Archive for imelda marcos

(lg2a) give me the dirty, the dingy, the dazzling new york city

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, events, fashion, food, history, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, nature, news, people, religion, sports, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2010 by mijodo

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“This reminds me of Cubao, Quiapo and Makati altogether,” one sister declared.
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Yes it can be true. Just go to the heart of New York City – Manhattan that is, and you get a melange of all our iconic busy places in Metro Manila. The monumental glass buildings and skyscrapers, and fancy boutique glasswindows remind you of Ayala Avenue. The corner delicatessens, the quaint coffeshops and small emporiums, and the ubiquitous hotdog stands are reminiscent of the old Cubao, just before the posh Gateway Mall was built. Oh yes, the seedy, dirty streets, the incessant scaffoldings blocking pedestrians, and  the chaotic volume of people, crisscrossing the grid streets (which then Manila Metropolitan Commission Governor Imelda Marcos wanted to impossibly copy for the layout of Metro Manila )of Manhattan implore a Quiapo feel overall.
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“I will never come back here,” another sister threatened. She is happy to stay in a quiet suburb somewhere in the midwest.
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It is not only her who seems to be disillusioned by New York City. Aside from the disarray of Manhattan, some have outrightly warned of the bedlam that happens in the Big Apple such as frequent muggings and  the saucy attitude by the New Yorkers. There was even a time when all patrons were forcibly asked  to leave a store just because it was already closing. My sister pointed out such crudeness to a store manager. The store got some rude awakening from a Detroit diva there!
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But it is the diamond in the rough that makes New York special and iconic to many of us non-New York dwellers. The Statue of Liberty at the harbor, United Nations Headquaters and the Financial District appeal to those who have romanticized the ideals of freedom, harmony and capitalism. The beaches at Hamptons, the artifacts of the numerous galleries and museums, the runway fashion shows of designers, and the explosion of architecture connect highly to the desires and senses of the erudite, the avantgarde, the sophisticated, and the moneyed from all over the globe.
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But for many of us, hoi-polloi, including me, it is the razzle-dazzle of pop culture that makes us warm with delight in the City that Never Sleeps. Aside from the music and stories that are churned out from musicals and plays of Broadway and the numerous movies which featured the city, it is the weekly and probably daily television shows, old and new, that familiarize us with a piece of New York life. Shows such as Seinfeld, Friends, and Sex in the City give the couch potatoes a weekly dose of insights regarding independence, fraternization and even perhaps fabulous urban living, aside from the quality comedic scripts that comeout from these shows. It is the involved appreciation of such shows that make travelling to this megapolis quite surreal and a definite treat for pop culture afficionados. 
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It is quite a testament to New York City, a city that has experienced trouble in the last few years, in terms of finance and security, of how it has remained on the top, for visitors and travellers passing by America.  No matter how shoddy and dirty New York is, the spotlight stays on that Big Apple.
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(lg2a) from silver to gold, from silver to blood

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, history, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, news, people with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2010 by mijodo

Precious (2009). Slumdog Millionaire (2008). Tsotsi (2005). Hotel Rwanda (2004). American Beauty (1999). Shine (1996). Strictly Ballroom (1992). Places in the Heart (1984). The Big Chill (1983). Chariots of Fire (1981).

These are some of the films which have captivated the hearts and minds of the cineastes who have come to watch such  in the Toronto International Film Festival or TIFF for almost four decades now.   Second to Cannes International Film Festival in terms of international media mileage and hoopla, TIFF awarded silverscreen flicks with the gold standard of excellence such that the results can be a barometer for Oscar wins in Hollywood. 

This year’s “seeming” Filipino entry in the festival is produced and directed by a Malaysian. A full length film, Pinoy Sunday which stars comedians Bayani Agbayani and Epy Quizon delves on a narrative of two men and a couch.  Somehow it is not sure how the audience responded to this film, but in recent years, there have been other Filipino Films which have garnered critical praises and plaudits in other international film festivals.

Moscow International Film Festival has awarded the International Critics Prize to Jeffrey Jeturian’s Kubrador (2006) which centers  on the illegal numbers game, Jueteng.  Also, the Berlin Film Festival has honored Auraeus Solito’s Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros (2005) which is on how a family of men copes tenderly on the blossoming of an effeminate gay boy in a slum environment.

The newest golden boy in Philippine cinema is Director Brillante Mendoza whose account of films gives hope and shock to the Philippine and international cinephiles. His slew of dark, bleak, and almost raw films such as Masahista (2005),  Manoro (2006), Serbis (2008) has received numerous awards and citations in different award giving bodies. But it is in Kinatay (2009) where Mendoza gets recognized as the avant garde director, and who has snatched the Best Director plum at Cannes Film Festival.

Body Heat (USA). Gallipoli (Australia). The French Lieutenant’s Woman (Great Britain). Smash Palace (New Zealand). 36 Chowringhee Lane (India). Oro, Plata, Mata (Philippines).
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These were the films which graced the defunct and much ballyhooed Manila International Film Festival (MIFF) in the early 80’s. It was a gargantuan project by Imelda Marcos who had wanted Manila as the international film market of the Far East. Again, just like any project of the Marcoses,the MIFF was seen as another whim and caprice by its project leader, Imelda.
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However just days before the MIFF was formally opened, almost 200 workers who sped up the completion of  the Manila Film Center Building at the Cultural Center of the Philippines reclamation grounds in Pasay, met their tragic ending, which news was heavily controlled by the government’s news agencies.
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Apparently, the scaffolding slab on the second floor had collapsed because of the shoddy and expedited work of the people. And the fast drying cement landed on the sleeping workers at the ground floor. Not many were able to escape catastrophe. For the few who were able to live and breathe under the rubble and cement, few had been taken out to actually survive and be brought to the hospital. There was not much time for rescue as the film festival was just days away.  There was little attempt to excavate people under the ruin. Some were left to die, and be finally covered with new cement. 
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The Manila International Film Festival did not prosper, even with the visits of then Hollywood A listers such as Brooke Shields, Jeremy Irons, and Imelda’s good friend, George Hamilton. The international film fest was staged only for two years. Years after that, blue films  were introduced without censorship and cuts in the film showings inside the Film Center. This was done to placate political rumblings in Manila.
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However such bomba pictures were said not to appease the ghosts of the construction workers inside the building premises. Imelda, and her Blue Ladies had even asked knowledgeable spiritual  advisors from Northern Mountain provinces to exorcise the haunted building of such malevelont dwellers, ready to avenge their untimely deaths.  One witness even mentioned that the ceremony had used live chickens and blood to cast out the restless spirits.
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Strange rumors had been active then, right after inauguration. The accidental Tagaytay death of Betty Benitez, one of the active handlers of the film festival, was seen as a seeming result of such payback.
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Had it been responsibly handled, MIFF could have been another prestigious film festival such as the ones in Toronto or even Cannes. However what remains of the Parthenon like – Film Center is just a reminder of a cavernous, sick excesses of the past and its proponent.

wedding of the year

Posted in architecture, artifacts, events, fashion, history, lifestyle, locales, people, religion, sports, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2009 by mijodo

sta monica church of sarrat 

The story could have come from a tv soap opera in epic proportion.

A story of strong political couple, willfully ruling a place for some decades, with a vision of creating a perfect  familial image.

In the early 1980s, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos might have  tried mightily to control the minds of the Filipinos from their Malacanang Palace, but surely enough, they were not able to restrain the heart of their first daughter, Imee.

Apparently, Imee, who was already making her own political mark, as National Chairperson of the Kabataang Barangay, fell in love with a married sportsman, Tommy Manotoc. Obviously, during that time when there were no cellphones, no text messaging, no emails, and even no freedom of the press, such salacious, portently scandalous story would have to be spread through hushed tones, and word of mouth.

And the story took a wilder, more frighteningly turn.  Tommy Manotoc was kidnapped. The alternative press such as We Forum, the precursor of Malaya Newspaper, had a heyday reporting the story, albeit there was a strong possibility of the paper being clamped down by Malacanang. Then all of a sudden Tommy Manotoc just came out of nowhere, reportedly from the New People’s Army camp in the mountains of Sierra Madre. But of course, the popular conclusion about this sordid tale was that Imelda masterminded the abduction.

Some years later, during in first few months of 1983, the youngest daughter, Irene would marry Greggy of the pedigreed and landed Araneta clan. Although Imee could maintain relationship with Tommy, and even start family of their own, they were not able to get the grand nuptials that the Marcoses wanted for them. Tommy who was able to get a divorce from beauty queen Aurora Pijuan could not merit another marriage as the Catholic Church would not allow such. Thus this time around, the Marcoses saw to it that a fabulous wedding would have to be prepared for Irene and Greggy.

Ryan Cayabyab, Irene’s personal friend and musical mentor from University of the Philippines, involved himself in composing a whole wedding cantata.  European designer Renato Balestra was tasked to do the Italian silk and Philippine pina cloth wedding gown.  The exclusive, and red bricked Fort Ilocandia Hotel in Laoag was rushed to beat the nuptial date deadline, as it was where many of the invited foreign dignitaries, esteemed government officials and chic members of the society would stay before, during and after the wedding. It was also the venue for the reception.

And of course, Irene and Greggy chose the heritage church of  the sleepy town of Sarrat, where the Edralin side (mother) of Ferdinand Marcos came from, and where the ancestral house still stands. The Baroque and Neo Classical Sta. Monica Church had to be cleaned up, spruced and refurbished for the wedding.  Hundreds were deployed to paint the walls of the edifice, and install large airconditioning  machines in the cavernous church building. And beside the church,  a huge tent was put up for the town’s local officials and people who might  not have the necessary credentials and status to get inside the official reception area, and yet should partake in the lavish food prepared.

True enough, it was the grand social event of that year for the Philippines as  the Marcoses, particularly Imelda would have envisioned. The local press put the event as the banner story, and paralleled it with the Diana and Charles’s royal wedding, a year before.

Some months later in  August, 1983, a strong earthquake shook the church. And some days later, again in August, Ninoy Aquino arrived and shook the Marcoses. And the seeming  telenovela story continued.

CCP: An Opus of 40 Years and More!

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, history, locales with tags , , , , , on April 17, 2009 by mijodo

 

curtain call for the "sleeping beauty" excerpt at ccp

(Author’s Note: Ms. Imelda Marcos seems to be in the glare of media again, owing to her inclusion in Newsweek’s greediest people. She may be notorious to many, but somehow she has made true contribution to Philippine Art and Culture through the development of CCP. After the postings on the Pasinaya to commence on CCP’s 40th year celebration (https://letsgopinas.wordpress.com/2009/02/05/fostering-a-renaissance/ ), and gallery of CCP’s art collection (https://letsgopinas.wordpress.com/2009/02/27/the-repository/), a posting is finally given to show a glimpse on the colorful history and background of CCP.)

 

 

“In that site, I will build the Cultural Center of the Philippines,” the First Lady Imelda Marcos said with pride to a foreign guest dignitary while on board a presidential automobile along the then Dewey Boulevard (Roxas Boulevard).

 

But the dignitary only saw the open waters of a bay. “How is that possible?” he muttered.

 

“Haven’t you heard of reclamation?” Imelda retorted back.

 

The whole scenario supposedly rang true more than four decades ago when Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos thought themselves as the Filipino mythic figures of “Malakas and Maganda.” (The Strong and The Beautiful”)  During this time, the Marcoses wittingly or unwittingly, started to develop personas which have been open targets of the political opposition and rebels. Ferdinand strengthened his cult like image through heavy handed or even dictatorial rule while Imelda took care of the supposed soul of the Filipino through artistic and cultural activities which some said were merely her eccentricities and caprices.

 

Imelda had a vision of putting up a national center for arts which was congruent with her favorite maxim during the later years of the Marcos Rule – “the true, the good, and the beautiful.”  But even in the early years of constructing the main theater of the CCP, many, particularly from the left leaning groups saw the whole project as extravagant whim and a total waste of government fund. The whole idea was seen as a symbol of profligacy and Marcos dictatorial ascendancy amidst the wasting economy and socio-political hardships.

 

But there was no stopping in creating a magnificent edifice above the waters of Manila Bay, as designed by National Artist Leandro Locsin.  The Main Theater was just part of the whole reclamation complex. In later years, Philippine International Convention Center, Folk Arts Center, and the Manila Film Center were erected under the helm of Imelda Marcos.

 

Although it was heavily criticized, CCP was able to showcase Filipino talents in a world class theater surroundings. Prodigies like pianist Cecille Licad were developed and honed under the auspices of CCP. Different dance companies in ballet and folkdancing were housed in CCP. Resident theater groups performing Filipino originals or foreign plays and musicals which were translated in Filipino language have been put up. During Imelda’s time, there was much dancing, singing and acting inside the different theaters of CCP. Art was buzzing although it could be said that art about politics and against the Marcoses was clearly suppressed.

 

As the Marcos regime abruptly ended in the middle 80s, the subsidy and support for the CCP from the next administrations have dwindled significantly. Art in general took a back seat in the agenda of the chief executives and partner spouses. CCP was on its own; it had to create its own finances which should support a plethora of plans and developments even if the interest of the audience has shifted to popular films, television and even malling.

 

Now CCP needs to become more relevant to the times, and try to appeal to an audience who might not be as highbrow as before and might not be as passionate as before. Hoping it can still develop a young appreciative audience at times CCP like any Filipino art and theater groups today, has to bargain their ticket prices and “coerce” elementary and highschool students to watch a performance,

 

Yet CCP is surviving and has thankfully reached its 40th year of existence.  CCP celebrates with a series of  special shows and programs and even gives a tribute to its foundress and true patron, Imelda Marcos entitled “Dahil sa ‘Yo” (Because of You), apparently the title as well of her favorite song.  Despite the gloom of the world economic crisis, and diminishing priorities of the Filipino family on traditional art, CCP forges on – tapping on the intrinsic musicality, the artistic brilliance, and healthy dose of  enthusiasm and liveliness of the Filipinos. Take a bow, CCP.