Forest for the Trees

June 14, 2010 at 1:09 am | Posted in Melancholia | 14 Comments

Wow, a lot of things have happened this week, something that’s usually done in a process of weeks, months or even years just happened in a matter of a week, and I just might need to find some time to fully absorb it. And I love it. Now, I’ll definitely have no time for anything else besides what I’m already tied up with, part-time work and gym.

I am going to deal with life just the way the heroine in the German film Forest for the Trees, Melanie, decides to deal with hers in the end, by figuratively letting the car she’s been driving take its course by itself and moving from the driver’s seat to one of the backseats. I was half-expecting for the ending to be something tragic and poetic at the same time but, instead, everything’s all serene once she’s decided that she shouldn’t take too much control of her life anymore. She now feels a whole lot better, and everything for the moment seem to be in place. The ambiguous ending can also be simply interpreted as Eva’s suicide, but I don’t think this is the case as there is no sense of tragedy when she decides to step into the backseat.

Poor Melanie. I just want to give you a hug. You deserve a hug and lots more :(.

Prior to the ending, Melanie tries so hard to adjust to the new community she’s in. Being by herself and this being her first time on her job as a teacher, she tries so hard to get the students’ attention, make friends with her neighbor, and do her best as a teacher. But things don’t go the way she wants them to. The students bully her and treat her badly, her neighbor, whom she stubbornly wants to be friends with, doesn’t want her companionship or friendship and doesn’t want to harshly break it in to Eva, and her fellow teachers think of her, how she deals with her students, as an utter mess. Whenever Eva means well, her actions are perceived to be of malicious intent, and we, the audience, can’t help wanting her to do better in the harsh game of life but the filmmakers don’t want to give us that, they want to show the harsh realities. Eva’s socially awkward and lonely. She can be a bit pathetic and strange, sometimes. But she’s only human, like the rest of us. We’ve had our share of her moments.

Sure, in real life, if she were to go away from the driver’s seat and stop controlling the car, the car would move all haywire along the road and eventually hit something else and she would suffer a fatal crash. But in the film, the car still goes smoothly, taking her wherever the path takes her to.

So, I shall just let life take its flow, taking a few risky decisions along the run but never really trying so hard to take control of it or take charge as we have to realize we have no power over life itself, over our own environment. The best we can do is, sit back and relax, let everything take its course on its right time, deal with it when tough gets tougher, and don’t dwell too much on what’s been done and what can’t be undone.

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Soy espiritual.

April 21, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Posted in Melancholia | 15 Comments

I’m still alive. Don’t think you’ll be able to get rid of me that easily. It’s just that I’ve been busy during my final week of school. I still have one more exam left but that’s not until Friday. And after today’s Statistics exam, I have finally accepted that I’m not good at math. Wait, that’s an understatement. I suck at math. Or, I could just easily blame it on the online course and how the professor chose the most obscure questions, resulting to my confusion and dumbfoundment, but I would be kidding myself.

Anyway, I didn’t come back here just to talk about school. Last week, I believe, I was on my way home in the subway train sitting, feeling pretty, and reading Mysterious Skin (I just finished it and the ending is as devastating as it is in the film adaptation) when I overheard a brief conversation between two people of Spanish descent which was abruptly cut short since the other had to get off at the next subway station. And apparently, they were strangers to each other as they just exchanged names before the other left.

I will be, of course, paraphrasing here as my memory’s not that good anymore, kids. Here’s what I remembered from the conversation:

“No soy religioso. Soy espiritual.” (I don’t speak Spanish but I don’t think you need to just to know what this means)
“The way I see it, religions just set a lot of barriers and restraints. And that’s where the problems come in.”
“Being spiritual, I have more freedom. The sky’s the limit. I can soar like a bird.”
“Like a phoenix.”

Yes, the soaring-like-a-bird is such a cliche. That’s the exact figurative speech that they used but I couldn’t agree more. I couldn’t have said it any better towards another person, only I am neither religious nor spiritual.

Hey, I am the last person whom you should accuse of being against religious practices and traditions. My dogma is, as long as what you do doesn’t involve inflicting long-lasting physical/mental/emotional pain on others or any form of repression, I’m all for it. But I can’t help but think that most people join organized religions out of tradition and routine. Religions give some reassurance and order to their lives, that, no matter what changes in their lives, this will always remain constant. There is no ambiguities in religions. What it says in the scriptures, that’s the way it’s going to be. Organized religions have a firm standing on what they believe in, sometimes to the point of stubbornness. People like the idea of order when the truth is, there is no such thing. Let’s just try to seek inner peace, rather than try to maintain order in our lives.

Just being spiritual without belonging to any religious organization or without labelling yourself, the way I see it, is more ambiguous and indefinite, the way it should be. Just the way life is: uncertain and enigmatic. Instead of saying “I don’t eat this because my religion says so” or “I don’t do that because my religion says it’s sodomy”, you say something along the lines of “I don’t eat meat because I reject to eat something that’s been a living thing before” or “I don’t do this because it doesn’t tune in with my own personal beliefs.”

Although I’m the kind of person who is quite logical and believes only in the existence of something once I see it with my own eyes, I’d like to believe that there is some other world out there, that there’s an afterlife. Maybe out there, there really is a Supreme Being, I don’t know, we don’t know. I believe the Supreme Being is more forgiving, more accepting, and less judgmental of people. With something that is ambiguous and that has no real and tangible evidence, perhaps having a firm and unyielding viewpoint on religion, afterlife, and the origin of life is not necessary. And I would like to believe that, not having to tie myself on any specific religion.

A fussy and irritable father

April 13, 2010 at 9:43 pm | Posted in Melancholia | 10 Comments

Instead of working on an assignment due this Thursday even though I know that I won’t be able to find time to do this tomorrow, I decided to watch Mike de Leon’s Kisapmata. Which makes me feel happy about my decision since the film is, if not enjoyable, awesome (I don’t think a film about a tyrannical, psychopathic father can ever be called enjoyable). If I did my assignment instead, I would be so bored to death with business strategies blah blah blah. I just make up crap anyway. As long as I sound like I know what I’m talking about, they give me grades that are satisfying enough, considering the lack of effort on my part.

“Bigyan niyo po kami, bigyan niyo po kami ng tinapay.”

I digress. If Mike de Leon’s Batch ’81 is about the torments of college fraternities (and Kakabakaba Ka Ba? is about Chinese gangsters, yakuzas and singing nuns, hehe), Kisapmata is about the tyranny of patriarchy. Charo Santos’ father goes beyond his role as just a father (and as a husband), way overboard, stopping his newlywed daughter from having a proper honeymoon, accompanying the couple on their dates even to the point of watching a movie at the theatres with them (Awkward…), forcing the couple to reside at his house, and even imposing time curfews on them. The domineering man is somehow able to intimidate and control, put fears in the minds of, her daughter, the daughter’s husband, her wife (Charito Solis), the maid and almost everyone else. What a fucking psychopath.

Our patriarchal society has been able to create such monsters who seem to think that men have authority over all the other members in the family and that they always have to be dominant and in control. That their sons, not their daughters, need to take their place and continue the bloodline. Of course, not all fathers are like that. But, in some way or form, most of them seem to have this ridiculous idea that they, and they only, are the heads of the household. “Hangga’t andito ka sa pamamahay ko na to, ako pa rin ang masusunod.” Notice how they only refer to themselves as the owners of their homes, excluding their wives. The foolish idea that their wives are just there for support. Hence, her position in the dinner table being beside the husband who is seated at the center. Not much has really changed, I tell you.

My father? Not exactly tyrannical and arrogant. But fussy and hot-tempered. He gets all worked up over the simplest things. He gets easily annoyed at most of my rash and hasty movements at home or elsewhere. He tries to pinpoint and correct every single flaw I have. Sometimes when he is around, I try to carefully watch every action I take just so he won’t get irritated and scold me for it. Sometimes, there is just no way you can ever please him. He’ll always find something that is wrong. Oh, the mess in your room. Oh, that little dirty spot on the floor that you forgot to clean. Being the grouchy and complaining person I am, I always get myself caught in arguments with him. If he gets overly mad at me, he won’t talk to me, directing all his orders and comments about me to my sister instead, for the whole day until I apologize. Apparently, it’s always my fault. And even if the reason why we argued in the first place was so petty and silly, I still say sorry just because I can’t stand it.

Then, there’s my mother who’s always on his side. Trying to indulge and excuse his faults and flaws, telling me that he just can’t express his feelings most of the time (well, let him himself express his own true feelings, his soft spot, for a change), and explaining that his unreasonable behavior and bad mood are due to his stress from work. Yeah, right.

But just like how I also acknowledge my own flaws and mistakes, I should also acknowledge the good things in him. He knows how to cook and sew(!). Hah, beat that. He did have a soft spot for the teledrama series Pangako Sa ‘Yo. Not that that is a good thing but it just shows his feminine side. He isn’t fond of sports, except tennis. A good thing, for me. He’s not exactly funny but he tries. I tell him whenever his jokes are corny. He’s never afraid to cry. He loves kids, and, unlike my mother, he could be very affectionate to them. And again, he was the one, not my mother, who excessively cared and showed deep concern for me when I was a kid. Although he never talks about my sexuality, he seems to love and accept me for who I am. I don’t have to talk with him in formal terms. He knows I respect him even though I talk to him as if he is just a friend, an equal, someone the same age as me. See, Chris, that wasn’t so hard. Now that I think about it, I wouldn’t like to have anyone else for a father.

No, everything’s not okay.

April 3, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Posted in Melancholia | 9 Comments

Wow, I just cried myself out at the end of the film An Affair to Remember. Cary Grant, you never fail to tug my lonely heartstrings. I know, you were already old during the 1950s but you still had that good ol’ charm you had had during your His Girl Friday and Only Angels Have Wings times. Indeed, I am such a sap for old romantic films. Usually, I just can’t help myself but smile the whole time. I cried my heart out watching The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and Two for the Road. And my hopes were uplifted by the likes of Funny Face and my heart crushed by Brief Encounter and Letter from an Unknown Woman.

Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories. And we’ve already missed the spring.

Maybe, I needed those waterworks. It made me feel a whole lot better. Considering how the film becomes a tad too melodramatic for my taste by the second half, maybe everything that has (and has not) been going on in my life partially had something to do with my crying all over a sudden in the end. The ending, of course, is too perfect. The way Nickie (Cary Grant) found out about the… The way Terry (the lovely Deborah Kerr) tried to keep it all in for Nickie… It was all just too great but I got to thinking that, given a different place and time watching it, maybe I wouldn’t have cried that much and maybe it wouldn’t have affected me that much the way it did yesterday. And I’m usually numb and heartless.

I did need the cry. Things haven’t been going the way I wanted them to. It’s the same thing every fucking day. I am still regretting the decisions I have made in the past. The consequences are now slowly taking their form, beginning to rear their ugly heads. I rarely go out with my closest friends; our their busy lives may have something to do with it but I just feel like we’re slowly drifting apart. Whenever I have someone to talk to, it’s usually I who does all the listening while they do all the talking. Seldomly, the other way around. Of course, life will never go the way I want it to, not with the kind of luck I have, but at least give me some reassurance and something someone to keep me going. Forgive me for I wallow in depression and self-pity but, hey, I rarely post stuff like this. And I just need to let it out.

I have made the wrong choices. Now, I’m stuck with what I have chosen. Practicality preferred over passion is never a good thing. I am suddenly reminded of the horrifying final scene in Il Posto, when the young hero innately realizes that he’ll be doing all this office work for the rest of his life.

Yes, you say I’m too young. You say that I still have time. But how about the three years I have wasted? You say I’m too young but, the little things I ask for, others already had at the age of 15, 16, 17, 18. Still counting the years, still waiting. What if I never left the Philippines? Would things have gone better for me? What if I chose that instead of this? What if I just seized the moment instead of waiting passively for the time to come? What if I just went against the tides instead of going along with its flow? Then again, that’s not my way of doing things. I guess, there’s no point in contemplating on what I can never change and go back to.

Too envious of all the things that other people have. Talent, skill, intelligence, character, luck, love, more opportunities. Is it too much to ask to have at least one of those? Even if it’s just love? Is that too much to ask? Maybe I shouldn’t be comparing myself too much to others and what they have but wouldn’t you feel the same if all the people you know are getting along better off than you are, getting way ahead of you, while you are still not even there yet?

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