee in picking these micro-budget films. I have nothing against the lineup. In fact, I actually loved the movies and I’m looking forward to seeing more of them for the years to come.

Sadly, the event is, to quote the admin of the MMFF website,”December’s most awaited family affair.” If they claim the festival to be a family affair, where were the family-friendly films? Oddly enough, the 2016 MMFF  lineup made it impossible for kids to enjoy their movie experience. Oddly enough, the 2016 MMFF lineup deprived the Filipino families of what has become a family tradition during the Christmas season.

Let’s take my aunt’s situation as an example. During the previous years, she, her husband, and their three lovely daughters were able to watch almost all entries because most were either rated G or PG. This time, the only movies they have seen were Saving Sally and Vince and Kath and James.

Sure, Vince and Kath and James and Sunday Beauty Queen were rated G, but who would pick SBQ for the entire family? I can’t say much about Vince and Kath and James because I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s a love story, not really something that brings a family closer together. Ang Babae sa Septic Tank and Oro were rated PG, but I doubt kids would take interest in those films.

When my friend Eca and I watched Oro,  two mischievous little kids sat beside us and all they did during the entire screening was to repeat the lines of the actors and actresses (they were so cute I almost punched their daddy in the face). Apart from being noisy (and annoying), these poor kids even attempted to drink my iced tea while I was busy watching how the villains killed a dog in a controversial scene. The point is, although these movies were rated G and PG, kids as young as nine years old wouldn’t enjoy their movie experience if they couldn’t relate to the story. Even my 12-year-old cousin didn’t enjoy watching the movie.

My heart goes out to all the Filipino families who had a hard time choosing which films to watch this year because, let’s face it, most of the entries were not family-friendly.

Quality Over Quantity: The Battle Between Art and Entertainment

Personally, this restructuring thing that the MMFF peeps did was indeed a risky move but I think it’s worth it. Judging by how powerful and influential social media is these days, this #Reelvolution of MMFF could be our first real step toward our journey to an improving industry that produces high-caliber films.

As a MassComm graduate, I have always dreamed of the day when the masses would finally appreciate the beauty and quality of independent films. After all, art and entertainment do not always go hand in hand–an art film can be entertaining but an entertaining movie isn’t always a work of art. Sometimes, moviemakers create films not because they have an interesting story to share, but because they want to make money out of their blockbuster films.

When I first heard about the MMFF restructure, my first thought was “finally!” For me, it’s about time a film festival as big as the MMFF acknowledge the underdogs in the film industry. The mission of the organization, after all, is “to encourage the production of quality Filipino films,” not to produce crowd-pleasers that the masses a.k.a. poor Filipinos are bound to enjoy.

Welcome Change: A Message to Big Production Companies

If there are a few things that big production companies can learn from this year’s MMFF slate, these are: welcome change, fuck the formulas, and don’t be afraid to take risks. If you have seen Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2, you’ll know what I mean.

Now, if the MMFF continue to stick with this #Reelvolution trend and choose to curate films based on quality (subjective as it may seem), the only way big franchise films (like Enteng Kabisote, Shake, Rattle, and Roll, Mano Po, and Vice Ganda films) can make it to the slate is to adapt the new (reclaimed?) face of Philippine cinema that focuses more on top-grade films and less on commercial garbage.

All in all, my MMFF 2016 experience was definitely one to remember. I have to say that there’s no better way to cap off a good year than to watch great local movies like the ones included in this festival. It was like binge-watching independent films at the Cinemalaya film fest. Only this time, I had to deal with annoying parents who had the guts to bring their kids inside the cinemas but did not have proper movie theater etiquette.

Stay tuned for my next blog post ‘cos I’ll be writing a review for each film (except, of course, for Vince and Kath and James, which I refused to watch because 1) it’s too hype and overrated 2) I have no moneeeeeh na po huhu).

To be continued…

*Featured photo source: MMFF Website

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Confessions of a Dumb Girl: My 2016 Anvil Grand Christmas Sale Experience

Note: the following are confessions of a dumb girl who loves books and learns a lot from them but is stupid enough not to learn how to prepare for a book sale event like this.

I have always been a fan of book sale events and discounted books in general. In fact, half of the books on my shelves are hauls from different book sale events. That’s why when Anvil posted this photo on Facebook,

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Photo Souce: Anvil’s Facebook Page

I saved the details on my phone immediately. But then, life happened and got in the way.

Tip #1: Don’t let life get in the way of your dreams. (wiw)

So there was I, three weeks late for the grand opening of the grand warehouse sale. I’m not really a fan of sharing my stupidity with other people, but here’s my confession: I went there without knowing what types of books they publish. When I heard about the event, I pictured the National Bookstore warehouse sale where you get to bring home books of different genres like foreign classics, foreign young-adults, and foreign everything.

I was wrong.

Tip #2: Mag-research muna tungkol sa publication house.

Rey Christian (my boyfriend), Eca (my friend), Arsen (her boyfriend), and I haven’t been to Kapitolyo before, so we had a hard time finding the exact location of the warehouse. Eca and Rey, who both happen to work in Mandaluyong, were also not familiar with the place. Yes, they both know that Kapitolyo was only one jeep away from SM Megamall, but they didn’t know exactly how to get there. I was the one who invited them in the first place and I knew that I must be solely responsible for the directions and all. Sadly for them, I was never the street-smart girl. (Excuses. I was really not prepared.)

Tip#3: Alaming mabuti kung paano pumunta sa pupuntahan (?).

We all met at SM Megamall. We asked a random kuya how to get to Kapitolyo and he told us that it’s only three stoplights away from where we were. We could commute but were greeted by a long line of commuters waiting for the next jeepney. So, rather than waiting in vain, we walked. And walked. And walked. When we reached the third stoplight, we asked yet another random kuya if we’ve reached our destination. He told us that we were still two stoplights away from there. So, there. We walked and walked until we lost count of how many stoplights we’ve passed. After what seemed like forever, we asked a random ate if we’ve accomplished our mission. We did.

Tip#4: Wag maniwala sa random kuyas. Magtanong sa random ate para may chance na tama.

So this was the #Kapitolyo that I’ve been seeing on the Instagram posts of my pa-cool kid friends. As procrastinators, Eca and I checked our phones for the warehouse location for the first time. We asked a random tricycle driver where Bo’s Jungle was, but all we got from him was “Malayo pa ‘yun” before he turned his back on us. We asked three more random tricycle drivers before we finally discovered that we needed one more tricycle ride to get there.

Tip#5: Ask the fourth random tricycle driver to be safe.

We’re finally there! I never imagined I would blog about this experience, so I didn’t bring any camera. Eca brought hers, but I never thought I would need pictures for my blog. To make a long story short, I won’t be able to show you pictures of us at the Anvil warehouse.

Tip#6: Magdala ng camera kung may blog ka, you know, just in case (sad face).

It was a long journey, but when we saw the poster outside the warehouse and realized that it really was a warehouse, Eca and I couldn’t contain our giddiness. I’ve been to a few warehouse sale events before and I remembered that the NBS ATC Warehouse Sale in 2014 was not held in a warehouse. A bigger location means more chances of scoring more amazing finds. Yay!

Tip#7: Kapag sinabing warehouse sale, i-expect mo na sa warehouse gaganapin.

After we left our bags at the guard’s station, we immediately reached for a basket. Eca, having heard stories from her friends about the kind of books there, dropped her basket as soon as she laid her hands on it, saying that she would never need it anyway. Judging by the Facebook poster, I expected to see classics and YAs and some textbooks perhaps, but what greeted me were mostly textbooks and reference books, textbooks, and reference books.

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Photo Source: Anvil’s Facebook Page

Anvil also posted this photo on Facebook, which set my expectations for the warehouse sale. I’m a fan of classic novels and I really wanted to buy an Anne of Green Gables book. But when we got there, I realized that maybe if we went there earlier, we could have laid hands on more great books.

Tip#8: Refer to tips number 1 and 2.

Then, the quest for books that spark my interest began. As I scanned the place and browsed through the titles, I found several (14 to be exact) that piqued my interest. I haven’t heard or seen these books before but I don’t judge by title either – I read the synopsis or overview on the back and scan the pages first before I buy a book. Let me show you my haul:

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I got these 14 books for P410.00 plus the eco bag that costs P15.00. Not bad, especially because I got this treasure, which was also the most expensive of all (P100.00).

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I never really bothered with history or politics when I was a student. I only became a concerned citizen when I became a registered voter, but I have always been anti-Marcos. I hope this book would enlighten me about what really happened during the Marcos era and teach me what students won’t learn from textbooks and history books in school.

***

After we checked out at the counter, we realized that our hands needed some TLC. Eca brought her alcohol but there were only a few drops left. Luckily for us, his boyfriend brought his monster-sized alcohol.

Tip#9: Bring a friend who has a boyfriend who has a monster-sized alcohol.

We ended our day with a few beers. It has been ages since we last met and we figured we might as well drink the night away, just like the old times.

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From Pasig, we went to Malate to satisfy our cravings for Erra’s famous ramen and shut our growling stomachs. Despite the long journey from our offices to Megamall to Anvil to Malate, we had fun.

Tip#10: Pay for the buttered chicken that you all devoured, motherfuckers.

***

On a serious note, here are some useful tips that [I wasn’t able to use but] I want to share with you so you can have a fun, stress-free book shopping experience:

1. Since it’s a warehouse sale, expect stains, creases, torn covers, and tanning pages on the books. Bring one or more of the following because your hands will need some major TLC after scanning the dusty shelves, boxes, and piles:

  • Alcohol
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Tissue
  • Wet Wipes

2. When you find a good book that sparked your interest, don’t settle for that copy right away. Books inside the warehouse are scattered everywhere and you might find a better copy with less physical flaws after a while. I always do this whenever I visit warehouse sales, so I end up with copies that look good, if not as new. Below is a picture of the books in my haul. These copies have less tanning pages and spine creases compared to other books that I found there.

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3. Bring an eco bag. If you don’t have one, they sell eco bags at the warehouse for P15.00 each.

4. Research about the books that they publish so you know what to expect.

5. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Anvil offers readers like me a great opportunity to get to know Filipino authors and their works. I expected to see good YA and classic reads but the treasures that I found were so much better than I imagined. If you are a student, you can score a variety of textbooks that are hard to find at very low prices.

6. Be there early. I’m not sure if they restock books because it’s a warehouse sale, but I believe you’ll have more options at the warehouse’s opening hours.

7. Avoid the rush hours (and Fridays, too) for obvious reasons. (But if you’re dumb like me and you went there during rush hours, you’ll do better if you walk the distance from Megamall to Kapitolyo instead of waiting for a jeep. It’s faster and more hassle-free.)

8. Always be prepared. If you want directions, Google is always at your service, thank you very much. #AlwaysChallengeYourself

The event runs until December 10, so grab your eco bags and wallet now, visit the Anvil Grand Christmas Sale, and score amazing books from Filipino authors.

Beatlemaniacs, Booze, and Boyfriend: My The Beatles Tribute Night Experience

I was among the lucky ones who were given the chance to rock and roll to the beat of The Beatles’ timeless classics on the third volume of A Hard Day’s Night, a gig organized by Ilustrados. It was a tribute night for the four young lads who shook the world where Beatlemaniacs came together to let their hair down and sing along to the Fab Four’s hits.

Last February, my boyfriend and I also came to witness the volume two of this event, which was held at Troika. When we saw Ilustrados’ Facebook post about the third volume, we knew that we just found the perfect place to be for our date night. Because what could be better than a night spent with your boyfriend? A Beatles tribute night with booze and him, of course.

Beatlemaniacs Come Together to Witness Ilustrados’ A Hard Day’s Night Vol. 3

Photo Source: Ilustrados’ event page

Howard Luistro of Oh, Flamingo opened the event with Mother Nature’s Son, a heartwarming song from The White Album. It was followed by And I Love Her, a romantic McCartney song that never gets old. His playlist included the following songs in particular order:

  • Mother Nature’s Son
  • And I Love Her
  • Anna (Go With Him)
  • You Never Give Me Your Money
  • Penny Lane
  • No Reply
  • I Need You
  • All I’ve Got to Do
  • Norwegian Wood
  • Happiness Is a Warm Gun
  • Blackbird

Using his ukelele, Benny Giron of the BennyBunnyBand rocked the stage with a wild rendition of Why Don’t We Do It in The Road. Benny said that his all-out performance drained the energy out of him, so the next song that he played was I’m So Tired. Nice segue, man. The songs he performed were as follows:

  • Why Don’t We Do It in the Road
  • I’m So Tired
  • I Will
  • Something
  • Till There Was You
  • While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  • Yer Blues

Benny’s stage-wrecking performance of John Lennon’s Yer Blues was followed by another high-energy performance by Kissling. Everything seemed to be impromptu with this band, with Jeremy Lopez quoting Howard that “Pwede naman hindi professional dito ‘di ba?” Still, singing along with our fellow Beatlemaniacs when the lead forgot the lyrics was fun. Kissling’s playlist included the following songs:

  • Day Tripper
  • Please Mister Postman
  • Words of Love
  • I’m Only Sleeping
  • Can’t Buy Me Love
  • In Spite of All the Danger
  • Here, There, and Everywhere
  • Rain
  • Ask Me Why
  • Revolution
  • The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill

After several rock performances from the two previous acts, Ian Penn (Rafael Pena) serenaded the crowd with acoustic songs from different albums. He started off with Michelle for a warm up, followed by In My Life, which got the crowd singing, and Across the Universe, which set the mood for his entire act. The song was followed by four more feel-good, if not melancholic, songs by the Fab Four. The songs he performed were:

  • Michelle
  • In My Life
  • Across the Universe
  • For No One
  • Oh My Love
  • Dear Prudence 
  • Here Comes the Sun

The steady flow of sentimental songs was disrupted (in a good way) when Strange Creatures entered the scene. After Ian Penn’s beautiful rendition of Here Comes the Sun, I’d say there’s no better way to lift the mood of the crowd than by playing Eight Days a Week. The songs they played were:

  • Eight Days a Week
  • Baby’s in Black
  • Ticket to Ride
  • Two of Us
  • Strawberry Fields
  • If I Fell
  • Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
  • Girl
  • She Loves You

Jeremy Lopez, Ian Penn, Benny Giron, Carl Juliano of The Subspring, and Jon Tamayo shared the stage to close the event with eight Beatles classics, which got us banging our heads, dancing to the beat, and singing our hearts out. This part was what we all looked forward to the most in this event and these guys did not fail us. Come Together was an amazing song choice, although the singers (and the crowd, too) forgot some lyrics. Because seriously, who cares? Even John Lennon forgot the lyrics during some of his live performances. The playlist consisted of the following songs:

  • Come Together
  • Don’t Let Me Down
  • Twist and Shout
  • I Wanna Hold Your Hand
  • Oh Darling
  • Let It Be
  • Abbey Road Medley (Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/ The End)
  • Hey Jude

As expected, they closed the event with a longggggg rendition of Hey Jude because nananana.  If they played another song after that, we didn’t know. My boyfriend and I went home at 1:30 AM. We got a good night’s sleep, with me dreaming that there will be a fourth volume to this event.

*Featured photo used not mine