Sunday, December 04, 2016
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Saturday, November 26, 2016
Friday, November 25, 2016
Friday, November 04, 2016
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Celeste's Fr. Joe Cruz, S. J. and other iconic Ateneo teachers will be on exhibit at the Ateneo Alumni Art Fair from November 13-19, 2016.
Sunday, October 09, 2016
Friday, September 30, 2016
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Thursday, September 22, 2016
Saturday, September 17, 2016
Two gentlemen, Dean Francis Alfar and Sarge Lacuesta, venture in a project to publish the best Filipino fiction and they nail it. Rather than engage the blogosphere in the polemics of Dutertesism, why not engage these gentlemen and write about their fine harvest? Just a word of caution, every reading is an opportunity for misreading, but never mind as long as we enjoy it.
1. The "Auroras" by Sasha Martinez is about arrivals, departures, welcomings, homecomings, lost loves, found loves, destruction, and reconstruction with a post-war historical cast of characters who lived through it all. I labored all afternoon, Google in hand, finding out the characters who had a modern-day online presence: Armi Kuusela, the first Ms. Universe from Finland who married a Filipino banker, Gil Hilario -- albeit Gil is not in this story as it ends just as Armi is about to go to Baguio where she would subsequently meet Gil in a blind date -- and, Colonel Manuel Nieto, the be-moustached aide-de-camp of Pres. Manuel L. Quezon, subject of teen-ager's crush and a sort of forbidden love by Aurora, the narrator, yes -- he's real too. Celebrated personalities come to an afternoon tea party to welcome Ms. Universe and I was fully convinced this is a record of the actual event. Just then, the unabashed congressman who declared himself the only one eligible among the Filipino gentlemen smitten by Ms. Universe, makes an appearance close to the end of the story. A few clicks and I learned this is the same guy who faked his war medals and looted the bureaucracy.
2. Of course, as a work of fiction, the story has to earn its merit without the aid of external elements — and it does so beautifully in a language that is often hypnotic. Yet, this is part of the fun in historical fiction, recognizing how the written points to the unwritten and delighting at how the written shows the world lurking beneath this lyrical tapestry. The story understates much of the historical detail, making it all the more intriguing. I'm particularly fascinated with Colonel Manuel Nieto's story about the bear, the last one in Luzon said to have hidden in a cave at the edge of Intramuros. The bear raged as the Spaniards partied and prayed each night. It is the story within a story, a metaphor for what was once native to the island, hopelessly and foolishly resisting the inevitable excursions of and intrusions to the Filipino soul. Yet, the bear is gone and Aurora, the narrator, declares herself to have become the woman of the world. Having married Jakob, the brother of Armi Kuusela, Aurora will bear children who "will be most assuredly blonde, and not improbably blue-eyed.” And close to the end, she muses about her lost love, the Colonel and his story about the bear with things having gone full circle. There are four Auroras here: the wife of Manuel L. Quezon, the flowers named by the hotel gardener after her, the narrator named Aurora, who leaves an old love and brings home a new one, and the Roman goddess of dawn who layers this fictive world, as it starts and ends, with the colors of a new beginning. Ganda!
Thursday, September 08, 2016
Sunday, September 04, 2016
Monday, August 29, 2016
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Monday, August 08, 2016
Thursday, August 04, 2016
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
NVM Gonzalez used to talk a lot about how the diachronic and synchronic characteristics of language could be the key to finding an endless resource of inspiration. The diachronic is the historical and mythological dimension of words whereas the synchronic is the declarative words of the here and now. It was NVM's "trade secret" that allowed him to write as much as he could, the mind and writing hand hopping from the historical and mythical to the here and now and soon he accumulated a treasure throve of authentic Filipino literature that made NVM a National Artist. In visual art, if one were to look for the same spring of inspiration, the human face is probably one of the most fertile grounds to mine. In the human face, one not only finds a story of a generation, a race, or the entire humanity, but also a representation of a specific person with a particular historicity, color, and uniqueness. Thus, the human face has the history and mythology and the here and now, the perfect cross between the diachronic and synchronic. Yet, the peculiar thing about the face is that it means nothing unless it refers to a specific face of a person. An artist may draw a face, and with a mastery of the anatomy, achieve perfect symmetries on the eyes, nose, and lips; but, it could hardly be relevant to any one, except probably to the student of medicine studying the human species. To work and make the subject teem with meaning, the face as a subject of an artwork, must be the face of someone -- perhaps a great man like the Pope; a hero of a war, like Antonio Luna; a comic artist, like Dolphy; a beautiful soul, like St. Theresa of Calcutta; a sports icon, like Kevin Garnett; or someone close to home, like your mother.
Sunday, July 03, 2016
"Pu__ ___ __ Pope," oh my, I can't even write it. In November 2015, then just a mere prospect of a presidential candidate Duterte uttered the equivalent of the "F" word to the head of the Catholic Church. If this were the middle ages that would have spurred a crusade. But the cursing and iconoclast-thinking candidate out to make a point that decent is overrated -- and incompetent -- would not be denied his freedom of speech. He would speak his mind, curse the traffic and the pope who caused it, condemned to hell if he had to, but no moral code was going to make him blip what his mouth wanted to say about the hellish traffic that Pope Francis caused when he visited the Republic in January 2015. Pope Francis seemed unmindful of the raucous. And I could imagine the humble Pope even offering an apology for the incident had he been informed about it until -- bowed by the pressure of his handlers who were probably led by what could be imagined as septuagenarian members of the Catholic Women's League -- candidate Duterte wrote an apology to the Vatican and to the Catholic Bishop of Bacolod, and vowing to donate a thousand pesos to Caritas Davao for every curse word he said as an act of contrition. The Vatican accepted the apology and said, "The Holy Father offers the assurance of prayers for you, as he invokes upon you the divine blessings of wisdom and peace." That was April 2016, and the matter was settled once and for all by an overwhelming vote of the Catholic and non-Catholic majority in favor of candidate Duterte in the May 2016 elections.
("Bago" by Celeste Lecaroz, acrylic on canvas, 4 feet by 4 feet)
Still, I wonder if the Pope's prayers for candidate Duterte had a hand in the elections -- after all candidate Duterte was the only one who had the benefit of papal prayers among the presidential candidates in spite of being depicted by the other candidates as a foul-mouthed murderous man. If so, it gave a hint of how that goody-goody brother of the prodigal son felt after the rich father gave the son a feast despite living a reckless life -- a parable regularly read in Catholic churches that sidelights an earthly phenomenon in which nice guys finish last and the bad boys have all the fun.
("Viva Il Papa" by Celeste Lecaroz, acrylic on canvas, 4 feet by 4 feet)
Nonetheless, if and when Pope Francis meets Pres. Duterte, it wouldn't be just them meeting, but the Vatican and this Republic, the nation states that they represent, no cursing or crusades expected. Wouldn't that be nice? But nice, like decency, is overrated. For ultimately, as in the parable, we find out that the key to most everything is discarding our Manichean world view about being nice, decent, or of good behavior for it simply misses the point.
Thursday, June 30, 2016
I have not known a 71 year old man with that much fire in the belly. Standing up to a regime whose words inspire but whose actions disappoint, he played the role of a rabble-rouser -- "Kill all drug lords" -- and the visionary -- "We'll fix this country in six months" -- thus rallying a great majority to his side on election day. He claimed he is the last card of the Philippines for true change to happen; and yet, he showed them all, he can walk away from this anytime. Upon his election, he bashed every institution in society, calling churchmen hypocrites and media corrupt, prompting an act of contrition from the church apologists and a boycott from the defiant press. But what he was really doing was horse-breaking, taming everyone of their wildness, showing everyone he was the wildest of them all, and knowing eventually what would happen to the beast once it's broken. There is no doubt he is energy, a fuel to ignite every Filipino's dream. No one can escape the polemics and apologetics that he would dictate for the next six years and beyond.
("Bago" by Celeste Lecaroz, 4 feet x 4 feet, acrylic on canvass.)
One day we shall all be looking back to this moment: the 71 year old man with fire in the belly, rabble-rouser, visionary, horse-breaker, the energy, taking his oath to become the 16th President of the Republic, President Rody. He is the Philippines's last card -- and we would know by then how the card turned out, maybe everything was a joke and we drew a pathetic six of flowers. But today, we trust and hope that what we have is the ace of spades. Good luck President Rody! Good luck to the Republic!