Mad World

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it. Always.” Gandhi (film), 1982

This is another movie that made me cry. Like when I watched To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) and asked, “What happened to kindness?

Life is cruel. People are cruel. War in its pointlessness is inevitable. Fueled by violence, and hate, and fear. Haven’t we learned from history? Lives being reduced to mere numbers? It’s madness!

And then I saw 12 Angry Men (1957), the story of 12 jury members deliberating the guilt or acquittal of a defendant. Made me think of how our biases shape the way we judge other people. And these judgements can’t always be accurate. So in the current war against drugs in the Philippines leading to the death of suspected drug users/pushers, should I be okay with the judgement that they are deserving of this fate? Does the end really justify the means? All life is supposed to be sacred. But what do I know.

It’s a mad, mad world. Leaders making dumb decisions. Capitalists continuously thrashing the planet. Religion being used to wreak havoc. People blindly going with the flow. It’s scary what humanity is turning into. And I can’t wait for the way of truth and love to prevail real soon.

‘Train to Busan’ and Real Life

Just when you thought we’ve ran out of good movies, good zombie movies at that, along came “Train to Busan.” Hurray for quality-made Korean movies! Yeah, it’s the same zombie apocalypse plot already seen in World War Z and The Walking Dead with cliché characters trying to survive the outbreak. There’s the heroic, selfless ones, the weaklings always needing saving and protection, and the selfish prick who doesn’t care about anyone else but himself. This Korean flick, however, gave a fresh take on zombie invasion. For one, the setting took place in a train. There’s a balance of horror, action, comedy, and drama. So it’s like four movies in one. Also, it managed to be a social commentary on work life balance, kindness, and social class.

As much as movies are works of fiction, these also reflect the state of the society we live in today. Wild, rabid zombies are scary but I think the way we are transforming and becoming the undead is equally alarming. We are a slave to technology. Like hungry monsters, we can’t stop consuming and trashing the earth. We embrace this rat race lifestyle. Steve Cutts in his illustrations clearly demonstrate these. We are essentially zombies!

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The antagonist in the movie reminded me of all the evil in the world. His drive to survive is admirable but does it have to be at the expense of other people? It’s that one character that you would want to turn into your personal punching bag. But we are all guilty of being selfish. After all, self-preservation apparently is a basic human instinct.

But in the midst of chaos, whether that may be war, political discord, or zombie apocalypse, there would be individuals who would look out for other people. Those who would stand for what is right. Those who choose to be kind. And those who wouldn’t let themselves be consumed by the zombie virus. It is them who would reach the destination still human.

What movie should I watch next?

I’ve been scouring the net for movies worth wasting an hour or two with. I often ask people what their favorite movie is so I could make it one of my favorites too. Watching movies is the easiest way to pass the time. You get to be entertained, and if you’re lucky, learn lessons about life and realize something profound about yourself.

Here’s my top movie picks. I’m not a movie critique but these, I would say, are the best of the best just because I say so. Let me know what I should add to the list.

Oldies but goodies:

  1. Gone with the Wind
  2. The Treasure of Sierra Madre
  3. Sound of Music

Feel good and inspirational:

  1. Shawshank Redemption
  2. Goodwill Hunting
  3. Front of the Class
  4. Forrest Gump
  5. 3 Idiots
  6. Toy Story 3

Drama:

  1. Dead Poet’s Society
  2. Schindler’s List
  3. To Kill A Mockingbird
  4. Miracle in Cell No. 7

Thought-provoking:

  1. Inception
  2. Memento
  3. Dark Knight
  4. Boyhood
  5. Waking Life
  6. Before Trilogy

Adventure and action-packed:

  1. X-Men
  2. Lord of the Rings

Gore and shocking:

  1. Final Destination
  2. 24 Days Later
  3. Old Boy
  4. Battle Royale

What happened to kindness?

I cried while watching “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

I’m not a crier. I was told I’m cold-hearted because I don’t easily show my emotions. I don’t think the film is even a tear-jerker. But for some reason, tears suddenly started falling.

Is it a sad realization of man’s cruelty? I must have been wrong believing that we are naturally good. It seems like it’s the opposite.

Sometimes it’s better to feel numb. To not care. Nothing can be done about it anyway.

But then again, you see acts of kindness going viral online. What’s so fascinating about being kind? Perhaps this is a revelation of our true selves. That kindness is not an afterthought but is a second nature or first nature if there’s such a thing. Deep inside, we are actually kind people.

Harvey in the movie, “The Dark Knight” said that you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. Life has a way of bending you to your limits. Until you finally give in to the other side. Where it’s much more convenient. Or less painful. Or would make you feel nothing at all. And that’s the danger. When you reach the point of not caring. Because by then, you have nothing to lose. And you do whatever pleases you regardless of consequence.

I wonder why I cried that evening. I hope it’s because I still give a damn.

The Youth, a New Dawn, and ‘Three Stars and a Sun’

It’s the usual post-apocalyptic story of people trying to survive inside a fallout shelter and the struggle between two opposing groups. One that maintains peace and order while the other challenges the status quo. But what makes “Three Stars and a Sun” of Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) different? It’s a rap musical. Not only that, it features the music of the late legendary Filipino artist, Francis Magalona.

I’m not really a fan of rap music but watching this musical made me appreciate Francis M. as an artist. I’m amazed at how he was able to use rap to promote nationalism and awareness on social issues.

“Three Stars and a Sun” literally refers to the flag of the Philippines and the musical made me reflect about the sorry state of the country which I usually rant about. Really timely, as the national election is coming soon and with it brings the shameless nasty face of politics promising change that never happen.

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3 Stars and a Sun

The youth is the hope of the fatherland. That’s what Rizal, our national hero said. In the play, it reveals that we have forgotten him; him and the other heroes who fought for our freedom.

Old people label the younger generation as arrogant, disrespectful, and selfish who seem to be preoccupied with selfies, social media image, trends, and technology. But on the contrary, the youth has started fighting for social change.

I attended an event of Global Shapers Philippines, a network of young leaders, and I was inspired to learn about their different initiatives and projects that aim to contribute to nation-building and better the lives of Filipinos.

For every youth consumed by apathy, there are those who are empowered and choose to make a difference. For every corrupt official, there is an honest one who strives to provide real public service. For every policeman abusing his power, there is someone who upholds the law.

It is said that the darkest hour is just before dawn. So maybe, just maybe, a new dawn will come soon enough.

Pelikulang Pinoy

Marami ang nagrereklamo kung paanong nawawala na ang kalidad ng mga pelikulang Pilipino. Walang kuwento, mga linyang korni, artistang pare-pareho na nagpapa-cute lang, at nakangingiwing special effects.

Kaya ako’y nagulat at natuwa nang mapanood ko ang ilang Pinoy Classics – mga obra ni Lino Brocka, Mike de Leon, at Ishmael Bernal. Simple lang ang pagkakagawa pero talagang pinag-isipan ang mga dayalogo at takbo ng kuwento.

Pinuri kung paanong repleksiyon ng realidad ang “Bona” o “Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag.” Nakalulungkot lang na habang pinapanood ko ito’y nakita ko na ang bansa, lalo na ang Maynila, ay nasa ganoong kalagayan pa rin. Parang walang pinagbago. Sadlak pa rin sa kahirapan.

Iyan ang ninanais ng mga intelektuwal mula sa mga palabas – iyong realistic, nagbibigay ng kamulatan, at kapupulutan ng aral. Ngunit iyan mismo ang gustong kalimutan ng mga tao. Ang takasan kahit sandali ang mga problema, ang katotohanan. Iyon bang hindi na kailangang mag-isip.

May nagsabing mas madaling kontrolin ang mga taong hindi nag-iisip. Marahil ang media, ang industriya ng Pinoy films, at mismong gobyerno natin ay nagkaisang subuan tayo ng kababawan para mas madali tayong i-kontrol, mas madaling utuhin. Ito ba talaga ang gusto natin?

Skin Color

I watched “The Butler,” a 2013 American historical drama film based on Eugene Allen’s life as a White House butler. It gave a glimpse of the struggles African Americans had to go through in the US. It saddened me to be reminded of humanity’s tendency towards racism, discrimination, and hate.

The Holocaust, Apartheid, Ku Klux Klan. Only but a few illustration of this madness. I know war and conflict are part of life but it baffles me how we resort to violence without any sense of regard to human life just because we feel that THEY are different from us. THEY are not our equal. THEY are inferior.

I thought we have learned from the past. I thought that with technological advancement, we are no longer ignorant to cultural diversity. I thought we would be more accepting of our differences. That’s what I thought. Then Ferguson, Baltimore, and now Charleston happened.

In the Philippines, we claim that we don’t have this so-called racism. But TV shows, ads, billboards, and subjects of ridicule say otherwise. Colonial influence still dictate that having fair skin is the standard of beauty. Skin whitening products abound. And being dark is still considered inferior.

How stupid and shallow to pass judgement on people based on skin color. What’s wrong with the world?