“I really should have known better.” I told myself after that hell of a night.

 

Time flies. I hope memories fly away with them too.

 

People change. I hope I change that fast as well.

 

And they forget. I hope I never knew you in the first place.

 

Four years in vain. Oh no, wait, that was six. Yeah six years. I hope…I really hope I’d stop counting soon.

 

Damn it.

Sa labas ng Plaridel Hall. Habang naghihintay sa ibang kasama.

 

“O, dito ka pala?! Ano course mo?”

“Ah BroadComm ako. Dito rin ate ko, ComRes siya,” ani ng dati kong kaeskwela.

“Talaga? Ang galing naman,” sagot ko nang abot tenga ang ngiti.

Sa isip-isip ko, “wow, ComRes sa UP! Astig nun! Kami kasi sa PUP nagsisimula pa lang. Sa UP matagal nang established ang course at madugo nga daw talaga sa UP. Marami kaming matutunan sa kanila lalo na sa thesis writing.”

“ComRes din ako! Sa PUP naman!” dagdag ko. Syempre, proud din ako sa course at school ko. At naexcite talaga ako!

Sabay tingin siya sa ‘kin at sinabing, “Eh siya UP.”

 

End of conversation.

Bahagyang nalungkot at nainis ako. Uwi na lang.

“It must be a lonely journey that I can’t imagine. Intently going forward only through darkness. ”

– Takaki Tohno

A film full of subtlety, of unspoken words and of concealed emotions- this is how I would describe 5 Centimeters Per Second. A Japanese feature film by Makoto Shinkai, which is only about 62 minutes long, it is composed of three interconnected segments revolving on the life story of Takaki Tohno. It is set in Japan in 1990 until 2007 (the year the film was created), from the time where the only means of communication for people living far apart is snail mail until the time cellular phones became a big hit.

The first part is entitled Cherry Blossoms, the second Cosmonaut and the last, 5 Centimeters Per Second. Yet again, I am amazed at how the creators of this animated film perfectly captured human actions, even the tiniest movement, e.g. when you’re talking with someone special, how you react and how you move your hands and feet were present. Also the background presentation is very detailed. It’s just amazing.

Tohno and Akari were the main stars in the 1st part of the film entitled Cherry Blossoms. It started when they were in elementary school. Takaki-kun (as Akari would like to call him), quickly became friends with Akari. Since both were not that into ground activities, they spend most of their times in the library (and with that, I fell in love with their characters right away. Book lovers unite!), reading and exchanging thoughts about the stories they’ve read. I specifically like the part where they were shown eating and having a fun time chatting at McDonalds. It’s very relatable to a lot of people I’m sure.

So they grew closer each day, until Akari had to move due to her parents’ work. She transferred to another school leaving Takaki behind. However, Takaki learned one day that his family will also have to move to a farther town which is Kagoshima. So he decided to meet Akari in person, who’s living in Tochigi, before their move. The travel time to Akari’s station was agonizing. The train was delayed for hours due to the heavy snow. They were supposed to meet at seven in the evening in Iwafune station but Takaki arrived past 11 that night. He wished Akari would just go home then but he was surprised to see her waiting at the station for him.

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Akari cried upon seeing him. It was such a precious moment for the two – being able to meet again despite the distance and all the obstacles. I was happy when I saw them together again. True enough; the sadness didn’t last long because they were finally able to spend quality time with each other. Akari made snacks for him and since it was very late, Takaki couldn’t go home that night anymore. They were 13 years old then. That very night, they also shared their first kiss under a withered Cherry Blossom Tree.

In the second chapter, Cosmonaut, we see the addition of a new girl character that goes by the name Kanae Sumita. She’s a girl who’s been loving Takaki Tohno from a distance. Even though she gets to be with him almost every day in school and after school, it seems as if Tohno-kun (as how Kanae would call him) is not really with her to begin with. Tohno has his thoughts set on something so distant. This line from Kanae perfectly captured how she feels towards Tohno.

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“Tohno-kun is very kind. But he’s always looking at something far away that I can see. My wish won’t be granted. Even so, I…I like Tohno-kun even after today, the day after tomorrow, forever. Only Tohno-kun is on my mind as I fall asleep.” – Kanae Sumita

I love the fact that Kanae didn’t push Tohno to like her. She didn’t look desperate at all to me but at the same time I can feel how she treasures Tohno so much to the point that she felt afraid of the latter being so kind to her. I mean when someone you like treats you well, it’s scary, right? We’re afraid to fall for that person because we knew that our love wouldn’t be reciprocated and we’ll just end crying and being hurt. It’s human nature to feel that way and I’m sure a lot of people were able to relate to her character as well.

The last part, 5 Centimeters Per Second is definitely my favorite part. Akari is back. She’s back and is now preparing to get married…to someone else. Takaki is shown living in Tokyo, working as a computer programmer. It appears that he was able to get a very stable job (after graduating from University of Tokyo) but still, he felt empty. These lines from him perfectly describe what he went through in college and after it.

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“During the past few years, I just kept moving forward, wanting something. This feeling that I get almost feels life threatening. I just keep working without knowing where this feeling is coming from. It was painful for me when I realized that my heart loses motivation as the days pass by. One day, when I realized that the feeling I took seriously vanished…and when I reached my limits, I resigned from my job.”  – Takaki Tohno

It’s very evident that Takaki is still attached to Akari. Somehow he is. He also seems lost. He just goes to work on a daily basis, even render overtime, without a clear goal in mind and without realizing that he’s just exhausting all his youthful energy…for what? It was all in vain.

I’m very happy that towards the end of the film though, I saw Takaki Tohno smile again. Even though he didn’t really get to see Akari (which was so close if only Akari stayed a bit longer and waited for the train to pass), he still managed to smile and I can say that that is a sign of someone who’s now ready to move on. I think that was the best scene that I’ve seen Takaki in.

Takaki

Watching this movie made me feel sad, depressed and happy to some extent. It brought back a lot of memories – good and bad memories. I didn’t really have someone like Takaki Tohno when I was in elementary or high school. In college though, I did have someone I considered special. He made my four years in the university bittersweet (and even the two to three years after that). I experienced a lot of ups and downs in terms of academics and in terms of my relationships – with friends and with him. I developed affection for him, I grew loving him for about six years, only to find out one night…that he’s already in a relationship…with a friend of mine. (Sorry for sounding bitter. I guess I’ve already accepted the fact that he’s with somebody else now, but the pain hasn’t really left yet. This is so long overdue!)

Going back to the film, the good thing with Akari and Takaki is that at one point, they felt the same way. They both knew that they love each other. It’s just that they can’t be together for reasons people may find hard to understand. I guess I’m one of those people. Days have passed after watching this film and I still find myself asking why. Why didn’t they exert more effort to keep their love alive?

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It must be a lonely journey that I can’t imagine. Intently going forward only through darkness. Even one hydrogen atom is difficult to find. Only believing that there must be something at the edge of the world. With that thought, how far can we go? How far…can we go? – Takaki Tohno

They love each other and they wanted to be together but they can’t. I thought to myself, why didn’t they just get in touch through SMS or whatever social networking sites available that time and just find a way to still see each other, because if you really want it, if you really want something that bad, you’ll do everything in your power to get it, right? But why?

The story itself and the presentation were beyond brilliant, this I’m certain. It’s just that the feels is overwhelming now (and I’ve watched this film for about three times). Not to forget the main characters in the story – all three of them Takaki, Akari and Sumita fit this film very well and how they were brought into life by the creators is something that I am very grateful for.

In the end, that’s just the way it is. This film showed us that some people are destined to fall in love and be together, some are destined to fall in love and separate eventually. Some move on after months, some after years and some, never really move on.

Love is the sweetest thing that can ever happen to us. How can such thing be the cause of our pain? Of our misery? Even of our death? Well just because.

Before ending this blog, I’d like to share the ending theme of this movie. Definitely one of the best OST I’ve heard by far! Read through the lyrics. 🙂

 

(Photos not mine, credits to their rightful owners)

Thank you so much to this blogging community!

I’ve learned a lot and met a lot of people as well. I’m excited for this New Year 2016. Will definitely keep on reading, writing and sharing. 🙂

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,500 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

“Mahal mo ba ako? Mahal mo pa ba ako? Minamahal mo ba ako?

Hindi mo alam?

Minahal kita. Mahal pa rin kita. Minamahal kita. Tatlong bagay lang sa mundo ang alam ko sa mga sandaling ito.”

–  SI ni Bob Ong

Aaminin ko, medyo naguluhan ako sa ilang bahagi ng istorya. Wala akong binasa o nabasang review patungkol sa nobelang ‘to kaya hindi ko rin alam kung ano ang i-eexpect. Ang alam ko lang, kailangan ko itong basahin. Bilang masugid na tagabasa ng mga libro ni Bob Ong, hindi pwedeng palagpasin ko ang isang ito.

Nasa ¼ na yata ako nang marealize kong baliktad pala ang takbo ng kwento, paurong at hindi pasulong. May ilang flashbacks din patungkol sa pinagdaanan ng ilang karakter sa istorya. Sa kabuuan, pakiramdam ko nag– time travel talaga ako habang binabasa itong akda ni Bob Ong.

Magaling at matalino ang pagkakasulat niya. Hindi conversational ang mga pahayag kaya parang bumalik na rin ako sa sinaunang panahon habang binabasa ito, sa panahon nila Maria Clara. Puno ng metapora ang mga pahayag ngunit hindi naman ito sumobra para hindi na rin maumay ang mambabasa. Magandang nakakabasa ng ganitong uri ng pagsulat paminsan-minsan. Mapapaisip ka eh. You have to read between the lines to fully understand what the author is trying to imply.

Gustong-gusto ko iyong kwento ng pag-iibigan nila Victoria at ni…hmmm, hindi ko yata nakuha ang pangalan ng bidang lalaki dito sa aklat ni Bob Ong.( Meron bang nakasulat? Sabi na eh, kaya parang may kulang sa mga detalyeng naglalaro sa utak ko ngayon.)

Hayaan na. Balik tayo sa kwento ng pag-iibigan ng dalawang bida sa istoryang ito. Panigurado ang daming nakarelate sa ilang bahagi ng kwento. Marami ring nasaktan nang mabasa kung paano ‘naghiwalay’, nagkitang muli at nagkasakitan lang ulit ang dalawa. Panigurado, marami ring natuwa habang binabasa kung paano naganap ang kasalan nila, kung paano nila ipinagdiwang ang kaarawan nila nang magkasama, kung paanong naipakikita pa rin nila kahit sa harap ng publiko kung gaano nila kamahal ang isa’t-isa at kung paanong hinarap nila ang lahat ng mga pagsubok nang buo ang paniniwala at pananalig sa Diyos. Nakakatuwa na inihayag sa kwento kung gaano kaimportante ang pananalig sa Maykapal. Totoo nga’t malupit ang mundo, pero ang Diyos, hinding-hindi Siya magiging malupit sa atin. Sa kabila ng lahat ng problema, makakaasa tayo na lagi Siyang nandiyan para bigyan tayo ng lakas, para tulungan tayo.

Ang pinakapaboritong bahaging nabasa ko rito ay iyong liham ni Rita kay Juliano, anak nila Victoria. Ito ang nilalaman ng liham:

“Hindi ka na dapat magulat. This is for the best. You know I love you and care for you. And I gave my all for this relationship to work. But I can only do so much. This is where I draw the line. After all the movies missed, forgotten occasions, places we could have gone to, adventures we could have had, and love, dreams and moments we could’ve shared and enjoyed together, I’m finally getting a clue. You’re a smart person, but you’re devoid of love. You don’t know love. You don’t know anything at all about love. I’m sorry. I truly am. We started right. Pero mahirap pala talagang magmahal ng taong hindi marunong magmahal.”

Kuhang-kuha ni Bob Ong ang sentimyento ng isang kasintahang ‘tila hindi nabibigyan ng oras at sapat na pansin ng nobyo. Totoo naman kasi. Ganito naman kasi talaga ang maraming kababaihan, kahit na ako eh. Gusto natin na madalas kasama ang kasintahan. Na may oras palagi tuwing Sabado o Linggo para lumabas o kaya ay tumambay lang sa bahay ng isa. ‘Yun nga lang may mas malalim na dahilan kung bakit hindi mailaan ni Juliano ang lahat ng oras niya para sa nobya. Ewan. Nasaktan ako sa bahaging ito. Sino ba naman ang hindi maaapektuhan ‘pag sinabihan ka ng You don’t know love. You don’t know anything at all about love.” Eh dahil nga sa pag-ibig kaya nabubuhay ang tao, tapos sasabihan ka ng ganoon. Ang sakit hindi ba?

Sa isang relasyon kasi kailangan mayroong isang mas nakakaintindi, mas nagbibigay. Oo mahal niyo nga ang isa’t-isa pero hindi pa rin mawawala ang inyong pagkakaiba. Pareho kayong nagmamahal, pero malabong maging pareho kayo sa paraan ng pagpapakita ng inyong pagmamahal. Opinyon lang naman. (Pero ibang usapan na ‘pag may isang nanloko ha. Ibang usapan na talaga ‘yun!)

Natuwa ako sa binasa ko! Sulit ang ginastos ko at ang oras na inilaan ko para basahin ito. Hindi rin ito ang huli dahil gusto ko at kailangan kong basahin ‘to ulit. Marami pa akong gustong maintindihan sa mga isinulat ni Bob Ong. Dahil paurong nga ang kwento, magandang magkaroon ng ‘recall’ sa mga nabasa na para naman hindi na ‘ko malito pagdating sa mga susunod na pahina. 🙂

Isa pang nakakatuwa noong binabasa ko ito, gumagana talaga ang imahinasyon ko. Kung paano naganap ang kasal, kung paano naganap ang kanilang unang pagkikita, ang kanilang paghihiwalay at marami pang iba. Kaya mas lalo ko talagang na-enjoy ang istorya! Salamat Bob Ong!! Husay mo talaga! Gustong-gusto ko talaga ang iyong istilo ng pagsusulat! Patuloy kitang susuportahan! ‘Wag kang magsasawang magsulat ha at magbahagi ng iyong mga kwento. Hanggang sa muli! 🙂

 

Why do fireflies die so soon?

– Setsuko

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It’s been about nine months since I last watched a Studio Ghibli film. What better way to start being in the zone again than by watching Grave of the Fireflies– another Studio Ghibli production, this time written and directed by Isao Takahata.

Grave of the Fireflies is based on the 1967 semi-autobiographical short story of the same title by Akiyu Nosaka. The film revolves on the story of two siblings, Seita and Setsuko, during the final period of the Second World War where they struggled to survive on their own. The film is also set in Kobe, Japan – a city which has also been greatly destroyed during World War II.

The film opens with Seita being seen slowly dying of starvation (this is set at Sannomiya Station on the 21st of September 1945 which is shortly after the end of World War II). A janitor in the train station then started digging into Seita’s body and found a candy tin in his pocket. He threw it away and from there, Setsuko’s spirit, Seita’s younger sister, appeared. Seita then starts narrating the story and goes back to March 16-17, 1945.

Watching the film itself is depressing. Seita, a 15-year old kid had to grow up quickly in order to support his 4-year old sister, Setsuko. At a very young age, they had to experience the pain of losing everything, especially their parents, in a war they have no involvement with in the first place. At a very young age, they had to experience rejections from their relatives and from the society they belong to. I guess this is what war does to a person right? Some people because they too have nothing to spare themselves become callous, become robots with no sympathy at all towards the likes of Seita and Setsuko.

One of the most heartbreaking scenes for me was when Seita saw his dying mom, completely wrapped in bandages with an arm cut off and had nothing else to say to him but a silent goodbye. Seita, who’s only a minor, had to witness sensitive scenes like that because he had to, because the war forced him to. I just couldn’t imagine the emotional burden he had to bare.

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It was also very devastating to see a young girl, slowly succumb to illness. Seita did what he could to save his sister, but in the end, he too, lost his own battle. I can’t forget the part where he asked a doctor’s help, but that doctor just heartlessly ignored his plea.   Seita’s reaction upon seeing his sister hallucinating was also heartbreaking. The pain of seeing your love one dying and the fact that you just couldn’t do anything about it is immeasurable.

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On the other hand, what’s admirable about this kind of animated film is its capability to capture human emotions in a very realistic manner. Those minute details that when put together give the film a realistic feel is something worth mentioning- Setsuko fidgeting upon knowing she can’t see her mom ‘yet’, Seita’s reaction when she saw her sister hallucinating, those quiet moments when the siblings are just sitting side by side like that in the train enjoying their ride; those reactions of awe, amazement, sadness, someone who’s trying to hold back his tears, Studio Ghibli was able to capture it all.

This film did show the bright and dark side of humanity and I couldn’t agree more with Akiyu Nosaka when he declined to have a live action version for this film.

“Grave of the Fireflies author Akiyuki Nosaka said that many offers had been made to create a film version of Grave of the Fireflies.[4] Nosaka argued that “[i]t was impossible to create the barren, scorched earth that’s to be the backdrop of the story.” He also argued that contemporary children would not be able to convincingly play the characters. Nosaka expressed surprise when an animated version was offered. After seeing the storyboards, Nosaka concluded that it was not possible for such a story to have been made in any method other than animation and expressed surprise in how accurately the rice paddies and townscape were depicted.(Grave of the Fireflies, Development, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grave_of_the_Fireflies)

(Although there were live action versions eventually released in 2005 in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II and another one in 2008. I’ve tried watching the former but the effects are just too obvious in this one, hence, it doesn’t feel as ‘authentic’ as the animated version.)

Overall, I’d rate this film 9 out of 10. Each film has a flaw of its own but this one is near perfect for me because the creator had been courageous, bold and accurate enough in showing how harsh and how ‘evil’ people can be when they are pushed to their limit, when they are left with almost nothing and most importantly, how the love of a family is more than enough to ‘survive’ in spite of all the hardships in life. My heartfelt gratitude to Akiyu Nosaka and the whole of Studio Ghibli for bringing such a great film to life!

(Photos not mine, credits to their rightful owners)

I entered the cinema knowing what to expect. I left feeling like an idiot, totally devastated. I never knew General Luna’s sacrifices to this extent. I never knew his death was THAT horrible. I cried like a little child feeling guilty for not knowing about it, feeling stupid for looking up to that one person whom I thought genuinely cared for our motherland, and feeling angry that such things had to happen in the name of politics, business and this so-called male ego.

Towards the end of the film, I was controlling my emotions. I wanted to shout “Patay na, pinapatay niyo pa!! Mga walang awa!!” but I can’t because it’s not ethical to do so in the cinema. But seriously, I never thought General Luna died that way. I never thought that such Filipinos will have the balls to do it to their very own general.

Pinatay na nga, tinaga-taga pa na parang baboy tapos pinagnakawan pa. Yes, these very people robbed a dead man! What makes me angrier is the fact that his death and that of his comrade was left untapped, no arrests were made and not even a formal investigation was initiated. That’s the most cruel part right there – knowing a Filipino General was murdered in his very own land where justice should be for everyone, but in his case, this justice was never served.

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On a lighter note, I was very grateful to be able to witness this film. I was also very happy to be able to watch it in the big screen with a huge audience (I didn’t expect the audience turnout would be this big, particularly in SM Marilao. It was such a great sight!). It’s indeed a one of a kind film that deserves our all-out support. This is the kind of film that we should be seeing more, that we should be investing our money and time on. We all need to see more films like Heneral Luna to ignite our nationalism, to wake us all up in the reality that those atrocious things can happen to innocent people, to the real Makabayans if we will continue on being blinded and being swayed by the promises of ‘con artists’.

I’ve learned a lot from watching this film. As I have mentioned earlier, I knew nothing about Heneral Luna’s sacrifices and horrible death. It wasn’t taught in school (as far as I can remember) and I never had a teacher who really went that far in sharing the life of General Luna. I can only remember about a professor in college going the extra mile in sharing everything he knows about Andres Bonifacio, whom I believe is one of the greatest heroes the Philippines ever had. But as for General Antonio Luna, yeah, this film served as an educational material for me. I’m 26 and I’m still definitely learning. This movie made me more interested in Philippine History. It made me want to know more about our country, our culture, our heroes and our forgotten and even dark past.

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As what other people have said, this movie is brutally honest. Indeed, it is BRUTALLY HONEST. When I went out of the cinema, I was bombarded with a lot of thoughts- positive and negative ones. I thought to myself, it’s a big risk to release such film to the public, to make it open for critics, to make it a subject of everyone’s opinions. As we can see, the film showed the dark history of the Philippines, of the Filipinos. It’s not a good thing to show that side to the world. But then again I realized that even though the truth hurts, the truth sucks, the truth will always set us free. Such a cliché, yes, but I’m happy that the mind behind this masterpiece had the guts to write and share this compelling story, based of course on facts. Director Jerrold Tarog definitely did an amazing job in this film. I’m happy and yet again very grateful.

The actors are worth mentioning as well. John Arcilla did justice to his role as General Antonio Luna. Same goes for Mon Confiado as President Emilio Aguinaldo, Epi Quizon as Prime Minister Apolinario Mabini,  Joem Bascon as Col. Paco Roman, Archie Alemania as Captain Eduardo Rusca, Art Acuña as Col. Manuel Bernal, Alex Medina as Capt. José Bernal and the rest of the casts. They all fit well into their roles. I’m sure that some of them had second thoughts in accepting the project, that’s why I would also like to sincerely thank them for bringing these people into life through the film Heneral Luna.

Otto von Bismarck, a German Chancellor, once said, ‘A fool learns from his mistakes, but a truly wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

We Filipinos have to be wise. Although it’s hard, I’m sure we can go against the history-repeats-itself mantra. With awareness comes realization of responsibilities that we have to carry out. It should be a collective effort though. We have to know what is right and stand our ground, just like what General Luna did ‘til his very last breath.

What can we do as citizens of the country then? The national elections is less than a year away. A lot of politicians are now courting us Filipinos for our precious votes. We have to be wise in choosing who to vote for. Let’s all remember, no one can serve two masters at the same time. Which politician wants to serve only the Filipino people? Which politician is hiding under this cloak of being a Filipino just so he can win the votes of the majority? Which politician will have the balls to fight for the sake of our country, even if it means disagreeing to the most powerful person/ nation in the world? Which politician will truly be the leader of the Philippines? (This is one of my dilemmas at the moment, I’m really having a hard time deciding who to vote for. I only have one vote, we only have one vote, so let’s not waste it.)

The youth of today can’t do what General Luna did but we can still follow his examples in our own little ways. Let’s stand for the truth. Let’s fight for our country. Let’s be the best citizens for our Motherland. I’m sure we’re all capable of doing that. 🙂

Long live the Philippines! Can’t wait to watch more films like Heneral Luna!

(Photos used are not mine, credits to Heneral Luna Official Facebook Page- https://www.facebook.com/Heneral.Luna?fref=ts )