Surrealism: A Dream That Reminded Me Of an Experimental Film

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot. The past three or so weeks, I’ve finished three books. During the same time period, I’ve dreamt more frequently and more vividly.

I woke up this morning with a dream which was pretty long. In fact, it was like two different scenes or short films in one dream.

The first one was short. Well, at least what I recall from it is short. Maraming nangyari, marami akong nakita.

I was riding in a jeep with high school badminton teammates Isay and Martha. We were on EDSA, on our way to SM North. When we were approaching the green footbridge near the jeepney terminal, Martha asked for my camera. Of course I handed it over. She then started filming the short ride remaining. When we got to the terminal, all of a sudden it shifted into (surprise!) the bus terminal in Starmall Alabang. Martha still continued filming as we were going down.

We were walking towards the mall (we were in SM even though it looked like Starmall). The three of us were walking in a row. I was in the leftmost. I don’t remember who was beside me. There was this jeep in front of me, going towards me, moving at a slow speed. It was as if the driver doesn’t care I was walking in front. I avoided it and took a glance at the driver. I was surprised to see he wasn’t looking front at all. He was talking, with his head turned to the back, to a passenger.

I would’ve been run over if he wasn’t going that slow.

Suddenly, (surprise!) the scene shifted. I’m not sure if this happened before or after the previous scene.

I found myself sitting alone inside a parked jeep. Outside, the atmosphere was gloomy. Makulimlim ‘yung kulay, parang art house film galing Europe. It kind of reminded me of a prison, actually, the whole view I was looking at.

I was seated at the right side of the jeep, middle part. I look left, outside, and see a street child. I don’t remember if he was with friends. Basta nandun siya. He was holding a rock the size of a Kowloon House jumbo siopao. Pretty big. And then (surprise!) he throws the rock to the direction of the jeep I was in. Bam! There was a hard landing on the roof. I was terrified. I seriously thought the rock would go through the roof and hit me on the head.

I went down immediately after. Who knows, the kid might go in the jeep and stab me with an ice pick next. I made my way to where my teammates were: (surprise!) my dad’s office. I don’t know why I knew my dad was there. I just did. And I’m even more weirded out that my teammates are there. I knew deep down it was my dad’s office, but when I went in, it looked less like BDO and more like a (surprise!) factory. At least the corridors and the restrooms looked that way.

I made my way inside a room. When I went in, it resembled a school library. There were shelves with papers and books. I don’t really know. That’s what the camera was showing (yes, I am a cinematographer in my dream): a bookshelf filled with books and papers with students and tables in the foreground, out of focus, and other students walking by in the middle ground.

I went in to this room without much of a purpose. And then (surprise!) Chlyde appears. I felt better, breathing a sigh of relief at the sight of her. We chatted.

Then the scene dissolved into another place I’ve been in in my dreams before: Mama’s house (my grandma). There was a party hosted there. It was a (surprise!) JC party. In Mama’s house. Weird.

In some undiscovered part of the house (I’ve known that house since I was an infant. Didn’t see this particular place), there was a dinner table. The table was rectangular and can comfortably hold six people, one on each short side, two on each long side. I don’t know if this was dinner or if this was after the dinner since there weren’t much people in the table.

I sat in one short side. Directly opposite me was some guy (light was too dim to see his face), and on my far right was Chlyde. The light was dim, like the lighting used in an interrogation room in movies. There wasn’t any food on the table anymore (or yet). The three of us seemed tired. We weren’t talking. No one spoke. The guy had both elbows on the table. Chlyde leaned closer to him and put her head on his arm near his shoulder. I felt something inside me. Then like magic (or discontinuity editing), they (surprise!) magically appeared on the table’s left side, the guy to my near left, Chlyde beside him. Then Chlyde stood up and hugged the guy, her chest on his left shoulder, her head on his head, and both arms around his right arm with hands clasped. I felt something inside me.

Suddenly the scene shifts to (surprise!) Mama’s room. And it wasn’t just a regular scene. It was a (surprise!) party-like room. The only JCers I could remember who were there in the room were Ralph, Raine, Mario, Chlyde, and myself. The only light source in the room was the TV. On the far side of the room, beside the TV was a couch where the four of them were seated. Meanwhile, I was on the floor in  front of the TV eating chips. Beside me, sitting on the foot of the bed was (surprise!) Mama wearing a duster, preparing to go to sleep.

Time passed. Everyone then started leaving already. Or at least go somewhere else in the house. All except me and Chlyde. She had on her this white sleeveless top with purple and pink prints on the front. We started talking again. I think by this time Mama was already sleeping soundly on her bed. Chlyde and I were talking.

“Inaantok na ‘ko,” I told her. “Tulog na tayo.”

“Tara,” she replied.

We were about to leave but (surprise!) my guitar stuff were there. I was picking up my Behringer V-Amp 2 from the foot of Mama’s bed when it suddenly slipped out of my hands and dropped to the floor. When I picked it up, over half of the knobs were gone. This time other JCers appeared. They helped me look for the missing parts. I checked under the bed, behind the TV, all possible areas. None.

“Parang meron ata dun,” one JCer said, pointing towards the Papa’s closet while seated on the couch and peering under. I went inside to check. Some broken equipment were there. I don’t know, though, how a broken allen wrench was there. Many of them. But I picked them up. I was also looking for (surprise!) a needle. I don’t know why. I found one, but it was the one with a big eye. I told myself it wouldn’t work. I went back out. I looked at my effects and felt so bad. I was gonna lose it. I felt really really terrible about it.

And that was when I woke up thinking, “Thank God that was just a dream,” regarding my guitar effects. I also thought, “Damn, I wish that were real,” for some parts (just figure out which parts).

I don’t really know what to make of this dream, this short film. Though it reminds me of the times when Chlyde and I are hanging alone together and suddenly, someone or something joins us and… basta gets niyo na yun.

Fun dream, all in all.


An Ode (a poem)

*(written a few days ago)

Your beauty lights up

  a thousand darknesses
The way a match illuminates a room
The way perfume attracts the periphery.
A beauty unlike any other

Your voice the sound of a six-string
in perfect harmony:
lovely yet simple yet
special like a greatest hit.
A voice unlike any other

Your eyes, sleepy as they may seem
Strength seeps through my bones
each time I see
those pretty little jewels
peering through windows.
Eyes unlike any other

Best of all, that smile
which tells me you're okay
which sends stars laying
prostrate in homage.
That thin smile 
curved like a river
showing treasure pearls.
A smile unlike any other

No words can describe you
Precisely, exactly.
Words are just words
And words aren't enough,
never enough
To describe

The only you
The perfect you

Foreshadowed Death

There has been something eerily recurrent during my 2011. Death.

I remember several months ago in June, in this same blog, I wrote an entry about death ( I wrote of what death may be like, of how this life we're living, this world we move around in, may be just a dream, and that death may be the reality.

A few weeks before this, my family and I started watching the teleserye 100 Days To Heaven, a show about a businesswoman who died and returned to this world given 100 days to fix broken relationships, to complete unfinished business. Dead woman.

That same June, Papa (my grandfather) suffered a mild stroke. We thought it was just mild. We didn't know it was the start of a two-plus month struggle with cancer. Eventually, this led to his death. May God bless his soul and my he rest in peace.

It was a death Mama hasn't gotten over with. 47 years is hard to move on from. I can't really blame her.

He passed away on August 30. Days after, several more deaths came. My dad received text messages that his officemate has moved on, or his friend's relative kicked the bucket, several of these. It was just a string of losses which could never be regained ever again.

Just recently, I finished reading The Sicilian. It was a story about Turi Guiliano and his dearest friend Aspanu Pisciotta and their quest to conquer Sicily. Spoiler ahead, let me just say. Turi died. He was killed by none other than his best friend Aspanu. It was just a novel, I know, but it was also a death I didn't expect.

I also just read Tuesdays With Morrie. It was a true account by Mitch Albom regarding his experience with his former college professor Morrie Schwartz. Morrie was suffering from a disease called ALS, just like what Stephen Hawking has. Guess what, Morrie died.

Along the way, Amy Winehouse died, Moammar Ghadaffi was killed, Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, Steve Jobs. Great personalities move on to meet the Greatest Personality, God.

Looking back, that blog entry of mine seemed like a foreshadowing of things to come. But all these events served a greater purpose for me: it taught me that death comes to everyone, at anytime. No one is exempt from it. No one is above it. And no one can stop it.

Filmmaking Is Hard!

I came into Film 10 with expectations similar to what I expected with my Film 100 class: a greater appreciation for film.

I don't know how much of it was Film 10, but the interest and appreciation I have for film right now has definitely increased. Just less than an hour ago (a little past 11pm), I got home from shooting our final project for Film 10, five to eight-minute short horror film which goes against drugs.

It was a tough combination to make a film out of, like putting a Ferrari on EDSA, or a pedicab on the SLEX. Coming up with a coherent and creative story was hard. Writing the script, harder. Filming it, hardest.

I took on the responsibility of writing the screenplay/script for my group since we discussed this somehow in Film 100. Writing the script was hard, but it was fun. Or maybe that was so because someone thought of the story already, and I only had to translate it to moving pictures.

During the filming, I don't think the whole screenplay was followed, not because we wanted to on purpose, but because of constraints in the venue, the lighting, and the lack of equipment.

I also took the responsibility of handling the camera. Too bad it was only a digicam. Selecting where to shoot shots from, at what height, in what side, they were all challenging. A shot may seem right from one angle, and look better at another. Cinematography is no easy chore. Sometimes, scenes are shot from different angles just to see which works best.

I also got to direct some scenes. Telling the actors what to do, where to position, when to say what, how to deliver lines, and even how to shoot some scenes.

This five to eight-minute film was shot in over six hours. That's an average of over an hour of shooting per minute of film. Imagine how long a 90-minute film is shot. 

So for this project, I experienced being a script writer, a director, and a cinematographer. None was easy, all were fun. Well, at least I had fun making this short film.

But through all this, I learned one thing: film making is no easy task. It's hard to make a film. It's harder to make an indie film. Mainstream films have the luxury of using studios. Indie film makers do not necessarily have this privilege. Shooting on location is harder because a sunset scene for example, cannot be done at snail's pace because the sun will set soon. A few minutes of delay can ruin the whole scene.

It's not easy making a film. And after this project, I have a better outlook at the filmmakers' efforts to make quality cinema, especially those with not much funds to work with. This learning, I believe, goes hand in hand with the saying that not everything important can be learned in the classroom.

The experience of filmmaking made me see this fact. Whether it's Enteng Kabisote or The Godfather, one thing remains: making them takes a lot of time and effort.

All thanks to Film 10 (and also Film 100).

May Ipis Sa Tabi Mo

"OK. Adjourned," sabi ng bosing ko. Tapos na ang miting na hinintay ko ng mahigit tatlong oras. Gusto ko nang umuwi. Antok na antok na 'ko e.

Matapos makipagkwentuhan sandali sa taas ng Plaridel, bumaba na rin ako. Malamig ang simoy ng hangin. Basa pa ang kalsada at madilim ang kagabihan. Mabuti na ring late na natapos 'yung meeting. At least kasabay niyang tapos ang malakas na ulan.

Kumukulo na sikmura ko. Pagkatapos ng food fest sa Kas 2, lunch time pa, wala na 'kong kinain. Ang tanging ipinasok ko lang sa tiyan ko ay isang boteng tubig ('yung tubig ang pinasok ko, hindi 'yung bote). Isa pa 'tong dahilan bakit excited na 'kong umuwi. Para makakain na.

Naglalakad ako papunta sa sakayan ng jeep. May nakita akong ipis sa kalye. Gumagapang. Buti na lang hindi ako nilapitan. 'Di ko na pinansin. Tumuloy na lang ako sa aking patutunguhan. Ayun. Sakto. Pagkarating ko sa sakayan, may dumating agad na jeep na biyaheng MRT. Wala pang masyadong laman.

Walang traffic. Nakarating agad ako sa Quezon Avenue MRT station. Buti na lang. Pagkasakay ko nga lang ng tren, ayun, puno. Gabi na rin naman kasi. Pasado alas-sais na e. Inexpect ko na rin naman 'yun. Not that I like it.

Pagkadating ng Ayala Station, bumaba na 'ko. Walang hiya, nagkauntugan pa kami nung nasa likod kong lumalabas rin ng tren. Medyo masakit rin siya, pero OK lang. Mauntog ka rin sana, naisip ko. Kumulo na naman tiyan ko. Pero dahil gusto ko nang umuwi, at dumadaan naman ng Skyway 'yung bus, sige, titiisin ko na lang muna.

Ang dami talagang sumasakay ng MRT sa Ayala. 'Yung pila para sa ticket – o pila yata 'yun sa baggage "inspection", ewan. Ang dami nila e – hinaharangan na 'yung exit ng mga bumaba ng Ayala. Pilit kong linusot ang pader ng taong iyon. The shortest distance from Point A to Point B is the perpendicular distance between them, kaya siningit ko na lang sarili ko sa pila.

Pagbaba ko sa sakayan ng bus, grabe ang kapal ng tao. Makapal ang dami nila. Makapal rin ang mukha. Pagkababa mo kasi dun, may dalawa kang makikitang sign: "Sakayan ng PACITA", mga dalawampung hakbang mula sa hagdan, at "Sakayan ng ALABANG" mga halos bente ring hakbang mula sa PACITA.

Nagulat ako nang makita kong ang mga tao'y hindi na pumipila sa tamang sakayan. Imbes na hintayin nila 'yung mga bus na pumunta sa kanila sa tamang lugar ng sakayan, ang mga tao ang pumunta kung saan nakapila ang mga bus. Grabe talaga.

Pumila na 'ko sa Alabang part. Ang dami talagang tao. Dumungaw ako para makita kung may paparating na bus biyaheng Alabang. Meron naman. Mga pangatlo sa pila. Pero siyempre, bilang lahat naman ng mga commuter gustong mauna, hindi na nila hihintayin 'yung bus. Sila na mismo ang pupunta sa bus. Makikipagtulakan, gitgitan, at sugatan ang bawat isa para lang makasakay.

Nang makita ko ito, naalala ko 'yung sumalubong sa 'kin bago sumakay ng jeep papuntang MRT station: 'yung ipis. Naisip ko talaga, parang mga gutom na ipis 'tong commuters na 'to. May nakita lang na makakain sinunggaban na agad. Hindi lang pala sila isang ipis. Isang silang swarm ng ipis.

Kung sabi ni Gat Jose Rizal, "Ang hindi marunong magmahal sa sariling wika ay higit pa ang amoy sa mabahong isda", ang sabi ko naman, "Ang hindi marunong pumila sa sakayan ng bus, masahol pa sa ipis."

Bakit hindi umaasenso ang mamamayang Pilipino? Tumingin ka lang sa EDSA makikita mo na kung bakit. Magcommute ka lang sa EDSA, makikita mo na ang dahilan. Baka nga makatabi mo pa e.

41 Days Later

The world is like a bucket of water, and every individual just a single H2O molecule.

I've moved on from the passing of my grandpa. I moved on because I should. Because I have a lot of work to do. Dwelling on a pain will be counterproductive on my part. It will be counterproductive for many to keep themselves stuck in the mourning phase.

Maybe I am saying this because I am young, because I have a lot of things to do to keep myself busy: read about my lessons, do work for the UP Journalism Club, mingle with my friends. On my part, it is easy to say that moving on from a death is easy and that it will come quick.

Well, not really.

My widowed grandmother still finds it hard to accept the bitter truth of Papa's passing. Though there has been a bit of an improvement emotionally, it is negligible progress. Oftentimes, she still finds herself crying about Papa.

I understand. To be separated from a companion, a  lover, a best friend of 47 long and wonderful years is hard. If I were in her shoes and I lost a wife of 47 years, I would mourn. I would cry my heart our for her. Sadness will doubtlessly envelop me. But it doesn't mean I will allow it to envelop me forever.

Take away one molecule of H2O from a bucket of water and it can still clean surfaces, it can still be drank, it can still be used to rehydrate. A bucket of water, minus one H2O molecule, can still be used.

Same goes with the world. A death of a person won't make the world stop functioning. A person's departure won't retard the earth's rotation on it's axis and its revolution around the Sun. It won't stop the stock market from plummeting or rising. It won't stop musicians around the world from making music, won't stop activists from protesting against something, won't keep the rich from getting more money.

A young person like me, maybe like my parents, can still take this easily. But for a retired 70-year-old, it is very hard. The relationship has lasted practically her whole life. Unlike a working person – who has the luxury of channeling the sad vibes to his or her work – a retired 70-year-old doesn't have this to fall back on. Their house becomes their life, a house which will remind of the past, both happy and sad.

Life must go on. For an old widow, how  can life go on when the biggest part of her life has gone?

Nobody said that bucket of emotion within cannot be replaced with new water. Once the old water has evaporated, fresh new liquid can fill the container.

The Dream Date Has Come

I like this girl. Really beautiful. And she comes from the province where all women come from.

I’ve been wanting to make a move in this girl, but just can’t find the right timing. I want to get her alone. Problem is she’s always with someone. There just hasn’t been any chance to get to her. All that changed in a heartbeat.

A great majority of the people have gone and there were just a few of us left. I inched my way towards her, joining the group after being on the outside looking in the whole time. Talk, talk, fun, fun. Umalis na kayo, dali na,” I thought to myself, so we can be alone. Finally the group shrank and shrank some more.

Ayun. Kaming dalawa na lang. Finally. Sa tinagal-tagal kong makuha ‘tong pagkakataong ‘to, dumating din.

So we talked. And talked. And talked some more.

“Labas tayo,” sabi ko sa kanya.

“Sige ba. Kelan?” sagot naman niya.

“Hmm, gusto mo ngayon na?”

“Sure,” sagot niya, sabay ngiti.

Syempre, I got excited. From being an observer, naging participant na ‘ko. That’s progress for you.

So we went out. It was already night time. Her white off-shoulder top shone through the dark night. We were sitting on steps in front of a shop. Since it was already late, the store was already closed. We just hung out in front of the shop, our backs leaning against the steel. She sat at my left, with her right arm brushing against my left arm. It was like a dream come true for me.

I thought to myself, I want to hold her hand. Maybe I should try. She had her arm straight, with her hands on her lap and her denim-wearing legs straight. I assumed the same position. Then I tried it: using my left hand, I placed it under her right and played with it like it was a ball I was lightly tossing up and down. For about ten or fifteen times I bounced it.

After the last, I gently placed my hand on her lap and let her hand fall into mine. I clasped my fingers with hers, held it.

“Sana hindi siya mag-move away,” I thought to myself.

One…two…three seconds on and she still hasn’t moved away. At the corner of my eye, I saw a small upward curve draw itself on her face. Alright. A few seconds later I felt her fingers gripping mine as well. She’s holding my hand too!

Afterwards, I saw her move her head to lean on my T-shirt shoulder sleeve. Soon as it touched, bam! Something hit me. I think I was knocked out.

I woke up after a nanosecond of being unconscious. My head was on soft ground. The air was cold. The room was dark. It felt familiar, like I’ve been to that place loads of times before.

I was back in my room. Everything was just a dream. ARGH.